Video Killed The Radio Star by Duncan MacMaster #BookReview #BlogTour (@FuriousDShow) @fahrenheitpress @damppebbles #VKTRSBook #damppebblesblogtours

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“Money in the bank and his dream girl on his arm – life was looking pretty sweet for Kirby Baxter. 

Of course it couldn’t last. Where would the fun be in that? This is a sequel after all.

After solving the murder of a movie starlet the previous year, Kirby is doing his best to live down his burgeoning reputation as part-time Interpol agent and amateur sleuth.

Then reality TV comes knocking next door.

Million Dollar Madhouse is a reality TV show where a bunch of washed up celebrities are thrown together in a dilapidated mansion while their attempts to renovate the building are broadcast 24/7 for the viewers delight.

Kirby’s quiet town is thrown into chaos by the arrival of camera crews, remote control video drones and a cast of characters including disgraced actress Victoria Gorham, political shock-jock Bert Wayne and reality TV royalty Kassandra Kassabian.

When one of the cast members turns up dead the local police turn to the only celebrity detective in town for help and draft an unwilling Kirby into their investigation.

The first body is only the beginning of another rip-roaring adventure for Kirby Baxter and with Gustav his loyal driver/valet/bodyguard/gardener//chef/ass-kicker at his side, our hero plunges into the fray with his usual stunning displays of deductive reasoning and sheer bloody luck.”

I’m thrilled today to be taking part in the blog tour for Video Killed The Radio Star by Duncan MacMaster. My thanks to Emma Welton at damp pebbles blog tours for inviting me to take part and to Fahrenheit Press for my copy of the book, which I have reviewed honestly and impartially.

Oh, I’m so late with my post today due to a series of unforeseen circumstances so let’s see if I can get it in just under the wire. Huge apologies to Emma and Duncan for not getting this up earlier  but better late than never.

This book is not at all what I was expecting, it was much more light-hearted and fun than I anticipated, but boy, did I enjoy it! I haven’t read the first book featuring Kirby Baxter, but this did not impact my appreciation of this novel at all, it completely works as a standalone, but I will definitely be going back to catch up on the previous adventure because, from the clues and details referred to in this book, it sounds like a fabulous tale and I really want to find out how Kirby and Gustav meet.

With regard to this book, it had everything you could want from a tongue-in-cheek crime caper. A cast of wonderful and varied characters who ranged from the lovable to the detestable; a really fiendish crime to be puzzled over and which keeps you guessing to the end; a suitably exciting back drop – this time a reality TV makeover show – to provide plenty of outlandish opportunities for exotic methods of murder; and a charismatic and clever sleuth to bring the whole thing to a satisfying conclusion.

Kirby Baxter is a private eye that I can really get invested in. He was wonderfully Sherlockian (is that a word? I guess it is now!) in his methods, but without the condescension and inflated self-regard, with a touch of the Jonathan Creeks thrown in for good measure, set in an environment which would grace an episode of Midsomer Murders. All of the ingredients for the perfect stew of my favourite detective shows wrapped up in a fun crime caper. He also has the best sidekick in detective history, who I totally fell in love with, despite the fact he never utters a single word throughout the novel.

I raced through the book, with no clue who had committed the crime, and not really caring that much because I was just enjoying the ride, although by the end I was desperate to find out whodunnit, just because I knew we were going to have one of those fabulous scenes where the detective gets everyone in a room together at the end for the big reveal. This book ticks every box for traditional sleuthing fans. I loved it.

Video Killed the Radio Star is out now in both e-book and paperback formats and you can buy a copy here.

For details of the rest of the fantastic bloggers taking part in the tour, check out the tour poster below:

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About the Author

Author Picture- Duncan MacMaster

Duncan MacMaster is a writer, pop-culture blogger, and film school survivor from the untamed wilds of Eastern Canada.

When he’s not concocting plots for Kirby Baxter to unravel he’s posting rants and rages about the business behind pop-culture on his blog.

Connect with Duncan:

Twitter: @FuriousDShow

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Death on the River by Clare Chase #BookReview #BlogBlitz (@ClareChase) @bookouture #DeathOnTheRiver #NetGalley

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“Meet Tara Thorpe – she’s Cambridge Police’s newest recruit… but her dark past is never far behind her. 

When a body is pulled from the dank and dangerous fens on the outskirts of town, everybody assumes it was a tragic accident. But Detective Tara Thorpe, newly joined and determined to prove herself, suspects there’s more to the story.

Tara is desperate to investigate further, but her supervisor Patrick Wilkins has other ideas. He would rather die than let this ambitious upstart show him up – even if it means some digging in Tara’s secret past to keep her under his thumb. After all, it’s not like he can report her – everyone knows that his boss Detective Garstin Blake and Tara have a history…

When another body is found, it becomes clear that there’s a killer on the loose. Could the murders be linked to the secrets that Tara has been keeping from her team… and can she solve the case before another innocent dies?”

Given how much I loved Clare’s first book featuring Tara Thorpe, Murder on the Marshes (read my review of that book here), I am thrilled to be taking part today in the blog tour for the next in the series, Death on the River. My huge thanks to Noelle Holten, of publishers Bookouture, for inviting me on to the tour and for my copy of the book via NetGalley, which I have reviewed honestly.

I just want to pass comment and give my congratulations on another stonking cover which really evokes the spirit of the Cambridgeshire fens and the setting of the book. People say, you should never judge a book by its cover, but I am afraid I often do and this is another one I would love to have on my shelves. I love Bookouture books, they always feel lovely and solid in your hand – you know you are holding a piece of quality, nothing something flimsy. Mad, I know, but these things matter to a book lover!

Although this is the second book in the Tara Thorpe series, it could easily be read as a standalone without losing anything of the plot. Clare gives you enough of the back story for you to understand what you need to without it feeling like an information dump. However, I would highly recommend you read the first book to get deeper background on the characters and also because it is just so damn good, you will be missing out if you don’t!

The second book starts four years after the end of the first. In the interim, Tara has left her journalism career behind and has retrained as a police officer, newly joining the CID unit who investigated the crimes in book one, which brings her back into the orbit of DI Blake and other characters from the first book. I’ll admit, I was a little disappointed to hear that Tara was no longer a journalist, as I thought that brought a unique perspective to the investigation in book one. However, I need not have worried as Tara has brought all her journalistic skills to her new role in the police and this gives rise to an interesting aspect of the book where her old skills both compliment and clash with her new job. Her insatiable curiosity and dogged determination to get to the bottom of events being both  help and a hindrance.

There are so many different aspects of this book that I really enjoyed, the criminal investigation being only one of them. The mystery is very well-crafted from the dramatic opening scene to the eventual denouement, it is sufficiently tricky to keep the reader guessing and hold our attention throughout. The pace of the story is not frantic but even and compelling and I was totally engrossed in the investigation, even though the first victim is not a particularly likeable character. There were lots of interesting details to the crime – I was left wondering where the author gets her ideas from!

An equally riveting aspect of the book was the relationships between Tara and her fellow officers, particularly Blake and Wilkins. Anyone who has read the first book will recall that it appeared there was a possible relationship developing between Tara and DI Blake, and I was pleased to note that vestiges of this had carried through to this book, leaving a residual tension between the two. The author cleverly uses this as a plot device to influence the professional relationship between the two, as we wonder whether Blake’s decisions to back Tara are due to his professional respect for her, or his personal feelings. I love the fact that there is an open will they, won’t they question left hanging.

Wilkins is a different kettle of fish altogether and the man becomes more and more unpleasant as the book progresses. His dislike and, possible jealousy and resentment towards Tara grows and grows to the point where it is impacting on his objectivity and decision-making and he is in danger of putting his own career at risk. It is always good to have a character you love to hate in a book!

The book is written largely from Tara’s perspective and, as a protagonist, she continues to grow on me as she remains independent, determined and feisty and true to her own values, no matter what is thrown at her. I love a strong, female role model in a book, and this one certainly knows who she is and what she stands for.

The final thing which really makes this book stand out in the genre for me is the setting. It is as much a character in the book as any of the people and plays a big part in the stories. The plot simply would not work as well anywhere else and, just as in book one, the suppressing, empty isolation and loneliness of the Fens adds so much to the atmosphere of the story, and is brilliantly and vividly brought to life by the writing.

For some reason, this series has really grabbed me and I really look forward to reading more. Another paperback is on its way to add to the shelf for repeat enjoyment.

Death on the River is out now and you can buy your copy here.

Please do support the rest of the blog blitz for this book by following it over to the other blogs listed below:

Death on the River - Blog Tour

About the Author

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Clare Chase writes mysteries set in her home city of Cambridge and is fascinated by the location’s contrasts and contradictions. She’s worked in diverse settings – from the 800-year-old University to one of the local prisons – and lived everywhere from the house of a Lord to a slug-infested flat. The terrace she now occupies presents a good happy medium.

As well as writing, Clare loves family time, art and architecture, cooking, and of course, reading other people’s books. She lives with her husband and teenage children, and currently works at the Royal Society of Chemistry.

Connect with Clare:

Website: https://clarechase.com

Facebook: Clare Chase Author

Twitter: @ClareChase_

Instagram: Clare Chase Author

Goodreads: Clare Chase

Palm Beach Finland by Antti Tuomainen #BookReview #BlogTour (@antti_tuomainen) @OrendaBooks @annecater #RandomThingsTours #PalmBeachFinland

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“Jan Nyman, the ace detective of the covert operations unit of the National Central Police, is sent to a sleepy seaside town to investigate a mysterious death. Nyman arrives in the town dominated by a bizarre holiday village – the ‘hottest beach in Finland’. The suspect: Olivia Koski, who has only recently returned to her old hometown. The mission: find out what happened, by any means necessary. With a nod to Fargo, and the darkest noir, Palm Beach, Finland is both a page-turning thriller and a wicked black comedy about lust for money, fleeing dreams and people struggling at turning points in their lives … from the ‘King of Helsinki Noir’.”

I’m delighted to be on the blog tour today for Palm Beach Finland by Antti Tuomainen. My huge thanks to Anne Cater from Random Things Tours for inviting me to take part and to Orenda Books for my copy of the novel which I have reviewed honestly.

What to say about this genius book? When I found myself simultaneously gasping and laughing guilty at the the opening scenes of this book, I knew from the beginning that I was going to adore it, and everything about the rest of the book cemented this opinion.

This book is the wrong way round. You know from the very beginning who committed the crime. You might think this would spoil the tension of the book but it absolutely does not. For a start, we have no idea who is the victim is, and nor does anyone else. And despite the fact that the perpetrator is not a mystery, there are enough other twists, turns and gasp-out-loud surprises throughout the book to keep you turning the pages until the wee, small hours.

The cover of this book is perfect and would have me intrigued enough to pick up the book on its own, because the setting of this book is what makes it for me. Jorma Leivo is determined to develop the perfect beach resort on the coast of Finland for those people who don’t like it too hot (I actually know a few people to whom this idea would be appealing and I wonder why this place doesn’t actually exist), complete with Florida-style chalets painted pastel colours and named in homage to Miami Vice, cocktails, sun umbrellas, plastic flamingoes and water sports. The fact that the palm trees are plastic might give a hint at the struggle he is up against, but Jorma is nothing if not optimistic and determined – in fact, his absolute determination to bring his vision to life is part of the problem. The setting sets up limitless opportunities for humour, which is the heart of my delight in this book.

The humour is on the dark side, as this is a crime story after all, and the author does not shy away from the violence associated with this genre, but a lot of it is comical. Some of the scenes border on farce and had me laughing out loud, often into my hand as I felt like I shouldn’t really be laughing at all but I could not help myself. There are an array of fantastic characters in this book which tell the story from their own perspectives in alternating chapters and that you won’t be able to help but fall in love with, even the really terrible people. The two bumbling criminal henchmen who set the whole chain of events rolling with their ineptitude in the first place. The psychopathic brother hell bent on revenge. The undercover policeman posing as a holidaying maths teacher as he windsurfs his way to solving the crime. The array of small town dwellers with big hopes and dreams, They all bring this story to joyous life and I absolutely loved all of them by the end of the book.

I don’t read enough translated fiction but, if it was all as good as this, I would read more. I wish my Finnish was good enough to allow me to read this in the original but the translator has done a wonderful job of bringing the spirit of Antti’s story to life in English so we can enjoy it seamlessly. I think this is a book that has layers and layers of nuance to peel back over multiple readings and, consequently, the paperback is now on pre-order so that I can enjoy it again and again. I can’t recommend it highly enough – life-affirming pleasure in paperback form. Books like this are the reason I blog.

Palm Beach Finland is out now and you can buy your copy here.

This book is taking a month-long tour throughout October so there are plenty of fantastic reviews to choose from. If you would like to get an alternative perspective on the book from one of my fellow bloggers, check out the tours dates below:

First Palm Beach BT Poster

About the Author

Antti Tuomainen

Finnish Antti Tuomainen was an award-winning copywriter when he made his literary debut in 2007 as a suspense author. The critically acclaimed My Brother’s Keeper was published two years later. In 2011, Tuomainen’s third novel, The Healer, was awarded the Clue Award for ‘Best Finnish Crime Novel of 2011’ and was shortlisted for the Glass Key Award. Two years later, in 2013, the Finnish press crowned Tuomainen the ‘King of Helsinki Noir’ when Dark as My Heart was published. With a piercing and evocative style, Tuomainen was one of the first to challenge the Scandinavian crime genre formula, and his poignant, dark and hilarious The Man Who Died became an international bestseller, shortlisting for the Petrona and Last Laugh Awards.

Connect with Antti:

Website: http://anttituomainen.com

Facebook: Antti Tuomainen Official

Twitter: @antti_tuomainen

Instagram: @anttituomainen

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Without Rules by Andrew Field #BookReview #BlogBlitz (@AFwithoutrules) @damppebbles #WithoutRules #damppebblesblogtours

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“When a professional hitman turns up at Candy’s World to hide, China Mackie discovers her plan to flee from her abusive father has tragically backfired. A gruesome bloodbath has left four people dead on the streets of a northern city centre on a cold wet Sunday morning. China knows she’s next to die. Unless she is more ruthless than everyone else. She must improvise fast. Seduce her father’s assassin. Plead her case so he helps her escape in a fight to the death where rules don’t matter but the consequences do.”

I’m thrilled to be one of the blogs kicking off the blog blitz today for Without Rules by Andrew Field. My thanks to Emma Welton at damp pebbles blog tours for inviting me to take part and to the author for my copy of the book which I have reviewed honestly.

Okay. Right. I’ve had to take a little pause and a breather and a step back to think about what I am going to say about this book before I write my review because it has me, in the words of the great AC/DC, a little thunderstruck.

(By the way, if I may digress slightly for a second, I saw this version of Thunderstruck on YouTube a couple of weeks ago which is just genius, I’ve put the video at the end of the post, if you are interested.)

Anyway, now that I have had time to digest the book, I can say that it is one of the most original, interesting, disturbing, gripping, challenging and memorable books I have read this year.

I’ll be honest, when I started it I wasn’t’t sure if I was going to enjoy it and if I’d picked it up before I started blogging, I might have put it to one side to come back to later, but reading to a deadline forces you to persevere and I am really glad I did because once I got in to it I was totally hooked right through to the end.

Looking back, I can pinpoint the issue I had at the start. I started reading this book late at night when I was quite tired, and it was a mistake because this book requires a certain degree of concentration, especially at the beginning when we are introduced to a barrage of new characters in quick succession without a huge amount of introduction as to who they are and we learn a host of startling facts about them extremely quickly. It’s an information overload, verbal machine-gunning if you will, that requires a wide awake brain to process.

Once I came back to the book in the bright light of day, I was quickly sucked in to the story. The plot is extremely fragmented, it jumps around like a demented firecracker and you have to be quick to follow it, but I don’t mind a bit of an intellectual challenge in a novel. Beats sudoku for keeping the old grey matter from atrophying.

None of the characters in this book are going to win any popularity contests. They are all fairly damaged, and many of them are downright nasty, but they are written with personality and intelligence so, likeable or not, you want to keep reading about them and hope for either their redemption or their downfall.

This book is fairly blunt and brutal. There is violence from the very beginning, very bald sexual imagery, rape, graphic murder, sexual abuse and a lot of other stuff that might trigger the more sensitive reader. The author seems unapologetic about it, which makes more sense as you read through and learn more about the characters and their past and what influences their behaviour but be warned. If this were an album it would be labelled ‘Parental Advisory.’

I would normally tell you whether or not I enjoyed this book but I’m not sure ‘enjoy’ is the word I would use here. This book smacks you in the teeth and forces you to pay attention. I was carried on the journey, through all the twists, turns, inversions and barrel rolls, right to the end. It is one I will remember and I am glad I read it. I would recommend it to people with open minds and strong constitutions.

Without Rules is out on 15 October and you can order your copy here.

Make sure you follow the rest of the blitz and see what my fellow bloggers think f the book:

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About the Author

andrew field

Andrew Field has spent most of his working life as a PR and marketing consultant helping raise the profiles of others. Now the roles are reversed as he steps into the spotlight as the author of Without Rules, a crime thriller about vulnerable people forced to do bad things to escape evil people. “Authors, by the nature of what they do, are relatively introverted. They work in isolation. Inhabit imaginary worlds of their own creation. They can spend ages staring at a computer screen bringing their characters to life. Then they have to become a different person to promote their work and market themselves. Writing is the easy part compared to the marketing, especially when crime fiction has become a very crowded marketplace.”

“From my point of view, professional PR people operate best from behind the scenes. They should never become the story otherwise you’re deflecting attention away from the messages you’re trying to communicate,” says Andrew. “The New Labour experiment, for example, was doomed the minute Tony Blair’s media guru Alistair Campbell generated his own headlines. Bragged about ‘spin’.  Believed his own hype. Ditto Anthony “The Mooch” Scaramucci’s 10-day tenure as the shortest-serving White House communications director in history – and his “off the record” expletive-ridden rant about his colleagues in Donald Trump’s White House.”

As a PR, Andrew memorably handled Boddingtons Bitter during its “Cream of Manchester” heyday, developing innovative sports and cultural media partnerships with newspapers and TV stations for the beer brand – but also PR’d a fashion entrepreneur who was a convicted armed bank robber and a property developer who did eighteen months prison time for blackmail. “Having a diverse range of clients keeps it interesting. They are all different but the core requirement is to be seen as a believable and trusted information source ready to take advantage of PR opportunities as and when they arise. As a novelist, you look to do exactly the same with your work and yourself.”

“The catalyst for Without Rules was a friend testifying against her father in an abuse case. Although the prosecution was successful, she can never really escape the consequences of what happened to her. She has to find a way of coping for the rest of her life while he was sentenced to two and half years.” 

Andrew says crime fiction has a duty to try and educate and as well as entertain. “The memorable books are the ones you’re still thinking about 48-hours after you finished reading.”

Andrew lives, works and plays in Manchester, England, Europe, with his partner, Catherine. He has been a trade journalist in Southampton in his youth. He owned a PR agency in the nineties and early noughties and is now an independent PR, marketing and publishing consultant looking forward to the challenge of becoming the story with the publication of Without Rules.

Connect with Andrew:

Website: http://andrewfield.info

Facebook: Andrew Field

Twitter: @AFwithoutrules

Instagram: @afnoir_

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The River Runs Red by Ally Rose #BookReview #BlogTour (@AllyRoseAuthor) @fahrenheitpress @damppebbles #TheRiverRunsRed #Blogtober18 #damppebblestours

The River Runs Red cover

“Berlin is in the midst of its worst winter in decades.

Against the backdrop of freezing temperatures, blizzards and snowstorms, the city refuses to grind to a halt. Lurking within the shadows is a Stasi victim, out for revenge against the former East German informants known as ‘The Ears’. Their dark secrets are about to be exposed.

A mix of ice and water and a single gunshot, provides the ultimate payback.

With the Millennium approaching, Hanne Drais, the criminal psychologist working within the Berlin Mitte Police team led by the irascible Oskar Kruger and his laid-back sidekick, Stefan Glockner, are seeking the perpetrator of these violent crimes.

Who is the man they’ve nicknamed Snowflake?

Who is turning the river red?”

Today is my turn on the blog tour for The River Runs Red by Ally Rose, which is the third Hanne Drais novel by this author. My thanks to Emma Welton at damp pebbles tours for inviting me to take part and to the publisher for my copy of the book which I have reviewed honestly and impartially.

Although this is the third novel featuring Hanne Drais, I had not read the first two books and it did not affect my enjoyment of this book at all, it can easily be read as a standalone novel. So now we’ve confirmed that, on to the review!

This book is a dual timeline set just over a decade apart in Berlin. One timeline is set at the turn of the Millennium, where a series of violent murders of former Stasi informants is baffling the police, as there appears to be a link between them and they believe there may be a serial killer at work. Criminal psychologist, Hanne Drais, gives the police a unique perspective on the murders to help solve the crimes. The other timeline follows East German Olympic rower, Rudy Meixner as he is subjected to Stasi interrogation following the defection of his father to West Berlin, and what comes afterwards.

The two timelines are deftly woven throughout the book as the past events in East Berlin before the fall of the Berlin Wall feed into the later investigation of the serial murders of Stasi ‘ears’ after the unification of Germany. The clues to the identity of the ‘Snowflake’ are scattered throughout the book very cleverly. I thought I knew who it was, then I wasn’t sure, then I thought I’d got it again, then something else made me doubt myself. The plotting is very deft in this regard; I wasn’t 100% sure until the end, and even then there were unanswered questions.

The characters were really fascinating, particularly Rudy who had definite light and shade to his character that made me warm to him but also doubt him at the same time. Hanne is also an interesting character, and we are given insights into her personal life as well as her work. I really liked the fact that she is a woman who is far from traditional, but very strong and secure in her own skin, and her abilities.

Undoubtedly, the best part of the novel for me was the historical setting and the vivid descriptions of what life was like in East Germany during partition. The author really does an amazing job in this novel of bringing to life the horror of the torture that was perpetrated by the Stasi against people who were considered enemies of the state and traitors, whilst at the same time being horribly corrupt themselves. The stifling atmosphere of fear that must have pervaded every day life, as neighbour informed on neighbour and no one ever felt safe, permeates the book and really sets an amazing atmosphere for a tense thriller. I thought it was a fantastic back drop for the story and really propelled the plot and kept me gripped throughout.

The book’s grip is subtle, done with slow and insidious horror rather than lots of bangs and explosions so, if you like your thrillers full of car chases and noise, this is not for you. However, if you prefer something more intelligent and challenging, this will suit you down to the ground. This book is food for thought. There is a huge degree of moral ambiguity in the plot as the murder victims are shown to be evil and you wonder whether the killer really deserves to be punished, or pitied. This is a book requiring some brain power and a questioning of one’s own integrity.

If I had any quibbles with this book, one would be that having dates at the top of the chapters would be useful to keep the two timelines straight; at times I found myself at the beginning of the chapter trying to work out where in time we were. The other niggle I had was an editing one; there were a couple of places where I felt there was a little too much telling, rather than showing, and also that the author was spoon feeding us facts rather than leaving some inferences for the reader to work out themselves. These are small concerns, however, and easily fixable and would not stop me highly recommending this book.

This was an enjoyable and thought-provoking read and i would not hesitate to pick up more by this author.

The River Runs Red is out now and you can buy a copy here.

To follow the rest of the tour, check out the details below:

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About the Author

I’ve always been interested in writing crime stories and with the Cold War era, there is such a rich tapestry to draw from; especially the notorious and quelling Stasi reign in East Germany. The fall of the Berlin Wall and the Iron Curtain, gives a contrast between the different worlds and any past crimes are held to account in a unified Germany.

Berlin is one of my favourite cities, and I’ve spent time living and discovering this diverse city and its surrounding areas. Seeing my characters in familiar places, they seem to come to life.

Hope you enjoy my Hanne Drais books.

Connect with Ally:

Twitter: @AllyRoseAuthor

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Burning Secrets by Ruth Sutton #BookReview #BlogBlitz #BlogTour (@ruthsutton) @fahrenheitpress @damppebbles #BurningSecrets #damppebblestours #Blogtober18

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“It’s the spring of 2001 and Foot & Mouth disease is raging across Cumbria. 

Twelve-year-old Helen Heslop is forced to leave her family farm and move in with relatives in a nearby town because the strict quarantine means she can’t travel back and forth to school in case she inadvertently helps spread the disease.

As the authorities and the local farming communities try desperately to contain the outbreak, tensions run high and everyone’s emotions are close to the surface.

And then Helen disappears.

The police search expands all over the northwest coast where farms are barricaded and farming families have been plunged into chaos – not least the Heslop family, where potentially explosive fault lines are exposed.

Under the strain tensions build inside the police team too, where local DC Maureen Pritchard is caught between old school DI Bell and new broom DS Anna Penrose.

Will Helen survive? And can life for the Heslop family ever be the same, once burning secrets are discovered and old scores settled?”

I’m delighted today to be one of the blogs rounding of the blog blitz for Burning Secrets by Ruth Sutton. My thanks to Emma Welton at damp pebbles blog tours for inviting me to take part and to the author and publisher for my copy of the book which I have reviewed honestly and impartially.

This is a police procedural with a difference and the strongest part of the story for me is the dramatic backdrop of the terrible foot and mouth outbreak of 2001. The book really brings life the horrifying reality of the devastation this crisis wrought on the farming community, particularly in Cumbria where the book is set, as many farmers there barely eke out a living any way and this crisis brought many of them to breaking point. For people who know little about farming, this aspect of the book will be a real eye-opener.

As crime books go, this one is a bit of a slow burn, especially in the first half, although the tension definitely picks up in the second half. The case involves a missing girl and there is a lot of questioning and interviewing and not a huge amount of action to propel the book to begin with. I think the main problem was that I didn’t really feel that there was a lot of peril at the start, and it is the peril that really ramps up the tension in a book of this kind.

There wasn’t much introduction of the characters to begin with, which kept me at arms’ length from their stories to start with, although I did become more invested as we learnt more about them. It didn’t help that the majority of the characters were not particularly likeable, even the ones who we are supposed to be afraid for. The most developed and relatable of the characters were actually the police officers brought in to investigate the disappearance. They were all given very strong and individual personalities and I warmed to them all, even the awkward ones, and they carried this book for me.

This was a book I enjoyed passing a few hours with, I thought the story line was original and well-developed and the police procedural side was very interesting. I definitely was gripped through the second half, although I was not 100% satisfied by the ending. Entertaining, but not edge of your seat gripping. However, I would be interested in seeing what else the author can do.

Burning Secrets is out now and you can get a copy here.

To read more reviews, check out the other blogs taking part in the blitz as detailed below:

Burning-secrets banner

About the Author

ruth sutton

Ruth is a very independent person, which – like many things – is good up to a point, but can get tricky sometimes. She lives in a very beautiful place, but it’s a long way to a cinema, or a big supermarket, and if the time comes when she can’t or doesn’t want to drive, she’ll have to move as there’s no public transport. She qualifies for a bus pass, but there aren’t any buses. Her daughter and her family live quite close by, and she loves to see her two grandchildren. After decades on her own, she has a partner whom she loves. They each have their own house, 40 minutes apart, and this life style suits them both. Ruth wrote her first novel after she was 60.

In addition, Ruth has self-published a trilogy entitled Between the Mountains and the Sea; A Good Liar tells the story of Jessie who risks career and independence with a love affair, whilst her secret past draws ever closer. Forgiven is set among the coal mines and fells of the Cumberland coast. Jessie’s struggle for happiness continues. Fallout features the nuclear disaster at Windscale, which brings a compelling stranger into Jessie’s world.

Connect with Ruth:

Website: http://ruthsutton.co.uk/wordpress/

Twitter: @ruthsutton

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Ravens Gathering by Graeme Cumming #BookReview (@GraemeCumming63) @matadorbooks @LoveBooksGroup @JgoodukJill #RavensGathering #Blogtober18

Ravens-Gathering-Cover

“As she let her gaze drift around her, she saw that there were more birds. Perhaps a dozen or so, perched among the trees that stood on the edge of the clearing. And yet more were arriving, swooping down through the gap overhead and landing on branches that overlooked them. The birds weren’t threatening, yet the sight of them all coming together in this dark and isolated spot was unnerving. Tanya reached a hand out towards Martin, and was relieved to feel him take it. She felt him move in behind her. After the uncertainty she’d experienced with him in a similar position only a few moments ago, she recognised the irony of her reaction. His closeness offered security.
“You know what they are, don’t you?”

A stranger’s arrival in a small village coincides with a tragic accident. For the Gates family, in particular, it’s more than a coincidence, but unease increases following a brutal attack. As tensions rise, a dark past returns to haunt them and others, while newcomers to the village are drawn into a mystery with terrifying consequences.

And only a select few know why the ravens are gathering.”

Wow. I’ve been left a little adrift as to know where to start reviewing this book. It is an impossible book to categorise and has taken me to places that were totally unexpected before I read it. It has slightly blown my mind and I am considering best how to convey my thoughts about it adequately in this post.

Firstly, I have to take a minute to apologise to Graeme, and to Kelly at Love Books Group Tours, for the delay in posting this review. I was supposed to be part of Graeme’s tour but somehow some confusion happened in my addled brain and I missed my spot. It has never happened before and it won’t happen again. I blame hormones, as my diary system is normally failsafe, but I am mortified by my lapse. Sorry again, Graeme and Kelly.

On to the book, and what can I say. This novel was unlike anything I’ve read before, although it had elements of other books and movies I have loved in the past. At the beginning it made me think of The Wicker Man, then there was a part that brought to mind The Midwich Cuckoos by John Wyndham (one of my favourite authors ever). There was another scene later that gave me a flashback to Straw Dogs, but at the same time this book is something completely unique.

I was totally gripped from the beginning, with intrigue, interest, but mostly a creeping and unsettling tension that bloomed to full on horror as the book progressed, but for most of the book I could not tell you why I was so very unsettled. The  tension was insidious and all encompassing, but there was nothing overtly horrifying about the story to begin. This was why it reminded me of The Wicker Man, I think.

The plot was very twisty and confusing, but this was obviously deliberately done. I had no idea what was happening or who was trustworthy and who wasn’t, which made certain events in the book all the more unexpected and shocking when they came. A couple of times I had to go back and reread a couple of chapters after happenings further on had totally spun previous events on their head in the light of the new information. In fact, I think I need to reread the whole book now I know how it ends, so I can hoover up all the clues that I clearly missed the first time around. It is really cleverly structured; it’s not often I am so completely bamboozled by a book as I was by this one. I bet Graeme is really good at crosswords, although I think his brain might be a slightly scary place to be sometimes!

This book has elements of crime, horror, fantasy and the supernatural. In places it is very twisted and explicitly violent, but everything was done in support of the story and not gratuitously. The writing reminded me in a positive way of some of Stephen King’s work, and there can’t really be higher praise than that, since I believe King is pretty much a genius.

This book isn’t going to be for everyone, but for anyone who likes a creepy, Gothic horror of a novel with a supernatural twist, this is a must read. I think my friend, Jill Goodwin of Double Stacked Shelves would love it, maybe you will too.

Ravens Gathering is out now and you can buy a copy here.

My thanks to the author for my copy of the book which I have reviewed honestly and impartially.

About the Author

Graeme Cumming - Author

Graeme Cumming has spent most of his life immersed in fiction – books, TV and movies – turning to writing his own stories during his early teens.

He first realised he genuinely had some talent when he submitted a story to his English teacher, Christine Tubb, who raved about it.  The same story was published in the school magazine and spawned a series that was met with enthusiasm by readers.  Christine was subsequently overheard saying that if Graeme wasn’t a published author by the time he was 25, she’d eat her hat.  Sadly, she probably spent the next 25 years buying her groceries exclusively from milliners.  (Even more sadly, having left school with no clear direction in life, Graeme made no effort to keep in touch with any teachers, so has lost track of this source of great support and encouragement.)

Having allowed himself to be distracted (in no particular order) by girls, alcohol and rock concerts, Graeme spent little of his late teens and twenties writing.  A year-long burst of activity produced a first draft of a futuristic thriller, Beyond Salvage, which has since lain dormant, waiting for a significant edit.

With the onset of family life, opportunities to write became more limited (though it could be argued that he got his priorities wrong), until he reached his early forties, when he realised he hadn’t written anything for several years.  Deciding to become more focused, since then he has written regularly.

With his interests in story-telling sparked by an excessive amount of time sitting in front of a black and white television, his tastes are varied.  Influences ranged from the Irwin Allen shows (Voyage to the Bottom of the Sea, Lost in Space, etc.) to ITC series (The Saint, The Champions, Randall and Hopkirk (deceased) and so many more), so the common theme was action and adventure, but crossed into territories including horror, fantasy and science fiction as well as crime and espionage.

This diverse interest in fiction continued with reading books and his discovery of the magical world of cinema.  As a result, his stories don’t always fall into a specific genre, but are always written as thrillers.

Graeme’s first novel, Ravens Gathering, was published in 2012, and has been warmly received.

When not writing, Graeme is an enthusiastic sailor (and, by default, swimmer), and enjoys off-road cycling and walking.  He is currently Education Director at Sheffield Speakers Club, although he lives in Robin Hood country.  Oh yes, and he reads (a lot) and still loves the cinema.

Connect with Graeme (please do, he is extremely lovely!):
Facebook: Graeme Cumming