Blog Tour: Blood on the Tyne: Body Parts by Colin Garrow #BookReview

Blood on the Tyne Body Parts Feb 2020 Ebook

Newcastle, 1955. A death in the family brings nightclub singer Rosie Robson home to Newcastle, but her planned return to London hits a snag after she agrees to perform with her old band.

Learning the group’s previous singer left after an argument, Rosie begins to wonder if there might be a sinister reason behind the young woman’s disappearance. Uncovering the first in a series of grisly murders, Rosie decides to investigate, but in doing so, finds her own name has been added to the killer’s list…

I’m delighted to be taking part today in the blog tour for Blood on the Tyne: Body Parts by Colin Garrow, which is the first book in the Rosie Robson Mystery Series. My thanks to Emma Welton of damp pebbles blog tours for inviting me to take part and to the author for my digital copy of the book, which I have reviewed honestly and impartially.

So, this book is a short, sharp read of absolute joyous madness. Total hokum, but so engaging and fun that you really don’t mind it is in no way realistic. A really unusual and unique story of fairly brutal murders that is written in such a tongue in cheek and outrageous way that it was making me smile internally. I know that sounds really bizarre but there is no other way to describe it. You really need to read the book for yourself to find out what I mean.

There are two particular factors that really make this book. The first was the total immersion in the setting, which is some of the seedier parts of Newcastle. Because the main character is a pub singer and a lot of the book is set around the cheaper pubs and clubs of Newcastle, we are already prowling dark and dangerous streets at night, even before the series of grisly murders of young females begins. The author paints this world really well, it feels very authentic. He uses Geordie vernacular throughout, which sometimes in books can feel forced but here it feels very natural and fitting for the book, presumably because the author is born and bred in the area and is soaked in the speech patterns and turns of phrase, so it is not being forced. This may not be to everyone’s taste, especially if the speech of the North East is particularly alien to you, but I really enjoyed it and it enhanced, rather than detracted from, the story for me.

The second strong factor is the main character of Rosie. Tough and determined, with a no nonsense attitude and strong sense of self, she was perfectly developed and a great protagonist for the book. Look, what she gets away with is nonsense. No way would the police ever allow a civilian to be involved in the investigation in this way, but it is enjoyable nonsense for sure. If you can get your mind past the fact that her behaviour, and that of pretty much everyone else is ludicrous, the plot is gripping and fun and I really was swept along by it. In fact, this book reminded me of nothing so much as a dark, gory, sweary Nancy Drew story for adults. I can’t think of a better analogy. Anyone who grew up in the seventies on a diet of The Famous Five, Nancy Drew and the Hardy Boys, but whose tastes now turn more to the noir, will absolutely love this.

A crazy, entertaining read to while away a couple of hours, different from the run-of-the-mill crime novel. Great fun! I really look forward to seeing where this character goes next, I felt like there were interesting themes and storylines to be developed further for this character.

Blood on the Tyne: Body Parts is out now and you can buy a copy here.

Make sure you follow the rest of the tour for more great reviews and other content:

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About the Author

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True-born Geordie Colin Garrow grew up in a former mining town in Northumberland and has worked in a plethora of professions including taxi driver, antiques dealer, drama facilitator, theatre director and fish processor, and has occasionally masqueraded as a pirate.

Colin has published three stage plays, six adventures for middle grade readers, two books of short stories, the Watson Letters series and the Terry Bell Mysteries. His short stories have appeared in several literary mags, including: SN Review, Flash Fiction Magazine, The Grind, A3 Review, Inkapture and Scribble Magazine.

These days he lives in a humble cottage in North East Scotland where he writes novels, stories. poems and the occasional song.

Connect with Colin:

Website: https://colingarrow.org

Facebook: Colin Garrow The Writer

Twitter: @colingarrow

Instagram: @colinngarrow

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Blog Tour: Containment by Vanda Symon #BookReview

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Chaos reigns in the sleepy village of Aramoana on the New Zealand coast, when a series of shipping containers wash up on the beach and looting begins.

Detective Constable Sam Shephard experiences the desperation of the scavengers first-hand, and ends up in an ambulance, nursing her wounds and puzzling over an assault that left her assailant for dead.

What appears to be a clear-cut case of a cargo ship running aground soon takes a more sinister turn when a skull is found in the sand, and the body of a diver is pulled from the sea … a diver who didn’t die of drowning…

As first officer at the scene, Sam is handed the case, much to the displeasure of her superiors, and she must put together an increasingly confusing series of clues to get to the bottom of a mystery that may still have more victims…

I’m so delighted to be taking part today in the blog tour for Containment by Vanda Symon, the third book in the Sam Shepherd series. I loved the first two books, Overkill and The Ringmaster (you can find my reviews of those here and here.) and could not wait to read this one. My thanks to Anne Cater of Random Things Tours for offering me a place on the tour and to Karen Sullivan of Orenda Books for my digital copy of the book, which I have reviewed honestly and impartially.

Although this is the third instalment in the Sam Shepherd series, this book would work perfectly well as a standalone for anyone who is coming new to the novels. This book throws you straight in to the middle of the action and in to Sam’s distinctive world and character, as she finds herself immediately in the midst of an affray on a beach where locals are looting beached shipping containers after a wreck. Beaten, but coming back fighting, what at first seems like a minor issue of theft, spirals into something much more sinister as bodies begin to pile up, all linked to the wreck.

This author offers something new with every book, and this time we are confronted with the recovery and examination of a body dumped at sea (fascinating but fairly graphic and gruesome, steel your stomach), the law surrounding recovery of goods from wrecked cargo ships, the market in stolen valuables and the nefarious goings on of the local student population. All her books are packed with description and illuminating detail, meticulously researched and seamlessly stitched into the narrative until the setting and the world come to life for the reader through the text. At a time when we are all housebound, these are books that can take you to the other side of the world and immerse you in a totally different life for a few hours.

The books are well-paced, with short chapters that keep the momentum and new bits of evidence appear around every corner. In the same way a real investigation would unfold, this case starts out in one direction but gradually unfurls like a maze to become something entirely different, veering off in multiple directions and drawing the protagonists down a variety of obscure paths before they find the truth. It demonstrates how a mixture of great detective work, instinct and some pure luck can lead the police to the answer, and it may end up being more than one thing and very far from where they started. The plot is quite convoluted and complex, involving many different strands and characters, and the reader must focus to sort them out, mimicking the thought processes the police have to similarly go through to get there, but the writing is so accessible and flowing and the pace so quick that this is no chore.

Sam is a wonderful character, and she is the main draw for the books. She is small but feisty, brave, impetuous, honest but complicated, with a strong moral code and sense of loyalty. Some of her behaviour is totally outrageous, but she seems to get away with it because it comes from a positive place, a real desire to see natural justice served, which sometimes involves bending the rules. This does not always sit well with her boss, DI Johns, and the tension between the two of them plus throughout the text to add conflict. in addition, her personal life is no more straight forward, either with her blood family or in her romantic life. New developments add strain in this area, and things seem to be getting more complicated not simpler. There were certain matters in the book which were raised but not resolved, leaving me with theories about what might be coming in the next instalment, and eager to find out. However, do not fear, this book is perfectly concluded as a single story for readers who are not yet invested in this as a series, but i predict you will be once you sample Vanda’s writing.

The Sam Shepherd books are always a satisfying read, this one is no exception and I have added a physical copy to my collection. I eagerly await the next book in the series, and my next armchair visit to New Zealand.

Containment is available now and you can get your copy here.

Please make sure you check out the rest of the blogs taking part in the tour:

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About the Author

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Vanda Symon is a crime writer, TV presenter and radio host from Dunedin, New Zealand, and the chair of the Otago Southland branch of the New Zealand Society of Authors. The Sam Shephard series has climbed to number one on the New Zealand bestseller list, and also been shortlisted for the Ngaio Marsh Award for best crime novel. She currently lives in Dunedin, with her husband and two sons.

Connect with Vanda:

Website: http://vandasymon.com/index.php

Facebook: Vanda Simon

Twitter: @vandasymon

Instagram: @vandasymon

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Blog Tour: Deep Dark Night by Steph Broadribb #BookReview

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Working off the books for FBI Special Agent Alex Monroe, Florida bounty hunter Lori Anderson and her partner, JT, head to Chicago. Their mission: to entrap the head of the Cabressa crime family. The bait: a priceless chess set that Cabressa is determined to add to his collection.

An exclusive high-stakes poker game is arranged in the penthouse suite of one of the city’s tallest buildings, with Lori holding the cards in an agreed arrangement to hand over the pieces, one by one. But, as night falls and the game plays out, stakes rise and tempers flare.

When a power failure plunges the city into darkness, the building goes into lockdown. But this isn’t an ordinary blackout, and the men around the poker table aren’t all who they say they are. Hostages are taken, old scores resurface and the players start to die.

And that’s just the beginning…

I’m so happy to be taking part in the blog tour today for Deep Dark Night by Steph Braodribb, the fourth book in the Lori Anderson series. If you missed my catch up of the first three books in the series, you can find that post here. My thanks to Anne Cater of Random Things Tours for inviting me to take part and to Karen Sullivan at Orenda Books for my digital copy of the book, which I have reviewed honestly and impartially.

Just when you think you know what to expect from a series, an author pulls something totally unexpected out of the bag and really shakes things up. Having binge read the first three books in the Lori Anderson series over the past few weeks, I thought had got into the rhythm of Steph Broadribb’s story-telling and then, boom, she has veered off on a totally unexpected and exciting new course with this latest instalment.

Firstly, we have moved away from the sunny settings of Florida and California for this book and are now visiting the lakeside northern city of Chicago, with its skyscrapers, wide, urban streets and the eerie wave-free lake beaches. It is a place I have visited twice and the writing immediately transplanted me from locked-down rural Yorkshire, back to the Windy City.

And, whilst we are back in the world of ruthless mobsters, shady FBI agents and bounty hunters, the author completely alters the feel and tone of the book from the previous novels where Lori was pursuing her prey across open vistas, by presenting us here with a locked room mystery. This time she finds herself trapped in a sealed penthouse with a group of dangerous men, with both time and air running out and a rush to find out who amongst the group is not what they seem before tensions spiral out of control.

Anyone who enjoyed the film, ‘Molly’s Game’ starring Jessica Chastain will immediately relate to the plot set up here, with a young woman hosting a high roller private poker game, but here the background to the contest is far from simple, and throughout the plot we find out, along with Lori, how all of the players are interconnected and what has lead to the situation they all find themselves in when the penthouse locks down.

Placing everyone into a confined space, with spiralling danger and increasing paranoia and rising stakes works brilliantly to crank up the tension to breaking point, in the characters and, consequently, in the reader. You can feel the temperature rising, muscles flexing, heart rates and stress increasing and anticipate the explosion that is imminent. It compels the reader to keep flying through the pages, to see how long it is going to take someone to break and what will be the outcome when it does.

I love the fact that Steph continues to give JT more of his own plot in this book, rather than just appearing as a sidekick to Lori. He is establishing himself in importance and relevance in the minds of the reader, just as he is in the lives and hearts of Lori and Dakota. Here, as in book two, when he and Lori are separated we get to see the action from their distinct viewpoints and it gives us an interesting dual perspective on the story. Seeing how JT reacts when Lori is in peril, and vice versa, allows the reader an intimate insight in to the dynamics of their relationship, which increases our investment in it and, consequently, the value of what is at stake for us as the risk for them increases. It gives the reader a fantastic pay off by the end of the book.

Every volume of this series has drawn me further in to Lori Anderson’s world and made me care more and more about what happens to her and her little family group. I think this was my favourite book yet, it had echoes of all the great mystery books I love, combined with the excitement of this unique thriller series. I really love these books, and I look forward to what is to come next. These books are so different to a lot of what I usually read, I really can’t get enough of them.

Deep Dark Night is out now and you can get your copy here.

Make sure you follow the rest of this extended blog tour for some great reviews and other content:

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About the Author

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Steph Broadribb was born in Birmingham and grew up in Buckinghamshire. Most of her working life has been spent between the UK and USA. As her alter- ego – Crime Thriller Girl – she indulges in her love of all things crime fiction by blogging at crimethrillergirl.com, where she interviews authors and reviews the latest releases. She is also a member of the crime-themed girl band The Splice Girls.

Steph is an alumni of the MA Creative Writing (Crime Fiction) at City University London, and she trained as a bounty hunter in California, which inspired her Lori Anderson thrillers. She lives in Buckinghamshire surrounded by horses, cows and chickens.

Her debut thriller, Deep Down Dead, was shortlisted for the Dead Good Reader Awards in two categories, and hit number one on the UK and AU kindle charts. My Little Eye, her first novel under her pseudonym, Stephanie Marland, was published by Trapeze Books in April 2018.

Connect with Steph:

Website: https://crimethrillergirl.com

Facebook: Crime Thriller Girl

Twitter: @crimethrillgirl

Backlist: Lori Anderson Series by Steph Broadribb #BookReview

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The third in my backlist series is catching up with the previous three books in the Lori Anderson series by Steph Broadribb before I take part in the blog tour for her new book, Deep, Dark Night. I’m really enjoying this binge-reading of the backlist titles in a series, it’s the literary equivalent of a consuming Netflix box set over a single weekend.

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Lori Anderson is as tough as they come, managing to keep her career as a fearless Florida bounty hunter separate from her role as single mother to nine-year-old Dakota, who suffers from leukaemia.

But when the hospital bills start to rack up, she has no choice but to take her daughter along on a job that will make her a fast buck. And that’s when things start to go wrong. 

I listened to the first two of these novels on audio and this was a really great way to get to know the characters. The narrator, Jennifer Woodward, maintained a perfect Florida drawl for Lori throughout the book which brought the character sharply in to my mind’s eye. It made me realise that I never really read with the accent of the character in my mind when I read from text, and it gave the story an extra level of texture. I found myself hearing Lori talk in this voice throughout books three and four, despite the fact that I was reading rather than listening to them.

I’ve never read a book with a bounty hunter as the main character before, and a female one at that, so it was a delicious departure from the norm for me, and the book truly transported me to another world, as all really immersive novels should. I fell in love with Lori immediately, a tough, independent, determined woman, but we, the reader, also get to see her vulnerability with regards to her daughter, Dakota, and in her relationship with JT, as the book unfolds.

Having a bounty hunter, rather than a police officer, lawyer, detective or other member of the law-enforcement establishment, as the main character raises some interesting questions of where the moral lines sits between justice and revenge, where the line between good and bad blurs, and whether people can judge that for themselves according to their own moral code. Lori’s actions go beyond what you may perceive on paper as being truly law-abiding, but then you ask yourself what you would do in the same situation.

The book is packed front to back with drama, action and tension, as we criss cross the US from the mountains of West Virginia to the alligator-infested swamps of the Florida Everglades. It is a book that picks you up and runs with you from the opening pages, and doesn’t put you down until the last chapter. Even then, there is the tantalising prospect of the next case dropped in at the end, and you are left desperate to see where fate is going to take Lori next. A kinetic opening novel to a thrilling series.

Deep Down Dead is out now and you can get your copy here.

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Single-mother Florida bounty hunter Lori Anderson’s got an ocean of trouble on her hands. Her daughter Dakota is safe, but the little girl’s cancer is threatening a comeback, and Lori needs JT Dakota’s daddy and the man who taught Lori everything alive and kicking.

Problem is, he’s behind bars, and heading for death row. Desperate to save him, Lori does a deal, taking on off-the-books job from shady FBI agent Alex Monroe – bring back on-the-run felon, Gibson ‘The Fish’ Fletcher, and JT walks free. This is one job she’s got to get right, or she’ll lose everything…

So, we’re back with Lori and now she is faced with the reality of the love of her life in jail awaiting trial for murders he didn’t commit and at risk of facing the electric chair. Despite the ordeal she and her daughter, Dakota, have just faced in book one, Lori now has to leave Dakota behind and travel to San Diego on a mission for a dodgy FBI agent who has promised to arrange for JT to be exonerated if she brings in an escaped felon.

This novel adds a new dimension to the narrative by having us follow two timelines, one led by Lori and her attempts to track down the criminal in California, and the other charting the trials and hardships JT is suffering in jail. We also meet a new central character, a PI named Red who lives on a houseboat and has helped Lori in the past. I have to say, Red quickly became one of my favourite characters and I fell a tiny bit in love with him. If he were to be cast in a movie, he would be played by Sam Elliot, and I refuse to entertain any other suggestions.

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So, again, we have Lori dashing around in California, trying to track down the missing ‘bad guy,’ having to work as part of a team of other bounty hunters she doesn’t know that goes against her instincts. She is trying to work out who she can trust, who is on the make and whether the facts she has been given are the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth. Of course, they aren’t, the lines between right and wrong, justice and injustice bleed in to one another. the right people don’t always end up winning and Lori is muddling through the best she can, relying on her own moral code and what is best for her daughter and her partner. You can’t help but get taken along as she battles the outside enemies, and the demons within, whilst only relying on her own skills, smarts and the three people in the world she knows she can trust.

The books are fast-paced and quite bloody, with lots of devious twists and turns of fate, and the author is really excellent at ramping up the peril. This book is mad, extreme entertainment, the equivalent of an action-movie in novel form and I raced to the end to find out if everyone I cared about made it out alive and free. Fantastic, adrenaline-fuelled excitement, perfect for getting your heart pumping while you sit on the couch.

If this review has tickled your fancy, you can get a copy of the book by following this link.

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A price on her head. A secret worth dying for. 48 hours to expose the truth…

Single-mother bounty-hunter Lori Anderson finally has her family back together, but her new-found happiness is shattered when she’s snatched by the Miami Mob – and they want her dead. Rather than a bullet, they offer her a job: find the Mob’s ‘numbers man’ who’s in protective custody after being forced to turn federal witness against them. If Lori succeeds, they’ll wipe the slate clean and the price on her head – and those of her family – will be removed. If she fails, they die.

With North due in court in 48 hours, Lori sets off across Florida, racing against the clock to find him and save her family. Only in this race the prize is more deadly – and the secret she shares with JT more dangerous – than she ever could have imagined.

In this race only the winner gets out alive…

The author gets really ambitious in this book, when Lori gets blackmailed into doing a job for the head honcho of the Miami Mob, a man whose vendetta has been haunting her since the events of book one and who she needs to get off her back if she is ever going to manage a quiet life with JT and their daughter, Dakota. That possibility seems to get further and further away throughout the course of this novel, as Lori is once again separated from JT and her daughter, chasing down a mobster-turned-rat, with only 48 hours to find him.

Steph keeps finding ways to ramp up the stakes with every book, and finding new ways of testing Lori and her loyalties. She has to, once again, involve herself with Alex Munroe, the FBI agent who has his own agenda and whose motives she can never 100% trust. Again, nothing is as straight-forward as it seems and she has to evaluate whose side she is really on, whilst only truly being able to rely on herself to get everyone out of trouble.

This is a fantastic book for anyone who loves a gangster story, and there is the most marvellous battle towards the end that would grace the screen of any mob movie you ever saw. In fact, these books would make perfect films, I would definitely go and watch them (IF Sam Elliott is playing Red – see above – non-negotiable!) but, until that happens, the story completely comes alive on the page and is surely something you should all be reading to take your minds off the current situation we find ourselves in. Anything more completely unlike what you are currently experiencing locked in at home in the UK you’ll be hard-pushed to find, and it will sweep you out of reality for a little while, without requiring you to strain yourself, the author has done all the heavy lifting in the flow of the writing. I still find it hard to believe she is from Buckinghamshire!

Deep Dirty Truth is available now and you can get it in all formats here.

So, hopefully this has caught us all up to the current state of affairs with Lori Anderson and we are ready to hear what the latest book, Deep Dark Night, has to offer. Come back to the blog later today to see my review.

About the Author

Steph Broadribb Author Pic

Steph Broadribb was born in Birmingham and grew up in Buckinghamshire. Most of her working life has been spent between the UK and USA. As her alter- ego – Crime Thriller Girl – she indulges in her love of all things crime fiction by blogging at crimethrillergirl.com, where she interviews authors and reviews the latest releases. She is also a member of the crime-themed girl band The Splice Girls.

Steph is an alumni of the MA Creative Writing (Crime Fiction) at City University London, and she trained as a bounty hunter in California, which inspired her Lori Anderson thrillers. She lives in Buckinghamshire surrounded by horses, cows and chickens.

Her debut thriller, Deep Down Dead, was shortlisted for the Dead Good Reader Awards in two categories, and hit number one on the UK and AU kindle charts. My Little Eye, her first novel under her pseudonym, Stephanie Marland, was published by Trapeze Books in April 2018.

Connect with Steph:

Website: https://crimethrillergirl.com

Facebook: Crime Thriller Girl

Twitter: @crimethrillgirl

Blog Tour: A Conspiracy of Bones by Kathy Reichs #BookReview

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It’s sweltering in Charlotte, North Carolina, and Temperance Brennan, still recovering from neurosurgery following an aneurysm, is battling nightmares, migraines, and what she thinks might be hallucinations when she receives a series of mysterious text messages, each containing a new picture of a corpse that is missing its face and hands. Immediately, she’s anxious to know who the dead man is, and why the images were sent to her.

An identified corpse soon turns up, only partly answering her questions.

To win answers to the others, including the man’s identity, she must go rogue. With help from a number of law enforcement associates including her Montreal beau Andrew Ryan and the always-ready-with-a-smart-quip, ex-homicide investigator Skinny Slidell, and utilizing new cutting-edge forensic methods, Tempe draws closer to the astonishing truth.

But the more she uncovers, the darker and more twisted the picture becomes …

I have never been more excited for a blog tour than I have been for this one! I have been a fan of Kathy Reichs for years so to be taking part in the tour for her new Tempe Brennan novel, A Conspiracy of Bones, is a massive thrill. Huge thanks to Anne Cater of Random Things Tours for giving me the opportunity and to Simon and Schuster for my copy of the book, which I have reviewed honestly and impartially.

Kathy Reich’s books always do what every great book does, they transport me away and immerse me in a world totally removed from my own, which is what we all need more than ever now to provide respite from the stresses of our current situation. That may seem an odd thing to say about a book dealing with murder, but it is true. Kathy’s latest Temperance Brennan novel is no exception, the minute I opened the pages and began to read, I was back in Tempe’s world and the stifling heat of North Carolina.

As an avid, longtime reader of Kathy’s books, being back between the covers with Tempe is like catching up with an old friend that you’ve not seen in a while, but this book will definitely work perfectly as a standalone novel for anyone who is new to the author and the series, but once you’ve read it, I know you’ll be desperate to catch up on all the previous books and, I have to say, I am quite envious of anyone coming new to these books. Just imagine having 18 unread Temperance Brennan novels waiting for you to discover!

As for returning fans, this is Kathy Reichs at her best. The book is the usual page-turning, fast-paced thriller that we all know and love, with all of the fascinating scientific angles to explore that are unique to this character, and enough plot twists and turns to make your breath away and keep you saucer-eyed until late into the night, desperate to find out what was happening. Tempe is dealing with a lot of problems in this book, many of which have little to do with the main case at the heart of the novel. There is her recent diagnosis of a brain aneurysm, her ever-changing relationship with Ryan, the fact that her nemesis is now her boss, and don’t even get me started on what is going on with Boyd. When you’ve come to know Tempe as familiarly as her avid fans have, you will be going through the wringer with her as she deals with all this, and sympathise with how it is affecting her judgement.

However, Tempe is still Tempe. Dedicated, reckless, intelligent, driven and motivated by an unquenchable desire for justice for the people who can’t speak for themselves, she isn’t going to let any of this come in the way of her investigation, even when she is being told not to investigate. Teaming up closely with Slidell in this book, she is thrust into the world of the dark web, extreme conspiracy theorists and right-wing propaganda media. I found the whole plot riveting from start to finish, and neither hell not high water could tear me away from the page. I read the book in a single day (and late night) session, and now wish I could savour it all over again.

Maybe I’ll go back to the beginning of the series and pretend I’m one of you lucky people who is still to discover Kathy Reichs. When you do, come back and, like me, tell Kathy that we want more books please, hopefully with bigger doses of Birdie and Tempe’s mum (my two favourite characters). This is another fantastic addition to the Temperance Brennan series and I loved it. No sign of fatigue for these books yet, please keep them coming, Kathy.

A Conspiracy of Bones is out now and you can get your copy here.

Please make sure you visit the rest of the excellent blogs taking part in the tour to see what my fellow bloggers think of the book:

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About the Author

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Kathy Reichs’s first novel Déjà Dead was a number one bestseller and won the 1997 Ellis Award for Best First Novel. A Conspiracy of Bones is Kathy’s nineteenth entry in her series featuring forensic anthropologist Temperance Brennan. Kathy was also a producer of the hit Fox TV series, Bones, which is based on her work and her novels.

Dr. Reichs is one of very few forensic anthropologists certified by the American Board of Forensic Anthropology. She served on the Board of Directors and as Vice President of both the American Academy of Forensic Sciences and the American Board of Forensic Anthropology, and as a member of the National Police Services Advisory Council in Canada. She divides her time between Charlotte, North Carolina, and Montreal, Québec.

Connect with Kathy:

Website: https://kathyreichs.com

Facebook: Kathy Reichs Books

Twitter: @KathyReichs

Pinterest: Kathy Reichs

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Blog Tour: Second Sister by Chan Ho-Kei; Translated by Jeremy Tiang #BookReview

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I’m delighted to be taking part in the blog tour today for Second Sister by Chan Ho-Kei. My thanks to Bei Guo at Midas PR for inviting me, on behalf of Head of Zeus, to take part and to the publisher for my copy of the book, which I have reviewed honestly and impartially.

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Upon discovering her fifteen-year-old sister’s body sprawled in a pool of blood at the bottom of their apartment block, Nga-Yee vows to serve justice to the internet troll she blames for her sister’s suicide.

Hiring an anti-establishment, maverick tech-savvy detective, Nga-Yee discovers the dark side of social media, the smokescreen of online privacy and the inner workings of the hacker’s mind.

Determined to find out the truth about why her sister Siu-Man killed herself, Nga-Yee cannot rest until she finds out whose inflammatory social media post went viral and pushed her sister to her death. Along the way, Nga-Yee makes unsavoury discoveries about her sister’s life and the dark underbelly of the digital world.

Perfect for fans of hacker thrillers such as Stieg Larsson’s The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo series, Second Sister is part detective novel, part revenge thriller. It explores timely themes of sexual harassment, online trolling, victim blaming, fake news and data privacy scandals, vividly capturing the zeitgeist of Hong Kong and the world today.

I seem to be reading more translated fiction just recently, and I am really enjoying it, but I think this is my first piece of fiction translated from Chinese. It took me about two chapters to get in to the rhythm of the text but, after that, the book just flew by and flowed very easily. I have to say the translation was excellent and easy to read whilst still maintaining the tone and pace and feel of the original text.

As for the story itself, this book is quite a ride I have to say. It starts very dramatically with the suicide of a young school girl in Hong Kong, and the fallout from this act sets in motion a complex chain reaction of events when her bereft sister hires a secretive hacker to help her find who was responsible for, she believes, goading her sister to kill herself. But is the equation of cause and effect ever that straight forward?

There were lots of things I really enjoyed about this book. Firstly, it was a step into a slightly different genre than my usual tastes. I don’t read a lot of tech crime novels, but I was fascinated by the processes described in the book and the labyrinthine investigations that are needed to uncover the tangled world that lays behind the face of the internet we see day to day. Online trolling and bullying is becoming more prevalent, and the impact it has on the victims’ mental health is something that has sadly been in the news far too much recently. In this sense, the book is relevant and quite terrifyingly eye-opening, especially to the parents of teenagers who are far more tech-savvy than us and with tendencies to be secretive.

I loved the character of N, the enigmatic and shady hacker who is brought in to investigate the ‘crime’. He is quirky and out of step and a lot of what he does is shocking. His view of life gives an interesting twist on morality and the way the way people can delude themselves that they have justice on their side and are doing the ‘right’ thing, when actually they are doing the selfish thing or the cowardly thing. It might make the reader take another, more honest, look about what actually drives our behaviour from time to time. I think current events are showing us what people are really made of when faced with a crisis and this book shines a light on a small aspect of that.

Exploring the world of modern Hong Kong through the eyes of different sectors of its residents was also interesting. Since the UK handed control of Hong Kong back to China in the nineties, we hear less and less about it, unless there is turbulence which hits the news. It is such a different and distant place from what I have experienced, I love being given a little window into another world, even if it is a bit of a dingy corner of it!

The book wasn’t perfect. It’s quite a chunky read, and you do have to concentrate quite hard to follow the twisty plot at times. It moves very quickly so, if you skim, it is easy to miss some of the important clues as to what it coming. There was a chunk at the end which felt a little bit like a spewing of conclusions, rather than a reveal. However, none of that detracted greatly from my pleasure in the book. There was exploration of a lot of important issues currently in the news, sexual exploitation and victim-blaming, along with cyber crime and the social media bullying previously described. There were enough WTF moments to pay off the time invested in reading, and I did feel like it was intelligent and questioning to a degree that really made me engage my brain in following the plot, the reasoning and the moral questions raised. It’s a book that pays off in a myriad of ways.

All in all, a rewarding and complex novel that challenged and entertained me, gave me a glimpse of a different world and took me some steps out of my comfort zone. I highly recommend it.

Second Sight is out now in hardback and ebook and you can buy a copy here.

Please make sure you check out the rest of the blogs on the tour as detailed below:

Second Sister Blog Tour Banner

About the Author

Chan Ho-Kei_credit_Luke Huang

Chan was born and raised in Hong Kong. He has worked as a software engineer, game designer, manga editor, and lecturer. Chan wrote made his debut as a writer in 2008 at the age of thirty-three, with the short story The Case of Jack and the Beanstalk which was shortlisted for the Mystery Writers of Taiwan Award. Chan re-entered the following year and won the award for his short story The Locked Room of Bluebeard.

Chan reached the first milestone of his writing career in 2011 with his novel, The Man who Sold the World which won the biggest mystery award in the Chinese speaking world, the Soji Shimada Award. The book has been published in Taiwan, Japan, Italy, Thailand and Korea.

In 2014, Chan’s crime thriller The Borrowed was published in Taiwan. It has sold rights in thirteen countries, and the book will be adapted into a film by acclaimed Chinese art film director Wong Kar-Wai.

Second Sister has acquired a six-figure film deal with Linmon Pictures in China. The book will be published in the US in 2020 and rights have been sold to China, Korea and Japan.

About the Translator

Tiang_8

Jeremy Tiang’s writing has appeared in The Guardian, Esquire and Quarterly Literary Review Singapore. He has written four plays and translated more than ten books from the Chinese. Tiang lives in New York.

 

Blog Tour: Mexico Street by Simone Buchholz; Translated by Rachel Ward #BookReview

Mexico Street final jacket

Hamburg state prosecutor Chastity Riley investigates a series of arson attacks on cars across the city, which leads her to a startling and life-threatening discovery involving criminal gangs and a very illicit love story…

Night after night, cars are set alight across the German city of Hamburg, with no obvious pattern, no explanation and no suspect.

Until, one night, on Mexico Street, a ghetto of high-rise blocks in the north of the city, a Fiat is torched. Only this car isn’t empty. The body of Nouri Saroukhan – prodigal son of the Bremen clan – is soon discovered, and the case becomes a homicide.

Public prosecutor Chastity Riley is handed the investigation, which takes her deep into a criminal underground that snakes beneath the whole of Germany. And as details of Nouri’s background, including an illicit relationship with the mysterious Aliza, emerge, it becomes clear that these are not random attacks, and there are more on the cards…

I’m delighted to be taking part in the blog tour today for Mexico Street, the third book in the Chastity Riley series by Simone Buchholz. My thanks to Anne Cater of Random Things tours for inviting me to take part and to Karen Sullivan at Orenda Books for my copy of the book, which I have reviewed honestly and impartially.

So, following my review of the first two books in the Chastity Riley series (which you can find here), we are now on to the author’s latest novel and the third in the series, Mexico Street and I was wondering how she was going to keep the momentum going after the first two stunning books. Was there anywhere different to go, anything new to explore? The answer is, of course, yes.

The third book might even be my favourite so far. In this book, Chastity is drawn into an investigation that takes her to Bremen and a world away from what she knows and understands in Hamburg. A world dominated by tribal gangs with animosities and traditions going back generations, a societal hierarchy that is completely separate and unique, an attitude to family, and women in particular, which is archaic and unforgiving, and a section of the population that simply does not recognise the right of Germany’s legal system to police them and their affairs.

Again, the author switches her narrative approach to divide it between events in Chastity’s current life, the present investigation and the historic story of the victim of the crime which gives us the foundations of motive for what has occurred. I found the window that the author creates on to the community she is exploring in Bremen riveting – rich and detailed – and quite startling. It is an issue that is very current and relevant, as the strains in society between different communities is constantly under the spotlight and influencing decisions we make at the highest levels, and this book explores the idea that the strains are on both sides. There is a very stark question to be addressed here, what do you do when a community won’t integrate and simply refuses to submit to the local rules of law and society?

Well, this book explores this question, but doesn’t necessarily supply all the answers, and this is one of the unique factors of Simone’s writing and one of the things I love about it. The author is constantly posing conundrums and queries, both in the crime and in Chastity’s personal life, but doesn’t then supply an easy answer. She leaves work for the reader to do, for us personally to explore those questions and make our own judgements or possibly reach the conclusion, as maybe Chastity does, that there is no easy, obvious answer to be found. It is intelligent writing that assumes a pleasing and stimulating level of intelligence and curiosity in the reader, and there is nothing I love more than a book that challenges me.

Of course, Chastity’s personal life is not progressing smoothly either. She is missing Klatsche, her relationship with Ivo is complicated and, to top matters off, a face from the past makes a reappearance to muddy the waters. Chastity has some working out to do but, as a woman, she is a law unto herself and seems in no hurry to do it, I adore that about her. In this book, her personal relationships take somewhat of a back seat, she seems to be gaining some confidence again on her professional front, and I think the way the author switches the focus up between books to reflect how Chastity’s life and priorities and ebb and flow and change is inspired.

Another great addition to this series, possibly the best so far and, as for the ending well, what the hell just happened? A book that left me oddly satisfied, yet breathless and wanting more at the same time. Yes, more please.

Mexico Street is out now and you can buy a copy here.

Please do visit the rest of the fabulous blogs taking part in the tour for more great reviews and content:

Mexico Street BT Poster

About the Author

Simone Buchholz Author Pic

Connect with Simone:

Website: https://simonebuchholz.com

Twitter: @ohneKlippo

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