Blog Tour: One Of The Girls by Lucy Clarke

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I’m delighted to be taking part in the blog tour today for One Of The Girls by Lucy Clarke. My thanks to Anne Cater of Random Things Tours for inviting me to take part, and to the publisher for my digital copy of the book, which I have reviewed honestly and impartially.

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One of us is a liar. One of us is a stranger. One of us is a cheater.

But who could be a killer?

The six of us arrived on the beautiful, sunbaked island of Aegos to leave it all behind, our suitcases packed with flip flops and beach towels, our heads full of dreams for the perfect weekend away with friends…

On the first night, we laughed and danced under the stars. On the second night we went skinny dipping in the warm, summer sea. On the third night the wine loosened our tongues, the lies spilling and the masks starting to slip.

And on the final night it all ignited as we celebrated around the beach fire – for someone, the holiday in Greece would be their last…

This is one of my favourite thrillers that I have read so far this year. I thought I would probably enjoy it, which is why I volunteered for the tour. I am a fan of this author’s work and the blurb suggested it had all the elements I love in a book – female dynamics, exotic location, death…. Even so, it exceeded all my expectations.

The tension in this book is palpable from the very first page and it has all to do with the awkward dynamics between a group of people who have only been brought together by their loose connection to one of their number. Anyone who has ever been on a hen night will recognise the friction between groups of women who don’t know each other, who come from different areas of the bride’s life and are forced into camaraderie and jollity with people they would not personally choose to hang out with. The author captures this feeling absolutely perfectly and it gives this thriller an uneasy feeling even before there is any indication that anything is particularly wrong. It’s easy to see how a tiny nudge can send this trip off the rails.

Once she has set up this tense scenario – awkward group of women, isolated location, too much expectation for the trip – she plays on it beautifully by introducing hints that each of the women is hiding something. Some personal issue, some resentment, some secret, so the reader then doesn’t know who trusts whom or who is in conflict with whom, or who they themselves can trust. This is what makes for the perfect thriller – suspicion. Suspicion abounds between all the characters, and between the characters and the reader and the tension sits like a brick in your chest as you proceed through the story, until it gets to an almost unbearable pitch, because we KNOW something is going to go wrong, which just don’t know what or to whom or why. She dangles us on a string, waiting for the drop. The literary equivalent of Disney’s Tower of Terror.

The pacing of the book is perfect, the writing is easy to read, the characterisation is totally believable and the dynamics between the characters feel authentic and work perfectly for the story. There was not one thing about this book that I didn’t enjoy, it’s a wonderful example of the genre and I would not hesitate to recommend it to anyone looking for their next fantastic thriller. The perfect book to take to your poolside lounger this summer- just make sure you are travelling with people you trust!

One Of The Girls is out now in ebook, hardback and audiobook formats and will be published in paperback in July. You can buy a copy here.

Make sure you follow the rest of the tour for more reviews:

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About the Author

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Sunday Times bestseller Lucy Clarke writes from a beach hut, using the inspiration from the wild south coast to craft her stories. Her debut novel, The Sea Sisters, was a Richard & Judy Book Club pick, and she has since published A Single Breath, The Blue/No Escape, Last Seen, You Let Me In, and The Castaways, which was a Waterstones Thriller of the Month. Lucy lives by the sea with her husband and two children.

Connect with Lucy:

Website: http://www.lucy-clarke.com

Facebook: Lucy Clarke

Twitter: @lucyclarkebooks

Instagram: @lucyclarke_author

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Blog Tour: The Daughter by Liz Webb

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I lean in and whisper the question I have never let myself utter in twenty-three years.

“Dad, did you murder Mum?”

Hannah Davidson has a dementia-stricken father, an estranged TV star brother, and a mother whose death opened up hidden fault lines beneath the surface of their ordinary family life.

Now the same age that Jen Davidson was when she was killed, Hannah realises she bears an uncanny resemblance to her glamorous mother, and when her father begins to confuse them she is seriously unnerved.

Determined to uncover exactly what happened to her mum, Hannah begins to exploit her arresting likeness, but soon the boundaries between Hannah and her mother become fatally blurred.

I am delighted to be taking my turn on the blog tour today for The Daughter by Liz Webb. My thanks to Helen Richardson for inviting me to take part and to the publisher for my digital copy of the book, which I have reviewed honestly and impartially.

I wasn’t sure what to expect from The Daughter before I started reading it and I have to say it took me a little while to get into the novel. The book is written in the first person, in the voice of Hannah as she is visiting her dementia-stricken father in hospital after he has had a fall. Hannah’s voice was not clear to me to begin with, I wasn’t even sure if the character was male or female at first and, as a result, it took me a little while to become invested in the story.

However, after a couple of chapters, things began to fall into place and my interest was piqued. Hannah is clearly a troubled young woman, engaging in destructive behaviours, and I was curious about what had led her to this place. As we find out more about her dysfunctional family and the tragic events that splintered their family decades before, the reasons begin to make sense, but I was left wondering if she was an entirely reliable narrator, which always makes a book more interesting. Not knowing whether you can believe what the main protagonist is telling you always builds tension, and even Hannah herself questions whether her memories are reliable when they conflict with those of other people present at the time. Who is mistaken? Who is lying to themselves, or others, to hide the dreadful truth?

This mistrust bleeds through to the other characters, particularly her father, who is in a fog of confusion and has begun to mix Hannah up with his long-dead wife, and her brother, from who she has been estranged for 14 years and is practically unknown to her now, and who practises make-believe for a living. Who is telling then truth and who will benefit from lying? These are the puzzles the engaged reader if left to solve.

The cast of characters is small and manageable, the plot engaging and tense and the writing easy to read and flows well. I thought this stood out as a story I hadn’t read before in the domestic thriller genre and, after a shaky start, I thoroughly enjoyed this novel. It is full of twists and turns and interesting ideas about families, how they work and how they can mess you up. A theme many people will be able to relate to on some level. This book has a different feel to many books in the genre, an interesting edge to it and I would recommend it to anyone looking for a new author.

The Daughter is out now in all formats and you can buy your copy here.

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

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About the Author

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LIZ WEBB originally trained as a classical ballet dancer but had to give up following a back injury. She then worked as a secretary at the British Library whilst going to night school at the City Lit to get into Oxford University age 23. After graduating, she worked as a stationery shop manager, an art model, a cocktail waitress, stand- up comic, voice-over artist, script-editor, and radio drama producer before becoming a novelist.

Liz Webb was a stand-up comic for ten years performing at clubs across the UK and at festivals in Edinburgh, Newcastle, Leicester and Cardiff. At the same time, she worked as a voice-over artist voicing many TV ad campaigns including The Times, Kellogg’s Just Right cereal and Organics hair products.

She also worked for fourteen years as a prolific radio drama producer for the BBC and independent radio production companies.

Liz lives in North London with her husband, son and serial killer cat Freddie.

Connect with Liz:

Website: https://lizwebb.co.uk

Facebook: Liz Webb

Twitter: @LizWebbAuthor

Instagram: @lizwebbauthor

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Blog Tour: Guilty Women by Melanie Blake

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I am thrilled to be topping off the blog tour for Guilty Women by Melanie Blake, the follow up to last year’s sensational Ruthless Women (you can read my review of that book here.) My thanks to Anne Cater for inviting me to take part in the tour and to the publisher for my copy of the book, which I have reviewed honestly and impartially.

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Can they get away with murder?

On a beautiful island off the English coast, four TV actresses gather.
Their fifth member is missing – and only they know why she was killed.
As the secret between them threatens to come out, tensions on set run high.
The women are determined that the show must go on – no matter what it costs.
But one of them is on the edge of telling the truth – and no show in the world could survive this scandal…

All of the women have something to hide – but the question is, are they all guilty?

If you have read my review of the prequel to this book, Ruthless Women (and, if you haven’t, why not? Go and remedy that immediately, I put the link above!) you will know that I absolutely adored it. It was a flashback to the outrageous ‘bonkbusters’ I devoured in my youth, in the best traditions of Shirley Conran and Jackie Collins, and I could not wait to return to the set of Falcon Bay and the lives of its cast and crew. You can read Guilty Women as a standalone but I think you will get much more enjoyment from your reading of the book if you have read Ruthless Women first and are familiar with the characters and their back story.

This book picks up only eight weeks after the end of the last book, and the women are all still reeling from the shocking events that ended that novel. Despite their closeness, and what they have risked to protect each other, they are all struggling with the secrets they are keeping and their feelings about what they have done, and the cracks in their friendship are beginning to show. They are all doing their best to get on with their jobs and keep Falcon Bay at the top of the ratings, but there is more than one person trying g to throw a spanner in the works and derail their best efforts.

Everything that made the previous book so marvellous is here again in spades. Sex (and, I mean, sex in graphic detail, no holds barred. if you blush easily, you might want to avert your eyes from these parts), drugs, glamorous women, gorgeous men, betrayal, revenge, rows, fist fights, death, drama and destruction are all present and correct, and the book is action-packed from start to finish. Just as with the last storyline, there is shock after shock in the plot as the author does not let the tension up from a moment and takes the story to unexpected places.

As before, the strength of this book lies in the writing of the female characters, who are all beautiful and driven and loyal to one another and their friendship is at the heart of the story. This makes appealing to anyone who likes to see women get the upper hand in a male dominated world. Despite all the trials she puts them through, they remain true to one another which is lovely to see to the end.

I wasn’t quite sure what the point of the Honey Hunter storyline was, it seemed to start off strong and then peter out into nothing of any significance, but other than that there were no weak parts of the story. It is a thoroughly enjoyable romp through murder and mayhem, if those are the kinds of things you like to romp through, and I loved every second of it. The ending has left me asking whether we have seen the last of these fabulous women, I am sincerely hoping not.

Guilty Women is out now in all formats and you can buy a copy here.

Make sure you go back and revisit the other blogs that have featured on the tour for alternative reviews:

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About the Author

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MELANIE BLAKE is the bestselling author of Ruthless Women, which became a Number 4 Sunday Times hardback bestseller and an ebook bestseller in 2021, selling over 150,000 copies. Guilty Women is her second novel about the cast of Falcon Bay, and her first with HarperFiction. Growing up in a working-class household with severe dyslexia, Melanie has her own Rags to Riches story, just like that of her characters – at 15 she was told by her school career advisors that her decision to work at a record shop was ‘a clear example that she wouldn’t go far in her career’. They were wrong. By 19 she was working at the BBC’s iconic Top of the Pops show and by 26 she had built a reputation as one of the UK’s leading music and entertainment managers. She also created her own acting agency from scratch which became the most successful independent boutique agency in the UK. Melanie still represents a high-profile stable of actresses, but is also now enjoying success in her own right as a author, playwright and producer.

Connect with Melanie:

Website: https://www.melanieblakeonline.com/

Twitter: @MelanieBlakeUK

Instagram: @melanieblakeuk

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Blog Tour: The Secret Voices by M. J. White

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So excited today to be taking my turn on the blog tour for the first crime thriller by Miranda Dickinson writing as M. J. White. I love Miranda’s romance novels, so I was excited to see what she would do in this new genre with The Secret Voices.  My thanks to Rachel Gilbey of Rachel’s Random Resources for inviting me to take part in the tour and to the publisher for my digital copy of the book, which I have reviewed honestly and impartially.

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They said they’d keep me safe.

They said, ‘It’s okay, Hannah. You know you can trust me.’

They lied.

When eight-year-old Hannah Perry goes missing in the small Suffolk village of St Just, the community is rocked. Heading up the investigation is Acting DS Rob Minshull, but he’s out of his depth in a case that seems to mirror the disappearance of a young boy, seven years ago. That search ended in unimaginable tragedy…and Minshull is praying that history won’t be repeated.

But with an investigation full of dead ends, and a kidnapper taunting the police with sinister deliveries of Hannah’s belongings and cryptic notes, the young girl’s life hangs perilously in danger.

Until Dr Cora Lael enters the picture. A psychologist with a unique ability, Cora’s rare gift allows her to sense emotions attached to discarded objects. When she is shown the first of Hannah’s belongings, she hears the child’s piercing scream.

With few leads on the case, could Cora prove Hannah’s only hope? And as time runs out, can they find Hannah before history repeats itself…?

Every parent’s worst nightmare, your child going missing, is the basis for this story. The hectic scramble to find them as soon as possible, the fading of hope, the suspicion pointed at family and friends. Inside the police investigation, the officers trawl for leads, trying to get one step ahead of whoever is responsible before tragedy occurs. Pressure piling on from all sides – the press, the public, the family, your superiors. What toll does this take on the detectives charged with finding the missing child, especially if the case has echoes of a similar investigation that failed years before? You might think these are all ideas that have been explored in crime fiction before, what new territory does this book explore? Plenty, I assure you.

Sure, all of these standard elements are present but I have to tell you that Miranda really explores the emotional aspects of this to a degree that I’m not sure I’ve experienced in a crime novel before. I don’t know whether this is some of her experience as a romance novelist making her come at this from a slightly different angle but I really felt the emotional toll of this investigation all the parties involved oozing off the page. Told from the perspectives of the different people involved in the story, including the abducted child herself, the reader is really drawn in to the horror and stress of the story from a full colour, 360 degree perspective. It is totally immersive.

Add to this a completely unique idea for a different dimension to bring to the investigation, and you have a cracker of a story. Cora is a psychologist blessed, or cursed depending on your perspective, with emotional synaesthesia – the ability to detect people’s emotions from their discarded objects. Persuaded to use her ability to help the hunt for Hannah, Cora hopes to find acceptance and purpose for the ability which has made her feel apart and alone most of her life. But is she prepared for the emotional toll the experience will take and will openly revealing her abilities achieve the exact opposite of what she hopes? Following Cora’s journey through the novel was a fascinating and thought provoking process for me and really adds a fresh dimension to the crime thriller genre.

I would say that Miranda’s detour into the world of crime fiction has been a resounding success based on this book. I thoroughly enjoyed it, found it to be fresh, complex and accomplished and I can’t wait to read more featuring these characters. I highly recommend this to anyone who loves Miranda’s writing, because all the skill evident in her romance novels is at play here too, and anyone looking for an interesting new voice in the crime thriller genre. Outstanding stuff.

The Secret Voices is out now in ebook and paperback formats and you can buy a copy here.

Please check out some of the other blogs taking part in the tour for alternative reviews of the book:

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About the Author

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MJ White is the crime pen name of the internationally bestselling author Miranda Dickinson. To date she has sold over one million books worldwide and has been translated into sixteen languages. Miranda has always been a huge fan of crime fiction and The Secret Voices marks the start of a new and exciting departure for her writing.

Connect with M J White:

Twitter: @MJWhite13

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Blog Tour: The Rabbit Factor by Antti Tuomainen; Translated by David Hackston

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Today I am thrilled to be taking my turn on the blog tour for the paperback release of The Rabbit Factor by Antti Tuomainen. Thanks to Anne Cater of Random Things Tours for inviting me to take part and to the publisher for providing me with a digital copy of the book for the purposes of review, although I had already purchased a physical copy. I have reviewed the book honestly and impartially.

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What makes life perfect? Insurance mathematician Henri Koskinen knows the answer because he calculates everything down to the very last decimal.

And then, for the first time, Henri is faced with the incalculable. After suddenly losing his job, Henri inherits an adventure park from his brother – its peculiar employees and troubling financial problems included. The worst of the financial issues appear to originate from big loans taken from criminal quarters … and some dangerous men are very keen to get their money back.

But what Henri really can’t compute is love. In the adventure park, Henri crosses paths with Laura, an artist with a chequered past, and a joie de vivre and erratic lifestyle that bewilders him. As the criminals go to extreme lengths to collect their debts and as Henri’s relationship with Laura deepens, he finds himself faced with situations and emotions that simply cannot be pinned down on his spreadsheets…

Sometimes you come across a book and everything about it makes your heart sing. I know my fellow bookworms recognise that feeling, know that it is rare but, when it does occur, it’s joyous. My friends, The Rabbit Factor is one of those books.

This is the story of Henri, a very uptight man who likes everything in his life to be ordered and logical. He is an actuary, and he makes all of his life decisions (and I do mean ALL of them) based on logic and probability and he doesn’t like anything which disrupts this system or seems to him not to make sense when viewed from this perspective. This is itself makes reading about his life a ludicrous business, and I’d give you some examples from the book which made me laugh out loud but I don’t want to include any spoilers in this review. I’ll just say that this is one of those books that makes people look at you oddly on a train if you decide to read it in public.

So, the premise of this book is a classic ‘fish-out-of-water’ story. What happens when this man is accosted by a set of circumstances that don’t make any sense, can’t be dealt with on a purely logical basis, involve people who made illogical decisions or don’t behave in a predictable way and force him to think things and feel things that he has never had to think or feel before. This is what confronts Henri when his wild, reckless and unpredictable brother dies and leaves Henri his adventure park, responsibility for its employees and all the difficulties that go with it.

Seeing uptight Henri the loner actuary in charge of a children’s adventure park would in itself be hilarious enough for a story. However, this is also a crime caper, because the adventure park is in financial difficulty and his brother seems to have been caught up in some dodgy dealings which Henri has also inherited. How do you logically calculate your way out of criminal enterprise involving people who use violence instead of reason? Read this book to find out. However, this implausible story is not the biggest delight at the heart of this novel, it is merely the ingenious skeleton on which the flesh of this fantastic novel hangs.

There are two things which makes this book a standout for me. The first is the writing. Antti Tuomainen has the most delicious way with language, a gift for finding the hilarious in the mundane and a wicked turn of phrase that is music to the visual ear (if that is even a thing… you know what I mean anyway!) As I said before, this book is funny, laugh out loud so in parts, but it is also clever. Beyond this, he also knows how to write tenderly when tenderness is required, with tension when that is appropriate and with insight and consideration when this is needed to bring the plot to life. This book, as well as making me laugh, also really touched me in places, with a beautiful exploration of human nature, what speaks to our hearts, how relationships can change us, and how even the most cut-off and stringent of souls can be reached and touched by the right people. This book contains so many facets that there is something here for everyone – comedy, crime, love – the layers open up throughout like an unfurling flower to reveal its full beauty by the end.

The second, and most important aspect that brings this book alive are the characters. Everyone is individual, well-developed and integral to the plot. Even the one that doesn’t appear until right at the end, because there is a reason for this that adds to it. You can tell that no one is there for any reason other than they are essential, and every one has been given the same care and consideration in their development. Henri, of course, is the star and I could read a book featuring him every day of the week. For someone so alien to most of us, he is relatable and completely lovable and I am so glad to hear that this is the start of a series in which he will feature. Henri aside, I love everyone else. Laura, Kristian, Johanna, the security guard – the way they all interact and play their part. Even Henri’s old boss who he has written off proves to have a use in Henri’s life after all, they are all brilliantly interconnected in his awakening to a future he never knew existed, or that he had craved. It’s beautifully done, heart-warming and uplifting. The reason this book made me so happy.

I have always been a fan of Antti’s books but this may have just overtaken Palm Beach Finland as my favourite. I’ll have to go back and read the latter for comparison, which won’t be a hardship. While I’m here, just a word on the translation. If the name of the translator were not on the cover, you would never know this was a translated text, it is that seamless. This is no mean achievement and deserves recognition.

If you want a real treat, treat yourself to this, I promise you will close the back cover with a smile on your face and a warm, Ready Brek glow around your heart.

The Rabbit Factor is out now in all formats and you can buy a copy here.

Please check out the rest of the fantastic blogs taking part in the tour for more great reviews:

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About the Author

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Finnish Antti Tuomainen was an award-winning copywriter when he made his literary debut in 2007 as a suspense author Iin 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. Palm Beach Finland was an immense success, with Marcel Berlins (The Times) calling Tuomainen ‘the funniest writer in Europe’. His latest thriller, Little Siberia, was shortlisted for the CWA International Dagger, the Amazon Publishing/Capital Crime Awards and the CrimeFest Last Laugh Award, and won the Petrona Award for Best Scandinavian Crime Novel of the Year.

Connect with Antti:

Website: http://anttituomainen.com

Facebook: Antti Tuomainen Official

Twitter: @antti_tuomainen

Instagram: @anttituomainen

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Book Review: The Serial Killer’s Girl by L. H. Stacey

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Does a killer’s blood run in the family?

Lexi Jakes thought she could run from her past…she was wrong.

Because when her biological mother is found dead, with all the same hallmarks of her own serial killer father, Lexi knows someone is out for revenge, and that she and her small daughter, Isla, could be next.

Determined to protect Isla, Lexi travels back to Lindisfarne, the small remote island where she grew up. There, cut off from the mainland, Lexi hopes they’ll both be safe.

But as the tide comes in and the causeway slowly closes, Lexi’s greatest fear comes true: now they are trapped with no way out.

Lexi will do anything to save her daughter…she is the serial killer’s girl after all.

I am delighted to be sharing my review of The Serial Killer’s Girl by L. H. Stacey today. My thanks to the author for inviting me to review her book and providing me with a digital copy for review. I have reviewed the book honestly and impartially as always.

The premise of this book is absolutely fascinating. What is life like for the children of people who have committed the most heinous of crimes? How do their families move on after their atrocities have been exposed and they are behind bars? It is something I haven’t really given much thought to in relation to their children, I have to say. I’ve sometimes wondered about their spouses – how can they not of known, how do they adjust afterwards to what their partner did and why they never suspected, but not the children, so I was keen to read the author’s exploration on the matter.

The plot is quite gripping. Someone murders Lexi’s mother in a way very similar to the methodology of her father’s crimes and she begins to worry that someone is out for revenge on him via the people he cares about. This would put Lexi, and more importantly her young daughter, in harm’s way. So Lexi decides to take her daughter and run to a place that she believes no one will find her and where she always has felt safe. Lindisfarne.

I loved the exploration in the book of this beautiful area of the country, as it a place I visited often as a child but have not revisited for many years. It was really interesting to read about it from the perspective of people living on the island, as opposed to visiting, and I thoroughly enjoyed the sections of the book set on Lindisfarne.

There was plenty of tension in Lexi’s situation. She has kept her past hidden from people she is close to, so this leads to tensions in her relationships as it all bubbles to the surface. It is not clear who is responsible for the murders – the author cleverly conceals their identity, even whilst writing some parts of the book from their perspective – and I was mystified until the end as to who had done it, although I had my suspicions. Look, some of the decisions Lexi makes are baffling to me and I was mentally screaming at her whilst reading because it was clear they weren’t going to lead to a good place. However, this was part of what created the tension, being able to see where she was going wrong and anticipating the upcoming fallout.

If I had any criticism of the book at all, it would be that there was some level of repetition of ideas in certain parts that felt a bit like labouring a point. However, I did read an early proof, rather than the finished copy, which may be different, and this did not in any way detract from the enjoyability or tension in the main plot. This is a very entertaining book for people who enjoy the genre of domestic, psychologic al thriller and I would not hesitate to recommend it.

The Serial Killer’s Girl is published on Thursday 27 April and you can pre-order a copy here.

About the Author

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As well as being the author of seven books, Stacey also works a full time job as a Sales Director. She’s also a fully qualified scuba diving instructor and has been known to happily jump in the sea with sharks, without a cage.

Following a life changing car accident in 2008, Stacey was left with limited mobility in her right arm. Unable to teach scuba diving professionally anymore, she turned to her love of writing, a hobby she’d followed avidly since being a teenager.

Her own life story, along with varied career choices helps Stacey to create stories with challenging and unpredictable plots.

Stacey’s debut novel ‘House of Secrets’ was published in 2016 and her seventh book ‘The Serial Killer’s Girl’ will be published by Boldwood Books in April 2022.

Website: http://www.lyndastacey.co.uk

Facebook: L H Stacey

Twitter: @LyndaStacey

Instagram: @lynda.stacey

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Saturday Night Drinks with … Phil Johnson

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A day late due to unforeseen circumstances, but tonight I am delighted to welcome to the blog for a drink and a chat, author… Phil Johnson.

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Thank you for joining me for drinks this evening. First things first, what are you drinking?

Thank you for inviting me! I’m having a small red Boutari, it’s a local Greek wine, as I’m in the Aegean at the moment, researching a sequel to my second novel Run to the Bluewhich my publishers may be interested in. It’s set here in Greece and there’s no substitute for being “on location” to capture atmosphere and flavour.

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If we weren’t here in my virtual bar tonight, but were meeting in real life, where would you be taking me for a night out?

If you were able to be whisked away to Greece, then any number of little bars and tavernas overlooking the brightest sea, with the most beautiful smells of wild thyme and bougainvillea, and the sounds of cicadas and a little chilled Ibiza drifting across from the bar. If not, then Norwich, close to where I live.  

If you could invite two famous people, one male and one female, alive or dead, along on our night out, who would we be drinking with?

Helena Bonham Carter! I always imagine her playing Betzy Blac, one of the central characters in Killer in the Crowd. A great actor. And, being a fan of romantic films, Hugh Grant. Secret confession, but Music and Lyrics is one of my favourites. I’m a sucker for romantic endings! I’ve a perfect role for him in my next book too, if it were ever to hit the screen – hey I can dream!

So, now we’re settled, tell me what you are up to at the moment. How and why did you start it and where do you want it to go?

I suppose I evolved into writing fiction from being a radio and TV reporter and broadcaster. I love telling stories, whether for news or in documentaries. I always wanted to write fiction to entertain, excite and make people smile. My stories are for lonely nights, beautiful days, beachside bars, and poolsides. I want to take people on a roller coaster of adventure, knowing that however bad it looks, my women will always beat overwhelming odds and win through in the end. Often finding love on the way. As I say, although crime, mystery is the driver for my stories, I’m a romantic at heart. 

What has been your proudest moment since you started writing and what has been your biggest challenge? 

The biggest challenge was not realizing how much re writing and editing was needed to finally make my stories ready for the world. Proudest moment, was actually holding a copy of Killer in the Crowd and thanking my wife Fi, for putting up with my 10 hours a day writing schedule and the loud music coming from my little room! Also having a wonderful reviewer/blogger give the book “A Million Stars!”

What is the one big thing you’d like to achieve in your chosen arena? Be as ambitious as you like, its just us talking after all!

I’m sure every writer says this but, to get a film/TV deal. It’s not the money I’m chasing, I want to see the stories come to life on screen because I think they would entertain. Having had a successful career in TV, my books are, I feel, very visual.   

What are have planned that you are really excited about?

My second novel, Run to the Blue – Tess Anderson is a top TV reporter and she’s running for her life! Her husband’s affair with a cabinet minister is all over the press and a London crime boss wants her dead. Running to the Greek islands, she’s rescued by a handsome, mysterious American yachtsman. But who is he, and who can Tess trust as her enemies close in?

I love to travel, and I’m currently drawing up a bucket list of things I’d like to do in the future. Where is your favourite place that you’ve been and what do you have at the top of your bucket list?

My favourite place is here in Greece. Too many wonderful locations to pick just one, but Lakka on Paxos, Naoussa on Paros and Milos stand out. My bucket list? To live long enough to see a world where all women and girls are safe and respected.  

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Tell me one interesting/surprising/secret fact about yourself.

I once got lost with a guest star when I worked on BBC Breakfast Time. On my first day as an Associate Producer, I took Brian Blessed up to the attic because I forgot where the studio was! 

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Books are my big passion and central to my blog and I’m always looking for recommendations. What one book would you give me and recommend as a ‘must-read’?

My favourite book is still One Day by David Nicholls, but I wish he’s re write the ending! However, I’d love you to read Run to the Blue my second novel due out this summer. It’ll whisk you over here to Greece – Paxos and Corfu, and take you to some secret bays where my protagonist Tess will find out, it’s easy to fall in love despite the danger.

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Twenty years, two people, ONE DAY. The multi-million copy bestseller that captures the experiences of a generation.

‘I can imagine you at forty,’ she said, a hint of malice in her voice. ‘I can picture it right now.’

He smiled without opening his eyes. ‘Go on then.’

15th July 1988. Emma and Dexter meet for the first time on the night of their graduation. Tomorrow they must go their separate ways.

So where will they be on this one day next year?

And the year after that? And every year that follows?

So, we’ve been drinking all evening. What is your failsafe plan to avoid a hangover and your go-to cure if you do end up with one?

Not to drink too much! However nice it is, and this Boutari, well, easy to have another, but I mustn’t!

After our fabulous night out, what would be your ideal way to spend the rest of a perfect weekend?

A walk along a quiet beach. Listening to music. Time with family and friends. Reflecting on the past but always looking ahead.  

Thank you for joining me for drinks this evening, Phil, although I wish I was in Greece doing this in person!

Phil’s book, Killer in the Crowd, is out now in ebook and paperback formats and you can buy a copy here.

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Imagine being an ordinary teacher with an unexciting life, except you have a secret – your mum was an outrageous punk star loved by millions, who vanished when you were just seven years old. You always wondered what happened to her, was she dead or somehow still alive? Then, the man you believed to be your father, a fading old rock star, is murdered, and his death linked to your mum’s disappearance.

Suddenly, the press announce you apparently have a brother – an international American superstar, a man who turns your life and your emotions upside down. Determined to find the truth, you lead your mum’s old band on tour. Four aging women former punks, rekindling their youth to help you succeed. You play your mum’s part as the singer, to elicit stories from fans to find out what really happened to her, wherever it takes you and whatever the cost. It’s a gig you just can’t miss!

As a TV Newsreader, Reporter and Producer for both BBC East and ITV Anglia, Phil Johnson covered everything from tracking down criminals in Spain and going on high-octane police chases, to interviewing pop stars, politicians and celebrities. P N Johnson was also the face and voice of Crimestoppers in the eastern region for many years and created the successful TV series: “999 Frontline”. Now living near Norwich, P N Johnson loves music, travelling, walking, and sailing, and bringing exciting new characters with amazing stories to the page.

Connect with Phil:

Twitter: @PhilJohnson01

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Audiobook Review: The Curfew by T. M. Logan; Narrated by Richard Armitage

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Your son said he was home. Why did he lie?

I should have known something was wrong.I should have sensed it. Felt it in the air, like the build-up of pressure before a thunderstorm, that heavy, loaded calm.

The curfew….

Andy and Laura are good parents. They tell their son, Connor, that he can go out with friends to celebrate completing his exams, but he must be home by midnight.

The lie….

When Connor misses his curfew, it sets off a series of events that will change the lives of five families forever.

The truth?

Because five teenagers went into the woods that night, but only four came out. And telling the truth might mean losing everything….

What would you do?

Every time I read a book by T. M. Logan I say it is my favourite of his books. Well, I can honestly say, having read The Curfew, this is my absolute favourite of his books so far.

The book is mainly narrated by Andy, a GP who is father to two children, sixteen-year-old Connor and his younger sister, Harriet. His family live fairly ordinary lives in a middle class suburb of Nottingham, and nothing seems likely to change that, until the night that Connor misses his curfew.

The characterisations in this book were spot on perfect, particularly of the parents, and the reason I loved it so much was because I could absolutely feel the worry and anguish of Andy and his wife Claire as they were drawn into a nightmare involving their son. The only thing worse that finding your son embroiled in a police investigation, is for your child to go missing, and both of these horrors are faced by parents in this book and my heart was on edge for them the whole time as I put myself in their shoes. As a parent, this book is all your nightmares made manifest.

The genius of the writing is to bring tension and horror to a completely ordinary setting. Where the story takes place is the most unlikely setting for drama, but this is what causes the real tension, because this kind of thing could all too easily happen to any of us. You don’t have to suspend your belief very far to imagine yourself or your family in Andy’s shoes, and it will make you insides curl up with fear and make you rush to the end, praying for a happy outcome for these people who are much too like you and I for comfort. I have never been so happy to do my housework as when I was eager to get to the end of this book.

I have consumed all but one of T. M. Logan’s books in audio format and I can honestly say that these are the perfect books to listen to. I like an audiobook that has pacy action that holds my attention, otherwise it is too easy for my mind to wander and for me to lose my place. This never happens with these books. Richard Armitage does an absolutely amazing job of narrating this story (would you expect anything less?) to the extent that at times I actually forgot I was listening to an actor narrating a piece of fiction.

If you like a thriller that can truly be called domestic, The Curfew is one for you. But be prepared to hug your children close and, maybe, bring their curfew forward an hour until the stress of this story has faded from your mind. Brilliantly terrifying for any parent, this story was scarier to me than any Stephen King novel.

The Curfew is available now in audiobook, ebook and hardback formats and you can buy a copy here.

About the Author

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TM Logan’s thrillers have sold more than a million copies in the UK and been translated into 22 other languages for publication around the world.

His brand new novel, THE CURFEW, follows the events of a hot midsummer’s night, when five teenagers go up to the woods to celebrate the end of exams, and only four come out…

THE HOLIDAY was a Richard & Judy Book Club pick and spent ten weeks in the Sunday Times paperback top ten. It has since won a Nielsen Bestseller Award and been made into a four-part TV drama with Jill Halfpenny for Channel 5.

Tim’s 2021 thriller, TRUST ME, begins when a woman is asked to look after a stranger’s baby on a train – only for the mother to vanish. When she looks in the baby’s things, she finds a note that says: ‘Please protect Mia. Don’t trust the police. Don’t trust anyone.’ His other books are THE CATCH, LIES and 29 SECONDS.

A former national newspaper journalist, Tim lives in Nottinghamshire with his family and writes in a cabin at the bottom of his garden.

For exclusive writing, new releases and a FREE deleted scene from Tim, sign up to the Readers’ Club.

Connect with T. M. Logan:

Website: https://www.tmlogan.com

Facebook: T M Logan Author

Twitter: @TMLoganAuthor

Instagram: @tmloganauthor

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Book Review: Traitor in the Ice by K. J. Maitland

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Winter, 1607. A man is struck down in the grounds of Battle Abbey, Sussex. Before dawn breaks, he is dead.

Home to the Montagues, Battle has caught the paranoid eye of King James. The Catholic household is rumoured to shelter those loyal to the Pope, disguising them as servants within the abbey walls. And the last man sent to expose them was silenced before his report could reach London.

Daniel Pursglove is summoned to infiltrate Battle and find proof of treachery. He soon discovers that nearly everyone at the abbey has something to hide – for deeds far more dangerous than religious dissent. But one lone figure he senses only in the shadows, carefully concealed from the world. Could the notorious traitor Spero Pettingar finally be close at hand?

As more bodies are unearthed, Daniel determines to catch the culprit. But how do you unmask a killer when nobody is who they seem?

This is the second book in the Daniel Pursglove historical mystery series. I was captivated by the first book, The Drowned Citywhen I read it last year (you can read my review of the book here) so I was delighted to be invited to review The Traitor in the Ice. My thanks to the publisher for providing me with a copy of the book for this purpose, which I have reviewed honestly and impartially.

It is not necessary for you to have read the first book featuring Daniel Pursglove for you to be able to understand and enjoy The Traitor in the Ice, it works perfectly well as a standalone novel, although it would give you a little more background on how Daniel has found himself in the position he currently occupies as a spy for someone close to the throne. For those of you who have read The Drowned City, which is set in Bristol during the flood of 1606, the author has whittled out another freak weather event to form the backdrop of this book, the Great Freeze of 1607. For me, the weaving of an entertaining murder mystery with real life, little known historical events makes for the perfect novel, because I love to learn things as I am entertained.

The main setting of the book is the town of Battle, close to the coast in East Sussex, and its famous Abbey, which purports to be a hotbed of illicit Catholic activity at a time when this was illegal. Other chapters take place in London around the court of James I. Clearly, a huge amount of research has gone into this novel and the fictional element of the murder mystery is embedded firmly in historical fact about the life of Viscountess Montague and her sheltering of Catholic priests during the reigns of Elizabeth I and James I, when the Protestant faith was given prominence across the country. The book absolutely oozes with the tension and fear of persecution that stalked the steps of Catholics during that period, the constant threat of raids, capture, torture and execution for anyone accused of preaching the Catholic faith or harbouring anyone who did. This was particularly heightened during this period immediately following the failed Gunpowder Plot, when suspicion was rife that further attempts on the life of the King were being planned. The author has captured this oppressive fear and suspicion perfectly here and the book will have you on edge from beginning to end.

Amidst the task Daniel has been given to gain information about what role Battle and the Montague are playing in the Catholic cause at this time, he comes across a series of murders which appear to be linked with the Crown’s efforts to infiltrate Battle and discover its secrets. It quickly becomes clear, though, that the solution is not that straight forward and Daniel has to separate the truth from the false trails that the killer has attempted to lay to divert attention away from his actions. The author explores many interesting topics whilst weaving this tale of mystery and intrigue; the lives lead by servants in great households at this time; how the Catholic priests remained hidden and moved around the country and the Continent; how faith was practised in secret; the folk tales and superstitions of ordinary people at the time; the tensions and competition in James’s court between the Scots and the English nobility; the strange practice of night creeping. All of it is absolutely fascinating and I was captivated by every aspect.

The book is very detailed and I suppose some readers may find that the level of description slows the plot somewhat. However, for me it works absolutely brilliantly if you come at it from the perspective of it being as much a historical novel as a murder mystery and that it is balanced as such. The detail and description is important to the book as the action, if you look at it this way, and the historical information gleaned is as rewarding as solving the puzzle of the murders. This is what makes it such a special and rewarding read for me, the sublime blending of historical fact and real people with fictional characters and the mystery plot. Just a delight.

Whilst tying up the particular conundrum of who has committed the murders in this book and why, the author has left enough questions hanging to tantalise the reader with anticipation for the next book. There are particular questions left about who is really controlling Daniel and why, whose side they are on, and what is their ultimate goal. Also, the fate of one character is left curiously unresolved and I, for one, have no sooner closed this novel than I am hankering for the next. Write faster please, Ms. Maitland! Daniel is a character I have completely fallen in love with for his skills, cunning and sense of honour, and I am also enjoying learning more about this period of history, which is one I have not studied in much detail. I already await the hardback of this book arriving to grace my library, and I can’t wait for book three.

Highly recommended for lovers of historical fiction and murder mysteries alike.

The Traitor in the Ice will be published in hardback, audio and ebook formats on 31 March and in paperback on 29 September, and you can pre-order a copy here.

About the Author

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Karen Maitland is an historical novelist, lecturer and teacher of Creative Writing, with over twenty books to her name. She grew up in Malta, which inspired her passion for history, and travelled and worked all over the world before settling in the United Kingdom. She has a doctorate in psycholinguistics, and now lives on the edge of Dartmoor in Devon.

Connect with Karen:

Website: https://karenmaitland.com/

Facebook: Karen Maitland

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Blog Tour: The Club by Ellery Lloyd

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The Home Group is a collection of ultra-exclusive private members’ clubs and a global phenomenon, and the opening of its most ambitious project yet – Island Home, a forgotten island transformed into the height of luxury – is billed as the celebrity event of the decade.

There’s no place like Home…

But as the first guests arrive, it turns out that even the most beautiful people can keep the ugliest secrets – secrets some will die to keep and others will kill to expose.

I’m delighted to be opening the blog tour today for The Club by Ellery Lloyd. I’m very grateful to Becca Bryant at Pan Macmillan for inviting me to review the book and providing me with a copy for that purpose. I have reviewed the book honestly and impartially as always.

There have been lots of thrillers recently involving small groups of people stranded in remote locations falling foul of a murderer. You might think that The Club is just another in this group by reading the blurb, but it is actually something a little different, and well worth picking up, even if you think you have heard it all before.

Ned and his brother Adam run a group of exclusive private members’ clubs around the world, catering to the glitterati and indulging their most extreme excesses. The opening of their latest venture, a club on an abandoned island just off the South Coast, promises to be a glamorous weekend of indulgence for the creme de la creme of the entertainment world, and everything has to be perfect. However, under the surface of all this perfection, dangerous tensions are simmering, ugly secrets are about to be revealed – it’s going to be murder!

This book is a fun thriller that exposes all the dark heart and flaws of celebrity and the lifestyle that some of these people live. The way that some believe their power, fame and money will protect them, even as they indulge in activity that society finds abhorrent or is actually criminal. The lengths they will go to to protect their reputations and how this leaves them open to manipulation by unscrupulous characters masquerading as friends.

The book is told from the viewpoint of four different characters, interspersed with extracts from a Vanity Fair article detailing the events of that weekend in the aftermath. It is a very clever way of revealing the story and the truth of the events bit by bit, leaving you guessing what has actually happened right until the end. It’s very easy to follow who is telling the story at any given time and, as the story is told sequentially, it is not at all confusing. The tone is quite light and easy, not too dark, despite the bleakness  of the story and the whole thing is very entertaining. The press release blurb suggests the book will appeal to fans of The White Lotus and, as someone who loved this show, I think this is a most apt comparison. (If you haven’t watched this show from 2021 on Sky, I highly recommend it, it is excellent and darkly humorous.) I was completely caught up in the story and read it over the course of only 24 hours because it was so addictive.

A lot of the characters in this book are unpleasant, but deliberately so. There are some you are desperate to see get their comeuppance, others you will be rooting for, and you might be left wondering which celebrities these two wicked writers have taken as their inspiration! Having read this, I will definitely go back and read their first book, which I seem to have overlooked despite it being a Richard and Judy Book Club pick. The Club has been chosen by Reese Witherspoon for her book club, which is a good enough endorsement for me and may persuade you to pick this up, if my review doesn’t.

The Club will be published on 31 March and you can pre-order your copy here.

Please follow the rest of the tour for alternative reviews of the book:

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About the Author

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Ellery Lloyd is the pseudonym for London-based husband-and-wife writing team Collette Lyons and Paul Vlitos. Collette is a journalist and editor, and former features editor at Stylist, content director of Elle and editorial director at Soho House. She has written for the Guardian, the Telegraph, and the Sunday Times as well as two travel books. Paul is the author of Welcome to the Working Week and Every Day is Like Sunday. He is subject leader for English Literature, Film, and Creative Writing at the University of Surrey.

Connect with Ellery Lloyd:

Website: https://www.ellerylloyd.com

Facebook: Ellery Lloyd Author

Twitter: @ElleryLloyd

Instagram: @ellerylloyd_author

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