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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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About the Author

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

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

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

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

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

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

Connect with Andrew:

Website: http://andrewfield.info

Facebook: Andrew Field

Twitter: @AFwithoutrules

Instagram: @afnoir_

damppebbles blog tours

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

The River Runs Red cover

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

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

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

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

Who is the man they’ve nicknamed Snowflake?

Who is turning the river red?”

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The River Runs Red banner

About the Author

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

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

Hope you enjoy my Hanne Drais books.

Connect with Ally:

Twitter: @AllyRoseAuthor

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

About the Author

Graeme Cumming - Author

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

A House Divided (Division Bell Book 1) by Rachel McLean #BlogTour #BookReview #PublicationDay (@rachelmcwrites) @RaRaResources @jed_mercurio #AHouseDivided #DivisionBell

A House Divided

Delighted to be taking part in the blog tour for A House Divided by Rachel McLean on its Publication Day, so happy publication day, Rachel. This is the first book in a trilogy, and I will be reviewing all three parts over the coming months, so watch out for parts two and three on 23 October and 20 November. My thanks to Rachel Gilbey of Rachel’s Random Resources for my place on the tour and the author and publisher for my copy of the book which I have reviewed honestly.

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“Jennifer Sinclair is many things: loyal government minister, loving wife and devoted mother.

But when a terror attack threatens her family, her world is turned upside down. When the government she has served targets her Muslim husband and sons, her loyalties are tested. And when her family is about to be torn apart, she must take drastic action to protect them.

A House Divided is a tense and timely thriller about political extremism and divided loyalties, and their impact on one woman.”

If, like me, you have been glued to BBC One’s ‘Bodyguard’ over the past six weeks (and who hasn’t, it was fabulous, Jed Mercurio is a genius), no doubt you will be feeling as bereft as I am now it has finished. Well, I have the solution for you and it is to read A House Divided. Everything you loved about Bodyguard (except Richard Madden, sadly)  and more.

The book is set in the very near future, as Britain is affected by a twin terror attack on Birmingham and London. At the centre of the storm is Jennifer Sinclair, a junior Home Office minister and MP for a  Birmingham constituency – who also happens to be married to a British-born Muslim, with two Muslim sons. Jennifer is drawn into the political storm over how to tackle terrorism and finds her loyalties divided between her professional and personal lives.

I would call this book a dystopian thriller, except it is all too scarily plausible to believe that this is not a very real depiction of a possible future, and a not too distant one at that. In fact, it was more akin to a horror story for me. I got the same feeling reading this as  do reading Aldous Huxley’s Brave New World, a feeling that this book could be terrifyingly prescient.

The characters in the book are very believable, in particular Jennifer who is someone I could relate to very easily, as a woman torn between motherhood and professional ambition. I was totally aligned with her as I went through the book and, as a result, I felt the tension through her internal battles, parental struggles and political manoeuvring and backstabbing. And backstabbing aplenty there is. Anyone who loved Michael Dobb’s House of Cards trilogy as I did will be captivated by this book and the potential as to where the next two books will take the reader.

This book is every bit as gripping as the finale of Bodyguard, especially the last quarter, and my heart was racing and I was unable to put the book down. On the edge of your seat reading with a disturbing level of believability that has left me unsettled, but also desperate to read Book 2. And one burning question – why the hell would anyone want to be a politician?

A House Divided is published today and you can get your copy by following this link.

To check out a variety of opinions on this book, make sure to visit the blogs of the other wonderful bloggers on the tour:

A House Divided Full Tour Banner

About the Author

A House Divided - rachel mclean

I’m Rachel McLean and I write thrillers and speculative fiction.

I’m told that the world wants upbeat, cheerful stories – well, I’m sorry but I can’t help. My stories have an uncanny habit of predicting future events (and not the good ones). They’re inspired by my work at the Environment Agency and the Labour Party and explore issues like climate change, Islamophobia, the refugee crisis and sexism in high places. All with a focus on how these impact individual people and families.

You can find out more about my writing, get access to deals and exclusive stories or become part of my advance reader team by joining my book club at rachelmclean.com/bookclub.

Connect with Rachel:

Website: https://rachelmclean.com

Facebook: Rachel McLean

Twitter: @rachelmcwrites

Instagram: @rachelmcwrites

Goodreads: Rachel McLean

Perfect Girls by Alison James #BlogTour #BookReview (@AlisonJbooks) @Bookouture #PerfectGirls #NetGalley

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“Phoebe. Tiffany. Melissa. They all made one little mistake…

When twenty-five-year-old Phoebe Stiles opens the door to her perfect apartment she doesn’t realise it’s the mistake that will kill her…

The body of the beautiful English girl is discovered months later – dumped behind the back of a department store. But who was the stranger she let into the safety of her home?

As Detective Rachel Prince pieces together the mystery surrounding Phoebe’s death, another young, blonde girl is found brutally murdered and abandoned in the grounds of an old theatre.

In the most dangerous case of her career, Rachel must track down the faceless individual to stop the body count rising. But to uncover the shocking truth, Rachel has to put herself at risk… can she catch the twisted killer, before they catch her?”

Delighted to be on the blog tour today for Perfect Girls by Alison James. My thanks to Noelle Holton at Bookouture for inviting me on to the tour and for my copy of the book via NetGalley which I have reviewed honestly and impartially.

This is the first book I have read by Alison James, so I am coming to the series cold without any preconceptions as to her writing or the characters, although I believe this is the third book featuring Detective Rachel Prince. Having read this book, I will definitely go back and read the first two, as I really enjoyed both the style of writing and the characters in this book, although it was not entirely without fault.

The action in the book starts very quickly as we are drawn in to an ambitious case, where Rachel Prince is charged with representing British interests in a case of a murdered English reality star in Los Angeles. The plot is one it is easy to become embroiled in as we feel Rachel’s frustration and her impotence as a token guest on a case in a foreign country that she does not believe is being handled correctly. The plot moved along smartly and I was very engrossed in the puzzle of the crime and whether it was linked to other similar murders or not.

Rachel Prince is an easy protagonist to relate to. She is the kind of woman a lot of us would aspire to be, intelligent, successful, talented, independent, strong – or that is certainly how she comes across in this book, although it would seem she has a complicated romantic past that is referred back to here. That just serves to make her more human and approachable. I found the romantic tension between her and Rob a compelling and very realistic thread in the book too.

For the first two thirds, the book is an intellectual puzzle as the detective investigates in the usual way, following leads and piecing together clues to try and identify the murderer. She does half of this off the books, having been taken off the case when the British girl’s murder is deemed solved but Rachel disagrees. At this point, I began to query how realistic her behaviour, and the behaviour of other professionals in the book was, as they were doing a lot of things unofficially that made me skeptical. It was still entertaining but your enjoyment from this point forward will depend on how far you are prepared to suspend your disbelief and accept that this is fiction so realism is a flexible thing.

When it came to the denouement, real physical action kicks in which is a welcome change of pace and tone. However, something happens which I really struggled to buy into, given the character and behaviour of DI Prince throughout the rest of the book. I can’t say too much without giving away the plot but I just didn’t believe it, it jarred for me with what had been set out in the first 80% of the story. It was a shame, as I had really enjoyed the rest of it and was very invested in the story and the characters and had been racing through to find out what happened.

This is a great story, fast-paced and intriguing with well-drawn, relatable characters and a fascinating spin in the shape of the foreign setting. I really like the writer’s voice and enjoyed the majority of the book, with just a disappointing mis-step at the end. This will not stop me looking out for more from this author. People less pedantic than me may not have the same issues.

Perfect Girls is out now and you can buy a copy here.

To follow the other blogs on the tour, check out the tour poster below:

Perfect Girls - Blog Tour

About the Author

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Born in the Cotswolds, Alison spent most of her formative years abroad. She studied languages at Oxford, then became a journalist and author, returning to university after her two children to take a law degree. After a three-year stint as a criminal paralegal, Alison worked as a commercial copywriter and then a TV storyliner, before coming full circle to write fiction again.

Connect with Alison:

Facebook: Alison James

Twitter: @AlisonJbooks

Goodreads: Alison James

The Goodnight Song by Nick Hollin #BookReview #BlogBlitz #PublicationDay (@vonmaraus) @Bookouture #NetGalley #TheGoodnightSong

The-Goodnight-Song-Kindle

“What would you do if someone used your deepest secrets to commit the darkest crimes?

When the cold, lifeless body of a policeman is pulled from the Thames in the early hours of the morning, it appears at first glance to be a terrible accident.

But when old diary pages predicting the exact details of the crime start appearing online, ex-criminal psychologist and owner of the diary, Nathan Radley, becomes the number one suspect in the most terrifying murder investigation the London police has ever seen.

Nathan’s partner, Detective Katie Rhodes knows that he is innocent, because she was with him the night of the attack. But as more extracts are posted, and more bodies begin to surface, how much longer can she ignore the connection?

The trail leads Katie from one dead end to another, until a tiny clue buried deep within the pages leads them to a new suspect; someone dangerous, someone close, someone they trusted…”

Happy to be joining the publication day celebrations for The Goodnight Song by Nick Hollin with my review, albeit a little late in the day. I hope you have had a fabulous publication day, Nick. My thanks to Noelle Holton at Bookouture for my copy of the book via NetGalley, which I have reviewed honestly and impartially.

This is the second book featuring Nathan Radley and Detective Katie Rhodes and the events follow on from those in book one which, unfortunately, I have not read. I have to say that, whilst the writer does a good job of filling in as much back story as possible without regurgitating the whole plot of the first book, I think I would have benefitted from reading Book One, Dark Lies, first so I had a full understanding of the events in that book, as they did play a major part in this book. I felt I was floundering a little by not knowing the full story and playing catch up. My enjoyment of this book would have been greatly enhanced had I read book one and not had to concentrate so hard on working out what had gone before to enjoy this story. So, top tip – read Book One first!

That being said, it is possible to pick up the plot from this book as a standalone – it just takes a bit more work – and once I had got it all sorted, I was fully invested in the story. The dynamic between the two main characters is fantastic, the author has written them both brilliantly and we are given the story equally from both their perspectives which is unusual and a really interesting spin on the detective genre, particularly as they are in a relationship which it is fascinating to see from both sides. They had such different takes and approaches to the situation they find themselves in.

Nathan is quite a divisive character, as the good guy with bad thoughts and I can see why  people can’t quite decide how to take him. Again, this is a fascinating idea to explore and I really enjoyed watching it play out throughout the book as he switches between hero and potential villain in the eyes of the other characters, and thus in the reader’s eyes, over the course of the story. We are never sure whether he can be trusted or not until the end, in fact he doesn’t even seem one hundred percent sure himself, which keeps the reader continually on the edge of their seats.

This book is a very fast paced and tense thriller, with a myriad of twists and turns throughout. Everyone seems to be hiding something and everyone is a potential suspect to the point where I had absolutely no idea is anyone could be trusted at all or how the story was going to end up and my head was spinning with different theories, none of which turned out to be correct in the end, so the author did a great job of throwing in false clues and red herrings to confuse the reader and keep us on our toes. At times, the story got a little too confusing and convoluted and I got a bit lost. A couple of characters were brought in to the frame on what seemed like fairly tenuous links and flimsy evidence to me and the connections between some of the characters were complicated and coincidental to the point of stretching my credulity almost to breaking point. I am not sure, now knowing the ending, that I would ever have got there in a month of Sundays by myself or that I have still unraveled in my head all the connections but it has definitely given my brain a work out!

This book is an engrossing, fast-paced and intelligent read, suitable for anyone who likes cryptic puzzles and to have their brain and nerves stretched by a book. I would recommend it for crime fans, but make sure you read Dark Lies  first to get the most out of it. Now I’m off to rest my poor, tired spaghetti brain.

The Goodnight Song is out today and you can buy a copy here. The first Rhodes and Radley thriller, Dark Lies is available here.

To see what my fellow bloggers on the blitz thought of the book, check out the blogs below:

The Goodnight Song - Blog Tour

About the Author

N HOLLIN BOOK PHOTO

From bookbinder to gardener to forensic analyst, Nick has enjoyed an extremely varied working life. At home his interests are equally diverse, but nothing beats books. Collecting, reading, writing, they have always been a passion in one form or another. A graduate of Royal Holloway’s Creative Writing Masters, he’s fulfilling a long-held dream of being published and hopes to be at this for a good while yet. He lives in Cambridgeshire with his partner, young son and cat. 

Connect with Nick:

Twitter: @vonmaraus

 

Blood Ribbon by Roger Bray #BookReview #BlogTour (@rogerbray22) @annecater #RandomThingsTours #BloodRibbon

Blood Ribbon Cover

“When Brooke Adams is found battered, bleeding, and barely conscious, the police are at a loss as to who her attacker is or why she was targeted. Then, PI Rod Morgan turns up convinced that Brooke’s attack is the latest in a string of unsolved disappearances dating back thirty-five years. The police, however, aren’t convinced, leaving Brooke and Rod to investigate the cases themselves. As secrets from the past start unravelling it becomes a maze, deeper, darker, and far more sinister than either of them could have imagined. Will they find Brooke’s attacker before he strikes again, or will that one secret stay buried forever?”

Happy to be taking my turn on the tour today for Blood Ribbon by Roger Bray. My thanks to Anne Cater at Random Things Tours for my invitation and to the author for my copy of the book which I have reviewed honestly and impartially.

Can I just say how much I love the cover of this book? It is really striking and brilliantly encapsulates the story. So clever, might be one of my favourites for this genre.

This is a really solid thriller that has a gripping and disturbing premise at its heart that I won’t say too much about as it’s not hinted at in the blurb and I don’t want to give anything away, but it has a historical and psychological basis that is revealed throughout the book in a way that will keep you turning the pages until the very end.

The main character is Brooke, a young student who survives an attack on her which looks like it may be the latest in a string of historical crimes in the same area. Brooke is a very strong and determined person and, when the police don’t seem to be getting anywhere in investigating her crime due to lack of evidence, she teams up with a retired detective and PI with a theory about the crime, to try and track down her attacker herself. Whether or not this is a wise decision, you will have to read the book to find out.

The book is set on the coast of Oregon, which was great as I love any book set in the USA, especially those areas which are away from the normal settings we would visit as international tourists. The author does a good job of bringing the setting to life, and making it important to the plot. I would have liked even more description of the area, but I think that’s probably a personal preference because I can’t get enough of getting lost in the scenery of America, there will probably be the perfect amount for most readers who want to be able to imagine the place where the action is taking place in their mind’s eye but not be bogged down by description.

One of the major strengths of this book is the relationships the author creates between Brooke and her friends. Brooke has an unusual family situation, and the important relationships in this book are unconventional but no less meaningful for that, per haps more so even. Her history and the way her close relationships have been built makes those relationships, and the threat to them by the antagonist in the book, even more poignant and important to the reader when creating peril. It is extremely well crafted and, for me, is what really carried the book and made me so invested in it that I had to race to the end. The author also is not afraid to make some hard choices about who to imperil, which I admire and makes a huge difference in these sort of books and to your heart rate when you are reading as you realise, no one is safe.

If I had to point out a tiny negative, there were some points near the beginning where there was a little too much exposition that could have lost me if the author had not set up the character of Brooke so strongly from the start so that I was already invested in discovering her story. However, this was a flaw only noticeable in some very early chapters of the book and seemed to abate very quickly and did not appear later on and it was a very tiny issue that could easily be overcome by a further edit. It did not detract from my enjoyment of this book at all.

I really, really enjoyed this book. It was very original and riveting and I read it in only two sittings over the course of 24 hours. My iPad ran out of charge with only 20 pages to go which made me scream with frustration because we were at the tense denouement at this point and I was desperate to know how it ended. This a fabulous addition to the thriller genre, I am so glad that I got the opportunity to discover this author and I can’t wait to go back and read his previous work. I recommended picking up this book as soon as possible if you are looking for an engrossing read.

Blood Ribbon is out now and is available to buy here.

To follow the rest of the tour, check out the links to the other fantastic blogs taking part below:

Final Blood Ribbon Blog Tour poster

About the Author

Roger Bray Author Pic

I have always loved writing; putting words onto a page and bringing characters to life. I can almost feel myself becoming immersed into their lives, living with their fears and triumphs. Thus, my writing process becomes an endless series of questions. What would she or he do, how would they react, is this in keeping with their character? Strange as it sounds, I don’t like leaving characters in cliffhanging situations without giving them an ending, whichever way it develops.
My life to date is what compels me to seek a just outcome, the good will overcome and the bad will be punished. More though, I tend to see my characters as everyday people in extraordinary circumstances, but in which we may all find our selves if the planets align wrongly or for whatever reason you might consider.

Of course, most novels are autobiographical in some way. You must draw on your own experiences of life and from events you have experienced to get the inspiration. My life has been an endless adventure. Serving in the Navy, fighting in wars, serving as a Police officer and the experiences each one of those have brought have all drawn me to this point, but it was a downside to my police service that was the catalyst for my writing.

Medically retired after being seriously injured while protecting a woman in a domestic violence situation I then experienced the other side of life. Depression and rejection. Giving truth to the oft said saying that when one door closes another opens I pulled myself up and enrolled in college gaining bachelor and master degrees, for my own development rather than any professional need. The process of learning, of getting words down onto the page again relit my passion for writing in a way that I hadn’t felt since high school.

So here we are, two books published and another on track.

Where it will take me I have no idea but I am going to enjoy getting there and if my writing can bring some small pleasure into people’s lives along the way, then I consider that I will have succeeded in life.

Connect with Roger:

Website: https://rogerbraybooks.com

Facebook: Roger Bray

Twitter: @rogerbray22

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