The Tainted Vintage by Clare Blanchard #BlogTour #Extract (@CBcrime) @fahrenheitpress @damppebbles #TheTaintedVintage #damppebblesblogtours

the tainted vintage

“In the small Czech town of Vinice the mayor has been found dead in his wine cellar.

Detectives Jana Dvorska and Ivan Dambersky are called to the scene and soon realise that despite appearances, Mayor Slansky’s death was most definitely not from natural causes.

Almost immediately, the close-knit community closes ranks to try and brush the unexplained death under the carpet with the minimum of fuss.

Dvorska & Dambersky are drawn deeper and deeper into secrets that many hoped would remain buried forever and they’re forced into pursuing an investigation where their own lives are put in danger.

The Tainted Vintage is the first book in a wonderful new series set in and around The Czech Republic, an area rich in history, literature and culture that still remains largely unexplored by contemporary crime fiction fans.”

Delighted to be taking my turn on the blog tour today for The Tainted Vintage by Clare Blanchard. My thanks to Emma Welton at damp pebbles blog tours for inviting me on to the tour and to the author for allowing me to reproduce the extract from the book for you below.


On an instinctive whim, Dvorska went into silent mode to see what effect it would have on Mrs. Slanska, who she could see from these first few minutes was used to having the upper hand in most conversations. Under certain conditions, silence – especially when unexpected – could be one of the most powerful weapons in the interrogation repertoire. So, she flicked her inner mental switch into freewheel, focused softly on her breathing, in and out, in and out, and waited…

It couldn’t have been more than twenty seconds before she noticed the sharp blue eyes of Magda Slanska darting across at her over the immaculately ironed tablecloth, attempting to gauge her intentions. But Dvorska had arranged her features into a veil of blandness. Quietly, deliberately not meeting Mrs. Slanska’s gaze, she took another sip of her coffee, and waited a little longer. Her silence was starting to make Mrs. Slanska feel uncomfortable, as if she were being wordlessly probed. It was Dvorska’s hope that when the silence became too much for Mrs. Slanska, it would break at the point of greatest weakness in the family façade. So Dvorska waited a little longer.

“Of course Daniel was such a wonderful husband and father,” Slanska eventually blurted out with a proud flourish.

“Bingo!” thought Magda to herself, trying hard not to show her reactions. Mrs. Slanska’s last statement almost certainly meant that Daniel Slansky had been anything but a wonderful husband and father, just as she had suspected. Why else, she had been asking herself for the last twenty-four hours, would the Slansky children have been dispatched to their other grandmother in Brno at the very time when you would most expect a family to want to be together?

“I’m sure he was,” Dvorska answered, putting down her coffee cup and lying through her teeth. She went on, carefully maintaining her blandness: “This must be a terrible time for the children. You must be so worried about them.” Magda Slanska now clutched for all she was worth at the straw she had been offered. “Oh yes! – they’re absolutely devastated! They adored their father!” she effused in relief at restoring the conversation to the track from which she feared it had been derailed. But Dvorska now seriously doubted that the Slansky children had adored their father. 

“So Petr and Jirina are staying with their other grandmother in Brno?” she asked cheerfully, putting down her cup and standing up to leave.

“Oh, oh yes. They were so upset!” answered Mrs. Slanska, evidently a little surprised that Dvorska already knew the answer to the question she was asking.

“I can imagine,” said Dvorska. “Well, thank you so much for the delicious coffee. Don’t worry, I can see myself out!” And she was gone before Mrs. Slanska could think of anything more to say.

If this extract has whetted your appetite for the book, you will be pleased to know that The Tainted Vintage is out now and you can buy a copy here.

If you would like to read some reviews of the book, you can follow the blog tour below:

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About the Author

Clare Blanchard

Originally from the North Yorkshire coast in England, Clare Blanchard spent half her lifetime in the Czech Republic, where her books are mainly set. Inspired by Nordic noir, where the settings are often like another character in the plot, she writes crime mysteries and other fiction, usually with a historical twist. She loves beautiful landscapes and architecture, cross-country skiing, the wine of South Moravia, and of course Czech beer. When she’s not being literary she knits funky socks.

Connect with Clare:


Facebook: Clare Blanchard Books

Twitter: @CBcrime

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


“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


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


Hunter’s Revenge by Val Penny (Edinburgh Crime Mysteries #2) #BlogTour #BookReview (@valeriepenny) @crookedcatbooks @RaRaResources #HuntersRevenge #EdinburghCrimeMysteries

Hunters Revenge

After thoroughly enjoying Hunter’s Chase, the first book in the Edinburgh Crime Mysteries series by Val Penny (check out my review of that book here), I am delighted to be taking part today in the blog tour for the second book in the series, Hunter’s Revenge. My thanks to Rachel Gilbey at Rachel’s Random Resources for having me back and to the author and publisher for my copy of the book which I have reviewed honestly.

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“Hunter by name – Hunter by nature: DI Hunter Wilson will not rest until his friend’s death is revenged.

DI Hunter Wilson is called to the scene of a murder. He is shocked to find the victim is his friend and colleague, George Reinbold. Who would want to harm the quiet, old man? Why was a book worth £23,000 delivered to him that morning? Why is the security in George’s home so intense? Hunter must investigate his friend’s past as well as the present to identify the killer and identify George’s killer. Hunter also finds a new supply of cocaine from Peru flooding HMP Edinburgh and the city. The courier leads Hunter to the criminal gang but Hunter requires the help of his nemesis, the former Chief Constable, Sir Peter Myerscough and local gangster Ian Thomson to make his case. Hunter’s perseverance and patience are put to the test time after time in this taught crime thriller. “

This book started out really promisingly with the dramatic murder of a senior member of the Pathology department, so the murder is one that the police take personally and are determined to solve, so the whole team throw all of their efforts at it.

Everyone is back from the first book and, although it isn’t necessary to enjoy the book, I think the reader would benefit from having read the first book and having the back stories of the main characters so they can fully immerse themselves in the story. Val does include a lot of the characters’ personal live and activities outside of work in the stories as part of the plot so understanding who they are, who they have relationships with and why they are in the places they are in helps to unravel everything. I enjoy this aspect of the books, as it makes the police very human, but it is done to an unusual degree in these books so it can take some getting used to for fans of other authors who include less personal lives for their police officers.

There are also lots of links back to the plot from the first book, so having read that will make sense of why Tim’s father is in prison, along with some other important characters in the book, and why certain civilians are so closely connected with the police. Some of this could be a bit confusing to a reader coming to this book cold, although there is a certain amount of explanation to help you along.

Another of the great strengths of the book are the beautiful descriptions of Edinburgh that are included. There is a particular part where DI Hunter is walking through the city and describing his route, which I really enjoyed. As someone who is inordinately fond of Edinburgh, I think Val really does a wonderful job of making the city almost like another character in the books and really making it an integral part of the plot.

As the book went on, the plot got very convoluted and required a lot of explanation. This is a book that relies less on really dramatic events, and more on deduction, interviews and police discussing the case to move the plot along. It is not particularly gritty, and some of the interactions between the police are actually very light and amusing. There were also a couple of points where things that happened to move the plot along felt a bit too coincidental and convenient to me. None of this is necessarily a negative, just something for readers to be aware of when they pick up the book, as I think the cover could make the book seem a lot darker than the plot actually is.

A couple of small criticisms I did have were, a times the dialogue was a little unconvincing and sounded more like the author was using it to get necessary details in, rather than have people talking in a way that is natural. This was not a persistent problem, just in a couple of places but it did grate a little. The other issue was, at the end when all the suspects were in custody and the interviews were being conducted to conclude the plot, I just got lost and I am not sure I even got the sense of how the police had drawn the conclusion that the ultimate murderer was guilty. It was just a tiny bit too complicated.

This aside, I did enjoy the book, it was a good read and there is plenty to enjoy, especially learning more about the characters and how their stories are developing and how things have moved on from the first book. From the clues dropped here, it looks like there are some big changes afoot for the force in the next book and look forward to seeing what is in store for them going forward.

Hunter’s Revenge is out now and you can get your copy here.

To get a different perspective on the book, follow the tour below:

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About the Author

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Val Penny is an American author living in SW Scotland. She has two adult daughters of whom she is justly proud and lives with her husband and two cats. She has a Law degree from Edinburgh University and her MSc from Napier University. She has had many jobs including hairdresser, waitress, lawyer, banker, azalea farmer and lecturer. However she has not yet achieved either of her childhood dreams of being a ballet dancer or owning a candy store. Until those dreams come true, she has turned her hand to writing poetry, short stories and novels. Her first crime novel, ‘Hunter’s Chase’ set in Edinburgh, Scotland was published by Crooked Cat Books on 02.02.2018. The sequel, ‘Hunter’s Revenge’ will be published on 09.09.2018.

Connect with Val:


Facebook: Valerie Penny

Twitter: @valeriepenny

Instagram: @valerieepenny

Goodreads: Val Penny


Overkill by Vanda Symon #BookReview #BlogTour (@VandaSymon) @OrendaBooks @AnneCater #Overkill #RandomThingsTours #NewZealandNoir

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“When the body of a young mother is found washed up on the banks of the Mataura River, a small rural community is rocked by her tragic suicide. But all is not what it seems.

Sam Shephard, sole-charge police constable in Mataura, soon discovers the death was no suicide and has to face the realisation that there is a killer in town. To complicate the situation, the murdered woman was the wife of her former lover. When Sam finds herself on the list of suspects and suspended from duty, she must cast aside her personal feelings and take matters into her own hands.

To find the murderer … and clear her name.”

My turn today on the epic blog tour for Vanda Symon’s Overkill. My thanks to Anne Cater at Random Things Tours for my place on the tour and to the publisher for my copy of the book which I have reviewed honestly and impartially.

So, this is my first book in the new genre of New Zealand Noir and anyone thinking that this is just another label and that it isn’t really anything different from standard crime needs to read it as, having devoured the book, it is quite clear that the location is extremely distinctive and a very important element in the novel – this book and the plot could not have been set anywhere else in order to have worked.

The book is set in a small, rural town in a remote corner of New Zealand – the Kiwi version of a one horse town – where Sam Shepherd is the sole police officer. When the wife of her ex-boyfriend goes missing, she is torn between her personal and professional positions as she begins to investigate. Once the young woman’s body is found, supposedly the victim of suicide, things get even more complicated.

As I said, this book and its plot only works is because of its very particular setting. The fact that this is a small, rural town is extremely important to the plot, but also lends the book a focused and slightly claustrophobic atmosphere that ramps up the tension of the book. And tension there definitely is, this is a tautly plotted and well-paced crime novel that will keep you gripped from the disturbing opening scenes until the final frantic pages. The juxtaposition of sleepy town and violent crime, and familiar faces and suspicion are a major source of the conflict and unease in the book.

The character of Sam is a fascinating one to carry the book. She is strong-willed and determined but also often shows her humanity and weakness and the internal struggle between her professional duties and personal feelings is a fascinating aspect of the book and makes her very human and easy to relate to. Her intimate knowledge of the town and its people both assists and hampers her investigations, which is an interesting spin on the investigation and another reason why this plot only works in its very specific environment.

The plot did not at all go the way I had expected at the beginning and the final motivations for the crime so novel and unexpected that it would have been impossible to guess what was coming and I wonder where the writer got her inspiration. This is a book that I believe could only have been written by a New Zealander and set in New Zealand, It gave the book a very distinct flavour which I really enjoyed and I will look out for more from this author.

One for any crime fans looking for something new and a bit different.

Overkill is out tomorrow and you can order a copy here.

To find out what my fellow bloggers think of the book, you can follow the tour below:

Overkill Blog Tour Poster

About the Author


Vanda’s first novel Overkill, was written while juggling the demands of a 6 month old baby and a two year old. She suspects the prologue to Overkill was written in a state of sleep deprivation induced paranoia brought about by middle of the night feeds and imagining every awful thing that could possibly happen to her family. None of them ever did. Reading that prologue still makes her cry.

A little time has elapsed and the six-month old and two-year old are now teenagers. As well as trying to raise two wonderful human beings, she has added three more Detective Sam Shephard novels to the series and written the stand alone psychological thriller The Faceless.

As well as being a crime writer, she hosts a monthly radio show on Dunedin’s Otago Access Radio called Write On, where she interviews local writers, and catches the odd international super-star if they’re in town.

And just to prove that she is a tiger for punishment, she has recently completed a PhD at the University of Otago looking at the communication of science through crime fiction – the perfect subject for a science loving crime writer. She has an undergraduate degree in Pharmacy and enjoyed a career as a community pharmacist and palliative care pharmacist before concentrating on her writing career.

Vanda has been involved with the New Zealand Society of Authors for many years, having been chair of the Otago Southland Branch. She is currently the Otago Southland regional delegate on the NZSA Board. Vanda was also the Chair of Copyright Licensing New Zealand.

When she isn’t writing, Vanda can be found digging around in her garden in Dunedin, or on the business end of a fencing foil. She has fenced since high school and still competes in national and international competitions. As well as competing she coaches, and because she likes to get involved, boots and all, is the president of Fencing South and on the board of Fencing New Zealand.

Vanda is a founding member of the Dunedin Crime Writers Association, whose raison d’etre is for its members to drink beer or wine and talk crime writing at their favourite pub.

Connect with Vanda:


Facebook: Vanda Simon

Twitter: @vandasymon

Instagram: @vandasymon

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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:


Facebook: Roger Bray

Twitter: @rogerbray22

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Murder at Hawthorn Cottage (A Melissa Craig Cosy Mystery Book 1) by Betty Rowlands #BookReview (@BettyRowlandsFP) @Bookouture #cosycrime #NetGalley #MurderAtHawthornCottage #MelissaCraigCosyMystery


“Meet Melissa: cat lover, caring mother… daring detective? 

Melissa Craig is absolutely delighted with her new life in an old crumbling cottage, spending her days pruning the primroses and getting to know Binkie, the ginger cat next door. She only wishes she had made the move to the countryside sooner.

But when a knock at the door brings news of a shocking discovery, she suddenly finds herself thrown in to the middle of a baffling mystery: the bones of a young woman have been found in the woods just behind her new home.

Perhaps the little village of Upper Bembury is not as idyllic as it first seemed? 

Strange phone calls in the night convince Melissa that the police are barking up completely the wrong tree, so she can’t resist doing a little digging of her own. From the bingo hall to the beauty salon and beyond, her search ruffles a few feathers and uncovers many of the village’s most scandalous secrets, but gets her no closer to finding the culprit…

The discovery of a tatty old photograph in a drawer is the final piece of the puzzle she needs, but as a newcomer in this close-knit community, does Melissa have what it takes to get to the bottom of this extraordinary murder mystery alone?”

I wanted to have this review up yesterday, which was publication day for this book, but events overtook me so my apologies for that, but better late than never! This is the first in a planned re-publication by Bookouture of all twelve Melissa Craig mysteries by Betty Rowlands and, having read this one, I am very much looking forward to catching up with the rest of the series. This book was previously published as A Little Gentle Sleuthing.

Melissa Craig is a forty-something writer of crime fiction who moves from London for a quieter life a sleepy Cotswold village and to escape an unsatisfactory relationship. However, in the way of cosy crime novels. she soon finds that the village is not as sleepy as it seems and the discovery of a dead body in the local woods by Melissa’s neighbour stirs up a hornet’s nest of intrigue in which Melissa is soon embroiled, in the grand tradition of a Miss Marple or Jessica Fletcher.

This book is delightful. Melissa is a very warm and likeable character with just the right acerbic edge to give the story a bit of bite and make you buy into the fact she gets up to all kinds of derring do that are not naturally befitting introverted author types. The author gives her a variety of fascinating sidekicks including her artistic and slightly eccentric neighbour who plays devil’s advocate to Melissa’s wilder ideas and a young, idealistic reporter from the local paper who eggs her on and provides the useful source of pertinent information through his contacts. I really liked the fact that she is getting her support and information from a reporter rather than a police contact, it was a nice spin on the usual trope and allowed free rein for some unorthodox and possibly illegal investigative manoeuvres.

The plot has plenty of twists and turns and is predictably unlikely but extremely entertaining as it takes in the local vicar, a strip club and beauty salon. The author has a great line in gentle humour to keep the writing light and easy to read and I was engrossed from start to finish. I did feel that the plot sped up a little too much at the end and the crime was solved in a bit of a confused and rapid jumble that could have done with being drawn out slightly longer to make more sense but we got a satisfying conclusion in the end and at this point I was so in love with the characters and the setting that I forgave the author this and was ready to leap in to the next one.

A great book for fans of Agatha Christie and M. C. Beaton and lovely addition to the cosy crime canon.

Murder at Hawthorn Cottage is out now and you can buy a copy here.

About the Author


Betty Rowlands burst on to the crime scene by winning the Sunday Express / Veuve Clicquot Crime Short Story of the Year Competition. Her success continued with her highly acclaimed Melissa Craig mysteries. She is an active member of the Crime Writers’ Association and regularly gives talks and readings and serves on panels in crime writing conventions.

Connect with Betty:


Facebook: Fans of Betty Rowlands

Twitter: @BettyRowlandsFP

Goodreads: Betty Rowlands

Stitch Up by William McIntyre #BookReview #BlogTour (@Best_Defence) @SandstonePress #StitchUp #TartanNoir

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Excited to be taking part in the blog tour today for Stitch Up by William McIntyre. My thanks to Ceris Jones at Sandstone Press for inviting me on to the tour and for my copy of the book which I have reviewed honestly and impartially.


“Everything is coming up roses for Robbie Munro, newly married and living in the country with wife and child. That is until his wife takes up employment abroad just as old flame, Jill Green, asks him to investigate the unexplained death of her partner.

Suspecting foul play, Jill insists Robbie turns poacher to gamekeeper and does whatever it takes to find the killer with no expense spared. Another killer on the loose is child-murderer Ricky Hertz, whose twenty-year-old conviction is under scrutiny.

Was the evidence at his trial fabricated? Suspicion falls on Robbie’s father who now faces a criminal prosecution. The only way to prove ex-Police Sergeant Alex Munro’s innocence is for Robbie to show there was no miscarriage of justice.

I was really excited to be asked to review this book as I particularly enjoy fiction with a legal element, given my background in law and I have to say I was not disappointed. Although this is the ninth book in the Best Defence series, it is the first one I have read but it will definitely not be the last.

The main character in the book, Robbie Munro, is a criminal lawyer just like the author and McIntyre’s background knowledge really shines through in the writing and makes the book feel very authentic (although I’m not sure most real lawyers would go as far as he done in the pursuit of the truth). I really enjoyed the legal spin on the traditional crime thriller, it gave an interesting and unusual perspective that was refreshing.

The characters in this book are entertaining and, on the most part, very likeable and I was drawn through the book very easily, my interest held from page to page. Robbie’s personal life features quite heavily, particularly as his father is the subject of one of the two story lines, and I really enjoyed this aspect, particularly the appearances of his daughter, who is a feisty six-year-old with a lot of opinions she is not afraid to express. It gave the book a lightness amongst the tension which was very enjoyable.

As indicated above, there are two plots running along side by side. One is the re-opening of an old case involving Robbie’s father which he gets involved in in the hopes of keeping his father from jail. The other is a recent death that he is invited to investigate by his ex-fiance. The dual story lines were both well-plotted and intriguing and kept the book interesting and moving forward. There were plenty of twists and turns to propel the book forwards and I did not see most of them coming, the writing is very clever. I really enjoyed the whole tone of the book, it was very easy to get engrossed in.

The book is set in Linlithgow, not a place I know well, and I really loved the flavour of Scotland infused throughout. Tartan Noir is a big trend at the moment and this book is a welcome addition to the genre.

I would highly recommend this book and I will definitely be going back to read the previous books in the series.

Stitch Up is out now and you can buy a copy here.

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About the Author


William McIntyre is a lawyer involved in criminal defence work for so long that he can remember when the Scots Criminal Justice System was regarded as the best in the world, the days when it was ‘better that ten guilty men go free than one innocent man be convicted.’

Stitch Up is William McIntyre’s fourth Best Defence Mystery published by Sandstone Press.

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Facebook: The Best Defence Series

Twitter: @Best_Defence

Goodreads: William H S McIntyre