The prison doors slam shut behind Agla when her sentence for financial misconduct ends, but her lover Sonja is not there to meet her. As a group of foreign businessmen tries to draw Agla into an ingenious fraud that stretches from Iceland around the world, Agla and her former nemesis María find the stakes being raised at a terrifying speed. Ruthless entrepreneur Ingimar will stop at nothing to protect his empire, but he has no idea about the powder keg he is sitting on in his own home. And at the same time, a deadly threat to Sonja and her family brings her from London back to Iceland, where she needs to settle scores with longstanding adversaries if she wants to stay alive…
The lives of these characters are about to collide in a shocking crescendo until the winner takes it all…
I received a copy of this book from Orenda Books in return for an honest review.
This is the final book in an Iceland Noir trilogy, which explores the underbelly of Iceland. The underworld of crime that appears to be gaining a foothold, as Iceland becomes increasingly globalised.
I haven’t read the previous two books in this trilogy, and so can only review the final book. Whilst I gained a taste of the ethos of the setting, and the motivations of the main characters, this would be more powerful, if you read the previous two books.
The story focuses on Agla, Maria, Sonja and Ingimar. characters featuring in the two previous books. The characters have experienced various fortunes as the story progresses, and in the main, they are not easy to empathise. Drugs, financial crime and stripping of natural resources are the main themes in this final part of the story. There is also a terrorist subplot which runs concurrently, but the connection with the other crimes is not immediately apparent.
The pacing is fast, and this makes it unique in Iceland and Scandinavian Noir, The plot is complex and original, and the characters. who are explored in some detail in this book are intriguing, if not likeable.
The ending is powerful.
Icelandic crime-writer Lilja Sigurdardóttir was born in the town of Akranes in 1972 and raised in Mexico, Sweden, Spain and Iceland. An award-winning playwright, Lilja has written four crime novels, including Snare and Trap, the first two books in the Reykjavik Noir trilogy, which have hit bestseller lists worldwide. The film rights have been bought by Palomar Pictures in California. She lives in Reykjavík with her partner.
A man with dark thoughts on his mind is racing along the remote snowy roads of Hurmevaara in Finland when there is a flash in the sky and something crashes into the car. That something turns about to be a highly valuable meteorite. With euro signs lighting up the eyes of the locals, the unexpected treasure is temporarily placed in a neighbourhood museum, under the watchful eye of a priest named Joel.
But Joel has a lot more on his mind than simply protecting the riches that have apparently rained down from heaven. His wife has just revealed that she is pregnant. Unfortunately, Joel has strong reason to think the baby isn’t his.
As Joel tries to fend off repeated and bungled attempts to steal the meteorite, he must also come to terms with his own situation and discover who the father of the baby really is.
I received a copy of this book from Orenda Books in return for an honest review.
If you’re searching for something original and quirky to read, this is it. Apart from the unique plot, this is a wonderfully descriptive story, with vividly portrayed characters.
The story starts with an unlikely and unusual event, that snowballs into a fast-paced thriller, with curious insight into human nature, and what happens when there is a chance to make easy money. There are many satirical observations, which will appeal to many.
The story is many things and so will have a wide appeal. The characters are mainly, not easy to like, the chance to be rich, brings out the dark side of many of the villagers. It also draws in other criminals interested in profiting from the strange event. There are some astute observations on humanity, and how it differs living in such a claustrophobic, dark setting.
A short, but action-packed read, with humorous and poignant character observations. A refreshingly different Scandi Crime novel.
Finnish Antti Tuomainen was an award-winning copywriter when he made his literary debut in 2007 as a suspense author. In 2011, Tuomainen’s third novel, The Healer, was awarded the Clue Award for ‘Best Finnish Crime Novel of 2011’ and was shortlisted for the Glass Key Award. Two years later, in 2013, the Finnish press crowned Tuomainen the ‘King of Helsinki Noir’ when Dark as My Heart was published. With a piercing and evocative style, Tuomainen was one of the first to challenge the Scandinavian crime genre formula, and his poignant, dark and hilarious The Man Who Died (2017) became an international bestseller, shortlisting for the Petrona and Last Laugh Awards. Palm Beach Finland (2018) was an immense success, with The Times calling Tuomainen ‘the funniest writer in Europe’.
When Genevieve’s seven-year-old son is found bleeding to death in his own home, she’s horrified when the police turn to her for answers. There’s no evidence of a break-in, and parts of Genevieve’s story don’t seem to make sense. But could a mother really kill her own child?
Twenty-four hours later, teenager Nora Florette is reported missing – and panic begins to spread. Someone is preying on the local children – and the police are caught in a race against time to catch the killer.
Detective Nick Fourcade and his partner Annie Broussard must uncover the truth about Genevieve’s past before it’s too late. Is she simply a grieving mother? Or is she a danger to them all?
I received a copy of this book from Orion Books – Trapeze Books via NetGalley in return for an honest review.
It’s a while since I’ve read a thriller by this author, who has always been a favourite of mine. Coincidentally, this story is set in the Louisiana Bayou area, where her earlier novels that I enjoyed so much were set.
The story concerns the murder of a young boy, which is not easy to read, but the descriptions are not overly graphic, concentrating more on the emotions of the detectives and the suspects.
The plot is cleverly written, nothing is as it appears on the surface. With each twist, the suspects’ increase, the suspense builds, and the detective’s skills are pushed to their limits.
The characters are distinctive and depict the Cajun population of the area well. The politics of police work and the public relations angle of a high profile murder case is integral to this thriller, Nick Fourcade is a powerful character, driven, but maverick. The person you’d want investigating if you’d lost someone. Annie Broussard, his wife is equally dedicated, but she provides her husband with the grounding he needs to work in such a politically correct setting.
Their relationship inevitably reflects their work, and since their son is a similar age to the victim, they are both personally, as well as professionally affected by the tragedy, and its outcome.
A fast-paced, intense thriller, with relentless suspense building, a cast of close-knit believable characters, and clever detectives with human flaws, who are easy to empathise. Addictive, reading with a unique setting and characters that keep you reading.
Spend a white Christmas on Summer Island, where the fires are warm
and the romance is hotter
Lila Sloan wonders why she ever thought house-sitting for her
sister Meg on the remote Summer Island was a good idea. And to make matters
worse, local real estate developer Beck Grainger is trying to cut down the
beautiful trees that line the property. Lila can’t let this happen; Meg will
never forgive her.
Beck can understand Lila’s anger—sort of. The trees are actually
on the neighboring property, and the land was zoned for development months ago,
so his plans were no secret. But he dislikes being at odds with his friend’s
sister, especially because Lila is appealing in every way: loyal, quick-witted
and completely stunning.
Lila hates that she’s so attracted to Beck, who seems like a
genuinely good man, despite his tree-murdering tendencies. And their chemistry
is off the charts. She just wishes he’d let this development go. As Summer
Island counts down to a snowy Christmas, Lila and Beck will have to strike a
compromise that seems impossible for them both—or risk losing the best thing
either of them has ever had.
I received a copy of this book from Harlequin Books via NetGalley in return for an honest review.
The second in the Summer Island series, it’s close to Christmas and it’s snowing, the idyllic setting for this lovely feel-good romance. Lila is on Summer Island to help her older sister Meg, who is taking time out with her new boyfriend. Lila is hurting, after a bad experience at work, which forces her to rethink her career. Helping her sister gives her the solitude she needs until someone disturbs it. Forcing Lila into a confrontation she neither needs or feels capable of,but she has to protect her sister’s business and their childhood memories.
Lila and Beck feel the heat, despite the snow and their difference of opinion. Their relationship is full of conflict, as they battle over the wood, their unwanted feelings, emotional angst and the other person in their relationship. It is through compromise, friendship and understanding of each other’s emotional damage, that finally makes them see that they may have a future.
This reads well as a standalone story, but the cast of characters are lovely, and I would like to read the first one and those that follow.
Emotional romance, compassionate friendships and a lovely snowy setting make this a perfect holiday romantic read.
THE GIVING HEART by Toni Blake – Excerpt
Five long, cold
minutes later a tall, broad-shouldered man wearing a winter coat with blue
jeans and some weird, worn, leathery sort of cowboy hat on his head came
walking down from the direction of West Bluff. Despite herself, and for the
first time ever in her life, she found herself envying work boots like the ones
he had on because they appeared so sturdy and dry. She braced herself for a
When she looked up
at him, two things struck her simultaneously. First, he was ridiculously
handsome—with dark hair peeking out from beneath that dumb hat, and dark
stubble on his chiseled jaw to match. And second, his
warm brown eyes wore that same confused, cautious look as the man on the
bulldozer’s as he said, “I’m Beck Grainger. And…there seems to be some sort of
Lila drew back. This
was Beck Grainger? Who Meg had spoken of so fondly? And even Suzanne, too,
during their short visit yesterday, had mentioned him as a friend. Meg had told
her he’d been interested in dating Suzanne and she’d declined, but they both
still thought he was a great guy.
“Well, I’m Lila
Sloan,” she said. “And yes, there’s a problem. I’m not letting you destroy
Meg’s property value like this.”
dark eyebrows shot up beneath his leathery brim. “You’re Meg’s sister?”
She gave a terse,
The handsome man
sighed, shifting his weight from one work boot to the other. “Look, no one is
trying to destroy anyone’s property value. And I assumed Meg knew about this.
It’s not a secret. It was brought publicly before the town council and zoned
for residential use back in the spring.”
Ugh. None of this
was good news. But Lila was certain Meg didn’t know. Her sister had been
dealing with a lot this past year and perhaps hadn’t been paying attention to
island business. They’d actually discussed these very woods over the
Thanksgiving table last week, recalling how they’d played here as children when
their grandmother was still alive and running the place. Meg said that a couple
of years ago she’d crossed the stream to plant some shade-loving trillium and blue
cranesbill among the trees, and that the small blooms had added color visible
from the patio each of the last two summers. Meg loved and valued these trees.
And Lila brimmed with anger that no one had made Meg aware of this—but that was
neither here nor there. “I can assure you she doesn’t know.”
The handsome man’s
brow narrowed skeptically. “Well, if it’s a problem for her, why didn’t she
just pick up the phone and call me?”
“Because she’s away
right now—traveling. And even if she were here, she wouldn’t have known you
were the person to call. And maybe she would have done something
sensible—because Meg is definitely sensible—like contact someone on the town
council. But I, being less sensible and more rash, took a more direct approach.
Meg left me in charge of the inn while she’s away—and I can’t let you do this.
I just can’t.”
The tilt of Beck
Grainger’s handsome head told her he was going to try reasoning with her. “You
know, it’s not gonna be that bad. Luxury homes. With big yards. They’ll fit into
the landscape.” He even ended the sentence with a wink. Was he serious? Given
what Lila had been through recently, he was definitely barking up the wrong
tree with an elitist suggestion that rich people made better neighbors.
“I don’t care
what you’re building—you’re doing it at the expense of my sister’s inn. People
stay here because of the ambiance and atmosphere. They stay here to listen to
crickets in the trees and see fireflies blinking in the woods. We played in
these trees as kids. They’ve been growing here since…well, since before Summer
Island was even Summer Island. I can’t let you tear them down.”
USA Today bestselling author Toni Blake’s love of writing began when she won an essay contest in the fifth grade. Since then, she has written over twenty contemporary romance novels. Her books have received the National Readers’ Choice Award, the Booksellers’ Best Award, her work has been excerpted in Cosmopolitan, and she has been nominated for a RITA Award. Toni lives with her husband in Northern Kentucky.
Four strangers are missing. Left at their last-known locations are birthday cards that read:
YOUR GIFT IS THE GAME. DARE TO PLAY?
The police aren’t worried – it’s just a game. But the families are frantic. As psychologist and private detective Dr Augusta Bloom delves into the lives of the missing people, she finds something that binds them all.
And that something makes them very dangerous indeed.
As more disappearances are reported and new birthday cards uncovered, Dr Bloom races to unravel the mystery and find the missing people.
But what if, this time, they are the ones she should fear?
I received a copy of this book from Random House UK – Transworld Publishers – Black Swan via NetGalley in return for an honest review.
A thriller with a strong psychological element and complex, sinister characters. It is slow-paced and focuses on unravelling the psyche of a schoolgirl, and a group of missing people, who appear to have left their lives to join a mind game.
The main protagonists are a criminal psychologist and her partner, who specialises in finding missing persons. Augusta Bloom is the stronger of the characters, and she takes the lead into finding the missing people, who appear to be drawn to a strange, potentially dangerous game. Her professional meetings with a schoolgirl who has been involved in a violent incident run alongside her other investigation. Are they connected directly, or indirectly or not at all? Where are the missing people? Are the victims or the antagonists?
The build of suspense is good, the knowledge of the human mind apparent, and you learn interesting facts about profiling and psychopaths. These subjects need to intrigue you for this novel to appeal, the clues are there, but well-spaced, so unless you have a good memory, you may forget them when they are returned too,
Worth reading, if you are interested in what makes the human mind work, from a psychologist’s point of view. and enjoy case study thrillers.
PLAY Andrew, the manager of Shanamore Holiday Cottages, watches his only guest via a hidden camera in her room. One night the unthinkable happens: a shadowy figure emerges onscreen, kills her and destroys the camera. But who is the murderer? How did they know about the camera? And how will Andrew live with himself?
PAUSE Natalie wishes she’d stayed at home as soon as she arrives in the wintry isolation of Shanamore. There’s something creepy about the manager. She wants to leave, but she can’t – not until she’s found what she’s looking for…
REWIND Psycho meets Fatal Attraction in this explosive story about a murder caught on camera. You’ve already missed the start. To get the full picture you must rewind the tape and play it through to the end, no matter how shocking…
I received a copy of this book from Atlantic Books – Corvus Books via NetGalley in return for an honest review.
An interesting fusion of crime fiction genres.
The setting and some of the characters give this story a noir twist, the suspense and level of menace keep the reader turning the pages, and if you’re reading it alone, probably wishing you weren’t.
There is a murder, a cast of possible suspects, and an amateur sleuth working out whodunnit, more efficiently than the authorities. Part of the enjoyment is not just finding out who, but also why, and what the others part in the mystery is.
This is also part techno-thriller, the victim is a social media influencer, there are strange online groups and the dangers of the dark web. Living life in the full glare of social media may reap celebrity and monetary rewards for some, but there are setbacks, in terms of obsessive fans and haters.
The thriller also had an original layout, scenes are short and prefaced by media playback terms; play, pause, fast forward and rewind. This emphasises the media aspect of the story and enables the story to be told from different viewpoints and different periods, before, during, after and outcome.
Complex characters, a brave and largely successful mix of genres and something a little different, which is always exciting to find and read.
THE LAST EDITION OF TENSE CRIME THRILLERSERIES SET IN BIRMINGHAM
RECEIVES CITY CENTRE LAUNCH
Birmingham has well and truly been put on the crime thriller map with the success of the TV series Peaky Blinders but for bookworms amongst us, the popular Trail Series has long brought readers into the modern-day 21st century with its tense storylines, murder and intrigue set in and around the city.
The Trail series features a vodka business, a cancer cure and obsessive killers. Every book is a good read in its own right – each is a great crime story with terrific twists to keep the tension mounting – but together, they follow the same characters over several years.
The Trail series author AA Abbott also known as Helen Blenkinsop has been compared with the likes of Ruth Rendell, John Grisham and Jeffrey Archer. She lived and studied in Birmingham for nearly 20 years and her passion and love for the city became the inspiration for the Trail series.
Now, after four successful editions, the last storyline will be revealed in the publication of THE FINAL TRAIL which will be launched in Birmingham on 28th October.
In the last book …”Glamorous Kat White has built a successful craft vodka brand in Birmingham, but she has an uneasy relationship with her business partner, Marty Bridges. Her mother had previously supplied with poisonous vodka. Marty doesn’t trust Kat, resents having to depend on her for commercial success, and isn’t thrilled that his eldest son wants to marry her. That’s not his biggest problem, though. He’s trying to develop a cancer drug with Kat’s brother, Erik, and it’s draining money he doesn’t have. Just as he finds an investor with pockets deep enough to fund their research, Erik is lured to the former Soviet Union and thrown into jail. Meanwhile, Ben Halloran, who killed his father to save Kat’s life, is faced with the twin risks of a murder charge and his brother’s deep-seated desire for revenge. Can Ben escape with his life and liberty? And can Marty save both Erik and his business – and learn to trust Kat?”
Helen said“I’ve been writing about these amazing characters for over 5 years, so you can imagine, they have become a part of my life. It’s been a great journey and they have come through so many storylines that it feels right for them to achieve their dreams at last.”
Most of the action in THE FINAL TRAIL takes place across the city and features the famous Rose Villa Tavern and 1,000 Trades in the Jewellery Quarter; The Mailbox, home to the BBC in Birmingham, Holloway Head by the famous Pagoda Island and locations in Harborne and Edgbaston.
Helen added, “It’s going to be very sad to launch the last book as the stories and characters have built up such a following but it will give me the opportunity to weave new and exciting tales – I have so many ideas buzzing in my head.”
THE FINAL TRAIL is a perfect read for those who like a fast-paced crime thriller combined with suspense, humour and plot twists. It’s ideal to take away on holiday and provides a great read during the autumn/winter nights.
THE FINAL TRAIL will be available to order from Amazon in e-book, paperback and dyslexia-friendly format from Monday 28th October 2019.
Meet Tom. Or Dr O’Grady, as he used to be called. When you pass him on the street, most people don’t even give him a second glance. You see, Tom isn’t living his best life. Burdened by grief, he’s only got his loyal dog, Bette Davis, for company and a rucksack containing his whole world.
Then there’s Ruth and her son, DJ, who no longer have a place to call home. But Ruth believes that you can change the world by helping one person at a time – and Tom needs her help.
There are a thousand ways to find your home – you just need to be brave enough to look for them. Amazon UK
I received a copy of this book from Harper Collins – Harper Fiction via NetGalley in return for an honest review.
I didn’t read what this story is about before reading it because it is written by a favourite, trusted author. I knew I would be taken on an emotional journey, by relatable characters, with sometimes tragic stories, Despite the tears and poignancy, ultimately they would find hope and peace. I wasn’t disappointed,
Ruth is autistic. People find her different from them, and as often happens in such circumstances, they ridicule her. Even her parents constantly find fault, and when her mother feels she behaves unacceptably she is abusive to her.
A serendipitous meeting changes the course of Ruth’s life and brings her into contact with Tom. He helps her, when she needs it most but then they lose touch. Ten years on Ruth and Tom are not where they want to be, but a chance meeting once again changes everything.
The characters are believable, not stereotypical, and you want them to find the happiness they deserve. This story explores autism and what it means for the individual and those closest to them. How it is so easy to be isolated when you appear different. Homelessness is also a prevalent theme. It could happen to anyone, and this is what makes this story disturbingly real.
The story has a powerful, uplifting ending, one you would like everyone in Ruth and Tom’s situation to benefit from. Reality sometimes is less kind, so if this story does nothing else, let it help you to look a little deeper into people who seem different or have fallen on hard times. They deserve compassion and respect, isn’t that what you would want if it were you?
Laura Murphy thought she could, but that was before she returned home.
When 27-year-old Laura returns to her home town ten years after the tragic death of her then-boyfriend, Ryan Taylor, she isn’t prepared for the nostalgia and memories that resurface. After discovering a newspaper clipping alluding to the fact that there may have been more to Ryan’s death than first thought, Laura is compelled to find out what happened that fateful night.
Reconnecting with childhood friend Tom Gordon, she begins to unravel the blurred lines of truth and memory. But Tom holds a secret of his own. Not only is he facing losing his family farm, but what he knows could destroy any chance of a future with Laura.
Will Laura have the strength to confront her memories? Or will Tom’s secret be the key to unlocking the truth?
Dealing with the complexities of friendships, love, depression and the consequences of secrets and split-second decisions, The Memories We Hide is a compelling story exploring how memories can’t always be trusted but how they can set you free.
I received a copy of this book from the author in return for an honest review.
This story wasn’t what I expected, which was a woman returning to her hometown to lay some painful memories to rest, and reconnect with old friends.
Laura returns to her small hometown to nurse her mother in her last days. She hasn’t returned home, since the tragic death of her teenage boyfriend, but now she has no choice. Inundated with unwanted memories, and uncovering a mystery, as she sorts through her mother’s things. She must find out the truth, or be running to nowhere for the rest of her life.
What follows is a deepening mystery and a journey of self-realisation and acceptance that is both poignant and uplifting. The pacing is slow, and the story is deep, you spend a lot of time in Laura’s head. Which at times is an exhausting place, as she tries to make sense of what she uncovers.
The supporting cast of characters all have a part to play in the past tragedy and its present resolution. The interactions are relatable and real, and even though everyone has secrets, you empathise.
The small town claustrophobic connection is well done in this story, everyone knows everything, and yet there are still secrets. Laura begins to heal as she accepts she has been running not living, since that fateful night. The ending is powerful and realistic and showcases the careless, narcissistic, naivety of youth beautifully.
Not the easy read I expected, but worthwhile and thought-provoking.
Jodi Gibson is an Australian women’s fiction author of both contemporary dramas and light-hearted romantic comedy. She lives on a mini-farm with her husband, daughters, two golden retrievers, one horse, eight chickens and a cat who rules over them all.
Jodi has been making
up stories in one way or another since she was young. However, it wasn’t until
recent years and after wearing many career hats, that the desire to get the
stories out of her head and onto the page, won her over. In 2019, she realised
her dream releasing her debut contemporary drama novel, The Memories We
When she’s not writing, you’ll find Jodi with her nose in a book, or in the kitchen baking and dreaming of her next travelling adventure. Twitter
A children’s picture storybook based on a real Playbus with royal connections.
Sparky isn’t your typical double-decker bus. Behind the dragon and magical paintings, she’s exciting and full of fun and adventure for all children. Jump aboard to find out what makes Sparky so special.