Posted in Blog Tour, Book Review, Cozy Mystery, Crime, Murder Mystery

Murder On The Downs Julie Wassmer 5* #Review Whitstable Pearl Mystery @JulieWassmer @LittleBrownUK @RandomTTours #BlogTour #Book Review #MurderOnTheDowns #RandomThingsTours #TuesdayMorning #TuesdayBookBlog #TuesdayMotivation

A controversial new property development is planned in Whitstable which will encroach upon the green open space of the downs, to the dismay of Whitstable residents who view this as the thin end of the wedge with regard to local wildlife conservation.

A campaign springs into life, spearheaded by a friend of Pearl’s family, Martha Laker. A committed environmentalist, Martha is no stranger to controversy herself. She has also managed to divide opinion across town, with the locals viewing her as their fearless champion while establishment figures seeing only an interfering agitator.

Tensions escalate between the developers and Whitstable residents, straining Pearl’s close relationship with London-born police officer, DCI Mike McGuire, who harbours concerns that the local campaign will spiral out of control. Pearl’s loyalties are torn, but the protest duly goes ahead – and newspaper headlines claim a moral victory for the residents in this David and Goliath battle.

But the victory is short lived when Pearl discovers a dead body on the downs…

Amazon UK

I received a copy of this book from Constable in return for an honest review.

My Thoughts…

How have I missed this series? It has complex characters that bring the story to life and an authentic coastal setting. The murder mystery plot has many suspects and twists and a contemporary edge to it.

Pearl is a restauranter and private investigator who lives in Whitstable in Kent. Her relationship with McGuire, a Detective Chief Inspector, is challenging but rewarding. The family dynamics are believable, and there’s a host of supporting characters, who bring the story to life.

The author’s use of sensual imagery makes the characters, location and story easy to imagine and the story enjoyable.

This is another series that I will be seeking out.

Julie Wassmer

“Julie Wassmer was born in the East End of London, studied at Kingston University and had a variety of different jobs before she finally settled down to become a professional television drama writer.

She worked on several TV series, including ITV’s London’s Burning, C5’s Family Affairs and the popular BBC soap, EastEnders, which she wrote for almost 20 years.

In 2010, her autobiography More Than Just Coincidence was published by Harper Collins/True. The book entered the Sunday Times Best Selling Non Fiction Top Twenty and went on to become Mumsnet Book of the Year.

In 2015, Julie’s debut crime novel, The Whitstable Pearl Mystery, was published by award-winning publisher, Little, Brown Book Group. Six other books have since followed in the series with more on the way, and the television rights to the series have been optioned by the TV production company, Buccaneer, the makers of Marcella, starring Anna Friel.

Julie moved to Whitstable twenty years ago where she shares a home with her husband, Kas, and three cats, Charlie, Lily and Maisie. She also spends a great deal of time campaigning on environmental issues.

Murder on the Downs is the seventh book in the Whitstable Pearl Mystery series.

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Posted in Book Review, Cozy Mystery, Crime, Historical Crime Fiction, Murder Mystery, Mystery, Travel

Under the Guise of Death / An Exhibition of Murder – Vivian Conroy 5*#Reviews @VivWrites @canelo_co #AMurderWillFollow #cozymystery #MurderMystery #BookReview #MondayBlogs #MurderMonday

In the City of Masks, deadly secrets are about to be revealed…

While attending a lavish masked ball in Venice, retired Scotland Yard detective Jasper has a shock when, at the midnight demasqué, he spots a woman whose accidental death he investigated in England three years ago.

Even more stunned than Jasper is the woman’s husband, Lord Bantham, who has since remarried, not to mention his new wife who sees her acquired position and wealth slip away. Then there are her old friends who all seem to have known more about the ‘accident’ than they ever let on.

When the resurrected lady is found dead the next morning on one of Venice’s many bridges, the question is: who wanted Lady Bantham to die, again?

The third book in the Murder Will Follow series.

Amazon UK

Former Scotland Yard investigator Jasper is back on the case, this time in the glamorous and cultured city of Vienna.


The opening of an archaeological exhibition brings with it intrigue and evil as a fabled cursed golden death mask lives up to its dark past and death strikes at the exhibition. While digging up pieces of history, these archaeologists have also been burying secrets – deadly ones – and it’s up to Jasper to uncover the truth before the murderer strikes again.
 


With a nosy journalist desperate to breathe life into the rumour that the mask brings bad luck to anyone possessing it, and the police eager to blame a famous cat burglar who recently pulled off a string of daring robberies, Jasper is on his own in bringing the true culprit to light. 

The fourth book in the Murder Will Follow series.

I received copies of these books from Canelo via NetGalley in return for honest reviews.

My Thoughts…

Set in atmospheric and dramatic Venice Jasper finds himself embroiled in another murder investigation. The drama takes place at an iconic masked ball closely followed a death.

There are many people with a motive for murder and Jasper painstakingly investigates all of them, in his imitable style. The 1920’s setting is vibrant, and the cast of characters secretive and vividly portrayed. The plot is complex full of misinformation and twists that keep you guessing.

This Agatha Christie-style mystery has all the ingredients glamorous golden age setting, complex characters with realistic motivations for murder and an enigmatic detective who outwits them all.

The latest book, in the murder, will follow series, is set in Vienna at an archaeological exhibition. This is a complex noir mystery, involving a cursed mask and a deeply disturbed mind. There is a menacing feel to this story. Is the mask cursed? Or is this something the murder is perpetuating to cover their crimes?

Jasper is personally involved. He promised to protect the victim who dies this guilt spurs him on to solve the mystery. The vividly described historical setting gives the story an authentic ambience that makes it enjoyable.

A complex mystery eerie ethos and a well-orchestrated investigation make this another success for the enigmatic Jasper.

Read my reviews of A Honeymoon With Death and A Testament To Murder by clicking on the links.

Posted in Book Review, Mystery, Romance, Romance -Dark and Steamy, Romantic Suspense, Suspense

An Oxford Revenge Maxine Barry 4*#Review @FaithMartin_Nov @JoffeBooks #Mystery #Oxford #RomanticSuspense #MondayBlogs #MondayMurder #AnOxfordRevenge

 

REVENGE ISN’T ALWAYS AS SWEET AS YOU THINK

HOW FAR WOULD YOU GO FOR REVENGE?

Davina Granger wants revenge. She blames Dr Gareth Lacey for her brother’s suicide. When she gets a fellowship at his Oxford college, she sees her chance to punish him.

But is he really as guilty as she believes?

Alicia Norman is a student at the same college. She’s excited to leave her sheltered, privileged existence for college life. But her brother and his friends will do anything to stop her from being with anyone they think isn’t posh enough for her. Including murder?

HOW FAR WILL THEY GO?

Amazon UK

I received a copy of this book from Joffe Books via NetGalley in return for an honest review.

My Thoughts…

Something different from this crime fiction author that may surprise her readership. If you’re expecting murder mystery, you’ll be disappointed. This story set in an Oxford college, in the early twenty-first century, is about obsession, passion and revenge. These are all motivation for murder, but here the focus is more on romance and suspense.

Davina, a successful poet, gains an honorary fellowship at St Bede’s Oxford college, to compile and write a forward, for a poetry anthology. She has an ulterior motive for being there, but her quest for revenge is convoluted by physical attraction and passion.

The plot is complex with elements of psychological suspense. The characters are flawed and emotionally vulnerable as a consequence of life events, family and social class. There is good suspense building throughout the story. The exploration of the Oxford establishment and family, peer and societal expectations is insightful. An atmospheric and claustrophobic romantic suspense.

Posted in Blog Tour, Book Review, Friendship, Magic, Romance, Romantic Comedy

A Wish For Jinnie Audrey Davis 5*#Review @audbyname @rararesources #romcom #magic #humour #friendship #BlogTour #BookReview #AWishForJinnie #MondayBlogs #MondayMorning #RachelsRandomResources #MondayMotivation

What if wishes really could come true? 

When Jinnie Cooper is dumped by her fiancé, and exiled to a job in an antiques shop in a sleepy Scottish village, little does she know a battered old lamp is about to shake up her life. 

Genie Dhassim grants wishes. But he also wants a few of his own to come true. Letting him explore the outside world proves nerve-wracking as Dhassim has an uncanny knack of putting his pointy-slippered foot in it. 

As Jinnie grows closer to her employer Sam, Dhassim discovers his time on earth is running out. 

Can both Jinnie and Dhassim find true happiness? Or are those wishes that cannot be granted?

Amazon UK Amazon

I received a copy of this book from the author in return for an honest review.

My Thoughts…

Everyone needs a little magic in their life and Jinnie more than most. Losing her job and her lover, left her broke and heartbroken and having to move to a village on the outskirts of the city she loves. This story is character-driven. All the characters are believable and relatable and add to the story’s ambience. Then there’s the gene, who makes her life unpredictable but helps her start to live again.

Humour, poignant moments and romance characterise this lovely story, which is heartwarming and magical. The perfect escape from life’s troubles.

Audrey Davis is a Scottish-born former journalist, now resident in Switzerland. Her newspaper career saw her cover events in Northern Ireland and the Falkland Islands, as well as working for a London-based movie magazine writing reviews and carrying out interviews.

She self-published her debut romantic comedy novel A Clean Sweep in June 2017, following an online Open University course in Writing Fiction.

Audrey followed up with a short, darker prequel A Clean Break before beginning work on a rom-com novella trilogy with a ghostly twist – The Haunting of Hattie Hastings. Again, reviews across the board were excellent, and it was combined into a standalone novel in November 2018.

A Wish For Jinnie is her third standalone novel.

Apart from writing, Audrey enjoys travel and spends a lot of time in Edinburgh. She is an avid cook, watcher of scary movies and reluctant gym-goer.

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Posted in Blog Tour, Book Review, Motivational, Non-Fiction, User Guide

Let’s Get Published Val Penny 5*#Review @valeriepenny @lovebooksgroup #BlogTour #BookReview #LoveBooksTours #nonfiction #Motivational #Guide #Publishing #Writers #LetsGetPublished

At last, a book that is easy to read and tells it how it is! The book was written to assist authors to maximise their success when submitting work to agents or publishers, to help authors consider their priorities and preferences for getting work into print. To advise authors on how to identify the agents and/or publishers they want to approach. It should also assist with editing their manuscript fully prior to submission. The book offers advice about how to prepare a submission package to give an author the best chance of success. The road to becoming a successful author is not easy, but it is rewarding. Let this book take you on the journey.

Amazon UK

I received a copy of this book from the author in return for an honest review.

My Thoughts…

This is a clear, concise and motivational book on getting published. It contains relevant information on preparing your manuscript for publication based on the author’s recent experience. It recognises the dynamic nature of publishing and offers easy to follow guidance, on how to present your manuscript most effectively.

It’s quick to read but will provide a new writer with easy to refer to guidance, as their writing journey progresses. The layout is sensible and the advice considered. It’s a book I will read again.

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 ballerina or owning a candy store. Until those dreams come true, she has turned her hand to writing poetry, short stories and novels. 

Her crime novels, ‘Hunter’s Chase’ Hunter’s Revenge, Hunter’s Force and Hunter’s Blood form the bestselling series The Edinburgh Crime Mysteries. They are set in Edinburgh, Scotland, published by Crooked Cat Books. The fifth novel in the series, Hunter’s Secret, is published by darkstroke. Her first non-fiction book, Let’s Get Published is available now.

Posted in Blog Tour, Book Review, Crime

Broken Silence Liz Mistry 5*#Review @LizMistryAuthor @HQStories D.S. Nikki Parekh #BrokenSilence #CrimeFiction @rararesources #BlogTour #BookReview #Detective #weekendreads #RachelsRandomResources

When DS Felicity Springer is reported missing after a police training conference, the countdown to find her begins…

On her way home after an exhausting weekend, with colleagues she can’t wait to escape, Felicity notices something odd about the white van in front of her. A hand has punched through the car’s rear light and is frantically waving, trying to catch her attention.

Desperate to help, Felicity dials 999 and calls it in. But whilst on the phone, she loses control of the car on the icy road, crashing straight into the vehicle ahead.

Pinned in the seat and unable to move, Felicity feels a sudden whoosh of cold air across her face. Someone has opened the passenger door… and they have a gun.

With Felicity missing and no knowledge of whether she is dead or alive, DS Nikki Parekh and DC Sajid Malik race to find their friend and colleague.

But Felicity was harbouring a terrible secret, and with her life now hanging in the balance, Nikki can only hope that someone will come forward and break the silence…

Amazon UK Paperback Amazon UK

I received a copy of this book from HQ via NetGalley in return for an honest review.

My Thoughts…

This is a gritty, police procedural focusing on modern slavery. Bradford and its criminal fraternity are brought to life by an author that knows the city well. DS Nikita Parekh is a dedicated police officer who believes in getting the job done. She wants justice for victims. The police team’s dynamic and the partnership between Nikki and Saj is believable. It keeps the reader invested in the investigation.

Contemporary and sometimes violent, this is a challenging read. With a complex pacy plot and relatable characters, this is hard-hitting suspenseful crime fiction.

Born in Scotland, Made in Bradford sums up Liz Mistry’s life. Over thirty years ago she moved from a small village in West Lothian to Yorkshire to get her teaching degree. Once here, Liz fell in love with three things; curries, the rich cultural diversity of the city … and her Indian husband (not necessarily in this order). Now thirty years, three children, two cats (Winky and Scumpy) and a huge extended family later, Liz uses her experiences of living and working in the inner city to flavour her writing. Her gritty crime fiction police procedural novels set in Bradford embrace the city she describes as ‘Warm, Rich and Fearless’ whilst exploring the darkness that lurks beneath.

Struggling with severe clinical depression and anxiety for a large number of years, Liz often includes mental health themes in her writing. She credits the MA in Creative Writing she took at Leeds Trinity University with helping her find a way of using her writing to navigate her ongoing mental health struggles. Being a debut novelist in her fifties was something Liz had only dreamed of and she counts herself lucky, whilst pinching herself regularly to make sure it’s all real. One of the nicest things about being a published author is chatting with and responding to readers’ feedback and Liz regularly does events at local libraries, universities, literature festivals and open mics. She also teaches creative writing too. Now, having nearly completed a PhD in Creative Writing focussing on ‘the absence of the teen voice in adult crime fiction’ and ‘why expansive narratives matter’, Liz is chock full of ideas to continue writing.

In her spare time, Liz loves pub quizzes (although she admits to being rubbish at them), dancing (she does a mean jig to Proud Mary – her opinion, not ratified by her family), visiting the varied Yorkshire landscape, with Robin Hoods Bay being one of her favourite coastal destinations, listening to music, reading and blogging about all things crime fiction on her blog, The Crime Warp. 

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Posted in Blog Tour, Book Review, Contemporary Fiction, Crime, Political Thriller, Suspense, Thriller

Blood Red City Rod Reynolds 5*#Review @Rod_WR @OrendaBooks @RandomTTours @AnneCater #Urban #Techno #SocialMedia #political #Thriller#BlogTour #BookReview

A witness with no victim. A crime with no crime scene…

When crusading journalist Lydia Wright is sent a video of an apparent murder on a London train, she thinks she’s found the story to revive her career. But she can’t find a victim, much less the killers, and the only witness has disappeared. Wary she’s fallen for fake news, she begins to doubt her instincts – until a sinister call suggests that she’s not the only one interested in the crime.

Michael Stringer deals in information – and doesn’t care which side of the law he finds himself on. But the murder on the train has left him exposed, and now he’ll stop at nothing to discover what Lydia knows.

When their paths collide, Lydia finds the story leads through a nightmare world, where money, power and politics intersect … and information is the only thing more dangerous than a bullet.

A nerve-shattering and brutally realistic thriller, Blood Red City bursts with energy and grit from the opening page, twisting and feinting to a superb, unexpected ending that will leave you breathless.

Amazon UK

I received a copy of this book from Orenda Books in return for an honest review.

My Thoughts…

This is an edgy, urban thriller with an action-driven, pacy plot.

Lydia tired of being sidelined investigates a video detailing a crime. She realises if genuine it has the potential, to mainstream her career. There’s relentless suspense. A sense of menace pervades every page.

Michael Stringer is an enigma. An information mercenary, he wants to know what Lydia knows. The London setting adds authenticity to the story. The story uses sensual imagery well making the events and locations easy to imagine.

The author creates an ethos of mistrust. It’s difficult to establish the truth, and who to believe. The ending answers all these questions with the possibility of a future investigation.

Rod Reynolds

Rod Reynolds is the author of four novels, including the Charlie Yates series. His 2015 debut, The Dark Inside, was longlisted for the CWA New Blood Dagger, and was followed by Black Night Falling (2016) and Cold Desert Sky (2018); the Guardian have called the books ‘Pitch-perfect American noir.’ A lifelong Londoner, in 2020 Orenda Books will publish his first novel set in his hometown, Blood Red City. Rod previously worked in advertising as a media buyer, and holds an MA in novel writing from City University London. Rod lives with his wife and family and spends most of his time trying to keep up with his two young daughters.

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Posted in Book Review, Romance, Romance -Dark and Steamy

A Baby To Bind His Innocent Michelle Smart 5*#Review @chellebellwrite @MillsandBoon #TheSicilianMarriagePact #ABabyToBindHisInnocent #MillsandBoonInsiders #MillsandBoonModern #Romance #Revenge #Sicily

A marriage built on a lie…
Until her pregnancy test confirms the truth!

Claudia Buscetta is swept off her feet by Ciro Trapani. Their wedding night is everything she dreamed of – but then she overhears Ciro’s confession: the marriage was his way of avenging his father. Heartbroken Claudia prepares to walk away from him forever…only to discover she’s pregnant!

Driven Ciro is suddenly bound irrevocably to his enemy’s daughter! Claudia is far from the pampered ‘princess’ he imagined. And living with her sparks a fierce battle…between his quest for revenge and his burning desire for his wife!

Amazon UK

I received a copy of this book from Mills and Boon via NetGalley.

My Thoughts…

Revenge and vendetta are the only things on Ciro’s mind when he sets out to trap Claudia into a marriage of convenience. Claudia wants to escape from her father’s constraints. Ciro and Claudia learn to trust, and their character development is positive. The sensual romance leads to emotional commitment, and the ending is happy, as reflected by a lovely epilogue.

Posted in Book Review, Book Spotlight, Crime, Psychological Thriller

The First Lie A J Park 4*#Review #BlogBlitz @orion_crime @orionbooks @AJParkauthor #psychologicalthriller #RandomThingsTours @RandomTTours @AnneCater #BookReview #PublicationDay #TheFirstLie


We’ve all had sleepless nights thinking about it.
You’re home alone. Someone breaks in.
In defending yourself, you end up killing the intruder.
Now you’re the one the police want.

That is the situation that criminal barrister Paul Reeve arrives home to find.
His wife Alice stands in the bedroom, clutching a bloodied letter opener in her shaking hand.

“What have you done, Alice?”
“I didn’t have a choice…”

We would all believe the person we love most.
But would we all make the same choice Paul and Alice make next…?

UK – Amazon US – Amazon Waterstones

I received a copy of this book from Orion Books via NetGalley in return for an honest review.

My Thoughts…

No one knows how they would react after a shocking event, Alice and Paul make a questionable decision when Alice kills an intruder but is this their first lie? This is fast-paced psychological suspense. It is told mainly from Alice and Paul’s viewpoints with periodic insight into the police investigation. Alice and Paul are unreliable protagonists. This increases the suspense and makes it difficult to trust their perceptions of events.

Like all psychological suspense, it seems unrealistic at times, but it is addictive and edgy. Sometimes shocking it keeps you engaged, until the last page.

After studying literature, linguistics and Spanish at university, AJ Park trained as an English teacher and actor. He has edited magazines and taught English, Media Studies and Drama in secondary schools in England. He was also a competitive fencer for seven years.

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Posted in Book Review, Contemporary Fiction, Family Drama, Parenting and Famlies

The Family Holiday Elizabeth Noble 5*#Review #TheFamilyHoliday @MichaelJBooks @PenguinUKBooks #ElizabethNoble #family #drama #Grief #friendship #holiday #relationships #PublicationDay #BookReview

The Chamberlain family – Charlie and Daphne, and their children Laura, Scott and Nick – had fantastic summer holidays when they were young. But then, inevitably, the children grew up, and their own messy lives got in the way. 

Since their mum died, it feels to them all as if their family just isn’t that close any more. And Charlie fears his kids have all lost their direction. 

For his eightieth birthday, all Charlie wants is to bring his family together again – and by some miracle, they’ve all said yes.

So for the first time in a very long time, the Chamberlains are going on a family holiday. 

It’s only ten days . . . how hard can it be? 

Amazon UK

I received a copy of this book from Penguin – Michael Joseph UK via NetGalley in return for an honest review.

My Thoughts…

Like all addictive family drama, this is a character-driven emotional story. Charlie is lost without Daphne, his wife and feels his once-close family is drifting. He plans a family holiday as Daphne would have done and hopes to draw his fractured children together.

The opening chapters explore the main characters and significant events. This illustrates their complexities and flaws and engages the reader in their lives. The characters are easy to empathise and relatable. The family drama is realistic and makes this an emotional read.

The holiday draws the family’s troubles into the open with dramatic and poignant results. Ultimately the family unit survives with help from an unexpected source making you believe in serendipity.