Posted in Author Interview, Blog Tour, Book Review, Crime, Historical Crime Fiction, Murder Mystery, Mystery, New Books, Suspense

The Distant Dead Lesley Thomson 5*#Review @LesleyJmThomson @HoZ_Books #TheDetectivesDaughter @Aria_Fiction #BlogTour #BookReview #TheDistantDead #MurderMystery #Mystery #Blitz1940 Q&A

A woman lies dead in a bombed-out house. A tragic casualty of the Blitz? Or something more sinister?

Cleaner-turned-detective Stella Darnell connects a murder in Tewkesbury Abbey to a decades-old mystery in wartime London. From the number 1 bestselling author of The Detective’s Daughter.

LONDON, 1940

Several neighbours heard the scream of the woman in the bombed-out house. One told the detective she thought the lady had seen a mouse. Another said it wasn’t his business what went on behind closed doors. None of them imagined that a trusting young woman was being strangled by her lover.

TEWKESBURY, 2020

Beneath the vast stone arches of Tewkesbury Abbey, a man lies bleeding, close to death. He is the creator of a true-crime podcast which now will never air. He was investigating the murder of a 1940s police pathologist – had he come closer to the truth than he realised?

Stella Darnell has moved to Tewkesbury to escape from death, not to court it. But when this man dies in her arms, Stella, impelled to root out evil when she finds it, becomes determined to hunt down his killer and to bring the secrets he was searching for into the light…

Amazon Kobo Google Play iBooks Waterstones Bookshop.Org

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

My Thoughts…

The Detective Daughter series delivers an original twist on the classic murder mystery genre. Stella, the detective’s daughter, has a cleaning business and a detective agency with an eclectic mix of employees. The main protagonists are believably eccentric and flawed. This story reads well as a standalone, but the series is addictive and engaging and worth reading in its entirety.

This dual timeline story explores a wartime murder during the London blitz and murder in Tewkesbury in 2019. The connections between the two stories are revealed in a suspenseful way and involve Stella, Jack and the other team members across London and Tewkesbury.

The recent murders are catalysed by The Death Cafe, a group that discusses death that Stella is drawn to. The story has important character development for the main protagonists in addition to the well-plotted murder mystery.

Evocative with vivid sensory imagery, the reader is drawn into a world of deceit and murder that is chilling and disturbing. The historical and contemporary are interwoven convincingly and give the story its classic murder mystery ethos.

This story’s atmospheric settings and vibrant characters elevate the simple murder mystery into something that resonates.

Q&A : Lesley Thomson

What inspired you to write about a blitz murder?

I spent first part of 2020 clearing and sorting stuff in the attic in preparation of moving. I unearthed a photocopy of a message that Jose Wahlberg, a convicted Nazi spy, wrote to my grandfather – who I never knew – the night before Wahlberg was hanged Pentonville Prison in 1940. My mum had showed me the cigarette packet on the back of which Jose Wahlberg had thanked my grandfather for his kindness. Mum would reflect on how hard it must have been for her dad ,  prison officer, to comfort the young man hours before his death. On the  internet I found newspaper articles about Wahlberg’s capture and how the British were treating spies and, as often happens point of inspiration takes me somewhere else.

In The Distant Dead, I mention the incident in passing, I was inspired to explore 1940 London in which my mum and her family had lived. Blackouts, the deafening roar of planes, the massive thuds as bombs fell and the constant smell of burning. The murder rate went up and, with a depleted police force, fewer were solved. You could pass off a murder victim as a bombing casualty. Stuck in Lockdown, I found key similarities between 1940 and our own restricted lives.  Even the slogan – We’re all in it together – was the same.  This was enough for me to find a bridge to the past.

Did you undertake any research with this novel?

I read books on the Home-front including a doorstop-sized biography of Churchill by Andrew Roberts, I devoured published diaries by women living through the Blitz. Newspapers of the time were fascinating as were the propaganda films made by British Government agencies such as Fires Were Started and Britain Can Take it.’ Tewkesbury Abbey was my other inspiration and long before I started The Distant Dead, I had spent many hours there. I was sorry not to be able to visit in 2020.

Out of the entire Detective Daughter’s series, which one was your favourite to write and why?

For me, I think it’s up to the reader to have a favourite novel.  Were you to have asked me this question each year, starting when Ghost Girl came out, I’d tell you the same. This novel. I relish steeping myself in the world of my story, honing my writing ability and creating new characters and ideas. I want each novel to be my best yet. Therefore, The Distant Dead is my current favourite and I loved every minute of working on it right to proof stage.  

If you could have any job in the world (other than an author), what would it be and why?

I’d want something that involves long drives in a nice car, preferably a Jeep, with music playing. I used imagine being a taxi driver, but these days I’d rather be alone in the car to think or sing raucously and out of tune to, for instance Robbie Williams’s Angels or say, True along with Spandau Ballet. So if there were a job, which involves delivering Jeeps to far-flung corners of the country and back, I would apply.

What are you currently working on at the moment?

I’m writing The Companion, a standalone set in Sussex, featuring a disparate bunch of oddballs who live in a stately home converted into luxury apartments. There’s a serial killer at large – dubbed the media, The Family Man  – due to the victim profile. This means that an ever watchful fear and suspicion pervades the mood of the community. Is it him, is it her? Who can you trust? As ever with my novels, I hope The Companion will offer the reader frissons of dread and unease laced with laugh out loud moments.

What can we expect to see from Stella next?

In 2023, I hope. She’s already knocking at my door with another mystery…

Lesley Thomson

Lesley Thomson is the author of the Detective’s Daughter series of West London-set mysteries featuring private investigators Stella, a cleaner, and Jack, a tube driver. The first novel, The Detective’s Daughter, became an ebook phenomenon in 2013, staying at number 1 in the digital charts for 3 months. Since then, the series has gone on to sell 800,000 copies worldwide. Lesley is an active member of the UK crimewriting community, and appeared at several crime festivals in 2019, including CrimeFest, Harrogate, Morecambe & Vice and Capital Crime. She lives in Lewes with her partner and her dog

Website Twitter Facebook

Posted in Blog Tour, Book Review, Contemporary Fiction, Extract, Humour, New Books, Parenting and Famlies, Romance, Romantic Comedy

Italy Ever After Leonie Mack 4*#Review @LeonieMAuthor @BoldwoodBooks #Extract #boldwoodbloggers #BlogTour @rararesources #RomCom #Romance #Summer #Family #SecondChance #Italy #holidayromance #MondayBlogs #ItalyEverAfter

Escape to the sun and head off to Italy, with the wonderfully warm and ever-so-page-turning Leonie Mack!

TV journalist Lou feels battered and bruised after her divorce from Phil, the father of her daughter Edie. Her confidence and sense of fun have steadily been drained away, and she isn’t sure who she is any more.

When the opportunity arises to accompany Edie on a music camp in Italy for a month in the summer, Lou jumps at the chance for new adventures, new horizons and new friends. The hazy warmth of the summer sun, shining brightly over the stunning Lake Garda, slowly brings Lou back to life. 

Nick Romano, Edie’s music teacher, loves being home in Italy, but coaching his students for their concert in Milan, is bringing back difficult memories. His blossoming friendship with Lou is the perfect distraction, although a summer fling would be easier to conduct without the scrutiny of his mother Greta, not to mention the interference of his extended Italian family.

As the summer passes, full of sunshine and breath-taking scenery, gelato and delicious feasts, Lou and Nick get ever closer. But as the time for farewell creeps up on them, will they be able to say goodbye and leave their memories behind in the Italian sun, or can a summer romance last a lifetime?

Leonie Mack is back with a sizzling, sun-baked love story.

Amazon UK

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

My Thoughts…

I love romance set in Italy, and as this one is set around Lake Garda, somewhere I’ve visited, I couldn’t resist it.

Just about to be divorced Lou, is still reeling from the fallout, we meet her ex in the opening chapters, and he is not likeable. Her confidence is low despite her career in front of the TV cameras, and it’s clear she is a kind and loving woman who doesn’t value herself. Her latest meeting with Mr (Nick) Romano right after her latest confrontation with the ex is unsettling for them both and makes her wonder whether helping out on the school music camp in Italy is sensible.

The chemistry sizzling between Lou and Nick gets hotter in beautiful Lake Garda, and there are lots of nearly moments that are romantic. The conflicts to their possible relationship are both internal and external, but they are good for each other, and you want them to find happiness together.

The musical setting adds authenticity to the story and is integral to Nick’s backstory. The balance of humour, poignancy and romance is good, and the ending is romantic and uplifting.

Leonie Mack

Leonie Mack is a debut novelist whose first book My Christmas Number One was published by Boldwood in September 2020. Having lived in London for many years her home is now in Germany with her husband and three children. Leonie loves train travel, medieval towns, hiking and happy endings!

Facebook Twitter Instagram Newsletter Sign Up Bookbub

Extract from Italy Ever After – Leonie Mack

Damn him. Phil was winning this game. His look was tolerant. His eyes were warm, even vaguely fond. Lou was losing. Her jaw was clenched so hard she felt like a petulant child with braces. She smoothed her hand down her tailored skirt. Confronting him in her work clothes was supposed to remind her she could deal with him like an adult. But really, she wanted to run home and change into her sweats, as she usually did after her shift. 

‘She’s eleven, Lou. This is her last summer before secondary school. Can’t you let up a little?’ 

He was the voice of reason, too? Phil never raised his voice because he never needed to. He was the kind of man who spoke and it was done. He was attractive, too – even now at forty-four – which meant he’d never had to stay single for long. She couldn’t blame the woman who’d become his girlfriend only a few months after their separation – except that she could blame her and she would. It was the right of a nearly officially ex-wife, right? 

‘All Edie wants to do is play music. Elite tuition and orchestra rehearsals is her idea of paradise. I’m not forcing her to do anything.’ 

His lips twitched. ‘And a few weeks in the Italian sunshine is your idea of a nice free holiday?’ 

Strike one. She would have been satisfied to hear him behaving like the juvenile ex-husband, except that he was an expert at pressing her overdeveloped sense of her own inadequacy button. 

‘It’s not a holiday for me. I’m going as a chaperone and I have to pay my own way. The only reason I’ve volunteered is because Edie is one of the youngest kids going. Most of the parents are looking forward to the three weeks of childcare before the competition’ 

‘You can always send her to us. You know that. You don’t have to martyr yourself.’ 

Lou choked on his sympathy, wishing he would do the same. She took a deep breath. She should have accepted by now that Phil’s wiring where she was concerned would never change. 

‘Can we get back to the point? Edie wants to go and it’s a unique opportunity. This youth music festival only happens every four years. She’ll get to play in an orchestra under a professional conductor and participate in a competition.’ 

Phil held up a hand. ‘I did read the information you emailed me. But I fail to see why our eleven-year-old has to participate in a very expensive competition. You’ve already forced my hand with the school choice. I’d say you’re pretty low on credit with me at the moment.’ 

Lou recoiled. She needed ‘credit’ to get Phil to consider her opinion about their daughter? How was an ex-wife supposed to earn credit? Not only was she forced to serenely ignore the practical difficulties of having day-to-day responsibility for their daughter alone, but Phil still required her to manage him to make sure they did their best by Edie. Good God, it was miserable. 

Phil looked at her with his unflappably perfect haircut and warm eyes with their distinguished crinkles that on her would be called crow’s feet. It was clear why she’d thrown herself at him twelve years ago when she’d been a young and stupid graduate with too little understanding of the world’s faults – and far too little contraception. What was less clear was how she was supposed to deal with him now. 

‘You know how much she loves playing the violin.’ 

‘I know, she does little else.’ 

Edie practised especially diligently at Phil’s because it meant less time with the obsequious girlfriend. 

‘I’m still not sure I want to encourage her obsession.’ 

‘Then you’ll be happy to know the camp takes that into account. Although they rehearse every day, there’s also time dedicated to outdoor activities and confidence-building. I think we can both agree that it would be good for Edie to have some confidence outside her musical talent.’ 

The faintest glint in his eye was the only clue that he was feeling the pressure. But Phil never backed off. Instead, he calmly went on the offensive. ‘So, you plan to make Edie do a high ropes course while you sit in the sun at Sirmione sipping an Aperol Spritz?’