Posted in Blog Tour, Book Review, Crime, Guest post, Noir, Psychological Thriller, Thriller

The Beach House P.R.Black 5*#Review @Aria_Fiction @PatBlack9 #Thriller #PsychologicalThriller #Holiday #Secrets #Lies #CrimeFiction #noir #BlogTour #GuestPost #BookReview #MondayBlogs #MondayBlues

This vacation is about to turn deadly…

 Cora’s on the island vacation of her dreams: a private beach in paradise, a romantic proposal, and an eight-figure cheque following the sale of her new fiancé’s business.

When their island turns out to be not so private after all, Cora tries to make the best of a bad situation by inviting their strangely friendly neighbours to celebrate with them.

But it doesn’t take long for her once-in-a-lifetime holiday to take a very sinister turn…

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

My Thoughts…

From the blurb, the reader knows that this is not the idyllic holiday you’d expect, but nothing prepares you for the twists and turns that appear with increasing alacrity as the story progresses.

Cora and Jonathan are on a dream holiday, Cora seems unsure whether she wants to be there. Jonathan is full of surprises, and it seems that life is on track. Until, their exclusive holiday retreat becomes crowded, with another couple, and they can’t fail to see the resemblance to themselves.

The story has a strong technological theme, which adds depth and complexity to the plot.

Progressing, through Cora’s point of view, things start to spiral in an increasingly uncomfortable way. The characters are believable and complex. They are not what they appear to be on the surface.

Cora is an unreliable narrator, and as the story progresses, she presents a hidden side to her character. Flashbacks to incidents in her past illuminate and reinforce her present actions. The last part of the story is an adrenaline rush, and at times full of confusion.

Even at the end, I still wasn’t sure I’d understood everything, but that’s what you want from a psychological thriller.

An absorbing, addictive read.

Guest Post : Smiling assassins By Pat Black

The psychopathic, murderous villains in my new novel The Beach House drew inspiration from a lovely couple we met on holiday.

When I’m on holiday I tend to stick to my own pen. I wouldn’t say I was unfriendly, but I am guarded. I realise this doesn’t reflect well on me, but bitter experience has taught me to be wary.

I remember one couple I got to know on holiday years ago who passed out business cards and tried to flog their home renovation business at every opportunity. This was odd enough – before the boorish male in that pairing then made some utterly jaw-dropping comments about the looks of a woman as part of a third couple who joined the group. I was astounded at the cheek, and the fact the woman just smiled and laughed at these comments, instead of absolutely battering him. “People like that actually exist! In the real world!”

Another couple on an overnight boat trip didn’t realise I was joking when I was… making jokes. It’s not like any of the daft comments and dad-on-holiday patter were certificate X, either. It was a bit like explaining that, you know, it doesn’t really matter why the chicken wanted to cross the road, or what might have awaited it on the other side. Now imagine that sort of scrutiny after every utterance. “It’s your accent,” the woman explained later, as if that explained anything.

So, I’ve learned. I’m happy enough drinking cocktails in our own group of two, reading a stack of books on my tod, worrying about sharks while we go for a swim in a pair, and forming our own pub quiz team.

Then one night (a while ago now, mind you; pre-kids anyway), we were approached by this cracking couple from the South West. The shutters went up immediately, but then something strange happened: I lightened up, and we… Well. We made friends. They were loads of fun. They didn’t want anything from us. They got my jokes, and I got theirs. Importantly, they also knew not to crowd us – I looked forward to having a drink with them at night back at the hotel, and was genuinely sorry to see them go home, a couple of days before we did.

Hey – maybe for them, we were the weirdos?

It was a nice, human experience. So of course my imagination twisted this into something unpleasant for The Beach House.

I wondered what would happen if you had genuinely evil people try to befriend you on holiday – evil people with an evil purpose. And you couldn’t easily extricate yourself from the situation. When your own sense of manners and social skills over-ride your instincts, which might have to scream at you in order for you to protect yourself and your partner.

One of my favourite parts of any modern thriller is in The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo, when Mikael Blomkvist confronts the novel’s villain. He has a chance to get away, but he refuses, because of good manners. The villain reflects on this with some astonishment. “All I had to do was offer you a cup of coffee.”

All my baddies had to do was order my heroine a pina colada. And it could happen to you. Of course it could. They’re out there. They walk among us. They go on holiday. They sit beside you on a train. They seem nice. They know exactly what to say to people. They see a person or a situation, and their minds instantly move onto how they can strip it to the bone.

Have you seen my business card, incidentally? Maybe we could swap? Hey, networking is networking, after all. No sense in ignoring the business angle, hey? We’ve all got to eat. Fancy a cocktail? Maybe we could go to the pub quiz…

Author and journalist PR Black lives in Yorkshire, although he was born and brought up in Glasgow. When he’s not driving his wife and two children to distraction with all the typing, he enjoys hillwalking, fresh air and the natural world, and can often be found asking the way to the nearest pub in the Lake District. His short stories have been published in several books including the Daily Telegraph’s Ghost Stories and the Northern Crime One anthology. His Glasgow detective, Inspector Lomond, is appearing in Ellery Queen’s Mystery Magazine. He took the runner-up spot in the 2014 Bloody Scotland crime-writing competition with “Ghostie Men”. His work has also been performed on stage in London by Liars’ League. He has also been shortlisted for the Red Cross International Prize, the William Hazlitt essay prize and the Bridport Prize.

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Posted in Blog Tour, Book Review, Crime, Domestic Thriller, Guest post, Noir, Psychological Thriller, Suspense, Thriller

The Other You J.S. Monroe 5* #Review @HoZ_Books @Aria_Fiction @JSThrillers #PsychologicalThriller #CrimeFiction #Police #Noir #Domestic #Suspense #BlogTour #BookReview #GuestPost

Kate used to be good at recognising people. So good, she worked for the police, identifying criminals in crowds of thousands. But six months ago, a devastating car accident led to a brain injury. Now the woman who never forgot a face can barely recognise herself in the mirror.

At least she has Rob. Young, rich, handsome and successful, Rob runs a tech company on the idyllic Cornish coast. Kate met him just after her accident, and he nursed her back to health. When she’s with him, in his luxury modernist house, the nightmares of the accident fade, and she feels safe and loved.

Until, one day, she looks at Rob anew. And knows, with absolute certainty, that the man before her has been replaced by an impostor.

Is Rob who he says he is? Or is it all in Kate’s damaged mind?

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

My Thoughts…

This is a chilling, complex and curious thriller, with psychological and technological themes. Told from three points of view. The reader lives the complete story. Whilst, it keeps you turning the pages, it starts your mind thinking too, what if?

The story has many strands. The unusual skill of the female protagonist, as a super recogniser, which now lost, has left her unsure and vulnerable. The secret world of the new man in her life, and his attitude towards her that makes their interactions often claustrophobic. The themes of doppelgangers, and his apparent obsession with his.

The story is full of underlying detail, which sets the scene convincingly, and evidences the author’s copious research. There are many twists, and the ending is memorable.

If you’ve read this author’s psychological thrillers before, you may be waiting for something to happen that you don’t expect. It does, but its impact is more powerful than you may imagine.

Clever writing, intense suspense, and originality make this a must-read for those who like to explore the darkness and vastness of the human mind.

Guest Post – Super recognisers, by J.S.Monroe

There are some unlucky people in this world who cannot remember a face. Try as they might, they can’t recognise the most familiar people in their lives: relatives, friends, even their own reflection. The condition is known as facial blindness, or prosopagnosia, and it’s estimated that about two per cent of us are sufferers. In 2009, Richard Russell, a Harvard psychologist, wondered if these people were on a spectrum and, if they were, what happened at the other end? Were there those who cannot forget a face? Enter the “super recognisers”, a term coined by Russell for the one per cent of us who indeed have a preternatural gift for remembering the human face. A super recogniser might only have seen someone for a split second at a bus stop five years ago, but if he walked passed them again tomorrow, he would remember them.

In my new thriller, The Other You, my main female character, Kate, is a former super recogniser. She used to work as a civilian for the police, studying mug shots and then identifying criminals on CCTV footage, or working in the field at large public events, spotting known troublemakers in crowds. I spent a lot of time reading up on the subject, as I found it increasingly fascinating. The part of the brain where human faces are processed, for example, is called the fusiform gyrus and it appears to be a lot more active in super recognisers than the rest of us.

My research eventually took me to Essex, where I met a super recogniser called Emma. She only discovered her ability in her thirties, but she’d always had a good memory for faces, recognising someone in the swimming pool who had served her in Tesco’s years earlier, or spotting extras who kept on cropping up in different films. “It’s a bit embarrassing when you go up to someone familiar and smile and they look at you blankly because they don’t remember your face,” she says. Emma used to be in the Metropolitan Police but she now works a super recogniser for a private security firm. After a shift of spotting people, she’s mentally drained. “Your brain’s working overtime, taking screenshots all the time, scanning faces like a robot.”

Talking of robots, super recognisers are proving more than a match for facial recognition software, which is currently experiencing a global boom. The artificial intelligence algorithms deployed to identify faces, matching people in live situations to databases of criminals, are getting better, but it remains a far from exact science. When South Wales Police deployed facial recognition software at the Champions League Final in Cardiff in 2017, more than 2,000 people were wrongly identified as criminals – a failure rate of 92%.

Compare that with the success of super recognisers working for the Metropolitan Police. After the London riots in 2011, the Met amassed 200,000 hours of CCTV footage, but software managed to identify one criminal. One! The Met’s team of super recognisers, by contrast, identified more than 600. One extraordinary individual, PC Gary Collins, identified 180 alone, including a man who had concealed his face with a bandana and beanie. Collins recognised him from just his eyes – he’d last seen him two years ago.

“Algorithms will get better, but people change appearance and we as humans are primed to see through those changes,” says Josh Davis, professor of Applied Psychology at the University of Greenwich, who works closely with super recognisers and police forces around the world.

There’s something about the human face, it seems, that can’t be analysed solely by metrics. When we see someone, we imbue their face with meaning. He reminds me of my father; she looks like my old English teacher. The distance between our ears, or our mouth and nose, only tells half the story. Faces are uniquely human and humans – the super recognisers – remain, for the time being, the best at identifying them.

J.S.Monroe

J.S. Monroe read English at Cambridge, worked as a foreign correspondent in Delhi, and was Weekend editor of the Daily Telegraph in London before becoming a full-time writer. Monroe is the author of eight novels, including the international bestseller, Find Me.

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Posted in Blog Tour, Book Review, Crime, Domestic Thriller, Family Drama, Guest post, Noir, Psychological Thriller

The Other Woman Jane Isaac 4* #Review @Aria_Fiction @JaneIsaacAuthor #DCBethChamberlain #CrimeFiction #PsychologicalThriller #FamilyDrama #Domestic #noir #FamilyLiaisonOfficer #BlogTour #BookReview #GuestPost #TheOtherWoman

#TheOtherWoman

The grieving widow. The other woman. Which one is which?

When Cameron Swift is shot and killed outside his family home, DC Beth Chamberlain is appointed Family Liaison Officer. Her role is to support the family – and investigate them.

Monika, Cameron’s partner and mother of two sons, had to be prised off his lifeless body after she discovered him. She has no idea why anyone would target Cameron.

Beth can understand Monika’s confusion. To everyone in their affluent community, Monika and her family seemed just like any other. But then Beth gets a call.

Sara is on holiday with her daughters when she sees the news. She calls the police in the UK, outraged that no one has contacted her to let her know or offer support. After all, she and Cameron had been together for the last seven years…

Until Cameron died, Monika and Sara had no idea each other existed.

As the case unfolds, Beth discovers that nothing is quite as it appears and everyone, it seems, has secrets. Especially the dead…

Previously published as After He’s Gone.

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

My Thoughts…

The beginning is intense and shocking. It raises questions, when did this happen? Before the story yet to unfold? After? During?

It sets the scene for an intricately woven plot of danger, deceit and desire.

The characters play out their roles in an authentic way, the knowledge of police procedures is evident and makes that part of the story realistic and readable. The main theme of the story is the web of lies that one man lived, only revealed after his demise. The two families, the anger, anguish and anonymity they feel. Are they as ignorant as they seem? Do they know more? Are they in danger too?

Beth Chamberlain, as a new family liaison officer, brings a fresh perspective. She has her problems, some of which impinge on the investigation, but her empathy and intelligence make her role pivotal.

The suspense builds well, the plot has enough twists to make it page-turning, but plausible. An engaging story with significant psychological suspense played out against a well-written police procedural setting.

Guest Post – Jane Isaacs – Embracing the New

Thank you so much for hosting me on your blog, Jane. I’m delighted to be here!

I originally wrote the DC Beth Chamberlain series as a self-publishing project, and the first two titles, After He’s Gone and Presumed Guilty, were released under the banner of police procedurals, with a third waiting in the wings. As a traditionally published author of five books, I did find it extremely helpful to learn more about the other side of the publishing business. I employed editors and cover artists and took the books through all the same processes as my traditional novels and was pleased when the reviews started to roll in. However, while I enjoyed the process immensely, I also gained a greater appreciation how much work actually goes into getting the books we write out there!

Needless to say, all these additional tasks took me away from writing new material, which will always be my first love. So, I was delighted to sign the series over to Aria Fiction to take it forward and re-launch it, along with a brand-new title in 2020.

I’m very excited about this new partnership, not least because Aria feel these books are more domestic noir/psychological thriller than police procedurals – a new area for me – and will be marketing as such. They’ve done a great job with the first novel, changing it from After He’s Gone to The Other Woman and I’m thrilled at the cover they’ve come up with!

#JaneIsaac

JaneIssac

Jane Isaac is married to a serving detective and they live in rural Northamptonshire UK with their daughter, and dog, Bollo. Jane loves to hear from readers and writers.

Sign up to her book club at http://eepurl.com/1a2uT for book recommendations and details of new releases, events and giveaways.

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Posted in Book Spotlight, Guest post, Mystery, Romantic Comedy

The Cornish Secret of Summer's Promise Laura Briggs #GuestPost @PaperDollWrites @rararesources #ALittleHotelinCornwall #RomCom #Cornwall #PublicationDay

As spring slips away from the hotel Penmarrow, excitement builds for an exclusive auction hosted at the hotel, featuring priceless possessions from a Hollywood actress turned lady of the manor, including her famous diamonds. Celebrities and collectors form a crowd that is keeping Maisie and the rest of staff busy, even as Maisie faces a crossroads for her manuscript.

But when the diamonds are stolen and Sidney is accused by the authorities, Maisie’s dilemma as a writer is pushed aside out of fear that his future in Port Hewer is in jeopardy. Desperation to prove that someone else is behind the theft will lead Maisie to uncover a very different secret outside of jewel thieves and village rumours… one that could change her life and her future forever.

Can Maisie deal with the latest secrets exposed — including those that paint Sidney’s past in a questionable light? And as summer’s dawn alters her idyllic life in Cornwall, will Maisie’s feelings for Sidney change as well?

Amazon UK

#PublicationDay
Guest Post Laura Briggs Fun Facts about My Romance Series ‘A Little Hotel in Cornwall’

Thank you so much to Jane for letting me stop by and share with her lovely readers today. It’s publication day for Book Four in my Cornish romance series about aspiring author Maisie who finds herself working at a historic hotel by the sea. This latest instalment is filled with romance, secrets, and even a bit of mystery—and I thought it might be rather exciting to share with you some of the fun facts behind the story’s creation. So here goes:

  • The concept for a plucky young American woman entangled with a daring theft on foreign shores was inspired partly by the 1989 TV movie adaptation of Agatha Christie’s The Man in the Brown Suit. It, too, features a ‘fish out of water’ scenario for a daring young heroine, a grand and mysterious foreign adventure, and a rugged, British love interest with a little bit of mystery in his past! Blake Edwards’ 1960’s comedy The Pink Panther was another influence, especially for Maisie’s latest brush with jewel thieves, along with the Road to Avonlea season four episode “The Disappearance” guest starring Diana Rigg and Robby Benson. I really love daring adventure stories with romantic settings and a touch of mystery, as you can see!
  • References to Doctor Who abound in my Cornish series, since both Maisie and her would-be love interest Sidney are huge fans of the classic science fiction show.  But there’s a more subtle nod to the franchise in this book, with the choice of ‘Eccleston’ as a surname for the silent film star whose possessions are being auctioned at the hotel—the same last name as that of the actor who portrayed the 9th incarnation of the Doctor in the 2005 series revival (the very first series of Doctor Who that I ever watched, in fact!).
  • The jewelled dragon mentioned among the famous actresses’ collection in the story was inspired by the one featured in the 1991 Disney television movie Bejewelled, while the theft of a diamond necklace harkens back to the 1981 classic The Great Muppet Caper. Both of them are films that remind us that a little bit of mystery can pop up in any kind of story.
  • The character of Detective Anson is a nod to such classic literary investigators as Lord Peter Wimsey, Maigret, and Hercule Poirot. Every classic genre mystery has a distinctive, inscrutable investigator at its heart, after all.
  •   The Lady Marverly novel that pops up in the hands of various characters throughout the story is meant to be a (rather obvious) reference to the ‘bodice ripper’ type paperbacks one used to see for sale in supermarkets, often featuring the male model Fabio on the cover. I thought it would be nice to pay subtle tribute to the original ‘standard’ in romance literature that everybody has seen, with its memorable and oh-so unmistakable hunky male models on its covers!

So hopefully these fun facts will make you curious enough to check out Maisie’s newest adventure, as well as the rest of the series. The first four stories are available in eBook format, with book five currently on pre-order!

#LauraBriggs

Laura Briggs is the author of several feel-good romance reads, including the Top 100 Amazon UK seller ‘A Wedding in Cornwall’. She has a fondness for vintage style dresses (especially ones with polka dots), and reads everything from Jane Austen to modern day mysteries. When she’s not writing, she enjoys spending time with family and friends, caring for her pets, gardening, and seeing the occasional movie or play.

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#GiveawayPrize
Giveaway  – 3 Winners to win a ‘surprise’ three-dimensional pop-up card & receive a digital copy of Book One, A Little Hotel in Cornwall. (Open INT)

Each winner will receive a ‘surprise’ three-dimensional pop-up card handcrafted by an Etsy artist and bearing a clue about the next book in Laura Briggs’ Cornish romance series. The winners will also receive a digital copy of Book One, A Little Hotel in Cornwall.

Click on Giveaway Link to enter

*Terms and Conditions –Worldwide entries welcome.  Please enter using the Giveaway Link above.  The winner will be selected at random via Rafflecopter from all valid entries and will be notified by Twitter and/or email. If no response is received within 7 days then Rachel’s Random Resources reserves the right to select an alternative winner. Open to all entrants aged 18 or over.  Any personal data given as part of the competition entry is used for this purpose only and will not be shared with third parties, with the exception of the winners’ information. This will be passed to the giveaway organiser and used only for the fulfilment of the prize, after which time Rachel’s Random Resources will delete the data.  I am not responsible for despatch or delivery of the prize.

Posted in Blog Tour, Book Review, Contemporary Fiction, Family Drama, Friendship, Guest post, Saga

The Place We Call Home Faith Hogan 5*#Review @GerHogan @Aria_Fiction #FamilyDrama #Secrets #SmallTown #BlogTour #GuestPost #Lies #Irish #Fiction #Rural #saga #coastal #Ireland #Friendship #PublicationDay

#APlaceWeCallHome

Welcome to Ballycove, the home of Corrigan Mills…

Set against the backdrop of the beautiful Irish countryside the famed mills have created the finest wool in all of Ireland. Run by the seemingly perfect Corrigan family, but every family has its secrets, and how the mills came to be the Corrigan’s is one of them…

Miranda and her husband were never meant to own the mills until one fateful day catapults them into a life they never thought they’d lead.

Ada has forever lived her life in her sister’s shadow. Wanting only to please her mother and take her place as the new leader of the mill, Ada might just have to take a look at what her heart really wants.

Callie has a flourishing international career as a top designer and a man who loves her dearly, she appears to have it all. When a secret is revealed and she’s unceremoniously turfed out of the design world, Callie might just get what’s she’s been yearning for. The chance to go home.

Simon has always wanted more. More money, more fame, more notoriety. The problem child. Simon has made more enemies than friends over the years, and when one of his latest schemes falls foul he’ll have to return to the people who always believe in him.

Ballycove isn’t just a town in the Irish countryside. It isn’t just the base of the famous mills. It’s a place to call home.

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#BlogTour

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

My Thoughts…

A family saga set in Western Ireland. The setting is vivid and provides the perfect ethos for this story. Family secrets, love, lies, hardship, loss, and after much angst and drama, the light at the end of the tunnel, make this a poignant but ultimately satisfying story. This immersive read draws the reader into a quintessentially Irish way of life, with a solid plot, that showcases the spectrum of human emotions. Authentic, complex characters and a chance to escape into another world.

This is a story to be savoured, the pace is gentle and you get to know the characters well, both in the past and present. Not all of them are likeable, but this is a reflection of life, so you wouldn’t expect them to be.

The mill is the lifeblood of the community, a character on its own. It witnesses so much, over the years, and is the source of happiness, sadness, poverty and riches. The details of its running and historical significance give the book depth and make the story more believable.

A flowing family saga of life, love and lies, beautifully told.

Guest Post – Faith Hogan

Welcome to Ballycove….

I’m so delighted to visit Jane’s lovely blog today and to tell you about my new book – THE PLACE WE CALL HOME. If you’ve read my other books, you’ll know by now that I write uplifting stories, about friendship, family, secrets, lies and sometimes, there’s a little romance thrown in!

This time we visit Ballycove – it’s a village that appeared fleetingly in an earlier book – The Girl I Used To Know. I wanted to create a place that represented the best of the place I call home. I live in the west of Ireland – in a little town that sits on one of the richest salmon rivers in Europe. Just over half a dozen miles away, the Atlantic Ocean breathes up its icy air on flawless beaches and you can walk for miles without meeting a soul. On the other hand, if you’re feeling more social you can ramble with the dog through the nearby Beleek woods where everyone has time to say hello.

Ten miles in the opposite direction, there’s a small town called Foxford. It is a fairly typical little town in the west of Ireland, with the River Moy flowing through it, plenty of hills to walk across and local shops and restaurants that serve great food and offer Irish hospitality at its best. At the bottom of the town, sits the Foxford Wollen Mills. The Corrigan Mills are loosely based around these world-famous mills.

Image Credit Geraldine Hogan

There are a number of differences, however – unlike the Foxford Mills which were built by a pioneering nun in response to the poverty she saw at the time; the Ballycove mills are a family-owned business.

And it is from this family business that the tension in the novel arises…

Still a young woman, Miranda Corrigan has found herself at the helm of the biggest employer in her locality – except that it looks like the mills will have to close. She must juggle raising her three children alone and saving the mills – it’s no wonder then that when the time approaches to hand them on she does so reluctantly since there appear to be no safe hands available to pass them onto.

The problem is that her children don’t agree and the divisions that are setting in between them all look as if they may never heal.

Until David Blair arrives in town and reader, I will not say she married him, but he proves to be the wild card that may just blow the whole family apart – or could he be the person who manages to bring them all together?

You’ll have to read it to find out for yourself…

#Faith Hogan

Faith lives in the west of Ireland with her husband, four children and two very fussy cats. She has a Hons Degree in English Literature and Psychology, has worked as a fashion model and in the intellectual disability and mental health sector.

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Posted in Blog Tour, Book Review, Crime, Guest post, Thriller

Death at Eden's End Jo Allen 4*#Review #DCI Jude Satterthwaite @JoAllenAuthor @Aria_Fiction @HoZ_Books #CrimeFiction #PoliceProcedural #Thriller #BlogTour #BookReview #GuestPost #Cumbria #EdenValley #LakeDistrict

A brand new DCI Jude Satterthwaite crime mystery from the bestselling Jo Allen.

When one-hundred-year-old Violet Ross is found dead at Eden’s End, a luxury care home hidden in a secluded nook of the Lake District’s Eden Valley it’s tragic, of course, but not unexpected. Except for the instantly recognisable look in her lifeless eyes… that of pure terror.

DCI Jude Satterthwaite heads up the investigation, but as the deaths start to mount up it’s clear that he and DS Ashleigh O’Halloran need to uncover a long-buried secret before the killer strikes again…

The second in the unmissable, Lake District-set, DCI Jude Satterthwaite series.

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

My Thoughts…

Set in Cumbria, which always provides an atmospheric background for crime fiction, the second in the DCI Jude Satterthwaite series, provides an engaging police procedural, with a cast of characters worthy of any classic murder mystery.

The story begins with a violent death, and then whilst the reader is wondering what will happen next, the pace is slowed as the story switches to the police investigation team, two-members of which, are still emotionally damaged from past relationships. Their close proximity and the nature of their profession throws them together, but although attracted, they are reluctant to take things further.

In the midst of this inconvenient physical attraction, and elderly lady’s death is flagged up as suspicious, and the investigation that ensues draws the reader into the historic world of WW2, where the answers may lie.

The detailing and pacing of the story equate with the medley of murder mystery and police procedural. Similarly, to the first book in the series, the personal lives of the police team featured significantly, and much of this is introspective. This is an original aspect of this story, which identifies it.

The plot is good, and satisfactorily resolved, and each of the cast of characters has traits which make them believable and relatable. An absorbing balance of murder mystery and police procedural, with an interesting detective team.


#DCIJudeSatterthwaite #1

Read my review of Death by Dark Waters

Death at Eden’s End is the second in the DCI Satterthwaite series — and writing a series has been something of a challenge.

Before I began I’d mostly written either standalone novels or linked novels, which are essentially standalone but involve the same setting and the same characters. Writing a series in which the various characters’ lives unfold over a period of years is a whole different kettle of fish.

The main thing, as a writer, is to think of what the reader is looking for. With crime, you need a complete story with a satisfactory ending in which the villain gets caught — but in the lives of the detectives and their families and friends, it’s not so simple. These stories can take several books to reveal and with several characters, not all stories will be developing at the same time.

Jude is the main character in the DCI Satterthwaite series and his tribulations are years old. On the romantic side, there’s Becca, the ex-girlfriend who (despite what he pretends) he still loves and who poses an ever-present reminder of how he lets his job dominate his life, and there’s his colleague Ashleigh, who’s attractive and available but comes with complicated emotional baggage of her own in the shape of a possessive ex-husband who won’t let go. Then there’s Mikey, the much younger brother who’s going off the rails and for whom Jude is effectively a father-figure in lieu of their real father, from whom Mikey is entirely estranged. And there’s Adam, the former best friend who ended up in prison as a result of Jude’s unshakeable conscience and who will never forgive.

As a reader, I plan Jude’s story, and those of the other characters such as Ashleigh and Jude’s friend and colleague, the gay and quietly celibate Doddsy, well ahead. They take years of their lives and years of mine. But as a reader, I find it frustrating when a part of the story is left hanging.

In my experience, most readers are pretty tolerant. “I only wish there had been a bit more Jude/Ashleigh romance but I understand why it was so tame. Got to build into these things, right?” sighed one reviewer (who, by the way, gave it five stars). And it does seem by the reviews that many readers are only too happy to join these characters for a longer journey.

As a writer I want my readers to buy into the characters as much as I do. I hope that when you’ve finished reading Death at Eden’s End you’ll be satisfied by the way the criminal element of the plot is resolved and agog to find out how the Jude-Ashleigh-Becca relationship is resolved, whether Jude can manage to keep Mikey out of trouble — and how long Adam is prepared to wait for his revenge.

#JoAllen

Jo Allen was born in Wolverhampton and is a graduate of Edinburgh, Strathclyde and the Open University. After a career in economic consultancy, she took up writing and was first published under the name Jennifer Young in genres of short stories, romance and romantic suspense. In 2017 she took the plunge and began writing the genre she most likes to read – crime. Now living in Edinburgh, she spends as much time as possible in the English Lakes. In common with all her favourite characters, she loves football (she’s a season ticket holder with her beloved Wolverhampton Wanderers) and cats. Twitter Facebook

Posted in Blog Tour, Book Review, Crime, Gangland Crime, ganglit, Guest post, Noir, Thriller

Ruby Heather Burnside #TheWorkingGirls 4* #Review @Aria_Fiction @heatherbwriter #ganglit #Manchester #UrbanFiction #CrimeFiction #Thriller #BlogTour #BookReview #GuestPost @HoZ_Books

The stronger sex.

Ruby has always been strong. Growing up with a feeble mother and an absent father, she is forced to fight the battles of her younger siblings. And when a childhood experience leaves her traumatised, her distrust of men turns to hatred.

On the streets.

With no safe place to call home, Ruby is desperate to fit in with the tough crowd. She spends her teenage years sleeping around and drinking in the park, and by the time she is sixteen, prostitution has become a way of life. But Ruby has ambitions, and she soon moves up the ladder to become the madam of her own brothel.

The brothel.

But being in charge of a brothel has its downsides, Ruby faces her worst nightmare when an enemy from the past comes back into her life, and gang intimidation threatens to ruin everything. Can she find a way to beat her tormentors? And will she be strong enough to see it through?

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#Ruby

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

My Thoughts…

Another chapter in the gritty urban thriller set in Manchester and focused on working girls.

Ruby’s story is told in two timelines, the past, reflecting how her childhood and a teenage, drew her into the life of prostitution. The present, where she has everything thing she’s worked for but is in danger of losing.

She is not a victim. She had a plan and was prepared to use prostitution, as the means to give her the lifestyle she wants. Formerly, working for the pimp Gilly, a heinous character we met in book 1 The Mark, now she runs her own business. She hates men, because of her past experiences in her childhood and teenage, and revels in her role as a brothel owner. When her livelihood is threatened by men from her past. She demonstrates how courageous she is in defending those she cares about and her hard-fought-for business.

Like most people she has different facets, the gentle, loyal side which she shows to her lover Tiffany and her friends, The other side is driven and ruthless. Determined to keep what she owns and prepared to endanger herself to protect it. Ruby is a believable character, who commands your respect. She does want is needed, and that is admirable.

I have read the first book in the series, but this is a complete story, with enough backstory on the cast of characters and their situation for it to read well as a standalone. However, it is an addictive, action-filled series that is worth reading in its entirety.

The story reflects the lifestyle it portrays, so it features, bad language, sex and violence. It explores the darker aspects of society, but only to move Ruby’s story forward. Written engagingly, with realistic characters and situations. The adrenaline-fueled drama is addictive, as is the characterisation.

A must-read for those who enjoy relentless, ganglit in a contemporary urban setting.

#TheWorkingGirls #1

Read my review of book 1 The Mark

Guest – Post – Heather Burnside -How One Book Became a Series

I am so excited to be releasing Ruby, book two in The Working Girls series. It’s funny to think that initially, the idea for this book didn’t exist at all. It was actually through writing book one, The Mark, that I developed the concept for a series of books. 

My vision for The Mark came from a popular TV detective series that I watched back in the nineties. In a particular scene, the female detective is sitting in a seedy pub with a group of prostitutes trying to obtain information from them. Because she looks so out of place in that environment it made me think about how susceptible she was to all kinds of criminal acts from some of the dodgy characters that frequent the pub, and the book took root from there.

Because I have scant knowledge of the world of prostitution I carried out my research by reading a number of books by former prostitutes and watching online videos. A series on prostitution by the BBC was particularly poignant and a real eye-opener.

In this series, working girls were interviewed and they gave a candid and raw depiction of their lives. The girls had many things in common such as abusive childhoods, time spent in care, and drug addiction, which had led to their lives of prostitution.

A lot of the girls had entered into prostitution for similar reasons; a need to earn lots of money quickly either to make a living or to feed a drink and drugs habit. Drink and drugs were viewed by them as both a driving force into prostitution and a result of it, and some of the girls described how it helped to dull the senses to what they were experiencing.

There was one particularly sad character. She was an ageing prostitute who looked much older than her actual age because her appearance had been ravaged by drug abuse. She had developed a really bad chest infection, bordering on pneumonia, because her body was so depleted. Yet, despite her poor state of health, she still felt the need to service clients so that she could earn money to feed her drug habit. I have based the character of Angie on her. She appears in book one and also features later in the series.

While watching the programmes it occurred to me that each of these girls has their own story to tell. Then ideas for each of the characters started to form in my mind. Once I had thought of the characters their stories seemed to follow, probably because their personalities had been shaped by their life experiences. I also decided to give most of them a jewel name because their pimp wanted them to sound more exotic.

Book two is about Ruby who goes into prostitution purely to escape a life of poverty. Although she isn’t hooked on drugs, she does dabble a bit in the early days as a working girl. She isn’t as vulnerable as many of the other girls and has tremendous strength of character. I decided to feature Ruby in the second book as she is so formidable and interesting, and many readers commented that they would like to see more of her.

Currently, the series stands at three novels; The Mark, Ruby and Crystal (to be released in June 2020) but I have outline ideas for two more novels so it could possibly turn into a series of five in the future with each of books two to five based on a different girl. For the moment though, the focus is on Ruby who is one of my favourite characters out of all those I have created. I hope readers will take to her as much as I have.

#HeatherBurnside

Heather Burnside spent her teenage years on one of the toughest estates in Manchester and she draws heavily on this background as the setting for many of her novels. After taking a career break to raise two children Heather enrolled on a creative writing course. Heather now works full-time on her novels from her home in Manchester, which she shares with her two grown-up children.

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