Posted in Blog Tour, Book Review, Contemporary Fiction, Crime, Noir, Psychological Thriller, Thriller

Love’s Long Road G.D.Harper 4*#Review @harper_author @rararesources #Thriller #PsychologicalThriller #noir #crime #Glasgow #1970s #Guilt

Glasgow, 1975. How do you cope when your boyfriend kills himself because of you?

WhenBobbie Sinclair’s boyfriend commits suicide and blames her, she vows never to love again. Instead, she chooses to lead a double existence, kind-hearted by day and promiscuous by night. She increasingly struggles to maintain the balance between light and dark and soon finds herself sucked into the world of a controlling and ruthless crime lord from which she must escape.

Set against a vibrant but seedy 1970s Glasgow backdrop, Love’s Long Road plots Bobbie’s desperate plight. Starting a new life but constantly afraid of her past catching up with her, she battles danger, adversity and drug addiction on the long and perilous road back to love.

Love’s Long Road is about dealing with the guilt of terrible events in your past and the risk of being corrupted by the world around you; it is a story that captures to perfection what it was like to be young and single in the 1970s. 

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

My Thoughts…

Whilst this type of story is not new, it is given a unique interpretation by the author, told from Bobbie’s point of view in the first person. The reader sees the world, and the decisions she makes, through her eyes. This gives this story undeniable originality.

Bobbie is a young, naive woman, riddled with guilt when her boyfriend who she recently broke up with kills himself. She attends his funeral out of respect but feels so responsible for his death that she feels she shouldn’t be there.

What follows, is a painful journey of self-recrimination and ultimately, self-awareness. Her indiscriminate one-night stands, lead her a dangerous path, where she meets Michael, he is dangerous, but she is too naive to appreciate this until her life is irrecoverably altered.

The pacing is fast, and the story follows Bobbie’s experiences as she tries to build a new life, there are sacrifices and victories, but constant running, until a final twist, means running is not an option. At this moral crossroads, Bobbie has to decide what to do, and it here the reader witnesses her character’s maturity and you want her life to be something worthwhile.

The setting is Glasgow and London in the mid to late 1970s, the culture and ethos of the period are faithfully recreated, and gives the story its authenticity and depth.

Overall this is a well-paced journey of self-discovery, with many intense and suspenseful moments and a believable, yet hopeful conclusion,

#LovesLongRoad

I was placed third in the 2015 Lightship Prize for first-time authors, won a 2016 Wishing Shelf Award Red Ribbon, been shortlisted at the UK Festival of Writing for Best First Chapter, longlisted in the 2017 UK Novel Writing Competition.

In 2017, I was one of twelve authors selected for Authors in the Spotlight at the Bloody Scotland book festival in Stirling, showcasing who they considered to be the best emerging talent in crime fiction, and was the only self-published author to be chosen. I have spoken at numerous other book events, including Blackwells’ Writers at the Fringe at the Edinburgh Festival Fringe; a stand-alone slot at the Byres Road Book Festival in Glasgow, and the Aye Write! Book Festival, also in Glasgow.

I went to Glasgow University in 1975 and lived in the city’s West End, the time and place for the setting of the majority of Love’s Long Road.


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Posted in Book Review, Crime, Family Drama

Home Truths Susan Lewis 5*#Review @susanlewisbooks @HarperFiction @HarperCollinsUK @fictionpubteam #FamilyDrama #Relationships #Crime #Poverty #Debt #homelessness

How far would you go to keep your family safe?

Angie Watts had the perfect ordinary family. A new home. A beloved husband. Three adored children.
 
But Angie’s happy life is shattered when her son Liam falls in with the wrong crowd. And when her son’s bad choices lead to the murder of her husband, it’s up to Angie to hold what’s left of her family together.
 
Her son is missing. Her daughter is looking for help in dangerous places. And Angie is fighting just to keep a roof over their heads.
 
But Angie is a mother. And a mother does anything to protect her children – even when the world is falling apart…

Amazon UK

I received a copy of this book from HarperCollins UK – Harper Fiction via NetGalley in return for an honest review.

My Thoughts…

An intense family drama, with an authentically crafted contemporary plot.’ Home Truths’ is exactly what it says on the cover. A realistic and thought-provoking insight into people who are failed by the welfare system and wider society. The homeless, the young people recruited by crime gangs and abusers, and the millions of families drowning in debt.

I often read fiction for escapism, but this is not that. It gets your attention in a dramatic, tragic way, and then while you’re reeling from the horror, it explores the aftermath. Ordinary, people are drawn into lives of crime, debt and poverty, though, circumstances out of their control, poor decisions and unscrupulous individuals and organisations, who see a financial gain, and not the collateral damage their decisions leave behind.

Angie and her husband have what many people want, each other, children and somewhere to call home. When Liam as a child is corrupted by local gangs, it changes the course of their lives. This story follows Angie and her family, as she fights to keep her remaining family safe when everything is against her. Her situation is relatable, and her motivations to her imploding situation believable and disturbing.

The story manages to highlight the issues, whilst delivering a gripping family drama. ‘Home Truths’ is an excellent story, with a realistic, and positive conclusion. It makes you think, about contemporary issues and the society’s blame culture and lack of compassion.

Posted in Book Review, Contemporary Fiction, Crime, Family Drama

Take It Back Kia Abdullah 4*#Review @HQStories @KiaAbdullah #CrimeFiction #LegalDrama #CourtroomDrama #FamilyDrama #Prejudice #Secrets #Lies

IT’S TIME TO TAKE YOUR PLACE ON THE JURY.

The victim: A sixteen-year-old girl with facial deformities, neglected by an alcoholic mother. Who accuses the boys of something unthinkable.

The defendants: Four handsome teenage boys from hardworking immigrant families. All with corroborating stories. WHOSE SIDE WOULD YOU TAKE?

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

My Thoughts…

An intense legal drama that explores ethical and moral issues. When a young disabled girl accuses four young boys of rape. Contemporary issues of race, religion, prejudice and social divisiveness are all in evidence in this authentically plotted crime fiction novel.

The first half of the story begins with the rape accusation and the police procedural that follows on from this. Jodie makes her accusation at a rape crisis centre, which brings her into contact to Zara, an ex-barrister, now reinvented as a rape crisis caseworker. Jodie accuses four boys at her school, she is white and suffers from a disfiguring disability to her face, which has laid her open to bullying throughout her young life. The boys are all Muslim, Zara is also Muslim, and so from the outset, there is inevitable tension, between individuals, families and the community.

There is a strong element of family drama in this first part of the story, as we learn more about the victim, her advocate and the four accused boys. The family reactions and the power of social media are all well documented here. Trial by the press and social media are recurrent themes, and everyone is tainted by them.

The second part of the story is the trial. The courtroom drama is portrayed believably. The drama outside the courtroom is disturbing and powerful. The penultimate twist is harrowing, but don’t breathe out too soon, there is more, and this is what makes this story resonate.

Complex, contemporary characters, realistic social issues, and a good understanding of the communities and the issues that they face, make this story read like ‘true crime’ rather than fiction. It is worth reading, even though, sometimes, it’s painful to do so.

Posted in Blog Tour, Book Review, Crime, Literary Fiction, Literary Humour, Romance

The Weighing Of The Heart Paul Tudor Owen 5*#Review @PaulTOwen @ObliteratiPress #LoveBooksTours #Love #Obsession #NewYork #Crime #blogtour #Excerpt #bookreview

#TheWeighingOftheHeart

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

My Thoughts…

I love a book that defies genre labelling, and ‘The Weighing Of The Heart’, is a perfect example. Told in the first person from Nick’s perspective. He is an ‘Englishman in New York’ and totally captivated by everything he experiences and sees, at least in the beginning. His descriptions and emotions, as he lives in the city, evoke rich visual imagery in the reader’s mind, whether they have experienced New York , or not.

It is almost memoir like in quality, as he tells his story to his eager audience. An artist, he is drawn to one of his landladies works of art from Ancient Egypt. Given the mystic and legend that surrounds ancient Egyptian relics, it is not surprising that he covets it obsessionally, and here the story takes on a more sinister theme.

Romance with another beautiful artist , also dominates his thinking, what starts off as attraction, darkens and deepens . Here the story explores the power of attraction, and how it too can be an obsession.

Mystery and criminal intent fuse with hope and passion to provide a gripping and surprising tale set in a city everyone wants to love.

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Excerpt From The Weighing OF the Heart – Chapter one – Paul Tudor Owen

Paul Tudor Owen was born in Manchester in 1978, and was educated at the University of Sheffield, the University of Pittsburgh, and the London School of Economics. 

He began his career as a local newspaper reporter in north-west London, and currently works at the Guardian, where he spent three years as deputy head of US news at the paper’s New York office.  

Posted in Book Review, Crime, Murder Mystery, Mystery

Taken To The Grave M.M. Chouinard 4* #Review @bookouture @m_m_chouinard #MurderMystery #policeprocedural #CrimeFiction #USA #DetectiveJoFournier #BookReview #bookblogger

In a town full of secrets, the truth won’t stay buried

When a girl’s body is discovered in a park in the sleepy Massachusetts town of Oakhurst, local detective Jo is shocked to the core. Because the girl is the second innocent victim to turn up dead in three days. And just like the first, a tarot card has been left by the body. The meaning of the card: betrayal.

After uncovering a series of threatening messages targeting the girl, a student at the university, and the first victim, her teacher, Jo thinks she’s locked the killer in her cross-hairs. The primary suspect is a volatile ex-military student with an axe to grind for failing grades, and the frightened town is out for his blood. But the next day, a much-loved member of the community is found dead in her home, a tarot card in her mail. There’s no clear motive to link her death to the others, and the message on the card this time is even stranger: domestic bliss.

With a fourth body and card appearing the following day, Jo knows she’s running out of time to crack the code and bring the killer to justice. And the pressure only gets worse with heart-breaking news about Jo’s father forcing her to choose between helping her family heal or the victims’ families get justice. Can Jo find the twisted murderer sending the town into a panic before another life is lost? Or this time, will the dangerous killer find her first?

Amazon UK

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

My Thoughts…

Set in Massachusetts USA, this is a well-paced police procedural , featuring Detective Josette Fournier and her partner Bob Arnett. The second in the series, it reads perfectly as a standalone,with sufficient back story on the main protagonist, cleverly interwoven into the story as a subplot. Jo is a committed, career woman, with a tragic past that makes the job her life. She doesn’t have relationships, only occasional lovers, and the reasons for this become clearer as the story progresses. She has a tense relationship with her younger sister that is forced into focus, when their father has health issues. This causes her additional problems, as she is the middle of a murder case.

The noir murder mystery is told from the detective’s point of view, and also the antagonist’s. Even with this additional view point, because of the numerous suspects, it is difficult to pinpoint the culprit. The police procedural element of the story is authentic. The murders are shocking, but not unduly, there is just enough detail to illustrate how driven the murderer is.

Jo Fournier is a good character, she is complex, and her emotional damage makes her interesting, and easy to empathise. The mystery is well-plotted with lots of suspects, and clues, I did solve part, but not all of the mystery, which engages the reader. The characters are believable and easy to imagine, and I look forward to reading their next case.

Posted in Author Interview, Blog Tour, Book Review, Crime, Family Drama

The Bad Place M.K.Hill 4*#Review @markhillwriter @HoZ_Books @Aria_Fiction #PoliceProcedural #DISashaDawson #Author Interview #CrimeFiction #Essex #BookReview

The newspapers called it The Bad Place. A remote farm out on the Thames estuary, where six children were held captive for two weeks. Five of them got out alive.

That was twenty years ago. Now, adults, they meet up annually to hold a candlelit vigil for their friend who died. The only rule is that no-one can talk about what happened the night they escaped. But at this year’s event, one of them witnesses a kidnapping. A young girl, Sammi, is bundled into a van in front of their eyes.

Is history repeating itself? Is one of them responsible? Or is someone sending them a twisted message?

DI Sasha Dawson, of Essex Police, is certain that the key to finding Sammi lies in finding out the truth about The Bad Place. But she also knows that with every second she spends trying to unlock the past, the clock ticks down for the missing girl…

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

My Thoughts…

The recent trend in police procedurals, is towards female detectives, with a family. This reflects twenty-first-century policing and is a welcome change from the hard-boiled male detectives, who often come across as cliched and stereotypical. DI Sasha Dawson has reached her rank, by dedication, intelligence, sacrifice and tenacity. She is a mother and a wife, and like most professional women suffers from the constant guilt of juggling her home and work life.

The story plays out in dual timelines, one historic, which provides the story with its dramatic beginning. It introduces Sasha Dawson, as a probationary police officer. The second, present-day timeline, brings the survivors of a traumatic event together in an annual ritual. One witnesses an abduction, reminiscent of what happened to them, and the plot begins its shocks and twists to an unexpected conclusion.

This is a good police procedural, which allows the reader glimpses into the lives of the suspects, police and victims. This coupled with its flawed and realistic characters gives the story its authentic feel. DI Dawson is a compassionate woman who wants to make a positive difference, and this reflects in the story’s ethos.

A great start, to what promises to be an addictive series.

#MKHill

It’s nice to see you here, thanks for coming. 

I’ve been a journalist and an award-winning music radio producer. I worked for about five minutes in PR. But I write the Drake and Crowley thriller series now, which is just as well because I love writing. It’s my dream job.

If you enjoyed His First Lie or It Was Her, do get in touch. There are plenty of ways to do it! 

It’s nice to see you here, thanks for coming. 

I’ve been a journalist and an award-winning music radio producer. I worked for about five minutes in PR. But I write the Drake and Crowley thriller series now, which is just as well because I love writing. It’s my dream job.

If you enjoyed His First Lie or It Was Her, do get in touch. There are plenty of ways to do it!  Facebook Twitter Instagram

 Interview with – M.K. Hill- The Bad Place

Is this story inspired by a real event or an imaginative creation?

The Bad Place is all made up! I’m afraid my mind tends towards the dark and twisted. I wanted to write about a group of characters who went through a very traumatic experience together and who came out the other side, but who may – or may not – be responsible for the death of one of their own.

This story is the first in your DI Sasha Dawson series, what characteristics are important to include to make your detective memorable? Do they need to be likeable too?

My first priority when I sat down to write The Bad Place was to make Sasha likeable. A lot of police novels make their protagonists interesting by giving them a dark secret or addictions, or to make them driven and obsessed, and I really wanted to write about someone who was just, you know – nice. I love a dark protag myself, I’ve got my own maverick detective in DI Ray Drake, who has so far appeared in my novels His First Lie and It Was Her. But I really wanted to go in the opposite direction with Sasha and make her optimistic, friendly and respected by her team. Of course, Sasha isn’t perfect, she’s often distracted by her chaotic home life and her timekeeping ain’t so good. But she’s quietly determined and wants the best for people, she’s someone you’d really want on your side in a fix. We’re all attracted to compelling characters, but I don’t think nice people in detective fiction have to be boring, and Sasha (I hope) is proof of that.

When you write, what comes first, the characters, the plot or the setting? Why do you think this is?

I think it’s a combination of both. You need a good hook for a book – adult survivors of an abduction fear the kidnappings have started again – but if you’re writing a series you also need a cast of recurring characters that people can get to know over time. And because Sasha has more of a sunny disposition, it felt right to place her in a sunny place, which is why she and her team solve crime on the Thames estuary. That part of Essex has huge potential for lots of crime fictiony fun. Sasha’s second investigation will feature my version of a certain TV reality show phenomenon…

What made you decide to become a writer and why does this genre appeal to you?

I love my life as an author and I wouldn’t change it for the world. I grew up reading genre fiction  – crime, fantasy and science-fiction – and always wanted to write a series of my own. It’s such a thrill – and frankly a relief – to be able to say I’ve delivered three crime books, with another one on the way. I write crime fiction because it’s the perfect way of setting a fire under the bottoms of my characters, getting them into massive trouble and then – sometimes, if they’re lucky – getting them out of it.

What sort of books do you enjoy reading and why?

I’ll read anything, really. I’ll always have a book or a device on me. I read a lot of crime, obviously, but I try to change it up. Recent reads include books by Lisa Jewell, Blake Crouch, Kate Atkinson, Rosie Walsh, Taylor Jenkins Reid and Jonathan Coe.

What’s the best thing about being a writer and the worst?

There are so many good things about being a writer. You can write what you want, where you want. You can drink a lot of coffee – the cafes in my local area have made a mint out of me. It’s fun and cathartic to send your characters to some very bad places. But you also have an important responsibility to your book. You carry it around in your head for a year or so, and at inopportune moments it will transmit to you from a deep place inside of you. And when it wants your attention, it will not be ignored, so prepared to get very distracted at all times of the day and night. In the middle of a conversation, say, or a movie or an important meeting.

Posted in Blog Tour, Book Review, Crime, Excerpt, Horror Fiction, Noir, Novella, Short stories, Suspense

Ryder On The Storm Ray Clark 4* #Review @T1LOM #LoveBooksTours @LoveBooksGroup #Supernatural #CrimeFiction #Novella #ShortStories #Excerpt #BlogTour #BookReview #bookbloggers

#RyderOnTheStorm

When builder Terry Johnson spots what he thinks is a bargain he can’t resist but to succumb to temptation. The large, detached house stands on the side of a railway track and would be perfect for his needs … and it’s cheap! 

But Billington Manor has a very tainted history, and the grounds upon which it stands were part of an unsolved murder back in the 1850s. Terry is about to discover that the road to hell is not always paved with good intentions.

Based upon a true incident, Ryder On The Storm is a stand-alone supernatural crime novella from the author of the IMP series, featuring desk sergeant Maurice Cragg.  

Amazon UK

Excerpt from Ryder OnThe Storm – Ray Clark

Terry slammed the door shut.

His head was all over the place, not to mention his stomach. If he’d eaten anything at all he was sure it would have reappeared. Pins and needles raced up and down both his arms.

What the fuck had he walked into? Was George a ghost? Was he being haunted? Is that what the Billingtons had been on about when they said “he’d” take care of the place. And who exactly were the Billingtons? What part did they play in it all?

Excerpt from Ryder OnThe Storm – Ray Clark.
#RyderOnTheStorm

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

My Thoughts…

The blurb for the first story in this book intrigued me. I like stories with a supernatural element. This story starts in the past with the discovery of a body. Then in the present day, a builder is viewing an old house with a view to redevelopment. The elderly couple are strange and the logistics of the sale is similarly odd, but the builder’s eyes are focused on profit.

What follows is suspenseful and dark. I read it through twice, and the second time it resonated. The twist of the story is a popular one, but it is effectively used here. The more you think about it, the darker it becomes.

The other three short stories feature the author’s characters from the IMP series, which I haven’t read. The first two are Agatha Christie-style murder mysteries. Each is prefaced with an author’s note detailing how the story came about. This has intrinsic interest and puts each short story in context. The stories are well-plotted with complex characters and decent twists. All have engaging settings. Each delivers a good murder-mystery, and police procedural genre story.

I enjoyed reading all of these stories, perhaps the last three short stories are my favourite, and make me want to read the IMP series.

#RayClark

The British Fantasy Society published Ray Clark’s first work in 1995 – Manitou Man: The World of Graham Masterton, was nominated for both the World and British Fantasy Awards. In 2009, Ray’s short story, Promises To Keep, made the final shortlist for the best short story award from The Tom Howard Foundation. Ray is based in Goole and has set his Gardener and Reilly crime series in nearby Leeds.