Time’s running out for DCI Hunter.
His wife and child are missing, perhaps even dead. Unable to pursue those
responsible he’s transferred to the wild landscape of Cornwall where another
child has disappeared.
Alice Trevelyan’s father has his
own agenda and wants retribution for the loss of his little girl and metes out
his own violent justice.
Will Trevelyan help or hinder?
Hunter has to make his move if he
wants to save Starlight.
But can anyone in this remote location be trusted?
I received a copy of this book from the author in return for an honest review.
This story begins with a dead child on the beach, as many police procedurals do, but this story is dark, focusing on organised child abuse. There are two main protagonists, one is a war veteran, whose daughter is missing, he seeks and achieves a level of vigilante justice, which is graphically described. Hunter the Detective Chief Inspector, is a mysterious man. Who he is working for in not clear until the conclusion.
The story portrays the depravity and scope of organised child abuse well, and the ending reflects this. It is not an easy book to read. The graphic descriptions make this story slip into the horror fiction genre. The ethos of conspiracy and evil is clear from the outset.
The plot is good, but the frenetic pacing and execution make the characters hard to identify and keep track of. Clearly, this is purposeful, the author wants you to be confused, who is guilty? Who can you trust? Is the protection and safety of the children the primary aim of the protagonists?
The ending is well thought out and realistic.
A dramatic interpretation of contemporary evil, which leaves you with little hope for a society that doesn’t protect the innocent and vulnerable.
David Pipe was born in 1949 in a small Essex village. He attended a local grammar school, then the University of Hull where he took a B.Sc in chemistry. He worked in the pharmaceutical industry in England and South Africa before studying for a PhD in organic chemistry at Imperial College. After spells at universities in Geneva and Mulhouse he joined the oil industry in Germany where, aged 53, he gratefully took a redundancy package. Following a period of self-employment he wound down his business, eventually giving it up to scratch the writing itch which has produced Sacrificing Starlight, a timely reminder of the risks our children face and Henry’s Tale, where ghostwriting for his furry friend he describes the emotional growth of a puppy on the rollercoaster of life, compressed into a few weeks because puppies learn faster than their staff.
When he’s not writing David spends his time travelling, reading, swimming and jogging. He is married and lives in Hamburg with his wife and their Border terrier Henry. TwitterFacebook
In the sleepy town of Lost Maidens Loch, people sometimes disappear…
Down a quiet lane in town sits a little shop full of oddities you’d probably miss if you weren’t looking for it. This is Love’s Curiosities Inc., and its owner, Temerity Love, is sought by experts all over the world for her rare and magical gift: the ability to find lost things and learn their stories.
When Lost Maidens’ pretty local school teacher is found murdered by a poisoned cup of tea, a strange antique hand mirror is discovered nearby. Temerity – with the help of witchy sister Tilda, their cats Scylla and Charybdis and the lovingly eccentric local townspeople – is determined to divine the story behind the mirror and its part in Miss Molly Bayliss’ untimely death.
If only grumpy out-of-towner Angus Harley of Lost Maidens Police wasn’t on the scene. Temerity can’t solve the crime without him, but he’s distracting, and in more ways than one. Can this unconventional duo solve the most mysterious murder ever to blight Lost Maidens Loch before the killer strikes again?
I received a copy of this book from Bookouture via NetGalley in return for an honest review.
This story has all the ingredients for a perfect escape. Cozy mystery, with a touch of magic, and vividly created characters and setting. Set in a small town in the Scottish Highlands, the loch has a mystical significance, well understood by psychic Temerity, and her herbalist sister Tilda. Temerity’s gift manifested when her first love died tragically at the Loch, something she feels inherently guilty for. Both women feel tied to the small town and they are intrinsic to its wellbeing.
The villagers accept the women, although gossip has it that they are witches, with their two seemingly lazy cats and an opinionated parrot. Temerity’s give for psychometry, has proved useful to the police in the past, but the new officer in the town isn’t convinced. Maybe he’s worried about his secrets?
There is so much in this first book to absorb the reader and capture their interest. The setting is authentic and described so well that you can visualise it. The mystical ethos, and legend that surrounds it add to its appeal. The protagonists are complex characters full of flaws and hidden layers. Some of which, are revealed in this book. Some are hinted at, to be revealed later in the series? The small-town dynamic works, the sense of community and gossip is evident. The cast of characters colourful and mostly easy to like.
The magical, witchy element is the icing on the cake, not too far-fetched, but outer-worldly enough to appeal. The cozy mystery is cleverly plotted, with lots of suspects, a dastardly murder, and plenty of clues and misinformation, to engage those who enjoy this.
A brilliant start to what promises to be an enchanting series, with wide appeal because we all need a little magic in our lives.
I received a copy of this book from Aria via NetGalley in return for an honest review.
What appeals about this story is its commitment and honesty. Georgina is a relatable, remarkable, yet ruthless character, who you would want on your side. Her love for her family and friends shines through, even though she commits and sanctions unspeakable acts as the head of a south London crime gang in the 1930s.
When her newly acquired gangland empire is under threat from men who think she should know her place, she only has one response; be better than them, and fight back. She symbolises the female fight for equality. The crimes are gritty, but the story is one of family, and this is why the protagonists are likeable.
A clever plot with plenty of depth and hidden twists complements the complexcharacters well and makes this a page-turning chapter of a compelling crime series.
Guest Post – Sam Michaels- The Birth of a Ruthless Woman
was born and bred in London and then lived in Surrey, Kent and Hampshire before
moving to Spain four years ago. It was here that I found I had the time to take
up writing. So, after lots of encouragement from my husband and mum, I sat on
my sofa and penned my first novel, Trickster.
probably imagine that living in a sunny climate is inspirational and blissful
for a writer but I doubt it’s anything like you might picture. There’s no
sitting in the sun, sipping sangria and dipping in the pool. It’s impossible to
use my laptop outside because I can’t see the screen. So instead, I sit at my
new desk in my spare bedroom with a ceiling fan on and the shutters closed.
It’s so peaceful and this is where I wrote my second novel, Rivals, the follow
up to Trickster.
a series of five books has been such an interesting journey. Normally, after a
novel is completed and published, the author will leave the characters behind
and move on to the next story. But with mine, I’ve had the wonderful
opportunity to delve deep into Georgina’s Garrett’s life from birth, growing up
and into adulthood. When I’d finished Trickster and started writing Rivals, I
was so excited to meet Georgina again and couldn’t wait to move her character
on through her complex life.
came about as I was driving with my hubby. I remember turning to him and
saying, ‘Georgina Garrett, the birth of a ruthless woman.’ She started off as
just a short single scene in my head – A young woman, beautiful, tough and on
the wrong side of the law. I could see her eyes, hair and the shape of her
body. I knew when she was born and that she’d had many struggles to overcome.
In the scene, Georgina was dressed as a boy and was thieving with her father.
For the rest of the drive with hubby, I blurted out the whole story, from the
day WW1 was declared and the birth of Georgina until she came to rule the
streets of Battersea.
hubby was flabbergasted and so was I – Trickster just needed to be written now.
I began typing, I found Georgina’s character changed slightly. I gave her more
of a heart and made her more caring. After all, I wanted my potential readers
to love her as much as I did! And I found that once the book was finished, I
missed her. So I was keen to get on with writing Rivals and now I’m almost
finished writing the third in the series.
so much more for Georgina to yet experience – and I can’t wait to share it with
you in the coming books!
Sam Michaels lives in Spain with her family and a plethora of animals. Having been writing for years Trickster is her debut novel. FacebookTwitter
I received a copy of this book from Boldwood Books via NetGalley in return for an honest review.
This story begins so quietly, but the subtle suspense builds very quickly. A dramatic twist leaves the reader reeling. Totally addicted, you have to find out what happens next.
There is a psychological element to this story, but not in the traditionalsense., as there is no clear, unreliable protagonist. Rather, this is a fast-paced crime thriller, with a well-thought-out police procedural, and a disturbing, menacing ethos. Thecrimes are not graphically depicted, but are harrowing and resonate.
Jenna Morgan is a likeable detective, who engages with the reader. This crime is personal, you see her flaws and vulnerability seeping through her professional exterior. She’s easy to empathise you want her to have the outcome she seeks.
With an interesting team of detectives, that all have their own stories, this promises to be an absorbing series. The detective team is male-dominated, which may be authentic, but it would be good to see more women on the team in future stories.
The clues to finding the killer are hidden in plain sight, but knowing who increases the intensity. The ending is a pure adrenaline rush.
Diane Saxon previously wrote romantic fiction for the US market but has now turned to write psychological crime. The Keeper is her first novel in this genre and introduces series character DS Jemma Morgan. It will be published by Boldwood in October 2019. She is married to a retired policeman and lives in Shropshire.
extract from The Keeper – Diane saxon
Friday 26 October, 15:45 hrs
Felicity Morgan jammed her car into third gear and took the tight bend
down the hill to Coalbrookdale with fierce relish. ‘It’s not right! It’s just
not right. I’m twenty-four years old, for God’s sake, and still being told what
to do!’ She pounded the palm of her hand on the steering wheel and whipped
around another curve. ‘
‘Not even told.’ She glanced in the mirror, her gaze clashing with
Domino’s. ‘Nope, she didn’t even have the decency to speak to me.’ She floored
the accelerator and snapped out a feral grin as the car skimmed over the humps
in the narrow road.
‘She texted me. A freakin’ text!’ She shot Domino another quick glance
and took her foot from the accelerator as the car flew under the disused
railway bridge, past the entrance to Enginuity, one of the Ironbridge Gorge
Guilt nudged at her. ‘I know. I know, Domino. We’ve barely seen each
other since I moved in because of her shifts and my workday, but for God’s
sake. A text? Really? She must have been so peed off to send me a text. It’s her
version of not talking to me. She’s done it all our lives.’ Fliss blew out a
disgusted snort. ‘What the hell did you eat this time? Her bloody precious
steak? One of her fluffy pink slippers? Hah!’
She appealed in the mirror to her silent companion. ‘She said, “Don’t
forget to walk the dog.”’ She pressed her foot on the brake and came to a halt,
sliding the gears into neutral as the traffic lights halfway down the hill
changed to red. They always did for her. Every bloody time. With a rebellious
kick on the accelerator, Fliss revved the engine.
‘She called you a dog, Domino. She couldn’t even be bothered to write
your name.’ She stared at the big, gorgeous and demanding Dalmatian in her rear
view mirror. Her lips kicked up as a smile softened her voice. ‘How could I
possibly forget to walk you?’
An ancient Austin Allegro puttered through the narrow track towards her
just as the traffic lights turned to green on her side. ‘Bloody typical.’
Domino raised his head to stare with aloof disdain at the passing Allegro
and Fliss sighed as the driver’s wrinkled face, as ancient as the car, barely
emerged above the steering wheel. ‘There was only once, a few weeks ago, I
forgot to walk you. You’d have thought Jenna would have understood. I was
hung-over from my break-up drinking bout. You, my darling, were suffering the
consequences of a broken home.’ She let out a derisive snort as she put the car
into first gear and glided through the lights, back in control of both her
temper and her vehicle.
‘Not that you ever really liked Ed. You were just being empathetic. You
sensed my…’ she drew in a long breath through her nose, ‘… devastation. You
sympathised with me. How was I to know you’d eat your Aunty Jenna’s kitchen
cupboard doors off while I was sleeping?’ They still bore the deep gouged teeth
marks. ‘We didn’t have any choice but to move in with Jenna. We couldn’t stay
with him. He was too mean. He wanted me to get rid of you. Said it was him or
She flopped her head back on the headrest. Ed. The perfect gentleman,
tender, gentle, an absolute charmer. To the outside world. Insidious,
controlling arse to her. It had taken so long to realise his subtle intention
to separate her from her mother, her sister, eventually Domino. The slick
manoeuvres to keep her to himself. Unnoticed until her mother fell ill, when,
in a flash, it all became clear.
‘Poor Domino.’ She glanced in her mirror to share
the sympathy between herself and her dog as she slowed down to pass the
stunning Edwardian building she worked in on her right. Coalbrookdale and
Ironbridge School dated back more than two hundred years and had firmly
entrenched roots at the centre of the Industrial Revolution. With the imposing
cooling towers of the Ironbridge power station behind, they shared domination
of the skyline from that angle.
When the supposed suicide of
famous Scottish football coach Harry Nugent hits the headlines, the tabloids
are filled with tributes to a charitable pillar of the community that gave so
much back to sport and to those less fortunate.
But something isn’t right.
Normally celebrities are queuing up to claim to have had a very special
relationship with the deceased, but investigative journalist Oonagh O’Neil is
getting the distinct impression that people are trying to distance themselves
Oonagh’s investigation leads her to uncover a heartbreakingly haunting cover-up that chills her to the core… and places her in mortal danger from those willing to protect their sadistic and dark secrets at any cost…
I received a copy of this book from Aria via NetGalley in return for an honest review.
The third in the series of the investigative journalist, Oonagh O’Neil, novels, once again tackles a heinous crime that is currently topical. The grisly death of a high-profile football coach opens a dark and powerful web of lies and secrets that exist in plain sight, yet no one appears to care.
The appeal of this story is its authenticity and topicality. There is no gratuitous description in this story, but the themes are dark and hard to read about. The story follows Oonagh’s investigation into the football coach’s death, and what lies behind it. It leads her into some dark places, with frightened victims, and powerful culprits, who will stop at nothing to save themselves.
Oonagh is a clever and tenacious investigator, who uses her contacts ruthlessly, and her personal experiences to get to the truth. Her flaws and overuse of alcohol, make her relatable, and real, Given what she sees and experiences in the course of her investigations, it isn’t surprising she needs to forget sometimes.
The language and behaviour give the novel’s setting authenticity and the plot is cleverly twisted and layered with menace and suspense. The ending ties up the investigation well and concludes this disturbingly poignant story convincingly.
Author Interview -Theresa Talbot – The Quiet Ones
– Theresa Talbot
What are the inspirations behind your Oonagh O’Neil series, and this story in particular?
All three of my Oonagh O’Neil books have been inspired by real-life events. As a journalist, I’m particularly interested in those crimes committed in plain sight – institutionalised crimes and injustices where often no-one will ever be convicted. The Lost Children was the first in the series and came about after research I was doing on the Magdalene Intuition – for those readers unfamiliar with the Magdalenes, there’s a wealth of information online. But they effectively were asylums to house so-called ‘fallen women’. I’d discovered there had been one in Glasgow and once I started digging, I was hooked and formed a crime novel around the circumstances surrounding its closure. Keeping Her Silent was inspired by the tainted blood scandal – again a google search will lead you down a wormhole which will shock you. I interviewed one of the victims and the story was the perfect backdrop for a crime novel. This latest, The Quiet Ones, came about after a chance meeting with a Glasgow Taxi driver who had been instrumental in the conviction of a football coach who had been abusing boys in his care. There’s nothing graphic in the novel – we all know how horrific such cases are – rather the story focuses on how a public figure can evade justice for so long. We only have to look at the likes of Jimmy Saville & Jeffrey Epstein to know that this is sadly a reality.
How did you create your Oonagh O’ Neil, investigative journalist character? Is she based on someone you know, an imaginative creation, or a little of both?
I’ve grown so fond of Oonagh. Given my background (I’m a freelance journalist with BBC Scotland) it was easy for me to create the character. She’s not based on me, but some people recognise certain traits and characteristics. I wanted to make her a real, flesh and blood character. She’s flawed, she gets things wrong, she’s a bit of a mess at times – but she has integrity and always fights for the underdog. Professionally she’s top of her game – personally, she’s a train-wreck. Too often we shy away from flawed female characters – but they exist in real life, and should exist on the page too. I named her after Charlie Chaplin’s last wife – the love of his life. He’s a hero of mine, so I stole her name and changed the spelling.
How do you make your characters believable?
I teach creative writing workshops and this is my favourite topic. Characters have to be allowed to have flaws and make mistakes. Also, they need to be on a journey, developing as the storyline progresses. How they deal with conflict is crucial – what’s their motivation? What’s the story BEHIND their motivation? And finally, give them a voice. Each character has to have a unique way of speaking. Read the dialogue aloud. Does it drive the story forward, does it fit with the character’s motivation? All of this will help shape your characters. I know some of the advice suggests know everything about your character – birthday, favourite colour, child-hood pet etc… I make it up as I go along.. but I know what drives Oonagh. I know what makes her tick. I know why she doesn’t suffer fools gladly, I know why she drinks too much and pushes the self-destruct button now and again. She has dark hair – I put that in the first novel, but other than that it doesn’t really matter what she looks like. The reader can decide that – that’s a personal thing between the reader and the character – it’s really none of my business.
When you write, what comes first, the characters, the plot or the setting? Why do you think this is?
For my first book, the character and the plot became intertwined very quickly. Initially, I suppose it was the seed of an idea surrounding a riot that closed the Magdalene asylum in Glasgow – then I had a female journalist investigate the story behind it. But the end story is nothing like what I imagined it to be. Now it’s the character – Once I had Oonagh as a fully formed character I had to find stories for her to investigate.
What made you decide to become a writer, and why does this genre appeal to you?
I’ve wanted to be a writer since my late teens. I came from a family of storytellers, and I love listening to stories and reading of course. As a journalist, I’ve written every day of my professional life for the past 25 years so moving into fiction was the best stage for me. Crime genre was I suppose the obvious one – most journalists turn to crime eventually!
What sort of books do you enjoy reading and why?
I love crime books, especially Scottish crime fiction – but they have to have well-developed characters and gripping storylines and be devoid of sexualised violence. I know sexual violence exists, but I abhor when violence is sexualised. I also love black humour, slice of life and uplit. Anne Tyler is an old favourite that I need to revisit. Rebecca by Daphne du Maurier is simply wonderful, and anything by George Orwell. I recently read Anne Griffin ‘When All Is Said.’ It’s her debut novel and beautifully written. I think my taste can be described as eclectic.
What are you currently writing?
I’m mortified to say I started three new books in one month – despite advice from other author friends not to! I still embarked on this utter madness until I realised I had to narrow it down. The other 2 have been put on ice for now, and I’m working on a standalone about a woman who was involved in a terrible accident and suffers from the most horrific survivor’s guilt. By the time you read this, I may have ditched that idea and resurrected the other 2 from the drawer!
Theresa Talbot is a freelance writer, journalist and radio presenter, perhaps best known as the voice of Traffic and Travel on BBC Radio Scotland and as the host of The Beechgrove Potting Shed. Prior to working with the BBC, she was with Radio Clyde and the AA Roadwatch team. Theresa worked in various roles before entering the media as an assistant in children’s homes, a Pepsi Challenge girl and a library assistant. She ended up at the BBC because of an eavesdropped conversation on a no.66 bus in Glasgow. Her passions include rescuing chickens, gardening, music and yoga. TwitterFacebook
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.
I received a copy of this book from the author in return for an honest review.
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,
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.
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.
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…
I received a copy of this book from HarperCollins UK – Harper Fiction via NetGalley in return for an honest review.
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.