A mother who disappeared… When Beth was 10 years old, her beautiful, wild mother Alice walked out and never came back. Beth’s life since hasn’t always been smooth sailing, but now she is happy and settled, with a successful career, a loving family and a beautiful home.
An unexpected visitor… Then one day there’s a knock at the door. Alice has returned. Overjoyed to have the chance to rebuild their relationship, Beth invites her mother to move in.
A life that comes crashing down… At first, everything seems wonderful. But then Beth’s friends begin to drift away, strange things start to happen at home, and rumours begin to circle about her past. As the mysterious events around Beth become darker and more dangerous, she is forced to question everything. Is somebody in her life trying to destroy her happiness? And how far will they go?
A spiralling obsession. A missing wife. A terrifying secret. Will he find her before it’s too late? When Dr Jacob Boyce’s wife goes missing, the police put it down to a simple marital dispute. Jacob, however, fears something darker. Following her trail to Spain, he becomes convinced that Ella’s disappearance is tied to a mysterious painting whose hidden geometric and numerical riddles he’s been obsessively trying to solve for months. Obscure, hallucinogenic clues, and bizarre, larger-than-life characters, guide an increasingly unhinged Jacob through a nightmarish Spanish landscape to an art forger’s studio in Madrid, where he comes face-to-face with a centuries-old horror, and the terrifying, mind-bending, truth about his wife.
Tom Gillespie grew up in a small town just outside Glasgow. After completing a Masters in English at Glasgow University, he spent the next ten years pursuing a musical career as a singer/songwriter, playing, recording and touring the UK and Europe with his band. He now lives in Bath with his wife, daughter and hyper-neurotic cat, where he works at the university as an English lecturer. Tom writes long and short stories. His stories have appeared in many magazines, journals and e-zines. He is co-author of Glass Work Humans-an anthology of stories and poems, published by Valley Press.
Secrets can kill and Danni Brooks knows that better than anyone.
When her husband and two of her three children perish in a devastating house fire, Danni is sure it is arson. She’s even more sure that her and her eldest daughter Mia were meant to die in the fire too. But they are just a normal family. Who would want them dead?
Mia doesn’t talk. She can’t. She is locked in her own world where no one, not even her mother can reach her.
Desperate for answers, and convinced the truth might help her to reach her daughter, Danni tries to piece together the events leading up to that murderous night and uncover the arsonist. But with so many lies to untangle, what is the truth?
Prepare to have your breath taken away by an unforgettable twist that will leave you reeling…
I received a copy of this book from Boldwood Books via NetGalley in return for an honest review.
This is an excellent domestic noir with unreliable protagonists and a powerful plot that resonates.
Danni awakes in the middle of the night she hears the family dog barking and goes to investigate. The suspense begins from the first page and takes the reader in diverse directions most of them inconclusive. Danni witnesses the horrific devastation of her family by fire except for her eldest daughter. Superficially, the story follows Danni’s investigation into the arson that caused it.
The story is told mainly from Danni’s viewpoint, but two other viewpoints also tell their story. Nameless these characters keep their secrets until the end. This is a hard-hitting story with graphic images of abuse that evidence Danni’s motivation and state of mind. The well-paced plot is immersive, and twisty making this addictive and disturbing reading.
The Silent Daughter – Kirsty Ferguson – Extract
Danielle Brooks awoke with a start, the dankness seeping into her cold bones. She rolled over, pulling the blanket up around her chin, her shoulders chilly in the frigid room. While she loved it most of the time, sometimes she hated the old house, the creaking of the settling wood and pipes, the third stair that squeaked sharply every time you stood on it just right, the broken bathroom doorknob that her husband Joe had meant to fix but had never got around to.
Danni sighed. Joe, snoring loudly beside her, had woken her up again, just like he had every night for the better part of two decades. She untangled herself from the blanket and swung her legs out, wincing at the cold of the floorboards as she placed her bare feet on them while she felt around for her slippers. Danni fumbled for her dressing gown, eventually finding it at the foot of the bed. Shrugging herself into the voluminous gown, she knotted the tie to fit around her waist, pulling it tight. Wondering why it was so large on her, hanging from her delicate frame, she realised she had put on Joe’s by mistake. Too tired to find her own and open herself up to the cold again, she pulled the collar higher around her neck. Danni looked at the alarm clock resting on the bedside table, reminding her the dawn was still hours away.
Wearily pushing herself up from the old, sprung mattress, she slid her feet into her worn slippers, scrunching up her toes in the end, trying to magic warmth into them, the fluffy innersole long since gone.
Need another blanket. Too bloody cold in here.
Danni stumbled from the bed tiredly, yet walked without hesitation, knowing her way to the door having made her way over the floorboards hundreds of times in the darkness. She quietly went through the doorway, turning the knob and closing the door as she left. Her bladder was calling to her as she walked across the landing to the bathroom, leaving the door with the broken handle open a bit. If you closed it all the way, you became trapped in the bathroom until someone came to let you out. It happened to their son Noah more often than you’d think. Many a time Danni had found him, eyes filled with fresh tears, spent ones wetting his face, snot running down to his lip.
Danni would sit on the floor beside him and, as he crawled into her lap, she would wipe the tears from his five-year-old face. He would look up at her, love for her burning in his hazel eyes. He looked so much like his dad, with the same colour eyes and tanned skin. She would kiss the top of his head and mumble how much she loved him into his sweet-smelling hair. Her middle child Alexandra, big sister to Noah at nine and a half, would also rescue him. She never laughed at him, never made fun of him for forgetting and locking himself in again, or for crying.
Her oldest daughter, Mia, was almost a woman at seventeen years of age, as she was so fond of telling her father when he refused to let her do what she wanted. Dress how she wanted, go out with her best friend, stay up past her bedtime. Joe and Mia didn’t always get along and Danni found herself playing referee more than she’d like to. They seemed to constantly be at odds with each other these days. They used to be close, Joe and Mia, but in the last couple of months they had drifted from having a loving relationship to sometimes outright hostility from Mia and anger from Joe. Danni didn’t understand why, and when she broached it with Joe, he just gave her the old she’s a teenager line. It felt wrong, but Mia refused to talk to her about it too, so Danni had no choice but to watch them grow apart, saddened by the growing divide. Danni hadn’t thought about her for a long time but now, in the darkness of the home she shared with her family, the memories came rushing back. Beth, her tormentor, her abuser, her sister, flashed through her mind.
Kirsty Ferguson is a born and bred Australian. She writes crimes and mystery novels. Her stories center around strong women and dark themes that are topical and relevant to today. Kirsty chooses to deconstruct and enthrall her readers with the secrets of any everyday person behind closed doors. She has long been a lover or writing and reading, creating stories from a young age.
FIVE STRANGERS IN FLORENCE, EACH WITH A DANGEROUS SECRET. AND AN APOCALYPTIC FLOOD THREATENING TO REVEAL EVERYTHING.
A wife on the run, a student searching for stolen art, a cleaner who has lined more than his pockets, a policeman whose career is almost over, and a guest who should never have received a wedding invite. Five strangers, entangled in the forger’s wicked web, amidst Florence’s devastating flood of November 1966.
In a race against time, and desperate to save themselves and all they hold dear, will their secrets prove more treacherous than the ominous floodwaters swallowing the historic city?
Dive into a world of lies and deceit, where nothing is as it seems on the surface…
I received a copy of this book from the author in return for an honest review.
This is something a little different for readers weary of predictability.
Five seemingly unconnected individuals converge on Florence just before an epic flood in 1966. The river, given a complex character in this historical crime mystery, provides a dramatic and unpredictable ethos for this strange story to play out.
Each character has their own chapter, and the individual stories reveal their past and motivations for being in Florence. All have secrets and a sinister force is controlling their destiny like puppeteer manipulates marionettes.
This is a detailed story which has intrinsic interest and provides a tableau for the characters to fulfil their destiny whilst the impending doom of the flood hangs over them unnoticed but menacing.
If you are looking for something out of the ordinary which at times defies belief this is for you.
A full time author, Kirsten is a former customs officer and antiques dealer, and who has also dabbled in film and television.
Her historical time-slip series – The Old Curiosity Shop Series, has been described as ‘Time Travellers Wife meets Far Pavilions’, and ‘Antiques Roadshow gone viral’.
Kirsten released her bestselling gothic horror novel Painted in 2017, with her medical thriller – Doctor Perry, following in 2018.
Her latest thriller – The Forger and the Thief, is set in 1966 Florence, Italy, amidst the devastating floods. Kirsten lives in New Zealand with her husband, her daughters, two rescue cats.
Once, her heart was empty. Now it’s filled with ice…
Ellen’s therapist told her to forget the past, but the life she’s left with is boring. All she wants is to be happy and normal, but the approaching long bleak nights of winter loom heavy before her, especially as she’ll be alone.
But when the secrets her mother put in place to protect her are exposed, Ellen learns the frightening truth. Her history is darker than she imagined. She’s not who she thinks she is, and the real her is a very different person to the one that others have mistreated and exploited.
If there’s hope of a future, Ellen must find answers about the past, and the new Ellen is less forgiving. This winter, there will be more than just discontent, and DI Barton will struggle in his hardest case to date.
How can he find the truth when all the victims and witnesses are dead?
I received a copy of this book from Boldwood Books via NetGalley in return for an honest review.
The last book in the DI Barton trilogy but hopefully there will be more as it has refreshing originality. This story follows the dual person point of view of the previous books. There’s a unique insight into the killer’s past that leads to the current killing spree. The third-person perspective charts the police investigation that follows in the killer’s wake.
It’s difficult not to empathise with the antagonist who carries out some personally motivated vigilante killings. This is noir-crime that reveals the underbelly of society and its failings. DI Barton acts up to DCI after surviving a deadly attack in a previous case. The team dynamics are believable, and the personal aspects of the detectives’ lives add authenticity and balance to the crimes they investigate.
The plot is realistically paced and keeps its secrets until the end. This is a poignant crime story with a relatable investigation team.
I was crazy about him. I’d worn away Damon Albarn’s face on my Blur poster with kissing practice. As Carl opened the card that day, flames threatened to burst from my cheeks. All I’d written was, ‘To my Valentine’. He couldn’t have known I sent it, yet he immediately turned around and stared my way. He ripped the card to pieces and threw it in the air. The girls gasped, most of them, anyway, while the boys cheered.
Miss Diamond’s mouth opened and closed. She should have stopped there and then but something made her plough on; each new name another dagger driven into my unloved heart.
‘Sally Dawning.’ My best friend, sitting next to me.
And so on, with escalating cheers and boos echoing around the room. But the last letter was for me. ‘Ellen Toole.’
I couldn’t believe my good fortune, even though it was the smallest one by far. I turned to Sally, whose pudgy fingers were pressing her card to the desk as if it might float away. She smiled at me with genuine happiness. I suspected mine was from Sally, because I’d secretly sent hers. The room stilled while I opened my flimsy envelope with trembling fingers. The card had a single white rose on the cover, and I looked inside.
There was only one word in capitals. UGLY.
Ross Greenwood is the bestselling author of eight crime thrillers. Before becoming a full-time writer he was most recently a prison oﬃcer and so worked everyday with murderers, rapists and thieves for four years. He lives in Peterborough.
When DI Gus McGuire is called out to the murder of a pregnant woman, the crime scene tells him that this killer is not only taunting them … he’s also just getting started.
With ritualistic precision, the killer has placed a series of clues beneath the victim’s feet. Gus soon realises that these clues link back to his mother’s past as a child in foster care in Scotland.
When I am king, dilly dilly,
Troubled by his mum’s secrets, Gus is in a dark place. Side-lined from the main investigation, Gus works another murder, not realising that the two are linked and that the killer is closer than he realises … Dangerously close.
You shall be queen.
Then the killer begins to target people near to Gus. Angry and determined Gus races to unravel the past and catch this sadist before the loss is too much for him to bear. The seventh gripping thriller in the DI Gus McGuire series
I received a copy of this book from the author in return for an honest review.
This is a compelling noir crime read which explores contemporary and historical issues through the characters’ experience. A balance of police procedural, family drama and psychological suspense the story is intricate and intriguing.
The investigation team are diverse and full of authentic characteristics. DI Gus McGuire is an excellent lead detective he is driven and effective. There is a personal connection for DI McGuire in this story which forces him away from the front line initially to face painful family secrets.
The crimes committed in this story are grisly, and the antagonist intelligent, but lacking in humanity. Told from multi viewpoints they immerse the reader in the characters’ actions and emotions.
This story reads as a standalone for new readers of the series with enough character details to make them understandable and the team dynamics apparent.
Unbound Ties is a deep and haunting noir crime story which resonates.
Born in Scotland, Made in Bradford sums up Liz Mistry’s life. Over thirty years ago she moved from a small village in West Lothian to Yorkshire to get her teaching degree. Once here, Liz fell in love with three things; curries, the rich cultural diversity of the city … and her Indian husband (not necessarily in this order). Now thirty years, three children, two cats (Winky and Scumpy) and a huge extended family later, Liz uses her experiences of living and working in the inner city to flavour her writing. Her gritty crime fiction police procedural novels set in Bradford embrace the city she describes as ‘Warm, Rich and Fearless’ whilst exploring the darkness that lurks beneath.
Struggling with severe clinical depression and anxiety for a large number of years, Liz often includes mental health themes in her writing. She credits the MA in Creative Writing she took at Leeds Trinity University with helping her find a way of using her writing to navigate her ongoing mental health struggles. Being a debut novelist in her fifties was something Liz had only dreamed of and she counts herself lucky, whilst pinching herself regularly to make sure it’s all real. One of the nicest things about being a published author is chatting with and responding to readers’ feedback and Liz regularly does events at local libraries, universities, literature festivals and open mics. She also teaches creative writing too. Now, having nearly completed a PhD in Creative Writing focussing on ‘the absence of the teen voice in adult crime fiction’ and ‘why expansive narratives matter’, Liz is chock full of ideas to continue writing.
In her spare time, Liz loves pub quizzes (although she admits to being rubbish at them), dancing (she does a mean jig to Proud Mary – her opinion, not ratified by her family), visiting the varied Yorkshire landscape, with Robin Hoods Bay being one of her favourite coastal destinations, listening to music, reading and blogging about all things crime fiction on her blog, The Crime Warp.
Zoe fainted on her wedding day, and she never knew why. She’s always felt sure something bad happened. Ten years later, she’s going to find out what…
It was supposed to be the happiest day of her life. Zoe was sitting in her hotel room, in her perfect white dress, looking forward to the moment when she would make kind, handsome Toby her husband.
Then, there was a blank.
They said she must have fainted, overcome with emotion. But nothing felt quite right afterwards. Did something happen in that missing time?
Now, Toby and Zoe have two beautiful children and a perfect life. They’re planning their ten-year anniversary party for their family and friends. The invitations have been sent, the food ordered. They’re going back to the grand hotel where they got married.
But as the anniversary gets closer, it becomes clear not everyone is looking forward to celebrating. She catches Toby lying about where he’s been. One of her best friends seems to be ignoring her. And someone is spreading stories that might stop the party from happening at all.
Zoe is increasingly sure that she doesn’t have the full story. But does she want to know the truth, if it will destroy everything?
I received a copy of this book from Bookouture via NetGalley in return for an honest review.
The Wife is another edge of your seat, intriguing read from this author.
Zoe cannot remember part of her wedding day, it’s not bothered her unduly, but as she organises her tenth wedding celebration, her life starts to unravel, and she’s not sure why.
This is a family drama with touches of noir, especially as the plot reveals the true events surrounding Zoe’s memory loss. The clues are there, and I did work out part of the mystery, but this increased my enjoyment of the story.
The pacing is perfect, the characters layered and hiding secrets and the final revelations breathtaking.
One unsolved murder. A best friend determined to right the wrongs of the past.
On the 21st August Tabitha Rice disappeared without a trace. All the signs point to murder, but no signs point to a murderer. The easiest answer is her husband, Rick. But he protests his innocence and there is little proof he is the murderer.
Annabella knows there is more to the story than what the police are telling. Tabitha was her best friend and she vows to uncover the truth.
As Annabella delves further into the past, she uncovers sides to Tabitha that she never saw coming, and she finds herself asking the question… Was this murder? Or is there more to Tabitha Rice’s story than meets the eye?
Guest Post Naomi Joy -The inspiration behind Do Her No Harm
My novel Do Her No Harm – a play on the Hippocratic oath declaration Primum non nocere, ‘first, do no harm’ – was inspired by the current state of the non-surgical cosmetics industry in Britain. It’s not very well known, and it certainly surprised me, that in the UK, it is legal for procedures like Botox and dermal fillers to be injected by anyone, regardless of their training or experience.
I was equally stunned to find out that Botulinum toxin – Botox – is the most poisonous biological substance known to humankind – a couple of teaspoons would be enough to kill everyone in the UK – and yet it is so routinely used in an industry that is not currently well regulated.
The industry has seen a boom in recent years thanks, in part, to Instagram. The perfect pouts and filtered faces created in clinics across the country have led an increasing number of people to seek out cheap cosmetic surgery in order to emulate what they see on the platform. As a result, an increasing number are suffering the serious consequences of being injected by untrained and unprofessional individuals. In 2018, Save Face, a national register of accredited practitioners, received a whopping 934 complaints from patients regarding unregistered practitioners.
Another documentary, The Botox Bust, took this one step further and found beauticians across the country happy to give Botox to an undercover reporter without a valid prescription, and a struck-off doctor supplying Botox over the phone. The BBC’s One Show found that 17 out of 23 providers visited were happy to offer lip fillers to a 15-year-old.
I found all of this fascinating and just knew I had to write about it. In Do Her No Harm we meet Annabella, an aesthetic nurse who uses these toxins every day. In fact, her entire personality has been shaped by cosmetic procedures, nipping and tucking each time she wants to reinvent herself. With the news that her best friend, Tabitha, is missing, Annabella’s life begins to spiral: her only focus finding out what happened to Tabitha and bringing her kidnapper to justice.
Naomi Joy is a pen name of a young PR professional who was formerly an account director at a prestigious PR firm in London. Writing from experience, she draws the reader in to the darker side of the uptown and glamorous, presenting realism that is life or death, unreliable and thrilling to page-turn.
I received a copy of this book from the author in return for an honest review.
This isn’t a traditional prison drama. It conveys the claustrophobia and menace of life behind bars but doesn’t rely on overt abuse, or violence to make this point. It ensures you concentrate on Tabitha’s desperate situation.
Tabitha is an unreliable protagonist she has mental health issues which may impair her memory recall and perception of events on that day. The supporting characters seen through Tabitha’s eyes are relatable and demonstrate how villages are often prone to gossip and sidelining individuals who don’t fit in. Tabitha engenders empathy. She is alone and initially confused, not knowing who to trust in a dangerous environment.
The story explores Tabitha’s momentous journey towards her trial and its outcome, believably whilst parts may seem unlikely the reader wants her to find justice. The courtroom parts of the story are enthralling, and Tabitha’s character development is most apparent here.
The outcome is a satisfying end to a suspenseful, often poignant story.
Listening to this story as an audiobook makes it easy to absorb and get to know the characters. The narration is clear, engaging, and the portrayal of the numerous characters excellent. This is an enjoyable, listening experience.
Film star Amelie Hart is the darling of the silver screen, appearing on the front pages of every newspaper. But at the peak of her fame she throws it all away for a regular guy with an ordinary job.
The gossip columns are aghast: what happened to the woman who turned heads wherever she went? Any hope the furore will die down are crushed when Amelie’s boyfriend Dave is arrested on charges of child sexual abuse.
Dave strongly asserts his innocence, and when Amelie refuses to denounce him, the press furore quickly turns into physical violence, and she has to flee the country.
While Dave is locked up with the most depraved men in the country and Amelie is hiding on the continent, Damaris, the victim at the centre of the story, is also isolated – a child trying to make sense of an adult world…
Breathtakingly brutal, dark and immensely moving, A Song of Isolation looks beneath the magpie glimmer of celebrity to uncover a sinister world dominated by greed and lies, and the unfathomable destruction of innocent lives… in an instant.
I received a copy of this book from Orenda Books in return for an honest review.
Whilst this is a contemporary, relevant subject, it’s not easy to read about, but this story captures the collateral damage of an allegation of this type with compelling sensitive writing. This story is multipoint of view and allows the reader insight into all sides of the accusation.
Believable characters are the heart of this story and draw the reader into a world of greed and immorality. All three protagonists have their lives devastated by manipulative individuals. The plot is intricate with flashbacks to illuminate the characters current actions and motivations. Integral to this twisty psychological suspense is the destruction of innocence and the callous disregard for others.
This is a compelling, thought-provoking read with a positive but realistic conclusion.
International bestseller Michael J. Malone, the critically acclaimed author of A Suitable Lie and House of Spines, returns with a powerful standalone thriller about secrets, celebrity, and greed.
Michael Malone is a prize-winning poet and author who was born and brought up in the heart of Burns’ country. He has published over 200 poems in literary magazines throughout the UK, including New Writing Scotland, Poetry Scotland and Markings.
Blood Tears, his bestselling debut novel won the Pitlochry Prize from the Scottish Association of Writers. His psychological thriller, A Suitable Lie, was a number-one bestseller, and the critically acclaimed House of Spines, After He Died and In the Absence of Miracles soon followed suit.
A former Regional Sales Manager (Faber &Faber) he has also worked as an IFA and a bookseller. Michael lives in Ayr.