Grace, Meg and Daphne, all in their seventies, are minding their own business while enjoying a cup of tea in a café, when seventeen-year-old Nina stumbles in. She’s clearly distraught and running from someone, so the three women think nothing of hiding her when a suspicious-looking man starts asking if they’ve seen her.
Once alone, Nina tells the women a little of what she’s running from. The need to protect her is immediate, and Grace, Meg and Daphne vow to do just this. But how? They soon realise there really is only one answer: murder.
And so begins the tale of the three most unlikely murderers-in-the-making, and may hell protect anyone who underestimates them.
I received a copy of this book from HQ via NetGalley in return for an honest review.
This story contains a powerful commentary on society’s view of older women and young women who are let down by those who should care for them. The issues are disturbing, but whilst the reader is provoked to think about them, it’s delivered in an engaging way that resonates.
The story follows the lives of three women in their seventies and a young woman of seventeen. They are virtually strangers, but a fatalistic meeting draws them together into a world of darkness and depravity. The women have secrets that are revealed to each other and the reader as the story progresses. They are not what they outwardly seem, an important point this story explores for all the women. All have courage and hidden strengths that help secure safety for the vulnerable young woman who asks for their help.
The thriller is well-written with twists and is full of satirical noir humour, but it’s the believable characters, their brave actions and poignant stories that make this such a good read.
At once a startling, tense psychological thriller, and a sophisticated and twisty police procedural from a rising star in Icelandic literature
When single mother Maríanna disappears from her home, leaving an apologetic note on the kitchen table, it is assumed that she’s taken her own life – until her body is found on the Grábrók lava fields seven months later, clearly the victim of murder. Her neglected fifteen-year-old daughter Hekla has been placed in foster care, but is her perfect new life hiding something sinister?
Fifteen years earlier, a desperate new mother lies in a maternity ward, unable to look at her own child, the start of an odd and broken relationship that leads to tragedy.
Police officer Elma and her colleagues take on the case, which becomes increasingly complex, as the list of suspects grows ever longer and new light is shed on Maríanna’s past – and the childhood of a girl who never was like the others…
I received a copy of this book from Orenda Books in return for an honest review.
The second in the Forbidden Iceland series is a multi-layered plot with clever twists and believably crafted characters. Chilling, compelling and complex, it keeps the reader engaged. An absorbing balance of psychological suspense and police procedural, the Icelandic setting reflects the story’s noir ethos. The reader gets to know the investigation team and what motivates them. This is an emotional, poignant and thought-provoking story.
Born in Akranes in 1988, Eva Björg Ægisdóttir studied for an MSc in globalisation in Norway before returning to Iceland and deciding to write a novel – something she had wanted to do since she won a short-story competition at the age of fifteen.
After nine months combining her writing with work as a stewardess and caring for her children, Eva finished The Creak on the Stairs. It was published in 2018, and became a bestseller in Iceland. It also went on to win the Blackbird Award, a prize set up by Yrsa Sigurðardóttir and Ragnar Jónasson to encourage new Icelandic crime writers. It was published in English by Orenda Books in 2020.
Eva lives in Reykjavík with her husband and three children and is currently working on the third book in the Forbidden Iceland series.
Published by Head of Zeus 8th July 2021 | Paperback Currently £7.19
Ambition can be deadly…
Ruthless Women takes readers on a wild ride behind the scenes of beloved TV drama Falcon Bay, beamed globally to millions three days a week from its picturesque location in the Channel Islands. But even in this beautiful coastal spot, tensions swirl. Once one of the world’s most popular soap operas, but now with ratings and syndication at an all-time low, the production has been sold to an American business woman, beautiful and malevolent Madeline Kane, the new network owner who arrives on the tiny island just off Jersey, determined to do whatever it takes to get the show back to number one.
Writer Farrah, star Catherine and producer Amanda are the driven, ambitious women who keep the show on the road. But Farrah is losing episodes to the network’s lead male rival, Catherine is terrified of the public falling out of love with her and Amanda’s evil husband Jake, vice president of the network, is plotting to get his own wife kicked off the show.
As the dawn of a new era begins, cast and crew turn against each other with loyalty, decency, and trust, replaced by scandal, betrayal, and an outrageous ambition to survive.
In a true battle of the sexes, these women will do anything to stay on top. But can they team up to bring down their male rivals? Or will jealousy, betrayal and revenge tear their long held friendships apart?
As the story reaches a climax so shocking readers will be talking about it for decades, one thing is certain: only the most ruthless woman will survive…
Over 25 million people in the UK watch soaps a week and now they’ll get a true glimpse of what really goes on behind the scenes of TV’s most popular shows, and examples of the desperate trade off’s their beloved leading ladies go through to survive the very game they are in. Ruthless Women shows that what takes place behind the cameras is way more juicy than on….
Even the actresses, who Melanie was worried would be angry about what she’s written, are raving about Ruthless Women too. Well, some of them are….
I received a copy of this book from Head of Zeus via Midas PR in return for an honest review.
Scandalous, sexy thrillers based on real experiences and personalities are always addictive. Ruthless Women’s vibrant characters and vivid scenarios make guessing the inspiration behind them a must. The abuse of authority and prejudice are relatable, and the intelligent way the women fight against them believable. The female characters are flawed but easy to empathise. Hidden agendas and twists make this an intriguing read.
Scandal, secrets and sex underpin the story of a ruthless boss determined to make a once top-rated show great again. The dynamic between Farrah, Catherine, Amanda and Sheena is insightful and the force behind the story. It is both their strength and weakness, which Madeline exploits to her advantage.
This story has a poignant side which gives it depth and immerses the reader into the characters lives. The noir world simmering below the surface of television’s glamorous facade is the perfect setting for this story of ambition, friendship, revenge and scandal.
The suspense builds coupled with striking sensory imagery, as the story develops and the final chapters are full of twists, with a climactic ending.
I can’t wait for the next book.
At 15 Melanie Blake dreamed of being a writer, but was told by her English teacher that the only thing she’d ever write were labels for factory boxes. Severely dyslexic, and desperate to escape a childhood of poverty and religious extremism in Stockport, she left school with no qualifications and ran away from home.
Against all odds, Melanie managed to blag her way onto the lowest rung of the showbiz ladders, working as an extra on Emmerdale, Coronation Street and Eastenders and a camera assistant on Top Of The Pops. It was during this time that she got her first big break aged 21, when soap icon Claire King chose Melanie to be her agent. Her agency was an immediate success, and she would go on to represent the likes of Patsy Kensit, Michelle Collins, Stephanie Beacham, Emily Lloyd, Denise Welch, Jennie McAlpine, Laila Morse, Daniella Westbrook, Amanda Barrie, Gillian Taylforth and Nadia Sawalha; earning herself the tag ‘Queen of Soaps’.
Melanie wrote her first book The Thunder Girls when she was working in the music industry as a young woman. She was told no one wanted to read a book about middle aged female singers on a comeback tour and so it wasn’t until 2019, twenty years after she first put pen to paper, that The Thunder Girls was finally published by Pan Macmillan, becoming an Amazon number one bestseller. She adapted it for the stage herself and it went on to break box office records for a new work at the prestigious Lowry Theatre.
Her second novel, Ruthless Women has been an even bigger success, going straight into the Sunday Times hardback fiction chart at number four, staying in the top ten for a month, and also charting in Australia, Canada and New Zealand, as well as foreign language translation rights being picked up by Russia, Romania and Hungary; meaning Melanie Blake is going global. Ruthless Women is inspired by Melanie’s behind-the-scenes knowledge of British soap operas. In the UK alone, over 25 million people a week currently tune in to watch the very stars Melanie represents in their globally syndicated shows. They say write about what you know, and in Ruthless Women, Melanie certainly has.
Melanie still represents some of the best-known faces on British television but is also now enjoying success in her own right as a columnist, producer, author and playwright. She lives in London and is available for interview and to write features, and this woman has got a lot of stories!
I received a copy of this book from Aria Fiction via NetGalley in return for an honest review.
This is powerful psychological suspense with authentic characters and a compelling investigation that is addictive reading. Freya finds out her previously unknown father is in prison and possibly a notorious killer. She is determined to discover the truth. What follows is a true-crime investigation with two unlikely detectives and some grisly discoveries. Some of the descriptions are graphic but are integral to the twisty plot and impactful ending.
Pat Black is kind to spiders.
He is the author of The Long Dark Road and the Amazon bestsellers, The Beach House and The Family.
His short stories have been shortlisted for awards including the Bridport Prize and the Bloody Scotland short story competition. He was also longlisted for the William Hazlitt essay prize.
He was named one of the winners of The Daily Telegraph’s Ghost Stories competition, and his work has been performed on stage in London by Liars’ League.
He lives in Yorkshire, but will always belong to Glasgow. He knows full well what your opinions are about people who talk about themselves in the third person.
Three youngsters, out for a good time. Vodka and the wrong sort of Coke. What could possibly go wrong?
When a young woman, Summer Raine, is found drowned, apparently accidentally, after an afternoon spent drinking on a boat on Ullswater, DCI Jude Satterthwaite is deeply concerned — more so when his boss refuses to let him investigate the matter any further to avoid compromising a fraud case.
But a sinister shadow lingers over the dale and one accidental death is followed by another and then by a violent murder. Jude’s life is complicated enough but the latest series of murders are personal to him as they involve his former partner, Becca Reid, who has family connections in the area. His determination to uncover the killer brings him into direct conflict with his boss — and ultimately places both him and his colleague and girlfriend, Ashleigh O’Halloran, in danger.
I received a copy of this book from the author in return for an honest review.
An engaging story with complex relationship dynamics and a Cumbrian setting. The police procedural is well-plotted with twists, misinformation and scenarios that cross the personal, professional divide. The relationships are complex but believable, with characters that give this traditional crime mystery its twenty-first-century edge.
The authentic Cumbrian setting demonstrates rural communities are as vulnerable to crime as their urban counterparts. Jude Satterthwaite is a well-developed character whose personal life often impinges on his professional life, making him enemies in the criminal world. The close-knit rural communities are well described, and the rugged beauty of the hills and lakes an added attraction for devotees of the area.
If you are looking for a new crime series with relatable characters and absorbing criminal investigations, this series is worth reading, and this book is the best one so far.
Jo Allen is the author of the successful DCI Satterthwaite series of detective novels set in and around the English Lake District, where she lives. 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. In common with all her favourite characters, she loves football (she’s a season ticket holder with her beloved Wolverhampton Wanderers) and cats.
Head back to school this September with the latest instalment of the UK’s most gripping boarding school series. Perfect for readers aged 13 and upwards Codename Firefly is a thrilling teen crime novel that tackles subjects including mental health and politics while also being an engaging and compelling read that teens will devour.
When Gray Langtree, the daughter of the UK Prime Minister, is moved to an elite boarding school for her own protection, she thinks she’ll finally be safe from both the press and the assassins who tried to kill her mother.
But Cimmeria Academy is no ordinary school. It allows no computers or phones. Its students are an odd mixture of the gifted, the tough and the privileged. And then there’s the secretive Night School, which only a select few students are invited to, and whose activities other students are forbidden even to watch.
Gray has a hard learning curve in front of her discovering who she can be friends with and who is not to be trusted. When the school grounds are broken into one night, Gray starts having panic attacks and the school begins to feel like a very dangerous place indeed.
Codename Firefly is the second book in a new Night School spin off series that sees CJ Daugherty back at her spine tingling best. Gripping, thrilling, and filled with intrigue, Codename Fireflyexplores the nexus of power in the UK from a teenager’s point of view.
A former crime reporter and accidental civil servant, C.J. Daugherty began writing the Night School series while working as a communications consultant for the Home Office. The young adult series was published by Little Brown and went on to sell over a million and a half copies worldwide. A web series inspired by the books clocked up well over a million views. In 2020, the books were optioned for television. She later wrote The Echo Killing series, published by St Martin’s Press, and co-wrote the fantasy series, The Secret Fire, with French author Carina Rosenfeld.
While working as a civil servant, she had meetings at Number 10 Downing Street, and saw people disappearing through a small door leading to a staircase heading below ground level. This visit became the inspiration for Number 10. FYI: She still doesn’t know if there are tunnels below Number 10. But she hopes there are.
Her books have been translated into 24 languages and been bestsellers in multiple countries. She lives with her husband, the BAFTA nominated filmmaker, Jack Jewers.
I received a copy of this book from Avon Books UK in return for an honest review.
The intensity of this twisty psychological suspense builds with every page turn. Then the secrets begin to unfold, and you can’t stop reading. You have to know, what next?
Told mainly from Beth and Tom’s viewpoints, this story gives the reader insight into the main players, but you’re never sure if they are truthful, and the mystery deepens. A well-written plot makes it easy to read. Beth is so shocked by the police investigation into her husband it’s hard not to empathise with her.
The suspense builds believably and relentlessly. With each revelation, another question is raised. The ending draws all the plot strands together with some notable twists that resonate.
We’re revealing the cover of a new gothic thriller called Whisper Cottage by Anne Wyn Clark
When Stina and Jack move to an old rural cottage, they’re hoping for a fresh start.
Their new home is run-down compared to their neighbour’s, but generous Mrs Barley quickly becomes a friend. Until Stina sees a mysterious figure in the widow’s garden, and her happy new life begins to unravel. And when she hears strange noises in the night, she is forced to question if Mrs Barley is what she seems.
Why do the other villagers whisper about her? Why is she so eager to help the couple? And what is she hiding in her picture-perfect home?
Leigh Fletcher: happily married stepmum to two gorgeous boys goes missing on Monday. Her husband Mark says he knows nothing of her whereabouts. She simply went to work and just never came home. Their family is shattered.
Kai Janssen: married to wealthy Dutch businessman, Daan, vanishes the same week. Kai left their luxurious penthouse and glamourous world without a backward glance. She seemingly evaporated into thin air. Daan is distraught.
DC Clements knows that people disappear all the time – far too frequently. Most run away from things, some run towards, others are taken but find their way back. A sad few never return. These two women are from very different worlds, their disappearances are unlikely to be connected. And yet, at a gut level, the DC believes they are.
How could these women walk away from their families, husbands and homes willingly? Clements is determined to unearth the truth, no matter how shocking and devastating it may be.
I received a copy of this book from HQ Stories in return for an honest review.
Compelling yet easy to read, this is addictive psychological suspense. There are elements of police procedural and a twisty mystery to solve. The character dynamics are relatable, and contemporary issues of raising teenagers, misogyny at work and missing persons are highlighted.
The story focuses on two missing persons, Leigh married to Mark with two sons, and Kai, who is married to Daan. Detailed characterisation and relationship dynamics in the early chapters make the shocks and twists impactful. The reader is invested in the characters even though not all are likeable.
The story is passionate, poignant, and often menacing, but it is always addictive reading. Whilst the ending may not be a total surprise if you follow the clues, it remains sinister, suspenseful, and ultimately shocking.
The perfect family. The perfect chance. The perfect lie.
A stunning novel about motherhood and betrayal
When Kate moves to London after the disappearance of her sister, she’s in need of a friend. A chance meeting leads Kate to Della, a life coach who runs support groups for young women, dubbed by Kate as ‘the Janes.’
Della takes a special interest in Kate, and Kate soon finds herself entangled in Della’s life – her house, her family, and her husband. It’s only when she realises that she’s in too deep that Della’s veneer begins to crumble, and the warnings from ‘the Janes’ begin to come true.
Why is Della so keen to keep Kate by her side? What does Kate have that Della might want? And what really lies beneath the surface of their friendship?
Kate trusts Della, and Della trusts Kate. Their downfall is each other.
I received a copy of this book from Harper Fiction via NetGalley in return for an honest review.
Relatable characters and a well thought out plot make this psychological suspense an absorbing, chilling and sometimes poignant story.
Kate’s sister left home when she was ten, and she never saw her again. She spent her subsequent years making up for her sister’s disappearance whilst never recovering emotionally from her loss. As an adult, Kate is in London pursuing a lead about her missing sister. She is vulnerable when she meets life coach Della, who draws her into her life like a spider capturing prey into their web.
The story takes many unexpected twists seen from Kate’s viewpoints but remains believable because of unreliable protagonist Kate’s sense of abandonment and susceptibility to manipulation. Themes of societal expectation of women, social class, family relationships, obsession and loss are recurrent. As the story progresses, the noir elements dominate, making it both addictive and disturbing to read.
The ending is impactful and offers hope and a sense of closure for both Kate and Della.