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?
Ever-dogged Bergen PI Varg Veum has to dig deep into his own past as he investigates the murder of a former classmate. Eighth in an international-bestselling series of Nordic-Noir thrillers
When Bergen PI Varg Veum finds himself at the funeral of a former classmate on a sleet-grey December afternoon, he’s unexpectedly reunited with his old friend Jakob – guitarist of the once-famous 1960s rock band The Harpers – and his estranged wife, Rebecca, Veum’s first love. Their rekindled friendship is thrown into jeopardy by the discovery of a horrific murder, and Veum is forced to dig deep into his own adolescence and his darkest memories, to find a motive … and a killer.
Tense, vivid and deeply unsettling, Fallen Angels is the spellbinding, award-winning thriller that secured Gunnar Staalesen’s reputation as one of the world’s foremost crime writers.
I received a copy of this book from Orenda Books in return for an honest review.
I understand that this is the eight book in a long-running series, but this sees the private investigator Varg Veum as a younger man than some of the earlier books, in a story that delves into his past and shows how he became the man he is. So, in many ways, this is a good starting book for new readers like me. The story reads as a standalone and is true to the Nordic Noir genre.
The themes of good and evil and spirituality and sin underscore this story. It has noir themes which are disturbing to read but are essential to the character of the story. There is a murder mystery which has its roots in Varg’s past, which is described strikingly both in events and location.
The writing is immersive and vivid. The characters distinctive, but not likeable, which is often a given in this genre. It’s not an easy read, but it is insightful, and the Norwegian setting is of intrinsic interest too.
One of the fathers of Nordic Noir, Gunnar Staalesen was born in Bergen, Norway, in 1947. He made his debut at the age of twenty-two with Seasons of Innocence and in 1977 he published the first book in the Varg Veum series. He is the author of over twenty titles, which have been published in twenty-four countries and sold over four million copies.
Twelve film adaptations of his Varg Veum crime novels have appeared since 2007, starring the popular Norwegian actor Trond Espen Seim. Staalesen has won three Golden Pistols (including the Prize of Honour) and Where Roses Never Die won the 2017 Petrona Award for Nordic Crime Fiction and Big Sister was shortlisted in 2019.
An emotionally charged and captivating novel about the complexities of female friendship and motherhood, from the author of Manipulated Lives.
Lizzie Thomson has landed her first job as a music teacher, and after a whirlwind romance with Markus, the newlywed couple move into a beautiful new home in the outskirts of Edinburgh. Lizzie quickly befriends their neighbour Morag, an elderly, resourceful yet lonely widow, who’s own children rarely visit her. Everything seems perfect in Lizzie’s life until she finds out she is pregnant and her relationship with both Morag and Markus change beyond her control.
Can Lizzie really trust Morag and why is Markus keeping secrets from her?
In The Memories We Bury the author explores the dangerous bonds we can create with strangers and how past memories can cast long shadows over the present.
I received a copy of this book from the author in return for an honest review.
The sense that something is not right hits you from the reading the initial pages of this story. The author creates a claustrophobic ethos with undercurrents of menace as the two main characters share their stories.
Morag and Lizzie are unreliable protagonists. This is evident from the outset, but what the reader doesn’t know is which viewpoint is the least trustworthy. Morag and Lizzie are believable characters. Lizzie’s lack of nurture in childhood left her with low self-esteem and vulnerable to manipulation. Morag’s childhood was similarly lacking in parental care. The fallout from her childhood only manifested when she became a mother.
The disturbing elements and suspense build as the story progresses. Guessing the outcome, as I did, makes the story a satisfying read. Both characters engender empathy, but in addition to poignancy, this story has a distinct domestic noir theme which is disturbing and makes you think.
Helene Andrea Leuschel gained a Master in Journalism & Communication, which led to a career in radio and television in Brussels, London and Edinburgh. She later acquired a Master in Philosophy , specializing in the study of the mind.
Helene has a particular interest in emotional, psychological and social well-being and this led her to write her first book, Manipulated Lives, a collection of five fictional novellas, each highlighting the dangers of interacting with narcissists.
She lives with her husband and two children in Portugal.
I can’t forgive myself. Not after what I did. Could you?
This is Claudia Winters’s last chance for a fresh start. Changing her name and leaving her old life behind, she has fled to the small town of Kesterly with her mother and daughter. Here, she hopes they can be safe for the first time in years.
But the past can’t stay hidden forever. And even as Claudia makes new friends and builds a new life, she can’t help feeling it’s all about to catch up with her… Until one disastrous night changes everything forever.
Tense, emotional and gripping, Susan Lewis’s latest novel is a spellbinding story of love, family, and the price of forgiveness.
I received a copy of this book from Harper Fiction via NetGalley in return for an honest review.
This is a contemporary emotional story focusing on crime, domestic abuse, family and forgiveness. From the beginning, you aware that someone is seeking forgiveness, but alongside this runs the story of three women, a mother, daughter and grandmother who are seeking a new start. The connection, if any between the two stories, is not immediately apparent.
The characters, especially the female protagonists, are well written. The familial relationship is powerful. This is a story of forgiveness, healing and love. It demonstrates the importance of these in all relationships in a way that resonates.
Despite his actions, the antagonist draws reluctant empathy from the reader, which increases, as the story progresses. Not all the characters are likeable, but they are authentic and play their part, in this family drama with a moral dilemma.
This story is addictive and hard to put down. The protagonists are admirable and human.
Susan Lewis is the internationally bestselling author of over forty books across the genres of family drama, thriller, suspense and crime, including One Minute Later and Home Truths and My Lies, Your Lies. Susan’s novels have sold nearly three million copies in the UK alone. She is also the author of Just One More Day and One Day at a Time, the moving memoirs of her childhood in Bristol during the 1960s. Susan has previously worked as a secretary in news and current affairs before training as a production assistant working on light entertainment and drama. She’s lived in Hollywood and the South of France, but now resides in Gloucestershire with husband James, two stepsons and dogs.
Withholding the Key, Third and Final Book of With Emma Trilogy.
Will Emma unlock her heart and truly allow herself the happiness she deserves?
Emma Andrews finds herself and everyone she cares about within the walls of the penthouse. Only, this time, it was her who locked the door and threw away the key. Emma finds herself not only planning to take Jarret out for good, but trying to destroy his empire and all who are within it.
Jarret won’t know what hit him…
What Emma doesn’t expect is to see a face that before had only appeared in her dreams.
With Chance’s life holding on by a thread, Emma is pulled to him. Will he prove his love to her, allowing Emma to completely unlock her heart to him? Or, will the man that has taught her to accept her strength, be the man Emma finds her true-self in the bounds of his love…
There is one thing for certain, in order to take Jarret out, Emma will need to rely upon the bond formed from an unexpected friendship.
T. L. Mahrt is a former business owner, where she utilized her education in cosmetology, barbering, and massage therapy for several years. She was raised on and is currently living on a farm in Nebraska, where you can find her running barefoot in the countryside with her loving husband, inspiring children, and massive dogs.
After having her son, who was born with Cerebral Palsy and DYRK1A Syndrome, she made the life altering decision to stay home to care for her two children and pursue her love of writing. She has a passion for romance and poetry where her overactive imagination, along with her adventures and upbeat lifestyle drives her motivation for her writing.
T. L. Mahrt has a thirst for knowledge and is currently working on her Bachelor of Applied Science in Communication Studies degree.
Zoe Johnson spent most of her life living in the shadows, never drawing attention to herself, never investing in people or places. But when a wide-eyed, bedraggled teenager with no memory walks into the diner where Zoe works, everything changes. Now, against her better judgment, Zoe, who has been trying to outrun her own painful memories of the past, finds herself attempting to help a girl who doesn’t seem to have any past at all. The girl knows only one thing: she must reach a woman in Corpus Christi, Texas, hundreds of miles away, before the government agents who are searching for her catch up to them.
Award-winning author Rachelle Dekker throws you into the middle of the action and keeps the pressure on in this page-turning story that, asks Are we who the world says we are–or can we change our story and be something more?
I received a copy of this book from Revell in return for an honest review.
The action and suspense begin from the first pages, which set the scene for a fast-paced disturbing novel. The multi-viewpoint plot alternates between intimate insight and an omnipotent view of proceedings.
The plot is a fusion of conspiracy, crime, mystery and sci-fi delivering a compelling and unsettling thriller. Some of the concepts are familiar, but the author gives them an original slant and ramps up the suspense with a layered plot reveal.
Lucy and Zoe’s emotional and physical journey is conflicted and violent, but their friendship nurtures positive change in both. A satisfying ending leaves some questions unanswered.
Rachelle Dekker is the Christy Award-winning author of The Choosing, The Calling, and The Returning in the Seer series. The oldest daughter of New York Times bestselling author Ted Dekker and coauthor with him of The Girl behind the Red Rope, Rachelle was inspired early on to discover truth through the avenue of storytelling. She writes full-time from her home in Nashville, where she lives with her husband, Daniel, and their son, Jack. Connect with Rachelle at www.rachelledekker.com.
I received a copy of this book from the author via Helen Richardson PR in return for an honest review.
This story highlights the role of female spies in WW2. Their commitment and courage is something often overlooked, but many died in service of their country. This story parodies a well-known male fictitious spy as he finds himself in an uncomfortable alliance with a female spy who is everything he isn’t, but would like to be.
Lemming’s major contribution to the war effort appears to be working his way through the females who work alongside him until he meets his match in Margaux. She flatters his ego but makes him uneasy. When they meet again, he realises why.
Thrown in an uneasy alliance the unlikely couple travel to occupied France where Margaux shows Lemming what really happens behind enemy lines. Comically, and once you get to know him predictably, Lemming retreats into his vast imagination and rewrites the story covering himself in glory.
The immersive writing style and relatable characters draw the reader into the fictitious world from the start. Good use of sensory imagery brings the history and location vividly to life, so the reader feels they are on the mission too.
Humour and satire underpin this story making it an enjoyable read with characters, events and places that resonate.
Guest author Post – Stephen Clarke – The Spy Who Inspired Me
My new novel The Spy Who Inspired Me is a reaction against the old-fashioned Bond girl. The most Bond-girlish of them all, for me, is the dubiously named Pussy Galore in Goldfinger. In the original novel, she’s the feisty leader of a lesbian criminal gang, one of the key players in a plan to rob West Point. Then she meets 007, decides he’s cute, and suddenly she’s betraying her criminal chums and turning straight. It’s the same with the clairvoyant Solitaire in Live and Let Die – she sleeps with Bond (her first lover), loses her powers and becomes more or less enslaved to him.
The suggestion is that a woman will abandon all her ill-advised feminine foibles as soon as she meets a “real” man. It’s old-school gender nonsense.
This is why for The Spy Who Inspired Me, I decided to reverse the roles. The spy on the cover, Margaux Lynd, is a tough, highly-trained agent with plenty of mission experience. But when she lands in Occupied France in April 1944, she gets saddled with a scared, inexperienced, older male sidekick who just wants to go home to his clean shirts and his limitless supply of handmade cigarettes. The man is modelled on, but – for legal reasons mainly – not named after Bond’s creator, Ian Fleming. My character’s name is Ian Lemming. (You see, nothing at all like “Fleming”.)
The real Fleming was a suave playboy who spent most of the war in a comfortable Admiralty Office, a world away from the harsh everyday realities of spying. Meanwhile, dozens of women were being sent undercover into Occupied Europe. And they were the inspiration for Margaux Lynd. These real-life heroines joined up with the Resistance and acted as radio operators, go-betweens, recruiters and spies. Many were caught by the Gestapo, and then there was no Bond-like banter with their interrogator before a miraculous dash for freedom and a finale in a luxury bed. It was usually a short trip from the torture chamber to the firing squad.
Women agents were valued by the Allies because they exploited Nazi sexism – most Gestapo officers thought that German Frauen existed to breed Aryan babies, and found it hard to believe that a woman would do perilous “male” work like spying. In many ways, that is what Ian Lemming in The Spy Who Inspired Me believes, too. Only gradually does he come to respect, and then fear, the ruthless female secret agent he is forced to work with.
And as the two of them sneak across Occupied France and into Paris, Lemming begins to fantasize about a world in which a suave male spy would lord it over the ladies, while enjoying all the comforts he’s missing from back home – champagne, hot water, a change of underwear. As a reaction to the humiliations and deprivations he’s suffering, we sense that a macho superhero is being created in his head. And while Lemming fantasizes, his female mentor Margaux Lynd has to concentrate on completing her mission – and begging him never to attempt real undercover work ever again.
The Spy Who Inspired Me published on November 12 by pAf Books.
Stephen Clarke is the bestselling author of the Merde series of comedy novels (A Year in the Merde, Merde Actually, Dial M for Merde et al) which have been translated into more than 20 languages and sold more than a million copies worldwide.
Stephen Clarke has also written several serious-yet-humorous books on Anglo-French history, such as 1000 Years of Annoying the French (a UK number-one bestseller in both hardback and paperback), How the French Won Waterloo (or Think They Did), and The French Revolution & What Went Wrong. He lives in Paris.
Number 10 tells the spine tingling story of 16-year-old Gray Langtry, the daughter of the UK’s female prime minister, who is about to get in way over her head.
After a wild night with friends is splashed across the tabloids, Gray is grounded for two weeks at Number 10 Downing Street, no ifs no buts.
Left alone one night, with her mother at an important meeting, Gray discovers a secret network of government tunnels leading from 10 Downing Street to the Houses of Parliament and beyond. What starts as a bit of fun, suddenly gets serious, when Gray stumbles across a secret late night cabinet meeting and overhears what sounds like a Russian-led plot to kill her mother.
Wasting no time, she rushes back to inform her mother’s security detail, but with no proof of what she heard, no-one will believe a wayward teenager. Now, it’s up to Gray to break out of Number 10 and warn her mother before it’s too late.
With the help of her best friend Chloe and love interest Jake McIntyre – who just happens to be the son of the leader of the opposition – will she make it in time to save her mother? And what will she have to sacrifice in the process?
Number 10 is a Night School spin off series that sees CJ Daugherty back at her spine tingling best. Gripping, thrilling, and filled with intrigue, Number 10 explores the nexus of power in the UK from a teenager’s point of view.
I received a copy of this book from the author via Midas PR in return for an honest review.
This is sinister political thrills fused with the courageous, and naive perspective of a sixteen-year-old. Gray’s life as the Prime Minister’s daughter curbs her freedom. Rebellion is her only form of control, putting her on the media radar and in a dangerous spotlight.
Gray is an easy to like character, who draws the reader’s empathy. I understand the reason for the constraints on her life, but it’s hard not to sympathise with her point of view. There is a relatable dynamic between Gray and her mother, which draws the reader into the story. The security team are believable.
The plot is fast-paced and vibrant. The setting’s familiarity adds to the story’s authenticity and conspiracy theme. The sense of danger and the building suspense makes this a hard book to put down. The ending feels like the beginning of something new for Gray, but the undercurrents of menace remain.
C.J. Daugherty was 22 when she saw her first dead body. Although she’s now left the world of crime reporting she has never lost her fascination with what it is that drives some people to do awful things as well as the kind of people who will try to stop them. While working as a civil servant she visited No. 10 Downing Street and saw people disappearing into a small door with her own eyes – this became the inspiration for the novel Number 10.
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 25 languages and been bestsellers in multiple countries. She lives with her husband, the BAFTA nominated filmmaker, Jack Jewers.
One of the UK’s most critically acclaimed teen authors returns with a new novel set in the world of her hugely popular Night School series.
Still reeling from leading a disastrous raid, SO15 anti-terror officer Lisa Reid is grateful for an easy assignment this time out; identify and bring in a target thought to have information on a fugitive cell leader
There is no such thing as a routine job for Lisa though, and a devastating chain of events quickly plunges her, and her partner Will, into a dangerous game of cat and mouse with thousands of lives hanging in the balance
As the scale of the threat is revealed, and the body count starts to rise, the pair have to make choices that could cost their partnership, if not their lives. But one of them has a deadly agenda all of their own, and as the man that’s been pulling all the strings steps out of the shadows to choreograph his masterpiece, that could end up costing a lot more…..
I am a proud Dad to 4 strong and bright boys of whom I’m immensely proud. I live in Northamptonshire with my beautiful wife Lisa, the inspiration for the lead character in my first book Incognito.
In my day job I work in financial services, a ‘Fixer’ of sorts I deal with everything from phone routing through to in-depth data analysis and customer engagement strategy. Exciting I know!
It was on one of the more tedious commutes into central London that the kernel of an idea came to me. With some nurturing, this idea grew to become my first book, INCOGNITO.
I’ve always wanted to try my hand at writing. I always felt that I could do it and I’m not one to back away from anything so, once I had the idea formed, I took a week off work, locked myself out of the way of the kids and got to it. That was the base done, then it was just months of edits and re-edits, countless knock-backs from agents and publishers (rite of passage, I’m telling myself) and eventually I was happy to publish what you can see here.
I’ve learned more from self-publishing than I could’ve ever hoped, and the next books in this series, and the ones to follow that are already niggling at me, will be all the better for it.
I don’t expect my life to change as a result of writing my first book, but I love the idea of someone other than me enjoying something that I’ve created, and so far the reviews and feedback have been great.
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.