Posted in Book Review, Crime, Literary Fiction, Noir, Short stories

Two Lives Tales of Life, Love and Crime Stories from China. A Yi #Translator Alex Woodend 3* #Review @alexwoodend @flametreepress @AnneCater #RandomThingsTours #noir #CrimeFiction #China #Love #Life #ShortStories #TwoLivesStoriesFromChina #Secrets #BlogTour #BookReview

Seven stories, seven whispers into the ears of life: A Yi’s unexpected twists of crime burst from the everyday, with glimpses of romance distorted by the weaknesses of human motive. A Yi employs his forensic skills to offer a series of portraits of modern life, both uniquely Chinese, and universal in their themes. His years as a police officer serve him well as he teases the truth from simple observation, now brought into the English language in a masterful translation by Alex Woodend. The stories include Two Lives, Attic, Spring, Bach, Predator. 

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I received a copy of this book from Flame Tree Press in return for an honest review.

My Thoughts…

A collection of literary fiction short stories, set in China and translated from Chinese. The collection focuses on crime and darker aspects of life and love. The unique and well-written stories explore Chinese society and the complexity of its individuals.

Crime features in most of the stories. The author’s knowledge of forensic science colours many of the stories, which are often explicit and graphic. Descriptions of violence and its results make some of the stories closer to horror fiction, but the underlying theme is, what people as individuals and en masse are capable of, given the right provocation.

The stories give the reader a sense of life in China. Like all short stories, some are easier to relate to than others, but if you are looking for something different, and can accept graphic descriptions, this is worth reading.

A Yi (author) is a celebrated Chinese writer living in Beijing. He worked as a police officer before becoming editor-in- chief of Chutzpah, an avant garde literary magazine. He is the author of several collections of short stories and has published fiction in Granta and the Guardian. In 2010 he was shortlisted for the People’s Literature Top 20 Literary Giants of the Future. A Perfect Crime, his first book in English was published by Oneworld in 2015. He is noted for his unsentimental worldview, and challenging literary style.

Alex Woodend (Translator) is a writer/translator whose fascination with Spanish and Chinese began at Franklin & Marshall College. He continued his studies at Columbia University where he wrote his Masters on early post-Mao literature. Translator of The Captain Riley Adventures , Murder in Dragon City, and other works, he currently lives in New York.

Posted in Blog Tour, Book Review, Crime, International Thriller, Noir

Zodiac Anamaria lonescu 4* #Review @ami2ro @CorylusB @Lovebookgroup #Lovebookstours #BlogTour #BookReview #Noir #Thriller #CrimeFiction #Romania

When investigator Sergiu Manta is handed the investigation into a series of bizarre murders, he can’t sure what he’s getting involved in as he has to work with regular detective Marius Stanescu, who has his own suspicions about the biker he has been told to work with and wants to get to the truth. The twists and turns of their investigation take them from the city of Bucharest to the mountains of rural Romania, and back.

AmazonUK

I received a copy of this book from Corylus Books in exchange for an honest review.

My Thoughts…

I always enjoy reading translated books with their atmospheric settings. The cultural differences, add depth and interest to the story. This is a crime fiction book set in Romania, partly in the capital city Bucharest, and partly in the rural mountainous region. The investigative team are interesting characters, and despite their different ways of working, they prove to be effective. The second in the series, it reads well as a standalone, as I have not read book 1 yet.

The story’s dark crimes are balanced by the investigative team’s interactions, which add to the characters’ authenticity and charisma. The fast-paced plot flows well, making this an enjoyable crime novel to read.

AnaMaria Lonescu

Corylus Book is a new venture aiming to publish fiction translated into English. The people behind the company have very different backgrounds, but what brings us together is a deep appreciation of crime fiction and a strong interest in books from countries that so have been under-represented in English.

It took a while before it turned out that everyone’s thoughts had been on similar lines – that we wanted to take a chance on presenting some of the great European crime fiction that wouldn’t normally make its way into English. With a mixture of language, translation and other skills between the four of us, it seemed the logical next step to take.

The first Corylus books are a pair of Romanian crime novellas, Living Candles by Teodora Matei and Zodiac by Anamaria Ionescu.

There’s more to come in 2020 – starting with Romanian novelist’s Bogdan Teodorescu’s Sword, a powerful political thriller that has already been a bestseller in Romania and in its French translation. Sword will be available in May and will be followed later in the year by the first of two books by Icelandic crime writer Sólveig Pálsdóttir. The Fox will be available in the second half of this year, followed by Shackles in 2021.

And there’s more to come, with a novel by Bogdan Hrib set partly in Romania and partly in the north-east of England, a second novel from Teodora Matei, and we’re talking to more exciting writers from across Europe about what we can do together…

Posted in Author Interview, Blog Tour, Book Review, Crime, Domestic Thriller, Family Drama, Mystery, Noir, Suspense

For Better, For Worse, Jane Isaac 4* #Review @Aria_Fiction @JaneIsaacAuthor #DCBethChamberlain #CrimeFiction #PsychologicalThriller #FamilyDrama #Domestic #noir #FamilyLiaisonOfficer #Author #Interview #BlogTour #BookReview #PoliceProcedural

Stuart Ingram was once a respected local councillor…

The first time the police knocked on Gina’s door, they arrested her husband.

The second time, they accused him of child abuse.

But he died a guilty man.

This time, the police are here for Gina – to tell her that her husband is dead. Murdered, just two weeks before his trial.

Gina always stood by her husband. Even when everyone else walked away. She believed the trial would clear his name. But now Stuart is dead.

And his wife is the suspect.

It’s a race against time for DC Beth Chamberlain to uncover the truth – especially when a second man turns up dead.

Domestic noir meets police procedural in this pacy thriller.

Previously published as Presumed Guilty.

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

My Thoughts…

Beth Chamberlain is a likeable, realistic character. Dedicated to her career, despite the problems in her personal life. As a family liaison officer, she needs great people skills and well-disguised investigative talent. She is uniquely placed to discover family tensions, and gain the trust of the victims’ relatives and find out the true story.

A historical suicide, a deliberate hit and run, which results in a man’s death. Emotions and suspense build, as the investigation proceeds. Further crimes, throw up more questions, than answers. The relentless investigation, finally finds the answers, leading to a devastating conclusion.

The story explores the concept of trial by social media, and the consequences, both personal and establishment, of this contemporary trend. The wife of the murdered man, who has stood by him, shows her strength of character in the face of public antagonism, against her late husband and her family.

The connection between the various crimes is cleverly interwoven. The police investigation is authentically portrayed. The domestic noir and suspense build gradually, giving the plot added depth and adding the ending’s impact.

Dark crime, complex characters and relatable police investigation team, make this addictive reading. Looking forward to the next one.

Author Interview – Jane Issacs – ‘For Better For Worst’ Blog Tour

Thank you so much for inviting me onto your blog, Jane. I’m thrilled to be here!

Is there a particular event or person who inspired ‘For Better, For Worse’?

Ooh, I can’t say there was a particular event or person that inspired this story, more a combination of things I’ve read and watched in crime news and documentaries over the years. I was particularly struck with someone wrongly accused – or were they? Also, the challenge of being married to someone who holds a dark secret and when that secret is uncovered, the fallout of how they deal with it and ultimately how it affects the family unit.

The idea of a wife standing by her husband and the whole debate of did he/didn’t he seemed such an enticing project to work with.

 What comes first in your story creation process, character, plot or setting? Why do think this is?

I think it’s a combination of things that come in stages, like building blocks, and form the foundation of the story. Often one element influences another. For Better, For Worse is the second title in the DC Beth Chamberlain, Family Liaison Officer, series. Beth’s detective character and the setting of Northamptonshire were already established for the series, although I did have to research particular locations and site the new family. As the plot unravelled in my mind, I realised we needed another point of view in Gina Ingram (the councillor’s wife) and built her character into the story.

 Do you find dialogue easy to write? How do you create authentic-sounding dialogue in your novels?

I think dialogue can be very tricky to get right. I often imagine speaking it as I write and draft it without speech marks initially to avoid slowing myself down, then tidy it up later.

How do make you protagonists’ responses to a traumatic event believable?

Ooh, good question! Lots of research, talking to people who have been in the situation and reading in and around a similar event in the news or in books. Plus, I like to imagine myself in their shoes, if possible and see how I would react. Even after I’ve drafted a scene, I’ll come back to it and rewrite it several times before I’m completely happy.

Do you enjoy, or have time to read? What are your favourite genres?

Yes, I love to read and do so as much as I can. Crime fiction will always be my first love – I revel in the twists and turns of a good mystery, and love a page-turning psychological thriller. I recently read The Lying Room by Nicci French and couldn’t put it down!

That said, I do like to intersect my thrillers with other books. I’m currently reading The Secret Life of Bees by Sue Monk Kidd which is a beautifully written and uplifting literary novel.

Are there any other genres you would like to write in? If so, what are they, and why do they interest you?

I think the idea of creating your own fantasy world would be really interesting. I loved the Discworld novels by Terry Pratchett, though I’ve no plans to move at present!

Jane Isaac

Jane Isaac is married to a serving detective and they live in rural Northamptonshire UK with their daughter, and dog, Bollo. Jane loves to hear from readers and writers.

Sign up to her book club at http://eepurl.com/1a2uT for book recommendations and details of new releases, events and giveaways.

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Posted in Blog Tour, Book Review, Crime, Historical Crime Fiction, Murder Mystery, Mystery, Noir, Paranormal, Suspense, Travel

Death In The Sound Rhen Garland 5*#Review #TheVersipellisMysterySeries @RhenWitch #VictorianCrime #BlogTour #Book Review #HistoricalFiction #MurderMystery #Detective @rararesources #DeathInTheSound #RachelsRandomResources

The year is 1900, responding to a desperate plea from an old friend, Elliott, Giselle, and Thorne, accompanied by Veronique the Labrador, travel from England to New Zealand to unravel a new and complex mystery.

For his daughter’s twenty first birthday, Millionaire philanthropist Octavius Damant orchestrates a weekend party aboard the Taniwha, a luxurious paddle steamer moored in the primordial and isolated landscape of Milford Sound.

Several high society guests are invited to their remote home for the celebrations; Sir Wesley Eade, society lawyer and his beautiful but icy mistress Lady Leonora Carlton-Cayce, Dona Carla Riva, a flamboyant Brazilian dancer, and Carolyn Nolloth, O.D’s estranged sister-in-law who has a great love of other people’s money.

But O.D is the subject of persecution; a series of anonymous letters accuse him of past crimes and threaten the life of his daughter unless he gives in to their creator’s poisonous demands.

Elliott, Giselle, and Thorne discover the odds stacked against them when an unforeseen murder is committed, and they find themselves trapped aboard the Taniwha with a killer who will seemingly stop at nothing to achieve their ends.

As the body count rises, they must unravel the clues and piece together a devilish jigsaw that includes blackmail, extortion, desire, and the reappearance of the fabulous Larkspur Diamond, a gemstone with a past as murky and blood soaked as that of the relentless killer on board.

Set in the late Victorian era, with a touch of the odd, and a twist of the macabre, “Death in the Sound” continues the crime solving, paranormal escapades of Elliott Caine, Giselle Du’Lac, and Abernathy Thorne.

Book One, “A Portrait of Death” was released in 2018.

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

My Thoughts…

Book two, of the Versipellis Mysteries series, set predominantly in New Zealand is a late-Victorian murder mystery, with a supernatural twist. There are two prologues, one detailing a gruesome murder, the second, introducing a dark, evil supernatural element.

With a plan of the boat, at the beginning of the book, it reminds me of a Cluedo board. This murder mystery is a dark interpretation of the popular game with a paranormal twist.

The diverse investigating team, is well described, so it can be read as a standalone, but it’s so good, you’ll want to read them both.

Engaging action and lots of characters produce an absorbing, addictive story, with lots of false clues and plot twists. The writing is clear, using vivid imagery to describe the characters and setting.

Vibrant characters and dark deeds combine to produce a creepy, cleverly plotted murder mystery with exciting originality.

Rhen Garland lives in Somerset, England with her folk-singing, book-illustrating husband, approximately 4000 books, an equal number of ancient movies, and a large flock of stuffed sheep.

She enjoys the countryside, peace, and Prosecco and the works of Ngaio Marsh, Glady Mitchell, John Dickson Carr/Carter Dickson, Agatha Christie, and Terry Pratchett.

“I watch far too many old school murder mystery films, TV series, and 1980s action movies for it to be considered healthy.”

“A Portrait of Death” is a murder mystery thriller with paranormal touches set in late Victorian England and is the first book in the Versipellis Mysteries Series. “A Portrait of Death” was released in 2018.

“Death in the Sound” is a murder mystery thriller with paranormal touches set in late Victorian England and is the second book in the Versipellis Mysteries Series.

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Posted in Blog Tour, Book Review, Domestic Thriller, New Books, Noir, Paranormal, Psychological Thriller, Suspense

The Last Cuckoo Maria Frankland 4*#Review @writermaria_f #TheLastCuckoo #Ghost #Suspense #Parenting #Noir #PsychologicalSuspense #DomesticThriller #RandomThingsTours #BlogTour #BookReview @annecater

Do you listen to your mother? Even after she’s dead?
Anna Hardaker is following you …
This seemingly innocent Tweet fills Jamie Hardaker with confusion and fear. After all, his mother Anna has been dead for nearly three weeks.
What follows is an orchestrated Twitter campaign to lead those Anna loved, and didn’t love so much, to the truth behind her “accidental” death.

Amazon UK

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

My Thoughts…

Claustrophobic and toxic, a dark story about a fractured family. The story focuses on events after Anna’s accidental death. Sinister tweets cast doubt, on the circumstances surrounding Anna’s accident. There are also historical flashbacks of incidents within the family, before Anna’s demise.
The story is written from Jamie’s point of view, in the first person. This narrows the story’s perspective but gives it the depth of emotion and immediacy.

A fusion of family drama and psychological suspense, where Jamie is an unreliable protagonist. He feels isolated by his mother’s death, full of anger and grief. The cast of realistically flawed characters, all have their agendas. Jamie’s father is particularly objectionable.

The plot twists, the sinister twitter campaign escalates and Jamie’s behaviour becomes increasingly erratic. He talks to his mother, even thinks he sees her. A symptom of grief? Or something more disturbing?

Being inside Jamie’s mind is exhausting. The final twists, I guessed, but they are believable. They give the story a dark and tragic end.

An immersive domestic thriller that has disturbing realism.

Maria Frankland

Maria Frankland’s life began at 40 when she escaped an unhappy marriage and began making a living from her own writing and becoming a teacher of creative writing.

The rich tapestry of life with all its turbulent times has enabled her to pour experience, angst and lessons learned into the writing of her novels and poetry.

She recognises that the darkest places can exist within family relationships and this is reflected in the domestic thrillers she writes.

She is a ‘born ‘n’ bred’ Yorkshire woman, a mother of two and has recently found her own ‘happy ever after’ after marrying again.

Still in her forties, she is now going to dedicate the rest of her working life to writing books and inspiring other writers to also achieve their dreams too!

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Posted in Book Review, Crime, Noir

Why She Ran Geraldine Hogan 5*#Review @GerHogan @bookouture #CrimeFiction #DetectiveIrisLocke #IrishCrime #Mystery #Noir #BookReview #WhySheRan

Yesterday they were a family like any other…

Twenty-year-old Rachel McDermott was your typical girl-next-door. She loved her job as a nurse, was close to her family in the small Irish town of Corbally and seemed to have no enemies. So when she is brutally murdered, the local community reels in horror and Detective Iris Locke is put on the case.

The main suspect is her close friend, sixteen-year-old Eleanor Marshall, a tearaway teenager with addiction problems whose parents have long since turned their backs on her. Eleanor was last seen fleeing the scene where Rachel’s body was found and is now missing in the woods near the Comeragh mountains.

Eleanor’s sister Karena insists Eleanor wouldn’t have hurt her best friend, but a day later, when Karena is found dead in the area Eleanor is hiding, Iris knows things don’t look good for the runaway teen. She doesn’t want to believe that Eleanor is her sister’s killer, but all the evidence seems to point that way.

But Iris can’t let go of the elements of the case she doesn’t have answers for. The fact that Rachel’s father died in suspicious circumstances. The strange company that Rachel was keeping the night before she died. Was it guilt or fear that made Eleanor run? And can Iris find her before it is too late?

Amazon UK

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

My Thoughts…

More than a police procedural, the Detective Iris Locke series, gives the reader an insight into a darker side of Ireland. The rural landscape, the importance of community and family, are often portrayed as defining themes of Ireland. This series explores them from a different perspective, which is thought-provoking.

‘Why She Ran’, is a self-contained mystery and crime story, but Detective Iris Locke, the main protagonist, is recovering from a tragedy that makes her question everything about her life before it.
There is enough detail is in this second book, for the reader to form an opinion of Iris, and understand her motivations, but reading the first book in this series is the preferred option.

Irish is tasked with solving a particularly brutal murder. The prime suspect is on the run, but as Locke and her partner Slatterley investigate, they wonder if the obvious answer, is really what happened.

The plot is gently paced, there are twists and a surprising final twist. The clues are there for this solution but it is cleverly written. Character-driven, this story has complex authentic characters, who are relatable and in keeping with the setting. The story has a definite voice, which makes it unique in a popular genre. I look forward to the next book in this engagingly, dark crime series.

Posted in Book Review, Crime, Mystery, Noir, Psychological Thriller

I Will Make You Pay Teresa Driscoll 5*#Review @TeresaDriscoll @AmazonPub #Revenge #Secrets #Journalist #Investigator #Mystery #CrimeFiction #PsychologicalThriller #Stalker #BookReview

Every Wednesday, like clockwork, the terror returns.

It seems like an ordinary Wednesday, until the phone rings. A mysterious caller with a chilling threat. Journalist Alice Henderson hangs up, ready to dismiss it as a hoax against the newspaper. But the next Wednesday, the stalker makes another move—and it becomes clear that this is all about Alice.

Someone wants her to suffer, but for what? Her articles have made her a popular local champion—could it be her past rather than her work that’s put her life in danger? Alice is determined not to give in to fear, but with the police investigation at a dead end, her boyfriend insists on hiring private investigator Matthew Hill.

With every passing Wednesday, the warnings escalate until it’s not only Alice but also her family in the stalker’s sights. As her tormentor closes in, can Alice uncover what she’s being punished for before the terrifying threats become an unthinkable reality?

Amazon UK

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

My Thoughts…

Authentic and addictive, this story explores what it’s like to be the focus of a stalker. The suspense builds from the first disturbing, unexpected contact and ends in a heart-pounding conclusion.

Alice, the journalist fulfils the role of an unreliable protagonist. She hates feeling vulnerable, not being able to live her life as she wants to. Her independence is gradually eroded. Her family is small but supportive and she is protective of them. The familial love is a strong theme of this story in both viewpoints portrayed. Alice has secrets, which are not immediately obvious but make her unreliable.

The character notated as ‘Him’, you presume is the antagonist. His story is poignant but increasingly menacing. Again familial love is a predominant theme, but here it takes a dark focus. The plot has many twists and viable suspects. Multiple plot strands, make the investigation complicated, for the police and the reader.

For those who have read the author’s previous book ‘The Promise’, Mathew Hill, the investigator is also a pivotal character in this story. His family life with wife Sally we first met in ‘The Promise’, and his lively daughter, provide light relief, in this often dark story.

This is a page-turning read. Alice is easy to empathise, and you feel her fear and frustration. The plot is relatable and clever, there are no loose ends, with it’s just ending. There is a poignant echo of the sad little boy you meet early in the story.