NO BODY. NO TRACE. NO CRIME? DETECTIVE SUPERINTENDENT ROY GRACE INVESTIGATES
Niall and Eden Paternoster start their Sunday the same way they always do – with a long drive, a visit to a country house and a quick stop at the local supermarket on the way home.
But this Sunday ends differently – because while Niall waits and waits in the car park for Eden to pick up supplies, Eden never returns. She’s not waiting for him at home, and none of their family or friends have heard from her.
Gone without a trace, Niall is arrested on suspicion of her murder. When DS Roy Grace is called in to investigate, it doesn’t take long to realize that nothing is quite as it seems – and this might be his most mysterious case yet . . .
Sunday Times number one bestseller Peter James returns with the latest installment in his award-winning Roy Grace novels – now a major TV series.
I received a copy of this book from Pan Macmillan via NetGalley in return for an honest review.
I enjoyed my first Roy Grace novel even though I haven’t read the previous books in the series. Roy Grace is an experienced, intelligent detective who treats the people he encounters with refreshing humanity.
The story has a believable team dynamic and relatable characters. The balance of investigation and personal life detail allows insight into the lives of the main characters. A suspicious missing person case comes to Grace’s attention. A complex and detailed investigation follows. An element of repetition is inevitable, as points of the investigation are retold to different investigators. This makes the pacing realistic and the investigation process authentic.
The plot twists are varied with emotional personal moments to ensure reader engagement until the climactic conclusion.
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.
I received a copy of this book from Avon Books UK in return for an honest review.
Paige, the British Sign Language interpreter, has important decisions to make about personal relationships in this story, which are sidelined when she receives a video call asking her to call 999. This dramatic start is the beginning of a twisty story with multiple layers. Paige takes on the mantle of amateur sleuth, putting herself at risk. Social worker Sasha is pivotal in this story, but she is manipulative, and secretive making Paige vulnerable.
The gentle pacing reflects the complexities of the investigation and the limitations Paige experiences as an amateur detective. The diverse characters are relatable, and the story reflects the communication problems and lack of understanding faced by the deaf community in an enlightening way.
Although readable as a standalone, this is a good series, and this book is more enjoyable if you have read them all.
I received a copy of this book from HQ via NetGalley in return for an honest review.
If you enjoy your crime fiction addictive and sinister, this book will keep your turning the pages. It involves a series of deadly games where every move has a consequence. The concepts of good and evil are explored, as the players are faced with moral dilemmas with life-changing results. The games are violent and vividly described but only to build the suspense and ethos of terror.
The reader gains insight into The Host’s mind and their pursuer DI Karen Holt, a suspended police officer who is still reeling emotionally from her latest case. Karen is a strong but unreliable protagonist and the best chance of catching The Host. This is a disturbing, immersive and shocking read, but it’s the question, what would you do in this situation? That resonates.
The intensity increases with each game, every outcome tinged with poignancy, until it reaches its climactic conclusion.
Every family has its secrets, and at Hedgehog Hollow there is no exception…
It was always Samantha’s dream to run her beautiful rescue centre, Hedgehog Hollow, full-time. But just as her wish comes true, she becomes a victim of her own kindness when she finds herself with a house full of guests – all with their own problems and secrets – looking to her for support.
When her self-absorbed cousin, Chloe, unexpectedly turns up at the farm – swiftly handing over her baby to Samantha to care for – trouble is definitely brewing. Especially as Chloe won’t tell anyone why she’s left her husband, James…
As Samantha juggles new hedgehog arrivals, family dramas and her own health challenges, it soon becomes clear that she needs to start putting herself first for once. Little does she know that life-changing secrets from the past are about to unravel and turn their lives upside down…
Return to glorious Hedgehog Hollow with top 10 bestseller Jessica Redland for a heartwarming, emotional but uplifting story of family, friendship and moving on from the past.
I received a copy of this book from Boldwood Books via NetGalley in return for an honest review.
This story has a serious focus and is full of family drama, which has emotional and physical consequences for lovely Samantha. Hedgehog Hollow is full of hedgehog residents, and Samantha’s house is full of humans who need emotional support from her. The story is a dual viewpoint of Samantha and her cousin Chloe. If you’ve read previous books in this series, you’ll know Chloe is not particularly likeable. This book explores her story and past secrets, which shed light on her attitude and motivations.
This is an emotional story, and it immerses the reader in the characters’ lives. Chloe’s insights make her more understandable, but she is still not my favourite person. Samantha is everyone’s friend, and whilst this is admirable, you want her to take care of herself too.
This is another absorbing instalment of life at Hedgehog Hollow with characters you are invested in and an enticing mix of humour, poignancy and romance.
Jessica Redland writes uplifting stories of love, friendship, family and community set in Yorkshire where she lives. Her Whitsborough Bay books transport readers to the stunning North Yorkshire Coast and her Hedgehog Hollow series takes them into beautiful countryside of the Yorkshire Wolds.
Extract from Family Secrets at Hedgehog Hollow – Jessica Redland
I sat on Thomas’s bench with a mug of tea in one hand, the other hand stroking Misty-Blue’s warm belly as she lay sprawled across my lap.
‘Listen to that,’ I said to her, cocking my head to one side. ‘Isn’t it so peaceful?’ The only sounds were the chirp of birds, the buzz of insects and Misty-Blue’s gentle purrs.
‘No babies crying for once,’ I added, not that I really minded. Archie and Lottie were adorable. Their parents, Paul and Beth, were also great house guests. They couldn’t have done more to help with the cooking and cleaning despite Beth still recovering from a near-fatal fall down the stairs at her flat and Paul, Josh’s dad, having Hodgkin lymphoma – a type of blood cancer.
Closing my eyes, I tilted my head back towards the sun. It was a bright, warm Sunday in the middle of June, so Paul and Beth had taken advantage of the gorgeous weather and driven Archie and Lottie to the coast. Josh – owner of Alderson & Son Veterinary Practice – had been called out to a goat emergency an hour ago so I was on my own at Hedgehog Hollow, enjoying a rare and precious moment of tranquillity.
After a few minutes, I opened my eyes and sipped contentedly on my tea. My heart fluttered as the diamonds on my engagement ring sparkled in the sun. We hadn’t made any plans for when we’d marry yet. It didn’t feel right to set the date until Paul had been through the next round of chemotherapy later this month and we were, of course, still hoping a stem cell donor would be found.
Everyone had been thrilled at the announcement of our engagement. We’d invited our closest family for afternoon tea last Sunday so we could share the news. After that I’d called my best friend Hannah, who excitedly squealed down the phone.
I tried my cousin Chloe next but she didn’t answer. Loyalty towards her after years of close friendship meant it didn’t feel right for her mum – my Auntie Louise – to hear first so I held off phoning her, trying Chloe repeatedly over the next few days but without success. On Thursday, fed up that messages to get in touch urgently had seemingly been ignored, I phoned Auntie Louise, who was also delighted. Then I texted Chloe:
* To Chloe
Josh asked me to marry him! I’m so excited. I’ve been trying to get hold of you all week as I ideally didn’t want to tell you my big news by text but you haven’t responded to my messages and I’m worried. I hope you’re okay. HOT TIP! There’s a woman on a farm in Huggleswick who is always here for you. You know where she is if you ever need her xxx
So far, she hadn’t responded and I was determined not to let it dampen my excitement. If Chloe had decided to have an epic strop, I wasn’t going to bend over backwards this time. I’d waved the white flag plenty of times and now it was her move.
I’d also sent a quick text to Mum:
* To Mum
I hope all’s well with you. Just letting you know that Josh asked me to marry him and I said yes. Not planning to set a date yet. Sam x
She hadn’t responded but I hadn’t expected her to, although I had hoped she might, even if it was just one word: ‘congratulations’. I wasn’t going to let her dampen my excitement, either.
Sun, sea and inescapable exes… Peach is excited to hear that her sister, Di, is getting married. Of course, she would have preferred her little sister to be engaged to someone she’s known longer than a week – and the fact that his name is Charles doesn’t bode well – but who is she to judge?! Afterall, her own love life is non-existent, and who doesn’t love a destination wedding…?
Whisked away to the gorgeous Italian coast, Peach assumes her role as chief bridesmaid and, despite her reservations about the groom, she tries to ensure everything goes to plan.
But weddings are never straightforward affairs… throw in some unexpected guests in the form of ex-boyfriends and one night stands, and soon enough there is more drama than a reality tv show.
Can Peach keep the show on the road, or might she end up in a whirlwind romance of her own…?
Escape to the stunning Italian coast with bestseller Portia MacIntosh.
I received a copy of this book from Boldwood Books via NetGalley in return for an honest review.
Penelope’s world is a non-stop rollercoaster of fun, misunderstandings and romance in a glamorous Italian island setting. Told from Penelope’s viewpoint, the reader experiences her self-deprecating humour and innermost emotions, which makes her easy to empathise with and like. Relatable characters enhance a plot that is full of secrets and twists.
It’s a perfect beach read addictive but lighthearted. Perfect for those of us who like our romance full of conflict, fun and passion.
Portia MacIntosh is a bestselling romantic comedy author of 16 novels, including The Plus One Pact and My Great Ex-Scape. Previously a music journalist, Portia writes hilarious stories, drawing on her real-life experiences.
Your wedding day is easily supposed to be one of the happiest days of your life – but if you want to make absolutely sure it is, you can always spend £2,500 on a horse-drawn Cinderella-style carriage.
‘It’s top of the range,’ the hotel wedding coordinator assures me. ‘It’s a gorgeous ivory fairy-tale pumpkin carriage, with a stunning white upholstery interior – it even has a little crown on top. It’s always in incredibly high demand.’
‘It sounds beautiful,’ I reply.
‘If you do decide to have your wedding here, we can make arrangements to suit your big day – whether you want picking up from home, taking to the church, or here if you would prefer one of our non-religious ceremonies, which I highly recommend. Churches can be so drab. Of course, there is an additional cost per mile, but we can get down to things like that later. Shall we head inside?’
Annette is the wedding coordinator at The Chadwick Hotel in York. We’re currently standing outside the five-star hotel, admiring the Grade II-listed building from the gravel pathway that leads up to it.
It’s a gorgeously warm sunny day. The kind where you can comfortably get away with wearing a strappy sundress, but not quite hot enough to leave you looking a mess – a few degrees hotter than this and my long, straight blonde hair would be half frizzy, half stuck to the sides of my face hair instead. Today is just perfect though, so it’s sundresses, sandals, straight hair and smear-free make-up.
‘Yes,’ I reply excitedly. ‘Let’s do it.’
‘So, the hotel has actually been open for more than a century. As you can see, it boasts an ornate terracotta façade, typical of high Victorian architecture, and the stone cupola makes for a stunning backdrop for outside photos.’
I smile and nod because, if I’m being honest, I have no idea what any of that means. It is a gorgeous old building though, surrounded by large gardens full of flowers, huge ponds with grand fountains at their heart, and trees in all directions. It’s hard to believe we’re so close to the city, and impossible not to get carried away, thinking about pulling up in front of the huge doors, having my photo taken with my dad, and then coming back out here after tying the knot to take gigabytes worth of photos with my future husband and everyone we love.
‘Beautiful,’ I say simply. There’s just no other word for it.
Once inside the large lobby, Annette picks up a wedding pack that’s waiting for me at reception, before leading me past the grand wooden staircase that sits in the centre of the room. I marvel at the spectacular light that hangs at the centre of the atrium, a large double drum chandelier suspended high above, captivating me so powerfully I nearly bump into a hotel employee coming the other way.
‘Oh my gosh, I’m so sorry,’ I blurt. ‘I was mesmerised.’
‘No worries,’ he says with a laugh.
Annette laughs gently.
‘You’d be surprised how often that happens,’ she reassures me. ‘Come, let me show you the function room.’
‘The function room’ sounds like a rather bland concept. Well, many places have a function room, from restaurants to town halls, so the only real expectation I have is space for tables. But this function room surely deserves a grander title, because it is everything. It’s maybe three times the height of a regular room, with enormous arch-shaped windows that flood the place with the most beautiful natural light.
You come to Soul Shrink to be healed. You don’t expect to die.
Two years ago, Fran’s sister Jenna disappeared on a wellness retreat in Gozo that went terribly wrong.
Tom Wade, the now infamous man behind Soul Shrink Retreats, has just been released from prison after serving his sentence for the deaths of 2 people. But he has never let on what happened to the third suspected victim: Jenna.
Determined to find out the truth, Fran books herself onto his upcoming retreat – the first since his release – and finds herself face to face with the man who might hold the key to her sister’s disappearance. The only question is, will she escape the retreat alive? Or does someone out there want Jenna’s secrets to stay hidden?
I received a copy of this book from Avon Books UK via NetGalley in return for an honest review.
Atmospheric, claustrophobic and intriguing best describe this psychological suspense told from three female viewpoints in dual timelines. Fran is seeking answers for her sister’s disappearance at a wellness retreat two years previously. The sisters are not close, Fran being much older, and the family dynamic comes across as toxic.
The story has many twists, and all the women have issues making them unreliable protagonists. The story’s lynchpin is Tom, the leader of the retreat who is multifaceted and keeps secrets. This is an addictive book with mostly unlikeable characters, but this doesn’t stop it from being an enjoyable read that keeps the reader’s attention with its well-paced reveals and unexpected conclusion.
Photographer Gianna is done with men. Retreating to her villa on the shore of Lake Como… she is stunned to find gorgeous Dario renting her house! When Dario is mistaken for her long-gone fiancé, they realise a fake engagement could solve problems for them both. Pretending to be in love should be easy, but what happens when very real feelings start to grow?
I received a copy of this book from Mills and Boon via NetGalley in return for an honest review.
A lovely romantic story where the couple’s slow-burn attraction deepens into an emotional commitment. The fake engagement trope is well-written with plenty of internal conflicts. The family interference which affects the couple is believable and adds additional external conflicts for their happy ever after.
Gianna and Dario are easy to like you empathise with their problems, which are convincingly written. Tito, the dog, is an engaging character who initiates their first encounter and proves to be a redoubtable matchmaker.
This is a gentle romantic story full of emotion and humour.
With its sweeping sandy beaches and rolling emerald hills, the island of St. Morwenna is an idyllic escape. But behind the perfectly pruned primroses and neighborly smiles a killer lies in wait…
When librarian Jemima Jago is offered the opportunity to catalogue Cornwall’s largest collection of antique shipwreck records it is a dream come true. The only problem? The collection is housed on the island of St. Morwenna, the childhood home she left years ago and vowed never to return to.
Shortly after Jem arrives back in town, island busybody and notorious grump Edith Reddy is found dead, with duct tape clamped over her mouth and nose. Jem, caught seemingly red-handed at the scene of the crime, mistakenly becomes the police’s number one suspect. The handsome Sergeant Hackman in particular can’t seem to leave Jem alone…
Jem must take matters into her own hands if she wants to clear her name. Snooping around Edith’s once-grand home, she is struck by the mess before her. The bedroom is completely ransacked and in the living room all the photographs have been removed from their frames. Was Edith’s death simply a break-in gone wrong, or is there more to the mystery that the police are missing?
Jem has a sharp eye for a clue and she soon realizes that many of the island’s eccentric residents had reason for wanting Edith out of the way. Could Declan, the curious café owner, or Bart, the fishy ferryman have killed Edith? Jem won’t rest until she uncovers the truth, but doing so will put her right in the killer’s line of sight…
A totally charming cozy mystery from the New York Times and USA Today bestselling author Emma Jameson. Brimming with intrigue and warm humor,
I received a copy of this book from Bookouture via NetGalley in return for an honest review.
This is a likeable murder mystery set on a fictional island in the Scilly Isles. Jemima Jago is a complex and flawed character who carries emotional damage from her previous time on the island where she now finds herself. Now a respectable librarian, she is hired to catalogue a library of rare local artefacts donated by a childhood friend still living on the island. Emotionally she is wary of returning, but the job is too good to surpass.
Her meeting with the nemesis who made her teenage years so difficult is not what she expected, but she still ends up looking guilty. Determined to face her past demons and clear her name, she becomes an amateur sleuth in a bid to find the culprit.
This is an intriguing murder mystery with an edgy main protagonist who appears to revert to her teenage persona when she encounters people from her past. She is likeable once you appreciate why she is so prickly. New friendships and possible romantic entanglements add authenticity and depth to this story. The islanders are quirky characters. There are numerous suspects, twists and a satisfying and suspenseful resolution.
There’s someone out there for everyone… you just need to know where to look…
All NEW from bestselling author Della Galton.
Unlucky in love Poppy Allen is the producer of a brand-new TV show, ‘Date for a Day’ – think ‘Take Me Out’ meets ‘It’s a Knockout’!
Lovelorn contestants must perform a series of seaside challenges to win the hand of the starring lady and a ‘Date for a Day’.
Left heartbroken when Stephen, her childhood sweetheart eloped with her best friend on her hen night – Poppy has no plans to risk her own heart again. Besides, she’s far too busy filming contestants against the backdrop of the beautiful Bluebell Cliff Hotel and the stunning Jurassic Dorset coastline.
However, when sabotage on set threatens to stop shooting, Poppy discovers soulmates can be found in the most unexpected places…
I received a copy of this book from Boldwood Books via NetGalley in return for an honest review.
Set on the Dorset coast, this book focuses on Poppy, a film producer and a pilot for a reality TV dating show. This is topical contemporary fiction, and whilst I am not a fan of reality TV, going behind the scenes with Poppy and her film crew makes this absorbing reading.
Poppy is career orientated after being practically jilted at the altar. She has a supportive family who we discover lots about and good work friends, particularly Dave, her camera director. At the heart of this story is a lovely gentle friends-to-lovers romance that is heartwarming. There is also plenty of family drama which adds to the story and shows what a loving and loyal person Poppy is. The filming of the pilot of the Dating reality show is interesting full of humour and conflict, which adds authenticity to the story. The setting at Bluebell cliff brings cameos from some well-known characters and a wonderfully described setting.
This is a lovely, uplifting story, with family drama, glamour and romance.
Extract from Shooting Stars Over Bluebell Cliff – Della Galton
Poppy Allen took a gulp of the fresh, brine-scented air and shielded her eyes against the winter sunshine as she looked out across the strip of pale sand. It was warm for February and the sea was flat and calm. She wasn’t the only one making the most of the stunning early-morning weather. Out in the bay, a small boat towed a waterskier in a black wetsuit past Old Harry Rocks. He bounced across the navy sea and Poppy could hear the distant drone of the boat’s engine beneath the mewling cries of the gulls.
Her ankle boots sank into the powdery sand as she twirled slowly around. Wow, this was a beautiful location to film. In her mind’s eye, she saw a pair of chestnut horses cantering in slow motion through the surf into a sunset that painted the sky pink and gold and turned the sea all around into a mirror of rose-tinted glass.
Which way was west? She checked her smartphone. Oh God, it was perfect. The sun would set over Brownsea Island. They might be able to use this very stretch of beach for that part of her show.
People raved about Dorset’s beaches. Bournemouth drew the crowds, but, in her opinion, Studland Beach was better. It was wilder, with no neat prom and no pier. Just a backdrop of sand dunes dotted with scrubby grass that stretched away into the distance. It was so much more romantic than its staid sister, Bournemouth, certainly for what she had in mind.
Date for a Day, a new kind of dating show, was Poppy’s brainchild. Billed as a cross between Take Me Out and It’s a Knockout, it involved seven contestants participating in challenges to win the attention of the picker. Netflix had commissioned a pilot that would be shown in the autumn. Poppy was determined to make it a hit. Being a producer was all she’d ever wanted to do and she was passionate about her work.
Poppy turned back towards the chain ferry, which was docking again. It came from Sandbanks three times an hour and the crossing took four minutes. From her flat on Poole Quay, it was quicker to come by ferry. The alternative was a very scenic forty-minute drive (on a good day) through Wareham and the Isle of Purbeck.
The ferry disgorged a handful of cars from the 9 a.m. crossing. She had got the one before. She never slept much past dawn anyway. Dave would probably be on this one. It had been tricky to get him to agree to such an early start, especially as he was – technically – working for nothing today. This was a pre-recce excursion, prior to bringing in her full crew. She could have done it by herself, but she wanted a sounding board and Dave had agreed to keep her company after she’d caught him in a weak moment last week following a shoot.
She’d known Dave Blackwell for a lot longer than he’d been her preferred director of photography – they had worked for other production companies together before she’d set up her own, Beauty Spot Productions, eighteen months ago, and they’d become good friends. There was no one she trusted more to help her bring her dream to life.
Poppy felt a prickle of excitement run down her back as she looked around her. It might be too busy to film here, but there were other more secluded, even more beautiful, beaches in this bay.
She glanced back towards the National Trust car park and saw Dave’s old black Mercedes pulling in and parking beside her metallic-silver Jeep Renegade. Too impatient to wait, she set off to meet him.
Della Galton is the author of many books, including Ice and a Slice. She writes short stories, teaches writing groups and is Agony Aunt for Writers Forum Magazine. She lives in Dorset. Della’s new fiction series launched with Sunshine Over Bluebell Cliff in May 2020.