Posted in Blog Tour, Book Review, Cozy Mystery, Crime, Humour, Murder Mystery

Burying Bad News Paula Williams 4* #Review #Much Winchmoor Mysteries @PaulaWilliams44 @darkstrokedark @crookedcatbooks @rararesources #RachelsRandomResources #cozymystery #MurderMystery #VillageLife #Somerset

One severed head, two warring neighbours – and a cold-blooded killer stalks Much Winchmoor. There’s the murder made to look like a tragic accident, and a missing husband. Could he be victim number two?

The tiny Somerset village is fast gaining a reputation as the murder capital of the West Country, and once again, reporter/barmaid/dog walker Kat Latcham finds herself reluctantly dragged into the investigation.

Things are looking bad for Ed Fuller, the husband of one of Kat’s oldest friends. Kat’s convinced he’s innocent – but she’s been wrong before.

Has Kat come across her biggest challenge yet?

Fans of Janet Evanovich could well enjoy this “funky, modern day nosey detective” transported to the English countryside. The third Much Winchmoor mystery is, as always, spiked with humour and sprinkled with a touch of romance.

Amazon UK

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

My Thoughts…

Much Winchmoor, is a quirky, country village in Somerset. It’s full of eccentric, gossipy characters, and more murders than you would expect in such a sleepy village. This is the third in the series, but there is sufficient narrative on the inhabitants, for it to be enjoyed as a standalone read.

The characters are relatable. The picturesque setting at odds with the heinous crimes. The insights into village life are astute and accurate. The plot has a multitude of suspects and false leads and an intelligent, likeable and an unlikely amateur sleuth. This is a winning mix, for an English murder mystery, and it works well here.

Paula Williams

Paula Williams is living her dream.  She’s written all her life – her earliest efforts involved blackmailing her unfortunate younger brothers into appearing in her various plays and pageants. But it’s only in recent years, when she turned her attention to writing short stories and serials for women’s magazines that she discovered, to her surprise, that people with better judgement than her brothers actually liked what she wrote and were prepared to pay her for it and she has sold over 400 short stories and serials both in the UK and overseas.

Now, she writes every day in a lovely, book-lined study in her home in Somerset, UK, where she lives with her husband and a handsome but not always obedient rescue Dalmatian called Duke.  She still writes for magazines but now writes novels as well.  She is currently writing the Much Winchmoor series of murder mysteries, set in a village not unlike the one she lives in –  although as far as she knows, none of her friends and neighbours have murderous tendencies.

A member of both the Romantic Novelists’ Association and the Crime Writers’ Association, her novels often feature  a murder or two, and are always spiked with humour and sprinkled with a touch of romance.

She also writes a monthly column, Ideas Store, for the writers’ magazine, Writers’ Forum.  And she blogs about her books, other people’s books and, quite often, Dalmatians at paulawilliamswriter.wordpress.com. 

She gives talks on writing at writing festivals and to organised groups and has appeared several times of local radio.  In fact, she’ll talk about writing to anyone who’ll stand still long enough to listen.

But, as with all dreams, she worries that one day she’s going to wake up and find she still has to bully her brothers into reading ‘the play what she wrote’.

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Posted in Blog Tour, Book Review, Crime

#Payback Claire MacLeary 4* #Review @SarabandBooks @ClaireMacLeary @LoveBooksGroup #Lovebookstours #HarcusandLaird #CrimeFiction #BlogTour #BookReview

When police are called to a murder scene at the home of Aberdeen socialite Annabel Imray, they find themselves under pressure to get a conviction, and fast. Meanwhile, local PIs Wilma Harcus and Maggie Laird are at rock bottom, desperate for income. As Maggie contemplates replacing Wilma with an unpaid intern, an eccentric widow appoints them to search for her lost cat – and Wilma goes off-piste to negotiate a loan, with terrifying terms.  As the fear caused by a series of sinister break-ins escalates, Maggie blames the aggressive language in public discourse for inciting violent crime. But before long, she finds she is in the danger zone herself.

Will Wilma manage to save her?

Amazon UK Waterstones Saraband

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

My Thoughts…

Wilma Harcus and Maggie Laird are a private investigation team. As different, as it’s possible to be, the two women look out for each other, have a strong friendship and success rate. Despite, all of this the business is struggling and money is needed urgently. Maggie (the cautious, sensible one), thinks about selling her assets to keep meet the bills. Wilma, (the free spirit), goes for a less conventional and ultimately dangerous alternative, which has consequences for her friend.

This is the fourth book, in the Harcus and Laird series. It’s my first encounter, with the team and I find it, full of action, humour and solid investigation. Although the characters have history and previous cases are alluded to, it doesn’t detract from this story.

The characters are engaging and realistic. The story is cleverly plotted and the divergent investigations interweave to produce a strong ending.

Payback is enjoyable crime fiction, with a strong sense of place, humour and team dynamic.

Claire MacLeary

Claire MacLeary lived for many years in Aberdeen and St Andrews, but describes herself as “a feisty Glaswegian with a full life to draw on”. Following a career in business, she gained an MLitt with Distinction from the University of Dundee and her short stories have been published in various magazines and anthologies. She has appeared at Granite Noir, Noir at the Bar and other literary events. Claire’s debut novel,Cross Purpose, was longlisted for the prestigious McIlvanney Prize, Scottish Crime Book of the Year Award 2017, and Burnout was longlisted for the Hearst Big Book Award 2018.Runaway is her third novel and continues the Harcus & Laird series.

Posted in Blog Tour, Book Review, Crime, Mystery

Living Candles Teodora Matei 4* #Review @TeoMatei2 @CorylusB @Lovebookgroup #Lovebookstours #BlogTour #BookReview #Mystery #Romania #CrimeFiction

The discovery of a woman close to death in a city basement sends Bucharest police officers Anton Iordan and Sorin Matache on a complex chase through the city as they seek to identify the victim. As they try to track down the would-be murderer, they find a macabre trail of missing women and they realise that this isn’t the first time the killer has struck. Iordan and Matache hit one dead end after another, until they decide they’ll have to take a chance that could prove deadly.

Amazon UK

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

My Thoughts…

Finding the person who left a woman hanging from a pipe in a basement proves difficult for police detectives Jordan and Matache. The two detectives have a good working relationship, Jordan is a police commander, with a troublesome private life. Matahce is a talented, young chief inspector, living the good life.

The story is fast-paced and follows along police procedural lines. The setting in Romania, adds interest for the reader, as the forensic departments, and other aspects of the police investigative team are distinctive. There is a good cast of characters, with insights into the personal lives of the two main detectives. The characters are realistic, and the plot is well thought out. The reader investigates the crime alongside the detectives, finding out information when they do. This immersive quality makes it an enjoyable read.

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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

Second Sister Chan Ho-Kei 4*#Review Translated by Jeremy Tiang @Chan_HoKei @HoZ_Books @JeremyTiang @midaspr #HongKong #CrimeFiction #TechnoThriller #InternationalThriller #BookReview #BlogTour

From the author of the acclaimed novel The Borrowed, a very timely and propulsively plotted tale of cyberbullying and revenge, about a woman on the hunt for the truth about her sister’s death.

Chan Ho-Kei’s The Borrowed was one of the most acclaimed international crime novels of recent years, a vivid and compelling tale of power, corruption, and the law spanning five decades of the history of Hong Kong. Now he delivers Second Sister, an up-to-the-minute tale of a Darwinian digital city where everyone from tech entrepreneurs to teenagers is struggling for the top.

A schoolgirl – Siu-Man – has committed suicide, leaping from her twenty-second-floor window to the pavement below. Siu-Man is an orphan and the librarian older sister who’s been raising her refuses to believe there was no foul play – nothing seemed amiss. She contacts a man known only as N. – a hacker, and an expert in cybersecurity and manipulating human behaviour. But can Nga-Yee interest him sufficiently to take her case, and can she afford it if he says yes?

What follows is a cat and mouse game through the city of Hong Kong and its digital underground, especially an online gossip platform, where someone has been slandering Siu-Man. The novel is also populated by a man harassing girls on mass transit; high school kids, with their competing agendas and social dramas; a Hong Kong digital company courting an American venture capitalist; and the Triads, market women and noodle shop proprietors who frequent N.’s neighbourhood of Sai Wan. In the end, it all comes together to tell us who caused Siu-Man’s death and why, and to ask, in a world where online and offline dialogue has increasingly forgotten about the real people on the other end, what the proper punishment is.

Amazon UK

I received a copy of this book from Head of Zeus in return for an honest review.

My Thoughts…

A detailed, technical crime thriller set in HongKong. Nga-Yee doesn’t believe her sister committed suicide. Did someone provoke her untimely death? With no close family, Nga-Yee focuses all her grief on getting justice for her younger sister. Referred, to the enigmatic ‘N’ she’s unsure if she can trust him. Desperation forces her, to forge an unlikely alliance with the Hacker, who has many faces and even more secrets.

The plot uncovers cyberbullying, educates in the art of hacking and cybercrime and reveals some hard to like characters. The pacing is good, and although it plunges into technicality in parts, this is integral to the story and lets the reader learn things at the same pace as the main protagonist Nga-Yee. The plot has many twists and layers, and though you many guess part of the story, the ending may still surprise you.

Nga-Yee is a courageous woman, who is easy to empathise. N is eccentric, intelligent and streetwise. Although lacking in social graces, his actions recommend him, and his loyalty redeems his lack of social grace.

The atmospheric setting and cultural references are engaging and the story balances the factual and crime investigation with the emotional side of its characters well. The ending is satisfying and positive.

Chan Ho- Kei

Chan was born and raised in Hong Kong. He has worked as a software engineer, game designer, manga editor, and lecturer. Chan wrote made his debut as a writer in 2008 at the age of thirty-three, with the short story The Case of Jack and the Beanstalk which was shortlisted for the Mystery Writers of Taiwan Award. Chan re-entered the following year and won the award for his short story The Locked Room of Bluebeard.

Chan reached the first milestone of his writing career in 2011 with his novel, The Man who Sold the World which won the biggest mystery award in the Chinese speaking world, the Soji Shimada Award. The book has been published in Taiwan, Japan, Italy, Thailand and Korea.

In 2014, Chan’s crime thriller The Borrowed was published in Taiwan. It has sold rights in thirteen countries, and the book will be adapted into a film by acclaimed Chinese art film director Wong Kar-Wai.

Second Sister‘ has acquired a six-figure film deal with Linmon Pictures in China. The book will be published in the US in 2020 and rights have been sold to China, Korea and Japan.

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Jeremy- Tiang Translator

Jeremy Tiang

Jeremy Tiang’s writing has appeared in The Guardian, Esquire and Quarterly Literary Review Singapore. He has written four plays and translated more than ten books from the Chinese. Tiang lives in New York.

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Posted in Book Review, Crime, Family Drama, Mystery, Suspense

The Silent House Nell Pattison 4*#Review @Writer_Nell @AvonBooksUK #CrimeFiction #SignLanguage #FamilyDrama #Relationships #Mystery #Suspense #BlogTour #BookReview

If someone was in your house, you’d know.
Wouldn’t you?
But the Hunter family are deaf and don’t hear a thing when a shocking crime takes place in the middle of the night. Instead, they wake up to their worst nightmare.

The police call Paige Northwood to the scene to interpret for the witnesses. They’re in shock, but Paige senses the Hunters are hiding something.

One by one, people Paige knows from the Deaf community start to fall under suspicion. But who would kill a little girl?

Was it an intruder?

Or was the murderer closer to home?

Amazon UK

I received a copy of this book from Avon Books UK in return for an honest review.

My Thoughts…

It’s always interesting to read a crime novel from a new perspective. The death of a child takes place in a household where the adults are deaf. They didn’t hear the intruder. A sign language interpreter knows the family but sacrifices professional detachment determined to find justice for the victim.

The beginning is harrowing and sets the scene for an emotional domestic suspense story. The police procedural aspect is well-written, giving the plot authenticity. It’s the unofficial, personally motivated investigation that Paige undertakes that makes this story absorbing and suspenseful.
The characters are complex and believable. I did realise early on who committed the crime, but the plot has many twists and suspects, and a good final twist. It is immersive and poignant, with an adrenaline-inducing conclusion.

Posted in Author Interview, Blog Tour, Book Review, Crime, Gangland Crime, ganglit, Thriller

Risking It All Stephanie Hart 4* #Review @Aria_Fiction @HoZ_Books @StephanieHarte3 #ganglit #crimefiction #thriller #London #BlogTour #Author #Interview #BookReview #PublicationDay

Gemma is about to risk it all for the man she loves. Will she survive entering into a life of crime?

Gemma has always been there for Nathan. He’s the love of her life and she made a commitment to him, one she’d never consider breaking… until smooth-talking gangster Alfie Watson comes into their lives and changes everything.

Alfie doesn’t care about true love – he wants Gemma, and the gangster always gets what he wants. When Nathan ends up owing him money, Alfie gets payback by recruiting Gemma to carry out a jewellery heist. To everyone’s surprise, she’s a natural. Until Alfie forgives Nathan’s debt, she has no choice but to accompany the gangster on more and more daring heists – even though one slip-up could cost her everything.

Nathan might have fallen under Alfie’s spell, but it doesn’t take long for him to realise that he needs to save Gemma from his own mistakes if their marriage is to have any chance of surviving. But when that means taking on the East End’s most notorious gangster at his own game, will he find himself up to the challenge?

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

My Thoughts…

Fast-paced and detailed, this ganglit novel follows Gemma and Nathan’s fall into crime. Is it because of Nathan’s mistake? Or does, gangland boss Alfie have a sinister agenda?

The violence is mostly implied, rather than implicit in this book, which is unusual for this genre. The underlying menace is always there, as the couple’s enforced stealing spree, takes in Europe’s most glamorous cities. Told, from the three main characters points of view, you gain insight into each characters’ motivations.

Gemma follows her heart, she gave up a lot for Nathan and continues to do so. She’s intelligent and you may wonder why she sticks with such a selfish man. Love makes fools of all of us, and Nathan is Gemma’s weakness.

Nathan is irritating. He says, he loves Gemma, but he continues to drag her down and lacks the insight, to see what he is doing. Seeing the events unfold from his point of view, you do understand why he behaves as he does, but he is weak, and hard to empathise.

Alfie is the archetypical hard guy. His agenda is the reason Gemma’s life is in turmoil, but she proves to be a challenge, which leads to some unexpected outcomes for him.

An interesting read, which opens the door for more stories of Gemma, Nathan and Alfie.

Author Interview: Stephanie Harte – Risking It All

What inspired you to write ‘Risking It All?

My inspiration for the novel came from an article I’d read about a man who lost everything, including his wife and children, when his gambling addiction took over his life. I love to travel and have a huge interest in gangland crime, so I wanted to create a story that incorporated those elements as well.

When you begin a new story, what is the first thing you develop; characters, plot or setting? Why is this?

I develop a rough plot first. I like to know where the story is going before I create my characters. But when I start to write, the plot occasionally changes course along the way as the characters sometimes take it on a path I hadn’t originally planned.

What is the unique selling point of your story? What do you hope will make it stand out in the gang-lit genre?

In Risking It All, my heroine is forced to become a jewel thief to clear her husband’s debt. I hope the fact that I’ve written the story from the viewpoint of the three main characters will make it stand out in the gang-lit genre.

Do you find it easy or difficult to write dialogue? How do you make it sound natural and believable?

I like writing dialogue. I try to give each character their own distinct voice, to match their personality, to make the dialogue sound natural and believable.

What is the best thing about being a writer? Are there any negatives?

I like being able to work from home. It’s a big bonus as I get to spend all day with my dog while I’m doing something that I love. I haven’t encountered any negatives so far. In my experience, the writing community have been very supportive.

Do you enjoy reading? What are you reading at the moment?

I love reading. I’m currently reading Queenie by Kimberley Chambers.

What are currently writing?

I’m currently writing the third book in the series.

Stephanie Harte

Stephanie Hart is a debut author writing in the ganglit genre. She lives in London with her family. Twitter