Posted in Book Review

The Dead Ex – Jane Corry – 4*Review

 

HE CHEATED.

HE LIED.

HE DIED.

Vicki’s husband Daniel once promised to love her in sickness and in health. But after a brutal attack left her suffering from epilepsy, he ran away with his mistress.

So when Vicki gets a call one day to say that he’s missing, her first thought is ‘good riddance’. But then the police find evidence suggesting that Daniel is dead. And they think Vicki had something to do with it.

What really happened on the night of Daniel’s disappearance?

And how can Vicki prove her innocence, when she’s not even sure of it herself?

Amazon UK

Amazon

My Thoughts… 

A suspenseful psychological thriller, whose complicated plot and characters keep you enthralled and guessing right to the end. Told from multi-points of view the story demands concentration, but it’s worth the effort.

Vicki lives on a precipice, her past continually haunts her, and her health makes normal life difficult. The reasons for her emotional damage become clear as the story progressed and coupled with her life-altering condition, make her an unreliable protagonist. Is she telling the truth? Does she know what really happened? Does she have an agenda the reader is unaware? 

Scarlett is a tragic character, the catalogue of misfortunes that she suffers are heartrending and delivered with authenticity and sensitivity underpinned by careful and detailed research. Scarlett’s relationship with her mother is key to her plight.

Helen is a catalyst for the book’s final chapters, she is streetwise and driven, but her motives are not immediately apparent.

The plot has numerous twists, it’s like sailing on a ship in a rough sea, just when you think you know what’s happening, another piece of information is dropped in, and you lose your way.  What makes this a compelling psychological thriller is that the female protagonists are ordinary, strong women who are faced with terrible choices and outcomes. They are easy to empathise, and you want them to find peace of mind and happiness.

I received a copy of this book from Penguin UK, Viking via NetGalley in return for an honest review.

 

 

 

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Posted in Book Review

Blog Tour: Chloe Esposito – Mad – Extract – 4* Review

Adult Read

Seven days of sun, sin, secrets – and seven days to steal her sister’s life . . .

Beth has always been the golden girl, leaving her twin Alvie in her shadow. Beth has everything Alvie ever wanted – the money, the hot husband, the cute baby, the fast car. 

So when Beth invites Alvie for seven sun-drenched days at her lavish villa in Sicily, Alvie accepts. Just because she can’t stand, Beth doesn’t mean she can’t enjoy a slice of her decadent lifestyle.

But her usually goody-two-shoes sister has a hidden agenda. And when the twins swap identities for a day, it ends badly for Beth. Very badly.

It’s Alvie’s chance to steal the life she deserves . . . If she can get away with it.

But what if having it all really means risking everything?

Amazon UK

Amazon

Extract

Chapter Four

It was Beth’s fault we never had any birthday parties.
Well, not since our first and last one, when we were five.
We were so excited, I remember that much. It was our first proper party. We were running around the house, shrieking and laughing, jumping up and down and waiting for the guests to arrive. Beth had on her new frilly dress with fairy wings and a tutu skirt, and I was wearing one of Beth’s old pinafores that she’d grown out of. We’d done our hair up in lopsided bunches with our favourite scrunchies and butterfly clips. Mum had made party bags, blown up balloons. She’d even baked a cake with nine candles: five for Beth and four for me because one of them broke in the packet on the way back from the shop. The house was warm with the sweet smell of baking. It was a My Little Pony cake: vanilla buttercream, strawberry jam, hundreds of thousands of sprinkles. I didn’t like vanilla. Or buttercream. Or strawberry jam, to be honest. Beth was the one who was mad keen on horses. I preferred trolls. But I thought the cake looked pretty cool: the pink flying pony with sparkly wings and a blue mane that glistened and flowed in the wind. Horses could fly in those days; there was magic in the air. At least, that’s what I thought until the guests started to arrive. Then it all went downhill.

‘Happy birthday!’ The kids all burst in squealing. And then the party games began. Beth won Pin the Tail on the Donkey. Beth won Musical Statues and Musical Chairs. Mum always stopped the music when Beth had the present when we were playing Pass the Parcel. Beth was the one Mum let cut the cake and make a wish (and it was such a beautiful knife!).

That was it. I couldn’t take any more. I turned on my heel and sprinted upstairs, my head exploding with thundering rage, my eyes overflowing with tears. I spent the afternoon crying in a locked bathroom surrounded by tissues soggy with snot. I could hear the party in full swing below me, the ghetto blaster thumping Beth’s favourite song: ‘I Should Be So Lucky’ by Kylie Minogue. Mum said I could stay in there ‘Until you learn how to behave!’ Beth had a great time. I never tasted that cake. My sister kept trying to make me come out. Banging on the door. Begging me. Pleading. She twisted the doorknob so hard it came off. She offered me her presents, her cards and cake (she only did it to make herself feel better). But it wasn’t the same. Second-hand toys just don’t have that sparkle. I didn’t want to share. Sharing is bullshit. Whoever said ‘sharing is caring’ did not have a twin.

That was the year that the horses stopped flying.

We never had another party after that.

My Thoughts…

‘Mad’ the first book in the ‘Mad, Bad and Dangerous to Know’ trilogy is a curious mix of bonkbuster and mystery. Alvie, the anti-heroine is an identical twin and in her words, the antithesis of her perfect sister, Beth.

Alvie’s recollection of her childhood is that she was always second- best, regardless of whether this was the case, it damaged Alvie emotionally and destroyed the twins emotional connection.

Alvie’s life is a mess, and she glorifies in it, projecting the bad girl, don’t care persona that people expect of her, she lives to shock and usually manages it. When her life implodes, she decides to accept her estranged sister’s invite to stay with her, to escape. A pawn in a dangerous game, she finds nothing is what it seems. Her life changes irreparably, but as usual, she embraces the horror rather than running from it.

Alvie is a complex character, who isn’t easy to empathise. She is foul-mouthed, takes drugs, drinks to excess and steals anything she desires, including men. Despite losing her moral compass, she is vulnerable, often naive, desperate for someone to love her and a natural comedian.

The story’s dark comedy will appeal to many, and all the characters’ vivacity and the settings’ vivid description draw you into the story, following the breathless action. I can’t wait to see what scrapes Alvie gets into next.

If you like your mysteries, set in paradise, with larger than life characters who exhibit all of the seven deadly sins, you’ll enjoy this.

I received a copy of this book from Penguin UK -Michael Joseph via NetGalley in return for an honest review.

Posted in Book Review

Death Notice – 4* Review -Zhou HaoHui

For nearly two decades, an unsolved murder case has haunted Sergeant Zheng Haoming of the Chengdu Police Department. Eighteen years ago, two victims were murdered after being served with ‘death notices’. In refined calligraphy, their perceived crimes were itemised, and they were sentenced to death. The date of execution was declared, as was the name of their executioner: Eumenides.

Now, a user on an internet forum has asked the public to submit names for judgement – judgement for those the law cannot touch. Those found guilty will be punished, and there is only one sentence: death. The user’s handle? Eumenides.

Does Zheng have a lead? Has a long-dormant serial killer resurfaced? Perhaps modern police techniques – criminal profiling, online surveillance and SWAT quick response teams – can catch a killer who previously evaded justice? Or perhaps the killer is more than a match for whatever the Chengdu Police Department can muster?

Amazon UK

Amazon

My Thoughts…

A fast-paced police procedural set in China with well-written suspense elements and an authentic setting. Translated into English this book, reads well. ‘Death Notice’ is a mixture of cold case investigation and the present day pursuit of a serial killer.

The plot is complex as are the characters. The writing style isn’t descriptive, but there is sufficient information for the reader to understand what’s going on and try to solve the clues. The procedures are bureaucratic and appear dated but presumably are reflective of police procedures within China.

I enjoyed the writing style and the author’s ability to create suspense. There is an overriding mystery to solve, which will span the series but this first book ties up the immediate loose ends while leaving the detectives and the reader further mysteries to solve.

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

Posted in Book Review

Blog Blitz :The Killing Time – M.J Lee 4*Review

As tensions simmer in Shanghai, children go missing…

Shanghai 1932: Inspector Danilov hasn’t recovered from the death of his child… but across a Shanghai riven with communal tensions, children are going missing.

Missing, and then murdered. Who is responsible? Why have the children’s bodies been exhibited for all to see?

Just as Danilov thinks the stakes couldn’t be higher there is a new dimension, Japan, a rising power flexing its muscles. In fractious Shanghai, an explosion is long overdue. With the clock ticking can Danilov and his assistant Strachan solve the case? The fate of Shanghai may be at stake. So is Danilov’s job… And his sanity.

Amazon (UK)

Kobo (UK)

Google Books (UK)

Apple Books (UK)

Extract

Back at Central Police Station, the detectives’ room was empty save for Strachan and Danilov. The rest of the squad, or what remained of them after the Shanghai Volunteers had decimated the ranks, were at lunch, on patrol or simply avoiding work with all the professionalism of the accomplished loafer.

Strachan was hunched over the missing persons file, while Danilov was busy sending smoke rings up to the kippered ceiling, where they hung floating in the air before gradually dissipating like a wastrel’s fortune.

‘Why was the ear removed, Strachan?’

The detective sergeant knew better than to speak now. Danilov was only turning the problem over in his mind; he didn’t require a response.

‘And why slash the face but leave the birthmark? If anything identifies him, it is the mark.’ Another stream of smoke rose to the ceiling. ‘We need to go back to where the body was found.’

It was Danilov’s belief that a crime scene yielded as much information about the killer as the body itself.

‘When, sir?’

‘There’s no time like the present.’ He stubbed the cigarette out in the empty ashtray and adjusted the lamp over his desk so it was at exactly forty-five degrees. Anything less or more would be a distraction. ‘Have you found him yet in missing persons?’

‘Nothing so far. He might not live in the International Settlement.’

‘From the French Concession?’

‘Or any of the Chinese areas along the border: Chapei, Siccawei, Nantao, Hung Tsung.’

‘Hmm, but why risk transporting him? With all the recent tensions, the Volunteers are manning roadblocks at all the major crossing points.’ Danilov shook his head. ‘No, he came from the International Settlement. Too risky to move him around. Keep looking; you might want to check the Criminal Intelligence files too.’

‘Yes, sir.’

‘I always thought Criminal Intelligence was the wrong name for the division. Criminals lack intelligence. That is precisely why we are able to catch them.’

‘An oxymoron, sir.’

‘A what, Strachan?’

‘A figure of speech in which apparently contradictory terms appear next to each other, like “the young couple were alone together”.’

‘You’re spending too much time with my daughter, Strachan.’

The detective sergeant smiled at the thought. ‘I’m enjoying helping her with her English literature degree. We’re reading Jane Austen at the moment. I didn’t know a—’

He was interrupted by a knock on the glass that separated the detectives’ room from the rest of the station. A small, round woman entered.

‘Inspector Danilov, the chief will see you now.’ She lowered her voice. ‘He has five minutes, fitting you in between a committee on the uniforms of Sikh policemen and a meeting about the new filing system for criminal records. I’d hurry if I were you.’

‘Thank you, Miss Cavendish. I’ll come right away.’

The inspector stood up from his chair, feeling the ache in his knees. Winters were the devil to him, bringing back old pains he thought he’d left behind.

‘The chief inspector is in a jolly good mood today. They’ve approved his proposal on overtime pay for ancillary staff.’

‘Does that mean you will receive more money, Miss Cavendish?’ asked Strachan.

‘Less, actually. He’s removing all allowances. No more overtime pay, no more travel expenses, no more meal allowances. I don’t know when these budget cuts are going to stop.’

‘It’s what President Hoover calls the Great Depression, Miss Cavendish.’

‘Another oxymoron, Strachan?’

Miss Cavendish’s right eyebrow rose. ‘An oxy what?’

‘Don’t ask. My detective sergeant will have you reading Jane Austen next.’ Danilov put on his jacket. ‘While I’m gone, Strachan, ask around the station, see if anybody has heard anything about any kidnappings recently.’

‘Kidnappings, sir? Why?’

Danilov tapped the side of his beak-like nose. ‘A hunch. Back in 1912, when I was in London… ’

‘And I was in school.’

‘Thank you, Strachan, for reminding me of your youth and inexperience. As I was saying, back in 1912, there was a gang of kidnappers operating in Poplar who encouraged the families of their victims to pay up by sending them a severed ear. It invariably concentrated their minds as they haggled over the price.’

He turned to go.

‘Did you catch them, sir?’

‘Who?’

‘The kidnappers?’

‘Of course. Like all criminals, they became greedy. Demanding money once too often and removing far too many ears.’

Miss Cavendish tapped her watch. ‘The chief inspector is waiting.’

‘I’ll ask around, sir.’

‘And don’t forget to chase the report. I want it on my desk by the time I’ve finished with the chief inspector.’

‘Yes, sir.’

Danilov followed Miss Cavendish down the corridor to Chief Inspector Rock’s room.

‘I could ask around for you too, Inspector. People tell me things; I don’t know why,’ said the elderly woman over her shoulder.

‘People do it because you are an excellent listener, Miss Cavendish, with a capacity for gossip that puts Catherine the Great to shame.’

They both stopped in front of the chief inspector’s door.

Miss Cavendish played with the rope of pearls that surrounded a roll of fat on her neck. ‘You do say the nicest things, Inspector. But I’ll ask anyway.’

She knocked.

A loud ‘Come!’ from inside.

‘Into the dragon’s den. Good luck,’ she whispered, opening the door. ‘Inspector Danilov as you requested, Chief Inspector.’

‘Thank you, Miss Cavendish. Do come in, Danilov, and take a seat. I won’t be a moment.’

 

My Thoughts…

Shanghai in the 1930’s was a tinderbox, and this story captures this ethos perfectly. Japan’s annexation of Manchuria created additional tension between the Chinese and Japanese populations within Shanghai, and it’s against this setting the fourth Inspector Danilov tale takes place.

Dark and tragic crimes are the central theme of this story, and the child murders are difficult to read. Trying to solve them forces Inspector Danilov to confront his demons and personal tragedies. As this is the fourth book in the series, undoubtedly the reader has already learnt a great deal about Danilov and his colleagues and family in the previous books.

Authentic Danilov’s idiosyncrasies make him easy to like, he is the typical smart, driven detective, whose career is his life often to the detriment of his family and health. The plot has twists, and the pacing varies with the action. A little slow in the first few chapters, it gains motivation as the plot becomes convoluted.

As a standalone, read it is good, but it would be even better if you’d read the previous books in the series. This disturbing story has an evocative setting, enigmatic detective and exciting political theme, making it an absorbing read.

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

M J Lee has spent most of his adult life writing in one form or another. As a university researcher in history, he wrote pages of notes on reams of obscure topics. As a social worker with Vietnamese refugees, he wrote memoranda. And, as the creative director of an advertising agency, he has written print and press ads, TV commercials, short films and innumerable backs of cornflake packets and hotel websites.

He has spent 25 years of his life working outside the north of England, in London, Hong Kong, Taipei, Singapore, Bangkok and Shanghai, winning advertising awards from Cannes, One Show, D&AD, New York and the United Nations.

While working in Shanghai, he loved walking through the old quarters of that amazing city, developing the idea behind a series of crime novels featuring Inspector Pyotr Danilov, set in the 1920s.

When he’s not writing, he splits his time between the UK and Asia, taking pleasure in playing with his daughter, practising downhill ironing, single-handedly solving the problem of the French wine lake, and wishing he was George Clooney.

Twitter: @WriterMJLee

Posted in Book Review, Guest post

Blog Tour: Deep Fear – Rachel Lynch – Guest Post – Researching Forensics – 5* Review

DI Kelly Porter is back. But will this new case push her beyond her limits?

On a peaceful summer’s morning in the Lake District, a woman’s body is discovered outside a church. She’s been murdered and a brutal, symbolic act performed on her corpse. DI Kelly Porter is in charge of the team investigating the crime and is determined to bring the killer to justice. But as more deaths occur it is clear this is the work of a disturbed, dangerous and determined individual. Can Kelly put the puzzle pieces together before the danger comes closer to home?

Links to Book:

Amazon (UK)

Kobo (UK)

Google Books (UK)

Apple Books (UK)

Guest Post

Researching Forensics

By Rachel Lynch

 

Today, forensic evidence is essential to get a conviction. Circumstantial evidence can be argued away by skilful barristers and so-called experts. Science is rarely disputed, and so any Police Procedural, in my belief, has to have plenty of forensic procedure. I love reading about it and I love writing about it, and I hope my readers do too.

I created Ted Wallis, the Senior Coroner for the North West of England, purely by chance, but I liked his character so much that he’s now a permanent fixture. He’s becoming Kelly’s go-to for all things scientific and he’s also quite a father figure to her. She loves bouncing ideas off him and they enjoy each other’s company. He’s experienced, deliberate, trustworthy and reliable.

I research forensic procedure and technique a lot. One, because I enjoy it, but also because I can’t imagine an investigation without it. All forces in the UK used to be able to use the Forensic Science Service (FSS), but sadly it went way over budget (not that there ever was one set), and created quite a scandal when it emerged how much it cost the taxpayer for the privileged use of up to date technology (how dare they). It’s quite a bone of contention still, as it means that now each force has to pay private labs to chase results and process items and it’s astronomically expensive. One investigation could involve the processing of hundreds of items, then they need to be stored, often retested and compared against other tests. It’s a sad loss to the police force, but the price of budget cutting.

For the purposes of tension and pace, Kelly needs to have access to state of the art lab technology, otherwise, my novels would be tomes of ethical debate surrounded by dilemmas of whether or not to pay for speed DNA profiling or expert fibre analysis, not both. Crime readers don’t want to read about budgets, and so Ted has access to what he needs, and he can pull strings with several labs in Carlisle on Kelly’s behalf.

I’m also keen to avoid repetition, so each autopsy needs to bring something new to the table (forgive the pun). Ted himself needs to be surprised by the depravity of the lengths that some killers will go to and I think it does him good to have a few unconventional cases in the twilight of his career. I have studied anatomy and physiology as part of my sports training and massage courses and, although it’s not essential, it certainly helps. Gore will always divide readers but I hope to achieve the right balance to keep fans interested but at the same time not be gratuitous, which I hope I’m not.

Police work isn’t pretty, and it isn’t for the feint hearted, neither should crime novels be so. We’re dealing with the scum of society and the most sick and twisted minds. It’s bound to get ugly once in a while.

The most important aspect for me is that the facts exposed by the scientific research are always made relevant to the story. Everything that Ted discovers is relayed to Kelly, and each piece is processed so that it contributes to the final conclusion; this is my absolute priority where forensic investigation is used. No piece of evidence is ever thrown in by chance.

So where do I get all the information? The internet mainly. I Google some scary stuff. I also use personal testimony, books and my imagination. I go by the loose guide that, if someone has thought it, it’s probably been done, and nothing much surprises me about the lengths that serious criminals will go to snuff out a human being. After all, crime fiction is about the good guys (or girls) beating the bad guys (or girls). And the stakes are always higher when the baddies are particularly nasty.  

My Thoughts…

I read and reviewed the first book in the DI Kelly Porter series – Dark Game, and while I enjoyed it, for me, it was overly graphic and too factual, in parts. Deep Fear, the second book in the series has retained the action, pace and suspense of the first, while losing some of the gore and facts, making it a perfect 5* read.

Kelly Porter is a dedicated police detective, it is part of her life, and she often sacrifices personal matters for the job. Kelly’s complicated relationship with her sister Nikki continues in this sequel as does her on, off relationship with ex-serviceman Johnny, both give an insight into Kelly’s emotional side and are integral to the plot.

The dark and twisty plot makes compelling reading and something you have to finish. The Lake District and Cumbria is an exciting setting, which gives the perfect cover for heinous crimes. The stark contrast of the beautiful lakes and hills with the dark, horror of the murderous crimes adds to the suspense.

The authentic and well-researched plot and the realistic characters make this story come to life, with a well disguised serial killer. The final chapters are adrenaline-fueled with a heart-stopping ending. All the questions thrown up by the story are dealt with believably, although there is one loose end about a person of interest, which could be part of another investigation?

Readable as a standalone but if you want the full impact of DI Kelly Porter and her team, read Dark Game first.

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

Rachel Lynch grew up in Cumbria and the lakes and fells are never far away from her. London pulled her away to teach History and marry an Army Officer, whom she followed around the globe for thirteen years. A change of career after children led to personal training and sports therapy, but the writing was always the overwhelming force driving the future. The human capacity for compassion as well as its descent into the brutal and murky world of crime are fundamental to her work.

Twitter: @r_lynchcrime

 

 

Posted in Book Review

The Disappeared – Ali Harper – 3*Review

A distraught mother…
When Susan Wilkins walks into No Stone Unturned, Leeds’s newest private detective agency, owners Lee and Jo are thrilled. Their first client is the kind of person they always hoped to help—a kind woman desperately worried about her son, Jack.

A missing son…
The case seems simple—kid starts college, takes up with the wrong crowd, forgets to ring his mother. But very quickly, Lee and Jo suspect they’re not being told the whole truth.

A case which could prove deadly…
Their office is ransacked, everyone who knows Jack refuses to talk to them and they feel like they’re being followed…it’s clear Lee and Jo have stumbled into something bigger, and far more dangerous than they ever expected. Will they find Jack, or will their first case silence them both for good?

Amazon UK

Amazon

My Thoughts…

The cover and title suggest a psychological thriller, but this is not that. The title refers to a missing person, Jack, who a newly formed detective agency is engaged to find. The private detectives are female and distinctive in personality, Lee and Jo are firm friends and always have each other’s back. The two women have an easy going, intuitive relationship, which recommends them, they are better together than alone. The setting in Leeds is refreshingly original and authentic; it’s a shame the characters aren’t equally so.

Told in the first person from Lee’s point of view, the plot has many twists, not all of which are credible. Details of the two main characters backgrounds are sketchy, so much so that I wondered if I joined the series in the middle, rather than at the beginning. It’s clear both women have secrets, but few are revealed in this story, making them less believable and realistic than they should be.

A common theme is drug taking, and other types of addiction and the plot concentrates heavily on this. The plot is dark, but there are humorous moments, which help. Action packed with a fast-paced plot this will probably work better in a visual media, where character depth is less important than actions and reactions.

Overall, if this the start of a series, it has promise, but if there is a second book, please give the reader more life story for the main characters to make them real.

I received a copy of this book from Killer Reads, Harper Collins via NetGalley in return for an honest review.

Posted in Book Review

You Were Gone – 5* Review – Tim Weaver

 

Three days after Christmas, a woman walks into a police station. She has no phone and no ID, just a piece of paper with the name of investigator David Raker on it. She tells officers that Raker is her husband.

SHE SAYS SHE’S MY WIFE.

When he turns up at the station, Raker is stunned. The woman looks exactly like his wife. She knows all about their marriage, their history, even private conversations the two of them had. There’s just one problem: Raker’s wife has been dead for eight years.

MY WIFE DIED . . . DIDN’T SHE?

The woman tells the police that Raker had a breakdown. A respected doctor backs up her account. Items are missing that prove Raker’s side of the story – and, worst of all, he soon becomes the prime suspect in a disappearance.

SHE’S EITHER A LIAR – OR I AM.

Could Raker have imagined their whole marriage? Is he delusional? Is this really the woman he loved and grieved for? Hunted by the police, Raker will have to find out the truth before it costs him everything – his memories, his sanity, his life . . .

Amazon UK

Amazon

My Thoughts…

‘You Were Gone’ is chilling, sinister and all the more terrifying because it’s believable. Raker doubts his sanity, and he’s not alone. Is the woman claiming to be his beloved wife her and how can she be when she died?
Raker still grieves his wife, and it’s this vulnerability that makes this thriller work. Circumstances conspire to make him doubt everything he has built his life on since Derryn’s death.

The story is told from Raker’s point of view with additional scenes from the antagonist’s point of view but is this Raker or someone else? Each chapter builds the suspense and tension, and as the plot starts to reveal the truth, more twists throw up additional questions and possible suspects.

The ending is surprising but ties up most of the loose ends, however, a problem looms on the horizon for Raker as his and other’s past actions return to haunt him, perhaps in the next instalment of this thrilling series.

Even though this is the first Raker thriller I’ve read, I warmed to his deep and troubled character and found the story a compelling but easy read.

I received a copy of this book from Penguin UK Michael Joseph via NetGalley in return for an honest review.

Posted in Book Review

From Duke Until Dawn – Eva Leigh- 4* Review

‘It’s not my habit to seduce impoverished widows…’

The Duke of Greyland lost his heart – and a princely sum – to a charming, beautiful and destitute widow who, after one passionate night, vanished without a trace. Cassandra Blair grew up on the city streets, picking pockets to survive. Greyland was a rich mark – to be fleeced and forgotten – only she’d never forgotten him.

Years later, chance brings them together again, in a London gaming hell. Grayland is desperate to have her… never suspecting everything about his lover was a lie. But finding herself in dire financial straits, at risk of losing everything, Cassandra has no choice but to beg the man she betrayed for help.

The proud Duke will assist her under one condition: she doesn’t leave his sight until her debts are paid! But can the real Cassandra – the smart, streetwise survivor – steal his heart all over again?

Book one in the Scandalous Ladies of London series

Amazon UK

Amazon

My Thoughts…

A different trope from the usual Regency romance, this story has some originality, an anti-heroine character rather than an anti-hero. The story creates an interesting relationship between the Duke and the con- artist, but even though she fools him once, Cassandra ultimately needs his help and position to survive, which detracts from her independence.

The Duke of Greyland lacks the arrogance customarily associated with his rank in Regency romance. He has many appealing traits, not least his passionate nature and support of those less fortunate than he. However, he does lack authenticity.

This story scores highly for sensuality, the connection between the Duke and Cassandra is hot, and the love scenes leave little to the imagination. They explain why the Duke acts as he does and their deepening emotional attachment underlines every kiss.

Overall this is a lovely story, which superficially explores the seedier side of Regency England while delivering a passionate love story.

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

Posted in Book Review

BlogTour: What Did I Do? Jessica Jarlvi – 4*Review

“Kristin is on the run. From her life. From herself.”

When two murders happen in Chicago, a witch-hunt ensues, and Kristin quickly finds herself at the centre.

The problem is she isn’t sure of what she did or didn’t do. Armed with a life insurance payout, she runs away to Sweden to start her life over.

But it’s not that easy to escape the past. And whatever she’s done, someone is on her tail, wanting her to pay…

The question is: could she be a killer and not even remember?

 

Links to buy

 Amazon UK 

Amazon

Kobo: http://bit.ly/2EJuXRk

Google Play: http://bit.ly/2IRxvPO

iBooks: https://apple.co/2Hwy4za

 

 

My Thoughts…

Multiple characters provide tantalising snippets of information in this psychological thriller. Set in Chicago and Sweden, this story has the pacing and sinister elements of a Scandinavian thriller.

All the characters have psychological issues, which makes finding the antagonist difficult. I did work out most the plot before the end, but there were a couple of surprises. What stands out in this story is the unmitigated evil of the antagonist, who is the puppeteer, while all the other characters are puppets to some degree, although few are entirely blameless.

The story’s pace is slow and won’t appeal to everyone, but if you like Scandinavian thrillers this has all the essential requirements.

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

Born in Sweden, Jessica moved to London at the age of 18 to obtain a BSc Hons degree in Publishing and Business. She worked in publishing in the UK for a number of years before heading to Chicago where she edited a magazine for expats. Back in Sweden, she completed a Masters in Creative Writing. Since 2010, Jessica has taught journalism and media at a local university and has spent the last five years as the marketing and PR manager for a British firm. Last year, she was one of the winners in the Montegrappa Prize for First Fiction at the Emirates Airline Festival of Literature. Jessica is married with three spirited children, and although she’s known for her positivity, her writing tends to be rather dark!

 

Twitter: @JessicaJarlvi

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/jessica.jarlvi.graham

Posted in Book Review

Blog Tour: Killing Time – Mark Roberts – 3* Review

 

 

Before night falls, someone will die…

A young Czech girl, missing for eight days, is found in a deserted playground. Starving and terrified, she may be alive, but the horrors she’s survived have left her mute.

DCI Eve Clay is on her way to try and interview the girl when another case is called in. Two Polish migrant workers have been found dead in their burnt out flat. But this is no normal house fire. The men’s bodies had been doused in petrol.

Then Clay uncovers a sinister message at the scene: killing time is here, embrace it. It’s clear this is only the beginning, but how long does Eve have before another life is taken?  

 

Amazon: https://amzn.to/2IRYifS

Kobo: https://www.kobo.com/gb/en/ebook/killing-time-69

Google Play: http://bit.ly/2DVRBFW

iBooks: https://apple.co/2pD4sZm

My Thoughts…

Fast-paced with a likeable female protagonist this is a suspenseful crime thriller.

Extremism and racial hatred is the premise of this novel with graphically described psychotic delusions and racially motivated hate crimes. The characters are either good or evil, there is no middle ground in this story, and the authenticity suffers.

Probably because this is the fourth book in the detective series, there is minimal character description, making most of the characters difficult to empathise since I haven’t read the previous books in the series.

I enjoyed the suspense element.

 

Mark Roberts was born and raised in Liverpool. He was a teacher for twenty years and now works with children with severe learning difficulties. He is the author of What She Saw, which was longlisted for a CWA Gold Dagger.

Twitter: @MR_CrimeWriter

Facebook: Mark Roberts