Posted in Blog Tour, Book Review, Crime, Thriller

Death on the Lake Jo Allen 4*#Review #DCI Jude Satterthwaite @JoAllenAuthor #CrimeFiction #PoliceProcedural #Thriller #BlogTour #BookReview #Cumbria #EdenValley @rararesources #LakeDistrict

Three youngsters, out for a good time. Vodka and the wrong sort of Coke. What could possibly go wrong?

When a young woman, Summer Raine, is found drowned, apparently accidentally, after an afternoon spent drinking on a boat on Ullswater, DCI Jude Satterthwaite is deeply concerned — more so when his boss refuses to let him investigate the matter any further to avoid compromising a fraud case.

But a sinister shadow lingers over the dale and one accidental death is followed by another and then by a violent murder. Jude’s life is complicated enough but the latest series of murders are personal to him as they involve his former partner, Becca Reid, who has family connections in the area. His determination to uncover the killer brings him into direct conflict with his boss — and ultimately places both him and his colleague and girlfriend, Ashleigh O’Halloran, in danger.

Amazon Amazon UK

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

My Thoughts…

An engaging story with complex relationship dynamics and a Cumbrian setting. The police procedural is well-plotted with twists, misinformation and scenarios that cross the personal, professional divide. The relationships are complex but believable, with characters that give this traditional crime mystery its twenty-first-century edge.

The authentic Cumbrian setting demonstrates rural communities are as vulnerable to crime as their urban counterparts. Jude Satterthwaite is a well-developed character whose personal life often impinges on his professional life, making him enemies in the criminal world. The close-knit rural communities are well described, and the rugged beauty of the hills and lakes an added attraction for devotees of the area.

If you are looking for a new crime series with relatable characters and absorbing criminal investigations, this series is worth reading, and this book is the best one so far.

Jo Allen

Jo Allen is the author of the successful DCI Satterthwaite series of detective novels set in and around the English Lake District, where she lives. After a career in economic consultancy she took up writing and was first published under the name Jennifer Young in genres of short stories, romance and romantic suspense. In 2017 she took the plunge and began writing the genre she most likes to read – crime. In common with all her favourite characters, she loves football (she’s a season ticket holder with her beloved Wolverhampton Wanderers) and cats.

 Twitter Facebook Instagram

Posted in Book Review, Crime, Family Drama

Lost Cause Rachel Lynch 5* #Review #DIKellyPorter @r_lynchcrime @canelo_co #LakeDistrict #Cumbria #CrimeFiction #Urban #Detective #BookReview

Is he a victim? Or a killer?

Kevin Flint is a young man on the cusp of adulthood and something of a misfit. He has no friends and a reputation of being odd. At home he lives in fear of his cruel, controlling father. Kevin starts spending time at an abandoned church with an ancient graveyard, and learns couples also go there to have sex. He becomes obsessed with watching them. Soon, one of the women who he has followed is reported missing.

DI Kelly Porter investigates the disappearance and knows that the adolescent boy is hiding something. Kevin is culpable, but to what degree? The evidence against him begins to stack up and Kelly is torn between instinct and facts. Distracted by a looming crisis in her personal life, can she preserve what she loves and still uphold the laws she lives by?

Amazon UK

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

My Thoughts…

This is another addictive book in the DI Kelly Porter series set in Cumbria. It’s an intriguing medley of noir crime, police investigation, and the personal lives of the detective team.

Kelly is a likeable detective who is motivated by the need to seek justice for crime victims. Although career-driven, she does have an increasingly important personal life which shows another side to her and sometimes makes her professionally vulnerable.

Although the violent crimes featured are disturbing to read about, the detailed descriptions are necessary to the story. There’s an authentic team dynamic with a good mix of personal and professional interactions.

Posted in Blog Tour, Book Review, Crime, Thriller

Death at Rainbow Cottage Jo Allen 4*#Review #DCI Jude Satterthwaite @JoAllenAuthor #CrimeFiction #PoliceProcedural #Thriller #BlogTour #BookReview #Cumbria #EdenValley @rararesources #LakeDistrict

At the end of the rainbow, a man lies dead.

The apparently motiveless murder of a man outside the home of controversial equalities activist Claud Blackwell and his neurotic wife, Natalie, is shocking enough for a peaceful local community. When it’s followed by another apparently random killing immediately outside Claud’s office, DCI Jude Satterthwaite has his work cut out. Is Claud the killer, or the intended victim?

To add to Jude’s problems, the arrival of a hostile new boss causes complications at work, and when a threatening note arrives at the police headquarters, he has real cause to fear for the safety of his friends and colleagues…

A traditional British detective novel set in Cumbria.

Amazon UK

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

My Thoughts…

This police procedural set in Cumbria has relatable characters, explores contemporary issues using clever plotting and features an immersive writing style. It’s worth reading the entire series.

This story has multiple murders with no discernible motive. The investigation team are diverse, and they have a believable team dynamic. The author creates a fictional world with a realistic balance of personal and professional relationships. The investigation process is relatable and allows the reader their interpretation of the evidence too.

This is classic detecting, with a twenty-first-century edge that makes it addictive and absorbing read.

Jo Allen

Jo Allen is the author of the successful DCI Satterthwaite series of detective novels set in and around the English Lake District, where she lives. After a career in economic consultancy she took up writing and was first published under the name Jennifer Young in genres of short stories, romance and romantic suspense. In 2017 she took the plunge and began writing the genre she most likes to read – crime. In common with all her favourite characters, she loves football (she’s a season ticket holder with her beloved Wolverhampton Wanderers) and cats.

 Twitter Facebook Instagram

Posted in Audiobook Review, Blog Tour, Book Review, Christmas Read, Family Drama, Festive Read, Romance

A Surprise Christmas Wedding Phillipa Ashley 5* #Review @PhillipaAshley @AvonBooksUK #HarperCollinsAudioUK #festive #Christmas #Cumbria #Events #Weddings #Winter #BookReview #Audiobook Narrator Laura Kirman @laurakirman #Review #ASupriseChristmasWedding

It’s been a year since Lottie’s fiancé walked out, leaving her heartbroken. But things start to look up when she lands her dream job at a beautiful Lake District estate, with a handsome groundskeeper for a neighbour.
 
So when Lottie is asked to organise a last minute Christmas wedding at Firholme, she can’t wait to get started. Until she meets the couple, and discovers that Connor, the man who broke her heart, is the groom-to-be.
 

As snow falls on the hills, can Lottie put aside her past to organise the perfect winter wedding? And will there be any festive magic left to bring Lottie the perfect Christmas she deserves?

Curl up with this gorgeous story about love and second chances.

Amazon UK Audiobook

I received a copy of this book and audiobook from Avon Books UK and Harper Collins Audio UK via NetGalley in return for an honest review.

My Thoughts…

I’ve read lots of this author’s books, but this is the first I’ve listened to as an audiobook. Rather than Cornwall, the setting for this story is Cumbria one of my favourite places, so I couldn’t wait to start listening. This is a story of betrayal, forgiveness and second chances with a surprising festive wedding. Not wanting to give away the plot suffice it to say not all surprises are welcome.

Lottie is working as an event planner at a Cumbrian country house. Planning her first wedding causes conflict in her personal and professional lives, ultimately it makes her realise, some truths about herself and her previous relationship. Jay appears unsocial, but he has trust issues when it comes to relationships, something that stands between his and Lottie’s happiness.

The story has some lovely festive touches, and the romance is conflicted, but rewarding. There is also a poignantly relevant sub-plot about Lottie’s sister, which shows the importance of their sisterly bond and is a particularly heartwarming part of the story.

The characters are vibrant and wonderfully flawed, and they are brought to life, convincingly, by the excellent narrator. Not all the characters are easy to like, particularly Connor and his fiancee Keegan. The story has a good plot for an audiobook with lots of characters and dialects. The narrator is professional and copes well with the different accents and characters.

If you are looking for a festive read with family and forgiveness at its heart with ripples of romance, and humour this is a perfect read.

Posted in Book Review, Crime, ganglit

Little Doubt Rachel Lynch 5* #Review #DIKellyPorter @r_lynchcrime @canelo_co #LakeDistrict #Cumbria #CrimeFiction #Urban #Detective #BookReview

Some places make their own laws…

When Ella Watson, a woman of wealth and status, is brutally stabbed to death in broad daylight it sends a shockwave through the Lake District community. Later that day, Keira Bradley meets the same fate. But whereas Ella’s murder is a tragedy, Keira’s death on the notorious Beacon Estate is just another statistic in a dangerous place.

DI Kelly Porter has the unenviable job of running simultaneous investigations. Her efforts aren’t helped by a boss driven by protecting his reputation and a housing estate where fear rules and no one dare speak out. Kelly knows the answers can only be found by winning the trust of the residents at Beacon Estate. A task so hard it may be impossible.

Kelly puts everything she has into finding justice for both victims. The only thing she hadn’t anticipated was a traitor in the ranks. When the evidence points to someone in her team, Kelly has to put feelings aside and work the case – no matter where it leads. By the time it is over, nothing in her world will ever be the same…

Amazon UK

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

My Thoughts…

DI Kelly Porter is in urban Cumbria for this story, a stark contrast to The Lake District’s beauty and wealth. Two motiveless murder require Kelly’s urban detection skills, from her time at the Met. Knife crime, urban deprivation and the culture of fear, are explored in a knowledgable and sensitive way. The strong team dynamics are threatened, ramping up the investigation’s complexity and the story’s suspense.

The relatable characters and plots twists make this immersive and intriguing crime fiction.

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

Hattie Goes To Hollywood Caroline James 4*#Review @CarolineJames12 #cozymystery #HattieGoesToHollywood #AmateurSleuth #FemaleDetective #Rurallife #VillageLife murdermystery #cumbria #Giveaway #Drake @rararesources

A Cumbrian Village…
Three suicides…
A red-hot summer…

Join super-sleuth Hattie as tempers and temperatures rise in the Cumbrian village of Hollywood. With mischief and shenanigans aplenty, will Hattie discover the truth?

A funny and intriguing mystery – the first in a new series by Caroline James

When recently bereaved Hattie Mulberry inherits her aunt’s dilapidated cottage in the village of Hollywood in Cumbria, she envisages a quiet life. But retired hotelier Hattie is bored and when her neighbour asks her to investigate a suspicious suicide, Hattie’s career takes a new direction and H&H Investigations is born. During the hottest summer for years, Hattie discovers there have been three recent suicides in Hollywood and she determines to find out why. Temperatures rise as she throws herself into village life and, with mischief and shenanigans aplenty, Hattie has her work cut out. But will she establish the truth?

Amazon UK Amazon

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

My Thoughts…

A good cozy mystery should have the following attributes. A cast of complex characters, some of which must harbour dark secrets. Plenty of opportunity for humour, but despite this, the potential for a heinous crime. An enigmatic, quirky amateur sleuth, and an idyllic setting that seems at odds, with what happens there.

‘Hattie Goes To Hollywood’, has all of the above. The residents of Hollywood village are quirky and not necessarily what they seem. The plot has lots of comic moments and humorous dialogue. There are three suicides, but are they suicides, or something more sinister? Hattie a recent widow, returns to her native Cumbria, to live in the rundown cottage, her aunt left her. She needs something to do, and being friendly, inquisitive, observant and tenacious, making a career out of private investigation seems feasible. The village of Hollywood is delightfully rural, but its beauty hides darkness.

Hattie is a complex forthright woman whose no-nonsense manner attracts confidences and indiscretions. She has a positive outlook on life, has a good heart, and a weakness for attractive men. I loved her. The writing is full of vivid imagery, so you can easily imagine the village and its occupants. The mystery is well-plotted, and the humour tempers the severity of the crime effectively. The characters are realistic, full of eccentricities and flaws, and bring the story to life. Like many cozy mystery amateur sleuths, Hattie has an animal companion. Not what you’d expect, but Drake does have intuitive detective skills.

A clever, comical cozy mystery, making this a wonderful escapist read.

Giveaway to Win a cuddly Drake toy! (Open INT)
Be in with a chance to win Drake, Hattie’s faithful pet duck! Tall Drake & Handsome – A gorgeous soft toy who will be your friend for life.

Click on Giveaway link to enter here

*Terms and Conditions –Worldwide entries welcome.  Please enter using the Giveaway link above.  The winner will be selected at random via Rafflecopter from all valid entries and will be notified by Twitter and/or email. If no response is received within 7 days then Rachel’s Random Resources reserves the right to select an alternative winner. Open to all entrants aged 18 or over.  Any personal data given as part of the competition entry is used for this purpose only and will not be shared with third parties, with the exception of the winners’ information. This will be passed to the giveaway organiser and used only for the fulfilment of the prize, after which time Rachel’s Random Resources will delete the data.  I am not responsible for despatch or delivery of the prize.

Caroline James

Best-selling author of women’s fiction, Caroline James has owned and run businesses encompassing all aspects of the hospitality industry, a subject that often features in her novels. She is based in the UK but has a great fondness for travel and escapes whenever she can. A public speaker, which includes talks and lectures on cruise ships world-wide, Caroline is also a consultant and food writer. She is a member of the Romantic Novelist’s Association, the Society of Women’s Writer’s & Journalists and the Society of Authors and writes articles and short stories, contributing to many publications. In her spare time, Caroline can be found trekking up a mountain or relaxing with her head in a book and hand in a box of chocolates.

Books by Caroline James:

Coffee Tea the Gypsy & Me

Coffee Tea the Chef & Me

Coffee Tea the Caribbean & Me Jungle Rock

The Best Boomerville Hotel

Hattie Goes to Hollywood

Website Twitter Facebook Amazon Author Page

Posted in Blog Tour, Book Review, Crime, Guest post, Thriller

Death at Eden’s End Jo Allen 4*#Review #DCI Jude Satterthwaite @JoAllenAuthor @Aria_Fiction @HoZ_Books #CrimeFiction #PoliceProcedural #Thriller #BlogTour #BookReview #GuestPost #Cumbria #EdenValley #LakeDistrict

A brand new DCI Jude Satterthwaite crime mystery from the bestselling Jo Allen.

When one-hundred-year-old Violet Ross is found dead at Eden’s End, a luxury care home hidden in a secluded nook of the Lake District’s Eden Valley it’s tragic, of course, but not unexpected. Except for the instantly recognisable look in her lifeless eyes… that of pure terror.

DCI Jude Satterthwaite heads up the investigation, but as the deaths start to mount up it’s clear that he and DS Ashleigh O’Halloran need to uncover a long-buried secret before the killer strikes again…

The second in the unmissable, Lake District-set, DCI Jude Satterthwaite series.

Amazon UK Kobo iBooks Google Play

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

My Thoughts…

Set in Cumbria, which always provides an atmospheric background for crime fiction, the second in the DCI Jude Satterthwaite series, provides an engaging police procedural, with a cast of characters worthy of any classic murder mystery.

The story begins with a violent death, and then whilst the reader is wondering what will happen next, the pace is slowed as the story switches to the police investigation team, two-members of which, are still emotionally damaged from past relationships. Their close proximity and the nature of their profession throws them together, but although attracted, they are reluctant to take things further.

In the midst of this inconvenient physical attraction, and elderly lady’s death is flagged up as suspicious, and the investigation that ensues draws the reader into the historic world of WW2, where the answers may lie.

The detailing and pacing of the story equate with the medley of murder mystery and police procedural. Similarly, to the first book in the series, the personal lives of the police team featured significantly, and much of this is introspective. This is an original aspect of this story, which identifies it.

The plot is good, and satisfactorily resolved, and each of the cast of characters has traits which make them believable and relatable. An absorbing balance of murder mystery and police procedural, with an interesting detective team.


#DCIJudeSatterthwaite #1

Read my review of Death by Dark Waters

Death at Eden’s End is the second in the DCI Satterthwaite series — and writing a series has been something of a challenge.

Before I began I’d mostly written either standalone novels or linked novels, which are essentially standalone but involve the same setting and the same characters. Writing a series in which the various characters’ lives unfold over a period of years is a whole different kettle of fish.

The main thing, as a writer, is to think of what the reader is looking for. With crime, you need a complete story with a satisfactory ending in which the villain gets caught — but in the lives of the detectives and their families and friends, it’s not so simple. These stories can take several books to reveal and with several characters, not all stories will be developing at the same time.

Jude is the main character in the DCI Satterthwaite series and his tribulations are years old. On the romantic side, there’s Becca, the ex-girlfriend who (despite what he pretends) he still loves and who poses an ever-present reminder of how he lets his job dominate his life, and there’s his colleague Ashleigh, who’s attractive and available but comes with complicated emotional baggage of her own in the shape of a possessive ex-husband who won’t let go. Then there’s Mikey, the much younger brother who’s going off the rails and for whom Jude is effectively a father-figure in lieu of their real father, from whom Mikey is entirely estranged. And there’s Adam, the former best friend who ended up in prison as a result of Jude’s unshakeable conscience and who will never forgive.

As a reader, I plan Jude’s story, and those of the other characters such as Ashleigh and Jude’s friend and colleague, the gay and quietly celibate Doddsy, well ahead. They take years of their lives and years of mine. But as a reader, I find it frustrating when a part of the story is left hanging.

In my experience, most readers are pretty tolerant. “I only wish there had been a bit more Jude/Ashleigh romance but I understand why it was so tame. Got to build into these things, right?” sighed one reviewer (who, by the way, gave it five stars). And it does seem by the reviews that many readers are only too happy to join these characters for a longer journey.

As a writer I want my readers to buy into the characters as much as I do. I hope that when you’ve finished reading Death at Eden’s End you’ll be satisfied by the way the criminal element of the plot is resolved and agog to find out how the Jude-Ashleigh-Becca relationship is resolved, whether Jude can manage to keep Mikey out of trouble — and how long Adam is prepared to wait for his revenge.

#JoAllen

Jo Allen was born in Wolverhampton and is a graduate of Edinburgh, Strathclyde and the Open University. After a career in economic consultancy, she took up writing and was first published under the name Jennifer Young in genres of short stories, romance and romantic suspense. In 2017 she took the plunge and began writing the genre she most likes to read – crime. Now living in Edinburgh, she spends as much time as possible in the English Lakes. In common with all her favourite characters, she loves football (she’s a season ticket holder with her beloved Wolverhampton Wanderers) and cats. Twitter Facebook

Posted in Blog Tour, Book Review, Crime, Guest post, Thriller

Death By Dark Waters – Jo Allen #BlogTour @Aria_Fiction @JoAllenAuthor #Crime #LakeDistrict #Cumbria #Detective #Guest Post -4 * #Review

The charred remains of a child are discovered – a child no one seems to have missed…

It’s high summer, and the lakes are in the midst of an unrelenting heat wave. Uncontrollable fell fires are breaking out across the moors faster than they can be extinguished. When firefighters uncover the body of a dead child at the heart of the latest blaze, Detective Chief Inspector Jude Satterthwaite’s arson investigation turns to one of murder.

Jude was born and bred in the Lake District. He knows everyone…and everyone knows him. Except his intriguing new Detective Sergeant, Ashleigh O’Halloran, who is running from a dangerous past and has secrets of her own to hide…

Temperatures – and tension – in the village are rising, and with the body, count rising Jude and his team race against the clock to catch the killer before it’s too late…

The first in the gripping, Lake District set, DCI Jude Satterthwaite series.

Amazon

iBooks

Google Play

 Kobo

Guest Post – Jo Allen – Death By Dark Waters – Turning to Crime

I used to be a romantic novelist. I suppose I still am. But I’ve always loved reading crime.

When I was younger I read Agatha Christie (possibly not that well-characterised but fantastic, page-turning plots); Dorothy Sayers (wonderful characters, superb writing but possibly a little dense); Ngaio Marsh (so dated now, but I did become engaged with her detective). I marvelled at the complicated plots and the twists in the tale. I really, really wanted to write that sort of thing, but it was just…too difficult.

I fell into a trap, I think, of believing that some genres were easier than others — romance was “easy” because it doesn’t need so many fiendish red herrings, for example — but I was wrong. Romance is just as difficult because although it appears formulaic you still have to create characters who keep the reader interested and you have a plot that depends not on what happens in the end (spoiler: it’s happy) but on how you get there.

My first novels, if you can call them that, were ‘crime’. There was a mystery about a stolen ruby and a less-than-probable tale about a Cold War plot in the skiing world cup. (There was also a one-act play about match-fixing in international cricket which eventually proved prescient.)

But these were all rubbish, truly poor, no research, terrible plotting…every mistake in the book. I moved on to things that didn’t really require research, or not in the same way. In 2014, after many rejections, I finally had my first novel, a romance, published. But even as I practised writing I was still reading crime and thrillers.

It was in 2017, in September as I recall, that I was wandering about in the Lake District musing on what to write next when it suddenly dawned on me. The tools for a successful book are the same whatever genre you write in. You need to be able to structure a plot, create a location and (probably most importantly) develop your characters. And on that walk, Death in Dark Waters was born, and I realised that, after all, I could write crime…

So now I can introduce you to DCI Jude Satterthwaite and his cases. The first of them, in Death by Dark Waters, begins with an unidentified dead body in a burning barn. Whodunnit? Read the book to find out…

Jo Allen was born in Wolverhampton and is a graduate of Edinburgh, Strathclyde and the Open University. After a career in economic consultancy, she took up writing and was first published under the name Jennifer Young in genres of short stories, romance and romantic suspense. In 2017 she took the plunge and began writing the genre she most likes to read – crime. Now living in Edinburgh, she spends as much time as possible in the English Lakes. In common with all her favourite characters, she loves football (she’s a season ticket holder with her beloved Wolverhampton Wanderers) and cats. Twitter Facebook

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


My Thoughts…

Set in the Cumbrian Lake District ‘Death By Dark Waters’ features a troubled Detective Chief Inspector – Jude Satterthwaite and his team as they investigate a death on the hills close to Haweswater. Forensically there is little to go on and the team have to rely on their detection skills to solve the crime.

Jude’s personal life is challenging, he is driven and seeks the control he needs, through his career, which is so lacking in his emotional life. Ashleigh O’Halloran, newly transferred from Cheshire, presents as a confident professional, not afraid to challenge her colleagues. She is a distraction for Jude who shies away from emotional ties.

There is a considerable amount of introspection and emotional angst, in this story, it is an unusual style for a crime novel but does give the story an original angle. The police procedural is believable and, the plot has enough suspects and twists to hold your attention. The pacing is slow but this is to be expected in a new series when characters have to be introduced and their motivations and flaws explored. The crime is grizzly but the descriptions aren’t overly explicit. Instead, the reader is allowed to imagine the scene.

The action really takes off halfway through the story, when a significant plot twist occurs. I thought I’d solved it, and I did guess who, but the motivation for the crime is sinister and twisted and not revealed until the end.

On balance, I empathise with the troubled detective and look forward to more crime solving.

Posted in Book Review

Blog Tour: The Accusation – Zosia Wand – Extract – 5* Review

Who would you choose if you had to – your daughter or your husband?

Eve lives in the beautiful Cumbrian town of Tarnside with her husband, Neil. After years of trying, and failing, to become parents, they are in the final stages of adopting four-year-old Milly. Though she already feels like their daughter, they just have to get through the ‘settling in’ period: three months of living as a family before they can make it official.

But then Eve’s mother, Joan, comes to stay. Joan has never liked her son-in-law. He isn’t right for Eve; too controlling, too opinionated. She knows Eve has always wanted a family but is Neil the best man to build one with?

Then Joan uncovers something that could smash Eve’s family to pieces…

Buy links:

Amazon UK

Amazon

Kobo

iBooks 

Google Play 

Extract

‘Why don’t we see what Milly does?’

What Milly does is admirable. She asks the girl politely if she can have the swing. The girl shakes her head, but she doesn’t get on the swing herself. She stands, holding it away from Milly.

I wait for Milly to turn to us for help, already rehearsing the scenario in my head. I will walk over, smiling. I will introduce myself and Milly to the girl and ask her name. I’ll suggest they sit on the swing together.

But Milly doesn’t turn around. What Milly does is to drop her head down and charge at the girl, knocking her backwards onto the loose wood chippings that form a protective layer over the tree roots and hard ground. Neil is the one to run forward, leaving me standing, gaping and useless. It’s Neil who dusts the girl down and leads her, sobbing, back to her grandmother, with Milly dragging along beside him protesting. ‘She maked me do it! She’s nasty!’ It’s Neil who insists Milly apologise.

‘Say sorry, Milly, or we will get straight back on the ferry and go home.’ His voice is firm and carries on the breeze. And he insists she repeat her apology, sincerely, before it is accepted.

I watch all this in horror. I do not know how to do this.

What would my mother have done? I try to imagine her here. She would be confident. She wouldn’t hesitate. She wouldn’t stand here like a lemon unable to move.

I watch the grandmother reassure Neil that it isn’t a problem. I watch her question her granddaughter. She’s quite stern. Is she asking her why she stopped Milly having the swing? Is she suggesting Milly isn’t the only one who needs to apologise? I can see she’s addressing both girls and they seem to be listening. As I watch, the older girl holds out her hand, and Milly takes it. They turn and skip back towards the playground together. For them, it’s all over. Neil says something to the grandmother, and she laughs.

I stand in the playground, watching Milly on the swing with her new friend, and I feel utterly alone. The ache is sudden and fierce. A need to see my mother. To be with her. I need to talk to her about Milly, to tell her everything that’s been going on, to share these feelings, these waves of emotion I hadn’t anticipated: love, joy, gratitude, delight, but also my fear. 

Loving someone, needing them so desperately, makes you vulnerable. You could lose them suddenly, brutally. When Neil’s away, I try not to imagine car crashes, random accidents. I’m not paranoid, I don’t sit fretting the moment he’s out of my sight, but sometimes the possibility that my happiness might end crashes in front of me. He feels it too; a call out of the blue, a need to hold tight for a moment.

It’s the price of love, that fear.

But loss comes in different shapes. It isn’t always solid and sudden; sometimes it trickles in. I’ve become a mother and now, more than ever, I need to talk to my own mother. And Milly needs her. Milly needs a grandmother. But I haven’t seen my mother for more than two years. She no longer speaks to me.

Neil swings back through the gate. ‘All sorted.’

‘I didn’t know what to do.’

He laughs but stops when he sees I’m serious and takes my hand. ‘Come on.’ He points to a small coffee van parked just the other side of the low playground fence. ‘He’s got a proper espresso machine.’ The van is within clear view. I follow him through the gate, glancing back to check on Milly. She waves from the swing as her new friend pushes her towards the sky.

As I warm my hands on the hot cup and sip the froth, watching Milly swing, I ask, ‘What if I was here on my own with her?’

My Thoughts…

Chillingly authentic, this story of adoption and family conflict shows that domestic abuse manifests in many ways and sometimes so subtly the victim is unaware of it until they have lost themselves completely.

Eve describes herself as a ‘glass half full’ person but she is always waiting for her happiness to be destroyed, something has made her this insecure and being under the spotlight as the adoption process draws to a close makes her seek support from an unlikely source. Neil loves Eve and their new daughter Milly, but he has secrets and areas of his life he can’t share this makes him vulnerable. Joan appears harmless, but she is manipulative and dangerous, blinkered she only sees one version of events, hers and makes a complex, sinister antagonist, a wolf in sheep’s clothing perhaps? The social workers Shona and Helen and the extended family and friends are all believable characters that enhance the story. 

Eve is a strong, decisive person in her work life, but in her personal life, she feels inadequate, leaning first on her mother and then her husband for emotional support. Her weakness is a crucial flaw and one she cannot escape until she has someone to fight for. Her character shows the most development in this story told from her point of view. She is frustrating, many times during the story I wanted her to be stronger and assert herself but she is a wholly convincing character who grows with each setback and becomes even stronger as she fights for her daughter and her family’s happiness.

An absorbing, realistic story, which sends chills down your spine because this could happen. If you enjoy domestic thrillers with a sinister twist, this is one to read.

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

Wand_Zosia_credit Mark Harrison, courtesy of the Westmorland Gazette

Zosia Wand is an author and playwright. She was born in London and lives in Cumbria with her family. She is passionate about good coffee, cake and her adopted landscape on the edge of the Lake District. Her first novel, Trust Me, was published by Head of Zeus in 2017.

Twitter: @zosiawand  Facebook: @zosiawand

 

 

 

 

Posted in Book Review

4*Review Dark Game (DI Kelly Porter#1) Rachel Lynch

cover127724-medium

‘Kelly’s gut turned over as she realised the danger she was in. She heard no sirens. She knew that she was simply collateral. To these men who made a lot of money from the suffering of others, they’d have no problem snuffing her out.’

After a scandal forces DI Kelly Porter out of the Met, she returns to her home turf in the Lake District. Crimes in the Cumbrian constabulary tend to be of the minor sort, but Kelly begins work on a cold case that shocked the local community – the abduction and brutal murder of ten-year-old Lottie Davies.

Meanwhile, Kelly is also investigating two seemingly straightforward crimes: a case involving an illegal immigrant, and a robbery following the death of local businessman Colin Day. But evidence comes to light that reveals a web of criminal activity beyond anything Kelly imagined. Behind the veneer of sleepy, touristy towns lies a dark and dangerous underworld. As Kelly threatens to expose those with much to lose, she risks paying the ultimate price to get to the truth…

Amazon UK

Amazon

My Thoughts…

Kelly Porter is a career-driven female detective, committed to giving the best to her job, regardless of the personal cost. After a spell in the Metropolitan Police force, she returns ‘under a cloud’, to her birthplace to regroup and heal, expecting the quiet life. She finds a professional team who are willing to give her a chance and more serious crime than she ever imagined possible in such a seemingly peaceful, picturesque setting.
I have spent many happy hours in Cumbria and the Lakes, and it was pleasant to revisit some of these in the well-described settings. The plot of this novel and many of the characters are in sharp contrast to the beauty of the surroundings.
I loved the female protagonist, Kelly Porter. Living in a competitive world hasn’t made her bitter, she’s just made sure she’s better than the rest. This positive trait is easy to empathise. She cares about her mother, her friends and the victims of crime and this compassionate quality is both a plus and a risk in her job.This story has many antagonists, some you don’t expect, and they are believable and complex.
There are many explicitly written gruesome events. For me, the violence was excessive and spoilt my enjoyment of the story. I appreciate these were hardened criminals, but I’m sure most readers could imagine the outcome, without having it so graphically described.
This story is full of detail, again I think a little less would have made it more readable but I’m sure some readers will enjoy this fact-packed read, which seems well researched. The story’s pacing is excellent and the short chapters, build the suspense.
In conclusion, this a good story with an interesting female lead and I look forward to reading what DI Kelly Porter does next. I received a copy of this book from Canelo via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.