Posted in Cover Reveal, Crime, Murder Mystery, New Books

OXFORD BLUES Andy Griffee #CoverReveal Johnson & Wilde Crime Mystery 3 @andygriffee @OrphansPublish #OxfordBlues #CrimeFiction #Canals #noir #secrets #preorder #July2021

Winter onboard a narrowboat can be a cold and lonely affair and Jack Johnson is keen to catch up with Nina Wilde, who has moved to Oxford to be near her niece, Anna, an undergraduate at the university, and rekindle the spark of their on-and-off relationship. However, Jack’s relief at seeing Nina is soon tempered. Rather than growing closer, they seem
to be drifting apart. Throwing himself into the search for a job, and the company of his new neighbours on the towpath of the River Isis, he’s soon distracted by the comings and goings on the nearby barges.

But then a young girl’s body is dragged up from Iffley Lock by magnet fishermen and Caleb Hopper her boyfriend, and a classmate of Anna’s falls under suspicion. Nina is determined to help the young man, a member of the prestigious Blues Boat rowing team, devastated by his girlfriend’s death. Jack is reluctantly pulled into the investigation in Nina’s wake. But at what price?

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ANDY GRIFFEE is a former BBC journalist and media consultant with a fascination for stories. He began his journalism career at the Bath Evening Chronicle and then spent twenty-five years at the BBC, culminating in his role as Editorial Director of the redevelopment of Broadcasting House.

Andy lives in Worcestershire and, when he isn’t writing, rears rare breed pigs, struggles to keep a 1964 Triumph Spitfire on the road and enjoys hiring narrowboats with his wife Helen.

Posted in Blog Tour, Book Review, Crime, Noir, Scandinavian Crime, Suspense

Sister #OsloDetectives Kjell Ola Dahl 4*#Review #Translator Don Bartlett @ko_dahl @OrendaBooks #RandomThingsTours @annecater #CrimeFiction #NordicNoir #BookReview #BlogTour #Crime #Sister

Suspended from duty, Detective Frølich is working as a private investigator, when his girlfriend’s colleague asks for his help with a female asylum seeker, who the authorities are about to deport. She claims to have a sister in Norway, and fears that returning to her home country will mean instant death.

Frølich quickly discovers the whereabouts of the young woman’s sister, but things become increasingly complex when she denies having a sibling, and Frølich is threatened off the case by the police. As the body count rises, it becomes clear that the answers lie in an old investigation, and the mysterious sister, who is now on the run…

A dark, chilling and up-to-the-minute Nordic Noir thriller, Sister is also a tense and well-plotted murder mystery with a moving tragedy at its heart

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

My Thoughts…

‘Sister’ is atmospheric, complex and well-paced Nordic noir. Frølich, currently suspended from his detective role in Oslo, is making a living as a PI. Wondering where his next case will come from, a friend of a friend asks him to look for an asylum seeker’s sister. The search leads to connections with a cold case, a mystery woman who denies having a sister, and an increasing body count. The plot is multi-layered, with many twists and misinformation. The suspense builds with each connection and event. Frølich finds his skills much in demand, even though he’s warned against pursuing his investigation by the police.

Sister is addictive nordic noir, with a realistic investigation and insightful psychological suspense.

Kjell Ola Dahl

One of the fathers of the Nordic Noir genre, Kjell Ola Dahl was born in
1958 in Gjøvik. He made his debut in 1993, and has since published eleven novels, the most prominent of which is a series of police procedurals cum psychological thrillers featuring investigators Gunnarstranda and Frølich. In 2000 he won the Riverton Prize for The Last Fix and he won both the prestigious Brage and Riverton Prizes for The Courier in 2015. His work has been published in 14 countries, and he lives in Oslo

Posted in Book Review

4*Review: Stalker – Lisa Stone


Someone is always watching…

Derek Flint is a loner. He lives with his mother and spends his
evenings watching his clients on the CCTV cameras he has installed inside their homes. He likes their companionship – even if it’s through a screen.

When a series of crimes hit Derek’s neighbourhood, DC Beth Mayes begins to suspect he’s involved. How does he know so much about the victims’ lives? Why won’t he let anyone into his office? And what is his mother hiding in that strange, lonely house?

As the crimes become more violent, Beth must race against the clock to find out who is behind the attacks. Will she uncover the truth in time? And is Derek more dangerous than even she has guessed? 

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My Thoughts…

Reading the blurb to this techno-thriller, you would be forgiven for thinking you are about to read a 21st-Century ‘Psycho’ but don’t be fooled.

A convoluted plot takes you in one direction in an almost predictable way but then leads you down an even darker road before reaching an action-filled conclusion. Even with all the twists, it’s the characters rather than the plot’s complexity that make this a readable thriller.

Derek Flint, a loner, still living with his mother is a voyeur but does he do more than watch? Initially, it appears that Derek is not a good person, but as the story progresses, you discover he is more naive than evil, but he still has the key to the crime wave hitting his hometown. Detective Constables Beth and Matt have a good team dynamic, and they’re a credible police presence in the novel.

Well researched crime description with believable characters that develop within the plot’s sinister ethos, created by cleverly built suspense. An original  21st- century angle on the Stalker trope.

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





Posted in Book Review

Blog Tour: Tell No Lies – Lisa Hartley Extract and 5* Review

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Now they’re coming after Caelan’s team…

A tortured body is found in a basement. Drug dealing and people smuggling is on the rise. Then police start going missing.

There seems to be no connection between the crimes, but Detective Caelan Small senses something isn’t right.

Plunged into a new investigation, lives are on the line. And in the web of gangs, brothels and nerve-shattering undercover work, Caelan must get to the truth – or be killed trying.

And then there’s Nicky… 

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‘Caelan Small stood by the window, staring up at the sky. Still dark, dawn beginning to send a yellow and red glow across the horizon. The window was double-glazed, doing its best to mask the sound of the London traffic thundering by beyond, but not wholly succeeding. She turned away, closed the curtains. On the bed, the colours of the screen glaring bright against the plain white duvet cover, her phone began to ring again. She stepped closer, checked the caller’s name. Shook her head and ignored the call. The fourth from the same number in as many hours.

‘Take the hint, Nicky,’ she muttered. Eventually, they would have to talk, but not yet. The pain was too raw, too vivid. This was a new kind of heartbreak, one Caelan had no idea how to process. She lifted a hand to her bruised cheek, touched the dressing protecting the wound on her temple. The stitches itched, and she fought the urge to tear off the bandage. She needed clean clothes but would have to buy them. Everything she owned was back at the flat in Rotherhithe, and she wouldn’t be returning there anytime soon. She also needed to eat, though she wasn’t the least bit hungry. Her time was her own; her only instruction to rest and recover. Her injuries would take time to heal, and as for the resting, she had struggled to sleep for more than a few minutes. The ache in her chest had nothing to do with her cuts and bruises.

Her phone was ringing again. Irritated, Caelan snatched it up, glared at the screen. A different name, but someone else she didn’t want to speak to. She sat on the bed, then lay back, the phone still squawking beside her. As a shrill beep informed her that the caller had left a voicemail, Caelan closed her eyes.

‘No answer.’ Assistant Commissioner Elizabeth Beckett shook her head as she set her phone down.

Across the table, Detective Nicky Sturgess bowed her head.

‘I’m not surprised. When she left last night—’

‘She was shocked and in pain. I understand. She’d had a difficult day. All the more reason for her to answer her phone this morning. I told her I’d be in touch.’

‘She’s hurt, ma’am. Emotionally as well as physically. In hindsight, me turning up unannounced wasn’t the best move.’

Beckett held up a hand. ‘Regardless, we need her here. Your personal relationship is irrelevant.’

Nicky looked up, folded her arms. ‘Except if that were true, Caelan would be answering her phone.’

‘You told me you wanted to get straight back out into the field.’

‘And I do.’

‘You know you can’t go back to Edmonton, especially now.’

‘Why not? Who’s going to remember me?’

‘We can’t take the risk.’

‘What aren’t you telling me?’

Beckett’s lips thinned. ‘As I explained to you last night when you were released from the safe house, we have a major scandal to contain. If the press found out one of own officers was responsible for the murder of a ten-year-old child…’

‘I see how it could be awkward.’ Nicky’s voice was ice. Beckett stared at her.

‘It’s not your concern. I had considered sending both you and Caelan to Edmonton to pick up where you left off.’

Nicky snorted. ‘I’m sure she’d be delighted. Why both of us?’

‘It’s a complex operation.’

‘No more than most.’ Nicky inclined her head. ‘Ma’am…’

Beckett tapped a fingernail on the table, considering. ‘I think it would be best if we talked again later.’

Nicky got to her feet. She pushed her chair under the table, gripping the back of it tightly. ‘You mean you want to ask Caelan whether she’ll work with me?’

Beckett shot a warning glance. ‘Not at all.’

‘And there’s me thinking you were in charge.’

‘We’ll speak later, Detective Sturgess.’

Contempt clear in her expression, Nicky strode from the room.

When she woke several hours later, Caelan listened to the voicemail. She slid off the bed and paced over to the window as she waited for Beckett to answer.

‘Caelan. How are you? Good of you to find the time to call.’

She paused, rubbing her forehead. So this was how Beckett was going to play it. ‘How’s Ewan?’

‘Two cracked ribs, bruising. He’s at home, like you.’

‘I’m on leave on your instruction. Take a couple of weeks, you said.’

A sharp exhalation. ‘I remember.’

‘And after I arrived home last night, I had an unexpected visitor.’ Caelan swallowed, the words catching in her throat. ‘I’m sure you can guess who it was.’

Beckett hesitated. ‘It came as a surprise.’

‘You think?’

‘As I’m sure you can understand, Nicky’s sudden disappearance was necessary, for her own protection.’

‘It was cruel. Did you even think about her family? You didn’t have to—’

‘I had no other option. And when you’ve calmed down, had time to absorb it, you’ll see it was the right decision.’

‘With respect, ma’am, I doubt it.’

‘Almost everyone else connected to the case is dead. Nicky going into hiding saved her. Remember that.’ Beckett’s voice was devoid of emotion.

‘I’m not likely to forget.’

‘We need to meet.’

‘Why?’ Caelan turned from the window. She had walked away from the Met once. Maybe it was time to do so again.

‘We have a… situation developing,’ said Beckett.

‘You said you didn’t want to see me for a couple of weeks. That was less than twenty-four hours ago.’

‘I know, but there was an incident this morning. I’d like to discuss it with you.’

‘What’s happened? Is this about Nasenby?’

‘I’m not going to talk about it over the phone. Are you at home?’

‘Home?’ Caelan laughed. ‘I don’t have a home.’

‘What? But you—’

‘Turns out I didn’t inherit the apartment after all. I’m sure you can figure out why.’ Caelan tried to keep the bitterness from her tone, but it was there all the same. There was a silence as Beckett thought about it. It didn’t last long.

‘Then where are you?’ No sympathy, no warmth. Standard Beckett. Yesterday, when Caelan had identified and confronted a killer, been beaten and hospitalised by him, her boss had been concerned, courteous. Almost friendly. Today, she was back to cool and detached.

Caelan rubbed her eyes. ‘A hotel.’

‘I’ll come to you.’

‘I’m going to go out to get some food.’ Caelan picked up her bag. Waited.

Another sigh. ‘Fine. I’ll meet you. Where?’’

My Thoughts… 

It took me a few chapters to get into this story, probably because it was the first Detective Caelan Small novel I’ve read. Undercover police work is both physically and mentally demanding on the people who do it. They are effectively living a lie, and this must have an often catastrophic effect on their personal lives and relationships.

Caelen is a believable, likeable character who makes you want to read what happens next. Mislead about the fate of her partner, Nicky, Caelen feels betrayed and vulnerable. It is questionable whether she is in the right mental state to go undercover again, but circumstances dictate, and she finds herself working amid people traffickers and drug dealers in the wake of two horrific murders.

The fast-paced, detailed plot is cleverly written, with lots of action and crime, without the need for graphic violence. The vividly depicted characters and authentic settings draw you in making this an absorbing read. The story ends on a note of finality, but I hope this isn’t the end for Detective Caelen Small.

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

Author Photograph

Lisa Hartley lives with her partner, son, two dogs and several cats. She graduated with a BA (Hons) in English Studies, then had a variety of jobs but kept writing in her spare time. She is currently working on the next DS Catherine Bishop novel, as well as a new series with Canelo.

 Twitter:   @rainedonparade