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

Forgive and Forget Stephanie Harte 4*#Review @Aria_Fiction @HoZ_Books @StephanieHarte3 #ganglit #crimefiction #thriller #Essex #organisedcrime #BlogTour #BookReview #ForgiveandForget

It’s now or never for Gemma, will she finally be able to step away from a life of crime?

Mob boss Alfie has new rivals in town – and they might be more than a match for the Essex gangster. Between defending his turf, appeasing his crime lord father and holding onto the woman of his dreams, Alfie knows that something’s got to give…

Nathan’s recovering from his coma and trying to come to terms with his wife’s bombshell secret – that her son Luca was fathered by Alfie. Unconvinced of Gemma’s loyalty, he turns to his estranged ex-con father for help…

Gemma will do anything to give her son a normal life – and she’s surprised to find she has unexpected allies. But when the moment of truth arrives, can she trust Nathan to protect her and Luca?

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

My Thoughts…

The final instalment in this gangland thriller is addictive, intense and revengeful. Gemma regrets her mistake with Alfie, although she loves Luca, her son. Nathan survives his coma, but will he survive recuperation at Alfie’s secluded home? Alfie’s world threatens to implode from all sides whilst Gemma tries to save her family.

Told from the three protagonists points of view, the reader experiences their fears and motivations. The characters are realistic, and the plot gritty with suspenseful twists.

Stephanie Harte

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

Read my review of Risking it All

Read my review of Tangled Lives

Posted in Blog Tour, Book Review, Crime, Excerpt, Extract, Family Drama, Noir, Suspense

The Stolen Child Alex Coombs 5*#Review @AlexHowardCrime @BoldwoodBooks #CrimeFiction #DIHanlon #London #Essex #TheStolenChild #noircrime #BlogTour #BookReview @rararesources #Extract #boldwoodbloggers

Meet DI Hanlon. A woman with a habit of breaking the rules and a fierce loyalty to the few people she respects.


Her boss, Corrigan. Looks like a street copper promoted above his ability. Underestimate him at your peril.

Enver Demirel. Known in the boxing ring as Iron Hand. Now soft and gone to seed. But he would do anything for Hanlon.

When the kidnap of a 12-year-old boy blows the case of some missing children wide apart, the finger is pointing at the heart of the Met.

Corrigan sends in the only cop in his team who is incorruptible enough to handle it – Hanlon.

And then he sends Demirel to spy on her…

Once you start the DI Hanlon series, you won’t be able to put it down.

This book was previously published as Time To Die by Alex Howard.

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

My Thoughts…

I’ve read a couple of this author’s later books featuring this character, and it’s interesting to explore her past career as a Detective Inspector in the Metropolitan Police. DI Hanlon is dedicated, effective and uncontrollable. If you were a crime victim, you would want her as your Senior Investigating officer.

Set in the second decade of the twenty-first century the story’s subject matter is contemporary and disturbing, parts are harrowing to read but integral to moving the story forward and showing Hanlon’s motivations. Hanlon is an advocate of justice rather than an upholder of the law and easy to empathise. Several investigations are running concurrently in this character-driven story. It focuses on Hanlon and how she is affected by the cases and her subsequent involvement.

The ending is fast-paced, gritty and ultimately satisfying.

Extract from The Stolen Child – Alex Coombs

The compact, concrete shape of the World War Two gun emplacement crouched, hunkered down into the shallow, gravelly soil above the beach on the Essex side of the Thames Estuary near Southend. It overlooked the wide, grey shallow waters on whose far side lay the Isle of Grain and Sheerness. Hanlon guessed it was somewhere out there in those cold, steely waters that the proposed island airport for London might one day take shape. She thought, fleetingly, it would be a pity in a way if it happened. The North Sea waters had a chilly quality that she found rather beautiful. She looked around her slowly, the sky above enormous after London’s claustrophobic horizons. A heron stood on a boulder near the beach, shrugging its wings like an old lady arranging a shawl around her shoulders. Cormorants bobbed along on top of the water and she could see guillemots, their wings folded back like dive-bombers, thundering into the water. The calls of the birds floated towards her on the stiff sea breeze.      

     The tarmac track that led down from the main road above them was old, cracked and weed-grown. The ex-army building’s pitted, grey, artificial stone surface was now camouflaged with yellow, cream and blue-grey lichens and grey-green moss, so that it seemed almost organic, a part of the landscape like a strangely symmetric rock formation. There was a fissured, concrete apron next to the bunker and Hanlon pulled up adjacent to the large, white Mercedes van that she guessed belonged to the forensics team, then got out of her car. She stood for a moment by her Audi and closed her eyes. She felt the cold, fresh sea air against her skin and the breeze tugged at her shoulder-length dark hair. She could smell the metallic warmth of her car engine and the salt tang of the sea. The sound of the small waves breaking on the stony beach a hundred metres or so away were nearly drowned out by the throbbing of the generator next to the Mercedes. She could hear the keening of seagulls, much louder now, wheeling above in the sky. Hanlon stretched the powerful, sinewy muscles in her shoulders and arms and opened her eyes, which were as expressionless as the North Sea in front of her. She looked out over the water, feeling its call. Hanlon loved swimming in the open sea. Earlier that morning, at 6 a.m., she had swum for a steady hour in her local swimming pool, but pool swimming was nothing compared to real salt water. She guessed at this time of year the temperature would be only two or three degrees, colder than a fridge. That wouldn’t deter her. 

     She could taste its saltiness, carried to her lips by the wind.

     A red power cable looped its way from the generator through the heavy, open metal door of the bunker. The door was rusted and pitted by time and the elements, but still substantial. Hanlon stepped over the line of police crime-scene tape that secured the area, blowing like bunting in the sea breeze, and approached the building. Earlier that day, the place would have been bustling with her colleagues from Essex. Now the uniforms had gone and the outside of the bunker, included in the search area, reopened. She didn’t go inside through the forbidding-looking portal designed, she guessed, to be blast-proof, but walked instead along the side wall until she came to one of its long, slit windows that overlooked the beach and the far horizon.

Alex Coombs

Alex Coombs studied Arabic at Oxford and Edinburgh Universities and went on to work in adult education and then retrained to be a chef. He has written four well reviewed crime novels as Alex Howard.

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Posted in Author Interview, Blog Tour, Book Review, Crime, Family Drama

The Bad Place M.K.Hill 4*#Review @markhillwriter @HoZ_Books @Aria_Fiction #PoliceProcedural #DISashaDawson #Author Interview #CrimeFiction #Essex #BookReview

The newspapers called it The Bad Place. A remote farm out on the Thames estuary, where six children were held captive for two weeks. Five of them got out alive.

That was twenty years ago. Now, adults, they meet up annually to hold a candlelit vigil for their friend who died. The only rule is that no-one can talk about what happened the night they escaped. But at this year’s event, one of them witnesses a kidnapping. A young girl, Sammi, is bundled into a van in front of their eyes.

Is history repeating itself? Is one of them responsible? Or is someone sending them a twisted message?

DI Sasha Dawson, of Essex Police, is certain that the key to finding Sammi lies in finding out the truth about The Bad Place. But she also knows that with every second she spends trying to unlock the past, the clock ticks down for the missing girl…

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

My Thoughts…

The recent trend in police procedurals, is towards female detectives, with a family. This reflects twenty-first-century policing and is a welcome change from the hard-boiled male detectives, who often come across as cliched and stereotypical. DI Sasha Dawson has reached her rank, by dedication, intelligence, sacrifice and tenacity. She is a mother and a wife, and like most professional women suffers from the constant guilt of juggling her home and work life.

The story plays out in dual timelines, one historic, which provides the story with its dramatic beginning. It introduces Sasha Dawson, as a probationary police officer. The second, present-day timeline, brings the survivors of a traumatic event together in an annual ritual. One witnesses an abduction, reminiscent of what happened to them, and the plot begins its shocks and twists to an unexpected conclusion.

This is a good police procedural, which allows the reader glimpses into the lives of the suspects, police and victims. This coupled with its flawed and realistic characters gives the story its authentic feel. DI Dawson is a compassionate woman who wants to make a positive difference, and this reflects in the story’s ethos.

A great start, to what promises to be an addictive series.

#MKHill

It’s nice to see you here, thanks for coming. 

I’ve been a journalist and an award-winning music radio producer. I worked for about five minutes in PR. But I write the Drake and Crowley thriller series now, which is just as well because I love writing. It’s my dream job.

If you enjoyed His First Lie or It Was Her, do get in touch. There are plenty of ways to do it! 

It’s nice to see you here, thanks for coming. 

I’ve been a journalist and an award-winning music radio producer. I worked for about five minutes in PR. But I write the Drake and Crowley thriller series now, which is just as well because I love writing. It’s my dream job.

If you enjoyed His First Lie or It Was Her, do get in touch. There are plenty of ways to do it!  Facebook Twitter Instagram

 Interview with – M.K. Hill- The Bad Place

Is this story inspired by a real event or an imaginative creation?

The Bad Place is all made up! I’m afraid my mind tends towards the dark and twisted. I wanted to write about a group of characters who went through a very traumatic experience together and who came out the other side, but who may – or may not – be responsible for the death of one of their own.

This story is the first in your DI Sasha Dawson series, what characteristics are important to include to make your detective memorable? Do they need to be likeable too?

My first priority when I sat down to write The Bad Place was to make Sasha likeable. A lot of police novels make their protagonists interesting by giving them a dark secret or addictions, or to make them driven and obsessed, and I really wanted to write about someone who was just, you know – nice. I love a dark protag myself, I’ve got my own maverick detective in DI Ray Drake, who has so far appeared in my novels His First Lie and It Was Her. But I really wanted to go in the opposite direction with Sasha and make her optimistic, friendly and respected by her team. Of course, Sasha isn’t perfect, she’s often distracted by her chaotic home life and her timekeeping ain’t so good. But she’s quietly determined and wants the best for people, she’s someone you’d really want on your side in a fix. We’re all attracted to compelling characters, but I don’t think nice people in detective fiction have to be boring, and Sasha (I hope) is proof of that.

When you write, what comes first, the characters, the plot or the setting? Why do you think this is?

I think it’s a combination of both. You need a good hook for a book – adult survivors of an abduction fear the kidnappings have started again – but if you’re writing a series you also need a cast of recurring characters that people can get to know over time. And because Sasha has more of a sunny disposition, it felt right to place her in a sunny place, which is why she and her team solve crime on the Thames estuary. That part of Essex has huge potential for lots of crime fictiony fun. Sasha’s second investigation will feature my version of a certain TV reality show phenomenon…

What made you decide to become a writer and why does this genre appeal to you?

I love my life as an author and I wouldn’t change it for the world. I grew up reading genre fiction  – crime, fantasy and science-fiction – and always wanted to write a series of my own. It’s such a thrill – and frankly a relief – to be able to say I’ve delivered three crime books, with another one on the way. I write crime fiction because it’s the perfect way of setting a fire under the bottoms of my characters, getting them into massive trouble and then – sometimes, if they’re lucky – getting them out of it.

What sort of books do you enjoy reading and why?

I’ll read anything, really. I’ll always have a book or a device on me. I read a lot of crime, obviously, but I try to change it up. Recent reads include books by Lisa Jewell, Blake Crouch, Kate Atkinson, Rosie Walsh, Taylor Jenkins Reid and Jonathan Coe.

What’s the best thing about being a writer and the worst?

There are so many good things about being a writer. You can write what you want, where you want. You can drink a lot of coffee – the cafes in my local area have made a mint out of me. It’s fun and cathartic to send your characters to some very bad places. But you also have an important responsibility to your book. You carry it around in your head for a year or so, and at inopportune moments it will transmit to you from a deep place inside of you. And when it wants your attention, it will not be ignored, so prepared to get very distracted at all times of the day and night. In the middle of a conversation, say, or a movie or an important meeting.

Posted in Blog Tour, Book Review, Contemporary Fiction, Family Drama, Humour

Henry’s Tale David Pipe 4*#Review @dfpwriter #borderterrier #DogsLife #Humour #Essex #Dogs #BlogTour #BookReview @rararesources

#HenrysTale

Henry Ford, the cutest Border terrier puppy, lives with his papa Alan and mama Jenny. Alan loves his job, playing golf and above all, Henry. Jenny loves designer clothes, handbags and shoes. She doesn’t love Henry. When Jenny insists on a week of high life on Majorca, Henry’s world takes a nosedive.

An attempted dognap and a traumatic stay in the veterinary clinic leave Henry a sad and confused puppy. Desperately lonely he sets off on an adventure with his friend Bully, a streetwise Essex bulldog, where he meets the beautiful Paula and for the first time experiences the heartbreak of puppy love.

Back at home, his mama and papa’s marriage is on the rocks – will Alan agree to Jenny’s ultimatum? Will he choose Jenny or Henry?

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

My Thoughts…

Definitely one for anyone who has shared their life with a dog. This is a lovely coming of age tale, about Henry, the Border Terrier, whose comfy life is interrupted at six months old, when his mama and papa go on a marriage mending holiday.

Everything is told from Henry’s point of view, through his human ghostwriter of course, and it is a funny, irreverent and often poignant read. The dog characters are well- written, and their adventures are exciting and full of humour. The human characters are a little stereotypical, but who knows how our dog friends see us?

This story highlights many human issues; crime, homelessness, mental health, prejudice and violence, but the general ethos of the story is positive and heartwarming.

#DavidPipe/Henry

David Pipe was born in 1949 in a small Essex village. He attended a local grammar school, then the University of Hull where he took a B.Sc in chemistry. He worked in the pharmaceutical industry in England and South Africa before studying for a PhD in organic chemistry at Imperial College. After spells at universities in Geneva and Mulhouse he joined the oil industry in Germany where, aged 53, he gratefully took a redundancy package. Following a period of self-employment he wound down his business, eventually giving it up to scratch the writing itch which has produced Sacrificing Starlight, a timely reminder of the risks our children face and Henry’s Tale, where ghostwriting for his furry friend he describes the emotional growth of a puppy on the rollercoaster of life, compressed into a few weeks because puppies learn faster than their staff.

When he’s not writing David spends his time travelling, reading, swimming and jogging. He is married and lives in Hamburg with his wife and their Border terrier Henry. Twitter Facebook

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Posted in Book Review, Crime, Thriller

5* #Review – The Sting – Kimberley Chambers @HarperFiction @HarperCollinsUK @fictionpubteam

TWO CHILDHOOD FRIENDS

Best friends Tommy Boyle and Scratch always had each other’s backs. Dragged up in care, and cruelly betrayed by everyone they trusted, they made a pact to fight their way out of the gutter – together.

TWO SIDES OF THE LAW

Old loyalties die hard on the streets of London. Tommy throws his lot in with the notorious Darling family – even if it means leaving Scratch to the wolves. She’s destined for a different path, reinventing herself as copper Kim Regan.

ONE DEADLY SHOWDOWN

Now they’re on opposite sides of the law. Running Operation Sting, Kim will rip the heart out of the Darling’s empire – and only her old pal Tommy stands in her way.

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

My Thoughts…

What I love about this story is the author lets you live your characters’ lives, and find out what made them the people they are, before launching into the present day story.

 Set in the seventies and eighties, Tommy and Scratch’s lives are full of tragedy, finding each other is the only light in their dark, young lives. Then events take over and instead of them against the world, they find they’re pitted against each other.

The characters are believable but not always likeable. The motivation for their actions is always clear. This story does highlight the horror of child abuse, which is never an easy subject to read, but it is dealt with sensitively. The abuse the two main characters suffer is integral to their future character development and initially defines the adults they become.

‘The Sting’ is cleverly written, with a unique mix of poignancy and violence. Tommy is an anti-hero and a victim of abuse. The story doesn’t end well, it couldn’t with such a believable plot, but there is hope for some and a lovely twist at the end.