One day in summer, three lives are about to change forever.
After two decades of looking after others, this is the day that Agnetha McMaster is reclaiming her life. It’s her turn, her time but will she have the courage to start again?
Ten years ago, Mitchell McMaster divorced Agnetha and married her best friend, Celeste. Now he suspects his second wife is having an affair. This is the day he’ll discover if karma has come back to bite him.
Thanks to a DNA test, this is the day that Hope McTeer will finally meet her biological father. But will the reunion bring Hope the answers that she’s looking for?
Three people. Twenty-four hours. A lifetime of secrets to unravel.
I received a copy of this book from Boldwood Books via NetGalley in return for an honest review.
This is a heartwarming story, focusing on three individuals, one day in Summer. It’s a story of family, loss and love. How life changes you until sometimes, you don’t recognise the person you’ve become.
The story takes place in a day with flashbacks to the past. Family life, marriage breakdown, betrayal and love are explored, through the eyes of Agnetha, Mitchell and Hope. The multi-person point of view, over a set period, is part of the author’s unique style, and it works well.
The characters are believable and relatable. The emotional day takes the reader on a rollercoaster of ups and downs. There’s an uplifting ethos despite the setbacks which gives you hope that there’s always a second chance if you’re brave enough to take it.
Shari Low is the #1 bestselling author of over 20 novels, including One Day In Winter and With Or Without You and a collection of parenthood memories called Because Mummy Said So. She lives near Glasgow and her first title for Boldwood was My One Month Marriage in January 2020.
Life, Death and Time Travel on the Glasgow Subway…
When selfish student Daisy trashes her stepdad’s funeral, she gets blind drunk and wakes up on the Glasgow subway to find she has travelled back in time. To make amends for her behaviour, she must save a life—but she doesn’t know who, how, or where to begin. She’ll have to find out fast if she wants to make it back to her old life and avoid being trapped in the wrong timeline forever.
This novel was awarded one of the first Scots Language Publication Grants funded by the Scottish Government and administered by the Scottish Book Trust.
Publication Date: 5th November 2020
ISBN: Paperback 978-1-911279-77-8
Ross Sayers grew up in Stirling and now lives in Edinburgh. He’s still finding his way around. His debut novel, Mary’s the Name was released in 2017 and was shortlisted for the Saltire First Book Award. He’s currently working on a sequel to one of his books… You can tweet him @Sayers33
“I JUST NEED TO KNOW…WHICH ONE OF YOU SLEPT WITH MY HUSBAND?”
My One Month Marriage – Shari Low
You know that “till death do us part” bit in the wedding vows? Well, Zoe Danton believed it. One month after she said “I do”, the man she loved is gone, given his marching orders after Zoe discovered a devastating secret.
As teenagers facing a crushing loss, Zoe made a pact with her three sisters to stick together no matter what. Now she’s discovered that one of them may have been the reason her husband betrayed her. She’s lost her happy-ever-after, but has she lost a sister too?
I received a copy of this book from Boldwood Books via NetGalley in return for an honest review.
Not the most uplifting of titles, but certainly one that starts you turning the pages. Whilst Zoe’s unfortunately short marriage draws you into this story, what you find within the pages is an excellent family drama, full of emotions, laughter, lies, loss and secrets and many poignant moments that make you think.
The characters and setting are authentic and relatable, and despite the different viewpoints and timescales, it’s easy to read. You care about the characters, whilst experiencing a gamut of emotions with them.
Zoe and her three sisters are close especially after the loss they suffered as young girls. The family drama affected each of them in differing ways as they coped with it, and the resultant women are on the surface strikingly different personalities. This is a complex story, moving between the sisters’ points of view and the past and present. You learn what has made them into the women they are, and the connection they have Zoe’s failed marriage.
Some of the storylines are repeated, seen from a different point of view, but this part of this author’s writing style and is not a negative, but a way to see why the characters are motivated to act as they do.
A lovely story of family and sisters and learning to let go of the past.
Extract from My One Month Marriage – Shari Low
But back to the point. Yvie and Marina are right. If I worked anywhere else – the Civil Service, Top Shop, NASA – then none of this would have happened.
And to quote everyone in the entire history of the world who ever messed up, I just wish I could go back in time and change so many things.
In fact, right now I’d settle for just understanding what has happened to my life because there are still so many questions. So many uncertainties.
My phone buzzes and I stretch over a ceramic planter in the shape of a pair of wellies (from Auntie Geraldine – she has a picture of Alan Titchmarsh on her kitchen wall) to retrieve it from the table beside the sofa.
Marina’s heels click into the room and in my peripheral vision I can see that she slides elegantly into the armchair by the window, plate of sushi in hand.
The name at the top of the notification makes my anxiety soar. Roger Kemp. Sadly, no relation to anyone who was ever a member of Spandau Ballet. Or that slightly scary bloke who played Grant Mitchell in EastEnders and now makes documentaries about criminal gangs and serial killers.
With a shaking thumb, I swipe open the message.
Roger Kemp is a friend and client, the director of a hotel chain that employs our agency for all its marketing needs. After the proverbial hit the fan, I’d asked him for a favour. A slightly underhand, confidentiality-breaching, possibly borderline-illegal favour. With a bit of luck, the bloke that makes the documentaries about true crime won’t find out about it.
I’d asked Roger to check on who paid for a room in one of his hotels last weekend, on the night that my husband broke his vows only thirty days after making them. You know, that fairly insignificant one about being faithful in good times and bad. You see, I know it wasn’t my husband because he’d put his credit cards in my handbag that evening, so it must have been someone else. The other woman.
The thought forces me to take another swig of the unidentifiable pink cocktail.
Anyway, the favour I’d requested of Roger would mean asking someone in his financial team to pull up the credit card records and sharing the sordid details with me.
Now I stare in disbelief at the answer, typed right there on the screen of my phone.
Shari Low is the #1 bestselling author of over 20 novels, including One Day In Winter and With Or Without You and a collection of parenthood memories called Because Mummy Said So. She lives near Glasgow and her first title for Boldwood will be My One Month Marriage in January 2020.
Glasgow, 1972. Michael Mitchell
is ambitious, talented and determined to succeed. But he learns the hard way
that he will never achieve his goals in life – unless he plays by a different
set of rules.
He partners with a small-time crook to help the Glasgow underworld launder the proceeds of
their crimes. As the operation grows, Michael is forced to become more and more
ruthless to protect what he has built.
Shocked by who he has become, he
vows to leave the criminal world behind and start a new life. But the past has
a way of catching up. Finally, he gambles everything on one last desperate
attempt to break free.
I received a copy of this book from the author in return for an honest review.
Set in Glasgow in the 1970s, this story’s ethos is gritty and full of moral dilemmas. Michael is a hard worker and he wants to succeed, but his efforts are overlooked, and soon he uses his powerful intelligence to become successful in a less orthodox way.
Like the author’s previous book set in 1970s Glasgow and London, Love’s Long Road, this story has excellent characters, a clever plot and you constantly question Michael’s choices, there are so many grey areas,
The pacing is fast, and there is a good balance of action, dialogue and introspection. The setting once again steals the show for me, it encompasses the desperation of the 1970s, a time of high unemployment, and the demise of British industry like coal, shipbuilding and steel. When for many crime was the only way out of poverty.
A good, thought-provoking thriller.
I was placed third in the 2015 Lightship Prize for first-time authors, won a 2016 Wishing Shelf Award Red Ribbon, been shortlisted at the UK Festival of Writing for Best First Chapter, longlisted in the 2017 UK Novel Writing Competition.
In 2017, I was one of twelve authors selected for Authors in the Spotlight at the Bloody Scotland book festival in Stirling, showcasing who they considered to be the best emerging talent in crime fiction, and was the only self-published author to be chosen. I have spoken at numerous other book events, including Blackwells’ Writers at the Fringe at the Edinburgh Festival Fringe; a stand-alone slot at the Byres Road Book Festival in Glasgow, and the Aye Write! Book Festival, also in Glasgow.
I went to Glasgow University in 1975 and lived in the city’s West End, the time and place for the setting of the majority of Love’s Long Road.
Glasgow, 1975. How do you cope when your boyfriend kills himself because of you?
WhenBobbie Sinclair’s boyfriend commits suicide and blames her, she vows never to love again. Instead, she chooses to lead a double existence, kind-hearted by day and promiscuous by night. She increasingly struggles to maintain the balance between light and dark and soon finds herself sucked into the world of a controlling and ruthless crime lord from which she must escape.
Set against a vibrant but seedy 1970s Glasgow backdrop, Love’s Long Road plots Bobbie’s desperate plight. Starting a new life but constantly afraid of her past catching up with her, she battles danger, adversity and drug addiction on the long and perilous road back to love.
Love’s Long Road is about dealing with the guilt of terrible events in your past and the risk of being corrupted by the world around you; it is a story that captures to perfection what it was like to be young and single in the 1970s.
I received a copy of this book from the author in return for an honest review.
Whilst this type of story is not new, it is given a unique interpretation by the author, told from Bobbie’s point of view in the first person. The reader sees the world, and the decisions she makes, through her eyes. This gives this story undeniable originality.
Bobbie is a young, naive woman, riddled with guilt when her boyfriend who she recently broke up with kills himself. She attends his funeral out of respect but feels so responsible for his death that she feels she shouldn’t be there.
What follows, is a painful journey of self-recrimination and ultimately, self-awareness. Her indiscriminate one-night stands, lead her a dangerous path, where she meets Michael, he is dangerous, but she is too naive to appreciate this until her life is irrecoverably altered.
The pacing is fast, and the story follows Bobbie’s experiences as she tries to build a new life, there are sacrifices and victories, but constant running, until a final twist, means running is not an option. At this moral crossroads, Bobbie has to decide what to do, and it here the reader witnesses her character’s maturity and you want her life to be something worthwhile.
The setting is Glasgow and London in the mid to late 1970s, the culture and ethos of the period are faithfully recreated, and gives the story its authenticity and depth.
Overall this is a well-paced journey of self-discovery, with many intense and suspenseful moments and a believable, yet hopeful conclusion,
I was placed third in the 2015 Lightship
Prize for first-time authors, won a 2016 Wishing Shelf Award Red Ribbon, been
shortlisted at the UK Festival of Writing for Best First Chapter, longlisted in
the 2017 UK Novel Writing Competition.
In 2017, I was one of twelve authors
selected for Authors in the Spotlight at the Bloody Scotland book festival in
Stirling, showcasing who they considered to be the best emerging talent in
crime fiction, and was the only self-published author to be chosen. I have
spoken at numerous other book events, including Blackwells’ Writers at the
Fringe at the Edinburgh Festival Fringe; a stand-alone slot at the Byres Road
Book Festival in Glasgow, and the Aye Write! Book Festival, also in Glasgow.
went to Glasgow University in 1975 and lived in the city’s West End, the time
and place for the setting of the majority of Love’s Long Road.
I received a copy of this book from Aria – Head of Zeus Books in return for an honest review.
I love stories that have an element of serendipity, and this story of four people, seemingly unconnected, is an engaging read. It follows Caro, Cammy, Lila and Bernadette through 24 hours just before Christmas. Some of the characters feature in other books, so if you are a fan of this author, like me, you may recognise them.
The day is divided into time slots, and each of the four main protagonists has a chapter within. As the story progresses, the reader realises they are connected, and eventually so do they. All of the main characters are complex and realistic. Some have more flaws than others, but they are all relatable, and most are easy to empathise.
The plot is cleverly written, it all fits together and the coincidences are realistic. Coupled with the beautifully written characters, the emotion and poignancy of the story make this is a page-turner that you won’t easily, put down.
The ending is satisfying, it fits, and everyone gets the outcome they deserve.
Guest Post –Christmas Blog – Shari Low – One Day In Winter
Confession time! I’m one of those people who has a Countdown To Christmas clock and I check it regularly. Please don’t judge me. I know that I’m supposed to harrumph in disapproval at the frivolity and commercialisation of the festive season, but the truth is I love every flashing-elf-hat, neon-reindeer-on-my-roof, pass-me-a-red-hankie-because-I’m-going-to-watch-It’s-A-Wonderful-Life moment of it.
I embrace the tat and naffness of the season because I absolutely believe that there is no day that isn’t made better by a Santa snow globe.
On the first of December, I break out my favourite Christmas sweatshirt – the one that announces in large letters that I’m a Gangsta Wrapper.
I know the names of all the reindeers: Dasher, Dancer, Prancer, Vixen, Comet, Cupid, Donner, Blitzen, Rudolph, Argos, Visa and Mastercard.
And now that my two little yuletide thespians have flown the nest (one who delivered a memorable performance as the third sheep from the left, and the other who had a starring role as that well known Biblical character, Humph the Camel), the younger members of my extended family know that I’m a shoo-in for a ticket and some enthusiastic audience participation if they invite me to their nativity play.
But my very favourite pastime during the season of goodwill? Deck the halls with big blooming piles of Christmas novels.
When I decided to write my first December-time book, One Day In Winter, I knew that I wanted to write stories that came together like a big pile of surprises under a tree.
The novel follows four characters over the course of a 24 hour period on the Friday before Christmas. Caro sets off on a quest to find out if her relationship with her father has been based on a lifetime of lies. Lila decides to tell her lover’s wife of their secret affair. Cammy is on the way to pick up the ring for a proposal to the woman he loves. And Bernadette vows to walk away from her controlling husband of 30 years. As the hours’ pass, their lives intertwine and connections are revealed, with lots of shocks, twists and dramas along the way.
When it first came out in ebook, One Day In Winter was a number one bestseller, so I’m thrilled that it’s now being released in a glossy, shiny, gorgeous paperback.
I hope readers will love it because it makes them laugh, cry and captivates them from beginning to end.
And the extra little gift that the book delivers?
After the last page is turned, it makes the perfect stand for that Santa snow globe.
One Day In Winter is published by Aria in ebook and paperback.
Extract From One Day In Winter – Shari Low
When Gran and Granda
passed away, their house had been left jointly to Mum and her sister, Auntie
Pearl. When Auntie Pearl married and moved out, they’d worked out a rental
agreement and Mum had stayed behind, living on her own until she’d met Jack
Anderson at college, got pregnant, married him and he’d carried her over the
threshold into the home she’d already lived in for twenty-two years.
Not that Caro could
ever remember him being there full-time. He probably was for the first few
years, but then he’d capitalised on the oil boom, and ever since then he’d been
gone more than he’d been home. Some months he’d be home for a few days,
sometimes two weeks, rarely more. She’d never felt neglected or that she was
losing out in any way. It was what she’d always been used to and, as Mum always
said, just one of the sacrifices they had to make because Dad had a Very
The payback for the
sacrifice? A couple of years ago, just as her parents should have been starting
to contemplate cruises and bucket lists for their early retirement, Jack
Anderson had walked out of the door to go to his Very Important Job and he’d
never come back.
Caro felt the familiar
inner rage start to build now and she squashed it back down. He’d left them a
week before her thirtieth birthday, so she was old enough to process her
parents splitting up by some mutual consent. Yet she couldn’t. Because it
wasn’t mutual and he’d bolted when her mother had needed him most, walked out
to a new life and he hadn’t looked back.
For a long time, Caro
didn’t understand why.
Only now, did she
realise that on the Importance scale, the job was up there with his Very
She still didn’t
believe it to be true.
She must be wrong.
Yet, here she was,
sitting on a train, on a cold December morning, on her way to Glasgow.
She pulled her iPad
out of her satchel, logged on to the train’s Wi-Fi, then flicked on to the
Facebook page she’d looked at a thousand times in the last few weeks.
It was one of those
coincidental flukes that had taken her to it in the first place.
It had been late at
night, and she’d been sitting beside her mum’s bed in the hospital, feeling
like she’d been battered by the storm that was raging outside. She shouldn’t
even have been there because it was outside of visiting time, but the nurses
overlooked her presence because her mum was in a private room at the end of a
corridor, and they made exceptions when it came to patients at this stage in
their lives. Yvonne’s eyes were closed, her body still, but Caro wanted to
stay, whether Yvonne knew she was there or not. It was the first night of the
October school holiday, so she didn’t have to get up early to be the
responsible Miss Anderson for a class of eleven-year-olds the next morning.
Instead, she could
just be Caro, sitting there passing the time catching up with Facebook. She
only dipped in and out of it every few weeks, caught up with a Carpool Karaoke,
the launch of a new book, or maybe a movie trailer.
A promotional link
appeared for the new Simple Minds tour, twenty dates around the country, yet
another band riding the nostalgic affection for the eighties and nineties.
Before she could stop
it, the opening bars of Jim Kerr’s voice belting out ‘Don’t You Forget About
Me’ flooded her head and she felt the bite of a sharp-toothed memory. Her dad
had been a big fan, their music playing alongside Oasis and Blur on his CD
player when he was home or in the car on the few mornings he was around to take
her to school, and that had been his favourite song.
The irony in the title didn’t escape her. Don’t You Forget About Me. If only she could forget he ever existed, then she wouldn’t have to deal with the soul-sucking fury that he wasn’t here.
Low is the No1 best-selling author of over 20 novels, including One Day In Winter, A Life Without You, The
Story Of Our Life, With Or Without You, Another Day In Winter and her
latest release, This Is Me.
And because she likes to over-share toe-curling moments and hapless disasters, she is also the shameless mother behind a collection of parenthood memories called Because Mummy Said So. Once upon a time she met a guy, got engaged after a week, and twenty-something years later she lives near Glasgow with her husband, a labradoodle, and two teenagers who think she’s fairly embarrassing except when they need a lift.
I received a paperback copy of this book from Head of Zeus Books in return for an honest review.
If like me you believe in fate and love the film ‘Serendipity’, you’ll enjoy this well-written ‘what if’ story. Most people in a long-term relationship wonder, whether they are with their soulmate, or if under different circumstances they would be with someone else. This story explores Liv’s decision taken at the cusp of the 21st-century, stay with Nate or split up and live their lives apart.
A story of two halves, the outcome of being ‘without him’ is explored first and then ‘with him’. There’s friendship, conflict, romance and sadness but the ultimate conclusion is satisfying in both stories. The setting and relationships are believable, and though flawed, the characters endear themselves to the reader, and you want them to find happiness and fulfilment.
The pacing of the story makes it easy to read, and even though the storyline focuses on ordinary, everyday life, it is full of suspense, poignancy, laughter and love and makes this a lovely lighthearted read.
Guest Post – Serendipity – Shari Low
Some may have said it was serendipity. Some
may call it love at first sight. But when a complete stranger walked towards me
one night 25 years ago, I smiled because I knew I was in the right place at the
right time. A week later we got engaged, and we’ve stuck together through a
lifetime of children, books, ups, downs, dodgy fashion choices (but perms were
so in!) and a labradoodle.
However, what would have happened if we hadn’t
met? Would someone else have been the love of my life? Would I never have found
this kind of happiness? Would I have married a rock star and settled for a life
of loud music, wanton behaviour and leather trousers?
Actually, I quite like the sound of that
Or perhaps that chance meeting was meant to
happen, and we were somehow destined to cross paths, if not that night, then at
some other point in the future.
Those thoughts were the starting point for my
new novel With Or Without You.
The main characters, Nate and Liv, have been together since they were teenagers. Now in their mid-twenties, their all-consuming love has faded to friendship and they’ve decided that their marriage has run its course. They agree to separate at midnight on the final day of 1999, but at the last minute, Nate wavers. The storyline then splits into two strands, one following the couple over the next eighteen years if they stay together, the other if they part.
Will they find each other again? Or will
they discover a greater love elsewhere? Does serendipity really exist, or is
everyone’s fate already pre-determined, our lives like tangled paths that will
end at the same destination no matter what choices we make?
As the stories unfold, Nate and Liv, and the people who share their lives discover the answers to those questions.
As for me? Excuse the uncharacteristic
sentimentality, but I’ll never regret being in that place at that time and
meeting that bloke.
Leather trousers go out of fashion. Soul
mates never do.
With Or Without You was published in
paperback by Aria on 7th Feb 2019
Shari Low is the No1 best-selling author of over 20 novels, including With Or Without You, Another Day In Winter, One Day In December, A Life Without You and The Story Of Our Life. And because she likes to over-share toe-curling moments and hapless disasters, she is also the shameless mother behind a collection of parenthood memories called Because Mummy Said So. Once upon a time she met a guy, got engaged after a week, and twenty-something years later she lives near Glasgow with her husband, a labradoodle, and two teenagers who think she’s fairly embarrassing except when they need a lift.
I’m dying. I just want to say that straight out. Or as the young ones would say, “put it out there”. Bloody nonsense, some of the phrases that folk use nowadays. What’s wrong with just plain speaking?
The boy thinks I don’t know he’s here, but I can hear and feel him fine. Tom. The boy. That’s still how I think of him even though he’s gone thirty now. Fine lad he’s turned out to be. I couldn’t be prouder. It’s a bloody miracle when you consider his feckless father.
I can hear that lassie, the nurse, too. Liv, that’s her name. Cheery thing. She’s got one of those voices that reassures everyone who listens to her. Not that there’s much reassurance to be had for me now. A painless exit is about as much as I can hope for, and these drugs that they’re pumping into me are taking care of that. Don’t half take the wind out of my sails though. Between the medicine and this damned disease, it’s getting harder and harder to open my eyes.
That said, I’m not in any rush to leave this world. I’ve never been one for impatience. I’ve lost track of the days, and I hate to keep asking the nurse, but I’m fairly sure it’s close to Christmas. The sound of festive songs has been drifting in from the corridor – Blue Christmas by Elvis was always my favourite – and on the few occasions I’ve managed to open my eyes, I’ve noticed people walking by the window with gift-wrapped presents. It’s always been my favourite time of the year, especially when our Tom was a boy. We would have Christmas morning at our house and my son Norry and his first wife, Catriona, would bring the boy round first thing. Catriona was a fine woman and so much more than that sour-faced one Norry replaced her with. She was a smashing mother to Tom, too. It shames me to say it, but every bit of compassion and kindness in that boy came directly from her, not from that son of mine.
Anyway, where was I? Christmas. My darling Betty would cook and organise games and make it the perfect day for everyone. It was at times like that Betty, and I wished there’d been more of us, a bigger family for the boy to share the day with, but Norry had been our only son, and then he’d repeated the pattern by only having Tom. Of course, there was more kin out there – I had two sisters, Annie and Flora, that I lost touch with long ago. Those memories pained me, and our Betty knew that, so we left them in the past and we never spoke of them, not to Norry, not to Tom, not to anyone. That doesn’t mean I’ve forgotten them though. In fact, now I think of them more than ever.
Tom is shaving me now, and I’m glad about that. No excuses for a shabby appearance, that’s what my father drilled into us, and I’ve always lived by it. I hope it’s the only thing of that man’s that I’ve taken to heart. By God, there was a father that ruled with an iron rod and wasn’t one for sparing feelings. There were no tears shed when Billy Butler went to his maker, although it saddened me when my mother went only a few weeks after. Influenza afflicted the both of them. I wish she’d had a chance to live without him, even for a short while, to breathe without walking on eggshells, waiting for the next rage or rant. All of us kids – Annie, Flora and me – knew the feeling of fear and I vowed that I would never be that kind of father with Norry.
Instead, I tried to be the man who led by example and instilled decency and compassion in his offspring, but I’m sorry to say I failed. It’s always been a great sadness that Norry was more of his grandad’s ilk than of mine. A selfish boy, self-centred and prone to nastiness, who grew into an arrogant bugger of a man. It gives me no pleasure to say that of my own son, but one of the gifts of these last days is honesty. If I can’t be truthful with myself, then what’s the point? These are days of reckoning, of reminiscing, of looking back on eighty years that were well lived but not without mistakes.
The boy is mid-shave when the question the nurse asks him sinks in to my fuddled brain. ‘Are your parents on the way?’ she says.
I try to focus on the answer, so I get it right. I hear him say, ‘Yeah, my dad and stepmother. They’re halfway here. They touched down in Dubai a couple of hours ago, and their connecting flight took off on time. They should be here about three o’clock.’
Bloody hell. So Norry and that wife of his are coming. I must be close to dead if they’re making the effort because they didn’t bloody come when I was alive and kicking, or when my darling Betty was sick and passed away.
And of course, it wouldn’t be Tom’s mother, Catriona, that would be with Norry. That poor lass was treated terribly by my son, and he forced her out of their lives when Tom was sixteen. To be honest, for her sake I was glad she got out of that marriage. She had a lucky escape. I was only too glad to give her as much help as I could to start her new life down south. She kept in touch with me right up until she passed, a few years ago. Cancer. This bastard of a disease. I was only grateful that the lass found happiness with a man who treated her well. I never met him, but Tom would visit them, and he told me he was a decent chap. That made me sleep a bit easier at night. I felt it was the least she deserved after being married to my son.
Norry had barely batted an eyelid when she left. He’d never admitted it to me, but I had a fair idea that he was already up to no good with the next one. Rosemary. She wasn’t like Catriona. This time he’d met his match and someone who was as contemptible as he was. They’d tied the knot as soon as his divorce was final – went off to Bali or someplace like that. Didn’t even invite us. Not that I’d have gone. Not after their antics. Next thing we knew, Norry sold up his business and off they went to Australia, taking our Tom with them. Norry said it was about work-life balance and enjoying the fruits of his labour, or some nonsense like that. The truth was, he’d made a killing and reckoned he could live like a king down under, and he had so much in the bank that he got a visa to live there without a problem. That Rosemary one encouraged him every step of the way. Fancied herself living in a big house in the sunshine, with no ties or commitments, so off they went, and damn everyone else. Losing Tom near broke my Betty’s heart. It was one of the happiest days of her life when the boy came back to live with us a year later. He’d never settled out there, and we were glad of it.
Through the haze of the buggering pills, I can hear the beeping from the monitor beside me getting faster. That’s what I get for thinking about those two. It wouldn’t surprise me if the bloody thing exploded when they walk through the door. I can only hope their plane gets delayed and I get to spend another day without them here.
I haven’t read the first book in the Winter’s Day series, so I read this as a standalone and it is a lovely, poignant read, with a festive flavour, complex characters and a web of secrets to explore.
There are many characters whose lives are intertwined; each character has a story to tell which adds to the main storyline and illustrates their reason for being there on this particular Winter’s day. The beauty of this story is its unashamed emotion, the characters’ experience many feelings and because of their inherent honesty, it’s impossible not to empathise.
Something to warm you on a cold Winter’s day, a lovely, heartwarming yet realistic festive read.
I received a copy of this book from Aria Fiction via NetGalley in return for an honest review.
Shari has written seventeen novels under her own name and pseudonyms Ronni Cooper, Millie Conway and Shari King, of which many have been published globally. She writes a weekly opinion column and Book Club page for the Daily Record. Shari lives with her husband and 2 teenage boys in Glasgow. TwitterFacebookWebsite
‘Do that which is good and no evil shall touch you’
That was the note the so-called Raphael killer left on each of his victims. Everyone in Glasgow – investigative journalist Oonagh O’Neil included – remember the murder of three women in Glasgow which sent a wave of terror through the city. They also remember that he is still at large…
When the police investigation into the Raphael killings reopens, Oonagh is given a tip-off that leads her straight to the heart of a complex and deadly cover-up. When history starts to repeat itself, it seems the killer is closer than she thinks. Could Oonagh be the next target…?
Hi, thanks so much for asking me along. I’m Theresa Talbot and Keep Her Silent is the second in the Oonagh O’Neil series. This book has been such a labour of love for me. There are three strands running through the narrative; The unsolved Raphael Killings from the 70s, a woman incarcerated in a secure unit for killing her husband and son, and the tainted blood scandal, where thousands of patients across the world were infected with Hep C & HIV through contaminated blood products. The tainted blood scandal is a real-life horror story. Described by Sir Robert Winston as the ‘worst treatment disaster in the history of the NHS’ it has wrecked lives, ripped families apart and destroyed victims hopes & dreams for the future.
Although Keep Her Silent is a work of fiction, this part of the story is based on real characters and real-life events. I’ve worked closely with one of the victims and sadly his story is one of nightmares. I’m a journalist, and although, yes I was aware of the scandal, I had no idea of the impact it had and continues to have on the victims.
I decided on a real-life crime as the main backdrop to my story and in particular this one for several reasons. I’ve always been completely fascinated by institutionalised crime; the way that criminal activity is carried out under the full glare of the public, with very few, if any, perpetrators ever facing justice. We only need to glance back a few years to Jimmy Saville, Paedophile rings within religious orders, and corrupt MPs who never face trial.
For me it’s more than a scandal, more than a tragedy – it’s the biggest crime of the 20th century and beyond. For those unfamiliar with the background: In the 70s & 80s, thousands of haemophiliacs and blood transfusion patients were given contaminated blood products, and subsequently went on to develop Hepatitis and HIV. It was soon discovered that pharmaceutical companies making the products were using ‘skid-row donors’ – paying prisoners, drugs addict & sex workers for each donation, with no rigorous checks on where the blood came from. Thousands of people – including children – have died as a result and many more left disabled, yet despite this not one person has faced criminal prosecution in this country. Pharmaceutical giants made millions from this, they put profit before the suffering of mankind, and were given the full protection of the law. Threading this theme through a crime novel seemed natural to me – readers invest in characters, they sit up and take notice of the human tragedy, they laugh and cry and understand how lives are affected – so much more than if they read about it in a newspaper, or see a news item about it.
That said, I’ve never felt so nervous about writing as I was with this book. I worked very closely with one of the victims and was so desperate to get it right and do him justice. He’d been so open and honest, telling his story. He’s lived with this every day for over forty years. I was acutely aware that Keep Her Silent is a work of fiction, and will mainly be read for entertainment – I needed to ensure that it packed a punch. My research took me down so many paths, I was almost overwhelmed at one stage. There was so much suffering and human tragedy and was still happening in plain sight yet no-one seemed to care.
Despite the dark subject matter, the book is injected with humour. Like life, we often use humour to shed light on tragic situations; otherwise, it would become too heavy..
My main character Ooagh O’Neil is a journalist. She’s flawed and troubled and sometimes gets it wrong – but readers tell me they can identify with her. On the surface, she seems to have a charmed life, but underneath chaos ensues. When she discovers the full horrors of the tainted blood scandal she’s like a dog with a bone and won’t let go. Obviously, there could be no ‘happy ever after’ to this book. This is a real-life tragedy that’s still waiting for justice. Instead, I used my own dramatic licence to give some much-needed resolution to this. I felt such a huge responsibility to everyone affected to get it right. Thankfully, so far, it’s had a very positive response
Another episode of dangerous investigative journalism with Oonagh O’Neil that unfolds with the unpredictability of real life and grips the reader with its intensity and menace.
If you haven’t met Oonagh previously you’ve missed out, but this story reads well as a standalone, with enough backstory to illuminate Oonagh as a character and provide the pertinent details on her relationships, motivations and demons.
There are both historic and present timelines and several plot threads that are intricately woven to reveal a polished ending. The writing style draws you in until enthralled you have to know what happens next. The themes are shocking, more so because they highlight real-life conspiracy.
A unique combination of crime, conspiracy and killing seen through the eyes of a quirky, on the edge investigative journalist and a cynical, but thorough policeman makes this a memorable story and a series that I can’t wait to continue.
I received a copy of this book from Aria via NetGalley in return for an honest review.
Theresa Talbot is a BBC broadcaster and freelance producer. A former radio news editor, she also hosted The Beechgrove Potting Shed on BBC Radio Scotland, but for many, she will be most familiar as the voice of the station’s Traffic & Travel.
Late 2014 saw the publication of her first book, This Is What I Look Like, a humorous memoir covering everything from working with Andy Williams to rescuing chickens and discovering nuns hidden in gardens. She’s much in demand at book festivals, both as an author and as a chairperson. TwitterFacebook
In the chilling new crime novel from award-winning author Liam McIlvanney, a serial killer stalks the streets of Glasgow and DI McCormack follows a trail of devastating secrets to uncover the truth…
A city torn apart. Glasgow, 1969. In the grip of the worst winter for years, the city is brought to its knees by a killer whose name fills the streets with fear: the Quaker. He takes his next victim – the third woman from the same nightclub – and dumps her in the street like rubbish.
A detective with everything to prove. The police are left chasing a ghost, with no new leads and no hope of catching their prey. DI McCormack, a talented young detective from the Highlands, is ordered to join the investigation. But his arrival is met with anger from a group of officers on the brink of despair. Soon he learns just how difficult life can be for an outsider.
A killer who hunts in the shadows. When another woman is found murdered in a tenement flat, it’s clear the case is by no means over. From ruined backstreets to the dark heart of Glasgow, McCormack follows a trail of secrets that will change the city – and his life – forever…
Atmospheric and authentic are the best adjectives to describe this story. The menacing ethos of 1960s Glasgow is apparent on every page and is compelling.
The characters’ prejudices and secrets vividly depicted make them realistic. The sinister undercurrent as people wonder when ‘The Quaker’will kill again makes for a tense thriller. The murders are described in painstaking detail but not overly graphic, just enough to inform the plot and allow the reader to glimpse the horror of the crime.
Police procedural is the mainstay of the plot, but the suspense and supernatural impressions from the Quaker’s victims add a twist that makes this even more chilling to read. McCormack is a complex detective, a loner he is dedicated to his job at the cost of his relationships.
The ending draws from all the clues laid earlier in the plot, it is convincing and clever and with a final sting in its tail.
‘The Quaker’ is not an easy read, the dialogue and complexity of Glasgow society at this time needs to be understood to get the most of this story.
I received a copy of this book from Harper Collins – Harper Fiction via NetGalley in return for an honest review.