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

The Beach House P.R.Black 5*#Review @Aria_Fiction @PatBlack9 #Thriller #PsychologicalThriller #Holiday #Secrets #Lies #CrimeFiction #noir #BlogTour #GuestPost #BookReview #MondayBlogs #MondayBlues

This vacation is about to turn deadly…

 Cora’s on the island vacation of her dreams: a private beach in paradise, a romantic proposal, and an eight-figure cheque following the sale of her new fiancé’s business.

When their island turns out to be not so private after all, Cora tries to make the best of a bad situation by inviting their strangely friendly neighbours to celebrate with them.

But it doesn’t take long for her once-in-a-lifetime holiday to take a very sinister turn…

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

My Thoughts…

From the blurb, the reader knows that this is not the idyllic holiday you’d expect, but nothing prepares you for the twists and turns that appear with increasing alacrity as the story progresses.

Cora and Jonathan are on a dream holiday, Cora seems unsure whether she wants to be there. Jonathan is full of surprises, and it seems that life is on track. Until, their exclusive holiday retreat becomes crowded, with another couple, and they can’t fail to see the resemblance to themselves.

The story has a strong technological theme, which adds depth and complexity to the plot.

Progressing, through Cora’s point of view, things start to spiral in an increasingly uncomfortable way. The characters are believable and complex. They are not what they appear to be on the surface.

Cora is an unreliable narrator, and as the story progresses, she presents a hidden side to her character. Flashbacks to incidents in her past illuminate and reinforce her present actions. The last part of the story is an adrenaline rush, and at times full of confusion.

Even at the end, I still wasn’t sure I’d understood everything, but that’s what you want from a psychological thriller.

An absorbing, addictive read.

Guest Post : Smiling assassins By Pat Black

The psychopathic, murderous villains in my new novel The Beach House drew inspiration from a lovely couple we met on holiday.

When I’m on holiday I tend to stick to my own pen. I wouldn’t say I was unfriendly, but I am guarded. I realise this doesn’t reflect well on me, but bitter experience has taught me to be wary.

I remember one couple I got to know on holiday years ago who passed out business cards and tried to flog their home renovation business at every opportunity. This was odd enough – before the boorish male in that pairing then made some utterly jaw-dropping comments about the looks of a woman as part of a third couple who joined the group. I was astounded at the cheek, and the fact the woman just smiled and laughed at these comments, instead of absolutely battering him. “People like that actually exist! In the real world!”

Another couple on an overnight boat trip didn’t realise I was joking when I was… making jokes. It’s not like any of the daft comments and dad-on-holiday patter were certificate X, either. It was a bit like explaining that, you know, it doesn’t really matter why the chicken wanted to cross the road, or what might have awaited it on the other side. Now imagine that sort of scrutiny after every utterance. “It’s your accent,” the woman explained later, as if that explained anything.

So, I’ve learned. I’m happy enough drinking cocktails in our own group of two, reading a stack of books on my tod, worrying about sharks while we go for a swim in a pair, and forming our own pub quiz team.

Then one night (a while ago now, mind you; pre-kids anyway), we were approached by this cracking couple from the South West. The shutters went up immediately, but then something strange happened: I lightened up, and we… Well. We made friends. They were loads of fun. They didn’t want anything from us. They got my jokes, and I got theirs. Importantly, they also knew not to crowd us – I looked forward to having a drink with them at night back at the hotel, and was genuinely sorry to see them go home, a couple of days before we did.

Hey – maybe for them, we were the weirdos?

It was a nice, human experience. So of course my imagination twisted this into something unpleasant for The Beach House.

I wondered what would happen if you had genuinely evil people try to befriend you on holiday – evil people with an evil purpose. And you couldn’t easily extricate yourself from the situation. When your own sense of manners and social skills over-ride your instincts, which might have to scream at you in order for you to protect yourself and your partner.

One of my favourite parts of any modern thriller is in The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo, when Mikael Blomkvist confronts the novel’s villain. He has a chance to get away, but he refuses, because of good manners. The villain reflects on this with some astonishment. “All I had to do was offer you a cup of coffee.”

All my baddies had to do was order my heroine a pina colada. And it could happen to you. Of course it could. They’re out there. They walk among us. They go on holiday. They sit beside you on a train. They seem nice. They know exactly what to say to people. They see a person or a situation, and their minds instantly move onto how they can strip it to the bone.

Have you seen my business card, incidentally? Maybe we could swap? Hey, networking is networking, after all. No sense in ignoring the business angle, hey? We’ve all got to eat. Fancy a cocktail? Maybe we could go to the pub quiz…

Author and journalist PR Black lives in Yorkshire, although he was born and brought up in Glasgow. When he’s not driving his wife and two children to distraction with all the typing, he enjoys hillwalking, fresh air and the natural world, and can often be found asking the way to the nearest pub in the Lake District. His short stories have been published in several books including the Daily Telegraph’s Ghost Stories and the Northern Crime One anthology. His Glasgow detective, Inspector Lomond, is appearing in Ellery Queen’s Mystery Magazine. He took the runner-up spot in the 2014 Bloody Scotland crime-writing competition with “Ghostie Men”. His work has also been performed on stage in London by Liars’ League. He has also been shortlisted for the Red Cross International Prize, the William Hazlitt essay prize and the Bridport Prize.

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Posted in Blog Tour, Book Review, Crime, Domestic Thriller, Guest post, Noir, Psychological Thriller, Suspense, Thriller

The Other You J.S. Monroe 5* #Review @HoZ_Books @Aria_Fiction @JSThrillers #PsychologicalThriller #CrimeFiction #Police #Noir #Domestic #Suspense #BlogTour #BookReview #GuestPost

Kate used to be good at recognising people. So good, she worked for the police, identifying criminals in crowds of thousands. But six months ago, a devastating car accident led to a brain injury. Now the woman who never forgot a face can barely recognise herself in the mirror.

At least she has Rob. Young, rich, handsome and successful, Rob runs a tech company on the idyllic Cornish coast. Kate met him just after her accident, and he nursed her back to health. When she’s with him, in his luxury modernist house, the nightmares of the accident fade, and she feels safe and loved.

Until, one day, she looks at Rob anew. And knows, with absolute certainty, that the man before her has been replaced by an impostor.

Is Rob who he says he is? Or is it all in Kate’s damaged mind?

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

My Thoughts…

This is a chilling, complex and curious thriller, with psychological and technological themes. Told from three points of view. The reader lives the complete story. Whilst, it keeps you turning the pages, it starts your mind thinking too, what if?

The story has many strands. The unusual skill of the female protagonist, as a super recogniser, which now lost, has left her unsure and vulnerable. The secret world of the new man in her life, and his attitude towards her that makes their interactions often claustrophobic. The themes of doppelgangers, and his apparent obsession with his.

The story is full of underlying detail, which sets the scene convincingly, and evidences the author’s copious research. There are many twists, and the ending is memorable.

If you’ve read this author’s psychological thrillers before, you may be waiting for something to happen that you don’t expect. It does, but its impact is more powerful than you may imagine.

Clever writing, intense suspense, and originality make this a must-read for those who like to explore the darkness and vastness of the human mind.

Guest Post – Super recognisers, by J.S.Monroe

There are some unlucky people in this world who cannot remember a face. Try as they might, they can’t recognise the most familiar people in their lives: relatives, friends, even their own reflection. The condition is known as facial blindness, or prosopagnosia, and it’s estimated that about two per cent of us are sufferers. In 2009, Richard Russell, a Harvard psychologist, wondered if these people were on a spectrum and, if they were, what happened at the other end? Were there those who cannot forget a face? Enter the “super recognisers”, a term coined by Russell for the one per cent of us who indeed have a preternatural gift for remembering the human face. A super recogniser might only have seen someone for a split second at a bus stop five years ago, but if he walked passed them again tomorrow, he would remember them.

In my new thriller, The Other You, my main female character, Kate, is a former super recogniser. She used to work as a civilian for the police, studying mug shots and then identifying criminals on CCTV footage, or working in the field at large public events, spotting known troublemakers in crowds. I spent a lot of time reading up on the subject, as I found it increasingly fascinating. The part of the brain where human faces are processed, for example, is called the fusiform gyrus and it appears to be a lot more active in super recognisers than the rest of us.

My research eventually took me to Essex, where I met a super recogniser called Emma. She only discovered her ability in her thirties, but she’d always had a good memory for faces, recognising someone in the swimming pool who had served her in Tesco’s years earlier, or spotting extras who kept on cropping up in different films. “It’s a bit embarrassing when you go up to someone familiar and smile and they look at you blankly because they don’t remember your face,” she says. Emma used to be in the Metropolitan Police but she now works a super recogniser for a private security firm. After a shift of spotting people, she’s mentally drained. “Your brain’s working overtime, taking screenshots all the time, scanning faces like a robot.”

Talking of robots, super recognisers are proving more than a match for facial recognition software, which is currently experiencing a global boom. The artificial intelligence algorithms deployed to identify faces, matching people in live situations to databases of criminals, are getting better, but it remains a far from exact science. When South Wales Police deployed facial recognition software at the Champions League Final in Cardiff in 2017, more than 2,000 people were wrongly identified as criminals – a failure rate of 92%.

Compare that with the success of super recognisers working for the Metropolitan Police. After the London riots in 2011, the Met amassed 200,000 hours of CCTV footage, but software managed to identify one criminal. One! The Met’s team of super recognisers, by contrast, identified more than 600. One extraordinary individual, PC Gary Collins, identified 180 alone, including a man who had concealed his face with a bandana and beanie. Collins recognised him from just his eyes – he’d last seen him two years ago.

“Algorithms will get better, but people change appearance and we as humans are primed to see through those changes,” says Josh Davis, professor of Applied Psychology at the University of Greenwich, who works closely with super recognisers and police forces around the world.

There’s something about the human face, it seems, that can’t be analysed solely by metrics. When we see someone, we imbue their face with meaning. He reminds me of my father; she looks like my old English teacher. The distance between our ears, or our mouth and nose, only tells half the story. Faces are uniquely human and humans – the super recognisers – remain, for the time being, the best at identifying them.

J.S.Monroe

J.S. Monroe read English at Cambridge, worked as a foreign correspondent in Delhi, and was Weekend editor of the Daily Telegraph in London before becoming a full-time writer. Monroe is the author of eight novels, including the international bestseller, Find Me.

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Posted in Blog Tour, Book Review, Crime, Mystery, Noir, Psychological Thriller, Suspense, Thriller

#Payback Gemma Rogers 5* #Review @BoldwoodBooks @GemmaRogers79 #BoldwoodBloggers #CrimeFiction #thriller #PsychologicalThriller #Suspense #Revenge #Secrets #Lies #noir #BlogTour #BookReview #PublicationDay

#Payback

A dark secret and a deadly score to settle…
In 1997 teenager Sophie White and her three girlfriends decide they want to lose their innocence before summer is over.
Roping in her childhood buddy Gareth and his mates, Sophie holds a party to get ‘the deed’ over and done with, but the night doesn’t end as planned.
Twenty years later, the group are brought back together when Gareth is killed in a car accident and Sophie begins receiving threatening messages. It seems the party wasn’t as innocent as everyone thought and now someone wants payback.

A gripping, highly addictive game of cat and mouse where the past comes back with vengeance. 

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#BoldwoodBloggers

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

My Thoughts…

A teenage party starts to have repercussions, over twenty years later, with fatal, and sinister results. There is a steady build-up of drama, plenty of psychological suspense and an underlying ethos of menace, as Sophie’s life disintegrates, even though she tries to carry on as normal.

A dark. pacy thriller, with complex characters, who harbour lies and secrets, from their past. The seemingly innocent event that happened in their teenage life, has sinister echoes. Someone wants revenge, but for what?

The story is told from Sophie’s point of view, as a teenager in the past, and a present-day adult. A plot, full of twists reveals just enough clues, to the mystery and antagonist, as it progresses. The characters are authentic and relatable, and the ending packs a punch and doesn’t disappoint.

#GemmaRogers

Gemma Rogers was inspired to write gritty thrillers by a traumatic event in her own life nearly twenty years ago. Stalker is her debut novel which Boldwood will publish in September 2019 and marks the beginning of a new writing career.  Gemma lives in West Sussex with her husband, two daughters and bulldog Buster.

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Posted in Book Spotlight, Fantasy, Noir

Vile – Keith Crawford #BookSpotlight @keithcrawford77 @LoveBooksTours #LoveBooksTours #Fantasy #Noir @littlwonder

Elianor Paine is a Magistrate of the Peace in the Kingdom of Trist and a republican secret agent. She has 6 days to subvert her investigation, supplant war-hero Lord Vile, then coerce his adult children to start a revolution before her masters discover the truth and have her killed. Just how far is she willing to go? And can she change the world without changing herself?

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Keith Crawford is a retired Navy Officer, a disabled veteran, a Doctor of Law & Economics, a barrister, a stay-at-home Dad, and a writer. He has written for collections of scholarly works, academic journals, and newspapers including The Economist. He has had more than thirty plays recorded or produced for stage, been listed in a variety of short story competitions (in spite of his hatred of short stories), and runs a radio production company, www.littlewonder.website, which regularly runs competitions promoted by the BBC to help find, develop and encourage new writers.

In 2014 he was lecturing at Sciences Po in Paris and negotiating a contract to write a book on banking regulation when he and his wife discovered to their delight that they were due to have their first child. Rather than writing more work that would only be read by his poor students, and then misquoted by politicians, he decided he would do his bit to stick his fingers up at the patriarchy and stay home to look after his own kids rather than the grown-up kids of rich people. Two more children swiftly followed. Keith has discovered that if you recite Stick Man backwards you get the lyrics to AD/DC’s Highway to Hell.

This (looking after the kids, not satanic rites with Stick Man) allowed him to support his wife’s career, which appears to be heading for the stratosphere, and also gave him the space to write about swordfights and explosions. And spaceships. All of which are more fun than banking regulation. As an extension to his work in radio production, he set up his own small press, and his first novel, Vile, is due to be published in December 2019. More novels will swiftly follow, like buses in countries that don’t privatise the bus companies.

Posted in Blog Tour, Book Review, Crime, Family Drama, Noir, Psychological Thriller, Suspense, Thriller

The Perfect Widow A.M.Castle 3*#Review @AliceMCastle @HQDigitalUK #CrimeFiction #FamilyDrama #Women #Society #Secrets #PsychologicalSuspense #Obsession #BlogTour #BookReview

#ThePerfectWidow

Louise Bridges has the perfect life.

A loving husband, Patrick. Two adorable children. A comfortable home.

So when PC Becca Holt arrives to break the news that Patrick has been killed in an accident, she thinks Louise’s perfect world is about to collapse around her.

But Louise doesn’t react in the way Becca would expect her to on hearing of her husband’s death. And there are only three plates set out for dinner as if Louise already knew Patrick wouldn’t be home that night…

The more Becca digs, the more secrets she uncovers in the Bridges’ marriage – and the more she wonders just how far Louise would go to get what she wants…

Is Louise a loving wife – or a cold-hearted killer?

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

My Thoughts…

A curious mix of psychological suspense and family drama, this story will appeal to those who like psychological orientated suspense. This plot doesn’t have the impact common to most thrillers but does use the unreliable protagonist technique well. There are two, in this story, Louise, the perfect widow and Becca the policewoman who sets out to investigate her, based on one brief observation.

Primarily a story of obsession, emotional damage, resulting from poor nurturing in childhood and control The plot handles the psychological theme competently. The introduction of a crusading police constable, who sees beneath the image Louise portrays isn’t convincing. Becca, in many ways, is a superfluous character, except perhaps in her obsessive similarities to Louise?

The plot lacks real-time action, everything is retold either in the past or present by Louise or Becca. this slows the pace and leaves you in the characters heads for too long, making some the twists not as suspenseful as they could be, if written less passively.

A story for the psychological fiction devotees, who like to see how the mind works, given a certain set of stimuli, rather than those who like a combination of jaw-dropping twists and a twisted unexpected ending,

Posted in Blog Tour, Book Review, Crime, Noir, Psychological Thriller, Suspense, Thriller

In The Wake Helen Trevorrow 5* #Review #BlogTour #LoveBooksTours @helentrevorrow @UrbaneBooks @LoveBooksGroup #Thriller #crimefiction #psychologicalthriller #Noir #BookReview #suspense #paperback

#IntheWake

When a body is found floating in London’s Royal Albert Dock, successful public relations expert Kay Christie is sent to quiet the media, but things get complicated when it emerges that she knew the victim.

As events spiral out of control, Kay discovers that those close to her may be harbouring another secret – the story of a missing girl. Can Kay discover the truth before her life unravels and she risks losing everything?

In the Wake questions whether we can ever truly leave our pasts behind and explores the lengths that we will go to protect the people that we love.

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#LoveBooksTours

I received a copy of this book from Urbane Publications in return for an honest review.

My Thoughts…

A dark crime thriller, with a fusion of psychological suspense, police procedural and noir romance making this book a riveting read.

This story starts with an unnoticed disappearance, then a body and finally a connection. The reader is thrown into a maelstrom of crime, drama and suspense, which ramps up with each turn of the page.

Told in the third person from Kay’s point of view, with illuminating flashback chapters to two historical time periods, you wonder if she is hiding something, and she is. Past connections and present-day loyalties and dangerous sexual attraction, make Kay vulnerable. If she cannot work out what is happening and who she can trust, she will pay the ultimate price.

This is a fast-paced, gritty thriller, with sex and violence taking centre stage. Kay takes the role of an unreliable protagonist. A clever, intriguing noir crime thriller, that makes an enjoyable read for those who like a seamless fusion of literary genres.

#HelenTrevorrow

Helen Trevorrow is a graduate of the 2016 Faber Academy creative writing programme. She studied at Leeds University and has worked in marketing and public relations in London. She is a specialist food and drink PR. Helen’s debut novel IN THE WAKE is a feminist crime thriller about family, unrealised trauma and alcoholism. Helen has ghost-written many articles for newspapers, magazines and websites. She lives in Brighton, Sussex with her wife and child.

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Posted in Blog Tour, Book Review, Historical Romance, Novella, Romance -Dark and Steamy, Victorian Romance

The Wicked Lord’s Mistress Scarlett Jameson 4*#Review #TheLordsSeductionTrilogy #VictorianRomance #Noir #EroticRomance #BlogTour #BookReview @rararesources

The Wicked Lord’s Mistress is set in the late Victorian period (1886) for fans of upstairs/downstairs dramas and steamy romances. It explores the continuing love story between Lily, a lady’s maid at Torrington Hall, and a handsome, mysterious aristocratic hero called Lord Edgar Wilson.

Lily is surrounded by challenges from all sides. She is being blackmailed by the evil Malkins, she has a secret past that she is trying to hide, and her forbidden love affair with Lord Wilson grows riskier every day. Can their lusty affair transform into the tender and lasting love that Lily craves? And given the differences in their class, is a happy ending possible for them?

Then a new enemy comes into Lily’s life, someone who is determined to destroy her. Lily finds herself facing the greatest challenge of her life, and hopes that Lord Wilson will be her hero.

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#BlogTour

I received a copy of the first two books in this series from the author in return for honest reviews.

#TheLordsSeduction #Book1

Lily works as a lady’s maid at Torrington Hall. Haunted by a conniving conman who has bribed her, she is forced to attempt to steal valuables from the glamorous guests who visit. One of these is Lord Edgar Wilson, a handsome and mysterious guest. When he and Lily begin to flirt and he catches her stealing from him, he is furious and declares that Lily must pay.

But as Lily finds herself falling for the Lord, she notices that he, in turn, seems attracted to her…

Will Lord Wilson discover the secrets in Lily’s past? And why does he want her to attend his secret London gentleman’s club with him? Can a lady’s maid conquer the heart of a Lord?

A love story filled with heart and fiery passion, The Wicked Lord and the Lady’s Maid is the first in a trilogy called The Lord’s Seduction.

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My Thoughts…

Book 1 – The Wicked Lord and the Lady’s Maid

This book is a short introduction to an erotic Victorian romance trilogy – The Lord’s Seduction. The story is told mainly from Lily, a lady’s maid point of view. The story throws you straight in with little backstory, but read on, and you will soon grasp that Lily is a victim of a particularly dark blackmail plot by a dangerous, perverted man.

Lily is a victim of circumstance, but she is also attracted to a guest at the house where she works. What happens throws her into his sight, and mutual attraction leads to a dangerous, erotic romance.

This is partly a ‘what the butler saw‘ Victorian saucy affair, but some dark issues are explored concerning the position of women and servants in the late Victorian era.

#TheWickedLordsMistress
Book 2 -The Wicked Lord’s Mistress

The second book in the Lord’s Seduction trilogy follows on from the first . Although, the continuation of the romance can be enjoyed if this is read as a standalone. It’s best to read the first book, in the series, which is short, to fully grasp the main themes of this Victorian erotic romance. The book has some astute observations on Victorian society, and its attitudes, to servants, sex and women.

Lily and Edgar continue their illicit affair, but someone else wants the handsome Lord and is prepared to get him at any costs. Lily’s position becomes increasingly dangerous, and her vulnerability makes this a poignant read. She is a strong character, who goes after what she wants, but she loves someone more than herself, and this makes her susceptible. Edgar is likeable and seems to want to be a good man, but his attraction to Lily blinds him to the dangers of their liaison especially for her.

The romance is risque and sensual but is accompanied by a story that tugs at the heartstrings. The characters draw you in, more than you would expect, and you want Lily to find justice. Making reading the final part of the trilogy essential.

Scarlett Jameson works in publishing by day and by night enjoys writing steamy historical romances. A lover of all things Victorian, she lives in London with her cat. 
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