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

The Scarlet Dress Louise Douglas 5* #Review @LouiseDouglas3 @BoldwoodBooks #Extract #FamilyDrama #Secrets #grief #loss #Crime #Suspense #BlogTour #BookReview #Missing #ColdCase #boldwoodbloggers #Psychological #TheScarletDress @rararesources

Alice Lang was wearing her favourite scarlet dress when she disappeared twenty-five years ago, and her memory still casts a long shadow.

The past was like water. Once the tide turned, you couldn’t hold it back.’

In the long, hot summer of 1995, twenty-two-year-old Alice Lang rents a caravan on a holiday park on the outskirts of the lively holiday resort of Severn Sands. She befriends Marnie, a shy, damaged little girl whose father is the park’s caretaker and whose mother died a few months earlier. Will, whose mother runs the bar, falls in love with Alice, and is unbearably jealous of anyone else she sees. Tensions rise until one evening Alice disappears from her caravan. She’s never seen again, and only her scarlet dress is found washed up on the shore.

A quarter of a century later, the town is run down and nobody comes there anymore. Mr and Mrs deVillars, former owners of the holiday park, have passed the failing business onto their son Guy, who promptly sells the land for development. Builders clearing the land to create an expanse of executive homes uncover human bones. It has to be Alice.

Will and Marnie’s lives were entirely shaped by what happened that summer, and now Alice has been found, they must struggle to pin down their memories, to escape the secrets of the past, the lies they told and the unbearable guilt they’re both carrying.

They need to find out what happened to Alice. Who killed her? And why?

Amazon UK

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

My Thoughts…

This story is wonderfully complex. Character-driven, it draws the reader into a world of decay, deceit and death. The discovery of human bones years after a young woman disappeared reopens old hurts in a town that is a shadow of its former self. Marnie, a child at the time of the disappearance, still bears the emotional scars. Will, obsessed with the missing girl Alice, is drawn back to the dying town of his birth, feeling there is unfinished business.

The story gives up its secrets as it unfolds and undulates between the present day and 1995. There are unexpected twists, emotional moments and relentless tension that builds to the story’s end. The setting is well created and complements the plot perfectly. This is a compelling story with many emotionally damaged characters, of which Marnie is my favourite.

This is an immersive story about ordinary people and extraordinary tragedy. It reads, like a Nordic noir set in the English seaside, an engaging balance of introspection and action it’s a page-turner.

Louise Douglas

Louise Douglas is the bestselling and brilliantly reviewed author of novels including The House By The Sea and Missing You – a RNA award winner. The Secrets Between Us was a Richard and Judy Book Club pick. She lives in the West Country.

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Extract from The Scarlet Dress – Louise Douglas

A lively wind danced across the estuary flatlands, shimmying the feathered heads of the reeds that lined the rhynes. Marnie Morahan headed back down the track with the dogs: her own beloved Tessy and the foster dog, a monstrous-looking animal that Jenna at the rescue centre had named Mister. He had short legs and a chest so barrelled that he waddled rather than walked. His head and neck were covered in scars and old wounds from his days as a bait dog, one ear almost completely gone, the other with chunks missing like a leaf got at by snails. His grizzled snout was encased inside a Silence of the Lambs-style muzzle designed to protect him from himself. If another dog came too close, Mister might try to kill it and he was already on his final warning. His next aggressive bite would be his last. 

Marnie loved all animals, even difficult-to-love ones like Mister; especially ones like him. It was people she struggled with. It was a two-way street. Marnie didn’t trust people and most people thought she was weird with her old black clothes and boots, her piercings and tattoos, her hair shaved close to her skull, her sullen expression and downcast eyes; her reluctance to be involved with anyone except for her immediate family, Jenna and her dog-training clients. Her muteness. Marnie knew people called her a misfit, and worse. It didn’t hurt because she was used to it; she’d been the odd one out all her life. Sometimes she worried that her oddness would become an embarrassment to her daughter, Lucy, or worse, that bullies might target Lucy because of her, but fortunately Lucy was a sunny, friendly girl, popular at school. She accepted Marnie as she was and expected others to accept her too. Lucy understood that Marnie could no more change than the sun could rise in the west: she didn’t need to be close to people and people didn’t need to be close to her. 

The track was stony. Gritty puddles had formed in the potholes. The grass that grew in shabby green strips was submerged in the wet. The hedgerows on either side had lost their leaves months earlier and were black and twiggy, and the branches of the wind-worn trees above were jagged, mistletoe growing like ragged hair in the pits of their joints. Deep ruts made by ploughs in undulating stripes across the fields were full of water that reflected the light. 

Clouds raced across a high, wintry sky that morning; a flock of lapwings banked steeply into the air, flashing white then black. Tessy stopped to sniff at a pile of dung and Mister looked up at Marnie with bloodshot, prize-fighter eyes, confused because he did not understand the joys of sniffing. 

Marnie put her hand in the pocket of her ancient coat and pulled out a handful of dried pilchards. She offered one to Mister through the muzzle, but the dog backed away, believing it to be a trick, expecting to be punished. Marnie dropped the treat on the ground. Mister stared at it, but made no move to eat it. 

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

Dark Memories Liz Mistry 5*#Review @LizMistryAuthor @HQStories @rararesources #CrimeFiction #DSNikkiParekh #Detective #BlogTour #BookReview #noir #psychological #suspense #DarkMemories

Three letters. Three murders. The clock is ticking…When the body of a homeless woman is found under Bradford’s railway arches, DS Nikki Parekh and her trusty partner DC Sajid Malik are on the case.

With little evidence, it’s impossible to make a breakthrough, and when Nikki receives a newspaper clipping taunting her about her lack of progress in catching the killer, she wonders if she has a personal link to the case.

When another seemingly unrelated body is discovered, Nikki receives another note. Someone is clearly trying to send her clues… but who?

And then a third body is found.

This time on Nikki’s old street, opposite the house she used to live in as a child. And there’s another message… underneath the victim’s body.

With nothing but the notes to connect the murders, Nikki must revisit the traumatic events of her childhood to work out her connection to the investigation.

But some memories are best left forgotten, and it’s going to take all Nikki’s inner strength to catch the killer…

Before they strike again.

The heart-stopping and totally addictive new crime thriller from Liz Mistry will keep you reading long into the night! 

Amazon UK Amazon

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

My Thoughts…

This is a gritty, noir crime series which immerses the reader in a dangerous urban world. D.S. Nikki Parekh is believable and easy to like. The distinction between personal and professional events is an important theme. The characters are relatable and vibrant and bring the twisty plot to life.

This is a poignant story highlighting the future damage of abuse and social deprivation for people. The setting is authentically urban and vividly described. Despite disturbing issues, there is a balance of good and evil which makes this absorbing reading.

Liz Mistry

Born in Scotland, Made in Bradford sums up Liz Mistry’s life. Over thirty years ago she moved from a small village in West Lothian to Yorkshire to get her teaching degree. Once here, Liz fell in love with three things; curries, the rich cultural diversity of the city … and her Indian husband (not necessarily in this order). Now thirty years, three children, two cats (Winky and Scumpy) and a huge extended family later, Liz uses her experiences of living and working in the inner city to flavour her writing. Her gritty crime fiction police procedural novels set in Bradford embrace the city she describes as ‘Warm, Rich and Fearless’ whilst exploring the darkness that lurks beneath.

Struggling with severe clinical depression and anxiety for a large number of years, Liz often includes mental health themes in her writing. She credits the MA in Creative Writing she took at Leeds Trinity University with helping her find a way of using her writing to navigate her ongoing mental health struggles. Being a debut novelist in her fifties was something Liz had only dreamed of and she counts herself lucky, whilst pinching herself regularly to make sure it’s all real. One of the nicest things about being a published author is chatting with and responding to readers’ feedback and Liz regularly does events at local libraries, universities, literature festivals and open mics. She also teaches creative writing too. Now, having nearly completed a PhD in Creative Writing focussing on ‘the absence of the teen voice in adult crime fiction’ and ‘why expansive narratives matter’, Liz is chock full of ideas to continue writing.

In her spare time, Liz loves pub quizzes (although she admits to being rubbish at them), dancing (she does a mean jig to Proud Mary – her opinion, not ratified by her family), visiting the varied Yorkshire landscape, with Robin Hoods Bay being one of her favourite coastal destinations, listening to music, reading and blogging about all things crime fiction on her blog, The Crime Warp. 

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Posted in Blog Blitz, Book Review, Crime, Mystery, Suspense, Thriller

Find You First Linwood Barclay 5*#Review @linwood_barclay @HQStories #BloggerDay #BookReview #suspense #mystery #thriller #CrimeFiction #FindYouFirst

Tech billionaire Miles has more money than he can ever spend, and everything he could dream of – except time. Now facing a terminal illness, Miles knows he must seize every minute to put his life in order. And that means taking a long hard look at his past.  

Somewhere out there, Miles has children. And they might be about to inherit both the good and bad from him – possibly his fortune, or possibly something more sinister. So Miles decides to track down his missing children.  

But a vicious killer is one step ahead of him. One by one, people are vanishing. Not just disappearing, every trace of them is wiped. 

Amazon UK

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

My Thoughts…

This is an immersive, intense and intricate psychological suspense. Miles, a successful app developer, discovers he has a degenerative inherited condition. Time is running out he wants to find his possible children, warn them and let them share in his wealth. There are numerous conflicts to this aim, but some surmounted with money, but why are his heirs disappearing?

This story has multiple characters, and points of view, which gives the reader an omnipotent view of events but no not every point of view is trustworthy, and this story has plenty of false leads. The suspense builds throughout, and the ending delivers shocks and surprises. The answers are in the story but well disguised by clever plotting, and fast pace. It’s a story that draws on contemporary themes and resonates.

Posted in Audiobook Review, Blog Tour, Friendship, Mystery, Romance, Suspense, Travel, Young Adult

The Island C.L.Taylor 4* #Review @callytaylor @HQStories Narrators Olivia Dowd, Sam Newton, Sarah Ovens, HQ Young Adult #YA #Romance #Teen #Mystery #Psychological #Suspense # audiobook #Relationships #Phobias #BlogTour #FridayMorning #Thailand #TheIsland #HarperCollinsAudioUK

It was supposed to be the perfect holiday: a week-long trip for six teenage friends on a remote tropical island.

But when their guide dies of a stroke leaving them stranded, the trip of a lifetime turns into a nightmare.

Because someone on the island knows each of the group’s worst fears. And one by one, they’re becoming a reality.

Amazon UK

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

My Thoughts…

This is a suspenseful story about six teenagers marooned on an island. Their darkest fears materialise as someone is turning paradise into hell. The characters are authentic and behave relatably. After witnessing an adult tragedy, the team dynamics start to crumble. Vulnerabilities and weaknesses rule each of the teenagers’ motivations. A vividly portrayed island setting is integral to the suspense. The dual point of views are both unreliable protagonists can their accounts be trusted?

The story has psychological suspense and insights into team dynamics and how stress affects individuals and the group. There are poignant moments and twists with a satisfying ending. It’s a fast-paced read which keeps you turning the pages.

The audiobook’s narrators bring the characters to life the different people and their changing emotions and reactions to each other are easy to discern. The narration is professional and builds the suspense and tension in the story well. It’s an easy book to listen to, and you soon become involved in the action and emotions

This audiobook is an addictive medley of naivety and noir that will appeal to its intended audience and adults who like psychological suspense and atmospheric settings.

Posted in Blog Tour, Book Review, Friendship, Mystery, Romance, Suspense, Travel, Young Adult

The Island C.L.Taylor 4* #Review @callytaylor @HQStories #YA #Romance #Teen #Mystery #Psychological #Suspense #BookReview #BlogTour #FridayReads #Thailand #TheIsland

It was supposed to be the perfect holiday: a week-long trip for six teenage friends on a remote tropical island.

But when their guide dies of a stroke leaving them stranded, the trip of a lifetime turns into a nightmare.

Because someone on the island knows each of the group’s worst fears. And one by one, they’re becoming a reality.

Amazon UK

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

My Thoughts…

This is a suspenseful story about six teenagers marooned on an island. Their darkest fears materialise as someone is turning paradise into hell. The characters are authentic and behave relatably. After witnessing an adult tragedy, the team dynamics start to crumble. Vulnerabilities and weaknesses rule each of the teenagers’ motivations. A vividly portrayed island setting is integral to the suspense. The dual point of views are both unreliable protagonists can their accounts be trusted?

The story has psychological suspense and insights into team dynamics and how stress affects individuals and the group. There are poignant moments and twists with a satisfying ending. It’s a fast-paced read which keeps you turning the pages.

It’s an addictive medley of naivety and noir that will appeal to its intended audience and adults who like psychological suspense and atmospheric settings.

Posted in Blog Blitz, Book Review, Noir, Psychological Thriller, Science Fiction, Suspense, Thriller

Sleepless Louise Mumford 4*#Review @louise_mumford @HQStories @rararesources #BookReview #AudiobookReview #Sleepless #psychological #suspense #dystopian #thriller #Insomnia #BlogTour #PublicationDayPush

Don’t close your eyes. Don’t fall asleep. Don’t let them in.

Thea is an insomniac; she hasn’t slept more than three hours a night for years.

So when an ad for a sleep trial that promises to change her life pops up on her phone, Thea knows this is her last chance at finding any kind of normal life.

Soon Thea’s sleeping for longer than she has in a decade, and awakes feeling transformed. So much so that at first she’s willing to overlook the oddities of the trial – the lack of any phone signal; the way she can’t leave her bedroom without permission; the fact that all her personal possessions are locked away, even her shoes.

But it soon becomes clear that the trial doesn’t just want to help Thea sleep. It wants to control her sleep…An unputdownable, gripping psychological thriller

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

My Thoughts…

This story gets full marks for originality. The theme of insomnia is a relatable one and the author’s interpretation an interesting balance of imagination and reality. I also listened to the audiobook edition of this. The excellent narration makes the story come alive, creating a claustrophobic and immersive story.

It begins with Thea’s desperation to sleep, which makes her apply for a scientific trial that uses new techniques. She ends up on a creepy island with a medley of different characters. The first part of the story is atmospheric and disturbing, the people running the programme are they trustworthy? Thea’s sense of what is real is impaired, as is her judgement. The author creates a believably, frightening world.

There’s nail-biting drama and then the story twist into something else. After dramatic events, the story becomes more like a science-fiction, dystopian drama, but with the same characters.

The characters are vivid, and the events described using sensory imagery that draws the reader into the story. There’s something for everyone in this mix of genres. This is a unique and disturbing story, with an eerie ending.

Louise Mumford

Louise was born and lives in South Wales. From a young age she loved books and dancing, but hated having to go to sleep, convinced that she might miss out on something interesting happening in the world whilst she dozed – much to her mother’s frustration! Insomnia has been a part of her life ever since.

She studied English Literature at university and graduated with first class honours. As a teacher she tried to pass on her love of reading to her students (and discovered that the secret to successful teaching is… stickers! She is aware that that is, essentially, bribery.)

In the summer of 2019 Louise experienced a once-in-a-lifetime moment: she was discovered as a new writer by her publisher at the Primadonna Festival. Everything has been a bit of a whirlwind since then.

Louise lives in Cardiff with her husband and spends her time trying to get down on paper all the marvellous and frightening things that happen in her head.

Her debut thriller, SLEEPLESS, will be published by HQ on 11th Dec 2020.

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Posted in Blog Tour, Book Review, Espionage - Spy - Thriller, Political Thriller, Suspense

A Time to Lie Simon Berthon 4* #Review @HQStories @simonberthon #political #psychological #suspense #BlogTour #BookReview

A divisive prime minister. A long-buried body. A plot to bring him down…

The bigger the secret the more dangerous it is to lie…

On the morning of the Tory Party conference, the bones of a young woman’s hand are discovered in a London building site.

Jed Fowkes, Special Adviser at the Treasury, confronts Prime Minister Robin Sandford with a terrible accusation. He claims the hand belongs to someone they once knew well: a young woman whom Sandford murdered years ago.

With his career on the brink of ruin, the Prime Minister’s only hope is to enlist the unofficial help of MI5. A decision which leads him into a new world of espionage, illegal trafficking and murder.

And the deeper he goes, the more treacherous the game becomes. Because now it’s not just his life on the line; it’s the future of the state itself 

Amazon UK

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

My Thoughts…

This is a political thriller set in contemporary times with relatable characters and believable events. There is a fusion of genres here, as the main protagonists are all essentially unreliable, producing elements of psychological suspense.

Flashbacks to the 1990s evoke interesting historical social and political events adding authenticity. The short chapters and fast-pace keep the reader guessing. There are many twists, people who are not what they seem to make this an absorbing read. The ending is impactful and leaves the reader with a final disturbing twist.

I

Posted in Blog Blitz, Book Review, Domestic Thriller, Noir, Psychological Thriller, Suspense

The Watchful Neighbour Debbie Viggiano 5*#Review @DebbieViggiano @rararesources #Psychological #suspense #domesticnoir #BlogBlitz #PublicationDay #BookReview

When Jade Ferguson’s affair with a married man abruptly ends, she’s devastated.

There is no quick fix for a broken heart.  A fresh start is required.

New job. New home. New neighbours.

The residents of Gresham Terrace seem pleasant enough.

Except for one…

An absolutely gripping debut psychological thriller.

Amazon Amazon UK

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

My Thoughts…

This is an addictive story. The suspense builds as the story progresses, and every chapter brings a new twist. Who to believe? Who is the true antagonist in this claustrophobic, creepy domestic suspense?

Jade tries to make a new start after a messy love affair and subsequent mental health issues. She’s not an easy character to like, or understand, and the extent of her mental health issues are unclear. She makes a good unreliable protagonist.

This is a multi-viewpoint story which adds to the plot’s complexity and suspense. All the neighbours have secrets and are unreliable, especially since one may be the story’s antagonist. This is a well-paced story that held my interest, and the final twist ends the story perfectly.

Debbie Viggiano

Prior to turning her attention to writing, Debbie Viggiano was, for more years than she cares to remember, a legal secretary. She lives with her Italian husband, a rescued pooch from Crete, and a very grumpy cat. Occasionally her adult children return home bringing her much joy… apart from when they want to raid the fridge or eat her secret stash of chocolate.

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

Bright Lies A.A. Abbot 4* #Review @AAAbbottStories #thriller #CrimeFiction #Domestic #Noir #Betrayal #Lies #noircrime #psychological #suspense #BrightLies @RandomTTours

She’s learned too much, too young. Can she break free?

Emily’s dreams come true when her mother marries wealthy painter, David. Thanks to him, Emily’s artistic talents shine. Then he starts teaching her things a 14-year-old shouldn’t know. While Emily breaks free, she’s forced to sleep in a rat-infested alley.

Bad boy Jack has turned his life around. Working as a DJ with ambitions to open a club, he rescues Emily from the streets when he sees a woman in trouble. He doesn’t know she’s still only 15 – and trapped in a dark web of secrets and lies.

David must find Emily and silence her. As he closes in, Jack faces the hardest choice of all. If he saves Emily, he’ll kiss goodbye to his future…

What would you sacrifice for love?

Amazon UK

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

My Thoughts…

This is a disturbing, intense psychological suspense, an insightful and sensitive exploration of domestic and child abuse and the resultant damage. The subject matter is difficult to read. Emily and Jack’s vulnerability and the perversions of David and his ilk are well-written without the need for an overly graphic description. This exploration of a contemporary issue is relatable and sinister because it parallels reality.

The characters are defined, and flawed some are easy to empathise because of their vulnerability. Others are despicable and easy to hate.

Although this more suspense than a thriller, the writing style and structure keep the momentum and make this a page-turner. The pacy plot keeps the reader on edge, the undercurrents of menace apparent and intensify as the story progresses.

This is noir crime creating a gritty, vice-ridden world that you want the protagonists to escape.

A.A.Abbott

British crime thriller writer A.A. Abbott (also known as Helen Blenkinsop) loves to escape with an exciting and emotional read, and that’s what she aims to write too. Based in Bristol, she’s also lived and worked in London and Birmingham. All three cities feature in her pacy suspense thrillers. Her latest psychological thriller, ‘Bright Lies’, begins in North Somerset with a posh art exhibition in Bath. Young Emily meets the man who will change her life and cause her to run away to a squat in Birmingham, work in a nightclub and get further entangled in a web of lies.

To write ‘Bright Lies’, Helen has had advice from thirty beta readers on subjects as varied as police procedure, drug abuse, grooming, art, music, DJing and clubbing. She’s grateful to them and to her editor, Katharine D’Souza, for making huge improvements to the story.

Helen’s earlier 5 book Trail series is a lighter read focused on a vodka business. Snow Mountain is a premium vodka made in the former Soviet Union, and its owners have blood on their hands. The saga follows the fortunes of two families running the business and what happens when they fall out with each other and with a London gangster. Glamorous heroine Kat is the girl readers love to hate at the beginning of the series, but by the last book, she has won them over. Book research for the series included prison life, hotel research and vodka. Helen especially enjoyed a tour and tasting with the helpful folk at the Chase Distillery in Herefordshire.

Like 10% of us, many of Helen’s family are dyslexic. While she is not, she wants her books to be enjoyed by readers with dyslexia and visual impairment too. She publishes her thrillers in a Large Print dyslexia-friendly edition as well as the standard paperback and Kindle versions. (You can also adjust the font on your Kindle to suit your needs.) Audiobooks are definitely on the cards – watch this space!

Helen likes speaking to book groups, business networks and social circles, and reading thrillers and short stories at live fiction events and on Zoom. If you’re a book blogger, litfest organiser, reviewer or simply adore books, she’d love to hear from you.

Helen is a member of the Alliance of Independent Authors, Bristol Fiction Writers’ Group, and Birmingham’s New Street Authors.

Find out more and get a free e-book of short stories at https://aaabbott.co.uk