Posted in Blog Tour, Book Review, Contemporary Fiction, Historical Crime Fiction, Literary Fiction, Mystery, New Books, Political Thriller

The Garfield Conspiracy Owen Dwyer 4* #Review @OwenDwyerAuthor @LibertiesPress @midaspr #BlogTour #BookReview #publicationday #histfic #psycholgical #contemporaryfiction #TheGarfieldConspiracy #IrishFiction #LiteraryFiction

A burnt-out writer is visited by the characters he is researching while writing a book about the mysterious assassination of US President James Garfield.

Richard Todd, an award-winning writer, is outwardly successful but inwardly plagued by uncertainties. Worst of all, he can’t seem to write any more. When a bright young editor, Jenny Lambe, arrives on his doorstep to work with him on his latest book, about the assassination of US president James Garfield, his life is sent spinning off in a new direction.

President Garfield was killed by Charles Guiteau, who was tried and hanged for the murder. But was he acting alone, in July 1881, or was there a more sinister force at work? Richard hears Guiteau’s voice in his head, and as his relationship with Jenny deepens, he is visited by other characters from the assassination drama – including Garfield himself, his Secretary of State James Blaine, Republican senator Roscoe Conkling, Conkling’s mistress Kate Chase Sprague, and the investigating police officer, Detective McElfresh. Are they helping Richard to solve the mystery surrounding Garfield’s murder – or pushing him further towards the edge?

A remarkable, disturbing portrait of a middle-aged man torn between his carefully constructed life and new adventures which may beckon, in the present and the past, from one of Ireland’s most exciting emerging authors, and based on original research into a little-known period in US history.

Amazon UK

I received a copy of this book from the author and publisher via Midas PR in return for an honest review.

My Thoughts…

An engaging medley of historical and literary fiction, this original story is a satisfying read. It begins with a once-successful author being confronted with his failings by a young historical researcher at the behest of his publisher. Richard is a little stereotypical, as is Jenny, but this is intentional, and the reasoning becomes clear as the story progresses.

The author explores contemporary issues in a thought-provoking way. The story’s historical aspect is refreshing and well-researched. The appearance of the salient characters in the story brings it to vibrant life. The twist is unexpected and completes this unique story perfectly.

Owen Dwyer

Owen Dwyer is a prize-winning short-story writer who has won the Hennessy Emerging Fiction Prize, the Silver Quill (twice), the Smiling Politely Very Very Short Story competition, the South Tipperary County Council Short Story competition and the Biscuit Fiction Prize, and has had stories published in Whispers and Shouts magazine. His previous novel, Number Games, was published to glowing reviews by Liberties Press in 2019, and follows The Cherry-picker (2012) and The Agitator (2004). Owen lives in Dublin with his wife and their three children.

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

The Ice Killer Ross Greenwood 5* #Review #DIBarton @greenwoodross @BoldwoodBooks #CrimeFiction #PsychologicalThriller #suspense #boldwoodbloggers @rararesources #BlogTour #BookReview #TheIceKiller

Once, her heart was empty. Now it’s filled with ice…

Ellen’s therapist told her to forget the past, but the life she’s left with is boring. All she wants is to be happy and normal, but the approaching long bleak nights of winter loom heavy before her, especially as she’ll be alone.

But when the secrets her mother put in place to protect her are exposed, Ellen learns the frightening truth. Her history is darker than she imagined. She’s not who she thinks she is, and the real her is a very different person to the one that others have mistreated and exploited.

If there’s hope of a future, Ellen must find answers about the past, and the new Ellen is less forgiving. This winter, there will be more than just discontent, and DI Barton will struggle in his hardest case to date.

How can he find the truth when all the victims and witnesses are dead?

Amazon UK

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

My Thoughts…

The last book in the DI Barton trilogy but hopefully there will be more as it has refreshing originality. This story follows the dual person point of view of the previous books. There’s a unique insight into the killer’s past that leads to the current killing spree. The third-person perspective charts the police investigation that follows in the killer’s wake.

It’s difficult not to empathise with the antagonist who carries out some personally motivated vigilante killings. This is noir-crime that reveals the underbelly of society and its failings. DI Barton acts up to DCI after surviving a deadly attack in a previous case. The team dynamics are believable, and the personal aspects of the detectives’ lives add authenticity and balance to the crimes they investigate.

The plot is realistically paced and keeps its secrets until the end. This is a poignant crime story with a relatable investigation team.

Extract from The Ice Killer – Ross Greenwood

Carl Quantrill.’

That was my card. Even then, I knew not to aim high. I was a five-out-of-ten, maybe a six if I tamed my black hair, and I was bright enough to know that Danny Stanton wouldn’t have been able to pick me out in a line-up of llamas. At that moment, my expression resembled one.

Carl Quantrill was the mysterious guy at school with slightly too long greasy hair, which covered his eyes. He only responded to his surname as he thought it was cooler than Carl. A suggestion of body odour added to his allure. He drawled and mumbled. I’d had a few conversations with him but often failed to catch what he’d said. I’d be too nervous to ask for clarification and so would smile instead. He would be my first, but that was many years later.

I was crazy about him. I’d worn away Damon Albarn’s face on my Blur poster with kissing practice. As Carl opened the card that day, flames threatened to burst from my cheeks. All I’d written was, ‘To my Valentine’. He couldn’t have known I sent it, yet he immediately turned around and stared my way. He ripped the card to pieces and threw it in the air. The girls gasped, most of them, anyway, while the boys cheered.

Miss Diamond’s mouth opened and closed. She should have stopped there and then but something made her plough on; each new name another dagger driven into my unloved heart.

‘Sally Dawning.’ My best friend, sitting next to me.

‘Scarlett Starr.’

‘Danny Stanton.’

‘Jim Jones.’

And so on, with escalating cheers and boos echoing around the room. But the last letter was for me. ‘Ellen Toole.’

I couldn’t believe my good fortune, even though it was the smallest one by far. I turned to Sally, whose pudgy fingers were pressing her card to the desk as if it might float away. She smiled at me with genuine happiness. I suspected mine was from Sally, because I’d secretly sent hers. The room stilled while I opened my flimsy envelope with trembling fingers. The card had a single white rose on the cover, and I looked inside.

There was only one word in capitals. UGLY.

Ross Greenwood

Ross Greenwood is the bestselling author of eight crime thrillers. Before becoming a full-time writer he was most recently a prison officer and so worked everyday with murderers, rapists and thieves for four years. He lives in Peterborough.

Newsletter Sign Up Facebook Bookbub Twitter

Posted in Book Review, Gothic Fiction, Historical Fiction, Psychological Thriller

4* #Review The Woman in the Lake- Nicola Cornick

‘I see it all again: the silver moon swimming beneath the water and the golden gown billowing out about her…’

1765: Lady Isabella Gerard asks her maid to take her new golden gown and destroy it. Its shimmering beauty has been tainted by the actions of her husband the night before.

Three months later: Lord Eustace Gerard stands beside the lake looking down at the woman in the golden gown. As the body slowly rolls over to reveal her face, it’s clear this is not his intended victim…

1996: Fenella Brightwell steals a stunning gown from a stately home. Twenty years later and reeling from the end of an abusive marriage, she wonders if it has cursed her all this time. Now she’s determined to discover the history behind the beautiful golden dress…

Amazon UK

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

My Thoughts…

Domestic abuse is the dark theme of this timeslip novel. Another central element is the mystical influence of a golden gown, the reader finds characters linked over time, both victims of abusive partners.

The historical detail and setting for the eighteenth century part of the novel are atmospheric and absorbing. Lady Isabella is perhaps the easiest of the characters to empathise, as she suffers her husband’s mental and physical abuse.

Fenella suffers a similar fate in the present day, and its effects force her into the role of an unreliable protagonist. You are not sure of her true motives and whether she really sees what she says she does.

The characters are complex and well written. The story has a supernatural element, which could be explained away as the psychological impact of the women’s abuse but there is always an element of doubt that keeps the reader guessing.

Well-paced with a layered plot, the book keeps you enthralled until the end.

Posted in Book Review

Time Is A Killer 4* Review – Michel Bussi

It is summer 1989, and fifteen-year-old Clotilde is on holiday with her parents in Corsica. On a twisty mountain road, their car comes off at a curve and plunges into a ravine. Only Clotilde survives.

Twenty-seven years later, she returns to Corsica with her husband and their sulky teenage daughter. Clotilde wants the trip to do two things – to help exorcise her past, and to build a bridge between her and her daughter. But in the very place where she spent that summer all those years ago, she receives a letter. From her mother. As if she were still alive.

As fragments of memory come back, Clotilde begins to question the past. And yet it all seems impossible – she saw the corpses of her mother, her father, her brother. She has lived with their ghosts. But then who sent this letter – and why?

Amazon UK

Amazon

My Thoughts…

There are lots of intelligent components in this international thriller; The backstory in the form of a real-time teenage diary. Corsica’s way of life that is often at odds with the legal system and government that allows illegality to go unpunished and the parallels between the family in August 1989 and the family in 2016.

The characterisation is convincing and compelling, through Clotilde’s eyes they come alive both in the past and present. The twisty plot takes away as many clues as it gives and to truly understand it you must accept the Corsican culture’s uniqueness.

Compelling and detailed it’s a page-turning read but a very long story. The repetition is necessary for the story as Clotilde’s memories return but this adversely affects the pacing and reduces the impact of the revelations.

There is an overriding sadness to this story of loss and, so many lives blighted but the ending is adrenaline-fueled and suspenseful, and the balance of good and evil returns.

I received a copy of this book from the Orion Publishing Group W&N via NetGalley in return for an honest review.

 

Posted in Book Review

The Two Houses 4*Review – Fran Cooper

 

‘The Two Houses sit grey and brooding beneath a pale sky.
They cling to the hillside, cowering from the wind, because always, before everything up here, there is the wind.
The Two Houses were not always two. But if it is human to build – even up here, in this blasted northern hinterland – it is human to break, too.’

After an acclaimed career in ceramics, Jay herself has cracked. Recovering from a breakdown, she and her husband Simon move to the desolate edges of the north of England, where they find and fall in love with the Two Houses: a crumbling property whose central rooms were supposedly so haunted that a previous owner had them cut out from the building entirely.

But on uprooting their city life and moving to the sheltered grey village of Hestle, Jay and Simon discover it’s not only the Two Houses that seems to be haunted by an obscure past. It becomes increasingly clear that the villagers don’t want them there at all – and when building work to make the two houses whole again starts, a discovery is made that will unearth decades-old secrets…

But who in this village has been hiding them?

Amazon UK

Amazon

My Thoughts…

At first glance, this appears to be a ghost story. While the writing style is atmospheric, creepy and gothic, the content is more grounded. The ghosts are emotional, bad memories and entrenched secrets kept by the living rather than the dead.

Escaping to the country seems like a rest cure for Jay and Simon, reeling from Jay’s emotional breakdown when she discovers she cannot have children. A ceramic artist Jay’s work suffers until she shies away from it and everyone attached to it. Simon loves her but doesn’t necessarily understand her. His constant presence is claustrophobic for his free-spirited wife. She doesn’t want to share her emotions just to make him feel worthwhile.

So when they find a quirky, broken down property, two houses severed in their past. Jay loves it, and Simon who wants his wife to recover agrees, although he is looking for a bolt hole and she is searching for a new life.

The villagers are suspicious of the interloper’s motives and the reasons for this gradually become clear as the story progresses. It’s not just because they want to protect the secrets of the old houses, their way of life has disintegrated with the closure of the mines and farms, young people want to leave, and only the old ones and those who cannot survive elsewhere are left. They want to protect their way of life even if it’s not what it once was.

The characters are realistic, as is their behaviour when confronted with newcomers. Jay becomes obsessed with the house’s secrets to the exclusion of all else, but maybe this is part of her healing process?

The plot reveals its clues and misinformation as it progresses, the pacing is slow because of the detailed descriptions and the internal conflict of the main characters.

Mysterious and suspenseful but not written in a commercial, contemporary style, it is all about the characters and their interaction with the setting. It resonates as you read and the two houses’ story is infinitely sadder than you first imagine.

I liked it and found the ending particularly poignant. It conveys the sense of stability and people becoming as one with the land well. It is slow and maybe too detailed in places, but it does fit with a gothic writing style and is a lovely example of this.

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

 

 

Posted in Book Review

Bring Me Back B. A. Paris 5*Review

35857495

The Disappearance
Twelve years ago Finn’s girlfriend disappeared.

The Suspicion
He told the police the truth about that night.
Just not quite the whole truth.

The Fear
Now Finn has moved on.
But his past won’t stay buried…

Amazon

Amazon UK

My Thoughts…

Fast-paced, totally addictive suspense fiction that draws you in from the first lie until the final terrifying twist. Written from Finn and his missing girlfriend’s point of view, you learn their past and current thoughts, without slowing down the story.

Finn is troubled he has a shady past that occasionally resurfaces with devasting results, his obsessive love of Layla his missing girlfriend makes him an obvious suspect in her disappearance but his well-placed lies and excellent legal advice leave him free to rebuild his life.  Twelve years later, Finn has moved on, but random events collide to make him believe the past hasn’t done with him yet.

Focusing on Finn, his current girlfriend, a longtime friend and ex-girlfriend, the cast of this sinister thriller is small. As the menace escalates, Finn cannot trust anyone, and this sense of isolation builds his anger to boiling point.

The gripping final chapters reveal an unexpected twist, with horrific consequences for the story’s major players. I guessed this before the end, but even then, the ultimate revelation is not quite as I envisaged. For me, part of the enjoyment is trying to foresee the outcome before the story’s end. 

The tagline #forgetsleep is true. I read this book through the night yesterday.

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

 

30 July 2018:- P.S. There is another ending to this story, which will please the romantics amongst us,

but the first ending wins for dramatic impact.

 

 

 

 

Posted in Book Review

Don’t Trust Me 4*Review Joss Stirling

37551974

When she arrives at work to discover every trace of the company she was working for has disappeared, Jessica’s life spirals into freefall.

Her romance with Michael, a celebrated criminologist, is already in trouble. He is sick of the unpredictable behaviour caused by her ADHD and is convinced she is a fantasist. When his flat is burgled, and precious belongings that remind him of his dead wife are stolen, he blames her.

Forced to prove her innocence, Jessica sets out to unravel the events of the last few months. But when she stumbles on a dead body, the lies, deceptions and betrayals that have dogged her whole life come back to haunt her.

Can anybody trust her?

Amazon UK

Amazon

My Thoughts…

A cleverly written psychological thriller, with a charismatic, if flawed protagonist who finds her life in turmoil when her boss and his business disappear without a trace when she returns from holiday.
There is a constant niggle at the back of your mind when you’re reading the early chapters of this story as to whether the unfolding events are products of Jessica’s troubled psyche. She is an unreliable protagonist, who abuses her prescription medication and has a naive attitude to sexual partners that threatens her career and self-esteem.
Despite her self-proclaimed flaws and lack of judgement, Jessica doesn’t lack insight into her problems and therefore comes across as a believable witness as the story progresses.
Almost any of the characters could be the antagonist, and this gives the story a cosy mystery ambience at times. There are conspiracy theory elements and plenty of mysteries to solve before Jessica can vindicate herself and solve the puzzle that has become her life.
The only person who truly stands by her is Drew, a delightfully, quirky character who is often shocked by Jessica’s exploits but always gives her the benefit of the doubt, emotional support that has been missing in her life to date.
The plot has plenty of twists and misinformation which keeps the reader guessing, I did work out most of the story about halfway through, but this didn’t spoil the story for me. However, I do feel that the antagonist is revealed sooner than necessary, making the ending more of an action thriller and losing some of its psychological impacts.
‘Don’t Trust Me’, is an eminently, readable thriller that will hold your interest right to the last page.
I received a copy of this book from Killer Reads via NetGalley in return for an honest review.

 

Posted in Book Review

The Taste of Blue Light Lydia Ruffles 2* Review

36975311

An incandescent, soul-searching story about a broken young woman’s search for a truth buried so deep it threatens to consume her, body and mind.

These are the things Lux knows:
She is an artist. 
She is lucky. 
She is broken.

These are the things she doesn’t know:
What happened over the summer.
Why she ended up in hospital.
Why her memories are etched in red. 

Desperate to uncover the truth, Lux’s time is running out. If she cannot piece together the events of the summer and regain control of her fractured mind, she will be taken away from everything and everyone she holds dear.

If her dreams don’t swallow her first.

Amazon UK

Amazon

My Thoughts…

An intense, original story but it is so dark and specific. One person’s vision of mental illness, if you don’t share this viewpoint then connecting with the main character and the plot is hard work and probably not worth the effort. The pacing is too slow.
I am not the intended age group, but I have read a lot of YA literature and usually enjoy it, so I guess it’s just this story that’s not for me.
I received a copy of this book from Hodder Children’s Books via NetGalley in return for an honest review.

 

Posted in Book Review

A Deadly Trade – E.V.Seymour – 4* Review

 

36126279

One moment of weakness can cost you everything…
Rogue assassin Josh Thane is an artist in murder. His next target is a British microbiologist suspected of creating devastating chemical weapons.
Breaking into her house, he discovers someone has beaten him to it – she’s already dead. In a moment of weakness, he saves the life of her son. A single mistake that destroys everything he’s worked for and puts him and the boy in immediate danger…
When Josh embarks on an international quest to find the real killer, he uncovers a criminal conspiracy with truly terrifying consequences. Yet it’s in his own past that the darkest truth lies hidden

Amazon UK

Amazon

My Thoughts…

A fast-paced story with an enigmatic male anti-hero and lots of action. Vividly depicted characters. The setting is described in great detail making it easy to imagine, giving the story its authenticity. A well-written first chapter draws you in. An easy read and hard to put down. I read this in a few hours. The plot is good, but I did work out the twist about half-way through. Knowing the villain didn’t spoil the story for me as I enjoyed having my theories confirmed.

A good contemporary thriller, which combines, spy action, psychological thrills, technology, and a forbidden relationship. I’m looking forward to reading the second book in the series ‘Final Target’.
I received a copy of this book from Killer Reads via NetGalley in return for an honest review.

Posted in Book Review

Her Frozen Heart – Lulu Taylor – 4* Review

               cover121735-medium

“Caitlyn, there’s something I have to tell you. About Sara.”

Caitlyn thinks her marriage to Patrick is a success. For one thing, he is one of the few people not to fall head over heels for her beautiful friend, Sara. Life is lived on his terms, but they are happy. Aren’t they? When a devastating accident turns her existence upside down, Caitlyn is forced to reassess everything she thought about her marriage, what she truly knows about Patrick, and his real feelings for her best friend.In the refuge of an old manor house, she begins to discover the truth.

In 1947, the worst winter in decades hits England, cutting off entirely the inhabitants of Kings Harcourt Manor. For Tommy Carter, widowed at the start of war, it is particularly hard: the burden of the family falls on her. She has the solace of her children, and the interesting presence of her brother’s friend, Fred. But there is also Barbara, a mysterious figure from her past who appears to want a piece of Tommy’s future as well. 

Amazon UK 

Amazon

My Thoughts…

An interesting story set in two time periods.There are parallels between the two main female characters Tommy and Caitlyn, and the past meets the present in the middle of the book. The characters are strong and believable; both women have emotionally difficult lives despite superficial wealth.

The plots are easy to follow, but there are enough twists to hold your interest. The setting is particularly vivid in the historical chapters. The description of the snow and cold was rich in detail and realistic imagery.

The female antagonists in the story hide their deceit and obsessive behaviour behind a cloak of friendliness and vulnerability. The psychological thrills are subtle but make the plot darker than you would first imagine.

The writing showed insight into human emotions and coupled with the vivid imagery it turns an ordinary plot into something worth reading.

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