She stumbled on a bloodied body buried in a snowbank. Will a cold case in Kansas lead her to the killer?
Against a canvas of crime and murder, artist and detective Leila Goodfriend investigates two brutal murders that happened a thousand miles—and decades apart.
As she unravels the truth about these two violent killings, she tracks a trail of blood and revenge, littered with smoke screens and stone relics of a perilous past. From Cape Cod to a casino in Kansas, Leila has to trust her instincts. And her developing relationship with Detective John Grace is put to a new, dangerous test.
Despite the detective’s warnings, Leila puts her life at risk, obsessed with proving her friend’s innocence, at least of murder.
She exposes new suspects and clues, and in the end, reveals a dark, deadly secret from her own past.
Death In Smoke, the new psychological thriller from acclaimed author Barbara Elle, takes readers on an inner and physical journey across time, challenging your assumptions about what is truth—what remains a mystery.
In her stunning debut thriller, Death In Vermilion (The Cape Mysteries Book 1), acclaimed author Barbara Elle paints a clever and twisted picture of women and sisters, whose lives are entwined by a brutal murder in a Cape Cod town. Who can you trust?
Now, Death In Smoke (The Cape Mysteries Book 2) asks what’s the connection between a bloodied body buried in a snow bank on a remote island off the Cape and a cold case in Kansas? Can artist and amateur sleuth Leila Goodfriend solve this new mystery?
Barbara Elle fell in love with books and writing at a young age, honing her writing chops as a copywriter at major publishers publishers and as a freelance journalist.
Growing up in Boston, but she became a New Yorker as an adult. Her writing draws on people and places she remembers, setting The Cape Mysteries on Cape Cod, a place of memories.
Barbara Elle continues collecting characters and plots, often travelling the world with her touring musician husband, bass player and musical director for rock and roll icon Cyndi Lauper. In her travels, Barbara has explored Buddhist temples in Beijing, crypts in Vienna and Kabuki Theater in Tokyo.
I received a copy of this book from Aria via NetGalley in return for an honest review.
Beth Chamberlain is a likeable, realistic character. Dedicated to her career, despite the problems in her personal life. As a family liaison officer, she needs great people skills and well-disguised investigative talent. She is uniquely placed to discover family tensions, and gain the trust of the victims’ relatives and find out the true story.
A historical suicide, a deliberate hit and run, which results in a man’s death. Emotions and suspense build, as the investigation proceeds. Further crimes, throw up more questions, than answers. The relentless investigation, finally finds the answers, leading to a devastating conclusion.
The story explores the concept of trial by social media, and the consequences, both personal and establishment, of this contemporary trend. The wife of the murdered man, who has stood by him, shows her strength of character in the face of public antagonism, against her late husband and her family.
The connection between the various crimes is cleverly interwoven. The police investigation is authentically portrayed. The domestic noir and suspense build gradually, giving the plot added depth and adding the ending’s impact.
Dark crime, complex characters and relatable police investigation team, make this addictive reading. Looking forward to the next one.
Author Interview – Jane Issacs – ‘For Better For Worst’ Blog Tour
Thank you so much for inviting me onto your blog, Jane. I’m thrilled to be here!
Is there a particular event or person who inspired ‘For Better, For Worse’?
Ooh, I can’t say there was a particular event or person that inspired this story, more a combination of things I’ve read and watched in crime news and documentaries over the years. I was particularly struck with someone wrongly accused – or were they? Also, the challenge of being married to someone who holds a dark secret and when that secret is uncovered, the fallout of how they deal with it and ultimately how it affects the family unit.
The idea of a wife standing by her husband and the whole debate of did he/didn’t he seemed such an enticing project to work with.
What comes first in your story creation process, character, plot or setting? Why do think this is?
I think it’s a combination of things that come in stages, like building blocks, and form the foundation of the story. Often one element influences another. For Better, For Worse is the second title in the DC Beth Chamberlain, Family Liaison Officer, series. Beth’s detective character and the setting of Northamptonshire were already established for the series, although I did have to research particular locations and site the new family. As the plot unravelled in my mind, I realised we needed another point of view in Gina Ingram (the councillor’s wife) and built her character into the story.
Do you find dialogue easy to write? How do you create authentic-sounding dialogue in your novels?
I think dialogue can be very tricky to get right. I often imagine speaking it as I write and draft it without speech marks initially to avoid slowing myself down, then tidy it up later.
How do make you protagonists’ responses to a traumatic event believable?
Ooh, good question! Lots of research, talking to people who have been in the situation and reading in and around a similar event in the news or in books. Plus, I like to imagine myself in their shoes, if possible and see how I would react. Even after I’ve drafted a scene, I’ll come back to it and rewrite it several times before I’m completely happy.
Do you enjoy, or have time to read? What are your favourite genres?
Yes, I love to read and do so as much as I can. Crime fiction will always be my first love – I revel in the twists and turns of a good mystery, and love a page-turning psychological thriller. I recently read The Lying Room by Nicci French and couldn’t put it down!
That said, I do like to intersect my thrillers with other books. I’m currently reading The Secret Life of Bees by Sue Monk Kidd which is a beautifully written and uplifting literary novel.
Are there any other genres you would like to write in? If so, what are they, and why do they interest you?
I think the idea of creating your own fantasy world would be really interesting. I loved the Discworld novels by Terry Pratchett, though I’ve no plans to move at present!
Jane Isaac is married to a serving detective and they live in rural Northamptonshire UK with their daughter, and dog, Bollo. Jane loves to hear from readers and writers.
Sign up to her book club at http://eepurl.com/1a2uT for book recommendations and details of new releases, events and giveaways.
If someone was in your house, you’d know. Wouldn’t you? But the Hunter family are deaf and don’t hear a thing when a shocking crime takes place in the middle of the night. Instead, they wake up to their worst nightmare.
The police call Paige Northwood to the scene to interpret for the witnesses. They’re in shock, but Paige senses the Hunters are hiding something.
One by one, people Paige knows from the Deaf community start to fall under suspicion. But who would kill a little girl?
I received a copy of this book from Avon Books UK in return for an honest review.
It’s always interesting to read a crime novel from a new perspective. The death of a child takes place in a household where the adults are deaf. They didn’t hear the intruder. A sign language interpreter knows the family but sacrifices professional detachment determined to find justice for the victim.
The beginning is harrowing and sets the scene for an emotional domestic suspense story. The police procedural aspect is well-written, giving the plot authenticity. It’s the unofficial, personally motivated investigation that Paige undertakes that makes this story absorbing and suspenseful. The characters are complex and believable. I did realise early on who committed the crime, but the plot has many twists and suspects, and a good final twist. It is immersive and poignant, with an adrenaline-inducing conclusion.
Do you listen to your mother? Even after she’s dead? Anna Hardaker is following you … This seemingly innocent Tweet fills Jamie Hardaker with confusion and fear. After all, his mother Anna has been dead for nearly three weeks. What follows is an orchestrated Twitter campaign to lead those Anna loved, and didn’t love so much, to the truth behind her “accidental” death.
I received a copy of the book from the author in return for an honest review.
Claustrophobic and toxic, a dark story about a fractured family. The story focuses on events after Anna’s accidental death. Sinister tweets cast doubt, on the circumstances surrounding Anna’s accident. There are also historical flashbacks of incidents within the family, before Anna’s demise. The story is written from Jamie’s point of view, in the first person. This narrows the story’s perspective but gives it the depth of emotion and immediacy.
A fusion of family drama and psychological suspense, where Jamie is an unreliable protagonist. He feels isolated by his mother’s death, full of anger and grief. The cast of realistically flawed characters, all have their agendas. Jamie’s father is particularly objectionable.
The plot twists, the sinister twitter campaign escalates and Jamie’s behaviour becomes increasingly erratic. He talks to his mother, even thinks he sees her. A symptom of grief? Or something more disturbing?
Being inside Jamie’s mind is exhausting. The final twists, I guessed, but they are believable. They give the story a dark and tragic end.
An immersive domestic thriller that has disturbing realism.
Maria Frankland’s life began at 40 when she escaped an unhappy marriage and began making a living from her own writing and becoming a teacher of creative writing.
The rich tapestry of life with all its turbulent times has enabled her to pour experience, angst and lessons learned into the writing of her novels and poetry.
She recognises that the darkest places can exist within family relationships and this is reflected in the domestic thrillers she writes.
She is a ‘born ‘n’ bred’ Yorkshire woman, a mother of two and has recently found her own ‘happy ever after’ after marrying again.
Still in her forties, she is now going to dedicate the rest of her working life to writing books and inspiring other writers to also achieve their dreams too!
Every Wednesday, like clockwork, the terror returns.
It seems like an ordinary Wednesday, until the phone rings. A mysterious caller with a chilling threat. Journalist Alice Henderson hangs up, ready to dismiss it as a hoax against the newspaper. But the next Wednesday, the stalker makes another move—and it becomes clear that this is all about Alice.
Someone wants her to suffer, but for what? Her articles have made her a popular local champion—could it be her past rather than her work that’s put her life in danger? Alice is determined not to give in to fear, but with the police investigation at a dead end, her boyfriend insists on hiring private investigator Matthew Hill.
With every passing Wednesday, the warnings escalate until it’s not only Alice but also her family in the stalker’s sights. As her tormentor closes in, can Alice uncover what she’s being punished for before the terrifying threats become an unthinkable reality?
I received a copy of this book from Amazon Publishing via NetGalley in return for an honest review.
Authentic and addictive, this story explores what it’s like to be the focus of a stalker. The suspense builds from the first disturbing, unexpected contact and ends in a heart-pounding conclusion.
Alice, the journalist fulfils the role of an unreliable protagonist. She hates feeling vulnerable, not being able to live her life as she wants to. Her independence is gradually eroded. Her family is small but supportive and she is protective of them. The familial love is a strong theme of this story in both viewpoints portrayed. Alice has secrets, which are not immediately obvious but make her unreliable.
The character notated as ‘Him’, you presume is the antagonist. His story is poignant but increasingly menacing. Again familial love is a predominant theme, but here it takes a dark focus. The plot has many twists and viable suspects. Multiple plot strands, make the investigation complicated, for the police and the reader.
For those who have read the author’s previous book ‘The Promise’, Mathew Hill, the investigator is also a pivotal character in this story. His family life with wife Sally we first met in ‘The Promise’, and his lively daughter, provide light relief, in this often dark story.
This is a page-turning read. Alice is easy to empathise, and you feel her fear and frustration. The plot is relatable and clever, there are no loose ends, with it’s just ending. There is a poignant echo of the sad little boy you meet early in the story.
Ten years ago, Jess’s mother was murdered by the Magpie Man. She was the first of his victims but not the last. Now Jess is the star of a YouTube reality series and she’s using it to catch the killer once and for all. The whole world is watching her every move. And so is the Magpie Man.
I received a copy of this book from Penguin UK Books in return for an honest review.
‘Are You Watching?’ has universal appeal for those drawn to page-turning reads. The social media and YouTube concept is aimed at young adults.
Jess hopes her story will attract a viral audience and draw out her mother’s killer. Told from her point of view, the reader has immediate and uncensored responses from the main protagonist. It also maintains the mystery, as we only know what she does. Relatable and realistic, Jess is a likeable character, with authentic teenage emotions and motivations.
This is an emotional story. Jess feels her mother’s loss but also griefs her family’s demise. Her father is an understandable emotional wreck and she is doing this for him as much as for herself. Parents may question, whether they would have allowed their teenager to do this. Jess’s father feels guilty about his daughter’s damaged life, and will make amends anyway he can.
The book’s structure of short chapters aids the pacing and suspense, which builds as the story progresses. The plot has twists and an unexpected ending.
This story has dark themes, but it is written to engage its target audience. Contemporary fiction focused on crime, relationships, suspense and technology, which will appeal to an older adult audience too.
Vincent Ralph has been writing in one form or another since his teens and always dreamed of being a novelist. He owes his love of books to his mother, who encouraged his imagination from an early age and made sure there were new stories to read. Vincent has lived in London, Cornwall and Chester but he now lives in his home county of Kent with his wife, son and two cats.
When Harry Mackintosh is called upon to exfiltrate a valuable asset from East to West Berlin, what could have been an intelligence coup becomes an international embarrassment. Mackintosh’s men and his lover are killed by the East German secret police in a brutal crossfire and he barely escapes with his life. He flees to the West and promises himself that he will have vengeance.
Mackintosh is the head of Berlin Station but he doesn’t have the staff to compete with the Stasi. He returns to London to plead for the resources to fight back. But instead of the seasoned operatives that he needs, Mackintosh is given a single man: Jimmy Walker, a petty criminal with a record for robbing banks.
Mackintosh takes Walker to Berlin and sets in train an audacious plan that will see them both on the other side of the Wall. Mackintosh and Walker face off against Karl-Heinz Sommer, the Stasi general known as die Spinne – the Spider – a man known for his brutality and ruthlessness.
The plan is already a longshot, and then Walker learns of the riches that Sommer stole from displaced Berliners in the days after the Wall was constructed. Will Walker follow orders or will he find the prospect of the Stasi gold in Sommer’s secret vault too tempting to ignore? Will Mackintosh have his revenge or will he become another fly caught in the Spider’s web?
With ambiguous loyalties, clashing agendas and danger beyond measure, these two men will struggle to form a team. But in a battle as unequal as this, the unexpected might be the best strategy that they have.
THE BERLIN WALL 9 November 2019 marks the 30th anniversary of the fall of the Berlin Wall, one of the 20th Century’s most notorious structures. Built-in 1961 to divide East and West Germany, by the late 80s it was 156 km long with a 15m ‘death strip’ guarded by 11,500 border guards under shoot-to-kill orders. At least 140 people lost their lives at the Wall. The last in 1989 just months before it fell.
I received a copy of this book from the author in return for an honest review.
An atmospheric spy thriller set in Berlin, in the months preceding the fall of the Berlin Wall.
A failed mission leaves Harry Mackintosh, damaged emotionally and professionally. He wants revenge, but will his bosses see the political expediency of his plan?
Jimmy Walker has more to recommend him, than his career as a safe breaker, but is he the man Mackintosh needs for this dangerous off the book’s mission?
The men form an unwilling partnership, in a deniable operation, which is both personal and professional for Mackintosh.The cast of characters are realistic, but there are no deep characterisations, perhaps reflecting the secret service operatives, lack of personal lives outside their career.
Fast-paced, this spy thriller effortlessly combines plot threads and delivers a believable, suspenseful story, that reflects the political tension at the time in Berlin. The plot has many layers, which are revealed by the main characters in different timescales.
The ending is well written and ties up the loose ends, whilst leaving avenues open for exploration, in further stories.
Absorbing, addictive and adrenaline-fueled, this story has authentic characters and an atmospheric historical setting.
Mark Dawson is an award-nominated, USA Today bestseller, with more than 20 books published and over 2 million books downloaded in multiple countries and languages. Mark was born in Lowestoft, in the UK. He has worked as a DJ, a door-to-door ice-cream seller, factory hand and club promoter. He eventually trained as a lawyer and worked for ten years in the City of London and Soho, firstly pursuing money launderers and then acting for A-list celebrities suing newspapers for libel.