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My Sister’s Bones by Nuala Ellwood

After the death of her mother, Kate Rafter is forced to return to the family home in Herne Bay from Syria where she has been working as a war reporter. Having not returned for many years, Kate is troubled by past memories and is also traumatized by the events she has witnessed in Aleppo. With a sister who drinks to excess and who seemingly has a self-destruct button, Kate’s only ally is her brother-in-law, Paul, who has been struggling to keep his life together. When Kate begins to hear screams and sees a young boy in the garden, are they hallucinations from the medication she is taking or is there something much more sinister going on?

From the outset, we know that Kate has committed a crime as she is undergoing a psychological assessment at a police station. What we don’t know, however, is what she has been accused of doing. Through these interviews, we get to see two sides of Kate – the tough, determined woman who risks life and limb on a daily basis to report from the horrors of Aleppo and also the emotional, caring person who is distraught by the memories of a young boy she befriended in Syria who, we assume, has since died. It soon becomes apparent that she has hurt someone since being back in Herne Bay, but who? I loved the way the author shifts between the psych interviews and the events taking place at Kate’s mother’s house as this left me desperately wanting to know what happened to link the two.

Kate is a very difficult character to understand – are the strange occurrences really happening or are they figments of her imagination? With all she has witnessed in her past, there is no doubt that it would be understandable if she was hallucinating but then there are more tangible events like an open door or a marble placed in the garden.

I was surprised when, halfway through the book, the focus shifted to Kate’s sister, Sally, the alcoholic who has lost all interest in life. This is a very clever move as it enables us to see some of the same events from a different point of view. I grew to like Sally much more and started to question some of the things that we had been previously been told. She cut a very tragic figure who, although she had not been treated badly by her father like her sister had, was going through her own personal torture having not seen her daughter for many years.

My Sister’s Bones is quite a slow burner but towards the end, I could not put it down as we discover what everything has been leading towards. It was at this point that the book became truly shocking and we realise that we don’t always know what goes on behind closed doors. I had enjoyed the book up to this point, but the closing chapters really upped the stakes for me and made this one of my favourite books of the year so far.

With thanks to Penguin UK and Net Galley for my ARC.

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COVER REVEAL: The Malice of Angels by Wendy Percival

If you are a fan of mystery stories with a genealogical slant or even just a fan of mystery stories in general, then I can definitely recommend Wendy Percival’s ‘Esme Quentin’ series. The Malice of Angels is the third full-length story and sees the mystery of a nurse’s wartime disappearance open up old wounds for genealogical investigator, Esme Quentin.

Here is a taste of what is to come:

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It wasn’t until she turned into the narrow medieval passageway of Fish Street that Esme Quentin suspected she was being followed. He – if it was a he, it was difficult to be sure, encased as the walker was in a hooded trench coat – seemed to be keeping his distance. He slowed as she slowed, held back if she paused, as though biding his time before approaching her. Perhaps she should grab the initiative and challenge him? Demand to know who he was and what he thought he was doing creeping up on a middle-aged woman in the dark?

She stopped and deliberately looked round, but he must have pulled back out of the halo of the street lamp as he’d disappeared into the shadows.

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The Malice of Angels will be published on 13th October 2017.

Take a look at the author’s website: http://www.wendypercival.co.uk

 

Cold Blood by Robert Bryndza

51zX2mZDnyL._SY346_Erika Foster has seen many dead bodies but the one that has just been found, dismembered, in a suitcase is particularly gruesome. When a link is made to a similar discovery a few weeks before, the detective realises that she has another serial killer on her patch. With limited clues as to the identity of the culprit, Erika’s task is made even more difficult when she is, herself, the victim of a brutal attack. When the loved ones of someone close to the case are threatened, will the reign of terror end or will another family be mourning a loss?

It is hard to imagine a time when Erika Foster did not exist but it has been less than two years since we were first introduced to her in The Girl in the Ice. During this time, we have grown to love the damaged detective who, since the untimely death of her husband, has made work her focus, often to the detriment of her personal life. In this, the fifth instalment, Erika is struggling to define the relationship she has started with a fellow officer whilst putting all of her energy into finding the killer of the man in the suitcase.

Cold Blood shows, once again, how Robert Bryndza has quickly become one of the writers of police procedural novels with a tight storyline and characters that genuinely come to life. The antagonists in this book are particularly well-written and are probably the most heinous to date. Some of the crimes that are committed are truly horrific but by telling the story, in part, from the point of view of one of the killers, we also develop empathy for what they, themselves, are enduring. Whereas Max was more experienced with definite psychopathic tendencies, Nina was younger and more easily manipulated. I spent most of the book willing her to escape his evil clutches but you will have to read the book yourself to see if she succeeds!

Cold Blood is an unpredictable page turner that you definitely don’t want to put down once you have started. The Erika Foster books are fast becoming one of my favourite series and I hope it won’t be too long until the sixth book!

With thanks to Bookouture and Net Galley for my ARC.

 

 

The American Candidate by M J Lee

Genealogical Investigator, Jayne Sinclair, is about to undertake her most high profile case to date after being tasked to research the family history of a potential candidate for the Presidency of the United States of America. When the man who commissioned the research is shot dead in front of her eyes, Jayne realises that someone will stop at nothing to prevent the research from being carried out. Exactly who is the candidate’s mysterious grandfather and why is someone so keen to keep his secrets well hidden? Jayne knows that, if she is to continue with this case, her life is in the utmost danger.

The American Candidate is the third of the Jayne Sinclair series and, in light of recent upheavals in American politics, deals with a very topical subject. Although the first two books in the series (The Irish Inheritance and The Somme Legacy) had an element of danger, this one really ups the ante and is quite violent from the start when someone she has just met is killed in cold blood in front of her. What follows is a mad dash through the streets of London as Jayne and her companion endeavour to escape from assassins disguised as police. This part of the book was very reminiscent of the Dan Brown book The Da Vinci Code and, indeed, even mentioned one of the same locations – Temple Church. I found this chase sequence very exciting and, due to the skills of the people chasing them, was desperate to discover how they would manage to get away.

Like the other books in the series, The American Candidate is set in two time frames, the other era being prior to and during World War Two. We discover quite early on that the candidate’s grandfather was heavily involved in the Nazi movement and, at times, this was quite disturbing to read due to its subject content. It is obvious that the author has done a great deal of research and it was fascinating to read about the English supporters of Hitler’s ideology and their campaigns under Oswald Mosley. It was easy to see how some young men could be seduced into believing what they were being told about the ‘enemy’ – again a very topical subject today.

It’s not often that a book with a genealogical slant has a twist so I was not expecting it when one occurred towards the end of this book. This was a very clever move and was one that all seemed so obvious when it was explained!

The American Candidate is a great addition to the series and I look forward to reading the next one.

The One that Got Away by Annabel Kantaria

 

A Facebook-organised school reunion after fifteen years is hardly top of Stella’s to-do list but she is intrigued as her ex, the renowned businessman George Wolsey will be there. Ever since they split up at the age of eighteen, in rather acrimonious circumstances, they have not been in contact, but that night changes everything. Embarking on an affair built on a web of lies, it soon becomes apparent that once someone gets you back, they may never let you go…

On paper, this is not the sort of book I would usually read, but after being enthralled by Annabel Kantaria’s last book, The Disappearance, I had to give this one a go. I am so glad I did even though I am now suffering from lack of sleep through not being able to put it down!

At the start of the book, my heart went out to Stella, a woman who, despite her highly successful catering company, has always been missing something from her life. George, on the other hand, came across as a bit of a playboy, a ‘jack the lad’ who is used to getting everything his own way. When they met at the reunion, I cringed as he tried it on with Stella despite his wife, Ness, being in the same room. Ness appeared to be the sort of woman content with turning a blind eye to her husband’s misdemeanours as long as she was able to wear the finest clothes and receive the latest cosmetic procedure.

What happened next completely shifted my opinion of all three characters as Annabel Kantaria gives a masterclass on how we can’t always know what goes on behind closed doors. Appearances can certainly be deceiving and this is definitely the case in The One That Got Away as George descends into a spiral of despair and Stella’s manipulations come to the fore. By the end of the book, my opinions of the characters had changed so much that I was willing George to return to the philandering ways we experience at the start.

My only concern was the ending. Don’t get me wrong – it was a very unexpected and worthy finale, but I really wanted a different form of closure for George. That is just my personal opinion though!

The One That Got Away is another fantastic read from Annabel Kantaria and I thank her, Net Galley and HQ for the ARC.

 

 

***BLOG TOUR*** Find Me by J S Monroe

I am pleased to be today’s stop on the Find Me blog tour.

Five years ago, Jar’s life changed forever when his girlfriend, Rosa, jumped to her death from a pier. Although Rosa had recently lost her father, her suicide was not exactly expected and Jar is finding it difficult to accept that she would take this action. Haunted by her memory, he sees her everywhere he goes, knowing full well that they are hallucinations. That is until he actually sees her – for real – in a train station. Then he receives an email: Find me, Jar. Find me, before they do…

Well, I can say with some certainty that this book was not what I expected! Recently, I read a book where the title character was wrongly presumed dead and I, naively, assumed this would be in a similar vein. It did start off in the way I expected with Jar refusing to give up hope despite a verdict of suicide being recorded. Of course, with no body being found, there was always a chance that Rosa would turn up somewhere and I don’t think it is too much of a spoiler when I say she does. What was particularly clever here, however, was this was not simply a plot where you spend the whole book awaiting the reunion as this happened fairly early on. This book is more about discovering the circumstances behind her disappearance and Jar’s determination to uncover the complete truth.

J. S. Monroe

Due to the shifts in time, Find Me is definitely a book where you have to concentrate otherwise it could become a tad confusing. It is also told from the perspective of several characters, mainly Jar, although we get to read Rosa’s diary and also a journal of an unnamed character who I shall refrain from naming so as not to give too much away! By using this style of writing, the author has ensured that all aspects of the story are covered and there are no unanswered questions.

It is not often that I am completely shocked by a book but I was totally taken aback when I found out exactly what had happened to Rosa. If you are a person of a nervous disposition, then this is where the book may become a bit uncomfortable as the descriptions of torture and those of animal cruelty are extremely graphic. This does make Find Me stand out from other books, however, and made it a gripping, unpredictable read. J S Monroe has managed to write a very clever, claustrophobic book where you genuinely don’t know who, apart from Jar, you can trust.

With thanks to Clare Gordon at Head of Zeus for my copy of Find Me.

Take a look at the rest of the tour:

 

About the Author

Jon Stock, now writing as J.S. Monroe, read English at Cambridge University, worked as a freelance journalist in London and was a regular contributor to BBC Radio 4. He was also a foreign correspondent in Delhi for the Daily Telegraph and was on its staff in London as Weekend editor. He left Telegraph in 2010 to finish writing his acclaimed Daniel Marchant spy trilogy and returned in 2013 to oversee the paper’s digital books channel. He became a full time author in 2015, writing as J.S. Monroe.
His first novel, ‘The Riot Act’ was shortlisted by the Crime Writers’ Association for its best first novel award. The film rights for ‘Dead Spy Running’, his third novel, were bought by Warner Bros, who hired Oscar-winner Stephen Gaghan (Traffic, Syriana) to write the screenplay. It is currently in development. He is the author of five novels and lives in Wiltshire, England, with his wife, a photographer, and their three children.

Nothing Stays Buried by P. J. Tracy

Minneapolis has another serial killer for Gino and Magozzi to apprehend and this one shows no sign of ending his reign of terror. Leaving a playing card at the scene of every brutal murder, the detectives wonder whether his aim is to complete the deck. Meanwhile the Monkeewrench team have travelled to the countryside to help a father search for his daughter who has vanished without trace from the side of the road. When the two cases become entwined,  it is a race against time to stop the killer before even more lives are ruined.

Nothing Stays Buried is the eighth book in the Monkeewrench series and is a very welcome addition. For the uninitiated, this series of books is based around a team of computer experts who have, in the course of their work, developed a program that has become vital to the police in aiding their investigations. This program, and the expertise of the team, is the reason they are on the trail of Marla, the missing woman. As in other books, detectives Magozzi and Gino are working closely alongside the Monkeewrench team and it is inevitable that their cases will eventually collide.

One of the things I like most about this series is that each book is so different and this one  is certainly no exception. What looks like being a straightforward serial killer story was actually a multifaceted tale of murder, cartels and undercover investigations and I enjoyed how each of the plots linked together to provide a satisfying and suitable ending.

As in all of the books, the characterisation is brilliant and I loved the interaction between the Monkeewrench team. I also really liked the addition of Walt, the father of the missing woman and willed him to have some good news by the end of the book. Throughout the series, it has been particularly satisfying to see the development of Grace’s character and I can’t wait to see what any future installments bring.

I was saddened to read that this book was one of the last ones to be written by the mother and daughter team of P. J. Tracy due to the untimely death of P. J. Lambrecht and I hope that Traci can continue the series.

With thanks to Penguin UK – Michael Joseph and Net Galley for the ARC.

Nemesis by Jo Nesbo

When a bank raid leaves a cashier dead, Harry Hole is tasked with finding the killer after video expert Beate Lønn realises that the victim seemed to know him. Meanwhile, Harry has been invited to dinner at the home of a former girlfriend, Anna Bethsen, only to wake up the next morning with no recollection of what happened the previous evening. The major problem here is that Anna has been found dead in an apparent suicide although, with the gun in her right hand (Anna was left-handed), Harry feels that this is a staged murder. Soon, Harry finds that there is someone who knows exactly what happened that night and is attempting to pin the murder on him…

Nemesis is the fourth of the Harry Hole series and continues on from the previous novel, The Redbreast. There is one major plot line which will be spoiled if you read this book before The Redbreast, so my advice would be to read that one first. We find that the character of Harry hasn’t changed –  he is still drinking heavily although events in the previous book have certainly given him just cause. His drink problem is exploited in a big way in Nemesis when he can’t remember what happened with Anna. Although the bank raid was probably the biggest part of the book, the apparent suicide was probably my favourite plot line and the ending was ingenious.

My only concern with these books is that I sometimes struggle to remember who each character is as the plots are so multifaceted and, especially with the bank raid, I had to constantly remind myself who was who. I am hoping that, as the series progresses, I will become more accustomed to everyone and the role they play. There is one character, in particular, that once again showed his true colours and I eagerly await him getting his comeuppance!

 

Monthly Round Up: August 2017

August is always the month where I manage to read more books due to having time off work and this month I’ve managed to read a range of genres. I’m also pleased that I managed to finish another one from my Jo Nesbo tbr pile!

Books I’ve Read

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The true story behind the Rochdale sex ring, as dramatised by the BBC in ‘Three Girls’ is shocking and heartbreaking read which leaves you with so many emotions.

 

517jii+ZhdLThe Silk Weaver’s Wife by Debbie Rix

Set both in the present day and the eighteenth century, The Silk Weaver’s Wife tells the story of two women unhappy with their lot and the ways in which their lives are changed. Vivid images of Italy in the 1700s are created bu the author’s wonderful description.

4631636995_252x379Death of a Cuckoo by Wendy Percival

A short story featuring the genealogist Esme Quentin, full of mystery and intrigue as a recently-bereaved woman tries to uncover the real story behind her background.

 

51h+jCAxF8LDead Silent by Mark Roberts

The second in the DCI Eve Clay books sees the detective trying to find a particularly gruesome murderer who is staging scenes from disturbing paintings. A fast-paced, exciting read.

 

71sRUnuQnbLGood Friday by Lynda La Plante

The third of the Prime Suspect prequels sees Jane Tennison, now a fully-fledged detective, fearing for her life as she witnesses an IRA bomb at Covent Garden underground station.

 

Nemesis by Jo Nesbo

Nemesis, the fourth of Jo Nesbo’s Harry Hole series sees Harry investigating a fatal bank raid whilst also trying to prove himself innocent of a crime he didn’t commit.

 

Did You See Melody? by Sophie Hannah

When Cara travels from England to the US for some time away from her problems, she doesn’t ever imagine that she is going to become embroiled in one of the biggest murder cases that America has ever seen. An enjoyable read.

 

Find Me by J S Monroe

Jar has never really come to terms with the suicide of his girlfriend five years ago so when he is convinced that he’s seen her in a train station, it sets off a chain of events that threatens to rock his world completely. My review will be published on September 12th as part of the blog tour.

 

Books I’ve Acquired

Nothing Stays Buried is the eighth book in P.J. Tracy’s addictive and internationally bestselling Monkeewrench series

There’s a search for a missing girl, and another for a serial killer: death holds all the cards . . .

When Marla Gustafson vanishes on her way to her father’s farm, her car left empty on the side of an isolated country road, even Grace MacBride and her eccentric team of analysts are baffled.

Meanwhile in Minneapolis, homicide detectives Gino and Magozzi have a serial killer on their hands – two women murdered in cruelly similar fashion, with playing cards left on the bodies. But one card is an ace, the other is a four – it seems the killer is already two murders ahead.

With both teams stumped, it slowly becomes clear the evidence is inexplicably entangled. And they have little time to unravel the threads: a twisted killer is intent on playing out the deck…

 

She fell in love with a killer, now she’s one too.

The suitcase was badly rusted, and took Erika several attempts, but it yielded and sagged open as she unzipped it. Nothing could prepare her for what she would find inside…

When a battered suitcase containing the dismembered body of a young man washes up on the shore of the river Thames, Detective Erika Foster is shocked. She’s worked on some terrifying cases but never seen anything like this before.

As Erika and her team set to work, she makes the link with another victim – the body of a young woman dumped in an identical suitcase two weeks ago.

Erika quickly realises she’s on the trail of a serial killer who’s already made their next move. Yet just as Erika starts to make headway with the investigation, she is the victim of a brutal attack.

But nothing will stop Erika. As the body count rises, the twin daughters of her colleague Commander Marsh are abducted, and the stakes are higher than ever before. Can Erika save the lives of two innocent children before it’s too late? She’s running out of time and about to make a disturbing discovery…there’s more than one killer.

 

In her most dangerous case yet, Jayne Sinclair investigates the family background of a potential candidate to be President of the United States of America.

When the politician who commissioned the genealogical research is shot dead in front of her, Jayne is forced to flee for her life. Why was he killed? And who is trying to stop the American Candidate’s family past from being revealed?

Jayne Sinclair is caught in a deadly race against time to discover the truth, armed only with her own wits and ability to research secrets hidden in the past.

 

I can’t wait to read the Robert Bryndza book and see what it has in store for Erika! It’s also now only a matter of weeks before Dan Brown’s new book, ‘Origin’ hits the shelves – I’m so pleased that he’s, once again, decided to set this one in Europe.

Happy reading!

 

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