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The Zig Zag Girl by Elly Griffiths

When the body of a young woman is found, cut into three pieces, Detective Inspector Edgar Stephens is instantly reminded of a magic trick known as the Zig Zag Girl. He seeks out the inventor of the trick, Max Mephisto, a magician who is still performing his act up and down the country, and someone who Stephens knew from the war when they were members of a ‘secret’ unit known as The Magic Men. Initially, Max is reluctant to help with the investigation until it becomes apparent that he knew the victim. When another victim is found, it becomes apparent that The Magic Men are being targeted. Will any of them be able to escape with their lives?

I am a huge fan of the Ruth Galloway series by Elly Griffiths and so I felt that it was high time that I gave her other series a read. The Zig Zag Girl is the first of the Stephens and Mephisto series, set in 1950 in Brighton, a time when the memories of World War Two were still fresh in the minds of all those involved. It is no surprise, then, that wartime events play a prominent role in the plot.

The story is a macabre one, with victims being dispatched in a variety of ways – all linked to magic tricks that have been performed onstage. The magic provides a link to the role of Stephens and Mephisto during the war when they were tasked to develop ways of creating illusions as a way of tricking the enemy. We also meet several others who formed part of this unit and it was fun trying to figure out who, if any of them, was the killer and which of them would be killed.

One of the main strengths in The Zig Zag Girl is the characterization of the main protagonists. They are a proper mismatched pair with the staid Stephens being a massive contrast to the more flamboyant Mephisto. Despite this, they work really well as a double act and complement each other perfectly. I also loved reading scenes involving Stephens and his mother and found their relationship real yet humorous.

This is definitely a series I will be continuing with and I already have the next book lined up!

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**BLOG TOUR** Liar Liar by Sarah Flint

51xLXqtfgrLA man is found murdered, hideously disfigured, alongside his dying dog. A woman is discovered dead, tied up and gagged in her own bed. Both have a rose placed next to them but that is not the only similarity – both victims are police officers. DC Charlie Stafford and the rest of their team know that someone is out to kill more their own and they must be stopped before one of them becomes the next victim.

It is always nice to be asked to take part in a blog tour but even more so when the book is part of a series that you have grown to love. Liar Liar is the third book to feature Charlie Stafford and is part of a series that is going from strength to strength. I have mentioned in previous reviews (Mummy’s Favourite and The Trophy Taker) how much I enjoy the working relationship between the police officers in this series and this is still the same in Liar Liar. It is also pleasing to read a police procedural series where the focus is placed on the plot rather than the personal lives of the characters.

Sarah Flint

Liar Liar is very current with references to the recent terrorist attacks in London. This helped to place the story very much in the modern day and also helped to introduce how vulnerable police officers are in the world we live in. Despite them being on heightened terrorism alert, however, the team are not prepared for the heinous acts undertaken by the killer and their mentor, ‘Ice.’ It becomes apparent quite early in the book that there is some sort of leak, the perpetrator feeding information about the officers to the murderer. With several possible candidates, though, it is not made too obvious as to who this could be so it was fun trying to guess, along with trying to work out who the killer could be.

As in previous books in the series, Charlie is still trying to do the right thing by her friend, Ben, although, at the moment, she is struggling to help him cope with his issues. Ben is still a character I enjoy reading about and I am still willing him to come good! Although there are definitely hints of a romance on the cards, it is understandable why they are both wary and I’m glad that the author hasn’t rushed into this.

From the very beginning, when we are privy to a horrendous act of domestic violence, Liar Liar draws you in and takes you on a journey through the depraved mind of a killer and the lives of those tasked with bringing them to justice. This is a must-read series.

With thanks to Aria Fiction and Net Galley for the ARC and to Melanie Price for organising the blog tour.

Take a look at the rest of the blogs on the tour:

**BLOG TOUR** The Perfect Victim by Corrie Jackson

41cxnbhoYTLWhen a young woman is found drowned in a river, and her colleague, Charlie Swift, is suspected of murder, journalist Sophie Kent must reassess everything she thought she knew about her friend. Convinced of his innocence, even after he disappears, Sophie soon finds that all was not well in Charlie’s seemingly perfect marriage to his second wife, Emily. As the plot unravels, Sophie does not know who she can trust and soon her own life is in danger…

I liked Sophie, the main protagonist, and felt that her being a journalist rather than a traditional police investigator brought something different to the table. From the outset, we get to see her ‘journalist’s nose’ at work as she arrives on the scene of a drowning and immediately seeks out information to confirm foul play. When it becomes apparent that there is a connection between the dead woman and her friend and colleague, Charlie Swift, we see a different side of Sophie as she wrestles with her conscience – can she really believe that one of the people she trusts most could be involved in this most heinous of crimes?

Corrie Jackson

In parts, The Perfect Victim is very reminiscent of Gillian Flynn’s Gone Girl in that there is a lot of subterfuge and misdirection. Where Corrie Jackson differs, however, is that she had the ability to make me change my mind every few pages as to what was actually happening! Every time I felt I had the plot worked out, she hit me with a new revelation that made me rethink my theory once again! This is a book with an enormous amount of twists and turns but I never once felt as though I didn’t have a handle on the story, which is something that can happen in a plot such as this.

When I started to read The Perfect Victim, I was not aware that this was the second novel in a series where I had not read the first. This can sometimes be problematic if there is a plot running through the books but I am pleased to say that not reading the previous one did not hinder me in the slightest although I now regret not doing so! What a book! I even found myself going on a couple of lengthy bus journeys to give me some extra reading time!

The Perfect Victim is a very clever book and is one that I can easily see being transferred to the big screen. It is complex yet is so skilfully-written that it never once feels confusing. Definitely one of my favourite books of 2017 and one that I would highly recommend!

With thanks to Net Galley and Bonnier Zaffre for my ARC and also to Emily Burns for inviting me to be part of the blog tour.

Take a look at the rest of the blogs featuring on the blog tour:

 

Monthly Round Up: November 2017

It’s nearly the end of the year! November has not seen too many book posts from me but I have a couple of reviews coming up in the next few days as part of blog tours – they’re definitely ones to look out for! I’ve also tried to limit my Net Galley downloads as I know I’ve got a few books winging my way for Christmas!

Books I’ve Read

51G29ghJMvL._SY346_Broken Bones by Angela Marsons

The series that just keeps getting better! The seventh book in the Kim Stone series sees the detective investigating the murder of a prostitute and the discovery of an abandoned baby. A fantastic read that deals with the seedier side of society.

 

51xLXqtfgrLLiar Liar by Sarah Flint

The third in the DC Charlie Stafford series is a bang up-to-date tale of how vulnerable police officers are in modern society. Members of the force are being killed, a red rose being left at the scene of each crime. Another series that just keeps improving! Review will be live soon as part of the blog tour.

 

41cxnbhoYTLThe Perfect Victim by Corrie Jackson

When journalist, Charlie Swift, is accused of murder, his friend and colleague Sophie Kent is determined to prove his innocence. When he disappears, though, she begins to realise that maybe all is not what it seems. An absolutely brilliant book which is sure to feature in my  top 10 list of 2017. Review will be live soon as part of the blog tour.

 

Return of the Magi by P. J. Tracy

Known primarily for the Monkeewrench crime series, the writing team of P. J. Tracy turn their hand to a short Christmas story. A habitual thief is befriended by a couple of elderly women who are convinced he is the third wise man. What ensues is a funny yet heartwarming tale of how they convince him to take them to the City of David to see the baby Jesus!

 

The Text by Claire Douglas

When a woman accidentally sends a text to her work colleagues  wishing her boss dead, she becomes the prime suspect when he is found murdered. A great premise for a short story but, due to its 40 pages, seems rushed.

 

 

Books I’ve Acquired

51w4IWGhv9L._SX320_BO1,204,203,200_Brighton, 1950.

When a girl’s body is found, cut into three, Detective Inspector Edgar Stephens is reminded of a magic trick, the Zig Zag Girl.

The inventor of the trick, Max Mephisto, is an old friend of Edgar’s. They served together in the war as part of a shadowy unit called the Magic Men.

Max is still on the circuit, touring seaside towns in the company of ventriloquists, sword-swallowers and dancing girls. Changing times mean that variety is not what it once was, yet Max is reluctant to leave this world to help Edgar investigate. But when the dead girl turns out to be known to him, Max changes his mind.

Another death, another magic trick: Edgar and Max become convinced that the answer to the murders lies in their army days. When Edgar receives a letter warning of another ‘trick’, the Wolf Trap, he knows that they are all in the killer’s sights…

 

51VFfTURZKL._SX322_BO1,204,203,200_No-one is who you think they are

Sophia’s parents lead quiet, unremarkable lives. At least that is what she’s always believed.

Everyone has secrets

Until the day she arrives at her childhood home to find a house ringing with silence. Her mother is hanging from a tree. Her father is lying in a pool of his own blood, near to death.

Especially those closest to you

The police are convinced it is an attempted murder-suicide. But Sophia is sure that the woman who brought her up isn’t a killer. As her father is too ill to talk it is up to Sophia to clear her mother’s name. And to do this she needs to delve deep into her family’s past – a past full of dark secrets she never suspected were there . . .

What if your parents had been lying to you since the day you were born?

 

A MISSING CHILD. A DEAD WOMAN. WHO IS NEXT?

Six-year-old Lola Jade Harper is taken from her bedroom. Her mother is distraught. She is convinced her estranged husband, Gavin Harper, has abducted their daughter.

Detective Rachel Prince is leading the investigation but is soon out of her depth as she searches for the most high-profile missing child in the country. To uncover the truth about Lola’s disappearance, Rachel must untangle the Harper family’s complicated web of secrets and lies.

As the case progresses, the body of a local woman is found. The death at first seems unrelated, until a trail of social media posts lead Rachel to a chilling discovery.

And then another little girl is taken…

With growing pressure from the public and the appearance of someone from her past she’d rather forget, will Rachel be able to solve the connection between the two missing children and the murder – before it’s too late?

 

It’s strange to think that the next time one of these posts is published it will be 2018!

The Text by Claire Douglas

Refused time off work for a girls’ weekend in Edinburgh, Emily Latimer is furious with her boss, Andrew. Angrily firing off a text to her boyfriend, she is horrified when she realises she has sent it to her whole office by mistake. To complicate matters even further, Andrew is murdered and Emily is the prime suspect when it is revealed that her text wished him dead. Adamant that the text contained a typo, can Emily prove her innocence?

I have read two of Claire Douglas’s previous books (Last Seen Alive and Local Girl Missing) and loved them so was pleased to see that she had written a short story. The idea behind the book is a good one and is something that many people can relate to – who hasn’t sent a text with a typo? Hopefully, though, it never resulted in a dead body being found!

This is a very short story – only 40 pages long – and as a result, it appears rushed, especially when the murderer is revealed. I was expecting a little more than a full confession from the killer. I liked Emily’s character and feel that, if this book was slightly longer, more could have been made of the relationship between her and her boyfriend as this ends up playing a fairly big role in the plot.

If you’re looking for something to sink your teeth into, then this is not the book for you, but if you’re after a quick, free, easy to read mystery, then this could be what you want! It can currently be downloaded from Amazon for free.

Return of the Magi by P J Tracy

Emil Rice is a habitual thief, promising, each time he is caught, that he will never steal again. When he is arrested for the twenty-third time, he is ordered to carry out community service at a secure mental health facility, where he will have to live-in for a whole year. While he is there, he is befriended by two elderly female patients  who have been waiting for the arrival of Emil for a long time having convinced themselves that he is the third wise man and that he will help them to find the Christ Child.

This is not the sort of book I would usually read but, as a fan of P J Tracy’s Monkeewrench series, and as the festive season is approaching, I thought I would venture into the unknown. What I found was an easy to read, humerous, short story that restores your faith in human nature.

Despite Emil being a career criminal, it is impossible not to like him and his carefree attitude. We are aware from the start that he has not had the happiest of childhoods and so, for much of his life, has been devoid of a conventional family. In some ways, he finally finds this at the facility, even if his new family consists of two elderly women who think he is one of the Magi! Underneath all of his bravado, Emil is an extremely caring man, a trait we see in his dealing with Ralph, another of the patients, and also when he embarks on his journey to ‘the City of David’.

Edith and Gloria, the two elderly women provide a comic touch to the book and although they are clearly deluded, their resourcefulness is a lesson in not to underestimate the aged. The way they take Emil under their wing is a joy to read, even if Emil does not always share their enthusiasm!

If you are looking for a short, heartwarming read, then Return of the Magi is the book for you!

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

 

**BLOG TOUR** In the Dark by Andreas Pflüger Q&A

She lost her sight, but she can still see the truth…

Jenny Aaron was once part of an elite police unit tracking Germany’s most dangerous criminals. She was the best. Until it all went wrong. A disastrous mission saw her abandon a wounded colleague and then lose her sight forever.

Now, five years later, she has learnt to navigate a darkened world. But she’s still haunted by her betrayal. Why did she run?

Then she receives a call from the unit. They need her back. A prison psychologist has been brutally murdered. And the killer will only speak to one person…

It is my pleasure to be the next stop on the blog tour for In the Dark, the latest book by Andreas Pflüger. I am incredibly grateful to Andreas for taking the time to answer my questions in such a detailed and fascinating way:

Your lead character, Jenny Aaron, is blind. What challenges did this bring when writing In the Dark?

I had to do a tremendous amount of research because the story is told mainly from the point of view of my heroine. I read for almost a year, talked to blind women who were so friendly to share a lot of time with me, talked to doctors, psychologists, psychiatrists, brain researchers. In the end one of the most distinguished experts for blindness worldwide became my special adviser: Professor Bernhard Sabel from the Otto-von-Guericke-University of Magdeburg (formerly of MIT and Harvard). He reads every sentence of my Aaron novels and is my guarantee that the facts about blindness are right. His work is a great inspiration for me.

Jenny is a government assassin. How did you research this role?

My first thriller Operation Rubikon which is not published in English, takes place  in the world of special branch, intelligence agencies and international terrorism and my main adviser was the former President of the BKA – the Federal Criminal Investigation Office of Germany. I worked for five years on that novel and learned so much about that business that I still benefit from the research.

You have written for the radio and theatre as well as writing novels. Which do you prefer to write and why?

In the last three years I concentrated on my novel writing. Both forms of storytelling are very different and each is fun. But there is one thing that helps to create a novel: A screenwriter is paid for a lot of things. But mainly for one talent: When somebody else wants to see a movie, he or she has to go to a cinema or turn on the TV. A screenwriter is able to watch a complete new film in his head. I am convinced that a good novel always is a kind of mental cinema. So you could say my first life as a screenwriter was a great preparation for my second one as a novelist.

Which authors do you enjoy reading that you would recommend to other readers?

Most of the time I only read non-fiction books about medicine, brain science or martial arts techniques. The novels I like most are the old fashioned ones: Raymond Chandler, Dashiell Hammett or James M. Cain. But I am a fan of Robert Harris and Stephen King too. His novel 11/22/63 is a brilliant piece of writing.

For anyone who has not yet read any of your work, why should they read In the Dark?

Because Jenny Aaron is a heroine you never met before.

 

In the Dark is available to purchase now.

Take a look at the other great blogs forming part of the tour:

Broken Bones by Angela Marsons

When a young prostitute is found murdered, Detective Kim Stone and her team find themselves on the hunt for a serial killer who is preying on the more vulnerable residents of the Black Country. Meanwhile, an abandoned baby and the subsequent search for the mother leads the detectives into the murky world of illegal immigrants, trafficking and modern-day slavery. As secrets from Kim’s past come to light, will she be able to solve the case before the death toll rises?

Broken Bones is the seventh book in the Kim Stone series and, once again, Angela Marsons has managed to write an absolute page turner! From the very first few pages, I was hooked as we are introduced to a young woman, forced into prostitution by her own family. Her story, along with the story of the other women who were murdered, was incredibly tragic and whereas some people are of the opinion that their predicaments are as a result of their lifestyle, Kim believes that no person is above another and is determined to bring the culprit to justice. In true Kim style, she makes many enemies along the way and her conflict with the abhorrent pimp, Kai Lord, is a joy to read. You just know that in a case where there can be only one winner, Kim is going to enjoy the battle.

The other main plot in the book is a very emotive one, featuring the subject of human trafficking. With little evidence to go on, Kim’s tenacity has obviously rubbed off on the rest of their team as they try to find the identity of the mother of the abandoned baby, facing obstacles at every turn. This case becomes much bigger than they could ever imagine and exposes the dark underbelly of the Black Country where people are forced into a life they would never have chosen for themselves. After the traumatic events of the previous book, Dead Souls, it was good to see Stacey getting herself stuck into a case alongside her new protector, Dawson. I loved reading about the relationship between these two characters with Dawson showing a very different, pleasing side of his character!

One of the things I enjoyed most about this book was how easy it was to read despite it being a very impassioned plot. There were several humorous asides and it was amusing to picture the very practical Kim Stone in charge of a young baby when we are more used to seeing her handle motorbike parts! One caveat I will make is that there are references to events that occurred in previous books (Dead Souls and Evil Games) so it would definitely be worth reading these books before starting this one. Why wouldn’t you have already read them though?!

Every time I read the next installment in the Kim Stone series, I always wonder how Angela Marsons will top the previous book, but she has done it yet again. Surely it’s time we saw Kim on the small screen…

With thanks to Bookouture and Net Galley for my ARC.

 

 

Monthly Round Up: October 2017

It’s been a busy and tiring month so I haven’t read as many books as I was expecting to. I did, however, manage to read a couple of books I’d been looking forward to, including the new Dan Brown novel so all was not lost!

Books I’ve Read

Trust Me by Zosia Wand

Lizzie enjoys her life in the Lake District but when she meets a stranger, all is about to change. Soon, things are happening that are out of her control but no one else can see what is happening.

 

Blood’s Game by Angus Donald

The first in a series featuring Holcroft Blood tells the story of the circumstances behind the theft of the crown jewels during the reign of King Charles II. A great introduction to a new character.

 

The Lost Child by Patricia Gibney

The third in the Lottie Parker series sees the detective dealing with her most complex case to date where the death count just keeps on rising! Patricia Gibney’s series is fast becoming one of my favourites.

 

Origin by Dan Brown

Another outing for the symbologist Robert Langdon sees him, this time, in Spain, trying to discover exactly what his former student, Edmond Kirsch, had discovered before being brutally stopped in his tracks.

 

The Forgotten Room by Ann Troup

An atmospheric, slightly macabre tale of buried secrets which are beginning to come to light. Ann Troup has, again, written an entertaining, mysterious book dealing with the dark side of humanity.

 

The Malice of Angels by Wendy Percival

The third full-length novel to feature the genealogist Esme Quentin sees her coming to terms with an incident from her past whilst investigating the case of a nurse that disappeared during the Second World War.

 

Books I’ve Acquired

51nvG9lTR6LWarm your heart this Christmas with this wonderful festive tale from bestselling author P.J. Tracy – perfect for fans of It’s a Wonderful Life or Miracle on 34th Street

Emil Rice’s heart is in the right place – it’s just his hands that always seem to end up in someone else’s wallet. Facing yet another Christmas behind bars, he’s surprised when he’s offered a way out – community service at a mental health facility. Emil thinks it will be a piece of cake – but he hasn’t reckoned on two elderly inmates, who need Emil for a very special plan…

Warm and wise, funny and festive, this wonderful Christmas tale from Sunday Times bestselling author P.J. Tracy is perfect for the cold winter nights!

 

51xLXqtfgrLFrom the bestselling author of MUMMY’S FAVOURITE and THE TROPHY TAKER.

DC ‘Charlie’ Stafford returns with a superb new, brutally gripping serial killer thriller, where the hunter becomes the hunted. Perfect for the fans of Angela Marsons.

A faithful dog lies wounded beside the mutilated body of its owner.
A woman is discovered bound and gagged, dead in her own bed.
Both are police officers.
Both have a red rose at their side… worryingly more will follow…

Lies and accusations abound but who is behind the murders and why are the victims being targeted?

Charlie, Hunter and the team must find the killer targeting their own before another body is found.

 

51G29ghJMvL._SY346_They thought they were safe. They were wrong.

The murder of a young prostitute and a baby found abandoned on the same winter night signals the start of a disturbing investigation for Detective Kim Stone – one which brings her face to face with someone from her own horrific childhood.

As more sex workers are murdered in quick succession, each death more violent than the last, Kim and her team realise that the initial killing was no one-off frenzied attack, but a twisted serial killer preying on the vulnerable.

At the same time, the search begins for the desperate woman who left her newborn baby at the station – but what looks like a tragic abandonment turns even more sinister when a case of modern slavery is uncovered.

The two investigations bring the team into a terrifying world of human exploitation and cruelty – and a showdown that puts Kim’s life at risk as shocking secrets from her own past come to light.

A gripping new crime thriller from the Number One bestseller – you will be hooked until the final jaw-dropping twist.

 

41cxnbhoYTLFor fans of Nicci French and Sophie Hannah, Corrie Jackson’s explosive new thriller will leave you questioning how far you would go for friendship.

Charlie and Emily Swift are the Instagram-perfect couple: gorgeous, successful and in love. But then Charlie is named as the prime suspect in a gruesome murder and Emily’s world falls apart.

Desperate for answers, she turns to Charlie’s troubled best friend, London Herald journalist, Sophie Kent. Sophie knows police have the wrong man – she trusts Charlie with her life.

Then Charlie flees.

Sophie puts her reputation on the line to clear his name. But as she’s drawn deeper into Charlie and Emily’s unravelling marriage, she realises that there is nothing perfect about the Swifts.

As she begins to question Charlie’s innocence, something happens that blows the investigation – and their friendship – apart.

Now Sophie isn’t just fighting for justice, she’s fighting for her life.

 

41J9gKE9XDLShe lost her sight, but she can still see the truth…

Jenny Aaron was once part of an elite police unit tracking Germany’s most dangerous criminals. She was the best. Until it all went wrong. A disastrous mission saw her abandon a wounded colleague and then lose her sight forever.

Now, five years later, she has learnt to navigate a darkened world. But she’s still haunted by her betrayal. Why did she run?

Then she receives a call from the unit. They need her back. A prison psychologist has been brutally murdered. And the killer will only speak to one person…

 

I hope you’ve managed to read some great books this month!

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