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Pretty Jane and the Viper of Kidbrooke Lane by Paul Thomas Murphy

In April 1871, whilst on his beat near Greenwich, a police constable found a young woman dying in the mud, her head displaying horrific injuries. The woman, Jane Clouson, would manage to live for a short time but was never able to reveal the identity of her attacker. A ‘maid of all work’ who was pregnant at the time of her death, it was not long before someone was arrested and charged with her murder. With the police struggling to build a case, however, did they get the right man?

I enjoy reading about real-life Victorian crime and this book has been on my TBR pile for a while. Like the author, this was not a case I had previously heard of and so I was intrigued to see how the investigation would unfold and what the outcome would be. What I found was an incredibly flawed investigation and a suitably flawed outcome.

From the moment witnesses began to come forward, the police had only one suspect in mind – Edmund Pook. Clouson had been the maid at the Pook family home and it had been alleged that Edmund, the son of her employer, was the father of her unborn child. Although this was fiercely denied, the police were not convinced and hastily arrested Pook. This became their first problem. Although there were no serious contenders for an alternative suspect, the speed at which Pook was arrested meant that the police did not have time to build up a convincing case.

Public opinion played a huge part in the case, with newspapers keen to report everything that was happening. As a result, crowds gathered at the court and at the Pooks’ home, all keen to voice their opinions. Witnesses were unreliable, leading to a frustrating trial for the police.

To avoid spoilers, I will refrain from divulging the outcome of the trial, but what I will say is that I agree with the author’s opinion as to what really happened. Paul Thomas Murphy has written a fascinating book about a little-known case in British history, one that kept me engrossed until the end. If, like me, you enjoy reading about long-forgotten murder cases, then this book could be for you!

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**BLOG TOUR** The Body on the Shore by Nick Louth

51Zjp0hbpsLWhen architect Peter Young is shot dead at his desk in what looks like a professional hit, DCI Craig Gillard must try to discover not only how it happened but, more importantly, why. Several hundred miles away, on the Lincolnshire coast, another body is found, this time with no clue to his identity. How are the two deaths connected and how do they link to a feud that threatens to become even more deadly than Gillard could ever imagine?

The Body on the Shore is the second book in the DCI Craig Gillard series, but it is not essential to have read the first as this can be read as a standalone. I do now, however, want to go back and read the first one, The Body in the Marsh, as this was a book I really enjoyed.

The Body on the Shore is a book full of twists and turns which takes you in directions you did not imagine. Initially, it felt like that it was going to be a straightforward police procedural – body is found, police investigate, culprit is arrested. I could not have been more wrong! While there is definitely an element of this, there is so much more!

It is difficult to say too much without giving away any of the plot and, therefore, spoiling the element of surprise, but what I will say is that The Body on the Shore deals with multiple cases, each one linking together in a highly imaginative way. Murder, abduction and subterfuge abound, making for an original story that kept me hooked until the very end.

DCI Craig Gillard is a great lead character and I was pleased that, although we read a bit about his personal life, this was only a minor part of the story, the focus being placed firmly on the investigation. Hardworking and tenacious, he is definitely the sort of detective I would want working on any case I was involved in!

The Body on the Shore is a brilliant, fast-paced read. Highly recommended!

With thanks to Net Galley and Canelo for my ARC and to Ellie Pilcher for organising the blog tour. Take a look at the rest of the tour:

 

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Nick Louth

Author Bio: Nick Louth is a best-selling thriller writer, award-winning financial journalist and an investment commentator. A 1979 graduate of the London School of Economics, he went on to become a Reuters foreign correspondent in 1987. It was an experience at a medical conference in Amsterdam in 1992, while working for Reuters, that gave him the inspiration for Bite, which was self-published in 2007 and went on to become the UK No. 1 Kindle best-seller for several weeks in 2014 before being snapped up by Sphere. It has sold a third of a million copies, and been translated into six languages.

Freelance since 1998, he has been a regular contributor to the Financial Times, Investors Chronicle and Money Observer, and has published seven other books. Nick Louth is married and lives in Lincolnshire.

The Body on the Shore blog tour

**BLOG TOUR** The Home by Karen Osman

83A01E96-B546-4FB6-939A-C823CB9285E2I am pleased to be the latest blog on the tour for Karen Osman’s new book, The Home. Her book, The Good Mother, was one of my favourites of 2017 so I’m really happy to be able to share an extract of her latest book with you.

The Blurb

It was the one place she should have been safe.

Angela was just a baby when she was abandoned, and a children’s home is no place to grow up. When manager Ray takes girls off to his ‘den’ in the garden, they always come back crying…

So, when wealthy couple James and Rosemary come to choose a child to adopt, Angela is desperate to escape.

Years later, Angela starts to search for her birth mother, Evelyn, hoping to heal the scars of her childhood. But strange and sinister events start to unfold. And Evelyn fears she may not survive her daughter’s return.

The Extract

2

Angela

Angela squeezed herself onto the Tube, trying not to breathe in the smell of sweat from the bodies pressed up against her. This wasn’t where she wanted to be on the Friday night of the Summer Bank Holiday weekend, but her parents had invited her specifically. In fact, she had been slightly intrigued as to what may have prompted the invitation for her to spend the long weekend with them. Angela tried not to think too much about the Astoria nightclub. It would have been a brilliant night out and her friends had been talking about it for weeks. Angela wasn’t too bothered about the drugs, but she did like the music. When you worked in a stressful industry like law, you needed a release. Besides, she thought, she worked hard and she deserved a night out once every so often. Yet here she was, jammed on the Tube on the way to her parents’ home in Tetbury. It was a good two-hour journey from her office in central London and she was getting the 4.15 p.m. from Paddington, which had meant leaving work early. She couldn’t remember the last time she’d been outside her law firm during working hours other than to grab a sandwich to eat at her desk. Normally, she’d be ensconced in her cubicle working at least a sixty-hour week, often going in on weekends as well.

Escaping the stifling odour of the underground at Paddington, Angela got on the mainline train, happy to have found a seat, and took a few moments to straighten her new Jaeger suit. The eye-catching shade of green was perhaps a little too much for the corporate environment of Kings Solicitors, but it went fabulously with her dark hair and she knew she pulled it off by the number of admiring glances she received. The tailored trousers and fitted jacket with shoulder pads were so flattering. Besides, she didn’t want to blend in with all the other associates in the office, and this was just one way to be remembered by clients and the senior partners. Satisfied with her appearance, Angela pulled out some papers from her bag and began to work.

*

Angela had her own key to her parents’ house, a pretty bungalow, built of traditional Cotswold stone, and as she let herself into her childhood home she inhaled the familiar aroma: a mixture of clean washing, fresh flowers, and the trailing scent of her mother’s Estée Lauder perfume.

It was a few moments before she became aware of the stillness. She was used to the television being on or her mum talking animatedly on the phone about one of her various committees. Leaving her key and overnight bag in the hallway, Angela walked curiously through to the living room. Her mum and dad were sitting next to each other on the sofa, holding hands, and talking quietly.

‘Hello, darling! We didn’t hear you come in!’ Her mum got up to embrace her and Angela gave her a perfunctory kiss on the cheek. Normally, she would drop down on the sofa, complaining about the journey, but there was something about her mum that evening that made her think twice. While Rosemary appeared as polished as ever, with her sleek silver bob and ever-present string of pearls, her face looked worried and drawn beneath her welcoming smile. Instead, Angela turned to her dad, who gave her a hug and, as she’d known he would, asked her about her journey. He didn’t trust public transport and drove his beloved Jaguar wherever he needed to go, much to her mum’s frustration.

‘How are you?’ Rosemary asked, already walking to the kitchen to put the kettle on, Angela following behind her. ‘How’s work going?’

‘It’s fine, Mum, thanks. Busy, as always.’

‘Have they given you your promotion to senior associate yet?’

‘Not yet, but I’m sure they will soon.’

While Rosemary understood very little about what Angela did all day, she was so proud that her daughter had grown up to be what she called, a career woman. When Angela had graduated from university and got her place at one of London’s top law firms, her mum had never tired of telling her how different it was from when she was growing up. Back then, the most common goal in life for women was to get married and have children, although Rosemary was one of the few women of her time who had been to university. Angela was part of the late baby boomer generation and, according to her mum, had opportunities that she herself had never had. Although Angela had only experienced middle-class life and all its privileges from her teenage years, she truly believed that success depended more on the drive of the individual rather than the current expectations of the day. How else could she explain her own success? She was confident, ambitious, and slightly entitled, as so many of her contemporaries were, and her work-hard, play-hard lifestyle had sustained her through her twenties. Now, at twenty-seven, she was in her element. She had a fantastic job, earned a good salary, was about to get promoted, and partied with her friends every other weekend.

Angela pushed away the twinge of anxiety she’d felt when she saw her parents whispering. She must have been imagining things. They just wanted to spend time with her over a Bank Holiday weekend – there was nothing more to it than that.

 

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With thanks to Vicky Joss from Head of Zeus for organising the blog tour.

The Vanishing Box by Elly Griffiths

Christmas is approaching and magician Max Mephisto has secured a headline spot at the Brighton Hippodrome in a double act with his daughter, Ruby. The show has received notoriety status due to one of the acts on the bill – a living tableau, depicting scenes from history, consisting of semi-naked young women. When a body is found, posed like one of the scenes being performed, suspicion falls on the theatre world as DI Edgar Stephens starts his investigation. After a second body turns up, those involved in the act begin to fear for their lives. Can the culprit be apprehended before more bodies are discovered?

The Vanishing Box is the fourth in the Stephens and Mephisto series and this time we see them in 1953. Although he keeps being told that variety is dead, Max is still drawing in the crowds with his magic act, only this time he has to share his billing with his daughter, Ruby. Torn between his love for his daughter and his desire to work alone, Max is not having a particularly happy time so when he gets close to one of the girls in the tableau, things start to look up for him. Max soon finds his plans destroyed, however, and we see him reaching a huge turning point in his life, the consequences of which I hope we get to read about in the next book.

Edgar is also at a crossroads in his life. Engaged to Ruby, but with clear feelings for Emma, one of his fellow officers, will Ruby’s desire to make it on the stage drive a wedge between the couple? With the murder case taking up more and more of his time, the couple are spending less time together than ever, and Edgar and Emma appear to be getting closer.

I love the setting of these books – the theatre world – as it provides each story with a string of fascinating characters who really fit well into the plot. This book, in particular, had some great characters who really brought the era alive. It is easy to imagine the Brighton of the 1950s, a time when variety shows were still popular yet the popularity of the television was beginning to grow.

The Vanishing Box is a great mystery with some gruesome murders and plenty of suspects to keep you guessing until the very end. This could work as the end of the series, but I really hope it isn’t as I am finding the Stephens and Mephisto books brilliant reads and this one is probably the best so far. More please!

**BLOG TOUR** Keep Her Silent by Theresa Talbot

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I’m pleased to be able to take part in the blog tour for the latest book by Theresa Talbot, Keep Her Silent. Although this is the second in a series, it is not essential to have read the first as this is the first of this author’s books that I have read, and I did not struggle to understand events that had previously happened.

A number of years ago, three women were killed in Glasgow by someone known only as the Raphael Killer. Never caught, the case is now being reopened by an officer who wants it closed before his imminent retirement. Investigative journalist, Oonagh O’Neil, certainly remembers the case so when she is given a tip-off, she embarks on an investigation of a cover-up of unimaginable proportions. With other lives threatened, can she work out what is going on before she, herself, becomes a target?

Initially, I thought that this would be a straightforward serial killer book where the main protagonist finds themselves a target of some unknown figure. While there is definitely an element of this, Keep Her Silent is so much more. With several plots all converging, part of it based on a real-life scandal, I found myself, on more that one occasion, disgusted with how people who yield power abuse their position. My heart went out to one incarcerated character when I read about what she had to endure at the hands of those who are supposed to be upholding the law.

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Theresa Talbot

Oonagh O’Neil is a great character – not perfect, but with a desire to make sure that the truth is heard. I was fascinated by her relationship with Alec, which definitely seemed a bit one-sided, and will be interested to see how this progresses. Oonagh is definitely one of those characters who has you rooting for them from the start.

I found that, as the book progressed, I was desperate to know the outcome and could not put it down. The ending, I felt, was clever, and left me with a wry smile on my face.

With thanks to Aria / Head of Zeus and Net Galley for my ARC.

About the Author

Theresa Talbot is a BBC broadcaster and freelance producer. A former radio news editor, she also hosted The Beechgrove Potting Shed on BBC Radio Scotland, but for many she will be most familiar as the voice of the station’s Traffic & Travel.

Late 2014 saw the publication of her first book, This Is What I Look Like , a humorous  memoir covering everything from working with Andy Williams to rescuing chickens and discovering nuns hidden in gardens. She’s much in demand at book festivals, both as an author and as a chairperson.

Follow

Twitter: @theresa_talbot

Facebook: @TheresaTalbotBooks

Take a look at the rest of the blog tour:

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**BLOG TOUR** Full Metal Cardigan by David Emery

Full-Metal-Cardigan-Front-CoverFull Metal Cardigan is the first book from David Emery, detailing life as a social worker. While this is certainly a serious profession, it has also had its lighthearted and downright bizarre moments, many of which are recalled in this comical yet no-holds-barred look at life in social services.

They (whoever they may be) say that you should laugh in the face of adversity and it’s fair to say that David has found humour in some very dark places! Although he has faced some very dark events in the course of his job such as attempted suicides and physical attacks, he has clearly kept his sense of humour throughout, the numerous tales that had me laughing out loud being testament to this! From stories about being an unwitting driver to a drug dealer to nearly aiding a client on a one-way trip to Dignitas, Full Metal Cardigan provided laughs from beginning to end.

It must be remembered, though, that despite the funny stories, working in social services is not easy and is a profession that comes with a huge amount of responsibility. I have much respect for David and his colleagues, especially when reading about the lengthy working hours and amount of personal danger they are placed in. Not a job I would enjoy!

I really enjoyed Full Metal Cardigan and if you are looking for a quick, light-hearted read then this could just be the book for you!

With thanks to Fledgling Press for my ARC and to Kelly at Love Books Group for organising the blog tour. take a look at the rest of the blogs on the tour:

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Monthly Round Up – August 2018

August is always the month where I manage to read more books than any other and this has been no exception! I’ve also taken part in several blog tours of books which are getting some great reviews:

The Cold Cold Sea by Linda Huber – a fantastic guest post about how important it is to choose the right location in your book.

Implant by Ray Clark – an extract that really sets the tone of the book.

Bone Deep by Sandra Ireland – an extract that helps you to get into the mind of the character.

Through His Eyes by Emma Dibdin – an extract to set the scene.

Night Driver by Marcelle Perks – a creepy extract.

The Psychology of Time Travel by Kate Mascarhenas – a review.

Books I Have Read

The Psychology of Time Travel by Kate Mascarhenas

A brilliant murder-mystery set in the world of time travel. This is a very clever book which, as well as being highly entertaining, also makes you think about the ethics of time travel. Highly recommended.

 

 

Murder Mile by Lynda La Plante

I’m a huge fan of Lynda La Plante, especially anything Tennison/Prime Suspect related and the latest in this series is a great addition. When the body of a woman is found, it seems as though a serial killer may be in operation.

 

 

Keep Her Silent by Theresa Talbot

When a cold case involving the serial killer known as ‘Raphael’ is reopened, investigative journalist Oonagh O’Neil unearths a cover up of huge proportions. Review will follow as part of the blog tour.

 

 

Lying and Dying by Graham Brack

Lieutenant Josef Slonský investigates the murder of a young woman found on the streets of Prague. Lots of dark humour and a genuine twist I did not see coming.

 

 

Full Metal Cardigan by David Emery

A humorous take on the author’s career as a social worker. I really enjoyed this and some of the anecdotes will stay with me for a long time! Review to follow as part of the blog tour.

 

 

41100476Before Her Eyes by Jack Jordan

I loved the premise of this book where a blind woman witnesses a murder. Tense in parts with a claustrophobic feel, this was a great read.

 

51eqNpzedZLThe Vanishing Box by Elly Griffiths

The latest case for Edgar Stephens sees the detective investigating the murder of a young woman who has been posed to look like a well-know piece of art. The fourth in the Stephens and Mephisto series, and probably my favourite so far.

 

514dwwIhhvL._SY346_The Guilty Dead by P J Tracy

A murder staged to look like suicide and a bomber intent on causing destruction on a huge scale. The ninth book in the Monkeewrench series is an exciting read!

 

51Zjp0hbpsLThe Body on the Shore by Nick Louth

The murder of an architect at his desk and the discovery of an unidentified male body hundreds of miles away see DCI Craig Gillard investigating a case that will put his life and the lives of those closest to him in extreme danger. A fast-paced, exciting read which I am reviewing as part of the blog tour.

 

Books I Have Acquired

51d16+NlOxL._SY346_When the seventh Earl of Lowesdale is found hanging from the rafters at Wasdale Hall, everyone assumes the aging, hard-partying aristocrat had finally had enough of chasing the glory of his youth. But when the coroner finds signs of foul play, DI Kelly Porter is swept into a luxurious world where secrets and lies dominate.

At the same time, two young hikers go missing and it’s up to Kelly to lead the search. But digging deeper reveals ties to two other unsolved disappearances and Kelly and her team find themselves in a race against time.

Now, as all roads of both investigations and Kelly’s own family secrets lead to Wasdale Hall it becomes more important than ever for Kelly to discover the devious truths hidden behind the walls of the Lake District’s most exclusive estate…

 

51BH3yWrGhL._SY346_The boy’s body was so white it was almost transparent. But that’s not what caused the nausea to rise up her throat. He was so young. His body was unmarked, surrounded by a halo of plucked wildflowers.

One hot summer evening, eleven-year-old Mikey Driscoll is on the way home from playing with friends. Two days later, his body is discovered on a bed of wildflowers by some local teenagers.

The case is assigned to Detective Lottie Parker and this time it’s personal. The victim was a close friend of her son, Sean, from the run-down Munbally estate on the other side of town. Sean tells his mother Mikey was behaving normally before he died, but Lottie can’t help but feel that her son is keeping something from her…

Then days later, another boy is found dead, surrounded by wild flowers next to beautiful Ladystown Lake.

On the hunt for a twisted individual with a terrifying calling card, Lottie must uncover the web of secrets within Mikey’s circle of friends. Someone is hiding something but who are they protecting and can Lottie find out before it’s too late? Lottie is desperate to catch the killer before he strikes again because this time her own child could be in terrible danger…

 

September looks like being a great reading month and I’m hoping to get through some of my TBR pile too. I can hope…

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

**BLOG TOUR** The Psychology of Time Travel by Kate Mascarenhas

In 1967, four pioneering female scientists have invented a time machine. As they are about to share their invention with the nation, one of the scientists suffers a very public breakdown, putting the project into peril. In 2017, Ruby, the granddaughter of one of the pioneers receives a message from the future about the death of an old lady. Although she knows that her grandmother, Bee, was involved with what has since become huge business, they never discuss it. In 2018, Odette discovers the body in a gruesome and perplexing crime scene. Just who is the woman and why does there seem to be a cover up, preventing the crime being solved?

The idea of time travel is something that has always fascinated me, so a book in the crime genre about this subject was always going to appeal. After reading the blurb I was immediately reminded of a long-forgotten BBC series, Crime Traveller, which I loved so, coupled with the absolutely stunning cover, I could not wait to start reading!

It soon became apparent that this was not going to be a straightforward linear book – after all it is about time travel! We initially find about about the four scientists and their invention, setting the scene for everything that follows. While their timeline does progress in chronological order, the chapters are interspersed with events from 2017 (featuring Ruby) and 2018 (featuring Odette). With a timeline like this, it could have become very confusing but this was not the case. The constant moving through time was very easy to follow and it created a sense of anticipation as the past moved slowly towards the future.

The idea of a present self bumping into a version of you from a different time has almost always been frowned upon in time travel fiction. What was different here, though, was that it was permitted to interact with oneself, creating almost humorous yet bittersweet scenes such as with the woman who is preparing for her wedding alongside numerous versions of herself from different stages in her life.

There are a lot more thought provoking issues in The Psychology of Time Travel, the one affecting me the most probably being the thought of being able to spend time with long-dead loved ones by travelling back to a time when they were still alive. There is also the ethical dilemma of whether a person should be able to know when they will, themselves, die.

Although the book is full of scenes that make you think about the benefits and pitfalls of time travel, there is still a genuinely good mystery worthy of any crime novel. I loved the character of Odette who wrestled with her conscience to solve the murder of the woman found in the museum and I thought the solution fitted in perfectly with the rest of the plot.

The Psychology of Time Travel is a great read, one that I can easily see book groups discussing for hours on end. Highly recommended.

With thanks to Blake Brooks/Florence Hare at Head of Zeus for organizing the blog tour and for my ARC.

Take a look at the rest of the tour:

The Guilty Dead by P J Tracy

When Gregory Norwood is found shot dead one year after his son’s overdose, it seems like a clear cut case of suicide. The only problem is, left-handed Norwood appears to have used his right hand to shoot himself and then has, somehow, managed to wipe the gun clean post mortem. After blood is found outside the house, Detectives Gino and Magozzi fear that there is a second victim waiting to be found.

Meanwhile, the Monkeewrench crew are working on a new program that will aid the police in tracking and locating potential terror plots. Little do they know that their work will soon cross paths with the murder case and that Minneapolis will become the centre of a bomb plot that could conceivably bring devastation to all those around.

They say ‘Don’t judge a book by its cover’, but if I hadn’t have been intrigued by the cover of the first book in the Monkeewrench series, Want to Play?, whilst shopping at the long-lamented Borders almost fifteen years ago, I’d never have discovered this fantastic series! Now, nine books in, The Guilty Dead is the latest in the Minneapolis-set books and is, once again, another brilliant read.

While a murder made to look like a suicide is not a novel plot, there is so much more to this story. As the investigation progresses, we find out who the guilty party is, but it is more a case of ‘whydunnit’ rather than ‘whodunnit’, as the two main plots begin to converge. Although the role of IT experts, Monkeewrench, is pivotal in solving the crimes, I felt that there was less page time devoted to them than in previous books and more given to the police investigation. Of course, they, once again, prove their worth but not before a catastrophic event threatens to tear them apart.

Throughout the series, we have been privy to the traumas of Grace, one of the Monkeewrench crew, and how and why she has found it hard to trust people. Now eight months pregnant, and about to embark on a new phase of her life, I am intrigued as to what further books in the series will see happening to her. She takes more of a back seat in this book, which is understandable, but in true Monkeewrench-style, trouble is never too far away…

This is a series that I continue to love and I am already looking forward to book ten!

With thanks to Penguin UK – Michael Joseph and Net Galley for my copy.

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