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Good Friday by Lynda La Plante

71sRUnuQnbLNow a detective, Jane Tennison is part of the ‘Dip Squad’, a group of police officers tasked with the surveillance and apprehension of gangs of organised pick-pockets on the streets of London. Her time with this department is short-lived, however, when on her way to court, she finds herself caught up in the middle of an IRA bombing at Covent Garden tube station that leaves several people dead. As an eyewitness who could possibly identify the bomber, Jane’s life is put at risk when a photo of her assisting the injured appears in the newspaper. With another attack planned and the annual CID dinner about to take place, can Jane and her colleagues thwart the atrocity before it takes place?

It is no secret that I am a huge fan of Lynda La Plante’s work, in particular the Anna Travis and original Prime Suspect books and so I am still beside myself with excitement that she decided to write prequels to the Tennison story. Good Friday is slightly different to the previous two books in the series, Tennison and Hidden Killers in that we see more of how different departments of CID operate. Also, despite it being set in the 1970s, the subject of indiscriminate terrorist attacks is just as relevant today as it was back then.

In Good Friday, Jane is, once again, suffering from discrimination because of her sex but we see the tide starting to turn as more people are beginning to realise just what she can offer as a detective. Although in previous books we have seen her tenacity, I feel that this is the first time where I truly saw traits of the Jane Tennison that would go on to arrest and convict George Marlow at Southampton Row. Jane’s personal life also comes under intense scrutiny, once again, as she is pursued by an array of suitors – not all of them with her best intentions at heart.

Although there were several attempts to misdirect, I did manage to work out who the ‘sleeper’ was, but this did not spoil my enjoyment of the book in any way. I enjoyed reading about police tactics and surveillance of the time and the ways in which they sought out criminals. I do feel, though, that there is more still to come from the sub-plot concerning the abuse and prostitution of the young women as this did not feel fully resolved.

Such was the brilliance of Helen Mirren in playing Tennison in the ITV series Prime Suspect, it is very difficult not to imagine her delivering the lines as you read Good Friday. This is not a bad thing, though, as this, along with Lynda La Plante’s writing style makes this a quick read that is just like spending time with an old friend. I’m already looking forward to the next one!

With thanks to Readers First and Zaffre for my ARC.

 

Death of a Cuckoo by Wendy Percival

4631636995_252x379When Gina Vincent’s mother dies, she is shocked to find a photograph that challenges everything she thought she knew about her life. Calling upon the services of genealogist Esme Quentin to help her make sense of it all, their search takes them to an abandoned property formerly used as a home for young pregnant women. Secrets run deep in this building and Gina soon finds herself facing danger as she tries to uncover the truth about her past.

It has been some time since we last read about Esme Quentin (Blood-Tied and The Indelible Stain) so this book was long overdue! Death of a Cuckoo is not a full-length novel, but Wendy Percival has still managed to write a superb page turner, linking mystery and genealogy effortlessly. For anyone who hasn’t read the previous books in the series, this could be read as a standalone and would provide a good introduction to the character of Esme.

In Death of a Cuckoo, Esme takes a back seat in the investigation, providing the main character, Gina, with advice and recommendations of where to go next. As in most books of this genre, this turns out to be more than just a straightforward case of family research as secrets from the past start to impact on the present, putting the lives of all those involved in danger. The mystery was an interesting and plausible one and I felt for Gina as she tried to find out who she really was in the most awful of circumstances.

This is a well-written short read and I hope that the wait for the next Esme Quentin story isn’t as long!

 

The Silk Weaver’s Wife by Debbie Rix

517jii+ZhdLIn the year 1704, Anastasia is planning to marry her sweetheart in secret in an attempt to escape her violent father. After her attempt is thwarted, however, she is forced to marry an older silk weaver and begin a new life, against her wishes, in Venice. Not content with swapping one abusive life for another, she plots her escape.  In 2017, another woman, Millie, is also experiencing relationship problems. When her affair with married boss Max is abruptly ended, she is happy to travel to Italy to write an article for work, where she meets, and falls in love, with Lorenzo. She soon becomes fascinated by the silk making process and is determined to identify the mysterious woman in a portrait she has seen.

I admit that I did not know what to expect when I started to read this book as romantic fiction is a genre out of my comfort zone. I do enjoy dual time-frame books, however, and I was intrigued by the mystery concerning the subject of the painting. When I began to read, I started to have reservations as Millie’s story did not really grab me. A soon as Anastasia’s story kicked in, though, I found myself reading at a much quicker pace, desperate to know how she would escape from her husband. As the book progressed, and there began to be cross-overs between the two time-frames, I started to enjoy Millie’s story much more and was keen to know how their respective stories would end.

Of the two main characters, Anastasia was, by far, my favourite: a strong woman who overcame her fears and tragedies to achieve a fulfilling and rewarding life. Millie, on the other hand, I wanted to shake at times for allowing Max to railroad her into decisions that she did not really want to make. I found it interesting that the more independent woman was the one from the eighteenth century, a time when women had fewer rights than their twenty-first century counterparts.

It is obvious that the author has done a tremendous amount of research to merge fact with fiction, providing a fantastic historical account of the silk trade in eighteenth century Italy. Debbie Rix has painted an evocative picture of the book’s locations, whether it be Venice, Amsterdam or Spitalfields and truly transports you back to the eighteenth century.

For any fans of historical fiction or, indeed, any Italophiles, The Silk Weaver’s Wife is a great read.

With thanks to Bookouture and Net Galley for my copy.

Girl A: My Story

51Ry-oprklLAfter watching the harrowing three-part BBC Drama, Three Girls, earlier this year, I felt compelled to read the book detailing the case, written by the girl who became known as ‘Girl A’. This is a true story of how a group of young girls were groomed by a gang of Asian men and systematically abused over a period of years. ‘Girl A’ became the key witness, helping to convict these men of their heinous crimes.

First of all, I must point out that this is not an easy read, but nor should it be. It is very graphic in parts but this is essential in order to understand what this fifteen-year-old girl was subjected to on a daily basis. It is, however, well-written and paints a clear picture of the girl we get to know as ‘Hannah’ (not her real name), and how scared and despair-filled she was as she desperately tried to escape the clutches of this notorious child sex ring.

It soon becomes apparent that the BBC series, as disturbing as it was, actually missed out an awful lot of the story. If that was distressing, then Girl A takes it to another level as we find out about the fear she had for ‘Emma’, another young girl who acted as a go-between, providing the girls for the older men. It is easy to wonder why ‘Hannah’ stayed when she had the opportunity to reveal the truth so many times, but her fear of ‘Emma’ and the Asian men, coupled with the reluctance of the authorities to act meant that she felt she had no choice.

What does come through the book is the intelligence and bravery shown by ‘Hannah’ in order to bring the culprits to justice. She speaks often of the qualifications she managed to achieve despite the traumatic times she was experiencing – I really hope that’s she has been able to put these to good use and is now living a happy life with her daughter.

 

Monthly Round Up: July 2017

Well, July was the month where I completed my Goodreads challenge – I obviously set my target way too low!

Books I’ve Read

51Sv-EJivWLFrost At Midnight by James Henry

Detective Jack Frost returns in another prequel to the R. D. Wingfield series that inspired the TV show starring David Jason. A gripping and entertaining read that sees Frost investigating the murder of a woman found dead in a churchyard.

 

51Au1qVQ0PL._SY346_The Stolen Girls by Patricia Gibney

The follow-up to the brilliant The Missing Ones sees Detective Lottie Parker investigating an incredibly harrowing crime involving human trafficking, prostitution and organ harvesting. This is a must read!

 

514-fU+PfcLLast Seen Alive by Claire Douglas

When Libby and her husband undertake a short term house swap, strange things begin to happen. Is it paranoia or is someone watching her, trying to make her relive the disappearance of her friend nine years ago? This is a very clever book with a genuine twist.

 

51mCV12k+uL__SX323_BO1,204,203,200_Friend Request by Laura Marshall

Receiving a Facebook friend request from a long-lost pal should be a happy occurrence but not if the friend has been dead for over twenty years. Who is behind the cruel mind games and how many lives are in danger?

 

A Very British Murder by Lucy Worsley

Historian and TV presenter explores the British fascination with murder, whether it be true crime such as the Ratcliffe Highway murders or the Golden Age of detective fiction. A must-read for anyone interested in the history of British crime.

 

The Girl From Ballymor by Kathleen McGurl

Another dual time frame book from Kathleen McGurl, telling the story of a woman researching her artist ancestor coupled with an an account of the nineteenth century potato famine. This was one of the books I have been looking forward to reading and it didn’t disappoint. Review to follow nearer to publication day (7th September 2017).

 

Dead Girls Can’t Lie by Carys Jones

When a girl’s best friend is found hanging from a tree, she knows right away that this is a case of murder. With the police refusing to investigate, stating that it is a case of suicide, North Stone has no other option but to try to prove it herself. A fast paced tale of a woman who refuses to give up. Review will be published on August 25th as part of the book’s blog tour.

 

The Room by the Lake by Emma Dibdin

After a traumatic childhood, Caitlyn travels to New York where she meets the handsome and charismatic Jake. Soon, he is taking her to meet his family in a house in the woods, in the middle of nowhere, but all is most definitely not what it seems. A great psychological debut. Review will be published on August 21st as part of the book’s blog tour.

 

Books I’ve Acquired

71KqcAPXiFLHow do you catch a killer when you’re the number one suspect?

A man is caught on CCTV, shooting dead a cashier at a bank. Detective Harry Hole begins his investigation, but after dinner with an old flame wakes up with no memory of the past 12 hours. Then the girl is found dead in mysterious circumstances and he beings to receive threatening emails: is someone trying to frame him for her death?

As Harry fights to clear his name, the bank robberies continue with unparalleled savagery…

 

Meet Hendrik Groen. An octogenarian in a care home who has no intention of doing what he’s told, or dying quietly. To that end, he creates the Old-But-Not-Dead Club and with his fellow members sets about living his final years with careless abandon. Such anarchism infuriates the care home director but pleases Eefje, the woman who makes Hendrik’s frail heart palpitate. If it’s never too late to have fun, then can it ever be too late to meet the love of your life?

 

 

If you can’t trust your sister, then who can you trust?

Kate Rafter has spent her life running from her past. But when her mother dies, she’s forced to return to Herne Bay – a place her sister Sally never left.

But something isn’t right in the old family home. On her first night Kate is woken by terrifying screams. And then she sees a shadowy figure in the garden…

Who is crying for help?
What does it have to do with Kate’s past?
And why does no one – not even her sister – believe her?

I currently only have one book on my Net Galley bookshelf so think it’s time to get looking!

A Very British Murder by Lucy Worsley

18042000For a long time, the British public has had an interest in murder, whether it be fictional or true crime. In A Very British Murder, Lucy Worsley looks at this interest in great detail, exploring cases such as the Ratcliff Highway and Road Hill Murders, before moving onto how crimes were reported and how they inspired detective fiction.

This is a book that has been on my TBR pile for a while and, as it’s been a while since I’ve read anything non-fiction, I decided it was time to give it a try. After watching the accompanying television series, I was looking forward to reading Lucy Worsley’s take on some of the cases I have enjoyed reading about over the years.

If you are looking for a straightforward compendium of British crime, then this is not the book for you. It does mention some of the more well-known crimes (I was particularly pleased to see the murder of Julia Wallace included, albeit fleetingly) but the emphasis is firmly placed on the public fascination for these events. I must admit, though, that these were the sections I enjoyed the most, even though I had read about most of the cases before!

Much of the book is devoted to the growth of the crime fiction genre from the likes of Wilkie Collins and Arthur Conan Doyle to the ‘golden age’ of detection with authors such as Agatha Christie and Dorothy L Sayers. There is even a modern slant where Worsley briefly discusses how these books and cases are being brought to life on television in the guise of Whitechapel, Ripper Street and The Suspicions of Mr Whicher. My only concern here is that the author gives out some major spoilers and there are certainly now some books that I no longer need to read!

Lucy Worsley’s writing style is very easy to follow and makes for an enjoyable read.

***BLOG TOUR*** The Dark Isle by Clare Carson – Q&A

I am pleased to be the latest stop on the blog tour for The Dark Isle by Clare Carson, the third book in the Sam Coyle Trilogy. I am grateful to Clare for taking the time to answer my questions with such interesting responses.

  • The coastal settings for the Sam Coyle Trilogy are extremely atmospheric. What prompted you to write about these particular locations?

I’m drawn to coastal locations because they are on the edge of things, and I love saltmarshes and foreshores – stretches of land that only appear between the tides. The trilogy is about spies who exist on the borders of life and in the shadows. The stories are told from the perspective of Sam, a police spy’s daughter, an insider-outsider. Sometimes she thinks sees things clearly, and knows which side of the line different characters are on, but then the tide flows in and everything looks different.

  • How much has your father’s work as an undercover policeman inspired the subject matter of your writing?

The trilogy was very much inspired by my dad’s work as an undercover policeman – although it wasn’t the details of his job that interested me so much as the impact of that secret work and life on family relationships. Having somebody who is effectively a spy in the family is pretty weird – not least because you can’t talk about it! Eventually, years after his death, I started writing fiction as a way to deal with some of the puzzles – how far can you trust your father if he is paid to lie? Is it ever safe to dig up his past? How can you distinguish fact from fiction when it comes to the double life of spies?

  • The Sam Coyle Trilogy was set in the 1970s/80s. Which other era would you like to write about?

Times of change and uncertainty always interest me, so another decade I’d like to write about is the nineteen thirties when Europe was on the brink of war. My mother in law, who is Jewish, was born in Vienna in the 1930s. In the early part of the decade Vienna was one of the most liberal cities in Europe, but she remembers the Nazis arriving in 1938 while her neighbours lined the streets to welcome them. Six months later her family escaped to Britain. I find that history gripping, chilling and moving.

  • Now that ‘The Dark Isle’ has ended the trilogy, what can we expect next?

I’m done with undercover policemen and spies for now and I’m working on an historical murder mystery. But there will still definitely be plenty of coastline, wilderness and birds.

  • When you are not writing, which other authors do you enjoy reading?

I read anything by Cormac McCarthy –  I love his economy and precision of language and his portrayal of the American landscape. I’m always rereading Graham Greene’s novels, partly because he constructs them so well. Sarah Waters is brilliant – Fingersmith is a gripping historical psychological thriller. I enjoy reading Pierre Lemaître for his sheer darkness.

  • For anyone who has not read any of your work before, why should they pick up one of your books?

If you fancy a different take on spies and undercover cops, then my books are for you. If you like characters that aren’t easy to classify as goodies or baddies, you should pick up one of my stories. They don’t slot neatly into any one genre but to quote a recent review, they have great storytelling, pitch perfect plotting, and a wonderful sense of time and place.

Sam grew up in the shadow of the secret state. Her father was an undercover agent, full of tall stories about tradecraft and traitors. Then he died, killed in the line of duty.

Now Sam has travelled to Hoy, in Orkney, to piece together the puzzle of her father’s past. Haunted by echoes of childhood holidays, Sam is sure the truth lies buried here, somewhere.

What she finds is a tiny island of dramatic skies, swooping birds, rugged sea stacks and just four hundred people. An island remote enough to shelter someone who doesn’t want to be found. An island small enough to keep a secret…

41Y6-5D2tYLThe Dark Isle is available to buy now:

Kindle Edition

Hardcover Edition

 

 

 

 

Take a look at the rest of the blog tour:

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With thanks to Clare Carson for answering my questions, to Clare Gordon for organising the blog tour and to Head of Zeus for my copy of The Dark Isle.

**BLOG TOUR** Hunted by Monty Marsden

Today is my turn on the blog tour for Monty Marsden’s great new book, Hunted!

Seven years ago, Giocomo Riondino was arrested for the abduction, torture and murder of two women. After his arrest, it was discovered that he was suffering from a multiple personality disorder and was subsequently sectioned. Now, after time at a rehabilitation centre, Riondino has escaped and is on the run, a trail of bodies being left in his wake. It is up to Commissioner Sensi and psychiatrist Dr Claps to find the killer before the death count gets out of control.

Hunted is not the first book to feature Sensi and Claps but it is not essential to have read any earlier books in order to understand this plot. Initially, however, I did find some of the plot confusing as I came to terms with Riondino’s numerous personalities, many of whom speak for the man himself throughout the story. As I became accustomed to the style of writing, though, it became much easier to follow and provided me with a unique insight into the mind of someone with a multiple personality disorder and the internal conflict they experience.

Monty Marsden

Despite his illness, Riondino is a cold, calculated killer and each of his crimes is carefully planned and executed. This makes for a tense hunt as the police try to find a man who always seems to be one step ahead, and is prepared to kill anyone who stands in his way. Riondino is probably the most heinous serial killer I have read about for a while, and he did, on several occasions, make my skin crawl as I sensed what was about to happen. Through his numerous personalities, he was able to draw in potential victims and nobody was safe.

Hunted draws to a thrilling climax as the police tighten the net around the killer. In the final quarter of the book, I felt as though, at times, I was holding my breath as I waited to see what the final outcome would be. What I got was a clever ending, in keeping with what we’d already found out about Riondino. Highly recommended!

With thanks to Aria and Net Galley for the ARC.

 

Author bio

Monty Marsden, a Tuscan by birth, grew up in Milan, where he studied medicine and still works. He lives in the province of Bergamo, with his wife and four children.

 

Take a look at the other stops on the blog tour!

Links

Amazon: http://amzn.to/2rRD5fj

Kobo: http://bit.ly/2s2c0or

iBooks: http://apple.co/2st3PUF

Google Play: http://bit.ly/2r9WEgm

 

Monty’s previous book, MISSING is out now:

 Amazon: http://amzn.to/2eTxkpH

Kobo: http://bit.ly/2fFdvlN

iBooks: http://apple.co/2fA9Feh

Google Play: http://bit.ly/2eVGe5b

 

Follow Aria

Website: www.ariafiction.com

Twitter: @aria_fiction

Facebook: @ariafiction

Instagram: @ariafiction

 

 

 

 

 

 

Friend Request by Laura Marshall

51mCV12k+uL__SX323_BO1,204,203,200_Receiving a Facebook friend request from a girl she knew at school should have made Louise Williams happy, but there was one major problem: Maria Weston has been dead for over twenty years. Knowing that she was partly to blame for the girl’s disappearance at a school leavers’ party, Louise is forced to make contact with people from her past as she tries to discover just who is behind the Facebook account. When a school reunion is organised, and another school friend’s body is discovered in the woods by her old school, Louise knows that she cannot trust anyone in her quest to find out exactly what happened to Maria.

I opted to read Friend Request after seeing so many positive reviews from fellow bloggers and I am so pleased that I did. Switching between the years 2016 and 1989, we first meet Louise as the divorced mother of a young boy before learning about her formative years at Sharne Bay High School. It is obvious that Louise has changed a lot in the intervening years, largely down to the incident involving Maria Weston. Bullying plays a pivotal role in the plot and although Maria was the target, I did have a lot of sympathy for Louise as she struggled to be accepted by the ‘cool kids’ whilst maintaining friendships outside of that clique. It is interesting to think that these events happened before the advent of social media and dread to think what would have happened to Maria if it had existed in 1989.

Throughout the book, Louise becomes more and more isolated as she doesn’t know who she can trust, suspicion being cast everywhere. This made for a tense read, especially when ‘Maria’ ups her game and makes it obvious that Louise is firmly in her sights. I liked the fact that there were several examples of misdirection so that you didn’t know which incidents were down to ‘Maria’ and which had a perfectly logical explanation.

The author’s characterisation is very authentic, especially when writing about the trials and tribulations of being a teenage girl at secondary school. I’m sure everyone reading could relate some of the characters to people they knew during their own education.

For a debut novel, this is an excellent story which is well-written, pacy and gripping. I look forward to reading more of Laura Marshall’s work.

With thanks to Little, Brown Book Group UK, Sphere and Net Galley for my ARC.

 

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