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May 2017

On Copper Street by Chris Nickson

51zeLbgjVpLThe day after he is released from prison, in March 1895, Henry White is found stabbed to death at his home in Copper Street, Leeds. Local people are reluctant to speak to the police so DI Tom Harper knows that he will have a hard time trying to solve the case. Meanwhile, in a seemingly unprovoked incident, a young boy and girl find themselves victims of a serious acid attack. As the death toll rises, Harper knows that unless he gets a big break, the culprits will remain at large for ever.

On Copper Street is the fifth of Chris Nickson’s books to feature the main protagonist, Tom Harper, and is arguably his most complex to date, dealing with issues that wouldn’t look out of place in a contemporary crime novel. His descriptions of late-Victorian Leeds, however, place this book firmly in the past and it is this imagery that I love the most about this author’s books. Chris Nickson always succeeds in putting a clear picture in my mind of where the story is set, whether it be the police station, the public house of the crime scene. It is clear how much the author knows about the places he talks about in his books.

The mystery is a fascinating one and gives us a chance to see how most of Victorian police work came down to the legwork of the detectives. It was also interesting to see a new role being undertaken by Harper and poses a conundrum for future books – will he be content with being based, mainly, in the office, or will he find himself longing to be back out on the streets?

I have always loved the prominence the author gives to women in this series of books, and Harper’s wife, Annabelle, continues to be a strong character, largely due to her work with the Suffragettes. In an era where a lot of men controlled their wives’ lives, it is refreshing to see a fictional Victorian marriage where the couple appear to be equals.

Another excellent addition to the series.

With thanks to NetGalley and Severn House Publishers for the ARC.

Child Taken by Darren Young

It’s every mum’s worst nightmare. On a hot, summer’s day, two-year-old Jessica Preston vanishes from the beach. Although her mother, Sandra, knows she has been abducted, the police are less than convinced, preferring to think that she has drowned. Twenty years later, Sandra still clings on to the hope that her daughter will be found, and her faith is renewed when she is approached by a journalist, offering to get her story back out into the public domain. When the journalist uncovers a huge cover-up, she realises that someone will stop at nothing to keep the secret of Jessica Preston hidden for ever.

You would not think that this is a debut novel, such is the storytelling and the characterisation. I was drawn in from the start as the retelling of the story starts from the perspective of Sandra and the new ‘father’ of the taken child. Instantly, I felt nothing but despair and sadness for Sandra, and admired her tenacity for never toeing the party line with regards to the whereabouts of her daughter. I willed her to, one day, get the news that she had been longing for – the discovery that her daughter had, indeed, not drowned. The new ‘father’, however, I could not believe how quick he was to accept the child that his wife had brought home.

I also instantly warmed to Laura, the journalist intent on finding out the truth, despite the danger she was putting herself in. Although I did, at times, wish that she had the sense to tell someone about the case, especially when her life begins to be threatened, this would have meant that the terrifying chase near the end of the book would probably not have happened. Although I can’t detail this chase in case I give away some spoilers, it is safe to say that this is one of the most terrifying parts of the book that had me on the edge of my seat!

Like most books of this genre, we are growing accustomed to a twist that completely wrong-foots you. As a result, I did find myself anticipating what the twist would be and I was surprised when I did have it worked out! This did not affect my enjoyment of the book, in any way, however – if anything, it gave me more to think about as I was reading.

This is a fantastic debut and I look forward to following the rest of Darren Young’s career.

With thanks to RedDoor Publishing for my copy of the book.

The Sixth Victim by Tessa Harris

Like the rest of Whitechapel, Constance Piper is living in fear of the unknown killer that roams the streets at night – Jack the Ripper. After witnessing a stage hypnotist perform his act, however, Constance has not been feeling herself and begins to think that she has somehow acquired the powers of second sight. She is soon contacted by a lady who fears that the latest victim may be her missing sister – can Constance use her skills to unmask the killer? Just when she needs her help the most, Constance’s teacher and friend, Emily Tindall, has also gone missing. Is her disappearance linked to the man known as the Whitechapel Killer?

The Sixth Victim is a fictional tale set during 1888 when the infamous serial killer, Jack the Ripper, was striking fear across the whole of the east end of London. I originally thought that this was going to be another take on this age-old mystery but was pleased to discover that it merely provided a backdrop for the main plot and the focus was placed on the missing women and a torso that had been found in another part of London.

I warmed to Constance very quickly – a girl who, although living amongst abject poverty, longs to better herself in order to find a way out of the slums of the east end. In The Sixth Victim, the author has managed to create a very colourful image of Whitechapel, showing a stark contrast between the lives of the unfortunate inhabitants to that of the more well-to-do who live in the grand houses and hotels of London. It was easy to imagine (even with out the aid of Constance’s second sight) the sounds and smells of the area and understand why the women of that time lived in constant fear.

I was not sure what to expect when a supernatural element was introduced to the story as this is not my favourite genre of writing, but I felt that it was written well and allowed the plot to move on at a steady pace. It also appears to show how other subsequent books in the series could take shape. Overall, the plot was a good one and I liked how the author has seamlessly merged fact with fiction.

A great read which promises to be the start of a fascinating new series.

With thanks to Net Galley and Kensington Books for the ARC.

Dead Letters by Caite Dolan-Leach

When she receives an email informing her that her twin sister is dead, Ava Antipova isn’t exactly filled with grief. To Ava, this sounds exactly like the sort of scheming she is used to from Zelda, the sister she has not seen for the past two years. Returning home in an attempt to unearth the truth, she soon finds herself on a scavenger hunt that has been set up by her ‘dead’ sister. With her family in a downward spiral, will Ava be able to discover the whereabouts of her missing sister?

I was initially drawn to this book by the cover and the premise of a mystery being solved by way of a scavenger hunt. Although this is being billed in some quarters as a ‘thriller’, I certainly would not agree – there is definitely an air of mystery but is more of a study of the main characters involved in the story. Despite this, I was pleasantly surprised by how much I enjoyed Dead Letters and, although some of the plot lines could be predicted, there were enough clever twists to keep you guessing.

The Antipovas are a dysfunctional family of immense proportions: Nadine (Ava’s mother) is a divorcee suffering from early onset dementia; Marlon (Ava’s father) has a new family who seemingly want nothing to do with his children from his previous marriage and the missing sister, Zelda, is a drug user who will use anyone to help her achieve her aims. Is there any wonder Ava has escaped her past and started a new life in France?! Having a family winemaking business has not exactly helped either as they are all, as Ava admits, alcoholics. Although the characters are not exactly likeable, I did find myself feeling sympathy towards Ava’s plight as she was, once again, manipulated by her sister.

Dead Letters is a strong debut from the author and I look forward to reading her next offering.

With thanks to Atlantic Books and Readers First for my ARC.

 

**BLOG TOUR** Last Witness by Carys Jones – Extract

 

It is my pleasure to be the next stop on the blog tour for the brilliant new book by Carys Jones – Last Witness. My review can be found here, but I am also lucky enough to be able to share an extract with you!

1

‘I want to go home.’
Ewan’s voice was plaintive, sorrowful, as he lifted his head off Amanda’s arm and peered up at her through tired eyes.
Home.
The word pressed itself into Amanda’s side like a thorn. Each time she breathed in she felt its barbed tip. What was home? A place? A person? For Amanda, home had been the beautiful new house she’d bought with her husband, Will.
Bending forward, she coughed to conceal the sob which trembled up her throat and burst from her lips. Will was gone. All that was left of him was the little boy at her side.
‘Home.’ Ewan smacked his hands against his seat and blinked back tears.
‘We can’t go home,’ Shane briefly turned to look back at them from the driving seat. Amanda had watched his profile throughout their long journey, noticed the unrelenting tension in his jaw as he drove down seemingly never-ending motorways. Scotland was now in the rear-view mirror. The sun had started to dip in the sky and Amanda wasn’t sure if she’d reach her mother’s house before dark.
‘Why not?’ the little boy demanded of both the adults in the car, dividing his
heated gaze between them. Shane was looking ahead once more.
‘Because we can’t,’ Amanda wished she had a more concrete explanation to offer Ewan. She wrapped her arm around his slight shoulders and drew him back towards her. He was too tired to pull away.
‘But why not?’ his eyelids were drooping.
Because your mother and father are dead. Because the man who killed them may well be hunting you too.
‘Because we can’t,’ Amanda repeated softly. A minute passed and Ewan’s
breathing deepened as he drifted off to sleep.
*
As Amanda had predicted, night had fallen when Shane’s car pulled into the small driveway outside her mother’s cottage. She could taste the salt in the air sweeping in off the Southern English coast as she stretched out her legs, trying to unknot them after the long drive down from Scotland. Thick, velvety shadows gathered where the vehicle’s headlights couldn’t reach.
‘Are you sure she’s going to be okay with this?’ Shane’s voice was dubious as Amanda yawned widely in the back seat and stretched out her arms.
‘She has to be.’
‘And if she isn’t?’
‘Well,’ Amanda dusted a strand of blonde hair out of her eyes, ‘you don’t have a place of your own right now. I’m sure as hell not going back to my place. And that leaves hers.’
Even at night, the little cottage managed to look welcoming. A single outside light shone beside the front door. It banished away any shadows that lingered too close to the threshold. Amanda smiled a little to herself as she looked at its glow, remembering how that light used to be left on to help guide her back home during her teenage years, when she’d spent hours down on the beach with Shane and John. But who was it on for now? Or did her mother just like to think that she was offering a guiding light to any souls that wandered along the cliffside?
It was cold out. When she opened her car door the slap of the night air against his cheeks roused Ewan from slumber. He made his hands into little balls and furiously rubbed them against his eyes. ‘Where are we?’ he mumbled the question as Shane scooped him up in his strong arms and rested Ewan against his chest. The boy promptly lowered his head and fell back asleep.
‘I envy his ability to just sleep anywhere.’ Shane smiled. It wasn’t a hearty, natural one. More the sort of smile you use in polite company. But Amanda was grateful for it. It was nice to see someone else smile, especially since she doubted she’d ever be able to again.
Pushing back all her nerves and worries, she rang the doorbell.
‘Are you even sure she’ll be up?’
Amanda pulled her phone from her pocket and peered at the screen. It was a quarter to eleven. ‘She’ll be up.’
Sure enough it took less than a minute for the locks to turn on the other side of the door.
‘Who is it?’ Her mother’s voice was tight, suspicious. Amanda could imagine her staring hard at the door, rouge lips pursed in annoyance.
‘Mum, it’s me.’
The door opened. Light flooded the porch, brilliant and bright. Amanda had to stagger back, briefly shielding her eyes.

About the Author:

Carys Jones loves nothing more than to write and create stories which ignite the reader’s imagination. Based in Shropshire, England, Carys lives with her husband, two guinea pigs and her adored canine companion Rollo.

Follow Carys

Twitter: @tiny_dancer85

Facebook: @CarysJonesWriter

Instagram: tiny_dancer_8

Website: http://www.carys-jones.com/

 

With thanks to Aria, Head of Zeus, Carys Jones and Yasmine Turan for enabling me to be part of this blog tour. Take a look at the rest of the great blogs that are participating:

 

 

**BLOG TOUR** Last Witness by Carys Jones – Review

Amanda Thorne is a woman on a mission. After the death of her husband, she is determined to find the man responsible and will not rest until he has been dealt with. Heading back to Scotland, she knows the only way to achieve her aim is to go deep undercover into the world of gang kingpin McAllister. This means immersing herself into the seedy world of drugs, women and nightclubs and exposing herself to extreme danger. Will she be able to protect herself from the secrets of the past and ensure that the last witness to the truth survives?

It was with some trepidation that I started to read this book as it is the continuation of the previous book, Wrong Number – a book I have not read. I was pleased to discover, however, that the author has given enough information to ensure that there is a full understanding of events that have previously occurred without spoiling the opportunity to go back and read the first book.

From the start, I warmed to Amanda, a woman who has taken on the responsibility of bringing up a child that is not hers. Her maternal, protective instinct is clear to see and so it is inevitable that she should want to eliminate the only threat to the child’s future – McAllister. I did question her friend Shane’s involvement in the whole scenario who seemed blinded by love despite his role as a police officer! I did admire his loyalty to Amanda, though, and thought he came across as a thoroughly nice man – exactly the sort of man Amanda needed in her life.

It is essential to suspend reality while reading Last Witness as Amanda pursues McAllister via the darkweb. As this is an area of the internet that, thankfully, very few people have access to, it became quite concerning as to how easy it was for Amanda to access weapons and hack into various databases. There were times when I wanted to scream at Amanda at how stupid she was being for putting her life into danger, especially when there was a child at home waiting for her.

Overall, I found this an enjoyable, fast-paced read and one that makes me regret not reading the first book in the series before this one!

With thanks to Aria, Head of Zeus and Net Galley for the ARC.

Take a look at an extract here!

 

Evil Games by Angela Marsons

71HtaSfrGELWhen a rapist is found brutally murdered, it does not take Detective Inspector Kim Stone and her team long to find the perpetrator. After more vengeful attacks, however, Kim begins to wonder if there is something – or someone – behind each of these cases. Step forward Alexandra Thorne – a professional who is abusing her position in order to manipulate her patients. At the same time, Kim is pursuing the abuser of two young girls and she will not stop until all those involved are brought to justice.

I was not introduced to the Kim Stone series until the third book, Lost Girls, and so I have read them out of sequence. As a result, I was already familiar with the sociopath, Alex Thorne, before reading this book, but this did not spoil my enjoyment in any way.

In Alex Thorne, we have the perfect adversary for the unflappable Kim Stone and it was fascinating to see the cat and mouse game they played as they tried to figure out what made each other tick. With the introduction of Thorne, we also had the opportunity to find out a bit more about Kim’s childhood and were able to meet Patty Stone, the reason behind Kim being a closed book. The scene at the end, where Kim finally lets down her defences slightly and allows Bryant to share a particularly private moment, was a very touching one.

Evil Games is another fantastic addition to the Kim Stone series and I am more than a bit sad that I have now read them all – until the next one is published that is!

You can currently purchase the kindle version of  Evil Games on Amazon for only 99p!

 

Monthly Round Up: April 2017

Welcome to the second of my monthly ’round ups’. I haven’t been able to read as many books as I would have liked, unfortunately, but I’m hoping to remedy that this coming month!

Books I’ve Read

cover.jpg.rendition.460.707The Killer on the Wall by Emma Kavanagh

This was one of those books where I was immediately grabbed by the blurb. Although I did enjoy it, I felt that it had a very slow start and took a while to get going.

 

Dying Games by Steve Robinson51oXpj-8ZIL

The latest of Steve Robinson’s Jefferson Tayte books was one of my most anticipated books of the year and it was not a let-down in the slightest. A fast-paced read containing some very macabre deaths!

 

34500937Dead Souls by Angela Marsons

Has Angela Marsons ever written a bad book?! This is probably the darkest of her Kim Stone series and one that is incredibly thought-provoking. One of my favourite reads of the year so far.

 

CockroachesCockroaches by Jo Nesbo

The second of the Harry Hole books, I found that this one was a big improvement on the previous book as we get more of an insight into Harry’s life and what exactly makes him tick.

 

Last Witness by Carys Jones

The follow-up to Wrong Number is a high octane tale of revenge as the heroine of the story is determined to avenge the murder of her husband. Review will follow on May 7th as part of the book’s blog tour.

 

 

One That Got Away by Annabel Kantaria

A tale of how appearances can be deceiving and how we can never really know what goes on behind closed doors. Annabel’s previous book, The Disappearance, was one of my favourite books of 2016 and this one did not disappoint either. Review will follow closer to the publication date in September 2017.

51ETyWXR--L__SX323_BO1,204,203,200_The Redbreast by Jo Nesbo

The third of the Harry hole books sees Harry finally dealing with a case in his native Norway – a case which has strong links to World War Two. My favourite of the series so far.

Books I’ve Acquired

IMG_1072The foggy streets of London’s Whitechapel district have become a nocturnal hunting ground for Jack the Ripper, and no woman is safe. Flower girl Constance Piper is not immune to dread, but she is more preoccupied with her own strange experiences of late.

Clairvoyants seem to be everywhere these days. Constance’s mother has found comfort in contacting her late father in a séance. But are such powers real? And could Constance really be possessed of second sight? She longs for the wise counsel of her mentor and champion of the poor, Emily Tindall, but the kind missionary has gone missing.

Following the latest grisly discovery, Constance is contacted by a high-born lady of means who fears the victim may be her missing sister. She implores Constance to use her clairvoyance to help solve the crime, which the press is calling “the Whitechapel Mystery,” attributing the murder to the Ripper.

As Constance becomes embroiled in intrigue far more sinister than she could have imagined, assistance comes in a startling manner that profoundly challenges her assumptions about the nature of reality. She’ll need all the help she can get—because there may be more than one depraved killer out there…

 

51vmfJ4pJiLTHERE’S A NEW KILLER ON THE STREETS…
A woman is found murdered after an internet date. The marks left on her body show the police that they are dealing with a particularly vicious killer.

HE’S IN YOUR HOUSE… HE’S IN YOUR ROOM
Under pressure from the media to find the murderer, the force know there’s only one man for the job. But Harry Hole is reluctant to return to the place that almost took everything from him. Until he starts to suspect a connection between this killing and his one failed case.

HE’S OUT FOR BLOOD
When another victim is found, Harry realises he will need to put everything on the line if he’s to finally catch the one who got away.

 

Ava doesn’t believe it when the email arrives to say that her twin sister is dead. It’s not grief or denial that causes her scepticism – it just feels too perfect to be anything other than Zelda’s usual manipulative scheming. And Ava knows her twin. Two years after she left, vowing never to speak to Zelda again after the ultimate betrayal, Ava must return home to retrace her errant sister’s last steps. She soon finds notes that lead her on a twisted scavenger-hunt of her twin’s making. Letter by letter, Ava unearths clues to her sister’s disappearance: and unveils harrowing truths of her own. A is for Ava, and Z is for Zelda, but deciphering the letters in-between is not so simple…A clever, twisty, suspense novel for readers of The Ice Twins by S. K Tremayne and Reconstructing Amelia by Kimberley McCreight.

 

Two women. Two versions of the truth.

Kitty lives in a care home. She can’t speak properly, and she has no memory of the accident that put her here. At least that’s the story she’s sticking to.

Art teacher Alison looks fine on the surface. But the surface is a lie. When a job in a prison comes up she decides to take it – this is her chance to finally make things right.

But someone is watching Kitty and Alison.
Someone who wants revenge for what happened that sunny morning in May.
And only another life will do…

That’s it for another month. I’ve got a few great books on my TBR pile that I hope to read over the next few weeks, and don’t forget to join me on the blog tour for Last Witness by Carys Jones on May 7th when, as well as a review, I will be sharing an extract from the book.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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