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July 2017

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.

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***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.

 

Last Seen Alive by Claire Douglas

514-fU+PfcLLibby Hall, the school teacher who saved a child from a burning building, should be revelling in her new-found hero status. Instead it has brought back memories of what took place nine years ago – the last time she saw her friend, Karen, alive. So when she has the opportunity to put it all behind her and undergo a holiday house swap with a couple in picturesque Cornwall, it seems like the ideal way to solve the problem. All is not what it seems, however, and soon Libby feels that she is being watched and she begins to mistrust even the person closest to her – her husband, Jamie. Just what is happening to her and is it linked to the terrifying events of nine years ago?

From the start, I was suspicious about the circumstances behind the house swap. It was plain to see that the couple had been targeted but we do not find out why or by whom until much later in the book. Although Libby and Jamie are spending time in a spacious house in the vast Cornish countryside, the author has created a setting which is extremely claustrophobic and unsettling as we learn to anticipate that something untoward is about to happen. There were several times when I was urging Libby to trust her instincts and get away from a potentially dangerous situation and I could understand the reasons behind her falling suspicious of her husband as he tried to convince her that all was well.

In books of this genre, you become accustomed to there being a twist involved and, indeed, there was one in Last Seen Alive. I was convinced that I had the plot all worked out, only to find that I could not be more wrong! There was a certain point in the book where I had to completely reevaluate everything I thought I knew, making me think carefully about everything that I had already read. Just when I thought I finally had it all worked out, another curveball was thrown, making me gasp once again!

I thought that the previous book from the author, Local Girl Missing, was good but Last Seen Alive even manages to eclipse it! A gripping, claustrophobic delight of a book that I cannot recommend highly enough.

With thanks to Penguin UK – Michael Joseph and NetGalley for my ARC.

The Stolen Girls by Patricia Gibney

51Au1qVQ0PL._SY346_Detective Lottie Parker is a woman in turmoil. After events took a harrowing turn in her previous case, her relationship with her children has become more strained than ever, so when a woman turns up on her doorstep asking for help, Lottie is pushed to her limits. On the same day, the body of a partially decomposed woman is found – could the two incidents be linked?

I can honestly say that the opening chapter of this book, describing atrocities taking place in Kosovo, is once of the most harrowing and emotional I have ever read – not ideal when you are reading it on public transport! Patricia Gibney succeeded in drawing me in right from the start, helping me to develop an emotional attachment to many of the characters. My heart went out to the Kosovan boy who witnessed things that no child should ever have to and also to Mimoza, the woman whose visit to Lottie sparks off an investigation into people trafficking, prostitution and organ harvesting.

In Lottie Parker, we have a very realistic, likeable protagonist who is desperately trying to balance her home and work life. As in the previous book, The Missing Ones, her family become embroiled in the case, the trauma of previous events coming back to haunt one of her children. Although there are some spoilers, it is not essential to have read the first book in the series, but I would advise you do as it is another fantastic book.

The subject matter is, at times, incredibly hard-hitting and evokes sympathy throughout. I genuinely could not put this book down, the short chapters moving the story along at a very fast pace, and the quality of the writing immersing me completely in the plot. This has definitely been one of my favourite reads of the year so far.

With thanks to Bookouture and NetGalley for my ARC.

Frost at Midnight by James Henry

With only days to go until his wedding to fellow police officer Kim Myles, Detective Sergeant Waters finds his preparations thrown into disarray when the body of a woman is found on a gravestone at the church where the ceremony is due to take place. Coupled with the fact that his best man is the dishevelled Jack Frost, this marriage looks doomed from the start! When another local woman goes missing, Frost knows that time is of the essence if he is to find her alive.

Frost at Midnight is the fourth of the prequels to R. D. Wingfield’s Touch of Frost, the book that was the inspiration behind the incredibly popular TV series starring David Jason. I can remember reading, and enjoying, Wingfield’s books but feeling as though the character of Frost, compared to the portrayal of him on TV, was completely different – a problem with watching the series before reading the books. In Frost at Midnight, however, I found that I was imagining David Jason delivering the lines, making this book a must-read for all fans of the ITV show.

By setting the prequels in the 1980s, we get the opportunity to experience the opinions of the time such as the attitudes some people had towards black officers. There are also some great cultural references, firmly placing the book in 1983. Watching Frost attempting to come to terms with the new computers and his much-hated pager was very reminiscent of the TV show where his filing system, or lack of it, left a lot to be desired!

The crimes within the book are well thought out and entertaining. One of the cases is particularly gruesome and I had much sympathy for the poor officer who chanced upon the body! Like all Frost books, though, there is an element of humour running throughout, making this a gripping and enjoyable read. There is definitely more scope for further prequels!

With thanks to Random House UK, Transworld Publishers and NetGalley for the ARC.

Monthly Round Up: June 2017

This month, I was happy to attend an evening with three fantastic crime writers – Mark Billingham, Luca Veste and Chris Brookmyre and got some signed copies of their books to add to my ever-growing collection! Mark Billingham’s latest book was one of my reads this month, and a great read it was too!

Books I’ve Read

Trust Me51O73PAHCPL__SY346_ by Angela Clarke

The third in Angela Clarke’s ‘social media’ crime series, sees DS Nasreen Cudmore and civilian associate Freddie Venton tackle the case of a girl who has apparently been viewed on the Periscope app  being murdered. Another great read!

 

LoveLikeBloodLove Like Blood by Mark Billingham

The latest of Mark Billingham’s Thorne series deals with the controversial issue of honour killings. A disturbing yet enthralling read, this is Billingham at his best.

 

51gh4mWIeqLBlood Sisters by Jane Corry

Fifteen years after a fatal accident, someone is out for revenge. Told from the perspectives of half-sisters, Alison and Kitty, Blood Sisters is a twisty tale of paranoia, revenge and deception. 

 

FullSizeRenderSoftly, Softly by David Jackson

Available to members of David Jackson’s Reader’s Club, Softly, Softly is a short story about a man’s obsession…

 

Hunted by Monty Marsden

The infamous serial killer, Riondino, is on the run and it is up to the Italian police to find him. This is definitely a serial killer tale with a difference! Review to be published on July 25th as part of the book’s blog tour.

 

Troll by D. B. Thorne

When a young woman goes missing and is presumed dead by the police, her father is not convinced. What follows is a twisted game of cat and mouse. Will she be found alive after all?

 

Books I’ve Acquired

51KXRQQmfFL._SX323_BO1,204,203,200_

Shots ring out at a Salvation Army Christmas concert in Oslo, leaving one of the singers dead in the street. The trail will lead Harry Hole, Oslo’s best investigator and worst civil servant, deep into the darkest corners of the city and, eventually, to Croatia.

An assassin forged in the war-torn region has been brought to Oslo to settle an old debt. As the police circle in, the killer becomes increasingly desperate and the danger mounts for Harry and his colleagues.

 

516UpgT9p9L._SY346_

 

THE MARK OF THE DEVIL, THE SIGN OF A KILLER…

A young woman is murdered in her flat and a tiny red diamond in the shape of a five-pointed star is found behind her eyelid.

Detective Harry Hole is assigned to the case, alongside his long-time adversary Tom Waaler, and initially wants no part in it.

But Harry is already on his final warning and has little alternative but to drag himself out of his alcoholic stupor when it becomes apparent that Oslo has a serial killer on its hands.

 

51AiillZG+LThe first snow will come.

A young boy wakes to find his mother missing. Their house is empty but outside in the garden he sees his mother’s favourite scarf – wrapped around the neck of a snowman.

And then he will appear again.

As Harry Hole and his team begin their investigation they discover that an alarming number of wives and mothers have gone missing over the years.

And when the snow is gone…

When a second woman disappears it seems that Harry’s worst suspicions are confirmed: for the first time in his career Harry finds himself confronted with a serial killer operating on his home turf.

…he will have taken someone else.

 

51Ry-oprklL**THE TRUE STORY BEHIND THE CRITICALLY ACCLAIMED BBC DRAMA ‘THREE GIRLS’ **

What do they find attractive about me? An underage girl who just lies there, sobbing, looking up at them…as they come to me one by one.

This is the shocking true story of how a young girl from Rochdale came to be Girl A – the key witness in the trial of Britain’s most notorious child sex ring.

Girl A was just 14 when she was groomed by a group of nine Asian men. After being lured into their circle with free gifts, she was plied with alcohol and systematically abused. She was just one of up to fifty girls to be ‘passed around’ by the gang. The girls were all under-16 and forced to have sex with as many as twenty men in one night.

When details emerged a nation was outraged and asked how these sickening events came to pass. And now, the girl at the very centre of the storm reveals the heartbreaking truth.

 

August, 1983. Denton is preparing for a wedding. Detective Sergeant Waters should be on top of the world with less than a week to go until he marries Kim Myles. But the Sunday before the big day, instead of a run-through with his best man, the church is sealed off. The body of a young woman has been found in the churchyard, and their idyllic wedding venue has become a crime scene.

Detective Sergeant Jack Frost has been homeless for the past three months, ever since his wife’s family sold the matrimonial house. He’s been staying with Detective Constable Sue Clarke but with a baby to take care of and the imminent arrival of her mother, she’s given him his marching orders.

But as best man to Waters, he’s got a responsibility to solve the mystery of the dead girl in the churchyard. Can he put his own troubles aside and be the detective they need him to be? All in all, August looks set to be a wicked month in Denton…

 

She can run
Libby Hall needs to hide, to escape from everything for a while. Which is why the house swap is a godsend. The chance for Libby and her husband Jamie to exchange their tiny Bath flat for a beautiful haven on the wild Cornish coast.

But she can’t hide
But before they can begin to heal their fragile marriage, Libby makes some disturbing discoveries about the house. And soon the peace and isolation begin to feel threatening. How alone are they? Why does she feel watched?

Because someone knows her secret
What is Jamie hiding? Is Libby being paranoid? And why does the house bring back such terrible memories? Memories Libby’s worked hard to bury. Memories of the night she last saw her best friend alive . . . and what he did.

 

I’m got a few good books on my TBR pile for next month and also the blog tour for ‘Hunted’ to look forward too. Happy reading!

 

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