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September 2018

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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Tell Nobody by Patricia Gibney

Scoring the winning goal in an important football match should be a cause for celebration. Eleven-year-old Mikey Driscoll finds his celebrations and his life cut tragically short, however, when his body is found two days later. When the body of a second boy is discovered, Detective Lottie Parker has a personal reason for wanting this case closed as soon as possible – the boys are known to her son, Sean. Are the deaths linked to a disturbed young woman who proclaims she has killed ‘him’ and just what is the subject of the conspiracy of silence that seems to be in existence? This will be one of Lottie’s toughest and most emotional cases yet…

Tell Nobody is the fifth outing for D. I. Lottie Parker, in a series that is going from strength to strength. Still coming to terms with events in previous books, Lottie is, once again, struggling to balance home and work life, this time with the spectre of a long-lost relative lurking in the background. For this reason, although it is not essential, I would advise that you read the other books in the series before this one as it will aid in understanding several events that are referred to.

Ragmullin is fast becoming the crime capital of Ireland, and is definitely not a place I would like to live in! In Tell Nobody, we meet several shady characters, each one with secrets they do not want to rise to the surface. Which one, though, is implicated in the most heinous of crimes – the abuse and murder of young boys? The subject matter is, at times, distressing, as is any plot involving the abuse of children. What built up the tension in this book, however, was that we don’t just meet these boys after their death, but we get to find out a bit about their backstory beforehand. By using Lottie’s son and his friends, we get to develop a relationship with these boys, building up a sense of foreboding that something is about to happen to one of them.

Twists and turns abound in a story that, in one part, will rock fans of the series to their very core. No spoilers, but let’s just say that for one of the regular characters, life will never be the same again.

There is still so much more to come from this series, not least Lottie’s reaction to the part of her past that is beginning to merge with the present. Patricia Gibney is a fantastic writer and I can’t wait to see what she has in store next for Lottie.

With thanks to Bookouture and Net Galley for my ARC.

My reviews of the rest of the series can be found here:

The Missing Ones

The Stolen Girls

The Lost Child

No Safe Place

 

**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:

full-metal-cardigan

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