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April 2020

Vanishing Point by Vanessa Robertson

We all love a freebie, and that is exactly what is on offer here! Vanessa Robertson is, very kindly, offering a free copy of her novella Vanishing Point to anyone who signs up for her mailing list. The first book in her new series, Don’t Blink, featuring Kate Carpenter, will be published in the autumn, so why not sign up and meet this character now!

All you have to do is click on this link and sign up – it’s that simple!

To whet your appetite:

A stolen painting.

A high stakes recovery operation.

A game of nerve.

Art advisor Kate Carpenter has an off-the-books sideline in art recovery, dealing with thieves and gangsters to reunite valuable artworks with their owners. But this time she’s taking it up a notch. Only a day after her ex-boyfriend was convicted of assaulting her, she’s off to Belarus on the trail of a priceless van Gogh with a posse of ex-soldiers riding shotgun. Right now, the buzz of securing the return of that painting is just what she needs.

With thanks to Kelly at Love Books Tours

Sherlock Holmes: The Rediscovered Railway Mysteries by John Taylor

My next foray into the world of the audio book has brought me to Sherlock Holmes: The Rediscovered Railway Mysteries by John Taylor. Based on the well-known stories by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle and read by Benedict Cumberbatch – Sherlock himself – my interest was immediately piqued!

I was looking for something short to listen to and at just over two hours for four stories, this was just the ticket. The cases, An Inscrutable Masquerade, The Conundrum of Coach 13, The Trinity Vicarage Larceny and The 10.59 Assassin were all very much in the style of Conan Doyle  and definitely captured the essence of the original stories. There were a range of crimes on offer including murder and theft, each plot showcasing the talents of Holmes and Watson and we even have a short cameo from Inspector Lestrade.

Of course, having BBC’s Sherlock, Benedict Cumberbatch, reading the stories is what makes this even better. His superb narration of these tales, complete with multiple accents, made this a joy to listen to.

If you are looking for a bit of escapism for a couple of hours, then I can definitely recommend Sherlock Holmes: The Rediscovered Railway Mysteries by John Taylor.

Why Mummy Drinks by Gill Sims

Mother of two, Ellen, is stressed. Working in IT with two argumentative children, a husband that is quite content snoring in front of the television and a dog that likes to judge, the big 4-0 is fast approaching and she’s exhausted. There must be more to life than this, surely?!

With the constant bad news at the moment, I was in need of something lighthearted to read and I remembered that despite reading books two and three of this series, I’d never read this one. This was also my first foray into the world of the audio book as I decided that this was exactly the sort of book that could accompany me whilst cooking and cleaning in self-isolation!

After reading the other books, it was good to see where all of this began and to be introduced, for the first time, to The Coven (aka the other mummies at the school gate) and her friends and family. Ellen is desperately trying to portray a middle-class images to the other mums, but feels she is thwarted at every turn either by her poorly behaved children or by her husband’s sister and her family. Louisa (or Amaris as she would like to be known) and her family were absolute gems of characters and you could truly visualise Ellen’s disdain of them.

Why Mummy Drinks provided me with many laugh out loud moments and was a much needed distraction from the current situation, read brilliantly by Gabrielle Glaister.

My other reviews:

Why Mummy Swears

Why Mummy Doesn’t Give a …!,

Remain Silent by Susie Steiner

Working part time in the cold cases department of the Cambridgeshire police force, DI Manon Bradshaw wasn’t expecting to find herself caught up in another murder case. While out for a walk with her two-year-old son, she finds the body of a Lithuanian immigrant, Lukas Balsys, hanging from a tree. Faced with a conspiracy of silence among the rest of the Lithuanian community, Manon finds herself involved in one of the most complex cases of her career.

Remain Silent is a hard-hitting story of the poor treatment and exploitation of immigrant workers and how they are viewed by certain sectors of society. It was hard not to feel anything other than anger at how these people, leaving their country hoping for a better life, were immediately herded into unsanitary housing, working at the beck and call of cruel gangmasters. While it was understandable that the local residents did not want these people living amongst them due to the filthy conditions of their house, Susie Steiner’s backstories of these immigrants paints most of them in a favourable light, leaving you with nothing but sympathy for their plight.

As in previous books, Manon is an excellent character and is written so well that she could be real. Great at her job but struggling to manage it alongside her family life, her world threatens to collapse when she is given some bad news about a loved one. Again, I loved the realism of this part of the plot as we see the two sides of Manon, struggling internally with the news yet trying to remain pragmatic at the same time. In some books of this genre, the family life of the detective can detract from the plot, but not here. Her adopted son, Fly, who we first met in Missing, Presumed, is a delight of a character and I enjoyed seeing how he is growing up to be a fine young man.

Remain Silent has a gritty plot which, at times, is not for the faint of heart. If you haven’t read any of Susie Steiner’s work before, then I can highly recommend starting with Missing Presumed as once you’ve read that one, you will definitely want to read the rest of the series.

As a footnote, I would just like to say that it’s not often that the acknowledgments of a book move me as much as the ones did in Remain Silent. I would like to wish Susie Steiner all the best for her fight and hope that we see more Manon books for many years to come.

With thanks to Harper Fiction and Net Galley for my ARC. You can pre-order Remain Silent here.

 

 

**BLOG TOUR** Strangers by C L Taylor

Three people who have never met before suddenly find themselves linked in such a way that should they not stick together, one of them will die. Ursula, a woman with the compulsion to steal, believes that she has killed the love of her life, Gareth, a security guard, has been receiving strange postcards and Alice, out on a date for the first time in years, is being stalked. What bring them together and why do their lives now depend on each other?

After thoroughly enjoying the author’s previous book, Sleep, I jumped at the chance to be one of the blogs on the tour for her latest book, Strangers. From the clever prologue where we have three apparent strangers standing around a dead body, I was immediately hooked and knew that this was going to be one of those books that I would be reluctant to put down.

The rest of the book is about the events leading up to that prologue, and gives us the back stories of the three main characters – Ursula, Gareth and Alice. Each of these characters have very different stories and, although it soon becomes apparent where they all converge, I loved how the author kept us waiting to discover who the victim is and their reason for being there. This slow build up led to a gripping finale where there were several heart-in-mouth moments, and I was definitely right about not being able to put the book down!

Throughout the book, the author takes us on an emotional journey as we get to know each of these characters. My favourite character was Ursula, a woman with her faults but whose tenacity and sense of justice shone through, even putting her own safety at risk to protect others. Although Ursula finds herself in a very frightening situation, it was, perhaps, Alice who I felt the most fear for. It was easy to see that all was not well with her new relationship, and I willed her to get out while she still could!

It was, however, Gareth’s story that I found the saddest and the one that had the most effect on me. I defy anybody reading the conclusion of his part of the plot not to have a lump in their throat.

Strangers has a clever plot that is action-packed and full of surprises; parts of it will remain with me for a long time. Highly recommended.

With thanks to Sanjana Cunniah, Avon and Net Galley for my ARC and for my spot on the tour.

The Body Under the Bridge by Nick Louth

When a musician disappears on a train heading into London, DCI Craig Gillard wonders why he is involved in a missing persons case. All is revealed when he discovers that the woman’s father is the German Minister of Justice and that this threatens to be a very high profile case. All is not what it seems, however, and soon Craig finds himself battling with a particularly sadistic killer – one who has his eyes set on the detective himself. This case has suddenly got very personal…

This, the fifth in the series, sees the detective taking on one of his most complex cases so far. I was drawn in from the start and loved how when I thought I knew in which direction the plot was going, Nick Louth completely changed tack, yet always managing to make the story flow coherently. Initially, what looks like a missing person case, very much in the vein of Hitchcock’s The Lady Vanishes, soon becomes a much bigger case involving subterfuge and murder and a killer with a grudge he believes he has to settle.

There are numerous shocking moments in The Body Under The Bridge, many of which I did not see coming at all. It soon became apparent that there was a shadowy character lurking in the background and that they had taken on many guises, but who was this person? I loved how Nick Louth built up this character’s involvement, without us ever knowing who they were, leaving me shocked when all was revealed. It was scary to see how many people fell under this character’s spell and there were several moments where I feared (quite rightly!) for the people they interacted with.

In amongst these shocks, there was one moment where my opinions of a character from previous books changed completely. If you have read the previous books in the series, you will be familiar with Craig’s auntie Trish, a fascinating if rather unhinged character. No spoilers, but her actions in this book genuinely surprised me and I’m looking forward to seeing how Craig reacts to these events in the next book.

This is a great series and if you’ve never read them, now may be a good time to start as the first book, The Body in the Marsh, is (at the time of writing) available for free on Kindle. You can get it here.

With thanks to Canelo and Net Galley for my ARC.

 

 

 

**BLOG TOUR** Buried Deep by Susan Wilkins

After years of undercover work in the Met, Detective Megan Thomas has relocated to Devon where she hopes that living with her sister will provide her with a much easier time than she has been used to. The discovery of a body in a septic tank triggers a panic attack, however, bringing back memories that she is desperate to suppress. Not knowing whether she is capable of doing this job any more, Megan finds the impetus to continue when another body is discovered. Feeling that the police were somewhat to blame, she must try to put her past behind her in order to get the justice that she feels is deserved.

I have read, recently, how some readers are not fans of a prologue. I am firmly in the other camp, liking the hints that this seemingly unconnected part of the book gives about what is to come. If you share my opinion, then you are going to love the prologue of Buried Deep. I was instantly drawn in by what I was reading, desperate to know how this linked to what came next. Although some aspects are revealed, Susan Wilkins has kept an awful lot back, hopefully for a subsequent book, as I am dying to know the full circumstances!

The book contains two main plots, each as gripping as the other. After the body of an unknown man is found in a septic tank, we are introduced to the ultimate dysfunctional household with numerous secrets that we are not yet privy to. It was apparent that, even without the discovery of the body, there was something very shifty going on, the author drip-feeding information throughout the book to build up a clear picture of what was happening. We meet some horrible characters whose wealth and status gives them the belief that they are untouchable, but just how involved are they with regards to the dead man?

My favourite part of the plot, however, was one that made me sad and furious at the same time. After a teenage girl is raped, we see her world begin to crumble around her, not just because of the act itself but because of how it is dealt with on social media. In a world where many young girls have the ambition of being a ‘Youtuber’, it was horrible to see how some of her so-called ‘friends’ used the crime to their advantage in order to gain likes and follows. It is a sad indictment of society that people’s traumas can be exploited like this, and I applaud the author for writing about this distasteful modern phenomena.

Megan is a great character with a backstory that we only skim the surface of. She understands what her flaws are, and although she is receiving help for what has happened in her past, she is aware that these flaws could prevent her from doing the job she wants to do.

Buried Deep is a very promising start to a new series; Susan Wilkins has definitely whetted my appetite for more!

Buy  Link:        

Amazon: https://geni.us/B083JLJ8WTSocial

Apple: https://apple.co/2QAaFTL

Kobo: http://bit.ly/2QRPL1m

Google: http://bit.ly/2R0Dibs

 

With thanks to Noelle Holten, Bookouture and Net Galley.

**BLOG TOUR** The Silent House by Nell Pattison

When a toddler is found brutally murdered in her bedroom with nobody seeing or hearing anything, the initial thought would be ‘how is this possible?’ The Hunter family would not be able to hear anything, however, as everybody in the house is deaf. To help with their interviews, the police call in interpreter Paige Northwood, and soon she comes to the conclusion that the family are hiding something. Who was the intruder or is the murderer of Lexi someone closer to home?

I loved the premise of this book, and the plot is one that really makes you think. At night, when all is dark, we rely upon our hearing to alert us to any danger, but what if you are deprived of this sense? How do you know if anything is wrong? This is the scenario we are faced with when young Lexi is found dead, no one in the family able to hear anything. This was a truly terrifying image and I really felt for the family as they discovered what had happened the following morning.

Nell Pattison really gives us an insight into the deaf community, showing us their daily struggles and how they overcome this. It did not come as a surprise to see that the author works with students who use BSL as her knowledge was apparent throughout her writing. This tight-knit community posed problems for Paige as everyone seemed to know everyone else and gossip was rife. I felt sorry for the interpreter as she was constantly pressed for information from her family and friends, knowing that she would not be able to share what she had discovered in the police interviews.

As well as the murder, there is a linked sub-plot involving Paige when her own life is put in danger. What starts off as messages warning her to stop her work with the police, soon escalates and she is left fearing for her life and for that of her hearing impaired sister. I enjoyed this part of the story as we see Paige suspecting everyone around her, not knowing who, if anyone, she can trust.

Although I did manage to work out who the killer was, it took me quite a while due to the numerous shady characters we meet as the book progresses. This is a strong debut and I look forward to reading what the author writes next.

With thanks to Avon for my copy of The Silent House and to Sanjana Cunniah for organising  the blog tour.

 

 

The Death Certificate by Stephen Molyneux

When Peter Sefton discovers an inscribed metal disc on a farm, he becomes intrigued by its original owner, taking him on a journey to the dangerous streets of Victorian London. Over 150 years before, Moses Jupp finds himself orphaned at a young age, scavenging on the banks of the Thames being the only way to keep him alive. Through his research, Peter reveals a link to a Victorian antiquities scandal and the farm where he is undertaking his metal detecting, uncovering a tragic tale of death, forgery and unfortunate circumstances.

Ever since I read Stephen Molyneux’s debut, The Marriage Certificate, six years ago, I have been longing for a second book. I just didn’t think I would be waiting six long years! It has definitely been worth the wait, however, as the author has, once again, written a fascinating look into another era, mixing historical and genealogical fiction. Written in two time frames, the majority of The Death Certificate tells us about the life of Moses Jupp with timely chapters looking at Peter’s research, allowing the story to move on quickly.

Although he was not always strictly on the side of the law, I had great sympathy for the character of Moses. Losing his parents at such a young age and having to fend for himself, it was understandable that he was always going to have to do what he needed to do in order to survive. I enjoyed reading about his time as a scavenger and his experience at the ragged school and as a shoe-black. There was a definite feeling of, ‘what if…’, however, as if it were not for a constant thorn in his side, his life would probably have been a lot better, leading to a different outcome on the death certificate purchased by Peter.

If, like me, you enjoy historical fiction, especially that set in the Victorian era, then I am sure that this is a book you will enjoy. If you are a family historian, then this is also going to be right up your street. I really enjoy Stephen Molyneux’s writing and I hope that I do not have to wait the same length of time for his next book – we’ve had a death and marriage certificate, how about a birth certificate next?

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