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February 2022

**BLOG TOUR** Every Little Secret by Sarah Clarke

On the surface, Grace appears to have a great life, but all is not as it seems. When her seven-year-old daughter, Kaia, makes a series of serious allegations and her behaviour in school starts to give cause for concern, Grace does not know who or what to believe. With events from her past threatening to tear her family apart, just how far will she go to protect the people she loves the most?

Well, this is a story that really messed with my head! I love a story with an unreliable narrator and Sarah Clarke has taken this a step further in Every Little Secret. This is very much a character driven novel and I felt as though I developed a good understanding of Grace and her husband, Marcus, only for the rug to be pulled away from under me several times! My opinions of several of the characters constantly changed, to the point where I did not know who to believe!

The story is told in two main time frames – the present and when our main characters wee much younger. We soon discover that something has happened in the past that could potentially cause huge problems in the present and this story is gradually revealed as the book progresses. I found myself shocked on more than one occasion as we begin to realise that we don’t always truly know everything about those we love the most.

Every Little Secret is a very apt title as there are numerous secrets that people have kept hidden for many years, each one now impacting on the present. This twisty tale had me gripped from the start and the ending took my breath away.

With thanks to HQ Digital and Net Galley.

The Dublin Railway Murder by Thomas Morris

In November 1856, George Little, a cashier at the Broadstone railway terminus in Dublin was found brutally murdered in his office. With piles of money left lying around, theft did not seem like the motive but in perhaps what was the most perplexing part of the story, the door of the office was locked from the inside. How did the killer escape if not through the door? Top detectives were summoned from London, including the well-known Jonathan Whicher, to no avail. Who did kill George Little?

This true crime has been thoroughly researched by the author and from the outset we are given a clear picture of Dublin and how easy it was for a family to fall into poverty. In a country that had recently suffered from a famine that had killed an estimated one million people and driven a further million away from their homes in the hope of starting a new life, the unexpected death of the chief wage earner could be catastrophic.

There are many aspects to the story which will appeal to fans of true crime and crime fiction alike. The murder itself is well-detailed as is the police investigation and the ensuing trial. There are red herrings a-plenty as we are introduced to a plethora of suspects, the investigators clearly struggling to find the culprit with no clues and unreliable witnesses.

I think that my favourite part of the story is what happened after the trial, the author again showing their meticulous research in order to build up a complete picture of how the case impacted on those involved.

A thoroughly enjoyable discussion on a case that had been previously unfamiliar to me.

**BLOG TOUR** Sorry Isn’t Good Enough by Jane Bailey

It’s 1966 and nine-year-old Stephanie feels different. Having a ‘wonky foot’ due to polio when she was younger, she just wants to be loved but her strict church-going parents don’t make life easy for her. Her friend Dawn doesn’t help either so when she befriends Mr Man and his dog, Goldie, Stephanie finally sees a future for herself. When Dawn goes missing in the woods, someone knows more than they are saying and decades later, Stephanie wonders if what happened that summer is finally going to catch up with her.

The pace of this book was perfect, Jane Bailey giving us time to get to know the characters and allowing us to develop opinions of them. From the very start, my heart went out to Stephanie, a tragic character who just wants to be liked and appreciated, a theme which continues through to her adult life. Dawn, on the other hand, was a shocking character but there was definitely a hint of her also feeling the need to feel liked even though her methods of attracting attention were very different to Stephanie’s.

It is no spoiler to say that there is a major event in the book but what I liked was that it was not signposted in any way, leaving me constantly wondering what was going to happen. This slow approach certainly built up the suspense and I was definitely shocked when I realised where the story was going. There are several other shocking events throughout the plot that, at times, really tug on the heart strings and made me want to give Stephanie a huge hug.

This is very much a character-driven novel and Jane Bailey’s writing had me invested in the plot right from the start. A fantastic read.

With thanks to Orion and Net Galley and to Tracy Fenton at Compulsive Leaders for organising the blog tour.

My Eagerly Anticipated Books of 2022

I’m a bit late with this post but for some reason, I forgot to publish it! Here are the books I am most looking forward to reading this year although I’m sure there are many more I’ve forgotten!

See No Evil by David Fennell

Two men are found dead in London’s Battersea Park. One of the bodies has been laid out like a crucifix – with his eyes removed and placed on his open palms.

Detective Inspector Grace Archer and her caustic DS, Harry Quinn, lead the investigation. But when more bodies turn up in a similar fashion, they find themselves in a race against time to find the sadistic killer.

The hunt leads them to Ladywell Playtower in Southeast London, the home to a religious commune lead by the enigmatic Aaron Cronin. Archer and Quinn suspect Cronin’s involvement but his alibis are watertight, and the truth seemingly buried. If Archer is to find the killer, she must first battle her way through religious fanatics, London gangsters – and her own demons . . .

The Locked Room by Elly Griffiths

Ruth is in London clearing out her mother’s belongings when she makes a surprising discovery: a photograph of her Norfolk cottage taken before Ruth lived there. Her mother always hated the cottage, so why does she have a picture of the place? The only clue is written on the back of the photo: Dawn, 1963.

Ruth returns to Norfolk determined to solve the mystery, but then Covid rears its ugly head. Ruth and her daughter are locked down in their cottage, attempting to continue with work and home-schooling. Happily, the house next door is rented by a nice woman called Zoe, who they become friendly with while standing on their doorsteps clapping for carers.

Nelson, meanwhile, is investigating a series of deaths of women that may or may not be suicide. When he links the deaths to an archaeological discovery, he breaks curfew to visit the cottage where he finds Ruth chatting to her neighbour whom he remembers as a carer who was once tried for murdering her employer.

Only then her name wasn’t Zoe. It was dawn.

You Never Said Goodbye by Luca Veste

Sam Cooper has a happy life: a good job, a blossoming relationship. Yet, there’s something he can never forget – the image seared into his mind of his mother, Laurie, dying when he was a child. His father allowed his grief to tear them apart and Sam hasn’t seen him in years.

Until an unexpected call from Firwood hospital, asking Sam to come home, puts in motion a chain of devastating events. On his deathbed, Sam’s father makes a shocking confession.

Who was Laurie Cooper? It’s clear that everything Sam thought he knew about his mother was wrong. And now he’s determined to find out exactly what she did and why – whatever the cost.

What happens if you discover you’ve been lied to by your own family for twenty-five years?

Sam Cooper is about to find out.

The Murder Book by Mark Billingham
Tom Thorne has it all.

In Nicola Tanner and Phil Hendricks, Thorne has good friends by his side. He finally has a love life worth a damn and is happy in the job to which he has devoted his life…

Tom Thorne has it all…. to lose.

Hunting the woman responsible for a series of grisly murders, Thorne has no way of knowing that he will be plunged into a nightmare from which he may never wake.

A nightmare that has a name. 

Finally, Thorne’s past has caught up with him and a ruinous secret is about to be revealed. If he wants to save himself and his friends, he must do the unthinkable.

You Never Said Goodbye by Luca Veste

Sam Cooper’s childhood could hardly be described as a happy one but he has somehow managed to put it behind him and carve out a successful life. Estranged from his father, when he receives word from a hospital asking him to come, Sam realises that his whole life has been a lie. A deathbed confession leads him into a dangerous, unfamiliar world, one that makes him question everything about his past. What exactly happened to his mother and will he manage to find out before her past catches up with him?

This is quite a departure for Luca Veste as he takes us the the USA in this fast-paced thriller that kept me on the edge of my seat from the very beginning. Sam, the main protagonist is not your typical action hero but an ordinary man who finds himself caught up in a cat and mouse chase across the country as he tries to discover the truth behind events from his past. It is this ordinariness that made Sam such an endearing character and had me willing him to succeed in his quest.

Told in two time frames, we see how things unfolded a number of years ago and also how Sam reacts to finding out the same information decades later. It soon becomes apparent why everything has happened as it has, leading to some quite shocking revelations. The plot develops at a good pace and, although there are many characters, each of them with their own reasons for tracking Sam down, it never felt confusing or complicated.

You Never Said Goodbye is action-packed with moments of heartbreak and should hopefully be a huge success for Luca Veste.

With thanks to Net Galley and Hodder & Stoughton for my copy.

Monthly Roundup – January 2022

I didn’t quite reach my Goodreads Challenge least year for the first time, so I’m determined that I’m going to do it this year!

Books I Have Read

The Midnight Hour by Elly Griffiths

The sixth book in the Brighton Mysteries series focuses more on the female characters as they investiagte the murder of theatre impressario Bert Billington. Set in 1965, I was really transported back to the Britain of that time.

Unholy Murder by Lynda La Plante

In the latest in the Tennison series, the detective investigates the murder of a nun found buried in a coffin near to the convent where she resided. Another series that just keeps getting better.

You Never Said Goodbye by Luca Veste

Luca Veste’s latest book is set in the USA and sees the lead character, Sam Cooper, slowly coming to terms that everything he’s been told about his family in the past may not be true. A twisty, fast-paced book that I really enjoyed.

Sorry Isn’t Good Enough by Jane Bailey

A gripping tale set partly in 1966 when a catastrophic event in the childhood of nine-year-old Stephanie has a knock-on effect for the rest of her life. Review to feature as part of the blog tour.

Books I Have Acquired

From the outside, it seems Grace has it all. Only she knows about the cracks in her picture-perfect life… and the huge secret behind them. After all, who can she trust?

Her brother Josh is thousands of miles away, and he and Grace have never been close – he was always their parents’ favourite.

Her best friend Coco walked away from her years ago, their friendship irreparably fractured by the choices they’ve made.

And her husband Marcus seems like a different man lately. Grace can’t shake the feeling that he’s hiding something.

But when her seven-year-old daughter makes a troubling accusation, Grace must choose between protecting her child and protecting her secret… before she loses everything.

Just the one new book this month as I try to make headway on the TBR list!

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