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Splinter in the Blood by Ashley Dyer

41DaNTibw8L._SX326_BO1,204,203,200_For months, a serial killer dubbed ‘The Thorn Killer’ has terrorized Liverpool, daubing victims with macabre tattoos over most of their body. With no tangible leads, Detective Greg Carver is living and breathing the case… until he is shot in his own home. Finding him in his armchair, the actions of his colleague Ruth Lake are more than suspicious. Instead of calling it in, she removes the gun, carefully wipes down surfaces and takes away Carver’s case notes. The only problem is, Carver isn’t actually dead. Waking in his hospital room, with few memories of what happened that night, his obsession with the case grows. What exactly is Ruth hiding and will it cause more blood to be shed?

Well, this book certainly grabs your attention from the off! It’s not often you read a book where, right from the start, you are incredibly suspicious of the detective in charge but from the moment Ruth Lake tampers with the crime scene, I was not sure whether she was a reliable officer. This mistrust remained for much of the book and, coupled with the unknown reason behind Carver’s shooting, this made for an interesting read where you don’t know if the police can be trusted.

The modus operandi of the killer was a particularly gruesome and painful one and when we actually experience them in action, I found myself wincing as they used thorns to tattoo their latest victim. Several possible candidates are put forward as to who the killer is and I was pleased to spot a clue whilst reading that steered me towards that person. One part in particular resonated with me as, being from the city where it is set, the locations were very familiar. Let’s just say the Fairy Glen in Sefton Park now takes on a whole new meaning!

I liked the complicated relationship that Lake and Carver shared and feel that there is definitely more to be explored if this book becomes a series. There is a definite respect between the two detectives although, in light of the cases they are working on, there was also a lot of apprehension. Both detectives are very tenacious and probably a lot more like each other than they care to realise.

As the book progressed, I found it hard to put down and I whizzed through the second half at a rate of knots. There were numerous twists and turns that held my attention right until the very end. I hope that a second book will follow.

With thanks to Net Galley and Little, Brown Book Group UK for my ARC.

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The Wicked Trade by Nathan Dylan Goodwin

Genealogist Morton Farrier finds himself researching the shadowy world of Georgian smugglers after a client asks him to research the life of his ancestor, Ann Fothergill. Using a letter she wrote in 1827 as his starting point, research soon points to her connection with the notorious Aldington Gang, a group from the south of England whose reputation spread far and wide. Just exactly how did Ann make her money and why is someone in the present day so interested in Morton’s work?

This is the seventh book in the Morton Farrier series and, I don’t know how he does it, but Nathan Dylan Goodwin keeps pulling it out of the bag! I’m a huge fan of genealogical fiction and it’s fair to say that while some is better than others, I would definitely put this author up there with the best. Such is my love of Morton Farrier, as soon as I realised that another book had been published, I immediately downloaded it and, despite my mounting reading pile, started to read straight away!

Like other books in the series, The Wicked Trade is told in multiple time frames, in this case the present day and the 1820s. Both parts of the story were equally as compelling and I enjoyed finding out about Ann’s life and also the research Morton took to uncover it. As a fellow genealogist, I am always interested in Morton’s visits to record offices and I am always pleased with the author’s attention to detail. Morton’s life has changed a lot since the start of the series, and since the birth of his daughter he has other commitments in addition to his job so it was good to see how he is juggling his personal and professional life.

The story of Ann Fothergill was a fascinating one and showed how it doesn’t matter the circumstances in which you were born, if there is a chance to improve your life you should take it. I found I had mixed feelings towards Ann. I admired her for her ability to turn her life around from an illiterate streetwalker to the owner of public houses but, on the other hand, her involvement with the Aldington Gang and the subsequent events left me with a nasty taste in my mouth.

I loved the historical detail in the book and it painted a great picture of how smugglers operated in the nineteenth century. The use of language that would have been spoken at the time also gave the story a more authentic feel.

There is still much to tell about Morton Farrier so I hope that another book is in the pipeline!

Orchard View by Deborah J Miles

After purchasing the once grand Orchard View, builder, Bill Maynard, has his heart set on making a profit by converting it into bedsits. What he doesn’t bargain on is the discovery of human bones under the patio. After being told that the area was a burial site during the time of the Black Death, he has a decision to make – inform the police of his findings and risk losing money or cover the remains up and pretend they were never there. Whatever he decides to do, the discovery has set in motion a chain of events that will change the lives of many…

Recently, on the BBC, there was a television series detailing the history of 62 Falkner Street in Liverpool. This programme traced the people who had lived at the house from when it was built, telling their stories and linking them to the local and national events of the time. It was this programme I thought of while reading Orchard View, which tells the story of the house and its various residents. Although much of the tale is told from the perspective of the inhabitants, it was also a novel concept to give the house itself a voice. Like any reader, the house had its favourite characters and it was fascinating to see what it thought of the people who lived within it.

The story could have become very disjointed due to the different people living there over the years, so it was a clever to idea to have a constant character, a neighbour, who would remain there throughout. This provided a link between each of the stories and also gave the book a definite edge. You will have to read Orchard View to find out more about this though!

It is hard to say too much about the plot without giving too much away, but what I will say is that it is an intriguing look into the private lives of people and definitely a case of how we don’t always know what goes on behind closed doors. I wasn’t sure what to expect when I began reading, but I found that I soon couldn’t put Orchard View down as I was desperate to see what tragedy would befall each resident. There was certainly a lot of death and misery for one house!

I would like to thank the author for giving me the opportunity to read this book and I thoroughly recommend it. A super read!

Buy Orchard View here: Amazon

 

 

**BLOG TOUR** Best Friends by Carys Jones

Struggling to pay the rent, four housemates, Grace, Jasper, Franklin and Aaron think that all of their prayers have been answered when they find a case containing a large sum of money in a skip. Despite their consciences telling them to leave it where it is, they are soon spending their new-found wealth. The arrival of a thug on their doorstep, though, changes everything when he demands his property be returned in a week’s time or consequences will be dealt. When one of the four suddenly finds themselves fighting for their life, the others begin to wonder whether they, too, will suffer the same fate…

What would you do if you found £20,000? Personally, I’d hand it in to the police but our protagonists in Best Friends are in such dire straits that all they can think about is how this unexpected windfall could solve all of their problems. In addition to paying their rent, they soon start to purchase items that they feel will help them in their burgeoning careers, whether it be time at a dance studio or a new guitar. Of course, it was inevitable that the real owner of the case would come looking for his money and this sets in motion a chain of events that will see several of the friends venturing into the seedier side of money-making in order to prevent something terrible happening to them.

I liked the main character, Grace, and felt desperately sorry for her as she tried, to no avail, to fulfil her dreams of becoming a professional dancer. Her early life was beyond traumatic and I willed her to succeed so she could finally live the life she deserved. It was pleasing to see how her housemates tried to protect her even when she stepped completely out of her comfort zone to try to earn back some of the money that they took.

While Best Friends definitely deals with a crime and its consequences, I would not put this in the thriller or crime genres. Instead, it is a great study of how people react in different ways to a situation and how easy it is to get drawn into something unsavoury. The ending is tied up neatly and it is a good lesson in how vital friendships are and how you should always aim high in order to reach your potential.

With thanks to Aria and Net Galley for the ARC.

Links to buy

Amazon: http://amzn.to/2mKlVg0

Kobo: http://bit.ly/2DMGC34

Google Play: http://bit.ly/2mMlsKp

iBooks: https://apple.co/2rk5pZN

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My Mother the Liar by Ann Troup

After the death of her mother, Rachel Porter reluctantly returns to the family home to assist in sorting out her belongings. After years of avoiding her family, Rachel’s worst fears are realised when two bodies are found hidden at the house. As a police investigation is launched, it soon becomes apparent that the deaths are not the only secrets to lurk at the house and soon the lives of all those involved are at risk.

My Mother the Liar is the fourth Ann Troup book that I have read (The Lost Child, The Silent Girls and The Forgotten Room are the others) and this one, again, deals with a dysfunctional family of the highest order. It is apparent from quite early on that there is no love lost between Rachel and her sisters and also their recently-deceased mother. In fact, it was hard to find two people in the family who actually seemed to like each other! It is no wonder, therefore, that Rachel felt the need to get away as soon as she could and why she was so reluctant to return. Because of the complicated nature of the family, I did find it, at times, hard to keep up with who was who in the early stages of the story. As it progressed, though, things became much clearer and I got more of a handle of the family tree.

The book may be called My Mother the Liar but this is a family where there are very few people actually telling the truth! Although many of the characters expressed a dislike of Rachel, I found myself warming to her and had complete sympathy for the situation she found herself in. Without revealing any spoilers, I could fully understand why she did what she did with regards to her family and was willing everything to turn out right for her in the end.

As the death toll rose, I did work out who the culprit was as there seemed to be only one person who it could be. By the end, I felt that all motives were fully explained and that the plot was tied up neatly.

With thanks to Net Galley and HQ Digital for the ARC.

2018 AtoZ Reading Challenge

 

The Lying Kind by Alison James

36652250Detective Rachel Prince is tasked with taking over the investigation into missing six-year-old Lola Jade Harper. Deducing that something is not quite right with the girl’s family, she must untangle the web of deceit if she has any chance of finding her. When the body of a woman is found, and connections are made to the missing girl, Rachel knows that the net is closing around the guilty party and she must move fast before they slip away forever…

Bookouture has this knack of producing must-read police procedural series and they have done it yet again! In Detective Rachel Prince, we have another strong female lead who is a hard-working and tenacious detective with a complicated personal life. She is a very good detective and her doggedness is shown when she has to travel to Europe alone to investigate a lead. Her work partner, DS Brickall, is another great character and the relationship between the two made each scene they were in together a joy to read.

The plot of a missing child is one that appears in many books, but I liked the twists that came with this one. The main suspects are all incredibly shifty and it was fun trying to work out which of their actions were linked to the disappearance of the child. Although it wasn’t too difficult to work out who the major player was here, the way in which it was carried out was very clever and was not something I saw coming at all.

This is not what I would call an action-packed book as a lot of time is given up to the actual investigation and we are privy to police interviews, stakeouts and the like. In some books, this can become tiresome but The Lying Kind is so well-written that each scene was fascinating and helped to build up a picture of Rachel, Brickall and the suspects.

It looks as though Bookouture has got me hooked on another crime series and I can’t wait to see what book two has in store for Rachel!

With thanks to Net Galley and Bookouture for the ARC.

 

The Dark Angel by Elly Griffiths

Feeling troubled by the events in the previous book, Dr. Ruth Galloway is pleased when a face from her past, Dr. Angelo Morelli, contacts her, seeking her assistance on bones that have been discovered in a small Italian village. Accompanied by her friend Shona and their children, they head off to the continent, where they find a village still clinging on to memories of the Second World War and the Resistance. The past and present collide however, when the body of a local is found in the church. What secrets lurk that would make someone kill to protect?

I was very late in discovering the Ruth Galloway series by Elly Griffiths but since reading my first one two years ago, I have devoured the books and was eagerly anticipating this one. Taking Ruth out of her comfort zone is a big gamble but is one that’s has definitely paid off and it has enabled us to take a peek into her past whilst also exploring more of her relationship with best friend, Shona. Although Ruth is brought to Italy on the premise of assisting with recently discovered bones, the archaeology takes a bit of a back seat as she realises that there are more pressing matters that threaten their idyllic break. Somebody clearly doesn’t want Ruth there and she begins to fear, rightly so, that her life may be in danger.

I had feared that with the story being set in Italy, we would see less of the other characters we have come to know and love, but this was not to be the case. Running alongside the main plot, is a sub-plot about a released prisoner who bears a grudge against DCI Harry Nelson. Despite having this and huge upheaval in his personal life to contend with, Nelson finds his way out to Italy, accompanied by Cathbad, when news of a disaster reaches him. Throughout the books, we have seen Nelson struggle with his feelings for Ruth and this becomes even more heightened due to everything that is currently going on in his life. He is becoming more and more of a tortured soul and, depending upon the climax of a particular storyline, we could soon see him being tipped firmly over the edge!

The most shocking part of the book is reserved for the final chapters when a major event occurs that will have repercussions for several of the characters. Without going into too much detail, I was genuinely upset by what happened but, at the same time, can’t wait to see what the consequences will be.

If you have never read any of the Ruth Galloway series, please do as I don’t feel you will be disappointed. For anyone who is already a fan, The Dark Angel is a welcome addition to an already brilliant series.

With thanks to Quercus and Net Galley for my ARC.

 

Dark Game by Rachel Lynch

51iT3GkUzaL._SY346_After leaving the Met, DI Kelly Porter has returned to the area of her youth – the Lake District. In a part of the world where crime tends to be minor, the detective takes on a cold case – the abduction and murder of ten-year-old Lottie Davies. Cumbria is not as quiet as it seems, however, and she soon finds herself embroiled in several cases including the death of a local businessman and human trafficking. Maybe life in the Lakes is going to prove to be just as, if not more, dangerous as London.

When I picture the Lake District, I think of beautiful landscapes, Beatrix Potter, walkers taking on the numerous mountains and a general air of peace and quiet. After reading Dark Game however, my image may just have been shattered! Who would have thought that Cumbria was such a hot bed of crime?! After returning from London, Kelly must have thought that she would have had an easier time of it, but this was definitely not to be!

Dark Game deals with some very dark subjects and, from the start, when local businessman Colin Day dies under rather bizarre circumstances, the scene is set. We soon realize that the hotel where he is staying is a front for something else and that it forms part of a much bigger criminal organisation. What follows is, at times, quite graphic but when you are dealing with prostitution, gangland crime and human trafficking, it is essential to the plot. Whilst I was reading, there were several occasions when I found myself totally despairing in how vile some humans can be, not least when illegal immigrants were being forced into fighting each other to the death.

One of the strengths of this book is the characterization. I found Kelly a likeable protagonist and felt that enough of her back story was shared to pique my interest. Like many lead detectives, she is a flawed character but I was pleased that her back story did not take precedence over the crime as this means that more can be revealed in a later book. Rachel Lynch has also done a fantastic job with how the criminals are portrayed. They were a particularly heinous lot and definitely made my skin crawl.

I really enjoyed Dark Game and think this could be the start of a fantastic new series.

With thanks to Canelo and Net Galley for my ARC.

The Blood Card by Elly Griffiths

The year is 1953 and the coronation of the new queen is imminent. When the murder of Colonel Cartwright, the former wartime commander of DI Edgar Stephens and Max Mephisto, is discovered, they begin to wonder if this is another link to the shadowy Magic Men after a playbill containing the name of another deceased comrade is found amongst his possessions. With investigations into the death of fortune teller, Madame Zabini, and Max’s forthcoming TV appearance, Stephens has his work cut out when he fears an anarchist group is plotting to make the coronation go off with a bang…

The Blood Card is the third of the Stephens and Mephisto series and sees the pairing being forced to embrace the moving times. The invention and growth in popularity of the television has been worrying Max for a while, fearing that it will put an end to his career on the stage. He finally agrees to take part in a show and it is amusing to watch his distrust of the medium compared to the way Edgar’s mother has welcomed it into her home. Edgar, meanwhile, is experiencing something new himself by travelling to New York on an aeroplane. The huge chasm between England and America is revealed as the detective feels like a fish out of water in this strange, huge place.

The mystery is a complicated one as there are numerous characters who you know are going to be interlinked in some way or other. As in the style of a good magician, there is a lot of misdirection so that you are never quite sure which character is good and which is involved with one of the crimes. It was pleasing to read a book where I was still wondering who the criminals were towards the end.

I am still not taken with Edgar’s choice of fiancée, Ruby. Edgar seems to have a lot more invested in the relationship, whereas it feels as though Ruby sees him as a stopgap until fame and fortune comes beckoning. I think it would also suit Max if the  couple were to split up!

The Blood Card is another great read and I am looking forward to reading the next book in the series.

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