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**BLOG TOUR** The Room in the Attic by Louise Douglas

In 1903, a woman is found by some fisherman, badly beaten, accompanied by her young daughter. They are taken to All Hallows, an asylum on Dartmoor where the woman falls into a coma, but her young daughter, Harriet, is taken to an attic room in the care of Nurse Emma Everdeen.

Ninety years later, in 1993, after the death of his mother, young Lewis Tyler is sent to All Hallows, which is now a boarding school. Finding a kindred spirit in Isak, they find out about Nurse Everdeen and her charge and soon they are determined to find out what happened back in 1903.

The introduction to the book grabbed me instantly as we see Lewis Tyler, in the present day, visiting All Hallows as part of his work. It is clear to see that he has a past with this building and we are left with a hint as to what it may be. This took us nicely to the two timeframes that form the majority of the book, Lewis featuring in the events of 1993.

I liked the character of Lewis immediately and had great sympathy towards his plight. An outsider, it was good to see him find a friend in Isak, another boy with a troubled life. I enjoyed the scenes they shared as they tried to discover the mystery behind the strange noises coming from the room above theirs – was it their imagination or something a bit more ghostly?

The part of the story set in 1903 had a huge sense of foreboding. Nurse Everdeen was a character who grew on me as the book progressed, her story tugging at the heartstrings on more than one occasion. Louise Douglas paints a very damning picture of life at the asylum and I almost felt relieved that Nurse Everdeen was in her claustrophobic room in the attic.

There were numerous shocks along the way, the denouement being a very pleasant surprise. I like it when a book suddenly takes you somewhere you were not expecting and The Room in the Attic definitely does this! This is an engrossing multi-genre read that kept me gripped right until the end.

With thanks to Boldwood Books and Rachel’s Random Resources.


When the Guilty Cry by M J Lee

Coroner’s Officer, DI Thomas Ridpath, finds himself involved in a race against time when three hands are discovered in a backpack at a former children’s home. With his superiors convinced that this is an unsolveable case, Ridpath must battle against those determined to see him fail while also working on a Presumption of Death case for the coroner. With the clock ticking before he is removed from the case, can he uncover the truth of what really happened at Daisy Nook Children’s Home?

This is the seventh in the Ridpath series and, arguably, one of the best. There is a very authentic feeling to these books, Ridpath being a likeable character who is finding it difficult to juggle his work and home life. Workplace politics definitely play a huge part, with Ridpath seen as an ‘old school’ kind of police officer, someone who is looked down upon by many of his superiors who are desperate to see him fail.

The plot is, at times, quite an emotive one, as you would expect from anything involving a children’s home. M J Lee injects a touch of realism by referencing Jimmy Savile and the fictional Operation Pharaoh, reminding us of the horrific crimes perpetrated by those who abused their positions.

Throughout my reading of When the Guilty Cry, I found myself clearly visualising each scene. This series (this book in particular) would make a great TV drama and I hope that, at some point, a production company picks it up.

This is a series going from strength to strength and long may it continue!

With thanks to Net Galley and Canelo Crime for my copy.

The Man Who Died Twice by Richard Osman

The Thursday Murder Club are back and Elizabeth has received a letter from an old colleague that immediately piques her interest. Forced to revisit an earlier part of her life, she finds herself involved in a dangerous case involving diamond thieves, mobsters and murder. With her friends, and fellow club members, Joyce, Ibrahim and Ron ready to assist, will they be able to crack the case before too many people die?

The Thursday Murder Club was one of last year’s hit novels, ideal for anyone who likes their crime a little less gruesome! The follow up, The Man Who Died Twice, is more of the same, albeit with a slightly harder edge at times. This is one of those books where you have to suspend reality for a while and just enjoy it for what it is – a humorous crime story with great characters and an engaging plot that gives the older generation top billing.

The humour mainly comes from Joyce, a charming character who is attempting to move with the times by setting up her own Instagram account. I was pleased to see that a real account has been set up and I hope that the author develops this further, giving us an insight into the lives of the Thursday Murder Club.

There is one incredibly moving part of the plot involving Ibrahim which I thought was sensitively written and true-to-life. This really brought home the problems faced by the elderly and, although it was dealt with in true Thursday Murder Club fashion, I had so much sympathy for Ibrahim and I hope he returns to his old self in the next book.

I really enjoyed The Man Who Died Twice, even more than the previous book in the series. If you are looking for an easy crime read and can suspend reality for a while, then I can highly recommend it.

With thanks to Net Galley and Penguin for my copy.

**BLOG TOUR** Little Bones by Patricia Gibney

Detective Lottie Parker finds herself investigating a particularly harrowing case when Isabel Gallagher is found brutally murdered on the floor of her baby’s nursery, her hand clutching a razor blade. When another young mother goes missing, Lottie fears that the cases are connected and that more lives may be put in danger. With little evidence to go on, the Ragmullin detectives have a race against time to find out just what links the women and find the person responsible.

Patricia Gibney’s Lottie Parker series is one that I have enjoyed since the first book and Little Bones, the tenth instalment, is no exception. It is always nice to reacquaint myself with Lottie and the rest of her team and the author has excelled herself with this exciting and fast-paced plot.

As always, the plot grabs you straight away, with a mysterious incident that occurred some time in the past. I love a prologue that makes you think and this definitely worked for me as I spent the rest of the book trying to work out how this event linked to what was happening in the present day. This was followed by a particularly horrible murder that really pulled on the heart strings, setting the scene for what is a very gripping story, at times tense and emotional.

Lottie is a great character who also feels real to me. Her family take more of a back seat in this book than in some of the others, although it is always nice to spend some time with Lottie’s mum, Rose, a character who always has some of the best lines! Lottie is clearly still feeling the impact of previous events and, judging by a revelation in Little Bones, there is still more to come in the future.

If you’ve never read any of these books then this could be read as a standalone although I would advise starting from the beginning as it is such a good series.

With thanks to Bookouture and Net Galley for my ARC and to Sarah Hardy for organising the blog tour.

**Blog Tour** The Man on Hackpen Hill by J S Monroe

Crop circles often appear in Wiltshire but this one on Hackpen Hill is a bit different: the patterns seem to be trying to convey a message and the dead body in the middle is certainly not a common feature. DI Silas Hart is at a loss until he happens upon Jim, a Porton Down scientist who is convinced he is being pursued by MI5 for wanting to tell the truth about what is happening at the government laboratory. With Bella, a trainee journalist intent on telling Jim’s story, someone is desperate to stop the truth being told and is prepared to kill to achieve their aim.

This is an intense read that grabs you right from the very beginning and keeps you hooked until the last page. There is a lot going on with elements of mystery, thriller and police procedural but the short pacy chapters keep you gripped, making you want to read ‘just one more’ before putting it down. It is really well-researched and I do not claim to understand all of the science, but this did not hamper my understanding or enjoyment of the plot in any way.

There are two sets of main characters, each with a distinctive role in the plot. In Jim and Bella, we have like-minded people who have been thrown together by an unknown person, each of them reliant upon the other. I genuinely feared for Jim’s safety throughout the book as it becomes apparent that he seems to have information on what message the crop circles are trying to convey. Likewise, as Bella became more and more embroiled in Jim’s world, her well-being became more of a concern, especially as other aspects of her life start to become more worrying. I admired the courage of Jim and Bella; Jim in particular was a favourite character.

I loved the relationship between the two main police characters and enjoyed how the focus was very much on their part in the investigation and not on their private lives. I feel that there is scope for DI Hart and DC Strover to appear in another book so I hope it’s not the last we see of them.

I thoroughly enjoyed the intelligent plot of The Man on Hackpen Hill and found myself drawn into the plot, desperate to see if my theories were correct! A great read.

With thanks to Lauren Tavella from Head of Zeus for my copy.


The Chain by Adrian McKinty

It’s a mother’s worst nightmare. Your child leaves for school in the morning but doesn’t arrive. A phone call from an unknown caller informs you what has happened: Your daughter has been abducted and if you want her back, you must pay the ransom and then take another child to replace them. You have just entered The Chain and the consequences for not following the rules are deadly. You have no choice but to do as they say.

After hearing the rave reviews of this book, I have had it on my TBR pile since last year so decided it was time to finally see what all the fuss was about! It definitely grabs you from the off with mother, Rachel, seeing her world fall apart after hearing some devastating news followed by the terrifying scenario she finds herself in due to the abduction of her daughter, Kylie.

This is a book about desperation and how far a mother would go to protect the one thing she loves the most. It definitely makes you think as, initially, I felt a lot of anger towards the people who had abducted Kylie but as you begin to understand the premise of the book and realise that they, too, are in the same position, my feelings towards them softened.

The book moves at a fast pace and it is easy to imagine this becoming a successful film. I did enjoy the first half more than the second as some of the twists were quite easy to spot. All in all, if you are looking for a good holiday read, then The Chain fits the bill perfectly.

Brass Lives by Chris Nickson

The year is 1913 and Deputy Chief Constable Tom Harper has an interesting case on his hands. After receiving information that an American gangster has arrived in Leeds, he soon finds himself acquainted with the man himself. Death seems to follow Davey Mullen around but is he responsible for the catalogue of crime that seems to have his name written all over it? With the campaign for women to gain the right to vote gathering pace, Harper is also overseeing a national suffragist pilgrimage that is due to arrive in Leeds, his wife, Annabelle, intending to take part. With worrying incidents affecting his family, this promises to be a difficult time for Tom as he begins to realise that things may never be the same again.

I love how we are moving through time in the Tom Harper series, having started back in the first book in 1890. In this time, we have seen Tom climb up the career ladder where he has now reached the position of Deputy Chief Constable. Not content with sitting behind a desk, Tom is pleased to be given the opportunity to join his detectives in trying to put an end to the crime spree that seems to have been precipitated by the arrival of Davey Mullen.

At a time before modern forensics, it is enjoyable to see the methods employed by the police in order to get the information they need, the emphasis being on getting out there and talking to people. There was one line, in particular, that really brought home for me the time setting, when someone is asked how they knew someone’s accent was American. Nowadays, this would seem like a silly question, but in an era before the advent of the talking film, people would not know what the American accent sounded like!

The plot is a complex one, with several threads that Chris Nickson manages to weave together perfectly. Murder, arson and gun theft are just some of the crimes that we see Harper investigating in what is a very enjoyable book and one of the best in the series. I am looking forward to seeing what happens next in Tom Harper’s life as Brass Lives has introduced a plot that I am sure will be revisited in the next book.

With thanks to Severn House and Net Galley for my ARC.

The Devil’s Advocate by Steve Cavanagh

When a young woman, Skylar Edwards, is murdered, a suspect is soon arrested, his fate sure to be the death penalty. No one seems concerned that Andy Dubois is innocent and with local feeling the way it is, there is no chance of him receiving a fair trial. Prosecutor Randal Korn is determined to put Andy on death row, and judging by his reputation as the district attorney to send the most people to their death, this is a foregone conclusion. When Andy’s defence attorney disappears, New York lawyer Eddie Flynn is drafted in to try to achieve the seemingly impossible – beat Randal Korn and save Andy Dubois.

The Eddie Flynn books have become a firm favourite of mine and I couldn’t wait to read The Devil’s Advocate. Here, we see Eddie out of his comfort zone, heading to Alabama to defend a young black man, charged with the murder of a popular white woman. Race definitely plays a part in this book, his skin colour condemning him to death in the eyes of many people regardless of the evidence. Andy and his mum were very likeable characters, and, although they don’t feature much in the book, their bond was clear to see and I willed Eddie to break the case and see justice served.

We see Eddie at his best in The Devil’s Advocate, using every trick in the book (and tricks most definitely not in the book!) to counteract the devious mind of Randal Korn. This is where the author’s legal background really comes to the fore, Eddie’s investigations and courtroom scenes being a joy to read.

In Randal Korn, we have a despicable antagonist of the highest order. He is one of those characters who get under your skin right from the start, without a single redeeming feature. His control over society was terrifying and we see this right from the start with the hostility Eddie and his team face when arriving in Alabama. In The Devil’s Advocate, Steve Cavanagh has given us a plethora of abhorrent characters, each of them with their own terrifying reasons for framing Andy.

In the previous book in this series, Fifty Fifty, there was a particularly shocking moment where we saw the death of someone unexpected. There was a horrible sense of deja vu in this book that had me completely on the edge of my seat and I couldn’t believe that Steve was doing this to us again! You will have to read the book to see what I am referring to and see the outcome. Be prepared!

Eddie Flynn has become a force to be reckoned with and I am already eagerly awaiting the next in the series.

With thanks to Orion and Net Galley for my copy.

The Body on the Moor by Nick Louth

Junior barrister Julia McGann finds herself representing Terrence Bonner, a drug gang enforcer. What could potentially be a case to put her firmly on the map soon turns into a nightmare when her house is broken into and a young homeless girl turns up on her doorstep with an interesting tale to tell. Some time later, DCI Craig Gillard is investigating the brutal murder of a local headteacher. With little to act upon, there is one curious piece of evidence – a pair of gloves that appear to have been used in both the murder and the break in at Julia’s house.

The Body on the Moor is the eighth book in the Craig Gillard series and what a cracker it is! This is a bit different from the others in that Craig takes more of a back seat than he has in the previous books, much of this one focusing on barrister, Julia. I really liked this move as it was something I was not expecting and definitely kept me on my toes throughout!

It is not a spoiler to say that, due to the gloves connection, we know that the two storylines must converge at some point and I found myself trying to work out how. I hoped that this would not be some coincidental event like can often happen in crime fiction but I knew that this would not be the case with Nick Louth’s writing. What we find is a well-constructed plot which drip feeds you information so that you slowly see the big picture. There were several ‘Aha!’ moments where I began to realise where the plot was going.

Just when I thought I couldn’t like this book any more, we are hit with an ending that truly made me gasp. This twist was not something I expected and was a very fitting way to end the book. Again, Nick Louth has whetted my appetite for the next book in the series!

With thanks to Canelo Crime and Net Galley for my copy.

Take a look at my reviews of the rest of the Craig Gillard series:

The Body in the Marsh

The Body on the Shore

The Body in the Mist

The Body in the Snow

The Body Under the Bridge

The Body on the Island

The Bodies at Westgrave Hall


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