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The Zig Zag Girl by Elly Griffiths

When the body of a young woman is found, cut into three pieces, Detective Inspector Edgar Stephens is instantly reminded of a magic trick known as the Zig Zag Girl. He seeks out the inventor of the trick, Max Mephisto, a magician who is still performing his act up and down the country, and someone who Stephens knew from the war when they were members of a ‘secret’ unit known as The Magic Men. Initially, Max is reluctant to help with the investigation until it becomes apparent that he knew the victim. When another victim is found, it becomes apparent that The Magic Men are being targeted. Will any of them be able to escape with their lives?

I am a huge fan of the Ruth Galloway series by Elly Griffiths and so I felt that it was high time that I gave her other series a read. The Zig Zag Girl is the first of the Stephens and Mephisto series, set in 1950 in Brighton, a time when the memories of World War Two were still fresh in the minds of all those involved. It is no surprise, then, that wartime events play a prominent role in the plot.

The story is a macabre one, with victims being dispatched in a variety of ways – all linked to magic tricks that have been performed onstage. The magic provides a link to the role of Stephens and Mephisto during the war when they were tasked to develop ways of creating illusions as a way of tricking the enemy. We also meet several others who formed part of this unit and it was fun trying to figure out who, if any of them, was the killer and which of them would be killed.

One of the main strengths in The Zig Zag Girl is the characterization of the main protagonists. They are a proper mismatched pair with the staid Stephens being a massive contrast to the more flamboyant Mephisto. Despite this, they work really well as a double act and complement each other perfectly. I also loved reading scenes involving Stephens and his mother and found their relationship real yet humorous.

This is definitely a series I will be continuing with and I already have the next book lined up!

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**BLOG TOUR** Liar Liar by Sarah Flint

51xLXqtfgrLA man is found murdered, hideously disfigured, alongside his dying dog. A woman is discovered dead, tied up and gagged in her own bed. Both have a rose placed next to them but that is not the only similarity – both victims are police officers. DC Charlie Stafford and the rest of their team know that someone is out to kill more their own and they must be stopped before one of them becomes the next victim.

It is always nice to be asked to take part in a blog tour but even more so when the book is part of a series that you have grown to love. Liar Liar is the third book to feature Charlie Stafford and is part of a series that is going from strength to strength. I have mentioned in previous reviews (Mummy’s Favourite and The Trophy Taker) how much I enjoy the working relationship between the police officers in this series and this is still the same in Liar Liar. It is also pleasing to read a police procedural series where the focus is placed on the plot rather than the personal lives of the characters.

Sarah Flint

Liar Liar is very current with references to the recent terrorist attacks in London. This helped to place the story very much in the modern day and also helped to introduce how vulnerable police officers are in the world we live in. Despite them being on heightened terrorism alert, however, the team are not prepared for the heinous acts undertaken by the killer and their mentor, ‘Ice.’ It becomes apparent quite early in the book that there is some sort of leak, the perpetrator feeding information about the officers to the murderer. With several possible candidates, though, it is not made too obvious as to who this could be so it was fun trying to guess, along with trying to work out who the killer could be.

As in previous books in the series, Charlie is still trying to do the right thing by her friend, Ben, although, at the moment, she is struggling to help him cope with his issues. Ben is still a character I enjoy reading about and I am still willing him to come good! Although there are definitely hints of a romance on the cards, it is understandable why they are both wary and I’m glad that the author hasn’t rushed into this.

From the very beginning, when we are privy to a horrendous act of domestic violence, Liar Liar draws you in and takes you on a journey through the depraved mind of a killer and the lives of those tasked with bringing them to justice. This is a must-read series.

With thanks to Aria Fiction and Net Galley for the ARC and to Melanie Price for organising the blog tour.

Take a look at the rest of the blogs on the tour:

**BLOG TOUR** The Perfect Victim by Corrie Jackson

41cxnbhoYTLWhen a young woman is found drowned in a river, and her colleague, Charlie Swift, is suspected of murder, journalist Sophie Kent must reassess everything she thought she knew about her friend. Convinced of his innocence, even after he disappears, Sophie soon finds that all was not well in Charlie’s seemingly perfect marriage to his second wife, Emily. As the plot unravels, Sophie does not know who she can trust and soon her own life is in danger…

I liked Sophie, the main protagonist, and felt that her being a journalist rather than a traditional police investigator brought something different to the table. From the outset, we get to see her ‘journalist’s nose’ at work as she arrives on the scene of a drowning and immediately seeks out information to confirm foul play. When it becomes apparent that there is a connection between the dead woman and her friend and colleague, Charlie Swift, we see a different side of Sophie as she wrestles with her conscience – can she really believe that one of the people she trusts most could be involved in this most heinous of crimes?

Corrie Jackson

In parts, The Perfect Victim is very reminiscent of Gillian Flynn’s Gone Girl in that there is a lot of subterfuge and misdirection. Where Corrie Jackson differs, however, is that she had the ability to make me change my mind every few pages as to what was actually happening! Every time I felt I had the plot worked out, she hit me with a new revelation that made me rethink my theory once again! This is a book with an enormous amount of twists and turns but I never once felt as though I didn’t have a handle on the story, which is something that can happen in a plot such as this.

When I started to read The Perfect Victim, I was not aware that this was the second novel in a series where I had not read the first. This can sometimes be problematic if there is a plot running through the books but I am pleased to say that not reading the previous one did not hinder me in the slightest although I now regret not doing so! What a book! I even found myself going on a couple of lengthy bus journeys to give me some extra reading time!

The Perfect Victim is a very clever book and is one that I can easily see being transferred to the big screen. It is complex yet is so skilfully-written that it never once feels confusing. Definitely one of my favourite books of 2017 and one that I would highly recommend!

With thanks to Net Galley and Bonnier Zaffre for my ARC and also to Emily Burns for inviting me to be part of the blog tour.

Take a look at the rest of the blogs featuring on the blog tour:

 

The Text by Claire Douglas

Refused time off work for a girls’ weekend in Edinburgh, Emily Latimer is furious with her boss, Andrew. Angrily firing off a text to her boyfriend, she is horrified when she realises she has sent it to her whole office by mistake. To complicate matters even further, Andrew is murdered and Emily is the prime suspect when it is revealed that her text wished him dead. Adamant that the text contained a typo, can Emily prove her innocence?

I have read two of Claire Douglas’s previous books (Last Seen Alive and Local Girl Missing) and loved them so was pleased to see that she had written a short story. The idea behind the book is a good one and is something that many people can relate to – who hasn’t sent a text with a typo? Hopefully, though, it never resulted in a dead body being found!

This is a very short story – only 40 pages long – and as a result, it appears rushed, especially when the murderer is revealed. I was expecting a little more than a full confession from the killer. I liked Emily’s character and feel that, if this book was slightly longer, more could have been made of the relationship between her and her boyfriend as this ends up playing a fairly big role in the plot.

If you’re looking for something to sink your teeth into, then this is not the book for you, but if you’re after a quick, free, easy to read mystery, then this could be what you want! It can currently be downloaded from Amazon for free.

Broken Bones by Angela Marsons

When a young prostitute is found murdered, Detective Kim Stone and her team find themselves on the hunt for a serial killer who is preying on the more vulnerable residents of the Black Country. Meanwhile, an abandoned baby and the subsequent search for the mother leads the detectives into the murky world of illegal immigrants, trafficking and modern-day slavery. As secrets from Kim’s past come to light, will she be able to solve the case before the death toll rises?

Broken Bones is the seventh book in the Kim Stone series and, once again, Angela Marsons has managed to write an absolute page turner! From the very first few pages, I was hooked as we are introduced to a young woman, forced into prostitution by her own family. Her story, along with the story of the other women who were murdered, was incredibly tragic and whereas some people are of the opinion that their predicaments are as a result of their lifestyle, Kim believes that no person is above another and is determined to bring the culprit to justice. In true Kim style, she makes many enemies along the way and her conflict with the abhorrent pimp, Kai Lord, is a joy to read. You just know that in a case where there can be only one winner, Kim is going to enjoy the battle.

The other main plot in the book is a very emotive one, featuring the subject of human trafficking. With little evidence to go on, Kim’s tenacity has obviously rubbed off on the rest of their team as they try to find the identity of the mother of the abandoned baby, facing obstacles at every turn. This case becomes much bigger than they could ever imagine and exposes the dark underbelly of the Black Country where people are forced into a life they would never have chosen for themselves. After the traumatic events of the previous book, Dead Souls, it was good to see Stacey getting herself stuck into a case alongside her new protector, Dawson. I loved reading about the relationship between these two characters with Dawson showing a very different, pleasing side of his character!

One of the things I enjoyed most about this book was how easy it was to read despite it being a very impassioned plot. There were several humorous asides and it was amusing to picture the very practical Kim Stone in charge of a young baby when we are more used to seeing her handle motorbike parts! One caveat I will make is that there are references to events that occurred in previous books (Dead Souls and Evil Games) so it would definitely be worth reading these books before starting this one. Why wouldn’t you have already read them though?!

Every time I read the next installment in the Kim Stone series, I always wonder how Angela Marsons will top the previous book, but she has done it yet again. Surely it’s time we saw Kim on the small screen…

With thanks to Bookouture and Net Galley for my ARC.

 

 

The Malice of Angels by Wendy Percival

When Max Rainsford, a former journalist colleague of her late husband, Tim, arrives to quiz Esme about a story he was working on thirty-five years ago, the genealogist is reluctantly forced to revisit her troubled past. Meanwhile, Esme’s friend, Ruth, is desperate to know the story behind her aunt, Vivienne, a nurse during the Second World War who never returned home. As Esme starts her investigation, she soon realises that the two cases are linked and is forced to come face to face with the devastating truth about her husband’s death.

The Malice of Angels is the third full-length Esme Quentin mystery and is by far the most complex. At the start of the book, we see Esme preparing to relocate to Devon where she will be nearer some of her old friends. The appearance of Max Rainsford, however, makes her return to a particularly dark period in her life when her husband was killed whilst pursuing a story. Initially reluctant to help Max with his task, she is soon drawn in after looking at her late-husband’s notebooks from the time of his death. Ever since being introduced to Esme, it was inevitable that her past would, one day, be explored and Wendy Percival has done this with style. I really felt for Esme as she was forced to confront her past and finally discover the true circumstances behind Tim’s death.

The way the two stories intertwined was very clever and I particularly enjoyed reading about a part of World War Two that I didn’t really know too much about – the Special Operations Executive. The story of Vivienne, Ruth’s aunt, was a particularly harrowing one and was one that was filled with subterfuge and cover-ups. It was clear to see how much research the author had done in order to make this complicated plot into a story that was easy to follow. I also liked the short chapters, making you want to read ‘just one more’ before putting it down.

Lately, for fans of Esme, we have been spoilt with The Malice of Angels and, also, the short story Death of a Cuckoo. I hope it won’t be too long before we find out what Devon life holds in store for the genealogist.

The Malice of Angels is available now: The Malice of Angels 

 

Origin by Dan Brown

Former student, Edmond Kirsch, has invited professor of symbology, Robert Langdon, to the Guggenheim Museum in Bilbao to witness his unveiling of something that will challenge existing views on the origin of our species. What already promises to be an explosive event turns catastrophic and Langdon is forced to flee the museum accompanied by its director, Ambra Vidal. Embarking on a quest across Barcelona to try to locate a password that will launch Kirsch’s theory into the world, Langdon’s life is, once again, in danger. Will he be able to share Kirsch’s discovery before the forces acting against him catch up with him?

I know that there are a lot of readers who sneer at the thought of a Dan Brown book but, as far as I’m concerned, any book that encourages people to read is a good one. The fact that his books have sold over 200 million copies and have been translated into 56 languages must mean that there are a lot of fans out there! Origin is the fifth book to feature symbologist Robert Langdon and the action sees him returning to Europe, this time to Spain, to partake in another battle between science and religion.

From the outset, we know that Edmond Kirsch has discovered something that threatens the doctrine of all world religions but we do not find out until near the very end of the book what the discovery is. This was a very clever move as, throughout my reading, I was desperately looking for clues as to what it was, and it was not until a few paragraphs before the big reveal that I worked out part of it. I enjoyed this ‘not knowing’ as it built up an air of anticipation and when it was finally revealed, it made me think about how this could actually happen.

For me, the thing I enjoy most about Dan Brown’s books is the setting. Through this series, I have been introduced to many historical places, museums and galleries that I did not know about and I find that, as I am reading, I am often looking them up online to find out more information. In Origin, Brown paints a picture of the Guggenheim Museum so detailed that I could imagine I was there. Other locations visited include Casa Milà and the impressive Sagrada Família.

As with Dan Brown’s other books, it will not be seen as a classic but it is an entertaining, fast-paced read which allows you to have a few hours of escapism whilst reading it. I, for one, will be awaiting the next Robert Langdon book eagerly!

 

The Forgotten Room by Ann Troup

51C90-oXxsL._SY346_Nurse Maura Lyle has been having a hard time of it lately so when she is personally requested to work at Essen Grange to care for its owner, Gordon Henderson, she sees it as a good opportunity to get her life back on track. On arriving at the house, however, she soon senses that all is not right and that there seem to be secrets lurking around every corner. She should have trusted her instincts…

I loved Ann Troup’s previous books so had been looking forward to reading this one and I am pleased to say that it did not disappoint. From the first chapter, the author draws you in and you fear for Maura’s safety in the old, mysterious house she has found herself in. Although Maura knew something was amiss, due to her circumstances, it is easy to understand why she stayed even though her head was telling her to get out of there!

If you are looking for a book with multiple deaths and a psychopathic killer then this is the book for you, although it must be said that not all of the deaths are at the hand of the said killer. The amount of characters and how they interconnected did, at times, get slightly confusing and I wished I’d drawn up a family tree to help me understand exactly who was who! Once I’d established the relationships, however, what followed was a tangled web of deceit and intrigue with more than a touch of the macabre.

Although the story starts from the perspective of Maura, there’s is a shift part way through when we get to see more of the police investigation into the goings-on at Essen Grange. I felt that this enabled the story to move along nicely and allowed us an insight into the minds of some of the other characters.

Ann Troup has, once again, written a page-turner, full of twists and turns, that I could not put down. A great read!

Thank you to NetGalley and HQ Digital for my ARC.

The Lost Child by Patricia Gibney

51Ce958tbdL._SY346_When an elderly woman is found murdered and her daughter cannot be found anywhere, Detective Lottie Parker begins to fear for the safety of the whole family. Then a nearby house is set on fire, exposing secrets that threaten the make this the biggest murder case Ragmullin has ever seen. For Lottie however, it proves to be much more personal, as there appears to be a connection to a case that her father was working on shortly before he took his own life. Could Lottie be finally about to discover the truth about her father’s death?

The Lost Child is the third in Patricia Gibney’s Lottie Parker series and, like the others, is a tale of murder and deeply buried secrets. Here, we find Lottie, once again, struggling with her past, relying upon the use of prescription drugs and alcohol just to get her through the day. Determined to find out the truth about her father’s suicide, the strain on the relationship she has with her mother is becoming even more pronounced and the addition of a new baby to the household is doing nothing to help her stress levels.

What starts out as, potentially, a home invasion gone wrong, soon turns into a large-scale murder and missing person investigation when Tessa Ball is found killed in the home of her daughter who has subsequently gone missing. The name of the deceased soon strikes a chord with Lottie and leads her off into a dangerous investigation with links to her father and a cover-up of the highest level. As the death count rises, Lottie and her team have to try to piece together all the clues and link all the main players – of which there are many! With so many key characters, it could have been confusing to keep up with who they all were but Patricia Gibney’s style of writing makes the plot easy to follow.

Ever since discovering the cause of death of Lottie’s father, it was inevitable to the reader that she would not give up her search for the truth. There was always going to be more to the story but I was not prepared for what was about to come! The circumstances surrounding his life and death have made a particular relationship in the series more understandable and certainly makes any future books interesting! A very clever twist!

The Lost Child is a great addition to the Lottie Parker series and I look forward to the next one!

With thanks to Bookouture and NetGalley for my ARC.

 

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