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***BLOG TOUR*** The Good Mother by Karen Osman

I am thrilled to be today’s stop on the blog tour for the fantastic new book from Karen Osman, The Good Mother.

Keeping secrets from her husband is not usually something Catherine would do but when she begins writing to Michael, a convicted killer, she knows her family would not approve. In another part of the country, Kate is trying to bring up two children with an out of work husband and a severe lack of money. When she meets someone who begins to recognize her talents, she knows she is playing with fire. Lastly we have Alison, a university student who has managed to gain a place on her dream course. University life is not what she hoped for, however, and she finds herself lonely and unhappy. That is until one of her professors takes an interest in her. All of these women have secrets which threaten to come to the surface once Michael is released from prison…

First of all, I would like to say how much I loved this book! Told from the perspective of three women, it took a few chapters before I fully engaged with the characters but once I’d got a handle on who was who, I couldn’t wait to find out how each of their stories progressed. Often in books written in this style, I find myself wanting to read about one of the characters more than the others, but The Good Mother had me hooked on all three story lines.

One of the underlying themes running throughout the book is the impact keeping a secret has, whether it be Catherine’s reluctance to tell her husband about her prison pen-pal, Kate’s growing friendship with her tutor or, more seriously, the toxic relationship Alison has with her professor. Although I could see why Catherine and Kate kept their secrets, I was willing Alison to speak out about what was happening to her and had a sense of foreboding throughout the chapters dedicated to her story. It was Alison who had the most impact on me whilst I was reading and I was desperate for her to have a happy ending.

Karen Osman

Throughout the book, it is obvious that the women’s lives were going to collide at some point and, although I was right about some of the connections, there was one part of the story that I did not see coming at all. It is great when you read a book and you get that ‘Eureka’ moment when all of the pieces slot into place. The Good Mother certainly had one of these moments and provided the story with a satisfying, if heartbreaking, conclusion.

It is hard to say too much without giving away the plot, so my advice is to grab a copy of this well-written, emotive book and read it yourself!

With thanks to Melanie Price at Aria – Head of Zeus for my ARC.

Take a look at the rest of the blog tour:

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My Sister’s Bones by Nuala Ellwood

After the death of her mother, Kate Rafter is forced to return to the family home in Herne Bay from Syria where she has been working as a war reporter. Having not returned for many years, Kate is troubled by past memories and is also traumatized by the events she has witnessed in Aleppo. With a sister who drinks to excess and who seemingly has a self-destruct button, Kate’s only ally is her brother-in-law, Paul, who has been struggling to keep his life together. When Kate begins to hear screams and sees a young boy in the garden, are they hallucinations from the medication she is taking or is there something much more sinister going on?

From the outset, we know that Kate has committed a crime as she is undergoing a psychological assessment at a police station. What we don’t know, however, is what she has been accused of doing. Through these interviews, we get to see two sides of Kate – the tough, determined woman who risks life and limb on a daily basis to report from the horrors of Aleppo and also the emotional, caring person who is distraught by the memories of a young boy she befriended in Syria who, we assume, has since died. It soon becomes apparent that she has hurt someone since being back in Herne Bay, but who? I loved the way the author shifts between the psych interviews and the events taking place at Kate’s mother’s house as this left me desperately wanting to know what happened to link the two.

Kate is a very difficult character to understand – are the strange occurrences really happening or are they figments of her imagination? With all she has witnessed in her past, there is no doubt that it would be understandable if she was hallucinating but then there are more tangible events like an open door or a marble placed in the garden.

I was surprised when, halfway through the book, the focus shifted to Kate’s sister, Sally, the alcoholic who has lost all interest in life. This is a very clever move as it enables us to see some of the same events from a different point of view. I grew to like Sally much more and started to question some of the things that we had been previously been told. She cut a very tragic figure who, although she had not been treated badly by her father like her sister had, was going through her own personal torture having not seen her daughter for many years.

My Sister’s Bones is quite a slow burner but towards the end, I could not put it down as we discover what everything has been leading towards. It was at this point that the book became truly shocking and we realise that we don’t always know what goes on behind closed doors. I had enjoyed the book up to this point, but the closing chapters really upped the stakes for me and made this one of my favourite books of the year so far.

With thanks to Penguin UK and Net Galley for my ARC.

Cold Blood by Robert Bryndza

51zX2mZDnyL._SY346_Erika Foster has seen many dead bodies but the one that has just been found, dismembered, in a suitcase is particularly gruesome. When a link is made to a similar discovery a few weeks before, the detective realises that she has another serial killer on her patch. With limited clues as to the identity of the culprit, Erika’s task is made even more difficult when she is, herself, the victim of a brutal attack. When the loved ones of someone close to the case are threatened, will the reign of terror end or will another family be mourning a loss?

It is hard to imagine a time when Erika Foster did not exist but it has been less than two years since we were first introduced to her in The Girl in the Ice. During this time, we have grown to love the damaged detective who, since the untimely death of her husband, has made work her focus, often to the detriment of her personal life. In this, the fifth instalment, Erika is struggling to define the relationship she has started with a fellow officer whilst putting all of her energy into finding the killer of the man in the suitcase.

Cold Blood shows, once again, how Robert Bryndza has quickly become one of the writers of police procedural novels with a tight storyline and characters that genuinely come to life. The antagonists in this book are particularly well-written and are probably the most heinous to date. Some of the crimes that are committed are truly horrific but by telling the story, in part, from the point of view of one of the killers, we also develop empathy for what they, themselves, are enduring. Whereas Max was more experienced with definite psychopathic tendencies, Nina was younger and more easily manipulated. I spent most of the book willing her to escape his evil clutches but you will have to read the book yourself to see if she succeeds!

Cold Blood is an unpredictable page turner that you definitely don’t want to put down once you have started. The Erika Foster books are fast becoming one of my favourite series and I hope it won’t be too long until the sixth book!

With thanks to Bookouture and Net Galley for my ARC.

 

 

***BLOG TOUR*** Find Me by J S Monroe

I am pleased to be today’s stop on the Find Me blog tour.

Five years ago, Jar’s life changed forever when his girlfriend, Rosa, jumped to her death from a pier. Although Rosa had recently lost her father, her suicide was not exactly expected and Jar is finding it difficult to accept that she would take this action. Haunted by her memory, he sees her everywhere he goes, knowing full well that they are hallucinations. That is until he actually sees her – for real – in a train station. Then he receives an email: Find me, Jar. Find me, before they do…

Well, I can say with some certainty that this book was not what I expected! Recently, I read a book where the title character was wrongly presumed dead and I, naively, assumed this would be in a similar vein. It did start off in the way I expected with Jar refusing to give up hope despite a verdict of suicide being recorded. Of course, with no body being found, there was always a chance that Rosa would turn up somewhere and I don’t think it is too much of a spoiler when I say she does. What was particularly clever here, however, was this was not simply a plot where you spend the whole book awaiting the reunion as this happened fairly early on. This book is more about discovering the circumstances behind her disappearance and Jar’s determination to uncover the complete truth.

J. S. Monroe

Due to the shifts in time, Find Me is definitely a book where you have to concentrate otherwise it could become a tad confusing. It is also told from the perspective of several characters, mainly Jar, although we get to read Rosa’s diary and also a journal of an unnamed character who I shall refrain from naming so as not to give too much away! By using this style of writing, the author has ensured that all aspects of the story are covered and there are no unanswered questions.

It is not often that I am completely shocked by a book but I was totally taken aback when I found out exactly what had happened to Rosa. If you are a person of a nervous disposition, then this is where the book may become a bit uncomfortable as the descriptions of torture and those of animal cruelty are extremely graphic. This does make Find Me stand out from other books, however, and made it a gripping, unpredictable read. J S Monroe has managed to write a very clever, claustrophobic book where you genuinely don’t know who, apart from Jar, you can trust.

With thanks to Clare Gordon at Head of Zeus for my copy of Find Me.

Take a look at the rest of the tour:

 

About the Author

Jon Stock, now writing as J.S. Monroe, read English at Cambridge University, worked as a freelance journalist in London and was a regular contributor to BBC Radio 4. He was also a foreign correspondent in Delhi for the Daily Telegraph and was on its staff in London as Weekend editor. He left Telegraph in 2010 to finish writing his acclaimed Daniel Marchant spy trilogy and returned in 2013 to oversee the paper’s digital books channel. He became a full time author in 2015, writing as J.S. Monroe.
His first novel, ‘The Riot Act’ was shortlisted by the Crime Writers’ Association for its best first novel award. The film rights for ‘Dead Spy Running’, his third novel, were bought by Warner Bros, who hired Oscar-winner Stephen Gaghan (Traffic, Syriana) to write the screenplay. It is currently in development. He is the author of five novels and lives in Wiltshire, England, with his wife, a photographer, and their three children.

Nothing Stays Buried by P. J. Tracy

Minneapolis has another serial killer for Gino and Magozzi to apprehend and this one shows no sign of ending his reign of terror. Leaving a playing card at the scene of every brutal murder, the detectives wonder whether his aim is to complete the deck. Meanwhile the Monkeewrench team have travelled to the countryside to help a father search for his daughter who has vanished without trace from the side of the road. When the two cases become entwined,  it is a race against time to stop the killer before even more lives are ruined.

Nothing Stays Buried is the eighth book in the Monkeewrench series and is a very welcome addition. For the uninitiated, this series of books is based around a team of computer experts who have, in the course of their work, developed a program that has become vital to the police in aiding their investigations. This program, and the expertise of the team, is the reason they are on the trail of Marla, the missing woman. As in other books, detectives Magozzi and Gino are working closely alongside the Monkeewrench team and it is inevitable that their cases will eventually collide.

One of the things I like most about this series is that each book is so different and this one  is certainly no exception. What looks like being a straightforward serial killer story was actually a multifaceted tale of murder, cartels and undercover investigations and I enjoyed how each of the plots linked together to provide a satisfying and suitable ending.

As in all of the books, the characterisation is brilliant and I loved the interaction between the Monkeewrench team. I also really liked the addition of Walt, the father of the missing woman and willed him to have some good news by the end of the book. Throughout the series, it has been particularly satisfying to see the development of Grace’s character and I can’t wait to see what any future installments bring.

I was saddened to read that this book was one of the last ones to be written by the mother and daughter team of P. J. Tracy due to the untimely death of P. J. Lambrecht and I hope that Traci can continue the series.

With thanks to Penguin UK – Michael Joseph and Net Galley for the ARC.

Nemesis by Jo Nesbo

When a bank raid leaves a cashier dead, Harry Hole is tasked with finding the killer after video expert Beate Lønn realises that the victim seemed to know him. Meanwhile, Harry has been invited to dinner at the home of a former girlfriend, Anna Bethsen, only to wake up the next morning with no recollection of what happened the previous evening. The major problem here is that Anna has been found dead in an apparent suicide although, with the gun in her right hand (Anna was left-handed), Harry feels that this is a staged murder. Soon, Harry finds that there is someone who knows exactly what happened that night and is attempting to pin the murder on him…

Nemesis is the fourth of the Harry Hole series and continues on from the previous novel, The Redbreast. There is one major plot line which will be spoiled if you read this book before The Redbreast, so my advice would be to read that one first. We find that the character of Harry hasn’t changed –  he is still drinking heavily although events in the previous book have certainly given him just cause. His drink problem is exploited in a big way in Nemesis when he can’t remember what happened with Anna. Although the bank raid was probably the biggest part of the book, the apparent suicide was probably my favourite plot line and the ending was ingenious.

My only concern with these books is that I sometimes struggle to remember who each character is as the plots are so multifaceted and, especially with the bank raid, I had to constantly remind myself who was who. I am hoping that, as the series progresses, I will become more accustomed to everyone and the role they play. There is one character, in particular, that once again showed his true colours and I eagerly await him getting his comeuppance!

 

Did You See Melody? by Sophie Hannah

51sclfe1B-LWhen she finds out that her husband and children aren’t quite as excited about her pregnancy as she is, Cara Burrows packs her bags and flies to America to create some space between herself and her family. Breaking into the family savings to spend some time at a five-star resort, Cara is shocked when, arriving at her room, she finds it already occupied by a man and a teenage girl. Initially accepting it as an oversight, she soon becomes troubled when she recognises the girl as Melody Chapa whose parents are currently serving life sentences for her murder. Can the most famous murder victim in the USA actually still be alive and will Cara be able to find out the truth before her own fate is sealed?

I had seen some glowing reviews of this book and so couldn’t wait to to read it myself after being intrigued by the very novel premise – a murder victim who isn’t actually dead. Initially, Cara seemed a very impulsive character, not really caring about the consequences of her actions but we soon discover that this is all a front and that she is experiencing great inner turmoil and has placed herself in a very vulnerable situation. In contrast, Tarin Fry, a woman befriended by Cara at the resort is her complete antithesis – headstrong, impetuous and wise-cracking. I enjoyed the relationship between Tarin and her daughter and found their nicknames for the other resort patrons very funny.

Although I did find the interludes detailing the transcripts of various television programmes slightly lengthy in parts, it did demonstrate how, in recent years, the media has played a big part in the justice system and, in some cases, TV can help to sway the opinions of people before a trial has even taken place. One example is the OJ Simpson case – it is hard to think about this without visualising the high speed chase, broadcast on US television. In Did You see Melody? we see Melody’s parents being more or less convicted as a result of ongoing television coverage of the case.

It is essential to suspend reality when reading this book as quite a lot of it veers towards unbelievable. This did not spoil my enjoyment of the book, though, and it was an entertaining summer read.

With thanks to Hodder & Stoughton and Net Galley for the ARC.

**BLOG TOUR** Dead Girls Can’t Lie by Carys Jones

51VnMg05LvL._SY346_I’m pleased to be the latest stop on the blog tour for the new book by Carys Jones – Dead Girls Can’t Lie.

North Stone is devastated when her best friend, Kelly Orton, is found hanging from a tree in an area which is a well-known route for joggers. Police are quick to close the case, declaring it a suicide but North is adamant that they have drawn the wrong conclusion – Kelly has been murdered. With the police refusing to take North seriously, she has no option but to investigate the death herself. Putting herself in the line of danger, she soon begins to question how much she actually knew her friend.

Dead Girls Can’t Lie explores the relationship between two life-long friends, their story being told in a series of flashbacks detailing their schooldays through to adulthood. I felt a lot of sympathy for North who, despite experiencing so much sadness and loss in her early life, had gone on to work in a profession she truly loved. Losing her best friend had, once again, stirred up memories of the tragic loss of her parents and we see her slowly unravelling, doubting her own sanity as she tried to convince everyone that Kelly would not have taken her own life. Kelly, on the other hand, I found it difficult to like, as she was incredibly domineering, using North’s grief for her own ends. Despite this, I could see how North was totally dependent on her friend and her quest for justice made perfect sense.

As North undertakes her investigation and finds herself in a different world than the one she is used to, there are several points where the events are slightly convenient but, like in most books, you have to suspend reality in order for the plot to move on. It was interesting to see how the normally reserved North started to undertake some of Kelly’s character traits in order to help her achieve her aim.

Although there aren’t too many characters in the book, the author has still managed to cast doubt on who the guilty party could be. I had an idea throughout the book as to who it would be and, at one point, thought I’d got it right. Thankfully, though, the plot wasn’t that obvious and I was pleased that I was wrong!

Dead Girls Can’t Lie is another great book from Carys Jones and one that is definitely worth a read!

With thanks to Head of Zeus and Net Galley for the ARC and to Yasemin Turan for organising the blog tour.

Take a look at the rest of the blog tour:

Dead Silent by Mark Roberts

51h+jCAxF8LProfessor of medieval art, Leonard Lawson, has been mutilated and murdered, the attack witnessed by his traumatized daughter, Louise. To add to the horror, DCI Eve Clay must try to discover the significance of his body being arranged into a parody of the art work he has spent his life studying. Despite the professor having no known enemies, Clay knows that this attack was personal and is desperate to find the culprit before they find another victim to exact revenge upon.

I was first introduced to the books of Mark Roberts earlier this year after looking for reads set in my home city and thoroughly enjoyed the first book in the Eve Clay series, Blood Mist. Having fully intended to read the series in order, I was given the opportunity to participate in the blog tour for the superb Day of the Dead, meaning that I have actually read the books out of sequence, Dead Silent being the second of the three. This was not a problem, however, as it not completely essential to have read them in order.

If you have read any of the Eve Clay books, you will already know that there is a touch of the macabre about them and this is indeed evident in Dead Silent. The descriptions of the crime scenes were particularly graphic and not for the faint-hearted. It is easy to imagine these novels on the small screen and some of the scenes in this book were reminiscent of the BBC series, Messiah, starring Ken Stott.

In Eve Clay, we have a very likeable, if troubled protagonist. In Dead Silent, we get to find out a bit more about her childhood in the children’s home, helping to explain why she is so dedicated to her job yet neurotic about the safety of her family. It is also good to see a police department where everyone seems to get on well and is just as devoted to solving the case as Clay.

What I enjoyed most about this book is that Mark Roberts drip-feeds you information throughout, allowing you time to try to fathom out what is taking place. Just when you think you have it all worked out, though, he throws a complete curve-ball and makes you reconsider everything you thought. This made Dead Silent a genuinely enjoyable read, and one which makes you think about how important and formative the early lives of children are.

A fantastic read and I can’t wait for the next installment!

 

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