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The Sinclair Betrayal by M J Lee

There is one family that genealogist Jayne Sinclair has been reluctant to investigate – her own. After discovering that the father she thought had died when she was a child is, in fact, still alive, old wounds are opened up. To compound the issue even further, she finds out that he is currently residing in prison after killing a civil servant in cold blood. Claiming that the life he took was an act of revenge for his mother’s betrayal during World War Two, Jayne must try to uncover the truth about her grandmother’s past in order to solve an age-old mystery.

From the beginning of the series, it has always been apparent that there was something interesting lurking in Jayne’s family history. Spurred on by her stepfather, who urges Jayne to find out about her past before it is too late, we are taken on an emotive journey back to World War Two where we discover the secret life of her French grandmother, Monique.

The action flips between two time frames – Jayne’s modern-day research and Monique’s life in World War Two as a member of the Special Operations Executive (SOE). The dual time frames work well together and I particularly like how we see Jayne discovering something during her research and then reading about the actual event during the war. Both time frames were as enjoyable to read as each other, and I found myself flying through the book, desperate to know what was going to happen next.

One of the things I enjoy most about books like this is the historical aspect and the chance to learn new things. Although I had previously read about the SOE, M J Lee paints a vivid picture of life for the operatives and there were some genuine ‘heart in the mouth’ moments when reading about the dangers these brave people put themselves in. The story was, at times, heartbreaking, especially when the fate of Monique was revealed and was made even more poignant when reading about the real-life women of the SOE and their tragic ends.

I have read all of the other books in this series but I think that this my favourite so far. If you have never read any of the Jayne Sinclair books before, I can heartily recommend them, although you do not need to have read them before reading this one – it can be read as a standalone.

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

The Irish Inheritance

The Somme Legacy

The American Candidate

The Vanished Child

The Silent Christmas

 

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The Elizabeth Tudor Conspiracy by Alexandra Walsh

After years on the throne of England, Elizabeth I, the daughter of Henry VIII, was the last of the Tudor monarchs. Or was she? With two more legitimate heirs, known only by a select few, the question of who will take control after Elizabeth’s death is a hotly-debated subject. Now Phillip II of Spain has discovered the secret and it is feared that he will use it to his advantage to claim the throne as his own.

Fast forward over 400 years, and Perdita Rivers and her twin sister, Piper, are ensconced in Castle Jerusalem in Andorra, after their research uncovered a new Tudor bloodline that certain agencies would kill to keep hidden. With their latest discoveries, the sisters are, once again, placed in danger. Is revealing the truth worth more than their own lives?

The Elizabeth Tudor Conspiracy is the second book in the Marquess House trilogy and follows on from The Catherine Howard Conspiracy. For this reason, it is advisable to read this series in sequence so you can fully understand the circumstances the Rivers sisters have found themselves in.

I really enjoyed the first in this series so was looking forward to reading the next installment. In this book, we spend more time in the past than The Catherine Howard Conspiracy, and this was understandable seeing as we already know Perdita and Piper and the reasons behind them being where they are. Both time frames are as intriguing as the other and I really enjoyed how the two parts were woven together.

As someone who is interested in Tudor history, I especially enjoyed the importance the author has placed on the women of the time, in particular the relationship between Elizabeth I and Mary Queen of Scots. At a time when the men in power were intent on war, I liked reading about the machinations of the Ladies of Melusine who were covertly discovering more about potential plots than those whose job it actually was! I think we have also been given a hint here as to something that may occur in the third book: Melusina, a female spirit of fresh water… Rivers… hmm…

In The Elizabeth Tudor Conspiracy, we read about an alternative take on the Tudors which, if true, would change the face of British history. The twist relating to the death of Elizabeth was definitely not one that I was expecting!

For fans of dual timeline stories, this is a great read. I am looking forward to reading the final part of the trilogy and seeing where Perdita and Piper’s research takes them next.

With thanks to Netgalley and Sapere Books for my copy.

The Ghost of Hollow House by Linda Stratmann

The year is 1872 and Mina Scarletti has been invited to Hollow House in Sussex to investigate the strange occurrences that have been troubling its occupants, Mr Honeyacre and his wife, Kitty. With the servants refusing to stay at the house due to sightings of ‘the woman in white’ and unexplained noises, the health of Kitty Honeyacre is beginning to deteriorate. Confirmed sceptic, Mina, knows that with the assistance of her trusted friends Dr. Hamid and Nellie, she can solve the mystery of Hollow House.

The Ghost of Hollow House is the fourth in the Mina Scarletti series and, while it does make references to previous events, it can definitely be read as a standalone. For anyone who hasn’t been introduced to Mina before, she is not exactly your average Victorian heroine. Afflicted with a severe curvature of the spine, the diminutive protagonist has accepted that, unlike most women of her status, she will never marry and have children. She, therefore, has carved out a career writing ghost stories under a male nom de plume, spending her spare time uncovering fraudulent spiritualists.

It was during this era that spiritualism became big business and Linda Stratmann has painted a vivid picture of life at this time. Hollow House is the perfect setting for a ghost story with its mysterious history and cast of characters with secrets to hide. The tension is ramped up even further when bad weather forces the house to be cut off from the rest of the outside world and the strange happenings continue to terrify those in residence.

Mina, once again, encounters her nemesis, spiritualist Arthur Wallace Hope, who brings with him a Mr Beckler, a photographer keen to capture images of spirits. They are a nefarious pairing, Beckler in particular making my skin crawl with his intentions towards Mina. It is also obvious that another character, Mr Stevenson, is not who he says he is, adding to the mistrust and suspicion in the house.

I enjoyed trying to solve the mystery and there are certainly clues to help you along the way. Mina is very impressive in the way she handles the case and I thought the retelling of the story at the end, written by her nom de plume was a great way of ending the book. A great read!

With thanks to Caoimhe O’Brien and Sapere Books for my copy.

 

Legacy of Guilt by Wendy Percival

As someone who researches their family history, I have been so pleased to see the rise of genealogical mystery as a genre. Perfect for anyone who likes to solve a puzzle while they are reading, these books also often contain a murder for those of us who like a good fictional killing! If this is a genre you have not yet experienced, can I recommend you start with one of the several short stories that are available, such as this one, Legacy of Guilt, by Wendy Percival. This short story is available as a free download on Wendy’s website, https://www.wendypercival.co.uk/.

Wendy’s books feature genealogist Esme Quentin, and in this prequel Legacy of Guilt, we discover how she embarked on her new career. Widowed and still coming to terms with her loss, Esme has a new house and is at a crossroads in her life. A chance encounter with her long-lost cousin leads her into using her genealogical skills to uncover a hidden past and deeply buried family secrets. Here, we see Esme at the very beginning of her new job, learning her trade with the help from a friend. From reading the other books, and knowing that she is now a successful genealogist, it was interesting to see her relying on the advice of others, something all of us researchers have done at one time or another.

If you are after a quick read and an introduction to this author or genre, then Legacy of Guilt is a great place to start. The other books in the series are:

Blood Tied

The Indelible Stain

The Malice of Angels

Death of a Cuckoo

With thanks to Wendy Percival for generously providing The Legacy of Guilt.

 

 

**BLOG BLITZ** A Tale of Two Sisters by Merryn Allingham

Today, I’m pleased to be one of the blogs featuring on the blog blitz for A Tale of Two Sisters by Merryn Allingham, an emotional historical drama which was published by Canelo on 21st March 2019. I’m particularly thrilled to be able to share an extract with you that I’m sure will whet your appetite for the book.

 

 

Separated by time and distance, two sisters seek answers for all they’ve lost

When Alice Verinder’s beloved sister Lydia goes missing, Alice boards the Orient Express bound for Topkapi Palace in Constantinople, determined to find her.

Lydia was governess to the Sultan’s young children and though her letters spoke of exotic delights and welcoming hosts, the reception Alice receives is decidedly cold and answers unforthcoming.

Now, as Alice digs deeper into the secrets of a land foreign to her she has only Englishman Harry Frome to help her. But as their search uncovers unforeseen dangers and exposes an unexpected ardour, is Alice ready for the truths they’ll uncover?

 

ALICE

London, February 1907

 

Another day and no letter. Alice snatched up the pile of envelopes from the console table and shuffled through them, one by one. She had been so certain that today she would hear, but there was nothing. Still not a word from Lydia. What was happening to her sister that she could find no time to write? A note only, that’s all she asked, some reassuring lines to say all was well, all was happy in a palace several thousand miles away. It surely wasn’t too much to expect, after all the trouble her sister had caused, unless… but Lydia should be safe. As governess to two small girls, there could be nothing that would stop her writing.

For minutes, Alice stood motionless. Her eyes were fixed on the dark oak of the front door, but it was not its fine mouldings she saw, nor the decorative glass splashing colour across an otherwise gloomy space. It was Lydia’s face. She had dreamt of her sister last night, but didn’t she always? This had been different, though. Last night she had been with Lydia again; she had searched and she had found her. Old resentments had dissolved to nothing and instead she had thrown her arms around the girl and hugged her slight frame, never to let go. Lydia’s stubbornness, her irresponsibility, were forgotten. She had found her dear sister and that was all that mattered. The waking disappointment had been almost too much to bear. And now these letters. Or rather, no letter. Another day of pretending that nothing was amiss, of putting on a reassuring smile. She would need time before she faced her parents again.

She was at the bottom of the stairs on her way to her bedroom when she heard her name called.

‘Alice.’ Her mother’s voice held the suggestion of a quaver, but fretfulness was uppermost.

She felt a tremor of impatience, instantly suppressed. She must not blame her mother for the constant need of attention. Edith Verinder had never coped well with life and, since Charlie’s death, what little fortitude she’d possessed had faded without a fight.

‘Alice!’ The fretfulness had become peremptory. ‘When will your aunt be here?’

‘I’m not sure,’ she answered, retracing her steps into the sitting room. ‘Very soon, I would think.’

Her mother was sitting by the window wearily resplendent in a wing chair, a thick wool shawl around her shoulders, a blanket at her feet. Alice automatically retrieved the blanket and laid it across the bony knees.

‘You will bring Cicely to me, won’t you, when she arrives?’

‘Of course, Mama, I’ll bring her immediately. I’m not certain when the York train gets in but there’s always such a crush at King’s Cross. I expect Aunt Cissie has had to queue for a hansom.’

Her mother gave a long sigh as though she, too, were queuing for the hansom. ‘Make sure that Dora has the tea things ready – and the best china, mind.’

‘And don’t put out too many madeleines.’ She hadn’t noticed her father hunched into a matching chair at the other side of the room. He spoke without taking his eyes from his newspaper. ’Your aunt has rather too healthy an appetite.’

‘I’ll tell Cook,’ she said a trifle distractedly, halfway back to the door.

There were a hundred jobs waiting to be done and Cicely’s room had still to be made up. Her aunt enjoyed the freedom of wealthy widowhood, travelling when and where she chose from her home in the shadow of the Minster, but why she had decided to visit London at such short notice, Alice had no idea. It was another burden on a household already besieged.

‘And Alice,’ her mother called after her. ‘Fetch Lydia’s letters from your room. Cissie will want to read news of her niece.’

She felt her chest tighten. She had letters, certainly, a tidy sheaf of them, but if she were to show them to her aunt, Cicely was quick-witted enough to notice that the last message from Lydia was dated months ago. So far Alice had managed to keep this knowledge from her parents by dint of reading the letters aloud, selecting passages from here and there, and pretending the news had arrived only that morning. Before the letters stopped entirely, they had become less frequent and less informative, but she had still kept up the pretence. She couldn’t allow them to know that Lydia had seemingly vanished without a clue to her whereabouts. Not in their weakened state.

She gave swift instructions to Cook to fetch down the bone china from a top shelf and made a strict count of the number of madeleines to appear on the tea trolley before she climbed the stairs to the guest bedroom. Dora was already there and giving the satin counterpane a final smooth when Alice put her head around the door.

‘What else needs doing?’ she asked the maid.

‘Just the flowers, miss. Dibbens delivered the narcissi an hour ago and they’re soaking in the kitchen, but they need a bit of arranging. I’ll run down and get them.’

‘Bless you. My legs have turned to jelly.’

‘And no wonder. You’ve been up and down these stairs all morning, fetching and carrying.’

Dora sniffed loudly, but she allowed the moment to pass. Alice knew the maid’s opinion of her mother’s illness. Domestic servants did not have the luxury of nerves. But Dora was wrong. Her mother had always been fragile. It was her husband who had given Edith stability and, when he’d fallen ill so shortly after Charlie’s death, the spirit had gone from her completely.

She arranged the narcissi as best she could in a favourite Murano vase and was making her way downstairs again when the thud of the door knocker echoed through the empty hall. Aunt Cissie. King’s Cross could not have been that busy. Her aunt’s arrival would at least bring cheer to the house. When the telegram had first arrived, Alice had thought of confiding her worries, but realised almost immediately that Cissie was likely to go straight to her sister with Lydia’s tale. The two women were closer than twins. And if her father learned that his younger daughter was missing, possibly in danger, it could prove fatal. His heart attack had left him vulnerable to a final blow, which would be enough to seal her mother’s fate, too. No, she couldn’t tell. She must keep up the pretence that Lydia was alive and well and enjoying teaching in a foreign land. And believe, believe, that her sister would write soon – from wherever she was.

Alice had written to Topkapi – the Sultan seemed to own a bewildering array of palaces – but Topkapi was the address Lydia had written on each of her letters. The official who responded had been adamant that her sister was no longer with them. There remained at the palace only a few of Lydia’s personal possessions that he would be happy to send: two pens, several photographs, a few watercolours and a book. His letter had been brief and its curt disapproval had shone through the uneven English. Sultan Selim was most displeased. His daughters’ governess had left without warning and no one had an idea where she was. Alice could not quite believe that. If it were true, it would be completely out of character. Lydia might be impulsive, thoughtless even, but Alice was certain she would never simply disappear without telling her family.

‘Darling, how are you?’

Cicely’s substantial figure filled the hall. The cabbie bundled in behind her, puffing heavily from dragging several large pieces of luggage up the front steps. Alice wondered just how long her aunt was intending to stay. The older woman held her at arms’ length and gave her a prolonged stare.

‘Not too well, by the look of it,’ she said, answering her own question. ‘You’re not just pale, my dear. You look positively sickly. What ails you?’

‘Really nothing, Aunt,’ she protested. ‘I have two invalids to look after. I’m not able to leave the house for long and this winter seems to have gone on forever.’

‘Well, now I’m here, I shall make sure you do get out. Put some pink back into those cheeks. I’ll sit with Edie and keep her amused. It won’t be difficult.’

Cicely was right. She knew just how to handle her sister. Her brother-in-law, too, if it came to that. It might give Alice more time to think, space in which to decide just what to do, or even if there was anything she could do. In the meantime, she must find a way to keep her aunt occupied this evening and as far from Lydia’s letters as possible.

‘And how is Theo?’ Her aunt had divested herself of a voluminous coat, several bright scarves and a large felt hat.

‘Papa is doing well, I think.’

‘That’s good to hear. It was a bad business about Charlie. A foolish young man, I’m afraid, but still a very bad business.’

Alice stiffened. A sharp sense of loss battled against her aunt’s seeming indifference. She wanted to leap to her young brother’s defence, but she knew Cissie was right – Charlie had been foolish. Attempting to scale Balliol’s medieval walls in the dead of night, after drinking heavily, was foolhardy in the extreme. He had paid a dreadful price for it, and so had they all. Even Lydia. But foolish or not, Charlie had been a loved brother. A sunny, carefree individual who had breezed noisily through every day of his short life with a smile on his face. He had brought joy to the staid house in Pimlico. So she said nothing and instead led her aunt into the sitting room.

‘Aunt Cissie is here, Mama,’ she announced as cheerfully as she could.

 

 

Merryn Allingham was born into an army family and spent her childhood moving around the UK and abroad. Unsurprisingly it gave her itchy feet and in her twenties she escaped from an unloved secretarial career to work as cabin crew and see the world.

Merryn  still loves to travel and visit new places, especially those with an interesting history, but the arrival of marriage, children and cats meant a more settled life in the south of England, where she has lived ever since. It also gave her the opportunity to go back to ‘school’ and eventually teach at university.

She has written seven historical novels, all mysteries with a helping of suspense and a dash of romance – sometimes set in exotic locations and often against a background of stirring world events.

With thanks to Ellie Pilcher at Canelo for organising the blog blitz.

**BLOG TOUR** The Peacock Bottle by Angela Rigley

I’m pleased to be one of the blogs taking part in the 5-day blog blitz for The Peacock Bottle, a historical dual timeline book by Angela Rigley. If you’d like to win a copy of this great book, then keep reading…

In the 1890s, Amelia Wise and her stepmother are overwhelmed by the task they have to undertake when they inherit a house in the Lake District. Having been left to fall into a state of disrepair, the house requires a great deal of work to make it inhabitable. After becoming determined to improve the long-forgotten, overgrown garden, Amelia’s interest is piqued when she finds a discarded perfume bottle. Why would someone throw away such a beautiful thing?

Moving back in time to several decades before, we meet two sisters, Daisy and Mary Jane, privileged young women whose aim in life appears to be to meet and marry a pair of eligible bachelors. With a middle-class life that appears to be going according to plan, what can possibly happen to destroy this happiness?

I really enjoy reading dual timeline stories and liked how The Peacock Bottle differed slightly to other books I have read, with both narratives being set in different years of the Victorian era. Even though they are a mere fifty years apart, it was interesting to see how the expectations for young women had changed, with Amelia being a lot more independent and feisty than her 1840s counterparts. Amelia was by far my favourite character, and although she had ‘gone down in the world’, I loved her interaction with the servants, showing what an empathetic, down-to-earth young lady she was.

It took a while for me to like Daisy and Mary Jane, finding them frivolous and rather self-important. When a particular incident occurs, however, we get to see a different side of these young women and I felt that we got to see their true personalities. The incident also provided a link between the two time frames, helping to explain why Amelia found the house in the state it was.

The Peacock Bottle is a gentle, easy read ideal for those interested in women’s fiction with a historical slant.

Would you like to win your own copy of The Peacock Bottle? Rachel from Rachel’s Random Resources is hosting a giveaway for not one, but two copies! Details below:

Giveaway to Win 2 x Paperback copes of The Peacock Bottle (UK Only)

*Terms and Conditions –UK entries welcome.  Please enter using the Rafflecopter link below.  The winner will be selected at random via Rafflecopter from all valid entries and will be notified by Twitter and/or email. If no response is received within 7 days then Rachel’s Random Resources reserves the right to select an alternative winner. Open to all entrants aged 18 or over.  Any personal data given as part of the competition entry is used for this purpose only and will not be shared with third parties, with the exception of the winners’ information. This will passed to the giveaway organiser and used only for fulfilment of the prize, after which time Rachel’s Random Resources will delete the data.  I am not responsible for despatch or delivery of the prize.

http://www.rafflecopter.com/rafl/display/33c69494209/?

With thanks to Rachel from Rachel’s Random Resources for organising the tour and for providing my copy of the book.

 

 

**BLOG TOUR** The Forgotten Secret by Kathleen McGurl

42075145Ireland, 1919: Ellen O’Brien is about to start a new job ‘up at the big house’ but the war in Ireland is getting closer to home. Soon, everyone around her is getting swept up in an increasingly violent situation with Ellen, herself, finding her loyalties torn.

Almost a hundred years later, after the death of a family member, Clare Farrell has inherited an old farmhouse in County Meath. Seeing this as the perfect opportunity to escape from an abusive marriage, she leaves her past behind and embarks on a new life in Ireland. The house, however, is in a poor state of repair and, whilst working on improving her living environment, Clare discovers a long-forgotten hiding place containing some mysterious artefacts. With only the renovations to occupy her time, she soon uncovers a secret that has remained buried for several decades.

Ever since reading The Daughters of Red Hill Hall, I have become a huge fan of Kathleen McGurl’s time lapse stories, and I was really looking forward to this one. I’ve always liked how the stories are told in two distinct time frames yet their plots gradually converge so we are seeing the same story told from two different perspectives.  In The Forgotten Secret we meet two main protagonists, separated by almost a century, but each embarking on a new life, not knowing what the outcome will be.

I found I had a lot of respect for Clare, a woman who seemingly had a happy home life. Looks can be deceiving, though, and when you scratched beneath the surface, we discovered how controlling her husband, Paul, actually was. Stopping her from working, isolating her from her friends, choosing her clothes… the list could go on. I was pleased when she finally took the plunge and left her husband, starting a new life in Ireland. The discovery of the artefacts and her subsequent investigation do not take a central role in her story, but do help to add some detail to the story of the other main character, Ellen.

The chapters featuring Ellen were my favourite, moreso as the book progressed. Set against the fighting in Ireland between the Volunteers and the ‘Black and Tans’, we see a young woman who is caught up in a war that she quickly needs to learn about. Although I have read other books on this subject, I did enjoy the way the author explained what was happening and was also grateful for the historical overview she provided. Ellen’s story is a fascinating, yet tragic, one and I admired her tenacity which saw her come out the other side.

Another part of Ireland’s history is also dealt with, and it is one that leaves a particularly nasty taste in the mouth – that of the Magdalene laundries. Although the descriptions are not overly graphic, Kathleen McGurl paints a bleak image of the conditions and made me feel so angry for the women who were incarcerated there.

The Forgotten Secret is not an action-packed but is much more a plot-driven book. One part did fox me, though, and provided a great twist that I was not expecting. This is another great book from Kathleen McGurl, and one that I thoroughly enjoyed reading.

With thanks to HQ Digital and Net Galley for my copy and to Rachel Gilbey from Rachel’s Random Resources for organising the blog tour.

Take a look at my reviews of some of Kathleen McGurl’s previous books:

The Drowned Village

The Girl from Ballymor

The Pearl Locket

The Emerald Comb

The Daughters of Red Hill Hall

The Catherine Howard Conspiracy by Alexandra Walsh

51UcdiN3gyL._SY346_After having no contact with her grandmother throughout her life, Dr Perdita Rivers is shocked to discover that on her death, she has inherited Marquess House, her vast estate in Pembrokeshire. Finding herself wealthy beyond her wildest dreams, Perdita sets out to discover the reason behind her estrangement from her grandmother. She soon realises that something is afoot at Marquess House after discovering documents claiming that the fifth wife of Henry VIII was not, in fact, executed, but instead managed to escape his tyranny. Will Perdita discover the fate of the Tudor Queen and find out just how her grandmother is connected?

I am a fan of fiction containing a dual timeline and so The Catherine Howard Conspiracy was definitely a book that appealed straight away, especially with its Tudor link – another of my interests. I was intrigued to read about Henry VIII’s fifth wife, as she is one of the Tudor Queens that I know least about and I loved how the author has merged historical fact with fiction, to the point that I began to wonder which parts were real and which were not!

History has perceived Catherine as a flirtatious, naive young woman but Alexandra Walsh paints a completely different picture of the ill-fated queen. In The Catherine Howard Conspiracy, we see her constantly in fear of her husband, whose behaviour is becoming increasingly erratic. Several scenes were truly heartbreaking as we see how she is being mistreated and I was willing her to escape his clutches. I particularly enjoyed the relationship she had with Henry’s previous wife, Anne of Cleves, the only other woman who truly knew what it was like to be married to the king.

Perdita, I found, to be quite a complex character and my feelings towards her changed throughout the book. I did, however, find myself incredibly envious of her having all of that priceless historical documentation at her disposal! I admired her tenacity when, faced with a potential life-threatening situation, she was determined to uncover the truth about what had happened to Catherine Howard.

As I knew that this was the first in a trilogy, I couldn’t wait to see how the author would end this first installment. I liked how, although the main mysteries in the book had been solved, there is a clear indication of what is going to happen in part two.

This is a fantastic read and I can’t wait to see what happens next!

With thanks to Sapere Books and Net Galley for my ARC.

 

**BLOG TOUR** The Last by Hanna Jameson

Historian Jon Keller is on a work trip to Switzerland when the unimaginable happens – nuclear bombs start dropping on the major global cities, signifying the end of the world. Holed up in a hotel with other survivors, Jon has no way of knowing whether his family back in the United States are still alive. Then, the body of a young girl is found at the hotel – one of the residents is a killer. As he investigates, paranoia begins to surface – just who, if anyone, can he trust and is he putting his own life in danger by trying to uncover the truth in a strange new world?

I had heard so many good things about this book so was ecstatic to be given the opportunity to read it as part of the blog tour and was equally pleased to find that it certainly lives up to the hype. I admit that dystopian novels have never been something that have interested me, but I loved the premise of the book and was so glad that I decided to expand my horizons (even if it was the crime element that pulled me towards it!).

One of my favourite books is Agatha Christie’s And Then There Were None, where a group of people being murdered one-by-one realise that the killer is one of their number. It was for this reason that I wanted to read The Last, as there seemed to be echoes of this plot. This was not the case, however, and although there are certainly deaths in the book, I would not say that this is the main focus. Instead what we have is a thought-provoking tale of ‘what ifs’ – especially scary given the instability in the world at the moment. In an age where we are so heavily reliant upon the internet and other media sources, it was easy to imagine the panic of the people at the hotel, not knowing what was happening or whether their loved ones had made it to safety.

I liked the mix of characters and felt that the slow pace of the book gave the author chance to develop them fully. It was fascinating to read how personalities changed and that, faced with such extreme circumstances, some people stepped up to take control whilst others were keen to survive at all costs, no matter who they hurt in the process. There were some genuinely tense moments when they left the confinement of the hotel in search of supplies, not knowing if there were other survivors out there and whether they would make it back alive.

The Last is a very tense, claustrophobic read and one that certainly makes you question what you would do should you be faced with that situation. It is a very clever book that grabs your attention and holds onto it until the very last page. This looks like being one of the books of the year and one that could be easily be imagined as a TV mini-series. Highly recommended.

With thanks to Emily Burns at Brand Hive and Viking / Penguin for giving me the opportunity to review The Last.

 

 

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