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***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.
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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!

 

Monthly Round Up: August 2017

August is always the month where I manage to read more books due to having time off work and this month I’ve managed to read a range of genres. I’m also pleased that I managed to finish another one from my Jo Nesbo tbr pile!

Books I’ve Read

51Ry-oprklLGirl A

The true story behind the Rochdale sex ring, as dramatised by the BBC in ‘Three Girls’ is shocking and heartbreaking read which leaves you with so many emotions.

 

517jii+ZhdLThe Silk Weaver’s Wife by Debbie Rix

Set both in the present day and the eighteenth century, The Silk Weaver’s Wife tells the story of two women unhappy with their lot and the ways in which their lives are changed. Vivid images of Italy in the 1700s are created bu the author’s wonderful description.

4631636995_252x379Death of a Cuckoo by Wendy Percival

A short story featuring the genealogist Esme Quentin, full of mystery and intrigue as a recently-bereaved woman tries to uncover the real story behind her background.

 

51h+jCAxF8LDead Silent by Mark Roberts

The second in the DCI Eve Clay books sees the detective trying to find a particularly gruesome murderer who is staging scenes from disturbing paintings. A fast-paced, exciting read.

 

71sRUnuQnbLGood Friday by Lynda La Plante

The third of the Prime Suspect prequels sees Jane Tennison, now a fully-fledged detective, fearing for her life as she witnesses an IRA bomb at Covent Garden underground station.

 

Nemesis by Jo Nesbo

Nemesis, the fourth of Jo Nesbo’s Harry Hole series sees Harry investigating a fatal bank raid whilst also trying to prove himself innocent of a crime he didn’t commit.

 

Did You See Melody? by Sophie Hannah

When Cara travels from England to the US for some time away from her problems, she doesn’t ever imagine that she is going to become embroiled in one of the biggest murder cases that America has ever seen. An enjoyable read.

 

Find Me by J S Monroe

Jar has never really come to terms with the suicide of his girlfriend five years ago so when he is convinced that he’s seen her in a train station, it sets off a chain of events that threatens to rock his world completely. My review will be published on September 12th as part of the blog tour.

 

Books I’ve Acquired

Nothing Stays Buried is the eighth book in P.J. Tracy’s addictive and internationally bestselling Monkeewrench series

There’s a search for a missing girl, and another for a serial killer: death holds all the cards . . .

When Marla Gustafson vanishes on her way to her father’s farm, her car left empty on the side of an isolated country road, even Grace MacBride and her eccentric team of analysts are baffled.

Meanwhile in Minneapolis, homicide detectives Gino and Magozzi have a serial killer on their hands – two women murdered in cruelly similar fashion, with playing cards left on the bodies. But one card is an ace, the other is a four – it seems the killer is already two murders ahead.

With both teams stumped, it slowly becomes clear the evidence is inexplicably entangled. And they have little time to unravel the threads: a twisted killer is intent on playing out the deck…

 

She fell in love with a killer, now she’s one too.

The suitcase was badly rusted, and took Erika several attempts, but it yielded and sagged open as she unzipped it. Nothing could prepare her for what she would find inside…

When a battered suitcase containing the dismembered body of a young man washes up on the shore of the river Thames, Detective Erika Foster is shocked. She’s worked on some terrifying cases but never seen anything like this before.

As Erika and her team set to work, she makes the link with another victim – the body of a young woman dumped in an identical suitcase two weeks ago.

Erika quickly realises she’s on the trail of a serial killer who’s already made their next move. Yet just as Erika starts to make headway with the investigation, she is the victim of a brutal attack.

But nothing will stop Erika. As the body count rises, the twin daughters of her colleague Commander Marsh are abducted, and the stakes are higher than ever before. Can Erika save the lives of two innocent children before it’s too late? She’s running out of time and about to make a disturbing discovery…there’s more than one killer.

 

In her most dangerous case yet, Jayne Sinclair investigates the family background of a potential candidate to be President of the United States of America.

When the politician who commissioned the genealogical research is shot dead in front of her, Jayne is forced to flee for her life. Why was he killed? And who is trying to stop the American Candidate’s family past from being revealed?

Jayne Sinclair is caught in a deadly race against time to discover the truth, armed only with her own wits and ability to research secrets hidden in the past.

 

I can’t wait to read the Robert Bryndza book and see what it has in store for Erika! It’s also now only a matter of weeks before Dan Brown’s new book, ‘Origin’ hits the shelves – I’m so pleased that he’s, once again, decided to set this one in Europe.

Happy reading!

 

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.

The Girl From Ballymor by Kathleen McGurl

510u-LpbteLIn Ballymor, Ireland in 1847, Kitty McCarthy is struggling to keep her family alive due to the potato famine that has already killed all but two of her children. In the present day, Maria has arrived in Ballymor to research the life of her ancestor, the Victorian artist Michael McCarthy. Will she be able to discover the circumstances surrounding his early life and also what became of his beloved mother, Kitty?

I have loved all of Kathleen McGurl’s previous books and The Daughters of Red Hill Hall was one of my favourites of last year.  I had, therefore, been eagerly anticipating The Girl From Ballymor, and am pleased to say that it is just as good as the rest!

One of the things I like most about Kathleen McGurl’s books is how she seamlessly merges past with present and this is evident here. Speaking as somebody who has ancestors who left Ireland during the potato famine, I found Kitty’s plight highly emotive and could understand her desire to ensure that her son escaped to a better life. Despite living in horrendous conditions, Kitty was an incredibly strong woman and, like Maria, I too became engrossed in the mystery surrounding what became of her. Inevitably, her story was never going to end well, and when her fate was finally revealed it was tinged with more than a touch of sadness.

Sometimes in a dual-timeline story, I find myself liking one of the timelines more than the other but this is not the case in The Girl From Ballymor. Both parts of the story were equally as engaging and were interlinked in a way that moved the plot on. I felt that Maria was a very real character and could sense her trepidation as major changes were about to affect her life in a huge way.

With its cross-genre approach, The Girl From Ballymor will appeal to fans of historical and genealogical fiction and also anyone who enjoys a gentle mystery. This is another great book from Kathleen McGurl and I hope there isn’t too much of a wait before the next one!

With thanks to HQ 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!

 

***BLOG TOUR*** The Room by the Lake by Emma Dibdin

I am pleased to be today’s stop on the blog tour for Emma Dibdin’s debut, The Room by the Lake.

Tired with life in London after the death of her mother and dealing with an alcoholic father, Caitlin moves to New York where she hopes her problems will become something of the past. With her money quickly dwindling and feelings of loneliness appearing, her life seems to be looking up when she meets Jake, a handsome man who lives in a commune in the woods. With their emphasis on group therapy, healthy eating and exercise, this looks exactly like the sort of escape Caitlin needs. She soon realises, though, that there is more to this lifestyle than meets the eye and finding her way back out may not be as easy as she thinks.

From the start of the book, I had great sympathy for Caitlin and could understand why she felt the need to escape from her life. Underestimating how lonely it can be in a big city, however, was certainly her downfall and it was easy to see how she became smitten with Jake, the good-looking stranger who went out of his way to make her feel wanted. As the reader, alarm bells were immediately ringing when he suggested she go to meet his family in an isolated house in the woods and it was good to see how Caitlin had the same reservations, her feelings towards Jake suppressing these thoughts however.

Considering that the majority of the book takes place in a vast forest, Emma Dibdin has succeeded in creating a tense, claustrophobic setting with an air of foreboding. It is not really a spoiler to say that the commune Caitlin finds herself part of is not exactly what it seems but the author has done a fantastic job in skewing reality to the point that, even as the reader, you do not know what is real and what is in Caitlin’s head. There were several occasions when Caitlin was having doubts and I was willing her to trust her instincts and get out of there as fast as she could but such is the quality of the brainwashing that she never acted on her thoughts.

I admit that this is not the sort of book that would usually grab my attention, but I am so glad that I had the opportunity to read it as it was a fast-paced, easy read filled with tension. This is a great debut and I look forward to reading more of Emma Dibdin’s work.

With thanks to Head of Zeus, Net Galley and Clare Gordon for my copy of the book.

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

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