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The Sixth Victim by Tessa Harris

Like the rest of Whitechapel, Constance Piper is living in fear of the unknown killer that roams the streets at night – Jack the Ripper. After witnessing a stage hypnotist perform his act, however, Constance has not been feeling herself and begins to think that she has somehow acquired the powers of second sight. She is soon contacted by a lady who fears that the latest victim may be her missing sister – can Constance use her skills to unmask the killer? Just when she needs her help the most, Constance’s teacher and friend, Emily Tindall, has also gone missing. Is her disappearance linked to the man known as the Whitechapel Killer?

The Sixth Victim is a fictional tale set during 1888 when the infamous serial killer, Jack the Ripper, was striking fear across the whole of the east end of London. I originally thought that this was going to be another take on this age-old mystery but was pleased to discover that it merely provided a backdrop for the main plot and the focus was placed on the missing women and a torso that had been found in another part of London.

I warmed to Constance very quickly – a girl who, although living amongst abject poverty, longs to better herself in order to find a way out of the slums of the east end. In The Sixth Victim, the author has managed to create a very colourful image of Whitechapel, showing a stark contrast between the lives of the unfortunate inhabitants to that of the more well-to-do who live in the grand houses and hotels of London. It was easy to imagine (even with out the aid of Constance’s second sight) the sounds and smells of the area and understand why the women of that time lived in constant fear.

I was not sure what to expect when a supernatural element was introduced to the story as this is not my favourite genre of writing, but I felt that it was written well and allowed the plot to move on at a steady pace. It also appears to show how other subsequent books in the series could take shape. Overall, the plot was a good one and I liked how the author has seamlessly merged fact with fiction.

A great read which promises to be the start of a fascinating new series.

With thanks to Net Galley and Kensington Books for the ARC.

Dead Letters by Caite Dolan-Leach

When she receives an email informing her that her twin sister is dead, Ava Antipova isn’t exactly filled with grief. To Ava, this sounds exactly like the sort of scheming she is used to from Zelda, the sister she has not seen for the past two years. Returning home in an attempt to unearth the truth, she soon finds herself on a scavenger hunt that has been set up by her ‘dead’ sister. With her family in a downward spiral, will Ava be able to discover the whereabouts of her missing sister?

I was initially drawn to this book by the cover and the premise of a mystery being solved by way of a scavenger hunt. Although this is being billed in some quarters as a ‘thriller’, I certainly would not agree – there is definitely an air of mystery but is more of a study of the main characters involved in the story. Despite this, I was pleasantly surprised by how much I enjoyed Dead Letters and, although some of the plot lines could be predicted, there were enough clever twists to keep you guessing.

The Antipovas are a dysfunctional family of immense proportions: Nadine (Ava’s mother) is a divorcee suffering from early onset dementia; Marlon (Ava’s father) has a new family who seemingly want nothing to do with his children from his previous marriage and the missing sister, Zelda, is a drug user who will use anyone to help her achieve her aims. Is there any wonder Ava has escaped her past and started a new life in France?! Having a family winemaking business has not exactly helped either as they are all, as Ava admits, alcoholics. Although the characters are not exactly likeable, I did find myself feeling sympathy towards Ava’s plight as she was, once again, manipulated by her sister.

Dead Letters is a strong debut from the author and I look forward to reading her next offering.

With thanks to Atlantic Books and Readers First for my ARC.

 

**BLOG TOUR** Last Witness by Carys Jones – Extract

 

It is my pleasure to be the next stop on the blog tour for the brilliant new book by Carys Jones – Last Witness. My review can be found here, but I am also lucky enough to be able to share an extract with you!

1

‘I want to go home.’
Ewan’s voice was plaintive, sorrowful, as he lifted his head off Amanda’s arm and peered up at her through tired eyes.
Home.
The word pressed itself into Amanda’s side like a thorn. Each time she breathed in she felt its barbed tip. What was home? A place? A person? For Amanda, home had been the beautiful new house she’d bought with her husband, Will.
Bending forward, she coughed to conceal the sob which trembled up her throat and burst from her lips. Will was gone. All that was left of him was the little boy at her side.
‘Home.’ Ewan smacked his hands against his seat and blinked back tears.
‘We can’t go home,’ Shane briefly turned to look back at them from the driving seat. Amanda had watched his profile throughout their long journey, noticed the unrelenting tension in his jaw as he drove down seemingly never-ending motorways. Scotland was now in the rear-view mirror. The sun had started to dip in the sky and Amanda wasn’t sure if she’d reach her mother’s house before dark.
‘Why not?’ the little boy demanded of both the adults in the car, dividing his
heated gaze between them. Shane was looking ahead once more.
‘Because we can’t,’ Amanda wished she had a more concrete explanation to offer Ewan. She wrapped her arm around his slight shoulders and drew him back towards her. He was too tired to pull away.
‘But why not?’ his eyelids were drooping.
Because your mother and father are dead. Because the man who killed them may well be hunting you too.
‘Because we can’t,’ Amanda repeated softly. A minute passed and Ewan’s
breathing deepened as he drifted off to sleep.
*
As Amanda had predicted, night had fallen when Shane’s car pulled into the small driveway outside her mother’s cottage. She could taste the salt in the air sweeping in off the Southern English coast as she stretched out her legs, trying to unknot them after the long drive down from Scotland. Thick, velvety shadows gathered where the vehicle’s headlights couldn’t reach.
‘Are you sure she’s going to be okay with this?’ Shane’s voice was dubious as Amanda yawned widely in the back seat and stretched out her arms.
‘She has to be.’
‘And if she isn’t?’
‘Well,’ Amanda dusted a strand of blonde hair out of her eyes, ‘you don’t have a place of your own right now. I’m sure as hell not going back to my place. And that leaves hers.’
Even at night, the little cottage managed to look welcoming. A single outside light shone beside the front door. It banished away any shadows that lingered too close to the threshold. Amanda smiled a little to herself as she looked at its glow, remembering how that light used to be left on to help guide her back home during her teenage years, when she’d spent hours down on the beach with Shane and John. But who was it on for now? Or did her mother just like to think that she was offering a guiding light to any souls that wandered along the cliffside?
It was cold out. When she opened her car door the slap of the night air against his cheeks roused Ewan from slumber. He made his hands into little balls and furiously rubbed them against his eyes. ‘Where are we?’ he mumbled the question as Shane scooped him up in his strong arms and rested Ewan against his chest. The boy promptly lowered his head and fell back asleep.
‘I envy his ability to just sleep anywhere.’ Shane smiled. It wasn’t a hearty, natural one. More the sort of smile you use in polite company. But Amanda was grateful for it. It was nice to see someone else smile, especially since she doubted she’d ever be able to again.
Pushing back all her nerves and worries, she rang the doorbell.
‘Are you even sure she’ll be up?’
Amanda pulled her phone from her pocket and peered at the screen. It was a quarter to eleven. ‘She’ll be up.’
Sure enough it took less than a minute for the locks to turn on the other side of the door.
‘Who is it?’ Her mother’s voice was tight, suspicious. Amanda could imagine her staring hard at the door, rouge lips pursed in annoyance.
‘Mum, it’s me.’
The door opened. Light flooded the porch, brilliant and bright. Amanda had to stagger back, briefly shielding her eyes.

About the Author:

Carys Jones loves nothing more than to write and create stories which ignite the reader’s imagination. Based in Shropshire, England, Carys lives with her husband, two guinea pigs and her adored canine companion Rollo.

Follow Carys

Twitter: @tiny_dancer85

Facebook: @CarysJonesWriter

Instagram: tiny_dancer_8

Website: http://www.carys-jones.com/

 

With thanks to Aria, Head of Zeus, Carys Jones and Yasmine Turan for enabling me to be part of this blog tour. Take a look at the rest of the great blogs that are participating:

 

 

**BLOG TOUR** Last Witness by Carys Jones – Review

Amanda Thorne is a woman on a mission. After the death of her husband, she is determined to find the man responsible and will not rest until he has been dealt with. Heading back to Scotland, she knows the only way to achieve her aim is to go deep undercover into the world of gang kingpin McAllister. This means immersing herself into the seedy world of drugs, women and nightclubs and exposing herself to extreme danger. Will she be able to protect herself from the secrets of the past and ensure that the last witness to the truth survives?

It was with some trepidation that I started to read this book as it is the continuation of the previous book, Wrong Number – a book I have not read. I was pleased to discover, however, that the author has given enough information to ensure that there is a full understanding of events that have previously occurred without spoiling the opportunity to go back and read the first book.

From the start, I warmed to Amanda, a woman who has taken on the responsibility of bringing up a child that is not hers. Her maternal, protective instinct is clear to see and so it is inevitable that she should want to eliminate the only threat to the child’s future – McAllister. I did question her friend Shane’s involvement in the whole scenario who seemed blinded by love despite his role as a police officer! I did admire his loyalty to Amanda, though, and thought he came across as a thoroughly nice man – exactly the sort of man Amanda needed in her life.

It is essential to suspend reality while reading Last Witness as Amanda pursues McAllister via the darkweb. As this is an area of the internet that, thankfully, very few people have access to, it became quite concerning as to how easy it was for Amanda to access weapons and hack into various databases. There were times when I wanted to scream at Amanda at how stupid she was being for putting her life into danger, especially when there was a child at home waiting for her.

Overall, I found this an enjoyable, fast-paced read and one that makes me regret not reading the first book in the series before this one!

With thanks to Aria, Head of Zeus and Net Galley for the ARC.

Take a look at an extract here!

 

Evil Games by Angela Marsons

71HtaSfrGELWhen a rapist is found brutally murdered, it does not take Detective Inspector Kim Stone and her team long to find the perpetrator. After more vengeful attacks, however, Kim begins to wonder if there is something – or someone – behind each of these cases. Step forward Alexandra Thorne – a professional who is abusing her position in order to manipulate her patients. At the same time, Kim is pursuing the abuser of two young girls and she will not stop until all those involved are brought to justice.

I was not introduced to the Kim Stone series until the third book, Lost Girls, and so I have read them out of sequence. As a result, I was already familiar with the sociopath, Alex Thorne, before reading this book, but this did not spoil my enjoyment in any way.

In Alex Thorne, we have the perfect adversary for the unflappable Kim Stone and it was fascinating to see the cat and mouse game they played as they tried to figure out what made each other tick. With the introduction of Thorne, we also had the opportunity to find out a bit more about Kim’s childhood and were able to meet Patty Stone, the reason behind Kim being a closed book. The scene at the end, where Kim finally lets down her defences slightly and allows Bryant to share a particularly private moment, was a very touching one.

Evil Games is another fantastic addition to the Kim Stone series and I am more than a bit sad that I have now read them all – until the next one is published that is!

You can currently purchase the kindle version of  Evil Games on Amazon for only 99p!

 

Monthly Round Up: April 2017

Welcome to the second of my monthly ’round ups’. I haven’t been able to read as many books as I would have liked, unfortunately, but I’m hoping to remedy that this coming month!

Books I’ve Read

cover.jpg.rendition.460.707The Killer on the Wall by Emma Kavanagh

This was one of those books where I was immediately grabbed by the blurb. Although I did enjoy it, I felt that it had a very slow start and took a while to get going.

 

Dying Games by Steve Robinson51oXpj-8ZIL

The latest of Steve Robinson’s Jefferson Tayte books was one of my most anticipated books of the year and it was not a let-down in the slightest. A fast-paced read containing some very macabre deaths!

 

34500937Dead Souls by Angela Marsons

Has Angela Marsons ever written a bad book?! This is probably the darkest of her Kim Stone series and one that is incredibly thought-provoking. One of my favourite reads of the year so far.

 

CockroachesCockroaches by Jo Nesbo

The second of the Harry Hole books, I found that this one was a big improvement on the previous book as we get more of an insight into Harry’s life and what exactly makes him tick.

 

Last Witness by Carys Jones

The follow-up to Wrong Number is a high octane tale of revenge as the heroine of the story is determined to avenge the murder of her husband. Review will follow on May 7th as part of the book’s blog tour.

 

 

One That Got Away by Annabel Kantaria

A tale of how appearances can be deceiving and how we can never really know what goes on behind closed doors. Annabel’s previous book, The Disappearance, was one of my favourite books of 2016 and this one did not disappoint either. Review will follow closer to the publication date in September 2017.

51ETyWXR--L__SX323_BO1,204,203,200_The Redbreast by Jo Nesbo

The third of the Harry hole books sees Harry finally dealing with a case in his native Norway – a case which has strong links to World War Two. My favourite of the series so far.

Books I’ve Acquired

IMG_1072The foggy streets of London’s Whitechapel district have become a nocturnal hunting ground for Jack the Ripper, and no woman is safe. Flower girl Constance Piper is not immune to dread, but she is more preoccupied with her own strange experiences of late.

Clairvoyants seem to be everywhere these days. Constance’s mother has found comfort in contacting her late father in a séance. But are such powers real? And could Constance really be possessed of second sight? She longs for the wise counsel of her mentor and champion of the poor, Emily Tindall, but the kind missionary has gone missing.

Following the latest grisly discovery, Constance is contacted by a high-born lady of means who fears the victim may be her missing sister. She implores Constance to use her clairvoyance to help solve the crime, which the press is calling “the Whitechapel Mystery,” attributing the murder to the Ripper.

As Constance becomes embroiled in intrigue far more sinister than she could have imagined, assistance comes in a startling manner that profoundly challenges her assumptions about the nature of reality. She’ll need all the help she can get—because there may be more than one depraved killer out there…

 

51vmfJ4pJiLTHERE’S A NEW KILLER ON THE STREETS…
A woman is found murdered after an internet date. The marks left on her body show the police that they are dealing with a particularly vicious killer.

HE’S IN YOUR HOUSE… HE’S IN YOUR ROOM
Under pressure from the media to find the murderer, the force know there’s only one man for the job. But Harry Hole is reluctant to return to the place that almost took everything from him. Until he starts to suspect a connection between this killing and his one failed case.

HE’S OUT FOR BLOOD
When another victim is found, Harry realises he will need to put everything on the line if he’s to finally catch the one who got away.

 

Ava doesn’t believe it when the email arrives to say that her twin sister is dead. It’s not grief or denial that causes her scepticism – it just feels too perfect to be anything other than Zelda’s usual manipulative scheming. And Ava knows her twin. Two years after she left, vowing never to speak to Zelda again after the ultimate betrayal, Ava must return home to retrace her errant sister’s last steps. She soon finds notes that lead her on a twisted scavenger-hunt of her twin’s making. Letter by letter, Ava unearths clues to her sister’s disappearance: and unveils harrowing truths of her own. A is for Ava, and Z is for Zelda, but deciphering the letters in-between is not so simple…A clever, twisty, suspense novel for readers of The Ice Twins by S. K Tremayne and Reconstructing Amelia by Kimberley McCreight.

 

Two women. Two versions of the truth.

Kitty lives in a care home. She can’t speak properly, and she has no memory of the accident that put her here. At least that’s the story she’s sticking to.

Art teacher Alison looks fine on the surface. But the surface is a lie. When a job in a prison comes up she decides to take it – this is her chance to finally make things right.

But someone is watching Kitty and Alison.
Someone who wants revenge for what happened that sunny morning in May.
And only another life will do…

That’s it for another month. I’ve got a few great books on my TBR pile that I hope to read over the next few weeks, and don’t forget to join me on the blog tour for Last Witness by Carys Jones on May 7th when, as well as a review, I will be sharing an extract from the book.

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Redbreast by Jo Nesbo

Finding himself carrying out surveillance duties after being reassigned, Harry Hole is quite happy spending some time working alone. It is not long, though, before he discovers that a rare high-calibre rifle has been smuggled into the country – one that is favoured by assassins. When a former Nazi sympathiser is found with his throat cut, Harry wonders if there could be a connection between the two occurrences. As the body count rises, it soon becomes apparent that there is someone out there, determined to mete out their own brand of justice. Will Harry be able to find out who he is before more bodies are found?

The Redbreast is the third of Jo Nesbo’s Harry Hole series and is definitely my favourite so far. Indeed, Jo himself, in a recent Q&A session, declared that this is his favourite too. The start of the book is quite harrowing as we are taken back to the trenches of World War Two where a small group of Norwegian soldiers are fighting on the side of the Germans. This section of the book was, at times, a bit confusing but all is explained very clearly in the concluding chapters and is essential in understanding the rest of the plot.

Fast forward over fifty years, and Norway is dealing with a new enemy – the neo-Nazi. Harry and his colleagues must try to find out if there is a connection between the rise of this group and the Marklin rifle that has turned up in the country. Just who is the target of the alleged assassination plot and which of the ex-soldiers is the would-be assassin? From the outset, it was obvious that one of the soldiers mentioned in the opening chapters would be the guilty party but Nesbo has done a good job in throwing you off the scent until the very end.

As seems to be the theme of all of these early books, Harry, once again, has to endure a personal tragedy and so, inevitably turns to drink. Although this case was, to all intents and purposes, resolved, there was still a major part of it that was not – I am sure that this story line will rear its ugly head in one of the following books.

In all, a fascinating read that was a solid mystery story and one that also taught me some aspects of World War two that I did not know too much about.

 

An Evening With Jo Nesbo

This week, I was fortunate enough to attend an evening with the multi-million selling author Jo Nesbo. Celebrating the twentieth anniversary of his most famous creation, Harry Hole, Jo is currently embarking on a UK tour, promoting his latest book, The Thirst.

In an interview with Jake Kerridge, Jo recalled how Harry Hole first came into being. When asked to write about life on the road with his band, he decided that the old adage, ‘what goes on tour, stays on tour’ was true and so used the lengthy flight to Australia to plan out the first Harry novel, The Bat. His love for his native Oslo is apparent when he speaks and so it was not too long before his books were being set in the Norwegian capital. It could be argued that Harry Hole is now one of Norway’s biggest exports although he does, according to Jo, have a rival in the Norwegian cheese knife!

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His new book The Thirst is, literally, one of Harry’s most blood thirsty cases, dealing with clinical vampirism. A serial killer is stalking the dating app, Tinder, in order to find victims whose blood he can drink. When asked if he’d consulted convicted murderers to aid his research, Jo revealed that he had spoken to a couple but had never been able to use anything in his books. He also spoke about the end of the Harry Hole series which may come fairly soon.

One of the most interesting parts of the evening was when he discussed The Redbreast  his favourite self-written book. This book, set partly during World War Two, had some of its inspiration thanks to Jo’s father’s involvement in the war, fighting on the side of the Germans whilst his mother was part of the resistance in Norway.

One of the biggest laughs came as he talked about his pride in seeing strangers on aeroplanes reading his books, unaware that the author was sitting next to them. He also is known for signing people’s books when he spots them on an unattended sun lounger on the beach. I wonder how many people have been furious when discovering that someone had written on their book, unaware that it was actually Jo’s signature!

The Thirst is available to buy now.

 

Cockroaches by Jo Nesbo

CockroachesAfter his success in Australia, detective Harry Hole is summoned to Thailand to investigate the murder of  the Norwegian ambassador. Found in a seedy hotel, known to be frequented by prostitutes, the ambassador’s family are reluctant to talk and are clearly hiding some secrets of their own. When Harry finds some vital CCTV footage, only for the person who gave it to him disappear, he realises that there may be more to this case than meets the eye.

After being slightly disappointed with The Bat, but being assured that the series gets better, I read Cockroaches with a touch of trepidation. Although I know that this still isn’t one of Jo Nesbo’s most well-liked books, I did enjoy this one a lot more as, unlike the previous book, there was more plot and less filler. The book starts with Harry, again, being sent out to solve a murder in another country, this time one that has the potential to be politically sensitive – a strange appointment seeing as, after events of the previous book, Harry seems intent on drinking himself into oblivion! It is clear that Harry’s personality is starting to emerge and, as a result, I liked him much more than in The Bat.

Dealing with the seedier sides of Thailand, namely prostitution and paedophilia, Cockroaches is, at times, an unpleasant read, and is occasionally fairly graphic. These scenes are vital, however, in helping you to build up a true picture of the circumstances Harry finds himself in. I did find that the plot was occasionally hard to follow as I tried to remember how each character fitted in to the story. As a consequence, I was nowhere near working out who the guilty party was but was happy with the explanation.

Cockroaches is a big improvement on the previous book and I am looking forward to reading The Redbreast next.

 

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