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Bonnier Zaffre

17 Church Row by James Carol

Life has never been the same for the Rhodes family since the tragedy that occurred three years ago. In a devastating road accident, four-year-old Grace was killed, leaving her twin sister, Bella, so traumatised that she has refused to speak ever since. In an attempt to finally move on, Nikki and Ethan Rhodes move into a state-of-the-art new property, designed by the celebrated architect, Catriona Fisher. The house, with its ultra-modern security systems should be exactly what they are looking for, but what if it isn’t the safe place they think it is?

Well, this book has certainly given me pause for thought! From the start, I could understand the internal conflict felt by Nikki: should she stay at the house that holds so many memories of her dead daughter or should she move to 17 Church Row, a house that could surely protect her remaining child? As someone who has vowed to do whatever it takes to ensure the safety of Bella, the new property seemed a no-brainer and, for a while, all seemed fine. As the story progressed, it soon became apparent that there was a malevolent force in action, but who was behind it and what was their motive?

I think the scariest part of this book was that that the family became so reliant upon ‘Alice’ an artificial intelligence system that makes Alexa seem almost neanderthal. We see Alice making more and more decisions for the family, controlling their lives in every way, to the point where you wonder how far she will actually go. I found it quite unnerving to think that this sort of technology probably isn’t too far off in the future and how we rely upon the internet to do so many things already. What if this goes wrong? What will happen to society?

Most of the story is told from the perspective of Nikki, but some chapters are written by an unknown character who becomes more unhinged as the plot develops. I liked how we weren’t told who this is until much later in the book, making me constantly wonder who this could be. I have read numerous books with cold, calculating narrators but this is probably the one who has perturbed me the most.

17 Church Row is one of those books that draws you in instantly and holds your attention until the very last page. A fast-paced, exciting read that will certainly make you question the use of technology!

With thanks to Readers First for my copy.

 

Your Deepest Fear by David Jackson

Estranged from her husband, but hoping for a reconciliation, Sara Prior is devastated to hear his voice in a very disturbing voicemail. Racing to his home, she is sickened to find him dead, murdered in a particularly gruesome way. With the police struggling to find any leads, and concerned that she knows more about the death than she is saying, Sara soon finds herself part of a shady, unknown world – just how are these people connected to her husband’s death? Meanwhile, DS Nathan Cody is finding that his past is well and truly catching up with him when the case takes a very personal twist…

David Jackson’s Nathan Cody series is one of my favourites and I always eagerly anticipate the next book. The previous book in the series, Don’t Make a Sound, was by far my favourite book of last year and I was desperate to see how this one would compare. I can safely say that it is, yet again, an outstanding read and has left me desperate to know what happens next!

Nathan Cody has one of the best back stories of any fictional detective and, ever since reading A Tapping at My Door, I have been waiting for the moment when David Jackson decided to reveal more about the clowns. (Other readers of this series will know what I’m talking about!) Well, it’s finally happened – and what a brilliant story it is! As usual, Nathan is full of bravado, but, at times, I genuinely feared for his safety as his past came back to haunt him. I loved how this story merged with the police investigation and was quite surprised by some of the twists along the way.

Sara is a fascinating character and I admired the strength she displayed when faced with some truly horrible people. She is a very complex woman and I liked how, for much of the book, we were left wondering if Cody was right to show empathy towards her or whether the other officers’ assumptions about her were correct.

One of the things I enjoy the most about David Jackson’s books is the setting. Being from Liverpool, I love the attention to detail and feel that, despite the dark subject matter, the best of the city is always shown. Coincidentally, I found myself in Central Library the day before reading Your Deepest Fear, and this location plays a pivotal role in one part of the book. As I was reading, I could visualise the book titles engraved on the floor leading up to the main entrance and then the route Sara took whilst inside this magnificent building. If you have never visited this library, then I can definitely recommend it – a magnificent piece of architecture where modernity merges seamlessly with history.

If you have not read any of this series, I can thoroughly recommend it. Take a look at my reviews for the other books:

A Tapping at My Door

Hope to Die

Don’t Make a Sound

With thanks to Net Galley and Bonnier Zaffre for my ARC.

Murder Mile by Lynda La Plante

It’s 1979 and Jane Tennison has now risen to the rank of Detective Sergeant in Peckham CID. Strikes across Britain as part of the ‘Winter of Discontent’ have left rubbish mounding up on the streets and it is here where the body of a young woman is discovered, strangled. When a second body is found nearby, and then a third, days later, newspaper headlines are quick to decide that a serial killer is on the loose in what has now become known as ‘Murder Mile’. Fighting to overcome the sexism that is lingering in the police force, Jane knows that she needs to tread carefully if she is going to find the killer before any more bodies are discovered.

It is no secret that I am a huge fan of Lynda La Plante’s work and I still maintain that Jane Tennison is one of the best (if not the best) detectives in fiction. This is now the fourth book in the Tennison series and I feel that we are now seeing signs of the Jane that we know and love from the Prime Suspect series. Her promotion to Sergeant has given her a bit more gravitas and, even though she is still dealing with the sexist attitudes of much of the force, she is now in a position to make people sit up and take notice.

In Murder Mile, Lynda la Plante has encapsulated the unrest in Britain in the winter of 1978-79 when widespread strikes in the public sector helped lead the Conservative party, under the leadership of Margaret Thatcher, to victory in the 1979 general election. The attention to detail such as this helps to create a very realistic setting, painting a clear image of the investigation. I feel that this would easily transfer to television, and I hope that, one day, we get the chance to watch it!

In a time before a lot of the more modern detection techniques, it is good to see Jane having to rely on her own instincts to help her to solve the case. As she tried to make a connection between the victims, it was good to see Jane questioning the theories of her superiors, although her fear of not being taken seriously often led to her putting herself in danger.

Murder Mile is another great addition to the Tennison series and I can’t wait for the next one as we approach the 1980s!

With thanks to Bonnier Zaffre and Netgalley for my ARC.

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

Tennison

Hidden Killers

Good Friday

 

 

 

First to Die by Alex Caan

51vvx8RPkCL._SY346_When the body of a man is found the morning after a demonstration by a group of protesters known as Anonymous, Kate Riley and Zain Harris from the Police Crime Commissioner’s Office are called in to investigate. Discovering that the body is covered in strange pustules, fear strikes when it is revealed that the man could be a victim of a lethal virus; potentially, anyone who has come into contact with the victim could be a carrier. The body is soon identified as that of a senior civil servant with strong government connections. As another person goes missing, the race is on to find an antidote whilst also trying to discover the motive behind the attack.

With recent events in Salisbury, the idea of someone being infected with a potentially lethal virus is very topical, and it was this that drew me towards reading the book. I found the premise a fascinating one and enjoyed reading about the precautions that needed to be taken due to them not knowing what had caused the death. The descriptions of the body are graphic and helped to explain the need to ascertain exactly what happened before the public were informed.

The two lead characters, DCI Kate Riley and DS Zain Harris, are an intriguing pair and I liked how their investigation styles were very different yet complemented each other. I did find, however, that the plot of the book was often slowed down by the references to their back stories. Whereas I often find this useful, especially if you haven’t read the previous book in the series, here, I found it distracted me from the main plot. I felt that Kate’s back story, whilst obviously a fascinating one, was a bit of a ‘red herring’ in this book. I found myself wanting to know more about the mysterious character who was watching her, only to find that the story was not resolved in this book.

I did enjoy reading First to Die, but I definitely feel that this is one where I should have read the first in the series prior to reading this one.

With thanks to Zaffre and Readers First for my ARC.

 

**BLOG TOUR** 29 Seconds by T. M. Logan

29 SECONDSToday, I’m really pleased to be the latest stop on the blog tour for 29 Seconds by T. M. Logan. I’ve heard nothing but good things about this book so am pleased to be able to share an extract with you!

The Blurb

Give me one name. One person. And I will make them disappear . . .

When Sarah rescues a young girl in trouble, she expects nothing in return. But her act of bravery puts a powerful and dangerous man in her debt. He lives by his own brutal code, and all debts must be repaid – in the only way he knows how.

He offers Sarah a way to solve a desperate situation with her intolerable boss. A once-in-a-lifetime deal that will make all her problems disappear.

No consequences. No comeback. No chance of being found out.

All it takes is a 29 second phone call.

BECAUSE EVERYONE HAS A NAME TO GIVE. DON’T THEY?

 

The Extract

Sarah lay in Laura’s spare bed, exhausted and fuzzy-headed from red wine, but unable to sleep. Staring at the glowing red numbers of the clock radio on the bedside table as they clicked onwards, minute by minute.

3.09.

It still felt like a dream. All of it. The little girl, Aleksandra, the scarred man, Volkov and his unbelievable offer. It all seemed to belong to another life, a different person. Not her life. She wanted it to be a choice that someone else had to make, someone else’s problem to solve. She floated in that for a minute, halfway between sleep and wakefulness, hoping that it was all just a product of her imagination.

You give me one name. One person. And I will make them disappear.

But it wasn’t a dream. It was real. It was her life.

Her choice.

A choice between reason and passion. Between logic and emotion. And when had that ever been a fair fight?

She had not asked for more details, and she realised now that this had been a mistake. What did disappear even mean? It could mean all kinds of things. Was it that they were sent away, far away, and never came back? That they were threatened, to make them flee the life they knew, or face the consequences? Paid off and set up in a new life somewhere far away?

None of these options seemed very likely. Not as likely as the most obvious answer. The obvious answer being that they vanished . . . permanently.

She thought about the little phone Volkov had given her. Did it even have any charge?

She should turn it on and check, just in case. Bad idea. Because turning it on would mean she was another step closer to looking at the single number stored in its memory.

And then she’d just have to dial the number and say two words:

Alan Lovelock.

And her problems would vanish – if the offer was to be believed. Laura had nearly persuaded her, almost convinced her, that she should take Volkov’s offer – without even realising what she was saying. Almost, but not quite.

Sarah turned on the bedside light, reached down to her handbag, burrowed inside it until her hand closed around the smooth plastic shape of the mobile she’d been given.

What had he called it? A throwaway phone. She held it in her palm, the case cool to the touch. It was the only thing she had, the only evidence, that she had not imagined the whole encounter with Volkov – this little rectangle of black plastic was proof that it was real, that he was real, that his offer was real. She turned it over in her hand, feeling the weight of it. Just a few ounces. Nothing more.

She flipped the phone open.

Just switch it on. It probably hasn’t got any charge left anyway. Just switch it on to check.

Where’s the harm in that?

Her thumb hovered over the power button.

TM Logan
T. M. Logan

 

29 Seconds is pubished by Zaffre and is available now.

With thanks to Emily Burns for organising the blog tour.

 

**BLOG TOUR** The Bad Daughter by Joy Fielding

Today, I am pleased to be able to share with you an extract from Joy Fielding’s latest book, The Bad Daughter, which will be published on 27th February.

The Blurb

STRANGER. LIAR. KILLER?

YOU CANT TRUST THE BAD DAUGHTER . . .

Robin Davis hasn’t spoken to her family in six years.

Not since it happened.

Then they’re attacked; left fighting for their lives.

And Robin is back.

All families have their secrets.

And one of theirs may have put them all in terrible danger . . .

YOU CAN ALWAYS TRUST YOUR FAMILY . . . CAN’T YOU?

 

The Extract

Robin climbed out of the too hard queen-size bed and shuffled toward the bathroom. Why do all motel rooms look alike? she wondered. Is there some union rule that dictates they all be uninteresting rectangles in shades of beige and brown? Not that she was an expert in motel decor, having stayed in only a few over the years. She’d gone from her parents’ crowded house in Red Bluff to a dorm room at Berkeley, back to her parents’ house to work and earn money to continue her education, on to a small shared apartment off campus, then back and forth between Berkeley and Red Bluff to help care for her mother, then on to a cramped studio apartment in Los Angeles, and finally to the spacious two-bedroom unit she shared with Blake.

Blake, she thought, silently turning the name over on her tongue as she stepped into the tub. What must he be thinking? She turned on the faucet for the shower, then had to brace herself against the wall as a torrent of ice-cold water shot from the showerhead.

Blake would be furious with her.

She hadn’t called him since yesterday afternoon. Even then, she hadn’t spoken to him directly, but just left a message with his pretty new assistant to the effect that she had to go to Red Bluff to deal with a family emergency and she’d call him later. Then she’d canceled the week’s remaining appointments, gone home to pack a small suitcase, and taken a cab to the airport, where she’d boarded the first available flight to Sacramento, arriving at almost six o’clock in the evening. The bus to Red Bluff didn’t leave till the next morning, but the thought of renting a car and making the drive herself had proved too daunting, and in truth, she was in no hurry to get there. Instead she’d found a motel close to the bus terminal and checked in. She’d eschewed dinner, instead wolfing down a Three Musketeers bar she got from the vending machine down the hall.

She also resisted turning on the TV, hoping to avoid reports of the shooting. She could handle only so much information, process only so much. She really didn’t want to know every awful detail yet.

She thought about calling Blake again, but then remembered he’d said something about a dinner meeting with clients, so why bother? He was busy. He was always busy. Too busy to phone, obviously. Too busy to spare a few seconds to inquire as to what sort of family emergency would necessitate her taking off like that, to return to a place she’d sworn never to go back to. Would it have been so hard for him to interrupt one of his seemingly endless meetings to call her, to feign at least a modicum of interest?

So maybe he wouldn’t be furious that she hadn’t tried contacting him again. Maybe he’d be relieved. Maybe she’d finally handed him the ammunition he’d been waiting for to end their relationship once and for all.

Not that he could do anything to help the situation, she reminded herself. His specialty was corporate law, not criminal law. And it wasn’t as if he even knew her father. Or her sister. Or any member of her screwed-up family, except her brother, Alec, who lived in San Francisco, so they’d actually met only twice. She’d left a message for Alec, but he hadn’t called her back either. So screw both of them, she’d decided, turning off her cell phone and climbing into bed at barely eight o’clock.

Joy Fielding is the New York Times bestselling author of Charley’s Web, Heartstopper, Mad River Road, See Jane Run, and other acclaimed novels. She divides her time between Toronto and Palm Beach, Florida.

With thanks to Emily and Imogen at Bonnier Zaffre.

Don’t Make a Sound by David Jackson

To the outside world, Malcolm and Harriet Benson seem like a normal couple. A visit to their house, however, might tell a different story as one of the bedroom doors has bolts secured to the outside of it. Not to keep people out, but to keep someone in – a girl called Daisy. Forced to call them ‘Mummy’ and ‘Daddy’, Daisy hasn’t seen her real parents since she was abducted three years ago. Now the Bensons have decided they would like a second daughter…

It may only be January but I’m sure that this is going to be one of the contenders for my book of the year! I had been eagerly anticipating the third book in the Nathan Cody series so was thrilled when I was sent a proof of Don’t Make a Sound ahead of it’s publication in May. My only regret now is that I read it so quickly, I feel slightly bereft that I no longer have it to look forward to!

From the very start of the book, I felt a tremendous amount of sympathy for Daisy, the girl who has spent the past three years isolated in a soundproofed room after being abducted. Terrified of upsetting her new ‘parents’ and fearful of the punishments that are doled out by Malcolm, she has adapted to her surroundings yet yearns to leave her prison. Old and wise beyond her years, she takes on the role of protector when another girl, Poppy, is brought to the room. It was heartbreaking to see how Daisy immediately took the blame when Poppy did something that would displease the Bensons to prevent her from feeling the full force of Malcolm’s anger.

Malcolm Benson is a truly loathsome character. He feels he is giving the girls a caring, loving home yet ‘achieves’ this by locking them in a room with no natural light and being a bit handy with a belt. Of course, everything is not black or white and, when we find out something about his past, it does make you think of him in a different way. His wife, Harriet, is a traditional downtrodden wife, desperate for a child of her own and someone who is fully reliant upon her husband. I did wonder what would have become of their captives had anything happened to Malcolm.

In the previous books in the series, we found out a lot about Nathan Cody’s past and how it is still affecting his life today. Although this is referenced in Don’t Make a Sound, his story takes a back seat for much of the book, the focus being placed firmly on the Bensons. As the story progresses, though, we get to see more of Cody albeit not in the way we would have hoped. It is up to DC Webley to use her instinct to solve the case and we really see her come into her own in this book.

I love a book where the author throws in a curve ball towards the end and there is definitely one here! In a book where you have one opinion throughout, David Jackson has succeeded in making you question everything you have read. It is impossible to say any more without spoiling the plot, but it is safe to say that I’m sure that many readers will experience the same shock as I did. I even had to go back and read several pages again to let it all sink in!

This series is fast becoming one of my favourites and I can’t wait to see what happens next to Nathan Cody and finding out whether the clowns return…

With thanks to Emily at Bonnier Zaffre for my ARC.

See my reviews for the first two Nathan Cody books here:

A Tapping at My Door

Hope to Die

 

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

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

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

Corrie Jackson

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

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

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

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

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

 

Hope to Die by David Jackson

51BcZVVrpeL__SX324_BO1,204,203,200_It’s winter in Liverpool and the city is shocked when a woman is brutally attacked and murdered in the grounds of the world-renowned Anglican Cathedral. The victim, a local school teacher, seems to have led a perfect life… too perfect? This is the question DS Nathan Cody asks himself as he tries to unravel the motive behind what seems to be a completely unprovoked attack. Cody is also battling his own demons as an event from his past, once again, rears its ugly head, threatening his sanity. When the killer strikes again, the detective must try to hold it all together before more victims are found.

I was very late to the ‘Nathan Cody’ party, having only discovered David Jackson’s previous book, A Tapping at My Door, as a result of seeing so many bloggers rave about it. I, therefore, count myself lucky that I have not had to wait too long to read the sequel! Set, once again, in Liverpool, the author has used a mixture of real and fictional locations to create an atmospheric backdrop to a story about cold-blooded murder, childhood abuse and voyeurism. One location in particular, the entrance to St. James Cemetery (in the grounds of the Anglican Cathedral) evoked strong feelings for me personally, as I have passed through the tunnel on several occasions and each time have felt a feeling of uneasiness. After reading Hope to Die, those feelings will definitely be heightened! The title of the book is also very clever, Hope Street being the thoroughfare linking the two Liverpool cathedrals.

Hope to Die follows on from the previous book but it is not essential to have read it. It does, however, provide relevant information about the reason DC Webley is returning to work after a prolonged absence and also details the circumstances behind the PTSD that Cody is apparently suffering from. In this book, we see Cody becoming more and more on edge as events from earlier in his career come back to haunt him. These scenes are extremely well-written and, annoyingly, the author has left this particular story line hanging – ready to be picked up in the third book hopefully?! Without giving too much away, anyone with a clown phobia will be checking that their doors and windows are locked after reading this!

One of the things I really enjoyed about this book was that although we are dealing with a depraved killer, the author really has you sympathising with his plight as we discover his horrific upbringing. These interspersed chapters, written from the perspective of the killer as a young child, were incredibly emotional and, more than anything, I was willing someone to rescue him from his living nightmare. This was completely at odds with the rest of the book, where I hoped Cody would end his killing spree as quickly as possible!

Hope to Die is a well-written, action-packed book that you will not want to put down. A must read!

With thanks to Bonnier Zaffre and Net Galley for the ARC.

(Why not take a look at the piece I wrote about the setting of A Tapping at My Door, hosted on cleopatralovesbooks.wordpress.com)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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