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One Year Later by Sanjida Kay

A year ago, Amy lost her daughter Ruby-May in a terrible accident. With the anniversary of her death looming, the family decide to go on holiday, away from the scene of the incident, to a place where, they hope, they can begin to heal the rifts that have happened since their loss. It soon becomes apparent, however, that all is not quite what it seems and there is at least one person hiding something that could change their perception of what exactly happened one year ago. Just exactly who caused Ruby-May’s death and what other secrets have been concealed over the years?

The tone is set from the very start when what seems to be the body of a woman is discovered. For the majority of the book, this is not mentioned, leaving me wondering who is was and how it fit in with the tragic death of Ruby-May one year earlier. By the time this is, again, referenced, we are aware that there is, indeed, a lot more to Ruby-May’s death than we realised and there has been a huge cover up to stop the real guilty party from coming to light.

We read the story from the perspectives of Amy, Ruby-May’s mum, and Nick, the dead girl’s uncle. Their grief is portrayed in different ways and was definitely one of the strengths of the book. In Amy, we see real visceral grief, struggling to come to terms with the death of her youngest child while trying to keep going for the sake of her two other children. The scene where she realises how much she neglected them in the weeks following the death was truly heartbreaking, more so because of the way the children dealt with the terrible situation.

Nick displayed his grief in a different way as he has been carrying around the guilt of not being there when Ruby-May died. His head full of ‘what ifs’, it is understandable why he is intent on trying to heal his family’s rifts, even if his good intentions often result in more unrest.

While it is obvious that the official version of the accident is not correct, and that there has definitely been a conspiracy of silence, I did not predict the ending. This is one of those books where you realise that you have been drip fed information throughout the plot, and the ending is completely in-keeping with what you have read. The several references to Dante’s The Divine Comedy are also very apt, with salvation and repentance being running themes in both texts.

I really enjoyed One Year Later and I thank Readers First and Corvus Books for my copy.

Take a look at my review of My Mother’s Secret, one of Sanjida Kay’s earlier books.

 

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Child’s Play by Angela Marsons

When Detective Kim Stone arrives at the crime scene, she is not prepared for what she finds: a woman, tied to a child’s swing with barbed wire, the letter X carved into the back of her neck. It soon becomes apparent that the victim, Belinda Evans, a retired Professor of Child Psychology, had something to hide. Belinda’s home revealing a side of her that few seem to know about and a sister hardly forthcoming with information, Kim begins to wonder what the secret was that lead to her untimely death. When more bodies are found bearing the same markings, Kim and her team make the breakthrough that is needed – all were about to attend the same annual tournament for gifted children. With a list of potential suspects as long as her arm, Kim and her team must work quickly to prevent another death.

With Child’s Play being the eleventh book in the Kim Stones series, I am genuinely running out of superlatives to describe how fantastic these books are! With each new installment, I am left wondering how Angela Marsons keeps up such a high quality, but she does it with aplomb.

For me, the best thing about these books are the characters. I love the relationship between them and, over the years, I feel that I have come to know them very well. In Child’s Play, due to a directive from her superiors telling her not to overwork her team, we see a different side of Kim and her fellow officers, and this provided some laugh-out-loud moments as they struggled with their home lives due to them working more sociable hours! You could almost sense their relief when they had to stay at the tournament! New character ‘Tink’ is a breath of fresh air and I hope that we see more of her in forthcoming books – I can see some great scenes with Kim ahead!

I feel that this is the book where, despite not being part of the investigation, Penn cemented his place as part of the team. The sub-plot involving a potential wrongful arrest and imprisonment gave us the chance to get to know Penn better and I feel I have more of an understanding of this character now. In a book where there are particularly gruesome murders, the relationship he shares with his brother is a beautiful contrast. This part of the story also gave me my favourite moment – all I will say is, What would Billy do??!!

With thanks to Bookouture and Net Galley for providing me with yet another superb book from Angela Marsons.

The Leaden Heart by Chris Nickson

51UbsxvrAiL._SY346_It’s July 1899 and the crime rate in Leeds has been unusually low. This all changes when Superintendent Tom Harper receives word of a particularly daring burglary at one of the city’s more expensive residences. Meanwhile, his ex-colleague, Billy Reed, is seeking some assistance after the suicide of his brother who was facing an extortionate rent increase. Investigation uncovers a web of corruption involving some of the area’s influential residents. Who are the ringleaders and will Harper be able to apprehend them before the death toll rises?

I’ve always enjoyed reading historical crime fiction, particularly those books set during the Victorian era. In the Tom Harper series, we are now reaching the end of the nineteenth century, a time which has seen great changes for the Leeds detectives. As in all of his books, Chris Nickson has created a very vivid picture of the time, creating characters that feel real and who you can certainly feel empathy for. Again, we see Tom’s wife, Annabelle, taking a central role in the plot, her new position as poor law guardian giving her a platform to help those unable to help themselves. Annabelle has always been my favourite character, her ongoing fight for women’s equality being a great theme running throughout the books. With her daughter, Mary, seemingly being a chip off the old block, I think we are in for some entertaining times ahead!

It was pleasing to see Tom and his old friend Billy attempting to build bridges as they investigated the reason behind the suicide of Billy’s brother. Although this was set over a hundred years ago, the story is all too familiar to many people nowadays with those in power preying upon the poor and less fortunate. It was easy to imagine Harper’s frustration as he faced brick walls when trying to uncover the identities of those involved, especially seeing as he was desperate to close the case for the sake of Billy. The crooks doing the dirty work, the Smith brothers, are a particularly nasty pair, leaving a trail of death and destruction wherever they go. I spent the whole book willing for their capture!

If you are new to the Tom Harper books, please don’t be put off by the fact that this is the seventh book in the series as it can definitely be read as a standalone. This is, without a shadow of a doubt, my favourite so far, and I eagerly anticipate what the next installment brings for Tom, Annabelle and the rest of the characters we have grown to love.

With thanks to Severn House Publishers and Net Galley for my copy.

 

**BLOG TOUR** The Body in the Mist by Nick Louth

I really enjoyed the previous book in this series, The Body on the Shore, so I am pleased to be able to share an extract from the latest DCI Craig Gillard book, The Body in the Mist. This is another fantastic book and my review can be read here.

A body is found on a quiet lane in Exmoor, victim of a hit and run. He has no ID, no wallet, no phone, and – after being dragged along the road – no recognisable face. Meanwhile, fresh from his last case, DCI Craig Gillard is unexpectedly called away to Devon on family business. Gillard is soon embroiled when the car in question is traced to his aunt. As he delves deeper, a dark mystery reveals itself, haunted by family secrets, with repercussions Gillard could never have imagined. The past has never been deadlier.

 

 

After being woken at seven by Napoleon scratching at the door, Gillard and Sam were lured downstairs by the smell of bacon. Trish watched them each consume a full cooked breakfast, but ate nothing herself.

‘I’ve got a small errand to run, then I’ll go and make friends with the local constabulary to find out what they know about the hit-and-run,’ Gillard said. ‘I’m sure I’ll be about as welcome as an outbreak of the plague, so don’t expect too much.’

‘I’m sure you’ll be able to straighten it out, dear.’

Gillard had to wait 45 minutes at reception at Barnstaple police station for Detective Inspector Jan Talantire. He had already looked her up on the Devon and Cornwall Constabulary website, so recognized her immediately as she walked in. If he had not done so, he would have pigeonholed her as a mid-ranking business executive in her late thirties: expensively coiffed, in a smartly cut white blouse, black trouser suit and houndstooth jacket. He knew from what Sam had told him how much those highlight hairdos cost. Talantire was on the phone, but had instantly eyed Gillard and turned her back to shield her confidentiality. After keeping Gillard waiting another five frustrating minutes, she hung up, turned and offered a brief but firm handshake. ‘Thanks for the email, Craig, if I may call you that. There were some good questions. But come on, you’re experienced, you know the score. Given your links to the Antrobus family, I can’t share any of our thinking about this case so long as there is the slightest uncertainty about who drove that vehicle.’

‘I understand perfectly,’ Gillard said. ‘I’m not here to make life difficult, but if I can help in any way, I’m available. You’ve got my contact details.’

She smiled. A keen intelligence shone in her brown eyes ‘We could always do with more hands on deck, just not from you, or on this particular case.’ She paused, and he felt her scrutinizing him. ‘I looked you up. Quite an impressive track record. Solved the Martin Knight murder case. Must have been tricky, given your connection to Mrs Knight.’

‘It was.’ Gillard immediately realized what a sharp brain this woman had. Picking the only other case in which he had a conflict of interest, asking around enough to discover something not mentioned in any of the official reports.

At that moment a young uniformed constable emerged from the door and called out to her. ‘Forensics called, ma’am.’ He waved a piece of paper. ‘We’ve got a match for the fingerprints on the can. Bit of a likely boy—’

‘Willow, zip it,’ Talantire said, flicking her fingers away from her to indicate the young constable should return through the door he’d so foolishly entered by. She excused herself to Gillard, then followed the PC, closing the door behind them.

* * *

Talantire was furious. She snatched the piece of paper from Willow’s hand and quickly scanned it. These were the results she’d been awaiting. Half a dozen different sets of prints from inside the vehicle, one matching the owner, one matching a known local bad boy. She looked up at the PC, then pointed a thumb over her shoulder, through the now closed door. ‘Do you know who that is?’

‘Yes, he introduced himself earlier, a Detective Chief Inspector…’ The constable screwed his face up trying to remember the name.

Talantire helped him out. ‘Craig Gillard, from Surrey.’

‘That’s the one. I saw him up at the crime scene this morning. He was quite helpful.’

‘The crime scene! Clifford,’ she said, gripping the constable by the shoulders, ‘that detective is the nephew of Barbara Antrobus.’

‘Is he? Is that why he’s come all the way down here?’

Talantire nodded, waiting while the cogs in Willow’s brain slowly turned. She found herself fervently wishing that Avon Police up in Bristol would hurry up and allocate the promised two detective constables to help her while DS Charmaine Stafford was on maternity leave. ‘Did he cross the crime tape? If he did, I’ll bloody nail him.’

‘No, we chatted outside the cordon.’

‘You chatted, did you? So what did he want to know?’

‘Just about where the body was, what condition he was in. He asked whether we had done fingerprints on the car, tyre analysis, and established whether the locks had been forced.’

‘I hope you didn’t answer any of those questions.’

The constable looked sheepish. ‘I didn’t see any reason not to. He showed me his card, mentioned your name, so I thought he was part of the investigation.’

Stupid boy. ‘Willow, from now on, do not tell him anything. On principle, okay? If it turns out that Barbara Antrobus was the hit-and-run driver, you might well have compromised any chance we have of getting a clean case to the Crown Prosecution Service.’

‘But we got all the fingerprint results through. And the fingerprints from the can in the car, they match Micky Tuffin. That’s what I was telling you—’

‘And broadcasting to everyone sitting in reception,’ she said.

‘He’s a bad ’un, Micky Tuffin,’ Willow said. ‘Regular car thief. Right from school.’

‘Your school?’

‘My year, my class. I know all about him. I had the desk in front.’

She rolled her eyes. ‘For God’s sake.’ She leaned back against the door, momentarily closing her eyes. ‘Okay, thanks for letting me know. Was he a friend?’

‘You’re kidding,’ Willow said, grinning. ‘I hated him. We had a punch-up during year nine.’

‘All right, to be squeaky clean, I’m still going to have to keep you away from that side of the investigation. Christ, another conflict of interest. Confine yourself to dealing with the leads that come in on the victim. Keep off the driver side of the investigation.’

Angry now, Talantire dismissed the young constable, turned on her heel and went out to confront Gillard.

He was nowhere to be seen.

The Body in the Mist was published by Canelo on 20th May.

With thanks to Nick Louth & Canelo and to Ellie Pilcher for organising the blog tour.

 

 

 

The Body in the Mist by Nick Louth

The body of a man is found on a quiet Exmoor Lane, seemingly the victim of a hit and run. With no clues to his identity and a severely damaged face, the police are finding it impossible to identify the deceased. Meanwhile, DCI Craig Gillard is called away to Devon on family business and finds himself embroiled in the case when the car involved in the hit and run is traced back to his aunt. As he digs deeper, Craig starts to uncover long-hidden family secrets which will have serious repercussions for his whole family…

There are dysfunctional families and then there is Craig Gillard’s family! Summoned to help his aunt when she is linked to the hit and run, he soon finds that there is much more to her story than meets the eye. I admired Craig’s integrity when he found himself in an extremely difficult position, even if the local police force were not initially enamoured with his desire to help. Craig’s family are not likeable at all and it was satisfying to see the stance he took when trying to uncover the truth.

It is hard not to feel sympathy for Craig as, slowly, more and more secrets are revealed about his family, none of them positive. It is a wonder he is as normal as he is as we discover the crimes and misdemeanors that have been taking place in his family for decades. One of these crimes, a cold case which Craig decides to investigate, was my favourite part of the plot and I was very pleased with its outcome. I felt really sorry for Craig’s wife who supports him throughout the book, not knowing what secrets he, himself, is hiding.

Sometimes you read a book and start to visualise what it would look like on TV and this was definitely the case for me with The Body in the Mist. This book really does have everything – a modern-day police investigation, a cold case, heinous family secrets and a criminal trial – and I could quite easily see this as a mini-series. I, for one, would be gripped!

Although this is the third in the series, it can be read as a standalone so it is not essential to have read the previous two. I have read the previous book, The Body on the Shore, and whilst I really enjoyed that one, The Body in the Mist really is something special. Just when I thought the book had reached its conclusion, the twist at the end truly made me gasp – it will be interesting to see what happens in book 4 as a result of this revelation!

If you haven’t read any of this series yet, you won’t go far wrong by starting with The Body in the Mist. One of my favourite reads of the year so far.

With thanks to Canelo and Net Galley for my ARC. If my review has made you curious, stay tuned to my blog as on May 27th, as part of the blog, tour, I have a great extract to share with you.

 

 

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.

Their Little Secret by Mark Billingham

To the outside world, Sarah is just a normal single mum, juggling her home and work life like the other mums in her circle. She craves more though, something that will excite her. Meanwhile, DI Tom Thorne is investigating the death of a woman who, although appearing to have committed suicide, seems to be have been driven to it by a man who preys on vulnerable women. A man who Sarah is about to become acquainted with…

I have been a huge fan of Mark Billingham for many years, ever since reading Sleepy Head, the first Tom Thorne novel. Now, eighteen years later, Their Little Secret is the sixteenth Thorne book in a series that is showing no signs of losing its touch!

What we have in Their Little Secret is an incredibly clever plot. Sarah, to all intents and purposes, is a normal mum, her life revolving around her son, Jamie. There are a few little hints that she is hiding something but I was not prepared for what exactly this was! I loved the way the author developed her character to the point where I found my opinion of her at the end of the book was completely different to what I felt about her at the start!

Thorne’s experience really comes through in this book when he gets a hunch that there is more to the suicide of a woman than meets the eye. Not being able to explain what it is, and with his colleagues including Nicola Tanner less than interested, he is vindicated when the suicide case leads him to a seasoned conman and murder. Thorne is a great detective and I always feel that he comes across as a very real character. His relationship with his best pal, Phil Hendricks, is always a highlight in these books and there are certainly some great moments here.

Their Little Secret is a masterclass in how destructive relationships can be and how we don’t always know someone as well as we think we do. With several twists along the way, this was one of those books that I did not want to put down, reading it in a day. I think this may have become one of my favourite Thorne books and if this is a series you haven’t yet read, I can recommend all sixteen!

With thanks to Little, Brown Book Group and Net Galley for my ARC.

 

Death at Hungerford Stairs by J C Briggs

When the body of a young boy is found at Hungerford Stairs close to the River Thames, Charles Dickens is relieved to find that is not the missing child he has been searching for. Presumed drowned, Superintendent Jones of Bow Street soon has a murder case on his hands when a different cause of death is discovered. After more bodies are found, the detective’s worst fears are realised – they have a serial killer on their hands.

Death at Hungerford Stairs is the second book to feature the author Charles Dickens as one of the main characters, the first being The Murder of Patience BrookeIn the previous book, I was particularly impressed with how the author managed to paint a vivid picture of early-Victorian London, especially the more downtrodden areas. This has continued in the second book, making you feel that you are actually walking the London streets.

I like, again, how the author has merged fact with fiction, with true aspects of Dickens’ life providing an air of authenticity to the plot. Dickens is written as a generous man, keen to help the underprivileged and the down at heel, the references to his early life possibly providing a reason for his benevolence. There is a rich supporting cast, providing some tragic as well as some humorous moments.

The hunt for a child killer could be a difficult subject matter, but the author handles it in an informative yet sensitive way, culminating in a very different motive and culprit to most books of this genre. Although there were a few hints dropped throughout the book, the ending was still a surprise – a clever one at that.

I’m definitely looking forward to reading the next in the series.

Twisted by Steve Cavanagh

Usually when I write a review, I start with a brief synopsis of the plot, ensuring that I don’t give anything away. This review is going to be very different however, as I feel that the best way to read Twisted is to go into it completely blind like I did, as any discussion of the plot will inevitably spoil your enjoyment of what is a truly brilliant book.

Ever since reading Steve Cavangh’s previous book, Thirteen, the fourth in the Eddie Flynn series, I could not wait to read Twisted, especially seeing as it is a standalone. My interest was certainly piqued when I read the book’s blurb:

BEFORE YOU READ THIS BOOK
I WANT YOU TO KNOW THREE THINGS:

1. The police are looking to charge me with murder.
2. No one knows who I am. Or how I did it.
3. If you think you’ve found me. I’m coming for you next.

After you’ve read this book, you’ll know: the truth is far more twisted…

Straight away, I was hooked. We know that the person referred to in the blurb is the mysterious J. T. Lebeau, a highly successful thriller writer who has chosen to remain anonymous. This fact, and the blurb, is the only information I am prepared to give other than to say that I don’t think I have ever read a book with such an apt title! Twists are delivered one after the other, most of which I did not see coming at all. Despite the complicated plot, never once did I feel confused as Steve Cavanagh has made it addictive and easy to follow.

If you are looking for a book to keep you awake until the wee small hours, a book that makes you want to read ‘just one more page’, then Twisted is the book you are looking for. I am sure that this is going to be one of my favourite reads of the year and looks like being a huge success for the author.

With thanks to Net Galley and Orion for my ARC.

Can I also recommend the Two Crime Writers and a Microphone podcast, presented by Steve Cavanagh and fellow crime writer Luca Veste – a highly entertaining take on the world of crime fiction.

 

 

 

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