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The Scent of Death

Monthly Roundup – February 2019

February may be a short month but I’ve managed to read some books that I’m sure are going to feature on my ‘favourites of 2019’ list. It’s also been the month when I’ve been able to share my reviews of some of the books that I read a while ago due to them being part of their respective blog tours.

The Last by Hanna Jameson was a book that I read at the end of last year. I’d read so many good things about this book on social media that I was really pleased to be given the opportunity to take part in the blog tour. This dystopian murder-mystery certainly lived up to my expectations.

 

 

I also shared a review of Remember Me by D. E. White as part of the blog tour. Set in Wales, this story of a deranged serial killer was a great read with plenty of sub-plots that all tied together nicely.

 

 

One of my favourite series of recent years has definitely been Sarah Flint’s Charlie Stafford series. I was pleased to share an extract from Mummy’s Favourite, the first in the series, which has just been published in paperback after previously being available as an ebook.

 

 

Another series I am really enjoying is the DI Kelly Porter books by Rachel Lynch. I shared a review of Bitter Edge as part of the blog tour, another brilliant read set in the Lake District.

 

 

 

I was also on the blog tour for The Scent of Death by Simon Beckett. This is the sixth in the series and I can’t believe I have never read any of the others! This will definitely be rectified as I really enjoyed reading about the forensics expert.

 

 

The Good Friend by Jo Baldwin was another great read that featured my review as part of the blog tour. Set in the Languedoc lavender fields, it asks the question: Do we really know those closest to us?

 

 

I was also pleased to share an extract from Death Will Find Me by Vanessa Robertson, a historical crime novel set in Scotland in 1920.

 

 

 

I also took part in a cover reveal for The Family by P. R. Black. The cover and the synopsis have definitely whetted my appetite for the book and I will be featuring a review as part of the blog tour soon.

 

 

I recently finished reading Critical Incidents by Lucie Whitehouse, the first in a new series about Robin Lyons who has been dismissed from her role as a Met detective. A review will be published nearer publication date.

 

I also read three of the books that I had been waiting to read: The Stone Circle by Elly GriffithsOn My Life by Angela Clarke and Dead Memories by Angela Marsons. Like many other bloggers, I enjoyed each of these books immensely and cannot recommend them enough!

 

Books I Have Acquired

In a rural English village in the middle of a snowstorm, the unthinkable happens: the school is under siege.

From the wounded headmaster barricaded in the library, to teenage Hannah in love for the first time, to the pregnant police psychologist who must identify the gunmen, to the terrified 8-year-old Syrian refugee, to the kids sheltering in the school theatre still rehearsing Macbeth, all must find the courage to stand up to evil and try to save the people they love . . .

In an intense exploration of fear and violence, courage and redemption, Rosamund Lupton takes us deep into the heart of human experience.

 

Whitehall Palace, England, 1539

When Catherine Howard arrives at the court of King Henry VIII to be a maid of honour in the household of the new queen, Anne of Cleves, she has no idea of the fate that awaits her.

Catching the king’s fancy, she finds herself caught up in her uncle’s ambition to get a Howard heir to the throne.

Terrified by the ageing king after the fate that befell her cousin, Anne Boleyn, Catherine begins to fear for her life…

Pembrokeshire, Wales, 2018

Dr Perdita Rivers receives news of the death of her estranged grandmother, renowned Tudor historian Mary Fitzroy.

Mary inexplicably cut all contact with Perdita and her twin sister, Piper, but she has left them Marquess House, her vast estate in Pembrokeshire.

Perdita sets out to unravel their grandmother’s motives for abandoning them, and is drawn into the mystery of an ancient document in the archives of Marquess House, a collection of letters and diaries claiming the records of Catherine Howard’s execution were falsified…

What truths are hiding in Marquess House? What really happened to Catherine Howard?
And how was Perdita’s grandmother connected to it all?

 

‘She lifted the flap of the envelope and pulled out the single white page. As she opened it up she stared, open mouthed. Four words were typed on the page. I am watching you.’

When Amy Whyte and Penny Brogan leave a local nightclub in the early hours of Sunday morning and don’t arrive home, their families are beside themselves with worry. Conor Dowling has just been released from prison, a man full of hatred for Amy, the girl who put him behind bars in the first place.

The case is given to Detective Lottie Parker, when the girls’ blood-soaked bodies are found, days later, in a derelict squat. Chillingly, both girls are clutching silver coins in their hands – what message is this killer leaving behind? All the signs point to Conor but his alibi is water tight.

As Lottie examines Penny and Amy’s final days alive in a desperate search for clues, two more girls are found stabbed to death in a luxury apartment complex. Caught up in what is fast becoming her toughest case yet, Lottie is unaware that somebody is watching her every move.

Then Lottie’s two daughters, Katie and Chloe suddenly disappear from the town centre. Terrified that the killer has her girls, the stakes have never been higher for Lottie.

But as Lottie puts everything on the line to find her daughters and solve the case, she’s about to find herself in terrible danger – someone has a personal axe to grind with her and they know the best way to get to her is to hurt the ones she loves the most.

So, a busy February! Here’s to a great March!

 

 

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**BLOG TOUR** The Scent of Death by Simon Beckett

51gI3FlDJxLToday, I am pleased to be the first stop on the blog tour for The Scent of Death, the latest in Simon Beckett’s David Hunter series. As well as my review, I am thrilled to be able to share an article from the author, explaining how the book came to be.

Over to Simon…

The Scent of Death

Sooner or later, everything comes home to roost. That was in my mind when I sat down to write The Scent of Death, the sixth novel to feature British forensic anthropologist David Hunter. Without giving away any spoilers, in some of the previous novels I’d deliberately left some plot threads dangling. Partly because… well, I like the sense that not everything is tied up in a neat bow at the end of a book. Life isn’t like that.

But I also wanted to return to them at some point, to show how these events from the past continued to resonate in Hunter’s present. The question was how to go about it? I’d originally intended to tie-up these floating ends sooner, but novels tend to have a mind of their own. Plot developments can’t just be shoehorned in. They have to develop naturally, or at least seem to.

Another consideration was that The Scent of Death also had to work as a standalone. I didn’t want a story that only made sense to anyone who’d already read the other books. I wanted new readers to be able to jump right in, without slowing down the narrative with tons of exposition.

Easier said than done.

Writing crime thrillers is a lot about misdirection. A little bit like a stage magician, the aim is to keep the audience distracted until it’s time for the big reveal. That isn’t easy at the best of times, and even less so in a series, where readers have become familiar with both the main character and the author’s bag of tricks. So, in order for this to work, I had to wait for the right story, and the right moment.

By the time I came to write the fifth Hunter novel, The Restless Dead, I was confident I’d found it. The end of that book – don’t worry, still no spoilers – raised the possibility of a return for an old nemesis from Hunter’s past. Only the possibility, mind, because I wanted to keep readers guessing. But the timing felt right, and I knew that opening that particular door would set the stage nicely for the next book.

Of course, the drawback with trying to be clever is that you then have to deliver. Hopefully, that’s what The Scent of Death does. Instead of having Hunter travel to some isolated rural location as in the previous novels, I’ve kept him in London, in what at first seems to be familiar territory (the key words here being at first). The gothic shell of St Jude’s is the sort of place that’s become all too common in the UK, an abandoned hospital standing empty as it waits for the developers’ bulldozers.

Except that these boarded-up windows, echoing corridors, and shadowy wards prove to be hiding all manner of secrets. And, as Hunter discovers, not all of St Jude’s occupants have actually left…

It was a pleasure to write and, I hope, to read as well. Just remember that for misdirection to work, the audience shouldn’t realise that they’re being distracted, or what they’re being distracted from.

Over to you.

Simon Beckett, January 31st 2019.

When the partially mummified body of a pregnant woman is discovered in the attic in an old hospital, forensics expert Dr David Hunter is called upon to aid in the investigation. The case takes a turn for the strange when a floor collapse reveals a hidden room and the bodies of another two people, still in their beds. With St. Jude’s hospital earmarked for development and a group of local protesters determined to thwart the venture, the pressure is on to uncover the truth of what really happened.

From the very start, The Scent of Death grabbed my attention and held it right until the very end. It was very easy to picture St. Jude’s, the description evoking images of a dark, dank, cavernous building with secrets waiting to be uncovered. The floor collapse helped to provide a few heart-in-the-mouth moments in an already tense situation and the discovery of the bodies certainly ramped up the the tension even more.

Although we don’t really get to see much of his personality, I really liked Hunter and admired the dedication he showed to his work. It was for this reason that I felt sorry for the forensic anthropologist who, as part of the investigation from the start, found himself partially sidelined after the hidden room was discovered. Mears, the forensic taphonomist brought in to work the case was a thoroughly unlikable character and I could empathise with the contempt Hunter showed towards him.

The Scent of Death has a very tight plot where everything ties together really well. I love a book where, all of a sudden, everything falls into place and you realise the brilliance of everything you’ve read – this definitely happened here. There was one part of the subplot that I deduced quite early on but, other than that, Simon Beckett kept me waiting until the very end before I worked out who the killer was and the clever motive behind it.

I found Hunter’s job fascinating and enjoyed the scenes where he was at work analysing the skeletal remains of the victims. I can certainly see this series being a huge hit on television and was pleased to read that it is currently in development with Cuba Pictures and Nadcon.

The Scent of Death is the sixth David Hunter book and if, like me, you haven’t read the first five, then don’t worry as this can be read as a standalone. I admit to not having any knowledge of this series until I read this one but I will definitely be rectifying this by reading the others as I enjoyed it so much!

With thanks to Hayley Barnes and Penguin Random House for my proof and to Simon Beckett for the fantastic post.

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