December 17

Jacqueline Chadwick

When drawing up my list of favourite books of 2017 I knew that Jacqueline Chadwick was going to feature.  I knew that from half-way through her debut novel In The Still.

There was actually only one point where I contemplated not including In The Still in the list and that was when I finished her second book: Briefly Maiden (how to choose between two cracking reads?)

It has been far too long since I had the opportunity to chat with any of the authors who have featured on my blog so I was thrilled that Jackie agreed to join me for a natter about her writing and all things Ali Dalglish…

 

First Question is never a question — this is where I ask you to introduce yourself and give your books a plug.

Well, first and foremost, I’m a mother of two, wife of a firefighter and a dog lover. I’m originally from Stirling in Scotland and I grew up in Birmingham England. I was a child actor and during my career I played a couple of well known bitch roles on TV. I left acting when I was 25, homeschooled my kids and found some time for writing here and there. When I turned 40, I bought a secondhand desk and decided to write novels. I haven’t looked back since.

Published by Fahrenheit Press in July 2017, my debut novel is In The Still where we meet Ali Dalglish living a life she resents. Having stepped away from her career and having immigrated to Canada, Ali’s marriage is crumbling, she is lonely and depressed. When the body of a young woman is discovered on a trail near her home, Ali finds herself embroiled in the case and, given her expertise and experience, is left with no option but to embark upon the hunt for the killer alongside her accidental sidekick, the loveable Marlene McKean. It is a dark and twisted tale and I hope it entertains the reader from the first page to the last.

Briefly Maiden, the sequel to In The Still, is also published by Fahrenheit Press and finds Ali back in the role she loves. This time she is working alongside the Vancouver Island Integrated Major Incident Squad investigating a series of murders in the otherwise charming town of Cedar River. Ali and her partner, Inspector Rey Cuzzocrea, discover the victims are all linked to a paedophile ring and, as a result, the line dividing good and bad becomes blurred as they are tasked with apprehending a perpetrator they suspect to be a victim intent upon vigilante justice. There is a blossoming romance for recently divorced Ali, the introduction of a couple of key characters in the series and an ending that should leave the reader eager for book 3.

 

Tell us about Ali Dalglish – how would you describe her to someone yet to read In The Still and Briefly Maiden?

Ali Dalglish is bloody fantastic. She’s intelligent, funny, caring and driven by a need to protect the vulnerable. She’s Scottish, mouthy and not afraid to pepper her superior vocabulary with inventive swear words. Her marriage is a disaster, she frequently struggles to maintain a healthy work/life balance. She has fought — and continues to fight — a long, arduous battle with severe mental illness. Ali is the kind of woman we all either want to be or want by our side. She’s forthright and takes no shit, she refuses to be bracketed, objectified or intimidated and she is blessed with a mind that makes her a formidable foe to anyone daring enough to wander into her arena.

 

How much of Jacqueline Chadwick is mirrored in Ali?

Too much. I swear as much and fit into polite society just as well as she does. I suppose Ali is my way of ranting about everything that pisses me off. She’s a gazillion times more learned than I (I know that because of everything I have to research just to fit her wealth of knowledge as seamlessly as possible into her dialogue and also because I use words like gazillion).

 

We know that Ali had a very successful career in the UK prior to her decision to relocate to Canada – is there any chance we may one day see a story featuring a younger Ali – one based in the UK?

Ha! I’m writing book 4 in the series right now. It is set in Britain, but it’s not a prequel. Over the course of the series, I’m excited to drop in morsels of information about Ali’s past since it was less than functional and, perhaps, not dissimilar to the kind of childhood that could just as easily have set her on a darker path, the kind of path chosen by the predators she hunts. The great thing about having a character that had established herself professionally in Britain and then later in Canada, is that I am able to cross the pond to write and that is a satisfying and more affordable alternative to actually jumping on a flight myself whenever I’m homesick.

 

I need to ask about the old day jobs…how does appearing in two of the UK’s most watched TV shows prepare you for writing dark and gritty crime thrillers? 

I’m having a giggle as I answer that one because being in British soap was no preparation whatsoever for anything at all in life. Wow, that was a weird trip. I can’t imagine what it would take to stay sane in that industry longterm. I stuck it out for a decade and a half but I just wasn’t the kind of puppet an actor is expected to be. I’m not very good at shutting my mouth and being what someone else tells me to be. It’s simply not in my nature and I never did feel very comfortable with it all. Honestly, I barely remember that time now, it’s just something I did as a child and as a young woman. I would have nightmares — actual wake-up-sweating-and-shaking nightmares — for the first few years after I left because I’d dream of being back in front of the camera. Give me a quiet room, some paper and a pen and I’m me.

 

Can I ask about your “Path to Publication”? (it gets capitals). Does Chez Chadwick have a drawer crammed full of rejection letters or did you ace it and get picked up in record time?

I’ve had a few false starts in writing. It has always been my goal to write for a living and so I do have a healthy amount of rejection slips although I’d never keep the buggers so, no, there isn’t a drawer stuffed with them. Rejections get deleted or binned as soon as they are received so that I can go on deluding myself into thinking I have something to offer. I was lucky with Ali Dalglish, I wrote the first three novels in the series before I let anyone read them and I sent them off to the publisher who terrified me most and felt out of reach: Chris McVeigh at Fahrenheit Press. I knew that if my work was shit, he’d tell me. Thankfully, he liked the books (all except the original ending to In The Still which he told me, in his own inimitable way, to scrap) and I’ve been lucky enough to join the Fahrenheit Press family and get on that particular thrill ride.

 

Rumour has it that there may be a third Ali Dalglish book on the horizon — can you share any sneaky hints?

I Loooove book 3 in the series. It’s called Silent Sisters and it addresses a problem I care about very much. It takes place in and around an Aboriginal reserve on Vancouver Island and, I hope, will bring attention to the very real issue of missing and murdered Aboriginal women and girls and the indifference the subject seems to inspire in political leaders. But there are two major elements to the story and so it satisfies the insatiable itch that Briefly Maiden left me with. It is gruesome and dark, twisted and grim because, in my humble opinion, murder and abuse should be nothing but those things, we should feel sickened and touched by the telling of stories that, no matter how bleak, are nothing close to the horrors of the real world.

 

And to wrap up, some quickfire questions:

What was the last book you read?

I reread ‘It’ by Stephen King after I went to see the movie (I forgot how long that sucker is).

 

City Break or Beach Holiday?  (and where is the dream destination)

Definitely city, I would love to take my family on a European tour before they’re so grown that it would be sad to go away for a month with Mum and Dad.

 

Did you ever get “star-struck” when meeting someone famous?

I’ve been to two Billy Connelly concerts and finding myself in the same room as ‘the big yin’ takes some beating.

 

Favourite pizza topping (and be warned that answering ‘pineapple’ will probably spark some twitter carnage)

I’m like Kevin in Home Alone; I want a plain cheese just for me.

 

What do you miss most about the UK?

Irn Bru, tattie scones, square sausage, not having to explain my humour and Sunday lunch over a pint in a proper pub.

 

Huge thanks to Jackie for taking time to answer my questions. I don’t have the words to tell you how much I have enjoyed her books and it is a real thrill to be able to share our chat.

In The Still and Briefly Maiden are published by Fahrenheit Press and you can order both books here: https://www.amazon.co.uk/Jacqueline-Chadwick/e/B074JCXLRD/ref=sr_ntt_srch_lnk_1?qid=1513554879&sr=8-1

 

 

 

 

 

Category: From The Bookshelf, Guests | Comments Off on Jacqueline Chadwick
December 17

Scorched Shadows – Steve McHugh

In the final chapter of the Hellequin Chronicles, secrets will be revealed, friendships tested, and destinies fulfilled.

Avalon is under siege. A shadowy cabal, headed by a mysterious figure known only as “My Liege,” has launched a series of deadly attacks across the globe, catching innocent human bystanders in the crossfire.

Emerging from the debris of battle, Nate Garrett, the sixteen-hundred-year-old sorcerer also called Hellequin, and his friends must stop My Liege once and for all. But powerful forces stand in their way. To save Avalon, they will need to enlist the help of Mordred, once Nate’s greatest nemesis, now his most formidable ally. But Mordred is grappling with a dark prophecy that could spell Nate’s doom…

The fate of the world hangs in the balance. Even if Nate can halt the war, will there be anything left worth saving?

 

My thanks to Anne Cater for the opportunity to join the blog tour

Initially it seemed odd picking up a new series at the last book, but I have heard great things about Steve McHugh’s books from some of my blogger pals so I really wanted to try Scorched Shadows.

Now I can see why they have been so keen I try Steve’s books – Scorched Shadows was a treat to read.

Take a modern day setting then bring in King Arthur, Mordred and other characters of lore and legend – the mix of fantasy and thrilling adventure made for great reading. A full-on battle to save the world which features sorcerers, magic, battles and plenty of lighthearted moments to break up the action and nicely pace it out.

I enjoyed the dialogue between the characters. The events of six previous books are clearly very relevant but at no stage did I feel disadvantaged by not having read them. Sounds like this should not be possible yet the author brings through all the salient points (without leaving this reader feeling the backstory had been crushed in). Past alliances, conflicts and liaisons all neatly get dropped into the plot and new events zip along.

I was engaged from the first chapter – an explosive opening if you will – and once caught up in the story I just could not stop reading.

Now I know how the story ends I want to go back and see how it begins! I don’t read as much Fantasy as I once did and Steve McHugh has made me want to read more – I shall start with his books…seems a great place to start.

 

https://www.amazon.co.uk/Scorched-Shadows-Hellequin-Chronicles-Book-ebook/dp/B071WC6Q5W/ref=asap_bc?ie=UTF8

 

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December 10

From The Cradle – Louise Voss & Mark Edwards

When Helen and Sean Philips go out for the evening, leaving their teenage daughter babysitting little Frankie, they have no idea that they are about to face every parent’s greatest fear.

Detective Inspector Patrick Lennon is hopeful that the three children who have been abducted in this patch of south-west London will be returned safe and well. But when a body is found in a local park, Lennon realizes that time is running out—and that nothing in this case is as it seems…

Blending police procedural with psychological thriller, From the Cradle will have every parent checking that their children are safe in their beds…then checking again.

 

From The Cradle is published by Thomas & Mercer – you can order a copy here: https://www.amazon.co.uk/Cradle-Detective-Lennon-Thriller-Book-ebook/dp/B00K8EM27C/ref=asap_bc?ie=UTF8

 

This book has been on my TBR pile for far too long, so when the chance to listen to the audiobook arose I was delighted.

This is a kidnap tale – three toddlers have been stolen away from their families by person or persons unknown.  DI Patrick Lennon is leading the investigation and he has his own family problems bubbling in the background – his wife is (shockingly) out of the picture and he is reliant upon his retired parents to help look after his young daughter.

A quick look at these lines from the description of the book:

The first child was taken from her house.
The second from his mother’s car.
The third from her own bedroom…

The third kidnap is the point where the reader joins the story. Helen and Sean Phillips are enjoying a comfortable life but everything is about to come crashing down around them, returning home from a romantic dinner they find their young daughter’s bed empty. Her big sister is sleeping on the couch but she is unusually drowsy and the backdoor (which was to be kept locked) is very much unlocked.

Most of the narrative will follow either the kidnap investigation or events in the Phillips house where tensions are as high as you may expect.  There are some additional players who will play key roles in the hunt for the missing children – but their involvement represent spoilers so you will have to find out about the delightful extra details for yourself.

For the audiobook – James Clamp narrates brilliantly and his skills at presenting multiple characters gives From The Cradle a boost above other books I have listened to – easier to enjoy a listen when the narrator is so good.

 

 

 

 

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December 7

My Favourite Reads of 2017

December is a tricky time for bookbloggers. We spend all year reading and enthusing about all the great books we have had the opportunity to read but come December many of us feel the need to create a list of favourites.

The following ten titles are the books I enjoyed  most this year. Not all were published in 2017 but it is WHEN I read them that counts (my blog so my rules).

There are some titles in this list which I did not actually “read” I listened to  them through Audible.co.uk

The “talking book” experience has been brilliant for me over the last six months. A job change meant I spend 4 to 5 hours driving each day so my reading time became listening time. It is only right that my list includes books I enjoyed because of the skill of a narrator as well as for the talent of the story-teller.

 

No ten to one countdown, these titles are equally ranked as my favourite books of 2017

 

 

Perfect Prey – Helen Fields

There could easily have been two books by Helen Fields in my list as I really enjoyed her debut novel Perfect Remains too. These dark crime thrillers introduced Luc Callanach to the streets of Edinburgh and he has to take on some extremely disturbing cases as he struggles to integrate into life within Police Scotland.  Chilling, Twisty and unmissable.

 

 

 

Block 46 –Johana Gustawsson

First of the audiobooks in my list.  I was captivated by this tale which takes the reader from WW2 concentration camps to present day and shows how a serial killer was able to stay hidden for decades. Two narrators on the audiobook really highlighted the “then” and “now” side to Block 46 and the story was outstanding.

 

 

 

Blackwater – GJ Moffat

Sometimes you just pick up a book and get lost in the story. That is exactly what happened to me when I started Black Water.  I flew through the chapters with little awareness of what was going on around me When I finally reached the end I had the “slump” of knowing the next book would just not match the captivation levels I had just experienced.

 

 

 

 

Say Nothing – Brad Parks

All I ask from any book I read is that I am entertained. Brad Parks clearly got the memo!  Say Nothing was another book I just did not want to put down. A kidnap story I had initially thought but the central character was also a judge so Say Nothing had the added bonus of courtroom and legal drama too.  One of the easiest decisions I had all year was to call this as a 5 star read.

 

 

Whiteout – Ragnar Jonasson

Another audiobook and another example of brilliant storytelling.  Whiteout sees the return of Jonasson’s popular Icelandic cop Ari Thor   What made Whiteout special for me was the way the author took the smallest cast of possible suspects and made a brilliant “whodunnit” murder mystery.  I have compared Ragnar Jonasson’s works to that of Agatha Christie in the past…Whiteout only reaffirms my assertion.

 

 

 

The Damselfly – SJI Holliday

Nobody captures characters like Susi Holliday. She could write about two strangers doing their shopping and make it feel like you had known these people all your life.  The Damselfly was the third book in the Banktoun series and it felt like I was returning to a place I had lived in the past.  Characters I loved from earlier books made cameo appearances (always appreciated) but the murder story which dominates events was superbly pitched and had me hooked.

 

 

The Fourth Monkey – JD Barker

Another of the darker titles on the 2017 list.  This was disturbing, graphic, darkly comic, superbly written and (more than once) utterly gobsmacking.  A book which just grabs you from page 1 and does not relent until you reach the last page.

 

 

 

 

The Beauty of Murder – AK Benedict

The audiobook of The Beauty of Murder was recommended to me by JS Law (author of The Dark Beneath). Boy did he call that right!  The Beauty of Murder is a serial killer story in which the killer has the ability to travel through time.  Loved that twist and it gave The Beauty of Murder an edge which most books simply didn’t have.  The time travel is not just a clever gimmick though, this is a wonderfully compassionate and clever story. With much of the action taking place in and around Cambridge University (with a Philosophy Lecturer as a lead character) it throws up some interesting discussion points too. Hugely enjoyable but with one of the saddest moments of my reading year too…

 

 

The Quiet Man – James Carol

Jefferson Winter is a profiler and he is called to give his thoughts on an unusual series of murders – each occurring on the same day year after year. Another book which simply had me hooked from the initial premise and the story had me captivated right to the end.   I enjoy the vast majority of books I read but some stories have an extra something which keeps me thinking about them (remembering them) weeks after I have finished reading and moved on to new books. The Quiet Man had that extra edge – loved it at the time and kept thinking about it. Had to be included in the “favourites” list.

 

In The Still – Jacqueline Chadwick

If you follow me on Twitter you will know that my lovely blogger pal Kate (Bibliophile Book Club) and I have been raving about In The Still since it released earlier in 2017 – with good reason.

In The Stil introduced Ali Dalglish – a feisty and formidable Scot who was formerly one of the top forensic pathologist and criminal psychologists in the UK. Ali has a lot of strings to her bow and she has been one of the stand-out characters for me this year.

Jacqueline Chadwick’s books are slick and powerful and her depiction of crime scenes and the investigations incredibly detailed and considered.  In The Still was pure reading joy – it was followed up by Briefly Maiden (which could easily have made the list too).  If you have yet to discover Jacqueline Chadwick’s books then that should be your 2018 New Year Resolution – if you like a bit of gritty noir.

 

 

So there they are – 10 of the best.  I read some amazing books this year and there are several which narrowly missed out on inclusion in this list.

Authors rely upon reader reviews and I would urge anyone that reads a book today, tomorrow or at any stage in the future to consider leaving a review for the author.  You don’t need to blog about it, you don’t need to write screeds of analysis – just a single line can make all the difference. Please remember “Wheaton’s Law” and if you cannot be kind then simply try the line “not for me”.  If you loved a book then tell everyone – chances are someone else will love it too.

To ALL the authors – I love your work…thank you.

To the publishers and authors who made it possible for me to continue blogging for another year, I am so very grateful for your trust in me.

And for my fellow bloggers who share my reviews and keep me entertained every single day – you guys rock.

 

 

 

 

 

Category: 5* Reviews | Comments Off on My Favourite Reads of 2017
December 3

Just One Time – K.S. Hunter

Desire can have dire consequences 

Two years ago, David Madden made a mistake that almost cost him his marriage. His wife, Alison, gave him another chance, but she has not forgotten, nor has she forgiven.

She is irresistible

Then David meets the alluring Nina at a theatre in London. When he loses his phone in the dark, she helps him find it, and by giving her his number he unwittingly invites her into his life.

What David initially views as an innocent flirt turns into a dangerous game of deception. His increasingly suspicious wife thinks something is up, and each lie he tells pushes them further apart.

She is insatiable

Nina pursues David relentlessly, following him to New York where she gives him an ultimatum: sleep with her, just one time, and then she’ll get out of his life forever; or she’ll ruin everything he holds dear.

She is unstoppable

Of course, once won’t be enough for Nina, and what David hoped would be the end is merely the beginning.

A modern-day Fatal Attraction, Just One Time is a steamy psychological thriller that will have you hooked from the first page and holding your breath until its shocking conclusion.

If you liked Gone Girl and Maestra, you’ll love Just One Time.

 

Thanks to Rachel at Rachel’s Random Resources for the opportunity to join the tour.

 

I am glad the book’s blurb mentioned Fatal Attraction – I have not seen many films made after 1995 and I was worried that stating Just One Time had reminded me of Fatal Attraction would make me seem a bit out of touch!!!

But it did. Remind me of a film with an obsessive female and a man totally out of his depth.

Just One Time opens with David getting drunk and intimate (graphically) on a one night stand.  His wife finds out about his dalliance. We spin forward two years and David’s marriage is just holding together, his wife has not forgiven him but for the sake of their young daughter she has not kicked him out.  David is very much aware that he is on his last chance but his “moment of weakness” had been Just One Time.

But on a night at the theatre David meets Nina.  She gets his phone number and she wants him. Obsessively and Nina is not going to give up until she gets her man. So will begin David’s torment.  Shunned by his wife and desired by a gorgeous woman will David give in to his temptations?

Well there are spoilers in answering that so you will need to read to find out more.  However, I can share that Nina will stop at nothing to get what she wants and David will find it increasingly hard to escape her advances.

Just One Time was a quick read – Amazon showing 180 pages in length so I zipped through it.  But it held my attention well and it gave more than one instance of uncomfortable reading. I appreciate why the description used Gone Girl and Maestra, it did merge the more notorious elements of each book.

A wee change of page from my normal books and I did enjoy it, some nice wee twists along the way too.

 

Just One time is the first novel by K.S. Hunter, the alter ego of an international bestselling author, whose identity will remain a secret.

The book releases on Kindle on 7 December 2017 and you can order a copy here: https://www.amazon.co.uk/Just-One-Time-K-S-Hunter-ebook/dp/B077CXFVK3/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1512246860&sr=8-1&keywords=just+one+time

 

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December 1

Gilding the Lily – Justine John

A gripping mystery of jealousy, murder and lies.

An invitation to her estranged, wealthy father’s surprise 75th birthday party in New York sees Amelia and her husband, Jack, set off across the pond to meet a whole new world of family politics.

Amelia, now a successful businesswoman, feels guilty about never liking her father’s women, so does her upmost to give his new socialite partner, Evelyn, the benefit of the doubt. Wouldn’t it be nice if they could just all get along? But there’s something very dark, determined and dangerous about her…

When Amelia’s father, Roger, becomes ill, Jack grows suspicious that there is more to it. Amelia understands why, but no one else will believe them. They travel back to America to piece together the puzzle, but when Roger goes missing, the couple are driven to their wits’ end. It takes a DEA officer and a secret assassin to bring them answers, but the ruthless truth is something no one expected…

 

My thanks to Justine for the invitation to join the blog tour and for allowing me the opportunity to provide a free and fair review of her novel.

 

I came to Gilding the Lily blind. I like to do this from time to time, start a book with out knowing what the story is about or even who the lead character is. I get to enjoy the story “cold” without waiting for an event (be it murder, marriage or mistake) which has been revealed in the book’s description.

Because I came to Gilding the Lily without any forewarning of what to expect I was horrified at the extent of the evil behaviour of one of the characters.  It built up slowly so by the time I came to realise what was going on I was fully caught up in the drama.

The clues had been there…

Evelyn has made a success throughout her life of captivating a partner who will look after her and give her opportunities and wealth. With more than one husband dead and gone she seeks out a new mate and further comforts her nest. She is now with Roger, he is older than Evelyn and has a grown daughter (Amelia) who he does not see very frequently.

Evelyn and Amelia do not get along. Mainly down to Evelyn’s unusual behaviour when Amelia is around. However, as Roger’s health starts to fail Evelyn becomes more and more unpredictable. She soon makes it clear to Amelia that Amelia’s attempts to see (or even speak with) her father is becoming too tiring for Roger and Evelyn and she asks that Amelia gives them peace.

Amelia is horrified by Evelyn’s behaviour. She will not accept that her father does not want to see her and she starts to worry how much input her father has had into the decision she must stay away. Is Evelyn deliberately turning Roger against his daughter? How ill can her father really be that he would turn away his own child?  Then Amelia’s husband Jack makes an alarming observation which leads Amelia to believe that something very sinister is going on.

It is tricky to give too much information on the relationship of the characters in Gilding the Lily, much of the enjoyment in this dark and duplicitous tale comes from not knowing what you can trust. Evelyn is clearly a gold digger and Roger does seem rather distant from Amelia. But is Amelia simply paranoid?  Does she object to her father taking a new partner after the death of his wife (Amelia’s mother)?

Justine John teases out shocks and twists right to the last page. I read Gilding the Lily in a single sitting…I HAD to know what was happening!  Really entertaining but with a healthy dose of anxiety for the characters. Look out for this one it is great storytelling.

 

Gilding the Lily is available in paperback and digital format.  You can order a copy here: https://www.amazon.co.uk/Gilding-Lily-Justine-John-ebook/dp/B01N535MZY/ref=la_B01MYYADH3_1_1_twi_kin_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1512084367&sr=1-1

 

 

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November 30

The Deaths of December – Susi Holliday

The hunt is on for a serial killer in this thrilling festive crime novel

It looks like a regular advent calendar.

Until DC Becky Greene starts opening doors…and discovers a crime scene behind almost every one.

The police hope it’s a prank. Because if it isn’t, a murderer has just surfaced – someone who’s been killing for twenty years.

But why now? And why has he sent it to this police station?

As the country relaxes into festive cheer, Greene and DS Eddie Carmine must race against time to catch the killer. Because there are four doors left, and four murders will fill them…

It’s shaping up to be a deadly little Christmas.

 

My thanks to Mulholland Books for the chance to join the Blog Tour

As we drew ever closer to the end of 2017 I have seen dozens and dozens of Christmas novels being discussed and reviewed. None appealed to me. Crime thrillers tend not to be seasonal affairs and I don’t enjoy books like The Cozy Gingerbread-Latte Cafe on Mistletoe Lane (in Cornwall).

You do get plenty of crime books set in the winter months, the dark wet conditions seem perfect for masking foul deeds. However, there are not many crime novels which focus the plot around Christmas.

My Christmas book apathy soon changed when I first heard about Susi Holliday’s The Deaths of December.  Once I had read the outline (as above) I could not wait for the chance to read TDoD. The police receive a homemade advent calendar. Behind the doors is a photograph of a murder scene – some are immediately identifiable to DS Eddie Carmine as they are investigations he as been working on.  Is he being pranked by his colleagues? How would a stranger access what seem to be crime scene photographs? Only the police should have pictures of multiple murders no individual could assemble such a macabre collection of images – unless that individual was present at each murder. Could there be a serial killer at work?

Caramine and his colleague DC Becky Green must first try to establish the authenticity of the pictures, then identify where and when they were taken. As they start to pull together more information it becomes obvious they are facing a challenge quite unlike anything they have encountered before.  It makes for totally engrossing reading!

I have enjoyed each of Susi’s previous novels and in 4 years of blogging she has consistently retained my vote for the best author at capturing the essence of characters. In her Banktoun Trilogy each character was wonderfully realised and that remains the case in The Deaths of December. Every person in TDoD feels important to the plot, their contributions seem natural and the dialogue between characters has an authenticity that many writes do not seem to be able to capture. These believable/realistic characters make it so much easier to fall into the story and be taken along with events – nothing seems forced or jarred.

Narration is handled by multiple characters and each contributor seemed to have a personal voice. The story flows really well and the moving viewpoint kept me turning pages. I do love a serial killer story and this one is a cracker (no Christmas pun intended).

With Christmas looming The Deaths of December should be required reading for the cold winter evenings. Loved this a lot and I am sure you will too.

 

The Deaths of December is published by Mulholland Books and is available in paperback and digital format.  You can order a copy here: https://www.amazon.co.uk/Deaths-December-cracking-Christmas-thriller/dp/1473659361/ref=sr_1_1_twi_pap_2?ie=UTF8&qid=1511988244&sr=8-1&keywords=susi+holliday

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November 30

Briefly Maiden – Jacqueline Chadwick

Ali Dalglish is back in the role she loves: working alongside Vancouver Island’s Integrated Major Incident Squad and is once again partnered with Inspector Rey Cuzzocrea.

As the chemistry between Ali and Cuzzocrea intensifies so does the hunt for a twisted killer as they are tasked with solving a series of violent murders with links to a sinister paedophile ring in the idyllic island city of Cedar River.

In the midst of the chaos, Ali is pulled by her desire to find and save the children at the heart of the case but she is thwarted by an evil so cunning and powerful that it threatens to become the nemesis she never imagined possible: one that could bring her to her knees.

 

Thank you to Chris at Fahrenheit Press for the opportunity to review Briefly Maiden

 

In Scotland there was a generation (my generation) who grew up in awe of a Scottish chap called Dalglish – he had the nickname “King”.

There are many generations of crime fiction readers who hold a policeman called Dalglish in the highest regard.

Time for a new generation of readers to embrace a “Dalglish” – Ali Dalglish.

Jacqueline Chadwick’s feisty (and very Scottish) protagonist has been the most welcome new addition to my reading in 2017.  Following a brilliant debut, in In The Still, Ali Dalglish returns in the equally brilliant Briefly Maiden.

We catch up with Ali several months after the events of In The Still. She is working alongside Inspector Rey Cuzzocre for the Vancouver Island Integrated Major Incident Squad. A brutal murder is the focus of their current investigation. The victim appears to have been linked to a paedophile ring, his body shows multiple stab wounds and the killer has removed part of his victim’s body (leaving the police in no doubt there is a sexual motive behind his death).

Readers get to follow the killer. We see more victims being identified and targeted and we learn how other members of the paedophile ring will start to take steps to protect themselves.

Ali and her colleagues will have their work cut out. Adopting unorthodox investigative procedures may be their only hope.

The Major Incident Squad play a key role in Briefly Maiden.  While Ali was an outsider when we first encountered her in In The Still, she is now part of a well established team (although Ali is still not fully integrated into the mix).  She is many miles away from her native Scotland and Ali stands out among her colleagues – not just because of her accent and background, but her no nonsense approach to life causes ructions between her and her colleagues. There is also the small matter of the building sexual tension between Ali and Cuzzocrea. The scenes where Ali and colleagues are butting heads with each other or are pushing ahead with the investigation were particularly enjoyable.

Not for the faint of heart. The investigation will consider the worst aspects of humanity – Jacqueline Chadwick does not shield the reader from the crimes committed or the retribution the killer seeks to dole out.  What we do get to enjoy is a slick crime thriller which twists and turns throughout and a story which keeps the reader hooked,

But nothing will prepare you for the finale.

Those last few chapters are exactly why I keep reading and blogging. When I picked my jaw off the floor I immediately wanted to tell my friends they had to read Briefly Maiden. I want others to experience that rush from reading a brilliantly told story. I want to talk to them about how great Ali is and how she can steal every scene she is in. I want to see them engrossed (as I was) in a book which was both powerful and compelling.

Briefly Maiden – outstanding. I’ve not enjoyed any book as much as this for a long, long time.

 

Briefly Maiden is published by Fahrenheit Press and is available in paperback and digital format here: https://www.amazon.co.uk/Briefly-Maiden-Ali-Dalglish-Book-ebook/dp/B0771PVW8K/ref=sr_1_1?s=digital-text&ie=UTF8&qid=1511987257&sr=1-1&keywords=briefly+maiden

Category: 5* Reviews, Blog Tours | Comments Off on Briefly Maiden – Jacqueline Chadwick
November 25

Perfect Remains – Helen Fields

On a remote Highland mountain, the body of Elaine Buxton is burning. All that will be left to identify the respected lawyer are her teeth and a fragment of clothing.

In the concealed back room of a house in Edinburgh, the real Elaine Buxton screams into the darkness…

Detective Inspector Luc Callanach has barely set foot in his new office when Elaine’s missing persons case is escalated to a murder investigation. Having left behind a promising career at Interpol, he’s eager to prove himself to his new team. But Edinburgh, he discovers, is a long way from Lyon, and Elaine’s killer has covered his tracks with meticulous care.

It’s not long before another successful woman is abducted from her doorstep, and Callanach finds himself in a race against the clock. Or so he believes … The real fate of the women will prove more twisted than he could have ever imagined.

 

My thanks to Avon Books for my review copy

Earlier this year I reviewed Perfect Prey by Helen Fields.  I liked that book (a lot) and gave it a five star review.  Before I read Perfect Prey I had read Perfect Remains, the book which introduced Luc Callanach, but as I read it while I was on vacation I did not get a chance to write up a review.  Time to catch up…

I Love, Love, Love Perfect Remains.

Helen Fields introduces Luc Callanach to Edinburgh – he is trying to rebuild a career after a scandal at work has forced him to leave France and settle in Scotland.  Callanach is half French and half Scottish and seemingly 100% drop-dead gorgeous – he will fit right in at Police Scotland.

Watching Callanach settle into his new surroundings and face down the battles against new colleagues (who are trying to exert their own claim to be the station’s Alpha Male) was great fun. He needs to prove his ability to a hostile crowd and can only rely upon the support of his fellow DI – Ava Turner.

Luc is thrown in at the deep end when a missing persons investigation becomes a murder case. The body of Elaine Buxton has been found in the hills, dental records confirming the charred remains are that of the missing woman.  However, the reader knows that Elaine Buxton is not dead – she has been hidden in a deep, dark backroom of a house in Edinburgh. If nobody is looking for Elaine then what hope does she have for rescue?

This is a phenomenal introduction to a new character and one of the stand-out reads of 2017. I raced through Perfect Remains, rolled immediately into Perfect Prey and I cannot wait until Luc Callanach returns in Perfect Death.  So, so good.

 

Perfect Remains is published by Avon Books and is available in digital and paperback format. You can order a copy here: https://www.amazon.co.uk/Perfect-Remains-gripping-breathless-Callanach-ebook/dp/B01D4WRF9O/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1511637645&sr=1-1&keywords=perfect+remains

Category: 5* Reviews, From The Bookshelf | Comments Off on Perfect Remains – Helen Fields
November 21

Hunger Moon – Alexandra Sokoloff

Revenge has no limits.

Special Agent Matthew Roarke has abandoned his rogue search for serial killer Cara Lindstrom. He’s returned to the FBI to head a task force with one mission: to rid society of its worst predators. But as the skeletal symbols of Santa Muerte, “Lady Death,” mysteriously appear at universities nationwide, threatening death to rapists, Roarke’s team is pressured to investigate. When a frat boy goes missing in Santa Barbara, Roarke realizes a bloodbath is coming—desperate teenagers are about to mete out personal, cold-blooded justice.

Hiding from the law, avenging angel Cara Lindstrom is on her own ruthless quest. She plans to stay as far away from Roarke as possible—until an old enemy comes after both her and the FBI, forcing her back into Roarke’s orbit. This time, the huntress has become the hunted…

 

My thanks to Giselle at Xpresso Book Tours for the opportunity to join the blog tour

 

If you have not been following the Cara Lindstrom “Huntress” books by Alexandra Sokoloff then you are missing out on some of the most powerful and important serial killer stories currently on release.

A pretty bold opening statement given the vast wealth of choice crime readers have. However in Cara Lindstrom we have a killer who is fighting back on behalf of the women who have fallen victim to men and suffered at their hands. She picks off the abusers and the rapists and she makes them pay on behalf of the silent victims. After years of working in silence she has become “famous” and now men are hunting her – not just the authorities (though FBI agent Roarke has been pursing her through 4 previous books) but men who would harm her and make an example of her are chasing Cara down.

Cara’s cause is taken up by a group calling themselves Bitch. They are also seeking justice against the men who have for so many years been able to get away with heinous crimes and assisted in covering for their counterparts.

The relationship (as it is) between Cara and Roarke has been tracked through Hunger Moon and the 4 books which precede it. It really does help to have read the earlier novels.  Previous books have also seen the growth of Bitch and some associated characters to Bitch who will enforce their own justice in the way they feel Cara would. Now take a powder-keg of revenge and drop it into 2017 America – the America of Trump “Making America Great Again” and of sexual scandals and the recent #metoo declarations. Hunger Moon is going to rip off the cover of all the bad behaviours and expose the evil within and it is done exceedingly well.

In Hunger Moon Alexandra Sokoloff slams the worst of society and shows a few good souls trying to do right by the victims against an overwhelming wall of secrets, lies and covering up. Roarke and his team are trying to investigate a college frat house – victim of an act of vandalism – but they suspect the vandals were also delivering a warning. The fraternity will close ranks to protect their own but Roarke needs to know why they were a target and if there is any potential that the vandal may return with a bigger “message” in mind. Reading of Roarke’s frustration at not being able to do a full investigation as powerful men tried to play political games was thoroughly engrossing and wholly believable.

Not one to shy away from the realities of the crimes being committed, readers are left in no doubt that the author finds no sympathy for the victims of Lindstrom and Bitch – their crimes are cast back to them and they will pay. This is not a book for the mild mannered or faint of heart. Hunger Moon shows the anger of the author at today’s society and it is guaranteed to elicit an extremely emotive response – anger, frustration, horror, regret, sympathy…they all get drawn out over the course of the book.

Powerful and unmissable – Hunger Moon…a must read.

 

Hunger Moon can be purchased via the link below – all the earlier books can be acquired on the second link

Purchase: Amazon: https://www.amazon.com/HungerMoon-Alexandra-Sokoloff-ebook/dp/B071L1NQJ2
Previous books in the series:
Amazon: https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B073FWYBPM/ref=series_rw_dp_sw

Throughout the Hunger Moon tour there is a an ongoing Giveaway offering the chance to win a $50 Amazon Gift Voucher.  Open to International applicants – access the competition via this link: http://www.rafflecopter.com/rafl/display/d04251232148/

 

Category: From The Bookshelf | Comments Off on Hunger Moon – Alexandra Sokoloff