June 25

A Deadly Game – Joanne Griffiths

DeadlyGame Avignon+Book D30000 darkenKate Palmer, an undergraduate student, discovers that she is pregnant and makes the decision to drop out of university. However, on the evening before she returns home, her body is discovered in Aston park. She is the first victim of several murders that will rock the city of Birmingham.

DS James “Jim” Wardell, who has his own issues to contend with, is given the case.

When Eddie Carter, a popular talk show host on Birmingham’s radio station, is contacted by someone claiming to be the killer, it is the start of a cat and mouse game between a deranged killer and the police.

After a second body is discovered the pressure mounts on the police to capture the person responsible.

Who is killing these women and why?

Can Jim apprehend the twisted killer before more innocent women are murdered?

 

My thanks to Sarah Hardy and the team at Bloodhound Books for a review copy and the chance to join the blog tour.

 

A serial killer story where we get to see lots more of the killer than you may normally expect. We see him at home, we watch his rage peak and calm, we see how he treats his family and we see him growing excited with his successes as he plays out A Deadly Game.

The story opens by introducing Kate Palmer, she has been finding life tough but has decided to return home to her parents and try to recover some control of her future. But before Kate can follow through on her plans she encounters a killer – a man who has decided to push his fantasy to the next level and take a life.

What made A Dangerous Game different from many serial killer books is that Joanne Griffiths takes time to focus on the victim, the killer and also the survivors. The family or loved ones of the victims get much more visibility than we may normally expect to see and it really reinforces the horrific nature of the killer’s actions.

After a life is taken we are taken to the killer’s home.  He is married, has a young child but is not satisfied with how the birth of his baby changed his wife – he feels that she is a disappointment to him and he makes her life a misery.  As the killer’s wife is a key character to the story we also get to follow her narrative (and it is not a happy one).

The story switches from the killer, to his wife, to the police and then to a victim – then the cycle begins anew. The stakes are raised each time as the killer gets more cocky, his wife more unhappy and the police more frustrated. A frustrating sense of helplessness for the reader – you want to reach into the book and stop the victims from making the mistake which will place them in danger or to tell the killers wife to get the Hell out of the house.

There were some unexpected twists and plenty of dark moments to keep me reading A Dangerous Game and it is definitely one I enjoyed.

 

A Deadly Game is published by Bloodhound Books and is available in paperback and digital format.  You can order a copy here: https://www.amazon.co.uk/Deadly-Game-Joanne-Griffiths-ebook/dp/B072KN4LZ9/ref=tmm_kin_swatch_0?_encoding=UTF8&qid=1498346011&sr=1-1

Blog Tour (2)

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June 23

Beneath The Ashes – Jane Isaac

Beneath The AshesTHE SECOND DI WILL JACKMAN CRIME THRILLER

The floor felt hard beneath her face. Nancy opened her eyes. Blinked several times. A pain seared through her head. She could feel fluid. No. She was lying in fluid.

When a body is discovered in a burnt-out barn in the Warwickshire countryside, DI Will Jackman is called to investigate.

Nancy Faraday wakes up on the kitchen floor. The house has been broken into and her boyfriend is missing. As the case unravels, DI Jackman realises that nothing is quite as it appears and everyone, it seems, has a secret.

Can he discover the truth behind the body in the fire, and track down the killer before Nancy becomes the next victim?

 

My thanks to Legend Press for my review copy

Books are forever,  a permanent treat and if you haven’t yet read a book then it is a new story to enjoy – even if it was published some time ago.  Yup I am reaching back into my bookshelves for a book I have had for some time but not yet reviewed. So with apologies to Jane Isaac for making her wait for this…my thoughts on Beneath The Ashes.

This was the first of Jane’s books I had read and I was struck by the realism of the police investigation which takes place. Beneath The Ashes is a pure police procedural, you feel that you are part of the team and there is an actual process and method being followed by the police. It is hugely satisfying watching Will Jackman chasing down clues, interviewing suspects and eliminating various possibilities. He has his work cut out as there are several characters in this story who seem to have secrets to keep!

A body is found in a burned out barn. Although the victim appears to be easy to identify, once the police start their investigations it soon becomes clear that the person they believe has died may actually have been living a lie. If the dead man in the barn is not who he said he was how will that impact upon his girlfriend – not only has she lost her closest friend she also learns that everything she knew about him was a lie.

What makes Beneath The Ashes work so well is the skill of Jane Isaac at capturing characters and making them believable. The anguish and worry of Nancy as her world crumbles around her, Jackman trying to conduct a complex investigation, juggle career choices and be a family man too. The interaction between the suspects and the police, between Jackman and his daughter and between the whole investigative team makes for engaging reading and was richly rewarding as it drew me into the lives of the characters.

I love when I learn that a character I enjoyed reading about will return/feature in other books.  Now that I have caught up with Beneath The Ashes I am planning to meet up with Will Jackman again soon and I am rather looking forward to that.

 

Beneath The Ashes is available in paperback and digital format.  You can order a copy here: https://www.amazon.co.uk/DI-Will-Jackman-Shocking-Page-Turning-ebook/dp/B01CJPU6LQ/ref=asap_bc?ie=UTF8

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June 22

The Killer – Susan Wilkins

The KillerShe was a woman, so they thought she’d be easy to kill . . .

Kaz Phelps is on the run – from the past, from the legacy of her criminal family, from the haunting memories of her murdered lover. The police want her back in jail and her enemies want her dead. While standing by the grave of her gangster brother, Kaz realizes she only has one option. To fight back.

Nicci Armstrong was one of the Met’s best detectives until personal tragedy forced her to quit. Now she’s responsible for the security of the super-rich who use her city as a playground. She is one of the few people Kaz might trust. But Nicci’s biggest mistake yet is falling in love with a man she knows is only using her.

Meanwhile, as envious rivals back home plot against him, a Russian billionaire searches for a special gift to keep the Kremlin onside, a disgraced politician dreams of revenge and a Turkish drug baron plots to purge his dishonour with blood.

 

My thanks to Bethan at EDPR for my review copy

This is the latest review written by my super guest reviewer Lou.  I cannot describe just how animated she became while trying to describe how much she loved this book – we had to give her extra space to gesticulate 🙂

Over to Lou….

This is great. Reminiscent of Martina Cole at her best (but without Cole’s occasionally awkward phoneticisms) this is an excellent romp through the high lives and lowlifes of contemporary London. With two, strong female protagonists – and an extensive cast of fully-formed supporting characters – it starts with a funeral and inexorably racks up the bodies as it steamrollers to its conclusion.

The last book in a trilogy that started with The Informant and continued with The Mourner, The Killer offers a satisfying finale to Kaz Phelps’ struggle to escape her criminal past, and Nicci Armstrong’s efforts to move past her own tragedy and build a future outside of the Metropolitan Police.

Building momentum with police procedures and private investigations, touching on political machinations and organised criminality, Wilkins knowledgeably shows the reader a world of extremes. Wealth, fear, power, avarice – all have a devastating impact on the lives of Phelps and Armstrong and play a pivotal part in the ultimate denouement.

Well-written and skilfully paced, you don’t need to read the first two to enjoy the last, but I shall certainly be hunting them down so that I can indulge my new-found addiction until Wilkins writes me another one…

The Killer is released in paperback on 29th June and is available now in digital format.

You can order a copy here: https://www.amazon.co.uk/Killer-Kaz-Phelps-Book-ebook/dp/B01ITD668Y/ref=asap_bc?ie=UTF8

 

 

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June 17

The Health of Strangers – Lesley Kelly

The Health of StrangersNobody likes the North Edinburgh Health Enforcement Team, least of all the people who work for it. An uneasy mix of seconded Police and health service staff, Mona, Bernard and their colleagues stem the spread of the Virus, a mutant strain of influenza, by tracking down people who have missed their monthly health check. Now two young female students are missing, raising question after question for the HET. Why were they drinking in a biker’s bar? Who are the mysterious Children of Camus cult? And why is the German government interfering in the investigation? Mona and Bernard need to fight their way through lies and intrigue, and find the missing girls – before anyone else does.

My thanks to Keara at Sandstone for my review copy

 

Meet the North Edinburgh HET.

The HET?

Well that would be the Health Enforcement Team, an agency set up in the aftermath of a viral outbreak which has caused the loss of millions of lives around the world. More on that in a second…

The Health Enforcement Team are our focus in The Health of Strangers and they are an endearing dysfunctional lot. Mona was a cop who was offered the opportunity to move to HET to make a name for herself but was she perhaps shunted off to keep her out the road?  Her colleagues Bernard and Maitland also have secrets in their background or their home life so collectively they may not come across as a well-oiled unit.  The conflicts and insecurities in the team does give Lesley Kelly plenty of opportunity to get some great dialogue going between her characters – love a bit of bickering between colleagues to lighten the mood!

So the virus – a flu strain which mutated. The first wave contaminated many of the population but lots of people recovered (albeit after much discomfort). But the virus mutated and the next wave claimed many lives – those that had contracted flu in the first viral wave developed an immunity but it also meant they saw friends and loved ones die when  the virus returned in its mutated form.

Society changed, some people turned to religion (new Chapters within the churches were formed), pregnancy increased the risk of dying from the virus, different countries adapted better to controlling and containing the spread of the disease. But everyone is now required to attend regular health screenings to ensure they are not unknowingly carrying the virus – miss a screening and you are reported to the HET who are expected to find you and take appropriate action to minimize any potential contamination risks.

I really enjoyed The Health of Strangers. The dystopian setting is nicely balanced not too bleak but Edinburgh is clearly a changed city. There has been an horrific event but life still continues – but it continues differently for the survivors.  People are adaptable and the human resilience shines through but they will be suffering and their grief will channel rage and distrust – characterization will make or break a story like this and Lesley Kelly has absolutely nailed it.

I realise that I haven’t even mentioned the missing girls – the ones that have missed their Health Check, the girls that the HET are tasked with finding. The missing girls will the team busy (and frustrated) and this is the crime story at the core of the book, the investigation is well constructed and there are all the distractions and unreliable witnesses to challenge the team.

So The Health of Strangers is a crime thriller in a dystopian and ravaged Edinburgh with a great cast and the pages which virtually turned themselves.  I bloody loved it.

 

The Health of Strangers is published by Sandstone Press and is available in paperback and digital format. You can order a copy here: https://www.amazon.co.uk/d/Books/Health-Strangers-Plague-Lesley-Kelly/191098566X/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1497565274&sr=8-1&keywords=lesley+kelly

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June 17

The Cigarette Boy – Rebecca Cantrell

Cigarette Boy (Hannah Vogel Collection)Berlin, 1931.

Sexy cabaret star Ernst Vogel navigates the increasingly fraught world of Berlin in the last years of the Weimar Republic. Nazi Storm Troopers and Communists fight in the streets and in his club. Wealthy Jews and intellectuals think of fleeing. Desperate sexual and social outcasts cram the famous nightclubs to wring out one last dance.

Ernst makes a promise to help the new young cigarette boy, but the boy disappears while Ernst is on stage. On the way home, Ernst finds his bloody body in an alley. After realizing the police don’t care about the death of one young hustler, Ernst determines to find justice on his own.

His search leads him into the dark heart of Berlin, where he encounters the truth about the boy’s death, and fights to save his own life.

 

My thanks to Chantelle at 22 Literary for a review copy and the chance to host a tour leg.

Longer ago than I care to remember a 17 year old me sat in a classroom in the Highlands of Scotland reading about Germany in the 20th Century.  Not the Great War, that had been covered in depth since I was 14. Nor was I reading about the Second World War – I declined the chance to study those years.  Instead I concentrated on the years between those two great conflicts and life in Germany during the time of the Weimar Republic. I was such a cool 17 year old!

But that period of German history is fascinating – not least due the rise of one particular political party which would become a symbol of fear and hatred around the world.  The problem with school textbooks and other source material is that it can make for terribly dry reading.  What I would have given at the time to have had the chance to read Rebecca Cantrell’s fantastic Hannah Vogel series instead.

Spin forward to 2017 and everyone has the chance to spend some time in 1930’s Germany.  The first three in the Hannah Vogel series have been collected into a single volume and are joined by a short story (The Cigarette Boy) of which more shortly.  Books One to Three are A Trace of Smoke, A Night of Long Knives and A Game of Lies.  We will be introduced to Vogel and learn how she manages as a widow of the Great War, working as a crime reporter and frequently coming into opposition against the National Socialists as they grow in power and influence.

The treat for readers who pick up this collected volume of is that Rebecca Cantrell has included a new short story – The Cigarette Boy – which features Hannah’s brother (Ernst).

Ernst is a cabaret singer – the star of the show – and The Cigarette Boy is mainly set within the club. We see the club manager, the pianist, the guests and of course The Cigarette Boy (he has his own aspirations of success).  There is a powerful pull of the theatre and important people want to be seen – knowing what we do of the Nazis it was something of a surprise to me that some of the top generals and ministers are frequenting the cabaret and seeking the attentions of the young starlets.

At the end of one evening Ernst learns that the Cigarette Boy has left the club and taken his tray of wares with him.  Certain expulsion from the club beckons after-all there are a string of young hopefuls waiting to fill his shoes and try to gain success on the stage. But as Ernst heads home he stumbles across the body of the Cigarette Boy – brutally murdered and left abandoned.  Ernst believes he can work out the killer’s identity but it means laying a trap and further lives could be in danger possibly his own.

Having read The Cigarette Boy I am now determined to read more of the Hannah Vogel series.  I loved Rebecca Cantrell’s writing, the detail in the setting brings the story a vibrancy and the story captures a feel of the time.

If you are already a fan of this series then the opportunity to read The Cigarette Boy is a cracking reason to pick up the collection. If you are new to the works of Ms Cantrell I always advocate reading a series in order – here are the first three books to consider.

Rebecca has put an extract from The Cigarette Boy on her website – you can read that (and browse her other novels) here.

 

The Hannah Vogel collection is available now and can be ordered on the links below: https://www.amazon.co.uk/Hannah-Vogel-Box-Set-Collectors-ebook/dp/B01ADW23MC/ref=la_B001MOS172_1_20?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1497647357&sr=1-20

 

 

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June 15

Exquisite – Sarah Stovell

ExquisiteA chilling, exquisitely written and evocative thriller set in the Lake District, centring on the obsessive relationship that develops between two writers…Bo Luxton has it all – a loving family, a beautiful home in the Lake District, and a clutch of bestselling books to her name.

Enter Alice Dark, an aspiring writer who is drifting through life, with a series of dead-end jobs and a freeloading boyfriend.

When they meet at a writers’ retreat, the chemistry is instant, and a sinister relationship develops… Or does it?

Breathlessly pacey, taut and terrifying, Exquisite is a startlingly original and unbalancing psychological thriller that will keep you guessing until the very last page.

 

My thanks to Karen at Orenda for my review copy and to Anne for the opportunity to join the tour.

 

Bo is a writer, she will be running a writing class in the Lake District and is scanning submissions from hopeful candidates. One piece stands out from all the others, it is raw it is angry and edgy and it calls to Bo.  The author, Alice Dark, receives an invitation to attend the course and she gets her fees paid which makes it possible for her to attend.

For Alice the invitation to travel from the South coast to the Lake District gives her the chance to make a break from the rut which she has found herself in.  She is living with an artist, he is 10 years older than Alice and seems content to spend his time slapping out some touristy pictures to keep himself in beer and fags. He will drop everything to find a party and shows no sign of responsibility.  Staying with him has been the easy option for Alice but she recognises life is slipping by.

Alice scrapes what she can to get to the course, she is considerably younger than the other attendees but her natural charm and easy going nature ensures she is welcomed by the other attendees (particularly the males). But it soon becomes clear to the reader that Bo and Alice are going to click – even if Alice is slightly slower to realise the extent of Bo’s fascination with her until the course is drawing to an end.

The writing week ends and the two women part, for the present, but narrative of Exquisite switches to a series of email communications between the women. We see their lives continuing and watch pondering what the other may be doing but through their email we read of a developing relationship.  Bo is married but when her husband is due to leave on a business trip for a few days she implores Alice to return to the Lake District – uncertain of what the future may hold (and aware Bo is married with young children) Alice makes the trip.

What follows is a love story which then starts to spiral out of control. Bo’s husband is the “jealous type” so she asks Alice to keep their relationship a secret, delete emails and keep a low profile.  How each woman will handle the time they spend apart will dictate how the story unfolds, it’s no surprise that the path of “true love” will not run smoothly – but is it even love?

The reader will see both sides of the story. There are power-plays, manipulation, anxiety and many, many tears. Shall we say this is a bit of an emotional rollercoaster?

I am seeing lots of love for Exquisite and I can understand why – it is a troubled love story, brilliantly constructed and the writing is top notch – plus Sarah Stovell has thrown in some nasty twists for her characters.  I personally found it swung a little too far towards a love tale but didn’t pull it far enough into back into thriller territory. This means we are falling out of my comfort zone of reading and I find those books harder to consider objectively and comment upon accurately.

As I read I was looking for comparisons and two films sprang to mind (and when I name them you will realise how little I get to see films these days)…Single White Female and The Hand That Rocks The Cradle. Now I loved both those films – strong stories and formidable characters and I consider them good stories to be compared to, I don’t have a comparable book reference.

So Exquisite – loads going for it and it will be loved by many (but I don’t think I am a typical representation of the target audience).

 

Exquisite is published by Orenda Books and is available from 15 June in paperback and is already available in digital format. You can order a copy here: https://www.amazon.co.uk/Exquisite-Sarah-Stovell-ebook/dp/B06Y661QRC/ref=tmm_kin_swatch_0?_encoding=UTF8&qid=1497477225&sr=8-1

Exquisite blog tour poster (1)

 

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June 12

The Last Night at Tremore Beach – Mikel Santiago

Last Night at Tremore BeachHe’d seen the danger coming. And now it’s here…

When Peter Harper, a gifted musician whose career and personal life are in trouble, comes to northwest Ireland and rents a remote cottage on beautiful, windswept Tremore Beach, he thinks he has found a refuge, a tranquil place in a time of crisis. His only neighbours for miles around are a retired American couple, Leo and Marie Kogan, who sense his difficulties and take him under their wing. But there’s something strange about the pair that he can’t quite figure out.

One night during one of the dramatic storms that pummel the coast, Peter is struck by lightning. Though he survives, he begins to experience a series of terrifying, lucid and bloody nightmares that frame him, the Kogans and his visiting children in mortal danger. The Harper family legend of second sight suddenly takes on a sinister twist. What if his horrifying visions came true, could tonight be his last…?

 

My thanks to Simon & Schuster UK for my review copy

Musician Peter Harper is living in rural seclusion on the Irish coast. His life has been in turmoil and his confidence is shot – a world renowned composer he now cannot capture a simple tune and he is seeking solitude to try and rediscover his love of music.

Harper is renting a cottage on Tremore Beach, he is becoming a known face around the nearby village and his only neighbours (an American couple who have also sought a peaceful life) have tried to make him feel welcome and are keeping an almost paternal eye on him. While his days seem idyllic, Peter is increasingly frustrated by his inability to compose anything worthy of recording – a problem exacerbated by unsubtle approaches of his agent who is looking for Peter to return to work soon.

When we first meet Peter we learn that the mother of all storms is due to hit the Irish Coast. Against all advice Peter decides not to shelter safely at home for the evening and takes up an invitation to join his American neighbours (the Kogans) for dinner.  At the end of the evening and with the storm raging Peter tries to drive home.  He is forced out of his car and while exposed to the elements he is struck by lightning.  Badly scorched, Peter survives but he now finds he is plagued by horrific nightmares or visions.  Each incident feels real to Peter and he is certain he is awake when the occur, however, the things he sees are chilling and all seem to foretell an event which is yet to unfold.

The Last Night at Tremore Beach is a delightfully dark supernatural tale.  Peter’s visions lead him to believe that his friends and family may be in danger and the terror  at the prospect of the incidents leads him to seek professional help. But is he really seeing the future or has the lightning strike aggravated a medical condition?

Rural locations, terrifying visions, the prospect of death and danger and a potentially unreliable narrator – they all combine well to create a creepy page turner.  As Peter faces his fears he realises that there are secrets at Tremore Beach and uncovering the truth may be the worst thing that Peter could do.

Tense supernatural read which strikes a nice balance between thriller and terror, an enjoyable read and definitely one to seek out if you like a spooky twist to your books.

 

Last Night at Tremore Beach is published by Simon & Schuster and is available in hardback and digital format.  You can order a copy here: https://www.amazon.co.uk/Last-Night-Tremore-Beach/dp/1471150135/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1497216373&sr=8-1&keywords=last+night+at+tremore+beach

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June 5

Kill The Next One – Federico Axat

Kill The Next OneTed has it all: a beautiful wife, two daughters, a high-paying job. But after he is diagnosed with a terminal brain tumour he finds himself with a gun to his temple, ready to pull the trigger. That’s when the doorbell rings.

A stranger makes him a proposition: kill two deserving men before dying. The first is a criminal, and the second is, like Ted, terminally ill, and wants to die. If Ted kills these men he will then become a target himself in a kind of suicidal daisy chain—and won’t it be easier for his family if he’s a murder victim?

Kill The Next One is an audacious, immersive psychological thriller in which nothing is what it seems.

 

My thanks to Sophie Goodfellow for my review copy

Cards on the table here – I have no idea how to review Kill The Next One. Read the description above and I will pick up from here when you jump back down.

Okay – The book opens with Ted preparing to kill himself.  He has a brain tumour and while his wife and kids are away on a trip he plans to lock himself in his study, leave a note for his wife warning her to keep the kids away then shoot himself in the head. As you can see Ted has not had the best of times.

But just before he can squeeze the trigger someone comes knocking at his front door. The man is shouting through the house to Ted that he knows what Ted is planning and he has a better offer.  Unable to carry on until he finds out what this person may be offering (and how he knew what Ted was planning) Ted opens his door.

The stranger suggests that Ted can do one last good deed and kill a criminal who has escaped justice on a legal technicality. Ted will then kill a second man who (like Ted) is looking to die…at that point Ted will become the next potential victim of another person who also wants to die.  A chain of suicides – rather than take their own life they will be killed by a stranger. The theory being that a “terrible accident” is easier for surviving families to deal with and it could also mean insurance policies pay out (that is possibly not in the book but I work in insurance so I may have mentally added that).

At this point (and we are only a few chapters into the book by this stage) everything went in a totally different direction to what I was expecting.  I had anticipated Ted would hunt down the criminal, eventually bump him off, kill the second person and set himself up to be the next victim in the chain and then we wait to see how his death happens.  Nope. That’s not the story. Am I going to tell you what DOES happen? Nope, well not in much detail.

How about I say that Ted decides the offer has some merit and he looks into the possibility of killing the criminal?  But can he be sure that the criminal has actually done the crime that the stranger at Ted’s door has accused him of?  Also Ted seems like a good, decent and honourable man – can he really take on a killer and expect to have the nerve to end a life?

Federico Axat has made Ted into one of the most troubled and complex characters that I think I have ever read about.  His story is complicated and makes for difficult/troubling reading at times. But his story is important and it really got me thinking about the importance of life choices.

Go back to the book description and focus on the end of that last sentence: “nothing is what it seems” I have alluded to the fact the book did not take the direction I had anticipated, well for Ted it may just be that not everyone is being entirely honest with him – or is Federico Axat not being entirely honest with the reader and keeping secrets from us?   Only one way to find out – purchase link is below.

 

Kill The Next One is published by Text Publishing and is available in paperback and digital format. Order a copy here: https://www.amazon.co.uk/Kill-Next-One-Federico-Axat-ebook/dp/B01KEBZP40/ref=sr_1_1?s=digital-text&ie=UTF8&qid=1496696318&sr=1-1&keywords=kill+the+next+one

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June 2

Bitter Moon – Alexandra Sokoloff

Bitter MoonThe Huntress/FBI Thrillers: Book 4

FBI agent Matthew Roarke has been on leave, and in seclusion, since the capture of mass killer Cara Lindstrom—the victim turned avenger who preys on predators. Torn between devotion to the law and a powerful attraction to Cara and her lethal brand of justice, Roarke has retreated from both to search his soul. But Cara’s escape from custody and a police detective’s cryptic challenge soon draw him out of exile—into the California desert and deep into Cara’s past—to probe an unsolved murder that could be the key to her long and deadly career.

Following young Cara’s trail, Roarke uncovers a horrifying attack on a schoolgirl, the shocking suicide of another, and a human monster stalking Cara’s old high school. Separated by sixteen years, crossing paths in the present and past, Roarke and fourteen-year-old Cara must race to find and stop the sadistic sexual predator before more young women are brutalized.

 

I received a review copy through Netgalley

Cara Lindstrom is a killer. Matthew Roarke is an FBI agent (though in Bitter Moon he is on leave). Their paths have crossed and it has had a profound impact upon Roarke’s life and his career.  Bitter Moon is the 4th book in Alexandra Sokoloff’s Huntress/FBI Thrillers series and reading the first three books in the series (Huntress Moon, Blood Moon and Cold Moon) will ensure you get the best reading experience for Bitter Moon.

So the book…it’s a corker.

Roarke is on leave of absence from the FBI but a call from an angry law enforcement officer wanting to know why Roarke doesn’t want to catch Cara Lindstrom, sees him hitting the road and heading to Riverside County, California. On meeting the angry cop face-to-face, Roarke is puzzled why the officer is so irate over Cara being on the run. Roarke knows that Lindstrom spent time in Riverside County shortly after the “incident” (spoilers) which determined the path her life would take.  He elects to stick around and do a big of digging into the background of the town.

What I loved about the direction Bitter Moon takes is that we follow Roarke trying to piece together what Cara may have been doing in Riverside County, the places she visited and the people she crossed paths with.  But between the sections of the narrative which follow Roarke we get a Cara narrative.  A Cara narrative from when she was a schoolgirl, trying to fit into her new school, her new social care house and trying to contend with the monsters she has faced and must continue to battle. The shifting timeframe of the book is wonderfully worked and makes Bitter Moon stand out in the series as the tone feels so different.

What really makes these stories resonate with me is the fact Roarke is still torn over the crimes Cara commits. She kills sexual predators, killers, men who prey upon young vulnerable girls. Cara is looking to protect those innocent victims by killing the host of the EVIL within the predators. Roarke as a law enforcement officer knows she is a killer yet also knows that her victims are committing crimes which bring Cara’s judgement upon themselves. In Bitter Moon he almost seems bewildered that Cara could be killing at such a young age (and with such ruthless efficiency).  The reader gets to see Cara identifying the threat and we watch how she deals with it. Alexandra Sokoloff paints an unflinching picture of all the crimes and the series is all the more powerful for the anger and energy which drive the stories.

Bitter Moon can be read and enjoyed as a stand alone novel but this series is so damn good I really would recommend picking up Huntress Moon and working your way through the 4 books in order. Bitter Moon is a 5 star read for me. I loved it and I cannot wait to see where the Cara/Roarke story goes next.

 

Bitter Moon is published by Thomas & Mercer and is available in paperback, digital and audiobook formats.  You can order a copy through this link: https://www.amazon.co.uk/Bitter-Moon-Huntress-Thrillers-Book-ebook/dp/B01F8PWUY0/ref=asap_bc?ie=UTF8

 

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June 1

The Legion of Regrettable Super Villains – Jon Morris

Legion of Regrettable Super VillainsEvery hero needs a villain. But not all villains are dangerous some are incompetent, comical, or just weird. In his follow-up to The League of Regrettable Superheroes, author Jon Morris presents over a hundred of the strangest, most stupefying supervillains to ever see print in comics. Meet D-list rogues like Brickbat (choice of weapon: poisonous bricks), Robbing Hood (steals from the poor to give to the rich), Swarm (a crook made of bees; Nazi bees), and many more. Drawing on the entire history of the medium, The Legion of Regrettable Supervillains affectionately and hilariously profiles oddball criminals from the history of comics.

 

My thanks to Jamie at Quirk Books for my review copy.

Factual books talking about fictional stories are brilliant distractions.  I have shelves of books which break down all 36 seasons of Doctor Who. Star Trek is also well represented as are volumes on Spider-man characters, every hero ever to be an Avenger, Batman through the years and even a Thunderbirds anthology.  So when Quirk Books kindly let me review The Legion of Regrettable Super Villains I was like a kid in a sweet shop (or a reader locked in a bookshop).

Jon Morris has trawled the archives of comic book history to find us some of the more obscure villains to grace the pages of comic books.  Spanning tales from the Golden Age (where there were a plethora of characters I confess I had never heard of). To modern times where there were signs some creative teams were rushing toward deadline and the inspiration-fairy had left them in the lurch. There are some weird and wonderful characters to read about and you can decide for yourself if you feel that some may be due a revival.

As with any of these collections I was instinctively drawn to the characters and stories that I recognised (and there were several).  By comparing my own opinion on some of the Regrettable Villains against that of the author I could benchmark how fairly, or not, they are being treated.  Overall I was very pleased with the outcome of that experiment as I seemed to be quite aligned to the author’s way of thinking for the most part.

Each Villain gets introduced, some of their history explained or the reason for their appearance outlined and we hear who they were pitted against.  There are some dark and twisted creative minds at work in the comic book world, some of these crooks are seriously disturbed and I am not sure some of the stories would be agreed by editors these days.

Regrettable Super Villains isn’t the type of book I can sit and pour through in a single sitting or two.  It was enjoyed over a few weeks as I dipped in and out of it and jumped from section to section. For a comic book fan it was sheer browsing pleasure, we need more books like this…these oddball weirdos must never be forgotten.

 

The Legion of Regrettable Super Villains is published by Quirk Books and is available now in gorgeous hardback and a digital version too. Copies ordered here: https://www.amazon.co.uk/Legion-Regrettable-Supervillains-Oddball-Criminals/dp/1594749329/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1495404300&sr=1-1&keywords=league+of+regrettable+supervillains

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