February 24

Stasi Wolf – David Young

Stasi WolfHow do you solve a murder when you can’t ask any questions?

East Germany, 1975. Karin Müller, sidelined from the murder squad in Berlin, jumps at the chance to be sent south to Halle-Neustadt, where a pair of infant twins have gone missing.

But Müller soon finds her problems have followed her. Halle-Neustadt is a new town – the pride of the communist state – and she and her team are forbidden by the Stasi from publicising the disappearances, lest they tarnish the town’s flawless image.

Meanwhile, in the eerily nameless streets and tower blocks, a child snatcher lurks, and the clock is ticking to rescue the twins alive . . .

 

My thanks to Emily at Zaffre for my review copy which I received through Netgalley

Karin Müller returns and I couldn’t be happier. Last year I had the opportunity to read David Young’s debut novel Stasi Child and I loved it. The story was set in 1970’s East Berlin and was a refreshingly different spin on a police procedural story.

Now Müller returns in Stasi Wolf and we find that the events in Stasi Child have resulted in her being sidelined by her department. She is frustrated by the lack of opportunities she is given to rebuild her career and finds herself interviewing petty criminals (necessary work for the State but a task well beneath her skill level). NB I should highlight that Stasi Wolf can be read as a stand-alone novel and it is not necessary to have read Stasi Child first…though I would absolutely recommend that you read both.

The disappearance of twin babies in the new town of Halle-Neustadt gives Karin a chance to head up a new investigation team and start to rebuild her career – not that she will have much option in turning down the request she investigates, that’s not how it works in East Berlin! Karin heads to Halle-Neustadt but she will find the experience rather challenging; the geography of the new town is somewhat unique (with just a single street in the whole town having a street name). There is also a tricky problem to overcome, keeping the good name of the town intact means she cannot publicise the fact that she is investigating a double kidnapping – so how can she be expected to make any enquiries?

There are a number of flashback moments in the story which take us back some 10 years prior to Müller’s investigation. While it is not immediately clear why this jump is being made (obviously it will become clear)  the ‘quirky’ characters that we follow made me want to keep reading to discover their relevance.

Once again David Young has crafted an engaging story which I found utterly compelling and wholly absorbing. I know nothing of 1970’s Germany but the world was expertly woven around me as I read Stasi Wolf. The constant awareness that Karin’s every move could be under scrutiny by the State gives a detective thriller the additional feel of reading a spy novel.

Müller is a great lead character and we get to see her really developed in this novel. Her private life is explored to give her life beyond her job and we get to learn something of her childhood and see some events which may have shaped her into the woman she has become.

David Young can tell a cracking story, Stasi Wolf should be on your reading list.

 

Stasi Wolf is published by Zaffre and is available now. You can order a copy here: https://www.amazon.co.uk/Stasi-Wolf-Oberleutnant-Karin-M%C3%BCller/dp/1785760688/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1487894341&sr=1-1&keywords=stasi+wolf

David has provided some fascinating insights into some of the background and actual events which made their way into Stasi Wolf.  If you follow back through the tour dates you will be richly rewarded

Stasi Wolf Tour

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February 22

Cursed – Thomas Enger

CursedWhen Hedda Hellberg fails to return from a retreat in Italy, where she has recently been grieving for her dead father, her husband discovers that her life is tangled in mystery.

Hedda never left Oslo, the retreat has no record of her and, what’s more, she appears to be connected to the murder of an old man, gunned down on the first day of the hunting season in the depths of the Swedish forests…

 

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

Housekeeping first – this is the 4th book in a series but the first that I have read. In no way did this prove problematic or impact upon my enjoyment of the story. Everything I needed to know was covered and (as I don’t know what I don’t know) I didn’t feel I was missing out on anything.

Journalist Nora Klemetsen is working on a story about a missing woman – Hedda Hellberg.  She was meant to be in Italy but failed to return from her trip, enquiries into where she may be cast doubt over whether Hedda actually left for Italy and suddenly there is suspicion over whether anyone really knew the truth about how Hedda was living her life.

Nora’s investigations will lead her to cross paths with her ex-husband (our main protagonist Henning Juul). They are both investigating the same case and it was fun to see how they had very contrasting approaches – an odd couple and their shared history made for a fascinating introduction to their characters for me.

Cursed was one of those books I just couldn’t put down. A gripping thriller, plenty of twists and great characters to follow on the adventure. Dark, emotive and wonderfully written to keep this reader on the edge of his seat.

I must also give a mention to Kari Dickson who worked on the translation of the original book – a fantastic job was done. Part of the appeal of Cursed for me was the skilled use of language in building up the suspense. The striking opening chapter which gripped me from the first page was so perfectly described I could almost feel myself drawn into that woodland walk.

 

Cursed is published by Orenda Books and can be ordered here: https://www.amazon.co.uk/Cursed-Henning-Juul-Thomas-Enger/dp/191063364X/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1487758737&sr=8-1&keywords=cursed+thomas+enger

 

Follow the tour:

Cursed blog tour

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February 22

Cross Purpose – Claire MacLeary

Cross PurposeWhen Maggie Laird’s disgraced ex-cop husband suddenly dies, her humdrum suburban life is turned upside down. With the bills mounting, she takes on his struggling detective agency, enlisting the help of neighbour Big Wilma. And so an unlikely partnership is born.

But the discovery of a crudely mutilated body soon raises the stakes… and Maggie and Wilma are drawn into an unknown world of Aberdeen’s sink estates, clandestine childminding and dodgy dealers. Cross Purpose is surprising, gritty, sometimes darkly humorous a tale combining police corruption, gangs and murder with a paean to friendship, loyalty and how women of a certain age can beat the odds.

 

My thanks to Sara of Saraband Books for a review copy of Cross Purpose

 

We first meet Maggie Laird when she is at her lowest possible ebb. Family life has been challenging of late as her husband had been forced to leave his job with the police after allegations of corruption. After scrabbling to make a success of a private investigator business we learn that he has died and left Maggie and their children with a pile of debt and no means to support themselves.

When you are not even left with a good name Maggie is determined to seek justice for her late husband – she knows the corruption charges are not to be believed. However, we realise that Maggie suffers from a lack of self confidence and it is going to take a monumental effort to convince herself that she is capable of gathering the evidence she needs to clear her husband’s name. Step forward Wilma…Maggie’s neighbour and she has more than enough confidence for both of them. The two women are like chalk and cheese but can they combine their talents to overcome the challenges which will face them?

In Cross Purpose Maggie and Wilma will visit some of Aberdeen’s least desirable areas and cross paths with a variety of unpleasant characters. There were some unexpectedly dark topics cropping up in Cross Purpose and it made for uncomfortable reading at times (but those are the stories I enjoy…the edgy and thought provoking ones).

It was refreshing to read a novel where the two principle characters are such contrasting personalities and seemingly finding it difficult to adjust to working together.  Their unlikely partnership made this a rewarding read and seeing Wilma’s confidence grow and her self-assurance return was pleasing. But success comes at a price and over-confidence can be dangerous so those plot twists caused me some angst.

With lashings of authentic Aberdeen and a fast paced plot keeping the pages turning, Cross Purpose was a blast to read and is highly recommended.

 

 

Cross Purpose is published by Saraband Books and will be released on 23 February. You can order a copy here: https://www.amazon.co.uk/Cross-Purpose-Claire-MacLeary/dp/1910192643/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1487715826&sr=8-1&keywords=cross+purpose

Category: From The Bookshelf | Comments Off on Cross Purpose – Claire MacLeary
February 20

Ragdoll – Daniel Cole – Release Week Update

RagdollA body is discovered with the dismembered parts of six victims stitched together, nicknamed by the press as the ‘Ragdoll’. Assigned to the shocking case are Detective William ‘Wolf’ Fawkes, recently reinstated to the London Met, and his former partner Detective Emily Baxter.

The ‘Ragdoll Killer’ taunts the police by releasing a list of names to the media, and the dates on which he intends to murder them. With six people to save, can Fawkes and Baxter catch a killer when the world is watching their every move?

 

 

 

My thanks to team at Trapeze who provided a review copy through Netgalley

Having shared my original review of Ragdoll a few weeks ago I bring a slightly updated take on the book and join the blog tour as this is the final countdown to release day….

Detective William Fawkes (aka Wolf) had put his heart and soul into capturing a killer. But when the jury returns its verdict, Wolf’s emotions boil over and he attacks his chief suspect beating him to within an inch of his life.

Spin forward a few years and Wolf is back in active service. His life has been turned upside down by the events in that courtroom, however, fate has conspired to give Wolf a fresh chance at salvaging his career. But Wolf cannot just shake off the baggage that he carries and someone is clearly not keen to let Wolf move on, a killer has decided to pit their skills up against that of the notorious “Wolf” Fawkes and if Wolf cannot identify a murderer then he may well become a victim too.

The cover blurb (0utlined above) gives an early indication that Daniel Cole is out to shock his readers with a dark tale of cop vs killer. I’d say he does a pretty good job too – Ragdoll should appeal to readers of Paul Finch and Katerina Diamond…you are never fully confident that anyone in the story is “untouchable” and everyone is in peril.

For readers who also enjoy tv police procedurals this is a story which you will feel is made for dramatization.  And that is my only (minor) quibble with Ragdoll – as much as I enjoyed the story it felt like reading the “book of the film”.  It seemed to have a very structured ebb and flow of big events: a build up to a cliff-hanger incident, resolve it, start a build up to the next one, resolve it. This is normal in all action/thriller books but in the case of Ragdoll they were very noticeable.

Style issues aside Ragdoll is a great read, I liked Fawkes who was a very engaging lead character. Daniel Cole delivers some really nasty twists and a couple of cracking “WTF” moments which had me re-reading paragraphs as I tried to get my head around what had just unexpectedly unfolded.

Be prepared to hear a lot more about Ragdoll through 2017, it’s going to be a biggie.

 

Ragdoll will publish on 23 February 2017 and is available to pre-order here: https://www.amazon.co.uk/Ragdoll-Daniel-Cole/dp/1409168743/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1487634296&sr=1-1&keywords=ragdoll+daniel+cole

 

RAGDOLL-BLOG-TOUR-FINAL

 

 

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February 20

Desperation Road – Michael Farris Smith

Desperation RoadFor eleven years the clock has been ticking for Russell Gaines as he sat in Parchman penitentiary in the Mississippi Delta. His time now up, and believing his debt paid, he returns home only to discover that revenge lives and breathes all around.

On the day of his release, a woman named Maben and her young daughter trudge along the side of the interstate under the punishing summer sun. Desperate and exhausted, the pair spend their last dollar on a motel room for the night, a night that ends with Maben running through the darkness holding a pistol, and a dead deputy sprawled across the road in the glow of his own headlights.

With dawn, destinies collide, and Russell is forced to decide whose life he will save – his own or that of the woman and child?

 

My thanks to Anne C for the opportunity to join the Desperation Road blog tour.

Russell Gaines is just out of prison. Having served his time he is making his way home – smalltown USA. We don’t immediately know what Russell has done, however, someone clearly has not forgotten his crime as on reaching town he is recognised and set upon by two men who beat him up.

Elsewhere a young woman is walking down a long stretch of interstate under the heat of a blazing sun. She has her daughter with her and the two are wilting in the heat. It is not clear where they have come from and they don’t seem to have a destination in mind but they are struggling and their desperation is apparent to the reader.

On eventually finding respite in a motel the mother spots an opportunity to earn some cash by providing comfort to truck drivers while her daughter sleeps – needs must.  However, events take an unexpected turn and she falls foul of the police but a trip to the station is not what this officer has in mind!

Two troubled souls are going to come together and in Michael Farris Smith’s Desperation Road there is a feeling that not everyone is going to come through the story and find a happy ending waiting for them.

As is often the way of a story set in a small town, the dynamics of the characters and the relationships they forge are the driving force behind the tale and Desperation Road is no different. Russell is a really likeable character, we learn why he was imprisoned, how those around him had to adjust and we see him step back into the space he left – only to find that everything has changed and moved on without him.  It is powerful reading at times and when his outlook was looking less than optimistic I was rooting for him to find a solution that would make his situation less bleak.

Desperation Road’s enjoyment is very much in the telling of the story.  It is paced just about perfectly for a tale of small town USA.  The story switches nicely between Russell and Maben (the mother of the young girl), their backstory is built up well and we find how their destiny will be inextricably linked. Very clever and entertainingly told.

 

Desperation Road is published by No Exit Press on 23 February 2017

You can order a copy here: https://www.amazon.co.uk/Desperation-Road-compelling-literary-crime-ebook/dp/B01N52ILFQ/ref=sr_tnr_p_1_362920031_1_twi_kin_2?ie=UTF8&qid=1487538873&sr=8-1&keywords=Desperation+Road++Michael+Farris+Smith

 

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February 18

Cover Reveal: Tag You’re Dead – Douglas Skelton

Last year Douglas Skelton introduced us to Dominic Queste in the fantastic The Dead Don’t Boogie. It was one of my favourite reads and was included in my Top 5 Scottish Books of 2016.

In just a few short weeks Queste will return in Tag You’re Dead and Douglas has entrusted three starry eyed bloggers to give everyone the first glimpse at the cover. Play the fanfare music….

Tag You're Dead

 

And a sneaky look at the cover blurb too:

Maverick investigator Dominic Queste is on the trail of missing butcher, Sam Price. But he soon uncovers a killer with a taste for games. What began as a simple favour for his girlfriend quickly descends into a battle for survival against an enemy who has no qualms about turning victims into prime cuts.

Amidst a twisted game of cat and mouse, suspicious coppers, vicious crooks and a seemingly random burglary, Queste has to keep his wits about him. Or he might just find himself on the butcher’s block.

Tag You’re Dead is published on 27th April by Sarabrand Books but I will be trying to bribe Douglas with offers of coffee and cake to come back and chat about the book before then – watch this space.

Now head over to visit my two starry-eyed buddies and catch their take on today’s reveal:

Noelle at CrimeBookJunkie: https://crimebookjunkie.co.uk/

Sharon at ChapterInMyLife: https://chapterinmylife.wordpress.com/

 

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February 15

City of Drowned Souls – Chris Lloyd

City of Drowned SoulsWhen a child disappears, the clock starts ticking

Detective Elisenda Domènech has had a tough few years. The loss of her daughter and a team member; the constant battles against colleagues and judges; the harrowing murder investigations… But it’s about to get much worse.

When the son of a controversial local politician goes missing at election time, Elisenda is put on the case. They simply must solve it. Only the team also have to deal with a spate of horrifically violent break-ins. People are being brutalised in their own homes and the public demands answers.

Could there be a connection? Why is nobody giving a straight answer? And where is Elisenda’s key informant, apparently vanished off the face of the earth? With the body count threatening to increase and her place in the force on the line, the waters are rising…

Be careful not to drown.

 

My thanks to Faye Rogers for my review copy and the opportunity to join the blog tour

My first introduction to the Elisenda Domènech books by Chris Lloyd and I am in a pretty happy place. I have a new series of books I can look forward to reading and (very importantly) beginning the series with this, the 3rd book, has not been a confusing or spoiler-filled affair.

There was loads going on in City of Drowned Souls so it was a richly rewarding read. Elisenda is investigating a series of violent burglaries when a tip-off which could have broken the case falls through. Tempers flare and to keep her position Elisenda has to attend therapist sessions – her colleagues fearing she is not contending well with the death of her daughter some years earlier.

Elsewhere the child of a local politician disappears. The family reaction is not typical but with an election just days away and the child’s mother in the depths of a fiercely fought campaign it is difficult for the police to get a meaningful take on what may have led to the young boy’s disappearance.

City of Drowned Souls is full of marvellous detail about Catalan politics, the locations are expertly described giving a real sense of location. Food habits, recipe ideas and dozens of subtle observations made it so very obvious that Chris Lloyd knows this part of the world very well – the detail makes the story so much more vivid and real.

Nicely paced, full of puzzles (with plenty of red herrings) and a few sinister elements which were great fun to see uncovered. City of Drowned Souls comes highly recommended and I look forward to catching up with the other novels in the series.

 

City of Drowned Souls is  published by Canelo and is available now.  You can order a copy here: https://www.amazon.co.uk/gp/product/B01N7Y2NDN

CODS blog tour 2

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February 14

DC Super Hero Girls: Wonder Woman at Superhero High – Lisa Yee

Wonder Woman at Super Hero HighThe first book in an exciting new DC Super Hero Girls™ fiction series!

Wonder Woman™ wants to be the best super hero she can be, and that means going to Super Hero High School. But there’s a lot for the teen super hero to get used to at her new school! Save the Day alarms, a room-mate who shares everything on social media . . . not to mention the fact that Wonder Woman has never seen a boy before.

And, on top of all that, it seems like someone doesn’t want the Amazon princess at the school. Who’s been sending Wonder Woman nasty notes? And will they ruin her chances of success at Super Hero High School?

 

My thanks to Sarah at Penguin Random House for my review copy

I have been a fan of comic books since I was a kid and the love of those monthly ongoing adventures has never faded. Now my kids have reached the age that I was at when I started to follow the adventures of Batman, Superman and Spider-man.  Back then we had Christopher Reeve in the Superman movies and not much else beyond any comic book you could find in your local newsagent (and in 1980’s Scotland there were precious few of those!)

These days my kids are spoiled for choice as they can do Teen Titans on the cartoon channels, stream Avengers or DareDevil through Netflix or raid my bookshelves for my DC and Marvel graphic novels. So when I suggested they may enjoy the new DC Super Heroes Girls books they were more than a little excited!

And for good reason – these books are perfectly pitched for readers around 8-11 years of age and make really good use of the DC comic book heroes. In Wonder Woman at Super Hero High we have Wonder Woman as a young girl hitting high school for the first time. The story is pitched at a level akin to the Middle Grade schools which my kids are inhaling on a daily basis at the moment so the Hero angle was a welcome change.

I left the eldest bookworm (10 years old) to read his way through the book on his own.  Once done I grilled him for his thoughts…”really good story. I loved when new characters came in and I knew who they were – and it was weird too that they were at school”.  Worth pointing out that my bookworm is a young lad and this is Super Hero Girls – this may explain the “a bit girly at times” comment too but it didn’t stop him reading and enjoying it (and asking if there were other books in the series).

DC Super Hero Girls - Power UpThere are other books in the DC Super Hero Girls range which may appeal to younger kids too.  My 7 year old (the arty one in the family) had loads of fun with the Sticker Book and Doodle book.

This looks a great collection for kids who have got the superhero bug and with The LEGO Batman Movie in cinema’s at the moment there are bound to be a few more budding comic book fans looking for more stories about their heroes.

Wonder Woman at Super Hero High scored as a bit hit with my kids and got their official seal of approval.

 

Wonder Woman at Super Hero High is published by Puffin and is available now.

You can order books from the DC Super Hero Girls range here: https://www.amazon.co.uk/DC-Super-Hero-Girls-Wonder/dp/014137473X/ref=sr_1_2?ie=UTF8&qid=1487112754&sr=8-2&keywords=wonder+woman+at+superhero+high

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February 13

The Intrusions – Stav Sherez

The IntrusionsWhen a distressed young woman arrives at their station claiming her friend has been abducted, and that the man threatened to come back and ‘claim her next’, Detectives Carrigan and Miller are thrust into a terrifying new world of stalking and obsession.

Taking them from a Bayswater hostel, where backpackers and foreign students share dorms and failing dreams, to the emerging threat of online intimidation, hacking, and control, The Intrusions explores disturbing contemporary themes with all the skill and dark psychology that Stav Sherez’s work has been so acclaimed for.

Under scrutiny themselves, and with old foes and enmities re-surfacing, how long will Carrigan and Miller have to find out the truth behind what these two women have been subjected to?

 

My thanks to Faber & Faber for my review copy which I received through Netgalley

The Intrusions gripped me. Totally, completely hooked me from the outset. I read it in three sittings and each time I had to put down the book (to go and do the day job) I was counting down the minutes until the time when I could pick it up and begin reading again.

What made matters worse was that when I found out what the Intrusions from the title actually were I became more than a little freaked out. Not only was I dying to get back to reading, I was obsessing slightly about plot threads from the story and looking around my environment wondering if there were reasons to worry!

Cryptic?  Sorry but once you read the book you will understand why…it is a chilling idea but I have no doubt it is happening all around us.

The Intrusions was my first introduction to Stav Sheraz’s books and there were references to previous stories featuring the lead characters (Carrigan and Miller). Sometimes that can be a frustration for a new reader but in this case I found myself on several occasions thinking “I MUST go back and read the earlier books” as the backstory sounds superb.

The Intrusions begins with an abduction but it is not long before events will spiral into a much bigger challenge for the police. I particularly enjoyed how well the investigation was presented by the author, I really felt I was tracking their footsteps as they hunted down leads. Not every police thriller can capture the sense of urgency and pressure of an active investigation but, as I indicated above, I was gripped.

Without doubt one of the best books I have read for many months and a story I am recommending to anyone that will listen. Do not miss The Intrusions.

 

The Intrusions is published by Faber & Faber and is available now. You can order a copy here: https://www.amazon.co.uk/d/cka/Intrusions-Carrigan-Miller-Stav-Sherez/0571297250/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1486941671&sr=1-1&keywords=stav+sherez

Category: 5* Reviews | Comments Off on The Intrusions – Stav Sherez
February 8

All The Missing Girls – Megan Miranda

8.2.16 - Day 9 - Grab This Book

 

It’s been ten years since Nicolette Farrell left her rural hometown after her best friend, Corinne, disappeared without trace. Then a letter from her father arrives – ‘I need to talk to you. That girl. I saw that girl.’ Has her father’s dementia worsened, or has he really seen Corinne? Returning home, Nicolette must finally face what happened on that terrible night all those years ago.

Then, another young woman goes missing, almost to the day of the anniversary of when Corinne vanished. And like ten years ago, the whole town is a suspect.

Told backwards – Day 15 to Day 1 – Nicolette works to unravel the truth, revealing shocking secrets about her friends, her family, and what really happened to Corinne.

Like nothing you’ve ever read before, All the Missing Girls is a brilliantly plotted debut thriller that will leave you breathless.

 

All the missing girlsMy thanks to Katherine at Atlantic Books for my review copy and the chance to join the tour.

I do love a small town thriller. In a city nobody cares what may be going on right under their noses, however, in small towns the mindset of the residents is totally different – EVERYONE cares what you do. If you have a secret in a small town you can guarantee everyone else has a theory as to what that may be!

Ten years ago Nicolette’s best friend, Corinne,  vanished. Nic left town shortly afterwards but now she has had to return and face the demons of her past. Nic’s father is suffering badly with advanced dementia but could he be remembering something important about Corinne’s disappearance or is a cryptic statement simply a false memory brought on by his disease.

Almost 10 years to the day that Corinne vanished another girl has gone missing and tensions are running high. All the Missing Girls tracks a 15 day period and covers the events surrounding the investigations. However, everything is told backwards (day 15 back to day 1) so you had better be ready to pay attention as this time it is effect then cause rather than cause and effect.

A devilishly clever idea and it had me really focussed on the story as I realised that the conversation in one chapter was the direct result of a conversation which we see take place 30 pages later.  Keeping up?  Good – it will keep you on your toes.

I like when an author puts a twist on a story and All the Missing Girls has twists aplenty! The style may not be for everyone but if you fancy something new in your crime fiction this is one for you.

 

All the Missing Girls is published by Altantic Books/Corvus and you can get your copy here: https://www.amazon.co.uk/d/Books/All-Missing-Girls-Megan-Miranda/1786490811/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1486495241&sr=8-1&keywords=all+the+missing+girls

Final blog tour poster

 

 

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