May 20

The Spy Who Chipped The China Teacup – Angie Smith

Spy Who Chipped The China TeacupArms dealing. Murder. Corruption. 

In Africa, Taylor Hudson reaches the stark realisation that she is in imminent danger.

Time is nearly up when, out of nowhere, she is thrown a lifeline.  Left with little option, she places her trust in a complete stranger. But who is this stranger and why the interest in saving her?

The answers lie 6,000 miles away, deep inside the British Secret Intelligence Service, where a former, disgraced, senior officer is attempting to work his way back into the heart of the organisation. But what are his real intentions?

What ensues is a deadly game of bluff, double-bluff and triple-bluff.

Can The China Teacup survive this time?

 

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

 

The Spy Who Chipped the China Teacup is certainly one of the more unusually named books I have read this year, however, the story is what I was really interested in and it is every bit as intriguing as the book title.

A spy thriller with a decidedly dark edge to it. There are some really not nice bad guys in this book and they make a lot of money through gun running. To ensure their operations remain hidden from the eyes of the authorities they are prepared to kill anyone that threatens their business. Teacup features some really unpleasant murders and Angie Smith is not going to sugar coat the experience for readers, be warned!

From the opening pages the action kicks in and the book is an adrenalin rush of a read. We meet Taylor Hudson – she is married to the main bad guy and she wants out. Taylor knows this will not be easy and the reader joins the story just as one of her husband’s henchmen finds her in the remote African wilderness. Fortunately for Taylor the man sent to kill her is actually an undercover operative that is looking to bring down the gun running business.

This may sound like a major spoiler, however, as it covers the opening few pages I am reasonably comfortable using it to illustrate one key element of The Spy Who Chipped the China Teacup – everyone in the book seems to be working to a secret agenda.  There are bluffs, double-crosses, lies, red herrings and falsehoods at every page turn. Be prepared to have to pay attention to this book as there is loads going on and you need to keep track to get maximum enjoyment.

The action spans the globe as the South of Africa, beautifully depicted, houses Hudson (the arms dealer) but it is the British Intelligence Service in London who are actively working to end his business deals. Players in this dangerous game of cat and mouse are zipped around from location to location and we see how events in Africa  can have an immediate impact on the agents working in London.  When nobody knows who they can trust it makes for a tense reading experience and Angie Smith exploits the uncertainties and duplicitous alliances with deadly efficiency.

Long ago a spy thriller would make me think of characters having clandestine chats on a park bench, leaving a coded message in a newspaper for another agent to recover. I tended not to read spy novels as there was frequently not enough going on to hold my attention.  With The Spy Who Chipped the China Teacup I can see that I need to re-evaluate my opinion of the genre – this is full on action and I had to slow my reading to ensure I was not missing any of the twists.

Great fun. It’s sneaky, twisty, shocking and a storming page-turner.

 

The Spy Who Chipped the China Teacup is published by Bloodhound Books and is available now in paperback and digital format.  You can order a copy here: https://www.amazon.co.uk/Spy-Who-Chipped-China-Teacup-ebook/dp/B0725LHQRR/ref=asap_bc?ie=UTF8

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May 19

The Fact of a Body – Alexandria Marzano-Lesnevich

The Fact of a BodyBefore Alexandria Marzano-Lesnevich begins a summer job at a law firm in Louisiana, working on the retrial defence of death-row convicted murderer and child molester, Ricky Langley, she thinks her position is clear. The child of two lawyers, she is staunchly anti death penalty. But the moment Ricky’s face flashes on the screen as she reviews old tapes, the moment she hears him speak of his crimes, she is overcome with the feeling of wanting him to die. Shocked by her reaction, she digs deeper and deeper into the case, realizing that despite their vastly different circumstances, something in his story is unsettlingly, uncannily familiar.

Crime, even the darkest and most unspeakable acts, can happen to any one of us, and as Alexandria pores over the facts of the murder, she finds herself thrust into the complicated narrative of Ricky’s childhood. And by examining minute details of Ricky’s case, she is forced to face her own story, to unearth long-buried family secrets, to reckon with how her own past colours her view of his crime.

As enthralling as true-crime classics such as In Cold Blood and Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil and broadcast phenomena such as Making a Murderer and Serial, The Fact of a Body is a groundbreaking, heart-stopping investigation into how the law is personal, composed of individual stories and proof that arriving at the truth is more complicated, and powerful, than we could ever imagine.

 

My thanks to Rachael at Pan Macmillan for my review copy – received through Netgalley

Non fiction – sometimes (well almost never) I read non fiction. The few times I do make a departure from my comfort zone of “made-up stuff” it has to be for a book that really captures my interest – The Fact of a Body was that book. The synopsis (as outlined above) grabbed me – why would someone so firmly against the death penalty suddenly have such a dramatic change of heart. What could one man have done to shake the fundamental belief of an educated and intelligent young woman that would make her wish him dead?  That is the kind of non-fiction story I cannot look past.

Langley arrested
Langley arrested

Ricky Langley was a paedophile who murdered a young boy and hid his body for several days before his crime was finally discovered and he was arrested and subsequently sentenced to death. The Fact of a Body will explore Langley’s story, his crimes are unflinchingly documented, his motives and behaviour will be considered and it will frequently make for uncomfortable reading.

Langley’s background and the events leading to his conviction will told by Alexandria Marzano-Lesnevich – a lawyer who travelled to Louisiana to work on death sentence cases during summer recess from Law School. The author tells the reader Langley’s story and cold facts are fleshed out into an absorbing narrative. At times I did feel I was reading a work of fiction such was the level of detail and the recreation of conversations that are used to build up an accurate recreation of events.

Author picture by Nina Subin
Author picture by Nina Subin

Interwoven with the Ricky Langley story is that of the author herself.  This is her tale too and Alexandria Marzano-Lesnevich will give an equally unflinching account of how her life was shaped. From her first introduction to law, the fascination of arguing cases and the desire to pursue a legal career we also get her personal story. The no spoilers rule if firmly in play here but if you read through the description at the top of the review it should be clear that Langley’s case will cause the author to confront some close-to-home events in her own life.

The Fact of a Body is a compelling read. It is the story of families and the secrets they keep, the struggles they face and it is the story of a man who knows he has a problem which he cannot control, yet was allowed to live and work in a community unchallenged by the authorities until it was too late to prevent a tragic death.

I found The Fact of a Body more unsettling than many thrillers or horror stories I have read.  I put this down to knowing that the crimes I was reading about were based on fact – someone died, mistakes were made and the grief we read about were real tears shed by grieving survivors. That said, I was very glad to have read The Fact of a Body as it was such a powerful reading experience. As the blurb said…if you watched and were hooked by Making a Murderer then The Fact of a Body should be an immediate addition to your bookshelves.

 

The Fact of a Body was published on 18 May 2017 by Macmillan and you can order a copy here: https://www.amazon.co.uk/Fact-Body-Murder-Memoir/dp/1509805621/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1495228425&sr=8-1&keywords=the+fact+of+a+body

 

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May 19

Need You Dead – Peter James – Guest Post – Black Widow Cocktail

Need You Dead. HB. High Res JacketToday I am delighted to welcome Peter James back to Grab This Book as the Need You Dead blog tour draws to its conclusion.

Need You Dead released on 18 May and details of the new Roy Grace thriller (along with a handy link to order your copy) follow at the foot of this post.  However, before we get there Mr James is going to wind down after a 12 leg blog tour with a wee drink…

 

The Perfect Cocktail Recipe

A vodka martini is the favourite tipple of Detective Superintendent Roy Grace. And when the protagonist of the Love You Dead, Jodie Bentley, meets her next target, wealthy Walt Klein, in a bar in the Bellagio in Las Vegas, he is happily knocking back martinis – rather too many for his own good! It also just happens to be Peter James’ drink of choice!

It was one of my favourite authors, Ernest Hemingway, who allegedly said, ‘Write drunk, edit sober…’ and another of my favourites, Raymond Chandler, famously took that to extremes, pretty much binge drinking himself to death.  I know many current writers who never touch a drop of alcohol until their day’s work is done, but equally I know several global best-selling authors who have a rocket-fuel boost to their work – either massive doses of caffeine, or booze, weed or cocaine.

My own writing day is back-to-front – I made a “me-time” for writing in the days when I worked full-time in film and television, and that was 6-10pm at night, and that today is still when I do my best writing.  My sessions start with a ritual, and that is making my Martini.  The whole process kicks some Pavlovian creative response off in my brain.  And of course that first, delicious, ice-cold bite – and kick.  The key is not to have too much – these are truly powerful cocktails!  One sip, music blasting from my speakers – Van Morrison or maybe the Kinks, and I’m hammering away on the keyboard as happy as Larry.

The Perfect Vodka Martini … This serves 1

Ingredients

A proper, clear crystal martini glass of decent quality.  No other drinking vessel can be substituted.

Grey Goose vodka (or brand as preferred, this is mine)

Martini Extra Dry

Four plain olives, pitted.

1 lemon

1 cocktail stick

1 cocktail shaker

Cubed Ice

 

Peter James author photoMethod

Fill martini glass ¾ with vodka.

Using the cap of the Martini Extra Dry bottle as a measure, tip two capfuls of Martini into the glass.

Now pour the mixture into empty cocktail shaker.

Fill the glass to the brim with ice cubes and leave for 5 mins.

Pour these cubes plus fresh cubes into cocktail shaker.

Secure the top carefully then shake hard for thirty seconds and pour into glass.

Now you have a choice.  A twist or with olives – or both.  My taste alternates!

 

For with a twist:

Cut a lemon in half.

Peel a thin strip of rind three inches long, and drop into the glass.

Cut a lemon wedge, make an opening in the centre, and run this all the way around the rim of the glass on both sides.

 

For olives:

Spear four olives with cocktail stick and place in glass.

 

For the combo:  The four olives as above, but wipe the rim of the glass with a wedge of lemon.

 

Enjoy!  But remember Dorothy Parker’s caveat:  “I like to have a martini, two at the very most… after three I’m under the table, after four I’m under my host.”

 

My thanks to Peter –  Slàinte

 

NEED YOU DEAD

Lorna Belling, desperate to escape the marriage from hell, falls for the charms of another man who promises her the earth. But, as Lorna finds, life seldom follows the plans you’ve made. A chance photograph on a client’s mobile phone changes everything for her.

When the body of a woman is found in a bath in Brighton, Detective Superintendent Roy Grace is called to the scene. At first it looks an open and shut case with a clear prime suspect. Then other scenarios begin to present themselves, each of them tantalizingly plausible, until, in a sudden turn of events, and to his utter disbelief, the case turns more sinister than Grace could ever have imagined.

 

Need You Dead is published by MacMillan and is available in Hardback and Digital Format. You can order a copy here: https://www.amazon.co.uk/Need-You-Dead-Grace-Book-ebook/dp/B01N557W15/ref=asap_bc?ie=UTF8

 

 

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May 17

Death’s Silent Judgement – Anne Coates Q&A

Today I am delighted to host the latest leg of the blog tour for Death’s Silent Judgement. It is a thrill to welcome Anne Coates to Grab This Book – Anne has kindly agreed to answer a few of my questions about her new thriller.

Before we get to my questions here is a quick look at Death’s Silent Judgement:

Deaths Silent JudgementDeath’s Silent Judgement is the thrilling sequel to Dancers in the Wind, and continues the gripping series starring London-based investigative journalist Hannah Weybridge. The series is very much in the best traditions of British women crime writers such as Lynda La Plante and Martina Cole. Following the deadly events of Dancers in the Wind, freelance journalist and single mother Hannah Weybridge is thrown into the heart of a horrific murder investigation when a friend, Liz Rayman, is found with her throat slashed at her dental practice. With few clues to the apparently motiveless crime Hannah throws herself into discovering the reason for her friend s brutal murder, and is determined to unmask the killer. But before long Hannah’s investigations place her in mortal danger, her hunt for the truth placing her in the path of a remorseless killer…

 

First question is never an actual question, could I ask that you introduce yourself and give us a quick overview of Death’s Silent Judgement?

Thank you, Gordon. I’m Anne Coates, live in south London and have always worked in publishing/journalism. My seven non-fiction books have concentrated on parenting and education, plus I have also published short stories. Death’s Silent Judgement, my second crime thriller, begins with the murder of a dentist giving free treatment to the homeless in Waterloo. What seems a motiveless crime turns ever more sinister as Hannah Weybridge follows leads that eventually put her own life in danger.

 

Death’s Silent Judgement sees the return of Hannah Weybridge – Hannah also appeared in Dancers in the Wind. For new readers could you outline something of Hannah’s background?

Love to. Hannah, in her mid-30s, is a single parent and freelance journalist. Previously she had a staff job on a woman’s magazine. When we meet her in 1993, she is struggling financially but has recently been commissioned to write for a national newspaper. In some ways she is isolated – an only child whose parents have just moved to France – and as a single parent and therefore is vulnerable. Almost by accident she begins to investigate crimes.

 

In Dancers there were prostitutes disappearing, their battered bodies subsequently found. Now in Death’s Silent Judgement Hannah is investigating why her friend may have been murdered. Hannah is a journalist but could both stories have been told with Hannah as a police officer?  I wondered if her being an investigative journalist gives you more scope or, perhaps, you decided that you didn’t want to write a “cop” thriller?

I think both books would have been totally different if Hannah had been a police officer. It is because she isn’t a law enforcer that she can tread more varied paths when she’s digging for information. She isn’t answerable to anyone – except her editor. She also makes mistakes and is naïve at times and takes risks. I’m not saying that a police officer wouldn’t be similar but the whole premise would be different. There are police procedurals where an officer goes “off piste” but that is often more difficult to justify.

 

dancers-in-the-windWas it always your intention to feature Hannah in more than one novel or did you write Dancers and decide you liked the character and wanted to bring her back?

After I wrote Dancers in the Wind, many years ago, I went straight on to write the first three chapters of Death’s Silent Judgement so, yes my intention has always been that she would feature in more than one book.

 

Are you a crime fiction reader?  I am often surprised at how many authors say they tend not to read crime novels or thrillers.

I’ve always read crime novels –who hasn’t read Agatha Christie? I love Wilkie Collins, a contemporary of Dickens, and one of my early favourites was Minette Walters so it was interesting to read that she’s written a new book after a long hiatus but has given up on crime. Twitter has introduced me to a whole range of new crime authors and I particularly like police procedurals although I’m not sure I’d ever write one. I am amazed at the range within the crime/thriller genre. People are often snobbish about what they call “genre” fiction. If it’s a good read, category shouldn’t matter.

 

Leaving aside the element of commercial success, which book (or books) have you read which made you think – “I’d have loved to have had that idea” or “I wish I’d written that”?

Recently I read and was totally bowled over by Sealskin by Su Bristow. It’s beautifully written and totally engrossing.

 

SealskinWhen you are not writing how do you escape the keyboard and the edits?  What distractions can you look forward to?

I love going to the cinema and theatre. We have a local Picturehouse, only a few minutes’ walk away which is an interesting place to go to apart from the films. I nearly always bump into friends there. Theatre is a luxury but I am sometimes offered press tickets and I belong to a theatre club, which gets comps from time to time. Meeting up with friends for a meal or a drink is always high on my list of distractions.

One last question, dare we ask if there is a new project underway or are you taking some time to enjoy releasing Death’s Silent Judgement into the hands of us eager readers?

No rest for the wicked – I am currently halfway through the first draft of a new Hannah Weybridge thriller – so a long way to go yet and I need a title. I’m also toying with writing something completely different in the first person and at some stage I’d like to explore a character who haunts me, crying out for her story to be written.

Thank you very much for inviting me to be cross-examined on your blog!

My thanks to you Anne I had fun coming up with the questions and loved your answers.

 

Death’s Silent Judgement is published by Urbane Publications and is available now in both paperback and digital format. You can order a copy here: https://www.amazon.co.uk/Deaths-Silent-Judgement-Hannah-Weybridge/dp/1911331353/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1495055776&sr=1-1&keywords=deaths+silent+judgement

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May 15

Arrowood – Mick Finlay

ArrowoodLondon Society takes their problems to Sherlock Holmes. Everyone else goes to Arrowood.

1895: London’s scared. A killer haunts the city’s streets. The poor are hungry; crime bosses are taking control; the police force stretched to breaking point.

While the rich turn to Sherlock Holmes, the celebrated private detective rarely visits the densely populated streets of South London, where the crimes are sleazier and the people are poorer.

In a dark corner of Southwark, victims turn to a man who despises Holmes, his wealthy clientele and his showy forensic approach to crime: Arrowood – self-taught psychologist, occasional drunkard and private investigator.

When a man mysteriously disappears and Arrowood’s best lead is viciously stabbed before his eyes, he and his sidekick Barnett face their toughest quest yet: to capture the head of the most notorious gang in London…

 

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

 

This was fun.

Arrowood lives and works in London as an investigator. Unfortunately for him he finds himself competing for work against Mr Sherlock Holmes – a man who Arrowood believes benefits from good reporting but is (in Arrowood’s opinion) not as great as his reputation suggests.

Struggling for money Arrowood is given a fiscal lifeline when a woman tries to engage his services to locate her missing brother. Her seemingly simple request will lead Arrowood and his companion Barnett on a trail around some of the darker sides of Victorian London and will place them in danger on more than one occasion. Through the pubs and inns Arrowood and Barnett will bribe, cajole and intimidate the staff of the finer houses and will dig deeper into the puzzle of the missing man.  But they are not the only ones looking and the stakes will be raised as a potential witness is murdered in front of their eyes.

The author does a great job of bringing Victorian London to life and the characters encountered are frequently rough and ready. Arrowood is not the most heroic of lead characters, frequently deferring the unpleasant tasks to Barnett and hiding until it is safe to emerge. But he is not adverse to breaking the law to achieve a result and this made for entertaining reading.

I don’t read many historical novels but Arrowood was pitched just right and captured the feeling of time and place that allowed the story to flow.

If you have enjoyed Sherlock Holmes stories then this tale of one of his rivals is well worth seeking out.

 

Arrowood is published in Hardback and Digital format by HQ.  You can order a copy here: https://www.amazon.co.uk/Arrowood-Mick-Finlay/dp/0008203180/ref=tmm_hrd_swatch_0?_encoding=UTF8&qid=1494885614&sr=1-1

 

 

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May 3

Time To Win – Harry Brett

Time To WinWhen local crime boss Richard Goodwin is pulled from the river by his office it looks like suicide. But as his widow Tatiana feared, Rich collected enemies like poker chips, and half of Great Yarmouth’s criminal fraternity would have had reason to kill him.

Realising how little she knows about the man she married, Tatty seeks to uncover the truth about Rich’s death and take over the reins of the family business, overseeing a waterfront casino deal Rich hoped would put Yarmouth on the map.

Out of the shadows at last, it is Tatty’s time now, and she isn’t going to let Rich’s brother, or anyone else, stand in her way. But an American has been in town asking the right people the wrong questions, more bodies turn up, along with a brutal new gang. The stakes have never been higher.

With her family to protect, and a business to run, Tatty soon learns that power comes with a price . . .

 

My thanks to Hayley at LittleBrown for my review copy and the chance to join the tour.

 

Time To Win is set in Great Yarmouth and the town is key to the underlying story. Harry Brett clearly knows the town well as it is vividly brought to life for the reader, even down to the salty sea air and the somewhat run-down feel that seems to prevail.

I will ‘fess up from the start…the geography of England is not my strong point and I had no idea where to find Great Yarmouth on a map (though I do now). However in Time To Win I got a real feel for the place and I put this entirely down to Brett’s narrative. It felt perfect for this dark, grim story of a family grinding a living out of their hometown.

Not that these are grafters, perhaps ‘grifters’ may be more apt as we are following a family that are possibly best described as mobsters. We join the story as the head of the family breathes his last. An apparent suicide it now looks like the family ‘businesses’ will be run by his brother. However, step forward the grieving widow Titania (Tatty). She and her kids are taking control of the family interests and it will take all their guile, and a huge amount of ruthlessness, to make a successful attempt to gain power.

A slight slow burn to get us started soon gives way to an engrossing story. The early chapters are defining the characters and this allows the reader to see just how far Tatty has to rise if she is to grab the power she seeks.

Time To Win is the opening book in a series and I believe that there are at least two more to follow. This is welcome news as Harry Brett is crafting a fascinating criminal underworld for Great Yarmouth and if there are more stories to be told I shall gladly listen.
Fans of gangsters, dark deeds and lovers of noir this is a book you should be seeking out.

 

Time to Win is published by Corsair and is available in Hardback and Digital formats.  You can order a copy here: https://www.amazon.co.uk/Time-Win-Harry-Brett-ebook/dp/B01M1MNS0L/ref=sr_1_1?s=digital-text&ie=UTF8&qid=1493764369&sr=1-1&keywords=time+to+win

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May 2

The Quiet Man – James Carol

The Quiet ManIn Vancouver, the wife of a millionaire is dead following an explosion in her own home.

Everyone thinks her husband is responsible, but former FBI profiler Jefferson Winter isn’t so sure. The method is too perfect; the lack of mistakes, uncanny. He’s seen a series of carefully orchestrated murders – once a year, on exactly the same day, a woman dies in a situation just like this one.

That date is fast approaching and Winter knows another victim has been selected. Can he identify the quiet man before he strikes again?

 

My thanks to Lauren at Faber for my review copy and the chance to join the blog tour.

 

There is nothing better for a reader to pick up a book and immediately become lost in the story. The Quiet Man did that for me – I absolutely loved it.

Jefferson Winter is a former FBI profiler who is called to Vancouver to assist a former cop to solve a series of murders which have taken place over a number of years.  On August 5th someone will be killed. They will be tied to a chair in their kitchen and a bomb placed in the room with them and each year the bomb is triggered in the same way (but no spoiler on that dark detail).  It is approaching August 5th again and Winter has been engaged by the spouse of one of the victims to help find the killer.

The Vancouver police have made no progress, the lead investigator has been replaced but Winter will need to prove his credentials and show he can make a valued contribution to the investigation if he is to receive any formal co-operation from the police. The political aspect of the story in that regard made for fun reading – Winter doesn’t have too much respect for the police and they are wary of his involvement. The verbal sparring was entertaining and it was fun to see Winter puzzling out the past crimes and looking for threads whilst keeping one step ahead of everyone else.

The Quiet Man is absorbing, cleverly plotted thriller. Although this is not the first outing for Jefferson Winter you don’t need to have read any of the previous books to enjoy the new adventure. The prolonged gap between each of the killer’s victims made for an interesting twist and the bombing element was nasty – great combo for readers.

I said at the start that I loved The Quiet Man – I really, really did and it gets a 5* review score. Plus I have now bought all the other books in the series – that’s almost like an extra star.

 

The Quiet Man is published by Faber on 4th May and is available in paperback and digital format. A copy can be ordered here: https://www.amazon.co.uk/Quiet-Man-James-Carol-ebook/dp/B01MR5L174/ref=tmm_kin_swatch_0?_encoding=UTF8&qid=1493758543&sr=1-1

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April 29

Watching You – J.A. Schneider

Watching YouA serial killer texts his victims first. A detective vows revenge. He comes after her.

In the chill of an October night, Detective Kerri Blasco is called to a bizarre murder scene. Leda Winfield, a young volunteer for the homeless, has been shot. Her cell phone displays the frightening text, WATCHING YOU, and into her back, hideously pushed with a hat pin, is a note with the same awful message. Leda’s socialite family and friends insist that no one would have wanted to harm her, but Detective Kerri isn’t convinced.

Until another random young woman is killed in exactly the same way. Kerri and her team profile a monstrous killer who enjoys terrifying his victims before stalking and killing them. But how does he get their phone numbers?

Kerri soon finds that the killer is after her, too, and that the key to finding him may just be in the homeless shelter. When the body count rises, she vows to stop the madman – even if it means battling her own personal trauma, risking her job, her love relationship with her boss Alex Brand, and her life.

 

My thanks to Joyce for sending me a review copy of Watching You and for the chance to join the blog tour.

 

Last year I read Her Last Breath and was introduced to Detective Kerri Blasco. You can read my review here but to save you a click…I absolutely loved it.

Now Blasco returns in JA Schneider’s new thriller Watching You and this is another cracking read.

A young woman, working at a local homeless shelter has received a text message which she found very unsettling.  The message simply read WATCHING YOU.  As Leda walks through the city in the evening the readers get to see that she is being followed, as she walks through the narrow streets she is jumped and her assailant shoots her in the back of the head – a note is pinned to her body (driven into her flesh) which read WATCHING YOU.

The police are shocked by the clinical dispassionate manner in which Leda was killed and there does not appear to be any obvious motive for someone wanting to kill Leda, were it not for the messages it would likely have been considered a random incident.

Kerri Blasco is on the investigative team and we follow her progress as interviews of Leda’s family and friends begin. Watching You is a police procedural and the author does a great job of balancing Kerri’s investigations whilst also switching to the viewpoint of the killer. Yup we get a murderer’s POV as to how they plan to select the next victim – the text message warning: WATCHING YOU is an important part of the game that they are playing. The fear the prospective victim will experience is very important to the killer and sticking the same message to a victim’s body will taunt the police.

What Kerri does not realise but the killer has set their sights on her as a potential victim. Although a plan is in place it is now being adapted and Kerri is being brought into a game that she does not even know is being played. With Kerri’s life at risk it becomes imperative that she makes progress with her investigation, she just doesn’t know the implications of failure.

I loved the balance of police procedural and serial killer thriller.  Joyce Schneider knows how to grab a reader’s attention and Watching You is another slick, gripping read. The Kerri Blasco series is highly recommended – she is an engaging and likeable lead character and if you are a fan of fast pace crime thrillers then these books are highly recommended.

 

You can order a copy of Watching You via this link: http://getBook.at/watchingyou 

 

Website: http://jaschneiderauthor.net

Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/5832782.J_A_Schneider

Twitter: https://twitter.com/JoyceSchneider1

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/joyce.schneider.142?fref=ts

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April 28

Tag – You’re Dead – Douglas Skelton

Tag You're DeadMaverick investigator Dominic Queste is on the trail of missing butcher Sam Price. But he soon uncovers links to 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.

 

My thanks to Sara at Saraband for my review copy.

Last year Douglas Skelton introduced us to Dominic Queste in the wonderfully titled The Dead Don’t Boogie. At the end of 2016, when I was looking back over the books that I had enjoyed over the previous 12 months, I included Boogie in my top 5 Scottish Books of the Year. Queste had to return (and he did) but Mr Skelton made us wait.

Spin forward to April 2017 and Dominic Queste is here for a second outing in Tag – You’re Dead and it was well worth the wait as this is another corker.

Queste is called into action to trace a missing butcher. But it appears that the missing man may have had his fingers in more than one steak pie – it seems that he also liked to aid in the relocation of stolen goods (and this kind of behaviour attracts the wrong type of person opening up a huge list of possible suspects that may know why he has vanished).

Dominic will have his work cut-out so the last thing that he needs is to have attracted the unwanted attentions of a killer that likes to stalk and torment his victims before ending their lives. Unfortunately for Queste he appears to be lined up as the killer’s next victim and if Dominic doesn’t play the game then the killer is more than happy to target Dominic’s friends.  Keeping his predicament a secret is paramount in the rules of the killer’s game, however, this will create a problem for Queste as the lady in his life (the fabulous Ginty) has trust issues having fallen for the wrong type of character in the past.

Tag – You’re Dead is a dark suspenseful thriller, there are some nasty types running around and not all of them are Dominic’s friends. But Queste is an absolute joy to read about. He is quick witted and fails at keeping his mouth shut when discretion would be advisable. It is a tricky balance to have a wisecracking lead character taking you through such a tense adventure but Douglas Skelton pitches it perfectly and Tag – You’re Dead is not going to disappoint.

Tag – You’re Dead gets a five star score from me. Dominic Queste is one of the best new characters I have encountered in recent years and in the hands of top wordsmith, Douglas Skelton, he gets the chance to shine. Top, top reading – add Tag – You’re Dead to your shopping basket.

 

Tag You’re Dead is published by Contraband and is available now in paperback and digital formats. You can order a copy here: https://www.amazon.co.uk/Tag-Youre-Dead-Douglas-Skelton-x/dp/1910192724/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1493331632&sr=1-1&keywords=tag+you%27re+dead

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April 27

Dead Woman Walking – Sharon Bolton

Dead Woman WalkingJust before dawn in the hills near the Scottish border, a man murders a young woman. At the same time, a hot-air balloon crashes out of the sky. There’s just one survivor.

She’s seen the killer’s face – but he’s also seen hers. And he won’t rest until he’s eliminated the only witness to his crime.

Alone, scared, trusting no one, she’s running to where she feels safe – but it could be the most dangerous place of all . . .

 

My thanks to Alison Barrow for my review copy and the chance to join the tour.

 

As a rule I prefer to read books which form part of an ongoing series rather than a stand-alone book, the familiarity of recurring characters I find appealing.  However, there is one distinct advantage that a stand-alone book holds over books in a series – the author can do absolutely whatever they like to the characters with no concern over long term consequences. Just imagine if Colin Dexter had bumped off Lewis in the second Inspector Morse novel!

In Dead Woman Walking Sharon Bolton kills off around a dozen characters in the opening chapters, amongst the victims is the sister of her lead character. For the rest of the novel Jessica mourns the loss of her sister whilst also running for her life to escape from a killer. And because this is a stand alone thriller you don’t know if Jessica will actually survive and make it to the end of the book – the killer is a resourceful and ruthless type.

What makes Jessica’s loss more shocking and impactful for the reader is that Sharon Bolton makes very effective use of flashbacks throughout Dead Woman Walking to re-enforce the strong bond that Jessica shared with her sister Bella. The flashbacks serve a secondary purpose but there are elements of spoilers therein…so moving on….

The Killer. Introduced very early in the story and we get to know all about him and we follow his attempts to track down Jessica. She has seen his face. He has seen hers. She cannot be allowed to live so it is a Hunter Vs Prey scenario and it makes for compelling reading. I became totally caught up in Dead Woman Walking and found myself reading well into the night – the classic case of “just one more chapter”.

I can’t give away too much of the story as this is one which you have to discover for yourself. Suffice to say that this is a book you simply have to read. It is Hunter Vs Prey chase thriller with twists and shocks and some very, very clever bits which had me reeling. Bookish magnificence.

 

Dead Woman Walking is published by Bantam Press and is available in Hardback and Digital format.

You can order a copy here: https://www.amazon.co.uk/Dead-Woman-Walking-Sharon-Bolton/dp/0593076427/ref=tmm_hrd_swatch_0?_encoding=UTF8&qid=&sr=

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Category: Blog Tours | Comments Off on Dead Woman Walking – Sharon Bolton