September 28

Death Parts Us – Alex Walters

Twenty years ago, Jackie Galloway was a senior cop with a bad reputation. Then he ended up on the wrong side of the wrong people, and his career was ruined. Sacked and with no pension, he ends up eking out his last days on Scotland’s Black Isle, his mind lost to dementia, supported only by his long-suffering wife, Bridie.

Then Galloway is found dead. The police assume the death to be accidental, until Bridie Galloway reveals that her husband has been receiving apparently threatening letters containing only the phrase: ‘NOT FORGOTTEN. NOT FORGIVEN.’

DI Alec McKay is struggling to come to terms with life without his estranged wife Chrissie, and is living in isolation on the Black Isle. As a junior officer, McKay had been allocated to Galloway’s team and has bad memories of the man and his methods. Now he finds himself investigating Galloway’s death.

But when suspicion falls on him and more police officers are murdered, the pressure is on for McKay to solve the case.

Why would the killer seek revenge twenty years after Galloway left the force?

As McKay fights to link the events of past and present, he realizes that time is rapidly running out…

 

My thanks to Sarah and the team at Bloodhound Books for my review copy and the chance to join the Blog Blitz

If you live in London, Manchester or New York you will not bat an eye if you pick up a book set in the city you live. Happens all the time.  You may smile a little if you recognise a street name or if your old school is mentioned; it is a familiarity you would enjoy spotting.

I grew up in the Highlands of Scotland. I went to school in a town called Fortrose, I drove through the neighbouring town of Avoch* and walked to Rosemarkie. Ever heard of them?  Unlikely. They are not often selected as the setting for serial killer thrillers so we don’t get to experience that wee smile of familiarity.

But Death Parts Us by Alex Walters is set on The Black Isle and features all these towns (well…villages) and I read this book with a huge smile on my face.  I walked these streets, I went to that beach, I have crossed that bridge more times than I can count and I have tromped through the Fairy Glen. This is a book set in my wee part of the world and I bloody loved it.

But you are now thinking – I have never heard of these places, is this book one I will enjoy too?  YES. If we move beyond my love of the locations in the book there is also my love of great crime novels and Death Parts Us is a slick and highly entertaining thriller.

Retired police officers are dying. Initially their deaths are considered tragic accidents, old men in poor health who reach the end of their days. However, the frequency of sudden and unexpected deaths of old colleagues soon points to some sinister faction at work. Then it becomes clear that each of the dead men had been receiving letters “Not Forgotten. Not Forgiven”  DI Alec McKay wants to investigate, however, some unfortunate timing means he will be sidelined as Alec finds himself in the wrong place at the wrong time. Can Alec have any influence on an investigation if he just asks a few questions around the villages?

The responsibility to investigate will fall to his younger colleague Ginny Horton. But Ginny has problems of her own. An unwelcome visitor from her past has tracked her down and Ginny is not prepared to face those old and unwelcome memories.  Not that she can turn to McKay, he is trying to adjust to life alone after a recent split from his wife and has his own problems to contend with.

Death Parts Us is the second novel to feature DI Alec McKay (Candles and Roses was the first book). I had not read the first book in the series so I can state with assurance that you can read Death Parts Us without needing to read Candles – the book is very enjoyable as a stand-alone novel.

I really enjoyed Death Parts Us and I cannot wait to go back and read the first book in the series. I urge you to seek this one out, a police procedural in a whole new setting and a cracking murder mystery to enjoy.

Death Parts Us is published by Bloodhound Books and you can order a copy here: https://www.amazon.co.uk/s/ref=dp_byline_sr_ebooks_1?ie=UTF8&text=Alex+Walters&search-alias=digital-text&field-author=Alex+Walters&sort=relevancerank

 

*Avoch rhymes with “Loch” and is pronounced “awch” – it has a harbour where you can take out a boat to go dolphin spotting in the Cromarty Firth.

 

 

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September 21

The Ice Shroud – Gordon Ell

When a woman’s body is discovered frozen in the ice of a river near the alpine resort of Queenstown, Detective Sergeant Malcolm Buchan faces both a mystery and a moral dilemma. The identity of the nude woman is critical to the motives and manner of her murder, and Buchan is personally involved. So are a number of locals, from ski bums to multi-millionaire businessman.

Newly appointed to head CIB in the Southern Lakes district, Buchan hunts the killer through the entanglements of corruption and abuse that lie barely below the surface of the tourist towns.

The assistance of a woman traffic sergeant is critical to the hunt but she brings her own dilemmas. The community is practised at keeping its secrets, and finding the truth comes at a price

 

The Ice Shroud has been named on the Best First Novel shortlist for the first ever Ngaio Marsh Awards. I have been invited to join the blog tour for the Awards and I was thrilled to have the chance to read Gordon Ell’s debut novel. My heartfelt thanks to Craig Sisterson for inviting me to join this international blog tour.

 

Wikipedia tells me that Dunedin is the second largest city in the South Island of New Zealand – its name comes from the old Gaelic name for Edinburgh (capital city of Scotland) MY capital city.  I knew the origins of the name Dunedin before I read The Ice Shroud so every time Dunedin received a name check in the book I had a happy smile – wee things like this make me absurdly happy!

What also makes me happy is when I have the chance to read a cleverly written and engaging murder mystery and I found The Ice Shroud to be exactly that, I found it utterly compelling. A whodunnit tale set in a small New Zealand town where the police are not prepared to investigate a mysterious death and yet they have to cobble a team together when a badly mutilated corpse is discovered.

Leading the investigation is DS Malcolm Buchan he has completed tours in Afghanistan but returned to New Zealand and now works for the police. He is assisted in his investigations by Magda Hansen – a traffic cop who just happened to be first on scene when a woman’s body was found deep in a ravine and partially submerged in an icy river.

We follow Buchan and Magda as they first meet then try to work out how they can recover the body from its incredibly inaccessible resting place. Once the corpse is finally recovered Buchan will find himself facing a personal dilemma which could have significant implications over how the investigation will proceed.

The victim lived and worked in a Southern resort region on the South Island. There is a high turnover of tourists to the town but the locals have a strong support network and will close ranks against the police who come knocking at their doors.  As Buchan uncovers more details of the life that the victim lived he only uncovers more questions, how could her specialist boutique sustain such heavy losses? Why did  her Bank Manager and her Accountant both offer her personal loans on a loss making business but not seek any security on her borrowing?  Why does the local barman deny knowing the victim, despite her being a frequent visitor at his establishment?

Buchan will have to break down the suspicious defences of the residents, pick out the half-truths and work out why nobody is keen to admit to knowing his victim – despite all indications that they knew her well.  To this end Gordon Ell has penned a wonderfully crafted small town murder mystery. With a relatively small cast of potential suspects, all confined in a small area and all seemingly knowing of each other’s interests The Ice Shroud is also a fascinating study of characters and what may drive them.

Having read a few Ngaio Marsh novels in my younger days I can remember them being cleverly crafted tales which always kept me guessing. The Ice Shroud therefore sits very well on the shortlist for a Ngaio Marsh award, the clever plotting by the author reflects the dogged determination of DS Buchan to find a killer and I could not turn the pages fast enough. Highly recommended, if you are a fan of police procedurals then The Ice Shroud is not a book to miss.

 

The Ice Shroud is published by Bush Press.

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September 19

Wychwood – George Mann

 

After losing her job and her partner in one fell swoop, journalist Elspeth Reeves is back in her mother s house in the sleepy village of Wilsby-under-Wychwood, wondering where it all went wrong. Then a body is found in the neighbouring Wychwoods: a woman ritually slaughtered, with cryptic symbols scattered around her corpse. Elspeth recognizes these from a local myth of the Carrion King, a Saxon magician who once held a malevolent court deep in the forest. As more murders follow, Elspeth joins her childhood friend DS Peter Shaw to investigate, and the two discover sinister village secrets harking back decades.

 

My thanks to Phillipa at Titan Books for my review copy and the chance to join the blog tour

 

Yesterday evening I made myself a cup of coffee and sat down to start reading Wychwood. Two hours later I finally looked up from my book, it was well past midnight, my coffee was stone cold and I was contemplating “just a few more chapters” before bed. This is a good’un.

Journalist Elspeth Reeves leaves London to return home to her mother in the small village of Wilsby-under-Wychwood. Elspeth needs some familiar comfort as she has lost her job and her marriage has ended but as she nears her mother’s home she has to endure the ordeal of a huge traffic jam – roads into the village are locked down while the police investigate “an incident”.

Elspeth’s family home backs onto the local woods – the police have sealed off access but Elspeth jumps the wall and goes for a snoop. She is shocked to spot the body of a woman – the corpse is carefully laid out on the forest floor and adorned in a cape of swan feathers, head surrounded by dead birds. More shocking for Elspeth is that she recognises the image, this body has been displayed to depict an image from a local myth…that of the Carrion King.

Before she can get away from the body she is discovered by a policeman. DS Peter Shaw was a school-friend of Elspeth and he keeps her presence at the murder scene a secret from his boss.  However when Elspeth turns up at the police station the next day with a book on local myths and shows Shaw an image which appears to mirror the staging of his murder victim he agrees to pool information with Elspeth to track down a killer.

The first body we see is not the only death in the village and there is a sinister killer at work. The small village setting gives the book a suitably sinister/creepy feel which would have been lost in a larger setting. The historic overtures and the suggestion of witchcraft or dark forces at work made this particularly engaging reading.  Elspeth and Shaw are engaging lead characters and I enjoyed their relaxed and companionable relationship.

I am a big fan of George Mann’s writing style, incredibly readable and perfectly paced to keep me flicking the pages.  Wychwood is creepy and very entertaining – I liked it a lot.

 

Wychwood is available in paperback and digital format and can be ordered here: https://www.amazon.co.uk/Wychwood-1-George-Mann/dp/1783294094/ref=sr_1_2?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1505771716&sr=1-2

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September 17

37 Hours – JF Kirwan

The only way to hunt down a killer is to become one…

After two long years spent in a secret British prison, Nadia Laksheva is suddenly granted her freedom. Yet there is a dangerous price to pay for her release: she must retrieve the Russian nuclear warhead stolen by her deadliest enemy, a powerful and ruthless terrorist known only as The Client.

But her mysterious nemesis is always one step ahead and the clock is ticking. In 37 hours, the warhead will explode, reducing the city of London to a pile of ash. Only this time, Nadia is prepared to pull the trigger at any cost…

The deadly trail will take her from crowded Moscow to the silent streets of Chernobyl, but will Nadia find what she is looking for before the clock hits zero?

 

My thanks to Noelle and Kate at Thick as Thieves Publicity for the opportunity to host (and close out) the blog tour

 

37 Hours is the follow-up to 66 Metres and the second in the series to feature Nadia Laksheva. Housekeeping first, the story of 37 Hours picks up 2 years after events in 66 Metres. There is clear reference to what has already gone before and I am certain that reading the books in order would be advantageous. However, I have not read the first book and I had a blast reading 37 Hours so while it may be advantageous it is by no means essential – 37 Hours can stand alone as a cracking story.

This was an adventure thriller where events zip around the globe and the stakes felt so high that the tension was ever present. Nadia Laksheva is in prison – two long years of captivity and as 37 Hours opens we see her in her cell contemplating her situation. But the story begins just as Nadia is offered a chance to walk free – assuming she will assist with a mission which is considered to be of vital importance.

Straight into the action from here and I was sucked into a story which kept me hooked. Nuclear missiles lost at sea means Nadia has to dive with a team of “experts” to make them safe. The underwater scenes are brilliantly detailed and had me flashing back to the first time I saw Thunderball – the dark (almost claustrophobic) tension as the hero – in this case Nadia – places her life on the line and faces unexpected challenges.

The story shifts location and there are more underwater scenes to enjoy and a new danger to be faced. No spoilers, however, the underwater cave scenes chilled me. Gotta love when a book does that!

JF Kirwan has done a brilliant job of keeping 37 Hours a tense, tight and wickedly entertaining adventure story. Nadia is a feisty and likeable lead and she faces more than her fair share of peril during the course of events.

I really do not want to give away too much of the story but with a nuclear threat, a sinister “bad guy” calling the shots, exotic locations and Russians, Germans and Brits keeping that global feeling running through the book – this feels like the Summer Blockbuster you don’t want to miss.

 

37 Hours is published by HQ Digital. You can order a copy here: https://www.amazon.co.uk/Hours-Nadia-Laksheva-Thriller-Book-ebook/dp/B01N3KP711/ref=sr_1_4?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1505680806&sr=1-4&keywords=jf+kirwan

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September 14

Dangerous Crossing – Rachel Rhys

England, September 1939
Lily Shepherd boards a cruise liner for a new life in Australia and is plunged into a world of cocktails, jazz and glamorous friends. But as the sun beats down, poisonous secrets begin to surface. Suddenly Lily finds herself trapped with nowhere to go …

Australia, six-weeks later
The world is at war, the cruise liner docks, and a beautiful young woman is escorted onto dry land in handcuffs.

What has she done?

 

 

My thanks to Alison at Transworld for my review copy and to Anne for giving me the chance to join the tour.

 

All Aboard – the Dangerous Crossing Blog Tour is about to leave the harbour…

A young woman is leaving England to sail to a new life in Australia. She leaves behind her family and is taking the memory of her beau but a fresh start in a far-off land awaits. But all may not go according to plan as when the boat reaches Australia the police are waiting.

Dangerous Crossing opens with the promise to the readers that something unpleasant has happened on the long voyage. But we learn no more at that stage as Rachel Rhys takes us from one harbour (in the Southern Hemisphere) back to 5 weeks earlier when the same ship is leaving England and we meet Lily saying her farewells to her family.

The scenes are set brilliantly with Rachel Rhys capturing the feeling of the time and the mood of the passengers. It is 1939, the world is on the cusp of war but Mr Chamberlain has promised peace and as the crowds on the harbour-side wave off their friends the feeling of optimism and excitement flows from the pages.

As we join the travelers and get drawn into the story we discover more about the key characters. Lily and her new cabin-mates are all heading south to enter domestic service. Their fees have been paid but their cabin is of cattle class standard and functional at best. However, there are opportunities to meet the first class travelers too and one family in particular are breaking ranks and not mixing in the ‘better class circles’. Why they choose to mix outwith their social groups is one of the mysteries we need to discover as we read.

The story unfolds at a pace I found perfectly suited a cruise liner making its way through the oceans. Life on board is wonderfully depicted: finding a 4th for cards, bouts of sea-sickness, dining in polite company and the irritations of living in the pockets of strangers. Throw into the mix the political tension with a war brewing, some who believe Mr Hitler is a positive force who are sailing beside people they know to be Jewish. We have stops in Gibraltar and Italy (where the Italians cause outrage by not behaving in the way a Brit finds acceptable) and you can feel that you are very much taking part in the Dangerous Journey too.

Oh yes – don’t forget the name of the book…as nice as things may seem on the surface there is trouble ahead. Once you are deep into the pages you will want to keep reading as Rachel Rhys weaves her world around you.

This is not a high octane thriller but it doesn’t need to be – it is hugely engaging and wonderfully written. It gave off an Agatha Christie vibe and was every bit entertaining as any of Dame Agatha’s tales. I very much enjoyed Dangerous Crossing and would not hesitate to recommend it.

 

Dangerous Crossing is published by Black Swan and is available in paperback and digital format.  You can order a copy here: https://www.amazon.co.uk/Dangerous-Crossing-captivating-Richard-page-turner-ebook/dp/B01IW4A22Q/ref=asap_bc?ie=UTF8

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September 13

The Kindred Killers – Graham Smith

Jake Boulder’s help is requested by his best friend, Alfonse, when his cousin is crucified and burned alive along with his wife and children.

As Boulder tries to track the heinous killer, a young woman is abducted. Soon her body is discovered and Boulder realises both murders have something unusual in common.

With virtually no leads for Boulder to follow, he strives to find a way to get a clue as to the killer’s identity. But is he hunting for one killer or more?

After a young couple are snatched in the middle of the night the case takes a brutal turn. When the FBI is invited to help with the case, Boulder finds himself warned off the investigation.

When gruesome, and incendiary, footage from a mobile phone is sent to all the major US News outlets and the pressure to find those responsible for the crimes mounts.  But with the authorities against him can Boulder catch the killer before it’s too late?

 

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

We were first introduced to Scot in exile, Jake Boulder, in Watching the Bodies and from the off I loved the new character introduced by Graham Smith.  So when I discovered Boulder was returning in The Kindred Killers I was more than a little excited – I always favour recurring characters and I love to watch their story build across multiple titles.

The Kindred Killers takes a much darker tone than Watching the Bodies – for a start we have murder victims with a very close link to Boulder. Boulder’s best friend, Alphonse, tracks Jake down after Jake has had a heavy night. Too drunk to recall what has happened Jake wakes to find a strange girl in his bed, his knuckles bruised from fighting and his best friend banging on the door of his room (angry with Jake for failing to come to his assistance the previous night). Jake would do anything for Alphonse so his sense of remorse at letting his friend down will drive him into action.

Alphonse explains that his cousin is missing (along with his cousin’s family) but when Jake and Alphonse reach the family home it is clear that there has been a struggle and that the family have not left willingly.  It is not long before 4 bodies are found…all four family members have been tied to a cross and set on fire.  The killings appear racially motivated and their murders have all the hallmarks of a Klan killing, but Jake is not convinced as something about where the bodies are found does not seem typical of the KKK.

Knowing the local police are not capable of conducting a murder investigation on this scale (and not wishing to be kept on the sidelines) Alphonse and Jake are on the trail of the killers. But we readers get to see that the murder of a single family is just the start of things and there are more potential victims unknowingly facing a grizzly fate.

As previously stated, The Kindred Killers is much darker in tone this time around. I found the murders (and their methods) to be quite unsettling. I deeply dislike bullies in stories and I also dislike people being singled out because someone may feel that they do not “fit in” – as such there were elements of this story which greatly rankled with me. This should reflect well on the author, creating the characters which will anger me as a reader, drawing me into the story and making me will the bad guys to fail. I wanted them to change their ways or to be brought to their knees.  I shouldn’t get angry at made up people but I did! Boulder is on the case but how many will have to suffer before he can track down the guilty and see that justice is brought down upon them.

If you enjoy a vigilante story, enjoy tales of the investigator who is not restricted by the rules of the police and a hero that will swing a punch to end a disagreement with the bad guys – Jake Boulder is the guy you need to discover.

 

The Kindred Killers is published by Bloodhound Books and is available in Digital and Paperback format. You can order a copy here: https://www.amazon.co.uk/Kindred-Killers-Jake-Boulder-Book-ebook/dp/B0759FD5ZH/ref=asap_bc?ie=UTF8

 

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September 10

Copycat – Alex Lake

Imitation is the most terrifying form of flattery…

Which Sarah Havenant is you?

When an old friend gets in touch, Sarah Havenant discovers that there are two Facebook profiles in her name. One is hers. The other, she has never seen.

But everything in it is accurate. Photos of her friends, her husband, her kids. Photos from the day before. Photos of her new kitchen. Photos taken inside her house.

And this is just the beginning. Because whoever has set up the second profile has been waiting for Sarah to find it. And now that she has, her life will no longer be her own…

 

My thanks to Felicity at Harper Collins for my review copy and the chance to join the blog tour

I always enjoy when I pick up a new thriller and find that it unsettles me.  Not that I enjoy being unsettled – but if a book can give me pause for thought and make me feel nervous or apprehensive for the characters within, then I know it’s going to be a good book!

Copycat did just that.  We first meet Sarah Havenant and an old friend returns to town and tries to catch-up through Facebook. But a curious question to Sarah causes some confusion – which Facebook profile was hers?  She only operates one account on Facebook so why should their be confusion over which may be the correct profile for her?  A Google search reveals that there ARE two Facebook accounts for Sarah Havenant. Not two people sharing the same name – two people sharing the same life, the posts on the second account show Sarah’s home, her family and have updates which reflect things Sarah has actually done.  But Sarah did not post any of this information so where did this second account come from?

She speaks with her husband and friends about this strange discovery but nobody seems to give it too much concern and most believe it may be a prank.

The reader then gets a sneaky look into the events through the eyes of a watcher – we know that Sarah is now a target. We can see that someone has a plan and that the future for Sarah is going to be unpleasant as this mysterious watcher is looking to ruin Sarah’s life.  You don’t know who this may be and you don’t know why Sarah has been chosen for this malicious attack – but you WANT to know and you will keep reading.

As you get further into Copycat you become more involved in Sarah’s life.  We see how her paranoia increases as it becomes clear that the Facebook account was just the start of the problem.  Someone is impersonating Sarah online. They are sending messages to her friends and pretending that they are Sarah, meetings are arranged or cancelled without Sarah’s knowledge and her friends start to query whether Sarah may be imagining everything.  It does not take long before everyone notices a change in her behaviour and it starts to have a detrimental impact on her relationship with her family and friends.

Copycat is a chilling read which sees the gradual attempt to unpick somebody’s life and shatter everything they have worked hard to build. Sarah comes under intense pressure and then Alex Lake raises the stakes even higher. A brilliant, tense read where your natural curiosity will compel you to keep reading to find how Sarah can fight back against this unseen menace – but can she fight back or will she lose everything?

Thriller fans, Copycat is a proper treat and absolutely a book that you should be looking to read.

 

 

Copycat is published by Harper Collins and is available in paperback and digital format.  You can order a copy here: https://www.amazon.co.uk/Copycat-unputdownable-thriller-bestselling-author-ebook/dp/B06XK848QD/ref=asap_bc?ie=UTF8

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September 7

Lost in the Lake – A. J. Waines

She came at first for answers…now she’s back for you

Amateur viola player Rosie Chandler is the sole survivor of a crash which sends members of a string quartet plunging into a lake. Convinced the ‘accident’ was deliberate, but unable to recall what happened, she is determined to recover her lost memories and seeks out clinical psychologist, Dr Samantha Willerby.

But Rosie is hiding something…

Sam is immediately drawn to the tragic Rosie and as she helps her piece the fragments together, the police find disturbing new evidence which raises further questions. Why is Rosie so desperate to recover her worthless viola? And what happened to the violin lost in the crash, worth over £2m?

When Rosie insists they return to the lake to relive the fatal incident, the truth about Rosie finally creeps up on Sam – but by now, she’s seriously out of her depth…

A stand alone novel (and the second book in the Dr Samantha Willerby series), Lost in the Lake is a nail-biting, edge-of-your-seat Psychological Thriller that will leave you glancing over your shoulder.

 

My heartfelt thanks to Alison for my review copy

Last year A.J. Waines introduced us to Dr Samantha (Sam) Willerby in a brilliant and thought provoking thriller called Inside the Whispers.  I really enjoyed that book and so I was delighted to learn that Sam was going to return for Lost in the Lake.

Sam is a clinical psychologist and she has helped patients recover lost memories. It is through this skill that she encounters Rosie – a young woman who has narrowly survived a terrible ordeal and is reaching out to Sam to help her recall the events leading up to the accident which she had been involved in. Rosie hopes that by recovering her memories of the event she may understand what happened to her friends that were in the van she was traveling in. All she can recall is that the van left the road and Rosie managed to get out but her friends do not appear to have been so lucky.

Lost in the Lake begins with Rosie’s near death experience then spins forward to her first encounter with Sam. From the very first meeting of the two women it becomes clear to the reader that Rosie is a deeply troubled person and has experienced more than one terrible ordeal. However, we also get a hint that she is not being entirely honest with Sam and that she is keeping things back.

We also spend time with Sam. Events from Inside the Whispers have cast a bit of a shadow over her current personal situation (nb reading Whispers is not essential as the author deftly provides all the relevant information). Sam appears at a bit of a low ebb, her oldest and dearest friend may soon be moving away and there is a suggestion that Sam is lonely. But she is throwing herself into her work and the chance to assist Rosie is a compelling motivator.

Once the pattern of visits is established we come to see that Rosie is not behaving normally and that her dependency upon Sam is spilling out of control. Sam too is becoming aware that Rosie is becoming too needy for Sam’s attentions and she begins to wonder if she should end Rosie’s sessions.

The relationship between the two becomes a tense and intricate dance. While their conversations are professional and aimed at helping Rosie we also know how each woman is also trying to control the nature and extent of the relationship they have with each other – it is brilliantly conveyed by the author and I was gnawing at my fingernails in horrified frustration.

I cannot share too much detail over how the “dance” unfolds, however, if you are a fan of psychological thrillers and books which ramp up the tension as the characters reveal more and more of their driving forces, then you will not go far wrong with Lost in the Lake.

I read the whole book in two sittings as I had to know how events were going to play out – I was not disappointed. Lost in the Lake is available now and I urge you to read it.

 

Lost in the Lake released on 7 September 2017 and you can order a copy here: https://www.amazon.co.uk/Lost-Lake-Samantha-Willerby-Book-ebook/dp/B073W8X17W/ref=asap_bc?ie=UTF8

 

 

 

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September 3

House of Spines – Michael J Malone

Ran McGhie’s world has been turned upside down. A young, lonely and frustrated writer, and suffering from mental-health problems, he discovers that his long-dead mother was related to one of Glasgow’s oldest merchant families. Not only that, but Ran has inherited Newton Hall, a vast mansion that belonged to his great-uncle, who appears to have been watching from afar as his estranged great-nephew has grown up. Entering his new-found home, he finds that Great-Uncle Fitzpatrick has turned it into a temple to the written word – the perfect place for poet Ran.

But everything is not as it seems. As he explores the Hall’s endless corridors, Ran’s grasp on reality appears to be loosening. And then he comes across an ancient lift; and in that lift a mirror. And in the mirror … the reflection of a woman …

A terrifying psychological thriller with more than a hint of the Gothic, House of Spines is a love letter to the power of books, and an exploration of how lust and betrayal can be deadly…

 

My thanks to Karen and Anne who allowed me the opportunity to join the House of Spines blog tour

 

This is the type of review I hate writing – the one where I enjoyed a book so much that I don’t think I can put the rights words together to convey how much I lost myself to this story.

Ran McGhie seems to be the luckiest fellow in the West. He has been left a sizeable property on the outskirts of Glasgow (one of the posh bits of town) and charged with looking after the immense book collection that his great uncle amassed during a long and prosperous life.

It transpires that Ran’s mother had fled the family home many years before and turned  her back on her kin. Ran grew up oblivious to his mother’s background but we learn that his (secret) family have not entirely ignored Ran. His great uncle kept an eye on Ran down the years and has come to the conclusion that in a family of odious and self-serving Fitzpatrick’s that Ran McGhie can keep his legacy going. The family solicitor reaches out to Ran and tells him that his crushed wee flat will soon be replaced by the sumptious Newton Hall. He will have a house with a huge number of rooms, a housekeeper and gardener, a private lift, a pool, a gym and most significantly an enormous library but there are conditions attached to the inheritance.

Ran accepts his good fortune and tries to settle in his new home. But something odd seems to happen in Newton Hall and Ran finds his sleep becomes disturbed, he is drawn more than once to a mirror and in the reflections he sees a woman.

What had been a creepy story suddenly ramps it up several notches and I was hooked. A giant mansion house with the promise of a ghost soon gives us a disturbing insight into the dark history of a family where money has been no object and the family members are all too used to getting their own way.

Ran was not the only potential heir to the Fitzgerald estate and it does not take long before “new” family members will make themselves known to Ran – they have their own plans for Newton Hall and are keen to keep Ran onside to help them fulfill their goals. Following Ran through the story I could not help but cheer him on as he learns to stand up for himself in the face of the arrogant elite class. But there was worry too as Ran is out of his depth and fighting more than one battle (no spoilers) things look bleak.

I cannot begin to tell you how much I enjoyed House of Spines. I love a ghost story, I love a mystery and I love how Michael J Malone delivers such engaging characters. He sure knows how to plot a twisty, pacy tale and he caught me off guard more than once. House of Spines is a belter – you need this in your life.

 

House of Spines is published by Orenda and available from 15 September 2017 in both paperback and digital format – you can get a copy here: https://www.amazon.co.uk/House-Spines-Michael-J-Malone-ebook/dp/B06Y6LSMBS/ref=asap_bc?ie=UTF8

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