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 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 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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February 7

The Damselfly – SJI Holliday

the-damselflyAn unsolved murder. A community turned against each other. A killer close to home…

Katie Taylor is the perfect student. She s bright and funny, she has a boyfriend who adores her and there are only a few months left of school before she can swap Banktoun for the bright lights of London. Life gets even better when she has an unexpected win on a scratch card. But then Katie’s luck runs out.

Her tragic death instead becomes the latest in a series of dark mysteries blighting the small town. The new school counsellor Polly McAllister, who has recently returned to Banktoun to make amends in her own personal life, is thrown in at the deep end as the pupils and staff come to terms with Katie s death. And it s not long before she uncovers a multitude of murky secrets. Did Katie have enemies? Is her boyfriend really so squeaky clean? And who is her brothers mysterious friend?

With Banktouns insular community inflamed by gossip and a baying mob stirring itself into a frenzy on social media, DS Davie Gray and DC Louise Jennings must work out who really murdered Katie before someone takes matters into their own hands.

 

My thanks to Thomas at Black & White Publishing for my review copy

The Damselfly, the third book in the Banktoun series is officially my favourite of the three. Although all three books can easily be read as stand-alone novels there is a definite reward for returning readers, Characters from earlier novels will cameo and the town seems to be evolving with each new book too – like in a videogame where deeper exploration into the story will open up new areas of the map to enjoy.  In The Damselfly the local school becomes a key focus for events and the pupils will provide much of the drama. SJI Holliday has made Banktoun a great place for readers to visit – but I wouldn’t want to live there!

I cannot review one of Susi’s novels without commenting (again) on her skill at defining characters. Everyone in the story seems more vibrant and realistic than some authors can achieve with their main character. The realism is a problem in The Damselfly though as in this story we have the nasty problem of cyberbullies. The creeping menace of social media is being used to stir up tension and suspicion and it makes for very uncomfortable reading.

The story opens with Katie, she is a bright student and is seeking to improve her lot in life and hoping to get away from Banktoun and move to the bright lights. Sadly fate has a different idea for Katie and her life abruptly comes to an end leaving a mass of unanswered questions and plenty of candidates for the finger of suspicion to point at.  A murder mystery means we get the police involved and in Banktoun that can only mean a welcome return for fan-favourite Davie Gray.

I totally lost myself in The Damselfly. From the early shocking murder of Katie Taylor we see how her death will impact on different characters in the town. Her family torn apart by the tragedy, her classmates believing they know who must be involved and trying to take the law into their own hands, her teachers coping with the shock and trying to support Katie’s former classmates. And, of course, the police who need to unpick Katie’s secrets when nobody seems to want to help them.

The Damselfly is a murder mystery which leaves you wondering who you should trust…A five-star page-turner, I loved it.

 

The Damselfly is published by Black & White Publishing and is available now in paperback and digital format. Order a copy here: https://www.amazon.co.uk/Damselfly-gripping-unnerving-crime-thriller-ebook/dp/B01M7RBU7W/ref=asap_bc?ie=UTF8

Damselfly Blog Tour

 

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February 7

Cover Reveal : Rachel Amphlett – Will to Live

I am thrilled to be able to join in with this morning’s cover reveal for Rachel Amphlett’s new novel: Will to Live.

Following on from last year’s Scared to Death, Detective Kay Hunter returns and here is what we can expect:

 

Will to Live Cover MEDIUM WEB

Reputation is everything

When a packed commuter train runs over a body on a stretch of track known to locals as ‘Suicide Mile’, it soon transpires that the man was a victim of a calculated murder.

As the investigation evolves and a pattern of murders is uncovered, Detective Sergeant Kay Hunter realises the railway’s recent reputation may be the work of a brutal serial killer.

With a backlog of cold cases to investigate and attempting to uncover who is behind a professional vendetta against her, Kay must keep one step ahead of both the killer and her own adversaries.

When a second murder takes place within a week of the first, she realises the killer’s timetable has changed, and she’s running out of time to stop him…

Will to Live is the second book in a new crime thriller series featuring Kay Hunter – a detective with a hidden past and an uncertain future…

If you like Angela Marsons, Peter James and Robert Bryndza, you will love Rachel Amphlett’s new series.

 

Will to Live is coming later in 2017 and I cannot wait.

 

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February 6

Sealskin – Su Bristow

SealskinWhat happens when magic collides with reality?

Donald is a young fisherman, eking out a lonely living on the west coast of Scotland. One night he witnesses something miraculous …and makes a terrible mistake. His action changes lives – not only his own, but those of his family and the entire tightly knit community in which they live. Can he ever atone for the wrong he has done, and can love grow when its foundation is violence?

Based on the legend of the selkies – seals who can transform into people – Sealskin is a magical story, evoking the harsh beauty of the landscape, the resilience of its people, both human and animal, and the triumph of hope over fear and prejudice.

With exquisite grace, Exeter Novel Prize-winner Su Bristow transports us to a different world, subtly and beautifully exploring what it means to be an outsider, and our innate capacity for forgiveness and acceptance. Rich with myth and magic, Sealskin is, nonetheless, a very human story, as relevant to our world as to the timeless place in which it is set. And it is, quite simply, unforgettable.

 

My thanks to Karen at Orenda for my review copy and the chance to be involved in the tour.

Before I read Sealskin I had seen huge amounts of praise being lavished upon it. Much of the focus is on the beautiful writing, the haunting story and the beautiful gentle tale.

I was a bit surprised with how the story began as immediately we encounter a shocking act of violence. It caught me unawares and I wondered where the “gentle” story I had been expecting was going to come from. Well stick with it as things do settle down and the relationship story I had been expecting starts to unfold.

Sealskin is a story based around the myth of the Selkie, a seal can shed its skin to take on human form. In Sealskin we meet Donald, a fisherman living in a remote community – he is somewhat alienated by the others in his village but when he brings home a mysterious woman she will transform a community in a way they could never have foreseen.

It is a powerful and emotive story which will impact upon all its readers. Very much out of my comfort zone of reading and quite unlike what I normally pick up so I have a limited benchmark to compare and contrast Sealskin with.

I very much enjoyed the depiction of the remote community and the environment which the fishermen all worked. Capturing the location is essential to engage a reader and Su Bristow does a marvellous job in setting the ideal scene to let her selkie play.

A fantastical tale which is fantastically told.

 

Sealskin is published by Orenda and is available in digital format and paperback. You can order a copy here: https://www.amazon.co.uk/Sealskin-Su-Bristow/dp/1910633607/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1486344510&sr=1-1&keywords=seal+skin+su+bristow

Follow the blog tour:

Sealskin Blog tour AMENDED

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