December 15

Lone Wolf – Sara Driscoll

lone-wolf-2Meg and Hawk are part of the FBI s elite K-9 unit. Hawk can sniff out bodies anywhere living or dead whether it s tracking a criminal or finding a missing person. When a bomb rips apart a government building on the National Mall in Washington D.C., it takes all of the team s extensive search-and-rescue training to locate and save the workers and visitors buried beneath the rubble.
But even as the duo are hailed as heroes, a mad bomber remains at large, striking terror across the Eastern seaboard in a ruthless pursuit of retribution. As more bombs are detonated and the body count escalates, Meg and Hawk are brought in to a task force dedicated to stopping the unseen killer. But when the attacks spiral wide and any number of locations could be the next target, it will come down to a battle of wits and survival skills between Meg, Hawk, and the bomber they re tracking to rescue a nation from the brink of chaos.

 

My thanks Kensington Books for my review copy which I received through Netgalley.

 

A serial bomber is a terrifying notion and Sara Driscoll paints a terrifying picture of how simple it could be to place a bomb in our midst. In Lone Wolf Government buildings are being targeted by a killer who is holding a long standing grudge.

When a bomb explodes in a busy Government building the FBI K-9 team are called into action – they are to enter the ruins of the building and search for survivors.  It is a harrowing scene and it really highlighted the importance of the work that a K-9 unit undertakes. Sara Driscoll does a fantastic job of describing the chaos and the carnage of the working conditions that the dog and its handler have to operate, the relationship between the two and the ability of the dogs to obey every command.  I was totally engrossed.

Away from the bomb sites we see how Meg and her dog, Hawk, are an inseparable unit. We learn a little of Meg’s background in law enforcement, how quit her job when an arrest went wrong and what finally brought her to the FBI. The relationship and the bond between Hawk and Meg is something rather special and their partnership one of the strongest I have read for a long time. I loved discovering their story and really hope that Lone Wolf will be the first of many FBI K-9 stories.

Sara Driscoll has brought us a chilling thriller with wonderful lead characters and a bad guy that we will all want to see brought to justice.  The story flows at a fast and exciting pace and has that important “just one more chapter” feel about it as you read.

Dog lovers will adore it. Thriller fans should grab it. Lone Wolf is highly recommended.

 

Lone Wolf was published on 29 November by Kensington Books.  You can order a copy here:  https://www.amazon.co.uk/Lone-Wolf-F-B-I-K-9-Novel/dp/149670441X/ref=sr_1_fkmr0_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1480371068&sr=1-1-fkmr0&keywords=loan+wolf+sara+driscoll

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December 11

Top Ten Reads of 2016

Time to wrap up another year. Before I get to my selections I need to thank the authors and publishers who have entrusted me with their books, invited me to join blog tours and shared my reviews. Their ongoing support keeps this blog running and I am eternally grateful. I would also like to thank my fellow bloggers who help my reviews reach a wider audience, provide guidance and helpful encouragement (seemingly at any time of the day or night) and who understand my overwhelming need to talk about amazing books.

20161211_202549The books I have selected are the titles which had the most memorable impact. They had a punch or a twist which stood out. They are the stories I still think about months after returning the book to the shelf or they are the books I put into the hands of friends who ask me to recommend something to read. My first “short list” had over 30 titles and I had to narrow that down, I feel bad for leaving some out and I hope that my reviews through the year have reflected how many brilliant books I have had the opportunity to read this year.

 

Sleeping Giants10 – Sleeping Giants – Sylvain Neuvel

“This book is just WOW. Sleeping Giants was an absolute gem, it made me laugh, it kept me hooked, I had no idea where it was heading and some scenes actually made me stop reading and double back thinking ‘Wait! What just happened’?”

My original review: http://grabthisbook.net/?p=1552   and you can order the book here.

 

 

 

Killer Instincts9 – Killer Instincts – Linden Chase

 

Drop a journalist onto a prison island inhabited only by murderers and task him with finding out who runs the facility and how it operates.

He is more concerned about surviving.

 

My original review: http://grabthisbook.net/?p=1951  and you can order the book here.

 

 

 

My Best Friend's Exorcism8 – My Best Friends Exorcism – Grady Hendrix

It’s an 80’s horror tale. I was not prepared for how dark this tale of two high-school friends would become but it totally captivated me and had some really nasty twists.

My original review:  http://grabthisbook.net/?p=1944  and you can order the book here.

 

 

 

a-suitable-lie

 

 

7 -A Suitable Lie – Michael J Malone

A Suitable Lie is an intense read which is highlighting a topic which is a far bigger issue than most realise. It is a story that will stick with you for a long time to come and it is important that it does. Not to be missed.”

 

My original review: http://grabthisbook.net/?p=2130 and you can order the book here.

 

 

Stasi Child6 – Stasi Child – David Young

Delightfully different. David Young takes us into 1970’s East Berlin, a time I normally associated with spy novels.  But this is a gripping police thriller and shows how life may have been “behind the Wall.”  Karen Muller is tasked with investigating a murder but may have her work cut-out as there is political pressure on her to find the “right” outcome.

My original review http://grabthisbook.net/?p=1336 and you can order the book here.

 

 

 

Exposure5 – Exposure – Ava Marsh

I loved Exposure. It’s not going to be for everyone as there are frank and graphic descriptions of porn shoots. But if you go into the story knowing it tackles real life issues and avoids sensationalising porn or making it seem that Kitty is living a 24/7 glamourous existence then you will get the best of Exposure.

This is a “must read” book

 

My original review  http://grabthisbook.net/?p=1772 and you can order the book here.

 

 

Hex4 – Hex – Thomas Olde Heuvelt

Another horror tale and this one is a belter. The town of Black Spring are hiding a secret – a Witch lives in their midst.  A 17th century woman, her eyes and mouth are sewn shut and she can appear in the middle of the night by your bedside. Disaster will befall the town should someone open her eyes – you can guess what happens next!

Terrifying reading.

My original review http://grabthisbook.net/?p=1668 and you can order the book here.

 

 

Jonathan Dark

 

 

3 – Jonathan Dark and the Evidence of Ghosts – A K Benedict

A crime thriller and a clever ghost story too.  I loved AK Benedict’s approach to this story and I long to read more Jonathan Dark stories. When I first reviewed it I said: I wish that every book I read was as enjoyable as Jonathan Dark and the Evidence of Ghosts

My original review http://grabthisbook.net/?p=1415 and you can order the book here.

 

Streets of Darkness

2  – Streets of Darkness – A A Dhand

Back in June I got the chance to read Streets of Darkness and it blew me away. I couldn’t put it down and I am desperate to read more from AA Dhand.

In my original review I said: it is a debut of some note.  An absolute cert for a 5/5 review score, I tore through it and felt drained at the end.

My original review: http://grabthisbook.net/?p=1762 and you can order the book here.

 

 

Epiphany Jones A/W.indd1 – Epiphany Jones – Michael Grothaus

 

Disturbing, hilarious, tragic and utterly compelling. I never quite knew where Michael Grothaus was taking us next when I read Epiphany Jones but I loved every step of the journey.

My original review:  http://grabthisbook.net/?p=1748 and you can order the book here.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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October 22

Killer Intent – Linden Chase

killer-intentThe last time undercover journalist Zane King was sent to Tranquility he barely escaped with his life.

Now 5 years later he finds himself back again, this time as a fully diagnosed psychopath just like every other resident on the island prison.

Zane is only just beginning to come to terms with the fact that he has ended up trapped in Tranquility 2.0 when a seemingly random plane crash introduces a squad of mysterious strangers into the already explosive mix of rival factions and rising tensions among the most dangerous community of town-folk on earth.

As always on the island, nothing is as it seems and Zane must battle relentlessly to finally uncover the truth about Tranquility.

 

My thanks to Chris at Fahrenheit Press for my review copy.

 

The second in the Tranquility Trilogy. In the first book, Killer Instincts, we met Zane King. He was an undercover journalist sent to Tranquility island to investigate a new experimental island prison where residents were left to fend for themselves with minimal supervision but were expected to form living colonies, work the land and only rely upon infrequent supply drops to get by. The experiment did not work and a bloodbath ensued.  I loved Killer Instincts and likened it to Lord of the Files but for fans of slasher movies.   You can read my review here: http://grabthisbook.net/?p=1951

As you can see from the intro above, King survived the ordeals in Killer Instincts. However, despite his escape and a subsequent return to civilization where he rebuilt his life, he never managed to get to the bottom of the mystery surrounding who controlled Tranquility. Five years after the events in Killer Instincts, Killer Intent opens with Zane waking from a drugged stupor to find himself back on Tranquility. The prison is back, new inmates, new factions and a new sheriff in town calling the shots. Zane has been diagnosed as a psychopath and sent back to the island for rehabilitation where he will be surrounded by like-minded killers

King is adjusting back into life on the island when the balance is rocked by the arrival of new residents. A plane comes down in the jungle and suddenly in the midst of all the psychopaths are innocent crash survivors. Can King, the sheriff and the island padre (King’s new ally on Tranquility 2.0) keep the incomers safe and find a way to get them off the island?

I am loving the Tranquility Trilogy. Throwing King back into the Hell that he thought he had escaped was an unexpected (and nasty) twist. There was a very political feel about Killer Intent, King is more wary about who he can trust and characters are much more devious in playing-off against each other. The shocks and twists that were in Instincts are very much present in Killer Intent and the story shines as a result. There is a genuine feel that nobody can be trusted, anyone could die at any point and that everyone is hiding something – what more could you ask for in a thriller?

Tranquility really is an incredibly misleading name as there is NOTHING tranquil about these stories but that’s exactly how we like them.  I cannot wait to see how the trilogy wraps up. I know that Linden Chase is not going to make things easy for Zane King and I look forward to the conclusion with a huge amount of anticipation.

 

Killer Intent is published by Fahrenheit Press and you can order a copy here: https://www.amazon.co.uk/Killer-Intent-Tranquility-Trilogy-Book-ebook/dp/B01MDNKQLB/ref=sr_1_2?ie=UTF8&qid=1477173220&sr=8-2&keywords=Linden+Chase

 

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October 22

Her Last Breath – J.A. Schneider

ecover-herlastbreathA chilling psychological thriller about a woman caught between two men…Mari Gill wakes to horror in a strange apartment next to a murdered man, and can’t remember the night before. Accused of murder, she feels torn between her husband, a successful defense attorney, and a mysterious, kind man who wants to help. Can she trust either of them – or even her friends?

Detective Kerri Blasco battles her police bosses believing Mari is innocent…but is she?

A heart-stopping psychological thriller, perfect for fans of Alfred Hitchcock

 

My thanks to the author for my review copy.

 

I tend not to Tweet much about the books that I am still reading, but when I started Her Last Breath I took advantage of a reading break to share how much I enjoy a book that gets straight into the action.

Her Last Breath opens with Mari Gill waking in a strange room to find herself lying beside a murdered man, a man she has never seen before and she has absolutely no idea what happened the night before. Soaked in blood and on the edge of hysteria is not how most leading characters are introduced…talk about grabbing my attention from the first page! But it is not just the opening that had me gripped as Her Last Breath was an absolute joy to read.

Mari is trapped in a living nightmare, accused of murder and unsure who she can turn to for support she finds that she has to engage her estranged husband as her lawyer. Meanwhile the investigating cops, in particular Detective Kerri Blasco, are initially inclined to believe Mari is innocent. Yet there are inconsistencies in Mari’s story that are not helping clear her name and Kerri has to persuade her boss that there is more to his murder than initially meets the eye.

J.A. Schneider has done a brilliant job in keeping the tension running through Her Last Breath. I attribute this in part to the wonderful characterisation in the book. So often I can put down a novel and struggle to remember any of the character names, however, I loved both Mari and Kerri Blasco – two totally different characters but equally engaging and brilliantly realised. I kept reading as I wanted to find if Mari could have been guilty of the murder. I kept reading as I wanted to find if Kerri would be able to find a murderer. I kept reading because the story was so damned good. It hit just the right balance for me, brilliantly paced, nicely twisty and with a nicely sized supporting cast who could all have been guilty at one point in the book!

Pacey, twisty and that perfect “one more chapter” feeling – Her Last Breath is highly recommended.

 

Her Last Breath is available now. Purchase link: ‪http://getBook.at/HerLastBreath 

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October 20

A Suitable Lie – Michael J Malone

a-suitable-lieAndy Boyd thinks he is the luckiest man alive. Widowed with a young child, after his wife dies in childbirth, he is certain that he will never again experience true love. Then he meets Anna. Feisty, fun and beautiful, she’s his perfect match… And she loves his son, too.

When Andy ends up in the hospital on his wedding night, he receives his first clue that Anna is not all that she seems. He ignores it; a dangerous mistake that could cost him everything.

 

My thanks to Karen at Orenda for my review copy.

 

Domestic Noir has a new high bar and it is called A Suitable Lie.

This is Andy’s story, it is told in the first person and it makes for uncomfortable reading. Andy works in the local bank, he plays rugby, he is a single dad having tragically lost his wife who died during childbirth. His life is ticking along but his friends and family feel he needs to get out more so one evening he finds himself in a pub and he meets Anna.

Anna is a beauty, new to town and not happy that her “date” for the evening may have forgotten to mention his wife to her. Andy rescues Anna from a miserable evening and the two click. Before long they are a couple and then wedding bells beckon. On his wedding night Andy’s life will go from bliss to misery and he will find himself trapped in a living Hell.

Anna, petite and beautiful, is hiding a dark side – a violent and obsessive personality. She is controlling, vicious and yet loving and apologetic. Author, Michael J Malone, brings out Anna’s temper slowly and we see the violence and her control over Andy grow with each new chapter. I read A Suitable Lie with a knot of tension in my stomach – I feared for Andy and I hated everything that Anna put him through.

Yet Andy knows that he cannot (and will not) hit back. He endures beatings, humiliation and his confidence is undermined. We see him at work when he is struggling to hide his secret. His work life is also providing challenging as there are problems at the Bank and, with the distractions in his home-life, Andy is not as vigilant at work as he needs to be. His world is coming apart around him but who can he turn to?

A Suitable Lie is an intense read which is highlighting a topic which is a far bigger issue than most realise. It is a story that will stick with you for a long time to come and it is important that it does. Not to be missed.

 

A Suitable Lie is published by Orenda Books and is available in paperback and digital format. You can get your copy by clicking through this link: https://www.amazon.co.uk/Suitable-Lie-Michael-J-Malone/dp/1910633496/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1476911441&sr=8-1&keywords=a+suitable+lie

 

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September 21

Strangers – Paul Finch

strangersUnknown, alone, and fearing for your life.

As PC Lucy Clayburn is about to find out, going undercover is the most dangerous work there is.

But, on the trail of a prolific female serial killer, there’s no other option – and these murders are as brutal as they come.

Lucy must step into the line of fire – a stranger in a criminal underworld that butchers anyone who crosses the line.

And, unknown to Lucy, she’s already treading it…

 

My thanks to Helena at Avon Books for my review copy and the opportunity to be the first leg on the Strangers blog tour

 

I suspect that one observation shall crop up quite frequently when Strangers is reviewed…No Heck.  But what is it that makes Heck so good?  Well it’s Paul Finch of course! So when I heard that Lucy Clayburn would be the lead character in Strangers I was actually really pleased. New characters means new opportunities, new adventures and a blank canvas for an author to take a very different approach – one that would not work for the characters we may already associate with that author.

As it turns out that is exactly what we get as Lucy Clayburn is going undercover on the streets to pose as a working girl. No matter how good Heck may be I just cannot see him pulling off that role!

The good news (not that it comes as a surprise) is that PC Lucy Clayburn is a fabulous character.  There are so many spoilers to avoid but I can say she has a dubious reputation in her role which has put a blight on her career to date. Lucy has a wonderfully “punky” attitude which I immediately warmed to and when she is driven to do the best in her role and prove her worth to her colleagues she is a force to be reckoned with.

As we have come to expect from Paul Finch’s books the streets are full of some really nasty bad guys and in Strangers I am delighted that this theme continued.  A female serial killer is murdering and mutilating men and the police have very little to work on. Lucy is recruited to join a team of undercover officers who will pose as prostitutes in a bid to win the confidence of other street girls who may give some clues towards the possible identity of the killer.

But for Lucy a different opportunity arises when she is given some information which could bring the police closer to closing down the activities of some of the worst members of the North West’s criminal underworld. Lucy is desperate to redeem herself in the eyes of her bosses and agrees to put herself right into the heart of the gangster operations.

What she finds, and the consequences of her actions, make for a 5 star thrill-fest. One of those stories which you just do not want to end and one where you feel that no characters are absolutely guaranteed to still be alive come the last page. The best kind of story!

Paul Finch writes books I want to read. If you like crime fiction of the highest calibre then look no further.

 

Strangers is published by Avon and is available now in paperback and digital format.  You can order a copy here: https://www.amazon.co.uk/Strangers-Paul-Finch/dp/0007551312/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1474496962&sr=1-1&keywords=strangers+paul+finch

 

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September 21

Exclusion Zone – J.M. Hewitt

Exclusion ZoneOn 26th April 1986, reactor four exploded at the factory in Pripyat, Chernobyl.

At the same time teenager Afia Bello vanished from her home without a trace.

The damage from the nuclear fallout is examined over the following weeks, months and years by Afia’s younger sister Sissy, as she unwittingly uncovers clues relating to her sister’s disappearance, and the secret life that Afia kept hidden from her family.

In the summer of 2015 Private Detective Alex Harvey is hired to investigate the disappearances that have been occurring within the exclusion zone.

He can think of only one person to bring along with him to help; Ukrainian national Elian Gould.

Elian – who was adopted at birth – has her own reasons for accepting the job; namely to search for her own family history which has always been a mystery to her.

But the remaining citizens of Chernobyl are hiding their own secrets and with a darker force at work, the missing person’s case suddenly turns into something much more serious…

 

I received a copy of  Exclusion Zone from the author. But as she had very kindly signed it for me I bought another copy so I could keep the signed one good!

Not going to mess around on this one – it is a 5* read and I loved it.

Chernobyl as a setting is fabulous for a crime thriller – the place where nobody wants to go. A place where time stands still. And a place where evil can seemingly thrive without consequence. The scenes in the book that take place in Chernobyl are extremely dark, darker than I had expected (but this is a good thing). A killer is hunting victims and revelling in their capture. His crimes are escaping the attention of the authorities and he keeps his base of operations mobile to reduce the chance of capture.  We know this as throughout Exclusion Zone the narrative will swing away from our hero, detective Alex Harvey, to focus on the murderer – we follow the escalation in his crimes.

I mentioned Alex Harvey – he is the star of the show (and hopefully many more shows to follow) he has been engaged to investigate the disappearances that have been taking place in the Exclusion Zone.  To assist with his investigations he recruits the services of Elian Gould, a secretive young woman who will prove to be both a help and a hindrance to Harvey as his investigations take him to the edge of the exclusion zone and the mysteries that lie within.

The narrative swings between past and present with a story spanning around 3o years. It is handled brilliantly and the story flows really well – time leaping in a novel can sometimes jar or feel clumsy, not so in Exclusion Zone. The characters we meet are really well defined and you will cheer, cry and despair at how they fare (did I mention the dark edge?)

As I stated at the start of this review I loved Exclusion Zone. If you are looking for an engrossing story set in a distinctive (and fabulously described) environment with a decidedly nasty bad guy then this is a book you need to read.

Exclusion Zone is published by Endeavour Press and can be ordered here: https://www.amazon.co.uk/Exclusion-Zone-J-M-Hewitt/dp/1530118778/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1474395377&sr=1-1&keywords=exclusion+zone

 

I would also recommend catching up with JM Hewitt chatting all things Ukraine with Alex Shaw – they joined me earlier this year and you can see their full conversation here: http://grabthisbook.net/?p=1577

 

 

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August 23

Holiday Reading: Volume 3 – Sarabrand

Sarabrand made the headlines this summer when Graeme Macrae Burnet’s His Bloody Project was longlisted for the Man Booker Prize 2016. As the announcement was made I had just finished reading a Sarabrand book – the third of their titles that I had read in a single month. Although I have not read His Bloody Project I need to shout a bit about three brilliant books from the Sarabrand collection which should also command a place on your bookshelves.

 

Bad Samaritan – Michael J Malone

Bad SamaritanDI Ray McBain returns and his past is catching up with him. He previously came up against a deranged Serial Killer called Stigmata, it seems that Stigmata may now be back and claiming more victims and this time it seems McBain may be a target himself.

McBain is aware of the danger he faces, however, he is investigating the murder of a student – her body found in a dark city centre alley. Cutting through the lies and fake bravado of the Glasgow student population will prove to be a challenge for McBain, particularly when many of his suspect pool interact via social media and are not very good at having a “real” conversation.

Bad Samaritan is a brilliant who-dunnit, a drama of cat and mouse and has an endgame which is equally shocking and thrilling. I love the dynamic between McBain and his partner Alessandra Rossi, the scenes with them both are frequently laugh out loud funny. Glasgow humour with cop humour – double win!

Ale is much more comfortable dealing with the students than McBain and much of this investigation is driven by her. This leaves McBain dealing with his small Stigmata problems, well that and the other issues that Mr Malone is throwing his way. McBain’s story does not always make for easy reading, he is facing some tough issues and you become fully caught up with his story. Anguish and despair are not words you like to associate with a loved character, however, McBain has to contend with this (and more).

You don’t need to have read any previous DI McBain novels to enjoy Bad Samaritan but you WILL enjoy Bad Samaritan it’s fabulous.

 

And When I Die – Russel D McLean

And When I DieWhat do you do when you are born into one of Glasgow’s most notorious crime families but you just want to live a normal life?  Well if you are Kat Scobie you adapt as best you can but it’s never going to be as simple as walking away.

Family ties are too strong and Kat returns to the city to attend a family funeral, her timing could not be worse as divisions in the family are threatening to tear the Scobie empire apart. Kat’s is trying to avoid coming into contact with John, her former lover, who now works for the Scobies. John is actually an undercover cop who has stepped too far over the line and is now caught up in the attempted murder of one of the Scobie family.

Kat and John are the main focus of And When I Die – they are pursuing different agenda but I desperately hoped everything would resolve in a way that meant they would both be okay at the end of the book.

Sigh. So much for that hope!

Everything is about to come to a head and Russel McLean is not going to give Kat or John an easy time of it, but that is okay as reading And When I Die is an absolute treat. Russel McLean has crafted an extraordinary story which I absolutely devoured in a single sitting it is one of the best stories I have read this summer.

I absolutely loved the depiction of the different characters within the Scobie family. Kat seems so out of place yet knows how to manipulate her family.  John is on the cusp of discovery and one wrong step could see him exposed and likely killed – the tension in his scenes was wonderfully handled.

You need to read this, it is as simple as that.

 

The Dead Don’t Boogie – Douglas Skelton

The Dead Don't BoogieA new lead character for Douglas Skelton, meet the smart-mouthed investigator Dominic Queste. Dominic is asked to track down a missing teenage girl – he is good at that. But what if finding the girl meant he also found a whole lot of trouble?  Well if he didn’t then The Dead Don’t Boogie would be a much shorter book!

Fortunately it seems Dominic Queste and trouble are old friends and it is not long before Queste finds himself pitted against gangsters, some busy hitmen and an irritated teenage runaway that would just like to be left alone please.

Queste has a delightfully colourful past, a former addict who has cleaned up his act (even if nobody will believe him). He has a sparring partner at the local police station who is just itching to lock him up. And his best friends are retired gangsters who now enjoy a spot of cooking in their downtime.

There is a constant stream of dark humour running through The Dead Don’t Boogie, few can handle the blend of thrills and funnies as well as Douglas Skelton can. You will find that Dominic Queste will have you laughing out loud one minute and then tensely gripping the edge of your book the next.

I enjoy many of the books that I read but The Dead Don’t Boogie had an extra level of enjoyment that many thrillers lack – it is FUN too.

 

Both Russel and Douglas are launching their books in Glasgow in early September – I am sure that they would love if you came along to ask them tricky questions about their books. Waterstones Argyle Street is the place:  And When I Die (Russel D McLean) on Friday 2nd September at 7pm.  The Dead Don’t Boogie (Douglas Skelton) on Thursday 8th September at 6.30(ish).

Sarabrand have a fabulous collection of books – view the range and order your copies here:  http://saraband.net/

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June 16

Willow Walk – SJI Holliday

Willow WalkWhen the past catches up, do you run and hide or stand and fight? When a woman is brutally attacked on a lonely country road by an escaped inmate from a nearby psychiatric hospital, Sergeant Davie Gray must track him down before he strikes again. But Gray is already facing a series of deaths connected to legal highs and a local fairground, as well as dealing with his girlfriend Marie’s bizarre behaviour.

As Gray investigates the crimes, he suspects a horrifying link between Marie and the man on the run – but how can he confront her when she’s pushing him away?

As a terrified Marie is pulled back into a violent past she thought she’d escaped, she makes an irrevocable decision. And when events come to a head at a house party on Willow Walk, can Gray piece together the puzzle in time to stop the sleepy town of Banktoun being rocked by tragedy once more?

 

My thanks to SJI Holliday and Black & White Publishing for my treasured review copy.

I don’t normally mention book covers, however, before I start talking about Willow Walk I just need to say – I LOVE THE COVER. Your eyes will be drawn to Willow Walk when you see it in the wild – get closer to it and pick up the book. Once it is in  your hand treat yourself and buy a copy, it is a brilliantly dark story. A chilling read.

In Black Wood SJI Holliday introduced us to Banktoun, a sleepy Scottish town with its fair share of secrets. Willow Walk sees us returning to Banktoun and there is also a welcome return for the popular character Sergeant Davie Gray. Both Black Wood and Willow Walk can be read as stand alone novels, Davie features in both but is not the lead character in either. For returning readers there are some familiar faces but these are treats to reward you on your second visit to Banktoun, Willow Walk is a brand new adventure.

The story opens in the most disturbing of circumstances – the aftermath of a party and our main character, Marie, wakes to find herself surrounded by very still (too still) partygoers. Something has happened and she has to get away. But for Marie getting away in a small town like Banktoun is going to be a problem because someone is watching. Someone that knows her better than anyone else. Someone that isn’t meant to be here any longer so how can he possibly be back? She would know. Wouldn’t she?

Marie’s boyfriend, Davie Gray, is caught up in an investigation involving deaths from legal highs. He is consulting with police from Edinburgh and his time is stretched. He also has to contend with the problems that come from having the fairground in town.  Davie is struggling to keep on top of his job and it doesn’t help that Marie is acting strangely.

Marie is struggling to keep up the pretence that all is well.  She stumbles from home to work and is on constant alert. Someone is sending her letters – a voice from the past. Someone that should not be able to speak with her.  The problem is that the letters are arriving with alarming frequency, but how does the sender even know her address? Marie’s story is the darkest of love stories and the author spins the tale magnificently. It is creepy and it is tense. I got so caught up in it that I only looked up to check that there was no one lurking in the dark corners of the room.

I love the Banktoun books. Susi Holliday captures the essence of characters so well that everyone seems real to me.  Even the regulars sitting at the bar in the pub carry more authenticity than some of the key characters in other stories I have read. The realism of the people and the town make Willow Walk sing, it becomes a story you can immerse yourself in.

Willow Walk is a 5* read. It’s the middle book of the Banktoun Trilogy and I cannot wait for the final instalment.

Willow Walk blog tour

 

 

Willow Walk is published by Black & White Publishing and is available in paperback and digital formats. You can order copies here: https://www.amazon.co.uk/Willow-Walk-Banktoun-Trilogy-Holliday/dp/1785300210/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1466036508&sr=8-1&keywords=willow+walk

 

 

 

Category: 5* Reviews, Blog Tours, From The Bookshelf | Comments Off on Willow Walk – SJI Holliday
June 16

Exposure – Ava Marsh

ExposureKitty Sweet isn’t like anyone you’ve ever met before.

She’s an infamous porn star, imprisoned for double murder. As damaged as she is charismatic, as dangerous as she is charming.

But once no different from you or I.

Kitty’s past is full of heartbreak and desperation, of adulation and glamour. Of ruin. She’s descended to an underworld most people can only imagine, and lived to tell the tale . . .

This is her story.

 

My thanks to Sophie at Penguin/Random House for my review copy

 

Ava Marsh wrote my favourite book of last year: Untouchable. It was dark, tense, frequently very graphic and provided insightful overview into the lives of high class escorts. It was brilliant.

I am extremely fortunate to have had the chance to read Exposure, Ava’s new novel, which is released today. It pleases me greatly to be able to say Exposure was another cracking read – I am going to spend another 12 months telling people they should be reading Ava Marsh’s books.

In Exposure we meet Kitty Sweet (or Leanne to use her real name). Kitty/Leanne is in prison for double murder. Having shunned all publicity at the time of her trial she agrees to write about her life as part of a therapy process. We get to discover her story, in her own words, as she talks about her introduction to the world of glamour modelling and then a move into porn.

If you read Untouchable then you will know that Ava Marsh does not sugar-coat life for her characters. Kitty learns the hard way that there is nothing glamourous about the life of a pornstar. Setting boundaries never lasts, there is always a demand for more and when you want to quit – well all I can say is that Kitty’s attempt to establish a “normal” life brought home the true extent of the life she had embraced. Powerful scenes and wonderfully handled by the author.

I loved Exposure. It’s not going to be for everyone as there are frank and graphic descriptions of porn shoots. But if you go into the story knowing it tackles real life issues and avoids sensationalising porn or making it seem that Kitty is living a 24/7 glamourous existence then you will get the best of Exposure.

This is a “must read” book. A murder mystery, the story of a life with a constant undercurrent of tragedy, the story of a fighter or of a girl lost. And just at the end one final twist which really challenged how I had originally viewed the story. So good…

 

Exposure is published by Corgi and is available in paperback and digital format. You can order a copy here:  https://www.amazon.co.uk/Exposure-Ava-Marsh/dp/0552171212/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1466015086&sr=8-1&keywords=Exposure+ava+marsh

Category: 5* Reviews, Blog Tours | Comments Off on Exposure – Ava Marsh