June 13

Streets of Darkness – A. A. Dhand

Streets of DarknessThe sky over Bradford is heavy with foreboding. It always is. But this morning it has reason to be – this morning a body has been found. And it’s not just any body.

Detective Harry Virdee should be at home with his wife. Impending fatherhood should be all he can think about but he’s been suspended from work just as the biggest case of the year lands on what would have been his desk. He can’t keep himself away.

Determined to restore his reputation, Harry is obliged to take to the shadows in search of notorious ex-convict and prime suspect, Lucas Dwight. But as the motivations of the murder threaten to tip an already unstable city into riotous anarchy, Harry finds his preconceptions turned on their head as he discovers what it’s like to be on the other side of the law…

 

My thanks to Ben at Transworld for my review copy.

Detective Harry Virdee is an angry man.  His temper has landed him a suspension from the police and his timing is terrible as one of the most important cases that he could ever have handled is being taken away from him.

A prominent politician has been murdered, all the evidence points towards it being a racially motivated attack by the BNP and Bradford, a city with a history of racial tensions, becomes a powder-keg of tension.  The police are keen to keep events under wraps but someone has other ideas – there are factions scrabbling for supremacy of the criminal underworld and they will use any means possible to exploit weakness and cause chaos.

Harry Virdee is given free run by his boss to do whatever it takes to track down and capture the prime suspect in the murder (Lucas Dwight).  But Lucas and Harry have a history and bringing in his former nemesis is not going to be easy.

Streets of Darkness is a stunning debut. A A Dhand lights the blue touch-paper from the first chapter and the action seems relentless. There are so many strong and memorable characters in this story, all vying for attention, all destined to clash at some point and the city of Bradford is their arena. This is the story you will start and not want to put down.

As the star of the show Harry Virdee is a strong lead character, seemingly haunted and driven by an incident in his past (see the anger issues).  His wife, Saima, is heavily pregnant and Harry is determined not to cause her undue worry…this is going to be tricky.  Saima is equally determined as her husband and she was a brilliant contrast to Harry, their interchanges over baby names were wonderful…great moments of fun to lighten the mounting tension.

The bad guys are BAD. No spoilers but who would have thought a brown paper bag could contain something so familiar yet so terrifying to a captive prisoner!

We should be hearing a lot about Streets of Darkness in the coming months as 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. There is so much more I want to know about Harry and his family, it cannot come soon enough.

 

 

Streets of Darkness is published by Bantam Press on 16 June and is available to order here: https://www.amazon.co.uk/Streets-Darkness-Detective-Harry-Virdee/dp/0593076648/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1465852614&sr=1-1&keywords=streets+of+darkness

Category: 5* Reviews, From The Bookshelf | Comments Off on Streets of Darkness – A. A. Dhand
June 11

My Girl – Jack Jordan

My Girl 2Paige Dawson: the mother of a murdered child and wife to a dead man.

She has nothing left to live for… until she finds her husband’s handgun hidden in their house.

Why did Ryan need a gun? What did he know about their daughter’s death?

Desperate for the truth, Paige begins to unearth her husband’s secrets.

But she has no idea who she is up against, or that her life isn’t hers to gamble – she belongs to me.

 

My thanks to Jack for my review copy and for the chance to host a leg of the My Girl blog tour.

 

Normally I open reviews by sketching an outline of the story, perhaps highlighting central themes or positioning the type of story I have read. Yet I find that My Girl is posing a problem – I don’t want to spoil anything as I am going to implore you to read it and for the full impact of Mr Jordan’s gobsmacking story you *must* avoid spoilers!

Okay lets try this…

Paige is in a spiral of despair. Her daughter was murdered, her husband has taken his own life and Paige has a drink and drugs dependency. The story follows Paige and we watch her life falling apart around her, she alienates her in-laws, runs from the help that her father tries to find for her and is pushing away her brother when he tries to get her to moderate her behaviour.

As I read about Paige I swung between pity for her situation and frustration that she just could not seem to find the strength she seemed to need to start to fight back and try to kick her addictions. Many of her worst moments are recounted in flashback – Paige waking with a hangover to realise (or be told) what she had been doing, I really enjoyed how Jack Jordan mixed up the worst of the incidents, watching them unfold ‘real time’ in some chapters then describing events in flashback in the next.

Needless to say that I did not see Paige’s story turning out well for her.  Just how horrifically things go wrong totally caught me off guard. Pity gave way to horror. My reading speed (which was already pretty speedy) picked up pace and I flew through My Girl. Not knowing how events would turn out was just not an option – this was compelling reading.

This is a book for the reader that likes their stories to have a dark and twisted edge. I started My Girl knowing only that a couple of my most trusted fellow bloggers had loved it. I am now adding my voice to their praise – this is a cracking story.

 

My Girl is released on 4 July 2016 and you can order your copy here: https://www.amazon.co.uk/My-Girl-Jack-Jordan-ebook/dp/B01F7U2SVG/ref=sr_1_1?s=digital-text&ie=UTF8&qid=1465605107&sr=1-1&keywords=jack+jordan

 

Category: 5* Reviews, Blog Tours, From The Bookshelf | Comments Off on My Girl – Jack Jordan
June 8

Epiphany Jones – Michael Grothaus

Epiphany Jones A/W.inddJerry has a traumatic past that leaves him subject to psychotic hallucinations and depressive episodes. When he stands accused of stealing a priceless Van Gogh painting, he goes underground, where he develops an unwilling relationship with a woman who believes that the voices she hears are from God.

Involuntarily entangled in the illicit world of sex-trafficking amongst the Hollywood elite, and on a mission to find redemption for a haunting series of events from the past, Jerry is thrust into a genuinely shocking and outrageously funny quest to uncover the truth and atone for historical sins.

 

My thanks to Karen at Orenda Books for my review copy and the chance to host this leg of the blog tour.

 

From page one, I knew I was going to love this book.  What I hadn’t realised at that early point was just how much!

Meet Jerry. He has had a rough old time of it whilst growing up. He sees imaginary people (his ‘figments’), he is depressive, dangerously addicted to celebrity internet porn (fake) and may have stolen a Van Gogh painting from work (but he isn’t sure).  Jerry’s life is about to change in ways that he could never possibly have imagined and it is all down to a girl called Epiphany Jones – but can Jerry even be sure she is real?

If you read the introductory text from the book and took in the phrase sex-trafficking and then spotted my reference to internet porn you will realise that Epiphany Jones may not be catering for everyone’s tastes.  There are some very dark, graphic and disturbing scenes in this book. They are powerful, emotive, chilling and excellently handled by the author.  The harsh backdrop of the story is often lifted by laugh out loud moments as there are some wonderfully comedic scenes to enjoy too…Jerry’s visit to his mother’s house is worth the admission price alone.

So with Jerry’s life in turmoil what of the titular Ms Jones?  Well she is something of an enigma. Her history is a closed book. She shares nothing more than she has to and she maintains she hears God’s voice as He is guiding her mission. Jerry and Epiphany are the oddest couple I have encountered in a long time yet it works!

It absolutely and totally works.

Their conflicted relationship (not that type) bounces from flashpoint to flashpoint and the pair frequently clash. Well Jerry clashes – Epiphany just deals with it as she knows that God has brought them together for a reason.

Grothaus has taken the dark subject of sex-trafficking and made it a bedfellow of the glitz, glamour and sleaze of Hollywood. Worlds collide in spectacular fashion and Jerry and Epiphany are caught up in the middle of the carnage. It makes for utterly compulsive reading.

I cannot say enough good things about Epiphany Jones, it was a phenomenal read and, at the end, it left me somewhat traumatised. I have concentrated on the dark subjects and the black humour but there is a love story lurking, a story of self discovery and a tale of a lost soul trying to be found.  This is a book that needs to be read – assuming you can handle it.

Epiphany Jones is the perfect blend of thrills, comedy and darkness. It is going to take something special to top it this year, but I know already that this is going to be a book that I will recommend for many years to come.

A 5/5 review score for Epiphany Jones – but only because I cannot score it more than 5.  It blew me away.

Epiphany Jones Blog tour

 

Epiphany Jones is published by Orenda Booka and is available in paperback and digital format. You can order a copy here.

Category: 5* Reviews, From The Bookshelf | Comments Off on Epiphany Jones – Michael Grothaus
May 31

Deadly Harvest – Michael Stanley

Deadly Harvest A/W.inddA young girl goes missing after getting into a car with a mysterious man. Soon after, a second girl disappears, and her devastated father, Witness, sets out to seek revenge. As the trail goes cold, Samantha Khama – new recruit to the Botswana Criminal Investigation Department – suspects that the girl was killed for muti; traditional African medicine. She enlists opera-loving wine connoisseur Assistant Superintendent David ‘Kubu’ Benga to help her dig into the past. But as they begin to find a pattern, Kubu and Samantha suddenly find they are in a race against time…

 

 

My thanks to Karen at Orenda Books for my review copy and the chance to join the blog tour

The hunt is on for a Witch Doctor in Botswana.  Not my normal type of read I had thought – but this is a cracking police procedural with a very distinctive setting and subject matter and I absolutely loved it.

A sinister Witch Doctor is promising power to men in Botswana who crave success in their chosen fields. The price of power is a high one which few can afford to pay. Even if you have the money then the Witch Doctor will require extra special materials to make his magic work.

Muti.

The remains of a young human, a life once full of energy and drive who will be murdered to fuel the ambitions of the corrupt and unworthy.  It was quite unsettling reading how innocent young girls are abducted in plain sight and taken away to a fate unknown.

Detective Kubu is implored by his new colleague, Samantha Khama, to dig into the disappearance of several young girls but Kubu is focussed on the murder of a prominent politician. His bosses have stressed that Kubu must find the politician’s murderer as a matter of utmost priority.  However, as the story unfolds it becomes clear that the politician’s murder may also tie in with the disappearance of one of the girls Samantha has been looking into.

Kubu and Samantha methodically work the cases and I loved seeing how their investigation progressed. Where leads start to run cold it was fascinating to see how Kubu utilised local beliefs and customs to shake information out of reluctant witnesses. Samantha, being younger and (in her eyes) much more practical, shunned Kubu’s superstitious methods – until it seems that they are starting to work.

How can the police overcome the deep-rooted fear of the evil power of the Witch Doctor, a man that can apparently make himself invisible if the need should arise, to get to the bottom of a series of murders? The challenge that faces Kubu is great, particularly when his own department is in a state of turmoil as a battle for power is subtly playing out.

I thought Deadly Harvest was magnificent, I just wanted to keep reading – I had to know how the story was going to play out.  I know nothing of Botswana yet the authors made the country seem so real and vibrant. I look forward to meeting with Detective Kubu again in the future – a high bar has been set.

Deadly Harvest Blog tour

Deadly Harvest is published by Orenda Books and can be ordered in paperback or digital formats here: https://www.amazon.co.uk/Deadly-Harvest-Detective-Michael-Stanley/dp/1910633445/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1464646053&sr=1-1&keywords=deadly+harvest

Category: 5* Reviews, Blog Tours, From The Bookshelf | Comments Off on Deadly Harvest – Michael Stanley
May 25

Play Dead – Angela Marsons

Play-Dead-KindleThe dead don’t tell secrets… unless you listen.
The girl’s smashed-in face stared unseeing up to the blue sky, soil spilling out of her mouth. A hundred flies hovered above the bloodied mess.
Westerley research facility is not for the faint-hearted. A ‘body farm’ investigating human decomposition, its inhabitants are corpses in various states of decay. But when Detective Kim Stone and her team discover the fresh body of a young woman, it seems a killer has discovered the perfect cover to bury their crime.
Then a second girl is attacked and left for dead, her body drugged and mouth filled with soil. It’s clear to Stone and the team that a serial killer is at work – but just how many bodies will they uncover? And who is next?
As local reporter, Tracy Frost, disappears, the stakes are raised. The past seems to hold the key to the killer’s secrets – but can Kim uncover the truth before a twisted, damaged mind claims another victim …?
The latest utterly addictive thriller from the No.1 bestseller Angela Marsons.

 

My thanks to Kim at Bookouture for my review copy and for the chance to join the blog tour.

 

Let me cut to the chase – Play Dead is brilliant. I am going to give it a 5 star score and I am going to urge you to read it. The only excuse you are permitted for not reading it immediately is that you have not yet read the first three books in the series.  To be clear, you don’t *need* to have read them to start Play Dead…but why miss out on all the previous amazingness?

Still here?  Then let me elaborate a bit on why Play Dead has had me hooked over the last couple of days.

First is the return of Kim Stone – a lead character that shuns social niceties, keeps everyone at a distance and has a deep rooted sense of justice that makes her an excellent police officer. She has, for me, been one of the stand-out characters in crime fiction since her debut in Silent Scream.

Next up a serial killer. Through flashbacks we are given a small insight into what may be motivating the brutal murders of local women, faces smashed, soil forced into their mouths. Their bodies are dumped in a secret research centre (a ‘body farm’) – the researchers particularly disturbed to have unexpected bodies landing in their facility. Nasty. But good Nasty.

Three – the return of Stone’s nemesis, journalist Tracy Frost.  The interplay between these two makes for fabulous reading.  Frost plays a much larger role in Play Dead but this may not necessarily be a good thing for her! Readers will get to know Ms Frost very well in Play Dead and I will wager that some opinions of the odious journalist will change as readers progress through the story. I found myself wondering how her relationship with Stone would have developed had they both been aware of their respective backgrounds before they crossed swords in a professional capacity. Shame we will not get to see how that develops in future books…or will we?  **NO SPOILERS**

Four – not content with hitting her heroine with a demanding series of crimes to investigate we also learn a bit more about Kim’s background. And here Angela Marsons broke me a little.  Returning readers will know that Kim had a tough childhood, elements of this are explored in more detail through Play Dead. If you have developed any emotional attachment to Kim’s character (and it seems I have) then some of the revelations will make for tough reading.

Getting upset on behalf of a fictional character? Yeah, that happened.

Five – EVERYTHING ELSE. The pages practically turned themselves and I didn’t want to stop reading. Play Dead sees Stone back at her tetchy best and I just cannot get enough of these stories.  5/5…oh I said that already.

 

The blog tour draws to a close tomorrow but you can catch up on all things Play Dead if you follow through all the tour hosts.

Play-Dead-Blog-Tour-Graphic

 

Play Dead is published by Bookouture and is available in paperback and digital formats.

You can order a copy of Play Dead here: http://amzn.to/1Mdiokh

Category: 5* Reviews, Blog Tours, From The Bookshelf | Comments Off on Play Dead – Angela Marsons
May 23

The Dark Inside – Rod Reynolds

The Dark Inside1946, Texarkana: a town on the border of Texas and Arkansas. Disgraced New York reporter Charlie Yates has been sent to cover the story of a spate of brutal murders – young couples who’ve been slaughtered at a local date spot. Charlie finds himself drawn into the case by the beautiful and fiery Lizzie, sister to one of the victims, Alice – the only person to have survived the attacks and seen the killer up close.

But Charlie has his own demons to fight, and as he starts to dig into the murders he discovers that the people of Texarkana have secrets that they want kept hidden at all costs. Before long, Charlie discovers that powerful forces might be protecting the killer, and as he investigates further his pursuit of the truth could cost him more than his job…

Loosely based on true events, The Dark Inside is a compelling and pacy thriller that heralds a new voice in the genre. It will appeal to fans of RJ Ellory, Tom Franklin, Daniel Woodrell and True Detective.

 

My thanks to Sophie at Faber for my review copy

The Dark Inside is one of those stories which will totally get under your skin – in a good way.  It made me rage at the characters, it made me worry when the lead character (Charlie Yates) wouldn’t listen to reason and the bullying – oh the bullying – at times it made me hate everyone in Texarkana. So well realised is the world of 1946 USA that Rod Reynolds took me to a time and a place far away from my mundane commute to work.

Charlie Yates is a disgraced reporter.  He has clashed with his boss one time too many (early signs of the temper which will cause him problems throughout The Dark Inside) and he is sent to small town Texas to report on a series of brutal murders.  But when he gets to Texarkana the authorities do not want a city reporter sticking his nose in where it doesn’t belong.  They also don’t want to accept the possibility that the murders which have taken place may be the work of one man – a man as yet unidentified and who may possibly kill again.  Yates is facing opposition to his investigations every where he turns. He is warned off pursuing leads and, when he doesn’t listen, the warnings become more forceful.  Yates needs to leave town – while he still can.

The Dark Inside captures the mood and feeling of 1940’s USA.  The setting is so very unusual in today’s crime fiction releases that it stands out from the crowd, distinctive, different and very memorable. Charlie Yates is a likeable lead character but he has some very real flaws which have brought his life to a real low-point, the inner demons that he faces add an interesting angle to the story.

I touched on the bullying.  I hate bullying, but it is rife in Texarkana and Mr Reynolds plays this to wonderful effect. Was it a sign of the times?  The powerful men of the town all believe that they call the shots, but there is always someone more powerful, someone with more knowledge and clout and one by one the bullies will fall. It kept me reading, that wait to see justice done, fairness restored and ‘good’ winning through. Did it?  Well that would be a *spoiler*.

When when an author can make me angry at his characters then I know that I am reading a book I am going to love.  When that book finishes and I immediately want to read more from that author then I am a happy reader.

This is a debut novel – it is a mighty fine thing. Assured writing, excellent pacing, wonderful characterisation (even those odious bullies) and a cracking murder mystery. Read this!

 

The Dark Inside is published by Faber & Faber and is available in paperback and digital formats.  You can order a copy by clicking through this link: https://www.amazon.co.uk/Dark-Inside-Charlie-Yates-mystery/dp/0571323057/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1463954652&sr=1-1&keywords=the+dark+inside

Category: 5* Reviews, From The Bookshelf | Comments Off on The Dark Inside – Rod Reynolds
April 25

Open Wounds – Douglas Skelton

Open WoundsDavie McCall is tired. Tired of violence, tired of the Life. He’s always managed to stay detached from the brutal nature of his line of work, but recently he has caught himself enjoying it.

In the final instalment in the Davie McCall series old friends clash and long buried secrets are unearthed as McCall investigates a brutal five-year-old crime. Davie wants out, but the underbelly of Glasgow is all he has ever known. Will what he learns about his old ally Big Rab McClymont be enough to get him out of the Life? And could the mysterious woman who just moved in upstairs be just what he needs?

 

My thanks to Luath Press for my review copy

Davie McCall is not a nice guy, he does bad things to bad people but I loved reading about him. In Open Wounds Davie is tiring of the Life (working as right hand man to one of Glasgow’s gangsters) and is thinking of getting out. But the Life is all Davie knows and walking away will not be easy.

McCall has had a tough life, people close to him have been hurt and have tried to hurt him.  He is weary and events in Open Wounds seem to be driving him towards ‘retirement’ from the vicious life he has led.  But what McCall cannot shake off is history and it seems events from the past are beginning to catch up with him. His nemesis, a corrupt policeman, is concerned about Davie sniffing around an old case and will take any steps necessary to prevent the truth from being uncovered.

House keeping – Open Wounds is the 4th Davie McCall book, it can definitely be read as a stand alone novel as everything you need to know is nicely explained in the narrative by Douglas Skelton. Returning fans will be rewarded through knowing the back story but if you are new to the series this is a brilliant story to get your teeth into.

Douglas Skelton has written a dark and gripping story. There are disturbing scenes which will put the characters through the emotional wringer and define the fate of others. McCall himself is a complex character, he knows he embraced the darkness yet continues to work with the criminals. He has a moral code which seems contradictory for the work he undertakes but to McCall there seem to be degrees of right and wrong and some thresholds have been crossed. As you see McCall settling on a course of action you know that someone will suffer for transgressions – how could you not keep reading?

Glasgow makes a great backdrop for a gangster story. The language and mood is perfect for a city which is frequently associated with a ‘hard’ reputation. Douglas Skelton gives life to these characters, they are completely believable (and this not necessarily a good thing) and you want to read about them. Yet despite the grim nature of their lifestyle, there are great comedy moments in the conversations between these hard men – Glaswegians also rather well known for their humour! Reading Open Wounds was a joy on so many levels and the moments of levity gave a nice balance against some of the more gritty scenes.

When Open Wounds was finished I was left somewhat traumatised with certain events. I had been hooked while I read it and even before I had reached the end I was already recommending it to friends. I seldom offer up a review score within my reviews unless I want to make it clear that a book merits a 5/5 score – Open Wounds is one such book.  Highly recommended, get a copy ordered today.

 

 

Open Wounds is published by Luath Press and is available in paperback and digital formats here: https://www.amazon.co.uk/Wounds-Davie-McCall-Douglas-Skelton/dp/1910745332/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1461531340&sr=1-1

Category: 5* Reviews, From The Bookshelf | Comments Off on Open Wounds – Douglas Skelton
April 19

Tenacity: Naval Toasts – Tuesday to “Our Men”

Tenacity PB jacket

 

Tenacity by J. S. Law was one of my top reads of 2015. It made the Top Three and in my review I said “I don’t remember being this captivated by a debut novel since Lee Child published Killing Floor” it is that good!

To celebrate the paperback release of Tenacity (Thursday 21st April) we are having a Naval Toasts Blog Tour.  Tuesday is the toast to “Our Men” so charge your glass while I pass this to Mr Law:

 

If you’ve followed my blog tour, you’ll already know that at mess dinners in the Royal Navy, immediately after the Loyal Toast of ‘The Queen’, the youngest officer present will normally offer the traditional drinking toast of that day. 

The toast for Tuesday is traditionally “Our Men”. This toast was changed in 2013 by the then Second Sea Lord, Vice Admiral David Steel, to become “Our Sailors”, to rightly reflect the contribution of females at sea, though the traditional toast is still widely used. 

It takes a certain personality type to function on a submarine and there are those who can do it, and those who enjoy it. The one thing I still enjoy is the camaraderie with like-minded people. The vast majority of my friends are either Navy/submariners, or are connected to the Navy and the forces in some way, and that shows in their acceptance of very dark ‘gallows’ humour that the armed forces is well known for. 

But it also takes a certain type of person to leave their family for extended periods, bearing in mind that on submarines, there may be no, or very little contact at all for weeks and months on end. It tests relationships at home and on board, and submariners very quickly have to learn how to live in very close proximity to each other, but still to give each other space when needed – knowing when it’s time to have a joke and when it’s time to back away and leave someone alone. 

When Dan boards HMS Tenacity, she states to John that she thinks getting away from people will be her biggest problem, given the physical confines of the submarine, but she quickly realises that these men on Tenacity are tightly bonded by their experiences and that even when she is surrounded by a hundred men inside the ship’s hull, she can still be made to feel very, very alone…

TENACITY BLOG TOUR

Two hundred metres below the surface,
she will have nowhere to run and nowhere to hide.

A sailor hangs himself on board a naval submarine. Although ruled a suicide Lieutenant Danielle Lewis, the Navy’s finest Special Branch investigator, knows the sailor’s wife was found brutally murdered only days before.

Now Dan must enter the cramped confines of HMS Tenacity to interrogate the tight-knit, male crew and determine if there’s a link.

Standing alone in the face of extreme hostility and with a possible killer on board, Dan soon realises that she may have to choose between the truth and her own survival.

The pressure is rising and Dan’s time is running out…

 

You can order Tenacity here: http://www.amazon.co.uk/Tenacity-J-S-Law/dp/1472227913?ie=UTF8&keywords=tenacity&qid=1461015549&ref_=sr_1_2_twi_pap_5&sr=8-2

 

Category: 5* Reviews, Blog Tours | Comments Off on Tenacity: Naval Toasts – Tuesday to “Our Men”
April 18

Sleeping Giants – Sylvain Neuvel

Sleeping GiantsDeadwood, USA. A girl sneaks out just before dark to ride her new bike. Suddenly, the ground disappears beneath her. Waking up at the bottom of a deep pit, she sees an emergency rescue team above her. The people looking down see something far stranger…

“We always look forward. We never look back.”

That girl grows up to be Dr. Rose Franklin, a brilliant scientist and the leading world expert on what she discovered. An enormous, ornate hand made of an exceptionally rare metal, which predates all human civilisation on the continent.

“But this thing … it’s different. It challenges us. It rewrites history.”

An object whose origins and purpose are perhaps the greatest mystery humanity has ever faced. Solving the secret of where it came from – and how many more parts may be out there – could change life as we know it.

“It dares us to question what we know about ourselves.”

But what if we were meant to find it? And what happens when this vast, global puzzle is complete…?

“About everything.”

 

My thanks to Michael Joseph for my review copy which I received through Netgalley.

 

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?”

Now that sounds like Sylvain Neuvel may not have explained events very clearly, not so!  The story unfolds as a series of interviews conducted between a shadowy political player and the various protagonists in the story.  The interviews are a fantastically scripted and (usually) they are recapping events which have occurred in the past. The interview subjects are being quizzed on the ramifications of these past events and how they feel about what has taken place. This is how the whole story unfolds.

The end result of this interview-style story telling is that you can find that a MAJOR incident has occurred between interviews and the Shadowy figure is casually asking how a traumatic incident may have made someone feel (in the same way that they may be asked if they were unhappy that they forgot their umbrella on a rainy day).

If it sounds slightly unusual then I am not doing Sleeping Giants justice.  It is a delight to read. The interview-style narrative is so cleverly used by the author that you cannot help but be entertained. The Shadowy figure is wonderfully deadpan and literal so the interviews always feel fresh and edgy.

The central characters are scientists, pilots, mathematicians – they operate on high intelligence levels yet are mere pawns in the game of the Shadowy character. He has out-thought them at each stage of the story, manipulated the team he assembled and has second guessed their actions months ahead of time.

But what of the titular Sleeping Giants?  A young girl in Deadwood USA accidentally falls into a newly formed hole in the ground. Her landing is not on hard ground but she finds herself in the palm of a giant hand. The hand is made of a compound never before found on Earth and is confounding scientists.  When the girl grows older she finds herself in charge of the team responsible for investigating the hand. However, now there is a will (or a Shadowy force, perhaps?) to find out if there are other parts to be found – what if the hand were a small part of a larger object?

Sleeping Giants tracks the progress of the quest to locate more ‘parts’ which will attach to the hand and then to establish the scope of power that they may harness. Sylvain Neuvel will take the story in directions you will not anticipate but you will enjoy every step of the journey.

Sleeping Giants gets one of the easiest 5/5 review scores I have awarded for some time. If this book does not feature in my Top Ten of 2016 it can only mean that the next 8 months have some stupendous books lurking in wait. I was gutted it ended, can we have the Shadowy figure back again please?

 

Sleeping Giants is published by Michael Joseph and releases on 21st April 2016.  You can order your copy here:  http://www.amazon.co.uk/Sleeping-Giants-Sylvain-Neuvel/dp/0718181689/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1461016047&sr=8-1&keywords=sleeping+giants

 

 

Category: 5* Reviews, From The Bookshelf | Comments Off on Sleeping Giants – Sylvain Neuvel
April 11

The Silent Twin – Caroline Mitchell

The Silent TwinI’m alone in the dark, please can you find me …

Nine-year-old twins Abigail and Olivia vow never to be parted. But when Abigail goes missing from Blackwater Farm, DC Jennifer Knight must find her before it’s too late.

Twin sister Olivia has been mute since Abigail’s disappearance. But when she whispers in Jennifer’s ear, Jennifer realises it is Abigail’s voice pleading to be found.

A damp and decaying house set in acres of desolate scrubland, the farm is a place of secrets, old and new – and Jennifer must unravel them all in order to find the lost girl. But could Olivia’s bond with her twin hold the key to finding Abigail? And can Jennifer break through her silence in time to save her sister’s life?

 

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

DC Jennifer Knight returns in her third outing in Caroline Mitchell’s The Silent Twin. I really enjoyed the first two books so had been looking forward to seeing what would come next for Jennifer – something rather different as it turns out.

A young girl, Abigail, has disappeared from her family home (a remote farm cottage), her glasses have been found seemingly dropped or discarded and her twin sister, Olivia, has not spoken a word since her sister vanished. The police were quick to respond but they have encountered a family dealing with their crisis in very different ways.

The father is a police officer and has mobilised family and neighbours to search the farm and surrounding areas. The mother is behaving extremely oddly as she is calm, collected and playing hostess to the police and searchers – she is not showing any apparent concern about her missing daughter. Olivia is moving around the house like a lost soul – she is not speaking and is seemingly keeping out of her parents way. But there is an added worry for the police that are assisting the family, strange events and disturbances in the family home (objects falling from stable positions and other unexplained phenomenon).

Jennifer is called into action in the unfamiliar role of Family Liaison Officer, this gives her constant access to the family and gets her into the house. Could her special talents and awareness of ghosts and spirits give her any insights into what happened when Abigail disappeared?

I loved this very different approach from Caroline Mitchell. The uncertainty over what had happened to Abigail keeps the reader engrossed in the story. Jennifer’s role felt very different in The Silent Twin too, admittedly she was performing a very different role for this investigation but it was fascinating following her attempts to engage with different family members who all required different approaches. Also the ‘haunted house’ element of the investigation gave the whole book a delightfully creepy edge which allows it to stand apart from the more standard police procedural stories.

The Silent Twin has a narrative from multiple viewpoints which worked really well as the story developed. The police investigation into a missing child had a very realistic feel and the constant frustration over lack of progress was brilliantly conveyed. The supernatural edge to the book was of particular appeal to me and I love the balance that Caroline Mitchell is working into the Jennifer Knight stories, the crime story the dominant element yet enough of the supernatural to make it distinctive.

I highly recommend The Silent Twin, it is a gripping story with more than its fair share of unexpected twists. Caroline Mitchell is putting the ‘super’ into supernatural, 5/5 from me.

 

The Silent Twin is published by Bookouture and will release on 14 April 2016.  You can order a copy here.

 

Category: 5* Reviews, From The Bookshelf | Comments Off on The Silent Twin – Caroline Mitchell