July 28

Her Deadly Secret – Chris Curran

A young girl has been taken. Abducted, never to be seen again.

Joe and Hannah, her traumatized parents, are consumed by grief. But all is not as it seems behind the curtains of their suburban home.

Loretta, the Family Liaison Officer, is sure Hannah is hiding something – a dark and twisted secret from deep in her past.

This terrible memory could be the key to the murder of another girl fifteen years ago. And as links between the two victims emerge, Joe and Hannah learn that in a family built on lies, the truth can destroy everything…

 

A story which unfolds from the point of view of three families. The key players in my eyes were Joe and Hannah, they are in a dark, dark place as their daughter Lily is gone.

The police are investigating Lily’s disappearance and they have Family Liaison Officer, Loretta, working with Joe and Hannah.  Loretta is there to provide support to the family at a difficult time but she is also expected to establish a bond with a view to obtaining information about Lily which could help the investigation.  Unfortunately for Loretta Hannah is virtually catatonic and hardly speaks. Meanwhile Joe is doing what he can to get Hannah to speak with him but he is acutely aware that the police suspect he may even be involved in Lily’s murder. Joe had been away from the house quite frequently prior to Lily’s disappearance so he finds he cannot answer Loretta’s questions about Lily’s behaviour of late.

Unable to gain any significant information from Hannah or Joe we see Loretta coming under increasing pressure from her boss. Not helping her situation is a bullying colleague and, at home, a recent separation from her husband problems with the behaviour of one of her kids.

Two families down and we turn to Rosie.  Years ago Rosie’s sister was murdered and her father was arrested and jailed for killing his eldest daughter. Now Rosie’s father is out of prison and she learns that her mother has allowed him to return home. Having cut off communications with her father years prior to events in the story, Rosie’s mother tries to encourage her to come meet her father – they both believe that someone knows her father is innocent of the killing…he received letters whilst in prison in which the anonymous sender indicated they knew he did not kill his daughter.  Rosie is determined to find out who may have written the letters.

With three narrative threads to keep track of I thought Chris Curran did a great job of keeping each of the families interesting and under pressure.  You want to keep reading to find out how they will overcome their immediate problems, plus you know that there is a reason there are three viewpoints to a single story – at some stage you expect paths to cross, I just didn’t know where that may happen. The only way to satisfy that curiosity was to read more and more chapters.

I read of many murders, kidnapping and violent attacks during the normal blogging year but the suffering of Joe and Hannah troubled me more than I am used to.  Perhaps it is because most tales focus on the killer or the investigation and less so upon the family of the victim?  Sharing Hannah and Joe’s grief and watching them struggle to comprehend the position they are in was unsettling and I put this entirely down to Chris Curran’s sympathetic unpicking of their lives.

I refer to books like Her Deadly Secret as “people stories”.  Now I know that most books are “people stories” but this is a tale which is very much driven by the characters and their lives, we don’t rely upon clever action set pieces. No witchcraft or demons are lurking in the cellar and is unlikely the TARDIS will land to allow The Doctor to put everything to right. This is pure human and emotional drama and it works very well. Highly recommended.

 

Her Deadly Secret is published by Killer Reads and can be ordered here: https://www.amazon.co.uk/Her-Deadly-Secret-gripping-psychological-ebook/dp/B06Y5ZFF1Z/ref=asap_bc?ie=UTF8

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July 25

I Am Missing – Tim Weaver

When a young man wakes up bruised and beaten, with no memory of who he is or where he came from, the press immediately dub him ‘The Lost Man’.

Naming himself Richard Kite, he spends the next ten months desperately trying to find out who he is. But despite media appeals and the efforts of the police, no one knows him.

Richard’s last hope may be private investigator David Raker – a seasoned locator of missing people. But Raker has more questions than answers.

Who is Richard Kite?

Why does no one know him?

And what links him to the body of a woman found beside a London railway line two years ago?

Could Richard be responsible for her death – or is he next?

 

My thanks to Laura at Penguin for my review copy

 

I will start with the confession – this is the first of Tim Weaver’s novels that I have read. Having seen Tim at Bloody Scotland last September I promised myself that I would introduce his David Raker books to my bookshelves. Spin forward 10 months and I have just finished I am Missing.

Did it whet my appetite and leave me wanting to read more of Mr Weaver’s books? 

Hell Yeah.

Did it matter that I had not read the earlier books? Not one jot – I felt the story was complete and other than a slight suggestion that Raker had ruffled some feathers within the police during the course of his previous adventures I was happy I had a good feel for the character.

So what made me jump into a series without catching up on the earlier volumes?  Well I loved the premise of I Am Missing. Raker has proven that he is an accomplished investigator and can track down missing people but in this story he is approached by Richard Kite who wants Raker to find someone for him. Kite wants Raker to find out who Richard Kite really is – he has amnesia and cannot recall his own life prior to 10 months earlier when he was found washed up on a beach. A great twist on the missing person story and one which I initially found quite sad too.

As I was reading and Kite was explaining how so much of his life was a mystery to him I was very unsettled about his predicament. Tim Weaver dropped a tragic character into my lap and I was willing Raker to succeed even before he had ended his first conversation with Kite. Hooked I was!

What I had not expected was where Raker’s investigations would lead. As I got deeper into I am Missing I began to realise that there were several characters working to a secret agenda and that were hampering Raker at every turn. Soon I was suspicious of everyone and I was utterly engrossed.

I am reluctant to give much more detail regarding the plot for fear of spoilers – the joy of I am Missing was not knowing where the story was leading and having the mysteries teased out and explained as Raker himself pieces the clues together.

This was a treat and I would suggest a nice jumping in point for the David Raker stories if, like me, you are new to the series.

  

I Am Missing is published by Penguin and is available in paperback and digital format.  You can order a copy here: https://www.amazon.co.uk/Am-Missing-David-Raker-Persons-ebook/dp/B071F2ZPV5/ref=sr_1_2?ie=UTF8&qid=1501021302&sr=8-2&keywords=tim+weaver+i+am+missing

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July 25

Marked For Death – Matt Hilton

It should be a routine job. Joe Hunter and his associates are hired to provide security for an elite event in Miami. Wear a tux, stay professional, job done.

But things go wrong.

Hunter is drawn into what appears to be a domestic altercation. When he crosses the mysterious Mikhail however, he soon finds something altogether more sinister…

Before long this chance encounter has serious repercussions for Hunter and his friends. Good people are being killed. On the run, in the line of fire, the clock is ticking.

 

My thanks to Canelo for my review copy

 

If you want an action movie in a book then Marked For Death should be on your “must read” list.

Matt Hilton has delivered a full adrenaline, breathlessly paced thriller which zip along and places returning hero Joe Hunter firmly in the thick of the action. He will face peril at every turn and it is all his own fault!

Hunter is helping an old friend and providing his services on a security detail at a luxury party. At the end of the evening he overhears one of the guests intimidating his date and, being the chivalrous type, Hunter steps in to ensure the woman is protected from any potential harm. Hunter is aware that confronting a guest will jeopardise future employment opportunities (both for himself and possibly for his friend’s business) however he steps into the fray and when the aggressor refuses to back down from Hunter’s challenge a short but very decisive scuffle breaks out.

Hunter leads the woman away from her date, intending to take her to safety, but it seems that the couple were more than casual acquaintances (as evidenced by a shiny ring). The woman (Trey Shaw) understands that Hunter has possibly saved her from an immediate beating but she makes it quite clear that Hunter has done more harm than good and that her partner will not accept Trey leaving. Nor will the humiliation of being bested by Hunter in a fight be tolerated.

From then on Hunter has to keep himself alive and Trey safe as an irate and slighted crime boss seeks vengeance. As the body count rises amongst the bad guys there is an increasing demand that Hunter is killed.

Action packed page turner is the best way to describe Marked For Death. Matt Hilton knows how to enthral his readers, the bad guys are just that and you want to see them fail.  Hunter is a hero you can get behind – he could have turned a blind eye to someone else’s problems but he stood up to the bullies and you cannot help but will him to succeed.

Lots of fun – perfect holiday reading.

 

Marked For Death is published by Canelo and is available in digital format now.  You can order a copy here: https://www.amazon.co.uk/Marked-Death-Joe-Hunter-Thrillers-ebook/dp/B073CGFHBS/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1500937344&sr=8-1&keywords=marked+for+death+matt

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July 8

Merlin At War – Mark Ellis

Merlin at war

Today I am delighted to host the latest leg of the Merlin at War blog tour.  The new DCI Frank Merlin novel released on 6 July and I have an extract from the book to give you a taste of the action.  First the book description:

War rages across Europe. France is under the Nazi thumb. Britain has its back to the wall. In London, Scotland Yard detective Merlin investigates a series of disturbing events – a young girl killed in a botched abortion, a French emigre shot in a seedy Notting Hill flat, a mysterious letter written by a British officer, gunned down in Crete. With action spanning Buenos Aires, New York, Cairo and Occupied France, Merlin and his team are plunged into a dark world of espionage, murder, love and betrayal.

 

My thanks to Eve at Midas PR for the chance to join the tour.

 

Vichy France, May 1941

The birds were chattering melodiously in the plane trees of the Parc des Sources. The two men, one in uniform and flourishing a white military baton, the other in a baggy but expensive civilian suit, sauntered out of the Hotel Splendide, followed at a distance by a small group of military men and secretaries. The outside tables at the Grand Café were crowded in the balmy late-spring sun. Several of the male customers rose to tip their hats to the strollers while as many ladies, some young, some old, smiled by way of respect.

The civilian, short and dark, with a cowlick of oiled hair and a thick black moustache, acknowledged the signs of deference with a nod of the head and the crinkling of an eye. His stiffly erect companion responded with a raised eyebrow and a baton tap of his kepi. They walked in silence under the café awnings towards Les Halles de Sources before turning into the park. Fifty yards on, they found a park bench in a secluded area of rhododendron bushes and fuchsias and seated themselves. Their attendant party took up position nearby, just out of earshot, beside a small clump of chestnut trees. In the distance, a brass band was playing a selection of military airs.

“So, Admiral, the marshal tells me your trip to Paris was a success.”

Jean Louis Xavier François Darlan, admiral of France and the senior minister in Marshal Philippe Pétain’s Vichy government, stroked his cheek. “Yes, all went as planned, Pierre, although little has been finalised as yet.”

Pierre Laval, former prime minister of France and, until recently, vice-president of Vichy France’s Cabinet of Ministers, chuckled and patted his companion on the knee.

“The marshal mentioned no qualifications. He told me you had got everything he wanted from the Germans. Said you had got the occupation costs to us down from 20 million reichsmarks a day to 15 million, the return of nearly 7,000 of our best people from the German prisoner-of-war camps, and a considerable improvement on the current restrictions in our dealings with the other France.”

“By the other France, Pierre, I take it you mean occupied France?”

“Do not be a pedant, my friend. You know that is what I mean. We need to free up the limitations of our trade so that the French state can benefit to the maximum from our partnership with the Germans.”

The admiral pursed his lips. “You use the word ‘partnership’ Pierre. Others use the word ‘collaboration’, which has a less satisfactory ring.”

Laval rose stiffly to his feet and circumnavigated the bench. When he regained his seat, Darlan noted the unhealthily red flush on his cheeks.

“Partnership or collaboration, what does it matter? We were in a mess and we have found a way for some kind of France to survive. At least Herr Hitler provides us with a bulwark against a worst danger.”

“And, pray, what worst danger is that, Pierre?”

“Why, Bolshevism, of course. The local Bolshevism, which we had to combat before the war, and the greater Bolshevism represented by that maniac Stalin. Hitler is by far the lesser of two evils in that context.”

“Those Frenchmen languishing currently in Hitler’s camps would find it hard to agree with your analysis, I think.”

“But you are gradually getting many of those Frenchmen home, François. That is part of the deal you have just struck, is it not?”

“In return for, among other things, allowing Germany access to our military facilities in Tunisia, Syria, Lebanon and our possessions in west Africa. No doubt ‘access’ will prove a polite substitution for ‘control’.”

Laval stroked his moustache thoughtfully. “And what is so bad about that in the overall scheme of things, if we can recover a much greater level of independence for Vichy France and further the cause of reunification with ‘the other’ France?”

The admiral removed a handkerchief from his jacket pocket and mopped his brow. The May sun was now at its highest point in the heavens and was beating down from a now cloudless sky.

“Perhaps you are right, Pierre, although I somehow doubt that Herr Hitler fails to realise the strength of his negotiating position and the weakness of ours. Dealing with your friend the German ambassador in Paris is one thing but… Of course, Herr Abetz was a fine host and I have to say I was impressed by the restraint with which, under his leadership, the German occupying forces go about their business in Paris.”

The two men sat silently for a while, enjoying the warmth of the day, the mild relieving breeze and the mingled music of birdsong and trombone. For a moment, the heavy burdens on their shoulders lifted and a different France, the old France, took shape around them. Their brief reverie was interrupted by one of the admiral’s men, who ran over to deliver a note. Darlan read it and sighed.

“The marshal wants to see me again at four. When do you think you will be regaining your place in the council, Pierre?”

Laval smoothed some of the creases in his baggy pinstripe trousers and shrugged. “I serve at the marshal’s discretion. As you know, there are voices speaking against me. It is tiresome but I can handle it. Sooner rather than later is the answer to your question, I believe.”

“The marshal still values your advice above all others.”

“Indeed, François. But back to those agreements with Abetz, the Paris Protocols I understand we must now call them. What next?”

Darlan slowly rose to his feet. “They must be ratified by Berlin and by us. Although I have negotiated the protocols myself, I am not completely happy with them. As for Berlin, who knows how long they will take?” The admiral looked up to the sky and sighed. “Such a beautiful day to be discussing these uncomfortable matters.”

Laval stood. “Before we go back, François, have you been briefed recently on the activities of Monsieur de Gaulle and his so-called ‘Free French’ forces in London?”

Darlan looked up, distracted for a moment by what appeared to be a fierce disagreement among the pigeons. He returned his eyes to Laval. “I see the same security reports as you, no doubt, Pierre.”

“And what about the intelligence on the activities of the socalled Resistance here in Vichy and elsewhere in France?”

“I believe I am up to speed. As yet these people appear to pose only a minor threat to us or the occupiers.”

“So the cabinet report says but I have my own sources. I understand from them that the anti-government forces here are going to be receiving direct assistance from abroad.”

“From abroad?”

“From England. In fact, according to my sources, the English secret services have already sent agents over here.”

“Two agents, perhaps three, I understood, Pierre. Is that anything to be particularly concerned about? Naturally, the British will deploy intelligence and counter-intelligence agents as the war proceeds. I would guess that the SS and other German agencies will be well on top of such problems.”

Laval shrugged. “As you say, the Germans should be on top of this. Meanwhile, our own people will be vigilant and I am happy to know that we have our own viable sources here and abroad. Now, my friend, I believe we have time for a quick bite. If we return to my rooms at the hotel, I’m sure my people can rustle up a nice bit of beef and a fine burgundy to accompany it. Shall we?”

The two men retraced their steps to the marshal’s seat of government at the Hotel Splendide, knowledging the renewed greetings of the people again in dignified fashion.

 

Merlin at War by Mark Ellis is out now (hardback £12.99, London Wall Publishing)

You can order a copy of the book here: https://www.amazon.co.uk/Merlin-War-DCI-Frank-Novel/dp/0995566712/ref=tmm_pap_swatch_0?_encoding=UTF8&qid=&sr=

 

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July 1

Guest Post – Caz Frear (Sweet Little Lies)

Sweet Little LiesJust before Grab This Book begins a summer break and I get a couple of weeks of reading catch-up I have one last post to share.  First – an apology to Kaz Frear as this is a couple of days later than planned…sorry. But as I am not around to post any new features I am delighted that Caz’s guest post will be “front of house” for an extended period as I take a bit of a break.

So with no more delays I leave you in the safe hands of Caz Frear – there is more information on Sweet Little Lies below.

 

KEEPING FAMILY SECRETS

Not wanting to get too, “Eh, back in my day…” but to quote a well known book, and a less well known song (fist pumps to Queens of the Stone Age), there really is a lost art of keeping secrets these days.  There’s almost a negative connotation to the word.  Secrets have become synonymous with repressed emotion, the implication being that our fragile ‘snowflake’ hearts can’t take the weight of responsibility that secrets always carry and therefore we should be loud and we should be proud at all times.  We should expose the secrets of those who do bad things and we should shout about the good folk from the treetops (ok, from Twitter.)

It can’t be denied that speaking your truth is where it’s at now.  The confessional-style interview remains all the rage and if you’re a celebrity, you honestly haven’t made it onto the A-list until you’ve penned an ‘open letter’ where you spill your soul and usually your carefully PR-managed secrets.  And then for the rest of us, all the non-celebrities, Jeremy Kyle still exists (somehow) as a forum through which we can all air our dirty linen in a sweltering studio somewhere in Norwich.

I jest, of course.  But it does make me wonder if there’s no longer a place for secrets in this modern world?  Are we all really itching to offload our baggage, expose our friend’s transgressions, and run down our high-streets belting out, “I am what I am”, free from the weight of the crushing secrets that inevitably turn our insides ugly.

Well, no.

Because everyone has family secrets.  And these secrets are generally kept from the prying eyes of social media, daytime TV at all costs.  People guard family secrets like the crown jewels  And why?  Well sometimes, tragically, it’s for despicably awful reasons – reasons of fear and shame and expectations of ostracisation if they ever broke rank. But usually it’s not that dramatic.  It’s simply the belief that the sins of our father/brother/aunt/cousin/great grandma/niece somehow reflect badly on us too.  So If dodgy cousin Derek once robbed a Budgens with a toy pistol and did 6 months inside, we worry that people might think our whole family is like that too.

‘The apple doesn’t fall from the tree

‘Blood is thicker than water’

Yada-yada-bloody-ya..

In Sweet Little Lies, Cat is saddled with a monster family secret from a young age and it was so important for this to come out in her personality.  How might she behave if she could never give voice to her deepest fears?  Would she have an over-dependence on wine and junk-food – yes.  Would she have trouble sleeping sometimes – yes.  Would she have a slight desire to distance herself from her peers, the ‘nosy’ millennials who love to over-share and want to know every little thing about her – yes.

Caz FrearWould she be a neurotic, hateful, unpredictable ball of unmitigated angst – no.  Absolutely not.  She could have been, of course – she’s arguably got enough reason to be – but I have a firm optimistic belief that human beings are more resilient than that.  Most people manage to blunder along with their pain, trying not to create more as they go, and making the best of the cross they have to bear no matter how heavy that cross can seem at times.

Because we all have painful secrets don’t we?

So be kind.

xx

 

Sweet Little Lies – Caz Frear

WHAT I THOUGHT I KNEW

In 1998, Maryanne Doyle disappeared and Dad knew something about it?
Maryanne Doyle was never seen again.

WHAT I ACTUALLY KNOW

In 1998, Dad lied about knowing Maryanne Doyle.
Alice Lapaine has been found strangled near Dad’s pub.
Dad was in the local area for both Maryanne Doyle’s disappearance and Alice Lapaine’s murder – FACT
Connection?

Trust cuts both ways . . . what do you do when it’s gone?

Sweet Little Lies is published by  and is available in paperback or for Kindle here: https://www.amazon.co.uk/Sweet-Little-Lies-gripping-suspense-ebook/dp/B01N5WKRUY/ref=asap_bc?ie=UTF8

 

 

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June 25

A Deadly Game – Joanne Griffiths

DeadlyGame Avignon+Book D30000 darkenKate Palmer, an undergraduate student, discovers that she is pregnant and makes the decision to drop out of university. However, on the evening before she returns home, her body is discovered in Aston park. She is the first victim of several murders that will rock the city of Birmingham.

DS James “Jim” Wardell, who has his own issues to contend with, is given the case.

When Eddie Carter, a popular talk show host on Birmingham’s radio station, is contacted by someone claiming to be the killer, it is the start of a cat and mouse game between a deranged killer and the police.

After a second body is discovered the pressure mounts on the police to capture the person responsible.

Who is killing these women and why?

Can Jim apprehend the twisted killer before more innocent women are murdered?

 

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

 

A serial killer story where we get to see lots more of the killer than you may normally expect. We see him at home, we watch his rage peak and calm, we see how he treats his family and we see him growing excited with his successes as he plays out A Deadly Game.

The story opens by introducing Kate Palmer, she has been finding life tough but has decided to return home to her parents and try to recover some control of her future. But before Kate can follow through on her plans she encounters a killer – a man who has decided to push his fantasy to the next level and take a life.

What made A Dangerous Game different from many serial killer books is that Joanne Griffiths takes time to focus on the victim, the killer and also the survivors. The family or loved ones of the victims get much more visibility than we may normally expect to see and it really reinforces the horrific nature of the killer’s actions.

After a life is taken we are taken to the killer’s home.  He is married, has a young child but is not satisfied with how the birth of his baby changed his wife – he feels that she is a disappointment to him and he makes her life a misery.  As the killer’s wife is a key character to the story we also get to follow her narrative (and it is not a happy one).

The story switches from the killer, to his wife, to the police and then to a victim – then the cycle begins anew. The stakes are raised each time as the killer gets more cocky, his wife more unhappy and the police more frustrated. A frustrating sense of helplessness for the reader – you want to reach into the book and stop the victims from making the mistake which will place them in danger or to tell the killers wife to get the Hell out of the house.

There were some unexpected twists and plenty of dark moments to keep me reading A Dangerous Game and it is definitely one I enjoyed.

 

A Deadly Game is published by Bloodhound Books and is available in paperback and digital format.  You can order a copy here: https://www.amazon.co.uk/Deadly-Game-Joanne-Griffiths-ebook/dp/B072KN4LZ9/ref=tmm_kin_swatch_0?_encoding=UTF8&qid=1498346011&sr=1-1

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June 23

Beneath The Ashes – Jane Isaac

Beneath The AshesTHE SECOND DI WILL JACKMAN CRIME THRILLER

The floor felt hard beneath her face. Nancy opened her eyes. Blinked several times. A pain seared through her head. She could feel fluid. No. She was lying in fluid.

When a body is discovered in a burnt-out barn in the Warwickshire countryside, DI Will Jackman is called to investigate.

Nancy Faraday wakes up on the kitchen floor. The house has been broken into and her boyfriend is missing. As the case unravels, DI Jackman realises that nothing is quite as it appears and everyone, it seems, has a secret.

Can he discover the truth behind the body in the fire, and track down the killer before Nancy becomes the next victim?

 

My thanks to Legend Press for my review copy

Books are forever,  a permanent treat and if you haven’t yet read a book then it is a new story to enjoy – even if it was published some time ago.  Yup I am reaching back into my bookshelves for a book I have had for some time but not yet reviewed. So with apologies to Jane Isaac for making her wait for this…my thoughts on Beneath The Ashes.

This was the first of Jane’s books I had read and I was struck by the realism of the police investigation which takes place. Beneath The Ashes is a pure police procedural, you feel that you are part of the team and there is an actual process and method being followed by the police. It is hugely satisfying watching Will Jackman chasing down clues, interviewing suspects and eliminating various possibilities. He has his work cut out as there are several characters in this story who seem to have secrets to keep!

A body is found in a burned out barn. Although the victim appears to be easy to identify, once the police start their investigations it soon becomes clear that the person they believe has died may actually have been living a lie. If the dead man in the barn is not who he said he was how will that impact upon his girlfriend – not only has she lost her closest friend she also learns that everything she knew about him was a lie.

What makes Beneath The Ashes work so well is the skill of Jane Isaac at capturing characters and making them believable. The anguish and worry of Nancy as her world crumbles around her, Jackman trying to conduct a complex investigation, juggle career choices and be a family man too. The interaction between the suspects and the police, between Jackman and his daughter and between the whole investigative team makes for engaging reading and was richly rewarding as it drew me into the lives of the characters.

I love when I learn that a character I enjoyed reading about will return/feature in other books.  Now that I have caught up with Beneath The Ashes I am planning to meet up with Will Jackman again soon and I am rather looking forward to that.

 

Beneath The Ashes is available in paperback and digital format.  You can order a copy here: https://www.amazon.co.uk/DI-Will-Jackman-Shocking-Page-Turning-ebook/dp/B01CJPU6LQ/ref=asap_bc?ie=UTF8

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June 1

The Legion of Regrettable Super Villains – Jon Morris

Legion of Regrettable Super VillainsEvery hero needs a villain. But not all villains are dangerous some are incompetent, comical, or just weird. In his follow-up to The League of Regrettable Superheroes, author Jon Morris presents over a hundred of the strangest, most stupefying supervillains to ever see print in comics. Meet D-list rogues like Brickbat (choice of weapon: poisonous bricks), Robbing Hood (steals from the poor to give to the rich), Swarm (a crook made of bees; Nazi bees), and many more. Drawing on the entire history of the medium, The Legion of Regrettable Supervillains affectionately and hilariously profiles oddball criminals from the history of comics.

 

My thanks to Jamie at Quirk Books for my review copy.

Factual books talking about fictional stories are brilliant distractions.  I have shelves of books which break down all 36 seasons of Doctor Who. Star Trek is also well represented as are volumes on Spider-man characters, every hero ever to be an Avenger, Batman through the years and even a Thunderbirds anthology.  So when Quirk Books kindly let me review The Legion of Regrettable Super Villains I was like a kid in a sweet shop (or a reader locked in a bookshop).

Jon Morris has trawled the archives of comic book history to find us some of the more obscure villains to grace the pages of comic books.  Spanning tales from the Golden Age (where there were a plethora of characters I confess I had never heard of). To modern times where there were signs some creative teams were rushing toward deadline and the inspiration-fairy had left them in the lurch. There are some weird and wonderful characters to read about and you can decide for yourself if you feel that some may be due a revival.

As with any of these collections I was instinctively drawn to the characters and stories that I recognised (and there were several).  By comparing my own opinion on some of the Regrettable Villains against that of the author I could benchmark how fairly, or not, they are being treated.  Overall I was very pleased with the outcome of that experiment as I seemed to be quite aligned to the author’s way of thinking for the most part.

Each Villain gets introduced, some of their history explained or the reason for their appearance outlined and we hear who they were pitted against.  There are some dark and twisted creative minds at work in the comic book world, some of these crooks are seriously disturbed and I am not sure some of the stories would be agreed by editors these days.

Regrettable Super Villains isn’t the type of book I can sit and pour through in a single sitting or two.  It was enjoyed over a few weeks as I dipped in and out of it and jumped from section to section. For a comic book fan it was sheer browsing pleasure, we need more books like this…these oddball weirdos must never be forgotten.

 

The Legion of Regrettable Super Villains is published by Quirk Books and is available now in gorgeous hardback and a digital version too. Copies ordered here: https://www.amazon.co.uk/Legion-Regrettable-Supervillains-Oddball-Criminals/dp/1594749329/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1495404300&sr=1-1&keywords=league+of+regrettable+supervillains

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May 25

Don’t Wake Up – Liz Lawler

Don't Wake UpAlex Taylor wakes up tied to an operating table. The man who stands over her isn’t a doctor.

The choice he forces her to make is utterly unspeakable.

But when Alex re-awakens, she’s unharmed – and no one believes her horrifying story. Ostracised by her colleagues, her family and her partner, she begins to wonder if she really is losing her mind.

And then she meets the next victim.

So compulsive you can’t stop reading.

So chilling you won’t stop talking about it.

Don’t Wake Up is a dark, gripping psychological thriller with a horrifying premise and a stinging twist . . .

 

My thanks to Emily at Bonnier Zaffre for my review copy and the chance to join the blog tour.

 

When books are battling for my attention and I can have half a dozen (or more) on the go at any one time then what I really need is to pick up a book which will grab my attention from the first page.  Big love for Don’t Wake Up for doing just that – the opening chapter was chilling and I wanted to keep reading.

Alex Taylor is a doctor. She had been about to meet her boyfriend but she wakes on an operating table. A strange man is standing over her wearing surgeon mask and scrubs – she doesn’t recognise the room she is in nor does she recognise the surgeon. She is absolutely terrified over what may be about to happen to her and the man forces her to make an horrific choice. The next time Alex awakes she is back in familiar surroundings and there is no evidence that anything untoward has happened.

Alex cannot make anyone believe what has happened to her and it starts to impact upon her work. Liz Lawler has done a great job of building a world around Alex and then she starts to pull it apart around her. We see Alex desperate to find a sympathetic ear, her colleagues cannot trust her judgement and as she becomes increasingly frustrated.

At the risk of exposing too much detail (avoiding spoilers) another “attack” victim will cross paths with Alex and the police will become involved. As a reader I started to wonder if I could trust what I was reading – was Alex a reliable narrator or was much of what was happening to her just a figment of her imagination?  There were times I was frustrated with how she behaved and one character (who was dismissive of everything Alex tried to explain) made me “pure raging” at several times during the book. I don’t always get that emotional involvement with characters so this is a definite plus for Don’t Wake Up.

Remember all those books demanding my attention?  Well they were all ignored while I read Don’t Wake Up. It was sufficiently nasty in places, had some good twists which I did not see coming and I realised that I had to find out what was going to happen to Alex.  Well worth hunting this one down – there’s a link below so you won’t need to look too hard.

 

Don’t Wake Up is published by Bonnier and is available now in digital format – paperback shall follow later in the year. You can get a copy here: https://www.amazon.co.uk/Dont-Wake-Up-terrifying-thriller-ebook/dp/B01NBFD4YR/ref=asap_bc?ie=UTF8

Dont Wake Up Blog Tour Poster[2819]

Category: Blog Tours, From The Bookshelf | Comments Off on Don’t Wake Up – Liz Lawler
May 8

Blackwater – GJ Moffat

BlackwaterDeputy Sheriff Early Simms of the Blackwater County Sheriff’s Department knows about the violence that incubates within the souls of men – and that sometimes it needs a release.  As a high school football player he relished inflicting pain, until he made a tackle that left a promising young athlete dead from a broken neck.  Early did not play another game and his dreams of leaving the small town that he grew up in never materialised.  Instead, he followed his father into the town’s police force.

Now older, Early is outwardly content with the life he has made for himself in Blackwater.  But that life is about to be turned upside down.  Kate Foley, his high school girlfriend, arrives in town on the run from an abusive husband and it stirs feelings that Early thought he had forgotten.

Jimmy and Marshall Cain are brothers – men with the capacity for the kind of violence that Early Simms knows all too well.  A botched home invasion by the brothers goes horribly wrong, leaving a man and woman dead and their teenage daughter kidnapped.
Events spiral further out of control, with the brothers embarking on a killing spree that leads them to a confrontation with Early Simms and an FBI task force.  At the same time, Kate Foley’s husband is armed and on the hunt for his wife.

Early is about to find himself in a fight not just for the life he has known, but for the future he has glimpsed in stolen moments with Kate. And to defeat the maelstrom hurtling towards him, he must once again confront the violence in his own soul.

 

My thanks to Chris at Fahrenheit Press for letting me have a very early chance to read Blackwater

If a story is going to grip me then one of the best ways to do it is to have a lead character that I want to read about. Blackwater has Early Simms – he is a Deputy in the Blackwater Sheriff’s Department and he is exactly the kind of character that I want to read about. Early can outsmart the bad guys, take down the brawlers and he is comfortable and respected in his hometown of Blackwater. He is the character you hope will appear in many more books.

As I got to read Blackwater very early I didn’t know what to expect before I started reading.  I had reached the half way point (and just come up for air for the first time) when I noticed GJ Moffat had tweeted a response to a blogger question “What is the book about?”  His reply:  A good man. Some very bad men. A love story. A crime story. Basically, it rocks.

He nailed it.  Especially “it rocks”.

The good man is Early. A tragic incident which occurred while he was at school changed his life forever and he now seems to be trying to ensure that the overwhelming perception that others will have of him is that he is a good man.

The “very bad men” are truly bad people. Two brothers will lose control of a situation that will spiral into a manhunt which draws in the police and FBI. They are without compassion and their crimes were shocking (but they made for compelling reading).  It should be noted that the brothers may not be the only bad men. If there *were* to be others then I couldn’t possibly discuss them in a review as that would be creeping into SPOILERS territory. I don’t do that. But I would suggest that reading Blackwater would let you find out for yourself about the other bad people that I cannot discuss!

Next up “the love story”. Yes indeed and here is where I can laud the author for brilliant characters and great story pacing. This is an action packed thriller but GJ Moffat still manages to give his cast a proper backstory and lets them develop and grow while the action is unfolding around them.

The “crime story”…well I refer to the brothers again and also to those unmentionable spoilers.  There is a lot going on in Blackwater but the different story threads are woven together will real skill by the author. I read with increasing anticipation as events started to build towards their climax and I was wholly unprepared for the unexpected twists.

Blackwater is a book which will suck you in and is a richly rewarding read. I absolutely loved it and has left me with that dreaded book hangover feeling…where you know the next book you pick up will not be as good as the one you have just finished. Highly, highly recommended – Mr Moffat can tell a great story. 5 stars all the way.

 

Blackwater is published by Fahrenheit Press and is due to release week commencing 8th May.

Category: 5* Reviews, From The Bookshelf | Comments Off on Blackwater – GJ Moffat