November 27

Follow Me – Angela Clarke


The ‘Hashtag Murderer’ posts chilling cryptic clues online, pointing to their next target. Taunting the police. Enthralling the press. Capturing the public’s imagination.

But this is no virtual threat.

As the number of his followers rises, so does the body count.

Eight years ago two young girls did something unforgivable. Now ambitious police officer Nasreen and investigative journalist Freddie are thrown together again in a desperate struggle to catch this cunning, fame-crazed killer. But can they stay one step ahead of him? And can they escape their own past?

Time’s running out. Everyone is following the #Murderer. But what if he is following you?



My thanks to Avon Books for my review copy.

Having already read and enjoyed two Twitter/Social Media murder stories earlier this year (Haterz and DM For Murder) I was keen to read another murder story that turned Twitter into the playground of a killer.

Freddie has aspirations to be a journalist but her regular weekly column is not paying her well so she is having to work for a coffee chain to ensure she can eat. One morning she spots an old friend from school, Nasreen.  Freddie knows that Nasreen has joined the police and when it appears Nasreen is on her way to a crime scene Freddie decides to follow her.

On arriving at a murder scene Freddie manages to slip through the police cordon and gets into the room beside the body – only to be recognised by Nasreen. Though Nasreen tries to cover for her old friend Freddie is facing potential criminal charges. Only by providing some expert knowledge at a critical time (an adept knowledge of Twitter) is Freddie able to avoid prosecution. However, the trade-off is that she has to assist the police and make use of her media skills as it seems the murder victim may have known his killer through Twitter.

What follows next is a clever murder story whereby Freddie helps the police to track a killer through Twitter. A killer that seems intent to taunt Freddie and the police by leaving clues as to who the next victim may be.  As all the clues are revealed via open tweets the public and media are all over the messages and, as you may expect, there are jokers and armchair detectives also trying to decipher the clues and mock potential victims. All very amusing…until the next body is found.

In addition to the ongoing murder story we also have Freddie and Nasreen re-united for the first time in years. The friends have not seen each other since school  and the suggestion is that something in their past drove the two apart – their friendship is explored through the story and the deeper we get into their past the more we look to learn about what may have happened to end their friendship. Freddie is keen to build bridges, Nasreen wants to keep Freddie at arms length lest she ruins her professional reputation (Freddie is somewhat of a liability).

The two stories combine well and build into a dramatic finale which will keep readers frantically flicking the pages.

I have read lots of reviews from fellow bloggers who have loved Follow Me and I suspect it will do really well on release (I really hope it does).  Personally, however, it just did not click for me.  I struggled to like the main characters, Freddie’s usefulness to the police required a fair amount of ‘just go with it’ acceptance and something that arose near the end of the book left me flicking back through the pages to see what I had missed (but to avoid spoilers I cannot share that part).

Last year a novel called Station 11 received rave reviews and seemed universally enjoyed by all that read it. Except me.  This year it looks like I will be in the minority for Follow Me – I can see why everyone is loving it but I am afraid it just didn’t resonate with me.


Follow Me is published by Avon Books and is available on Kindle from 3rd December 2015 and in paperback from December 31st.



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November 26

After You Die – Eva Dolan

After You DieDawn Prentice was already known to the Peterborough Hate Crimes Unit.

The previous summer she had logged a number of calls detailing the harassment she and her severely disabled teenage daughter were undergoing. Now she is dead – stabbed to death whilst Holly Prentice has been left to starve upstairs. DS Ferreira, only recently back serving on the force after being severely injured in the line of duty, had met with Dawn that summer. Was she negligent in not taking Dawn’s accusations more seriously? Did the murderer even know that Holly was helpless upstairs while her mother bled to death?

Whilst Ferreira battles her demons, determined to prove she’s up to the frontline, DI Zigic is drawn into conflict with an official seemingly resolved to hide the truth about one of his main suspects. Can either officer unpick the truth about mother and daughter, and bring their killer to justice?


My thanks to Eva and Harvill Secker for my review copy.

First up the housekeeping.  After You Die is the third Zigic and Ferreira book, I have not read the first two (sorry Eva) I most certainly will be reading them soon though as After You Die was my kind of page-turner!  Having not read the previous novel (Tell No Tales) I found that there were some minor spoilers as to events that preceded After You Die, nothing which impacted on my enjoyment of After You Die but if you read out of sequence like I did… *spoilers*

Dawn Prentice was brutally murdered. Her daughter Holly was in the house at the time but her severe disability meant that she was unable to call for assistance. While Dawn’s body lies undiscovered Holly is running out of time for someone to come to her rescue – a chilling and horrific premise as Holly is fully aware that something has happened to her mother and that help is seemingly not coming.

Ferreira is returning to work after a prolonged recovery from an injury.  She is keen to return to active duty as quickly as possible yet Zigic has some concerns that she may not be fully ready.  Dawn Prentice was known to Ferreira – they had previously met when Dawn reported that she was a victim of harassment, Ferreira is now concerned that she may not have done enough for Dawn at the time.

Zigic is chasing down a potential suspect, someone that is seemingly enjoying an unexpected level of protection from another official body – one which carries more clout with Zigic’s boss than Zigic can work around.

Frustrated by their collective lack of progress Zigic and Ferreira get drawn deeper into the family lives of Dawn and Holly and a brilliant domestic thriller comes to the fore. Very much focused upon the personal lives of the key players this is a tightly plotted and very slick story from Eva Dolan. The characters were brilliantly realised, their stories compelling and I needed to know the mystery behind Zigic’s elusive suspect who seemed to hold the key that would unlock all the secrets.

I really enjoyed After You Die, it explored some dark areas tackling them full-on and in unflinching style. I like when a story does not sugar coat sensitive issues for the readers and kudos to any author who will take on these themes.

After You Die is due out early in the New Year – one to watch for as missing this would be a crime.  I tend not to ‘score’ the majority of my reviews but I do like to flag titles I will rank at 5/5 – After You Die joins that small band of my top rated reads.


After You Die is published by Harvill Secker and will be available from 21st January 2016 in hardback and digital format.



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November 23

The Kind Worth Killing – Peter Swanson

A Kind Worth Killing‘Hello there.’
I looked at the pale, freckled hand on the back of the empty bar seat next to me in the business class lounge of Heathrow airport, then up into the stranger’s face.
‘Do I know you?’

Delayed in London, Ted Severson meets a woman at the airport bar. Over cocktails they tell each other rather more than they should, and a dark plan is hatched – but are either of them being serious, could they actually go through with it and, if they did, what would be their chances of getting away with it?

Back in Boston, Ted’s wife Miranda is busy site managing the construction of their dream home, a beautiful house out on the Maine coastline. But what secrets is she carrying and to what lengths might she go to protect the vision she has of her deserved future?

A sublimely plotted novel of trust and betrayal, The Kind Worth Killing will keep you gripped and guessing late into the night.


My thanks to Sophie at Faber & Faber for my review copy


Can I just write ‘WOW’ and leave it at that?  The Kind Worth Killing is a WOW book, it just keeps giving – shocks, twists and that wonderful ‘one more chapter’ element that only the very best of reads can deliver.

Ted Severson meets a woman just before he boards a plane, they get chatting and (under the influence of too much booze) Ted shares too much of his personal worries with this stranger. However rather than this being the end of their acquaintance the couple find themselves sat next to each other on the flight and a plan is hatched that could solve all of Ted’s problems.

Meanwhile Ted’s wife, Miranda, is living the dream, she has snagged a rich husband, is overseeing the redevelopment of a gorgeous house and may just fight tooth and claw to protect her idyllic lifestyle.

If Ted’s problem is Miranda can he make his problem ‘go away’?  For Miranda – can she find a way to hang on to all that she holds dear (even if this does not necessarily include Ted)?

A brilliant clash of strong personalities lies ahead. Evil minds will plot and only the most devious will prevail. The police will become involved but such is the duplicity on show that they are clueless and scrabbling around in the dark – they know something is amiss but have no leads to pursue!

In 2014 Sarah Hilary delivered my ‘jaw drop’ moment in Someone Else’s Skin.  For 2015 my ‘jaw drop’ accolade goes to Peter Swanson – one scene in The Kind Worth Killing was just so unexpected that I was totally unprepared for what I was reading (and I honestly had no idea where the story was going to head from that point onwards). Once I had recovered from that shock I was so psyched at what I had just read that I was compelled to keep reading, long into the night. I just HAD to know what was going to happen next.

The Kind Worth Killing has more twists than Chubby Checker on a helter-skelter!  It is a dream to read and is without any doubt one of the best books I have read for a long, long time.

I am not going to recommend you read The Kind Worth Killing – I am going to tell you that you HAVE to read it!  A 5/5 review score goes without saying.  Except I did say it (for clarity).


The Kind Worth Killing is published by Faber & Faber and is available in paperback and digital formats:



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November 20

The Masked City – Genevieve Cogman

The Masked CityLibrarian-spy Irene is working undercover in an alternative London when her assistant Kai goes missing. She discovers he’s been kidnapped by the fae faction and the repercussions could be fatal. Not just for Kai, but for whole worlds.

Kai’s dragon heritage means he has powerful allies, but also powerful enemies in the form of the fae. With this act of aggression, the fae are determined to trigger a war between their people – and the forces of order and chaos themselves.

Irene’s mission to save Kai and avert Armageddon will take her to a dark, alternate Venice where it’s always Carnival. Here Irene will be forced to blackmail, fast talk, and fight. Or face death

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

The Masked City is the second book from Genevieve Cogman that follows the story of Irene, professional spy and agent of the mysterious Library. Agents of the Library are tasked with recovering books from across a wealth of worlds where order or chaos may prevail and dragons and the fantastical fae are opposing and ruling forces. The worlds that Irene visits are strange corruptions of our own such as highly advanced technological worlds or a steam-punk variant with Victorian undercurrents. Being able to drop her characters into a world that can be manipulated into anything she needs gives Genevieve Cogman so much scope – and I am loving how she uses this freedom.

In The Masked City Irene finds herself on another retrieval mission only this time it is not for a book, her assistant Kai has been kidnapped by the Fae and Irene is trying to bring him home.  As Kai is a Dragon it will have taken an extraordinarily strong Fae to overcome Kai and keeping him captive will need strong Fae magic – will Irene have the skills to rescue her friend?

Irene learns that Kai is being held in a world deeply rooted in chaos – too chaotic for Kai’s dragon family to pursue him without their presence being deemed an act of war. The Library officially stands neutral between order and chaos and will not help Irene nor can they sanction a rescue mission – Irene is on her own and needs to come up with a plan quickly!

The Masked City is a fantastically fun read. Irene has to travel from London to Venice (in a chaotic variant of the world we recognise). She needs to work undercover, be heavily disguised and cannot let her alliance to the Library be known. On arriving in Venice (The Masked City) she will need to track down Kai, rescue him and get him to safety before they can be detected. Unfortunately for Irene she is up against some formidable opponents and it is not long before her plans start to unravel. She faces constant danger and has to make full use of her training and intuition to stand any chance of surviving – successfully completing a rescue mission seems increasingly unlikely as the story progresses.

This is a series I want to see run and run. Genevieve Cogman is building a fantastic world with infinite possibilities and Irene is a feisty and engaging lead character who is not above making mistakes and is all too aware of her own limitations.  The characters are nicely balanced with mysterious and enigmatic foes, courageous and strong allies all playing a political power game against each other.

Building on the foundations established in The Invisible Library, readers are in for an absolute treat with The Masked City. A five star delight from Genevieve Cogman, and I am already looking forward to my next visit to the Library.


The Masked City is published in paperback and digital formats by Pan Macmillan on 3rd December 2015.


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November 16

Blood Axe – Q&A with Leigh Russell

Today I am delighted to be able to welcome Leigh Russell to Grab This Book. I  was introduced to Leigh’s work last year when I read Race to Death a great murder mystery which featured DI Ian Peterson who also takes the lead in Leigh’s new book: Blood Axe.  I was thrilled to be offered the chance to join the Blood Axe blog tour and I was delighted that Leigh agreed to take time to answer a few of my questions.


Can you tell us a little about Blood Axe?

Blood Axe features perhaps one of my simplest and yet most mysterious killers so far. It’s difficult to say too much without risking spoilers, so I think all I can say is, please read the book and find out… In Blood Axe, Ian Peterson has his work cut out trying to trace a very elusive killer while, at the same time, coping with the threatened break down of his marriage.

Blood AxeBlood Axe is the third book to feature DI Ian Peterson as the lead character yet readers may still primarily associate you with the Geraldine Steel novels. Why did you decide to give Peterson a chance to run solo rather than create a new detective team from scratch?

When Geraldine Steel moves to London, leaving her sergeant behind, they keep in touch. Ian Peterson appears briefly in her following books. So when the Geraldine Steel series became popular, and my publisher was talking about my writing a second series, a spin off series for Ian Peterson seemed like a good idea.  It has been a challenge to develop the two characters and have them  interact across the two series, at the same time making sure each book also works as a stand alone for readers who chance upon any of them. After what happens to Ian Peterson in Blood Axe, there are plenty of interesting possibilities for his future, but I don’t want to include any spoilers here!

Do you begin a new book by deciding that you are going to write a Geraldine Steel or Ian Peterson story or does the plot idea come first and you work out which character is the ‘best fit’ for the lead?

The process starts with my schedule, and which series I need to write for next. If I have to deliver a manuscript for Geraldine Steel in six months’ time, I can’t become engrossed in a story set in York.  Recently I  signed a three book deal with Thomas and Mercer, as well as accepting another three book deal for No Exit Press. With the new Lucy Hall series to write, I have decided to focus on Geraldine Steel and the Ian Peterson series is going to lapse for a while. But he is not going to disappear as a character, so you can speculate about what is going to happen next, which is what I’m doing right now.

As Blood Axe draws upon on the history of York, and features one of the main tourist attractions in the city, I imagine that Blood Axe was always going to be a Peterson book?

Yes, the inspiration for Blood Axe came to me while I was on a visit to York. By chance the British Museum was hosting a major exhibition, with lectures, about the Vikings, giving me access to some of the world experts on Viking culture and civilisation. The exhibition and lectures were fascinating, and the experts were incredibly helpful, as I was keen to make sure my Viking’s thoughts and beliefs were as authentic as possible.

Why did you choose York for Peterson’s stories?

I wanted him to move to a town or city that was a long way from Kent, where his wife’s family live. He has connections with the area, as he was born there. But the most important reason was that I love York, and setting the Ian Peterson series there means I can go there regularly on research trips. I’ll be back there in November for book signings, and back again in March when I’ll be talking at York Literature Festival about why I set my series in York.

I always like to ask this:  Why do readers love serial killer stories given how horrific the concept is in reality?

True crime is a popular  genre, and I understand its appeal, but I don’t like reading about real crimes. I find it too upsetting. Yet somehow, in fiction, crime becomes a form of entertainment. I think there are several reasons for the appeal of serial killers. Crime fiction is, basically, goodies and baddies. The more evil the villain is, the more desperate readers are to see the killer brought to justice. So serial killers make for tense reading. They can also be interesting characters, and I am always fascinated by my killers. A review in Crime Time wrote that ‘Russell takes the reader into the darkest recesses of the human psyche’. I’m not sure how I get there, but it’s all fiction!

On a more personal level, what do you enjoy reading? Who do you consider to be your favourite authors?

 My taste in reading is fairly eclectic. I was fortunate enough to spend four years studying English Literature at university, which meant that I basically spent four years reading. I really can’t pick out favourite authors, but a few I particularly like are Harper Lee, John Steinbeck, Mary Shelley, Dickens, Jeffery Deaver, Edith Wharton, Kazuo Ishiguru, Frances Fyfield, Lee Child, Simin Beckett… there are hundreds more… it’s a bit of a mixture!

leigh_russellWhen do you find time to write and do you have a writing habit or routine?

I am so busy at the moment, with a new book just out, that is quite difficult to find time to write. That said, I have no set routine, and am rarely free to spend a whole day at home focusing solely on writing. There is always something going on, meetings with my publishers, book signings, library talks, literary festivals, interviews, research, apart from everything else in life… When I can spend a day at home, I usually stay in bed until late morning, answering emails and planning my writing for the day… with a little procrastination on social media thrown in… After that, I move into my study and settle down to write. Truthfully, it doesn’t really matter to me where I am as I write in bed, at my desk, in the car (not when I’m driving!), on the train, in cafes. I never leave the house without my ipad. The final edited manuscript for the first book in my new Lucy Hall series, Journey to Death, was emailed from a beach in the Seychelles where I had gone on a research trip. With the Internet, you really can write anywhere in the world.

Are you a meticulous plotter, do you sit down and prepare exactly how the story will unfold before you start to write?

I try to plot my books carefully in advance, but my ideas don’t always work out. The overall shape of the book is in my head before I start, what Lee Child calls his “five second elevator pitch”, but writing books is an organic process for me. If is much more fun to write and see what happens. Sometimes it works out on the first attempt. With more books to write, I am having to work to tighter deadlines with less time for revising and reworking, so I might have to be more meticulous at the planning stage.

When not writing how do you enjoy spending your downtime?

I haven’t had any down time for about six years, but I enjoy what I do and think myself lucky to be able to write full time.

Finally, can you give us any clues as to what we can hope to see in your next book?

I’m just planning the ninth Geraldine Steel novel. There may be some surprising revelations about Geraldine’s family that lead her to question herself and the kind of person she is. Oh, and there’s a murder fairly early on…


My thanks to Leigh.

Blood Axe is published by No Exit Press and is available in paperback and digital formats here:

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November 16

Blood Axe (DI Ian Peterson 3) – Leigh Russell

Blood AxeSilently dipping his oars in the water he made his escape. It was a weary journey, with few spoils to show for it. Next time he would do better. He looked back over his shoulder. The bridge had disappeared, swallowed up by the darkness. From its walkway he too had become invisible. Only the bloody body of a woman showed he had been roaming the streets that night.

D.I. Ian Peterson investigates a series of gruesome and brutal axe murders in York. As the body count mounts, the case demands all Ian’s ingenuity, because this is a killer who leaves no clues.


My thanks to No Exit Press for my review copy.

DI Ian Peterson returns in Blood Axe, the new thriller from Leigh Russell. Having enjoyed his previous outing (Race to Death) where Peterson and his wife were put through serious trials as the hunt for a murderer unfolded I was keen to see what lay ahead. Suffice to say I was not prepared for an adversary like the ‘Hunter’ that appears in Blood Axe.

I am always keen to avoid spoilers but as the book description (above) refers to ‘a series of brutal axe murders’ I am on reasonably safe ground to discuss a little bit about the murders in Blood Axe. An axe wielding killer is stalking his prey around the city streets, his victims appear random and robbery does not appear to be a motive as money is not taken from a victim’s purse. But the nature of the killings gives the police some major cause for concern – axe attacks are brutal and bloody and this killer seems to have no qualms about unleashing murderous fury on his victims.

With no real leads or clues to pursue the pressure soon descends upon the investigative team, headed up by DI Ian Peterson. We see how Peterson handles working with a younger colleague who he feels is not as committed to the job as Peterson was himself. Added friction is raised when allegations made by a young witness seem unlikely to Peterson but his colleague is more inclined to take the allegations on good faith. Conflict within the investigative team and also for Peterson further problems are arising at home as his wife struggles to adapt to life in York and becomes increasingly frustrated by Peterson’s long working days.

I believe that the success of an ongoing series depends upon a strong supporting cast to back-up the lead character and Leigh Russell is developing exactly that. The interplay between the police characters shows how they struggle to maintain morale when faced with an investigation which seems to be going nowhere. In Blood Axe we also get to ‘ride along’ with the killer as he stalks his next victim, we get an insight into the thought process of the hunt and it is a disturbing distorted reality we see.

I actually visited York a few weeks ago and this added an extra level of enjoyment to my reading of Blood Axe. I could clearly imagine the narrow York streets that the Hunter crept down as he stalked his prey, Leigh Russell captures the feeling of the city brilliantly and it let me immerse myself into the story.

Blood Axe is an entertaining murder mystery with a twist that few will see coming. Fans of Leigh’s previous books will be pleased with a cameo from Peterson’s old boss Geraldine Steel. New readers have an atmospheric read to enjoy and a cast of characters you will want to read more of.


Blood Axe is published by No Exit Press and is available in paperback and digital formats now.



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November 15

Warren the Xiiith (Warren the 13th): The All Seeing Eye – Tania Del Rio

Warren 13thMeet Warren the 13th, a cursed twelve-year-old Victorian bellhop who’s terribly unlucky, yet perpetually optimistic, hard-working, and curious. Warren’s pride and joy is his family’s Warren Hotel, but he’s been miserable ever since his evil Aunt Anaconda took over the management. Anaconda believes a mysterious treasure known as The All-Seeing Eye is hidden somewhere in the walls of the hotel, and she’ll do anything to find it. If Warren wants to preserve his family’s legacy, he’ll need to find the treasure first – if the hotel’s many strange and wacky guests don’t beat him to it!

Our review copy came from Publishers Group UK (PGUK).


We are a very book oriented family, my boys were read to from a very young age and their love of books has grown as they get older. My eldest son is now 9 and is glued to his books and comics at every opportunity he gets.  Recently he had the opportunity to read Tania Del Rio’s forthcoming book Warren the 13th – he devoured it over the course of a couple of nights and has been picking it up on a regular basis to revisit the story.

I have had a look through the book too and it is gorgeous to look at – filled with beautiful artwork which compliments the story and there is a hidden message to find too (a challenge my son is not prepared to give up on).

I asked my son to tell me a little about the story…

Warren 13th is about a boy who runs and lives in a hotel.  His mean uncle recently married a witch (Aunt Anaconda) who has two sisters – they are all members of the Triangle Coven…they are the nasty baddies“.

While Warren is in the garden he stumbles upon a journal which belonged to one of his ancestors (Warren 2nd). “A peculiar page explains about a mysterious object called the All Seeing Eye – a cryptic poem tells how the All Seeing Eye can grant power across the land but could also be used to destroy the hotel“.  I clarified that the hotel is Warren’s home, and his legacy, so he cannot allow the All Seeing Eye to fall into someone else’s hands. Unfortunately the Triangle Coven also want the All Seeing Eye so Warren will have a fight on his hands.

I asked him to tell me what kind of story it was…”funny, adventurous, surprising and action packed“.  He has taken the book into school to show his friends and the other bookworms in his class are asking how they can get a copy too.  Although we get through a fair number of books in our house it is not often that a story catches his imagination quite in the way that Warren 13th has done. As a parent I would highly recommend this book, I measure the reading enjoyment by how much my kids talk about a book, how often they ask to read it and whether they bring me the book to share their favourite bits.  Warren 13th ticked all the boxes and he was genuinely disappointed when he finished it – a second read through is looking likely.


Warren 13th will be published on 24th November by Quirk Books.

Copies can be pre-ordered here:

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November 11

Fishbowl – Bradley Somer

FishbowlEven a goldfish can dream of adventure…

From his enviable view from a balcony on the 27th floor of an apartment block, Ian the Goldfish has frequent – if fleeting – desires for a more exciting life. Until one day, a series of unfortunate events gives him an opportunity to escape…

Our story begins, however, with the human inhabitants of Ian’s building. There is the handsome student, his girlfriend, and his mistress; an agoraphobic sex worker, the invisible caretaker; the pregnant woman on bed rest; and the home-schooled boy, Herman, who thinks he can travel through time.

And as Ian tumbles perilously downwards, he will witness all their lives, loves, triumphs and disasters…


My thanks to Ebury Press for my review copy which I received through Netgalley.

Ian is a goldfish – he is not having the best of days as he has just been knocked from his safe perch on the balcony of the 27th floor of an apartment block. As Ian plummets to the ground he gets a very brief adventure as he whizzes past the windows of the apartments below, spotting some of the occupants as he falls.

If we were just to follow Ian then Fishbowl would be a very short read. Fortunately for the reader there are many more interesting lives to read about as the apartment block that Ian lives (lived?) in is full of fascinating characters. We read about Connor – Ian’s owner – who has been cheating on his girlfriend and is frantically trying to kick his mistress out of his flat while his girlfriend makes her way up to visit him.  The lift is out and Connor is on the 27th floor so this will buy him some time, during his state of panic Connor re-evaluates some of his life choices.  As does his girlfriend who is hauling up the 27 floors and questioning whether she and Connor have a future.

We read the tragic story of an agoraphobic, Claire. She can  no longer face being outside her apartment but has developed a coping mechanism for having her groceries delivered and ordering everything she needs online. She works as a telephone sex worker, the perfect career for someone that does not want to leave her apartment – steady money and a regular client base. But for Claire there are challenges ahead which will test her resolve to the limit and push her to face her fears.

Jimenez is the building maintenance man – he has been asked to repair the lift (again).  If he can patch up the antiquated mechanism it will save his employers the cost of calling out an official engineer. Not that Jimenez will be thanked for his endeavours, it is expected that he will jump through the hoops despite any reservations he may have about his ability to repair the lift.

There is home-schooled Herman, learning from his grandfather. Pregnant Petunia Delilah who is hoping to have an uncomplicated home-birth and flashing past all their lives is Ian the goldfish on his plummet to the pavement.

Fishbowl is a clever collection of stories about people’s lives. The link is the apartment building and a small fish accelerating towards a pavement (a pavement of which he is blissfully unaware). This really is a great example of how people make a story.

Personally I struggled with Fishbowl. I do not read short stories so the brief look into all these different lives felt too much like a collection of loosely connected tales. That said, I recognise how clever Fishbowl was and Bradley Somer weaves these lives together with real skill. Not for me, but I would still recommend it to readers that enjoy reading about interesting lives.


Fishbowl is currently available in Hardback and digital formats from Ebury Press.



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November 10

The Lobster Boy and the Fat Lady’s Daughter – Charles Kriel

Lobster BoyRogue military cop Melanie Barry is a detective like no other and when her step-father is arrested and framed for murder, Mel is his only hope.

Mel pursues a heartless killer through the darkest heart of the gothic South, only to discover the mysteries of her own shadowy past revealed in blood.

Set on the carnival lot of a South Georgia tobacco town, The Lobster Boy And The Fat Lady’s Daughter is a wild Lynch-ian ride through a world that few people have ever experienced.


Before I cover the book I need to comment on how Fahrenheit Press brought it to my attention – by telling me absolutely nothing about it! I was lured in by the promise of mystery and the chance to support something new and different. Fahrenheit managed to persuade Amazon to put their book up for sale with no title announce, no author named and no description of what the book was about – other than it was a crime novel.  The pitch was ‘trust us and we will give you a great book’.  The ultimate mystery story!  Gotta love someone trying something different so I signed up as an early adopter (as a result I got a nice name check in the book too – along with a fair few of my fellow bloggers).

So what the Hell did I buy?

Well it turned out to be a ripper of a read. A murder story with more than a few exciting action scenes, plot twists and intrigue plus some of the most memorable characters I have read in any book for a long time.

Melanie (Mel) Barry grew up amongst the carnival people – raised by the Lobster Boy and the Fat Lady and surrounded by performers, acrobats, ‘freaks’ and mermaids. The Carnival folk wanted a life away from authorities and the anonymity that the carnival could provide them – Mel bucked that trend by becoming a military cop. She is smart, skilled and tough as nails but she is also on the run, AWOL from the army and keeping a very low profile.

A murder of a prominent townsperson at the Carnival leads to the arrest of Mel’s father – Lobster Boy (Charlie). Mel returns to the carnival to investigate and quickly establishes that it would have been physically impossible for Charlie to have committed the murder. But in this town there is a very close network of prominent businessmen running the show and although Charlie’s carnival has provided them with some very pleasant distractions in the past – this time around Charlie is not receiving any preferential treatment.

Mel’s investigation soon leads her into direct confrontation with the cabal running the town but also throws up some figures from her past, not every familiar face brings a happy memory. As the investigation progresses Mel finds herself in increasing danger – siding with a local lawyer and one of the acrobats from the carnival the trio face down threats and attacks in a series of exhilarating action sequences.

The Lobster Boy and the Fat Lady’s Daughter was a refreshing and highly entertaining read and Kreil captures the essence of carnival life better than any story I have read in the past. Mel is a kickass action hero and I hope this is a character I can read about in future. May be too quirky for the more conventional reader but this is a book you would be foolish to overlook.


The Lobster Boy and the Fat Lady’s Daughter  is published by Fahrenheit Press and is available now in digital format

Category: From The Bookshelf | Comments Off on The Lobster Boy and the Fat Lady’s Daughter – Charles Kriel
November 5

Lost Girls – Angela Marsons

Lost GirlsTwo girls go missing. Only one will return.

The couple that offers the highest amount will see their daughter again. The losing couple will not. Make no mistake. One child will die.

When nine-year-old best friends Charlie and Amy disappear, two families are plunged into a living nightmare. A text message confirms the unthinkable; that the girls are the victims of a terrifying kidnapping.

And when a second text message pits the two families against each other for the life of their children, the clock starts ticking for D.I. Kim Stone and the squad.

Seemingly outwitted at every turn, as they uncover a trail of bodies, Stone realises that these ruthless killers might be the most deadly she has ever faced. And that their chances of bringing the girls home alive, are getting smaller by the hour…

Untangling a dark web of secrets from the families’ past might hold the key to solving this case. But can Kim stay alive long enough to do so? Or will someone’s child pay the ultimate price?


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

Back in March I reviewed the debut appearance of DI Kim Stone in Angela Marson’s Silent Scream, I really enjoyed it. Then in late June I reviewed Evil Games  (the second in the series) and it blew me away – a really gripping thriller.  Now it is early November and I get to review the 3rd Kim Stone novel: Lost Girls. I may need to break out my thesaurus to find some new superlatives I can use in my review.

Lost Girls is stunning. A majestic race against time for DI Kim Stone to recover two kidnapped girls. But the twist is that the kidnappers are only interested in returning one of the girls and are playing the parents off against each other to see who will pay the most to recover their child.  Nasty and brutally effective – the emotion Angela Marsons generates between the families makes for compelling reading and Stone is caught in the middle.

The reader gets to see the investigation into recovering the girls but also we follow the kidnappers and experience the trauma of the girls too. The shifting viewpoint really emphasises the enormity of the task facing the police. We share the fear of the victims, the hopeless and angry tension of the families and we see the stone cold evil from the kidnappers – one of whom is delighting in the possibility of harming the children. A comprehensive overview of the whole story and it works splendidly, you cannot help yourself from being hooked by this thriller.

A double kidnapping is more than Stone can be expected to co-ordinate on her own and good use is made of Stone’s squad. I enjoy seeing the return of these characters and I always feel that the supporting cast in any series needs to be believable and enjoyable to keep me returning book after book. Added to the existing team members are external specialists in hostage/kidnap scenarios and these new faces cause Stone some additional issues to contend with – she is not a woman who enjoys being out of her comfort zone and this case is really stretching her to her limits.  Factor in the additional pressure from the police chiefs and the need to maintain a press black-out (while a local journalist is snooping around determined to score points off Stone) and you have all the key ingredients for a tense thriller.

Lost Girls was an amazing read, I read the final chapters with a racing heart as the endgame played out. There were twists and shocks right up to the very end and it is hard to think of any other books this year which have held my attention as much as this one did. Lost Girls easily scoops a five star score from me – loved it, didn’t want it to end.

Angela Marson’s DI Kim Stone books are essential reading for any crime fiction fan. For Angela Marsons to have produced three top quality novels in a single year is a phenomenal achievement, a quality writer on stunning form. I am already looking forward to seeing what the future may bring when the next Kim Stone novel is due, hopefully there will not be too long to wait.


Lost Girls is published by Bookouture and is available from 6th November.

Follow Angela Marsons on Twitter at : @WriteAngie

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