December 14

Books For Christmas Gifts 2015

With Christmas approaching I am already preparing to receive no books from Santa.  Nobody will give me a book for Christmas (or my birthday) as they just do not know what I have read. I drop unsubtle hints but to no avail!

As this is likely a common problem in many households I have compiled a recommendation of some wonderful books which would make lovely Christmas gifts. These are not titles that (in the main) you will find on the shelves of your local supermarket but they should not be overlooked. I would hope that your local bookshop would have some (or all) of these – and obviously they are all available on line.


Doctor Who Impossible WorldsDoctor Who Impossible Worlds – Stephen Nicholas and Mike Tucker

From distant galaxies in the far-flung future, to ancient history on the planet Earth, Doctor Who is unique for the breadth of possibilities that it can offer a designer. For the first time in history, the Doctor Who Art Department are opening their doors to reveal a unique, behind-the-scenes look at one of the most loved series on British Television. Whether it’s iconic sets like the TARDIS console room, recurring villains like the Daleks or the Cybermen, or the smallest hand prop featured in the briefest of scenes, this book showcases the work of the Doctor Who art department in glorious detail. Discover how the designers work with the costume, make-up and special effects teams to produce the alien worlds, and how the work has evolved from the programme’s ‘classic’ era to the panoramic alien worlds and technologies that delight audiences today. Featuring hundreds of models, sketches, storyboards and concept artworks, many never-before-seen, Doctor Who: Impossible Worlds opens the doors to 50 years of astonishing creative work from one of the most inventive shows on television.


Ten years ago Doctor Who returned to our screens and has delighted fans young and old ever since.  BBC Books have released this beautiful collection of images, sketches, designs and storyboards from behind the scenes of the shows. It is a stunning collection and would make a fantastic gift for a Doctor Who fan. Printed on high quality paper with extra art cards provided in a hidden sleeve this is a seriously beautiful book which is crammed with information on design techniques and processes.

I have been reading and collecting Doctor Who books for well over 30 years and I cannot think of any title which comes close to matching Impossible Worlds for that initial ‘Wow’ Factor I had when I first picked up my copy.


You can buy Impossible Worlds Here:


Illicit SpiritsRebellious Spirits: The Illicit History of Booze in Britain – Ruth Ball

A delicious history of the secret, exciting and often dangerous world of illicit spirits

For as long as spirits have existed, there has been someone doing something really naughty with them: selling gin through pipes in a London back alley; standing guard on a Cornish clifftop waiting for a smuggler’s signal; or dodging bombs and shrapnel running whisky in the Blitz. It is a history that is thrilling, utterly fascinating and uniquely British.

Packed full of historical recipes, from Milk Punch to a Wartime Martini, along with cocktails from contemporary bartenders, Rebellious Spirits is a treasure trove for the curious drinker.

 From the gin dispensed from a cat’s paw at the Puss and Mew shop which could have been the world’s first vending machine, to whole funeral cortèges staged just to move a coffin filled with whisky, the stories show off all the wonderful wit and ingenuity required to stay one drink ahead of the law. The accompanying recipes are just as intriguing: How did we drink gin before tonic? Was punch really made with curdled milk? Or breakfast served with brandy porridge, and gin mixed into hot ale? What did the past really taste like?

As soon as I saw this book I thought of half a dozen of my friends that would enjoy reading it.  I also thought it would be ideal as a Secret Santa gift for a friend or colleague that is known to enjoy a tipple or two.  Ruth Ball has done a magnificent job of bringing together anecdotes, recipes and historical facts and making them entertaining and fascinating to read.

The book makes for very easy and engaging reading. Nicely presented and written in very accessible sections the history of British booze is a fun title which I found could be read in both a longer sitting and or in small ‘quick page or two’ stolen moments of reading time.

You can buy Rebellious Spirits here:



Tales from the dugoutTales From The Dugout – Richard Gordon

The dugout can be a fearsome place. When the action heats up on the pitch, emotions in the dugout boil over. Grown men lose control. The normally sane turn into irrational agitators. And every decision, no matter how minor, is hotly contested. Tales From The Dugout is a fantastically entertaining collection of incidents and memories gathered from managers, players, referees, linesmen and broadcasters, which encapsulates the unique environment of the technical area and reveals how even limited exposure to it can transform people unrecognisably. And when the red mist descends, the consequences can be almost unbelievable and frequently hilarious.


Richard Gordon is the voice of football to Scottish footy fans. For more years than I can count he has brought me the highs (but mainly lows) that go with following one of the less fashionable Scottish teams. His years behind the mic have given him unique access to the characters that have defined Scottish football and now he brings us Tales From The Dugout.

This is a fantastic collection of observations and memories (written in Richard’s immediately recognisable style). But the real treats are the additional contributions from the players, managers and referees as they talk about their personal experiences and they lift the lid on what goes on away from the pitch and behind the touchlines.

While the names are more recognisable North of the Border, this is a gem of a book for ANY football fan – funny is funny no matter where you live and some of the stories recounted in Tales had tears streaming down my face. Others just made my jaw drop – some people really do believe their own hype!


You can buy Tales From The Dugout here:




Secret LochsSecret Lochs and Special Places – Bruce Sandison

Secret Lochs and Special Places takes the angler on a journey through some of Scotland’s most wonderful areas to discover little-known lochs and others that are outstanding simply because of their extraordinary beauty. This book is not about huge trout, although they are there, but rather about the supreme joy that is fishing. Your guide is Bruce Sandison, one of Scotland’s most respected anglers. It is an account of one man’s love affair with his native land, with its history and culture, its people and places. Secret Lochs and Special Places celebrates all that is best about wild fishing in Scotland.

Bruce Sandison is one of Scotland’s best-known writers and journalists. He has twice won the prestigious Highland and Islands Media Award Feature Writer of the Year and his work has appeared in a wide range of journals and magazines.

First up it needs said that I am not a fisherman (or an angler) but the idea of hours of peace and solitude doing something I love does sound like a marvellous idea. I HAVE spent considerable time in the North of Scotland and have appreciated the beauty of the landscapes Mr Sandison discusses in Secret Lochs and his love of the landscape pours off the page.

If you are seeking a Christmas gift for an angling fan then Secret Lochs and Special Places is highly recommended. It is a beautiful story of family and friends spending time in the surrounds of Scotland’s remote corners.


You can buy Secret Lochs and Special Places here:



Imagination and a pile of junkImagination and a Pile of Junk: A Droll History of Inventors and Inventions

Trevor Norton, who has been compared to Gerard Durrell and Bill Bryson, weaves an entertaining history with a seductive mix of eureka moments, disasters and dirty tricks.

Although inventors were often scientists or engineers, many were not: Samuel Morse (Morse code) was a painter, Lazlow Biro (ballpoint) was a sculptor and hypnotist, and Logie Baird (TV) sold boot polish. The inventor of the automatic telephone switchboard was an undertaker who believed the operator was diverting his calls to rival morticians so he decided to make all telephone operators redundant.

Inventors are mavericks indifferent to conventional wisdom so critics were dismissive of even their best ideas: radio had ‘no future,’ electric light was ‘an idiotic idea’ and X-rays were ‘a hoax.’ Even so, the state of New Jersey moved to ban X-ray opera glasses. The head of the General Post Office rejected telephones as un-neccesary as there were ‘plenty of small boys to run messages.’

This book is a dream for those that enjoy social history laden with lashings of wry humour.  Trevor Norton has crammed a huge amount of fascinating information into a single book, spiked it with funnies and droll observations and made lots of facts great fun to read.  Fans of QI, National Geographic, Trivia buffs and just those that like a book you can pick up and put down for a short reading burst – this is for you.

You can buy Imagination and a Pile of Junk here:


ThunderbirdsThunderbirds: The Vault – Marcus Hearn

On 30th September 1965, International Rescue successfully completed their first assignment, and the Tracy brothers imprinted themselves on a generation of captivated children. Thirty-two episodes, many repeats, sixty territories, two feature films, three albums, numerous comics, books, toys, videos and DVDs and five decades later, Thunderbirds are still saving the world from the brink of peril. Thunderbirds: The Vault will be the first ever lavishly illustrated, definitive, beautifully packaged, presentation hardback telling the story of this enduring cult phenomenon. Packed with previously unpublished material, including prop photos, design sketches, production memos and other collectible memorabilia, plus specially commissioned photography of original 60s merchandise, and new interviews with cast and crew, it’s going to be a collectors’ dream and a fantastic piece of British TV history.

Another title for fans with a fondness for classic (cult) television.  Thunderbirds: The Vault is another ‘for the fans’ book but then you wouldn’t pick up a volume like this for someone that has never seen the show! Crammed with pictures from the sets, images of the models, figures and the behind the scenes talent this is a glorious love-in of a read.

Although I do not remember Thunderbirds from the first time of showing I am not unaware of the impact that the show had nor of its place in the history of tv. I found Marcus Hearn’s book fascinating reading and it added such depth to my knowledge and appreciation of the show.


You can buy Thunderbirds: The Vault here





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December 11

The Silent Room – Mari Hannah

The Silent RoomA security van sets off for Durham prison, a disgraced Special Branch officer in the back. It never arrives. En route it is hijacked by armed men, the prisoner sprung. Suspended from duty on suspicion of aiding and abetting the audacious escape of his former boss, Detective Sergeant Matthew Ryan is locked out of the manhunt.

Desperate to preserve his career and prove his innocence, he backs off. But when the official investigation falls apart, under surveillance and with his life in danger, Ryan goes dark, enlisting others in his quest to discover the truth.

When the trail leads to the suspicious death of a Norwegian national, Ryan uncovers an international conspiracy that has claimed the lives of many.


My thanks to Macmillan for my review copy


For a change, I am starting with the important and essential point about my review. The Silent Room is a great read and I am going to include it in my 5 star review category.

It was not until I finished reading The Silent Room that I realised just how much I had enjoyed it.  Obviously I knew while I was reading that it was a good story and that I was loving the twists and shocks that arose along the way.  But I finished it yesterday and I still find myself wanting to read more about DS Matthew Ryan – he was a strong lead character and are elements of the story which I now find I want to see developed further (an unsubtle hint for Mari Hannah there that I would be delighted to see these characters return).

At the start of the book Ryan is reeling from the discovery that his friend and former boss has been sentenced to prison – as a disgraced officer he is cast out from the police force he served for a long and seemingly glorious career.  Ryan refuses to believe the worst of his mentor and when the prison transit van is hijacked en route to Durham Prison Ryan knows that his friend needs his help. However, his colleagues on the force are less keen to forgive and their suspicions soon turn to Ryan too.

Acting without the support of his colleagues the onus falls on Ryan to investigate an abduction and disprove corruption charges. Thus begins a frantic race against time for Ryan, he enlists help of friends and associates who risk their own safety (and in some cases their careers) to provide whatever help they can to Ryan. Mari Hannah does a fantastic job of conveying the tension that surrounds Ryan’s desperate investigations and also of the frustration he encounters when the Professional Standards team try to implicate him in corrupt activities too.

I really cannot share too much of the finer detail of The Silent Room. It is often the way of a brilliant thriller that talking about what makes it so good will then involve discussing spoilers! The characters are fun, likeable (except when they are MEANT to be disliked), they are believable and they jumped off the pages for me. The Silent Room is everything a good crime story should be and I have no doubt that it will delight readers.

Did I mention I loved it?


The Silent Room is available now in Hardback and Digital formats:






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December 10

Goodbye Spider…Hello Subject 375 – Nikki Owen

Subject 375

What to believe
Who to betray
When to run…

Plastic surgeon Dr Maria Martinez has Asperger’s. Convicted of killing a priest, she is alone, in prison and has no memory of the murder.

DNA evidence places Maria at the scene of the crime, yet she claims she’s innocent. Then she starts to remember…
A strange room. Strange people. Being watched.
As Maria gets closer to the truth she is drawn into a web of international intrigue and must fight not only to clear her name but to remain alive.


This may sound familiar to some – even if the name of the book does not.

Keep reading.


We are all quite used to seeing our favourite books re-jacketed…the nightmare scenario for a reader with OCD when your collection of an author’s work suddenly changes appearance mid-way through the range! However, a book to changing its name is not quite so common yet here we are with Nikki Owen who has some pretty damn exciting news.

The hugely popular The Spider in the Corner of the Room is being relaunched with a new cover and a new title: Subject 375. The changes will bring Nikki’s fabulous thriller into line with the global releases providing a unified international identity.

So how did Nikki react to the changes when she saw them?

Seeing the new cover for the first time was oddly exciting – here we were not simply scratching our heads wondering what to do, but instead listening to readers about Spider, how the cover confused them as to the genre. And now we’d made a new cover, a new adventure, almost for the main character, Maria. And, of course, Subject 375 is so relevant to Maria, so crucial to the plot. But of course, I can’t reveal why. You’ll have to read the book ;-).”

Subject 375 is the first title of the Project Trilogy – while we impatiently wait the arrival of book two we can but hope that the arrival of Subject 375 brings us one step closer!


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December 8

Blue Wicked – Alan Jones – Blog Tour

Blue wicked 2Earlier this year I read the fantastic Blue Wicked by Alan Jones. Set in Glasgow it took readers to some of the less glamourous parts of the city and introduced us to some of the more ‘earthy’ types.  Words like ‘gritty’ and ‘nasty’ cropped up frequently when I talked about Blue Wicked but I absolutely loved it – a story which does not shirk away from the darker side of society.

When I heard that there would be a blog tour for Blue Wicked I knew I had to be involved. As my review had already been written (read it here) I asked Alan if he could possibly prepare a small guest post that would allow me to join in. As I live on the ‘wrong side’ of the city from where the action in Blue Wicked takes place I suggested that a walk around the locations would be fun – I am always keen to know what may inspire an author to use a particular setting.  Fortunately Alan seemed quite keen….


When Gordon suggested that I should write about some of the locations featured in Blue Wicked, I thought it was a great idea.

I spent most of my formative years on the north side of Glasgow, and I went to Glasgow University in the city’s West end so The Cabinetmaker, my first book, was set in those parts of the city that I knew so well.

But Blue Wicked is set mostly on the South side of Glasgow, so I had to do a bit more research to find suitable locations where the narrative of the book would be placed.

When I’m writing, I mostly choose a general area, then write large screeds of the book first, before finding specific suitable locations that fit in with the plot, but there are key areas where it helps to have an idea of where the action is happening before too much detail goes on to the page.

Blue Wicked Image 1In Blue Wicked, the two parts of the book where location really mattered to the writing process were James Prentice’s murder scene and the final chapters of the book. Both of these were set in Renfrew, an industrial town just west of Glasgow itself, but on the south side of the river.

Blue Wicked Image 2I had help from Ronnie, a friend of mine, who had lived in Renfrew all his life, and who took me on a grand tour of the town. I had already spotted the Babcock Factory loading bay on Google Earth, and seeing the area, with the Inchinnan bridge and the River Cart, I knew I’d found the ideal spot for wee Jamsie Prentice’s murder.

I’ve done a fair bit of sailing in the Clyde estuary, but never further up the Clyde than Gourock, so I had to do a bit of research, studying nautical charts of the area, and tidal flows, to make the journey he made down the Clyde on the makeshift raft as realistic as possible.

Blue Wicked Image 3For the final two or three chapters, I toured the housing estates and shopping areas of Renfrew, and found just what I was looking for. It made the writing so much easier when I could place myself, in my imagination, on the streets I was writing about. The row of shops in the main street exists, but the deserted butcher’s shop is long since gone.

Google Earth, especially with street-view, is an amazing tool when researching locations for a book but there’s no substitute for walking around a place to get a feel of it, and talking to the people who live and work there.  That’s when you can sometimes pick up little stories or hidden histories that add a bit of local colour to the narrative.

Blue Wicked Image 4It’s sometimes necessary to make changes to a location to fit in with the plot. The petrol Garage where Stevie had his drinking den and the derelict industrial estate it sat in were an amalgamations of two separate locations, and the arrangement of the streets around Spencey’s house is slightly different in the book. And aside from knocking people’s doors to ask to see inside their houses, the internal layout usually involves a bit of guesswork.

I find that Glasgow and the surrounding area, while not maybe quite as iconic or eye-catching as Edinburgh, is a fantastic place for a book setting, especially if the book taps in to the grittiness and friendly humour of the city and its people.



Blue Wicked is published by Ailsa Press and is available in paperback and on Kindle:




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December 5

2015: My Top Ten Reads

December already and time to look back over 2015 and draw up my Top Ten reads of the year.  Before I start I would like to thank all the authors and publishers that have trusted me with their books, shared my reviews and (on exciting occasions) quoted my reviews. Your support keeps this blog running and I am grateful beyond measure.

Reading and blogging is not the solitary venture as you may believe. I would like to thank all the authors who gave up some of their valuable time to join me during 2015 (answering my Q&A’s and providing guest posts). Special thanks at this time to Marnie Riches for many, many Twitter name-checks and to Alexandra Sokoloff for her phenomenal guest feature on Serial Killers (found here).

I would also thank my fellow bloggers who help my reviews reach a wider audience, give me guidance when I hit a blank and provide the support I need to keep me going – too many to name individually but special thanks to Liz, Sonya, Sophie, Lou and Shaun.

So the books – Ten in all. The ones I recommended most throughout the year or the stories which stick with me long after I have finished reading – with my goldfish memory it takes something special to remain memorable.

They are not ranked in any order…but the last three on the list ARE my three most recommended for the year!


No Other Darkness


No Other Darkness – Sarah Hilary

The second Marnie Rome thriller from Sarah Hilary and it did everything that I hoped it would do. Terrified, entertained, developed the characters that I had really liked from her debut novel and it left me pining for more. I read No Other Darkness in January so my wait for Book 3 must hopefully be nearing an end!  Review here





Hellbound – David McCaffrey

David McCaffrey took the serial killer story and did something totally unexpected – the concept he explored was one I now often consider when I read other murder stories. Hellbound was engrossing, thought provoking and a bloody good story too. David kindly agreed to take part in a Q&A and he was the first to be asked what I came to call my “Serial Killer” question – this question has subsequently featured many times throughout the year (and will be revisited in a special feature post soon). The Serial Killer question only came about because of Hellbound – my thanks to David for that inspiration, every different answer fascinates me.  Review Here.




the girl who wouldnt die 2



The Girl Who Wouldn’t Die – Marnie Riches

Explosive opening and a punchy heroine in George McKenzie I was hooked on The Girl Who Wouldn’t Die from the outset.  I loved the Amsterdam setting, I loved the dynamic between George and the Dutch police. I got frustrated by the characters, I hated the bullies and I was delighted that Marnie Riches did not sugar coat the violence of her villains. Dark and nasty is how I like a crime story. (Review Here)




Evil Games

Evil Games – Angela Marsons

Angela Marsons released three books this year featuring lead character Kim Stone. Evil Games was the second of the three and although I could easily be writing about the third book (Lost Girls) in this space I just felt that Evil Games edged it. The clinching factor in Evil Games inclusion in this list was the character playing the Evil Games – no spoilers but the villain in Evil Games wins my ‘Best Baddie of 2015’ award.  If you have not yet read any of the books in this series then you need to put that right as soon as possible. (Review here).



Snow Blind


Snowblind (Dark Iceland) – Ragnar Jonasson

Snowblind stands out in my selection of ten as it is the least frenetic of the books but it reads beautifully. The storytelling, the scene setting, the characterization and the sheer sense of being part of the story made Snowblind an easy pick for my list. (Review here)




Killing Lessons


The Killing Lessons – Saul Black

In the height of summer (while lying beside a Spanish swimming pool) I was transported to a dark, snowy American wood as I read about a young girl fleeing the family home to escape a pair of killers that had murdered her mother and brother. The Killing Lessons just ticked all the right boxes for me. A cleverly written slick thriller that follows the cops, the killers and the victim they missed. (Review here



breathe 2



Breathe – David Ince

How can you not love a book that is the first book in The Meat Puppet Trilogy?  Breathe is non-stop action. A chase scene from first page to last. Random and unexpected deaths, blackmail, terror and a mysterious criminal figure commanding an army of unwilling foot soldiers. It will keep you turning page after page and promising yourself ‘just one more chapter’. (Review here)



A Kind Worth Killing


The Kind Worth Killing – Peter Swanson

In my Top Three because it just kept blowing me away with the twists I did not see coming. So many clever, clever twists. A nightmare to review without giving away plot twists because it is so damned twisty. Did I mention the twists?  If you enjoy a murder story and you don’t mind knowing who the murderer is then this is the book for you. But the police are on the trail of our killer and you start to think that this time you would quite like to see them fail – and it looks like they will!  (Review Here)



Tenacity 2



Tenacity – J.S. Law

In the Top Three because I loved it. From the stunning opening sequence through to the claustrophobic submarine scenes and the brilliant finale which left me screaming for more chapters – I just could not get enough of this book.  Everyone should read Tenacity.  (Review here)




Untouchable cover

Untouchable – Ava Marsh

Also in the Top Three this year is Untouchable by Ava Marsh. The protagonist is a high class call girl and the story takes an unflinching look at her lifestyle.  Untouchable stood out this year as a book quite unlike any I had read. The treatment of the characters was handled superbly and any judgements on the characters is made entirely by the reader. Contains scenes of violence and explicit sexual content so perhaps not suitable for everyone but if that stops you reading a fantastic story then it is your loss. I recommend this book to everyone (except my mum coz of the rude bits). (Review here)



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December 2

Winter Prey – John Sandford

Winter PreyThe Iceman crept into the house on the edge of the lake. He killed the father first. Then the mother and child. And when his work was done, he set the house on fire.

Lucas Davenport has tracked killers in cities across America. But the woods of rural Wisconsin are as dark and primal as evil itself. The winters are harsher and colder. And in the heart of every mother and father, there is fear . . .

Because tonight, the Iceman cometh.


I am delighted to have the chance to join The Booktrail Advent tour – many thanks for the opportunity to take everyone to snowy Wisconsin and meet up with one of my favourite characters: Lucas Davenport.

You can follow the full advent tour by clicking through on this link:



I know this is an Advent tour and that this should suggest Christmas themes but I read crime and thrillers and they tend not to lend themselves to the warm and happy glow that I feel Christmas should ideally bring. I did consider revisiting Agatha Christie’s The Adventure of the Christmas Pudding as I am a huge fan of the Hercule Poirot novels but I had another plan!

Let me do some mental mapping here – Christmas makes me think of White Christmas…snow…and cold dark nights…bleak winters (I grew up in the Scottish Highlands where they have bleak winters nailed down!)…whiteouts…a killer hiding in the snow…stalking his victims and escaping into the black night.  When I think killers in the snow the first book that comes to mind is Winter Prey by John Sandford.  I first read this back in the 1990’s and all these years later it remains one of my favourite books in the Davenport series (now totalling over 20 titles and boasting an established spin off series too).

Winter Prey is a cracking murder mystery.  Davenport is the focus, as you would expect, his investigation into the murder of a family in their remote rural Wisconsin cabin is hampered from the outset by the fact the murderer has set fire to the house in a bid to destroy the bodies. But we also get to view events unfolding through the eyes of the killer: The Iceman.  The identity of the killer remains shrouded in mystery throughout the book, but the reader can see that he/she is monitoring the investigation from afar. We see the paranoia and learn that there are risks threatening their exposure when a 3rd party makes an innocent comment leading the killer to realise that there is hidden incriminating evidence that must be found.  More deaths are bound to follow as the killer looks to cover their tracks.

Most at risk is the local doctor and surgeon – Weather Karkinnen. She will know the identity of the killer if she gets to see the hidden evidence and the killer knows this.  Unfortunately for Weather she is unaware that she can identify a killer and as such she has no idea that her life is at risk. When her job requires her to travel alone through many remote locations on a daily basis you cannot help but fear for her safety.  Weather does have one thing in her favour, a certain police officer is more than a little fascinated by this unusually named surgeon. Any killer trying to get to Weather will have to go through Lucas Davenport first.

A deadly game of cat and mouse will unfold – pursuits will be hampered by snowstorms, tracks will be covered and evidence destroyed. Can a City Cop overcome the wilderness and hunt down an increasingly desperate murderer? Sandford captures the feel of the location and the bitter chill of the winter. After more than 20 years I still remember that initial feeling of being completely absorbed in the story and believing I was also chilled to the bone as I trekked through the Wisconsin woods with my fictional hero as he hunted down The Iceman.

It is atmospheric, it is compelling reading and it sets a scene which few crime novels that I have read since have rivalled.




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December 1

The Bad Things – Mary-Jane Riley

The Bad ThingAlex Devlin’s life changed forever fifteen years ago when her sister Sasha’s two small children were snatched in broad daylight. Little Harry’s body was found a few days later, but Millie’s remains were never discovered.

Now Jackie Wood, jailed as an accessory to the twins’ murder, has been released, her conviction quashed by the Appeal Court. Convinced Jackie can reveal where Millie is buried, Alex goes to meet her.

But the unexpected information Wood reveals shocks Alex to the core and threatens to uncover the dark secret she has managed to keep under wraps for the past fifteen years. Because in the end, can we ever really know what is in the hearts of those closest to us?


My thanks to the Killer Reads team, I received a review copy through Netgalley

Alex Devlin is a journalist – as we join her at the start of the story it seems she is struggling to bring up her teenage son on her own with a very limited budget. Her son is unhappy as he wants to join his friends on a school trip, for Alex it just seems a cost too far. An argument seems likely but Alex’s world is suddenly turned upside down when she hears a news bulletin announcing Jackie Wood has been released from prison after 15 years…the woman who was an accessory to the murder of Alex’s niece and nephew – twins who were not even of school age.

A harrowing event in the life of Alex and her family and one that will now have to be confronted again. Alex wants to meet Jackie Wood – interview her – and (hopefully) find what happened that fateful day when her nephew Harry died and his sister Millie disappeared. But before any meeting can take place Alex has to face her own sister, the grief that Alex is feeling is 100 times worse for the twins mother.

As The Bad Things unfold we are given a greater insight into the terrible feeling of loss that the family suffered. But the story does not just focus on the family – another key player in the events in The Bad Things is Detective Inspector Kate Todd.  She was a young police officer when Jackie Wood was arrested and has made her way up the ranks, however, the memory of finding young Harry’s body has left a lasting impression on Kate and which still impacting upon her personal life.

A domestic thriller which is handled with splendid sensitivity by Mary-Jane Riley.  The events at the core of The Bad Things, a murdered child and his missing sibling, make for hard reading for any parent but at no stage do you feel there is an attempt to reach for a shock factor. It is the emotion amongst the survivors which carries the story so well.

I found The Bad Things to be a gripping story, there are layers of deception to be peeled back and one or two mysterious characters floating about where you are not quite sure how they may feature in the plot. The author teases out clues and reveals which made it harder for me to be confident I knew where the story was heading. Too hard it seems as my best attempts at solving the 15 year old mystery were miles away from accurate.

Well written, nicely paced and downright disturbing at times – The Bad Things is one to watch out for.


The Bad Things is available in paperback and digital format:

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