October 31

The Killing Game – JS Carol

the-killing-gameA woman walks into a restaurant. Will she come out alive?

JJ Johnson is Hollywood’s favourite publicist. Her word can launch careers – and break them.

But when lunch at exclusive restaurant Alfie’s turns into a fight for her life against a terrifying stranger, she quickly learns this is one situation she can’t talk her way out of.

The twisted individual knows everything about each of the wealthy diners. And soon, it becomes clear that he wants something more than money.

Can JJ find a way out, or risk becoming a victim to a man with nothing left to lose…?


My thanks to Bookouture for my review copy

JJ Johnson has built a career out of manipulating situations, putting the right people into the right place and gaining maximum exposure for her clients. She is the ringmaster. A Puppet Master. As one of the best publicists in Hollywood she understands the importance of being seen at all the right places.

Alfie’s restaurant is an exclusive destination for the great and good of Hollywood. It can take weeks to get table but it offers a haven away from snooping journalists and paparazzi camera lenses. JJ loves to eat at Alfie’s and she can arrange a table at short notice if she feels it would work to a client’s advantage.

But as we join JJ and the other diners at Alfie’s we will quickly find that being sheltered from public view is not always a good thing. When the Ringmaster has to cede control to someone else a dangerous game begins and there is no guarantee that there will be any survivors. In a story which unfolds over a very tight timeframe (and can virtually be read in real time) this is an absolute rush of a read.

I inhaled The Killing Game when I read it. The pages could not turn fast enough and I just did not want to put it down. JS Carol lets the story flow at a breakneck pace and, pleasingly, there was always the feeling that ANYTHING could happen next.

If you like your thrillers packed with action, unpredictable and with a high body-count then look no further than The Killing Game.



The Killing Game is published by Bookouture and is available in paperback and digital editions. You can order your copy by clicking here: https://www.amazon.co.uk/Killing-Game-tense-gripping-thriller-ebook/dp/B01LXKJUNR/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1477954924&sr=1-1&keywords=the+killing+game


Category: From The Bookshelf | Comments Off on The Killing Game – JS Carol
October 30

Inside The Whispers – A J Waines

itwlargefinalWhere the most dangerous place – is inside your own head

Following a London Tube disaster, three traumatised survivors turn to clinical psychologist, Dr Samantha Willerby, for help – but she’s mystified when their stories don’t add up. Her confusion turns to horror when one by one, instead of recovering, they start committing suicide.

When her partner, Conrad, begins to suffer the same terrifying flashbacks, Sam is desperate to find out what is causing them and a mysterious and chilling crime begins to unravel.

Then the flashbacks begin for Sam…


My thanks to AJ Waines for the chance to join the Inside The Whispers blog tour


I love a thriller set around hospitals. Perhaps it is because both my parents worked for the NHS and I grew up surrounded by hospital chat? But give me a book with a medical theme and the threat that a place of healing is actually doing harm to its patients and I will be a happy reader.

Inside The Whispers is a perfect example of why I love these types of stories. We are introduced to Doctor Samantha Willerby (Sam) – she is a clinical psychologist and is treating patients suffering traumas and trying to help them overcome their personal demons. Sam realises that some of her patients were caught up in the same terrifying event – a fire at a London tube station. Their graphic descriptions of the horror they faced leaves Sam shaken, particularly when the first patient commits suicide. However, something seems wrong with the scenes they are describing and despite the clarity of their memories of the fire there are inconsistencies in their memory which Sam cannot explain.

Digging deeper Sam soon uncovers evidence to suggest that her patients may be lying to her,  but to what end and why would they fabricate a story so vivid and horrific that they then start to take their own lives?  Sam needs to get to the bottom of the mystery as her boyfriend starts to exhibit the same symptoms as her patients.

Away from work there are also problems for Sam at home, her sister has left the residential clinic where she has been staying for several years. Seemingly recovered from the mental problems which plagued her childhood Sam’s sister, Mimi, is determined to make a success of living back in society. But her arrival will cause friction with Sam as the long running fractious nature of their relationship cannot just be glossed over and forgotten easily.

Inside the Whispers was an absolute treat to read. The author created characters I cared about, giving them a depth and feel which kept me reading. Sam’s work and home life brought her into contact with people with hugely fascinating stories and these are explored really well through the book. The realisation that her patients are dying and that Sam is unable to prevent it gives a strong feeling of a “race against time” particularly when events come close to home for Sam.

This is a stylish, intelligent thriller with a dark and deeply disturbing premise at its core. I flew through the book in super-fast time as I was desperate to see how the story would be resolved and, when I was done, I had that conflicted satisfied sadness of “I loved it…but it’s finished.”

Inside the Whispers is highly recommended.


You can order Inside the Whispers through the links below:

Follow the blog tour:
Category: Blog Tours, From The Bookshelf | Comments Off on Inside The Whispers – A J Waines
October 30

Book Chains – Daniel Pembrey (Fourth Link)

Book chains is my author Q&A with a twist.

I am placing this feature entirely into the hands of my guests and asking them to nominate the author I should interview next (and they need to supply a question I ask on their behalf).  Last time around Steph Broadribb nominated Daniel Pembrey.  Before I get to Steph’s question for Daniel I had a few questions of my own…


the-harbour-masterFirst Question is never actually a question. This is where I ask you to introduce yourself and give you the opportunity to get a couple of plugs in early.

Hello, Gordon. I was born in England but have lived much of my life abroad. My character is a Dutch copper called Henk van der Pol, who works a harbour beat in Amsterdam. The debut novel launches in print on 10th November but is available at a special introductory price on Kindle right now, till 8th November, here: http://amzn.to/2dxMIZN Also my publisher has created a snappy & atmospheric website for me, www.danielpembrey.co.uk, where you can see some of the feedback and more about my background. I guess I’ve used up my two plugs!

I wanted to ask about The Harbour Master, a story which you set in Amsterdam. Is this a city you know well or did the plot necessitate the location?

I started visiting the Dutch capital when my sister and her husband moved there. My visits became more frequent after they had a daughter. My niece is growing up speaking Dutch! I actually moved there for a while too, but couldn’t find the kind of crime fiction I love reading. It struck my as odd given Holland’s proximity to Scandinavia (and the prodigious output of those less populous countries), plus how well Holland lends itself to the genre – those incredible port cities, Amsterdam, Rotterdam and the rest.

In fact there was Nicolas Freeling’s Van der Valk series, written in the ‘60s, which is perhaps better known here for the mass audience TV show. Freeling was very interesting to me as a Brit living most of his life in the Benelux region, writing characters native to languages different from his mother tongue. Without getting too academic about it, he’s an example of a ‘born translated writer ’, and if that intrigues, I’m doing a couple of events on that subject at UCL with a professor of Dutch studies on 30th November and 11th January: https://www.eventbrite.co.uk/e/dutch-detectives-book-club-tickets-28552161283 Oh dear, that was another plug!

Can you introduce us to Henk van der Pol?

Perhaps the easiest way to do this is to explain that I’d specifically been looking for a John Rebus, Harry Bosch or a Kurt Wallander-type character set in Amsterdam – the maverick, flawed yet highly effective copper – and when I couldn’t find him, I strove to create him in Henk van der Pol. I’ve actually interviewed both Ian Rankin and Michael Connelly (Henning Mankell being dead of course), and pointed out the similarities in their characters, but they all evolved separately to one another apparently. My realisation is that this is an archetypal character that we keep wanting to return to, and which I certainly wanted to write.

daniel-pembreyI am not fishing for spoilers so I need to phrase this carefully.  The description of Harbour Master suggests that Henk is approaching retirement – is he a character you will revisit? And will his forthcoming retirement limit how many future titles he may feature in?

Yes, this point has been brought to my attention by my publisher! (series longevity). I can only write what fascinates me and what I myself want to read, and for me, the interest of the older police character (John Rebus, Harry Bosch or my own) is that they are carrying ever more history and operating within ever greater constraints. They are increasingly complicated and challenged. For example, John Rebus – an imposing man, once in the SAS – can no longer use his physical strength to overpower an adversary. He has to use his wits, his guile. But gangster “Big Ger” Cafferty will talk to him and not some upstart copper because of their shared history, and so the complications and intrigue build in Rankin’s books. That’s was what I was after, early on in my books, with Henk van der Pol.

It is something of a rarity for me to meet one of my guests, however, we did actually get to meet last month at Bloody Scotland. You were there in a rather special capacity, can you explain a bit about your weekend?

It was my first Bloody Scotland and I loved it. And it was great to meet you in person! I was also a spotlit author – one of a number of debut authors invited to speak for three minutes ahead of a main panel. One of last year’s spotlit authors was Graeme Macrae Burnet! We all formed a little gang this year. Let me just mention them briefly now if I may, because they’re all amazing creators and wonderful people: Eva Holland, Amanda Fleet, Shelley Day, Liz Mistry, Stephen Watt, Sandra Ireland, Lesley Kelly, Michael Grothaus, Les Wood, Jackie Baldwin and Tom O’Keenan.


Did you get to attend any of the panels at Bloody Scotland?  Can you share any highlights?

The highlight was Val McDermid’s panel, because I was interviewing her the following morning. (Also Eva Holland’s reading at the start was amazing!). It’s always risky to arrange such an interview after a Saturday night at one of these events! But Val McDermid was so generous with her time and advice. It’s so striking because, someone like her – she’s sold 11 million books now and won innumerable awards – she doesn’t have to do this. But she told me that she got help of this kind early on in her career, and she strongly believes in giving back, and this is the other reason why Bloody Scotland 2016 was so special for me. You can read the interview here by the way: https://medium.com/@CrimeTimeUK/you-997c62056d71#.g7aaqmpl7

Can I ask what you are working on next?

The Harbour Master was conceived as a six part story saga; the first book (just out) comprises the first three parts, and the concluding parts will be out in e-book edition in January under the title Night Market, so I am furiously doing final edits for that!

Now Some Quick Fire Questions:

o   What is the greatest song ever written?

Happy Birthday. So simple yet effective

o   You hit the pub after a book launch, who is most likely to beat you to the bar?

I pride myself on being fast, but watch out for that Susi (SJI) Holliday, she’s quick on the draw when peach schnapps are in the offing

o   Can you play a musical instrument?

I can: piano. I played keyboard in a garage-psychedelic band in my late teens … the less said about that the better, in case there are photos/recordings floating about!

o   Do you have a favourite book that you re-read over and over again?

Actually I don’t. There are so many books I want to read, I’d rather turn to something new than go back to a book I’ve already read.

o   Halloween is coming, do you turn out the lights and pretend you are out or do you go overboard on pumpkins and candy?

In fact this year we’re doing a Halloween special event at Waterstones King’s Road on Tuesday (1st November at 6:30pm). Please come along if you’re in London and you read this in time! –

https://www.waterstones.com/events/compass-points-in-crime-panel-event/london-kings-road. It’s free if you know the authors, so if you come, please say Hello. And there’s free wine!

o   What book(s) are you currently reading?

30141176I just finished Steph Broadribb’s Deep Down Dead, which is a great read and highly recommended. I’m now turning to His Bloody Project.

o   Steph (who nominated you) puts pineapple onto pizza – are these the actions of a sane woman?

Ha, sweet and savoury works for me too. Bacon with maple syrup when hungover? No?

o   City Breaks, The Great Outdoors or Sunny Beaches?

Definitely city. I can’t help recommending Amsterdam, but Berlin, Luxembourg , Oslo, … these are the places I love  to visit. That said, I did recently write a novella about a yoga retreat gone bad, set at a Mexican beachside resort. It’s called Vanishing Point. Now where’s that gone? *looks around in vain*


Finally, the Book Chain question – As you know, Steph Broadribb nominated you to keep my chain going and I asked her which question I should ask on her behalf: Steph wants to know – Whose drink would you most like to hold?

Well of course Steph’s, first and foremost. But perhaps then Tom Cruise’s, because my guess is that he’d want a selfie with Steph on his phone as well. Here to help!


Finally – to keep my chain going I asked Daniel to nominate an author that I should approach next…Susi Holliday, I may need a little of your time – Daniel has a very important question for you to answer!


The Harbour Master is published by No Exit Press and is currently available in digital format with the paperback arriving on 10 November.

Daniel’s Amazon page is here: https://www.amazon.co.uk/Daniel-Pembrey/e/B00D1WC6IS/ref=dp_byline_cont_book_1


Category: Guests | Comments Off on Book Chains – Daniel Pembrey (Fourth Link)
October 28

Chaos – Patricia Cornwell

chaosOn a hot late summer evening in Cambridge, Massachusetts, Dr. Kay Scarpetta and her investigative partner Pete Marino respond to a call about a dead bicyclist near the Kennedy School of Government. It appears that a young woman has been attacked with almost super human force.

Even before Scarpetta’s headquarters, the Cambridge Forensic Center, has been officially notified about the case, Marino and Scarpetta’s FBI agent husband Benton Wesley receive suspicious calls, allegedly from someone at Interpol. But it makes no sense. Why would the elite international police agency know about the case or be interested? With breathtaking speed it becomes apparently that an onslaught of interference and harassment might be the work of an anonymous cyberbully named Tailend Charlie, who has been sending cryptic communications to Scarpetta for over a week.

Stunningly, even her brilliant tech savvy niece Lucy can’t trace whoever it is or how this person could have access to intimate information few outside the family would have.

When a second death hundreds of miles south, shocking Scarpetta to her core, it becomes apparent she and those close her are confronted with something far bigger and more dangerous than they’d ever imagined. Then analysis of a mysterious residue recovered from a wound is identified as a material that doesn’t exist on earth.


My thanks to Hayley at Harper Collins for the chance to join the Chaos blog tour.


The 24th Kay Scarpetta novel from Patricia Cornwell – do you need to have read all the previous books? Possibly not but, as with all good series where character development is integral to the stories, returning readers will be richly rewarded.  Chaos is not recommended as a jumping on point though, there are quite a few elements to the story which will require a bit of knowledge over past events and there are recurring characters where knowing the dynamic will enhance your reading enjoyment.

patricia-cornwell-chaos-publicityAs we join Scarpetta we learn that she has been targeted by a cyber-stalker (dubbed Tailend Charlie) through regular messages he is revealing he knows more about Scarpetta’s background than a random nuisance should be able to determine. The communications appear to be a distraction for Dr Scarpetta but as events unfold in Chaos we find that they may be a more imminent threat than she has originally realised.

Tailend Charlie looms large over much of the events in Chaos. Even though events in the book take place over a very short period of time, through many conversational flashbacks we find that Scarpetta has been subject of Charlie’s attentions for quite some time. The mystery of his motives is a great hook and the way the story drips his influence breaks up the active investigation that is holding Scarpetta’s attention.

What I particularly enjoyed about Chaos is the focus given to the death of a cyclist. What has always made Patricia Cornwell novels standout for me in the past has been the detail that the author captures when Scarpetta works – and the dignity which is bestowed upon the victims she works with. Chaos has an extensive investigation into the cyclist’s death. Ideas over how this young woman died are explored, the scene of crime is described and searched with a thoroughness that comes from expert understanding of the subject matter and speculation is shot down in firm and professional manner. For reasons I cannot reveal (SPOILERS) Scarpetta is not having the best of days before she commences this investigation – the death of the cyclist is not making her day any better and things are going to become more puzzling and more hazardous for our favourite Doctor…

As I read I found that Chaos starts slow and builds and builds to the frenetic endgame. Seemingly inconsequential detail from the early chapters are built upon as the story develops – by the end you will appreciate how the author laid the clues and set up the mysteries. For fans of the series you need to know that events in Chaos will through Scarpetta’s life into…well chaos (obviously). The impact of this story will change the dynamic of her life for all future books.

What better incentive to bring a little Chaos into your day?


Chaos is available now in hardback and digital formats. You can order a copy here: https://www.amazon.co.uk/Chaos-Kay-Scarpetta-Patricia-Cornwell/dp/0008150621/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1477601542&sr=8-1&keywords=chaos+patricia+cornwell

Follow the rest of the blog tour here




Category: Blog Tours, From The Bookshelf | Comments Off on Chaos – Patricia Cornwell
October 22

Killer Intent – Linden Chase

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

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

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

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


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


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

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

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

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

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


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


Category: 5* Reviews, From The Bookshelf | Comments Off on Killer Intent – Linden Chase
October 22

Her Last Breath – J.A. Schneider

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

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

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


My thanks to the author for my review copy.


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

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

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

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

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


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


Category: 5* Reviews, Blog Tours, From The Bookshelf | Comments Off on Her Last Breath – J.A. Schneider
October 20

A Suitable Lie – Michael J Malone

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

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


My thanks to Karen at Orenda for my review copy.


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

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

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

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

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

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


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



Category: 5* Reviews, Blog Tours, From The Bookshelf | Comments Off on A Suitable Lie – Michael J Malone
October 18

The Mountain in my Shoe – Louise Beech

the-mountain-in-my-shoeA missing boy. A missing book. A missing husband. A woman who must find them all to find herself.

On the night Bernadette finally has the courage to tell her domineering husband that she’s leaving, he doesn’t come home. Neither does Conor, the little boy she’s befriended for the past five years. Also missing is his lifebook, the only thing that holds the answers. With the help of Conor’s foster mum, Bernadette must face her own past, her husband’s secrets and a future she never dared imagine in order to find them all.

Exquisitely written and deeply touching, The Mountain in My Shoe is both a gripping psychological thriller and a powerful and emotive examination of the meaning of family … and just how far we’re willing to go for the people we love.


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


I’d seen so many glowing reviews for The Mountain in my Shoe that before I had even picked up my copy I had high expectations. I was not let down, this was a powerful read and a story which will stick with me for some time to come.

The Mountain in my Shoe was, for me, the story of watching a child grow up through the eyes of other people. It is all done through a lifebook, Conor’s lifebook. It is his story as told by the people responsible for him as he grows up.

Conor’s mother cannot look after him when he is born but she is not willing to put him up for adoption so Conor is placed into foster care.  His lifebook is his story, it is updated by social workers, foster parents, his mother, teachers and so on – everyone that plays a significant part in Conor’s life updates the book in some way and we chart how he grows.

Bernadette had Conor’s lifebook but she has lost it.  She has also lost her husband (misplaced may be more accurate, as when the story begins he hasn’t come home when she had expected) which is unfortunate as she had planned to tell him she was leaving him. Thus begins Bernadette’s trauma, by the time the book draws to a close a lost lifebook is going to be the least of her concerns.

Many reviews you will read of The Mountain in my Shoe will focus on the emotion, the character love and the relationships angles. I loved the mystery. The missing husband, the secrets, the shocking twist in the tale.  It is a wonderfully layered story – a great domestic thriller and a powerful tale of relationships and family.

Eye-opening, traumatic and totally engaging…The Mountain in my Shoe should be on your reading list.


The Mountain In My Shoe is published by Orenda Books and you can get your copy by clicking through this link: https://www.amazon.co.uk/Mountain-My-Shoe-Louise-Beech/dp/1910633399/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1476742416&sr=1-1&keywords=the+mountain+in+my+shoe


Category: From The Bookshelf | Comments Off on The Mountain in my Shoe – Louise Beech
October 15

Dancers in the Wind – Anne Coates


Freelance journalist and single mother Hannah Weybridge is commissioned by a national newspaper to write an investigative article on the notorious red light district in Kings Cross. There she meets prostitute Princess, and police inspector in the vice squad, Tom Jordan.

When Princess later arrives on her doorstep beaten up so badly she is barely recognisable, Hannah has to make some tough decisions and is drawn ever deeper into the world of deceit and violence. Three sex workers are murdered, their deaths covered up in a media blackout, and Hannah herself is under threat. As she comes to realise that the taste for vice reaches into the higher echelons of the great and the good, Hannah realises she must do everything in her power to expose the truth …. and stay alive.


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

Journalist Hannah Weybridge is working for one of the national newspapers who are running a feature on the prostitutes of Kings Cross. The assignment appears to be a bit of an eye-opener for Hannah who finds that she is extremely uncomfortable learning about the lifestyle some of the girls are living.

What Hannah does not realise is that some of the working girls have been going missing – their battered bodies turn up a few days later but the nature of their occupation means that it has not been widely reported. One of the girls that Hannah interviews (Princess) seems to have had a particularly tough childhood – Hannah has paid for her story and they spend some time together while Princess tells the story of her path to prostitution.

When Princess turns up badly battered and bloody at Hannah’s door, Hannah finds she is compelled to get urgent help for Princess and also agrees to the girl’s request not to involve the police.  Hannah takes Princess into her home for a few days but these days stretch on as Princess recuperates and Hannah tries to encourage her to stay off the streets.

The pair have a somewhat troubled relationship, their very different backgrounds lead to some feisty clashes but both seem to realise that Hannah just has the best interests of Princess at her heart. Problems arise, however, when it becomes clear to Hannah that Princess has a few dark secrets and that some people will do whatever it takes to ensure Princess never gets a chance to share her knowledge with the “wrong” people.  Can Hannah keep her young friend safe?

Dancers in the Wind comes under the dark and gritty tag. The nastier side of London prostitution is laid out and we learn that Hannah simply cannot trust anyone. The police do not appear to be handling the prostitute murders with any sincerity, the newspaper Hannah works for is editing and spinning her stories and Princess is dropping mysterious hints about the past actions of several characters that Hannah encounters. The story keeps you on your toes, the only person you are reasonably sure is not keeping secrets is Hannah herself!

Take a great deal of suspicion, add in some cleverly edited story jumps which keep the reader off guard. Liberally apply some great end of chapter cliff-hangers (always guaranteed to keep me reading late into the night) and we have a nice wee thriller for readers to get their teeth into.


Dancers in the Wind is published by Urbane Publications and is available in paperback and digital format here: https://www.amazon.co.uk/Dancers-Wind-gripping-crime-thriller/dp/1911129635/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1476484752&sr=8-1&keywords=dancers+in+the+wind





Category: From The Bookshelf | Comments Off on Dancers in the Wind – Anne Coates
October 13

Angela Marsons and Caroline Mitchell

Last month’s visit to Bloody Scotland reminded me how much I enjoy having the opportunity to hear authors chatting about their books. Having grown up in the remote wilderness of the Scottish Highlands, I am very aware that not everyone has the opportunity to get to festivals or book launches – I hate the thought that readers may miss out on the chance to hear their favourite authors discussing their writing.

In a few short weeks Caroline Mitchell and Angela Marsons will both release their new novels. Caroline is introducing a new lead character, DS Ruby Preston, in Love You To Death.  Angela is bringing us the next instalment in the Kim Stone series: Blood Lines. It is fair to say that I am more than a little excited about having the chance to read both books.

I asked Angela and Caroline if they would be willing to let me listen in while they discussed their new books, I was thrilled that they agreed. I also had a burning question that I wanted to put to them both, I just had to find a way to get a word in edgeways….


C – I’m very curious to know if Kim is based on anyone in particular, or is she your alter-ego Angie?

A – Kim Stone isn’t based on anyone in particular but she had been in my ear for years.  I didn’t let her out because even in my own head she sounded rude and abrasive and I didn’t think anyone would like her.  Even I didn’t like her all that much.  But once I gave her control of the pencil I did realise she had some redeeming qualities.  I gave her free reign after trying to write about characters I thought publishers would like and after years of rejection just decided to write the book I wanted to write. Even after five books I still feel as though I’m getting to know her.

On that same note I absolutely adored Jennifer Knight.  I loved her dedication and strength but also her flaws and idiosyncrasies. I devoured all three Jennifer books and hope there might come a time when you bring her back. Is that a possibility and how long had she been living with you before you put her to paper?

C – Thanks Angie, I’m so glad that Kim Stone hung around for her story to be told. It’s amazing how our characters take on a life of their own. Jennifer had been living in my head since my own real life paranormal experiences while working in the police. I’d love to write another book one day, and I’ve left it open for her to return. At the moment I’m concentrating hard on my new DS Ruby Preston series. Brought up in the East End of London, she’s a real tough cookie. In a scene in book two, she learns how to shoot a gun. I’ve been itching to visit a firing range and try it out for real. What’s the most interesting thing you’ve done in the name of research? And don’t worry about the gun, you’re safe for now! 

caroline-mitchell2A – Well, I must say that Ruby Preston already sounds like my kind of main character and imagining you with a gun makes me happy (for once) that we live so many miles away from each other. I’m not sure about the most interesting thing I’ve done but certainly one of the funniest was only the other day when Julie and I were standing out on the decking with a piece of plastic roughly the same size as a shotgun trying to see how practical it would be to shoot yourself in the back of the neck.  I must say that research is one of my favourite parts of the process as I love to learn about things that interest and intrigue me.  Some writers hate the research part. How do you feel about it and how long do you normally take to research each book?

C – Ha! That made me laugh out loud. My husband sleeps with one eye open as it is, without me throwing a gun into the mix! It’s no stretch of the imagination to picture you and Julie on the decking play acting with your plastic gun. 🙂  Yes, I love research too, it’s so much fun. As we write for digital publishers, time is of the essence, so I’m limited with the amount of time I can spend on research for each book. I do spend a lot of time thinking about my characters though, they practically move in to my head for the duration of the book. I think that’s what’s nice about series; I get to spend time with the same characters that I’ve invested in. With stand alones, it can be hard to get them to move out when I’m done. You’ve written two stand alones prior to Kim, would you like to write any more, and if so, what genre?

blood-linesA – My two published stand alone novels (and others that shall never see the light of day) were stories that burned inside me.  They were subjects that I wanted to explore to see where they went and what I could learn about the subject matter.  I really enjoy analysing the mechanics of human relationships and the psychology behind what makes us act in certain ways. With the Kim Stone schedule of two books per year it would have to be a subject matter that  I just couldn’t let go of or I might be tempted to introduce the odd crime scene where it would be totally inappropriate.  Talking of different genres I recently read your psychological thriller Witness to be released later this year and absolutely LOVED it. The crossover from your previous work appears seamless to me but did you experience any problems while writing it?

C – The thought of some of your manuscripts languishing under your bed never seeing the light of day is a travesty. I think we need to start a petition to have them freed! I’ve heard such great things about Dear Mother and The Forgotten Woman. Thank you for your lovely words about Witness. I loved writing it. It was meant to be a straight thriller but as I began writing, stories of domestic abuse just flowed onto the page. I used to safeguard high risk victims of domestic abuse in the police, helping victims leave their abusive partners and begin their lives again. As the story formed, it portrayed that domestic abuse is as much about coercive control as it is violence, and it takes enormous strength to break away from such a relationship when someone has control of every facet of your life. It’s set between Frinton where I live, and Wales – near where you live. I see that many of your readers love your Black Country setting. What inspired you to use it as a setting for your Kim Stone books, and do you get many messages from readers about particular places that you use?

A – Before I wrote Silent Scream I had always tried to use both characters and settings that I thought publishers and agents would like even though they weren’t too familiar to me.  It was in a post-rejection fit of rage that I wrote the character I wanted to and used the area I know well. Traditional publishers rejected Silent Scream and said the setting and main character would never work. I get so many messages from local people thrilled at seeing places they know in the books but I also get messages from people wanting to know more about the Black Country.  I think the dark, industrial past of the area works well with Kim Stone’s character.  She would not do well in the Cotswolds, I fear!! It sounds to me that Ruby Preston is well represented by the setting you have chosen too.  Was that deliberate?

 C – I love this response, I can’t imagine Kim Stone anywhere else either. The dark broodiness of the Black Country setting suits her perfectly. I’ve gobbled up every one of your thrillers and it’s been a pleasure to watch her character progress throughout the series. As for me, well London has always been a source of fascination. Every time I visit I’m like a child, eyes wide in wonderment as I take in the sounds and smells of this amazing city. Such a diverse place makes for rich pickings when it comes to describing characters and scenery. Like you, my character seems to fit in with the setting and I can’t imagine them being based anywhere else. Fair play to you for having the dogged determination to keep going with your manuscript and writing the setting that struck a chord with you. What’s the one piece of advice you’d give to writers still trying to make it? 

 love-you-to-deathA – I also love visiting London but I find the roads around Covent Garden can be quite hazardous!! I think my one piece of advice above all else would be to trust your own instinct.  Once you enter the world of submissions there will be advice, comments, directions, improvements from a variety of sources and you have to know when to follow that advice.  There is no-one closer to the characters, story and journey than the writer and it can be easy to take everyone else’s opinions on board but you have to keep hold of the story that you wanted to tell in the first place.  Given your journey, what would you say to anyone following your path?

C – Ha! You wouldn’t be referring to the time we met in Covent Garden and I almost got you and Julie run over by a car would you? I blame Siri myself! I love your advice above and totally agree. It takes time to find your voice. I started off writing paranormal, then crime and now thrillers too. My advice is that it can be hard, so you’ll need to grow a thick hide, but just remember that this is meant to be fun too. Always try to keep your writing as an enjoyable process. It’s all about perspective. I count my blessings every day. Now Gordon I must apologise as we’ve not allowed you to get a word in edgeways! I hear you have a question for us …

G – There didn’t seem a good point to interrupt! But thanks Caroline…given that Jennifer’s investigations can take somewhat mysterious and supernatural twists, how do you think Jennifer and Kim would get on were their paths to cross on a case? 

C – That’s a really good question Gordon. Kim does not suffer fools gladly and I believe in past books she’s been skeptical when it comes to the paranormal. I think at first they would clash, but if they came together over the course of an investigation Jennifer would admire her investigative abilities and win her around. Things always seem to happen when Jennifer is near so if the evidence was right before Kim’s eyes, I think Kim would rub her hands together and say to Jennifer ‘right, what are we dealing with?’ Then crack on with the investigation as calm as you like. 

Tell me if I’m wrong Angie, what does Kim say? 

angela-marsonsA – I absolutely agree with Caroline’s assessment of how the two of them would respond to each other. Admittedly, Kim is definitely a ‘don’t believe it until I see it’ kind of girl but once someone has proven their ability or understanding of a subject about which she knows very little she would give them the benefit of the doubt and work with it. Like Jennifer she is all about moving forwards and doing everything necessary to solve a case so I think they would work it very well. I can even imagine Kim giving her a good-natured nickname like ‘mystic meg’ and Jennifer would probably do the same back.  Now, here’s a little secret – when I first wrote Silent Scream I wrote Kim with hint of unexplained intuition which I took out later as by that time I knew it didn’t fit with the rest of her sceptical character. 

Intuition is good and Kim has it in bucket loads. I think most good investigators have that initial gut feeling and put it to good use. It’s when the CPS is demanding evidence that it gets frustrating. I suppose it’s a matter of finding a balance. Here’s to a long a fruitful investigative career for our fictional characters. May they continue their crime busting efforts for long to come. *Raises glass. Cheers! 


I cannot thank Caroline and Angela enough for letting me eavesdrop on their conversation, I got the feeling that it had been running long before I joined them and will continue even longer.


 Love You to Death is published on 11 November and can be ordered here: https://www.amazon.co.uk/Love-You-Death-Absolutely-Detective-ebook/dp/B01LYPU1MW/ref=sr_1_3?ie=UTF8&qid=1476308879&sr=8-3&keywords=caroline+mitchell

You can find all of Caroline’s books through this link: https://www.amazon.co.uk/Caroline-Mitchell/e/B00GUUATPU/ref=dp_byline_cont_pop_ebooks_1

 Blood Lines is published on 4 November and can be ordered here: https://www.amazon.co.uk/Blood-Lines-Angela-Marsons/dp/1786810999/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1476309070&sr=1-1&keywords=angela+marsons

Angela’s books can be ordered on this link: https://www.amazon.co.uk/Angela-Marsons/e/B00J6D3914/ref=dp_byline_cont_pop_book_1

Category: From The Bookshelf | Comments Off on Angela Marsons and Caroline Mitchell