February 28

Aye Write: Know the Authors – ES Thomson

We are now into March and Aye Write is drawing ever closer.  I am teaming up with my good friend (well, if pressed she will admit to knowing who I am) Liz from Liz Loves Books to introduce some of the authors you can see at this year’s Aye Write festival.

Today I am delighted to introduce ES Thomson, author of Beloved Poison, a finalist for the 2016 McIlvanney Prize at Bloody Scotland. The questions were set by Liz so there are no mentions of pineapple pizza or serial killers – themes which have dominated my recent Q&A’s.  However, I *was* delighted to learn that ES Thomson is a former employee of James Thin Bookshops (as was yours truly). I am in denial over how long ago that must have been.

Over to Liz :

Tell us a little about your current novel, what readers can expect from it..

My current novel, Dark Asylum, is the second novel I’ve written starring cross-dressing apothecary Jem Flockhart.  Its set in 1850s London in a place called Angel Meadow Asylum.  One of the doctors is brutally murdered with his own phrenological head-measuring callipers, and his eyes and mouth stitched closed.  Jem and her pal Will Quartermain have to discover who did this, and why – especially important as the wrong person has been accused.  The story moves from the asylum, to the slums, to the gallows and the convict transport ships.  There are some new faces – Dr Golspie who smokes enough hash to turn himself mad; Dr Mothersole, who favours singing and dancing as a method of treating madness; Dr Rutherford who has a collection of 200 human skulls.  There are also some familiar faces, such as Mrs Roseplucker and Mr Jobber, the brothel keepers, and Mrs Speedicut, the drunken matron.  Readers can expect to enter the dark world of the nineteenth century asylum, the prison, and the convict ship, and find a mystery that keeps them turning the pages (I hope!)

ESThomson17 - eoincarey_0081Where did you grow up and what was family life like?

I grew up in Ormskirk, a small market town outside Liverpool, in the 1870s and 1980s.  I read a lot of novels while waiting for something to happen.  I remember cycling around the block a lot too.  I have two sisters (I am the middle one).  We all left home as soon as possible.

 Academic or creative at school?

Probably not much of either.  Creativity was nowhere to be found in Ormskirk Grammar School, and I was pretty average at all my school work due to laziness and being a big day-dreamer.  Nothing much interested me – apart from English and History.  I really liked those! 

First job you *really* wanted to do?

When I was 6 years old I wanted to be a bus conductor. I had a ticket stamper, a whistle and a cap and I was ready to go…  Apart from wanting to be a writer, it’s only really the bus conductor idea that’s grabbed me.

Do you remember the moment you first wanted to write?

I used to write a lot at primary school, including the classic poem “I am an Orange” and the short story “The Mystery of the False Teeth”.  Then I went to secondary school and gave it up due to lack of opportunity and encouragement.  I worked in Waterstones and James Thin’s Bookshop (which shows how old I am!) when I was a student and I read loads… I always secretly still wanted to write.  Then I got a job teaching business and marketing ethics at university.  It became a matter of “write … or die…”

Who are your real life heroes?

Mary Elizabeth Braddon (1835-1915), who wrote Lady Audrey’s Secret.  She had 6 children, and looked after 5 step-children while their mother was in an asylum.  She wrote more than 80 novels, and was not afraid to do awful things to her characters – including having a bigamous female character kill her husband by pushing him down a well!  Go Mary!

Funniest or most embarrassing situation you’ve found yourself in?

I once almost gassed some dogs and blew up a guest house. Not sure whether that’s funny or embarrassing. It’s probably neither, but is just awful.

DIY expert or phone a friend?

I try anything!  My repairs have been described by admirers of my handiwork as “crude, but effective”.   Duct tape is my favourite medium.

Sun worshipper or night owl?

Both – if possible. I’m generally very tired.

A book that had you in tears.

The last book that had that sort of effect on me was the beginning of Doug Johnston’s The Jump, which I read last year.  It was about a woman who lost her son through suicide – the chapters of the book that addressed how she felt were cleverly done. I have two sons. I could imagine nothing worse than losing either of them.

A book that made you laugh out loud.

George MacDonald Fraser’s Flashman always made me laugh.

One piece of life advice you give everyone

I don’t give anyone advice unless they specifically ask.  Generally speaking though, I think “shut up and get on with it” might work well for many (including myself).


ES Thomson alongside Diana Bretherick will be discussing Ripping Victorian Yarns at Glasgow’s Mitchell Library on 18th March at 3pm. Tickets HERE



Beloved PoisonThe object I drew out was dusty and mildewed, and blotched with dark rust-coloured stains. It smelt of time and decay, sour, like old books and parchments. The light from the chapel’s stained glass window blushed red upon it, and upon my hands, as if the thing itself radiated a bloody glow.

Ramshackle and crumbling, trapped in the past and resisting the future, St Saviour’s Infirmary awaits demolition. Within its stinking wards and cramped corridors the doctors bicker and fight. Ambition, jealousy and hatred seethe beneath the veneer of professional courtesy. Always an outsider, and with a secret of her own to hide, apothecary Jem Flockhart observes everything, but says nothing.

And then six tiny coffins are uncovered, inside each a handful of dried flowers and a bundle of mouldering rags. When Jem comes across these strange relics hidden inside the infirmary’s old chapel, her quest to understand their meaning prises open a long-forgotten past – with fatal consequences.

In a trail that leads from the bloody world of the operating theatre and the dissecting table to the notorious squalor of Newgate and the gallows, Jem’s adversary proves to be both powerful and ruthless. As St Saviour’s destruction draws near, the dead are unearthed from their graves whilst the living are forced to make impossible choices. And murder is the price to be paid for the secrets to be kept.

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February 27

Say Nothing – Brad Parks

Say NothingOn a normal Wednesday afternoon, Judge Scott Sampson is preparing to pick up his six-year-old twins for their weekly swim. His wife Alison texts him with a change of plan: she has to take them to the doctor instead. So Scott heads home early. But when Alison arrives back later, she is alone – no Sam, no Emma – and denies any knowledge of the text . . .
The phone then rings: an anonymous voice tells them that the Judge must do exactly what he is told in an upcoming drug case and, most importantly, they must ‘say nothing’.

So begins this powerful, tense breakout thriller about a close-knit young family plunged into unimaginable horror. As a twisting game of cat and mouse ensues, they know that one false move could lose them their children for ever.
Hugely suspenseful – with its fascinating insight into the US judicial system and its politics of influence and nepotism – Say Nothing is, above all, the poignant story of the terror these parents face, and their stop-at-nothing compulsion to get their children back.


My Thanks to Lauren at Faber & Faber for my review copy.


When I get asked what book I would recommend, Say Nothing is now my first answer. I have just spent the last two days pouring over this thriller, devouring every word and I cannot say too many good things about it. Let me save you a skip to the foot of the page…Say Nothing gets an epic 5 stars from me.

<And breathe>

We meet Scott Sampson. He is a judge with a good reputation. He has a happy home life, a loving family and life is grand. But things are about to change.  Scott receives a text message from his wife telling him she is taking their young twins to an appointment with the doctor and that he need not collect them from school. No cause for concern, just a change to their normal routine – until Scott’s wife returns home without the kids and they realise something has gone wrong. As the couple try to make sense of their conflicting understanding of the afternoon’s events the phone rings and their world is turned upside down.

Their twins have been kidnapped. Further instruction will follow in due course but in the meantime neither Scott or Alison can let anyone know what has happened – SAY NOTHING.

Scott has to continue going to work and hearing cases so in addition to a tense kidnap story we are treated to an engaging courtroom drama too. I have not read very many legal thrillers of late and I realise that I miss them – Say Nothing handles the switches between courthouse and domestic drama brilliantly and both elements to the story play out fabulously well.

The story zips along at a fast pace and, with the constant worry over what may happen to two helpless kids at the hands of their abductors, you find that you just have to keep reading.

The book asks how far you would go to protect your children and Scott and Alison will be pushed to the limit. Doubts and suspicion of family, friends and colleagues will threaten to overwhelm them and events outwith their control will seem to conspire against them and try to thwart the safe return of the twins.

Gradually it becomes clear exactly why the kidnap was arranged and Scott will become increasingly pressured into following orders to keep his children safe. But if a high profile judge starts behaving erratically then people will start to notice. How long can Scott maintain the façade of normality when someone else is calling the shots and seems to know his every move?

Brilliant, brilliant storytelling which I cannot recommend enough. I mention it was a 5 star read?


Say Nothing is published on 2 March 2017 by Faber & Faber and you can order a copy here.

Follow the Say Nothing tour

SAY NOTHING_blog tour graphic



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February 24

Aye Write Getting to Know the Authors: Abir Mukherjee

The countdown to Aye Write 2017 is well and truly underway so I am teaming up with the lovely Liz from Liz Loves Books to introduce a few of the authors who will be entertaining us this year.

First up with me is Abir Mukherjee.

Abir grew up in Hamilton and Bothwell, while I am from Motherwell. Local geographers will know that we were separated by a big park, Abir on the posh “South” side while I was on the less glam “North” side. When he appears at Aye Write in March, Abir and I will be separated by a big road. He will be in Glasgow’s gorgeous Mitchell Library, I will be in the building across the street (at my desk for the day job) frantically getting my work finished so I can come along to hear him speak.

Here is Abir chatting with Liz…

Tell us a little about your current novel, what readers can expect from it.

Well there’s a dead Scotsman on page one and it sort of carries on from there.

Seriously though, it’s called A RISING MAN and it’s set in Calcutta in 1919 and tells the story of Captain Sam Wyndham, an ex-Scotland Yard detective, who’s come to India after surviving the Great War. Within a fortnight of arriving in the city, he’s faced with his first case – a high ranking British official found with his throat slit and note stuffed in his mouth warning the British to quit India. In addition to solving this apparent assassination, Wyndham and his officers have to investigate the death of a railway guard, murdered during an attack on a train where nothing was stolen.

Where did you grow up and what was family life like?

I grew up just down the road from here in Hamilton and Bothwell. Deepest, darkest, Lanarkshire, they call it. Family life was…odd but fun. At the time, I think we were the only Asian family in the village and so we were always considered somewhat exotic – at least by Uddingston standards. Still, I can’t think of a better place to grow up than the West of Scotland.

I must have done something pretty bad in a previous life though, as nowadays I live in London.

Academic or creative at school?

I’m Asian. What do you think?

First job you *really* wanted to do?

Mum tried to brainwash me into becoming a doctor, but that never really appealed to me (and I don’t think she’s ever forgiven me).  The sad truth is that at the age of twelve or thirteen, I watched a film called The Secret of My Success. It starred Michael J Fox as a 23 year-old financial whizz kid. Of course he gets the girl, the fancy job and all the trimmings. From that day on I wanted a career in finance. It was only when I was in my twenties and working in mergers and acquisitions that I realized that like ain’t like the movies.

Do you remember the moment you first wanted to write?

I can’t recall the exact moment. I’ve always had a hankering to write for as long as I can remember. What I can tell you is the moment when I decided not to write (at least not for a long while). It was in my sixth form English class (I was the only student in our school who did sixth year studies English that year) and I got on really well with my English teacher. I still remember him telling me not to do a degree in English at university, as I’d only end up teaching snotty kids in a school somewhere. So I did economics instead and wasted twenty years of my life.

Who are your real life heroes?

Difficult one. I’ve not really thought about it. Probably, Gandhi, Roger Federer and Pat and Greg Kane from the band, Hue & Cry.

Funniest or most embarrassing situation you’ve found yourself in?

Recently? Having to explain the difference between ‘haggis’ and ‘Huggies’ to a shop assistant in Waitrose, Canary Wharf, making it clear that I didn’t want to eat nappies.

DIY expert or phone a friend?

Definitely DIY expert. I have two power drills and so much other DIY equipment gathering dust. What normally happens is that I’ll attempt to fix something, like a leaking sink, and then be forced to call a plumber when the kitchen explodes.

Sun worshipper or night owl?

Nights out in a hot climate.

A book that had you in tears.

I can’t actually think of one. Alas I come from a generation of emotionally stunted Glaswegian men who can’t cry about anything other than the football.

In terms of a book that had the greatest emotional impact on me, I’d say The Namesake by Jhumpa Lahiri. It tells the story of a Bengali family who emigrate to the United States. There were so many parallels between that family’s experiences and my own that it just floored me. It was the first book I read that encapsulated the experiences of my life.

How To Be Really InterestingA book that made you laugh out loud.

I’m tempted to say, ‘How to be Really Interesting’ by Steve Davis. I was given it as a present when I was fourteen, but it’s still funny.

In terms of proper books, it would have to be Douglas Adams’ ‘Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy’.

One piece of life advice you give everyone

Don’t listen to me. If I knew what I was doing, I’d be sitting on a beach right now, sipping Margaritas.


You can catch Abir at Aye Write on and tickets are available through this link:




A Rising Ma

Captain Sam Wyndham, former Scotland Yard detective, is a new arrival to Calcutta. Desperately seeking a fresh start after his experiences during the Great War, Wyndham has been recruited to head up a new post in the police force. But with barely a moment to acclimatise to his new life or to deal with the ghosts which still haunt him, Wyndham is caught up in a murder investigation that will take him into the dark underbelly of the British Raj.

A senior official has been murdered, and a note left in his mouth warns the British to quit India: or else. With rising political dissent and the stability of the Raj under threat, Wyndham and his two new colleagues – arrogant Inspector Digby and British-educated, but Indian-born Sergeant Banerjee, one of the few Indians to be recruited into the new CID – embark on an investigation that will take them from the luxurious parlours of wealthy British traders to the seedy opium dens of the city.

The start of an atmospheric and enticing new historical crime series.

You can order A Rising Man here



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February 24

Stasi Wolf – David Young

Stasi WolfHow do you solve a murder when you can’t ask any questions?

East Germany, 1975. Karin Müller, sidelined from the murder squad in Berlin, jumps at the chance to be sent south to Halle-Neustadt, where a pair of infant twins have gone missing.

But Müller soon finds her problems have followed her. Halle-Neustadt is a new town – the pride of the communist state – and she and her team are forbidden by the Stasi from publicising the disappearances, lest they tarnish the town’s flawless image.

Meanwhile, in the eerily nameless streets and tower blocks, a child snatcher lurks, and the clock is ticking to rescue the twins alive . . .


My thanks to Emily at Zaffre for my review copy which I received through Netgalley

Karin Müller returns and I couldn’t be happier. Last year I had the opportunity to read David Young’s debut novel Stasi Child and I loved it. The story was set in 1970’s East Berlin and was a refreshingly different spin on a police procedural story.

Now Müller returns in Stasi Wolf and we find that the events in Stasi Child have resulted in her being sidelined by her department. She is frustrated by the lack of opportunities she is given to rebuild her career and finds herself interviewing petty criminals (necessary work for the State but a task well beneath her skill level). NB I should highlight that Stasi Wolf can be read as a stand-alone novel and it is not necessary to have read Stasi Child first…though I would absolutely recommend that you read both.

The disappearance of twin babies in the new town of Halle-Neustadt gives Karin a chance to head up a new investigation team and start to rebuild her career – not that she will have much option in turning down the request she investigates, that’s not how it works in East Berlin! Karin heads to Halle-Neustadt but she will find the experience rather challenging; the geography of the new town is somewhat unique (with just a single street in the whole town having a street name). There is also a tricky problem to overcome, keeping the good name of the town intact means she cannot publicise the fact that she is investigating a double kidnapping – so how can she be expected to make any enquiries?

There are a number of flashback moments in the story which take us back some 10 years prior to Müller’s investigation. While it is not immediately clear why this jump is being made (obviously it will become clear)  the ‘quirky’ characters that we follow made me want to keep reading to discover their relevance.

Once again David Young has crafted an engaging story which I found utterly compelling and wholly absorbing. I know nothing of 1970’s Germany but the world was expertly woven around me as I read Stasi Wolf. The constant awareness that Karin’s every move could be under scrutiny by the State gives a detective thriller the additional feel of reading a spy novel.

Müller is a great lead character and we get to see her really developed in this novel. Her private life is explored to give her life beyond her job and we get to learn something of her childhood and see some events which may have shaped her into the woman she has become.

David Young can tell a cracking story, Stasi Wolf should be on your reading list.


Stasi Wolf is published by Zaffre and is available now. You can order a copy here: https://www.amazon.co.uk/Stasi-Wolf-Oberleutnant-Karin-M%C3%BCller/dp/1785760688/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1487894341&sr=1-1&keywords=stasi+wolf

David has provided some fascinating insights into some of the background and actual events which made their way into Stasi Wolf.  If you follow back through the tour dates you will be richly rewarded

Stasi Wolf Tour

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February 22

Cursed – Thomas Enger

CursedWhen Hedda Hellberg fails to return from a retreat in Italy, where she has recently been grieving for her dead father, her husband discovers that her life is tangled in mystery.

Hedda never left Oslo, the retreat has no record of her and, what’s more, she appears to be connected to the murder of an old man, gunned down on the first day of the hunting season in the depths of the Swedish forests…


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

Housekeeping first – this is the 4th book in a series but the first that I have read. In no way did this prove problematic or impact upon my enjoyment of the story. Everything I needed to know was covered and (as I don’t know what I don’t know) I didn’t feel I was missing out on anything.

Journalist Nora Klemetsen is working on a story about a missing woman – Hedda Hellberg.  She was meant to be in Italy but failed to return from her trip, enquiries into where she may be cast doubt over whether Hedda actually left for Italy and suddenly there is suspicion over whether anyone really knew the truth about how Hedda was living her life.

Nora’s investigations will lead her to cross paths with her ex-husband (our main protagonist Henning Juul). They are both investigating the same case and it was fun to see how they had very contrasting approaches – an odd couple and their shared history made for a fascinating introduction to their characters for me.

Cursed was one of those books I just couldn’t put down. A gripping thriller, plenty of twists and great characters to follow on the adventure. Dark, emotive and wonderfully written to keep this reader on the edge of his seat.

I must also give a mention to Kari Dickson who worked on the translation of the original book – a fantastic job was done. Part of the appeal of Cursed for me was the skilled use of language in building up the suspense. The striking opening chapter which gripped me from the first page was so perfectly described I could almost feel myself drawn into that woodland walk.


Cursed is published by Orenda Books and can be ordered here: https://www.amazon.co.uk/Cursed-Henning-Juul-Thomas-Enger/dp/191063364X/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1487758737&sr=8-1&keywords=cursed+thomas+enger


Follow the tour:

Cursed blog tour

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February 22

Cross Purpose – Claire MacLeary

Cross PurposeWhen Maggie Laird’s disgraced ex-cop husband suddenly dies, her humdrum suburban life is turned upside down. With the bills mounting, she takes on his struggling detective agency, enlisting the help of neighbour Big Wilma. And so an unlikely partnership is born.

But the discovery of a crudely mutilated body soon raises the stakes… and Maggie and Wilma are drawn into an unknown world of Aberdeen’s sink estates, clandestine childminding and dodgy dealers. Cross Purpose is surprising, gritty, sometimes darkly humorous a tale combining police corruption, gangs and murder with a paean to friendship, loyalty and how women of a certain age can beat the odds.


My thanks to Sara of Saraband Books for a review copy of Cross Purpose


We first meet Maggie Laird when she is at her lowest possible ebb. Family life has been challenging of late as her husband had been forced to leave his job with the police after allegations of corruption. After scrabbling to make a success of a private investigator business we learn that he has died and left Maggie and their children with a pile of debt and no means to support themselves.

When you are not even left with a good name Maggie is determined to seek justice for her late husband – she knows the corruption charges are not to be believed. However, we realise that Maggie suffers from a lack of self confidence and it is going to take a monumental effort to convince herself that she is capable of gathering the evidence she needs to clear her husband’s name. Step forward Wilma…Maggie’s neighbour and she has more than enough confidence for both of them. The two women are like chalk and cheese but can they combine their talents to overcome the challenges which will face them?

In Cross Purpose Maggie and Wilma will visit some of Aberdeen’s least desirable areas and cross paths with a variety of unpleasant characters. There were some unexpectedly dark topics cropping up in Cross Purpose and it made for uncomfortable reading at times (but those are the stories I enjoy…the edgy and thought provoking ones).

It was refreshing to read a novel where the two principle characters are such contrasting personalities and seemingly finding it difficult to adjust to working together.  Their unlikely partnership made this a rewarding read and seeing Wilma’s confidence grow and her self-assurance return was pleasing. But success comes at a price and over-confidence can be dangerous so those plot twists caused me some angst.

With lashings of authentic Aberdeen and a fast paced plot keeping the pages turning, Cross Purpose was a blast to read and is highly recommended.



Cross Purpose is published by Saraband Books and will be released on 23 February. You can order a copy here: https://www.amazon.co.uk/Cross-Purpose-Claire-MacLeary/dp/1910192643/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1487715826&sr=8-1&keywords=cross+purpose

Category: From The Bookshelf | Comments Off on Cross Purpose – Claire MacLeary
February 20

Ragdoll – Daniel Cole – Release Week Update

RagdollA body is discovered with the dismembered parts of six victims stitched together, nicknamed by the press as the ‘Ragdoll’. Assigned to the shocking case are Detective William ‘Wolf’ Fawkes, recently reinstated to the London Met, and his former partner Detective Emily Baxter.

The ‘Ragdoll Killer’ taunts the police by releasing a list of names to the media, and the dates on which he intends to murder them. With six people to save, can Fawkes and Baxter catch a killer when the world is watching their every move?




My thanks to team at Trapeze who provided a review copy through Netgalley

Having shared my original review of Ragdoll a few weeks ago I bring a slightly updated take on the book and join the blog tour as this is the final countdown to release day….

Detective William Fawkes (aka Wolf) had put his heart and soul into capturing a killer. But when the jury returns its verdict, Wolf’s emotions boil over and he attacks his chief suspect beating him to within an inch of his life.

Spin forward a few years and Wolf is back in active service. His life has been turned upside down by the events in that courtroom, however, fate has conspired to give Wolf a fresh chance at salvaging his career. But Wolf cannot just shake off the baggage that he carries and someone is clearly not keen to let Wolf move on, a killer has decided to pit their skills up against that of the notorious “Wolf” Fawkes and if Wolf cannot identify a murderer then he may well become a victim too.

The cover blurb (0utlined above) gives an early indication that Daniel Cole is out to shock his readers with a dark tale of cop vs killer. I’d say he does a pretty good job too – Ragdoll should appeal to readers of Paul Finch and Katerina Diamond…you are never fully confident that anyone in the story is “untouchable” and everyone is in peril.

For readers who also enjoy tv police procedurals this is a story which you will feel is made for dramatization.  And that is my only (minor) quibble with Ragdoll – as much as I enjoyed the story it felt like reading the “book of the film”.  It seemed to have a very structured ebb and flow of big events: a build up to a cliff-hanger incident, resolve it, start a build up to the next one, resolve it. This is normal in all action/thriller books but in the case of Ragdoll they were very noticeable.

Style issues aside Ragdoll is a great read, I liked Fawkes who was a very engaging lead character. Daniel Cole delivers some really nasty twists and a couple of cracking “WTF” moments which had me re-reading paragraphs as I tried to get my head around what had just unexpectedly unfolded.

Be prepared to hear a lot more about Ragdoll through 2017, it’s going to be a biggie.


Ragdoll will publish on 23 February 2017 and is available to pre-order here: https://www.amazon.co.uk/Ragdoll-Daniel-Cole/dp/1409168743/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1487634296&sr=1-1&keywords=ragdoll+daniel+cole





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February 20

Desperation Road – Michael Farris Smith

Desperation RoadFor eleven years the clock has been ticking for Russell Gaines as he sat in Parchman penitentiary in the Mississippi Delta. His time now up, and believing his debt paid, he returns home only to discover that revenge lives and breathes all around.

On the day of his release, a woman named Maben and her young daughter trudge along the side of the interstate under the punishing summer sun. Desperate and exhausted, the pair spend their last dollar on a motel room for the night, a night that ends with Maben running through the darkness holding a pistol, and a dead deputy sprawled across the road in the glow of his own headlights.

With dawn, destinies collide, and Russell is forced to decide whose life he will save – his own or that of the woman and child?


My thanks to Anne C for the opportunity to join the Desperation Road blog tour.

Russell Gaines is just out of prison. Having served his time he is making his way home – smalltown USA. We don’t immediately know what Russell has done, however, someone clearly has not forgotten his crime as on reaching town he is recognised and set upon by two men who beat him up.

Elsewhere a young woman is walking down a long stretch of interstate under the heat of a blazing sun. She has her daughter with her and the two are wilting in the heat. It is not clear where they have come from and they don’t seem to have a destination in mind but they are struggling and their desperation is apparent to the reader.

On eventually finding respite in a motel the mother spots an opportunity to earn some cash by providing comfort to truck drivers while her daughter sleeps – needs must.  However, events take an unexpected turn and she falls foul of the police but a trip to the station is not what this officer has in mind!

Two troubled souls are going to come together and in Michael Farris Smith’s Desperation Road there is a feeling that not everyone is going to come through the story and find a happy ending waiting for them.

As is often the way of a story set in a small town, the dynamics of the characters and the relationships they forge are the driving force behind the tale and Desperation Road is no different. Russell is a really likeable character, we learn why he was imprisoned, how those around him had to adjust and we see him step back into the space he left – only to find that everything has changed and moved on without him.  It is powerful reading at times and when his outlook was looking less than optimistic I was rooting for him to find a solution that would make his situation less bleak.

Desperation Road’s enjoyment is very much in the telling of the story.  It is paced just about perfectly for a tale of small town USA.  The story switches nicely between Russell and Maben (the mother of the young girl), their backstory is built up well and we find how their destiny will be inextricably linked. Very clever and entertainingly told.


Desperation Road is published by No Exit Press on 23 February 2017

You can order a copy here: https://www.amazon.co.uk/Desperation-Road-compelling-literary-crime-ebook/dp/B01N52ILFQ/ref=sr_tnr_p_1_362920031_1_twi_kin_2?ie=UTF8&qid=1487538873&sr=8-1&keywords=Desperation+Road++Michael+Farris+Smith


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February 18

Cover Reveal: Tag You’re Dead – Douglas Skelton

Last year Douglas Skelton introduced us to Dominic Queste in the fantastic The Dead Don’t Boogie. It was one of my favourite reads and was included in my Top 5 Scottish Books of 2016.

In just a few short weeks Queste will return in Tag You’re Dead and Douglas has entrusted three starry eyed bloggers to give everyone the first glimpse at the cover. Play the fanfare music….

Tag You're Dead


And a sneaky look at the cover blurb too:

Maverick investigator Dominic Queste is on the trail of missing butcher, Sam Price. But he soon uncovers a killer with a taste for games. What began as a simple favour for his girlfriend quickly descends into a battle for survival against an enemy who has no qualms about turning victims into prime cuts.

Amidst a twisted game of cat and mouse, suspicious coppers, vicious crooks and a seemingly random burglary, Queste has to keep his wits about him. Or he might just find himself on the butcher’s block.

Tag You’re Dead is published on 27th April by Sarabrand Books but I will be trying to bribe Douglas with offers of coffee and cake to come back and chat about the book before then – watch this space.

Now head over to visit my two starry-eyed buddies and catch their take on today’s reveal:

Noelle at CrimeBookJunkie: https://crimebookjunkie.co.uk/

Sharon at ChapterInMyLife: https://chapterinmylife.wordpress.com/


Category: Blog Tours | Comments Off on Cover Reveal: Tag You’re Dead – Douglas Skelton
February 15

City of Drowned Souls – Chris Lloyd

City of Drowned SoulsWhen a child disappears, the clock starts ticking

Detective Elisenda Domènech has had a tough few years. The loss of her daughter and a team member; the constant battles against colleagues and judges; the harrowing murder investigations… But it’s about to get much worse.

When the son of a controversial local politician goes missing at election time, Elisenda is put on the case. They simply must solve it. Only the team also have to deal with a spate of horrifically violent break-ins. People are being brutalised in their own homes and the public demands answers.

Could there be a connection? Why is nobody giving a straight answer? And where is Elisenda’s key informant, apparently vanished off the face of the earth? With the body count threatening to increase and her place in the force on the line, the waters are rising…

Be careful not to drown.


My thanks to Faye Rogers for my review copy and the opportunity to join the blog tour

My first introduction to the Elisenda Domènech books by Chris Lloyd and I am in a pretty happy place. I have a new series of books I can look forward to reading and (very importantly) beginning the series with this, the 3rd book, has not been a confusing or spoiler-filled affair.

There was loads going on in City of Drowned Souls so it was a richly rewarding read. Elisenda is investigating a series of violent burglaries when a tip-off which could have broken the case falls through. Tempers flare and to keep her position Elisenda has to attend therapist sessions – her colleagues fearing she is not contending well with the death of her daughter some years earlier.

Elsewhere the child of a local politician disappears. The family reaction is not typical but with an election just days away and the child’s mother in the depths of a fiercely fought campaign it is difficult for the police to get a meaningful take on what may have led to the young boy’s disappearance.

City of Drowned Souls is full of marvellous detail about Catalan politics, the locations are expertly described giving a real sense of location. Food habits, recipe ideas and dozens of subtle observations made it so very obvious that Chris Lloyd knows this part of the world very well – the detail makes the story so much more vivid and real.

Nicely paced, full of puzzles (with plenty of red herrings) and a few sinister elements which were great fun to see uncovered. City of Drowned Souls comes highly recommended and I look forward to catching up with the other novels in the series.


City of Drowned Souls is  published by Canelo and is available now.  You can order a copy here: https://www.amazon.co.uk/gp/product/B01N7Y2NDN

CODS blog tour 2

Category: Blog Tours, From The Bookshelf | Comments Off on City of Drowned Souls – Chris Lloyd