November 30

The Deaths of December – Susi Holliday

The hunt is on for a serial killer in this thrilling festive crime novel

It looks like a regular advent calendar.

Until DC Becky Greene starts opening doors…and discovers a crime scene behind almost every one.

The police hope it’s a prank. Because if it isn’t, a murderer has just surfaced – someone who’s been killing for twenty years.

But why now? And why has he sent it to this police station?

As the country relaxes into festive cheer, Greene and DS Eddie Carmine must race against time to catch the killer. Because there are four doors left, and four murders will fill them…

It’s shaping up to be a deadly little Christmas.

 

My thanks to Mulholland Books for the chance to join the Blog Tour

As we drew ever closer to the end of 2017 I have seen dozens and dozens of Christmas novels being discussed and reviewed. None appealed to me. Crime thrillers tend not to be seasonal affairs and I don’t enjoy books like The Cozy Gingerbread-Latte Cafe on Mistletoe Lane (in Cornwall).

You do get plenty of crime books set in the winter months, the dark wet conditions seem perfect for masking foul deeds. However, there are not many crime novels which focus the plot around Christmas.

My Christmas book apathy soon changed when I first heard about Susi Holliday’s The Deaths of December.  Once I had read the outline (as above) I could not wait for the chance to read TDoD. The police receive a homemade advent calendar. Behind the doors is a photograph of a murder scene – some are immediately identifiable to DS Eddie Carmine as they are investigations he as been working on.  Is he being pranked by his colleagues? How would a stranger access what seem to be crime scene photographs? Only the police should have pictures of multiple murders no individual could assemble such a macabre collection of images – unless that individual was present at each murder. Could there be a serial killer at work?

Caramine and his colleague DC Becky Green must first try to establish the authenticity of the pictures, then identify where and when they were taken. As they start to pull together more information it becomes obvious they are facing a challenge quite unlike anything they have encountered before.  It makes for totally engrossing reading!

I have enjoyed each of Susi’s previous novels and in 4 years of blogging she has consistently retained my vote for the best author at capturing the essence of characters. In her Banktoun Trilogy each character was wonderfully realised and that remains the case in The Deaths of December. Every person in TDoD feels important to the plot, their contributions seem natural and the dialogue between characters has an authenticity that many writes do not seem to be able to capture. These believable/realistic characters make it so much easier to fall into the story and be taken along with events – nothing seems forced or jarred.

Narration is handled by multiple characters and each contributor seemed to have a personal voice. The story flows really well and the moving viewpoint kept me turning pages. I do love a serial killer story and this one is a cracker (no Christmas pun intended).

With Christmas looming The Deaths of December should be required reading for the cold winter evenings. Loved this a lot and I am sure you will too.

 

The Deaths of December is published by Mulholland Books and is available in paperback and digital format.  You can order a copy here: https://www.amazon.co.uk/Deaths-December-cracking-Christmas-thriller/dp/1473659361/ref=sr_1_1_twi_pap_2?ie=UTF8&qid=1511988244&sr=8-1&keywords=susi+holliday

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June 16

Hotel Arcadia – Sunny Singh

Hotel Arcadia 2Sam is a war photographer famous for her hauntingly beautiful pictures of the dead. After a particularly gruelling assignment, she checks into an expensive hotel. Unfortunately she has chosen the exact moment terrorists attack the hotel.

Abhi, the hotel manager, begs her to stay quiet and stay put. Abhi has never wanted to be a hero; a disappointment to his army father and brother. He thought he’d come to a safe haven at the hotel, a place where he could be himself. Now stuck inside the sealed-off manager’s office in the middle of a terrorist attack, he is desperately trying to keep those still alive safe. His lover Dieter is amongst the hostages in the bar and the photographer Sam, refusing to stay in her room, is roaming through the hotel taking pictures, potentially coming face to face with the terrorists at any moment.

 

My thanks to Sunny for a review copy of her beautiful book.

Hotel Arcadia is a tense read. From the outset the two key players, Sam and Abhi are in constant danger of being discovered and killed by the terrorists that have taken over the luxury Hotel Arcadia.

We read of guests gunned down in cold blood and explosives being rigged around the hotel to prevent the security forces storming the building. The guests that were fortunate to escape the initial attack have locked themselves in their rooms hiding from the terrorists that roam the corridors leaving carnage in their wake.

Sam is a war photographer who has experienced the worst of humanity, capturing images of the victims of atrocities around the world. She is relaxing at Hotel Arcadia when the attack hits. Using the skills learned in combat zones Sam will leave the confines of her room to capture the images of death within the luxurious slaughterhouse.

Abhi is a hotel employee. He has access to the security cameras within the hotel and can contact any of the guests hidden in the rooms to provide reassurance and keep them informed of the ongoing danger. Abhi can also communicate with the security forces assembling outside the hotel and keep them appraised of the makeshift defences the gunmen are building (and update them with news of further deaths).

Sam and Abhi are in contact with each other and Abhi can give Sam some guidance as to when it may be safe to leave her room, where the gunmen are within the building and also guide her towards food. However, Abhi also wants a favour from Sam and it is one which will cut him to the core to ask for.

This is an outstanding read, the juxtaposition of war zone and luxury hotel creates such powerful images. I loved the tension that Sunny Singh generated each time Sam left the safety of her room it had me frantically flicking the pages urging her to get her back to safety.

A gripping, thoughtful read and one that will remain long in my memory.

 

Hotel Arcadia is published by Quartet Books and is available now in Hardback and digital format

Sunny Singh is on Twitter: @sunnysingh_nw3

And online at http://www.sunnysingh.net/

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