February 5

The Lost Village – Neil Spring

 

The remote village of Imber – remote, lost and abandoned. The outside world hasn’t been let in since soldiers forced the inhabitants out, much to their contempt.

But now, a dark secret threatens all who venture near. Everyone is in danger, and only Harry Price can help. Reluctantly reunited with his former assistant Sarah Grey, he must unlock the mystery of Imber, and unsurface the secrets someone thought were long buried. But will Sarah’s involvement be the undoing of them both?

 

My thanks to Quercus Books for my review copy which I received through Netgalley

Last year I reviewed The Ghost Hunters which introduced us to Harry Price and Sarah Gray. Harry investigated paranormal activities and spent most of his time debunking frauds and opportunists. He and Sarah were invited to Borley Rectory (England’s most haunted house) and, if you have not read The Ghost Hunters, then you can find out in that book what occurred.

If you have read The Ghost Hunters then it may help to understand that The Lost Village takes place during events in The Ghost Hunters. There are some spoilers over how Sarah and Price’s friendship has twisted through the time they have known each other but both books are easily enjoyed as stand-alone tales.

The Lost Village in the title is Imber. A village standing on Salisbury Plain and a settlement which was cleared by order of the British Army to allow them to use Salisbury Plain for their operations.  As it would not be safe for the Imber residents to remain in their homes they were made to leave – relocated against their will – and are only permitted to return one day each year.

The annual “return” day is fast approaching but the army are worried about the safety of the residents as there are strange things taking place in Imber. Things which they cannot rationally explain. Sarah Gray is approached to visit Imber by an old acquaintance, she is asked to persuade Harry Price to visit the village with her…his skills are required.

Neil Spring is rather excellent at building up the tension in his story telling and I found The Lost Village atmospheric and frequently chilling. Good supernatural thrillers have been too thin on the ground of late but I’d highly recommend Neil Spring’s books; he hits the perfect balance of great story and creepy chills.

 

The Lost Village is published by Quercus and is available in paperback and digital format. You can order a copy here: https://www.amazon.co.uk/Lost-Village-Haunting-Page-Turner-Hunters-ebook/dp/B06XYGXD75/ref=asap_bc?ie=UTF8

 

 

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January 9

The Girl Before – JP Delaney

the-girl-beforeEnter the world of One Folgate Street and discover perfection . . . but can you pay the price?

Jane stumbles on the rental opportunity of a lifetime: the chance to live in a beautiful ultra-minimalist house designed by an enigmatic architect, on condition she abides by a long list of exacting rules. After moving in, she discovers that a previous tenant, Emma, met a mysterious death there – and starts to wonder if her own story will be a re-run of the girl before. As twist after twist catches the reader off guard, Emma’s past and Jane’s present become inexorably entwined in this tense, page-turning portrayal of psychological obsession.

 

My thanks to Quercus for my review copy which was received through Netgalley

At the tail end of last year I did a preview of The Girl Before as I had been given the opportunity to read a sample of the opening chapters. I was really excited by how the book opened, it had developed a sinister twin timeline narrative, two characters were introduced both keen to rent the same property and both very similar in nature and appearance.

The property in question was One Folgate Street.  An unique house designed by an award winning minimalist architect who placed many stipulations and caveats on the property rental agreement which made the house very hard for prospective tenants to display their suitability. Jane is keen to take on the lease and bends over backwards to meet the rental caveats but once she moves into the property she learns that the house has a dark history and that her suitability may not just have depended upon the answers she provided on the pre-rental agreement questionnaire.

As I indicated above, this book had a cracking opening and a fabulous premise but I found that half-way through the story it lost me a tad. Events took a turn away from sinister and embraced an unexpected “50 Shades” feel. By the time I reached the end of the book I was able to appreciate why it all got a bit hot and heavy in places but it didn’t sit comfortably with me at the time.

The mystery of One Folgate Street was enough to keep me reading and I was quite pleased with the endgame (and a couple of the surprises which JP Delaney worked in to the final third of the story). Having seen mixed reactions from other readers over the last few days I suspect that this will be a story which you will either fully embrace or one which will leave you slightly underwhelmed. It is being turned into a motion picture with uber director Ron Howard taking control so you can expect to hear a good bit about The Girl Before in the coming months.

I am glad I had the chance to read it before I heard any spoilers and I think it has enough of a thrill factor to do well…but not for me this one.

 

The Girl Before releases on 26 January in hardback and digital format. It is published by Quercus Books.  You can pre-order a copy here: https://www.amazon.co.uk/Girl-Before-JP-Delaney/dp/1786480298/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1483919870&sr=8-1&keywords=The+girl+before

 

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January 3

The Blood Card – Elly Griffiths

the-blood-cardElizabeth II’s coronation is looming, but the murder of their wartime commander, Colonel Cartwright, spoils the happy mood for DI Edgar Stephens and magician Max Mephisto. A playbill featuring another deceased comrade is found in Colonel Cartwright’s possession, and a playing card, the ace of hearts: the blood card. The wartime connection and the suggestion of magic are for Stephens and Mephisto to be summoned to the case.

Edgar’s ongoing investigation into the death of Brighton fortune-teller Madame Zabini is put on hold. Max is busy rehearsing for a spectacular Coronation Day variety show – and his television debut – so it’s Edgar who is sent to New York, a land of plenty worlds away from still-rationed England. He’s on the trail of a small-town mesmerist who may provide the key, but someone silences him first. It’s Edgar’s colleague, DS Emma Holmes, who finds the clue, buried in the files of the Zabini case, that leads them to an anarchist group intent on providing an explosive finale to Coronation Day.

Now it’s up to Edgar, Max and Emma to foil the plot, and find out who it is who’s been dealing the cards . . .

 

My thanks to Quercus Books for my review copy, received through Netgalley.

A third outing for DI Edgar Stephens and his friend, magician, Max Mephisto and I am delighted to see them back. Previous books have been centred around Brighton where Stephens is based, however, The Blood Card gives our heroes a much bigger playground with much of the action taking place in London and even across the Atlantic in America.

Stephens is investigating the death of a fortune teller but both he Mephisto are summoned to London to meet with the army top brass and guided to investigate the murder of their wartime commander. The investigation will take Stephens on an American adventure where his life will be in jeopardy, even if he is not aware of the danger he faces.

Back home Max Mephisto is facing a new challenge of his own…television! A live broadcast of a cabaret show is planned for the evening of Queen Elizabeth II’s coronation. Max will be one of the star acts (if he can be persuaded to make the leap from the stage to the small screen) but he will not have considered the possibility of a second magician also being on the bill.

With Stephens and Mephisto distracted it falls to DS Emma Holmes to lead the investigation into the murder of the fortune teller. With the gift of “second sight” a family trait amongst the victim’s family there are several concerned parties keen to offer Emma advice on how her life may be on the wrong path but can she believe her future lies in the cards?

I thoroughly enjoy the Stephens and Mephisto stories. Elly Griffiths captures the feeling of post war life so perfectly in her writing and the slower, more traditional way of life is always a welcome and refreshing change of pace from the modern “gritty” stories I seem to read so often.

With Edgar, Max, Emma and Ruby given much more time to shine individually I really felt that I got to know the characters in more detail in The Blood Card. For a reader that enjoys an ongoing series it is a delight to see the cast growing and being shaped with each new book.

The Blood Card kept me entertained through a couple of dark winter evenings, perfect reading for when I had a bit of quiet time to relax and unwind.

 

The Blood Card is published by Quercus Books and is available in Hardback and digital formats now. Click here to order a copy: https://www.amazon.co.uk/Blood-Card-Stephens-Mephisto-Mystery/dp/1784296686/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1483383958&sr=8-1&keywords=the+blood+card

 

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April 14

The Ghost Fields – Elly Griffiths

Norfolk is experiencing a July heatwave when a construction crew unearths a The Ghost Fieldsmacabre discovery – a buried WWII plane with the pilot still inside. Forensic archaeologist Ruth Galloway quickly realizes that the skeleton couldn’t possibly be the pilot, and DNA tests identify the man as Fred Blackstock, a local aristocrat who had been reported dead at sea. When the remaining members of the Blackstock family learn about the discovery, they seem strangely frightened by the news.

Events are further complicated by a TV company that wants to make a film about Norfolk’s deserted air force bases, the so-called Ghost Fields, which have been partially converted into a pig farm run by one of the younger Blackstocks. As production begins, Ruth notices a mysterious man lurking close to the Blackstocks’ family home.

Then human bones are found on the family’s pig farm. Can the team outrace a looming flood to find a killer?

 

My thanks to Quercus Books for providing a review copy through Netgalley.

Last year I was introduced to the books of Elly Griffiths when @BookaddictShaun asked if I would like to do a guest review of The Zig Zag Girl for his blog. I jumped at the chance to read about The Magic Men in The Zig Zag Girl and my review can be found on Shaun’s blog here:  Zig Zag Girl

I was aware that Elly Griffiths wrote a series of books featuring forensic archaeologist Ruth Galloway but The Zig Zag Girl was a stand-alone novel so for me it was a great introduction to a new author. By the time I had finished reading I knew it was just a matter of time before Ms Galloway and I would become acquainted.

Spin forward a few months and I have the new Elly Griffiths novel to read: The Ghost Fields and I get to meet Ruth Galloway. As I have not read the preceding novels featuring this character I need to address the issue of whether jumping in at The Ghost Fields without knowing the back story will impair enjoyment. In a word – NOPE. The author positioned the characters perfectly. No prior knowledge (it appeared) was assumed and everything that I needed to know was made clear for me. For returning fans the characters you will already love are back and The Ghost Fields does appear to bring on personal stories in a way that I suspect you will enjoy.

The Ghost Fields was a fun read for me. The lead character is likeable and very believable, the murder mystery element was fascinating and with the historic linking back to events of the Second World War it added a dimension that set The Ghost Fields apart from many of my recent reads. There were lots of light hearted moments through the book which kept me amused too which I always welcome in a book.

The central focus of the investigation was the Blackstock family. Much of the action takes place in their ancestral home and on surrounding lands. The old fashioned feel of the local aristocratic family, several generations living together in the family house gave the book a real Agatha Christie feel. As you read you cannot help but feel that a murder is about to occur and that the finale will involve all the cast assembling in the drawing room. No spoilers so you will have to read for yourself to find out if any of these things happen!

Ruth Galloway and Elly Griffiths have a new fan here at Grab This Book. Elly Griffiths writes with a very readable style and the book was well paced. Ruth Galloway has just the right amount of neurosis to be engaging and I warmed to her very quickly.

 

Visit Elly Griffiths at: http://www.ellygriffiths.co.uk

Elly is also on Twitter as @ellygriffiths

 

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