February 3

Decades: Compiling the Ultimate Library with Anna Mazzola

Welcome back to Decades as a new guest curator joins me to add new books to the shelves of my ultimate library. This is a project which began back in January 2021 and if you look back through the past two years of my blog posts you will find dozens and dozens of amazing book recommendations – as suggested by authors, bloggers and publishers.

This is my Decades Library. There were no books on my library shelves when I first started my mission to compile the ultimate reading library. I only wanted the best books to be found on the library shelves, books other people had read and loved – the books they would recommend to other booklovers. Each week a guest joins me and I ask them to nominate new books to be added to the Decades Library. But they can’t just select books at random, I have set two rules which they must follow…

1: You Can Select Any Five Books
2: You Can Only Select One Book Per Decade From Five Consecutive Decades

Easy?  Have a go at choosing which five books you would pick. Which fifty year span do you think best reflects your favourite reading?

This week I am delighted to welcome Anna Mazzola to Grab This Book. I finally got to the opporutnity to meet Anna at Bloody Scotland last year – her panel with previous Decades curators, Douglas Skelton and D.V. Bishop, was one of my festival highlights. She was chatting about her latest book (The Clockwork Girl) and there was also lots of distrubing facts about nuns – you really had to be there.

Before I hand over to Anna to share her five Decades selections I shall draw your attention to this handy wee link which lets you browse and buy Anna’s books: https://www.amazon.co.uk/Anna-Mazzola/e/B01D4XL42M/ref=dp_byline_cont_ebooks_1



Anna is a writer of historical thrillers and Gothic fiction. Her third novel, The Clockwork Girl, set in Paris in 1750, is a Sunday Times Historical Fiction pick for 2022 and reached number 11 in the Sunday Times Bestseller list. Her debut novel, The Unseeing, won an Edgar Allan Poe award. Her fourth novel, The House of Whispers, is a ghost story set in Fascist Italy and will be published in April 2023. Anna also writes legal thrillers under the name Anna Sharpe, the first of which will be published in 2024.

When not writing or tutoring for The Novelry, Anna is a human rights and criminal justice solicitor, working with victims of crime. She lives in Camberwell, South London, with her husband, their two children, a snake and a cat.



My Cousin Rachel, Daphne Du Maurier, 1951


I’ve never been able to decide which is my favourite: My Cousin Rachel, or Rebecca. They are both dark and exquisite and explore similar themes. My Cousin Rachel is perhaps the most haunting, however. It was written in 1951 when Du Maurier was at the height of her powers, and while it might on its surface be a romantic novel set amid beautiful Cornish estates, it is in fact a novel about female sexuality, poisoning and power.





We Have Always Lived in the Castle, Shirley Jackson, 1961


The Haunting of Hill House is the more famous novel, but We Have Always Lived is, to my mind, Shirley Jackson’s masterpiece. Jackson wrote the book towards the end of her rather troubled life. The novel’s two female lead characters combine what Jackson’s biographer Judy Oppenheimer calls the ‘yin and yang of Shirley’s own inner self’. Constance embodies the domestic, while Merricat is strange, headstrong, murderous. A devastating and often darkly amusing exploration of everyday evil. One of my favourite books of all time.




Surfacing by Margaret Atwood, 1972


Surfacing was one of Margaret Atwood’s early works and remains one of her most unsettling. It tells the story of a young Canadian woman returning to her childhood wilderness home with her boyfriend and two friends to investigate the disappearance of her father. As the story progresses, we see the island exert an increasing pull on Atwood’s heroine, leading her into ever growing wildness.





Beloved by Toni Morrison, 1987


(Also loved Jazz, 1992). A huge, gripping, searing novel. I first read it when I was eighteen and it has stayed with me ever since. Beloved begins: ‘124 was spiteful.’ 124 is a house in Cincinnati in 1873 and it is spiteful because it is haunted by the fury of a baby whose throat was cut to make her safe from slavery. Not an easy read by any means, but an essential one.





A Place of Greater Safety by Hilary Mantel, 1992


Another huge and often bloody masterpiece, but this one is set during the French Revolution. Mantel’s main characters are the leaders of the Revolution – Danton, Robespierre and Camille Desmouslins, but we also see their wives and other lesser known characters. Complex, witty and brilliant. It was the first novel she wrote, though not the first to be published. Thank goodness she didn’t give up.





Huge thanks to Anna for these mighty selections. Some weeks I prepare the Decades list and I recognise for or five of the books as titles I have read and loved. Other weeks (including this week) I am reminded of why I need to invite guests to help me identify the best books to include in the Decades Library – big, powerful stories which I haven’t read but fully appreciate why they are held in such high regard.

I am adding We Have Always Lived in the Castle to my Audible library. Decades grows my TBR once again – the best outcome for me.





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January 31

Two O’Clock Boy – M.K. Hill

One detective. One killer. One shared secret.

Connor Laird frightens people: he’s intense, he’s fearless, and he seems to be willing to do anything to protect himself and those he loves. When he arrives in the Longacre Children’s Home, seemingly from nowhere, he instantly becomes hero and villain to every other child there.

But thirty years later, someone is killing all of those who grew up in the Longacre with Connor. Each of them has secrets, not least investigating cop DI Ray Drake. One by one, the mysteries of the past are revealed, and Drake finds himself in a race against time before the killer gets to him.

Who would kill to hide their secrets?



Two O’Clock Boy isn’t a new release as I have had it on my Kindle for ages. But it was a new read for me and with unbelievable timing I finished reading it in the very week Two O’Clock Boy is being republished by Head of Zeus so I get to be both tardy and timely with a single review.

When you’ve had a book in the TBR for a long time then finally bring it into the light to read the best reaction you can hope for is “Damn, that was a brilliant book – why did I wait so long to read it?”  That was certainly my reaction to Two O’Clock Boy – it’s a dark one and the author has created a brilliant (and unpredicable) lead character in DI Ray Drake.

At the start of Two O’Clock Boy Drake and his team can be found celebrating. Promotions have been awarded and Drake is now a DI, his colleague – Flick Crowley – is the DS who will be given the challenge of investigating the gruesome murders which occur at the outset of the story. Note my use of the word “gruesome” only fair to warn you in advance that Two O’Clock Boy is on the darker side. There’s a lot of unpleasant stuff coming down the line and the early murder scene should set your expectations in terms of content.

For Drake the crime scene is going to rock his world. He knows the victims.  He connects one of the bodies to Longacre Children’s Home – a place he hasn’t visited for many long years. Through a series of flashback chapters we see Drake as a teen and learn of his connection to Longacre Children’s Home where his cousin was resident at the Home and he tried to spend time in her company. But Drake’s presence wasn’t tolerated by the owner of the home or the couple who helped look after the children. Though to say the children were looked after is misleading – the children lived in terrible conditions, they were used in criminal activity and the Home’s owner would abuse the kids in his care. As a child Drake knew the place was a virtual prison for the children and he tried to highlight the danger they were in to his parents – influential members of the community.

Drake realises he cannot afford to have his connection to Longacre explored by his colleagues but can he stop Crowley getting to the truth? The stakes are raised when it becomes clear there is someone who remembers Drake as a child and that same someone is determined to end the lives of anyone connected to Longacre. Drake is in danger and it seems his daughter may also be at risk but he still can’t let Crowley know what’s really going on. This means the reader follows Crowley’s investigation, Drake’s own attempts to uncover the identity (and location) of the killer and through the flashback chapters we learn more about the plight of the children at Longacre. Those chapters which take in Drake’s teenage years also allow Mark Hill to drip more and more important detail into our awareness and we slowly begin to understand why events from the mid 1980’s are so important thirty years later.

I absolutely loved Two O’Clock Boy – though finding out why the book has this title was another shocking chapter. Having a lead character who was a senior police officer but wasn’t actively investigating the murders was a brilliant hook and I had to know how things were going to turn out. Early buy-in ensures this reader will be captivated to the story. To put it in blunt context…I normally read three or four books at any one time. While I read Two O’Clock Boy no other books got a look-in. That’s a sign of quality.


Two O’Clock Boy is re-releasing through Head of Zeus on 2 February 2022. You can buy a digital copy of the book here: https://www.amazon.co.uk/gp/product/B0BN9C26VL/ref=dbs_a_def_rwt_bibl_vppi_i2

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January 27

Decades: Compiling The Ultimate Library with Heather J. Fitt

It was this very week in 2021 that I launched my Decades quest. So before we go any further I’d like to wish the Decades Library a very happy second birthday. Little did I suspect my quest to compile one of the best digital libraries would still be ongoing after all this time. Despite a couple of unplanned breaks in the second half of last year (demands of the day job) I have been honoured to host so many incredible guests here at Grab This Book – each prepared to give up some of their time to talk about the books they love.  I am beyond grateful for their kindness and the time they gave to keep the Decades Library growing.

But perhaps this is your first visit to the Decades Library?  You are very welcome, please let me explain what’s about to happen.  I set myself a challenge two years ago. If I had a brand new library which had no books on any of its empty shelves, which books should I bring to the Library to ensure it only offered the very best books to readers?

I quickly realised that I could not answer that question alone so I enlisted some help. Authors, bloggers, publishers, journalists have joined me over the last two years and nominated their favourite “unmissable” books which they think the very best library should offer. But I don’t just ask them to pick books at random – I made up rules.  Two rules to be exact and this is why I refer to my library as the Decades Library.

1 – Pick Any Five Books
2 – You May Only Select One Book Per Decade Over Any Five Consecutive Decades

Easy!  Or is it?  Have a go at making your five selections and see how quickly you can nail down all five from five consecutive decades.  It’s not by accident that after two years I still haven’t managed to make my own five choices.

But enough of my rambling, it is time for me to give way and allow my first guest of 2023 to take the floor. This week sees the publication of Heather J. Fitt’s second novel (The Flight) so what better time to let Heather tell you about five of her favourite books….


Heather was born in Scotland and after moving around Europe with her parents and sister, settled in Hampshire where she met her husband, Stuart.

After leaving the rat-race in 2018, Heather re-trained as an editor and proof-reader and entered the world of publishing. These days she works as a part-time freelancer and a part-time Commissioning Advisor for Bloodhound.

Heather was inspired to start writing her novel by the authors who have become her closest friends. Now the ideas are flowing she has plans to write several more over the coming years.

Her debut novel, Open Your Eyes, was published in 2022 by Bloodhound Books, and her latest, The Flight, was published on 26th January 2023.

You can get Heather’s books here:

Open Your Eyes geni.us/OpenYourEyes_

The Flight https://geni.us/TheFlightCover

And Heather is online at all these places:

Twitter: @HeatherJFitt

Instagram: @heatherjfitt

Facebook: Heather J. Fitt Author

TikTok: @heatherjfitt



1980s – The Power of One by Bryce Courtenay

This is a book I borrowed from someone at school, and, despite its length, I devoured. It’s also one of the few books I’ve read several times over.






1990s – 13 More Tales of Horror by Various Authors


This is a bit of a cheat. I was a teenager is the 1990s – well, for most of them – and I LOVED all of the Point Horror books, so this anthology really represents all of them!






2000s – On Writing by Stephen King


I read this one in the last few years. I’m sure many people will have picked it, but it really is an excellent book and it’s not just for writers.






2010s – Into the Darkest Corner by Elizabeth Haynes

To me, this is one of the best and most important fiction books that discusses domestic violence. To this day, the character Lee terrifies me.






2020s – Razorblade Tears by SA Cosby


Shawn Cosby is a fairly new author on the block, but when I read this last year I knew I was going to read everything he ever wrote. I would say it’s a book of our time, and don’t forget, “love is love”.





Brilliant! Five great selections to kick off the new season of Decades. I am always delighted to see horror stories added to the Library shelves (and we don’t have many short story collections) so the Point Horror collection made me happy.

My memory is awful but is this the first time a book has made it into the Library which was written by a former Library Curator? Elizabeth Haynes made her five selections last year and now Into The Darkest Corner has found its way onto the Library shelves. I would be greatful if someone with a better memory than mine can tell me if this is indeed the first time this has happened. Then I look at Razorblade Tears and it reminds me that Mr Cosby is very high on my wishlist of future guests – he just doesn’t know it yet. Does anyone want to warn him?

My thanks to Heather for these wonderful reading recommendaitions. Don’t forget to pick up your copy of her brand new book The Flight – published this very week: The Flight https://geni.us/TheFlightCover




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January 25

The Echo Man – Sam Holland

The murders have begun…
Across England, a string of murders is taking place. Each different in method, but each horrifying and brutal.

But the killer is just getting started…
Jess Ambrose is plunged into the investigation when her house is set ablaze. With her husband dead and the police pointing at her, she runs. Her only hope is disgraced detective Nate Griffin, who is convinced Jess is innocent.

And he’s going to shock the world…
Soon, Jess and Griffin discover the unthinkable; this murderer is copying the world’s most notorious serial killers. And now, imitation isn’t enough. The killer dubbed The Echo Man is ready to create his own masterpiece, and it will be more terrifying than anything that has come before…


I received a review copy of The Echo Man through Netgalley.


Do you like stories about serial killers? You do? Then I would suggest The Echo Man is the book for you as the killer in this story is paying homage to all the most infamous murderers from history and the body count is high. Really high.  And Sam Holland isn’t messing around as The Echo Man is one of the darker crime thrillers I have read lately.

Not that I found any of those qualities to be a negative factor. I like the darker edgier stories and this book very much ticked all the boxes for me. But if you’re not a fan of the more descriptive crime scenes then I feel it only fair to warn you that this story may bring some uncomfortable reading moments.

Still with me?  Good stuff. The Echo Man is tagged as being Major Crimes Book 1. Very pleasing to know as I liked the team of investigating officers and the author has done a great job of balancing their development and spinning a great murder mystery around them (while also throwing lots of dilemmas, murders and moments of terror into the paths of her principle cast).

Early in the story we meet Jess. She isn’t one of the investigative team but her life is about to radically change when a fire rips through her home and leaves her husband dead. Jess is the police’s primary suspect and when she sees the opportunity to take herself away from possible arrest she runs. But Jess doesn’t run too far and she finds a safe port in her personal storm when she meets Nate Griffin. Nate was a police officer but a year ago he had his own personal trauma and now he can’t be part of the Major Crimes Team – in fact Nate can hardly function such was the impact of his traumatic experience.

Nate does still have connections in the Major Crimes Team (family connections at that) so when events start ramping up and the body count rises he finds himself drawn back to the station and back to face his demons. As the pressure builds so too does Nate’s inability to deal with the investigation in a lucid and rational manner. Tension builds and builds under the careful moderation of Sam Holland and you’ll want to keep reading – I certainly did!  It got to the point in the night I knew I could not put the book down until I had reached the end, I just had to know how things were to be resolved.

Great introduction to a new series and I’m very much looking forward to seeing where this may go next.


The Echo Man is available in paperback, digital and audiobook format. You can order a copy here: https://www.waterstones.com/book/the-echo-man/sam-holland/9780008461638



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January 24

Rivers of London: Deadly Ever After – Aaronovich, Cartmel and Bronfman

Illustrations from a mysterious book of fairy tales drawn in the late 1800s are coming to life in the 21st Century and causing havoc. The illustrations were originally painted by a Victorian artist called Jeter Day who disappeared one night in an enchanted forest when he was spirited away by tree nymphs never to be seen again…

Now, with the enchantment accidentally broken by Olympia and Chelsea, daughters of the river goddess Mama Thames, Jeter, twisted by his time spent with the nymphs, has returned to our world bitter and resentful. It is a world he neither recognises nor likes. All he wants is his life returned to him and woe betide any man who stands in his way. With Peter and Nightingale busy on another case, it falls to sisters Olympia and Chelsea with the help of the Foxes to stop Jeter and save the day.



My thanks to Titan Books for the review copy of Rivers of London: Deadly Ever After.


Deadly Ever After is the tenth Rivers of London graphic novel and delivers the quirky humour, supernatural dilemmas and the high levels of enjoyment which readers have come to expect from this series. The book collates the four comics which made up the Deadly Ever After story arc and I didn’t feel I needed any prior knowledge of events prior to this (as the introduction covers it well) and there wasn’t any unfinished plot to frustrate me as I wait for the next comics. As I tend not to pick up every graphic novel as soon it releases the completeness of Deadly Ever After is a real bonus. It also makes for a great pick-up book if, perhaps, you haven’t read all the stories which previously released – this contained volume can be instantly enjoyed and will likely encourage readers to seek out more of the books (assuming they enjoy it as much as I did).

As you may have guessed from the “Deadly Ever After” title, events in this story are taking in a fairy tale theme. Over 100 years ago an artist vanished in a London woodland – taken to another realm by the tree nymphs he had been seeking. Spin forward to the 2020’s and the artist, Jeter Day, has found a way to return and he wants to make good on the promise he made to his daugher all those decades ago and deliver a happy ending to the stories.

Unforunately for Chelsea and Olympia this means they have unleashed fairy story chaos into London. A group of friends who had attended a picnic in the woods near where Jeter Day vanished suddenly find their lives are mirroring fairy tales. One guest finds himself attacking Red’s grandmother, another falls into a deep coma after eating an apple brought to her by her stepmother…you can see how this creates problems.

Olympia and Chelsea can’t enlist the help of Peter Grant and Nightingale as they have a bigger problem to contend with in the London Underground so the girls need to find a solution alone. Or maybe with just a little help from a pair of foxes. I will admit to being a little disappointed initially that Peter Grant does not appear more in this story than in a brief cameo role. However, the story does stand well on its own and Grant’s absence gives Chelsea and Olympia a chance to shine and the story benefits from their strong dynamic. It’s the world of Rivers of London not individual characters which I find so appealing so give me a nice mix of horror/fantasy with humour and dark deeds and I am there and turning those pages.

As it is a graphic novel I do need to give a shout to the artwork through the book. It’s bright, detailed and gorgeous to read. Characters are easy to distingush, the panels are crisp, engaging and never feel fussy or overcrowded – it lets the story flow and gives weight to the words without feeling the dialogue is being lost or the action is getting too busy.

Once the story has been spun there is a bonus or two at the end of the book. Writer notes and panel guidance which would have been sent to the artist. It was fascinating to see what the author envisages when they outline each page of the comic and then have it displayed beside the finished page.

I was a Rivers of London fan before I picked up Deadly Ever After – this book just grows my fanboy credentials. Lots of fun was had and it makes me want to catch up on the graphic novels I’ve missed.


Rivers of London: Deadly Ever After is published by Titan Books Ltd and is available as a paperback graphic novel and on Kindle and Comixology.  You can order a copy here: https://www.waterstones.com/book/rivers-of-london-deadly-ever-after/ben-aaronovitch/andrew-cartmel/9781787738591



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January 16

The Library Suicides – Fflur Dafydd

`You can get in. But you can’t get out. Welcome to the library…

Twins Ana and Nan are lost after the death of their mother. Everyone knows who drove Elena, the renowned novelist, to suicide – her long-term literary critic, Eben. But the twins need proof if they’re going to get revenge.

Desperate to clear his name, Eben requests access to Elena’s diaries at the National Library where the twins work, and they see an opportunity. With careful planning, the twins lock down the labyrinthine building, trapping their colleagues, the public and most importantly Eben inside. But as a rogue security guard starts freeing hostages, the plan unravels. And what began as a single-minded act of revenge blooms into a complex unravelling of loyalties, motives and what it is that makes us who we are.

Hauntingly written, with a fresh, captivating voice, The Library Suicides is an intensely memorable and provocative literary read for fans of high concept thrillers that break the mould, and books about books and the concept of the written word.


I received a review copy of The Library Suicides from the publishers via Netgalley.


The Library Suicides was described on Waterstones website as a “captivating locked-room psychological thriller” those words made me think of a much darker tale than Fflur Dafydd’s excellent story. The description quoted above describes it as “an intensely memorable and provacative literary read” – yes to this. It’s quirky, clever and wonderfully constructed. I tend not to read books which get classed as “literary” as I don’t feel I am their target audience and I don’t have the depth of knowledge to compare these reads to other offerings. In the case of The Library Suicides, I had fun with the story and thought the characters were marvellous – I particularly enjoyed how easily they became real for me.

I didn’t get the gritty darkness I had expected from The Library Suicides and I think that’s taken some of the shine off the story for me which is a real shame as these characters do get the chance to shine under the care of Fflur Dafydd.

Twins Nan and Ana are a complex duo who have a plan. They are going to their place of work, the National Library, they will lock down the building, they will hold their colleagues hostage and – most importantly – they will have literary critic Eben Prytherch trapped inside with them. Exactly where they want him.

Nan and Ana’s mother, Elena, was a famous novelist but Eben was one of her fiercest critics – irrationally so. When Elena took her own life the blame was placed firmly at Eben’s door. Now Eben has been granted access to Elena’s diaries (all stored in an archive in the National Library) and he wants to tell her story, perhaps to absolve himself of some personal guilt? Or perhaps to find a reason to shift the blame on Elena’s death onto someone or something else?  Irrespective of his motives it comes as a surprise when the Twins agree to allow Eben to read their late mother’s words. But the reader comes to understand the true reason for their motivation.

Not mentioned in the book description is the backdrop to The Library Suicides. The story is set in a time after a great disease has taken a toll on much of the population. There is a great fuss made when one character touches a stranger. Books and paper are no longer in use. Libraries are digitising and destroying as paper can transmit disease. I found the unexpected dystopian twist to the setting to be a real plus point in my enjoyment of the story.

You can tell I found this tricky to review. Many positive elements, humour and quirky characters which kept my attention long past the point I would have set aside a book which I felt “wasn’t really for me”. I had a real desire to find out how the twins would execute their plan (as it were) and once the stoned, ex-con security guard started to show a bit of initiatve and a desire to do the right thing I was totally onboard for the rest of the journey.

Not my normal read and a very different type of story than I had expected (that’s on me) great characters, moral dilemmas and a fascinating build up to…well to something I hadn’t expected…this book will shine and delight many readers.


The Library Suicides publishes in hardback on 19 January 2023 and you can order a copy here: https://www.waterstones.com/book/the-library-suicides/fflur-dafydd/9781399711074



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January 4

Mirrorland – Carole Johnstone

One twin ran. The other vanished. Neither escaped…

Cat’s twin sister El has disappeared. But there’s one thing Cat is sure of: her sister isn’t dead. She would have felt it. She would have known.

To find her sister, Cat must return to their dark, crumbling childhood home and confront the horrors that wait there. Because it’s all coming back to Cat now: all the things she has buried, all the secrets she’s been running from.

The closer Cat comes to the truth, the closer to danger she is. Some things are better left in the past…


I received a review copy from the publishers via Netgalley


In 2022 I read and reviewed fewer books than I wanted. I began 2023 with a determination to read some of the titles I hadn’t managed to get to last year and make sure I reviewed them too! Doesn’t seem too much to ask for a bookblogger…

As the New Year bells rang out I was finishing Mirrorland by Carole Johnstone. Scottish based, a dark and twisty story (gothic is a word which I have seen used more than once in connection with this story) and extensive use of flashback chapters to a time when twins Cat and El were children.

Their childhood is very much central to the story set in current times (2018 as it turns out) as the characteristics of each twin is embedded during their troubled formative years and when we first meet Cat in 2018 the sisters have not spoken for many years, Cat is living in America while El has remained in Scotland and is married to their childhood friend Ross. But Cat is finally making the return trip to Scotland as El has taken her boat out to sea and both El and the boat are missing.

Cat is utterly convinced that El is alive. As a twin she would know if something had happened to her sister. When she returns to her childhood home (where El and Ross now live) she starts receiving strange messages – warnings – and then emails begin to arrive each seem to be from El who is sending Cat on “treasure hunts” similar to those the girls played many years before. Cat believes the language and the clues can only have come from her sister, so where is she and why is she hiding from her husband and twin?

Carole Johnstone makes excellent use of flashbacks to past events to reveal more and more about the relationship between El and Cat, El and Ross and Ross and Cat. But pivotal to the story is Mirrorland. The place where the girls spent their childhood – a fantasy construct within their house and garden where clowns, pirates were real, they could hide from The Witch in their house and live out the stories they enjoyed.

If truth be told I did sometimes lose track of what was a fantasy memory and what was Cat on a present day treasure hunt – reading in a busy Christmas house was not condusive to keeping firm hold of the story thread. It got to the point where I was doubting everything all the characters were saying, I doubted their actions were genuine and I second guessed everything as it happened. This is what I want from a thriller – that uncertainty and the need to find out what actually happens kept me coming back for chapter after chapter.

A good start to my reading year as I had fun with Mirrorland.


Mirrorland is published by HarperCollins and you can order a copy here: https://www.waterstones.com/book/mirrorland/carole-johnstone/9780008361426




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December 29

My Top Ten Favourite Reads of 2022

The end of another year of blogging and I look back on all the books I read this year so I can pick out ten of my favourites. It will be ten books, as I can’t keep adding more and more titles into the end of year wrap-up it becomes unweildy and a nightmare to tag everyone on Twitter.

Behind the scenes here at Grab This Book it has been a tricky 2022. There has been #Decades (which I thank everyone for) but far fewer reviews than I would like. I look forward to 2023 with a vow to do better and share more reviews – I did what I could to champion those unreviewed books on Twitter and Facebook but I would have preferred to caputre that enthusiasm here too.

But you’re here for the books and I want to get to them too.  Ten of them. Not in any order for nine of the ten. But one title did stand out for me and I have recommended it to more people than any other book this year so that will be the last book I mention below and that book will be my favourite book of 2022. All the books I detail are the stories I enjoyed the most as I read them. They may not have won awards, you may disagree (we can’t all love the same books) but these ten books stuck with me as the months slipped by. If you read any of these then I hope you enjoy them as much as I did.


Dark Objects – Simon Toyne


Dark Objects, dark storytelling. The best feeling for a reader is to get drawn into the story and just want to keep those pages turning. This book stands out as one of the best thrillers I read this year and I remember reading it extremely late into the night, reluctant to leave the world which Simon Toyne had spun around me.


My review: http://grabthisbook.net/?p=6594




Demon – Matt Wesolowski


The Six Stories series is a firm favourite and if you’re ever looking for a terrific audiobook experience then Matt Wesolowski’s books should be your first port of call. All the stories are dark adventures but Demon got into my head more than the previous books – haunting.


My review: http://grabthisbook.net/?p=6280




The Undiscovered Deaths of Grace McGill – Craig Robertson


One of the first books I read in 2022 and, despite my goldfish memory, Grace’s story is not one I will forget in a hurry. I feel guilty for not shouting about this book as much as I should have done at the time but it has quite a few trigger issues which hit close to home. The fact I hold this book in such high regard, despite it putting me through emotional turmoil, is clear indication as to how good it is.

My review: http://grabthisbook.net/?p=6260





The Junction – Norm Konyu


A graphic novel?  Absolutely! This book blew me away when I read it. Norm Konyu’s artwork is absolutely stunning and the story is a thing of beauty – I hadn’t cried at a comicbook since Amazing Spider-Man 400 (Aunt May died) but I came damned close to seeping tears at The Junction.

My Review: http://grabthisbook.net/?p=6609





Up Close and Fatal – Fergus McNeil

A serial killer road trip? Yes Please!

When I picked up this book I was intrigued by the prospect of a journalist receiving a list of murder victims then being drawn into a race against time to try to catch a killer. But once I started reading I was totally hooked. The words flowed past like miles under the wheels of a car as Fergus McNeil served up one of the most readable thrillers I have read for a long, long time. I had such fun with this book.

My Review: http://grabthisbook.net/?p=6685




Old Bones Lie – Marion Todd

As a reader with a terrible memory for remembering character names I like nothing more than getting stuck into a series of books where recurring characters return for multiple adventures – I feel I get to know these characters so well and I look forward to seeing what may lie in store for them in the next book. One of the best new series is the Clare Mackay books by Marion Todd – the stories are set in and around St Andrews and in Old Bones Lie there is a cracking opening scenario which grabbed me from the outset. I read this with a huge grin on my face.

My review: http://grabthisbook.net/?p=6739





The Blood Tide – Neil Lancaster

Keeping the recurring characters and police thriller theme going my next selection is this fabulous new adventure featuring DS Max Cragie. Neil Lancaster has his lead character on the hunt for corruption within Police Scotland and when you know you can’t trust any of the cops in a story how can you not be glued to every interaction? How can you not try to second guess every decision taken by the characters? The story takes the reader all around Scotland and that just makes it even better. Don’t miss these books.


My Review: http://grabthisbook.net/?p=6509



Truly, Darkly, Deeply – Victoria Selman

Every good list of books (and every list of good books) needs at least one title where you can’t reveal too much about the story as the revelations and discovery as the chapters fly by must be discovered for the first time only when the author deems it necessary. That book in 2022 was Truly, Darkly, Deeply. If you’re in the market for a cracking serial killer story then grab this book and don’t read too much into the plot before you start reading.


My Review: http://grabthisbook.net/?p=6763




Dead Rich – G W Shaw

Although most of my year finds me reading crime/detective stories, Dead Rich is a book I’d place into the Adventure category. But there’s loads of crime going on between the covers here and G W Shaw delivers an absolutely riproaring thriller which I described as a Hollywood Summer Blockbuster in a novel.

Terror on the high seas and a lead character you cannot help but root for – I read this early in the year and loved seeing other readers discovering how much fun was to be had from Dead Rich as the year unfolded.


My Review: http://grabthisbook.net/?p=6513




Vine Street – Dominic Nolan

I began 2022 listening to Vine Street on Audible. I was utterly captivated by this story and for the last twelve months I have suggested Vine Street to anyone who is looking for a new book to read. I tried to review it and I don’t think I did it justice. I saw Dominic Nolan at Aye Write and again at Bloody Scotland, each time he shared more detail about writing Vine Street which made me appreciate just how much detail was included in the story. I first described Vine Street as a serial killer story which spanned decades but at Aye Write Mr Nolan said he had wanted to write about the clubs of Soho in the 1920s – I felt had totally missed the purpose of the story but there’s just so much going on that I took in the Soho clubs as I looked for the killer among those dark streets.

My favourite book of 2022 – I wish I could have the chance to read it for the first time all over again.

My Review: http://grabthisbook.net/?p=6479



And that’s a wrap on 2022. Ten books I loved. If you haven’t read all these stories then you may wish to seek them out. If you do (and you enjoy them) then please take a minute to let the author know. You don’t need a blog to share the booklove – leave a wee review on a website (Amazon, Goodreads, Waterstones, Kobo). Just saying “I enjoyed this book” will help the author, may encourage another reader to pick up the book too and it may even give the author the motivation they need to finish just one more chaper of a new novel.




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December 14

My Ten Favourite Audiobooks of 2022

As another year draws to a close I have decided, once again, to pull together a list of my favourite audiobooks that I listened to over the last twelve months. There will be a favourite books of 2022 list to follow this post and (spoiler) at least one of the following ten selections will also appear on that list when I share it.

A brief explanatory introduction then the ten audiobooks shall follow (with a purchase link for each where you can pick up a copy in a number of different formats). I do these lists as I want you – yes YOU – to read or listen to the books too.

The last twelve months have been extremely busy for me and I have not read or reviewed as many books as I wanted to. Lets face it though, I am approaching fifty years of age and I have never had a year where I have managed to read all the books I wanted to read. Despite being busy I still managed to get through more audiobooks than ever before so I have expanded my favourite listens from a traditional short list of five titles to a full list of ten.

These books may not have won awards, may not have topped the charts and not all of them are “new” titles which released in 2022. The selections are the ten stories I enjoyed listening to the most – my blog, my favourites. Oh – and I present them in no particular order.


The Seeker – S G MacLean (narr. Nicholas Camm)

It has been my absolute honour to make a few appearances on the Bloody Scotland Book Club over the last couple of years. Panel members are invited to suggest books to read and discuss and for one of my appearances I selected The Seeker. I don’t read very many historical thrilers but I find I always enjoy them more when I listen to the audiobook and this one was an absolute cracker.

London, 1654. Oliver Cromwell is at the height of his power and has declared himself Lord Protector. Yet he has many enemies, at home and abroad.

London is a teeming warren of spies and merchants, priests and soldiers, exiles and assassins. One of the web’s most fearsome spiders is Damian Seeker, agent of the Lord Protector. No one knows where Seeker comes from, who his family is, or even his real name. All that is known of him for certain is that he is utterly loyal to Cromwell, and that nothing can be long hidden from him.

In the city, coffee houses are springing up, fashionable places where men may meet to plot and gossip. Suddenly they are ringing with news of a murder. John Winter, hero of Cromwell’s all-powerful army, is dead, and the lawyer, Elias Ellingworth, found standing over the bleeding body, clutching a knife.

Yet despite the damning evidence, Seeker is not convinced of Ellingworth’s guilt. He will stop at nothing to bring the killer to justice: and Seeker knows better than any man where to search.



Roll With It – Jay Stringer (Narr: Jennifer Pickens)

This was a summer listen and those bright, warm evening dog walks were just perfect for this tale of bounty hunters, stolen money and stolen kisses.

What is your whole life worth, to the nearest dollar?
A bag of cash. No owner. Do you take it?

Emily Scott was the first girl Chloe Medina ever kissed. Back before she was ready to talk about that kind of thing. Now, two decades later, Chloe is a bounty hunter in Arizona, and a local crime boss hires her track down a criminal who has stolen a bag of cash. The fugitive’s name? Emily Scott.

Emily Scott is a stand-up comedian and one-time bank robber who came into possession of forbidden knowledge that could get her killed. She knows the identity of Big Wheel, an illusive and semi-mythic criminal kingpin who runs the state. When presented with a chance to run away with a bag full of cash, she didn’t hesitate. But now out on the road she’s stuck between two worlds. After spending twenty years getting good at one thing, and building her identity around it, can she abandon all that work and become someone new? And what happens when she finds out Chloe Medina is on her tail, the hot girl who broke her nose at high school after one kiss?

Chloe isn’t the only person chasing Scott down. Deputy U.S. Marshal Treat Tyler is on the case. Scott had been in Tyler’s custody when she escaped, and his reputation is on the line. What self-respecting lawman lets a comedian get away? Tyler has another personal stake in the story. He used to work with Medina, back when she was a Marshal. They were rivals. They had identical test scores and identical success rates. Tyler enjoys wearing the badge just as much as Medina did. He’s obsessed with being the cowboy, and despite the years between, can’t stop wondering if Medina may have been just a bit better at it. Whenever their paths cross, he finds a way to bring conversation round to the idea of a contest—to settle the issue once and for all. Medina always declines. She has nothing to prove. But Tyler does, and finding out that Medina is tracking the same fugitive? Game on. Again. And, of course, Tyler is hiding his own secrets about Big Wheel.

Can Medina get to Emily before Tyler? And before Big Wheel? And if she does…do they need to talk about that kiss?



And Your Enemies Closer – Rob Parker (Narr: Warren Brown)

If my last selection was one from the warm summertime, this choice was a listen for the dark winter nights. It is the second in the Thirty Miles trilogy and I bought this the day it released as I had loved the first book. It may only have been January 6th but it was one of the best book purchases I made all year.


In the North West criminal underworld, a deal goes tragically wrong, resulting in war between the two main organised crime factions in the region. Shockwaves rock the 30-mile gap between Liverpool and Manchester – with retired detective Brendan Foley right in the middle of it all. 

For Brendan, six months after his resignation, life is all different. His marriage is a mess, he’s working as a nightclub bouncer, his brother is still missing and he just can’t stop searching for the crime family that destroyed his life. And at last, he’s found them – and he’s got them bang to rights.

Iona Madison, his one-time partner and now successor as a DI in Warrington Police, is tasked with a body pulled from the River Mersey – a teen-age boy that went missing the previous year, which might bring her own conduct into question. Not only that, Brendan is feeding her information whether she likes it or not – and his unsanctioned activities are causing her headaches.

And now, there’s a price on his head. A million pounds, dead or alive. 

And Your Enemies Closer is a serpentine race against time as Brendan and Iona must stay one step ahead of criminals at every corner, while trying to bring justice – in whatever form it takes, and whatever loyalties it might burn.



The Dying Squad – Adam Simcox (Narr: Sophie Aldred)

I love when someone shakes things up a bit and brings different elements to a crime story. How about the two principle investigators being dead? A policeman solving his own murder? Sign me up for that one – it was brilliant!


Who better to solve a murder than a dead detective?

When Detective Inspector Joe Lazarus storms a Lincolnshire farmhouse, he expects to bring down a notorious drug gang; instead, he discovers his own body and a spirit guide called Daisy-May.

She’s there to enlist him to the Dying Squad, a spectral police force who solve crimes their flesh and blood counterparts cannot.

Lazarus reluctantly accepts and returns to the Lincolnshire Badlands, where he faces dangers from both the living and the dead in his quest to discover the identity of his killer – before they kill again.





The Book of Cold Cases – Simone St. James (Narr: Pressley, Potter, Petkoff)

This was atmospheric, wonderfully narrated, delightfully twisty and in Beth Greer a powerful character that I just could not figure out – terrific writing by Simone St James, I was utterly hooked on this one.


A true crime blogger gets more than she bargained for while interviewing the woman acquitted of two cold case slayings in this chilling new novel from the New York Times best-selling author of The Sun Down Motel.

In 1977, Claire Lake, Oregon, was shaken by the Lady Killer Murders: Two men, seemingly randomly, were murdered with the same gun, with strange notes left behind. Beth Greer was the perfect suspect – a rich, eccentric 23-year-old woman, seen fleeing one of the crimes. But she was acquitted, and she retreated to the isolation of her mansion.

Oregon, 2017. Shea Collins is a receptionist, but by night, she runs a true crime website, the Book of Cold Cases – a passion fueled by the attempted abduction she escaped as a child. When she meets Beth by chance, Shea asks her for an interview. To Shea’s surprise, Beth says yes.

They meet regularly at Beth’s mansion, though Shea is never comfortable there. Items move when she’s not looking, and she could swear she’s seen a girl outside the window. The allure of learning the truth about the case from the smart, charming Beth is too much to resist, but even as they grow closer, Shea senses something isn’t right. Is she making friends with a manipulative murderer, or are there other dangers lurking in the darkness of the Greer house?



The Dynasty – Jeff Benedict (Narr: Todd Menesses)

I love American Football, have done for years and the weeks from September through to February when I can watch the NFL matches always give me some of the best sport viewing of the year. I don’t follow the New England Patriots – would someone from Scotland cheer for a New England team? Well yes we would, we aren’t all mad racists like certain newspapers may have you believe. Nah, I am a Packers fan and have been for over 20 years but I knew a little about the Patriots, about Tom Brady and Bill Belichick so I thought I would give this a spin. Wow. Wow. Wow. My mind was blown as I discovered how little I knew about the NFL, the team dynamics and these larger than life figures.


From the number-one New York Times best-selling coauthor of Tiger Woods comes the definitive inside story of the New England Patriots – the greatest sports dynasty of the 21st century.

It’s easy to forget that the New England Patriots were once the laughingstock of the NFL, a nearly bankrupt team that had never won a championship and was on the brink of moving to St. Louis. Everything changed in 1994, when Robert Kraft acquired the franchise and soon brought on board Head Coach Bill Belichick and Quarterback Tom Brady. Since then, the Patriots have become a juggernaut, making 10 trips to the Super Bowl, winning six of them, and emerging as one of the most valuable sports franchises in the world.

How was the Patriots dynasty built? And how did it last for two decades? In The Dynasty, acclaimed journalist Jeff Benedict provides richly reported answers in a sweeping account based on exclusive interviews with more than 200 insiders – including team executives, coaches, players, players’ wives, team doctors, lawyers, and more – as well as never-before-seen recordings, documents, and electronic communications.

Through his exhaustive research, Benedict uncovers surprising new details about the inner workings of a team notorious for its secrecy. He puts listeners in the room as Robert Kraft outmaneuvers a legion of lawyers and investors to buy the team. We listen in on the phone call when the greatest trade ever made – Bill Belichick for a first-round draft choice – is negotiated. And we look over the shoulder of 40-year-old Tom Brady as a surgeon operates on his throwing hand on the eve of the AFC Championship Game in 2018.

But the portrait that emerges in The Dynasty is more rewarding than new details alone. By tracing the team’s epic run through the perspectives of Kraft, Belichick, and Brady – each of whom was interviewed for the book – the author provides a wealth of new insight into the complex human beings most responsible for the Patriots’ success. We watch the NFL’s savviest owner treat Brady like a son, empower Belichick to cut and trade beloved players, and spend sleepless nights figuring out diplomatic ways to keep Brady and Belichick together for two decades. We come to understand how a genius head coach keeps his players at an emotional distance and blocks out anything that gets in the way of winning. And we experience the relentless drive, ferocious competitive nature, and emotional sensitivity that allows Brady to continue playing football into his 40s.

The result is an intimate portrait that captures the human drama of the dynasty’s three key characters while also revealing the secrets behind their success. This is perhaps the most compelling and illuminating book that will ever be written about the greatest professional sports team of our time.



Sleep – C. L. Taylor (Narr: Clare Corbett)

I was always going to listen to Sleep at some point in 2022. I had heard Cally Taylor talking about the book during the Bloody Scotland festival. The thought of a small group thrown together in a small hotel on a remote Scottish island was too much of a hook for me to pass on. Sleep was one of the stories which saw me taking longer routes on the evening dog walks so I could listen for longer.


Seven guests. Seven secrets. One killer. Do you dare to sleep?  

All Anna wants is to be able to sleep. But crushing insomnia, terrifying night terrors and memories of that terrible night are making it impossible. If only she didn’t feel so guilty…. 

To escape her past, Anna takes a job at a hotel on the remote Scottish island of Rum, but when seven guests join her, what started as a retreat from the world turns into a deadly nightmare. 

Each of the guests has a secret, but one of them is lying—about who they are and why they’re on the island. There’s a murderer staying in the Bay View hotel. And they’ve set their sights on Anna. 

Seven strangers. Seven secrets. One deadly lie. 

Someone’s going to sleep and never wake up…. 




Vine Street – Dominic Nolan (Narr: Owen Findlay)

The book I was listening to as 2021 faded into the past and we welcomed 2022 (not that I was listening as the Hogmanay bells were ringing out – you know what I mean).  The first audiobook I finished in 2022 and it’s still the book I am recommending everyone to read as we reach mid-December. I haven’t put this list in an order of preference but if I had Vine Street would have been my Number One recommendation.

Soho, 1935.

Sergeant Leon Geats’ Patch.

A snarling, skull-cracking misanthrope, Geats marshals the grimy rabble according to his own elastic moral code.

The narrow alleys are brimming with jazz bars, bookies, black-shirts, ponces and tarts, so when a body is found above the Windmill Club, detectives are content to dismiss the case as just another young woman who topped herself early.

But Geats – a good man prepared to be a bad one if it keeps the worst of them at bay – knows the dark seams of the city.

Working with his former partner, mercenary Flying Squad Sergeant Mark Cassar, Geats obsessively dedicates himself to finding a warped killer – a decision that will reverberate for a lifetime and transform both men in ways they could never expect.



Violent Ends – Neil Broadfoot (Narr: Angus King)

The fifth title in the Connor Fraser series and these are books I always prefer to listen to as Angus King does such a wonderful job of bringing Neil Broadfoot’s characters to life for me. I have been describing Violent Ends as “Line of Duty meets Backdraft.” The clash and grudging cooperation of Police and Fire Services made for a hugely entertaining story. It’s also full on action which just made it damned hard to find a “good” spot to stop listening and rejoin the real world.


Having the wrong client can be murder….

The voice was smooth, cultured, almost tender as it oozed from the phone into Connor Fraser’s ear. ‘I’ve heard about you, Mr Fraser, and I’m very impressed by your work. So I’ve decided to employ you. I am going to kill Father John Donnelly sometime in the next seven days. And you are going to stop me—or die trying. If you check your account, you’ll see I’ve deposited £70,000. And, just to be fair, I’ll give you an hour, starting now, to find Father Donnelly before the games begin. Refuse my offer, and someone you love will die. Good hunting, to both of us.’

The thought it’s a sick joke lasts for as long as it takes Connor to find that £70,000 has been deposited into his PayPal account and for him to receive an email with a picture of his grandmother. With no choice but to make a deal with the devil, Connor races to unmask a killer before he strikes and uncovers a mystery that stretches back decades, threatening the people closest to him.




Silverweed Road – Simon Crook (Narr: Karai, Nicholas Camm, Sam Stafford)

It was something of a shock to add The Dynasty (a non-fiction audiobook) to my list of favourite listens – I don’t really read non-fiction. However, if you had told me in January I would be including a collection of short stories in my list of favourites I would have laughed you out of town. I never enjoy short stories. Except now I can’t say that as Silverweed Road was great fun. A collection of quirky, creepy and horrifying tales which all play out in the same housing estate but are all vastly different in the telling. Some characters or events may overlap (bleed?) into more than one story and this just made the whole expereince more absorbing.


A collection of chilling and weird stories all set on one (seemingly) everyday suburban street in the UK…

Behind each door lies something strange and terrifying. Here, the normal is made nightmarish, from howls of were-foxes to satanic car-boot sales. Creepy, terrifying and witty by turn, Silverweed Road deals in love, loss, isolation, loneliness, obsession, greed and revenge. As the screw turns with each story, Crook creates a world of pure imagination, constantly surprising, in a setting that is instantly recognisable but other-worldly at the same time.

This is fun British suburban horror at its best, with nods to M.R. James, Angela Carter, Roald Dahl and echoes of Inside No. 9, Stranger Things and Black Mirror.



And there we have it – ten great books which I enjoyed having someone else read to me.

Many people don’t feel they can enjoy an audiobook. I didn’t enjoy audiobooks until relatively recently but they make long drives more fun, nightly dog walks more varied and the daily commute more tolerable. I am already excited to get started on listening to more books so I can share my favourites in December 2023. If you have any suggestions for books I should try then please tweet me @grabthisbook






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December 12

A Deadly Covenant – Michael Stanley

When a human skeleton is discovered at the site of a controversial new dam in remote northern Botswana, rookie Detective Kubu is drawn into a terrifying local feud, and discovers a deadly covenant that could change everything…

While building a pipeline near the Okavango Delta, a contractor unearths the remains of a long-dead Bushman. Rookie Detective David ‘Kubu’ Bengu of Botswana CID and Scottish pathologist, Ian MacGregor, are sent to investigate, and MacGregor discovers eight more skeletons.

Shortly after the gruesome discoveries, the elder of a nearby village is murdered in his home. The local police are convinced it was a robbery, but Kubu isn’t so sure … and neither is the strange woman who claims that an angry river spirit caused the elder’s death.

As accusations of corruption are levelled and international outrage builds over the massacre of the Bushman families, Kubu and his colleagues uncover a deadly covenant, and begin to fear that their own lives may be in mortal danger…



My thanks to Orenda Books for the digital review copy I received of A Deadly Covenant. Thanks also to Anne Cater of Random Things Blog Tours for the opportunity to host this leg of the blog tour.


As I write my review of A Deadly Covenant there is snow on the ground outside my window, this book transported me to the heat of Botswana and let me forget the creeping which was descending over Scotland. Though I was startled by a brief mention of a small Scottish village just fifteen minutes from my house – a good story really can take you around the world!

I say the story transported me because the scene setting and locations play such an important role in the Detective Kubu books.  I am constantly amazed I can have a clear image in my mind of what Kubu is seeing and the places he visits, despite the fact I have never been anywhere near Botswana. The authors seem to always excel at weaving Kubu’s world around me and I never fail to become caught up in the story.

A Deadly Covenant takes the readers back to the days of “young Kubu”. It is a few months since the success of his first case and Kubu is very much still finding his feet and learning the ropes. Having first encountered an older and wiser Kubu I am very much enjoying this more cautious and vulnerable period in his life and it gives the books a very different feel too.

In the story Kubu is travelling far from home to a remote corner of the country where a controversial water pipeline is being laid. The construction has temporarily paused due to the discovery of a human skull as the ground was dug away to lay pipes. Kubu and a well-travelled Scottish pathologist (Dr Macgregor) are sent to investigate. Under the instruction of the doctor; the skull and other human remains are excavated with care so he can begin his examination of the remains. However, it soon becomes apparent there are bones of more than one person buried in the sands – multiple deaths will bring multiple headaches.

The bodies appear to have been buried for at least a decade, perhaps longer, and Kubu and Mcgregor will be challenged to investigate events which none of the locals claim to have any knowledge of and are happy to assume was a sad accident or happened many years before they were born. No facts support these claims but disassociation and denial is rife.

The pipeline promises opportunity for the towns residents who will benefit from more water reaching their land. It’s a large project and has European funding money behind it too. As is the same the world over – money and local politics will make for dangerous bedfellows and tensions are rising between old friends and neighbours. Not long after Kubu arrives the problems start to come to a head and an influential member of the community is killed in his bed as he rested.

A Deadly Covenant brings us another methodical investigation by Detective Kubu and it’s always a real treat to follow his progress (or lack of it) as he doggedly chases down clues. In these earlier years much of his legwork is done under the instruction of his boss who guides Kubu and helps highlight the skills he needs to develop to become better at his job. It is very much a refreshing angle as so many of the police stories I read focus on the experienced investigators; seeing our lead character make mistakes and have those mistakes pointed out to him makes for good reading.

I never fail to enjoy a Detective Kubu book and A Deadly Covenant is another cracker. Loved it.



A Deadly Covenant is published by Orenda Books and is available in paperback, digital and audiobook format. You can order a copy here: https://www.amazon.co.uk/gp/product/B0B4Z2GC4Z/ref=dbs_a_def_rwt_bibl_vppi_i0

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