Murder On The Levels ~ #CosyMystery by @ FrancesEvesham #RBRT #TuesdayBookBlog

  • Murder on the levelsAuthor: Frances Evesham
  • Published: February 2016 by AinsleyAssociates
  • Category: Cosy Mystery
  • four-stars

Love cosy crime, murder mysteries, clever animals and chocolate? Don’t miss Murder on the Levels, the second Exham on Sea mystery, set in a seaside town in Somerset. 
Two cyclists die on the Somerset Levels, and the Exham bakery gets the blame. Libby Forest runs into danger as she sets out to solve the mystery, save the bakery and rescue her career, helped by Bear, the enormous Carpathian Sheepdog, Fuzzy, an aloof marmalade cat and the handsome, secretive Max Ramshore. 

Burnham on Sea LighthouseThe second book in this cozy mystery series set in the Somerset seaside town of Exham on Sea. Since helping to solve the murder of a local girl made good the year before, things have been pretty quiet for Libby Forest. That was all about to change. Libby and her goth lodger, Mandy, work for Frank at Wolf the Bread’s bakery and the cycling club have left their sandwiches in the bakery van. Frank asks Libby to take the packages out to the cyclists on the Somerset Levels.  Continue reading

Before He Finds Her by @michael_kardos #mystery #audiobook @justjuliawhelan #SundayBlogShare

  • BeforeHeFinds herAudiobook Review
  • Author: Michael Kardos
  • Performed by Julia Whelan
  • Released by Audible: November 2015 and Published by Jammer Audio
  • Category: Suspense, Mystery
  • four-half-stars

Everyone in the quiet Jersey Shore town of Silver Bay knows the story: on a Sunday evening in September 1991, Ramsey Miller threw a blowout block party, then murdered his beautiful wife and three-year-old daughter.

The story opens with a blog post from Arthur Goodale, an eighty-one year old blogger, writing from his hospital bed in the critical care unit after having bypass surgery. A retired newspaperman, one story which has never been solved is always present in Arthur’s thoughts. That is the case of murdered Alison Miller and the subsequent disappearance of her husband, Ramsey Miller and their daughter, Meg. No motive was ever uncovered and no sightings of Ramsey or Meg have ever been reported but their disappearance led the people of Silver Bay and the authorities to believe Ramsey was responsible. Why Ramsey did it and how he and Meg vanished, and where to, have plagued Arthur for the fifteen years since the murder. Continue reading

To Helen Back ~ A River Road Mystery #1

  • ToHelenBackAudiobook
  • Author: Susan McBride
  • Performed by Joyce Bean
  • Released: October 2015 by Harper Audio
  • Category: Cozy Mystery
  • four-stars

In this fun and sassy new mystery, USA Today best-selling author Susan McBride introduces us to Helen Evans, a modern-day Miss Marple who must expose a murderer in a town full of suspects! 

When Milton Grone turns up dead in tiny River Bend, Illinois, nearly all the would-be suspects have the perfect alibi: attending Thursday night’s town meeting. And as Milton was hardly beloved, plenty of folks had a reason to do him in.

Though most of River Bend would rather reward the killer than hang him, Sheriff Biddle’s not about to let this one go – and neither is Helen Evans. With a penchant for puzzles and an ear for innuendo, Helen quickly fingers the culprit before Biddle puts the wrong suspect in jail.

Milton Grone is widely disliked, if not actively hated, by the residents of the small town of River Bend, Illinois. His treatment of ex-wife Delilah, and new, much younger wife Shotsie leaves a lot to be desired. He wants nothing to do with his and Delilah’s two sons and refuses to pay alimony. He’s miserly and penny-pinching despite being quite well off. Grone’s next door neighbour, Felicity Timmons, bears the brunt of his boorish behaviour and harassment. He’s also coming under fire from most of the residents for selling land, which was promised to the townspeople, to developers who want to build a water park. Continue reading

Eli’s Coming ~ Chasing The Night Book 1

  • EliAuthor: Darcia Helle
  • Published: April 2015 by CreateSpace Independent Publishing Platform
  • Category: Dark Fantasy
  • four-half-stars

Eli’s dark legacy holds murder as his rite of passage. They say his ability is a gift. He calls it a curse. A life of violence and heartache leaves him with nothing left to fight for. Or so he thinks. Amanda steals his heart, but love makes him vulnerable. He must give her up or accept who he is and fight. Will he risk stepping into the darkness that could consume him?

Eli Hayes has a secret, an ability like no other. As a descendant of the Native American Timucua, he has special powers. One in particular that others would kill for. That and his dark and traumatic past, revealed gradually as the story progresses, has kept him quite isolated and deeply private, while writing best-selling non fiction. Could he, or should he, keep running from a past which haunts and threatens to destroy him? When he meets Amanda and they begin a relationship, something Eli has completely avoided up until now, his life starts to change. Continue reading

The Devil’s Game ~ The Game Trilogy #2

Daniel Byrne spent ten years as a Vatican investigator, scrutinizing and debunking miracle claims – until he burned that life to the ground when one investigation shook his faith and revealed disturbing earthly conspiracies. Determined to find the truth, he steps into a new life of secrets and lies, joining a powerful group that wields hidden influence over world events. 

Daniel infiltrates a covert government facility and uncovers a bizarre new strain of the Plague that seems to flood the minds of its victims with visions of the future. Teaming up with disgraced physician Kara Singh, a woman beset with inexplicable visions of her own, Daniel traces the root of this deadly pathogen around the globe, and discovers a terrifying truth.

Daniel Byrne, excommunicated priest and ex Vatican investigator, who exposed fraudulent miracle claims, is now working for the Fleur-de-Lis Foundation, a rival of the corrupt Council for World Peace, a very misnamed organisation. Continue reading

Cold Moon ~ The Huntress/FBI Thrillers #3

Audiobook Review

  • ColdMoonAuthor: Alexandra Sokoloff
  • Performed by RC Bray
  • Published: July 2015 by Brilliance Audio
  • Category: Crime, Thriller, Suspense
  • five-stars

The hunt for mass murderer Cara Lindstrom is over. FBI Special Agent Matthew Roarke has been working for this moment: the capture of a killer who savagely hunts the worst of humanity. But Roarke remains traumatized by his own near-death at the hands of the serial killer who slaughtered Cara’s family…and haunted by the enigmatic woman who saved his life.

Then the sixteen-year-old prostitute who witnessed Cara’s most recent murder goes missing, and suddenly pimps are turning up dead on the streets of San Francisco, killed with an MO eerily similar to Cara’s handiwork.

Continuing the story of Cara Lindstrom, the sole survivor at five years old of her family’s horrific massacre by a serial killer, and FBI Assistant Special Agent in Charge, Matthew Roarke, whose career in law enforcement is a direct result of Cara’s tragic past. Continue reading

Honour & Obey ~ A Victorian Murder Mystery #2

  • Honour&ObeyAuthor: Carol Hedges
  • Published: November 2014 by Crooked Cat Publishing Ltd
  • Category: Historical Fiction, Murder, Mystery
  • five-stars

The long awaited sequel to Diamonds & Dust , Honour & Obey brings together Detective Inspector Leo Stride and his assistant Detective Sergeant Jack Cully. It is London, 1861 and a serial killer stalks the dark gaslit streets.
In another part of the city, Hyacinth Clout, bullied and despised by her older sister, decides to find love via the lonely hearts column of a newspaper. But will it be romance, or ruin?

A serial killer stalks the streets of London targeting the unfortunate women working in or for the sweat shops of the garment industry. Until that is, a well to do young lady meets her maker in a theatre box. The women all are all killed in the same way but unfortunately Detective Inspector Leo Stride and his Detective Sergeant, Jack Cully, of the detective division of the Metropolitan Police, aren’t making a lot of progress. The killer leaves no evidence and no witnesses have come forward. Only Emily Benet whose friend was the first victim, is willing to help the detectives. Stride and Cully must use any and all means at their disposal to try and apprehend the killer. Once again they are persecuted by the press for failing to do so in record time, with discrediting headlines, such as ‘Ghastly Murder’ and ‘Baffled Detectives’ which do nothing but hamper the investigation. Continue reading

Friday Five Challenge ~ Would you Buy or Pass? .@rosieamber1 #FridayFiveChallenge Dead Secret #crime #suspense

Rosie Amber’s Friday Five Challenge, involves taking only five minutes to choose a book cover which appeals instantly. So take a break …..and have a browse.

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In today’s online shopping age, readers often base their buying decisions from small postage stamp size book covers (Thumb-nails), a quick glance at the book description and the review. How much time do they really spend making that buying decision?

AUTHORS – You often only have seconds to get a reader to buy your book, is your book cover and book bio up to it?

My Friday Five Challenge is this….. IN ONLY FIVE MINUTES….

1) Go to any online book supplier,

2) Randomly choose a category,

3) Speed through the book covers, choose one which has instantly appealed to your eye,

4) Read the book Bio/ Description for this book, and any other details.

5) If there are reviews, check out a couple,

6) Make an instant decision, would you BUY or PASS?

Rather than choose a specific category this week, I went for new arrivals for the last 30 days. I passed a couple that caught my eye as I was scrolling because they were part of a series. Then I saw this one.. Continue reading

Outsourced

  • OutsourcedAuthor: Eric J Gates
  • Published: September 2014 by CreateSpace Independent Publishing Platform
  • Category: Crime, Thriller
  • five-stars

What’s the most dangerous gift a fan could send to an author? And if that fan was a professional assassin? New York-based writer Nic Stiles receives a strange package in the mail. It’s not long before he realises what it represents will change his life… with deadly consequences. Others want the package’s contents too, including a high-tech Intelligence agency who will stop at nothing to obtain it. …and the sender wants it back! 

An intriguing, complex and multilayered thriller beginning with the acquittal of mass murderer, Robert Polanski. Even though his lawyer and the police know he’s guilty they can’t prove it conclusively. Before disappearing into obscure and tropical ‘retirement’ from his crimes, Polanski has one last task. The package he sends off in the mail launches an incredible chain of events. Continue reading

Unlawful Greed

AudiobookReview

  • UnlawfulGreedAuthor: Pamela Samuels Young
  • Performed by RC Bray
  • Published: Goldman House Publishing, released on Audible February 2015
  • Category: Crime, Mystery, Short Story
  • four-half-stars

Featured in the Anthology, The Funeral, this fast-paced short story wastes no time pulling the reader into a fascinating whodunit. When a prominent L.A. lawyer is found dead in his office, the detectives assigned to solve the crime search high and low for clues. What they discover at the lawyer’s funeral, may well lead them to his killer. But will the murderer turn out to be among the usual suspects?

Not used to anything but victory in his court cases, high-powered lawyer Vernon Jackson Jones was nevertheless feeling a little nervous as he waited for the verdict in his latest case. He needn’t have worried. The jury found in favour of his client. He wished his personal life was as successful but with a cheating wife, an alcoholic partner and a sponging son it wasn’t easy going. 

Vernon did not want to think about the only real family he had. All three of them had disappointed him greatly, forcing him to finally make some tough decisions he should have made years ago.

It was time for Vernon to sort his life out. He should have known a much younger, gorgeous woman wouldn’t be content to sit waiting for someone who worked the hours he did. He could see his third divorce looming. As for his son, Vernon knew he’d been spoiled in compensation for the death of his mother. The last, and hardest, item on his to do list was firing his partner.

When Vernon is found dead in his office from gunshot wounds, Detectives Helen Lawrence and Candace Malveaux have several ready-made suspects heading their enquiries. 

I had to feel sorry for Vernon, he’s not a bad man just the classic rich, older and good-looking man wanting a young and beautiful wife. Unfortunately the attraction, in the main, is his money. His son has been wrongly over indulged and pampered all his life, but for understandable reasons. And Vernon feels genuine sadness over his partner’s troubles. The problem is Vernon just can’t see what’s under his nose.

A very good whodunit with an ironic twist at the end, during the reading of the will. The two detectives are great characters and play well off each other. Although the audio is less than an hour it has a well paced and believable plot, great writing and a wonderful narration by RC Bray. 

Book links ~ Amazon UK Amazon US

About the author

PamelaSamuelsYoungPamela Samuels Young is a practicing attorney and bestselling author of the legal thrillers

Every Reasonable Doubt, In Firm Pursuit, Murder on the Down Low, Attorney-Client Privilege, Buying Time and Anybody’s Daughter. She is also a natural hair enthusiast and the author of Kinky Coily: A Natural Hair Resource Guide. In addition to writing legal thrillers and working as Managing Counsel for Labor and Employment Law for a major corporation, Pamela formerly served on the board of directors of the Los Angeles Chapter of Mystery Writers of America and is a diehard member of Sisters in Crime-L.A. The former journalist and Compton native is a graduate of USC, Northwestern University and UC Berkeley’s School of Law. To read an excerpt of Pamela’s novels, visit www.pamelasamuelsyoung.com.

Author links ~ Twitter, Facebook

The One That Got Away

AudiobookReview

  • TheOneThatGotAwayAuthor: Simon Wood
  • Performed by Emily Durante
  • Published: March 2015 by Brilliance Audio
  • Category: Murder, Suspense, Thriller, Crime
  • four-half-stars

Graduate students Zoë and Holli only mean to blow off some steam on their road trip to Las Vegas. But something goes terribly wrong on their way home, and the last time Zoë sees her, Holli is in the clutches of a sadistic killer. Zoë flees with her life, changed forever.

A year later and still tortured with guilt, Zoë latches on to a police investigation where the crime eerily resembles her abduction. Along with a zealous detective, she retraces the steps of that fateful night in the desert, hoping that her memory will return and help them find justice for Holli. Her abductor—labeled the “Tally Man” by a fascinated media—lies in wait for Zoë. For him, she is not a survivor but simply the one that got away.

Holli and Zoë’s road trip to Las Vegas ended in a way neither of them could ever have imagined. Waking up on the floor of a shed naked and bound hand and foot, Zoë was unable to comprehend how she got there. She remembered stopping for food on their way back but after that, nothing. Then she heard the screams. She had to get out and help Holli. Managing, after several failed attempts, to cut her ties she frantically ran through her options. Unable to see a way to overpower their abductor and free Holli, she told herself the best option was to try and reach her car and get help. Realising neither option would end well she raced for the car.

Over twelve months on from that horrific experience Zoë’s life has altered drastically. Suffering from guilt because she survived and PTSD type symptoms, Zoë is haunted by Holli’s screams for help. She wants to believe Holli is alive somewhere but knows it’s highly unlikely. Having taken up self-defence classes Zoe now works as a mall security guard. She has a tendency to put herself in potentially threatening situations where she can feel in control of her life instead of victimized. The only person she really trusts is her therapist, David Jarocki.

In the year or so she’d been his patient, she’d come to trust him. She felt safe with her thoughts in this room, with him as referee. But she didn’t give him carte blanche to all her emotions. As much as he was the expert on all things to do with the mind, he fell down in one aspect – experience. He hadn’t abandoned a friend to her death. He hadn’t fought against cowardice and lost. He wasn’t a worthless piece of crap like her.

Seeing a news report of a murder victim found locally, Zoë is sure it’s the work of her abductor. Without thinking rationally she races over to the crime scene and her reckless actions get her on the news report covering the story, causing her path to cross once again with the abductor who is never far from her thoughts.

I like the antagonist to have a back story and this one certainly did. There’s no excuse for the atrocities a person like this commits although I can feel sorry for the child he was. The story is told from the viewpoints of Zoë and the killer, which gives a good insight into both characters. The survivor’s guilt feelings, remaining anger, lack of control in certain situations, all the after effects of Zoë’s trauma are described in detail and with realism. It shows how a personality can be reshaped by something shocking and completely unexpected happening and what it takes to get a life back on track. I’d pictured several endings, none of which were correct and I enjoyed Emily Durante’s narration, she did a great job.

Book links ~ Amazon UK Amazon US

Author links ~ Website, Twitter, Facebook, Goodreads

About the author

SimonandRoystonlowSimon Wood is a California transplant from England. He’s an ex-competitive racecar driver, a licensed pilot and an occasional private investigator. He shares his world with his American wife, Julie. Their lives are dominated by a longhaired dachshund and five cats. In the last ten years, he’s had over 150 stories and articles published. His stories have been included in “Best of” anthologies and he’s a frequent contributor to Writer’s Digest. He’s the Anthony Award winner and a Crime Writers Dagger Award finalist. He’s the author of Working Stiffs, Accidents Waiting to Happen, Paying the Piper, Terminated, We All Fall Down, Asking For Trouble, The Fall Guy, Hot Seat and Did Not Finish. His next thriller is, The One That Got Away due out in February 2014. He also writes horror under the pen name of Simon Janus. Those titles include The Scrubs and Road Rash.

Bridged (Mason Callahan #2)

AudiobookReview

After a congressman’s tortured body is found dangling from a Portland bridge, the FBI joins the Oregon State Police to investigate the case – and FBI Special Agent Ava McLane, still recovering from a bullet wound, hunts the twisted killer alongside the man who captured her heart, police detective Mason Callahan.

Mason Callahan, a detective with the Oregon State Police, and Ava McLane, an FBI agent, are in an evolving relationship that began in the first book of the series (Vanished), and are effectively living together. Ava is recovering from the serious injury she sustained during her last case and is on temporary assignment to the Violent Crimes division. Her twin sister, Jayne, is still causing distress with her self-destructive, addictive behaviours and although it’s nothing new and Ava has tried countless times to help without success, she can’t give up on her sister.

Mason and his partner, Ray Lusco, are called out to a homicide victim hanging from the Fremont Bridge. The victim is Congressman Carson Scott. The murder of a federal official comes under the jurisdiction of the FBI so Ava and her colleague Zander Wells are called in and a task force is convened. 

He could end it here. Toss his intricate plan to the wind. There was something soothing about the thought. To never worry about anything ever again. Suddenly he understood the appeal of suicide to the people who struggled; they simply wanted everything to stop. Everything. Still leaning over the edge, he raised his head and looked at Portland’s skyline. Beautiful. Colors and lights. He had no desire to end things now. He was just getting started.

When two more murders at local bridges follow in quick succession, the race is on to find the connection between the victims and the killer before he has the chance to strike again. Ava and Mason are not making much progress when Jayne makes contact with Ava, frightened for the safety of her unsavoury boyfriend. Trying to help her sister, Ava is caught up in an extremely dangerous situation. As Mason and the team desperately dig into the victims’ pasts and begin to uncover the terrible truth, the extent of the killer’s story slowly emerges. Time is running out for Ava unless Mason and the team can fit all the pieces together and reach her in time. 

With a steadily built up and tension filled storyline, believable and engaging characters and a lovely romantic relationship, this is a great follow-up to Vanished. Mason intrigued me from the start, with his credible personality, cowboy hat and boots, the total opposite of his partner’s outfits. He initially kept his emotions well under control but having Ava in his life has made his world a better place.

He’d been living a dull, dry life and she was a burst of color in his black and white world.

Several passages, written extremely well, from the perspective of the killer influenced, and changed, my perception of both victims and killer. I have to admit to slight feelings of sympathy and pity towards the murderer. Terrible memories, feelings of guilt and remorse have played on his mind until, in a twisted way, he believes he’s making amends for the past. The villain isn’t stereotypical, he has a story and a reason, which makes perfect sense to him, if nobody else.

I like the growing relationship between Mason and Ava and the way the characters are developing. The narrative is a well written tale of mystery and suspense and, although I’m not always a fan of dual narrations, this worked well and both Amy McFadden and Nick Podehl give solid performances. I enjoy Kendra Elliot’s writing very much and I’ll be looking out for book three.

Book links ~ Amazon UK Amazon US

Author links ~ Website, Goodreads, Facebook, Twitter

Wrongful Death (Detective Jackson #10)

AudiobookReview

  • WrongfulDeathAuthor: L J Sellers
  • Performed by Patrick Lawlor
  • Published: February 2015 by Brilliance Audio
  • Category: Crime, Thriller, Suspense
  • four-half-stars

On a chilly Oregon morning, a policeman is found slain near the homeless camp where he’d been passing out blankets the night before. When Detective Jackson is called to the scene, witnesses point to a pair of mentally ill street twins as the likely perpetrators.

As the case progresses and arrests are made, the homeless community revolts against the police, and the chaos pulls detectives away from their investigations. Tension mounts, and the evidence begins to link a series of sexual assaults to the death of the murdered officer. The task force is quickly faced with a dangerous decision: Should they risk the life of another young victim to catch the killer?

Two investigations usually run simultaneously in the Detective Jackson series and Wrongful Death is no exception. The story opens with high school student, Ashley Devonshire, who is the victim of a sex crime. Her parents are being blackmailed with a demand for money if they want a video of the assault to be destroyed.  This results in very tragic consequences for sixteen year old Ashley.

The video will go viral unless you pay me $15,000 to destroy it. You have until five today to get the cash. If you call the police, I’ll post it everywhere.

Wade Jackson is called to investigate the murder of police officer Dan Thompson near a homeless camp, where he had been handing out blankets and clothing. Thompson is the cousin of Jackson’s partner, Rob Schakowski. Suspicion falls on twins Jacob and Henry Walsh, who have been living on the streets of Eugene for years. Schak is too emotionally involved with the murder to work the case and has been given the job of investigating the sexual assault. 

Along with the high profile murder case, Jackson is also dealing with major issues in his personal life. The most prominent being his teenage daughter, Katy, who having gone through a rough and rebellious time since her mother died, is several months pregnant. Dividing his time between his job and family commitments is no easy task.

The characters are developing progressively with each book, especially Schak in this one, showing strengths, weaknesses and insights into personalities, portraying just how damaging to health and family life being a detective can be. This is a believable storyline, well thought through, and it brings home some of the horrendous things the police have to deal with. 

Two seemingly unrelated cases are woven together skilfully and evolve into an intricate and complex investigation with an unexpected conclusion. The personal aspect and social issues of homelessness and the interaction between the police and street people are explored, adding depth to the story. A series which gets better with each book and, as always, great characterisation and narration by Patrick Lawlor.

Book links ~ Amazon UK Amazon US

About the author

LJL.J. Sellers writes the bestselling Detective Jackson mystery/thriller series–a two-time Readers Favorite Award winner–as well as the Agent Dallas series and provocative standalone thrillers. Her 16 novels have been highly praised by reviewers, and she’s one of the highest-rated crime fiction authors on Amazon. 

L.J. resides in Eugene, Oregon where many of her novels are set and is an award-winning journalist who earned the Grand Neal. She’s also the founder of Housing Help, a charity dedicated to keeping families from becoming homeless. When not plotting murders or working with her foundation, she enjoys standup comedy, cycling, social networking, and attending mystery conferences. She’s also been known to jump out of airplanes. For more about L.J., visit her website: http://ljsellers.com, Twitter and Facebook

The Body On The T ~ Sergeant Windflower #2

  • BodyontheTAuthor: Mike Martin
  • Kindle Edition
  • Published: September 2013 by Baico Publishing
  • Category: Murder, Mystery
  • four-stars

The Body on the T is the second book in the Windflower mystery series and it follows up on the highly acclaimed premiere, The Walker on the Cape. The story begins when a body washes up on a beach near Grand Bank, Newfoundland. There is no identification on the body and few clues to identify who the person was or where they came from. The case becomes the responsibility of Sgt. Winston Windflower of the Royal Canadian Mounted Police and his trusted side-kick, Corporal Eddie Tizzard.

Sergeant Winston Windflower’s peaceful days and straightforward police work ‘dodging moose and reckless teens’ comes to an end when an unidentified body is washed up on the shore of the interestingly named ’T’ near Grand Bank. As he and Corporal Eddie Tizzard begin their investigation it’s soon apparent the case is much more involved than first thought, especially when thousands of dollars are found sewn into the dead man’s jacket lining. And to make matters worse Windflower has to suspend one of his officers. On the plus side his relationship with Sheila from the Mug-Up café has progressed and they are a solid couple.

Windflower is recruited by Inspector Arsenault of Marystown for temporary special assignment to his drug task force team to stop a huge drug running operation. The situation is further complicated by the discovery of a second body which points to a continuation of the drug related crimes in the first book. Windflower leaves Tizzard in charge on Grand Bank while he works out of Marystown. If all that wasn’t enough Windflower has to divide his time in order to manage a critical situation in his personal life.

RCMP Sergeant Winston Windflower had lived in this small Newfoundland community on the east coast of Canada for a little over three years. He had grown to like the rugged coastline and its hardy and sometimes quirky people who were reluctant to embrace outsiders. But Windflower had managed to win most of them over through his friendly form of community policing but even more so because he got things done. People still remembered him as the one who ended the criminal empire of Harvey Brenton and even though he was a Cree from Northern Alberta they had almost adopted him as one of their own.

There are several short references to the first book that only add to the story and don’t confuse or detract, if you haven’t already read The Walker on the Cape.

I like Windflower as a protagonist very much and although there was a little more mention of his native Cree culture and traditions I felt these could have played a bigger part, perhaps more so than knowing what he ate for every meal. I did enjoy the setting very much, and the vivid scenic descriptions of the area. Also the fact that Windflower is enjoying his job running the RCMP division in Grand Bank and has become an integral part of the community.

The narrative itself is very straightforward making for an easy read. The police procedural develops at steady pace, along the lines of a cozy mystery. I love the cover image, it looks like a photograph and makes me want to visit.

Book links ~ Amazon US Amazon UK

Zero Separation

AudiobookReview

  • ZeroAuthor: Philip Donlay
  • Performed by Luke Daniels
  • Published: Brilliance Audio, released on Audible March 2013
  • Category: Crime, Thriller, Mystery
  • four-half-stars

Donovan Nash has a secret he will do anything to keep. But he is the prime suspect after someone steals a 50-million-dollar executive jet, and FBI agent Veronica Montero puts him squarely in the crosshairs. As she digs, she discovers Nash’s secret – a revelation that, if made public, would stun the world.

Donovan Nash, the founder of Eco Watch, an environmental research company, and his partner and best friend, Michael Ross are flying their Gulfstream to Palm Beach. Getting caught in a thunderstorm forces them to divert to Boca Raton in Florida. This triggers a series of events, the magnitude of which no-one could have imagined. Michael is attacked and left for dead, the plane is stolen and Donovan crosses paths with FBI agent Veronica Montero. 

For a split second Donovan felt the air in the cockpit turn supercharged, the hair on his arms buzzed a brief warning, and the it seemed a flashbulb went off a foot in front of his face. Blinded, Donovan fought the spots that danced before his eyes and felt the sizzle of adrenaline hit his system. His ears popped from the pressure change, A moment later, he heard the deafening roar of thunder.

Donovan is hiding a secret that could ruin his life as well as that of his family and friends. Veronica Montero discovers Donovan’s hidden past and blackmails him into helping her with her plan to avenge her lover’s murder. They are drawn into life threatening danger, involving bio terrorism, murders, political intrigue and stolen airplanes. After a terrifying ordeal they just have one slim chance to stop a horrendous atrocity that would cause widespread loss of life. Which also looks likely to cost their own. 

I’m not a fan of an audiobook series with different narrators for each story so I took a chance with this one, since it’s the third book in the Donovan Nash series, (Luke Daniels narrating – so it was no contest) and actually, it can be listened to as a stand alone. There’s enough back information in the narrative, so I wasn’t ever lost with the storyline. It’s an exciting and tense thriller with an intricate plot and some amazing action sequences, in the air as well as on the ground. The fact that Mr Donlay is an experienced pilot, and is obviously very knowledgeable about aircraft and the associated technicalities, adds authenticity to the imaginative and dramatic story. 

Donovan saw the pain in her eyes. Her façade was breaking down and the vulnerability he’d seen earlier had returned. It wasn’t an act; it was something very real.

Donovan Nash is an intriguing protagonist with a complex background. I like the fact that he’s not a stereotypical action man, the type who’s an expert shot and never loses a fight sort of hero. His background unfolds as the story progresses revealing a complex, likeable and fallible character. Veronica Montero, on the other hand, is a woman on the edge, desperate to find the men who killed her partner and willing to go to any lengths to make them pay. The supporting characters are well defined and believable with realistic interaction. Great performance by Luke Daniels who never fails to deliver a perfectly voiced narration.

About the author

P.DonlayAs a young man, Philip Donlay’s life was shaped by two distinct events. At the age of seventeen, he earned his pilot’s license, and at eighteen was published in a national aviation magazine. The combination of these two passions: flying and writing, has led to successful careers as both a professional pilot and novelist.

His travels have taken him to over forty countries on five continents. Currently, Donlay divides his time between Minneapolis, Montana, and the San Juan Islands. He is the author of five novels, Category Five, Code Black, Zero Separation, Deadly Echoes, and the yet to be released, Aftershock.

Book links ~ Amazon UK Amazon US

Philip Donlay also has a Facebook page which can be found here

Diamonds And Dust ~ A Victorian Murder Mystery

  • DiamondsandDustAuthor: Carol Hedges
  • Published: November 2013 by Crooked Cat Publishing
  • Category: Historical, Fiction, Mystery, Murder
  • four-half-stars

When a horrific murder takes place on a dark night in 1860’s London, it changes two women for ever. New light is cast upon past lives they thought they knew so well, and suddenly their futures become intertwined. 

After a dismal start in life, eighteen year old Josephine King was rescued from the Bertha Helstone Institute for Orphaned Clergy Daughters (the name itself enough to strike fear into the heart) by her uncle, Herbert King. Herbert made his fortune abroad and now lives very comfortably. Josephine delights in the unaccustomed luxury and looks forward to a very pleasing future. But her world is turned upside down when she has a visit from the police to say her uncle has been murdered in very mysterious circumstances. The two policemen, Detective Inspector Stride and Detective Sergeant Cully, are not having much luck solving the case.

As Josephine tries to make sense of her uncle’s death and the strange events that follow, she and her uncle’s mistress, Lilith Marks, set out to track down the murderer. Josephine, now an heiress and the owner of a priceless diamond, has strength of character and is not cowed by being a young woman on her own. And Lilith, a highly paid prostitute who, thanks to Herbert King’s bequest, can now start the business she has always dreamed of. Circumstances have forged an unlikely friendship between the two women.

A wonderfully memorable secondary cast, who are all completely believable in the context of Victorian London, include Oi, the impish road sweeper and Trafalgar Moggs, the clerk at the offices of King & Co. I love the complexity and detail of these characters, the determined Mrs Thorpe and her daughter Isabella who can’t face her future nuptials to the debauched George Osborne (!) Isabella’s brother, the equally distasteful Gussy, who her mother is trying to pair off with Josephine. An heiress is, after all, a very good catch.

The descriptions of Victorian London are incredibly vivid and invoke a sense of actually being there with all the dirt and grime, the stark contrasts and immense divide between the haves and the have-nots.

It is midnight, a full moon and a cold mist rising up from the river. Mist ghosts the masts of sloops and Russian brigs waiting to unload their cargo. Mist curls itself possessively around sooty chimneys and rooftops. Mist gently fingers its way into fetid courts and alleyways…….

Dark columns of smoke rise from a million massed chimneys, for London in 1860 is a filthy, stinking city. There are too many people, too much coal dust, too many horses, and too many cow sheds and abattoirs.

Carol Hedges has a very individual style of writing which, to be honest I was a little unsure about initially, but I was very soon drawn into the flow of the story. Full of humour and wit, greed, affluence and the darker side of human nature, the story explores all levels of society. It’s a very entertaining read with some unexpected twists and a satisfying ending.

Book links ~ Amazon UK Amazon US

About the author

CarolCarol Hedges is the successful UK writer of 11 books for teenagers/Young Adults. Her writing has received much critical acclaim, and her novel Jigsaw was long-listed for the Carnegie Medal. Her four Spy Girl books, published by Usborne Books and featuring feisty sassy heroine Jazmin Dawson are available to buy on Amazon. Her ebook Jigsaw Pieces is also available in Amazon. Her latest book,Diamonds & Dust, A Victorian Murder Mystery is published by Crooked Cat books,and is available as both book and ebook. It is her first adult novel.Carol Hedges lives in Hertfordshire. When not writing/sleeping/trying to resist cake, she tutors A level and GCSE English Literature. She also campaigns as chair of a local action group to save a community urban green space from possible development. Bits of her writing life can be viewed on her blog: http://carolhedges.blogspot.com
Connect with Carol Hedges via Twitter: @carolJhedges

Cold Cold Heart

AudiobookReview

  • Cold Cold HeartAuthor: Tami Hoag
  • Performed by Julia Whelan
  • Published: Brilliance Audio and released on Audible January 2015
  • Category: Crime, Murder Mystery
  • four-half-stars

Dana Nolan was a promising young TV reporter until she was kidnapped by a notorious serial killer. A year has passed since she survived the ordeal, but Dana is still physically, emotionally, and psychologically scarred, racked with bouts of post-traumatic stress disorder and memory loss. In an attempt to put herself back together after surviving the unthinkable, Dana returns to her hometown. But it doesn’t provide the comfort she expects: she struggles to recognise family and childhood friends and begins experiencing dark flashbacks. But she’s not sure if they’re truly memories or side effects of her brain injury.

Dana Nolan had beauty, brains and her dream job as a news anchor. Until the day her life changed forever. She was abducted by a serial killer, who abused and tortured her physically and mentally, and mutilated her face and body. Dana had an incredibly strong desire to live which is amazing given the circumstances and now, at home with her mother and stepfather after nearly a year of rehabilitation and recovery, has no memory of her abduction or how she acquired her terrible injuries. She is still suffering from the effects of a severe brain injury resulting in, among other things, an inability to retain information or remember events from her past.

The prologue is very harrowing as shown by the opening paragraphs…

She should have been dead. After everything he had put her through, she should have dies hours before. There had been many moments during the ordeal when she wished she would die, when she wished he would just end the unimaginable suffering he was inflicting on her.

He had done things to her she could never have imagined, would never wanted to know one human being could be capable of doing to another.

John Villante has also returned home to Shelby Mills after suffering brain trauma, resulting in post traumatic stress disorder, during active service in the military. John has no loving family to care for him, just a drunk and abusive father who John avoids as much as possible. Seeing John and her ex boyfriend, Tim Carver, who is now the county deputy, jolts Dana’s memory of her best high school friend, Casey, who went missing seven years previously. 

Determined to piece together her memories in the hope of finding out what happened to Casey, Dana begins to experience disturbing memories from the time immediately prior to Casey’s disappearance. With help from Dan Hardy, the retired detective who was in charge of Casey’s case, Dana begins to piece together her memories. There are multiple suspects and someone doesn’t want the cold case solved and as the layers are peeled away, once again Dana faces a life or death situation.

This is my first Tami Hoag book and although it read like a novel of two halves, one being working through the process of recovery and the other a murder mystery, I will definitely look at previous works. The insight into the psychological scars Dana suffers and John’s PTSD symptoms have obviously been meticulously researched and really give an appreciation of the effects of such traumas. How the pre injury person is never the same as the post injury person. Dana describes herself as ‘before Dana’ and ‘after Dana’. Tami Hoag very realistically describes the emotions of a Traumatic Brain Injury survivor in great detail and gets right into Dana’s psyche. There’s a lot of description and detail throughout the story, which does get a little repetitive in some parts, but not enough to put me off.  There was also a sub plot involving Roger, Dana’s stepfather that remained unresolved. A follow on, maybe?

I thought Julia Whelan did an excellent job with the narration, she has a very natural and easy to listen to style with good characterisation and emotional content.

Please click on the book cover for Amazon UK. For Amazon US please click here.

About the author

TamiHoag#1 New York Times bestselling author Tami Hoag began her professional career writing for Bantam’s Loveswept line of romance novels. In 1988 her first novel, The Trouble With J.J. was published. 

With fifteen consecutive New York Times bestsellers to her credit, Hoag has more than 35 million books in print, published in more than twenty languages worldwide. Her first thriller, Night Sins, was made into a two-part mini-series in 1997, and continues to air frequently on cable networks more than a decade later.

A competitive equestrian in the Olympic discipline of dressage, Tami currently lives in Palm Beach County, Florida, where she competes her horses on the prestigious winter show circuit.

The Violin Man’s Legacy (Jack Calder #1)

  • TheViolinMan'sLegacyAuthor: Seumas Gallacher
  • Published: October 2012 by Seumas Gallacher
  • Category: Crime/Thriller/Suspense, Espionage
  • four-half-stars

Thriller with bloody twists and turns as ruthless killers meet their match in a former SAS hit squad….The trail of death and mayhem coils across Europe, Hong Kong and South America until all the scores are settled.

Immediately likeable and genuine, the main protagonist Jack Calder is ex SAS who now works, with a team of former colleagues, for ISP, an international security company run by their former commander, Jules Townsend. Their task is to investigate deadly robberies involving shipments of precious gems from a Dutch diamond merchant. It gets personal for Jack when a friend and former comrade is a victim of the first attack. 

Roddie Bell heard the shouts and his instinctive reaction kicked into overdrive. He sprinted towards the ongoing heist, drawing the gun from his side holster. He hardly had a chance to get it out. Two of the gunmen blasted at him, ripping out his throat and lower stomach. He was dead before his body hit the stone floor.

It’s soon apparent to Jack these are extremely well organised and executed raids. The resulting investigations in Amsterdam lead the team to the ISP headquarters in Hong Kong and much to Jack’s delight, the chief of that division is the beautiful May-Ling. The evidence they uncover points to a powerful organised crime ring based in Hong Kong and masterminded by the callous and powerful ‘Half Moon Twins’ twins, Jimmie and Jonnie Chan. Their corrupt network reaches far and wide, across Europe, Hong Kong and South America.

There’s a lot of interesting information and details about the Triad gangs and the process of shipping gems. The security team take no prisoners and get the job done with their own brand of justice and morality. I don’t know how true to life that aspect is but it’s certainly very conceivable. Jack and his team bring expertise to the job from their years as professional soldiers with the Special Air Service. I love the comradeship they share and the way they interact with each other. It brings a lot to a well thought out and plotted story.

All the characters are well written and Jack’s heartbreaking back story gives him extra dimension and is the catalyst that sets him on his career path. The location descriptions are rich and evocative, the action virtually non stop, beginning immediately with a Triad execution and an attack on armoured vehicles carrying gold bullion which is vicious but highlights how ruthless the bad guys are. The pace is good and escalates a lot in the second half of the book with the heightening of the action. I like that everything ties up neatly at the end and all the bad guys get their due.

About the author

SeumasSEUMAS GALLACHER escaped from the world of finance five years ago, after a career spanning three continents and five decades. 

As the self-professed ‘oldest computer Jurassic on the planet’ his headlong immersion into the dizzy world of eBook publishing opened his eyes, mind, and pleasure to the joys of self-publishing. As a former businessman, he rapidly understood the concept of a writer’s need to ‘build the platform’, and from a standing start began to develop a social networking outreach, which now tops 15,000 direct contacts. 

His first two crime-thrillers, THE VIOLIN MAN’S LEGACY and VENGEANCE WEARS BLACK blew his mind with more than 75,000 e-link downloads to date. The third in what has become the ‘Jack Calder’ series, SAVAGE PAYBACK, was launched late 2013. The fourth, KILLER CITY is his current work-in-progress.

He started a humorous, informative, self-publishers blog less than two years ago, never having heard of a ‘blog’ prior to that, was voted ‘Blogger of the Year 2013’ and now has a loyal blog following on his networks. He says the novels contain his ‘Author’s Voice’, while the blog carries his ‘Author’s Brand’. And he’s LUVVIN IT!

Seumas can also be found on Facebook and Twitter

Book links ~ Amazon UK Amazon US

The Spring Of Kasper Meier ~ Review and Competition

  • TheSpringofKasperMeierAuthor: Ben Fergusson
  • Published: January 2015 by Abacus
  • Category: Historical, Fiction
  • four-stars

The war is over, but Berlin is a desolate sea of rubble. There is a shortage of everything: food, clothing, tobacco. The local population is scrabbling to get by. Kasper Meier is one of these Germans, and his solution is to trade on the black market to feed himself and his elderly father. He can find anything that people need, for the right price. Even other people.

Many thanks to Emily Burns at LittleBrown and Co for sending me a copy for review.

Set in Berlin in post war 1946, with everything in extremely short supply, Kasper Meier trades information and deals in goods for the black market in order to keep himself and his elderly, sick father alive. He lives in one room in a half bombed out building where he secretes anything and everything that might be even remotely saleable. Kasper is despised for being homosexual, still illegal at the time, and tries to be as inconspicuous as possible. But when he is visited by one of the rubble women, Eva, a young girl who wants help finding information about a British pilot, he is drawn into a deadly web of intrigue.

‘I need someone’s help and no one will help me. I’ve got ways of paying for it, but still no one wants to take it on and you’re my last hope. What I’m saying is that I’ll make you a deal. You help me and I’ll pay you – simple as that. It’s no big issue for you. And if the payment isn’t enough of an incentive I promise not to….Well, you know – report you and Herr Neustadt.’

Kasper clucked his tongue  and scratched the side of his nose. ‘Blackmail is a very ugly business, Fräulein Hirsch.’

Berlin is a devastated, rubble strewn and dangerous city where the inhabitants struggle to survive, living by their wits. Some work clearing the rubble, others trade their bodies. Corruption is rife, lawlessness prevalent and soldiers thought guilt of rape are being found murdered. 

Frau Beckmann, a shadowy and elusive figure, who seems to control many of the girls, including Eva Hirsch, knows Kasper’s secret and is blackmailing him into finding the information she seeks. Despite fearing for his own life, Kasper feels afraid and sorry for Eva, and determines to find out what he can about Frau Beckmann and what her hold over the girls is. The more Kasper digs, the more sinister things appear. Nothing is as it seems and Kasper is drawn ever deeper into Beckmann’s machinations and the ensuing menace.

Initially, Kasper Meier seems to be a cold, unlikable and austere character, the description of a tall, lanky and bony man with an unsettling thickness of his straight, white hair, that despite brushing and trimming, stuck up in heavy tufts, yellowing slightly at the fringe, where the smoke from his cigarette curled up after staining the parts of his fingers that weren’t already blackened.’  Not to mention ‘his right eye, which was milky white and immobile. What had once been a shining black pupil, surrounded by a bright green iris, was now a faded blue stain beneath a smooth misty blue layer, like cooked egg white.’

As the story progresses however, the complexity and compassion of Kasper’s character begins to emerge, along with insights into the suffering and horror of his past life. There are ever deeper glimpses of the sad, hurting and kind-hearted man underneath the veneer. This is an intensely graphic and atmospheric account of life in a very bleak and war-torn Berlin, the desolation, the desperation and hopelessness of half-starved people who will do whatever it takes to survive, extremely apparent in Ben Fergusson’s very descriptive writing. 

Being slightly critical, I did feel the story was perhaps a little too drawn out and quite hard to follow in the first part of the book, and overall could maybe have done with slightly fewer than it’s almost 400 pages. After that, though, the pace and storyline pick up and with it the tension and emotion. There’s no compromise in the harrowing depiction of life and atrocities of a city destroyed and its people broken by war. It’s a very moving story, quite compelling, encompassing what must have been a huge amount of extensive historical research.

BenFergussonAbout the author

Ben Fergusson is a writer, editor and translator. Born in Southampton in 1980, he studied English Literature at Warwick University and Modern Languages at Bristol University, and has worked for ten years as an editor and publisher in the art world.

His short fiction has appeared in publications in both the UK and the US and has won and been shortlisted for a range of prizes, including the 2010 Bridport Prize. From 2009-2010 he edited the literary journal Chroma and since 2013 has been the editor of the short story magazine Oval Short Fiction. Currently based in London, his first novel, The Spring of Kasper Meier, was written during a four-year period living and working in Berlin.

Ben can also be found on Twitter

Please click on the book cover to be taken to Amazon UK, the book may also be purchased from Amazon US

Competition

The Spring of Kasper Meier is a gripping thriller set in a surreal and terrifying post-war Berlin, where nothing is quite what it seems. To celebrate publication of Ben Fergusson’s unforgettable debut, Little, Brown are running a ‘treasure hunt’ on twitter – with a prize of a weekend in Berlin up for grabs, as well as copies of the book.

The hunt starts on Monday 12th January, and runs all of this week. To take part in the hunt, you need to find four items that are featured in the book. Every day this week, a new item will be hidden on one these brilliant blogs:

Monday – www.workshyfop.blogspot.co.uk

Wednesday – www.betweenthelinesbookblog.wordpress.com/

Thursday – www.booksmonthly.co.uk

Friday – www.wondrousreads.com

Just find the picture of the item, save it, then tweet it with the #KasperMeier. We’ll pick five winners every day to get a free copy, and then one winner will be chosen at the end of the week for the weekend in Berlin!

PB KM visual 2 for Cathy

The Haunting Of Secrets

  • TheHauntingOfSecretsAuthor: Shelley R Pickens
  • Published: August 2014 by Melange Books – Fire and Ice YA
  • Category: Young Adult/Fantasy
  • four-stars

Rosie's Book Review Challengers 1

Sixteen-year-old Aimee doesn’t like to touch people. One touch and she sees their past. One graze over her skin and she can see all the good and bad deeds a person has ever done. It isn’t until a bomb explodes during lunch that she realizes exactly how many dirty secrets the students in her school harbors-or exactly how far one of them would go to keep his secrets safe.

For all that she is caring and warmhearted, Aimee is a loner and keeps people literally at arm’s length. It took her only friend, Dejana, a year to break through her reserve. Aimee is cursed with the ability to see, in detail, the memories of anyone she touches skin to skin. To others she appears to be weird and insular but the Goth attire of all black with long sleeves and gloves, whatever the weather, is her protection from personal contact.

So, I embrace a life of isolation. I shun human contact, afraid to let anyone close. The other kids tease me relentlessly and call me a freak behind my back, but I don’t care. If they only knew exactly what kind of freak I am, they would run the other way and never look back. Since I arrived at this school, I have encouraged their jeers, happy to do anything to keep them away from me……..For me, that kind of life is normal. It’s not a matter of fear; it’s all about survival.

When a bomb explodes in the school cafeteria, Aimee inadvertently touches someone in the ensuing confusion and chaos and is assaulted by horrific memories of torture and murder. Aimee doesn’t know who she touched, but realises it must be one of her fellow students who is the sadistic killer of her visions. She must find him before he kills again and enlists the help of Dejana and a new friend, Leah, who is a computer whizz. As Aimee recalls the killer’s memories and the friends’ gathering of information increases, it becomes apparent the killer is stalking Aimee and she is to be his next target. 

Aimee is the main protagonist. She is very strong-willed and a definite survivor considering how her life has been up to this point. Most of the story is told from her perspective with occasional passages from the killer’s point of view as well as one or two others. Aimee, Dejana and Leah are the strongest characters and are at the forefront, and as the story progresses more is revealed through the memories Aimee has absorbed and the mystery and tension build quickly. I did have my suspicions as to the killer’s identity but the other twists were a complete surprise. 

I enjoyed the book very much, although it was quite graphic and gory for the YA genre, but maybe that’s just my squeamishness surfacing. Even so, I would recommend this for older teens. Having said that, it’s a solid debut novel with good pacing and a distinct concept. I’ll be interested to see where the sequel takes Aimee.

My thanks to Shelley Pickens for sending me a copy for Rosie Amber’s book review team.

About the author

ShelleyRPickensShelley Pickens has been in love with anything and everything on the dark side of paranormal since the time she learned to read.  After 15 years of teaching Spanish to high schoolers, she decided to take her unique firsthand knowledge of young adults and apply it to her passion for creative writing and fantasy.  When not teaching or writing, Shelley likes to spend time with her husband and two beautiful children in Atlanta, Ga.  Her escape from reality is her love of complex thriller and science fiction TV series like Supernatural and Sleepy Hollow.  In her spare time she is an avid reader of all types of genres.  THE HAUNTING OF SECRETS is her debut novel.

Shelley may be found on Twitter and Facebook

The Walker On The Cape (Sgt. Windflower #1)

  • TheWalkerOnTheCapeAuthor: Mike Martin
  • Published: November 2012 by BookLocker.com, Inc
  • Category: Whodunit, Murder/Mystery
  • three-half-stars

A man’s body is found in a small fishing community on the East Coast. First, everyone thinks it’s a heart attack or stroke but then it’s discovered that he was poisoned. Who would do this and why? Finding that out falls to Winston Windflower and his side-kick Eddie Tizzard. Along the way, they discover there are many more secrets hidden in this small community and powerful people who want to keep it that way.

The people of Grand Bank, on the coast of Newfoundland, could set their clocks by Elias Martin. Every morning, whatever the weather, he walked from his house over the hills to the Cape. Until one day his body was discovered on the path by two tourists. His death was attributed to natural causes until the suspicions of Sergeant Winston Windflower of the RCMP were aroused. He and Constable Eddie Tizzard began an investigation into Elias Martin’s death and as new evidence comes to light it’s apparent murder has been committed. 

This solitary pilgrimage allowed him to mourn his wife Eileen without anyone intruding on his grief. More importantly, it allowed him to talk to her without anyone thinking he was crazier that he was. This walk was one that they had shared for almost forty years until she took sick and he still missed her and still needed to feel her comforting presence. He thought her long, painful, and ultimately fatal battle with cancer would be the worst part of his life. Now he knew that being without her was even worse.

There’s a lot I like about this story. Sergeant Windflower is a great character, a full-blooded Cree who has only been in his this post for a year. I enjoyed the glimpse into Windflower’s native culture and customs and I’d love for these to be explored in more depth as the series progresses, along with increased character development. There’s the beginnings of a sweet relationship between Windflower and the owner of the local cafe running in the background.

Windflower and Constable Tizzard work through the motives, opportunities and means of the suspects, and as the interrogations gain momentum they begin to fit all the pieces together. They have no help from their Inspector who seems to want the case closed as quickly as possible. Hmm, could Inspector MacIntosh be working to his own agenda? 

There are plenty of suspects with motives for murder to choose from, including Harvey Brenton and his wife Marge, who has a history with the victim. Roger Buffet and Ginger Grandy’s parents who all had a grudge against Elias Martin. Georgette Sheridan and her son, James also have ties to Grand Bank and Elias. Windflower’s investigation uncovers more than he expected, the discovery that corruption can reach to the higher levels even in small communities. The investigative procedure is realistic, the plot is well thought out and keeps the story moving.

Unfortunately, there were grammatical errors which should really have been picked up during the editing process. I’ll follow on with the second book in the series because this is a good story with interesting characters and hopefully the editing will be a bit tighter in the next instalment. 

About the author

MikeMartinI have always been a writer, even as I have earned a living doing many, many other things. For the last 15 years I have been a freelance writer, specializing in workplace and social policy issues. I have been published in newspapers and magazines acrossC anada, the United States and New Zealand. My first published book was Change the Things You Can: Dealing With Difficult People, published by Booklocker in 2011. TheWalkeron the Cape is my first published fiction book although I have published a number of short stories in periodicals and on-line.

For more information about me and my writing experience and samples of my work please visit www.mike54martin.com

Huntress Moon (The Huntress/FBI Thrillers #1)

  • HuntressMoonAudiobookReview
  • Author: Alexandra Sokoloff
  • Performed by RC Bray
  • Published by Alexandra Sokoloff and released on Audible May 2014
  • Category: Crime/Mystery/Suspense, Psychological
  • four-half-stars

A Thriller Award nominee for Best eBook Original Novel… Book 1 in award-winning author Alexandra Sokoloff’s riveting new Huntress FBI series about a driven FBI agent on the hunt for that most rare of all killers: a female serial.

Matthew Roarke, a special agent with the FBI, is in the midst of an investigation and while on his way to meet one of his undercover agents he notices a mysterious young woman on the opposite side of the road immediately before his agent is hit by an oncoming large semi truck. Roarke doesn’t believe in coincidences, especially since the woman has disappeared. He strongly suspects there’s more to this than meets the eye.

Since he was a boy, watching the news reports of a horrific massacre, Matt Roarke had his heart set on a career as an FBI agent. He and his right hand man, Damien Epps, begin to delve into the sequence of events that lead to the agent’s death, beginning with witness statements, one of which saw the mysterious woman speak to the agent seconds before he was hit by the truck.

Roarke needs to find the woman and as his investigation gains momentum more gruesome murders are uncovered. Now Roarke and his team need to make the connection between the victims and as the pieces begin to fall into places the horrifying details of the Huntress’ background start to emerge. 

She’d seen the road signs in the middle of the night and impulsively made the turn. She like hotels, motels too, the anonymity and uncomplicatedness of them.

The plan is clear. She will drive. It’s a huge state, a huge country. Plenty of open areas to get lost in and reduce the chances she will be found. She always keeps moving; there is less chance of tracking her. But for the next six days she must be as invisible as possible.

If she can just get through the next days….Just six more days.

The story alternates between Roarke’s perspective and the Huntress’ compelling point of view. Even though the murders are fairly grisly, once her heartbreaking story is fully revealed it would be hard not to feel some sympathy for her and, at the same time, horror at her actions. The storyline is devised wonderfully and the tension builds steadily with a thread of the psychological. And as events unfold good and evil are uncovered, connections are made and Roarke is totally conflicted.

Alexandra Sokoloff has crafted, not only an outstanding story, but also a cast of skilfully multi layered and believable characters. The locations in the story are vividly described to give a real sense of place. Combined with an excellent performance from RC Bray this is a fantastic listening experience. Definitely a series to follow.

About the author 

AlexandraSokoloffAlexandra Sokoloff is the Thriller Award-winning and Bram Stoker, Anthony, and Black Quill Award-nominated author of the supernatural thrillers The Harrowing, The Price, The Unseen, Book of Shadows, The Shifters, and The Space Between, and the Thriller Award-nominated, Amazon bestselling Huntress FBI thriller series (Huntress Moon, Blood Moon). The New York Times Book Review has called her a “daughter of Mary Shelley,” and her books “Some of the most original and freshly unnerving work in the genre.”

As a screenwriter she has sold original horror and thriller scripts and adapted novels for numerous Hollywood studios. She has also written two non-fiction workbooks: Screenwriting Tricks for Authors and Writing Love, based on her internationally acclaimed workshops and blog (ScreenwritingTricks.com), and has served on the Board of Directors of the WGA, west (the screenwriters union) and the board of the Mystery Writers of America.

Alex is a California native and a graduate of U.C. Berkeley, where she majored in theater and minored in everything Berkeley has a reputation for. In her spare time (!) she performs with Heather Graham’s all-author Slush Pile Players, and dances like a fiend. She is also very active on Facebook. But not an addict. Seriously, it’s under control.

Alexandra Sokoloff can be found on Twitter, Facebook and her website

Dance With The Enemy

  • DanceWithTheEnemyAuthor: Rob Sinclair
  • Published: May 2014 by Clink Street Publishing
  • Category: Crime/Mystery/Suspense
  • four-half-stars

Rosie's Book Review Challengers 1

Carl Logan was the perfect agent. A loner, with no real friends or family, he was trained to deal with any situation with cold efficiency, devoid of emotion. But Logan isn’t the man he used to be, or the asset he once was.

My thanks to Rob Sinclair for sending me a copy of his book for review purposes. 

Dance With The Enemy introduces Carl Logan, a covert operative for a British/USA Joint Intelligence Agency, who is on medical leave and in recovery after a life changing ordeal. Before his recuperation is complete he’s called in by his boss, Charles McCabe, when US Attorney General Frank Modena is abducted. When Logan learns Youseff Selim, the brutal terrorist who left him for dead five months ago could be involved with the kidnapping, he recognises a chance for revenge as his brief is to rescue Modena. The question is, is Logan ready for this new assignment? Most of the agency members don’t think so, only Mackie, Logan’s boss, is in his corner. Logan himself isn’t totally sure he’s up to this job. His previous assignment has had a profound effect on him, he’s lost the ability to contain and ignore the emotions he was trained to hold in check for the most part of his adult life.

Until five months ago. When everything had changed.

Now he could feel emotions once again. But he was filled with so much angst, anger, regret, shame – so many feelings coming to the fore that he didn’t know how to control. And sometimes he wished he was still the zombie he had been for the last eighteen years – almost half of his life.

As Logan follows the trail which he hopes will lead to Modena and more importantly to Selim, he reluctantly teams up with FBI Agent Angela Grainger. Each is wary of the other and although they are working together, Logan is pursuing his own agenda. It seems he’s not the only one. The deeper Logan and Grainger delve and the more the case evolves and the less straightforward it becomes. The layers of deceit and lies need to be peeled back one by one to find the motives and the real mastermind behind the conspiracy.

The writing is extremely well done and very descriptive with easy, genuine dialogue and realistic scenarios. Carl Logan is an intriguing character, complex and although he is recovering from the physical and mental damage he sustained he has the odd lapse, which makes him more human and realistic. He prefers to work alone and will do whatever it takes to get the job done. He’s circumspect when it comes to his job but has an emotional sensitivity giving his personality a balanced quality. His back story is revealed little by little throughout the story. I like that, although he’s determined and strong-willed, he can be unsure of himself and sensitive at times. 

The action scenes are exciting, tense and cleverly devised. A great cast of characters, Mackie especially and there’s good interaction between him and Logan. The pace is maintained from the beginning with a fast-moving story and the twist at the end is totally unexpected. A strong, dramatic and enjoyable debut novel. 

Stalemate

 

Stalemate Tour Banner

  • IMG_2388-1Author: Alan Hamilton
  • Published: July 2014 by Silverwood Books
  • Category: Crime/Mystery/Suspense, Historical
  • four-half-stars

Summer 1930 and Walter Bruce is told he has a terminal disease. With nursing care and an easier job he could have five more years. With neither he may not see out the year. But he’s got a wife to keep – one too selfish and idle to be his nurse.

This novel is woven intricately around facts based on an actual, seemingly senseless and violent unsolved murder case from the 1930’s. Walter Bruce is an insurance salesman in a loveless marriage. He is diagnosed with a terminal illness and at the same time acquires evidence his wife has not only deceived him about her past all the years he’s known her, but has also been unfaithful. He formulates a plan to allow him to live out his remaining years in comfort, with the nursing and care he knows will not be forthcoming from his wife. There is no turning back. Bruce’s chess player’s mind devises the details of a plan and as that plan slowly unravels he must accept the terrible consequences of his actions.

The main protagonist is very difficult to like, yet at the same time, given his lifestyle and home life, there is a small amount of pity mixed in with the aversion. There are many restrictions in the between-the-wars world of lower to middle class Liverpool, but to dispassionately plot his wife’s murder and involve two other, equally distasteful characters, shows quite a calculating and cold nature. 

The ability to plan and deliberately kill someone was not an accomplishment you could learn, like chess or the violin. When the intended victim was close to you, someone you lived with, it called for a hardness of heart, insensitivity to pity, indifference to suffering and denial of the sanctity of human life. You might have the idea but if you didn’t have these qualities you’d never progress beyond that. The point was though, he knew he did have them; had always had them. 

The courtroom scenes are described in detail and, although at times I was overwhelmed with the specifics and technicalities, I appreciate the painstaking research and work that has gone into, not only this aspect, but the whole. Bruce’s feelings throughout are defined so vividly I almost felt I was the one in court. How very frightening to be in that position, especially knowing the evidence was being manipulated. Bruce thought he had orchestrated the ‘perfect murder’ and was totally unprepared for the final verdict, actually believing himself innocent of the specific charge of murder.

This fictional reconstruction of a classic, unsolved mystery is revised to reflect the possible scenario of Bruce plotting his wife’s murder and written with much of the original events and evidence, as the author states in his note at the end of the book…..’Much in the preceding pages follows the details of that case very closely, to the point that some of the dialogue is lifted directly from what was reported as having been said during the events, and, in particular from the then Liverpool City Police Force, and transcripts of the committal, trial and appeal court proceedings in the real Wallace case.’

As in the original case, there seems to all outside intents and purposes, no motive for the crime and only circumstantial evidence against the accused. As for the real-life murder, only William Herbert Wallace would be able to tell the truth of what happened in Anfield, Liverpool in 1931.

Many thanks to Alan Hamilton and JB Johnson at Brook Cottage Books for sending me a copy for review.

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About the author

alan2Alan Hamilton finds that real events, where there is 
a mystery or something unexplained, leave so much to the imagination they give the writer of fiction license to make it up. At heart he’s a conspiracy theorist though his head tells him accident is usually more likely – albeit far less interesting. As an antidote to the urge to write creatively, Alan is 
a publisher’s editor for non-fiction, academic books and journal articles. He lives by the sea in the South West of the UK. His hobbies are cooking and cryptic crosswords in the national newspapers, winning first prize twice in ten years.

You can find Alan on his website, Twitter and Facebook

The Ties That Bind (Georgie Connolly #2)

  • TheTiesThatBindAuthor: E.L. Lindley
  • Kindle Edition
  • Crime/Mystery/Thriller
  • four-half-stars

After a harrowing couple of months, Georgie and James Finn prepare to take their relationship to the next level, only to find their plans scuppered by the arrival of Georgie’s estranged mother, Marilyn, who is accused of murdering her husband. Suddenly Georgie has to deal with issues that resonate back to her troubled childhood. 

Georgie Connolly is back. And although she may have been under the impression she and James Finn could spend quality time together after the traumas of recent weeks and their entanglement in the seedy world of a Russian gangster, a phone call from Los Angeles Defence Attorney, Leonard Spalding puts their plans on hold. Georgie’s mother, who abandoned her when she was six, has been charged with the murder of her husband. Bail has been set and Marilyn is now, much to Georgie’s discomfiture, released into her custody. Georgie hasn’t seen her mother for ten years and initially Marilyn’s self centred attitude clearly shows why mother and daughter are not close and explains Georgie’s reluctance to let go of her deep-rooted feelings of hurt and abandonment.

As James listened intently the attorney explained the situation and it wasn’t good. Georgie’s mother had married a man called Charles Beck, seven months ago and had actually been residing in Beverley Hills. He was left reeling by the idea that all this time Georgie had no idea that her mother was living here, in LA.  He could have quite happily strangle the woman on Georgie’s behalf.

James and Julie Sellars have become partners in a private investigation and security business and have decided to take on Marilyn’s case. James has serious doubts about the validity of the accusation levelled against Marilyn after speaking to Detective Sean Collins, his and Georgie’s very good friend and newly promoted Lieutenant in the Hollywood division. As James and Julie’s investigation deepens the case becomes ever more involved.

Callie Delaney, Georgie’s best friend, has offered to have Marilyn to stay at her house, much to her husband Eric’s chagrin. Georgie, on the other hand, is grateful and guilty in equal measure. She decides to put her time and effort into research for the job at hand. Little does she know this, along with her mother’s situation, will lead her into peril from the world of gang culture with its appalling and sordid crimes.

I’m really enjoying this series and the way the books are written, with serious and sometimes deadly implications as well as a light-hearted and humorous slant. Thank goodness Georgie and James’ unpredictable relationship gains ground eventually, with both ready to admit their feelings although even then, nothing goes smoothly. They’re each too good at disrupting the balance and it doesn’t help that James is struggling with life after the Marines and Georgie is focusing more on making her documentary about the public schools system. 

E.L. Lindley has created a great cast of likeable and realistic characters. Georgie is fortunate in her supportive network of friends and I love that she has her own personal friendly cab driver. Georgie is still as impulsive and liable to put herself in dangerous situations however, and this instance is no exception. 

Chump Change (Leo Waterman #8)

AudiobookReview

  • ChumpChangeAuthor: G M Ford
  • Performed by Patrick Lawlor
  • Publisher: Brilliance Audio, released on Audible April 2014
  • Category: Hardboiled, Noir
  • four-half-stars

Sometimes it’s the things you don’t do that come back to haunt you, just as surely as some questions are best left unanswered. 

When “Leo” is the last word a stranger speaks, the Seattle private eye launches himself into a search for answers. Not only does the dead man have a connection to Leo’s past, but he was also worth millions—and some very dangerous people know it. 

After years of struggling to make ends meet as a Seattle PI, Leo Waterman recently inherited the trust fund from his late father’s less than legal dealings and has lapsed into semi-retirement, although he can’t quite come to terms with having such a large sum of unearned wealth. His thoughts and feelings show a conscious awareness of himself and give a roundness to his character.

This story has our hero involved in a new relationship and life is going well. Until there’s a burglary at the house next door to where he and his girlfriend are house sitting. The arrival of the police result in the death of a man whose last word was Leo’s name. It seems Leo and retirement don’t mix, especially when the realisation hits he was acquainted with the dead man. And the more he learns, the more answers he wants and the deeper the investigation pulls him in.

The Morrison’s door frame bristled with fresh splinters. The white, four panel door hung from a single hinge, oscillating slightly as the wind swirled about. A muddy boot print adorned the centre of the door. Probably not the UPS guy, I figured.

I heaved an inward sigh. I don’t know exactly what propelled me forward. I’d prefer to think I was motivated by a sense of responsibility, of being my brother’s keeper, or something vaguely noble like that, but when you look at my history, it’s hard to attribute it to anything except the mule-headed stupidity that’s taken a chunk out of my hide so many times in the past. I guess some folks never learn.

Leo is a nonconformist, realistic and sometimes laugh out loud funny – a great protagonist who is immediately likeable. He’s a mixture of smart, funny, good-hearted and doesn’t stand for injustice even if it means trouble with a capital T. Before long Leo is caught in the middle of a high risk situation where finding the truth could cost the ultimate price.

Colourful and entertaining characters, especially the new side kick, Keith, who makes a bad call in the beginning of the story which results in a big change in his life. He wants desperately to make amends as best he can. Conversely the villains are menacing and sadistic in the extreme, maybe a little stereotypical, but a classic good guys versus bad guys scenario involving big money, a casino and controlling mobsters, with some quite graphic scenes. A chilling look at how those who want absolute power and control consider people as disposable. 

I like G M Ford’s writing style very much, employing humour and compelling story lines but I did miss Leo’s ‘team’ of misfits helping him out on this one albeit they did make a brief appearance at the tail end of the story. Patrick Lawlor really performed this story, great characterisations and he gives the narration just the right amount of emotional impact.

Guernsey Retreat

  • GuernseyRetreatAuthor: Anne Allen
  • Published: August 2014 by CreateSpace Independent Publishing Platform
  • Category: Contemporary, Romance
  • four-stars

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Two violent deaths. Separated by time, but with a fatal connection… A man loses his father. A young woman loses her mother. Both in tragic circumstances that lead, when they meet, to surprising revelations from the past.

At the heart of the two deaths lie stolen jewels. Valuable enough to kill for. Twice.

Many thanks to Anne for sending me an e-copy for review purposes as part of Rosie Amber’s book review team.

Malcolm Roget was born in Canada to where his mother fled after her fiancé, Malcolm’s father, was murdered just before the start of WW2. He has been a successful hotelier and now wants a change of direction. Having spent a considerable time in India exploring the concept of making life style changes though meditation and relaxation, he travels to Guernsey, his mother’s birthplace, to open a spa hotel and sanctuary at what was his father’s beautiful island home. While renovation works are in progress, human bones are discovered buried in the grounds. The remains prove to be those of Roland Blake, Malcolm’s father, and Malcolm’s search begins to see if his father’s killer is still alive and so bring him to justice.

Several meetings later and they were firm, if unlikely, friends. Paul agreed to help Malcolm improve his health – providing Reiki healing, personal meditation sessions and a foul tasting herbal concoction, all of which left him feeling better than he’d done for years. He became a firm believer in what he’d once thought to be codswallop and had nothing but respect for Paul. He could understand why people might want to visit a centre that offered such healing and asked Paul if he’d be interested in working for him if he were to invest in a centre.

Louisa Canning, recovering after a botched attempted burglary caused her mother’s untimely death, decides she must honour her mother’s dying wish and try to find the father she has never known. Her search takes her to La Folie, a health spa in Guernsey and brings her much more than she would ever have imagined. She and Malcolm both learn valuable lessons about life, love and family.

Louisa and Malcolm are both troubled by buried secrets and past events and, as their relationship grows, they begin to discover, not only their warmth and affection for each other but also the threads of the mystery and intrigue that binds their pasts together. 

The blossoming relationship between Malcolm and Louisa is realistically drawn and, although I did find some of the dialogue a little unconvincing at times, the hopes and fears expressed are just as I would imagine. The vividly scenic descriptions of Guernsey paint a beautiful picture and bring the island to life, the beaches, the countryside and the fabulous sounding restaurants, evoking fond memories from my visit to the island many years ago and making me long for a return visit.

About the author

AnneAllenAnne Allen lives in Devon, by her beloved sea. She has three children and her daughter and two grandchildren live nearby. She was born in Rugby, to an English mother and Welsh father. As a result she spent many summers with her Welsh grandparents in Anglesey and learnt to love the sea. Her restless spirit has meant a number of moves which included Spain for a couple of years. The longest stay was in Guernsey for nearly fourteen years after falling in love with the island and the people. She contrived to leave one son behind to ensure a valid reason for frequent returns.

By profession Anne is a psychotherapist but has long had creative ‘itches’, learning to mosaic, paint furniture, interior design and sculpt. At the back of her mind the itch to write was always present but seemed too time-consuming for a single mum with a need to earn a living. Now the nest is empty there’s more time to write and a second novel is gestating, but novels take a lot longer than children to be born!

To find out more about Anne visit her website – www.anneallen.co.uk
You can also find her on twitter – @AnneAllen21
Facebook – https://www.facebook.com/pages/Anne-Allen-Author/

Crime School (A Mallory Novel #6)

  • CrimeSchoolAuthor: Carol O’Connell
  • Published: In paperback 2003 by Arrow Books
  • Category: Crime/Suspense/Thriller
  • three-stars

Fifteen years have passed since a junkie whore and police informer, known simply as Sparrow, cared for a feral child when she was lost and alone. Now, on a hot August afternoon, in an East Side apartment, a woman is found hanged. Carefully placed red candles and an enormous quantity of dead flies suggest a bizarre ritual.

I was supplied with a copy of the book through Bookbridgr in return for an honest review

This is the 6th book in the Kathy Mallory series. I had enough background from previous books, although I haven’t read them all, not to be left floundering. Mallory is an enigma, a child of the streets who survived on her wits and was looked after by hookers. She is damaged emotionally, unable or unwilling to allow herself to trust anyone. She was adopted by NYPD Detective Louis Markowitz and his wife Helen and became very close to them both. Since their deaths the people closest to her are Detective Riker, Markowitz’s former partner, now Mallory’s and her business partner and friend, Charles Butler, who worships her.

Fifteen years had passed since Kathy Mallory had roamed the streets as a child. Being homeless was damned hard work and running the tired little girl to ground had been the job of Riker’s old friend, Louis Markowitz, but only as a hobby. Lost children had never been the province of Special Crimes Unit, not while they lived. And they would have to die under unusual circumstances to merit a professional interest. So Kathy had become the little blond fox of an after-hours hunt. The game had begun with these words, spoken so casually: “Oh, Riker? If she draws on you, don’t kill her. Her gun is plastic, it fires pellets – and she’s only nine or ten years old.”

This story unravels more of Mallory’s complicated and dubious past when a serial killer strikes. One of the victims is Sparrow, a whore who held a special place in the young Kathy’s heart until, as Kathy saw it, Sparrow betrayed her. They never spoke again. Now Mallory has to confront her demons as the investigation progresses. Twenty years ago a similar murder occurred  but due to bad policing the murderer was never caught. But what bearing does that have on the present murders? Is the connection Mallory herself?

This is a very grim, grisly and complex murder plot with very graphic descriptions, sometimes too much so. Mallory is definitely a unique protagonist, someone who could conceivably be dangerous, and is now in the homicide division of the NYPD. Tough and intimidating, she takes no prisoners and can be very cruel and insensitive. Towards the end there is a slight glimmer, are emotions beginning to tap on the hard shell surrounding Mallory? A character development of sorts is long overdue for Mallory. How much longer can she continue to be so cold, contained and manipulative towards the those who care for her. Surely she has been shown enough kindness and love since the Markowitz’s adopted her to merit even a small crack in her armour.

I found the writing distracting and a little awkward in parts, not quite as I remember. It was a long time ago though, and maybe I should have caught up with previous books before embarking on this one.

Deadly Lies

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  • Deadly LiesAuthor: Chris Patchell
  • Published: March 2014 by CreateSpace Independent Publishing Platform
  • Category: Crime/Mystery/Thriller
  • four-half-stars

As a teenager, Jill Shannon fell victim to her stepfather’s cruel abuse. Now, as an adult, Jill’s made it—she has a successful career and a solid, if not static, marriage to Detective Alex Shannon. Together they live out what seems to be a perfect life in Seattle.

The vow she made as a teenager to never again be a victim lies dormant—until one day a reporter lures her to his hotel room under the pretense of an interview—and suddenly it all comes rushing back.

Jill seeks revenge on the reporter, triggering a series of events that leads Jill down a wormhole of retribution, forcing her to spin an ever-widening web of lies.

Meanwhile, Alex is on the case of a series of murders that began as cyber relationships. There seems to be a familiar fingerprint on these crimes, but Alex refuses to believe that the murderer could be so close to him.

Husband and wife stand on opposite sides of a divide created by lies and rooted in a dark and deadly past…

Alex and Jill are facing marital problems. Their jobs keep them apart for most of the week and it doesn’t help that Jill is having an affair with her boss, until, that is, he decides to move on to someone else. While trying to resolve the awkward situation Jill has manoeuvred herself into something totally unexpected and horrific occurs but after the initial shock she sees how this could work to her advantage. 

After the abuse at the hands of her stepfather, Jill resolved never to be at the mercy of another man. When she is compromised by a reporter supposedly wanting an interview she takes matters into her own hands. Jill’s behaviour, even as you feel for the young girl she was, is totally disproportionate and spirals out of all control.

“Ready or not, here I come,” her stepfather, Master Sergeant Samuel Morris, called out in that creepy, singsong voice, like this was some sort of sick game.

Her hands shook, and she clasped them in a tight knot under her chin. Her mother’s scent – baby powder and cinnamon – filled the small space, enveloping her like a warm cloak, and she wished she could hide here forever. Safe. Untouched.

Tears stung her eyes. God, she missed her mother. It was bad before. His punishments had always been harsh, but since her mother’s death, everything had changed.

Alex is a detective with the Seattle Police Force and is investigating the disappearance of his ex fiancée’s sister, which is linked to a serial killer. During the course of his investigations he begins to wonder how much he really knows his wife. He realises she has changed in an elusive way but can’t quite rationalise how or why. He is shocked and unbelieving at where the clues are leading him.

This is a very skilfully written debut novel, with strong, well-developed characters. The absorbing storyline is full of intrigue and suspense. Alex is someone I could relate to immediately and, for all Jill is a very complex and complicated character, and because of childhood suffering I could understand, up to a very definite point, what drove her. And Alex’s partner, Jackson, is a great character too, always having Alex’s back.

The detail and descriptive prose gives a very intense and realistic slant….and the ending! I didn’t see that one coming! There is nothing I dislike about this book, although the ending did leave me quite shell-shocked. Definitely an author to look out for. Many thanks to JB Johnson at Brook Cottage Books for sending me a copy. So glad I didn’t miss this one.

 About the author

Chris PatchellWhen Chris Patchell isn’t hiking in the Cascade Mountains or hanging out with family and friends, she is working at her hi-tech job or writing gritty suspense novels. Writing has been a lifelong passion for Chris. She fell in love with storytelling in the third grade when her half-page creative writing assignment turned into a five-page story on vampires. Even back then Chris had a gift for writing intricate plots that were so good her father refused to believe she didn’t steal them from comic books.

Years later, Chris spent long afternoons managing her own independent record store and writing romance novels. After closing the record store and going to college, Chris launched a successful career in hi-tech. She married, had kids but amid all the madness, the itch to write never really went away. So she started writing again. Not romance this time – suspense filled with drama, and angst, speckled with a little bit of blood.

Why suspense? Chris blames her obsession with the dark on two things: watching Stephen King movies as a kid and spending ridiculous amounts of time commuting in Seattle traffic. “My stories are based on scenarios I live every day, distorted through the fictional lens. And my stories come with the added bonus of not having to be restrained by socially acceptable behavior.”

To learn more about Chris and her debut novel, DEADLY LIES, visit www.chrispatchell.com/

Join her on Facebook for book giveaways and more gritty fun at www.facebook.com/authorchrispatchell 

“Chris Patchell”s debut novel, Deadly Lies, is a taut, fast-paced thriller that grabs you from the start and doesn’t let go. Patchell is a master storyteller with a real talent for creating pulse-pounding suspense.”—Kevin O’Brien, New York Times Bestselling Author of Unspeakable.

Giveaway

Enter the rafflecopter giveaway if you’d like a chance to win an e-copy of Deadly Lies. Good luck!

Business As Usual (The Georgie Connolly Stories, Book 1)

  • BusinessAsUsualAuthor: E.L. Lindley
  • Kindle Edition
  • Category: Crime, Mystery, Romance
  • four-stars

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A thrilling crime novel, introducing Georgie Connelly a feisty protagonist along with a cast of loyal and likeable characters who surround her. If you enjoy novels that have heart and humour why not give it a try.

Many thanks to E.L. Lindley for sending me a copy as part of Rosie Amber’s book review team.

As we meet former teacher, now a Los Angeles based documentary film maker, Georgie Connolly, she is about to start a stint of community service. Due to an embarrassing mix up she was convicted of driving under the influence. Her penance is to teach media studies to decidedly uncooperative students one day a week. Georgie is a volatile character, with an explosive temper, and sometimes (a lot of the time actually) acts before thinking things through properly, landing her, and sometimes the people around her, in precarious situations. But underlying her irritability and tendency to jump in with both feet, she has a good and caring heart and is quite sensitive. 

James Finn, an ex Marine, is hired, albeit reluctantly on James’ part, by his friend, Eric, who is also Georgie’s boss and her best friend’s husband, to protect Georgie from a white supremacist, out for revenge and sending death threats. Georgie exposed the group in a previous documentary and as Georgie bounces from disaster to disaster James is in turn infuriated with her and trying to deny the spark of attraction growing between them.

“Stay there,” he ordered, disconnecting the call. He didn’t need to tell Georgie that he would be there as fast as humanly possible. More and more, she was coming to rely upon James’ strength and his innate sense of always knowing what to do and, for the second time that day, she had an uneasy feeling, wondering what her life would be like once he had moved on. 

When one of Georgie’s students goes missing, Georgie’s attention is drawn to Maxim Petrov, a questionable Russian and suspected abductor, with ties to ‘gentlemen’s clubs’ and the seedier side of life. Not one to let an opportunity pass her by, Georgie decides to investigate Petrov by making him her next documentary subject, not realising just how dangerous and corrupt he is until it’s too late. 

I like the twist of Georgie making documentaries instead of being connected to law enforcement. The cast of characters surrounding Georgie are all interesting, real and easy to identify with. The relationship between Georgie and James had me wanting to knock some sense into them both at times though.

This is a fun and entertaining read, even though there are darker aspects and menacing connotations involving corruption, prostitution and trafficking, both in drugs and girls. This adds to the drama, and the action and suspense is kept on the boil throughout. The story flows, and is paced well. I look forward to following more of Georgie’s adventures.

Blond Cargo

  • BlondCargoAuthor: John Lansing
  • Published: October 2014 by Gallery Books/Karen Hunter Publishing
  • Category: Crime, Mystery, Thriller
  • five-stars

Jack Bertolino is back…John Lansing taps into the real life world of cops, crime, drugs and murder to deliver another sizzling whodunit.

A pulse-pounding thriller with a charming protagonist” (Kirkus Reviews), this gripping ebook continues the story that began in The Devil’s Necktie.

Jack Bertolino owes a man a big favour. The trouble is, that man is Vincent Cardona, mafia boss. Cardona supplied Jack with information relating to the attempted murder of his son, Chris, during the last case Jack worked, which allowed him to take down the would be assassin. Now Cardona’s only daughter, Angelica, is missing and he’s calling in his marker. He wants Jack to pull out all the stops to find Angelica and Jack feels honour bound to repay the debt, regardless of the effect his working for Cardona is having on the  relationship with his girlfriend, Deputy District Attorney Leslie Sager.

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Jack’s subsequent investigation leads him deep into the dangerous waters of murder, drugs and sex trafficking, uncovering high level corruption along the way. Angelica has been abducted by totally vicious and immoral men who think nothing of bartering and selling young women into the sex trade.

Jack is fundamentally one of the good guys despite his all too human flaws. This is a man who put in twenty-five years as an undercover detective working in the narcotics division of the NYPD. After multiple and unsuccessful back surgeries after a serious fall he retired out to California to find some peace and live the good life. But the hoodlums still manage to plague Jack’s life and so, with his new career as a private investigator, he can still take them down, even without having the back up of a police badge.

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Jack, in emotional turmoil with the pain and distress Chris is experiencing, is trying to tread delicately in his attempts to help his son, whilst concentrating on the job at hand. Chris is doing his best to keep his father at arm’s length and resorts to desperate measures to try and ease his torment. I love the relationship and interaction between these two, completely human and relatable, and I couldn’t help but feel for them both. Jack is an extremely likeable character and easy to empathise with.

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John Lansing brings Jack Bertolino, together with a large cast of diverse characters, to life vividly with a gripping and unpredictable storyline, full of action, suspense and drama. The villains are completely chilling and the characters are all authentic and convincing. The main antagonist, Malic al-Yasiri, surrounds himself with exquisite, stolen antiquities and fine art and has no hesitation in selling the beautiful women, who are kidnapped at his bidding, to Middle eastern harems. He is prepared to do whatever it takes to keep what he has acquired. The horrifying trail of murder, abductions and the sex trade lead to a tense and dangerous conclusion.

This is a realistic and intense tale with detailed descriptions of places and people, unrestrained and sometimes brutal, but compelling throughout. John Lansing is a skilled author and I love his concise and suspenseful writing style. The storyline is well planned and thought through, the pace brisk, which kept me immersed from beginning to end.

Blond Cargo may be purchased from Amazon US and Amazon UK

The Cursed, The Hexed & The Betrayed (Krewe of Hunters)

AudiobookReview

This is the most recent trilogy (books 12,13,14) in the Krewe of Hunters series, a unique unit of the FBI who investigate crimes associated with the paranormal. The finer points and origin of the Krewe and it’s members are integrated into the stories smoothly, so they could be read as stand alone books even though there are considerably more than these three in the series.

  • TheCursedAuthor: Heather Graham
  • Performed by Luke Daniels
  • Published: Brilliance Audio, released by Audible 2014
  • Category: Crime, Suspense, Paranormal, Romance
  • three-half-stars

Hannah O’Brien inherited her great uncle’s haunted Victorian mansion in Key West, which she now runs as a B&B. She has a special ability which allows her to see and speak to the dead, and so she is able to communicate with the two friendly ghosts who haunt her property. When a man is murdered near her house, his spirit appears asking Hannah for help to bring his killers to justice.

Peace and serenity surrounded him. He really did love the Keys. There was something magical that happened once you left the mainland behind. The air was so soft and nice, the lounge so comfortable, that he began to drift off.

Then Shelley screamed. It was a scream of pure and absolute terror.

His eyes flew open as he bolted up and saw…a strange man standing over Shelley. The stranger was gripping his throat with his right hand and making choking noises. Stuart was too startled, too terrified to be sure, but it looked as though something was oozing through the man’s fingers. Blood?

Dallas Sampson, an FBI agent and a member of the Krewe, has abilities himself and is assigned to the case. He knew the murdered man and wants desperately to find his killer. He has the help of other Krewe members, including Hannah’s cousin, Kelsey O’Brien, who we met in an earlier story. Their investigations lead them to a dangerous smuggling ring, Los Lobos, and it’s deadly leader, The Wolf.

The setting in the Keys is fabulous, the legends and the historical details woven into the story brilliantly as always, although a lot of it had been in previous books and seemed to be a mixture of stories gone before. The lost treasure aspect and the ghost tours and somehow I wasn’t really convinced by Hannah and Dallas’ relationship. Having said that the writing was a good as ever and the location descriptions are clear and distinct. The ghosts’ stories are effective and I like how their characters are developed. 

  • TheHexedAuthor: Heather Graham
    Performed by Luke Daniels
    Published: Brilliance Audio, released by Audible 2014
    Category: Crime, Suspense, Paranormal, Romance
  • four-half-stars

Set in Salem, Massachusetts, to where Devin Lyle has returned after working as a journalist in Boston. Her beloved Great Aunt Mina has passed away and left her cottage in the woods to Devin, who is now a children’s author writing witchy stories in honour of her aunt, known as the ‘witch in the woods’.

Every once in a while Devin Lyle couldn’t help herself. People did such outrageous things sometimes that she just had to step in….

“Burn witch! Burn!” a young man said. Despite his words, he was actually reverently placing a flower on the bench dedicated to one of the victims of the witch trials.

“How horrible. I can’t even imagine burning to death,” and older woman said.

“Excuse me,” Devin said. “None of the condemned in Salem were burned. Nineteen were hanged, and one man, Giles Corey, was pressed to death.”

Craig ‘Rocky’ Rockwell has been transferred to the Krewe specifically to investigate what seem to be ritualistic murders in Salem, which mimic chillingly the murder of a childhood friend thirteen years previously. His and his friends’ lives were changed forever and now, as more bodies are discovered, it seems the Krewe have a serial killer running loose. Rocky can’t discount anyone as suspects, not even his old friends.

Devin is guided to a body in the woods by a ghostly figure and she is drawn into the investigation and also to Rocky. She is taken aback when she realises she can see and speak to the dead. 

The fascinating information, and vivid history, about Wicca, Salem and the witch trials is threaded in throughout. The descriptions brought the place alive for me and, as it’s somewhere I really want to visit, the draw was there from the start. I like the well defined characters in this story, especially Devin’s Aunt Mina, and the way the relationship between Rocky and Devin develops, but not overwhelming the story, and the focal point is always the murders and mystery.

  • TheBetrayedAuthor: Heather Graham
    Performed by Luke Daniels
    Published: Brilliance Audio, released by Audible 2014
    Category: Crime, Suspense, Paranormal, Romance
  • four-stars

Aiden Mahoney, an FBI agent and new member of the Krewe, is sent to Sleepy Hollow because a prominent politician, Richard Highsmith who is an old friend of Aiden’s, has gone missing. Aiden heard Richard’s voice in a dream and it doesn’t bode well. Aiden isn’t comfortable with, and struggles to acknowledge, his gift. He views the Krewe as investigators of the paranormal, or weird stuff, and is unsure about becoming a part of the team. But they could see in him what he didn’t want to see in himself.

“They got me, my old friend. They got me.”

Aiden Mahoney woke with a start. His room was dark; instinct made him reach for the Glock at his bedside and then remain dead still. Listening.

He’d heard the words as clearly as if they’d been spoken directly in front of him. And when he’d first opened his eyes, he could have sworn that there’d been a form – the form of a man. A man beseeching him – for help. Tall, nicely dressed in suit, leaning towards him.

But he’d blinked. And now….There was no one.

Mo Deauville, who also has the ability to see and speak with the dead, and her dog, Rollo the Irish Wolfhound (I love Rollo), search for missing people and it’s she who finds Richard, or more precisely, his head which has been stuck on the fabled statue of the Headless Horseman. The legend of which is well-known in the area and it’s coming up to Halloween which adds to the atmosphere, as the Sleepy Hollow legend appears to be coming true.

I didn’t know anything about Sleepy Hollow or Washington Irving, or even the fact that he wrote ‘The Legend of Sleepy Hollow’, and found it all very interesting. So, as well as Irving’s ghost haunting his mansion, there are the costumed haunted tours in spooky graveyards and mausoleums, more headless bodies and the growing attraction between Aiden and Mo. The suspense and intrigue were all there and I couldn’t guess who ‘done it.’ 

Ms Graham uses a formula for paranormal/romance/mystery stories that more often than not works extremely well and I especially like the lore, legend and history of each locale. And as ever, Luke Daniels’ performance is impressive and dramatic, each character is voiced with individuality.

 The Krewe of Hunters Series may be found at Amazon UK and Amazon US

Dare To Lose

  • DaretoLoseAuthor: E.L. Lindley
  • Kindle Edition
  • Crime, Mystery, Romance
  • four-stars

For Nicola Mills, approaching middle age doesn’t seem so bad as she enjoys the settled, ordered life she has always dreamed of. Cracks start to appear, however, with the arrival of her mother, whose chaotic life threatens to overshadow Nicola’s routine. Life becomes even more uncertain when she loses her job but, encouraged by her friend Lizzie, Nicola embraces the opportunity to follow her dream and opens a seafront cafe. Fate it seems has other ideas though and, when one of her of her employees goes missing, Nicola is thrown into a dangerous world of crime and murder, which leaves her dreams in tatters. 
Dare To Lose, is a novel about friendship, loyalty and strength in the face of adversity. By losing everything, will Nicola finally be able to live?

After being forced out of her job as a school teacher after upwards of 25 years and being on the receiving end of some nasty school politics, Nicola opens the cafe she’s always dreamed of and her life begins to turn a corner. That is, apart from having her mother as a permanent houseguest and until her young American waitress, Jessica, doesn’t show up for work one day and is nowhere to be found. As Nicola becomes increasing worried she phones Jessica’s family in the United States. Nicola has no idea how this will impact on her life.

Jessica’s good looking but very uncommunicative and aloof father, Jack Nash, arrives in response to Nicola’s call. The local police aren’t making Jessica’s disappearance a priority so, as he is a detective in Chicago, Jack decides to start his own investigation and search for his missing daughter. Nicola, Jack, Nicola’s mother and her boyfriend, Ron, find themselves embroiled in a situation they could never have envisioned and are drawn into something very threatening and dangerous.

It was the voice which caught her attention first and she felt her hands freeze as, knife in hand, she turned to find herself face to face with a large, scowling mass of a man. The Texan drawl left little doubt that he was somehow connected to Jessica, as Nicola put the knife aside and picked up the tea towel to wipe her hands.

There’s a lot of action and suspense throughout the story which held my attention fully. I can’t make up my mind if Nicola is very brave or very foolish. Maybe I’ll settle for a mixture of both. It’s a nice change for the main protagonist to be an older woman and Nicola is easy to like, and someone who puts others first. She’s also someone to rely on. All the characters are well drawn and easy to picture in the vivid scenes and places running through my mind.

Nicola and her mother have a complex relationship and they exasperate and comfort each other in equal measure. I like the role reversal, Nicola being the one shocked and embarrassed by what she sees as her mother’s irresponsible behaviour. In the end though, Nicola realises family, friends and dependability are everything, finding love is a bonus.

I enjoyed the story, the humour and E.L. Lindley’s writing style, very much.

Dare To Lose can be found on Amazon UK and Amazon US

About the author

 

ELLindleyE.L. Lindley is an indie writer and general lover of books in all of their forms. She has written numerous contemporary novels, including the Georgie Connelly series as well as standalone novels. When she is not writing, she is devouring the works of other writers and is delighted by how indie publishing has thrown open the world of publishing. She sees it as a win win situation, allowing writers to publish their work, whilst providing readers with a richer and more varied choice.

Lindley has always loved writing but produced her first full length novel, Business As Usual, when she decided to move on from her career as an English teacher. She now supplements her writing by working on a free-lance basis. This also affords her time to travel and she has been fortunate enough to have travelled extensively throughout the world, using her experiences as a source of inspiration for her writing.

She currently resides in Sheffield in the UK but has lived and worked in many places including, London, Oxford, Southampton, Cheltenham and Brighton. She also studied for a couple of years at the University of Arlington in Texas and has consequently made many extended trips to the USA to visit and stay with friends. Her novels reflect this and tend to incorporate both sides of the Atlantic.

Lindley writes in a style which is both light-hearted and fun but with serious undertones, often tackling gritty subjects. In all of her novels, the characters reflect her belief in humanity and the fact that the human spirit will always prevail, regardless of the situation. Lindley’s primary goal is to entertain people but she is happy to take any response that she can get.

Deadly Bonds (Detective Jackson #9)

AudiobookReview

  • DeadlyBondsAuthor: LJ Sellers
  • Performed by Patrick Lawlor
  • Published by Brilliance Audio and released via Audible August 2014
  • Category: Crime, Thriller, Suspense
  • four-half-stars

When a young mother is found murdered in a derelict Eugene neighborhood – and her terrified young son is discovered hiding beneath the floorboards – Detective Jackson reluctantly takes the case. His own life is already in chaos, with his runaway teenage daughter, Katie, still gone and his girlfriend, Kera, facing her own family crisis. Matters get more complicated when the orphaned boy bonds with Jackson, triggering unexpected emotions and compromising his ability to investigate. Meanwhile, Detective Evans, one of Jackson’s most valuable colleagues, is pulled off the case to look into the death of a University of Oregon football star – leaving the homicide task force shorthanded. As Jackson works to solve the murder and find a home for little Benjie, he soon faces devastating choices that threaten everything he holds dear.

Wade Jackson’s life is still in turmoil after the death of his ex-wife and the breach in his relationship with his daughter, Katie. Katie initially blamed Jackson for her mother’s death and the detrimental effect is still being felt, although Katie does now communicate with her father via text.

Jackson is one of my favourite types of protagonist and I love the way his character has developed over the series. He’s essentially a good guy with a social conscience, realistic and not perfect. He is struggling to come to terms with Katie having run away from home and missing her terribly. Jackson believes he’s failed his daughter and worries about her. He also has guilt issues about his girlfriend, Kera, who is dealing with her own family troubles. Jackson never seems to be able to fully support her due to his demanding job, now even more so because of budget cuts to the department.

Lammers’ voice boomed even with the cell at a distance. “Jackson, are you there?”

He stood. “Yes, hold on.” The waiting room had filled in the last hour, and there wasn’t anywhere private. Jackson looked back at Kera, mouthed I’m sorry, and headed outside“What’s going on?” 

“Possible homicide. A young female in a house in the Bethel area. Probably dead since yesterday.” 

Damn. Why had he answered. Dead young women triggered emotions he’d rather not feel. “I’m a the hospital with Kera…..Can someone else take the lead? I’ll join the task force when I can.”

An exasperated sigh. “I can’t spare you. Schak is in court, and Evans is still too green for this kind of case.”

As Jackson and his Violent Crimes Unit team investigate the possible homicide of a young woman in a less than salubrious area, Jackson finds the victim’s three year old son.  His feelings towards the boy show Jackson in a completely different and interesting light although I’m not sure how true to life it is for Jackson to take custody of Benjie the way he does. The team are swamped by questions relating to the case but have no viable answers. 

Detective Lara Evans has caught her own case and is pulled off Jackson’s team, leaving the Violent Crimes Unit even more short-handed. The more Evans’ investigation progresses the more sure she becomes that her case and Jackson’s are tied together. The credible plot line and the combining action between the two well crafted and interwoven cases develops effectively and moves the story along perfectly. An unexpected resolution to the linked cases and a bombshell for Jackson conclude a really good addition to this series. Deadly Bonds could be read as a stand alone but, if as I do, you like to get the full story about the characters in a series, I would choose to start at the beginning. 

I like the ‘voice’ Patrick Lawlor gives Jackson, it conveys his personality very well, and he does a great job with the other characterisations too. Looking forward to Wrongful Death – coming in March!

Created, The Destroyer

The Destroyer badge

  • 9780751557978Authors: Warren Murphy, Richard Sapir
  • Published: August 2014 by Sphere
  • Category: Crime/Thriller/Suspense
  • four-stars

When you’re on death row, minutes from the electric chair, and a hook-handed monk offers to save your life if you’ll just swallow a simple little pill…what’ve you got to lose? You take the pill. Then you wake up, officially “dead,” in the back of an ambulance, headed for an undisclosed location. Welcome to your new life, working for CURE, the most secret, most deniable, most extra-judicial government agency ever to exist. Only the President knows about it, and even he doesn’t control it.

When I was asked to review this book as part of the blog tour, I couldn’t believe 1) there are so many books in the series (well over 100!) and 2) I’d never heard of it. The original book was published in the early 70s and the first 25 books are now being re released, with a new movie deal on the cards.  It’s a very interesting story concept although I’m not convinced Remo would have chosen that path, had he been given a choice. I think it stands the test of time if you can get past the prejudice and discrimination of fifty plus years ago.

Remo Williams, a New Jersey cop, is on death row for a murder he didn’t commit. He’s been framed by the organisation who intend to save him from the electric chair. The people at CURE have a specific plan in place for Remo. He’s about to be trained, to within an inch of his life, and transformed into ‘the ultimate killing machine’ in the war against organised crime and anything else that endangers the establishment. And since CURE doesn’t officially exist, neither does Remo, so he has to stay under the radar. If the villains don’t get him, his own people just might.

The judge was quite certain why he sentenced Williams to die. It was very simple. He was told to. Not that he knew why he was told to.. In certain circles, you don’t ask questions about verdicts. Only one man had no conception of why the sentence was so severe and so swift. And his wondering would stop at 11:35 o’ clock that night. It wouldn’t make any difference after that.

Remo is recruited, if that’s the right word since he doesn’t have an option, by Conn MacCleary and CURE chief, Harold W. Smith, both ex CIA, and initiated and trained in the Oriental arts by Chiun, a Korean and the ultimate assassin. Although Remo’s training is not complete MacCleary, by circumstances, is forced to send him out on his first mission.

A very good introduction to the series, and despite the writing being a little dated, the story is still relevant today exposing the corruption and political intrigue which snakes its way through governments and corporations. The beginning is excellent and sets the scene for plenty of action and violence. The country is in trouble, the criminals are winning and it’s up to Remo to stop them. The story is told well, although a little lacking in character development. I found it quite hard to relate to Remo but I gather his character, and the writing, evolves as the series progresses. I’m intrigued enough to follow through with more. 

CREATED THE DESTROYER POSTER

If you’d like to find out more about this book and the rest of the series, click here and the newsletter can be found here

The Destroyer Series can be purchased through Amazon US and Amazon UK

The Black Hours by @Alison_Williams #Historical #WitchFinder

  • TheBlackHoursAuthor: Alison Williams
  • Published: October 2013 by CreateSpace Independent Publishing Platform
  • Historical Fiction, Suspense, Horror
  • five-stars

‘Look upon this wretch, all of you! Look upon her and thank God for his love and his mercy. Thank God that he has sent me to rid the world of such filth as this.’ 1647 and England is in the grip of civil war. In the ensuing chaos, fear and suspicion are rife and anyone on the fringes of society can find themselves under suspicion.

Matthew Hopkins, self-styled Witchfinder General, scours the countryside, seeking out those he believes to be in league with the Devil. In the small village of Coggeshall, 17–year-old Alice Pendle finds herself at the centre of gossip and speculation. Will she survive when the Witchfinder himself is summoned? A tale of persecution, superstition, hate and love, ‘The Black Hours’ mixes fact with fiction in a gripping fast-paced drama that follows the story of Alice as she is thrown into a world of fear and confusion, and of Matthew, a man driven by his beliefs to commit dreadful acts in the name of religion.

Having been born and brought up in Lancashire, the home of the Witches of Pendle, this book was of particular interest. Never thinking much of it as children, apart from trips to Pendle Hill and as something with which to scare each other, it was only as an adult the atrocities, the true horror and suffering were realised.

There has obviously been an enormous amount of research gone into this story and to have the narrative from the Witchfinder’s point of view as well as Alice Pendle’s makes for an even bigger impact. Added to that the fact that Matthew Hopkins is not a fictional character but was indeed a Witchfinder General, although this seems to have been self bestowed title, and believed to be responsible for the deaths of around three hundred women during the span of two years.

Alice pulled her cloak tightly around her as she pushed her way through the crowds. The gruesome shadow of the gallows loomed ahead, five rope nooses creaking in the bitter wind that whipped through Halstead’s bustling square. She wanted only to escape these people who knocked against her, surrounding her with their noise and smells. It had been a hard two days walk from Coggeshall in the biting cold and she was looking forward to the warmth and refreshment she would no doubt receive in Hannah’s home.

Hopkins, believing himself to be doing God’s work and regardless of how he acquires ‘confessions’ from terrified, tortured, persecuted and often elderly women, is arrogant and condescending of those he considers beneath him. Reading from his point of view was quite unsettling because he is clearly deluded and totally self-absorbed, slyly influencing the superstitious, sometimes spiteful and misguided village people who need someone to blame for all that is lacking in their lives. He arouses only feelings of horror and incredulity at his actions and egotism. It’s a very powerful reminder of the prejudice and tyranny prevalent through the ages.

The mood and feelings of the time are captured perfectly. The small village of Coggeshall, where seventeen year old Alice Pendle lives with her grandmother Maggie, and it’s residents are described in fascinating detail, giving a comprehensive picture of life in the year 1647. A time when having skills in natural healing with herbs and plants could be misconstrued and used as justification for the charge of being in league with the devil.

Alice, in complete contrast to Hopkins, evokes total sympathy, compassion and warmth. Her story is a living nightmare, chilling in the extreme, given these events occurred with regularity. Women can be, and are, accused of witchcraft for all sorts of preposterous reasons. If the unfortunate person has animals, a scar, a birthmark or forages for plants and herbs, as Alice and her grandmother do. Despite helping their neighbours when in need, they are denounced at the first opportunity. The methods used to ‘prove’ such claims are barbaric and illogical and quite often manipulated.

Despite the terrible ordeal and anguish she suffers, Alice still manages to grow in strength of character and regain her self-respect.

This is an extremely well written, very thought-provoking and authentic story of people involved in an appalling and menacing situation. I’m very much looking forward to Alison Williams’ next book.

Rosie's Book Review team 1Book links ~ Amazon UK | Amazon US

This review is based on a free copy from the author as part of Rosie Amber’s book review team. 

About the author

black-and-white-aliAlison Williams is fascinated by history – but not so much the kings and queens, the emperors, the military heroes or the great leaders. More the ordinary people whose lives were touched by the decisions, the beliefs and the whims of those who had power over them and who now fill our history books. What was it like to be a 17th century mother living in London, scared to death as the plague took hold? How did it feel to a woman in Berwick-Upon-Tweed in 1296 watching the English troops storming through the town? And what about all of those accused, tortured and horribly murdered in the witch trials that swept through Europe? How did it feel to be one of those women, terrified and desperate? These are the stories she wants to tell – how it was for the ordinary people, caught up in events they couldn’t control. Alison has been writing ever since she can remember – scribbling down and (badly) illustrating stories in exercise books whenever she wasn’t actually reading (which was most of the time when she was awake). After getting married and having two children, she worked in education until deciding to bite the bullet and write full-time. She now works as a freelance writer and author. Alison has a Masters in Creative Writing from the University of Glasgow and is currently working on her second novel.

TanDrex (A Matt Lilburn Novel)

  • TanDrexAuthor: Stuart Handley
  • Published: March 2014 by Stuart Handley
  • Category: Crime/Thriller/Suspense
  • four-stars

Every now and again someone dares to challenge greed and corruption. When evil comes up against a raw boned soldier of justice – all hell breaks loose. 
Follow Matt Lilburn as he locks forces with a corrupt United States governor and his perverted son as they try to sell the code for a machine that makes the invention of computers seem trivial. 
By the time you finish reading the book, you will know why they call this invention — God technology.

I was given a copy of the book by the author as part of Rosie Amber’s Book Review Team.

Nanotechnology and, more specifically, Productive Replicator development has just been completed and due to exploitation and abuse of power is about to go on sale to the highest bidder. If this extremely crucial scientific discovery falls into the wrong hands it could cause untold devastation.

Matt Lilburn, ex special forces who now works for Homeland Security, and his brother Duncan, a scientist central to the development of the technology, are thrust into life and death situations. It’s a race to stop the individuals who will stop at nothing to gain the code for their own unscrupulous ends. It’s down to Matt and his team to put a halt to the corruption and greed before everything he holds dear is destroyed.

Wasting no time he drew his weapon, cocked it, then taking a low stance bowled the door open with his shoulder and entered the darkened room at an angle. Two hands gripped the pistol as he rolled to the side avoiding silhouetting himself at the door….Adrenalin sharpened his senses. He slowed his breathing, listening for any movement, anything that might give away a person’s location in the room.

This is actually a very scarily plausible premise and begs the question how far should research and development go before it becomes a tool for immeasurable good or conversely a hazard to humanity, dependent on who has overall control. A question applicable to many more issues, I know.

I like the flashbacks to Matt and Duncan’s boyhood, giving more insight into the two characters and when their old adversary from schooldays makes it personal and seeks revenge Matt and his girlfriend, Maria, are in the firing line.

I found this to be an extremely good novel, intense and dynamic, descriptively written with well-defined characters. The plot races along and held my attention completely. I look forward to reading more of Stuart Handley’s work.

TanDrex may be purchased from Amazon US and Amazon UK

About the author

StuartHandley

Stuart Handley was born near the shores of Lake Taupo in New Zealand, one of the largest fresh water lakes in the southern hemisphere.  The outdoors was a great calling for a young man seeking adventure where hunting and fishing were a way of life. After serving a few years in the army both within his home country and overseas, Stuart, spent the next decade being a man of the land.  With  practical skills such as livestock production, mustering, fencing, horse breaking and shoeing he went on to complete a full time university degree as an adult. Life’s education wasn’t yet complete, a couple of years in Australia included working hauling furniture where the work was heavy and sweat ran freely. Memorable events in Stuart’s career include the comradeship of fellow soldiers who still form part of his life, working as a horseman for the famous DB Clydesdale horse team and being an inspector with the R.S.P.C.A. Stuart draws upon worldly experiences and takes you to another world – the world where anything goes. 

Stuart may also be found on Twitter and Facebook

Buying Time ~ ( Angela Evans Series #1)

AudiobookReview

  • BuyingTimeAuthor: Pamela Samuels Young
  • Performed by RC Bray
  • Published: August 2012 by Goldman House Publishing
  • Category: Crime/Thriller/Suspense
  • four-half-stars

Waverly Sloan is a down-on-his-luck lawyer. But just when he’s about to hit rock bottom, he stumbles upon a business with the potential to solve all of his problems. In Waverly’s new line of work, he comes to the aid of people in desperate need of cash. But there’s a catch. His clients must be terminally ill and willing to sign over rights to their life insurance policies before they can collect a dime. Waverly then finds investors eager to advance them thousands of dollars—including a hefty broker’s fee for himself—in exchange for a significant return on their investment once the clients take their last breath. The stakes get higher when Waverly brokers the policy of the cancer-stricken wife of Lawrence Erickson, a high-powered lawyer who’s bucking to become the next U.S. Attorney General. When Waverly’s clients start dying sooner than they should, both Waverly and Erickson—who has some skeletons of his own to hide—are unwittingly drawn into a perilous web of greed, blackmail and murder.

Assistant US Attorney Angela Evans is assigned to a case investigating Live Now, an organisation dealing in viatical insurance for the terminally ill. The company’s procedure has come under scrutiny and Angela and her team set up a sting operation.

Angela’s private life leaves a lot to be desired and when she meets Dre Thomas at the gym she begins to question the wisdom of her choices.

An intriguing legal thriller combining murder, corruption and underhand dealings – a perfect combination. Engaging from the start, the absorbing and strong storyline flows perfectly and the short, well written chapters from the points of view of different characters work well and keep the suspense level high.

A great opening paragraph…

Veronika Myers tried to convince them, but no one would listen. Her suspicions, they said, were simply a byproduct of her grief. Each time she broached the subject with her brother, Jason, he walked out of the room. Darlene, her best friend, suggested a girls’ night out with some heavy drinking. Aunt Flo urged her to spend more time in prayer.

Veronika knew she was wasting her time with this woman, too, but couldn’t help herself.

“My mother was murdered,” Veronika told the funeral home attendant. “But nobody believes it.”

Multiple story lines run simultaneously and weave together as events unfold. The characters are well-defined and realistic, some very likeable, some definitely not and they are all intertwined by threads of greed, secrets, violence and deception. The main characters, each with strengths and flaws, have their own personal problems to deal with which again, link together as the story progresses. The romance aspect is not overwhelming and I like the relationship between Angela and Dre. I hope it continues in the next book.

As the stakes get ever higher, more lives are at risk and Angela and Dre are drawn further into the tangled web of murder and duplicity. The plot plays out well to a very satisfying conclusion with a twist I didn’t see coming.

The well researched, detailed descriptions of viatical insurance, of which I knew nothing at all, raises the question of ethics and morality against the possible or probable benefits for people with a terminal illness who are in desperate need of financial aid.  Very interesting and thought-provoking, showing the opportunity to exploit people is usually available to those with an agenda.

The issue of domestic violence is also addressed, demonstrating how even a strong, independent woman, who knows better, can get caught up in the cycle of not reporting the abuse. This is my first book by Ms Samuels Young and I enjoyed it very much and have invested in a couple more.

It’s so nice when I find a fantastic new (to me) narrator through an author and vice versa. I first listened to RC Bray perform The Martian and I was sold. Since then I’ve listened to several more narrations and the delivery fits the story and the emotions of the characters perfectly.

Buying Time may be purchased through  Amazon US and Amazon UK

About the author

PamelaSamuelsYoungPamela Samuels Young is a practicing attorney and bestselling author of the legal thrillers

Every Reasonable Doubt, In Firm Pursuit, Murder on the Down Low, Attorney-Client Privilege, Buying Time and Anybody’s Daughter. She is also a natural hair enthusiast and the author of Kinky Coily: A Natural Hair Resource Guide. In addition to writing legal thrillers and working as Managing Counsel for Labor and Employment Law for a major corporation, Pamela formerly served on the board of directors of the Los Angeles Chapter of Mystery Writers of America and is a diehard member of Sisters in Crime-L.A. The former journalist and Compton native is a graduate of USC, Northwestern University and UC Berkeley’s School of Law. To read an excerpt of Pamela’s novels, visit www.pamelasamuelsyoung.com.

 

Black (Black Series #1)

AudiobookReview

  • Black1Author: Russell Blake
  • Performed by RC Bray
  • Published by Janda Management and released on Audible April 2014
  • Category: Hardboiled/Noir Fiction
  • four-half-stars

Artemus Black. Perennially down-on-his-luck Hollywood PI whose Bogie fixation is as dated as his wardrobe. With an assistant who mocks him relentlessly, an obese cat that loathes him, a romantic life that’s deader than Elvis, money problems, booze, nicotine, and anger management issues, how much worse can it get? When he takes a case that’s supposed to be easy money working for a celebrity whose colleagues and surrounding paparazzi are dropping faster than interest in the star’s big comeback, the cakewalk turns ugly and Black finds himself in a web of deceit, betrayal, and murder – and bad hair days.

Black is a real vintage feel PI, with slicked back black hair, dressing in 40’s style suits and fedora hats, as though he’s been whisked away from his own time zone and dropped into the present day. I was picturing a James Garner look-a-like all the way through. He’s down on his luck and harbouring bitter feelings about his immensely rich parents who not only gave him the name he hates and refuse to call him anything else, but also became wealthy with the minimum of effort, while he struggles to make ends meet.

Artemus ‘Jim’ Black is an intriguing character and regardless of his faults he’s a really good guy with a soft side and a good dose of morality. This is a fun read with lots of humour, although the murders give the story a darker side which balances things out. The descriptive writing and solid plot are executed superbly and the dialogue is sharp and witty. 

Black’s snarky secretary, Roxie, is an unconventional character with an individual appearance and an attitude issue. She is the antithesis of Black. She gives him a hard time verbally, mostly about his dress sense and because he’s less than affectionate to the stray fat cat who has taken up residence in Black’s office. The one liners and banter between the two of them is seriously comical. Well portrayed and defined, colourful and amusing characters abound and give the story an authentic feel.

Black had been working with Roxie on improving her attitude, but some days it seems like a losing battle. It was a pity she was so good at what she did – running the office, juggling administrative duties and research that made the FBI look like neophytes.

“It means I think we can improve our brand, Roxie.”

”Our….brand. I see. Have you been drinking?”

”Branding is very important.”

”Maybe if you’re a cowboy or a steer. Wait – did you mix up your meds again?” Roxie asked.

This my first Russell Blake book but I’ll definitely read/listen to more of his work. I have the rest of the Black series and Jet lined up. If you’re a fan of the genre it’s well worth a read or a listen if audio books are your thing. RC Bray does a great job giving Black a ‘voice’, also with his interpretations of the rest of the characters. The humour, pacing and delivery of the comedic lines are all spot on.

The Black books may be purchased from Amazon US and Amazon UK

About the author

RBlakeFeatured in The Wall Street Journal, The Times, and The Chicago Tribune, Russell Blake is the USA Today bestselling author of thirty books, including Fatal Exchange, The Geronimo Breach, Zero Sum, King of Swords, Night of the Assassin, Revenge of the Assassin, Return of the Assassin, Blood of the Assassin, Requiem for the Assassin, The Delphi Chronicle trilogy, The Voynich Cypher, Silver Justice, JET, JET – Ops Files, JET II – Betrayal, JET III – Vengeance, JET IV – Reckoning, JET V – Legacy, JET VI – Justice, JET VII – Sanctuary, Upon A Pale Horse, BLACK, BLACK Is Back, BLACK Is The New Black, and BLACK To Reality.

Non-fiction includes the international bestseller An Angel With Fur (animal biography) and How To Sell A Gazillion eBooks In No Time (even if drunk, high or incarcerated), a parody of all things writing-related.

Blake is co-author of The Eye of Heaven, with legendary author Clive Cussler, to be released by Penguin in September, 2014. Blake’s novel King of Swords has been translated into German by Amazon Crossing, The Voynich Cypher into Bulgarian, and his JET novel into Spanish and German.

Blake writes under the moniker RE Blake in the NA/YA/Contemporary Romance genres.

Having resided in Mexico for a dozen years, Blake enjoys his dogs, fishing, boating, tequila and writing, while battling world domination by clowns. His thoughts, such as they are, can be found at his blog: RussellBlake.com

Cleaver Square (A DCI Morton Crime Novel)

The bleakest winter on record and a gruesome discovery bring DCI David Morton to the Hackney Marshes in search of a clue, any clue, as to the identity of a dead child found near the Old River Lea. Meanwhile, closer to home, Morton’s long-suffering wife Sarah comes to the conclusion that her man has been doing more than work during his late nights at the office. As he closes in on the mystery of the boy’s identity his life begins to crumble and a terrible wrong is done to someone he loves. With all of London watching, Morton’s impeccable ethics will be tested to their limit as he is forced to choose between doing what is right and what is legal.

I received a copy of the book from the authors as part of Rosie Amber’s Book Review Challenge.

A suspicious death investigation soon turns into something very much more complex as DCI David Morton struggles to unravel the increasing threads of a case which becomes ever more daunting.

He and his team have to find the truth behind the discovery of a child’s body buried in Hackney Marshes. There are no apparent clues, apart from a very expensive watch found with the body, or evidence as to how the child died. The deeper the police team dig the more confusing the case seems as they chase each lead and reach seemingly dead ends.

The opening paragraph is a good lead in….

David Morton was not a night owl. He firmly believed that nothing good ever happened between midnight and ten o’clock, and so the arrogant buzzing of his mobile phone shortly before quarter past eight elicited a sleepy groan. He squinted at the screen as its artificial light illuminated his haggard face. It was work. With a sprightliness belying his age, he threw off half the cover and leapt to his feet. A lesser man might have questioned why, at fifty-two years of age, he was still willing to jump at a moment’s notice. It was not like he had anything to prove anymore.

While the investigation is ongoing DCI Morton is also dealing with intense personal problems which turn his life upside down, resulting in an interesting sub plot depicting the frustrations of dealing with unaccommodating banks and legal systems.

The forensic, legal details and police procedures are very well researched and the plot is tight and realistic with unexpected twists and a shock departure. It’s gritty and the main characters are well executed and believable. All the strands of the story are woven together well making this an enjoyable read.

Could do with a little more precise editing, there are a few grammatical and punctuation errors.
I think this works as a stand alone but if, like me, you haven’t read the first book, Dead on Demand, it’s available for a free download in the Amazon UK and US Kindle shops at the moment. Not sure for how long though.

The book may be purchased at Amazon UK Amazon US

 

SONY DSCSean is a Barrister turned author. His first foray into fiction is Dead on Demand, a crime novel that he co-authored with his brother.

Sean also has a number of nonfiction articles pertaining to legal practice in academic journals, books and two nonfiction guides available for Kindle.

His main literary passion is crime, but he also likes to read other genres from time to time.

A passionate advocate for independent authors, Sean runs the www.90daysnovel.com blog offering up his experiences as an indie in the hope that others can learn from his mistakes.