Posted in Weekly Posts

First Chapter ~ First Paragraph (May 31)

First Chapter

Welcome to another Tuesday celebrating bookish events, from Tuesday/First Chapter/Intros, hosted by Bibliophile by the Sea Every Tuesday, Diane at Bibliophile by the Sea posts the opening paragraph (sometime two) of a book she decided to read based on the opening. Feel free to grab the banner and play along.

My opening this week comes from My Husband’s Son by Deborah O’Connor, a book which will be published by Twenty7 Books on 16 June 2016.

My Husband's Son

Blurb

Heidi and Jason aren’t like other couples.
Six years ago, Heidi’s daughter was murdered. A year later, Jason’s son Barney disappeared. Their shared loss brought them together.
By chance, Heidi meets a boy she’s certain is Barney.
But Jason is equally convinced it’s not him.
Is Heidi mad? Or is Jason hiding something? And can their fragile marriage survive Heidi’s newfound quest for the truth . . . Amazon

~ ~ ~ ~ ~

First Chapter ~ First Paragraph ~ Intro

Prologue

He appears from behind the door like a gift. He is alone, his stare daydream-soft.
She sees a chance, steps forward and puts a finger to her lips in warning. Keep quiet. His gaze narrows. But he is not scared, not yet.
She hesitates. Despite everything, he is not hers to take. then, he smiles. Gap-toothed and cresting a thick patch of blond hair. His eyes are dark, almost black brown. A beautiful child. She reaches for him.
‘Let’s go.’
He tilts on his heel wary.
Her hand around his wrist, she leads him into the corridor. She decides against the lift and heads for the stairs. Before they descend she checks to see if they have been followed.

Chapter One

The day I stumbled upon him was just like any other. I’d been out of town, at a sales presentation, and I was on my way home. I was tired and I wanted to get some wine to have with dinner and so, even though it wasn’t the nicest of streets, I stopped at the first place I could: an off-licence.

These extracts comes from a proof copy.

So what do you think? Would you keep reading?

Please leave your thoughts and links in the comments box below!

Posted in Blog Tour

**Blog Tour** When The Killing Starts – RC Bridgestock

When The Killing Starts Blog Tour banner

 

When I was contacted by Carol to ask if I would be interested in taking part in the blog tour for their seventh book in the Jack Dylan series I said yes, of course – why? Well to be honest although I had read the first book; Deadly Focus I hadn’t kept up to date – the reason for my interest was the fact they’d been consultants on one of the few TV programmes I watch – Happy Valley and I was keen to know more, and fortunately as well as providing some fascinating background to how Jack Dylan came about Bob and Carol kindly included some information on that for me too.

When The Killing Starts j peg

Fact to Fiction
Retirement is just a word….
Taking off the mask of the detective, which had been part of every day life for many years proved more difficult than we thought after leaving the police force. Five years later we found ourselves serendipitously writing how ‘it really is’ for a police officer and his family – in fictional tales. Eight years on we are having our seventh book ‘When The Killing Starts’ published by Caffeine Nights on June 30th, and also being Consultants to BAFTA winning Happy Valley, described as No. 1 Best TV drama. ‘With some of the most psychologically perceptive writing and acting that TV has ever seen.’ Also being credited by the Sunday Mail as giving the series Sally Wainwright wrote, gritty authenticity as advisors on the detailed plot-lines drawn from our own experience on real life cases.

We thought we had made a complete break when we ‘retired’ from the police force thirteen years ago; ‘Far from the maddening crowds’, to use the words of Author Thomas Hardy. Relocating three hundred miles from ‘our patch’ was intentional. Our move to pastures new on Bob’s police retirement (30 years of exemplary con-duct and dedicated service to the public of West Yorkshire the UK 4th largest police force), meant we would not be constantly reminded, of work. The latter three years of Bob’s CID led career was particularly gruelling as he took charge of twenty-six murder enquiries, some of which were very high profile. Fifty suspicious death investigations, twenty- four major incident incidents including drive by shootings, numerous sexual attacks and he was also, what the police term as an ‘on call’ Hostage Negotiator; an immediate police response negotiator for kidnap, suicide intervention, extortion and terrorism. These added onto his normal duties nearly saw him off! And how did he know these figures? Because on top of it all the police made the SIO’s keep stats for performance figures.

They say an SIO’s (Senior Investigative Officer) ‘lifespan’ is three years and Bob did five. He was almost dead on his feet and not even the love of his job, his desire to bring to justice the wrongdoer or the adrenaline could keep him going. He was on his knees. He has twenty-five commendations from Judges and Chief Constables for outstanding detective work and once won the coveted Denis Hoban Trophy but when his thirty year retirement date drew nearer he knew it was time to go.

Although he did his full service as required of him by his contract, the year before his retirement date he started to feel unwell. Initially it was thought he had had a slight stroke. Fortunately the scans and visits to a specialist showed that it had been his body sending him a warning signal that he was suffering from nothing more than ‘overload’. He was told in no uncertain terms that if he didn’t slow down he was heading for a breakdown. So it was certainly time to go. We bought a home on the Isle of Wight, our holiday destination for a number of years.
Although we keep in touch with a number of serving and retired police officers who have become friends over the years, our new social circle have no connections with the police service.

It took five years to renovate the house we bought. During this time we took time out to visit our daughter in Milan, go to London to see the shows, spent hours walking our dog Max on the beautiful sandy beaches. We bought a puppy, Belle and she had pups and we started to help raise money for our local hospice. It was heaven to spend time together again, whatever we were doing. As many serving uniform personnel will tell you ‘the job’ is a lifestyle.
Writing was most definitely not on our radar. Although I had always kept newspaper cuttings, to show the grandchildren in years to come what Grandad Bob did and I wanted Bob to write his life story a legacy to them – maybe one day he will… For now he writes his thoughts and feelings through DI Jack Dylan.

Our journey began through being asked to do a talk for the volunteers at the Earl Mountbatten Hospice.
The audience, laughed, cried and truly engaged in the talk. We were booked for one hour and ended up talking for four – they even ‘forgot’ to break for the tea and cakes! We left with these words ringing in our ears. ’You two should write a book’.

There has been an element of serendipity to our writing that began on that day. In the County Press the next day there was an advert for our local college, ‘Write Your First Novel’ – the rest as they say is history.
We enrolled and attended the two hour sessions over a six week period at the local college. The first draft of Deadly Focus, our first novel in the Dylan series was written in longhand. Having typed it up we knew we had one hundred and twenty-thousand words. Cathartic? We have to say yes, in many ways… And so our writing journey continued.

The weather itself became both a character and an obstacle in Snow Kills our fourth DI Dylan novel. This was deliberate. All our books are born out of experience, those of our family, friends or acquaintances. We truly believe that the best way of writing for us is to write what we know…
We want the reader to feel as if they are present at the scene and we feel we can do that best if we’ve been there. We want the story to strike a note of authenticity to the reader/the viewer of our TV work. Our work isn’t James Bond, it’s how it really is…

For instance most of us can identify with being in a ‘gridlock’ traffic situation when a snowstorm arrives, creating problems no matter how much preparation there has been to keep the arterial routes open. In any murder investigation the weather can be a hazard and unforgiving and we worked on our experience ’in the job’ as well as our daughters experience of being stuck in the snow.

Because we work together characters are usually based on someone we have come across either in our professional life or other. Norris Regan is a character who has drawn many to make comparison with a certain Norman Bates. We agree now we’ve ‘looked him up’ but it wasn’t intentional and we hadn’t considered him. The character of Norris was based on personal knowledge of an individual’s appearance and lifestyle from which we created a murderer. The character in question was actually based on a guy who was part of a police enquiry, and was found living in an old people’s home for ladies. However, we would never use real life cases in our novels as we believe it is the victims of crime who serve the life sentence and not the perpetrator. The victims and their families have suffered enough.

One of Dylan’s greatest attributes, we feel, is his moral fibre. Dylan and Jen are based loosely on ourselves. I repeat ‘loosely’ very loosely. The moral fibre within the character comes from our own beliefs. As we said previously we find it easier to write what we know.

DI Jack Dylan is positively cheerful by accepted crime fiction standards. He isn’t your typical dour, downcast individual. He has a good sense of humour – as a police officer will tell you it’s an essential part of the profile. I guess that goes for any-one who works in the emergency services. You can’t allow yourself to be drawn into the sadness of an incident no matter how horrific it is, which is not easy especially with the added burden of breaking bad news to the family.

Most people who are the first responders to major incidents go into ‘autopilot’ and do what they have to do/what they are taught to do. There is a certain routine to follow and it’s only afterwards when reality sinks in that it hits you. If you didn’t laugh, sometimes you find yourself laughing at the most bizarre things. For instance Bob was in the mortuary at a post mortem when the dead person’s glass eye popped out and bounced off the table onto the floor. To the surprise of those present the assistance caught it and dusted it off! This is often called black humour, but I think it’s a necessary coping mechanisms. To give you another example what do you do at a murder scene when the body sits up? Do you laugh, run, or display that calm exterior as ‘the man in charge’? Be assured you want to run like anyone else, but if the man in charge runs the team will follow. Bob always tried to lead by example whilst he admits sometimes quaking inside…

With death and seeing the worst of man’s inhumanity to man constantly around him, Dylan values life as we do and has a good sense of humour born out of dealing with horrendous situations. He finds a positive in most things as Bob did and still does. RC Bridgestock is one name we chose to represent us both. Bob and Carol Bridgestock.

 

Rob and Carol Bridgestokc

How do you manage your writing together?

We are often asked does one of you have the ideas and the other the literary skills?
Although christened Robert, Bob is the name used throughout his life and it seemed right to use the pseudonym RC Bridgestock using our own names Robert and Carol. We never discussed how we would write together it seemed to evolve naturally, and this makes best use of our strengths. We probably write a bit like ‘the tortoise and the hare’. Bob setting off at pace writing the crime plot from start to finish with the mask of the police officer firmly in place. At this stage the incident unfolds as it does in ‘real time’ and he knows nothing more about the body or missing person involved, as you wouldn’t. It has to be procedurally correct for us and is a mixture of things he has experienced. There isn’t great depth to the characters or the surroundings at this stage, it’s purely about the plot and the investigation. This first draft will be around 65,000 words. He then moves away from this narrative and starts on another idea. He is usually one book ahead of me. This allows me to then develop Dylan’s home life storyline, develop the characters as I see them and set the scene. I use my own experience in the police force as seventeen years as a civilian employee but also as the wife of an SIO. I also interview Bob, and get him to open up to his real feelings, something that he is getting better at with time. I am in no doubt working for the police, the police officers stance but I want from him, his true feelings of the man ‘behind the mask of the detective.’ Also I want to know who he bases the characters on and more detail of the scenes through his eyes whilst he is writing. I have never been to a mortuary or attended at a post-mortem for instance, don’t want to, but I do need to find out what one looks, feels, smells, like to portray that to the reader. Perhaps in summary I put more ‘flesh on the bones’. The proof that this works comes from other officers/emergency staff who follow us specifically because we tell us ‘It’s just as it is…

Once this second draft is done the wordage is around hundred thousand. We then sit down together and go through every sentence, every paragraph and every chapter until we are totally happy with the story and the way it moves forward, at pace. The pace is really important as again this is how it really is… Then and only then does it go to our literary agent to read. This is such a useful exercise and one we didn’t have until we were signed by David H Headley, owner of DHH Literary Agency, Cecil Court, London. It is often the fresh eyes you need to look over the story before it goes to the publisher.

Characters and story lines often take us to places that we never intend at the start of a new book. The Dylan series – just happen that way. Each book stands alone with a new crime investigation but the family life continues – itself having a new storyline in each book as Dylan and Jen grow as a family with Maisy and Max, the dog. Our total service in the police force amounts to forty-seven years. I was a civilian support worker for seventeen and in that time did numerous roles in various administration departments. Bob and I worked at the same Division for a number of years so we knew the same people, both within the service and out. I was also obviously the wife of a serving police officer, who looked after our children and his home life, and therefore saw and felt how much each incident took out of the man I love. Some people say Jen is ‘too good’. There isn’t any other way but to be a team and yes, I wanted to kick ass sometimes and throw my ‘teddy out of cot’ when Bob was called out to a job whilst we were out shopping, at the theatre, for example; but what good would that have done, other than upset Bob and the kids? As I said before most partners of emergency/uniform personnel will tell you, you either live with the life or you get out.

Everything that has happened in our writing careers so far seems to have been ‘meant to be’ – even finding our publisher. Bob used to survive on coffee when he was in the CID, so when Caffeine Nights publishing appeared on screen, it seemed like the obvious choice to pitch at them and we were led to Darren E Laws who has now published six of our books and the next ‘When the Killing Starts’ to be released 30th June 2016. We are contracted to book 8 in the series and are working on that with the intention it will be published in 2017.

The TV work came about by our meeting with a Halifax Courier reporter we have both known for many years. Virginia was interviewing us when our second book, Consequences was published. She had recently interviewed scriptwriter Sally Wainwright as Last Tango in Halifax was about to be aired and suggested we talk to each other. Sally got in touch about a police series she had been commissioned to write for BBC 1. The ‘brief’ was a modern ‘Juliet Bravo’ and ‘Happy Valley’ was born. Happy Valley is a dark, funny, multi-layered thriller revolving around the personal and professional life of Catherine, a dedicated, experienced, hard-working copper. She is also a bereaved mother who looks after her orphaned grandchild. George Costigan (Unforgiven, Calendar Girls), Joe Armstrong (The Village, Robin Hood) and James Norton (Rush, Death Comes to Pemberley) will also star in the new drama. As will Adam Long (Spike Island, Waterloo Road), Karl Davies (Emmerdale, Game of Thrones), Ramon Tikaram (Casualty, Eastenders) and Charlie Murphy (Love/Hate, The Village).

After the success of the first series we were swiftly signed up to be consultants for story lines and police advisors for the award winning police series Scott and Bailey # 4, working alongside Amelia Bullmore and the general storyline/police advisors for Red Productions. Bob can regularly be heard commenting for BBC Radio Leeds on breaking news stories and we have featured on BBC Radio 4 – Steve Punt PI and more recently regarding Happy Valley’
Would you believe we have even been immortalised by the writers of the comic strip ‘Dick Tracy’  and voted #8 Best Crime Writers Of All Time WHS Readers Poll
RT 4 Bob Carol 89764 RT
We are workaholics and daily involve ourselves in charity work. We are patrons for Patrons – BASH – (Brighouse And Surround Homeless) – Winners Yorkshire Choice Awards 2016
Patrons – Isle of Wight Society for the Blind – Winners Queen’s Voluntary Services Medal 2015
Patrons – RedLipstick Foundation
Ambassadors – Bethany’s Smile
Ambassadors – The Forget Me Not Children’s Hospice
We have also seen our books taken into Turkey and South Korea in 2013 and optioned by The Gate Films to try to bring the series to TV. Working with The Gate has been such a dream…
This just goes to show you, you can have correct police procedure and drama rolled into one!

You can find out more about this series tomorrow at Shaz’s Book Blog

Posted in Weekly Posts

Weekly Wrap Up (May 29)

Weekly Wrap Up

 

Last Week on the Blog

I started the week with a review for one a contemporary fiction story with a dark edge; The Accidental Life of Greg Millar written by Aimee Alexander

On Tuesday I was part of the blog tour for Don’t You Cry by Mary Kubica, an excellent read in this, her third book. You can tell I like this author as her second book, Pretty Baby is sitting in my header picture!

And on Wednesday I kept you updated on my reading choices for the week which include two big names; Mark Billingham and Sharon Bolton.

My review of My Husband’s Wife by Jane Corry went up on publication day 26 May 2016

Friday saw me deciding what books I am going to read for Cathy 746 #20 Books of Summer – there is still time for you all to join in – Part 1 of my list is here

And I finished the week with what is probably my favourite crime fiction read of the year; Daisy In Chains by Sharon Bolton received the full five stars from yours truly in this review.

Flourish.jpg

News

The eagle-eyed amongst you may have noticed my reading has slowed to a snail-like pace, this week’s excuse is I took a trip to London with my darling daughter, a birthday present to her and to get wedding accoutrements, including the dreaded hat for me. Thanks to a wonderful woman in Debenhams on Oxford Street the hat has now arrived in Jersey. The weekend saw us walk over 20,000 steps both days so exercise targets were met too.

Charlie and the Chocolate factory

In the evening we went to see Charlie and the Chocolate Factory at The Theatre Royal in Drury Lane. It was a wonderful production with the starring role(s) definitely going to the Oompa Loompas!

Sadly the Muffin Man wasn’t in sight…
Do you know the muffin man?
The muffin man, the muffin man.
Do you know the muffin man
Who lives in Drury Lane?

On Tuesday I was thrilled to spot a tweet from Catherine Ryan Howard advertising Distress Signals with a quote from my review!

#DistressSignals

I also spotted this on Amazon for Little Bones by Sam Blake so I’m feeling just a little bit famous this week.

Product Description

Incredibly engrossing with many twists & turns along the way…I would happily recommend Little Bones to anyone looking for a fast paced crime thriller Swirl and Thread Blog The start of an exciting new crime series introducing fearless Detective Cat Connolly… one of the year’s most thrilling reads. Easons Little Bones is a fascinating story about old sins and family secrets. I found the book engrossing from the start, thanks to both the interesting story and its characters. — Magdalena Johansson A Bookaholic Swede Blog I was incredibly impressed by Little Bones. If you like your crime fiction to involve the more traditional police procedural, one that has a little more complexity to the generic, this may well be a book that you will really enjoy. Cleopatra Loves Books Blog Little Bones has suspense, mystery, suspicious death, festering families, a brilliantly executed plot, PLUS characters with plenty of flavour Little Bookness Lane Blog

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Stacking the Shelves

I’ve had a few additions to the TBR this week – with some great approvals from NetGalley

First up Truly Madly Guilty by the outstanding Liane Moriarty which will be published by Penguin UK on 28 July 2016.

Truly Madly Guilty

Blurb

Despite their differences, Erika and Clementine have been best friends since they were children. So when Erika needs help, Clementine should be the obvious person to turn to. Or so you’d think.
For Clementine, as a mother of a two desperately trying to practise for the audition of a lifetime, the last thing she needs is Erika asking for something, again.
But the barbecue should be the perfect way to forget their problems for a while. Especially when their hosts, Vid and Tiffany, are only too happy to distract them.
Which is how it all spirals out of control… NetGalley

Another one from Twenty7 Books is Cut to the Bone by Alex Caan which isn’t out until 3 November 2016.

Cut to the Bone

Ruby is a vlogger, a rising star of YouTube and a heroine to millions of teenage girls. And she’s missing. She’s an adult – nothing to worry about, surely? Until the video’s uploaded. Ruby, in the dirt and pleading for her life.
Who better to head up the investigation than the Met’s rising star, Detective Inspector Kate Riley? She’s leading a shiny new team, high-powered, mostly female and with the best resources money can buy. It’s time for them to prove what they can do. Alongside her, Detective Superintendent Zain Harris – poster boy for multiracial policing and the team’s newest member – has his own unique contribution to make. But can Kate wholly trust him and when he’s around, can she trust herself?
Ruby’s millions of fans are hysterical about what may have happened to her. The press is having a field day and as the investigation hurtles out of control in the glare of publicity, it becomes clear that the world of YouTube vloggers and social media is much, much darker than anyone could have imagined in their worst nightmares. And the videos keep coming . . . NetGalley

And… drum roll… I have a copy of Gilly Macmillan’s second book; The Perfect Girl which has already been published in eBook format but will be out in paperback on 25 August 2016 by Little Brown Book Group.

The Perfect Girl

Blurb

To everyone who knows her now, Zoe Maisey – child genius, musical sensation – is perfect. Yet several years ago Zoe caused the death of three teenagers. She served her time, and now she’s free.
Her story begins with her giving the performance of her life.
By midnight, her mother is dead.
The Perfect Girl is an intricate exploration into the mind of a teenager burdened by brilliance, and a past that she cannot leave behind. NetGalley

In the post I have a copy of Intrusion by Mary McCluskey a psychological thriller that is being published on 1 July 2016 by Little A. Intrusion

Blurb

Kat and Scott Hamilton are dealing with the hardest of losses: the death of their only child. While Scott throws himself back into his law practice in Los Angeles, Kat is hesitant to rejoin the workplace and instead spends her days shell-shocked and confused, unable to focus.
When an unwelcome face from Kat’s past in England emerges—the beautiful and imposing Sarah Cherrington—Kat’s marriage is thrown into a tailspin. Now wealthy beyond anything she could have imagined as a girl, Sarah appears to have everything she could need or want. But Sarah has an agenda and she wants one more thing. Soon Kat and Scott are caught up in her devious games and power plays.
Against the backdrops of Southern California and Sussex, in spare and haunting prose, Mary McCluskey propels this domestic drama to its chilling conclusion. Goodreads

I also have a copy of Sabine Durrant’s latest book, Lie With Me which came unbidden ahead of publication on 5 July 2016 by Mulholland Books. I strongly suspect I was sent this ARC because I enjoyed the author’s previous books Under Your Skin and Remember Me This Way, both books that I awarded five stars.

Lie With Me

Blurb

It starts with a lie. The kind we’ve all told – to a former acquaintance we can’t quite place but still, for some reason, feel the need to impress. The story of our life, embellished for the benefit of the happily married lawyer with the kids and the lovely home.
And the next thing you know, you’re having dinner at their house, and accepting an invitation to join them on holiday – swept up in their perfect life, the kind you always dreamed of…
Which turns out to be less than perfect. But by the time you’re trapped and sweating in the relentless Greek sun, burning to escape the tension all around you – by the time you start to realise that, however painful the truth might be, it’s the lies that cause the real damage…
… well, by then, it could just be too late. Amazon

And if that wasn’t enough for someone who isn’t acquiring new books… I have also bought a kindle copy of The Mistake by Wendy James. This book was originally bought to my attention by the marvellous Margot Kinberg at Confessions of a Mystery Novelist, if you haven’t done so I highly recommend visiting her blog!

The Mistake

Blurb

We all have secrets . . . Jodie Garrow is a teenager from the wrong side of the tracks when she falls pregnant. Scared, alone and desperate to make something of her life, she adopts out the baby illegally and tells nobody. Twenty-five years on, Jodie has built a new life and a new family. But when a chance meeting brings the adoption to the notice of the authorities, Jodie becomes caught in a nationwide police investigation, and the centre of a media witch hunt. What happened to Jodie’s baby? And where is she now? The fallout from Jodie’s past puts her whole family under the microscope, and her husband and daughter must re-examine everything they believed to be true. Potent, provocative and compulsively readable, The Mistake is the story of a mother and the media’s powerful role in shaping our opinions. With astonishing insight, it cuts to the heart of what makes a family, and asks us whether we can ever truly know another person. ‘The kind of novel that will have you second-guessing your own reactions and skilfully exposes the troubling expectations we resort to in the absence of hard evidence. Amazon

PicMonkey Collage TBR

TBR WATCH
Oh dear oh dear! Since my last count I have read 3 books,  – I have however gained 6 books – the total this week is now standing at a shocking 181 books!
95 physical books
69 e-books
17 books on NetGalley

 

What have you found to read this week?

Posted in Book Review, Books I have read, Five Star Reads

Daisy in Chains – Sharon Bolton

Crime Fiction 5*s
Crime Fiction
5*s

A deliciously dark read which was simply superb!

What you want to know a little bit more? Some book reviews really don’t have to say too much at all. If you’ve read any of Sharon Bolton’s previous books you’ll know she really does know her craft; not only can she come up with a great story her characters are always fully formed. None more so in this book when the trio of characters she has created will soon have you under their spell.

Hamish Wolfe is in HMP Isle of Wight prison, convicted of the murder of three young women, fat young women. Judged by his peers to be guilty of luring the women to caves in Cheddar Gorge in Somerset and killing them. The former doctor’s mother, Sandra has set up a group to campaign for his freedom.

Sandra Wolfe invites Maggie Rose, Lawyer and true-crime writer who has managed to free seven other convicted criminals to help her but Maggie just isn’t sure that this is a case she can win but she agrees to meet the group. And what a group they are; a writer that conjures up the group mentality while picking out distinctive characters for the reader to examine, avoiding obvious clichés yet leaving this reader in no doubt of how these meetings have played out in the past is one heck of a writer!

Pete Watson was the officer that had Hamish convicted and doesn’t want Maggie digging around in the background to the killings. A man with a lot on his plate as his boss is the man who now lives with his ex-wife and their daughter what or who is he really trying to protect?

I defy anyone to read this book and not to be drawn by these captivating characters who are dancing a dance of attraction, but what are they attracted to? Beauty or brains? Who exactly is manipulating who?

With the story told in a linear time-line we also have letters written to and from the prison, emails and chapters from the  draft of the book that Maggie is writing about Hamish, complete with the corny title The Big Bad Wolf! All of these items reveal that Maggie isn’t quite the cool calm collected women she presents to the outside world. On the other hand Pete doesn’t seem to quite sure whether he is still investigating the disappearance of a potential first victim to provide yet more proof of Hamish’s guilt or whether he is helping Maggie to clear his name. This is a tricky and unusual mind-set for any character in crime fiction. Normally everyone is sure which side of the fence they sit on and stick with it but I got the sense that Peter was trying to fulfil too many briefs and expectations. Perhaps his heart is ruling his head? And what about Hamish, the obvious question is of course around his guilt – did he murder those women? – but the book also goes further in asking is he capable of such an act? A question which is almost as compelling with a different burden of proof required.

The short chapters beg you to read just a little bit more and yet despite the great plot, the fabulous characters there is a questioning quality to this book. I have always dismissed the women who feature in true stories of women who are drawn to men in prison, but Sharon Bolton does go some way to examining the psyche of these relationships in an overt way and a more subtle one – I was drawn to Hamish, even without seeing him in the flesh.

Definitely one of the best crime fiction reads of the year so far I can’t recommend this stand-alone story highly enough.

I’d like to thank the publishers Random House UK for allowing me to read a copy of Daisy in Chains prior to publication on 2 June 2016. This unbiased, yet gushing review, is my thanks to them.

Other Books by Sharon Bolton (aka S.J. Bolton)

Lacey Flint Series

Now You See Me
Dead Scared
Like This For Ever
A Dark and Twisted Tide

Short Stories

If Snow Hadn’t Fallen
Here Be Dragons

Standalone Books

Little Black Lies

 

 

 

Posted in Challenge

20 Books of Summer 2016! #20booksofsummer

20 Books of Summer 2016

Cathy at Cathy 746 has a yearly challenge to read twenty books over the summer months starting on 1 June 2016 and running until 5 September 2016, and I’ve decided to join her. In preparation I had already decided not to read ARCs during June to get me off to a flying start.

As I’m competitive I’m signing up for the full twenty. My personal challenge is to read these twenty books from my bookshelf, physical books that I already own before today. Funnily enough I have plenty to choose from… a whole 95 in fact!

Because I know that facts in one book tend to lead me to seek out other books in my tangential reading style, I’ve decided to start with a spread of genres and authors for the first ten books – fat books, thin books and books inbetween! I will post the next ten when these are all finished hopefully mid-July, if I’m on schedule!

The links below will take you to the Goodreads description

The Testament of Youth by Vera Britten

The Little Stranger by Sarah Waters

The Poison Principle by Gail Bell

The Curious Habits of Doctor Adams by Jane Robins

Other People’s Secrets by Louise Candlish

You Should Have Known by Jean Hanff Korelitz

An Awfully Big Adventure by Beryl Bainbridge

Pictures of Perfection (Dalziel & Pascoe #13) by Reginald Hill

Buried Angels (Patrik Hedström #8) by Camilla Läckberg

The Shrimp and the Anemone by L.P. Hartley

I will be joining Cathy by tweeting my way through the challenge using the hashtag #20booksofsummer and I will provide (a yet to be decided logo) to demonstrate when one of my reads is part of this challenge!

PicMonkey Collage

Like last year there will be a master page linking the titles to my reviews as they are posted, and of course eventually listing the entire twenty books.

There’s still time to join in and Cathy has also provided a 10 Books of Summer image or even a 15 Books of Summer image for those of you who feel aiming for 20 is quite frankly ridiculous. Visit Cathy to get the full details here

So what do you think to my choices? Do you have any suggestions on where I should start or perhaps you think some of these need to be put back on the shelf and forgotten about? All comments welcomed!

Posted in Book Review, Books I have read

My Husband’s Wife – Jane Corry

Psychological Thriller 4*s
Psychological Thriller
4*s

This is a domestic thriller with a difference, far more subtle than the normal fayre and dare I say it, with a less simplistic message than some.

The book opens on 20 October 2015 with an excerpt from The Telegraph announcing the death of a famous artist, he’d been stabbed. We then move straight back in time to the turn of the millennium in the year 2000 and meet Lily who is a solicitor facing her first day assisting the defence in a criminal case. The subject is Joe Thomas an incarcerated man accused of murdering his girlfriend. It is also Lily’s first day back at home in her Clapham flat as a married woman, she has married an aspiring artist, Ed, who works in advertising to pay the bills.

Next we meet Carla who is a child of nine who lives downstairs from Lily and Ed with her Italian mother Francesca. Carla’s father died when she was a baby and she longs for the things the other girls at school have but most of all she longs not to be different. While Francesca works Carla is looked after by Lily and becomes a subject for Ed to draw and paint.

The first half of the book follows these flawed five characters throughout the time that Lily is building her case to free Joe Thomas. The hours are long and her marriage to Ed less than perfect. We know that Lily misses her dead brother Daniel, and that she feels guilty about something that happened before she married, but whatever caused the guilt, Lily is not telling anyone. But there is no doubt that she sees something of Daniel in her client Joe. The author also paints a worrying picture of a young girl who learns to lie to and manipulate those around her to ease her unhappiness.

One of the most brilliant things in the book is precisely that all the characters are a mixture of good and bad. Does being good in one area of your life redeem yourself for those times that you behaved less well? This theme runs into the second half too when we meet Carla in 2013 as an adult, a beautiful young woman who is determined not to end up like her mother, alone and unhappy. She decides to seek out some old friends and so enters Lily’s life once more.

Along with the complex and enthralling characters we have other reoccurring issues including Asperger’s syndrome, fidelity, deception and lies and we all know one small lie can easily multiply to become something huge!

The chapters alternate between Lily and Carla which kept me reading long after I should have put the book to one side, as they revealed not only parts of their own characters but also of those around them. This isn’t a fast paced book, the author covers a lot of ground and the depth of the story being told becomes apparent as the layers are peeled back on the characters. Using her writing, rather than a jaw-dropping twist, the feeling of dread increases quite alarmingly once the second half of the book begins. After all we now know something of what each of the characters we’ve met are capable of, but how does that link to the tantalising opening headline? If you want to know, you really should read My Husband’s Wife which is published today, 26 May 2016.

I’d like to offer a huge thank you to Penguin UK who gave me an advance copy of this book for review purposes. This review is my unbiased thanks to them.

Posted in Weekly Posts

This Week in Books (May 25)

This Week In Books

Lypsyy Lost & Found my Wednesday post gives you a taste of what I am reading this week. A similar meme is run by Taking on a World of Words

I have just started reading Daisy In Chains by the magnificent Sharon Bolton

Daisy in Chains

Blurb

Famous killers have fan clubs.
Hamish Wolfe is no different. Locked up for the rest of his life for the abduction and murder of three young women, he gets countless adoring letters every day. He’s handsome, charismatic and very persuasive. His admirers are convinced he’s innocent, and that he’s the man of their dreams.
Who would join such a club?
Maggie Rose is different. Reclusive and enigmatic; a successful lawyer and bestselling true-crime writer, she only takes on cases that she can win.
Hamish wants her as his lawyer, he wants her to change his fate. She thinks she’s immune to the charms of a man like this. But maybe not this time . . .
Would you? NetGalley

I have just finished My Husband’s Wife by Jane Corry which has had me enthralled with the story split between the past and present. My Husband’s Wife will be published on 26 May 2016 – look out for my review coming soon!

My Husband's Wife

Blurb

FIRST COMES LOVE. THEN COMES MARRIAGE. THEN COMES MURDER…
When lawyer Lily marries Ed, she’s determined to make a fresh start. To leave the secrets of the past behind.
But then she meets Joe. A convicted murderer who reminds Lily of someone she once knew, and who she becomes obsessed with freeing.
But is he really innocent?
And who is she to judge? Amazon

Next up is going to be Die of Shame by Mark Billingham who hasn’t disappointed me yet so I’m braced for the ride, and doesn’t it sound good?

Die of Shame

Blurb

Every Monday evening, six people gather in a smart North London house to talk about addiction. There they share their deepest secrets: stories of lies, regret, and above all, shame.
Then one of them is killed – and it’s clear one of the circle was responsible.
Detective Inspector Nicola Tanner quickly finds her investigation hampered by the strict confidentiality that binds these people and their therapist together. So what could be shameful enough to cost someone their life?
And how do you find the truth when denial and deception are second nature to all of your suspects? Amazon


What are you reading this week? Do share in the comments envelope below!

Posted in Blog Tour, Book Review, Books I have read

Don’t You Cry – Mary Kubica (Blog Tour)

Psychological Thriller 4*s
Psychological Thriller
4*s

Blog Tour Banner Don't You Cry

When Quinn Collins realises that her dependable flat-mate, Esther Vaughan is not at home where she left her the night before, nursing a minor ailment, she is at first far more confused than concerned. That Esther has left her phone behind and the door to the fire-escape open, causes her moments of disquiet which slowly build into anxiety that something bad has happened. With the Chicago police not moved to do a great deal Quinn starts playing detective and finds letters that seem to indicate that Esther wasn’t the friend Quinn thought she was.

In a small town in Michigan Alex Gallo is working as a dishwasher, left behind by his school friends as he had to work to keep a roof above his, and his father’s heads. Alex’s father is a drunk. One day a girl Alex names pearl walks into the diner where he works and Alex develops a huge crush on Pearl and starts to take a real interest in her life. She reciprocates his offer of friendship but who is she and where has she come from?

With Quinn narrating the section in Chicago, we learn as much about her as we do Esther and likewise in Michigan, Alex reveals so much about his past, his present and his future which seems unrelentingly bleak. A boy with a brain but no prospects and doing odd-jobs for a woman with disabling agoraphobia; playing cards with her is the highlight of his week.

This is a far slower paced book than Mary Kubica’s previous two novels, but despite not being action-packed as the story unfolds the underlying darkness gradually comes into focus but not so much so that I had any clear idea what was ultimately going to be revealed. This is one of those books that should be held up of a good example of how to write a book that is compelling reading without being full of fancy techniques or non-stop action. I really wanted to find out what was behind Esther’s disappearance and whether Quinn’s suspicions were going to prove to be true. Mary Kubica is a master at making you look in one direction for clues and certainties and then sneaking up behind you to present an alternate possibility and I really do love it when a book convincingly deceives me.

When the storyline is light on action you do need solid characters to hold the reader’s interest and the people living amongst these pages were certainly convincing. The shades of their personalities came through in their own doubts; neither Alex nor Quinn were blessed with over-confidence and the confusion about the situations they found themselves in was only too believable. Thankfully despite the two young adults narration it was far from over-burdened with navel-gazing instead we see most of this from the way they interact with others around them.

As you know I don’t usually say much about the ending – this one was convincing and definitely borne out of the pages which preceded it or in other words, the clues were there; albeit buried! This is Mary Kubica’s third book and I was exceptionally impressed by the previous two; The Good Girl and Pretty Baby and once again the author has shown how versatile a writer she is, a different type of psychological thriller, a different structure and yet another great read. Mary Kubica is firmly on my list of must-read authors.

I was delighted to receive a copy of Don’t You Cry from the publishers Harlequin, this unbiased review is my thank you to them. Don’t You Cry was published on 19 May 2016.

I’m on the organised blog tour for Don’t You Cry today so if you want to find out more do go and visit the other posts!

Posted in Book Review, Books I have read

The Accidental Life of Greg Millar – Aimee Alexander

Contemporary Fiction 4*s
Contemporary Fiction
4*s

This was a different kind of read for me, a book about families overcoming adversity with more than a few secrets to muddy the waters.

The Accidental Life of Greg Millar is told in the first person present tense by Lucy Arigho, a graphic designer. A young woman mourning the death of her fiancé and struggling to come to terms with the fact that the life she imagined has gone. Then she meets Greg Millar through the course of her work. He is a crime fiction writer who is full of zest for life. Greg and Lucy bond over their respective losses, Greg’s wife died in childbirth five years previously and since then Greg has raised their two children, Toby and Rachel with the help of his live-in nanny Hilary.

The first part of the book was a fairly light look at an emerging love affair with Lucy infected by Greg’s outlook on life. When a rapid engagement followed I was beginning to think that it may well be overly saccharine for my tastes but when the family and Lucy decamped to France for the summer their lives took a much darker turn. Not least because Rachel at ten had taken firmly against Lucy and certainly wasn’t amenable to the thought of her becoming a firm fixture – Lucy meanwhile has taken her older sister Gayle’s advice and is frantically reading books on becoming a step-parent.

Once the book moved on from the somewhat superficial beginning there was lots to become interested in although the focus remained on relationships of all shapes and sizes, there were other big issues to be explored although at times I felt that Lucy was impossibly naïve at times and other characters had clearly been living in a bubble, this was a minor point which didn’t detract from the overall plot.

I don’t often get overly-emotional by the books I read but this one did see a sneaky tear or two roll down my cheeks as the story moved towards its grand finale indicating that the author had done her job well. She made me care about this family from Dublin with the scenes concerning the children very well executed. Toby being younger was a typical little boy although I didn’t feel the author was quite as diligent at charting his growth as she was with Rachel who right from the start came across as a genuine girl growing up without her mother, a young girl who looked out for her much younger brother and who enjoyed the adoration shown by Gayle’s younger sons. We see Rachel mature and become part of the solution in the trials that the family faces but Toby remained the cosseted baby, an image that any self-respecting young boy would object to!

This book, despite not depicting any murders or crimes held my attention with its somewhat darker take on the boy meets girl storyline, a book that had enough issues so that I genuinely wanted to know how the story would pan out and I’m glad to say it definitely ended on a high-note.

I’d like to thank the author, Aimee Alexander for giving me a copy of The Accidental Life of Greg Millar for review purposes. This unbiased review is my thank you to her.

Posted in Weekly Posts

Weekly Wrap Up (May 22)

Weekly Wrap Up

 

Last Week on the Blog

I started the week with a review for one of my favourite contemporary crime series; Play Dead by Angela Marsons which I awarded five stars for this brilliant fourth book.

On Tuesday I featured the intro from my favourite series of all time featuring Roy Grace in readiness for publication of the twelfth book in the series later in the week.

And on Wednesday I kept you updated on my reading choices for the week which include the exciting looking My Husband’s Wife by Jane Corry

My review of Love You Dead by Peter James went up on publication day 19 May 2016 and this book met all my expectations and more – a superb read!

Friday saw me looking at the recent phenomenon of authors producing short stories to tie-in with longer novels. What’s your opinion?

Yesterday I looked at book discoveries I’d found by chance and for which I’m eternally grateful.

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News

Bloggers Bash Awards 2016

On Thursday I was thrilled, and quite frankly amazed, to find out I’d been nominated at 2nd  Annual Bloggers Bash Awards 2016 in the category Best Book Review Blog Award

Which book reviewer do you love? This isn’t about being prolific this is about quality reviews. Who’s the most thoughtful reviewer? Perhaps their thoughts on a book persuaded you to read it, maybe they use their blog as a platform for authors as well, or perhaps you love them for their scathing honesty!

If you click on the logo you can view all the categories and the nominees.

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Stacking the Shelves

I’ve had a few additions to the TBR this week – I confess to a NetGalley splurge but in my defence the publication dates are for the most part way away.

First up I have a genealogy mystery which the author M J Lee kindly gave me called The Irish Inheritance and it will be published on 16 June 2016

The Irish Inheritance

Blurb

June 8, 1921. Ireland.
A British Officer is shot dead on a remote hillside south of Dublin.
November 22, 2015. United Kingdom.
Former police detective, Jayne Sinclair, now working as a genealogical investigator, receives a phone call from an adopted American billionaire asking her to discover the identity of his real father.
How are the two events linked?
Jayne Sinclair has only three clues to help her: a photocopied birth certificate, a stolen book and an old photograph. And it soon becomes apparent somebody else is on the trail of the mystery. A killer who will stop at nothing to prevent Jayne discovering the secret hidden in the past
The Irish Inheritance takes us through the Easter Rising of 1916 and the Irish War of Independence, combining a search for the truth of the past with all the tension of a modern-day thriller.
It is the first in a series of novels featuring Jayne Sinclair, genealogical detective. Amazon

I also pounced before the sale ended in the kindle sale and bought the second in the Callum Doyle series; The Helper by David Jackson on the strength of my enjoyment for A Tapping At My Door

The Helper

Blurb

An anonymous caller is willing to give you clues that will help you solve a series of murders.
But there’s a catch: You can’t tell anyone about the help you’re getting.
What do you do?
If you turn the offer down, you will have nothing to go on, and more people could die.
But if you accept it, and fail to interpret the clues correctly, they will still die, and you will have concealed information that could have stopped a killer.
Such is the dilemma faced by New York detective Callum Doyle.
The decision he takes will have consequences that will haunt him for the rest of his life. Amazon

Too Close by Gayle Curtis is to be published in eBook format on 30 June 2016 by Twenty7 books, who publish debut novelists.

Too Close

Blurb

A devastating and unsettling story of a powerful and unshakeable twin bond, Too Close is a twisty and gripping tale of secrets and lies. For fans of The Twins by Saskia Sarginson.
Cecelia and Sebastian have a connection like no other – more than just brother and sister, they’ll go to any lengths to protect each other. Growing up in a bleak old farmhouse, their mother gone and their father violent and abusive, the twins have only each other to keep them alive.
But when the secrets of their mother’s disappearance start to emerge, and truth and lies are thrown into question, events take a terrifying turn . . .
As Cecelia tries to break away from the ties that bind her to her brother, Sebastian is determined that the twins should be together – whatever the costs. Amazon

I also have another from Twenty7, this time due for publication in eBook on 16 June 2016; My Husband’s Son by Deborah O’Connor, another psychological thriller

 

My Husband's Son

Blurb

Heidi and Jason aren’t like other couples.
Six years ago, Heidi’s daughter was murdered. A year later, Jason’s son Barney disappeared. Their shared loss brought them together.
By chance, Heidi meets a boy she’s certain is Barney.
But Jason is equally convinced it’s not him.
Is Heidi mad? Or is Jason hiding something? And can their fragile marriage survive Heidi’s newfound quest for the truth . . . NetGalley

From the publishers Zaffre (also part of the Bonnier publishing house) I have yet another psychological thriller The Ice Beneath Her by Camilla Grebe – so my vow to cut back on this genre seems to have fallen by the wayside! But how could I resist this compelling sounding synopsis?

The Ice Beneath Her

Blurb

The Ice Beneath Her is a gripping and deeply disturbing story about love, betrayal and obsession that is impossible to put down. Fast-paced and peopled with compelling characters, it surprises at every turn as it hurtles towards an unforgettable ending with a twist you really won’t see coming . . .
A young woman is found beheaded in an infamous business tycoon’s marble-lined hallway. The businessman, scandal-ridden CEO of the retail chain Clothes & More, is missing without a trace.
But who is the dead woman? And who is the brutal killer who wielded the machete? Rewind two months earlier to meet Emma Bohman, a sales assistant for Clothes & More, whose life is turned upside down by a chance encounter with Jesper Orre. Insisting that their love affair is kept secret, he shakes Emma’s world a second time when he suddenly leaves her with no explanation. As frightening things begin to happen to Emma, she suspects Jesper is responsible. But why does he want to hurt her? And how far would he go to silence his secret lover? NetGalley

Lastly from NetGalley I was extremely surprised and excited to be invited to read a copy of I See You by Clare Mackintosh, the author of I Let You Go which was a huge hit last year.

I See You

Blurb

You do the same thing every day.
You know exactly where you’re going.
You’re not alone.
When Zoe Walker sees her photo in the classifieds section of a London newspaper, she is determined to find out why it’s there. There’s no explanation: just a grainy image, a website address and a phone number. She takes it home to her family, who are convinced it’s just someone who looks like Zoe. But the next day the advert shows a photo of a different woman, and another the day after that.
Is it a mistake? A coincidence? Or is someone keeping track of every move they make . . . NetGalley

I See You will be published on 28 July 2016!

PicMonkey Collage TBR

TBR WATCH
Since my last count I have read 2 books, discarded 1 as I’d already read it and shifted 3 shorts – I have however gained 6 books – the total this week is now standing at 178 books!
94 physical books
68 e-books
16 books on NetGalley

What have you found to read this week? Please don’t tempt me too much!