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

Don’t Make a Sound – David Jackson

Crime Fiction
5*s

David Jackson’s series featuring DS Nathan Cody is on my ‘must-read’ list and I was suitably thrilled to hear that he was making his third appearance on 3 May 2018.

This is one creepy book, no need for gruesome scenes for this author, instead he lets you imagine the worst from his well-chosen words.

A young girl, a mere six years of age, has disappeared from her bed and Nathan Cody is investigating. This investigation is high profile, no one wants to think that there is a child snatcher in the neighbourhood and yet it seems like whoever took Poppy was invisible as there is no trace. Yes no clues to follow and that means that Cody has to painstakingly follow a number of different theories simultaneously to see which one holds water.

We meet Poppy’s parents, Craig and Maria in the wake of her disappearance and we have Cody, DC Meghan Webley, FLO, Jason Oxburgh and data expert Grace Meade amongst others who under the tough leadership of DCI Stella Blunt of Liverpool’s police. We also have ten year old Daisy living with her parents Malcolm and Harriet, home-schooled she is a little lonely and has that peculiar manner of children who spend all their time in the company of adults. All these characters are acutely drawn with everyday events underscored by a level of tension that you simply won’t believe until you read this book for yourself. Never in my life have I had to hold my breath while reading about a game of darts!

Although this is one of my favourite genres, a good solid police procedural there is a strong element of the psychological woven through the storyline. As we observe the different relationships I found I was in on the action trying to work out why some were behaving the way they were, for instance, in the all too familiar media interview I felt I was on the other side of the camera, alongside the police watching and waiting for a sentence that would provide a key to unlocking at least something vaguely useful to explaining what had happened. Because the reader knows more than the police, a dicey device in any but the most assured writer’s keyboard, you’d expect the tension levels to be lower. Not so, I could feel my heart racing at far too many parts of this book to mention. I needed it all resolved, and as the levels increase unrelentingly until the truly outstanding ending. This book should come with a free ECG to make sure your heart is up to reading it!

I’m sure this would read very well as a standalone but I don’t recommend it. A Tapping at my Door, the first in the series, is one of my favourite crime books of all time, and the second, Hope to Die gives us more insight into Nathan Cody as well as being another full-on read so you’ll be missing out if you can’t wait and chose to start with this book but I’m almost certain you’ll need to pick up the previous two if you can’t wait.

I’d like to say a huge thank you to Bonnier Zaffre for allowing me to read a copy of Don’t Make a Sound ahead of publication on 3 May 2018. Thank you also to David Jackson for giving my heart a workout, I can’t wait to see what will happen next. This is an unbiased review written by Cleopatra Loves Books.

First Published UK: 3 May 2018
Publisher: Bonnier Zaffre
o of Pages: 3528
Genre: Crime Fiction – Series
Amazon UK
Amazon US

Posted in Weekly Posts

This Week in Books (April 11)

This Week In Books
Hosted by Lipsy 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

Now that I’ve read all the millions of books which were being published on 5 April 2018, I hoping to squeeze some of my own books into April’s schedule as well as some exciting upcoming publications.

I am currently reading Property: A Collection by Lionel Shriver, a mixture of short stories and novellas centred around property, as in houses or possessions. Property will be published on 19 April 2018

Blurb

First ever story collection from the inimitable Lionel Shriver

This landmark publication, the first collection of stories from a master of the form, explores the idea of “property” in both senses of the word: real estate, and stuff. These sharp, brilliantly imaginative pieces illustrate how our possessions act as proxies for ourselves, and how tussles over ownership articulate the power dynamics of our relationships. In Shriver’s world, we may possess people and objects and places, but in turn they possess us.

In the stunning novella “The Standing Chandelier” (‘a brutal treat’: Daily Mail), a woman with a history of attracting other women’s antagonism creates a deeply personal wedding present for her best friend and his wife-to-be. In “Domestic Terrorism,” a thirty-something son refuses to leave home, resulting in a standoff that renders him a Millennial cause célèbre. In “The ChapStick,” a middle-aged man subjugated by service to his elderly father discovers that the last place you should finally assert yourself is airport security. In “Vermin,” an artistic Brooklyn couple’s purchase of a ramshackle house destroys their once passionate relationship. In “The Subletter,” two women, both foreign conflict junkies, fight over claim to a territory that doesn’t belong to either.

This immensely readable collection showcases the biting insight that has made Lionel Shriver one of the most acclaimed authors of our time, described by the Sunday Times as ‘a brilliant writer’ with ‘a strong, clear and strangely seductive voice’.Amazon

The last book I finished was Our Kind of Cruelty by Araminta Hall, a truly compulsive read, my review for this book which will be published on 3 May 2018 will be up soon.

Blurb

Most of us spend our whole lives searching for the person who’ll make us feel complete.

But Mike and Verity know they’re different. They’ve found their soulmate, and nothing can tear them apart.

Not even the man Verity is marrying.

Because they play a secret game, one they call ‘the Crave’, to demonstrate what they both know: that Verity needs Mike, and Mike alone. But Mike knows that Verity’s impending marriage will raise the stakes of their game higher than ever before.

Because this time, for Mike and Verity to stay together, someone has to die… Amazon

Next up is the third book in the Nathan Cody series written by David Jackson Don’t Make a Sound, also to be published on 3 May 2018.

Blurb

You can’t choose your family. Or can you?

Meet the Bensons. They’re an ordinary couple. They wash their car, mow their lawn and pass the time of day with their neighbours. And they have a beautiful little girl called Daisy.

There’s just one problem.

SHE’S NOT THEIRS.

D. S. Nathan Cody is about to face his darkest and most terrifying case yet . . .Amazon

So what do you think? Have you read any of these? Would you like to?

Posted in Weekly Posts

Weekly Wrap Up (March 25)

I’m pleased to report I’ve had a lovely week off work which started with a visit to what turned out to be a snowy Gloucester to see my friend for the weekend. Due to the snow we took a snow day where we cooked and I taught her how to knit – we really know how to party! Don’t worry though, we did manage a couple of lovely meals and a few gins to help stave off the cold. I returned to Jersey with my brother so all round a great week catching up on all the news and eating and drinking way too much.

This Week on the Blog

My week belatedly started with my review of Last Letter Home by Rachel Hore, a historical dual time-line story featuring a German man in England at the time of World War II.

This Week in Books featured the authors Edmund Crispin, A.J. Pearce and Louise Candlish.

Next I reviewed The Family Next Door by Sally Hepworth which was published on 22 March 2018. This book was set on a close of houses in Melbourne, and looked at the secrets each household was concealing, some were bigger than others.

I love a good ‘sliding doors’ type story which was exactly what And the Birds Kept on Singing by Simon Bourke delivered. The tale of an adoption, or not. This powerful debut novel which was set in the 1980s illustrating the different lives that Seán and/or Jonathan grew up in.

My final review of the week was my non-fiction read for March; Common People by Alison Light is a wide-ranging look at the lives, jobs and neighbourhoods that her family lived in based on the historical and family history research she carried out. A fascinating read.

 

This Time Last Year…

I was reading A is for Arsenic: The Poisons of Agatha Christie by Kathryn Harkup, a non-fiction read of the highest standard. Kathryn Harkup looks at the role poison played in Agatha Christie’s life during World War I when she worked in the dispensary in her local Torquay hospital and her training to become as an apothecary’s assistant. No wonder then that she put that knowledge to such good use in many of her crime fiction. Each poison’s appearance is explained along with the symptoms any victim can expect which shows us just how much the Queen of Crime spared her readers in her books. Where there is a link to a famous case, this is also included with details of the crime, how it was discovered and the verdict if applicable. If all that wasn’t enough at the back there is a handy table listing Agatha Christie’s books and the murder method. An absolute gem of a book for lovers of poison and Agatha Christie.

You can read my full review here or click on the book cover

Fourteen novels. Fourteen poisons. Just because it’s fiction doesn’t mean it’s all made-up …

Blurb

Agatha Christie revelled in the use of poison to kill off unfortunate victims in her books; indeed, she employed it more than any other murder method, with the poison itself often being a central part of the novel. Her choice of deadly substances was far from random – the characteristics of each often provide vital clues to the discovery of the murderer. With gunshots or stabbings the cause of death is obvious, but this is not the case with poisons. How is it that some compounds prove so deadly, and in such tiny amounts?

Christie’s extensive chemical knowledge provides the backdrop for A is for Arsenic, in which Kathryn Harkup investigates the poisons used by the murderer in fourteen classic Agatha Christie mysteries. It looks at why certain chemicals kill, how they interact with the body, the cases that may have inspired Christie, and the feasibility of obtaining, administering and detecting these poisons, both at the time the novel was written and today. A is for Arsenic is a celebration of the use of science by the undisputed Queen of Crime. Amazon

Stacking the Shelves

I have had some great new books from NetGalley since my last post…

The Story Keeper by Anna Mazzola chosen because I loved her book The Unseeing a historical crime book. The Story Keeper will be published on 26 July 2018.

Blurb

Audrey Hart is on the Isle of Skye to collect the word-of-mouth folk tales of the people and communities around her. It is 1857, the Highland Clearances have left devastation and poverty, and the crofters are suspicious and hostile, claiming they no longer know their stories.

Then Audrey discovers the body of a young girl washed up on the beach and the crofters tell her that it is only a matter of weeks since another girl has disappeared. They believe the girls are the victims of the spirits of the unforgiven dead. Initially, Audrey is sure the girls are being abducted, but then she is reminded of her own mother, a Skye woman who disappeared in mysterious circumstances.

It seems there is a link to be explored, and Audrey may uncover just what her family have been hiding from her all these years. NetGalley

I was also lucky enough to be approved for the next book in David Jackson‘s D.S. Nathan Cody series, Don’t Make a Sound. Since I voted the first in this series, A Tapping At My Door one of my top ten reads for 2016 and thoroughly enjoying Hope to Die which was published last year, this is one I’m keen to read before it is published on 3 May 2018.

Blurb


You can’t choose your family. Or can you?

Meet the Bensons. They’re an ordinary couple. They wash their car, mow their lawn and pass the time of day with their neighbours. And they have a beautiful little girl called Daisy.

There’s just one problem.

SHE’S NOT THEIRS.

D. S. Nathan Cody is about to face his darkest and most terrifying case yet . . . NetGalley

My last book that I’m sharing this week also comes from a crime fiction series – I keep saying I ought to cut down on the ones I follow but they are just so good! Isabelle Grey is publishing the fourth in her crime fiction series featuring DI Grace Fisher on 17 May 2018 with Wrong Way Home.

Blurb

A cold case leads DI Grace Fisher on the hunt for the most dangerous killer of her career – but after twenty-five years, can she really be sure she will get to the truth?

The same night a local hero saved two people from the burning Marineland resort in Southend, a young woman was raped and murdered minutes from the scene of the fire, the culmination of a series of brutal rapes in the town. The killer was never found.

Twenty-five years on, new DNA techniques have blown the cold case open. DI Grace Fisher relishes the prospect of finally catching the culprit, but when the evidence doesn’t point to one clear suspect, she must reconstruct the original investigation. Any suggestion that the Essex force was less than thorough at the time could alienate her colleagues and destroy her chances of reaching the truth.

Grace finds her investigation shadowed by a young true-crime podcaster backed by veteran crime reporter Ivo Sweatman. As pressure mounts she cannot afford to be distracted. She knows that a cold-blooded killer is slowly being backed into a corner, and a cornered predator is often the most dangerous of all… NetGalley

If you want to catch up on this series they before this one is published here’s the list in order…

Good Girls Don’t Die
Shot Through the Heart
The Special Girls

What have you found to read this week?

tbr-watch

Since my last post I have read 5 books and since I have gained a few so my TBR has stayed the same and the total is therefore 187
Physical Books – 110
Kindle Books – 54
NetGalley Books –23

I have banked two thirds of a book token this week so technically 3 1/3 books in credit but… well I’ve had to use the special 15% discount voucher that World of Books provided to me and my readers – if you haven’t used the code yet, make sure you do so before it expires on 31 March 2018! But as the books haven’t arrived yet…

Posted in Book Review, Books I have read

Hope to Die – David Jackson

Crime Fiction
4*s

So DS Nathan Cody has his second outing in his native Liverpool and this time he starts without his partner DC Megan Webley who is still recovering from a serious injury but fear not she soon returns. The murder Nathan Cody is investigating is a particularly gruesome one and one that has no obvious motive. Mary Cowper is a church going teacher who was killed while walking her dog by the Anglian Cathedral. No matter where they look they can’t see why anyone would want this woman dead, she’s as inoffensive as they come.

Meanwhile we learn all about the childhood of a young boy, a grim upbringing policed by a strict mother and God. I have to admit I’m always a little suspicious of excerpts from seemingly unrelated voices within crime fiction but David Jackson has his narrative spot on in this instance. It is fairly obvious that this is our killer but I couldn’t fit the childhood voice to any of the characters we were meeting, and nor could I separate the sad stories from the narrator which tell of a deeply anguished childhood, with the revulsion I felt over the killings of the women.

Hope to Die doesn’t just concentrate on the investigation which needless to say is soon expanded as another woman is found dead, we also get to understand a little more about Nathan Cody’s demons which haunted him in A Tapping at My Door and continue in this episode. When Megan Webley returns to work we also have the gaps between the two books filled in, with Megan understandably confused by Cody’s absence during her recovery but she’s the better person and extends the olive branch. The fact that the pair had a romantic liaison some time before Cody joined the team only serves the tension to crackle at times both at home and at work.

We have a new female addition to the team the data analyst, Grace, who is keen to show what she’s made of after a life-time of being ignored by her peers and I was pleased that DCI Blunt the no-nonsense, yet capable of compassion, a woman who is almost motherly in her dealings with Cody, is still in charge. All this gives not only a good ratio of both male and female police staff but a wide range of characters to give a good depth to the investigation.

The pace is fairly fast particularly with the switches between the odd things that are happening to Cody away from the investigation and the information that is leaking out about the suspects, even if none of them appear to have a motive, there are lies and half-truths to be uncovered. You don’t want to start this book just before bed-time that’s for sure because not only will you be unable to relinquish your hold on the book as one more chapter turns into two, three and onwards, but because David Jackson creates a world which feels particularly unsafe for the unassuming and then throws some particularly weird activities into the mix… like clowns!

With tension aplenty, some relationship issues and an ending which will have you longing for the next book, this is not to be missed although I strongly suggest you read the first book in the series to get the most from the story arc. Hope to Die will be published on 6 April 2017 by Bonnier Zaffre who were kind enough to provide me with an advance review copy. This unbiased review is my thanks to them and the talented David Jackson.

First Published UK: 6 April 2017
Publisher: Bonnier Zaffre
No of Pages:  416
Genre: Crime Fiction – Series
Amazon UK
Amazon US

Posted in Weekly Posts

This Week in Books (March 29)

This Week In Books
Hosted by Lipsyy 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 had my brother visiting over the last week and therefore haven’t read a great deal although I did get to finally watch Heavenly Creatures which was excellent. I apologise for my lack of comments and the delay in responding to some emails etc. So onto the books!

I’m currently reading Hope to Die by David Jackson, the second in the Nathan Cody series set in Liverpool – see the wonderful post created for Put A Book On The Map by David Jackson and Karen from Go Buy The Book



Blurb

When the victim seems perfect, is it the perfect crime? The gripping new serial killer thriller, from the runaway bestselling author of CRY BABY.
On a bitterly cold winter’s night, Liverpool is left stunned by a brutal murder in the grounds of the city’s Anglican Cathedral. A killer is on the loose, driven by a chilling rage.
Put on the case, DS Nathan Cody is quickly stumped. Wherever he digs, the victim seems to be almost angelic – no-one has a bad word to say, let alone a motive for such a violent murder.
And Cody has other things on his mind too. The ghosts of his past are coming ever closer, and – still bearing the physical and mental scars – it’s all he can do to hold onto his sanity. And then the killer strikes again . . . NetGalley

The last book I finished was The Housekeeper by Suellen Dainty. I wasn’t quite sure what to expect but soon became hooked – my review will be up on Friday!


Blurb

“I am the housekeeper, the hired help with a messy past who cleans up other people’s messy lives, the one who protects their messy little secrets.”
When Anne Morgan’s successful boyfriend—who also happens to be her boss—leaves her for another woman, Anne finds herself in desperate need of a new job and a quiet place to recover. Meanwhile, her celebrity idol, Emma Helmsley (England’s answer to Martha Stewart), is in need of a housekeeper, an opportunity which seems too good to be true.

Through her books, website, and blog, Emma Helmsley advises her devoted followers on how to live a balanced life in a hectic world. Her husband, Rob, is a high profile academic, and her children, Jake and Lily, are well-adjusted teenagers. On the surface, they are the perfect family. But Anne soon finds herself intimately ensconced in the Helmsley’s dirty laundry, both literally and figuratively. Underneath the dust, grime, and whimsical clutter, everyone has a secret to hide and Anne’s own disturbing past threatens to unhinge everything.

For fans of Notes on a Scandal and The Woman Upstairs, The Housekeeper is a nuanced and psychological drama about the dark recesses of the human mind and the dangerous consequences of long-buried secrets.

Next is a book which will be featured soon on Put A Book On The Map; A Time For Silence by Thorne Moore


Blurb

When Sarah, struggling to get over tragedy, stumbles across her grandparents’ ruined farm, it feels as if the house has been waiting for her. She is drawn to their apparently idyllic way of life and starts to look into her family history only to learn that her grandfather, Jack, was murdered. Why has nobody told her? Sarah becomes obsessed with finding out what happened to Gwen and Jack. But are there some family stories that should never be told… Amazon!

I need your help

Now Put A Book On The Map has been launched, and has garnered so much interest I’m wondering if you live or are familiar with an area where a book is set?

If so, would you  like to write a few words and perhaps provide some photos? Please get in touch with me cleopatralovesbooks70@gmail.com

Topping the list is a shout-out for a blogger from Nottingham, or who knows the area, to feature fellow blogger Rebecca Bradley’s Hannah Robbins books.

 

Posted in Weekly Posts

Weekly Wrap Up (March 5)

Weekly Wrap Up

Well we’ve now said goodbye to the worst two months of the year and spring will soon be here – in fact walking in Jersey today the roadsides were full of daffodils so maybe it has arrived!

jersey-in-the-spring

This Week on the Blog

Well it’s been a jam-packed week here on Cleopatra Loves Books, just the way we like it! The week started with my posting my review of The Chalk Pit by Elly Griffiths as part of the blog tour to celebrate the publication of this, the ninth book in the Dr Ruth Galloway series.

My excerpt post this week came from Boundary by Andrée A. Michaud which I will be reading soon.

This Week in Books had titles from Sarah Hilary, Caroline Lea and Gillian McAllister proving that my March reading has started strongly.

Next I reviewed Caroline Lea’s book, When the Sky Fell Apart, a book about the Occupation of Jersey during the Second World War, a story told through the eyes of a few of the inhabitants adding a richness to the back story.

On Friday I posted my review for The Long Drop by Denise Mina which is one of the best inspired by a true crime book that I have ever read – the details of life in Glasgow in the late 50s share a set with the serial killer, Peter Manuel who recently was the subject of the TV drama In Plain Sight.

It was the turn of David Jackson’s book A Tapping At My Door to be featured on Put A Book on the Map post yesterday so we took a trip to Liverpool with the help of Karen from Go Buy The Book and her wonderful pictures of key parts of the book.

This Time Last Year…

I was reading In Bitter Chill by Sarah Ward a book set in a fictional town in Derbyshire. I loved all the aspects to this crime fiction novel but particularly that some was set in the past, in 1978 and those events have a consequence in the present day story. Although the story rattles along it is made up of many cunning layers which meant it easily earned the full five stars from me.

You can read my full review here, or click on the book cover

In Bitter Chill

Blurb

Bampton, Derbyshire, January 1978. Two girls go missing: Rachel Jones returns, Sophie Jenkins is never found. Thirty years later: Sophie Jenkins’s mother commits suicide.
Rachel Jones has tried to put the past behind her and move on with her life. But news of the suicide re-opens old wounds and Rachel realises that the only way she can have a future is to finally discover what really happened all those years ago.
This is a story about loss and family secrets, and how often the very darkest secrets are those that are closest to you. Amazon

Stacking the Shelves

Only two additions this week both from NetGalley, the first being the second in the Nathan Cody series by David Jackson; Hope to Die – perfect timing as the first featured on yesterday’s Put A Book On The Map post! If you can’t tell I’m extremely excited about this one which will be published on 6 April 2017.

hope-to-die

Blurb

When the victim seems perfect, is it the perfect crime?
On a bitterly cold winter’s night, Liverpool is left stunned by a brutal murder in the grounds of the city’s Anglican Cathedral. A killer is on the loose, driven by a chilling rage.

Put on the case, DS Nathan Cody is quickly stumped. Wherever he digs, the victim seems to be almost angelic – no-one has a bad word to say, let alone a motive for such a violent murder.

And Cody has other things on his mind too. The ghosts of his past are coming ever closer, and – still bearing the physical and mental scars – it’s all he can do to hold onto his sanity. And then the killer strikes again . . . NetGalley

I also have a copy of The Vanishing of Audrey Wilde by Eve Chase which will be published on 13 July 2017.

the-vanishing-of-audrey-wilde

Blurb

Nineteen fifty-nine. The four Wilde sisters, Isla, Violet, Maggie and Dot, are spending the summer in the Cotswolds, at Applecote Manor. Affectionately called the Wildlings, the sisters are exceptionally close, yet this year there’s a sense of nostalgia. Things are changing.

Except for Applecote itself, a house that seems frozen in time. The sisters haven’t been there in five years; not since their cousin Audrey mysteriously vanished.

But as they discover Applecote’s dark secrets and new temptations, the sisters begin to grow apart. Until the night everything spirals out of control and the Wildlings form a bond far thicker than blood… NetGalley

tbr-watch

Since my last post I’ve read 3 books and gained just 2 so the grand total is 188
Physical Books – 110
Kindle Books – 65
NetGalley Books – 13

Posted in Put A Book On The Map

Put A Book On The Map #BookOnTheMap #Liverpool

dj-book-on-the-map

Today The Book on the Map is in Liverpool, a book that once you’ve read it, you will realise couldn’t possibly be set anywhere else. A Tapping at my Door not only has the perfect setting it also made my top ten list of books published in 2016 and so I was particularly thrilled when David Jackson and Karen from Go Buy The Book were both keen to put this particular book on the map!

liver-bird-single

Right first to the location: Liverpool is in the North West of England and was a key port city giving rise to the kind of diverse population that springs up when ships are docking or leaving on a regular basis with some of the oldest immigrant communities in the whole of the UK. In more modern times Liverpool was of course the home of the Beatles.

 

I have only visited Liverpool once and I have to admit the biggest thrill was to see the iconic Liver Birds atop The Royal Liver Building. These really are far more impressive in real life than the pictures. But before that, many moons ago, when I first left home, I shared a house with a ‘bunch of Scousers,’ in other words they were all from Liverpool. I have incredibly fond memories of those days but the very early ones were spent with me either trying to get them to repeat what they said, or smiling inanely; The Liverpool accent takes some getting used to. Fortunately I had regular practice when we settled down together to watch the omnibus edition of Brookside on a Saturday afternoon.

Well enough of the trips down memory lane, back to the book!

A Tapping at my Door

A Tapping at My Door

david-jackson
David Jackson

A Tapping at my Door is the first of my new crime thriller series set in Liverpool. Before that, I had written four novels in a different series set in a completely different part of the world – New York, in fact. The first book in that series (Pariah) was Highly Commended in the Crime Writers Association Debut Dagger Awards, while the most recent (Cry Baby) was an Amazon top 10 bestseller and listed as one of Amazon’s Best Books of the Year. So why, you might ask, did I decide to embark on a new series?

One reason is that I was on the lookout for a new publisher, and publishers generally want something fresh, particularly if the existing books in a series are owned elsewhere. Another reason is that I felt I was missing out on local support for my books. Setting my novels here in the UK would, I reasoned, increase my chances of getting that important backing from shops and supermarkets in the area. Finally, I needed somewhere that would be easy to get to in order to carry out my research, and possessing enough interesting features to make it stand out as much as the characters in my books.

With all that in mind, Liverpool was the natural choice of location. I was born and raised there, and although I now live on the other side of the Mersey, I still travel in to Liverpool every day for my work as an academic.
As far as I am concerned, Liverpool has everything a novelist needs as a setting: the distinctive waterfront, with its Liver Buildings and Albert Dock; the Liverpool One shopping area; the Georgian Quarter, filled with more Georgian buildings than any other city outside London; the two cathedrals and two premier league football teams; the slavery museum; the Tate; the Beatles connection …

Of course, Liverpool has its darker, tougher side. There are areas of poverty and deprivation here to rival those of any other major UK city. There is also crime, without which I’d be short of material. But balanced against this is the one thing about the city that I don’t think is matched anywhere else: the humour and warm-heartedness of its people. That, above all, is what makes me want to write about Liverpool.

 

Karen from Go Buy The Book is well qualified to discuss this book as her favourite types of reading is crime fiction and she lives in Liverpool so I’ll hand over to her and her wonderful photos of actual places in this book. You can read her review of the book here

The setting of a book can be just as crucial as the characters and the plot. In the case of A Tapping at my Door by David Jackson, the use of Liverpool is so pivotal to the plot that it couldn’t really be set anywhere else.

 

waterstones-botm-dj
The former Waterstones where Cody was busking

Although the first location we encounter is Stoneycroft, the scene of a particularly gruesome murder, it is the second chapter where the city of Liverpool is really introduced. DS Nathan Cody is busking on Bold Street, a cosmopolitan area in the city centre, in front of the former Waterstones book shop, when he embarks on a high octane, if comical, chase through the city centre.

clayton-square-botm-dj
Clayton Square shopping centre where Cody’s guitar got stuck in the automatic doors!

Being from Liverpool, I found the description of the places he passes to be so well-written that I actually envisaged myself running through Central Station, over Ranelagh Street into Clayton Square and up the steps leading towards Lime Street.

 

 

 The steps leading towards Lime Street Station where Cody caught the flasher.

The steps leading towards Lime Street Station where Cody caught the flasher.

 

 

 

 

A member of the Major Incident Team, Cody works out of Stanley Road station. Situated in Kirkdale, in the north of the city, an area that has witnessed more than its fair share of crime, this is a complete contrast to where he lives in Rodney Street in the heart of the city centre. Known as the ‘Harley Street of the North’, Rodney Street is the home to doctors and dentists as well as many private residents. It is perhaps most well known for being, in 1809, the birthplace of William Ewart Gladstone, the Prime Minister of the United Kingdom. In recent years, it has become a mecca for many television production crews with the likes of Foyle’s War and Peaky Blinders being filmed there.

 

Sheil Street
Sheil Street

 

Heading away from the city centre, the murderer strikes again in Sheil Road, near to Kensington, one of the busiest roads in the city.

 

This road is not a stranger to crime with numerous cases of anti-social behaviour and violence being reported over the past few years. Despite this, Sheil Road also contains one of the entrances to the 121 acre Newsham Park, opened in 1868.

 

One of the most iconic images of Liverpool – the Royal Liver Building – plays a vital role in the story. Construction of this building began in 1907 with the building opening a few years later in 1911. This Grade I listed building overlooks the River Mersey and stands at an impressive 90m tall. The building is probably most known for the two Liver Birds adorning each tower. Legend has it that while one looks out to sea, the other looks over the city, protecting its people. They must have been turning a blind eye as the killer struck!

 

liver-bird-building-liverpool

Book Reviews from around the Blogosphere
A Tapping at my Door

Rebecca Bradley

Bibliophile Book Club

damppebbles

Cleopatra Loves Books

There are so many brilliant reviews of A Tapping at my Door out there, if you have one why not share the link on twitter today to help put this book on the map!

the-booktrail-logo

Now don’t forget to hop over to see Susan The Book Trail to see the details of the book setting on her wonderful map.

I’d like to say a huge thank you to Karen and David for this wonderful post bringing to life this brilliant crime thriller set in Liverpool which starts with an excerpt from The Raven by Edgar Allan Poe

ONCE upon a midnight dreary, while I pondered, weak and weary,
Over many a quaint and curious volume of forgotten lore,—
While I nodded, nearly napping, suddenly there came a tapping,
As of some one gently rapping, rapping at my chamber door.

All books featured in this #BookOnTheMap project will get a place on the Master Page listing crime fiction by their destination with links to the wonderful collaboration between authors and bloggers.

Please email me at cleopatralovesbooks70@gmail.com if you would like to participate in this feature.

Posted in Uncategorized

Cleopatra’s Top 10 Books Published in 2016

top-ten-2016-v-2

Once again I have awarded a whole array of books the magic 5 stars which means whittling this down to a mere ten quite a task indeed, one that I have been pondering since the start of December in fact… so without further ado here are the ten books published in 2016 that I consider to have been truly outstanding and memorable reads.

The books have been listed in no particular order and you can read my full review by clicking on the book covers.

 

A Tapping at my DoorA Tapping At My Door by David Jackson
First up is a book which started with Edgar Allan Poe’s spooky poem The Raven to reveal not only a depth of characterisation but a real sense of the Liverpool setting. This is  a new series, featuring DS Nathan Cody, a detective with a troubled background and a Cop Killer on the loose.  I’m a fan of a good police procedural anyway but this was a deeper exploration than many in this genre. These characteristics may have been the icing on the cake of a fabulous plot which had me gripped throughout.

 

The Ballroom

The Ballroom by Anna Hope
Focusing on three characters who are residents of Sharston Asylum in 1911, The Ballroom was an exceptionally well researched look at life in an asylum as the treatment of those afflicted by mental illness was developing fast. What was far more shocking was the ‘crimes’ committed that may have had you detained at this time. I particularly love books that manage to inform at the same time as entertaining, the main story was never lost throughout the extraordinary amount of detail. In a personal twist Anna Hope dedicated this book to her Gt Gt Grandfather who was admitted to Menston Asylum (the inspiration for this book) in 1909.

 

The Apprentice of Split Crow LaneThe Apprentice of Split Crow Lane: The Story of the Carr’s Hill Murder by Jane Housham
This non-fiction examination of a Victorian crime is among the best I’ve read and also looks at life in an asylum at a slightly earlier time period of 1866. The crime examined is a shocking one, not least because it involves a child and the motive had me stunned. Jane Housham delivers her research in an engaging manner with care taken to look at the characters involved, both victim and accused and their families as well as recreating the setting to enable the reader to have a sometimes all too clear picture of what happened on Carr’s Hill in Gateshead one awful day.

 

house-of-birds The House of Birds by Morgan McCarthy
So I move onto my choice for historical fiction and it is a while since I’ve read such a well-constructed dual time-line novel. With both parts, the modern time featuring Oliver and Kate, and the past in 1920s Oxford featuring the downtrodden wife Sophia and her love of books, The House of Birds had me gripped in both halves. Whilst the narrative isn’t fast-moving, the language is beautiful and the tale told had me running the gamut of emotions because of the fantastically drawn characters. This was one of those books that I lost myself in for the duration, and beyond.

 

The Swimming Pool The Swimming Pool by Louise Candlish
A newly renovated swimming pool is the setting of this latest psychological thriller by Louise Candlish and one which examines female friendship. I really enjoy books that are set over a relatively short period of time, particularly when the characters lives are altered forever by some event, and here in the space of a single summer Natalie’s life is changed by meeting the glamorous Lara. My original review states the dénouement is brutal, it is but brilliantly so!

 

Out of Bounds Out of Bounds by Val McDermid
Val McDermid has used one of my favourite devices in this, the fourth in the DCI Karen Pirie series set in her native Scotland. When a cold case of twenty years is has a breakthrough due to the death of a teenage joyrider, Karen Pirie is determined to find the truth. A brilliant paring with a somewhat dim second in command served well both to provide lighter moments and inform the reader without a hint of patronisation. Reading Out of Bounds  I was reminded of the many shades that this brilliant author injects into her books, whilst delivering a fantastic story.

 

Daisy in Chains Daisy in Chains by Sharon Bolton
Moving swiftly from one reliably brilliant author to another… Sharon Bolton has truly excelled herself in this standalone novel. Told in a linear fashion, no needs for fancy bells and whistles for this book, we meet Hamish Wolfe imprisoned for the murder of three women at HMP in the Isle of Wight. His mother is campaigning for his freedom and enlists true crime writer Maggie Rose. This is a crime novel that goes beyond simple innocence or guilt and justifiably made for compulsive reading. There are characters in Daisy in Chains which I will never forget!

 

The Museum of You The Museum of You by Carys Bray
In a rapid shift away from the darkness, The Museum of You relays the summer Clover Quinn decides to turn her mother’s former bedroom into a display about her life. Clover has never known her mother and the project helps the awkward pre-teen fill her first unsupervised summer. This book had just the right mix of pathos and humour, one of the best depictions of this age group. I fell in love with Clover and the earnest way she builds her display, knowing that she is likely to find some difficult truths along the way. It is a very rare book indeed that makes me shed real tears – this book was one of them!

 

In Her WakeIn Her Wake by Amanda Jennings
I’ve seen In Her Wake featured on many of the top ten book lists doing the rounds this month, and having absolutely been blown away by this original tale, I had to add it to mine too. This wonderful book follows Bella who finds following the death of her parents that her entire life is founded on a lie and decides to discover the truth. Filled with wonderful characters, an enticing premise and beautiful language the story takes in myths and evocative settings resulting in a haunting tale which was delightful to read.

 

Lying in wait Lying in Wait by Liz Nugent
With so much to admire about Lying in Wait from the first killer line ‘My husband did not mean to kill Annie Doyle, but the lying tramp deserved it.’ to the clever structure whereby we learn all about Lydia and Andrew Fitzsimons through Lydia’s own words, those of her son Laurence and Annie Doyle’s older sister Karen who take it in turns to narrate this novel. Set in 1980s Ireland this book also gave me moments of nostalgia without ever dragging me away from the captivating story. This is a book that should be gone into knowing as little as possible, that way you will get the full benefit of this author’s skilful and surprising plotting.

So what do you think? Have you read any of these titles or do you want to?

I’d like to take a moment to thank all of you who have visited me here on my little corner of the internet, as well of course as the authors and publishers who have provided me with so many great books to read throughout the year. I look forward to discovering new places, people and dark plots in 2017 and do hope you will all join me on my journey.

Happy New Year to one and all!

Posted in Uncategorized

Reading Bingo 2016

reading-bingo-small

This is one of my favourite posts of the year so there was no question of me repeating this following my relative success in filling in the squares in both 2014 and 2015

I purposely don’t treat this like a challenge by finding books to fit the squares throughout the year, oh no! I prefer to see which of my (mostly) favourite books will fit from the set I’ve read.  As you can imagine this becomes a bit like one of those moving puzzles where one book is suitable for a number of squares… and then I’m left with empty squares which I have to trawl through the 136 books I’ve read and reviewed to see if any book at all will fit! This keeps me amused for many, many hours so I do hope you all enjoy the result.

Click on the book covers to read my reviews

A Book With More Than 500 Pages

Small Great Things

Small Great Things by Jodi Picoult clocks in at 512 pages covering the injustice of a Ruth Jefferson, the only African-American nurse on duty when a baby gets into difficulty. With the parents white supremacists who want to blame someone Ruth is charged with murder. Not a comfortable read and I applaud the author for wanting to address racism and using an absorbing tale to do so.

A Forgotten Classic

Harriet Said

I came late to Beryl Bainbridge so I’m going to count this as a modern classic. I’ve read three of this author’s books so far, my favourite being Harriet Said. The story is based upon a murder case involving two teenaged girls in New Zealand, a case that was also the inspiration for the film Heavenly Creatures. The author creates two young teenage girls using them to reveal the push and pull of their relationship which is ultimately their undoing.

A Book That Became a Movie

Testament of Youth

Testament of Youth by Vera Brittain has lots to recommend it although I admit some of the politics towards the end, went over my head, but the tale of a young woman nursing through World War I, having put her hard one academic ambitions on hold, was incredibly poignant. With the inevitable loss of friends and family her grief for herself and her generation is palpable The film was released in 2014 to great acclaim.

A Book Published This Year

The Ballroom

As a book reviewer I have read lots of books published this year but decided to feature one from my historical fiction selection. The Ballroom by Anna Hope tells the tale of life in an asylum in West Riding, the year being 1911. With a mixture of men and women housed in the asylum the author not only writes us a great story, but has accurately researched what life was like from the perspective of inmates and attendants.

A Book With A Number In The Title

The One in a Million Boy

I give you not one but two numbers in this title: The One in a Million Boy by Monica Wood is a book I denoted  ‘quirky’ but I’m so glad I read it. The story concerns the relationship between Ona Vitkus, a Lithuanian immigrant who has lived in the US since she was just four, and a boy Scout with a passion for the Guinness World Records. Touching without ever being overly sentimental this is one that will linger in my mind for quite some time.

A Book Written by Someone Under Thirty

Fiver Rivers Met on a Wooded Plain

Five Rivers Met On A Wooded Plain was written by Barney Norris who was born in 1987. This book not only touches on the history of Salisbury but weaves stories of five fictional characters in a literary, but oh so readable way. An accomplished novel that doesn’t let an obvious love of language interfere with a great story.

A Book With Non Human Characters

Little Stranger

Well I’m giving you double for your money with this book, not only is there a ghost in The Little Stanger by the fabulous Sarah Waters, there is also a Labrador that plays a key role in the subsequent downfall of the Ayres family. This spooky story is narrated by a country doctor in 1940’s Warwickshire and has plenty of other themes to enjoy even if you, like me, are not a fan of ghostly goings-on.

A Funny Book

A Man With One of those Faces

A Man With One Of Those Faces is a crime fiction novel written by stand-up comedian Caimh McDonnell. I know crime mixed with humour doesn’t sound as if it should work, but it does! A Man With One of Those Faces is full of observational humour with some truly entertaining characters without sacrificing a great plot with a whole heap of action to keep you on the edge of your seat.

A Book By A Female Author

My Husband's Wife

So many great books by so many fab women – in the end I chose My Husband’s Wife by Jane Corry which falls into one of my favourite genres, psychological thrillers of the domestic variety. This tale mixes past and present with a whole heap of flawed characters and is told by two separate narrators Lily and Carla and they reveal more and more about themselves, and those around them. An extremely tense read which was utterly satisfying.

A Book With A Mystery

Pictures of perfection.jxr

What better mystery can there be than that of a missing policeman on Dalziel’s patch? Pictures of Perfection is the fourteenth in the Dalziel & Pascoe series written by the outstandingly talented Reginald Hill and this book was an absolute delight to read. With a horrific opening scene, the book then switches to the more genteel setting of a country fair in 1980s rural Yorkshire. Fear not though this isn’t window dressing, the plot is superb with a proper mystery to be solved.

A Book With A One Word Title

Viral

Like last year I have read six books that have a single word as their title but I have chosen Viral by Helen Fitzgerald because of the very contemporary storyline. Viral examines what happens when a sex act carried out in Magaluf ends up online for all Su Oliphant-Brotheridge’s friends and family to see but despite that taster, this story didn’t go in the direction I expected it to.

 A Book of Short Stories

manipulated-lives

Manipulated Lives by H.A. Leuschel is a collection of five novellas all looking at manipulators and the effect on the lives of those they choose to manipulate. The author picked five different characters and settings to explore this theme and I have to admit, not being a huge fan of short stories, the common thread was far more appealing to me than some other collections.

 Free Square

Lying in wait

For my free square this year I have decided to go with the book with the best opening sentence; Lying in Wait by Liz Nugent:
My husband did not mean to kill Annie Doyle, but the lying tramp deserved it.’
With the rest of this book more than living up to the first line there was so much to love not only does the author keep the tension stretched as taut as could be, despite that opening revelation we have a wonderful Irish setting as background.

A Book Set On A Different Continent

The Woman on the Orient Express

The Woman on the Orient Express by Lindsay Jayne Ashford is a novel that ends up in Baghdad recreating a trip to an archaeology dig that Agatha Christie made following the divorce from her first husband. This wasn’t so much of a mystery rather a historical novel using Agatha Christie herself as the centre of the story of three woman all making this trip for very different reasons. An unusual and rewarding read with an exotic setting along with a fantastic mode of transport.

A Book of Non-Fiction

Did She Kill Him

I have read some brilliant non-fiction books, mostly about murders, and a fair proportion about poisoners, my interest (or obsession) of the year, so I am going with Did She Kill Him? by Kate Colquhoun. Florence Maybrick is the subject of this book, a middle-class woman living in Liverpool in 1889 when she stood trial for the murder, by arsenic, of her husband. While the majority of the book is relatively sympathetic to Florence, the author cleverly takes apart the arguments in the last section leaving the reader to make up their own mind if she was guilty or not.

The First Book By A Favourite Author

In Bitter Chill

I enjoyed In Bitter Chill by Sarah Ward so much earlier in the year that I had to buy the second in the series, A Deadly Thaw. The setting in Bampton Derbyshire was stunning which made the awful tale of the disappearance of two girls back in 1978 all the more shocking, especially as only one of those girls returned home. Rachel Jones went  home but now an adult a suicide prompts her to find out what really happened all those years ago.

A Book I Heard About Online

The Versions of Us

Since blogging I find most of my new author finds on-line and to be honest, it is fairly easy to persuade me I must read crime fiction or psychological thrillers, I’m more resistant to other genres. But all the rave reviews about The Versions of Us by Laura Bennett, a sliding-doors novel had me intrigued – and what a great find this was. The incident that kicks off the three different lives in The Versions of Us is a student falling off her bike whilst studying at Cambridge University in October 1958 and the three tales that follow are all equally brilliant. This was an absorbing read especially taking into consideration the complicated structure.

A Best Selling Book

Love You Dead

Peter James’ Roy Grace series consistently makes the best seller list, and also happens to be my favourite police procedural series so it is only right and fitting that Love You Dead is featured for this square. For those of you who also enjoy not only the mystery but also reading about Roy Grace (and his beautiful wife, Cleo), some key story arcs are cleared up in this, the twelfth book in the series. Mystery fans don’t need to worry either, the key plot is a good one featuring a pretty woman at its heart.

A Book Based Upon A True Story

Buriel Rites

Burial Rites by Hannah Kent turned out to be one of my favourite reads of the year! With the Icelandic landscape as a backdrop to Agnes Magnúsdóttir’s final months awaiting trial for the murder of two men, we see the family she had been sent to stay with learning to adjust to the stranger in their midst. Be warned if you haven’t read this book, it is devastating, I had grown to love Agnes and yet her fate was sealed and no amount of wishing can change the course of history.

A Book At the Bottom Of Your To Be Read Pile

The Mistake

The Mistake by Wendy James is a book inspired by a true event rather than based upon it and one that had been on my TBR for a couple of years.  In The Mistake we meet Jodi Garrow whose comfortable life as the wife of a lawyer unravels when a nurse in a small town hospital remembers her from years before when she gave birth to a little girl, there is no sign of that baby and Jodi does her best to cover up the truth but the media are determined to find the truth.

 A Book Your Friend Loves

blood-lines

I introduced a friend to the wonders of DI Kim Stone this year and she loved the series, in fact, despite not being a book blogger, she told me about the upcoming release of Blood Lines by Angela Marsons before I knew it was happening!  This series goes from strength to strength and her characterisation underpins a fantastic multi-stranded mystery as our protagonist tries to find the link between the stabbing of a compassionate, well-loved woman and a prostitute.

A Book That Scares You

A Tapping at my Door

I rarely get scared by a book but from the opening excerpt of The Raven by Edgar Allan Poe this book had me well and truly spooked by A Tapping At My Door by David Jackson. With opening scenes of a woman hearing a tapping sound, I was glad I wasn’t reading this on a dark night on my own. But this isn’t just a spooky police procedural, it is incredibly clever – I can’t tell you exactly how as that would spoil it but this was a book with a superb plot, probably one of the best I’ve read this year. That with a lively and interesting character in DS Nathan Cody, a Liverpool setting and more than a dash of humour, means it was an all-round great read.

A Book That Is More Than 10 Years Old

The Murder of Roger Ackroyd

I decided to pick the oldest book that I’ve read this year and this one was first published in 1926 so in fact 90 years old; The Murder of Roger Ackroyd is considered by many to be one of the best written by Agatha Christie and I have to say I thoroughly enjoyed this book narrated by a doctor and one of my very favourite detectives, Monsieur Poirot leading the search for the murderer of Roger Ackroyd, killed in his very own study if you please – oh and of course the door was locked!

The Second Book In A Series

the-kill-fee

I have a love of 1920s London and Fiona Veitch Smith’s creation Poppy Denby, journalist at The Daily Globe had her second outing in The Kill Fee, this year. The mystery had its roots in Russia and the revolution and Poppy romps her way around extricating herself from ever more tricky circumstances made for a delightful and informative read.

A Book With A Blue Cover

The Museum of You

I can’t let this square go without asking has anyone else noticed the increase in blue covers? The one I’ve chosen was my surprise hit of the year; The Museum of You by Carys Bray – a story about a twelve-year-old girl putting together an exhibition about her mother wouldn’t normally make it onto the TBR, let alone be loved so much… but the lack of overt sentimentality in this book along with an exceptional array of characters made it a firm favourite for 2016.

Well look at that, for the first time ever I have completed every square!

How about you? How much of the card could you fill in? Please share!

Posted in Book Review, Books I have read

Pariah – David Jackson

Crime Fiction 4*s
Crime Fiction
4*s

NYPD detective Callum Doyle is the star of this book set in, yes you guessed it New York! He’s in a bit of a pickle though as the other detectives are already worried about working with him following the death of his partner in the corner of a car park complete with a hooker… but it only gets worse.

This fast-paced thriller puts us in the shoes of a man who is forced to cut himself off from those closest to him when their lives appear to be in danger just by being associated with him. Unable to go to work and investigate the murder of his partner he decides to go it alone and try to track down the killer not an easy task when everyone he talks to is in danger. Who is watching Callum Doyle and what do they want from him?

With tension oozing off every page I read this with my heart in my mouth. How could the killer be found when those Callum turns to are either threatened or die a terrible death? This book is not for the faint-hearted, there is a fair amount of violence as the killer goes on the rampage, seemingly unstoppable. Fortunately Callum’s well-timed humour, just stopped this book from becoming too grim for words and he seems a genuine kind of guy although understandably confused by the situation he has found himself in. In many ways I think we learnt a lot about the man behind the badge as much from his interactions in his personal life, as those in what seems like a team with issues! I certainly don’t think this book would have worked so well without the many facets of the man’s character.
There are a wealth of other intriguing characters with as many great ones from the edges of society as well as his colleagues from the NYPD. As Callum becomes increasingly desperate he walks into lion’s dens of varying descriptions as he tracks pimps and heavies to try to find out who is behind the explosion of violence so close to home.

Although the plot itself isn’t complicated, and is told in a straightforward linear time-frame, it is well-structured and underpinned by some terrific action. If you like fast and furious then Pariah is probably a book you’d enjoy. The clues to the killer’s identity are released at a good rate although that didn’t have me any closer to guessing who was behind the mayhem until pages before the final reveal.

The writing style is confident, especially for a debut novel, and I was drawn into the storyline immediately and this is despite the fact that crime fiction involving gangsters isn’t high on my list of reading favourites. The interplay between the characters was pitch-perfect and didn’t rely on endless clichés, something that is tough to pull-off when there is danger around every corner as far as Callum is concerned.

This is also a book with a backstory, which doesn’t really fully come out in this book, so I’m going to have to keep reading the other books in the series to find out more! This really is a talented start to a new crime fiction series.

First Published UK: 20 August 2014
Publisher: CreateSpace Independent Publishing Platform
No of Pages: 304
Genre: Crime Fiction Series
Amazon UK
Amazon US