Posted in 5 Of the Best

Five of the Best (October 2014 to October 2018)


5 Star Reads

In 2015 to celebrate reviewing for five years I started a series entitled Five of the Best where I chose my favourite five star reads which I’d read in that month. I will be celebrating Five years of blogging later this year and so I decided it was time to repeat the series.

So without further ado let’s see what books October has brought to me over the last five years!

You can read my original review of the book featured by clicking on the book cover.

In October 2014 I started a new crime fiction series – on reflection this is the root of the huge TBR as I want to keep up with all the series and sample all the wonderful standalone books on offer. Anyway Isabelle Grey wowed me with the first in the series featuring Detective Sergeant Grace Fisher in Good Girls Don’t Die. Why? Well, this is an intricately plotted story which has a number of threads that held my attention from beginning to the end. As in any good detective novel the red herrings are carefully placed and far from obvious, the motive believable and above all populated by a great range of characters. Grace is an appealing protagonist and one who despite her unfortunate start in Essex is more normal than many who populate this genre.

I’m pleased to confirm that four books on this series hasn’t gone off the boil and if you have a kindle, the eBook version is just 99p at the time of writing this post.

Blurb

Sometimes the danger is too close to see. A dark and gripping crime thriller introducing DI Grace Fisher.

Accused of grassing up a fellow officer and driven brutally out of home and job, DI Grace Fisher is thankful to survive some dark times and find haven with the Major Investigation Team in Essex. Any hopes of a quiet start to her new life are dashed by the discovery of the body of a female student, last seen at a popular bar in Colchester. Grace has her first case.

When a second student, also out drinking, is murdered and left grotesquely posed, the case becomes headline news.

Someone is leaking disturbing details to a tabloid crime reporter. Is it the killer? Or a detective close to the case?

With another victim dead, and under siege by the media, the murder inquiry hits a dead end. The review team brought in to shake things up is headed by Grace’s old DCI. Who is going to listen to her now? Amazon

Life was tough in October 2015 I but I was taken away from it all thanks to The Shadow Year by Hannah Richell, a fabulous dual time-line novel featuring the relatively recent past of the 1980s for the actions which govern the consequences in the present.

With the crux of the story concentrating on five firm friends the interplay between them was an absorbing in itself. In short this is an incredibly evocative book which conjures up a place of hope for the idealistic graduates. Where better to try out a self-sufficient lifestyle, particularly when the summer seems to roll ahead forever and there is food to eat from the land, including fish from the lake. The present is equally compelling with the author accurately capturing the essence of the grief that Lila is suffering from, without it becoming so depressing I didn’t want to continue. That underpinned by great plotting what more can I say?

Blurb

1980. On a hot summer’s day five friends stumble upon an abandoned cottage hidden deep in the English countryside. Isolated and run-down, it offers a retreat, somewhere they can escape from the world. But as the seasons change, tensions begin to rise…

Three decades later, Lila arrives at the remote cottage. Bruised from a tragic accident and with her marriage in crisis, she finds renovating the tumbledown house gives her a renewed sense of purpose. But why did the cottage’s previous inhabitants leave their belongings behind? And why can’t she shake the feeling that someone is watching her? Amazon

In October 2016 I did something I rarely do, I read a book shortlisted for the Man Booker Prize of that year; His Bloody Project by Graeme Macrae Burnet recounts the story of the murders and the subsequent trial of his purported ancestor Roderick Macrae, a seventeen year old crofter.

The book is structured as if it were a work of non-fiction with the longest section given over to Roderick’s only statement, written at the behest of his advocate Mr Andrew Sinclair while he was awaiting trial at Inverness Castle, having been swiftly detained after the bodies had been found.

This is a book that had me captivated, and confused as I repeatedly reminded myself it was fiction, not fact. If you love historical crimes, this is a book not to be missed.

Blurb

The year is 1869. A brutal triple murder in a remote community in the Scottish Highlands leads to the arrest of a young man by the name of Roderick Macrae. A memoir written by the accused makes it clear that he is guilty, but it falls to the country’s finest legal and psychiatric minds to uncover what drove him to commit such merciless acts of violence. Was he mad? Only the persuasive powers of his advocate stand between Macrae and the gallows.

Graeme Macrae Burnet tells an irresistible and original story about the provisional nature of truth, even when the facts seem clear. His Bloody Project is a mesmerising literary thriller set in an unforgiving landscape where the exercise of power is arbitrary. Amazon

Last year I was reading the non-fiction book The Book of Forgotten Authors by Christopher Fowler in which he has collated ninety-nine authors who for one reason or another are no longer seen on the bookshelves of bookshops or libraries but somehow glimmer on our collective consciousness, and their works fluttered at the edges of many when he kicked this project off.

Unlike so many such lists that are produced this collector of these forgotten authors has brought together a set of authors from the Victorian times up to the more recent, the entire range of genres taking in slapstick comedy through Sci-Fi, poetry, literary fiction and crime. Obviously with so many authors each one gets a brief mention detailing the often prodigious output, why they were popular and why they may well have fallen out of favour as the years rolled on.

This really is the perfect present for any bibliophile.

Blurb

Absence doesn’t make the heart grow fonder. It makes people think you’re dead.

So begins Christopher Fowler’s foray into the back catalogues and backstories of 99 authors who, once hugely popular, have all but disappeared from our shelves.

Whether male or female, domestic or international, flash-in-the-pan or prolific, mega-seller or prize-winner – no author, it seems, can ever be fully immune from the fate of being forgotten. And Fowler, as well as remembering their careers, lifts the lid on their lives, and why they often stopped writing or disappeared from the public eye.

These 99 journeys are punctuated by 12 short essays about faded once-favourites: including the now-vanished novels Walt Disney brought to the screen, the contemporary rivals of Sherlock Holmes and Agatha Christie who did not stand the test of time, and the women who introduced us to psychological suspense many decades before it conquered the world.

This is a book about books and their authors. It is for book lovers, and is written by one who could not be a more enthusiastic, enlightening and entertaining guide. Amazon

As 2018 has been a year when I have tried to read a larger percentage of the books I already own it is only fitting that my favourite book for October this year has been A Jarful of Angels by Babs Horton. This is a book about a missing child, but one unlike any other you are likely to have read, which is why it gets my vote.

It’s a hard book to to categorise so I’ll describe it as a tale of childhood with all the grim realities of adults misunderstanding you the poverty of life driven to the edges by the magical world that only children can create and yet realism seeps through as an adult watches the world filtered through the eyes of children. This is not a twee look at childhood and nor is it a book populated by faux adults, this book is grim in parts but I think the most truthful reflection of the childhood I’ve ever read. That’s not to say there isn’t so much for an adult to wonder at, and about!

Blurb

The remote town in the Welsh valleys was a wonderful, magical- but sometimes dangerous place in which to grow up. It was there that Iffy, Bessie, Fatty and Billy experienced a plague of frogs one summer, stumbled upon a garden full of dancing statues, found a skull with its front teeth missing- and discovered just what it was that mad Carty Annie was collecting so secretly in those jars of hers. But at the end of that long, hot summer of 1963,one of the four children disappeared.

Over thirty years later, retired detective Will Sloane, never able to forget the unsolved case, returns to Wales to resume his search for the truth. His investigation will draw him into a number of interlocking mysteries,each one more puzzling than the last. Amazon

Five of the Best 2018

January 2018
February 2018
March 2018
April 2018
May 2018
June 2018
July 2018
August 2018
September 2018

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

Wrong Way Home – Isabelle Grey #BlogTour

Crime Fiction
5″s

I was absolutely delighted to be asked to take part in the blog tour celebrating publication of Wrong Way Home, thank you Anne Cater. I’ve long been a fan of this author and I rate this series amongst my favourite of the contemporary crime series.

In this, the fourth book in the DI Grace Fisher series, our likeable protagonist has a breakthrough using familial DNA to hunt for the man who raped and killed a girl twenty-five years ago.

Heather Bower was just nineteen years old when she visited Southend for a night out with her friends and on a night that should have been full of fun, she became separated from the group and was found dead in a park the following morning.

Freddie Craig is an aspiring journalist who has always felt a link to the fire on Southend Pier the same night that Heather died. The fire was started by two teenagers who dropped a cigarette in a boarded up building. Fortunately for them taxi driver Larry Nixon was on the scene and pulled the boys to safety so becoming something of a local hero. As the fire raged Freddie’s mother gave birth to him. Freddie is inspired by the death of Heather to make a series of podcasts about the murder and his links to my favourite fictional journalist, Ivo Sweatman. Ivo and Grace have a history of being mutually supportive but she is fully aware that this must not become common knowledge. The excerpts from Freddie’s podcasts veer from factual to wacky and then downright disturbing and made for an interesting perspective and an unusual one keeping the story bang up to date.

As the DNA profile links to a woman, Deborah Shillingford, who was arrested for drink driving, Grace now has her family members to investigate to the DNA left all those years before and she sets to work with her partner Sergeant Blake Langley. Grace and Blake have history which has caused a bit of an undercurrent but they are both professional as they interview Deborah and learn that she has two brothers and a father still alive. At the same time they have to inform Heather’s mother advising that this lead may not lead to an arrest but hopeful that the knowledge that they are still seeking justice for Heather will be of some comfort.

This is a multi-layered crime fiction novel of the highest standard. Isabelle Grey has plotted superbly, and so even though all the characters are fully rounded the story is undoubtedly led by a series of events in the present that threaten to derail the investigation. That’s not to say there is just action there are moments to pause and wonder at the bonds within a family as various tit-bits are revealed. The plot is held up by spot on timing; this is a book that gives the reader time to consider the evidence and stick a stake in the ground before it is blown away by a new piece of information.

Reading Wrong Way Home I remembered quite why I enjoy this series so much. DI Grace Fisher is my idea of the perfect protagonist, a determined woman and yet, she behaves like a woman and it is so refreshing to see a woman who can cry at a wedding and then walk away to review evidence before leading her team to find a killer, and she does it with style.

I’d like to thank the publishers Quercus for allowing me to read a copy of Wrong Way Home and to Anne Cater for the invite to the blog tour and those thanks extend to the author for such a brilliant, plausible novel that had me enthralled by all its twists and turns. As always this review is unbiased and freely given.

First Published UK: 17 May 2018
Publisher: Quercus
No of Pages: 384
Genre: Crime Fiction – Series
Amazon UK
Amazon US

ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Isabelle Grey is a television screenwriter whose credits include Jimmy McGovern’s BAFTA award-winning Accused: Tina’s Story as well as over thirty-five episodes of Midsomer Murders, Casualty, Rosemary and Thyme, The Bill and Wycliffe. She has also written non-fiction and been a magazine editor and freelance journalist. Isabelle’s previous novels include two psychological thrillers, The Bad Mother and Out Of Sight as well as the first two books in the DI Grace Fisher series, Good Girls Don’t Die, Shot Through the Heart and The Special Girls. Isabelle grew up in Manchester and now lives in north London.

Twitter @IsabelleGrey
Website: http://www.isabellegrey.wordpress.com

Previous books by Isabelle Grey

Out of Sight
The Bad Mother
Good Girls Don’t Die – Grace Fisher #1
Shot Through The Heart – Grace Fisher #2
The Special Girls – Grace Fisher #3

 

There are still some stops left on the blog tour so make sure you check them out!

 

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, Five Star Reads

The Special Girls – Isabelle Grey

Crime Fiction
5*s

Isabelle Grey has been brave in taking the contemporary issue of child abuse and grooming by those in power in The Special Girls. Not an easy topic by any standards and yet this only too believable tale doesn’t avoid the other side of this crime, those men that have been falsely accused in the full glare of the public eye.

Dr Tim Merrick, a young psychiatric registrar is found brutally murdered while supervising a camping trip of eight girls suffering with eating disorders, the main question being asked was why he wasn’t, as he was supposed to be, supervising the girls at the camp in Essex. The girls were chosen from Professor Edward “Ned” Chesham’s clinic at St Botolph’s hospital in London as those who had made good progress as a reward and a way of learning how to enjoy life with tree climbing, swimming in the lake and other healthy pursuits.

With the adults at the camp with a firm alibi Grace Fisher has no option to take a look at the young charges but with such fragile girls, they simply can’t be investigated in the normal manner which presents something of an issue for the capable Detective Inspector. With the motive unclear Grace does what she can to get the investigation off the ground, however she has barely started when she is asked to head up a Metropolitan Police review into a cold case involving Chesham himself called Operation Mayfly. Soon she is interviewing her old boss who ran the investigation into a sexual assault involving Chesham some twenty years ago.

I was delighted to see the unusual friendship witnessed in the previous two books in this series between Ivo the crime reporter on the Courier and Grace Fisher is still going strong even while questioning the wisdom of this pairing. It isn’t as though Grace isn’t aware of the recent phone hacking scandal and the resultant need to keep any contact between the Police and the press strictly above-board.

The Special Girls, while focussed on an uncomfortable subject has its attention on the effects of the crime rather than the details of the crime itself, except where absolutely necessary. The power games within the police are exposed because of the political hot potato that this particular crime has become which goes against Grace’s belief that the police are there to protect the public, not themselves. We also here from the father of one of the girls under Ned Chesham’s care, in what feels like an authentic look at life with a daughter with an eating disorder. None of the elements are overly laboured but together the political and the personal are built into a crime that is not only a whodunit but reflects contemporary views and issues in an incredibly effective manner.

There is of course a fair bit of Grace’s personal life which feeds back to the main story arc that began with her being ostracised by her old force when she made a complaint about another officer, one who happened to be her husband. This time around it seems as though Grace has finally found her feet but how far can she do to appease her superiors and protect those who she feels require it.

This series is definitely worth following and The Special Girls has ensured that it stays on my ‘must-read’ list as I can’t resist intelligent contemporary crime fiction which is based on proper research thereby avoiding the clichés that some in this genre space fall into. Not only that it was an interesting read with perfect pace and clever plotting without forgetting that readers love a cast of characters that they believe in.

The Special Girls will be published today 6 April 2017 by Quercus who allowed me to read an advance review copy of this book. This unbiased review is my thanks to them.

First Published UK: 6 April 2017
Publisher: Quercus
No of Pages:  384
Genre: Crime Fiction – Series
Amazon UK
Amazon US

Previous books by Isabelle Grey

The Bad Mother
Good Girls Don’t Die – Grace Fisher #1
Shot Through The Heart – Grace Fisher #2

Posted in Weekly Posts

This Week in Books (April 5)

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

At the moment I am reading and thoroughly enjoying The Restless Dead by Simon Beckett which was published in eBook format in February but is out in hardback tomorrow.

Blurb

Once one of the country’s most respected forensics experts, Dr David Hunter is facing an uncertain professional – and personal – future. So when he gets a call from Essex police, he’s eager for the chance to assist them.

A badly decomposed body has been found in a desolate area of tidal mudflats and saltmarsh called the Backwaters. Under pressure to close the case, the police want Hunter to help with the recovery and identification.

It’s thought the remains are those of Leo Villiers, the son of a prominent businessman who vanished weeks ago. To complicate matters, it was rumoured that Villiers was having an affair with a local woman. And she too is missing.

But Hunter has his doubts about the identity. He knows the condition of the unrecognizable body could hide a multitude of sins. Then more remains are discovered – and these remote wetlands begin to give up their secrets . . . Amazon

I have just finished The Special Girls by Isabelle Grey, the third in the Grace Fisher series, which is also published tomorrow, 6 April 2017 – as are a whole heap of brilliant books!

Blurb

A case of historical child sex abuse by a famous doctor is linked to the murder of his young and popular colleague at a summer camp deep in the Essex woods.

A young psychiatric registrar is found beaten to death in the woods close to a summer camp for young patients suffering from eating disorders. It is run by the charismatic, world-renowned Professor Ned Chesham. DI Grace Fisher investigates, but it is not long before she is pulled from the case – to head up a Metropolitan Police review into a cold case involving Chesham himself.

Nearly twenty years ago, one of Chesham’s patients made allegations that he sexually assaulted her. The investigation at the time found no conclusive proof, but Grace soon discovers another victim, and a witness whose account never reached the police. Does this mean the original investigation was bungled? Scotland Yard would certainly like her to conclude otherwise.

As Grace uncovers the lies that led to the young doctor’s murder, she discovers the full extent of the damage done to Chesham’s ‘special girls’ – and the danger they are still in. NetGalley

Next I plan to read Dead Woman Walking by Sharon Bolton and I have a feeling I’m in for a real treat with this one which will be published on

Blurb

Just before dawn in the hills near the Scottish border, a man murders a young woman. At the same time, a hot-air balloon crashes out of the sky. There’s just one survivor.

She’s seen the killer’s face – but he’s also seen hers. And he won’t rest until he’s eliminated the only witness to his crime.

Alone, scared, trusting no one, she’s running to where she feels safe – but it could be the most dangerous place of all . . . Amazon

So chillers and killers all round for me this week! What are you reading?

Posted in Weekly Posts

First Chapter ~ First Paragraph (March 14)

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 opener this week comes from The Special Girls by Isabelle Grey the third in the DI Grace Fisher series which will be published on 6 April 2017.

Blurb

A young psychiatric registrar is found beaten to death in woods close to a summer camp for young patients suffering from eating disorders. It is run by the charismatic, world-renowned Professor Ned Chesham. DI Grace Fisher investigates, but it is not long before she is pulled from the case – to head up a Metropolitan Police review into a cold case involving Chesham himself.

Nearly twenty years ago, one of Chesham’s patients made allegations that he sexually assaulted her. The investigation at the time found no conclusive proof, but Grace soon discovers another victim, and a witness whose shocking account never reached the police. Does this mean the original investigation was wrapped up too soon? Scotland Yard would certainly prefer Grace to make it all go away.

As Grace uncovers the secrets and lies that led to the young doctor’s murder, she discovers the full extent of the damage done to the ‘special girls’ – and the danger they are still in. Amazon

~ ~ ~ ~ ~

First Chapter ~ First Paragraph ~ Intro


1

Detective Inspector Grace Fisher heard an owl hoot as she got out of the car. It was somewhere off in the thick darkness of the woods on the opposite side of the road. The faintest whisper of a breeze in the night air rustled the treetops and brushed her cheek as she inhaled the dry, earthy smell of last winter’s leaf litter.

‘What genius thought it would be a good idea to stop there?’ she asked, shaking her head at the two marked cars pulled up on the verge beside a five-bar gate. ‘Right where the perpetrator might have left a vehicle if they had one.’

~ ~ ~ ~ ~

I like Grace Fisher’s no nonsense approach and I’m really looking forward to reading more.

What do you think? Would you keep reading?

Posted in Weekly Posts

Weekly Wrap Up (February 26)

Weekly Wrap Up

Another week and another the lovely Emma from damppebbles spotted my name in the paperback release of Little Bones by Sam Blake. There is something exceptionally thrilling to seeing your words quoted, so thank you Bonnier for picking my review!

little-bones-png

This Week on the Blog

A busy one with four reviews posted starting with my thoughts on My Sweet Revenge by Jane Fallon, the book that accompanied me on my travels a couple of weeks back.

My excerpt post this week was for  Quieter Than Killing by Sarah Hilary, the fourth in the London Detective Inspector Marnie Rome series.

On Wednesday I outlined my fabulous line-up of books for the week which included Agatha Christie, Denise Mina and Jane Casey – if nothing else it has been a fantastic book week!

A tiger mum was the subject matter of my second review of the week in The Trophy Child by Paula Daly, although whichever subject she choses to spin a story around, this author is always a hit with me.

Then came a five star review for The Other Typist by Suzanne Rindell, If you haven’t read this book, you really should which is definitely my best choice for the Mount TBR Challenge yet, although once again I am fighting the urge the second book she wrote to the TBR!

Last up review wise was my thoughts on The Thirteen Problems by Agatha Christie, a collection of linked short stories posed as a problem with Miss Marple. This was another book read as part of the TBR Challenge which is currently on track with 6 books read and reviewed by the end of February!

This Time Last Year…

I was reading a Non-Fiction book about the last woman hanged in New South Wales which sparked my interest in poisoning as a murder weapon. Last Woman Hanged by Caroline Overington wasn’t just about the crime and punishment though the links were made to the woman’s movement which was behind a valiant attempt to have Louisa Collin’s sentence commuted.

If you’d like to you can read my full review here or click on the book cover.

Last Woman Hanged

Blurb

Darlinghurst Gaol and the last woman hanged in New South Wales. Both of Louisa’s husbands had died suddenly and the Crown, convinced that Louisa poisoned them with arsenic, put her on trial an extraordinary four times in order to get a conviction, to the horror of many in the legal community. Louisa protested her innocence until the end.

Much of the evidence against Louisa was circumstantial. Some of the most important testimony was given by her only daughter, May, who was just 10-years-old when asked to take the stand. Louisa Collins was hanged at a time when women were in no sense equal under the law – except when it came to the gallows. They could not vote or stand for parliament – or sit on juries. Against this background, a small group of women rose up to try to save Louisa’s life, arguing that a legal system comprised only of men – male judges, all-male jury, male prosecutor, governor and Premier – could not with any integrity hang a woman. The tenacity of these women would not save Louisa but it would ultimately carry women from their homes all the way to Parliament House. Amazon

Stacking The Shelves

This week I have gained a copy of The Housekeeper by Suellen Dainty which is already available in eBook but will be published in paperback on 9 March 2017.

the-housekeeper

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, 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. 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 nail-biting psychological thriller about the dark recesses of the human mind and the dangerous consequences of long-buried secrets. Amazon

I was also approved on NetGalley to read The Escape by C.L. Taylor which will be published on 23 March 2017. I have read all of this author’s previous books and I’m really looking forward to this one.

the-escape

Blurb

“Look after your daughter’s things. And your daughter…”

When a stranger asks Jo Blackmore for a lift she says yes, then swiftly wishes she hadn’t. The stranger knows Jo’s name, she knows her husband Max and she’s got a glove belonging to Jo’s two year old daughter Elise.

What begins with a subtle threat swiftly turns into a nightmare as the police, social services and even Jo’s own husband turn against her. No one believes that Elise is in danger.
But Jo knows there’s only one way to keep her child safe – RUN. NetGalley

I also already had, but hadn’t featured a copy of The People at Number 9 by Felicity Everett which is out in April 2017.

the-people-at-number-9

Blurb

‘Have you met them yet, the new couple?’

When Gav and Lou move into the house next door, Sara spends days plucking up courage to say hello. The neighbours are glamorous, chaotic and just a little eccentric. They make the rest of Sara’s street seem dull by comparison.
When the hand of friendship is extended, Sara is delighted and flattered. Incredibly, Gav and Lou seem to see something in Sara and Neil that they admire too. In no time at all, the two couples are soulmates, sharing suppers, bottles of red wine and childcare, laughing and trading stories and secrets late into the night in one another’s houses.

And the more time Sara spends with Gav and Lou, the more she longs to make changes in her own life. But those changes will come at a price. Soon Gav and Lou will be asking things they’ve no right to ask of their neighbours, with shattering consequences for all of them… NetGalley

… and The Special Girls by Isabelle Grey, the third in the DI Grace Fisher series, also out in April 2017. I’m eager to read the follow up to  Good Girls Don’t Die and Shot Through The Heart

the-special-girls

Blurb

A case of historical child sex abuse by a famous doctor is linked to the murder of his young and popular colleague at a summer camp deep in the Essex woods.

A young psychiatric registrar is found beaten to death in the woods close to a summer camp for young patients suffering from eating disorders. It is run by the charismatic, world-renowned Professor Ned Chesham. DI Grace Fisher investigates, but it is not long before she is pulled from the case – to head up a Metropolitan Police review into a cold case involving Chesham himself.

Nearly twenty years ago, one of Chesham’s patients made allegations that he sexually assaulted her. The investigation at the time found no conclusive proof, but Grace soon discovers another victim, and a witness whose account never reached the police. Does this mean the original investigation was bungled? Scotland Yard would certainly like her to conclude otherwise.

As Grace uncovers the lies that led to the young doctor’s murder, she discovers the full extent of the damage done to Chesham’s ‘special girls’ – and the danger they are still in. NetGalley

and finally You Don’t Know Me by Imran Mahmood a book that captured my attention and my new found enjoyment in court room dramas. You Don’t Know Me is being published by Penguin on 4 May 2017.

you-dont-know-me

Blurb

An unnamed defendant stands accused of murder.

Just before the Closing Speeches, the young man sacks his lawyer, and decides to give his own defence speech. He tells us that his barrister told him to leave some things out. Sometimes, the truth can be too difficult to explain, or believe. But he thinks that if he’s going to go down for life, he might as well go down telling the truth. There are eight pieces of evidence against him. As he talks us through them one by one, his life is in our hands.

We, the reader – member of the jury – must keep an open mind till we hear the end of his story. His defence raises many questions… but at the end of the speeches, only one matters: Did he do it? NetGalley

What have you found to read this week?

tbr-watch

Since my last post I’ve read 3 books and gained just 2 – although I found a missing book from the TBR list while another 2 were discarded.. so the grand total is 189
Physical Books – 111
Kindle Books – 65
NetGalley Books – 13

Posted in Book Review, Books I have read

Shot Through The Heart – Isabelle Grey

Crime Fiction 4*s
Crime Fiction
4*s

This is the second book in the Grace Fisher series, and before I start this review, in this instance I really do think you need to start at the beginning, so if you haven’t done so read Good Girls Don’t Die.

This book opens with a superb set-up where we meet Russell Fewell driving his van through Dunholt a small Essex town on Christmas Day. In the back of the van are presents for his children on top of a rifle. Meanwhile DI Grace Fisher is enjoying a game of scrabble with her colleague Lance, and his partner Peter having eaten lunch in her new Essex home; and then she gets the call that there has been a shooting, five people are dead as is the shooter. Even more significant as far as wrapping the case up quickly is the news that one of the victims is a serving Police Officer.

Grace and Lance start the investigation, there is no query over the suspect but Grace wants to know where the gun came from and what precipitated the tragedy, one that the town won’t forget in a hurry. As she starts probing it seems that corruption among her fellow officers may have had a part to play and never one to shy away from the difficult stuff, as we found out previously, she isn’t prepared to brush their actions under the proverbial carpet, even if it is possible career suicide.

We also have some narration from a teenage girl who lost her best friend in the murderous spree, someone who sees the crime and its effects from a different perspective. Robyn Ingold lives apart from her classmates in relative isolation with her parents who carry out the more traditional country pursuits. The family of three are a close-knit group and her parents do their best to support her as she mourns her friend Angie.

Into the mix we meet up again with Ivo Sweatman, a crime journalist who is well aware of the problems Grace experienced with the Kent Police Force, before her move to Essex. These old links means that he is someone she turns to when she’s unable for various reasons to ask the questions that she needs the answers to. I was slightly wary of this somewhat symbiotic relationship in the previous book, far less so in this one where for Grace, following the legitimate path of investigation is only going to raise suspicions and hostility unless she knows all the facts.

This is a somewhat controversial book and one that I found disquieting at times, maybe because I struggled to truly accept Grace’s belief that the cause for the shooting was somehow outside the gunman’s control. Nevertheless you can’t fault the plotting, the scene setting or the level of tension that the author manages to create in this complex novel. There are plenty of dilemmas both personal and professional to keep the readers brain alert and questioning. Isabelle Grey’s work writing television dramas was abundantly apparent and I can easily see this one being transformed to the small screen. With a range of characters, most of whom are hiding different magnitudes of secrets it isn’t hard to see why the tension among them all runs so high, something that pleasingly translated into my reading experience.

TI highly recommend this series and can’t wait to see what impact the outcome of Shot Through The Heart has on the next episode.

I’d like to say a big thank you to Quercus for allowing me to read a copy of this book prior to publication on the 24 March 2016. This honest review is my thanks to them.

Posted in Weekly Posts

This Week In Books (March 16)

This Week In Books

Hosted by 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 am currently reading Shot Through The Heart by Isabelle Grey which is absolutely gripping!

Shot through the heart

You can read the synopsis and an excerpt from this one in yesterday’s post

Before that my book of detection was of a more personal level with The People in the Photo by Hélène Gestern

The People in the Photo

Blurb

The chance discovery of a newspaper image from 1971 sets two people on the path to learning the disturbing truth about their parents’ pasts.
Parisian archivist Hélène takes out a newspaper advert calling for information about her mother, who died when she was three, and the two men pictured with her in a photograph taken at a tennis tournament at Interlaken in 1971. Stéphane, a Swiss biologist living in Kent, responds: his father is one of the people in the photo. Letters and more photos pass between them as they embark on a journey to uncover the truth their parents kept from them. But will the relics of the past fill the silences left by the players?
Winner of fifteen literary awards, this dark yet touching drama deftly explores the themes of blame and forgiveness, identity and love.
Hélène Gestern lives and works in Nancy, France. The People in the Photo is her first novel.NetGalley

Next I plan to read one of the books that has been languishing on my kindle for far too long; In Too Deep by Bea Davenport has been sitting patiently since 21 July 2013.

In Too Deep

Blurb

‘… The window’s so small I can’t see what happens next. But what I do know is that Kim is dead. And I know this, too that I helped to kill her. Kim, my lovely, only, best friend.’
Five years ago Maura fled life in Dowerby and took on a new identity, desperately trying to piece her life back together and escape the dark clouds that plagued her past. But then a reporter tracks her down, and persuades her to tell her story, putting her own life in danger once again.
Layer upon layer of violence and deceit make up the full picture for Maura to see and the reporter to reveal. Hidden secrets are uncovered that have been left to settle, for far too long. But in life some things can’t be left unsaid, and eventually the truth will out. Whatever the consequences. Goodreads

So that’s my week in books – what are you reading?

Posted in Weekly Posts

First Chapter ~ First Paragraph (March 15)

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 chosen book for this week is Shot Through The Heart by Isabelle Grey which is going to be published on 24 March 2016 by Quercus.

Shot through the heart

Blurb

Who can you turn to, if not the police?
Essex, Christmas Day. As the residents of a small town enjoy their mince pies, shots ring out in the street. Five people are gunned down before the lone shooter turns his weapon on himself.
Grace Fisher, now Detective Inspector, is tasked with making some sense of this atrocity – all the more sensitive because the first of the victims was one of their own: a police officer. The case throws her back together with crime reporter Ivo Sweatman, but as she investigates it becomes clear that the police connection goes much deeper than she thought.
As the evidence of corruption grows and she is obstructed at every turn, Grace knows she is walking further into danger. Then, her young key witness disappears…
What far-reaching compromises will Grace have to make to safeguard the innocent? NetGalley

~ ~ ~

First Chapter ~ First Paragraph ~ Intro

Russell Fewell’s white van skirted the raised area of green that fronted the old stone church. A middle-aged woman was waiting for her Jack Russell to finish sniffing around the base of the metal pole that bore the heraldic village crest. The woman looked up and watched as his van turned left into the long; meandering High Street. Russell wondered if she, like him, was spending Christmas Day alone and, if so, how she felt about that.

Several of the front doors of the crooked old Essex houses had been decorated with evergreen wreaths brightened with red berries or chevroned ribbons, and lights shone fro many of the casement windows. As he cruised along the narrow street, he could see Christmas tree lights twinkling in one or two of them. He thought the houses themselves, painted pink, yellow, pale green or white and packed tightly under the overhanging gables, looked like wrapped presents. The gifts he’d chosen and carefully wrapped for his two kids were in the back of the van. On top of the rifle.

Please note that this excerpt comes from a proof copy
So what do you think? For once no prologue! And that last sentence set shivers down my spine.  I’m looking forward to getting stuck in to this one as Grace Fisher was one of my favourite finds of 2014 when she first appeared in Good Girls Don’t Die

Would you read on? Please leave your comments and links in the comments box below