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

The Shape of Lies – Rachel Abbott #BlogTour


Crime Fiction
5*s

 

I’m going to start by saying I’m a huge fan of Rachel Abbott’s writing and of Tom Douglas in particular. This series of books set in Manchester is now up to number eight. Now there will be some book-lovers who will say, ‘the series is already too far through, I can’t start now!’ I disagree (although don’t tell the author) as although I have read these books, eagerly, in order, the stories are all unique and so although we have DCI Tom Douglas to lead the way through the mysteries, he doesn’t have a huge back story to keep track of and therefore I am certain that these books would all work really well as standalone reads. Of course once you’ve read one you may well need to catch up on the rest but that’s a book lover’s problem for another day, right?

As with all crime fiction you probably don’t want me to spend too much time rehashing the synopsis so instead I am going to talk about why I enjoy this series so much with a few hints along the way to let you know what The Shape of Lies has in store for you.

I like books where even though my life is (thankfully) far more boring than the chief protagonist, Anna Franklyn, I could put myself in her shoes with no problem at all. We’ve all listened to variations of the cheesy radio shows where people ring in with tales of lost loves… in this version called ‘The One That Got Away’ well how would you feel if one day it seemed to be your story? What’s worse the man Scott is threatening to tell all, and the thing is he’s dead! I tell you I read this part and could feel the hairs on the back of my neck raise, and at that point I had no idea quite what Anna had to fear.

Books that have a moral dilemma, something to make me think about what I would do in the same situation, or more prosaically at what point in a relationship do you come clean about some of those big things in the past, always get me thinking, and I like thinking whilst I read.

There is a lot made these days of crime fiction being full of twists and turns and while I’m not sure I set as much store on this aspect as the marketing bods seem to think I should, I can’t deny there is a certain amount of pleasure in being surprised. Rachel Abbott always surprises me. The entire premise of this book takes a look at an aspect of crime that hasn’t been covered in any of the previous books by this author, and it isn’t one of those that comes up frequently in crime fiction either.

In amongst the lies, deceit and quite frankly odd coincidences that are unsurprisingly preoccupying Anna as she tries so desperately hard to keep a lid on things at home in front of her stay at home husband and two small children, DCI Tom Douglas and DI Becky Robinson have two murders to solve… oh yes, this is crime fiction at its most complex.

But one of the key things after the basics of plot and pacing is the characterisation. Now I don’t need to like the character, after all they are created to be judged, aren’t they? I wasn’t a huge fan of Anna’s but I think she was pitched perfectly. Professionally she is extremely capable, a headteacher of an Academy, respected by staff and children alike but she has another side, one that doesn’t seem to have moved on all that far from the days when she was in a relationship with Scott and she lives caught between the stories she’s told so often that she almost believes them herself. As my mother would have quoted ‘What a tangled web we weave when first we practice to deceive’

In short this is a book that had me gripped! It is a great author that leads you to the edge of the story and then immerses you in a world you never really knew existed.  My poor emotions  see-sawed as the revelations made me re-evaluate what I knew to that point. This is not a book to start if you don’t have time to finish it!

I’d like to say a huge thank you to Rachel and Maura for providing me with an advance review copy of The Shape of Lies and allowing me to marvel at Tom Douglas once more. This unbiased review is my thank you to them.

First Published UK: 12 February 2019
Publisher: Black Dot Publishing Ltd
No of Pages: 339
Genre: Crime Fiction – Series
Amazon UK
Amazon US

 

The Rachel Abbott DCI Tom Douglas Books in order:

Only The Innocent
The Back Road
Sleep Tight
Stranger Child
Nowhere Child (Novella)
Kill Me Again
The Sixth Window
Come a Little Closer

Psychological Thriller

And So it Begins

 

About Rachel Abbott

Author of one of 2018’s Times crime books of the year, Rachel Abbott, the UK’s no.1 bestselling independent author, proves once again why she is ‘the queen of psychological thrillers’ with an intense and compelling examination of the toxic impact of lies, deception and guilt.

Rachel Abbott, born and raised in Manchester, founded her own interactive media company in the 1980s, before selling it and retiring in 2005. She then moved to Italy where she worked on the renovation of a 15th century Italian monastery, and it was here that, one day, she found herself snowed in and decided to begin writing for pleasure. This became her debut novel, Only The Innocent, which she went on to publish via Kindle Direct Publishing, topping their chart for 4 weeks.

A true self-publishing pioneer, The Shape of Lies is Abbott’s ninth novel. She splits her time between Alderney in the Channel Islands and Italy.

Rachel Abbott is available for interview and to write articles.

http://www.rachel-abbott.com • @RachelAbbott • http://www.facebook.com/RachelAbbott1Writer

Posted in Weekly Posts

First Chapter ~ First Paragraph (January 29)

Welcome to another Tuesday celebrating bookish events, from Tuesday/First Chapter/Intros, hosted by from I’d Rather Be At The Beach who 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.

On 12 February 2019 The Shape of Lies by Rachel Abbott will be let loose to the eagerly awaiting fans of its chief protagonist DCI Tom Douglas. This is the eighth book in this series set in Manchester and for reasons only another booklover will understand, I’m unreasonably proud of the fact that I ‘discovered’ this author shortly after her first book was published, around the time that I first owned a kindle. Ever since, I have eagerly awaited the latest instalment. Furthermore it wasn’t until later that I realised that she is a fellow Channel Island dweller.

Blurb

Yesterday, Scott was dead. Today, he’s back.
And Anna doesn’t believe in ghosts.

Scott was Anna’s boyfriend. She loved him, but he ruined her life. When he died, she should have been free, but today Scott is on the radio, threatening to spill her secrets.

Anna is a mother, a wife, and head teacher of a primary school.
And she’s a good liar.

She made one mistake, and now she is having to pay for it. Scott is the only person who knows the truth about her past, but how can he be alive?

Soon, DCI Tom Douglas is going to knock on her door looking for answers. But Anna is already running scared: from the man she loved; the man she watched die; the man who has come back to life. Amazon

~ ~ ~ ~ ~

 

First Chapter ~ First Paragraph ~ Intro

Monday

1

We all lie. To ourselves and to each other. We make excuses by referring to our untruths as fibs or white lies, trivialising them as harmless. Or we claim that they are necessary to shelter others from hurt. However we try to justify them, whatever their shape or form, they are still lies.

~ ~ ~ ~ ~

 

I can’t disagree with this opening and when coupled with the synopsis (and title) it’s obvious that lies are at the heart of this novel.

What do you think? Would you keep reading?

Posted in Weekly Posts

This Week in Books (January 23)

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

My current read is Day of the Dead by Nicci French, the eight and final part to the series featuring Freida Klein.

Blurb

At long last, a final reckoning is coming for Frieda Klein…

On a north London high street, a runaway vehicle crashes to a halt, but the man in the driving seat was murdered a week earlier.

On Hampstead Heath, a bonfire blazes: in the flames lies the next victim.

As autumn leaves fall, a serial killer runs amok in the capital, playing games with the police. The death toll is rising fast, and the investigation is floundering.

But this is no ordinary killer, and every new victim is intended as a message to just one woman – psychologist Freida Klein.

And the message is very simple.

You’re next. . .

Frieda Klein’s duel with her dark nemesis is finally coming to a climax – and only one can make it out alive. Amazon

The last book I finished was The Shape of Lies by Rachel Abbott in her series featuring Tom Douglas and if anything it was even better than the six that preceded it!

Blurb

Yesterday, Scott was dead. Today, he’s back.
And Anna doesn’t believe in ghosts.

Scott was Anna’s boyfriend. She loved him, but he ruined her life. When he died, she should have been free, but today Scott is on the radio, threatening to spill her secrets.

Anna is a mother, a wife, and head teacher of a primary school.
And she’s a good liar.

She made one mistake, and now she is having to pay for it. Scott is the only person who knows the truth about her past, but how can he be alive?

Soon, DCI Tom Douglas is going to knock on her door looking for answers. But Anna is already running scared: from the man she loved; the man she watched die; the man who has come back to life.

She has one week to find him. One week to stop him.

Next I am planning to read a bit of classic crime fiction, not one from my list this time though. And Death Came Too by Richard Hull was originally published in 1939.


Blurb

After three nights of celebration in the humid heat of August, four friends weigh up a very particular request to visit Y Bryn House. Tired and restless, they begrudgingly accept the invitation…

But upon their arrival, their host is no where to be seen. A man plays an odd game of solitaire, a strange woman wafts in and out of the room before fleeing out of the back door. Becoming all the more concerned for their host’s welfare, their worst suspicions are confirmed when a police constable saunters in, has a drink, and announces that Mr Yeldham has been found stabbed next to a lit fireplace.

Who had the motive and means to kill Yeldham? With the odd woman missing, the clock is ticking to solve this case before the four friends are accused of murder.

And Death Came Too is another golden age mystery from the sardonic and sly Richard Hull. Blurb

So that’s my reading week – what does yours look like?

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

And So It Begins – Rachel Abbott

Psychological Thriller
5*s

An entire rug woven with complicated relationships is the best way to describe And So It Begins, the first psychological thriller to be shared from the pen of the hugely talented Rachel Abbott.

Mark, Evie and Cleo (great choice of name) are all too bound up in each other’s lives for any sort of common sense to prevail, and there is a dead wife hovering over Mark’s shoulder to ensure the intensity is driven to the highest level.

But first lets go to where it begins. A phone call from a woman in distress alarms the local Cornish police and so Sergeant Stephanie King races to the impressive house of Mark, or Marcus North. It isn’t the first time she’s been there, last time his wife was found dead, in the basement. This time it is Mark that’s dead and we know who did it, Evie, his girlfriend, the mother of his daughter. She freely admits that’s the case but our tenacious Sergeant wants to know why.

Mark was married to Mia, hence the impressive house, the money was hers. But his sister Cleo didn’t approve, she barely disguised her dislike of Mia who didn’t give Mark the encouragement and praise he deserved (in her eyes) over his photographic genius. Mia died in what is assumed to be a tragic accident having tripped up running downstairs by an undone shoelace – see our mother’s always warned us that this could happen!

While Mark is in the depths of depression after Mia’s death, Evie walks into the gallery managed by Cleo that showcases his art. She wants to commission a series of photos of herself for her father. Cleo seeing an opportunity to make money and raise Mark’s profile insists that he meet with the young woman with connections, and it is from here that we move towards those opening pages.

This story was pleasingly partly set in the courtroom where Evie stands charged either with murder or manslaughter and it is here that we begin to see how the relationship between the three has been based upon secrets and lies.

Rachel Abbott’s books are so satisfying. This is an author who is able to tell a story and one that is relevant to contemporary life. Her characters, as in the previous books, are fully rounded and although I wasn’t particularly a fan of my namesake I can’t deny she was interesting! Great characterisation isn’t just confined to the key protagonists, from the police, to the lawyers and those that only get a brief look in through the story, they are all ‘real’.

There is no doubt that this is an engaging tale and one that I read compulsively, I needed to know if what I believed was the truth at the beginning was actually the truth but as my reading progressed, like all good psychological thrillers, the writer made me change my opinion, time and time again. However this isn’t a book of trickery, you know the type, when you finally turn that last page and contemplate what you’ve read, you feel like the writer has been playing with you. Not Rachel Abbott, the clues were there, no trickery involved, you just need to look at the puzzle through the right prism.

I’d like to say a huge thank you to the author for arranging an advance copy of And So It Begins to be sent to me. This unbiased review is my thanks to her for a hugely absorbing and entertaining read. This is one psychological thriller that you don’t want to miss!

First Published UK:  11 October 2018
Publisher: Wildfire
No of Pages: 416
Genre: Psychological Thriller
Amazon UK
Amazon US

Posted in Weekly Posts

This Week in Books (October 3)

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

My current read is Rachel Abbott’s foray into psychological thriller land with her novel And So It Begins. Having been a fan of her DCI Tom Douglas series for quite some time I was interested to see how the switch of genre works; in short so far so good… and she’s chosen a great name for one of the key characters! And So It Begins will be published on 11 October 2018.

Blurb

Cleo knows she should be happy for her brother Mark. He’s managed to find someone new after the sudden death of his first wife – but something about Evie just doesn’t feel right…

When Evie starts having accidents at home, her friends grow concerned. Could Mark be causing her injuries? Called out to their cliff-top house one night, Sergeant Stephanie King finds two bodies entangled on blood-drenched sheets.

Where does murder begin? When the knife is raised to strike, or before, at the first thought of violence? As the accused stands trial, the jury is forced to consider – is there ever a proper defence for murder? Amazon

The last book I finished was Nine Perfect Strangers by Liane Moriarty which I have to say was just the lighter read I needed to balance the rather hectic time I’m having at the moment. Nine Perfect Strangers is out this week, on 4 October 2018.

Blurb

The retreat at health-and-wellness resort Tranquillum House promises total transformation.
Nine stressed city dwellers are keen to drop their literal and mental baggage, and absorb the meditative ambience while enjoying their hot stone massages.

Miles from anywhere, without cars or phones, they have no way to reach the outside world. Just time to think about themselves, and get to know each other.

Watching over them is the resort’s director, a woman on a mission. But quite a different one from any the guests might have imagined.

For behind the retreat’s glamorous facade lies a dark agenda.

These nine perfect strangers have no idea what’s about to hit them . . . Amazon

Up next is another highly anticipated review copy (it must be the beginning of another month) with Fatal Promise by Angela Marsons. This is the ninth in the Detective Kim Stone series set in the Black Country and will be published on 19 October 2018.

Blurb

Eeeny meeny, miney, moe. Who lives, who dies only I know.

When the body of a doctor is discovered brutally murdered in local woodland, Detective Kim Stone is shocked to discover the victim is Gordon Cordell – a man linked to a previous case she worked on involving the death of a young school girl. Gordon has a chequered past, but who would want him dead?

As the investigation gets underway, Gordon’s son is involved in a horrific car crash which leaves him fighting for his life. Kim’s sure this was no accident.

Then the body of a woman is found dead in suspicious circumstances and Kim makes a disturbing link between the victims and Russells Hall Hospital. The same hospital where Gordon worked.

With Kim and her team still grieving the loss of one of their own, they’re at their weakest and facing one of the most dangerous serial killers they’ve ever encountered. Everything is on the line. Can Kim keep her squad together and find the killer before he claims his next victim?

The killer is picking off his victims at a terrifying pace, and he’s not finished yet. Amazon

What do you think? Any of these books take your fancy this week?

Posted in Weekly Posts

Weekly Wrap Up (July 1)

It seems like an age since I did a weekly wrap up, mainly because I was away enjoying a wonderful holiday in Rhodes for a couple of weeks. This gave me the opportunity to read a whole range of books in between eating, drinking and learning about the history of Rhodes. All in all I came back refreshed and relaxed and rejuvenated. Then I returned to work and all my good intentions of writing up my reviews faltered…

We returned home last Sunday and my neighbour’s son had done a wonderful job of looking after my sunflowers in our absence. I have six plants, two have open heads and another is on the way…

This Week on the Blog

Well it was straight into a review as I now have a backlog to write! The Peacock Summer by Hannah Richell was a wonderful dual time-line story set between 1955 and the present day – a beautiful story to match the stunning cover.

My excerpt post was taken from Sisters of Mercy by Caroline Overington which was probably the most disturbing of my holiday reads.

This Week in Books featured the authors Lisa Jewell, Sabine Durrant and Jeffery Toobin

On Thursday I reviewed another new release; The Death of Mrs Westaway by the very talented Ruth Ware.

Next I posted my review of Conon Doyle for the Defence by Margalit Fox, a non-fiction read about how Conon Doyle got involved in the case of Oscar Slater who was accused of murdering an old lady in Glasgow in 1908.

Finally, yesterday I reviewed the first book in my 20 Books of Summer 2018 challenge with Seven Days in May by Kim Izzo.

This Time Last Year…

I was reading The Island by Victoria Hislop which I’d bought following our holiday in Crete in 2016 because we visited the, now abandoned, leper colony on the small island of Spinalonga. Over the past year I have reflected on quite how powerful this story was. Not only is it very well-written but the fact that those suffering with leprosy were sent there within living memory is something I just can’t get out of my mind.

The story itself has all the elements you could want with love, betrayal, secrets and at its heart family. The story swings backwards and forwards from the little village of Plaka where life is simple to the bigger towns where research was going on to find a cure for the dreadful disease, a search which was suspended when the war became the fight that the whole of Greece was focussed on.

A memorable tale indeed.

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

Blurb

On the brink of a life-changing decision, Alexis Fielding longs to find out about her mother’s past. But Sofia has never spoken of it. All she admits to is growing up in a small Cretan village before moving to London. When Alexis decides to visit Crete, however, Sofia gives her daughter a letter to take to an old friend, and promises that through her she will learn more.

Arriving in Plaka, Alexis is astonished to see that it lies a stone’s throw from the tiny, deserted island of Spinalonga – Greece’s former leper colony. Then she finds Fotini, and at last hears the story that Sofia has buried all her life: the tale of her great-grandmother Eleni and her daughters and a family rent by tragedy, war and passion. She discovers how intimately she is connected with the island, and how secrecy holds them all in its powerful grip… Amazon

Stacking the Shelves

Somehow even though I’ve been away I’ve managed to also acquire some new books a small selection of which I’ll share here…

I was absolutely thrilled to be sent a copy of Rachel Abbott’s stand-alone psychological thriller called And So It Begins which will be published in October 2018.

Blurb

So this is how it ends. It is clear to me now: one of us has to die.

Mark and Evie had a whirlwind romance. Evie brought Mark back to life after the sudden death of his first wife. Cleo, Mark’s sister, knows she should be happy for him. But Cleo doesn’t trust Evie…

When Evie starts having accidents at home, her friends grow concerned. Could Mark be causing her injuries? Called out to their cliff-top house one night, Sergeant Stephanie King finds two bodies entangled on blood-drenched sheets.

Where does murder begin? When the knife is raised to strike, or before, at the first thought of violence? As the accused stands trial, the jury is forced to consider – is there ever a proper defence for murder? Amazon

This sounds so good, it has a murder, a trial and a great character name even though it sounds like she either ends up dead or on a murder charge!

Another of my favourite authors also is going to publish a psychological thriller in the autumn and I was lucky enough to receive a copy of The Stranger Diaries by Elly Griffiths before it is published on 1 November 2018.

Blurb

Clare Cassidy is no stranger to murder. As a literature teacher specialising in the Gothic writer RM Holland, she teaches a short course on it every year. Then Clare’s life and work collide tragically when one of her colleagues is found dead, a line from an RM Holland story by her body. The investigating police detective is convinced the writer’s works somehow hold the key to the case.

Not knowing who to trust, and afraid that the killer is someone she knows, Clare confides her darkest suspicions and fears about the case to her journal. Then one day she notices some other writing in the diary. Writing that isn’t hers… Amazon

I also have a copy of The Clockmaker’s Daughter by Kate Morton which I’m so excited about as I’ve loved each and every one of this author’s previous books. This is due to be published on 20 September 2018.

My real name, no one remembers. The truth about that summer, no one else knows.

In the summer of 1862, a group of young artists led by the passionate and talented Edward Radcliffe descends upon Birchwood Manor on the banks of the Upper Thames. Their plan: to spend a secluded summer month in a haze of inspiration and creativity. But by the time their stay is over, one woman has been shot dead while another has disappeared; a priceless heirloom is missing; and Edward Radcliffe’s life is in ruins.

Over one hundred and fifty years later, Elodie Winslow, a young archivist in London, uncovers a leather satchel containing two seemingly unrelated items: a sepia photograph of an arresting-looking woman in Victorian clothing, and an artist’s sketchbook containing the drawing of a twin-gabled house on the bend of a river.

Why does Birchwood Manor feel so familiar to Elodie? And who is the beautiful woman in the photograph? Will she ever give up her secrets?

Told by multiple voices across time, The Clockmaker’s Daughter is a story of murder, mystery and thievery, of art, love and loss. And flowing through its pages like a river, is the voice of a woman who stands outside time, whose name has been forgotten by history, but who has watched it all unfold: Birdie Bell, the clockmaker’s daughter. NetGalley

I couldn’t resist the offering of a copy of The Mile End Murder by Sinclair McKay (which was already on my wishlist) having so enjoyed Conan Doyle for the Defence, so I now have a  copy of this book, which has already been published.

Blurb

In 1860, a 70 year old widow turned landlady named Mary Emsley was found dead in her own home, killed by a blow to the back of her head.

What followed was a murder case that gripped the nation, a veritable locked room mystery which baffled even legendary Sherlock Holmes author, Arthur Conan Doyle. With an abundance of suspects, from disgruntled step children concerned about their inheritance and a spurned admirer repeatedly rejected by the widow, to a trusted employee, former police officer and spy, the case led to a public trial dominated by surprise revelations and shock witnesses, before culminating with one of the final public executions at Newgate.

This is the case Conan Doyle couldn’t solve and, after confounding the best detectives for years, has finally be solved by author Sinclair McKay. Discover ‘whodunit’ as the real murderer is revealed for the first time exclusively in this captivating study of a murder case in the nineteenth century, a story never told before. Amazon

What have you found to read this week? Do share!

tbr-watch

Since my last post I have read lots of books and I have also gained a small pile but I’m delighted to announce that the TBR has dropped to the unprecedented low level of 167!
Physical Books – 106
Kindle Books – 41
NetGalley Books –19
Audio Books –1

As all my reviews since my return have been of review copies I’ve not yet earned any more tokens so I’m 1 book in credit, having bought no new books.

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

Come A Little Closer – Rachel Abbott #BlogTour #GuestPost #BookReview

The publication of another DCI Tom Douglas always provokes excitement and so I was thrilled to take part on the BlogTour to promote its publication on 15 February 2018.

Before we get to my review of the latest thrilling episode Rachel Abbott kindly agreed to tell me about her last five reads – spookily so many of these, well all in fact, also sit on my own bookshelf. How many are on yours?

My Last Five Reads by Rachel Abbott

I have just finished a book called Hell Bay by the wonderful Kate Rhodes. I have been a fan of her books for a number of years, and nobody gives a better sense of place or character than this author. The body of a teenage girl is washed up on the shore of a small island in the Scilly Isles and a new detective – DI Ben Kitto – is asked to investigate. I suspect this is not the last we will see of Kitto – I certainly hope not.

 

Then She Was Gone by Lisa Jewell is another of my recent reads. Such a clever plot, and the strands slowly come together to a dramatic conclusion. It’s another story about a teenage girl who goes missing, but ten years later, when her mother has given up all hope of finding Ellie, she meets a new man and her heart almost stops when she meets his daughter. She is the image of Ellie. It is rare when a thriller also breaks your heart, but this one does just that.

This book isn’t out until April, but it’s available for pre-order now. I was lucky enough to be able to get a pre-release copy. As with all books by Sharon Bolton, one of my favourite authors, The Craftsman delivers compulsive reading. Dark and disturbing, it is the story of a Larry Glassbrook who confesses to a series of child murders. But now he is dead, and the young policewoman who originally arrested him returns to the scene. Did she get it wrong all those years ago, or is history about to repeat itself?

Although there is nothing current about this book, I recently reread Rebecca by Daphne du Maurier. I was asked to run a workshop on How to Write Suspense, and I wanted to use examples from a single book. Rebecca was the first novel to come to mind, and reading it with the specific purpose of focusing on the language was a wonderful experience. I have always loved the story – which I suspect needs no introduction to readers of this blog – but this time I enjoyed it for du Maurier’s amazing choice of words.

One of the books I have been looking forward to since I first heard of it is Anatomy of a Scandal (and what a brilliant title!). It is the story of a junior Home Office minister, James, who is accused of rape by one of this colleagues. The point of view shifts between James, his wife and the prosecuting barrister, and author Sarah Vaughan manages to combine all the elements of a psychological thriller with a tense and exciting court room drama. It was certainly worth waiting for; the plot twists and turns to the very end.

 

All I can say is that Rachel Abbott has very good taste in books!

My Review

Crime Fiction
5*s

Well we are already up to number seven in the DCI Tom Douglas and all I can say is Rachel Abbott keeps coming up with original ideas for our dear detective to solve. This book is dark and yet delicious.

I’ll admit I was a tad confused at the beginning. First there is a dead body in a twitcher’s hide with no clue how she got there, next there a young woman is jetting away from her awful boyfriend to visit Myanmar in memory of her dearly missed grandfather and lastly and most confusingly there are some women, who don’t talk and listen for footsteps. All very weird and if I didn’t trust Rachel Abbott as much as I do, I’d swear she’d lost the plot so to speak. Fortunately she hasn’t, it’s all under control, careful control with more than a dash of inspirational writing.

As always I was drawn into the story, ok I might not have had a clue what was unfolding but that doesn’t mean that each separate strand wasn’t compelling in its own right and I was more than happy to follow wherever it took me. Well that was a mistake, this book freaked me out! This author knows how to pull the spook out of the bag without any warning. Give me blood and gore any day to something that is completely crazy on one level, but absolutely believable on another. This is all the harder because the book is jam-packed full of action and so you barely have time to catch your breath following revelations in one strand when you are hit with something big in another strand.

As you can probably tell, I’m not able to give much away of what the plot consists of as that would entirely spoil the surprise for you. What I can say is we have the same characters in the Manchester CID. Becky is pregnant and not willing to sit back and watch Tom have all the excitement, the junior officer is a clever cookie and will clearly go far sitting back and putting the clues together to move the investigation forward and the chief is still urging Tom to attend meetings about crime figures. The other characters are brilliantly drawn with Ian the awful boyfriend being a composition of men you will have met in your lifetime however lucky you’ve been. Callie his girlfriend is far too nice but just finding the guts to do what she wants, hence the solo trip to Myanmar. The women in the shadows are also real women, once they speak, underlining one of the trademarks of these books that even the minor characters are not skimped. The look and behave as people you meet do. Ok so hopefully the people you meet aren’t in quite so much danger, but you know what I mean.

If you’re reading this series you really don’t want to miss out on this episode, it starts well and builds into such a crescendo it had me gasping for breath. If you aren’t reading this series and you enjoy brilliant crime fiction, why not?

I’d like to say a huge thank you to Rachel for providing me with an advance review copy of Come A Little Closer and for agreeing to provide an insight into her own reading habits. This unbiased review is my thank you to her.

First Published UK: 15 February 2018
Publisher: Black Dot Publishing Ltd
No of Pages: 406
Genre: Crime Fiction – Series
Amazon UK
Amazon US

Discover Rachel Abbott here

Web : http://www.rachel-abbott.com
Blog: rachelabbottwriter.com
Twitter: @RachelAbbott
Facebook: RachelAbbott1Writer
Video: https://vimeo.com/253996703

 

The Rachel Abbott DCI Tom Douglas Books in order:

Only The Innocent
The Back Road
Sleep Tight
Stranger Child
Nowhere Child (Novella)
Kill Me Again
The Sixth Window

Posted in Uncategorized

Reading and Reviewing in 2017

Well it’s that time for reflection on the old and setting new goals for the new year so I’m going to start in my traditional way with a few facts and figures.

I have read and reviewed 147 books in 2017, one less than this time last year and boy some of those books have been really worth shouting about!

This amounts to 48, 281 pages 657 pages more than last year so obviously I’ve chosen some longer books to delight me in 2017 – that is an average of 132 pages per day!! No wonder I keep saying I don’t have time to do anything – to be honest that figure shocks even me!

Good old Goodreads tells me that my longest read was The Heart’s Invisible Furies by John Boyne was the longest book I read at a whopping 592 pages which was my very last review of 2017

The shortest unsurprisingly was a short story  Promises to Keep by Elizabeth Haynes at a mere 41 pages.

 

 

of the oldest books on my TBR was Room by Emma Donoghue which I finally read earlier this month – this was the book most read by other readers on Goodreads – 926,679 other readers there have also read this popular book, although I suspect many of them did so a little before I did!

The book I shared with the fewest readers was a debut crime thriller The Last Thread by Ray Britain, written by a former Police Officer not only were we treated to a new Detective but the authenticity of the read shone through – this book deserves a wider audience for sure!

A whopping 92 books fell into the crime fiction/psychological thriller categories although the psychological thriller count was down by 8 from 2016 to a mere 35.

My non-fiction reads declined slightly from 15 to 13 book fitting into this category, including a must-read for book-lovers; The Book of Forgotten Authors by Christopher Fowler although a large proportion of these are also crime related.

As always my goal for the year was to read more of my own books so not only did I participate in Cathy’s wonderful 20 Books of Summer 2017 challenge (which I completed on time – go me!) I chose a number of books that fitted with 2017’s obsession with the variety of ways true crime is presented and books inspired by true crime which was kicked off by the brilliant Little Deaths by Emma Flint

I also participated in the Mount TBR Challenge on Goodreads for the first time where I completed 34 of my aimed 36 books purchased prior to 1 January 2017.

 

In all I read 56 of my own books or a relatively respectable 38% of my reads for 2017 which is a vast improvement on the 49 books completed in 2016 and very nearly the 40% I was aiming for. I was spurred on by realising how many superb books I already own with The Other Typist by Suzanne Rindell being an early delight.

Of course though I’m a book lover and so this is exactly the time and place to say thank you to all the authors and publishers who have given me copies of your books to review – there are simply too many outstanding reads of the year (although tomorrow I will pick my top ten published in 2017) a whole 92 books read in 2017 were ARCs including Shelter by Sarah Franklin a historical novel set in the Forest of Dean where I lived from 1979 to 1987 – a setting that was also used in The Doll Funeral by Kate Hamer

As for you all, what you seemed to enjoy most in 2017 were the following Top Five Reviews of the year were:

He Said/She Said by Erin Kelly
The Sixth Window by Rachel Abbott
The Other Typist by Suzanne Rindell
Painkiller by N.J. Fountain
Anne Perry and the Murder of the Century by Peter Graham

Two of these are from my own bookshelves proving that it isn’t just the newest releases that captures reader’s attention!

Finally at the beginning of December I completed the annual filling in of the Reading Bingo squares with some choices of the year.

 

2018 Goals

Beyond the Goodreads Reading Challenge, I don’t normally go in for bookish goals but I am going to break with the tradition and set myself some (gentle) targets for 2018.

  1. In 2017 I discovered what a wonderful array I have already in my possession and so the target is to read 40% of my own books in 2018. To give me some motivation I have decided to allow myself to buy one book for every three of my own that I read – of course there are some get-out clauses – the annual book sales held on the island are exempt and I will be visiting the library for any must-reads that I don’t own.
  2. The latter clause is important as I really want to up my reading or re-reading of classic novels, I shelved just one book in this category in 2017 although two others could have been put there but I felt they belonged better elsewhere. My target is to read at least 6 so one every other month and the library is the place to go for these. Despite being a library member all of my life, I haven’t visited anywhere near enough in more recent years which is something I feel guilty about.
  3. I am taking part in the Mount TBR Challenge again with an aim of reading 36 books – let’s see if I make it in 2018.

On the blog

  1. I am (very) slowly amalgamating the tabs with the aim of putting all the reviews for 2013-2015 onto one tab – this ongoing project must be completed by the end of March 2018.
  2. My about me page is in dire need of an update especially as it is visited far more often than I expected with 660 views in the last year.
  3. And of course I will shortly display an updated shelf as my header to welcome in the start of 2018.
  4. I always used to write my book review before starting a new book and this habit is being resumed in 2018 – this has been a very busy year and as much as I love blogging it has been a real struggle to fit everything in and I’m hoping this will help me get a better balance, rather than frantically writing reviews at the weekend when I need to endlessly check names (I have a real blind-spot in this department) as well as other elusive details.
  5. Finally I will remember to post each review to Cleopatra Loves Books Facebook page which at best has been intermittent since I set it up earlier this year.

That just leaves me to thank you all for visiting, commenting and writing your own entertaining posts and reviews that has me constantly rationalising my book choices!

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

The Sixth Window – Rachel Abbott

Crime Fiction 5*s
Crime Fiction
5*s

I have followed this series since first discovering it soon after becoming a kindle owner back in 2010 and have eagerly awaited each new book ever since. Rachel Abbott creates believable scenarios which touch on the important, and gritty subjects, that we might like to close our eyes to but never forgets that what the reader wants is a cracking good story. Better still her lead detective, the handsome and caring DCI Tom Douglas, creates an attractive backdrop, well, in my mind anyway.

In The Sixth Window Natalie Grey finds something disturbing on her partner’s laptop which throws her into a panic. So much so that she wants to scoop up her daughter Scarlett and take her to a place of safety. But part of her can’t believe that what she’s seen is true. After all she’s known Ed Cooper since she was a teenager, all through her marriage to his best friend Bernie and he was the person she turned to when he was killed in a hit and run accident.

As a temporary measure Natalie finds Scarlett and herself a furnished flat to rent in an old building in Manchester. Scarlett is bored, it is the summer holidays and she is far from her friends but hey she’s got plenty of school-work to be getting on with and the library is close by. Yes, that isn’t what happens at all. As I said Rachel Abbott writes believable stories, not fairy tales! Instead Scarlett mooches around her new home bored and angry with her mother until she hears voices… having discovered that the apartment is built on the site of an old workhouse, Scarlett wonders if she is hearing echoes from the past, needless to say she decides to investigate.

Meanwhile the disturbing suicide of a young girl is keeping our favourite DCI busy and there is a link to Natalie and Scarlett which he can’t ignore and as Bernie’s name keeps coming up in his investigations Tom Douglas has to face the fact that the former policeman may have been hiding a secret that his wife isn’t ready to confront. By this point in the plot I was well and truly hooked and found myself turning the pages ever faster as my brain whirred around trying to cling onto the facts while the suspicions swirled all around. This really is a fast-moving plot with plenty of the intrigue which I love. The characters are well-drawn and even if Natalie is prone to putting her head in the sand over some of the discoveries made, I liked the fact that she was determined to protect her teenage daughter no matter what. This combined with the recent loss of her husband meant that I was able to sympathise with her, which was in direct contrast to some of the other characters I met during The Sixth Window, who were downright creepy, none more so than the janitor of the building, the description Rachel provides of this dear soul is far from flattering, I do hope it wasn’t based on anyone she knows!

As with all my favourite crime fiction novels, The Sixth Window has a number of strands which are deftly pulled together to provide a scary picture which sadly isn’t quite as far from the truth as we may like to believe. I don’t normally mention the endings of books, for obvious reasons, but this one had me literally gasping with disbelief as my jaw dropped. In conclusion this book is the best in the series yet, brilliant plot, contemporary storyline, great characterisation which culminates in what on reflection seemed to be the only ending possible.

I’d like to thank the author Rachel Abbott who kindly gave me a copy of The Sixth Window, not for review purposes, although how could I not review this! For any of you who use NetGalley it is available for request and you will be able to pre-order the kindle copy from Amazon soon. The publication date for this being 21 February 2017.

First Published UK: 21 February 2017
Publisher: Black Dot Publishing
No of Pages: approx 350
Genre: Crime Fiction Series

Amazon UK

Discover Rachel Abbott here

Web : http://www.rachel-abbott.com

Blog: rachelabbottwriter.com

Twitter: @RachelAbbott

Facebook: RachelAbbott1Writer

The Rachel Abbott DCI Tom Douglas Books in order:

Only The Innocent
The Back Road
Sleep Tight
Stranger Child
Nowhere Child (Novella)
Kill Me Again

Posted in Put A Book On The Map, Weekly Posts

This Week in Books (January 11)

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 am currently reading, Tattletale by Sarah J Naughton which contrary to what I said yesterday, is actually due to be published on 23 March 2016.

tattletale

Please see yesterday’s post  for the synopsis and the opening lines from this book

I have just finished my fellow Channel Island dweller, Rachel Abbott’s latest book The Sixth Window, the latest in the brilliant Tom Douglas series, set in Manchester. The Sixth Window is going to be published on 21 February 2017. Rachel was kind enough to send me a copy but a little bird told me this is on NetGalley as of yesterday!

the-sixth-window

Blurb

Eighteen months after Natalie Gray loses her husband Bernie in a horrific hit and run accident, she finds love with his best friend, Ed Cooper, and moves into his home with her teenage daughter Scarlett. But she begins to suspect Ed has a dark side — and even darker intentions. Natalie must get her troubled child to a safer place, but when Scarlett starts to hear voices coming from the empty apartment next door it seems she has unwittingly moved them into the heart of danger.

DCI Tom Douglas is also chasing the truth. As his investigation into the suicide of a teenage girl draws him ever closer to Natalie and Scarlett, will he be too late to protect them from the threat they face, or from the truths that will tear their lives apart? NetGalley

Next up I have one of my own books After She Fell by Mary-Jane Riley which I bought because I loved The Bad Things so much.

after-she-fell

Blurb

There are so many ways to fall…
Catriona needs help. Her seventeen-year-old daughter Elena was found dead at the bottom of a cliff near her boarding school. The death has been ruled a suicide, but Catriona isn’t convinced.
When her old friend, journalist Alex Devlin, arrives in Hallow’s Edge to investigate, she quickly finds that life at private boarding school The Drift isn’t as idyllic as the bucolic setting might suggest.
Amidst a culture of drug-taking, bullying and tension between school and village, no one is quite who they seem to be, and there are several people who might have wanted Elena to fall… Amazon

 

So that’s what I’m reading this week – what have you chosen? Do let me know in the comments box below.

Announcement

british-isles-mapThere’s another reason for me choosing After She Fell – Mary-Jane has kindly agreed to kick-start the Put A Book On The Map project which will also be linking to The Book Trail the-booktrail-logoSusan at The Book Trail is going to use the key locations for both The Bad Things and After She Fell to prepare a book trail in readiness for the launch on 4 February 2017 – If anyone wants to help out with this part, please let me know and I will pass your details onto Susan.

It is with enormous pleasure that I can confirm that the blogger post is going to be written by the lovely Katherine from BibliomaniacUK  on the locations visited in the  Alex Devlin series.  I can’t wait to see this collaboration in action!

If you’ve read and reviewed either of Mary-Jane’s books as I would love to link and feature some reviews to make this a real community event. Of course full credit will be given to anyone submitting material and you can email me at cleopatralovesbooks70@gmail.com

We’d love to hear from you to make the first book on the map a magnificent event!