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

Daisy in Chains – Sharon Bolton

Crime Fiction 5*s
Crime Fiction
5*s

A deliciously dark read which was simply superb!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Lacey Flint Series

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

Short Stories

If Snow Hadn’t Fallen
Here Be Dragons

Standalone Books

Little Black Lies

 

 

 

Posted in Weekly Posts

This Week in Books (May 25)

This Week In Books

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

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

Daisy in Chains

Blurb

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

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

My Husband's Wife

Blurb

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

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

Die of Shame

Blurb

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


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

Posted in Books I have read

Take Three Shorts

Short stories which link to other books seems to be a fairly new phenomenon but one I have to admit I was a bit suspicious of – surely the book itself should be enough? Do we really need another part to complete our reading experience?

In the interest of science I have put three to the test!

First up is Case 48: The Kidnapping of Isaiah Rae by Emma Kavanagh which was published shortly before the author’s latest novel The Missing Hours – this short is currently free and runs to 35 pages. Case 48 features Selena and Ed Cole, from The Missing Hours .

Case 48

When Elliot, the son of an electronics corporation CEO, is kidnapped and held for ransom, Selena and Ed are brought in to act as liasons. To make sure things run smoothly. To make sure Elliot comes home.
But when Selena discovers that Elliot’s biological mother was recently released from prison, things soon become more complicated, and more deadly, than they can possibly imagine … Amazon

Although this features two of the characters from the novel this is an entirely standalone story, and a good one at that. This short story, would give the reader insight into the work of those who work for the insurance company in kidnap and ransom demands. If like me you had no idea this industry existed, this story may just be the introduction you need to see if you’d enjoy a full length novel in this area.

Flourish.jpg

My second short is The Intruder at Number 40 by Louise Candlish, an author I was delighted to discover from the book this is linked to; The Sudden Departure of the Frasers. This short comes in at 33 pages and is currently 49p and features Amber Fraser of the title…

The Intruder at Number 40

He sold 40 Lime Park Road months ago. So why is he still visiting the house?
Ryan Steer is an estate agent in property hotspot Lime Park, gatekeeper to a growing population of well-heeled families and affluent couples attracted by the area’s promise of a tranquil suburban lifestyle. To be honest, the houses sell themselves, and when Ryan hands over the keys to his vendors he usually wishes them well and loses their faces in the crowd. Until Jeremy and Amber Fraser, that is. For there is something about Mrs Fraser that gets under his skin, something that causes illicit thoughts, thoughts that lead to actions – secret, forbidden ones.
But if ever a woman was worth the risk, it is Amber Fraser. Amazon

The Intruder at Number 40 was released earlier this year in the run up to the authors fantastic tale The Swimming Pool, so perhaps the idea was to get the authors name in the forefront of the readers mind in readiness. Again this was an enjoyable enough story, but apart from the house at Lime Grove, the very one the Frasers departed from, there isn’t anything in this book that adds to what we already know from reading the full-length novel, this was rather a stand alongside type of read. For me the book was just long enough for the tale it told, which would certainly make me wary of estate agents!

Flourish.jpg

My last choice was Here be Dragons by Sharon Bolton with a short story featuring two of my favourite characters Lacey Flint and Mark Joesbury and ties in with the end of A Dark and Twisted Tide, which was the fourth in the Lacey Flint series. This short story comes in at about double the length of the previous two and is currently priced at £1.99.

Here Be Dragons

There must be a thousand people in the vicinity of Westminster Bridge on this beautiful evening . . . in approximately thirty minutes’ time, many of them will be dead.
Mark Joesbury, of Scotland Yard’s Covert Operations Unit, is undercover. Embroiled in a terrorist gang’s plans for a deadly attack at the heart of the capital, he’s risking everything to stop them. But as they prepare to target London’s most iconic landmarks, it’s no longer just countless strangers he’s fighting to save. Because they’ve also got the woman he loves, DC Lacey Flint… Amazon

Here Be Dragons is my favourite of all three of the shorts because it does add something to the end of the last story. Maybe this is a sweetener for those of us who were hoping for another episode of Lacey Flint – although personally my disappointment has been assuaged by the new standalone book, Daisy In Chains which is going to be published next month. In this book we get to hear what Mark Joesbury is doing while he is missing from Lacey’s life – and the longer length mean that there is time for some proper thrills! I’m so glad I read this one and fully recommend it for all lovers of Lacey Flint.

Flourish.jpg

So three very different shorts all from my favourite authors with somewhat mixed results but perhaps nowhere near as negative as I feared. I’m not a huge fan of short stories and I was a little wary of feeling that I’d been conned into buying a book that I wouldn’t find satisfying. That didn’t happen with any of these books but perhaps it isn’t so surprising that I most enjoyed the longest offering. I also got an awful lot of enjoyment from meeting up with old favourite characters, far more than I expected. My conclusion is that for a quick read then a story that links with a much loved book may well be the way to go!

The Missing HoursThe Sudden Departrure of the FrasersA Dark and Twisted Tide NG

 

What do you think about short stories specifically written to tie-in with full-length novels?

Posted in Weekly Posts

Stacking the Shelves (April 9)

Stacking the shelves

Stacking The Shelves is all about sharing the books you’re adding to your shelves, be it buying or borrowing. From ‘real’ books you’ve purchased, a book you’ve borrowed, a book you’ve been given or an e-book they can all be shared.

Spring is here and it has sprung a crop of marvellous books – here’s what’s been added to my shelf in the last week!

Aimee Alexander contacted me to see if I’d be interested in reading her book The Accidental Life of Greg Millar and kindly arranged for me to receive a copy before publication on 26 April 2016.

The Accidental Life of Greg Millar

Blurb

Lucy Arigho’s first encounter with Greg Millar is far from promising, but she soon realises he possesses a charm that is impossible to resist. Just eight whirlwind weeks after their first meeting, level-headed career girl Lucy is seriously considering his pleas to marry him and asking herself if she could really be stepmother material.
But before Lucy can make a final decision about becoming part of Greg’s world, events plunge her right into it. On holiday in the South of France, things start to unravel. Her future stepchildren won’t accept her, the interfering nanny resents her, and they’re stuck in a heat wave that won’t let up. And then there’s Greg. His behaviour becomes increasingly bizarre and Lucy begins to wonder whether his larger-than-life personality hides something darker—and whether she knows him at all. NetGalley

I was thrilled beyond measure to be approved by Random House UK to read Daisy in Chains by Sharon Bolton

Daisy in Chains

Blurb

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

Daisy in Chains sounds absolutely brilliant and will be published on 2 June 2016.

I also have a copy of the latest Caro Ramsay book featuring Costello and Anderson, I came late to this series and knowing I’m never ever going to catch up from the beginning now I can’t wait to read the latest, Rat Run, which will be published on 1 August 2016 by Severn House Publishers.

Rat Run

Blurb

A macabre discovery throws disturbing new light on a 20-year-old murder case in the latest tense and twisting Anderson and Costello mystery.
In August 1992, a young mother and her two small sons were brutally murdered in the woods behind their home. Her neighbour Andrew Gyle was convicted of the crime and sentenced to life imprisonment. Now, twenty-three years later, a macabre discovery throws new light on the case. Could there have been a shocking miscarriage of justice?
Having only just returned to work following an enforced leave of absence, DCI Colin Anderson knows he must make a success of his comeback case. But, as he and his partner, DI Costello, uncover serious discrepancies in the original investigation, it becomes clear that not everyone is telling them the truth. Meanwhile, Costello worries that Anderson is struggling to cope – and his increasingly odd behaviour causes her to begin to think the unthinkable: can she trust her own partner? NetGalley

I also couldn’t possibly resist requesting a copy of Die of Shame by Mark Billingham, a truly talented and original writer. Grove Atlantic kindly approved my request for this book which will be published on 7 June 2016.

Die of Shame

Blurb

Every Monday evening, six people gather in a smart North London house to talk about shame. A respected doctor, a well-heeled housewife, a young male prostitute . . . they could not be more different. All they have in common is a history of addiction. But when one of the group is murdered, it quickly becomes apparent that someone else in that circle is responsible.
The investigation is hampered by the strict confidentiality that binds these individuals and their therapist together, which makes things difficult for Detective Inspector Nicola Tanner, a woman who can appreciate the desire to keep personal matters private. If she is to find the killer, she will need to use less obvious means. The question is: What could be shameful enough to cost someone their life? And how do you find the truth when secrets, lies, and denial are second nature to all of your suspects? NetGalley

Unsolicited through the post I have a copy of Five Rivers Met on a Wooded Plain by Barney Norris which was sent to me by Doubleday, this book will be published on 21 April 2016.

Fiver Rivers Met on a Wooded Plain

Blurb

‘There exists in all of us a song waiting to be sung which is as heart-stopping and vertiginous as the peak of the cathedral. That is the meaning of this quiet city, where the spire soars into the blue, where rivers and stories weave into one another, where lives intertwine.’

One quiet evening in Salisbury, the peace is shattered by a serious car crash. At that moment, five lives collide – a flower seller, a schoolboy, an army wife, a security guard, a widower – all facing their own personal disasters. As one of those lives hangs in the balance, the stories of all five unwind, drawn together by connection and coincidence into a web of love, grief, disenchantment and hope that perfectly represents the joys and tragedies of small town life. Amazon

Penguin Books UK thought I’d like a copy of The Last Days of Summer by debut novelist Vanessa Ronan, which will be published on 5 May 2016.

The Last Days of Summer

Blurb

She can forgive. They can’t forget.
After ten years in the Huntsville State Penitentiary, Jasper Curtis returns home to live with his sister and her two daughters. Lizzie does not know who she’s letting into her home: the brother she grew up loving or the monster he became.
Teenage Katie distrusts this strange man in their home but eleven-year-old Joanne is just intrigued by her new uncle.
Jasper says he’s all done with trouble, but in a forgotten prairie town that knows no forgiveness, it does not take long for trouble to arrive at their door … Amazon

I also have a copy of The Butcher Bird by S.D. Sykes despite not having read my Christmas gift of the first in the series Plague Land

The Butcher Bird

Blurb

Oswald de Lacy is growing up fast in his new position as Lord of Somershill Manor. The Black Death changed many things, and just as it took away his father and elder brothers, leaving Oswald to be recalled from the monastery where he expected to spend his life, so it has taken many of his villagers and servants. However, there is still the same amount of work to be done in the farms and fields, and the few people left to do it think they should be paid more – something the King himself has forbidden.
Just as anger begins to spread, the story of the Butcher Bird takes flight. People claim to have witnessed a huge creature in the skies. A new-born baby is found impaled on a thorn bush. And then more children disappear.
Convinced the bird is just a superstitious rumour, Oswald must discover what is really happening. He can expect no help from his snobbish mother and his scheming sister Clemence, who is determined to protect her own child, but happy to neglect her step-daughters.
From the plague-ruined villages of Kent to the thief-infested streets of London and the luxurious bedchamber of a bewitching lady, Oswald’s journey is full of danger, dark intrigue and shocking revelations. Amazon

… and if that lot wasn’t enough, I also have bought myself a copy of The Poison Principle by Gail Bell recommended by Hayley from Rather Too Fond of Books following my review of The Secret Poisoner

The Poison Principle

Blurb

When Dr William Macbeth poisoned two of his sons in 1927, his wife and sister hid the murders in the intensely private realm of family secrets. Like the famous poisoner Dr Crippen, Macbeth behaved as if he were immune to consequences; unlike Crippen, he avoided detection and punishment. Or did he? Secrets can be as corrosive as poison and, as time passed, the story of Dr William Macbeth, well-dressed poisoner, haunted and divided his descendants. Macbeth’s granddaughter Gail Bell, who grew up with the story, spent ten years reading the literature of poisoning in order to understand Macbeth’s life. A chemist herself, she listened for echoes in the great cases of the 19th and 20th centuries, in myths, fiction and poison lore. This intricate story, with a moving twist at the end, is a book about family guilt and secrets, and also an exploration of the nature of death itself – as Bell turns to her grandfather’s poisonous predecessors, from Cleopatra, Madame Bovary and Napoleon, as well as looking at Harold Shipman. Amazon

So after that massive selection my poor TBR watch has gone somewhat awry, but they all do look so good!!

PicMonkey Collage TBR

TBR WATCH
Since my last count I have read 3 books, and gained, 8 so the total has shot up to 177 books!
91 physical books
68 e-books
18 books on NetGalley

 

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

Posted in Books I have read

Little Black Lies – Sharon Bolton

Crime Fiction 4*s
Crime Fiction
4*s

This book tells the tale of how the friendship between Carin and Rachel turned ugly the day Rachel was responsible for the death of Carin’s young sons. Both women had given birth to two boys of similar ages and the two women continued their friendship which had started when they were both eleven.

The book starts in the run up to the third anniversary of the boy’s deaths. In the shocking opening we learn that Carin, a marine conservation officer, has been devastated by her grief and harbours ideas of revenge against Rachel. She is questioning if she is capable of killing, convinced that in the right circumstances, everybody is. The novel is set over five days and is quite slow to get going but when it does, well it was a case of hang onto your seat and try to keep up with the revelations that spill from the pages.

The story is set in the Falklands, in 1994, twelve years after the war and one of our three narrators is Callum, a former soldier who saw appalling scenes during the conflict. The author doesn’t spare us this horror as Callum suffers with PSD and relives some of those wartime events during his narration. Sharon Bolton does an amazing job of bringing to life this large land mass populated by a small number of people, rarely have I been able to visualise a place I have never visited and never so unobtrusively as the bleak landscape with a wide variety of wildlife is cleverly woven into the plot. The Falklands in Little Black Lies are bleak with more than a whiff of claustrophobia about it with the whole population knowing everyone’s business. The mixture of secret desires being held in this small-town setting is incredibly powerful, because however much people think they know, they can’t know everything, they can’t see another’s thoughts.

Each of the three narrators, Carin, Callum and Rachel narrate their portion in one hit, each covering the same timescale. While I felt sympathy for Carin she is so damaged she comes across as quite a remote character and you can’t help but wonder what she is capable of, especially when there is a disaster and she is forced to make a difficult choice. Callum is far nicer, in some ways too nice and it is through his eyes that we see a different side to Carin. Rachel has been forever marked as the woman who killed two children, she’s removed herself from life through the use of sleeping pills.

As if our characters didn’t all have enough going on in their lives, a young boy goes missing and all the islanders are out searching for him. With visitors from a visiting cruise ship to swell the numbers the local police organise search parties and attempt to quell the inevitable comparison to two other boys that have gone missing over the last couple of years.

This is a tense novel that accurately portrays the nature of grief, small-town life, difficult choices and rejection. In the hands of such a gifted writer the dark emotions are powerful and intense. The plot has been well-thought out although I feel that the structure was responsible for the slow start to the novel, it was cleverly used to add layers to both the plot and the characters, as we cover the same time period from different perspectives. This is quite unlike the Lacey Flint series, being far darker, and firmly marks Sharon Bolton out as an author who is a master story-teller.

I’d like to say thank you to the publishers, Random House UK who allowed me to read a copy ahead of the publication date of 2 July 2015.

Posted in Weekly Posts

This Week In Books (June 17)

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 Little Black Lies by Sharon Bolton.

Little Black Lies

You can read the blurb and opening paragraph in yesterday’s post

I have recently finished A Game For All The Family by Sophie Hannah which was an amazing read, one I couldn’t stop reading despite not having the foggiest what on earth it was all about until the final pages…

A Game for all the Family

Blurb

After escaping London and a career that nearly destroyed her, Justine plans to spend her days doing as little as possible in her beautiful home in Devon.
But soon after the move, her daughter Ellen starts to withdraw when her new best friend, George, is unfairly expelled from school. Justine begs the head teacher to reconsider, only to be told that nobody’s been expelled – there is, and was, no George.
Then the anonymous calls start: a stranger, making threats that suggest she and Justine share a traumatic past and a guilty secret – yet Justine doesn’t recognise her voice. When the caller starts to talk about three graves – two big and one small, to fit a child – Justine fears for her family’s safety.
If the police can’t help, she’ll have to eliminate the danger herself, but first she must work out who she’s supposed to be… Amazon

My review will follow shortly

Next up for something a little lighter I am planning to read The Lost Art of Keeping Secrets by Eva Rice

Lost Art of Keeping Secrets

Blurb

Set in 1950s London, The Lost Art of Keeping Secrets centers around Penelope, the wide- eyed daughter of a legendary beauty, Talitha, who lost her husband to the war. Penelope, with her mother and brother, struggles to maintain their vast and crumbling ancestral home—while post-war London spins toward the next decade’s cultural revolution.
Penelope wants nothing more than to fall in love, and when her new best friend, Charlotte, a free spirit in the young society set, drags Penelope into London with all of its grand parties, she sets in motion great change for them all. Charlotte’s mysterious and attractive brother Harry uses Penelope to make his American ex-girlfriend jealous, with unforeseen consequences, and a dashing, wealthy American movie producer arrives with what might be the key to Penelope’s— and her family’s—future happiness. Goodreads

What have you found to read this week?

See what I’ve been reading in 2015 here

Posted in Weekly Posts

First Chapter ~ First Paragraph (June 16)

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 current read is Little Black Lies by Sharon Bolton which will be published on 2 July 2015.

Little Black Lies

Blurb

What’s the worst thing your best friend could do to you?
Admittedly, it wasn’t murder. A moment’s carelessness, a tragic accident – and two children are dead. Yours.
Living in a small island community, you can’t escape the woman who destroyed your life. Each chance encounter is an agonizing reminder of what you’ve lost – your family, your future, your sanity.
How long before revenge becomes irresistible?
With no reason to go on living, why shouldn’t you turn your darkest thoughts into deeds?
So now, what’s the worst thing you can do to your best friend?

~ ~ ~

First Chapter ~ First Paragraph ~ Intro

DAY TWO
Tuesday, 1 November 1994
I believe just about anyone can kill in the right circumstances, given enough motivation. The question is, am I there yet? I think I must be. Because lately, it seems, I’ve been thinking of little else.
It’s a minute past midnight. In two days time it will be the third of November. Two more days. Am I there yet?

Please note that this was taken from a proof copy

Do you want to know more?
Please leave your thoughts and links in the comment box below

Posted in Weekly Posts

Stacking The Shelves (April 18)

Stacking the shelves

Stacking The Shelves is all about sharing the books you’re adding to your shelves, be it buying or borrowing. From ‘real’ books you’ve purchased, a book you’ve borrowed, a book you’ve been given or an e-book they can all be shared!

This week I have a copy of The Sudden Departure of the Frasers by Louise Candlish from Lovereading for review purposes.

The Sudden Departrure of the Frasers

Blurb

Welcome to Lime Park Road. A picture-perfect street with a secret at its heart.
When Joe and Christy Davenport step behind the Oxford Blue painted door of their ‘for ever’ home, they believe their dreams have come true.
Yet the boxes aren’t even unpacked before a series of events leads Christy to become obsessed with the previous occupant, the glamorous, enigmatic Amber Fraser, whose departure from Lime Park Road is shrouded in mystery.
What happened to her? And why are Joe and Christy’s attempts at friendship with neighbours met with an unnerving silence?
As Christy unravels the shocking truth about the Frasers and the place she now calls home, she discovers that behind the closed doors of even the most desirable postcodes, terrible secrets lurk. Goodreads

The Sudden Departure of the Frasers is due to be published on 21 May 2015

I treated myself to a copy of a book I’ve had my eye of for some time, Forensics: The Anatomy of Crime by Val McDermid

Forensics

Blurb

The dead talk. To the right listener, they tell us all about themselves: where they came from, how they lived, how they died – and who killed them. Forensic scientists can unlock the mysteries of the past and help justice to be done using the messages left by a corpse, a crime scene or the faintest of human traces.
Forensics draws on interviews with top-level professionals, ground-breaking research and Val McDermid’s own experience to lay bare the secrets of this fascinating science. And, along the way, she wonders at how maggots collected from a corpse can help determine time of death, how a DNA trace a millionth the size of a grain of salt can be used to convict a killer and how a team of young Argentine scientists led by a maverick American anthropologist uncovered the victims of a genocide.
In her novels, McDermid has been solving complex crimes and confronting unimaginable evil for years. Now, she’s looking at the people who do it for real. It’s a journey that will take her to war zones, fire scenes and autopsy suites, and bring her into contact with extraordinary bravery and wickedness, as she traces the history of forensics from its earliest beginnings to the cutting-edge science of the modern day. Goodreads

And lastly NetGalley or rather the publishers, Random House UK, came good and approved me for a copy of Little Black Lies by one of my favourite authors, Sharon Bolton.

Little Black Lies

Blurb

What’s the worst thing your best friend could do to you?
Admittedly, it wasn’t murder. A moment’s carelessness, a tragic accident – and two children are dead. Yours.
Living in a small island community, you can’t escape the woman who destroyed your life. Each chance encounter is an agonizing reminder of what you’ve lost – your family, your future, your sanity.
How long before revenge becomes irresistible?
With no reason to go on living, why shouldn’t you turn your darkest thoughts into deeds? NetGalley

Little Black Lies is due to be published on 2 July 2015

Any of these take your fancy? What have you found to read this week? Please do share in the comments below

Posted in 5 Of the Best

Five of the Best (February 2011 to 2015)

5 Star Reads

As I have now been reviewing for over five years I thought I’d highlight my favourite book for each month from 2011 until 2015 to remind myself of the good ones. When we are talking five years ago, they must be good if I still remember them! Here is January’s top five in case you missed it: January 2011 to 2015 but now to February!

2011

Read while holidaying in the Bahamas was another great read from one of my favourite authors, Kate Morton with The Distant Hours.  This wasn’t as popular as her previous two novels The Distant Hours and The Forgotten Garden but I liked the change in style and time period.

The Distant Hours

Blurb

Edie Burchill and her mother have never been close, but when a long lost letter arrives with the return address of Milderhurst Castle, Kent, printed on its envelope, Edie begins to suspect that her mother’s emotional distance masks an old secret. Evacuated from London as a thirteen year old girl, Edie’s mother is chosen by the mysterious Juniper Blythe, and taken to live at Millderhurst Castle with the Blythe family. Fifty years later, Edie too is drawn to Milderhurst and the eccentric Sisters Blythe. Old ladies now, the three still live together, the twins nursing Juniper, whose abandonment by her fiancé in 1941 plunged her into madness. Inside the decaying castle, Edie begins to unravel her mother’s past. But there are other secrets hidden in the stones of Milderhurst Castle, and Edie is about to learn more than she expected. The truth of what happened in the distant hours has been waiting a long time for someone to find it . . . Amazon

2012 yr

In February 2012 I read Dead Scared by Sharon Bolton, the second in the Lacey Flint series.  This series quickly became a fixture on my ‘must-read’  list and I eagerly await the latest addition as soon as I’ve read the last.

Dead Scared
Blurb

When a rash of suicides tears through Cambridge University, DI Mark Joesbury recruits DC Lacey Flint to go undercover as a student to investigate. Although each student’s death appears to be a suicide, the psychological histories, social networks, and online activities of the students involved share remarkable similarities, and the London police are not convinced that the victims acted alone. They believe that someone might be preying on lonely and insecure students and either encouraging them to take their own lives or actually luring them to their deaths. As long as Lacey can play the role of a vulnerable young woman, she may be able to stop these deaths, but is it just a role for her? With her fragile past, is she drawing out the killers, or is she herself being drawn into a deadly game where she’s a perfect victim? Amazon

2013yr

In February 2013 I read Human Remains by Elizabeth Haynes which features Police data analyst, Annabel, in a disturbing dark thriller.

Human Remains

Blurb

When Annabel, a police analyst, discovers her neighbour’s decomposing body in the house next door, she’s appalled to think that no one, including herself, noticed that anything was wrong.
Back at work, she feels compelled to investigate, despite her colleagues’ lack of interest, and finds data showing that such cases are common – too common – in her home town. As she’s drawn deeper into the mystery and becomes convinced she’s on the trail of a killer, she also must face her own demons and her own mortality. Would anyone notice if she just disappeared? Goodreads

2014yr
February 2014 was full of some of my favourite books of the year with many strong contenders so I have decided pick one of the two five star reads by a debut author; A Pleasure and a Calling by Phil Hogan.  For some reason this book has been given a new wacky cover which I don’t like so I’m featuring the old one!
A Pleasure and a Calling

You won’t remember Mr Heming. He showed you round your comfortable home, suggested a sustainable financial package, negotiated a price with the owner and called you with the good news. The less good news is that, all these years later, he still has the key.
That’s absurd, you laugh. Of all the many hundreds of houses he has sold, why would he still have the key to mine?
The answer to that is, he has the keys to them all.
William Heming’s every pleasure is in his leafy community. He loves and knows every inch of it, feels nurtured by it, and would defend it – perhaps not with his life but if it came to it, with yours… Amazon

2015yr
The end of February 2015 reading has seen a clutch of five star reads with a number of contenders for the top spot but I have decided to plump for an author whose fourth book was as ingenious and as satisfying as her previous three; Rachel Abbott with Stranger Child.

Stranger Child

Blurb

One Dark Secret. One act of revenge.
When Emma Joseph met her husband David, he was a man shattered by grief. His first wife had been killed outright when her car veered off the road. Just as tragically, their six-year-old daughter mysteriously vanished from the scene of the accident.
Now, six years later, Emma believes the painful years are behind them. She and David have built a new life together and have a beautiful baby son, Ollie.
Then a stranger walks into their lives, and their world tilts on its axis.
Emma’s life no longer feels secure. Does she know what really happened all those years ago? And why does she feel so frightened for herself and for her baby?
When a desperate Emma reaches out to her old friend DCI Tom Douglas for help, she puts all their lives in jeopardy. Before long, a web of deceit is revealed that shocks both Emma and Tom to the core.
They say you should never trust a stranger. Maybe they’re right.

5 Star Reads

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

A Dark and Twisted Tide – Sharon Bolton

Crime Thriller  5*'s
Crime Thriller
5*’s

This, the fourth in the Lacey Flint series is almost totally set on the river Thames in London. Lacey has left the police having taken the decision to join the Water Police after a scary event in Like This, For Ever. Hoping for a more tranquil life Lacey is missing her old boss Mark Joesbury who has gone undercover but enjoying living on a boat on the Thames as part of the riverboat community.

Don’t expect a gentle start to this book, the first corpse appears within pages, found by Lacey, there is some seriously scary episodes with crabs and Lacey has taken it upon herself to take up the dangerous occupation of swimming in the Thames every day. Now I don’t know about you, but I’ve seen the Thames and I would not dip my toe in it let alone think it was a good spot for swimming! It isn’t long before a link is made between this body and some previous unidentified females and as it appears likely that the corpse was placed for Lacey to find, she has seemingly got herself drawn into a murder investigation despite her change of career. So Lacey is back working with Dana Tulloch in a somewhat more supportive relationship than the previous novel.

River Thames and Cleopatra's Needle
River Thames and Cleopatra’s Needle

As always in Sharon Bolton’s writing there is a wealth of fascinating characters, and in this novel, Lacey’s neighbours are at the heart of it as the deftly drawn characters make an instant impact. There is also an ongoing mystery of who Lacey really is and why does she regularly visit her friend and convicted serial killer ‘Toc’ in prison. The book has a map on the first page, something I love, and the fantastic description of Deptford Creek where the majority of the book is set had me visualising the empty warehouses, the old pumping station and marinas as well as the more familiar landmarks of London.

A must read for Lacey Flint fans, the twists and turns up to the high standard expected from Sharon Bolton and the ending perfectly poised for the next episode. This is one series that I would suggest reading in order because the layers added to the chief protagonist each time are an addition, rather than an aside to this series without ever taking over the main plotline.
I was delighted to receive a free copy of this book from the publishers, Random House UK, ahead of the publication date of 8 May 2014.

Lacey Flint Series in order

1. Now You See Me

2. Dead Scared

3. Like This, For Ever

Read my reviews including that of the short story featuring Lacey Flint; If Snow Hadn’t Fallen here