#BlogTour Game Show by Allie Cresswell

It’s my pleasure to host the BlogTour for Game Show by Allie Cresswell today. This story is a sign of the times and it takes a frank look at human nature. It is brutal and unforgiving.

About the Author

I have been writing stories since I could hold a pencil and by the time I was in Junior School I was writing copiously and sometimes almost legibly.

I did, however, manage a BA in English and Drama from Birmingham University and an MA in English from Queen Mary College, London. Marriage and motherhood put my writing career on hold for some years until 1992 when I began work on Game Show.

In the meantime I worked as a production manager for an educational publishing company, an educational resources copywriter, a bookkeeper for a small printing firm, and was the landlady of a country pub in Yorkshire, a small guest house in Cheshire and the proprietor of a group of boutique holiday cottages in Cumbria. Most recently I taught English Literature to Lifelong learners.

Nowadays I write as full time as three grandchildren, a husband, two Cockapoos and a large garden will permit.

Connect with Allie Cresswell on Facebook: alliescribbler/

Visit allie-cresswell.com

Buy Game Show

About the book

It is 1992, and in a Bosnian town a small family cowers in their basement. The Serbian militia is coming – an assorted rabble of malcontents given authority by a uniform and inflamed by the idea that they’re owed something, big-time, and the Bosnians are going to pay. When they get to the town they will ransack the houses, round up the men and rape the women. Who’s to stop them? Who’s to accuse them? Who will be left, to tell the tale?

Meanwhile, in a nondescript northern UK town a group of contestants make their way to the TV studios to take part in a radical new Game Show. There’s money to be won, and fun to be had. They’ll be able to throw off their inhibitions and do what they want because they’ll all be in disguise and no-one will ever know.

In a disturbing denouement, war and game meld into each other as action and consequence are divided, the words ‘blame’ and ‘fault’ have no meaning and impunity reigns .

Game Show asks whether the situation which fostered the Bosnian war, the genocide in Rwanda, the rise of so-called Islamic State in Syria and the ethnic cleansing in Myanmar could ever happen in the West. The answer will shock you.

Review

I adore the kind of premise that explores human nature. The contestants for this game show are a mixed bunch of individuals, so the choices they make and the reactions they have are bound to differ. A privileged wealthy housewife seeks the thrill, as opposed to the love deprived exhausted multiple mother on a tight budget, who may be willing to be more cut-throat to win the show.

At the beginning of the book the show is set to the topic of Native Americans. The scenes are bloodthirsty, wild and barbaric, so aside from the obvious cultural appropriation going on, there is also the aspect of depicting the stereotype and misconceptions of their culture. Very much a privileged white man’s idea of amusement, and another indicator of the ‘do anything for high ratings’ mentality of our era.

The West has already experienced the Holocaust, so the answer to the question in the blurb is yes it can happen in the West. In Western European countries the far right is sitting in governments once more, swastikas and hate crimes are in abundance. In the US the alt-right marches with Tiki torches.Today, at this moment in time, Western society is being forced into a similar scenario, a division between Muslims and non-Muslims, caused by the terrorism of fundamentalists and radicals.

Cresswell mentions the infamous Stanford Prison Experiment, as one of her inspirations to explore the psychology of human nature, and indeed confirm what the majority of us already know through history or perhaps even personal experience.

Given the right set of circumstances and motivation the majority of people will show the base animal instinct of human nature. Survival of the fittest, and above all power and control over others. A certain number of us will lose all inhibition and show ourselves capable of extreme violence and of inflicting pain upon those we perceive to be weaker and deserving of it.

The background of the story is set in the 1990’s to the background of the Bosnian conflict. At this point I have to say that despite constant reminders that we all never forget the atrocities of the Nazi regime, we are probably all guilty of ignoring the genocides that have taken place since then, the Bosnian War being a perfect example of that.

There is an interesting rant by Piers (producer) given in the first half of the book, when he more or less denies responsibility for any actions or events that place during the show, because in his eyes any person unable to recognise right from wrong has no moral fibre anyway. Thereby placing the blame solely in the hands of the single perpetrators. Now, don’t get me wrong they are to blame, but the person inciting them is just as culpable, actually more so.

Our television screens are awash with game shows and reality tv shows nowadays. Japanese game shows are a prime example of the balancing act between fun and bizarrely extreme behaviour. Participants are asked to act this way, they are primed and rewarded for it, and viewers lap it up. There is a market for it, and the boundaries are becoming less visible as the years go on.

There are two storylines in Game Show, both of which could survive as a standalone plot. Combined the juxtaposition of these two storylines makes the reader aware of the parallels in human behaviour in either situation. Simultaneously it also highlights the ludicrous and frankly abhorrent fact that while the rest of the world is engaged in mundane daily chores, somewhere else men, women and children are being slaughtered.

Cresswell doesn’t intend for this to be an easy read. Unfortunately it reminds us of the chaos and violence of human nature. How easily the masses are led, and how fragile our masks of civility are. Given the right set of circumstances the most docile human being can turn into a sadistic killer, and the most brash could possibly crumble at the first sign of adversity.

Game Show is about life within the confines of societal boundaries, and also when it is void of any boundaries at all. Is there really any difference between the two?

Buy Game Show at Amazon Uk or go to Goodreads for any other retailer.

Advertisements

#BlogTour Carnivore by Jonathan Lyon

Let’s kick off the BlogTour for Carnivore by Jonathan Lyon. It’s a riveting combination of literary fiction meets noir, which brutally kicks the characters aside on occasion to allow for some brash contemporary reality. It is the kind of read that ends up on the tip of wagging tongues and achieving cult status.

About  the Author

Jonathan Lyon was born in 1991 in London. He studied at Oxford University, graduating in 2013 with the Gibbs Prize. He moved to Berlin in the same year. He has had a chronic illness for over a decade. He is a self-made demon. His debut novel, Carnivore, was published by HQ (HarperCollins) in August 2017.

Follow @jonathan_lyon @HQStories on Twitter & jonathan_lyon on Instagram

Buy Carnivore


About the book

Meet Leander: lover, fighter, liar.

He learnt a long time ago that nothing is as intoxicating as blood. But whether it’s his or someone else’s doesn’t matter any more. There’s a mysterious pain in every muscle of his body – and it’s got so bad that he’ll do anything to escape it.

Up to now, it’s been his secret. But it’s hard to remain invisible when you leave a trail of destruction everywhere you go. So, when he comes to the attention of one of London’s most infamous criminals, Leander decides to put his appetite for violence to the ultimate test.

Let the villain win.

Extract of Carnivore

‘What’s your fantasy?’

All sex and storytelling starts with this, of course. Sometimes the question’s self-directed, sometimes it’s only implied. But here, obviously, I was supposed to reply ‘being dominated,’ so that’s what I said.

I was actually fantasising about eating a satsuma, slowly, slice by slice, on the edge of a rooftop, or perhaps on a hilltop, watching a building below me burn in a fire I’d started. But this would be too long to say aloud, and probably wouldn’t arouse a man in the prime of his mid-life crisis as easily as a boy begging for a beating.

So now that my victim thought that I was his victim, he could breathe more heavily, and began struggling to unbutton his shirt.‘No, no you should be doing this,’ he said, fluttering his fingers. ‘I mean, undress me, boy!’

Unsuited to the dominant role, he recoiled at his own orders. Clearly, he was a submissive – if I’d had the energy, I could’ve had him on all fours in a few minutes. But energy is not one of my vices. ‘Of course, sir,’ I said instead, my mouth twitching into a smile I had to hide by lowering my head.

Beneath his shirt was a paunch of greying hairs. As I removed the rest of his clothes, he hovered awkwardly between sitting and standing, his hands just above my back, not yet confident enough to touch me.

‘Now, now… you!’ I took off my tracksuit – the uniform he’d requested – delivered my finest doe eyed simper, and knelt down. But he rejected this arrangement and instead dragged me upwards onto the bed. ‘No time for that… boy. Let’s get to the point.’ He forced my face into the pillow and I began to moan in a way that would make him hard. Perhaps he hoped I’d feel a kind of shame in this, but ‘this’ meant nothing.

‘This’ was merely boring.

Review

Leander is like a ticking time bomb with a propensity for violence and a tendency to bury any emotional response, which may appear to the mere human eye to be a humane reaction or at least one deemed suitable by society. He hides behind the games. Fighting pain with more pain, regardless of whether it is inflicted upon others or done unto him.

To be completely frank I think Lyon has carved out a large piece of his soul and woven it straight into this story.

Leander may describe himself as a psychopath, but perhaps his coping mechanisms are just a little more extreme than those of other people. His physical pain has become the demon wailing inside him and battling to take over. To combat the demon he must distract it by any means necessary. Which means hurting those who purport to love him, destroy and play mind games with the shallow ones merely craving his physical appearance.

It’s a riveting combination of literary fiction meets noir, which brutally kicks the characters aside on occasion to allow for some brash contemporary reality. It is marmite toast served with a chilled glass of champagne. It is the kind of read that ends up on the tips of wagging tongues and achieving cult status.

Jonathan Lyon devours himself, his desires, his fears and his pain whole in this ode to the black hole and Shakespearean play of millennialism. Carnivore is perfused with the wealth of an intellectual mind in constant battle with itself, refusing to be taken prisoner by the borders and boundaries of society or literature.

Are you a carnivore, am I? Are we all destined to be devoured by the hidden insanity and self-destructive tendencies of others or ourselves, whilst sailing along in the interim in our self-inflicted state of stasis, coping and yet barely living.

Yes, it is that kind of read.

Buy Carnivore at Amazon Uk or go to Goodreads for any other retailer.

Out in Paperback 5th April 2018

#BlogTour Half a World Away by Sue Haasler

Today I am thrilled to host the BlogTour for Half A World Away by Sue Haasler featuring a fantastic guest post by Sue Haasler, Titles for Books, and my review.

About the Author

Sue Haasler was born and brought up in Co. Durham and studied English Literature and Linguistics at Liverpool University. After graduating she moved to London and worked for three years as a residential social worker. Since then, she has lived as an administrator for a disability charity, which recruits volunteer carers for disabled adults. Many of the volunteers are from abroad and this is how she met her husband, who is from the former East Berlin.

Sue has written four books, True Colours, Time after Time, Two’s Company (all Orion paperbacks) and Better Than the Real Thing. Two’s Company was optioned for film by Warner Bros. She has been commissioned by the BBC to write an authorized tie-in to Holby City.

She is married with an adult daughter and lives in London.

Follow @pauseliveaction @DomePress

Visit pauseliveaction.wordpress.com

Buy Half A World Away


About the Book

Charming and talented Alex dreams of becoming a professional saxophonist while working long hours in the family bakery. Detlef, lonely, repressed, and a small-time Stasi informer, develops an obsessive love for him. But Alex only has eyes for Nicky, an English woman visiting East Berlin as an au pair.

With no natural outlet for his feelings, Detlef’s passion becomes destructive, his need for approval enmeshed with the latent homophobia of the regime. As Alex’s band becomes more successful, he moves closer to influences considered subversive by a state that has eyes and ears everywhere, and Detlef’s passions threaten to endanger all of them.

Guest Post by Sue Haasler

Titles for books

I never find it easy to come up with titles for my books, so I’ve almost always used song titles that resonate with what the story is about. Previously I’ve used two Cyndi Lauper songs (‘Time After Time’ and ‘True Colours’), and my next book will be ‘Another Girl’ – a song by The Beatles, as it’s set in the swinging sixties.

‘Half A World Away’ is a song by REM from their album Out Of Time, which came out a few years after the events of the book. It’s a song I strongly associate with the period when I would often visit my boyfriend (now my husband) in Berlin, where he was a student. He was born and brought up in East Berlin, so even though it was after German reunification it was mainly the eastern part of the city that I got to know. Whenever I hear that REM song it reminds me of Berlin.

East Germany in 1987, the time that the book is mainly set, was half a world away from life in Britain or even West Germany – the same, but distinctly different. Young people were interested in the same things as young people anywhere – music, clothes, sex – but their choices and attitudes were shaped by a state that tried to impose order on its citizens through censorship, regulation and by encouraging them to report any transgressions. There are definitely shades of Orwell’s ‘1984’ in the way that the characters in the book find themselves in trouble with the authorities for behaviour that would be completely innocent anywhere else. The main character, Alex, goes on a journey in his attitude to the country he’s known all his life:

“From the airport over there [in West Berlin], you were allowed to go anywhere in the world: New York, New Orleans, Paris, London. No one got sent to prison for saying their government was corrupt or wrong; you could say what you wanted, even write books full of controversial ideas without anyone saying you were a traitor to the state. You could listen to music without being arrested. You could love anyone you wanted to.”

Review

Haasler couldn’t be more right about the now ex-East Germany being half a world away. If you weren’t there to experience it, it is extremely hard to fathom how an entire country, and of course Berlin for example, could be split in half as if there were a river of molten lava flowing between the two sides.

Half a World Away takes place in 1987, a mere two years or so before the fall of The Wall. The years after World War II are actually much more fascinating and troubling, as the plan to divide Germany between the Allies slowly took on an appearance, and the country was split into two separate ones. Even after many decades of becoming one country again there will be an occasional reference made to the division and the difference between the people from the East or the West. One of the favourite terms for the GDR (DDR as it was known in Germany) used by West Germans was, and often still is, Dunkel Deutschland (Dark Germany). Even after so many years the rift still emerges now and again, more so because the GDR was ruled by such an oppressive and strict regime.

The love story between Alex and Nicky is one that would have been frowned upon, and although Haasler describes the minutiae reporting of Detlef very well, in the confines of this story it sometimes appears to be part of his own obsession. However the people in the GDR were encouraged to spy and report on their fellow countrymen and women in this way. A Big Brother society where no deviation from the state rules or plans were allowed. Letters from and to the West were considered inflammatory. Family, lovers, friends and colleagues spied on each other to keep themselves free of suspicion.

The Stasi files can be accessed in Berlin, and quite a few people have requested permission to see who reported whom or why their loved ones or they themselves ended up in prisons or being punished. The State Security Service (Staatssicherheitsdienst, SSD) had many things in common with the previous German regime, a mixture of Gestapo meets KGB.

The author describes the isolation and the lack of development or opportunities for the younger generations really well. Dreams and expectations are weighed up against loyalty and a sense of duty, as opposed to the free thinking minds and paths in life on the other side of Germany. Detlef has trouble adjusting his natural desires to the expectations of the dictatorship he lives in. His choices are rationalised by the rules he is governed by.

Haasler does a fantastic job of balancing the two sides of the coin, and why that broken coin needed to be glued back together. The separation is a distant memory, and yet the consequences are still felt within the country and its people to this day. The author draws an interesting parallel between the political and romantic fallout of this historical separation of mind, matter and state. Simultaneously she keeps the story light-hearted, authentic and free of any political opinions. A riveting read, and a bold combination of love and history.

Buy Half a World Away at Amazon Uk  (Kindle) or go to Goodreads for any other retailer.

Pre-order Buy Half A World Away (Paperback) Pub. Date 12th April 2018 by Dome Press.

Exhibit Alexandra by Natasha Bell

exhibitThis is a stroke of genius in so many ways, and it throws up some interesting questions about ethics and morality. Also about what society expects from women.

Should art be cruel? Are artists allowed free license to create any piece of work they consider to be art? Even if it causes another person pain?

What shines through without any question is the egomaniacal mindset of the performance artist. Where no betrayal, emotion or action is safe from the narcissistic personality of such an artist.

To be quite frank I’m not sure whether the artist or the audiences who lap these so-called performances up are worse. It is all so en vogue, pretentious and the emperor’s new clothes.

Events or performance art such as a bunch of naked people playing tag in a concentration camp gas chamber. Rhythm 0 by Marina Abramović, a performance during which she placed a rose, a feather, a knife, a gun, and more in front of her. Visitors were invited to poke, prod or do anything they liked to her with the objects. Towards the end of the day the interactions became more violent, she and her clothes were cut and someone even put the gun to her head. Or Mao Sugiyama who underwent elective surgery to remove his genitals, then had them cooked and served at a so-called upscale dinner party. Five paying guests were then allowed to taste them.

These are just a few examples, and regardless of what the artist says their intention is, the convoluted inspiration and the supposed results at the end of the art exhibit, some people think it is a step too far. I count myself as one of those people, especially when you have to hurt others to make your point. Not all performance art is art, the majority of it is just inflated egos seeking attention and wanting to be noticed by the masses.

Alexandra does what is expected of her. She is the doting mother and wife, and does everything to make everyone else happy. She does what most women do, she takes a step back when it comes to her own desires, so her husband can succeed in his career. Society expects it and Marc expects it too.

Her need for the extreme outlet isn’t entirely hidden, she makes really crass decisions and has no problem crossing boundaries, because she doesn’t think there are any. If she did those things with my daughters, even as a friend I wouldn’t have any qualms about calling the police or social services. Apparently the rules don’t apply to Alex, which is probably one of reasons she ends up gone. She puts herself into dangerous situations, and yet never expects any consequences.

I enjoyed the conundrum this story represents, and the discussions it will generate.

Bell isn’t afraid to confront her readers with the ugly truth. Personally I think the premise and the title are extremely clever, in fact the connection between the two didn’t even dawn on me till I had read quite a bit of the story. It’s an accusation and a dissection of society at the same time. What lengths will we go to entertain and to be entertained? Where is the cut-off point? When does exhibition equate to entertainment, and when is it a crime?

This is an innovative read, a cruel read, but it is also an eye-opener.

Buy Exhibit Alexandra at Amazon Uk or go to Goodreads for any other retailer.

Follow @byTashB @MichaelJBooks

#BlogTour Among the Branded by Linda Smolkin

It is my pleasure to take part in the BlogTour for Among the Branded by Linda Smolkin. I do enjoy a read that makes the reader think and ask questions. The readers may come away from it with very different experiences, but either way it will be a memorable one.

About the Author

Linda Smolkin always wanted to be a writer—ever since she saw her first TV commercial and wondered how to pen those clever ads. She got her degree in journalism and became a copywriter. Linda landed a job at an ad agency, where she worked for several years before joining the nonprofit world. She’s currently working on her second novel, which will be released in Spring 2018. When not in front of the computer, she’s behind the drums (slightly) annoying her husband, son, and their 70-pound dog.

Follow @lindasmolkin  on Twitter @AuthorLindaSmolkin on Facebook

Visit  lindasmolkin.com

Buy Among the Branded

About the book

What if a 70-year-old letter from World War II changed the course of your life?

While attending Valor of the ’40s, art director Stephanie Britain stumbles upon a flea market selling letters from the war. She buys a handful, hoping they’ll inspire the redesign for a client’s website at her branding and design firm. She’s at first drawn by the lost art of penmanship, but soon discovers a hidden treasure nestled inside declarations of love from homesick soldiers. Stephanie enlists a coworker to translate one and realizes it’s not a love letter after all. When a shocking discovery about a client causes Stephanie to question her principles and dedication to her firm’s business, she’s forced to make a difficult decision—one that could give her peace of mind, yet ruin her career in the process.

Contemporary fiction with a historical touch, AMONG THE BRANDED explores family life, an unexpected friendship, and moral conflicts that make us wonder what’s more important: our livelihood or our beliefs. This moving debut novel by Linda Smolkin is a great addition for readers who enjoy books by Jodi Picoult, Kristin Hannah, and Liane Moriarty.

Review

Among the Branded is a story about family and making emotional connections even when there are no blood ties. When Stephanie buys a vintage love letter at a re-enactment festival called Valor of the 40’s, she finds herself drawn to discover the people mentioned in the letter. The letter is written by a Jewish woman trying to save her family, who are already embarked on their path straight to a certain death, however their then five year old son Isadore was rescued from the hands of the Nazi’s. Stephanie makes it her mission to discover their story and in doing so finds herself making the kind of human connection we all wish for in life.

Stephanie represents each and every one of us. Smolkin has made her main character the collective conscience, which is a bold move in a story some may just wave away as a tale of friendship. It isn’t, whether it is per chance or intentional, the author is asking her readers to acknowledge that the way we react in our generation can perhaps change the repetitive process of human mistakes and history.

Kudos to Smolkin for calling out France by the way. Quite a few countries like to whitewash their involvement in the Holocaust or try to change the narrative of the past. At this very moment Poland is trying to force the world and its own countrymen to accept their new and improved version of their involvement in the atrocities. Let’s wave at Switzerland too. while we’re at it.

For me the most intriguing storyline was the one about business over conscience. Every one of us has a set of morals and ethics we live by, and sometimes we are put in positions where we have to make a choice to follow them or not. In this case it is money vs working with an anti-Semite, a neo Nazi.

You might not be aware of it, but every one of us has probably bought or used the products produced or funded by companies with dark pasts or involved in dubious dealings. Ask yourself whether you would still buy the stylish fountain pen or school pencil if you knew the brand had a Nazi past (Faber-Castell), how about driving a BMW, VW, Audi, Mercedes or bought a Hugo Boss perfume or an article of clothing (those SS suits looked sharp, didn’t they?).

So we have to make a choice whether or not to fund the collaborators or firms like I.G.Farben, who used slave labour and built labour camps near Auschwitz or buy elsewhere because of their contribution to mass murder. To be completely fair one would have to acknowledge that these are historic crimes, but what if the brand was a known fascist, racist or anti-Semite now? Would you still give them your money?

I see outrage when it comes to the use of real fur, mass transports of animals and animal testing. Consumers making a choice to buy elsewhere. I wonder why other causes have more validity than the ones with links to or collaboration with historical war crimes?

We have a choice and a voice, instead of staying silent and letting hate rule our countries we need to step up to the plate and speak out. Let’s not watch the world sit by idly once again, as fascists scaremonger the ill-informed and repeat the past again.

Although Smolkin presents her story softly and with great care not to rock any boats, I believe the dialogue between the lines is one of great clarity. It speaks of kindness, compassion and understanding, whilst drawing a clear boundary in the sand when it comes to hatred.

Buy Among the Branded at Amazon Uk or go to Goodreads for any other retailer.

Pub. date 28th April 2018

#BlogTour A Blindefellows Chronicle by Auriel Roe

Today it is my pleasure to take part in the BlogTour for A Blindefellows Chronicle by Auriel Roe. It is an unusual read, think quaint and quirky with a spark of nostalgia.

About the Author

Blindefellows is my first published novel and is the result of a few years’ worth of quirky scribblings in a stack of notebooks. I wrote the novel I always wanted to read but couldn’t find, partially inspired by my favourite authors, Stella Gibbons, PG Wodehouse and Evelyn Waugh.

In addition to my writing, I am also an artist, from ram-sized pugs to sedate still life. I add a small observation and image to my blog on a daily basis which can be found on my website

Follow @AurielRoe @unbounders Look out for #Blindefellows

Buy A Blindefellows Chronicle

About the book

At midday on 31st August, Sedgewick, the new history master, arrives at Blindefellows, former charity school for poor, blind boys, now a second division private school for anyone who can pay. The naive newcomer is quickly taken under the wing of the rumbustious, philandering Japes, master of physics, who soon becomes something of a mentor, though not in an academic sense.

A Blindefellows Chronicle follows the adventures of Sedgewick, Japes and a handful of other unmarried faculty at an obscure West Country boarding school including the closeted headmaster, Reverend Hareton, stalwart Matron Ridgeway and loathsome librarian, Fairchild.

Review

You can tell that Roe takes her inspiration from classic writers like Wodehouse. The plot reminds me of the old chums sentiment Enid Blyton was known for in her Famous Five and Mallory Towers books, but for an older audience. Think quaint, quirky and nostalgic.

The author takes us through the years 1974 to 2014, following the Blindefellows school, as it embraces modern ideas and moves forward with the times. The introduction of women as upper staff, which causes a lot of friction among the rigid and snooty tutors. The way the students embrace anarchy and stand up for their rights, albeit using stubborn four-legged woolly menaces, who like to chew on rare first edition literature. Viva la Sheep!

I have to say, although it is meant to be a light-hearted read, the author still manages to insert quite a few serious topics into the story. One of those is the class excursion to the sites of World War graveyards, memorials and battle sites. It is a poignant lesson in teaching the young men how many sacrifices previous generations made to make sure the younger generations can live their lives in peace. A subtle reminder that the tutors at the school have their own stories to tell.

The sad tone of the last chapter belies the light-heartedness of the rest, but only because the author brings the story to a conclusion with a sharp slap of reality.

Roe combines a snarky tongue in cheek sense of humour with an aura of the stiff upper lip the British are known for. Which means you get a a strange balance of real and vulnerable characters combined with seemingly absurd situations. It’s this flair for the old masters that makes A Blindefellows Chronicles more than just the average story.

Buy A Blindefellows Chronicle at Amazon Uk or go to Goodreads for any other retailer.

Force of Nature by Jane Harper

force of natureThis is how you do modern crime without the vicious twist. Harper plots like an Agatha, lures you in with the vivid imagery of the location and keeps you dangling on a string for the solution. It’s well-plotted, has a steady pace and the solution isn’t predictable.

Although Aaron Falk is the lead detective and main character Harper doesn’t let him overpower the plot, which is a good thing. Sometimes the personal problems and attitude of a main character can completely consume an intelligent and captivating plot.

Five women go on a hike into the Australian bush, but only four come back out. What seems like an innocent exercise in team-building becomes a battle to survive the elements, and not to knock the living daylights out of each other.

Team-building is neither here nor there when you can’t stand the people you are supposed to work together with as a team. So when difficulties arise you are more likely to turn on each other instead of helping each other to achieve a common goal.

Alice isn’t really very popular with her colleagues. She looks out for herself in life and her career. She is the grown-up version of a mean girl. There are plenty of reasons to dislike Alice in general, there are plenty of reasons for the other four women to dislike Alice, so when they come back and she doesn’t the suspicion falls on all of them equally.

Harper is adept at giving the reader the sense of being right there in the bush with those women. Every tree looks the same, every path looks like the one before, and it is easy to feel as if you’re being swallowed alive by nature. This is an excellent example of how dangerous the Australian bush is, despite civilisation only being a spit away in this case.

The author writes a captivating read, and it certainly keeps the reader riveted until the end.

Buy Force of Nature at Amazon Uk or go to Goodreads for any other retailer.

Follow @janeharperautho @LittleBrownUK