#BlogTour Big Sister by Gunnar Staalesen

It’s an absolute pleasure to take part in the BlogTour for Big Sister, which is book 20 in the Varg Veum series by Gunnar Staalesen (translation by Don Bartlett). It is Nordic Noir meets modern day crime, and it changes the perception of Scandinavian countries. Forget the image of the easygoing and law-abiding people, immerse yourself in the darker side of the Nordic people.

About the Author

Gunnar Staalesen was born in Bergen, Norway in 1947. He made his debut at the age of 22 with Seasons of Innocence and in 1977 he published the first book in the Varg Veum series. He is the author of over 20 titles, which have been published in 24 countries and sold over five million copies.

Twelve film adaptations of his Varg Veum crime novels have appeared since 2007, starring the popular Norwegian actor Trond Epsen Seim, and a further series is being filmed now. Staalesen, who has won three Golden Pistols (including the Prize of Honour) and the Petrona Award, and been shortlisted for the CWA Dagger, lives in Bergen with his wife.

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Translation by Don Bartlett

Buy Big Sister

About the book

PI Varg Veum receives a surprise visit in his office from a woman who introduces herself as his half-sister, and she has a job for him. Her god-daughter, a nineteen-year-old trainee nurse from Haugesund, moved from her bedsit in Bergen two weeks ago. Since then no one has heard anything from her. She didn’t leave an address. She doesn’t answer her phone. And the police refuse to take her case seriously.

Veum’s investigation uncovers a series of carefully covered-up crimes and pent-up hatreds, and the trail leads to a gang of extreme bikers and to a shadowy group, whose dark actions are hidden by the anonymity of the Internet. And then things get personal…

Chilling, shocking and exceptionally gripping, Big Sister reaffirms Gunnar Staalesen as one of the world’s foremost thriller writers.

Review

Varg seemed a little less cantankerous in this book and a lot more amicable. I suppose discovering that the mother you thought you knew isn’t the woman everyone else remembers is a bit of a surprise, and finding out you have a half-sister to boot is a wee bit of a shock.

Norma turns up out of the blue to tell him they are related and to ask Varg whether he will look for her missing god-daughter Emma. He instinctively feels compelled to help, despite the fact his sister is vague and secretive about the facts concerning Emma and her disappearance.

Once again Varg finds himself embroiled in the dangerous world of criminal biker gangs. The only difference this time is the fact a crime committed many decades ago becomes the catalyst in this violent and brutal storyline, at the same time it is also a very emotional one.

Staalesen subtly highlights the often fragile relationships between family members and the instinctual call of blood. Can a stranger become more than that within a short period of time just because they share DNA or a blood relationship with you? The revelation of Norma and her secret existence makes Varg wonder about his own truth, which is further amplified when a cousin suggests his own past may not be as straightforward as he was led to believe.

All the revelations make him even more determined to find the young girl noone seems to be looking for. She has simply slid off the radar and now the only person trying to find her is Varg, and he wouldn’t be the ‘doesn’t give a hoot’ kind of guy readers have come to appreciate if he didn’t accidentally stumble upon more nefarious crimes during the execution of his job.

Staalesen presents us with a softer and more reflective Varg this time. Don’t get me wrong, he still portrays him as a person possessed when it comes to sniffing out the truth and getting justice for victims, but this time he is less grumpy and sarcastic about it all.

It is Nordic Noir meets modern day crime, and it changes the perception of Scandinavian countries a wee bit. Forget the image of the easygoing and law-abiding people, immerse yourself in the darker side of the Nordic people. It’s emotional without being soppy, whilst taking the reader on an action packed ride. The author doesn’t placate the reader with happy endings, instead he forces them to stare into the face of reality.

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

Paperback pub date 20 June 2018

Publisher Orenda books orendabooks.co.uk

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#BlogTour A Fatal Obsession by Faith Martin

Today it is my turn on the BlogTour A Fatal Obsession by Faith Martin. It has the charm of a popular television police procedural combined with the plotting of an old master of crime.

About the Author

Faith Martin is an English author who was born in Oxford. She lives in an Oxfordshire village. She is best known for her popular detective series, starring Detective Inspector (DI) Hillary Greene. She began her writing career as Maxine Barry. She also writes under the pen names, Joyce Cato and Jessie Daniels.

Follow @FaithMartin_Nov @HQDigitalUk @HQStories

Buy A Fatal Obsession

About the book

The start of a brand new series from the global bestselling author of the DI Hillary Greene series.

Oxford, 1960. There’s a murderer on the loose and two unlikely heroes are poised to solve the case.

Meet Probationary WPC Trudy Loveday – smart, enthusiastic and always underestimated. In the hope of getting her out of the way, Trudy’s senior officer assigns her to help coroner Clement Ryder as he re-opens the case of a young woman’s death. She can’t believe her luck – she is actually going to be working on a real murder case.

Meanwhile, the rest of the police force are busy investigating a series of threats and murders in the local community, and Clement can’t help but feel it’s all linked. As Trudy and Clement form an unlikely partnership, are they going to be the ones to solve these crimes before the murderer strikes again?

Review

If you took a young Jane Tennison and a grumpy Judge John Deed and threw them in a police procedural together, then you would get the equivalent of Ryder and Loveday. Trudy is one of the first WPCs on the force, which means having to endure constant put-downs, sexism and just an overall attitude of not being wanted.

The majority of her male colleagues think women are too weak and stupid to be able to work as a police officer. More often than not she finds herself delegated to the role of tea and coffee lady, and never receives any recognition for the actual police work she does.

Trudy jumps at the chance to work with Clement Ryder, a coroner with a keen nose for liars and hidden crimes. When a man, with a reputation to lose, receives threats that turn into actual crimes it reawakens the interest Clement had in an old case. He uses Trudy to do his digging, and she ends up creating a rockslide.

Martin writes a pithy plot with characters readers will want to revisit. I particularly enjoyed the way Martin highlights the daily chauvinism and major obstacles Trudy has to overcome to be taken seriously, and to be seen as equal member of the police force.

In the 21st century it’s hard for women who are lucky enough not to have the same obstacles, to be able to fathom how difficult it must have been over half a century ago for women entering male dominated careers. Not that there isn’t still a level of inequality or sexism in our day and age, but it’s nothing compared to then. Women like Trudy paved the path for others to walk upon.

The author keeps it simple, and yet simultaneously intriguing with a flair of a popular television police procedural. It’s about good old footwork, questioning and overlooked evidence. Where Ryder and Loveday are concerned it’s all about the niggle of doubt, the flicker of suspicion, and of course the ability to prove your theory. No matter how outlandish it may seem.

Buy A Fatal Obsession at Amazon Uk or go to Goodreads for any other retailer.

Kindle pub date 11 June 2018 Paperback pub date 4 July 2018

Publisher: HQ Digital, Harper Collins UK

#BlogTour Pretty Little Things by T.M.E. Walsh

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Today it is a pleasure to host the BlogTour for Pretty Little Things by T.M.E. Walsh. It is truly a wicked psychological thriller, in every sense of the word. Walsh really knows how to keep readers hooked.

About the Author

Tania (T. M. E.) Walsh is the author of the DCI Claire Winters series. Tania began writing full time after becoming a casualty to the recession in late 2008.

The first DCI Claire Winters book, ‘For All Our Sins’, was originally published in February 2011. When the rights reverted back to the author, the novel then underwent a re-write.

Tania went on to successfully self-publish ‘For All Our Sins’, and the second novel in the series, ‘The Principle of Evil’, in 2013. Both novels appeared in the various best-selling Amazon Kindle charts, before being picked up by HQ Digital – a division of HarperCollins – in 2015.

‘For All Our Sins’ was published in September 2015, ‘The Principle of Evil’ in February 2016, and ‘Trial by Execution’ followed in February 2017, all published by HarperCollins.

Tania lives in Hertfordshire with her husband and young daughter.

Follow @tmewalsh @HQStories @HQDigitalUK

Follow facebook.com/tmewalsh

Visit tmewalsh.com

Buy Pretty Little Things

About the book

It’s bad when the girls go missing. It’s worse when the girls are found.

Six months ago, Charlotte almost lost everything. Now, she’s determined to keep her daughter, Elle, safe. So when local girls close to Elle in age and appearance begin to go missing, it’s her worst nightmare.

Charlotte’s fears are confirmed when a frantic search becomes a shocking murder investigation. The girls’ bodies have been found – half-buried, and with traces of mud and wildflowers under their fingernails.

As Charlotte’s obsession with keeping her daughter close pushes her marriage to the brink, local DI Madeleine Wood embarks on a gruelling search for the killer. And, as they dig deeper into the lives of the people they call friends and neighbours, they uncover secrets more terrible than they ever imagined…

Review

Nice one.

Seriously, it’s a wicked plot. The solution comes completely out of left field, it’s a bit like being slapped unexpectedly up the side of the head with a really fat wet kipper, and then just standing there completely dumbstruck. *Bows down to the author*

It’s fair to say that things haven’t been the same for Charlotte since she was involved in a nearly fatal accident a few months ago. Her face is scarred, which makes her feel insecure, and her memory is as reliable as a leaky tap. The difference is you can fix or replace a tap, whereas Charlotte can’t be fixed and sometimes has no idea whether she is coming or going.

Her insecurities and post-traumatic stress have become consistently worse, especially because she refuses to seek any medical attention. Her husband has started to look elsewhere for comfort, her daughter resents the control issues her mother has, and Charlotte herself has become too attached to the man who saved her life.

Everything comes to a head when the corpses of young girls are found. There is a predator on the loose and Charlotte is determined to make sure her daughter doesn’t become one of his next victims, because the killer has already struck too close to home for comfort.

Walsh writes a compelling piece of crime with fascinating characters, and the plotting is done with an almost criminal air of nonchalance. With a kind of cheeky disregard for what the reader might have been expecting, which is incredibly clever from a plot perspective.

I will definitely be reading more by this author in future. I always appreciate a devious mind and a storyteller who is willing to bend the rules in order to deliver a read one won’t easily forget. It messes with your head, but in a nice evil way.

Buy Pretty Little Things at Amazon Uk or go to Goodread for any other retailer.

#BlogTour Body Heat by Candy Denman

Today I am delighted to take part in the BlogTour Body Heat by Candy Denman. This is the second part of the Jocasta Hughes series. A crime mystery with a main character who likes to meddle and dig until she finds the truth.

About the Author

Candy Denman is a Crime and TV script writer of programmes such as The Bill, Heartbeat and Doctors. Author of the Dr Jocasta Hughes crime series set in Hastings.

Follow @CrimeCandy @CrimeSceneBooks

Buy Body Heat

About the book

Dr Jocasta Hughes is faced with a gruesome series of murders which leave the remains of the victims twisted and charred. The hunt heats up for the arsonist, and so does Jo’s relationship with the exasperating DI Miller. A chilling mystery with lead characters you want to spend more time with, and a murderer you definitely want to avoid.

Review

I think Jocasta tends to be a meddler. She inserts herself into situations she doesn’t belong in, and although her intentions may be good, she often makes certain situations worse.

I get the whole unrequited love or insurmountable obstacles between Miller and Jo is a wee bit hypocritical, especially given the reason why this particular killer might be killing. She is the ‘other’ woman, even if it is just on an emotional level. It is the easy way out for someone who tends to stay away from serious relationships.

Jo also tends to ignore boundaries and rules, as if they apply to everyone except her. Whilst that may seem like an endearing and mischievous personality trait, it is also detrimental to her in a professional capacity and her patients. Even when others, including the more vulnerable, are giving her clear signals that she should watch those boundary issues, she still persists on pushing on through.

Denman does make a valid point when it comes to vulnerable people and the police. They are more likely to confess to any crime if put under enough pressure, which is why they need proper representation and support. Their vulnerability doesn’t mean they can’t be guilty of a crime, but they are more likely to be coerced into believing they have committed one.

The main character is an interesting contrast between an irritating meddler and persistent do-gooder. Her heart is in the right place, however her mind and physical presence are usually pursuing the truth with no regard for her own safety. This is a fascinating ploy from a plot perspective, because Jo has more flaws than a faulty product.

This is a story with an overpowering main character, who is determined to solve every problem or mystery in her vicinity, with a sideline of crime. It is compelling and harsh without relying on a certain level of violence to create a gripping plot. Given the ending I am interested to see where the author takes Jo and Miller in the next book.

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

Publisher: Crime Scene Books ( pub. date 24 May 2018) crime-scene-books.com

#BlogTour Dead Girls by Graeme Cameron

Today it really is my absolute pleasure to take part in the BlogTour for Dead Girls by Graeme Cameron. Dead Girls is the sequel to the successful psychological thriller Normal. When I read Normal in 2015 I knew Cameron was one of the as yet small group of writers willing to extend and break the boundaries of the crime genre.

About the Author

Graeme Cameron is the bestselling author of Normal and its sequel, Dead Girls. He was born, raised and remains in Norfolk, where he juggles writing with a career in the motorsport industry. He is assisted in procrastinating by four children and such high-octane pursuits as photography, boardgaming, toy restoration, crochet, and bingeing on Netflix

Follow @GNCameron @HQStories

Visit graeme-cameron.com

Buy Dead Girls

About the book

I may not remember everything, but I know he won’t hurt anyone else. I won’t let him. 

It’s been two months since a serial killer brutally attacked police detective Alisha Green and left her for dead. Two months since she could effortlessly recall simple things, since her mind felt remotely sound. The nameless killer thinks he knows her, thinks she’s just another dead girl among many. Ali Green plans to show him he’s dead wrong about that.

Ali has two enemies now: the dangerous man she’s hunting and her own failing memory. As explosive new evidence comes to light and conflicting accounts from a witness and a surviving victim threaten both her investigation and her credibility, she begins to question what is and isn’t real. And now Ali has no choice but to remember the past…before it buries her.

A hypnotically gripping thriller that proves internationally bestselling author Graeme Cameron is one of the most unique voices in contemporary fiction today.

Review

This is the sequel to Normal (published 2015). It can be read as a standalone novel, because Cameron fills in enough of the blanks to be able to do that without it taking over this story or being repetitive. It starts off where the previous book ended, which was in the middle of an epic showdown between the discovery of an alleged serial killer, one of his victims and the police.

I absolutely recommend reading the first in this series, but not necessarily because it is the book that explains the events which continue to unfold in this book. I recommend reading it, because it is an exceptional and innovative read that stands out from the crowd. The whole reading experience of Normal takes place through the eyes, ears and narrative of the killer, the killer without a name or identity.

I was surprised the author decided to take this spectacular premise a step further, and yet also intrigued by the idea of how it could be accomplished. Needless to say I wasn’t disappointed. Once again Cameron delivers a sublime plot and intricately planned scenarios, dialogues and characters. At some points it is so convincing I’m not even sure he is absolutely sure or aware of the truth, and he is the one writing the story.

Although Ali is still suffering from the physical limitations caused by the attack at the end of the first book, unfortunately both her long and short term memory are letting her down, she is absolutely certain her theory is correct. No matter what the evidence suggests, she believes Erica is and was a victim, and that somewhere out there That Man is controlling the narrative of the investigation.

It makes her look incompetent and as if she is unable to cope. She knows her gut instinct is the best compass in a situation where her injuries have left her adrift at sea. Is it all in her mind, is she seeing conspiracy theories where there are none? Is Ali just in denial about the fact that a young girl has been traumatised to the extent that she is emulating the man who kept her in a cage?

At the moment Cameron doesn’t get the attention he deserves as a crime fiction writer. He has a natural instinct for creating suspense and tension. At times he makes you want look over your shoulder, just to make sure there isn’t anyone lurking in the shadows. In fact I might just stop using my rear view mirror, just saying.

It is a complex, twisted and fast-paced story. It will keep you on your toes and perhaps make you doubt what you know to be true. One of the most important characters controls everything like a Master of puppets without ever being present at all. I just love the whole premise of this series. it’s a stroke of genius.

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

Publisher Harper Collins UK, Pub. date 31 May 2018

Read my review of Normal by Graeme Cameron

#BlogBlitz The TV Detective by Simon Hall

tvfinal

Today it is my pleasure to take part in the Blog Blitz for The TV Detective by Simon Hall. The author brings two unlikely characters together, who become a rather interesting crime-fighting duo.

Simon Hall

About the Author

Simon Hall is an author and journalist. He has been a broadcaster for twenty five years, mostly as a BBC Television and Radio News Correspondent, covering some of the biggest stories Britain has seen.

His books – the tv detective series – are about a television reporter who covers crimes and gets so involved in the cases he helps the police to solve them. Seven have been published. Simon has also contributed articles and short stories to a range of newspapers and magazines, written plays, and even a pantomime.

Alongside his novels and stories, Simon is a tutor in media skills and creative writing, teaching at popular Writers’ Summer Schools such as Swanwick and Winchester, on cruise ships and overseas.

Simon has also become sought after as a speaker, appearing at a variety of prestigious literary festivals. His talks combine an insight into his writing work, along with some extraordinary anecdotes from the life of a television reporter, including the now notorious story of What to do when you really need a dead otter.

Now 49 years old, he began a broadcasting career as a DJ on the radio and in nightclubs, then moved into radio and TV news. He worked in Europe, London, Ireland, and the south west of England, before settling in Cambridge.

Simon is married to Jess, Director of Libraries at the University of Cambridge, and has an adopted daughter, Niamh. She’s an army officer, which makes her father both very proud and very nervous.

Simon lectures on careers in the media at Cambridge University, and in schools and colleges. Amongst his proudest achievements, he includes the number of young people he has helped into jobs in broadcasting, and aspiring writers into publication.

As for his likes, Simon lists beer – he judges at real ale festivals – cycling the countryside, solving cryptic crosswords, composing curious Tweets (find him @thetvdetective ) and studying pop lyrics.

Follow @SimonHallNews @fahrenheitpress

Visit Simon’s AmazonAuthor Page

Visit Simon’s website: thetvdetective.com

Buy The TV Detective direct from Fahrenheit Press

the tv dete12

About the book

Dan Groves is a television reporter newly assigned to the crime beat and not at all happy about it.

Dan knows next nothing about police work or how to report on it so when he persuades Detective Chief Inspector Adam Breen to allow him to shadow a high-profile murder inquiry it seems like the perfect solution though it soon becomes clear some members of the police force have no intention of playing nice with the new boy.

With his first case Dan is dropped in at the deep-end. A man is killed in a lay-by with a blast through the heart from a shotgun. The victim is a notorious local businessman, Edward Bray, a man with so many enemies there are almost too many suspects for the police to eliminate.

As tensions rise between Dan and the police he comes close to being thrown off the case until the detectives realise that far from being a liability, Dan might actually be the key to tempting the murderer into a trap.

The TV Detective is the first book in a classic crime series from Simon Hall, who until recently was the BBC Crime Correspondent for the Devon and Cornwall area.

The TV Detective cover

Review

Dan Groves is thrown into the thick of it, when he finds himself reassigned to the crime desk and in the midst of a murder investigation. I think Dan is quite surprised when he starts to enjoy the assignment that has been more or less forced upon him. Going from news on the environment to stories about crime is a big career change, although to be fair there is a lot of environmental crime nowadays. Dan has a natural instinct for the world of crime and criminals.

It’s interesting how Dan seems to struggle at times between his journalistic instincts and trying to solve the crime. The choice between getting the story or catching the guilty person is one he struggles with. He also finds parallels between himself and the lead detective, and I believe he is surprised by the occasional weakness he sees in Breen.

Hall has linked two unusual characters, Breen and Groves would usually be on opposite sides of the fence in a police procedural. A journalist chasing a good story, and the police officer in charge of solving the crime and keeping the majority of the details out of the press.

It is a premise with a lot of potential. This crime-fighting duo is like pairing a Holmes with a Holmes, there is no Watson in this equation, both are equally skilled in solving cases. The author makes his characters humane by showing their vulnerabilities, despite showcasing their talents for solving crimes. There is also a frivolity about their interactions, which is seen throughout the story, and a feeling of a growing friendship.

I enjoyed the way the author bounces the solutions between the two characters, almost like a game of tag-you’re-it. Dan has epiphanies, but he never quite figures out the whole picture – enter Adam. It’s fun, filled with banter and it is a well-plotted crime.

Buy The TV Detective at Amazon Uk or go to Goodreads for any other retailer.

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#BlogTour Paul McGraw: Kid to Killer by Paul Elliott

Today it is my turn on the BlogTour for Kid to Killer by Paul Elliott. It is the story of a boy with a strong sense of justice, which evolves into vigilantism. One could argue that one man’s justice is another man’s murder.

About the Author

Paul Elliott, born in Edinburgh in 1974 is the creator and writer of the book Paul McGraw: Kid To Killer which is available now on the kindle store

Having grown up in some of the roughest areas of Edinburgh and leaving Wester Hailes Education Centre after year one with no qualifications, he joined the army as a junior officer at 15 years old but very quickly realised it wasn’t for him.

Paul then moved onto being a nightclub bouncer, debt collector, personal security provider and car dealer before trying his hand at writing a novel.

Twitter @EdinburghAuthor

Facebook: Paul Elliott/Author

About the book

A fifteen year old boy sees it as his duty to rid Edinburgh of the scum that prey on the innocent people of the city. He finds that to punish the guilty he must first face fear,loss and betrayal.

He will soon discover things aren’t always as they seem, and there are other people who have uses for a young killer as well as bigger forces at play.

Review

A fifteen year old kid, who believes he can solve the problems of the world or at least those of Edinburgh by taking out dangerous criminals one at a time. A belief born out of having to learn how to survive in a dog eat dog world, and a world full of bullies.

I am fairly certain that the idea of being a vigilante and dispersing of all the dangerous elements of society aka kill them, is one which passes through quite a few minds occasionally, then again that might just be me. The most obvious danger in that is who decides which criminal is on the hit-list, and how do you decide. I would think it would be an easy decision to kill rapists, serial killers, child molesters and mass killers, but who draws the line and where? Who decides which crime fits the ultimate definitive punishment?

The argument is similar to for and against the death penalty. What happens if you kill an innocent person, does an eye for an eye really equate to real justice? I won’t weigh in with my personal opinion on vigilantism or the death penalty. Justice systems are flawed, which is how murderers end up on back on the street and killing again, and also how many innocent men and women spend decades behind bars.

In this scenario you also have to wonder who is being put on the hit-list by whom and why. Is there some ulterior motive behind specific names. More importantly what makes the self-appointed vigilante more able or knowledgeable to make those choices.

Elliott presents a premise quite a few readers will nod their heads at, but there will also be a lot of shaking of heads. In that sense it will create discussion and debate. It is the story of a boy with a strong sense of justice, which evolves into vigilantism. One could argue that one man’s justice is another man’s murder. It could do with a little polish and smoothing of the edges, but I expect that will come with a honing of skills. Kid to Killer is the first in the series, so it will be interesting to see where the author takes this vigilante.

Buy Paul McGraw: Kid to Killer at Amazon Uk or go to Goodreads for any other retailer.

Pub. date 2nd June 2018