Insidious Intent by Val McDermid

Insidious intentI don’t think I have ever read such an unusual request by an author in an actual book. I have read impassioned pleas on social media and in blog posts, but never as an add-on author’s note after the read. I guess it says a lot about how much McDermid wants her readers to enjoy the story completely without any spoilers.

I have to say I can understand why she wants this particular twist and spectacular ending to be experienced during a subjective reading experience.

Carol has ended up on the wrong side of the law. The powers that be made sure that she can still do her job, but that has dire consequences. She is finding it hard to cope with some of her past decisions, which makes her doubt her current actions.

The team are confronted with a meticulous killer. The type, who plans every last detail and pre-empts every possible scenario the police may investigate. Have they finally met their match?

There is a sub-plot in the midst of the serial killer storyline about an issue that happens far too often in this age of social media, so first of all kudos to McDermid for presenting both sides of this particular issue.  I have actually come across a similar scenario at our local high school, just without the blackmail element. Both parents, young adults and teens have difficulty comprehending that sending, receiving, sharing and owning of certain material is also considered a crime when you are a teen. McDermid has created a realistic scenario, which should give some readers some food for thought.

The ending is way out of left field, and it happened so quickly it left me slightly bewildered, and I’m sure I am not the only one who wants to know where the heck do they go from there?

Once again McDermid proves why she is such a revered crime writer.

Buy Insidious Intent at Amazon Uk or go to Goodreads for any other retailers.

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Blog-Tour: House of Spines by Michael J. Malone

spines

Today is my stop on the Blog-Tour for the fabulous House of Spines by Michael J. Malone. Be prepared to be drawn in by this eerie mystery and you may even start to wonder about reality, dreams and hallucinations.What is real and what is taking place in his darkest corners of his mind?

About the Author

Michael Malone is a prize-winning poet and author who was born and brought up in the heart of Burns’ country, just a stone’s throw from the great man’s cottage in Ayr. Well, a stone thrown by a catapult. He has published over 200 poems in literary magazines throughout the UK, including New Writing Scotland, Poetry Scotland and Markings. His career as a poet has also included a (very) brief stint as the Poet-In-Residence for an adult gift shop. Blood Tears, his bestselling debut novel won the Pitlochry Prize (judge: Alex Gray) from the Scottish Association of Writers. Other published work includes: Carnegie’s Call (a non-fiction work about successful modern-day Scots); A Taste for Malice; The Guillotine Choice; Beyond the Rage and The Bad Samaritan. His psychological thriller, A Suitable Lie, was a number one bestseller. Michael is a regular reviewer for the hugely popular crime fiction website crimesquad.com. A former Regional Sales Manager (Faber & Faber) he has also worked as an IFA and a bookseller.

Follow @michaelJmalone1 on Twitter or facebook.com/themichaeljmalonepage

Visit mjmink.wordpress.com

Buy The House of Spines

About the book

Ran McGhie’s world has been turned upside down. A young, lonely and frustrated writer, and suffering from mental-health problems, he discovers that his long-dead mother was related to one of Glasgow’s oldest merchant families. Not only that, but Ran has inherited Newton Hall, a vast mansion that belonged to his great-uncle, who it seems has been watching from afar as his estranged great-nephew has grown up. Entering his new-found home, it seems Great-Uncle Fitzpatrick has turned it into a temple to the written word – the perfect place for poet Ran. But everything is not as it seems. As he explores the Hall’s endless corridors, Ran’s grasp on reality appears to be loosening. And then he comes across an ancient lift; and in that lift a mirror. And in the mirror … the reflection of a woman…

A terrifying psychological thriller with more than a hint of the Gothic, House of Spines is a love letter to the power of books, and an exploration of how lust and betrayal can be deadly…

Buy The House of Spines

Review

Imagine not only inheriting a whole house and the kind of library every bookworm dreams of, imagine inheriting a lifetime of secrets and lies too.

Ran seems to be pleased, and yet at the same time unnerved by Newton Hall. The question is whether his gut instinct is warning him about some danger in the house or are his mental health issues starting to reappear now that he is off his medication. Instead of enjoying being the man of the manor he seems to be looking over his shoulder and jumping at shadows.

I’m just saying I wouldn’t be displeased if someone decided to give me a huge house with a massive library filled with books. I wouldn’t mind putting up with all the weird spooky stuff, the passive-aggressive relatives and the leftover staff from the Adams Family.

Newton Hall has secrets hidden in the walls and in the mirrors. The kind of secrets that haunt and torture people, especially the guilty. Ran is starting to unravel the mysteries or are they starting to slowly unravel him. He is losing his grip on reality, drifting back and forth from moments of lucidity and nightmare scenarios.

Mental health issues play a pivotal role in the plot, which is done in a subtle and a realistic way. The author manages to portray the illness and the way society, and loved ones react to the illness. The constant suspicion, doubt and lack of trust is a constant factor on both sides.

Malone invites the reader into his little shop of horrors and let’s them wrestle with the question of whether the nightmare is real or just the meanderings of a sick man. House of Spines may have a gothic feel to it, but it also has the interesting aura of a Hammer Horror. Some readers might not remember Hammer, however they were renowned for evoking an eerie and haunting sense of horror. The kind of hair on the back of your neck creepy you never quite forget.

The house will drag you in and may not let you go again, well at least not until she gets what she wants.

Buy House of Spines at Amazon Uk or go to Goodreads for any other retailer.

Visit orendabooks.co.uk  Follow @OrendaBooks

The Word is Murder by Anthony Horowitz

the word is murderIf you have read the Magpie Murders by Horowitz then this book won’t seem at all bizarre or unusual. He is an author who likes to think outside the box. His plots are wee bit like Conan Doyle does Schrödinger’s Cat in the form of a murder mystery. While I’m on the subject it is worth mentioning that in 2011 the estate of Arthur Conan Doyle gave Horowitz the official endorsement to write a continuation of the Sherlock Holmes stories.

The Word is Murder more or less features Anthony Horowitz as himself in the main role. It is an interesting way to approach a crime story. I’m sure readers will start to wonder how much is fiction and how much of the actual crime story is fact.

It isn’t until Horowitz actually mentions a few of his accolades that you realise just how accomplished and successful he is. In this scenario his diminishes his success, and plays with the fact he has prominent contacts.

A woman walks into a funeral parlour to plan and arrange her own funeral, and a few hours later she is ready to use the coffin she just bought. Is it just a huge coincidence or did someone end her life prematurely? Well the cord around her neck speaks volumes.

Horowitz is unaware of this particular event until an ex-police detective asks him to write a book about the murder with himself starring as the savvy detective. Horowitz finds it hard to work with this eccentric, obstinate and yet very observant detective, however he can’t help but be pulled into the intriguing story that unfolds in front of him. Hawthorne is like a grumpy Columbo with Sherlock’s deductive skills.

I enjoyed it, just like I really enjoyed the Magpie Murders, because the author isn’t afraid to mix it up and challenge his readers. Thinking outside of the crime and mystery schemata to create unusual and yet captivating reads. The word is murder, but in this case the word is also Horowitz and Hawthorne are the new Watson and Sherlock.

Buy The Word is Murder at Amazon uk or go to Goodreads for any other retailer.

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The Roanoke Girls by Amy Engel

the roanakeThis will be a difficult read for any reader, but especially those who have experienced anything of this nature.

Lane is called back to Kansas when her cousin goes missing. Returning to the place her mother ran from, that Lane ran away from and quite a few other Roanoke girls have run from. There seems to be some reason the women in the family try to escape from the seemingly idyllic ancestral home.

What Engel captures well is the co-dependent relationships in these scenarios. The people and relatives who remain silent, condone and often even facilitate the abuse. She also hits the nail on the head when it comes to the insidious nature of sexual abuse.

In this case it’s grooming in the form of family loyalty, devotion and love.

The reactions of both Lane and Allegra may seem a contradiction at times, however they are a true representation of the complex emotions victims of abuse go through.

To know it’s wrong on a base level and at the same time to crave the love and attention of the abuser, it’s all part of the spider-web of incestuous relationships. In a scenario with multiple children or teens there is also the question of why her/him and not me? Feelings of guilt are mixed with fear, confusion and disgust.

Yates is charming, enigmatic and has all the power in each relationship he has. There is no ugly monster lurking in the shadows or a stranger trying to persuade them into a dark corner. Instead the real monster is a handsome loving father and grandfather. Of course he believes it is just a meeting of the minds and soul-mates. They are simply made for him.

Yes, it is that creepy. At the same time it draws you in, despite the subject matter and the sheer horror of the scenario. The fact that this happens all the time, and isn’t just an outlandish fictional idea, is what makes the plot even more compelling.

Buy The Roanoke Girls at Amazon UK or go to Goodreads for any retailer.

The Binding Song by Elodie Harper

the binding songJanet has her work cut out for her at HMP Halvergate. A series of suicides has rocked the prison and it doesn’t seem as if they are going to stop any time soon.

Not only does she have to deal with the insidious nature of her clients crimes and their questionable characters, she also has to cope with staff members with ulterior motives. Inmates seem convinced that a ghost, a spirit or perhaps even a demon is killing fellow inmates.

The real question is whether the evil spirit is real or is it just mass hysteria. Mass hysteria spreading through the prison from inmate to inmate and also to the staff. The power of suggestion is strong, especially in a somewhat solitary environment.

At the same time Janet is trying to deal with the disintegration of her relationship. It seems impossible to fit two ambitious careers under one roof.

I have to be honest Arun was a bit of a toad and Janet should have used some of that tough guy attitude on him. Take no mercy, instead of being a simpering weakling afraid of being alone. There are plenty more fish in the sea.

What Harper does quite well is to portray the prisoners as vulnerable men, and in the same breath she reminds the reader that they are criminals and some of them are sexual deviants. The type of men who wouldn’t think twice about committing an act of brutality upon an innocent person, and yet still want the support, comfort and safety they secretly crave.

Personally I do think Janet should have been more diligent about her own safety, which was put at risk quite a few times. A prison isn’t a playground for the pseudo intellectual to practice their theoretical knowledge in.

The story has a gothic feel to it, which is mixed with a plain old crime scenario. The creepier element could have been drawn out more and given more depth. Harper brings the crime and the ghostly together to create a tense and often worrying read.

Buy The Binding Song at Amazon Uk or go to Goodreads for any other retailer.

Did You See Melody? by Sophie Hannah

did you see melodyI do appreciate a story with a few hard facts or home-truths.The only downside is that I tend to want to go on about it when an author makes a particularly valid point.

We live in an era where the majority of media outlets is no longer focused on reporting the truth or any semblance of it. Instead fiction becomes fact, fame and notoriety are more important than reporting what really happened. Everyone wants their 15 minutes of celebrity.

The 21st century has seen the rise of TV showmen and women, as opposed to the revered journalists of the 20th century. Nancy Grace is a great example of this gaudy and dangerous phenomenon, and one that is mentioned in the story.

The character of Bonnie Juno is based on the Nancy Grace types of sensationalistic journalism. The facts are twisted to suit the narrative of whomever they have picked to be the target of the day. Interviews become as twisted as twizzlers and as sticky as a fly trap.

In this scenario the guilty party is discovered and proven guilty by trial via public opinion. In the end it doesn’t matter whether there isn’t enough evidence to prove they did it, because the TV viewers have already been told they are guilty. This anything but objective opinion continues on through to the courtroom.

Cara has decided to escape reality and the uncomfortable stress at home by treating herself to a few days in a five star spa hotel in the US. The tired and upset Cara accidentally stumbles upon a man and young girl, only to find out the next day that the young girl in question has been dead for quite a few years. Did she imagine it, is someone having a laugh or is it just a case of mistaken identity? Did she see Melody?

What emerges from this one simple question is a myriad of crimes and even more unanswered questions. Guilt isn’t a clear concept in this story. Would you commit a crime to prevent another? Do you believe the court of public opinion instead of checking all the available facts? Do two wrongs make a right?

I’m sure this story will make readers wonder about the choices they would make if confronted with the same situation. Begs the question whether, in a world full of police states and dictatorships, some of us have to be strong enough to be vigilantes, because the justice systems fails victims on a regular basis.

It’s a read that gives plenty of food for thought.

Buy Did you see Melody at Amazon Uk or go to Goodreads for any other retailer.

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Visit sophiehannah.com #ISawMelody

Reported Missing by Sarah Wray

reported missingOne could argue that the real victim in this scenario is Rebecca. She has committed no crime other than being married to a suspect in the disappearance of a teenage girl. There is no concrete proof other than the fact that both Chris and young Kayleigh vanished on the same day. Does a simple coincidence have more sinister connotations or has Chris been leading a double-life?

The public believes Rebecca has been harbouring a deviant and they also think she supports him. The fact that she is searching for him seems to imply a sort of complicity. Her actions would be perceived as those of a caring and worried wife under other circumstances.

Rebecca starts to admit to herself, as the story progresses, that perhaps her life with Chris wasn’t so picture perfect. She has a selective memory, which is probably why she finds it hard to accept the reality of his betrayal.

As I mentioned before, I think Rebecca is the real victim. She is completely vilified by nearly everyone she encounters, especially a certain group of youngsters. Her life has disintegrated into a fog of sleeping pills and alcohol. Her husband is presumed guilty just based on circumstantial evidence and a heck of a lot of rumours.

Wray has written a cracking read, there is no doubt about that, but I believe she deserves a kudos for perhaps unintentionally calling out the media and society for pointing fingers without proof. For showing the negative aspects of social and mass media where fake news and false rumours are prevalent and reputations are destroyed in the blink of an eye, and the actual truth has become almost inconsequential to the majority of people.

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

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