The Critic by Peter May


As always Peter May has created a fascinating plot with an abundance of knowledge. This story is centred around wine production and the wine industry.

Enzo is drawn into the middle of a cold case that has just become smoking hot. The body of a wine critic, who disappeared a few years ago in France has suddenly turned up in the middle of a vineyard.

Enzo is known for being like a dog with a bone when it comes to cold cases. The so-called unsolvable ones, the ones with hardly any clues. Well, this case has just taken a turn for the better, if you can call finding a body or two better.

I have to say the information about the production and history of wine making was quite interesting, especially the comparison of the processes then and now. The modern-day process has become scientific and sterile. The taste of wine can be broken down into the smallest detail and reproduced this way, whereas the old guard still places the emphasis on the territory it is grown in.

The worlds of old and new collide in this murder mystery with the wine taking centre stage. Enzo follows the complicated trail of clues, bodies, family history and romantic entanglements to the surprising conclusion of this murderous page turner.
I received a copy of this book via NetGalley.

The Lewis Man by Peter May

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Every time I come away from a Peter May book I always find that I have taken some information from it that I didn’t know before. He always manages to create a subtle mixture of fiction and historical fact. May likes to wade in the complicated layers of genealogy and family dynamics. In The Lewis Man he creates a fascinating crime with a hefty layer of emotions and family secrets.

It isn’t that uncommon for grandparents or parents to keep certain parts of their lives completely secret from their children or grandchildren. It might be because the pain and memories are hard to bear or perhaps the secrets are kept to keep the next generations safe.

In this case Fin Macleod’s baby mama finds out that her father isn’t who she thought he was. The body of a young man has been discovered in a peat bog. Perfectly preserved, and a DNA match to Tormod MacDonald.

May has the reader wander between the past and the present. Following young Tormod before he became Tormod, and the old Tormod to try to discover who killed the bog boy. It isn’t quite as easy as it sounds, because Tormod is suffering from dementia, so retrieving information from his muddled brain becomes quite difficult.

I liked the way May integrated the dementia story into the mystery. He shows the difficulty, the pain, the emotional upheaval and the complete desperation of all the people involved. There is no candy coating of some of the more harsh reactions to the disease, which is an honest and realistic approach to the issue.

Once again May also highlights dark mistakes made in certain eras that tend to be swept under the carpet. The displacement, relocation, dumping and mistreatment of orphan children, who were scattered in large numbers over the Scottish Isles.
As always it was a very good read.
I received a copy of this book via Edelweiss, courtesy of the publisher.

Read more about the first book in this series The Blackhouse.

Kathleen McGurl

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Kathleen McGurl is a writer of short stories, novels and how-to-write books. She lives by the sea in Bournemouth with her husband and teen son 2. Teen son 1 is away at university. When not writing she is either working at the day-job (IT for a large retail organisation) or running along the Bournemouth prom, slowly.

She has sold dozens of stories to women’s magazines in the UK and Australia. Her how-to-write books and a romantic novella are available as ebooks from Amazon. Her first full-length novel, The Emerald Comb, was published by Carina UK on 22nd September 2014, and her second, The Pearl Locket, is available for pre-order, to be released on 27th February 2015.

(bio provided by the author)

To connect with Kathleen on Twitter: @KathMcGurl

Or to find out more about Kathleen McGurl and her books, go visit

Read more about The Emerald Comb, The Pearl Locket and The Daughters of Red Hill Hall:


The Emerald Comb is a story of betrayal, murder and the hidden mysteries of genealogy. Katie finds out more than she wants to know, but once opened the content of Pandora’s box can never be unseen. Read more here






Ali inhdownload (26)erits both a house and the family secrets. The type of secrets that destroy families, and in this case even threaten to break up her own. Read more here









The Daughters of Red Hill Hall is about history repeating itself. The echoes of betrayal, jealousy and envy are transported through time. Imprinted on two duelling pistols. Will they cause another tragedy in the present? Read more here.

The Pearl Locket by Kathleen McGurl

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This story actually reminded me a lot of my own genealogy research. Similar to Ali and Kelly, I also found out that my grandmother had secrets she had kept from her children and grandchildren, during her entire lifetime as a mother and grandmother.

In Ali’s case the secrets seem to be embedded in the house she has just inherited, almost as if something or someone there is still waiting to be acknowledged or to get some closure.

The presence is so strong that it starts to cause changes in the family. One specific person starts to melt back into the memories, behaviour and emotions of the mysterious presence.

The author takes us from the past to the present, from one chapter to another, letting the story of the past unfold into the lives of those in the house. The reader gets a glimpse of the love and also despair that once vibrated through the walls.The young girl surrounded by family and yet completely alone, oppressed by the strict father and his rules, which ultimately leads to unexpected and tragic events.

Ali has very sexist views when it comes to Kelly. She has to keep herself from blaming her daughter for the fact Kelly’s boyfriend broke up with her, because of her taste in clothes. Dressing like a girl from the 1940’s, ergo too fuddy duddy and not fashionable enough for him to remain interested.

That isn’t the kind of message you want to relay to a daughter, as a mother. Even the fact Ali thinks that way, even if she doesn’t voice it, is quite strange. Perhaps Ali is more like her grandfather than she realises or is history repeating itself on a very subtle level? Is there more than one ghostly echo in the property?

McGurl really likes to weave her stories within the folds of family relationships, secrets and genealogy. Mixing heartbreak with romance to create a pleasant and inviting read,
I received a copy of this book courtesy of the author and Carina UK.

Buy The Pearl Locket at Amazon UK or go to Goodreads for any other retailer.

Read The Emerald Comb or The Daughters of Red Hill Hall by Kathleen McGurl.
Read about Kathleen McGurl here.

Follow @KathMcGurl  @HQStories @HQDigitalUK


Read The Girl from Ballymor by Kathleen McGurl

Entry Island by Peter May

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What I enjoy most about Peter May’s writing is the way he manages to move the reader right into the landscape he is describing. He also knows exactly how to portray the mindset of an islander.

There is a flair of melodrama to the genealogy side of the story. Perhaps a tad too much.

The love story is sweet and gives the author liberty to bring an important part of history into the book.

The evacuation of Scottish tenants by their landlords, from quite a few of the Isles. Many of them ended up on ships sailing for Canada, and having to go via Entry Island before entering the country.

Entry Island was used to quarantine the sick and contagious immigrants arriving via ship. Many thousands didn’t survive and were buried in mass graves on the island.

May also references the potato famine, pointing out the important fact that not only the Irish, also the Scottish fell foul of this particular period in history. It is little wonder there was a mass exodus from both Ireland and Scotland to other continents.

I thought the mixture of police procedure, genealogy, romance and fate didn’t gel as well as it could have in the story. The ill-fated love connecting in the future via descendants was a little overdone, as were some of the aspects of the first Sime’s tales.

The despair, darkness and marital woes of the 21st century Sime makes up for the imbalance between the two story-lines. Despite these hiccups, May is certainly an author worth reading.

I received a copy of this book via Edelweiss.