#BlogTour A Fatal Secret by Faith Martin

It’s my pleasure to take part in the BlogTour A Fatal Secret by Faith Martin. A police procedural with a mystery, and yet at the same time the author melds important topics like sexism and discrimination into the story.

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

Faith Martin has been writing for 30 years. She signed a massive book deal with the publishers Harper Collins/HQ, who have published her Ryder & Loveday novels. All four novels, A Fatal Obsession, A Fatal Mistake, A Fatal Flaw  and A Fatal Secret are available now.

Follow @FaithMartin_Nov @HQDigitalUK @HQStories on Twitter, on Goodreadson AmazonBuy A Fatal Secret

About the book

Oxford, 1961

A family day out at Briar’s Hall ends in tragedy when a young boy goes missing – and his body is found at the bottom of a disused well in the orchard.

It looks like a simple case of an eleven-year-old exploring where he shouldn’t: a tragic accident. But Coroner Clement Ryder and Probationary WPC Trudy Loveday aren’t convinced. If Eddie had been climbing and fallen, why were there no cuts or dirt on his hands? Why would a boy terrified of heights be around a well at all?

Clement and Trudy are determined to get to the truth, but the more they dig into Briar’s Hall and the mysterious de Lacey family who live there, the murkier things become.

Could it be that poor Eddie’s death was murder? There are rumours of blackmail in the village, and Clement and Trudy have a horrible feeling that Eddie stumbled on a secret that someone was willing to kill for…

Review

This is the fourth book in the Loveday and Ryder series. If you’re a fan of slightly eccentric mismatched detective duos then this will probably be right up your street. This story is like an old-fashioned whodunnit, but with a more modern feel to it.

The book starts with the tragic disappearance of a young boy called Eddie. The search comes to an awful conclusion, but fortunately not one that suggests there is a third party involved. Well not until Ryder and Loveday get involved that is, then the accident starts looking a little less accidental and a little more like a crime.

The two of them investigate with their usual intense passion for the truth and for justice. In doing so they turn up more secrets than they were expecting, and not necessarily the truth about Eddie and what led to his death.

WPC Loveday has to battle wars at work, where she is treated like a joke, and at home, where she is expected to conform to expectations. Her parents think she should be getting married and having babies instead of running around solving crimes and putting herself in danger. The only person she feels at ease with, perhaps because he understands and doesn’t judge her, is Ryder.

This series gets better with each book. I get the feeling Martin is just getting started, and to be fair the premise and the characters have plenty of room for development. This sleuthing duo is the kind that has you casting the actors in the television roles. It’s a young Tennison meets a less agitated and more laid back Quincy with a Midsomer Mystery vibe. A police procedural with a mystery, and yet at the same time the author melds important topics like sexism and discrimination into the story. With each book Martin gives more depth to her characters and more complex problems to navigate. It’s an enjoyable read.

Buy A Fatal Secret at Amazon Uk or go to Goodreads for any other retailer. Publisher: HQ Digital; pub date 6 Sept. 2019. Buy at Amazon com.

Read my reviews of A Fatal Obsession and A Fatal Flaw by Faith Martin.

#BlogTour Elevator Pitch by Linwood Barclay

Today it’s my pleasure to take part in the BlogTour for Elevator Pitch by Linwood Barclay

About the Author

Linwood Barclay is an international bestselling crime and thriller author with over twenty critically acclaimed novels to his name, including the phenomenal number one bestseller No Time For Goodbye. Every Linwood Barclay book is a masterclass in characterisation, plot and the killer twist, and with sales of over 7 million copies globally, his books have been sold in more than 39 countries around the world and he count Stephen King, Shari Lapena and Peter James among his many fans.

Many of his books have been optioned for film and TV, and Linwood wrote the screenplay for the film based on his bestselling novel Never Saw It Coming. He is currently working with eOne to turn the Promise Falls trilogy into a series.

Follow @linwood_barclay on Twitter, on Goodreads, Visit linwoodbarclay.comBuy Elevator Pitch

About the book

It all begins on a Monday, when four people board an elevator in a Manhattan office tower. Each presses a button for their floor, but the elevator proceeds, non-stop, to the stop. Once there, it stops for a few seconds, and then plummets. Right to the bottom of the shaft.

It appears to be a horrific, random tragedy. But then, on Tuesday, it happens again, in a different Manhattan skyscraper. And when Wednesday brings yet another high-rise catastrophe, one of the most vertical cities in the world – and the nation’s capital of media, finance, and entertainment – is plunged into chaos.

Clearly, this is anything but random. This is a cold, calculated bid to terrorize the city. And it’s working. Fearing for their lives, thousands of men in women working in offices across the city refuse to leave their homes. Commerce has slowed to a trickle. Emergency calls to the top floors of apartment buildings go unanswered.

Who is behind this? What do these deadly acts of sabotage have to do with the fingerless body found on the High Line? Two seasoned New York detectives and a straight-shooting journalist must race against time to find the answers…

Review

I have had a healthy distrust of elevators since De Lift (1983) came out. Much like this plot is takes the innate distrust we have, or a some of us have at times, when it comes to trusting in a higher authority called engineering, mechanics, gravity and technology. Barclay plays a little with the blind faith we put in certain things. Our lives are filled with items, vehicles and mechanisms that make our lives easier, and because of that we don’t think twice before using them.

Not that I am advocating climbing eighty flights of stairs either, just to be clear.

There is one part of the book, a short poignant one, when one person reacts by having flashbacks to 9-11. The people who work in One World Trade Center must have to cope with incredible anxiety and shove away their fear on a daily basis.

Aside from the elevators acting as if they have a life of their own and murderous intent towards the general population, the city is also under siege from a terrorist cell. The question is whether the attacks and the lift accidents are linked in any way. A journalist seems to think that the solution lies a little closer to home. The problem is she is too personally invested in that actually being the case.

Barclay takes an object that is used by millions of people every day and turns it into a weapon of mass destruction. It’s perfect, the majority of buildings have at least one, especially in cities that are built vertically, as opposed to horizontally. You don’t have to load it – you just need to fill it.

It’s a crime thriller that plays with our innate fears and destroys the blind trust we rely on every day.

Buy Elevator Pitch at Amazon Uk or go to Goodreads for any other retailer. Publisher: HQ; pub date 5th September 2019 – £20 Hardback – £9.99 eBook – 12.99 Audio Download. Buy at Amazon com.

#BlogTour The Stranger Game by Peter Gadol

Today it’s my turn on the BlogTour The Stranger Game by Peter Gadol. It’s a dark psychological thriller, an intense and captivating innovative read.

About the Author

Peter Gadol is the author of seven novels including The Stranger ame, Silver Lake, Light at Dusk, and The Long Rain. His work has been translated for foreign editions and appeared in literary journals, including StoryQuarterly, the Los Angeles Review of Books Quarterly Journal, and Tin House. Gadol lives in Los Angeles, where he is Chair and Professor of the MFA Writing program at Otis College of Art and Design.

Follow @PeterGadol on Twitter, on Amazonon Goodreads, Visit petergadol.com,

Buy The Stranger GameAbout the book

Rebecca’s on-again, off-again boyfriend, Ezra, has gone missing, but when she notifies the police, they seem surprisingly unconcerned. They suspect he has been playing the ‘stranger game,’ a viral hit in which players start following others in real life, as they might otherwise do on social media.

But as the game spreads, the rules begin to change, and disappearances are reported across the country.

Curious about this popular new obsession, and hoping that she might track down Ezra, Rebecca tries the game for herself. She also meets Carey, who is willing to take the game further than she imagined possible. In playing the stranger game, what leads Rachel closer to finding Era will take her further and further from the life she once lived..

Review

Gadol will probably need to take responsibility if this actually does become a ‘thing’ somewhere. If some readers decide this might be an excellent game to play. Or is this already a thing? I hope not.

After this read I know I will be looking at everyone with a different set of eyes. Is that car following me? Is the woman in the shop picking cat food or just pretending to pick cat food in an attempt to convince the person she is following that she isn’t following them. Yeh, that’s a lot of paranoia to feel guilty about Gadol.

Rebecca’s life becomes fractured when her long-term best friend sometimes boyfriend just disappears one day. She becomes obsessed with an essay he leaves behind about the Stranger Game, which is an oddly obsessive game about stalking complete strangers.

As her life slowly but surely goes off the rails and she becomes more involved in the game Rebecca loses sight of reality, and with that step also disregards the danger she finds herself in. The fact she is just one of many playing the game floats in the back of her mind, until she comprehends that it also means she is a target. Who is watching her, while she is busy watching others who in turn are watching their own targets? I told you it was messed up stuff that is bound to make anyone paranoid.

The author wades into the dark area of society, wealth and the loneliness that exists between us, despite living in an era of prosperity, diversity and understanding. This plot plays on the theme of loneliness and the way it can define, distort and destroy lives. You can be surrounded by people and still be completely alone. Have a successful career and social life and yet still go home to your house and feel as if you’re the only person on the planet. Feel as if no one cares whether you exist or not. Even if you have a partner or family.

Would this feeling propel you towards a game that guarantees excitement, danger and instant gratification? Even if it means crossing boundaries and committing crimes. In a way this storyline plays right into the fact that our society is willing to do anything to get their kicks. Nothing is too extreme or bizarre.

It’s a dark psychological thriller, an intense and captivating innovative read.

Buy The Stranger Game at Amazon Uk or go to Goodreads for any other retailer. Publisher HQ; pub date 5th September 2019. Paperback £8.99 – available in eBook and Audio Download. Buy at Amazon com.

#BlogTour The StationMaster’s Daughter by Kathleen McGurl

Today it’s my turn on the BlogTour The Stationmaster’s Daughter by Kathleen McGurl.

About the Author

Kathleen McGurl lives near the sea in Bournemouth, UK, with her husband. She has two sons who are now grown-up and have left home. She began her writing career creating short stories, and sold dozens to women’s magazines in the UK and Australia. Then she got side-tracked onto family history research – which led eventually to writing novels with genealogy themes. She has always been fascinated by the past, and the ways in which the past can influence the present, and enjoys exploring these links in her novels.

Follow @KathMcGurl on Twitter, on Facebookon Goodreadson Amazon, Visit kathleenmcgurl.comBuy The StationMaster’s Daughter

About the book

As the last train leaves, will life ever be the same?

Dorset 1935

Stationmaster Ted has never cared much for romance. Occupied with ensuring England’s most beautiful railway runs on time, love has always felt like a comparatively trivial matter. Yet when he meets Annie Galbraith on the 8.42 train to Lynford, he can’t help but instantly fall for her.

But soon the railway is forced to close and a terrible accident occurs within the station grounds, Ted finds his job and any hope of a relationship with Annie hanging in the balance…

Present day

Recovering from heartbreak after a disastrous marriage, Tilly decides to escape from the bustling capital and move to Dorset to stay with her dad, Ken. When Ken convinces Tilly to help with the restoration of the old railway, she discovers a diary hidden in the old ticket office. Tilly is soon swept up in Ted’s story, and the fateful accident that changed his life forever.

But an encounter with an enigmatic stranger takes Tilly by surprise, and she can’t help but feel a connection with Ted’s story in the past.

Review

The story has a nostalgic feel to it, perhaps because McGurl is very good at giving her readers the feeling as if they are right there experiencing everything with the characters. Tugging on the heartstrings is one of her talents, which is reflected in the way she builds the characters and their emotional turmoil.

The story moves from Tilly in the present to Ted and Annie in the past. At first glance the only connection between the two appears to be the railroad and the station. As we learn more about all of them the how becomes clearer.

Tilly is damaged and suffering, and has returned to her parent to gather herself and reboot her life. She carries immense trauma around with her, which has been magnified tenfold by the way she has been treated by her husband. Her path brings her to Dorset.

In the past we meet stationmaster Ted. His life is filled with trains, railways and schedules, at least until the day he meets Annie. What looks like obsession to one person is merely unrequited love to Ted. His fascination with Annie is the beginning of a heart-wrenching secret – a secret that leaves a trail of destruction all the way into the present.

McGurl likes to combine history and mystery to create captivating stories. In this case England’s railway gets in on the action, and I enjoyed learning more about that aspect of history.

It’s a mystery come historical fiction with a modern flair. Splitting the story into past and present gives it a two genre feel. It’s a story with an authentic feel to it.

Buy The Stationmaster’s Daughter at Amazon Uk or go to Goodreads for any other retailer. Publisher: HQ Digital; pub date 7 Aug. 2019. Buy at Amazon com.

Read my reviews of The Forgotten SecretThe Girl from Ballymor, The Emerald Comb, The Pearl Locket and The Daughters of Red Hill Hall by Kathleen McGurl.

#BlogTour A Tapestry of Treason by Anne O’Brien

Today it’s my turn on the BlogTour A Tapestry of Treason by Anne O’Brien. Once again the author gives her readers an intense and captivating historical read

About the Author

Sunday Times bestselling author Anne O’Brien was born in West Yorkshire. After gaining a BA Honours degree in History at Manchester University and a Master’s in Education at Hull, she lived in East Yorkshire for many years as a teacher of history. Today she has sold over 250,000 copies of her books in the UK and lives with her husband in an eighteenth-century cottage in the depths of the Welsh Marches in Herefordshire. The area provides endless inspiration for her novels about the forgotten women of history.

Follow @anne_obrien on Twitter, on Amazonon Goodreadson Facebook,Visit anneobrien.co.ukBuy A Tapestry of Treason

About the book

Her actions could make history but at what price?

1399: Constance of York, Lady Despenser, proves herself more than a mere observer in the devious intrigues of her magnificently dysfunctional family, the House of York.

Surrounded by power-hungry men, including her aggressively self-centred husband Thomas and ruthless siblings Edward and Richard, Constance places herself at the heart of two treasonous plots against King Henry IV. Will it be possible for this Plantagenet family to safeguard its own political power by restoring either King Richard II to the throne, or the precarious Mortimer claimant?

Although the execution of these conspiracies will place them all in jeopardy, Constance is not deterred, even when the cost of her ambition threatens to overwhelm her. Even when it endangers her new-found happiness.

With treason tragedy, heartbreak and betrayal, this is the story of a woman ahead of her time, fighting for herself and what she believes to be right in a world of men.

This is one woman’s quest to turn history on its head.

Review

This should go without saying when it comes to historical fiction – I both enjoy and admire the way O’Brien endeavours to stay as close to the known or presumed historical narrative as possible, whilst building the fictional story around the facts. It becomes a learning and not just a reading experience.

Also the way she gives us a more in-depth look, albeit it one gathered via research and presumption, and not necessarily based on written records or hearsay, of the women behind powerful men. The women who played pivotal roles in history, and yet usually end up being invisible figures.

The approach O’Brien takes differs from say Gregory, who wanders more into the fictional aspect of the genre, as opposed to the historical accuracy O’Brien strives for. It’s certainly a difference worth noting.

In events pre-dating the War of the Roses, in fact the ones that led to it, this story takes a closer look at Constance of York, Lady Despenser. The Plantagenet family is one of the most infamous when it comes to British history, scheming,  politics and ruthlessness. The majority of them appear to have had an innate affinity for survival in what can only be called tumultuous eras in history.

The women played their part in our very own game of thrones, as did Constance. A woman who at first glance comes off as cold, ambitious and willing to do anything to keep the family name and honour safe. As a man her actions would be considered the norm, as a woman the description tends to become more negative.

As a man her involvement in treasonous plots against King Henry IV would have probably been met with a harsher response than just a life in isolation and staying a great distance away from court and intrigue.

Once again the author gives her readers an intense and captivating historical read. One full of treachery, betrayal and staunch loyalty. A read I highly recommend.

Buy A Tapestry of Treason at Amazon Uk or go to Goodreads for any other retailer. Publisher: HQ; pub date 22nd August 2019. Hardback £14.99 – Available in ebook and Audio. Buy at Amazon com.

Read my review of Queen of the North by Anne O’Brien

#BlogTour What Happens Now? By Sophia Money-Coutts

Today it’s my turn on the BlogTour What Happens Now? by Sophia Money-Coutts.

About the Author

Sophia Money-Coutts is a journalist and author who spent five years studying the British aristocracy while working as Features Director at Tatler. Prior to that she worked as a writer and an editor for the Evening Standard and the Daily Mail in London, and The National in Abu Dhabi.

She writes a column for the Sunday telegraph called Modern Manners and often appears on radio and television channels talking about important topics such as Prince Harry’s wedding and the etiquette of the threesome.

What happens Now? is her second novel, following her debut, The Plus One, published in August 2018.

Follow @sophiamcoutts on Twitter, on Instagramon Goodreadson Amazon, Visit sophiamoneycoutts.comBuy What happens Now?

About the book

After eight years together, Lil Bailey thought she’d already found ‘the one’ – that is, until he dumped her for a blonde twenty-something colleague.

So she does what any self-respecting singleton would do swipes right, puts on her best bra and finds herself on a first date with a handsome mountaineer called Max. What’s the worst that can happen?

Well it’s pretty bad actually. First Max ghosts her and then, after weeing on a stick (but mostly her hands), a few weeks later Lil discovers she’s pregnant. She’s single thirty-one and living in a thimble-sized flat in London, it’s hardly the happily-ever-after she was looking for.

Lil’s ready to do the baby-thing on her own – it can’t be that hard, right? But she should probably tell Max, if she can track him down. Surely he’s not that Max, the highly eligible, headline-grabbing son of Lord and Lady Rushbrooke, currently trekking up a mountain in South Asia? Oh, maybe he wasn’t ignoring Lil after all…

Review

I have to say that what I originally liked about the style and voice of The Plus One, the first novel by Money-Coutts, remains consistent with this book. The author has a way of mixing a brash, brutally honest voice with a dark sense of humour and a devil may care attitude. Imagine ‘Knocked Up’ meets ‘Friends’ with a dollop of British snark.

Lil ventures back into the shark infested pool of dating and meeting potential partners after she is discarded by the person she thought was the one. Instead she finds that she is his number two, something she was completely unaware of. So much for trust, happiness and loving relationships.

When she meets a handsome stranger it seems like the perfect opportunity to prove to herself that she is still desirable. One thing leads to another and in the heat of the moment two become three, which throws both Lil and Max off their game.

I enjoyed the way the author made this a conversation about pregnancy and choice without making it confrontational or veering into extreme views. It’s just a woman, her thoughts and her emotional response. Alternatives are brought to the table the way they would be between friends. Again, kudos to the author for keeping this lovely, fun read in its lane.

It’s a funny and at times emotional contemporary read. You can’t help but fall in love with the quirky characters and their places in this story. There aren’t many authors who can replicate an air of realism, as opposed to the fictional feel of a read, but Money-Coutts is one of them.

Buy What Happens Now? at Amazon Uk or go to Goodreads for any other retailer. Publisher: HQ; pub date 22 August 2019. Hardback £12.99 – ebook £5.99 – Audiobook £12.99. Buy at Amazon com.

Read my review of The Plus One by Sophia Money-Coutts.

#BlogTour Take it Back by Kia Abdullah

Today it’s my turn on the BlogTour Take it Back by Kia Abdullah. It’s a legal thriller with the precision of a crime, the darkness of a psychological thriller and has the power of women’s empowerment at its best.About the Author

Kia Abdullah is an author, journalist and travel writer. She has contributed to The Guardian, BBC, and Channel 4 News, and most recently the New York Times commenting on a variety of issues affecting the Muslim community. Kia currently travels the world as one half of the travel blog atlasandboots.com, which receives over 200,000 views per month.

Follow @KiaAbdullah on Twitter, Visit kiaabdullah.com,  Buy Take it Back

About the book

Zara Kaleel, one of London’s brightest young legal minds, shattered the expectations placed on he by her family and forged a glittering career at the Bar. All before hanging up her barrister’s wig to help the victims who needed her most. Victims like Jodie Wolfe.

Jodie’s own best friend doesn’t even believe her claims that their classmates carried out such a crime. But Zara does. And Zara is determined to fight for her.

Jodie and Zara becomes the centre of the most explosive criminal trial of the year, in which ugly divisions within British society are exposed. As everything around Zara begins to unravel she becomes even more determined to get Jodie the justice she’s looking for. But t what price?

Review

This is definitely going on my list of favourite reads of this year. It is an extremely powerful story. The author doesn’t pull any punches and when she does take a shot those punches are delivered with such an intensity, power and honesty that it leaves a mark.

It’s controversial and the subject matter is more so, but perhaps the controversy lies in the realism. The author speaks from the heart, the mind and from her own personal experiences as a Muslim and as a woman and merges all those elements into her main character, Zara.

Zara has broken free of many restraints of her culture and religion, however it has come at a price. There is a moment in the book when her father says something terrible to her. A sentence that changes the way she defines herself in her family, as a person and as a professional, which haunts her going forward. It’s simply indefensible and it can’t be justified in any way shape or form.

When a young white girl with terrible facial deformities comes to Zara for support after being sexually assaulted by four Muslim boys, she is determined to get Jodie the justice she deserves. She isn’t prepared for the backlash against all of them. The racial Molotov cocktail it becomes and the target it paints on her back is lit by the fury of the sanctimonious and thrown by hypocrites.

The author makes some really poignant points about rape. The why and the imbalance when it comes to the treatment of victim and perpetrator, and what role the choice of victim plays in the rape. In this case the shadow of doubt that hovers over the case just because Jodie is deemed ugly, ergo not worthy of raping.

What Abdullah portrays with a frightening accuracy is the patriarchal society we live in, and the role the parochial attitudes play within the male dominated structures. The subordination of women is expected and any deviance is met with harsh repercussions for said women and girls.

Regardless of empty words about women being revered in certain cultures, and especially in specific religious groups, the reality is completely different. Honour killings, kidnappings, forced ‘arranged’ marriages and the domination of female gender by males of all ages. The author makes a really important point about the role of other women in this systemic domination and oppression. The majority of them take part in the oppression, because it is easier and safer to do so, but also because they have somehow convinced themselves that winning smaller battles is a victory in itself, even if it is at the expense of their daughters, sisters and fellow women in general.

It’s a legal thriller with the precision of a crime, the darkness of a psychological thriller and has the power of women’s empowerment at its best. This is an explosive must read as far as I am concerned.

Buy Take it Back at Amazon Uk or go to Goodreads for any other retailer. Publisher: HQ; pub date 8 Aug. 2019. Buy at Amazon comBuy at Waterstones.