#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

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#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

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

#BlogTour Girl Targeted by Val Collins

Today is my stop on the Blog-Tour for Girl Targeted by Val Collins. It is a tale of murder with an underlying sense of darkness throughout, but not just because of the murder per se. Her main character has a nose for murder, which leads to the discovery of self and snake pit full of lies.

About the Author

“I can’t remember a time when I didn’t love to read but writing is a pretty new adventure for me.

Of course I wrote stories when I was very young and I especially loved rewriting the ends of movies but I was an impatient kid and had an unfortunate tendency towards perfectionism. When, at around the age of ten, I realised my attempts at writing dialogue were dire, my writing career came to an abrupt end. A few years ago I decided to try my hand at writing again and Girl Targeted was the eventual result.

Girl Targeted is set in Ireland where I have lived all my life. It’s set in an office, an environment I know well as my entire working life has been spent doing office work. I’ve worked for small and medium sized organisations, for multinationals and for many different business sectors. Unfortunately, I was never lucky enough to come across anything as exciting as a murder so I had to rely on my imagination to create Aoife’s world.

I really loved writing Girl Targeted and I hope you enjoy reading it. Val”

Follow @valcollinsbooks on Twitter or ValCollinsBooks on Facebook

Visit valcollinsbooks.com

Buy Girl Targeted(UK)

Buy Girl Targeted (US)

About the book

A Psychological Thriller/Suspense set in Ireland.

Office jobs can be stressful. Aoife’s may be lethal.

Aoife’s life is finally on track. She’s happily married, pregnant with her first child and has the world’s best mother-in-law. But when Aoife accepts a job as an office temp, her entire life begins to unravel. Is one of Aoife’s colleagues a murderer? Is Aoife the next target? Why is her husband unconcerned?

Can office politics lead to murder? Girl Targeted is a perfect read for fans of Behind Closed Doors, Girl on a Train and the Silent Wife.

Review

It is a tale of murder with an underlying sense of darkness throughout, but not because of the murder per se. The feeling of fear, uncertainty and confusion comes from an entirely different place.

The story pulls the reader in two directions, and if I am being completely frank, I am not sure that was intentional. I think the relationship between Aoife and Jason was supposed to be a mere distraction in the background with the murder mystery taking centre stage. Personally I found their relationship and the clear message it sends, far more compelling than Aoife playing a very young and naive Miss Marple.

There was one thing that bothered me about Girl Targeted, and I could not be clearer about it being a personal preference thereby having nothing to do with how much I enjoyed the read. When it comes to names that look one way and are pronounced a completely different way I tend to suffer from my very own version of the Stroop Effect. Example: the word purple being written in red, do not read the word say the colour. So, the same happened with the name Aoife. Pronounced Ee-faa (and yes the author does tell the reader how to say it), my mind says Oyff. I was annoyed by own brain going Oyff nope Ee-faa the entire time. ‘Sigh’

I digress.

Let’s get back to what really had me intrigued when it came to this story. On the surface Aoife and Jason appear to be a happy young couple with a new baby. Jason’s views are perhaps a wee bit chauvinistic, but there is nothing wrong him wanting her to stay at home with the baby, right. There is however something wrong with Jason. He wants to control all the money, the narrative and who Aoife meets or talks to.

Wrapped in a bubble of apparent concern is the insidious nature of the beast called abuse. Jason uses emotional abuse to control Aoife. He uses neglect and coercion to convince her to do everything he wants. He traces her every move, controls every penny and manipulates others to get his wife to do what he wants.

It seems almost innocent and can easily be mistaken for overprotective love or concern for a loved one, which is often how an abusive partner gets away with it. They try and take away any financial freedom, make the victim dependent upon them in every way and seclude them from family and friends. Extreme jealousy and paranoia are usually precursors for abusive behaviour.This element of the story, and the way it evolved, was really interesting.

Girl Targeted is a murder mystery with the serious topic of abuse woven into the story. The main character has a nose for murder, which leads to the discovery of self and a snake pit full of lies.

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

The Wicked Cometh by Laura Carlin

the wicked comethThere is a lot of waxing lyrical, which leads to the assumption that the story is leading in a completely different direction to the one it actually takes.

The procrastination, albeit very beautiful procrastination, makes the first half of the book appear to be a lot slower and the second half of the book is faster paced, and the plot is focused in another direction.

Not that I think it was Carlin’s intention for the beginning of the book to sound like a ghoulish mystery with a Gothic vibe, which then turns into a Burke and Hare venture with an underlying romantic connection.

I think the intention was for the relationship between Hester and Rebekah to always be at the centre of the story, regardless of what happens around them. Their blossoming friendship, sisterhood and finally the twinkle of something more. The discovery of their feelings, the confusion and acknowledgement of said feelings, and the realisation that society will never accept it, would have been sufficient as a storyline. The second half of the book, which ventures more into the deep dark secrets of Rebekah’s family could have been an entirely new novel.

It felt a little like Holmes battling Moriarty, while Hetty Feather struggles to survive on the streets, with a modern twist on romance thrown in for good measure. I would really like to see Carlin follow through with the relaxed beautiful style of the first half of the book. Both styles have their merits, just not when fused together as one.

Leaving all that aside for a moment, I enjoyed the friendship and emerging romance between the two of them. Neither of them willing to admit the attraction is there and perhaps not even fully comprehending what it is they are feeling, because it goes against all the conventions they know. Carlin also describes the worlds between the classes well and the invisible wall keeping them apart. The stark reality of poverty and the rules of the streets the poor have to abide by to survive.

I certainly wouldn’t be averse to seeing Rebekah and Hester teaming up together again.

Buy The Wicked Cometh at Amazon Uk or go to Goodreads for any other retailer.

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The Seven Deaths of Evelyn Hardcastle by Stuart Turton

hardcastleIt is unique, innovative and certainly a compelling piece of fiction, with an almost dystopian like plot.

Think Fallen (1998 with Denzel Washington) with the psychedelic feel of Clockwork Orange and crime element of a 24/7 days a week ongoing Groundhog Day meets Christie mystery.

‘Nothing here is arbitrary’ and that is exactly what readers have to keep in mind whilst reading this.

Aiden has, as far as he is aware, been summoned to Blackheath to solve the murder of Evelyn Hardcastle, and until he can do that he has to relive the same day over and over again. Initially it all sounds like a rather complex murder mystery weekend. Then things start to get a wee bit more sinister and violent.

Aiden awakens each day in the body of a different guest, which gives him the advantage of seeing the crime and clues from a variety of angles. There are also disadvantages to inhabiting a new host every day though. When there are two conscious minds in the same body only one can be in control, which means that might not always be Aiden.

He finds himself struggling to maintain control and to differentiate between friend and foe. There seem to be other players in this nefarious game, the question is whether they are working with him or against him.

I liked the concept in its entirety, especially the retribution angle of the plot. In fact log this as a potential future method for so-called rehabilitation a la Dante’s nine circles of hell. I will gladly plan very specific scenarios for certain people, just saying.

I am certain we will be reading more by Turton in the future, and I do hope he manages to maintain his ability to think outside of the box, which in turn gets readers grey cells twisting like tiny tornadoes. I do so like the occasional unpredictable storm in my head.

Buy The Seven Deaths of Evelyn Hardcastle at Amazon Uk or go to Goodreads for any other retailer.

Follow @stu_turton @BloomsburyRaven @BloomsburyBooks

Visit stuturton.wordpress.com

Dry Bones by Sally Spencer

dry bonesWhen Charlie asks Jennie to investigate two bodies in the cellar of his Oxford university, he also asks her to keep it secret. Keeping it quiet is a crime, and not telling her friend on the police force puts two friendships in jeopardy too.

Charlie seems to have more secrets than a puzzle-box. Jennie starts to suspect his involvement in at least one of the deaths. Is he trying to distract her from the truth by sending her on wild goose chases?

The Jennie Redhead Mysteries are very similar to the Phryne Fisher Mysteries, but Jennie is lot more brash and confrontational. The difference is that the author duo that makes up the Sally Spencer also like to add a little controversy to their stories.

I’m not sure I entirely agree with the way the topic of homosexuality was approached from a historical point of view. In the mid 1940’s it was still considered a criminal offence, so the majority of men kept it a secret, as opposed to being openly gay in society. In 1967 sexual acts between two men over the age of 21 was decriminalised in England and Wales, however it still remained illegal in Scotland, Northern Ireland, the Channel Islands and or the Isle of Man.

Now, whilst there is always room for fictional interpretation and the rewriting of history, I do believe keeping it slightly more historically correct would have given the story a stronger sense of realism, instead of applying the overall laissez-faire feel of the story to this particular topic.

Personally I wish history had been more like the scenario of Dry Bones, in a sense that it is just as normal as heterosexual relationships, which is possibly what the authors were aiming for.

What I really enjoyed was the excellent description of the upper and lower classes, especially in relation to the academic world of Oxford. In the 20th century we saw the deconstruction of these antiquated ways of thinking, although I am sure one could argue that we are still seeing the last remnants of it in the UK government structure and political field. Kudos to the authors for the reality of the Upstairs/Downstairs scenarios and the descriptions of both the Great War and World War 2, which feature heavily in this story. The mistakes made by the entitled upper class officer ranks, and the fates of the lower class bullet fodder.

Overall Spencer delivers a good read with feisty and unusual characters.

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

Follow @SallySpencerebk Author duo @AlanRustage & @LannaRustage or @severnhouse

Visit sallyspencer.com