#Blogtour The Wife Next Door by Amanda Brooke

It’s a pleasure to take part in the Blogtour The Wife Next Door by Amanda Brooke.

About the Author

Amanda Brooke is an internationally bestselling author. Her debut novel, Yesterday’s Sun, was a Richard and Judy Book Club pick and since then she has written eleven further books. Amanda lives in Merseyside with a cat called Spider, a dog called Mouse, and a laptop within easy reach. Follow @AmandaBrookeAB on Twitter

About the book

It’s not just secrets buried in the garden next door…

Jane doesn’t know her new neighbours very well. But she thought they were nice. She thought they were happy. She was wrong. First there’s the explosive rows. Then she catches one of them digging a grave-shaped trench in the garden. When the truth emerges, someone would kill to cover their tracks

Review

At first it’s easy to swipe away the little niggles and the odd moments, even the things Jane should clearly be worried about. There is so much emotional noise surrounding her own relationship and family issues, especially when it comes to saying goodbye to her mother and the life they both led. Eventually though, when the next door neighbours start reminding her of a creepy Hitchcock movie Jane starts to pay a little more attention to the people next door.

Kudos to the author for writing a story that is a snake eating its own tail. Very much a metaphor for the way life deals us certain hands repeatedly, and that the concept of good, evil and morality is often one without clear boundaries. Just for the fun of it – begin at the end then return to the beginning.

Am I the wrong side of evil because I thought the ending was a nicely wrapped package, and just the right side of feeling like a job well done? Oh well, isn’t that just a shame for those who deserve nothing more and nothing less. 

Buy The Wife Next Door at Amazon Uk or go to Goodreads for any other retailer. Publisher: Harper Collins pub date 19th January 2023 | Paperback Original | Ebook | Audio. Buy at Amazon comBuy via Harper Collins.

#Blogtour The Cruise by Catherine Cooper

It’s a pleasure to take part in the Blogtour The Cruise by Catherine Cooper.

About the Author

Catherine Cooper is a freelance journalist writing for many national newspapers and magazines, specialising in travel. She also makes regular appearances as a talking head on daytime TV. She lives in France with her husband and two teenage children. 

Her debut thriller The Chalet was a top five Sunday Times bestseller and spent three weeks in the Kindle top 100. The Cruise is her third novel. Follow @catherinecooper on Twitter

About the book

A glamorous ship. A mysterious cast of passengers. And a New Year’s Eve party that goes horribly wrong…

During a New Year’s Eve party on a large cruise ship in the Caribbean, the ship’s dancer, Lola, disappears. The ship is searched, and the coastguard is called, but there is no sign of her, either dead or alive.

Lola was popular on the ship but secretive about her background, and as the mystery around her deepens, everyone on board becomes a suspect. Who was she arguing with the night she vanished? 

Why did she come aboard the cruise in the first place? What was she running from?

Review

A floating city of pleasure and luxury becomes the scene of a tragic accident or was it intentional, either way someone is missing. The aftermath reveals secrets, people hiding secrets, people using secrets to threaten others – overall it seems as if the disappearance of one person starts of a type of unravelling in other people. Is it guilt? A killer, a blackmailer or is there a bigger picture?

It’s a psychological thriller, a mystery with a sort of dual storyline, and the way they seem unconnected. The cruise ship, which in itself is an extravaganza of expensive living, and yet it is also becoming the scene of too many accidents and crimes. Simultaneously the story of a missing child, who reappears under traumatic circumstances with no memory of her life before she was taken.

The author does an excellent job of keeping the two stories completely separate for the majority of the book, so much so that the reader forgets one when they delve into the other, and vice-versa. Both so engrossing that there is no thought of why, or if they could be linked.

It’s an engrossing read, and certainly one that makes me want to read more.

Buy The Cruise at Amazon Uk or got to Goodreads for any other retailer. Publisher: HarperCollins | pub date 10th November 2022 | PBO EB AUDIO. Buy at Amazon com.

#Blogtour The People Before by Charlotte Northedge

 It’s a pleasure to take part in the Blogtour The People Before by Charlotte Northedge.

About the Author

Charlotte Northedge is the joint Head of Books for the Guardian. Charlotte has previously written for a range of newspapers and magazines, including the Guardian, Psychologies and Cosmopolitan. A journalist, she has an MA in Modern and Contemporary Literature from Birkbeck and is an alumni of the Curtis Brown Creative writing course. The House Guest was Charlotte’s greatly acclaimed debut novel, published in 2021 by Harper Collins. Follow @charnorth on Twitter

About the book

What if your dream house became your worst nightmare? Jess and her husband need a new start. So when the chance to buy a rambling old house in the Suffolk countryside comes up, they leap at it.

But not everyone in Suffolk is welcoming. The locals know a secret about the Maple House, and soon, Jess realises they’ve made a huge mistake. Something bad happened in that house. Something nobody wants to talk about. Something to do with the people before…

Review

When paranoia is deep in your bones and fear is a constant companion, then I wonder if the advantages of moving into an isolated house with little or no ability to get help when you need it, are really worth all the added anxiety?

I think Jess knows that subconsciously, although she does a great job of trying to convince herself and her family of the positive side of a new start in life. A start that is a little bumpy and uncomfortable at times as she gets to know the locals, and her children attempt to fit in too. Her husband isn’t much help – spending more hours than usual at work, which means Jess and her young children are alone a lot.

That probably makes the odd atmosphere, the mysterious feeling that there is someone watching her, trying to scare her family, all the more intense and frightening.

It’s a psychological domestic thriller that starts with an ominous feeling and ends with quite a few surprises. Even in the first few chapters I found myself telling Jess not to leave her daughter in a room that scared her – to listen more closely to her fears.

It’s a story that is a lot like a knitted blanket someone is slowly unstitching before our eyes, as this psychological mystery and dark domestic thriller takes the reader down rabbit holes they might not have expected in this smooth image of a perfect family.

Buy The People Before at Amazon Uk or go to Goodreads for any other retailer. Publisher: Harper Collins; pub date 10th November 2022 Hardback | Ebook | Audio | £14.99. Buy at Amazon comBuy via Harper Collins.

#BlogTour The Collective by Alison Gaylin

It’s my turn on the BlogTour The Collective by Alison Gaylin.

About the Author

Alison Gaylin is the award-winning author of Hide Your Eyes and its sequel, You Kill Me; the standalones Trashed, Heartless, What Remains Of Me and If I Die Tonight; and the Brenna Spector series: And She Was, Into the Dark, and Stay with Me. A graduate of Northwestern University and of Columbia University’s Graduate School of Journalism, she lives with her husband and daughter in Woodstock, New York. Follow @alisongaylin on Twitter

About the book

Camille Gardner is a grieving and angry mother who, fives years after her daughter’s death, is obsessed with the man she believes to be responsible. Because Camille wants revenge.

Enter: the Collective. A group of women who enact revenge on those who have taken their children.

But as Camille gets more involved in the group she must decide whether these women are the heroes or the villains. And if she chooses wrong, will she ever get out alive?

Review

Less is probably more when it comes to reviewing this, just so the way the plot unfolds remains free from spoilers. There are plenty of juicy bits to focus on though.

Camille is obsessed with the death of her daughter or more accurately her murder and the fact her murderer is allowed to enjoy life as if he were an innocent man. At the height of her destructive phase she encounters a group of women who know exactly how she feels, and more importantly they also believe the guilty should be punished.

For me the core of this story is about the grief and the way it manifests in a different way for each individual. Also how grief is experienced depending on the circumstances of the loss a person experiences. It’s such a nuanced, deeply felt, chaotic and often very destructive emotion.

I think it’s easy to feel empathy for Camille, regardless of the way she acts or reacts. Her frustration and anger are justified. The truth is there is no justice when a loved one is ripped from your life in a vicious way, especially when the perpetrator is allowed to walk away without any consequences.

I really enjoyed the way the author took this plot and ran with it and didn’t feel the need to deliver an ending tied up with a pretty bow. Instead the anger and need for vengeance that simmers throughout the book is presented on a silver platter. Nicely done. 

Buy The Collective at Amazon Uk or go to Goodreads for any other retailer. Publisher: Orion Fiction, pub date1st September 2022 – Mass market paperback (£8.99), eBook and audio also available. Buy at Amazon com. Via Orion Books.

#Blogtour Fish Swimming in Dappled Sunlight by Riku Onda

 It’s my turn on the Blogtour Fish Swimming in Dappled Sunlight by Riku Onda.

About the Author

Riku Onda, born in 1964, has been writing fiction since 1991 and has published prolifically since. She has won the Yoshikawa Eiji Prize for New Writers, the Japan Booksellers’ Award, the Yamamoto Shūgorō Prize and the Naoki Prize. Her work has been adapted for film and television.

Fish Swimming in Dappled Sunlight follows on from the success of The Aosawa Murders and is her second work to be translated into English.

About the Translator: Alison Watts is an Australian-born Japanese to English translator and long time resident of Japan. She has wrote the translation of The Aosawa Murders, Aya Goda’s TAO: On the Road and On the Run In Outlaw China and of Sweet Bean Paste by Durian Sukegawa.

About the book

Set in Tokyo over the course of one night, Aki and Hiro have decided to be together one last time in their shared flat before parting. Their relationship has broken down after a mountain trek during which their guide died inexplicably. Now each believes the other to be a murderer and is determined to extract a confession before the night is over. 

Who is the murderer and what really happened on the mountain? In the battle of wills between them, the chain of events leading up to this night are gradually revealed in a gripping psychological thriller that keeps the reader in suspense to the very end.

Review

The story is set in a flat in Tokyo – a young couple removing all traces of their time their as they prepare to move on as individuals. Aki and Hiro have a complicated bond, one that was once strong and has become brittle and is now broken. 

The events leading to the demise of their relationship seem to be tethered to a trip they took together. A simple mountain trek that has left them both deeply suspicious of each other. The events of that day occur in moments of flashback, memories that are jarred from the deep recesses of their minds, and sudden realisations that perhaps they both never knew the other at all.

Onda has a remarkable talent for creating a captivating read by setting the scene with the bare minimal. Just two people, their heightened emotions, their suspicions, and their strong bond. A bond that takes on a destructive nature – possibly a lethal one.

I find the way this author plots quite fascinating. Giving readers an inch then retreating back into the circle of safety. Is this a goodbye with closure, one where they retain fond memories and part as friends, or will this end with just one of them closing the front door behind them. It’s a short and poignant read.

Buy Fish Swimming in Dappled Sunlight at Amazon Uk or go to Goodreads for any other retailer. Publisher ‏: ‎Bitter Lemon Press pub date 16 Jun. 2022. Buy at Amazon comBuy via Bitter Lemon Press.

#BlogTour #Audiobook No Place To Run by Mark Edwards

It’s a pleasure to take part in the Blogtour for the Audiobook version of No Place to Run by Mark Edwards.

About the Author

Mark Edwards writes psychological thrillers in which scary things happen to ordinary people. Mark has sold over 3.5 million books since his first solo novel, The Magpies, was published in 2013 and has topped the bestseller lists numerous times. His other novels include Follow You Home, Here To Stay and The House Guest. 

He has also published six books co-authored with Louise Voss. His last book, The Hollows, was published in July 2021. Mark lives in the West Midlands, England, with his wife, their three children and two cats. He Tweets at @mredwards

About the book

Two years ago, on a trip to Seattle to visit her brother Aidan, fifteen-year-old Scarlett vanished into thin air.

After years of false leads and dead ends, Aidan has almost given up hope. But then a woman sees a girl running for her life across a forest clearing in Northern California. She is convinced the girl is the missing Scarlett. But could it really be her?

Heading south, Aidan finds a fire-ravaged town covered in missing-teenager posters. The locals seem afraid, the police won’t answer any questions and it looks like another dead end―until a chance meeting with returned local Lana gives Aidan his first clue. But as they piece together what happened, Lana and Aidan make deadly enemies. Enemies willing to do anything to silence them. Only one thing matters now: finding Scarlett ― even if it kills him. 

Review

This review is based on the audiobook version – I personally often find listening and reading experiences of the same book or material to be completely different, despite the subject matter. Possibly because the narrator replaces a lot of the imaginary character constructs, and situational reactions and tensions, one automatically creates whilst reading. That’s a pretty long-winded way of saying that I am also going to be reading the hardcopy or digital version of this story.

When Aidan decides to solve the mystery of his teenage sister, who disappeared into thin air a few years prior, he doesn’t realise he will end up having to wade through a quagmire of deception, greed, and ruthless corruption. He finds a companion in Lana, who like himself is looking for a missing loved one – in a town covered in missing posters. Sounds creepy, right? Yeh, it goes to places you just won’t expect it to.

Having read prior work by this author I think it’s fair to say that although this also carries the trademark slow-building and burning when it comes to storytelling, it is also the most boundary pushing and extensive in terms of scope. There was definitely an aspect of opening new doors and seeing where that leads us, especially in regard to combining genres. It’s more speculative, and tugs quite a few ripcords when it comes to controversial topics and indeed 21st century problems.

It’s a captivating, has the potential to be a more than one-of, mystery come thriller. A slight deviation from the usual books by this author, but I am absolutely here for it. I love it when an author goes beyond the realms they might be boxed into for a variety of reasons – the results are often a great reading or listening experience.

Buy No Place to Run by Mark Edwards at Amazon Uk or go to Goodreads for any other retailer. Publication: Thomas & Mercer, pub date 21st June 2022 | Paperback -£8.99. Buy at Amazon com.

Listening Length – 10 hours and 11 minutes, Author – Mark Edwards, Narrator – Will M. Watt. Whispersync for Voice – Ready, Audible.co.uk Release Date – 21 June 2022, Publisher – Brilliance Audio, Program Type – Audiobook, Version – Unabridged, Language – English.

#BlogTour The Murder Rule by Dervla McTiernan

It’s a pleasure to take part in the BlogTour The Murder Rule by Dervla McTiernan.

About the Author

Internationally bestselling and critically acclaimed writer Dervla McTiernan burst onto the writing scene with The Ruin, her crime debut set in Ireland. The Ruin is the first in the detective Cormac Reilly series and has been published in the United States, the UK and Ireland and in New Zealand and Australia, where it was a top ten bestseller.

Dervla spent twelve years working as a lawyer. Following the global financial crisis, she moved to Australia and turned her hand to writing. An avid fan of crime and detective novels from childhood, Dervla wrote a short story, The Roommate, which was shortlisted for the Sisters in Crime Scarlet Stiletto Competition. She went on to write The Ruin, and a string of other bestsellers. Dervla is a member of the Sisters in Crime and Crime Writers Association, and lives in Perth, Australia, with her husband and two children. Follow @DervlaMcTiernan on Twitter

About the book

First Rule: Make them like you. Second Rule: Make them need you. Third Rule: Make them pay.

They think I’m a young, idealistic law student, that I’m passionate about reforming a corrupt and brutal system. They think I’m working hard to impress them. They think I’m here to save an innocent man on death row. They’re wrong. I’m going to bury him.

Review

There are a few great topics for discussion woven into this psychological thriller. The fact a flawed system still imprisons too many people who are innocent of the crimes they have been convicted of. Decades, life sentences ( I just want to point out that life only means a fraction – fifteen years sometimes) in certain countries, and the death sentence. Imagine spending decades in prison and being completely innocent.

The plot has an Innocence Project at the core. Legal experts, volunteers and loved ones of the incarcerated dedicated to picking individuals with cases layered with the distinct smell of wrongful conviction. Hannah has forcefully wrangled herself into this particular project. She has an agenda, not exactly one that is in line with the organisation in question. How far will she go to execute her plan?

It is a well plotted and written riveting psychological thriller with a legal angle. I’m going to stay tight lipped on a certain aspect that shows itself fairly early on and comes to a nice wicked conclusion at the end. It’s the kind of read that keeps you captivated from the start.

Buy The Murder Rule at Amazon Uk or go to Goodreads for any other retailer. Publisher: Harper Collins; 12th May 2022 | Hardback | Ebook | Audio | £14.99. Buy at Amazon comBuy at Harper Collins.

#BlogTour The Safe House by Louise Mumford

It’s my turn on the Blogtour The Safe Place by Louise Mumford.

About the Author

Louise was born and lives in South Wales. From a young age she loved books and dancing, but hated having to go to sleep, convinced that she might miss out on something interesting happening in the world whilst she dozed – much to her mother’s frustration! Insomnia has been a part of her life ever since.

She studied English Literature at university and graduated with first class honours. As a teacher she tried to pass on her love of reading to her students (and discovered that the secret to successful teaching is… stickers! She is aware that that is, essentially, bribery.) 

In the summer of 2019 Louise experienced a once-in-a-lifetime moment: she was discovered as a new writer by her publisher at the Primadonna Festival. Everything has been a bit of a whirlwind since then. 

Louise lives in Cardiff with her husband and spends her time trying to get down on paper all the marvellous and frightening things that happen in her head. Follow @louise_mumford on Twitter

About the book

She told you the house would keep you safe. She lied. – Esther is safe in the house. For sixteen years, she and her mother have lived off the grid, protected from the dangers of the outside world. For sixteen years, Esther has never seen another single soul.

Until today. – Today there’s a man outside the house. A man who knows Esther’s name, and who proves that her mother’s claims about the outside world are false. A man who is telling Esther that she’s been living a lie. Is her mother keeping Esther safe – or keeping her prisoner?

Review

Esther can barely remember a time before the isolation, the bubble and the extreme fear. A fear of the world around her and especially of the outside – the air that can and will kill her given half the chance. Luckily she has a mother who fights ferociously for her daughter’s safety, health and life.

The innate trust she has in her mother, the woman who puts her safety above all else, slowly starts to crumble. Living in a bubble in isolation for the majority of her living years, well it means she can only judge and make decisions based on the information she has at this moment in time. It’s the difference between life and death for Esther, right?

It is until Esther starts to question the world around her, and her eyes are opened to some inconsistencies. Perhaps it’s time to face up to her fears and take small steps in the right direction or straight in the direction of death.

It’s an interesting doomsday scenario, which isn’t that farfetched in our day and age. There are plenty of people living off-grid and keeping loved ones isolation in the hopes of keeping them safe. The question is whether they are right to do so or in this case have the right to make those decisions for the more vulnerable.

Buy The Safe House at Amazon Uk or go to Goodreads for any other retailer. Publisher ‏: HQ Digital pub date 12 May 2022. Buy at Amazon com. 

#BlogTour Who’s Lying Now? by Susan Lewis

It’s a pleasure to take part in the Blogtour Who’s Lying Now? by Susan Lewis.

About the Author

Susan Lewis is the internationally bestselling author of over forty books across the genres of family drama, thriller, suspense and crime, including I Have Something To Tell You, One Minute Later, My Lies, Your Lies and Forgive Me. Susan’s novels have sold over three million copies in the UK alone. She is also the author of Just One More Day and One Day at a Time, the moving memoirs of her childhood in Bristol during the 1960s. 

Susan has previously worked as a secretary in news and current affairs before training as a production assistant working on light entertainment and drama. She’s lived in Hollywood and the South of France, but now resides in Gloucestershire with husband James, two stepsons and dog, Mimi. Follow @susanlewisbooks on Twitter

About the book

You think you’re safe. You think you know your neighbours. But can you ever really know who’s telling the truth?

Jeannie Symonds is a force to be reckoned with – an eccentric, award-winning publisher, spending lockdown with her husband in a house near Kesterly-on-Sea. She seems to have it all: a high-flying career, a happy marriage, a niece she adores. – And then one day, she vanishes.

Cara Jakes is a new trainee investigator – young, intelligent and eager to prove herself. When she teams up with detective Andee Lawrence to look into the disappearance, she is determined to find out what has really happened to Jeannie. Cara begins to question the residents of this close-knit community, sure that someone has a secret to hide. – But how can she separate the truth from the lies?

Review

It’s a dark domestic psychological thriller with the cosy contemporary feel of a romance or chic-lit – a very interesting vibe. Think Midsomer Murder, but without the police as main characters and all the characters have skin in the game. Then to make things a little bit more interesting the story moves from past, present, recent past – before, after and during the event.

Jeannie Symonds has it all, husband, house, career and yet her eye likes to roam and she has also made plenty of enemies on her path of success and wealth. Enough enemies for someone to make her disappear perhaps? Or has she just taken herself off for a bit of me-time.

I enjoyed the way this sort of swayed from one end of the genre spectrum to the other, especially from a style perspective. Gossipy Dynasty like relationships with complex familial structures, interrogation and interview techniques that jump from Christie clue solving to methodical calculated moves, only to be thrown off by the erratic choices of certain characters.

Gotta say though, there is this bit at the end in the last few pages. Hmm it had me doubting the entire plot and solution – was that the intention? Just throw a red herring and see if it lands in the frying pan? Or is there more to come. Lewis can be just a tad wicked.

Buy Who’s Lying? Now at Amazon Uk or go to Goodreads for any other retailer. Publisher ‏: ‎HarperCollins pub date 14 April 2022. Buy at Amazon comAt Harper Collins.

#Review Notes On An Execution by Danya Kukafka

This is a fascinating read and Danya Kukafka is an excellent writer.

About the Author

Danya Kukafka is the bestselling author of the novels Notes On An Execution and Girl In Snow. She is a graduate of New York University’s Gallatin School of Individualized Study. She works as a literary agent. Follow @danyakukafka on Twitter

About the book

Ansel Packer is scheduled to die in twelve hours. – He knows what he’s done, and now awaits the same fate he forced on those girls, years ago. Ansel doesn’t want to die; he wants to be celebrated, understood. – But this is not his story.

As the clock ticks down, three women uncover the history of a tragedy and the long shadow it casts. Lavender, Ansel’s mother, is a seventeen-year-old girl pushed to desperation. Hazel, twin sister to his wife, is forced to watch helplessly as the relationship threatens to devour them all. And Saffy, the detective hot on his trail, is devoted to bringing bad men to justice but struggling to see her own life clearly. – This is the story of the women left behind.

Review

I first heard about this book on Twitter a few months ago and pre-ordered a copy based on what I was hearing, then I actually bought the Audiobook too. I found the premise intriguing, and I wasn’t disappointed at all – this is an excellent read.

It’s going to be really difficult to do this book the justice it deserves without giving too much away. The author weaves the complex layers of this psychological read, that veers into the literary sphere, with such expertise and detailed nuance – it is truly an indicator of a talented scribe and storyteller.

Narrated by the main character Ansel, the man on death row, and the women who have been a part of his life. The women who defined him, the women who called for his accountability, and the women who were his victims in one way or other. It’s a ticking clock, a timer, a revisiting of truths. His, their truths and the facts that meet both stories in the middle.

The boy, who like many others, is born into a world of violence and depravation, and subsequently abandoned or saved. It depends on the way you look at it. It’s easy to lay the blame for his future behaviour and crimes at the feet of an abusive parent and an absentee one. The truth is perhaps a little more complex, predictive behaviour and a genetic disposition in culmination with the worst start in life can result in a person who rightly ends up behind bars on death row.

The only aspect I wondered about was the connection between Lavender to Ansel at the end and whether it should have taken more of a centre stage, but then I thought about the intent, symbolism, emotional bond and power. More importantly, where all of those things should lie, because in her own way the author makes an argument for the both the hypocrisy and cruelty of the death sentence, whilst simultaneously proving why sometimes it is the only true solution. It may not be justice – there is no justice for certain crimes, but it is closure. 

Kudos to Kukafka for the ending, the homage and the lost possibilities – very well said. It also gives and leaves the power with those who are deserving of it. This is certainly one of my top reads of the year.

Buy Notes On An Execution at Amazon Uk or go to Goodreads for any other retailer. Publisher ‏: Phoenix  pub date 3 Feb. 2022. Buy at Amazon comBuy at Bookshop.org