Dead Man’s Gift: part 1: Yesterday by Simon Kernick

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This is the first in a three-part thriller by Simon Kernick. Tim Horton is faced with a complex and distressing situation.

His son has been kidnapped, the child’s nanny is dead and the kidnappers are not interested in any kind of ransom. Instead they only have one demand. They want Tim dead and they want him dead at a time and place of their choosing.

Although fairly short, it does give a good idea of the flavour, pace and story in store for the reader.
I received a copy of this book via NetGalley.

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Last Night and Today are the next parts in Kernick’s Dead Man’s Gift.

Captured by Neil Cross

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Knowing when you’re going to die and how, it makes some people start to think really hard about what they want to fix before the big date. Kenny decides he needs to right the wrongs of his past, to clean the slate and in a way wash his soul clean off any sin. Regardless of whether that sin is real or imagined.

He goes looking for the victim of an attempted abduction he was witness to many years ago. The guilt of not being able to help more and solve the case still weighs heavily on his conscience. Kenny also tries to square things with his ex.

His quest for his own personal Joan of Arc status also leads him all the way back his very first crush in primary school.That particular search is also the start of a series of spontaneous and dangerous decisions, which doesn’t exactly end with the justice he seeks.

Caroline has been missing presumed dead or many years now and her husband Jonathan is the prime suspect. Kenny decides he owes it to his old friend Caroline to make her killer confess or to make him pay in some way. Keeping in mind that nobody is actually certain, whether or not Caroline is in fact dead. Kenny is certain, he knows deep in his heart that she is dead, and he is willing to go to extreme lengths to prove it.

I think Kenny’s obsession leads all the way back to the days when Caroline was the only one who showed him any kindness as a child. Now he feels as if he has to pay her back. He is willing to cross any boundary to do so, and gets other people hurt in the process.

Cross likes to mix the borders of good, bad, guilty and innocent. A good man can be guilty of bad things and a bad man can be perceived innocent of actual crimes. Sometimes justice is just a pretty word and not the reality of the situation.
I received a copy of this book courtesy of the publisher via NetGalley.

An Offer She Can’t Refuse by Shoma Narayanan

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What starts with a simple job interview, ends with a complicated friends with benefits scenario. Mallika and Darius slip slowly and surely into a relationship, which they both refuse to define as a relationship of any kind.

Mallika is coping with the fact her brother is suffering from agoraphobia, induced by the traumatic and tragic death of their parents.  She has become his parent and carer all rolled into one. Having to more or less babysit him 24/7, despite the fact he is an adult, has a negative impact or her work and her dating life.

Darius accepts all that and more, in fact he is very patient with Mallika. In return she sort of treats him with disdain, because she assumes he is not the family man she is looking for. They are both in for a surprise.

I received a copy of this book courtesy of Harlequin UK and Mills & Boon.


The Love Song of Miss Queenie Hennessy by Rachel Joyce

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I think at the end I was holding my breath in an anticipation. Not for me, but for Queenie. I wanted her to be at peace, feel forgiven and be able to let go. At the same time I wanted her hopes and dreams to come true. For Henry to make one final gesture, which would be a signal or sign that he felt the same way. I didn’t expect the reality to be so cruel and yet it was completely realistic.

Queenie’s tale is one of death and one of a lonely life.

This is the unlikely and unexpected sequel to The Unlikely Pilgrimage of Harold Fry. After the commercial success of Harold’s story the odds were against the story of Queenie being just as successful, however that is exactly what happened.

Rachel Joyce has created two sides of the same story without the content being repetitive or boring. Instead, this one brings the first full circle. Although I would have to point out that each story is subjective and reflects a single persons experience, as opposed to it just being one big happy story.

I think the most vivid element and image that stood out for me wasn’t Queenie at all. It was the subtle message about forgetting the elderly, the sick and the terminally ill. How they become the rejects and the recluses of society in their last days, months and years. Hidden away in care homes or a hospice with only the carer or nursing staff to be with within their last hours.

The story is filled with a sense of guilt, sorrow, loneliness and longing. It is sad and yet at the same time a story filled with hope. The last wish of a dying woman, and whether or not it will be fulfilled.
I received a copy of this book via NetGalley.

A Meditation on Murder by Robert Thorogood

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Robert Thorogood is the creator of the BBC1 TV series Death in Paradise, an immensely popular series featuring the prim and proper Brit DI Poole on the paradise island of Saint-Marie. The fourth series is due to be broadcast in early 2015.

For the first time ever Thorogood is bringing the popular characters to the world of bookworms in A Meditation on Murder. I have to say I was quite looking forward to reading this because I really enjoy Death in Paradise. In the TV series it is the combination of the cast, the dry humour, the scenery and the classic Agatha Christie like murder mysteries that bring me back for more.

Does Thorogood achieve the same element of bait and catch with his book? Absolutely. It features one of the most interesting fixtures in a classic mystery. The murder in a locked room conundrum.

One murder victim, five suspects and room no person entered or left, which means one of the five must be the murderer. Colonel Mustard in the library with a machete.

I’m not quite sure what is the most amusing thing about Richard Poole, his odd habits, his intolerance to the heat, his whiteboard fetish or his cat and mouse game with Harry the lizard. His apparent dislike of his beautiful and exotic surroundings, despite somehow being secretly pleased at being there.

His grumpy attitude and behaviour is offset by his fellow islanders and police officers. The laid back attitude of his colleagues is the perfect balance to the straight-laced and often tactless detective.

I really enjoyed the read and look forward to more by Thorogood.
I received a copy of this book courtesy of Harlequin UK and Mira UK.

Before I go to Sleep by S.J. Watson

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An exceptional thriller, one that keeps you on your toes till the very last chapter. Watson has created a smooth balance between medical details and fictional story. Neither one over-weighs the other or bamboozles the reader with boring facts.

The author has managed to create a fascinating insight into the type of amnesia Christine is suffering from, whilst building an intense yet subtle thriller around that particular condition.

Each day Christine wakes up to find herself in a strange bedroom with a complete stranger beside her. She can’t retain any memories from her previous day.Difficult and demanding until circumstances and a persistent doctor help her to find a way forward.

Then Christine starts to notice discrepancies in her loving husbands story. Is Ben trying to make things less painful by hiding people and things from her or is she paranoid?

One of the saddest things I took from this book was the abandonment of Christine. Left to her own devices and fighting the label of mental illness. Given up for a lost cause and because of that she became easy pickings for the events that unfold within this story.
I received a copy of this book via NetGalley.

Severed Streets by Paul Cornell


This is the second in the James Quill series. I wasn’t really keen on the beginning of the book, the few pages before the murder of the politician. I found them a wee bit confusing and lacking clarity, which isn’t always a good way to draw potential readers in. Fortunately Cornell gets to the nitty-gritty darkness fairly quickly.

His Sci-Fi plot weaving is mixed with police procedural story-lines, which makes sense when you consider his background as a Dr. Who scribe. He also uses the historical backdrop and urban myths associated with London.

Cornell seems to enjoy the quagmire of despair, suffering and pain when it comes to his characters, especially the good guys. Lots of bleak moments for them unfortunately. Hopefully, as the series progresses some of them will get some lucky mojo come their way.

I know the fact he has Neil Gaiman play a role in his story is a bit of topic in reviewing circles, however I think it was more of a nudge nudge wink wink move, perhaps because elements of the first James Quill book London Falling was compared to Gaiman’s work.

It will be interesting to see where Cornell takes this series and his eclectic combination of genres.
I received a copy of this via NetGalley.

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.

Lamentation by C.J. Sansom


Once again Sansom offers up a read of epic proportions with this nearly 650 page long mystery set in the era of Henry VIII during the last year of his life.

Shardlake will do anything for Queen Catherine Parr, almost to the point of obsession. He endangers his friends and family in the attempt to keep her from harm. Danger to the point of near death.

The author melds the details of the complicated religious setting, which prevailed during this time in history, with the story and the characters. The cry of or the mere murmur of the word heresy is enough to make any person fear for their life. Some people use the label to decry and remove their enemies.Unfortunately Shardlake tends to be target for many, because of his past interactions and current loyalties.

Sansom stays as close to fact as possible to give it an air of authenticity and has added an afterthought or notes to explain where liberties were taken to aid the tale.

I do think the story could have been a little shorter and still have given the reader the same kind of read and content. Then again detailed and drawn out tends to be kind of a trait of this particular author.

Sansom ends the book in a way, which suggests we will be seeing Shardlake again. The next time will probably be in the midst of trouble for his new employer, a person destined to create controversy and be at the centre of many a plot.

It will be interesting to see where Sansom takes Shardlake outside of the realms of Henry the VIII’s tyranny.

Little Shop of Hopes and Dreams by Fiona Harper

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Nicole was a true hardcore romantic when she came up with the great idea to start a Marriage Proposal Planning company. Now after watching one too many enthusiastic couples melt into each others arms she realises she is missing out on something. Something or someone who will make her heart sing like a canary on champagne.

On a night out she meets that certain someone and he not only makes her heart sing, he also makes her limbs weak, her heart pound and her body ache for the horizontal tango. Numbers are exchanged and one would think things are a go, except Nicole chickens out and that’s when things get really complicated.

One year later and the perfect solution to all their business problems has waltzed in the door. The problem with the oh so perfect solution is the unexpected complication called Alex.

Harper knows just how to twist the plot in a way that keeps readers on their toes. A man with trust issues, a gal who doesn’t trust her instincts and a delightfully spontaneous socialite called Saffron to top it all off. This is certainly a romance with more ups and downs than a roller coaster ride.

I received a copy of this book courtesy of Harlequin UK and Mills & Boon.