Blog-Tour: Ice Lake by John A. Lenahan

It’s my stop on the Blog-Tour for Ice Lake by John Lenahan. Be prepared to be entertained by his amusing and sharp-witted characters, and his environmentally driven assiduous crime story.

About the Author

John Lenahan is a popular TV magician who toured with Jack Dee, Lenny Henry and Victoria Wood. He starred on a prime time BBC1 TV show, had his own BBC2 series, and was the voice of the toaster in ‘Red Dwarf’.

His fantasy trilogy Shadowmagic, an award-winning podcast that received over 100,000 downloads, was published by HarperCollins and sold over 70,000 copies across all editions.

Ice Lake is his debut crime novel, the first in a new series featuring psychologist Harry Cull.

Read more about John Lenahan and his books

Follow @johnlenahan @KillerReads @HarperCollinsUK

About the book

An electrifying debut crime novel and the first in a new series featuring psychologist Harry Cull.

An abandoned body…

Deep in the woods of Northeastern Pennsylvania, the body of a man is found – shot three times, dumped under the trees where the local kids will find him.

A haunted psychologist…

Psychologist Harry Cull, tormented by his past, arrives in the picturesque town of Ice Lake to help with the murder investigation. There he unravels a web of lies and deceit that leads to the dark heart of a community torn apart by fracking, drugs and murder.

A desperate killer…

It’s not long before the second corpse turns up, this time a lawyer left for dead in the forest, and Harry finds himself on the trail of a twisted killer – who will do anything to keep the town’s darkest secrets buried.

Review

Harry Cull is not only a trained polygraph examiner and psychologist, he is also a wee bit of a human lie detector. He can read his fellow humans like books. He also isn’t very subtle about telling them what he can read in their faces, voices and body language. His very direct approach often leads him into some uncomfortable and often contentious situations.

The interactions between Harry and Todd are especially funny, although Harry and Edward Cirba come a close second as a comedy duo. It is this light-hearted touch that makes the story flow in a way that distracts the reader from the dangerous elements of the story. It almost lulls them into believing it is safe.

Hidden behind the dry humour and sharp observational skills is a world of pain. Harry has been dealing with a personal tragedy. The kind of tragedy you don’t recover from. His personal problems make him a little bit paranoid when it comes to connecting the dots in perhaps completely unrelated crimes.

The author also tackles the issue of fracking, which is an important hot topic at the moment. He does this in a way even laymen can understand both sides of the argument. This definitely applies to the ‘loophole’ that was created, so fracking companies can get away with not only contaminating the water supply, but also being able to dispose of waste illegally in a completely legal way.

Lenahan infuses his crime with his very own brand of banter and wit. Sarcastic tongue lashings and cheeky comments are plentiful in this crime story driven by environmental topics. The author plays with the idiosyncrasies and eccentricities of small town people in a way that is beneficial to both the characters and the story. I always enjoy walking away from a read with the feeling that I have added to my pot of knowledge.

Buy Ice Lake at Amazon UK or go to Goodreads for any other retailer.

Follow @johnlenahan @KillerReads @HarperCollinsUK

Blog-Tour: Don’t Say a Word by A.L. Bird

I do ‘love me some A.L. Bird’ so it is my absolute pleasure to kick off the Blog-Tour for the amazing Don’t Say a Word by A.L. Bird. Get ready for another tense and captivating read.

About the Author

AL Bird lives in North London, where she divides her time between writing and working as a lawyer. The Good Mother is her major psychological thriller for Carina UK, embarking into the world of ‘grip-lit’. Don’t Say a Word is her new psychological thriller from HQDigital, an imprint of HarperCollins. She has an MA in Creative Writing from Birkbeck, University of London, and is also an alumna of the Faber Academy ‘Writing a Novel’ course, which she studied under Richard Skinner. She’s also a member of the Crime Writers’Association.

For updates on her writing, you can follow her on Twitter, @ALBirdwriter, on Facebook at www.facebook.com/ALBirdwriter or by visiting her website, at www.albirdwriter.com

Buy Don’t Say a Word

About the book

A happy child.

Every parent knows the world can be scary. Lawyer Jen Sutton knows it better than most. And she’ll go to any length to protect her son from what – and who – lies outside their front door.

A loving mother.

Some might say she’s being over-protective. But isn’t it a mother’s duty to protect her child from harm?

A family built on a lie.

Jen has kept her secrets safe. Until the postcard arrives, signed by the one person she hoped would never catch up with her… and her new case begins to feel a little too close to home.

One thing is clear: Jen has been found.

Now, she faces a choice. Run, and lose everything? Or fight – and risk her son discovering the truth.

Don’t Say a Word is the electrifying new psychological thriller from AL Bird – perfect for fans of CL Taylor and Sue Fortin.

Review

It’s not paranoia if they’re really out to get you. In a nutshell that is both the life motto and curse Jen lives by and with. She is convinced her past is right on her heels and ready to implode her new life. She is hiding from a vengeful, abusive ex, and someone who used to be both her closest confidante and her nemesis at the same time. Chloe is with Jen 24/7. In her head, on her mind and featuring in quite a few flashbacks. Jen feels as if she is hemmed in by the paranoia and the gut feeling that retribution is waiting just around the corner.

So when a case at work starts to ring a few alarm bells she puts it down to her heightened senses and her instincts. All she ever thinks of is her son and keeping him safe. These coincidences are exactly that, aren’t they? And that is precisely why Jen is always in a constant state of anxious apprehension. She knows the fear will always follow her around like a little black rain cloud.

There is a chapter in this book that really annoyed me, not from a plot point of view, but because it is the painful truth. The way some children fall through the system. The kids with no voice, the ones no one ever listens to, because they are invisible. Then the way the system or rather those enforcing the system, become nothing more than highly judgemental morality police. They judge based on ticked boxes, theoretical knowledge and false assumptions.

Be prepared for the kind of read that makes you query the characters, the truth and perhaps even the systems our society uses to keep our children safe. Whether we like it or not there is a level of indifference, which in turn explains why abuse and domestic violence are still so prevalent in the 21st century.

Sometimes I think Bird takes pleasure in screwing with our brains. Nothing is ever what it seems in her stories. The lines between the good and the bad guys are always skewed. Fifty shades of grey instead of clear black or white. The reader is often suddenly blind-sided by the unexpected twists and turns.

Don’t say a Word is a ride on the wild side with barely any space to take a breath and exhale. Bird combines her experience of the real world with her innate talent for creating fascinating reads.

Buy Don’t Say a Word on Amazon UK or go to Goodreads for any other retailer.


Follow @ALBirdwriter and @HQDigitalUK

Read The Good Mother by A.L. Bird.

Blog-Tour: Dying to Live by Michael Stanley

Today is my stop on the Blog-Tour for Dying for Living by Michael Stanley. It is a light-hearted read infused with important topics. The kind of significant issues the western world can’t really fathom because it is part of the traditional tapestry of African culture.

About the Author

Michael Stanley is the writing team of Michael Sears and Stanley Trollip. Both were born in South Africa and have worked in academia and business. On a flying trip to Botswana, they watched a pack of hyenas hunt, kill, and devour a wildebeest, eating both flesh and bones. That gave them the premise for their first mystery, A Carrion Death, which introduced Detective ‘Kubu’ Bengu of the Botswana Criminal Investigation Department. It was a finalist for five awards, including the CWA Debut Dagger. The series has been critically acclaimed, and their third book, Death of the Mantis, won the Barry Award and was a finalist for an Edgar award. Deadly Harvest was a finalist for an International Thriller Writers’ award, and book 5, A Death in the Family, was an international bestseller.

Visit detectivekubu.com

Follow @detectivekubu and @Orendabooks

Buy Dying to Live

About the book

The body of a Bushman is discovered near the Central Kalahari Game Reserve, and the death is written off as an accident. But all is not as it seems. An autopsy reveals that although he’s clearly very old, his internal organs are puzzlingly young. What’s more, an old bullet is lodged in one of his muscles … but where is the entry wound?  When the body is stolen from the morgue and a local witch doctor is reported missing, Detective ‘Kubu’ Bengu gets involved. As Kubu and his brilliant young colleague, Detective Samantha Khama, follow the twisting trail through a confusion of rhino-horn smugglers, foreign gangsters and drugs manufacturers, the wider and more dangerous the case becomes…  A fresh, new slice of ‘Sunshine Noir’, Dying to Live is a classic tale of greed, corruption and ruthless thuggery, set in one of the world’s most beautiful landscapes, and featuring one of crime fiction’s most endearing and humane detectives.

Review

The Michael Stanley writing duo weave important issues into their often light-hearted detective series. Violence and abuse of women, the Aids epidemic. biopiracy and witch doctors.

Muti plays a huge role in this story, and indeed in the daily lives of many people in Africa. Muti is word used for traditional medicine in Southern Africa. Traditional medicine is indigenous or folk medicine, as opposed to what we know as modern medicine. There are witch doctors who only use plants, herbs and in general legal substances, however there are still a large number of them who don’t.

They kidnap, torture and kill men, women and children to obtain body parts to use in their muti rituals. In the last few years there has been a global focus or rather an attempt to inform and prevent the abduction and murder of albinos, which is just one example of how dangerous witch doctors are.

Another example is the unhealthy and quite frankly downright scary advice they give to their patients or customers.They actively encourage and convince HIV patients to stop taking their antiretrovirals and actively work against the modern medical community, thereby contributing to the spread of the Human Immunodeficiency Virus.

When Detective Kubu Bengu is asked to look into the unusual death of a Bushman (Afrikaans: boschjesman) he has no idea he and his team will be pulled in multiple criminal directions, but with one common thread, witch doctors. One dead body turns into more and Kubu gets a schooled in the art of Bushmen knowledge.

Stanley delivers a vigorous read with a quirky, dominant set of characters and plenty of food for thought. It’s almost as if they want their readers to have fun whilst reading, but at the same time show them some harsh realities. Well, consider me shown.

Buy Dying to Live at Amazon UK or go to Goodreads for any other retailer.

Follow @detectivekubu

A Room Full of Killers by Michael Wood

a room full ofAre some people born evil? A few of these kids may make you wonder about that question. Starling House is full of the worst type of offenders. Children who choose to torture, harm and even kill.

Unfortunately they all tend to end up in the same place, especially if they are still minors. It’s certainly debatable whether certain individuals should be allowed to associate with each other, and in doing so are perhaps more likely to encourage more criminal behaviour.

What makes this such a dark read is the fact these killers do exist. Children who commit the most heinous of crimes. The character profiles sail fairly closely to reality and real crimes. Killers with the faces of cherubs, but the minds of deviants.

DCI Matilda Darke is distracted by one of these young boys, to the point of endangering members of her team. She is almost obsessed by the thought one of the delinquents could actually be innocent.

The cynic in me wanted to shake her a little and remind her how manipulative some of these young boys can be. Has she been blinded by the cute face and the young age or perhaps been misguided by her own gut instinct? Killers can be highly intelligent and persuasive.

Wood has created a solid enjoyable main character in Matilda Darke. Much like the plot, she is unpredictable, but driven by her strong sense of justice and her instincts. It is sometimes an uncomfortable read, and yet also a compelling one.

Buy A Room Full of Killers at Amazon Uk or go to Goodreads for any other retailer.

Follow @MichaelHWood

He Said She Said by Erin Kelly

he said she daidThis read certainly has quite a few surprises in store for readers. I liked the concept, perhaps because it is a hot topic and a core setting people really need to take on board.

To be perfectly frank I think the author could have kept the plot as the simple he said/she said scenario and still delivered a thought provoking read. As it stands it evolved from whether a rape actually happened, to a story with the tense undertones of a psychological thriller.

With that in mind I actually enjoyed the read, but wasn’t as enthralled with the ending. I liked the way Kelly drew the story out and created this shadow of doubt around every single character, but was especially interested in the way Beth was perceived.

I know other reviewers found the whole eclipse sub-plot a little tiresome, however I felt it was an intriguing way to show how predictable we are and how easy it is to find someone in this day and age. We leave behind huge digital footprints, so big that they can be followed by anyone with the most basic digital skills.

I felt as if the crux of the plot was how easily Laura was eventually swayed in her opinion of the event. Her instincts told her what was happening, and she called Jamie out for what he was, a rapist. Then suddenly it only takes a trickle of a doubt for her to question what she saw with her own eyes.

Kelly makes some very valid points about rape. The victim is almost always shamed and blamed, whilst the perpetrator is treated like an innocent person in the middle of a set-up to destroy their lives. Even when there are eye-witness statements, it seems as if the victims always have the scales of justice weighted heavily against them.

Kelly does an excellent job of sewing the seeds of doubt in this story. Before you know it a certainty becomes a maybe, and then you may start to question not just the one person who needs the support, but also everyone in her vicinity.

Oh and by the way, if it walks like a duck and talks like a duck, it is probably a duck. Just saying.

Buy He Said/She Said at Amazon Uk or go to Goodreads for any other retailer.

A Dark so Deadly by Stuart MacBride

a dark so deadlyThis read is messy, but in a good way. It is at the very least dysfunctional and unpredictable. Fair warning, an extremely high amount of babies, of the jelly variety, lose their little lives during this murderous tale.

MacBride has his characters throwing around banter like an unruly crowd throwing food during an ancient Greek theatre performance. A lot of tit for tat and sometimes they are as vicious to each other, as a honey badger on a rampage.

Poor Callum, he really isn’t having a very good time of it. His career is nearly over, his life is crumbling like a dunked biscuit and his new friend on speed dial is a 7 year old girl, who thinks she is more gangsta than Al Capone.

It takes the gang a while to figure out that they are dealing with a particularly vicious and unbalanced serial killer. A ruthless and very intelligent one.

I have to admit, the author managed to get one over on me. There was the occasional niggle, which I won’t delve into because it would give away the game. Overall I was ‘colour me surprised’ at the end.

I think the author actually excels at having no normal or semi-normal characters, they are all misfits in their own right, and it works. In their own way the whole bunch of them bounce off each other and they care what happens, despite loud protestations to the contrary.

MacBride is definitely an author I will be revisiting. I enjoyed his dark humour and droll wit. I’m fairly certain the whole banter and witty repertoire was a way to distract me from the fact the author was hiding the killer right in front of me. Yeh, that’s my theory and I’m sticking with it. (*grin*)

Buy A Dark so Deadly at Amazon UK or go to Goodreads for any other retailer.

The No.1 Ladies’ Detective Agency by Alexander McCall Smith

ladiesI wouldn’t describe this as a novel, it is more like a series of tales that interconnect. At the same time the tales can be viewed as short chapters, because some of the threads are woven from the first to the last one.

It is quirky with a strong geographical and cultural vibe to it. Mma Ramotswe is the main character, and boy does she drive the story.

In the midst of all the witty repertoire, folklore infused messages of morality and general sense of humour, there are some serious topics too. I think McCall likes to slide them under innocent looking rocks, the type of rocks scorpions use to hide in the shade. When you move them or are in the close vicinity you just never know what might scuttle out and pinch you.

In a sense the author lulls the reader into a false sense of security. You get all comfortable, fuzzy and smile at jolly ol’ Mma Ramotswe, then bam you’re blind-sided by domestic violence. A slap to the head and you’re frozen by the kidnapping and murder of children for the use in witchcraft rituals. A joke here and a giggle there, and racism raises its nasty little head.

It is a very subtle way of introducing the reader to the complexities of the country and the intricacies of the power structures within the country. At the same time the reader gets a taste of the people and their traditional settings.

I liked it. It has a quirky charm to it.

Buy The No.1 Ladies’ Detective Agency at Amazon Uk or go to Goodreads for any other retailer.