#Blogtour Death And The Conjuror by Tom Mead

It’s my turn on the Blogtour Death and the Conjuror by Tom Mead.

About the Author

Tom Mead is a UK crime fiction author specialising in locked-room mysteries. He is a member of the Crime Writers’ Association and the International Thriller Writers’ Organization. His debut novel is Death and the Conjuror, featuring magician-detective Joseph Spector.

Tom’s acclaimed short stories have appeared in Alfred Hitchcock’s Mystery Magazine and Lighthouse among others. Several of his pieces have also been anthologized, including ‘Heatwave’ in The Best Crime Stories of the Year 2021 (ed. Lee Child). He lives in Derbyshire. Follow @TomMeadAuthor on Twitter, Visit tommeadauthor.com

About the book

An enthralling locked-room murder mystery inspired by crime fiction of the Golden Age, Death and the Conjuror is the debut novel by acclaimed short-story writer Tom Mead.

1936, London. A celebrity psychiatrist is discovered dead in his locked study. There seems to be no way a killer could have escaped unseen. There are no clues, no witnesses, and no evidence of the murder weapon. Stumped by the confounding scene, Inspector Flint, the Scotland Yard detective on the case, calls on retired stage magician turned part-time sleuth Joseph Spector.

Spector has a knack for explaining the inexplicable, but even he finds that there is more to this mystery than meets the eye. As he and the Inspector interview the colourful cast of suspects, they uncovered no shortage of dark secrets – or motives for murder. And when a second murder occurs, this time in an impenetrable elevator, they realise the crime wave will become even more deadly unless they can catch the culprit soon.


This is the first in the series about Joseph Spector, the magician of indeterminable age – legend has it (Joseph suggests) that it may be many years. It sort of gives him an air of mystery and perhaps even a shimmer of darkness.

Is that what others can feel instinctively, especially the people who are up to no good. A bit of projection going on there methinks. Either way the aura that the old magician surrounds himself with, either consciously or subconsciously, plays a major role in the way the characters interact and the story unfolds.

The story about a famous psychiatrist and how he meets his death by third party in a locked room. No murderer, no weapon, just a very confusing mystery in need of an expert in the guise of a magician. Who better to see beyond the veil of the most intricate deception?

What’s not to like about a locked room scenario? When the readers has to to backtrack and remember all the clues to figure out the who and whydunnit. Spector is a main character who promises to deliver more from his past, his skills and of course the illusions and magic. Kudos for the epilogue – just the right way and right words to end the story. 

Buy Death and the Conjuror at Amazon Uk or go to Goodreads for any other retailer. Publisher ‏: ‎Head of Zeus — an Aries Book, pub date 2 Feb. 2023. Buy at Amazon com.

#Blogtour The Widow’s Walk by John Anthony Miller

It’s my turn on the Blogtour The Widow’s Walk by John Anthony Miller.

About the Author

John Anthony Miller writes all things historical—thrillers, mysteries, and romance. He sets his novels in exotic locations spanning all eras of space and time, with complex characters forced to face inner conflicts, fighting demons both real and imagined. 

Each of his novels are unique: a Medieval epic, four historical mysteries, two Cold-War thrillers, a 1970’s cozy/romance, four WWII thrillers, and the Revolutionary War spy novel, The Minister’s Wife. 

He lives in southern New Jersey. Follow @authorjamiller on Twitter

About the book

Cape May, N.J. 1976 – When NYC editor Audrey Taylor finalizes her divorce, it seems as if her entire world has collapsed around her. And when she inherits a run-down Victorian mansion in a decaying N.J. beach town, it only seems to get worse. At least, until she finds the treasure map.

The Widow’s Walk is a tale of growth, self-discovery, and learning to appreciate all the good that life has to offer. A romance wrapped in a historical subplot, a mystery hidden in a centuries-old crime, it ties two unsuspecting people together to find a love that neither expected—which is far more precious than buried treasure could ever be.


As many people after the collapse of a long-term relationship, perhaps especially women, it’s often a struggle to find a new place for themselves in the world and their own lives. Audrey has been delegated to the space of used and no longer needed – replaced for a younger model and no longer as needed by her grown children.

This story is about stepping into a new period in her life. One she can shape and define for herself. New friendships, new house, new area to live in and is there also the chance for something more than friendship.

When the second-romance story comes with the realistic process of a reboot, the eye of the reader is firmly fixed on potential candidates who are nice on the eye. The author then takes that concept, adds a wee bit of mystery and a treasure hunt to mix. What a better way to get to know someone than when you are looking for the answers to a really old mystery – hunting for a pot of gold at the end of the rainbow or in a ramshackle old house. Perhaps Audrey will find more than just the key to mystery – this is the right time to embrace all the new changes and see the positive in them.

It’s a interesting combination of discovery of self, moving on from the old version of her family unit and creating a new existence, which then wanders into the world of myths, legends and a hunt for hidden treasure.

Buy The Widow’s Walk at Amazon Uk or go to Goodreads for any other retailer. Publisher ‏: ‎Solstice Publishing, pub date 31 Aug. 2021. Buy at Amazon com.

#BlogTour On The Edge by Jane Jesmond

 It’s my turn on BlogTour On The Edge by Jane Jesmond.

About the Author

On The Edge is Jane Jesmond’s debut novel and the first in a series featuring dynamic, daredevil protagonist Jen Shaw. Although she was born in Newcastle Upon Tyne, raised in Liverpool and considers herself northern through and through, Jane’s family comes from Cornwall. Her lifelong love of the Cornish landscape and culture inspired the setting of On The Edge. 

Jane has spent the last thirty years living and working in France. She began writing steadily six or seven years ago and writes every morning in between staring out at the sea and making cups of tea. She also enjoys reading, walking and amateur dramatics and, unlike her daredevil protagonist, is terrified of heights! Follow @AuthorJJesmond on Twitter, Visit jane-jesmond.com

About the book

Jen Shaw has climbed all her life: daring ascents of sheer rock faces, crumbling buildings, cranes – the riskier the better. Her entire life revolved around free climbing, and the adrenaline high it gave her. Until one day her luck ran out and someone she cared about got hurt. So she’s given it all up now. Honestly, she has.

Yet, when Jen awakens to find herself drugged and dangling off the local lighthouse during a wild storm less than twenty-four hours after a family emergency takes her home to Cornwall, she needs all her skill to battle her way to safety.

Then the real challenge begins. Jen must embark on a high-stakes, action-packed search for the truth in order to figure out whether she’s fallen back into her old risky ways, or if there is a more sinister explanation hidden in her hometown. Only when she has navigated her fragmented memories and faced her troubled past will she be able to piece together what happened – and trust herself to fix it.


What gives this read an edge – no pun intended – is the fact the unreliable narrator is so unreliable she makes it easy for the bad guy, and that includes the fact Jen herself is possibly the bad guy. A sketchy drug-riddled past puts her in the curious position of not believing herself and no other person believing her either.

When an family member calls her home she finds her nightmares become the reality when she ends up dangling off a lighthouse in the middle of a storm. An attempt to end her life, but did she put herself in that dangerous position or was it someone else? Was the itch to dance with death, to feel the rush of adrenaline – her drug of choice above all others – is it the reason she finds herself bobbing off a lighthouse like helpless fish on a hook.

It’s a web woven out of lies, denial, doubt, blame and guilt. A fast-paced thriller with plenty of potential as the series progresses. The author keeps readers on their toes by creating a framework of instability. She doubts, you doubt. The fog that Jen manifests, or rather the author manifests, is what drives the story, thrill and mystery.

Buy On The Edge at Amazon Uk or go to Goodreads for any other retailer. Published by Verve Books, pub date 26th October 2021, Paperback Original, £9.99. Buy at Amazon com.

 It’s my turn on the BlogTour The Secrets of the Lake by Liz Trenow.

About the Author

Liz Trenow is a former journalist who spent fifteen years on regional and national newspapers, and on BBC radio and television news, before turning her hand to fiction. The Secrets of the Lake is her eighth novel. The Forgotten Seamstress reached the top twenty in the New York Times bestseller list and The Last Telegram was nominated for a national award. Her books are published all over the world and translated into many languages.

She lives in Essex with her artist husband, and they have two grown up daughters and three grandchildren. Find out more at www.liztrenow.com, or join her on Twitter or Instagram @LizTrenow or Facebook at www.facebook.com/liztrenow 

About the book

In a quiet village, a terrible secret threatens to break the surface…. The war may be over, but for Molly life is still in turmoil. Following her mother’s death, her father uproots them from London for a new start in a quiet village in the Essex countryside. Soon after their arrival, Molly and her disabled brother Jimmy befriend Eli, a reclusive WW1 veteran who tends the graves in the village churchyard. He tells them of a local myth about a dragon that lives in the nearby lake. If it is disturbed, he says, evil things will happen in the village…

The young Molly dreams of becoming a journalist and finding a voice in the world, but most of the time she has to be 10-year-old Jimmy’s carer. When she falls under the spell of a local boy, the charismatic and rebellious Kit, rowing on the waters of the lake with him becomes Molly’s escape from her domestic duties. But there’s something Kit isn’t telling Molly…

Then church funds go missing and Molly’s father, the new village vicar, falls under suspicion, while Eli’s home – an old shepherd’s hut in the woods – comes under threat. When the summer heatwave breaks into a violent storm, Molly sneaks out the house to set things right but instead that night her brother vanishes, never to be seen again…

Now in her eighties and a successful children’s author, Molly finds the memory of that long hot summer stirred up again when she gets a visit from the police telling her that human remains have been found in a drained lake. Will Molly finally get an answer to the question that still haunts her decades on and discover the truth behind her brother’s disappearance?


The story is set in the present and the past. In the present Molly is in her eighties and in the past she is a young girl with a brother who has additional needs. Elderly Molly seems relieved when the police tell her they have found remains at the bottom of the lake near where she grew up. Perhaps she will finally get an answer to the mystery that has haunted her family or does she already know the truth about what happened to her baby brother?

I can’t decide whether I am impressed by the ending, and the way the author doesn’t give the reader the perfect ending with answers to all the questions – or whether the problem is that I just really need to know the answer. To be fair the ending is probably a more accurate reflection of what happens in real life, sometimes we just never get the answers we want or need.

It’s the kind of story that reminds us that our parents and elders often carry their own weight in secrets, pain and heartache on their shoulders. Molly is no different. It makes you wonder what they might be hiding, but also because we tend to forget our parents and grandparents have lived full lives before we arrive on the scene.

It’s a mystery story with both a cosy and a more sinister vibe at times, and yet Trenow ends on a note that is tragic and hopeful in equal measure.

Buy The Secrets of the Lake at Amazon Uk or go to Goodreads for any other retailer. Publisher: Pan MacMillan, pub date 13th May 2021 – £8.99 – Pan paperback original. Buy at Hive Uk.

#BlogTour There’s Only One Danny Garvey by David F. Ross

It’s my turn on the BlogTour There’s Only One Danny Garvey by David R. Ross. 

About the Author

David F. Ross was born in Glasgow in 1964 and has lived in Kilmarnock for over 30 years. He is a graduate of the Mackintosh School of Architecture at Glasgow School of Art, an architect by day, and a hilarious social media commentator, author and enabler by night. His debut novel The Last Days of Disco was shortlisted for the Authors Club Best First Novel Award, and received exceptional critical acclaim, as did the other two books in the Disco Days Trilogy: The Rise & Fall of the Miraculous Vespas and The Man Who Loved Islands. David lives in Ayrshire.

Follow @dfr10 @Orendabooks on Twitteron Goodreadson Amazon,Visit davidfross.co.ukBuy There’s Only One Danny Garvey

About the book

Danny Garvey was a sixteen-year old footballing prodigy. Professional clubs clamoured to sign him, and a glittering future beckoned. And yet, his early promise remained unfulfilled, and Danny is back home in the tiny village of Barshaw to manage the struggling junior team he once played for. What’s more, he’s hiding a secret about a tragic night, thirteen years earlier, that changed the course of several lives. There’s only one Danny Garvey, they once chanted … and that’s the problem.

A story of irrational hopes and fevered dreams – of unstoppable passion and unflinching commitment in the face of defeat – There’s Only One Danny Garvey is, above all, an unforgettable tale about finding hope and redemption in the most unexpected of places.


I think one of the most frequent comments you will read in the reviews for this book will be about the fact the majority of readers who aren’t into football or have no prior knowledge of the subject, still found this a captivating read, despite all of the football. I would include myself in that group.

In between the running narrative of Danny’s talent, and the use of said talent to escape the trauma and uncomfortable truths of his childhood and dysfunctional family, is an unsolved mystery that lingers over the town and the main character. Danny is forever connected with the disappearance of a young child – an experience that defines him.

The author gives this an authentic brash feel. The emotional tension is used like a sharp pointy weapon, which is poked intermittently at the main character in order to show his instability. Behind the eyes of the golden boy lurks the uncertainty of past trauma and struggle to understand why he always returns to the people who hurt him.

Without giving anything away the ending is nothing short of evil genius and indicative of the chaos, pain and turbulence throughout the read. It speaks more to what is actually going on inside Danny’s head than any other previous situation. It’s certainly an ambitious and unusual read.

Buy There’s Only One Danny Garvey at Amazon Uk or go to Goodreads for any other retailer. Publisher: Orenda Books pub date 21 Nov. 2020. Buy at Amazon comHiveBookshop org. Waterstones.

#BlogTour Play The Red Queen by Juris Jurjevics

Today its a pleasure to take part in the BlogTour Play The Red Queen by Juris Jurjevics.

About the Author

Juris Jurjevics (1943-2018) was born in Latvia and grew up in Displaced Persons camps in Germany before emigrating to the United States. He served in Vietnam for fourteen months, nine days, and two hours, his original departure date delayed by the Tet Offensive. He wrote two other novels, Red Flags and The Trudeau Vector, which was published in ten other countries. Publisher and co-founder of the Soho Press, Jurjevics worked for decades in the book industry.

Read more about books by Juris Jurjevics at Goodreadson AmazonBuy Play The Red Queen

About the book

Vietnam, 1963. A female Viet Cong assassin is trawling the boulevards of Saigon, catching US Army officers off-guard with a single pistol shot, then riding off on the back of a scooter. Although the US military is not officially in combat, sixteen thousand American servicemen are stationed in Vietnam “advising” the military and government. Among them are Ellsworth Miser and Clovis Robeson, two army investigators who have been tasked with tracking down the daring killer.

Set in the besieged capital of a new nation on the eve of the coup that would bring down the Diem regime and launch the Americans into the Vietnam War, Play the Red Queen is a tour de-force mystery-cum-social history, breathtakingly atmospheric and heartbreakingly alive with the laws and lawlessness of war.


Whilst the story begins with the hunt for an experienced unapologetic assassin, who is taking out Americans in broad daylight on the streets of Saigon without a second thought – the story ends with betrayal. She is bold, fearless and is working on a schedule – a plan with consequences. She personifies the lack of gentleman’s rule and white man’s war game the Viet Cong became famous for – ruthless and anyone can be the enemy. 

It’s been quite a while since I have read a story about the ‘skirmish’ in Vietnam that manages to catch it with such accuracy. Jurjevics writes this mystery war crime with the sharp tongue of a social commentary. One of the most contentious periods of the US political interference in foreign countries, which was never officially deemed as something on par with other wars, hence the word skirmish, despite the losses and trauma it left in its wake. It also opened up a controversy on homeland soil the likes of which the US is still recovering from and still apologising to its veterans for. Rightly so.

As the story leads the reader into the above events it’s important to add a footnote that warfare against the VC was something the westerners were completely unprepared for and they experienced a completely different thought and tactical processes that cost many lives, killed many and left survivors with lifelong trauma and some never returned at all. 

Vietnam Veteran is a word bandied about without a lot of thought, but it’s important to remember that they didn’t and still don’t receive the accolades survivors of other wars did and do. People find it really hard to separate the concept – soldiers act on orders and are not the ones making the decisions – the top brass and upper echelon does.

I think a great writing talent has been lost where Juris Jurjevics is concerned, but readers can take solace that he left a fantastic body of work in his wake. His books are infused with a stark sense of realism, due to his own experiences, which always gives the reader a different kind of experience. This book is one of those.

Buy Play The Red Queen at Amazon Uk or go to Goodreads for any other retailer. Publisher: No Exit Press; pub date 12 Nov. 2020. Buy at Amazon comAt Hive. At Bookshop.org.

#BlogTour The Peacock Room by Anna Sayburn Lane

 Today it’s a pleasure to take part in the BlogTour The Peacock Room by Anna Sayburn Lane.

About the Author

Anna Sayburn Lane is a novelist, short story writer and storyteller, inspired by the history and contemporary life of London. Unlawful Things is her first novel.

She has published award-winning short stories in a number of magazines, including Mslexia, Scribble and One Eye Grey.

Her Mslexia award-winning story Conservation was described by judge and Booker-longlisted author Alison MacLeod as “a powerful and profound contemporary piece in which one man’s story stands for an entire nation’s… it’s a punch to the heart, a story that will haunt and touch its readers deeply”.

She has told stories at London club The Story Party and One Eye Grey’s Halloween event, Moon Over the Lido.

Follow Anna Sayburn Lane @BloomsburyBlue on Twitteron Facebookon Goodreadson Amazon, Visit annasayburnlane.comBuy The Peacock Room

About the book

A literary obsession. An angry young man with a gun. And one woman trying to foil his deadly plan.

When Helen Oddfellow starts work as a lecturer in English literature, she’s hoping for a quiet life. But trouble knows where to find her.

There’s something wrong with her new students. Their unhappiness seems to be linked to their flamboyant former tutor, Professor Petrarch Greenwood, who holds decadent parties in his beautiful Bloomsbury apartment.

When Helen is asked to take over his course on the Romantic poet William Blake, life and art start to show uncomfortable parallels. Disturbing poison pen letters lead down dark paths, until Helen is the only person standing between a lone gunman and a massacre.

The Peacock Room is the intriguing follow-up to the acclaimed thriller Unlawful Things, which introduced the literary sleuth Helen Oddfellow.


This is the second book in the Helen Oddfellow Mystery series, both can be read as standalone novels. This time Helen is drawn into a disturbing world where fantasy and art collide. 

Her allegedly firm career foundations are being jostled in favour of a colleague who is more accomplished, but is there more to the man than meets the eye. Is he just playing a role and secretly harbouring resentment and cruel thoughts. Thoughts and fantasies he has found a place to live out with like minded creatures who live in the darkness.

Much like The Following where killers are enamoured by the morbidity of Poe – this book also draws parallels from the art and talent of Blake through Rintrah the Reprobate. Art inspires both love and death, but in this case it is also combined with obsession.

Sayburn Lane creates a fascinating mystery which weaves literary works and the academic world with secrets and emotional quagmires, both of which can be seen between humans regardless of the era and how famous a person is. 

Mystery in the world of academia also comes with a healthy portion of the competition, misogyny and sexism in said world. A patriarchal system, which still tends to like to sneer at the opposite gender, especially when they dare to challenge theories and opinions. The author gives readers a look into that world, whilst also giving them a great mystery.

Buy The Peacock Room at Amazon Uk or go to Goodreads for any other retailer. Publisher: Anna Sayburn Lane; pub date 17 Sept. 2020. Buy at Amazon com. Buy at Waterstones.

#BlogTour Tutankhamun and Nefertiti by Nick Drake

It’s my second turn on this two book BlogTour Nefertiti and Tutankhamun by Nick Drake. I reviewed Nefertiti a few days ago and am reviewing Tutankhamun today.

About the Author
Nick Drake was born in 1961. He is an award-winning poet and screenwriter. He is also Literary Associate at the National Theatre.

Follow @nickfdrake on Twitter,on Goodreadson Amazon, Visit nickfdrake.comBuy Tutankhamun

About the book
A king in danger. A battle to stay alive. – On the shadowy city streets the cryptically mutilated bodies of several young people are discovered. These brutal acts are destabilizing a ruthless regime already unstable thanks to corruption and the appalling divide between rich and poor.

Meanwhile, Tutankhamun, at 18, has inherited an empire that should be at the height of power and glory. But he faces only a Court full of conspiracies and plotting, and a bitter struggle for power.

And when his own security is threatened by an intruder in the palace, he needs an outsider he can trust to track down the traitor. Rahotep receives a mysterious invitation to the labyrinthine halls of the Royal Palace.

But what he discovers at the dark heart of power will put his life, and his family, in grave danger. .

The story of Tutankhamun, the young king and his short reign, is one filled with many mysteries, myths and questions. The author takes all of these things and turns this fascinating chapter of ancient Egypt into a mystery featuring a member of that civilisations idea of a detective – a part of  the Thebes Medjay division.

Rahotep is called to solve the murder of a dead boy a boy who bears certain similarities to their young king, which could just be a coincidence, and the majority of those are based on rumours.

He quickly becomes drawn once again into the dirty politics of those who have power and want to rule, and are willing to do anything to maintain their status. The powerful who plot to deceive, kill and threaten. They steal, betray and lie without blinking an eye – all for greed and a firm grip on a country ripped apart and driven by the uncertainty the previous ruler caused.

That scene with Amenmose in the last few chapters – the pot – it was gripping, and also what makes Rahotep finally comprehend that his choice between mystery and family can and will have repercussions for himself and his loved ones. There is only so many times you can work against and stand up to the most powerful men in the kingdom and not expect some kind of blowback.

Having recently read the previous book in this series, Nefertiti, I think this one shows a honing of craft and how Drake has made his world-building, dialogues and plotting much stronger. I also think the possible theories drawn from factual history, theories by historians and his own fictional story make absolute sense out of the many mysteries surrounding the young king. It’s a gripping historical crime read.

Buy Tutankhamun at Amazon Uk or go to Goodreads for any other retailer. Publisher: Transworld Digital; pub date 18 Jan. 2011. Buy at Amazon com.

Read my review of Nefertiti by Nick Drake.

#BlogTour Nefertiti and Tutankhamun by Nick Drake

It’s my turn on this two book BlogTour Nefertiti and Tutankhamun by Nick Drake. I am starting with Nefertiti today and will be posting my review for Tutankhamun in a few days.

About the Author

Nick Drake was born in 1961. He is an award-winning poet and screenwriter. He is also Literary Associate at the National Theatre.

Follow @nickfdrake on Twitter, on Goodreadson Amazon, Visit nickfdrake.comBuy Nefertiti

About the book

A Missing Queen. A Dark Game of Power.

With her husband, Akhenaten, Nefertiti – the most powerful, charismatic and beautiful Queen of the ancient world – rules over an Empire at the peak of its glory and domination.

Together, they have built a magnificent new city in the desert on the banks of the Nile and are about to host kings, dignitaries and leaders from around the Empire for a vast festival to celebrate their triumph. – But suddenly, Nefertiti vanishes.

Rahotep – the youngest chief detective of the Thebes division- can see patterns where others cannot. His unusual talents earn him a summons to the royal court.

With ten days to find the Queen and return her in time for the festival, Rahotep knows that success will bring glory – but if he fails, he and his young family will die…


I wonder how long it takes Rahotep to realise that the reason he is chosen is more a question of – if your assignment goes pear-shaped then it will be the end of the youngest chief detective of the Thebes division and his beloved family or because he has an talent for seeing what others don’t. He has no idea he will be drawn into a mystery about the most powerful woman in the kingdom.

He has a clock ticking over him like a bomb waiting to go off if he doesn’t manage to find Nefertiti within a certain timeframe. Will it be enough time to discern between deception, fear of discovery and just plain old haughty arrogance.

I was intrigued by the parallels between other power couples in history or perhaps just autocrats, who decide to reinvent the wheel of religion, politics and power – of course it’s always in a way that benefits themselves. The way it can turn the tide of populations or bring them together as one mechanism and tool.

Admittedly the first thing I did was read up on Nefertiti. Obviously she tends to be known for being a beauty first and a strong woman who left her mark on Egyptian history second, but I was unaware of the fact that there is also quite some mystery surrounding her. Drake has taken inspiration from various theories by historians about the powerful queen and created a compelling mystery thriller set in the world of ancient Egypt.

Rahotep is a bit like Sansom’s Shardlake, but with more reverence for the dangers of the times he lives in and the rules of whomever is in power at the time. As in most societies ruled by one person every day can be like walking on eggshells when the people around you are waiting to say or do the wrong thing.

If just one thing becomes clear in this story it’s the fact that you can’t trust anyone in ancient Egypt.

Buy Nefertiti at Amazon Uk or go to Goodreads for any other retailer. Publisher: Transworld Digital; pub date 18 Jan. 2011. Buy at Amazon com.

#BlogTour The Silence by Susan Allott

Today it’s my turn on the BlogTour The Silence by Susan Allott.

About the Author

Susan Allott is from the UK but spent part of her twenties in Australia, desperately homesick but trying to make Sydney her home. In 2016 she completed the Faber Academy course, during which she started writing this novel. She now lives in south London with her two children and her very Australian husband.

About the book

It is 1997, and in a basement flat in Hackney Isla Green is awakened by a call in the middle of the night: her father, phoning from Sydney.

30 years ago, in the suffocating heat of summer 1967, the Greens’ next-door neighbour Mandy disappeared. At the time, it was thought she had gone to start a new life; but now Mandy’s family is trying to reconnect, and there is no trace of her. Isla’s father Joe was allegedly the last person to see her alive, and now he’s under suspicion of murder.

Reluctantly, Isla goes back to Australia for the first time in a decade. The return to Sydney will plunge her deep into the past, to a quiet street by the sea where two couples live side by side. Isla’s parents, Louisa and Joe, have recently emigrated from England — a move that has left Louisa miserably homesick while Joe embraces this new life. Next door, Steve and Mandy are equally troubled. Mandy doesn’t want a baby, even though Steve — a cop trying to hold it together under the pressures of the job — is desperate to become a father.

The more Isla asks about the past, the more she learns: about both young couples and the secrets each marriage bore. Could her father be capable of doing something terrible? How much does her mother know? And is there another secret in this community, one which goes deeper into Australia’s colonial past, which has held them in a conspiracy of silence?Review

The story moves between two timelines – 1990s and 1960s. Isla, who has her own burdens to carry including self emotional isolation, loneliness and alcoholism, is asked to come back home. Her father is under suspicion for the disappearance of one of their neighbours, a woman who vanished three decades ago. The case has been reopened and now the finger of guilt is pointing right in his direction.

There are hard lessons to be learnt, the most poignant one is that families always have their secrets. Nobody is perfect, and just because you know someone as your father it doesn’t mean he didn’t have a life before you and one just as a man. It’s a slow burner of a mystery that combines the complexity of family dynamics and neighbourhood ones for that matter, whilst delving into the guilty burden of a past the Australians may have apologised for, but can never make right.

Kudos to the author for including an often forgotten part of Australia’s history. The damage inflicted by white colonialism on the indigenous people of Australia. The hoards of children displaced, kidnapped (there is no other word for it) in the name of government agencies, church missions – all by rule of parliament. The Stolen Children, also known as the Stolen Generations, were children of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander descent. The policies on removal of children of indigenous Australian and mixed descent were still being carried out well into the 1970s. They were just as appalling as any eugenics theory, which were also being implemented in Australia in the 20th century.

Allott and her talent for atmospheric writing remind me of Jane Harper, and not just because of the Australian connection. It’s this uncanny ability to recreate an emotional reaction to sound, sight and smell. Combined with a knack for storytelling it gives the read the kind of edge that makes you take note as a reader.

Buy The Silence at Amazon Uk or go to Goodreads for any other retailer. Publisher: The Borough Press; pub date 6th August 2020|Hardback |£14.99. Buy at Amazon com.