Call Me Mummy by Tina Baker – Review – First Monday Crime.

About The Book

CALL ME MUMMY. IT’LL BE BETTER IF YOU DO.

Glamorous, beautiful Mummy has everything a woman could want. Except for a daughter of her very own. So when she sees Kim – heavily pregnant, glued to her phone and ignoring her eldest child in a busy shop – she does what anyone would do. She takes her. But foul-mouthed little Tonya is not the daughter that Mummy was hoping for.

As Tonya fiercely resists Mummy’s attempts to make her into the perfect child, Kim is demonised by the media as a ‘scummy mummy’, who deserves to have her other children taken too. Haunted by memories of her own childhood and refusing to play by the media’s rules, Kim begins to spiral, turning on those who love her.

Though they are worlds apart, Mummy and Kim have more in common than they could possibly imagine. But it is five-year-old Tonya who is caught in the middle…

My Review

With thanks to the publisher for the copy received. I don’t think I’ve ever read anything like this book before. Call Me Mummy concerns the abduction of a young girl whilst her mother was distracted whilst shopping. The reader knows instantly who has taken her but only by the name mummy. Nothing about her real identity is ever revealed and I got more wrong than right trying to decide who she was and why she had done it.

Most of the novel is dual narrative from mummy and Kim, Tonya’s real mother, Kim is portrayed honestly and at first it was difficult to like her. Obviously troubled, lacking in social skills and at times her own worst enemy. But it was evident what pain and guilt she was experiencing and with only her husband Steve and best friend Ayesha to rely on. The level of hatred shown towards her by the press and social media was dreadful. There was no support for the family at all, their judges all liked to think that they were better than this devastated family. 

Whilst it was difficult to warm to Kim it was even harder to have any liking at all for mummy. Even though I had a lot of sympathy for her as the details of her childhood were revealed I still found it hard not to judge her.

There were brief paragraphs that were narrated by Tonya. Despite what she was going though these often made me smile. Her attitude and way of talking were proof that children hear everything and reading her thoughts on her captor were very honest and a little sweary. 

Even though I read a lot of crime fiction this is probably one of the most real in the way it describes a family going through the worst type of hell. Facing hatred and suspicion, being watched and hot knowing what has happened  to their child.

Tina Baker will be appearing at First Monday Crime on Monday 10th May at 7.30pm alongside Phoebe Morgan, Marion Todd and James Delargy. The moderator will be William Shaw. You can follow via their Facebook page. 

Theakston Old Peculier Crime Novel Of The Year Longlist.

MARK BILLINGHAM | LOUISE CANDLISH | JANE CASEY | STEVE CAVANAGH | WILL DEAN  

EVA DOLAN LUCY FOLEY ELLY GRIFFITHS DOUG JOHNSTONE ROSAMUND LUPTON

VAL MCDERMID BRIAN MCGILLOWAY ABIR MUKHERJEE LIZ NUGENT IAN RANKIN

SUSIE STEINER | CHRIS WHITAKER | TREVOR WOOD

Harrogate, 5 May 2021: Today, the longlist of the UK and Ireland’s most prestigious crime novel award is unveiled with literary legends and dynamic debuts in contention for the Theakston Old Peculier Crime Novel of the Year.

Now in its 17th year, the most coveted prize in crime fiction, presented by Harrogate International Festivals celebrates crime writing at its best. This year’s longlist transports readers around the worldfrom California to Sweden and Calcutta to a remote Irish island and explores every subgenre from Scandi noir to murderous families.

The line-up of returning champions is led by crime fiction titan Ian Rankin, who has received a nod for his A Song for The Dark TimesMark Billingham, hoping for a third win with his Cry Baby, and Steve Cavanagh looking to beat the competition with Fifty Fifty.

This year’s longlist recognises a number of authors who have previously never been listed by the prize. Hoping to claim the trophy on their first appearance are Lucy Foley with her No.1 Sunday Times Best Seller The Guest List, Chris Whitaker with We Begin at The End, Scottish author Doug Johnstone with The Big Chill and Liz Nugent with Our Little Cruelties, and Jane Casey with herlatest Maeve Kerrigan instalment The Cutting Place.

The longlist also features several previously nominated authors hoping to go one step further and clinch the trophy with Elly Griffiths securing her seventh pick for her much lauded The Lantern Menand Susie Steiner getting her third nod for Remain Silent and Brian McGilloway’s second nomination for The Last Crossing, and best-selling author Louise Candlish hoping to win on her second pick with The Other Passenger.

Joining these outstanding names is the undisputed ‘Queen of Crime’ herself, Val McDermid with her newest Karen Pirie novel Still Life. Celebrated in the industry for her impeccable ability to select emerging talent for the annual New Blood panel at Theakston Old Peculier Crime Writing Festival, McDermid find herself competing against many New Blood alumni including: Will Dean for his latest Scandi noir Black River; Eva Dolan for the newest instalment of her critically-acclaimed Zigic and Ferreira series, Abir Mukherjee’s new Calcutta and Assam-inspired Death in the East, and finally Trevor Wood – who has gone from the 2020 New Blood panel to longlisted for Crime’s biggest award.

The full longlist for the Theakston Old Peculier Crime Novel of the Year 2021 is:

–          Cry Baby by Mark Billingham (Little, Brown Book Group, Sphere)

–          The Other Passenger by Louise Candlish (Simon & Schuster)

–          The Cutting Place by Jane Casey (HarperCollins, HarperFiction)

–          Fifty Fifty by Steve Cavanagh (The Orion Publishing Group, Orion Fiction)

–          Black River by Will Dean (Oneworld Publications, Point Blank)

–          Between Two Evils by Eva Dolan (Bloomsbury Publishing, Raven Books)

–          The Guest List by Lucy Foley (HarperCollins, HarperFiction)

–          The Lantern Men by Elly Griffiths (Quercus, Quercus Fiction)

–          The Big Chill by Doug Johnstone (Orenda Books)

–          Three Hours by Rosamund Lupton (Penguin Random House UK, Viking)

–          Still Life by Val McDermid (Little, Brown Book Group, Sphere)

–          The Last Crossing by Brian McGilloway (Little, Brown Book Group, Constable)

–          Death in the East by Abir Mukherjee (VINTAGE, Harvill Secker)

–          Our Little Cruelties by Liz Nugent (Penguin, Sandycove)

–          A Song For The Dark Times by Ian Rankin (Orion, Orion Fiction)

–          Remain Silent by Susie Steiner (HarperCollins Publishers, The Borough Press)

–          We Begin At The End by Chris Whitaker (Bonnier Books UK, Zaffre)

–          The Man on the Street by Trevor Wood (Quercus, Quercus Fiction)

Executive director of T&R Theakston, Simon Theakston, said“The way the global obsession with the crime genre continues to grow year on year is simply astonishing and this year’s longlist proves the remarkable talent on offer in crime writing– from legends of the craft to eager-eyed newcomers. The shortlist is already too close to call so we encourage all to get voting! A hearty toast of Old Peculier to all longlisted authors for this coveted award – and we look forward to what we know will be a fiercely fought competition!”

Run by Harrogate International Festivals, the shortlist will be announced in June and the winner on 22 July, at the opening evening of the Theakston Old Peculier Crime Writing Festival – with the public able to vote for the winner on harrogatetheakstoncrimeaward.com.

The award is run by Harrogate International Festivals sponsored by T&R Theakston Ltd, in partnership with WHSmith and the Express, and is open to full length crime novels published in paperback 1 May 2020 to 30 April 2021 by UK and Irish authors.

The longlist was selected by an academy of crime writing authors, agents, editors, reviewers, members of the Theakston Old Peculier Crime Writing Festival Programming Committee, and representatives from T&R Theakston Ltd, the Express, and WHSmith. 

The public are now invited to vote for a shortlist of six titles onwww.harrogatetheakstoncrimeaward.com, which will be announced in June. The winner will be revealed on the opening night of Theakston Old Peculier Crime Writing Festival, Thursday 22 July, and will receive £3,000, and a handmade, engraved beer barrel provided by Theakston Old Peculier.

Don’t Ask by Paul Carroll – Blog Tour Review.

About The Book

A DNA ancestry test opens up a Pandora’s Box of secrets. 

When Elsa Watson takes a DNA ancestry test out of idle curiosity she little imagines the devastating consequences she is about to unleash. 

Two families become reluctantly entwined as inconvenient truths and long suppressed memories resurface. 

A #whodunnit with a difference, Don’t Ask visits the glam rock Seventies, Britpop, Operation Yewtree and #metoo within its alternating past and present chapter structure.

My Review

With thanks to the publisher for the copy received. Despite this book not falling into my usual choice of genre it appealed to me  because of the genealogy and DNA link. I have been tracing my ancestry for years and had often thought about doing one of the tests that are available. This book has made me think that I may not like what I find in my past.

Two families who initially have nothing in common appear to have a major link when Elsa uses a DNA a tracing kit that she received as a freebie. She is astonished, extremely upset and then elated over what she finds out. But she becomes obsessed and unhinged, not realising the damage that she is causing to her family and the family that she finds.

Covering the decades and with different narrators the details surrounding Elsa and Toora’s families is revealed. Some of it was expected but a lot was a surprise to me and more complex than I expected it to be. It was fascinating to read the details concerning the band and their fans. And the way different people coped.

It is rare for me to have such strong feelings regarding characters. Most of them in this novel were unlikeable, I think the only ones I really liked were Judy, Toora, Angie and Jean. Another my thoughts changed dramatically towards the end when I saw a different side to them.

A subject matter that always seems to be in the media now, it felt like an honest portrayal of the more dubious side to fame.

The Bone Code by Kathy Reichs – Blog Tour Review.

About The Book

NO CRIME CAN STAY HIDDEN FOREVER

When a hurricane hits the Carolinas it uncovers two bodies, sharing uncanny similarities with a cold case in Quebec that has haunted Temperance Brennan for fifteen years.

At the same time, a rare bacterium that can eat human flesh is discovered in Charleston. Panic erupts and people test themselves for a genetic mutation that leaves them vulnerable.

With support from her long time partner Andrew Ryan, in a search that soon proves dangerous, Temperance discovers the startling connection between the victims of both murder cases – and that both the murders and the disease outbreak have a common cause

My Review

With thanks to the publisher for the copy received. I have read a few of Kathy Reich’s books and watched the TV series Bones which was based on them but it was a bit of a a surprise to see that The Bone Code was the 20th book in the series. I don’t want to think about how many I need to catch up on!

The two main threads in this novel are totally different. One concerned bodies that were found in containers with similar circumstances, in different countries and years apart and the other was one which concerned capnocytophaga. It takes place after the Covid 19 pandemic and  it felt a little strange reading about a post covid world when we are still living in one. Reading about a new threat made me a little uncomfortable, it was a reminder that this could be the way life could be for many years to come. It was the storyline concerning the bodies in the containers that I enjoyed the most. 

There is a lot of medical terminology in this book, most of which I didn’t understand. I was relieved that the author simplified some of it for other characters in the book. And for this reader! 

It is evident that Tempe hasn’t changed throughout this series. The determination to bring closure to a case, her sense of humour and loyalty towards friends and colleagues. There were parts that made me laugh, especially her accounts of air travel with Birdie, her telephone conversations with Ryan and her thoughts regarding most of the police.

Whilst I haven’t read every book it didn’t take me long to remember who the recurring characters were and get immersed into Tempe’s life. I adore her relationship with Ryan and Birdie Cat and loved every scene they were together in.

The Heretic’s Mark by S. W. Perry – Blog Tour Review.

About The Book

The Elizabethan world is in flux. Radical new ideas are challenging the old. But the quest for knowledge can lead down dangerous paths…

London, 1594. The Queen’s physician has been executed for treason, and conspiracy theories flood the streets. When Nicholas Shelby, unorthodox physician and unwilling associate of spymaster Robert Cecil, is accused of being part of the plot, he and his new wife Bianca must flee for their lives. 

With agents of the Crown on their tail, they make for Padua, following the ancient pilgrimage route, the Via Francigena. But the pursuing English aren’t the only threat Nicholas and Bianca face. Hella, a strange and fervently religious young woman, has joined them on their journey. When the trio finally reach relative safety, they become embroiled in a radical and dangerous scheme to shatter the old world’s limits of knowledge. But Hella’s dire predictions of an impending apocalypse, and the brutal murder of a friend of Bianca’s forces them to wonder: who is this troublingly pious woman? And what does she want?

My Review

With thanks to the publisher for the copy received. I enjoy historical fiction and the Jackdaw series is one of my favourites and is probably the only one that I am up to date on. It takes place in Tudor times but instead of concerning the power struggles around the queen it is more about ‘normal’ people. Many who live in fear of disease, poverty or being tried and tortured for practising the wrong religion.

Nicolas is one of the many who is being investigated, he has been wrongfully accused of a serious crime and alongside his new wife Bianca he  leaves the country and finds himself on the Via Francigena heading towards Italy. To add to their troubles they have the misfortune of meeting up with a young woman, Hella Maas, who must be one of the most terrifying people I have come across in fiction. One of those who don’t even have to do to say that much to unsettle you. I fully agreed with Bianca, they should have stayed as far away from her as they could. 

The unrest caused by religious beliefs is a main theme throughout the novel but another strong part of it was science and discovery. Galileo is one of the main characters, and one whose appearances I really enjoyed, even though  I didn’t really understand this part of the storyline his personality made up for it. Anybody who has an interest in the history of science from this period would find it fascinating to read.

One of my favourite parts of the novel concerned Rose and Ned. Tasked with rebuilding The Jackdaw they run into trouble trying to prove Nicolas’s innocence. I love their relationship and both of their personalities.

I hope there is a book five, I would definitely be interested in what happens next to all of them.