The Safe Place by Anna Downes – Blog Tour Review.

About The Book

A BEAUTIFUL HOME MIGHT HIDE DANGEROUS SECRETS

Emily Proudman has been offered the chance of a lifetime – leave her messy London life, move to a beautiful estate in France and help her boss’ wife take care of their daughter, Aurelia. It seems like the perfect opportunity to start again.

But once there, Emily soon starts to suspect that her charismatic new employers aren’t telling her the whole truth. That there are even dangerous secrets hidden beneath the glamourous facade. 

Rather than throwing herself headline into this oasis of wine-soaked days by the pool, Emily can’t help but ask questions. Why have the family been moved to this isolated house so far from home? Why does Aurelia refuse to speak or be touched? Why are there whispers in the night? 

The only problem is, the more Emily knows, the less chance there is she will ever be able to leave . . .

My Review

With thanks to the publisher for the copy received. Emily is down on her luck. A failed actress, sacked from her temping job and soon to be evicted from her home. She isn’t close to her adoptive parents and doesn’t know what to do to escape her quandary. But then her ex boss appears, like a knight in shining armour and offers her the chance of a lifetime. To move to France, and be a companion to his wife and child. To Emily it is a chance to escape and she doesn’t mind that she can’t tell anybody her whereabouts or that she has to sign NDAs. She is just ecstatic, and when she sees her new home and builds up a good relationship with Nina and Aurelia she couldn’t be happier. But as Emily gets more settled she realises not everything is as it seems.

I didn’t think of this book as twist driven but there were a few surprises. The flashbacks at the end of certain chapters added to the intrigue and made me think about what might have occurred in Nina and Scott’s past. I thought I knew what had happened but I was completely wrong. 

Emily was a character who I didn’t warm to straightaway. At first I thought her to be petulant and self pitying but seeing her relationship development with Aurelia and the way she reacted when she realised what was happening in the family home I appreciated her more. 

The Safe Place is perfect for that holiday read. 

Dead To Her by Sarah Pinborough – Blog Tour Review.

About The Book

Something old…

When Marcie met Jason Maddox, she couldn’t believe her luck. Becoming Jason’s second wife catapulted her into the elite world of high society. But underneath the polite, old money manners, she knows she’ll always be an outsider, and her hard-won life hangs by a thread.
 

Something new…

Then Jason’s widowed boss brings back a new wife from his trip to London. Young, beautiful, reckless – nobody can take their eyes off Keisha. Including Jason.
 

Something you can never, ever undo…

Marcie refuses to be replaced so easily. People would kill for her life of luxury. What will Marcie do to keep it?

My Review

With thanks to the publisher for the copy received. I had read books by Sarah Pinborough before so knew I’d be reading something clever and slightly different. But this book is more than that, I have rarely cringed at so many repulsive characters. There are many phrases used throughout the novel but if I just select a few you will get the general idea. Entitled, judgemental, devious and atrocious. And these were people who were thought by many to be the great and good.

This book is about wealth, power, greed and obsession. There was only character in the novel, amongst the ‘great and the good’ who seemed to be genuine. I won’t say who, will leave it to your own judgement, it did take me a while to find them. 

I did have some sympathy for Keisha, she was upfront from the start about what she wanted but she was completely out of her depth with the people she was up against. I really appreciated how she was manipulated by her fear of voodoo and her past. I found the voodoo part of the story to be quite creepy and intimidating. 

There are not many characters in the novel and I had a very clear vision of what they were like. Greedy, spiteful and dangerous with their power. It showed a completely different life to what most have. My jaw dropped at one point, when a large sum of money was described as not very much. 

Many years ago I enjoyed watching American TV shows such as Dallas and Dynasty. If you watched them you would appreciate how the characters in this book made me remember those shows and laugh. 

Don’t Turn Around by Jessica Barry – Blog Tour Review

About The Book

Two strangers, Cait and Rebecca, are driving across America. 

Cait’s job is to transport women to safety. Out of respect, she never asks any questions. Like most of the women, Rebecca is trying to escape something. 

But what if Rebecca’s secrets put them both in danger? There’s a reason Cait chooses to keep on the road, helping strangers. She has a past of her own, and knows what it’s like to be followed.

And there is someone right behind them, watching their every move…

My Review

With thanks to the publisher for the copy received. Don’t Turn Around is an extremely fast paced novel that was also very quick to read. Many people could easily read it in one sitting.

It has two main narrators, Cait and Rebecca but there are also occasional chapters from others who feature, none of whom were particularly likeable. It wasn’t easy to work out who was responsible for the danger that faced the two women on their journey across the border. I liked both of them and appreciated the way they gained each other’s trust.

There were many reasons why this novel worked for me. The uncertainty who was responsible, the reasons why they might be and what their true feelings were. How these men were known to the women but neither of them had any idea what they really thought. The storyline itself. Original and heartbreaking and impossible to judge. And also, the start of a friendship and feeling of being able to trust for both women. Something lacking in both of their lives.

Jessica Barry is the pseudonym for a well known American author, I have never read any other books under either name. I will definitely be so soon.

Death In The East by Abir Mukherjee – Blog Tour – Extract.

About The Book

Calcutta police detective Captain Sam Wyndham and his quick-witted Indian Sergeant, Surrender-not Banerjee, are back for another rip-roaring adventure set in 1920s India.

1905, London. As a young constable, Sam Wyndham is on his usual East London beat when he comes across an old flame, Bessie Drummond, attacked in the streets. The next day, when Bessie is found brutally beaten in her own room, locked from the inside, Wyndham promises to get to the bottom of her murder. But the case will cost the young constable more than he ever imagined.

1922, India. Leaving Calcutta, Captain Sam Wyndham heads for the hills of Assam, to the ashram of a sainted monk where he hopes to conquer his opium addiction. But when he arrives, he sees a ghost from his life in London – a man thought to be long dead, a man Wyndham hoped he would never see again. 

Wyndham knows he must call his friend and colleague Sergeant Banerjee for help. He is certain this figure from his past isn’t here by coincidence. He is here for revenge . . .

Extract

Mainly with the women patients, naturally, but also in the kitchens at times. She’s a real interest in things: from the running of the ashram to the preparation of the herbal cures.’

‘Careful,’ I said. ‘Next thing you know you’ll have her converting to Hinduism and I’m not sure her husband would approve.’

Shankar’s expression darkened. ‘No fear. She’s shown no interest in that.’

Through the window behind him, I saw Emily Carter cross the courtyard to where a large black car stood waiting. At her approach, a chauffeur exited the car with alacrity and quickly opened the rear door. She graced him with a smile then she lowered her head and disappeared inside. The driver closed the door behind her, and made his way to his own seat. The engine growled to life and within seconds the car was heading for the ashram gates, throwing a halo of dust skywards in its wake.

With the memory of Mrs Carter lingering pleasantly in my head, and with time to spare before lunch, I left Brother Shankar and went off in search of the ashram library. The room was larger than I’d expected, though what expectations I should have of an ashram library are still unclear to me. Three walls were lined from floor to ceiling with shelves of religious texts. There was something for everyone, assuming you liked your literature with a theological bent, from thick, hide-bound, hand-printed tomes with covers decorated with fine filigree detailing, to the flimsy, mass-produced, badly bound paperbacks that every book-wallah in Calcutta’s College Street sold by the barrowload for a few annas each.

I wondered why Adler had suggested I come here. It was obvious I was no scholar of Sanskrit, and even if I had been interested in learning the Hindu holy texts, today was hardly the most auspicious occasion on which to start. Then I noticed that a few dusty shelves near the bottom of one wall contained a number of books in English, and to my joy, these weren’t even religious tomes.

I knelt down, scanned them quickly and smiled. Towards the end of one row was a title I recognised. I wiped the dust from the spine. The Four Just Men. It was a detective novel published back in 1905. I knew, because I’d bought it the week it had come out. It had been a bestseller, not because it was any good, but because the author, Edgar Wallace, had left out the last chapter. Instead he’d advertised in the Daily Mail, offering £250 for the correct solution to the crime. Of course Wallace, like most writers, overestimated his own intelligence. For a start, the solution wasn’t that hard to figure out – as a young beat copper in the East End of London at the time, I’d managed it and duly wrote in to the Mail. More importantly, Wallace forgot to state there would be only one winner, so anyone who wrote in with the right answer was entitled to the money. The upshot was that Wallace went bankrupt, and seventeen years on, I was still waiting for my £250.

I picked up the book and walked back to the dormitory, lay on my bunk, and to the hum of prayers and the twitter of birds, I opened the book. ‘If you leave the Plaza del Mina, go down the narrow street, where, from ten till four, the big flag of the United States Consulate hangs lazily . . .’

I closed the book and placed it on my chest. It was strange how 1905 kept cropping up. Since arriving in Assam, it seemed as though an unseen presence was directing my thoughts back to that year: the figure at Lumding station; the memories of Bessie Drummond; the compassion shown by the Jew, Adler; and now this book.

1905. The year I hadn’t been strong enough. I felt I was reading entrails, portents of something ominous. A religious man might have seen in them the hand of God or gods, and after all, here I was in an ashram dedicated to Kali the Destroyer. Was this all part of some supernatural reckoning? The past, they say, catches up with us all. Maybe it had finally caught up with me.

One White Lie by Leah Konen – Blog Tour Review.

About The Book

IT’S ONLY ONE SMALL LIE . . . UNTIL SOMEONE TURNS UP DEAD

2020’S MOST GRIPPING PSYCHOLOGICAL THRILLER with twists you’ll never see coming, perfect for fans of Samantha Downing, Rachel Caine and Shari Lapena’s The Couple Next Door

Imagine you’ve finally escaped the worst relationship of your life.

Imagine your new next-door neighbours are the friends you so desperately needed.

Imagine they’re in trouble. That someone is threatening their livelihoods – and even their lives.

Imagine your ex is coming for you.

If you just needed to tell one small lie to make all these problems disappear, you’d do it . . . wouldn’t you?

It’s only one small lie, until someone turns up dead . . .

My Review

With thanks to the publisher for the copy received. I had a feeling from reading the synopsis that the friendship between Lucy, Vera and John would be an unhealthy one. But I wasn’t prepared for how unhealthy or how unlikeable the characters were. I did really try to like Lucy, but found that the only part of her I did like was her care of her dog, Dusty.

Woodstock was one of those areas that you find everywhere. The type of community where newcomers will never fit in. At first I thought this was why Lucy was warned to keep away from Vera and John but these thoughts diminished when I got to know more about them. Lucy does  build tentative friendships with Maggie, Al and Rachel but it is her increasingly obsessional relationship with Vera and John which made me cringe. I was practically screaming at her to keep her distance but she was hooked on their way of life and their charm. You just knew that it would all go wrong.

 I don’t think I have ever read a book where so many characters are so obsessed with the others. And I couldn’t work out what the appeal was. It was the type of novel where you are so fascinated by the relationship dynamic you are unprepared for how wrong their plan goes. I really did not see it coming, and I had no idea who was responsible.

It’s clever and slightly creepy. Especially when you read about Lucy’s relationship with Davis, his character sent the hairs up on the back of my neck. And the way his treatment had her check everything around her.

I always admire an author who can create unlikeable characters but who fascinates at the same time. I would definitely read more by her.