Sweet Little Lies – Guest Post featuring Caz Frear.

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Today, it is my pleasure to welcome Caz Frear to my blog to talk about secrets. I loved her book which will be reviewed on my blog on publication day – 29th June.

KEEPING SECRETS ON THE JOB – IS YOUR DETECTIVE TRULY ‘ROGUE’ OR JUST ‘CONFLICTED.’

When new commissioner, Sir Robert Mark, arrived at Scotland Yard in 1972, he proudly announced that it was his intention to “arrest more criminals than he employed.”

Ahem….

For your average Joe/Joanna, it’s fair to say that life is rarely black and white. Most of us live our messy lives floundering somewhere between what Dulux might call ‘soft grey’ and ‘pale charcoal’, and generally this means booing and hissing at the Bad Guys – those chumps who get off on doing bad things for bad reasons – yet feeling a stab of empathy for those who occasionally do bad things for good (or understandable) reasons. So essentially, to the majority of the population, the abiding message is this – if you’re somewhere on the off-white-dove-grey Dulux spectrum then you’re doing ok, mate. You’re one of the Good (ish) Guys. Chances are you’ve probably pushed the speed limit a couple of times, smoked a few funny fags. Maybe you’ve even thrown the odd punch in your time but it was almost certainly in defence (and the person probably deserved it) so no real harm done. Nothing to see here.

But not so if you’re a police officer. Not so if you have the power to raid someone’s house, take away their property, take away their liberty. Then it follows that you must be whiter than white. Ultra-white, to quote Dulux yet again.

And this all sounds perfectly reasonable, huh?

Of course it does.

Except that crime fiction has a whole history of police officers operating outside the law and boy, do we love them for it. From straight-laced Dick Tracy briefly succumbing to Breathless Mahoney, to Line of Duty’s DCI Roz Huntley killing a colleague and then framing her husband, we can’t seem to get enough of these conflicted detective. And I stress the word ‘conflicted’ over the usual term ‘rogue.’ Because ‘rogue’ implies a lack of of principle, usually a lack of remorse, and yet even devious DCI Huntley eventually coughed and repented, right? Even dastardly DI ‘Dot’ Cotton came good in the end with his dying declaration? AND he made a mean chilli…

So while we might be entertained by the true ‘rogue’ detective, we’re generally appalled by their actions. Rogue detectives strike at our deepest fears about law and order being usurped and the Bad Guys taking over. But a conflicted detective? One who keeps secrets, stretches boundaries, covers their arse – or even frames their husband – out of fear or love or loyalty, rather than pure greed or narcissism? Well, they’re a bit further down the wrong’un scale as far as most of us are concerned.

I mean, who’s perfect?

DC Cat Kinsella, in my mind, has always been a good egg at heart. Someone you want on your side. Definitely someone you want in the pub at the end of a hard day. And yet, by chapter 2 she’s already keeping secrets and making decidedly bad choices. By chapter 8, she’s in losing-her-job-and-possible-criminal-charges territory. Line of Duty’s AC12 would have wiped the floor with her!

So given that by the end of Sweet Little Lies, Cat has crossed a line, compromised her police oath, and told significant lies to just about everyone she claims to respect, does this make her a true wrong’un? And can you honestly say that you’d have acted differently? Would you have dropped your dad in the doo-doo, put your reputation through the shredder and given up the career that you absolutely whole-heartedly love if you could see another way out – not so much an ‘everyone wins’ scenario but at least an ‘everyone survives’ escape hatch?

In the words of a true wrong’un, I’m going to state, ‘No comment…..’

Exquisite by Sarah Stovell – Blog Tour Review.

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About the Book

A chilling, exquisitely written and evocative thriller set in the Lake District, centering on the obsessive relationship that develops between two writers…
Bo Luxton has it all – a loving family, a beautiful home in the Lake District, and a clutch of bestselling books to her name.
Enter Alice Dark, an aspiring writer who is drifting through life, with a series of dead-end jobs and a freeloading boyfriend.
When they meet at a writers’ retreat, the chemistry is instant, and a sinister relationship develops… Or does it?
Breathlessly pacey, taut and terrifying, Exquisite is a startlingly original and unbalancing psychological thriller that will keep you guessing until the very last page.

My Review

In nearly every review I have seen for this book, the reviewer concerned has tried to avoid using the word ‘exquisite’ when describing the writing. I won’t even bother to attempt it, because the writing is exquisite. There is just no other word to describe it.
It is a tale of mutual obsession between two women Bo and Alice. Both have had problems with obsession before but not many details are revealed until further into the novel. Neither of the women are that likeable, in fact one of them made my toes curl almost immediately. The other I did have more empathy for.
The reader is aware that one of the women goes to prison but who it is isn’t made clear. I had my suspicions which were correct but I was mistaken in other matters.
Whilst I liked the story about obsession I also liked the part of the book very much that focused on how different a person can feel when experiencing nature.

A quote from the book says that ‘the cure was simple: Get outside. Walk. Breathe. Live’. In my opinion, this feeling can’t be beaten.
It’s a difficult book to review without spoilers but I think this book will be a very popular summer read.
With thanks to the publisher for the copy received.
The book can be purchased at Amazon or Waterstones

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If We Were Villains – M. L Rio Guest Post.

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Today, it is my pleasure to welcome M. L Rio to my blog to talk about who she would like to play some of her characters if her novel was to be dramatised or made into a stage production. I think Mark Rylance is a wonderful actor and would make a great Frederick. I found it interesting to read and compare with my own choices.

If the book was to be dramatised for television which actors would you like to play your characters?

This is a really difficult question. I’ll be the first to admit that I’m probably overthinking it, but that’s because I’ve worked in theatre and film for years and I know just how convoluted casting decisions can get. Even dream-casting is difficult, though, for two reasons. Firstly, these characters are quite young and I really hate that Hollywood convention where characters are played by actors who are ten years too old for the parts. So as much as I’d love to say “Find me a 21-year-old Léa Seydoux to play Wren,” that’s a bit far-fetched. (What I really need is a 20-something Paul Gross to play Oliver. If you haven’t seen Slings & Arrows, you should make that a priority. I had such a strong strange crush on Geoff Tennant. Still do, to be honest.) And there’s an added challenge here, which is that not all actors are great Shakespeare actors, and that’s a really essential part of the story. So that narrows the pool. Douglas Booth could do James. I didn’t love the 2013 Romeo and Juliet but his casting, I think, was spot on. He’s a marvelous Romeo. But maybe the best thing to do would be to look in the theatres–see who’s onstage at the Folger and the Globe and see if they might be interested in film. At the very least you’d find a hundred good options for Frederick, all the Old Guard of Shakespeare on stage–Ian McKellen or Mark Rylance or someone who’s really done their time in the Wooden O. In my fantasy-world Helena Bonham Carter plays Gwendolyn. I don’t even really know why, I just think she treads that line between eccentric and insane in a marvelous way. But it’s a hard question! Ask me again in a month and you’d probably get a totally different answer.

Thanks for the answers Mel. you can read my review of the book here  If We Were Villains by M. L. Rio – Review.

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The Marsh King’s Daughter by Karen Dionne.

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About the Book

‘I was born two years into my mother’s captivity. She was three weeks shy of seventeen. If I had known then what I do now, things would have been a lot different. I would have been a lot more understanding of my mother. I wouldn’t have adored my father.’
When the notorious child abductor known as the Marsh King escapes from a maximum security prison, Helena immediately suspects that she and her two young daughters are in danger.
No one, not even her husband, knows the truth about Helena’s past: they don’t know that she was born into captivity, that she had no contact with the outside world before the age of twelve – or that her father raised her to be a killer.
And they don’t know that the Marsh King can survive and hunt in the wilderness better than anyone… except, perhaps his own daughter.

My Review

I always liked fairy tales when I was a child but I don’t remember reading The Marsh King’s Daughter by Hans Christian Andersen. The fairy tale appears at times at the start of some chapters in the novel. I thought this book was amazing. It was one that I had been intrigued by after seeing a lot of posts about on social media but I hadn’t felt the urge to pick it up immediately. How I wish I had read it sooner!
Helena had a different childhood to most. The daughter of a Native American tracker who had abducted her mother when she was a teenager and the three of them had lived together since her birth. There was no contact with anybody else, no phones, TV, magazines or anything that a normal family takes for granted. The events from her childhood and how she escaped from her father’s grasp is revealed throughout the novel. The way her childhood was spent explains the way she is in her adult life and how she views some of everyday life differently.
I struggled to understand how devoted she was to a father who was a cruel man. One who would often punish both mother and child physically and mentally if they disappointed him. Even though I think he loved his daughter it was hard to see anything in him that was likeable.
But despite her childhood I admired the way she moved on to have a family of her own and a successful business that she used the knowledge she gained as a child to create. The fear that she felt when she learned that her father had escaped from prison became a determination to capture him when she had ensured her own family’s safety.
I had been a little dubious reading the hunting scenes but apart from a small section there wasn’t too much graphic detail. Also, the hunting was done for survival not for the thrill of killing an animal. I thought the parts of the novel that described living in and understanding the wilderness was fascinating and if I was brave enough I would love to try it.
With thanks to the publisher for the copy received.
You can pre-order the novel at Amazon or Waterstones

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If We Were Villains by M. L. Rio – Review.

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About the Book

Oliver Marks has just served ten years for the murder of one of his closest friends – a murder he may or may not have committed. On the day he’s released, he’s greeted by the detective who put him in prison. Detective Colborne is retiring, but before he does, he wants to know what really happened ten years ago. As a young actor studying Shakespeare at an elite arts conservatory, Oliver noticed that his talented classmates seem to play the same roles onstage and off – villain, hero, tyrant, temptress – though Oliver felt doomed to always be a secondary character in someone else’s story. But when the teachers change up the casting, a good-natured rivalry turns ugly, and the plays spill dangerously over into life. When tragedy strikes, one of the seven friends is found dead. The rest face their greatest acting challenge yet: convincing the police, and themselves, that they are blameless.

My Review

If We Were Villains is a crime novel with a difference. I have never read a novel before where the characters from a playwright’s plays have such a significant role. That playwright is William Shakespeare.
Oliver is in his final year at the Dellecher Classical Conservatory alongside the six friends he has become very close to. All the seven have different personalities and all have different backgrounds. Most of them were privileged and spoilt but distant from their families. For the first three years they were at the college I got the impression that they were close but as they entered their final year rivalry and petty arguments have damaged the group dynamic and it isn’t long before there is a sinister and unsettling atmosphere that threatens everybody and everything. When one of the seven is found dead, the situation worsens.
Like many, I studied Shakespeare at school and I have seen a handful on the stage since. The play that most of this book concerns I did not know, even though I did know a few of the quotes. But not knowing the play didn’t stop my enjoying the book. I was mesmerised at how the play seemed to possess the young actors. I could see the power, greed and misery that Shakespeare’s characters experienced also affect the actors who played them.
One of the strongest characters in the book was also the most dislikeable. A bully who would hurt any who got in his way. There were others I wasn’t keen on for a variety of reasons. The character I liked most probably appeared less than any of the others.
I liked the book a lot but it is probably one that I would enjoy more on a second read. I would like to read it with the plays that are mentioned next to me so I can really get to know the roles that were being played by the group of friends whose lives all changed in that final year.

With thanks to Titan Books for the copy received.

You can purchase the book at Amazon or Waterstones

Wolves In The Dark by Gunnar Staalesen – Blog Tour Review.

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About the Book

PI Varg Veum fights for his reputation, his freedom and his life, when child pornography is found on his computer and he is arrested and jailed. Worse still, his memory is a blank…
Reeling from the death of his great love, Karin, Varg Veum’s life has descended into a self-destructive spiral of alcohol, lust, grief and blackouts.
When traces of child pornography are found on his computer, he’s accused of being part of a paedophile ring and thrown into a prison cell. There, he struggles to sift through his past to work out who is responsible for planting the material… and who is seeking the ultimate revenge.
When a chance to escape presents itself, Varg finds himself on the run in his hometown of Bergen. With the clock ticking and the police on his tail, Varg takes on his hardest – and most personal – case yet.

My Review

Wolves in the Dark is the latest in the long running series by Gunnar Staalesen and the publication in English coincides with the 40th anniversary of Varg Veum. Jo Nesbo describes the author as a Norwegian Chandler and I find the description is accurate. However, I feel that Veum is a more damaged character than Marlowe.
Veum is slowly starting to rebuild his life when he is arrested and charged by the police for images found on his computer. When he manages to escape during an interview he is determined to clear his name and work out who from his past could have framed him. Whilst the subject matter of the book is one that had me slightly dubious there was no graphic detail. Most of the novel concerns Veum trying to recall which clients he had let down recently.
I like Veum. This is only the second book that I have read in the series and in the previous book he was just starting to enjoy life again. The events in this novel could very well have been a personal set back but his girlfriend believed in him, which considering what he was accused of was very brave. I liked his ‘relationship’ with Madonna, which helped show the caring side to him. I also liked his determination to work back through his old cases, most of which were blurred by alcohol and grief to clear his name. And at the same time solve the cases that he had failed to do at the time.
Whilst I read a lot of crime fiction this series is unusual with the lead character being in his late fifties rather than a younger man. It suggests that the novels have been written in real time over the forty year period rather than a shorter time frame.
The ending left me eager to know what happens next, I hope it isn’t a long wait. I’m also optimistic that the earlier books will be translated. I would love to get to know more about Veum.
With thanks to the publisher for the copy received.
You can pre-order the book at Amazon or Waterstones

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Fierce Kingdom by Gin Phillips – Blog Tour Review.

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About the Book

Lincoln is a good boy. At the age of four, he is curious, clever and well behaved. He does as his mum says and knows what the rules are.

‘The rules are different today. The rules are that we hide and do not let the man with the gun find us.’

When an ordinary day at the zoo turns into a nightmare, Joan finds herself trapped with her beloved son. She must summon all her strength, find unexpected courage and protect Lincoln at all costs – even if it means crossing the line between right and wrong; between humanity and animal instinct.

It’s a line none of us would ever normally dream of crossing.

But sometimes the rules are different.

My Review

Joan takes her son Lincoln to the zoo regularly. The trip starts just like any other but when they start to make their way to the exit they find themselves in danger. Gunmen are in the zoo and are shooting people and animals at random. Joan has to keep herself and her son safe and try and leave the zoo without being seen. She knows that she will not be able to use the exit so she needs to find the best place to keep them both safe until the situation is brought under control.
Much of the storyline is focused on the relationship between Joan and Lincoln. There is the danger they are in but the way she attempts to keep him calm, relaxed and communicating is a strong point in the novel. I loved his little stories and the way they interacted. But there are also small parts of the novel that focus on one of the gunman, a zoo worker and a retired teacher who was also visiting the zoo at the time. Two of these people have had a connection in the past, the teacher and the gunman. This, along with the teacher’s memories of former pupils was one of the parts of the novel that lingered in my thoughts. Another, very chilling moment concerned what was found in a trash can. The decision that Joan had to make, ignoring any emotions, just to stay safe.
The period of time covered is only a short one but the author demonstrates very well how even a short time can feel like an eternity when survival is at stake. I have seen some comments about the ending on other reviews but I liked it. I thought it was real, life continues without onlookers and I didn’t necessarily need to know what happened to each of the individuals concerned.
With thanks to the publisher for the copy received.
You can purchase Fierce Kingdom from the 15th June at Amazon or Waterstones 

My #20booksofsummer challenge.

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On Monday, I noticed a social media post discussing a challenge called #20booksofsummer that was devised by Cathy at 746Books. The plan is to read 20 books between 1st June and 3 September. You can read more about the challenge here
If 20 is too many  you could also choose to read 10 or 15 books. I have decided to go for 20 hoping mainly to get the books that are outstanding on my NetGalley shelf down to a manageable level. There are also a few for blog tours that I have committed to.
The books that I plan to read are listed below with a few extra added if any of the books aren’t for me.

1) Exquisite by Sarah Stovell. Read and reviewed Exquisite

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Bo Luxton has it all – a loving family, a beautiful home in the Lake District, and a clutch of bestselling books to her name.
Enter Alice Dark, an aspiring writer who is drifting through life, with a series of dead-end jobs and a freeloading boyfriend.
When they meet at a writers’ retreat, the chemistry is instant, and a sinister relationship develops… Or does it?
Breathlessly pacey, taut and terrifying, Exquisite is a startlingly original and unbalancing psychological thriller that will keep you guessing until the very last page.

2) Dying To Live by Michael Stanley

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When the body of a Bushman is discovered near the Central Kalahari Game Reserve, 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. But did the witch doctor take the body to use as part of a ritual? Or was it the American anthropologist who’d befriended the old Bushman? 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 seems to grow. 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 heroes.

3) Wolves In The Dark by Gunnar Staaleson. Read and reviewed Wolves In The Dark by Gunnar Staalesen – Blog Tour Review.

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Reeling from the death of his great love, Karin, Varg Veum’s life has descended into a self-destructive spiral of alcohol, lust, grief and blackouts. When traces of child pornography are found on his computer, he’s accused of being part of a paedophile ring and thrown into a prison cell. There, he struggles to sift through his past to work out who is responsible for planting the material … and who is seeking the ultimate revenge. When a chance to escape presents itself, Varg finds himself on the run in his hometown of Bergen. With the clock ticking and the police on his tail, Varg takes on his hardest – and most personal – case yet. Chilling, shocking and exceptionally gripping, Wolves in the Dark reaffirms Gunnar Staalesen as one of the world’s foremost thriller writers.

4) SkyLarking by Kate Mildenhall.

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Kate and Harriet are best friends, growing up together on an isolated Australian cape in the 1880s. As daughters of the lighthouse keepers, the two girls share everything, until a fisherman, McPhail, arrives in their small community. When Kate witnesses the desire that flares between him and Harriet, she is torn by her feelings of envy and longing. But one moment in McPhail’s hut will change the course of their lives forever. Inspired by a true story, Skylarking is a stunning debut novel about friendship, love and loss, one that questions what it is to remember and how tempting it can be to forget.

5) Trust Me by Angela Clarke.

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YOU SAW IT HAPPEN. DIDN’T YOU?
What do you do if you witness a crime…but no-one believes you?
When Kate sees a horrific attack streamed live on her laptop, she calls the police in a state of shock. But when they arrive, the video has disappeared – and she can’t prove anything. Desperate to be believed, Kate tries to find out who the girl in the video could be – and who attacked her.
Freddie and Nas are working on a missing persons case, but the trail has gone cold. When Kate contacts them, they are the only ones to listen and they start to wonder – are the two cases connected?

6) The Child by Fiona Barton.

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When a paragraph in an evening newspaper reveals a decades-old tragedy, most readers barely give it a glance. But for three strangers it’s impossible to ignore.

For one woman, it’s a reminder of the worst thing that ever happened to her.

For another, it reveals the dangerous possibility that her darkest secret is about to be discovered.

And for the third, a journalist, it’s the first clue in a hunt to uncover the truth.

The Child’s story will be told.

7) Here and Gone by Haylen Beck.

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It begins with a woman fleeing through Arizona with her kids in tow, trying to escape an abusive marriage. When she’s pulled over by an unsettling local sheriff, things soon go awry and she is taken into custody. Only when she gets to the station, her kids are gone. And then the cops start saying they never saw any kids with her, that if they’re gone than she must have done something with them…
Meanwhile, halfway across the country a man hears the frenzied news reports about the missing kids, which are eerily similar to events in his own past. As the clock ticks down on the search for the lost children, he too is drawn into the desperate fight for their return.

8) The Lost Girl by Carol Drinkwater.

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Her daughter disappeared four years ago. . .

Since her daughter went missing four years earlier, celebrated photographer Kurtiz Ross has been a woman alone. Her only companion her camera. Since Lizzie disappeared, she has blamed and isolated herself, given up hope. Until, out of the blue, an unexpected sighting of Lizzie is made in Paris.
Could this lead to the reconciliation she has dreamed of?
Within hours of Kurtiz arriving in Paris, the City of Light is plunged into a night of hell when a series of terrorist attacks bring the city to a standstill. Amid the fear and chaos, a hand reaches out. A sympathetic stranger in a café offers to help Kurtiz find her daughter.
A stranger’s guiding light
Neither knows what this harrowing night will deliver, but the other woman’s kindness – and her stories of her own love and loss in post-war Provence – shine light into the shadows, restoring hope, bringing the unexpected. Out of darkness and despair, new life rises. New beginnings unfold.
Dare she believe in a miracle?

9) The Upstairs Room by Kate Murray Brown.

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Eleanor, Richard and their two young daughters recently stretched themselves to the limit to buy their dream home, a four-bedroom Victorian townhouse in East London. But the cracks are already starting to show. Eleanor is unnerved by the eerie atmosphere in the house and becomes convinced it is making her ill. Whilst Richard remains preoccupied with Zoe, their mercurial twenty-seven-year-old lodger, Eleanor becomes determined to unravel the mystery of the house’s previous owners – including Emily, whose name is written hundreds of times on the walls of the upstairs room.

10) Did You See Melody? by Sophie Hannah.

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Pushed to breaking point, Cara Burrows abandons her home and family and escapes to a five-star spa resort she can’t afford. Late at night, exhausted and desperate, she lets herself into her hotel room and is shocked to find it already occupied – by a man and a teenage girl.
A simple mistake on the part of the hotel receptionist – but Cara’s fear intensifies when she works out that the girl she saw alive and well in the hotel room is someone she can’t possibly have seen: the most famous murder victim in the country, Melody Chapa, whose parents are serving life sentences for her murder.
Cara doesn’t know what to trust: everything she’s read and heard about the case, or the evidence of her own eyes. Did she really see Melody? And is she prepared to ask herself that question and answer it honestly if it means risking her own life?

11) Gather The Daughters by Jennie Melamed.

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For fans of Emma Cline’s THE GIRLS and Emily St John Mandel’s STATION 11, GATHER THE DAUGHTERS is a hugely compelling story of an isolated island cult that will get under your skin. ‘An intriguing, gorgeously realised and written novel which inexorably draws you into its dark heart’ Kate Hamer
On a small isolated island, there’s a community that lives by its own rules. Boys grow up knowing they will one day reign inside and outside the home, while girls know they will be married and pregnant within moments of hitting womanhood.
But before that time comes, there is an island ritual that offers children an exhilarating reprieve. Every summer they are turned out onto their doorsteps to roam wild: they run, they fight, they sleep on the beach and build camps in trees. They are free.
It is at the end of one of these summers, as the first frost laces the ground, that one of the younger girls witnesses something she was never supposed to see. And she returns home, muddy and terrified, clutching in her small hand a truth that could unravel their carefully constructed island world forever.

12) Shelter by Sarah Franklin.

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Early spring 1944.
In a clearing deep within an English forest two lost souls meet for the first time.

Connie Granger has escaped the devastation of her bombed out city home. She has found work in the Women’s Timber Corps, and for her, this remote community must now serve a secret purpose.

Seppe, an Italian prisoner of war, is haunted by his memories. But in the forest camp, he finds a strange kind of freedom.

Their meeting signals new beginnings. In each other they find the means to imagine their own lives anew, and to face that which each fears the most.

But outside their haven, the world is ravaged by war and old certainties are crumbling. Both Connie and Seppe must make a life-defining choice which threatens their fragile existence. How will they make sense of this new world, and find their place within it? What does it mean to be a woman, or a foreign man, in these days of darkness and new light?

13) Don’t Close Your Eyes by Holly Seddon.

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Robin and Sarah weren’t the closest of twins. They weren’t even that similar. But they loved each other dearly. Until, in the cruellest of domestic twists, they were taken from one another. Now, in her early 30s, Robin lives alone. Agoraphobic and suffering from panic attacks, she spends her days pacing the rooms of her house. The rest of the time she watches – watches the street, the houses, the neighbours. Until one day, she sees something she shouldn’t…And Sarah? Sarah got what she wanted – the good-looking man, the beautiful baby, the perfect home. But she’s just been accused of the most terrible thing of all. She can’t be around her new family until she has come to terms with something that happened a long time ago. And to do that, she needs to track down her twin sister. But Sarah isn’t the only person looking for Robin. As their paths intersect, something dangerous is set in motion, leading Robin and Sarah to fight for much more than their relationship…

14) The Companion by Sarah Dunnakey.

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How do you solve a mystery when the clues are hidden in the past?

The Companion is a beautiful and powerfully-told story of buried secrets, set between the 1930s and the present day, on the wild Yorkshire moors.
Billy Shaw lives in a palace. Potter’s Pleasure Palace, the best entertainment venue in Yorkshire, complete with dancing and swing-boats and picnickers and a roller-skating rink.
Jasper Harper lives in the big house above the valley, with his eccentric mother Edie and Uncle Charles, brother and sister authors who have come from London to write in the seclusion of the moors.
When it is arranged for Billy to become Jasper’s companion, Billy arrives to find a wild, peculiar boy in a curiously haphazard household where nothing that’s meant is said and the air is thick with secrets. Later, when Charles and Edie are found dead, it is ruled a double suicide, but fictions have become tangled up in facts and it’s left to Anna Sallis, almost a century later, to unravel the knots and piece together the truth.

15) The Lying Game by Ruth Ware.

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The text message arrives in the small hours of the night. It’s just three words: I need you.
Isa drops everything, takes her baby daughter and heads straight to Salten. She spent the most significant days of her life at boarding school on the marshes there, days which still cast their shadow over her.

At school Isa and her three best friends used to play the Lying Game. They competed to convince people of the most outrageous stories. Now, after seventeen years of secrets, something terrible has been found on the beach. Something which will force Isa to confront her past, together with the three women she hasn’t seen for years, but has never forgotten.

Theirs is no cosy reunion: Salten isn’t a safe place for them, not after what they did. It’s time for the women to get their story straight…

16) The Marsh Kings Daughter by Karen Dionne. Read and reviewed The Marsh King’s Daughter by Karen Dionne.

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‘I was born two years into my mother’s captivity. She was three weeks shy of seventeen. If I had known then what I do now, things would have been a lot different. I would have been a lot more understanding of my mother. I wouldn’t have adored my father.’
When the notorious child abductor known as the Marsh King escapes from a maximum security prison, Helena immediately suspects that she and her two young daughters are in danger.
No one, not even her husband, knows the truth about Helena’s past: they don’t know that she was born into captivity, that she had no contact with the outside world before the age of twelve – or that her father raised her to be a killer.
And they don’t know that the Marsh King can survive and hunt in the wilderness better than anyone… except, perhaps his own daughter.

17) Little Bones by Sam Blake.

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Twenty-four-year-old Garda Cathy Connolly might be a fearless kick-boxing champion but when she discovers a baby’s bones concealed in the hem of a wedding dress, the case becomes personal.
For artist Zoe Grant, the bones are another mysterious twist in her mother’s disappearance. Then her grandmother, head of the Grant Valentine department store empire is found dead, and a trail of secrets is uncovered that threatens to shake a dynasty.
In a story that moves from London’s East End to the Las Vegas mafia, one thing is certain – for Cat, life will never be the same again.

18) The Girl In The Ice by Robert Bryznda.

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Her eyes are wide open. Her lips parted as if to speak. Her dead body frozen in the ice…She is not the only one.
When a young boy discovers the body of a woman beneath a thick sheet of ice in a South London park, Detective Erika Foster is called in to lead the murder investigation.
The victim, a beautiful young socialite, appeared to have the perfect life. Yet when Erika begins to dig deeper, she starts to connect the dots between the murder and the killings of three prostitutes, all found strangled, hands bound and dumped in water around London.
What dark secrets is the girl in the ice hiding?
As Erika inches closer to uncovering the truth, the killer is closing in on Erika.
The last investigation Erika led went badly wrong… resulting in the death of her husband. With her career hanging by a thread, Erika must now battle her own personal demons as well as a killer more deadly than any she’s faced before. But will she get to him before he strikes again

19) An Act Of Silence by Collette McBeth

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These are the facts I collect.

My son Gabriel met a woman called Mariela in a bar. She went home with him. They next morning she was found in an allotment.

Mariela is dead.

Gabriel has been asked to report to Camden Police station in six hours for questioning
Linda Moscow loves her son; it’s her biological instinct to keep him safe. But if she’s not sure of his innocence, how can she stand by him? Should she go against everything she believes in to protect him?
She’s done it before, and the guilt nearly killed her.

20) The Girl With No Past by Kathryn Croft.

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A gripping psychological thriller for fans of Gone Girl and The Girl on the Train.
Leah Mills lives a life of a fugitive – kept on the run by one terrible day from her past. It is a lonely life, without a social life or friends until – longing for a connection – she meets Julian. For the first time she dares to believe she can live a normal life.
Then, on the twentieth anniversary of that day, she receives a card. Someone knows the truth about what happened. Someone who won’t stop until they’ve destroyed the life Leah has created.
But is Leah all she seems? Or does she deserve everything she gets?
Everyone has secrets. But some are deadly.

The extra books I have chosen are:

A Sister’s Promise by Reneta de Silva.

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Two sisters. Bound by blood. Torn apart by love.
My sister – the glue that held our family together and the gatekeeper to the memories of our shared childhood.
The girl I made a pact with – to protect each other for life.
The woman who destroyed my family, my future.
And the only one who can save my daughter.
Set against the dramatic backdrop of India, A Sister’s Promise is a powerful, emotional tale of family secrets, love and the ties that bind sisters together.

The Crow Girl by Erik Axl Sund.

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It starts with just one body – the hands bound, the skin covered in marks.

Detective Superintendent Jeanette Kihlberg is determined to find out who is responsible, despite opposition from her superiors. When two more bodies are discovered, it becomes clear that she is hunting a serial killer.

With her career on the line, Kihlberg turns to psychotherapist Sofia Zetterlund. Together, they expose a chain of shocking events that began decades ago – but will it lead them to the murderer before someone else dies?

Six Tudor Queens, Anne Boleyn by Alison Weir.

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The young woman who changed the course of history.
Fresh from the palaces of Burgundy and France, Anne draws attention at the English court, embracing the play of courtly love.
But when the King commands, nothing is ever a game.
Anne has a spirit worthy of a crown – and the crown is what she seeks. At any price.
ANNE BOLEYN. The second of Henry’s Queens. Her story.
History tells us why she died. This powerful novel shows her as she lived.
SIX TUDOR QUEENS. SIX NOVELS. SIX YEARS.

The Front Seat Passenger by Pascal Garnier.

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Fabien and Sylvie both knew their marriage wasn’t working. But when Sylvie is involved in a fatal car accident, Fabien is stunned to discover she had a lover who died with her. Harbouring thoughts of revenge, he tracks down the lover’s widow, Martine, and begins stalking her. Fabien is desperate to get Martine on her own. And that won’t happen until he deals with her protective best friend, Madeleine…

This Family of Things by Alison Jameson.

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On his way back up from the yard Bird had seen something white and round – a girl who had curled herself into a ball. Lifting her was like retrieving a ball of newspaper from out of the grass or an empty crisp bag that someone had flung over the ditch. She seemed to lack the bones and meat and muscle of real people. She felt as if she was filled with feathers.

On the day Midge Connors comes hurtling into Bird Keegan’s life, she flings open his small, quiet world. He and his two sisters, Olive and Margaret, have lived in the same isolated community all their lives, each one more alone than the others can know.

Taking in damaged, sharp-edged Midge, Bird invites the scorn of his neighbours and siblings. And as they slowly mend each other, family bonds – and the tie of the land – begin to weigh down on their tentative relationship. Can it survive the misunderstandings, contempt and violence of others?

A poignant and powerful study of the emotional lives of three siblings and the girl who breaks through their solitude.

Hope To Die by David Jackson – Blog Tour Review.

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About the Book

On a bitterly cold winter’s night, Liverpool is left stunned by a brutal murder in the grounds of the city’s Anglican Cathedral. A killer is on the loose, driven by a chilling rage.

Put on the case, DS Nathan Cody is quickly stumped. Wherever he digs, the victim seems to be almost angelic – no-one has a bad word to say, let alone a motive for such a violent murder.

And Cody has other things on his mind too. The ghosts of his past are coming ever closer, and – still bearing the physical and mental scars – it’s all he can do to hold onto his sanity.

And then the killer strikes again . .

My Review

A follow up to A Tapping At My Door, Hope To Die could be read as a standalone novel but you would get more enjoyment from it if you know and understand why Nathan Cody is hurting emotionally and physically.
The novel starts with a murder in one of my favourite areas of Liverpool, the gardens surrounding the Anglican Cathedral. I’ve always enjoyed reading a novel where I know the area and the Cathedral and the Georgian Quarter of Liverpool is one I know quite well. The footpath where the murder takes place is one where I wouldn’t dream of going when its dark. There is a lot of history and a lot of graves!
All the team are there, my favourite character Blunt, Webley and Ferguson and of course Cody. Cody is still struggling with his demons and doesn’t know to handle Webley. Most of the time it ends up being the wrong way, which doesn’t go unnoticed by Blunt. There is also a new  member of the team. One who I really didn’t know whether I should like her or fear her. This was a person I found a little disturbing and I feel there is plenty to discover in further novels.
The murders take place quickly and there doesn’t appear to be a connection. There are also flashbacks from the person who could be the killer. There is no identification or any clue to when the events took place. They are, however, very convincing and quite upsetting because of how real they felt.
This is a study of different personalities and how the past can affect the present and the future. Both the killer and Cody have suffered but both cope or otherwise in different ways. Cody senses that the persecutors from the past are getting closer but he doesn’t know how to deal with it. The ending of the book showed that there is much more to come with this series.
With thanks to the publisher for the copy received.

Dark Hollow by John Connolly – Review.

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About the Book

Still raw from the brutal slayings of his wife and daughter, and the events surrounding the capture of their killer, The Travelling Man, Charlie Parker retreats to the wintry Maine landscape of his childhood. By following in the steps of his beloved grandfather, Parker hopes to heal his spirit and get through the bitter anniversary of Jennifer and Susan’s murder. But the echoes of the past that await him are not all benign. In a gruesome re-enactment of Parker’s own nightmares, another young woman is killed with her child and his brief involvement in their lives impels Parker to hunt their vicious murderer. As the death toll mounts, Parker comes to realise that the true answer to the puzzle lies thirty years in the past, in a tree with strange fruit, in his own grandfather’s history, and in the perverted desires of a monster incarnate – Caleb Kyle.

My Review

Dark Hollow is the second book in the series that features Charlie Parker. It is quite a while since I read the first one but it didn’t take me long to pick up on the ongoing personal story and the relationship between Charlie, and his wonderful friends Angel and Louis.
The book is quite dark, Charlie is obviously still mourning the death of his wife and daughter and is putting all his energy into making his Grandfather’s old home habitable. When he is asked to try and get child support from an old acquaintance he is placed yet again in danger.
I enjoy the supernatural elements in these novels. I just wish there more of them. They add a different slant to a storyline that some of which if fairly common. That of various gangs causing havoc for anybody who is unlucky enough to get too close. But there is also a less common storyline of a killer who has been in operation across generations. This was the story I was much more interested in and it was very sinister.
I love the relationship that Charlie has with Angel and Louis. The banter adds light heartedness to the creepy and often violent storylines. I hope that they continue to appear in subsequent novels.
This is a series that I need to catch up on. I’ve only read two of them, I think there are fifteen so I have a few to go. Many of them I don’t know the synopsis but the last two I have seen sound amazing. I have been reliably informed that they need to be read in order so I better get on with it.