The Girl Next Door by Phoebe Morgan – Guest Post

Today it is my pleasure to feature a guest post from Phoebe Morgan where she is talking about her favourite characters. I am reading her new novel The Girl Next Door via the pigeonhole app, where you read the novel as a series. I am enjoying the book a lot, and if it allowed me to read quicker I would do. I will tell you about the book first.

About The Book

One little lie just became deadly…

Perfect mother. Perfect wife. Jane Goodwin has spent years building her picture-perfect life in the quiet town of Ashdon.

So when the girl next door, sixteen-year-old Clare Edwards, is found murdered, Jane knows she must first protect her family.

Every marriage has a few white lies and hers is no exception. Jane’s worked hard to cover up her dark secret from all those years ago – and she’ll do anything to keep it hidden…

Guest Post

My Top 5 Characters in Psych Thrillers

I work as an editor in my day job so I have read a LOT of psychological thrillers – I’m lucky to read for a living! This is a tough question as there are so many great characters but my top five would have to be…

  1. Paul in Lie With Me by Sabine Durrant – I absolutely LOVED this book, it’s a wonderfully sinister, creepy read and the main character, Paul, really got under my skin. I think Sabine Durrant is one of the most talented writers around, and highly recommend this one in particular. A lot of the books I read feature female protagonists so it was refreshing to have a male voice in this one.
  • Cordelia Russell in Skin Deep by Liz Nugent – Liz Nugent is another fantastic writer and someone I’ll drop everything for. I don’t pre-order that many books (though you should, it really helps authors!) but I do pre-order all of Liz Nugent’s. Cordelia is an amazingly dislikeable character, but she is mesmerising at the same time – and the entire book is based around the message that beauty only goes skin deep. It’s a fascinating portrayal of a very disturbed mind.
  • This is a bit unfair because I helped edit this book, but Wendy in The Fear by C.L. Taylor is a brilliant character. I can’t give too much away but there was a moment when reading Cally’s book when she really gave me the creeps, and it’s stuck in my mind ever since. Cally is the master of creating great female characters.
  • Kate, the barrister in Anatomy of a Scandal by Sarah Vaughan, is another very three dimensional character and there’s a very good twist in the novel that makes you realise nothing is quite what it seems in Kate’s life. The author has clearly done her research as the world of criminal law and the depictions of London are wonderful, and Kate herself carries the narrative flawlessly.
  • Bram Lawson in Our House by Louise Candlish – gosh, this really is a clever book! After reading it I went back and read all of Louise’s backlist whilst on holiday in France, but start with this one as it truly is magnificent. Bram is a man who has made a terrible mistake and got himself into a dangerous mess, but his characters is so deceptive that it’s quite hard to feel sorry for him. His voice really pulls you in and the final few pages made me gasp! Well worth reading. 

The Glass Woman by Caroline Lea – Blog Tour Review.

About The Book

1686, Iceland. 

An isolated, windswept land haunted by witch trials and steeped in the ancient sagas . . . 
_

Betrothed unexpectedly to Jón Eiríksson, Rósa is sent to join her new husband in the remote village of Stykkishólmur. Here, the villagers are wary of outsiders.

But Rósa harbours her own suspicions. Her husband buried his first wife alone in the dead of night. He will not speak of it. 

The villagers mistrust them both. Dark threats are whispered. There is an evil here – Rósa can feel it. Is it her husband, the villagers – or the land itself?

Alone and far from home, Rósa sees the darkness coming. 

She fears she will be its next victim . . .

My Review

With thanks to the publisher for the copy received. I have read books set in Iceland before but never one set in the 1600s. I imagined it to be similar to one set at the same time in the UK, but I was wrong. I have never read a book like this before. 

There are many reasons, the snow is just one. The book takes place between October and December and the weather is pretty grim. I just can’t imagine anything like the conditions described. How you could cause damage to your skin by wiping away tears.

There are the sagas, the folklore, the superstition, the attitudes towards them by the more religious people. The threat of execution for those who believed in something different. The way of living and coping with extreme poverty and the ways in which some would use that to their advantage to get what they want.

I felt tense at times reading it, mainly because I couldn’t work out which way the novel would go. Was Rósa safe from Jon and Petur or would they do her harm? Would she be able to make friends in the community or would she be regarded with suspicion and resentment.

Most of the time it is about Rósa but there are increasing accounts from Jon and it is was these that gave insight into what happened with Anna, Petur and the way he dealt with the consequences.But it was Rosa’s story I preferred. I admired her will, her passion and her loyalty. And  I found what happened towards the end of the novel concerning what was in the loft one of the more moving parts of the novel. 

I loved this book, the claustrophobic atmosphere, all of the characters and the loyalty, emotion and stubborness shown by Rósa and her friend Katrin was remarkable.


Flowers Over The Inferno by Ilaria Tuti – Blog Tour Review

About The Book

In a quiet village surrounded by the imposing Italian Alps, a series of brutal assaults take place. 

Police inspector Teresa Battaglia is called in when the first body is found. Soon more victims are discovered – all horrifically mutilated – and when a new-born baby is kidnapped, Teresa’s investigation becomes a race against the clock. 

But Teresa is also fighting a battle against her own body, weighed down by age and diabetes, and her mind, once invincible and now slowly gnawing away at her memory… 

My Review

With thanks to the publisher for the copy received. I loved everything about Flowers Over The Inferno. First the setting, I read quite a bit of European fiction but this is the first that I have read that is set in this part of the world, the Italian/ Austrian border. It sounded magical, the tiny village that needed tourism to survive but was aware of the damage that it could also cause to the land. But the reason I loved the book so much was because of the characters, especially  Superintendent Teresa Battaglia and her new recruit Massimo Marini. I was cringing at their first encounter when he wrongly assumed that his new boss was male. 

I read a lot of crime fiction and a lead character that is a loner, drinker, has emotional baggage etc etc is the norm. But Teresa is a little different. Yes she is a loner, but she is also a lot older, has health issues, and she makes Ann Cleeve’s Vera look like a pussycat. All of her team love, respect and fear her in equal measures. 

Marini is determined to break down her barriers despite her rudeness and he does but she isn’t prepared to make it easy for him. Or let him now that she is impressed by his efforts. 

Stand out moments were the way she was with the children, she made them relaxed and broke down the barriers that could exist between child and adult, especially if that adult was a stranger and a police officer. But also the way she made me feel sympathy for the culprit and this was mainly down to Teresa insisting that there was more happening than random violence. She made me look at the reasons why and understand what they were going through. 

I want to read more about these two, I see a fantastic relationship in the future.

A Version Of The Truth by B. P. Walter – Blog Tour Review.

About The Book

We all see what we want to see…

2019: Julianne is preparing a family dinner when her son comes to her and says he’s found something on his iPad. Something so terrible, it will turn Julianne’s world into a nightmare and make her question everything about her marriage and what type of man her husband is or is pretending to be.

1990: Holly is a fresher student at Oxford University. Out of her depth and nervous about her surroundings, she falls into an uneasy friendship with a group of older students from the upper echelons of society and begins to develop feelings for one in particular. He’s confident, quiet, attractive and seems to like her too. But as the year progresses, her friends’ behaviour grows steadily more disconcerting and Holly begins to realise she might just be a disposable pawn in a very sinister game.

A devastating secret has simmered beneath the surface for over twenty-five years. Now it’s time to discover the truth. But what if you’re afraid of what you might find?

My Review

With thanks to the publisher for the copy received. A Version Of The Truth wasn’t really what I expected it to be. I did expect secrets to be revealed and for lives to fall apart. What I didn’t expect was for the storyline to be mainly about how one of the characters dealt with what she found out. I also didn’t expect to detest so many of the characters, most of them are repulsive. There were only two I liked throughout, but they appeared less than everybody else. Two did grow on me as I read more and I realised how they had been duped. The others were cruel, controlling, elitist and they had many other faults that I struggle to reveal without spoilers.

Narrated by both Julianne and Holly my feelings changed a few times about whose account I preferred to read. Julianne appealed most at first, her account was more about how she handled realising that she had never really known her husband. When I found out what really happened to Holly and saw more of her strength I found I preferred her. I wanted her to be strong, happy and away from the university and her unfeeling mother.

I did find the ending a little abrupt, but overall its a good debut.

The Stepney Doorstep Society by Kate Thompson – Extract.

About The Book

The unsung and remarkable stories of the women who held London’s East End together during not one, but two world wars. 

Meet Minksy, Gladys, Beatty, Joan, Girl Walker . . . 

While the men were at war, these women ruled the streets of the East End. Brought up with firm hand in the steaming slums and teeming tenements, they struggled against poverty to survive, and fought for their community in our country’s darkest hours.

But there was also joy to be found. From Stepney to Bethnal Green, Whitechapel to Shoreditch, the streets were alive with peddlers and market stalls hawking their wares, children skipping across dusty hopscotch pitches, the hiss of a gas lamp or the smell of oxtail stew. You need only walk a few steps for a smile from a neighbour or a strong cup of tea.

From taking over the London Underground, standing up to the Kray twins and crawling out of bombsites, The Stepney Doorstep Society tells the vivid and moving stories of the matriarchs who remain the backbone of the East End to this day.

Extract

Eleven a.m. Sunday, 18 June 1944. The neighbourhood was alive with word of a new bomb, which had landed at 10 a.m. that morning. Flying shrapnel from the anti-aircraft guns had injured a man, but amazingly, no one had been killed.

‘Sounds like a one-off,’ declared Gladys’ mum,Mary. ‘Be a good girl and take your sisters out for some fresh air.’

Twelve-year-old Gladys did as she was told, bumping the pram containing her two younger sisters down the concrete steps and out into a drowsy Sunday morning. She had just taken the turning into Marsham Street, when a strange spluttering sound broke open the still summer air.

Gladys stopped. Listened. She stared up at the sky, then back to the faces of her two sisters in their pram. No siren had gone off.

What should she do?

In wartime, the smallest action had a consequence. Her mind flashed alarmingly back to the Blitz. It had been three and a half years since she’d seen her best friend’s body carried past her, encased in a cardboard coffin.

The noise grew more persistent. The green leaves on the tree trembled. The sound rose up from the bowels of the earth, growing from a dull throbbing to a full-throttle staccato. A feeling, primal in its intensity, gripped her. Palms slippery with sweat, she gripped the handles of the pram and took off, her skinny white legs pumping in the direction of whatever looked like safety.

Spotting an alcove in the side of Westminster Hospital nurses home, Gladys managed to push the pram inside to safety and wedged herself in next to it. Gazing up, her blue eyes widened in horror. God in heaven, what was it?

A huge black rocket was heading unswervingly in their direction. Heart punching in her chest, she squeezed her eyes shut.

Please don’t let the babies be killed.

A tremendous noise rose up over the neighbourhood. The pom-pom guns started firing, the siren wailed. ..But over it all, the continual putt-putt of whatever that thing was bored through her brain like a speedway motorbike.

A dark shadow engulfed the pram. Silence. The engine had cut out.

Where is it? she wondered, sticking her head out of the alcove for a closer look. The rocket was slicing through the skies towards them.

Fear crashed over her, her blood roaring through her ears. Helpless tears streamed down her cheeks.

Please God, don’t let it be us . . .

She closed her eyes, but when she opened them again, she could see the rocket lurching, changing course. All of a sudden, it nosedived with terrifying speed straight into the Wellington Barracks, home to the Regiment of Guards. A thick, choking cloud of smoke mushroomed into the sky. The noise and debris was out of this world, but Gladys wasn’t hanging around to see who’d copped it. Pushing the pram out of the alcove, she turned and ran like a bat out of hell in the direction of home.