The Deaths of December by Susi Holliday – Blog Tour Review.

 

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About the Book

The hunt is on for a serial killer in this thrilling festive crime novel

It looks like a regular advent calendar.
Until DC Becky Greene starts opening doors…and discovers a crime scene behind almost every one.
The police hope it’s a prank. Because if it isn’t, a murderer has just surfaced – someone who’s been killing for twenty years.
But why now? And why has he sent it to this police station?
As the country relaxes into festive cheer, Greene and DS Eddie Carmine must race against time to catch the killer. Because there are four doors left, and four murders will fill them…
It’s shaping up to be a deadly little Christmas.

My Review

Having read Susi’s previous series, The Banktoun trilogy and a handful of short stories I was looking forward to reading her latest novel. I hope that this book will be the start of a new series because it has great potential.
The investigation starts when an advent calendar arrives by post to the police station. But this is a calender with a difference, behind each door is the photograph of a murder scene and previously unconnected cases now appear otherwise.
There are four narrators – Eddie,Becky, Carly and the photographer. Eddie is a cop with a conscience who still feels regret over a cold case from years ago. As soon as he sees one of the photos he initially feels remorse but then hopes that he can finally find closure. Becky is new to the team and eager to prove herself. There is indication of trouble in her past but no details are given. Carly has major issues, her marriage is on the rocks and she is a heavy drinker. The photographer is on a mission, clever but increasingly desperate.
This was a book that was very easy to read and impossible to put down. I could feel the desire to find who was responsible for the murders as quickly as possible. Preferably before the break for Christmas. At times intimidating, it made me think how dangerous certain everyday things could be. I’m not saying more about that but I am glad that my house number is what it is!
One of the more convincing parts of the novel were the visits to the parent of the cold case victim. The grief and anger felt by the parent as well as the police was how I imagine it to be.
It’s a very readable novel with a case that is different that has to be solved by a team that are hard-working, and have a good team spirit. There was no officer who didn’t belong or begrudge another’s success in the team. I found it very refreshing.

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Lament the Common Bones by Jen J Danna with Ann Vanderlaan – Review.

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About the Book

When death hides in plain sight, only the most discerning eye can see the truth.

Forensic anthropologist Dr. Matt Lowell and his team of grad students don’t go looking for death—it usually comes to them. But when one of Matt’s students suspects the skeleton hanging in a top competitor’s lab is actually from a murder victim, Matt has no choice but to sneak in to confirm a suspicious death. Once the case comes to Massachusetts State Police Trooper Leigh Abbott, the team is back together again.

While trying to handle the new murder case, Matt and Leigh also uncover new evidence behind the mysterious deliveries intended to smear the name of Leigh’s father, an honored cop, fallen in the line of duty four years before. When the person behind the deliveries is finally uncovered, it becomes clear that lives are in jeopardy if they attempt to thwart him. At the same time, as the murder case delves into underground societies and grows complicated when the killer himself becomes a victim, it will take all of Matt and Leigh’s teamwork to solve both cases and escape with their lives.

My Review

With thanks to the authors for the copy received.
Even though I have read a couple of books by the authors before, none of them have been from this series. I had been assured that it would be easy to read this novel as a standalone book and I did so quite easily. I would however like to read the earlier books now because I loved the relationship between Abbott and Lowell and I want to know more about them.
There are two investigations running throughout the novel. One concerning a suspicious skeleton found in a lab and the other which is very personal to Abbott and concerns her father who died during a police operation. It was this investigation I enjoyed more, and even though there appeared to be some back story I could follow it easily.
There are a few chapters that concern forensics that I did struggle with slightly, not being the slightest bit scientific but fortunately it soon reverted back to ‘cop speak’ which I did understand.
All the characters were strong, even the minor ones, the respect from most and the antagonism from some felt real. But I thought the relationship between Abbott and Lowell was special and  a delight to read.
I would recommend this book to anybody who enjoys their detective fiction with a scientific slant, it was more convincing than some I have read and made me realise how much work goes into an investigation.

The Whitstable High Tide Swimming Club – Undertow by Katie May – Review.

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About the Book

THE WHITSTABLE HIGH TIDE SWIMMING CLUB is a serialized novel told in three parts – taking you through a year in the life of Deb (ageing bikini, sunglasses) and Maisie (black wetsuit, swimming shoes, goggles) and the other high tide swimmers. This is Part Two.
Deb has finally cut her feckless husband loose, but in many other ways her life is spiralling out of control. With no home, no money, and a chaotic love life, she finds an unusual way to keep both body and soul together.
She’s not even sure of her friendship with Maisie anymore. But there’s still something that bonds the two women together: their determination to stop anyone building on their beloved West Beach. And yet, as they begin to mount their protest, they find themselves threatened and ridiculed, and must fall back on every ounce of their resourcefulness to keep going.
What would they do without the High Tide Swimming Club, whose intrigues, dramas and escapades keep them afloat in troubled waters?

My Review

When I read the first part of this trilogy a few months ago I was surprised how much I liked it and I have been waiting impatiently ever since for part two. I placed it on pre -order and it arrived on my kindle on publication day.
It picks up exactly where it left off. The fight has increased between the developers and the swimming club regarding the building of bars and restaurants on the quieter area of the beach that the friends use. After a debate on the local radio station the knives are out between the local MP and Deb who refuses to back down.
But Maisie has other things on her mind and can’t give her full commitment to the fight. When she confides in Deb though she realises that she has more help than she thought.Deb’s life is still in a downturn, she needs somewhere to live and a job, has a very ungrateful daughter and a relationship that everybody else feels is unsuitable.
It is about as far removed from my usual choice of fiction as you can get and if it had been published in the usual format I probably wouldn’t have even noticed it. But the power of social media in regards to the publishing world brought it to my attention. It is a novel that makes you feel good about the world while you are reading it. There is the fight to protect what is important but it is all light-hearted. There is also poignancy and I feel that in part three I may need tissues. I hope I don’t have to wait long to read it.

Lay Me To Rest by E. A. Clark – Blog Blitz Review.

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About the Book

Some secrets never stay buried for long…
Devastated by the death of her husband, Annie Philips is shocked to discover she is pregnant with his unborn child. Hoping for a fresh start, she travels to a remote stone cottage in Anglesey, amidst the white-capped mountains of North Wales.
She settles in quickly, helped by her mysterious new neighbour, Peter. But everything changes when Annie discovers a small wooden box, inlaid with brass and mother-of-pearl. A box she was never supposed to find…
Annie soon realises that she isn’t alone in the cottage. And now she’s trapped. Can she escape the nightmare that she has awoken, or will the dark forces surrounding the house claim her life – and that of her baby.

My Review

I would like to thanks the publisher for the copy received.

I’ve always enjoyed paranormal fiction, sometimes I’m disappointed but I’m happy to say that Lay Me To Rest was one that worked for me and I am thrilled that it looks like there will be at least one more book.
Annie has gone to Wales for a few weeks holiday. The farm cottage she is to stay in was recommended by a friend of her sister. Newly widowed and pregnant with her first child she is looking forward to spending a few days on her own before her sister arrives. But straight away she senses a threat. And it is not one from the living. Whilst some of the occurences seem almost poltergeist they are not the only strange things to happen. The spirits are not just in the cottage, they follow her and seem to want to her help. Even though she has never believed in ghosts she knows that there is something wrong and tries to work out what has happened in the past and how she can be left alone. As well as the paranormal activity there is also a disappearance and Annie’s attempts to rebuild her life.
I liked Annie, she was finding it difficult to deal with decisions she had made in the past and was struggling to move on after the death of her husband. I could only admire her will, coping with what was happening in the cottage and knowing that she had to be strong for her unborn child. Many of the other characters were also likeable and just how I imagine them to be in a rural setting.
I was a little confused when the events in Wales were resolved earlier than expected, but life continued to be unusual for Annie when she was back home. This part of the storyline was if anything more sinister than earlier in the book and left me in anticipation for what was to come.
Strong characters, plenty of ghosts and a cracking storyline, I can’t wait to read more.

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The CWA Anthology of Short Stories Mystery Tour edited by Martin Edwards – Blog Tour Review.

 

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About the Book

Crime spreads across the globe in this new collection of short stories from the Crime Writer’s Association, as a conspiracy of prominent crime authors take you on a world mystery tour.

Highlights of the trip include a treacherous cruise to French Polynesia, a horrifying trek in South Africa, a murderous train-ride across Ukraine and a vengeful killing in Mumbai. But back home in the UK, life isn’t so easy either. Dead bodies turn up on the backstreets of Glasgow, crime writers turn words into deeds at literary events, and Lady Luck seems to guide the fate of a Twickenham hood. Showcasing the range, breadth and vitality of the contemporary crime-fiction genre, these twenty-eight chilling and unputdownable stories will take you on a trip you’ll never forget.

My Review

I rarely read short stories, and when I do they are usually all by the same author. Reading this proved to me that I am missing out on some fabulous stories and some great authors. Out of the twenty-eight that featured I had heard of about a dozen and read about eight.
They all had a common theme, that of travelling but all approached the subject in different ways. There were some fascinating places but also some which you would hope never to see.
I know that some of the reviewers chose to read these stories at random, picking known or favourite authors first but I chose to read them in the order they were in the book. I read a couple a day, that way each of the stories were getting the same amount of attention. I liked them all, I won’t say which was my most or least favourite, there are some clever, some humorous and some bizarre stories on offer. I didn’t dislike any of them.
I do find short stories harder to read than a full length novel, I find myself more aware of how many pages long they are. I wonder if it is similar for the author. Are they easier or harder to write?
I received my copy from the publisher for the review but I am eagerly looking forward to my limited edition copy arriving that will have been signed by some of the authors.
If you would like a signed copy you can find it here
If you would like the usual copy you can find it here.

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