Reconciliation For The Dead – Blog Tour Review.

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About the Book

Fresh from events in Yemen and Cyprus, vigilante justice-seeker Claymore Straker returns to South Africa, seeking absolution for the sins of his past. Over four days, he testifies to Desmond Tutu s newly established Truth and Reconciliation Commission, recounting the shattering events that led to his dishonourable discharge and exile, fifteen years earlier.
It was 1980. The height of the Cold War. Clay is a young paratrooper in the South African Army, fighting in Angola against the Communist insurgency that threatens to topple the White Apartheid regime. On a patrol deep inside Angola, Clay, and his best friend, Eben Barstow, find themselves enmeshed in a tangled conspiracy that threatens everything they have been taught to believe about war, and the sacrifices that they, and their brothers in arms, are expected to make. Witness and unwitting accomplice to an act of shocking brutality, Clay changes allegiance and finds himself labelled a deserter and accused of high treason, setting him on a journey into the dark, twisted heart of institutionalised hatred, from which no one will emerge unscathed.
Exploring true events from one of the most hateful chapters in South African history, Reconciliation for the Dead is a shocking, explosive and gripping thriller from one finest writers in contemporary crime fiction.

My Review

Reconciliation For The Dead is the third book in the series to feature Claymore Straker. I have only read the previous book The Evolution of Fear and this book being a prequel goes some way to explaining the reasoning for some of the events that happened there.
In this book, Clay is testifying at the Truth and Reconciliation Commission about events that happened during 1980. Most the book takes place in 1980 but does return to 1996 for updates on Clay’s experience in front of the panel. There is no doubt about it, the scenes described are horrifying and brutal.
I should confess that I found the political aspect of the novel confusing. I was only twelve years old in 1980 and had no idea what was happening outside of my own little world. I have learned since about some of what happened but some of the scenes described were a bit of a shock. Even though it is fiction I felt that much of it was based on fact.
Clay had done things he wasn’t proud of. He was only twenty years old at the time. Much of what he did would have been as the result of direct orders. But he was trying to make amends and it was impossible to dislike him.
On a different note, I enjoyed reading this novel feeling like I could hear the South African accent. Most the words I didn’t know the direct translation for but I didn’t need to use much imagination to work it out.
I found it a great follow up to The Evolution of Fear and would be interested in what happens next.
With thanks to Karen Sullivan for the copy received.
You can buy a copy at Amazon or Waterstones

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The Many Colours Of Us by Rachel Burton – Blog Tour Review.

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About the Book

What if your life was built on lies?
Julia Simmonds had never been bothered about not knowing who her father was. Having temperamental supermodel, Philadelphia Simmonds, as a mother was more than enough. Until she discovers she’s the secret love-child of the late, great artist Bruce Baldwin, and her life changes forever.
Uncovering the secrets of a man she never knew, Julia discovers that Bruce had written her one letter, every year until her eighteenth birthday, urging his daughter to learn from his mistakes.
Julia begins to dig deeper into the mysterious past of her parents, opening up a history she’d never have imagined, but as she discovers the truth she needs to decide if she is willing to forgive and forget…

My Review

I only occasionally read a romance fiction but every now again I appreciate a break from my usual choice of crime fiction. I am glad that I noticed the opportunity to read this book as part of a blog tour because I really enjoyed it.

Julia’s life changes completely when the father she has never known makes her the sole beneficiary in his will. As well as the property, money and possessions she is also handed a series of letters that has always been returned unopened. She has to come to terms with why her mother did this, as well as the reasons why his identity was always kept secret. Luckily there were quite a few people, all who knew what she didn’t, who could help.
This was a novel that I found very quick to read. I thought it was a lovely story with some very engaging people. I enjoyed Delph’s attempts at rebuilding the relationship with her daughter in the only way she knew. Even if it wasn’t the easiest way it worked. I loved the budding romance between Julia and Edwin, his disappointment at not remembering him from when she was a child and both of their reluctance to admit their feelings for each other. Happily, all the other characters and the reader could see how they were meant to be together. I don’t think there was one weak character, or one that I didn’t like. They all felt like normal people with good points and bad.
As I said earlier, this novel was out of my comfort zone but I’m glad that I have a found a new author whose books I will look out for in the future.
With thanks to the author for the copy received and to Jenny Marston for the chance to take part in the blog tour.
The Book can be purchased at Amazon

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Block 46 by Johana Gustawsson – Blog Tour Review.

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About the Book

Evil remembers…
Falkenberg, Sweden. The mutilated body of talented young jewellery designer, Linnea Blix, is found in a snow-swept marina.
Hampstead Heath, London. The body of a young boy is discovered with similar wounds to Linnea’s.
Buchenwald Concentration Camp, 1944. In the midst of the hell of the Holocaust, Erich Hebner will do anything to see himself as a human again.
Are the two murders the work of a serial killer, and how are they connected to shocking events at Buchenwald?
Emily Roy, a profiler on loan to Scotland Yard from the Canadian Royal Mounted Police, joins up with Linnea’s friend, French true crime writer Alexis Castells, to investigate the puzzling case. They travel between Sweden and London, and then deep into the past, as a startling and terrifying connection comes to light.
Plumbing the darkness and the horrific evidence of the nature of evil, Block 46 is a multi-layered, sweeping and evocative thriller that heralds a stunning new voice in French Noir.

My Review

I had heard plenty about Block 46 prior to reading it. But nothing I had heard prepared me for what I would be reading. It is probably one of the most chilling and thought provoking books that I have ever read. One that can still make me feel edgy a week after finishing it.
It is mainly set in the modern day in England and Sweden where detectives from each country are joined by Alexis who was a close friend of the latest victim and Emily a profiler. They were all trying to find out who was responsible for murders in both countries.
But there are also parts of the novel that are set in Buchenwald in 1944/45. I have read a few novels that mention the Holocaust before but never before have I read anything that felt as personal and affected me as much as this. The cruelty and random acts of violence, the hunger, the stench, loneliness, and the desperation all had a huge impact on me. One section of the novel towards the end left me freezing cold and in tears. It also had me re-evaluating a section of the novel I had read earlier and how different events are when seen through another person’s eyes. As the novel progresses you see how the two stories connect but the author is very clever. At no point during the narration did I see or work out anything.
The relationship between Alexis and her parents was light relief during the novel even though they only appear briefly. I liked Alexis and Emily, at times they seemed to clash but I’m looking forward to seeing how their relationship progresses. I think there is a lot more to learn about Emily.
I found the story strong enough to work out well as a series but the Buchenwald storyline made this book so much more than a usual crime novel. This was an account that needed to be told and has catapulted it into my top ten list of books read. Not just in 2017 but my all-time top ten.
With thanks to the publisher for my copy received.

You can buy the book at Amazon and Waterstones

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The Lies Within by Jane Isaac – Blog Tour Review.

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About the Book

Be under no illusions by her kind face and eloquent manner… This woman is guilty of murder.
Grace Daniels is distraught after her daughter’s body is found in a Leicestershire country lane. With her family falling apart and the investigation going nowhere, Grace’s only solace is the re-emergence of Faye, an old friend who seems to understand her loss.
DI Will Jackman delves into the case, until a family tragedy and a figure from his past threaten to derail him.
When the police discover another victim, the spotlight falls on Grace. Can Jackman find the killer, before she is convicted of a crime she didn’t commit?

My Review

The Lies Within is the latest book in the series that features Will Jackman. It is slightly different to the previous books, focusing on the victim’s family rather than Will so is easily read as a standalone.
Will is on secondment to the Leicestershire police when Jo is found murdered. It looks similar to other attacks and the team are eager to solve the case before other women are attacked. Will is under pressure from his boss professionally and personally, his wife’s health deteriorates and the investigation takes a back seat. That is, until there is another murder.
Much of the novel is concerned with Grace and her family and how they coped with the aftermath of Jo’s murder. You see how suffocated Grace was by the police presence, how she felt when she was denied access to her daughter’s possessions and the frustration at getting no answers. It was convincing, watching their lives fall apart and how they all coped in different ways. It showed that there was no wrong way.
It is a slow burning novel. The trial and the murderer being revealed is towards the end of the novel. Will and his team are trying to solve the case, Grace has found a friend in Faye but you know that with her nothing is as it seems. She was too good to be true. It was a good ending, I like to think it was a happy one for Grace’s family. It was one that made you think about what you would do in similar circumstances.
I hope that this series continues, I want to see Will’s family life improve and for him to be happy.
With thanks to the publisher for the copy received.

You can buy the book at Amazon or Waterstones

Tag – You’re Dead by Douglas Skelton – Blog Tour Review.

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About the Book

Maverick investigator Dominic Queste is on the trail of missing butcher Sam Price. But he soon uncovers links to a killer with a taste for games. What began as a simple favour for his girlfriend quickly descends into a battle for survival against an enemy who has no qualms about turning victims into prime cuts. Amidst a twisted game of cat and mouse, suspicious coppers, vicious crooks and a seemingly random burglary, Queste has to keep his wits about him. Or he might just find himself on the butcher’s block.

My Review

From the opening chapter of this brilliant novel I was kicking myself for never coming across any of the author’s novels before.
It is the second in the series to feature Dominic Queste but it’s very easy to read without knowing the backstory. There were unexplained issues where Dominic has obviously frustrated the local police but it didn’t impact on my enjoyment.
From the start I was aware of the similarities to Philip Marlowe. The main difference is that the novel is set in Glasgow. Most of the characters are prepared to break the law but it is nearly always with good intention. I liked the humour very much. Its violent but doesn’t go into as much detail as others that I have read.
I liked the way Glasgow was described, the difference between the rundown and the affluent areas was convincing. Some of the slang words were a little lost on me and I had to resort to the kindle dictionary a few times. But the definitions made perfect sense in the dialogue.
A great story, with some fantastic characters who I would love to see again. They all stood out with their commitment, humour and flaws. Dominic, especially had made his way into my list of favourite fictional characters.

You can purchase the book here
With thanks to the publisher for the copy received and the chance to participate in the blog tour.

Crimson Lake by Candice Fox – Blog Tour Review.

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About the Book

12.46: 13-year-old Claire Bingley stands alone at a bus stop

12.47: Ted Conkaffey parks his car beside her

12.52: The girl is missing . . .Six minutes – that’s all it took to ruin Detective Ted Conkaffey’s life.

Accused but not convicted of Claire’s abduction, he escapes north, to the steamy, croc-infested wetlands of Crimson Lake.

Amanda Pharrell knows what it’s like to be public enemy no.1. Maybe it’s her murderous past that makes her so good as a private investigator, tracking lost souls in the wilderness. Her latest target, missing author Jake Scully, has a life more shrouded in secrets than her own – so she enlists help from the one person in town more hated than she is: Ted Conkaffey.

But the residents of Crimson Lake are watching the pair’s every move. And for Ted, a man already at breaking point, this town is offering no place to hide . . .

My Review

I had a feeling that Crimson Lake was going to be a bit different when Ted, the lead character helped an injured goose and named it Woman. It amused me that every time he approached her she got aggressive. As the story progressed his care of her and her babies was respite from some of the pretty grim moments that Ted had to endure.
After the trial that ended his marriage and career fell apart from lack of evidence he moves north to a remote area in Cairns. When his lawyer puts him in touch with Amanda Pharrell he is given something to focus on.
If it hadn’t been clear from the beginning that Ted was innocent I probably wouldn’t have given this book a second glance. But I’m glad that I did read it, the book is very good and its original. The Australian humour had me giggling a few times. Mainly at his attempts to understand Amanda and his attempts to tame Woman.
Amanda is damaged, you don’t find out what happened to her until the end and it explained a lot about why she had built her defensive mechanism. Her character was amazing, she was easier to warm to then Ted at first.
The scenes with Ted at the mercy of the baying mob, headed up by the two bullying police officers was at times uncomfortable to read. It was a stark example of how media feed a frenzied crowd. The whole novel is more raw than the usual British and American fiction that I usually read, but that was part of its appeal. I hope that it will be a new series, it has great potential.
With thanks to the publisher for the copy received via NetGalley.

You can buy the book here

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The Two O’Clock Boy by Mark Hill – Review.

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About the Book

TWO CHILDHOOD FRIENDS… ONE BECAME A DETECTIVE… ONE BECAME A KILLER…
Thirty years ago, the Longacre Children’s Home stood on a London street where once-grand Victorian homes lay derelict. There its children lived in terror of Gordon Tallis, the home’s manager.
Then Connor Laird arrived: a frighteningly intense boy who quickly became Tallis’ favourite criminal helper. Soon after, destruction befell the Longacre, and the facts of that night have lain buried . . . until today.
Now, a mysterious figure, the Two O’clock Boy, is killing all who grew up there, one by one. DI Ray Drake will do whatever it takes to stop the murders – but he will go even further to cover up the truth.

My Review

The Two O’ Clock Boy is one of the brilliantly twisty novels that I have read for a long time. Flick Cowley is investigating the murder of a family and whilst investigating realises that there is a link with other murders. The victims all had a link with an old children’s home. Her superior officer Ray Drake is helping and guiding her through her first major case. But he is also manipulating evidence and discouraging her from looking into the past. Understandably she is annoyed and confused by his actions. In some ways they are similar, both have personal problems. Ray has recently lost his wife and his daughter in struggling with her grief has turned against him.
Some of the people who have been murdered spent time at Longacre, a children’s home that had serious issues. Part of the novel reveals what happened there in 1984 and was unfortunately believable. But the main storyline deals with the current investigation and trying to keep the remaining members of the home safe.
I have read many crime novels but I can honestly say that I have never read any like this. I often see twists coming and sometimes I am disappointed by them. Sometimes they have no seeable connection to the rest of the story. But in this novel, I had no idea what was going to happen, what had happened and who the murderer was. The twists were all very well hidden and they all worked. Not once was I left shaking my head in disbelief.
I don’t know if this is a standalone or the first in a series. Each would work perfectly well but I would love to see a follow up. This is a book that will definitely be one of my top ten books for 2017.
With thanks to the publisher for the copy received.
You can buy the book at amazon or Waterstones
Mark Hill will be taking part in First Monday Crime on May 8th. This looks like it will be a fantastic evening. Details can be found here

Time to Win by Harry Brett – Blog Tour Review.

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About the Book

When local crime boss Richard Goodwin is pulled from the river by his office it looks like suicide. But as his widow Tatiana feared, Rich collected enemies like poker chips, and half of Great Yarmouth’s criminal fraternity would have had reason to kill him.
Realising how little she knows about the man she married, Tatty seeks to uncover the truth about Rich’s death and take over the reins of the family business, overseeing a waterfront casino deal Rich hoped would put Yarmouth on the map.
Out of the shadows at last, it is Tatty’s time now, and she isn’t going to let Rich’s brother, or anyone else, stand in her way. But an American has been in town asking the right people the wrong questions, more bodies turn up, along with a brutal new gang. The stakes have never been higher.
With her family to protect, and a business to run, Tatty soon learns that power comes with a price . .

My Review

One of the first things that occurred to me when reading Time to Win was how the tourist board connected to Great Yarmouth would feel seeing how the area was portrayed in the novel. However, after visiting numerous UK seaside resorts out of season I feel that it is probably accurate.
I often wonder which type of character an author finds harder to create. The ones that the reader will love or the ones they will hate. Most of the characters who feature are unpleasant, although Tatty and Frank did grow on me as I read more.
Rich only appears in the prologue so you don’t really get to know him. The only member of his family who seemed to mourn him was Sam even though she too ridiculed him along with her siblings. They are a family who are capable of anything. They are feared but not everybody they try and control give in to their demands. Ben and Sam are more distant from the criminal activities that occur but they have been groomed for the future. They do feel the financial benefits though. Zach is probably just like his father and one of the more unlikeable characters in the novel.
It’s definitely part of a series, not many issues have been resolved by the end of the book. This reader wants to know more about Frank and Tatty, especially her past. I feel there is a lot more to learn about nearly everybody who featured.

With thanks to the publisher for the copy received.

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Dead Woman Walking by Sharon Bolton – Blog Tour Review.

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About the Book

Just before dawn in the hills near the Scottish border, a man murders a young woman. At the same time, a hot-air balloon crashes out of the sky. There’s just one survivor.

She’s seen the killer’s face – but he’s also seen hers. And he won’t rest until he’s eliminated the only witness to his crime.

Alone, scared, trusting no one, she’s running to where she feels safe – but it could be the most dangerous place of all . . .

My Review

I had been looking forward to reading Dead Woman Walking since reading the opening chapter via a link from the author. I had an anxious few weeks to think about what would happen before I was lucky enough to receive a proof copy and the opportunity to participate in the blog tour.
The first few chapters detailing the events surrounding the hot-air balloon crash have put me off for life. They were very convincing, and I don’t like to think about which of the passengers I would have had a similar reaction to.
Once I had started reading it was hard to stop. The just one more chapter rule didn’t apply, some of them were very short so I dropped everything and just read constantly. Dropping all the other books that I was reading at the same time.
The narrative was mainly in the present day but it did jump back occasionally to reveal events from Jessica and Isobel’s childhood. These parts gave hints to why Isobel ended up in the convent and why Jessica became a police officer. There are also a few flashbacks concerning Ajax, the police officer involved in the investigation into the hot-air balloon.
I loved the storyline concerning the convent, the cleverly named peafowl and the existence that all the Nuns had. I had never considered that a Nun might have had a family of her own and a connection to the outside world and I had never thought that Nuns might watch TV or have an interest in solving crime. They were all the most likeable characters in the novel.
It’s difficult to say anything about the plot without spoilers so I would just say if you like a novel that tackles a subject that is mentioned often in the news and has plenty of twists then you will love this book. A great follow up to Daisy in Chains.
With thanks to the publisher for the copy received.

To buy the book at amazon or Waterstones

Other stops on the blog tour

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Larchfield by Polly Clark – Review.

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About the Book

It’s early summer when a young poet, Dora Fielding, moves to Helensburgh on the west coast of Scotland and her hopes are first challenged. Newly married, pregnant, she’s excited by the prospect of a life that combines family and creativity. She thinks she knows what being a person, a wife, a mother, means. She is soon shown that she is wrong. As the battle begins for her very sense of self, Dora comes to find the realities of small town life suffocating, and, eventually, terrifying; until she finds a way to escape reality altogether.
Another poet, she discovers, lived in Helensburgh once. Wystan H. Auden, brilliant and awkward at 24, with his first book of poetry published, should be embarking on success and society in London. Instead, in 1930, fleeing a broken engagement, he takes a teaching post at Larchfield School for boys where he is mocked for his Englishness and suspected – rightly – of homosexuality. Yet in this repressed limbo Wystan will fall in love for the first time, even as he fights his deepest fears.
The need for human connection compels these two vulnerable outsiders to find each other and make a reality of their own that will save them both. Echoing the depths of Possession, the elegance of The Stranger’s Child and the ingenuity of Longbourn, Larchfield is a beautiful and haunting novel about heroism – the unusual bravery that allows unusual people to go on living; to transcend banality and suffering with the power of their imagination

My Review

I’m not a huge fan of poetry but when this surprise book post arrived I liked the sound of it. It wasn’t my usual choice of fiction but I do like to read something a little different. It did take me a while to get into but once I did, I found it a fascinating read.
Wystan’s story was the one that I enjoyed more. A poet who I had heard of but knew nothing about. So, as I was reading I was also looking for more information about him via the internet, especially his friendship with Christopher Isherwood in a 1930s Berlin. His character seemed to be very loyal to his few friends, and very supportive of his pupils. The chapters that concerned him were much easier to read.
Dora, herself a poet, was missing her life in Oxford. Life in Scotland was different to the academic lifestyle which she used to have. She was also struggling to cope with a premature baby and had a pair of very vindictive neighbours.
The account of a life in the 1930s where homosexuality was illegal and shameful and the account of a life in modern day where postnatal depression could easily be misunderstood gave plenty to think about. Both were fully aware of what people thought of them and Dora especially felt isolated and struggled to cope with the attitudes of people around her.
Beautifully written, it is at times unsettling with some of the attitudes shown towards both the characters  and the situation in Berlin. A captivating novel, by an author I would read again.
With thanks to the publisher for the copy received.