Sweet Little Lies by Caz Frear.


About the Book


In 1998, Maryanne Doyle disappeared and Dad knew something about it?
Maryanne Doyle was never seen again.


In 1998, Dad lied about knowing Maryanne Doyle.
Alice Lapaine has been found strangled near Dad’s pub.
Dad was in the local area for both Maryanne Doyle’s disappearance and Alice Lapaine’s murder – FACT

Trust cuts both ways . . . what do you do when it’s gone?

My Review

I found Sweet Little Lies to be a great story. Cat is a police officer who uses her Mother’s maiden name. If she used her actual surname her secret would have been revealed and she wouldn’t have had the involvement with the case that she did. I loved her character and the volatile relationship that she had with her family. Her closest relation was her older sister but that relationship was at times difficult. When the body of Alice Lapaine is found near to her father’s pub I could barely wait to see how she would handle the situation and if she would reveal secrets from her childhood.
I liked the flashbacks to the family holiday in Ireland. The way she was teased over her fascination over pop groups at the time, her desire to be noticed by the older girls in the village, the locals and the way local places were described. The ‘pot-holey’ road being one of them. And then when it became more sinister when a local teenager disappears.
The investigation was a convincing one, showing a realistic pace. Murder isn’t always quick to solve and the team had days with no information coming in. The team was also convincing, all the officers were different with their strengths and weaknesses but Cat was willing to learn from each of them even if they weren’t people she liked.
I didn’t work this mystery out, the murderer and the reasons why the murder happened were cleverly hidden. I did find the ending a little abrupt but it didn’t stop me enjoying the book.
I would love this to become a series. I thought all the characters were strong enough to appear in further books and I would love to see what Cat does next.
With thanks to the publisher for the copy received.
The book can be purchased at Amazon or Waterstones

Sweet Little Lies – Guest Post featuring Caz Frear.


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.


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.”


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.


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

Exquisite blog tour poster (1)

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

ML Rio

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.


The Marsh King’s Daughter by Karen Dionne.


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