The Drowned City by K. J. Maitland – Blog Tour Review.

About The Book

1606. A year to the day that men were executed for conspiring to blow up Parliament, a towering wave devastates the Bristol Channel. Some proclaim God’s vengeance. Others seek to take advantage.

In London, Daniel Pursglove lies in prison waiting to die. But Charles FitzAlan, close adviser to King James I, has a job in mind that will free a man of Daniel’s skill from the horrors of Newgate. If he succeeds.

For Bristol is a hotbed of Catholic spies, and where better for the lone conspirator who evaded arrest, one Spero Pettingar, to gather allies than in the chaos of a drowned city? Daniel journeys there to investigate FitzAlan’s lead, but soon finds himself at the heart of a dark Jesuit conspiracy – and in pursuit of a killer.

My Review

With thanks to the publisher for the copy received. I  enjoy reading historical fiction and always feel I’m in for a treat when the book I’m reading sends me to look for further information on the internet. In this novel that occurred after reading the prologue. I’d had no idea that Bristol was flooded in the 17th century.

Apart from the witch trials I don’t know that much about the reign of James I but I was aware of Robert Cecil. The author has brilliantly described both and neither come across as very nice people. But they both only appear briefly and most of this novel concerns the people of Bristol. A city that is struggling to cope with the aftermath of the floods, the superstitions and the horrifying religious attitudes at the time. This was one of the more convincing accounts that I have read and I fully believe that events such as the ones described occurred.

There were so many characters I was fascinated by. Daniel, Rachael, Myles and Mistress Crugge were just a few of the them. All different, all passionate and all determined to survive. And at times it seemed that Bristol also had its own character. It isn’t somewhere I know, but time and time again I was looking for buildings, streets and local history on the internet.

It was also a book that made me slightly nauseous. The accounts of what the flood left behind, the food the survivors were forced to eat, the relish in which the many executions were described all made this novel very life like. 

I can’t wait to read more, this book had me glued to the sofa.

The Distant Dead by Heather Young – Blog Tour Review.

About The Book

A body burns in the high desert hills. A boy walks into a fire station, pale with the shock of a grisly discovery. A middle school teacher worries when her colleague is late for work. When the body is identified as local math teacher Adam Merkel, a small Nevada town is rocked to its core by a brutal and calculated murder.

In the seven months he worked at Lovelock’s middle school, the quiet and seemingly unremarkable Adam Merkel had formed a bond with just one of his students: Sal Prentiss, a lonely sixth grader who lives with his uncles on a desolate ranch in the hills. It is Sal who finds Adam’s body, charred almost beyond recognition, half a mile from his uncles’ compound.

Nora Wheaton, the school’s social studies teacher, sensed a kindred spirit in Adam – another soul bound to Lovelock by guilt and duty. After his death, she delves into his past for clues to who killed him. Yet, the truth about Adam’s murder may lie closer to home. For Sal’s grief seems shaded with fear, and Nora suspects he knows more than he’s telling about his favourite teacher’s death.

This unforgettable thriller brings a small American town to vivid life, filled with complex, troubled characters wrestling with the weight of the past, the promise of the future and the bitter freedom that forgiveness can bring.

My Review

With thanks to the publisher for the copy received. Even though I read a lot of crime fiction I’ve never read anything like The Distant Dead. Initially I didn’t see the connection between the tale of the young boy from thousands of years ago and modern day but it does appear later in the novel when you see the passion that Sal, Nora and her father had for local history.

The drama starts almost immediately when the burned body of the school’s Maths teacher Adam is found by Sal one of his pupils. Most of the narrative  fluctuates between Nora and Sal and shows how they felt about Adam’s death. I found it quite sad that both of them seemed to be his only friends. That sadness increased when it was revealed why he had settled there and what happened to him in the past.

But Adam wasn’t the only one who’d experienced tragedy, both Nora and Sal had suffered life changing events. I felt a lot of sympathy for all of them. All three of them coped in different ways and Nora and Sal’s life touched me in equal measures. The relationships that they both had with their surviving family felt real, Nora’s bitterness but loyalty and Sal’s neediness combined with fear. I didn’t connect to Adam the same way, the barrier he put in place also had an effect on me. 

Most of the investigation seemed to be done by Nora, despite her not being a member of the police. She was a teacher, a friend to Adam and was willing to be there for Sal. She seemed to be the only one who wanted to know what had led to Adam’s death.  I found myself fascinated by her character, her love for her father despite what he did and the way she gave up on her dreams and stayed in her home town. 

Sal was a character I adored. The loss of his Mum, the fear of his uncles and his attempts to understand the passion that Adam felt for maths. I also had a lot of appreciation for his desire to be accepted by the popular children in his class and for his stories that showed him the way to be in real life. 

The ending was completely unexpected but worked well, I really had no idea who was responsible for Adam’s death. I just felt a slight sense of relief which is impossible to explain. 

I found this to be a crime novel that was also about loss, acceptance and friendship.

The Family Friend by C. C. MacDonald – Review.

About The Book

KEEP YOUR FRIENDS CLOSE. BUT YOUR ENEMIES CLOSER…

Erin lives an idyllic life by the seaside with her baby boy and Australian fiancée. She’s upbeat and happy – a natural mum. At least that’s what her thousands of followers on Instagram think.

In the real world, Erin is struggling with anxiety and finding it difficult to connect with her screaming son. So when a famous agent offers to make her the biggest Instamum out there, she’s over the moon. And when Amanda, a family friend who’s visiting from Australia, says she’ll move in and babysit to help make it happen, it seems like the stars have finally aligned for Erin’s exciting new career. 

But when a devastatingly revealing video is posted online by an anonymous troll, Erin’s brought crashing back to earth. As everything she’s worked for starts to slip away, Erin must find out how far she can trust those closest to her…

My Review

With thanks to the publisher for the copy received. The Family Friend was a book that appealed to me straight away. A face from the past where you couldn’t decide if they were friend or foe, a family with a young baby learning to adapt and the increasingly popularity of social media influencers. It was the latter of these that interested me most, like many I am dubious about the reliability of influencers and how genuine those who get paid a fortune to promote a product are. 

Erin was somebody I would definitely describe as an unreliable narrator and at first I didn’t like her at all. She seemed more obsessed with her on screen image and number of followers than she did with her baby. But as the novel progressed and she started to spend less time on screen and more time bonding with Bobby I liked her more. And I felt that she liked herself more too, she was definitely a character who was too hard on herself.

This novel is all about manipulation. The way the public are made to believe what they see on social media and the effect that the desire to be seen had on Erin’s life. And there are also glimpses of a diary from the past where a different side of control was shown. 

It isn’t an easy novel to read but it is one I would recommend.