Return To Blackwater House by Vikki Patis – Review.

About The Book

You can run from your past, but you can’t hide forever…

Rebecca Bray has moved on from a childhood she desperately wants to forget.

She has everything she’s ever wanted – the perfect fiancé, a loving stepdaughter, a career she’s proud of, and now the house of her dreams.

But when the family move to the Cornish village where Rebecca grew up, everything she wanted to bury from those years starts to claw at the surface.

Then, when her stepdaughter goes missing at a New Year’s Eve party, Rebecca must finally face the ghosts of her past – or Ava might never come home safely…

My Review

With thanks to the publisher for the copy received. When Rebecca returns to the area she lived in as a child as new owner of Blackwater House she has mixed feelings. Her childhood was difficult, neglected because of drug and alcohol abuse and the only one who was willing to help was Gwen who had left the house to her. She is determined to make the best of it for herself, partner Daniel and his daughter Ava. But when Ava disappears she has to face her demons to try and get her home.

With flashbacks to her childhood, her anxiety over Ava’s disappearance and the noticeable lack of support from Daniel you get to see how strong a character Rebecca was. Even though she couldn’t see it herself. The people she meets, from her childhood, who also show that they have changed since their teens. One of them is her family liaison officer, who features quite strongly in both a professional and personal capacity. I found this really interesting because all too often you only see the job. Another was Ashleigh, whose storyline was unexpectedly more devastating than I expected it to be 

But it was Rebecca who touched me most. I loved her relationship with Ava, her need to keep Ava’s mother’s family in their lives despite the increasingly obnoxious Daniel’s wishes. I also had a lot of respect for her determination to escape her past, seek vengeance and protect Ava. All I could do was admire her. Admittedly, I didn’t see any of twists as I was reading but this increased my enjoyment. 

I will definitely be looking at this author’s back catalogue, this was a book I liked a lot.

Life Sentence by A. K. Turner – Review.

About The Book

Mortuary technician Cassie Raven believes the last thoughts of the dead linger like static in the air…

Cassie has always had a strange affinity with death, ever since her parents were killed in a car crash when she was four. At least that’s what she grew up believing…

But that was a lie. Cassie’s father is alive. He was convicted of murdering her mother and spent years behind bars. Now he’s out – and he’s looking for her.

He swears he didn’t do it. And Cassie wants to believe him.

To find the truth, she must turn detective. As she seeks answers, help is to be found in inexplicable places – for the dead are ready to talk.

My Review

With thanks to the publisher for the copy received. I read the first book in this series a few weeks ago and knew from that book alone that this would be a series I would enjoy. Cassie was a character that I liked a lot, mainly for her originality, compassion and determination to get an answer. Even if it meant putting herself in danger or making life harder for herself at work with superiors who didn’t like having to take advice from the ones they considered beneath them. 

Whilst there is focus on Cassie’s attempts to find out why one of her guests died, much of the novel shows her trying to find out who was responsible for her mother’s death. She is remembering more, after picking up scents from clothing, seeing photos etc and struggled at times with hearing the stories that friends of her mother told her. All combined with tales her beloved grandmother had always told her, that seemed more likely to be inaccurate. 

Phyllida Flyte, the detective, who she has tentatively built a friendship with does feature slightly less but seemed to have more of an impact. I felt I got to know her more, see her frustration at Cassie when she asks her to look for information that could get her in trouble. I could also see her feeling happier and being part of the team in her new position.

There are two others ‘characters’ I liked. Macavity, Cassie’s cat, who showed his disdain extremely well and another slightly unusual one. That was Camden, an area I do not know,but I felt like I was there. Feeling the buzz, and often the threat. It’s not something I feel often, but I do appreciate it when a community feels real.

The Hidden Child by Louise Fein – Extract – Blog Tour.

About The Book

From the outside, Eleanor and Edward Hamilton have the perfect life, but they’re harbouring a secret that threatens to fracture their entire world. 

London, 1929. 

Eleanor Hamilton is a dutiful mother, a caring sister and an adoring wife to a celebrated war hero. Her husband, Edward, is a pioneer in the eugenics movement. The Hamiltons are on the social rise, and it looks as though their future is bright.

When Mabel, their young daughter, begins to develop debilitating seizures, they have to face an uncomfortable truth: Mabel has epilepsy – one of the ‘undesirable’ conditions that Edward campaigns against.

Forced to hide their daughter away so as to not jeopardise Edward’s life’s work, the couple must confront the truth of their past – and the secrets that have been buried.

Will Eleanor and Edward be able to fight for their family? Or will the truth destroy them? 


Eleanor’s first encounter with Edward is seared so deep into her mind; the clarity of the memory takes her breath away, just as he did when she first set eyes on him eight years ago, in 1920. The broad shoulders beneath the sharp cut of his uniform; the medals lining his chest. A quick glance and she had recognised the Military Cross, awarded for exemplary gallantry. From behind her typewriter she had wondered, as he folded his tall frame into a chair outside the brigadier general’s room in the War Office, just what acts of bravery he had undertaken. Those haunting eyes which fixed on hers, just a little longer than strictly appropriate for a captain waiting for his decommissioning appointment. She remembers the effect he had on her, the hot fluttering in her chest and how the words she was typing melted and swam on the page in front of her. She could still feel the soft spring breeze from the open window touch her skin; the grind of traffic rumbling along Horse Guards Avenue below, the press of his eyes on her flushed cheeks as she tried, fruitlessly, to concentrate on her work. From the corner of her eye, she’d watched him take a pen and notebook from his top pocket and, forehead wrinkled in thought, begin to write. She’d wondered if he was a poet or perhaps planning his words for the brigadier.

When Edward had disappeared behind the brigadier general’s closed door, Eleanor became aware of the strong thrum of her heart, the prickle of sweat on her skin, the rasp of her breath in her throat. The knowledge he would walk back out at some point had her patting her hair, smoothing her blouse, pinching her cheeks. It had felt like hours before he reappeared. It was ridiculous, she knew. She, just a young, ordinary girl – a secretary; he a military man, a much older man. He must be, what, thirty, thirty-five, even. She only nineteen! And pretty much destitute, now that she and Rose were alone together in the world. Someone so smart and self-assured, so brave and handsome, would never be interested in her. 

He reappeared, turned, and the brigadier general shook him by the hand, saying, ‘Best of luck with it all,’ pumping Edward’s hand so vigorously his moustache had wobbled. A Temporary Gentleman, Eleanor surmised. A man given a temporary commission to serve as an officer in the war, now released to return to his former profession. Back to what? she had wondered, unable to resist staring at him as he prepared to leave the room. Before replacing his cap, he turned and smiled. A warm, wonderful smile which lit up his face. Passing her desk, as he’d left, he slipped a folded note next to her typewriter, unnoticed by the brigadier general whose mind was undoubtedly on the hundreds more he had to decommission in the coming days. 

I’ll be at the Café Bru, corner of Whitehall Place, at six this evening if you would care to join me for a cup of tea? Be reassured that my invitation is purely professional. Yours, Edward Hamilton, the note had read, which set Eleanor’s heart racing all over again.

Out Of Her Depth by Lizzy Barber – Review – First Monday Crime.

About The Book

There are summers that could change your life.
There are summers that could end it.

Meet Rachel.
An unassuming young woman from a quiet London suburb.

Picture the scene:
A summer job at the beautiful Villa Medici in the Tuscan hills.
A group of glamorous teenagers, used to a life of privilege.
Lavish parties, heady sun-soaked days, backstabbing and bedhopping.

Until someone goes too far.
And nothing will ever be the same.

My Review

With thanks to the publisher for the copy received. It should have been the perfect working holiday for Rachel. Working in a hotel for the holiday season in Florence so she could perfect her Italian in preparation for university. However the ‘friends’ she made, Diana and Sebastian ruined it, still causing suffering over twenty years later. Admittedly Sebastian suffered more but it was difficult to have any sympathy for him. He was a character I detested immediately, I thought I’d misread him at one point, and then realised he was much worse than I initially thought. 

It was evident from the beginning that Rachel didn’t stand a chance against the other two. Privileged, selfish bullies doesn’t even begin to describe them. The only one who could see the real ‘friendship’ was Elio, only a minor character, and apart from poor Valentina, the only one I had any liking for. 

I really tried to have sympathy for Rachel but in a lot of ways she was too much like the others. She was just as manipulative, especially in the modern day parts of the novel. A certain scene made me cringe as I read it, and was the one which really made me see what she could be capable of.

A slightly different crime novel for me. No detectives or investigation. Just the victim and those responsible. 

Lizzy Barber will be appearing at First Monday Crime alongside Gytha Lodge, Anna Mazzola and Simone Buchholz. You can follow on Facebook at 7.30pm on May 9th.

A Tidy Ending by Joanna Cannon – Review.

About The Book


Linda has lived around here ever since she fled the dark events of her childhood in Wales. Now she sits in her kitchen, wondering if this is all there is – pushing the Hoover round and cooking fish fingers for tea is a far cry from the glamorous lifestyle she sees in the glossy catalogues coming through the door for the house’s previous occupant.


Terry isn’t perfect – he picks his teeth, tracks dirt through the house and spends most of his time in front of the TV. But that seems fairly standard – until he starts keeping odd hours at work, at around the same time young women start to go missing in the neighbourhood.


If Linda could just track down Rebecca, who lived in the house before them, maybe some of that perfection would rub off on her. But the grass isn’t always greener: you can’t change who you really are, and there’s something nasty lurking behind the net curtains on Cavendish Avenue…

My Review

With thanks to the publisher for the copy received. I have never read a book by this author before, although I do have The Trouble With Goats And Sheep. I don’t think I’ve ever ‘met’ a character as strong as Linda. One of those who made me feel like many of the other characters felt. A little uneasy, fearful and at times lost for words. The only other who was anywhere near a match for her was her mother.

Linda is very needy. She sees an acquaintance who she might exchange a few words with as a best friend with a lot in common. She doesn’t see that the acquaintance could see this as intimidation and is baffled when they give her the cold shoulder. When I got to know her and learnt more about what happened in her childhood I could  understand why she was this way. She was just a very lonely woman, married to a man she didn’t seem to like that much and an extremely vocal and controlling mother. 

The serial killer storyline was only in the background, all of the focus was on Linda and her need to be best friends with somebody. It was easy to see that the people she chose were just using her and laughing at her. What was less easy to see was that Linda was also aware of this and was more than capable of looking after herself. This was an aspect of the storyline that I completely missed and I need to read the book again at some point.

It is one of those books that on finishing you wonder what you have read. I had to think about it for a few hours, analysing the different characters. All I can say at this point is that I’m relieved I don’t know anybody like Linda.