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

Lay Me to Rest

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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Blood Rites by David Stuart Davies – Blog Tour Review.

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About the Book

1980s Yorkshire. DI Paul Snow has a personal demon. He is a homosexual but is desperate to keep it secret, knowing it would finish his career in the intolerant police force. As this personal drama unfolds, he is involved in investigating a series of violent murders in the town. All the victims appear to be chosen at random and appear to have no connection with each other. After the fourth murder, he is removed from the case for not finding the killer but continues investigating the matter privately. Gradually, Paul manages to determine a link between the murder victims, but this places his own life in great danger. Can Paul unmask the killer as he wrestles with his own demons?

My Review

With thanks to the publisher for the copy received.

Blood Rites is the first book that I have read by David Stuart Davies. Set in Yorkshire in 1985 the lead character and investigating officer has a secret. He is homosexual but attitudes were different in the 1980s and if it became public he would be hounded out of the force. He has to solve a series of murders that have a link but he is struggling to prove it to his superior officers. All of the victims have done things that they shouldn’t have. A couple of them you don’t get to know but the ones you do are very unpleasant and their crimes are horrific. I think my heart broke over a couple of the people who suffered because of them. Thankfully there wasn’t too much focus on their actions.
I did have a lot of sympathy for Snow, I can’t imagine what it must have been like for the serving police force who had to keep their sexuality hidden. His pain, guilt and confusion over his private life was one of the stronger parts of the novel.
I couldn’t really tell that it was set in the 1980s. Apart from the attitudes and the mention of fixed telephone lines it could be set any time and any place. When the murderer was revealed it wasn’t a huge shock but the ending definitely was. Just a little different and very clever. I would be very interested to see what happens next.

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See What I Have Done by Sarah Schmidt – Blog Tour Review.

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About the Book

Just after 11am on 4th August 1892, the bodies of Andrew and Abby Borden are discovered. He’s found on the sitting room sofa, she upstairs on the bedroom floor, both murdered with an axe.
It is younger daughter Lizzie who is first on the scene, so it is Lizzie who the police first question, but there are others in the household with stories to tell: older sister Emma, Irish maid Bridget, the girls’ Uncle John, and a boy who knows more than anyone realises.
In a dazzlingly original and chilling reimagining of this most notorious of unsolved mysteries, Sarah Schmidt opens the door to the Borden home and leads us into its murkiest corners, where jealousies, slow-brewed rivalries and the darkest of thoughts reside.

My Review

See What I Have Done is a brilliant novel and is definitely one of the strangest ones that I have read. I had been aware of the rhyme about Lizzie Bordern but had never given any thought to its origin. Sarah Schmidt has given us an account of what could have happened in 1892 and it is a convincing one.
There are four narrators who tell us their version of events of what happened on the 3rd and 4th August. Lizzie, her older sister Emma, Bridget, their Irish maid and Benjamin an acquaintance of their uncle.
Bridget was the only one of the four who I had any liking for, she is certainly the only one who showed any sign of grief over the deaths. She had a fractious relationship with her employers, but also enjoyed some good times with Abby. Emma appeared to resent the preferential treatment that Lizzie received and tried to keep some distance from Lizzie. But like the other family members she is manipulated into letting Lizzie have her way. Benjamin is hired to do a job and is desperate for money. unlikable and untrustworthy and completely out of his depth. And then there is Lizzie. God-fearing, pigeon loving, spoilt and at times cruel. She wanted to possess Emma, have her as her puppet and is resentful that she wanted her own life away from her.
As well as the murders there is a suspicious mutton stew that made everybody who ate it ill. There is also a lot of focus on an abundance of pears which strangely managed to put me off eating them for the forseeable future. The violent deaths are not the main focus in the novel, the reader is aware of the aftermath with the description of the scene after the murders. There is an image of the murder scene, with blood splatter and bone fragments vividly described. Most of the novel assesses the different personalities and at times toxic relationships.
I feel that this novel would make a brilliant movie, it’s just amazing.

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