The Lighthouse Witches by C. J. Cooke – Blog Tour Review.

About The Book

Upon the cliffs of a remote Scottish island, Lòn Haven, stands a lighthouse.

A lighthouse that has weathered more than storms.

Mysterious and terrible events have happened on this island. It started with a witch hunt. Now, centuries later, islanders are vanishing without explanation.

Coincidence? Or curse?

Liv Stay flees to the island with her three daughters, in search of a home. She doesn’t believe in witches, or dark omens, or hauntings. But within months, her daughter Luna will be the only one of them left.

Twenty years later, Luna is drawn back to the place her family vanished. As the last sister left, it’s up to her to find out the truth . . .

But what really happened at the lighthouse all those years ago?

My Review

With thanks to the publisher for the copy received. I’ve always enjoyed reading about the witch trials that took place in the 1600’s but had never known that any occurred in Scotland. I couldn’t wait to read this novel and find out more.

It is told from three different members of the same family. A mother, who is trying to run away from illness and a relationship that has turned sour and two of her three children, Sapphire and Luna. Unusually it is also told from two different periods in time, 1998 and 2021 with the addition of excerpts from a grimoire. These excerpts quickly became one of my favourite parts of the novel, I found them absolutely fascinating. I felt I was there, seeing the terror of the women on trial, the devastation of their children and the manic fury of the those who had decided the women’s fate.

Superstition forms a huge part of this novel, many locals believed every word that had been passed down over the years. Some of these were probably descendants of those who were killed or the ones who passed the verdict many years earlier. All of this, combined with totally different opinions from visitors to the area contributed to me having know idea of which way the novel would go.

I read many novels where the story is told by different narrators. This is one of my favourites, nearly every time it switched I needed to know what happened next. I found this an amazing novel and I will definitely be reading more books by this author.

The Dare by Lesley Kara – Review – First Monday Crime.

About The Book

As a child, it was just a game. As an adult, it was a living nightmare.

‘This time it’s different. She’s gone too far now. 
She really has.’

When teenage friends Lizzie and Alice decide to head off for a walk in the countryside, they are blissfully unaware that this will be their final day together – and that only Lizzie will come back alive.

Lizzie has no memory of what happened in the moments before Alice died, she only knows that it must have been a tragic accident. But as she tries to cope with her grief, she is shocked to find herself alienated from Alice’s friends and relatives. They are convinced she somehow had a part to play in her friend’s death. 

Twelve years later, unpacking boxes in the new home she shares with her fiancé, Lizzie is horrified to find long-buried memories suddenly surfacing. Is the trauma of the accident finally catching up with her, or could someone be trying to threaten her new-found happiness?

Twelve years is a long time to wait, when you’re planning the perfect revenge . . .

My Review

With thanks to the publisher for the copy received. The Dare is a dual time frame novel that is full of intrigue and twists. I have read a few reviews where the reader guessed at what was occurring but I can honestly say I never had a clue!

In her teens Lizzie suffered the trauma of her friend being killed whilst on their walk. As well with coping with her loss she has to deal with accusations from her Alice’s sister and school ‘friends’ that she hadn’t had a seizure as she claimed and was really responsible for Alice’s death.

Years later and in a steady relationship she has come to terms with Alice’s death and is making plans for the future. But she is dismayed when an unwelcome face from her past brings a lot of doubts and concern and she understandably feels ill at ease. Is this unwelcome friend genuine or are they a threat?

Most of this novel takes place in the present time and it was this part of the novel that I preferred. Older Lizzie has learned to live with her illness and is making plans for her future, younger Lizzie was very unhappy and struggling. Even before Alice’s death she never seemed to have the confidence to relax and make friends. 

I enjoyed this novel for its intrigue but also for its insights into how it feels to have epilepsy. Alice’s daily struggle felt like a real one, adapting to the changes in her life and feeling strong enough to make career and family plans. And of course how she felt stable enough to cope with the past coming back to haunt her. 

The Dare is a great novel that I read very quickly. 

Lesley Kara will be one of the panelists on First Monday Crime, she will be appearing alongside Inga Vesper, Mara Timon and Tariq Ashkanani. The moderator will be Jonathan Whitelaw. You can watch it via the FM Facebook page at 7.30pm on Monday 4th October.

The Heron’s Cry by Ann Cleeves – Blog Tour Review.

About The Book

North Devon is enjoying a rare hot summer with tourists flocking to its coastline. Detective Matthew Venn is called out to a rural crime scene at the home of a group of artists. What he finds is an elaborately staged murder – Dr Nigel Yeo has been fatally stabbed with a shard of one of his glassblower daughter’s broken vases.

Dr Yeo seems an unlikely murder victim. He’s a good man, a public servant, beloved by his daughter. Matthew is unnerved though to find that she is a close friend of Jonathan, his husband.

Then another body is found – killed in a similar way. Matthew finds himself treading carefully through the lies that fester at the heart of his community and a case that is dangerously close to home…

My Review

With thanks to the publisher for the copy received. I have never read a novel by Ann Cleeves before but I have watched her books dramatised for TV. It didn’t take me to long to understand why both are so successful, her writing and character building are wonderful.

With all the characters being new it didn’t take me long to get to know them nor did I feel that I had missed any major developments in their personal lives by not reading the first book. Instead I felt intrigued, Matthew Venn is unlike any character I have met before. His childhood  sounded extremely interesting and is one I want to know more about. Jen, I adored. Liverpudlian, strong and coping with life as a single parent despite her job. I was less keen on Russ, he sometimes came across as bitter and I didn’t care for his attitude towards his colleagues or his wife. 

The case was an interesting one, the small group of friends whose lives were changed by the murders of people they knew. I could visualise their lives clearly. The bereaved artistic young woman, the hippy charmer  and the hardworking couple who wanted more independence but also were reliant on family. And just on the edge were the family whose lives had changed through possible health service failure. I had a lot of appreciation for the way they had to appear in their jobs, masking their real grief, and they were all expert at hiding what they were going through. Their lives and the deeply unsettling events that contributed to their son’s death was the strongest part of the story for me. Possibly because I feel what affected them does happen.

This is only the second book in the series but I can see it being as successful as Vera and Shetland. I hope there will be more.

A Slow Fire Burning by Paula Hawkins – Blog Tour Review.

About The Book

‘What is wrong with you?’

Laura has spent most of her life being judged. She’s seen as hot-tempered, troubled, a loner. Some even call her dangerous.

Miriam knows that just because Laura is witnessed leaving the scene of a horrific murder with blood on her clothes, that doesn’t mean she’s a killer. Bitter experience has taught her how easy it is to get caught in the wrong place at the wrong time.

Carla is reeling from the brutal murder of her nephew. She trusts no one: good people are capable of terrible deeds. But how far will she go to find peace?

Innocent or guilty, everyone is damaged. Some are damaged enough to kill.

Look what you started.

My Review

With thanks to the publisher for the copy received. The Girl On The Train was a book I enjoyed reading so I felt that I would like this book. I’m happy to say that I wasn’t  disappointed and in many ways I preferred it.

Told by multiple points of view it shows how a small group of people were affected by the murder of a young man, Daniel, on a canal boat. All knew him and nearly all of them could have been responsible for his murder. And of course all would have a good reason. His character is only there as the victim but they way he is portrayed through memories didn’t show him as a very nice person.

The five people, Laura, Carla, Theo, Miriam and Irene were all completely different. Some I liked, some I didn’t but the two whose narrative I enjoyed most were Laura’s and Irene’s. I loved their connection, Laura’s stubbornness and approach to her life despite her health issues and everything about  Irene was just marvellous. I had great admiration for her determination not to be disregarded because of her age. And reading about her love for her husband and the way she coped since his death was lovely to read. She knew that Angela, Daniel’s mother and Carla’s sister had problems but never judged and always tried to be a friend. Carla and Theo’s attitude towards her was shameful, they were the characters I liked less than the others. Miriam was a character who I wanted to understand more but I often felt that she was more distant. I felt I knew more about her as a teenager when her life changed dramatically rather than in modern day. It was evident that the trauma she suffered still affected her years later. 

The reason why Daniel was killed and who murdered him was a mystery to me until it was revealed. I had no idea at all who it could be. My thoughts  regarding the guilty person and their actions were different to my usual feelings though. This is more than a novel about a murder, it is novel which shows how grief and trauma affect a person’s actions and in this novel I found it impossible to judge them. 

The Woman In The Wood by M. K. Hill – Blog Tour Review.

About The Book

A reality TV star becomes a suspect in an Essex murder case in the sharp, funny and moving new thriller from M.K. Hill

Three years ago, Danny ‘Abs’ Cruikshank, star of reality show Laid in Essex!, was living the dream. But on the night of the party, everything changed.

It was supposed to be an intimate weekend gathering, just a few close friends in a remote cottage in Wales. But after a night of heavy drinking in the village pub, a local girl was reported missing – and never seen again. Abs and his friends had been the last to see her alive.

No-one was ever charged, but the controversy destroyed Abs’s career. And now one of his mates has been murdered…

DI Sasha Dawson and her team must race against the clock to find the killer before they strike again – but first she must discover what happened to Rhiannon Jenkins on the night she vanished. Will the truth set Abs free? Or bury him?

My Review

With thanks to the publisher for the copy received. I don’t watch reality TV, so have never understood the fame and adoration that seems to be handed on a plate to its stars. But I did have a soft spot for Abs, one of the main characters in this very entertaining novel. After becoming a suspect in the disappearance of a young woman he was dropped from a very successful reality TV show. He aches to be back in the limelight. Skint, no other skills apart from his charm and totally deluded about his relationship with his onscreen co-star Kelsey. But he soon discovers that his dream of success and a future with Kelsey fades into insignificance when faced with danger.

Sasha is the police officer who is investigating the death of Abs friend. Unlike her colleagues,in particular Lolly, she is unaware of who Abs is and doesn’t let his fame affect her investigation. I liked her a lot and appreciated the insight into her personal life. There are hints of a tragedy in her past that I wanted to know more about  and I liked that there was nothing revealed that made the later reading of book one in the series unnecessary.

I found this novel to be very original. There is a lot of focus on the investigation which you would expect, but I liked Abs having such a prominent role. His way of coping with what was happening around him was quite refreshing. He felt fear, guilt and disappointment but he was still capable of turning on the charm.

Another two original aspects of this novel were the impact of not knowing what happened to a family member had on a relative’s judgement forcing them do something they wouldn’t do under normal circumstances and the way that the pressure on an overworked police department meant that often other cases suffered.

I did work out who was responsible for the crimes in this novel but I didn’t see everything. I will definitely be reading more by this author.