Local Gone Missing by Fiona Barton – Blog Tour Review.

About The Book

Everyone watches their neighbours.

Elise King moves into the sleepy seaside town of Ebbing. Illness has thrown her career as a successful detective into doubt, but no matter how hard she tries to relax and recuperate, she knows that something isn’t right.

Everyone lies about their friends.

Tensions are running high beneath the surface of this idyllic community: the weekenders in their fancy clothes, renovating old bungalows into luxury homes, and the locals resentful of the changes. A town divided, with the threat of violence only a heartbeat away.

Everyone knows a secret.

This peaceful world is shattered when two teenagers end up in hospital and a local man vanishes without trace. Elise starts digging for answers, but the community closes ranks, and the truth begins to slip through her fingers. Because in a small town like this, the locals are good at keeping secrets…

Everyone’s a suspect when a local goes missing.

With thanks to the publisher for the copy received. I have read all of Fiona Barton’s books and this is my favourite so far. I really enjoyed getting to meet all the different characters and seeing the way they interacted with each other.

My Review

Elise is the lead detective, coming towards the end of sick leave after a cancer diagnosis and looking forward to getting back to work. She does have misgivings, chemo brain is a concern but Caro her colleague is a big help without being patronising. She has another assistant, her friend Ronnie, who isn’t a police officer but sees herself as another Miss Marple. This friendship was one of my favourite parts of the novel.

There are quite a lot of other characters, some whose link you couldn’t see at first. The victim, Charlie, was obviously a crook from the start and it could have been any one of the people he duped who was responsible for his death. Some of them I had a lot of sympathy for, especially his daughter who was the only one who couldn’t have been responsible.

The murder isn’t the only crime, a festival where drugs nearly caused fatalities has also had a big impact on the area. The suspicion, gossip and mistrust affected many and added to the hardships already suffered. But both cases aren’t as gritty and hard hitting as most crime novels I read. Instead the novel seems to focus on personalities and rather than the crimes committed.

I would love to meet Elise and Caro again, I can definitely see this novel as part of a series.

The Poet by Louisa Reid – Blog Tour Review.

About The Book

I believe every word you say. That was always my mistake.

Bright, promising Emma is entangled in a toxic romance with her old professor – and she’s losing control.

Cruel, charming Tom is idolized by his students and peers – confident he holds all the cards.

In their small Oxford home, he manipulates and undermines her every thought and act. Soon, he will push her to the limit and she must decide: to remain quiet and submit, or to take her revenge. 

Written in verse and charged with passion and anger, The Poet is a portrait of a deeply dysfunctional relationship, exploring coercive control, class and privilege. It is also a page-turning tale of female solidarity and survival.

My Review

With thanks to the publisher for the copy received. As soon as I started to read this book I knew it would be different to everything I have read before. It does tell the story of a toxic relationship, which has been done many times before, but is done so in verse. I never thought I would be possible to have so much impact with so few words. 

Emma is in a relationship with Tom, lecturer, novelist, charmer, idolised by many. But beneath the surface you get to see the man for what he really is. A bully, cheat and liar who is prepared to do anything to protect his image. It takes Emma a while to realise what he is like but when she does she starts to think of a way in which she can get her revenge. 

It did take me longer than I thought it would to read it. I can only think that this was because it had such a big impact despite its brevity. I really sense how alone, betrayed and desperate Emma felt. I could see her self hatred  for giving in to him time and time again, not knowing the best way to cope with him. But in the latter stages of the novel I saw her change, able to show how much she hated him and I was cheering as she got what she wanted. 

This is an absolutely wonderful novel, I read a digital copy but I definitely need to get a printed edition for when I get the chance to reread it. 

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? 

Extract

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.

Mirror Lake by Juneau Black – Blog Tour Review.

About The Book

A MURDER TO SOLVE. A REPORTER ON THE TRAIL.
IS THIS A CASE OF MISTAKEN IDENTITY?

Welcome, dear reader! You have happened upon the delightful village of Shady Hollow, a place where rabbits and raptors, squirrels and snakes live together in civilised accord . . . with only the occasional murder to mar the peace of daily life.

Keen journalist Vera Vixen is recovering from the Harvest Festival (and its bounty of local cheeses, cider and pies) when the calm is shattered by a scream from one of the small town’s grandest houses. Dorothy Springfield, a rat with a reputation for eccentricity, claims her husband – who is standing right next to her – has been murdered. Has Dorothy finally lost her grip on reality? Or is the rat who claims to be Edward an imposter? Vera’s fox nose scents a story. And it’s not long before the discovery of a body, minus the head, complicates things further . . .

My Review

With thanks to the publisher for the copy received. Mirror Lake is the third book in the Shady Hollow series and is my favourite one so far. Vera is still dedicated to her job as a journalist and also loves to get stuck into a little detective work if the opportunity arises. Many of the characters are recurring and most of them I like a lot especially Vera, Orville and Lefty. 

This novel differs slightly because Vera has a new unwanted ‘assistant’, a famous but very infuriating author who was very deluded about his deducting skills and his attraction to the ladies.

It is never a huge surprise who the culprit is but it is a lot of fun reading about Vera and Orville and their efforts at solving the case, fuelled by coffee and cakes from Joe. All that’s missing from this lovely little series are some recipes.

The French House by Jacquie Bloese – Blog Tour Review.

About The Book

In Nazi-occupied Guernsey, the wrong decision can destroy a life… 

Left profoundly deaf after an accident, Émile is no stranger to isolation – or heartbreak. Now, as Nazi planes loom over Guernsey, he senses life is about to change forever.

Trapped in a tense, fearful marriage, Isabelle doesn’t know what has become of Émile and the future she hoped for. But when she glimpses him from the window of the French House, their lives collide once more. 

Leutnant Schreiber is more comfortable wielding a paintbrush than a pistol. But he has little choice in the role he is forced to play in the occupying forces – or in his own forbidden desires. 

As their paths entwine, loyalties are blurred and dangerous secrets forged. But on an island under occupation, courage can have deadly consequences…

My Review

With thanks to the publisher for the copy received. I enjoy historical fiction and occasionally read books that are set during WW2 mostly when they concern the people who aren’t on the war front. This is the second book that I have read that takes place in Guernsey and I found it fascinating.

Émile is living in Guernsey at the start of WW2 after his dreams of a happier life in Canada was destroyed by a tragic accident that left him deaf. He has a family but not with Isabelle the woman he wanted to spend his life with. Instead he is married to Letty and they have two daughters Maud and Stella. It’s not a happy life but it is a lot better than what Isabelle has. A dream ruined by her parents and she is now married to Ron who is controlling and manipulative. When they have to take in a German lodger life changes for everybody.

I loved this novel, mainly because of how real if felt. Not just the relationships and the storyline but the way life changed for all of the islanders when their were under occupation. I’ve read about the struggles for food, evacuation and fear of bombing many times but never about having to give accommodation to the enemy forces, having to provide food or not being able to sing the anthem. What is also shown is the fear shown by the German officers who had their own secrets and what they could face if they were revealed.

A fantastic storyline which showed many believable if not always likeable characters.