Dig Two Graves by Keith Nixon – Blog Tour Review.

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About The Book

Was it suicide … or murder? Detective Sergeant Solomon Gray is driven to discover the truth. Whatever the personal cost.

When teenager Nick Buckingham tumbles from the fifth floor of an apartment block, Detective Sergeant Solomon Gray answers the call with a sick feeling in his stomach. The victim was just a kid, sixteen years old. And the exact age the detective’s son was, the son Gray has not seen since he went missing at a funfair ten years ago. Each case involving children haunts Gray with the reminder that his son may still be out there – or worse, dead. The seemingly open and shut case of suicide twists into a darker discovery. Buckingham and Gray have never met, so why is Gray’s number on the dead teenager’s mobile phone?

Gray begins to unravel a murky world of abuse, lies, and corruption. And when the body of Reverend David Hill is found shot to death in the vestry of Gray’s old church, Gray wonders how far the depravity stretches and who might be next. Nothing seems connected, and yet there is one common thread: Detective Sergeant Solomon Gray, himself. As the bodies pile up, Gray must face his own demons and his son’s abduction.

Crippled by loss Gray takes the first step on the long road of redemption. But is the killer closer to home than he realised?

Set in the once grand town of Margate in the south of England, the now broken and depressed seaside resort becomes its own character in this dark police suspense thriller, perfect for fans of Ian Rankin, Stuart MacBride, and Peter James.

My Review

With thanks to the author for the copy received. I read many police procedural novels and it is normal for the lead character to have personal problems. But the problems that Sol has are much worse than any of the others that I have read. The flashbacks to the events that happened ten years and five years ago provide just enough detail to show why he is like he is in modern-day. You sense the guilt and desperation that he feels most of the time in his personal life and the way if affects his career and relationship with his colleagues.
I found this novel believable. The way his working life is portrayed, with the often mundane tasks and the relationships seems like an honest one. The way that personal feelings have to be put to one side to concentrate on a case that needs solving.
Whilst the murder case is an interesting one, the most powerful part of the novel for me was Sol and his method of coping. It felt real, the grief forcing him to keep those who could help at a distance. and the frustration it caused his colleagues. It’s a series I will definitely read more of.

DIG TWO GRAVESby Keith NixonBLOG TOUR (1)

Presumed Guilty by Jane Isaac – Blog Tour Review.

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About The Book

Accident or murder?

The first victim – a prominent local councillor, killed in a hit and run ‒ could be either, but the next bodies leave no doubt. A twisted killer is at large. And he’s not finished yet.

DC Beth Chamberlain, Family Liaison Officer, has to support the victims’ families, but before she can solve the crimes in the present, Beth needs to uncover the secrets of the past.

Meanwhile, the killer has her in his sights…

My Review

With thanks to the author for the copy received. Presumed Guilty is the second book in the series that features Beth Chamberlain. It can be read as a standalone novel, there are no references to the previous case. But you would benefit knowing about her personal life before reading it.
Beth is a family liaison officer. One of the reasons I enjoy this series is because even though it is police procedural it is from an angle that I don’t usually read. It shows that information revealed by loved ones can go a long way to solving a crime. It also shows how much of a case is solved from the less prominent members of the force.
This book starts with a suicide and shortly after a murder. Nothing is revealed about the suicide until the second half of the book. The murdered man’s reputation is in tatters, he has nobody to really mourn his loss apart from his wife who questions if she really knew him. But despite the feelings his death still needs to be solved.
Beth wants to be more involved in the case but is being held back for various reasons by some members in the team. As more people die she is one who has the ability to dig deeper and see the connection.
She is a character I really like, both in her personal life and her professional one. I think there is huge potential for the series to be a long running one. I want to see her family life become easier and for her career to develop. The team is a close one, there are loyalties there that you don’t see immediately.
The ending is slightly ominous, and I’m looking forward to reading what happens next.

presumed-guilty

Attend by West Camel – Blog Tour Review.

 

About The Book

Under their feet lies magic…

When Sam falls in love with South London thug Derek, and Anne’s best friend Kathleen takes her own life, they discover they are linked not just by a world of drugs and revenge; they also share the friendship of the uncanny and enigmatic Deborah.
Seamstress, sailor, story-teller and self-proclaimed centenarian immortal, Deborah slowly reveals to Anne and Sam her improbable, fantastical life, the mysterious world that lies beneath their feet and, ultimately, the solution to their crises.
With echoes of Armistead Maupin and a hint of magic realism, Attend is a beautifully written, darkly funny, mesmerisingly emotive and deliciously told debut novel, rich in finely wrought characters that you will never forget.

My Review

With thanks to the publisher for the copy received. I have never read anything like this book before. I had expected it to be a crime novel with mention of gang related crime in the synopsis. But, while there is violence it is more about the emotion that the acts cause. The reasons why the violence has to occur and the loyalty portrayed by the friends and family of the people responsible. And bizarrely the lack of sympathy to the victim. 

The three main characters are ones that will stay with me for quite a while. Two of them, Sam and Anne are trying to rebuild their lives. Anne finds it very difficult, the daily struggle to stay off drugs, having to rebuild her family’s trust and the sense of loss over missing so much. Sam, who realises that he can only be really happy if he is honest about his feelings. Deborah is different, older but adamant that she will get what she wants by helping Sam and Anne come to terms with their situation. 

It’s a great feeling when you realise very early in a book that you are in for a treat. West Camel’s writing is stunning, his characters who all give me the impression of being very lonely, are ones that I was thinking about constantly. Deborah especially, with her life story and the thing that she was desperate for.  The accounts of her childhood and her experiences in the blitz are very moving,  and had me thinking of stories passed down in my own family.

It’s not only the characters in the novel that I am still thinking about it is also the setting in Deptford. When I was reading the acknowledgments I realised that the areas mentioned exist. I then spent a fascinating hour looking at local history websites and photos on the internet. And I had a strangely emotional feeling when I think I found the ‘real’ Deborah.

A wonderful book with a  fascinating setting. 

 

My Sister, Myself by Jill Treseder – Blog Tour Review.

My Sister Myself Cover

About The Book

Hungary, 1956. Russian tanks brutally crush the revolution against the Communist regime. Sisters Katalin and Marika escape Budapest with their family and settle in London.

However, the past is not so easily left behind. Their father is a wanted man, and the sisters’ relationship hangs in the balance. Their futures are shaped by loss. For Katalin, this means the failure of her ambition and a devastating discovery; for Marika, an equally heart-breaking experience.

Caught between their Hungarian heritage and their new lives in Britain, the sisters struggle to reconnect. Family secrets are exposed, jeopardising Katalin’s and Marika’s identities.

Can their relationship survive war, division and grief?

My Review

With thanks to the publisher for the copy received. Before I started reading My Sister, Myself I was under the impression it was auto biographical. Why, I have no idea, I must have misread the blurb. But all the way through, I couldn’t shake off that feeling, even though it is fictional.
I do know there were problems in some parts of Europe after WW2 but am ashamed to say I know nothing about what happened in Hungary. In the novel the things seen and described are through the eyes of a young girl. The things that somebody that age should never see, and they are things that an adult would struggle with.
Because of that I could forgive Katalin for some of her behaviour.
There are three narratives, Katalin, Marika and Klára, their Aunt. Klára has lived in Devon for years, a refugee from a different time. She was widowed in the war and was childless. Her life changes dramatically when she has to take in the two girls when they struggle with their new life in London.
There is so much that makes you think. The type of life they had in Hungary, followed by the way they were initially treated when they were refugees who couldn’t speak the language. Both girls made different choices, I was surprised the way they did. The one who I thought I would like more and who I thought would be more successful wasn’t. Much of the novel concerns their fractured relationship and I had a lot of sympathy for Klára who had to pick up all the pieces.
It’s a wonderful book that I am thrilled to be given the chance to read. It’s a book that is out of my comfort zone and possibly wouldn’t have heard about.

My Sister Myself Blog Tour Poster

As The Woman Lay Dreaming by Donald S Murray – Extract – Blog Tour.

 

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About The Book

A novel of the Iolaire disaster.

In the small hours of January 1st, 1919, the cruellest twist of fate changed at a stroke the lives of an entire community.

Tormod Morrison was there that terrible night. He was on board HMY Iolaire when it smashed into rocks and sank, killing some 200 servicemen on the very last leg of their long journey home from war. For Tormod a man unlike others, with artistry in his fingertips the disaster would mark him indelibly.

Two decades later, Alasdair and Rachel are sent to the windswept Isle of Lewis to live with Tormod in his traditional blackhouse home, a world away from the Glasgow of their earliest years. Their grandfather is kind, compassionate, but still deeply affected by the remarkable true story of the Iolaire shipwreck by the selfless heroism and desperate tragedy he witnessed.

A deeply moving novel about passion constrained, coping with loss and a changing world, As the Women Lay Dreaming explores how a single event can so dramatically impact communities, individuals and, indeed, our very souls.

Extract

1936

Oooowww!’
Shortly after meeting me, Great-Uncle Calum grabbed my thigh with his left hand, giving me the most powerful horsebite I’d ever felt.
‘What do you think of that then?’ His face lit up with a wide smile.
‘It was really, really sore.’
‘Aye. Just remember that. I may only have one hand that I can use, but it’s a pretty powerful one. That fist was hammered out on an anvil. Strong as a pair of pincers. Hard as steel.’
I rubbed the place he’d gripped, trying to remove the red marks on my skin. They remained there for a time, each blemish a reminder of the force and power of his hand. ‘But you didn’t cry. That’s good. Not soft like an Aberdonian or a keelie from Glasgow. It’s obvious you’ve got more than a fair share of Lewis blood inside you. You
even look like your mother. Same shade of brown hair. Same sturdy-looking chin. And always that look of defiance. She had that on her face at all times.’
I grinned, my eyes watering at the same time. I felt especially glad that I looked more like my mother than I resembled him. There was his head, bald apart from his straggly, white sideburns, and his unevenly shaved chin. And then there was the way only half his face moved when he talked, every word squeezed from a corner of his lips, his right hand tucked away inside a jacket pocket, as useless and feeble as the other was strong. In the one time he ever spoke about this, he told me that the whole thing had occurred one day when he mocked the minister as a youngster (‘I pulled a face in his direction, and the wind went and changed. I’ve been like this ever since.’)
‘Come on,’ he said. ‘Let’s go out and see the place.’
I was glad of that. For too long, it seemed to me, I had been confined by the strangeness of the house. I felt awed by much of what I saw there at our new home, 16b South Dell: the pictures of praying hands and the gospel ship with texts printed on its sails; the black, polished range fuelled by peat that was the source of much of the house’s heat; the large wooden dresser decorated by porcelain. Much of this was ornamental, souvenirs of visits to various towns on the mainland and beyond. Welcome to Liverpool, a plate with a portrait of the Liver Building read, a memento of my great-uncle’s only one time away. A souvenir of Portsmouth, another declared, with a picture of a ship.
On the bottom shelf sat the Bible, black and stern. I watched my grandad open it every morning and evening, his voice becoming sonorous and slow each time he read from its pages. Beside this item of furniture was a large green hooped wooden barrel which my grandma used to both empty and fill at various times of the day, doing the latter each morning she visited the well on the croft. ‘In a wee while, you’ll be the one doing this,’ she told me, ‘so you’d better watch carefully.’ I did as she asked,
looking at the bubbles rising as she dipped the pail, but even as I watched, I was aware this change she mentioned would never happen, that this task would be hers for the
remainder of her life. Her hands were continually drawn to liquid, hovering over it for hours throughout the day. This attraction would even apply to the fish that belonged in it. Sometimes she’d work outside on a catch she had been brought, lifting up ling and coalfish, placing fingers deep into their bellies and tearing out their guts. Seconds
later, she would whirl the fish’s entrails in the direction of some gulls nearby, watching as they flocked down to eat, squabbling over the food. She would rinse the fish in water before laying it down on a board, stretching it out neatly and precisely alongside the others. A few seconds later and the entire movement would be repeated, her gestures flowing as if it were all occurring in water, swimming through the
air of a warm summer’s day.
And then there were the meat and potatoes she used to boil above the fire; the blood she would stir every time an animal was killed, preventing the fluid coagulating and becoming thick and impenetrable; the milk she used to churn and transform into butter and cheese; the way she washed clothes that were often soiled with soot or peat, performing miracles with washboard, tongs and tub. Occasionally she even carried water to the cows who stayed beyond the small door leading to the byre. There was one there that terrified me, pitching her horns in my direction as if she intended to skewer me one day. In my dreams, I sometimes imagined her breaking loose, her black hooves trampling me.
But there were fewer terrors when I was with Calum. Even his smells brought reassurance, constantly reminding me he was by my side. There were the clouds of tobacco smoke swirling from his pipe, the reek of heather that came from his clothes. Sometimes he even captured seeds and petals from that landscape on the bottom of his trousers. Remnants of tiny purple flowers. Grains from the rough grass he sometimes limped upon. The damp reek of peat that dried on the cloth, leaving eventually a dry brown stain.
He took me through the village that morning, showing me a place that – unlike the city I had left – possessed few walls or narrow, tight confines. There were gaps between the houses. Even the new ones with their whitewashed walls and tarred roofs. Or the smaller ones – like our own – with thatch and stonework, steps that led up to the hay layered over years on the roof. Many of them seemed to be occupied by women, who sat by windows, shifting curtains whenever people passed, or stood beside their doorways with brushes in their hands, sweeping their floor clean or hauling a creelful of peats from the stacks beside their homes. They would smile and say a few words in greeting, never letting you slip out of gaze. It was as if they saw me as the ghost of the son they would never have again, cheated out of that presence by some distant field in France, waves washing over the hulk of some ship lying in the Dogger Bank or off the coast of the Falkland isles…

From As the Women Lay Dreaming by Donald S Murray, published by Saraband Books. Out now in paperback £8.99 and ebook £6.99 @SarabandBooks
https://saraband.net/sb-title/as-the-women-lay-dreaming/