Tattletale by Sarah J Naughton – Review.

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About the Book

One day changes Jody’s life forever.
She has shut herself down, haunted by her memories and unable to trust anyone. But then she meets Abe, the perfect stranger next door and suddenly life seems full of possibility and hope.
One day changes Mags’s life forever.
After years of estrangement from her family, Mags receives a shocking phone call. Her brother Abe is in hospital and no-one knows what happened to him. She meets his fiancé Jody, and gradually pieces together the ruins of the life she left behind. But the pieces don’t quite seem to fit…

My Review

It seems common now, to have a novel that features an unreliable narrator. Tattletale is unusual in that it has three of them. After Abe is seriously injured in a fall, his sister Mags tries to get answers. She doesn’t believe what she is being told by his fiancé Jody and his neighbour Mira also seems to be keeping something back. There are flashbacks, and it isn’t clear who they concern. It also isn’t clear who to believe.
It’s a slow burning novel. At first I wasn’t sure which way it was going to go and my attention slipped a few times. But then, suddenly I was gripped and read the remainder of the book in one sitting. All three women had their problems and all had their own interpretation of the accident. Some of the flashbacks were quite upsetting, even more so because it was unclear whose they were and if they could be believed. At times it was intimidating. The threat from the thugs on the estate and some of the residents in the flats and the childhood  memories of both Mags and Jody.

The ending was superb. So often now I read a novel where there is a loose thread or the ending doesn’t make sense. But everything was wrapped up nicely and all to my satisfaction.

To preorder the book click here

With thanks to the publisher for the copy via NetGalley.

Paul Harrison – Guest Post.

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Today, it is my pleasure to welcome to my blog Paul Harrison author of Revenge of the Malakim.

“Tell us the main ups and downs on the road to seeing your book published”

Writing, was something I excelled at in my schooldays, my teachers used to comment that I was able to tell a good story. As good as that was, I never seriously picked up on it, until my police career. I was giving evidence in a Crown Court trial, and was commended by the Judge, for speaking so eloquently, and painting an accurate picture of events, with words.

That was it. It wasn’t long before my love of writing returned, and I wrote a thesis on the Jack the Ripper murders, for a conference. This was so well received, that a publisher approached me, and asked me to write a non-fiction book on the subject. I honestly didn’t believe I had it in me, but once I started, I couldn’t stop. It felt like quite an achievement, just finishing the 90,000 word manuscript. That was the easy part. When it was published, I found out how ruthless true crime writing can be. I was a mere novice, and my book received some glowing reviews, but was slammed, unfairly, in some quarters. The so called ‘experts’ who knocked it, were more vicious than the ripper himself. For a time, they literally destroyed my writing confidence.

Now, having written and had published over 30 non-fiction books, I have turned to writing crime fiction. Revenge of the Malakim, being my first novel. There’s a huge difference between the two genres, and the transition wasn’t easy. I’ve interviewed many serial killers during my time writing true crime. I know this going to sound silly, but after a while, it became boring, repetitive even.

My aim, had been to gain a psychological understanding of them, why, and what, made them kill. The reality is, they aren’t really that different to one another; they all crave the attention and soak up the power it generates. They aren’t super intelligent, nor do they look different, they simply don’t have boundaries when it comes to killing.

With that in mind, I decided to write my first crime fiction book, Revenge of the Malakim, and create my own serial killer. This is loosely based around the different personality traits of the killers I had met. Having also worked in the field of child abuse, I wanted to blend the two. Creating realistic characters, plots and twists that will keep the reader gripped throughout the book, right until the last word. I’ve loved writing the book. There is one murder scene that is totally unique in the realms of crime writing. I’ll leave that as a surprise for the reader. The publisher, the fantastic Mike Linane of Williams and Whiting, doesn’t yet know the final twist in the tale. For now, it’s being kept secret.

I was initially concerned, that the bridge from true crime to crime fiction, might be too difficult to cross, and I might falter. However, when I sent a draft to Mike at Williams and Whiting, he called me, and we spoke at length about my writing and the content. It was Mike who instilled confidence in me, and gave me the opportunity to write crime fiction. He’s probably the nicest, most knowledgeable person I’ve met in publishing. He’s a genuine inspiration.

One final thing. Revenge of the Malakim, doesn’t delve into child abuse itself, so readers need not be concerned about the content, it merely gets mentioned. It is, however, from a police procedural perspective, realistic, atmospheric, and dare I say, just a little bit scary.

I’m currently hard at work on book two in The Grooming Parlour trilogy – The Dark Web, which will be published by Williams and Whiting in the summer of 2017.

Paul Harrison

Thanks Paul. you can buy a copy of the book here

Quieter Than Killing by Sarah Hilary – Review.

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About the Book

It’s winter, the nights are dark and freezing, and a series of seemingly random assaults is pulling DI Marnie Rome and DS Noah Jake out onto streets of London. When Marnie’s family home is ransacked, there are signs that the burglary can have only been committed by someone who knows her. Then a child goes missing, yet no-one has reported it. Suddenly, events seem connected, and it’s personal.
Someone out there is playing games. It is time for both Marnie and Noah to face the truth about the creeping, chilling reaches of a troubled upbringing. Keeping quiet can be a means of survival, but the effects can be as terrible as killing.

My Review

The series featuring Marnie Rome and Noah Jake is now one of my favourite. One of those where you soak up every word and look for hints for what might happen in the future.
This latest offering focuses on a missing child, revenge attacks on perpetrators of crime, gang culture and more insight into the personal lives of Marnie and Noah. Whilst we have got to know them both quite well in the past this time it is slightly different. There seems to be a connection between their personal and professional lives.
As always it is very believable. Low income, poor housing and limited opportunity areas that recruit their gang members early. Some of the gang members here are devastatingly young, showing vulnerability and fear but also a hard side where if these emotions are not controlled there would only be one way out.
Steven, who is now serving his sentence in an adult prison has a hold over Marnie, his grip gets tighter with every novel. The scenes where he features make me cringe with the distress that she can’t escape from. But this time it is Noah who I feel more sympathy for. The situation he is in becomes increasingly difficult and he has only one option. I can see both storylines continuing into the next novel.
It’s a brilliant series that I have followed from the first novel. I have enjoyed getting to know all the characters that Sarah Hilary has created.
With thanks to the publisher for the copy received. You can buy the novel at amazon or Waterstones

Six Stories by Matt Wesolowski – Blog Tour Review.

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About the Book

1997. Scarclaw Fell. The body of teenager Tom Jeffries is found at an outward bound centre. Verdict? Misadventure. But not everyone is convinced. And the truth of what happened in the beautiful but eerie fell is locked in the memories of the tight-knit group of friends who embarked on that fateful trip, and the flimsy testimony of those living nearby. 2017. Enter elusive investigative journalist Scott King, whose podcast examinations of complicated cases have rivalled the success of Serial, with his concealed identity making him a cult internet figure. In a series of six interviews, King attempts to work out how the dynamics of a group of idle teenagers conspired with the sinister legends surrounding the fell to result in Jeffries’ mysterious death. And who’s to blame … As every interview unveils a new revelation, you’ll be forced to work out for yourself how Tom Jeffries died, and who is telling the truth. A chilling, unpredictable and startling thriller, Six Stories is also a classic murder mystery with a modern twist, and a devastating.

My Review

I decided to read Six Stories in the way that it was written, one podcast daily. It gave me a chance to digest what I learned and to recover from the increasing eeriness.
I have never been to Northumberland, but have seen various fells in Cumbria. I have also stayed in centres just like the one described in the book when I was at school. The way that everything is described is all very similar. Isolated but beautiful with a sense of menace when it is nighttime and  the level of darkness that you would only ever experience on a fell.
Each of the six podcasts describe the events surrounding Tom from people who he connected with at the time. His ‘friends’, their guide and a local man who was treated maliciously and mercilessly by Tom and a few of the others. Tom was not a nice person, there was nobody who escaped his mind games and viciousness. Scott King coaxes them all into reliving the way that he was with them and this wasn’t welcomed.
Nana Wrack and the other apparitions seen were very convincing. I have always been wary of opening curtains and seeing somebody stood on the other side of the window. And the descriptions here brought back memories that I can laugh about now but had me fearful when I was a teenager.
It is a difficult book to read without giving away too much but if you enjoy podcasts, serialised books with a high level of spookiness you won’t be disappointed. It’s also fantastic storytelling in a unique style.

You can buy the book at  amazon or  Waterstones

With thanks to the publisher for the copy received for review.

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Dark Embers by Matt Brolly – Blog Tour Review.

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About the Book

An explosive fire. A double murder. And that’s just the start
When DCI Michael Lambert is called out to an apparent house fire, he knows it can’t be routine. Instead he finds the remains of a burnt house, a traumatised child and two corpses – one of whom is a senior police officer.
Lambert’s got other problems. Anti-corruption are onto his boss. His relationships is on the rocks. He can’t get over his ex-wife and he keeps blacking out.
But when a detective has been murdered the stakes are too high to get distracted. All is not as it seems. As the investigation continues Lambert realises he is getting drawn into something altogether bigger and more terrifying than he could ever have imagined…
Trust no one.

My Review

Dark Embers is the third book in the series to feature DCI Michael Lambert and is the second one that I have read. My plan was to read book two prior to this but I ran out of time. Fortunately, it could be read as a standalone novel.
I read an early copy without seeing a synopsis so had no idea what it was about. If anything, this added to the intrigue of which there was already plenty. There was no slow build up. There is something quite harrowing about seeing a home on fire through the eyes of a young girl who doesn’t understand what she is seeing.
Lambert is called in to head the investigation because the home belongs to a serving police officer. Everybody wants a quick solve but this isn’t a straight forward case. Lambert is struggling. An investigation by professional standards, the loss of his daughter, feelings for his ex-wife and uncertainty over his current relationship add to the guilt he feels over injuries that his colleague Matilda suffered during a previous case.
I enjoyed meeting Lambert again. Even though I hadn’t read all the books I could still follow the story very well. There were no spoilers if anybody does decide to read this book without reading any of the earlier stories. There is rivalry between the teams, frustration about professional standards being in the way and a very understandable feeling of how far Lambert’s superior could be trusted.
I like a novel where I can’t work out ‘whodunit’ so this worked very well for me. I never had a clue! The reasons why could have been quite upsetting but this was a lot more restrained than some that I have read. That is until the very chilling ending that had wondering what I had missed in book two and what I could look forward to in book 4.

You can buy the book here
With thanks to the publisher for the copy received.

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