Her Husband’s Lover by Julia Crouch – Review.


About the Book

She stole her husband. Now she wants to take her life.
After the horrors of the past, Louisa Williams is desperate to make a clean start.
Her husband Sam is dead. Her children, too, are gone, victims of the car accident in which he died.
Sam said that she would never get away from him. That he would hound her to death if she tried to leave. Louisa never thought that he would want to harm their children though.
But then she never thought that he would betray her with a woman like Sophie.
And now Sophie is determined to take all that Louisa has left. She wants to destroy her reputation and to take what she thinks is owed her – the life she would have had if Sam had lived.
Her husband’s lover wants to take her life. The only question is will Louisa let her?

My Review

Her Husband’s Lover messed with my head. Two women, Louisa and Soph are linked by tragedy when Sam, Louisa’s husband and Soph’s lover dies after a high-speed car crash. Everything points to the accident being caused by Sam trying to kill Louisa so he can start a new life with Soph. Louisa attempts to rebuild her life under an assumed identity but Soph is after revenge and financial security for her daughter.
But this is not a book where you can even begin to assume anything. The only character who I could take as face value was Adam. When there had been a few chapters concerning the past I thought I knew the real story but I was increasingly horrified as I got nearer the end. One of the more eerie things about the book were the parts that were merely hinted at. The parts where I was left thinking about what might have happened.
I found it fascinating, very unsettling and impossible to put down. I don’t think that I have read anything like it before.
Julia Crouch is one of the authors who will be participating in tonight’s First Monday Crime. For anybody who can attend I’m sure it will be a great night. The details can be found here

With thanks to the publisher for the copy received via NetGalley.

The Mourner by Susan Wilkins – Review.


About the Book

She can’t get justice; will she settle for vengeance?
Kaz Phelps has escaped her brother and her criminal past to become an anonymous art student in Glasgow. But can life under the witness protection scheme ever give her the freedom she craves?
Banged up and brooding, Joey Phelps faces thirty years behind bars. Still, with cash and connections on the outside, can an overstretched prison system really contain him?
Helen Warner, once Kaz’s lawyer and lover, is a rising star in Parliament. But has she made the kind of enemies who have no regard for the democratic process, or even the law?
Ousted from the police and paralysed by tragic personal loss, Nicci Armstrong is in danger of going under. Can a job she doesn’t want with a private security firm help her to put her life back on track?

My Review

The Mourner is the second book in the trilogy that started with The Informant. It’s a different type of crime series for me, with much of the focus being on Kaz. She isn’t a police officer, but a member of a notorious crime family. She has spent time in prison but since the events in the first book is living in witness protection in Glasgow. After the death of her former lover she leaves her safe but lonely existence behind and goes to London to get some answers.
I like Kaz a lot. She has had a hard life along with her brother Joey but she has managed to some degree to walk away from her criminal family. She is very much the black sheep and finds it difficult to trust most people but the ones she does she is very loyal to. Nikki is a former police officer who also featured in The Informant. Her life fell apart with the death of her daughter and the affect it had on her career.
It is a novel that doesn’t hold back. There is plenty of violence, much of which involves drugs and prostitution. There are gangs of different nationalities and untrustworthy politicians. But there is also bravery, loyalty and a determination to get justice. Some of the people who feature don’t always show true colours. A few who I expected to be ruthless were not as bad as I thought they would be. And of course, the ones who I expected to be genuine were not as they appeared.
A shocking ending that still had plenty of unanswered questions. I’m looking forward to catching up with the characters in The Killer that is published in a few weeks’ time. This is a series that needs to be read in order. It is probably the most closely linked one that I have read.
With thanks to the publisher for the copy received.

David Mark – Guest Post



Today, it is my pleasure to welcome to my blog David Mark talking about his crime fiction, and whether his preference is for U.S or U.K. His latest book, Cruel Mercy is available now and can be purchased Here

I’m terrible at patriotism. I’ve never quite worked out how to be proud of something that I have no control over. When people boast about their origins I always wonder whether, on their journey down the birth canal, they had a choice of exits. Did the flag-waving zealots decide to emerge onto a particular hospital bed based upon the host nation’s history, political outlook and GDP? Of course, I say this as somebody born on the Morton Park estate in Carlisle. There is a photo of me somewhere as a new-born baby looking distinctly disenfranchised.
This nonsense serves as preamble to a contentious proposition. Do I prefer British crime dramas or those made across the Atlantic? Cheers for that. Great question. Like I don’t have anything better to do than tie my head in knots trying to work out an opinion.
On balance, and if you really pushed me for an answer, I’d have to say that American crime fiction is better than British.
Yes, I know. Shock. Gasp. Horror. Gulp. Swallow-your-Kit-Kat-Chunkie. Choke. Death. But hang on. I was asked a question, and I’m giving an answer, based upon the opinions in my brain. This is a radical approach and one that politicians could learn a lot from.
So, crime fiction. They were the words put forward. And my first thought has nothing to do with books. I think of the brilliant and gripping HBO and Showtime series that have completely engrossed me. Unfailingly high standards, superb production values, gripping characters and plot and enough episodes per series to build your week around. I’m thinking The Wire, Sons of Anarchy, Justified, How to Get Away with Murder and every CSI from Miami to Milwaukee. Compare that to the British output. Yes, we have Luther and Sherlock, Endeavour and Line of Duty. But three or four episodes every year or two is a rather feeble harvest. And I’ve never quite forgiven the BBC for axing Waking the Dead.
Now you’re going to ask me about books. I can sense it hanging in the air between us – an unspoken accusation, heavy on raised eyebrow and poised pen. Well … British, I think. I consider American crime fiction and I think of Dennis Lehane, James Lee Burke and Chelsea Cain. I think they’re brilliant. I’d be glad to give them each a one-word testimonial for their blurbs. It would read ‘jealous!’.
But then I think of Peter May, Denise Mina and Sarah Hilary, and, I feel as though this is a competition that could go either way. So then I think about the US greats of yesteryear. Chandler, Hammett and Crumley. But we have Christie, Ted Lewis and Reg Hill. So I’m going to refer you back to my earlier statement. The notion of nationality playing any role in your output is a nonsense. No one nation produces better writers than any other. I can happily read Eva Dolan then switch over to PJ Tracy and finish off with a Sigursdottir. I’ll read what I like, thanks very much. And I may well change my mind before the morning.
What was that? Do I prefer male crime writers or female? I’m sorry, is that the time …

He Said, She Said by Erin Kelly – Review


About the Book

In the hushed aftermath of a total eclipse, Laura witnesses a brutal attack.
She and her boyfriend Kit call the police, and in that moment, four lives change forever.
Fifteen years on, Laura and Kit live in fear.
And while Laura knows she was right to speak out, she also knows that you can never see the whole picture: something is always hidden… something she never could have guessed.

My Review

He Said, She Said is one of the best books that I have read this year.
Told by two different people over a period of fifteen years it focuses on Laura and Kit who are witnesses to an attack at a festival to celebrate the eclipse. When Laura makes an error of judgement at the trial she is afraid of the consequences. But she doesn’t expect to be still living in fear years later. Beth, the young woman who was attacked is very much a part of their lives but they are not comfortable with her being so close to them. Laura’s story covers the way she has suffered since the trial and how she has kept it secret but Kit’s shows a more selfish side and how he has done things that places them in more danger.
I love a book with more than one narrator that also covers more than one period in time and I should imagine that it is difficult to do. Erin Kelly though has done it very well. There is a lot of drama and tension all the way through the book and both Laura and Kit have really suffered since the eclipse. At times, I felt very tense while reading and when it switched narrator I couldn’t wait to return to see what happened next.
The court scenes were the most convincing that I have read. A very convincing villain who maintained his innocence, a ruthless lawyer who had no sympathy at all for a victim. It was also, just as terrifying as I imagine it to be on a witness stand.
This is only the second book I have read by this author and I’m looking forward to reading more by her.
Erin Kelly will be appearing at First Monday Crime on the 6th March. This looks like a very interesting evening and details can be found here

With thanks to the publisher for the copy via NetGalley.

The Lonely Hearts Hotel by Heather O’Neill – Review.


About the Book

The Lonely Hearts Hotel is a love story with a difference. Set throughout the roaring twenties, it is a wicked fairytale of circus tricks and child prodigies, radical chorus girls, drug-addicted musicians and brooding clowns, set in an underworld whose economy hinges on the price of a kiss.
It is the tale of two dreamers, abandoned in an orphanage where they were fated to meet. Here, in the face of cold, hunger and unpredictable beatings, Rose and Pierrot create a world of their own, shielding the spark of their curiosity from those whose jealousy will eventually tear them apart.
When they meet again, each will have changed, having struggled through the Depression, through what they have done to fill the absence of the other. But their childhood vision remains – a dream to storm the world, a spectacle, an extravaganza that will lift them out of the gutter and onto a glittering stage.
Heather O’Neill’s pyrotechnical imagination and language are like no other. In this she has crafted a dazzling circus of a novel that takes us from the underbellies of war-time Montreal and Prohibition New York, to a theatre of magic where anything is possible – where an orphan girl can rule the world, and a ruined innocence can be redeemed.

My Review

I have never read a book like The Lonely Hearts hotel before. In honesty, I have to say that it took me quite a while to get into it. The physical, emotional and sexual abuse received by both Rose and Pierrot at the orphanage was hard to read. And the fantasy used to help Pierrot through it felt strange.
However, when they both left the orphanage I found it much easier to read. Rose was a character that I warmed to the most. I loved her resolve to make her life better. She was incredibly gutsy and loyal to almost everybody she met. Pierrot’s life was more heartbreaking. Apart from the time he spent with his benefactor his life was pretty much a downward spiral under the very strong hold of a heroin addiction. The minor characters were also strong. McMahon, the club boss who was determined to destroy Rose by control. Poppy, messed up and too young for the life she led and just wanting to be loved.
It’s very theatrical and dramatic. At times, it felt like a technicolour fantasy. All the descriptions of the stage shows, Rose’s scenes with the bear were all vividly described. But the scenes I enjoyed the most, the ones that felt more real, were the images of extreme poverty. The fight to survive at a dreadful time in history.
It’s a book that I’m pleased I persevered with. I enjoyed seeing how their lives altered as they got older and how each of them coped after the hardest beginning.

With thanks to the publisher for the copy received.

You can buy the book at amazon or waterstones