Knock Knock by Chris Merritt – Review.

About The Book

Natasha Mayston wasn’t expecting anyone to knock on her door so late at night. And she has no idea that the face staring back at her is the last one she’ll ever see…

As Detective Dan Lockhart is called to a wealthy London street to investigate Natasha’s death, he’s startled by the similarity to a previous case. Noticing the cable-tie restraints and the tiny scratches on Natasha’s wedding finger, Dan already knows what he will find if he looks in her mouth – the metal ball which choked her to death. He knows Natasha isn’t the killer’s first victim and is certain that he will strike again.

Months earlier, Kim Hardy was found in the same position in a run-down hotel across the city – an identical silver ball in her throat. But Kim’s murderer was caught and sent to prison – did they arrest the wrong man? And what connects the two victims? Fearing that he’s dealing with a psychopathic serial killer, Dan calls in psychologist Dr Lexi Green to help him to get into the perpetrator’s mind. Tough and smart, Lexi will stop at nothing to hunt down the man responsible for the deaths.

Then, another body is discovered, just as Lexi finds a clue online leading to the killer. Dan’s team aren’t convinced, but in pushing Lexi away from the investigation, they force her to dig further into the case on her own. Convinced that she’s on to something, she puts herself in unthinkable danger… but can Dan piece together the clues and identify the killer before it’s too late?

My Review

With thanks to the publisher for the copy received. I often read a novel by an author I hadn’t heard of before and wonder how I’ve missed them. This is one of those situations. I thought this book, the start of a new series was fabulous.

There was the police team, ex military SIO Dan Lockhart, who was trying to deal with the worry over his missing wife. Smith, who I wouldn’t want to get on the wrong side of. Khan, who it would be easy to dislike because of his self infatuation but I’m prepared to give him the benefit of the doubt. Berry, mainly desk and quieter than some but I still liked her. And finally there was Lexi Green, Dan’s therapist who he has recruited hoping she could help. I felt that whilst this book focused mainly on the investigation there were would be a chance to get to know more about them all in future novels.

It was unusual to be introduced to the victims before they met the killer, I felt the impact more and also that I knew more about them than the police. I saw their fear and their pain and it was a strange feeling but, more unusual was that it is a long time since I have been so fascinated yet repulsed by what a killer was thinking. And I have never at the same time sensed a vulnerability and a feeling of hurt from more than just the victim. 

I was absolutely hooked on the storyline, Chris Merritt is a master at red herrings. There wasn’t a male character who I didn’t suspect and I lost count of the number of times that I though I had solved it. 

This is a series where I can’t wait to see the next book in the series, hope I don’t have to wait long. 

Code Name Lise by Larry Loftis – Extract – Blog Tour.

About The Book

The year is 1942, and World War II is in full swing.

Odette Sansom decides to follow in her war hero father’s footsteps by becoming an SOE agent to aid Britain and her beloved homeland, France. Five failed attempts and one plane crash later, she finally lands in occupied France to begin her mission.

It is here that she meets her commanding officer Captain Peter Churchill. As they successfully complete mission after mission, Peter and Odette fall in love. All the while, they are being hunted by the cunning German secret police sergeant, Hugo Bleicher, who finally succeeds in capturing them.

They are sent to Paris’s Fresnes prison, and on to concentration camps in Germany, where they are starved, beaten, and tortured. But in the face of despair, they never give up hope, their love for each other, or the whereabouts of their colleagues.

This is portrait of true courage, patriotism and love amidst unimaginable horrors and degradation.

Extract

Shortly after ten the mist began to dissipate, leaving them partially exposed.

If it didn’t come soon, someone might notice the four mounds that had not been there two hours ago. It was bitterly cold—in the low teens—but Odette remained still, shivering in her wool skirt.

Finally, they heard it. Everyone hustled into position and watched as Peter flashed the code.

Nothing back. Peter flashed again. Still nothing. The plane passed directly overhead at eight hundred feet and then vanished.

Peter scooted across the field and crept up beside her.

“I simply don’t understand it,” he said behind clouded breath. “He must have seen the signal.”

Something wasn’t right, Odette knew. It was mission feel, to be sure—the fox catching a scent it remembered as danger: men loitering around the buildings that afternoon . . . no airport activity . . . the plane ignoring their signal. The eerie mist didn’t help, either.

Peter told her to stay low and crept to the end of the L formation. “Keep an eye on those buildings,” he told Jacques. “I have a feeling we’re in for an unwelcome interruption from that quarter.”

Moving up the line, he ducked down beside Paul. “There’s someone coming!” he whispered. “Lie flat on theground.”

Across the field, Odette could see the danger: two figures—guards?—emerging from the direction of the control tower. They were headed directly toward Peter and Paul.

Ten yards.

Approaching the two mounds. Five yards.

Odette gaped, pupils wide. Were the guards going to step on them?

The two figures kept walking, apparently just in front of Peter and Paul. When they were out of sight, Peter cameback.

“I thought they were going to walk slap into you,” Odette said. “I can’t think how they missed you.”

Peter cast his gaze across the field and hangars. “The plane ought to be back at any moment. If there’s any danger from those buildings I shall wave my torch sideways and Jacques will come over to you and you’re both to beat it over the bridge. Paul and I will make a separate retreat; better to be in two groups.”

“Listen!” Odette uttered. The plane was returning. If it recognized Peter’s code with the countersign, they’d turn on their lights to illuminate the landing field. If it didn’t, it was German.

Peter moved back to position and Odette kept her eyes peeled. All was silent around the buildings as the drone of the aircraft grew louder.

A flash swept suddenly over the horizon and Odette froze. It was not Peter’s.

It was a trap!

Some three hundred yards away—directly in line with the aircraft’s flight—an Aldis lamp was flashing Morse to the tower. Barrack lights snapped on and someone shouted: “Put out those lights, you imbeciles! Wait for the plane to land and we’ll grab them all.”

Odette saw Peter’s flashlight wave and then watched as he and Paul began racing across the field. The aircraft followed them, diving down on their heads at just six feet and then rising and disappearing. Odette turned to take off, but she could hear the plane returning. Would it let loose its guns,

dropping Peter and Paul like pins?

Just then, Jacques ran up.

“You make for the right,” Odette called out, “and I’ll meet you on the back road to Périgueux.”

The Germans would expect the saboteurs to head for the only cover, but separating the posse

might add confusion. Jacques tore off and Odette started to run when she heard a terrifying sound.

Turning back she saw him: an unleashed German Shepherd sniffing the area she had just left. The dog caught her scent, barked again, and was off.

Odette sprinted for the trees, adrenaline raging, but the ground was uneven and she fell. He was closing the gap, she knew. She scrambled up and dashed on.

Behind her she could hear him, the barking closer. He would be on her in seconds.

She broke through the tree line and pushed ahead, stumbling in the darkness. It couldn’t be much farther.

There was a crash as the dog lunged into the thicket where she had crossed.

Faster! Faster! She had to keep moving.

The Shepherd closed, growling and thrashing through the underbrush. It was the only way.

She plunged in.

The Waxwork Corpse by Simon Michael – Blog Tour Review.

About The Book

A deadly crime has been dragged to the surface…

London, 1965

Charles Holborne, maverick barrister, will never fit in at the Bar; he is too working-class, too Jewish and too dangerous.

But that makes him the perfect outsider to prosecute a shocking murder case which has already made its way to the press.

By chance, a body was found, dumped in a lake. It had clearly been there for some time, but the conditions in the water have meant that it was nearly perfectly preserved.

The police have managed to match this ‘waxwork corpse’ to a missing woman and if her husband — a senior judge — was the one who killed her, the scandal threatens to rock the British justice to its foundations.

The waxwork corpse is not the only thing to be raised from the past. The investigation also dredges up a violent mistake made by Charles in his youth which, if revealed, could put his own life at stake…

THE WAXWORK CORPSE, based on a real Old Bailey case, is the fifth crime novel in an exciting historical series, the Charles Holborne Legal Thrillers — gritty, hard-boiled mysteries set in 1960s London.

My Review

With thanks to the publisher for the copy received. This is book five in the Charles Holbourne series but the first that I have read. I had no issues with following the storyline, it works perfectly as a stand-alone. And it left me wanting to know more about the lead character and his family. 

According to the synopsis there are two situations in this novel that Charles has to deal with. The trial concerning the death of the woman found in Wastwater and a personal threat to him concerning events in his past. These events form the opening chapter for the book and showed how much life had changed for Charles since then.

But for me there was a third thread and that concerned his family life and how his reluctance to accept their faith caused a rift. Strangely for a legal drama it was this part of the novel that was my favourite, even though I did enjoy the other storylines. His relationship with his parents, especially his mother, was one that had me rolling my eyes but also smiling. And I always enjoy reading about different cultures and religions. The way his faith also affected his relationship with his colleagues was also one I found fascinating, and unfortunately believable.

The court proceedings were interesting, they made me think how a case such as this would be handled if somebody so powerful was stood in the dock. A favourite part was when the suspect was giving his explanation of events, I wasn’t sure whether to feel sympathetic or revulsion. Surprisingly I did guess correctly about what the end result would be, it’s cleverly done. 

I will definitely be following this series, I want to know more about the gangland association, his family life and what cases he faces in the future.

A Famished Heart by Nicola White – Blog Tour Review.

About The Book

THEY DID IT TO THEMSELVES
BUT SOMEONE WAS WATCHING

The Macnamara sisters hadn’t been seen for months before anyone noticed. It was Father Timoney who finally broke down the door, who saw what had become of them. Berenice was sitting in her armchair, surrounded by religious tracts. Rosaleen had crawled under her own bed, her face frozen in terror. Both had starved themselves to death.

Francesca Macnamara returns to Dublin after decades in the US, to find her family in ruins. Meanwhile, Detectives Vincent Swan and Gina Considine are convinced that there is more to the deaths than suicide. Because what little evidence there is, shows that someone was watching the sisters die…

My Review

With thanks to the publisher for the copy received. I loved this novel that was set in Dublin in the 1980s. It was quite refreshing to read a detective novel where the police had to rely on finding a pay phone to speak to colleagues rather than just use a mobile. Only a small thing but it is easy to forget how it used to be. 

The lack of technology was a recurring theme throughout the novel. Not just with the police, the distance between New York and Dublin seemed larger when you have to rely on the postal way of communicating. And when a tragedy such as the one that occurred in this novel it seemed to make it more devastating. The deaths of the two sisters are strange, even more so when you are aware that the author has based this on true events. I’m not sure how much is fact but it is a chilling and baffling case. Especially if you are like the two detectives ( and me) and don’t follow any religion.

Despite not knowing much about the faith it didn’t stop me thoroughly enjoying the story, I liked the lead characters a lot,  Considine , who refused  to accept the attitude to female police officers and Swan who was a bit of a loner, struggling to connect to his fellow officers and in some ways his wife. They communicated well, with neither overstepping boundaries and were able to see each other’s point of view without arguing. I think that both of these characters have huge potential and I am looking to getting to know them more. 

The Lost Lights Of St Kilda by Elisabeth Gifford – Blog Tour Review.

About The Book

1927: When Fred Lawson takes a summer job on St Kilda, little does he realise that he has joined the last community to ever live on that beautiful, isolated island. Only three years later, St Kilda will be evacuated, the islanders near-dead from starvation. But for Fred, that summer – and the island woman, Chrissie, whom he falls in love with – becomes the very thing that sustains him in the years ahead.

1940: Fred has been captured behind enemy lines in France and finds himself in a prisoner-of-war camp. Beaten and exhausted, his thoughts return to the island of his youth and the woman he loved and lost. When Fred makes his daring escape, prompting a desperate journey across occupied territory, he is sustained by one thought only: finding his way back to Chrissie.

The Lost Lights of St Kilda is a sweeping love story that will cross oceans and decades. It is a moving and deeply vivid portrait of two lovers, a desolate island, and the extraordinary power of hope in the face of darkness.

My Review

With thanks to the publisher for the copy received. I am going to struggle to find the words to review this wonderful book but I will try. I hadn’t really known what to expect, I wasn’t familiar with the author and I never knew anything about St Kilda. Almost immediately after starting to read it I realised that the novel was based on actual events with regards to the island and I was reading about them on the internet at the same time as reading this novel. The very realistic account of what life must have been like on St Kilda was fascinating. And even though I loved the story of Fred and Chrissie it was the story around the island that will be on mind for some time.

I can’t even imagine a world where you have to scale a cliff to get food to survive. A world where for months every year you have no contact at all with the mainland, no news, no letters, no provisions. The characters were fascinating, brave, independent and proud. They didn’t let anybody portray them as someone to be ridiculed. I enjoyed reading about the ceilidh, the folk stories and the Gaelic traditions. All that was missing was a soundtrack. It’s hard to think that the events that concerned this island happened less than 100 years ago. 

I adored Chrissie, her blossoming friendship with Fred who had visited from the mainland along with Archie, her strength, loyalty, humour and devotion to St Kilda was astonishing. She had great spirit and had a determination to do the best for her daughter despite everything. Even though I liked both, I enjoyed reading her account more than Fred’s, it was from her that you learned more about their relationship and island life. Even though Fred’s experience in the war isn’t mentioned much there was enough for me to experience the danger that he was in. And like St Kilda, his war was something I knew nothing about.

A wonderful read that had me gazing into the distance on finishing.