The Best Laid Plans by Russell Govan – Review.

About The Book

Undercover police officer Josh Gray, a former soldier, rescues a young woman, Amelia Harris, from assault by two men late at night. Days later Harris reappears as an old friend of a member of the terrorist cell that Gray has infiltrated. Will she blow his cover?

Her re-emergence is a further unwelcome complication in a fraught operation to investigate a terrorist group bent on detonating multiple explosive devices in densely packed public spaces. Gray’s instincts suggest that the threat might involve more than just the lone cell – headed by Ryan Watson, a charismatic ideologue whose frustration with conventional politics has driven him to embrace extremism.

The threat to national security grows, at the same time that Gray feels increasingly isolated in the operation. 

When a practice attack by the cell against a soft target succeeds in causing significant damage, albeit at the cost of one of the terrorists lives, Gray realises that the quality of equipment provided means the cell is incredibly well funded, and that Watson’s disregard for human life extends to members of his own team.

As the operation reaches its climax, a sudden terrifying twist sees Gray involved in a race to neutralise a new threat, as Watson embarks on an unexpected mission to strike at the very heart of the British establishment.

My Review

With thanks to the author for the copy received. All over the world you hear reports of terrorist attacks where sadly innocent people die or suffer terrible injuries. This novel shows the attempts of the police and security services to try and stop them.

Josh is an undercover police officer, his real character was totally different to the one where he was part of a small but dangerous group of people. His true character was one I liked a lot, even his unconventional ways of dealing with people who he felt needed to suffer for their actions. I found myself sat waiting in anticipation for who he would be dealing with next, there were quite a few in his queue! I also liked his relationship with Molly and his pain at the way it had deteriorated. 

I knew that the person he was portraying as part of the group wasn’t real but he came across as more grounded than the others. The leader, Ryan, was a character who made me feel extremely uncomfortable with his beliefs and desire to cause as much mayhem as possible. I saw him as a cult leader who brainwashed his group into thinking the same way as him, but where they couldn’t see what was really happening or how far he was prepared to go. His team seemed to consist of those who had been damaged by society or people who should have known better and I imagine this to be a true reflection of what many groups similar to this are like in the real world. 

I hope that this is the first in a new series, I would definitely be interested in reading more about Josh in future novels. 

You Never Said Goodbye by Luca Veste – Blog Tour Review.

About The Book

A DEVOTED MOTHER
Sam Cooper has a happy life: a good job, a blossoming relationship. Yet, there’s something he can never forget – the image seared into his mind of his mother, Laurie, dying when he was a child. His father allowed his grief to tear them apart and Sam hasn’t seen him in years.

A LOVING WIFE
Until an unexpected call from Firwood hospital, asking Sam to come home, puts in motion a chain of devastating events. On his deathbed, Sam’s father makes a shocking confession.

A LIAR?
Who was Laurie Cooper? It’s clear that everything Sam thought he knew about his mother was wrong. And now he’s determined to find out exactly what she did and why – whatever the cost. 

What happens if you discover you’ve been lied to by your own family for twenty-five years?

Sam Cooper is about to find out.

My Review

With thanks to the publisher for the copy received, I have read a couple of Luca Veste’s Merseyside based books before and really enjoyed them. This new book, a standalone mainly set in America, was one that appealed as soon as I’d heard about it. 

Sam is living alone in London and when he is on a date with a woman he likes a lot he receives a call from the hospital telling him to get there as soon as he can. His father was extremely poorly. He arrives in time but wasn’t  prepared for what he discovered or how much danger he was now in.

He was a character I liked immediately and who I had a lot of sympathy for. He had a very difficult relationship with his estranged father since the loss of his mother and younger brother. But he didn’t show self pity, instead he focused on trying to find answers and trying to stay alive. He also managed to maintain his sense of humour and a degree of cynicism, especially with regard to the size of his meal portions in America and the amount of adverts on TV. The fear that he felt throughout, not knowing why people wanted to kill him felt real, but the most convincing was his fear of the rivers, showing that his experience had left long lasting scars. 

It is one of those novels where the reader knows more than the characters, I knew why Sam’s mother was forced to flee, the lengths that her stalker would go to but I didn’t know who could be trusted and whether his mother was dead or alive. I also could see the reasons why some of the characters did what they did when the eventual truth was revealed. Strangely I also felt a little sympathy for a few of them. 

This is a book full of twists, danger and regret. I loved it

Shady Hollow by Juneau Black – Blog Tour Review.

About The Book

A MURDER TO SOLVE. A REPORTER ON THE CASE.
CAN YOU SPOT THE SECRETS IN SHADY HOLLOW?

In the woodland community of Shady Hollow, you’ll discover a secret. Moose and mice, owls and bears live side by side in civilized harmony. Shady Hollow has a coffee shop and a bookshop, a haberdasher and a bank. All is well . . . until the town’s querulous toad shows up dead. It’s something this village haven’t seen before: a murder.

Vera Vixen is new in town. She has a nose for news and catches the scent of a story, one that leads her to dark places. As she stirs up the still waters, the fox exposes more than one mystery, and the folks in Shady Hollow learn that some of their neighbours are lying, while others are downright dangerous. It will take all of Vera’s cunning and quickness to come out alive.

Entertaining and perceptive, Shady Hollow is fast-paced and witty, with characters that jump off the page and a hugely satisfying mystery to solve. Once you’ve met the residents of Shady Hollow, you won’t easily forget them.

My Review

With thanks to the publisher for the copy received. I have always enjoyed crime fiction and I mostly read a police procedural or a psychological thriller. But every now and again I like to read something a little lighter and Shady Hollow was perfect for a bit of escapism but one where I could still try to solve the crime. 

There is no doubt, this novel is different to many others. No humans feature, all of the characters are from the animal kingdom and all of their personalities seemed to suit the type of creature they were. The main character was Vera, the fox who was wily, sharp and clever. She had plenty of friends, a raven ( bookshop owner), a wise owl ( tutor) and a hummingbird (town gossip) were just a few of them. All of them felt suited to their roles, based on the type of creature they were. 

It is only a short novel, but I found it fun to read. I enjoyed meeting all the characters, the way they interacted with each other and their habits. Joe and his coffee shop was one of my favourite scenes throughout, I was tempted to look up recipes for his scones and cakes but I’ve managed to resist. So far! 

I feel that this book could be read by any age group, it is definitely a more easy going storyline. Whilst there are crimes committed most of the focus is on character development and it is an imaginative way of describing animals living as humans do.

The Winter Guest by W. C. Ryan – Review – First Monday Crime.

About The Book

The drive leads past the gate house and through the trees towards the big house, visible through the winter-bared branches. Its windows stare down at Harkin and the sea beyond . . .

January 1921. Though the Great War is over, in Ireland a new, civil war is raging. The once-grand Kilcolgan House, a crumbling bastion shrouded in sea-mist, lies half empty and filled with ghosts – both real and imagined – the Prendevilles, the noble family within, co-existing only as the balance of their secrets is kept.

Then, when an IRA ambush goes terribly wrong, Maud Prendeville, eldest daughter of Lord Kilcolgan, is killed, leaving the family reeling. Yet the IRA column insist they left her alive, that someone else must have been responsible for her terrible fate. Captain Tom Harkin, an IRA intelligence officer and Maud’s former fiancé, is sent to investigate, becoming an unwelcome guest in this strange, gloomy household.

Working undercover, Harkin must delve into the house’s secrets – and discover where, in this fractured, embattled town, each family member’s allegiances truly lie. But Harkin too is haunted by the ghosts of the past and by his terrible experiences on the battlefields. Can he find out the truth about Maud’s death before the past – and his strange, unnerving surroundings – overwhelm him?

My Review

With thanks to the publisher for the copy received. I read a book by William Ryan a few years ago called The Constant Soldier and recommended it to everybody I know. I’m sure that I will be just as eager to do the same with this new book. 

In some ways it is completely different, it takes place in Ireland a few years after the end of WW1 and more importantly for this novel after the Easter Rising. The troubles in Ireland form a huge part of this storyline, the effect on the local smaller communities, the British ex military who are drafted in to quash any uprising and the methods in which they do so. I felt that these men didn’t give any thought to why people either wanted independence or not. They were just doing the same as what they did during the war, killing. To  my shame, I know little about this period in time and did have to dig deeper at times. 

I thought the similarities with The Constant Soldier were the descriptions of war and the effect it had on the soldiers. It was evident throughout how Harkin struggled with his experience. Most of the ghosts he saw were soldiers who he had known. These were at times harrowing to read despite the brevity and they increased my liking of him, I felt they showed his honesty and in some ways increased his determination to get the answers about Maud’s death. She was another whose ghost he saw, proving to me that his ghosts were people who had an impact on him at some time in his life. 

It could have been a depressing novel, a fractured country struggling with poverty and politics but there were characters who made me smile. Mrs Driscoll, Moira and Bourke especially. 

I found this novel fascinating for so many reasons but mainly for opening my eyes to a troubled time.

William Ryan will be participating in February’s First Monday Crime alongside Sam Blake, Liz Nugent and Jane Casey. You can watch via the Facebook page at 7.30pm on Monday 7th Feb.

The Long Weekend by Gilly Macmillan – Blog Tour Review.

About The Book

By the time you read this, I’ll have killed one of your husbands.

In an isolated retreat, deep in the Northumbria moors, three women arrive for a weekend getaway.

Their husbands will be joining them in the morning. Or so they think.

But when they get to Dark Fell Barn, the women find a devastating note that claims one of their husbands has been murdered. Their phones are out of range. There’s no internet. They’re stranded. And a storm’s coming in.

Friendships fracture and the situation spins out of control as each wife tries to find out what’s going on, who is responsible and which husband has been targeted.

This was a tight-knit group. They’ve survived a lot. But they won’t weather this. Because someone has decided that enough is enough.

That it’s time for a reckoning.

My Review

With thanks to the publisher for the copy received. 

I always enjoy a novel that contains an unreliable narrator and twists. I can honestly say that this novel had plenty of twists and the majority of the characters, all who were narrators, could only be classed as unreliable. There were probably only three who I felt were balanced and they didn’t feature that heavily. They were also the only ones I had positive thoughts about. 

There are two different sides to this novel. The events in the barn where the relationship between the three women rapidly disintegrated as their worries increased You got to see their true feelings towards each other, their jealousy, self doubt and their thoughts regarding their marriages.

The other part of the novel concerned Imogen, Edie’s daughter. It is difficult to say much about her but it is the part of the novel where I realised that this was an extremely clever storyline which wasn’t going the way I expected it to. I felt increasingly unsettled, not knowing what was going to happen next. It didn’t really matter who was involved, just reading what the characters concerned were thinking was enough to make it very difficult to put this book down. 

Damaged characters, for various reasons. Deteriorating health, which added to the trauma in the barn as well as on the family concerned and appalling weather conditions which I hope never to experience all made a novel which I enjoyed a lot.