What She Saw Last Night by M. J. Cross – Blog Tour Review.

About The Book

A secret that could kill her.

A truth no one believes…

Jenny Bowen is going home. Boarding the Caledonian Sleeper, all she wants to do is forget about her upcoming divorce and relax on the ten-hour journey through the night. 

In her search for her cabin, Jenny helps a panicked woman with a young girl she assumes to be her daughter. Then she finds her compartment and falls straight to sleep.

Waking in the night, Jenny discovers the woman dead in her cabin … but there’s no sign of the little girl. The train company have no record of a child being booked on the train, and CCTV shows the dead woman boarding alone.

The police don’t believe Jenny, and soon she tries to put the incident out of her head and tells herself that everyone else is right: she must have imagined the little girl. 

But deep down, she knows that isn’t the truth.

My Review

With thanks to the publisher for the copy received. This is the first book have read by Mason Cross and it was a pleasant surprise to discover that the events take place in the UK. Even though some of the novel is city based it made a nice change to read a novel that showed somewhere different. Much of this novel takes place in a more remote setting, one that without the danger that Jenny found herself in, sounded amazing.

When Jenny travelled North it was to deal with the sale of her family home and find some personal space after her marriage broke down. She booked the sleeper train, hoping to find it more relaxing but the events that occured made it far from peaceful. Despite assurances form the local police that she mistaken about what she witnessed she refuses to accept that she was wrong and starts her own investigation into what happened. But she is unprepared for the danger she places herself in.

I liked Jenny a lot, her refusal to back down and her bravery in dealing with the increasing danger she found herself in almost immediately. And, especially when faced with Klenmore, one of the scariest bad guys I have ever met in fiction.

At times it felt like classic train noir. An emotionally exhausted traveller, a harassed young woman with a little girl, a feeling that the lone male traveller is sinister. One ends up dead, two never there. An old fashioned journey, no wifi, intermittent phone signal, little comfort in a poky room. It could have sounded like an unattractive journey but I found it fascinating, a blast from the past and despite the events it made me interested in doing a journey like this.

A great standalone introduction to Mason Cross, I have another of his books to read soon.

The Killer In The Choir by Simon Brett – First Monday Crime.

About The Book

When Jude joins the Fethering community choir, she discovers that at least one of her fellow choristers is hiding a deadly secret.

Although she hadn’t known Leonard Mallett very well, nor liked him particularly, Carole Seddon feels duty bound to attend her fellow committee member’s funeral. As she suspected, the hymns, readings and sermon are all very predictable – not unlike Leonard himself. What she couldn’t have predicted was that the deceased’s daughter would use the occasion to publicly accuse her stepmother of murder. 

Did Heather Mallett really kill her husband, as many Fethering residents believe? Deciding to get to the heart of the matter, Carole’s neighbour Jude joins the new community choir – and discovers that amidst the clashing egos and petty resentments lurk some decidedly false notes. At least one chorister would appear to be hiding a deadly secret – and it’s up to Carole and Jude to unearth the truth.

My Review

With thanks to the publisher for the copy received. This was the first book I have read in this series but I had no problems getting to know the characters. Cosy crime and village life, its just like Midsomer Murders and Miss Marple. Where life is ruled by gossip and not always revealing the truth. If your neighbour didn’t know everything about you they were invent something and convince everybody that it was the truth.

Carole and Jude, the two amateur sleuths were like chalk and cheese. Carole was reclusive, tetchy and judgemental. Jude was more tolerant, likeable and approachable. How their friendship worked was slightly baffling but they did seem fairly close. Especially over a glass or two of Sauvignon Blanc.

Like many cosy crime novels you couldn’t take it seriously, but its part of the attraction. Total escapism. I had a lot of fun trying to work out who the murderer was. I will dip into this series again.

Simon Brett is one of the authors who will be appearing at First Monday Crome on Monday 2nd December. Details can be found at https://www.firstmondaycrime.com/

White Zion by Gila Green – Review.

About The Book

It’s titled ‘White Zion’ but Gila Green paints from all the colors/hues of the Jewish palette. These gritty yet shimmering stories get into you. I read them all in two swoops, then stayed up for an hour or two, maybe four, waiting for my heart to return to normal.
-Ruchama King Feuerman, author of In the Courtyard of the Kabbalist and Seven Blessings

In a journey of generations from Aden to Palestine to Ottawa, one Yemenite family encounters new and difficult realities: racism and war, rejection and divorce, resourceful survival and tragic death. With smells of delicious breads wafting up from the page, embroidering detail upon detail in fine literary stitch, Gila Green draws us fully into her narrative, as she generously shares with us the hidden core of family life and the stories she is not afraid to tell.
-Yael Unterman, author of The Hidden of Things: Twelve Stories of Love & Longing

Imagine a group of friends and relatives coming together throughout the afternoon over food and drink, staying late into the evening to share stories that engender laughter, tears, empathy and admiration. The profoundly satisfying stories in White Zion are rich in intimate detail, peopled with a cast of heart wrenching characters at once familiar and unique, a gathering of personalities that leaves me reluctant to leave their company and eager to revisit them. 
-Pearl Luke, author of Madame Zee and Burning Ground

My Review

With thanks to the author for the copy received. I read the first few chapters of this book twice, I misunderstood the description ‘novel in stories’ so hadn’t realised that they all concerned the same family at different times in history. It was no hardship, I throughly enjoyed this book and I found it very different to anything else I have read.

It was fascinating to read about the development of Israel, how different it was to life in Ottawa and how Miriam adapted to married life there after a childhood spent in Canada. I read with sadness, at how hard it was being a child who was bullied for being Yemenite and living in poverty. I cheered when years later he got some form of revenge on the ones who could have done more. I read with a warm feeling when the kindness strangers made a huge difference to a difficult existence. And I laughed at the tale about the rat on a wedding day.

I had to ask a friend occasionally about some of the Jewish customs but not knowing wouldn’t have stopped me enjoying this novel. It was fascinating to read about a culture and way of life so different to my own. I also have to comment on the photo that is used as the cover image, it is a beautiful one that says a lot.

The Temple House Vanishing by Rachel Donohue – Ambassador Book Buzz.

About The Book

Power. Jealousy. Desire.

Twenty-five years ago, a sixteen-year-old schoolgirl and her charismatic teacher disappeared without trace…
When Louisa arrives at Temple House, an elite catholic boarding school, she quickly finds herself drawn to sophisticated fellow pupil Victoria and their young bohemian art teacher, Mr Lavelle. The three of them from a bond that seems to offer an escape from the repressive regime of the nuns who run the cloistered school. Until Louisa and Mr Lavelle suddenly disappear without trace.

Years later, a journalist with a childhood connection to Louisa determines to resolve the mystery. Her search for the truth will uncover a tragic, mercurial tale of suppressed desire and long-buried secrets. It will shatter lives and lay a lost soul to rest.

The Temple House Vanishing is a stunning, intensely atmospheric novel of unrequited longing, dark obsession and unintended consequences.

My Review

With thanks to the publisher and Love Reading for the copy received. The Temple House Vanishing was an intriguing dual time frame novel that focused on the disappearance of a school girl and her teacher. It is narrated by Laura, the girl concerned, where you learn about her life up to her disappearance and the journalist who is writing about the circumstances twenty five years later and has the unfortunate task of interviewing the ones who knew her. Neither her friend Victoria or prefect Helen are likeable. Helen in particular made me angry every time she appeared.

I had expected the nuns who ran the school to feature more but they were very much in the background, oblivious to the students, the way they were bullied by the prefects and also the effect that the young good looking male teacher had on their pupils.

It was unusual reading Louisa’a story and not knowing what happened to her. Usually you are given clues but nothing was revealed until the end and it was far from straightforward. I had a lot of sympathy for her, she was completely out of her depth when coping with her feelings and the treatment she received at the hands of the prefects, in particular Helen.

Spooky, threatening and with a sense of loneliness this was a great debut by Rachel Donohue.

I Will Miss You Tomorrow by Heine Bakkeid – translated by Anna Bruce – Blog Tour Review.

About The Book

The first in a new Norwegian crime series featuring disgraced ex-Chief Inspector Thorkild Aske, a damaged man with a complicated past

Fresh out of prison and a stint in a psychiatric hospital, disgraced ex-policeman Thorkild Aske only wants to lose himself in drugged dreams of his beloved Frei. Wild, unknowable Frei. The woman he loved. The woman he has lost forever.

Yet when Frei’s young cousin goes missing off the Norwegian coast and Thorkild is called in by the family to help find him, dead or alive, Thorkild cannot refuse. He owes them this. 

Tormented by his past, Thorkild soon finds himself deep in treacherous waters. He’s lost his reputation – will he now lose his life?

My Review

With thanks to the publisher for the copy received. I’ve read a few Norwegian novels but I have never read anything like I Will Miss You Tomorrow. Aske was a character who like many before him has a private life that is a mess. But his private life has caused him to lose his career as an investigator in internal affairs and placed him in prison. I misunderstood most of his situation initially. When what happened to him was revealed I had a lot more sympathy, respect and liking for him.

It was a book that had me shivering whilst reading. The weather conditions, the freezing cold water, the attitudes and abuse he faced from former friends and colleagues. I learned more about certain medical conditions than I expected, drug dependency and Norwegian village life. I read the most graphic description of an autopsy I have ever read , where I could practically smell the body.

It is a crime novel with a supernatural slant. Not too much, just enough to unsettle me and question whether it was a hallucination or ‘reality’. Aske is one of the more intriguing characters I have met, I hope I don’t have to wait too long for book two.