The Lynmouth Stories by Lucy V. Hay – Blog Tour Review.

About The Book

Devon’s very own crime writer L.V Hay (The Other Twin, Do No Harm) brings forth three new short stories from her dark mind and poison pen:

– For kidnapped Meg and her young son Danny, In Plain Sight, the remote headland above Lynmouth is not a haven, but hell.

– A summer of fun for Catherine in Killing Me Softly becomes a winter of discontent … and death.

– In Hell And High Water, a last minute holiday for Naomi and baby Tommy  becomes a survival situation … But that’s before the village floods.

All taking place out of season when the majority of tourists have gone home, L.V Hay uses her local knowledge to bring forth dark and claustrophic noir she has come to be known for.

Did You Know …?

Known as England’s ‘Little Switzerland’, the Devon village of Lynmouth is famous for its Victorian cliff railway, fish n’ chips and of course, RD Blackmore’s Lorna Doone.

Located on the doorstep of the dramatic Valley of The Rocks and the South West Cliff Path, the twin villages of Lynton and Lynmouth have inspired many writers, including 19th Century romantic poet Percy Bysshe Shelley, who honeymooned there in 1812.

My Review

With thanks to the publisher for the copy received. I don’t read many short story collections but I have read full length novels by this author so had a feeling that I would enjoy them. I wasn’t disappointed and read them all  in a little over half an hour. Perfect for a lunch break or a short bus/train journey.

There are three of them, all similar in that they take place in Lynmouth out of season. I don’t know the area at all, I had to google the Lynmouth flood but I imagine that it was like any tourist area. Very pretty and welcoming in high season. Less so when the weather is atrocious and many businesses are closed.

Whilst it is difficult to go into any detail about the stories I enjoyed all of them. All featured a threat from both the usual human type but also nature. I think any reader who has experienced conditions such as described would fully appreciate how it must feel to be at the mercy of the weather. It was intimidating enough not to have done. With the third story in particular I was happy to be reading on a lovely Spring morning feeling safe, warm and dry.

The third story, Hell And High Water, was my favourite out of all of them. Slightly longer and more intimidating,  I could have easily read a full length version of it. The differing emotions experienced, the resignation followed by fear, gratitude and finally relief were perfect. 

The House Of Hidden Secrets by C. E. Rose – Blog Tour Review.

About The Book

The imposing gates of Ramsay Hall yawned open. As Serena and 4-year-old Lana walked up the long driveway, little did they know the dark secrets that lay within.

When Serena Green accepted the role of housekeeper for wealthy widower Hayden Ramsay, she never imagined her new home would be Ramsay Hall, an ancient, sprawling mansion in Northern England.

Serena quickly becomes an integral part of the household, making friends with Hayden’s younger son Hugh, despite Jack, his older brother’s, coldness towards her and Lana.

But the hall’s beautiful exterior hides many ugly secrets. Though Serena and Jack begin to grow closer, she’s confused by his behaviour around Lana. What is he guilty of? And is there more to their mother’s death than the Ramsay men will admit, even to themselves?

As the harrowing past of Ramsay Hall unravels, Serena fresh start becomes a fresh horror. She fears for her and Lana’s safety, but what are the bleak secrets in Serena’s own past?

This house is built on a lifetime of lies… and the truth might just bring the walls crashing down. 

My Review

With thanks to the publisher for the copy received. I have read books by this author ( under the name Caroline England) before and enjoyed all of them. The House Of Hidden Secrets is my favourite one out all of them. It contains everything I like  about a novel. Intrigue, suspicion and plenty of twists.

Serena has taken the position of housekeeper and carer to Hayden Ramsay at the family home in Cheshire. Living with him are his two sons Jack and Hugh. It became evident immediately that the atmosphere was unsettled. More so with Hugh than any of the others. For some reason he was banished from the family home and was living in less than ideal conditions in a caravan at the farm where he worked. But in some ways, he was happier than any of the others. 

There were three narrators, Serena, Jack and Hugh. As you read you found  out more about all of them and at times it was unsettling to read. It was obvious straight away that Serena was hiding from her past and needed the remoteness of the area to keep herself and her young daughter hidden. What was less obvious was what had happened to Jack and Hugh in their past. And whilst I had a lot of sympathy for Jack it was Hugh whose story affected me the most. 

As the secrets were revealed the amount of manipulation increased. It was done slyly, to more than one person, but wasn’t entirely successful. I really enjoyed reading how the manipulator’s true personality was gradually shown as their desperation increased.

This was a novel I found very difficult to put down. When a novel has each chapter focusing on a different character it has to work and this worked perfectly. I needed to know what happened to each of them constantly. 

Amalie by E. J. Wood – Extract – Blog Tour.

About The Book

THEY MURDERED FAMILIES. THE FUHRER CANNOT PROTECT THEM NOW. 

It’s not wise to murder the family of a budding assassin. Created by Auschwitz, her skill is honed by revenge. 

A very different type of serial killer is loose in 1950s Europe. In Britain, a Brotherhood of powerful men takes notice and enhances the expertise and artistry of a killer. 
DCI John Owen was born to serve. Recruited by MI6, he tracks an accomplished executioner whose love of luxury and the arts is second only to the love of watching an early death come to those who truly deserve it. 

Join the chase. Then ask yourself…
Can there ever be only one winner? 

Extract

New on the scene were brothers Reggie and Ronnie Kray; and as they came to prominence in London, Hill decided to leave crime. Hill would stand there in his suede shoes, his double-breasted suit, his trilby hat and cigarette and Reggie Kray would admire him as his role model. William even witnessed Reggie claiming that during his early 20s, the man he wanted to emulate was now former gang boss Billy Hill, “He had a good, quick thinking brain” Reggie would say.

The Krays sought publicity and in doing so allowed a journalist, John Pearson, into their lives. They loved having their photograph taken whilst rubbing shoulders with celebrities, and Ronnie even claimed whilst in court for his murder trial that he’d “be having tea with Judy Garland” if he hadn’t been at court. 

The Sanatorium by Sarah Pearse – Review – First Monday.

About The Book

EVERYONE’S IN DANGER. ANYONE COULD BE NEXT.

An imposing, isolated hotel, high up in the Swiss Alps, is the last place Elin Warner wants to be. But she’s taken time off from her job as a detective, so when she receives an invitation out of the blue to celebrate her estranged brother’s recent engagement, she has no choice but to accept.

Arriving in the midst of a threatening storm, Elin immediately feels on edge. Though it’s beautiful, something about the hotel, recently converted from an abandoned sanatorium, makes her nervous – as does her brother, Isaac.

And when they wake the following morning to discover his fiancée Laure has vanished without a trace, Elin’s unease grows. With the storm cutting off access to and from the hotel, the longer Laure stays missing, the more the remaining guests start to panic.

But no-one has realized yet that another woman has gone missing. And she’s the only one who could have warned them just how much danger they’re all in . . .

My Review

With thanks to the publisher for the copy received. The Sanatorium was a novel that made me feel extremely claustrophobic as I read it. I can only say it was due to the amount of snow that caused a different type of isolation to what most of world has become accustomed to and a brilliant storyline that was full of threat and red herrings . All held together by a slightly unreliable narrator.

The location was fascinating, I have visited Switzerland but never experienced the weather in the book, thankfully. I can’t imagine how terrifying it must feel stranded due to weather and also be at risk where you are forced to stay. I felt that the design of the hotel would have just added to the fear. It definitely wouldn’t be somewhere I would choose to stay, even though it did also sound stunning. 

Elin was a character that took me a while to like and understand. She had PTSD caused by a case that had possibly ended her career and was still suffering years after the death of her younger brother. I did feel initially that her backstory took precedence over her life in modern day but when she started to investigate I felt I got to like and know her more. She was much more complex than many other police officers I have read about though and I still feel there is a lot to learn. 

She wasn’t the only character who had issues, her brother and the people she met whilst during their enforced stay all seemed to have a past that they kept  hidden. Her partner appeared to be the only one who seemed balanced and his character was one I did have misgivings about and I don’t really understand why. There just seemed to be something that wasn’t quite right. 

The epilogue suggests that there will be a follow up to this excellent debut novel, I’m looking forward to reading it. 

Sarah Pearse will be appearing at Second Monday Crime alongside David Fennell, Matt Wesolowski and David Baldacci. You can follow it all on their Facebook page at 7.30pm on Monday 12th April.

The Art Of Death by David Fennell – Review – First Monday.

About The Book

Death is an art, and he is the master . . .

Three glass cabinets appear in London’s Trafalgar Square containing a gruesome art installation: the floating corpses of three homeless men. Shock turns to horror when it becomes clear that the bodies are real.

The cabinets are traced to @nonymous – an underground artist shrouded in mystery who makes a chilling promise: MORE WILL FOLLOW.

Eighteen years ago, Detective Inspector Grace Archer escaped a notorious serial killer. Now, she and her caustic DS, Harry Quinn, must hunt down another.

As more bodies appear at London landmarks and murders are livestreamed on social media, their search for @nonymous becomes a desperate race against time. But what Archer doesn’t know is that the killer is watching their every move – and he has his sights firmly set on her . . .

He is creating a masterpiece. And she will be the star of his show.

My Review

With thanks to the publisher for the copy received. The Art Of Death is an extremely sinister crime thriller where the victims are displayed as works of art around London. Grace Archer is heading the police team who are trying to find the perpetrator but she has more to deal with than just the crime. She is in a new position, in a station where she doesn’t expect to be made welcome after she had to arrest her predecessor. She also has to care for her ailing grandfather, her only family.

She does have her friends in the team though, Quinn who wasn’t one of her predecessor’s biggest fans and Klara, who is more than capable of ignoring snide comments and smirks. 

It was a novel where you got to meet some of the victims rather than their killer. You could see how they were coerced to their deaths and with some of them the horror they experienced when they realised they had been duped.  And with the others, I  felt sadness at knowing that they wouldn’t have their happy evening.

There were a few times early in the book that I felt I had missed an earlier novel, but it was just a different style of writing. Both Grace’s and Quinn’s past are revealed much later in the novel. Most of the novel does focus on Grace but there poignant scenes that featured another victim. I felt quite tense reading these, hoping for a happy ending.

Not as believable as many crime thrillers but very entertaining and I read it very quickly. I hope that this book will become a series, I see huge potential for Grace, Quinn and a hopefully united team.