Black River by Will Dean – Blog Tour Review.

About The Book

Black River is an electrifying return for relentless reporter Tuva Moodyson, from the author of DarkPinesand RedSnow.

FEAR 

Tuva’s been living clean in southern Sweden for four months when she receives horrifying news. Her best friend Tammy Yamnim is missing.

SECRETS

Racing back to Gavrik at the height of Midsommar, Tuva fears for Tammy’s life. Who has taken her, and why? And who is sabotaging the small-town search efforts?

LIES

Surrounded by dark pine forest, the sinister residents of Snake River are suspicious of outsiders. Unfortunately, they also hold all the answers. On the shortest night of the year, Tuva must fight to save her friend. The only question is who will be there to save Tuva?

My Review

With thanks to the publisher for the copy received. Black River is book three in the series, if you are a reader who appreciates getting to know recurring characters I do recommend you read these books in order. Many are a little bizarre! 

Tuva has returned to Gavrik to try and help find her closest friend Tammy. She doesn’t want to be there, has settled into her new life in Malmo and anybody who has read these novels would admit that Gavrik is a little strange. But Tammy is all she has and she is determined to help. However,  she doesn’t have the support of everybody  and is upset that there is more interest in the disappearance of another local woman, one who is Swedish.

Gavrik with it’s inhabitants isn’t somewhere I would like to visit, Tuva does mention a few times that the best thing to do is avoid it. Especially during Midsommer where alcohol and the customs associated with the festival takeover the community. I had to look on YouTube at this festival because the description intrigued me so much. Think May Day with a slightly spooky feel to it. And combined with some extremely creepy locals it isn’t something I would like to attend.

This isn’t a novel where I could work out what had happened to Tammy or who was responsible. It is a novel where I was I intrigued by the intensity, the suspicion and the unfriendliness of the town, and forest. And of course, the mosquitoes and the snakes.

A great addition to the series,I’m interested to see what will happen next. 

The New Girl by Harriet Walker – Review

About The Book

She’s borrowed your life. What if she decides to keep it?

Glamorous Margot Jones is the fashion editor at glossy women’s magazine Haute, and pregnant with her first child. Margot’s used to her carefully curated life being the object of other women’s envy – who wouldn’t want her successful career, loving husband, beautiful house and stylish wardrobe? 

Maggie, a freelance journalist, certainly knows she doesn’t measure up. So when Margot gets in touch to suggest she apply for her maternity cover at Haute, Maggie seizes the chance at living a better life – even if it’s only temporary.

But the simultaneous arrival of Margot’s baby and a brutal end to her oldest friendship sends Margot into a spiral of suspicion and paranoia. Are Maggie’s motives as innocent as they seem? And what happens at the end of the year when Margot wants her old life back – especially if Maggie decides she doesn’t want to leave?

My Review

With thanks to the publisher for the copy received via Secret Readers. The New Girl was a book that I wouldn’t usually read, I prefer my books to be a little grittier. But the synopsis intrigued me with hints of trouble in the past, a broken friendship and a threat that many career women who are on maternity leave must feel.

At first it’s told by two view points, Margot who is on maternity leave with her first child and Maggie the woman who has filled her position. I liked both of them, appreciated Maggie’s enthusiasm and Margot’s fear over being replaced and her hurt at the way her school friend Winnie has severed connection. I liked her more and understood her feelings when events that happened when she was at school were slowly revealed.

When Winnie appeared the novel became a lot more sinister. It was via Winnie that I got to understand Margot more, especially with what happened when they were at school. I could see how Margot felt threatened but I could also see the pain that Winnie felt. I wasn’t sure what she could be capable of. I could also appreciate how much Maggie helped her, albeit unintentionally, with not knowing the connection that she had with Margot.

This was a novel about friendship, loyalty and envy. It was also about guilt and insecurity and how both could affect judgement. It also taught me a little about the fashion industry, something I know absolutely nothing about. 

I’m glad I decided to read something a little different, this was a book that I really enjoyed.   

A Deeper Song by Rebecca Bradley – Review.

About The Book

How do you fight someone you can’t see?

Detective Inspector Hannah Robbins finds herself on the most perilous case of her career when a young man darts in front of her car. He’s covered in someone else’s blood and has no memory of how he got there. 

Digging up the man’s past puts Hannah on a collision course with a dangerous stranger who wants history to remain hidden and who will stop at nothing to keep his secret. 

Hannah finds herself in the biggest fight of her life. 

Is this finally a case too far? 

My Review

With thanks to the author for the copy received. I have enjoyed reading Rebecca Bradley’s books for a few years now, her Hannah Robbins series is one of the few I am up to date on. This book has to be my favourite one yet and with the situation that we currently find ourselves living in I read it in one day. I was absolutely hooked on the way the storyline unfolded.

At the beginning you are made aware of the decision that Hannah has to face concerning her sister, and how it may have a bearing on the accident that followed. In her attempts to find out more about the young man she hit she places herself in danger and it’s from  then that I couldn’t put the book down. And I can’t say a further thing about the storyline because it needs to be spoiler free. But with the way it is written, with the narrative changing between Hannah and Aaron I was desperate to know what would happen.

If done well this type of novel works for me and this was one of the better ones. I appreciated getting to know more about the team and seeing the frustration they felt. There was one moment in particular where I really understood what Aaron was going through. I’m not sure if it’s something I would like to experience.

A cracking storyline with an ending that left me wanting  more. 

Second Sister by Chan Ho-Kei – Extract – Blog Tour.

About The Book

From the author of the acclaimed novel The Borrowed, a very timely and propulsively plotted tale of cyberbullying and revenge, about a woman on the hunt for the truth about her sister’s death. 

Chan Ho-Kei’s The Borrowed was one of the most acclaimed international crime novels of recent years, a vivid and compelling tale of power, corruption, and the law spanning five decades of the history of Hong Kong. Now he delivers Second Sister, an up-to-the-minute tale of a Darwinian digital city where everyone from tech entrepreneurs to teenagers is struggling for the top. 

A schoolgirl – Siu-Man – has committed suicide, leaping from her twenty-second floor window to the pavement below. Siu-Man is an orphan and the librarian older sister who’s been raising her refuses to believe there was no foul play – nothing seemed amiss. She contacts a man known only as N. – a hacker, and an expert in cybersecurity and manipulating human behavior. But can Nga-Yee interest him sufficiently to take her case, and can she afford it if he says yes? 

What follows is a cat and mouse game through the city of Hong Kong and its digital underground, especially an online gossip platform, where someone has been slandering Siu-Man. The novel is also populated by a man harassing girls on mass transit; high school kids, with their competing agendas and social dramas; a Hong Kong digital company courting an American venture capitalist; and the Triads, market women and noodle shop proprietors who frequent N.’s neighborhood of Sai Wan. In the end it all comes together to tell us who caused Siu-Man’s death and why, and to ask, in a world where online and offline dialogue has increasingly forgotten about the real people on the other end, what the proper punishment is.

Extract

When Nga-Yee left her flat at eight that morning, she had no idea her whole life would change that day.

After the nightmare of the last year, she was sure better times were ahead if they just gritted their teeth and clung on. She firmly believed that destiny was fair, and if something bad happened, something good must naturally follow. Unfortunately, the powers that be love playing cruel jokes on us.

A little after six that evening, Nga-Yee dragged her exhausted body homeward. As she walked from the shuttle bus stop, her mind busily calculated whether there was enough food in the fridge to make dinner for two. In just seven or eight years,prices had risen alarmingly while wages stayed the same. Nga-Yee could remember a pound of pork costing twenty-odd dollars, but now that barely got you half a pound.

There was probably a few ounces of pork and some spinach in the fridge, enough for a stir-fry with ginger. A dish of steamed eggs on the side would complete a simple, nutritious dinner. Her sister Siu-Man, who was eight years younger, loved steamed eggs, and Nga-Yee often served this soft, silky dish when the cupboard was almost bare—a fine meal with chopped scallions and a dash of soy sauce. Most important, it was cheap. Back when their finances were even tighter, eggs got them through many a difficult moment.

Although there was enough for that night, Nga-Yee wondered if she should try her luck at the market anyway. She didn’t like leaving the fridge completely bare, her upbringing had left her wanting a backup plan at all times. Besides, quite a few vendors dropped their prices just before closing, and she might pick up some bargains for the next day.

Ooo-eee-ooo-eee.

A police car sped past, the siren piercing Nga-Yee’s thoughts of discounted groceries. Only now did she notice the crowd at the foot of her building, Wun Wah House.

What on earth could have happened? Nga-Yee continued walking at the same pace. She wasn’t the sort of person who liked joining in the excitement, which was why many of her secondary school classmates had labeled her a loner, an introvert, a nerd. Not that this bothered her. Everyone has the right to choose how to live their lives. Trying to fit in with other people’s ideas  is pure foolishness.

“Nga-Yee! Nga-Yee!” A plump, curly-haired, fiftyish woman waved frantically from among the dozen or so onlookers: Auntie Chan, their neighbor on the twenty-second floor. They knew each other to say hello, but that was about it.

Auntie Chan sprinted the short distance toward Nga-Yee, grabbed her by the arm, and dragged her toward the building. Nga-Yee couldn’t make out a word she was saying, apart from her own name, sheer terror made her voice sound like a foreign language. Nga-Yee finally began to understand when she picked out the word “sister.”

In the light of the setting sun, Nga-Yee walked through the crowd and was finally able to make out the horrifying sight.

People were huddled around a patch of concrete about a dozen yards from the main entrance. A teenage girl in a white school uniform lay there, tangled hair obscuring her face, dark red liquid puddling around her head.

Nga-Yee’s first thought was, Isn’t that someone from Siu- Man’s school?

Two seconds later she realized the still figure on the ground was Siu-Man.

Her little sister was sprawled on the cold concrete. All the family she had in the world. Instantly, everything around her turned upside down. Was this a nightmare? If only she were dreaming. Nga-Yee looked at the faces around her. She recognized them as her neighbors, but they felt like strangers.

“Nga-Yee! Nga-Yee!” Auntie Chan clutched at her arm, shaking her violently.

“ Siu-Man?” Even saying her name out loud, Nga-Yee couldn’t connect the object on the ground with her little sister.

Siu-Man ought to be at home right now, waiting for me to cook dinner.

“Move back, please.” A police officer in a neatly pressed uniform pushed through while two paramedics knelt by Siu-Man with a stretcher.

The older paramedic held his hand beneath her nose, pressed a couple of fingers to her left wrist, then lifted an eyelid and shone  a penlight at her pupil. This took just a few seconds, but Nga-Yee experienced every one of these actions as a series of freeze frames.

She could no longer feel the passing of time.

Her subconscious was trying to save her from what would happen next.

The paramedic straightened and shook his head.

“Please step back, clear the way please,” said the policeman. The paramedics walked away from Siu-Man, looking somber. “Siu-Man? Siu-Man! Siu-Man!” Nga-Yee pushed Auntie Chan aside and dashed over.

“Miss!” A tall police officer moved quickly to grab her by the waist.

“Siu-Man!” Nga-Yee struggled futilely, then turned to beseech the officer, “That’s my sister. You have to save her!”

“Miss, please calm down,” said the policeman in a tone that suggested he knew his words would have no effect.

“Please save her! Medics!” Nga-Yee, all color  drained  from her face, turned to implore the departing ambulance crew. “Why isn’t she on your stretcher? Quick! You have to save her!”

“Miss, are you her sister? Please calm down,” said the police- man, his arm around her waist, trying to sound as sympathetic as possible.

“Siu-Man—” Nga-Yee turned back to look at the broken  figure on the ground, but now two other officers were covering her with a dark green tarp. “What are you doing? Stop  that! Stop that now!”

“Miss! Miss!”

“Don’t cover her, she needs to breathe! Her heart is still beat- ing!” Nga-Yee leaned forward, her energy suddenly gone. The policeman was no longer holding her back, but propping her up. “Save her! You have to save her! I’m begging you . . . She’s my sister, my only sister . . .”

And so, on this ordinary Tuesday evening, on the empty ground in front of Wun Wah House, Lok Wah Estate, Kwun Tong District, the normally voluble neighbors fell silent. The only sound among these cold apartment buildings was the heartbro- ken weeping of an older sister, her sobs rushing like the wind into each person’s ears, filling them with a sorrow that could never be wiped away.

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.