You Don’t Know Me by Sara Foster – Blog Tour Review.

About The Book

Lizzie Burdett was eighteen when she vanished. Noah Carruso has never forgotten her: she was his first crush; his unrequited love. She was also his brother’s girlfriend.

Tom Carruso hasn’t been home in over a decade. He left soon after Lizzie disappeared, under a darkening cloud of suspicion. Now he’s coming home for the inquest into Lizzie’s death, intent on telling his side of the story for the first time.

As the inquest looms, Noah meets Alice Pryce while on holiday in Thailand. They fall in love fast and hard, but Noah can’t bear to tell Alice his deepest fears. And Alice is equally stricken, for she carries a terrible secret of her own.

He’s guarding a dark secret, but so is she.

My Review

With thanks to the publisher for the copy received. It is a while since I read a book that I would describe as ‘romantic suspense’ and I found it quite refreshing. Noah and Alice probably expected their holiday romance to fizzle out when Noah had to return to Sydney but with Alice being forced to return home shortly after and both needing each other for moral support their relationship grew stronger.

Both had suffered life changing events when they were younger and when what happened was revealed I enjoyed the novel a lot more. Especially with Noah, I had no idea what had happened to Lizzie and was completely wrong in my suspicions. I also liked the description of his relationship with his older brother Tom and the way he put up with his parent’s demands with the way he lived his life. Especially when it concerned the family business. He obviously had a lot of patience.

Alice’s story was less of a surprise but I loved her spirit and strength. She managed to be a support to her father, Noah and was able to put what happened to her behind her. Like many she was a stronger person than she imagined herself to be.

Reading the last third of this book I didn’t want to put it down, I had a lot of sympathy for Noah, having to stand up in court, stand up to his bullying brother and be honest with his parents. A perfect novel to read during lockdown.

Safe by S. K Barnett – Blog Tour Review.

About The Book

YOUR CHILD IS MISSING.

She was only six years old when she disappeared. Posters went up, the police investigated.

But no one could find her.

Now, twelve years later, she’s home.

And knocking at your door.

You’re so happy to see her. But soon you start to wonder why she can’t answer your questions.

Where has she been? How did she find her way home?

And who is she?

My Review

With thanks to the publisher for the copy received. You often see reports on the news of kidnap victims found and reunited with their families years later. I always wonder how it works out, how they get used to being a family again and if it means a happy ending for all concerned. I sincerely hope that none of those families experience anything like the family in this book did.

Mainly told by the viewpoint of Jenny, but also Ben, her brother and Jake, her father you could see how Jenny’s reappearance affected them all. I thought  I knew which way the storyline would go but it didn’t take me long to discover that there was a lot to this novel, that would hint at something a lot more sinister. And nothing that occurred at the beginning of the book would prepare me for what was revealed the further I read. 

Jenny was a character who I liked more as I got to know her. Independent, inquisitive, determined and loyal. I appreciated her friendship with Tabs, whose family life couldn’t have been more different. This friendship added some relief to the rest of the storyline which was at times a little unsettling.

I don’t know if I have read other books by this author with him writing under a pseudonym, but I would like to in the future. 

Love Until It Hurts by Fiona Blakemore – Review.

About The Book

Can love hurt more than it can heal?
The answer lies in the hospital mortuary.
Dr. Ruth Cooper has a new job. A fresh start.
Yet something is missing.
When her confidence is rocked by two serious complaints, widower Dominic Peterson provides a sympathetic ear.
But, as their relationship develops, Dominic’s four-year-old daughter Bella becomes increasingly unwell.
Can Ruth save Bella, and salvage her reputation?
Or will her past come back to haunt her?

A twisty tale of domestic noir. A psychological thriller that will keep you in suspense until the end.

My Review

With thanks to the author for the copy received. Love Until It Hurts is a medical thriller, a type of book that I always enjoy. Sometimes I don’t understand all the terminology used in this type of fiction and this book was no exception. However, anything I needed to know desperately was easily found via google. And instead of overpowering the storyline it added to it. I found it worked perfectly, a young doctor desperate to do her best but was under pressure and did make mistakes.

The way the medical profession was described was one of the parts of this book that worked so well. I have never really given a thought to what goes on behind the scenes in a surgery. I’m always aware of how much pressure they work under, especially now, but had never thought about how the doctors have to fit it all in. And how easily it can all go wrong. 

But the main thread, the way Ruth’s private life fell apart after a brief period of happiness was the part that I enjoyed the most. With the three way narrative shared between Ruth, Dominic and Bella I could see the manipulation. Bella’s story, in particular, and the way she revealed more about her life was chilling to read.

Love Until It Hurts is an original and extremely clever novel that I have no hesitation in recommending. 

The 16th Theakston Old Peculier Crime Novel of the Year Shortlist.

The shortlist for the 16th Theakston Old Peculier Crime Novel of the Year has been announced, taking the reader on an international crime spree from New York to Calcutta, London to Lagos via Glasgow and the Australian outback. 

Chosen by a public vote and the prize Academy, the titles in contention for this most prestigious of prize’s – which feature five Theakston award alumni and one debut novelist – showcase exceptional variety and originality, including spy espionage, historical crime, gallows humour, outback noir and serial killing siblings.

The news coincides with updated lockdown reading research from Nielsen Book showing that the genre is continuing to soar in popularity, a trend led by younger readers and men. Alongside an increase in the overall number of crime and thriller novels in the bestseller charts, even more people are turning to the genre in lockdown, particularly younger readers (18-44). Of the three quarters saying that their fiction interests have changed, 26% say that crime and thriller has become their genre of choice.

Marking a meteoric rise since being selected by Val McDermid as a spotlight author in the 2019 Festival’s highly respected ‘New Blood’ panel,Oyinkan Braithwaite remains in pursuit of the coveted trophy with the Booker nominated My Sister, the Serial KillerBased in Nigeria, Braithwaite is the only debut author remaining, and one of the youngest ever to be shortlisted. Inspired by the black widow spider, Braithwaite turns the crime genre on its head with a darkly comic exploration of sibling rivalry, exploring society’s feelings towards beauty and perfection. 

The remaining five authors on the shortlist are all previous contenders hoping 2020 is their year to claim the trophy. The legendary Mick Herron, likened to John Le Carré, has picked up a fifth nomination with Joe Country, the latest in his espionage masterclass Slough House. A former legal editor, Herron’s commute from Oxford to London led to the creation of this much-lauded series, which is currently being adapted for television with Gary Oldman taking on the iconic role of Jackson Lamb.

Scottish-Bengali author Abir Mukherjee is vying for the title with Smoke & Ashes, described by The Times as one of the best crime novels since 1945. Accountant turned bestseller, Mukherjee was shortlisted in 2018 for the first book in the Wyndham & Banerjee series set in Raj-era India, The Rising ManSmoke & Ashes – the third  instalment – is set in 1921 in Calcutta, where Mukherjee’s parents grew up and where he spent six weeks each year during his childhood.

Authors making it through to the shortlist for the first time include Glasgow’s Helen Fitzgerald for Worst Case Scenario, which marks her first appearance on the Theakston list since The Cry, adapted into a major BBC drama starting Jenna Colman, was longlisted in 2013. Packed with gallows humour, Worst Case Scenario takes inspiration from Fitzgerald’s time as a criminal justice social worker in Glasgow’s Barlinnie Prison, alongside her experiences with depression and going through the menopause.

Despite receiving international recognition, before Belfast’s Adrian McKinty started writing The Chain – for which he picks up his second Theakston nod – he had been evicted from his home and was working as an Uber driver to make ends meet. Persuaded to give writing one last go, McKinty started on what would become the terrifying thriller that sees parents forced to kidnap children to save their own, and for which Paramount Pictures has acquired the screen rights in a seven-figure film deal.

The final title on the shortlist is The Lost Man by former journalist Jane Harper, who was previously longlisted for her debut The Dry in 2018, for which the film adaption starring Eric Bana is due to be released this year. Inspired by the beautifully brutal Australian environment, The Lost Man explores how people live – and die – in the unforgiving outback and is a moving – particularly topical – study in the psychological and physical impact of isolation.

The full shortlist for the Theakston Old Peculier Crime Novel of the Year 2020 is:

–                 My Sister the Serial Killer by Oyinkan Braithwaite (Atlantic Books)

–                 Worst Case Scenario by Helen Fitzgerald (Orenda Books)

–                 The Lost Man by Jane Harper (Little, Brown Book Group, Little, Brown)

–                 Joe Country by Mick Herron (John Murray Press)

–                 The Chain by Adrian McKinty (Orion Publishing Group, Orion Fiction)

–                 Smoke and Ashes by Abir Mukherjee (VINTAGE, Harvill Secker)

Executive director of T&R Theakston, Simon Theakston, said: “Seeing the huge variety and originality within this shortlist, it comes as no surprise to hear that crime fiction is dominating our lockdown reading habits. Offering both escapism and resolution, these exceptional titles transport readers around the world and I can’t wait to see where we settle on 23 July when one of these extraordinary authors takes home the 2020 Theakston Old Peculier cask.”

The award is run by Harrogate International Festivals and supported by T&R Theakston Ltd, WHSmith and the Express, and is open to full length crime novels published in paperback from 1 May 2018 to 30 April 2019 by UK and Irish authors.

The shortlist was selected by an academy of crime writing authors, agents, editors, reviewers, members of the Theakston Old Peculier Crime Writing Festival Programming Committee, representatives from T&R Theakston Ltd, the Express, and WHSmith, alongside a public vote. 

The shortlist will be promoted in a dedicated online campaign from WHSmith, digital promotional materials will be made available for independent bookstores, and the Theakston Old Peculier Crime Writing Festival’s online community – You’re Booked – features exclusive interviews and interactive content. This forms part of the Harrogate International Festival virtual season of events, HIF at Home, which presents a raft of live music, specially commissioned performances, literary events and interviews to bring a free festival experience to your own digital doorstep.

The public vote for the winner is now open on  www.harrogatetheakstoncrimeaward.com, with the champion set to be revealed in a virtual awards ceremony on Thursday 23 July marking what would have been the opening evening of the Theakston Old Peculier Crime Writing Festival. The legendary gathering – which formed part of Harrogate International Festival Summer Season – was cancelled, with much sadness, due to the Coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic. The winner will receive £3,000 and an engraved oak beer cask, hand-carved by one of Britain’s last coopers from Theakstons Brewery.

Dead Air by Michael Bradley – Review.

About The Book

Three can keep a secret, but only if two are dead. 

No one knows that better than Kaitlyn Ashe, who has been running from a childhood secret her whole life. Until now. Crowned the top-rated radio DJ in Philadelphia, she is finally ready to settle down with her fiancé and new friends who know nothing about her past. When a sudden flood of anonymous letters threatens her seemingly charmed life, she realizes that someone out there knows. But who? As the threatening letters escalate, Kaitlyn’s life spirals toward a reunion in the one place she’d hoped to never visit again: The Shallows. Isn’t her secret buried with the dead?

From the Philadelphia skyline to the rural suburbs of New Jersey, Dead Air weaves a suspenseful tale of past misdeeds and present malice as Kaitlyn plays a deadly game of cat and mouse with a mysterious killer who will stop at nothing to get revenge.

My Review

With thanks to the publisher for the copy received. Dead Air was a book that I was looking forward to reading, it contained everything I like in crime fiction. A character who has rebuilt their own life but then faces a threatening reminder from the past, paranoia and a investigating officer who has regrets over his personal life. And I like Reo Speedwagon. Which won’t mean much unless you read this book.

There are three main characters in the novel, Kaitlyn, her stalker whose identity I worked out fairly early on and Rodney, the police officer who gets too involved because of Kaitlyn’s similarity to his daughter. 

Despite knowing who was responsible I thoroughly enjoyed this novel. Especially the malice displayed by the stalker. It was unnerving to see what they were capable of, and their justification for it.

Whilst enjoying reading about Kaitlyn, what she was hiding from and her career I preferred to read about Rodney. I liked his various quotes, his bafflement and frustration about the case and his regret over his damaged relationship with his daughter.

I enjoyed this novel and would definitely read more by this author.