A Death in the Family by Michael Stanley – Blog Tour Review

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About the Book

‘There’s no easy way to say this, Kubu. Your father’s dead. I’m afraid he’s been murdered.’

Faced with the violent death of his own father, even Assistant Superintendent David ‘Kubu’ Bengu, Botswana CID’s keenest mind, is baffled. Who would kill such a frail old man? The picture becomes even murkier with the apparent suicide of a government official. Are Chinese mine-owners involved? And what role does the US Embassy have to play?
Set amidst the dark beauty of modern Botswana, A Death in the Family is a thrilling insight into a world of riots, corruption and greed, as a complex series of murders presents the opera-loving, wine connoisseur detective with his most challenging case yet. When grief-stricken Kubu defies orders and sets out on the killers’ trail, startling and chilling links emerge, spanning the globe and setting a sequence of shocking events in motion. Will Kubu catch the killers in time … and find justice for his father?

My Review

I had only read one other book in the Detective Kubu series, Deadly Harvest and loved getting to know Kubu, his family and colleagues and enjoyed reading a book set somewhere different, Botswana. Both books could easily be read as stand-alone novels.
Kubu is shocked and heartbroken when he receives a telephone call telling him his father has been murdered. Being family he is forbidden to have any involvement in the case and despite his best efforts none of his friends in the police will tell him anything. He understands the logic behind this but finds it very difficult to accept.
To keep him at a distance he is told to investigate a series of deaths that occurred in a local town after a meeting to decide whether a development into a mine should be allowed to go ahead providing much needed employment. Information comes to light that suggest the cases are linked.
One of the reasons I enjoy this series is the way everything is described. The funeral was one of the most fascinating parts in the book. I felt like I was one of the many mourners, hearing and seeing the mourning and celebrating a life. I could just picture the amount of refreshments needed for a few thousand people. I also liked Kubu’s first experience of cold weather when he is sent to New York, and how different it was to Botswana.
The difference of opinion between the generations also felt believable. How the older, somewhat superstitious view from the elders was winning over the younger generation who were trying to survive without employment and an uncertain future.
A totally different type of crime novel compared to my usual choice of British, American or Nordic but it’s great. Still violent death, still modern day policing but in a different setting where beauty, poverty, culture, superstition and fear all make it seem slightly different.
With thanks to Karen Sullivan for the copy received.

The Principle of Evil by T.M.E. Walsh

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About the Book

A body has been found in a frozen lake, bringing a gruesome act of evil into the light.

One look at the victim is enough for DCI Claire Winters to recognise the work of a warped mind. And when another woman is reported missing, Claire’s worst fears are confirmed: this is a killer who plans to strike again.

As the body count rises, the pressure is on for Claire to find the perpetrator and bring them to justice. But first, she must learn to understand the twisted mind behind the crimes. And that will take her to a darker place than she ever thought possible.

My Review

I haven’t read the first in the series of books to feature Claire Winters, For All Our Sins so didn’t know what to expect. I sometimes struggle reading out of sequence, especially if it’s a new author for me but I could follow this with no problem. There were a few references to a previous case but no spoilers.
The killings started immediately and there were quite a few of them throughout the novel. This book is slightly different; I can’t remember ever reading a novel where the reader gets to know the victim before they were killed. I found it much more personal and at times quite sad.
There were a couple of characters that I initially disliked but they did show a more likeable side to them as the novel progressed. I really liked Claire, she has her problems and not all of them are job related.
I did solve some of the case as I was reading, but got most of it, including the killer wrong. There were a few teasers and I probably fell for every one of them.
I really enjoyed this novel, I’m looking forward to reading its prequel very soon and hopefully the series will continue.
With thanks to the publisher for the copy received.

First Monday Crime- Sophie Hannah

 

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Today it is my pleasure to welcome to my blog Sophie Hannah who has  published two novels featuring Hercule Poirot. First was The Monogram Murders and more recently The Closed Casket. Sophie will be appearing at First Monday Crime on September 5th. The details can be found here

Had Poirot interested you as a character before it came about that you got to recreate him?

I’ve always loved Poirot because he’s a brilliant detective. The way he solves the most complex and challenging mysteries has always seemed like magic to me! Underneath the quirks and foibles, he’s a sensitive, loyal and lovely man. Like a lot of people, I grew up with Agatha Christie and her books have had a profound influence on me and my writing.


Did you have any worries or concerns about taking on such a classic character?

Not as many as you might think, because I knew Poirot so well by the time I was asked to write about him. It’s a bit like writing about a very old friend whom you know inside out. He has always been a huge presence in my life and, via writing about him, I’ve got to know and like him even more. The main thing is making sure that everything I write him into is up to his very high standards – so I had to make certain that the cases I created for him to solve were fiendishly puzzling enough for the great man!


Which other detectives from that era could be recreated and indeed which ones might you be interested in writing?

I’d feel slightly disloyal turning my hand to any other character, even one created by Agatha Christie, while I’m writing Poirot. I feel I have enough on my plate providing cases for Poirot as well as my own detectives, Simon Waterhouse and Charlie Zailer. I don’t think I’d be able to work on more than one series character that I didn’t create at a time.

First Monday Crime- Rod Reynolds

 

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Today it is my pleasure to feature on my blog Rod Reynolds, author of The Dark Inside and more recently Black Night Falling. Rod will be appearing at First Monday Crime on September 5th. for details see here

Rod Reynolds series featuring reporter Charlie Yates continues with the second release, Black Night Falling, available now from Faber. Here I’ve had a chat to Rod asking for some book facts about the novels…

How about we kick off with 3 personality traits that Charlie Yates has, and whether all of these were intended or came out during the writing…

Thanks very much for having me on to chat! Okay, three traits…
1) Dogged. Definitely dogged. Charlie doesn’t know when to quit, and it’s almost as if the more adversity he faces, the more stubborn he gets about seeing things through.
2) Pro-active. He’s not one to let the grass grow under his feet or to sit and wonder – if he wants to know something or speak to someone, he’ll go and do just that…
3) Fearful. Charlie thinks he’s a coward and he has had moments of cowardice in his past – but he doesn’t see that he’s also brave when it matters most or when the danger is to someone else. Nonetheless, he’s not a fighter, so he does have a tendency to shrink from physical confrontations – and then hate himself for it.
All of these were planned, to some extent, before I started writing. The first two are pretty necessary traits in a crime protagonist, both to keep the plot moving and to endear him to readers (particularly in light of the third one!) The third was something of a challenge I wanted to set myself, and also a way of bringing a new quirk to the ‘flawed hero’ character. I’m fascinated by the idea of why we do things inspite of ourselves and our better judgement, and I wanted to explore that with Charlie through the trait of a man who is actually quite courageous, but flawed enough to have displayed cowardice at times too, and be ashamed of it – something I think everyone can relate to.

The Dark Inside was based loosely on real events. Tell us what/where/when.

In February 1946, in the small town of Texarkana on the Texas/Arkansas border, a young couple were attacked while parked on a lovers’ lane after a date. A hooded man stepped from the darkness of the surrounding woods, shone a flashlight in their eyes, and demanded they step out. He was holding a gun.
The couple were brutally assaulted – the girl sexually and the man pistol whipped so hard he suffered a fractured skull. They both survived, but were the last to see the assailant and live.
Over the next couple of months, the attacker struck again, at regular intervals – at first couples on lovers lanes but, finally, a man and wife in their own home. The town of Texarkana was paralysed with fear, a media circus descended, and law enforcement from all over the area was drafted in. The killings became known as the Texarkana Moonlight Murders, and the attacker was dubbed the Phantom.
Despite a massive manhunt, no one was ever caught.

Two settings – two lots of problems that Charlie faces down. I believe you have visited both locations, tell us 2 things you took away with you about each…
I have indeed.

I’d never been to Texas before, so I’d vaguely pictured Texarkana in the context of the Texas stereotype of deserts and dusty streets. However, that part of eastern Texas is actually very green and covered in pine woods – so that was a quick amend to some of the descriptions (mostly of the surrounding areas)!
The other thing I remember clearly about Texarkana is visiting Spring Lake Park, scene of one of the murders. It’s a lovely little park – my young daughter loved the swings and the ducks in the Lake – and yet was the site of an utterly gruesome murder, so that was quite a contrast.
Hot Springs surprised me with how remote it was. This was one of the mob’s preeminent centres of illegal gambling and prostitution in the 1940s (supposedly the blueprint for Vegas) and vacation spot of choice for Al Capone, Lucky Luciano and many more, and yet it’s in a valley in the Ouachita Mountains – ie. middle of nowhere. It was two planes, an overnight stop and a long drive from Little Rock just to get there from London!
The other thing that struck me was how beautiful the area is. Arkansas isn’t as immediately stunning as somewhere like California, but Hot Springs is surrounded by lakes and waterways and wilderness and it’s really very pretty.

American Noir – the character voices are brilliantly evocative. Can you name a couple of tricks you used to make sure that came out in the writing…

Thank you, I appreciate that.
One is that I listen to a lot of American voices – podcasts are a particularly useful source for picking up both regional accents and colloquialisms. I listen to ones on all sorts of topics, just to pick up little details from different speakers.
The other is to read your dialogue aloud to yourself. I tell this to every aspiring writer, but it’s absolutely true and I live by it. You hear it totally different when spoken aloud and it’s the best way to pick up on parts that don’t ring true or sound clunky or corny.
Finally if you are allowed, tell us 2 things about the next adventure for Charlie…

Without giving too much away, book 3 picks up directly after Black Night Falling, and Charlie’s in big trouble. It’s set in LA and a nascent Las Vegas and involves Hollywood sleaze, missing starlets, gambling, corruption and, of course, Benjamin ‘Bugsy’ Siegel…

Thanks again for the great questions!

Bone by Bone by Sanjida Kay.

Wonderful book that is published today in paperback

Steph's Book Blog

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Laura loves her daughter more than anything in the world.

But nine-year-old daughter Autumn is being bullied. Laura feels helpless.

When Autumn fails to return home from school one day, Laura goes looking for her. She finds a crowd of older children taunting her little girl.

In the heat of the moment, Laura makes a terrible choice. A choice that will have devastating consequences for her and her daughter…

My review:
It is a long time since I read a full book in one day but this novel was impossible to put down for long. I think the reason was due to the subject matter, bullying.
It is told by both mother and daughters point of view. Autumn was trying her hardest to keep things from Laura but was understandably struggling. She didn’t agree with the way that Laura was dealing with it, feeling that it made it worse for…

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