The Last Restaurant In Paris by Lily Graham – Blog Tour Review.

About The Book

Paris 1944. To save her people, she served the enemy.

In enemy-occupied Paris, as the locals go to bed starving and defeated by the war, music and laughter spills through the door of a little restaurant, crowded with German soldiers. The owner Marianne moves on weary feet between its packed tables, carrying plates of steaming, wholesome food for the enemy officers. Her smile is bright and sparkling, her welcome cordial. Nobody would guess the hatred she hides in her heart.

That night, the restaurant closes its doors for the final time. In the morning, the windows are scratched with the words ‘traitor and murderer’. And Marianne has disappeared without a trace…

Years later, Marianne’s granddaughter Sabine stands under the faded green awning, a heavy brass key in her hand, staring at the restaurant left to her by the grandmother she never met. Sabine has so many questions about herself. Perhaps here she can find answers, but she knows she isn’t welcome. Marianne was hated by the locals and when Sabine discovers they blamed her for the terrible tragedy that haunts the pretty restaurant, she is ready to abandon her dark legacy.

But when she finds a passport in a hidden compartment in the water-stained walls, with a picture of a woman who looks like her grandmother but has a different name, she knows there must be more to Marianne’s story. As she digs into the past, she starts to wonder: was her grandmother a heroine, not a traitor? What happened to her after the tragic night when she fled from her restaurant? And will the answer change her own life forever?

About The Book

With thanks to the publisher for the copy received. I enjoy historical fiction, especially when I need a break from my normal choice of crime fiction. After reading this I’m starting to realise that I need to read it more. This was a novel that I really enjoyed.

Initially it is set in the 1980s when Sabine is handed the keys to her inheritance. She is baffled and then horrified when she realises that the grandmother she hadn’t known had been executed during WW2. When she meets up with Gilbert, who knew her grandmother well and suffered because of her actions she digs deeper and uncovers the truth about what happened. The narrative then switches to Marianne and takes place from the 1920s when she first moved to Provence as a child until the events that took place that led to her death. It was this part of the novel that I liked the most, showing not just the horror of the war but also the love, friendship and determination to get justice.

I have read quite a lot of books that take place during WW2 but very little that shows the hardship suffered by those who aren’t fighting and are just trying to cope the best that they can. The life that many were forced to live during the occupation gave me an understanding of the hatred towards Marianne for her business dealings with the German officers.

Marianne was a character I adored. Her love for her grandmother, husband, child and brother. Her friendship with the nun and her passionate fury for revenge. It was so sad that despite all of that there were others who had to suffer.

I loved everything about this novel and Lily Graham is another author who I’m looking forward to catching up on.

Blood Lines by Angela Marsons – Review.

About The Book

How do you catch a killer who leaves no trace?

A victim killed with a single, precise stab to the heart appears at first glance to be a robbery gone wrong. A caring, upstanding social worker lost to a senseless act of violence. But for Detective Kim Stone, something doesn’t add up.

When a local drug addict is found murdered with an identical wound, Kim knows instinctively that she is dealing with the same killer. But with nothing to link the two victims except the cold, calculated nature of their death, this could be her most difficult case yet.

Desperate to catch the twisted individual, Kim’s focus on the case is threatened when she receives a chilling letter from Dr Alex Thorne, the sociopath who Kim put behind bars. And this time, Alex is determined to hit where it hurts most, bringing Kim face-to-face with the woman responsible for the death of Kim’s little brother – her own mother.

As the body count increases, Kim and her team unravel a web of dark secrets, bringing them closer to the killer. But one of their own could be in mortal danger. Only this time, Kim might not be strong enough to save them…

My Review

The Kim Stone series is one of my favourites, but it is also one ( of many) that I have not kept up with. I am determined to catch up this year and what a cracker to start with. I’m surprised I have any nails left!

There are two threads in the novel. A woman who is found dead in her car, swiftly followed by another death is the case that Kim and her team are trying to solve but the other, far more intimidating story is the threat that Kim faces from her past.

That is Alexandra Thorne, in prison, but still able to manipulate and control just for enjoyment. I don’t think that I have come across a character quite as scary as her. It wasn’t just Kim, there were also inmates and prison officers who suffered due to her actions. I was aching for someone to stand up to her, if only to wipe the smile from  her face when she got what she wanted time and time again.

The author does an excellent job of showing the differing personalities in Kim’s team. You get to see strengths but also their faults. I include Kim, whose main weakness was allowing Alexandra to get to her, but it would take a very strong person who could cope with what she had to face. I also had appreciation for the way mistakes were acknowledged and solved as a team. There was no room for blame.

This is a series that I have enjoyed since it began and I am looking forward to starting my catch up.

Last Seen by Joy Kluver – Blog Tour Review.

About The Book

I can see her, shouting with laughter as she swings as high as she can, her beautiful blonde curls flying out behind her. I can feel her tiny hot hand in mine, and my heart aches. My little girl. If only I’d listened to my gut. Then maybe she’d be safe here with me…

When five-year-old Molly Reynolds is snatched from the park in the small village of Otterfield, Detective Bernadette ‘Bernie’ Noel throws herself into the search, sick with worry for the quiet, sensitive little girl and her distraught mother.

Wasting no time, Bernie finds a small green cardigan under a bush in the park. It still has the smiley face sticker Molly won that week at school. It’s the first in a chain of clues – and Bernie can’t shake the feeling that it was left deliberately, as a message.  

But Bernie encounters a wall of silence. Otterfield is a close-knit community, yet no one in the village seems to care that Molly is missing at all. Why?

And then Bernie makes a chilling discovery: twenty-five years ago, another little girl went missing from the area. Her name was Sophie, and all they ever found of her was her teddy bear, hidden under a bush. Now Bernie knows she’s in a race against time to save Molly’s life.

Bernie’s team work round the clock to find a connection between the two girls, and just when they think they’re making progress a devastating tragedy strikes at the heart of the case. Molly’s family have been hiding a secret, and now their little girl is in greater danger than ever.

Can Bernie outwit the most warped criminal she has ever faced and bring Molly home safe, or will another innocent life be lost? 

My Review

With thanks to the publisher for the copy received. Last Seen is an interesting debut novel which introduces the reader to Bernie and her team. Soon after attending the funeral of her beloved ’Pops’ Bernie has to investigate the disappearance of a young girl, Molly, from a play area. You would expect the local community to help with finding her but there is reluctance from the locals. The reasons why are revealed further into the novel but this is a close knit community and like many they don’t like questions, they are loyal and there are a lot of memories. I could understand how frustrating this was for Bernie and her team.

Bernie is new to the area, she relocated from the MET Police for reasons unspecified but the disappearance of Molly is putting her in the spotlight. Something which she is trying to avoid. The loss of Pops, not really knowing the local area and receiving  what could be a threatening card adds to her worry. Not to mention having to work with a new colleague who she can’t make her mind up about. 

One of the strengths of this novel is how long it seemed to take for the team to get their answers. It showed that not every case is fast moving and even though only a few days had gone they all felt the exhaustion and frustration and were fully aware that they needed to get a breakthrough. 

Little is revealed about most of them, including Bernie. Even though I liked her a lot, I felt I only knew her as a police officer. I wanted to know more about her life outside of the job. I expect that more will be revealed further into the series as she settles into her new life. I know that many series are similar and this isn’t a criticism but she seemed to be somebody I would like to know in real life. I am looking forward to learning more about all of them in book two.

Buried Deep by Susan Wilkins – Blog Tour Review.

About The Book

Megan has to climb round and step across the body to get a proper view. What’s left is like a chalk white mask in the rough shape of a face. The innocence is still there, and a hint of the cheekiness. But perhaps she is imagining that.

Detective Megan Thomas moved to Devon for a fresh start, after years spent undercover. She’s staying with her sister and swimming in the sea daily, battling the tides and letting the waves wash her past away. But she can’t outrun everything.

On her first day back, she’s called to a murder. The body lies deep in an underground bunker, and when Megan forces herself to look, it triggers a panic attack. As her heart races and her breathing stalls, she realises she’s not sure if she can go back to life in a regular crime unit. Her memories are too powerful to be buried – maybe too powerful to let her do her job.

But when another body is found on the stretch of beach where she swims every day, Megan remembers why she joined the force, and what she’s fighting for. The victim came to the police for help, and Megan knows they failed her. She won’t rest until she gets answers. But how can she find justice for others, when she’s no longer sure of herself?

My Review

With thanks to the publisher for the copy received. It’s quite a while since I’ve read a book by an author I have read before and it was a pleasure to read book one in this new series by Susan Wilkins. Her previous series featuring Kaz Phillips was one that I enjoyed so had high expectations for this. I wasn’t disappointed, if anything it is better.

I liked Megan immediately, her interactions with her co- workers Vish and Brittany felt realistic. Her acceptance that with being older she was a little ‘out of the loop’ but she was good with them. Encouraging, supportive and a refusal to let them take the flack for her mistakes.

The reader is aware that she faced a life changing end to her previous role as an undercover officer. They are aware that she was lucky to survive, even though she had been left with some mental scarring. But that is all, nothing else is revealed apart from a fear of rats. I liked this, I expect that more will be revealed later in the series, as she gets to know her team more. 

I felt that whilst the two cases being investigated at the beginning it’s only in the second half of the book that they have more focus. They are there, but you see more about how the various team members interact with each other. You also see Megan’s sessions with her councillor, and the importance of her family. 

A very character driven novel, with some that I loved to hate. I’m looking forward to reading more.

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.