Cold Clay by Juneau Black – Blog Tour Review.

About The Book

A MURDER TO SOLVE. A REPORTER ON THE CASE.
CRIMES OF THE PAST WON’T STAY BURIED . . .

In the woodland community of Shady Hollow, you’ll discover a secret. Moose and mice, owls and bears live side by side in civilised harmony. The town has a coffee shop and a bookshop, a haberdasher and a bank. Life is peaceful, until a skeleton is found buried deep under an apple tree. Danger has returned to Shady Hollow.

Ace reporter Vera Vixen only wants a good news story as harvest time arrives with the promise of glorious feasts ahead. But the discovery of the body casts a darker shadow. Soon enough, the coffeeshop’s owner is being dragged down to the police station. Vera can’t believe gentle Joe the moose is a killer. To get to the bottom of the matter, she will have to dig into the secrets her neighbours would rather leave buried forever . . .

My Review

With thanks to the publisher for the copy received. Cold Clay is the second in the series to feature Vera the Vixen, journalist/ detective in the Shady Hollow series. There are no spoilers in the novel but I do recommend reading them in order. If the only reason is because they are very light- hearted for a crime novel, are easy to read and they are pure escapism.

If you have read book one you will have met Joe the moose who owns the coffee shop. You would know that his wife, Julia, left him years earlier. But this novel shows a different explanation for her disappearance and Vera is determined to prove that he wasn’t involved. Even if it causes an argument with Orville who she has become very close to.

I did see who was responsible for Julia’s disappearance but I don’t think it was meant to be a surprise. What I couldn’t see was who and how, and I enjoyed reading how Vera discovered the answers. She couldn’t see though, that others were also suspicious.

I don’t really think of these characters as creatures, probably because you wouldn’t expect foxes, bears, ravens etc to eat cake and drink coffee. Many feature from the earlier book, some of them I saw in a different way. Esme, in particular, was much nicer and I feel that Vera’s friendship with her could grow. I love her relationship with Orville, the detective and the descriptions of both her frustration and love for her job.

Another very entertaining read and I’m looking forward to book three. 

You Never Said Goodbye by Luca Veste – Blog Tour Review.

About The Book

A DEVOTED MOTHER
Sam Cooper has a happy life: a good job, a blossoming relationship. Yet, there’s something he can never forget – the image seared into his mind of his mother, Laurie, dying when he was a child. His father allowed his grief to tear them apart and Sam hasn’t seen him in years.

A LOVING WIFE
Until an unexpected call from Firwood hospital, asking Sam to come home, puts in motion a chain of devastating events. On his deathbed, Sam’s father makes a shocking confession.

A LIAR?
Who was Laurie Cooper? It’s clear that everything Sam thought he knew about his mother was wrong. And now he’s determined to find out exactly what she did and why – whatever the cost. 

What happens if you discover you’ve been lied to by your own family for twenty-five years?

Sam Cooper is about to find out.

My Review

With thanks to the publisher for the copy received, I have read a couple of Luca Veste’s Merseyside based books before and really enjoyed them. This new book, a standalone mainly set in America, was one that appealed as soon as I’d heard about it. 

Sam is living alone in London and when he is on a date with a woman he likes a lot he receives a call from the hospital telling him to get there as soon as he can. His father was extremely poorly. He arrives in time but wasn’t  prepared for what he discovered or how much danger he was now in.

He was a character I liked immediately and who I had a lot of sympathy for. He had a very difficult relationship with his estranged father since the loss of his mother and younger brother. But he didn’t show self pity, instead he focused on trying to find answers and trying to stay alive. He also managed to maintain his sense of humour and a degree of cynicism, especially with regard to the size of his meal portions in America and the amount of adverts on TV. The fear that he felt throughout, not knowing why people wanted to kill him felt real, but the most convincing was his fear of the rivers, showing that his experience had left long lasting scars. 

It is one of those novels where the reader knows more than the characters, I knew why Sam’s mother was forced to flee, the lengths that her stalker would go to but I didn’t know who could be trusted and whether his mother was dead or alive. I also could see the reasons why some of the characters did what they did when the eventual truth was revealed. Strangely I also felt a little sympathy for a few of them. 

This is a book full of twists, danger and regret. I loved it

Shady Hollow by Juneau Black – Blog Tour Review.

About The Book

A MURDER TO SOLVE. A REPORTER ON THE CASE.
CAN YOU SPOT THE SECRETS IN SHADY HOLLOW?

In the woodland community of Shady Hollow, you’ll discover a secret. Moose and mice, owls and bears live side by side in civilized harmony. Shady Hollow has a coffee shop and a bookshop, a haberdasher and a bank. All is well . . . until the town’s querulous toad shows up dead. It’s something this village haven’t seen before: a murder.

Vera Vixen is new in town. She has a nose for news and catches the scent of a story, one that leads her to dark places. As she stirs up the still waters, the fox exposes more than one mystery, and the folks in Shady Hollow learn that some of their neighbours are lying, while others are downright dangerous. It will take all of Vera’s cunning and quickness to come out alive.

Entertaining and perceptive, Shady Hollow is fast-paced and witty, with characters that jump off the page and a hugely satisfying mystery to solve. Once you’ve met the residents of Shady Hollow, you won’t easily forget them.

My Review

With thanks to the publisher for the copy received. I have always enjoyed crime fiction and I mostly read a police procedural or a psychological thriller. But every now and again I like to read something a little lighter and Shady Hollow was perfect for a bit of escapism but one where I could still try to solve the crime. 

There is no doubt, this novel is different to many others. No humans feature, all of the characters are from the animal kingdom and all of their personalities seemed to suit the type of creature they were. The main character was Vera, the fox who was wily, sharp and clever. She had plenty of friends, a raven ( bookshop owner), a wise owl ( tutor) and a hummingbird (town gossip) were just a few of them. All of them felt suited to their roles, based on the type of creature they were. 

It is only a short novel, but I found it fun to read. I enjoyed meeting all the characters, the way they interacted with each other and their habits. Joe and his coffee shop was one of my favourite scenes throughout, I was tempted to look up recipes for his scones and cakes but I’ve managed to resist. So far! 

I feel that this book could be read by any age group, it is definitely a more easy going storyline. Whilst there are crimes committed most of the focus is on character development and it is an imaginative way of describing animals living as humans do.

The Undiscovered Deaths of Grace McGill by C. S. Robertson – Blog Tour Review.

About The Book

DEATH IS NOT THE END.  FOR GRACE McGILL IT IS ONLY THE BEGINNING.

When people die alone and undiscovered, it’s her job to clean up what’s left behind – whether it’s clutter, bodily remains or dark secrets.

When an old man lies undetected in his flat for months, it seems an unremarkable life and an unnoticed death. But Grace knows that everyone has a story and that all deaths mean something more.

My Review

With thanks to the publisher for the copy received. Most people will at sometime in their career will be unhappy with their working life. But if they were to compare their job to Grace’s they might think about things differently. Her job was definitely one that I couldn’t do and I felt a huge relief that I couldn’t smell as I read. Her job was to clean the homes of those who had died alone and were undiscovered for a long time. She found comfort in her work, knowing that she made it easier for any loved ones but also felt anger, frustration and sadness that they had died alone. But she also became obsessive, not willing to let things go, to the extent that despite her promise to George the cat that she wouldn’t take the job home it was all she thought about. Her job was everything to her and in her determination to find answers about a missing teenage girl decades ago she placed herself in danger.

Grace has a lot in common with the people whose homes she cleans. She is one of the loneliest characters I’ve come across in fiction. A difficult relationship with her abusive father, at first her only real friend is her cat who she seemed to regard as human in many ways. Later in the novel she does make a friend, but this is a difficult relationship. The reasons for this are very clear, to the reader by the time she meets him, but her friend has no idea what Grace is actually like. 

Grace was a character who affected me in many ways. She made me laugh but also left me feeling sad at her loneliness and the way she only had confidence in company when using an alias to help her find the truth. She was also a character who was impossible to dislike, even in the second half of the novel. 

This is definitely one of the strangest novels that I have read and parts of it affected me deeply. It is difficult to say why, the less you know about the storyline the more you appreciate it. But, I can say that I think it will make many people be there for others more. 

The Couple At The Table by Sophie Hannah – Blog Tour Review.

About The Book

SIX COUPLES. ONE LUXURY RESORT. AND THE PERFECT MURDER . . .

You’re on your honeymoon at an exclusive couples-only resort. 

You receive a note warning you to ‘Beware of the couple at the table nearest to yours’. At dinner that night, five other couples are present, and none of their tables is any nearer or further away than any of the others. It’s as if someone has set the scene in order to make the warning note meaningless – but why would anyone do that?

You have no idea. 

You also don’t know that you’re about to be murdered, or that once you’re dead, all the evidence will suggest that no one there that night could possibly have committed the crime.

So who might be trying to warn you? And who might be about to commit the perfect murder?

My Review

With thanks to the publisher for the copy received. I have always enjoyed Sophie Hannah’s books, whether it is her standalones, Poirot or my favourite which features Charlie Zailer and Simon Waterhouse. 

You would struggle to find two detectives who have so little in common with  both the way they approached their jobs and their personalities. Charlie is more open, willing to listen without judgement and be more aware of what she is being told and what could be hidden. Simon is more obsessed with the detail, redoing maps, going over statements and a determination to not give up without getting a result. If I had to work with either of them I would prefer Charlie. She could sometimes come across as impatient but must have either a lot of patience or could see past Simon’s ways to stay married to him. 

Even though it is told from mainly Charlie or Simon’s point of view the reader also sees how the other guests on the night of the murder were coping. Mainly Lucy, who had more reason than the others to wish Jane harm but nearly all of them featured. All of them had suffered in one way or another, Jane didn’t have many redeeming qualities. 

Sometimes I can see who was guilty whilst reading a novel, this was one where I had no idea at all. I suspected everybody and my opinion changed constantly. I couldn’t work out how all could give each other an alibi but only one of them could have been the murderer. And, strangely, when the murderer was revealed I had more sympathy for them instead of the victim.

It’s brilliantly done with plenty of red herrings, a fantastic novel that has made me determined to catch up on the series.