The Reacher Guy by Heather Martin -Blog Tour Review.

About The Book

Jack Reacher is only the second of Jim Grant’s great fictional characters: the first is Lee Child himself. Heather Martin’s biography tells the story of all three.

Lee Child is the enigmatic powerhouse behind the bestselling Jack Reacher novels. With millions of devoted fans across the globe, and over a hundred million copies of his books sold in more than forty languages, he is that rarity, a writer who is lauded by critics and revered by readers. And yet curiously little has been written about the man himself.

The Reacher Guy is a compelling and authoritative portrait of the artist as a young man, refracted through the life of his fictional avatar, Jack Reacher. Through parallels drawn between Child and his literary creation, it tells the story of how a boy from Birmingham with a ferocious appetite for reading grew up to become a high-flying TV executive, before coming full circle and establishing himself as the strongest brand in publishing.

Heather Martin explores Child’s lifelong fascination with America, and shows how the Reacher novels fed and fuelled this obsession, shedding light on the opaque process of publishing a novel along the way. Drawing on her conversations and correspondence with Child over a number of years, as well as interviews with his friends, teachers and colleagues, she forensically pieces together his life, traversing back through the generations to Northern Ireland and County Durham, and following the trajectory of his extraordinary career via New York and Hollywood until the climactic moment when, in 2020, having written a continuous series of twenty-four books, he finally breaks free of his fictional creation

My Review

With thanks to the publisher for the copy received. I have two confessions to make. Firstly, I don’t tend to read non-fiction and this is the first autobiography I have read. Secondly, I have never read a book by Lee Child. But after seeing him appear at numerous festivals and listening to my husband’s enthuse about his novels I felt curious. I’m happy to say that this is definitely a type of book I would read again and I will also make a determined effort to start reading the Reacher books.

Most of this 500 page book concerns Jim (or Lee) before he became a hugely successful novelist. It is one that fascinated me, and I felt an array of conflicting emotions. There was the letter that is shown early on in the novel that he wrote for an online project ‘Letter to an Unknown Soldier’ on the 100th anniversary for the declaration of war that reduced me to tears. It wasn’t the only occasion when reading this part of the book that I thought that Jim felt guilty to be from a generation that didn’t have to go to war. There were also occasions that made me smile. His determination to stand up to bullies, both in school and the workplace as well as his thoughts regarding many politicians in the UK and USA. And I definitely agreed with him with on the ‘dumbing down’ of the TV station he worked for. 24 hour TV was one of the worst decisions Granada TV ever made.

Jim is obviously an extremely loyal, honest and thoughtful man. He admits throughout feeling detached from his parents but remains close to some family and friends. The loyalty he showed towards his agent and publisher where many would move on at the first opportunity for more fame. And his loyalty towards his many readers. He must have felt pain and bafflement when he received backlash later in the series. He came across as a loner, as someone who has never read the books I thought that this was his only similarity with Reacher.

This isn’t a linear biography, Jim could be a schoolboy and an author years later in the same chapter but once I got used to it I thought it worked well. It’s a remarkable achievement showing the publishing process, the work that goes into promoting an author and his books but more importantly it shows the dedication in publishing a novel yearly  from all involved and the impact that had on Jim. I’m glad that he felt happy enough to retire without regrets.

Cry Baby by Mark Billingham – Review.

About The Book

It’s 1996. Detective Sergeant Tom Thorne is a haunted man. Haunted by the moment he ignored his instinct about a suspect, by the horrific crime that followed and by the memories that come day and night, in sunshine and shadow.

So when seven-year-old Kieron Coyne goes missing while playing in the woods with his best friend, Thorne vows he will not make the same mistake again. Cannot.

The solitary witness. The strange neighbour. The friendly teacher. All are in Thorne’s sights. 

This case will be the making of him . . . or the breaking.

The gripping prequel to Mark Billingham’s acclaimed debut, Sleepyhead, Cry Baby is the shocking first case for one of British crime fiction’s most iconic detectives.

My Review

With thanks to the to the publisher for the copy received via Pigeonhole. This year marks the twentieth anniversary of Mark Billingham’s excellent Thorne series. It is one of a few that I have fallen behind on over the years but after reading Cry Baby, a prequel, that shows Thorne as a DC it was the nudge in the ribs I needed to make a determined effort to catch up. 

The thing about prequels is that it is a marvellous way of finding new readers. Obviously there are no spoilers, so you don’t have the worry about reading out of sequence. And for the readers who are familiar with the series you get to see friendships develop. Happily, for me, the friendship here was between Thorne and Hendricks. Hendricks has always been my favourite character in the books I have read and I loved that this was a friendship that didn’t start in the best way. 

The case itself was full of intrigue. I have to admit I got so hooked on one part of the investigation I forgot about an other. So when the culprit was revealed I was a little flummoxed. But not for long, and this just added to the more sinister side to the storyline.

The last chapter was one that will stay with me for a while. What happens there is something I’ve never really thought about before and it shows that sometimes a happy outcome is never guaranteed. 

The Marsh King’s Daughter by Karen Dionne.


About the Book

‘I was born two years into my mother’s captivity. She was three weeks shy of seventeen. If I had known then what I do now, things would have been a lot different. I would have been a lot more understanding of my mother. I wouldn’t have adored my father.’
When the notorious child abductor known as the Marsh King escapes from a maximum security prison, Helena immediately suspects that she and her two young daughters are in danger.
No one, not even her husband, knows the truth about Helena’s past: they don’t know that she was born into captivity, that she had no contact with the outside world before the age of twelve – or that her father raised her to be a killer.
And they don’t know that the Marsh King can survive and hunt in the wilderness better than anyone… except, perhaps his own daughter.

My Review

I always liked fairy tales when I was a child but I don’t remember reading The Marsh King’s Daughter by Hans Christian Andersen. The fairy tale appears at times at the start of some chapters in the novel. I thought this book was amazing. It was one that I had been intrigued by after seeing a lot of posts about on social media but I hadn’t felt the urge to pick it up immediately. How I wish I had read it sooner!
Helena had a different childhood to most. The daughter of a Native American tracker who had abducted her mother when she was a teenager and the three of them had lived together since her birth. There was no contact with anybody else, no phones, TV, magazines or anything that a normal family takes for granted. The events from her childhood and how she escaped from her father’s grasp is revealed throughout the novel. The way her childhood was spent explains the way she is in her adult life and how she views some of everyday life differently.
I struggled to understand how devoted she was to a father who was a cruel man. One who would often punish both mother and child physically and mentally if they disappointed him. Even though I think he loved his daughter it was hard to see anything in him that was likeable.
But despite her childhood I admired the way she moved on to have a family of her own and a successful business that she used the knowledge she gained as a child to create. The fear that she felt when she learned that her father had escaped from prison became a determination to capture him when she had ensured her own family’s safety.
I had been a little dubious reading the hunting scenes but apart from a small section there wasn’t too much graphic detail. Also, the hunting was done for survival not for the thrill of killing an animal. I thought the parts of the novel that described living in and understanding the wilderness was fascinating and if I was brave enough I would love to try it.
With thanks to the publisher for the copy received.
You can pre-order the novel at Amazon or Waterstones


Burned and Broken by Mark Hardie.


About the Book

A vulnerable young woman, fresh out of the care system, is trying to discover the truth behind the sudden death of her best friend.
The charred body of a policeman – currently the subject of an internal investigation – is found in the burnt-out-shell of his car on the Southend seafront.
To DS Frank Pearson and DC Catherine Russell of the Essex Police Major Investigation Team, the two events seem unconnected. But as they dig deeper into their colleague’s murder, dark secrets begin to emerge.
Can Pearson and Russell solve both cases, before more lives are destroyed?

My Review

A police officer is found dead in a burnt-out car. He is being investigated after an accusation of violence and suspected expenses fiddling. His former partner, Cat Russell is questioned throughout about her knowledge and possible involvement. Pearson is the older cop. His marriage is in tatters and his health is questionable. Together they are trying to get answers about Carragher’s death and whether he was a dirty cop. Both officers had their problems. Russell had no family support and struggled at times with attitude of fellow officers who resented her having a university degree. Pearson is concerned about his ex-wife but more so about his health problem.
Donna has recently been released from the care system that didn’t give much in the way of care. She is grieving over a recently deceased friend who she ‘sees’ in visits along with other people who have died who she has had contact with.
I liked this debut novel, I loved the way that the author set out his scenes. It’s not something I have come across before and I thought it worked well. It was like reading a TV script. I liked the partnership of Pearson and Russell, and the relationship that they had with their superior officer Roberts. Much of the novel focuses on Donna and her friend Malc and the reader finds out most of what happened to Carragher before the police do. Again, I thought this was done well, along with a twist at the end.
I am pleased that there will be another book published soon, this could be another series to get interested in.
With thanks to Clara Diaz at Little and Brown for the copy received.


Painkiller by N. J. Fountain


About the Book

I cannot go on like this. I feel such a burden to you. You are young and can start again. You deserve that chance. By the time you read this I will be dead. Do not grieve for me, for I am now without pain.

Yours truly for ever,
Monica suffers from chronic neuropathic pain. Every second of her life is spent in agony, and she is coping with it the best she can. However, there are whole years of her life which are a blur to her.
But when she finds a suicide note, written in her handwriting, she begins to question everything. She has no memory of writing it – so who did? And if someone tried to kill her once, what’s to say they won’t try again . . .

My Review

The blurb on the cover states that this book is likened to Before I Go To Sleep and for once it is accurate. Monica, the main character is a very unreliable narrator. She is in constant pain and takes a cocktail of drugs to try and ease it. The side effects from the drugs cause memory problems, mood swings, depression and hallucinations. All these make it difficult to work out if she is believable. By her own admission, she wasn’t a very nice person before the accident, she could be cruel to her husband and even after she was critical about his appearance and career. But he seemed to accept it and at times they did seem close. I liked the conversations she had with him when each encouraged the other to hang up first.
Her husband, a friend and a detective also tell their version of events. These make you doubt more about what is happening. All views differed and I had no idea who could be believed.
I found it a quick and easy read, despite reading about Monica’s constant pain which was a little draining at times. I wouldn’t have liked her before her accident but I found her to be determined person who was desperate to beat the pain. Each chapter was short and intriguing enough to read another. I had no idea which way was going to go and even though the culprit wasn’t a surprise the ending was a bit of a shock.
With thanks to the publisher for the copy received.