The Lonely Witness by William Boyle – Blog Tour Review.

Lonely Witness Cover

About The Book

Amy was once a party girl, but now she lives a lonely life. Helping the house-bound to receive communion in the Gravesend neighbourhood of Brooklyn, she knows the community well.

When a local woman goes missing, Amy senses something isn’t right.

Tailing the woman’s suspicious son, she winds her way through Brooklyn’s streets. But before she can act, he is dead.

Captivated by the crime she’s witnessed and the murderer himself, Amy doesn’t call the cops. Instead, she collects the weapon from the sidewalk and soon finds herself on the trail of a killer.

Powerful and evocative, The Lonely Witness brings Brooklyn to life and exposes the harsh realities of crime and punishment on the city streets.

My Review

With thanks to the publisher for the copy received. The Lonely Witness is one of the more original novels that I have read this year. It is a crime novel, with focus on the witness, the murderer and the neighbourhood rather than the police investigation. It also feels like a travelogue with the amount of detail about Brooklyn, somewhere I know nothing about.
Amy used to be a party girl but now does good deeds with the local church, mainly with the elderly. When one of them, Mrs Epifanio, shows concern about the son of her usual home help she reluctantly agrees to see if he is genuine. It is this decision that ends with her becoming a witness to a murder.
Whilst I did like Amy, her landlord and a handful of other characters my favourite was Mrs Epifanio. I laughed at the interaction with Dom, flirting and encouraging a relationship with Amy without knowing what was really happening.
I could visualise Brooklyn and all of the characters really well. The many different relationships are perfectly described. Dominic and his mother especially, were just how I imagine an Italian American family to be. The mother perfectly able to give her son a well deserved slap.
The descriptions of Brooklyn, its bars, coffee bars and shops feature heavily. My impression was that it used to be predominantly Italian, but now many other nationalities lived there. It felt close-knit with everybody knowing each other, even if they had been absent for a few years. I imagine that if you do know the area you will get much more out of this book. I have read books in the past where I know an area well and found I read them slightly differently.
Short but unique, I would definitely read more by this author.

The Lonely Witness Blog Tour Poster

The Emperor of Shoes by Spencer Wise – Review.

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About the Book

From an exciting new voice in literary fiction, a transfixing story about an expatriate in southern China and his burgeoning relationship with a seamstress intent on inspiring dramatic political change.

Alex Cohen, a twenty-six-year-old Jewish Bostonian, is living in southern China, where his father runs their family-owned shoe factory. Alex reluctantly assumes the helm of the company, but as he explores the plant’s vast floors and assembly lines, he comes to a grim realization: employees are exploited, regulatory systems are corrupt and Alex’s own father is engaging in bribes to protect the bottom line. When Alex meets a seamstress named Ivy, his sympathies begin to shift. She is an embedded organizer of a pro-democratic Chinese party, secretly sowing dissonance among her fellow labourers. Will Alex remain loyal to his father and his heritage? Or will the sparks of revolution ignite?

Deftly plotted and vibrantly drawn, The Emperor of Shoes is a timely meditation on idealism, ambition, father-son rivalry and cultural revolution, set against a vivid backdrop of social and technological change.

My Review

With thanks to the publisher for the copy received. The Emperor of Shoes is a novel that I enjoyed immensely. There is the storyline itself, that of a son of a shoe manufacturer who feels uncomfortable when he realises how bad the conditions are in their factory. There are the problems across China, some of which led to the terrible events that happened in Tiananmen Square. There is the romance between Alex and Ivy where they have to learn and respect each others cultural differences and most of all there is the relationship between Alex and his father. It is this relationship that makes this book so special. Many of their conversations made me smile, especially with his father’s obsessions, but they were also touching because you could see how close they were. Even if they couldn’t.
This is not a quick book to read. There were many moments that had me sat in silence, gazing into space. The empty villages, where everybody of a certain age had left to find work. The cold hearted managers in the factory who showed no compassion to the workers and the horrific conditions in which they worked. The telling of what happened at Tiananmen Square that felt like a first hand account.
It’s a truly wonderful novel that opens your eyes to different cultures but also to the working conditions in certain parts of the world.

The Language of Secrets by Ausma Zehanat Khan – Giveaway – Blog Tour.

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Today I am delighted to host a giveaway for the first two books in this amazing series.  ( UK only) All you need to do is retweet my pinned tweet or share this post and I will pick a winner using a random number generator on Friday 10th August.

About the Book

A terrorist cell is planning an attack on New Year”s Day. For months, Mohsin Dar has been undercover, feeding information back to the national security team. Now he”s dead.

Detective Esa Khattak, compromised by his friendship with the murdered agent, sends his partner Rachel Getty into the unsuspecting cell. As Rachel delves deeper into the unfamiliar world of Islam and the group”s circle of trust, she discovers Mohsin”s murder may not be politically motivated after all. Now she”s the only one who can stop the most devastating attack the country has ever faced.

The Unquiet Dead author Ausma Zehanat Khan once again dazzles with a brilliant mystery woven into a profound and intimate story of humanity.

You can see my review for The Language of Secrets by Ausma Zehanat Khan here

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Judge Walden Back In Session by Peter Murphy – Blog Tour Review

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About the Book

Judge Walden is back, to preside over five new cases at Bermondsey Crown Court.

Retired resident judge Peter Murphy takes us back to the world of criminal trials in South London for another session with Charlie Walden keeping the peace between his fellow judges Marjorie, Legless and Hubert while fighting off the attacks of the Grey Smoothies, the civil servants who seem intent on reducing the court s dwindling resources to vanishing point in the name of business cases and value for money .

Meet the rum and memorable characters who pop into Charlie s domain, including Lester Fogle from one of London s Disorganised Crime Families, Arthur Swivell the one-time Bermondsey singing legend and the very unbardlike Elias Shakespeare. And you will never feel the same about The Owl and the Pussycat or the Entente Cordiale again.

Fortunately, Charlie has Elsie and Jeanie s lattes and ham and cheese baps, and newspaper vendor George s witty banter, to sustain him in the mornings; and in the evenings, the Delights of the Raj, or La Bella Napoli, to enjoy with the Reverend Mrs Walden.

My Review

With thanks to the publisher for the copy received.When I read a novella last year which introduced me to Judge Walden and all the others connected to Bermondsey Court I found it to be very entertaining so I was thrilled to be asked if I would like to read this collection.
It was like being back amongst old friends, with Charlie having to sort out all the problems that each of his trials brought as well as various other situations that occurred in the other judges courts.
There are five cases, none of which feature murder. These are the more everyday situations, robbery, smuggling and blackmail are just some of the situations we read about.
My favourite character, the Reverend Mrs Walden appears again and as before helps Charlie in a few different ways, including offering advice on battles between judges and lawyers and entertaining officials from other countries.
Very refreshing light-hearted fun and I want to read more. Still don’t fancy the daily specials though.

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Where There’s Smoke – Charlie Walden’s First Case – Walden of Bermondsey by Peter Murphy – Review.

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About the Book

When Charlie Walden took on the job of Resident Judge of the Bermondsey Crown Court, he was hoping for a quiet life. But he soon finds himself struggling to keep the peace between three feisty fellow judges who have very different views about how to do their job, and about how Charlie should do his.
And as if that’s not enough, there’s the endless battle against the ‘Grey Smoothies’, the humourless grey-suited civil servants who seem determined to drown Charlie in paperwork and strip the court of its last vestiges of civilisation.
No hope of a quiet life then for Charlie, and there are times when his real job – trying the challenging criminal cases that come before him – actually seems like light relief.

My Review

I would like to thank the publisher for the copy received.
I read a lot of crime fiction, some of which is court based, but I have never read a book where the main character is a judge. Where There is Smoke is the first of six cases that features Charlie and I enjoyed every minute of it. Whilst there is the storyline featuring the case, which involves an arson attack on a church, I felt that the aim of this novella was to introduce the reader to all of the different characters which feature.
All of the judges have differing views on how their job should be done and what sentences should be given. Charlie is the one who decides which judge gets which case and also has to answer to the ‘grey smoothies’ who are intent on making the job harder than it need to be. As well as the court staff we also get to meet Charlie’s wife, the Reverend. I expect to see quite a lot of her in future books and it is easy to see who wears the trousers in their house.
You do see the entire case go through the court system and it is intriguing, but I enjoyed meeting everybody much more. I’m looking forward to reading the full novel soon.