The Waiting Rooms by Eve Smith – Blog Tour Review.

About The Book

Decades of spiralling drug resistance have unleashed a global antibiotic crisis. Ordinary infections are untreatable, and a scratch from a pet can kill. A sacrifice is required to keep the majority safe: no one over seventy is allowed new antibiotics. The elderly are sent to hospitals nicknamed ‘The Waiting Rooms’ … hospitals where no one ever gets well.

Twenty years after the crisis takes hold, Kate begins a search for her birth mother, armed only with her name and her age. As Kate unearths disturbing facts about her mother’s past, she puts her family in danger and risks losing everything. Because Kate is not the only secret that her mother is hiding. Someone else is looking for her, too.

Sweeping from an all-too-real modern Britain to a pre-crisis South Africa, The Waiting Rooms is epic in scope, richly populated with unforgettable characters, and a tense, haunting vision of a future that is only a few mutations away.

My Review

With thanks to the publisher for the copy received. The first thing that crossed my mind when I picked up this book was how the author felt that it was to be published in the midst of a world wide pandemic. A little strange, I’m sure. It certainly felt strange to read. Especially at first, when you read about the precautions the characters had to take to avoid infection. What should have been fiction has turned into reality. The mask wearing and avoiding contact is starting to feel like it’s always been that way.

The three separate stories of life before the crisis, during and after are fascinating, as are the characters Mary, Lily and Kate. All suffering in their own way, all feeling guilt for what they have had to do. Whilst liking all of them it was Lily who I liked the most and felt more sympathy for. I can’t imagine how the thought of approaching seventy years old is that terrifying. I appreciated her sadness at friends disappearing suddenly, her reliance on her carer Anne and her desire to get to know Kate. I felt a lot of sadness reading her very lonely story.

The ending was one I woke up thinking about. I had managed to miss the connection to the story initially, it was one that came to me during the night. Obviously I can’t say what but I wonder if other readers feel the same.

I didn’t find the novel as intimidating as I imagined. It’s clever, we all know that the resistance to antibiotics is growing. But it’s also a thriller and a tale about a small group of people who have to cope the best way they can. Just wonderful. 

Blood Red City by Rod Reynolds – Blog Tour Review.

About The Book

When crusading journalist Lydia Wright is sent a video of an apparent murder on a London train, she thinks she’s found the story to revive her career. But she can’t find a victim, much less the killers, and the only witness has disappeared. Wary she’s fallen for fake news, she begins to doubt her instincts – until a sinister call suggests that she’s not the only one interested in the crime.

Michael Stringer deals in information – and doesn’t care which side of the law he finds himself on. But the murder on the train has left him exposed, and now he’ll stop at nothing to discover what Lydia knows.

When their paths collide, Lydia finds the story leads through a nightmare world, where money, power and politics intersect … and information is the only thing more dangerous than a bullet.

A nerve-shattering and brutally realistic thriller, Blood Red City bursts with energy and grit from the opening page, twisting and feinting to a superb, unexpected ending that will leave you breathless.

My Review

With thanks to the publisher for the copy received. I had read a couple of Rod Reynolds books before so was aware of how he managed to make the reader so interested and concerned for his characters. Stringer was the character I liked reading about more. What was revealed about his troubled family life, especially his relationship with his father, his protective manner towards his sister, niece, Angie and Lydia who he barely knew. I expect that there was a lot more about him that I missed, he was one of the more complex characters I’ve read about.

I always struggle reading about journalists but Lydia was different. Punished and sent to report on the z list celebrities for going too far in a previous investigation she was hurting but knew when she saw what happened on the tube that she couldn’t stay quiet. Not as much revealed about her, apart from her feelings of inadequacy but I did admire her spirit and loyalty.

I don’t know London and I don’t really understand financial crime or money laundering but the story fascinated me. I had no idea who could be trusted or who could have been responsible for what happened on the tube. I felt that the ones with power couldn’t be trusted whilst the ‘invisible’ people, the ones who tried to turn their lives around (Angie) had much more integrity. 

A great book, which unusually for me, I would read again.

Ash Mountain by Helen Fitzgerald – Blog Tour Review

About The Book

Single-mother Fran returns to her sleepy hometown to care for her dying father when a devastating bush fire breaks out. A devastating, disaster-noir thriller from the author of The Cry.

Fran hates Ash Mountain, and she thought she’d escaped. But her father is ill, and needs care. Her relationship is over, and she hates her dead-end job in the city, anyway.

She returns to her hometown to nurse her dying father, her distant teenage daughter in tow for the weekends. There, in the sleepy town of Ash Mountain, childhood memories prick at her fragile self-esteem, she falls in love for the first time, and her demanding dad tests her patience, all in the unbearable heat of an Australian summer.

As old friendships and rivalries are renewed, and new ones forged, Fran’s tumultuous home life is the least of her worries, when old crimes rear their heads and a devastating bushfire ravages the town and all of its inhabitants…

Simultaneously a warm, darkly funny portrait of small-town life – and a woman and a land in crisis – and a shocking and truly distressing account of a catastrophic event that changes things forever, Ash Mountain is a heart-breaking slice of domestic noir, and a disturbing disaster thriller that you will never forget…

My Review

With thanks to the publisher for the copy received. I first became aware of this book at a roadshow event last year. Having visited Australia a few times, each time seeing  the after effects of a bushfire and loving Australian fiction I was eager to read it. And what a book it is, it’s one that I will be recommending to everybody.

When Fran returns to her childhood home to care for her ailing father, along with her daughter it is with reluctance, it wasn’t a happy place for her as a teenager. The reasons why are revealed throughout the book which covers the events from 30 years ago, the first few days after Fran’s arrival and the day of the fire. There are a few narrators but mainly it is Fran.

Many people will have seen the devastation of the bushfires in Australia on the news earlier this year. What this novel shows is what it is like for those who had to live close by. There is the fear, the smell of burning and death, the way the fires destroy everything in their path, the knowledge that many neighbours have lost their lives. And the uncertainty about many others.

But there is also some humour. Fran is funny, sarcastic and down to earth. What you see is what you get. She feels hurt at the nickname she has had to endure for thirty years but deals with it the best way she can. I adored her. And I laughed at the freezing cold temperatures in Adelaide, 23 degrees! 

Absolutely wonderful. 

The Creak On The Stairs by Eva Björg Ægisdóttir, translated by Victoria Cribb – Blog Tour Review.

About The Book

When a body of a woman is discovered at a lighthouse in the Icelandic town of Akranes, it soon becomes clear that she’s no stranger to the area.

Chief Investigating Officer Elma, who has returned to Akranes following a failed relationship, and her collegues Sævar and Hörður, commence an uneasy investigation, which uncovers a shocking secret in the dead woman’s past that continues to reverberate in the present day …

But as Elma and her team make a series of discoveries, they bring to light a host of long-hidden crimes that shake the entire community. Sifting through the rubble of the townspeople’s shattered memories, they have to dodge increasingly serious threats, and find justice … before it’s too late.

My Review

With thanks to the publisher for the copy received. The Creak On The Stairs is the first in a new crime series which is set in Iceland. One of the reasons I enjoy Icelandic Noir is that it’s easy to assume you are reading ‘cosy crime’ but it’s not long before you start to see the darker thread. This book was no different and the truth is slowly revealed when you read the accounts from the past. When you see what the victim was like as a child. How she suffered from the neglect, bitterness and the worst betrayal you can imagine. And how she dealt with it.

Elma was a character I liked immediately, she seemed more ‘streetwise’ than her colleagues and was more willing to delve further. Maybe less worried than the others with living away for so long she was less concerned about offending those in power. I felt that Akranes was a close knit society, the type where there were many secrets, plenty of suspicions but nothing ever discussed.

I appreciated the way Elma developed friendships with the rest of the team, with slight promises of the way things could develop. She obviously struggled with her emotions concerning her previous relationship and was unwilling to discuss it. When the full extent of what happened there was revealed at the end I understood her attitude to starting again more. Her relationship with her family was convincing, especially with her older sister, much of their interaction made me smile.

It’s a fascinating novel and I’m very much looking forward to more by this author.

Deep Dark Night by Steph Broadribb – Review.

About The Book

A city in darkness. A building in lockdown. A score that can only be settled in blood…
Working off the books for FBI Special Agent Alex Monroe, Florida bounty-hunter Lori Anderson and her partner, JT, head to Chicago. Their mission: to entrap the head of the Cabressa crime family. The bait: a priceless chess set that Cabressa is determined to add to his collection.

An exclusive high-stakes poker game is arranged in the penthouse suite of one of the city’s tallest buildings, with Lori holding the cards in an agreed arrangement to hand over the pieces, one by one. But, as night falls and the game plays out, stakes rise and tempers flare.

When a power failure plunges the city into darkness, the building goes into lockdown. But this isn’t an ordinary blackout, and the men around the poker table aren’t all who they say they are. Hostages are taken, old scores resurface and the players start to die.
And that’s just the beginning…

My Review

With thanks to the author for the copy received. After the events in the preceding book, Deep Dirty Truth I couldn’t wait to read this follow up. It would help if you knew what happened there but you could still enjoy this book by reading it as a stand-alone. 

From the opening chapters Lori is in danger despite J.T’s attempts to keep her safe. He  has health issues however and they do slow him down. But she is more than capable of looking after herself. Apart from having to learn poker. 

I have to admit that this is a game I know absolutely nothing about. I was a little concerned it would impact on my enjoyment of the novel but it only covers a couple of chapters. And those chapters were easy to follow, I just smiled at  Lori’s methods at convincing the experts she knew what she was doing.

 When the game came to an abrupt halt the tension increased dramatically. Because it is very short chapters which switch constantly between Lori and J.T’s predicament I struggled to put the book down. Each time one narrative ended I was desperate to find out what happened next. The author certainly knows how to keep a reader hooked. I liked both accounts equally but really appreciated getting to know more about J.T. 

It is a long time since I have felt so on edge reading a book. Wondering what would happen next and to whom. Wondering who was somebody who could be trusted and who fit the description by the  unknown electronic voice. And definitely who would be Herron. 

This has been my favourite book in the series, I hope we don’t have to wait too long to see what will happen next to Lori and J.T.