The Bleeding by Johann Gustawsson – translated by David Warriner – Blog Tour Review.

About The Book

1899, Belle Époque Paris. Lucienne’s two daughters are believed dead when her mansion burns to the ground, but she is certain that her girls are still alive and embarks on a journey into the depths of the spiritualist community to find them.

1949, Post-War Québec. Teenager Lina’s father has died in the French Resistance, and as she struggles to fit in at school, her mother introduces her to an elderly woman at the asylum where she works, changing Lina’s life in the darkest way imaginable.

2002, Quebec. A former schoolteacher is accused of brutally stabbing her husband – a famous university professor – to death. Detective Maxine Grant, who has recently lost her own husband and is parenting a teenager and a new baby single-handedly, takes on the investigation.

Under enormous personal pressure, Maxine makes a series of macabre discoveries that link directly to historical cases involving black magic and murder, secret societies and spiritism … and women at breaking point, who will stop at nothing to protect the ones they love…

My Review

With thanks to the publisher for the copy received. This is the fourth book that I have read by this author and each time I have been left lost for words. Many authors use alternating  timelines throughout their novels but with differing levels of success.This novel worked perfectly. Three different timelines, two different countries but the three women who feature are all linked. When the husband of one of them, is murdered the link between them is slowly revealed. 

All three women were struggling to deal with the situation that they were in. In 1899 Lucienne wanted answers and turned to a medium, in 1949 Lina wanted revenge and befriended an elderly lady in a care home,and in 2002 Maxine wanted her loving daughter to lose her teenage anger, clinging to the memories of happy times. She threw herself into work, getting relief from her colleagues Jules and Gina.  Whilst all three captivated me it was Lina I wanted to read about most, she was the one who I had more sympathy for. 

But as I read more I realised I’d been duped. Nothing was as it seemed and I had no idea what would happen. It was a sinister, macabre, slightly confusing at times, book to read and I read it very quickly. I believe that it is the start of a new series, with the ending of this I have no idea what to expect. An absolutely brilliant novel. 

Whisper of The Seals by Roxanne Bouchard – translated by David Warriner – Blog Tour Review.

About The Book

There’s only one thing more deadly than the storm…

Fisheries officer Simone Lord is transferred to Quebec’s remote Magdalen Islands for the winter, and at the last minute ordered to go aboard a trawler braving a winter storm for the traditional grey seal hunt, while all of the other boats shelter onshore.

Detective Sergeant Joaquin Moralès is on a cross-country boat trip down the St Lawrence River, accompanied by Nadine Lauzon, a forensic psychologist working on the case of a savagely beaten teenager with Moralès’ old team in Montreal. 

When it becomes clear that Simone is in grave danger aboard the trawler, the two cases converge, with startling, terrifying consequences for everyone involved…

The award-winning author of The Coral Bride returns with an atmospheric, race-against-the-clock thriller set on the icy seas in the midst of a brutal seal hunt, where nothing is as it seems and absolutely no one can be trusted. 

My Review

With thanks to the publisher for the copy received. I had read the first book in this series but to my regret not the second. However, it didn’t take me long to catch up with Moralès and get to know and appreciate Simone Lord, the fisheries officer who he was hesitant to acknowledge his feelings for. Their relationship has made me determined to read the second book The Coral Bride. 

The storyline concerns both of them and switches back and forth between them throughout the entire novel. Much of Moralès storyline covered his angst about his divorce, his inability to admit his feelings for Simone, his brilliant friendship with Lefebvre and eventually his determination to rescue Simone from the fishing trawler.

Simone’s is much more intense. She isn’t a character I warmed to instantly, just like Moralès she was unable to admit how she felt, and it was only in the latter stages of the novel that she could. But I appreciated almost instantly her determination to stand up to the men she was on the trawler with. 

I found her to be brave in many ways, her job, the danger it brought and also her acceptance of the seal cull. After seeing various reviews of this part of the book I wasn’t relishing reading it but even though it was at times brutal it was also handled with sensitivity and showed that some of the men at least showed that they didn’t want the animals to suffer. There was a brief time that showed they cared more about the animals than the activists did, something I had never thought about before.  

There was nothing that would have got me onto the trawler, the group of men were only a small one but they were either terrifying or infuriating. I had no idea what any of them would do next and who out of all of them were the biggest threat to Simone.

This was a fascinating novel, descriptive, emotional and dangerous and one that I will definitely read again.

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.