Palm Beach Finland by Antti Tuomainen – Blog Tour Review.

 

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About The Book

Sex, lies and ill-fitting swimwear … Sun Protection Factor 100

Jan Nyman, the ace detective of the covert operations unit of the National Central Police, is sent to a sleepy seaside town to investigate a mysterious death. Nyman arrives in the town dominated by a bizarre holiday village – the ‘hottest beach in Finland’. The suspect: Olivia Koski, who has only recently returned to her old hometown. The mission: find out what happened, by any means necessary.
With a nod to Fargo, and dark noir, Palm Beach, Finland is both a page-turning thriller and a black comedy about lust for money, fleeing dreams and people struggling at turning points in their lives – chasing their fantasies regardless of reason.

My Review

With thanks to the publisher for the copy received. Having read and enjoyed earlier novels by Antti Tuomainen I knew I would be in for a treat with Palm Beach Finland.
Likened to Fargo, and my thoughts are a day after finishing it, that like that film and similar the reader would appreciate and notice a lot more by reading more than once. I’m sure there are things that I missed on a first read. All because of the fascinating and multi layered characters.
I have my favourites. Chico and Robin, the two hapless criminals whose bizarre mishaps get this novel off to a great start. Lifelong friends, they both have their dreams of a different life. And Muurla, Jan’s boss who constantly reveals too much information about his private life. Nearly every scene that these three appeared in made me laugh. I never knew that an electric whisk or a tide could be so funny.
The author makes the resort of Palm Beach, rival to St Tropez believable. More rundown and a lot quieter and colder but Leivo, the unscrupulous owner is convinced he can make it a success. As long as Olivia can be convinced to sell.
Alongside the humour, unintentional violence and mayhem is the blossoming friendship between Jan and Olivia. Far from straightforward but very sweet. Just wonderful.

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Trap by Lilia Sigurdardottir – Blog Tour Review.

 

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About The Book

Happily settled in Florida, Sonja believes she’s finally escaped the trap set by unscrupulous drug lords. But when her son Tomas is taken, she’s back to square one … and Iceland.
Her lover, Agla, is awaiting sentencing for financial misconduct after the banking crash, and Sonja refuses to see her. And that’s not all … Agla owes money to some extremely powerful men, and they’ll stop at nothing to get it back.
With her former nemesis, customs officer Bragi, on her side, Sonja puts her own plan into motion, to bring down the drug barons and her scheming ex-husband, and get Tomas back safely. But things aren’t as straightforward as they seem, and Sonja finds herself caught in the centre of a trap that will put all of their lives at risk…
Set in a Reykjavík still covered in the dust of the Eyjafjallajökull volcanic eruption, and with a dark, fast-paced and chilling plot and intriguing characters, Trap is an outstandingly original and sexy Nordic crime thriller, from one of the most exciting new names in crime fiction.

My Review

I enjoyed reading Snare, the first part in the Reykjavik Noir series last year so was looking forward to catching up with all the criminals again. And to the two who made me smile, Bragi and Tomas. I do advise that you read Snare before this, you won’t appreciate the characters or the plot as much. Sonya especially, a drug smuggler who would you expect to judge for her actions you don’t when you understand why she does it. And I adored her relationship with her son, Tomas and the way she was with Bragi.
There were a couple of new characters, one of who proved me right with my theory that an evil woman was much worse than an evil man. Especially when the author is also female. Nati was absolutely terrifying.
I enjoyed every scene that Tomas appeared in, especially the ones that also featured his father Adam. Just like his mother he could see through the charm. Bragi, near the end of his working life and devoted to his ailing wife knows that he is doing wrong in helping Sonya but would prefer to do that than see his wife somewhere different to their home.
A lot of the financial crime I found complex, even though I am aware that there was a banking crisis in Iceland. But it didn’t stop me from enjoying the book. I’m very curious about what happens next with this little group of people, there has to be potential for more drama. The characters are so fascinating and the writing is mesmerising.

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The Lion Tamer Who Lost by Louise Beech – Blog Tour Review.

 

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About the Book

Be careful what you wish for…

Long ago, Andrew made a childhood wish, and kept it in a silver box. When it finally comes true, he wishes he hadn’t…
Long ago, Ben made a promise and he had a dream: to travel to Africa to volunteer at a lion reserve. When he finally makes it, it isn’t for the reasons he imagined…
Ben and Andrew keep meeting in unexpected places, and the intense relationship that develops seems to be guided by fate. Or is it?
What if the very thing that draws them together is tainted by past secrets that threaten everything?
A dark, consuming drama that shifts from Zimbabwe to England, and then back into the past, The Lion Tamer Who Lost is also a devastatingly beautiful love story, with a tragic heart…

My Review

With thanks to the publisher for the copy received. I have now read and thoroughly enjoyed all four of Louise Beech’s novels. She is the only author who doesn’t write crime fiction who I follow avidly. Her writing is exquisite.
The Lion Tamer Who Lost is a love story. Most of the novel concerns both Ben and Andrew, the reader sees both sides of their story. You first meet Ben when he is in Zimbabwe. You know that it is a life long dream but don’t know why he chose to be there at this time in his life. He is struggling with his emotions though, wanting to ring home, or write but not being able to do so. But he is somebody who struggles to admit to those close to him his true feelings. More is revealed as you read. It is a different setting for me, but I could visualise it through the writing. The weather, the magical sunrises, the lions with their beauty but also the knowledge that they could be a threat. And the vile coffee.
Andrew is a completely different character. Much more open in some ways, he has no problems with his sexuality, but in other ways he struggles. Health issues, a lonely childhood and the unfulfilled dream of becoming an author.
When reading this novel I felt like everything else that was happening in the world vanished. It was impossible to be distracted whilst reading. This is rare for me, I’m best reading with nothing happening in the background but with this book it didn’t matter. It took over everything. There is so much to love. Bob Fracklehurst ( a character who regular readers will know), the humour that is present in a relationship with a soul mate, the wrong words, the excerpts from Andrew’s book at the top of each chapter. I could go on and on.

I’m not ashamed to say I cried. More than once. I cried at the relationship between Ben and Andrew a few times and I also cried over Will. The man who knew he had made mistakes, and regretted them.
An absolutely brilliant novel, told as always from the heart.

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Overkill by Vanda Symon – Blog Tour Review.

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About the Book

When the body of a young mother is found washed up on the banks of the Mataura River, a small rural community is rocked by her tragic suicide. But all is not what it seems.
Sam Shephard, sole-charge police constable in Mataura, soon discovers the death was no suicide and has to face the realisation that there is a killer in town. To complicate the situation, the murdered woman was the wife of her former lover. When Sam finds herself on the list of suspects and suspended from duty, she must cast aside her personal feelings and take matters into her own hands.
To find the murderer … and clear her name.

My Review

One of the reasons I enjoy fiction from this part of the world is because the characters are so brutally honest and refreshing, Shep does not disappoint and she is one of my new favourite heroines.
She is loyal, hardworking, determined,rash, pedantic but she is also quick to react, not always in the best way and at times her own worst enemy. The only person who understands her and manages to calm her down is her flat mate Maggie. I was longing to ask her just to step back a little, to calm down and see the predicament she was placing herself in. But she also made me laugh, especially with the way she talked to people who alienated her.
The prologue was one of the most chilling parts of the novel, it is one that I can still feel the desperation of the victim weeks later. The character has only a small part in the novel obviously but the shock of the murder is evident throughout the whole novel.
I could imagine this small town very easily, a town full of hardworking people who were desperately clinging to its last big employer. How many towns are like this across the world now? It is also a town that appears to thrive on gossip and when things go wrong for Shep everybody knows.
I read a lot of crime fiction and sometimes work out easily who the killer is and I had no idea why somebody wanted Gaby dead. I think that this is because the reasoning for the crime was completely different to every other crime fiction book that I have read. And it is utterly believable.
This is the first book in the series and I hope that the others will be published soon.

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After He Died by Michael J Malone – Blog Tour Review.

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About the Book

You need to know who your husband really was…

When Paula Gadd’s husband of almost thirty years dies, just days away from the seventh anniversary of their son, Christopher’s death, her world falls apart. Grieving and bereft, she is stunned when a young woman approaches her at the funeral service, and slips something into her pocket. A note suggesting that Paula’s husband was not all that he seemed…
When the two women eventually meet, a series of revelations challenges everything Paula thought they knew, and it becomes immediately clear that both women’s lives are in very real danger.
Both a dark, twisty slice of domestic noir and taut, explosive psychological thriller, After He Died is also a chilling reminder that the people we trust the most can harbour the deadliest secrets…

My Review

With thanks to the publisher for the copy received. You have to admire an author who never writes the same type of novel. The three that I have that have been published by Orenda are all completely different and all highly recommended.
This particular book is difficult to review because I can’t really mention the plot. The less you know the better. So I will concentrate on the back story and the way that certain parts made me feel.
Most of the novel focuses on Paula struggling after the sudden death of her husband which followed the murder of their only son a few years earlier. Everything about her grieving process was believable. Insomnia, heavier than usual drinking and trying to understand why it appears that her husband wasn’t who she thought he was. There was a part of her grieving that affected me quite deeply. For those who have read it, it took place on a beach on Bute, for those who haven’t get some tissues.
Cara is not present as much but she still has an impact. Not just with the way that she has added to Paula’s torment but also with her career. The difficulties that the people who do her type of work face on a daily basis. The differences between the two worlds is vast. Not only due to financial reasons but also friendship and loyalty. Paula might have had no money worries but unlike Cara and the people she knew she had no friends to support her.
But as well as the grieving and betrayal there is some good humour. a few phrases I had to use the kindle dictionary for but the message came through regardless.
Another fantastic novel from Orenda that I’m sure will be popular.

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