Epiphany Jones by Michael Grothaus

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Jerry has a traumatic past that leaves him subject to psychotic hallucinations and depressive episodes. When he stands accused of stealing a priceless Van Gogh painting, he goes underground, where he develops an unwilling relationship with a woman who believes that the voices she hears are from God. Involuntarily entangled in the illicit world of sex-trafficking amongst the Hollywood elite, and on a mission to find redemption for a haunting series of events from the past, Jerry is thrust into a genuinely shocking and outrageously funny quest to uncover the truth and atone for historical sins.

A complex, page-turning psychological thriller, riddled with twists and turns, Epiphany Jones is also a superb dark comedy with a powerful emotional core. You’ll laugh when you know you shouldn’t, be moved when you least expect it and, most importantly, never look at Hollywood, celebrity or sex in the same way again. This is an extraordinary debut from a fresh, exceptional new talent.

My Review:

Epiphany Jones is one of the most hard hitting novels that I have read. It’s one of a few that I have read lately that’s theme is sex crimes but this one is slightly different in the way that it comes together and the way everything is revealed.
The two main characters Jerry and Epiphany are both victims. Epiphany is a victim of sex trafficking and Jerry is suffering from tragic events that happened in his childhood. The way that he coped was unusual and in all honesty I found it very difficult to read. There is some black humour that I loved and the seedy side of Hollywood made a great storyline that was chillingly convincing. Whilst I didn’t particularly like either Jerry or Epiphany I had more sympathy for Epiphany. She was violent and unpredictable but she had her reasons.
It was a different type of novel for me. The more graphic parts of the novel I didn’t care for and I’m not sure if they contributed or detracted from the main storyline that was strong enough on its own.

 

Thanks to Karen Sullivan for the copy received, details of the blog tour are below.

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The Evolution of Fear by Paul Hardisty- Blog Tour

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Claymore Straker is a fugitive with a price on his head. Wanted by the CIA for acts of terrorism he did not commit,
his best friend has just been murdered and Rania, the woman he loves, has disappeared. Betrayed by those
closest to him, he must flee the sanctuary of his safe house in Cornwall and track her down. As his pursuers close
in, Clay follows Rania to Istanbul and then to Cyprus, where he is drawn into a violent struggle between the
Russian mafia, Greek Cypriot extremists, and Turkish developers cashing in on the tourism boom. As the island of
love descends into chaos, and the horrific truth is unveiled, Clay must call on every ounce of skill and endurance to save Rania and put an end to the unimaginable destruction being wrought in the name of profit. Gripping,
exhilarating and, above all, frighteningly realistic, The Evolution of Fear is a startling, eye-­‐opening read that
demands the question: How much is truth, and how much is fiction..

My Review:

The Evolution of Fear is the follow up novel to The Abrupt Physics of Dying. I hadn’t read the first one due to time issues and while I would recommend doing so, I could still follow and enjoy this novel very much.
Claymore goes on the run when he arrives back at the cottage where he has been in hiding to find men who turn out to be killers waiting for him. He knows there is a price on his head and also that the woman he loves, Rania, is also in danger. He has to leave England to try and protect her but can’t leave by the usual means, so starts his journey by sailing to Spain.
I did struggle slightly at first, knowing absolutely nothing about sailing the terminology went way over my head but the thrill and sense of danger more than made up for any confusion. There is violence everywhere, Claymore is wary of making friends with people in case he places them in danger so doesn’t settle easily. But as well as the violence there is also a love story, the storyline that concerns the problems in Cyprus after the war and the turtle conservation there.
I always feel that when you know something about an area where a novel takes place it has more of an impact. I have seen the beauty of the Agamas Peninsula, the quiet beaches, deserted villages and a Nicosia split in two. And the unease at certain points about any atrocities that occurred.
Paul Hardisty does a fantastic job in showing the struggle on both sides and at showing how important wildlife preservation is and how much danger it is in from people who are in power and are obsessed with having more.
I thought all the characters worked well, like Claymore I had no idea who he could trust and got it wrong a few times. There are some good, plenty of bad and just like in real life a few who have done things in their past that they wish they hadn’t.
With thanks to Karen Sullivan for the copy received and the opportunity to take part in the blog tour.

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Wicked Game by Matt Johnson

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Age is catching up with Robert Finlay, a police officer on the Royalty Protection team based in London. He’s looking forward to returning to uniform policing and a less stressful life with his new family. But fate has other plans. Finlay’s deeply traumatic, carefully concealed past is about to return to haunt him. A policeman is killed by a bomb blast, and a second is gunned down in his own driveway. Both of the murdered men were former Army colleagues from Finlay’s own SAS regiment, and in a series of explosive events, it becomes clear that he is not the ordinary man that his colleagues, friends and new family think he is. And so begins a game of cat and mouse a wicked game in which Finlay is the target, forced to test his long-buried skills in a fight against a determined and unidentified enemy.

My Review:

Today is my turn on the blog tour for another amazing novel brought to us by Orenda.
Even though I’ve read many crime novels, I’ve never read any that are also SAS or military. By the end of the first chapter of this book I was hooked. Terrorism is a major factor throughout the novel, I can remember the events surrounding the siege at the Iranian Embassy and many of the events involving the IRA, but I have never thought about what it must have been like for the military or the police. Matt Johnson shows us what the people who had to be involved would have experienced.
When ex army colleagues are murdered Robert and Kevin are recruited by their old boss to find the people responsible and take the appropriate action. Robert is very reluctant to get involved, he is a family man but Kevin is more compliant. Robert is in a very difficult position, he is in a new job and his superiors suspect that he knows more than what he is saying.
I liked Robert and Kevin very much, both trying to cope with their past in order to deal with the present. The feelings they experienced, who to trust and how much they could reveal. The level of trust, or mistrust, is just the way I imagined it between the army and the police. I hope that in future novels we get to see the relationships build.
I had completely forgotten that the novel wasn’t set in present time, sadly terrorism is everyday news and I found at least one part of this novel very upsetting. It is quite graphic, especially at the beginning when he is describing events in Ireland. But there is also some humour and a great feeling of loyalty and friendship.
I found Wicked Game a great book to read, one that shows how rewarding it is to read something a little different.

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Jihadi: A Love Story by Yusuf Toropov

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A former intelligence agent stands accused of terrorism, held without charge in a secret overseas prison. His memoir is in the hands of a brilliant but erratic psychologist who has an agenda of her own, and her annotations paint a much darker picture. As the story unravels, we are forced to assess the truth for ourselves, and decide not only what really happened on one fateful overseas assignment but who is the real terrorist. Peopled by a diverse and unforgettable cast of characters, whose reliability as narrators is always questioned, and with a multi-layered plot heaving with unexpected and often shocking developments, Jihadi: A Love Story is an intelligent thriller that asks big questions. Complex, intriguing and intricately woven, this is an astonishing debut that explores the nature of good and evil alongside notions of nationalism, terrorism and fidelity, and, above all, the fragility of the human mind.

My review:

Jihadi will probably be one of those novels that I will be thinking about long after I finished it. I will say that it’s not the easiest novel that I’ve read, it was much easier to read with no background noise, that way I didn’t miss anything.
The book is mainly about Thelonius, Fatima and Mike, how they connected and the consequences on their lives. And throughout the whole novel is a second narrator. At first you don’t realise who this person is, just somebody a little annoying who places a few notes. These contradict the accounts from other people and there are constant references to The White Album by The Beatles. I found this quite confusing, I don’t know the album so didn’t really understand the connection. When I realised who the narrator was I was flicking back the pages to see what I had missed. The same happened with The Raisin. The scenes featuring Thelonius and The Raisin were one of the most fascinating, and at times, upsetting in the book.
Fatima was completely out of her depth and trying to do the best for her mother and younger sister but didn’t realise the danger that she was in until it was far too late. I loved her strength of character and how she refused to change her story to match that of the heavyset woman, one of the more dangerous characters to feature in the novel. I found both her and her husband very intimidating.
I like to think that there would only ever be one Mike but I suspect that I might be disappointed. He was the complete opposite to his brother who had a conscience and tried to do the right thing. Thelonius and Fatima came from different countries and different cultures but they shared the same belief about their countries leaders. The author doesn’t take sides at all, instead he shows that there are good and bad people on both sides of the conflict.
The most heartbreaking parts of this novel I was reading whilst sat on a train, that was thankfully very quiet.

Thanks to Orenda Books for the copy received. The detail of the blog tour are below.

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Snow Blind by Ragnar Jónasson

imageAri Thór Arason is a new police recruit who has just got his first position within the police in a village called Siglufjördur in Northern Iceland. He moves there, leaving behind his girlfriend Kristín. He feels lonely, both parents are dead and he misses his girlfriend. He isn’t sure if their relationship will survive him being away from Reykjavik.
He accepts the nickname of the Reverend in good faith when he realises it is public knowledge that he studied theology before going into the police force. But despite the affectionate term he feels very much an outsider especially when the two cases that they have to investigate have taken place in a village where everybody knows each other and everybody insists that there are no secrets. But Ari refuses to accept what he is told and continues to dig into the past.
It’s very claustrophobic. I can’t really imagine how I would feel to be trapped in a town by bad weather. Where the only way in and out is through a tunnel and an avalanche has made inaccessible. A feeling that must be so much worse when you don’t know anybody and don’t know who to trust.
I loved the way Ari would think of something or ask a question and you didn’t find out straight away what he discovered. Just a little enticement to read a little bit more. And I loved to read about the Icelandic tradition regarding books at Christmas. It sounds wonderful. It is beautifully written (and translated by Quentin Bates) and I’m looking forward to reading the second book Night Blind very soon.

My copy is a limited edition signed hardback (no 134). It will be treasured.