In The Absence Of Miracles by Michael Malone – Blog Tour Review.

About The Book

A young man discovers a family secret that turns his world upside down in this dark, emotive, shocking psychological thriller by number-one bestselling author Michael J. Malone

John Docherty’s mother has just been taken into a nursing home following a massive stroke and she’s unlikely to be able to live independently again.

With no other option than to sell the family home, John sets about packing up everything in the house. In sifting through the detritus of his family’s past he’s forced to revisit, and revise his childhood.
For in a box, in the attic, he finds undeniable truth that he had a brother who disappeared when he himself was only a toddler. A brother no one ever mentioned. A brother he knew absolutely nothing about. A discovery that sets John on a journey from which he may never recover.

For sometimes in that space where memory should reside there is nothing but silence, smoke and ash. And in the absence of truth, in the absence of a miracle, we turn to prayer. And to violence.

Shocking, chilling and heartbreakingly emotive, In the Absence of Miracles is domestic noir at its most powerful, and a sensitively wrought portrait of a family whose shameful lies hide the very darkest of secrets.

My Review

With thanks to the publisher for the copy received. Michael Malone is one of those authors who always manages to tug on your heartstrings whilst delivering something that is shocking and real. This novel is my favourite so far.

John is a teacher, successful at his job but less successful in his private life. He adores his partner but struggles to make that final commitment. He is also aware that he drinks too much. But his life is turned upside down with his discovery in his family home which he is preparing to sell to pay for his mother’s care. This discovery results in events long forgotten to be revealed and threaten all who he loves.

There are some fantastic characters in this novel. I liked John instantly and as events from the past were explained I understood and liked most of the others more. So much felt real. The emotions, guilt, betrayal, fear and even jealousy. All of them had to come to terms with the past and as they did they learned to trust and be honest with each other. The strength of each of them became evident in the final pages. A perfect closure.

Blood Song by Johana Gustawsson translated by David Warriner – Blog Tour Review.

About The Book

The action swings from London to Sweden, and then back into the past, to Franco’s Spain, as Roy & Castells hunt a monstrous killer … in the lastest instalment of Johana Gustawsson’s award-winning series

Spain, 1938:
 The country is wracked by civil war, and as Valencia falls to Franco’s brutal dictatorship, Republican Therese witnesses the murders of her family. Captured and sent to the notorious Las Ventas women’s prison, Therese gives birth to a daughter who is forcibly taken from her.

Falkenberg, Sweden, 2016: A wealthy family is found savagely murdered in their luxurious home. Discovering that her parents have been slaughtered, Aliénor Lindbergh, a new recruit to the UK’s Scotland Yard, rushes back to Sweden and finds her hometown rocked by the massacre.

Profiler Emily Roy joins forces with Aliénor and soon finds herself on the trail of a monstrous and prolific killer. Little does she realise that this killer is about to change the life of her colleague, true-crime writer Alexis Castells. Joining forces once again, Roy and Castells’ investigation takes them from the Swedish fertility clinics of the present day back to the terror of Franco’s rule, and the horrifying events that took place in Spanish orphanages under its rule.

Terrifying, vivid and recounted at breakneck speed, Blood Song is not only a riveting thriller and an examination of corruption in the fertility industry, but a shocking reminder of the atrocities of Spain’s dictatorship, in the latest, stunning installment in the award-winning Roy & Castells series.

My Review

With thanks to the publisher for the copy received. When I read my first book by Johana Gustawsson it was one that contained facts that still upset me now. Her second book was just as good but didn’t have the same impact. Blood Song left me devastated by what I learned about the atrocities committed during Franco’s regime.

Once again she uses fact and fiction. It was the events concerning Teresa, Gordi and all her young friends that upset me. Much more than the fictional events in modern day. I find it very difficult to accept the levels of cruelty displayed but when reading the author notes and articles I found on google I felt it was an honest account. They were hard to read but when I saw how she combined the past and present I was stunned into silence, unable to think about anything apart from what I had just read.

It is powerful, it is a novel where none of the characters over shadow the story. It is a novel where I was left hoping that I would get to meet them all again, even Olofosson who I took a huge dislike to previously, I managed to have some sympathy for this time.

Just wonderful.

The Closer I Get by Paul Burston – Blog Tour Review.

About The Book

Tom is a successful author, but he’s struggling to finish his novel. His main distraction is an online admirer, Evie, who simply won’t leave him alone.

Evie is smart, well read and unstable; she lives with her father and her social-media friendships are not only her escape, but everything she has.

When she’s hit with a restraining order, her world is turned upside down, and Tom is free to live his life again, to concentrate on writing.

But things aren’t really adding up. For Tom is distracted but also addicted to his online relationships, and when they take a darker, more menacing turn, he feels powerless to change things. Because maybe he needs Evie more than he’s letting on.

A compulsive, disturbingly relevant, twisty and powerful psychological thriller, The Closer I Get is also a searing commentary on the fragility and insincerity of online relationships, and the danger that can lurk just one ‘like’ away…

My Review

With thanks to the publisher for the copy received. The Closer I Get was a novel that I heard a lot about without really knowing it’s synopsis. That is, until I saw a link to an article in a newspaper article about what inspired the author to write it, which then inspired me to read the book as soon as I could.

Many people are on social media. Many post things that they wouldn’t say in real life, face to face. They get involved in disagreements that are best avoided, often using the hashtag. Some become stalkers. Evie is one of the few who do all of these things. There are probably many like her, a loner who had a terrible childhood and didn’t know how to be in the real world. There were moments where I could understand her pain but not how she dealt with it. After being served with a restraining order for her actions involving Tom they both have to rebuild the lives. But are things as they appear?

I found this story mesmerising. More so because neither of the two main characters were that likeable. I couldn’t work out if either of them were being honest and neither of them were nice to anybody they came into contact with. I did have sympathy for Tom initially but I also had misgivings when I could see the way he treated his friends and lovers. He was selfish and self obsessed and couldn’t see that his friend Emma may have needed him to be there for her, just like she was expected to be there for him. The only one who brought out his better side was his developing friendship with his elderly neighbour, Colin.

As well as the characters the author does a terrific job of describing the negative side to social media. One of the platforms in particular is shown at its worst and I’m probably not the only one who was left feeling ill at ease and reluctant to post anything at all.

Totally different to many of the novels that I read, I’m looking forward to my limited edition signed copy arriving soon.

The Last Stage by Louise Voss – Blog Tour Review.

About The Book

At the peak of her career as lead singer of a legendary 1980s indie band, Meredith Vincent was driven off the international stage by a horrific incident. Now living a quiet existence in a cottage on the grounds of an old stately home, she has put her past behind her and come to terms with her new life.

When a body is found in the manicured gardens of her home, and a series of inexplicable and unsettling events begins to occur, it becomes clear that someone is watching, someone who knows who she is … Someone who wants vengeance.

And this is only the beginning…

A dark, riveting and chilling psychological thriller, The Last Stage is also a study of secrets and obsessions, where innocent acts can have the most terrifying consequences.

My Review

With thanks to the publisher for the copy received. The Last Stage is the second book that I have read by Louise Voss and much like the first it is a slow burner, where the reader has little idea what expect.

There are quite a few narrators. Meredith, her twin brother Pete, two police officers, one of whom is a new officer, and two very unsavoury characters. One of these I did identify fairly early on, the other I was completely wrong about.

There are a few scenes that contain violence but none of them are gratuitous. They didn’t need to be, anybody who reads this can imagine the terror that Meredith felt. Not only for the threat to herself, but also towards people she cares deeply about. She was happy in her new life and doesn’t want her past to affect it. In particular she didn’t want to think about who was responsible for her injury and the reasons why she turned her back on the music industry.

Meredith was a character who I liked more as I read. I found her to be honest, felt her remorse over the abandonment of her family and admired her determination to live her life without revealing her past and relying on her fame to be successful. Her type of music I was familiar with, being roughly the same age but I was never a fan. Unlike Mavis, who made me smile a lot.

It was slightly different too much of the crime fiction I usually read. Not as dark but many of the character felt more real. In particular the police team. The frustration, admiration and determination to impress all made a very entertaining novel to read.


A Modern Family by Helga Flatland – Blog Tour Review.

About The Book

When Liv, Ellen and Håkon, along with their partners and children, arrive in Rome to celebrate their father’s seventieth birthday, a quiet earthquake occurs: their parents have decided to divorce.

Shocked and disbelieving, the siblings try to come to terms with their parents’ decision as it echoes through the homes they have built for themselves, and forces them to reconstruct the shared narrative of their childhood and family history.

A bittersweet novel of regret, relationships and rare psychological insights, A Modern Family encourages us to look at the people closest to us a little more carefully, and ultimately reveals that it’s never too late for change…

My Review

With thanks to the publisher for the copy received. A Modern Family is a book that is different to many that I read. Neither crime or historical it is instead a look at how a family dynamic changes when  parents announce that they are divorcing after being married for forty years. Most of the novel focuses on Liv and Ellen but the last chapter concerns Håkon the youngest.

All of the children are adult and all react in different ways. Liv with so much fury that it threatens to break up her own family, Ellen wrapped up in her own medical problems is practically oblivious and Håkon, the only one out of the three who actually talks to both of their parents about their own feelings.

It wasn’t a novel where I could pick a favourite character or narrative. It was one where I could see every point of view and understand what each of them was going though. Even though both Liv and Ellen did sometimes appear selfish. Especially Liv, and at times I did have a bit of sympathy for her husband Olaf. 

Many could read this book and identify with what each of the characters were feeling. At times it’s political, both American and British politics were discussed with insight given into how each could affect Norway. But it doesn’t overpower this family drama of life after divorce. It’s beautifully written and one that I would definitely choose to watch if it was ever filmed.