The Tattoo Thief by Alison Belsham – Blog Tour Review.

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About The Book

A policeman on his first murder case
A tattoo artist with a deadly secret
And a twisted serial killer sharpening his blades to kill again…

When Brighton tattoo artist Marni Mullins discovers a flayed body, newly-promoted DI Francis Sullivan needs her help. There’s a serial killer at large, slicing tattoos from his victims’ bodies while they’re still alive. Marni knows the tattooing world like the back of her hand, but has her own reasons to distrust the police. So when she identifies the killer’s next target, will she tell Sullivan or go after the Tattoo Thief alone?

My Review

With thanks to the publisher for the copy received. I read a lot of crime fiction but I have never read a book where the crime is based around tattooing and it is something I know absolutely nothing about.
There are four points of view, Francis, or to his annoyance Frank, is a new DI who has to prove that he is capable to do the job to everybody. His family and his religion are as important to him as his career. Rory is his bitter and resentful colleague. In some ways he had more experience but he is disloyal and I didn’t trust him or like him that much. Marni, my favourite, is a tattoo artist and is a reluctant participant in the investigation into the murders. She has an intriguing back story and a very annoying ex husband. The final point of view is that of the Tattoo Thief, unidentified for much of the novel. This person is dangerous and very smug but not as clever as they think they are.
I had to feel sorry for Francis, he was aware of what Rory was doing but had no option but to work with him. Their relationship was a strange one and I was left wondering how it will be in further books, I have found out since finishing that there will be a series. I hope that they can become friends and stand up to their bullying superior officer.
I am a little unsure whether a member of the public would have as much knowledge and input as Marni And Thierry did in the novel but it made very entertaining reading. Even if I did work out who was the culprit.
It is quite graphic, with the descriptions of what the tattoo thief did and there was a part that didn’t involve a murder that left me feeling a little repulsed. It was explained and the action wasn’t carried out in the novel thankfully.
The world of tattooing is a fascinating one. It appeared to be very loyal with a lot of respect for each other. Not something I would ever fancy but I can understand why many do.

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The After Wife by Cass Hunter – Blog Tour Review.

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About the Book

When Rachel and Aidan fell in love, they thought it was forever.

She was a brilliant, high-flying scientist. He was her loving and supportive husband.

Now she’s gone, and Aidan must carry on and raise their daughter alone.

But Rachel has left behind her life’s work, a gift of love to see them through the dark days after her death.

A gift called iRachel.

My Review

With thanks to the publisher for the copy received. I wasn’t really sure what to expect when I picked up this novel. I was little dubious that it might be too scientific but despite one of the main characters being a robot it wasn’t. This robot was called iRachel and she ended up breaking my heart.
Rachel, wife of Aiden, mother of Chloe and one of the creators of iRachel dies suddenly and Aiden and Chloe are left trying to pick up the pieces of their lives. But their new life takes an unusual turn when they have to accept iRachel into their lives and keep this fact secret. They do so, with trepidation and despite the outrage that Rachel’s colleague Luke feels. Luke is a bit of an outcast, very heavy-handed but he has met his match with iRachel who is determined not to let him bully anybody. Especially her.
As they all start to adapt to their new situation you get to know each of them very well. You see their outward image to friends and colleagues but you also see their inner thoughts. iRachel has been left with her creator’s memories and regrets and helps both Aiden and Chloe cope with their emotions.
Parts of the novel made me laugh, I’m still smiling now at a scene concerning an apron. But much of the novel, especially the last few chapters had me in tears. At one point I couldn’t see the words on the page and had to stop reading.
It is extremely sad but it also shows acceptance. Chloe, especially, has to put her friends at ease when they use everyday phrases that wouldn’t usually mean a thing but could cause hurt in the wrong circumstances.
I liked all three of the main characters but it is iRachel who I liked the most. Her description of feeling her wanting something and the basic human life that she could not experience is one that will stay with me for some time.
I read the epilogue twice. Mainly to see how to made me feel after a break. On the second read I could see the hope come through, that life could be rebuilt but the memories from the old life will always be there.

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The Craftsman by Sharon Bolton – Review.

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About the Book

Florence Lovelady’s career was made when she convicted coffin-maker Larry Glassbrook of a series of child murders 30 years ago. Like something from our worst nightmares the victims were buried…ALIVE.

Larry confessed to the crimes; it was an open and shut case. But now he’s dead, and events from the past start to repeat themselves.

Did she get it wrong all those years ago?
Or is there something much darker at play?

My Review

The Craftsman is a dual time frame novel that takes place in Sabden, a small town in the foothills of Pendle, Lancashire. Witch Country. The Pendle Witch trials and stories are part of this book.
It takes place in 1969 when Florence, Flossie, is a young officer and in 1999 when she is Assistant Commissioner. She has returned to the area to attend the funeral of a convicted murderer who she has stayed in contact with.
Whilst there is the spookiness connected with the witches the storyline in the novel is crime fiction. In 1969, Flossie is one of the team who are trying to find three missing children. She has to put up with discrimination, suspicion and general misbehaviour from the local residents as well as from her colleagues. There are places where an outsider will never be accepted and there was little chance of Flossie ever being considered one of the team. By anybody. All of the attitudes were convincing and it was good to see that she was successful in her career.
In 1999, the storyline is more sinister. I was brought up on stories regarding the Witch trials but had never thought about how they affected the communities nearby. How the legends and history were still evident. Some I had heard before, but the novel shows the lesser known facts.
Many of the characters weren’t particularly likeable, and even though much of the treatment Flossie received was unnecessary she wasn’t an easy person to like. I did like the descriptions of the local people, I found them believable. The older ones, brought up on superstition, some who probably had families who had lived there 400 years earlier, at the time of the trials. And the younger ones who wanted to go to the cities to have a good time.

Beautiful Liars by Isabel Ashdown – Blog Tour Review.

 

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About the Book

Eighteen years ago Martha said goodbye to best friend Juliet on a moonlit London towpath.
The next morning Juliet’s bike was found abandoned at the waterside.
She was never seen again.

Nearly two decades later Martha is a TV celebrity, preparing to host a new crime show… and the first case will be that of missing student Juliet Sherman. After all these years Martha must reach out to old friends and try to piece together the final moments of Juliet’s life.

But what happens when your perfect friends turn out to be perfect strangers…?

My Review

With thanks to the publisher for the copy received via Netgalley.
Beautiful Liars is the first book that I have read by Isabel Ashdown and after finding this book impossible to put down it won’t be the last.
Apart from a chilling prologue, which had me wondering just how it could be linked, the rest of the novel had two narrators. Martha is a successful TV presenter who is researching a cold case for her new TV show. This cold case is very close to her heart. Juliet was a very close friend when she was a teenager and both her and another friend Liv have always felt guilty over her disappearance. The other narrator is Casey, she bought Liv’s house and when she receives a letter addressed to Liv from Martha she assumes her identity.
Casey was one of the most compelling characters that I have come across. I have never felt a combination of fear, a little revulsion and a lot of sympathy for one character before. I had to look past her actions to understand the reasons why she was behaving the way that she did and gradually the feelings of revulsion faded.
I find cold cases fascinating. The determination of a handful of people, whether they are police or media to solve a murder and bring peace to friends and family is humbling and is shown brilliantly here. Especially with regards to Juliet’s father and the guilt shown by both Martha and Liv. Some of it I guessed correctly, but only a small part. I was duped very convincingly.
Recommended.

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The Whitstable High Tide Swimming Club – Undertow by Katie May – Review.

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About the Book

THE WHITSTABLE HIGH TIDE SWIMMING CLUB is a serialized novel told in three parts – taking you through a year in the life of Deb (ageing bikini, sunglasses) and Maisie (black wetsuit, swimming shoes, goggles) and the other high tide swimmers. This is Part Two.
Deb has finally cut her feckless husband loose, but in many other ways her life is spiralling out of control. With no home, no money, and a chaotic love life, she finds an unusual way to keep both body and soul together.
She’s not even sure of her friendship with Maisie anymore. But there’s still something that bonds the two women together: their determination to stop anyone building on their beloved West Beach. And yet, as they begin to mount their protest, they find themselves threatened and ridiculed, and must fall back on every ounce of their resourcefulness to keep going.
What would they do without the High Tide Swimming Club, whose intrigues, dramas and escapades keep them afloat in troubled waters?

My Review

When I read the first part of this trilogy a few months ago I was surprised how much I liked it and I have been waiting impatiently ever since for part two. I placed it on pre -order and it arrived on my kindle on publication day.
It picks up exactly where it left off. The fight has increased between the developers and the swimming club regarding the building of bars and restaurants on the quieter area of the beach that the friends use. After a debate on the local radio station the knives are out between the local MP and Deb who refuses to back down.
But Maisie has other things on her mind and can’t give her full commitment to the fight. When she confides in Deb though she realises that she has more help than she thought.Deb’s life is still in a downturn, she needs somewhere to live and a job, has a very ungrateful daughter and a relationship that everybody else feels is unsuitable.
It is about as far removed from my usual choice of fiction as you can get and if it had been published in the usual format I probably wouldn’t have even noticed it. But the power of social media in regards to the publishing world brought it to my attention. It is a novel that makes you feel good about the world while you are reading it. There is the fight to protect what is important but it is all light-hearted. There is also poignancy and I feel that in part three I may need tissues. I hope I don’t have to wait long to read it.