The Hive by Scarlett Brade – Blog Tour Review.

About The Book

Charlotte Goodwin looks directly at the camera and reveals a chilling truth to the thousands watching her Instagram Live broadcast. She has killed her ex-boyfriend’s new partner in cold blood. But she is not finished yet. The viewers must nowvote to decide whether he should live or die.

The public display sends shockwaves rippling through the online community and the numbers of viewers skyrockets. But as Lincoln’s past is revealed, how will he be judged?

The Hive explores our darkest fears of the relationship between social media and mental health, but, most importantly, the strength of sisterhood against all the odds. 

My Review

With thanks to the publisher for the copy received. The Hive is one of those novels where I wasn’t certain what to expect. I do use social media but I am a bit clueless about the so called influencers who many people are fascinated with. So when followers and fans had to decide between #letlive or #letdie I was a little unsettled.

And I had quite a while to wait before I would find which way the online vote would go. It’s only in the latter stages of the novel that you see that sees the culmination of the prologue. But this is no great hardship, what happens in between is gripping.

When Charlotte gets involved with Linc, a famous boxer, she falls in love quickly and has dreams of their future together. She is overwhelmed by the social media following that comes because of their relationship, especially when things go badly wrong and everyone has an opinion. Most of it involving hatred of her and all of it with only no idea of the true situation. She is bewildered, grieving over what she has lost and isn’t coping. With this part of the novel the author shows how fickle social media can be and how easy it is to manipulate the truth. 

But, she is part of a strong group of women who have been friends for many years and who have overcome a lot since childhood. All of these women are a huge support to her and are trying to help her get over her relationship with Linc and the events that happened. This part of the novel forms most of the novel and I had as much sympathy for them as I did for her. Strangely, it isn’t really a depressing novel, the author shows her characters coping with their own trauma but she also manages to show how the friends can laugh together. They have a lot of respect for each other’s situation and cope in the way they know best. 

Whether the reader likes or loathes these characters doesn’t really matter. Many will judge, just like the followers. Others will judge because most of these characters are in some way criminals. What I got from reading this was that it was  a thoroughly original novel that had me cheering on those who suffered the most and a lot of entertainment.

Life Sentence by A. K. Turner – Review.

About The Book

Mortuary technician Cassie Raven believes the last thoughts of the dead linger like static in the air…

Cassie has always had a strange affinity with death, ever since her parents were killed in a car crash when she was four. At least that’s what she grew up believing…

But that was a lie. Cassie’s father is alive. He was convicted of murdering her mother and spent years behind bars. Now he’s out – and he’s looking for her.

He swears he didn’t do it. And Cassie wants to believe him.

To find the truth, she must turn detective. As she seeks answers, help is to be found in inexplicable places – for the dead are ready to talk.

My Review

With thanks to the publisher for the copy received. I read the first book in this series a few weeks ago and knew from that book alone that this would be a series I would enjoy. Cassie was a character that I liked a lot, mainly for her originality, compassion and determination to get an answer. Even if it meant putting herself in danger or making life harder for herself at work with superiors who didn’t like having to take advice from the ones they considered beneath them. 

Whilst there is focus on Cassie’s attempts to find out why one of her guests died, much of the novel shows her trying to find out who was responsible for her mother’s death. She is remembering more, after picking up scents from clothing, seeing photos etc and struggled at times with hearing the stories that friends of her mother told her. All combined with tales her beloved grandmother had always told her, that seemed more likely to be inaccurate. 

Phyllida Flyte, the detective, who she has tentatively built a friendship with does feature slightly less but seemed to have more of an impact. I felt I got to know her more, see her frustration at Cassie when she asks her to look for information that could get her in trouble. I could also see her feeling happier and being part of the team in her new position.

There are two others ‘characters’ I liked. Macavity, Cassie’s cat, who showed his disdain extremely well and another slightly unusual one. That was Camden, an area I do not know,but I felt like I was there. Feeling the buzz, and often the threat. It’s not something I feel often, but I do appreciate it when a community feels real.

Body Language by A. K. Turner – Review.

About The Book

Mortuary technician Cassie Raven believes the dead can talk. We just need to listen . . .

Cassie Raven is used to people thinking her job is strange – why would anyone want to cut up dead bodies for a living? But they don’t know what she knows: that the dead want to tell us what happened to them.

She’s eviscerated thousands of bodies, but never someone she knew, someone who meant a lot to her – until now.

The pathologist says her death was an accident. Her body is telling Cassie differently.

My Review

Body Language is the first in a series that features Cassie Raven. Whilst being a crime novel it is a little different, instead of being in the police Cassie is a mortuary assistant and she often communicates with the people who have died, especially in suspicious circumstances. This could have been a little creepy but I thought it was more like compassion. She seemed to sense that they had something to say. One of the people who ‘spoke’ to her was a woman who had been a huge help to Cassie, helped her change her life and now she wants to return the favour and find out why she has died.

I adored Cassie as soon as I met her. I loved her honesty regarding her past mistakes, her relationship with her grandmother and her determination to get justice for the dead. She felt remorse for mistakes made in the past and relationships that she had damaged with her inability to share but she was also loyal to friends. 

The detective she has an initial tetchy relationship with, Phylidda, is one I did struggle with at first  but I did soften a bit when I realised what her issues were. I did however have a lot of respect for her stubbornness in not giving up on something she wasn’t happy with. 

The author showed how fascinating and rewarding working in a mortuary could be. She didn’t baffle the reader with the science, instead she showed the detail of the job but with compassion and respect. Something which has been lacking in crime novels I have read previously. 

The Winter Guest by W. C. Ryan – Review – First Monday Crime.

About The Book

The drive leads past the gate house and through the trees towards the big house, visible through the winter-bared branches. Its windows stare down at Harkin and the sea beyond . . .

January 1921. Though the Great War is over, in Ireland a new, civil war is raging. The once-grand Kilcolgan House, a crumbling bastion shrouded in sea-mist, lies half empty and filled with ghosts – both real and imagined – the Prendevilles, the noble family within, co-existing only as the balance of their secrets is kept.

Then, when an IRA ambush goes terribly wrong, Maud Prendeville, eldest daughter of Lord Kilcolgan, is killed, leaving the family reeling. Yet the IRA column insist they left her alive, that someone else must have been responsible for her terrible fate. Captain Tom Harkin, an IRA intelligence officer and Maud’s former fiancé, is sent to investigate, becoming an unwelcome guest in this strange, gloomy household.

Working undercover, Harkin must delve into the house’s secrets – and discover where, in this fractured, embattled town, each family member’s allegiances truly lie. But Harkin too is haunted by the ghosts of the past and by his terrible experiences on the battlefields. Can he find out the truth about Maud’s death before the past – and his strange, unnerving surroundings – overwhelm him?

My Review

With thanks to the publisher for the copy received. I read a book by William Ryan a few years ago called The Constant Soldier and recommended it to everybody I know. I’m sure that I will be just as eager to do the same with this new book. 

In some ways it is completely different, it takes place in Ireland a few years after the end of WW1 and more importantly for this novel after the Easter Rising. The troubles in Ireland form a huge part of this storyline, the effect on the local smaller communities, the British ex military who are drafted in to quash any uprising and the methods in which they do so. I felt that these men didn’t give any thought to why people either wanted independence or not. They were just doing the same as what they did during the war, killing. To  my shame, I know little about this period in time and did have to dig deeper at times. 

I thought the similarities with The Constant Soldier were the descriptions of war and the effect it had on the soldiers. It was evident throughout how Harkin struggled with his experience. Most of the ghosts he saw were soldiers who he had known. These were at times harrowing to read despite the brevity and they increased my liking of him, I felt they showed his honesty and in some ways increased his determination to get the answers about Maud’s death. She was another whose ghost he saw, proving to me that his ghosts were people who had an impact on him at some time in his life. 

It could have been a depressing novel, a fractured country struggling with poverty and politics but there were characters who made me smile. Mrs Driscoll, Moira and Bourke especially. 

I found this novel fascinating for so many reasons but mainly for opening my eyes to a troubled time.

William Ryan will be participating in February’s First Monday Crime alongside Sam Blake, Liz Nugent and Jane Casey. You can watch via the Facebook page at 7.30pm on Monday 7th Feb.

The Art Of Death by David Fennell – Review – First Monday.

About The Book

Death is an art, and he is the master . . .

Three glass cabinets appear in London’s Trafalgar Square containing a gruesome art installation: the floating corpses of three homeless men. Shock turns to horror when it becomes clear that the bodies are real.

The cabinets are traced to @nonymous – an underground artist shrouded in mystery who makes a chilling promise: MORE WILL FOLLOW.

Eighteen years ago, Detective Inspector Grace Archer escaped a notorious serial killer. Now, she and her caustic DS, Harry Quinn, must hunt down another.

As more bodies appear at London landmarks and murders are livestreamed on social media, their search for @nonymous becomes a desperate race against time. But what Archer doesn’t know is that the killer is watching their every move – and he has his sights firmly set on her . . .

He is creating a masterpiece. And she will be the star of his show.

My Review

With thanks to the publisher for the copy received. The Art Of Death is an extremely sinister crime thriller where the victims are displayed as works of art around London. Grace Archer is heading the police team who are trying to find the perpetrator but she has more to deal with than just the crime. She is in a new position, in a station where she doesn’t expect to be made welcome after she had to arrest her predecessor. She also has to care for her ailing grandfather, her only family.

She does have her friends in the team though, Quinn who wasn’t one of her predecessor’s biggest fans and Klara, who is more than capable of ignoring snide comments and smirks. 

It was a novel where you got to meet some of the victims rather than their killer. You could see how they were coerced to their deaths and with some of them the horror they experienced when they realised they had been duped.  And with the others, I  felt sadness at knowing that they wouldn’t have their happy evening.

There were a few times early in the book that I felt I had missed an earlier novel, but it was just a different style of writing. Both Grace’s and Quinn’s past are revealed much later in the novel. Most of the novel does focus on Grace but there poignant scenes that featured another victim. I felt quite tense reading these, hoping for a happy ending.

Not as believable as many crime thrillers but very entertaining and I read it very quickly. I hope that this book will become a series, I see huge potential for Grace, Quinn and a hopefully united team.