Hermit by S R White

I’m pleased to be sharing my 5 star review for Hermit by S.R. White on the final day of the blog tour organised by Emily Patience at Headline Publishing Group. This debut novel was published last week in the UK. Thank you to Headline for a proof copy – my thoughts are my own and not influenced by the gift.

Synopsis:

HE DISAPPEARED FOR 15 YEARS…SHE HAS 12 HOURS TO FIND OUT WHY

After a puzzling death in the wild bushlands of Australia, detective Dana Russo has just hours to interrogate the prime suspect – a silent, inscrutable man found at the scene of the crime, who disappeared without trace 15 years earlier.

But where has he been? Why won’t he talk? And exactly how dangerous is he? Without conclusive evidence to prove his guilt, Dana faces a desperate race against time to persuade him to speak. But as each interview spirals with fevered intensity, Dana must reckon with her own traumatic past to reveal the shocking truth . . .

Compulsive, atmospheric and stunningly accomplished, HERMIT introduces a thrilling new voice in Australian crime fiction, perfect for fans of Jane Harper and Chris Hammer.

My thoughts:

When an email arrived from Emily at Headline asking if I would like to review a new book by a debut author I read the ‘blurb’ and quickly replied with a yes please. How could someone disappear for 15 years?

The book starts early in the morning as we are introduced to Dana. I did struggle a little with the first chapter due to having lost my sibling to depression and suicide. We don’t know why Dana is struggling with this day, just that it is the anniversary of something in her past. However a phone call changes her day.

I enjoyed the development of the characters. Dana is a detective in Carlton in rural Australia. Her colleagues Mike, Lucy and Bill recognise that Dana works in a particular way and support her fully. The murder suspect is Nathan Whittler, who disappeared 15 years ago and was found at Jensen’s store with the body of the owner, Lou Cassavette.

The story builds slowly as Dana carefully encourages Nathan to explain where he has been for the past 15 years AND what happened in the store. In between the interview sessions, Dana meets with her colleagues to find out more about the hunt for a weapon, Nathan’s hiding place and people who knew Nathan before he vanished.

This is a slow build up crime thriller, full of small details and personality development. The ending left me needing a sequel, to be able to find out more about Dana. I’m happy to recommend this book to anyone who enjoys mystery and/or crime fiction and I’m looking forward to reading more from S.R. White in the future.

Amazon purchase link : https://www.amazon.co.uk/dp/B081CKGT1G/ref=cm_sw_em_r_mt_dp_iuWAFbNQFWW4J

Waterstones purchase link: https://www.waterstones.com/book/hermit/s-r-white/9781472268419

Author Bio:

S.R. White worked for a UK police force for twelve years, before returning to academic life and taking an MA in Creative Writing at Nottingham Trent University. He now lives in Queensland, Australia.

The Cutting Place by Jane Casey

Today I’m sharing my review for The Cutting Place by Jane Casey again, having originally shared this back in April 2020, to show the newly published paperback cover.

Synopsis:

Everyone’s heard the rumours about elite gentlemen’s clubs, where the champagne flows freely, the parties are the height of decadence . . . and the secrets are darker than you could possibly imagine.

DS Maeve Kerrigan finds herself in an unfamiliar world of wealth, luxury and ruthless behaviour when she investigates the murder of a young journalist, Paige Hargreaves. Paige was working on a story about the Chiron Club, a private society for the richest and most privileged men in London. Then she disappeared. 

It’s clear to Maeve that the members have many secrets. But Maeve is hiding secrets of her own – even from her partner DI Josh Derwent. Will she uncover the truth about Paige’s death? Or will time run out for Maeve first?

My thoughts:

4.5 stars

Thank you to Harper Collins for a digital review copy via Readers First – my thoughts are my own. This is the first book I’ve read by Jane Casey and I was surprised to discover there are 8 previous Maeve Kerrigan books.

The opening chapters set the scene well – the discovery of Paige, the tension between Maeve and some of her colleagues, the ‘new’ relationship with Seth.

I enjoyed this crime fiction book – there was humour (sometimes dark), intrigue, secrets and twists. Even if you haven’t read any of the previous Maeve Kerrigan books (I’m assuming I’m not the only one), then hopefully you will enjoy it as much as I did.



View all my reviews

The Dentist by Tim Sullivan

I’m pleased to be joining the blog tour for the debut novel, The Dentist by Tim Sullivan, organised by Emma of damppebbles.com today. This book is currently free as a ebook on the Kindle.

Synopsis:

A homeless man. Violently strangled. No leads. Except his past.

An outsider himself, DS George Cross is drawn to this case. The discovery of the dead man’s connection to an old cold case then pulls Cross in further. Convinced this is where the answer to the murder lies, he sets about solving another that someone has spent the past fifteen years thinking they’ve got away with. 

Cross’ relentless obsession with logic, detail and patterns is what makes him so irritatingly brilliant. It doesn’t exactly make him popular with colleagues or his superiors, though. He has numerous enemies in the force wanting to see him fail.

Red flags are soon raised as suspicious inconsistencies and errors in the original detective’s investigation come to light. Now retired, this ex-cop has powerful friends in the force and a long-standing dislike of Cross. 

Set in picturesque Bristol in the Southwest of England, it’s not long before the city reveals its dark underbelly, in a case of intriguing twists and turns whose result astonishes even those involved.

Difficult and awkward, maybe. But Cross has the best conviction rate in Avon & Somerset Police. By far. Will this case put an end to that?

My thoughts:

I have to be honest – if I had seen the title of this book in a bookshop or online, I would probably have avoided it – thinking it was about a psychotic dentist. Thankfully, Emma from damppebbles sent out the blurb of the book and this piqued my interest (as did the setting of Bristol – my eldest is off to University there in a couple of weeks time).

I’m pleased to say that Tim Sullivan has created a wonderful set of characters. DS George Cross is a brilliant detective, who has a super power – he has Aspergers, so sees the world in a different way to many of his colleagues. He is a man of routine, who needs everything to be done properly and in a specific way (for example, his food mustn’t touch other food on his plate). His work partner is Ottey, who tries to understand him and to help him negotiate a world full of challenges and social expectations. We also meet George’s dad, Raymond who is a retired engineer and hoarder. Hopefully we will find out more about them as the series about DS Cross progresses.

The dentist, in the title, is the homeless murder victim. Cross and Ottey need to solve a number of puzzles including another murder from 15 years earlier to enable them to solve this murder. The story builds slowly as we meet the characters, then the tension increases as Cross and his small team track down information and potential witnesses. This is a no spoilers review so I’m not going to drop any hints about the plot. This is a book I’m happy to recommend to fans of crime fiction and I’m looking forward to meeting DS Cross again in The Cyclist later this year.

Author Bio:

About Tim Sullivan:

TIM SULLIVAN made his first short film before graduating from Cambridge University. His ambition to become a screenwriter was formed not so much by this experience but as an attempt to foil his father’s determination to turn him into a lawyer.

Within weeks of leaving university armed with a law degree he had met the film maker Derek Jarman and persuaded him to commission an original screenplay from him entitled BOB UPADOWN and so a career was born.

A few months later he joined Granada Television as a researcher. Here he was commissioned to write the first of many television scripts for the company. Two sitcoms entitled THE TRAIN NOW LEAVING and THE GREASY SPOON followed by the crime dramas MYSTERIOUS WAYS and MAIGRET.

While at Granada he was selected for the prestigious Directors’ Training scheme when only 26. Previous encumbents had included Mike Newell, Roland Joffe, and Michael Apted, more recently Julian Farino. Among other credits he directed CORONATION STREET, MADE IN HEAVEN, THATCHER THE FINAL DAYS and THE CASEBOOK OF SHERLOCK HOLMES with Jeremy Brett.

During this time he also co wrote the screenplays for the movies A HANDFUL OF DUST starring Kristen Scott Thomas, Judi Dench and Alec Guinness and WHERE ANGELS FEAR TO TREAD starring Helen Mirren and Helena Bonham Carter, both with producer the legendary TV producer Derek Granger (BRIDESHEAD REVISITED).

Upon leaving the bosom of Granada and venturing into the wild wide world of the freelance film maker he wrote and directed the movie JACK AND SARAH starring Richard E Grant, Samantha Mathis, Ian Mckellen, Judi Dench and Eileen Atkins. This led to a commission from New Line Pictures to write the screenplay WALKING PAPERS based on the Jay Cronley novel of the same name.

This screenplay came to the attention of execs at Universal and Imagine who then asked Tim to do a page one rewrite of a western for Ron Howard entitled THE PRETENDERS. Tim enjoyed working with Ron for over a year on this.

He then wrote an original screenplay, PERSONAL SHOPPING, which was promptly snapped up by Paramount for producer Scott Rudin.

He spent four months working for and with Jeffrey Katzenberg at Dreamworks animation as a production writer on the movie FLUSHED AWAY. Impressed by his work Katzenberg commissioned him to write a script for SHREK 4 which wasn’t used as a different storyline was decided upon as a director came on board.

During this time he was actively involved in British television directing the last ever ninety minute episode of the BAFTA award winning series COLD FEET. As well as a TV movie for ITV called CATWALK DOGS written by Simon Nye.

He was commissioned by the BBC to write a pilot for a TV series he invented called BACKSTORY as well as another pilot for the ITV network entitled OFFSPRING.

He also wrote HIS MASTER’S VOICE for the BBC as a radio play starring Rob Brydon which was broadcast in 2015.

He recently wrote the screenplay for LETTERS TO JULIET starring Amanda Seyfried and Vanessa Redgrave.

Oscar winning producers of The King’s Speech, Iain Canning and Emile Sherman then commissioned an original screenplay from him entitled THE WEDDING DRESS.

Tim is writing and co-producing and co-writing an animated feature screenplay for Hasbro and Paramount which is in production and scheduled for release in 2021.

He has now embarked on a series of crime novels featuring the eccentric and socially-awkward, but brilliantly persistent DS George Cross. Set in Bristol in the south west of England, Cross’ methods often infuriate his colleagues and superiors “not so much a thorn in my side as a pain in my arse,” according to his boss DCI Carson. But his conviction rate, thanks to his dogged persistence and attention to detail, is the best in the force. The DENTIST is in the first of a series.

Tim lives in North London with his wife Rachel, the Emmy award-winning producer of THE BAREFOOT CONTESSA and PIONEER WOMAN.

He is currently the UK chair of the Writers’ Guild of America (West).

Social Media:

Twitter: https://twitter.com/TimJRSullivan

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/timjrsullivan/

Website: https://timsullivan.uk/

Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/timsullivannovelist/

Purchase Links:

Amazon UK: https://amzn.to/3ginNGt

Amazon US: https://amzn.to/3gjS7AB

Waterstones: https://bit.ly/3hnLO0b

Barnes and Noble: https://bit.ly/2QksVPQ

Book Depository: https://bit.ly/2Ewm2IQ

Publishing Information:

Published in paperback and digital formats on 15th June 2020

Additional Information:

The Cyclist (DS George Cross #2) was published on 2nd September 2020 and is available to purchase NOW!

Not the Deaths Imagined by Anne Pettigrew

I’m pleased to be sharing my review for Not the Deaths Imagined by Anne Pettigrew today to kick off the blog tour organised by Emma at damppebbles for Ringwood Publishing. Thank you to the publisher for my digital review copy – my thoughts are my own and not influenced by the gift. This is the first book by Anne Pettigrew I have read.

Synopsis:

In a leafy Glasgow suburb, Dr Beth Semple is busy juggling motherhood and full-time GP work in the 90s NHS. But her life becomes even more problematic when she notices some odd deaths in her neighbourhood. Though Beth believes the stories don’t add up, the authorities remain stubbornly unconvinced.

Soon, Beth’s professional reputation is challenged. There follows a chilling campaign of harassment and she finds her professional reputation – and her family – are put at risk.

Is a charming local GP actually a serial killer? Can Beth piece together the jigsaw of perplexing fatalities and perhaps save lives? And as events accelerate towards a dramatic conclusion, will the police intervene in time?

From the author of Not the Life Imagined, this slow-burning tartan noir novel from a Bloody Scotland Crime Spotlight author follows Beth on another quest for justice. Reflecting Pettigrew’s own medical expertise, Not The Deaths Imagined re-affirms the benefits of growing up in a loving family and the need for friends in hard times, while offering insight into the twisted development of a psychopathic mind.

My thoughts:

As I said at the start of the blog post, this is the first book I’ve read by Anne Pettigrew and I hadn’t realised that a previous book (Not the Life Imagined) would introduce many of the characters. I was able to read this without reading the previous book, but if you have the opportunity, you may prefer to read them in the correct order.

The main character Beth, is a busy GP and mother, who cares deeply about her patients, family and friends. Sadly, another local doctor, cares more about his image, lining his pockets with ill gotten gains and helping speed up the death of elderly, well to do, patients.

The book is set in the 1990’s and for those of us old enough to remember, a British GP was convicted of being a serial killer during this decade. As a former GP, Anne shows us, just how easy it was for a devious GP to take advantage of the patients and get away with committing ‘perfect’ murders for long periods of time. However this isn’t a non fiction book about that case, but a well written crime fiction novel primarily about the medical profession, with plenty of twists and turns, family dramas, a dog called Winston and lots of delicious sounding meals.

The suspense of the story built nicely, and I found myself getting frustrated at being interrupted when I was reading the book. For the final chapters, I hid myself away from the family, so I could enjoy the story fully. This is a no spoiler review, so I will just say that I enjoyed the end of the story and was holding my breath in a few places as the tension peaked.

I enjoyed this book and look forward to reading more in the future from Anne Pettigrew.

Author Bio:

A graduate of Glasgow (Medicine) and Wolfson College, Oxford (Anthropology), Anne Pettigrew has been a GP, worked in psychiatry, family planning/sexual health, lecturing, patient/women doctors pressure groups, BMA Media relations, Homeopathy, acupuncture, an EEC Committee, book reviewing and journalism (medico-political and humorous articles to The Herald, Doctor newspaper etc: a Channel 4 Despatches). Retiring from practice, she became a wedding planner for a charity theatre, before starting Creative Writing classes and mentoring at Glasgow University. She is now a member of Garnethill critical writer’s forum and has won short story and article trophies in Greenock Writer’s Club. Not the life Imagined was runner up in the Scottish Association of Writers’ Constable Silver Stag Award 2018. The book was originally called No Sinecure, a title abandoned as no one under 35 in any class or group she joined knew what ‘sinecure’ meant (though some suggested it was apt, the book featuring ‘sin’ in those who ‘cure!’) Two more books are underway. Anne has two grown up children and lives with her husband in North Ayrshire.

Social Media:

Twitter: https://twitter.com/pettigrew_anne

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/annepettigrewauthor/

Website: https://annepettigrew.co.uk/

Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/anne.pettigrew.author/

Purchase Links:

Amazon UK: https://amzn.to/3hGmFOF

Amazon US: https://amzn.to/2EQdPit

Waterstones: https://bit.ly/3b8eVCk

Ringwood Publishing: https://bit.ly/2EQCMe0

Fifty Fifty by Steve Cavanagh

Today I’m thrilled to be sharing my no spoiler review for the latest book by Steve Cavanagh, published on 3rd September 2020 and now a Richard and Judy BookClub pick. Thank you to Orion Publishing for a digital review copy via NetGalley – my thoughts are my own and not influenced by the gift.

Synopsis:

Two sisters on trial for murder. They accuse each other.
Who do YOU believe?

‘911 what’s your emergency?’

‘My dad’s dead. My sister Sofia killed him. She’s still in the house. Please send help.’

‘My dad’s dead. My sister Alexandra killed him. She’s still in the house. Please send help.’

One of them is a liar and a killer.

But which one?

Alexandra Avellino has just found her father’s mutilated body, and needs the police right away. She believes her sister killed him, and that she is still in the house with a knife. 

Sofia Avellino has just found her father’s mutilated body and needs the police right away. She believes her sister, Alexandra did it, and that she is still in the house, locked in the bathroom. 

Both women are to go on trial at the same time. A joint trial in front of one jury. 

But one of these women is lying. One of them is a murderer. Sitting in a jail cell, about to go on trial with her sister for murder, you might think that this is the last place she expected to be. 

You’d be wrong.

My thoughts:

So I’m starting this review with a couple of confessions. Firstly, I hadn’t heard of Steve Cavanagh or the Eddie Flynn series until I started reading the digital proof copy. I also hadn’t requested the digital proof copy, but had shared a post about it to fellow book bloggers, and then had a copy sent to me via NetGalley.

However, I started seeing great reviews, so decided to put my blog tour books to one side and travel to New York to find out more. As a British Law graduate, I’m always fascinated by how different our legal system is to that in the USA. Twenty plus years ago I enjoyed reading John Grisham books, now I’ve discovered the storytelling of Steve Cavanagh.

I will now need to go back to read the earlier Eddie Flynn novels, but was able to catch up quickly on the story and read this without having read the previous books. Eddie is a great character, a lawyer with lots of contacts in unusual places, who wants to stop innocent people going to prison.

The story kept me guessing until the end, would it be Sofia or Alexandra (or both) who killed their father. Alongside this rollercoaster ride, we also have a sexism in the workplace storyline.

With an excellent storyline and superb storytelling, this is one of my 5 star reads of 2020.

Author Bio:

Steve Cavanagh is a critically acclaimed, best-selling, award-winning author of the Eddie Flynn series. His third novel, The Liar, won the CWA Gold Dagger for Crime Novel of the year 2018. He is also one half of the Two Crime Writers and a Microphone podcast. His latest novel, Twisted, is out now and is a Sunday Times Bestseller. 

The Eddie Flynn series can be read in any order, but the list in full in order of publication is as follows: 
The Defence
The Cross (ebook exclusive novella)
The Plea
The Liar
Thirteen

Standalone books – Twisted. 

Find out more at http://www.stevecavanagh.com or follow Steve on Twitter @SSCav

The Blitz Detective by Mike Hollow

I’m pleased to share my review for The Blitz Detective by Mike Hollow, published by Allison and Busby last week. Thank you to the publisher for a digital review copy via NetGalley – my thoughts are my own and not influenced by the gift. This book was published previously as Direct Hit (The Blitz Detective).

Synopsis:

Saturday 7th September, 1940.

The sun is shining, and in the midst of the good weather Londoners could be mistaken for forgetting their country was at war – until the familiar wail of the air-raid sirens heralds an enemy attack. The Blitz has started, and normal life has abruptly ended – but crime has not.

That night a man’s body is discovered in an unmarked van in the back streets of West Ham. When Detective Inspector John Jago is called to the scene, he recognises the victim: local Justice of the Peace, Charles Villiers. The death looks suspicious, but then a German bomb obliterates all evidence. War or no war, murder is still murder, and it’s Jago’s job to find the truth.

My thoughts:

I enjoyed this crime fiction / historical fiction book. I must admit that I was initially drawn to the book after reading the synopsis because the victim’s surname is Villiers and I am employed by the social mobility charity Villiers Park Educational Trust.

An older detective is working with a young detective to solve a murder of a local businessman and magistrate, complicated by the evidence being destroyed by a German bomb. I enjoyed the criminal investigations and also the historical details – 1940’s London was brought to life.

I look forward to reading more of the books featuring DI Jago – a number of the other books by Mike Hollow in the series are being republished by Allison and Busby over the next few months.

Mike Hollow information (from Goodreads):

I first got into print when I was eleven. A boys’ comic published a feeble limerick I’d sent them and paid me five shillings, a fat sum at that age. But the postal order was nothing compared with seeing my words in print.

After that I kept writing – teenage poems for a late-1960s “underground magazine”, then grown-up poems, and later a happy mix of copywriting, journalism, editing and translating. All ways of getting paid for playing with words.

My CV? I was born in 1953 in the Essex County Borough of West Ham – home of the Blitz Detective – on the eastern edge of London. I grew up mainly in Romford and went to the Royal Liberty School, then studied Russian and French at Cambridge University.

My first job was translating for the BBC, and I did various jobs there for sixteen years before moving to work in communications for development agency Tearfund, travelling widely in Africa, Asia and Latin America. In 2002 I went freelance as a writer, editor and creative project manager. Now I earn a living by translating and spend the rest of my time in the cellar of my house in Hampshire chronicling the adventures of the Blitz Detective.

Why write detective novels? Because I enjoy reading them and I love to create entertaining stories. Why set them in that place and time? Because overnight the Blitz turned everyday existence into a life-and-death struggle for ordinary people – and some of them were my family. 

Lockdown by Peter May #Spoilers



Thank you to Quercus Books for the digital review copy of Lockdown back in April 2020. Apologies for the delay in reading and reviewing my first read of a Peter May book. My thoughts are my own and not influenced by the gift.

Synposis:

Written over fifteen years ago, this prescient, suspenseful thriller is set against a backdrop of a capital city in quarantine, and explores human experience in the grip of a killer virus.

‘They said that twenty-five percent of the population would catch the flu. Between seventy and eighty percent of them would die. He had been directly exposed to it, and the odds weren’t good.’ 

A CITY IN QUARANTINE

London, the epicenter of a global pandemic, is a city in lockdown. Violence and civil disorder simmer. Martial law has been imposed. No-one is safe from the deadly virus that has already claimed thousands of victims. Health and emergency services are overwhelmed. 

A MURDERED CHILD

At a building site for a temporary hospital, construction workers find a bag containing the rendered bones of a murdered child. A remorseless killer has been unleashed on the city; his mission is to take all measures necessary to prevent the bones from being identified. 

A POWERFUL CONSPIRACY

D.I. Jack MacNeil, counting down the hours on his final day with the Met, is sent to investigate. His career is in ruins, his marriage over and his own family touched by the virus. Sinister forces are tracking his every move, prepared to kill again to conceal the truth. Which will stop him first – the virus or the killers?

My thoughts:

I finally started the book during week 11 of lockdown in the UK. It was fascinating to see how Peter May had imagined a pandemic would affect London – the army checkpoints, curfews, the mass cremations etc – a very sobering read.

However the majority of the book is actually a murder investigation by D.I. Jack MacNeil, a Scottish man living and working in London. This is his last day working for the police before leaving to spend time with his young son – a day (and night) spent investigating the death of a young girl.

Despite the gruesome subject matter of murder and pandemics I enjoyed the majority of the book and would have given it a 4.5 star rating. However, the last 10-15% of the story was so unbelievable (in terms of Pinkie) that my enjoyment of the book and subsequent rating was dramatically reduced.

I know other readers have enjoyed the book and that this is my personal opinion, but I would love to see the ending rewritten because the majority of the book was an excellent read.

I recommend the book to be read to see how close to the real events of 2020 Peter May had imagined in 2005, but not as realistic crime fiction novel.



View all my reviews

The Weight of Small Things by Julie Lancaster

Synopsis

Nine-year-old Frankie Appleton likes to count gates.

One day she hopes to design the perfect gate – a gate to keep the bad things out.

Little does she know that the bad things have already got in.

Now her mother is dead, and the only other person with a house key has disappeared.

Frankie thinks she knows who it is. But first she has to prove it.

A delicately brutal exploration of what lies behind closed doors, and of the secrets and lies that form the fabric of every family, The Weight of Small Things is as charming as it is chilling.

My thoughts:

Thank you to Mirror Books for inviting me to read a digital proof via NetGalley – my thoughts are my own.

This was a difficult book to read due to the subject matter. I work with young people and the story kept shouting ‘safeguarding issue’.

The positives – Frankie is determined to get on with life despite the tough start to life she has had – she is a resourceful young girl who has been surrounded by a set of adults with major issues. She is determined to prove that her mother was murdered and the story is full of twists before we find out what really happened to Peggy.

The negatives – the stories are very dark – rape, suicide, prison, murder, child abuse.

I did read the book through to the end because I wanted to know what happened to Frankie, but I found the ending to be rather abrupt – I’m not sure if the final copy would have some further information. If you enjoy crime fiction, then you may wish to read a copy of this.