The Dinner Guest by B P Walter

Thank you to One More Chapter and Harper Collins UK for the opportunity to read and review a digital copy via NetGalley. I’m taking part in the OMC Blogger Readalong this week and here is a mini non spoiler review.

Synopsis:

Four people walked into the dining room that night. One would never leave.

Matthew: the perfect husband.

Titus: the perfect son.

Charlie: the perfect illusion.

Rachel: the perfect stranger.

Charlie didn’t want her at the book club. Matthew wouldn’t listen.

And that’s how Charlie finds himself slumped beside his husband’s body, their son sitting silently at the dinner table, while Rachel calls 999, the bloody knife still gripped in her hand.

Classic crime meets Donna Tartt in this nerve-shredding domestic noir thriller that weaves a sprawling web of secrets around an opulent West London world and the dinner that ends in death.

My thoughts:

This was an interesting read. Rachel is arrested for the murder of Matthew after confessing to the police, but was she the killer? The synopsis mentions the word perfect four times – but were any of the four perfect?

The story moves back and forwards in time, as we discover more about how Matthew and Charlie met, and how they met Rachel. This story features secrets and lies, revenge and betrayal.

Few of the characters in the story were likeable but I was keen to keep reading, to find out who killed Matthew, and why. I enjoyed the story and I’m happy to recommend it. It is currently 99p on the Kindle in the UK.

The Shape of Darkness by Laura Purcell

Today I’m thrilled to be sharing my thoughts about this stunning book. Thank you to Anne Cater of Random Things Tours for the invite to the blog tour for The Shape of Darkness by Laura Purcell and to Raven Books/ Bloomsbury Books for a gorgeous proof copy to read and review.

Synopsis:

As the age of the photograph dawns in Victorian Bath, silhouette artist Agnes is struggling to keep her business afloat. Still recovering from a serious illness herself, making enough money to support her elderly mother and her orphaned nephew Cedric has never been easy, but then one of her clients is murdered shortly after sitting for Agnes, and then another, and another… Why is the killer seemingly targeting her business?

Desperately seeking an answer, Agnes approaches Pearl, a child spirit medium lodging in Bath with her older half-sister and her ailing father, hoping that if Pearl can make contact with those who died, they might reveal who killed them.

But Agnes and Pearl quickly discover that instead they may have opened the door to something that they can never put back…

Today is the last day of the blog tour but please check out the reviews from my fellow bloggers listed below too.

My thoughts:

This is the first book I’ve read by Laura Purcell despite having two of her books sat waiting on my Kindle. I had seen glowing reviews on social media about this book and was thrilled to have the opportunity to read and review for the blog tour.

The book takes us back to Bath in Victorian times, but not to the genteel Bath we see in period dramas, but to the dark and creepy streets, where money is tight and people disappear in the night.

This is a no spoiler review, so I need to be very careful about what I write so that I don’t spoil this well plotted story. Agnes has been left unmarried and fatherless, so earns money to look after her family by cutting out silhouettes of paying customers. As the story progresses we meet her doctor and start to receive snippets of information about an accident, an illness she nearly died from, a lost fiancé, a dead sister. The people Agnes prepare silhouettes for start to die, leading to Agnes meeting young Pearl, who may be able to communicate with the dead.

This is a very clever story, with small hints/fake news being shared in each chapter, so that this poor reader had a number of suspects in the frame for the murders. However, I was totally wrong and didn’t guess the ending. I loved the way the story evolved, getting darker and more twisted. This was my favourite book of January 2021 and I’m sure will be in my top 20 books of 2021. I’m off to read more books by Laura Purcell – with a bright light on.

Author Bio:

Laura Purcell is a former bookseller and lives in Colchester with her husband and pet guinea pigs. Her first novel for Raven Books, The Silent Companions, was a Radio 2 and Zoe Ball ITV Book Club pick and was the winner of the WHSmith Thumping Good Read Award, while her subsequent books – The Corset and Bone China – established Laura as the queen of the sophisticated, and spooky, page-turner.

laurapurcell.com |@spookypurcell

Laura Purcell is available for features, interviews and events. For more information please contact Emilie Chambeyron on emilie.chambeyron@bloomsbury.com

The Curious Dispatch of Daniel Costello by Chris McDonald #TheStonebridgeMysteries

Today I’m thrilled to be sharing my thoughts about the first in the series of The Stonebridge Mysteries by Chris McDonald, a novella published recently by Red Dog Press. This is a no spoiler review. Thanks to Meggy for the invitation to read and review.

Synopsis:

Wedding bells are chiming in the idyllic, coastal town of Stonebridge. For Sam and Emily, it should be the happiest day of their lives. But on the morning of the ceremony, the best man is found dead. The police quickly write his death off as a tragic accident, but something doesn’t seem right to wedding guest and groomsman, Adam Whyte.

Armed with an encyclopaedic, but ultimately ridiculous knowledge of television detective shows and an unwarranted confidence in his own abilities, Adam and his best friend (and willing Watson) Colin, set out to uncover what actually happened to Daniel Costello.

Buy links:

Amazon Link: mybook.to/Stonebridge

Red Dog Press: https://www.reddogpress.co.uk/shop

My thoughts:

This is the first book I’ve read by Chris McDonald and I’m already looking forward to reading more of the Stonebridge series. I have seen great reviews for Chris’s DI Erika Piper Series but must admit that I prefer a cosy mystery at the moment (I also enjoyed reading the Hardy Boys and Nancy Drew as a teenager).

This is a book I read in one sitting. Adam and Colin are determined to prove that Daniel’s death wasn’t an accidental alcohol induced death. Channelling their inner Sherlock and Watson, they work together to piece together the events of the previous evening and night, to see who may want to harm the best man the night before the wedding.

Loved the story, the humour and the friendship between Adam and Colin. This book was a welcome escape from the reality of 2021 and I’m happy to recommend it to fans of cosy mysteries.

Author Bio:

Originally hailing from the north coast of Northern Ireland and now residing in South Manchester, Chris McDonald has always been a reader. At primary school, The Hardy Boys inspired his love of adventure before his reading world was opened up by Chuck Palahniuk and the gritty world of crime. A Wash of Black is his first attempt at writing a book. He came up with the initial idea whilst feeding his baby in the middle of the night, which may not be the best thing to admit, considering the content. He is a fan of 5-a-side football, heavy metal and dogs. Whispers in the Dark is the second installment in the DI Erika Piper series, and Chris is currently working on his latest series, The Stonebridge Mysteries, to be published by Red Dog Press in 2021. 

The Marriage of Innis Wilkinson by Lauren H. Brandenburg

I’m pleased to join the blog tour for The Marriage of Innis Wilkinson, organised by Fern Lindsey-Tolley of Lion Hudson. Thank you for a paperback copy of the book, my thoughts are my own and not influenced by the gift.

Synopsis:

It is said that something magical happens during the festival season in Coraloo, something unexplainable. People tend to be a little crazier, reckless. Maybe it’s because it coincides the full moon, but Coraloo’s constable, Roy Blackwell, is beginning to think it’s something else. That said, Roy has other things on his mind, like marrying Margarette Toft. A controversial decision as the Toft and the Blackwell families have a hatred for one another that is older than the town itself.

Tradition collides with superstition as the feuding families compete to organize the events surrounding the most talked about wedding in the history of Coraloo. Despite the array of minor catastrophes that ensue, and the timings clashing with a four-week long festival celebrating a legendary beaver, Roy and Margarette hold fast and declare they will do whatever it takes to wed.

That is until Roy unearths a town secret – a murder involving a pair of scissors, an actor with a severe case of kleptomania, and the mysterious marriage of Innis Wilkinson. Can good come out of unearthing the past – or will only heartbreak follow?

My thoughts:

This is the first book I’ve read by Lauren, so I haven’t read the The Death of Mungo Blackwell, where the Blackwell and Toft families were introduced. However that didn’t cause any problems to understanding the story here.

Coraloo sounds like an old fashioned town in the United States, where tradition is very important and the slightest change causes shock. The engagement of Margarette Toft and Roy Blackwell causes a huge shock to the feuding Toft and Blackwell families – suddenly they will be linked by marriage.

There are some fantastic quirky (and slightly scary) characters in this story and poor Margarette does her best to please both families whilst planning her wedding in a few weeks and working full time as a teacher. Roy Blackwell is the local Constable, who sees very little crime but then discovers a possible past murder linked to Innis Wilkinson.

This is very different from anything else I’ve read this year, and I really enjoyed it. There is plenty of drama, intrigue, romance and fun for everyone to enjoy. I did find myself wondering if the engaged couple should elope to be able to have the wedding they actually wanted and deserved, but I’m pleased to say that Lauren provided a wonderful alternative ending. Happy to recommend this charming story.

Author Bio:

Lauren H. Brandenburg happily blurs the lines between traditional genres in both middle grade and humorous contemporary fiction. Lauren is a former junior high and high school English teacher who stepped away from her profession to raise and homeschool her two children. She currently lives with her husband, Jamie, and their children in a lovely little town just south of Nashville, Tennessee where they eat and laugh a lot.

www.LaurenHBrandenburg.com

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.

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