Thursday, 16 May 2019

Breaking The Lore - Andy Redsmith

A magical, mischievous mystery perfect for fans of Douglas Adams and Ben Aaronovitch
How do you stop a demon invasion... when you don’t believe in magic?
Inspector Nick Paris is a man of logic and whisky. So staring down at the crucified form of a murder victim who is fifteen centimetres tall leaves the seasoned detective at a loss… and the dead fairy is only the beginning.

Suddenly the inspector is offering political asylum to dwarves, consulting with witches, getting tactical advice from elves and taking orders from a chain-smoking talking crow who, technically, outranks him.

With the fate of both the human and magic worlds in his hands, Nick will have to leave logic behind and embrace his inner mystic to solve the crime and stop an army of demons from invading Manchester!

Oh this book! It's been a while since a book has made me snigger whilst reading and Breaking The Lore succeeded more than once. I was reading this on the train and I'm pretty sure this is why people were giving me odd looks...

Compared to Ben Aaronovitch and Douglas Adams, Breaking The Lore is the story of Inspector Nick Paris, or Mr. Parrots if you're a dwarf, Nipparis if you're a (friendly) demon, who would like us to think he's a tough, hard-drinking, Northern police officer but when faced with the execution of a fifteen centimetre tall fairy, he's anything but. Confronted by the fact that magic does indeed exist, the inspector's investigation team soon consists of some interesting characters including his sergeant, Bonetti, not the brightest spark in the box but you have to admire someone who thinks Finding Nemo is a documentary! There's Cassandra, their 'magical' expert and human, a chivalrous elf, a troll princess, a demon Knight, and a talking crow with a penchant for cigarettes!

Breaking The Lore is a pun-filled, fantastical detective novel with plenty to recommend it. At 321 pages it was the perfect length to get to know our motley collection of characters, to be introduced to a side of Manchester that we never knew we wanted to exist, and to get completely absorbed by centaurs and the king & queen of the fairies. The queen, by the way, is not called Titania but Gladys, short for Gladioli! The mystery has plenty of magic filled twists and turns which will keep you guessing until the very end, the whole explanation for the existence of magic is almost completely plausible, and while this first adventure is all wrapped up by the end of the story I'm very much looking forward to seeing what Mr. Parrots does next.

Huge thanks to Andy Redsmith and Canelo via Netgalley for a copy of the book!

Breaking The Lore - Andy Redsmith
Publisher - Canelo
Release date - April 15th, 2019

About The Author

Andy Redsmith was born in Liverpool and grew up in Runcorn. For university, he moved the enormous distance to Salford and has lived in Manchester ever since. He says the people there are great, but we don’t talk about football.

He worked for many years as a project manager in the computing industry, a job which really is every bit as exciting as it sounds. Eventually, the call of writing became too hard to ignore and he went off to do that instead. Over the years in IT he worked with some very clever people and some complete weirdos, none of whom bear any resemblance to the characters in his books. Honest...

He has a wonderful wife, a great son, and a loft full of old Marvel comics. One day he’ll get round to selling them. That’s the comics, not the family.

Monday, 22 April 2019

Fallen Angel - Chris Brookmyre

To new nanny Amanda, the Temple family seem to have it all: the former actress; the famous professor; their three successful grown-up children. But like any family, beneath the smiles and hugs there lurks far darker emotions.

Sixteen years earlier, little Niamh Temple died while they were on holiday in Portugal. Now, as Amanda joins the family for a reunion at their seaside villa, she begins to suspect one of them might be hiding something terrible...

And suspicion is a dangerous thing.

I've been reading Mr. Brookmyre's books for longer than I can to admit to and I particularly like his Jack Parlabane series. I was understandably intrigued when I first heard about Fallen Angel as it didn't sound like a Brookmyre story and I have to say that I was hooked from page one, despite the fact that it touches on some rather disturbing themes.

From the very start of the novel, we know someone has died, but how is his death connected to the motley crew of characters assembled in Portugal? The story centres around Amanda, a Canadian girl, brought over by family friends to nanny for them, and their young son, Arron. No sooner has she arrived then they're off to Portugal for a family holiday. 

Having arrived at the villa Amanda discovers that the owners of the other two neighboring villas are none other than Max Temple, famous debunker, and his wife Celia, an actress who is most well known for starring in a dodgy science-fiction television series. Max has recently died and Celia has gathered the entire family together, for a celebration of Max's life, and this includes Sylvie, their youngest daughter, who has changed her name and is estranged from the rest of the family after the tragedy of losing her baby daughter at this very location. 

Things are tense from the get-go. Brookmyre certainly knows how to ratchet up the tension, and as anyone who has been on holiday with extended family knows, there's plenty of tension to start with. Amanda soon realizes that she has been dropped into the middle of an explosive situation and her naturally curious manner is not likely to win her any friends amongst the Temple clan.

News of another death rocks the villas and this is the trigger needed to start a rollercoaster of revelations to start tumbling out, which is not necessarily going to end well for all. Fallen Angel is a masterpiece in character writing, and as a thriller, it works so well. It's a refreshing change to read a thriller driven mostly by character rather than events, except for the original tragedy. The story is told in two strands, one from 2002 and one from the present, which I'm not always a fan of but in the case of Fallen Angel it's a plus point and only adds to the disquiet and increases the mounting pressure on all involved.

Combine toxic family relationships, tragedy, greed, vanity, strangely appealing unlikeable characters, and a sense of desperation into a gripping, page-turning mystery and the end result is Fallen Angel, one of the most original thrillers I've read in some time. I really hope Chris Brookmyre writes more like this because I loved it! Oh, and for fans of his Parlabane series, there's a wee cameo you might enjoy...

Thursday, 14 March 2019

Blog Tour Extract: Your Guilty Secret - Rebecca Thornton

You know Lara King. 

The top billing of the showbiz pages, you've seen her every morning; over your breakfast, on your commute to work. You know everything about her; you've dissected her life. 

Her perfect relationship with film-star Matthew Raine. Her beautiful six-year-old daughter Ava. 

And so when a terrible incident shatters the family's carefully constructed facade, a media frenzy ensues. 

What happens when the perfect woman begins to unravel? When her whole life is really just a lie? One she will do anything she can to stop you from finding out?

This story is . . .


Your Guilty Secret - Rebecca Thornton
ISBN - 9781785760754
Publisher - Bonnier Zaffre


August 26th, 2018
What would you do if your child disappeared into thin air? I mean, what would you really do?
You might pound the pavements screaming their name, breath sour with fear. Air escapes you.
And when you get home, escorted by the police, you might fall into the arms of your husband or wife or a member of your family. Slamming your fists into their chests, your knees drop ping to the ground. Pleading. With who, you don't really know. And then with a renewed vigour and a sense of hope, you'd go out again. Back to where your child disappeared. You'd watch as the police knocked on surrounding doors and took witness notes and because you were there, in the action, you might feel you were doing something. Anything.

You might consider me for a minute when I tell you that my child has disappeared, yet despite the world's gaze on me, I have absolutely no control over where I look for her. I cannot open the front door to our home in The Hidden Hills. I cannot press the pattern of small, shiny gold buttons that remotely open the huge iron gates, with the hand-carved wooden sign on it. Los Palisades. I cannot use my thumbprint to access the extra security we had installed.

If I could, I might for a moment sweep my gaze across the lawns for any sign of her - my eye line darting in and around the uniformly cut grass, the luscious, rare rose blooms spilling down from the clean lines of our house - even though we were miles from where she disappeared. I'd still glance over to the pool - as I always did. A habit I'd been unable to relinquish from before she'd learned to swim. The clench of my stomach just until I reassured myself, two or three times over, that there was no small body, face down in the softly lapping turquoise water.

I would then race down our cobbled drive, lined with newly buffed cars. I'd curse the palm trees forcing me to weave my way around their silvery trunks. I'd ignore the burn of my lungs. The way my legs would barely be able to hold me up. I'd run, purely because I'd be incapable of driving. Or perhaps it would kick start my senses afresh. And I'd try and think back to where it had all started, my throat swollen with the catch of my breath.

I'd try and revisit that moment we'd left the house, water bottles under our arms. Me, in workout gear despite having no intention to exercise. Her in a navy sundress embroidered rabbits across the collar. Silver Superga trainers. Her face tilted up to mine, scrunched up against the sun.
“Treat day, she'd said. Can you believe it? Just you and me.'

I'd think about this as I tried to remember, left or right? Which way had I manoeuvred the car?
Had I thought about the paps as I normally did when we left the house? Had I planned my whole route along the back streets, where they might not be lurking, eyes scanning for my number plate? The way their lenses followed me, like snipers. Or had I just driven aimlessly, enjoying the day panning out ahead of us, with nothing to do. No one to see. Just me and my daughter. But I can't remember the ins and outs of my thoughts from this morning. If I had known what was going to happen, I'd have taken more care to engage with my inner monologue. To remember the way I'd felt a little impatient as Ava had kicked at the tyres of our car before she'd climbed into the back seat. The slight twist of her front tooth as it pushed its way through her gums. I'd have looked carefully at the way her body was formed. The soft roundness of her stomach. The fine, blonde hairs travel ling down her tanned arms.

But of course, I never thought that today would end up like this. I do, at other times. Think the worst. Catastrophise. But there was something so perfect about the way today had been panning out. Just me and her. A special treat. Ice cream. It was the first day in a long while I'd felt able to breathe.
That in itself should have been the first sign of things to come.

It was Detective Mcgraw who sat me down in the police station and told me that he was driving me straight home and that I had to stay indoors. Those green eyes of his, continuously locked onto one focal point a fraction above my right shoulder. White face, a fine tracing of freckles smudged across his top lip.
'I need to be out there though. Looking for her. She's my daughter. Please. There must be a way?'
'I know. And I'm sorry. We can't risk hampering the investigation. Thousands of people are out there, looking. And so we need you to stay inside your house.'

I knew he was right. That it was for the best. You see, I wanted you to be looking for her, without distraction. Surely I had learned by now – stay out of view in times of trouble. After all, a
wrongly placed smile, a casual lift of my eyebrow could set you off, and that's not what I need right now. I'm getting ahead of myself. I suppose I should tell you the things that happened less than six hours earlier. Just after we had pulled out of our drive, sun beating down through the windscreen.
I'll tell you as much as I can remember. The same details I told Detective Mcgraw in my oak-panelled study after he'd told me they'd taken my computer and mobile phone. We'd sat, me at my desk with my leather in-trays and stationery drawers all in straight lines in front of me. He was opposite me, in an ergonomic swivel chair that kept twisting from underneath him.

'I'd planned a special day out, I told him. "Just us. It's such... It was such a beautiful day, the words spill out my mouth.
'Any reason for the outing? An occasion, perhaps?'
'Yes. It was my way of saying thank you. For the way Ava behaved for the announcement. Did you see it?'
'I read about it.'
'She had been so good, I continued. 'So I told her that I'd take her out.'
And then what? We've pieced together as much as we can of your journey, mapping the CCTV footage. You hadn't pinned any of your locations on your public social media accounts. Any private ones we need to know about?'
'No.' OK. If you could tell me what happened this morning, then?'
“At nine forty-five this morning we drove to Laurel Canyon. To go for a walk. On the way there, Ava grew tired. She lay down."

Friday, 8 March 2019

Trapped - Nick Louth

Two desperate criminals. Something she never saw coming. 
In Manchester, two hardened gang members on the run take Catherine Blake and her one-year-old son hostage at gunpoint. She is in the wrong place at the wrong time.
Held in a Transit van, Catherine needs a plan fast. But it means diving into her captors’ risk-drenched world, and playing them at their own game.
Catherine has been through cancer, miscarriages and five draining years of IVF in order to have her son Ethan. He is the most precious thing in the world. She may be terrified out of her wits, but she’d do anything to protect him. Anything, no matter the cost...
Trapped is a standalone novel from the writer of the DCI Gillard series of which there are two available, The Body In The Marsh, The Body On The Shore, and The Body In The Mist is out in May. I really enjoyed Nick's previous books so was very much looking forward to reading this one. I wasn't disappointed! Trapped starts with a happy family - father, mother, long-wished-for son - but by the end of the day, nothing will ever be the same.

Catherine is kidnapped, along with her son Ethan, after witnessing something so horrific that it will stay with her for the rest of her days. Hopefully, Ethan, who is not quite one yet, will never remember the bloodshed or the horror he's about to witness. Used as hostages by two desperate criminals in Manchester, Trapped is essentially a story about surviving the most nightmarish situation you can imagine yourself in, magnified intensely as all you're worried about is the fact that your baby is with you, and the kidnappers seem to have no patience with him.

What follows is a breath-holding, heart-stopping story of abduction, of being stuck in the back of a van with two violent men armed with guns and knives, and what you have to do to survive. Nick Louth has written a truly original crime story, it's unlike anything I've ever read anyway, and the title is incredibly clever - especially once the final chapters unfold, and the spectacular sting in the tale is revealed. There are some truly splendid twists and turns in Trapped, most of which I guessed at until the very last moment. If you're looking for something different to read in the UK crime genre, and you're open to more unusual storylines then please read Trapped, and let me know what you think! Nick Louth is improving with every book, and I can't wait to read The Body In The Mist later this year.
Trapped - Nick Louth
Publisher - Canelo
Release date - January 28th, 2019
About The Author
Nick Louth is a bestselling thriller writer, award-winning financial journalist and an investment commentator. A 1979 graduate of the London School of Economics, he went on to become a Reuters foreign correspondent in 1987. It was an experience at a medical conference in Amsterdam in 1992 while working for Reuters, that gave him the inspiration for Bite, which was self-published in 2007 and went on to become the UK no. 1 Kindle bestseller for several weeks in 2014 before being snapped up by Sphere. It has sold a third of a million copies and been translated into six languages. The terrorism thriller Heartbreaker was published in June 2014 and received critical acclaim from Amazon readers, with a 4.6 out of 5 stars on over 100 reviews. Mirror Mirror, subtitled ‘When evil and beauty collide’, was published in June 2016. The Body in the Marsh, a crime thriller, was published by Canelo in September 2017, with The Body on the Shore following in 2018. Freelance since 1998, he has been a regular contributor to the Financial Times, Investors Chronicle and Money Observer, and has published nine other books. Nick Louth is married and lives in Lincolnshire.

Tuesday, 5 March 2019

Bitter Edge - Rachel Lynch

DI Kelly Porter is back, but so is an old foe and this time he won’t back down...

When a teenage girl flings herself off a cliff in pursuit of a gruesome death, DI Kelly Porter is left asking why. Ruled a suicide, there’s no official reason for Kelly to chase answers, but as several of her team’s cases converge on the girl’s school, a new, darker story emerges. One which will bring Kelly face-to-face with an old foe determined to take back what is rightfully his – no matter the cost.

Mired in her pursuit of justice for the growing list of victims, Kelly finds security in Johnny, her family and the father she has only just discovered. But just as she draws close to unearthing the dark truth at the heart of her investigation, a single moment on a cold winter’s night shatters the notion that anything in Kelly’s world can ever truly be safe.

Rachel Lynch is slowly working her way up my list of favorite authors. This is the 4th book in the Kelly Porter series, the 4th one I've read, and the 4th one I've reviewed! I'll link to the others either during or after my review.

Once again, several seemingly separate strands are woven together, forming one fantastically written story. Bitter Edge opens with Kelly living in her new home, her relationship with Johnny from Mountain rescue progressing well (even with the addition of his teenage daughter), her sister has taken a back seat despite all her issues, and Kelly's mother is desperately ill but doing her best to hide it. Certain revelations were made at the end of the last book, Dead End, which Kelly is still unsure how to deal with. As it involves someone she works with she's finding it harder than usual to keep her personal and work relationships separate.

The story starts with a teenage runner committing suicide, Kelly is not convinced and wants it to be murder but the postmortem conclusively proves it was suicide. There's also a situation with a teacher at the dead girl's former school, another missing pupil whose friends may or may not be more involved than they're willing to admit to, and the unwelcome reappearance of a character from a previous story.

As always, the spectre of the Lakes is always hanging over everything and everyone, it may be a delightful place in summer and a fabulous place to visit, but it has its dark side as Kelly and her team know all too well. The fact that it's Christmas and it's snowing adds to the urgency to find the missing girl, time is really running short and it's up to the team at Eden House to solve the all the strands of this once simple case. Thanks to DI Porter's tenacity she doesn't give up on the fact there were also two other suicides at the Derwent Academy and pushes hard to uncover just exactly is going on with the teenagers involved in the case of missing Faith, the connection to the teacher currently suspended and under investigation for child pornography, the kidnapping of a toddler, and the return of a very unpleasant chap who everyone thought had disappeared for good.

Bitter Edge makes excellent use of the very current cyber-bullying of young people and the pressure to conform thanks to sites like Snapchat, Instagram and Facebook. It's more hard-hitting than the previous books but no less readable. In fact, it was harder to put down than my previous favorite in the series, Deep End, and I was absorbed from start to finish. I had no clue how things tied together until an extremely large hint was dropped and from then on it was so easy to see how it worked. Well done to Rachel for writing another fabulous page-turner and I'm now sitting here (im)patiently waiting for the next installment!!!

Previous books in the series -

Dark Game
Deep Fear
Dead End

Bitter Edge (DI Kelly Porter #4) - Rachel Lynch
Publisher - Canelo 
Release date - February 25th, 2019
Find - Goodreads | Amazon UK 

About The Author

Rachel Lynch grew up in Cumbria and the lakes and fells are never far away from her. London pulled her away to teach History and marry an Army Officer, whom she followed around the globe for thirteen years. A change of career after children led to personal training and sports therapy, but writing was always the overwhelming force driving the future. The human capacity for compassion as well as its descent into the brutal and murky world of crime are fundamental to her work.

Find Rachel on Twitter

Tuesday, 26 February 2019

A Testament To Murder - Vivian Conroy

Suspenseful from the first page to the last, A Testament to Murder is perfect for fans of And Then There Were None, Murder on the Orient Express, and Crooked House

A dying billionaire. Nine would-be heirs. But only one will take the prize...

At the lush Villa Calypso on the French Riviera, a dying billionaire launches a devious plan: at midnight each day, he appoints a new heir to his vast fortune. If he dies within 24 hours, that person takes it all. If not, their chance is gone forever.

Yet these are no ordinary beneficiaries, these men who crossed him, women who deceived him, and distant relations intent on reclaiming the family fortune. All are determined to lend death a hand and outwit their rivals in pursuit of the prize.

As tensions mount with every passing second retired Scotland Yard investigator Jasper must stay two steps ahead of every player if he hopes to prevent the billionaire’s devious game from becoming a testament to murder…

From the very first page of A Testament To Murder it's like being steeped in the 1920s, the Golden Age of detective fiction thanks to writers like Agatha Christie and Ngaio Marsh. I've read and enjoyed several of Vivian's books now but this one I was particularly looking forward to. 

A group of people, seemingly unconnected, summoned to a stunning Riviera location by a dying man. What could possibly go wrong? At first glance, it seems everything is above board and Malcolm Bryce-Rutherford is playing the part of an eccentric billionaire all too well. Who else would be crazy enough to announce they're going to change their will every night? 

In this motley group of people are Malcolm's ex-wife, Malcolm's ex-business partner along with his wife and son, his nephew with a new American wife, a long-serving and faithful ex-employee, a beautiful young nurse, a solicitor overseeing the signing of the will, and a collection of servants - including the butler...

None of these people are particularly nice, not even the teenage son of Malcolm's ex-wife, and you don't warm to any of them. However, when people start dying, you start to wonder what is going on, and if these people are really telling the truth when it comes to knowing each other beforehand.

Conveniently next door, in another idyllic Riviera cottage, is Jasper, former Scotland Yard inspector and perfectly placed to insert himself into the investigation. Jasper is entirely unsure who or what to believe but one thing he does believe is that he knows who didn't do it!

Vivian Conroy packs a lot into 210 pages, there are red herrings aplenty, and obvious clues pointing in one direction whilst your mind is going in another. I'm pleased to say that I didn't work out who the culprit was and I very much enjoyed the sting in the tale at the very end. If you enjoy cozy mysteries then do try A Testament To Murder, it's a pleasant read (maybe the wrong word for murder!) and I'm looking forward to Jasper's next case, which I believe is coming later this year.

Many thanks to Vivian Conroy and Canelo for allowing me to read an early copy of A Testament To Murder in exchange for an unbiased review!

A Testament To Murder - Vivian Conroy
Publisher - Canelo
Release date - February 18th, 2019

About The Author
Armed with cheese and chocolate, Vivian Conroy sits down to create the aspirational settings,
characters with secrets up their sleeves, and clever plots which took several of her mysteries to
#1 bestseller in multiple categories on Amazon US and Canada. Away from the keyboard, Vivian
likes to hike (especially in the Swiss mountains), hunt for the perfect cheesecake and experience
the joy in every-day life, be it a fiery sunset, a gorgeous full moon or that errant butterfly descending
on the windowsill.

Twitter: @VivWrites

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