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

Thursday 7 February 2019

The Lost Man - Jane Harper

Two brothers meet at the border of their vast cattle properties under the unrelenting sun of outback Queensland, in this stunning new standalone novel from New York Times bestseller Jane Harper

They are at the stockman’s grave, a landmark so old, no one can remember who is buried there. But today, the scant shadow it casts was the last hope for their middle brother, Cameron.

The Bright family’s quiet existence is thrown into grief and anguish.

Something had been troubling Cameron. Did he lose hope and walk to his death? Because if he didn’t, the isolation of the outback leaves few suspects…

Dark, suspenseful, and deeply atmospheric, The Lost Man is the highly anticipated next book from the bestselling and award-winning Jane Harper, author of The Dry and Force of Nature.

The more I love a book and/or an author the harder I find it to write reviews that aren't completely nonsensical! I read Jane Harper's debut novel, The Dry, and fell in love with her writing, her characters, and proceeded to do the same with Force Of Nature. Aaron Falk is an easy character to love, in my book anyway, he has his faults, but there's something about Jane's writing that makes you love her characters. 

I'll admit now I was a bit apprehensive about The Lost Man. I was very much looking forward to another Falk novel but a handful of pages into The Lost Man and I was completely and utterly spellbound! It's the story of three brothers, Nathan, Cameron, and Bub who brought up in the harsh but beautiful surroundings of the Australian Outback. Now all adults, Nathan is divorced with a teenage son, Cameron is married with two young daughters and Bub, a lot younger than his siblings, is working on Cameron's property. 

It's not a spoiler to say that the story opens with Cameron's unexplained death by a well-known local grave that he'd won a prize years earlier for a painting of it. What happens from there is a wild ride of suspicion, violence, lies, and grief. Nathan, struggling with depression due to incidents in the past, is at a loss as to how someone like his brother, who knows the conditions of the Outback, could walk off leaving a car full of emergency supplies to die. All the signs point to suicide, everyone he talks to says that recently he hadn't been himself and there had been 'accidents' which might not have been accidental.

Cameron might be dead but it appears that there is a myriad of threads connecting lots of different things to him, on the surface he was charming and persuasive, had time for everybody, but underneath the cracks were starting to show. Nathan, with not much else to do and coming to the realization that maybe he's not alright, takes the bit between his teeth and starts looking into Cam's death. There are things niggling at the back of his mind that don't make sense but as the story progresses he starts to connect the dots, which lead to a horrifying conclusion.

Not only is it hard not to just gush about The Lost Man it's also hard to talk about the storyline without giving away too much. The Lost Man is a character-driven story, expertly done, with a fascinating collection of people, all totally different but all linked by one defining character, the Outback. As with The Dry, the Outback shines through as a real character and you can feel yourself under the hot sun, the dry dust kicking up around you, and the beads of sweat on your forehead. 

The Lost Man is not just a crime thriller either. It's about family, love, mental health problems, and consequences. Don't take my word for it though, read The Lost Man and I defy you not to fall in love with it. Oh, and for those of you who are fans of Falk, some good news! In The Lost Man, there's a little something to find (let me know if you do!) and there's a movie coming, with Eric Bana as Aaron Falk!!!

My reviews of The Dry and Force Of Nature can be found here and here!

The Lost Man - Jane Harper
ISBN - 9781408708217
Publisher - LittleBrown
Release date - February 7th, 2019

About The Author

Jane Harper is the author of the international bestsellers The Dry and Force of Nature.
Her books are published in more than 36 territories worldwide, with film rights sold to Reese Witherspoon and Bruna Papandrea. Jane has won numerous top awards including the CWA Gold Dagger Award for Best Crime Novel, the British Book Awards Crime and Thriller Book of the Year, the Australian Book Industry Awards Book of the Year and the Australian Indie Awards Book of the Year.

Jane worked as a print journalist for thirteen years both in Australia and the UK and now lives in Melbourne.

Friday 1 February 2019

I'll Find You - Liz Lawler

Emily Jacobs, a nurse, is in hospital for a minor operation. When she wakes in the night, woozy with anaesthetic, she sees the doctor frantically trying to resuscitate the woman in the bed next to her. In the morning, she is told that she must have had a nightmare. The bed has been empty all along . . .

When Emily returns to work she discovers a bracelet that she believes belonged to the missing woman. Soon, she becomes convinced that her colleagues at the hospital are hiding a terrible secret. 
What if she's wrong? What if her own troubled past has affected her more than she knows?

But what if she's right? 

What else could they be capable of?

I've spent a lot of time in various hospitals, both as a patient and as a nurse (albeit a student!), so the premise of I'll Find You both intrigued and scared the pants off me! I was also exposed to both the book and movie version of Coma by Robin Cook at a very young age so how I ever ended up training as a nurse I'll never know...

Emily Jacobs is a nurse, a nurse with a troubled past. A year previous to the story's opening, Emily's younger sister, Zoe, went missing and has never been found. The two have always been close, despite a ten year age gap, and at the time of her disappearance, Zoe was also training to be a nurse. Now Emily is in hospital for minor surgery at her new place of work, a private hospital with no memories of her sister. What follows is a rollercoaster and nightmare rolled into one and Emily, already seeing a psychologist, starts to wonder if she is losing her mind, especially when she starts to think she's seeing Zoe again. 

The hospital no longer feels like the haven Emily thought it might be and contacts the detective inspector from her sister's case. Geraldine has become close to Emily since meeting her, and at first, is convinced that it's Emily's mental health causing all the problems. However, when the signs point to something truly sinister, it's time for her to start looking into Emily's claims.

No longer sure who she can trust or who she can even talk to about what's going on, Emily digs deeper into behind the scenes of the hospital and staff in the hopes that whatever is happening might just be linked to Zoe and she can finally find out what has happened to her beloved sister.

I'll Find You is full of twists and turns, as Emily lurches from one theory to another, but it keeps you on your toes from start to finish with some truly horrifying moments. If you have any inpatient stays planned soon I'd maybe not take I'll Find You as a hospital read, or if you have even a slight phobia about being locked in a hospital morgue... I very much enjoyed I'll Find You from start to finish, and the discovery of the truth of both Zoe's disappearance and what's going on elsewhere was heartbreaking and tragic. It's scary to realize that a throwaway comment by one person can turn into a terrifying and deadly obsession.

Huge thanks to Ellen, Bonnier Zaffre, and Liz for the chance to read I'll Find You!

I'll Find You - Liz Lawler
Publisher - Bonnier Zaffre
Release date - eBook | January 24th, 2019 Paperback | May 2nd, 2019
Find - Goodreads | Kindle UK | Book Depository

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