Sunday, 17 June 2018

Gate 76 by Andrew Diamond - A Review

I'll be honest with you, Private Eye thrillers can go either way with me. If the lead doesn't have a good 'voice' the story has no life.

Thankfully, with Freddy Ferguson, author Andrew Diamond has got it very right indeed.

The story starts when Freddy spots a woman being forcefully escorted to a boarding gate at the airport. Once through she disappears, reappears with a change of image and boards a different plane. Not long after, the plane she should have been on explodes mid flight with loss of all life on board.

Back home Freddy and his fellow PI team are employed to find out what happened, who is behind the bombing etc. The search for the missing passenger is Freddy's own mission, as is finding out where she ties into the ever deepening mystery of missing drug money and possible police corruption.

I got through this in two days thanks to both the pacing and the intrigue levels.

Really enjoyable 4/5*

Tuesday, 29 May 2018

Cross Her Heart by Sarah Pinborough

One thing you can say of Sarah Pinborough, she doesn't make reviewing her books am easy job. 

Last year her 'Behind Her Eyes' came with the accompanying tag #WTFThatEnding, imploring all to not discuss the final twist. It worked! That Ending was kept out of reviews (for the most part) and people who had read it only discussed it with those who had done the same.

So, this year we get 'Cross Her Heart' another multi-lead thriller with another twist (although it comes a bit sooner this time.)  The leads are Lisa, a mother who sometimes seems to be trying a little bit hard to be a part of her daughter's life, Ava, the aforementioned daughter, and Marilyn, Lisa's work colleague.

As the story starts all 3 ladies tell their part of the story, they all have their little secrets and, if I'm being honest, it did tend to just pootle along at first. Things happen and you have an idea of where things are going then...


Sarah blindsides the reader and the story takes on a whole new dimension, becomes a whole different thing and, to be fair that is all I can tell you without spoiling things (and you know I wouldn't do that to you)

What I will say is that this went from 'a couple of pages before bedtime' to 'it is now the early hours of the morning and I don't care, must read a few more chapters' The twist, when it came, was right out of the blue (for me) and then the 'reveal' at the end did it again... twice.

I really enjoyed Behind Her Eyes and thought Pinborough would struggle to surpass it - I guess I was wrong. I'm going to stick my neck out and say Cross Her Heart is a better book. BHE was a thriller with a supernatural leaning whereas CHH is a straight up thriller.


Saturday, 26 May 2018

Two books from Otter-Barry Books

Two books arrived in the post this week from Otter-Barry Books, a publisher I have not heard from before, and not my usual thing but, hey, they took the time to send it so I took the time to have a look.

First up then is Riding A Donkey Backwards (Wise and Foolish Tales of Mulla Nasruddin). This is a collection of 21 tales (all short, between 1 and 2 pages long) about Mulla Nasruddin, the wisest and most foolish man in the village. He manages to get himself in all sorts of silly situations and always thinks he's doing the right thing however silly it makes him love.

With lovely illustrations this is one that I think children will really enjoy.

Secondly (and if I'm being honest, my favourite of the two) is Is It A Mermaid by Candy Gourlay. In this tale Benji and Bel find a creature on the beach. They know it is a Dugong but the creature is convinced she is a mermaid. As they play together on the beach the Dugong shows them why she is a mermaid but the children aren't convinced - until it is time for her to go back into the sea.
The story here is a lovely one but when you add the illustrations (by Francesca Chessa) it becomes even more special.

As I said earlier I have never heard of Otter-Barry Books before but if these two gems are anything to go by I look forward to seeing many more of their books.

I think kiddies will love these books and I will be passing these two on to my niece.

Monday, 21 May 2018

It Was Her by Mark Hill

Hello and welcome to the first stop on the blog tour for Mark Hill's second novel 'It Was Her'. 

The First thing you need to know is that this is the second story featuring DI Ray Drake, a rather dark and, I guess, complicated character, so reading the first in the series, 'His First Lie' (previously known as The Two O'clock Boy*) will make events at the beginning of IWH a lot clearer.

Anyway, to the book in hand.

 IWH begins in flashback with a tragedy which may or may not have been an accident and is cut back to at various points in the narrative as the mystery of just what happened unravels.

In the present day Drake and his colleague, DS Flick Crowley, have their own mystery to solve - homes in supposedly safe neighbourhoods are being broken into and lived in while the owners are elsewhere and more often than not of late, people are ending up dead. How this ties to the events in the other story strand certainly makes for an interesting and intriguing read (I got through it in 2 1/2 days) that will have you changing your mind as to 'whodunnit'. Even after finishing the book I still find myself unsure - and that, for me, is a sign of a good tale and a good author.

Where Mark Hill really excels, in my opinion, is with his lead characters. With what happened at the end that 'His First Lie' things are a little edgy between Drake and Crowley. In that book Drake had a dark secret but now Crowley is a party to that secret and what she knows could ruin both their careers. The early tension is really ratcheted up and even though you sort of know they'll sort things out (that's not really a spoiler, it is a series after all) Hill still manages to leave you wondering and turning page after page.

As with his previous novel Hill leads you down dark and dangerous paths but you know what? You're glad he does and I hope he will continue to do so for a long time to come. He's only two books into his crime writing career but he's already up there with the big players

5/5 stars

Below are the rest of the dates and sites for this blog tour, please pop in and have a look
*also reviewed on this blog site

Sunday, 22 April 2018

A Spell In The Country by Heide Goody and Iain Grant

I always look on it as a treat when a new Goody and Grant book comes out, their own brand of literary insanity never fails to make me laugh from cover to cover. So it's no real surprise that I loved this book.

The story setting is fairly simple, a collection of witches (of varying shades from Good to Wicked) attend a self help style week away in the Lincolnshire countryside. On offer are courses designed to make them better, more proficient and more profitable witches - but, as you would expect, there is a lot more going on under the surface. As always there seems to be so much going on it should be impossible for the authors to pull it all off but, as usual, somehow they do (and they do it well).

The action scenes here are often very frantic but work well and the characters, although it took me a while to remember who was who, were generally fun and ones I hope to see more of in the future.

One character stood out for me though, for sheer comedy gold and that was the imp Jizzimus. Any scene with him in it was guaranteed to have me somewhere between grinning like a loon and maniacal laughter (apart from one, but... SPOILERS!!).

As always, a cracking comedy read from two authors who deserve to be a lot better known

Monday, 16 April 2018

The Mermaid's Singing by Val McDermid

I'll be honest, I've been aware of Val McDermid and her books for probably as long as she has been writing them. Her Tony Hill/Carol Jordan series has been one of those I'll ' probably get round to one day'.

That all changed last year when I read a tweet by Val about losing a reader (I'm not going into details here but the reasoning was so ridiculous that really, that reader was probably no great loss). I guess the tweet angered me a little so I decided to redress the balance and have a look at this series.

The first book to feature profiler Tony Hill and D I Carol Jordan is The Mermaid's Singing and, to be fair, it is a brutal piece at times. In the Northern City of Bradfield men are being abducted and then murdered, using medieval style torture machines. The bodies are then dumped in various parts of the city's gay community. The police are at a loss and that is where Dr Hill and his profiling come in.

As I mentioned earlier, this story is brutal at times and the torture devices will make many men squirm but at no point did the violence feel gratuitous. Getting to know the characters of Hill and Jordan was nicely done - the balance of police work and private time, the, I guess obligatory, will they/won't they scenario was handled in a way that kept this reader interested.

And as for the killer, well, that kept me guessing right up to the reveal and I think it's fair to say I never saw that coming!

So, an enjoyable, if unsettling, read and one I'm glad I finally got around to. I may be 20 odd years late to the party but now I'm here, I'm here for the duration - and very much looking forward to it.

Thursday, 12 April 2018

If You Go Down To The Woods by Seth C Adams

This reminded me so much of Stephen King's IT at times it was almost like playing 'IT Bingo' (patent pending­čśé).

Outsider kid saves fat kid from beating by bully and henchmen - check

Fat kid introduces Outsider to his coloured friend, also meets 'love internet's - check

Form a gang and hang out together in the woods - check

Gang are bullied - check

Gang have a run in with a supernatural seeming dude, The Collector - check...

I could go on but I'm sure you get my drift. That is not to say I didn't enjoy the book, I really did and I guess that's because it is so well-written. Indeed, the first half of the story, before things kick off is one of the best 'coming of age' pieces I've read in a long while.

After that though, it all gets very busy indeed. The gang find an abandoned car in the woods, in the front, $10 million, in the trunk/boot a dead body.
They hide the money until they can decide what to do with it and at this point The Collector turns up in his long coat and fedora giving them a deadline. "Get me my money or else".

Throw in an out of town gangster, his henchman and a token bent sheriff and things really do not go well for the kids.

A steady start that really rattles up the gears in the second half.

I'm just wondering if the author will resist the temptation to reunite The Outsiders 27 years later to face down The Collector one final time? I hope not, this story deserves to be left where it is, the characters have been through enough in this one long summer