Friday 30 July 2021

Dog Rose Dirt by Jen Williams


                        About The Book

What if your mother had been writing to a serial killer?

A convicted murderer with a story to tell
Serial killer Michael Reave – known as The Red Wolf – has been locked in Belmarsh Prison for over 20 years for the brutal and ritualistic murders of countless women.
A grieving daughter with a secret to unearth
Ex-journalist Heather Evans returns to her childhood home after her mother’s inexplicable suicide and discovers something chilling – hundreds of letters between her mother and Reave, dating back decades.
A hunt for a killer ready to strike again

When the body of a woman is found decorated with flowers, just like his victims, Reave is the only person alive who could help. After years of silence, he will speak to Heather, and only Heather.

If she wants to unearth the truth and stop further bloodshed, she’ll have to confront a monster.

                      My Thoughts

 Right, just getting this out there from the off, I know Jen Williams as a fantasy fiction author (The Copper Cat Trilogy, The Winnowing Flame Trilogy) of the highest order. When I heard she was writing a mystery thriller (my other favourite genre) I was excited to see what she would do, how she would switch from a genre known for 'sprawl' to one which needs to be tight - and I'm happy to say she absolutely nailed it. 

 The lead character returning to a home town they vowed they'd left forever has been done many times before but somehow Williams has made it feel fresh. This may well be down to Heather Evans herself - no simpering, loveable homegirl here, Evans is often quite unlikeable and not easy to get on with but her spine is a rod of determination and ballsiness. When she is going through her recently deceased mother's things and finds she has been writing to a convicted serial killer you just know she won't let that lie. 

 And then the murders start again, but Michael Reave is locked up, so who is the copycat killer? Who is leaving creepy messages for Heather. To solve all this Heather is going to have to come face to face with The Red Wolf, dig back into her family history and brace herself for what she may uncover. 

 I found this to be a very tense read (in a good way) and thought I'd sussed out what was going on most of the time but I was still caught out by the end. I've read this book twice as the American version (released as A Dark And Secret Place) came out earlier and I managed to bag a Netgalley copy of that so to find I was still struggling to put it down on the second read says a lot to me about the quality of the writing. 

 One of my favourite and most enjoyed thrillers of recent times. Very Highly Recommended 


Thanks as always to Anne Cater for inviting me onto this Blogtour and Harper Collins for providing the book to review (which didn't influence me at all. As always all views are mine and mine alone) Please have a look at the posts by the other bloggers on the tour (below) and see what they have to say 

Thursday 22 July 2021

The Basel Killings, Hansjorg Schneider


About The Book

It’s the end of October, but it could be December. It is just after midnight when Basel Police Inspector Hunkeler, on his way home and slightly the worse for wear, approaches old man Hardy sitting on a bench under a streetlight. The usually very loquacious Hardy is ominously silent—his throat a gaping wound. It turns out he was first strangled, then his left earlobe slit, its diamond stud stolen. The media and the police come quickly to the same conclusion: Hardy’s murder was the work of a gang of Albanian drug smugglers.

But for Hunkeler that seems too obvious. The trail leads him deep into a dark world of bars, bordellos and strip clubs, but also into the corrupt core of some of Basel’s political and industrial elite. On a more sinister level, he will soon discover the consequences of certain events in relatively recent Swiss history that those in power would prefer to keep far from the public eye.

                           My Thoughts

 Although this book is set in Switzerland it feels very much like it would be at home in the Nordic Noir section of the bookstore. When this novel starts and our hero, Hunkeler, finds a man murdered and left on a bench you can just feel the cold air, the 'Nordicness' of it all. You can almost see the BBC4 subtitles in the picture your mind creates. 

  Hunkeler is at the later end of his career, he's grumpy, old, battered and probably drinks too much. While his younger colleagues are quick to blame 'foreigners' (in this case Albanians) Hunk is not so sure and digs deeper (you knew he would really, didn't you. These old grizzly cops never just let things lie). 

 His investigations soon dig up secrets others, many of whom are in positions of power, would rather see remain buried. 

 I have not read many crime novels set in Switzerland (if any) but if they are half as addictive as this I will be adding it to my list of countries to search out more from. 


Thanks again to Anne Cater for inviting me onto this tour and providing the review copy. Please look at the reviews by the other bloggers on the tour (below) 

What Goes Around by Ann Bloxwich


About The Book

Vicky Wilson is dating Ray Diamond, legendary stripper and renowned bad boy. She goes backstage to see him during a show with friends and disappears.

When a woman’s body is found behind the club, DI Alex Peachey and his team are called in to find out who killed Vicky. But with his home life in turmoil, delving into the adult entertainment industry is the last thing he needs, especially with a case as complex as a spider's web. But due to his colleague’s sudden illness he doesn't have a choice.

Ray Diamond claims he’s being framed. His complete disregard for others means there are a lot of people who would love to see him fall from his pedestal. The question is, does anyone hate him enough to push him? And will DI Peachey be able to prove him culpable of murder before he strikes again?

My Thoughts

 Well, this was what we up north call 'a good un'. I wasn't sure it would work for me with the male stripper angle but Bloxwich seems to have got the whole business nailed down. The insights into 'life backstage' worked really well for me. 

 When a missing woman and a dead body enter the story and the police procedural stuff kicks in the story really picks up. As you may expect in this kind of story the police lead (in this case DI Alex Peachey) has 'issues'. With Peachey this is a disabled son whose behaviour is getting harder to handle but again the author managed to put this across really well. 

 The book has short chapters so is quite a pacy read and the author shows a lot of promise. I can see this becoming a long running series and if it is then this reviewer is certainly going to be along for the ride 


Thanks to Anne Cater for inviting me onto this tour. Please have a look at the other reviews by the bloggers on the tour (below) 

Tuesday 20 July 2021

Rory Hobble and the Voyage to Haligogen by Maximilian Hawker

 About The Book

Eleven-year-old Rory Hobble has it tough: he gets upsetting thoughts all the time and they won't go away – 'Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD)', the head doctors call it. His mum hasn't been very well for a long while either. Perhaps it's his fault... Maybe that's why she doesn't always feed him; maybe that's why she screams at him. At least Rory has his telescope – gazing at the unchanging stars keeps him calm. But, one night, Rory sees something impossible in the sky: mysterious lights – artificial and definitely not of earthly origin.

When his mum is abducted by the shadowy Whiffetsnatcher, Rory – accompanied by his space-faring, care-experienced social worker, Limmy – travels beyond the Earth, chasing those mysterious lights to the frozen ends of the Solar System. Along the way he must outwit a breakaway human civilisation living on a Martian moon; survive the threat of otherworldly monsters; and learn to speak to alien whales.

But his greatest challenge left Earth with him and it will take all the courage he has not only to overcome his OCD, but to decide whether he wants to rescue an abusive mother if he gets his chance…

My Thoughts

 An 11 year old boy with OCD, troubling thoughts and a not always happy life at home - seems like this is a book that will resonate with many younger readers today. Thankfully it is a Middle Grade  book rather than a Young Adult one so gives the hero, Rory, a chance at adventure in the far reaches of space instead of moping around on Earth. 

  For me the idea of a human colony living on Mars was fun but when Rory meets aliens and space whales the story reaches into what feels more like Roald Dahl territory and was, for me, where the story was strongest. 

 It is a well written story that handles it's core subjects sensitively and well, making the reader (well, at least this reader) feel that he knows about the issues. I feel that this, while being an enjoyable read, is also a book that could get young readers talking about themselves, how they relate to Rory, and that has got to be a good thing. 


 Thanks to Anne Cater for inviting me onto this tour and introducing me to a book I might otherwise have missed. Please have a read of the posts by the other bloggers on the tour (below) 

Wednesday 14 July 2021

Masterpiece by Janet Pywell


The Blurb


Photographer, artist and art forger Mikky dos Santos has had a tough life and now she’s about to steal the world’s most famous stolen painting – Vermeer’s The Concert – worth $200 million.

When Mikky’s flatmate is commissioned to paint one of the world’s most famous divas her life begins to spiral into chaos. An evil investigative journalist and a dangerous businessman are on the hunt to uncover Mikky’s darkest secrets and threaten her detailed plans.

The race is on.

My thoughts

I do like a decent heist story and Masterpiece certainly delivered. Set in Mallorca, London and Dresden this novel has a definite European feel and as we haven't been able to go on a foreign city break for the last 18 months this is the closest I'm going to get for now. It's a good job the descriptions were so good at bringing the places to life (and helping me decide where I fancy visiting next. 

The main character, Mikky Dos Santos was an interesting one. I do like a flawed lead and seeing how her life journey made her who she is today made for interesting reading. I've always enjoyed art so an art thief/forger was an appealing hook for me - and I only had to stop a few times to look things up (and so learnt more). 

With plenty of twists and danger this was a very enjoyable read for me on a week off work. 

Highly recommended 


I have not read this author before but I'll certainly be looking at these other titles first chance I get

Thanks to Anne Cater and Random Things Tours for inviting me to review this book. Please have a look at the posts by the other authors on the tour (below) 

Monday 12 July 2021

The Last Shimmer by Sage Hyatt

What would you do if you woke up one morning to find all your friends, family, teachers etc were gone, only your Best Friend remains? This is what happens to Tiger Lily when the shadows (our own shadows) decide to take over and collect the brightness in our lives (the Shimmer- kind of the opposite to our shadows) 

Can TL save the day? 

The Last Shimmer is a middle grade short story and also what I would class as 'entry level horror', more spooky than scary (the scene where TL comes across the empty school bus was one of the best I've read in a while). 

At only 27 pages long it is a short read but for all that, there is a lot of story in there. And when you consider the author was only 10 (TEN!!) years old when she wrote it's an even more impressive result. 

Seriously, if this quality of story comes from a 10 year old I'll be looking forward to seeing what she writes in the future 


Thursday 8 July 2021

The Empire's Ruin by Brian Staveley


From The Cover

One soldier will bear the hopes of an empire

The Kettral were the glory and despair of the Annurian Empire – elite soldiers who rode war hawks into battle. Now the Kettral’s numbers have dwindled and the great empire is dying. Its grip is further weakened by the failure of the kenta gates, which granted instantaneous access to its vast lands.

To restore the Kettral, one of its soldiers is given a mission. Gwenna Sharpe must voyage beyond the edge of the known world, to the mythical nesting grounds of the giant war hawks. The journey will take her through a land that warps and poisons all living things. Yet if she succeeds, she could return a champion, rebuild the Kettral to their former numbers – and help save the empire. The gates are also essential to the empire’s survival, and a monk turned con-artist may hold the key to unlocking them.

What they discover will change them and the Annurian Empire forever – if they survive. For deep within the southern reaches of the land, a malevolent force is stirring . . .

My Thoughts

The Empire's Ruin is a big book (and I mean BIIIG!). A big book needs a big story and a strong start - and here Staveley delivers in spades. 

 When we join the action Gwenna Sharpe and her team are on a retrieval mission on the last remaining Kettral (giant war hawk, big as a bus - see, there's that word again 'big'). As rescue mission the plan seems solid enough but soon goes to hell in the proverbial handcart and the Kettral is lost. For this Gwenna is demoted by the Emperor and sent on a quest to unknown lands to find the original nesting ground of the Kettrals and restore the one thing the Empire really needs. 

  I'll be honest, I was up for this book as soon as I saw the characters would be visiting 'unknown lands' as that is my passion with fantasy fiction - seeing new lands through the eyes of others who are also seeing it for the first time. And again Staveley pulls out all the stops. Oh, and there are maps - not 1map but MAPS!! plural (seriously, it's as if the author and publisher know the exact sweet spot to get me to pick up a book). 

 There are three character arcs in 'Ruin' - Gwenna, Akiil (possibly my favourite arc) and Ruc and all three carry the story well without it getting bogged down anywhere (this is 700 small print pages but felt nowhere near as intimidating as that may seem). 

 This is only book 1 of a new series that carries on from the author's The Unhewn Throne series (which I also loved) but can be read without prior knowledge of TUT (although why would you want to miss out on that really). 

 This is going to be on a lot of people's Books of the Year lists I think and deservedly so

I'm fortunate to be the first stop on the Blogtour for The Empire's Ruin and will be following the reviews by the other bloggers taking part (below). I sincerely hope you will too - they're a cracking bunch. 

Thank you to Black Crow PR for inviting me onto the tour and, along with Tor, for providing me with a review copy of the book (which didn't influence my opinions in any way, I just straight up enjoyed every damn minute of it) 

Thursday 1 July 2021

This Fragile Earth by Susannah Wise


This Fragile Earth is set in a 'near future' Britain but, to be honest, it could be just around the corner. In this setting people are, pretty much as they are now, dependent on computers, gadgets, tech. Everything can be controlled by a click, a swipe, an app and as you'd expect, when these things start to go awry everyday life goes to hell. People have no access to their money, the food they have soon goes off as the tech fridges stop working, the water and power soon fail and people cannot even get in/out of their homes (electronic access and egress). 

 When the police and army are seen patrolling the streets and people start going missing Signy decides it's not safe in London any more and sets off on foot with her family (partner Matthew and 6 yr old son Jed) for her old family home in the Northamptonshire countryside in the hopes things will be better there. 

 This book really ticked all the boxes for me. I've long wondered what will happen when the tech we all depend on stops working and Wise handles this really well. The way people panic and regress to more animalistic ways quite quickly feels pretty much spot on. 

 As for the characters Signy and Matthew worked well as they are really only still together for the sake of their son (so more friends than lovers) but I wasn't so sure about Jed (I think he annoyed me too much at times) but for the most part their group dynamic worked. 

 The tech they depended on felt feasible and not too far fetched which is probably what makes the setting quite unnerving and the early scenes where this was introduced to the reader was done really well. It's remarkable that this is a debut novel. 

 One final thing I will say, if I owned a movie or TV company I would be wanting to snap this up straight away 

A well deserved 5/5*

Thanks to Anne Cater for inviting me onto this tour, Gollancz for providing the review copy and please have a read of the posts by the other bloggers involved (below)