books, reviews

Book Review: The Iron Chariot – Stein Riverton*

The Iron Chariot (Paperback)

On a blazing hot summer’s day, holidaymakers at a guesthouse on a Norwegian island are shocked to discover a fellow guest has been found murdered out on a desolate plain. The nameless narrator, an author, was the last person to see the victim alive; shortly afterwards, he was disturbed by a noise like ‘a rattling of chains’. A local tells him this is ‘the iron chariot’, which is said to presage death.

Detective Asbjorn Krag is summoned from the capital of Kristiania, and sets about investigating the murder. When a similar death occurs on the plain, it is again preceded by the eerie sound of the iron chariot, which leaves no tracks. Mystery is added to mystery when the victim turns out to be a man believed to have died several years earlier.

Drawn unwillingly into the investigation, the narrator is puzzled by the enigmatic detective’s apparent inaction, and troubled by unfolding events. These begin to take a toll on his mental wellbeing and he sinks into a state of dread, exacerbated by mysterious happenings at the cabin where he is staying.

So profound is his unease that he feels he must leave the island. Then Krag promises to tell him the solution to the mystery…

My Thoughts:

Voted the best ever Norwegian crime novel, written over 100 years ago this has recently been re-translated into English in a new edition.

Scandi noir is big business now, but when this clever book was first written crime fiction was in its infancy and it certainly deserves to be more widely known and read.

The unnamed narrator is firstly a witness to a murder and then becomes attached to the case by the investigating detective who requests his assistance.

The method by which the detective unravels the case, and the mystery of the iron chariot, is very clever and not one you see coming. Detective Krag, like his English cousin Sherlock Holmes, is a very smart man with a keen nose for the solution to the crimes he investigates.

This deserves to be held in the same regard as the early English language detectives from the same period and be much more widely read, the roots of Scandinavian crime writing are here.

*I was kindly sent an advance copy of this book with no requirement to review. All opinions remain my own.

books, reviews

Book Review: Sea of Lost Love – Santa Montefiore

1958. Celestria, the charismatic daughter of an aristocratic family, lives in Pendrift Hall, a pale stone mansion with gardens that tumble down to the Cornish sea. It is summer and the weeks ahead hold the promise of self-discovery and the thrilling possibility of elicit love affairs.
Yet tragedy erupts in paradise when one of the family vanishes. A mysterious note is left behind with the words: ‘Forgive Me’.  Soon Celestria is pulled along a trail of deception, masquerades and mirrors. It will lead her from her idyllic life on the English coast to the orange groves of Southern Italy. It will also lead her to love…

My thoughts:

I won this book on Twitter, and it would make a wonderful holiday read, but I read it under a blanket on my sofa, transported instead to the beautiful Cornish coast and then a sundrenched Southern Italy, which made me long for summer.

Celestria’s journey, both physical and emotional, is one of self-discovery and a lot of growing up, there is humour among the tragedy and heartache though, and then there is love.

The author is well known for her romantic fiction, with glamorous locations and beautiful protagonists and this is a classic of the genre, dripping with fading grandeur and simple Italian food, the sun pours out of every page and you find characters that are more than they appear.

If you’re looking for a good read, you could do a lot worse than this one.

blog tour, books, reviews

Blog Tour: Unprotected -Sophie Jonas-Hill*

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She’s fighting to save everyone else but will she have anything left to save herself?

Witty, sharp and sarcastic tattoo artist Lydia’s life is imploding. Her long-term relationship has broken down after several miscarriages and she’s hiding from her hurt and loss in rage. After a big night out she wakes beside a much younger man who brings complications she could really do without.

As her grief about her lost babies and failed relationships spirals out of control, she obsesses about rescuing a wayward teenage girl she watches from her window and gets more involved than she should with her charming but unstable young
lover.

Unprotected is a raw and punchy story of love, family and accepting yourself for who you really are.

My thoughts:

This was an interesting read. Lydia is recoiling from the series of miscarriages she has suffered and the end of her long term relationship.

Instead of seeking help for her grief she plunges into a fling with a younger man who is dealing with his own demons.

This is a meditation on grief and loss that explores a woman’s strong reaction and her attempt to bury her pain by taking on that of others.

Well written and emotionally compelling, this is a book that lingers with you.

*I was kindly gifted a copy of this book in exchange for taking part in this blog tour but all opinions remain my own.

blog tour, books, reviews

Blog Tour: The Pact -Amy Heydenrych*

What if a prank leads to murder?

When Freya arrives at her dream job with the city’s hottest start-up, she can’t wait to begin a new and exciting life, including dating her new colleague Jay.

However, Nicole, Jay’s ex and fellow employee, seems intent on making her life a misery. After a big deadline, where Nicole continually picks on her, Freya snaps and tells Jay about the bullying and together they concoct a revenge prank.

The next morning, Nicole is found dead in her apartment . . .

Is this just a prank gone wrong? Or does Freya know someone who is capable of murder – and could she be next?

 

My thoughts:

This was a clever psychological thriller, did Freya cause Nicole’s death or is she losing her mind?

I loved the use of modern technology to cause disruption in people’s lives, with online dating and sinister text messages.

I raced through this book, it’s an enjoyable and smart plot and the writing is tight and gripping.

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*I was kindly gifted a copy of this book in exchange for taking part in this blog tour, but all opinions remain my own.

blog tour, books, reviews

Blog Tour: Ctrl+S – Andy Briggs*


LOG IN > LOAD WORLD > SAVE HER.

Life in the near future’s NOT ALL BAD. We’ve reversed global warming, and fixed the collapsing bee population. We even created SPACE, a virtual-sensory universe where average guys like Theo Wilson can do almost anything they desire.

But ALMOST ANYTHING isn’t enough for some. Every day, normal people are being taken, their emotions harvested – and lives traded – to create death-defying thrills for the rich and twisted.

NOW THEO’S MOTHER HAS DISAPPEARED. And as he follows her breadcrumb trail of clues, he’ll come up against the most dangerous SPACE has to offer: vPolice, AI Bots and anarchists – as well as a criminal empire that will KILL TO STOP HIM finding her . . .

My thoughts:

This was really interesting, exploring the juxtaposition of reality and the virtual. SPACE overlaps real world places and Theo and his friends have to work through these layered locations in order to unravel what has happened to his mum and find out who it is that’s out to get him.

As technology weaves itself into our lives this concept comes closer to reality. Criminals are already exploiting this while the police play catch up.

This was a clever, well written thriller, in a similar vein to Ready Player One but British.

*I was kindly gifted a copy of this book in exchange for taking part in this blog tour but all opinions remain my own.

blog tour, books, reviews

Blog Tour: The Sound of Her Voice – Nathan Blackwell*

Detective Buchanan remembers every victim.
But this one he can’t forget.

The body of a woman has been found on a pristine New Zealand beach – over a decade after she was murdered.

Detective Matt Buchanan of the Auckland Police is certain it carries all the hallmarks of an unsolved crime he investigated 12 years ago: when Samantha Coates walked out one day and never came home.

Re-opening the case, Buchanan begins to piece the terrible crimes together, setting into motion a chain of events that will force him to the darkest corners of society – and back into his deepest obsession…

My thoughts:

Written by a former police officer, set in New Zealand, this is a dark and gripping thrill ride of a novel, taking the standard police procedural to a darker place. Matt Buchanan is haunted by the murder he couldn’t solve, and leaving the force has not helped him forget. Returning to investigate a similar crime years later, will he find his answers?

What was interesting was the attention to detail and the mental processes of an investigator that comes from having been in that role, although I hope the author doesn’t have unsolved crimes haunting him in the same way.

This was a really interesting take on the genre and I look forward to seeing what else Nathan Blackwell writes next.

*I was kindly gifted a copy of this book in exchange for taking part in this blog tour, but all opinions remain my own.

blog tour, books, reviews

Blog Tour: Blood’s Campaign – Angus Donald*

TWO KINGS, TWO FAITHS, TWO ARMIES – AND THE BATTLE FOR IRELAND

THERE CAN ONLY BE ONE VICTOR . . .

August 25, 1689

The English Army is besieging Carrickfergus in Ireland. Brilliant but unusual gunner Holcroft Blood of the Royal Train of Artillery (son of Col. Thomas Blood), is ready to unleash his cannons on the rebellious forces of deposed Catholic monarch James II. But this is more than war for Captain Blood, a lust for private vengeance burns within him.

French intelligence agent Henri d’Erloncourt has come across the seas to foment rebellion against William of Orange, the newly installed Dutch ruler of England, Scotland and Ireland. But Henri’s true mission is not to aid the suffering of the Irish but to serve the interests of his master, Louis le Grand.

Michael ‘Galloping’ Hogan, brigand, boozer and despoiler of Protestant farms, strives to defend his native land – and make a little profit on the side. But when he takes the Frenchman’s gold, he suspects deep in his freedom-loving heart, that he has merely swapped one foreign overlord for another.

July 1, 1690

On the banks of the River Boyne, on a fateful, scorching hot day, two armies clash in bloody battle – Protestant against Catholic – in an epic struggle for mastery of Ireland. And, when the slaughter is over and the smoke finally clears, for these three men, nothing will ever be the same again . . .

Holcroft must decide whether to join the conspirators, including his old friend Jack Churchill, now Lord Marlborough, and support Dutch William’s invasion – or remain loyal to his unpopular king.

Kent-based author Angus Donald was born in 1965 and educated at Marlborough College and Edinburgh University. He has worked as a fruit-picker in Greece, a waiter in New York and as an anthropologist studying magic and witchcraft in Indonesia. For 20 years he worked as a journalist in Hong Kong, India, Afghanistan and London. He is now married with children and writes full time from a medieval farmhouse in Tonbridge, Kent.

Angus is a distant relative of Col. Thomas Blood who is best known for his attempt to steal the Crown Jewels of England from the Tower of London in 1671.

Angus is also the author of the bestselling Outlaw Chronicles.

Website

My thoughts:

This isn’t the sort of book I’d normally pick up even though I enjoy historical fiction as I tend to avoid military history. But this is so well written and draws you in so well I actually quite enjoyed it.

The history of England and Ireland is shameful and blood stained and the period this book covers is the same. After James II was deposed from the throne he seized after Charles II’s death he fled to Ireland where he waged war with borrowed soldiers against William and Mary’s troops.

Using real names and places Angus Donald builds a realistic picture of life in the English army during the Irish campaign.

Holcroft Blood is a Captain in the Ordnance (what we call Artillery now) but he also has his own agenda.

The author is distantly related to the read Blood, which adds another interesting layer to the book.

All in all I found it interesting and thoroughly well written with a real sense of the time and place it’s set.

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*I was kindly gifted a copy of this book in exchange for taking part in this blog tour but all opinions remain my own.