books, reviews

Book Review: The Forest Lake Mystery – Palle Rosenkrantz*

Detective Sergeant Eigil Holst is on holiday in the countryside when the body of a baby is washed up on the banks of a nearby lake. The local magistrate orders the lake to be drained and the body of a young woman is discovered, naked and weighed down with stones tied to her feet and neck. Her identity is a mystery.

Holst then takes it upon himself to find out where this woman came from, why she was in this remote location and who could have had motive to kill her. His investigations take him across Scandinavia and into central Europe as, gradually, he realises that the solution to the mystery could have huge implications on his own future.

My thoughts:

Considered the first Danish crime novel, now published in a new translation, the author lends his name to the Danish crime writing awards. First published in 1903, this is another book that deserves to be more widely known and read.

A lot more convoluted and complex a case than it first appears, the plot criss crosses Europe as Detective Holst searches for the truth of the murdered woman in the lake. This is a clever and confident novel, intelligently plotted and tightly paced.

Fans of the genre should definitely get themselves a copy.

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

blog tour, books

New Book Alert: Till Human Voices Wake Us – C.S. Johnson


Sometimes the difference between reality and insanity is only a matter of absurdity.

There is nothing Milo Bishop fears more than the thought that he is going insane.

Having grown up hearing his Uncle Jay’s stories about the strange mermaids Milo never had a reason to believe they were actually true. But when a near-death experience gives Milo a vision of a mermaid calling to him for help, Milo is forced to test his uncle’s claims. And when he winds up in Rasulka, the mermaid community tucked away, deep under the southern California seas, the question of his uncle’s sanity is the least of his concerns.

For in the heart of Rasulka, a growing whirlpool in the ocean-sky and the terrarium’s changing climate — along with a discarded prophecy that says their end will come when humans appear — all suggest that the end is near. Along with his uncle and best friend, Moss, and Eluia, a young mermaid who grew up hearing myths about humans, Milo has only hours to sort through his doubts and insecurities and face down unimaginable terrors if he is going to find his way home — before Rasulka, and everyone in it, is lost forever.

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C. S. Johnson is the award-winning, genre-hopping author of several novels, including young adult sci-fi and fantasy adventures such as the Starlight Chronicles, the Once Upon a Princess saga, and the Divine Space Pirates trilogy. With a gift for sarcasm and an apologetic heart, she currently lives in Atlanta with her family.

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Are you awake?”

Much like the time I’d woken up in the hospital, I was beckoned back to reality by a familiar voice—but instead of my mother, this time it was her voice.

Am I dreaming? Am I dead?

I could hardly believe it. My eyes were covered with sand and dirt, and I squirmed as something nudged my foot, and hard.

“What is it?”

A new voice spoke from the other side of me. This one was a male voice, one that sounded older and much more disgruntled.

“I … can’t say.” She was the one who answered, and I knew from the gentle innocence of her voice, she hadn’t been the one who’d been prodding me.

“Well, is it alive, Eluia?”

Eluia.

Her name was Eluia, and before I could open my eyes to see her, I already knew she was the one I’d seen before. She was the one I’d spoken to while I was saving Moss from the whale.

“Yes, it seems so,” Eluia said. A soft whisper of a touch grazed my forehead. A shiver went through me at its chilling warmth.

“Let me see.”

“Don’t poke it with that stick!”

Right on cue, something stabbed my cheek, right underneath my goggles.

“Ouch,” I grumbled, tasting the salty thickness of air and musk through the mask of my wetsuit. “Watch it.”

“It’s making noises.” Eluia’s voice rang with excitement. “See, it is alive.”

“Hey!” I yelped, as another jolt of pain hit me, as I was prodded in the ribs.

“Ceros!” Eluia’s rebuke came quick. “Stop. You’re hurting it.”

“Just because it’s alive doesn’t mean it has value,” Ceros scoffed.

I didn’t have to see Ceros to know I didn’t think I was going to like him.

Ceros.

He was in one of Uncle Jay’s stories.

That moment was too surreal; I found myself debating with myself, torn between whether or not I was going to open my eyes and find out what destiny had in store for me.

Uncle Jay had told me before that some people don’t want to heal. But as I lay there, with my back to the ground and my limbs all sprawled out in different directions, I realized that it wasn’t just healing that people didn’t want. I didn’t want to be stripped of my ideas about life—and I didn’t want to take a leap of faith into a new world where things could be different or frightening.

“Just because that’s your opinion, doesn’t mean I value it,” Eluia murmured under her breath. From the sound of it, Ceros was already walking away, so I doubted he heard her.

Hearing her voice again—and the spirited defiance behind it—I decided I wanted to know the truth about her, if nothing else.

books

New Book Alert: Vile – Keith Crawford


Elianor Paine is a Magistrate of the Peace in the Kingdom of Trist and a republican secret agent. She has 6 days to subvert her investigation, supplant war-hero Lord Vile, then coerce his adult children to start a revolution, before her masters discover the truth and have her killed. Just how far is she willing to go? And can she change the world without changing herself?

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Keith Crawford is a retired Navy Officer, a disabled veteran, a Doctor of Law & Economics, a barrister, a stay-at-home Dad, and a writer. He has written for collections of scholarly works, academic journals, and newspapers including The Economist. He has had more than thirty plays recorded or produced for stage, been listed in a variety of short story competitions (in spite of his hatred of short stories), and runs a radio production company, which regularly runs competitions promoted by the BBC to help find, develop and encourage new writers.

In 2014 he was lecturing at Sciences Po in Paris and negotiating a contract to write a book on banking regulation, when he and his wife discovered to their delight that they were due to have their first child. Rather than writing more work that would only be read by his poor students, and then misquoted by politicians, he decided he would do his bit to stick his fingers up at the patriarchy and stay home to look after his own kids rather than the grown-up kids of rich people. Two more children swiftly followed. Keith has discovered that if you recite Stick Man backwards you get the lyrics to AD/DC’s Highway to Hell.

This (looking after the kids, not satanic rites with Stick Man) allowed him to support his wife’s career, which appears to be heading for the stratosphere, and also gave him the space to write about swordfights and explosions. And spaceships. All of which are more fun than banking regulation. As an extension to his work in radio production, he set up his own small press, and his first novel, Vile, is due to be published in December 2019. More novels will swiftly follow, like buses in countries that don’t privatise the bus companies.

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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*

Unprotected Cover Image.jpg

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.

THE PACT 6.11.png

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