blog tour, books, reviews

Blog Tour: What She Saw Last Night – MJ Cross*

Jenny Bowen is going home. Boarding the Caledonian Sleeper, all she wants to do is forget about her upcoming divorce and relax on the ten-hour journey through the night.

In her search for her cabin, Jenny helps a panicked woman with a young girl she assumes to be her daughter. Then she finds her compartment and falls straight to sleep.

Waking in the night, Jenny discovers the woman dead in her cabin … but there’s no sign of the little girl. The train company have no record of a child being booked on the train, and CCTV shows the dead woman boarding alone.

The police don’t believe Jenny, and soon she tries to put the incident out of her head and tells herself that everyone else is right: she must have imagined the little girl.

But deep down, she knows that isn’t the truth.

My thoughts:

Trains have famously been the place where crimes take place – thanks to a certain Agatha Christie. But instead of a grand trip across Europe, Jenny is taking the sleeper to Edinburgh when the crime she says she witnessed takes place.

The plot that unravels goes to places you don’t expect – what seems like a straightforward case of murder and maybe missing person turns out to be a lot more dangerous and shocking.

The plot whizzes along, the writing is tight and carries you along with it, just like a train.

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

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.

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.

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: Blind Witness – Vicki Goldie*

In 1922 a blind WW1 veteran and former intelligence officer attends a weekend with his aristocratic wife and her family at a country house in the New Forest, Hampshire, England. Fourteen people sit down to dinner on the Friday night; by the end of the weekend there are two murders, an attempted murder and a suicide.

This is book one in a series of humorous murder mysteries and introduces young sleuths The Hon Melissa Charters and her war veteran husband Major Alastair Charters.

The pair collaborate using Melissa’s powers of observation and Alasdair’s old skills gained in the Secret Intelligence Service to investigate the events unfolding over the weekend. A murder mystery with a spy plot told from many different points of view in the tradition of Simon Brett, M C Beaton and Kerry Greenwood.

Will our investigators discover who is behind the murders?

Vicki worked as a Chartered Librarian for the Royal National Institute of Blind People and then for the past 19 years in public libraries in Bournemouth and Poole. There she enjoyed arranging and attending writing courses and author events, including such luminaries as Fay Weldon and Peter James. With the Reading Agency and other librarians round the country she reviewed and selected books for The Radio Two Book Club. All the time writing away in her spare time.

Born in California but brought up in England she was introduced to the Golden Age of crime authors at an early age by her mother. She is married to a blind physiotherapist, and it is from his mother, born in a large country house in Devon (now a hotel), educated by governess and with a cut glass voice like the Queen, that she absorbed real life stories about the twenties and thirties.

She has always had a fascination with the Art Deco period and the Golden Age of crime writing. She has been filling her house with Art Deco inspired artefacts and clothing for 40 years.

Blind Witness is her debut novel and is the beginning of the Charters Mysteries Series featuring Major Alasdair Charters and The Honourable Melissa Charters.

My thoughts:

This was a really interesting take on the classic detective novel. Alasdair has lost his sight in the war and is struggling with the changes his disability has wrought on him, but an old friend in the intelligence services offers him an opportunity to solve a series of murders during a country house weekend.

Evoking Christie, Allingham and the other queens of crime with its setting and period, this is an excellent addition to the canon. I can’t wait to see what Goldie writes next.

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

blog tour, books, reviews

Blog Tour: Nothing to Hide – James Oswald*

Suspended from duty after her last case ended in the high-profile arrest of one of Britain’s wealthiest men, DC Constance Fairchild is trying to stay away from the limelight. Fate has other ideas . . .

Coming home to her London flat, Constance stumbles across a young man, bloodied, mutilated and barely alive. She calls it in and is quickly thrown into the middle of a nationwide investigation . . .

It seems that the victim is just the latest in a string of similar ritualistic attacks. No matter that she is off-duty, no matter that there are those in the Met who would gladly see the back of her, Con can’t shake her innate determination to bring the monsters responsible for this brutality to justice.

Trouble always seems to find her, and even if she has nothing to hide, perhaps she has everything to lose . . .

James Oswald is the author of the Sunday Times bestselling Inspector McLean series of detective mysteries, as well as the new DC Constance Fairchild series.

James’s first two books, Natural Causes and The Book of Souls, were both short-listed for the prestigious CWA Debut Dagger Award.

James farms Highland cows and Romney sheep by day, writes disturbing fiction by night.

My thoughts:

I really enjoyed this, I hadn’t read the first one but it really doesn’t matter, Oswald includes enough detail about the overarching case Con is involved in that you don’t miss having not read it.

The cases that a supposedly off-duty Constance Fairchild gets involved with are dark and grotesque, involving ritualistic mutilation and murder. So maybe not for the weak of stomach. However I don’t get bothered by fictional gore and found this really fascinating and a compelling read. I even found myself thinking about how all sorts of awful things could be going on right now behind the facade of civility on my own high street, while travelling on the bus the following day, so this is a book that lingers long in the mind.

The writing is concise, the plot and characters hook you from the first page. Con is a bit of a mystery woman herself and you find you’re drawn into her life and its various concerns and problems quickly. Set in London, Scotland and Northumberland, there’s a lot going on and not much of it good, if you’re a character, but great if you’re a reader!

*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 Devil’s Horn – Anna Nicholas*

When 33-year-old Isabel Flores Montserrat quits a promising career with the Spanish police to run her mother’s holiday rentals agency in rural Mallorca, it seems that her crime-fighting days are far behind. Basking in the Mediterranean sunshine with pet ferret, Furì, she indulges her passion for local cuisine, swimming in the sea and raising her pampered hens. However, in just a few days, the disappearance of a young British girl, violent murder of an elderly neighbour, and discovery of a Colombian drug cartel threaten to tear apart Isabel’s idyllic life. Together with local chief Tolo Cabot, an old admirer of her unorthodox methods, Isabel must race against the clock to untangle a sinister web of crime and restore peace to the island once more.

 

My thoughts:

I really enjoyed this novel, it reminded me of The No 1 Ladies’ Detective Agency a little, as well as Agatha Raisin, in marrying a crime story to a laid back pace and comic moments.

Isabel is very clever, and somehow manages to find time to solve a series of crimes as an adviser to the Mallorcan police forces and run her mother’s holiday lets business. Although handily some of their renters seem a little dodgy…

This is a well written, smart, enjoyable book, the first in a projected series, and if you like your crime with a side dose of delicious sounding food (seriously I was hungry the whole time I was reading because of the descriptions) then this is the book for you.

I haven’t been to Mallorca, although it’s on my list, and I was interested to learn the main language there is Catalan not Spanish, the island not having always been part of Spain, and like Venice it has its own unique dialect that locals speak and clearly identifies anyone from the main land.

I look forward to the next book and may also dip into the author’s other books, based on her own experiences of moving to rural Mallorca and setting up home there.

The Devil’s Horn is fresh off the printing press and available now from all good bookshops and online in ebook and paperback formats.

The Devil's Horn blog tour graphic 2019 10 23.png

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