blog tour, books, reviews

Blog Tour: Cage – Lilja Sigurđardóttir*

The prison doors slam shut behind Agla, when her sentence for financial misconduct ends, but her lover Sonja is not there to meet her. As a group of foreign businessmen tries to draw Agla into an ingenious fraud that stretches from Iceland around the world, Agla and her former nemesis María find the stakes being raised at a terrifying speed. Ruthless entrepreneur Ingimar will stop at nothing to protect his empire, but he has no idea about the powder keg he is sitting on in his own home. And at the same time, a deadly threat to Sonja and her family brings her from London back to Iceland, where she needs to settle scores with longstanding adversaries if she wants to stay alive… The lives of these characters are about to collide in a shocking crescendo, until the winner takes it all…

Icelandic crime-writer Lilja Sigurdardóttir was born in the town of Akranes in 1972 and raised in Mexico, Sweden, Spain and Iceland. An award-winning playwright, Lilja has written four crime novels, including Snare and Trap, the first two books in the Reykjavik Noir trilogy, which have hit bestseller lists worldwide. The film rights have been bought by Palomar Pictures in California. She lives in Reykjavík with her partner.

My thoughts:

I really liked the two women at the centre of this; Agla, a criminal financier and Maria, an investigative journalist. Their relationship is complicated but in this case beneficial to both – but more deadly for Maria.

The writing is slick and compelling, the plot clever and intriguing. I wolfed this down in one sitting, driven to find out what was going to happen 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: Don’t Get Involved – Fiona Curlew*

A missing shipment of cocaine

Three street-kids fighting for their lives

A Mafia hitman intent on killing them

A naïve expat who gets in their way

Who would you bet on?

Ukraine, 2001. A time of lawlessness and corruption. Three street-kids stumble upon a holdall full of cocaine, belonging to the Mafia. Mafia hitman, Leonid, is given the job of retrieving the cocaine and disposing of the street-kids. To do so he is forced to step back into his old life and he doesn’t like it. The children run on their wits. Leonid hunts them down. Nadia, a young woman with her own dark past, arrives in Ukraine looking for a fresh start. She wasn’t expecting this!

“She had no idea of what, or who, she was supposed to be running from. Right now everything was a threat. Definitely militsiya, but who else? Everyone. Right now it felt like everyone.”

Amazon 

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Fiona spent fifteen years working as an international school teacher, predominantly in Eastern Europe. Much of her inspiration comes from her travels. Her writing has been described as, “Human experience impacted upon by political situation, interwoven with a love of nature.”

She now lives on the East Coast of Scotland with Brockie the Springer, and Fingal the rescued Portuguese street-cat. Her days are divided between dog-walking in beautiful places and working on her stories. Not a bad life!

Don’t Get Involved is her third book.

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My thoughts:

This was a really interesting read, I am always interested to read books set in other countries, and see the contrast between the UK and abroad. I also happen to have a specific interest in Ukraine (and Russia) following several years studying their history. So this was very specific to my interests.

A clever, pacy thriller, I was definitely rooting for the kids involved. Well written, with exactly enough attention to detail to really place you in the action, and the plot grips hold tight, dragging you into a world you would probably manage to ignore otherwise.

*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 Birthday House – Jill Treseder*

The year is 1955, the location picturesque Devon.

In a house by the River Dart, schoolgirl Josephine Kennedy posts invitations to her twelfth birthday party – a party that never takes place.

Horrific violence is committed that night in the family home, leaving all of its occupants dead.

Based on a disturbing real-life crime, this compelling story explores Josephine’s fate through the prism of friends and family – the victims and survivors who unwittingly influenced the events that led up to the tragedy.

Josephine’s best friend, Susan, is haunted by the secrets of the birthday house. Can she ever find a way of making peace with the past?

Amazon

I started writing in a red shiny exercise book when I was seven years old. But in that time and place it was an ‘invalid’ activity, was overlooked, but never went away. It was many years before I felt able to call myself ‘writer’.

But there came a day when the phrase ‘I am a writer’ no longer sounded pretentious, but legitimate, and even necessary. Was it because I had a writing room instead of the corner of a landing? Or because I spent more time writing? Or because I’d got better at it? Or because I get miserable and bad-tempered if I don’t write? Probably a combination of all of the above.

Writing is my third career. The first was as a social worker with children and families, a job I loved, but left because I could no longer cope with the system.

This led to a freelance career as an independent management consultant, helping people to handle emotions in the work context. I worked in the IT industry, in companies large and small, as well as public organisations. Later I became involved in research projects concerned with the multi-disciplinary approach to social problems such as child abuse. So, in a sense, I had come full-circle.

All these experiences feed into the process of writing fiction, while my non-fiction book The Wise Woman Within resulted indirectly from the consultancy work and my subsequent PhD thesis,‘Bridging Incommensurable Paradigms’, which is available from the School of Management at the University of Bath.

I live in Devon and visit Cornwall frequently and these land and seascapes are powerful influences which demand a presence in my writing.

Writers’ groups and workshops are a further invaluable source of inspiration and support and I attend various groups locally and sign up for creative courses in stunning locations whenever I can. I try doing writing practice at home but there is no substitute for the focus and discipline achieved among others in a group.

I have written some short stories and recently signed up for a short story writing course to explore this genre in more depth.

I live with my husband in South Devon and enjoy being involved in a lively local community.

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My thoughts:

This novella may be slim but it packs a punch. Based on the real life death of the author’s childhood friend, told from a variety of viewpoints, including the killer and his victims, Treseder attempts to unpack the reasons a man would destroy his family. Powerful, direct and shocking, the gentle title hides a hell of a narrative.

*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: False Prophet – James Hazel*

False Prophet by [Hazel, James]

A secret buried for two thousand years. 
The rise of an ancient evil.
An invisible killer who will stop at nothing. 

When a brutal serial killer defies all known methods, the police call in prolific lawyer and former homicide detective, Charlie Priest, to assist the hunt.

Working together they soon discover a link to a lost scripture that contains a secret so devastating that its custodians are prepared to die to keep it.

Tangled in a dark world of fanaticism, chaos and deadly secrets, Priest comes up against a nemesis more formidable and deranged than any he has previously encountered.

There is no Judgement Day. There is something far worse.

 

My thoughts:

I remember reading the first Charlie Priest book when it came out, but I don’t remember it being as gripping as this one. Possibly because the author is more confident in his writing, I was completely hooked. It’s not often I find myself so involved with a book I tell my husband to go away!

Priest and his team are tracking a mysterious serial killer, there’s a missing Dead Sea Scroll that paints the story of Noah’s Ark as something much darker and fanatics that will do anything to fulfil a mission they believe is from God.

It might be my background as a Sunday School teacher and a theology student, that means I’m maybe a little more intrigued than most by the idea of Apocryphal scriptures, stories the editors didn’t include in the Bible as we know it, and religious fanaticism; the fact the Bible is so open to interpretation makes it quite dangerous, but I found the use of symbology and mythology dating back thousands of years really interesting.

I think this is one for reading when you have a good solid chunk of time, and not possibly, on your commute to work, as you might just miss your stop!

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

blog tour, books, reviews

Blog Tour: In The Absence of Miracles – Michael J. Malone*

In this powerful new thriller, Michael J Malone returns to A Suitable Lie territory, movingly and perceptively addressing a shocking social issue.

Chilling, perceptive and heartbreakingly emotive, In the Absence of Miracles is domestic noir at its most powerful, and a sensitively wrought portrait of a family whose shameful lies hide the very darkest of secrets.

John Docherty’s mother has just been taken into a nursing home. Following a massive stroke, she’s unlikely to be able to live independently again. With no other option than to sell the family home, John sets about packing up everything in the house. In sifting through the detritus of his family’s past he’s forced to revisit, and revise his childhood.

In a box, in the attic, he finds undeniable truth that he had a brother who disappeared when he himself was only a toddler. A brother no one ever mentioned. A brother he knew absolutely nothing about.

A discovery that sets John on a journey from which he may never recover. For sometimes in that space where memory should reside there is nothing but silence, smoke and ash.

And in the absence of truth, in the absence of a miracle, we turn to prayer. And to violence…

Michael Malone is a prize-winning poet and author who was born and brought up in the heart of Burns’ country.

He has published over 200 poems in literary magazines throughout the UK, including New Writing Scotland, Poetry Scotland and Markings. Blood Tears, his bestselling debut novel won the Pitlochry Prize from the Scottish Association of Writers.

Other published work includes Carnegie’s Call; A Taste for Malice; The Guillotine Choice; Beyond the Rage; The Bad Samaritan and Dog Fight.

His psychological thriller, A Suitable Lie, was a number-one bestseller, and the critically acclaimed House of Spines and After He Died soon followed suit.

A former Regional Sales Manager (Faber & Faber) he has also worked as an IFA and a bookseller. Michael lives in Ayr.

My thoughts: this book goes to some dark places, twisted and cruel people emerge as John Docherty tries to uncover the truth about his unknown brother and his own past.

It’s a gripping, rollercoaster of a thriller, something that at first seems fairly formulaic that then opens up in a much larger, shocking series of terrible crimes and cruelties. What John and his younger brother Chris uncover goes far beyond a missing child.

I think there must be something in Scottish air that creates crime writers; some of the very best in British crime fiction are Scots. And Michael Malone’s writing is up there with Ian Rankin and Val McDermid.

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

blog tour, books, reviews

Blog Tour: Burning Ambition & Takeaway Terror – B.L Faulkner*

Burning Ambition cover.jpg

Cases 7 & 8 from the DCS Palmer and the Serial Murder Squad series. In Burning ambition an organised crime gang leader wants one last big heist as a signature to his career. He chooses the Royal Mint in Wales. But other criminals have learnt of this planned heist and want ‘in’. The answer is ‘no’ but the arguments develope into murders which brings in Palmer and his team. Will they be in time to stop the job and prevent any more murders?

In Takeaway Terror two organised crime families fight over the lucrative London West End drugs trade. Are the fast food delivery lads on their mopeds delivering more than takeaways? Why have three been killed by a hit and run driver? Old school gangsters go to war with an incoming foreign drugs lord family. Palmer needs to get inside, but once inside will he get out? alive?

B Faulkner Author picture .jpg

Barry Faulkner was born into a family of petty criminals in Herne Hill, South London. His father, uncles and older siblings ran with the Richardson Crime family from time to time. At this point we must point out that he did not follow in that family tradition although the characters he met and their escapades he witnessed have added a certain authenticity to his books. He attended the first ever comprehensive school in the UK, William Penn in Peckham and East Dulwich, where he attained no academic qualifications other than GCE ‘O’ level in Art and English and a Prefect’s badge (though some say he stole all three!)
His mother was a fashion model and had great theatrical aspirations for young Faulkner and pushed him into auditioning for the Morley Academy of Dramatic Art at the Elephant and Castle, where he was accepted but only lasted three months before being asked to leave as no visible talent had surfaced. Mind you, during his time at the Academy he was called to audition for the National Youth Theatre by Trevor Nunn – fifty years later, he’s still waiting for the call back!
His early writing career was as a copywriter with the advertising agency Erwin Wasey Ruthrauff & Ryan in Paddington, during which time he got lucky with some light entertainment scripts sent to the BBC and Independent Television and became a script editor and writer on a freelance basis, working on most of the LE shows of the 1980-90s. During that period, while living out of a suitcase in UK hotels for a lot of the time, he filled many notebooks with DCS Palmer case plots; and in 2015 he finally found time to start putting them in order and into book form. Six are finished and published so far, with more to come. He hopes you enjoy reading them as much as he enjoyed writing them. If you do read one please leave a review as your comments are very much appreciated.
You can find out more about Barry Faulkner and the real UK major heists and robberies, including the Brinks Mat robbery and the Hatton Garden Heist; plus the gangs and criminals that carried them out, including the Krays and the Richardsons, on his crime blog at http://www.geezers2016.wordpress.com. Faulkner also regularly gives illustrated talks on that era to WI and other social clubs. barryfaulkner1@btopenworld.com for details.

 

My thoughts:

They don’t make criminals like they used to. The ‘faces’ in these stories hearken back to a time of gangsters and heists that you just don’t really get anymore, which makes sense when you learn about the author’s background. He knew some of the most infamous criminals in London history.

I really enjoyed these two novella length stories – DCS Palmer and his team of two (plus a few others drafted in) know the score and combining Palmer’s old school boots on the street policing with Gheeta Singh’s IT wizardry means taking down the bad guys has never looked so easy.

With a direct no-nonsense tone to match Palmer’s character, these stories crackle along, towing you in their wake. You know they’re going to get the bad guys, but how many bodies can they rack up before the cuffs are on?

Definitely for fans of British crime writing and especially for those of you who never miss a Martina Cole as these fit alongside, but from the copper’s perspective, not the con’s.

Burning Ambition BT Poster .jpg

 

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

blog tour, books, reviews

Blog Tour: A River of Bodies – Kevin Doyle*

In this sequel to his impressive debut novel To Keep A Bird Singing, Kevin Doyle delves further into the murky world of the powerful Donnelly family and their association with the Catholic church and the security forces. The clock is ticking as Noelie and his friends try to uncover the network of corruption and deception that the family have used to protect themselves and their operations. But Albert Donnelly is onto Noelie and there’s nothing he won’t do to stop him.

Edgy, dark and sharp, Kevin Doyle’s A River of Bodies is a cracking political thriller – restless, brilliantly plotted and topical.

Kevin Doyle is from Cork and works as a writer and creative writing teacher. He has been published in many literary journals, including Stinging Fly, The Cork Review, Southwords and The Cúirt Journal. He is the winner of a string of awards, including the Tipperary Short Story Award (1998) – first; Over The Edge New Writer Of The Year – shortlist; Hennessy Literary Awards(2011) – shortlist; Seán ÓFaoláin Prize(2013) – runner-up; Michael McLaverty Short Story Award(2016) – winner. In 2018, he published his first novel, To Keep A Bird Singing. He lives in Cork.


My thoughts:

First read To Keep A Bird Singing.

Talk about conspiracies. Politics in Ireland has always been complicated, mostly due to the complete mess that England made over the centuries.

This novel blends the IRA, the police and security services, the Catholic Church and its various cover ups and horrible history, and the ordinary people that get drawn into this chaos.

Noelie is the everyman hero of these books, who along with a selection of friends pursues justice at almost any cost after the deaths of his nephew and best friend in the first book.

The conspiracy gets knottier and more complicated the more they uncover and horrors of the past come to light. Albert Donnelly is really sinister and evil.

The writing is taut, compelling and powerful. The plot is quite dark, unsurprisingly given the basis of it – the church, industrial schools, child abuse and murder.

The ending is a complete cliffhanger and I cannot wait to find out in the third book what happened to Noelie and friends.

*I was kindly gifted these books in exchange for taking part in this blog tour but all opinions are my own.