blog tour, books, reviews

Blog Tour: Firewatching – Russ Thomas*

 

ONE FALSE MOVE Someone is setting fire to Sheffield. It starts with small things – dustbins and abandoned sheds so people don’t notice at first. But the calling card is there if you look for it. WILL IGNITE Soon the fires spread to offices, homes, people. The Firewatcher’s followers are growing and they have one particular blaze in mind – one that the police would do well to pay attention to. THE CITY But DS Adam Tyler is distracted by a case, one that he is unknowingly connected to. And if he can’t discover the link between the fires and himself, he will burn – along with the entire city.

Russ Thomas was born in Essex, raised in Berkshire and now lives in Sheffield. He grew up in the 80s reading anything he could get from the library, writing stories, watching large amounts of television, playing videogames, and largely avoiding the great outdoors. He spent five years trying to master playing the electronic organ and another five trying to learn Spanish. It didn’t take him too long to realise that he’d be better off sticking to the writing After a few ‘proper’ jobs (among them: pot-washer, optician’s receptionist, supermarket warehouse operative, call-centre telephonist and storage salesman) he discovered the joys of bookselling, where he could talk to people about books all day. His debut novel Firewatching is the first book in the DS Adam Tyler series.

 

My thoughts:

This was an interesting first novel, it felt like an established crime series, which is impressive. The twist at the end was clever. DS Adam Tyler is an intriguing protagonist, seasoned enough that he should know better, but naive enough that he doesn’t listen to his own advice and bumbles in too deep.

I don’t know a huge amount about arson (I’m sure you’re pleased to hear) but it makes for a refreshing change from other crime plots by adding a layer of ‘is the criminal attempting to merely cover their tracks and destroy evidence or is there something else at play here?’ that I enjoyed as a reader and as someone who always tries to solve the crime as it unfolds (I’m the same with crime shows, I get it from my dad).

I look forward to see what Russ Thomas does next, whether in this series or with a different cast of characters.

*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: A Dark Matter – Doug Johnstone*

 

Dark Matter Cover .jpeg

After an unexpected death, three generations of women take over the family funeral-home and PI businesses in the first book of a brilliant, page-turning and darkly funny new series The Skelfs are a well-known Edinburgh family, proprietors of a long-established funeral-home business, and private investigators. When patriarch Jim dies, it’s left to his wife Dorothy, daughter Jenny and granddaughter Hannah to take charge of both businesses, kicking off an unexpected series of events. Dorothy discovers mysterious payments to another women, suggesting that Jim wasn’t the husband she thought he was. Hannah’s best friend Mel has vanished from university, and the simple adultery case that Jenny takes on leads to something stranger and far darker than any of them could have imagined. As the women struggle to come to terms with their grief, and the demands of the business threaten to overwhelm them, secrets from the past emerge, which change everything… It’s a compelling and tense thriller and a darkly funny, warm portrait of a family in turmoil.

 

 

Doug Johnstone is the author of ten novels, most recently Breakers (2018), which has been shortlisted for the McIlvanney Prize for Scottish Crime Novel of the Year. Several of his books have been bestsellers and award winners, and his work has been praised by the likes of Val McDermid, Irvine Welsh and Ian Rankin. He’s taught creative writing and been writer in residence at various institutions – including a funeral home – and has been an arts journalist for twenty years. Doug is a songwriter and musician with five albums and three EPs released, and he plays drums for the Fun Lovin’ Crime Writers, a band of crime writers. He’s also playermanager of the Scotland Writers Football Club. He lives in Edinburgh.

My thoughts:

This is a darkly comic tale of a family who not only bury your loved ones, but also spend their time following loved ones who’ve maybe strayed. I don’t really know how to describe the Skelfs except to say I loved this book. It made me laugh, it’s also got some touching moments. Describing it as Six Feet Under meets Private Eyes set in Scotland sort of gives you a really rough idea.

I am so excited that the second book in the series will be out later in the year too because it’s that compelling and fun, I need another dose asap!

 

A Dark Matter BT Poster .jpg

*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: Bella – R.M. Francis*

R.M Francis is a writer from Dudley. He completed his PhD at the University of Wolverhampton for a project titled Queering the Black Country and graduated from Teesside University for his Creative Writing MA.

He’s the author of four poetry chapbooks, Transitions (The Black Light Engine Room Press, 2015), Orpheus (Lapwing Publications, 2016), Corvus’ Burnt-Wing Love Balm and Cure-All (The Black Light Engine Room Press, 2018) and Lamella, (Original Plus, 2019).

Bella is his debut novel and a love song to the Black Country.

It is a text that deals with queer identity and experience, specifically in a non-metropolitan setting, showcasing the upheaval and difficulties facing the working-classes of post-industrial communities.

The novel plays with oral traditions of storytelling, using Black Country dialects and the different voices of multicultural Britain. It is also a novel that fuses different genre tropes. It is set in Dudley and follows several characters from different eras, attempting to understand the strange pull the local woods have. This rhizomatic, multi-perspective narrative is part ghost story, part social realism, part queer erotica.

BELLA is due to be published in Spring 2020.

Twitter

My thoughts:

Written in dialectical English, this multi-person narrative circles around the mysterious discovery of a skull found in a wych elm and the graffiti that appeared asking ‘who put Bella in the wych elm?’

I’ve been fascinated by this mysterious discovery since I read about it a while ago and Francis’ exploration of this mystery told through the lives of some of the residents of Netherton is clever and offers a possible answer to that question.

It’s an interesting exploration of identity, love, family and place.

 

*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: Right Behind You – Rachel Abbott*

Some doors should not be opened.

Some can never be closed.

Jo Palmer’s peaceful and happy life is about to end. Ash – the man she loves – will be arrested by the police. Millie – her precious daughter – will be taken from her.

She will lose her friends. She will doubt her sanity. Someone is stealing everything Jo loves, and will stop at nothing.

But right now, Jo is laughing in her kitchen, eating dinner with her family, suspecting nothing.

It’s raining outside. There’s a knock at the door. They are here.

A DCI Tom Douglas Thriller

My thoughts:

I hadn’t read any of the previous books in this series but this can easily be read as a standalone novel.

It starts as a family drama that quickly spirals into a nightmare as Jo’s family is ripped apart by the police, but all is not as it seems.

As the plot unwinds various characters have their secrets revealed and their dark sides exposed.

I really enjoyed this and it had enough twists and turns to keep me hooked, who was genuine, who was hiding things?

Focusing more on the victims than the investigators was quite refreshing as I read a lot of crime fiction and it so often shifts to the detectives, but this stayed on Jo and her experience.

*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: Loot/I’m With the Band – Barry Faulkner*


Two cases from the files DCS Palmer and the Metropolitan Police Serial Murder squad. Case 5 ‘Loot’ sends the team on the trail of stolen WW2 Nazi gold that seems to be the reason for two murders. But where has it come from and how much is there? Soon the body count rises as an old gangland adversary from Palmer’s past emerges together with some feisty women and an English MP all prepared to kill for the prize. Everybody is playing cat and mouse with the gold changing hands with every twist and turn of the story that takes Palmer out of London to Gloucester and then to Brighton for an explosive finale. Case 6. ‘I’m With The Band’ features 70’s rock band Revolution are still very big and packing out the major venues today but their original members seem to be dying in suspicious circumstances. Or so their manager thinks and he contacts Palmer’s number two with his fears. Palmer is not convinced until a nasty happening at Baker Street tube station underlines what the manager was afraid of. But who would want the band members dead? With a forty year career behind them it could be any one of thousands of past or present contacts. But this killer is confident, so confident he takes on Palmer via social network and tells him ‘catch me if you can’. But Palmer’s second in command DS Gheeta Singh was brought into his team because of her computer skills and is a match for the killer in cyber space. With just one original band member left alive the threat is real and Palmer must get to the killer before the killer gets to the member. The finale is an explosive one at a major Rock concert at the NEC. Both case move along at the usual fast pace and with the usual ending twist that Faulkner does so well.

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:

Having previously reviewed two of the other case files I knew I was in for a treat with these humorous crime files. Whether chasing gold bullion or hunting a vengeful serial killer DCS Palmer and his team manage to maintain their sense of humour and sometimes Palmer makes it home in time to enjoy Mrs P’s famous cooking.

Entertaining and clever, these Serial Murder Squad stories are a joy to read.

*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 Weighing of the Heart – Paul Tudor Owen*

Following a sudden break-up, Englishman in New York Nick Braeburn takes a room with the elderly Peacock sisters in their lavish Upper East Side apartment, and finds himself increasingly drawn to the priceless piece of Egyptian art on their study wall – and to Lydia, the beautiful Portuguese artist who lives across the roof garden.

But as Nick draws Lydia into a crime he hopes will bring them together, they both begin to unravel, and each find that the other is not quite who they seem.

Amazon Goodreads

Paul Tudor Owen was born in Manchester in 1978, and was educated at the University of Sheffield, the University of Pittsburgh, and the London School of Economics.

He began his career as a local newspaper reporter in north-west London, and currently works at the Guardian, where he spent three years as deputy head of US news at the paper’s New York office.

His debut novel, The Weighing of the Heart, was shortlisted for the People’s Book Prize 2019 and longlisted for Not the Booker Prize 2019.

Tumblr Instagram Twitter

My thoughts:

This was an interesting read with a very unreliable narrator in the form of protagonist Nick, who has plenty of secrets.

The writing is assured and clever, and the plot has plenty of clever twists and turns.

*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 Home – Sarah Stovell*

When the body of pregnant, fifteen-year-old Hope Lacey is discovered in a churchyard on Christmas morning, the community is shocked, but unsurprised.

For Hope lived in The Home, the residence of three young girls, whose violent and disturbing pasts have seen them cloistered away. As a police investigation gets underway, the lives of Hope, Lara and Annie are examined, and the staff who work at the home are interviewed, leading to shocking and distressing revelations … and clear evidence that someone is seeking revenge.

A dark and devastating psychological thriller, The Home is also a heartbreaking and insightful portrayal of the underbelly of society, where children learn what they live … if they are allowed to live at all.

Sarah Author Picture .jpeg

Sarah Stovell was born in 1977 and spent most of her life in the Home Counties before a season working in a remote North Yorkshire youth hostel made her realise she was a northerner at heart.

She now lives in Northumberland with her partner and two children and is a lecturer in Creative Writing at Lincoln University. Her debut psychological thriller, Exquisite, was called ‘the book of the summer’ by Sunday Times.

My thoughts:

This is a clever thriller, centred on two young women living in care and the complex relationship between them.

Both have secrets, some darker than others and those secrets are closing in.

Atmospheric and sinister, the lives of Hope and Annie are revealed in flashbacks as violent, tragic and damaging.

The Home BT Poster .jpg

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