books, reviews

Book Review: The Survivors – Jane Harper

I received a Netgalley copy from the publisher in exchange for an honest review.

Coming home dredges up deeply buried secrets in The Survivors, a thrilling mystery by New York Times bestselling author Jane Harper

Kieran Elliott’s life changed forever on the day a reckless mistake led to devastating consequences.

The guilt that still haunts him resurfaces during a visit with his young family to the small coastal community he once called home.

Kieran’s parents are struggling in a town where fortunes are forged by the sea. Between them all is his absent brother, Finn.

When a body is discovered on the beach, long-held secrets threaten to emerge. A sunken wreck, a missing girl, and questions that have never washed away…

My thoughts:

I love Jane Harper’s writing, how she makes Australia’s landscape into another character, the Outback, the deserts and now the Tasmanian coastline.

She explores the perils and darkness of both man and nature so well, that pull that the wild has on humans, but also the dangers it possesses.

The title is a reference both to the sculptures in the Bay and the characters of this novel – who have survived a terrible storm thirteen years ago which left tragedy in this small community. The deaths of three people have torn terrible wounds in their families and none of them have been able to forget the awful night.
Now a new death will draw them together and possibly push them apart forever.

Secrets and truths start to surface as the police dig into this case and its links to the past.

Utterly gripping and totally absorbing.

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Blog Tour: Murder Me Tomorrow – Keith Wright*

‘I do not know what second it will be, what minute it will be, what hour, or even day. But it will come. You may see it coming. You may not. Regardless, I can guarantee you; there will be a moment like no other when you will draw your last breath. Like it or lump it. And at that moment you will see your final view of the world. However, what I do not know, is whether your last glimpse will be the sympathetic countenance of a loved one or the grotesque, contorted, teeth-clenched face of a crazed killer. Nor do you. That is yet to be determined. Other options are available.’

Paul Masters, a family man, awakes to find his wife and daughter murdered. But how? It seems impossible. He is arrested for the crime. As he suffers a breakdown, Paul admits to the killing, but DI Stark and his team have serious doubts. When another horrific rape and murder takes place, these doubts seem well-founded, and the race is on to catch the maniac who will stop at nothing to feed his depravity.

In his fifth crime thriller, critically acclaimed author, Keith Wright, once again regales the stark reality of murder, derived from his hands-on experience as a CID detective sergeant working in an inner-city area. All Keith’s books are set in Nottingham in the 1980s – a time before political correctness and mobile phones. It was a different world.

Keith Wright is the Author of the crime novels in the ‘Inspector Stark series’ available on Amazon, Kindle and Kindle Unlimited|Audiobook on Audible and iTunes.

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My thoughts:

This was cracking, straight in with the horrific first case of murder, and off it went. The plot skips along, gathering pace as the team, helmed with ease by their DI, start to gather evidence and piece things together, all with time to hit the pub regularly.

Thoroughly enjoyable, with some good old fashioned detective work, interesting characters and a gripping plot, definitely worth a read.

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

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Blog Tour: Lady in Red – Tessa Buckley*

Pursuing the truth can be a dangerous game…

School’s out for the summer, and Eye Spy Investigations have a new case – looking for Lady in Red, a lost masterpiece by Victorian painter, Gabriel Pascoe.

The clock is ticking for Alex and Donna, because the artist’s house, Acacia Villa, where their friend
Jake lives, is due to be demolished, and vital clues may be destroyed. And Alex has an additional problem: he is terrified of snakes, and Jake has a pet snake called Queenie…

As the twins pursue their enquiries, they come up against the man who wants to demolish Acacia Villa. But Mr Mortimer is the godfather of their baby half-sister, Sophie, and criticising him could open up family rifts, which have only just healed.

Then Queenie goes missing, setting in motion a disastrous train of events that will turn the search for Lady in Red into the twins’ most dangerous case yet.

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Tessa Buckley was an inveterate scribbler as a child, and spent much of her time writing and illustrating stories. After studying Interior Design, she spent fifteen years working for architects and designers.

She took up writing again after her young daughter complained that she couldn’t find enough adventure stories to read. This led, in 2016, to the publication of Eye Spy, the first in a series for 9-12 year olds about two teen detectives. There are now two more books in the series: Haunted,
which was a finalist in the Wishing Shelf Book Awards 2017, and Lady in Red.

She lives by the sea in
Essex and recently completed an Open University arts degree.

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My thoughts:

This was a great, fun read, with lots of action and adventure, set in a British seaside town.

Amateur sleuths Alex and Donna make some new friends and investigate the case of a missing painting, getting involved with a rather unpleasant property developer in the process.

With lots of breaks for snacks, the detectives close in on the lost artwork and uncover corruption and bribery in the process.

A genuinely enjoyable and light hearted read, perfect for a quiet afternoon indoors.


*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

Book Blitz: The Comfort of Distance – Ryburn Dobbs


Sgt Hank LeGris stares down at the crushed and gaping skull in the dirt. It’s the second time in just a few weeks that human remains have been found in the Black Hills. Citizens are getting restless. Is it a rogue mountain lion, as many people suspect? Or something even more sinister?

Sebastien Grey is a brilliant forensic anthropologist with debilitating social phobia. When he is asked by his estranged brother to come to South Dakota and help identify who, or what is leaving body parts scattered across the county, he discovers much more than the cause of these strange deaths.

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Ryburn Dobbs taught biological anthropology and forensic anthropology at several colleges throughout the San Francisco Bay Area and spent ten years as a forensic anthropologist, working dozens of death investigations. In addition to his anthropological pursuits, Ryburn also worked as an investigative analyst specializing in homicides and unsolved cases.

The Comfort of Distance is Ryburn’s first novel and the first in the Sebastien Grey series. For more information about Ryburn, his blog, and updates on new books please visit www.ryburndobbs.com.

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Blog Tour: The Murder Club – Nikki Crutchley*

‘Not all evil, on the surface, is ugly and menacing. It doesn’t always lurk in city centres after dark. It
mows your lawns, frequents your local pub, takes its kids to school and contributes to communities.’

When the first letter arrives saying that ‘tonight it begins’, journalist Miller Hatcher ignores it. But
then the body of a murdered woman is discovered, strangled, a scarf around her neck.

Cassie Hughes has always vowed to find the man who murdered her mother. Cassie knows he’s out
there and wants him to pay, and Miller agrees to bring the cold case back into the public’s eye.

Logan Dodds has been obsessed with true crime ever since his sister was murdered thirty years ago.
He has turned his obsession into a career and has created the True Crime Enthusiasts Club and his
newest venture, True Crime Tours.

The lives of Miller, Cassie and Logan – all affected differently by murder – become entwined as The Scarf Killer, desperate for infamy, and Miller’s attention, makes his mark on the small town of Lentford.

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After seven years of working as a librarian in New Zealand and overseas, Nikki now works as a freelance proofreader and copy editor. She lives in the small Waikato town of Cambridge in New Zealand with her husband and two girls.

Nikki has been writing on and off her whole life and before she turned to crime writing had success in flash fiction. She has been published in ‘Bonsai: Best Small Fictions from Aotearoa New Zealand’, and ‘Fresh Ink’ anthologies.

Crime/thriller/mystery novels are her passion. Her first novel, ‘Nothing Bad Happens Here’, featuring journalist Miller Hatcher, is set on the Coromandel Coast of New Zealand. It was a finalist in the 2018 Ngaio Marsh Award for best first novel. Her second book, ‘No One Can Hear You’, was long-listed for the Ngaio Marsh Award for best novel in 2019. ‘

The Murder Club’ is the second in the Miller Hatcher series.

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My thoughts:

This was really enjoyable, a small town is suddenly on the map after a killer starts their spree, with everyone looking at their friends and neighbours slightly differently. Is the murderer among them?

Miller is a local journalist who gets drawn into the case by the killer, who starts sending her letters, in the sinister tradition of Jack the Ripper and the Zodiac Killer, among others. Instead of publishing them however, she hands them to the police, determined not to give in to the murderer’s desire for publicity.

But she can’t help but wonder about it, as more women are killed and it dredges up terrible things from the past – like the murder of Cassie’s mother, and the other terrible deaths Logan’s awful murder tours exploit.

The plot is clever, the ending satisfying, and Cassie and Miller make great characters – similar but different, both dealing with their troubled pasts and trying to heal, both stronger than they think.

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

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Blog Tour: A Conspiracy of Silence – Anna Legat*

When a body is found in the grounds of a prestigious Wiltshire private school, DI Gillian Marsh takes
on the case. The young groundsman, Bradley Watson, has been shot dead, pierced through the heart with an arrow.
As the investigation gathers pace, DI Marsh is frustrated to find the Whalehurst staff and students
united in silence. This scandal must not taint their reputation. But when Gillian discovers pictures of missing Whalehurst pupil, fifteen-year-old Rachel Snyder, on Bradley’s dead body – photos taken on the night she disappeared, and he was murdered – the link between the two is undeniable.
But what is Whalehurst refusing to reveal? And does Gillian have what it takes to bring about
justice?

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Anna Legat is a Wiltshire-based author, best known for her DI Gillian Marsh murder mystery series. A
globe-trotter and Jack-of-all-trades, Anna has been an attorney, legal adviser, a silver-service waitress, a school teacher and a librarian.

She read law at the University of South Africa and Warsaw University, then gained teaching qualifications in New Zealand.

She has lived in far-flung places all over the world where she delighted in people-watching and collecting precious life experiences for her stories.

Anna writes, reads, lives and breathes books and can no longer tell the difference between fact and fiction.

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Giveaway to Win a DI Marsh Series Mug, and the first four books in the Series (UK Only) DI Marsh Series First four books – Swimming with Sharks, Nothing to Lose, Thicker than Blood and Sandman.

My thoughts:

I really enjoyed this crime novel set in a small Wiltshire village, after a body is found on the boundary of an elite public school.

Dealing with the attitudes and insularity of the privileged school felt slightly familiar as my home town also houses (and shares a name with) one of the fanciest public schools in the country.

At this school, Whalehurst, there is a distinct us and them attitude with regards to the villagers, and the headmaster tries to push the investigation off his campus. However the dead body is a member of staff, and there’s also a missing student to account for.

Within the walls of the school someone knows what happened, and Detective Inspector Marsh is not giving up.

She’s a forceful and determined protagonist, putting the case first in her priorities as she searches for answers on behalf of the families and victims. She knows there’s something very wrong at the school, and she will keep digging.

Clever, gripping and with a sinister villain at the heart of it, this was a great read and perfect for a cold, wintry night’s reading.

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

*Terms and Conditions –UK entries welcome. Please enter using the Rafflecopter box below. The winner will be selected at random via Rafflecopter from all valid entries and will be notified by Twitter and/or email. If no response is received within 7 days then Rachel’s Random Resources reserves the right to select an alternative winner. Open to all entrants aged 18 or over. Any personal data given as part of the competition entry is used for this purpose only and will not be shared with third parties, with the exception of the winners’ information. This will passed to the giveaway organiser and used only forfulfilment of the prize, after which time Rachel’s Random Resources will delete the data. I am not responsible for despatch or delivery of the prize.*

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Blog Tour: Shades of Deception – Jacqueline Jacques*

Walthamstow, 1902: Archie and his police sergeant pal Frank Tyrell investigate the disappearance of teenager Lilian and the discovery of a corpse in the River Lea – Eleanor ‘Nell’ Redfern.

Did her father’s ambitious plans to marry her to a rail magnate cause her to run away to her watery doom? And what about Lilian Steggles, a star swimmer with her eye on the 1908 Olympics – what prompted her to disappear from home and where is she now?

Archie uses his artistic skills to identify Nell and thence to track down her story and that of the other victims of a dastardly scheme to exploit young girls for the benefit of lascivious older men.

Jacqueline was born on Anglesey and brought up in Walthamstow, where many of her stories are set. She is a retired primary school teacher, now living in Buckhurst Hill, Essex. She has published three books with Piatkus – Someone to Watch Over Me, Wrong Way Up The Slide and A Lazy Eye. This is her fifth book for Honno, which combine her love of writing with her other interests: art and social history.

My thoughts:

This was a really enjoyable, though quite dark at times, historical crime novel. Archie is a police artist, but seems to be quite involved in the investigative side too.

Surrounded by smart women, from his mother to his daughter, he knows that the missing girls didn’t just dissolve into thin air and aims to solve every disappearance, even if it isn’t good news.

Smart, witty and full of heart, this was an inventive and engaging book, I think I might pick up the others in the series, despite their historical setting, these feel fresh and just as gripping as anything set in the 21st Century.

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

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Blog Tour: Last Girls Alive – Jennifer Chase*

Half-buried in the muddy earth and surrounded by puddles of water lies the naked body of a beautiful young girl. Her pale skin looks like porcelain in the early morning light. Her fragile arms bent and crooked like a broken doll.
When Detective Katie Scott is called to the discovery of a young girl buried on the grounds of a former children’s home in Pine Valley, California, she’s hopeful it’s the end to a devastating cold case she’s been working on.

No one has seen Candace Harlan since she ran away from Elm Hill Manor five years ago. Her death will be a tragedy, but it will also bring peace to those who miss her most. But the girl in the ground is not Candace.
The victim is almost identical to Candace in every way, but fear grips Katie as she takes in the black ink that decorates the girl’s back—a terrifying message tattooed on her skin after she drew her last breath.
Forcing down traumatic memories of losing her own parents, Katie is certain someone mistook this poor soul for Candace, and that this crumbling home for lost girls is at the heart of this terrible crime. She sets to work digging into the tragic history of the owners who lost so many children of their own and tracking down the last six residents and the staff who cared for them—but no one wants to talk, let alone remember.
The next day, as second girl’s body is found down by the creek at high water, the same words etched into her skin. Katie’s worst fear is confirmed: someone is picking off the last of the Elm Hill girls one by one.

But what does the tattoo mean? And what monster would target these innocent girls who have already been through so much?

Katie must dig deep to confront her own fears and protect the vulnerable—but as the body count rises further, will there be anyone left to save?

An absolutely gripping, dark, and totally unputdownable serial killer thriller that will keep you racing through the pages all night long. Fans of Lisa Regan, Rachel Caine and Melinda Leigh will read in one sitting!

Jennifer Chase is a multi award-winning and best-selling crime fiction author, as well as a consulting criminologist. Jennifer holds a bachelor degree in police forensics and a master’s degree in criminology & criminal justice. These academic pursuits developed out of her curiosity about the criminal mind as well as from her own experience with a violent psychopath, providing Jennifer with deep personal investment in every story she tells.

In addition, she holds certifications in serial crime and criminal profiling. She is an affiliate member of the International Association of Forensic Criminologists, and member of the International Thriller Writers.

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My thoughts:

I enjoyed this, the shocking ending was just juicy enough to be very satisfying. I would have liked more about the mysterious bookshop run by the enigmatic Mr Holmes.

I was obviously delighted that there was a dog in the story, it always makes things better.

The mystery of the woman’s body found in the grounds of a former care home for girls, and the way it all links to terrible things that happened in the past is interesting, especially as there’s several red herrings thrown in, leading Katie astray.

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

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Blog Tour: Plague – Julie Anderson*

There are many ways to die. Plague is just one of them.

Work on a London tube line is halted by the discovery of an ancient plague pit and, within it, a very recent corpse. A day later another body is found, killed in the same way, also in a plague pit. This victim is linked to the Palace of Westminster, where rumours swirl around the Prime Minister and his rivals.

As the number of deaths climbs, the media stokes fear. Government assurances are disbelieved. Everyone feels threatened. This has to be resolved and fast.

The Westminster connection enables Detective Inspector Andrew Rowlands, working alone on a series of rapes and murders of vulnerable young people in central London, to finally persuade his superiors that there is a pattern. He is assigned to lead the case. Cassandra Fortune, a disgraced civil servant, is given the uncomfortable task of investigating the investigation, while joining forces with Rowlands to find the killers before Parliament rises for recess.

Together they navigate the arcane world of the Palace of Westminster as the body count grows. But someone is leaking important details about the case to the press and the media ratchets up the pressure. Misinformation and malice online feeds distrust and panic and the Black Death begins to stalk the streets of London once again.

Meanwhile the commercial and political world focuses on the launch of a huge government Thames-side building programme worth billions. Powerful forces, in Parliament and the City, are competing for its spoils. How, if at all, does this link with the killings? Drawn into the melee, Cassandra Fortune finds herself the object of the attentions of one of the major players, wealthy City broker, Lawrence Delahaye. The attraction is mutual. Fortune and Rowlands discover a shadowy underground network of influence and power as they race against the clock to prevent the death of more innocents and the destruction of the Mother of Parliaments itself. Cassandra will be forced to make a terrible decision as she faces ruin. Time is running out and it’s not clear what, or who, is going to survive.

Drawn into the melee, Cassandra Fortune finds herself the object of the attentions of one of the major players, wealthy City broker, Lawrence Delahaye. The attraction is mutual. Fortune and Rowlands discover a shadowy underground network of influence and power as they race against the clock to prevent the death of more innocents and the destruction of the Mother of Parliaments itself. Cassandra will be forced to make a terrible decision as she faces ruin. Time is running out and it’s not clear what, or who, is going to survive.

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Julie Anderson was a Senior Civil Servant in Westminster and Whitehall for many years, including at the Office for the Deputy Prime Minister, the Inland Revenue and Treasury Solicitors. Earlier publications include historical adventure novels and short stories. She is Chair of Trustees of Clapham Writers, organisers of the Clapham Book Festival, and curates events across London.

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My thoughts:

Inspired by the real plague pits rediscovered by things like HS2, and the very real stoking of paranoia around Covid-19 by the media, this is an interesting and twisting narrative, tracing the halls of power and influence as well as some forgotten parts of London’s history.

Underneath the city’s streets are networks of tunnels, sewers and rivers, long buried as London grew, and it is within those networks that Cassandra will discover terrible schemes and villainous murderers.

The fast paced plot, everything taking place in two weeks, the back and forth between the Houses of Parliament and New New Scotland Yard, the relationship that develops between Cassandra and DI Rowlands, all work together to create a truly modern thriller, riddled as it is with history.

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

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Blog Tour: The Accidental Medium Series – Tracy Whitwell*

Tanz is a wine soaked, potty mouthed, once successful TV actress from Gateshead, whose career has shriveled like an antique walnut. She is still grieving her friend Frank, who died in a car crash three years ago, and she has to find a normal job in London to fund her cocktail habit.
When she starts work in a new age shop, Tanz suddenly discovers that the voices she’s hearing in her head are real, not the first signs of schizophrenia, and she can give people ‘messages’ from beyond the grave. Alarmed, she confronts her little mam and discovers she is from a long line of psychic mediums.
Despite a whole exciting new avenue of life opening up to Tanz, darkness isn’t far away and all too soon there’s murder in the air.

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After a fast paced introduction to the world of clairvoyance, ghost busting, mystery and murder, Tanz is currently hiding in bed, having nightmares about a suicidal psychopath, drinking red wine, irritating her cat and waiting to be evicted. Life as she knew it seven months ago has turned on its head and only the prospect of a new TV job in Newcastle and a month with her best friend Milo can help pick her up off the floor.
But when she gets home, the Newcastle of more than a century before decides to haunt her bringing all kinds of spooks and horrors with it. She also finds that her new job involves more than it’s own share of intrigue and humiliation. Then it’s a case of six of one and half a dozen of the other, as Tanz, along with her dead friend Frank, attempts to expose a brutal murder that nobody even knows about. Join Tanz and her friends on another crazy, supernatural ride in GIN PALACE, the second in The Accidental Medium series.

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Tracy Whitwell was born, brought up and educated in Gateshead in the north east of England. She wrote plays and short stories from an early age, then had her head turned and ran off to London to be an actress. By 1993 she was wearing a wig and an old fashioned dress and pretending to be impoverished on telly in a Catherine Cookson mini-series, whilst going to see every indie/rock band she could afford.

After an interesting number of years messing about in front of the camera and traveling the world though, Tracy discovered she still loved writing and completed her first full length play. A son, many stage-plays, screenplays and two music videos followed until one day she realised she was finally ready to do the thing she’d longed to do since she was six. She wrote her first novel. A crime/horror/comedy tale about an alcohol-soaked, gobby, thrill-seeking actress who talks to ghosts. (Who knows where the inspiration came from, it’s almost like she based it on her own ridiculous life.) Then she wrote a follow up and realised she couldn’t stop writing books.
Now Tracy lives in north London with her son, still travels whenever possible and has written novel number four. Now being edited.
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My thoughts:

Both of these books were tremendous fun, I wish Tanz was my pal, she’s so full of life and determined to help people, she solves murders modern and historic, frees people from terrible, cruel ghosts.

Discovering she can hear the voices of the unsettled dead, she teams up with two older woman (one in each story) to help the dead and the living.

The writing is funny, moving and the plots kept me entertained and intrigued all the way through. I look forward to more tales of Tanz and her pals.

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