blog tour, books, reviews

Blog Tour: The Last Cuckoo – Maria Frankland*

Do you listen to your mother? Even after she’s dead?

Anna Hardaker is following you …

This seemingly innocent Tweet fills Jamie Hardaker with confusion and fear. After all, his mother Anna has been dead for nearly three weeks.

What follows is an orchestrated Twitter campaign to lead those Anna loved, and didn’t love so much, to the truth behind her “accidental” death.

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Maria Frankland’s life began at 40 when she escaped an unhappy marriage and began making a living from her own writing and becoming a teacher of creative writing.

The rich tapestry of life with all its turbulent times has enabled her to pour experience, angst and lessons learned into the writing of her novels and poetry.

She recognises that the darkest places can exist within family relationships and this is reflected in the domestic thrillers she writes.

She is a ‘born ‘n’ bred’ Yorkshirewoman, a mother of two and has recently found her own ‘happy ever after’ after marrying again.

Still in her forties, she is now going to dedicate the rest of her working life to writing books and inspiring other writers to also achieve their dreams too!
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My thoughts:

This was an interesting thriller, written with Jamie as our unreliable narrator – the reader only ever sees what he sees, and is he telling the truth?

Family is often the most complicated thing of all and the relationships within a family can be messy and toxic.

Jamie and his stepsister to be hate each other, Claudia hates her soon to be stepmother, Anna is tired of the bickering and Iain won’t tell his ex-wife to butt out.

After Anna’s death, someone is tweeting as her and the tangled family mess gets worse, rather than better as the ghostly tweeter starts to make claims that Anna’s death was no accident.

It was good to see modern technology integrated into the plot, a lot of novels seem to try to act as though social media either doesn’t exist or that characters just don’t use it. Which is weird and when so many people see it as essential, deeply unrealistic.

For a first novel, this reads as though the author has been writing for a while, it’s confident and assured, dangling red herrings and making the reader ask questions of the protagonist.

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

reviews, books, blog tour

Blog Tour: The Aosawa Murders – Riku Onda*

On a stormy summer day in the 1970s the Aosawas, owners of a prominent local hospital, host a large birthday party in their villa on the Sea of Japan. The occasion turns into tragedy when 17 people die from cyanide in their drinks. The only surviving links to what might have happened are a cryptic verse that could be the killer’s, and the physician’s bewitching blind daughter, Hisako, the only family member spared death. The youth who emerges as the prime suspect commits suicide that October, effectively sealing his guilt while consigning his motives to mystery. Inspector Teru is convinced that Hisako had a role in the crime, as are many in the town, including the author of a bestselling book about the murders written a decade after the incident. The truth is revealed through a skillful juggling of testimony by different voices: family members, witnesses and neighbors, police investigators and of course the mesmerizing Hisako herself.

Riku Onda, born in 1964, is the professional name of Nanae Kumagai. She has been writing fiction since 1991 and has won the Yoshikawa Eiji Prize for New Writers, the Japan Booksellers’ Award, the Mystery Writers of Japan Award for Best Novel for The Aosawa Murders, the Yamamoto Shūgorō Prize, and the Naoki Prize. Her work has been adapted for film and television. This is her first crime novel and the first time she is translated into English.

My thoughts:

This took me a while to get into as the first person, half of a conversation, style it’s written in for the most part, felt quite jarring and I needed to adapt to the rhythm of it.

I still can’t quite work out whether Hisako was behind the murders of her family or not – it’s left slightly ambiguous.

I can see the influences of Truman Capote’s In Cold Blood in the style and delivery of the various statements made by people involved with, and affected by, the murders.

This is a very clever book, toying with the reader, leading you off on various little detours into the lives of the different narrators. But always circling back round to the horrific events of that summer day.

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

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Cover Reveal: Living Candles – Teodora Matei


The discovery of a woman close to death in a city basement sends Bucharest police officers Anton Iordan and Sorin Matache on a complex chase through the city as they seek to identify the victim. As they try to track down the would-be murderer, they find a macabre trail of missing women and they realise that this isn’t the first time the killer has struck. Iordan and Matache hit one dead end after another, until they decide they’ll have to take a chance that could prove deadly.

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Corylus Books

Corylus Book is a new venture aiming to publish fiction translated into English. The people behind the company have very different backgrounds, but what brings us together is a deep appreciation of crime fiction and a strong interest in books from countries that so have been under-represented in English.

It took a while before it turned out that everyone’s thoughts had been on similar lines – that we wanted to take a chance on presenting some of the great European crime fiction that wouldn’t normally make its way into English. With a mixture of language, translation and other skills between the four of us, it seemed the logical next step to take.

The first Corylus books are a pair of Romanian crime novellas, Living Candles by Teodora Matei and Zodiac by Anamaria Ionescu.

There’s more to come in 2020 – starting with Romanian novelist’s Bogdan Teodorescu’s Sword, a powerful political thriller that has already been a bestseller in Romania and in its French translation. Sword will be available in May and will be followed later in the year by the first of two books by Icelandic crime writer Sólveig Pálsdóttir. The Fox will be available in the second half of this year, followed by Shackles in 2021.

And there’s more to come, with a novel by Bogdan Hrib set partly in Romania and partly in the north-east of England, a second novel from Teodora Matei, and we’re talking to more exciting writers from across Europe about what we can do together…

blog tour, books

Cover Reveal: Zodiac – Anamaria Ionescu

When investigator Sergiu Manta is handed the investigation into a series of bizarre murders, he can’t sure what he’s getting involved in as he has to work with regular detective Marius Stanescu, who has his own suspicions about the biker he has been told to work with, and wants to get to the truth. The twists and turns of their investigation takes them from the city of Bucharest to the mountains of rural Romania, and back.

Amazon

Corylus Books

Corylus Book is a new venture aiming to publish fiction translated into English. The people behind the company have very different backgrounds, but what brings us together is a deep appreciation of crime fiction and a strong interest in books from countries that so have been under-represented in English.

It took a while before it turned out that everyone’s thoughts had been on similar lines – that we wanted to take a chance on presenting some of the great European crime fiction that wouldn’t normally make its way into English. With a mixture of language, translation and other skills between the four of us, it seemed the logical next step to take.

The first Corylus books are a pair of Romanian crime novellas, Living Candles by Teodora Matei and Zodiac by Anamaria Ionescu.

There’s more to come in 2020 – starting with Romanian novelist’s Bogdan Teodorescu’s Sword, a powerful political thriller that has already been a bestseller in Romania and in its French translation. Sword will be available in May and will be followed later in the year by the first of two books by Icelandic crime writer Sólveig Pálsdóttir. The Fox will be available in the second half of this year, followed by Shackles in 2021.

And there’s more to come, with a novel by Bogdan Hrib set partly in Romania and partly in the north-east of England, a second novel from Teodora Matei, and we’re talking to more exciting writers from across Europe about what we can do together…

blog tour, books, reviews

Blog Tour: Death Deserved – Jorn Lier Horst & Thomas Enger*

Oslo, 2018. Former long-distance runner Sonja Nordstrøm never shows at the launch of her controversial autobiography, Always Number One. When celebrity blogger Emma Ramm visits Nordstrøm’s home later that day, she finds the door unlocked and signs of a struggle inside. A bib with the number ‘one’ has been pinned to the TV. Police officer Alexander Blix is appointed to head up the missing persons investigation, but he still bears the emotional scars of a hostage situation nineteen years earlier, when he killed the father of a five-year-old girl. Traces of Nordstrøm soon show up at different locations, but the appearance of the clues appear to be carefully calculated … evidence of a bigger picture that he’s just not seeing… Blix and Ramm soon join forces, determined to find and stop a merciless killer with a flair for the dramatic, and thirst for attention. Trouble is, he’s just got his first taste of it…

Jørn Lier Horst and Thomas Enger are the internationally bestselling Norwegian authors of the William Wisting and Henning Juul series respectively. Jørn Lier Horst first rose to literary fame with his No. 1 internationally bestselling William Wisting series. A former investigator in the Norwegian police, Horst imbues all his works with an unparalleled realism and suspense. Thomas Enger is the journalist-turned-author behind the internationally acclaimed and bestselling Henning Juul series. Enger’s trademark has become a darkly gritty voice paired with key social messages and tight plotting. Besides writing fiction for both adults and young adults, Enger also works as a music composer. Death Deserved is Jørn Lier Horst & Thomas Enger’s first co-written thriller.

My thoughts:

This was very clever, both authors are at the top of their game and it shows in this twisty, fast paced novel.

I liked the contrast between Emma and Blix, she the hot shot young reporter, he the dogged career detective.

As they attempt to track down the mysterious counting killer and unravel his obsession with celebrities, their own secrets are revealed.

I could definitely see a series of cases investigated by the combined skills of the protagonists and even see it as the latest Scandi Noir TV must see. That’s how good the plot and writing are.

*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: Bury Them Deep – James Oswald*

Bury Them Deep Cover

When a member of the Police Scotland team fails to clock-in for work, concern for her whereabouts is immediate… and the discovery of her burnt-out car in remote woodland to the south of Edinburgh sets off a desperate search for the missing woman.

Meanwhile, DCI Tony McLean and the team are preparing for a major anti-corruption operation – one which may raise the ire of more than a few powerful people in the city. Is Anya Renfrew’s disappearance a co-incidence or related to the case?

McLean’s investigations suggest that perhaps that Anya isn’t the first woman to have mysteriously vanished in these ancient hills. Once again, McLean can’t shake the feeling that there is a far greater evil at work here…

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.

BURY THEM DEEP is the tenth book in the Inspector Mclean Series.

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

In celebration of BURY THEM DEEP being the tenth book in the McLean series here’s ten quickfire questions with James:

Favourite Inspector McLean book to write; The next one, I’m sure. I hope.

Favourite crime book you’ve read; Guards! Guards! by Terry Pratchett, and I’ll fight anyone who says it’s not crime fiction.

Favourite Inspector McLean character to write; It’s a toss up between Grumpy Bob and Madame Rose, but Rose seems to be the fan favourite.

Favourite part of the writing process; Typing ‘The End’. I think it’s Dorothy Parker who said ‘I hate writing, I love having written’. I reckon that’s spot on.

Favourite way to take a break from writing; I had no idea such a thing was possible.

Favourite cow; I try to discourage favouritism in my fold, but probably Gertrude.

Favourite audiobook; The Rivers of London books, written by Ben Aaronovitch and narrated by Kobna Holdbrook-Smith. Probably. Ask me again and I’ll come up with something different.

Favourite recipe to cook; Chilli con carne, heavy on the chilli.

Favourite movie; I don’t think I have one. I’m not the sort of person who re-reads or re-watches much.

Favourite gig you’ve been to; The last Frightened Rabbits gig I went to was brilliant. They were supported by Canadian indie rockers Wintersleep, who I’d never heard of before but have become a dedicated fan of ever since.

My thoughts:

This started out as a simple police procedural and then veered off in another direction entirely, blending folklore and ancient religious practices with modern policing.

It’s all quite sinister and adds to the Scotland of popular imagination, full of witches and murderers (thanks Will S!), the legend of Sawney Bean, a cannibal, in particular, is crucial to the story and is explained in an opening coda.

Oswald is celebrating 10 Inspector McLean novels with Bury Them Deep and the twisty, turny plot and confident writing style show an author at the height of their powers.

The red herrings and sudden changes in direction keep you firmly engaged with the narrative and Inspector McLean is a likeable everyman protagonist.

*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 & Giveaway: The Six-Week Solution – Paula Darnell*

Never guessing that their very lives might be in danger, well-to-do women come from all over the country to stay at guest ranches around Reno to establish the six weeks’ residency required for a quickie Nevada divorce in 1955.

When a Circle E Ranch guest dies after her Cadillac plunges off Mount Rose Highway, a mountain road between Lake Tahoe and Reno, Washoe County Deputy Sheriff Ben Cameron is assigned to investigate the accident. His inquiries lead him to question everyone at the Circle E, where he meets Mary, an attractive prospective divorcée from New York, who soon has an accident of her own. In the meantime, Ben’s case takes a turn as twisty as the Mount Rose Highway, and when Mary suffers a second accident, he quickly figures that someone is out to get her. Unless Ben can discover who’s targeting the out-of-towners, some of them won’t live long enough to have their day in court.

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An instructor at five colleges over the years, Paula Darnell most often taught the dreaded first-year English composition classes, but she’s also been happy to teach some fun classes, such as fashion design, sewing, and jewelry making. Paula has a Bachelor’s degree in English from the University of Iowa, Iowa City, and a Master’s degree in English from the University of Nevada, Reno.

Paula’s interest in DIY craft projects and fashion led to her writing hundreds of articles for print and online national publications. She is the author of Death by Association and Death by Design, both in her cozy series, the DIY Diva Mysteries.

Paula lives in Las Vegas, Nevada, with her husband Gary and their 110-pound dog Rocky, whose favorite pastime is lurking in the kitchen, hoping for a handout.

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My thoughts:

This was a really interesting read, I didn’t know about the quickie Nevada divorce scheme that women like these undertook.

The story is involving and the characters of Mary and Ben are empathetic and well written. Ben especially is well rounded and carries the plot.

The string of mysterious deaths and tragic accidents that plague the women seeking to be free of violent and cruel husbands, at first appear as sad coincidences but the dogged deputy is connecting the dots, making the plot twist and turn as it goes along.

If you like historical fiction and crime, this is perfect for you, the period detail helps shape the way the investigation goes which grounds it in the time and place.

If you’d like to win a copy of this book, there’s 3 paperback & 3 ebook copies up for grabs – enter here.

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