To Conclude a Trilogy…The Domino Killer by Neil White.


Publication Date: 30th July from Sphere.

Source: Netgalley

When a man is found beaten to death in a local Manchester park, Detective Constable Sam Parker is one of the investigating officers. Sam swiftly identifies the victim, but what at first looks like an open and shut case quickly starts to unravel when he realises that the victim’s fingerprints were found on a knife at another crime scene, a month earlier.

Meanwhile, Sam’s brother, Joe – a criminal defence lawyer in the city – comes face to face with a man whose very presence sends shockwaves through his life. Joe must confront the demons of his past as he struggles to come to terms with the darkness that this man represents.


So “The Domino Killer” then is the third book in the Parker brothers trilogy and also one hell of a finale – I read it in just over 2 hours straight (no way I was putting it down once picked up, way too addictive for that) – it often had me on the edge of my seat. I did actually pull hair out. Ouch.


Anyway, this is the one any fan of this series (which definitely includes me) has been waiting for, dealing as it does finally with the cold case murder of Ellie – Joe and Sam’s Sister – details of which have been drip fed over the last two novels, to prevent spoilers I won’t say more. Suffice to say it has been a fantastic backdrop to everything else that went on, giving a wonderful depth to the characters and an authentic edge to the people they are. By the time “The Domino Killer” arrived I was in it with them all the way.


I am more than a little in love with Neil White’s writing style, every time it just gets better and better – there is a truly brilliant subtlety to the words on the page even in the more violent moments – and it packs a heck of an emotional punch, at times you really feel it.


Crime fiction is an inclusive genre, there really is something for everyone, it is also a rather crowded one where sometimes the gems can get lost in the crowd. There are some fantastic British crime writers out there of which this author is one – for me he is right up there with Billingham and MacBride, especially when it comes to gritty realism and a refusal to pull punches. With this book that feeling has just intensified, so if you haven’t given Mr White a go yet then I’d highly recommend that you do. With this trilogy or indeed with any of the books that came before.


Pitch perfect pacing and delicate construction make these must reads for any Crime Fiction – fan, on my top ten “must read” list for a few years now, if this standard continues I don’t see that changing anytime soon.

Highly Recommended.

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Catch me later on the tour over at Janet’s place with a guest post.

Happy Reading Folks!

Looking for The Seeker – Guest post from S G Maclean.


Publication Date: Available now from Quercus.

London, 1657, the Protectorate of Oliver Cromwell.

No one knows where Damian Seeker originated from, who his family is, or even his real name. Mothers frighten their children by telling them tales of The Seeker. All that is known of him for certain is that he is utterly loyal to Cromwell, and that nothing can be long hidden from him.

In the new, fashionable coffee houses of London, a murder takes place. All London is ringing with the news that John Winter is dead, the lawyer Elias Ellingworth, found holding a knife over the bleeding body of the dying man, held in the Tower.

Despite the damning evidence, Seeker is not convinced of Ellingworth’s guilt. He will stop at nothing to bring the right man to justice…


S.G. MacLean: Looking for The Seeker

When I set out to write The Seeker, set in the 1650s London of Oliver Cromwell and featuring Damian Seeker, an officer in the intelligence services of the Protectorate, it was with more than a degree of trepidation. My editor had long suggested I should set a book in London, my other books, featuring my disgraced minister turned university teacher, Alexander Seaton, having been set mainly in Seventeenth century Scotland. I’ve lived my whole life in Scotland, have a PhD in Scottish History, and a PhD in that period of its history, and felt comfortable in that milieu. But London? I knew little enough about the Twenty-First century city, never mind its Seventeenth century predecessor. It didn’t seem possible.

But then I reminded myself of 2 things:

1) I am a sentient adult

2) There had been a time in my life when I hadn’t known anything about C17th Scotland either.

So, I set to work. Almost immediately, I spotted that BBC4 was airing a documentary, presented by Dan Cruickshank, on London in the C17th. I sat down in front of it, a bit apprehensively, and to be honest, a bit grumpily, not expecting to be impressed. But, oh my goodness! How wrong I was. Cruickshank is an engaging and enthusiastic presenter, and he soon had me in the palm of his hand. When he came to the emergence of the phenomenon of the London coffee House, I was absolutely hooked. In the coffee houses, I found my story. In these amazingly egalitarian institutions, strangers and friends from all walks of life could meet to smoke, drink the intoxicating new brew, and discuss every piece of news and rumour of the day. It seemed the perfect setting for a murder mystery. Introducing female characters required a little ingenuity – they weren’t that egalitarian, but the coffee house provided the perfect springboard in to the teeming world of news men, printers, wealthy merchants, foreign travellers, Protectorate agents and Royalist spies that was Cromwellian London.

I also now had the perfect excuse to indulge my chief, costly passion – the purchase of books. Books on coffee houses, on spies, on the new mania for printed news; books on English furniture, fashion, books of maps, surveys of the city, memoirs and biography, more maps. And then there were the CDs – C17th English and Dutch music – essential; an audio version of the Tempest with Ian McKellan; Kenneth Branagh’s brilliant reading of the Diary of Samuel Pepys. Some more maps.

This was all very well – and I do this with every book (although usually with less of an obsession with maps), but the most important way for me to feel my way in to a setting is through my feet, or rather my eyes, as my feet take me round the places my seventeenth century characters would have walked. London, of course, presented me with a couple of problems:

1) I live north of Inverness.

2) The Seeker is set in 1654, i.e. 12 years before the Great Fire burned much of the place to the ground.


1) Inverness has an airport.

2) Despite the very elegant plans for rebuilding the city that Charles II had John Evelyn and Christopher Wren, amongst others, draw up, Londoners, God bless them, had no intention of waiting for beautification; they simply came back in from the fields to which they had fled and threw up new houses where the old ones had stood. The result of this is that much of the street layout from Damian Seeker’s city is relatively unchanged, and most still have their amazingly evocative names. It is still possible to walk from the Tower in the east to the – albeit new – St Paul’s in the west of the city on largely the same streets, along the same street pattern that existed in the 1650s. More than that, there are still some miraculous survivals of those pre-fire days. One is the church of St Olave on the corner of Hart Street and Seething Lane, where Pepys and his magnificent, much put-upon wife worshipped, another is St Michael’s Church, facing directly on to Cornhill in the very heart of the City of London, utterly dwarfed by the surrounding modern financial institutions. Go down the narrow St Michael’s Alley at its side, and you come upon a wine bar with a plaque beside the door telling you this is the site if the very first coffee house in London. Go around the corner, and you find yourself looking at a tiny churchyard, a lovely quiet green space left over from the medieval city and tucked away just yards from one of the busiest commercial centres in the world.

I got very sore feet, walking the streets from the Tower of London, along through the City and down past St Pauls to the Temple and so to the river and towards Westminster, but Damian Seeker’s London became more alive to me with every step. It wasn’t long before I came to love the city I found underneath.

However, I should probably also mention the candles. Back home in the far north, in my little study, I wanted to create for myself an ambience that would take me back to that city as I wrote. As well as music, visual prompts, and sore feet, I felt the need for the appropriate aromas to help me recreate Seeker’s London, or at least to give me the impression that I might just be in a quiet corner of Kent’s Coffee house. I don’t smoke a pipe, and there is only so much coffee a person can sensibly drink. I decided that what I needed in my study were some coffee-scented candles. This was a mistake. It turns out there is a reason coffee-scented candles can only be bought on the internet. They turn the white walls of your study – and presumably your lungs – black. Don’t try this at home. But do try Branagh’s Pepys, the Museum of London, the Queen’s House at Greenwich, the V&A. And do walk the streets of London, until you too find its beating, historic heart.


The Seeker is available now:

July Release Spotlight: Husk by J Kent Messum


Publication Date: 30th July from Penguin

Source: Advanced Reading Copy

For a lucky few, death is merely an inconvenience. With the help of technology the mind can survive long after a body has been laid to rest. This afterlife, however, is far from paradise…
Rhodes is a ‘Husk’. It’s an illegal, controversial and highly lucrative job – renting out control of his body and mind to the highest bidder. It’s a sure way to gain a better life, but some clients go too far. Sometimes, he wakes up with scars.

“Husk”is a brilliantly imaginative, high tech thriller with some great characters which is very dark and totally addictive – speculative fiction with a real world authentic feel.

So if you are rich you don’t have to die. You can be downloaded into a virtual life and occasionally hire a “Husk” – basically a prostitute really, whose body you can reside in for up to 3 days. Not common knowledge in the world but it happens. Rhodes is one such Husk – driven by a determination to never again be poor, he allows himself to be used and often abused, never knowing what his client may or may not have been up to. Then he begins to get startling and horrific visual moments that he can’t quite hold onto….

This is a very clever concept executed really well – the author managing to balance great characterisation with highly compelling world building to create a fantasy that could oh so easily be a reality (I mean perhaps it is, how would we know?) – therein lies the real beauty in this one.

It fairly rocks along, Rhodes is a really terrific main protagonist, backed up by a great supporting “cast” and a rather unique and terrifying “bad guy” who truly gave me the creeps. Along with that we have some really gorgeous descriptive prose when it comes to the setting, the techno aspects of it are completely fascinating, defined brilliantly and never fall into the trap of becoming distracting babble.

All in all a terrific piece of storytelling. And if there is not a sequel I shall probably sob into my pillow.

Highly Recommended.


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Happy Reading Folks!

Liz Currently Loves…Freedom’s Child by Jax Miller


Publication Date: 30th July from Harper Collins

Source: Publisher Review Copy

Freedom Oliver has plenty of secrets. She lives in a small Oregon town and keeps mostly to herself. Her few friends and neighbors know she works at the local biker bar; they know she gets arrested for public drunkenness almost every night; they know she’s brash, funny, and fearless.
What they don’t know is that Freedom Oliver is a fake name. They don’t know that she was arrested for killing her husband, a cop, twenty years ago. They don’t know she put her two kids up for adoption.

Freedom’s Child is a brilliantly authentic and addictive read – one I devoured in two sittings and really did not want to raise my head from – it is dark, delicious and has the most amazing main protagonist, someone you will get right behind.

Freedom is in witness protection, she muddles through the days and nights, missing her children and taking no nonsense. When her daughter goes missing she sets off to find her, stalked by her husband’s family there is danger every step of the way.

Jax Miller writes with a kind of wild abandon that suits her characters and settings perfectly – there is a really sharp and imaginative edge to how she puts things across, enveloping the reader in the tale completely, making Freedom’s Child a really really great reading experience, one that will stay with you long after finishing.

And oh boy The Delaney’s – a family of trouble, but the most entertaining trouble ever – I adored them (well, you know as much as you can adore such villainous villains) but they were perfectly drawn – primitively savage with an underlying intelligence that made them so beautifully dangerous.

Freedom herself is flawed, unlikeable, distinctly random and sometimes really nasty – but that won’t stop you loving her. I’m giving huge brownie points to the author for not feeling the need to tone her down, or give her a genial vulnerability just because she is a woman. She is a raw, from the hip, realistic female lead, as such this novel has raised the level when it comes to writing strong female characters.

I won’t give anything away as to how it all pans out, but overall this is a tense, absorbing read with a restless energy about it that appealed to me completely – I hope to meet Freedom again one day, but whatever happens I’m fairly sure I’m sticking with this author for life.

Loved it. Highly Recommended.

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The Artificial Anatomy of Parks – Blog Tour.


Publication Date: Available Now from Legend Press

Source: Netgalley

At 21, Tallulah Park lives alone in a grimy bedsit. There’s a sink in her bedroom and a strange damp smell that means she wakes up wheezing. Then she gets the call that her father has had a heart attack. Years before, she was being tossed around her difficult family; a world of sniping aunts, precocious cousins, emigrant pianists, and lots of gin, all presided over by an unconventional grandmother. But no one was answering Tallie’s questions: why did Aunt Vivienne loathe Tallie’s mother? Why is everyone making excuses for her absent father? Who was Uncle Jack and why would no one talk about him?

The Artificial Anatomy of Parks is a beautifully written and moving debut from Kat Gordon – a deeply intense family drama with some brilliantly drawn authentic characters and actually a really emotional read.

A coming of age tale where family secrets are rife we see Tally growing up amongst an eclectic and fascinating group of family characters, where she is today very much informed by where she has come from.

The author has a really great way of telling the story in a gorgeously readable style and engages the reader from the very first page – this is a novel full of depth of character, emotional resonance and very insightful observations, as such it made for an intriguing read.

Kat Gordon is a writer to watch  – building the layers of her tale in a truly alluring way, keeping you immersed into the story of Tallie and her life this is a remarkably accomplished debut and I cannot wait to see what she comes up with next.

Highly Recommended.

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Anatomy Blog Tour Banner July 2015

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The Quality of Silence by Rosamund Lupton – Blog Tour

23310342Rosamund Lupton. Photographed by Charlie Hopkinson. No use without rights clearance.

Rosamund Lupton.
Photographed by Charlie Hopkinson.
No use without rights clearance.


Publication Date: Available Now from Little Brown.

Thanks to the publisher for the Advanced Reading Copy

On 24th November Yasmin and her deaf daughter Ruby arrived in Alaska.

Within hours they were driving alone across a frozen wilderness

Where nothing grows

Where no one lives

Where tears freeze

And night will last for another 54 days.

They are looking for Ruby’s father.

Travelling deeper into a silent land.

They still cannot find him.

And someone is watching them in the dark.

The Quality of Silence is a read that was worth waiting for (I’m a huge fan of Ms Lupton’s previous novels) and with this one she has taken a step up with some beautiful writing, an intense, chilly and emotional read that is utterly utterly gripping.

Ruby’s father is seemingly killed in a horrific accident – Ruby’s Mum however does not believe it and with Ruby in tow sets off across a bleak and unforgiving landscape to track him down. As the story unfolds from both points of view it is truly fascinating and this is one of those tales that you sink into without looking back.

Rosamund Lupton really does have the magic touch when it comes to characters, Ruby’s voice is amazing and really makes the whole novel so much more than it could have been – the yin/yang aspect between her observations and that of her Mother is well imagined and gives huge depth to proceedings, I loved both of them dearly.

As for setting, the author brings Alaska to vivid, realistic life around our two as they travel ever onwards, the beauty of the descriptive prose giving the reader a real feel for the challenges being faced, so realistically written that at times you may physically shiver, even in the current heatwave we are experiencing. Therein lies the power of words – in this novel that power is inherent in every chapter and is honestly addictive.

All in all then a truly marvellous read, one that will tug on the heartstrings, have you holding your breath, keep you turning those pages to find out the outcome, especially for Ruby and ultimately a story that you will never forget. I loved it.

Highly Recommended. HIGHLY.

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The Quality of Silence blog tour poster

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New Release Spotlight – Little Black Lies by Sharon Bolton


Publication Date: Available Now from Bantam Press

Source: Review Copy

Three confessions. Two liars. One killer.

Three friends have had their lives ripped apart. Their pasts haunt them. They are consumed by guilt. And they don’t trust anyone. Not even themselves.
But in their small, isolated, island community, trust is the only way to survive.
Now a child has gone missing.
And no one knows who to believe…

So, no Lacey Flint in sight – this is a standalone novel – and whilst I adore the series fiction from Sharon Bolton  if this is not the best thing she has written (so far) I’ll eat my hat.

Set in the Falkland Islands, a place that the author brings utterly, vividly to life, we find a small community where tragedy struck, ripping apart close friends and leaving a dark sense of loss running throughout the lives of the inhabitants. When a child goes missing it starts off a chain of events which will bring old suspicions to the surface and threaten to widen the rift.

This is one of those novels that is exceptional both in the beauty of the prose and in the sheer addictive quality of the story unfolding before you. It packs a real emotional punch with authentic, sympathetic characters whose complicated and tangled interactions are exquisitely drawn by the author, insightful writing that makes you hit a range of feelings as you read it, from angry to sad and everything in between – all the while managing the mystery element of the tale with aplomb, the reveal moments when they come are perfectly placed.

There is no way to put a label on Little Black Lies – it is a tale of friendship and family, a mystery but with a real eye towards the realities of life, I loved every last minute of it, seriously there is not a wrong step here. From first page to last it is enthralling, emotive and engaging and despite the trauma (I cried great big buckets of tears when it was over for reasons I can’t now put into words) I have no hesitation in saying that this is one of the best novels you will read this year. If not the best.

Three Little Words for Little Black Lies. Intense. Traumatic. Unforgettable.

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New Release Spotlight: Way Down Dark by James Smythe


Publication Date: 2nd July from Hodder and Staughton

Source: Review copy

There’s one truth on Australia: You fight or you die. Usually both.
Seventeen-year-old Chan’s ancestors left a dying Earth hundreds of years ago, in search of a new home. They never found one.
The only life that Chan’s ever known is one of violence, of fighting. Of trying to survive.
But there might be a way to escape. In order to find it, Chan must head way down into the darkness – a place of buried secrets, long-forgotten lies, and the abandoned bodies of the dead.

Way Down Dark was simply fantastic – a rip roaring kind of old school adventure set in Space, a perfect piece of storytelling aimed at the young adult audience that anyone of any age will absolutely adore. Forget The Hunger Games – you ain’t seen nothing yet…

So anyway we meet Chan, who is fending for herself after her  Mother dies, living aboard Australia – where violence abounds, day to day living is tense and insecure and also where things are about to get a lot worse as one of the factions aboard begins a huge power play…

I sunk into this one without looking back – from the very first page James Smythe captures the imagination, sets the reading adrenalin pumping and things simply get better from there. I devoured it, completely immersed in this world as Chan fights for survival and tries to maintain at least a semblence of moral code. Discovering the ship’s secrets she is about to face even bigger challenges.

This is so terrifically multi layered – imaginatively speaking it is a corker, the world building is superb, the characters are all vivid, alive and gorgeously drawn and the crafting of the story is top notch. Really really great writing and a true touch of storytelling genius.

Best thing is this is a trilogy, and as a part one it sets the scene with pitch perfect rhythm, making your teeth ache in anticipation of book two. The end packs such a punch, the final line is so inordinately fist pumpingly good that I practically jumped in the air before coming back down and thinking “Oh darn. Now I have to wait”.

I feel pretty much  the same about this one as I did reading Red Rising – the guys over at Hodderscape will understand that one and may read this line then find somewhere to hide…but this is me you are talking to – I’ll find them.

Overall a truly wonderful read  – the kind of book that writing was meant for, ingenious, artistic and most of all a hell of a story. And as always for me, the story is the thing…


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