April Book Watch: Waking Gods – Sylvain Neuvel.

Publication Date: April 2017 from Randomhouse Del Rey (US) and Penguin Michael Joseph (UK)

Source: Review Copy (Del Ray)

As a child, Rose Franklin made an astonishing discovery: a giant metallic hand, buried deep within the earth. As an adult, she’s dedicated her brilliant scientific career to solving the mystery that began that fateful day: Why was a titanic robot of unknown origin buried in pieces around the world? Years of investigation have produced intriguing answers—and even more perplexing questions. But the truth is closer now than ever before when a second robot, more massive than the first, materializes and lashes out with deadly force.

Now humankind faces a nightmare invasion scenario made real, as more colossal machines touch down across the globe. But Rose and her team at the Earth Defense Corps refuse to surrender. They can turn the tide if they can unlock the last secrets of an advanced alien technology. The greatest weapon humanity wields is knowledge in a do-or-die battle to inherit the Earth . . . and maybe even the stars.

This book kicks serious ass. No honestly it does. It was just the best read – thrilling, emotional (we’ll get to that!) incredibly addictive and insane as all heck. Sylvain Neuvel the punk rocker of American SciFi.

ANYWAY in case you missed me banging on about the first book in the series, Sleeping Giants, you can have a read of that review HERE and I strongly suggest starting there if you are not on this train yet – look we’ll only be at the station for a short while so jump on board.

Moving onto Waking Gods then, this has that quality increased by a factor of ten – it is fast yet complex, frenzied yet considered and has a whole lot of action, quite a bit of edge of the seat hair clutching and so much book trauma I can’t even come up with enough words to tell you how completely mad I was with the author when I was done. He’s going to hear about it though, especially if he’s stupid enough to let me interview him again – YOU CAN’T DO THAT. Even though you just did….

Like Sleeping Giants, Waking Gods has that beautifully authentic scientific edge, making the whole thing utterly believable. You don’t think giant alien robots from outer space can be believable? They can. Completely. As far as immersive reads go you won’t find better than this, or its predecessor for transporting you to a world other than our own which is, well, our own.

I’m not saying anything about my favourite character. Nope. Or the others. I’m keeping my lips sealed except to say be prepared for anything, trust no-one and go along for the ride – embrace the trauma people, there is nothing else like that moment a book grabs you by the throat and won’t let go.

I love these because they are pure, unadulterated entertainment. That’s not to say there are no important themes involved there are. Its not to say that it doesn’t have a cutting edge because it does – boy oh boy does it – but at the end was that beautiful, intensely satisfied feeling you get when you realise the first novel was not a fluke. Nope you are going to be in this until the bitter (cries a bit) end. And now the wait begins for the next one and everyone who knows me knows that I am NOT GOOD AT WAITING AT ALL.

Even if you have never read this genre in your life before make an exception and read Sleeping Giants and then read this. If you have but have missed these, hopefully I’ve given you a little push.

You are welcome.

Hold onto your hats though – tis one HELL of a ride.

HIGHLY Recommended.

Find out MORE

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To Purchase Waking Gods clickety click right HERE (UK) or HERE (US)

Happy Reading!


Rupture – Ragnar Jonasson – Blog Tour Review.

Publication Date: Available Now from Orenda Books (Translated by the brilliant Quentin Bates)

Source: Review Copy

1955. Two young couples move to the uninhabited, isolated fjord of Hedinsfjörður. Their stay ends abruptly when one of the women meets her death in mysterious circumstances. The case is never solved. Fifty years later an old photograph comes to light, and it becomes clear that the couples may not have been alone on the fjord after all…
In nearby Siglufjörður, young policeman Ari Thór tries to piece together what really happened that fateful night, in a town where no one wants to know, where secrets are a way of life. He’s assisted by Ísrún, a news reporter in Reykjavik, who is investigating an increasingly chilling case of her own. Things take a sinister turn when a child goes missing in broad daylight. With a stalker on the loose, and the town of Siglufjörður in quarantine, the past might just come back to haunt them.

So we are up to book 4 in the Dark Iceland series then and honestly I’m not sure what to say in this review that I haven’t said already – this is one of my favourite series in a quiet, contemplative kind of way and it speaks volumes really that I start reading them as soon as they arrive but take it slowly, the descriptive prose is to savour not to bang out in a sitting – at least for this reader

The characters have grown and developed so beautifully over the course of the novels but this one I think might be my favourite so far – I loved finding out more about Isrun and as for Ari well what is there left to say about him either? Gorgeous, insightful and brilliantly imagined, Ragnar Jonasson breathes life into his creations with every word.

In this instalment the tiny community of Siglufjorour is even more isolated due to a virus, Ari has a cold (in more sense than one) case to look into and as ever you are thrown into that claustrophobic yet utterly beautiful setting almost as if you are actually there – that is the sheer quality of the writing shining through.

One of the best things about this author is his ability to weave a web made of many strands yet at the end of the day bring them all together into a cohesive and wonderfully constructed whole – there are so many levels to the storytelling yet all are perfectly placed and utterly riveting. Rupture managed to both surprise and delight, engage and inform and there is nothing more really that you can ask for from a read.

Gorgeous. Icelandic Noir in a nutshell – that is Ragnar Jonasson and I really cannot recommend these highly enough.

Find out MORE

Follow Ragnar on TWITTER

To Purchase Rupture clickety click right HERE

Follow the Tour!

Happy Reading!

Lying in Wait – Interview with Liz Nugent.

Today I’m REALLY happy to welcome Liz Nugent to the blog (All the best people are called Liz you know) talking a little about Lying In Wait – a brilliant haunting novel that made it easily into my Top Ten of 2016.

So having loved Unravelling Oliver I have to say I loved Lying in Wait even more, it making my top ten this year – mostly I want to know about the creation of Lydia – SUCH a brilliant character, she drove me insane. Where did she come from?

I was thrilled to be in your top ten and am so grateful to you for all of the support since I started these book writing antics!

I don’t think there are enough bad mothers in literature. Bad fathers are plentiful but usually, the mothers are the ones picking up the pieces. I wanted to write about a bad mother, but then I thought ‘what if she is really deluded and thinks she’s a brilliant mother?’ So I began to write this horrifically damaged woman and for some reason, I found it easy to get inside her head and write from her point of view. Snobbery is hilarious and I had great fun with that aspect of her personality but I think I was probably highly influenced by other women in literature: Lady Macbeth, Medea, Mrs Danvers and Miss Havisham.

You’ve got a killer opening line that I won’t repeat here although it is in my review. How important is it do you think to draw the reader in from the very first page? Especially when it comes to psychological thrillers of which there are many and varied.

I am quite addicted to social media and I think that as a result, my attention span is now only about fifteen minutes long. And I think that’s the same for a lot of people so it’s really important to grab the reader by the throat with the very first line. It is crucial that there be a question in that line that demands an answer- the who or the why, or both. With both of my novels, I try to demonstrate what kind of character we are dealing with in that opening page and hopefully, the reader will be intrigued enough to keep going.

You concentrate in both novels on aftermath, rather than whodunit, which I find brilliantly refreshing. You kind of take your characters apart so the readers get ever more drawn into their vortex. And you’ve got a KILLER ending to Lying in Wait that still makes me randomly think about it now. How do you go about plotting and construction?

I am ok at plotting but structure is my downfall and in the case of both books, my editor played a huge role in the way the story unfolded so I must give due credit there to Patricia Deevy. The ending to Lying in Wait came at the last minute when I was up against a deadline. Without giving too much away, I knew that a certain character was going to be badly damaged but I didn’t know the extent of the damage until I went to write it. It is pretty dark. Readers have told me how shocked they were. I like to build expectations and then defy them. Har har.

Do you have a favourite character you have created? I’m actually quite fond of Oliver it has to be said. I do like the dark ones.

Yes, I must admit I have a soft spot for Oliver. I lived with him for a lot longer than any other character because I wrote Unravelling Oliver on and off over the course of about six years. When you write a character from a first person perspective, you really need to inhabit their mind and Oliver feels very real to me still. I could never condone what he did, but I understand it completely. He made some very bad decisions that led to tragedy for everyone who came close to him, and ultimately to his own downfall.

Having said that, Lydia is even more monstrous and even less sympathetic, but I understand her too. I’d quite like to visit her.

Do you have a book that you’ve read in 2016 that you would like to recommend to others? I know its hard to choose just one. I had 10 but I’m nicer to myself…

I just finished reading The Dark Adapted Eye by Ruth Rendell (writing as Barbara Vine) and am giddy with excitement about it. I cannot understand why I’d never heard of it before. It is absolutely superb and stands up to anything written by Du Maurier or the Bronte sisters. Secrets and lies and damaged women and social snobbery. Right up my steet!

Can you tell us anything about what is next?

The next novel is called Skin Deep and centres on a woman who is deeply scarred, inside and out.

Thank you so much! 

About the book:

The last people who expect to be meeting with a drug-addicted prostitute are a respected judge and his reclusive wife. And they certainly don’t plan to kill her and bury her in their exquisite suburban garden.

Yet Andrew and Lydia Fitzsimons find themselves in this unfortunate situation.

While Lydia does all she can to protect their innocent son Laurence and their social standing, her husband begins to falls apart.

But Laurence is not as naïve as Lydia thinks. And his obsession with the dead girl’s family may be the undoing of his own.

Read my review of Lying in Wait HERE

Find out more HERE

Follow Liz on Twitter HERE

To Purchase Lying in Wait clickety click right HERE

Find out more! Follow the Tour..

Happy Reading!



Latest Reads: The Graces – Laure Eve

Publication Date: Available Now from Faber and Faber

Source: Purchased Copy

Everyone said the Graces were witches.

They moved through the corridors like sleek fish, ripples in their wake. Stares followed their backs and their hair.

They had friends, but they were just distractions. They were waiting for someone different.

All I had to do was show them that person was me.

Like everyone else in her town, River is obsessed with the Graces, attracted by their glamour and apparent ability to weave magic. But are they really what they seem? And are they more dangerous than they let on?

I can’t speak for anyone else but I’m CRAZY about this book. Loved it. Completely.

It is one of those novels that just messes with your head slightly – The Graces are a family who are seemingly magical (it is said they are witches) and River is bound and determined to be their friend. But ulterior motives abound in this story and everyone has their thing…

I loved how Laure Eve kept it fairly ambiguous during the telling – are they Witches? Are they just the kind of rich that seems mysterious? River herself is drawn to them for her own reasons and they keep their own council – but maybe just maybe she can get with the in crowd. But as life shows us over and over again – be careful what you wish for…

It is a beautifully drawn tale of friendships made and broken when you get to the heart of it – all the characters are full of depth and contradictions – I fell for them all for different reasons, took a side, changed my mind, went with it a bit then was hit with an intensely clever and heart stopping ending which made me throw the book down and glare at it for a bit saying WAIT WAIT I need more! Sigh. Blinking authors. Luckily the sequel is out this year so not TOO long to tap my fingers impatiently.

There are some really good themes all hidden in the storytelling here – family ties, growing up and finding your own identity beyond loved ones, the closeness of siblings, its all in here and very beautifully done too. Always with that sense of otherness, the feeling that something is coming you can’t quite grasp and truthfully I didn’t grasp it at all, not really. Just read it. And wait….

The Graces was exactly the book I was looking for – it engaged me, made me want to be part of The Grace family, kept me slightly on edge plus I’m a sucker for a good yarn, this was a darned good yarn.

Bring on book 2! Sooner rather than later please. A pure pleasure of a read.

Highly Recommended.

Find out MORE

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To Purchase The Graces clickety click right HERE

Happy Reading!


April Book Watch: A Dangerous Crossing. Rachel Rhys

Publication Date: April 2017 from Transworld

Source: Review Copy

It was a first class deception that would change her life forever

1939, Europe on the brink of war. Lily Shepherd leaves England on an ocean liner for Australia, escaping her life of drudgery for new horizons. She is instantly seduced by the world onboard: cocktails, black-tie balls and beautiful sunsets. Suddenly, Lily finds herself mingling with people who would otherwise never give her the time of day.

But soon she realizes her glamorous new friends are not what they seem. The rich and hedonistic Max and Eliza Campbell, mysterious and flirtatious Edward, and fascist George are all running away from tragedy and scandal even greater than her own.

By the time the ship docks, two passengers are dead, war has been declared, and life will never be the same again.

I loved this SO MUCH. I’m on a run of excellent reads right now (bows down before the Gods of Literature) but A Dangerous Crossing was perhaps the one that I fell into absolutely – I have not read a novel in years that has so much rich, relevant and beautifully drawn detail about it whilst telling an utterly riveting, completely compelling and ultimately unexpected story. With characters to die for. This is seriously good stuff right here. I genuinely did not want this book to end because then it would be over. But all good things and all that…

I don’t think it is any surprise to anyone that Rachel Rhys is in fact the alter ego of Tammy Cohen – an extraordinary writer of psychological thrillers – who has now confirmed her writing distinction by giving us a gorgeous, authentic historical drama, still with a hint of mystery, but mostly a brilliantly done retrospective of a time gone by. Taking apart the social divides of the day, throwing her characters into a melting pot of  class and culture division and allowing them all to simmer, A Dangerous Crossing will steal your heart, as will Lily the girl at the centre of the storm.

The world was about to enter a period of utter madness back then (as it appears to be doing right now) and the sense of that is captured perfectly – whilst still not losing sight of the fact that people were still people, human nature is both a wonderful and an awful thing, on the ship with Lily are a whole bunch of people whose biggest problems and worries are little to do with the wider world. It is so cleverly plotted, so engaging that you will, like me, likely fall right into it.

Sublime writing and descriptive sense will put you right in the middle of proceedings, you’ll go through a range of feelings as you are reading, the end is KILLER on the emotions and this is one of those books you come out the other side of feeling vaguely displaced. I felt pretty much like I had BEEN at sea, took me a while to regain my land legs and honestly I just wanted to go back in. A simply wonderful reading experience.

This is the moment I try and sum things up in one easy sentence to finish off the review. How about this.

Completely F***ing awesome.


HIGHLY Recommended.

Find out MORE

Follow the author on TWITTER

To Purchase A Dangerous Crossing clickety click right HERE

Happy Reading!

April Book Watch: The Killer on the Wall – Emma Kavanagh.

Publication Date: 20th April from Randomhouse UK Cornerstone

Source: Netgalley

The first body comes as a shock

The second brings horror

The third signals the beginning of a nightmare

When fifteen-year-old Isla Bell finds three bodies propped against Hadrian’s Wall, her whole world falls apart. In such a close-knit community, everyone knows the victims, and the man who did it.

Twenty years on and Isla has dedicated her life to forensic psychology; studying the brains of serial killers, and even coming face to face with the convicted murderer who turned her world upside down. She is safe after all, with him behind bars.

Then another body appears against the Wall.

And another.

As the nightmare returns and the body count rises, everyone in town is a suspect.

Who is the Killer on the Wall?

It started with the bodies….Well yes, indeed it did and the opening salvo from Emma Kavanagh in The Killer On The Wall made me actually shiver – the scene setting itself would have been enough but then there were BODIES. And I pretty much continued to shiver my way through the rest of the novel as well and not just because of all the death and desolation.

Basically The Killer on the Wall is an utterly riveting psychological thriller with Ms Kavanagh’s trademark divisive yet endlessly compelling characters all living through a nightmare the likes of which is almost unimaginable. If you live in a small community and you know everyone, what do you do when there is a killer on the loose? Even more so when you thought it was all behind you and there had been many years of relative quiet and recuperation.

That is the situation the author throws her group into, all set against a haunting yet beautiful backdrop which comes to life in the telling. Descriptively this is her best yet, so as well as the really quite twisted yet extremely emotive plot developing you’ve got it all happening in a place of beauty, where nothing so ugly should occur.

I love the psychological aspects, I was particularly drawn to Isla who grew up to make a career out of trying to discover why some people can commit these horrific acts having seen the fallout with her own eyes, she is sympathetic and driven. The crime element – whodunnit – is fascinatingly drawn,  driven very much by the characters and how they see things. You may or may not see the end coming but to be honest, that may be the pay off but the sheer addictive nature of The Killer on the Wall is found not in the solving of the mystery but in the events leading up to it.

Another huge HUGELY excellent book from an author who is becoming one to watch in Crime writing circles. I’m loving each one more than the last and The Killer On The Wall is perhaps my favourite because it has such a brilliantly atmospheric ambience and a true page turning quality – it is honestly hard to put down once you start.

Wonderful writing, clever and taut storytelling and a definite tendency to make you want to sleep with the lights on.

Highly Recommended.

Find out more HERE

Follow Emma on TWITTER

To Purchase The Killer on the Wall clickety click right HERE

Happy Reading!


Fickle – Peter Manus. Author Interview.


Today I am very happy to welcome Peter Manus to the blog talking about his novel Fickle – information on the book and a link to my review follow and this was one that I really loved – mainly because it offered something a little different. It has divided opinion it seems, but for me Fickle was a wonderfully twisted and evocative read. So it was fun to find out a little bit more….


So firstly whilst I hate the “where do your ideas come from” question and usually avoid it, in the case of Fickle I have to ask because it is so beautifully compelling. So what inspired you to write the novel as a series of blog posts and the surrounding discussions?

I get why you would ask that with this book — a blogging editorial assistant spins out noiry midnight chapters of her increasingly scary life after she witnesses a train suicide and attracts some lovelorn deviant’s attention, with the story told solely through their blogs — one of those ideas you definitely only want to spin out once as a writer.  I got the tone of the book — the concept of a bunch of people sitting in the dark, no connection except the screens in front of them, getting increasingly close and needy and flirty and risky — during a period when I was following a few blogs. People get really frank and prickly and coarse online. Disagreements get raw pretty quickly. I never joined in.  I wanted to, just to sample the interaction, but I would have lost the invisible element that I liked a lot, and also the contributors on the blogs I followed all seemed fresh and wry and I didn’t feel like I’d come off that way naturally. I’m sure the experience I’m describing is extremely common, by the way, but that in itself — the notion that there are masses of timid voyeurs hulking over other people’s ranting and sniping and sex talk all night — was kind of eerie. So I started writing about a girl who sees a guy throw himself under a train, and she’s lonely but she writes well, so she turns to the internet for comfort, and she finds what she needs and that’s great, the way people can connect and grow a sense of trust when thery’re nothing but voices, but of course she also attracts some crazies . . .   And it seemed right to pitch it as noir because it has that element of stroking the surface of seemingly normal people and finding some really raw, kinky, dangerous instincts, both in ourselves and out there.

You have managed to get a diverse range of characters in here, all compelling, but all obviously seen through the filter of “online” where people can hide their true identities and claim whatever they like. Still, you begin to get a sense of them through their comments and it is very clever – how do you go about plotting and developing those character voices. Especially within a novel as diverse as Fickle.

The bloggie voices — the group of eight or nine groupies of fickel’s blog who blog-chat with her every night — came pretty naturally.  I didn’t plot them out beforehand.  I have a lot of voices in my head, like I bet a lot of us do, and they asserted themselves right from the start.  I’m glad to hear you could sense that they all have fully developed lives that we only get glimpses of in the book, because that’s true.  Of course, they’re all pretty frank about expressing themselves — why not, when it’s the blogosphere and you’re using a snarky pseudonym? — so they’re full-fleshed even though they don’t share much about their personal lives and there’s no visual of any of them. The idea was to make the reader feel included, like as a lurker who read along every night but didn’t happen to post.  Funny story, though — the first editor who worked with me on FICKLE got to know me as we went along, of course, and near the end he started asking me whether there was some girl’s blog we’d need to ask permission to publish. I finally put it together that his issue was that I come off kind of bland in real life and he found it increasingly tough to buy that all these voices came out of me. Pretty funny — personally, I suspect that most of us polite types are simmering maniacs looking for a vent.


Now our blogger is a Noir fan and the whole thing reads like Noir. I loved the underlying feel to it all. Are you a fan of Noir yourself? I am a bit of a sucker for those old black and white movies and I love a bit of Noir in my reading…

I’m a huge noir fan, so rabid that I’m always surprised when I rediscover that not everyone is, which is usually when I’m nattering on about some old retro pulp and catch the fact that I’m the only breathless one in the conversation. When I was young I used to grab books out of the library, like by Cornell Woolrich or Gil Brewer, stuff you could read quick, and read them while driving. I’m not recommending this or anything, of course, but there was a lot of open highway where I was and it was part of the ritual. I thought Cornell Woolrich wrote beautifully — all about murder and gore but with a lovely light touch — and was offended when I learned that he considered himself a failure. I guess he was going for something other than the simple, dark-yet-lyrical tales he spun out so well.  I always thought that these books, plus the B films like Kiss of Death and The Woman in the Window and Deadlier than the Male, were actually meant as black humor. When I figured out that noir is a reflection of post-war moral nihilism and the lost American dream and everything, I remember thinking, yeah, but it’s all a tiny bit tongue-in-cheek, right?  I mean, Patricia Highsmith’s Ripley books are plenty dark, but there’s a black comedy element throughout — Tom’s psychotic, sure, but he doesn’t stay all that sullen and has a lot of lighthearted fun between the occasional murders.

Fickle is what I call an interpretive novel – in that you leave a lot of room for the reader to filter it through their own thinking so to speak. Deliberate? What do you hope readers take away from it?

The way I saw it, I was, first and foremost, writing a novel which takes place only in the blogosphere. It wasn’t to be a gimmick and I so had to be true to the big empty cheat that the blogosphere is, ultimately.  People lie in FICKLE — scalding, evil whoppers — and I wanted readers to resist their growing realization that there was a manipulator in the mix.  People whose voices you love online can disappear, and people can take on fake personae — it’s all there, waiting to snare you and jerk your faith around.  There are three intended interpretations readers can take from FICKLE, depending on their own need for logic or level of cynicism, and also depending on how hard they fall for the dominant voices in the book. What should readers do with that puzzle when they finish? One woman who read it told me she went to a diner counter, ordered a soda, and watched it lose its fizz while she revived some of her own imaginative conjurings. That sounded about right to me.

What kind of novels do you yourself love to read? Is there a book you’ve read this year you would like to recommend?

Well, as I said above, I read a lot of noir. I tend to like epistolary novels, for some reason. When I was a kid, I thought that epistolary novels were written for women (like CLARISSA) but then I read THE MOONSTONE and also FANNY HILL and I was hooked. I think it’s because I enjoy the voice most about a book I’m reading, and with epistolary stories all the descriptions are actually expressing the speaker’s unwitting viewpoint, so you get this character who thinks he’s giving a straightforward accounting but is actually revealing all sorts of prejudices and aspirations and ignorance and other stuff.  Lately I’ve been motoring through some contrasting noirs, because I was asked to write an article about the role of law in crime fiction so I’ve been collecting prominent cop and lawyer tales in noir. I just finished CLANDESTINE, which is James Ellroy’s first novel. My guess is that most Ellroy fans who love the L.A. Quartet (the basis for the movie L.A. Confidential) already know this, but I did not know that CLANDESTINE is kind of a trial run for the L.A. Quartet themes and characters, with Dudley Smith (a psychotic cop) actually in the book. It was a cool discovery. I also just reread THE POSTMAN ALWAYS RINGS TWICE (James M. Cain) — it’s truly bleak — and BUILD MY GALLOWS HIGH (Daniel Mainwaring writing as Geoffrey Homes) and found another really quick read, IF I DIE BEFORE I WAKE (Sherwood King), where the bad guy is a lawyer and there’s a courtroom scene that totally distorts the law, so it was useful for my theme.

Finally are you able to tell us anything about what is next for you in the writing stakes?

My second novel’s called FIVE DEAD GUYS AND A GIRL.  It’s Boston-based, like FICKLE.  It’s about a serial killer — a strangely impassive, retro style lady with a French accent — and a young go-getter lesbian homicide cop who’s after her, and I did it as the two characters’ journals, which of course presents a huge contrast in the two voices.  It gallops along pretty nicely, and my goal is to have the reader be torn about which of the main characters to root for — killer or cop.  I named it FIVE DEAD GUYS AND A GIRL, to make it clear that there’s a black comedy element running through it, but there’s a lot of tension and some seriously excellent murders as well.  Diversion picked it up, and I’m really grateful about that, and we’re pretty far through the editing process so I’m looking forward to seeing it come out in 2017.

Thanks so much.

Hey, thank you!  It’s hugely gratifying for any author to have someone read their work and be curious enough to ask some great questions about it.

About the Book:


One winter night in Boston, a man falls to his death in front of a subway train. The sole witness, a shaken young woman, explains to the police how the man pushed by her as he made his way to the tracks. But when her blog turns up in the dead man’s computer, the cops begin to look for other connections. Was the man a cyber-stalker, charmed to the point of desperation by the irreverent musings of a 20-something blogger? Or are the connections between subway jumper and innocent bystander more complicated?

Read my review of Fickle HERE

Find out more via Diversion Books

To Purchase Fickle clickety click right HERE

Happy Reading!


Walk Into Silence – Getting to Know Susan McBride

Today I  am very happy to welcome Susan McBride to the blog in the latest of my “Getting to Know You” features.

Susan is the author of Walk into Silence – more details on the book and my review to follow.

Tell us a little about your current novel, what readers can expect from it.

Walk Into Silence is kind of a darker mystery for me. My detective-protagonist, Jo Larsen, had a crappy childhood, though it’s what propelled her into law enforcement. She really wants to make a difference and help those who can’t help themselves. She’s tough on the outside and seems to have it all together. But, on the inside, she’s very much a work-in-progress. When a concerned husband shows up at the Plainfield, Texas, PD to report his wife missing, Jo isn’t really sure if the woman is in danger or if she left of her own accord. Jenny Dielman was also a woman with a lot on her plate. She was on her second marriage after her first dissolved following the tragic death of her only child. As Jo begins to hunt for clues regarding Jenny’s disappearance, she unravels truths about Jenny—and the people around her—that shake up the case and her own life along with it.

Where did you grow up and what was family life like?

I grew up all over. My dad worked for IBM, which we called “I’ve Been Moved.” Every two or three years, he would pick us up and shift our lives somewhere else. So I was born in Kansas City then lived in Indianapolis, Chicago, Kansas City (again), Greenwich, Houston, and Dallas. Even though moving was hard and I hated it every time, I have a lot of good memories, particularly of spending time with my grandparents in the summers and for holidays (they were from St. Louis, which is how I ended up here). My grandfather was awesome and taught me so much. I wish he was still around so he could meet my daughter. He would love her. She’s as funny as he was.

Academic or creative at school?

Both. I was a serious overachiever. I loved school and the learning aspect. I was a test-taking fool. I also loved art (and still do!).

First job you *really* wanted to do?

When I was a kid, I loved to give my siblings tests and pretend to be a teacher. I also made pockets for books with index cards that I could time stamp so they could check books out from my library. There is no fun like forcing your bro and sister to check out books and take tests on the weekends! Maybe that’s why they’re not big readers to this day. Hmm.

Do you remember the moment you first wanted to write?

In the womb. Seriously, I can’t remember a time when I didn’t love books and, once I could hold a pencil, I was writing stories. I have the three books I wrote in fifth grade: two mysteries and a children’s book. I should have realized then it was in my DNA, but it took a while for me to realize, “This is what I want to do with the rest of my life.”

Who are your real life heroes?

My mom and other stay-at-home moms and dads! After becoming a first-time mom at 47 (a post-breast cancer miracle, not IVF!), I’ve realized what a struggle it is to balance everything, because…well, you

can’t. I’ve made a lot of sacrifices in my work life and social life because my daughter comes first. It’s a hard gig, but so rewarding. I wouldn’t trade it for the world.

Funniest or most embarrassing situation you’ve found yourself in?

I was at a writers’ conference, waiting for my handler to pick me up and chatting with other folks attending the event. When I glanced down, I realized I had a trail of toilet paper from one shoe (I’d stopped to use the potty after getting off my flight!). No one had said a word. Ah, well, see below where my life advice is “don’t be afraid to be a goofball.” I’ve had lots of practice!

DIY expert or phone a friend?

Phone a friend. It’s more fun to muddle through anything together.

Sun worshipper or night owl?

I’m a morning person, for sure. At about 10 o’clock at night, my brain starts turning off. By midnight, my mind is Jell-o.

A book that had you in tears.

Maybe I just haven’t read enough tear-jerking books recently (or maybe it’s ‘cause I’m mostly reading kids’ books with my daughter, and the Paw Patrol doesn’t exactly make me want to cry), but I’m going to say Walk Into Silence, even though it’s my own book and that might not be kosher! But the ending makes me tear-up to this day. Writing it was the same way.

A book that made you laugh out loud.

All time favorite LOL book is One for the Money by Janet Evanovich. Most recently, Matthew Norman’s We Are All Damaged.

One piece of life advice you give everyone

Don’t take yourself too seriously. It’s okay to be a goofball, and it’s okay that everyone’s not going to like you, whether you’re a goofball or not. Just enjoy the ride!

Great advice! Thanks so much Susan.

About the Book:

Publication Date: Available Now from Thomas and Mercer

Source: Netgalley

A woman vanishes from a Texas town. Did she simply run off, or is something darker at play?

When Patrick Dielman shows up at Detective Jo Larsen’s desk insisting that his wife, Jenny, is missing, Jo wonders if it’s a case of a bored housewife running away.

But as she digs deeper into Jenny’s life, Jo learns that Dielman keeps a stranglehold on the family finances, down to the last nickel, and that Jenny’s first marriage dissolved following the death of her young son. By all accounts—including her doctor’s—she never recovered from the loss. Between a controlling husband, a tragic past, and a callous ex-husband, Jo can’t be sure if she should suspect foul play or accept that the woman may have wanted to disappear.

For Jo, whose own demons are shadowing her every step, finding Jenny becomes more than the typical protect-and-serve.

Walk into Silence is a tense and absorbing psychological thriller and Susan McBride writes with a sharp edge and a clever eye towards characterisation that just draws you in.

I liked how there was hidden common ground between the woman who has disappeared and the woman who is trying to find her – the plot is solid and addictive and the question of whether Jenny has gone by choice or by force is one that keeps you reading. The lines are blurred, there are some dark themes and current issues underneath the outer narrative and the whole story was riveting.

It is at times thrilling then melancholy, the storytelling is solidly compelling and its one of those books where you just want everything to be ok but realise that it probably won’t be. As a reader I became emotionally invested in the characters quite early on, always something that needs to happen for me to enjoy a novel.

Overall I thought it was very good indeed. And I’m happy that it seems this will become a series. I would love to read more.


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One Sitting Read: Let The Dead Speak – Jane Casey.

Publication Date: 9th March 2017 from Harper Collins.

Source: Review Copy

When eighteen-year-old Chloe Emery returns to her West London home she finds her mother missing, the house covered in blood. Everything points to murder, except for one thing: there s no sign of the body.

London detective Maeve Kerrigan and the homicide team turn their attention to the neighbours. The ultra-religious Norrises are acting suspiciously; their teenage daughter and Chloe Emery definitely have something to hide. Then there s William Turner, once accused of stabbing a schoolmate and the neighborhood s favorite criminal. Is he merely a scapegoat, or is there more behind the charismatic facade?

As a body fails to materialize, Maeve must piece together a patchwork of testimonies and accusations. Who is lying, and who is not? And soon Maeve starts to realize that not only will the answer lead to Kate Emery, but more lives may hang in the balance.

I just want it to be known that Jane Casey is now forgiven for making me wait over a year for this (how did I COPE) because it was worth the wait (and then some) it turns out that delayed gratification really is a thing. Just to be clear I’d rather really that she wrote a book a week but we can’t have everything in life. Never mind.

ANYWAY Let The Dead Speak then – another outing for Maeve and Derwent (swoon) and of course all the rest, much as I adore the main pair the group dynamic over the course of the novels has ingrained itself on my brain, in fact this time it was Chris Pettifer who made me snort a giggle with a throwaway comment that happened to mirror exactly what I was thinking in that moment. But I digress…

In this instalment a young girl arrives home unexpectedly to find her house covered in blood and her mother gone.  A murder enquiry is launched even with the lack of a body. Derwent is back from holiday, meanwhile Maeve is fretting her new power and responsibility whilst dealing with a incomer who doesn’t seem terribly useful. The neighbours are all a bit barmy, everyone is hiding something, so you know. Best get untangling that mess then which is exactly what our guys set out to do. Things are going to be somewhat fraught. WELL it wouldn’t be any fun if they solved it CSI style in an hour would it?

Look what I love about this particular series is the intensely absorbing writing with it’s ironically humerous undertones and the characters that do almost literally live off the page. I honestly have to remember sometimes that they are all fictional, not just those we see every time but anyone caught up in the current investigation. Jane Casey has a character writing superpower, nobody does it better. And I do mean nobody.

Added to that the plotting is so gorgeously realistic and tightly drawn that you never disbelieve any of it. TWISTED too, I do love a good twisty tale and this one had that in spades, especially with reference to some of the personal relationships and goings on. The emotional trauma is in there too, fair warning given, every time I go into a new Kerrigan novel I say SHE WON’T GET ME AGAIN but every time. Bam. Dammit!

I’m not going to say this is the best one yet because I always say that and whilst it may even be true, that is not the point. The point is that this series is consistently of the highest quality and improving ever more with age – Let The Dead Speak is simply one more pearl in an oyster bed chock full of them, it stole my Saturday (I love a good book thief) and I was happily immersed for the entire journey. Never one for backing off from the thought provoking occasionally controversial central themes, always moving her series characters forward and enveloping the reader more into their world, for me Jane Casey is the cream of the crop of UK crime writers. I look forward to each new novel with the fervour of a true believer and I have never once been let down. Not even for a moment, not even with a word.

On a personal note my love for Derwent STILL knows no bounds. Also a new respect developed for Una Burt during this read. I kind of like her. Mainly because I think Maeve really does too. YES I KNOW they are not real…

Sharp, clever, nuanced writing with a truly addictive flair and a deeply delicious dark heart.

HIGHLY recommended.

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To Purchase Let The Dead Speak clickety click right HERE

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Latest Read: My Best Friends Exorcism – Grady Hendrix.

Publication Date: Available Now from Quirk Books

Source: Purchased Copy

Abby and Gretchen have been best friends since fifth grade, when they bonded over a shared love of E.T., roller-skating parties, and scratch-and-sniff stickers. But when they arrive at high school, things change. Gretchen begins to act…different. And as the strange coincidences and bizarre behavior start to pile up, Abby realizes there’s only one possible explanation: Gretchen, her favorite person in the world, has a demon living inside her. And Abby is not about to let anyone or anything come between her and her best friend. With help from some unlikely allies, Abby embarks on a quest to save Gretchen. But is their friendship powerful enough to beat the devil?

Thoroughly enjoyed this homage to the 80’s which was my era, the story itself was like an 80’s horror movie, the book is gorgeous, a hardback imitating a high school year book and I spent half of the read going OH YEAH I remember that/them….

My Best Friends Exorcism is a story of big hair and demonic possession – friends for life Abby and Gretchen hit a slight snafu when after taking LSD Gretchen turns into a monster. The adults around are too wrapped up in their own idiocies to be of any use whatsoever and so it falls to Abby to work out what the all hell is going on and to save her friend. Lets just say it is not going to be the best year of their lives…

I like the way Grady Hendrix writes – it was absorbing, occasionally funny, sometimes downright gross, some of the descriptive passages seriously made me go ewwwww. I liked the vibe, the way the setting and the time came alive in the writing and embodied a lot of what I remember about that era – the obsessions and the clothes, the make up and the music, ESPECIALLY the music which is embedded into the narrative in a cool and very organic way.

It was randomly creepy, often addictive and had a melancholy yet somehow uplifting finish to it which left me vaguely teary. Like a trip backwards in time and by the end I just wanted to dig out the entirety of my 80’s movie collection (yes seriously I think I have them all) and indulge in yet more nostalgia.

My Best Friends Exorcism is both modern and retrospective, a throwback to a different way of life and a different way of thinking – a coming of age horror story with bite. Hey whoever said growing up is easy?

Not for the faint hearted but highly recommended none the less.

Find out more HERE

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To Purchase My Best Friends Exorcism clickety click right HERE

Happy Reading!