Don’t Wake Up – Liz Lawler. Blog Tour Extract.

Today I am more than happy to offer an extract from Liz Lawler’s tense and atmospheric psychological thriller – a book that I recommend highly to readers in this genre. After the extract you can find  my review and more information.

Don’t Wake Up.

Her eyes darted to the cardiac monitor on a trolley beside her.

She could see the trailing wires and knew they were attached to electrodes on her chest.

‘Look, I don’t mean to be rude. You’ve probably had a long day, but I’m a bit pissed off that I’ve woken up to find myself alone. Now just so we’re clear, I’m not going to make a complaint, but I do want to know who you are. I want your name and I want to know what’s going on, right now.’

‘Well, Alex,’ he said, raising purple-gloved hands in the air which held a surgical stapler. ‘Just so we’re both clear. Right now, if you don’t keep a civil tongue I’ll be inclined to staple your lips together. You have a pretty mouth. It will be a shame to ruin it.’

A wave of terror instantly hollowed out her stomach. Muscles rigid, eyes open, her thoughts, her anger and her voice were paralysed.

‘Temper isn’t going to help you here,’ he stated calmly.

Champagne and roses, she thought. Think of that. Patrick. Think of him.

‘That’s better.’ She could hear a smile in his voice. ‘I can’t work with noise.’

Scenarios played like a film on fast forward in her head.

She was in the hospital somewhere.

Someone would find her.

Someone would hear her scream.

This was a madman. A patient on the loose. A doctor? Or someone impersonating one? He had obviously taken control of one of the theatres and she . . . she had somehow stumbled across him. Her mouth, the pressure she had felt. The gagging after she dropped to her knees in the car park . . . He had brought her in here. He had hit her and then gagged her, with a cloth. He must have anaesthetised her. Chloroform or ether . . .

‘Please don’t scream,’ he said, reading her mind. ‘We’re quite alone and I really don’t want to resort to silencing you. I have a headache as it is. Cold wind always gives me one. Surprised you haven’t got one, wearing so little on a cold night like tonight.’

About the Book:

Alex Taylor wakes up tied to an operating table.

The man who stands over her isn’t a doctor.

The offer he makes her is utterly unspeakable.

But when Alex re-awakens, she’s unharmed – and no one believes her horrifying story. Ostracised by her colleagues, her family and her partner, she begins to wonder if she really is losing her mind.

And then she meets the next victim.

My Review: 

This was a fast read for me, in many ways your typical psychological thriller but it was superbly menacing and I give it extra points for being quite unpredictable – not necessarily on the “whodunnit” level, although Liz Lawler does a great job of obfuscating things – but more because it didn’t feel at all like things would necessarily work out for our main protagonist. Did all come good in the end? Well you’ll have to read to find out.

It has that addictive quality that I look for in this genre, certainly a page turner, also intensely creepy at times. Imagine you are assaulted but nobody believes you. Imagine then that at every turn you are looking more and more unbalanced but you know that you are not. That is an intriguing layer to Don’t Wake Up, I also give points for the fact that the characters mostly behaved reasonably given the circumstances. If I had one bugbear it was one police officer character that was way too caricature but I won’t say more because everyone reads differently

Overall Don’t Wake Up is a great read, especially as a book to sit down with when you just need to read totally in the comfort zone – I have no problem recommending it to fans of this genre, whilst it may not offer anything unique, it is accomplished writing and a banging good story.

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Purchase Don’t Wake Up (Available Now from Bonnier)

Happy Reading!

 

 

Latest Reads: The Lying Game Ruth Ware

Publication Date: June 15th From Harvill Secker

Source: Review Copy

The text message is just three words: I need you.

Isa drops everything, takes her baby daughter and heads straight to Salten. She spent the most significant days of her life at boarding school on the marshes there, days which still cast their shadow over her now.

Something terrible has been found on the beach. Something which will force Isa to confront her past, together with the three best friends she hasn’t seen for years, but has never forgotten. Theirs is no cosy reunion: Salten isn’t a safe place for them, after what they did.

At school the girls used to play the Lying Game. They competed to convince people of the most outrageous stories. But for some, did the boundary between fact and fantasy become too blurred?

And how much can you really trust your friends?

I’ve loved both of Ruth Ware’s books to date and The Lying Game was probably the one I banged through fastest – once I was in I couldn’t get out again, sucker as I am for a good tale that involves school clique cover ups and future consequences. This author  writes some of the twistiest tales out there and I’m never quite sure where she’s going until she gets there.

In The Lying Game we have four close friends who have hidden a horrible secret for years and now it is going to come back and haunt them. The group dynamic is tight and compelling, we follow along mostly with Isa, learning the back story and slowly discovering what has them so haunted. Cleverly done and intimately woven, The Lying Game is a mystery and a slow burn of a character drama, a beautifully done mix that keeps you turning the pages.

It is a little different from her other two novels, focusing more on the dynamics of the relationships than thrills and spills but certainly there are a few edge of the seat moments. The setting of Saltern is atmospherically described with the decay of the house the girls used to frequent equalling the decay in their current friendship as they all struggle to readjust and find a way out of an untenable situation.

I loved the village life focus, the wider cast suspicious and waiting – and the historical school elements were utterly fascinating. I refer you back to I’m a sucker for school cliques.

Overall a really great read once again from Ruth Ware and honestly I can’t wait to see what she does next having managed to write three very different novels already each one captivating me entirely.

Recommended.

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Purchase The Lying Game

Happy Reading!

The Last Cut Danielle Ramsay – Blog Tour Giveaway.

 

**Giveaway Now Closed**

Today I have the chance for you to win a paperback copy of The Last Cut by Danielle Ramsay. Simply comment on this post or tweet me @Lizzy11268 to go into the draw. Crime fans will want this one!

About the Book:

Obsessions can kill.
First, he selects them. Strips them of their identity.
Then he kills them. All for her…

DS Harri Jacobs transferred to Newcastle from the Met in the hope of leaving her past behind: the moment where her stalker turned violent. He left her alive, saying that one day he would be back. And she ran.

But a year later, she realises he has followed her from home. He’ll prove his devotion. With blood…

About the Author: 

Danielle Ramsay is a proud Scot living in a small seaside town in the North-East of England. Always a storyteller, it was only after initially following an academic career lecturing in literature that she found her place in life and began to write creatively full-time.

Follow Danielle on Twitter

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Happy Reading!

 

Latest Reads: Don’t Look for Me – Mason Cross

Publication Date: Available Now from Orion

Source: Purchased Copy

Don’t look for me.

It was a simple instruction. And for six years Carter Blake has kept his word. He hasn’t looked for the woman he once loved and lost. But now her life is in danger and Blake is forced to break that promise.

Trenton Gage is a hitman with a talent for finding people – dead or alive. His latest job is to track down a woman who’s on the run, harbouring a secret many would kill for.

It turns out Blake and Gage are after the same person – but who will get to her first?

I love a good thriller, me, but they have to be actually thrilling with characters that are more than cardboard cut outs running around with guns and there has to be some heart and soul in there otherwise I get bored and grumpy.

Enter, a few years ago now, onto my reading list Mason Cross and the Carter Blake novels. Each one has been a pure joy to read and this one is no different in fact it is probably my favourite so far.  The reading adrenalin rush of these knows no bounds and they are fast paced, incredibly addictive, super compelling and definitely chock full of heart and soul.

Don’t Look For Me also has a beautifully twisted plot and a little emotional trauma for Carter Blake this time around plus it had Sarah who I really really engaged with (so let’s hope we see her again sometime) – really there was absolutely nothing at all that I did not like about this book. There’s not really a lot else to say, if you like thrillers you’ll love these. Handily enough you can read any one as a standalone – and although I would recommend reading in order for full immersion ( The Killing Season would be where to start) actually Don’t Look For Me would be a great entry point into the series so what the heck,  go for your life.

A hot book for the hot weather – fantastic. Highly Recommended.

Find out More

Follow the author on TWITTER (he’s Ava’s Dad you know)

Purchase Don’t Look For Me

Happy Reading!

Latest Reads: Last Seen Lucy Clarke.

 

Publication Date: June 29th From Harper Collins.

Source: Netgalley

Seven years ago, two boys went missing at sea – and only one was brought to shore. The Sandbank, a remote stretch of coast dotted with beach huts, was scarred forever.

Sarah’s son survived, but on the anniversary of the accident, he disappears without trace. As new secrets begin to surface, The Sandbank hums with tension and unanswered questions. Sarah’s search grows more desperate and she starts to mistrust everyone she knows – and she’s right to.

Someone saw everything on that fateful day seven years ago. And they’ll do anything to keep the truth buried.

I loved this novel – it is an extremely clever, emotionally resonant psychological family drama in which Lucy Clarke explores many levels of relationships and what can happen when something goes horribly wrong.

Two best friends. Two sons. One is lost, one is not. That  moment in time ripples both outwards and inwards during “Last Seen” as both families come to terms (or not) with a genuinely horrible loss. Too many people are keeping too many secrets but it is still utterly authentic and completely believable from the first moment to the last.

I love it when a novel in this genre gives you divisive and sympathetic characters, Lucy Clarke brings a huge amount of reality both to Sarah and to Isla. I will confess that I actually ended up detesting one of them (no spoilers!) but the road to that was rocky and incredibly addictive and the oceans (yes I did that) of depth in the storytelling, well,  simply brilliant.

I genuinely did not see where this one was going, that of course is a big tick for me as so much is so predictable (not necessarily making it bad but just taking something away) – Last Seen really DID keep me guessing as to what really happened the day two little boys ended up in the sea, on the way to that knowledge was a twisted and intelligently drawn plot that kept me immersed throughout.

In the end there was a bit of a tear in my eye. For what was lost and what was gained and for the child that didn’t make it out to grow up, but there was such a wonderful sense of closure to it all eventually that it was a genuinely satisfying read.

Yep. Highly Recommended.

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Happy Reading!

 

Leopard at the Door – Jennifer McVeigh. Blog Tour Review.

Publication Date: Available Now from Penguin.

Source: Review Copy

Stepping off the boat in Mombasa, eighteen-year-old Rachel Fullsmith stands on Kenyan soil for the first time in six years. She has come home.

But when Rachel reaches the family farm at the end of the dusty Rift Valley Road, she finds so much has changed. Her beloved father has moved his new partner and her son into the family home. She hears menacing rumours of Mau Mau violence, and witnesses cruel reprisals by British soldiers. Even Michael, the handsome Kikuyu boy from her childhood, has started to look at her differently.

Isolated and conflicted, Rachel fears for her future. But when home is no longer a place of safety and belonging, where do you go, and who do you turn to?

Leopard at the Door is a beautifully written novel that puts you right in the heart of Kenya, the beauty and the occasional horror of it and is wonderfully involving but occasionally very hard hitting.

Focusing on Rachel who is returning after a few years in England, the story follows her as she adapts back into her old life whilst realising that the Kenya she left years ago is not the same as it is now. Set in a period of the history of the country I know little about it was a fascinating and compelling story.

Jennifer McVeigh has an immersive descriptive style and we feel everything right along with Rachel as she comes to terms with herself and those around her, I was emotionally invested and read this in 2 sittings. There are some violent moments which cause a little gulp, I was also very taken with Rachel’s relationships with her family and the political landscape, it was all utterly gripping.

Recommended.

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Rock Beats Paper – Getting to Know You with Mike Knowles.

Today I’m very pleased to welcome Mike Knowles to Liz Loves Books – this is a post that was meant to run during the blog tour but slipped through the cracks – huge apologies to all concerned but better late than never!

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

The current book is titled Rocks Beat Paper. The novel is the sixth in the series about a career criminal named Wilson. In Rocks Beat Paper, Wilson goes to New York to meet with nine other men about a jewellery store heist. At first, Wilson can’t see a way to make the job work — there are too many people vying for control and too many layers of security protecting the diamonds they are out to steal. The death of the inside man derails the job and sends everyone walking — everyone but Wilson. With the crew gone and the diamonds still locked up, Wilson is free to execute the job his way. Wilson assembles his own team and sets a con in motion that will walk the stones out of the store and into his hands.

The plan took everything into account — everything except the number of people out to steal the diamonds. Everyone is playing to win and no one is willing to walk away because the job is about more than money, the job is about diamonds. And in this game, rocks beat paper every time.

Academic or creative at school?

Looking back, I would say creative. As a kid, I took a by-any-means-necessary approach to doodling. I had stories floating around in my head and I loved to put them down on paper. I didn’t consider using words instead of pictures until I was a lot older and it was less socially acceptable to doodle all day.

First job you *really* wanted to do?

I wanted to be a police officer when I was younger. I think it was less about the job and more about the stories. I liked thinking about being a police officer and the kinds of things that could happen in a job like that. Most of my interest was in the daydreaming about the job rather than the job itself. I didn’t go that route when I got older, but I never stopped thinking about cops and robber type stories.

Do you remember the moment you first wanted to write?

I think I realized that I wanted to be a writer later than most. I always loved books and I spent most of my youth reading, and looking for, every crime novel I could get my hands on. I didn’t realize that I wanted to write my own stories until I took a creative writing class in my fourth year of university. I think the course had such an impact on me because I had been on a steady diet of writing about things other people told me to write about for years — the sudden freedom to write whatever I wanted sparked something in me and I never stopped writing.

Who are your real life heroes?

I geek out pretty hard for other writers. I really admire people who have the ability to consistently push boundaries with their work. When I was younger, I would find a series and devour it as fast as possible. There were times when I would find a book that strayed from a series; that used to drive me nuts. There was a formula that worked, and that I loved, and I was always disappointed when a writer went in another direction. After writing a few books of my own, my opinion has changed. I’d like to think that I have developed a greater appreciation for the craft of writing and I am a bit more aware of the writer’s presence in the book. What used to bother me is now something that I admire in other writers. There are a lot of fantastic writers who seem to push against the idea that they have to be a certain kind of writer, or the idea that they have to stay faithful to a particular character or genre. That ability to be fluid and the skill to craft something unique is something wonderful to find and something that I take inspiration from.

Thank you!

About the Book:

A phone call brought Wilson and nine other men to a job in New York. At first, he couldn’t see a way to make the heist work, but the score — millions of dollars in diamonds — kept him looking. Wilson came up with a plan he knew would work . . . until the inside man got killed and took the job with him.

With no way inside, the crew walks away without the diamonds. Alone, Wilson is free to execute the job his way. Wilson sets a con in motion that should run as predictably as a trail of dominoes — except the con doesn’t rely on inanimate tiles, it relies on people.

Wilson pushes all of the pieces across the board only to find out that there are other players making their own moves against him. Everyone is playing to win and no one is willing to walk away because the job is about more than money, the job is about diamonds. And in this game, rocks beat paper every time.

About the Author:

Mike Knowles lives in Hamilton with his wife, children, and dog. His Wilson mystery In Plain Sight was shortlisted for the Arthur Ellis Award for best crime novel.

You can Purchase Rock Beats Paper HERE.

Happy Reading!

Latest Reads: You Can Run – Steve Mosby

Publication Date: Available Now from Orion

Source: Purchased Copy

When a stolen car crashes into a house on a suburban street, the police are shocked to discover a woman being held captive inside the building. As the remains of many more victims are found in the house, it seems that the Red River Killer – who has been abducting women for twenty years and taunting the police with letters about his crimes – has finally been identified.

As the hunt for the killer intensifies, DI Will Turner finds the investigation edging dangerously close to uncovering his own demons. He must be the one to catch the killer while keeping his own past buried. The clock is ticking, and there are lives at stake…

I’m crazy about this book because it hooked me straight in then I had to look threateningly at anyone who tried to stop me reading before I finished it. Then I finished it and cried. Even though it is a book about very dark subjects, a crime book with a big dose of creepy that kept me up at night, the emotional resonance Steve Mosby brings to his writing is second to none in the field and I felt every moment of it.

What this author does, not only here but in his previous novels, is put a little subtle twist on the genre, a clever bit of a run around things that makes you feel you are right in your crime reading comfort zone but about to be shoved off a cliff at any moment. And quite often are. Its a long drop that can leave you dazed in the best way. Always terrifically character driven I think “You Can Run” was probably even more so – not only in the creation of Will Turner who is incredibly engaging yet full of hidden depths, but in the wider cast and the intelligent manipulation of the various dynamics – add into that a plot that rather gracefully manages to defy expectations and assumptions and you are onto a real winner.

For that reason I won’t say much more about it. You don’t need details to my mind what you need is to know that this is a genuinely top notch, cleverly and beautifully written crime novel with a huge heart. So obviously I’m going to say Highly Recommended.

Find Out More

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Purchase You Can Run

Happy Reading!

Deadly Alibi – Leigh Russell. Blog Tour Guest Post.

Today I am very happy to welcome Leigh Russell to Liz Loves Books talking about Gender issues in crime as part of the Deadly Alibi Blog Tour.

Gender issues in crime

When I started writing, my protagonist was a male detective inspector, his character influenced by those created by other writers, like Dalziel, Morse, Frost, Montalbano and Rebus – and all the many experienced detectives I admired in fiction, hard-bitten yet retaining their deep humanity. At some stage, I felt that writing from the point of view of a man took me out of my comfort zone, and part way through my narrative my detective changed gender, putting me back in my home territory. And so Geraldine Steel was created, developing slowly as a character through the series. Readers learn little about her in my first book, Cut Short, a little more about her in the second book in the series, Road Closed, and so on through the books. And as is the case with the plot for each story, there are hopefully plenty of surprises for the reader as they follow Geraldine’s own story through the books. So in Deadly Alibi, the ninth book in the series, Geraldine faces one of the most shocking experiences of her life.

A few years ago I was asked to write a spin off series for Geraldine’s sergeant, Ian Peterson. This was a very exciting prospect, but of course I was now faced with the task of creating a male protagonist, a challenge I had deliberately avoided earlier on in my career. A male protagonist required some thought. I had to start thinking inside the head of a man. My husband suggested I might like to start attending football matches with him, something which had never particularly interested me. While I prevaricated, my son-in-law told me he thought this was a cliché, and on reflection, I concluded that Ian Peterson didn’t have to follow such stereotypes. He just needed to be established as credible, like any of my other characters, whether male or female. His gender was irrelevant. The approach seemed to work because he maintained his popularity with readers. When the spin off series came to an end, I was very gratified that his fans responded by setting up a ‘Bring Back Ian Peterson’ page on facebook.

My most recent protagonist, Lucy Hall, took me back to writing a female lead, so I started this new series confident that I was back on familiar ground. Lucy is in her early twenties in Journey to Death. How difficult could it be to think like her? I was young once, and can still just about remember what that felt like. But of course the world in which Lucy is in her twenties is very different to the world in which I was young. We had no internet then, and no mobile phones, and the impact of this opportunity for instant communication is possibly greater than any of us can really comprehend. So my third protagonist’s experience of the world is very different to mine when I was in my twenties. It really is a different world.

So the problems of gender are neither the most significant, nor the most difficult, challenge for a writer. One of the interesting features of crime fiction is the way it portrays social issues and the challenges we face living in society. We may all be very similar, but the world in which we live is constantly changing, in ways that alter everything, including our view of the world. As well as creating protagonists of different ages and genders, a writer has to recreate the world through a character’s eyes. And gender is only one element that influences a character’s view of a world which is changing faster than we can fully comprehend. It is not only the advances in forensic science that keep us crime writers scurrying to research what is current: the world itself, and our place in it, is changing.

About the Book:

Two murder victims and a suspect whose alibi appears open to doubt…. Geraldine Steel is plunged into a double murder investigation which threatens not only her career, but her life. And then her previously unknown twin Helena turns up, with problems which are about to make Geraldine’s life turn toxic in more ways than one.

Find Out More

Follow Leigh on Twitter

Purchase Deadly Alibi

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Happy Reading!

Taking a Few Days Off…AKA its time for Crimefest.

Yep it is that time of year again so there will be no new blog posts for a few days. First up for me in London the Orenda Roadshow – then all being well I’m off to Crimefest. Look out for live reports via my  Twitter and Facebook pages and a host of features in the next few weeks about what happens.

I’m hoping to interview some lovely authors and spend quality time with the bookish crew- no alcohol will be involved.

One of those things might be a lie.

Find out more about Crimefest Here

See the brilliant programme Here

Read about my adventures last year Here.

Happy Reading!