Sweet After Death Valentina Giambanco Blog Tour Review.

Publication Date: Available Now from Quercus

Source: Review Copy

In the dead of winter Homicide Detective Alice Madison is sent to the remote town of Ludlow, Washington, to investigate an unspeakable crime.

Together with her partner Detective Sergeant Kevin Brown and crime scene investigator Amy Sorensen, Madison must first understand the killer’s motives…but the dark mountains that surround Ludlow know how to keep their secrets and that the human heart is wilder than any beast’s.

As the killer strikes again Madison and her team are under siege. And as they become targets Madison realises that in the freezing woods around the pretty town a cunning evil has been waiting for her.

The Alice Madison series is fast becoming one of my favourites – mostly it has to be said because of the character dynamics, I’m a fan of Madison/Brown/Sorensen and look forward to moving back in with them for a while.

Sweet After Death finds them heading to a small town that has lost its Doctor to an unspeakable act. Sent to help out the local police sort out the mess, they find themselves caught up in an act of violence that may not be as isolated as it appears.

I was especially taken with the setting for this one – Valentina Giambanco creates a claustrophobic and tense atmosphere around our crew as they get to work – moving them very much out of their comfort zone which keeps this intriguing and edgy. We learn a lot more about Alice whilst she is away from home and the mountainous wilderness closes in around her.

The path to the ultimate resolution is compelling and unpredictable, the supporting cast of characters all well drawn and fascinating especially Samuel. Sweet After Death is a novel you sink into. somewhat nervously making your way around Ludlow and waiting to see what will happen with a real sense of hanging onto the edge. Overall completely riveting.

Definitely a series to watch. Really very excellent indeed.

Recommended.

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Deadmen Walking Sherrilyn Kenyon New Release. Blog Tour Blurb.

Publication Date: Available Now from Piatkus

About the Book:

Hell hath no fury as a demon caged . . .

Centuries ago, a bitter war for humanity was fought and lucky for us, the Sons of Darkness were put down. Yet nothing lasts forever. When one of their most capable generals is unknowingly released from her infernal prison, Vine sets out to free her brethren and retake what was once theirs.

But things have changed, and now an old dalliance is her sworn enemy. Devyl Bane hasn’t forgotten the betrayal that damned his soul, nor is he willing to forgo his one chance at redemption. With a new crew of Deadmen at his command, he is the last hope humanity has to close the cracked Carian Gate and ensure once and for all that the Cimmerian forces never again see the light of day. And nothing will stand in his way . . . this time.

About the author:

Writing as Sherrilyn Kenyon and Kinley MacGregor, she is the New York Times bestselling and award-winning author of several series: the Dark-Hunters; the Lords of Avalon; and the League. She lives with her husband and three sons in Nashville, Tennessee.

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I Know My Name C J Cooke. Blog Tour Review.

Publication Date: June 15th from Harper Collins

Source: Review Copy

Komméno Island, Greece: I don’t know where I am, who I am. Help me.

A woman is washed up on a remote Greek island with no recollection of who she is or how she got there.

Potter’s Lane, Twickenham, London: Eloïse Shelley is officially missing.

Lochlan’s wife has vanished into thin air, leaving their toddler and twelve-week-old baby alone. Her money, car and passport are all in the house, with no signs of foul play. Every clue the police turn up means someone has told a lie…

Does a husband ever truly know his wife? Or a wife know her husband? Why is Eloïse missing? Why did she forget?

The truth is found in these pages…

I Know My Name was really beautifully done. A page turner of a novel with genuine emotional resonance at the core of it I was completely caught up in the story of Eloise and Lochlan as he desperately searches for her and she tries to remember what happened to her.

It is a psychological thriller but with a slightly different vibe. There isn’t a huge mystery or a huge twist in the tale, CJ Cooke simply opens her characters up to the reader and lets them see the story unfold. Left with two children Lochlan can’t understand how Eloise could leave them. A gap in memory leaves Eloise unsure of anything at all apart from her name. Separated by an ocean, you are rooting for these two to come back together.

It is difficult to say too much without giving away the heart of this book so I’ll just say that it is beautifully complex yet simply told in a way that really digs deep into the themes that anchor the tale. Unpredictable simply because it is not trying to hard to be clever, I Know My Name draws you in and leaves you at the end with all the feels. In some ways it is less psychological thriller and more family drama, pulling apart the layers of one family unit and letting you find the truth.

Really terrific. Just excellent.

Highly Recommended.

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The Black Hornet Rob Sinclair – Blog Tour Review

Publication Date: Available Now from Bloodhound

Source: Review Copy

What do you do when the love of your life vanishes without a trace? If you’re ex-intelligence agent James Ryker you search for the answers whatever the cost, however much blood and sacrifice it takes…

Six months ago Lisa was taken from Ryker, and he’ll stop at nothing to find out who is responsible and why. Following a trail to Mexico, the ex-Joint Intelligence Agency asset soon finds himself in the firing line of enemies he long thought he’d left behind. Set-up for the murder of a former informant, Ryker is thrown into a crumbling jail run by The Black Hornet, the notorious leader of a Mexican drug cartel. But what connects the cartel to the informant’s murder, and to Lisa’s disappearance? And just who is the mystery American claiming he can help Ryker in his hour of need?

So I’ve been reading Rob Sinclair’s thrillers for a while now, starting with the Enemy series and more recently Red Cobra, the spin off featuring “James Ryker” and I always always enjoy them and read them pretty much in one sitting – it was no different with The Black Hornet.

The thing that this author does so well is the fine line between thrill seeking and storytelling, you have to have great characters and you have to have levels and nuances for me to enjoy a thriller and you get that here. Some of the action in The Black Hornet is truly edge of the seat, the fact that you care about what happens making them even more so.  I would caution that reading the earlier books is probably wise, the ongoing underneath of it all would work better in full than in a vacuum.

The portions set in the Mexican jail were especially hard hitting – in a way that keeps you turning the pages – and the sense of it all is very authentic. I like Ryker as a character, I like his attitude, a very intriguing main protagonist to walk the road with.

Overall very good indeed. One of those authors that just kind of fell onto my must read list, pure escapism and always a darn good yarn.

Recommended.

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If We Were Villains M L Rio – Blog Tour Review.

Publication Date: June 13th from Titan

Source: Review Copy

Oliver Marks has just served ten years for the murder of one of his closest friends – a murder he may or may not have committed. On the day he’s released, he’s greeted by the detective who put him in prison. Detective Colborne is retiring, but before he does, he wants to know what really happened ten years ago.

As a young actor studying Shakespeare at an elite arts conservatory, Oliver noticed that his talented classmates seem to play the same roles onstage and off – villain, hero, tyrant, temptress – though Oliver felt doomed to always be a secondary character in someone else’s story. But when the teachers change up the casting, a good-natured rivalry turns ugly, and the plays spill dangerously over into life.

When tragedy strikes, one of the seven friends is found dead. The rest face their greatest acting challenge yet: convincing the police, and themselves, that they are blameless.

Because I am huge fan of Shakespeare and all that entails this book worked for me on every level. I lived this book and loved it. It is a homage to the bard and of course an atmospheric, beautifully layered and indomitably emotional story in its own right.

When you get sucked into a book to the extent that you feel the characters are quite quite real, when everything that happens is authentic and easily believable – when you get so involved that you do get angry and sad and all the emotional levels in between, that is when you know you’ve found one of “those” books. If We Were Villains is one of “those” books for me.

The comparisons to The Secret History (which I feel I should mention here) are for once quite valid, but shoot me if you like, I much preferred this. I’m not a fan of Tartt’s occasionally pretentious and seemingly self absorbed writing style that lacks any sense of editing, its not that I didn’t enjoy The Secret History or appreciate the talented prose I did, but it banged on interminably at times taking 5000 words to get as much depth into the action as M L Rio manages here in mere paragraphs. So as a very subjective thing for me this was much better. Plus I should probably say its similarities are less than its differences so any comparisons made are on the surface.

I read If We Were Villains in 4 hours stopping only for caffeine hits and got entirely caught up in this insular, elite and yes pretentious world of a group of theatre students whose friendship, love and obsession leaks off the stage and into their personal interactions. The author uses Shakespeare both allegorically and practically – the language they speak, the way they form ties, its all beautifully written and stunningly addictive. The last paragraph shot me off my chair, so perfectly clever was it, having been lulled into the ebb and flow of a novel that seemed to be done with me at that point suddenly going ha ha NO now you will think of me always. And I will.

This is going to be a book I return to again and again. For its rich language, its incredibly divisive characters and its beautiful tribute to the work of Shakespeare, a man who formed the basis of a whole lot of our pop culture language use today. For me it was spot on perfect.

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Exquisite – Sarah Stovell. Blog Tour Review.

Publication Date: Available Now (E-book) 15th June (Paperback) from Orenda

Source: Review Copy

Bo Luxton has it all—a loving family, a beautiful home in the Lake District, and a clutch of bestselling books to her name. Enter Alice Dark, an aspiring writer who is drifting through life, with a series of dead-end jobs and a freeloading boyfriend. When they meet at a writers’ retreat, the chemistry is instant, and a sinister relationship develops. Or does it?

When you have been reading psychological thrillers for as long as I have you start to believe that nothing  can surprise you, that you have read every nuance possible, there is nothing new to see just variations on a theme, some good, some dreadful –  but it’s almost like you get into a  zone, the next psychological thriller is a bit like a comfort blanket.

Then a book like “Exquisite” comes along and knocks your socks off, lights dynamite under your reading slumber and explodes your brain into a million pieces – you can’t quite grasp what just happened and for nights afterwards you wake up going “hang on a minute” then madly picking over the detail in your head before dragging yourself through your normal routine a bit confused about what day it is.

Exquisite is genuinely Exquisite – so beautifully written and utterly absorbing that you sink into it. I’m loathe to tell you too much about it because the colder you read it the bigger impact it will have on you – suffice to say we have two women, two very different women, who have a creative streak linking them and who come together with extraordinary consequences. Probably. Sarah Stovell creates clear character voices, messes with their dynamics throughout the narrative, throws in so many layers that often you are reeling, incites reader violence (occasionally I got randomly stabby at things that were going on) –  then just when you think you’ve grasped what the realities are she turns everything upside down and backwards with an ending that is so incredibly BOOM that you just fall over and lie there for a moment. Metaphorically speaking.

Then you just have to go back and read it all over again.

Clever intelligent plotting, a wonderful wonderful use of language to subtly engage the senses of the reader, with a strong emotional core that just stays with you for days and days after finishing it, Exquisite is the best novel about obsession I have read in forever. It is certainly the best psychological thriller I have seen emerge from the crowd in the last few years – A shoe in for my top ten this year and a definite chance at the top spot, Exquisite is a book for everyone but especially for those who believe, like I did, that there is nothing  new to be done within this genre.

Simply gorgeous.

Exquisite.

Highly Recommended.

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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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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.

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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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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.

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