The Restless Dead – Simon Beckett. Blog tour Interview and Review.

I was VERY happy to see Dr David Hunter back in the latest novel from Simon Beckett – and even more happy to be able to ask him a couple of questions about it for the blog tour. My review and details on the book follow that.

Thanks so much for agreeing to answer some questions – firstly I was so happy to see Dr Hunter reappear, for readers coming into the series here could you tell us a little something about the background to the character?

David Hunter is a forensic anthropologist, which means he specialises in analysing human remains that are either decomposed or badly damaged. After losing his wife and young daughter in a car accident, he found his work too painful and walked away from everything to do with his old life. At the start of the first book in the series, The Chemistry of Death, he’s working as a GP, which he’d originally trained to be.

But after being reluctantly drawn into a murder investigation again, he realised his true calling was working with the dead rather than the living and returned to forensic anthropology. Now he’s a police consultant, based in London but travelling to wherever in the UK the police find a body requiring his unique set of skills.

Hunter isn’t a traditional crime or thriller ‘hero’. He doesn’t act tough, kick down doors or rebel against authority. And he doesn’t always get things right: he makes mistakes and suffers self-doubt just like the rest of us. It was important to me that – except for his work and tragic past – that he was seen as a normal person: a fallible, damaged individual who readers could sympathise and associate with. One of the nicest comments I’ve had was from a reader who said she worried he wasn’t eating properly. That showed she saw him as a real character.

In The Restless Dead he is back in the game through certain twists of fate – how do you go about building an intriguing mystery whilst keeping the wonderfully fascinating forensic detail so authentic?

I suppose it’s a question of finding the right balance. As interesting as the forensic details are, they still need to fit within a compelling story in order to work. And to my mind the Hunter books are as much psychological thrillers as forensic mysteries. They’re very character led, so I try to approach both plot and forensics from that perspective.

Obviously, the books need a lot of background research. Since I’m not a forensic expert myself – I worked as a freelance journalist before I wrote the Hunter series – I constantly quiz various police and forensic experts who are generous enough to help out. That makes the books more authentic, I think, since these are people who have actual training and experience in the field.

But fitting this sort of research into a fictional story can be tricky. More than once I’ve been forced to abandon a plot idea when one of the experts I’ve approached says, ‘No, that wouldn’t happen’. And I don’t want the forensic details to appear gratuitous, which can be a fine line when Hunter’s work involves detailed descriptions of decomposing remains. If you’re talking about blow-flies and maggots on a dead body you really don’t need to go into excessive detail to make the point.

Could you talk a little about the setting –not far from Mersea Island– is this somewhere you know well and what made you utilise this location for the book? It certainly created a beautifully atmospheric backdrop and allowed for some thrilling edge of the seat moments in the whole man v nature stakes.

The setting is very important for all the Hunter novels. Each one takes place somewhere different – Norfolk, the Outer Hebrides and so on – and the landscape plays a big part in establishing atmosphere and setting the scene. For The Restless Dead I knew it had to be somewhere with water, but I considered several possibilities before I finally settled on the Essex marshes. I liked the sense of loneliness and isolation they brought to the story, this flat vista of mudflats, reeds and open sky, as well as the fact that the landscape is constantly changing with the tides. And, of course, there’s an undercurrent of danger as well, because as peaceful these places appear they can also be treacherous. As soon as I read that the tides come in faster than a man can run, I was hooked.

Although the Essex marshes and that stretch of coastline are obviously real, as with the other Hunter books the actual locations where most of the story takes place are fictitious. That gives me freedom to write what I want without worrying if readers getting in touch to say I’ve put the post box on the wrong street corner. That doesn’t mean I don’t want these places to feel authentic, because I do. I’ll spend a lot of time researching the area where a book is set, and try to spend time there whenever possible.

But the main thing for me is finding a setting to fit the story, and that I can clearly see in my own mind. In that respect, I treat them in the same way I do the characters: they aren’t real, but I want people to be able to visualise them and feel that they could be.

Can you tell us anything about what is next? Will Dr Hunter return?

I’m a great believer in not talking things away, so I don’t like saying too much about what I’m working on. But I can say that Hunter will be back.

Finally, is there anything you have read recently that you would like to recommend to readers?

The book that’s stood out for me recently is Golden Hill by Francis Spufford. It’s set in eighteenth century Manhattan, and while I don’t read much historical fiction this was the best thing I’ve read in a long time.

Thanks so much!

You’re welcome!

About the Book:

Available Now.

It was on a Friday evening that forensics consultant Dr David Hunter took the call: a Detective Inspector Lundy from the Essex force. Just up the coast from Mersea Island, near a place called Backwaters, a badly decomposed body has been found and the local police would welcome Hunter’s help with the recovery and identification . . .
Because they would like it to be that of Leo Villiers, the 31 year-old son of a prominent local family who went missing weeks ago, and they are under pressure to close the case. Villiers was supposed to have been having an affair with a married woman, Emma Derby. She too is missing, and the belief is that the young man disposed of his lover, and then killed himself. If only it was so straightforward.
But Hunter has his doubts about the identity of the remains. The hands and feet are missing, the face no longer recognisable. Then further remains are found – and suddenly these remote wetlands are giving up yet more grisly secrets. As Hunter is slowly but surely drawn into a toxic mire of family secrets and resentments, local lies and deception, he finds himself unable, or perhaps unwilling, to escape even though he knows that the real threat comes from the living, not the dead.

I’m a huge fan of this series – if you haven’t read them yet I would HIGHLY recommend that you read them all, not that The Restless Dead is not perfectly readable and brilliant as a standalone but Dr Hunter is a character you want to be with from the beginning. Also for you readers who simply MUST read in order The Chemistry of Death is where to start.

This story finds our Dr Hunter called in unexpectedly to help with the recovery and identification of remains, but he is drawn into a mystery that offers danger at every turn. As with the previous novels, Simon Beckett brings a hugely atmospheric sense of tension in his writing and the forensic detail is both fascinating and incredibly accessible which really digs you deep into the tale and keeps you wrapped up in it. Beautifully descriptive in both setting and character this, like the others, is an addictive and all consuming read that you may well do in one sitting if you are prone to that sort of thing.

The subtle twists and turns are cleverly intricate, Dr Hunter’s personal story arc takes a compelling turn, there is nothing about this book that I didn’t love entirely – oh well apart from finishing it because I immediately and rather rabidly wanted more. Never have I been so pleased to return to a series I (and the author) have been away from for a while, this is intuitive, clever writing, I’d put it very near the top of the crime fiction I read.

Overall perfectly brilliant. Or brilliantly perfect. Either would work as well and this, as with the rest, comes highly recommended from me.


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Black Water – Louise Doughty. Blog Tour Review.

Publication Date: Available Now from Faber.

Source: Purchased copy

John Harper lies awake at night in an isolated hut on an Indonesian island, listening to the rain on the roof and believing his life may be in danger. But he is less afraid of what is going to happen than of something he’s already done.

In a local town, he meets Rita, a woman with her own troubled history. They begin an affair – but can he allow himself to get involved when he knows this might put her at risk?

Moving between Europe during the cold war, California and the Civil Rights struggle, and Indonesia during the massacres of 1965 and the decades of military dictatorship that follow, Black Water is an epic novel that explores some of the darkest events of recent world history through the story of one troubled man.

I went into Black Water having only read Apple Tree Yard from Louise Doughty – I thought Black Water was all kinds of amazing but I think it is worth noting, that if you like me have only read that one book that has been so popular (for good reason) that Black Water is a very different kettle of fish – therefore might be somewhat unexpected.

What I loved about this one was the setting and the drawing of the background, a slow burn of literary suspense where the beauty was in the characters and their journeys. I don’t know a lot about Indonesia, the culture or the history but Black Water felt honestly authentic and Louise Doughty digs deep into the heart of things.

Black Water is both tragic and beautiful, John Harper is compelling, not always likeable but endlessly fascinating. The history is cleverly interwoven into a tale of one man’s life battles, both internal and external and towards the end of the novel I was almost literally holding my breath. The author breathes a strange inevitability into her plotting, this is a political drama in some ways but mostly an intensive and insightful character study.

I loved the writing, I loved that it didn’t rush you towards judgement, I wouldn’t call it a thriller although it was at times thrilling. Dramatic suspense at it’s very best. It makes me want to follow this author onwards because both of the books I have read of hers now have been completely different from each other but equally clever and emotionally gripping.


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The Special Girls Isabelle Grey – Blog Tour Review.

Publication Date: April 6th from Quercus

Source: Review Copy

A young psychiatric registrar is found dead in the woods outside a summer camp for young eating disorder patients, run by the charismatic, world-renowned Professor Ned Chesham. DI Grace Fisher investigates, but it is not long before she is pulled from the case – to head up a Metropolitan Police review into a cold case involving Chesham himself.

Nearly twenty years ago, one of Chesham’s patients made allegations that he sexually assaulted her. The investigation at the time found no conclusive proof, but Grace soon discovers another victim, and a witness whose account never reached the police. Does this mean the original investigation was bungled? Scotland Yard would certainly like her to conclude otherwise.

As Grace uncovers the lies that led to the young doctor’s murder, she discovers the full extent of the damage done to Chesham’s ‘special girls’ – and the danger they are still in.

I loved The Special Girls – it is an emotive and very current theme that Isabelle Grey uses as her main plot here, that of historical child abuse and the difficulties of prosecuting, or even proving, criminal acts committed by those in power. As such it is at times a quite harrowing read, the author digging into the fallout and affect on those who suffer at the hands of those they should be able to trust.

When a psychiatric registrar is found dead, Grace gets the case but it soon becomes apparent that there are political issues that may stymie her investigation. Soon moved on to a cold case review that is connected, she is thrown into a years long history of possible abuse against young girls suffering eating disorders. The plot flows along from there, Grace finding obstacles at every turn, having to think outside the box in order to get to the truth and putting her own career in danger along the way.

The Special Girls is highly readable, well flowing and immersive – I’ve enjoyed the previous books in this series but I do think that this one has taken things up a notch, not only in regards to character arcs but in depth and quality of storytelling. Isabelle Grey writes about a truly horrific subject with sympathy and realism – you feel every moment of it, get frustrated right along with Grace when political maneuvering gets in the way of protecting the vulnerable – it is often very heart wrenching stuff but always genuine and as we know from many recent news headlines, not at all unbelievable.

This was addictive reading with a tough emotional edge and realistic twists of fate that I have no problem at all recommending.

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Latest Reads: The Cutaway Christina Kovac

Publication Date: 6th April from Serpents Tail

Source: Netgalley

It begins with someone else’s story. The story of a woman who leaves a busy restaurant and disappears completely into the chilly spring night. Evelyn Carney is missing – but where did she go? Who was she meeting? And why did she take a weapon with her when she went? When brilliant TV producer Virginia Knightley finds Evelyn’s missing person report on her desk, she becomes obsessed with finding out what happened that night. But her pursuit of the truth draws her deep into the power struggles and lies of Washington DC’s elite – to face old demons and new enemies.

If The Newsroom met Gone Girl then had super intelligent kids….

Early reviews suggest The Cutaway may be about to divide opinion – so my opinion, for what it is worth, is that this is blinking brilliant. I LOVED it. I loved the main protagonist, I loved the Breaking News aspects, got all caught up in the story, didn’t have a clue how the mystery element would pan out – not because it is particularly twisty in that sense but more because I was so caught up in the character dynamics and the investigative reporting side.

Christina Kovac writes with a very sharp edge, a genuinely insightful eye towards subtle characterisation and can put together one hell of a story – a bit like her main character Virginia whose sudden obsession with a missing woman puts her on the trail of all sorts of shenanigans. Meanwhile her workplace is in turmoil as a new boss starts messing with the status quo, the police investigation seems to be full of political motivation and there is Evelyn, gone in a relative puff of smoke, tying it all together as we wait to find out what has happened to her.

The “behind the scenes” aspect of The Cutaway really digs you deep into things, I loved the dynamic of the Newsroom, work politics merging with life politics in a tale of possible corruption and murder – I genuinely did not know what the all heck was going on, the author subtly dropping information into the narrative then throwing it back at you later in different context, the plotting, I thought, was absolutely superb. Virginia is a brilliantly intriguing character, I loved her and the supporting cast are just as well drawn.

Look it was just bloody good. I couldn’t possibly do anything but love it with my reading heart so give it a go.

Tense, clever, addictive and different. That is The Cutaway.

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Latest Reads: The Stolen Child – Sanjida Kay

Publication Date: 6th April from Corvus

Source: Review Copy

Zoe and Ollie Morley tried for years to have a baby and couldn’t. They turned to adoption and their dreams came true when they were approved to adopt a little girl from birth. They named her Evie.

Seven years later, the family has moved to Yorkshire and grown in number: a wonderful surprise in the form of baby Ben. As a working mum it’s not easy for Zoe, but life is good.

But then Evie begins to receive letters and gifts.

The sender claims to be her birth father.

He has been looking for his daughter.

And now he is coming to take her back…

Having loved this author’s first book Bone by Bone I was looking forward to The Stolen Child, in the end I read it in one huge gulp of a sitting – like in her first novel, Sanjida Kay writes here with an emotional level that is utterly engrossing and it is genuinely difficult to stop once you start.

Exploring themes of family and adoption, wrapping it up in a twisty tale of suspense, The Stolen Child follows Zoe and her family. Her husband is mostly absent as she faces the daily toil of parenthood with her adopted daughter Evie and her natural son Ben, when Evie starts getting letters supposedly from her birth Father things take a sinister and highly emotive turn.

I love the layers the author puts into the story, not only creating a compelling and realistic family dynamic but giving us a truly atmospheric and taut mystery. Within the confines of the place they live where those Zoe trusts suddenly seem threatening, the tension is palpable throughout the telling and it is utterly utterly gripping from the very first page. The setting is beautifully described, adding to the sense of atmosphere, the truth is cleverly hidden from view making the ultimate resolution wonderfully unpredictable – basically it is everything you want from a psychological thriller but with added depth and perception.

Loved it. Absolutely highly recommended.

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The Contract J M Gulvin – Blog Tour Review

Publication Date: April 6th from Faber

Source: Review Copy

In New Orleans, Texas Ranger John Q is out of his jurisdiction, and possibly out of his depth. It seems everyone in Louisiana wants to send him home, and every time he asks questions there’s trouble: from the pharmacist to the detective running scared to the pimp who turned to him as a last resort. Before John Q knows it, he looks the only link between a series of murders.

So who could be trying to set him up, and why, and who can he turn to in a city where Southern tradition and family ties rule?

I was really looking forward to The Contract, having loved the first book in this series The Long Count and it did not disappoint – loved it.

I’m a fan of  John Q as a main protagonist, the scene is set in most excellent fashion by J M Gulvin, authentic and brilliantly immersive, this is a noir thriller with some terrific descriptive prose that brings the vagaries of that time to vivid life. Immediately addictive, you could easily lose a day to this one. In fact that’s exactly what happened.

When I reviewed The Long Count I said this could easily become one of my favourite protagonists and favourite series and with The Contract I haven’t been disabused of that notion – if anything it has just confirmed it. I liked this one even more and already I’m bang in my comfort zone, I love the historical setting, the plotting once again is extraordinarily clever and there are enough twists and turns to keep the most ardent of crime fans happy.

As John Q chases down leads in New Orleans, seemingly becomes the one link in a series of murders, yet somehow keeps his cool, quirky attitude, this is a purely wonderful read, realistically drawn with some insightful characterisation and a real sense of time and place.

You could easily read this as a standalone but I’d recommend reading in order if only because then you’ll get more bang for your buck – both books are brilliant and I have absolutely no problem highly recommending them.

Cool beans! That is all.

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Six Stories Matt Wesolowski – Blog Tour Review.

1997. Scarclaw Fell. The body of teenager Tom Jeffries is found at an outward bound centre. Verdict? Misadventure. But not everyone is convinced. And the truth of what happened in the beautiful but eerie fell is locked in the memories of the tight-knit group of friends who embarked on that fateful trip, and the flimsy testimony of those living nearby.

2017. Enter elusive investigative journalist Scott King, whose podcast examinations of complicated cases have rivalled the success of Serial, with his concealed identity making him a cult internet figure. In a series of six interviews, King attempts to work out how the dynamics of a group of idle teenagers conspired with the sinister legends surrounding the fell to result in Jeffries’ mysterious death. And who’s to blame…

As every interview unveils a new revelation, you’ll be forced to work out for yourself how Tom Jeffries died, and who is telling the truth. A chilling, unpredictable and startling thriller, Six Stories is also a classic murder mystery with a modern twist, and a devastating ending.

I have seen so many great reviews of Six Stories since I read it and have been patiently (??!!??) awaiting my turn whilst leading up to it with a Six Stories about Six Stories set of features but now here we are my day for the blog tour and I find myself speechless. Well ok not really but Six Stories is a book that rendered me speechless for a little while after finishing it.

There is actually no way I can improve on what everyone else has been saying, Six Stories is a genuine marvel of a novel with its tense, atmospheric writing vibe and the ability to make you crazy. Inspired by the “Serial” set of podcasts this is bang on relevant in today’s wonderful world of technology but Matt Wesolowski manages to make it feel both modern and as old as time – a classic in the making, a touch of old school genius brought bang up to date.

The story itself is a beautifully twisted tale, slowly slowly things are revealed, each “episode” bringing new information to light, not necessarily traditionally but through the reader slowly coming to know the players involved in this drama. The setting is stunningly drawn, often insanely creepy, the mythology and legend embedded into the plot makes it so much more than just a mystery – it kind of gets under your skin, whilst it is not sudden jump scary you find yourself switching the light on when you awake at 3am because you feel like something is hovering. Really beautifully done.

There is not a lot else to say – Six Stories is one of those books that just envelop you into its world, intelligent plotting, multi-layered characters, a little twist in the tale and a genuinely absorbing bit of storytelling. These are the books I read for.

Highly Recommended.

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20 Questions For – Matt Wesolowski. Six Stories.

In the final part of Six Stories with Matt Wesolowski, I’m asking him my 20 Questions. Pop back tomorrow so you can read my review of the novel as part of the blog tour.

And the biggest thanks to Matt for taking part over the last few weeks with his great guest spots.

So up to now we’ve been discussing Six Stories over the course of a few posts – So lets just do this. Tell me Six things about Six Stories…

1. It was my first attempt at a crime novel.

2. The manuscript was nearly consigned to my hard drive as it was just an odd little experiment that I never thought would go anywhere.

3. I had to re-read the manuscript before I pitched it at Bloody Scotland festival as I had completely forgotten whodunnit and why!

4. I had no idea whodunnit or why as I was writing it until the end of episode 5.

5. The original title was ‘Five go mad on Scarclaw Fell’

6. One of these answers is a lie.

Favourite flavour of crisps…

Ready salted. You don’t mess about with crisps. Pitta chips if you can get them. Heavenly.

An author whose talent you envy…

Lauren Beukes. If that woman wrote the text for a bus ticket, it’d still be enthralling…

When writing Six Stories what was your main inspiration…

It was the Serial podcast, beyond anything else, the rest of the story just fell out of my brain.

Favourite type of cheese…..

I don’t eat dairy products so cheese is a no-go for me…Violife do a good smoked vegan cheese though!

Planned plotting or to hell with it lets see what happens…

I never plan anything. If I plan, it tends to kill the story dead. There’s a little graveyard of planned stories on my hard drive, all of them terrible.

3 famous people you’d like to be stuck with for a day just to see what they are really like….

Marilyn Manson – they say don’t ever meet your heroes, but Mazza’s the only one who I think wouldn’t disappoint.

Karen Kilgariff & Georgia Hardstark – the hosts of the ‘My Favourite Murder’ podcast; I think we’d have a great time chatting about true crime.

Stephen King – like Manson, King transcends the ‘don’t meet your heroes’ rule.

You are published by the amazing Karen at Orenda books. How much do we love Karen?

We adore Karen for being so much more to us than a publisher. I have never felt so supported before; so valued for what I do. She is a phenomenon.

The best thing about the road to publication….

The anticipatory, abject terror of those first reviews coming in…

The worse thing about the road to publication…

The anticipatory, abject terror of those first reviews coming in…

Awesome chef like skills or stick something in the microwave….

I actually used to be a chef and interestingly, have never owned a microwave (that’s not terribly interesting is it though really?)

One teaser sentence on what you are writing next….

Serial killer goes Wendigo…

You recently went on an Orenda road trip – how much fun was that?

It was amazing, the other Orenda authors are all lovely people and made me feel welcome and worthy in their company. It was an experience I’ll never forget, sitting on a train with some of my literary heroes.

Easter soon. Chocolate person or not a chocolate person..

I do love a bit of dark chocolate but I’m more of a savoury snack man.

What small irritating thing irritates you beyond all reason…

Oh so much, can I have a few? All are terribly inconsequential: Poor punctuality, apostrophe abuse, ‘expresso’ instead of ‘espresso’…I could go on…

Favourite day of the week (If you say Tuesday we can’t be friends. Tuesdays should die)

Saturday – it’s the day outside of school holidays that I get to spend all of with my son.

A book you recommend to everyone…

The Butcher Boy by Patrick McCabe…I’ve been pushing that one on everyone since I was 16!

Last thing that made you laugh stupidly…

My five year old son is the funniest person I know, he often comes out with the most hysterically funny things; the other day he turned around and said to me, apropos of nothing “Dad, I’m going to feed you to a bat!”

Most idiotic thing you have done….

Oh man, there are so many to choose from. I did a lot of idiotic things as a teenager; once sneaking into my friend’s school under the fence, wearing his spare school jumper and pretending to be a pupil. It was only when one of the hard kids threatened to batter me that I had to sneak out again and run…

How much do you hate me right now?

You’re a book blogger, I have not the capacity to hate you…

Thanks Matt!

About the Book: 

1997. Scarclaw Fell. The body of teenager Tom Jeffries is found at an outward bound centre. Verdict? Misadventure. But not everyone is convinced. And the truth of what happened in the beautiful but eerie fell is locked in the memories of the tight-knit group of friends who embarked on that fateful trip, and the flimsy testimony of those living nearby.

2017. Enter elusive investigative journalist Scott King, whose podcast examinations of complicated cases have rivalled the success of Serial, with his concealed identity making him a cult internet figure. In a series of six interviews, King attempts to work out how the dynamics of a group of idle teenagers conspired with the sinister legends surrounding the fell to result in Jeffries’ mysterious death. And who’s to blame…

As every interview unveils a new revelation, you’ll be forced to work out for yourself how Tom Jeffries died, and who is telling the truth. A chilling, unpredictable and startling thriller, Six Stories is also a classic murder mystery with a modern twist, and a devastating ending.

Follow Matt on TWITTER

To purchase the paperback clickety click right HERE

Happy Reading!


Fire Child Sally Emerson – Blog Tour Review.

Publication Date: Available Now from Quartet

Source: Review Copy

Fire Child’s dark heroine is the young Tessa who from the age of 12 uses the power of her smile to seduce men, with damaging and dramatic consequences. The novel interplays her chilling and funny diaries with those of Martin Sherman, a dangerous young man who likes to play with fire. We know they will meet and all hell (possibly literally) will break loose. Meanwhile he stacks shelves at a supermarket, she works at a nearby estate agent’s. Both are hiding, leading deliberately dull lives in north London, afraid of what they have already done and what they are capable of. But when they meet, everything changes. Their union is devastating.

I loved Fire Child – it is just the kind of tense, beautiful writing that I’m a fan of and the two main characters here are both chilling and beautifully drawn.

It is a slow burn (yes I said that) as we meet Tessa and Martin  – Martin is almost scientific in his lack of passion that is yet still passionate whilst Tessa, profound and insular, uses her feminine wiles from a very young age, experimenting and learning how to achieve what she desires in the moment.

The pair are extraordinarily fascinating as separate individuals, but as Sally Emerson slowly draws them together, the tension is palpable – the plotting is clever and all about the underneath of things, you just know that the pair will spark off each other (yes I did that too) and cause catastrophe. It is like watching a car crash unfold in slow motion, one that you can do nothing about, nor can you look away.

Fire Child is kind of beautiful if in a very traumatic way – the finale is stunning and takes you out of the comfort zone, this being a re release, it just proves that those girls have been around for a long long time. Tessa is a remarkable and unforgettable character, this is a twisted love story with bite and I can’t do anything less than highly recommend it.


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Latest Reads: A Handful of Ashes Rob McCarthy



Publication Date: Available Now from Mulholland

Source: Netgalley

Susan Bayliss became notorious when she blew the whistle on her boss, a heart surgeon at a renowned children’s hospital. She accused him of negligence, operations were stopped and an inquiry launched. In the end she was the one suspended as a troublemaker.

Now Dr Harry Kent, a medical examiner with the Met Police, has been called out to certify her suicide.

But something about the scene is wrong. Someone held Susan down…

The grieving parents of the children who died demand answers. The hospital is stonewalling. Everyone has secrets – it’s up to Harry and DCI Frankie Noble to find out which were worth killing for.

I was the BIGGEST fan of book one in this series (more details below if you missed it) and with “A Handful of Ashes” I can honestly say this has moved up to favourite series status on my bookish wishlist – one of a handful I’m going to be hotly anticipating every year for as long as they continue. Long may that be…

I’m a sucker for a good medical drama and an even bigger one for a good crime drama – with the Harry Kent series Rob McCarthy brings the two together in a fast, addictive, well considered thriller that just had me blasting through it with little thought to anything else around me. Don’t you love those ones?

In this story we have a suspicious “suicide”, a possible hospital cover up, grieving parents, danger lurking around every corner and our (anti) hero Dr Kent slowly falling apart at the seams whilst trying to help our (anti) heroine Frankie Noble solve the conundrum. She’s not exactly the most grounded police officer ever but both of them are superbly engaging, inevitably flawed but so beautifully described in sheer force of personality that you just get pulled along with them. The plot is  thoroughly twisted, highly charged emotionally and has an ending that had me on the floor. I loved it.

I’d like to give a nod to at least one beautifully written thrilling scene in this involving a fight to save a life – as I came to the end of that chapter I found myself quite literally sitting on the edge of my seat (not that easy in a giant swivel chair) I had to sit and have a nice cup of tea before continuing on. That is not the only genuinely immersive bit of scene setting in A Handful of Ashes but it’s probably the one that will stay with me – What is great about it is that these moments are interspersed with quieter more considered moments and the author digs deep into the multiple layers that make up his characters, insightful writing that means you really feel for everything they go through.

Both the medical and the procedural elements that make up the story feel highly authentic, I am definitely one for the tortured souls in fiction therefore Harry Kent holds my attention (I may be a little in fictional love) and overall this is terrific writing, terrific plotting and well, just plain terrific.

Highly Recommended.

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Also Available: Dr Harry Kent Book One

Dr Harry Kent likes to keep busy: juggling hospital duties with his work as a police surgeon for the Metropolitan Police – anything to ward off the memories of his time as an Army medic.

Usually the police work means minor injuries and mental health assessments. But Solomon Idris’s case is different. Solomon Idris has taken eight people hostage in a chicken takeaway, and is demanding to see a lawyer and a BBC reporter. Harry is sent in to treat the clearly ill teenager…before the siege goes horribly wrong.

When Solomon’s life is put in danger again from the safety of a critical care ward, it becomes clear he knows something people will kill to protect.
Determined to uncover the secret that drove the boy to such desperate action, Harry soon realises that someone in the medical world, someone he may even know, has broken the doctors’ commandment ‘do no harm’ many times over..

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