Love Orange by Natasha Randall

Love Orange by Natasha Randall

Summary:

While Hank struggles with his lack of professional success, his wife Jenny, feeling stuck and beset by an urge to do good, becomes ensnared in a dangerous correspondence with a prison inmate called John. Letter by letter, John pinches Jenny awake from the “marshmallow numbness” of her life. The children, meanwhile, unwittingly disturb the foundations of their home life with forays into the dark net and strange geological experiments.

Jenny’s bid for freedom takes a sour turn when she becomes the go-between for John and his wife, and develops an unnatural obsession for the orange glue that seals his letters…

My Review:

Take one American family, by all accounts your normal average family on the outside but then turn the story into a story about a dysfunctional family and you have an extraordinary debut novel in Love Orange (riverrun) by Natasha Randall.

This American family live in a ‘smart’ home but while Hank is the all -consuming techno husband/father that insisted that the family must have a ‘smart’ home, his wife Jenny is left to wonder what on earth her life actually really means. With one child an all hours of the day gamer and the other not knowing what his family are coming to.

Add in that Jenny has started to write pen pal letters to a prison inmate and this is where the orange comes in. (you have to read the book to find this out). But there is much more to the Tinkley’s and it is that the secrets and a family that just have lost the art of communicating with each other on a personal level and everything that entails make this a really riveting fly on the wall type of novel that you cringe on one hand but cannot take your eyes off on the other add in the various addictions and this is a family who have lost touch with the reality and with each other.

The real beauty of Love Orange is that Natasha Randall has crafted a novel with so much going on with a computer controlled house at its very heart. Everything is ultra-modern apart from Jenny’s letters.

A genius of a novel and very different from anything I have read before, I love the way Natasha writes and there is some humour in her writing.

368 Pages.

#NetGalley

@NatashaRandall @riverrunbooks

Thank you to riverrun for the Netgalley review copy of Love Orange by Natasha Randall.

Love Orange by Natasha Randallwas published by riverrun on 3rd September 2020 and is available through Waterstones, Amazon and through your local independent bookshop.

Lockdown by Peter May

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Lockdown by Peter May

Summary:

A CITY IN QUARANTINE

London, the epicenter of a global pandemic, is a city in lockdown. Violence and civil disorder simmer. Martial law has been imposed. No-one is safe from the deadly virus that has already claimed thousands of victims. Health and emergency services are overwhelmed.

A MURDERED CHILD

At a building site for a temporary hospital, construction workers find a bag containing the rendered bones of a murdered child. A remorseless killer has been unleashed on the city; his mission is to take all measures necessary to prevent the bones from being identified.

A POWERFUL CONSPIRACY

D.I. Jack MacNeil, counting down the hours on his final day with the Met, is sent to investigate. His career is in ruins, his marriage over and his own family touched by the virus. Sinister forces are tracking his every move, prepared to kill again to conceal the truth. Which will stop him first – the virus or the killers?

Written over fifteen years ago, this prescient, suspenseful thriller is set against a backdrop of a capital city in quarantine, and explores human experience in the grip of a killer virus.

 My Review:

Imagine writing a novel about a pandemic and then having it rejected as it was unrealistic. Well back in 2005 that is exactly what Pater May had done. He did write a novel and it was rejected and so he left it there.

Fast forward to 2020 and we have a pandemic in the form of the Coronavirus that has swept across the world. Suddenly Lockdown (Riverrun) by Peter May does not seem unrealistic after all.

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London is the centre stage for this gripping thriller. The world in is the grip of a pandemic with governments struggling to cope as cities are closed down and violence is spreading, now people are not allowed out of their homes with people are struggling to cope with the lockdown as the death toll mounts across the globe. Sound familiar?
In London the streets are deserted, just litter blowing through the dusty city streets. If you spoke, I am sure it would echo like a dystopian sci-fi film. A new temporary hospital is being built in London to cope with the many patients of the pandemic, it is a building site but the builders find the remains of a body and it falls to D.I. Jack MacNeil from the Met to investigate what looks like the remains of a child. MacNeil is in the final hours of his career, and he has his problems but now there is a killer on the loose and it is not the pandemic.
As D.I. MacNeil begins to investigate the case it becomes apparent that this is not just a murder case but a conspiracy and a cover up. Someone out there is watching his every move and does not want the truth to come out. Time is against MacNeil but he must get to killers before they get to him. For Jack MacNeil his career and his marriage have gone, but why should he care about the case, in a matter of hours he will be out of the force. But he is being watched! They are close and so is the virus.
If you have enjoyed Peter May’s thrillers before, then you will really enjoy Lockdown, and to think that this was written fifteen years ago and here we are with the world in the grip of the Corvid-19 pandemic. When written it really was ahead of its time. A really compelling read. Peter May remains one of my favourite thriller writers and I am delighted to recommend.

416 Pages.

Lockdown by Peter May was published by riverrun and was published on 30th April 2020 and is available to order online through Waterstones, Amazon and through your local independent bookshop.

 

A Silent Death by Peter May

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A Silent Death by Peter May

Summary:

Set in Southern Spain, A Silent Death is the scorching new thriller from worldwide bestselling author of The Lewis Trilogy, Cast Iron and I’ll Keep You Safe.

A SILENT VOW

Spain, 2020. When ex-pat fugitive Jack Cleland watches his girlfriend die, gunned down in a pursuit involving officer Cristina Sanchez Pradell, he promises to exact his revenge by destroying the policewoman.

A SILENT LIFE

Cristina’s aunt Ana has been deaf-blind for the entirety of her adult life: the victim of a rare condition named Usher Syndrome. Ana is the centre of Cristina’s world – and of Cleland’s cruel plan.

A SILENT DEATH

John Mackenzie – an ingenious yet irascible Glaswegian investigator – is seconded to aid the Spanish authorities in their manhunt. He alone can silence Cleland before the fugitive has the last, bloody, word.

 My Review:

I have been a fan of Peter May’s thrillers since the Lewis Trilogy was first released so I was delighted to be asked to review A Silent Death (riverrun) that has just been released in the last few days.

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Set in Spain and fugitive Jack Cleland is with his girlfriend and there is a pursuit involving a female police officer and Cleland’s girlfriend is shot and killed during the pursuit. Cleland wants revenge on the policewoman and vows to kill her when he finds her.

Now John Mackenzie a Glaswegian investigator is called upon to help investigate and find Cleland before he exacts his bloody revenge plot. Can Mackenzie find Cleland in time?

Jack Cleland is hell bent on finding Christina the policewoman and beyond mad enough to carry out his vendetta. The pace is hotter than the Spanish sun and the killer is cold enough to believe his own mindless thoughts that the policewoman is responsible. But there is something else in the plot, Christina’s aunt Ana who is both deaf and blind and is now part of Cleland’s mindless and cruel plan. But do not underestimate Ana as she is strong and clever. Mackenzie has to find the ex-pat fugitive before he strikes.

If you have read any of Peter May’s previous thrillers, then you are in for a real treat. This is a fast paced thriller and a real page turner that you will be hooked by the plot and storyline.

I read A Silent Death over Christmas and loved it. This is a standalone thriller and I am delighted to recommend to anyone who enjoys a well-paced thriller.

432 Pages.

Thank you to Martina Ticic (Midas PR) for the review copy of A Silent Death by Peter May.

A Silent Death by Peter May was published by riverrun and was published on 9th January 2020 and is available through Waterstones, Amazon and through your local independent bookshop.

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The Last Thing She Told Me – Linda Green

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The Last Thing She Told Me – Linda Green

Delighted to bring an early review for the ebook release of The Last Thing She Told Me (Quercus Books) by Linda Green. The ebook is released today (26th July) with the book being issued March 2019. This is the story of the families and secrets that come to life and then a grisly discovery.

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This is basically a death bed confession story of a family that clearly had their problems. Nicola is sitting by the bedside of her grandmother who is close to dying. But what happens next completely takes Nicola’s breath away. Her grandmother whispers some words and then slips away. But it is those words that will shape the entire storyline. “There are babies at the bottom of the garden”. What on earth was her grandmother saying.

Nicola decides she is not going to rest until she investigates further and then a grim discovery. Her mum wants her to leave things alone and that spooks Nicola. Now the police have arrived and the story takes a sinister turn for the worst. Nicola’s mum now severs ties with her. Why? What could possibly have been going on in that house? The neighbourhood is full of quiet talk of all sorts of terrible stories.

Nicola is not the sort of person to leave things as they are and she knows she must get to the bottom of the story. But now she is being threatened but she does not know who is threatening her. These are dangerous moments for her and her own family. The past may hold the key to the story and this is where Nicola must delve into. There are so many questions and the answers must be found.

There are a number of twists and turns along the way and some may surprise you. Some of the story-line was a little predictable but overall I found this to be a really enjoyable and at times absorbing.

384 Pages.

Thank you to Milly Reid at Quercus Books for the review copy of The Last Thing She Told Me by Linda Green.

The Last Thing She Told Me by Linda Green was published by Quercus Books and was published via an early eBook on 26th July 2018.

 

All Rivers Run Free by Natasha Carthew

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All Rivers Run Free by Natasha Carthew

I have to admit to being intrigued when All Rivers Run Free by Natasha Carthew (riverrun) arrived I was not sure what to think. It is the story of a damaged sole in Ia Pendilly who is living in a caravan on the Cornish coast with her husband is nothing short of brutal. This is a story that that has a unique and raw. There is a heartbreaking storyline and Carthew has a unique writing style.

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A futuristic world ravaged by floods and armed gangs roam and storm after storm is battering the country. People are trying to survive day by day and the rule of law has broken down. Ia is frightened to leave as she no longer knows the country that was her home and she is scared of her brute of a husband Bran. The Cornish coast is their home.
Ia walks the coastline collecting shells and then one day she finds a young girl washed up on the shoreline and the little girl is rescued. What Ia does not realise is that this little girl will waken Ia and rescue her in return. She recalls her younger sister Evie and now wants to find Evie, she is out there somewhere in a world that has changed because of floods and armed gangs. But Ia has woken and her journey is about to begin. Memories of a family and her sister will take her in danger and she will face her past, present and future.
Natasha Carthew’s writing is nothing short of lyrical and also unusual but a story that deserves to be read. The tone may be tender and heartbreaking but compelling. There is so much written into the storyline that I believe it would be the perfect book group discussion novel. A story of a young woman locked into a world she does not want to be part of with memories of a past and communities living through their own rules to survive. A story with very few characters but this is a story that does not need a long cast. A bleak, rugged and atmospheric novel. Beautifully written.

288 Pages.

Thank you Ana McLaughlin at Quercus Books for the review copy of All Rivers Run Free by Ana McLaughlin

All Rivers Run Free is published by Riverrun and was published on 19th April 2018 and is available through Waterstones, Amazon and through your local independent bookshop.

Salt Lane by William Shaw

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Salt Lane by William Shaw

Having really enjoyed The Birdwatcher that was released in May 2016 and now William Shaw returns with Salt Lane. DS Alexandra Cupidi after leaving the Met and heading to the Kent coastline she is confronted with a shocking murder. Life is different here and so is murder. Salt Lane is a terrifying and gripping crime novel. that I enjoyed even more than Shaw’s previous. This is the start of a new DS Cupidi series and already looking forward to further books in the series.

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For Cupidi she has had a lot to deal with that includes a shattered career with the Met and a troublesome teenager. Her daughter Zoe, seems isolated as they live in a much quieter part of the country. Cupidi knows only too well that her job takes up a lot of her time and she is concerned for Zoe, who seems to spend a lot of time walking the marshes as she has taken to birdwatching.

DS Cupidi takes her work seriously and the hours are long. She knows only too well that the affair she got involved in cost her the position she worked so hard for at the Met. Now she is involved in two murders. A migrant worker has been found dead in a slurry pit, a shocking killing. But who was responsible for his death and she is also investigating the death of a young woman found in Salt Lane she is struggling to identify the young woman and what she was doing in Salt Lane. The murdered migrant worker is shocking. He is North African like many in the countryside and William Shaw brings into his novels a fair amount of social commentary and we also learn of the of the use of illegal workers at key times of the year. The illegal migrant workers fall off the radar and then trying to identify them is challenging. Human trafficking has been in the news a lot over recent years and their abuse is shocking.

Working alongside Cupidi is the young and Jill Ferriter, she is keen to learn to more but comes across at times as a little venerable at time but is a good foil for Cupidi. Shaw writes an intricate crime novel with very strong characters and a deep storyline. Many subjects are touched throughout the book and we learn a lot about Cupidi and her relationship with her daughter Zoe. Salt Lane is a very powerful crime novel and if you have not yet discovered the writing of William Shaw then now is your time. Not to worry if you have not read The Birdwatcher as this can be read as a standalone novel.  A cracking read.

464 Pages.

Thank you Hannah Robinson for the advanced review copy of Salt Lane by William Shaw

Salt Lane by William Shaw is published by riverrun and was published on 3rd May and is available to pre-order through Waterstones, Amazon and through your local independent bookshop.

 

How to follow the OffIcial Blog Tour for Salt Lane

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By Blood Divided by James Heneage

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By Blood Divided by James Heneage

On the cover of James Heneage’s latest blockbuster By Blood Divided it says “Rivals in love will become rivals rivals for an empire” So there we have it. This is a sweeping historical epic of love and war and if you enjoy a gripping historical drama that crosses from East to West then you are going to enjoy this.

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Set during the fifteenth century as this is a dramatic story of war, a family torn apart and a financial crisis as a banking empire moves ever closer to collapse then add a love rivalry and you have a compelling and dramatic standalone novel that will keep turning pages for days. This is nearly 500 pages as length so prepare for some epic reading.

As the world is undergoing dramatic change the time is for heroes, and here is a novel that has heroism and also great tragedy. The scene is set as the story moves from one part of the East and heads to the West for one of the most dramatic sieges in history that of Constantinople. From the old Roman Empire to the now burgeoning Ottoman Empire destiny and fortune await. Siward Margoris is commander of the Varangian Guard sworn to defend the Roman Empire to the last. Now entering the stage is Makkim, the Ottoman general seeks to destroy everything the Romans stands for. This is East v West and one last stand and with a fortune at stake there is everything to win and lose.

Add in a heart-breaking love story and you have a fantastic adventure that moves along at a steady pace and a story that has everything an historical epic requires. The real beauty here is that Heneage has well researched his facts which makes this such an intelligent read all round.

496 Pages

Thank you to Olivia Mead at Quercus Books for the advanced review copy.

By Blood Divided by James Heneage is published by Quercus and is released on 1st June and is available through Waterstones, Amazon and all good bookshops.

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A Harvest of Thorns by Corban Addison

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A Harvest of Thorns by Corban Addison

This has been my first Corban Addison novel and it will not be the last. I have been struck by the outstanding quality of the writing of Addison in A Harvest of Thorns a novel about corporate greed at its worst within the fashion industry and how workers in Bangladesh are exploited for profit.

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The story begins with a fire at a factory with tragic consequences as many people are killed trapped by the flames and acrid smoke. Among those killed is a young girl trying to escape the fire by climbing down a makeshift rope ladder sadly the rope that was tied together using the garments from the factory floor gives way and the girl falls to her death. A photographer later takes a photograph of the young girl and instantly the photograph becomes front page news around the world. But the image captures something else that will shake a large American clothing retailer ‘presto’ to the core. But one question remains why was this factory even producing their range of garments in the first place as this was not one of the factories on the list in fact it never met any of criteria in the first place.

Now it is damage limitation for Presto as they try to make sure that no damage to the company name comes from the fire. Some years later a chance for a former journalist Joshua Griswold to rebuild he shattered career when a chance tip off comes from an employee. What Griswold does with this information will be dramatic as he goes about building a court case that will if he wins have ramifications for the fashion industry on a world wide scale and would rock Presto from the shop floor to the boardroom.

This is a story rooted in fact as it is based on a true account of a factory fire in Bangladesh in 2010. At times this is a difficult read as it goes to the very core of the issue of forces labour and the appalling working conditions in the factories. It leaves many questions for the reader about certain areas of the fashion industry and their ethics. I found A Harvest of Thorns to be an important read and an important book that will open many eyes to just what does go on in this trade. If you enjoy a John Grisham style novel, then you would want to read this. Many will go with the style of writing that I found flowed from one chapter to the next. At times it can be a difficult read but at the same time it is really compelling.

Thank you to Olivia Mead for the advanced review copy.

A Harvest of Thorns by Corban Addison is published by Quercus Books and is now available through Waterstones, Amazon and all good bookshops.

 

A Harvest of Thorns Official Blog Tour continues

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Under a Pole Star – Stef Penney

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Under a Pole Star – Stef Penney

From the author of the Costa Book award winning The Tenderness of Wolves comes the third novel from Stef Penney and a story set over two time frames and a land of frozen landscapes in Under a Pole Star.

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It is 1948 and a group of scientists are heading to the North Pole and among the group is Flora Mackie. Flora is 77-years-old and a renowned scientist and explorer in her younger days. But this is no scientific trip for Flora this is more of a trip down memory lane and a time to recall memories of previous arctic explorations. While talking with a member of the press ‘The Snow Queen’ starts to explore her own memories and of one trip in 1892 to Greenland and this was with her father who was a Whaling Captain as well as other explorations that followed.

Flora born in Dundee and brought up by her father when her mother died but as time passes Flora becomes her own person and independently minded and fascinated by the land of ice and snow and the people who inhabit the frozen lands. She first explored Arctic Circle at the age of 12 and even at this tender age she wanted to be taken seriously.

In 1892 she led an expedition to Greenland and at the same time Jakob de Beyn from America was among a rival expedition and this is being led by Lester Armitage and it is no surprise that both expeditions meet and for Flora and Jakob this is moment that will shape their lives. Flora, Jakob and Lester all share one common theme they love and passion for these cold forbidden lands of perpetual endless days and nights that seemingly never end. You just know that something is coming in this mammoth book of 600 pages and it comes in the form of a tragedy that will haunt many of them and these lands for the rest of their days.

Flora is a determined character in this story in an age dominated by male explorers it is hard not to admire her courage in the face of not only the freezing lands but also the men of this time. Here in this story is not on exploration but also of a love story against a backdrop of the golden age of exploration.

The incredible beauty of the Arctic Ocean the colours of the ice and snow and the endless night skies full of stars. This is breath-taking story and a mystery that still requires resolving and for Flora returning to the land of ice and snow in 1948 returns for the last time to solve the long-standing mystery and lay this to rest.

Under a Pole Star is dramatic story that is the perfect read for cold winters nights.

Thank you to Hannah Robinson at Quercus Books for the advanced review copy.

Under a Pole Star by Stef Penney is published by Quercus and is available through Waterstones, Amazon and all good bookshops.

The Birdwatcher – William Shaw

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The Birdwatcher by William Shaw

 

 The Last Word Review

Sometimes reading a crime novel that is set in a specific location it can help if you know the landscape, and the setting for William Shaw’s new crime novel The Birdwatcher is the desolate Kent coastline that is Dungeness an area I know only too well as I spent a lot of my younger days birdwatching along this part of the Kent coast and for a base to write a crime novel it works.

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William South is the Police Sergeant for the local area he lives and works this part of Kent and a keen birder the autumn migration is now in full swing and William South would rather be out looking for birds, but when he is asked to attend murder, there is already a DS from London investigating and Alexandra Cupidi needs some support. William is somewhat nervous as we already know William himself is a murderer this by his own admission and through the story-line we move back and forth to William’s past as a 13-year old growing up during the troubles in Northern Ireland.

The brutally murdered man Bob Reyner is a neighbour and also a friend to South they used to go birding together so there is no way he will be able to leave this alone, as much as he would rather. So why was Bob so brutally murdered? So now the past memories of growing up in Northern Ireland start to come back we will learn later in the book as to why South calls himself a murderer.

Newly arrived Alexandra Cupidi from the Met this is her first case, and together will South they start to investigate the murder, but there is something that is causing a distraction to Alexandra and that is her daughter Zoe who is troubled in her own way and is struggling to settle into her new home and environment. For both South and Cupidi there is a connection of sorts between them. Now there is another murder and this one is belongs to the distant past of South, is there a connection between the two murders is South’s past slowly catching up with him. Suddenly Cupidi does not want South anywhere near the murder investigation.

South is a loner and grumpy by any standards and would prefer his company.  At first you struggle to empathise with the leading character but as the story moves along at a blistering pace you start to understand William South and his troubled life.

The Birdwatcher is a gripping crime novel that is superbly written and delivers on a level that only the very best in crime writing can deliver. The story moves back and forth to the past and the present as we read of young Billy and then William in the present the characters have been so well brought together which makes the story more credible.

The cover to the hardback actually brings to life the wind swept moody Dungeness coastline this is a hardback to savour and enjoy. A must read.

My thanks to the publishers riverrun for an advanced review copy.

The Birdwatcher by William Shaw was published on 19 May by riverrun and is available through branches of Waterstones and all good book shops.