Women and Love by Miriam Burke

Women and Love by Miriam Burke

Summary:

Women and Love is a thought-provoking collection of seventeen tightly woven tales about the power of love, all its trials and complications, and the shattered lives it can leave in its wake. The stories explore a huge variety of sorts of love surrounding women in wildly differing settings, and features an unforgettable cast including GPs, burglars, inmates, emigrant cleaners, carers, young professionals, and many more.

Navigating heavy themes, with a particular focus on LGBTQ+ experiences, including gender dysphoria and searching for a sperm donor, the stories leave the reader burning with indignation, full of empathy and wonder. ‘I couldn’t sleep that night; our conversation was like a trapped bird flying around inside my head. The next morning, I texted to say I wouldn’t be coming back. I lied about having to return to my country to nurse a sick relative. I couldn’t bear to see my story mirrored in his eyes, and to see what we never had. I knew he’d understand.’

My Review:

Now I have to admit that I am a bit of a lover when it comes to short stories, and I am grateful to Renard Press for a copy of Women and Love the debut collection of short stories by Miriam Burke. Seventeen stories about love and the power of love.

The beauty of short stories is that there are so many narratives and characters, and each story is so tightly written. This is love in all its forms with LGBTQ+ being a particular focus. In the stories you get to meet Doctors, prison inmates, burglars, carers and many more. I was really taken by how Miriam Burke went about creating such a remarkable cast of characters. There is something for everyone in this collection.

These are everyday scenarios that the stories tell, and you feel that you want to know more about each of them. Sometimes love can lead to good things, sometimes bad, and sometimes you can just not read a moment very well. They are all here. It is a thought-provoking collection and there are key moments in each story that you can take away and think about.

Miriam Burke is a writer from the West of Ireland and her short story collections have appeared in anthologies and many journals. Miriam has a PhD in Psychology and before becoming a writer she worked for many years as a Clinical Psychologist in London hospitals and GP surgeries. Women and Love is her debut collection.

224 Pages.

My thanks to Renard Press for the review Copy of Women and Love by Miriam Burke Published on 23rd February 2022 and is now available through Waterstones, Amazon and through your local independent bookshop or through Bookshop.org that supports your local independent bookshop. UK Bookshop.org

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The Christie Affair by Nina de Gramont

The Christie Affair by Nina de Gramont

The Christie Affair by Nina de Gramont

Summary:

In 1926, Agatha Christie disappeared for 11 days. Only I know the truth of her disappearance.
I’m no Hercule Poirot.
I’m her husband’s mistress.


Agatha Christie’s world is one of glamorous society parties, country house weekends, and growing literary fame.

Nan O’Dea’s world is something very different. Her attempts to escape a tough London upbringing during the Great War led to a life in Ireland marred by a hidden tragedy.

After fighting her way back to England, she’s set her sights on Agatha. Because Agatha Christie has something Nan wants. And it’s not just her husband.

Despite their differences, the two women will become the most unlikely of allies. And during the mysterious eleven days that Agatha goes missing, they will unravel a dark secret that only Nan holds the key to . . .

Nina de Gramont’s The Christie Affair is a stunning novel which reimagines the unexplained eleven-day disappearance of Agatha Christie in 1926 that captivated the world.

My Review:

Just mentioning the name Agatha Christie and you can conjure up in your mind all the great mystery novels but how many really know what happened in early December 1926 when Agatha Christie disappeared for 11 days. The Christie Affair (Mantle) by Nina de Gramont imagines the story of her disappearance.

Agatha Christie wrote many classic mystery novels, but this was a mystery that involved the great writer herself. What Nina de Gramont has written is a superb imagining of what led up to the writer just taking off late one evening telling no-one where she was going but she did take her trusted typewriter with her. But this is a story not just about Agatha Christie but what really led up to her disappearance and the story is about Nan O’Dea whose own life is the complete opposite of Agatha Christie herself. Nan O’Dea’s own life was tough from a young age, and she saw something that she really wanted as the writer’s life was more glamorous than her own.

Agatha married Archie Christie on Christmas Eve 1914 but in 1926 he admitted that he was involved with another woman, and this was the spark for her disappearance as she left the family home which sparks a media frenzy about her disappearance. I found the first part of the story was a bit slow but the second half which is about Agatha’s disappearance really picked up the pace and this is where the Nina de Gramont storytelling will excite readers. There are a number of characters that you get to meet which a fascinating and really make the novel.

The story of Agatha Christie’s disappearance in early December 1926 is enthralling and The Christie Affair is an entertaining read and a real mystery to get to grips with as the story comes to a thrilling climax. If you are an Agatha Christie fan, then this is one book I would recommend.

368 Pages.

The Christie Affair is published by Mantle and is now available in hardback through Waterstones, Amazon and through your local independent bookshop or through Bookshop.org that supports your local independent bookshop. UK Bookshop.org

Reputation by Sarah Vaughan

Reputation by Sarah Vaughan

Summary:

Emma Webster is a respectable MP.
 
Emma Webster is a devoted mother.
 
Emma Webster is innocent of the murder of a tabloid journalist.
 
Emma Webster is a liar.
 
#Reputation: The story you tell about yourself. And the lies others choose to believe…

My Review:

Many like me really enjoyed Anatomy of a Scandal which is being developed as a series for Netflix, but now Sarah Vaughan with another political thriller Reputation (Simon & Schuster) which is due out in hardback on 3rd March and this I can highly recommend.  

Now here is a book a really struggled to leave alone for very long, the story of Emma Webster who is an MP, she is dedicated to her role since becoming elected and also away from her position she is a devoted mother, but what happens when you life is turned upside down when you are a serving Member of Parliament and you feature in a major weekend newspaper with a photograph that seems to incite some on social media let alone some in her own party. There are threats made to her life, and there is even a bottle of water kept on her desk when she holds meetings back in her constituency in case of acid attacks. Some think Emma is fair game, and some take it to the extreme.

There is a real sense of claustrophobia when you are reading the story of Emma’s life, she is in constant fear of being followed even when she is cycling home. But then the story really reaches even new hights when a man dies, and Emma is implicated in the death of the man. What follows is a real tense courtroom drama, but just who is telling the truth?

Sarah Vaughan writes superbly and sets the scene as the drama plays out in court like you are part of the jury. Innocent or guilty you decide when you read for yourself. This is gripping and compelling drama and at times disturbing and makes for uncomfortable reading.

There are many themes being discussed within Reputation that include harassment and bullying it is very much a timely novel for the days in which we are living in.

I cannot recommend highly enough how Sarah Vaughan not only creates the settings and scenes in the novels she writes but also how she creates her characters, and this makes for powerful reading. And I for one am pleased I have.

480 Pages.

My thanks to Simon & Schuster for the NetGalley review Copy of Reputation by Sarah Vaughan. Published on 3rd March 2022 and is available to pre-order through Waterstones, Amazon and through your local independent bookshop or through Bookshop.org that supports your local independent bookshop. UK Bookshop.org

Demon by Matt Wesolowski

Demon by Matt Wesolowski

Summary:

In 1995, the picture-perfect village of Ussalthwaite was the site of one of the most heinous crimes imaginable, in a case that shocked the world.

Twelve-year-old Sidney Parsons was savagely murdered by two boys his own age. No reason was ever given for this terrible crime, and the ‘Demonic Duo’ who killed him were imprisoned until their release in 2002, when they were given new identities and lifetime anonymity.

Elusive online journalist Scott King investigates the lead-up and aftermath of the killing, uncovering dark stories of demonic possession, and encountering a village torn apart by this unspeakable act.

And, as episodes of his Six Stories podcast begin to air, and King himself becomes a target of media scrutiny and the public’s ire, it becomes clear that whatever drove those two boys to kill is still there, lurking, and the campaign of horror has just begun…

My Review:

Have we really reached the sixth book in the series of the Six Stories series by Matt Wesolowski? Each one of the previous five in the series has been nothing short of outstanding and just released is Demon (Orenda Books) and Matt Wesolowski has not let up with his incredible writing.
If you have not yet come across the Six Stories series, then you are in for a real treat. Scott King is the host of a podcast that looks at old crimes and interviews those close to what really went on. Each is gripping and addictive.

For the latest in the series of the podcast our host, Scott King is investigating the brutal murder of 12-year-old Sydney Parsons, he was murdered by two boys of the same age.

The tiny Yorkshire village of Ussalthwaite was shocked by the dreadful murder and the village became the centre of the news across the world. The two boys who committed the murder were locked up but at the time no real reason for the murder was ever given, but there was something supernatural about what really happened. Now that Scott King and his podcast series are investigating the murder of Sydney Parsons the past will be brought back and six people close to the case will be interviewed as Scott seeks to look at what took place prior and after the murder. But is the village ready for the past to be raked up? Emotions are still raw especially as the two boys convicted of the murder were released in 2002 and given new identities.

As Scott King begins to investigate the case, he begins to uncover the facts about the ‘Demonic Duo’ as they became known and a village with a history that has had its heart ripped out and may never recover. But as Scott King continues his investigation and interviews, something else begins and that are the threats to him, and these get more and more terrifying. Clearly there are some people who do not want Scott King to continue with the case.

It is a dark and powerful novel with Matt Wesolowski being an outstanding writer that can allow the reader to become so involved in the storyline despite taking them to the darkest of places of the human mind. But now the question is will there be any more in the series, or will this be the last we hear of mysterious Scott King and his investigative podcasts?

320 Pages.

#Demon

@ConcreteKraken

@OrendaBooks

My thanks to Karen Sullivan (Orenda Books) for the review copy of Demon by Matt Wesolowski. Published on 20th January 2022 and is now available through Waterstones, Amazon and through your local independent bookshop or through Bookshop.org that supports your local independent bookshop. UK Bookshop.org

The Maid by Nita Prose

The Maid by Nita Prose

Summary:

I am your maid.
I know about your secrets. Your dirty laundry.
But what do you know about me?

Molly the maid is all alone in the world. A nobody. She’s used to being invisible in her job at the Regency Grand Hotel, plumping pillows and wiping away the grime, dust and secrets of the guests passing through. She’s just a maid – why should anyone take notice?
 
But Molly is thrown into the spotlight when she discovers an infamous guest, Mr Black, very dead in his bed. This isn’t a mess that can be easily cleaned up. And as Molly becomes embroiled in the hunt for the truth, following the clues whispering in the hallways of the Regency Grand, she discovers a power she never knew was there. She’s just a maid – but what can she see that others overlook?

Escapist, charming and introducing a truly original heroine, The Maid is a story about how everyone deserves to be seen. And how the truth isn’t always black and white – it’s found in the dirtier, grey areas in between . . .

My Review:

One of the most hotly anticipated books of the year is released on 20th January The Maid (Harper Collins) the debut novel by Nita Prose and is a fabulous murder mystery and the film rights have already been snapped up by Universal.

Molly Gray is our narrator, and she is the maid at the Regency Grand Hotel, and she really loves her job, and she cannot imagine doing anything else. But Molly seems to be all alone, and she comes and goes in her role and is not noticed in her position. Each day she attends to rooms and cleaning up after the guests leave. Sometimes there are secrets that only the maid sees and hears but Molly keeps it all to herself. But all that is about to change.

When Molly attends to one room and finds the guest dead in his bed, Molly’s life suddenly changes. Molly is different and your heart just breaks for her. She is socially awkward and finds making friends difficult. She has no memory of her mother and some of the staff make fun of her. Now Molly is at the centre of a murder investigation. Molly could never kill anyone but is now questioned about the murder of a longstanding guest and so the story really comes into its own as Molly now needs the help of some of the staff at the hotel to find out what really happened and at the same time clear up any misunderstanding that she could be involved in the death of a guest.

Molly is a wonderful narrator and there is a host of interesting characters that you get to meet, some good and some not so good. Without doubt The Maid is going to be one of THE books of 2022. Beautifully written by Nita Prose and is just a superb read. You are going to love meeting Molly the maid and you will take her to your heart.

#TheMaid

352 Pages.

My thanks to Jaime Witcomb (Harper Collins) for the review Copy of The Maid by Nita Prose Published by Harper Collins on 20th January 2022 and is now available to pre-order through Waterstones, Amazon and through your local independent bookshop or through Bookshop.org that supports your local independent bookshop. UK Bookshop.org

Betrayal by David Gilman

Betrayal by David Gilman

Summary:

Dan Raglan, former Foreign Legion fighter, alias The Englishman, returns. The new high-octane international thriller from David Gilman.

Someone’s trying to start a war. And Raglan’s just walked into the kill zone.

It has been many years since Dan Raglan served in the French Foreign Legion, but the bonds forged in adversity are unbreakable and when one of his comrades calls for help, Raglan is duty-bound to answer.

An ex-legionnaire, now an intelligence officer at the Pentagon, disappears. He leaves only this message: should he ever go missing, contact Raglan. But Raglan’s not the only one looking for the missing man. From the backstreets of Marseilles, Raglan finds himself following a trail of death that will lead him to Florida, to the camaraderie of a Vietnam vet in Washington D.C., and into the heart of a bitter battle in the upper echelons of the US intelligence community.

Pursued by both the CIA and a rogue female FBI agent, Raglan’s search will place him in the cross hairs of an altogether more lethal organisation. Tracking his old comrade, he finds himself in the midst of deadly conspiracy, and on a journey to a fatal confrontation deep in the Honduran rainforest.

My Review:

The return of Dan Raglan. Fans of thriller writer David Gilman will be delighted to hear that published today (6th January) is Betrayal (Head of Zeus) and is the second in the series following on from The Englishman that was published in July 2020.

Not to worry if you have not read the first instalment featuring the former Foreign Legion fighter as both can be happily read as a standalone thriller but be warned, you may then want to go and grab a copy of the first when you have read Betrayal as this is a gripping thriller that will have you crossing the globe and at every turn there is danger that faces Dan Raglan known as the The Englishman.

In this instalment Dan Raglan hears that a friend and former French Foreign Legion fighter who now works at the Pentagon has disappeared and gone off the grid. Because of the role he has at the Pentagon, this is suspicious, and Raglan now must find him and quickly, but why has his former colleague disappeared? Be prepared for one hell of a rollercoaster of a thriller. The pace never lets up and when you consider this is a book of nearly 550 pages this is quite something to keep it going.

For Raglan he knows his former Legionnaire friend is in trouble and time is of the essence. Without giving anything away, there is more to this story than just a disappearance of his former colleague. Raglan is searching for his old comrade but who is looking for Dan Raglan and why?

Characters are so important in novels and in Betrayal they have been brilliantly written so that you can really get into the storyline. Raglan will do whatever is required and will not hesitate to kill anyone if that is what it takes.

David Gilman writes superbly and has crafted a compelling and plot driven thriller that is packed with drama and thriller lovers will really enjoy Betrayal as there is so much packed into this novel.

@DavidGilmanUK

@HoZ_Books

544 Pages.

My thanks to Sophie Ransom (Ransom PR) for the review Copy of Betrayal by David Gilman Published by Head of Zeus on 6th January 2022 and is now available through Waterstones, Amazon and through your local independent bookshop or through Bookshop.org that supports your local independent bookshop. UK Bookshop.org

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The Books That Made My Year: 2021

My Books of the Year for 2021

That was the year that was. We are still living in uncertain and strange times, but you can always guarantee that books will be there and get us through and they have again this year.

So as the old year draws to a close, I want to share some of the books that I have read and reviewed here on my blog, or through my book reviews for Word Gets Around magazine or via radio during the past year.

This year I have selected my ten fiction titles and ten non-fiction titles without actually picking just one from each to be my best book of the year. There have been so many great books through 2021 and it was incredibly hard to keep it down to just ten.

My ten fiction books of 2021

My ten favourite fiction reads for 2021:

The Night Gate by Peter May (riverrun)

Set in France in the autumn of 2020, Enzo Macleod is asked to investigate the discovery of the remains of a man found beneath a tree. He has been shot through the head. There is another murder and the two are seventy years apart. To uncover the whole story, you must go back to the fall of France in 1940.

A Net for Small Fishes by Lucy jago (Bloomsbury)

This is a fabulous novel based on the true story that rocked the court of James I. If you love historical novels then this sumptuous novel with vivid characters is just waiting to be read. So much detail of the seventeenth century court life.

While Paris Slept by Ruth Druart (Headline)

Paris in 1944 a young woman is hoarded onto a train that is bound for a concentration camp and in an act of desperation she passes her baby to a complete stranger. Fast forward to Santa Cruz in 1953 and the past is about to return. I absolutely loved this novel.

No Honour by Awais Khan (orenda Books)

A story based in a small Pakistani village and sixteen-year-old Abida there are age old rules to abide by and consequences if you don’t. She wants a life with the young man she loves. She has no choice but to leave her village and head to Lahore. But this is where the story really begins. Powerful and heart wrenching.

Still Life by Sarah Winman (Fourth Estate)

Brilliant does not do justice to Still Life. I know this is many readers favourite of 2021 and it is not hard to see why. I just love Sarah’s writing. The story moves between London and Florence in a sweeping novel of love and fate. Simply gorgeous.

The Lamplighters by Emma Stonex (Picador)

Cornwall 1972 and three lighthouse keepers have simply vanished from the lighthouse, but what did really happen to the three men? Surely, they could not have just simply vanished? Based on real events.

On Hampstead Heath by Marika Cobbold (Arcadia Books)

Thorn Marsh writes for the London Journal but now it has been bought out Thorn finds herself moved from the news desk to the midweek supplement and fabricates a good news story. So why has she done this? You could easily overlook this novel. But don’t it is just wonderful.

Ariadne by Jennifer Saint (Wildfire)

Shortlisted for Waterstones book of the year. A stunning retelling of the ancient Greek myth of Theseus and Minotaur. A wonderful debut novel. Jennifer Saint writes so beautifully. Cannot wait to see what comes next.

The Beresford by Will Carver (Orenda Books)

The Beresford is an apartment building where the rates are cheap but ring the doorbell if you dare. No-one seems to stay for very long, but they never seem to leave if you know what I mean. This is a dark and creepy story with some humour added. A master storyteller.

Snow Country by Sebastian Faulks (Hutchinson)

Set across three time periods, beginning in 1914 and WWI and as we move through the years WWII is looming. This is a sweeping love story that begins in Austria. A tale of love lost and found.

My ten non-fiction books of 2021

Power and Thrones: A New History of the Middle Ages (Head of Zeus)

Dan Jones does not write short history books, at 720 pages but what Dan does is write gripping history books. This account covers the period from AD 410 to AD 1527. It is a compelling read that you just cannot put down. There is so much contained in over 700 pages. Through this period, we see empires built and destroyed. Easily in my top ten of the year.

The Reacher Guy: The Authorised Biography of Lee Child by Heather Martin (Constable)

Think of Lee Child and you automatically know him from the huge bestselling books, over 100 million of them, but do you know Lee Child the man? How did it all begin? Heather Martin has spent time with great man himself and it is all here. There is so much in this biography. Heather Martin is a wonderful writer and if you are a fan of Lee Child, this is a must read.

Mozart: The Reign of Love by Jan Swafford (Faber & Faber)

I have been fascinated by the great composers for many years and really wanted to get to know more about who they really were. Well look no further, this is a stunning book that covers the life of the genius composer. Mozart was not like the other composers. Different is an understatement but what genius as a composer. This book covers his life in over 800 pages.

Index, A History of the by Dennis Duncan (Allen Lane)

We can be so guilty of overlooking the humble index, so how did it all begin and were did they begin. The answer is here in one of my non-fiction books of the year. This could be so easily overlooked but it should not as we use indexes more than you think. Next time you Google, think of this. Duncan brings wit into his account of the index which spans over 800 years.

The Screaming Sky by Charles Foster (Little Toller Books)

Writing this on a dull last day of the year, I miss the Swift, the scream as they fly low of the house. But it won’t be long I tell myself. In the meantime, here is an account of Charles Foster’s as he follows the Swift from its wintering home and waits patiently for the return to the UK. It is poetic and thoughtful with beautiful illustrations. Shortlisted for the Wainwright Prize in 2021.

The Making of Oliver Cromwell by Ronald Hutton (Yale University Press)

This is a new and fascinating history of Oliver Cromwell. The only English commoner to become head of state. Ronald Hutton gets to the facts of a man that really has his place in history of this country. I am really hoping there is a part two to this outstanding book.

A Poet for Every day of the Year by Allie Esiri (Macmillan)

I have had a love of poetry since I was very young and have many of the collections put together by Allie Esiri and here are 366 poems for each and every day of the year. From Shakespeare to Wordsworth to Christina Rossetti and many more. Many of the poets and the poems may be familiar but many will be new to you. This book is never far away from me every day.

The White Ship by Charles Spencer (William Collins)

One of the great disasters of this country happened was the sinking of the White Ship in 1120. Many drowned including the King’s heir. But what really happened that night. It was the fastest ship afloat. Charles Spencer writes an historical account, and it reads like a bestselling thriller.

Burning the Books: A History of Knowledge Under Attack by Richard Ovenden (John Murray)

A 3,000-year history of the destruction of knowledge. We all know of the burning of the books in Germany in 1933, but books have been under attack since the clay tablets. This is a really important book about knowledge, and it is very thought-provoking.

The Glitter in the Green: In Search of Hummingbirds by Jon Dunn (Bloomsbury)

Having been to the Caribbean and seen Hummingbirds up close, they are just so alluring. Jon Dunn takes us on a journey to discover some of the great Hummingbirds with great stories of his encounters with the birds and the people he meets on his travels.

So, there we are another year in books comes to a close. I will keep saying this, but writers and books are so important, especially during uncertain times when we can escape into a book be it a novel or a book on history. This year I have started my journey with the Open University studying English Literature and Creative Writing and it has already given me a new perspective on how I read as well as writing.

I have really sharing some great books over the last year and I am so grateful for all the kind comments that many have taken to the time to add. Sat on my desk among the pile of study material are some great books for 2022 just waiting to be read and it already looks like being another great year.

This is also my opportunity to thank all the authors and publishers and the many people who work in PR who have trusted me with their books. To each one of you all I can do is thank you. It is also a chance to mention bookshops and the incredible booksellers who again have been working so hard in these difficult times and yet just look at the book sales over the past year.

I hope the New Year is a better year for us all. Here’s to more great books in 2022.

The Christmas Murder Game by Alexandra Benedict

The Christmas Murder Game by Alexandra Benedict

Summary:

Twelve clues.
Twelve keys.
Twelve days of Christmas.
But who will survive until Twelfth Night?

Lily Armitage never intended to return to Endgame House – the grand family home where her mother died twenty-one Christmases ago. Until she receives a letter from her aunt, asking her to return to take part in an annual tradition: the Christmas Game. The challenge? Solve twelve clues, to find twelve keys. The prize? The deeds to the manor house.

Lily has no desire to win the house. But her aunt makes one more promise: The clues will also reveal who really killed Lily’s mother all those years ago.

So, for the twelve days of Christmas, Lily must stay at Endgame House with her estranged cousins and unravel the riddles that hold the key not just to the family home, but to its darkest secrets. However, it soon becomes clear that her cousins all have their own reasons for wanting to win the house – and not all of them are playing fair.

As a snowstorm cuts them off from the village, the game turns deadly. Soon Lily realises that she is no longer fighting for an inheritance, but for her life.

This Christmas is to die for . . . Let the game begin

My Review:

You cannot beat a murder mystery at Christmas and especially set in a country house and a family that lets face don’t quite get on and in The Christmas Murder Mystery (Zaffre) by Alexandra Benedict you all these and a snow storm to add to the setting.

I featured The Christmas murder Game on my Christmas Books for the Somerset Cool Christmas Show as part of the Book Club, and I said that it just reminded me of Cluedo a game I still enjoy today. It really does have that feel about.

The lead character is Lily Armitage who cannot face ever returning to her aunt Lillian’s home that is Endgame House that is situated in the Yorkshire Dales, this this is where her mother died when Lily was young. But Lillian has died, and she has requested that the family must return to Endgame House over the Christmas holiday, but for Lily this means spending time with a family that has more than just a few cracks in it. But she has the chance of finding out what really happened to her mother all those years ago. But there is a catch, in that her aunt has insisted the family must partake in the Christmas Game that Lillian has set. There are twelve clues that Lillian has created in Sonnets and these must be solved as there are twelve keys to be found. The family must have no communication with the outside world and all mobile phones and devices must be handed in. At the end the winner will have the keys to Endgame House.

As Lily settles into the creepy old house, memories come flooding back of when she was here as a young child. What really did happen all those Christmases ago? Within the walls of Endgame House lie secrets that have gone untold for many years. Is this where the secrets finally seep out of the walls and into the open and how is this going to affect a family that really does not get on. Lilly wants to go back home to London where she now belongs.

What Lily does not know yet is that these games will include murder and that Lily will need to be on her guard as there is someone here who desperately wants this house for a reason and now just to make things worse a snowstorm has hit this part of remote Yorkshire. Lily feels she is trapped in a home and with relatives she does not trust, and some will not be playing these games fairly some will kill to win.

This is a claustrophobic Christmas murder mystery that is just a wonderful read. There is so much that is hidden away within the pages, Alexandra Benedict has created some let’s say interesting characters but one in Lily that you will cheer for.

The Christmas Murder Game is just the perfect festive read, it is fun and one that you will enjoy if you’re a fan of Agatha Christie. But there is more Alexandra has dropped in a few little games for the reader to play while trying to solve this gripping murder mystery. Hidden in the pages at twelve book titles and at the end of the book there is a puzzle to solve that you will enjoy while you digest that extra slice of Christmas cake you wish you had said no to but pour that glass of wine and settle down to read a festive murder mystery.

400 Pages

 The Christmas Murder Game by Alexandra Benedict is Published by Zaffre on 30th September and is now available through Waterstones, Amazon and through your local independent bookshop or through Bookshop.org that supports your local independent bookshop. UK Bookshop.org

The Quiet People by Paul Cleave

The Quiet People by Paul Cleave

Summary:

Suspicion is cast on two successful crime writers, when their seven-year-old son goes missing. Are they trying to show that they can commit the perfect crime? A mesmerisingly twisty, dark thriller from number-one bestselling author Paul Cleave…

Cameron and Lisa Murdoch are successful New Zealand crime writers, happily married and topping bestseller lists worldwide. They have been on the promotional circuit for years, joking that no one knows how to get away with crime like they do. After all, they write about it for a living.

So when their challenging seven-year-old son Zach disappears, the police and the public naturally wonder if they have finally decided to prove what they have been saying all this time… 

Are they trying to show how they can commit the perfect crime?

Electrifying, taut and immaculately plotted, The Quiet People is a chilling, tantalisingly twisted thriller that will keep you gripped and guessing to the last explosive page.

My Review:

I have been waiting patiently to publish my review of an outstanding thriller that is dark and twisted and one of the best five star reads of 2021. The Quiet People (Orenda Books) by Paul Cleave is the perfect crime novel for the Christmas period if you have not already read it that is.

As soon as the book landed on my doormat the cover just screamed at me. When a book has the has the words “Can crime writers get away with murder?” Well, there it is. Instantly it had in its grip and that was before I had even started reading.

The crime writing husband and wife that is Cameron and Lisa Murdoch seem on paper to be the perfect couple, happily married and they have become very successful as crime writers but when one night their son Zach disappears things start to unravel for the couple.

Both Cameron and Lisa tell the police that they think Zach has run away after a family argument. When there is evidence of the pair telling a writers panel that they could get away with, it is not long before the police and even the public start to question the couple’s innocence, let alone the media and we all know how the media love a high-profile case. Meanwhile the search for Zach goes on. What I really enjoyed about how Paul Cleave set out this pulsating thriller is how he uses key characters as narrators. You cannot help but become immersed in this superb plot that has many twists and turns before you reach the last page. One thing that struck me very quickly was Cameron and Lisa, were they really the perfect couple or was this just for show? A pretence to carry on selling their books perhaps. Something to me was not right. But I will let you find that one out for yourselves.

The chapters are short so you can easily put it down and go and pour yourself another drink, but you won’t want to leave this one alone for long. The Quiet People is a compelling and gripping read from start to finish and it will have one minute supporting the couple the next you won’t.

Yes, it really is that good. Forget the tv, go to your local bookshop and get yourself a copy of The Quiet People. You won’t regret it.

300 Pages.

My thanks to Karen Sullivan (Orenda Books) for the review Copy of The Quiet People by Paul Cleave Published on 25th November 2021 and is now available through Waterstones, Amazon and through your local independent bookshop or through Bookshop.org that supports your local independent bookshop. UK Bookshop.org

Silenced by Jennie Ensor

Silenced by Jennie Ensor

Summary:

A teenage girl is murdered on her way home from school, stabbed through the heart. Her North London community is shocked, but no-one has the courage to help the police, not even her mother. DI Callum Waverley, in his first job as senior investigating officer, tries to break through the code of silence that shrouds the case.

This is a world where the notorious Skull Crew rules through fear. Everyone knows you keep your mouth shut or you’ll be silenced – permanently.

This is Luke’s world. Reeling from the loss of his mother to cancer, his step-father distant at best, violent at worst, he slides into the Skull Crew’s grip.

This is Jez’s world too. Her alcoholic mother neither knows nor cares that her 16-year-old daughter is being exploited by V, all-powerful leader of the gang.

Luke and Jez form a bond. Can Callum win their trust, or will his own demons sabotage his investigation? And can anyone stop the Skull Crew ensuring all witnesses are silenced?

Silenced is the compelling and gritty new thriller by British author Jennie Ensor. A gripping story of love, fear and betrayal, it’s Romeo and Juliet for our troubled times.

My Review:

Was it really July 2016 that I reviewed Blind Side by Jennie Ensor? Time as they say does fly but Jennie Ensor is back with her new novel Silenced (Hobeck Books) that was released earlier this week and what a powerful and gripping story that Jennie has written.

There is an undercurrent of modern-day Britain within the pages of Silenced as the story begins with the murder of a teenage girl stabbed to death on her way home from school. At the heart of this story is the rule of gangs on the street.

This is a powerful novel that will get your pulses racing as the police now set about trying to find out what really happened and catch the killers before another tragic senseless young person is murdered on the streets.

It is down to DI Callum Waverley to find any witnesses to the murder. This is his first role as investigating officer but there is a back story to DI Waverley who has a few issues at home of his own. There is also a narrative of two young teenagers in the story that really bring the story home about gangs on the streets. We meet Jez and Luke who because of their lives at home get pulled into the gang culture. Once in and it is not that easy to get out of. The Skull Crew are not that forgiving.

The way that Jennie Ensor has crafted her novel is stark and real. You could almost smell the fear of gang culture pouring out of every page. Be prepared for a few twists and turns along the way. The characters are so real and what this story does show is how easy it is for youngers to become embroiled in this shocking lifestyle that is terrifying the streets we live on.

You want to reach out to Jez and Luke and pull them away. Two bright young people whose own lives have become derailed because of events at home then get pulled into the gang culture.

Silenced pulls a few punches along the way and I found I had to walk away from the book a few times, but this is one story worth the read.

528 Pages.

My thanks to Hobeck Books for the review copy of Silenced by Jennie Ensor Published on 7th December 2021 and is now available to order through Hobeck Books:https://www.hobeck.net/product-page/silenced-by-jennie-ensor   or through Waterstones, Amazon and through your local independent bookshop or through Bookshop.org that supports your local independent bookshop. UK Bookshop.org

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