Victim of Innocence: a DCI Matilda Darke short story by Michael Wood

5 Stars from me

Victim of Innocence is a prequel to the incredible DCI Matilda Darke crime series.

This, short story, is a must for fans of the series and you get to meet a slightly different Matilda. In this book her beloved husband is still alive and she is more fun, flirtatious and coquettish. It’s a little bit heartbreaking to know just how things are going to end up, yet still wonderful to see them together.

The story shows Matilda having to work alongside DI Ben Hales as they have to work together to find a killer before he strikes again.

There are some great scenes of tension and peril, particularly during the undercover section and it is a cracking plot.

Not everything is quite as it first seems…

If you have a book lover in your life and know that they enjoy crime thrillers – then this book is a must buy for their Christmas list!

Synopsis: The nightmare is just beginning…

A short story and prequel featuring DCI Matilda Darke, star of Michael Wood’s darkly compelling crime series. Perfect for fans of Angela Marsons and Patricia Gibney.

She invited the killer into her home…
 
The body of a young woman is found in an apartment block in a Sheffield suburb. She was attacked at home, in a sudden moment of violence that sends shockwaves through the community.
 
DCI Matilda Darke has no choice but to work with her rival, DI Ben Hales, as the investigation takes them undercover into the dark world of a serial rapist targeting innocent women on the streets of the steel city.

But can Matilda and Ben finally put their grievances aside and work together? Or will this case be their last?

Perfect Murder by Rebecca Bradley

4 Stars from me

Dark humour and silliness abound throughout these pages, it is a great little standalone thriller which closely follows the introverted life of a crime writer, Alice Friend, while she tries to decide if she could commit the perfect murder.

There are some very sweet little touches, including her genuinely love for her ex mother in law and her bafflement when a stranger reaches out and demonstrates concern for her wellbeing.

All in all, Perfect Murder, is a fast and absorbing read which indulges in a little bit of quirkiness along the way.

 

Synopsis: Could you commit the perfect murder?

Alice Friend thinks you can, and she’s going to prove it. But perfection is elusive, and the body count rises as she pursues her aim, changing MO with each kill.

It should be easy. After all, Alice is perfectly suited for the task. As a crime writer she leads a solitary life and has little to get in her way.

Until it does.

Can she really kill and walk away, or will her actions have consequences closer to home than she could have imagined? Suddenly it looks like time may be running out for Alice…

Dark and quirky, download Perfect Murder to see if the perfect murder really can be committed.

For fans of Peter James and Angela Marsons

The Dinner Party by R J Parker

4 Stars from me

What a great read – would make for a fab film – think along the lines of Shallow Grave!

The Dinner Party jogged along nicely to start with and then you find yourself on a bit of a roller coaster ride as the story gathers pace. Both dangerous and silly in equal measures and definitely a book to be devoured in two sittings.

Ok so none of the characters were overly likeable, except maybe Ted, maybe, but that just means you don’t get attached to them which is good for a standalone.

I don’t think I’ve read anything by R J Parker before but I will certainly look out for his books now!

Synopsis: All your friends are invited. But which of them will survive?
An addictive and twisty psychological thriller about the dark secrets that lie within a peaceful neighbourhood.

Eight friends. Eight secrets. One killer.

A group of old friends gather in a peaceful suburban street for a dinner party.

They are expecting a fun evening of wine, food and pleasant company. But then they start to play the game…

It’s about trust and dark secrets – it tests marriage to its limits – and none of them can begin to imagine its consequences.

Because the next day, two guests are dead and the others are trapped in a nightmare…

Who’s There? by Kerena Swan

5 Stars from me
County lines are of serious concern in the UK right now and Who’s There? really taps into this current and troubling issue. Kerena’s history of working in the sector shone through and added a breadth of credibility to the story.
For me, (I work in a secondary school and live in a town that is on a main line from London) this book is highly insightful and deals with a contemporary and very real issue in a sensitive way. Safeguarding of young and vulnerable people is high on the agenda for schools and government agencies and Who’s There? really shines a light on just how easy it is for someone to fall foul of these gangs of drug dealers.
This book is worth reading for that alone. So much so that I would actually recommend this to anyone who was seeking to gain an understanding of how the county lines work and why they are of such a risk to our children and young people.
Chip was a sweet character and again all too familiar to me as it is young, disconnected kids who are often targeted by these gangs to be their drug runners – kids like Chip who aren’t being closely monitored by their families and who are desperate either for attention, money or even just a sense of belonging.
Arnold is a superb character, I loved him so much for his straight forward view of things. What lovely eyes to see the world through – I felt quite jealous of his naive ability to see just the good in things. His view of the housing estate was so different to the cynical first impression gathered by his mum. Sadly this also meant he was the perfect person for them to ‘befriend’ and abuse. Yet, in among on the awfulness, I loved his little obsession with Clint Eastwood and the cowboy films, that was a nice touch.
Poker and Spider – ugh. Awful people with literally no morals.
I felt for the poor girl who lived next door to Arnold. Saskia was clearly a very genuine and kind girl – she was very sweet to Chip and Arnold on several occasions, yet her own dark past had led her to become hooked on drugs. Such a shame how the story panned out for her.
The parallel story of Arnold’s family would have been just as intriguing as a book on it’s own and showed a real depth of understanding of family dynamics and the complexity of the relationships within. Arnold’s mum, sister, stepdad and of course the dog were all excellently crafted and served to bring the story to life.
The fear for Arnold’s mum as she let go enough for him to leave home and live on his own was tangible and beautifully written.
I really enjoyed Who’s There? and am grateful for the opportunity to be part of the blog tour.
Synopsis: Appearances can be deceptive… Arnold Eastwood is thrilled when social services allocate him a flat all of his own. Independence hasn’t come easily to a young man with Downs Syndrome but now he has the chance to live free from his mum’s nagging, find a girlfriend, watch endless movies and make new friends. Meanwhile a London drug gang is setting up a supply line in Arnold’s town. They’re looking for someone to deliver drugs for them and somewhere to set up a base of operations. Soon Arnold and his flat are in the drug gang’s sights. Drawn into the dark underworld of crack cocaine and modern slavery, Arnold soon discovers that friends can in fact be deadly enemies. The question is: can he break free?  
Author Bio:
Kerena Swan trained as a Social Worker and worked for Social Services for over 25 years. For the past 14 years she has owned and managed an ‘outstanding’ rated agency for children with disabilities.  Following serious illnesses she decided to fulfil her long-held ambition of writing a book and getting it published. ‘Dying to See You’, published by Bloodhound Books, was her debut novel. 

After many years of writing professionally in the course of her work, Kerena has discovered the exhilaration and deep joy of writing fiction and can be found at all hours in front of her computer. Her second novel ‘Scared to Breathe’ is now available and her third book, ‘Who’s There?’ will be released on December 13th 2019.

Kerena lives with her family in a small village in Bedfordshire, UK and her books are set in the surrounding areas.

Drawing on her extensive knowledge and experience of the problematic world of social work and social studies, Kerena adds a unique angle to the domestic noir and crime genre.

If you would like to hear more about new releases, read Kerena’s blogs and download a free short-story – the prequel to Dying to See You – then visit www.kerenaswan.co.uk   and join her mailing list.

Facebook – Facebook.com/kerenaswan

Twitter- @kerenaswan

Instagram – kerenaswan

Goodreads link – https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/48763828-who-s-there

Amazon link – https://www.amazon.com/Whos-There-Kerena-Swan-ebook/dp/B081D5JWXG/ref=sr_1_2?keywords=Kerena+Swan&qid=1573648513&s=digital-text&sr=1-2

Remain Silent by Susie Steiner

4 Stars from me

There is a simple beauty within these pages – among the chaotic debris of Manon’s life, and the depravity, abuse, racism, squalor and disappointment in the story – that is found within the relationship based narrative. It is so acutely observed, so raw, so natural and so accurate. A truly wonderful and unexpected delight. The way Susie Steiner has captured the relationships and emotions is quite brilliant.

DS Manon Bradshaw is a great character, she leads us unflinchingly through every aspect of this book and she shares a lot along the way.

There is an uncomfortable truth in this story as the thread of the abuse of immigrants is all too close to home. The inhumane way in which these men are treated was captured perfectly and highlights a sad truth within our society.

I really enjoyed the setting of the book too as it is reasonably local to me which I guess made me connect with the book virtually from page one – ‘oooh I’ve walked through that park where the dead guy was hanging…’

I very much enjoyed this book although was saddened to read in the authors notes at the end of her own ill health. It made for very humbling reading and I hope that treatment is going well.

Synopsis: Newly married and navigating life with a toddler as well as her adopted adolescent son, Manon Bradshaw is happy to be working part-time in the cold cases department of the Cambridgeshire police force, a job which allows her to “potter in, coffee in hand and log on for a spot of internet shopping – precisely what she had in mind when she thought of work-life balance.” But beneath the surface Manon is struggling with the day-to-day realities of what she assumed would be domestic bliss: fights about whose turn it is to clean the kitchen, the bewildering fatigue of having a young child in her forties, and the fact that she is going to couple’s counseling alone because her husband feels it would just be her complaining.

But when Manon is on a walk with her two-year-old son in a peaceful suburban neighborhood and discovers the body of a Lithuanian immigrant hanging from a tree with a mysterious note attached, she knows her life is about to change. Suddenly, she is back on the job, full-force, trying to solve the suicide – or is it a murder – in what may be the most dangerous and demanding case of her life. 

Patch Lane by S F Barkley

4 Stars from me

I absolutely loved Patch Lane! There is something simplistically beautiful about this book and the gentle lull of the story that just captivated me. Her relationship with her Dad and Aunt is really cute too and it made for comforting -if a little spooky – reading.

Our tenacious cop, Sarah, is a great character – she’s a little stereotypical but that just made her all the more likeable for me. She’s good at her job, has great instincts and loves her family – she was perfect in a small town cop kinda way.

I love the creepiness of Patch Lane and all that has gone on in that house and on that land made for a few unsettling moments especially when she was attending those 911 hangups on her own.

All in all the storyline itself was interesting and intriguing and I really enjoyed reading it.

I love the book cover too.

Click the link below to win a Kindle download of Patch Lane!

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PLane digital cover.jpg

Sarah Hastings is a rookie cop who works the night shift in Amber Forest, a small rural town nestled in the Western Pennsylvania mountains. After repeatedly responding to an abandoned and allegedly haunted farmhouse for 911 hang up calls, she discovers a dead body in a secret room. The forensic investigators determine that the body has only been dead for three to four days, but the case takes an unexpected turn when Sarah runs the victim’s fingerprints and finds that her Jane Doe actually died 20 years ago.

The murder investigation is complicated with a sloppy autopsy and delayed forensic reports. When the US Marshals and FBI join the case, Sarah realizes that she is caught in a web of jurisdictional politics that seem to care less about the victim and are more concerned with a larger confidential case. Sarah soon realizes that she may be closer to the victim than she thought and finds herself drawn deeper into the case, threatening not just her career, but her life.

Excerpt

The house was in total disrepair. The exterior had white wooden siding with loosely attached, rotting black shutters. The moonlight highlighted the chipping paint, making the shutters appear two-toned. The old brick chimney was pulling away from the side of the house, and small trees were growing on the lower roof. There were no signs of life inside—no lights, no sound, not even a car parked on the property. It was the only house on the lane, so I deduced this was once a running farm. This must have been the original farmhouse. I slowly made my way around the house, trudging through the overgrown grass, to check the perimeter. With no evidence of life or habitation, I was beginning to question if Dispatch had gotten the address wrong. I got on the radio. “1034 to Dispatch.”

“Dispatch, go ahead.”

“I’m at 52 Patch Lane. Can you confirm this is the address?”

“Stand by.” After about a minute, Dispatch got back on the air. “1034, yes, that’s the correct address. Do you need backup?”

“Negative. It appears no one is home, but I’ll update.”

At this point, I knocked on the front door and announced myself. “Officer Hastings, Amber Forest Police Department!” No answer. All of the windows were closed, so I tried the front door. Locked. I didn’t have any extenuating circumstances that would allow a warrantless entry, so all I could do was leave. There wasn’t even enough for me to write a police report.

“1034 to Dispatch,” I radioed again.

“Dispatch, go ahead.”

“It looks like this house is abandoned. I think the 911 hang up might have been some crossed telephone wires. Clear me from the call with no report.”

“10-4.”

I began driving back down the gravel lane when another wave of chills shot through me. I hit my brakes and glanced in my rearview mirror. My brake lights flooded the house in red, and for a split moment I thought I saw someone standing in the window watching me leave. I blinked, and the figure vanished. My intuition had kept me alive this far, but I knew Chief Fox would rip me a new one if I tried to enter that house based on my intuition and faintly seeing shadows. I took a deep breath and convinced my foot to ease off of the brake and back on the gas.

 

PatchLN

Blog Tour Schedule

December 2nd

Reads & Reels (Spotlight) http://readsandreels.com

Horror Tree (Guest Post) https://www.horrortree.com

I’m All About Books (Review) https://imallaboutbooks.com/

Kim Knight (Review) http://kimknightauthor.wordpress.com

December 3rd

B is for Book Review (Guest Post) https://bforbookreview.wordpress.com

Just 4 My Books (Spotlight) http://www.just4mybooks.wordpress.com

Scarlett Readz & Runz (Review) https://scarlettreadzandrunz.com/

December 4th

The Magic of Wor(l)ds (Interview) http://themagicofworlds.wordpress.com

Reading Nook (Spotlight) http://readingnook84.wordpress.com

J Bronder Book Reviews (Review) https://jbronderbookreviews.com/

December 5th

Cup of Books Blog (Review) https://cupofbooksblog.wordpress.com/

Read and Rated (Review) https://readandrated.com/

My Comic Relief (Review) https://mycomicrelief.wordpress.com/

December 6th

Didi Oviatt (Spotlight) https://didioviatt.wordpress.com

Jessica Belmont (Review) https://jessicabelmont.wordpress.com/

Dash Fan Book Reviews (Spotlight) https://dashfan81.blogspot.com/

 

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Blog Tour Organized By:

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R&R Book Tours 

The Murder House by Michael Wood

An easy 5 stars from me!

First things first, this is book 5 in the DCI Matilda Darke series so do yourself a favour and start with book one! Then book two… Then book three… Then book four

The opening scenes are brutal and set the stage perfectly for the rest of the story. I was utterly gripped from the very first page of The Murder House and I fell straight back in with DCI Darke and her team as they raced to find the killer who has seeming butchered a ‘perfect’ family in cold blood.

Michael’s writing style is sublime and the way he captures the differing personalities of characters within the book is an absolute masterclass in the craft. All of the characters, from a prostitute who fills a few paragraphs, to the individual members of the team are well defined, individual and believable.

There appears to be a plethora of potential suspects, virtually everyone is lying about something and Matilda should know better by now than to take risks! There are some proper spooky scenes in The Murder House, plenty of peril and a nice number of red herrings to boot!

In among the horrors of the murder and the inevitable ‘whodunnit’ there are some wonderfully woven relationships, personal problems, office politics all running alongside the backdrop of Matilda and her life.

I long for this series to be televised; it is just perfect for it.

I absolutely adore the character Matilda and hugely look forward to new books in the series when they come out. I simply cannot recommend this series enough. If you have a book lover in your life this series would truly make the perfect Christmas gift!

Synopsis: It’s the most disturbing crime scene DCI Matilda Darke has ever seen…

The morning after a wedding reception at a beautiful suburban home in Sheffield, the bride’s entire family are stabbed to death – in a frenzied attack more violent than anything DCI Matilda Darke could have imagined.

Forensics point to a burglar on the run across the country. But cracks are starting to appear in Matilda’s team, someone is playing games with the evidence – and the killer might be closer to home than they thought…

Buried Sins by Louise Mullins

5 Stars from me

In a lot of ways, Buried Sins is a horrible story about horrible people who do horrible things, yet among the rubble of the depravity there sits a little girl called Carys who somehow manages to create a family and a life for herself.

On the cover, this is described as a ‘gritty, addictive, psychological thriller‘ and I would have to agree that is a pretty fair assessment, for Buried Sins is certainly addictive and I think a lot of this is to do with the clever way in which the story unfolds – it flits back and forth between childhood Carys and adult Carys and reveals layer by layer of truth along the way.

There is a lot of information regarding childhood abuse and some effects on of trauma on memory – this was very tightly woven into the story and did not feel gratuitous or out of place. As much as is possible, I felt this whole aspect of the book was dealt with sensitively.

I think what I found most disturbing about Buried Sins is the air of authenticity it has, especially when describing the family dynamic between Carys and her parents – both of whom seem as equally messed up as each other!

The miracle for me throughout this dark and disturbing tale is that Carys has managed to sustain a marriage and keep together a family of her own. In all honesty this stretched the realms of reality the most for me but then I remembered how much I enjoyed Harry Potter and Twilight and that this was also fiction and I shut up!

DI Locke and her team were background players for me and I wonder if we will learn more about them in future books; I hope so.

My thanks to Random Things Tours and to Louise Mullins for letting me take part in this blog tour.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Synopsis: Introducing Welsh Detective Inspector Emma Locke who appears in her very own upcoming procedural series.

Readers who enjoy books by C.L. Taylor, K.L. Slater, and Rachel Abbott will love this gritty, addictive, standalone psychological thriller.

When Carys returns to her childhood home, inherited after the death of her father, she is shocked to discover the bones of an infant buried in the paddock. Days later, DI Locke’s team uncover the remains of a missing girl, sparking vivid memories of the day Carys was abducted by The Shadow Man.

While the evidence against her father mounts, Carys recalls more of her past. And each new revelation provides DI Locke with the proof she needs to close the cases of several girls’ disappearances.

Sometimes the past refuses to stay buried.

Website:
https://www.louisemullinsauthor.com/

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SHE by H C Warner

4 Stars from me

I blame Charlotte!

I loved the characters in SHE, even the horrid ones and there were a few, the family dynamics and relationships between friends felt really well constructed.

It was a difficult read in places as Warner pushes the reader to the edges of acceptability in terms of what constitutes ‘story’ and what constitutes ‘shock value’ and for me SHE is very firmly the right side of the line. An important subject matter seemed to me to be deal with in a very pragmatic manner.

I really thought I’d be giving SHE a 5 star rating but a couple of things just made that impossible for me – the part where the book flips to a different viewpoint, I have to be honest and say my heart sank, I really didn’t want to have to read everything all over again. Plus there just seemed too many occasions where in reality people would have spoken up or stepped in.

Otherwise – and I am hesitant because I can see from other reviews that a lot of people are wild for the bit where the POV flips so please don’t let my silly old opinion put you off – SHE is a great psychological thriller, I totally kept on turning the pages wanting to read more and see what would happen next.

Synopsis: She’s everything he dreamed of. Isn’t she? Ben can’t believe his luck when the beautiful Bella walks into his life, just when he needs her most.

Still bruised and vulnerable since breaking-up with long-term girlfriend, Charlotte, he falls head over heels in love.

But Bella isn’t quite the ideal partner that Ben believes her to be. She quickly decides that everything is better when it is just the two of them – making it harder for friend and family to stay in touch. And then a sudden death triggers a chain of events that throws Ben headlong into a nightmare…

Secrets, lies, vengeance, and betrayal are at the heart of this story about a family that is destroyed when their son brings home the perfect girl…

All The Rage by Cara Hunter

5 Stars from me

Well it is fair to say that Cara Hunter does not lack for imagination. All The Rage is chock-full of suspects and has at least eleventybillion potential different outcomes – all of which you try and compute as you race through the pages.

Beautiful Oxford comes to life within this story and in a way the Cambridge does during the Cambridge Blue series.

DI Adam Fawley is a complex little bunny isn’t he, even so I find him very likeable and he has that dogged determination that all the very best literary detectives possess – if you were a victim he’d be the guy you’d want investigating and if you were guilty of something you’d be hoping he wasn’t! That said, he has a strong team too and it was nice to read a book where it wasn’t just the lead detective who was worthy of glory.

As ever with Cara Hunter’s books there is a moral and social thread within this story and this made it all the more interesting for me. There are some disturbing elements and there is a lot to think about within this beautifully crafted story.

As great as this book was to read, I am utterly sure it would be fantastic televised – I can picture a lot of the scenes and really think the whole thing would make for a magic tv series.

Synopsis: A teenage girl is found wandering the outskirts of Oxford, dazed and distressed. The story she tells is terrifying. Grabbed off the street, a plastic bag pulled over her face, then driven to an isolated location where she was subjected to what sounds like an assault. Yet she refuses to press charges.

DI Fawley investigates, but there’s little he can do without the girl’s co-operation. Is she hiding something, and if so, what? And why does Fawley keep getting the feeling he’s seen a case like this before?

And then another girl disappears, and Adam no longer has a choice: he has to face up to his past. Because unless he does, this victim may not be coming back . . .

WHAT EVERYONE IS SAYING ABOUT CARA HUNTER
‘Your next riveting, twisty read’ Shari Lapena
‘A real gripper of a read’ Peter James
‘Fast paced and a fantastic cast of characters. Kept me guessing to the end – and I loved the final reveal’ Fiona Barton
‘Cancel everything. You’re not going anywhere until you finish reading this’ Emily Koch