A Noise Downstairs by Linwood Barclay

5 Stars from me

So good, so good, so good, so good!

Another masterpiece from Linwood Barlcay, A Noise Downstairs is a fine example of the Hitchcockesque style that I absolutely raced through it and loved every moment.

Haunted typewriter – check
Average Joe murderer – check
Plot holes you can drive a truck thru – check
Accidental hero – check
Crazy old guy – check
Inappropriate psychiatrist – check
Infidelity – check
Red herrings – check
Dysfunctional families – check

It’s all there, I mean come on what more do you want from a fabulous, kitsch, creepy little thriller?

I think Never Saw It Coming will forever remain my favourite Linwood Barclay novel but this one is coming a pretty close second.

Synopsis: The New York Times bestselling author of No Time for Goodbye returns with a haunting psychological thriller that blends the twists and turns of Gillian Flynn with the driving suspense of Harlan Coben, in which a man is troubled by odd sounds for which there is no rational explanation.

College professor Paul Davis is a normal guy with a normal life. Until, driving along a deserted road late one night, he surprises a murderer disposing of a couple of bodies. That’s when Paul’s “normal” existence is turned upside down. After nearly losing his own life in that encounter, he finds himself battling PTSD, depression, and severe problems at work. His wife, Charlotte, desperate to cheer him up, brings home a vintage typewriter—complete with ink ribbons and heavy round keys—to encourage him to get started on that novel he’s always intended to write.

However, the typewriter itself is a problem. Paul swears it’s possessed and types by itself at night. But only Paul can hear the noise coming from downstairs; Charlotte doesn’t hear a thing. And she worries he’s going off the rails.

Paul believes the typewriter is somehow connected to the murderer he discovered nearly a year ago. The killer had made his victims type apologies to him before ending their lives. Has another sick twist of fate entwined his life with the killer—could this be the same machine? Increasingly tormented but determined to discover the truth and confront his nightmare, Paul begins investigating the deaths himself.

But that may not be the best thing to do. Maybe Paul should just take the typewriter back to where his wife found it. Maybe he should stop asking questions and simply walk away while he can…

Joining Blogging Book Tours – pros and cons

2019 has proved to be a wonderful year for me from a book blogging perspective. I have read some incredible books (I’ve read 72 according to Good Reads but I know it is a few more than that!).

I have always been a keen and regular reader – escapism at it’s finest!

During 2019 I’ve really embraced taking part in blog tours for books and I’ve hugely enjoyed it, it feels really good to be tiny part of the publicity and promotion for an author and to feel like I might in some small way have contributed to their sales 🙂

At this point, I would like to offer very genuine and heartfelt thanks to those who have welcomed me into their reviewers fold:

Damp Pebbles Blog Tours – got to start with Emma and Damp Pebbles as this was the first blog tour I joined and I have read some fabulous books thanks to Emma and the excellent service she offers to authors and reviewers.

Tony Marturano – next I move to Tony who introduced me to the fascinating and hugely exciting world of being invited to join a readers panel with a view to being an early reader to provide honest feedback intended help shape the editing process prior to publication. I was honoured to be able to this for Tony with his own books and also with Eye for Eye by J K Franko.

Book on the Bright Side Publicity – then there is the lovely Sarah from BOTBS who again I have taken part in some brilliant tours with and is super lovely to deal with too.

R&R Book Tours – now the lovely Shannon from R&R tours… Not only do I get to discover new books with her but she sends me MAGIC content that is all whizzy and HTML codey wizardry!

Random Things Tours – the most recent sign up for me is with the lovely Anne from Random Things Tours. Anne is great to deal with and super organised – thanks again for letting me take part.

Last but by no means least, I have also done a couple of reviews with Mirror Books and have a couple more lined up for the New Year. They are also great to work with and have some really exciting publications.

Also a nod to NetGalley, I absolutely love NetGalley!

So again, huge thanks to you all.

Now to Pros and Cons

I’ll start with cons as then they are out of the way. It can, at times, feel pressured. It can, sometimes, feel as though you are reading to meet a deadline rather than reading for enjoyment. There will be times when you don’t like the book. You will need to be clear and strong with your own opinions – without damaging the tour. You will need to be organised and meet the commitments you have made in terms of reviews – people are relying on you to publish on the right date. Never ever do it for the ‘free’ books, they aren’t free, think about the cost of your time!

Phew, now, on to the pros! So many positive aspects here, you get to read some amazing books – for me personally I’ve read books that I would probably not have ever encountered and a lot of them have been brilliant! You get to make connections with other people who love books 🙂 it’s a beautiful thing giving someone a book recommendation and then getting a tweet in a couple of weeks time to say they loved it. Reading an advance copy of a book for a nerd like me is exquisite! And, for me, the best thing is knowing that I’ve helped an author or made them smile when I can honestly say ‘I loved your book’.

So thank you all once again and I look forward to reading and reviewing many more fabulous books in 2020.

Lisa x

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

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…

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

Seven Days by Alex Lake

5 Stars from me

Wow, Seven Days is deeply disturbing and emotive read about a typical young girl who is snatched by a local predator and kept captive in his basement for years and years. He repeatedly rapes her resulting in three children and it is the third one who forms the focus of our story as she becomes determined not to let him die.

I couldn’t help but draw parallels with Room and I wonder if one inspired the other?

The whole family backstory was beautifully orchestrated and I really enjoyed the thought and creativity that went into the construction of their lives.

Seven Days is a brilliantly clever book and a captivating read, I had genuine trouble putting it down. Much like other books I have read by Alex Lake it is emotive, interesting and cleverly put together. Very much recommended.

 

 

Synopsis: The twisty new psychological thriller from the Sunday Times bestselling author

A race against time to save her child…

In seven days, Maggie’s son, Seb, turns three. But she’s not planning a party or buying presents or updating his baby book. She’s dreading it. Because in her world, third birthdays are the days on which the unthinkable happens… she loses her child.

For the last twelve years Maggie has been imprisoned in a basement. Abducted aged fifteen, she gave birth to two sons before Seb, and on their third birthdays her captor came and took them from her.

She cannot let it happen again. But she has no idea how to stop it. And the clock is ticking…

I Will Make You Pay by Teresa Driscoll

5 Stars from me!

Oh that poor little boy, that ‘brave little soldier’ on his own while his Nan goes out to work. Oh my heart broke for him and I just wished they’d asked the teacher, or found a nice neighbour to help out. I found that whole bit of the story utterly heart-wrenching – very emotive and powerful. I know it’s just words on a page but I still feel so sad for him!

I liked Alice, although blimey some people just attract bad luck don’t they! I thought Matthew was a great character and definitely someone I would like looking after me in a similar situation!

I thought all the characters were very well defined and I enjoyed all the different threads within the story – Alice’s own family dynamics with her mum and her sister were a sweet interlude among all the fear.

As for the fear, it was great, really palpable and effective – had I have read this book alone at night I am pretty sure there were many sections where I would have slept with the lights on 🙂

Teresa Driscoll has done a great job with I Will Make You Pay, I thoroughly enjoyed it.

Synopsis: Every Wednesday, like clockwork, the terror returns.

It seems like an ordinary Wednesday, until the phone rings. A mysterious caller with a chilling threat. Journalist Alice Henderson hangs up, ready to dismiss it as a hoax against the newspaper. But the next Wednesday, the stalker makes another move—and it becomes clear that this is all about Alice.

Someone wants her to suffer, but for what? Her articles have made her a popular local champion—could it be her past rather than her work that’s put her life in danger? Alice is determined not to give in to fear, but with the police investigation at a dead end, her boyfriend insists on hiring private investigator Matthew Hill.

With every passing Wednesday the warnings escalate, until it’s not only Alice but also her family in the stalker’s sights. As her tormentor closes in, can Alice uncover what she’s being punished for before the terrifying threats become an unthinkable reality?