Blood Family by Graeme Hampton

4 Stars from me

I love meeting new police characters and I enjoyed following DI Matt Denning and DS Molly Fisher of the East London MIT in this second book of the series.

The books starts with a brutal and gruesome crime as a family home is set on fire and it doesn’t take long for fire investigators to discover the five bodies, three generations of the Galloway family, inside. I couldn’t hep but feel relieved that they had been shot first.

Denning and Fisher are a bit of an odd pairing and I plan to go back and read the first book in the series so that I can get to know them better. However, you learn a lot about them and their own dysfunctional families in Blood Family, with Matt Denning jugging his dedication to his career along with caring for his autistic son and Molly Fisher struggling with brother.

There seemed to be a different dynamic here than in other police procedurals that I have read recently and it made the book all the more engaging as Molly is actively encouraged to take risks and more cautious Denning plods doggedly onwards to solve the crime and catch the murderer.

The aspect of dysfunction and no such thing as a normal family is a strong message and not a bad one to promote.

Blood Family is a enjoyable read and I will look out for more in the series. My thanks to Graeme Hampton and BOTBSPublicity for letting me take part in this blog tour.

Synopsis: When D.I. Matthew Denning is called in to investigate a house fire in a North London street, he never anticipated the horrors that awaited him. As Denning and D.S. Molly Fisher search the wreckage, the bodies of the Galloway family – Brian and Ellie, son Simon, daughter Amber and 9-year-old grandson Caleb – are discovered in the smouldering house.

All evidence points to a tragic accident… until Matthew and Molly discover that the family was dead before the fire, murdered in their home by a faceless psychopath. What started as a routine investigation swiftly turns into a murder investigation, with Denning and Fisher hunting a killer who has wiped out three generations with a shotgun.

But as the case deepens, Denning and Fisher discover that the Galloways were no ordinary family. Like all families, they harbour secrets – but unlike others, their secrets were so deadly, someone is willing to spill blood to keep them hidden…

An utterly gripping detective novel set in London, Blood Family will thrill fans of Angela Marsons, Mark Billingham and Robert Bryndza.

Hold Your Tongue by Deborah Masson

4 Stars from me

I love stumbling across the beginning of a new series and so was delighted to read Hold Your Tongue featuring DI Eve Hunter. Set in Aberdeen, this is a gruesome crime thriller and it very literally made me cringe in a few places. It’s so hard not to imagine the awfulness of someone sawing away at your tongue with a breadknife!

DI Hunter was an interesting character with a boot-load of baggage, making her a perfect police lead for this style of book.

Her team were a mix of deeply loyal and deeply suspicious – again perfect for the genre. There is a history behind the suspicion and the resentment from some members of her team and this is revealed throughout the story.

Overall, this is a satisfying crime thriller with nice mix of human interest and gore and enough intrigue to hold your attention while you work out ‘whodunnit’.

I look forward to reading more by Deborah Masson and I am hopefully that future books will delve deeper into the Cold Granite of Aberdeen and immerse us in even darker and more uncomfortable crimes.

Synopsis:

A brutal murder.
A young woman’s body is discovered with horrifying injuries, a recent newspaper cutting pinned to her clothing.
A detective with everything to prove.
This is her only chance to redeem herself.
A serial killer with nothing to lose.
He’s waited years, and his reign of terror has only just begun…

Introducing DI Eve Hunter, HOLD YOUR TONGUE is your new obsession.

Three Hours by Rosamund Lupton

5 Stars from me

Oh my god – this book, this book, this book!

#ThreeHoursNovel by Rosamund Lupton is absolutely breathtaking. I really can’t recommend this book enough. Every page is powerful and beautifully crafted and I read most of the story with my breath held and my heart in my mouth.

The emotions within the book are captured perfectly and I was taken through the whole gambit from joy to fear to heartbreak and back again.

My heart broke for the poor mum who was waiting for news of her son, her emotions were tangible, palpable and I lived them with her. The emotive feelings from this stayed with me for days after I had finished the book.

The breaking of the story via Twitter and YouTube was cleverly delivered and again utterly believable and compelling.

Without wishing to give the story away or drop any spoilers, the brain washing and manipulation was terrifying and heart breaking again in equal measure.

However, among the horror and awfulness of the hatred and intolerance a bright light of love and warm shone out. The spirit and strength of the school staff, the resilience and protectiveness of the students, the faith in each other was beautiful.

I had high hopes owing to the sheer brilliance of Sister and can definitively confirm that I was not disappointed. Three Hours is a must read of 2020 and I am truly honoured to be kicking off the blog tour for Penguin Books.

Synopsis: The extraordinary new novel everyone is talking about from the Sunday Times best-selling author of Sister

Three hours is 180 minutes or 10,800 seconds.

It is a morning’s lessons, a dress rehearsal of Macbeth, a snowy trek through the woods.

It is an eternity waiting for news. Or a countdown to something terrible.

It is 180 minutes to discover who you will die for and what men will kill for.

In rural Somerset in the middle of a blizzard, the unthinkable happens: a school is under siege. Told from the point of view of the people at the heart of it, from the wounded headmaster in the library, unable to help his trapped pupils and staff, to teenage Hannah in love for the first time, to the parents gathering desperate for news, to the 16 year old Syrian refugee trying to rescue his little brother, to the police psychologist who must identify the gunmen, to the students taking refuge in the school theatre, all experience the most intense hours of their lives, where evil and terror are met by courage, love and redemption.

My Dark Vanessa by Kate Elizabeth Russell

3 Stars from me

Yes, 3, unpopular opinion I know. I do feel conflicted over this as it is not owing to the quality of the writing which, for the record, is excellent.

For me, My Dark Vanessa should have ended at about the 55% mark. Even up to this point I found the book a little laborious but I distinctly recall looking up to see how much of the book was left as I couldn’t believe it hadn’t ended, and it then being 58%. I truly felt the book had reached it’s natural conclusion. (I did go on to finish the book but felt it really dragged after that point.)

The subject matter isn’t great but that’s not to say it wasn’t a good story and an important story. This level of grooming and abuse goes on far too frequently and it is important that attention is drawn to the issue so that people can stop turning a blind eye out of misplaced politeness. However, having said that the books goes to great lengths to stress that both Stane and Vanessa see it more as a love story which, for me, muddies the waters massively on this being a positive message.

I would very much read something else by the same author as the depth and quality of the writing really was great, the characters were all credible and scenes and places were are well described.

Synopsis:

An era-defining novel about the relationship between a fifteen-year-old girl and her teacher

ALL HE DID WAS FALL IN LOVE WITH ME AND THE WORLD TURNED HIM INTO A MONSTER

Vanessa Wye was fifteen years old when she first had sex with her English teacher.

She is now thirty-two and in the storm of allegations against powerful men in 2017, the teacher, Jacob Strane, has just been accused of sexual abuse by another former student.

Vanessa is horrified by this news, because she is quite certain that the relationship she had with Strane wasn’t abuse. It was love. She’s sure of that.

Forced to rethink her past, to revisit everything that happened, Vanessa has to redefine the great love story of her life – her great sexual awakening – as rape. Now she must deal with the possibility that she might be a victim, and just one of many.

Nuanced, uncomfortable, bold and powerful, and as riveting as it is disturbing, My Dark Vanessa goes straight to the heart of some of the most complex issues our age is grappling with.

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 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/

Instagram:
https://www.instagram.com/mullinsauthor/

Facebook:
https://www.facebook.com/LouiseMullinsAuthor/

Twitter:
https://twitter.com/MullinsAuthor

Who Did You Tell by Lesley Kara

4 Stars from me

This book is in part a fascinating peek into the world of the AA, the meetings, the ‘Big Book, the ‘twelve steps’, and the sheer risk and trust you are forced to have with a room full of strangers. I really enjoyed this part of the story and found it – and Astrid’s struggle not to drink – really interesting.

I read Who Did You Tell in a day and found it hard to put the book down as I struggled to work out who was stalking Astrid and why, who she could trust and whether her relationship with Josh was going to work as she tried her best to leave the past behind.

The small town vibe was hilarious, I loved all the nosy neighbours and busybodies.

And, who isn’t in love with Josh? What a sweetie.

Synopsis: It’s been 192 days, seven hours and fifteen minutes since her last drink. Now Astrid is trying to turn her life around.

Having reluctantly moved back in with her mother, in a quiet seaside town away from the temptations and painful memories of her life before, Astrid is focusing on her recovery. She’s going to meetings. Confessing her misdeeds. Making amends to those she’s wronged.

But someone knows exactly what Astrid is running from. And they won’t stop until she learns that some mistakes can’t be corrected.

Some mistakes, you have to pay for…

The Silent House by Nell Pattison

4 Stars from me

Such a clever story! I found myself truly quite fascinated by the introduction to the deaf community within this book – the deaf club, the signing during arguments (selfishly something I’ve never thought about before, but when we argue we shout over each other while walking away, stomping around, from different rooms etc but deaf people would have to have self restraint in order to keep watching and signing while arguing).

Paige and her sister were great characters, there was something quite sweet and naive about them and the way they set about trying to find the killer.

The elements of peril when Paige felt under threat were great and really unnerving. There were so many scenes were I was willing her not to do what she was doing! I devoured this book and just had to keep reading to see what happened next and ultimately which of these characters could murder a sweet child in cold blood.

The scenes with her love interests were fab too, again really quite sweet and I was routing for the policeman!

Overall, Nell Pattison, has created a clever little whodunnit style police procedural with the added dimension of a huge number of the characters and potential suspects/victims being deaf. I really enjoyed it.

Synopsis: If someone was in your house, you’d know. Wouldn’t you? But the Hunter family are deaf, and don’t hear a thing when a shocking crime takes place in the middle of the night. Instead, they wake up to their worst nightmare.

The police call Paige Northwood to the scene to interpret for the witnesses. They’re in shock, but Paige senses the Hunters are hiding something.

One by one, people Paige knows from the Deaf community start to fall under suspicion. But who would kill a little girl?

Was it an intruder?

Or was the murderer closer to home?

This mystery will keep you up all night – perfect for fans of The Silent Patient and Cara Hunter