Keep Her Quiet by Emma Curtis

Jenny has just given birth to the baby she’s always wanted. She’s never been this happy. Her husband, Leo, knows this baby girl can’t be his. He’s never felt so betrayed.

The same night, a vulnerable young woman, Hannah, wakes to find her newborn lifeless beside her. She’s crazed with grief. When chance throws Hannah into Leo’s path, they make a plan that will have shattering consequences for all of them.

Years later, a sixteen-year-old girl reads an article in a newspaper, and embarks on a journey to uncover the truth about herself. But what she learns will put everything she has ever known – and her own life – in grave danger. Because some people will go to desperate lengths to protect the secrets their lives are built on . . .

Keep Her Quiet

My Review

I absolutely loved this book and couldn’t wait to read the next stave (I was reading with The Pigeonhole online book club and received a new stave every day for ten days). So why only four stars on Amazon and Goodreads? I’ll try to explain without any spoilers.

Leo is a budding writer. Nothing will stand in the way of his ambition. His father wanted to be a writer but gave it up for family and ended up committing suicide. Leo is never going to let that happen. Jenny, luckily for him, has a high powered job which earns them enough for him to give up work and concentrate on his writing. So far so good. Well for Leo anyway. He’s a selfish so-and-so but this is just the beginning.

Jenny, however, desperately wants a baby. Fed up with Leo’s behaviour she has a one night stand while away on a conference. A few weeks later she realises she is pregnant. It must be Leo’s she thinks. It was only one stupid mistake. Naive or what? Unbeknown to Jenny, Leo has had a vasectomy and DIDN’T TELL HER. Alarm bells! Leo knows the baby is not his but doesn’t say a word.

Then along comes Hannah, pregnant at 17 by one of the Elders at her Church but no-one believes her. She is disgraced and thrown out by her family. She tries to manage but her baby dies and she is bereft. It is at this point that she meets Leo by chance and both their lives spin out of control. Fantastic premise, but the whole while I kept thinking this is all a bit far-fetched. Leo’s ‘punishment’ of Jenny, what Hannah does, the fact that Jenny still loves him and then what Leo does when he finds out about the child. No-one seems to think things through and I wanted to shake Jenny when Leo kept telling her that her baby is gone and she should move on. But then I guess we knew the truth and she didn’t. Well not in that sand she stuck her head under for 16 years.

An excellent read and many thanks to The Pigeonhole and my fellow Pigeons for making this such an enjoyable read.

About the Author

Emma Curtis was born in Brighton and brought up in London. Her fascination with the darker side of domestic life inspired her to write One Little Mistake, her first psychological suspense. She has two children and lives in Richmond with her husband.

Emma Curtis

Written in Blood by Chris Carter

A serial killer will stop at nothing…
His most valuable possession has been stolen. Now he must retrieve it, at any cost.

#WritteninBlood  @simonschusteruk  Facebook @carterchris
Instagram @chriscarterbooksofficial @AnneCater #RandomThingsTours

Written In Blood BT Poster

Angela Wood wanted to teach the man a lesson. It was a bag, just like all the others. But when she opens it, the worst nightmare of her life begins.

A journal ends up at Robert Hunter’s desk. It soon becomes clear that there is a serial killer on the loose. And if he can’t stop him in time, more people will die. If you have read it. You must die….

Los Angeles, December 4th – exactly three weeks until Christmas day.  Angela Wood, a master in the art of the pickpocket, has just finished for the day – six hundred and eighty-seven dollars – not bad for less than fifteen minutes work.
 
As she celebrates her profitable day with a cocktail, one of the patrons in the lounge she’s in catches her attention by being rude to an old man.  Angela decides to teach him a lesson, and steals the man’s expensive-looking leather bag.

Inside is no money … no laptop computer … nothing of any value … at least not to Angela. Just a black, leather-bound book, surprisingly heavy.  Curiosity takes over and in the comfort of her apartment, Angela quickly leafs through the pages.
 
That is when the worst nightmare of her life begins. This is no ordinary book. Read it at your own peril.

Written In Blood Cover

My Review

I wouldn’t normally give 5 stars to a police drama about a serial killer as there are so many out there, but this was better than most of the ones I have ever read. Up there with Silence of the Lambs and Seven, this is outstanding story telling and excitement, though as someone already said it’s ‘not for the squeamish’.

The action never stops. The police characters are well rounded and mostly likeable, especially Robert Hunter and his sidekick Carlos Garcia. And I adored the feisty pickpocket Angela with her put downs and one liners. She’s a badass with a softer side and a traumatic incident from her childhood that shapes everything she does.

The serial killer is maybe a little over-the-top but then so was Hannibal Lecter, and that didn’t stop him becoming the most famous serial killer of the eighties and nineties. ‘I ate his liver with some fava beans and a nice chianti‘ anyone?

The killer hears ‘voices’ that tell him what crimes to commit, who to pick as his victims (it’s all in his journal and sometimes the instructions are very specific – height, age, ethnicity etc) and Hunter and co need to work out exactly what these ‘voices’ mean. Also why the journal is so important. Is it just his record of the murder and torture of his victims or is it something more? Who is this person and why is he doing it? There always needs to be a good reason to make the story work. It’s not enough for him to be a nutcase.

Written in Blood is the work of an experienced and accomplished writer with a background in criminal psychology and this is evident in his work. It’s what makes the killer more realistic and terrifying. Have the team finally met their match? You’ll have to read it to find out.

Many thanks to @annecater for inviting me to be part of #RandomThingsTours

About the Author

Born in Brazil of Italian origin, Chris Carter studied psychology and criminal behaviour at the University of Michigan. As a member of the Michigan State District Attorney’s Criminal Psychology team, he interviewed and studied many criminals, including serial and multiple homicide offenders with life imprisonment convictions. He now lives in London. Visit his website www.chriscarterbooks.com

Chris Carter Author Pic

Her Last Words by Kim Kelly

Thisbe Chisholm wants to be a writer. It’s 2007, a time of digital revolution and skyrocketing property prices, but she’s an old-fashioned girl. She doesn’t even own a mobile phone. She has no stars-in-her-eyes desire for fame, to see her name on the cover of a book, either. She longs only to tell of the stories written on her heart.

While her best friends, Penny and Jane, and her darling boyfriend, John, seem set for stellar careers in their chosen fields, Thisbe works nights as a hostess at a glitzy harbourside Sydney club – a job she despises but it’s paid the rent for the last three years since university graduation.

Just as she completes her novel, though, she is brutally killed at the end of John’s street. Who murdered Thisbe? What will become of her novel?

From the gritty glamour of Bondi Beach to the cold streets of London, here is a tale of tragedy and literary betrayal, of a publishing industry grappling with change and a great love drowning in guilt-wracked grief. Haunting, whimsical and sharply observed, Her Last Words lays bare the truth that, while some crimes might go unpunished among the privileged, words themselves have a way of enduring – and exacting a justice all their own.

Her Last Words

My Review 

There is something very personal about Her Last Words. It feels as though the author has lived it and suffered it in some shape or form. Penny Katchinski, for instance is a Catholic Jew (as am I), and I don’t believe it’s incidental. I can’t imagine your hero would have that background unless you had a reason. I may be wrong of course, but it resonated with me in such a personal way.

Penny and Thisbe’s former partner – soap star actor John Jacobson – are inextricably linked, but John is still in love with Thisbe and cannot move on, and by default neither can Penny. They are trapped in a relationship that was never meant to be. Their love is based on a promise to take care of each other and neither can let go. John has spiralled into depression and cannot lift himself out. Something I am lucky enough never to have experienced, I initially missed how personal this part was to the author and will no doubt resonate with many of this beautiful book’s readers.

Over in the Bookish bookshop, Rich O’Driscoll finds a bag which contains a manuscript called Darling Boy together with other personal items, but he has no idea who any of it belongs to. He puts it away and forgets about it for seven years. We know whose bag it is of course, but that’s part of the unfolding story. The first time Rich meets Penny, she is distraught and hysterical but he falls in love with her there and then.

Back in Bondi John has had enough. Miserable and stuck in a rut, his acting career totally down the pan, he wants a way out. Thanks to a series of accidents he meets Dr Viviane Yu but is it all too late? I adore Viviane. She is clever and funny and eccentric but all in a good way.

In addition to our four main protagonists, we have a side plot. Aspiring author Jane Furlow first read Darling Boy when Thisbe was alive. She had an electronic copy. She said it was a ‘bit shit’ but then once Thisbe was out of the way she decided to publish it as her own work under the name of The Wakening Maid. Asking for trouble? Dear God Jane, your attempts at plagiarism are a ‘bit shit’ aren’t they? Did it never occur to you that there might be another copy floating around somewhere.

This book is so beautifully written and poetic and full of emotion, sadness, happiness, laughter and tears. I didn’t want it to end. The characters are wonderful (apart from Jane) though there are times you will want to scream at them and times you will want to lie next to them and offer comfort. They are so real. They have become like old friends and I shall miss them dreadfully.

Many thanks to The Pigeonhole and my fellow Pigeons for making this such an enjoyable read.

About the Author

Kim Kelly is the author of ten novels, including the acclaimed Wild Chicory and bestselling The Blue Mile. Her historical fictions are compelling and whimsical, and driven by strong characters of all kinds. With warmth and lyrical charm, she leads her readers into some rocky emotional and political terrain but each of her words shines with hope, wisdom, and occasionally a little magic. Her Last Words is her latest novel.

A widely respected book editor and literary consultant by trade, stories fill her everyday – most nights, too – and it’s love that fuels her intellectual engine. Love between lovers, friends, strangers; love of country; love of story. In fact, she takes love so seriously she once donated a kidney to her husband to prove it, and also to save his life.

Originally from Sydney, today Kim lives on a small rural property in central New South Wales just outside the tiny gold-rush village of Millthorpe, where the ghosts are mostly friendly and her grown sons regularly come home to graze.

Kim Kelly

The Cry of the Lake by Charlie Tyler

A gruesome discovery unravels a dark trail of murder and madness.

@CharlieTyler17 #CryOfTheLake  #RandomThingsTours @annecater @RandomTTours

Cry of the Lake BT Poster

A six-year-old girl sneaks out of bed to capture a mermaid but instead discovers a dead body. Terrified and unable to make sense of what she sees, she locks the vision deep inside her mind.

Ten years later, Lily is introduced to the charismatic Flo and they become best friends. But Lily is guilt-ridden – she is hiding a terrible secret which has the power to destroy both their lives.

When Flo’s father is accused of killing a schoolgirl, the horrors of Lily’s past come bubbling to the surface. Lily knows that, whatever the consequences, she has to make things right. She must go back to the events of her childhood and face what happened at the boat house all those years ago.

Can Lily and Flo discover what is hiding in the murky waters of the lake before the killer strikes again?

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My Review

This book is absolutely stunning. I can’t praise it enough. I have a feeling this will be in my Top Eight Books of 2020 Part Two. I read about 70% of the book in one sitting.

The story is intricately woven and at first I couldn’t quite work out what was going on, but then it just got better and better. The plot involves teenager Lily (who can’t speak or won’t speak) and her older sister Grace. Grace is out for revenge and we know the girls have taken on new identities, but what have they fled from and why.

The author uses a clever device to reveal the past by having the characters of Grace and Lily ‘remember’ certain occasions in order to reveal what happened. In fact the whole story alternates between the voices of Lily, Grace and Lily’s friend Flo.

The characters are so beautifully drawn – we know we can never feel sympathy for Grace, however bad her childhood had been. Everything about her is cold and murderous. She is one of the most chilling characters I have come across in a book.

I really don’t know how the author managed to keep track of all that was going on and tie up the loose ends so neatly.  My only question is….who got to keep Tiggy?

Many thanks to @annecater for inviting me to be part of #RandomThingsTours

About the author

Charlie has been writing for years but it was taking a creative writing course in 2018 which gave her the gentle kick she needed to finish her debut novel.

Charlie is very much a morning person and likes nothing more than committing a fictional murder before her first coffee of the day. She studied Theology at Worcester College, Oxford and now lives in a Leicestershire village with her husband, three teenagers and golden retriever.

Charlie Tyler

Family Business by Mark Eklid

Family historian Graham Hasselhoff thought there were no skeletons in his cupboard. That is, until the day he met the son he never knew he had.

@MarkEklid #FamilyBusiness #BlogTour #RandomThingsTours @AnneCater @RandomTTours

Family Business BT PosterGetting to know Andreas, who is now the boss of a road haulage firm, soon leads him to a trail of arson, beatings, mysterious warnings – and murder.

Can his son really be behind this deadly business? Graham has to quickly work out if Andreas is an impetuous eccentric – or a dangerously ruthless criminal.

Family Business Cover

My Review

When Graham discovers he has a son from a drunken liaison at University, he and his long-suffering wife Janet are drawn into a web of lies, crime and deceit that they had only ever read about in books or seen on TV.

Graham is a librarian, with a special interest in family history, until he is made redundant and forced to take the only job he can find – in a DIY store. He hates the job with a vengeance (that’s probably too strong a word for mild-mannered Graham) so when Andreas pays him a visit and announces that he is the son he never knew he had and offers to bring him and Janet into the family business, it’s an offer too good to refuse. It even comes with a free cottage. Unfortunately it also means leaving their beloved Derby behind and moving to Sheffield. Ever cautious, they keep the house in Derby until they are settled, in case it turns out to be a huge mistake. Well so would I, let’s face it. As they say ‘if it’s too good to be true, it probably is.’

Now our hero Graham is no adventurer, but he is a natural born historian and researcher, so I did question at this point why he and Andreas didn’t take a DNA test. After all, Andreas could have been anyone, though he has nothing to gain as he is rich and Graham and Janet are what you could only describe as fairly comfortably off.

On their first night in the cottage the police ram the door down, looking for someone they have never heard of and I’m afraid that from then on things just go from bad to worse. Poor Graham and Janet! If only they knew. You have to love them though (apart from Janet calling him Duck and Duckie). They are so nice. The kind of neighbours who would water your plants and feed the cat while you were on holiday. They are just not prepared for any of this.

I loved this book and read it in two sittings. I also found a lot of dark humour in places it was unexpected. It’s fabulously well written and totally original. Our hapless hero, his strong, steady wife, his not very likeable son, the Rottweiler (that’s the office manager by the way), and a host of other ghastly characters. And it’s all set in a haulage company – some of us old enough will remember The Brothers on TV in the seventies, probably the only series ever set in ‘logistics’ as I think they call it now. It was definitely of its time but I loved that show!

But this is very different. So put your feet up and enjoy a ride like no other.

Many thanks to @annecater for inviting me to be part of #RandomThingsTours

About the Author

“I am a career journalist, joining the South Yorkshire Times as a trainee reporter in 1984 and moving on three years later to the sports desk of the Derby Telegraph, where I have been ever since.

Most of that time in Derby has been as the newspaper’s cricket writer and my coverage of Derbyshire CCC earned national recognition in 2013, when I won the England and Wales Cricket Board Regional Newspaper of the Year award. I have been a contributor for the last nine years to the Wisden Cricketers’ Almanack and have had many articles published in national magazines, annuals and newspapers.

Writing as a profession meant writing for pleasure was largely left on the back burner but changed priorities at work made it a priority to pick up the threads of one of the many half-formed novels in my computer files and, this time, see it through to publication. Sunbeam is the result.”

Mark was born in Sheffield, the city he used as the backdrop for Sunbeam, and he has lived in Derby since 1988 with his partner, Sue. They have two sons. Family Business is his second novel.

Mark Elkid

Miss Benson’s Beetle by Rachel Joyce

“The differences between them – all those things she’d once found so infuriating – she now accepted. Being Enid’s friend meant there were always going to be surprises. However close they were it didn’t entitle her to Enid’s memories and neither did it allow her to be part of Enid’s life before they met. Being a friend meant accepting those unknowable things. It was by placing herself side by side with Enid that Margery had finally begun to see the true outline of herself. And she knew it now: Enid was her friend.”

Miss Benson's Beetle BT Poster

#MissBensonsBeetle @annecater #RandomThingsTours #RachelJoyce@GoldsboroBooks

It is 1950. In a devastating moment of clarity, Margery Benson abandons her dead-end job and advertises for an assistant to accompany her on an expedition. She is going to travel to the other side of the world to search for a beetle that may or may not exist.

Enid Pretty, in her unlikely pink travel suit, is not the companion Margery had in mind. And yet together they will be drawn into an adventure that will exceed every expectation. They will risk everything, break all the rules, and at the top of a red mountain, discover their best selves.

This is a story that is less about what can be found than the belief it might be found; it is an intoxicating adventure story but it is also about what it means to be a woman and a tender exploration of a friendship that defies all boundaries.

Miss Benson's Beetle Cover

My Review

I finished this book while in the car on the way to The Vyne (a National Trust place near Basingstoke) to see my 19-month old granddaughter Clara for the first time since February – and before you comment I wasn’t driving. Needless to say I was already feeling emotional.  By the end – of the book that is – I was in tears. The journey wasn’t that bad.

I have already decided that Miss Benson’s Beetle will be in my Top 8 books of 2020 Part Two. It is simply stunning. Unlike my usual feast of psychological thrillers and police procedurals, this book will make you laugh and cry in equal measures, though towards the end you will probably cry and cry like I did.

Margery Benson and Enid Pretty are two most unlikely travelling companions. They have nothing in common. In fact Margery really doesn’t want Enid – she doesn’t even like her –  but it’s all she has left after the other applicants for the job of entomologist’s assistant were a disaster. So now she is stuck with her.

Margery is middle-aged, staid to the point of uptight and with no experience of a true loving relationship. Enid, on the other hand, has had plenty. Relationships – though not always loving – apart from Perce. And she is young enough to be Margery’s daughter – just about. Enid irritates Margery no end with her silly pink travel suit, her yellow hair and her pom pom sandals. Then there are the numerous suitcases Enid brings with her. But mysterious of all is the red valise that she never lets out of her sight. It carries her past and her most treasured secrets, but these are none of Margery’s business.

This will turn out to be an adventure like no other. They will travel by ship to Australia, board a flying boat to New Caledonia and then embark on a treacherous overland journey to Poum in a stolen land rover. Then finally they will discover the ramshackle bungalow that will become their home until they find the mysterious gold beetle – that may or may not exist.  

The two women will argue and cry and hug and then argue again. They will bond and bicker and disagree until they find a common goal and then they will become the closest of friends on a journey of discovery that will unite them forever.  

This story will stay with me for a very long time. It’s warm and funny and sad and evokes every emotion you can think of. I loved it.

Many thanks to @annecater for letting me be part of #RandomThingsTours

About the Author

Rachel Joyce is the author of the Sunday Times and international bestsellers The Unlikely Pilgrimage of Harold Fry, Perfect, The Love Song of Miss Queenie Hennessy, The Music Shop and a collection of interlinked short stories, A Snow Garden & Other Stories. Her books have been translated into thirty -six languages and two are in development for film.

The Unlikely Pilgrimage of Harold Fry was shortlisted for the Commonwealth Book prize and longlisted for the Man Booker Prize. Rachel was awarded the Specsavers National Book Awards ‘New Writer of the Year’ in December 2012 and shortlisted for the ‘UK Author of the Year’ 2014. Rachel was a Costa prize judge and University Big Read author in 2019.

She has also written over twenty original afternoon plays and adaptations of the classics for BBC Radio 4, including all the Bronte novels. She moved to writing after a long career as an actor, performing leading roles for the RSC, the National Theatre and Cheek by Jowl. She lives with her family in Gloucestershire.

Rachel Joyce Author Pic

 

Cry Baby – A Tom Thorne Novel by Mark Billingham

In the summer of 1996, two boys run from a playground into the adjoining woods, but only one comes out. DS Tom Thorne takes on a case that quickly spirals out of control when two people connected with the missing boy are murdered. As London prepares to host the European Soccer Championships, Thorne fights to keep on top of a baffling investigation while also dealing with the ugly fallout of his broken marriage. A prequel to Billingham’s acclaimed debut Sleepyhead – which the Times voted “one of the 100 books that had shaped the decade” – this compelling novel highlights the case that shaped the career of one of British crime fiction’s most iconic characters.

#CryBaby @MarkBillingham #TomThorne

Cry Baby

My Review

I thought ‘here we go another police procedural’ and for the first third I was becoming a little frustrated. But as I know this author is one of the best crime writers around I persevered and it just got better and better. The excitement ratcheted up a notch or ten and it became more tense and exciting with every new chapter. So many new twists that I had no idea who had taken Kieron up to the very end. Maybe some readers cleverer than me guessed but there were too many red herrings for me to be sure. And there is also an insight into why, when looking at suspects, you shouldn’t always judge a book by its cover.

By the final third I couldn’t wait to get my hands on the next stave (reading with The Pigeonhole for those who don’t know – one stave a day) and by the final one I even considered waiting till one o’clock in the morning to find out what happened.

I didn’t though, but I woke just after six and ploughed straight in. Yet another twist I hadn’t seen coming (to use a favourite book blurb cliche). The last few chapters raced along until everything became clear.

I loved the main characters – our hero Tom Thorne of course, Phil Hendricks (my favourite) and Paula Kimmel and hated in equal measures Boyle, Billy, Angie ‘babe’ and Dean.

Many thanks to The Pigeonhole and my fellow Pigeons for making this such an enjoyable read.

About the Author

Mark Billingham was born and brought up in Birmingham. Having worked for some years as an actor and more recently as a TV writer and stand-up comedian his first crime novel was published in 2001. Mark lives in North London with his wife and two children.

MB

Deadly Vengeance by OMJ Ryan

Some people can never escape their past.

Deadly Vengeance (Detective Jane Phillips #3) by OMJ Ryan #DeadlyVengeance @OMJRYAN1 #InkubatorBooks @damppebbles #damppebblesblogtours

Deadly Vengeance banner

When the fifteen-year-old daughter of UK munitions dealer, Sir Richard Hawkins vanishes without a trace – the race is on to find her. But Sir Richard and his wife’s worst fears are realised when they receive a video of Hollie, tied to a chair, with a masked man holding a gun to her head.

The ransom demands are simple, pay four million pounds in cash – or they’ll never see their daughter again. DCI Jane Phillips is assigned to the case, and has no idea of who, or what she’s up against. But as the investigation unfolds, it becomes clear Hollie’s kidnapping was the work of a formidable gang – who operate in the shadows and will stop at nothing to get what they want.

As the pressure mounts, can Phillips and the team find Hollie before it’s too late? Or will this investigation signal not only the death of the Major Crimes Unit, but one of her beloved team, as well?

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My Review

The expression ‘fast-paced’ could have been created just for this book. Set in Manchester, it moves along at a cracking rate. The action never stops. I love the main characters – DCI Jane Phillips and her team DCs Jones, Bovalino and Entwistle. I know they have been together for years and it certainly feels like it. I haven’t read the previous novels in the series but it’s not necessary to do so in order to understand the relationships and history between them. Deadly Vengeance can be read as a standalone, though obviously we would know more about the characters’ back stories if we read the others first.

When Hollie Hawkins – the step-daughter of arms dealer Sir Richard Hawkins – is kidnapped, it becomes a race against time to find her before they carry out their threat to kill her. The kidnappers want four million pounds in cash and Sir Richard has exactly seven days to get the money. He’s a multi-millionaire so it’s pocket money to him, but will Hollie still be alive when they hand it over? And is this kidnapping far more complicated than it at first seems?

This is a perfect police procedural for fans of the genre – exciting, fast and furious. Lots of red herrings and in-depth investigations, lots of action and heart-stopping moments. Sir Richard is ghastly – every time he opens his mouth you know he cares more about the money than about Hollie. He name drops and throws his weight around and accuses everyone of being inadequate in their jobs. Jane’s boss Fox is also horrible as is Saxby from the Met who is brought in to advise on the kidnapping aspect of the investigation.

There is the usual banter between the ‘good cops’ as well as arguments and mud-slinging with the ‘bad cops’. It all adds to the interest. This would be a great TV series!

Many thanks to @damppebbles for inviting me to part of #damppebblesblogtours

About the Author

Hailing from Yorkshire, OMJ Ryan worked in radio and entertainment for over twenty years, collaborating with household names and accumulating a host of international writing and radio awards. In 2018 he followed his passion to become a full-time novelist, writing stories for people who devour exciting, fast-paced thrillers by the pool, on their commute – or those rare moments of downtime before bed. Owen’s mission is to entertain from the first page to the last.

Deadly Vengeance is the third Detective Jane Phillips book in the series and OMJ’s fourth book with Inkubator Books.

OMJ-Ryan-Bio-Pic-4

 

 

The Resident by David Jackson

Thomas Brogan is a serial killer, and he has nowhere left to hide. At least until he finds an abandoned house at the end of a terrace on a quiet street. And when he discovers that he can access three other houses through the attic space, the real fun begins. Because the one thing that Brogan enjoys even more than killing, is playing games with his victims. And his new neighbours have more than enough dark secrets to make this game his best one yet…

The Resident

My Review

This is a book about a serial killer – Thomas Brogan – on the run, who hides in the attics above four terraced houses, which can be accessed right across. The first house is empty and that is how he enters through the kitchen. House number two belongs to Elsie, an old lady who lost her son Alex in a tragic accident and whose only visitor is her carer, Kerry. House number three is occupied by Pam and Jack, who are constantly arguing, and a giant House of the Baskervilles. But it’s house number four that is the most exciting. Martyn and Collette live here and Collette is VERY attractive.

But Brogan isn’t just any old serial killer. He’s a sadistic, murderous, torturing ba*&^rd with an axe to grind (or a knife in this case). Brogan’s past is very unhappy and disturbed and he has committed some terrible crimes. So how can a book about a sadistic serial killer include humour? Well this one does. Very dark humour indeed. Even the burglar hitting Brogan with a frying pan (is this an homage to Bottom?) made me laugh.

I was reminded of the first episode of Luther series 3 in which the serial killer hides under the bed and watches the woman get undressed. He then gets the husband to look for the cat in the loft, kills him and pushes his head through the rafters. But at least he didn’t kill the cat and neither does Brogan. Well the dog in this case – Ralph next door who never seems to bark after the first ‘meeting’.

‘He knew it was Ralph.  “Ralph!” he said. At least that’s what it sounded like. Difficult to tell. It was more of a bark than a word. Which is only natural, seeing as it was coming from a dog.’

This book is like no other. It’s horrific and funny and terrifying all at the same time. Just the idea that someone is living in the loft is like one of those 1970s slasher movies where we scream ‘don’t go up there’ or ‘don’t open the cellar door’ but you know they will. It’s creepy and scary and not to be read when you are alone at night and definitely don’t open the hatch to the attic….you never know who might be hiding there.

Many thanks to The Pigeonhole, my fellow Pigeons and the author for making this such an enjoyable (if that’s the right word) read.

About the Author

From David himself: “I am the author of a series of crime thrillers featuring Irish-American NYPD Detective Callum Doyle. The first in the series, Pariah, was Highly Commended in the Crime Writers Association Debut Dagger Awards. It is published by Pan Macmillan. The follow-ups are The Helper and Marked, and I am hard at work on the fourth in the series. My writing influences include Ed McBain, Dennis Lehane, George Pelecanos, Robert Crais, Michael Connelly and Harlan Coben, amongst many others. My favourite quote about my work is one from the Guardian, now carried on the front of my novels: ‘Recalls Harlan Coben – though for my money Jackson is the better writer.'”

David Jackson

Purple People by Kate Bulpitt

A curious scheme is afoot in Blighty. Attempting to tackle spiralling levels of crime and anti-social behaviour, the government has a new solution: to dye offenders purple.

For once, even journalist Eve Baxter is shocked – she’s spent years gathering the world’s weird and wacky news, but has never seen anything as loopy as this. Learning of these shamed ‘bruises on society’, the nation is agog – and divided. There’s anger and agreement, protest and debate. Oh, green and pleasant and now purple land…

But still, there’s a mystery to be solved: just how do the transformations to Purpleness occur? Transfixed by clues and conspiracies, Eve wonders if this could be her route into real news. And when her friends and family are affected by the Purple scheme, she begins to investigate…

Purple People

My Review

This book is original, hilarious, wacky and current. I can see this being my choice for most original book of the second half of 2020 and it’s only July.

There are so many parallels with what’s going on at the moment as well as things from the past. The question is asked at one point whether getting it wrong from time to time is worth it because it’s the best deterrent possible. People used to say that about capital punishment – in fact for a lot of people I know that is why they are against it (not because it’s barbaric, medieval and inhumane). Then there are the human rights issues (groan from the anti-snowflakes), the lack of transparency (I’m talking government secrets not a semi-opaque shade of lavender), how it’s administered, who is doing it – the questions are endless. I keep thinking Boris and Brexit – let’s let the public decide (more groans this time from the Remainers).

As a ‘liberal snowflake Remoaner’ (my favourite Twitter insult) I hate the whole idea, but even for me there are times during the book when I think – well I won’t lose any sleep over HIM being ‘turned’.

These are the serious issues though. The humour in this book is so brilliant. The purple people are referred to as Lavs (a mash-up of lavender and chavs) and there are endless different versions of purple from plum and mauve to indigo and violet, with a good degree of alliteration thrown in. The banter between the characters is one of the best things about the book. It’s hilarious.

Then of course we have Eve our hero and main protagonist. Eve is my soul sister – always feeling like an under-achiever, not taking the bull by the horns because she is not brave enough. Taking the easy route and hating confrontation. But this is her chance to prove herself and she throws herself in, albeit more stumble than jump, but we love her nonetheless.

And there are lots of other characters that we love or hate – her horrible brother Simon,  her Lothario dad, her doormat mother, Simon’s friend Duncan, Adio, Womble, Helena, conspiracy theorist Bob, Annie and of course Magnus. We all had a bit of a crush on Magnus.

Many thanks to The Pigeonhole, my fellow Pigeons and to Kate for making this such an enjoyable read.

About the Author

Kate grew up in a small seaside town, and after spending her formative years writing stories – and being most strongly influenced by the unlikely combo of George Orwell, Victoria Wood and Smash Hits – went to university to study Writing and Publishing. She then spent over a decade working in film, mostly in New York (capers included being a casting gal on quite the cinematic smorgasbord: from Robert De Niro’s The Good Shepherd and Paul Greengrass’ United 93, to an assortment of romantic comedies, and Spiceworld, the Spice Girls movie). While in New York she also dabbled in stand up comedy. In 2011 she was part of the second Curtis Brown Creative novel-writing course, and recently a short story anthology written by that group, The Book of Unwritten Rules, was published. In addition to developing further novels, Kate is also writing a sitcom series. A seaside lass once more, Kate believes her achievements to include resistance to owning a smart phone, and being told that she has a`troubling addiction to parentheses’.

kate

 

Blood Red City by Rod Reynolds

A witness with no victim. A crime with no crime scene…

#BloodRedCity #BlogTour @Rod_WR @OrendaBooks

Blood Red City BT Poster

When crusading journalist Lydia Wright is sent a video of an apparent murder on a London train, she thinks she’s found the story to revive her career. But she can’t find a victim, much less the killers, and the only witness has disappeared. Wary she’s fallen for fake news, she begins to doubt her instincts – until a sinister call suggests that she’s not the only one interested in the crime.

Michael Stringer deals in information – and doesn’t care which side of the law he finds himself on. But the murder on the train has left him exposed, and now he’ll stop at nothing to discover what Lydia knows. When their paths collide, Lydia finds the story leads through a nightmare world, where money, power and politics intersect … and information is the only thing more dangerous than a bullet.

A nerve-shattering and brutally realistic thriller, Blood Red City bursts with energy and grit from the opening page, twisting and feinting to a superb, unexpected ending that will leave you breathless.

Blood Red City Jacket

My Review

Excellent read. Fast-paced, exciting with two brave protagonists who come together to find everyone is guilty and almost no-one can be trusted. But can they trust each other?

At times you will really have to concentrate to know what is going on. I had to re-read some pages to work out who is who and what is what. This is not my usual genre but I was certainly hooked from start to finish.

Lydia Wright works for a newspaper. While investigating some dodgy business dealings and having almost outed the perpetrator, she was stopped in her tracks. Now she is relegated to the night shift where she has to trawl social media and celebrity gossip pages to write about stuff she has no interest in. Then she is sent the video of the murder on the train and she is on the trail of the killer and back in the role of investigative journalist before you can say boo to a goose. And knowing Lydia, she will not let go until she uncovers the truth, which turns out to be far more intricate and contrived than she can possibly imagine.

I liked Lydia as a protagonist (she swears too much for my liking) but nowhere near as much as I liked Michael Stringer. At first he seems like a hired thug who deals in information, but you soon realise he has a conscience, especially where his sister and niece are concerned. And for some reason, he is drawn to Lydia and wants to protect her. Personally, I think he fancies her like mad, but that is never even hinted at.

Apart from having all his limbs intact and wearing much smarter clothes, I was reminded a little of Cormoran Strike in the Robert Galbraith novels. Enigmatic, complicated personal life, split from his wife, caring for his sister, often living out of a suitcase and always in trouble or annoying someone dangerous. But that’s where the similarity ends. And Stringer is skinny (like a string bean?) and with a less glamorous background.

When this comes to TV (and I’m sure it will) I can once again cast David Tennant in the lead role, but I’ll need to think carefully about Lydia. Anyone who has read my reviews know I love to cast the heroes and villains of the books I review for film or TV!

Many thanks to @annecater for inviting me to be part of #RandomThingsTours

About the author

Rod Reynolds is the author of four novels, including the Charlie Yates series. His 2015 debut, The Dark Inside, was longlisted for the CWA New Blood Dagger, and was followed by Black Night Falling (2016) and Cold Desert Sky (2018). The Guardian have called the books ‘Pitch-perfect American noir’. A lifelong Londoner, in 2020 Orenda Books will publish his first novel set in his hometown, Blood Red City. Rod previously worked in advertising as a media buyer and holds and MA in novel writing from City University London. Rod lives with his wife and family and spends most of his time trying to keep up with his two young daughters.

Rod Reynolds Author Pic

 

Top four advantages of reading on a Kindle

Don’t have a Kindle yet? Love reading paperbacks? Or even hardbacks? I know – you love the smell and feel of a real book. So do I, especially one signed by the author, but my top four advantages of reading on a Kindle might just change your mind.

kindle e-reader

Photo by Perfecto Capucine on Pexels.com

Here are my top four reasons for using a Kindle e-Reader:

  1. Portability. You can carry thousands of books in one go. No humping about loads of books when you travel and then leaving them behind because you bought more and have now gone over your weight limit (if travelling by plane). And you won’t break the strap on your expensive Radley messenger bag!
  2. Backlighting. Remember those funny little lights you could attach to the top of a paperback or the original Kindle so you could read in the dark? The Kindle Paperwhite has its own light source so you can literally read anywhere – even in pitch darkness. And you can adjust the light to wherever you are preventing eye strain.
  3. Font size. If like me you are as blind as a bat and avoid books with small print (or have to use a magnifying glass) then you can bump up the font size to whatever you like. You might end up with 25 words per page but at least you’ll be able to see them!!
  4. Discretion. You can read Fifty Shades of Grey on the train and NO-ONE will be any the wiser. If anyone asks you can say: ‘Just devouring Proust for my MA’. They’ll never know why you’re smirking. And you won’t have to cover your shady (no pun intended – well a little) novel in brown paper like we did with our school books (that probably dates me).

Convinced? Click here to purchase your Kindle or e-Reader

Disclaimer: Please note that if you click on the above link I am redirecting you to a product on Amazon. I don’t believe in misleading my blog readers in any way when it comes to affiliate marketing,