The Girl In The Photo by Heidi Amsinck (A Jensen Thriller #2)

Not all little old ladies are so innocent …

When ninety-year-old Irene Valborg is found brutally murdered in an affluent suburb of Copenhagen, her diamond necklace missing, it looks like a burglary gone wrong. When two more victims are attacked, the police lament a rise in violence against the elderly, but who is the young girl in the photo found by DI Henrik Jungersen on the scenes of crime?

Impatient to claim her inheritance, Irene’s daughter hires former Dagbladet reporter Jensen and her teenage apprentice Gustav to find the necklace. Questioning his own sanity, while trying to fix his marriage, Henrik finds himself once more pitched in a quest for the truth against Jensen – the one woman in Copenhagen he is desperate to avoid.

My Review

It all starts with the brutal murder of a little old lady in her mansion in an affluent district of Copenhagen. Bashed over the head with an ornamental elephant. Her Alsatian, Samson, is tied up in the garden and her house is like a fortress. So how did the killer get in and why is the dog well-fed and watered?

Just the first in a series of murders, two more elderly people – one on his allotment, the other in a nursing home. But how are they connected, or are they? A photo was left near the victims, though not in full view. Is it the same girl in the photos and what does it have to do with the murders?

This is the second novel in the Jensen Thriller series and it gets better and better. Jensen is almost as annoying as she was in the first book, though I liked her a lot more this time. DI Henrik Jungersen is still a slob, loud, rude and a bit of a creep where women are concerned. Following his affair with Jensen in book one, his wife has thrown him out and he is living at the office. I don’t know what Jensen ever saw in him.

But fellow Pigeon’s favourite character is still seventeen-year-old Gustav, all gangly legs and insatiable appetite. Typical teenager then. But he has a dark secret (he was expelled from school because of it) and no-one is talking. Jensen, with her investigative journalist’s hat on, is determined to find out.

However, there is so much more to this story. Another couple of threads run through it, which are no doubt setting up book three. I can’t wait!

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

About the Author

Heidi Amsinck, a writer and journalist born in Copenhagen, spent many years covering Britain for the Danish press, including a spell as London Correspondent for the broadsheet daily Jyllands-Posten. She has written numerous short stories for radio, including the three-story sets Danish Noir, Copenhagen Confidential and Copenhagen Curios, all produced by Sweet Talk for BBC Radio 4. A graduate of the MA in Creative Writing at Birkbeck, University of London, Heidi lives in London. She was previously shortlisted for the VS Pritchett Memorial Prize. Last Train to Helsingør is her first published collection of stories. Her crime novel My Name is Jensen, set in Copenhagen, was published in August 2021. The Girl In The Photo is the second in the series.

Hide and Seek by Andrea Mara

The game of hide and seek is over, everyone has gone home, but little Lily Murphy hasn’t been found. Her parents search the woods and tell themselves that the worst hasn’t happened – but deep down they know this peaceful Dublin suburb will never be the same again.

#HideAndSeek @AndreaMaraBooks @TransworldBooks #RandomThingsTours @annecater @RandomTTours #blogtour

COUNT TO TEN

Years later, Joanna moves into a new house. It seems perfect in every way, until she learns that this was once Lily Murphy’s home. From that moment onwards, a sense of dread seems to follow her from room to room.

AND WHEN YOU OPEN THEM, YOUR CHILD IS GONE

As Joanna unravels the secrets at the heart of this close-knit community, her own dark past begins to resurface. Because she thinks she knows what really happened to Lily – and if the truth gets out, it might be her undoing…

My Review

Wow what a fantastic book this was! So many theories, so many red herrings and so many twists. Reading with The Pigeonhole we had numerous ideas, most of them totally wrong.

Hide and Seek is set in two timelines. The first one is ‘now’ or 2018, when Joanna moves into her new ‘forever’ home with husband Mark and their three children. It’s in the same suburb – Rowanbrook – where Mark lived as a child and his parents Tom and Susie still reside.

The second timeline goes back to the summer of 1985 when three-year-old Lily Murphy went missing. Did she drown in the nearby stream or was she taken? Her body was never found. I could not have guessed the outcome in a million years. It was a thrilling discovery, so unexpected. With a couple of further twists thrown in at the end for good measure.

But the first twist is that the house that Joanna and Mark have just moved into is the one where the Murphys lived when Lily disappeared. No-one told Joanna and she is unsurprisingly unsettled. Did Mark know? He must have done. So she starts digging.

But does anyone in Rowanbrook know what really happened that summer? Are they keeping secrets? Joanna keeps plenty of secrets of her own, even from her husband. But she can never tell, because the truth is too enormous, too ghastly and too damning to ever come out.

There are so many people who could have been involved at the time, but were they? Because half of them seem to have their own dirty little secrets, including numerous affairs, that have nothing whatsoever to do with Lily Murphy. But as we all know in great fiction, the truth must all come out in the end. And when it does it’s mind-blowing.

Many thanks to @annecater for inviting me to be part of #RandomThingsTours and to The Pigeonhole, and my fellow Pigeons for making this such an enjoyable read.

About the Author

Andrea Mara is a Sunday Times and Irish Times top ten bestselling author, and has been shortlisted for a number of awards, including Irish Crime

Novel of the Year. She lives in Dublin, Ireland, with her husband and three young children, and also runs multi-award-winning parent and lifestyle blog, OfficeMum.ie. All Her Fault was her first thriller to be published in the UK and internationally and was a Sunday Times bestseller.

The Retreat by Sarah Pearse

Most are here to recharge and refresh. But someone’s here for revenge. . .

An eco-wellness retreat has opened on an island off the English coast, promising rest and relaxation—but the island itself, known locally as Reaper’s Rock, has a dark past. Once the playground of a serial killer, it’s rumoured to be cursed.

#TheRetreat @SarahVPearse #RandomThingsTours @annecater @RandomTTours #blogtour

Detective Elin Warner is called to the retreat when a young woman’s body is found on the rocks below the yoga pavilion in what seems to be a tragic fall. But the victim wasn’t a guest—she wasn’t meant to be on the island at all.

When a guest drowns in a diving incident the following day, Elin starts to suspect that there’s nothing accidental about these deaths. But why would someone target the guests, and who else is in danger?

Elin must find the killer—before the island’s history starts to repeat itself . .

My Review

My second book by this author, the first being The Sanatorium, and I really loved it. Same main protagonist Detective Elin Warner, plus her boyfriend Will, who I am not so keen on (when you read the book you may understand why) and a brief reference to her brother Isaac, who was in the previous book.

I loved The Sanatorium, but I think The Retreat shows a maturity in the author’s writing which I am sure will continue to improve with every book. I was particularly impressed with the action scenes involving Elin, as I can imagine they are hard to write, but she pulls it off perfectly.

Once again we are at a posh ‘retreat’ – in The Sanatorium it was a minimalist hotel, an imposing, isolated getaway spot called Le Sommet high up in the Swiss Alps, while this time it’s an eco-wellness island getaway, where people come to recharge and refresh. Or to get murdered.

Unfathomably Le Sommet was built on the site of an old TB hospital (we had some great discussions amongst my book club readers about old sanatoriums). Even stranger is that the retreat named LUMEN, has been built on an island famous for a weird school for misfit boys in the sixties AND the site of a murder spree many years later, in which a group of teenagers were stabbed whilst on an outward bound adventure. Superstition has it that the famous Reaper’s Rock, which looms over the island, is the cause of the evil that lives there. Then the bodies start piling up and we know we are going to be in for an exciting ride.

This was so good and I kept having to read on to find out what happens next. And that twist at the end – genius.

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

About the Author

Sarah Pearse lives by the sea in South Devon with her husband and two daughters. She studied English and Creative Writing at the University of Warwick and worked in Brand PR for a variety of household brands. After moving to Switzerland in her twenties, she spent every spare moment exploring the mountains and the Swiss Alpine town of Crans Montana, the dramatic setting that inspired her novel.

Sarah has always been drawn to the dark and creepy – remote spaces and abandoned places – so when she read an article in a local Swiss magazine about the history of sanatoriums in the area, she knew she’d found the spark of the idea for her debut novel, The Sanatorium. Her short fiction has been published in a wide variety of magazines and has been shortlisted for several prizes.

You can find Sarah on Twitter @SarahVPearse and Instagram @sarahpearseauthor 

The Wilderness by Sarah Duguid

Once it was a family home. Now they are all at sea . . .

When Anna and David receive a phone call late one evening, their lives are upturned. Within minutes, they are travelling to the west coast of Scotland, preparing to care for two young sisters, tragically and suddenly orphaned.

#TheWilderness @SarahDuguid4 @TinderPress #RandomThingsTours @annecater @RandomTTours #blogtour

It’s a beautiful place, the heather is in bloom, the birds wheel above the waves, the deer graze peacefully in the distance. But the large granite house is no longer a home for the girls, and Anna knows she can never take the place of their mother. Then David invites his friend to stay, to ‘ease them through’ and Anna finds herself increasingly isolated, with everything she – and the girls – once knew of life discarded and overruled by a man of whom she is deeply suspicious.

My Review

Very unlike the books I normally read, The Wilderness is not a thriller or a book in which things ‘happen’. It’s about what is and what was and what can no longer be. And how to move forward. It’s about grief and loss and finding oneself, not just for the children, but also for David and Anna and their friend Brendan.

I must say that I didn’t much like Brendan. His way of handling grief at times seemed inappropriate for such young girls, too hands-on and as they described him – creepy. Also too self-focussed – it should never have been about him. If he were their counsellor for real, his feelings would not have come into it.

But back to the story. Young teenagers, Isabella and Sasha, have tragically lost their parents, Peter and Rachel, in a car accident and are now orphans. Peter’s brother David and his wife Anna were named as the legal guardians of the girls in case of such an event, but neither ever expected it to happen. Anna is resentful – their two sons have grown up and left home and they have found a kind of freedom and independence of sorts. But Anna will cope, here in their lovely home in London. She always copes in her boring, housewifey way.

So it’s a shock when David decides to take a three month sabbatical and moves them up to the Scottish Highlands, to ease the girls into their new life, but staying put in their falling-down home on a remote island. It’s wet and freezing and Anna is constantly unhappy. And she misses her friend Avery and her cat.

Then Brendan arrives, having decided he can ‘fix’ them with his own unconventional version of psychotherapy. They will be born again. But he has an agenda and Anna is deeply suspicious.

It’s a very sad book at times, because nothing can change what has happened. Can there be a future for all of them and will it be a happy one?

Many thanks to @annecater for inviting me to be part of #RandomThingsTours and to NetGalley for an ARC.

About the Author

Sarah Duguid grew up on a farm in North Lincolnshire and now lives in London. Her stunning debut Look At Me was published in 2016. The Wilderness is her second novel.

The Cliff House by Chris Brookmyre

One hen weekend, seven secrets… but only one worth killing for. Jen’s hen party is going to be out of control…

She’s rented a luxury getaway on its own private island. The helicopter won’t be back for seventy-two hours. They are alone. They think.

As well as Jen, there’s the pop diva and the estranged ex-bandmate, the tennis pro and the fashion guru, the embittered ex-sister-in-law and the mouthy future sister-in-law.

It’s a combustible cocktail, one that takes little time to ignite, and in the midst of the drunken chaos, one of them disappears. Then a message tells them that unless someone confesses her terrible secret to the others, their missing friend will be killed.

Problem is, everybody has a secret. And nobody wants to tell.

My Review

I’ve never read a Chris Brookmyre novel before, apart from the Ambrose Parry series, so I had no idea what to expect. Seven women on a hen weekend on a remote island in the Scottish Highlands. Seven more mature women, so this isn’t about silly costumes, blingy tiaras, too many shots and falling over drunk in the streets of Benidorm (or whatever young women do on hen nights these days).

Most of them go back years, some have fallen out and one or two have never met before. Jen is the one getting married. It’s her second time, the first time was to Jason, missing and declared dead, whose sister Beattie has come on the hen do. Why? None of us in our book club understood why Jen invited her, especially since Jen’s relationship with Jason was toxic (more so than we initially realise) and her soon-to-be-new sister-in-law Samira is also coming.

Jen is going to marry Zaki, but has never met his sister Samira until this weekend. Samira is a bit loud and outspoken, but that’s maybe because she’s been stuck at home with twin babies for the past six months and couldn’t wait to get away.

Michelle is a pop superstar, but fell out with childhood friend Helena when she ditched her for a record contract. I can’t remember how they know Nicolette, another childhood friend I think, but suffice to say, she’s super-glam, all TOWIE, boobs and pouty lips. She does something important at fashion house Reiss. Kennedy is the twenty-something tennis coach they met at the leisure club and have only known for a few months.

Throw Lauren into the mix – she owns the retreat and has pissed off quite a few people financially – and we have an explosive cocktail, even more so than the ones they are all drinking. Then one of them is kidnapped and all hell breaks loose. And we all know that hell hath no fury like seven drunk angry women on a hen night. With secrets and personal grudges to bear. What could go wrong?

I was never quite sure whether some parts were supposed to be funny, but I frequently laughed out loud at the improbability of it all. Jolly good fun and towards the end I believed some of it was tongue-in-cheek.

It’s probably an age thing but I certainly learnt some new vocabulary in The Cliff House. Words like ‘retconning’ which I’d never come across before. Or tabula rasa anyone? Look it up!

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

About the Author

Chris Brookmyre was a journalist before becoming a full-time novelist with the publication of his award-winning debut Quite Ugly One Morning, which established him as one of Britain’s leading crime writers. His 2016 novel Black Widow won both the McIlvanney Prize and the Theakston Old Peculier Crime Novel of the Year award. Brookmyre’s novels have sold more than two million copies in the UK alone.

All About Evie by Matson Taylor

EVIE EPWORTH IS TEN YEARS OLDER. BUT IS SHE ANY WISER?

1972. Ten years on from the events of The Miseducation of Evie Epworth and Evie is settled in London working for the BBC. She has everything she’s ever dreamed of (a career, a leatherette briefcase, an Ossie Clark poncho) but, following an unfortunate incident involving Princess Anne and a Hornsea Pottery mug, she finds herself having to rethink her life and piece together work, love, grief and multiple pairs of cork-soled platform sandals. 

Ghosts from the past and the spirit of the future collide in a joyous adventure that sees Evie navigate the choppy waters of her messy twenties. Can a 1960s miseducation prepare her for the growing pains of the 1970s?

Big-hearted, uplifting, bittersweet and tender, All About Evie is a novel fizzing with wit and alive to the power of friendship in all its forms.

My Review

All About Evie is the first ‘real’ book I’ve read in years, as opposed to reading on my Kindle. Somehow it makes more sense. I have a big yellow hardback with a picture of Evie on her spinning chair and Oscar the basset hound in the bottom right hand corner. I even have an Evie postcard as a bookmark.

I read The Miseducation of Evie Epworth twice (something I almost never do) and it became one of my favourite books of all time. In All About Evie we are reintroduced to Caroline and Digby plus Mrs Swithenbank, but we also meet a whole new cast of characters from the two Nicks at Right On!, lovely Lolo and his dog Oscar, budding fashionista Genevieve, ghastly Griffin and many more. And Evie is introduced to opera, though it’s a bit more Victor Borge than Mozart, all plinky plonky music and lots of shouting. It’s actually Puccini’s La Boheme. Something easy to start with, break her in gently.

So moving on from The Miseducation, it’s now 1972 and Evie has been in London for 10 years. It was the year I went to The London College of Fashion to study Fashion Writing. I was 19, a few years younger than Evie. It was so London-y, as Genevieve would say. Sipping a Buck’s Fizz at eleven o’clock in the morning, penning a review of a fashion show, with a sun-kissed Judith Chalmers in charge of the commentary. Evie would have loved it, I’m sure. Definitely so would Genevieve.

But back to the story. All About Evie is full of hilarious snippets. Most will make you laugh – some will make you cry. This was one of my favourites. Evie is meeting Lolo from BBC Radio 3 with Oscar, all ears and slobber (Oscar that is, not Lolo), at a cafe on the Serpentine, to discuss a review she has written of the aforementioned opera. Lolo slips Oscar’s lead under a chair leg. ‘It’d take much more than a basset hound to shift a chair with me sitting on it,’ he jokes. I once did this in the Pimm’s tent at the Three Counties Show in Malvern with our old terrier Nipper. I forgot and walked away. A few seconds later, Nipper was chasing after me, dragging the chair with her across the tent. Looking back I think it has the ‘essence of Evie’ about it. But it pales into comparison with what happens next in the book.

There are also memories from the 1950s from someone called Catherine. It’s very poignant, but I won’t give anything away. You’ll find out soon enough who she is. And of course we hear from Mrs Scott-Pym, Caroline’s mum, and Evie’s beloved next-door neighbour.

All About Evie is a book full of warmth and humour. It’s like being wrapped up in a fluffy bathrobe, with a pair of furry pink mules and a cup of hot chocolate, while watching Dad’s Army and listening to Simon and Garfunkel on the radio. At least it is for me because this was my era, my time, one which I remember with fondness and I loved every minute I spent with Evie and friends. Roll on 1982.

About the Author

Matson Taylor grew up in Yorkshire (the flat part not the Bronte part). He comes from farming stock and spent an idyllic childhood surrounded by horses, cows, bicycles and cheap ice cream.

Matson now lives in London, where he is a design historian and academic-writing tutor and has worked at various universities and museums around the world; he currently teaches at the V&A, Imperial College, and the Royal College of Art. Previously he talked his way into various jobs at universities and museums around the world. He has also worked on Camden Market, appeared in an Italian TV commercial, and been a pronunciation coach for Catalan opera singers. He gets back to Yorkshire as much as possible, mainly to see family and friends but also to get a reasonably priced haircut.

All I Said Was True by Imran Mahmood

When Amy Blahn was murdered on a London office rooftop, Layla Mahoney was there. She held Amy as she died. But all she can say when police arrest her is that ‘It was Michael. Find Michael and you’ll find out everything you need to know.’

The problem is, the police can’t find Michael – there is no evidence that he exists. And time is running out before they have to either charge Layla with Amy’s murder, or let her go.

#AllISaidWasTrue @imranmahmood777 @BloomsburyRaven @Tr4cyF3nt0n #CompulsiveReaders #blogtour

As a lawyer, Layla knows that she has only forty-eight hours to convince police to investigate the man she knows only as ‘Michael’ instead of her. But the more she attempts to control her interviews with police, the more the truth leaks out – and how much of that truth can Layla risk being exposed?

My Review

Every now and again you read a book which is so intricately woven, complicated and unpredictable that you just have to give up trying to work it out and go with the flow. All I Said Was True is such a book.

Is Layla telling the truth? No-one believes her, particularly Detectives Metcalf and Omer. She was found cradling the head of a very dead Amy Blahn on the roof of the building where her husband Russell works. ‘So much blood,’ she tells the operator when she rings 999. She was arrested for murder but all she can say is: ‘It was Michael. Find Michael and you’ll find out everything you need to know.’

But no-one can find Michael. Does he exist or is he a figment of Layla’s imagination? He saved her life once, but why does she keep seeing him afterwards? She thinks he is stalking her, but he maintains that it’s fate, that they are ‘entangled’ in some way. But nothing he tells her makes any sense.

Layla is the typical unreliable narrator, but that’s only if you think she is lying to the police. And I really didn’t know. The narrative switched back and forth between then and now till the two merged.

It’s all in the detail but that’s not something I can talk about without giving too much away so I’m staying schtum. A brilliant read and one that makes you think and address your misconceptions.

Many thanks to @Tr4cyF3nt0n for inviting me to be part of the #CompulsiveReaders #blogtour and to NetGalley for an ARC.

About the Author

Imran Mahmood is a practising barrister with thirty years’ experience fighting cases in courtrooms across the country. His debut novel You Don’t Know Me was chosen by Simon Mayo as a BBC Radio 2 Book Club Choice for 2017 and longlisted for Theakston Crime Novel of the Year and for the CWA Gold Dagger, and was made into a hugely successful BBC1 adaptation in association with Netflix. His second novel I Know What I Saw was released in June 2021, was chosen as a Sunday Times crime novel of the month and reached no. 2 on the Audible charts. He has been commissioned to write three screenplays and is working on his next novel. When not in court or writing novels or screenplays he can sometimes be found on the Red Hot Chilli Writers’ podcast as one of the regular contributors. He hails from Liverpool but now lives in London with his wife and daughters.

The Daves Next Door by Will Carver

A disillusioned nurse suddenly learns how to care. An injured young sportsman wakes up find that he can see only in black and white. A desperate old widower takes too many pills and believes that two angels have arrived to usher him through purgatory.

Two agoraphobic men called Dave share the symptoms of a brain tumour, and frequently waken their neighbour with their ongoing rows.

#TheDavesNextDoor #WillIBlowUpThisTrain? #blogtour @Will_Carver @OrendaBooks
#RandomThingsTours @annecater @RandomTTours

Separate lives, running in parallel, destined to collide and then explode. Like the suicide bomber, riding the Circle Line, day after day, waiting for the right time to detonate, waiting for answers to his questions: Am I God? Am I dead? Will I blow up this train?

Shocking, intensely emotive and wildly original, Will Carver’s The Daves Next Door is an explosive existential thriller and a piercing examination of what it means to be human … or not.

My Review

How can I pigeonhole this book? Metafiction? Postmodern? Self-reflexive? God only knows and in this novel God is the unreliable, omniscient narrator. At least I thought so. Only the narrator realises he’s not God. He’s the would-be terrorist.

‘What if God was one of us,
Just a slob like one of us
Just a stranger on the bus (or tube train in this case)
Tryin’ to make his way home?’

Remember that song by Joan Osborne? The author does. He asks if me, the reader, is singing that song in my head right now. I am. I loved that song.

Did you see the film Sliding Doors? In one version of her life, the main character catches the subway, while in another parallel version she doesn’t. We see how the different versions play out and how it affects the direction her life takes. The author uses this technique a number of times to great effect.

I read a review in which the reviewer said ‘One character that I could particularly relate to, and to an extent empathise with, was that of Vashti, the disillusioned and uncaring nurse.’ Personally I felt most connected to the old man Saul. Not because I could necessarily relate to him, but because his story made me cry. Poor Saul, who didn’t want to live without his beloved Ada.

The Daves, the neighbour, the sportsman who broke his leg and now only sees in black and white, Thomas Davant, champion of causes. the fake angels trying to persuade Saul he’s in Purgatory so they can con him out of his home and of course nurse Vashti.

This is such a hard book to review. It’s not just about what happens to individual people, but why and how they are all connected, even though most of them have never met each other. The suicide bomber rides the Circle Line every day, waiting for the exact right time to detonate. Asking questions like Am I God? Am I dead? Will I blow up this train?

And that ending. I really didn’t see that coming – maybe I’m being naive or stupid or both, but I actually gasped.

This book is everything you come to expect from Will Carver. Different, unique, shocking, emotional and ultimately satisfying. A true masterpiece.

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

About the Author

Will Carver is the international bestselling author of the January David series. He spent his early years in Germany, but returned to the UK at age eleven, when his sporting career took off. He turned down a professional rugby contract to study theatre and television at King Alfred’s, Winchester, where he set up a successful theatre company. He currently runs his own fitness and nutrition company, and lives in Reading with his two children. Hinton Hollow Death Trip was longlisted for the Not the Booker Prize, while Nothing Important Happened Today was longlisted for the Theakston’s Old Peculier Crime Novel of the Year. Good Samaritans was book of the year in the Guardian, Telegraph and Daily Express, and hit number one on the ebook charts.

Orenda Books is a small independent publishing company specialising in literary fiction with a heavy emphasis on crime/thrillers, and approximately half the list in translation. They’ve been twice shortlisted for the Nick Robinson Best Newcomer Award at the IPG awards, and publisher and owner Karen Sullivan was a Bookseller Rising Star in 2016. In 2018, they were awarded a prestigious Creative Europe grant for their translated books programme. Three authors, including Agnes Ravatn, Matt Wesolowski and Amanda Jennings have been WHSmith Fresh Talent picks, and Ravatn’s The Bird Tribunal was shortlisted for the Dublin Literary Award, won an English PEN Translation Award, and adapted for BBC Radio Four ’s Book at Bedtime. Six titles have been short- or long-listed for the CWA Daggers. Launched in 2014 with a mission to bring more international literature to the UK market, Orenda Books publishes a host of debuts, many of which have gone on to sell millions worldwide, and looks for fresh, exciting new voices that push the genre in new directions. Bestselling authors include Ragnar Jonasson, Antti Tuomainen, Gunnar Staalesen, Michael J. Malone, Kjell Ola Dahl, Louise Beech, Johana Gustawsson, Lilja Sigurðardóttir and Sarah Stovell.

The Murder of Miss Perfect by Mark Eklid

Detective Chief Inspector Jim Pendlebury almost died at the end of his last big case.

Three years later, he is struggling to cope with forced retirement and the frustration of failing to convict the teacher accused of killing an 18-year-old student after seducing her.

@MarkEklid #TheMurderofMissPerfect @SpellBoundBks @Zooloo’s Book Tours @zooloo2008 #ZooloosBookTours #blogtour

He must try one more time to find the extra evidence the police need to make the teacher pay for the cruel murder of the beautiful young woman the media called Miss Perfect.

My Review

I saw a comment about a book that went something like ‘even the twists have twists’. It could easily have been referring to this one. There are more red herrings than a Rick Stein Long Weekend and I guarantee you won’t work out who really dunnit until the end.

When 18-year-old Abie Moran, dubbed Miss Perfect, is murdered there can only be one suspect. Her maths teacher David Bales. Twice her age, he supposedly seduced her at his house, and then realising what he had done, strangled her with his own tie. He had both motive and opportunity, but the jury still found him not guilty due to lack of evidence ie the missing tie. And he swears he didn’t do it.

But Detective Chief Inspector Jim Pendlebury isn’t having any of it. The man was guilty and he’s going to prove it. It’s been three years since that ridiculous verdict, and Jim is no longer a copper. He was forced to retire after suffering a massive heart attack on the steps of the courthouse following Bales’ release. But he’s determined to have one more try, whatever the cost.

Absolutely riveting – intelligent, fast-paced, cleverly plotted, surprising, The Murder of Miss Perfect has it all. But don’t be shocked if some of the surprises are totally unexpected – in that ‘how did that happen’ kind of way. I can’t explain what I mean because of spoilers, but the author does some things that most authors wouldn’t dare do. When you start reading you’ll know straight away what I mean.

Many thanks to @zooloo2008 for inviting me to be part of this blog tour.

About the Author

Long before Mark first became a published author, writing was his living. His background is as a newspaper journalist, starting out with the South Yorkshire Times in 1984 and then on to the Derby Telegraph, until leaving full-time work in March 2020. Most of Mark’s time at the Telegraph was as their cricket writer, a role that brought national recognition in the 2012 and 2013 England and Wales Cricket Board awards. He contributed for 12 years to the famed Wisden Cricketers’ Almanack and had many articles published in national magazines, annuals and newspapers. Writing as a profession meant writing for pleasure had to be put on the back burner but when his work role changed, Mark returned to one of the many half-formed novels in his computer files and, this time, saw it through to publication.

The Murder of Miss Perfect is his first novel for SpellBound, but Mark has previously self-published Sunbeam (November 2019), Family Business (June 2020) and Catalyst (February 2021). The earlier three are to be re-published through SpellBound soon. All four are fast-moving, plot-twisting thrillers set in the city of his birth, Sheffield. Mark lives in Derby with his partner, Sue. They have two adult sons and have been adopted by a cat.


Follow him at:
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/meklidauthor
Twitter: https://twitter.com/MarkEklid
Website: http://markeklid.com/
Buy Links – https://geni.us/vFfMbp

The Lost Boy by Jane Renshaw

One island. Two women. A journey to hell.
 
The Clarke family, Penny, Rod and their two young boys, are delighted when they are offered a holiday in a high-end guest house on a remote and beautiful island. Their hostess Anna seems like a lovely woman. But what the Clarkes don’t realise is that this is no random invitation, that Anna has carefully selected the family to satisfy her own sinister agenda.
 
Penny soon begins to sense there’s something off about Anna. She often speaks about her husband and son, but is it odd that they are both away? And that Anna seems perfectly content to be alone in this isolated place?

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And then there’s the way she looks at Penny’s boys – as if she’s sizing up chickens for the slaughter.
 
Penny grows increasingly uneasy and begins to do a bit of digging, which leads to a horrifying discovery – she finally realises who Anna is, and then she knows exactly why they’ve been invited to the island. She also knows that if she and her family are ever going to leave, they’ll have to fight for their lives … and find the answer to one terrifying question – how far would you go for the people you love?

My Review

Well this was an unusual read. What a strange cast of characters. Anna is initially a bit creepy. Rod is rather wishy-washy and he’s a twitcher (that’s a bird watcher to you and me). Penny is quite aloof and unapproachable with a massive chip on her elegant shoulder about something she never got to do with her life. Ten-year-old Freddie is highly intelligent but impossible to discipline, a bit like an over-excitable puppy. Poor little Alfie apparently looks like a gargoyle (not my words).

None of them is very lovable. Anna appears a bit unhinged. She also seems to spend a lot more time with her ‘guests’ than is normal for the host of a posh Airbnb. What is her agenda? She invited the Clarkes for a free holiday on the remote island where she lives, but as someone famous once said ‘there is no such thing as a free lunch.’ She is up to something, but is it sinister or is she just a very kind person. I doubt it’s the latter, but at this point, the gullible Clarkes have no idea who she is.

This book took some very unexpected turns and I was surprised how things turned out. It’s not possible to say any more because that would spoil the reading experience. Suffice to say that your sympathies will switch many times and it’s really very cleverly done. You might even start to like Freddie.

I really enjoyed reading The Lost Boy. I always love finding a book that is different from anything else I have read, and this one certainly is.

Many thanks to @zooloo2008 for inviting me to be part of this blog tour.

About the Author

As a child, Jane spent a lot of time in elaborate Lego worlds populated by tiny plastic animals and people. Crime levels were high, especially after the Dragon brothers set themselves up as vets and started murdering the animals in their ‘care’. (They got away with it by propping the victims up with Plasticine and pretending they were still alive…)

As an adult, she is still playing in imaginary worlds and putting her characters through hell – but now she can call it ‘writing’ and convince herself that she is doing something sensible. In real life, she has a PhD in genetics and copy-edits scientific and medical journals.

Follow her at:
Website: https://www.janerenshaw.co.uk/
Buy Links – https://geni.us/pisxuF


 

Bliss by Cat on a Piano / Theatrephonic

Bliss – can it get any better than this?
Given the choice would you rather live in a perfect world that isn’t real or fight to build something that is.


Bliss is very different from anything I have listened to from Theatrephonic before. I listened in two parts though I admit I did re-listen to a few bits to remind myself.

Jack meets Katy and it’s love at first sight for both of them. It’s pure ‘bliss’, just like the world has become in the future. A world of perfect happiness, free housing and medical treatment and no crime. And it’s all governed by Senator Bliss and the ’29’.

But is it all as perfect as it seems?
I’m not usually into this genre, but Bliss was brilliant and I thoroughly enjoyed it. Exciting story and some great characterisations, particularly Jack. And a warning for the future.

Written by Scott Peacock

Adapted for radio and directed by Emmeline Braefield

With
Rob Keeves as Jack Hoyte
Honey McKenna as Katy, the AI and Larkin
John Cooper-Evans as Senator Bliss, Commander Fitz, The Receptionist and Unit 30
and
Emmeline Braefield as Michelle Blake and Mrs White

Produced by Cat on a Piano Productions

The music was composed and produced by Honey McKenna

The Theatrephonic Theme tune was composed by Jackson Pentland
Performed by
Jackson Pentland
Mollie Fyfe Taylor
Emmeline Braefield

Cat on a Piano Productions produce and edit feature films, sketches and radio plays.

Their latest project is called @Theatrephonic, a podcast of standalone radio plays and short stories performed by professional actors. You can catch Theatrephonic on Spotify and other platforms.

For more information about the Theatrephonic Podcast, go to catonapiano.uk/theatrephonic, Tweet or Instagram @theatrephonic, or visit their Facebook page.

And if you really enjoyed this week’s episode, listen to Theatrephonic’s other plays and short stories and consider becoming a patron by clicking here…

Nobody’s Agent by Stuart Field

In the small town of Finchley, upstate New York, three bodies are discovered in an old mine. Soon after, Sheriff Doug Harrison contacts the FBI for help.

Ronin Nash is an ex-FBI special agent who wanted nothing more than to finish restoring the old family lake house. Now, Nash’s old boss wants him back and on the Finchley case.

#NobodysAgent @StuartField14 @NextChapterPB @Zooloo’s Book Tours @zooloo2008 #ZooloosBookTours #blogtour

Nash takes the job and travels to Finchley, expecting to solve the case quickly, but it turns out that things are not not as clear-cut as he thought. Someone in the small town has a secret, and they’re willing to go to any lengths to protect it.

A riveting crime thriller, Nobody’s Agent is the first book in Stuart Field’s Ronin Nash series.

My Review

Ex-FBI special agent Ronin Nash is happy in his new life restoring his family’s lake house. But when his old boss turns up and asks him to help with a case, he is definitely not keen. Intrigued – yes – keen – no. What the hell, intrigue wins and soon he’s on his way to New York to join the team of the newly formed IIB. He just hopes he still has the knack of solving crimes in his own inimitable way.

Cracking good stuff this, with a hero who is a bit 007 crossed with maverick cop Harry Callaghan. I love that Nash wears a suit top half with jeans and boots. And a hat. I can just imagine that hat.

So now our intrepid hero is on his way to the small town of Finchley in upstate New York, where everything and everyone seems a bit too perfect. Especially for a town where a grisly murder took place in the old Mason factory and three bodies have been discovered in a disused mine. So why are the FBI involved in a case of supposedly three homeless people who crept into a mine and died of exposure? Because maybe that’s not what happened.

But nothing is as it seems in Finchley. Nash being there makes everyone nervous, in fact police officer Jordan Fox has been tasked with ‘babysitting’ him.

What’s even stranger is that self-made millionaire Robert Somersby and former resident of Finchley is ploughing money into a town that is dying on its feet. So what’s going on? Nash is trying to find out but everyone seems to be against him. Apart from his dad Mac, who has managed to get involved.

It’s a brilliant, fast-paced read which is going to become what I’m sure will be a great series.

Many thanks to @zooloo2008 for inviting me to be part of this blog tour.

About the Author

Stuart Field is a British Army veteran who now works in security after serving twenty-two years in the British Army. As well as working full time he writes in his spare time.

Stuart was born and raised in the West Midlands in the UK. His love for travel has been an inspiration in some of his work with his John Steel and Ronin Nash thriller series.

As well as future John Steel novels, Stuart is working on a new series and standalone novels.


Follow him at:
Facebook : www.facebook.com/stuart.field.5811
Twitter: www.twitter.com/StuartField14
Website : stuartfieldauthorshomepage.wordpress.com

Buy Links
Amazonhttps://geni.us/vOno4M7