After He Died by Michael J Malone @MichaelJMalone @OrendaBooks @annecater #BookReview

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I am absolutely delighted to be sharing my thoughts on After He Died by Michael J Malone as part of the blog tour for Orenda Books. I would like to thank Anne Cater for my invite onto the tour for this fabulous book and also Orenda for my copy. You can get your own copy from AMAZON UK

Synopsis:

You need to know who your husband really was…

When Paula Gadd’s husband of almost thirty years dies, just days away from the seventh anniversary of their son, Christopher’s death, her world falls apart. Grieving and bereft, she is stunned when a young woman approaches her at the funeral service, and slips something into her pocket. A note suggesting that Paula’s husband was not all that he seemed…
When the two women eventually meet, a series of revelations challenges everything Paula thought they knew, and it becomes immediately clear that both women’s lives are in very real danger.
Both a dark, twisty slice of domestic noir and taut, explosive psychological thriller, After He Died is also a chilling reminder that the people we trust the most can harbour the deadliest secrets…

My Thoughts:

Paula Gadd lost her son almost seven years ago, her husband has just died. But a stranger asking Paula how well she knew her husband leaves her questioning all she thought she knew.

Straight away I want to mention the cover, how simple, effective and amazing it is. The story itself is far from simple, but it is effective and it really is amazing. I got to meet Paula at the funeral of her husband Tommy, she is still stunned, shocked and in a daze when this random stranger just walks up and asks Paula how well she knew her husband…

By this point I am already hooked, what follows left me on the edge of my seat as the story unfolded. Paula is rocked and as she discovers there are things that her husband has done that she had no idea about. I also got to meet some of Tommy’s family and also the stranger and how she fits into the story. Yes this is vague for a reason, no spoilers from me..

This is a book that is fast paced but one where I forced myself to slow my reading of so I didn’t miss any little detail. The author does the most amazing job of building up tension and suspense and at the same time sows so many seeds of doubt along the way. The plot is deliciously deceptive and twisted, but never once did I feel confused, the writing simply flowed as the story was revealed.

The characters in the story are such a random lot, and yes some I did like, those that I couldn’t make my mind up about and some that completely hoodwinked me. I love the concept of how well you know someone and how the author has used that and then completely turned it on it backside to reveal a world of doubt, mistrust, conflict and finding the truth about the person you thought you knew.

This is the first book I have read by this author, I have now bought a myself a couple more as this was so amazing. If you are a fan of crime, mystery, thriller, and suspense with a good helping of domestic noir then you will absolutely want to read this one. An absolutely fantastic read that I would highly recommend.

About the Author:

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Michael Malone is a prize-winning poet and author who was born and brought up in the heart of Burns’ country. He has published over 200 poems in literary magazines throughout the UK, including New Writing Scotland, Poetry Scotland and Markings. Blood Tears, his bestselling debut novel won the Pitlochry Prize from the Scottish Association of Writers. Other published work includes: Carnegie’s Call; A Taste for Malice; The Guillotine Choice; Beyond the Rage; The Bad Samaritan and Dog Fight. His psychological thriller, A Suitable Lie, was a number-one bestseller, and the critically acclaimed House of Spines soon followed suit. A former Regional Sales Manager (Faber & Faber) he has also worked as an IFA and a bookseller.

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The Lion Tamer Who Lost by Louise Beech @LouiseWriter @OrendaBooks @annecater #BookReview

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I am so delighted to be bringing you The Lion Tamer Who Lost by Louise Beech. This is a beautiful story, and after watching a Twitter video of Louise opening her parcel of finalised copies, I can also say she may be a little excited about the cover being embossed. Yes Louise Beech is embossed! You really need to watch this, its brilliant 🙂

My huge thanks to the fabulous Orenda Books for my copy and also to Anne Cater for my invite to take part in this blog tour. I may have been a little excited in my email back to Anne about joining this tour to help share the book love, this was already a book that was generating fantastic early reviews, there was no way I was going to miss the opportunity to take part.

Synopsis:

Be careful what you wish for…

Long ago, Andrew made a childhood wish, and kept it in a silver box. When it finally comes true, he wishes it hadn’t…

Long ago, Ben made a promise and he had a dream: to travel to Africa to volunteer at a lion reserve. When he finally makes it, it isn’t for the reasons he imagined…

Ben and Andrew keep meeting in unexpected places, and the intense relationship that develops seems to be guided by fate. Or is it? What if the very thing that draws them together is tainted by past secrets that threaten everything?

My Thoughts:

Wishes and dreams are part of life, but what happens when the things you wish and dream for are not as you imagined they would be. Dreams are great, but if you follow your dream for an alternative motive then in reality it isn’t what the dream was meant to be. Andrew the wish-maker and Ben with the dream are meant to be together, but why…

This is a story that I just found myself being captivated with from the very start as I met Ben in Zimbabwe at a lion sanctuary. This is his dream and also a fulfilling of a promise , but I realised that instead of being ecstatic and excited about helping lion cubs, Ben was subdued, there but not quite there. Here was a man with something on his mind, and as the story flitted between Zimbabwe and Hull I discovered a story that just blew me away.

In Hull I got to meet Andrew, a chance meeting allows Andrew to meet and get to know Ben. The story tells of their friendship and then their relationship,also of their feelings for what others may think. Family, relationships, misunderstandings and expectations really do come into play and the author deals with this in such a natural and wonderful way.

There is so much that I absolutely loved about this book, as well as the story line itself one thing that really stood out for me was the attention to detail. As a reader I like settings to be described in as much detail as possible but not in great long passages, this author has the ability to describe in detail in a short and vivid way. Not only did I get an image of the sights and sounds but also of taste and smell, from the mud coffee to the aromas the lions. For me it is the additional little details that are just as important.

Now the story line, it flits back and forward in time and also between Hull and Zimbabwe. The main characters are Ben and Andrew and I really did get to them well, there are other characters that also have major parts to play in the story, but Ben and Andrew are the key characters. The story is about many things, but love and relationships are the main ones. The author deals with Ben and Andrews relationship in such a beautiful way, and also on the flip side the way that a person may think that some may not like same-sex relationships.

The story moved along at a nice pace, building up and filling in details and history of the characters and their families and then suddenly took a route that not only caught me unawares, but also had me with my heart in my mouth. It moved into such an emotionally charged story as the author had me on the edge of tears. I tried my hardest to keep them in check for such a long time and just as I started to breathe normally again I came across three words that had me in a total sobbing mess. There are several parts of the story that had me balancing on the emotional see saw, and I think that many others will be the same.

This is a beautiful, emotional, passionate, wonderful story that had me absolutely glued from the first page to the very last.

An absolute must read for readers who want to experience an author who knows how to take a reader on a fantastic literary journey.

About the Author:

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Louise Beech is an exceptional literary talent, whose debut novel How To Be Brave was a Guardian Readers’ Choice for 2015. The sequel, The Mountain in My Shoe was shortlisted for Not the Booker Prize. Her third book, Maria in the Moon, was widely reviewed and critically acclaimed. Her short fiction has won the Glass Woman Prize, the Eric Hoffer Award for Prose, and the Aesthetica Creative Works competition, as well as shortlisting for the Bridport Prize twice. Louise lives with her husband and children on the outskirts of Hull, and loves her job as a Front of House Usher at Hull Truck Theatre, where her first play was performed in 2012.

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Big Sister by Gunnar Staalesen transl by Don Batlett : @OrendaBooks @annecater #BigSister #VargVeum #BookReview

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I am delighted to be sharing my thoughts today for “Big Sister” by Gunnar Staalsen as part of the Blog Tour by Orenda Books. My thanks go to Anne Cater, Orenda and also the author for my spot on the tour and also my copy of Big Sister. This book is available in eBook and also paperback format and you can buy your copy from Amazon UK

 

Synopsis:

PI Varg Veum receives a surprise visit in his office from a woman who introduces herself as his half-sister, and she has a job for him. Her god-daughter, a nineteen-year-old trainee nurse from Haugesund, moved from her bedsit in Bergen two weeks ago. Since then no one has heard anything from her. She didn’t leave an address. She doesn’t answer her phone. And the police refuse to take her case seriously. Veum’s investigation uncovers a series of carefully covered-up crimes and pent-up hatreds, and the trail leads to a gang of extreme bikers and to a shadowy group, whose dark actions are hidden by the anonymity of the Internet. And then things get personal… Chilling, shocking and exceptionally gripping, Big Sister reaffirms Gunnar Staalesen as one of the world’s foremost thriller writers.

My Thoughts:

Private Investigator Varg Veum has more than the usual interest when taking on his new case. The woman who asks is his sister whom he has never met, so not only a chance to get to know her but also the possibility of finding out more about his family. His sister is concerned about the disappearance of her god-daughter.

This is yet another new to me author as I join in the Varg Veum series. Sometimes I think this is a good thing especially when the book works as a standalone, as this one does. It means I have no prior expectations. This is set Bergen Norway and one of the first things that struck me was the wonderful descriptions of the area the author describes, i was able to build a good picture of the area and also the climate brrr. It was a great stand alone book to read as I learnt some details about Varg at the same time he did from his sister. There are things in his past that I still want to know more about and reading the previous books will obviously fill in the stories.

This is a serious case for Varg as the disappearance of a young woman is not taken seriously by the police. The more he delves into he case the darker it gets, the more the plot twists and I was taken into a scenario I really didn’t expect.

This is a slower paced book and I thought it really did suit the story quite well, it gave me a chance to get to grips with the names of other characters and also place names. These I really did struggle with initially, taking me a few sentences to recognise which character was which. This is not anything to do with the author here and is no criticism with his writing, it is purely my lack of knowledge regarding Norway and not knowing any names. But it didn’t really distract from the story and this is where the slower pace really helped as I needed to pay extra attention.

So for a first time reader of this author I found the story addictive, interesting and as if I was being drawn down a tunnel that got darker the further I went. It had a good amount of suspense and kept me engrossed, I would have happily rad it in one sitting if I didn’t have to go to work. It has also left me wanting to know more about PI Varg Veum so I will be looking for other books by Gunnar Staalesen. I must also say that  the translator Don Bartlett has done a fantastic job, the translation is seamless.

If you are after a gripping, slower paced Nordic Noir that is dark and full of suspense then this book really is worth reading. It works really well as a stand alone and I would definitely recommend it.

About the Author:

Gunnar.jpegGunnar Staalesen was born in Bergen, Norway in 1947. He made his debut at the age of 22 with Seasons of Innocence and in 1977 he published the first book in the Varg Veum series. He is the author of over 20 titles, which have been published in 24 countries and sold over five million copies. Twelve film adaptations of his Varg Veum crime novels have appeared since 2007, starring the popular Norwegian actor Trond Epsen Seim, and a further series is being filmed now. Staalesen, who has won three Golden Pistols (including the Prize of Honour) and the Petrona Award, and been shortlisted for the CWA Dagger, lives in Bergen with his wife.

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#BlogTour : The Old You by Louise Voss @LouiseVoss1 : @OrendaBooks @annecater : #BookReview #TheOldYou

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I am delighted to be finally sharing my thoughts on “The Old You” by Louise Voss as part of the tour by Anne Cater at Random Things Tours with Orenda Books and my biggest thanks go to them for my spot and copy of the book. The Old You is available from Amazon UK in eBook and Paperback formats.

Synopsis:

Nail-bitingly modern domestic noir
A tense, Hitchcockian psychological thriller
Louise Voss returns with her darkest, most chilling, novel yet…

Lynn Naismith gave up the job she loved when she married Ed, the love of her life, but it was worth it for the happy years they enjoyed together. Now, ten years on, Ed has been diagnosed with early-onset dementia, and things start to happen; things more sinister than missing keys and lost words. As some memories are forgotten, others, long buried, begin to surface … and Lynn’s perfect world begins to crumble.
But is it Ed’s mind playing tricks, or hers…?

My Thoughts:

How would you deal with your husband gradually loosing himself to early onset dementia? Personally it is something I hope never to have to experience though I know people who have had to deal with it. The author takes dementia and how it impacts not only the sufferer but those around them. Then she takes it on a route that I never saw coming as she took me on a suspense filled and breathtaking journey.

The start of this book really sets up the life of Lynn and Ed as I followed then through the diagnosis and how Lynn can see how their lives will change. My heart went out to both of these characters initially, please note the word “initially” as this believe you me when I say that my thoughts definitely made a massive u-turn!

The story does have a slight time slip element as I got to learn about Lynn in her life before she met Ed and how she met him. I almost dropped my book at this point, and from that point on the sinister and frighteningly realistic story really starts to make itself felt.

I want to say that I had a little hint of a something in the story, but as I reflect back I didn’t work anything out, the author just played games as she let teasing little pieces of information out. By the end of the book I was a little stunned, i should add in a good way, and it took me quite a while to write my review on paper as I was trying to work out what I had read. The twists and jaw dropping realisation that the author has managed to work into this story is brilliant. The plot is devious and manipulative as I learnt, experienced and saw through Lynn’s eyes what was happening around her.

This is a book that caught my attention from the get go and subtlety drew me into a world that was addictive and a real eye opener. By the end of the story my thoughts on the characters had changed so much. If you want a story with a definitely sinister, dark, manipulative and psychologically twisted route then this is the book for you. Billed as having a feel of Hitchcock and a domestic noir, and yes I completely agree with this. It is an addictive and brilliant read, one I would Highly Recommend it is an absolute cracker.

About the Author:

Louise VossOver her eighteen-year writing career, Louise Voss has had books out via pretty much every publishing model there is, from deals with major traditional publishing houses (Transworld and Harper Collins), to digital-only (the Amazon-owned Thomas & Mercer) and self-publishing – she and co-author Mark Edwards were the first UK indie-published authors to hit the No. 1 spot on Amazon back in 2011. She has had eleven novels published in total, five solo and six co-written, a combination of psychological thrillers, police procedurals and contemporary fiction. Louise has an MA(Dist) in Creative Writing and also works as a literary consultant and mentor for writers at http://www.thewritingcoach.co.uk. She lives in South-West London and is a proud member of two female crime-writing collectives, The Slice Girls and Killer Women.

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#BlogTour : Keeper by JohanaGustawsson @JoGustawsson : @OrendaBooks #RandomThingsTour @annecater : #BookReview #FrenchNoir #Keeper

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I am so delighted to be sharing my thoughts with you for “Keeper by Johana Gustawsson.  Published by Orenda Books and available from Amazon UK in paperback or eBook format.  My huge thanks to Anne Cater at Random Things Tours, Orenda Books and Johana for my copy of this book and my spot on the Blog Tour.

Synopsis:

Whitechapel, 1888: London is bowed under Jack the Ripper’s reign of terror. London 2015: actress Julianne Bell is abducted in a case similar to the terrible Tower Hamlets murders of some ten years earlier, and harking back to the Ripper killings of a century before.

Falkenberg, Sweden, 2015: a woman’s body is found mutilated in a forest, her wounds identical to those of the Tower Hamlets victims. With the man arrested for the Tower Hamlets crimes already locked up, do the new killings mean he has a dangerous accomplice, or is a copy-cat serial killer on the loose?

Profiler Emily Roy and true-crime writer Alexis Castells again find themselves drawn into an intriguing case, with personal links that turn their world upside down…

My Thoughts:

This see’s the return of BIA Emily Roy and French True Crime writer Alexis Castells as they investigate a murder.  The work of an imprisoned serial killer comes into question when the same M.O is used.  Looking at possible connections from the past, this story is one that will have you eagerly turning the pages.

Having recently read Johana’s debut novel Block 46 I was looking forward to getting stuck into this one. Would I love Keeper as much as Block 46. I have to admit to no I didn’t love it as much, I loved it even more than the first.

Keeper has some of it’s plot in 1888 in London’s notorious Whitechapel and gradually works its way along side the present day setting until they are both connected.  It is a style I really like in the previous book and was glad to see it being used again.  I enjoy this dual timeline style setting that the author uses, it is  like you are getting two stories for the price of one and the connections are not really seen until they are being brought to their climax.

The characters are a mix of old and new faces, not so much police investigative as more profiler and researcher investigations.  This is something that is a refreshing change, as much as I love police procedural investigations I like to see read something that is a little bit different. One of the new characters is that of Aliénor Lindburgh a very analytical and logic based character, one I would like to see again and learn more about.

The plot… where to begin…. well its complex, it’s brutal and made me wince as I read. It takes in the various timelines and also various stories and I really don’t want to say anymore.  In fact that is all I am going to say id that the plot is a really strategic one and you have to read it to believe it.  As the end was approaching I still had no idea as to how the ending would play out and I was nowhere close to working it out either.

There is one final but also very important mention that I think deserves a big recognition here, that is the translator Maxim Jakubowski. His flawless translation gives those of us, including me, who only read or speak only one language a chance to read a book that would otherwise be unknown.

This is now the second book by this author I have read, and I can honestly say Johana is one of those authors whose books I would most probably buy without reading the synopsis. For me she is a must read author who shows an intense, deeply thought out and intricate way of telling her stories. If you like your crime to be full of darkness and your thrillers to be hard-hitting then you must definitely get a copy of this book. A definite HIGHLY RECOMMENDED from me xx

About the Author:

Johana PicBorn in 1978 in Marseille and with a degree in political science, Johana Gustawsson has worked as a journalist for the French press and television. She married a Swede and now lives in London. She was the co-author of a bestseller, On se retrouvera, published by Fayard Noir in France, whose television adaptation drew over 7 million viewers in June 2015. Her debut, Block 46, was an award-winning, international bestseller, with Keeper following suit. She is working on the next book in the Roy & Castells series.
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#BlogTour : The Ice Swimmer by Kjell Ola Dahl @ko_dahl : #TheIceSwimmer #NordicNoir @OrendaBooks #RandomThingsTours @annecater #BookReview

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I am delighted to be part of the blog tour for “The Ice Swimmer” by Kjell Ola Dahl. This book is available in various formats and published by Orenda Books.  My thanks to Orenda, Kjell and also Anne Cater for my copy of the book and also my spot on the tour.

Synopsis:

The Oslo Detectives are back in another slice of gripping, dark Nordic Noir… Introducing Detective Lena Stigersand Award-winning, critically acclaimed and international bestselling author

When a dead man is lifted from the freezing waters of Oslo Harbour just before Christmas, Detective Lena Stigersand’s stressful life suddenly becomes even more complicated. Not only is she dealing with a cancer scare, a stalker and an untrustworthy boyfriend, but it seems both a politician and Norway’s security services might be involved in the murder. With her trusted colleagues, Gunnarstranda and Frølich, at her side, Lena digs deep into the case and finds that it not only goes to the heart of the Norwegian establishment, but it might be rather to close to her personal life for comfort.

Dark, complex and nail-bitingly tense, The Ice Swimmer is the latest and most unforgettable instalment in the critically acclaimed Oslo Detective series, by the godfather of Nordic Noir.

My Thoughts:

Lena Stigersand is called to attend the scene of a drowned man in the freezing waters of Oslo Harbour.  Her colleague Gunnerstranda is working on another case of suicide.  Amongst these cases a letter threatening a Member of Parliament arrives.

This book is broken down into chapters that then have several sub chapters, I found this really helpful as it meant I could get used to the names of the various characters and familiarise myself with their names. As the investigations proceed the presence of the other characters make themselves known and not always in the best of ways. I soon found myself getting used to their names, and some I am sure I have not  pronounced  correctly.

There are several plots that run together and the author has done a wonderful job of not blurring or mixing them up, this is where I think the sub-chapters really help.  I found myself taken around the streets of Oslo as well as the back alleys and also underground into tunnels. As well as this I discovered a variety of food that certainly whet my appetite and also a few Christmas traditions. By adding these little steps away from the hustle and bustle of the investigations it gave me a chance to almost catch my breath for a moment before being taken off again into the story.

Obviously murder and crime feature in this book, but the author focuses also on finding the who’s and the why’s of the case.  But also there is a good amount about Lena, the main protagonist in her personal life and newly diagnosis condition. She comes across as a mix of a logical thinking but also one that rushes headlong into trouble sort of person as well as being a guarded character regarding her personal life.

So this is a book I would highly recommend to readers of Nordic Noir, Crime, Mystery and Thriller genres.  It is a brilliantly twisted in a complex and well laid out story, with various investigations unfolding and all being brought to a satisfying conclusion. My first time reading a book by this author and it will not be my last.

About the Author:

Dahl-Kjell-Ola_Foto-Rolf-M-Aagaard.jpgOne of the godfathers of the Nordic Noir genre, Kjell Ola Dahl was born in 1958 in Gjøvik. He made his debut in 1993, and has since published eleven novels, the most prominent of which is a series of police procedurals cum psychological thrillers featuring investigators Gunnarstranda and Frølich. In 2000 he won the Riverton Prize for The Last Fix and he won both the prestigious Brage and Riverton Prizes for The Courier in 2015. His work has been published in 14 countries and sold over two million copies. He lives in Oslo.

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#BookReview : Block 46 by Johana Gustawsson translated by Maxim Jacubowski @JoGustawsson : @OrendaBooks

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Today I have my thoughts on “Block 46” by Johana Gustawsson and translated by Maxim Jacubowski. Published by Orenda Books and available in various formats from Amazon Uk and other book sellers.

Synopsis:

Falkenberg, Sweden. The mutilated body of talented young jewellery designer, Linnea Blix, is found in a snow-swept marina. Hampstead Heath, London. The body of a young boy is discovered with similar wounds to Linnea’s. Buchenwald Concentration Camp, 1944. In the midst of the hell of the Holocaust, Erich Hebner will do anything to see himself as a human again. Are the two murders the work of a serial killer, and how are they connected to shocking events at Buchenwald? Emily Roy, a profiler on loan to Scotland Yard from the Canadian Royal Mounted Police, joins up with Linnea’s friend, French true-crime writer Alexis Castells, to investigate the puzzling case. They travel between Sweden and London, and then deep into the past, as a startling and terrifying connection comes to light. Plumbing the darkness and the horrific evidence of the nature of evil, Block 46 is a multi-layered, sweeping and evocative thriller that heralds a stunning new voice in French Noir. 

WINNER: Nouvelle Plume D’Argent 2016 
For fans of The Missing, Dominique Manotti, Camilla Lackberg, Stieg Larsson

My Thoughts:

The body of Linnéa Blix is found in Falkberg, Sweden the wounds are similar to the body of a young boy found in London. Are the two connected, if so how? Running within this stroy is that of a Prisoner of War from the Buchenwald Concentration Camp his story runs from arriving at the camp through the years of his life. It will take the on loan Canadian Royal Mounted Police Profiler Emily Roy to try and find the pieces to this intense puzzle with French True Crime Writer Alexis Castells.

First of all, if you have not read this book then you need to take yourself off right this moment and get a copy.  If you have read this book, then why the hell didn’t you demand I read it?  This book has a time slip element to it and the author has done such a fantastic job bring the past up to date within this deeply tense, suspense filled thriller.

So what to say about this book without giving anything away? The depth of the plot is as creative as it is chilling, as the author relates and weaves several stories together in quick snappy chapters.  It is told from the perspective of key characters to give different opinions and viewpoints giving the reader a much bigger picture. The descriptions of the camp conditions and practices are detailed enough to allow the evil nature of the place and of some people to be felt.  But the way the author has dealt with this topic has been done with sensitivity and respect.

As I said earlier there are several story lines and they are gradually and expertly drawn together, adding more suspense, intrigue and intensity as she brings you closer to the end. The end was jaw dropping, unexpected and to use a cliche “I really did not see that one coming”, or in fact the next one… absolutely knocked me sideways.

I am going to share few lines from the first page of this book and I hope you can see why I was immediately hooked :

“He picks up his spade, gathers earth and spreads it out in the hole. A single shovelful and the legs are already covered; all that sticks out are the toes. Toes as smooth as pebbles, as cold as ice, that make him want to touch them with the tips of his fingers.”

So if you are a reader who likes suspense, crime, thriller, mystery reads that are hard hitting, strongly written, totally absorbing, addictive, brutal, outstanding read then you MUST READ this book.

About the Author:

Born in 1978 in Marseille and with a degree in political science, Johana Gustawsson has worked as a journalist for the French press and television. She married a Swede and now lives in London. She was the co-author of a bestseller, On se retrouvera, published by Fayard Noir in France, whose television adaptation drew over 7 million viewers in June 2015. She is working on the next book in the Roy & Castells series.

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#BlogTour : End Game by @Matt_Johnson #EndGame #RobertFinlay @OrendaBooks @annecater #BookReview

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I am delighted to be sharing m thoughts today on End Game by Matt Johnson. My thanks to Anne Cater and Orenda Books for my copy of this wonderful book and also for my spot on the tour.  This is the final book of the trilogy and you can purchase all the books from Amazon UK in either eBook or paperback.  BUYING LINK

Synopsis:

Robert Finlay seems to have finally left his SAS past behind him and is settled into his new career as a detective. But when the girlfriend of his former SAS colleague and close friend Kevin Jones is murdered, it’s clear that Finlay’s troubles are far from over. Jones is arrested for the killing, but soon escapes from jail, and Finlay is held responsible for the breakout. Suspended from duty and sure he’s being framed too, our hero teams up with MI5 agent Toni Fellowes to find out who’s behind the conspiracy. Their quest soon reveals a plot that goes to the very heart of the UK’s security services. End Game, the final part in the critically acclaimed Robert Finlay trilogy, sees our hero in an intricately plotted and terrifyingly fast-paced race to uncover the truth and escape those who’d sooner have him dead than be exposed.

My Thoughts:

This is the final instalment in the Robert Finlay series.  I do have a little confession here, and please don’t tell anyone, but I have not read any of the other books (hangs head in shame) but I have ordered them (raises head a little higher).  When an email from the wonderful Anne Cater dropped in I was not going to say no, reviews from other bloggers about the two previous books were wonderful and glowing, after reading End Game I can absolutely see why.

So to my thoughts, surely the fact that I immediately bought the other two books after finishing this one is testimony as to what I thought.  But in case you are not convinced by that…. With any book in a series, characters are important.  You follow them as they evolve and grow, you know their back stories, problems and history as well as their interaction with others (whether they play nicely in a group or not).  But as I have not had this experience (yes I know!) I found that the dynamics of the characters very evident, they have strong personalities and traits and have a great established believable feel about them.  It didn’t take long for me to remember them or to identify them within the story.

Right then to the plot, where to start, well there is an underlying plot from the previous stories, again something you would expect from a trilogy.  Matt has included great references to this and there is enough for this, late to the party reader, to get enough of an idea to understand.  It has also given plenty of intrigue and left me wanting to know more about the back stories, hence me the first two books.  For End Game, you are plunged into a world of British Secret Service and Police Investigations at an intense and breathtaking pace .  There are real life events that have been mentioned and incorporated into the story, I love this as it gives the reader a great reference point for the setting of a story.  These real events and also the authors own experiences give a real edgy feel to this story, the author knows his stuff.  It’s the lit details that add that extra element, these seemingly trivial little facts that are added are there because of the authors experience within the  military and police force.  This “insider” knowledge is what makes the story stand out and adds that important authentic and believable factor.

This was an absolute pleasure to read, it was intense and intricate in its plot and in the details but not at all confusing, fast paced and addictive.  The espionage aspect is devilish with a real edge of the seat feel.  A brilliantly woven tale and one that I Highly Recommend. Don’t just take my word for it, buy all three books and see for yourself.

About the Author:

Matt Johnson Author Picture.jpg  Matt Johnson served as a soldier and Metropolitan Police officer for twenty-five years. Blown off his feet at the London Baltic Exchange bombing in 1993, and one of the first police officers on the scene of the 1982 Regent’s Park bombing, Matt was also at the Libyan People’s Bureau shooting in 1984 where he escorted his mortally wounded friend and colleague, Yvonne Fletcher, to hospital. Hidden wounds took their toll. In 1999, Matt was discharged from the police with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. While undergoing treatment, he was encouraged by his counsellor to write about his career and his experience of murders, shootings and terrorism. One evening, Matt sat at his computer and started to weave these notes into a work of fiction that he described as having a tremendously cathartic effect on his own condition. His bestselling thriller, Wicked Game, which was shortlisted for the CWA John Creasey Dagger, was the result. Deadly Game and now End Game, the final book in the Robert Finlay series, once again draw on Matt’s experiences and drips with the same raw authenticity of its predecessor.

The Robert Finlay Trilogy by Matt Johnson

Wicked Game      ~    Deadly Game      ~     End Game

Click on the title and it will take you to Amazon.UK website.

Since writing this post I am happy to say, my copies of the first two books are now here,  now I  have the full set 🙂29243814_10214155310511089_6356634460884041728_n

Many thanks for reading my post, if you liked it please give a share.  Or, go and buy yourself a copy HERE   🙂 xx

#BlogTour : #BlueNight by Simone Buchholz @ohneKlippo with @FwdTranslations @Orendabooks @annecater

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I am delighted to be sharing my thoughts on “Blue Night” by Simone Buchholz and translated by Rachel Ward.  Published by Orenda Books and available for purchase from Amazon UK.  I would like to thank Anne Cater  and Orenda Books for my spot on this tour.

Synopsis:

After convicting a superior for corruption and shooting off a gangster’s crown jewels, the career of Hamburg’s most hard-bitten state prosecutor, Chastity Riley, has taken a nose dive: she has been transferred to the tedium of witness protection to prevent her making any more trouble. However, when she is assigned to the case of an anonymous man lying under police guard in hospital, Chastity’s instinct for the big, exciting case kicks in. Using all her powers of persuasion, she soon gains her charge’s confidence, and finds herself on the trail to Leipzig, a new ally, and a whole heap of lethal synthetic drugs. When she discovers that a friend and former colleague is trying to bring down Hamburg’s Albanian mafia kingpin single-handedly, it looks like Chas Riley’s dull life on witness protection really has been short-lived…

My Thoughts:

Set in Hamburg, Germany.  A man is found brutally beaten and it is the job of Chastity Riley to find out the details of this mysterious man.  He is not willing to give much about himself, he is Joe and has said he underestimated his attackers. To get more information from him, Riley will have to gain his trust and do her own digging to discover more.

This is a gritty German Noir read, told from the perspective of Riley, we are led through her daily routines, meet her friends and colleagues. In between her chapters are diary like entries of other characters, these range from maybe a sentence to several paragraphs in length. At first this caught me unawares, but as the story progress they make sense and give the links and insights that you would not have got from Riley alone.  They are the personal snippets from the lives all given at a similar time in the past. I also noticed while reading this book, there is a lot of time drinking, it did make me wonder how some of these people function.

The pacing, well took me a few chapters while I got used to the names and places, the characters and their relationships to each other, but then I sped through it, one sitting in front of the fire on a cold February evening…it was bliss.

The plot weaves its way around the criminal drug trade, a notorious gang lord and the importation of a new deadly and viscous drug.  It also has great insights into the past of the characters, how they came to be in Hamburg and why.

Overall a book I rally enjoyed, read in one sitting back this up.  Some interesting characters and good plot.  This is a book I would definitely recommend to readers of gritty, hard-hitting crime with its feet rooted in German Noir.  A great read.

About the Author:

Simone Buchholz PictureSimone Buchholz was born in Hanau in 1972. At university, she studied Philosophy and Literature, worked as a waitress and a columnist, and trained to be a journalist at the prestigious Henri-Nannen-School in Hamburg. In 2016, Simone Buchholz was awarded the Crime Cologne Award as well as runner-up for the German Crime Fiction Prize for Blue Night, which was number one on the KrimiZEIT Best of Crime List for months. She lives in Sankt Pauli, in the heart of Hamburg, with her husband and son.

See what other bloggers think of this book.

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Many thanks for reading my post, if you liked it then please give a share.  Or go and buy yourself a copy of this book 🙂 xx

#BookReview : Snowblind by Ragnar Jonasson @ragnarjo : @OrendaBooks

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“Snowblind by Ragnar Jonasson is available in paperback, eBook and audio book.  It was published in 2015 by Orenda Books as part of the “Dark Iceland” series.  purchase from Amazon UK ~ Amazon US.

Synopsis:

Siglufjorour: an idyllically quiet fishing village in Northern Iceland, where no one locks their doors – accessible only via a small mountain tunnel. Ari Thor Arason: a rookie policeman on his first posting, far from his girlfriend in Reykjavik – with a past that he’s unable to leave behind. When a young woman is found lying half-naked in the snow, bleeding and unconscious, and a highly esteemed, elderly writer falls to his death in the local theatre, Ari is dragged straight into the heart of a community where he can trust no one, and secrets and lies are a way of life. An avalanche and unremitting snowstorms close the mountain pass, and the 24-hour darkness threatens to push Ari over the edge, as curtains begin to twitch, and his investigation becomes increasingly complex, chilling and personal. Past plays tag with the present and the claustrophobic tension mounts, while Ari is thrust ever deeper into his own darkness – blinded by snow, and with a killer on the loose. Taut and terrifying, Snowblind is a startling debut from an extraordinary new talent, taking Nordic Noir to soaring new heights.

My Thoughts:

I have seen this authors books on various book bloggers sites, and thought it was about time I gave the Dark Iceland series a go.  I have had this book a couple months now and have finally got to read it.  So did I like it?

This is billed as a Nordic Noir, so I automatically expect certain things, and I admit to not being disappointed.  Ari Thor is the main protagonist and the reader is taken on his journey from Reykjavik and his police training to a new two year post in the old fishing village of Siglufjorour at the north of the island.  He leaves behind his girlfriend who is training to be a nurse. On arrival he finds that everyone knows of him, a village where most residents have been born and bred there.

Ari Thor’s story in the village begins in November 2008 through to the end of January 2009, though the Icelandic winter.  The descriptions Ragnar has given of the village, residents and setting were good, but for me I really liked the way he used Ari Thor’s character to  express how the dark, claustrophobia enveloped him.  From these descriptions I could imagine what he was describing, from the long dark winter months in a snow locked village, Ari Thor is used to a city setting and has not experienced the isolation like this before.

The plot of the story itself feels basic but at the same time has quite a complex layout.  As Ari Thor hunts for answers as well as getting to know the locals, he amasses his knowledge but the reader is not made aware of this until he starts putting the pieces together.  He then shares his thoughts more completely through conversations with others. Along the way there are a couple of red-herrings, these provided the reader with a chance to think up the wrong route.

There are quite a few characters, and given my complete lack of knowledge regarding Icelandic names, I found that I quickly got to know the characters and soon recognised them, though I did have a notebook to hand to make a note of them and their roles.  I took my time with this book, it was not a book I sat and read in one go, I do occasionally get books like this, it is almost like I need to read for a couple of hours and stop to digest.  I didn’t find the book too be fast paced, it had some wonderful narrative regarding the area and the people. I think this made it a slower read, but I think this is more a setting up book, but it did speed up a little towards the end. This is a really good setting up book for the series that follows and I am expecting the next ones to be easier to read as I have a prior knowledge  of cast and setting.

I would recommend this book for readers who like or are looking to read Nordic Noir, Crime, Mystery and Thriller genres.  The atmospheric feel of the book has been very well done, with a really good story that hits all the right notes.  After reading this first in the series, I have now ordered the next three, so this is my testament to how much I enjoyed this book, but I am also intrigued as to what comes next.

About the Author:

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Ragnar Jonasson is author of the award winning and international bestselling Dark Iceland series.

His debut Snowblind, first in the Dark Iceland series, went to number one in the Amazon Kindle charts shortly after publication. The book was also a no. 1 Amazon Kindle bestseller in Australia. Snowblind has been a paperback bestseller in France.

Nightblind won the Dead Good Reader Award 2016 for Most Captivating Crime in Translation.

Snowblind was called a “classically crafted whodunit” by THE NEW YORK TIMES, and it was selected by The Independent as one of the best crime novels of 2015 in the UK.

Rights to the Dark Iceland series have been sold to UK, USA, France, Germany, Italy, Canada, Australia, Poland, Turkey, South Korea, Japan, Morocco, Portugal, Croatia, Armenia and Iceland.

Ragnar was born in Reykjavik, Iceland, where he works as a writer and a lawyer. He also teaches copyright law at Reykjavik University and has previously worked on radio and television, including as a TV-news reporter for the Icelandic National Broadcasting Service.

He is also the co-founder of the Reykjavik international crime writing festival Iceland Noir.

From the age of 17, Ragnar translated 14 Agatha Christie novels into Icelandic.

Ragnar has also had short stories published internationally, including in the distinguished Ellery Queen’s Mystery Magazine in the US, the first stories by an Icelandic author in that magazine.

He has appeared on festival panels worldwide, and lives in Reykjavik.

Follow the Author on Website ~ Twitter

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