Monday, 21 September 2020

Little Book of Hope by Louise Hall


Today I'm shining a spotlight on Little Book of Hope by Louise Hall, a lovely little pocket sized book written for the current times we find ourselves in. Thanks to Anne Cater at Random Things Tours for the invitation and to the author for my review copy.



The Blurb

The past few months have made us realise that change is inevitable – sometimes good but sometimes it can be cruel and makes your world go out of control. We might experience anxiety, low moods, night sweats, exhaustion or worse. We lose all hope and feel that there is nothing to look forward to. Little Book of Hope helps you find your way back again – through Reflections to guide you through the difficult times, together with: Family. Friends. Rest. Time - for yourself. Walk. Talk. Cry. Grieve. Meditate. Pray. Accept things. Patience. Dedicated to all those around the world who have lost hard but loved much - that you may re-discover Hope and welcome the beautiful pleasure of joy back into your lives.

Little Book of Hope was published by Peach Publishing on 23 July 2020 and you can purchase it here




The Author

Louise Hall is from Malahide, Co. Dublin. She has previously published two works of non-fiction, Medjugorje: What it Means to Me and Medjugorje and Me: A Collection of Stories from Across the World. Her fiction has been published in The Irish Times and been shortlisted for numerous competitions, such as the RTÉ Guide/Penguin Short Story Award, the Colm Tóibín International Short Story Competition and the Jonathan Swift Creative Writing Awards. Pilgrim is her debut novel.



Author Social Media Links:

Website 

Sunday, 20 September 2020

The Course of Conviction by Cheryl Butler


Today is my stop on the The Course of Conviction blog tour. This book is the middle part of the Obsession Trilogy by Cheryl Butler and I'm delighted to be sharing an exclusive extract featuring one of the main characters, Abbie. My thanks to Emma Welton at damppebbles blog tours for my invitation and to the author for providing the extract. I hope you enjoy it. 



The Blurb

Having responded to Abbie's absence in his own inimitable style, an unexpected reconciliation sees Joe conflicted by a need to seek revenge and a need to seek gratification, but as he wavers between hope and hatred, an unlikely reunion throws all those involved into further turmoil, deepening wounds and threatening fragile minds. Battling for normalcy, accusations and revelations abound until a devastating discovery proves almost fatal. There are lessons to be learned and theories to challenge, but who is really responsible for the endless stream of fear and betrayal? Dark minds and dirty deeds will only cause destruction when obsession knows no bounds. Explicit - strictly 18+ 

The Course of Conviction was published by Little Bee Publishing in digital and paperback formats on 4th June 2020. 


Purchase Links

Amazon UK  
Amazon US  



The Course Of Conviction Excerpt - Abbie 

'Abbie felt as cleansed as the house, having allowed herself the liberty of much conjecture, a myriad of memories and a modicum of unbiased self-evaluation – all comfortable partners to the chores she’d elected to tackle – and whilst the tears were plentiful, they were also soothing and unavoidable if sanity was to endure, but as soon as they emerged, Abbie knew they’d be fleeting, and that knowledge alone made them easier to bear. What remained intolerable, however, was the gravity of her most important task, for she was out of time and excuses, mindful that, no matter what further strategies she devised to defer, the longer she waited, the higher the chance of complicated questions, and life was already too convoluted. Visualising the trauma she was about to inflict, she paced the room, fretful and undecided, but she had no option, and she grabbed a bottle of wine, desperate for it to assist her disclosure. With a glass downed, she summoned the energy to call and finally deliver the bad news, and she received the reaction she’d anticipated and dreaded, crumpling under the weight of her responsibility and the elusion of it. The despondency she’d succumbed to at the hospital was mirrored now by the recipient of her call, and she could do nothing to ease it, acknowledging that her delay in communication had amplified the pain, but she had been incapable of garnering the strength to act sooner. Her apologies were accepted but completely inept, and she cried with her confidante, partly in grief, partly in shame, but mostly for the understanding being tendered – as it always had – for her dilemma. Insisting on settling all costs, a tentative request to be allowed to attend the funeral – but only if it would cause no further distress to Abbie – and anguish coupled with unreserved consideration, broke her heart. Refusing the support would be insulting, and Abbie had no desire to alienate her fellow mourner – he’d provided for her son his entire life, demanding nothing more than subtle inclusion that would not be detected until Abbie felt ready to divulge his affiliation… but that time had never come, and the regret in his voice was insufferable. He vowed to inform no one until after the funeral and pleaded with Abbie to never lose touch; her standing in his life was undiminished by the essence and delay in her imparting such devastating news, and he would continue to assist her in any way possible. 

Ending the call, Abbie collapsed to the floor and sobbed uncontrollably, once again, for her loss, her role in that loss and for the weakness that had prevented her from enlightening her son to his roots. The effects were indeterminable and that had been her concern, but hindsight suggested it would have been no worse than what she faced now, and this was final. 

Seeking solace in the wine bottle, Abbie sipped slowly as she fought to subdue the irrepressible sobs that stole her composure and hope. The temptation to lose herself totally to alcohol had never been greater, but the ensuing repercussions would only intensify the current despondency, and she’d been there before, so she moderated her intake and strived for the serenity she’d experienced earlier, to no avail. Screaming to the empty house, Abbie’s despair continued, but drained by her phone call, she allowed its course, welcoming the exhaustion that allowed temporary alleviation. 

When Abbie woke an hour later, the worst of her misery had passed, leaving a ghost of gloom that could be eradicated with the rejuvenation accorded by sleep and, of course, another glass of wine. Calling Rose to confirm times for the following day, Abbie skipped dinner and sauntered up to bed with her glass and the remainder of wine, capitalising on its soporific effect.' 


The Author:


Having worked in a variety of industries, Cheryl has met many interesting people and, with a profound interest in what makes them tick, she has spent a lifetime of asking ‘What would I do in that situation?’ and ‘What if things happened this way?’, creating a multitude of plots and twists that she had always dismissed until one storyline nagged her constantly and she decided to alleviate herself of the burden, committing her ideas to virtual paper. Assuming she would run out of steam five chapters or so in, she amazed herself by writing two novels within a year and A Proclivity To Prurience was born. It was difficult to write, given the themes, but Cheryl felt it was a story that would resonate in the current climate. Writing between a part-time job and raising two young children was a task in itself, but, every spare minute was spent doing so or thinking about doing so and her characters took on a life of their own. 

Cheryl loves character-driven tales with a psychological edge and aims to produce that kind of work herself, and she’s not afraid to tackle issues that some may find difficult… other than horror – she can’t read or write horror as she scares far too easily! 

Aside from writing and her family, Cheryl’s greatest passion is music and she can easily lose herself in a favourite album or song, rather like she does within a book she’s writing or reading, and a musician’s ability to move you on any level is pure genius. 


Author Social Media Links

Twitter  

Wednesday, 16 September 2020

Containment by Nick Thacker


Today is my stop on the blog tour for Containment by Nick Thacker. My thanks to Noelle Holten at Bookoutre for the invitation and my review copy which I received via Netgalley.



The Blurb:

When there’s nothing left to lose, there’s no limit to what you’ll risk.

Jake Parker’s world collapsed with the violent death of his wife during a police-led raid. In the awful aftermath, he hung up his detective’s badge for good. Now ex-military, ex-police, he has embraced a simple civilian life. But when a deadly new disease begins to threaten American lives, Jake is dragged out of his self-imposed retirement.

When a young family at a remote detention center die from a mysterious illness, Jake is contacted by a government official to launch a covert investigation. An unknown disease has entered the system, causing agonizing death and visible signs of blood pooling beneath the skin, and it seems to be spreading. If Jake can’t get on the ground quickly to eliminate the threat before it becomes an epidemic, countless more innocent lives could be at risk.

With the help of medical professor Eliza Mendoza, Jake heads to the border, but what they uncover there is evidence that this devastating disease is man-made, and part of a calculated plot aimed right at the heart of government. With powerful forces ranged against him, Jake must use all his ingenuity to bring down the ruthless organization behind the attack. Failure is not an option.

A pulse-pounding action thriller from a USA Today bestselling author. Fans of David Baldacci, I Am Pilgrim and Jack Ryan will be gripped.



Buy Links:

Amazon 
Apple 
Kobo 
Google 


My Review:

Given the subject matter, this was a really interesting book to read at this current time when we find ourselves still in the grip of the coronavirus pandemic. I assumed the book had been written before the pandemic began but it is mentioned as a past event. In Containment there is a fear of an unknown disease, possibly a virus, spreading. But what if it's man-made? Could it be biological terrorism? And why? 

A young British family on holiday in Canada get lost and accidentally cross the border into the USA so are taken to an immigration centre, where some of the family become ill. Troubled ex cop Jake Parker has been living a quiet life since a hugely traumatic incident three years earlier. He is approached by the Director of Immigration and Customs Enforcement and asked to look into the case. Initially reluctant, Jake is too intrigued not to get involved. He calls his friend, and ex partner for help who in turn recruits medical expert Dr Eliza Mendoza. The case takes the three of them in directions they never imagined. 

It was hard not to be drawn to Jake. He is, by  circumstances and then choice, a bit of a loner and doesn't find it easy to open up to others. As an ex cop he has a healthy respect for the law but isn't afraid to push things when necessary. I liked Eliza too. A strong, capable, intelligent woman who's not afraid to speak her mind. She's very focused, possibly too focused! 

The story is complex and intelligent, easily kept me turning the pages. There is a lot of science covered. I don't know if it's all correct but it certainly feels authentic and that a lot of research went to it. And the whole premise itself is both gripping and frightening - it's not hard to imagine something similar in real life. Scary. 

Containment is a gripping action thriller with engaging central characters. I didn't expect the story to take the path it did and the conclusion contained a shock or two. I hope to see more Jake Parker from Nick Thacker. 


The Author:


Nick Thacker is the USA Today Bestselling Author of action-adventure thrillers and mysteries, including the Harvey Bennett Thrillers series. Often mentioned as a cross between Clive Cussler and James Rollins, his stories are written in a fast-paced, punchy style.

He lives on a volcano in Hawaii with his wife, two kids, and two dogs.


Author Social Media Links:

Twitter 
Facebook










Sunday, 6 September 2020

Gilding the Lily by Justine John


The blog tour for Gilding the Lily by Justine John has arrived at Suze Reviews... today and I'm happy share my review of this dark family drama. Big thanks to Kelly Lacey at Love Books Tours for the invitation and to the author for my review copy. 



The Blurb:

A gripping mystery of jealousy, murder and lies.

An invitation to her estranged, wealthy father’s surprise 75th birthday party in New York sees Amelia and her husband, Jack, set off across the pond to meet a whole new world of family politics.

Amelia, now a successful businesswoman, feels guilty about never liking her father’s women, so does her upmost to give his new socialite partner, Evelyn, the benefit of the doubt. Wouldn’t it be nice if they could just all get along? But there’s something very dark, determined and dangerous about her…

When Amelia’s father, Roger, becomes ill, Jack grows suspicious that there is more to it. Amelia understands why, but no one else will believe them. They travel back to America to piece together the puzzle, but when Roger goes missing, the couple are driven to their wits' end. It takes a DEA officer and a secret assassin to bring them answers, but the ruthless truth is something no one expected…

Gilding the Lily was published on 24th November 2016 and you can purchase it here



My Review

Since the separation of her parents when she was a teenager Amelia has struggled with her relationship with her father. It hasn't helped that she hasn't got on with his partners since then. But now Roger is turning 75 and his partner Evelyn has organised a lavish party to celebrate. Amelia and husband Jack vow to make an effort to get on better with Evelyn as she obviously makes Roger happy. But that proves much harder than they expected and the birthday celebration is just the beginning of a tense, difficult and dark period in their lives.

I always love to find characters I love to hate, and I found one in Evelyn. I loved her scenes, desperate to see what she would say or do next. I was as much invested in her as I was in any of the characters I liked. And that's down to good writing from J ohn. She has created such a complex, interesting character in Evelyn I couldn't help but be hooked. But I adored Jack, just loved him. A good, solid man absolutely 100% behind his wife. I think he's written just right. He could have come across as almost too good to be true, but he actually reads as a real, decent man full of love and respect for his wife. The characterisation is pretty spot on right across the board - I could easily build up pictures of the whole cast. 

The story itself is dark and twisted. I don't mean scary as such, but it is frightening the power that words can have. Particularly when they're used against someone, to lie or mislead. It shows how one person's actions, good or bad, can impact those around them for years to come. Roger, unwittingly, becomes the centrepoint of a battle of wills and a fight for what's right. And neither Evelyn nor Amelia have any intention of giving in. 

Holding the Lily tells of crumbling family relationships, jealousy, obsession even, lies and misdirection. But it also tells of the power and depth of love. Twists and turns appear throughout the book and they kept me flicking through the pages. The prologue grabs you and pulls you in and the quality of the storytelling keeps you there. I didn't expect the ending, or one or two things that happened in the run up to it and it's great when that happens. A strong debut and a thoroughly enjoyable dark, chilling family drama. And it really made me appreciate my own family relationships!  


The Author

After thirty years in corporate life in London, half of which was running a successful events company, I decided to take a chance to write the novel that was ‘in me’ since I was a child. Gilding the Lily is the result of this and is a domestic noir story which I hope will keep you on the edge of your chair/sofa/bed/train/plane-seat….

You can find out more about Justine by visiting her website




Don't forget to check out all the other fab bloggers on the tour!








Saturday, 29 August 2020

Saint Justice by Mike Grist


Today I'm helping to close off the blog tour for Saint Justice, the first in the Christopher Wren series, by Mike Grist. It's a brutal, action packed, adrenaline ride! My thanks to Emma Welton at damppebbles blog tours for the invitation and to the author for my review copy. 



The Blurb:

Hundreds of human cages hidden in the desert. One man with nothing to lose.

Christopher Wren pulls off I-70 after three weeks on the road and walks into a biker bar in Price, Utah. An arbitrary decision he's about to regret.

The bikers attack Wren, leave him for dead and steal his truck.

Now he's going to get it back.

From a secure warehouse in the desert. Ringed with fences. Filled with human cages.

As Wren digs deeper, a dark national conspiracy unravels and the body count mounts, but one thing is for sure.

They picked the wrong guy to teach a lesson.

Saint Justice was published in paperback, audio and digital formats on 10th June 2019.


Purchase Links
:

Amazon UK 
Amazon US 
Audible 




My Review:

When ex-CIA rogue Christopher Wren goes to steal back his truck from a biker gang, he finds more than he bargained for. In the huge warehouse he finds row upon row of empty cages, each one just big enough to hold a person. Then he discovers that homeless people are going missing from the streets of Chicago. And that is just the beginning... He soon has to call on both his own Foundation and his ex-employers.

I am a little conflicted about Wren but intrigued at the same time. He devotes his life to destroying cults and gangs but has his own Foundation, which seems to be a cross between the AA and a cult itself. The members are all ex criminals and the Foundation generally keeps them on the straight and narrow  but Wren still calls on themto break the law from time to time  in order to help him out. But it is always for the greater good. Wren is a sad man, haunted by demons and we learn a little bit about those as the book progresses. And they are not pretty. 

This is not always an easy read. There are some brutal moments and some really shocking ones too. There is plenty of violence and plenty of bloodshed. Grist does not pull any punches with his writing. But it is an exciting, page turning thriller as Wren uncovers more and more and races to destroy the evil he's up against. The denouement is exciting, violent and bloody, and the reveal shocking. This was a pulse quickening read from beginning to end and I look forward to finding out more about Wren in future books. 



The Author:


Mike Grist is the British/American author of the Christopher Wren thriller series. For 11 years Mike lived in Tokyo, Japan, exploring and photographing the dark side of the city and the country: gangs, cults and abandoned places. Now he writes from London, UK, about rogue DELTA operator Christopher Wren - an anti-hero vigilante who uses his off-book team of ex-cons to bring brutal payback for dark crimes.


Author Social Media Links:

Twitter  
Facebook 
Website

Friday, 28 August 2020

The Library Murders by MR Mackenzie - Q&A with main character Alyssa Clark!

Well the blog tour for MR Mackenzie's The Library Murders may have come to an end but I have an extra treat for you today - an interview with the girl herself, main character Alyssa Clark. And boy, she's not shy about expressing herself! Alyssa is the second of Mackenzie's women (characters, that is!) that I've interviewed - you can read my interview with Dr Anna Scavolini (from In The Silence) here - and neither of them have given me an easy time! 




Firstly, in case you missed my post at the weekend, here's what The Library Murders is all about:

The Blurb:

Alyssa Clark is about to find out that reading really can be murder.

She thought her new job in Thornhill Library would be safe and uneventful. Boring, even. But on her first day at work, a masked gunman storms into the building and blows away every member of staff on duty. Alyssa barely escapes with her life.

The police are satisfied they’ve got their man, but Davy, Alyssa’s colleague and the only other survivor of the massacre, is convinced the real killer is still at large. Alyssa – trying to move on with her life while dealing with traumatic flashbacks and the unwanted advances of an obsessive ex – is sceptical. However, when she stumbles across damning evidence of a cover-up, she agrees to join forces with Davy to help track down the real culprit.

But in her pursuit of the truth, will she find the closure she desperately craves… or provoke the wrath of a killer with unfinished business on his mind?

And do check out my Review.  



And now on to the main event! Just a wee word of warning, Alyssa's language is quite colourful!


Character Interview - Alyssa Clark 

Hi Alyssa, welcome to Suze Reviews and thank you for agreeing to talk to me. I wasn't sure that you would because I read that you weren't very happy with your interview with the Tribune?

Yeah, well, I said I’d give you ten minutes… but I’ll tell ya right now, my dude, if you’re gonna start asking me a bunch of pseudo-psychological mumbo-jumbo about what happened to me – y’know, trying to peer into my soul – then I’ll be out that door before you can say “holy shitballs”.

We can all hear that you're not a native Glaswegian and you're keen to point out that you are not American. So tell us a bit about where you come from.

I mean, I’d rather not, if it’s all the same. I’d only bore both of us into an early grave by talking about it. Let’s just say Littlehaven is the sort of teeny-tiny little town where everyone is someone else’s cousin and where the best future I could look forward to was a lifetime of waiting tables at my folks’ bar. Plus, I don’t know if you’ve ever been to Saskatchewan, but the winters there make the ones in Glasgow seem positively tropical.

And of all the places you could have gone, how did you end up working in a library in sunny Glasgow? 

(Bares teeth) You’re funny. I like you. But seriously, though, it was all about getting as far away from home as possible. And then I found out about the whole ancestry visa thing – cos obviously it makes total sense that I’m automatically entitled to a visa just cos one of my ancestors came over in a dinghy to escape the Highland Clearances or whatever – like, that’s completely not racist at all. But it worked out in my favour so I wasn’t gonna complain about getting to jump the queue, was I? And hey – I was hardly gonna complain about being able to park a whole fricking ocean between myself and the Boomers, now was I?

As for the whole library thing – well, let’s just say I needed to find gainful employment fast or else I’d find myself on a one-way plane back to Saskatchewan, the job came up and I somehow managed to dupe the interview panel into thinking I had something to offer the world of books. Hey – it’s their funeral.

You've got some impressive tattoos there on your arms.. So you want to tell us about them? And are there any that we can't see that you want to tell us about?

There’s not much to tell, really. I know you’re trying to read all sorts of into each and every ink swirl – like, does this one refer to the death of a beloved family pet? Does that one mean I’ve got daddy issues? But the reality is, I just think they look neat. And it’s a way of taking ownership of my own body, y’know? Like, changing it into something new and original ’stead of just accepting what nature gave me. As for ones you can’t see, are you some sort of perv?

OK, moving swiftly on. You're a bit of a video game whizz, aren't you? Is that how you relax? I think your game of choice is Super Smash Bros. What's your high score?

Eh, it’s a cool game, I s’pose, but to be honest my friends enjoy it a bunch more than I do. Great for couch co-op, but to be honest there’s only so much candy-coloured platforms and kerpow-splat sound effects I can take. If I really wanna work off some tension, I’ll fire up the Xbox and play some Left 4 Dead. Nothing quite beats blowing holes in zombie skulls to wind down after a hard day’s work.

You work in a library but are you a reader? What reading material is on your bedside table?

Just between us, before I started working at Thornhill Library, I hadn’t cracked a book since finishing high school. I’ve just never been much of a reader, y’know? ’Cept graphic novels. Those I can get into. Guess it’s cos there’s pictures ‘n’ shit ’stead of just walls of text. Heh, you probably think that’s dead low brow, but you’d be surprised. A lot of them deal with some heavy, heavy themes. Like, Transmetropolitan? Came out in 1997; totally predicted half the shit that’s going down in America right now.

It's fair to say you had a traumatic first day at work in Thornhill Library. How did ' The Event' affect you?

It didn’t. Not at all. I wish people would stop making out it’s some sort of a big deal. It’s just something that happened. I got shot. I lived. The others didn’t. End of. Next question.

I felt you went on a bit of a personal journey (sorry!) after The Event . Would you agree with that?

If, by “personal journey”, you mean that people won’t stop asking me what it was like and how it affected me mentally, physically and spiritually, then yeah, sure, one hundred percent. You know I’ve actually had people ask me if my life flashed before my eyes? I mean, how fricking clichéd can you get? But no, I don’t think I went on a personal journey. I’m exactly the same person as I was before that fruit loop pointed his gun in my face and opened fire – ’cept with a hole in the side of my head.

If The Library Murders was made into a film, who would play you? And what about Davy, Metcalfe and Tony Barbarossa?

Oh man, don’t even. A film about me? That’s like my worst nightmare. Knowing my luck, they’d cast some bottle-blonde LA floozy as me, die her hair black, paint some fake tattoos on her and call that doing me justice. Plus they’d rewrite what happened to make me all weepy and fragile and emotional, and give me a happy ending where I face my inner demons and find true love or whatever. If they wanna make a film about it, they can damn well write me out of it. Give the starring role to Davy instead. He’d love it. Fact, he’d probably wanna play himself – and to be honest he probably should. I can’t think of anyone else who’s annoying enough to capture his essence.

And Barbarossa? Man’s a fricking force of nature. I doubt there’s anyone in Hollywood who’d even come close to matching his presence. Or who’s tall enough. I mean, have you ever looked up actors’ heights on IMDB or whatever? They’re all midgets! Sorry – little people. Seriously, I reckon they’d have to do all that “forced perspective” shit they did in the Lord of the Rings films. That, or cast a bunch of dwarfs to play everyone else.

And a couple of fun (I hope) questions to finish on.

You're on a desert island. You can take one essential item, one luxury item and one book. What would they be?


Essential item: my computer (and a fibre optic broadband connection)

Luxury item: like, I probably shouldn’t be saying this, but probably a really good vibrator, to make up for all the sex I won’t be having while I’m stranded

Book: why, The Library Murders, of course. ( ͡° ͜ʖ ͡°)

And finally, what would your spirit animal be?

Guess I’m gonna have to be honest and say a porcupine.

Actually, one extra question - is there anything you expected me to ask but I didn't? And what is the answer?

I’m amazed you got through the whole interview without asking me if my life flashed before my eyes when… you know. And it’s a good thing thing you didn’t, cos my answer would’ve got us both thrown off the internet.

Thanks so much, Alyssa, for dropping by. I hope this wasn't too awful and cringy for you, but I really think it's helped us to get to know you better. Thank you.

No, thank you. Makes a change from stamping books and helping bozos reset their email passwords.


Well, reader, I hope that gives you a feel for Alyssa and it has intrigued you enough to have a wee peak at the book. You can purchase from: 
Paperback (Amazon)
Signed paperback (via Gumroad)


And finally, the man behind it all!

The Author

MR Mackenzie (centre) at Bloody Scotland 2019 with fellow authors Gordon Brown & Allan Martin
MR Mackenzie (centre) on stage at Bloody Scotland 2019 with fellow authors Gordon Brown & Allan Martin

MR Mackenzie was born and lives in Glasgow, Scotland. He studied at Glasgow University and has an MA in English and a PhD in Film Studies.

In addition to writing, he works as a Blu-ray/DVD producer and has overseen releases of films by a number of acclaimed directors, among them Dario Argento, Joe Dante, Hideo Nakata and Jacques Tourneur. Writing as Michael Mackenzie, he has contributed chapters to books on cult cinema and regularly provides video essays and liner notes for new releases of celebrated films. He used to work in a library, before leaving to spend more time with books.

In 2019, his first novel, In the Silence, was shortlisted for the Bloody Scotland Scottish Crime Debut of the Year and longlisted for the McIlvanney Prize.



Sunday, 23 August 2020

The Library Murders by MR Mackenzie

Author MR Mackenzie has taken a break from his Anna Scavolini series to write this standalone Glasgow-set crime novel, and I'm delighted to share my review for the blog tour. Huge thanks to Heather Fitt at Overview Media for the invitation and to the author for my review copy.



The Blurb:

An immersive slow burn, peppered with disquieting fire-crackers of revelation.’ – Morgan Cry

Alyssa Clark is about to find out that reading really can be murder.

She thought her new job in Thornhill Library would be safe and uneventful. Boring, even. But on her first day at work, a masked gunman storms into the building and blows away every member of staff on duty. Alyssa barely escapes with her life.

The police are satisfied they’ve got their man, but Davy, Alyssa’s colleague and the only other survivor of the massacre, is convinced the real killer is still at large. Alyssa – trying to move on with her life while dealing with traumatic flashbacks and the unwanted advances of an obsessive ex – is sceptical. However, when she stumbles across damning evidence of a cover-up, she agrees to join forces with Davy to help track down the real culprit.

But in her pursuit of the truth, will she find the closure she desperately craves… or provoke the wrath of a killer with unfinished business on his mind?

If you like twists, turns and compelling, conflicted characters, you’ll love this gripping new mystery from the McIlvanney Prize-nominated author of In the Silence.

The Library Murders was published by Mad House on 20th August 2020.





My Review:

I was lucky enough to get an early read of this and knew then it was a winner. A recent re-read confirmed that, and the few changes that have been made have only improved it. This is a standalone which sees Mackenzie taking a break from his Anna Scavolini series (see my review of McIlvanney Prize longlisted In The Silence here) but for Anna fans she makes the briefest blink-and-you-miss-it cameo here, and will be back properly in Mackenzie's next book, The Shadow Men. The Library Murders sounds like it should be a cosy mystery and there are elements of that here - the amateur sleuth and sidekick, the library setting - but it doesn't read as cosy crime, which for my personal taste is a good thing.

Alyssa Clark, a young Canadian living in Glasgow, turns up late and hungover for her first shift at Thornhill Library. Fifteen minutes after she arrives a gunman enters the library and shoots all the members of staff, Alyssa included. She survives, and together with colleague Davy, seeks the truth behind the event, convinced that the police are looking in the wrong direction. 

Alyssa is not an easy woman to like! She's prickly, brash, abrupt and selfish. But 'The Event' helps her look at things a little differently as she struggles with previously absent anxiety and paranoia in the aftermath of the shooting. We also learn where much of her anger and guilt come from later in the book. But whilst she's not easy to like, at least initially, she is a fabulously written character. Mackenzie seemingly writes young women (see also Anna and Zoe in previous books) with such ease it's slightly alarming! 😂 Alyssa comes across as completely authentic, beautifully drawn and described. The author has had some fun with her dialogue too, a favourite of mine being 'my dude'. She goes on a bit of a journey (sorry!) in this book, and by the end of it she was someone I'd happily go for a beer with. 

But Alyssa is not the only player here. There is a cast of colourful characters here, mainly, but certainly not all, library employees and customers. All different, individual but all rounded and whole. Davy and Metcalfe deserve a mention as does Benny, the latter being a more minor character but one who really stood out for me. Mackenzie has clearly enjoyed himself creating these characters with one or two being larger than life, but we'll all recognise someone we've known, lived next door to, worked with or whatever amongst them. The dialogue between them all is fantastic - lots of Glasgow banter and slang here, all very natural. 

As I hinted earlier the story is not cosy. The after effects of the opening incident for Alyssa are vividly described, as are the murders themselves. As in every good mystery there are a few red herrings and dead ends and the whole story is shot through with a wry humour. Mackenzie's writing is beautiful, almost lyrical in places, although my personal highlight is a little more low brow! 😂 He contracts 'For f**k's sake' into 'F**ksake' and then uses it as a verb which I just loved! Genius! But believe me when I say the writing is superb. 

The Library Murders is a joy to read - an intelligent, often humorous, well crafted crime thriller which will keep you turning the pages. And it touches on some serious issues such as loneliness, anxiety and guilt. But murder, blood and shattered glasses aside, it's a bit of a love letter to libraries and librarians, which given that the author was one himself until recently perhaps shouldn't come as a surprise. And we all need reminded of the importance of libraries. This book comes highly recommended - go get it! 


The Author


MR Mackenzie was born and lives in Glasgow, Scotland. He studied at Glasgow University and has an MA in English and a PhD in Film Studies.

In addition to writing, he works as a Blu-ray/DVD producer and has overseen releases of films by a number of acclaimed directors, among them Dario Argento, Joe Dante, Hideo Nakata and Jacques Tourneur. Writing as Michael Mackenzie, he has contributed chapters to books on cult cinema and regularly provides video essays and liner notes for new releases of celebrated films. He used to work in a library, before leaving to spend more time with books.

In 2019, his first novel, In the Silence, was shortlisted for the Bloody Scotland Scottish Crime Debut of the Year and longlisted for the McIlvanney Prize.

'With well observed characterisation, MR Mackenzie writes with precision and passion. He is a writer to watch.' — Caro Ramsay, author of the Anderson & Costello thrillers

'Mackenzie brings a fresh new voice to the field of Tartan Noir.' — James Oswald, author of the Inspector McLean novels

'MR Mackenzie is right up there with the best contemporary authors working today. His prose is of such high-quality that I am instantly addicted to the words on his pages.' — David B. Lyons, author of Whatever Happened to Betsy Blake?

'This is splendidly written stuff, triumphing in a variety of areas – not least that of its dialogue, which is idiomatic and vivid (overcoming the hurdle at which many contemporary crime novels fall).' — Barry Forshaw, Crime Time


Author Social Media Links





Little Book of Hope by Louise Hall

Today I'm shining a spotlight on Little Book of Hope by Louise Hall, a lovely little pocket sized book written for the current times we ...