Monday, 29 April 2019

Twisted by Steve Cavanagh


I'm thrilled to be taking part in the epic blog tour for Steve Cavanagh's new standalone, Twisted. Sharing the stop with me today is Amanda at My Bookish Blog Spot, so do check her out. You can find other tour contributions on Twitter by searching #ThisBookIsTwisted. Big thanks to Tracy Fenton for inviting me on the tour and Orion for my review copy which I received via Netgalley. I subsequently bought a paperback copy.



The Blurb:

FROM THE BESTSELLING AUTHOR OF THIRTEEN

'This guy is the real deal. Trust me.' Lee Child

BEFORE YOU READ THIS BOOK
I WANT YOU TO KNOW THREE THINGS:

1. The police are looking to charge me with murder.
2. No one knows who I am. Or how I did it.
3. If you think you've found me. I'm coming for you next.

After you've read this book, you'll know: the truth is far more twisted...


Twisted was published by Orion on 4th April 2019 and you can purchase it from Waterstones, Amazon and other good bookshops. 



My Review:

I was already a fan of Cavanagh, having read a couple of the Eddie Flynn books (the other two or in my TBR pile), so I was keen to read this standalone, which isn't a legal thriller and doesn't feature Flynn (although he does get a name check). I had heard a lot of things about Twisted, all good, and a fantastic, inventive social media campaign, organised by the author's wife, promoted the book widely. 

My problem is this - how do I review a book that's impossible to review?! Mind blown! #MushyBrain.

Ok, I'll give it a go. Trouble is, I can tell you almost nothing about the book because I don't want to spoil anything.

J T Le Beau is a best selling, award winning author. He, or she, has sold millions of books worldwide. Phenomenally successful. But nobody knows who J T Le Beau is. Not even his/her publisher. No book signings, no public appearances, not even a photograph. Ever. Rumours are rife. But one woman thinks she might know...

And that's all I can tell you.

Never has a book been more aptly titled. We often describe a book as having a killer twist, but Twisted is just one big twisty turny journey of killer twists. There were so many times I was 'What?', 'No!', 'Really?', and SO MANY 'OMG!'s. You can't trust anyone in the book - you start off thinking one thing about them and then that completely changes! I thought I had it more than once, but I so hadn't. You can see why I have #mushybrain!

I have never read a book like this before. That's why it's so hard to describe. It's definitely Twisted, no doubt about that. It's pretty  bloody in places too. And it's a masterpiece. Steve Cavanagh has achieved something extraordinary here, and I can't wait to see what's next from him!


The Author:


Steve Cavanagh was born and raised in Belfast before leaving for Dublin at the age of eighteen to study Law. He currently practices civil rights law and has been involved in several high profile cases; in 2010 he represented a factory worker who suffered racial abuse in the workplace and won the largest award of damages for race discrimination in Northern Ireland legal history. He holds a certificate in Advanced Advocacy and lectures on various legal subjects (but really he just likes to tell jokes). He is married with two young children.



Tuesday, 23 April 2019

Call Me Star Girl by Louise Beech

I'm so excited to be taking part in the blog tour for this book by the gorgeous Louise Beech. This was actually the first of her books I had read, although I have all her other ones on my TBR pile - I just haven't had the time yet! A huge thanks to Anne Cater at Random Things Blog Tours and Karen Sullivan of Orenda Books for my review ebook.



The Blurb:

Pregnant Victoria Valbon was brutally murdered in an alley three weeks ago – and her killer hasn’t been caught.

Tonight is Stella McKeever’s final radio show. The theme is secrets. You tell her yours, and she’ll share some of hers.

Stella might tell you about Tom, a boyfriend who likes to play games, about the mother who abandoned her, now back after twelve years. She might tell you about the perfume bottle with the star-shaped stopper, or about her father …

What Stella really wants to know is more about the mysterious man calling the station … who says he knows who killed Victoria, and has proof.

Tonight is the night for secrets, and Stella wants to know everything…

With echoes of the chilling Play Misty for Me, Call Me Star Girl is a taut, emotive and all-consuming psychological thriller that plays on our deepest fears, providing a stark reminder that stirring up dark secrets from the past can be deadly…


Call Me Star Girl was published by Orenda Books on 18th April 2019 and you can purchase it from Waterstones and Amazon.


My Review:

Oh gosh, where to start? As I mentioned above, this is my first Louise Beech book, but I had only seen praise and positive reviews for her other work, so I was excited to read this one. And I wasn't disappointed.

Stella is doing her last late night show at the local radio stay and focusing on secrets. She encourages listeners to phone in with their secrets and in return she'll share some of hers. And she has a few. The news bulletins she plays are still full of Victoria Valbon, a young pregnant woman murdered three wee earlier, and whose killer still hasn't been caught.

Stella really wants to hear from the man who has been calling her for a while, saying he knows what happened to Victoria.  Is he the same man she's seen lurking around the station? And who left Stella a book with a note saying 'This will explain everything ", and what does it mean?

And she has so much else on her mind. She's worried about her relationship with Tom, whom she loves deeply. Her mother, who deserted Stella when she was twelve leaving a note telling her to go to the next door neighbour, is back in her life. Will she find out who her father is? And she has lost her treasured bottle of perfume.

The story is told in the first person by Stella, and her mother Elisabeth, jumping between 'now' and 'then' as we learn more, bit by bit, about what brought Stella to this point. I really enjoyed this - a little bit from the present, then a wee piece from the past, helping us to build up a picture.

Stella is such an interesting character. Despite her mother leaving, and never knowing her father, she has made a success of her life. But she carries within her a deep sadness, stemming from her mother's desertion. That has also left her with a slightly skewed idea of what love is - that her mother left because Stella was boring, or didn't prove her love enough. She seeks solace in the stars. After all, her name means star, and her most treasured possession is a perfume bottle with a heart shaped stopper.

I wasn't sure what to make of Tom. He seems a decent chap, who clearly adores Stella, but he has some dark ideas of fun, and seems to have secrets of his own. I have to say, I disliked Elizabeth from the get go. The decision she took, and the reason she made it...just no. But it's the fact that everything is so well described that made me feel that way.

Stella is exquisitely written. In fact, the whole book is - there's not a wasted word. It's full of heart and emotion, but not without its shocks. Oh, there are some moments where my heart was in my mouth.

All Stella's 'now' scenes are set in the radio station, which is deserted apart from her. It's late at night, it's dark, claustrophobic and downright spooky. I actually shivered reading some of the scenes. The final few chapters were shocking and unexpected and the last two short ones, are both beautiful and heart breaking.

There is so much I want to say but dare not, for fear of revealing too much. This is a beautifully written gem that you need to discover for yourself. This is Louise's first psychological thriller, and she has done a fine job. It's a beautifully written piece on love, loss, sadness, obsession, secrets and heartache. Not to be missed.


The Author:


Louise Beech is an exceptional literary talent, whose debut novel How To Be Brave was a Guardian Readers’ Choice for 2015. The follow-up, The Mountain in My Shoe was shortlisted for Not the Booker Prize. Both of her previous books Maria in the Moon and The Lion Tamer Who Lost were widely reviewed, critically acclaimed and number-one bestsellers on Kindle. The Lion Tamer Who Lost was shortlisted for the RNA Most Popular Romantic Novel Award in 2019. 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 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.

Thursday, 18 April 2019

What She Saw Last Night by MJ Cross - Review

It's finally here! A huge happy publication day to MJ Cross for the brilliant What She Saw Last Night. To mark the occasion, and round up my wee focus on the book, I'm delighted to share my review of the book, together with the book information.

Elsewhere on the blog, you can find a guest post from the author, an edited extract, and a fab wee Q&A with Mason.



The Blurb:

No one will believe ... WHAT SHE SAW LAST NIGHT.

Jenny Bowen is going home. Boarding the Caledonian Sleeper, all she wants to do is forget about her upcoming divorce and relax on the ten hour journey through the night.

In her search for her cabin, Jenny helps a panicked woman with a young girl she assumes to be her daughter. Then she finds her compartment and falls straight to sleep.

Waking in the night, Jenny discovers the woman dead in her cabin ... but there's no sign of the little girl. The train company have no record of a child being booked on the train, and CCTV shows the dead woman boarding alone.

The police don't believe Jenny, and soon she tries to put the incident out of her head and tells herself that everyone else is right: she must have imagined the little girl.

But deep down, she knows that isn't the truth.

What She Saw Last Night is published today by Orion Publishing, and can be purchased from Waterstones and Amazon.




My Review:

I have long been a fan of MJ Cross, and his Carter Blake series which he wrote as Mason Cross. You can click through to read my reviews of The Killing Season and Presumed Dead, books 1 and 5 in the series. The others have all been read, but not yet reviewed. In fact, it was an appearance of his at Bloody Scotland, and my subsequent reading of The Killing Season and The Samaritan that reignited my passion for books, and particularly crime and psychological thrillers. So a big thank you to Mason - don't think I've ever told him that

So I was excited, and a little bit nervous, to hear he was going to be writing a standalone book, far away from the world of Carter Blake, and set back in the UK. I needn't have worried. What She Saw Last Night is very different from the Carter Blake books, but just as good.

Jenny Bowen is travelling back to Scotland from London on the Caledonian Sleeper, following the recent death of her father. Waking in the night to use the bathroom, she finds the young woman two compartments along lying dead, but can't see the little girl who had been with her when Jenny boarded. It turns out there is no record or CCTV coverage of the little girl, who just seemed to have vanished into thin air. Neither the railway staff nor the police believe Jenny, and think she must be mistaken.

She tries to believe them, tries to forget about the little girl and get on with things in Scotland. But she can't. Just can't. She has to know what happened. So, with very little information, she begins to investigate on her own. But it turns out that she might have an ally in the police after all. Which might just come in handy...

Jenny is brilliant. She's just an ordinary woman who ends up in an extraordinary position. It could be you or I. I've spent a lot of time thinking about that since I read this. What would I have done in Jenny's position? Would I have chased after the truth? I'd like to think so, but I'm really not sure... But Jenny is determined, tenacious and thorough. Brave too. She's a great protagonist, and beautifully written.

From the other key players, Mike Fletcher deserves a mention. A straight up, dependable guy with a nightmare of a boss, he can sense when something's not quite right. And Klenmore is an enigma that we know little about. Both are well written characters, as are all of the cast.

Scene setting is, of course, very important, and Cross does it very well. He has clearly researched the Caledonian Sleeper and it was easy to picture in my mind. As was the busyness of London (a place I don't know well) and the isolation of the house up in Inverkiln.

The book is beautifully paced. It's a bit like riding a train, which sets of at a steady rate, before speeding up and hurtling towards it's final destination. Well, not quite like that, but I'm trying to stick with the train thing! Certainly the ending is full of tension and action, but there are also a couple of heart stopping moments along the way, as Jenny's questions open up a whole can of worms.

So, What She Saw Last Night isn't necessarily action filled in a traditional way, ie. guns blazing, doors being kicked in, etc, there is plenty going on, and I raced through it in a day. It's a  character driven thriller, with a hugely believable and relatable protagonist and strong supporting players. And unusual and cracking story line. An absolute winner from MJ Cross ( who will always be Mason to me, I'm afraid)! And it needs to be made into a movie!.


The Author:


MJ Cross is a British novelist. Writing as Mason Cross his debut novel The Killing Season was longlisted for the Theakstons Old Peculier Crime Book of the Year 2015. His second novel, The Samaritan, also featuring his inimitable lead character Carter Blake, was selected as a Richard & Judy Book Club pick. Mason has written a number of short stories, including A Living, which was shortlisted for the Quick Reads 'Get Britain Reading' Award and 'Expiry Date', published in Ellery Queen. He lives near Glasgow with his wife and three children.

Mason’s most recent Carter Blake novel, Presumed Dead, was longlisted for the McIlvanney Prize 2018.

To sign up for the Mason Cross Readers Club for updates and exclusive giveaways, go to masoncross.net/readers-club

Find out more at www.masoncross.net

The Ringmaster by Vanda Symon

Following on from yesterday's post (see my review of Overkill here), I'm delighted to share my review of The Ringmaster by Vanda Symon, the second book in the Sam Shephard series. Huge thanks to Anne Cater for inviting me on to the blog tour, and to Karen Sullivan at Orenda Books for my review copy.



The Blurb:

Death is stalking the South Island of New Zealand…
Marginalised by previous antics, Sam Shephard, is on the bottom rung of detective training in Dunedin, and her boss makes sure she knows it. She gets involved in her first homicide investigation, when a university student is murdered in the Botanic Gardens, and Sam soon discovers this is not an isolated incident. There is a chilling prospect of a predator loose in Dunedin, and a very strong possibility that the deaths are linked to a visiting circus…

Determined to find out who’s running the show, and to prove herself, Sam throws herself into an investigation that can have only one ending…

Rich with atmosphere, humour and a dark, shocking plot, The Ringmaster marks the return of passionate, headstrong police officer, Sam Shephard, in the next instalment of Vanda Symon’s bestselling series.


The Ringmaster was published by Orenda Books on 18th February 2019 and you can buy it from Waterstones and Amazon.


My Review:

I read The Ringmaster straight after the first book in the series, Overkill (review here), and enjoyed the continuation. However, this also works perfectly well as a standalone, and everything you need to know from the back story is covered.

Following the events of the first book, Sam has left Mataura and moved to Dunedin, where she is training to be a detective. Unfortunately, her boss is someone she crossed paths and swords with in the first book, and he seems to have it in for her. On the plus side, Sam is still living with Maggie, but now in Maggie's aunt and uncle's house, enjoying home comforts and delicious meals.

Following the murder of a young woman, Sam is given the menial task of looking at previous unsolved murders across the country. Through this, she discovers various cases took place just when the circus was in town. The same circus that has just rolled into Dunedin...

The thing I love about Sam is how real and relatable she is. She's emotional, angry when she needs to be, passionate about getting to the truth, and very determined. Her personality just shines from the pages. As with Overkill, it was her emotional moments that touched me most - a real character study that you don't always see in crime novels. The scenes with Cassie, the circus elephant, made me cry, and I can still visualise the scene now, days later. It's as if I was watching it on the newsreel with those in the story.  Similarly, some of the scenes with the circus owner, a man Sam initially dislikes, are very touching.

I was glad to see Maggie is still there, cheering Sam on, together with her aunt and uncle, who have adopted Sam into the family. Her colleague Smithy is a great character, a straight up solid guy, who supports Sam whenever he can. And Paul Frost, a former colleague from Mataura, turns out to be more of a support than Sam expected. All these support characters, and others not mentioned here, are all well drawn, fleshed out individuals, who inhabit the story, give it colour and help to make it believable.

I found the pace of this one to be quicker than in Overkill, which was more brooding. Here, alongside the on going murder investigation, there are various shenanigans going on at the circus, which help to keep the action moving along. There are a few false turns in the investigation, and the shocking conclusion was a complete surprise to me. And I always like that.

A hugely enjoyable crime thriller, with a fabulous main character, and  a story that's shocking, yes, but also full of emotion and heart. I can't wait to see what Sam gets up to next!


The Author:


Vanda Symon is a crime writer, TV presenter and radio host from Dunedin, New Zealand, and the chair of the Otago Southland branch of the New Zealand Society of Authors. The Sam Shephard series has climbed to number one on the New Zealand bestseller list, and also been shortlisted for the Ngaio Marsh Award for best crime novel. She currently lives in Dunedin, with her husband and two sons.

Wednesday, 17 April 2019

Overkill by Vanda Symon

I'm always excited to be invited on to an Orenda Books blog tour, and so jumped at the chance to be on the one for The Ringmaster by Vanda Symon - my stop is tomorrow. But as that is the second in a series, I wanted to read the one before. So welcome to my review of Overkill, The first Sam Shephard book.



The Blurb:

When the body of a young mother is found washed up on the banks of the Mataura River, a small rural community is rocked by her tragic suicide. But all is not what it seems.

Sam Shephard, sole-charge police constable in Mataura, soon discovers the death was no suicide and has to face the realisation that there is a killer in town. To complicate the situation, the murdered woman was the wife of her former lover. When Sam finds herself on the list of suspects and suspended from duty, she must cast aside her personal feelings and take matters into her own hands.

To find the murderer … and clear her name.

A taut, atmospheric and page-turning thriller, Overkill marks the start of an unputdownable and unforgettable series from one of New Zealand’s finest crime writers.

Overkill was published by Orenda Books on 30th June 2018 and you can buy it from Waterstones or  Amazon.


My Review:

In the small town of Mataura in New Zealand, the death of a young woman is the biggest case Sam Shephard has had to deal with. And although she does a great job by the book , she is still sidelined, and worse, when the big boys come to town. But as well as wanting to clear her own name, she wants to do right by the dead woman, and so she keeps fighting.

I loved Sam! She's a little powerhouse. She's real, believable and very likeable. But she's not nearly as tough as she tries to make out, and her emotional side often comes out. Her reactions to being suspended, and to other things that happen to her, are very real and my heart went out to her. And her lingering love for Lockie was touching and real. Been there, done that.

Maggie is marvellous! Sarcastic, funny, sensible, hugely supportive of Sam and her biggest cheerleader. She's the best friend that everyone needs. Another supporting character I developed an affection for was Cole, who tried to support  everyone! But he had his own secrets...

This was a slow burner of a book. It's steadily paced, very much focusing on the story, characters and setting. Towards the end, the pace picks up as it moves towards the shocking finale. The story was sufficiently complex to hold my interest, with a few red herrings thrown in, and had clearly been well researched. But it's very much a story of people, relationships, emotions and trust, all wrapped up in the life of a small town. I'm really looking forward to the next book!



The Author:


Vanda Symon is a crime writer, TV presenter and radio host from Dunedin, New Zealand, and the chair of the Otago Southland branch of the New Zealand Society of Authors. The Sam Shephard series has climbed to number one on the New Zealand bestseller list, and also been shortlisted for the Ngaio Marsh Award for best crime novel. She currently lives in Dunedin, with her husband and two sons.


Join me tomorrow for my review of the second Sam Shephard book, The Ringmaster. 



What She Saw Last Night by MJ Cross - Q&A

With just one day now to go til the publication of What She Saw Last Night, I'm delighted to welcome author MJ Cross back to the blog for a very gentle grilling.

Just a wee note in case some of you don't know (where have you been?), What She Saw Last Night is Mason's sixth book. His first five were all part of the Carter Blake series.



Q&A:

Hi Mason, it's great to have you back on the blog! Let's get started!

Now you know my feelings on this subject, but for those of us who know you as Mason Cross, why is there the slight change for the new book to MJ Cross?
- The biggest reason was just to signpost that this was a standalone, and not part of the Carter Blake series. It felt like a slightly different kind of thriller, so it made sense to have a slightly different byline.

Prior to this you had written five books in the Carter Blake series. Why did you choose to write an unrelated standalone this time?
- I've always had ideas for other books that didn't fit into the Carter Blake universe (so to speak), and this was one of them. A lot of my favourite authors mix standalone and series books, so I had always wanted to do that too. Five Carter Blake books in felt like a good time to do something different.

The previous books were set in the US. Why did you head back over here for this one?
- Basically, just to see if I could. I always get asked about writing something set closer to home, and this was a book that I knew would work really well here, using the real-life sleeper train from London to Scotland. I also thought the research might be easier, but I had to Google just as much!

Your protagonist in this one is a woman. Of course, all your books have featured strong women in prominent roles, although not as the central character. What I found interesting here is that Jenny Bowen is just an ordinary person. She's not a police officer, private investigator, photographer, journalist or any other professional we might expect to be around a crime. I take it this was a deliberate choice? Why?
- Again, I've always loved books where it's just a normal person thrown into a mysterious or dangerous situation. Harlan Coben and Linwood Barclay are both fantastic at this kind of thing, and I've wanted to write something in that vein for a long time. The female point-of-view characters in the Blake books tend to be more "normal" than either Blake or his antagonists, so it didn't feel like I was doing something radically different, just promoting the everyday character to the lead.

If your book made it big and onto the screen, name three songs that would be on the soundtrack (shamelessly stolen from Twitter, OP was DM Siciliano)
- Ooh great question... Okay, for this book:

  • Midnight Train to Georgia - Gladys Knight & the Pips. Because it's about a midnight train, and someone leaving the big city to go home, and besides, it's just a fantastic song.
  • The Outdoor Type - Evan Dando. In the book, Jenny listens to singer-songwriters like Ryan Adams, Elliott Smith etc. In that vein, this is a great song about a guy who lies about being outdoorsy to get a girl. It also fits in with the last act a little bit.
  • Score from Psycho - Bernard Herrmann. The book obviously owes a debt to Hitchcock, and I listened to Herrmann's scores for Vertigo, Psycho and North by Northwest while I was writing it. I'm thinking specifically the part of the Psycho score where Marion Crane is fleeing Phoenix with the stolen money and driving towards her fate at the Bates Motel. 


Do you listen to music when you write and if so, what? Does it change depending on the kind of scene you're writing?
- As above - film scores, or jazz or classical. I have to listen to stuff with no lyrics otherwise I can't concentrate on the words I'm writing. Other film composers I like to write to include John Barry, John Williams, Jerry Goldsmith, Lalo Schifrin and James Horner. Coleman Hawkins, Miles Davis and John Coltrane are great jazz musicians to write to when I'm in a Harry Bosch mood.  

What books are on your bedside table just now?
- I've just started Haylen Beck's Lost You, which is excellent, and next up is Rewind by Catherine Ryan Howard and Marked for Death by Tony Kent. 

And, finally, what's next for you? Carter Blake 6?

- Not just yet! I have another standalone in the works for next year, but this one will be set across the pond again, in San Francisco this time. 

Brilliant! Thanks so much for taking the time to answer my questions - it's always great to hear a bit from behind the scenes, so to speak. Thanks again.



Tomorrow is publication day! To mark the occasion, I'll be rounding off this wee series with my review. In the meantime, you can find a guest post from Mason, together with the full book details here, and a fabulous edited extract from Chapter 2 here.

See you tomorrow! x


Tuesday, 16 April 2019

What She Saw Last Night by MJ Cross - Excerpt

Today, I'm continuing with my wee focus on What She Saw Last Night, the brilliant new book by MJ Cross (Mason Cross). It will be published by Orion on 18th April 2019 - just two days time - but you can pre order it now from Waterstones and Amazon.


I'm thrilled to be sharing this edited (by the author) extract from Chapter 2, where we find main character Jenny on the Caledonian Sleeper.


Excerpt:

    Jenny looked up at the plastic cup of water that the guard was holding in front of her face. 

    She shrugged and took a sip. At least it was cold, unlike the bottle of water in her room. Christ, that had been ten minutes ago, it seemed like ten years. Talk about waking up in a different place.

    Everything had been a blur since the moment she had opened the door to the neighbouring room on the sleeper. Trying to rouse the woman, checking for a pulse, before turning and running along the corridor; almost colliding with the staff member coming in the opposite direction. 

   Every time she closed her eyes she saw the face of the dead woman. 

   Jenny hadn’t seen many dead bodies in her time, only her grandmother, but she knew the woman was gone before she felt for a pulse. She tried not to look at the belt around the arm, the spent needle lying by her right hand. The track marks. Her skin hadn’t been all the way cold yet. 

   “Police are on their way,” the guard said, adding a strained smile as an afterthought. Jenny supposed it was a comforting thought for him. Right now, he was in charge of the situation, like it or not. The sooner he could hand it over to someone else, the better. “I’m Colin, by the way.”

   “Jenny,” she replied automatically.

   They were in a small room at the end of the carriage. The door was open, so she could hear hushed voices outside as the other guards asked passengers to stay behind their own doors.

   The sky was getting lighter. Through the window, she could see a stretch of open ground before a thick forest, a shroud of mist lingering above the ground, mountains on the horizon. 

   She started to speak and had to clear her throat first.

   “Where are we?”

   “Five miles south of Rannoch,” Colin answered immediately. On more confident territory now.

   “Why are we stopped?” 

   “Scheduled. We always stop here for a few minutes.” He consulted his watch. “Longer today, now. The passengers will be starting to wonder.” He shook his head. “What a waste, eh?”

   Jenny nodded.

   “What makes someone do that? Put that . . . rubbish in their arm?” He looked somewhere between bewildered and angry.
   
   “I don’t know. A lot of things, I suppose.” She thought about the desperate look she’d seen in the woman’s eyes last night. 
   
   Colin shook his head again. “Silly girl.”

   Girl. The word sparked a memory. The woman hadn’t been alone last night. Jenny felt an almost physical jolt at the realisation that the little girl with the brown hair and the stuffed rabbit was now an orphan. 

   But the girl hadn’t been in the room with the body. Had she gone to get help?

   “Is her kid all right?” Jenny asked, the shock starting to settle into a dull ache in her stomach. “I mean, someone else is with her, right?”

   Colin’s brow creased, and he studied Jenny’s face.

   “What?”

   “The girl in her room. Six or seven, dark hair.”
   
   Her question hung in the air for a long moment. Before he spoke the three words, Jenny knew exactly what he was going to say.

   “What little girl?”


What about that then? I bet you're all dying to know what's going on! I certainly was.


You can find the full book details and the guest post from Mason here, and a fab wee Q&A with him here. My review will be up on Thursday, publication day!

Our Life in a Day by Jamie Fewery

Today is my stop on the blog tour for this, the debut novel from Jamie Fewery. I laughed and I cried. Big thanks to Tracy Fenton for inviting me to take part and to the publisher for my review copy, which I received via Netgalley.



The Blurb:

The rules are simple. Choose the most significant moments from your relationship - one for each hour in the day.

You'd probably pick when you first met, right?
And the instant you knew for sure it was love?
Maybe even the time you watched the sunrise after your first night together?

But what about the car journey on the holiday where everything started to go wrong? Or your first proper fight?

Or that time you lied about where you'd been?

It's a once in a lifetime chance to learn the truth.

But if you had to be completely honest with the one you love, would you still play?

For Esme and Tom, the game is about to begin. But once they start, there's no going back . . .


Our Life in a Day was published by Orion on 27th December 2018 and you can purchase it here.


My Review:

I came to read this fresh having not read the blurb for a while. It's very different from my usual read, but was a very welcome change from the murder and mayhem of crime and psychological thrillers! I had no idea it was a debut, and would never have guessed.

This is a love story about Tom and Esme. We join them as they are about to celebrate ten years together. They are going away to celebrate, but the night before they go, Esme cooks a special dinner and presents Tom with a gift - a pad of sticky notes each one with a clock face and an hour on it. Twenty four of them, one for each hour of the day. She wants Tom to come up with a significant moment in their relationship which corresponds with each hour of the day.

We then get to share the moments Tom picks - some are obvious, like when they first met, but others are not so obvious, and not always good ones.

I really liked both the main characters, but later in the book Esme made some decisions I didn't agree with, although I did understand why she made them. Esme is bright, funny, optimistic and sure of herself. Tom is shy and unsure of himself, although he does have a huge supporter and cheerleader in the form of best mate Annabel, who I absolutely adored. Anyway, our two lovebirds fall for each other quickly and settle into a routine.

The moments Tom picks aren't linear so the story does jump around a bit, and you need to stay with it to keep up. But we discover that he hasn't always shared everything with Esme, and his mental health issues keep cropping up.

Romance isn't a genre I read much of, it's just not for me. For me to enjoy a love story, it needs to have that 'je ne sais quoi', the X factor. And for me Our Life in a Day has that. It's a 'real'  love story, in that it feels very believable, between two flawed individuals. And it's a love story for our time, with its honest and open look at, and portrayal of, male mental health problems. As someone (although not male) who has  struggled with her own mental health, this really spoke to me.

It is beautifully written, with all the moments, good and bad, described with delicacy and emotion. In fact, this is a book full of heart. The ending, though beautiful, is bittersweet, and it broke me. I cried proper ugly tears and am still thinking about it now over a week after reading it. But it didn't make me love the book any less - a beautiful and accomplished debut.


The Author:


Jamie Fewery is an author, journalist and copywriter. He has written for the Daily Telegraph, Five Dials and Wired, and works for a London-based marketing and creative agency. He lives in Berkhamsted, Hertfordshire with his wife and son. Our Life in a Day is his first novel. You can follow Jamie on Twitter @jamiefewery and Instagram @jamiefeweryauthor.

Monday, 15 April 2019

What She Saw Last Night by MJ Cross - Guest Post

I'm absolutely delighted to share a guest post from one of my very favourite authors Mason Cross, although here he's appearing as his alter ego MJ Cross. His new book, the standalone crime thriller What She Saw Last Night, is one of my most anticipated books of the year and it's published this coming Thursday. Some of the major scenes in the book are set on The Caledonian Sleeper, and in today's guest piece we find out the inspiration behind that decision. But first, as usual, a little bit about the book.



The Blurb:

No one will believe ... WHAT SHE SAW LAST NIGHT.

Jenny Bowen is going home. Boarding the Caledonian Sleeper, all she wants to do is forget about her upcoming divorce and relax on the ten hour journey through the night.

In her search for her cabin, Jenny helps a panicked woman with a young girl she assumes to be her daughter. Then she finds her compartment and falls straight to sleep.

Waking in the night, Jenny discovers the woman dead in her cabin ... but there's no sign of the little girl. The train company have no record of a child being booked on the train, and CCTV shows the dead woman boarding alone.

The police don't believe Jenny, and soon she tries to put the incident out of her head and tells herself that everyone else is right: she must have imagined the little girl.

But deep down, she knows that isn't the truth.

What She Saw Last Night will be published by Orion on 18th April 2019. You can pre order it now from Waterstones and Amazon.

You can read an edited extract from the second chapter of What She Saw Last Night here.

And now I'm delighted to hand over to my guest MJ Cross, for today's post:

I’ve always loved reading and watching thrillers set on trains – from The 39 Steps, Murder on the Orient Express, From Russia With Love, right up to Girl on the Train, there’s something very appealing about a train-set mystery. 

I had already dipped my toe in the Train Mystery subgenre with The Time to Kill, part of which takes place aboard the Empire Builder train from Seattle to Chicago, but when I read an article about the planned launch of the new Caledonian Sleeper train, I got the idea for a standalone mystery that opens aboard the train. It opens with a woman discovering a dead body, and realising a young child she saw last night is missing… except that all the evidence says there never was a child.

The Caledonian Sleeper is one of only two sleeper services in the UK, and it connects one of the world’s biggest cities to the sparsely populated and rural Scottish Highlands. We think of Britain as pretty small in comparison to America or mainland Europe, but if you go north and south, there’s a lot of ground to cover. I was sure somebody would have had the idea to set a book on this particular sleeper train before me, but was pleasantly surprised that it didn’t seem to have been done. 

That juxtaposition between the bustle of London and the wide open spaces of the Highlands was a big appeal for me. I love both areas. I’m definitely a city guy at heart, so I’m always at home in London, but sometimes it’s nice to be the only person for miles around. The sheer scale of the Highlands, the beauty of the landscape, gives you such a fantastic canvas. It’s similar to why I write about America, that sense of enormous space and isolation.  

I had always wanted to travel on a night train, and the book gave me a great excuse to take the trip a few times for research. The people at Caledonian Sleeper were really helpful, answering all of my obscure questions and even giving me a tour of one of the trains.

The old sleeper carriages that they’re phasing out date from the 1980s, which means there’s no wifi, no air conditioning, and very importantly, no onboard CCTV cameras. And, of course, the other bonus for a crime writer is when you get far enough north, you lose phone signal too. 

I really enjoyed starting with a completely blank slate on this book, and particularly getting to create an entirely new hero. Jenny, the protagonist of What She Saw Last Night, is an interesting character, because she’s not an action hero, nor is she an unbalanced, unreliable narrator. She’s a normal person flung into an extraordinary situation, and has to come up with a way to deal with it. 

So, there you go! A wee bit about the forthcoming What She Saw Last Night and how some of it came to be set in a train.


The Author:


MJ Cross is a British novelist. Writing as Mason Cross his debut novel The Killing Season was longlisted for the Theakstons Old Peculier Crime Book of the Year 2015. His second novel, The Samaritan, also featuring his inimitable lead character Carter Blake, was selected as a Richard & Judy Book Club pick. Mason has written a number of short stories, including A Living, which was shortlisted for the Quick Reads 'Get Britain Reading' Award and 'Expiry Date', published in Ellery Queen. He lives near Glasgow with his wife and three children.

Mason’s most recent Carter Blake novel, Presumed Dead, was longlisted for the McIlvanney Prize 2018, and is available to buy now.

To sign up for the Mason Cross Readers Club for updates and exclusive giveaways, go to www.masoncross.net/readers-club

Find out more at www.masoncross.net


You can find an edited extract from Chapter 2 here and a fab wee Q&A with Mason here. My review of What She Saw Last Night will be up on Thursday, publication day.

If you would like to be notified when I share a new blog post, please sign up to follow in the top right on the screen.

See you all soon. x

Sunday, 14 April 2019

I Know You by Erik Therme

Having enjoyed Erik's last book, Keep Her Close (see my review here), I was delighted to be asked to read this one, a standalone psychological thriller. My thanks to Noelle Holton at Bookoutre for inviting me on the tour, and providing my review copy, which I received via Netgalley.



The Blurb:

‘I can help you save your sister. But I need something from you …’

Sisters Bree and Alissa Walker share a special bond. Neglected by their parents, they have always looked out for one another. But one day, sixteen-year-old Alissa goes missing. When Bree discovers her green backpack with all her belongings, abandoned on the steps of their run-down trailer, she knows that something bad has happened …

Then she receives a chilling text message. Someone has Alissa. But Bree will have to give up something very precious in exchange.

Desperate to save Alissa, Bree looks at everyone close to their family. She’s sure that Alissa’s best friend is keeping something back about her little sister and a boy at school, and why has their estranged uncle, who they’ve not seen in years, been hanging around again?

It soon becomes clear that the person behind the message knows a lot about the dark truths within the Walker family and will go to any lengths to get revenge. And as the search for Alissa continues, Bree discovers something about her brother Tyler that she wishes she hadn’t, a dangerous secret, which is also the key to bringing her little sister back home … 

A gripping and addictive thriller about family secrets and lies and the lengths people will go to protect them. Perfect for fans of Teresa Driscoll and Louise Jensen. 


I Know You was published by Bookoutre on 12th April 2019 and you can purchase it using the links below.


Buy Links:



My Review:

This is the second book by this author I've read, and like Keep Her Close this one also focuses on family, and tugs at the heartstrings.

This is a story about a family - 3 siblings, a hard working, worn down mother and an alcoholic dead loss of a father. Despite a ten year age difference, sisters Bree and Alissa have always been close, although it's harder now Alissa is a teenager and often goes off unannounced to stay with a friend. Their brother Tyler has gone off the rails a wee bit, and very rarely shows up at home, with the rest of the family often having no idea where he is.

Alissa is kidnapped for no apparent reason, and Bree is told if she follows instructions and doesn't involve the police, she will get her sister back unharmed. But in return for something else... As she enlists Tyler's help in the search, we find out more about his recent erratic lifestyle, and some problems he had with an ex girlfriend.

Bree is a brilliant character - I instantly cared about her, and could sense her desperation. She has really been a surrogate mother to Alissa, despite her own long working hours. She's strong, capable, dependable, fiercely loyal and willing to fight for her family. Tyler is well written too - he struck me as a decent kid who'd taken a few wrong turns.

The story was sufficiently complex to easily hold my interest and keep me turning the pages - in fact, I read it in just a day. There are plenty of red herrings and dead ends too. The pace is perfect - increasing as the story goes on, moving towards the sad and bloody final scenes, which I really hadn't seen coming. Talk about twisted grief!

For me, as well as being a fab psychological thriller, this was also a study of a family's love, strength and loyalty, and being there for one another. There is one short scene towards the end of the book between Bree's parents which discusses just that, and I actually cheered out loud for her mum! Really enjoyable book.


The Author:


Erik Therme has thrashed in garage bands, inadvertently harboured runaways, and met Darth Vader. When he’s not at his computer, he can be found cheering for his youngest daughter’s volleyball team, or watching horror movies with his seventeen-year-old. He currently resides in Iowa City, Iowa - one of only twenty places in the world UNESCO has certified as a City of Literature.


Author Social Media Links:


Thursday, 11 April 2019

No Man's Land by Neil Broadfoot - review

It's paperback publication day for No Man's Land by Neil Broadfoot. Congratulations Neil! So this seems like a good time to share my review of this fab book, which I devoured in one sitting. I've also included the book information in case you missed yesterday's post.



The Blurb:

War is coming to No Man's Land, and Connor Fraser will be ready.

A mutilated body is found dumped at Cowane's Hospital in the heart of historic Stirling. For DCI Malcolm Ford it's like nothing he's ever seen before, the savagery of the crime makes him want to catch the murderer before he strikes again. For reporter Donna Blake it's a shot at the big time, a chance to get her career back on track and prove all the doubters wrong. But for close protection specialist Connor Fraser it's merely a grisly distraction from the day job.

But then another bloodied and broken corpse is found, this time in the shadow of the Wallace Monument - and with it, a message. One Connor has received before, during his time as a police officer in Belfast.

With Ford facing mounting political and public pressure to make an arrest and quell fears the murders are somehow connected to heightened post-Brexit tensions, Connor is drawn into a race against time to stop another murder. But to do so, he must question old loyalties, confront his past and unravel a mystery that some would sacrifice anything - and anyone - to protect.

From Dundee International Book Prize and Bloody Scotland book of the year nominee Neil Broadfoot comes No Man's Land, the first in the white knuckle Connor Fraser series.

No Man's Land is published in paperback today by Constable and can be purchased from Waterstones and Amazon. It is  also available as a hardback or eBook.


My Review:

I always like finding new characters and Connor Fraser is  definitely one to love. A former police officer in Northern Ireland, he's now a close security expert with a private firm. He's fit, athletic, strong and very capable. A real action man. But there's a gentle emotional side to him too, evident in his dealings with his grandmother and his concerns for Jen from the gym (loved Paulie, by the way). I'm curious to see if anything develops between the two of them in future books. Anyway, a grisly murder in his home town of Stirling catches Connor 's attention. But as the case progresses, it becomes personal for him, and he gets more involved. Much more involved.

Although this is definitely Connor's story, there are a couple of other key players who deserve a mention. The extract I shared yesterday introduced DCI Malcolm Ford, who heads the murder enquiry. He's a world weary cop who thought he'd seen everything. Until now. And we also meet reporter Donna Blake. A single mum, with disapproving parents, she's desperate to get the inside track on the investigation to give her the big break she needs. I found both of these characters hugely believable, very human and brilliantly written. And I have to say Donna, when confronted with a truly awful sight, handles it way, way better than I would have done!

The scene setting in No Man's Land is just perfect. The use of well known sites in and around Stirling is brilliant, although I'm not sure what residents of the town will think! The setting for the first murder (or at least the discovery of the body) is particularly eerie and atmospheric.

Ah yes, the murders. This is not a book for the faint hearted! There is a real attention to detail and the descriptions are vivid, bloody and gut wrenching. But not gratuitous, as the details are all important.

This is so well paced. It opens with a snippet from the tense final scenes, and then goes back to the beginning, just three days earlier. We are thrown in at the deep end, when the first body is discovered. Things progress steadily, but as Connor gets more involved, the pace quickens. And so does the action. There are red herrings, dead ends, mixed messages and people who really aren't who we thought. And it all builds perfectly to the explosive final scenes. This book has got it all.

Connor Fraser is a new hero, reminiscent of Reacher or Bourne. No Man's Land is fast paced and filled with believable characters who remind us that we don't always know who to trust. It's tense action packed and exciting. And bloody. Very bloody.  I loved it!


The Author:


Neil Broadfoot worked as a journalist for 15 years at both national and local newspapers, including The Scotsman, Scotland on Sunday and the Evening News, covering some of the biggest stories of the day. A poacher turned gamekeeper, he has since moved into communications: providing media relations advice for a variety of organisations, from emergency services to high-profile sporting clubs in Scotland.

Neil is married to Fiona and a father to two girls, meaning he's completely outnumbered in his own home. He lives in Dunfermline.

Wednesday, 10 April 2019

No Man's Land by Neil Broadfoot - Extract

To mark the paperback publication tomorrow of the fantastic No Man's Land by the lovely Neil Broadfoot, I am delighted to be sharing an extract from the novel. And it's one that will leave you wanting more, I'm sure!



The Blurb:

War is coming to No Man's Land, and Connor Fraser will be ready.

A mutilated body is found dumped at Cowane's Hospital in the heart of historic Stirling. For DCI Malcolm Ford it's like nothing he's ever seen before, the savagery of the crime makes him want to catch the murderer before he strikes again. For reporter Donna Blake it's a shot at the big time, a chance to get her career back on track and prove all the doubters wrong. But for close protection specialist Connor Fraser it's merely a grisly distraction from the day job.

But then another bloodied and broken corpse is found, this time in the shadow of the Wallace Monument - and with it, a message. One Connor has received before, during his time as a police officer in Belfast.

With Ford facing mounting political and public pressure to make an arrest and quell fears the murders are somehow connected to heightened post-Brexit tensions, Connor is drawn into a race against time to stop another murder. But to do so, he must question old loyalties, confront his past and unravel a mystery that some would sacrifice anything - and anyone - to protect.

From Dundee International Book Prize and Bloody Scotland book of the year nominee Neil Broadfoot comes No Man's Land, the first in the white-knuckle Connor Fraser series.

No Man's Land is published in paperback tomorrow by Constable and can be purchased from Waterstones and Amazon. It is  also available as a hardback or eBook.


Excerpt:

The following extract is taken from Chapter 2 and introduces us to DCI Malcolm Ford.

From beyond the police cordon, DCI Malcolm Ford heard the soft purr of tyres on cobbles as a car made its way up St John Street towards Stirling Castle. He locked onto the sound, like a shield against the soft, incessant squealing behind him. It was like a grotesque ear worm, a song he kept hearing in his mind. Insidious, maddening. Irresistible.

Look at me, it whispered. Just turn and look. Instead Ford gazed up into the clear August sky, closing his eyes against the sudden memory of what lay behind him, trying to draw heat from the day to banish the bone- deep chill that forced him to clench his teeth to stop them chattering.

Look at me, the squeal sang behind him, louder this time as the wind picked up. Go on. Just one quick look.

Ford opened his eyes and, making a half-turn, forced himself to focus instead on the scene in front of him. He was on a small lane that ran between the Holy Rude Church and the old bowling green that lay behind the imposing frontage of Cowane’s Hospital, which dated from the seventeenth century and backed onto the town walls. At this time of year, the place should have been bustling with tourists, eagerly snapping pictures as they took in the whitewashed stone and grey slate of the hospital and wandered around the gardens that surrounded the bowling green.

Today the area was sealed off – crime-scene tape draped across the gates that led onto the lane, two officers posted there to keep curious passersby away and a growing number of reporters and camera crews in check. Tourists had been replaced by SOCOs, the carefree wandering giving way to an agonizingly slow fingertip search of the area. Crime-scene photographers, using massive lenses and harsh flashes, were capturing every grim detail. In the centre of the green, a large white tent shimmered in the breeze, hastily erected to protect as much of the immediate scene as possible.

A similar tent was being erected behind Ford to preserve the primary crime scene and contain the sheer horror of what was there. But he knew better. Containment was impossible now. They could shield it from sight, but it was too late. The damage was done. He would see that image for the rest of his life, revisit it in countless dreams, dwell on it in quiet moments driving home or sitting up during the nights when sleep would not come. It was branded into his memory. Part of him. And, somehow, he had to try to make sense of it. And the twisted motivation that led to it being there.

He shuddered again, blinking rapidly as his eyes moistened. He coughed once and dug out his notepad, glaring at the pages, trying to fill his mind with the facts, quell madness with the mundane.

The discovery had been made a little after six that morning by a normally spry and vital pensioner, who was now under heavy sedation at Forth Valley Hospital. Ford hadn’t yet listened to the 999 call Donald Stewart had made but, from the edited transcript, he knew it was little more than a stream-of-consciousness rant of horrified disbelief punctuated by snippets of detail.

Stewart had been out for his morning walk with his dog, Minty. As usual, they had made their way up a long, twisting path called the Back Walk, which led from the Albert Halls at the bottom of the town, hugging the old town wall as it snaked around the cliffs on the way to the graveyard and the castle. Making a loop, they would walk back down St John Street and head for home in Abercromby Place, a typical central Stirling street of neat hedges, spotless pavements and Victorian townhouses hewn from granite and sandstone. Stewart was obviously not short of money, Ford thought. A point worth remembering.

But that morning Stewart had never made it home. Walking past the Holy Rude, the dog had slipped his collar, squeezed under the gate and charged into the lane, yapping and barking. Noting the gate was unlocked, Stewart had followed – and stepped into Hell.

Whoa! What about that then? Told you you'd want more!

I'm lucky enough to have read the book, and it's fab. You can read my review here. But that poor dog walker really did step into Hell!


The Author:


Neil Broadfoot worked as a journalist for 15 years at both national and local newspapers, including The Scotsman, Scotland on Sunday and the Evening News, covering some of the biggest stories of the day. A poacher turned gamekeeper, he has since moved into communications: providing media relations advice for a variety of organisations, from emergency services to high-profile sporting clubs in Scotland.

Neil is married to Fiona and a father to two girls, meaning he's completely outnumbered in his own home. He lives in Dunfermline.

Sunday, 7 April 2019

Broadland by David Blake

Regular visitors to the blog will know I'm a big fan of David Blake's comedy Space Police series - so much fun. So I was delighted to hear that he was planning to write a serious crime thriller, and excited to be asked onto the blog tour. Thanks to Sarah Hardy at Book On The Bright Side Publicity and David for inviting me and providing my review copy.



The Blurb:

A cold dense shadow fell over Jane Richardson as she hurried along the concrete towpath. To her left, moonlight danced over the River Bure’s untroubled surface as it slipped silently past, heading back the way she’d come. A low-hanging branch scratched at her face as she ducked underneath. From somewhere far behind her came the shriek of laughter, slicing through the air, only to fall silent a moment later to leave nothing but the sound of her high heels, click-clacking out a stark but steady beat.

When a girl’s body is found strangled, raped, and horrifically mutilated by a boat’s propeller, deep in the heart of the Norfolk Broads, newly arrived Detective Inspector John Tanner is asked to assist with the investigation.

At first, all the evidence points to a man who had a multi-million pound reason to kill her. But when an alibi is produced from an unexpected source, and another body appears at the base of a slipway, Tanner finds himself turning to local girl, Detective Constable Jenny Evans for help.

As a more intimate relationship begins between them, they find themselves facing a race against time to identify a lethal adversary, one with a lust for blood and a mind set on revenge.

Set within the mysterious beauty of the Norfolk Broads, this fast-paced British detective series is a murder mystery that will have you guessing until the very end, when the last shocking twist is finally revealed.


Broadland was published on 5th April 2019, and you can buy it from Amazon UK and US.


My Review:

I was intrigued to see how Blake handled a serious crime thriller, as it is a completely different beast from his Space Police series. Those stories are zany, madcap and surreal. Broadland is none of those things - but it's a great book.

John Tanner has just moved to Norfolk from London following a personal tragedy. Some of his new colleagues are resentful at first, particularly DI Burgess who tries to rubbish everything  Tanner suggests. But he finds a friend in Jenny Evans, and there's the distinct possibility of a little romance. Tanner is put onto missing persons, but his first case quickly becomes a murder enquiry, which soon escalates.

Tanner is a great character. Yes, he's tortured, like so many other  fictional cops, but I found him to be a pretty straightforward, straight talking, decent and likeable chap. I liked that whilst it's his story, he wasn't the main player in the investigation itself but gave a different point of view. I loved Jenny too - easy to like, honest and flirty and they make a good partnership. Great rapport between them too.

This is the first book in a new series so there is a lot of scene setting, and things start off quite quiet and slow. I loved the descriptions of the Norfolk countryside, particularly the waterways, and the contrast with Tanner's previous home of London.

But things heat up in the second half of the book as the investigation starts to make progress. Secrets are uncovered, reputations ruined and mistakes made. The crimes are brutal but well described, and the story took several turns I wasn't expecting. The ending, for me, was unexpected and shocking - really quite gruesome. But it's beautifully written. Very descriptive.

With Broadland, David Blake has shown very successfully that he can write a serious crime thriller. I hope we haven't seen the last of  his comedy stuff, but in the meantime, I'm delighted that we don't have to wait long for more for John Tanner, and hopefully Jenny.



The Author:


David Blake is a full-time author living in North London. To date he has written fourteen books along with a collection of short stories. He’s currently working on his fifteenth, St. Benet’s, which is the follow-up to his debut crime fiction thriller, Broadland.

When not writing, David likes to spend his time mucking about in boats, often in the Norfolk Broads, where his crime fiction books are based.


Author Social Media Links:


Friday, 5 April 2019

The Nudge Man by Keith Nixon

It really is a pleasure to take part in the blog tour for the new book by one of my fave people. I have read most of Keith's crime fiction books and enjoyed all of them. So I was delighted to be asked to read this one, the first in a new series featuring Harry Vaughan. Huge thanks to Sarah Hardy at Books On The Bright Side Tours for inviting me and providing my review book. I have since bought my own copy.



The Blurb:

A washed up reporter, an escaped convict, a sociopathic gangster. All are hunting The Nudge Man…

“There’s only one of me. I’m not a hitman. I’m unique, one of a kind. I’m The Nudge Man.”

Wheelchair bound, born again, ex-gangster, Eric Hennessey offers down on his luck reporter, Harrison Vaughan, a job. Find The Nudge Man, a mysterious vigilante who’s stolen most of Hennessey’s money, ill-gotten gains which now Hennessey wants to use to do God’s work. Trouble is, Harry has no desire to work for a sociopathic murderer, even if he is an apparently changed man.

Harry is estranged from his family, he hasn’t seen or heard from them in over five years, since a fabricated scandal destroyed his career. Harry believes his wife walked out on him and took the children. However, Hennessey tells Vaughan it was The Nudge Man who set him up for the fall. Find The Nudge Man and Harry has the chance for redemption and maybe even his family back.

However, Hennessey has another objective in mind. Unknown to Harry his family were taken into witness protection and had to cut ties with everyone after Harry’s son saw a murder – carried out by Eric Hennessey. But the witness protection programme was compromised and the Vaughans had to go off the grid, they couldn’t contact anybody. Hennessey has been looking for them ever since and now may have a way in – Harry himself.

Harry’s search begins in prison, visiting violent criminal Pomfrey Lavender – apparently Lavender has information which will help. But Lavender is suffering various medical problems, including a psychological condition whereby he believes he’s already dead. Harry’s mention of The Nudge Man sends Lavender into a rage and he threatens to kill Harry should he pursue his objective. Harry is relieved Lavender is behind bars. Trouble is, two days later Lavender breaks out.

And others are on the trail of The Nudge Man, including the British government and an American secret service agent. Then there’s the lawyer who offers Harry £1m. All Harry has to do is stay away from The Nudge Man...

"Packed with the author’s trademark wit, The Nudge Man is a seriously good, mind-bendingly twisty novel, and cements Nixon’s place among the upper echelon of British crime writers."
M.W. Craven, author of the Washington Poe Novels.


The Nudge Man was published by Gladius Press on 2nd April 2019 and you can purchase it here.


My Review:

I really enjoyed Nixon's Solomon Gray series (so far) and I love the Konstanstin books that I've read so far, so I was thrilled to discover he was starting another series with a brand new character.

Harry Vaughan is a down on his luck, down at heel (judging by the pub he drinks in!) reporter, with pretty much no money. He has not been in contact with his family for over five years since his wife left him following a made up scandal which targeted him, and he doesn't even know where they are.

Seemingly reformed gangster Eric Hennessey persuades Harry to look for The Nudge Man, a mysterious individual who, for money, 'influences' people and situations to force a particular outcome. Hennessey tells Harry that it was The Nudge Man who was behind his fall from grace. Various other people, British and American, also want Harry to find The Nudge Man, and there's a lawyer who will pay him to do exactly the opposite...

The book is set roughly in the same area as Keith's other books, although we do visit a few other places in this book, and it's a bit of the country I have never visited, but I really feel I have - the descriptions are so good. It was also nice to see a couple of characters from the other books pop up.

Vaughan is easily likeable - he's affable and non threatening, and 'acquires' a brilliant sidekick in Bonzo the dog, who is in danger of stealing every scene he's in! So they make for a lovable pair, and you just can't help rooting for them, despite the huge odds against them. Hennessey is also a fabulous character, but because he's so unlikeable. He's apparently found religion, but you get the impression that nothing sincere comes out of his mouth. He made my skin crawl a little bit.

As with the Konstantin books, the chapters are short and snappy with brilliant titles - 'The Not So Private Dick', 'A Sticky Ending' and 'Monkey Nuts' being my personal favourites. There are also a couple of class character names - I mean, Pomfrey Lavender! So funny. And there is dark humour running all the way through - usually from Harry. The book is written in the first person from his point of view so we know his thoughts as well as what he says. I love this injection of comedy.

The Nudge Man is well written, fun, pacey, twisty and action packed as we follow Harry's search for the identity of  the Nudge Man. I kept trying to guess - absolutely didn't get it. And can I just mention Guy Gregory - another character for me to be a bit in love with!

Another fabulous offering from Nixon, and I can't wait to see what Harry Vaughan and Bonzo (I hope) get up to next!


The Author:


Keith Nixon is a British born writer of crime and historical fiction novels. Originally, he trained as a chemist, but Keith is now in a senior sales role for a high-tech business. Keith currently lives with his family in the North West of England. 

Readers can connect with Keith on various social media platforms:
Web: http://www.keithnixon.co.uk
Twitter: @knntom
Facebook: Keithnixonauthor
Blog: www.keithnixon.co.uk/blog



Morecambe & Vice Crime Writing Festival - Spotlight on Paul Burston

I am really delighted to be one of the bloggers opening the tour for Morecambe & Vice, which takes place at The Midland Hotel in  Moreca...