Tuesday, 20 August 2019

Fugitive 13 by Rob Sinclair

It's my stop today on the blog tour for this fab book, a follow up to the brilliant Sleeper 13. Thanks to Tracy Fenton at Compulsive Readers for inviting me to take part and to the publisher for my review copy.

The Blurb:

The explosive, gripping new thriller from bestselling author Rob Sinclair - for fans of Orphan X, I Am Pilgrim and Nomad.

Aydin Torkal - aka Sleeper 13 - is on the run.

Hunted not only by the world's intelligence agencies, but also by the elite brotherhood of insurgents he betrayed, he has lived the past year like a ghost.

Until now.

MI6 agent Rachel Cox knows Aydin better than anyone. The only person who believes he is an ally in the ongoing war on terror, not the enemy.

So when a coded message arrives from him, warning her not to trust her own colleagues, Rachel must choose between her career and the truth.

But as Aydin hunts down those who destroyed his childhood, the trail he follows will lead him closer to home than he ever expected.

He won't stop until he has his revenge.

He is FUGITIVE 13.

Fugitive 13 was published by Orion Books as an eBook on 7th March 2019 and will be released in paperback on 22nd August 2019. You can purchase it from Waterstones, Amazon UK, Amazon US and other good bookshops.

My Review:

I have been looking forward to this since I read Sleeper 13 back in January (you can see my review here). This is the follow up to that, and the second part of a trilogy. The third book, Imposter 13, is due for release in March next year. I think Fugitive 13 is probably best enjoyed it you read Sleeper 13 first, but it works fine as a standalone.

As a child, Aydin was taken by his father from the family home in London to 'The Farm' in Afghanistan, and left there to be taught how to fight. But he never believed in the extremist values of 'The Teacher' who was trying to turn him and other young boys into killers. Now, years later, he wants revenge against the people who stole his childhood, but he also wants to know why his father took him there in the first place. And unknown to him, his sister Nilay who is now in her twenties also wants to know what happened to her father and brother all those years ago, and will go to any lengths to find out. 

As with the first book, this is sadly a story for our times. The action criss crosses the Middle East, and features ISIS, other extreme factions and refugee camps. It has clearly been well researched. The pace is always quick, reflecting the fact that Aydin must be constantly on the move to stay alive. MI6 and those who were once his allies all want him dead. Except maybe Rachel Cox. 

I really like Rachel - she's got some real guts! I love to see female characters right in the thick of it, and she always is. She is determined, principled and can handle herself. She's a really well written, well rounded character. I like the conflict in her - loyal to MI6 but drawn to Aydin, and it was interesting to see some of the internal relationships in MI6.  Aydin makes me a little sad. He has been turned into something that he never wanted to be, and is pretty much all alone. All the players here are well described, as are the various locations, and it was interesting to see some of the relationships within MI6 The story does jump about quite a bit, so I needed to stay on the ball, but I find this adds interest for me. 

The writing is taut, the story fast paced and the action comes thick and fast. It was a page turner from the beginning to the explosive finale. A great second instalment, and I look forward completing the trilogy next year. 

The Author:

Rob is the author of the critically acclaimed and bestselling Enemy series and James Ryker series of espionage thrillers as well as the globetrotting thriller hit Sleeper 13. His books have sold over half a million copies to date with many reviewers and readers having likened Rob's work to authors at the very top of the genre, including Lee Child and Vince Flynn.

Rob began writing in 2009 following a promise to his wife, an avid reader, that he could pen a ‘can’t put down’ thriller. He worked for nearly 13 years for a global accounting firm after graduating from The University of Nottingham in 2002, specialising in forensic fraud investigations at both national and international levels. Rob now writes full time.

Originally from the North East of England, Rob has lived and worked in a number of fast paced cities, including New York, and is now settled in the West Midlands with his wife and young sons.

Rob's website is www.robsinclairauthor.com and he can be followed on Twitter at @rsinclairauthor and Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/robsinclairauthor/

Sunday, 18 August 2019

Where I Found You by Emma Robinson

Time for a break from my usual diet of crime and psychological thrillers as today I'm delighted to be taking part in the tour for this special book, my first by this author. Huge thanks to Kim Nash at Bookoutre for inviting me and providing my review copy.

The Blurb:

Now titled My Silent Daughter.

Your daughter does not speak… But can she teach you how to live?

Ever since Ruby was tiny, she has been unique. Her smiles are magically rare, her building blocks are always colour-coded, and she communicates only in gestures. Sometimes, being Ruby’s mother is hard, but the way she sees the world makes it new for Sara every day.

When Sara’s husband walks out on them, Sara’s world falls apart, and her mother-in-law, Barbara, is the only person she can turn to for help. But Barbara thinks Ruby’s problems are all in Sara’s head; that she just doesn’t know how to raise a child right.
Sara can’t see how she’ll cope alone. Barbara won’t listen. Can a girl who doesn’t speak show them the way?

A powerful emotional page-turner about motherhood, friendship and family. Guaranteed to take your breath away. Perfect for fans of A Boy Made of Blocks, Jodi Picoult and Jojo Moyes.

Where I Found You was published by Bookoutre on 16th August 2019 and you can find the sales links below: 

My Review:

Oh my goodness! I read most of this book with tears in my eyes, and was openly weeping by the end. This is such a beautiful, emotional story.

Sara and husband Mike, together with daughter Ruby, move in with Mike's mother Barbara whilst they save enough for a deposit for their own home. Whilst it is extremely generous of Barbara, it is far from ideal for the young family. For Sara it is  especially hard, as Barbara dotes on Michael, criticises Sara's parenting and gushes about the perfect family next door.

Little Ruby is certainly a handful. She's not talking, doesn't mix with other children and plays with the same toys in the same way over and over again. Sara is unwilling to let anyone help because they won't know how to do things right for Ruby, but it's so hard. She is beginning to realise that Ruby isn't like other kids, that maybe there's something wrong, but she gets no family support and doesn't have any friends, until she finally starts to let people in.

I was so keen to read this book. I have a really good friend with a son on the high end of the autistic spectrum. His 'symptoms' are much less severe than Ruby's, and he is fantastic, but he has had some of the same struggles, just to a much lesser degree. And many of my friend's worries and concerns were similar to Sara's. But every mother and father will recognise them. We all want the very best for our children, for them to be happy, feel loved, so well. It's just a harder journey for some than others. And I don't think this is  a book just for parents. It's for anyone who has someone they advocate for, encourage or support. I am very privileged to work with disabled adults, and the main part of my job is to help them to be as independent and fulfilled as they can be, and this story resonated for me there too.

For me, this book is about recognising that we are all unique. It's about sometimes reshaping our ideas for the future. It's about celebrating the small things. And it's about family, friends and asking for help.

All of the above is poignantly done in Where I Found You. I adored Sara and cried and cheered with and for her. Her changing and often challenging relationship with Barbara is so interesting, and I think will resonate with many parents of children with additional needs. And we find out there is so much more to both Barbara and perfect next door neighbour Lisa than it seems at first glance. For me though, the stand out character was Leonard, whose quiet acceptance of Ruby and encouragement for Sara was lovely to read.

This was a beautiful read and one that will stay with me. I was deeply moved by it (there was ugly crying) and would urge everyone to read it. It's not soppy, gushy or preachy, but an accessible, relatable tale of love, friendship, acceptance and hope. And I would love to see how Ruby's doing in about 15 years time!

I have to say I'm not a fan of the new title, 'My Silent Daughter' (changed after the above review was written, as in my experience non verbal doesn't mean silent.

The Author

Emma Robinson is the author of three previous novels about motherhood and female friendship including The Undercover Mother. Where I Found You is her fourth novel, released in August 2019.

When she is not writing, Emma is an English teacher and lives in Essex with a patient husband and two children who are an endless source of material.

Author Social Media Links:

Website: www.motherhoodforslackers.com
Facebook: facebook.com/motherhoodforslackers
Twitter: @emmarobinsonuk
Instagram: emmarobinsonuk

Thursday, 15 August 2019

Roam by Erik Therme

Having enjoyed two of Erik's other books, I am delighted to be taking part in this tour. Huge thanks to Sarah Hardy at Book on the Bright Side Publicity for inviting me and to the publisher for my review copy.

The Blurb:

When Kevin finds Sarah stranded by the side of the road, he’s more than willing to give her a ride. Young, beautiful and distraught — she’s everything a single guy could ask for in a girl. What he doesn’t know is that she already has a guy: an abusive, drunken boyfriend who left her there in a fit of rage. And when that boyfriend comes back and finds Sarah missing, a simple ride will turn deadly.

Like Josh Gaylord and Daniel Kraus before him, author Erik Therme explores the angst of disconnected youth in his enthralling and powerful Roam. Therme’s darkly tinged novel is an unforgettable tale of three errant souls brutalized by life’s cruel circumstances, and a remarkable night of discovery and violence that will change them forever.

Roam was published by Thecker Books on 21 February 2017. You can purchase it as an eBook from Amazon UK and Amazon US, or as an audio book from Audible UK and Audible US.

My Review:

I had read, and very much enjoyed, two other books by Erik Therme - Keep Her Close and I Know You. Roam predates both of these, but like them, it's a lesson in characterisation.

Sarah's birthday celebrations have not gone to plan, the car has broken down in the middle of nowhere in the dark and boyfriend Matt is next to useless. After a fight, Sarah heads off to look for help. And Matt lets her. Kevin and his pal see Sarah and offer her a lift home. It's the beginning of a night that neither Sarah or Kevin will forget.

We soon learn that perhaps Matt isn't the ideal boyfriend that Sarah thought he would be, and the more time she spends with Kevin seems to confirm that for Sarah herself. I liked Sarah, but found her a little naive. She's impetuous and makes rash decisions. But I adored Kevin, who is wise beyond his years. A budding writer, he has a skill with words and a simple way of looking at the world.

But both of them, and Scotty who appears later in the story, are damaged souls, scarred by their current circumstances or previous experiences. And it is here that Therme comes into his own. His characterisation and detailing is second to none, and it's impossible not to care about these people. It was for me anyway.

The atmosphere is quite claustrophobic as much of the story takes place in or around Kevin's car, and later in a small hotel room. There was also a mounting sense of dread, as I knew we were heading towards some sort of confrontational conclusion, but was unsure how it would pan out. It went a slightly different way to his I thought it would.

This is part psychological thriller, part coming of age and part love story, full of well drawn, well rounded believable, relatable characters. The pacing is great, with a sense of slight panic for the reader (this one anyway) towards the denouement. And that ending. It was a real 'Woah! Wait, what?' moment for me, and in had to read it twice. It's really clever, but made me feel a little sad.

Another enjoyable character driven read from Therme.


Erik is running a fantastic giveaway during the tour where you have a chance to win either a digital copy (worldwide) or audio copy (UK and US only) of Roam. Enter below for your chance to win:


The Author:

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

Author Social Media Links:

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/ErikTherme.writer
Twitter: https://twitter.com/ErikTherme
Goodreads Author Page: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/7831573.Erik_Therme
Blog: https://eriktherme.com

Sunday, 11 August 2019

Bute Noir 2019 Crime Writing Festival

Last weekend I headed 'doon the watter' to Rothesay on the gorgeous Isle of Bute for Bute Noir 2019. This was the fourth year of the festival, but my first time, and a welcome return to Rothesay for me, as I hadn't visited for a few years.

As regular readers of my blog will know, I haven't been doing so well for a wee while, so was hoping that this would be a restorative weekend that was good for my soul. And it was. Two and a half days spent with my tribe. Fabulous. But gosh, it wiped me out pretty much completely for three days and I'm still recovering, hence the delay in putting this together. But totally worth it!

It was a packed ferry over on Friday afternoon, full of crime writers and readers, in the most beautiful sunshine - the kind of weather we can usually only dream of in Scotland! I had booked into a small B&B, Sunnyside House, and couldn't have had a more gorgeous room, or more beautiful view. It was a promising start to the weekend.

I'm not going to write too much about each of the sessions I attended (which wasn't all of them), otherwise I'll be here for days and you'll have fallen asleep from boredom! So I'll just share a few lines about them, and some of my pics. I also haven't mentioned individual books either for a number of reasons: I wrote this from memory (and there was a lot of wine taken) and was terrified I  would forget someone, it would have meant adding lots of links and there were other fine authors who took part in events I wasn't at. But I would strongly suggest you look up any writers unfamiliar to you.

First up for me on Friday afternoon was "Watching The Detectives" with Douglas Lindsay, Ed James, Caro Ramsay and Craig Robertson, held, as were the majority of events, at the Bute Museum. Four fabulous authors, with tons of books between them, talking about the police personnel who feature in their work. And giving us lots . It was a brilliant start to the festival, and like pretty much all the events, was a sell out.

Top: "Watching the Detectives"
Bottom: "50 Shades of Black"

Following them were Thomas Enger, Mick Herron and Luca Veste talking "50 Shades of Black (with some lighter moments)" with Lisa Gray. These three writers tend to write about the darker side of crime - I guess there isn't really a lighter side,  but they can get very dark indeed. Not that you'd have known it from the session - three very funny men. And Luca might have mentioned, just once or twice, that he played Glastonbury this year (as a member of the fantastic Fun Lovin' Crime Writers).

After dinner and a cool down for me (whilst two other sessions went on at the library), it was time to hit the pub. The Black Bull Inn was our venue for Noir at The Bar, and it was packed to the rafters! There were so many fabulous moments with lots of authors having been roped into taking part at the last minute by organiser Craig Robertson. Everyone was amazing, but some highlights for me were Douglas Lindsay's baked beans poem, Ed James reading the sex scene from Mark Billingham's latest book in a dreadful South London accent and my pal Doug Sinclair reading from his as yet unpublished second novel. Just the best time, and the perfect way to end the first day of the festival.

From top right: Douglas Lindsay, Lilja Sigurðardóttir & Doug Sinclair read at "Noir at the Bar". Sorry the pics are dark! 

Author Mark Billinhgam reacts to hearing the sex scene in his latest book being read in a hilariously dreadful South London accent by Ed James. 

From top right: Oscar de Muriel, Noelle Holten (she doesn't really have alien eyes, my bad), Mick Herron and Sharon Bairden ( in orange) reading their work. 

One Ian Rankin is a best selling author.
The other Ian Rankin is a plumbing and heating engineer on Bute, and sponsor of the Festival.
On Friday night, Ian Rankin the author offered to help with any plumbing problems....

Following a hearty breakfast on Saturday morning, I headed out in the sunshine to the putting greens on the seafront to watch some of the authors fight it out for the hotly contested Brookmyre Cup. Which is, in fact, a mug. This year's winner was Douglas Lindsay, with Chris Brookmyre coming in second, as he has done every year since the competition began! Lilja Sigurðardóttir brought up the rear, but she had never even held a golf club before. And, most importantly, she won the women's championship!

The Brookmyre Cup competition
As I was cheering on, and caddying
 (well, carrying her handbag anyway) for Lilja, I missed some of the action elsewhere on the course.
Group photo by Lilja Sigurðardóttir

After a quick coffee stop, I headed back to the museum for "The Lady Killers" - authors Alexandra Sokoloff, Liz Nugent and Lilja Sigurðardóttir discussing the reasons women kill with Louise Fairbairn. A fascinating and quite emotional panel. I had a few hours off after that, to drink wine and mooch about a bit. I headed back up to the museum later on for "Nordic Noir" with two of my faves, Lilja Sigurðardóttir (yes, she figured heavily in my Saturday, and I can't think of a nicer person to do so!) from Iceland and Thomas Enger from Norway, with Alexandra Sokoloff asking the questions. My favourite accents of the weekend along with Oscar de Muriel, who I'd met in the pub the night before.

"The Lady Killers" & "Nordic Noir" panels

Closing Saturday evening was "A Question of Court", a ridiculously funny quiz including a theme tune round and a charades one too. Following that was an eclectic selection of musical entertainment. We had acoustic tunes from half of the Fun Lovin' Crime Writers - Mark Billingham, Chris Brookmyre and Luca Veste including a rousing rendition of 'Hey Jude', which became 'Hey Bute'. Following them, Oscar de Muriel entertained us with a couple of tunes on his violin, then Caro Ramsay and Douglas Skelton (because he was too scared to say no to Caro!) led us in a community sing song - Shang-a-Lang by the Bay City Rollers. I reckon we did OK, and it ended another cracking day.

"A Question of  Court" quiz and musical entertainment

The weather broke on Sunday morning, but between the showers we still saw the sunshine. My first event of the day was at PrintPoint, Rothesay's fabulous independent bookshop. Sharon Bairden interviewed Douglas Skelton and Douglas Lindsay about their latest books in "Highland Reeling". Both authors have written twenty books or more so have a wealth of knowledge between them, and it was a brilliant session.

"Highland Reeling" at PrintPoint

Again, I took the early part of the afternoon off, but headed back up to the museum for "Do As I Do (not as I do)" . Experienced authors Douglas Skelton and Myra Duffy (whose books are set on Bute) imparted their wisdom to debut novelists Lisa Gray, Noelle Holten and Allan Martin. I think the main lesson was that there's not one single way that works.

The final event of the festival was "Room 101" . Mick Herron, Ed James, Caro Ramsay and Luca Veste were asked for three things they wanted to put into Room 101 - Caro's list had 148 items on it! Much hilarity ensued, to a completely packed house, and the world was put to rights!

Top: "Do As I Do (not as I say)"
Middle & Bottom: "Room 101"

I was quite emotional when it came to Alex Sokoloff's (on behalf of Craig Robertson, and wearing his contact lenses) closing speech. It was such a fabulous festival, organised by Craig, Karen from PrintPoint, Anne from Bute Museum and Patricia from Bute Library. The tickets were very reasonably priced (and included a glass of wine!) and the events attracted both locals and visitors to the island. But it wouldn't have been the success it was without the huge team of volunteers who worked incredibly hard all weekend and deserve a huge shout out. I can't wait until next year!

As I was so busy, I didn't get much chance to wander round Rothesay. I can, though, recommend PrintPoint, which has a great selection of books and stationery, you can get printing done, they have coffee and Karen and her team are super nice. I also visited Helmi's which is a gorgeous café and bakery on the front. I didn't try the cakes but they looked absolutely fabulous! A few doors down from there is The Bute Gallery. I headed in there looking for something specific, which I couldn't get, but owner Joe was very welcoming and has some gorgeous pieces. That was all I managed, so I'm going to head back for a day trip soon to explore some more of the local shops and area.

But last weekend was all about the books, the authors, the readers and the awesome festival team. And I had a wonderful time - it was just what I needed, when I needed it, if very tiring. And remarkably, I only bought seven books! This must be some kind of festival record for me!

Goodbye (for now) beautiful Bute and roll on Bute Noir 2020!

Control by Hugh Montgomery

It's been years since I read a proper medical thriller, so I was thrilled to be asked to take part in this tour. Huge thanks to Tracy Fenton at Compulsive Readers for inviting me and to the publisher for my review copy.

The Blurb:

Not all doctors are heroes . . . 

'A suspenseful and frightening thriller' Lynda La Plante

Renowned surgeon Michael Trenchard locks his office door and prepares for a relaxing evening - Wagner on the sound system, a fine Scotch to hand. A knock at the door heralds the arrival of the person he most wants to see - the person who excites him more than anyone else. But what follows will turn his dreams into a living nightmare . . . for he will be discovered later that night in a locked-in coma, the victim of an auto-erotic asphyxiation.

Can this really be an accident? It is left to Dr Kash Devan, Trenchard's young protégé, to uncover the truth. What he discovers is chilling: in his ruthless pursuit of wealth and success Trenchard has left a trail of wrecked lives behind him. Which of his victims hated him so much they wanted not only his life, but also his reputation ruined?

Control is a dark and compulsive medical thriller for readers of Robin Cook and Tess Gerritsen.

Control was published by Zaffre on 8th August 2019. You can by it from Waterstones, Amazon UK, Amazon US and other good bookshops.

My Review:

I love TV medical dramas (at least I do until they get too soapy - nobody needs that) and watch them all, but I don't think I've read a  medical thriller since Robin Cook's Coma, so.was intrigued to read this. I was also drawn in by the author's bio - he'd be an ideal dinner party guest (see below and you'll know what I mean) and is clearly eminently qualified to write a medical thriller.

Michael Trenchard, a brilliant renowned surgeon, is found almost dead from what appears to be a tragic auto asphyxiation accident. The scene is pretty sordid and the rumours soon spread about what he'd been up to. The medical team keep him alive, but he is locked in, with no movement, and will be cared for at the hospital where he worked.

Over time Kash Devan, a promising young doctor who worked under Trenchard, is convinced that somebody set Trenchard up and his condition wasn't self inflicted. Ridiculed by both the police and his colleagues, he risks his relationship and his reputation in his quest for the truth. But it turns out he might not like what he finds out.

I loved Kash - there's a certain amount of wide eyed innocence about him. His early efforts to woo nurse Claire are sweet, if clumsy, and I was touched by the love he put into the letters he writes to his mother. There's a point towards the end of the book that brought a tear to my eye. But Kash toughens up and becomes steely in his resolve to uncover what happened, regardless of what it costs him.

Apart from Kash, and Trenchard, most of the main players, good and bad, in the story are women, which was nice to see. There's a real variety from Kash's young girlfriend through to octogenarian Liz, who might be dying but is still more aware than many of what's going on around her. I had a real soft spot for her, actually. They are exquisitely drawn, particularly Anna who Kash encounters at work, and all believable.

Whilst this is mostly set within the four walls of a hospital it is happily free of too much jargon. Medical terms and procedures are simply explained without ever being patronising.

There are plenty of red herrings and dead ends, and I ended up frustrated more than one when I thought I had it all figured out only to be disappointed. So I only finally worked things out at the actual reveal, and I certainly didn't predict the final act.

At just over 400 pages it's a substantial read, but I raced through it. Kash is an engaging, relatable protagonist, the pacing is perfect and there's a great cast of characters. A well written and thrilling drama.

The Author:

Hugh Montgomery is a distinguished physician, known for his pioneering genetic research.

Outside the field of medicine, he was a founding member of the UK Climate and Health Council and is an endurance expert, who has run three ultra-marathons, scaled the world’s sixth highest mountain, jumped naked from a plane at 14,000 ft and holds the world record for underwater piano playing.

Zaffre, Bonnier Books UK’s flagship adult fiction imprint, publishes Control this month.

Friday, 9 August 2019

The 365 Day Writer's Block Workbook by Morgen Bailey

I am delighted to be closing off the blog tour for this fabulous writing resource written by Morgen Bailey. My thanks to Sarah at Book on the Bright Side Publicity for inviting me on to the tour and to the author for my review copy. I have since bought my own copy.

The Blurb:

Over a thousand sentence starts, three per day, with writing tips at the end of each week to motivate and inspire, providing kick-starts to avoid the dreaded ‘writer’s block’. Useful for any writer at any level, whether they have 10 minutes or 10 hours, to start a new project. Also an ideal tool for writing groups.

With a combination of six first-person, six second-person, six third-person and three non-specific point of view starts per week, there are plenty to choose from. Beginning at ‘Day 1’ this book has been designed to be started at any time of the year, and regardless of whether the sentences are used in order or not. With a choice of three per day a writer can select one, two or all and see where it leads them.

My Review:

So, an admission to start with. I am not an author. Nor am I an aspiring author (although never say never). But I do write, on this here blog, which is sometimes harder than you might think. If I've loved a book, I want to find the right words to convey that feeling, and it's not always easy. And I write poetry occasionally (not often enough). So I was keen to have a look at this.

It's a small book, but packs a lot in. After a short introduction describing different points of view and tenses, the author provides 21 sentence starts and a handy tip for each week of the year.

Unfortunately, I didn't have a year to explore this book. But I did have chance to read all the weekly tips which I thought were excellent. Straightforward and practical, but never patronising.

I tried several of the sentence starts across all three points of view and surprised myself by writing some really enjoyable (quality far more questionable!) pieces of flash fiction. And do you know what, it made me want to write more! So, I think I'll be keeping this wee resource handy from now on...

Simple, practical and valuable advice and suggestions for writers at any stage of their career. 

The Author:

Morgen Bailey – Morgen with an E – is a multi-genre author, freelance editor, writing tutor, writing competitions magazine columnist and judge, blogger, and speaker.

Her website is www.morgenbailey.wordpress.com and her email is morgen@morgenbailey.com.

Her books can be found on Amazon UK, Amazon US, Smashwords and wherever books can be ordered. 

Wednesday, 7 August 2019

The Fifth Grave by Rob Jones

I'm delighted to be closing off the blog tour for this fab book. Rob was a new author to me, and this is the beginning of a new series. Huge thanks to Sarah from Book on the Bright Side Publicity for inviting me onto the tour and to the author for my review copy.

The Blurb:

A stunning new crime thriller from #1 bestselling author Rob Jones.

Poised to return to work after a long bereavement leave, Detective Chief Inspector Jacob is called away from the sanctuary of his home to attend the grim discovery of human remains over a quarter of a century old. Found deep in woodland with its own grim history, they give little up, but he is soon confronted with local gossip of hauntings and witches.

The mystery deepens when a second person is murdered in the same woods, and Jacob soon realises he is hunting a killer who will stop at nothing to keep the darkest of secrets buried in the past. Working alongside Dr Sophie Anderson, a criminal psychologist with her own damaged past, they close the net until tragedy strikes again in this gripping romantic suspense thriller.

Set in the wild and beautiful Wiltshire Downs, The Fifth Grave is a fast-paced whodunit with a dash of humour and romance and a killer twist.

You can purchase The Fifth Grave from Amazon UK and Amazon US.

My Review:

It's great to be reading another new to me author, although a quick check online and I can see that Mr Jones has written a ton of books before this one, so I plan to check some of those out. I also don't think I've read a crime book set in Wiltshire before, so it's good to be visiting somewhere new.

Tom Jacob is a DCI returning to work after an extended break following a personal tragedy. So he brings with him some demons, but I found him to be very likeable. He's a bit of a maverick, prepared to bend or break the rules when he seems it necessary. It doesn't always endear him to his superiors (Marcus Kent is an arse!) But he commands loyalty from his team.

Jacob is called back from his leave a few days early due to the discovery of a dead body. It soon becomes clear that the body has been there for a number of years, but it is discovered near the site where four sisters were supposedly buried hundreds of years earlier on suspicion of being witches.The press soon link the latest body to witchcraft, especially as a book on witchcraft was found with the body. And then the bodies start mounting up...

I liked Jacob's team, particularly Anna Mazurek. She's no nonsense, straight talking and feisty. And she has a potentially interesting back story, which I reckon might be explored at a later date. Bill Morgan deserves a mention too. He's old school, gruff, and totally reliable. Sophie Anderson was interesting. I liked her, and her perseverance, but wondered how she funded her travels and accommodation. But she has an interesting story which I'm really looking forward to finding out more about.

The setting is absolutely a character in its own right. The forest where the first body is found is very spooky, especially the line of four trees marking the graves of the four sisters. And when the murders start in the present day, the team move into an incident can in the middle of the forest. I was seriously creeped out and anxious anytime one of the team was travelling to or from there!

There is a lot going on in this story. There is plenty of action, and lots of wrong turns as the team pursue their leads. I was totally taken aback by the ending, completely thrown. I didn't see it coming at all, which was great.

This book was a mixture of action and police procedural, with a wee bit of witchcraft thrown in. Likeable characters, a brilliant setting and a great plot all add up a really strong story. I look forward to reading more.

The Author:

Rob Jones is the internationally bestselling author of seventeen archaeological adventure novels, including thirteen in the Joe Hawke series. Originally from England, today he lives in Australia with his wife and three children.

Author Social Media Links:

Twitter: @AuthorRobJones
Facebook: Rob Jones Novels

Thursday, 1 August 2019

Base Cowboys by Mark Farrer

And another new author for me on the blog today! I am delighted to be joining the blog tour for Base Cowboys, a collection of three  novellas by Mark Farrer. And I knew within the first couple of pages that I was going to enjoy it. Thanks to Emma Welton at damppebbles blog tours for inviting me, and to the author for providing my review copy.

The Blurb:

BASE COWBOYS is a comic crime trilogy set in the Scottish Borders. It is the sixth laugh-out-loud book in the CULLEN series written by Borders author Mark Farrer and will appeal to readers of Christopher Brookmyre, Carl Hiaasen, Nick Spalding or Tom Sharpe. The book tells the stories of three amoral ne’er-do-wells, their unfortunate and accidental intrusion into Cullen’s life, and the imaginative ways he finds of ensuring (his) justice is done:

Dirty Barry
The first casualty of adultery is… the tooth!
Barry Sullivan is a sordid dentist who resorts to blackmail to keep his string of married women in line. But now Cullen has toothache - and a very different interpretation of the dental code of practice.

Bronchial Billy
Meet Billy - the fastest gun in a vest.
Billy is a geriatric slum landlord desperate to win first prize in a Country & Western gunfight competition. But his trigger-happy birthday celebrations provoke Cullen, and now Billy must pay. Will he meet his High Noon at the Grand Ole Opry or will he go out with a bang? Whatever happens, there’s sure to be fireworks.

Pale Ale Rider
There’s trouble brewing…
Tyler is a teenage tearaway with the eyes of a serial killer. But when he decides to rob Big Paul’s local pub, he gets more than he bargained for. Will Tyler lose his bottle, or just get smashed? Cullen thinks he’s seen dead eyes like those before, and now he has a plan: he’s not bitter, he’s just a little twisted.

Base Cowboys was published on 22nd July 2019 by Funny Business Press and you can purchase it here.

My Review:

As I mentioned above, I hadn't previously read anything by Mark Farrer. These three novellas are written between the full length novels in the Cullen series and are designed to give more insight into main man Cullen and his best, possibly only, friend Big Paul. I'm not sure whether any of the other characters we meet here feature in the other books. Despite not having read anything else in the series, I really enjoyed these and look forward to reading more in the series.

We first meet Big Paul in Dirty Barry. He's ridiculously laid back, although it makes him very unreliable.  His ethos is  "Trust the soup" and who can argue with that? I love that his dogs are called Penn and Teller!

Barry the dentist is horrible with absolutely no redeeming features. Because of his attitude to women, some of the language used to describe them is less than complimentary, but this type of language is confined to this character only. But I did love "...a face like haunted tupperware" even though I have no idea what had it means (although !

Cullen kind of shambles onto the scene. He finds out about Barry by accident, and seeks his own kind of justice for people he doesn't know, with some surprise assistance.

I think Bronchial Billy was my favourite story of the three. I loved Stinky Pete, and laughed out loud at the description of his outfit following the discussion about belt positions on big bellies. You can tell Billy and Pete are good pals because they take part in the "ultra-competitive Scottish sport of insult wielding.'" But they are not fans of Vince. Here, again, some of  the language used by Billy is far from politically correct, but it's only Billy. Maud is absolutely fabulous. And Cullen made me sad for a moment. But generally this is a laugh out loud story. And look out for a very funny description of Republicans and Democrats.

In Pale Ale Rider we meet young thieves Tyler and Tracey. The Brazilian misunderstanding is hysterical. This is the first time I've seen the ending a relationship compared to knocking over a coke machine. I loved Arthur! He's so kind, sweet, innocent and gullible. Freddie is horrible, but I admired his use of the word 'chuffing.'

We learn a wee bit more about Cullen in this tale, and we see lots more of Paul, and it was great to see their scenes together.  And who other than Paul could talk about Darwin in relation to the washing?

Going into these three stories knowing nothing about the characters, I loved them. Cullen is a mysterious enigma who I want to know more about. And Big Paul is adorable, in his own way. The writing is very fluid, very descriptive, full of metaphors and very funny. And the characterisation is brilliant. I look forward to reading more by Mr Farrer.

The Author:

Mark Farrer is the author of six comedy novels and novellas, each set in the Scottish Borders with a distinctive Scottish backdrop – whether salmon farming, textile mills, Rugby Sevens or the Scottish criminal justice system. His books are multi-stranded storylines involving larger-than-life characters, whose plans and incompetence inevitably exceed their wits. All feature an itinerant loner, Cullen, who lives off the grid and finds himself inadvertently drawn into someone’s crazy scheme, only for his own (very individual) sense of right and wrong to be offended. That’s generally when things start to go wronger.

Author Social Media Links:

Twitter: https://twitter.com/mark_farrer @mark_farrer
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/markjfarrer/
Website: http://markfarrer.com/
Amazon Author Page: https://www.amazon.co.uk/Mark-Farrer/e/B074S4XMGL/ref=dp_byline_cont_ebooks_1

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