Thursday, 4 March 2021

Hunted by Alex Knight


Today is publication day for the paperback edition of Hunted by Alex Knight. I'm a big fan of this author and love this book and so to help celebrate today's release I'm resharing my review originally posted in June last year. 



The Blurb:

You're woken early by the doorbell. It's a young girl, the daughter of the love of your life. She's scared, covered in blood, she says her mother is hurt.

You let her in, try to calm her down, tell her you're going to get help. You reach for your phone, but it lights up with a notification before you touch it.

It's an Amber alert - a child has been abducted by a dangerous suspect.

The child is the girl standing in front of you.

The suspect? You.

Hunted is published by Orion tomorrow and is available to purchase from all good booksellers.



My Review

Hunted opens with a bang, hitting the ground running. Molly turns up at Jake's door - bloody, scared and upset. She doesn't know him that well, but he's her mum's boyfriend, her mum's hurt and she doesn't know where else to go. But Jake's just had a notification on his phone  saying that Molly's been abducted. By him. What an opening!

Jake does the only thing he can - he runs. And the hunt for him truly begins. He is determined to find out what's really going on. But with a massive manhunt on for him, very little cash, nowhere to go and maybe only one friend that he might possibly be able to turn to for help, his chances aren't great. Oh, and there's also the small fact that everyone in the San Francisco area with a mobile phone now knows what he looks like and that he's wanted by the FBI. Phew!

Jake is a brilliant character, really well drawn. I didn't know about Amber alerts before reading this book, other than hearing them mentioned on the tv occasionally, so it was interesting to learn about them and such a great way of getting information out quickly. But I can't imagine what it would be like to be innocent, and have everyone look suspiciously at you. When it happened here I was reminded of the scenes in the John Wicks movies - if you've seen them you'll know what I'm going to say - where John Wick himself goes back on the books as a target, a notification goes out and suddenly every assassin in town (and there are a lot of them) is on the look out for him. There's a real conflict going on with Jake - he's clearly a good guy who wants do the right thing, but not without being able to prove his innocence. I felt for him, particularly his loneliness which is beautifully described. And he is wound so tight for much of the time that I was anxious for him! I could feel the tension coming off the page.

There are some fab, strong characters in Hunted. FBI Special Agent Catherine Lark is in charge of finding Jake. I liked her - she's no nonsense, firm but fair. And has one heck of a job. We follow her as, ably assisted by Kelly Paxon and the rest of the team, she starts to build a bigger picture and a convincing case. Outside of the emergency services there are more great characters - I was particularly fond of Eleanor Grace. You'll see why when you read the book - no spoilers here! And it would be remiss of me not to mention Molly. She is so well written - her fear, shock, anxiety and vulnerability all brilliantly described. She's an outstanding kid, mature beyond her years in many ways. And you can tell the author has experience of being around teenagers - there were plenty of details that rang true!

Knight has clearly done his research for this book around the technical details of the American police, FBI etc but also the locations used. Everything feels authentic and he's found some small towns with brilliant names. I loved the descriptions, the imagery.

Hunted is a cat and mouse chase, a search for truth and justice. It grabs you, pulls you in and doesn't let go. The action doesn't let up at all and neither does the tension. The storyline is full of lies, betrayal and cover ups with twists, shocks and red herrings aplenty. If you're looking for a fast paced, action packed, intelligent and rewarding crime thriller then this is the book for you. I flipping loved it!


The Author:


Alex Knight is a British novelist who lives near Glasgow with his wife and three children. As Mason Cross he has written five books in the Carter Blake series and last year released standalone What She Saw Last Night as MJ Cross.









Thursday, 25 February 2021

Fatal Isles by Maria Adolfsson (translated by Agnes Broome)


Today it's my stop on the blog tour for Fatal Isles by Maria Adolfsson, the first book in the Doggerland series. My thanks to Tracy Fenton at Compulsive Readers for inviting me and to the publisher for providing my review copy. 


The Blurb:

A remote island. A brutal murder. A secret hidden in the past . . .

In the middle of the North Sea, between the UK and Denmark, lies the beautiful and rugged island nation of Doggerland.

Detective Inspector Karen Eiken Hornby has returned to the main island, Heimö, after many years in London and has worked hard to become one of the few female police officers in Doggerland.

So, when she wakes up in a hotel room next to her boss, Jounas Smeed, she knows she's made a big mistake. But things are about to get worse: later that day, Jounas's ex-wife is found brutally murdered. And Karen is the only one who can give him an alibi.

The news sends shockwaves through the tight-knit island community, and with no leads and no obvious motive for the murder, Karen struggles to find the killer in a race against time.

Soon she starts to suspect that the truth might lie in Doggerland's history. And the deeper she digs, the clearer it becomes that even small islands can hide deadly secrets . . .

Fatal Isles was published by Zaffre on 18th February 2021. 



My Review:

DI Karen Ellen Hornby wakes up with a raging hangover the morning after the annual Oistra oyster festival. She's in a hotel bed next to her boss, who she detests. She hightails it out of the hotel and heads home to sleep off her hangover. However she is woken up and given a new case - the murder of Susanne Smeed, the ex-wife of said boss...To get to the bottom of the mystery she must explore Doggerland's past and uncover buried secrets. 

This is a hefty tome, coming in at just over 500 pages, and Susanne Smeed's body is discovered within the first of them. The remainder of the book deals with the investigation into her death but it never feels boring or slow. The further I got into the story the more I wanted to know. 

I really liked Karen. She's close to my age - not some slip of a thing - with trauma in her past that she has shut away. The moment she reveals the truth is heartbreaking. I liked that she isn't perfect, and can make bad decisions, such as sleeping with Jounas, who doesn't have one redeemable feature, I don't think! I loved her friends -they sound a heap of fun and I liked her relationship with partner Karl Björken, a solid dependable guy. 

The other stand out character for me was Sigrid. An angry and sad young woman from a broken home, no real relationship with either parent, and having to deal with more than any eighteen year old should have to. She is beautifully written. 

I enjoyed finding out about Doggerland, made up of one main island and two smaller ones, each with their own characteristics and reputations. Whilst this is a fictionalised version I was fascinated to discover (good ole Wikipedia!) that Doggerland did actually exist, until it submerged under the North Sea some 8000 years ago. Anyway, I felt the islands themselves, particularly Heimö, definitely have their part to play in this tale. 

The storyline itself delves deep into Doggerland's recent past, investigating closed communities, exploring family relationships, uncovering previously hidden truths and linking together the past with the present. I liked that we saw the highs and lows of the investigation, felt the frustrations of the police. The denouement is atmospheric, unexpected, violent, and sad. 

Overall I enjoyed Fatal Isles very much. It's a strong debut and I'm intrigued to read the further instalments in the Doggerland series, so I'm hoping that they will also be translated into English. 


The Author:


Maria Adolfsson (b. 1958) lives in Stockholm where she writes full-time. The Doggerland series has been translated to 18 languages to date and has sold over 260,000 copies in Sweden alone.

Tuesday, 23 February 2021

Smoke Screen by Jørn Lier Horst & Thomas Enger (translated by Megan Turney)

I'm so pleased to be sharing my review of Smoke Screen, the new book from Jørn Lier Horst and Thomas Enger, featuring Alexander Blix and Emma Ramm who we first met in last year's Death Deserved. Huge thanks to Anne Cater at Random Things Tours for inviting me to join the blog tour and to the publisher for my review copy. I will be buying my own print copy.



The Blurb:

Oslo, New Year’s Eve. The annual firework celebration is rocked by an explosion and the city is put on terrorist alert. Police officer Alexander Blix and blogger Emma Ramm are on the scene, and when a severely injured survivor is pulled from the icy harbour, she is identified as the mother of two-year-old Patricia Semplass, who was kidnapped on her way home from kindergarten ten years earlier… and never found.

Blix and Ramm join forces to investigate the unsolved case, as public interest heightens, the terror threat is raised, and it becomes clear that Patricia’s disappearance is not all that it seems…

The second in the hard-boiled and furiously compelling Blix & Ramm series, created by Thomas Enger and Jørn Lier Horst, two of the biggest names in Nordic Noir. 

Smoke Screen was published by Orenda Books as an ebook on 18th December 2020 and in paperback on 18th February 2021. It is available to purchase from Orenda Books, Bookshop, Hive or your usual preferred bookseller. 



My Review:

The events in Smoke Screen take place very soon after those in Death Deserved. You don't need to have read the first book in the series to enjoy this - it works perfectly as a standalone - but as always with a series I feel you will have a richer reading experience if you check out the first book before coming to this one. 

Revellers are celebrating the turn of the year at the harbour close to Oslo City Hall including journalist Emma Ramm who is determined to put to bed a fearful notion she's had following the events of book one. On the stroke of midnight a bomb goes off killing four and injuring many more. Terrorism is suspected but when one of the most seriously injured victims is identified as the mother of a toddler who was kidnapped ten years previously and never found, Blix is convinced the attack is somehow linked to her. And he's willing to go up against his superiors in order to follow this kind of investigation. Emma senses a story in there and although she's struggling with a personal situation, sets out to see what she can dig up.

I love Alexander Blix. He's devoted to his job and doesn't have much of a life outside of it. I worry about him a little if I'm honest because he's on his own too much, although I was delighted to see him spending more time with his daughter this time around. But he's a solid, sound man, principled and a good detective. Dedicated and determined, in Smoke Screen he's like a dog with a bone, not willing to let go of the thin thread in his grasp, that but feeling that all is not what it seems. 

Young Emma has already been through lots of trauma in her twenty years, and she doesn't get it easy in this book either. She is determined to prove her worth as the crime reporter for an online newspaper and she tends to focus on her work in order not to deal with other things. She is also determined and headstrong, often recklessly putting herself at risk for the sake of a story. But she has excellent taste in contemplative music - an inspired choice and one I have enjoyed myself many times! 

The relationship between Alexander and Emma is an unusual and complex one. He feels a responsibility towards her stemming from an incident many years earlier, and she has come to view him as a father figure. But he is a cop and she is a journalist, so there are boundaries, limits as to what each can share with the other, Blix particularly, but limits are pushed and boundaries crossed. I do worry a little that Emma uses Alexander a bit whereas he seems to genuinely care about her. As I say, a complex relationship. 

The first half of the book is quite slow building as Blix's department investigates the bombing and he begins to look at the case of missing Patricia Semplass with fresh eyes. A lot of the key characters don't come into play in a big way until later in the story but my heart ached for Christer Storm Isaksen, shut away in a prison cell. The more minor players are exquisitely drawn (as are the main ones, of course) - there is a hotel cleaner whose movements and thoughts I followed with mounting dread - so well written. 

This is a story of a friendship tested to the limit, a broken family, lies, betrayal, murder, and an innocent wee girl. The latter part of the book is filled with tension as both our heroes put their necks on the line. The denouement is terrifying, explosive and, ultimately, sad, but there is a glimmer of hope at the end of the book for a couple of characters. Overall this is a tense, dark and often unsettling crime thriller, beautifully written by two skilled authors clearly in tune with each other. I don't know how the work is shared out between the pair as the whole thing flows seamlessly - I am in awe! I'm delighted there is a third Blix and Ramm on the way and await it impatiently! 

PS. Read the acknowledgements - they're fun! 


The Authors:

Jørn Lier Horst and Thomas Enger are the internationally bestselling Norwegian authors of the William Wisting and Henning Juul series respectively.



Jørn Lier Horst first rose to literary fame with his No. 1 internationally bestselling William Wisting series. A former investigator in the Norwegian police, Horst imbues all his works with an unparalleled realism and suspense.





Thomas Enger is the journalist-turned-author behind the internationally acclaimed and bestselling Henning Juul series. Enger’s trademark has become a darkly gritty voice paired with key social messages and tight plotting. Besides writing fiction for both adults and young adults, Enger also works as a music composer.
Death Deserved was Jørn Lier Horst & Thomas Enger’s first co-written thriller. They are currently working on the third book in the Blix & Ramm series.


Thursday, 11 February 2021

Deity by Matt Wesolowski

The Dark Prince of Northumbrian Noir (so crowned by Karen Sullivan) is back! One of my most anticipated reads for this year, Deity by Matt Wesolowski is out next Thursday and I'm delighted to share my review today. Huge thanks to Anne Cater for inviting me to take part in the blog tour and to the publisher for my review copy. I have since pre-ordered my own print copy.



The Blurb:

When pop megastar Zach Crystal dies in a fire at his remote mansion, his mysterious demise rips open the bitter divide between those who adored his music and his endless charity work, and those who viewed him as a despicable predator, who manipulated and abused young and vulnerable girls.

Online journalist, Scott King, whose ‘Six Stories’ podcasts have become an internet sensation, investigates the accusations of sexual abuse and murder that were levelled at Crystal before he died. But as Scott begins to ask questions and rakes over old graves, some startling inconsistencies emerge. Was the fire at Crystal’s remote home really an accident? Why was he never officially charged? Are reports of a haunting really true?

Dark, chillingly topical and deeply thought-provoking, Deity is both an explosive, spine-chilling thriller and a startling look at how heroes can fall from grace and why we are willing to turn a blind eye to even the most heinous of crimes…



My Review:

Deity is the fifth book in the brilliant Six Stories series following Six Stories, Hydra, Changeling and Beast.  If you haven't discovered these books yet, go and find them now, you won't regret it. 

Six Stories is a true crime podcast hosted by Scott King. For each podcast series (book) he speaks to six people with some connection to an unsolved crime or mysterious death. So people connected to the victim, the alleged perpetrator or maybe the scene of the crime. This way he allows his listeners to draw there own conclusions. Oh, and there's a sinister otherworldly thread running through each podcast series... In Deity, King's podcast run is about the recently deceased rock god Zach Crystal, who was adored worldwide and did endless charity work. But there were detractors too, and five women have come forward claiming to have been sexually abused by Crystal. King hears from both camps. And there is plenty of mystery about Crystal's death, and where he went on his 'time out', when he disappeared from public view for a year before returning with new music and a planned world tour shortly before the fire that took his life. 

Deity, like the others in the series, is presented as a podcast series with six episodes each preceded by an extract from a piece of media,in this case Crystal's triumphant TV interview after his year away. So we hear King's voice and those of his interviewees. I have said before that I find reading Matt's books a totally immersive experience and it was no different for Deity. The places he creates are so real - Colliecrith Forest in the Highlands sounds scary but beautiful. The same with the characters - although I'm reading the written word it feels like I am listening to Scott's podcasts - I can hear the voices of the contributors, in some cases build pictures of them in my head. The dialogue, as written by Wesolowski, feels completely natural - we hear the trip ups, the hesitations that we all experience when we're thinking on our feet, composing the answer to a question as we go. And they are such a varied collection of interviewees - the mother estranged from her Crystal crazy daughter was heartbreaking and I loved Craig Kerr from the Colliecrith Estate. Was especially impressed with the correct use of the Scottish word 'rammy'! 

One voice we don't hear, other than the TV interview snippets, is that of Zach Crystal, but his presence looms large over the whole thing. His character is, in turn, torn apart and built up during the course of the book, and it was hard to know what to think. In my head, he's a better looking Justin Hawkins from The Darkness (I'm SO sorry, Matt!) with an added ethereal quality. Whatever he has, girls go crazy for him. He has achieved cult status. And those that dare to speak up against him are hounded, vilified. The language used is bang up to date and generated a great discussion with my teenagers about the origin of the term 'stan' and the whole notion of doxxing. 

As with all Wesolowski's books Deity has a dark side.The story opens with two terrified girls lost in a forest in the middle of the night, convinced that someone, or something, is after them. It's one of those passages when I forgot to breathe. Then there are the awful accusations that Crystal abused teenage girls, his fans. And, finally, the Frithghast - the ghostly, part skeletal, part rotting, stag that Crystal claims to see just before something bad happens. And he's not the only one - some of his fans have seen it too... 

Wesolowski has once again successfully woven folklore in with an entirely current and relevant storyline. Deity is beautifully written, full of exquisitely crafted characters,  tense, dark, imaginative and immersive. Wesolowski shows us once again that the real monsters aren't the ones of legend. In a sad case of real life imitating art, the day after I finished reading this, singer Marilyn Manson was publicly accused of grooming and sexual abuse by Evan Rachel Wood and four other women... 

I love Matt Wesolowski's work, it's just brilliant. And fresh. And deliciously dark. I'm already looking forward to whatever comes next. 


The Author:


Matt Wesolowski is an author from Newcastle-upon-Tyne in the UK. He is an English tutor for young people in care. Matt started his writing career in horror, and his short horror fiction has been published in numerous UK and US based anthologies, such as Midnight Movie Creature, Selfies from the End of the World, Cold Iron and many more. His novella, The Black Land, a horror set on the Northumberland coast, was published in 2013. Matt was a winner of the Pitch Perfect competition at the Bloody Scotland Crime Writing Festival in 2015. His debut thriller, Six Stories, was an Amazon bestseller in the USA, Canada, the UK and Australia, and a WHSmith Fresh Talent pick, and film rights were sold to a major Hollywood studio. A prequel, Hydra, was published in 2018 and became an international bestseller. Changeling, the third book in the series, was published in 2019 and was longlisted for the Theakston’s Old Peculier Crime Novel of the Year. His fourth book, Beast, won the Amazon Publishing Readers’ Independent Voice Book of the Year award in 2020.

Tuesday, 9 February 2021

The Art of Death by David Fennell

Art just got very grim! I knew I had to read this book as soon as I saw the blurb and am thrilled today to share my review of The Art of Death by David Fennell today as part of the blog tour. Huge thanks to Tracy Fenton at Compulsive Readers for inviting me and to the publisher for my review copy. 



The Blurb:

London's latest art installation is a real killer . . .

An underground artist leaves three glass cabinets in Trafalgar Square that contain a gruesome installation: the corpses of three homeless men.

With the artist promising more to follow, newly-promoted Detective Inspector Grace Archer and her caustic DS, Harry Quinn, must race against time to follow what few clues have been left by a savvy killer.

As more bodies are exhibited at London landmarks and live streamed on social media, Archer and Quinn's pursuit of the elusive killer becomes a desperate search.

But when Archer discovers that the killer might be closer than she originally thought - she realises that he has his sights set firmly on her . . .

He is creating a masterpiece. 
And she will be the star of his show.

The Art of Death was published by Zaffre on 4th February 2021 and is available from Bookshop, Hive, Waterstones, Amazon and all good booksellers. 
 


My Review:

Well this was quite a ride! If I could have read this in one sitting I would have. I resented stopping for food, work, general adulting and, you know, a bit of sleep. What I'm trying to say is The Art of Death grabbed me from the get go and kept me turning the pages. 

DI Grace Archer is starting a new job at Charing Cross Police Station. She has a bit of history with the station which means she is greeted generally with wariness, suspicion and, in some cases, downright hostility. But her partner DS Harry Quinn is an exception and welcomes the new DI. He's just caught a case - members of the public are complaining that a new art installation, commissioned for the Lord Mayor's Show, in a nearby square is indecent and offensive. On arrival, Archer and Quinn discover the horrific true nature of the artwork... and set about trying to find the artist,  who is only known as @nonymous. 

Grace Archer is an interesting character. Efficient and effective, she is 'a straight down to business kind of girl, and much of the time we don't see much in the way of warmth from her. Fennell has painted a full portrait of a woman who has learned not to let her feelings show, not at work in front of colleagues anyway. And she has her reasons to do that, not only to fit in with her male peers but to keep some of her own memories locked away. What happens when they get out is vividly described by the author. And we see her armour crack open in her dealings with her grandfather, with whom she is staying. You can feel the genuine love and warmth between the two of them and the concern Grace has for his health. Something any of us with ageing parents or grandparents can relate to. And the professional relationship that develops between her and Quinn shows a growing trust and respect whilst never crossing boundaries. 

I adored Harry. He's the perfect partner for Archer. Straight up, solid, the kind of guy you know has got your back. I reckon he'd be great company in the pub too! He also has his secrets, but they don't stop him doing his job properly and being a reliable ally and back up for Grace. Beautifully drawn. Other characters that particularly stood out were Klara and Jordan - the latter brought tears to my eyes.  

The first chapter of this book is creepy as anything, and should serve as a warning to us all. A man sits in a café watching a possible target whilst searching her social media presence to flesh out the details and maybe point him towards further useful information such as her address. Whilst sitting there he also checks in on other possible victims and checks out people coming into the café with the same purpose in mind. It makes you stop and think about your own social media usage and how much you share - it did me anyway. And later @nonymous showcases his art on the same social media platforms, knowing it's the best way to obtain fame and notoriety. Although, I don't think that was his ultimate aim. I think he just wanted people to see his art and be shocked. 

The book follows the frantic race to stop @nonymous before he can display any more of his gruesome art. Before he even begins to make it. It's so well written that I was totally invested in it. There were moments when I held my breath as I turned the page, moments when my heart missed a beat, and at least one moment when I actually shouted out in shock. 

The Art of Death is an original, gripping and exciting crime thriller full of tension with two cracking leads. It's current and relevant, and should make us all think more carefully about the information we share publicly online. 

Before I go I just have to mention a couple of lighter moments that made me chuckle - an exchange between Grace and the new squeeze of a former boyfriend and the name of a takeaway that features in the investigation - genius. 


The Author:

David Fennell was born and raised in Belfast before leaving for London at the age of eighteen with £50 in one pocket and a dog-eared copy of Stephen King's The Stand in the other. He jobbed as a chef, waiter and bartender for several years before starting a career in writing for the software industry. He has been working in CyberSecurity for fourteen years and is a fierce advocate for information privacy.

To find out more, visit his website: www.davidfennell.co.uk and follow him on Twitter: @davyfennell



















Friday, 5 February 2021

The Lies I Tell by Joel Hames

Back in June of last year I took part in the blog tour for The Lies I Tell by Joel Hames. Since then Joel has joined Spellbound Books and The Lies I Tell is being reissued today with a brand sparkly new cover and I'm delighted to reshare my review to help celebrate the occasion. 




The Blurb:


SHE’S WATCHING YOU,

BUT WHO’S WATCHING HER?


From the bestselling author of Dead North, a tense, claustrophobic psychological thriller perfect for fans of Lucy Foley, Claire McGowan and Clare Mackintosh.

Meet Polly.
Meet Emily.
Meet Belinda.

They're all me.

My name is Lisa and I’m an identity thief. If I’m not inside your system stealing your money, I’ve probably already stolen it. I’m your friend. I’m a thief. I’m gone. I’m in control.

Only now, the tables have been turned. I’m in danger. My son is in danger. And I don’t know where that danger’s coming from.

Any friend.
Any enemy.
Any stranger.
Anyone from the past I’ve been trying to outrun for years.

NOBODY CAN BE TRUSTED.



My Review:

The Lies I Tell focuses on single mother Lisa, who isn't only Lisa but a host of other people - mainly online but sometimes in person. In fact, she's not even Lisa. Being an identity thief is a complicated business! After preying on countless people, Lisa now finds herself a victim has she is targeted by an unknown person who seems to know her every secret, even the darkest ones. Lisa fears for herself, but mostly for young son Simon. 

Being an identity thief looks exhausting! And incredibly complex. Lisa has so many balls to juggle at the same time, trying never to let one fall. And almost succeeding. Hames has clearly done his research into the kind of work required for this kind of scheme, all the magic techy stuff, as the details feel authentic.

I wanted to hate Lisa, but it was impossible to do anything but like her. I was rooting for her. Her story is told over a dual timeline, swapping between the present day (2016) and her growing up. The tales of her early childhood tugged at my heartstrings, and I felt so much for her as I watched her struggle, and these events shape her life. Now I thought I was someone who catastrophised, but I have nothing on Lisa! In every situation she finds herself, every single worst case scenario runs through her head. I can't imagine how wearing that is, but Hames describes it so well.

So many characters in this book are versions of Lisa herself I imagine the author had fun creating them. But I must mention Billy and Ida, two very different characters but both of whom I loved.

This is a very different cat and mouse chase as the hacker pursues Lisa and Simon, and Lisa tries to discover who it is that wants to do her harm. We see her vulnerabilities. Much of the action in this book is computer based but that doesn't stop it being exciting. The tension increases as Lisa and her tormentor edge closer together and towards a denouement which is exciting, shocking, sad and unexpectedly bloody.

This book is very apt for the current time when so many of us are active on social media and conduct much of our day to day business online. It's a warning for us to look at what we're doing, what information we share, who we let into our lives.  It's a tense, exciting story, with an interesting, engaging central character, which I really enjoyed. 


The Author:

Joel Hames lives in rural Lancashire, England, with his wife and two daughters, where he works hard at looking serious and pretending to be a proper novelist.

After a varied career in London which involved City law firms, a picture frame warehouse, an investment bank and a number of market stalls (he has been known to cry out "Belgian chocolates going cheap over 'ere" in his sleep), Joel relocated from the Big Smoke to be his own boss. As a result, he now writes what he wants, when he wants to (which by coincidence is when the rest of the family choose to let him).

Joel's first novel, Bankers Town, was published in 2014, and The Art of Staying Dead followed in 2015. The novellas Brexecution (written and published in the space of ten days following the UK's Brexit referendum, with half of the profits going to charity) and Victims were published in 2016 and 2017 respectively.

Joel's website can be found at http://www.joelhamesauthor.com, where you can find out more about the writer and the books, and sign up to his email newsletter. If you want to know what Joel has planned for the future, what he thinks right now, or just stalk him a little, you can find him on Facebook at facebook.com/joelhamesauthor or Twitter at @joel_hames. Joel has never seen the word "Joel" appear as frequently as it does right here, and wholeheartedly approves.

Tuesday, 2 February 2021

Song of the Psychopath by Mark Tilbury


I'm delighted to share my review of Mark Tilbury's latest book Song of the Psychopath, which is out on Thursday. I had the pleasure of beta reading this last year and re-read it recently, and it is so dark! Pitch black, really.



The Blurb:

A year after going missing from home, Tommy Scarlett is found unconscious in an isolated country road. He has a fractured skull, broken wrist, and numerous other injuries. Recovering in hospital, Tommy has no recollection of the past. He doesn’t even recognize his own family.

After returning home, Tommy suffers severe headaches and acute depression. Desperate to help him, his father puts him into the care of a private therapist. But Tommy soon learns his troubles are far from over.

As the past is slowly unlocked, it becomes increasingly clear that Tommy has suffered an ordeal so horrendous it beggars belief. And those responsible are determined to silence him by any means possible.

Can Tommy find out what really happened to him and bring those responsible to justice?

Or will the past finally catch up with him and finish him off for good?

Song of the Psychopath will be published by Tilbury Publishing on 4th February and is available for pre-order from Amazon (paperback is already available for order).



My Review:

Tommy is found on a country road with serious injuries one year after going missing a year earlier following an argument with his sister Danielle. He has no memories of anything prior to the moment he is found, no recollections of his family life or school friends. Unsurprisingly he is angry and confused and lashes out at those who love him. His physical injuries take a while to heal and he has scars on his back and buttocks that have clearly been caused by another person But the mental and emotional damage is a while other thing. Most worryingly, he starts to have blackouts, going into a kind of fugue state and exhibiting strange behaviours. Sometimes he can remember what happened during these moments, other times not, but it becomes increasingly clear that Tommy has been through something hugely traumatic during his year away, and that there are people who will do whatever necessary to make sure he doesn't tell anyone anything about what happened should his memories return.

Oh blimey! I went through every emotion reading this book! Tilbury is known for his dark, hard hitting books, which have earned him his 'Twisted Tilbury' title. I haven't read all of them, but I've read a good number and this is certainly the darkest of them. This is not a book for the faint hearted, and it covers subjects that could be upsetting for some. 

Poor Tommy! Goodness, my heart went out to him. The author paints a very clear picture of him - a young man, a boy really, full of  pain, frustration, desperation and anger. As he lashed out at those who love him, I just wanted to wrap him up in the biggest hug. His 'episodes' are frighteningly described and very vivid, as are the resulting effects on Tommy. The frustration of his parents also comes from the pages, but I would have liked to see Rachel, Tommy's mother as a stronger character, really fighting for her boy. But I loved his sister Danielle, who does everything she can to try to help her brother find peace. And Jordan is just the loveliest lad.

On the flip side, there are some absolutely detestable characters in this book. Violent and evil. They are all well drawn and their evil deeds are described  very graphically. I winced more than once, at one scene particularly. But I was totally invested in these characters and needed to see where the story took them. 

The storyline was really interesting. We see Tommy struggling with recalling distressing fragments of memories alongside the nefarious planning and ongoing misdeeds of others, some of which are very imaginative, as we go hurtling towards the moment the two strands come together, and one heck of a denouement. Along the way, there was one huge OMG! for me, a real 'What the...?' moment. I suspect many of you will feel the same. And the very end gave me a lump in my throat. 

This is a dark, tense and twisted psychological thriller with varied, well rounded characters throughout. It does contain a lot of violence so it won't be everyone's cup of tea but it gripped me from the get go and kept me glued to the pages. I loved it. 


The Author:


Mark lives in a small village in the lovely county of Cumbria, although his books are set in Oxfordshire where he was born and raised.

He's always had a keen interest in writing and after being widowed and raising his two daughters, Mark finally took the plunge and began self-publishing. After being published by an indie publisher Mark has now returned to self-publishing and re-launched his back catalogue, before his new thriller, Song of the Psychopath, is published this month. 

When he's not writing, Mark can be found playing guitar, reading and walking.

Hunted by Alex Knight

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