Blog Tour – August 2022 – After She’d Gone – Alex Dahl

Alex Dahl is a name new to crimeworm…but this is in fact the THIRD book in this series!

Yes indeedy – and here’s the thing…’s really bloody good! I mean, totally engrossing! August is turning out to be a very expensive month, book-wise, because I’ve reviewed lots of books that are already a few into a series, and I’ve loved them, and had to put their predecessors on that list marked, “Books Wanted,” that I hide on my phone away from my prying partner’s eyes. (This is because the thought of me buying more books would probably end in my murder. I’m just letting you guys know, in case I disappear…) Anyway, we had this same conversation in the last review…so, enough said. Onwards, to the book.

O-kay. Now we’ve got your blethering out of the way, tell us a bit about the book, as that’s why we’re here…

This book essentially concerns three women, whose stories interlink in the book. First of all, there’s Liv, who lives a very quiet, almost hermit-like existence in the small town of Sandefjord, Norway. Her life revolves around her son, Adrian, who’s on the spectrum and uses elective mutism all the time, and is obsessive when it comes to aeroplanes. The two are devoted to each other, to the exclusion of others. One night, Liv disappears, as does Adrian. The police are not too concerned – there’s no sign of violence, and they have little to go on. It looks as though Liv has simply decided to move on

One person who is concerned is Norwegian journalist, Selma. She’s recently written a big expose of powerful men using their positions and money to abuse young, naive models from small towns – girls who’d led sheltered lives and were easily awestruck by the wealth, designer clothes, and endless champagne. To them, it’s a whole different, new world, and the last thing they want to do is return home in disgrace, having messed up what they regard as the only chance they’ll ever have to escape poverty – and, crucially, to help their families escape it, too. They’re easy pickings for a group of powerful men who encircle new models like vultures. Due, Selma believes, to the power these men exert, her story has been spiked, to her fury. When she learns more about Liv’s past, she believes she may also have been preyed upon by these men.

Finally, there’s Anastasia. Plucked from obscurity in a small Russian town, she finds herself in Milan, attending castings, meeting the glamorous sophisticated people who populate the fashion industry. Chosen to be the face of a new campaign, she’s flown to the Maldives…and that’s when the scales fall from her eyes. She realises it’s not a dream she’s landed in, but something more akin to a nightmare.

So these three women’s stories intertwine in this book?

They do indeed – and it’s a very timely story, in the post-#MeToo era, when women from all over the world are standing up and saying, “Enough is enough.”

But the men in this story are incredibly rich and powerful – and they’re also ruthless, too. How can you bring someone down…if you’re not around to talk any more…?

Another enjoyable read then?

Absolutely; very much so. Head of Zeus have always been one of my favourite imprints, and they’re getting better and better. The short chapters in this book ensure the story races along, and the main characters are likeable, believable, and have you rooting for them from start to finish – Alex Dahl’s past career as a model gives the chapters on modelling added authenticity. Yet again it looks like I’m going to have to invest in an author’s backlist! I really flew through this story, getting irritated whenever I was interrupted and had to put the book down, or when it got ridiculously late (pretty much every night…)

I’d suggest that, if you’re not familiar with Alex Dahl’s name yet, remember it, as she’s got an innate understanding of what turns a book into a real pageturner, which can then, with the right promotion, become a bestseller. I confidently predict she’s going to be stratospheric.

One of the best books I’ve read this year – and it’s been a stellar year so far!

With thanks to Sophie Ransom at Ransom PR for the invitation to participate in this Blog Tour, and to Head Of Zeus for the ARC. This in no way affected my opinion, and this is an honest review.

Author Alex Dahl

Why not check out what some of the other superb bloggers on this tour thought of After She’d Gone, and whether they’d loved it as much as I did?

BLURB: Unsettling, gripping and glamorous. A timely psychological thriller about the danger of beauty, the lure of power, and the fierce love of a mother for her son.

Liv keeps a low profile in Sandefjord, Norway: she’s just another tired single mother, trying to make ends meet. She has never told her son about the secrets she carries or the life she lived before he was born. She will do anything to keep him safe.

Anastasia’s life is transformed when she moves from Russia to Milan to work as a model. She’s rich. She’s desired. But there’s a dark side to the high-pressure catwalk shows; the sun-baked Italian palazzos; the drink-fuelled after-parties hosted by powerful men. Soon, she will do anything to escape.

Selma is a journalist in Oslo. She’s investigating scandals in the modelling industry, but can’t get her article published. Then a woman goes missing in Sandefjord. Now Selma is about to uncover the biggest story of her life…

Blog Tour – August 2022 – Whisper Of The Seals – Roxanne Bouchard

This book’s from an imprint crimeworm regards as one of the most consistently impressive, particularly in one area…

Yes! Orenda Books is uniformly wonderful, but particularly so when it comes to ferreting out fiction from other languages, and translating it into English so us Brits can enjoy it. This book comes from Quebec, and as ever with Orenda the translation is of high quality, ensuring we can enjoy it seamlessly.

So can you give us a lowdown on what to expect?

Fisheries Officer Simone Lord, stationed for the winter in the Magdalen Islands, located off the Gaspe Peninsula, is unexpectedly stationed aboard the trawler, the Jean Mathieu, on a late season voyage, hunting seals. Her job is to ensure that all fisheries regulations are adhered to, and to label the pelts. It’s quickly obvious that she isn’t welcome aboard: both her job and her sex ensure that. The world of fisherman is rough, ready and sexist – they don’t appreciate having a woman aboard, getting in the way, and doing what they regard as a man’s job. When it becomes apparent that there may be more intended on this trip than seal hunting, her interference is even less appreciated….

Detective Joaquin Morales, meanwhile, is also offshore, on a cross-country skiing and cruising holiday. Accompanying him are friends Erik Lefebvre and Nadine Lauzon. Having recently got divorced, he’s struggling to adjust to the single life again. Nadine’s job is as a forensic psychologist, and she’s musing over her latest case of a teenager beaten to death. Morales deals with his feelings of loneliness and isolation by helping her chew over the motives and perpetrators of such a brutal attack – it seems possible that drug trafficking may be involved.

So they’re dealing with two separate cases, in this book?

Well, as it’s crime fiction, don’t be too surprised if there’s a connection between the cases, although it takes a bit of time to reveal itself. The book is really enjoyably suspenseful and has a nice steady pace, once they’re aboard the Jean Mathieu and have set sail. The wonderfully descriptive writing ensures you can feel the bitter cold – both the weather and the atmosphere between Lord and the fishermen, who are, as you’d expect, a rough-and-ready bunch. Life on the peninsula is hard and not for the faint-hearted. The seal hunters are taking a risk with their timing too – they’re leaving this trip to late in the season, which makes being stuck in the ice more likely.

The ending is satisfactorily tense, and if, like me, you haven’t read the first two books in this series (We Were The Salt Of The Sea and The Coral Bride) you’ll be relieved to hear it isn’t difficult to pick things up from here. However, it won’t surprise many of you if I say they are on my “Must Read” list. Orenda have a tendency to do that to me!

Highly recommended crime fiction which took me right out of my comfort zone!

With thanks to Anne Cater at Random Things Tours for inviting me on this Blog Tour, and to Orenda Books for the ARC. This has not affected my opinion, and this is an honest review.

Author Roxanne Bouchard

Check out the opinions of some of the other superb bloggers taking part in this Blog Tour!

BLURB: There’s only one thing more deadly than the storm…
Fisheries officer Simone Lord is transferred to Quebec’s remote Magdalen Islands for the winter, and at the last minute ordered to go aboard a trawler braving a winter storm for the traditional grey seal hunt, while all of the other boats shelter onshore.
Detective Sergeant Joaquin Moralès is on a cross-country boat trip down the St Lawrence River, accompanied by Nadine Lauzon, a forensic psychologist working on the case of a savagely beaten teenager with Moralès’ old team in Montreal. 
When it becomes clear that Simone is in grave danger aboard the trawler, the two cases converge, with startling, terrifying consequences for everyone involved…

The award-winning author of The Coral Bride returns with an atmospheric, race-against-the-clock thriller set on the icy seas in the midst of a brutal seal hunt, where nothing is as it seems and absolutely no one can be trusted. 

Blog Tour – August 2022 – The Party House – Lin Anderson

crimeworm is a big fan of Lin Anderson’s Dr Rhona MacLeod series, about a forensic scientist. This is a standalone – how does it measure up?

I’m such a big fan of Lin Anderson that I read this book as soon as I possibly could – I normally read books strictly in the order in which they’re to be reviewed, but this one jumped the queue! Dr Rhona MacLeod books are usually – but not exclusively – set in Glasgow, but this one is set in the Highlands, on a shooting estate. Having been brought up in such a background, I combed it carefully (and quizzed my Dad, who’s from further north – he even beat grouse for Prime Minister-to-be, Harold Macmillan, as a 11-year-old, and was rewarded with a £5 note, a massive sum in the early 1950s) looking for any mistakes. There were absolutely none!

Okay, so it’s set on a shooting estate. Tell us more…

Like most estates, this one earns its money by taking in parties, who go out shooting accompanied by a gamekeeper, in this case Greg, one of the principal characters. While there the groups stay at what locals call “The Party House,” as it’s become synonomous with wild parties involving large amounts of booze and drugs. During lockdown one such group came to the village, despite it being against the law, and with them they unknowingly brought a particularly virulent strain of Covid – which spread to the village, resulting in the death of five very young children, as well as the District Nurse.

So, when news gets out that The Party House is going to reopen, with Greg going to London to a game fair to promote the stunning all-mod-cons house, beautiful Highland estate and the shooting, the people of the village of Blackrig are not happy. While Greg is in London he speaks to Joanne, a journalist, to help advertise the estate. He has a fling with her, inviting her up to stay, little expecting her to appear – which she does, not long after he’s home! He’s delighted to see her – they both feel the connection they made in London had the potential to be something more.

However, Joanne has an ulterior motive, and had deliberately targeted Greg – she desperately needs to find somewhere to stay, as remote as possible, for reasons of her own.

But something disturbing happens shortly after Joanne arrives, doesn’t it?

It does indeed. A village hall meeting discussing the reopening of the estate for the first time since the lockdown deaths becomes somewhat heated, due to a group of youths related to some of the children who died interrupting it, and making threats towards the estate’s owners. Later that night, Greg’s out walking. He’s unable to sleep, thinking about the recent arrival of Joanne; the inevitable jealousy of his ex, Caroline; the reopening of the estate and the impact it could have, when he sees a group of balaclava-clad individuals.. As it’s a small village, he recognises the youths by their voices, and they smash up the paving stones around the hot tub the owners had installed close to the house. Spotting something unexpected concealed beneath, they take fright and run. Afterwards, going to investigate, Greg realises it’s the body of Ailsa – a young woman in her late teens who’d disappeared five years previously. After an investigation had netted no indication of foul play, it was presumed that she’d returned to Glasgow, from where her family had moved.

So it looks as though someone local – or staying locally – was responsible for her death, and her body being concealed under the hot tub…

Exactly – and, as before, police arrive from Inverness. They assume, as Ailsa was an attractive young woman with no shortage of male admirers, that her murderer was one of the local men. They’re all summoned to the village hall – the ad-hoc police base – to give statements and DNA tests.

But Joanne can’t help wondering: what’s Greg got to be so worried about?

What else is happening in the book?

As well as Ailsa’s body, there’s the imminent arrival of the estate owners, the same people who brought the fatal strain of Covid to the community. Joanne is desperately praying no one will come looking for her in the remote corner of the Highlands where she’s hiding, while also hoping Greg doesn’t learn what she’s writing about Blackrig. And, of course, being a journalist, she can’t help but show an interest in Ailsa’s death…

The police begin to close in on anyone they think could have had a hand in Ailsa’s death, and as the long hot summer days with no rain stretch on, the woods around the village only need one spark to go up like a tinderbox…life in Blackrig could be set to get very hot indeed…

Whoa! Sounds like there’s loads going on in this book!

There is – and I absolutely flew through this novel, loving every page – I really enjoyed feeling like it was familiar territory Lin Anderson was writing about, but even if you haven’t visited the Highlands she brings the area beautifuly to life. Ditto as regards her characters, but she’s always been skilled at breathing life into her cast, as anyone who’s read a Rhona MacLeod book will know. I didn’t find it hugely difficult to guess who killed Ailsa – the relatively small number of characters ensures that – but it’s not just Ailsa’s death that makes this book so compelling. No, it’s all the other things going on, too, so that the drama just doesn’t stop. It’s an absolutely cracking thriller, and I was absolutely gutted when I turned the last page and realised I would be leaving Blackrig, and those who populate it. It’s an utter corker of a book, a real rip-roaring read, and ensures Lin Anderson more than deserves her place at the very top table of those who write Scottish crime fiction.

This has been a great year for crime fiction, and The Party House is among the best – 2022 is truly spoiling crime and thriller fans!

Miss this at your peril!

With thanks to Anne Cater at Random Things Tours for the invitation to participate in the Blog Tour, and Pan Macmillan for the ARC. This has not affected my review of the book, and this is my honest opinion.

Author Lin Anderson

Follow all the other magnificent bloggers and see what they thought of The Party House!

BLURB: Devastated by a recent pandemic brought in by outsiders, the villagers of Blackrig in the Scottish Highlands are outraged when they find that the nearby estate plans to reopen its luxury ‘party house’ to tourists.

As animosity sparks amongst the locals, part of the property is damaged and, in the ensuing chaos, the body of a young girl is found in the wreck. Seventeen-year-old Ailsa Cummings went missing five years ago, never to be seen again – until now.

The excavation of Ailsa’s remains ignites old suspicions cast on the men of this small community, including Greg, the estate’s gamekeeper. At the beginning of a burgeoning relationship with a new lover, Joanne, Greg is loath to discuss old wounds. Frightened by Greg’s reaction to the missing girl’s discovery, Joanne begins to doubt how well she knows this new man in her life. Then again, he’s not the only one with secrets in their volatile relationship . . .

Blog Tour – August 2022 – All The Wicked Games – Lauren North

This is your first Lauren North psychological thriller – how did you find it?

OMG! It may be my first, but I can certainly assure you it won’t be my last! Nerve-shredding, nail-biting, high-stakes, mega-tense – yes, this book will put you the psychological wringer – in the best possible way, of course! The only real disappointment? That I’ve finished it…

So spill the beans – who and what is this book you found so fabulous all about?

It’s about two women in their mid-twenties, Cleo and Rachel, and is set in alternating chapters: some from both girls, and set five years ago. Back then, they’d not long studied make-up artistry together, and became best friends, living in a shared house in Bethnal Green in London owned by Simon. He inherited the house and lets out the rooms, whilst also living in his own converted flat within the house, when he isn’t working away.

Cleo and Rachel work on a make-up counter in Selfridges (which Rachel in particular really dislikes, and does little to hide it), looking out for jobs in television, film, etc in the meantime. At night, skint, they eat and drink cheap food and wine, and, fuelled by the latter, practice their make up skills on each other and go on a website called CamChat, which is a (supposedly) random online site where you can meet new people. You can choose to skip (as they do, when it comes to the numerous pervy blokes), or chat until one of the two parties wants to skip, but the algorithm is meant to be designed so that you don’t run into the same people again – after all, of all the people in the world supposedly using it at any point in time, what would be the chances of running into the same person or people again, on another occasion? Miniscule, right? However, what the girls don’t know is that a feature of the algorithm means that the longer you speak to someone, the higher the chance you’ll be matched again. And because they play what they call, “the game,” making themselves up using their skills with cosmetics, then telling elaborate lies to the people they meet, something really bad eventually happens, due to this unexpected feature of the algorithm, and their propensity for screwing people around and telling lies (Rachel is definitely the keener of the two on CamChat, until it eventually begins to impinge on real life.)

And so what’s happening now, five years on…?

Well, due to that really bad thing happening – the full details of which we don’t get until a good bit through the book, but suffice to say it involves the police – Cleo and Rachel’s lives have taken different paths. Cleo is working as a spa manager on a cruise ship, while Rachel is still in London, living in the same room in the same flat; even driving the same car. They were no longer in touch – until, when the book begins, Cleo receives a text from Beth, Rachel’s sister, saying that Rachel was missing, and had she seen her…? Rachel had told her sister they were back in touch, and were planning to meet up – the very night Rachel disappeared.

Despite both her sister and Cleo reporting her as a missing person, the police refuse to believe she’s done anything rather than gone somewhere of her own volition, and class her disappearance as “low risk.” So it looks like Cleo is her only hope.

And – don’t tell me! – this game of theirs is somehow involved, isn’t it?

It certainly is – and this time someone else is will be deciding what the rules are…and for Cleo to find Rachel, it looks like The Game is the only clue she has. Despite her reluctance to get involved again, and her fear, it appears to be her only way forward.

They survived before, but not without scars – both mental and physical. This time, will they survive the new version of the game…?

Sounds like a great plot! It kept you reading then?

It’s an absolutely superb plot, and it certainly kept me turning pages late into the night, as well as any spare moments I could find during the day. It’s that sort of book – the one you just do not want to put down!

It’s an absolutely perfect example of a psychological thriller – a market which is saturated, but this is superior to 99% of them. I am most definitely going to have to invest in Lauren North’s earlier novels. I can’t believe I haven’t heard of her before now (but that gives me the bonus of a backlist of four previous novels! Yay!)

I only hope this book is as successful as it deserves to be.

This will absolutely be one of my favourite books of 2022 – without question!

With thanks to Anne Cater at Random Things Tours for the blog tour invitation, and to Penguin Random House for the ARC. This has not affected my review of this book, which reflects my honest opinion.

Author Lauren North

Check out the other fabulous bloggers’ views on All The Wicked Games!

BLURB: Are you ready to play?
Best friends Cleo and Rachel spend their evenings pretending to be people they’re not, inventing elaborate stories to escape the monotony of their real lives. It’s all harmless fun – until they play the game on the wrong person…
It’s your move now.

Five years later, Cleo is still struggling to come to terms with the night that destroyed her friendship with Rachel and almost cost them their lives. And then she receives a text: Rachel is missing. Have you seen her?
There’s only one person to blame.
Wracked with guilt for failing Rachel the last time they were in danger, Cleo races to find her friend. But could the past be repeating itself? Only this time, they’re caught up in a far darker game.
The rules don’t matter when the goal is revenge.

Blog Tour – August 2022 – Guilt – Heather Burnside

Having been unwell for much of the end of July and start of August, I have several blog tours I committed too and was unable to complete. However, it’s my intention to post them now I’m on the road to recovery. So, I’ll begin with this book – a gangland thriller set in Manchester..

I’m not usually a big fan of gangland thrillers – I used to read some, but found many of them all blurred into one. However, as I review crime fiction, it seemed only fair I had another look at this genre of books. As I hadn’t read Heather Burnside before, and because Head Of Zeus is one of my absolute favourite imprints, when the blog tour invitation landed in my inbox, it seemed like serendipity, and an ideal place to start!

Who and what is Guilt about?

Our two principal characters are Laura, an ex-prostitute who’s now clean from alcohol and drugs, and now owns a chain of designer clothes shops called Crystals (after her old nom de plume as a working girl) around Manchester, and her daughter Candice, who’s just finished her first year at university. Laura is doing her best to make it up to Candice for the difficult early years of her life, and mother and daughter are very close. Candice has a nice boyfriend, Thomas, and it’s quite a serious relationship. However, there’s someone with a grudge against Laura – and it’s escalating. It begins with grafitti on the shop shutters, then there are attacks on Laura’s employees…but it goes on to get a whole lot closer to home for Laura…

So who’s got it in for Laura? Do we have any ideas?

To be honest, I didn’t find it hugely difficult to figure out who was ultimately behind the vendetta – but it didn’t detract from my enjoyment of the book at all. The big question was, why did this person have such hatred for Laura? What did she do that caused her to suffer the “guilt” of the title? What skeletons did she have in her closet that someone wanted to punish her for…?

Did you enjoy this book? Has Heather Burnside found a new fan?

Well, despite my initial misgivings (all my fault, for being presumptuous about the genre), Guilt proved a really compelling pageturner! It was absolutely packed with action, and Laura proved a great heroine – she was a three dimensional character, not always doing the smartest things. That only made her more realistic and sympathetic. All in all, Guilt was a lesson to me: to not always judge a book by the genre you perceive it to belong to. Also, that by giving something a wee bit different an opportunity, you may just discover a nugget of gold!

And as to the above question – yes, Heather Burnside has most certainly found a new fan!

Thoroughly enjoyable and action packed – definitely worth reading!

With thanks to Sophie Ransom at Ransom PR for the blog tour invitation, and Head of Zeus for the ARC. This has not affected my opinion of the book, and this is an honest review.

Author Heather Burnside

Look back at the reviews by all these superb bloggers!

BLURB: Someone knows what she did…

Businesswoman Laura Sharples owns a fashionable chain of clothing shops, but not so long ago she called herself Crystal and worked the streets of Manchester. Although she’s moved on, she’s never forgotten how far she had to go to beat her addictions and raise her daughter, Candice.

But when Laura’s business is repeatedly vandalised, she begins to fall back into old habits to cope with the stress. As the attacks escalate, the police have no leads. But Laura is terrified: someone must know the truth about who she used to be…

And they won’t stop until she loses everything.

Blog Tour – August 2022 – A Corruption Of Blood – Ambrose Parry

So for those of you who don’t know, Ambrose Parry is the name under which best selling crime fiction author Chris Brookmyre writes with his consultant anaesthiologist wife, Marisa Haertzman…

This is the third in the Raven & Fisher series, set in mid-19th century Edinburgh, just available in paperback…and wow, is it good! It’s a real pageturner, and, reading this, it’s easy to see why Brookmyre has been the only author up for the McIlvanney Prize every year since its inception.

But Brookmyre doesn’t usually write historical fiction, correct?

No, his books written alone are set in the present day. But making use of the knowledge his wife gained whilst studying for a History of Medicine Degree, the two of them have combined forces to come up with this fantastic series, cleverly set in Edinburgh. As well as being steeped in history, it was at that time one of the leading places in Europe to study medicine, and was at the centre of the Enlightenment in the previous century. Indeed, as Voltaire had said, “We look to Scotland for all our ideas of civilisation.”

But it’s still crime fiction, isn’t it?

It certainly is – real keep-you-up-all-night crime fiction! And just in case you’re worried about not having read the first two books, don’t worry – it works perfectly well as a standalone (although I’d be most surprised if you didn’t immediately get hold of the first two in the series after reading this!) I’d also say this – if you think historical fiction isn’t really your bag – perhaps you think it’ll be a bit too much like hard work, or being back at school – I’d give this book a whirl. I’ll guarantee it’ll make you a convert.

Okay, sounds great so far – but what’s the storyline?

Well, Dr Will Raven and Sarah Fisher have had a “will-they-won’t-they” storyline going on in the previous two books. In this book, while Sarah is in Europe investigating the possibility of a woman studying medicine – a radical idea then! – Raven has found himself a new love interest, who begs him to help a childhood friend accused of murdering his father. Despite having a dislike for this man, with whom he studied medicine, he’s smitten with Eugenie, his new flame, and tells her that he will investigate – albeit somewhat reluctantly.

He’s also tangentially involved in the case of a dead baby which was wrapped in paper and dumped in the waters at Leith, due to being present when it was discovered. Things take a nasty turn when the post-mortem reveals the infant was murdered,

Meanwhile, Sarah is investigating a possible case of baby-farming in the less salubrious area of the Old Town. Both their investigations are wonderfully written, and kept me up well past my bedtime. There are, as ever, some excellent books in the longlist for the McIlvanney Prize 2022, but this one absolutely has to be a front-runner. It’s spell-binding stuff – but I’d expect nothing less from this exceptional team!

Absolutely not to be missed!

With thanks to Anne Cater of Random Things Tours, and to Canongate for the ARC. This has not affected this review which is my honest opinion.

Ambrose Parry – aka Chris Brookmyre and Marisa Haertzman

Check out the other magnificent bloggers participating in this Blog Tour

BLURB: Edinburgh. This city will bleed you dry.

Dr Will Raven is a man seldom shocked by human remains, but even he is disturbed by the contents of a package washed up at the Port of Leith. Stranger still, a man Raven has long detested is pleading for his help to escape the hangman.

Back in the townhouse of Dr James Simpson, Sarah Fisher has set her sights on learning to practise medicine. Almost everyone seems intent on dissuading her from this ambition, but when word reaches her that a woman has recently obtained a medical degree despite her gender, Sarah decides to seek her out.

Raven’s efforts to prove his former adversary’s innocence are failing and he desperately needs Sarah’s help. Putting their feelings for one another aside, their investigations take them to both extremes of Edinburgh’s social divide, where they discover that wealth and status cannot alter a fate written in the blood.

Blog Tour – August 2022 – The Girl In The Photo – Heidi Amsinck

Denmark is a different setting for crimeworm, despite having read crime fiction based in all the other Scandinavian countries…

It is indeed, if my memory serves me correctly – although I have read a fair bit of crime fiction over the years, so apologies if I’m wrong! Anyway, this is a skilled and enjoyable diversion from Heidi Amsinck. It’s technically number two in the series, but don’t worry if you haven’t read book one, My Name Is Jensen, as I haven’t and I had no problem putting together the backstory.

So what is the story in this one…?

DI Henrik Jungersen’s latest case involves the deaths of three seemingly unconnected elderly women, but the clue that binds them is that a photo is left at the scene of each murder which appears to picture the same girl (hence the title.) And he also has to deal with the fact that one of the victims owned a very expensive diamond necklace…The family of this particular victim are unhappy with the progress Henrik is making, and go about hiring Jensen, a former investigative reporter, who takes on the case, along with her assistant, Gustav.

This makes things slightly awkward for Henrik, as he and Jensen had previously had an affair and he is now attempting to avoid her – something which will be difficult when they’re investigating the same case!

What did you most enjoy about this book?

The characters – particularly Jensen – are all interesting and well-developed, with reveals about their backgrounds ensuring they come across as well-rounded and believable. This isn’t a fast-paced, all-action book; more of a slow drip-drip of information, with a belter of a twist at the end. Henrik and Jensen make a great team, with an undeniable attraction between them, and ensure I will be looking out for book three, as well as catching up on the events in My Name Is Jensen by purchasing it as soon as possible.

A really promising new addition to the ScandiNoir stable – if that’s your thing (and it is certainly mine!), then this is definitely worth investing in.

Very highly recommended!

With thanks to Anne Cater at Random Things Tours for inviting me to participate in this blog tour, and to Muswell Press for the ARC. This did not influence my opinion of the book and this is a fair review.

Author Heidi Amsinck

Check out all the fantastic bloggers who took part in the Blog Tour!

BLURB: When ninety-year-old Irene Valborg is found brutally murdered in an affluent suburb of Copenhagen, her diamond necklace missing, it looks like a burglary gone wrong. When two more victims are attacked, the police lament a rise in violence against the elderly, but who is the young girl in the photo found by DI Henrik Jungersen on the scenes of crime? Impatient to claim her inheritance, Irene’s daughter hires former Dagbladet reporter Jensen and her teenage apprentice Gustav to find the necklace. Henrik finds himself once more pitched in a quest for the truth against Jensen – the one woman in Copenhagen he is desperate to avoid.

Blog Tour – August 2022 – By Her Own Design – Piper Huguley

Yes, I know what you’re thinking – this isn’t crimeworm’s usual fare…but I was so intrigued when I read about this book, I knew I couldn’t refuse the opportunity to read and review it…

It’s the story of Ann Lowe, a young black fashion designer who learnt to sew from her mother and grandmother (her grandmother had been a slave; that’s how close Ann was to that ignominious chapter in history.) But she was a fast learner, and grew up to surpass her mother and grandmother, in vision, talent and achievement.

So was it the inspiring nature of Ann’s story that appealed most of all?

Not initially – it was the fact that I adore clothes, and the history of clothes design. I’ve only been able to splash out on a few designer handbags in my life – fashion designers don’t tend to design for, shall I say, curvier women like me. (And since becoming disabled, it’s even harder keeping control of my, er, curviness. Or fat, to be blunt.) However, it doesn’t stop me enjoying seeing what others wear, and complimenting them on it.

However, once I was engrossed in Ann’s story she did come across as an exceptionally inspiring woman. She was obsessed with the idea of opening her own shop, and because of her incredible skill – she didn’t use patterns, as she said she could picture what she was designing in her head – white women flocked to her to get their clothes made in the latest fashions and colours.

But her life wasn’t without tragedy and sadness, was it?

It certainly wasn’t – she lost her grandmother and mother within a short space of each other, and made the mistake of marrying a slick-talking tailor who really only wanted her skill with a needle. She was so young and small when she gave birth to her son it left her unable to bear more children (this all happens fairly early in the book, so I don’t really think I’m veering heavily into spoiler territory by revealing this.)

So I’m guessing she managed to extricate herself from this marriage…

She did, although I’m revealing no more of the plot! Suffice to say Ann took her mother and grandmother’s advice, which was, “to find white folks who are good to you.” Ann manages this, and then some, although their quid pro quo was to have one of the finest dressmakers of the time create showstopping wedding gowns, trousseaux, ballgowns, and everyday dresses for them – and the friends they let in to their best kept secret!

She’s quite an inspiration, then?

She absolutely is, and I feel it’s somewhat sad that her name’s been airbrushed from fashion history – particularly as she was responsible for the design and creation of one of the most famous and beautiful wedding dresses of the 20th Century – the one worn by the stunning 24-year-old Jacqueline Bouvier when she married the up-and-coming young Senator, John Fitzgerald Kennedy, Jr. The rest of that particular union is, as they say, history…

Jacqueline Bouvier’s wedding dress, as designed and created by Ann Lowe

An accident in her showroom meant Ann had to start from scratch ten days before the wedding, didn’t it?

It did – and with the help of ladies from her church, she managed to recreate the wedding dress as well as those of the bridesmaids (again, this isn’t a spoiler, as this accident – if it was one, as opposed to sabotage – is revealed at the very beginning of the book.) However, it meant Ann took a bit of a hit financially on the creations, rather than turning the large profit she deserved.

Overall, though, you enjoyed this book?

Wow, yes, I so did! Ann is someone you can’t help rooting for, from her childhood, to her teenage years, to adulthood. I find it sad that her name is not better known, but hopefully, with the publication of this book, more and more people will discover her work, and her name will eventually be up there with the best known fashion designers of the middle years of the 20th Century, like Coco Chanel and Yves Saint Laurent.

As this isn’t my usual type of read, I’m finding it difficult to find books to compare it to, but one book I particularly enjoyed which I think it’s comparable with is The Help by Kathryn Stockett – it’s set in a similar time, and is just as educational and eye-opening.

Very highly recommended!

With thanks to Anne Cater at Random Things Tours for the blog tour invitation, and HarperCollins for the ARC. This has in no way affected my review which reflects my honest opinion.

Author Piper Huguley

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BLURB: The incredible untold story of how Ann Lowe, a Black woman and granddaughter of slaves, rose above personal struggles and racial prejudice to design and create one of America’s most famous wedding dresses of all time for Jackie Kennedy.

1953, New York City

Less than a week before the society wedding of the year where Jacqueline Bouvier will marry John F. Kennedy, a pipe bursts at Ann Lowe’s dress shop and ruins eleven dresses, including the expensive wedding dress, a dress that will be judged by thousands. A Black designer who has fought every step of the way, Ann knows this is only one struggle after a lifetime of them. She and her seamstresses will find the way to re-create the dresses. It may take all day and all night for the next week to accomplish the task, but they will do it.

1918, Tampa

Raised in Jim Crow Alabama, Ann learned the art of sewing from her mother and her grandmother, a former slave, who are the most talented seamstresses in the state. After Ann elopes at twelve with an older man who soon proves himself to be an abusive alcoholic, her dreams of becoming a celebrated designer seem to be put on hold. But then a wealthy Tampa socialite sees Ann’s talent and offers her an amazing opportunity—the chance to sew and design clothing for Florida’s society elite. Taking her young son in the middle of the night, Ann escapes her husband and embarks on the adventure of a lifetime.

Based on the true story of one of the most famous designers of the twenties through the sixties who has since been unjustly forgotten, By Her Own Design is an unforgettable novel of determination despite countless obstacles and a triumph celebrated by the world.