Blog Tour – May 2022 – The Murder Rule – Dervla McTiernan

So, a legal thriller – for a long time this has been one of your favourite genres, hasn’t it?

Yep, I absolutely adore legal thrillers, from Scott Turow and early John Grisham onwards, and there are some real belters around now – look at Steve Cavanagh and Gillian McAllister, who have both skyrocketed up there. Dervla McKirwan is heading that way too…this is a cracking legal thriller, set in Maine and based around the Innocence Project, which works on freeing wrongly convicted prisoners.

Tell us a little bit about the book’s plot…

It’s about Hannah Rokeby, who manages to get a place on the University of Virginia’s Innocence Project, as she wants to work on a particular case – that of Michael Dandridge. Her interest in this particular case is revealed when we go back in time, and see the diary of her mother, Laura, an alcoholic, who Hannah has taken care of for much of her life.

Hannah uses some underhand tactics to get on to the Innocence Project, so immediately you know she’s prepared to do whatever it takes to get what she wants. And what she wants is not to see Michael Dandridge released, but to remain in prison – and the reason why is buried deep in the past, and revealed through the diary.

However, as Hannah gets to know the other students, particularly Sean and Camila, she begins to question the ethics of some of her decisions, and ends up questioning some of the beliefs she’s held her entire life.

This is a book of twists and turns, and truth and lies, and it’s a real rollercoaster read – one of these books that keep you turning just, “one more page…”

So you’d recommend this as an exciting read that’ll keep the reader engrossed?

Totally! It’s a very fast read, and on more than one occasion I woke up with it starting to get light, my glasses still on, and this book still on my knee. I think that says it all! Dervla McKirwan knows how to grab hold of you, and my only complaint is the end feels just a tad rushed. But maybe that’s just my disappointment at the book ending! I’ve got a couple of her earlier novels, and reading this ensures I will definitely be digging them out – she’s a talented author, who knows how to spin a yarn!

Don’t miss it!

With thanks to Anne Cater at Random Things TTours, who invited me on this blog tour, and Harper Colllins for the ARC. This is an unbiased review, and the opinions are my own.

Author Dervla McTiernan

Check out some of the other reviews by the fabulous bloggers on this tour!

BLURB: No one is innocent in this story.

First Rule: Make them like you.
Second Rule: Make them need you.
Third Rule: Make them pay.

They think I’m a young, idealistic law student, that I’m passionate about reforming a corrupt and brutal system.

They think I’m working hard to impress them.

They think I’m here to save an innocent man on death row.

They’re wrong. I’m going to bury him.

Blog Tour – May 2022 – Six Days In Rome – Francesca Giacco

Now this is something a little different…some vicarious travel for crimeworm…?

Yes, seeing as with all my medical accoutrements a trip to the doctor’s is a major operation, I thought this may be a wee taste of something different – and, oh my it was!

How so? What made it so good?

It was one of those books you deliberately read slowly, as it’s taken you to a glorious city in a really immersive way – rather like Midnight In The Garden Of Good And Evil by John Berendt does to Savannah, Georgia (minus the murder trial, though!) As that is one of my favourite books ever, that’s high praise indeed!

After the sudden end of her relationship, Emilia abandons the idea of a romantic trip to the Eternal City and instead turns it into a solo one, and a bit of a soul-searching one at that, aided by John, an ex-pat she meets. She starts to look at her past (and her family and friends), as well as all her possible futures, afresh, aided by her new friend.

The fact she is an artist is reflected by her highly observant character. You do have to be ready for jumps between Emilia’s memories and the present day, but they aren’t difficult to differentiate.

So it really was a bit of a holiday from Scotland then?

It was, wonderfully so! It’s more of a stream-of-consciousness tale from Emilia, rather than the action-packed book I reviewed earlier today, so might appeal to a different audience. But good writing is good writing, and us bloggers get used to different genres – it’s something I think does you good, as I always feel refreshed when I step out of the crime fiction world, adore it though I do. It’s incredible for a first book – beautiful, poetic, immersive; transporting you to another city and another country every time you picked it up.

It’ll definitely appeal to fans of travel writing, and those who loved their travels to Rome or are planning some in the future. A lovely, lovely book, coming out just in time for the summer. I adored this introduction to a highly promising young writer.

Highly recommended!

With thanks to Emily at Headline Publishing Group for inviting me on this blog tour, and for sending me an ARC. This review is my own opinion and is unbiased.

Author Francesca Giacco

BLURB: Emilia arrives in Rome reeling from heartbreak and reckoning with her past. What was supposed to be a romantic trip has, with the sudden end of a relationship, become a solitary one instead. As she wanders, music, art, food, and the beauty of Rome’s wide piazzas and narrow streets color Emilia’s dreamy, but weighty experience of the city. She considers the many facets of her life, drifting in and out of memory, following her train of thought wherever it leads.

While climbing a hill near Trastevere, she meets John, an American expat living a seemingly idyllic life. They are soon navigating an intriguing connection, one that brings pain they both hold into the light.
As their intimacy deepens, Emilia starts to see herself anew, both as a woman and as an artist. For the first time in her life, she confronts the ways in which she’s been letting her father’s success as a musician overshadow her own. Forced to reckon with both her origins and the choices she’s made, Emilia finds herself on a singular journey—and transformed in ways she never expected.
Equal parts visceral and cerebral, Six Days in Rome is an ode to the Eternal City, a celebration of art and creativity, and a meditation on self-discovery. 

Blog Tour – May 2022 – May God Forgive – Alan Parks

A particular favourite of crimeworm’s, this series is – I’m making that clear from the off! Some thoughts on why…

It’s set in Glasgow, erstwhile home of myself for 18 years and my partner’s for the first 38 of his. I was lucky enough to catch the first book in the series, loved it, and have waited avidly for each one to come out since then. There’s so much that’s familiar about the books – I think we all enjoy reading about a setting we know and love. Plus the level of accuracy is really high – names of pubs, shops and restaurants in the mid ’70s are all spot on, according to older friends and family.

Rather like Douglas Stuart, author of Shuggie Bain (a book I finally read this week – review to come), Alan Parks had a highly successful first career (his in the music industry in London, working for London Records; Douglas Stuart worked for some big names in fashion in the US). This is a second act, career-wise, and, like Stuart, it looks like being even more successful than his first career. I’ve read him say in interviews that his work, much of which involved making videos for well-known bands, has helped in his writing, as it made him highly observant and detail-orientated. His habit of walking around Glasgow, soaking in the city, also helps – something I used to love to do, too. (And in Glasgow, people love a gab!) I’d definitely agree with it – he knows how to portray the city so accurately in both its ugliness and beauty. And in this one, he’s definitely got his work cut out for him – it’s a busy book…

What’s happening in May 1974 then?

Well, we have more horrendous crimes – each month gets worse! And McCoy’s in no fit state to be investigating anything, in his boss’s Murray’s opinion, having been not long discharged from hospital with his stomach ulcer. However, when an arson attack on Dolly’s Hairdressing Salon in Royston leaves three women and two children, the city is in uproar. With three arrested lads appearing at the High Court amidst ugly crowd scenes and confusion, the van carrying them is ramraided and they are kidnapped. (This reminded me a little of a real-life incident many years ago when a police wagon carrying IRA prisoners is held-up as it’s about to turn into Duke Street to the old prison there, and the prisoners were sprung – they used to say you could still see the bulletholes in the wall of the old prison but I never had a chance to check.) Murray reluctantly lets McCoy investigate on the quiet (or on the qt, as they say in Glasgow.) Wattie has his hands full attempting to investigate the dead body of an unidentified girl in Sighthill Cemetery, but he’s slowly gaining confidence and coming into his own, out from under McCoy’s shadow. If that’s not enough to be going on with, there’s the apparent suicide of Alistair “Dirty Ally” Drummond, a scud mag salesman, who jumps from the top of a men’s hostel – apparently of his own volition, and this investigation lands in McCoy’s lap – he may still have ulcer problems (and no bloody wonder, eh?) but it’s all hands on deck. If that weren’t enough to be going on with, it looks like there’s shaping up to be a gang war between two of the city’s leading gangsters – and nope, for once Stevie Cooper is not one of them!

Phew! All hand on deck indeed!

Oh, that’s not all…one of the kidnapped lads allegedly responsible for the arson attack is found dead, horribly tortured and with a note saying, “One down, two to go.” Given that they were under the care of the police at the time, it’s a race against time to discover where the author two are…

Also, we find out more about McCoy’s background when a face from his distant past makes an appearance. And naturally Stevie Cooper – McCoy’s boyhood protector – is on hand to help out when help from the seedier side of the city is needed.

Let’s hope Harry’s got plenty of Pepto Bismol in his drawer…

How did this rate against the rest of the series?

Parks is getting more and more confident at dealing with multiple storylines, and it’s hugely enjoyable getting to know the characters better. The banter is, as ever in Glasgow, on the “slagging each other off for amusement” side, and is as good as it’s been since the first book. Rarely have I seen a series get so good so quickly. The biggest downside? Waiting until next June for the next book!

Rebus and Rankin may have Edinburgh long under-hand, but head 50 miles west and it’s starting to look like Parks and McCoy’s territory…not that I’m looking to start a book-related gangland war, or anything…;))

An early contender for one of the books of the year (not to mention the McIlvanney Prize…)

With thanks to Anne Cater for inviting me on this blog tour, hosted by Random Things TTours, and to Canongate Books for the lovely ARC. This is my opinion and is an unbiased review.

The first five books of the series, and our author Alan Parks

Follow all the other great bloggers on the blog tour of this fantastic piece of Tartan Noir

BLURB: Glasgow is a city in mourning. An arson attack on a hairdresser’s has left five dead. Tempers are frayed and sentiments running high.

When three youths are charged the city goes wild. A crowd gathers outside the courthouse but as the police drive the young men to prison, the van is rammed by a truck, and the men are grabbed and bundled into a car. The next day, the body of one of them is dumped in the city centre. A note has been sent to the newspaper: one down, two to go.

Detective Harry McCoy has twenty-four hours to find the kidnapped boys before they all turn up dead, and it is going to mean taking down some of Glasgow’s most powerful people to do it . . .

Blog Tour – May 2022 – Little Drummer – Kjell Ola Dahl

Another bright shiny new Orenda title – and by the sound of the author’s name, it could possibly be more ScandiNoir, a favourite crimeworm genre…is this right?

It is, and it’s another in the thoroughly enjoyable Oslo Detectives series. Orenda just have the most wonderful connections internationally (as well as some fantastic British books), but it’s particularly in the Nordic/ScandiNoir region they seem to really outdo themselves. However, this book takes place not just in Norway – at least not for Frolich, who ends up in Africa with a new sidekick. Lise is a journalist who has her own investigation ongoing into the same corruption scandal. She’s an interesting new character and ensures Frolich has someone to “bounce off” while abroad as they work on their respective investigations.

Ooh! Evil goings on in high places! There’s nothing better! Fill me in with some more about it…!

What’s initially assumed to be a girl found dead in a car with a straightforward drug overdose leads (one of, at least!) our mismatched duo across the world, into an investigation into a scam involving the distribution of foreign aid, as well as HIV medication, which is so desperately needed in Africa.

Now, when you get this high-up in the web of corruption, the people involved are obviously really nasty, poisonous characters, for whom life is cheap because money is, to them, everything.

Didn’t this remind you a bit of a book you read several years ago?

It did – the wonderful novel, The Constant Gardener, by the much-missed John le Carre (it also shares a title with one of his novels, without a “The” at the start and a “Girl” at the end!) I don’t think any author will take offence to being compared to such a great writer – although from what I recall the entirety of that book took place in Africa (it’s also a great film, starring Rachel Weisz and Ralph Fiennes.)

What else would give you reason to recommend this book?

As ever with Don Bartlett in the role of translator, everything is Anglified smoothly enough so that nothing jars, but the original flavour of the author’s writing doesn’t get lost. There’s also good banter between our investigators. This is a series I’m working my way through, albeit slightly out of order, and I’m really enjoying getting to know the characters.

Corruption on a high scale is something I really find an intriguing subject, and this book really hit the spot for me – a well-written, beautifully paced novel that saw me falling asleep with Kindle in hand on more than one night!

Very highly recommmended!

With thanks to Anne Cater for inviting me to participate in this tour and to her and Karen at Orenda Books for my ARC. This has in no way influenced my review, which is unbiased.

Author Kjell Ola Dahl

Please keep following the fabulous Blog Tour!

BLURB: When a woman is found dead in her car in a Norwegian parking garage, everyone suspects an overdose … until a forensics report indicates that she was murdered. Oslo Detectives Frølich and Gunnarstranda discover that the victim’s Kenyan scientist boyfriend has disappeared, and their investigations soon lead them into the shady world of international pharmaceutical deals. 

While Gunnarstranda closes in on the killers in Norway, Frølich and Lise, his new journalist ally, travel to Africa, where they make a series of shocking discoveries about exploitation and corruption in the distribution of foreign aid and essential HIV medications. 

When tragedy unexpectedly strikes, all three investigators face incalculable danger, spanning two continents. And not everyone will make it out alive…

Exploding the confines of the Nordic Noir genre, 
Little Drummer is a sophisticated, fast-paced, international thriller with a searingly relevant, shocking premise that will keep you glued to the page.

Blog Tour – April 2022 – Vanda – Marion Brunet (trans – Katherine Gregor)

So, a piece of translated fiction – something crimeworm is somewhat fond of!

Indeed! Although, to be fair, it’s generally from slightly further north – Scandinavia and Iceland, to be specific. The last piece of French-translated fiction I read was the excellent Leila Slimani’s Lullaby, which was the first book I read when I came to in the National Spinal Unit, and which was a fantastic distraction from the question of whether I would ever walk again – I suspect it has to be a particularly gripping book to take one’s mind off that particular question! (The answer is, I can, but only with crutches, and then only for short distances – anything more ambitious has to be done by wheelchair! Still, there’s always worse scenarios, and I saw many of them in there, and met some people whose tenacity and spirit put me to shame. Some of us still stay in touch.)

Anyway, you’re digressing! Tell us about Vanda….

Well, it can be classed as that current favourite of mine (and many others) – the psychological thriller, but it’s also a family drama too. It’s a slimline volume, coming in at 202 pages, which makes a refreshing change – when so many other books I’m currently reading hit the 400 page mark, it’s nice to meet something that doesn’t overstay its welcome.

At the moment, I’m currently racing through Shuggie Bain, and I see a lot of similarities in the two books – they both feature an almost unhealthily close relationship between and son, with the son dedicated to his mother. However, unlike many readers I wouldn’t describe Shuggie Bain as depressing – so much of it is joyously familiar to me, thus far, and very Scottish, but I’ll be reviewing that as soon as I finish it.

So it’s about an close mother-and-son – tell us more about them…

They live very frugally, with Vanda working as a cleaner in a psychiatric hospital, and driving a run-down car. Noe and Vanda’s home is a one room shack on the beach, which is often in danger of flooding. Vanda indulges her own weaknesses – unsuitable men, illegal substances, and alcohol, and sees nothing wrong with leaving Noe to fend for himself. Despite her neglect, she and Noe are devoted to each other and have no involvement with family or friends.

Doesn’t Noe have a father figure?

His father, Simon, doesn’t even know of his existence, having left Marseilles before his birth for Paris, where he has built a lucrative career and met Chloe, his affluent Parisian girlfriend. He returns to Marseilles when his mother is dying, intending to settle her affairs and return to his life in Paris.

However, he starts to rethink his future when he learns to his surprise that he is a father – something he’d always assumed was highly unlikely with Chloe. His time in his hometown with extended family starts to make him reconsider his possible future. His intention to return to Paris is conflicted by the news that he is a father, and that he may be in a position to provide for his son in a better fashion than Vanda is currently doing. This, however, is not what Chloe wants to hear…

How does Vanda react to Simon’s involvement?

As you’d anticipate, she’s not happy – as far as she’s concerned she and Noe are doing just fine alone together, and no outside help is either needed or desired – even from her son’s own father. She starts to regret Simon ever finding out about his son.

So the reader will end up being torn between Noe’s two parents, and what’s best for his future…?

Pretty much…Vanda clearly loves her son a great deal, but isn’t best equipped to make the best decisions as a parent. Simon may have the material things, and good intentions, but he’s ultimately a stranger to Noe. Where does his future best lie? It’s a dilemma, and one with no ideal solution.

I found it a compelling, easy read, and beautifully – seamlessly – translated. Its short length means it’s an easy book to get through, and marks Marion Brunet’s name as one to be watched when it comes to translated fiction. It’s my intention to track down a copy of The Summer Of Reckoning, her first book for adults (she’d previously written successfully for the YA market) too.

Very highly recommended, particularly to fans of translated fiction.

With thanks to Anne Cater at Random Things Tours for inviting me to participate in this blog tour, and Bitter Lemon Press for the ARC. This has in no way influenced my opinion of this book, and this is an unbiased review.

Author Marion Brunet

Translator Katherine Gregor

Have a look at the rest of the Blog Tour!

BLURB: A psychological thriller set in Southern France. Brunet has followed on from the success of “the Summer of Reckoning” with this magnificent portrait of a woman and a mother, a beautiful and often poetic tale that is unflinching about social and personal violence. Set in Marseilles, this is the story of Vanda, a beautiful woman in her thirties, arms covered in tats, skin so dark that some take her for a North African. Devoted to her six-year-old son Noé, they live in a derelict shed by the beach. She had wanted to be an artist; she is now a cleaner in a psychiatric hospital. But Vanda is happy living alone, like a mama bear with her cub. “The two of them against the world”, as she says. Everything changes when Simon, the father of her son, surfaces in Marseilles. He had left Vanda seven years earlier, not knowing that she was pregnant. When Simon demands custody of his son, Vanda’s suppressed rage threatens to explode. The tension becomes unbearable, both parents fully capable of extreme violence.

Blog Tour – April 2022 – Shadow Girls – Carol Birch

This is by the author of the Booker Prize-shortlisted Carol Birch – not your usual reading material! – so how did you find this novel?

Surprisingly (to me, who has that worry that, with no degree – at present; working on it – I’ll find prize-nominated writers go over my head) I found this an enjoyable read, albeit one that was somewhat slow to start. It’s set in a girls’ school in 1960s Manchester, and there are three main characters – the narrator, Sally; her best friend, Pamela; and their more well-to-do and strait-laced classmate, Sylvia Birch.

So tell us a little more about each girl…

Sally comes across as a likeable and believable narrator – an ordinary girl who attends an ordinary school. She has a boyfriend, Rob, on whom she isn’t actually all that keen, even though she knows she really should appreciate him. Her best friend is Pamela, who isn’t particularly popular with anyone else, and she is loud and something of a troublemaker. Together, they – well, Pamela particularly – enjoy tormenting their snobbish classmate Sylvia Birch, who’s a talented classical singer.

And the setting?

The culture – the films, music, clothes etc – comes across as very realistic, although it’s before I was born! It’s well-portrayed without it being over-egged. School is like every 15 year old girl’s experience of school – schoolwork, boys, feuds, stresses over their future (some things never change!)

So where does the paranormal aspect begin…?

It’s around halfway through the book (see what I mean about the slow start?) after an experiment with a ouija board. Suddenly Sylvia Birch seems to be places she can’t possibly be – almost in two places at once. It – understandably – freaks Sally and Pamela out.

The only issue for me was that you were unsure whether it was a superstitious happening, like poltergeist activity, or the imagination of teenage girls. Despite this, it still ended up being a thoroughly enjoyable read, if just a trifle slow to start. I do enjoy a touch of spookiness with my books, so for me, it was definitely worth reading.

Highly recommended!

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With thanks to Kate at Head Of Zeus for inviting me on this blog tour, and for sending me a proof copy. This in no way influenced my opinion of the book, and this is an unbiased review.

Blog Tour – April 2022 – The Shot – Sarah Sultoon

I’ve got to start with an apology – for the lateness of this review. A weekend of horrendous headaches put me a bit behind with my reading, and I’ve literally just finished this one – and what a book it was! It’s another winner from the Orenda stable, and I’d be very surprised if there’s a more timely book out there…

This is because it’s about a television photo journalist and her cameraman. Sami is the young, ambitious journalist, whose grasp of Arabic makes her a prime contender for some of the hotspots of geopolitical trouble. Her older, more experienced, cameraman is Kris, and in this book we travel around the warzones, seeing what it’s really like outside of the 5 or 10 minutes they’re on our screens every day.

Well, with the events in the Ukraine currently at the forefront of everyone’s thoughts, it does certainly sound a timely release, albeit by accident. Who else do we meet?

We’re introduced to characters such as interpreters, who put their lives – and those of their families – on the line to try to get story of the plight of their people out into the wider world – with no guarantee for their future safety (I was reminded of the plight of Afghani interpreters who, despite assurances from their British employers, were going to be abandoned to the Taliban, until there was an outcry – ironically by the media!)

Tell us a little more about Sami and Kris, as characters…

Sami is young, ambitious, and passionate. She has an eye for a story, and her career takes up the main part of her life. Kris is older, with much more experience in the field, and his cocksure attitude hides a more insecure side. His career has turned him into something of an adrenalin junkie – he’s never happier than when he’s out in the field, chasing down the perfect images to partner Sami’s reporting.

What else can you add about the book?

It makes you think about all the victims of war, documenting the emotional toll it can have not only on those who live on what essentially become battlefields, but the others: as mentioned, the interpreters, and the reporters like Sami and Kris who go to places that could easily be described as “hell on earth” in order to give us, sitting in our cosy living rooms in the West, a snapshot of where, but for the grace of God, we could be…

Any final thoughts…?

It’s a book I’ve literally put down in the last hour, but I’m pretty sure it’s one of those rare books that will live on in my mind. Perhaps it’s the timing, but it gives you a rare glimpse into a world – or a career – we don’t often consider, once the reporter’s familiar face disappears from your nightly news. As it’s Sarah Sultoon’s day job, we’re getting it straight from the horse’s mouth, as it were! I can imagine that much of this book is taken from her own experiences. I just hope it won’t be her only novel

Don’t miss it – particularly at present!

With thanks – and apologies! – to Anne Cater at Random Things Tours for kindly inviting me on this blog tour, and to Karen at Orenda Books for my ARC. This has in no way affected my opinion of the book, and this is an unbiased review.

Author Sarah Sultoon

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BLURB: An aspiring TV journalist faces a shattering moral dilemma and the prospect of losing her career and her life, when she joins an impetuous photographer in the Middle East. A shocking, searingly authentic thriller by award-winning ex-CNN news executive Sarah Sultoon.

Samira is an up-and-coming TV journalist, working the nightshift at a major news channel and yearning for greater things. So when she’s offered a trip to the Middle East, with Kris, the station’s brilliant but impetuous star photographer, she leaps at the chance

In the field together, Sami and Kris feel invincible, shining a light into the darkest of corners … except the newsroom, and the rest of the world, doesn’t seem to care as much as they do. Until Kris takes the photograph.

With a single image of young Sudanese mother, injured in a raid on her camp, Sami and the genocide in Darfur are catapulted into the limelight. But everything is not as it seems, and the shots taken by Kris reveal something deeper and much darker … something that puts not only their careers but their lives in mortal danger.

Sarah Sultoon brings all her experience as a CNN news executive to bear on this shocking, searingly authentic thriller, which asks immense questions about the world we live in. You’ll never look at a news report in the same way again… 

Blog Tour – April 2022 – The Dark Flood – Deon Meyer

Deon Meyer! The main man of South African crime fiction, if I’m not mistaken! And this is the first time you’ve read one of his novels, is that right?

It is indeed – but it certainly won’t be the last! From the opening page I was drawn in and didn’t want to put the book down until I was done – something that doesn’t happen as frequently as it used to! Nowadays I often need to read 50-odd pages as a warm-up, as it were – but that wasn’t the case with Meyer. It’s straight in, meeting compelling characters and fascinating situations. It also makes a pleasant change reading a book set in Africa (I think the last novels I read set there were those of Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie’s – a very different genre!)

So the book kicks off with a hearing for Benny Griessel, Meyer’s main character, is that right?

Yes, and I suspect this will be a continuation of the events in his previous novel. He and his partner, Cupido, are punished by being demoted, which means removal from their beloved Hawks elite force. They’re also transferred to a small town called Stellenbosch, where they’re expectation is that they’ll be dealing with drinks and shoplifters. Of course, things turn out to be a wee bit more dramatic than that…

Who else features in the book?

We have an ambitious agent called Sandra Steenborg based in Stellenbosch. Many in the town are struggling financially due to the nefarious financial dealings of local multi-millionaire, Jasper Boonstra. His financial difficulties are having a knock-on effect on the entire local economy, as he is the main local employer. Mortgages and car loans are going unpaid, as are nursery fees, and the previously wealthy town is feeling the pinch.

He summons Sandra, who’s the sole breadwinner in the household, her husband having taken a sabbatical from his academic career to write a book, and offers her the opportunity to sell a large estate which produces wine. However, she must sign a non -disclosure agreement, and the seller is not to be revealed. Should she succeed, she will have nothing to worry about financially for a long time…

So what cases await our banished officers in the beautiful new district that’s now their base?

A student, Callie de Bruin, has gone missing, reported by his concerned mother – and in this case, it’s definitely not a case of a night out running into a few nights out…This boy is a dedicated student and also a considerate son, and his mother is adamant this behaviour is utterly out of character, and all signs point to her being right. There’s definitely something off about this disappearance.

So are you a convert to Deon Meyer’s Benny Griessel series?

I certainly am! The two main strands of the book – that of the estate agent, and the disappearance of the student – tie together well at the end, and leave you feeling satisfied.

There’s also a dramatic ending, which is exactly what you want in this sort of crime fiction. Translated from Afrikaans, it’s done so seemlessly, with a few Afrikaans phrases left in for added authenticity.

It’s a book I enjoyed enormously, and I’m pleased to see I have four other Deon Meyer books which I will get round to. It’s always interesting to find a series set in a new country, too.

Meyer is immensely skilled at creating a compelling storyline with a variety of strands, and the way everything fitted together so well at the end showed you were in the hands of a master crime writer. If, like me, you’re late to the party, I’d urge you to give him a go, particularly if you enjoy discovering crime fiction set in new places.

Absolutely don’t miss it!

With thanks to Sophie at Ransom PR for inviting me to participate in this blog tour, and to Hodder and Stoughton for the ARC. This in no way influenced my opinion of this book, and this is an unbiased review.

Check out the remainder of the Blog Tour!

BLURB: From internationally acclaimed crime writer Deon Meyer, a new thriller featuring superstar detectives Benny Griessel and Vaughn Cupido in the wake of their impulsive pursuit of state corruption that has left their reputations hanging in the balance. Having jeopardized their careers in an unauthorized investigation that threatened to reveal the corruption in South Africa’s halls of power, Benny Griessel and Vaughn Cupido have been demoted from the elite Hawks police unit. While waiting to be transferred from Cape Town to seemingly mundane duty in Stellenbosch, Griessel receives a disturbing, anonymous letter: “I can only trust you and Captain Cupido. There is an adder in our bosom. Be careful of phone calls.”Assigned to investigate the disappearance of Callie de Bruin, a young university student and brilliant computer programmer, they hit dead ends until the trail, including the death of a fellow officer, leads to a series of gun heists and the alarming absence of certain weapons from the police registry, the ramifications of which could be devastating.As Griessel and Cupido intensify their search for de Bruin, real estate agent Sandra Steenberg confronts her own crisis: state corruption has caused the real estate market to crash, exacerbating the dire financial straits facing her family. When billionaire Jasper Boonstra contacts her to represent a major property he wants to sell, she pushes aside her concerns about his notorious reputation as playboy and swindler. And then Boonstra himself disappears, and Griessel is forced to juggle between Boonstra’s bitter wife, protective lawyer, and Steenberg, the last person to see him alive.With propulsive and intricate plotting, sharp prose, and an ending that takes one’s breath away just when the dust seems to have settled, The Dark Flood spotlights the state capture and corruption that has overtaken the country, lending political weight to a powerful story. 

Blog Tour – April 2022 – The Diamond Eye – Kate Quinn

What a beautiful cover! But what about the contents…?

To be honest, they’re pretty phenomenal.too.- they’re based on the memoir of Lyudmila “Mila” Pavilchenko, a Ukrainian Russian woman who was a sniper in WWII in Stalin’s Red Army with over 300 kills of Germans to her credit. Now, probably at the moment most Ukrainians want to forget they were ever part of the Soviet Union, but, current events notwithstanding, Mila’s story is certainly one of the most compelling I’ve read for quite some time.

So what’s her background?

She’s a student with a passion of history, as well as being mother to young Slavka, as well as the wife of an arrogant and ambitious surgeon called Alexei. His only interest is in his career and it’s no surprise when Mila decides to divorce him, but he does his best to stop that from happening.

Mila received advanced training as a sniper from Captain Sergienko and managed to enlist – and soon proves herself a valuable asset to the Red Army.

And there’s a well-known American who also features in the book, correct?

Yes – the thoughts of Eleanor Roosevelt, wife of American President Franklin D Roosevelt, and of course her thoughts give us the view of the US leader, given that she has his eyes and ears, as it were. It’s a good way to appeal to American readers and give more of a “worldwide” view of WWII.

The book opens with Mila in Washington as part of a Russian delegation. They’re looking for more help from the US; specifically, arms as well as other equipment. The US representatives are somewhat gobsmacked at the idea of a female sniper – to them, women don’t belong on the front line. But she finds an unlikely ally in the President’s wife, who, as an intelligent woman herself, is used to having her opinions dismissed, so can relate to Mila’s experience.

It is quite a lengthy read, isn’t it? But you didn’t lose interest, did you?

It’s a chunky book, coming in at around 450 pages, and there’s a fair bit of details regarding guns, weaponry, and technical details like that, which some readers may find the least interesting part of the book. We learn about Mila being allowed to command her own platoon after rising up through the ranks, and being supported by her silent Siberian sidekick Kostia, upon whom she relies to cover her back. Yes, it’s long, but if you enjoy historical fiction based on fact, it’s something you will both enjoy, and be educated by.

It’s a truly exhilarating read, to sum it up!

A must-read for fans of historical fiction!

With thanks to Anne Cater at Random Things Tours for inviting me on this tour, and HarperCollins for the ARC. This is an unbiased review.

Author Kate Quinn

Check out previous stops on the Blog Tour!

BLURB: In 1937 in the snowbound city of Kiev (now known as Kyiv), wry and bookish history student Mila Pavlichenko organizes her life around her library job and her young son–but Hitler’s invasion of Ukraine and Russia sends her on a different path. Given a rifle and sent to join the fight, Mila must forge herself from studious girl to deadly sniper–a lethal hunter of Nazis known as Lady Death. When news of her three hundredth kill makes her a national heroine, Mila finds herself torn from the bloody battlefields of the eastern front and sent to America on a goodwill tour.

Still reeling from war wounds and devastated by loss, Mila finds herself isolated and lonely in the glittering world of Washington, DC–until an unexpected friendship with First Lady Eleanor Roosevelt and an even more unexpected connection with a silent fellow sniper offer the possibility of happiness. But when an old enemy from Mila’s past joins forces with a deadly new foe lurking in the shadows, Lady Death finds herself battling her own demons and enemy bullets in the deadliest duel of her life.

Based on a true story, The Diamond Eye is a haunting novel of heroism born of desperation, of a mother who became a soldier, of a woman who found her place in the world and changed the course of history forever.

Blog Tour – April 2022 – Those Who Return – Kassandra Montag

So, what’s the background to this book?

It’s set in the prairie wilderness of Nebraska, in a children’s home which looks after damaged orphaned or abandoned 10 to 18 year olds, all with a variety of psychological/psychiatric issues – kids with no place left to go. There’s nothing for miles around, bar a self-sufficient tough old lady of the prairies the children call “Baba Yaga” after the Eastern European witch of folklore. Previously the house has been a church, an asylum and an orphanage before it’s current incarnation, which is run by Beverly, the headmistress.

How is the story told?

It’s told in the first person by our main character, Dr Lorelei “Lore” Webber, previously an FBI psychiatrist, who left the bureau after an undercover operation she was involved in saw her undercover operative, a prostitute who was attempting to help them bring down some pimps and drug dealers, killed.

However, the death of one of the students sees her thrown back together with Cedar, her childhood friend and sweetheart, as the two attempt to investigate the murder and other curious goings on at Hatchery House…

And there’s something of a love triangle…

There is indeed – since arriving at Hatchery, Lore had started seeing Dillon, an attractive Ivy League-type fellow psychiatrist. Dillon – who I must admit to taking an instant dislike to! – was something of an object of crushes by the older girls, but he does appear to be a caring boyfriend to the damaged Lore, who occasionally sees hallucinations of herself, something brought on by a horrific experience she went through as a child, and which scarred her both mentally and physically.

However, the return of Lore’s old flame Cedar (as well as childhood friend, and co-worker in the FBI) threatens to put the kibosh on that!

What about the rest of the staff?

There’s remarkably few staff members to deal with a houseful of difficult teenagers – and I was surprised how many of them have their own psychiatric issues, yet still be allowed to work with troubled youngsters. However, I don’t imagine it’s easy to find staff to deal with an institution that is clearly “the end of the line” for many of the teenagers – as well as being in the middle of nowhere.

What did you enjoy most about the book?

I found myself really engrossed by the world the book was set in – not so much Hatchery House itself, but the wide open prairies of Nebraska. Kassandra Montag is a really lyrical, descriptive writer, and I found myself totally immersed in the prairies surrounding Hatchery House, as well as the wildlife. The way Oksana (“Baba Yaga”) lives off the land, preserving fruit, using herbs and dead animals the way the people of the prairies have for hundreds of years, really fascinating.

So it’s a book you’d recommend…?

Absolutely – I totally loved it, and found myself engrossed in the Nebraska prairies and Hatchery House, as well as the young people Lore was trying to help. It is of course a murder mystery, and that part of it is done very well, but it was a book I found highly immersive – you really found yourself almost in Nebraska!

It’s a book I’d recommend to anyone who enjoys a “rural noir”-type novel, with a murder mystery with psychological overtones thrown in for good measure. Kassandra Montag is a writer I look forward to hearing more from – she’s a real talent!

Absolutely the highest recommendation!

With thanks to Quercus Books for the ARC. This is an unbiased review.

BLURB: Amid the desolate wilderness of the Great Plains of Nebraska, a region so isolated you could drive for hours without seeing another human being, sits Hatchery House. Having served as a church, an asylum and an orphanage, Hatchery is now a treatment facility for orphaned or abandoned children with psychiatric disorders. Haunted by patients past and present, only the most vulnerable find a home within its walls.

Dr. Lorelei ‘Lore’ Webber, a former FBI psychiatrist, has almost grown used to the unorthodox methods used at Hatchery House. But when one of her patients is murdered, Lore finds herself dragged into the centre of an investigation that unearths startling truths, shocking discoveries, and untold cruelty. And as the investigation unravels, Lore is forced to confront the past she’s spent her whole life running from – a secret that threatens to undo her entirely.

Darkly riveting and explosive, and with an unforgettable cast of deeply human characters, Those Who Return is a searing psychological thriller of guilt and redemption, set against a landscape as awe-inspiring as it is unforgiving