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.

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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

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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

Blog Tour – April 2022 – Quicksand Of Memory – Michael J Malone

So, another Orenda title – and another Michael Malone title – how does this measure up to their respective impressive backlists?

Well I don’t think anyone will be surprised if I respond, “very well indeed”! Michael Malone is a writer with a highly impressive breadth of work…by that, I mean he can move from genre to genre (the first books of his I read were Glasgow crime novels, and they were great) and every book in every genre was an absolute belter.

Now he’s moved to Orenda Books, the superb boutique publishers, put his middle initial J in his name, and is writing classy relationship-based psychological thrillers which are guaranteed to keep you reading well past the hour you intended.

And this is one such book…?

It is indeed. It’s about Jenna, who’s trying to sort her life out after a series of disastrous relationships; and Luke. He’s struggling to provide a secure upbringing for his late partner’s young son, as well as developing his own counselling business – which is how the two characters initially meet (and feelings are where Malone really excels when it comes to writing, as you’ll know if you’ve read any of his books, particularly the more recent ones.) The two of them meet, fall in love, and things look good for a while.

So it’s all good…what’s the problem?

Well, in between the parts featuring Luke and Jenna another character’s point of view is shown to us – and it’s someone who very much wants this relationship to fail, due to events that happened in the past. They want revenge, and are determined to get it.

Luke and Jenna also have their various personal demons to get over – Luke trying to get over a troubled childhood by working in a business where he can help people; Jenna struggling with the ill health of her mum. Every character is multi-faceted, and that, for me, is the reason Malone’s writing stands out so much – everyone in his books are three dimensional. He has a strong understanding of how people tick.

What made this book stand out for you?

It’s mainly – as I said above – Malone’s writing. He’s wonderful at developing characters, and illustrating feelings – better than so many other writers out there. I long for the day when I see his name on the Sunday Times bestseller list! He’s also superb at the interaction between characters – the dialogue, and reactions, are so realistic. He’s just such a wonderful writer!

So your final word on Michael J Malone would be…

If you like relationship-based psychological thrillers, with skilled writing, please do give him a whirl. He’s so adept at describing characters he even has you feeling sympathy for the person seeking revenge! It’s intelligent, and identifiable with, and hugely enjoyable – storytelling at its very best – as you’d expect from Orenda!

Miss this one at your peril!

Author Michael J Malone

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BLURB: Scarred by their pasts, Jenna and Luke fall in love, brimming with hope for a rosy future. But someone has been watching, with chilling plans for revenge … An emotive, twisty, disturbing new psychological thriller by the critically acclaimed author of A Suitable Lie and In the Absence of Miracles.

Jenna is trying to rebuild her life after a series of disastrous relationships.

Luke is struggling to provide a safe, loving home for his deceased partner’s young son, following a devastating tragedy.

When Jenna and Luke meet and fall in love, they are certain they can achieve the stability and happiness they both desperately need.

And yet, someone is watching.

Someone who has been scarred by past events.

Someone who will stop at nothing to get revenge…

Dark, unsettling and immensely moving, Quicksand of Memory is a chilling reminder that we are not only punished for our sins, but by them, and that memories left to blacken and sharpen over time are the perfect breeding ground for obsession, and murder… 

With thanks to Anne Cater for inviting me on this Blog Tour, and to Anne and Orenda Books for organising my ARC. This is a completely unbiased review.

Blog Tour – April 2022 – You’re Always With Me – Andy Maslen

So, this is an author new to crimeworm…?

He is, despite being a popular and prolific author I have to hold my hands up and say that despite hearing his name I haven’t read anything by him. That, however, doesn’t really matter as this appears to be a completely new type of book for Maslen – the psychological thriller-cum-legal thriller. And very effective it is too – he may have forged himself a new, additional, niche as an author!

So what’s the basic storyline?

It’s one of these books that’s really hard to review without giving too much away. Psychological thrillers have been done to death a bit in recent years, but Maslen’s experience and skill as a writer gives us a new and refreshing take on the genre.

Basically, Mel.Porter appears to be treating a woman who’s suffering from post partum depression – but we then learn she is the one confined to a psychiatric facility following the death of her baby son Harry. Following two.years of seemingly successful treatment she is released, only to be facing both a divorce from husband Jonathan – and a murder charge, for killing Harry. At which point the book becomes something of a legal thriller too (which I love!)

This really does sound like an amalgamation of two of your favourite genres…

It is indeed! And the writing is great, particularly when it comes to the psychological aspect – the reader really ends up doubting themselves and second guessing what is going on. It’s a very intelligently written book and I do have to say – please, Mr Maslen, may we have some more…?!

Is it fair to say it’s a hit with you, then?

Abso-bloody-lutely! It’s so difficult to find a gut-puncher of a psychological thriller nowadays, that isn’t a pale shadow of one that’s gone before. I adored the combination of the two genres; I thought it all slotted together wonderfully. I was suffering from Covid when I read the latter half of this book, hence the late review – my apologies to Anne, who organised this blog tour, and Andy, the author. I only hope my glowing review goes some way to making up for it! Seek this book out – I’ll be seeking more of the author’s work out, too – and enjoy it.

With thanks to Anne Cater at Random Things Tours for organising this tour and my copy of the book. This review has been completely unbiased.

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Author Andy Maslen

BLURB: Treating a woman for post-natal depression, therapist Mel Porter discovers a shocking truth about herself. As she battles to separate truth from lies, she must confront the most dreadful choice a wife can ever make. Believe that her husband is a killer. Or that she is.

Who is Mel Porter?

The woman claims to have murdered her own child. The confession turns out to be false but it starts a chain of events that leads to horrifying consequences for Mel. As each brick in the wall she has built around herself crumbles and falls away, a stark truth is revealed. Is she even the woman she thinks she is?

When an ambitious detective with secrets of her own arrests Mel on a charge of murder, her world descends into chaos. Memories she thought she could trust turn out to be unreliable. Her very sanity is questioned. And Jonathan asks for a divorce.

A shocking decision

In court, facing a hostile lawyer’s harrowing questioning, Mel’s faith in herself reaches breaking point. Then the jury returns with its verdict and delivers a shocking conclusion to the trial.

How much of her perfect life can Mel still believe in? And how much is total fantasy? The answer could be the difference between life and death