Book reviews, Classic style whodunnit, Cosy mystery

Burying Bad News by Paula Williams – Book Review

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PUBLISHERS BLURB 

Burying Bad News

One severed head, two warring neighbours – and a cold-blooded killer stalks Much Winchmoor. 

There’s the murder made to look like a tragic accident, and a missing husband. Could he be victim number two?

The tiny Somerset village is fast gaining a reputation as the murder capital of the West Country, and once again, reporter/barmaid/dog walker Kat Latcham finds herself reluctantly dragged into the investigation.

Things are looking bad for Ed Fuller, the husband of one of Kat’s oldest friends. Kat’s convinced he’s innocent – but she’s been wrong before.

Has Kat come across her biggest challenge yet?

Fans of Janet Evanovich could well enjoy this “funky, modern day nosey detective” transported to the English countryside. The third Much Winchmoor mystery is, as always, spiked with humour and sprinkled with a touch of romance.

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MY REVIEW

#3 in the Much Winchmoor mysteries series, but can also be read as a stand-alone.

This starts with the discovery of a severed head, it appears a killer is again abroad in the village of Much Winchmoor.

Kat is working several jobs to keep her finances afloat, including being a journalist for a local newspaper. As such she deals with neighbourhood disputes of various kinds and she has a nose for murder. So she begins her investigation.

This is a marvellously entertaining cosy murder mystery. A classic whodunnit with great characters and a real sense of time and place. A thoroughly engaging read.

Thank you to Rachel’s Random Resources for the opportunity to participate in this blog tour and for the promotional materials and a free copy of the ebook. This is my honest, unbiased review.

 

Purchase Link

https://mybook.to/buryingbadnews

 

Author Bio – 

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Paula Williams is living her dream. She’s written all her life – her earliest efforts involved blackmailing her unfortunate younger brothers into appearing in her various plays and pageants. But it’s only in recent years, when she turned her attention to writing short stories and serials for women’s magazines that she discovered, to her surprise, that people with better judgement than her brothers actually liked what she wrote and were prepared to pay her for it and she has sold over 400 short stories and serials both in the UK and overseas.

Now, she writes every day in a lovely, book-lined study in her home in Somerset, UK, where she lives with her husband and a handsome but not always obedient rescue Dalmatian called Duke. She still writes for magazines but now writes novels as well. She is currently writing the Much Winchmoor series of murder mysteries, set in a village not unlike the one she lives in – although as far as she knows, none of her friends and neighbours have murderous tendencies. 

A member of both the Romantic Novelists’ Association and the Crime Writers’ Association, her novels often feature a murder or two, and are always spiked with humour and sprinkled with a touch of romance. 

She also writes a monthly column, Ideas Store, for the writers’ magazine, Writers’ Forum. And she blogs about her books, other people’s books and, quite often, Dalmatians at paulawilliamswriter.wordpress.com. 

She gives talks on writing at writing festivals and to organised groups and has appeared several times of local radio. In fact, she’ll talk about writing to anyone who’ll stand still long enough to listen.

But, as with all dreams, she worries that one day she’s going to wake up and find she still has to bully her brothers into reading ‘the play what she wrote’.

 

Social Media Links – 

Blog. at https://paulawilliamswriter.com/

Facebook author page is https://www.facebook.com/paula.williams.author

 

Twitter. @paulawilliams44

Website. https://paulawilliamswriter.com/

 Instagram. paulawilliams_author 

 

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Book reviews, Mental Health, Non fiction

Everything Is Going To Be K.O by Kaiya Stone – Book Review

 

PUBLISHERS BLURB 

In Everything is Going to be K.O. Kaiya Stone writes about her own experiences of living with specific learning difficulties: from struggling at school to being diagnosed with dyslexia and dyspraxia while at university, to performing her own one-woman stand up show inspired by her journey.

Always funny and unfailingly honest, Kaiya outlines the frustrations of having SPLDS but also the ways in which they have fuelled her creativity. She calls for neurodiversity to be celebrated and stresses that instead of questioning how we are ‘supposed’ to think we should take pride in our cognitive differences.

Everything is Going to be K.O. is an uplifting book for anyone who has ever wondered what it is like to live with learning difficulties today.

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MY REVIEW 

This is Kaiya Stone’s memoir, telling of her slightly unconventional upbringing with her marvellously ‘hippy’ parents, to her life with Specific Learning Difficulties.

She writes with such humour and honesty it makes this a delight to read, but at the same time it deals with the seriousness of living with SLDs. I learned a lot and now have a greater understanding of the difficulties many people have to deal with on a daily basis.

It’s honest, open and illustrated with charming drawings, all of which make this a thoughtful and uplifting read. Brilliant.

Thank you to Martina at Midas PR for the opportunity to read this for free. This is my honest and unbiased review.

Book reviews, Legal drama, Thriller

No Truth Left To Tell by Michael McAuliffe – Book Review


PUBLISHERS BLURB 

February 1994—Lynwood, Louisiana: Flaming crosses light up the night and terrorize the southern town. The resurgent Klan wants a new race war, and the Klansmen will start it here. As federal civil rights prosecutor Adrien Rush is about to discover, the ugly roots of the past run deep in Lynwood.

For Nettie Wynn, a victim of the cross burnings and lifelong resident of the town’s segregated neighborhood, the hate crimes summon frightful memories of her youth, when she witnessed white townspeople lynch a black man. Her granddaughter Nicole DuBose, a successful journalist in New York City, returns to Lynwood to care for her grandmother. Rush arrives from DC and investigates the crimes with Lee Mercer, a seasoned local FBI special agent. Their partnership is tested as they clash over how far to go to catch the racists before the violence escalates. Rush’s role in the case becomes even more complicated after he falls for DuBose. When crucial evidence becomes compromisethreatening to upend what should be a celebrated conviction—the lines between right and wrong, black and white, collide with deadly consequences.

No Truth Left to Tell is a smart legal thriller that pulls readers into a compelling courtroom drama and an illusive search for justice in a troubled community.

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MY REVIEW 

This is a mix of legal thriller and courtroom drama which deals with the subjects of racism and civil rights.

It revolves around the horrific acts perpetrated by the kkk, the cross burnings, the hatred they encourage and the consequences of these acts.

It is an emotive read in many ways and will induce feelings of anger at those responsible and of empathy for the victims.

A clever plot and well developed characters make this a compelling thriller from start to finish.

Thank you to Anna at FSB Associates for the opportunity to read this for free. This is my honest and unbiased review.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR 

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Michael McAuliffe has been a practicing lawyer for thirty years. He was a federal prosecutor serving both as a supervisory assistant US attorney in the Southern District of Florida and a trial attorney in the Criminal Section of the Civil Rights Division at the Department of Justice in Washington, DC. 

In 2008, Michael was elected and served as the state attorney for Palm Beach County, leading an office of approximately 125 prosecutors. He was  known for leading the ethics reform movement in county that resulted in the creation of a permanent inspector general, an ethics commission, and new ethics code.

He also has been a partner at a major law firm, a global company general counsel, a senior lecturing fellow at Duke University’s School of Law, and an adjunct professor at William & Mary’s School of Law. Early in his career, Mr. McAuliffe was a Civic Education Project fellow and visiting professor of law in the Czech Republic.

Aside from the law, Mr. McAuliffe is an alpine mountaineer, having climbed and reached the summits of Aconcagua, Denali, Kilimanjaro (with his daughter), Island Peak in the Himalayas, and many other mountains.

He received his JD from the College of William & Mary’s Law School and his BBA from the Business Honors Program at the University of Texas at Austin. Michael and his wife Robin Rosenberg, a US district judge, have three children, and live in Florida and Massachusetts.

Book reviews

The Cutting Place by Jane Casey – Book Review

 

PUBLISHERS BLURB 

From award-winning author Jane Casey comes an incredibly exciting new Maeve Kerrigan crime thriller!

You’ve got to be in the club to know the truth.

Everyone’s heard the rumours about elite gentlemen’s clubs, where the champagne flows freely, the parties are the height of decadence . . . and the secrets are darker than you could possibly imagine.

DS Maeve Kerrigan finds herself in an unfamiliar world of wealth, luxury and ruthless behaviour when she investigates the murder of a young journalist, Paige Hargreaves. Paige was working on a story about the Chiron Club, a private society for the richest and most privileged men in London. Then she disappeared. 

It’s clear to Maeve that the members have many secrets. But Maeve is hiding secrets of her own – even from her partner DI Josh Derwent. Will she uncover the truth about Paige’s death? Or will time run out for Maeve first?

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MY REVIEW 

This is #9 in the Maeve Kerrigan series, it can easily be read as a stand-alone but you will be missing out on a really great series.

When a body part is found by a mudlarker on the Thames shore, an investigation begins to find the identity of the remains and how they died.

They belong to a journalist, who believed she had an explosive story about the secretive Chiron Club whose members are rich and powerful men.

Maeve takes a short stint at undercover work at an event at the Chiron Club to see if she can find out more. Are the rumours true? Was Paige onto something before she died and did it result in her death?

Meanwhile, Maeve has a boyfriend, Seth, he seems the perfect man, attentive and romantic, but her friends feel he is changing her. Derwent really doesn’t like him and he’s suspicious of his motives, to say the least.

Maeve also has a secret, which comes to light and threatens her close friendship with Derwent.

This really is an astounding read, it is a murder mystery, a thriller but also about relationships, secrets and domestic violence. The domestic violence is brutal, honest and told in a non sensational way, that anyone can be a victim.

So well written,with great well developed characters and clever, dark and tension filled plot. I think this is the best in the series so far…..I loved every minute.

Thank you to The Pigeonhole and Harper Collins for an ARC of this amazing book. This is my honest and unbiased review.

 

Book reviews, Crime thriller, True Crime

From Innocence To Arrogance by Ezekiel King – Book Review

PUBLISHERS BLURB 

From Innocence to Arrogance is the most authentic British crime novel on the market today. This book takes the reader on the journey in first person as Cyrus Johnson lives his day-to-day life.

Every 15-year-old is somewhat the same, what makes Cyrus so different is his mentality and decision-making. Read this! It will open your eyes to a world you never knew existed right under your nose. The information to live this life is here, but after having it, would you still want to?

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MY REVIEW 

Set in Coventry, this is the tale of Cyrus, a young man living on a council estate in a, let’s say, less than wealthy area. He’s fed up and bored of this life and he wants more, to have cash in his pocket and a little respect.

So, he decides to be a drug dealer.

He ‘employs’ friends and even family to help and quickly becomes successful. Cy is quite naive and trusting at first, but he gradually becomes more wary, harder and arrogant. He has the money, cars, girls and the lifestyle he so sorely wanted, but at what cost?

This really is a glimpse into a world many of us never see (thankfully) but a world many young men get drawn into by the idea of easy money, the glamour and respect. But it’s a violent world too and so many become victims of it.  Ezekiel King knows this world and has eloquently shown both sides in this eye opening fictional tale. It’s honest, gritty and clearly heartfelt as it shows the consequences of this lifestyle…….it will not end well. I found this to be utterly absorbing from start to finish and I’m hoping to read more of Cy and what happens in his life. 

Thank you to the author, Ezekiel King for the opportunity to read From Innocence To Arrogance for free. This is my honest and unbiased review.

Book reviews, Comedy, Japanese fiction

Spark by Naoki Matayoshi – Book Review

PUBLISHERS BLURB

Tokunaga is a young comedian struggling to make a name for himself in Osaka, when he is taken under the wing of the more experienced, but no more famous, Kamiya. But as much as Kamiya’s indestructible confidence inspires him, it also makes him doubt the limits of his own talent, and his own dedication to comedy.

Winner of the prestigious Akutagawa Prize, Spark is about art and friendship, about what it means to be committed to our own ambitions and to each other. A novel about comedy that’s as moving and thoughtful as it is funny, it’s already been a sensation in Japan.
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MY REVIEW 

Firstly, Manzai is Japanese stand up comedy, but it’s not about jokes. It’s about word play and deliberate misunderstandings between the two comedians. A straight man and a funny man.

Spark is the tale of Tokunaga, one of the Sparks manzai duo. He wants to be a better comedian, so when he meets the enigmatic Kamiya he persuades him to take him on as an apprentice, a Kohai. This is the story of their escapades.

I found this to be a really touching story of friendship, it’s ups and down and ultimately of love and respect. It’s funny and emotional too at times.

While this is a short read, it is well written with great characters and really packs a lot in. It speeds along with so much to keep you thoroughly engaged and entertained from start to finish.

Thank you to Poppy at Pushkin Press for a free copy of Spark. This is my honest and unbiased review.

 

Book reviews, Science fiction

Guest Post from D. Ellis Overttun – Prophesy:Eve Of Darkness

I’m delighted to welcome D. Ellis Overttun to The Bookwormery today. David is raising awareness of his Terra Nova series. First, here’s some information about the background to the series….this instalment is Prophesy: Eve Of Darkness.

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The Terra Nova series takes the reader on a journey of discovery to solve a mystery. Book 1, Universe: Awakening, suggests a universe on the verge of extinction when viewed through the lens of geologic time. Book 2, Genesis: Vision of the New World, suggests a safe haven.

 

But how to get there?

 

Through a series of seemingly disparate clues, this instalment, Prophecy: Eve of Darkness, shows us how. Along the way, the reader will encounter several themes.

One of the themes in the Terra Nova series is evolution.

Prophecy introduces us to the Nephilim, a clan descended from the Great Father and banished to the subterranean world beneath the planet. We see how this environment changed not only their physiology but also their ideology, culture and language. A universe away, we see how a genetically engineered species called “ProtoGendu” gain a foothold on a planet called “Terra Nova”. Finally, the Celesti themselves seem to be evolving as a new form of procreation called “life from life” offers hope to a dying species.

The Nephilim speak in a tongue called “clanspeak”, a form of communication that has devolved into a compact vocabulary designed to convey only the most basic information. What does this look like? I relied on the work of evolutionary biologist Professor Mark Pagel of the University of Reading. There have also been other physiological changes that have evolved that allow them to survive in this lightstarved environment.

Stealth, secrecy and deceit are suggestive of the concept of hidden or unrevealed. In Prophecy, we learn the Nephilim have adapted to survive in the harsh environment of the underearth by stealth and concealment. Now, they will use this skill to try to regain the position they once held. We think that language is a way to communicate. 

However, Professor Pagel has argued that, in fact, one of the functions of language has been to keep proprietary knowledge within a defined group. It is language as a vehicle of secrecy. (How many times have parents lapsed into the language of their forefathers when discussing sensitive matters in front of their children?) The reader will see this demonstrated in the “tongue of Taru” and the “old tongue”. Finally, lies and halftruths abound, inspired by Pamela Meyer, author of Liespotting.

Nativism is a philosophy of favoring the interests of incumbents over those of newcomers. It resists change. It is the ideology of “don’t fix it if it ain’t broke”. It is embodied in their philosophy of “purity and justice”. The antagonism of the Nephilim to the Celesti has been drawn from current events. Their response is not unlike the metaphor of the camel’s nose. The reader can see the parallels from today’s society as certain groups respond to their perception of being pushed out or already feeling they are outside the tent. Prophecy describes how this feeling can be exploited by one with his own agenda.

Who are the villains in the series so far? As author, I can tell you that it’s Theodor and the Nephilim. To me, their philosophies and motivations are reprehensible. But are they? (Yes, they are.) I read or heard an interview somewhere that a villain never really thinks he or she is the villain. (The only exception I can recall is the Operative from Serenity who said “There’s no place for me there…I’m a monster.”) Villains are motivated by what they believe is right, just like the protagonists of any story. This theme has been drawn from current events. Who are the heroes and who are the villains? It will be decided by history, and history is written by the victors.

Concepts from quantum physics feature as more of Auberon’s abilities are revealed. A quantum particle approaching a barrier can simultaneously pass through it (quantum tunneling) and bounce off it as long as no one is watching. This is referred to as “quantum nonlocality”. The concept of the connection between the observer and the observed was introduced to me when I read The Tao of Physics which explores the relationship between physics and eastern mysticism. Would this allow someone to walk through walls? This is sci-fi. So, the answer has to be “yes”. But how?

Prophecy finally explains the technology of the Intrepid/Phoenix. In Book 1, we learned matterantimatter annihilation powers the ship from particles that pop in and out of existence. Something from nothing also has its parallel in JudeoChristianity in the concept of “ex nihilo” from Genesis 1:1. We also learn the ship travels in subspace but we don’t know how. Book 2, tells us that subspace is opened by the convergence of two beams. Book 3 reveals more about this process and subspace itself.

The series draws heavily from JudeoChristian traditions. We learn the firstborn of the Great Father was a son named “Nephilim”. Clan Nephilim believe their birthright was unjustly taken from them by what was once Clan Artaxiad. There is a parallel in the story in Genesis of Esau and Jacob. The Nephilim, sometimes referred to by biblical scholars as “fallen”, has been directly reflected in their epithet in Prophecy as the “Fallen Ones”. The uniforms the Nephilim wear to protect themselves from the light and volume of sound of the surface world is reminiscent of the scales of a snake. This image was inspired by the serpent in the Garden of Eden.

Intriguing that’s for sure…..Thank you to David for providing all this information and pictures.

 

Book reviews, Contemporary fiction, Womens fiction

The Authenticity Project by Clare Pooley – Book Review

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PUBLISHERS BLURB 

Everybody lies about their lives. What would happen if you shared the truth instead?

Julian Jessop is living a lie. He’s lonely but refuses to speak to neighbours. He loved his wife when she was alive, but he didn’t tell her. (In fact, he wasn’t very kind to her at all.)

He feels invisible to the world but he doesn’t want to go out.

But now he wants to be honest.

So he writes his truth in a small green notebook and leaves it in his local cafe.

Monica gave up a high-flying career as a lawyer to open her own cafe,

but it isn’t going as well as she hoped.

On finding the notebook, she’s both inspired to write her own truth and to help Julian out of his loneliness.

Little does Julian know that his one small act is about to bring a whole group of people together as they discover the power, and the danger, of honesty.

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MY REVIEW 

This is the story of a little notebook.

Julian feels a bit jaded by life, he’s frustrated that no-one seems to be truly honest with each other any more. So he writes the truth about himself in a little notebook and leaves it in a cafe for someone else to find.

It is found and read by Monica, who adds her own thoughts and does the same….gradually a few people add their own worries and truths one by one.

With the anonymity comes a real honesty, but is there a cost? As these people gradually meet, friendships are made.

I found this to be a charming tale of home, dreams and friendships, with a gentle humour, great characters and some emotional moments too. A lovely, uplifting read and just what’s needed in these troubled times.

Thank you to Anne Cater and Random Things Tours for the opportunity to participate in this blog tour,  for the promotional materials and a free copy of the book. This is my honest, unbiased review.

 

You can buy a copy here: https://amzn.to/3aMz4Ne

 

ABOUT THE AUTHOR 

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Clare Pooley graduated from Cambridge and spent twenty years in the heady world of advertising before becoming a full-time mum. She is the author of the hugely popular blog, Mummy was a Secret Drinker, under the pseudonym Sober Mummy and her memoir, The Sober Diaries was published by Hodder in 2017 to critical acclaim.

Her blog has had over two million hits and she recently gave a TEDx talk titled Making Sober Less Shameful.

Clare’s debut novel The Authenticity Project is inspired by the time Clare spent in advertising, a world where the line between authenticity and fiction is constantly blurred, and by her own experience of exposing truth about her seemingly perfect life in her memoir. 

Book reviews, Crime thriller, Nordic noir

Sister by Kjell Ola Dahl – Book Review

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PUBLISHERS BLURB 

Oslo detective Frølich searches for the mysterious sister of a young female asylum seeker, but when people start to die, everything points to an old case and a series of events that someone will do anything to hide… Suspended from duty, Detective Frølich is working as a private investigator, when his girlfriend’s colleague asks for his help with a female asylum seeker, who the authorities are about to deport. She claims to have a sister in Norway, and fears that returning to her home country will mean instant death.

Frølich quickly discovers the whereabouts of the young woman’s sister, but things become increasingly complex when she denies having a sibling, and Frølich is threatened off the case by the police. As the body count rises, it becomes clear that the answers lie in an old investigation, and the mysterious sister, who is now on the run…

A dark, chilling and up-to-the-minute Nordic Noir thriller, Sister is also a tense and well-plotted murder mystery with a moving tragedy at its heart, cementing Kjell Ola Dahl as one of the greatest crime writers of our generation.

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MY REVIEW 

Frank Frølich is a private investigator, while investigating a case of purloined goods he meets Matilde. She has a friend, Guri,  who needs help finding the missing sister of an asylum seeker. 

Frølich takes the case as a favour, but is then contacted by an author who is working on a new book about the immigration system and wants him to check the motives of those searching for the missing girl…

But, then things get dark, the bodies begin to pile up and the tension builds.

With an incredibly taut plot, that really keeps you guessing, such likeable characters and the topical storyline, this really is a totally compelling read. Nordic Noir at its very best.

Thank you to Anne Cater and Random Things Tours for the opportunity to participate in this blog tour,  for the promotional materials and a free copy of the book. This is my honest, unbiased review.

 

You can buy a copy here : https://amzn.to/3bHs9oJ

 

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

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One of the fathers of the Nordic Noir genre, Kjell Ola Dahl was born in 1958 in Gjøvik. He made his debut in 1993, and has since published eleven novels, the most prominent of which is a series of police procedurals cum psychological thrillers featuring investigators Gunnarstranda and Frølich. In 2000 he won the Riverton Prize for The Last Fix and he won both the prestigious Brage and Riverton Prizes for The Courier in 2015. His work has been published in 14 countries, and he lives in Oslo. 

Balkan noir, Book reviews, Crime thriller

Living Candles by Teodora Matei – Book Review

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PUBLISHERS BLURB 

The discovery of a woman close to death in a city basement sends Bucharest police officers Anton Iordan and Sorin Matache on a complex chase through the city as they seek to identify the victim. As they try to track down the would-be murderer, they find a macabre trail of missing women and they realise that this isn’t the first time the killer has struck. Iordan and Matache hit one dead end after another, until they decide they’ll have to take a chance that could prove deadly.

Buy Link 

https://amzn.to/2HT6MnD

 

 

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MY REVIEW

This is a murder mystery set in Romania. 

When a red haired woman’s body is found hanging upside down an investigation begins. She miraculously survives, but is she the only victim?

Commissioner Anton Iordan and Chief Inspector Matache find details of other missing women, but what links them?

This is a fast paced, relatively quick read with a very clever plot that keeps you guessing. I read this in one sitting and was completely engrossed from start to finish. 

Thank you to Kelly at Love Book Tours for the opportunity to take part in this blog tour, for the promotional material and a free ecopy of Living Candles. This is my honest and unbiased review.

 

Corylus Books

 

Corylus Book is a new venture aiming to publish fiction translated into English. The people behind the company have very different backgrounds, but what brings us together is a deep appreciation of crime fiction and a strong interest in books from countries that so have been under-represented in English.

 

It took a while before it turned out that everyone’s thoughts had been on similar lines – that we wanted to take a chance on presenting some of the great European crime fiction that wouldn’t normally make its way into English. With a mixture of language, translation and other skills between the four of us, it seemed the logical next step to take.

 

Book reviews, Crime thriller, Police procedural

Buried by Lynda La Plante – Book Review

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PUBLISHERS BLURB 

DC Jack Warr and his girlfriend Maggie have just moved to London to start a new life together. Though charming, Jack can’t seem to find his place in the world – until he’s drawn into an investigation that turns his life upside down.

In the aftermath of a fire at an isolated cottage, a badly charred body is discovered, along with the burnt remains of millions of stolen, untraceable bank notes.

Jack’s search leads him deep into a murky criminal underworld – a world he finds himself surprisingly good at navigating. But as the line of the law becomes blurred, how far will Jack go to find the answers – and what will it cost him?

In BURIED, it’s time to meet DC Jack Warr as he digs up the deadly secrets of the past . . .

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MY REVIEW 

This is the first in a new series that introduces DC Jack Warr.

When a body is found after a fire at Rose Cottage, a pile of burnt cash is also found. Is this linked to the cold case, a train robbery in 1995?

So the investigation begins with DCI Ridley in charge, but the real focus is on his team, DC Jack Warr, Ds Laura Wade and DC Anik Joshi.

This has a gritty and twisty plot which is so engrossing, but for me the real marvel is the characters. They are all so well developed and their personal lives and stories are heartbreaking at times, so well written you forget this is fiction.

With its tight plot and great characters this really makes for another fantastic read from Lynda La Plante.

Thank you to Tracy and Compulsive Readers for the opportunity to participate in this blog tour,  for the promotional materials and a free copy of the ebook. This is my honest, unbiased review. 

Book reviews, Crime thriller

Virgin & Child by Maggie Hamand – Book Review

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PUBLISHERS BLURB 

Literary Thriller ‘merges Crime with Catholicism’

Patrick, the first Irish Pope, discovers he is intersex and finds himself pregnant. 

Maggie Hamand’s Virgin & Child grips onto this wild premise and runs from there.

This isn’t a book about miracles. Maggie is a journalist, has a science degree, and what happens in the novel is within the realm of the possible. Virgin & Child is alternate history, that lets the reader expand their sense of what is credible.

What gives this novel true bite is how real it feels. Maggie grew up as what her era called a tomboy, and gave birth to three sons. She worked and campaigned for women’s fertility rights. She has also studied theology and this book began as a PhD in that subject, before she changed to creative writing.

‘I found the theology PhD too constricting, and felt that only by writing fiction could I fully explore the issues I wanted to tackle,’ says Hamand. ‘I felt that only through an imagined direct and bodily experience could a celibate Pope understand a

woman’s experience. I hope that by reading the novel others will identify with the character and be shocked into a new understanding.”

Like works by Brian Moore, Graham Greene, Robert Harris and Piers Paul Reed, the novel reads as a gripping thriller while at the same time tackling questions of religion, faith and gender. What makes Virgin & Child different is that it’s not written by a man. Did a mother conceive the notion of a virgin birth? Probably not. Mothers know the act of creation is all too human and messy.

This novel takes a Pope, God’s elect on Earth who tradition says has to be a man, and feminizes the whole concept. How would that alter a male worldview? Virgin & Child gives an answer as an act of searing storytelling.

 

‘Strangely touching… written with great elegance and authority. It tackles “head on” some of the most challenging issues for the Roman Catholic Church around gender and sexuality’ Sara Maitland

 

‘Cleverly merges crime with Catholicism and piety with a dangerous love… wonderfully original and absorbing.’ Mary Flanagan

 

Virgin & Child tied in with Maggie Hamand’s earlier fiction as a dangerous play on the Christian story. Praise for The Resurrection of the Body:

 

‘This extraordinary little book is thoughtful, perceptive, and subtle…’ Laura Wilson, The Guardian

 

‘Maggie Hamand is a writer possessed of that rare gift: an utterly individual voice’ Barry Forshaw, The Independent

 

‘A compelling, impressive tale’ The Times

 

‘An assured tone and decidedly bold denouement – a talent to watch’ Financial Times

‘More than a tricksy re-telling of an old tale… miracle and science, truth and myth, clash and interweave in the raw glare of modernity’ Catholic Herald

 

‘Exquisitely well-constructed… an extraordinary achievement.’ Brighton Argus

‘Ingenious and provocative’ Hampstead & Highgate Express

 

‘This is just one of those books you don’t want to put down’ Lancashire Evening Telegraph

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MY REVIEW 

Pope Patrick, the first Irish born Pope is already upsetting the apple art that is the Roman Catholic Church. 

He feels there should be a discussion about the souls of lost, unborn foetus’, they should have meaning and others vehemently disagree.

Patrick is attacked and after medical checks he is found to be pregnant…….he now has a choice to make! 

While this is a crime thriller. It also deals with issues of gender, sexuality and faith. It’s not about sensationalism but of real life in is messy, complicated glory,

Beautifully written, it’s articulate and compassionate. It is only a relatively short novel at 280 pages but it packs a punch. Thought provoking and unputdownable.

Thank you to Anne Cater and Random Things Tours for the opportunity to participate in this blog tour,  for the promotional materials and a free copy of the book. This is my honest, unbiased review.

 

ABOUT THE AUTHOR 

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Maggie Hamand is a journalist, novelist, and creative writing lecturer. She was the first winner of the World One-Day Novel Cup and her novel, The Resurrection of the Body, was published by Penguin and has been optioned for film and television. She was founder and director of the award-winning independent publisher Maia Press. Maggie has a degree in biochemistry, a Masters in theology, and a PhD in creative writing from the University of Hull. She has taught in a range of institutions including Holloway Prison and is author of the best-selling Creative Writing For Dummies. She lives in East London. 

Book reviews, Crime thriller, Thriller

30 Days In June by Chris Westlake – Book Review

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PUBLISHERS BLURB 

On the 1st day of June 1988, the residents of south Wales were thrown into a state of panic when a married couple were brutally murdered in their own home. The killer, nicknamed Spartacus by the media, did not flee the scene immediately; instead, he stayed to carve Roman Numerals onto his victims’ chests.

This was the beginning of a month-long killing spree, each murder taking a step closer to home.

Seventeen-year-old Jeffrey Allen was to be the final victim, on the final day of the month. Instead, he became the only survivor, and the only real witness. The killings ended as suddenly as they began. Jeffrey relocated to London, changing his name, and his identity, to Marcus Clancy. His past life became merely a dark secret.

On 1st June 2018, 30 years to the day since the first killing, a mysterious figure refers to Marcus by his old name, through closing lift doors.

Is Spartacus back? If so, has he returned to finish what he failed to do thirty years ago?

And so begins 30 days of terror for Marcus Clancy, culminating in dramatic fashion on the final day of June.

30 DAYS IN JUNE is Chris Westlake’s third novel, and his first crime thriller. He is currently writing his second crime thriller and is on schedule to have it completed in 2020.

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MY REVIEW 

This is the tale of Spartacus, a serial killer at his height of notoriety in 1988.

Now, 30 years later, the sole survivor of this reign of terror, Marcus, has heard someone call his old name. He’d changed it to protect himself and had a life and family using his new name. Has Spartacus found him?

Told in the two timelines, it really concentrates on Marcus, his state of mind, his previous trauma and subsequent therapy. 

This is incredibly tense at times as Marcus starts to unravel under the pressure, this tension continues to build making this a truly compelling thriller, a real nail biter.

Thank you to Damppebbles Blog Tours for the opportunity to participate in this blog tour,  for the promotional materials and a free copy of the ebook. This is my honest, unbiased review. 

 

ABOUT THE AUTHOR 

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After completing a Creative Writing course in 2010, Chris Westlake’s short story, Welsh Lessons, was awarded 1st place in the Global Short Story Award (not bad for the first writing competition he had entered). He followed this up with 1st place in the Stringybark Erotic Fiction Award and 2nd place in the HASSRA Literary Award.

Chris has written three novels. 30 DAYS IN JUNE is his first crime thriller. He is currently writing his second thriller, on schedule to be completed in 2020. He is determined to write many, many more – his main regret is that he didn’t start writing earlier.

Chris considers himself to be a developing author. He is always looking to improve, to make his next novel even better than the last. He is continuously experimenting with different styles, different genres.

 

You can contact Chris at chriswestlakeauthor@hotmail.co.uk . He would love to hear from you.

 

 

Social Media:

Twitter: https://twitter.com/ChrisWestlake2

Website: http://www.chriswestlakeauthor.co.uk

 

 

Purchase Links:

 

Amazon UK: 

https://www.amazon.co.uk/30-DAYS-JUNE-Serial-Thriller ebook/dp/B08283SZBZ/ref=tmm_kin_swatch_0_encoding=UTF8&qid=1584367251&sr=8-1

 

Amazon US: 

 

https://www.amazon.com/30-DAYS-JUNE-Serial-Thriller-ebook/dp/B08283SZBZ/ref=sr_1_1?keywords=30+days+in+june+chris+westlake&qid=1584367779&sr=8-1

 

Blackwells: 

https://blackwells.co.uk/bookshop/product/30-Days-in-June-by-Chris-Westlake-author/9781712581353?a_aid=WhisperingStories 

 

Book reviews, Historical fiction

Hamnet by Maggie O’Farrell – Book Review

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PUBLISHERS BLURB 

Drawing on Maggie O’Farrell’s long-term fascination with the little-known story behind Shakespeare’s most enigmatic play, HAMNET is a luminous portrait of a marriage, at its heart the loss of a beloved child. 

Warwickshire in the 1580s. Agnes is a woman as feared as she is sought after for her unusual gifts. She settles with her husband in Henley street, Stratford, and has three children: a daughter, Susanna, and then twins, Hamnet and Judith. The boy, Hamnet, dies in 1596, aged eleven. Four years or so later, the husband writes a play called Hamlet. 

Award-winning author Maggie O’Farrell’s new novel breathes full-blooded life into the story of a loss usually consigned to literary footnotes, and provides an unforgettable vindication of Agnes, a woman intriguingly absent from history.

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MY REVIEW 

Set in 1580’s Warwickshire and tells the tale of Agnes.

Agnes is a bit of a unique woman, she kept a Kestrel when she was young, she uses herbs for health, keeps bees and knows things about people, just by touching their hands. She has three children. Susanna and twins, Judith and Hamnet. Her husband works in London, so he is as far away from his brutal father as he can be.

Young Hamnet tragically dies at only 11 years old in the time of plague.

Four years later his father writes a play, Hamlet.

Oh my, this is a beautifully written tale of loss, of grief, the heartbreak at the loss of a child. The language used is gentle and flows perfectly, giving a real sense of time and place, the emotion is palpable.

This really is historical fiction at its finest and is sure to be a classic in the making and Book clubs everywhere will adore it. A truly stunning read.

Thank you to Anne Cater and Random Things Tours for the opportunity to participate in this blog tour,  for the promotional materials and a free copy of the book. This is my honest, unbiased review.

 

ABOUT THE AUTHOR 

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Maggie O’Farrell (born 1972, Coleraine Northern Ireland) is a British author of contemporary fiction, who features in Waterstones’ 25 Authors for the Future. It is possible to identify several common themes in her novels – the relationship between sisters is one, another is loss and the psychological impact of those losses on the lives of her characters.

 

Book reviews, Fantasy, Gothic horror

The Die Of Death by Kenneth B. Andersen – Book Review

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PUBLISHERS BLURB 

Philip’s adventures as the Devil’s apprentice have changed him—in a good way. Although he misses his friends in Hell, he has made new friends in life. 

But when the future of the underworld is threatened once again, Philip’s help is needed. Death’s Die has been stolen and immortality is spreading across the globe. 

Philip throws himself into the search—and discovers a horrible truth about his own life along the way.

The Die of Death is volume 2 in The Great Devil War-series and winner of the ORLA-Award.

The Great Devil War-series is a humorous and gripping tale about good and evil, filled with biblical and historical characters, such as Judas, Goliath, and Pontius Pilate, as well as modern figures such as Elvis Presley, Albert Einstein, Winston Churchill, and many more. 

The Great Devil War-series is a Danish bestseller, topping library and school reading lists among teens and young adults. The books have been published in more than ten countries and have won numerous awards.
183953FE-B95F-44F1-8A7B-6DD9D6B2B076

MY REVIEW 

Set in Hell, this is the tale of Philip, a young boy who is learning to be the Devil’s successor. He had been taken by mistake, but the Devil decided he’d do.

When Death’s die goes missing ( How can Death decide who’s time it is to die without it?) So, the Devil tasks Philip with finding it….

This is such a fun read, it has everything. There’s menace, fear, the macabre and humour all in a marvellously dark world. I loved it and can’t wait for book 3.

Thank you to The Write Reads for the opportunity to participate in this blog tour,  for the promotional materials and a free copy of the ebook. This is my honest, unbiased review.

 

ABOUT THE AUTHOR 

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Kenneth B. Andersen (1976) is an award-winning Danish writer. He has published more than forty books for children and young adults, including both fantasy, horror, and science fiction. 

His books have been translated into more than 15 languages and his hit-series about the superhero Antboy has been turned into three movies. A musical adaptation of The Devil’s Apprentice, the first book in The Great Devil War series, opened in the fall 2018 and film rights for the series have been optioned.

Kenneth lives in Copenhagen with his wife, two boys, a dog named Milo, and spiders in the basement.

 

 

Website http://www.kennethbandersen.com

Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/WriterKennethBAndersen/

Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/kenneth_b_andersen/

Twitter: https://twitter.com/K_B_Andersen

Bookbub: https://www.bookbub.com/profile/kenneth-b-andersen

 

Book reviews, Noir

Zodiac by Anamaria Ionescu – Book Review

C4AE2AA8-D172-4ABB-A811-A25683FF931B

PUBLISHERS BLURB 

When investigator Sergiu Manta is handed the investigation into a series of bizarre murders, he can’t sure what he’s getting involved in as he has to work with regular detective Marius Stanescu, who has his own suspicions about the biker he has been told to work with, and wants to get to the truth. The twists and turns of their investigation takes them from the city of Bucharest to the mountains of rural Romania, and back.
8ED73292-2123-4F43-92D5-D780B0356734

MY REVIEW 

#2 in the series featuring Sergiu Manta. It can also be read as a stand-alone.

Set in Romania this is in Bucharest and a small town of Voineasa. 

Four bodies are found, in different locations though, all with similar marks on their bodies. Is a serial killer at work and what is the link to Voineasa?

Sergiu is the investigator and is tasked with working alongside a cop, Marius. They are both wary of each other’s motives but both want the truth. Can a secret agent and a cop work together?

This is a quick, fast paced read with a clever plot with plenty of intrigue and twists to keep your attention from start to finish.

Thank you to Kelly at Love Book Tours for the opportunity to take part in this blog tour, for the promotional material and a free copy of the book. This is my honest and unbiased review.

 

Buy Link 

https://amzn.to/32pjB2s

 

Corylus Books

 

Corylus Book is a new venture aiming to publish fiction translated into English. The people behind the company have very different backgrounds, but what brings us together is a deep appreciation of crime fiction and a strong interest in books from countries that so have been under-represented in English.

 

It took a while before it turned out that everyone’s thoughts had been on similar lines – that we wanted to take a chance on presenting some of the great European crime fiction that wouldn’t normally make its way into English. With a mixture of language, translation and other skills between the four of us, it seemed the logical next step to take.

 

The first Corylus books are a pair of Romanian crime novellas, Living Candles by Teodora Matei and Zodiac by Anamaria Ionescu.

 

There’s more to come in 2020 – starting with Romanian novelist’s Bogdan Teodorescu’s Sword, a powerful political thriller that has already been a bestseller in Romania and in its French translation. Sword will be available in May and will be followed later in the year by the first of two books by Icelandic crime writer Sólveig Pálsdóttir. The Fox will be available in the second half of this year, followed by Shackles in 2021.

 

And there’s more to come, with a novel by Bogdan Hrib set partly in Romania and partly in the north-east of England, a second novel from Teodora Matei, and we’re talking to more exciting writers from across Europe about what we can do together…

 

Important – Tagging 

It is really important that the author, publisher and Love Books Tours can find and share your blog features with ease. The point of the feature is promotion.  We encourage tagging the author, publisher and Love Books Tours Twitter handles.

 

@ami2ro @CorylusB @Lovebookgroup #Lovebookstours 

 

If you are posting your feature on Instagram, please tag us there too so we can share – https://www.instagram.com/lovebookstours/

Book reviews, Chinese Fiction, Contemporary fiction, Short story

Two Lives: Tales of Life, Love & Crime by A Yi – Book Review

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PUBLISHERS BLURB
 

Seven stories, seven whispers into the ears of life: A Yi’s unexpected twists of crime burst from the everyday, with glimpses of romance distorted by the weaknesses of human motive. A Yi employs his forensic skills to offer a series of portraits of modern life, both uniquely Chinese, and universal in their themes.

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MY REVIEW 

Two Lives is a collection of 7 short stories, a mix of tales about life, death and the character of people.

I feel there is a real sense of place in these stories and a definite quirk to them. There’s a man who walks away from home,  missing for many years, only to return but not tell the woman where he’s been, a tale an anti-aging process that’s pure science fiction to tales of violence, rape and suicide. All dealing with the human psyche in all its glory, good, bad and indifferent.

At times this is not an easy read, but it’s always compelling, to watch these lives as a bystander. I found the general feeling of disdain for women uncomfortable at times and causes a visceral reaction….which is the point I think.

Two Lives may not be to everyone’s taste but it’s well written, unique and original. Disturbing and challenging at times, but definitely unforgettable.

Thank you to Anne Cater and Random Things Tours for the opportunity to participate in this blog tour,  for the promotional materials and a free copy of the book. This is my honest, unbiased review.

 

ABOUT THE AUTHOR 

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A Yi (author) is a celebrated Chinese writer living in Beijing. He worked as a police officer before becoming editor-in- chief of Chutzpah, an avant garde literary magazine. He is the author of several collections of short stories and has published fiction in Granta and the Guardian. In 2010 he was shortlisted for the People’s Literature Top 20 Literary Giants of the Future. A Perfect Crime, his first book in English was published by Oneworld in 2015. He is noted for his unsentimental worldview, and challenging literary style.

 

Alex Woodend (Translator) is a writer/translator whose fascination with Spanish and Chinese began at Franklin & Marshall College. He continued his studies at Columbia University where he wrote his Masters on early post-Mao literature. Translator of The Captain Riley Adventures , Murder in Dragon City, and other works, he currently lives in New York.

 

FLAME TREE PRESS is the new fiction imprint of Flame Tree Publishing. Launched recently in 2018 the list brings together brilliant new authors and the more established; the award winners, and exciting, original voices.

 

Book reviews, Dystopian fiction, Fantasy, post-apocalyptic, YA fiction

Cynetic Wolf by Matt Ward – Book Review

PUBLISHERS BLURB 

It’s 2096, sixty years after ninety percent died from a man-made Bioplague. Humanity has splintered into four unequal subspecies: immortals, cyborgs, enhancers, and subservient half-human, half-animal hybrids. 

The world is anything but equal. Hybrids everywhere are suffering, but sixteen-year-old Raek Mekorian, a wolfish with a nose for trouble, doesn’t see an alternative. Except the Resistance, who don’t stand a chance against the world government. His mom always said, “Keep your head down.”

And he does, until his sister is murdered by a pair of cyborgs. Overnight, his simple life is shattered, fracturing the rigid governmental caste as he is thrust into the dangerous world of superhuman hit squads, Resistance uprisings, and secrets better left unsaid.

With only built-in blasters and the advice of a mysterious professor, Raek must navigate crushing betrayal, self-doubt, and a limitless enemy whose evil knows no bounds.

Can Raek unify his people and free them from tyranny? The fate of mankind may rest in his hands.

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MY REVIEW

Cynetic Wolf is #1 of the Wolfish series. 

Set in 2096, this is a post apocalyptic YA fantasy tale in which Raek,16 and a wolf hybrid lives a quiet life.

But then his sister is murdered and his parents are abducted,

People are now routinely a mix of human and animal genes and the world is a very different place to live.

This is a coming of age fantasy tale as Raek has to grow up quickly and deal with life and its many challenges. The pressure on him is immense. Can he rise to the challenge and help save the world?

This is action packed and so fast paced it will leave you breathless. A fantastic mix of characters, creatures and even cyborgs. Brilliantly entertaining.

 

ABOUT THE AUTHOR 

I’m an entrepreneur, blogger, startup advisor and futurist (actually ranked #24 worldwide), and I run Disruptors.FM, a podcast on exponential tech and where we’re headed. I wrote this book because I see humanity diverging in the coming years as genetic engineering and self-enhancement change our very essence and hope to safeguard against the big challenges I see facing all of us.

 

My website is mattwardwrites.com. You can also find me on Twitter @mattwardwrites and Instagram @mattwardwrites

 

Book reviews, Family drama, Psychlogical thriller

Mine by Clare Empson – Book Review


PUBLISHERS BLURB 

Who am I? Why am I here? Why did my mother give me away?’

On the surface, Luke and his girlfriend Hannah seem to have a perfect life. He’s an A&R man, she’s an arts correspondent and they are devoted to their new-born son Samuel.

But beneath the gloss Luke has always felt like an outsider. So when he finds his birth mother Alice, the instant connection with her is a little like falling in love.

When Hannah goes back to work, Luke asks Alice to look after their son. But Alice – fuelled with grief from when her baby was taken from her 27 years ago – starts to fall in love with Samuel. And Luke won’t settle for his mother pushing him aside once again…

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MY REVIEW 

This is a psychological thriller with an emotional edge.

Luke had been adopted when very young and he now has a family of his own. He has a young son, Samuel with his partner Hannah.

He is newly reunited with his birth mother, Alice who helps take care of Samuel so Hannah can go back to work.

Told in two distinct times lines, Alice’s from the past and Luke’s in the present and set in the world of art and music.

Without spoiling the plot, this is a beautifully written story with a slowly building tension, a family drama with a twist that’s gripping as you watch someone fall apart.

Thank you to Tracy and Compulsive Readers for the opportunity to participate in this blog tour,  for the promotional materials and a free copy of the ebook. This is my honest, unbiased review. 

Book reviews, Murder mystery, Thriller

A Conspiracy Of Bones by Kathy Reichs – Book Review

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PUBLISHERS BLURB 

Number One New York Times bestselling author Kathy Reichs returns with her nineteenth riveting novel featuring forensic anthropologist Temperance Brennan, who must use all her tradecraft to discover the identity of a faceless corpse, its connection to a decade-old missing child case, and why the dead man had her phone number.

It’s sweltering in Charlotte, North Carolina, and Temperance Brennan, still recovering from neurosurgery following an aneurysm, is battling nightmares, migraines, and what she thinks might be hallucinations when she receives a series of mysterious text messages, each containing a new picture of a corpse that is missing its face and hands. Immediately, she’s anxious to know who the dead man is, and why the images were sent to her.

An identified corpse soon turns up, only partly answering her questions.

To win answers to the others, including the man’s identity, she must go rogue. With help from a number of law enforcement associates including her Montreal beau Andrew Ryan and the always-ready-with-a-smart-quip, ex-homicide investigator Skinny Slidell, and utilizing new cutting-edge forensic methods, Tempe draws closer to the astonishing truth.

But the more she uncovers, the darker and more twisted the picture becomes …

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MY REVIEW 

This is #19 in the Temperance Brennan series, it can be read as a stand-alone but I would say you should also read more in this excellent series.

Tempe is recovering from surgery for an aneurysm, she has headaches, nightmares and hallucinations. 

When she is sent anonymous pictures, to her phone, of a maimed corpse, predated by feral pigs (I’ll just leave that image with you for a minute), Tempe needs to know who the victim is, who sent the pictures and why.

As Temperance is persona non grata with her new ‘boss’, she decides to do her own investigation, taking samples and detail as of the body without the relevant authority. With the help of the brusque Slidell they begin the investigation. What they find is horrific, but I won’t say much more of the plot for fear of spoiling it.

I am a fan of Kathy Reichs’ books and this is a favourite. Tempe is a bit vulnerable, doubting herself and struggling to know what is real at times. But her determination and incredible knowledge it put to work to find the truth. She will not give in.

A masterpiece of plotting, the twists and revelations make this a must read thriller. I loved every dark minute.

Thank you to Anne Cater and Random Things Tours for the opportunity to participate in this blog tour,  for the promotional materials and a free copy of the book. This is my honest, unbiased review.

 

You can buy a copy here: https://amzn.to/2QHiaYv

 

ABOUT THE AUTHOR 

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Kathy Reichs’s first novel Déjà Dead was a number one bestseller and won the 1997 Ellis Award for Best First Novel. A Conspiracy of Bones is Kathy’s nineteenth entry in her series featuring forensic anthropologist Temperance Brennan. Kathy was also a producer of the hit Fox TV series, Bones, which is based on her work and her novels.

Dr. Reichs is one of very few forensic anthropologists certified by the American Board of Forensic Anthropology. She served on the Board of Directors and as Vice President of both the American Academy of Forensic Sciences and the American Board of Forensic Anthropology, and as a member of the National Police Services Advisory Council in Canada. She divides her time between Charlotte, North Carolina, and Montreal, Québec.