Book reviews, Historical fiction

The Foundling by Stacey Halls – Book Review

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PUBLISHERS BLURB 

A mother’s love knows no bounds. . .

London, 1754. Six years after leaving her newborn, Clara, at London’t Foundling Hospital, young Bess Bright returns to reclaim the illegitimate daughter she has never really known. Dreading the worst – that Clara has died in care – the last thing she expects to hear is that her daughter has already been reclaimed. Her life is turned upside down as she tries to find out who has taken her little girl – and why.

Les than a mile from Bess’ lodgings in a quiet town house, a wealthy widow barely ventures outside. When her close friend – an ambitious doctor at the Foundling Hospital – persuades her to hire a nursemaid for her young daughter, she is hesitant to welcome someone new into her home and her life. But her past is threatening to catch up with her – and will soon tear her carefully constructed world apart.

Set against the vibrant backdrop of Georgian London, ‘THE LOST ORPHAN’ explores families and secrets, class and power, and how the pull of motherhood cuts across them all.

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MY REVIEW 

Bess gives birth to her daughter, Clara, but as an unmarried woman from a poor background she makes the heartbreaking decision to leave her baby at the Foundling Hospital. She intends to collect her once her situation improves…..hopefully.

It takes Bess 6 years, but she has finally saved enough money to be able to collect Clara. However, when she arrives she is told the baby had been collected by its mother the day after she had been left there.

Utterly distraught, Bess can not understand who would have taken her baby and why…

Will Bess ever see her daughter again?

Well, what can I say? This is beautifully written historical fiction at its finest. It tells of the differences in social status, the huge gap between the wealthy and the poor and the challenges they face on a daily basis. It also tells of motherhood and just how far a mother will go for her child.

Both heartbreaking and heartwarming.

If you love historical fiction with an emotional heart, you’ll adore this.

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.

Thank you also to Pigeonhole for the brilliant, interactive daily staves and the ability to participate with other readers.

You can buy a copy here : https://amzn.to/3bJJU7B

Book reviews, Historical fiction

A Shadow On The Lens by Sam Hurcom – Book Review (Now available in Paperback)

I originally posted this in September 2019, but as the marvellous book is now available in paperback, I’m just reposting…..

 

PUBLISHERS BLURB 

The Postmaster looked over my shoulder. As I turned to look I saw a flicker of movement from across the street. I felt unseen eyes peer at me.

He walked away without another word. I watched as he climbed onto his bicycle and sped away down the street. I turned back and looked over my shoulder.

Someone had been watching us.

  1. Thomas Bexley, one of the first forensic photographers, is called to the sleepy and remote Welsh village of Dinas Powys, several miles down the coast from the thriving port of Cardiff. A young girl by the name of Betsan Tilny has been found murdered in the woodland – her body bound and horribly burnt. But the crime scene appears to have been staged, and worse still: the locals are reluctant to help.

As the strange case unfolds, Thomas senses a growing presence watching him, and try as he may, the villagers seem intent on keeping their secret. Then one night, in the grip of a fever, he develops the photographic plates from the crime scene in a makeshift darkroom in the cellar of his lodgings. There, he finds a face dimly visible in the photographs; a face hovering around the body of the dead girl – the face of Betsan Tilny.

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MY REVIEW 

Betsan Tilney has been murdered and her body burnt. Due to the local villagers superstitions, her body is being kept in an abandoned church. They feel the Death is the result of the demon, Calon Fawr.

Thomas Bexley, a forensic photographer is sent to document the evidence, but he is unwell with a fever and starts to see things …including a shape over the body in one of his photographs …or is it just a flaw?

He visits Bethan’s mother and while unwell he is certain she told him, “Do not look for her with your eyes”….

Will Thomas find the killer, or is there something even darker walking in the village?

This is a creepy, gothic supernatural mystery in the vein of Poe and Lovecraft, there are even rats scratching in the ceiling….if like a historical, supernatural mystery then you’ll love this.

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

Book reviews, Historical fiction

Dreamland by Nancy Bilyeau – Book Review

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PUBLISHERS BLURB 

The year is 1911 when twenty-year-old heiress Peggy Batternberg is invited to spend the summer in America’s Playground. 

The invitation to Coney Island is unwelcome. Despite hailing from one of America’s richest families, Peggy would much rather spend the summer working at the Moonrise Bookstore than keeping up appearances with New York City socialites and her snobbish, controlling family. 

But soon it transpires that the hedonism of Coney Island affords Peggy the freedom she has been yearning for, and it’s not long before she finds herself in love with a troubled pier-side artist of humble means, whom the Batternberg patriarchs would surely disapprove of. 

Disapprove they may, but hidden behind their pomposity lurks a web of deceit, betrayal, and deadly secrets. And as bodies begin to mount up amidst the sweltering clamor of Coney Island, it seems the powerful Batternbergs can get away with anything… even murder. 

Extravagant, intoxicating, and thumping with suspense, bestselling Nancy Bilyeau’s magnificent Dreamland is a story of corruption, class, and dangerous obsession.
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MY REVIEW 

Peggy works in the Moonrise Bookstore, that is until her Uncle arrives and tells her she is needed at home. It turns out Peggy is a member of the wealthiest families in America, the Batternbergs. It’s 1911 and Peggy is a new woman, independent and knows her own mind.

She has been told she must spend the summer with the family at the Oriental Hotel. Her father had died in debt and the Batternberg family had been paying all expenses since, but when her mother finds out she decides to sell their home, downsize and live off the proceeds….Peggy is dubious as this doesn’t sound like her mother.

At the hotel, there’s Peggy, her mother, sister Lydia and brother, Lawrence. There is also Henry, Lydia’s fiancé, plus cousin Ben.

Dealing with the stifling atmosphere, Peggy escapes and meets, artist Stefan in Dreamland on Coney Island…….but then a woman’s body is found, Stefan is suspected due to his background but she knows he’s innocent and sets out to prove it putting herself in danger at times too. 

This is just a perfect read, historical fiction at its finest, with a strong female character, a murder mystery and a little love too. It highlights the vast difference between the wealthy, the less fortunate and those from a different country or culture, not only in monetary terms but in attitudes and behaviour.  The writing is so descriptive, you can feel the sweltering heatwave and the family tensions are palpable….I love it and is a must read for anyone who enjoys engrossing historical fiction. Gloriously entertaining.

Thank you to Hannah at Endeavour Books for the opportunity to read this for free. This is my honest and unbiased review. My thanks also to Pigeonhole, for the daily staves of Dreamland…..

 

You can buy a copy here: https://amzn.to/36fud4i

 

ABOUT THE AUTHOR 

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Nancy is a writer and magazine editor who has worked as an editor at “Rolling Stone,” “InStyle,” and “Good Housekeeping.” 

Her new historical novel is “Dreamland,” set in 1911 New York City and telling the story of a rebellious heiress who escapes from her over protective family to experience the delights of Coney IIsland–but there are dangers too.

In December 2019 Nancy published a novella set in old New York: “The Ghost of Madison Avenue,” telling a mystery set in the private library of JP Morgan,

Nancy is the author of “The Blue,” a novel of suspense set in the art and porcelain worlds of 18th century Europe featuring a young female artist turned spy, and a trilogy of award-winning Tudor mysteries, published in 9 countries: “The Crown,” “The Chalice,” and “The Tapestry.” 

Nancy’s mind is usually in past centuries, but she lives with her family in the Queens borough of New York City.

Visit Nancy’s website at http://www.nancybilyeau.com, and follow her on Twitter @tudorscribe (courtesy of Goodreads)

 

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Book reviews, Historical fiction

Where The Sun Will Rise Tomorrow by Rashi Rohatgi – Book Review.

PUBLISHERS BLURB 

It’s 1905, and the Japanese victory over the Russians has shocked the British and their imperial subjects. Sixteen-year-old Leela and her younger sister, Maya, are spurred on to wear homespun to show the British that the Indians won’t be oppressed for much longer, either, but when Leela’s betrothed, Nash, asks her to circulate a petition amongst her classmates to desegregate the girls’ school in Chadrapur, she’s wary. She needs to remind Maya that the old ways are not all bad, for soon Maya will have to join her own betrothed and his family in their quiet village.

When she discovers that Maya has embarked on a forbidden romance, Leela’s response shocks her family, her town, and her country firmly into the new century.

due for publication 8 March 2020.
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MY REVIEW 

This is set in 1905, India.

Leela is 16 and is betrothed to Nash. He has just returned from 3 years of studying in Japan after being recalled due to the war between Russia and Japan.

Maya, is Leela’s younger sister and when they listen to Nash’s dreams of uniting the Hindu and Muslim population, they start to petition for the amalgamation of two girls schools. But, then a closer relationship builds between Maya and Hassan…..

This is a beautifully written insight into a turbulent time in Indian politics, with, at its heart, a tale of love and family.  Historical fiction that’s so interesting and emotion packed too. Stunning.

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

 

Book reviews, Historical fiction

The Unforgetting by Rose Black – Book Review

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PUBLISHERS BLURB 

A story of the trappings of fame, magic and the power of illusion in Victorian London.

Power, theatre and ghosts in a Victorian gothic historical, perfect for fans of The Silent Companions, The Night Circus and The Familiars.

When Lily Bell is sold by her father to a ‘Professor of Ghosts’ to settle a bad debt, she thinks she is about to hit the London stage as an actress. But little does she know that the professor intends her to be his very own ghost, part of an elaborate illusion for a fascinated audience.

Obsessed with perfection, the professor covers all bases to ensure his illusion is realistic – and when Lily comes across her own obituary in the paper, and then her own headstone in the cemetery, she soon realises that she is trapped, her parents think she is dead – and soon her fate is to become even darker…

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MY REVIEW 

Set in 1851 and Lily Bell believes she will be a famous actress in London, but then to settle a debt her parents sell her to Erasmus Salt. A stage magician obsessed with Lily.

Salt is planning an illusion and Lily is to be his very own ghost. But to make this believable, the world must believe Lily has died. So obituaries are written and Lily is kept hidden by Erasmus and his sister, Faye. Faye has now own demons to deal with due to events in her past. So a bond builds between them, but can these two strong women finally have lives of their own?

This is dark, gothic historical fiction at its best. A tale of obsession, control, illusion and mystery in the Victorian era. Beautifully written, chilling and haunting.

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/3041a23

 

 

ABOUT THE AUTHOR 

Rose Black has written stories all her life. Her long-standing fascination with the Victorians and 19th century England underlies this novel. An award-winning freelance writer, she’s covered health, overseas development and education. Married, with two children, she lives partly in London and at other times by the sea. In her spare time, she enjoys wild swimming and growing food and flowers on her allotment.

For publicity enquiries please contact Francesca.pearce@orionbooks.co.uk 

Book reviews, Historical fiction, Police procedural, Thriller

Stasi Winter by David Young – Book Review

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PUBLISHERS BLURB 

In 1978 East Germany, nothing is at it seems. The state’s power is absolute, history is re-written, and the ‘truth’ is whatever the Stasi say it is.

So when a woman’s murder is officially labelled ‘accidental death’, Major Karin Müller of the People’s Police is faced with a dilemma. To solve the crime, she must disregard the official version of events. But defying the Stasi means putting her own life – and the lives of her young family – in danger.

As the worst winter in living memory holds Germany in its freeze, Müller must untangle a web of state secrets and make a choice: between truth and lies, justice and injustice, and, ultimately, life and death.

Stunningly authentic and brimming with moral ambiguity, Stasi Winter is the thrilling new novel from the award-winning author of Stasi Child.

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MY REVIEW 

This is #5 in the series featuring Karin Müller, it can be read as a stand-alone but I feel you will be missing out on an amazing series.

Set in East Germany in 1979 and Karin Müller had retired but is brought back to work when a woman’s body is found. The state want this recorded as an accidental death, but Karin is determined to find the truth.

This is historical fiction at its best, a murder mystery, police procedural and politics. Full of adventure this is an immensely gripping read, so atmospheric you’ll feel the chill of winter.

Great characters and so much tension in a clever and engrossing plot to rival Robert Ludlum et al. 

Thank you to Tracy at Compulsive Readers for the opportunity to take part in this blog tour, for the promotional material and a free ecopy of the book. This is my honest and unbiased review.

 

ABOUT THE AUTHOR 

David Young was born near Hull and – after dropping out of a Bristol University science degree – studied Humanities at Bristol Polytechnic specialising in Modern History. Temporary jobs cleaning ferry toilets and driving a butcher’s van were followed by a career in journalism with provincial newspapers, a London news agency, and the BBC’s international newsrooms where he led news teams for the World Service radio and World TV.

David was a student on the inaugural Crime Thriller MA at City University – winning the course prize in 2014 for his debut novel Stasi Child – and now writes full-time in his garden shed. In his spare time, he’s a keen supporter of Hull City AFC.

Stasi Child is the first of three books in the Oberleutnant Karin Müller series – set in 1970s communist East Germany – bought by the UK arm of Swedish publisher Bonnier by former Quercus CEO Mark Smith. It reached the top 5 bestsellers on Amazon Kindle, was number one bestseller in Amazon’s Historical Fiction chart, and has been optioned for TV by Euston Films (Minder, The Sweeney etc). Translation rights have so far been sold to France.

 

Book reviews, Historical fiction

Pax by John Harvey – Book Review

PUBLISHERS BLURB 

When artist Stephen Bloodsmith creates a series of images inspired by Rubens’ trip to London in 1629, he enters a historical world of suspicion and intrigue. But will the manipulations he portrays in art spill over into the real world? When he practises deception inside his own marriage, falling in love with his model even as the romance of his wife Robyn unravels, the corrosive parallels between Bloodsmith’s and Rubens’ lives – the discovery of intimate secrets, the pain caused by desire and jealousy, the consequences of power and conflict – become hard to live with and impossible to ignore. 

Rubens believed he could make peace between the warring powers of Europe. To succeed he must win over Charles I of England, while in Paris ‘the Cardinal’ is working to frustrate him. Will nation cheat nation as people deceive one another in their personal lives? 

At once an intimate portrait of sexual pain in two centuries and a gripping depiction of international deal-making, Pax is a rich, compelling study of desire, power, art – and the search for private and public peace.

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MY REVIEW

Set over two timelines, that of Rubens in 1629 and Stephen Bloodsmith in the present day.

Bloodsmith is an artist who is inspired by Rubens art and researches his life and a trip he made to London. 

Bloodsmith has a wife and daughter, but becomes obsessed with his model, Mae.

This is the story of desire, not just sexual desire but the desire for power. There’s art, politics and lots of intrigue. Beautifully written, almost poetic and a marvellous piece of historical fiction.

However, I do have to mention the sex in this novel, unfortunately the language used lets this marvellous read down a little…..’marks of the lust-beast’ really? But don’t let that put you off, this really is an engrossing read for anyone who loves historical fiction.

Thank you to Robert at Holland House Books for the opportunity to read this for free. This is my honest and unbiased review.

 

ABOUT THE AUTHOR 

John Harvey (born 21 December 1938 in London) is a British author of crime fiction most famous for his series of jazz-influenced Charlie Resnick novels, based in the City of Nottingham. Harvey has also published over 90 books under various names, and has worked on scripts for TV and radio. He also ran Slow Dancer Press from 1977 to 1999 publishing poetry. The first Resnick novel, Lonely Hearts, was published in 1989, and was named by The Times as one of the 100 Greatest Crime Novels of the Century. Harvey brought the series to an end in 1998 with Last Rites, though Resnick has since made peripheral appearances in Harvey’s new Frank Elder series. The protagonist Elder is a retired detective who now lives, as Harvey briefly did, in Cornwall. The first novel in this series, Flesh and Blood, won Harvey the Crime Writers’ Association Silver Dagger in 2004, an accolade many crime fiction critics thought long overdue. In 2007 he was awarded the Diamond Dagger for a Lifetime’s Contribution to the genre. On 14th July 2009 he received an honorary degree (Doctor of Letters) from the University of Nottingham in recognition of his literary eminence and his associations with both the University and Nottingham (particularly in the Charlie Resnick novels). He is also a big Notts County fan. (Courtesy of Goodreads)

 

Book reviews, Classic Fiction, Cosy mystery, Historical fiction

Died And Gone To Devon by T.P Fielden – Book Review

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PUBLISHERS BLURB

X marks the spot for murder…

Temple Regis, 1959: Devon’s prettiest seaside resort is thrown into turmoil by the discovery of a body abandoned in the lighthouse.

It’s only weeks since another body was found in the library – and for the Riviera Express’s ace reporter-turned-sleuth Judy Dimont, there’s an added complication. Her friend Geraldine Phipps is begging her to re-investigate a mysterious death from many years before.

What’s more, Judy’s position as chief reporter is under threat when her editor takes on hot-shot journalist David Renishaw, whose work is just too good to be true.

Life is busier than ever for Devon’s most famous detective. Can Judy solve the two mysteries – and protect her position as Temple Regis’s best reporter – before the murderer strikes again.
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MY REVIEW

#4 in the Miss Dimont mystery series, but can easily be read as a stand-alone.

Set in the late 1950’s this is a murder mystery in a classic style.

Judy Dimont, wealthy, independent and a journalist with the Riviera Express newspaper.

In the seaside town of Temple Regis there has been a murder. As more bodies turn up Judy beings her investigation into murders past and present.

This has a marvellous cast of characters and the atmosphere of the post war years, all really brought to life by TP Fielden’s clever plot and wonderfully descriptive writing.

If you like a classic murder mystery in the vein of Josephine Tey or George Bellairs, you’ll love this.

Thank you to HQ for the opportunity to take part in this blog tour, for the promotional material and a free ecopy of the book. This is my honest and unbiased review.

 

Book reviews, Cosy mystery, Historical fiction, Police procedural

A Fatal Secret by Faith Martin – Book Review

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PUBLISHERS BLURB 

Oxford, 1961

A family day out at Briar’s Hall ends in tragedy when a young boy goes missing – and his body is found at the bottom of a disused well in the orchard.

It looks like a simple case of an eleven-year-old exploring where he shouldn’t: a tragic accident. But Coroner Clement Ryder and Probationary WPC Trudy Loveday aren’t convinced. If Eddie had been climbing and fallen, why were there no cuts or dirt on his hands? Why would a boy terrified of heights be around a well at all?

Clement and Trudy are determined to get to the truth, but the more they dig into Briar’s Hall and the mysterious de Lacey family who live there, the murkier things become.

Could it be that poor Eddie’s death was murder? There are rumours of blackmail in the village, and Clement and Trudy have a horrible feeling that Eddie stumbled on a secret that someone was willing to kill for…

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MY REVIEW 

This is #4 in the Ryder & Loveday series and it can easily be read as a stand-alone, but I feel you will be missing out if you haven’t read the other 3…

19 year old Trudy Loveday is a probationary police constable with the Oxford Police force. She works closely with the local coroner, Dr Clement Ryder, a retired surgeon and her friend.

Set I. 1961, Trudy has to deal with the general everyday sexism at work, she is seen as a girl just suited to the more menial tasks. However, Dr Ryder treats her as a person, someone with a quick mind and a definite asset during their investigations.

When a young boy, Eddie,  is found dead Dr Ryder is not so sure this is an accident and so the investigation begins.

This is a great series and I love how the friendship between Loveday and Ryder gets better with each book. Its part historical fiction as set in the 60’s and part police procedural and is thoroughly entertaining. 

Thank you to HQ for the opportunity to participate in this blog tour, for the promotional materials and a free copy of the book and this is my honest, unbiased review.

 

ABOUT THE AUTHOR 

 

Faith Martin is a pen name of English author Jacquie Walton, who is best known for her popular detective series, starring Detective Inspector Hillary Greene. 

 

As Joyce Cato, she writes more classically-inspired ‘cosy’ murder mysteries. As Maxine Barry, her latest romance novels are now available from Corazon Books. As Jessie Daniels, her ‘spooky’ crime novel, The Lavender Lady Casefile came out in November 2017, and now the Ryder and Loveday series. 

Book reviews, Historical fiction

The Pursuit Of William Abbey by Claire North – Book Review

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PUBLISHERS BLURB 

From the award-winning and bestselling author of The First Fifteen Lives of Harry August and 84K comes a powerful new novel that examines how the choices we make can haunt us forever . . .

South Africa, 1884. A young and naive English doctor by the name of William Abbey witnesses the lynching of a local boy by white colonists. He’s guilt-struck, but too cowardly to stand up against this horrific act. And as the child dies, his mother curses William.

William begins to understand when what the curse means when the shadow of the dead boy starts following him across the world. It never stops, never rests. It can cross oceans and mountains. And if it catches him, the person he loves most in the world will die . . .

Moving, thought-provoking and utterly gripping, Claire North’s extraordinary new novel proves again that she is one of the most original and innovative voices in modern fiction.

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MY REVIEW 

William Abbey witness the killing of a young child by a mob of white men in South Africa, he did nothing to help.

The child’s mother, after seeing her sons last breath curses William, the child’s shadow will follow him for the rest of his life…..if it catches up to him, someone he loves will die.

William starts travelling to keep ahead of the shadow, he can also hear people’s inner truthful thoughts and has no choice but to then speak them out loud. He’s now a truth-teller and as a result various governments really want to use his talent for their own ends at whatever cost. All the while William is being followed by the shadow.

This is a unique read, with brutal descriptions of the effects of war, the supernatural, fear, excitement and loss all in one harrowing and thought provoking tale. It will stay with me for a long time. 

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.

 

ABOUT THE AUTHOR 

 

Claire North is a pseudonym for Catherine Webb, a Carnegie Medal-nominated author whose debut novel was written when she was just fourteen years old. Her first book published under the Claire North pen name was The First Fifteen Lives of Harry August, which became a word-of-mouth bestseller and was shortlisted for the Arthur C. Clarke Award. The follow-up Touch received widespread critical acclaim and was described by the Independent as ‘little short of a masterpiece’. Her next novel The Sudden Appearance of Hope won the 2017 World Fantasy Award for Best Novel, and her recent book The End of the Day has been shortlisted for the 2017 Sunday Times/PFD Young Writer of the Year Award. She lives in London

 

Book reviews, Historical fiction, Noir

Return To Hiroshima by Bob Van Laerhoven – Book Review

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PUBLISHERS BLURB 

1995, Japan struggles with a severe economic crisis. Fate brings a number of people together in Hiroshima in a confrontation with dramatic consequences. Xavier Douterloigne, the son of a Belgian diplomat, returns to the city, where he spent his youth, to come to terms with the death of his sister. 

Inspector Takeda finds a deformed baby lying dead at the foot of the Peace Monument, a reminder of Hiroshima’s war history. A Yakuza-lord, rumored to be the incarnation of the Japanese demon Rokurobei, mercilessly defends his criminal empire against his daughter Mitsuko, whom he considers insane. And the punk author Reizo, obsessed by the ultra-nationalistic ideals of his literary idol Mishima, recoils at nothing to write the novel that will “overturn Japan’s foundations”….


Hiroshima’s indelible war-past simmers in the background of this ultra-noir novel. Clandestine experiments conducted by Japanese Secret Service Unit 731 during WWII become unveiled and leave a sinister stain on the reputation of the imperial family and the Japanese society as a whole.
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MY REVIEW

Set in Japan, many years after the horrific bombing of Hiroshima. This is historical fiction with a difference.

There are several plot lines running together, which at first may seem a little disjointed, but it all comes together in this incredibly dark tale.

Not only does it tell of the life and culture of Japan, it tells of a darker side. The side effects of the bombing are described in gruesome detail. There’s also murder, mystery, brutality, rape, torture and a lot of violence but also about family and relationships.

It’s so hard to put this into any specific genre as it really has a bit of everything. Beautifully written and almost poetic at times but it’s dark, very dark too.

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

available on Amazon at a discounted price at the moment too

 

 
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Book reviews, Historical fiction

The Photographer Of The Lost by Caroline Scott – Book Review

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PUBLISHERS BLURB 

Until she knows her husband’s fate, she cannot decide her own…

An epic novel of forbidden love, loss, and the shattered hearts left behind in the wake of World War I1921. 

Families are desperately trying to piece together the fragments of their broken lives. While many survivors of the Great War have been reunited with their loved ones, Edie’s husband Francis has not come home. He is considered ‘missing in action’, but when Edie receives a mysterious photograph taken by Francis in the post, hope flares. And so she beings to search.

Harry, Francis’s brother, fought alongside him. He too longs for Francis to be alive, so they can forgive each other for the last things they ever said. Both brothers shared a love of photography and it is that which brings Harry back to the Western Front. Hired by grieving families to photograph gravesites, as he travels through battle-scarred France gathering news for British wives and mothers, Harry also searches for evidence of his brother.

And as Harry and Edie’s paths converge, they get closer to a startling truth.

An incredibly moving account of an often-forgotten moment in history, The Photographer of the Lost tells the story of the thousands of soldiers who were lost amid the chaos and ruins, and the even greater number of men and women desperate to find them again.

Every photograph has a story, every story needs an ending

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MY REVIEW 

Set in 1921, the Great War is over, but with so many men missing their families are in a kind of limbo, not knowing if they’re, sons, brothers or husbands are alive or dead.

Edie’s husband, Francis is reported missing …could he still be alive somewhere?

Francis’ brother, Harry is a photographer, himself suffering PTSD after his own experiences during the war. He takes photos of soldiers graves, to send back to families to give them a form of closure.

When Edie searches for Francis, she meets Harry and together they try to find answers.

This is a beautifully written, incredibly moving tale of love, loss and hope. How the effects of war don’t end just because the fighting has stopped.

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/36Fh1Y3

 

ABOUT THE AUTHOR 

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Caroline completed a PhD in History at the University of Durham. She developed a particular interest in the impact of the First World War on the landscape of Belgium and France, and in the experience of women during the conflict – fascinations that she was able to pursue while she spent several years working as a researcher for a Belgian company. Caroline is originally from Lancashire, but now lives in southwest France. 

Book reviews, Historical fiction

The Lady Of The Ravens by Joanna Hickson – Book Review


PUBLISHERS BLURB 

Praise for Joanna Hickson: ‘Bewitching . . . alive with historical detail’ Good Housekeeping ‘Intriguing . . . told with confidence’ The Times Two women, two very different destinies, drawn together in the shadow of the Tower of London:

Elizabeth of York, her life already tainted by dishonour and tragedy, now queen to the first Tudor king, Henry the VII.

Joan Vaux, servant of the court, straining against marriage and motherhood and privy to the deepest and darkest secrets of her queen. Like the ravens, Joan must use her eyes and her senses, as conspiracy whispers through the dark corridors of the Tower.

Through Joan’s eyes, The Lady of the Ravens inhabits the squalid streets of Tudor London, the whispering walls of its most fearsome fortress and the glamorous court of a kingdom in crisis.

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MY REVIEW 

Lady Of The Ravens is historical fiction set during the Tudor age.

Joan is part of the Royal household of York, she is the Lady Of The Ravens. She cares for and protects the famous ravens.

This is a tale of royal politics, life at court, intrigue and the way of life at the time. Historical fiction at its best.

Thank you to the publishers, the author and NetGalley for the opportunity to read this for free. This is my honest and unbiased review.

 

ABOUT THE AUTHOR 

Joanna Hickson became fascinated with history when she studied Shakespeare’s history plays at school. However, having taken a degree in Politics and English she took up a career in broadcast journalism with the BBC, presenting and producing news, current affairs and arts programmes on both television and radio. 

Now she writes full time and has a contract with Harper Collins for three historical novels. The Agincourt Bride is the first. She lives in Scotland in a 200 year old farmhouse and is married with a large extended family and a wayward Irish terrier.

Joanna likes people to join her on Twitter (@joannahickson) or Facebook (Joanna Hickson)and says if you can’t find her she’ll be in the fifteenth century! (Courtesy of Goodreads). 

Book reviews, Cosy mystery, Historical fiction

A House Of Ghosts by W.C. Ryan – Book Review. @WilliamRyan @ZaffreBooks @Tr4cyF3nt0n #AHouseOfGhosts

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PUBLISHERS BLURB 

Almost unbearably creepy and beautifully written’

Liz Nugent, bestselling author of Unravelling Oliver and Lying in Wait

 

Winter 1917. As the First World War enters its most brutal phase, back home in England, everyone is seeking answers to the darkness that has seeped into their lives. 

At Blackwater Abbey, on an island off the Devon coast, Lord Highmount has arranged a spiritualist gathering to contact his two sons who were lost in the conflict. But as his guests begin to arrive, it gradually becomes clear that each has something they would rather keep hidden. Then, when a storm descends on the island, the guests will find themselves trapped. Soon one of their number will die.

For Blackwater Abbey is haunted in more ways than one . . .

A gripping and atmospheric mystery packed with twists and turns,

A House of Ghosts is the perfect chilling read.

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MY REVIEW 

A House Of Ghosts is set during WW1 in 1917.

Kate Cartwright and Captain Donovan are called to ‘C’s office at the Secret Intelligence Service. They do not know each other, but they are both sent to Blackwater Abbey, an offer Kate had previously declined.

Lord and Lady Highmount are playing host to a gathering, a seance, to try to contact their sons, lost at war. However, ‘C’ suspects someone at the gathering is passing military secrets to the enemy…..so Kate and Donovan are tasked with finding out who.

Now, Kate herself can see spirits and there are plenty roaming Blackwater. Are the seances real ? Or is there a charlatan at work? As Kate and Donovan grow closer, the danger increases…will they find the culprit before anyone is hurt?

This is a mix of historical fiction, an Agatha Christie style whodunnit, spies and a supernatural tale of ghosts roaming the earth,  all seamlessly put together due to the clever, atmospheric writing of W.C. Ryan. A haunted house story perfect for a Halloween read.

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.

 

You can buy a copy here 

 

https://amzn.to/30FwKlC

 

 

About the author:

 W.C. Ryan is a pseudonym for William Ryan, author of The Constant Soldier and the Korolev series of historical crime novels. His books have been shortlisted for numerous awards including the Theakston Crime Novel of the Year Award, the CWA Historical Dagger and the Ireland AM Irish Crime Novel of the Year Award and have been translated into over a dozen languages. William is married and lives in west London.

 

 

Book reviews, Historical fiction

The Familiars by Stacey Halls – Book Review

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PUBLISHERS BLURB 

Fleetwood Shuttleworth is 17 years old, married, and pregnant for the fourth time. But as the mistress at Gawthorpe Hall, she still has no living child, and her husband Richard is anxious for an heir. When Fleetwood finds a letter she isn¹t supposed to read from the doctor who delivered her third stillbirth, she is dealt the crushing blow that she will not survive another pregnancy.

When she crosses paths by chance with Alice Gray, a young midwife, Alice promises to help her give birth to a healthy baby, and to prove the physician wrong. 

When Alice is drawn into the witchcraft accusations that are sweeping the North-West, Fleetwood risks everything by trying to help her. But is there more to Alice than meets the eye? 

As the two women’s lives become inextricably bound together, the legendary trial at Lancaster approaches, and Fleetwood¹s stomach continues to grow. Time is running out, and both their lives are at stake. 

Only they know the truth. Only they can save each other.

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MY REVIEW 

The Familiars is Stacey Halls first novel and I am very impressed with the beautiful, descriptive writing, which makes it very easy to get lost in its intriguing plot. 

Fleetwood Shuttleworth is 17 years old, married to Richard and is pregnant for a 4th time. She is an independent woman, who likes to ride and joins her husband on hunts, against the expected norms of the time. 

Fleetwood meets a young local woman on one of her rides, Alice Grey. She is a midwife and healer, which according to the time makes her a witch and as this is set near Pendle Hill there is a lot of local legends about witches here. The witch trials are part of the story, but more as a constant threat rather than the tale itself.

There are no spells or creepy rituals just kind, helpful wise women who use herbal remedies to cure simple ailments and act as midwives. There are mentions of witches familiars and dark magic, but it’s not really a part of this story. I felt it is more about the relationship between Fleetwood and Alice and how women struggled so much in life where the patriarchy was so strong, yet strong women still managed to make themselves heard. This is compelling, captivating historical fiction, with strong likeable female characters and a large Mastiff dog. I loved it and can highly recommend it.

Thank you to Tracy at CompulsIve Readers for the opportunity to take part in this blog tour. I first read this via NetGalley, so this is a repost of my original review.

 

ABOUT THE AUTHOR 

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Stacey Halls grew up in Rossendale, Lancashire, as the daughter of market traders. She has always been fascinated by the Pendle witches. She studied journalism at the University of Central Lancashire and moved to London aged 21. She was media editor at The Bookseller and books editor at Stylist.co.uk, and has also worked as a journalist for Psychologies, the Independent and Fabulous magazine. TV rights have been sold to The Bureau production company.

The Familiars is her first novel and her second, The Foundling, is coming Feb 2020.  Say hello @Stacey_Halls on Twitter and @StaceyHallsAuthor on Instagram.

Themes include women and power, social history of witches. Stacey has done huge amounts of research and can speak eloquently on Gawthorpe Manor and her real life heroine Fleetwood

 

Book reviews, Historical fiction

Blood In The Dust by Bill Swiggs – Book Review

PUBLISHERS BLURB 

Essential reading for all adventure fans. Honour and courage in the wild and unpredictable Outback.’ Wilbur Smith

1853, Victoria, Australia. Five bushrangers led by the murderous outlaw Warrigal Anderson raid a small homestead. When they ride away, nineteen year- old Toby O’Rourke’s life is changed forever. His parents lay dead at his feet and his brother, Patrick, is badly wounded. But Toby O’Rourke is made of steel forged in the hardship of colonial life. Forced into adulthood, he and Patrick will seek to restore the family fortunes and outwit not only the rich businessman who conspired to rob them of their birth right, but the vicious men who murdered their parents . . . For readers of Wilbur Smith, Jeffrey Archer and Bryce Courtenay, as fast-paced adventure story and the winner of the best unpublished manuscript category of the Wilbur Smith Adventure Writing Prize.

The winner of the 2018 best unpublished manuscript category of the Wilbur Smith Adventure Writing Prize.

A fast-paced adventure novel set in the Australian outback.

For readers of Wilbur Smith, Jeffrey Archer and Bryce Courtenay.
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MY REVIEW 

Set during Australia’s gold rush, this is the story of Toby O’Rourke.

Toby and his younger brother, Paddy see their parents murdered…leaving them to struggle in this harsh world alone…they are then conned by a neighbour and lose their home…..now Toby vows his revenge….

There are many adventures, setbacks and even a romance for Toby but he’s a young man, so how is he going to get his revenge…

This is an easy read, due to Bill Swiggs writing style, a simple story brilliantly told. A real boys own, ripping yarn….excellent stuff.

Thank you to The Author, the publishers and NetGalley for the opportunity to read this eARC. This is my honest and unbiased review.

 

 

Author Biography

Bill Swiggs was born in Victoria and brought up in Western Australia, where he still lives. He joined the Royal Australian Air Force as an aviation firefighter before becoming a police officer, and now works as a firefighter for a defence

contractor. Bill divides his time between working, writing, flying and his grandchildren.

Book reviews, Fantasy, Historical fiction, Thriller

Nexus by Alison Morton – Book Review

PUBLISHERS BLURB 

Mid 1970s. Ex-Praetorian Aurelia Mitela is serving as Roma Nova’s interim ambassador in London. Asked by a British colleague to find his missing son, Aurelia thinks it will only be a case of a young man temporarily rebelling. He’s bound to turn up only a little worse for wear.

But a spate of high-level killings pulls Aurelia away into a dangerous pan-European investigation. Badly beaten in Rome as a warning, she discovers the killers have kidnapped her life companion, Miklós, and sent an ultimatum: Back off or he’ll die.

But Aurelia is a Roma Novan and they never give up…

Set between AURELIA and INSURRECTIO in the Aurelia Mitela Roma Nova adventures.

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MY REVIEW 

Set in an alternate world, where the Roman society still exists….with powerful women in charge.

Aurelia, Countess Mitela is in London for a while as an ambassador, when Harry Carter the Assistant Secretary General to the British Foreign Ministry asks her for a favour. His son, Tom, has gone missing again so could she help find him.

She is recalled suddenly due to murders of important men in Europe, but Miklós is staying behind to search for Tom….

At the same time, Her daughter, Marina is being bullied by a girl at school……Linda Casely……sister to John Casely a violent criminal…

Aurelia has compassion but she is also strong and principled, as an ex-soldier she takes no nonsense and will uphold law and order at all costs. 

Will she be able to find Tom? What is the link to John Casely? 

This may be a relatively short novella, but there is no lack of substance to this tension packed thriller with great characters and twisty story. Nice to catch up with Aurelia and Marina is growing up to be just as feisty. Brilliant.

Thank you to Alison Morton, The Author for the opportunity to read this for free. This is my honest and unbiased review.

you can buy a copy here 

https://amzn.to/31vwPJI

 

ABOUT THE AUTHOR 

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Even before she pulled on her first set of combats, Alison Morton was fascinated by the idea of women soldiers. After six years in a special communications regiment, she left as a captain, having done all sorts of interesting and exciting things she can’t talk about, even now…

The mosaics at Ampurias (Spain) and their creation by the complex, power and value-driven Roman civilisation made her wonder what a modern Roman society would be like if run by strong women. 

Now, she writes Roman-themed alternate history thrillers with tough heroines, tends a Roman herb garden and drinks wine with her husband.(Courtesy of Goodreads)

 

Book reviews, Classic Fiction, Crime thriller, Historical fiction

The Merchant Of Menace by Richard T. Ryan – Book Review

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PUBLISHERS BLURB 

Reluctantly, Sherlock Holmes agrees to assist Inspector Lestrade who is being hounded by an obnoxious nobleman whose jewel-encrusted dagger has gone missing. However, what Holmes initially believes to be a simple theft turns out instead to be his first encounter with a master criminal, who is as ruthless as he is brilliant, and whom Watson dubs “The Merchant of Menace.”

Soon Holmes finds himself matching wits with a man who will steal anything – if the price is right. Moreover, this thief will go to any lengths, including blackmail and murder, to achieve his desired goal.

As Holmes comes to understand his adversary, he also begins to realize he can only react to the Merchant because he has no idea where this criminal mastermind will strike next. All Holmes knows for certain is the Merchant seems to specialize in priceless, one-of-a-kind articles. Will that be enough information for the Great Detective to outwit his foe?

From the British Museum to the Louvre to Blenheim Palace, Holmes finds himself in a deadly game of cat-and-mouse. Set against the backdrop of early Edwardian England, the Great Detective and his Boswell encounter an array of luminaries from the Duke and Duchess of Marlborough to a young Winston Churchill.

For fans of Conan Doyle’s immortal detective, the game is always afoot. However, this time around Holmes must try to bring to justice a villain who might well be the next Napoleon of Crime.

 

Richard T. Ryan’s Sherlock Holmes Adventures Series:

#1 The Vatican Cameos ​​bit.ly/VaticanCameos-RTR

#2 The Stone of Destiny ​​bit.ly/StoneofDestiny

#3 The Druid of Death​​bit.ly/DruidofDeath 

#4 The Merchant of Menace ​bit.ly/MerchantofMenace

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MY REVIEW 

Someone has stolen a jewelled dagger, a jambiya, from the home of Lord Thornton. A suspect is arrested but then released without charge, and at a loss, Inspector Lestrade approaches Sherlock Holmes for help…..

There have been other robberies with similarities and this appeals to Holmes and the investigation begins…

I have read many of Conan Doyle’s Adventures of Sherlock Holmes and this is a worthy addition to the canon. It has the same cadence to the language and many of Holmes quirks and characteristics, even his tobacco in a Persian slipper and his penchant for disguise.

Some light humour, historical references and a worthy adversary for Holmes, and of course, his friend Dr Watson. 

So well written and a joy to read a new addition to the Sherlock Holmes library…..brilliantly entertaining.

Thank you to Caroline Vincent and Bits about Books for the opportunity to participate in this blog tour and for the promotional materials and a free copy of the ebook  in exchange for my honest, unbiased review.

You can buy a copy here 

https://amzn.to/32PJ3wT

 

ABOUT THE AUTHOR 

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Rich Ryan

A lifelong Sherlockian, Richard Ryan is the author of “The Official Sherlock Holmes Trivia Book” as well as a book on Agatha Christie trivia, and his series, the Sherlock Holmes Adventures, now consisting of four books, all available from MX Publishing, London.

Richard Ryan obtained his master’s degree from the University of Notre Dame, where he majored in medieval literature; he is a die-hard fan of the Fighting Irish — it doesn’t matter what sport. He has been happily married for 40 years and is the proud father of two children.

 

Author Links

Twitter: @RicRyan52

Amazon: author.to/RichardTRyan

GoodReads: http://bit.ly/RichardTRyan-GR

Book reviews, Historical fiction, Thriller

A Shadow On The Lens by Sam Hurcom – Book Review

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PUBLISHERS BLURB 

The Postmaster looked over my shoulder. As I turned to look I saw a flicker of movement from across the street. I felt unseen eyes peer at me.

He walked away without another word. I watched as he climbed onto his bicycle and sped away down the street. I turned back and looked over my shoulder.

Someone had been watching us.

  1. Thomas Bexley, one of the first forensic photographers, is called to the sleepy and remote Welsh village of Dinas Powys, several miles down the coast from the thriving port of Cardiff. A young girl by the name of Betsan Tilny has been found murdered in the woodland – her body bound and horribly burnt. But the crime scene appears to have been staged, and worse still: the locals are reluctant to help.

As the strange case unfolds, Thomas senses a growing presence watching him, and try as he may, the villagers seem intent on keeping their secret. Then one night, in the grip of a fever, he develops the photographic plates from the crime scene in a makeshift darkroom in the cellar of his lodgings. There, he finds a face dimly visible in the photographs; a face hovering around the body of the dead girl – the face of Betsan Tilny.

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MY REVIEW 

Betsan Tilney has been murdered and her body burnt. Due to the local villagers superstitions, her body is being kept in an abandoned church. They feel the Death is the result of the demon, Calon Fawr.

Thomas Bexley, a forensic photographer is sent to document the evidence, but he is unwell with a fever and starts to see things …including a shape over the body in one of his photographs …or is it just a flaw?

He visits Bethan’s mother and while unwell he is certain she told him, “Do not look for her with your eyes”….

Will Thomas find the killer, or is there something even darker walking in the village?

This is a creepy, gothic supernatural mystery in the vein of Poe and Lovecraft, there are even rats scratching in the ceiling….if like a historical, supernatural mystery then you’ll love this.

Thank you to Tracy and Compulsive Readers 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.
You can buy a copy here

https://amzn.to/2AjpWiL

 

ABOUT THE AUTHOR 

Sam Hurcom was born in Dinas Powys, South Wales in 1991. He studied Philosophy at Cardiff University, attaining both an undergraduate and master’s degree. He has since had several short stories published, and has written and illustrated a number of children’s books. Sam currently lives in the village he was raised in, close to the woodlands that have always inspired his writing. 

 

A SHADOW ON THE LENS is Sam’s debut novel.

(Courtesy of Goodreads)

Book reviews, Historical fiction

The Secrets We Kept by Lara Prescott – Book Review #TheSecretsWeKept

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PUBLISHERS BLURB

TWO FEMALE SPIES. A BANNED MASTERPIECE. A BOOK THAT CHANGED HISTORY.

  1. A celebrated Russian author is writing a book, Doctor Zhivago, which could spark dissent in the Soviet Union. The Soviets, afraid of its subversive power, ban it.

But in the rest of the world it’s fast becoming a sensation. 

In Washington DC, the CIA is planning to use the book to tip the Cold War in its favour.

Their agents are not the usual spies, however. Two typists – the charming, experienced Sally and the talented novice Irina – are charged with the mission of a lifetime: to smuggle Doctor Zhivago back into Russia by any means necessary.

It will not be easy. There are people prepared to die for this book – and agents willing to kill for it. But they cannot fail – as this book has the power to change history.

Sold in twenty-five countries and poised to become a global literary sensation, Lara Prescott’s dazzling first novel is a sweeping page turner and the most hotly anticipated debut of the year.
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MY REVIEW 

Based on the real person, Boris Pasternak, this is a possible story of how the famous novel, Dr Zhivago was smuggled out of the Soviet Union.

The CIA believed this to be an anti USSR novel and would be great propaganda.

Set in the 1950’s during the Cold War, this tells of Boris and his muse and lover, Olga. She is arrested and kept captive while the authorities want the details of Boris’ book. It tells the truth of the Russian Revolution and so is deemed subversive…

Part love story and part spy novel, with women taking a major part in the story, as the typing pool, women who were masters at getting information from various sources, mainly gullible men!

Also sometimes completing simple letter drops and at others more dangerous missions. These characters, Olga, Irina and Sally were my favourites and show you underestimate women at your peril!

Amazingly immersive writing by Lara Prescott, a real time thief of a novel. Brilliant historical fiction and a must read.

Thank you to Anne Cater and Random Things Tours for the opportunity to participate in this blog tour and 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/2ZUybkk

ABOUT THE AUTHOR: 

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Lara Prescott was named after the heroine of Doctor Zhivagoand first discovered the true story behind the novel after the CIA declassified 99 documents pertaining to its role in the book’s publication and covert dissemination.

She travelled the world – from Moscow and Washington, to London and Paris – in the course of her research, becoming particularly interested in political repression in both the Soviet Union and United States and how, during the Cold War, both countries used literature as a weapon.

Lara earned her MFA from the Michener Center for Writers. She lives in Austin, Texas with her husband.

 

Website : http://www.laraprescott.com/

 

Twitter : @laraprescott