Book reviews, Noir, Thriller

Pine by Francine Toon – Book Review

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PUBLISHERS BLURB 

They are driving home from the search party when they see her. The trees are coarse and tall in the winter light, standing like men.

Lauren and her father Niall live alone in the Highlands, in a small village surrounded by pine forest. When a woman stumbles out onto the road one Halloween night, Niall drives her back to their house in his pickup. In the morning, she’s gone.

In a community where daughters rebel, men quietly rage, and drinking is a means of forgetting, mysteries like these are not out of the ordinary. The trapper found hanging with the dead animals for two weeks. Locked doors and stone circles. The disappearance of Lauren’s mother a decade ago.

Lauren looks for answers in her tarot cards, hoping she might one day be able to read her father’s turbulent mind. Neighbours know more than they let on, but when local teenager Ann-Marie goes missing it’s no longer clear who she can trust.

In the shadow of the Highland forest, Francine Toon captures the wildness of rural childhood and the intensity of small-town claustrophobia. In a place that can feel like the edge of the word, she unites the chill of the modern gothic with the pulse of a thriller. It is the perfect novel for our haunted times.

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MY REVIEW 

Lauren and her father, Niall, live in a secluded area of the Scottish highlands. Her mother had disappeared years before when Lauren was a baby. 

One night, after a trip to the village for Halloween they come across a young woman in the road. Naked except for a dressing gown, Niall takes the silent woman back to their home to help, but by morning she has disappeared.

Then young Ann-Marie goes missing…..is there a link between the two women? Is the same person responsible?

What follows is a moody, creepy thriller with a slightly mystical, supernatural edge. With Lauren, nearly 11 years old, who has an interest in tarot and spells, her father’s grief and heavy drinking and the oppressive, almost claustrophobic atmosphere of the woods, this is a tale of loss, grief and a small community. A gripping, goosebumpy 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.

 

You can buy a copy here: https://amzn.to/2NpewB5
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Book reviews, LGBTQ, Noir

Bella by R.M Francis – Book Review


PUBLISHERS BLURB 

Bella is his debut novel and a love song to the Black Country.

It is a text that deals with queer identity and experience, specifically in a non-metropolitan setting, showcasing the upheaval and difficulties facing the working-classes of post-industrial communities.

The novel plays with oral traditions of storytelling, using Black Country dialects and the different voices of multicultural Britain. It is also a novel that fuses different genre tropes. It is set in Dudley and follows several characters from different eras, attempting to understand the strange pull the local woods have. This rhizomatic, multi-perspective narrative is part ghost story, part social realism, part queer erotica.

 

BELLA is due to be published in Spring 2020.  
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MY REVIEW 

This is quite a difficult book to review as it doesn’t really fit into one particular genre. But what it is, is unique.

Written from the perspectives of many characters, all of which have their own way of speaking, so it’s really like having a bit of a chat. It’s genius storytelling using the dialect and accents of the characters, and while it took me a little while to get into the swing of the language, it really brings it to life. I could almost hear the brummie  accent. 

It has an honesty about it, a love for people and their stories, from local history, spooky tales and love in all its forms. An homage to the Black Country and those who call the area home. A short tale, but thoughtful and thoroughly engaging.

Thank you to Kelly at Love Books 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.

 

You can pre order a copy here (due Feb 6th 2020): https://amzn.to/36L8CSi

 

ABOUT THE AUTHOR 

R.M. Francis is a writer from Dudley. He completed his PhD at the University of Wolverhampton for a project titled Queering the Black Country and graduated from Teesside University for his Creative Writing MA. 

He’s the author of four poetry chapbooks, Transitions (The Black Light Engine Room Press, 2015), Orpheus (Lapwing Publications, 2016), Corvus’ Burnt-Wing Love Balm and Cure-All (The Black Light Engine Room Press, 2018) and Lamella, (Original Plus, 2019).

 

Follow Rob on Twitter @rmfrancis

 

 

 

Book reviews, Crime thriller, Noir, Police procedural, Thriller

When The Dead Come Calling by Helen Sedgwick – Book Review

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PUBLISHERS BLURB 

Published by Point Blank 9 January 2020 Hardback £14.99

‘When The Dead Come Calling confirms what many of us already knew: Helen Sedgwick is one of Scotland’s finest contemporary storytellers.’ CLAIRE ASKEW, author of All the Hidden Truths

‘By combining up-to-the-minute themes, well-tuned dialogue and warm and witty details of everyday life with a deep, impressionistic sense of dread, Sedgwick produces a mystery as addictive as it is anxiety-inducing.’ MOLLY FLATT, author of The Charmed Life of Alex Moore

A murder investigation unearths the brutal history of a village where long buried secrets threaten a small community

When psychotherapist Alexis Cosse is found murdered in the playground of the sleepy northern village of Burrowhead, the local police force set out to investigate. It’s not long before they uncover a maelstrom of racism, misogyny and homophobia.

But there’s worse to come. Shaken by the revelations and beginning to doubt her relationship with her husband Fergus, DI Georgie Strachan soon realizes that something very bad is lurking just below the surface. Meanwhile someone – or something – is hiding in the strange, haunted cave beneath the cliffs.

When The Dead Come Calling is a tense, atmospheric thriller which grips to the very last page.

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MY REVIEW 

When the publishers say this is atmospheric, believe me they are not kidding.

Set in a small village community, a body is found at a children’s playground. Dr Alexis Cosse, a psychotherapist, has been stabbed and left for dead. But who would kill him in such a small community?

Georgie is a police officer and with her colleagues Trish and Simon, they try to find out what happened. But, Simon was in love with Alexis, so there is a conflict here.

It seems everyone in this community has something to hide, a brutal father that beats his son, racist attacks on Pami, the local storekeeper, homophobia and now murder.

There are chapters told from the perspective of someone or something in a cave too, which give this a creepy feel. From the very start there’s a feeling of oppression, as though there’s someone watching just out of sight. Does someone know about the murders or will the community protect itself and keep it’s dark secrets hidden??

Great characters, beautifully descriptive and a truly menacing, almost stifling atmosphere, utterly compelling.

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/2RdFg8I

 

ABOUT THE AUTHOR 

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HELEN SEDGWICK is the author of The Comet Seekers, selected as a best book of 2016 by the Herald, and The Growing Season, shortlisted for the Saltire Society Fiction Book of the Year in 2018. She has an MLitt in Creative Writing from Glasgow University and won a Scottish Book Trust New Writers Award. Before she became an author, she was a research physicist with a PhD in Physics from Edinburgh University. She now lives and writes in the Scottish Highlands.

http://www.helensedgwick.com/ @helensedgwick @PtBlankBks

Book reviews, Cosy mystery, LGBTQ, Noir

Smalltown Boy by T.S. Hunter – Book Review


PUBLISHERS BLURB 

It’s Christmas Eve, 1988 and Russell and Joe are among the guests at a lavish party in a celebrity mansion in the heart of Soho.

Television presenter and national treasure, Nathan Bentley has a formidable reputation for legendary parties—with wall-to-wall celebrities, drink flowing, drugs, dancing, ill-tempered Cordon-Bleu chefs laying on the food and world famous musicians providing the entertainment. What could be better for a bunch of waifs and strays on Christmas Eve?

But when a body is found in the courtyard garden before the dessert has been served, questions begin to fly. Did he fall or was he pushed? And who of the many guests and hangers-on had either the means or motive for murder?

Hidden pasts and present jealousies all threaten to destroy a life carefully built in this festive crime caper set in the heart of London’s Soho. 
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MY REVIEW 

This is the final episode in the Soho Noir series by T.S. Hunter, oh and what a finale!

It’s Christmas, Joe and Russell have been invited to the flamboyant TV personality’s party. Reluctantly they go, taking their respective partners, Mike and Freddy along but then a body is found and the adventure begins. 

With a fabulous cast of characters including my favourite, Patty, there’s much mayhem and drama as ever. Then the reprehensible Skinner arrives…..will he finally get his comeuppance?

While this is a short novella, it packs a lot of story in. There’s the 80’s music references and little mentions of the events of the time too, which all build the atmosphere perfectly of 80’s London. Joe and Russell happy in their relationships too make this a wonderful ending to a thoroughly entertaining series

I have read the whole series now and am bereft it’s over…..I’ll just have to read them all again….

Thank you to Dylan at Red Dog Press for the opportunity to read this for free. This is my honest and unbiased review.

 

You can buy a copy here: https://amzn.to/35mcZBL

 

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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