#blogtour – #TheSecretsofStrangers by @CharityNorman1 #RandomThingsTours

Absolutely delighted to be on the blog tour today for ‘The Secrets of Strangers’, with thanks to Allen & Unwin Publishers, Anne Cater #RandomThingsTours and to Charity Norman for the moving story. See below for the book blurb and some bookish chat. Thank you for reading!

A regular weekday morning veers drastically off-course for five strangers whose paths cross in a London café – their lives never to be the same again when an apparently crazed gunman holds them hostage.

But there is more to the situation than first meets the eye and as the captives grapple with their own inner demons, the line between right and wrong starts to blur. Will the secrets they keep stop them from escaping with their lives?

My thoughts

Firstly, this is, for me, a five star read; it’s a deeply moving story of a group of people who find themselves in an appalling situation, and not of their own making. It’s a story of humanity and inhumanity told through a carefully constructed slow reveal narrative that pulls on so many emotions for the reader to work through. There are incredibly moving human stories here, both distressing and soul reaching, I genuinely had to stop reading and take a deep breath at times.

The injustices this book covers are truly heart-wrenching, but Norman controls and balances the prose so beautifully, it’s actually tears of joy and hope that fall as the story ends despite the tragedy.

Yes, this is a story of a hostage situation on the surface, but the actual depth in the story is really important, and as we are introduced to the lives of those caught up in the drama, we learn about ourselves and the world we live in too. I enjoyed all the players in this tense drama, from the gunman and the hostage negotiator to the eclectic mix of people who find themselves hostages in a heart-pounding situation, oh, and of course, the dog!

Profoundly moving, absolutely unexpected and deeply memorable. I have no hesitation recommending this book for readers.

The Author

Charity Norman

Charity Norman was born in Uganda and brought up in successive draughty vicarages in Yorkshire and Birmingham. After several years’ travel she became a barrister, specialising in crime and family law. In 2002, realising that her three children had barely met her, she took a break from the law and moved with her family to New Zealand. THE SECRETS OF STRANGERS is her sixth novel.

#BlogTour #TheCurator @MWCravenUK @LittleBrownUK @TheCrimeVault @BethWright26

With thanks to Beth for the tour invite. This is the third book in the Washington Poe crime thriller series, and to find out more do keep reading…

And nothing will ever be the same again . . .

The Blurb

A serial killer is leaving displayed body parts all over Cumbria.
A strange message is left at each scene: #BSC6

Called in to investigate, the National Crime Agency’s Washington Poe and Tilly Bradshaw are faced with a case that makes no sense. Why were some victims anaesthetised, while others died in appalling agony? Why is their only suspect denying what they can irrefutably prove but admitting to things they weren’t even aware of? And why did the victims all take the same two weeks off work three years earlier? And when a disgraced FBI agent gets in touch things take an even darker turn. Because she doesn’t think Poe is dealing with a serial killer at all; she thinks he’s dealing with someone far, far worse – a man who calls himself the Curator.
And nothing will ever be the same again . . .

My Thoughts

Don’t you just love that moment when a new book arrives from one of your favourite series; it’s like meeting up with old, and missed, friends. M. W. Craven’s Washington Poe and Tilly Bradshaw series is one of those books, and ‘The Curator’ is the latest adventure into the crime thriller world, and what a crime fighting team! The SCAS (Serious Crime Analysis Section) are back and headed by D.I Stephanie Flynn, who is now heavily pregnant. Poe and Bradshaw are soon working with her again on an unusual and macabre case. All the books work easily as stand-alone, so don’t hesitate to pick up this book if you’re new to the series.

‘The Curator’ – I love the title – is a tightly plotted and tense puzzle, where a series of crimes is being orchestrated from the shadows. It’s up to Poe and Bradshaw to unravel the threads of some rather gruesome crimes and capture the villain. For me, the highlight of these books are the characters and their interplay, there are lovely personal relationships continuing to develop, and an intense dedication to hunting down the culprits. I loved the plot in this book; the idea of a ‘Curator’ controlling the ‘players’ was fun to watch develop.

A twisty, puzzling and satisfying read, placing Craven’s cerebral dexterity firmly in centre stage position. Disturbingly dark, sharply plotted with a dash of panache!

A highly recommended read: I can’t wait to see what Craven comes up with next!

#blogtour #TheGlassHouse @EvePollyChase @MichaelJBooks @GabyYoung

I am thrilled to join the blog tour for Eve Chase’s novel, ‘The Glass House’, with huge thanks to Gaby for the invite. This is my first book by Eve Chase, and if her others are anything like this, then I’ve been seriously missing out. See below for the book blurb and more bookish chat about ‘The Glass House’, and… wow what a stunning cover design – who could leave this behind in a book shop!

The truth will shatter everything…

A remote manor house.

An idyllic wood

An abandoned baby.

A shocking discovery deep in the forest.

One summer will change a family’s life for ever.

Step through the door of Foxcote Manor, and discover its darkest secrets.

My thoughts

I read this book on a beautiful summer’s day in my garden: the perfect setting and time to read this absolutely absorbing story of events at Foxcote Manor one summer, and, for me, at the heart of the story is a woman known by those close to her as ‘Big Rita’.

There are three central voices in this book and an alternating time frame of 1971 and the present day. It’s a female story told via the voices of Rita, Sylvie and Hera. I am a sucker for a remote household setting; here we have the rather neglected and solitary Foxcote Manor, a ‘wreaked beauty’ of a house, with ‘mullioned windows’ that ‘blink drunkenly’ and set within a sprawling natural forest. The house is cocooned by the woodlands and provides an isolated setting for the central story to play-out.

This is a story of secrets, and I loved the slow unfolding of the mystery. What I loved the most is the character of Big Rita (named because of her height) and her self-sacrifice and sense of duty for the family she works for. Rita is hired by the Harrington family to look after their children, five year old Teddy, twelve year old Hera and the new baby on its way. I loved Rita’s character, her determination, compassion and dedication to the family she works for and her resilience in protecting and nurturing them. Set alongside this early part of Rita’s story is the present day narrative of Sylvie, a woman newly divorced and struggling with her teenage daughter to begin again, particularly after receiving traumatic news.

Chase’s writing is truly lovely, she has a beautiful way with words that manoeuvres the reader into the minds of her characters and leaves little snippets of the mystery to be pieced together. I became emotionally entangled in this story of secrets, desires, hopes and needs. Yes there is a murder, and you’ll soon work out who it’s the most likely to be, however there is a rather large stone to turn to find the whole truth.

A beautifully entwined mystery read with heart. Highly recommended read.

#blogtour THE SPLIT by Sharon Bolton and published by Orion Books

I’m delighted to be on the blog tour today for Sharon Bolton’s ‘The Split’, I’ve not read a Bolton book or series that I haven’t loved, and this is no exception. With thanks to Alex for the tour invite! Please read on for more information and bookish chat…

SHE’S GOT NOWHERE LEFT TO HIDE.

A year ago, in desperation, Felicity Lloyd signed up for a lengthy research trip to the remote island of South Georgia.

It was her only way to escape.

AND NOW HE’S COMING FOR HER.

Freddie Lloyd has served time for murder. Out at last, he’s on her trail.

And this time, he won’t stop until he finds her.

BECAUSE NO MATTER HOW FAR YOU RUN, SOME SECRETS WILL ALWAYS CATCH UP WITH YOU…

My thoughts

If you like a puzzle, then this is the book for you. From the extreme, isolated landscape of South Georgia, to the city of Cambridge nine months earlier, the reader is taken on a journey through a multi-layered narrative with a fascinating unreliable narrator: Felicity Lloyd.

The narrative seems disjointed for a substantial part of the book, but stick with it, it mirrors the central plot and the narratives will come together in a tense climax that will have you holding your breath!

I love the setting of South Georgia. It provides a harrowing and unforgiving landscape that opens and closes ‘The Split’ and provides the setting for an intriguing opening and a nerve-wracking finale, there is also a final twist for the reader that is hard to see coming.

This the story of Felicity, who is a glaciologist and a young woman on the edge; she is living in fear and we first meet her when she is working in the freezing waters of South Georgia with her colleague Jack. What soon becomes clear is that Felicity is running from someone, and that person is close on her trail. Before we can learn more, the narrative shifts back to the past. It is here the reader must adjust to a new setting; it seems like a completely different book and the reader is introduced to a new set of characters and an unsettling mystery.

There are several interesting characters, some more mysterious than others, I liked the character of Joe, the psychologist and councillor; he is not without flaws, but it makes him a more realistic character. I enjoyed finding out about his work, his relationship with this police officer mum, and the difficulties he is dealing with. Both he and Felicity have suffered trauma, and both are battling with their demons.

Also embedded into this story is a murder investigation in the rough sleeping community, this adds yet another dimension to a multi-layered plot and narrative voices. There are several subtle clues along the way, and I would recommend using a notebook and working on your inner Sherlock! I read 80% of the book with the Pigeonhole reading community (the book is split into 12 sections over 12 days, and you read with others and can leave digital comments in the margins), there are advantages and disadvantages reading this book with the group. The advantage is you are forced to read slowly, this enables you to think more about that section. I think I would have missed several clues if I had been reading in my usual pace, so this is your disadvantage of the book club, if you can call it that, as you’re forced to slow down.

This was not the expected read from the blurb, in fact it is completely different story to what you’d be expecting, but it’s a super puzzle of a novel. I always enjoy Sharon Bolton books, and this was no exception.

‘The Split’ is a puzzle of a thriller read, it’s emotional, challenging and meticulously plotted! Highly recommended.