Guest Post for 'The Golden Key' by Marian Womack @titanbooks – WELCOME!

I’m really happy to be hosting a ‘Guest Post’ today from Marian Womack, author of the fabulous ‘The Golden Key‘ and published by one of my favourite publishing houses, Titan Books, on 18th February 2020. Marian Womack is writing about the real life inspirations behind the characters in her novel – scroll down to read.

The book blurb:

After the death of Queen Victoria, England heaves with the uncanny. Séances are held and the dead are called upon from darker realms.
Helena Walton-Cisneros, known for her ability to find the lost and the displaced, is hired by the elusive Lady Matthews to solve a twenty-year-old mystery: the disappearance of her three stepdaughters who vanished without a trace on the Norfolk Fens.

But the Fens are an age-old land, where folk tales and dark magic still linger. The locals speak of devilmen and catatonic children are found on the Broads. Here, Helena finds what she was sent for, as the Fenland always gives up its secrets, in the end…

GUEST POST

The Golden Key – Real Life Inspirations

by Marian Womack

My new novel, The Golden Key, is a work of fiction. Its protagonist, the detective Helena Walton-Cisneros, came to me gradually, over the course of many years. I wanted to explore a world in which things are not what they seem, in which women are forced to perform a role in society, at times hiding their real abilities. I soon realized that, in order to make this world more plausible, it would help if I populated it with real-life people and events. Luckily, my research for the novel helped a lot, as it uncovered many interesting people and events that spoke so much of the epoch, of the trials women feared and the tribulations they faced, that it was no problem to pick a few and include them in the book. These real-life inspirations, both people and places, include the following:

George MacDonald: I have always loved fairy-tales. The first short stories that I ever wrote were fairy-tale retellings, as dark and strange and unnerving as I could manage. I have a large collection of fairy-tale books from around the world, covering many cultures and epochs. I am not an expert, though, and my knowledge of the vast Victorian fairy-tale corpus was patchy, composed of what had found its way to my hands via second hand bookshops. I was introduced to George MacDonald’s work as an adult, and it shook my entire conception of what “a story in the fairy-fashion” should be. I became obsessed with MacDonald. He seemed to speak to my deeper concerns as a writer: the unavoidable sense of indeterminacy of his tales, of porous borders surrounding us, between the real and the unreal. I think it is fair to call MacDonald a true weird-fiction fairy-tale writer. His world found its way into my novel, partly because I could not write about worlds that mixed together without recognising a huge debt to him.

Peter Henry Emerson: I thought I had seen Norfolk, I thought that I knew Norfolk. Then I was introduced to the work of the early photographer, Peter Henry Emerson. The eeriness of his Norfolk images helped redefine the “feeling” of the entire novel. Here was a pictorial representation of everything I had felt about the place since I first set foot on it in 2002-2003: a haunting, ghostly feeling about the Fens and the Broads; a sense of more things, hidden, happening beyond the frames of the pictures. Even in his more “normal” rural scenes, one has the sense of looking upon another realm, a sort of parallel world. True, he did not own a camera until 1881, so it is a stretch to think that he might have photographed the hunting weekend for the Matthews family, but a writer has to imagine, after all, and my active imagination placed him firmly in the middle of the events.

Eunice Foote: Foote is perhaps the most important real character mentioned in the novel. An American physicist, she was the first person to establish a connection between the proportion of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere and what we now identify as climate change. However, she has been swallowed by history, and now it is John Tyndall whom everyone associates with this scientific discovery.

https://titanbooks.com/

Blog Tour: 'Death Deserved' by Jorn Lier Horst and Thomas Enger (translated by Anne Bruce)

Huge thanks to Anne Cater and Orenda Books for the blog tour invite!

Police officer Alexander Blix and celebrity blogger Emma Ramm join forces to track down a serial killer with a thirst for attention and high profile murders, in the first episode of a gripping new Nordic Noir series…

The Book Blurb

Oslo, 2018. Former long-distance runner Sonja Nordstrøm never shows at
the launch of her controversial autobiography, Always Number One. When
celebrity blogger Emma Ramm visits Nordstrøm’s home later that day, she
finds the door unlocked and signs of a struggle inside. A bib with the
number ‘one’ has been pinned to the TV.
Police officer Alexander Blix is appointed to head up the missing-persons
investigation, but he still bears the emotional scars of a hostage situation
nineteen years earlier, when he killed the father of a five-year-old girl.
Traces of Nordstrøm soon show up at different locations, but the
appearance of the clues appear to be carefully calculated … evidence of a
bigger picture that he’s just not seeing…
Blix and Ramm soon join forces, determined to find and stop a merciless
killer with a flare for the dramatic, and thirst for attention.
Trouble is, he’s just got his first taste of it…

My thoughts…

I thoroughly enjoyed ‘Death Deserved’, the first book in the Blix and Ramm crime series, and steeped in Nordic Noir. I’ve read a few books recently that link the blogging world into the crime genre, but this brings something fresh to the table. It’s smart, intricately plotted and boosted by several moments of high tension. I really liked the characters of both Blix and Ramm, and look forward to reading more of the series. Both characters have vulnerabilities that create some fascinating depth and their developing relationship is unusual, so I’m curious to see where this may lead.

The serial killer in this book certainly has a flair for the dramatic, which is great for us readers! I loved trailing the crime scenes and attempting to work out who was behind it all. A challenging puzzle!

All in all, this book’s great. I didn’t want to put it down and would highly recommend it to crime novel fans. It’s smart, expertly paced, fuelled by tension and blooming fun to read!

Highly recommended.

The Authors

Jørn Lier Horst and Thomas Enger are the internationally bestselling
Norwegian authors of the William Wisting and Henning Juul series
respectively.

Jorn Lier Horst

Jørn Lier Horst first rose to literary fame with his No. 1
internationally bestselling William Wisting series. A former investigator in
the Norwegian police, Horst imbues all his works with an unparalleled
realism and suspense.

Thonas Enger

Thomas Enger is the journalist-turned-author behind
the internationally acclaimed and bestselling Henning Juul series. Enger’s
trademark has become a darkly gritty voice paired with key social
messages and tight plotting. Besides writing fiction for both adults and
young adults, Enger also works as a music composer. Death Deserved is
Jørn Lier Horst & Thomas Enger’s first co-written thriller.

PUBLISHED BY ORENDA BOOKS http://orendabooks.co.uk/

Blog Tour for 'SOOT' @danvyleta and published by @orionbooks #CompulsiveReaders

Wishing ‘Soot’ every success on its blog tour and with the publication. I’m really pleased to be contributing today with some content into the characters of the novel, and the world they inhabit. With thanks! Check out the tour list below for other fabulous contributions from the book loving community.

Book Blurb

Welcome to a world where every desire is visible, rising from the body as a plume of Smoke. A world where bodies speak to one another and infect each other with desire, anger, greed. It is 1909 and this world stands on a precipice – some celebrate this constant whisper of skin to skin, and some seek to silence it forever.

Enter Eleanor, a young woman with a strange power over Smoke and niece of the Lord Protector of England. Running from her uncle and home, she finds shelter in a New York theatre troupe.

Then Nil, a thief hiding behind a self-effacing name. He’s an orphan snatched from a jungle-home and suspects that a clue to his origins may lie hidden in the vaults of the mighty, newly-risen East India Company.

And finally Thomas, one of the three people to release Smoke into the world. On a clandestine mission to India, he hopes to uncover the origins of Smoke and lay to rest his doubts about what he helped to unleash.

In a story that crosses continents – from India to England’s Minetowns – these three seek to control the power of Smoke. As their destinies entwine, a cataclysmic confrontation looms: the Smoke will either bind them together or forever rend the world.

I. The Story


Imagine a symphony made up of distinct themes and melodies.
It starts with a young woman, Eleanor, afraid that the long reach of her uncle will at last discover her in her Canadian exile and summon her home. She has a ‘talent’—a special relationship to the Smoke—that she fears others will want to put to use. Then she meets a playwright, a master of the new art of Smoke Theatre, and he offers her shelter within his troupe.
Then there is Nil—No-One, Nothing—a thief and confidence man, getting by on his wits. His latest mark is the New York City branch of the mighty East India Company, a trading corporation that controls the Indian Raj and is one of the dominant economic powers in this world after the ‘Second Smoke’, for they hold a monopoly on the only substance that can supress the Smoke. Nil is an orphan who does not know where he was stolen from when still a young child. He suspects that somewhere in the Company vaults slumbers the truth of who he is.
And then there is Thomas, hero of Smoke, who has travelled to India to learn what really happened in the revolution he helped to start ten years ago. He meets the Singhs, a local couple who themselves are revolutionaries of sorts, dreaming of freedom from Company rule. Will what Thomas finds lay to rest his guilt and doubts about what he helped to unleash?
These three melodies soon begin to intertwine, tying together events in North American and on the Indian subcontinent, and leading back to Britain, that sundered, Gale-haunted ‘Isle of the Smoke’, where the Smoke-affirming North of Minetowns and the Smoke-denying South under the stewardship of its Lord Protector are fighting over the country’s future.

About Dan Vyleta

Dan Vyleta is the author of four previous novels: Pavel & I, which gathered international acclaim and was translated into eight languages, The Quiet Twin, which was shortlisted for the Rogers Writers’ Trust Fiction Prize, The Crooked Maid, which was a finalist for the Scotiabank Giller Prize and winner of the J.L. Segal Award, and the critically-acclaimed Smoke.

His is the son of Czech refugees who emigrated to Germany in the late 1960s. After growing up in Germany, Dan left to attend university in the US, where he completed a PhD in History at King’s College, London.

He lives in Stratford-upon-Avon.

Praise for Dan Vyleta

‘For once both comparisons (with Harry Potter and Philip Pullman’s Northern Lights) are apt . . . this is a novel that stays in the imagination long after it has been read’

  • The Guardian

‘It’s detailed, multi-layered and feels authentic – and might just win over historical fiction fans too’

  • The Pool

‘Mr. Vyleta writes with intricacy and imagination and skillful pacing’

  • New York Times

‘Vice is made visual in Vyleta’s sprawling, ambitious novel, a Dickensian tale tinged with fantasy’

  • Entertainment Weekly

‘One of the most original and enthralling books I have read in a long time.’

  • Shelf Awareness

Blog Tour: 'The Aosawa Murders' by Riku Onda

Thanks so much to Anne Cater for the blog tour invite, and the publishers Bitter Lemon Press. This novel has been translated from the Japanese by Alison Watts. ‘The Aosawa Murders’ won the 59th Mystery Writers of Japan Award for best novel.

Blurb:

On a stormy summer day in the 1970s the Aosawas, owners of a prominent local hospital, host a large birthday party in their villa on the Sea of Japan. The occasion turns into tragedy when 17 people die from cyanide in their drinks. The only surviving links to what might have happened are a cryptic verse that could be the killer’s, and the physician’s bewitching blind daughter, Hisako, the only family member spared death. The youth who emerges as the prime suspect commits suicide that October, effectively sealing his guilt while consigning his motives to mystery.

Inspector Teru is convinced that Hisako had a role in the crime, as are many in the town, including the author of a bestselling book about the murders written a decade after the incident. The truth is revealed through a skilful juggling of testimony by different voices: family members, witnesses and neighbours, police investigators and of course the mesmerising Hisako herself.

My thoughts…

This is a steadily paced read that draws you in by beautifully directed prose and takes you through a journey of questions and puzzles to the final pages. Through the accounts of an author, an assistant, a housekeeper’s daughter, a detective, an elder brother, a young master, a tobacconist’s grandson, an editor, a friend and some other snippets of prose, poetry, diaries and file extracts – we are introduced to a horrific mass murder during an aggressive deluge of rain at a birthday party on the Sea of Japan and its sombre aftermath.

Each narrative voice opens up more information and pulls the reader into the complexities of the event and the psychologies of everyone involved. The delicacies and nuances in the writing are lovely, despite the pain and brutality of the deaths in the umbrella arc of the story.

What I really enjoyed is the distance some of our narrators have from the actual event, for example, the housekeeper’s daughter is recalling events via her mother, who was at the party and one of the only survivors. Another is the young master observing a man who holds his interest and keeps drawing his attention, and who we find is wrapped up in the shocking events. I do enjoy novels that offer varying perspectives on a single event, and this novel is a joy in how the reveals are constructed.

I think this book would suit readers who enjoy unusual mysteries. The final conclusions I found were ambiguous and there are gaps in the story when you read the closing lines, but I feel this book is more about the people affected by the shocking crime; I found more fascination from their viewpoints than in the hunt for the perpetrator. There’s also the bonus of insight into Japanese crime literature and culture that reading this novel brings.

A complex, ambiguous puzzle of a crime novel with a darkness at its core.

The Author – Riku Onda

Riku Onda, born in 1964, is the professional name of Nanae Kumagai. She has been writing fiction since 1991 and has won the Yoshikawa Eiji Prize for New Writers, the Japan Booksellers’ Award, the Mystery Writers of Japan Award for Best Novel for The Aosawa Murders, the Yamamoto Shūgorō Prize, and the Naoki Prize. Her work has been adapted for film and television. This is her first crime novel and the first time she is translated
into English.

Translated by Alison Watts, who is an Australian-born Japanese to English translator and long time resident of Japan. She has translated Aya Goda’s TAO: On the Road and On the Run in Outlaw China (Portobello, 2007) and Durian Sukegawa’s Sweet Bean Paste (Oneworld Publications, 2017), and her translations of The Aosawa Murders and Spark (Pushkin Press, 2020) by Naoki Matayaoshi are forthcoming.

Blog Tour

Check out these other brilliant bloggers posting now until the 3rd of March.

Beast by Matt Wesolowski

I’m very pleased to be part of this Blog Tour for ‘Beast’, with thanks to the lovely Anne and Orenda Books.

Beast will unveil a darkness from which you may never
return…

The Blurb

In the wake of the ‘Beast from the East ’ cold snap that ravaged the UK in 2018, a grisly discovery was made in a ruin on the Northumbrian coast. Twenty-four-year-old vlogger, Elizabeth Barton, had been barricaded inside what locals refer to as ‘ The Vampire Tower ’, where she was later found frozen to death.

Three young men, part of an alleged cult, were convicted of this terrible crime, which they described as a ‘prank gone wrong ’. However, in the small town of Ergarth, questions have been raised about the nature of Elizabeth Barton’s death and whether the three convicted youths were even responsible.

Elusive online journalist Scott King speaks to six witnesses – people who knew both the victim and the three killers – to peer beneath the surface of the case. He uncovers whispers of a shocking online craze that held the young of Ergarth in its thrall and drove them to escalate a series of pranks in the name of internet fame. He hears of an abattoir on the edge of town, which held more than simple slaughter behind its walls, and the tragic and chilling legend of the Ergarth Vampire…

My thoughts…

This is, in a nutshell, brilliant storytelling. It’s the fourth book in a series of similarly presented books: ‘Six Stories’, ‘Hydra’ and ‘Changeling’. I haven’t read any of the other books, so ‘Beast’ is my first taste of Matt Wesolowski’s work. I am hugely impressed, what a dark and addictive read. It’s one of those books that would work brilliantly as an audio-book (just checked and I can see the first are all available on Audible – so I’ll be adding them to my collection soon), as it’s designed around a series of six interviews for a podcast. I must admit, I’m only a minor book blogger, and I don’t completely understand the more commercial blogging world, so I found the concepts running through this book fascinating, and particularly as a social study of our ever-modernising world. It also contains the central theme of power and the impact social media has on people, and considering the awful news about Caroline Flack this week, the resonances are incredibly disturbing. This awful power-play for importance and ‘deemed’ value is very scary, and as a parent slightly terrifying. I’m currently in a room with a teenager who is flicking through her phone, and I have no idea what’s going on in her mind and on her phone screen (she’s 17, and we’ve had many discussions and I am 99.9% sure she is honest, caring and compassionate to others).

But back to ‘Beast’ which is built around the brutal murder of a blogger in a site connected with the legend of a local vampire, and considering she was beheaded, it builds questions and fear from the local community. Her crime is solved, and the perpetrators imprisoned, so when a new question arises, a new interest in her cases emerges. This introduces our online journalist Scott King and we follow his investigation via six reports. It’s clear I have missed something about Scott’s personal life from the previous books, but it by no way affects the read, it does make me want to order the previous three books pretty pronto though.

I really do recommend you pick up this book, it’s addictive and underneath the witness accounts there festers a dark and gothic tale of elusive, satanic behaviour waiting to inflict pain and misery. There’s also the valid and current debate of our modern society and its narcissistic and needful personalities thriving in the world of social media and the consequences of this. I was hooked from start to finish. Loved the mystery, the darkness and the debate it raises.

Highly recommended!

The Author

Matt Wesolowski is an author from Newcastle-Upon-Tyne in the UK. He is
an English tutor for young people in care. Matt started his writing career in
horror, and his short horror fiction has been published in numerous UK- an
US-based anthologies such as Midnight Movie Creature, Selfies from the End
of the World, Cold Iron and many more. His novella, The Black Land, a horror set on the Northumberland coast, was published in 2013. Matt was a winner of the Pitch Perfect competition at Bloody Scotland Crime Writing Festival in 2015. His debut thriller, Six Stories, was an Amazon bestseller in the USA, Canada, the UK and Australia, and a WHSmith Fresh Talent pick, and film rights were sold to a major Hollywood studio. A prequel, Hydra, was published in 2018 and became an international bestseller

The Publisher

Orenda Books is a small independent publishing company specialising in literary fiction with a heavy emphasis on crime/thrillers, and approximately half the list in translation. They’ve been twice shortlisted for the Nick Robinson Best Newcomer Award at the IPG awards, and publisher
and owner Karen Sullivan was a Bookseller Rising Star in 2016. In 2018, they were awarded a prestigious Creative Europe grant for their translated books programme. Three authors, including Agnes Ravatn, Matt Wesolowski and Amanda Jennings have been WHSmith Fresh Talent picks, and Ravatn’s The Bird Tribunal was shortlisted for the Dublin Literary Award, won an English PEN Translation Award, and adapted for BBC Radio Four ’s Book at Bedtime. Six titles have been shortor long-listed for the CWA Daggers. Launched in 2014 with a mission to bring more international
literature to the UK market, Orenda Books publishes a host of debuts, many of which have gone on to sell millions worldwide, and looks for fresh, exciting new voices that push the genre in new directions. Bestselling authors include Ragnar Jonasson, Antti Tuomainen, Gunnar Staalesen,
Michael J. Malone, Kjell Ola Dahl, Louise Beech, Johana Gustawsson, Lilja Sigurðardóttir and Sarah Stovell.
http://www.orendabooks.co.uk
@OrendaBooks

'The Woman Downstairs' by Elizabeth Carpenter

I’m delighted to be on the blog tour for ‘The Woman Downstairs’ with thanks to Orion Fiction and Tracy Fenton at Compulsive Readers.

Published by Orion on 6th February 2020

The Blurb

Can you ever really know your neighbours?

When human remains are found in a ground floor flat, the residents of Nelson Heights are shocked to learn that there was a dead body in their building for over three years.

Sarah lives at the flat above and after the remains are found, she feels threatened by a stranger hanging around the building.

Laura has lived in the building for as long as she can remember, caring for her elderly father, though there is more to her story than she is letting on.

As the investigation starts to heat up, and the two women become more involved, it’s clear that someone isn’t telling the truth about what went on all those years ago…

My thoughts…

‘The Woman Downstairs’ is a story told by two women, Sarah and Laura. The book is split into two parts, and once you begin to read part two it’s practically impossible to book this book down!

Sarah is training to be a journalist, whilst trying to support herself and her teenage son after splitting from her husband. We find her in a new relationship with the elusive and questionable Rob. However, her ex-husband Andy is also popping in and out of her life.

Laura, on the other hand, has led an isolated life, looking after her ailing father. After her father died, she had to build the confidence to find employment and meet new people. She soon attracts attention, from new colleagues and a past school friend. Her life soon changes and there’s the potential of a relationship… but it soon it becomes clear that maybe she’d have been safer staying at home!

These two women’s stories overlap in the book’s central mystery of a body found in a ground floor flat.

For me, this read took its time to get to the addictive stage (this is by no means a negative comment), but when it did, wow, it completely hooks you in. What a page turner! It’ll also make you think more carefully about those around you, about what are truths and what could be lies. Who is hiding behind a ‘mask’?.

With embedded themes of appearance and reality, this is a thoroughly enjoyable mystery thriller that wraps its hooks into the readers and demands you keep turning its pages.

A thumbs up from me!

The Author

Elisabeth Carpenter lives in Preston with her family. She completed a BA in English Literature and Language with the Open University in 2011.

Elisabeth was awarded a Northern Writers’ New Fiction award and was longlisted for the Yeovil Literary Prize (2015 and 2016) and the MsLexia Women’s Novel award (2015). She loves living in the north of England and sets most of her stories in the area, including the novel she is writing at the moment. She currently works as a bookkeeper.

Published by Orion on 6th February

'May Leave Stars' by Catherine C. Heywood – mini review

A timeless love story set amidst the glamour of the Belle Époque…

Book Blurb:
Paris, 1889: Amélie Audet toils in a laundry when, only steps away, investors promise the most glittering dance hall the city has ever seen. Determined to secure an audition, she stumbles into a meeting with the alluring owner of the Moulin Rouge and must face her scandalous past.

She would have Paris at her feet.
Jasper Degrailly is enchanted by a painting come to life. He sets out to seduce Amélie with his gilded world and the dark warrens of his mind. Yet he has his own sordid entanglements, and soon the gentleman and the singer must manage the greedy machinations of bohemian and high-society Paris.

He would have her at his.
Caught between competing artists, directors, and dance halls, Amélie struggles to earn the role that could make her a star, while Jasper strives to let go of his tortured past and hold on to his bright future. Eventually, their fates collide, and they find themselves torn between their desperate hearts and their irreconcilable lives.

My thoughts…

I enjoy historical fiction and this book certainly creates a vivid world of the late 1800s: the world of the female and society’s judgements and expectations. Of power, control, passion, troubles and hardships.
At the heart of this story is a talented woman, Amelie Audet, who dreams to become a performer. Her physical allure makes her into an unwilling muse and into the object of desire from more than one man. It is her relationship with Monsieur Jasper Degrailly that dominants the novel, as much as he wants to dominate her as their relationship becomes physical. His controlling need in their relationship is handled well, as is Amelie’s submissiveness.
There are two versions of this book available, one is the writer’s cut which does not hold back and contains explicit content with descriptions of bondage and consensual power exchanges. So, if you are looking for something milder then you can read the mainstream version.
I enjoyed the writer’s descriptions of 1880s Paris, the performance halls and the start of the Moulin Rouge and the less unsavoury side of life beyond Paris’s high society. The writer crafts a believable love story with a difference, and I really became invested in Amelie’s story.


Recommended for readers’ seeking a different kind of historical love story.

Mini-Review of ‘The Mercies’ by Kiran Millwood Hargrave

Inspired by the real events of the Vardø storm of 1617.

Book Blurb

On Christmas Eve, 1617, the sea around the remote Norwegian island of Vardø is thrown into a reckless storm. As Maren Magnusdatter watches, forty fishermen, including her father and brother, are lost to the waves – the menfolk of Vardø wiped out in an instant.

Vardø is now a place of women.

Eighteen months later, a sinister figure arrives. Summoned from Scotland to take control of a place at the edge of the civilized world, Absalom Cornet knows what he needs to do to bring the women of Vardø to heel. With him travels his young wife, Ursa. In Vardø, and in Maren, Ursa finds something she has never seen before: independent women. But Absalom sees only a place flooded with a terrible evil, one he must root out at all costs . . .

My thoughts…

I enjoyed this ‘Norwegian Crucible’ of a story. Based on historical events where the search for witches becomes a bloodthirsty passion. It’s such an horrific part of our world history, that shouldn’t be forgotten, and this book serves to remind us of the awful way power, superstition, control, jealousy and mass hysteria can cause humans to do horrific things.
The story follows two young women, who meet in differing circumstances but find an instant connection with one another. One woman who has endured great loss and hardship and another married to a stranger and taken to a new land. Both are likeable protagonists and I loved how their relationship developed amidst the chaos of accusations and suspicion.
The writing is rich and immersive, the landscape dark and cold. I really enjoyed this book and the inevitable bittersweet ending.

#blogtour 'Never Look Back' by A.L. Gaylin

It’s lovely being on the blog tour for ‘Never Look Back’ with Compulsive Readers – thanks to Tracy and Orion Books.

She was the most brutal killer of our time. And she may have been my mother…

Blurb

When Robin Diamond is contacted by true crime podcast producer Quentin Garrison, she assumes it’s a business matter.

It’s not.

Quentin’s podcast focuses on a series of murders in the 1970s committed by a teen couple and Quentin has reason to believe Robin’s mother may be intimately connected with the killings.

Robin thinks Quentin’s claim is absurd. But is it?

Robin knows her mother better than anyone. Or does she?

My thoughts

This story is told via a split narrative of letters to ‘my future child, Aurora Grace’ from Alice Cooper throughout the year of 1976 and the central dual perspectives of Quentin and Robin with some supporting points of view as the story develops. Quentin being a true crime podcast producer, and Robin, whose mother Quentin suspects could be one half of the infamous Inland Empire Killers. The significant issue here, is both the Inland Empire Killers both died in a fire.

I was thoroughly fascinated reading this book; the inclusion of the letter form worked brilliantly and told the events of the story from a completely different time-frame perspective. It’s gripping, addictive and thoroughly entertaining.

This is one of those great reads, that steadily lays trails of information and points of view for the reader to piece together. I really enjoyed the diverse group of characters who are all caught up in some awful events and the steady climb to the big reveal.

A highly recommended character driven, compulsive psychological crime thriller. Read it! I’m certainly going to be working my way through Gaylin’s back-list. Huge thanks to the author and publishing team for inviting me to join in the chat about ‘Never Look Back’.

About the author
Alison Gaylin is the award-winning author of ‘Hide Your Eyes’ and its sequel, ‘You Kill Me’; the standalones ‘Trashed’, ‘Heartless’, ‘What Remains Of Me’ and ‘If I Die Tonight’; and the ‘Brenna Spector’ series: ‘And She Was, Into the Dark’, and ‘Stay with Me’. A graduate of Northwestern University and of Columbia University’s Graduate School of Journalism, she lives with her husband and daughter in Woodstock, New York

Check out these other great blogger posts

January Reading Wrap-Up

Well, what happened to January? It disappeared as quickly as 2019! I finished 9 books this month, and four seasons of ‘The Mentalist’ – my new TV obsession.

First up is ‘The Snowdonia Killings’ a debut crime series novel by Simon McCleave introducing DI Ruth Hunter. A promising start, I’ve a blog post with a full review if you’re interested in finding out more. 3.5 stars

‘Killing Beauties’ by Pete Langman is an historical read about female spies and the wider network during Cromwell’s 17th century world of secrets and lies. 3 stars.

‘Dreamland’ by Nancy Bilyeau was a really enjoyable read, there’s also a blog post on this one. This book is an adventure and a murder mystery; it’s about first love, loss, addiction, power, corruption, and the battle for independence. 4.5 stars

‘Eros Element’ by Cecilia Dominic – a fantasy steampunk inspired adventure. It was okay for a little escapism. 2.5 stars

‘The Last Day’ by Andrew Hunter Murray is all bleak, apocalyptic and dystopian – uneven narrative issues for me, but lots of positives. 3.5 stars

‘The Foundling’ by Stacey Hall is one of my top reads this month. I loved Hall’s first book, ‘The Familiars’, and this one is even stronger. Built around the many ‘foundlings’ left in London’s Foundling Hospital; this is a story of despair, hope, isolation, lies and family bonds. 5 stars.

‘The Duke’s Desire by Erica Ridley was a review read, and it’s pretty much as you’d expect – a fiesty historical romance with the expected HEA. 3 stars

‘Six Wicked Reasons’ by Joe Spain was a great thriller, whodunit book and centres on a very dysfunctional family governed by a narcissistic patriarch. 4 stars.

Finally, ‘The Rose in Winter’ by Sarah Harrison – not really for me, I found myself disengaged several times. 2.5 stars