Welcome to my book-blog. I've spent the last 22 years as a teacher of English Literature and running a Stage School and Theatre. Alongside that, I spend as much time as I can within the pages of a book and hope you'll get some reading inspiration from my library. Catch me on Instagram as well as books.tea.and.me – I'm always looking for recommendations!
It’s super exciting to be a part of this blog tour for A.J. Park’s debut novel ‘The First Lie’. With thanks to Alex at Orion Books for the invite! Please keep scrolling for some bookish chat…
A freak accident. An impossible choice. But what was the first lie?
When Paul Reeve comes home to find his wife in the bathroom, bloodied and shaking, his survival instinct kicks in.
Alice never meant to kill the intruder. She was at home, alone, and terrified. She doesn’t deserve to be blamed for it. Covering up the murder is their only option.
But the crime eats away at the couple and soon they can’t trust anyone – even one another… But there is much more at stake than anyone realises – and many more people on their trail than they can possibly evade…
Crikey, this book opens with a nightmare situation and a terrific narrative hook! Imagine the terror of arriving home after discovering several missed calls from your spouse… and finding the front door open! This is the scary and traumatic scene Paul Reeve finds at the beginning of ‘The First Lie’, and from this starting point we are hurtled along at quite a pace, as he deals with the cover up of a bloody ‘crime’ and his wife’s struggle to accept the events of that night and the choices they made.
A.J. Park’s debut novel moves from the narratives of Paul, and his wife Alice, whilst alternating with the police investigating team of a series of murders, where an assassin is the suspected culprit; this is headed by D.S. Katherine Wright and becomes our alternate focus in the story. These two elements eventually combine, and the narrative pulls together sharply.
I must admit that there are characters who are incredibly annoying in this book! This is not a negative, this is part of the story and their roles; personally I struggled with the development of Alice – she seemed to have a complete personality change three-quarters of the way in, which alienated me a little, but again that’s just my individual response. I love the balance between the two narratives, and how they gradually pull together; this makes exciting reading!
This is a super debut novel, with all the thriller elements readers of this genre enjoy! There are lots of plot layers and links which make it an enjoyable puzzle to read; it’s jam packed with deception, lies and mistrust, building to an intense and nerve-wracking climax.
A swiftly flowing, dark and challenging thriller that compels you to keep turning the pages!
About the author
After studying literature, linguistics and Spanish at university, A.J. Park trained as an English teacher and actor. He has edited magazines, and taught English, Media Studies and Drama in secondary schools across England. He was also a competitive fencer for seven years.
I’m really pleased to be featuring an extract from ‘Blood Red City’ today, I’d have loved to read it, but my review list was a little too long sadly, and I didn’t have enough time before the tour – it’s definitely on my list of books to buy soon! Can’t wait! Keep reading for the blurb, a gripping extract (I really want to keep reading!) and the author bio…
A witness but no victim. A crime but no crime scene…
When crusading journalist Lydia Wright is sent a video of an apparent murder on a London train, she thinks she’s found the story to revive her career. But she can’t find a victim, much less the killers, and the only witness has disappeared. Wary she’s fallen for fake news, she begins to doubt her instincts – until a sinister call suggests that she’s not the only one interested in the crime.
Michael Stringer deals in information – and doesn’t care which side of the law he finds himself on. But the murder on the train has left him exposed, and now he’ll stop at nothing to discover what Lydia knows.
When their paths collide, Lydia finds the story leads through a nightmare world, where money, power and politics intersect … and information is the only thing more dangerous than a bullet.
An extract from BLOOD RED CITY
The day’s penultimate job was an easy one, comparatively. He’d ordered things that way. The self-help manuals he used to read would advise tackling the hardest tasks on your list first; fine in theory, not so easy when there were lives at stake.
So that came next. For now, Michael Stringer had the home of London Assembly member Nigel Carlton in his sights. A nice semi on a nice road in Finchley, the streetlights casting the bay windows in amber relief. He’d done business in worse places.
His skin itched, waiting. Carlton had arrived home ten minutes prior, the house unlit before that. Stringer’s information was that Carlton’s wife was in Brussels for business – a regular occurrence, in his estimation the cover for an affair. Not Stringer’s concern in this matter, but professional rigour wasn’t something he could just turn on and off.
Ten minutes was just long enough. Carlton had showed up in a cab, so the chance of anyone else arriving separately was slim – but not zero. A mistake he’d made once before: on that occasion, Stringer had tailgated a target into his flat after watching him arrive alone, only to have the man’s secretary let herself in minutes later with her own set of keys, just as he was getting to it. Transpired the woman and the target took separate cabs from their office to keep their trysts under wraps.
But ten minutes was enough time to discount that possibility. Any longer ran the danger of a takeaway order showing up, or even the target leaving home again – a late-night urge for a bottle of Pinot or a bag of coke, or who fucking knew what.
Stringer rang the doorbell. The hallway light went on, and then the door opened without a sound. Carlton looked him over, the caution in his expression fading when he took in the wiry man in the charcoal-grey suit on his doorstep. Stringer didn’t immediately speak.
‘Yes?’ Carlton said.
Stringer raised the blue plastic document wallet in his hand. ‘We need to talk about these.’
Carlton squinted. ‘Sorry, have we met? Who—?’
‘The girl you’ve been emailing is fourteen years old. Did you know?’
‘What? What girl?’
‘Jennifer Tully – Jennycat18@hotmail.com. Her Facebook picture is her with glitter all over her face; I’m told it’s something the kids are into these days. If you swore to me she was eighteen I’d probably believe you, but I wouldn’t bet my career on it.’
Carlton dug into his pocket, produced his phone. ‘I’m calling the police.’
Stringer waited, staring at him doing nothing. ‘Well? You don’t need my permission.’
‘I don’t know … Look, you’ve got your wires crossed somewhere so why don’t you bugger off before…’ He swiped the phone to unlock it.
‘“Assembly Member”. That your title?’
Carlton looked up.
‘Awkward as honorifics go, so I’ll use Nigel. Nigel, have a listen to some of this.’ Stringer dipped his head, mimicking reading even though he had it memorised. ‘“I’ve been thinking about you all night, I couldn’t help myself, couldn’t sleep … I can smell you on my shirt and I just want to eat you up … I haven’t felt this way about anyone since I was a teenager … I don’t know what’s come over me.”’ Stringer handed him the email printout, pointing to the sender details at the top. ‘That’s you, yes?’
Carlton skimmed the page, his mouth coming ajar. ‘I’ve never … This is not me. I’ve never seen it in my life, I’ve never heard of this girl…’
‘Let’s go inside.’
‘Who the hell are you?’
Stringer jutted his chin. ‘Inside.’
Carlton backed up, staring at the printout as if he could wish it into thin air.
Stringer made his way down the hall and into a large kitchen, the rest of the house in darkness. The room was centred on a walnut-topped island unit and was straight out of a design catalogue: black bi-fold doors to the garden, brushed steel fridge, gleaming pans hanging above the counter. A cooker that looked like it’d never been lit. A faint smell of cleaning products.
Stringer took two glasses out of a cabinet above the sink and filled them with water. He set one down for Carlton and watched him inch down the hall, flipping the page to read the full email trail as he came.
‘I’ve been hacked.’ Carlton looked up, his face as pale as hypothermic flesh. ‘Where did you get these?’
Stringer pushed a glass towards him. ‘Word of advice: no one buys “I’ve been hacked” anymore. You’re supposed to use WhatsApp for this shit, Nigel. Snapchat.’
Carlton set the sheet of paper on the counter, the spotlights in the ceiling so bright it gave off a glare. ‘I’ve never seen any of these emails. Those are not my words, these are fakes.’
Stringer sipped his water. ‘You didn’t give me those, so where else would I have got them from?’
‘How the hell should I…?’ The penny dropped. ‘The girl?’
He frowned in confirmation.
Carlton rubbed his face.
‘Who are you?’
‘No it fucking isn’t. Why are you doing this to me?’
‘I’m just a fixer.’
‘Then who are you working for?’
‘You’re asking the wrong questions.’
As he brought the glass to his mouth again, Stringer’s shirt cuff gapped, flashing the melted skin on his arm. Carlton snapped his gaze to the counter, his discomfort a sure sign he’d noticed. Ten years ago Stringer would have made something of it; now he put the glass down and let his hand fall to his side. Not embarrassment; just taking away the distraction. ‘The question you need to ask is what am I going to do with these?’
‘I’m not having this.’ Carlton snatched up his phone again.
Stringer took out his own mobile and tapped the screen twice, Carlton’s phone vibrating a second later when the message came through. He stared at the image, his eyes flaring wide.
Stringer pointed to the picture, upside down from his viewpoint but more than familiar. It appeared to show a man and a girl at the start or end of an embrace. ‘As you know, that’s Jennifer Tully.’
‘No … no, I don’t know her…’ Carlton screwed his eyes shut, a memory coming back. ‘She dropped her purse, I picked it up for her and she gave me a hug. A thank-you thing, I was as surprised as anyone. I was on my way into Pret, for god’s sake.’
To Stringer, the snap looked too professional – the image a higher resolution than the average phone camera could manage, a red flag to anyone paying attention. But Nigel Carlton was a newborn baby, wiping his own shit out of his eyes in the harsh new world he found himself in.
‘There’s a dozen emails here, Nigel, and the photos. My guess is the Standard will put you on page five, but you might make the cover. And then the nationals will grab it, and that will be that. Fourteen years old … Christ.’
Carlton deleted the picture, visibly shaking. ‘This is a bloody setup.’
Stringer took his time putting his phone away, then stretched the silence to breaking point, taking a sip of water. ‘On Tuesday of next week, you’ll meet a gentleman named Jonathan Samuels at an office in the city. You’ll get a message telling you exactly when and where. Mr Samuels will have some suggestions for you to take back to your colleagues on the planning committee.’
‘What do you want?’
‘That’s Mr Samuels’ business. Miss the meeting and the story goes to the papers that afternoon. Speak to the police or anyone else about this and copies of everything go to your wife.’
Carlton planted his fists on the island. ‘No one would believe this of me. Least of all my wife.’
Stringer put his hands in his pockets, calling time on proceedings. ‘You sure about that?’ He moved closer to Carlton. ‘Absolutely sure?’ He stepped around him and made his way out of the house.
Rod Reynolds is the author of four novels, including the Charlie Yates series. His 2015 debut, The Dark Inside, was longlisted for the CWA New Blood Dagger, and was followed by Black Night Falling (2016) and Cold Desert Sky (2018); The Guardian have called the books ‘Pitch-perfect American noir’. A lifelong Londoner, in 2020 Orenda Books will publish his first novel set in his hometown, Blood Red City. Rod previously worked in advertising as a media buyer, and holds an MA in novel writing from City University London. Rod lives with his wife and family and spends most of his time trying to keep up with his two young daughters
Hugely excited to be a part of this blog tour, and many thanks to Anne Cater for the tour invite! I haven’t read any Joanna Briscoe books, so it’s lovely to be introduced to a new writer with a backlog of books to discover. Keep reading to find out more about ‘The Seduction’.
Beth lives in the tree-shrouded no-man’s land by Camden with her partner Sol and their daughter Fern. Life is peaceful, but Beth is troubled by increasing unease. It could be the uncertainty of her mother, who disappeared when Beth was a child. Or it could be the sense that Fern is keeping secrets from her.
So she goes to therapy. Dr Tamara Bywater is there to help her patients. But what if the very person who is meant to be the solution becomes the most dangerous problem of all? And why is what’s bad for us so enticing?
It’s certainly true that this book embraces the beauty and flexibility of language in its descriptions. I was hooked in early; the narrative weaves its spell and pulls you into the lives of Beth, Fern and Sol, as Beth’s troubled past brings her to the attention of Dr Tamara Bywater. There follows a story of obsession, manipulation and the power of paranoia.
What I enjoyed about this book is its study of human behaviour and the dark undertone in the writing, it’s certainly an addictive concept. I also enjoyed the theme of mother-daughter relationships, which lie at the core of this novel. What makes this book more than a relationship drama, is how it explores the role of the therapist; a person who is privy to your inner thoughts and, who has the ability to manipulate that closeness if they choose to do so. That’s where this novel’s tone is more disturbing as slowly Beth’s relationship with Dr Bywater becomes sexually charged, and draws her into a complex situation to the detriment of her family life.
Overall, a beautifully crafted, darkly drawn story of human psychology and dysfunctional personalities, colliding in a toxic and emotional journey of a book.
The Blog Tour
Joanna Briscoe is the author of five previous novels, including the bestselling Sleep With Me, which was adapted for ITV by Andrew Davies. She has been a columnist for the Independent and the Guardian, is a literary critic for the Guardian, and broadcasts regularly on Radio 4.
Jess Walker, middle child of a middle-class family, has perfected the art of vanishing in plain sight. But when she arrives at a concrete university campus under flat, grey, East Anglian skies, her world flares with colour.
Drawn into a tightly-knit group of rule breakers – led by their maverick teacher, Lorna Clay – Jess begins to experiment with a new version of herself. But the dynamic between the friends begins to darken as they share secrets, lovers and finally a tragedy. Soon Jess is thrown up against the question she fears most: what is the true cost of an extraordinary life?
This is a twisty coming of age drama, and follows the story of Jess as she begins to study English under the tuition of the complex and unorthodox Dr Lorna Clay, an English teacher with an original flare and academic drive; a person who becomes both muse and mystery to Jess. This is also a murder mystery and a study of human behaviour; there’s a gripping interplay between all the characters, that pulls and lulls the reader throughout the story and into the final climax. With themes of power, dominance, infatuation and more there’s plenty of depth to pull from this story.
For a debut, it’s impressive and despite not overly liking any of the characters, I was compelled to keep reading as Jess gets caught up with obsession, first love, desire, identity and ultimately murder.
Emotionally intricate, pleasingly plotted, and a confident debut.
A recommended book for people who enjoy slow burn mysteries with complex characters and relationship drama.
Kate Weinberg was born and lives in London. She studied English at Oxford and creative writing in East Anglia. She has worked as a slush pile reader, a bookshop assistant, a journalist and a ghost writer. The Truants is her first novel.
With huge thanks to Anne Cater #RandomThingsTours for the invite and to Kate Weinberg for the story. Happy Reading!
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?
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.
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.
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…
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 . . .
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!
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!
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.
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.
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…
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.
Thank you to Anne Cater and Karen Sullivan @OrendaBooks for the invite onto the #Sister blog tour. I hadn’t read the other books in this series, so was excited to find out all about the Oslo Detectives in this Nordic Noir thriller.
Oslo detective Frølich searches for the mysterious sister of a young female asylum seeker, but when people start to die, everything points to an old case and a series of events that someone will do anything to hide… Suspended from duty, Detective Frølich is working as a private investigator, when his girlfriend’s colleague asks for his help with a female asylum seeker, who the authorities are about to deport. She claims to have a sister in Norway, and fears that returning to her home country will mean instant death. Frølich quickly discovers the whereabouts of the young woman’s sister, but things become increasingly complex when she denies having a sibling, and Frølich is threatened off the case by the police. As the body count rises, it becomes clear that the answers lie in an old investigation, and the mysterious sister, who is now on the run… A dark, chilling and up-to-the-minute Nordic Noir thriller, Sister is also a tense and well-plotted murder mystery with a moving tragedy at its heart, cementing Kjell Ola Dahl as one of the greatest crime writers of our generation.
I really enjoyed this Nordic Noir, what begins as a seemingly straightforward investigation becomes increasingly more complex. A topical issue of asylum seekers and deportation introduces themes of abuse, the immigration system, twisted truths, and murder. I loved the plotting and the drip feeding of clues as our investigator, and suspended detective, Frolich pieces the clues together in missing persons case that develops into murder and heart-break.
I haven’t read the previous books in this series, but it didn’t matter at all and ‘Sister’ works perfectly as a standalone. It’s an atmospheric novel, that is grounded in realism; the contours of the novel are meticulous and authentic. The social aspect is the standout message, rather than the crime aspect, and through the asylum story-line the reader is immersed into harrowing corruption and cover-ups. The core of this novel is dark and it forces you to open your eyes to the world that is often hidden.
Addictive, dark and complex.
One of the fathers of the Nordic Noir genre, Kjell Ola Dahl was born in 1958 in Gjøvik. He made his debut in 1993, and has since published eleven novels, the most prominent of which is a series of police procedurals cum psychological thrillers featuring investigators Gunnarstranda and Frølich. In 2000 he won the Riverton Prize for The Last Fix and he won both the prestigious Brage and Riverton Prizes for The Courier in 2015. His work has been published in 14 countries, and he lives in Oslo.
Blog Tour Dates
With thanks to Orenda Books for the gifted book and Blog Tour invite!
A thank you to Anne Cater and Wildfire Books for the invite to the blog tour for #TheMurderGame by Rachel Abbott. Welcome to some bookish chat…
A year ago today, we all gathered for Lucas’ wedding at his glorious Cornish home overlooking the sea. But no one was married that day. Now Lucas has invited us back to celebrate the anniversary. But the anniversary of what? The wedding that never happened, or the tragedy that occurred just hours before the ceremony was due to begin? He’s told us that tonight he has planned a game. We have our costumes, we have our parts, and everyone must play. The game, he tells us, is about to begin. What does Lucas want from us? What are we not being told? And what’s going to happen when this terrible game is over?
I had such a great time reading this book! I hadn’t realised it was the second in the Stephanie King series, but it didn’t matter one bit. Abbott’s narrative places the central characters at the heart of the story, so King arrives later, when the police become involved, to lead the investigative aspect of this psychological thriller.
This is one of those books that has shades of an Agatha Christie novel. The careful line up of characters, from the charming to the acerbic, the desperate to the fragile. I loved the backdrop of lazy summer living at Polskirren, a beautiful manor house next to the Cornish coastline; a house where a group of friends meet, and where tragic events quickly unfold. It’s a joy to be introduced to all the players and the set-up is a delicious mash of furtive glances, eye gestures, huddled conversation and ambiguous comments.
The narrative is split between several of the female voices, so the perspectives change, which is a great way the book plays with the reader. I absolutely loved trying to work out the puzzle Abbott provides in this thriller story: the drip feeding of information; the slow unfurling of the central characters; the introduction of the ‘game’ in the prologue, and the female voices all slowly building the jigsaw pieces from the past. It is genuinely hard to put this book down!
This is a highly recommended psychological thriller read where an old mystery has woken up, as past friends meet on the cusp of a new wedding. Memories are stirred and questions answered, questions that some people desperately want to remain buried. With themes of trauma, forgiveness, friendships, secrets and love, this is an immersive read that I thoroughly enjoyed.
Check out the other fabulous bloggers on this tour:
Rachel Abbott began her career as an independent author in 2011, with Only the Innocent, which became a No.1 bestseller on Kindle, topping the chart for four weeks. Since then, she has published eight further psychological thrillers and sold over 3 million copies. She is one of the top-selling authors of all time in the UK Kindle store, and her novels have been translated into 21 languages. Rachel splits her time between Alderney – a beautiful island off the coast of France – and the Le Marche region of Italy, where she is able to devote all her time to writing fiction.