Welcome to my book-blog. 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!
Long ago Miren O’Malley’s family prospered due to a deal struck with the mer: safety for their ships in return for a child of each generation. But for many years the family have been unable to keep their side of the bargain and have fallen into decline. Miren’s grandmother is determined to restore their glory, even at the price of Miren’s freedom.
A spellbinding tale of dark family secrets, magic and witches, and creatures of myth and the sea; of strong women and the men who seek to control them.
There’s a root of darkness in the setting and plot of All the Murmuring Bones – a tale based on an Irish cultivated land where magical creatures exist. That’s not to say this is a magical book; there’s a real sense of historical realism in the world as well but deepened with embedded folklore throughout the narrative, which I enjoyed.
Whilst for me the dark gothic fairy-tale vibe was not as expected – there’s certainly a darkness and creepy tone to the writing as we find out more about our central character, Miren, and follow her journey to discover the truth hidden behind the layers of mystery within her family.
A dark and challenging journey centres the novel; it’s presented in a slow and heavily detailed narrative that never rushes. A dash of murder and intrigue deepens the story and I enjoyed the battle for the survival of the bloodline, the ruthlessness of the journey at times and the bargains for survival with magical creatures.
There’re some fabulous settings – in particular atmospheric descriptions of the story’s key locations: Blackwater and Hob’s Head. The characters are a mix of surface with some depth – from my reading experience I wanted more development and depth as I found I wasn’t too connected at times, which did affect my personal reading experience – but that’s just me.
Overall, this is a great book for people who enjoy a darker story with morally questionable characters and enjoy folklore. Super story-telling and world building. There are some fabulous descriptions throughout the book and a great central character arc to follow as Miren has to adapt to her situation and environment.
Thanks so much to Titan Books for inviting me to chat about All the Murmuring Bones and to the author for the story!
I’m attempting to read and review all my NetGalley books this month and although ‘The Killing Kind’ is my most recent review copy, I can’t help but bump up any Jane Casey book to the top of the pile. Although it’s not a Maeve Kerrigan novel, (I’m a huge fan of this series) it’s a great thriller read. The second is the sequel to ‘Ground Sweet as Sugar’ by a lovely lady called Catherine C. Heywood whom I’m delighted to have connected with via Twitter and Instagram. Do keep scrolling for some bookish chat.
The Killing Kind by Jane Casey
This is a deftly plotted thriller from Jane Casey and comes highly recommended. The novel’s protagonist, Ingrid Lewis, is a London barrister and through one of her cases we are introduced to John Webster: a high functioning sociopath, who is a constant presence during the book. I had so many questions about him and he provides an additional thriller element of trust. There are two other male figures circling around Ingrid to mix up the drama and both add to the question of who can be trusted. Casey has certainly plotted with panache! There are so many layers and via a narrative of mixed time frames, emails and court documents the reader needs to work hard to make the connections and work out where the story is taking you; to find out who is hiding behind their lies. I must admit I had a strong suspicion about one of the culprits early on, so it was enjoyable tracking the clues to the dramatic conclusions and reveals. I’d certainly recommend this book to thriller fans – it’s intelligent, cleverly weaved and provides many doubts, twists and spins until the final reveal. Despite not being the wanted 2021 release of the next book in Casey’s fabulous Maeve Kerrigan series, I was content with this standalone whilst waiting. If you haven’t read any of the Maeve Kerrigan crime reads you are absolutely missing out. It’s an exceptional crime, thriller series and is highly recommended. ‘The Killing Kind’ gets a thumbs up from me. Addictive, satisfying and crafty.
The Virtues of Vice by Catherine C. Heywood
‘The Virtues of Vice’ continues the story began in ‘Ground as Sweet as Sugar’ (you’ll definitely need to read this before to understand what’s happening) and our lead characters Charlotte and James are battling with both current events and their feelings for each other. Life in the West Indies remains tough and there’s a balance to be found, not only in their personal lives but in the world around them. The drama certainly continues for Charlotte as she is punished for her part in crimes of the previous book. James is, as always, on her side, even when he perhaps shouldn’t be. Heywood’s characters have flaws and Charlotte certainly does; this can alienate her from the reader and we have to remember this fiction is set in a far-removed time to understand events and decisions. James and Charlotte’s relationship does dominate the book, but we also have dangers and manipulations to deal with. This is a world of strife, greed, desires, domination and despair. But it’s balanced by the positives: love, loyalty and friendship.
Heywood, as always provides a story that drags the reader into some wonderful escapism, romance and high drama. A book of consuming love, justice, power and revenge, where the end to all virtue is finally happiness.
Thanks to Tracy for the invite and to the publisher for the review copy. It’s great to get the chance to review a debut novel and Fennell’s serial killer thriller certainly hits the mark. Please do keep scrolling for some bookish chat.
An underground artist leaves three glass cabinets in Trafalgar Square that contain a gruesome installation: the corpses of three homeless men.
With the artist promising more to follow, newly-promoted Detective Inspector Grace Archer and her caustic DS, Harry Quinn, must race against time to follow what few clues have been left by a savvy killer.
As more bodies are exhibited at London landmarks and live streamed on social media, Archer and Quinn’s pursuit of the elusive killer becomes a desperate search.
But when Archer discovers that the killer might be closer than she originally thought – she realises that he has his sights set firmly on her . . .
He is creating a masterpiece. And she will be the star of his show.
Fennell introduces the reader to an absorbing protagonist in his debut thriller ‘The Art of Death’. It’s great when you become hooked into a new detective thriller and really connect with the lead characters. The opening investigation is led by DI Grace Archer and DS Harry Quinn, a confident ‘side-kick’ who’s smart and shows the capacity for great loyalty as the book, and hopefully series, progresses. It’s great we have some fully rounded characters to hook into, that are written with realism and have enough background depth to keep up the interest in their personal lives, despite the gruesome unfolding events of the murders they are investigating.
Set in London, we are introduced to a new killer on its streets. This predator really resonates with our modern society, using social networks to hunt for prey. The detached, cold feel of the murderer is really striking through the opening pages and builds throughout the book. The reader is aware from early events that DI Archer will have a bigger part to play in the crimes, and the tension builds through the pages as we await what will happen.
I really enjoyed the plotting and pace of this book; I must admit I guessed very early on who the guilty party was and where it was heading (I think reading crime novels for 30 years has helped, rather than a structural/plotting flaw by the author), so for me another plausible potential murderer would have been a useful red herring to get me off the scent. However, as all reading is a personal experience, this by no means deflates this novel. It’s an impressive debut and I hope will lead to a new and exciting series featuring Archer and Quinn.
A highly recommended debut crime thriller read. This creepy page-turner will pull you into a macabre world where the hunt for a killer consumes the pursers until the heart-stopping climax.
David Fennell was born and raised in Belfast before leaving for London at the age of eighteen with £50 in one pocket and a dog-eared copy of Stephen King’s The Stand in the other. He jobbed as a chef, waiter and bartender for several years before starting a career in writing for the software industry. He has been working in Cyber Security for fourteen years and is a fierce advocate for information privacy. To find out more, visit his website: www.davidfennell.co.uk and follow him on Twitter: @davyfennell
I read and enjoyed Sam Blake’s Cathy Connolly series starting with Little Bones, so jumped at the chance to be a part of the blog tour for The Dark Room, as always thanks to Anne for the invite (always super communication and professionally organised blog tours). A final thanks to Corvus Books for the review copy. Please so keep scrolling for some bookish chat…
Rachel Lambert leaves London afraid for her personal safety and determined to uncover the truth behind the sudden death of a homeless man with links to a country house hotel called Hare’s Landing.
New York-based crime reporter Caroline Kelly’s career is threatened by a lawsuit and she needs some thinking space away from her job. But almost as soon as she arrives, Hare’s Landing begins to reveal its own stories – a 30-year-old missing person’s case and the mysterious death of the hotel’s former owner.
As Rachel and Caroline join forces, it becomes clear that their investigations are intertwined – and that there is nothing more dangerous than the truth…
This is my sort of mystery thriller read; a book dripping with ‘Rebecca vibes’ and saturated with a mystery tinged with the supernatural. I love a good puzzle and this book provides a few, despite still having questions at the end, it’s a satisfyingly welcome escape from our current covid-imprisoned world.
The protagonists are two women, seemingly worlds apart, who are on a course of convergence via a journey of personal reflection, a hunt for answers, the reawakening of the past and its buried secrets; this uncovering is going to bluntly impact their lives and futures. The setting, for the most part, is Hare’s Landing – a house in West Cork that has been containing secrets for many years. It’s now a guest house, where a rather ‘Mrs Danvers’ like employee overseas the guests as they arrive, and certainly keeps an eye on them!
The reader soon becomes hooked into the strange, supernatural occurrences and begins to build the secrets and events into a slow uncovering of the truth. There’s a nice friendship that develops between the two female leads as they join forces to find out they are being targeted. There’s the additional burden of a menacing intruder, a mysterious suicide of the past, a missing person’s investigation to add to the complex twists and turns the women find themselves embroiled in. The pace is steady until 60% in and then it moves swiftly to its conclusion.
A book of secrets, suspicions and murder set in a remote house where the past lives of the two protagonists become entwined in a supernatural edged mystery.
Sam Blake is a pseudonym for Vanessa Fox O’Loughlin, the founder of The Inkwell Group publishing consultancy and the hugely popular national writing resources website Writing.ie. She is Ireland’s leading literary scout and has assisted many award-winning and bestselling authors to publication. As Sam Blake, she has written four previous novels and has topped the Irish bestseller chart.
It was lovely to be invited on the BLOG TOUR for WINTERKILL (thank you Anne!) and the atmospheric book cover design really caught my eye too; the bleak landscape looks a perfect setting for this latest book in the NORDIC NOIR Dark Iceland crime series, published by the fabulous ORENDA BOOKS. Please keep scrolling for lots of book information and chat…
The Book Blurb
When the body of a nineteen-year-old girl is found on the main street of Siglufjörður, Police Inspector Ari Thór battles a violent Icelandic storm in an increasingly dangerous hunt for her killer … The chilling, claustrophobic finale to the international bestselling Dark Iceland series.
Easter weekend is approaching, and snow is gently falling in Siglufjörður, the northernmost town in Iceland, as crowds of tourists arrive to visit the majestic ski slopes.
Ari Thór Arason is now a police inspector, but he’s separated from his girlfriend, who lives in Sweden with their three-year-old son. A family reunion is planned for the holiday, but a violent blizzard is threatening and there is an unsettling chill in the air.
Three days before Easter, a nineteen-year-old local girl falls to her death from the balcony of a house on the main street. A perplexing entry in her diary suggests that this may not be an accident, and when an old man in a local nursing home writes ‘She was murdered’ again and again on the wall of his room, there is every suggestion that something more sinister lies at the heart of her death…
As the extreme weather closes in, cutting the power and access to Siglufjörður, Ari Thór must piece together the puzzle to reveal a horrible truth … one that will leave no one unscathed.
Chilling, claustrophobic and disturbing, Winterkill marks the startling conclusion to the million-copy bestselling Dark Iceland series and cements Ragnar Jónasson as one of the most exciting authors in crime fiction.
The Blog Tour
Firstly, I need to admit that this is my first time reading Ragnor Jonasson’s DARK ICELAND books, so I’m very late to the series, and I’m beginning at the end! Jonasson has been billed as writing ‘Nordic Noir of the highest order’ and ‘breathing new life in Nordic Noir’, so I was very excited to read WINTERKILL. It’s the sixth installment in the series, which began in SNOWBLIND and introduced the series protagonist Detective Ari Thor Arason. So our principle character has obviously a long history with fans of these books, and I looked forward to reading to see how this works as standalone for a new reader. What a credit to the skills of the writer, that its quality narrative relays enough information to settle the reader in and the new investigation runs beautifully alongside this.
WINTERKILL is a quality Nordic Noir (translated brilliantly by David Warriner) that reels you in from the opening emergency operator call to the duty Inspector on call: Ari Thor Arason. Siglufjordur is the setting, a land of day and night, where the sun barely sets in the summer. It’s so remote, it becomes almost uninhabitable. This remote Northern Icelandic village provide the frozen backdrop to the investigation of a teenage girl’s body found in a unusual setting.
Now, in term’s of character, obviously I’m missing the previous character developments, so have only a surface level of understanding of this journey through the series narrative. I was aware I missed out, but in all honesty, it didn’t impede my enjoyment of this book. There’s a great sense of humanity in Ari, and you can’t help but respect how he works and lives; he’s a character who’s dealing with several issues in his private life as well and these pop up throughout the central crime story.
The investigation is a delight for the reader to follow, pick up clues and surmise where the plot is heading. It’s really well crafted and the quality of the translation adds to the success of this. The pace is slow, but works. The readers glances in onto different characters as Arason investigates the complex nature of a seemingly tragic suicide.
I did find the contemplative nature of the story-telling the more dominant aspect of the book, perhaps as it’s the end of the series, and therefore the crime is in a more secondary position. From the more reflective, personal thoughts of our protagonist the reader gets a sense of humanity, desires, needs, love and reflection – all working well to add depth. For many, this is the final book in a loved series, for me, it’s the start of a new adventure – to find out how we arrive at this point, and I look forward to beginning my journey.
An accomplished character driven crime novel, set in a unique world of snow and light, where the darkness in humanity is uncovered by a driven, complex and engaging protagonist.
Icelandic crime writer Ragnar Jónasson was born in Reykjavík, and currently works as a lawyer, while teacher copyright law at the Reykjavík University Law School. In the past, he’s worked in TV and radio, including as a news reporter for the Icelandic National Broadcasting Service. Before embarking on a writing career, Ragnar translated fourteen Agatha Christie novels into Icelandic, and has had several short stories published in German, English and Icelandic literary magazines. Ragnar set up the first overseas chapter of the CWA (Crime Writers’ Association) in Reykjavík, and is co-founder of the International crime-writing festival Iceland Noir.
Ragnar’s debut thriller, Snowblind became an almost instant bestseller when it was published in June 2015 with Nightblind (winner of the Dead Good Reads Most Captivating Crime in Translation Award) and then Blackout, Rupture and Whiteout following soon after. To date, Ragnar Jónasson has written five novels in the Dark Iceland series, which has been optioned for TV by On the Corner. He lives in Reykjavík with his wife and two daughters.
When a rare sixteenth-century manuscript lands on her desk courtesy of William, a struggling painter, shy book restorer Rose makes a startling discovery: it is a palimpsest. Beneath the text is a different document, one that’s been written over. What they discover is the secret diary of William’s ancestor, Giovanni Lomazzo, a Venetian painter who has just been commissioned by Venice’s most powerful admiral to paint a portrait of his favourite courtesan… it is a diary of forbidden love, dangerous political plots, and secrets that could destroy everyone involved.
Together, Rose and William work to solve the mystery of what happened to the secret lovers. As feelings develop between Rose and William, their own experience begins to mirror the affair that they’re uncovering, and each set of lovers is forced to confront the reality of their romance.
A richly detailed and sweeping page-turner, Margaux’s sumptuous portrait of late Renaissance Italy will have you falling headlong into history, slipping in and out of the shadows along the canals of Venice.
I do enjoy historical fiction, so was delighted to read The Lost Diary of Venice for its BLOG TOUR. This is a book of layers that moves from modern day back into the past to Renaissance Italy of the 1500s. There’s a meandering pace to the narrative; this is not a negative. It gives the reader time to savour the richness of the historical detail that clearly comes from a labour of love and superb historical research. I enjoyed the historical writing more than the modern day setting, but both are linked really well as we learn about obsession, needs, desires, love and longing.
The historical plot is rooted in actual history, a tale of artists, courtesans, spies, anti-Semitism and war. I loved the character and journey of Giovanni, an artist who is beginning to lose his sight; it is his reawakening under the care of the alluring, layered character of Chiara that really hold this book together.
There’s a great deal of character development and plotting that works so well in this book, even the villain of the piece is given a reason for his behaviour, of how trauma and pain has molded him into the cruel, detached bigot he has become at this point in the story.
In the modern day world, the past is awakened by the discovery of Giovanni’s diary and through this two people, who are feeling rather lost, connect with each other. It’s another layer from the author and the reader questions the connections we form in relationships, and how time alters our feelings and sometimes we lose a sense of what we had, or have lost. Can these things be regained? Or should we disconnect and find something more ‘real’ and ‘true’ in new experiences. I enjoyed the question of ‘what is real’ in these situations.
It’s a recommended read from me, so do consider The Lost Diary of Venice if you enjoy layered historical fiction with romance, war, culture, mystery and art – lovely escapism for 2020!
I was delighted to have been asked to join Marianne’s launch team for THE DOORS OF RIVERDELL, book one in the RIVERDELL SAGA. Marianne’s book and lots of bookish gifts arrived in the post; I met the other fabulous book launch team and began a journey of book chats, bookish activities and new bookish friendships.
I’m delighted to share my final review of THE DOORS OF RIVERDELL and also a couple of the lovely photographs I’ve designed along the journey, do keep an eye out for the lovely bookish candle from Wordsmith Candles.
And, of course, please keep scrolling for some bookish chat about THE DOORS OF RIVERDELL…
The book blurb
Isabelle Threlfall has always called Riverdell House, in the historic rural town of Ludlow, her home. But home has its complications. There’s her Aunt Elsa angling for commitment, cousin Hester to avoid and the failure of her long-term relationship to face. Working away seems the best solution but when Elsa’s eldest son dies and her two estranged grandchildren, Moth and Nat, arrive at Riverdell, Isabelle is called home to help.
Kit de Lavelle is hard on her heels. He’s waited fifteen years for Isabelle to ditch her childhood sweetheart and adore him instead but he’s about to discover that closing the doors to his own past is harder than expected.
As Moth and Isabelle form a close bond trading family secrets and avoiding their own, Elsa finds courage in her memories to face the truth she has hidden from them all. But as the future is decided will Moth and Isabelle still be able to call Riverdell their home?
Step behind the gleaming doors of Riverdell and into the troubled waters of the family.
My thoughts: The Doors of Riverdell by Marianne Rosen
The Doors of Riverdell is told via four narrative perspectives, one rooted in the past and three more individual voices of Kit, Isabelle and Moth, who are our guides to life at Riverdell and beyond in this first book of a four part saga. This is one of those books where concentration is required, as, like most first meetings, the reader needs to adjust to timeframes, characters, and connections as we ease into Rosen’s world. I love the concept of storytelling through the setting of a real character house; Riverdell is one of those buildings that is meticulously designed for the reader and the idea of home is an important aspect of the novel and for its characters.
What is clear from the onset is that the cast of characters are very human: flawed, contradictory, unsure, overconfident, sluggish, uncertain, and questionable. The focus of this first book is on three characters in particular, the adrift Isabelle, the brash Kit, and the conflicted Moth. I would also keep in mind that this book is a narrative that runs across four books, and therefore so do the character arcs; there’s a lot of development during this first book that may not be fulfilling for the reader by the closing lines of this part of the saga.
It is also worth noting there are sexual scenes interspersed throughout the novel, and at first, I admit I found these rather jarring and stylistically slightly disjointing. From the blurb and style of the book, I was not expecting the tone and nature of some of the sexual encounters, both described and implied. However, on reflection I began to see Rosen’s intentions behind them; she is trying to be true to her characters’ natures and their behaviours with one another: their sexualities are an inbuilt and intrinsically human part of that.
Nature and environment are strong factors in the narrative and I really enjoyed the sense of place and setting throughout. The organic qualities of the nature world served as an indelible link to those living at Riverdell and connected their pasts, present and futures in beautifully detailed descriptions. This ingrained sense of nature in the book is superb and the author’s love of Ludlow is rooted solidly throughout.
With themes of community, self, family, sexuality, identity, the past’s hold on our futures, home, and connections – The Doors of Riverdell is an exciting start to a new literary saga. If you enjoy family dramas, I can certainly recommend you walk through both the literal and metaphorical doors of Riverdell in this first book of Rosen’s four-part series.
Marianne Rosen was apprenticed to a master upholsterer for six years before setting up her own interior consultation business, specialising in grand houses and fabrics. Along the way, she gained a degree in Literature, became an English language teacher, a semi-professional dancer and taught cabaret. By the time she was 36, she had lived in 36 houses, carting her large collection of books around with her. That same year, she met her partner, a fourth-generation farmer who lives in the house he was born in. They live on an organic farm in a Grade 2 listed farmhouse on the Shropshire-Herefordshire border. Marianne is part of the Hay Writers’ Group and has performed her work at Hay Festival. She writes modern family sagas that explore the longing for home and the need to belong. When not writing she likes to take off in her old VW T4 to research what she might write next. Her debut novel, The Doors of Riverdell, is out on 25th November 2020.
It’s lovely to be chatting about ‘Play the Red Queen’ by Juris Jurjevics, with thanks to Anne for the tour invite.
Vietnam, 1963. A female Viet Cong assassin is trawling the boulevards of Saigon, catching US Army officers off-guard with a single pistol shot, then riding off on the back of a scooter. Although the US military is not officially in combat, sixteen thousand American servicemen are stationed in Vietnam “advising” the military and government. Among them are Ellsworth Miser and Clovis Robeson, two army investigators who have been tasked with tracking down the daring killer.
Initially my interest was piqued for this book because I was about to teach a USA Vietnam unit at school and thought it would add nicely to the backdrop of my planning.
It’s Saigon during the 60s at a time of unrest and war; Jurjevics’ historical fiction novel is set in a backdrop of political unrest, brutality and social distraction and frames a story of an assassin, a lady of death: the Red Queen. The reader follows two military CID investigators tasked with the uncovering the Red Queen assassin before she strikes again. The task is far from simple and the challenges are seemingly unsurmountable at times creating narrative interest and drive for the reader.
I enjoyed the investigator aspect of the book, even if all the pieces didn’t fuse together completely for me; the backdrop is both a fascinating and terrible time of a country trapped through war and I found this quite fascinating. The writing was often immersive, and I enjoyed the atmosphere Jurjevics creates; there’s clearly a great deal of research behind the narrative of a torn and breaking land with it’s politically charged themes.
As I said at the start, I’m about to teach a USA Vietnam War unit at school, so I enjoyed the setting as a useful planning tool for my own study and understanding: with the added thriller read bonus of a hunt for an elusive assassin.
A carefully plotted thriller with injected realism; a deeply readable historical setting and a nail-biting plot to capture a shifty, highly trained assassin – this is a recommended read for those who enjoy historical settings and political thrillers.
The Blog Tour
Juris Jurjevics (1943-2018) was born in Latvia and grew up in Displaced Persons camps in Germany before emigrating to the United States. He served in Vietnam for fourteen months, nine days, and two hours, his original departure date delayed by the Tet Offensive. He wrote two other novels, Red Flags and The Trudeau Vector, which was published in ten other countries. Publisher and co-founder of the Soho Press, Jurjevics worked for decades in the book industry.
It’s lovely to be a part of the blog tour to celebrate Sarah Franklin’s How to Belong, please do keep scrolling for some bookish chat…
Jo grew up in the Forest of Dean, but she was always the one destined to leave for a bigger, brighter future. When her parents retire from their butcher’s shop, she returns to her beloved community to save the family legacy, hoping also to save herself. But things are more complex than the rose-tinted version of life which sustained Jo from afar.
Tessa is a farrier, shoeing horses two miles and half a generation away from Jo, further into the forest. Tessa’s experience of the community couldn’t be more different. Now she too has returned, in flight from a life she could have led, nursing a secret and a past filled with guilt and shame.
Compelled through circumstance to live together, these two women will be forced to confront their sense of identity, and reconsider the meaning of home.
Firstly, I love the natural simplicity of the cover design for How to Belong. I love nature and the idea of a forest setting really appealed to me. I was not let down by Franklin; her writing is so vivid, the senses leap from the pages and the richness of the descriptive detail creates the perfect setting backdrop for a book of insightful observations of human behaviour, of challenges, disillusionment, trauma, hardships, defiance and illness.
I enjoyed the relationship between the two central, contrasting women (Jo and Tessa) and the sense of realism to the writing of their characters. Their friendship becomes a narrative drive for the reader and a revelation for the characters when building their futures. All this is explored in a slow paced, explorative way with a strong personal spirit behind the writing.
A story of community, of human nature and the depth of our interactions: of difference and connections. I thought this was a beautifully written book; a story of women, of place and the communities that frame them.
A sensitively and beautifully written story that I’d very happily recommend for readers looking for a reflective novel with both strength and hope at its heart.
Last year, I read Kenneth Bromberg’s debut novel American Dreams, so was really pleased to join the blog tour to celebrate his latest release The City of Angels. Please do keep scrolling to find out more about this murder mystery thriller, set in 1920s America.
FLAME TREE PRESS is the new fiction imprint of Flame Tree Publishing. Launched in 2018 the list brings together brilliant new authors and the more established; the award winners, and exciting, original voices.
The year is 1924.
Sam Lacy, tough as nails robbery/homicide detective follows his own unique code of conduct within the racist and corrupt Los Angeles Police Department. Edward Bixby, a brilliant man fascinated by anything scientific, assists with the forensic aspects of Sam’s investigations but his work must stay on the down low since the LAPD would never hire a black man for anything as important as detective work.
Sam’s sister, Susan, widowed mother and sharpshooter, is the most important person in his life. And Lonny, Sam’s handsome, cynical partner, sports a caviler attitude that hides a troubled past. Together they must solve the murder of Sam’s old flame and deal with a ruthless and powerful predator who victimizes vulnerable young Chinese immigrants. Their story takes place in the movie capital of the world, a city that attracts hustlers, wide-eyed innocents and cold-hearted killers; a City of Angels.
Bromberg’s City of Angels opens like a movie, I was cast back into films such as LA Confidential, The Big Sleep and The Untouchables as our protagonist is introduced to the reader via a hotbed of corruption and bribery. Sam Lacey is a homicide detective and he’s a tough one; he’s certainly not afraid to come down heavy, we see this from the onset, but he’s soon caught up with a formidable adversary and a crime scene that’s personal.
This is a multi-perspective read; the events of the prologue soon lead to murder and Lacey is hurtled into a homicide that is more connected to him than he would like. He’s a determined character and uses his strength of opinion to want a controversial person investigating the case: Edward Bixby, an intelligent and thorough forensic expert, who cannot live to his potential due to the controlling racism of the time. Bromberg layers the narrative voices, and Bixby story draws in the horrific racism of the Southern states and adds depth to both the character and time-period.
The female is represented by Susan, Sam’s sister; she is very important to Sam and this relationship also shows exploitation and abuse of the system. Of Velma, a black America whose skin colour is perceived as a ‘free-ride’ for the unscrupulous. It is also introduced via woman who are trying to cut a break in Hollywood but find the reality is actually brutal and degrading.
This is a deep, layered novel with themes of abuse, racism, drugs, corruption and the fight for justice, no matter if you need to severely blur the lines: our Angels are not afraid to put away their wings for a while to get the job done.
With thanks to Flame Tree Press and Random Things Tours for the opportunity to read City of Angels.
The Blog Tour
Please do check out these other bloggers and their thoughts on City of Angels
Kenneth Bromberg grew up in the beach cities of Southern California with a passion for tennis, American history, and literature. His first novel, American Dreams, is based upon stories told by his grandmother, who emigrated from a small Jewish village near Kiev in the first years of the 20th century.