blog tour · book review · comedy · crime · Nordic

Blog Tour ‘n’ Book Review – The Rabbit Factor

An insurance mathematician’s carefully ordered life is turned on its head when he unexpectedly loses his job and inherits an adventure park … with a whole host of problems. A quirky, tense and warmly funny thriller from award-winning Finnish author Antti Tuomainen.

What makes life perfect? Insurance mathematician Henri Koskinen knows the answer because he calculates everything down to the very last decimal.

And then, for the first time, Henri is faced with the incalculable. After suddenly losing his job, Henri inherits an adventure park from his brother – its peculiar employees and troubling financial problems included. The worst of the financial issues appear to originate from big loans taken from criminal quarters … and some dangerous men are very keen to get their money back.

But what Henri really can’t compute is love. In the adventure park, Henri crosses paths with Laura, an artist with a chequered past, and a joie de vivre and erratic lifestyle that bewilders him. As the criminals go to extreme lengths to collect their debts and as Henri’s relationship with Laura deepens, he finds himself faced with situations and emotions that simply cannot be pinned down on his spreadsheets…

Warmly funny, rich with quirky characters and absurd situations, The Rabbit Factor is a triumph of a dark thriller, its tension matched only by its ability to make us rejoice in the beauty and random nature of life.

“It contains all the main elements of a dark crime/comedy mixed with a peculiar love story that is destined to move and engage the audience. Fans of the Finnish author’s previous work should definitely read this one and the same goes to all those who love quirky crime novels with unique characterization. I will be eagerly waiting for the second installment in the series.” Tap the Line

“Full of refreshing wit and wisdom, this comic departure from the usual Scandi noir is a treat.” — Publishers Weekly starred review

‘Laconic, thrilling and warmly human. In these uncertain times, what better hero than an actuary?’ —Chris Brookmyre

‘The funniest writer in Europe, and one of the very finest. There is a beautiful rhythm and poetry to the prose … original and brilliant story-telling’ —Helen FitzGerald

You don’t expect to laugh when you’re reading about terrible crimes, but that’s what you’ll do when you pick up one of Tuomainen’s decidedly quirky thrillers’ —New York Times

The Rabbit Factor is a triumph, a joyous, feel-good antidote to troubled times‘ —Kevin Wignall

The Rabbit Factor is an astounding read. It has the suspenseful twists of a thriller, the laugh-out-loud moments of a comedy and a tragic dimension that brings a tear to the eye’ —Crime Fiction Lover

‘Antti Tuomainen turns the clichéd idea of dour, humourless Scandi noir upside down with The Rabbit Factor. Dark, gripping and hilarious … Tuomainen is the Carl Hiaasen of the fjords‘ —Martyn Waites

‘British readers might think they know what to expect from Nordic noir: a tortured detective, a bleak setting, a brutal crime that shakes a small community. Finnish crime novelist Tuomainen turns all of this on its head … The ear of a giant plastic rabbit becomes a key weapon. It only gets darker and funnier’ —Guardian

‘The antic novels of Antti Tuomainen prove that comedy is not lost in translation … Tuomainen, like Carl Hiaasen before him, has the knack of combining slapstick with genuine emotion‘ —The Times

About the author & translator

Finnish Antti Tuomainen was an award-winning copywriter when he made his literary debut in 2007 as a suspense author in 2013, the Finnish press crowned Tuomainen the ‘King of Helsinki Noir’ when Dark as My Heart was published. With a piercing and evocative style, Tuomainen was one of the first to challenge the Scandinavian crime genre formula, and his poignant, dark and hilarious The Man Who Died became an international bestseller, shortlisting for the Petrona and Last Laugh Awards. Palm Beach Finland was an immense success, with Marcel Berlins (The Times) calling Tuomainen ‘the funniest writer in Europe’. Little Siberia (2020), was shortlisted for the CWA International Dagger, the Amazon Publishing/Capital Crime Awards and the CrimeFest Last Laugh Award, and won the Petrona Award for Best Scandinavian Crime Novel of the Year. The Rabbit Factor (2021), the first book in Antti’s first ever series, is in production by Amazon Studios with Steve Carell starring. The Moose Paradox, book two in the series is out in 2022.

David Hackston is a British Translator of Finnish and Swedish literature and drama. Notable publications include The Dedalus Book of Finnish Fantasy, Maria Peura’s coming-of-age novel At the Edge of Light, Johanna Sinisalo’s eco-thriller Birdbrain, two crime novels by Matti Joensuu and Kati Hiekkapelto’s Anna Fekete series (which currently includes The HummingbirdThe Defenceless and The Exiled, all published by Orenda Books). He also translates Antti Tuomainen’s stories. In 2007 he was awarded the Finnish State Prize for Translation. David is also a professional countertenor and a founding member of the English Vocal Consort of Helsinki. Follow David on Twitter @Countertenorist

My Review

Hmm, how to define this: to say it’s not your typical Nordic crim novel would be a massive understatement. I don’t generally find much to laugh about in such novels, but The Rabbit Factor is funny, quirky, heart-warming and a crime novel.

Henri Koskinen is the most unlikely man to run an adventure park (not an amusement park, as he will tell you frequently), he’s even less likely to kill someone. He’s an actuary! A numbers man. Not a killer. And you probably wouldn’t expect a romantic encounter either … so, be warned – nothing here is as it seems at first glance!

The story starts with Henri “quitting” his job because he cannot live with all the team-building and jargon-busting changes brought in by his boss. Faced with a choice of sitting in a basement office, poring over old accounts, or being more of a team player, he quits. The laws of probability comfort him, he’s certain he’ll find a new job within days.

And he does, just not in insurance. A lawyer advises him of his brother’s death and the inheritance of YouMeFun, an expansive adventure park. With no other plans holding him back, Henri visits the park and meets the staff – a motley crew of individuals who keep the park ticking over, and they’re not doing a bad job as visitor numbers prove. So why does the park have so many debts? What was his brother involved in? Henri’s questions are answered when two men (thugs) visit the park to inform him of his brother’s substantial debts, debts which they say have now passed to him.

As you might expect, Henri is not too happy about this, nor about the consequences of not paying. His only option is to devise a way to repay the money – hey presto, Mr Actuary comes up with a money laundering plan that should in theory pay the debts and enable him to keep the park going. You see, he’s grown rather fond of the park, and of one staff member in particular.

The plan is launched and the waiting game for the payoff begins … Henri’s new life couldn’t be farther removed from his old one. But does it pay the dividends expected of it? Can Henri truly fit into this new lifestyle, dodging gangster-type thugs and following his brother’s wish to keep the park business afloat? Well, that would be telling … as there is way more involved that Henri could possibly have calculated, suggesting there is more to life than the numbers in his spreadsheet.

The story is engaging, amusing, awkward and complex – an original crime novel from start to finish. Highly recommended.

PS – the translation is amazing, seamless, and effortlessly easy to read without losing any of the author’s voice.

As always,

blog tour · book review · cosy · crime · mystery · series

Blog tour ‘n’ Book Review – Murder at the Summer Fete

Murder At The Summer Fete

A fete worse than death…

After finding the killer of Lucy Roth six months ago, life has settled back to normal for bookshop owner, Nancy Hunter, and her grandmother, Jane. The annual Dedley End village fete is just around the corner, and Nancy is delighted when bestselling author, Thomas Green, agrees to launch his first new novel in ten years there.

But then a series of sinister events lead Nancy to realise someone is trying to sabotage their fete, so she, along with Jane and their journalist friend Jonathan, must turn detective to discover who isn’t at all thrilled about the return of Thomas Green.

When a body is discovered at the summer fete, the death scene mirroring that in Thomas’ latest bestseller, they realise that there’s another killer in Dedley End, but can they outsmart someone who appears to have pulled off the perfect crime?

The clues are right under Nancy and Jane’s noses, if only they can find them. Because the answers to life’s questions can always be found in a book…!

A twisty, unputdownable cozy mystery that fans of Richard Osman, S.J. Bennett and The Marlow Murder Club will love.

Purchase Links

AMZ: https://amzn.to/3HE7928

Kobo: https://bit.ly/3JLSUtX

Apple: https://apple.co/3zDUyte

Author Bio

Victoria Walters writes up-lifting and inspiring stories. She’s the author of the bestselling GLENDALE HALL series, which continues with its third book HOPEFUL HEARTS at GLENDALE HALL in September, as well as two other standalone novels – SUMMER at the KINDNESS CAFE, and THE SECOND LOVE of my LIFE. She has been chosen for WHSmith Fresh Talent and shortlisted for two RNA awards. Victoria was also picked as an Amazon Rising Star, and her books have won wide reader acclaim.

Victoria is a full-time author. She lives in Surrey with her cat Harry, and loves books, clothes, music, going out for tea and cake, and posting photos on Instagram.

Find out more about Victoria by following on Instagram at @vickyjwalters, on Twitter at @Vicky_Walters or by visiting her blog at:https://victoria-writes.com/

My Review

It was wonderful to return to Dedley End and the bookshop run by Nancy and her grandmother, Jane. Since last we met, after the murder up at the house on the hill, life in the village has returned to its normal tranquillity. In fact, for both Nancy and Jane, things are a little too quiet which is why they have invested so much time and effort into the upcoming summer fete. Having arranged for a very successful crime writer to launch his latest book at the fete, the level of excitement and anticipation is high. Author Thomas Green grew up in a nearby village before getting an agent and a book deal in London.

What Nancy and Jane, and best friend Jonathan don’t realise is that Thomas Green’s return will not be so widely welcomed, especially among those who knew him in his younger days. Green is reluctant to talk about those days too, which begs the question why.

It takes an act of “vandalism” and threats to spark the sleuths’ interest in Green’s background, but not even they are ready to see another case of murder in Dedley End.

As before, the relationship between the main characters is endearing as are their endeavours to get to the bottom of things. At the outset I thought I knew the motive for the murder but the case almost seemed to be resolved … until Nancy feels the same sense of unease at justice not really having been done and so, encouraged by Jane and Jonathan, she digs further … and finds the real reason behind it. I’m glad to say my initial deductions were correct, and I applaud the author for making me second guess myself. The twisty nature of solving the crime was most enjoyable (and not just because I was proved right 🙂 )

The author picks up the trail of information we learned in book one about the culprit behind Nancy’s father’s death and now the story takes another personal twist in delivery Nancy another mystery, this time to do with her mother who left the family home when Nancy was very young. The author combines well Nancy’s personal family history with mysteries in Dedley End and that combination makes for an interesting, yet fun read, but also leaves me wanting more.

I’ll be looking out for the next book in the series.

For more news and reviews,

As always,

cosy · cover reveal · crime · mystery · series

Cover Reveal – Murder at the Summer Fete

Are you ready to return to Dedley End? I know I am. Murder at The House on the Hill was one of my favourite reads in 2021, a cosy mystery in essence but with a modern vibe. Consequently, I am so delighted to reveal the cover for book two in The Dedley End Mysteries by Victoria Walker … and here it is:

A fete worse than death…

After finding the killer of Lucy Roth six months ago, life has settled back to normal for bookshop owner, Nancy Hunter, and her grandmother, Jane. The annual Dedley End village fete is just around the corner, and Nancy is delighted when bestselling author, Thomas Green, agrees to launch his first new novel in ten years there.

But then a series of sinister events lead Nancy to realise someone is trying to sabotage their fete, so she, along with Jane and their journalist friend Jonathan, must turn detective to discover who isn’t at all thrilled about the return of Thomas Green.

When a body is discovered at the summer fete, the death scene mirroring that in Thomas’ latest bestseller, they realise that there’s another killer in Dedley End, but can they outsmart someone who appears to have pulled off the perfect crime?

The clues are right under Nancy and Jane’s noses, if only they can find them. Because the answers to life’s questions can always be found in a book…!

A twisty, unputdownable cozy mystery that fans of Richard Osman, S.J. Bennett and The Marlow Murder Club will love.

Praise for Victoria Walters’ Dedley End Mysteries cozy crime series:

Superb sleuthing! I thoroughly enjoyed my trip to Dedley End and can’t wait to go back!’ Heidi Swain, author of Underneath the Christmas Tree

‘Such a fab book – really puts the cosy in cosy crime!’ M. A. Kuzniar, author of Midnight in Everwood

‘This is a brilliant ‘whodunnit’ which gave me some serious Miss Marple feels… it’s absolutely brilliant and a pleasure to read’ Head in a Book18

‘I loved this brilliant cozy read… it felt very Christie-esque. Nancy and Jane were fab, I loved their relationship. And I can’t wait for more.’ ☆☆☆☆☆ Reader Review

‘Even gave me some Murder, she wrote vibes… I truly enjoyed reading this funny, cosy mystery’ Tizi’s Book Review

‘What an absolute delight this was to read… I was still guessing whodunnit until the end.’ Wrong Side of Forty UK

‘A delightful detective duo, a charming and clever cosy mystery.’ Diane Jeffrey, author of The Silent Friend

‘A cosy, satisfying and enjoyable murder mystery full of intrigue… and even better, with a bookshop too!’ Ella Allbright, author of The Last Charm

The book is available to preorder now with a release date of 17th March 2022. I’m in … are you?

As always,

book review · cosy · crime · recommended

Book Review – The Appeal

IN A TOWN FULL OF SECRETS
SOMEONE WAS MURDERED.
SOMEONE WENT TO PRISON.
AND EVERYONE’S A SUSPECT.
CAN YOU UNCOVER THE TRUTH?

Dear Reader – enclosed are all the documents you need to solve a case. It starts with the arrival of two mysterious newcomers to the small town of Lockwood, and ends with a tragic death.

Someone has already been convicted of this brutal murder and is currently in prison, but we suspect they are innocent. What’s more, we believe far darker secrets have yet to be revealed.

Throughout the Fairway Players’ staging of All My Sons and the charity appeal for little Poppy Reswick’s life-saving medical treatment, the murderer hid in plain sight. Yet we believe they gave themselves away. In writing. The evidence is all here, between the lines, waiting to be discovered.

Will you accept the challenge? Can you uncover the truth?

The standout debut thriller of 2021 that delivers multiple brilliant twists, and will change the way you think about the modern crime novel. 

Purchase link: Amazon UK

Add to Goodreads

About the Author

Janice Hallett is a former magazine editor, award-winning journalist and government communications writer. She wrote articles and speeches for, among others, the Cabinet Office, Home Office and Department for International Development. Her enthusiasm for travel has taken her around the world several times, from Madagascar to the Galapagos, Guatemala to Zimbabwe, Japan, Russia and South Korea. A playwright and screenwriter, she penned the feminist Shakespearean stage comedy NetherBard and co-wrote the feature film Retreat, a psychological thriller starring Cillian Murphy, Thandiwe Newton and Jamie Bell. The Appeal is her first novel.

My Review

Five Fabulous Stars

To say this book is unconventional in its format might make a reader walk away. If that’s you, then stop! Come back! I thought the same. A story told through emails, text messages, sticky notes and legal documents sounds like a lot of work for the reader, but it quickly becomes all-engrossing to the extent that you won’t be able to read one more message, then another and another until you’re so far in the only way out is by reading on.

It surprised me too. I’d seen so many dazzling reviews; they couldn’t all be wrong. And, trust me, they weren’t.

This witty thriller is giving Richard Osmond’s Thursday Murder Club a run for its money in the cosy crime stakes, as it continues to charm readers. Hallett’s debut, set in a sleepy town where an am-dram production of All My Sons is in the works, is funny and full of twists. Amateur sleuths and thespians alike will love it ― Evening Standard

This ingeniously conceived whodunnit encourages the reader to turn detective in a murder case set against the backdrop of an amateur dramatic club. Brain-twistingly clever ― Metro

[A] daring debut… Hallett will soon have you laughing out loud… The Appeal is clever and funny ― The Times


From the book’s description you learn that someone has been murdered and everyone is a suspect. Now, together with law students Femi and Charlotte, you get the chance to put the pieces together to find out what happened. Go!

The story runs alongside the performance of Arthur Miller’s All My Sons by an amateur dramatics group. Newcomers to the village are persuaded to attend the casting auditions as a way to get to know everyone. But before the casting is even decided, it’s revealed that the director’s granddaughter has brain cancer and treatment, although experimental, is only available in the US. Instantly, the group make plans to raise the necessary funds as they rehearse and perform the play. It’s the old adage that it takes a village to raise a child.
The family are the linchpin of the village, the people “you want to know” and by whom you want to be accepted. Being in that inner circle is, for many, a privilege, and offering to help with the fundraising a means to gain recognition with the “powers that be”.

The newcomers, however, do not have that sense of needing to be accepted and, perhaps, are the best eyes through which to watch events play out. They are encouraged to participate by Izzy, who for some reason has attached herself to them like a limpet, often volunteering to be a go-between for them. Izzy is hugely unaware of her “standing” within the community, and it seems ignorant of how she is perceived by others. Her actions are deeply amusing and sad. She seems to be super generous and thoughtful whilst also verging on annoying – you know the type, right? For me, she is a key character in bringing out the true personality of other characters. Their “tolerance” of her varies, creating some laugh-out-loud moments but not without episodes of cringeworthy desperation and frustration. What amazed me was how the author was able to bring out so many personality traits in the characters’ messages – from the straightforward, no nonsense tactlessness of some to the almost hero-worshipping of others. So refreshingly creative and effective. I couldn’t quite believe how absorbed I became in this story. Amid a tale of a family facing the ultimate challenge in saving the life of a young child to rumours of wrongdoings in Africa, it all comes together beautifully.

Without any spoilers, this is one very clever cosy mystery: witty, poignant, delightfully addictive, hugely satisfying, and (for once I’ll say this myself) unputdownable! I’ve already got the author’s next book on my Kindle and cannot wait for the right kind of rainy day to settle down and get stuck in. Easily one of my favourite books this year.

Enjoy!

As always,

book review · cold case · crime · serial killer · thriller & crime

Book Review – The Family Man

A householder who is clearing out the loft comes across a carefully concealed box containing a video camera.

When he plugs it in, unsure due to its age that it will even play, what he sees there has him immediately calling the police.

Senior Sergeant Veronika Pope and her team in the Special Crime Squad study the footage of the torture of four individuals held captive, all physically and mentally abused.

Assured this is no hoax, although all indications are that this happened long in the past, the team races to trace the identity of the victims.

Someone got away with murder once, will Sergeant Pope permit them to do so again?

THE FAMILY MAN is a gripping suspense thriller with a creepy edge.

Anna Willett is the bestselling author of DEAR NEIGHBOUR, UNWELCOME GUESTS, PEST and many other gripping thrillers. Her books are set in South Western Australia.

Published August 1st 2021 by The Book Folks
https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/58707732-the-family-man

My Review

I received a copy of The Family Man from the author in return for an honest review. Anna Willett is a new-to-me author, but she has a back catalogue of books that I’m now very keen to check out.

The Family Man starts with the young couple doing up their new house and stumbling across an old camcorder which they doubt even works nowadays. But it does, and the footage it reveals leads them to calling the police immediately.

Detective Veronika Pope runs a team investigating cold cases. On seeing the tape, they realise its contents could solve several missing person cases – but the faces are hidden, and they only have the disturbing words of the victims’ voices. Will that be enough to identify them? Using the past ownership of the young couples’ new house as the first thread to unravel, they discover the owner is now dead. Even so, they still want to identify the victims if only to give their families some hope of closure.

Pursuing the evidence, they find a series of truly evil and abusive killings. The main perpetrator’s daughter seems reluctant to talk, but Pope and her team are dogged in their approach. Especially when it appears the killer had an accomplice … and another young woman has gone missing. Is the accomplice still at large, carrying out further torture and abuse?

Delving into years of anecdotes and reports, the team uncover more heinous beyond those in the original video. The case has blown up into something huge and the pressure is on to find the truth and the bodies of the victims.

The story is tense and addictive as the suspense ratchets up to a thrilling conclusion that puts Veronika in danger again. The characters are fully-fleshed with flaws and personal struggles running alongside their need to be professional and thorough. The Family Man makes for an exciting read, well-paced and satisfying. I’d recommend it to readers who enjoy crime fiction and police procedurals with plenty of delicious and suspenseful twists.

As always,

Amazon Reviewer Name


blog tour · book review · crime · police procedural · serial killer · series

Blog Tour ‘n’ Book Review – Retribution

Retribution

An ex-soldier is mown down in a brutal hit and run. Was it an accident, or an act of murder?

DCI Jane Birchfield isn’t sure. She is struggling to stay focussed after a surprise marriage proposal, and is still waiting for news about a promotion. But she has to push it all to one side as the investigation swiftly escalates into the biggest challenge she has ever faced, bringing her into conflict with her superiors, her partner, and the British Army. She’s tested to the absolute limit, and for the very first time, finds herself asking whether it’s worth the sacrifice. Can she survive the pressure as the harsh reality of military conflict hits the streets of Ashbridge?

Purchase Links

UK – https://www.amazon.co.uk/Retribution-Heaton-Wilson-ebook/dp/B098B9J9JN/

US – https://www.amazon.com/Retribution-Heaton-Wilson-ebook/dp/B098B9J9JN/

Author Bio

I have been a newspaper journalist, a postman, a public relations officer, a consultant, an actor, a director, a playwright. And I have always kept writing.

I always felt I could write a novel. And I did! The first book in my crime fiction series featuring DCI Jane Birchfield, Every Reason, came out in 2016. Whatever It Takes was published in 2021; and the third book (which follows on where Whatever It Takes ends) is nearing completion.

I’m from Manchester but now live on the Isle of Wight, where the sea is never far away. It’s the perfect place to be creative, and to walk the dogs.

Social Media Links

Twitter @kkevvin

Facebook http://facebook.com/heatonwilson

My Review

This is the first book I’ve read by this author, and I’ve already added the previous two in the series to my reading list.

The author wastes no time in kicking the story off with a bang as the first of several fatal hit-and-runs take place. The deceased is a decorated former soldier on his way home from a Friday night out at the pub. Was it an accident? That’s certainly how it’s viewed initially, until a second incident occurs involving another former soldier and one who served with the first victim. Members of DCI Jane Birchfield’s team are no longer convinced these are accidents.

The investigation gets going proper only after Jane can convince her new boss that it’s worth looking into. The two of them have history, and Jane feels she’s been sidelined for promotion when he is appointed in a role in which she had been acting chief for several months. Nonetheless, he’s happy for her to pursue her enquiries (only because he really has no clue how to run the investigation!) Fortunately, Jane can rely on her own small team who set to work.

Running alongside the plot are several personal stories that flesh out the characters and affect their approach to the job. Jane is super ambitious, feeling a little dejected right now, but determined to scale to greater heights. At home, her partner is considering selling his newspaper business so the two of them can spend more time together. An out-of-the-blue proposal muddies the waters further and put increased pressure on their relationship as they seem to diverge further apart with each passing day. Jane’s wine-gum loving DI is considering retirement, and Jane worries about losing him from the team and her life.

The killer is known by the reader early on, and some chapters are told from his POV. It’s interesting to see the detectives put the pieces together as they get closer to catching the murderer before another death occurs.

This was an excellent police procedural from start to finish, a perfect character-driven, exciting crime thriller. I’m looking forward to reading more about DCI Birchfield and her team.

For more news and reviews

As always,

book review · crime · NetGalley · suspense · tense

Book Review – The Midnight Man

From number one bestselling author Caroline Mitchell, comes the first chilling Slayton thriller for fans of C. J. Tudor and Stephen King.

If you open your door to the Midnight Man,

hide with a candle wherever you can.

Try not to scream as he draws near,

because one of you won’t be leaving here…

On Halloween night in Slayton, five girls go to Blackhall Manor to play the Midnight Game. They write their names on a piece of paper and prick their fingers to soak it in blood. At exactly midnight they knock on the door twenty-two times – they have invited the Midnight Man in.

It was supposed to be a game, but only four girls come home.

Detective Sarah Noble has just returned to the force, and no one knows more about Blackhall Manor than her. It’s a case that will take Sarah back to everything she’s been running from, and shake her to the core.

Will she be ready to meet the Midnight Man?

Add to Goodreads

Amazon UK

My Review

This book was – and still is – all over Twitter, and rave reviews led to my FOMO sending me to Netgalley to request a copy. I even hassled the publishers, praying I hadn’t been declined. Fortunately, my impatience was soon rewarded, and I settled in for what I hoped would be a thrilling read.

Jeez, did I luck out! It was everything I hoped for: tense, twisty and atmospheric. The poem in the blurb sets the scene perfectly for those five girls who prepare to play The Midnight Game. It’s legendary in Slayton, and something of a rite of passage for teens to seek out an abandoned building and dare to knock 22 times and let the Midnight Man in.

Blackhall Manor is something of legend itself, home to a series of deaths 25 years ago when the father of the household killed his family – parents, wife and children – before turning the gun on himself. Ever since, the house has been considered cursed, making it the perfect setting for The Midnight Man.

Unfortunately for the five girls invited to Blackhall Manor that Halloween, this is a game with deadly consequences. It begins as spooky fun, superstitious nonsense … until one girl goes missing. Now, you might expect the four remaining girls to ‘fess up and tell their parents where they’ve been, but no. The power of the message on their invitation – if you tell, you’ll go to hell – is so strong that they’re too scared of what might happen if they admit where they’ve been.

Detective Sarah Noble has just gone back to work after extended leave. Her backstory is complicated and multi-faceted, both elements that inject her personally into the case of the missing girl, and not merely in her role as a police officer. It affects how she is treated by her peers, and also how she feels about Blackhall Manor.

Her friend’s son, 7-year-old Elliot, is a kindred spirit. He’s been having visions of the hooded man in his nightmares. These visions extend to the missing girl, and later to others caught up in the game. He finds Sarah to be a safe haven, someone to whom he can reveal what he’s seen and who, as a police officer, can actually help. Elliot is the sweetest boy but he’s not easily fobbed off. He is per-cep-tive in every sense (as his teacher has told him) and he not only sees the Midnight Man, but he also sees through adults trying to use his abilities for their own end.

As evidence comes in, the police think they’ve found their man … but have they? Sarah has her doubts, but doesn’t feel able to share them at work. If she is going to prove herself capable as a detective, she’s going to have to revisit her past. Dun, dun, duuuuunnn …

I’ve not read anything by this author before, and I was super excited to get my hands on this one (Thank you Embla, Netgalley & Caroline). I’ll admit to being wary, as horror (the gory stuff) is so not my thing, but I’ll categorise this as creepy horror blended with twisty suspense and aspects of a police procedural. I’ll definitely be back for more.

As always,

blog tour · book review · crime · thriller & crime

Blog Tour ‘n’ Book Review – The Accused

The Accused

When Private Investigator Charlie Cameron agrees to take on a cold case, he is drawn back into Glasgow’s dark underworld…
Glasgow PI Charlie Cameron knew Kim Rafferty was bad news the moment they met. Desperate people always spelled trouble in his experience, and Mrs Rafferty was as desperate as they come. What she was asking for was insane. If he agreed to help the wife of the notorious East-End gangster, the consequences for them both could be fatal.
Twenty-four hours later, another betrayed woman with a hopeless case is pleading for Charlie’s help. The PI is her only chance to keep an innocent man from serving a second prison sentence for murders he didn’t commit.
Dennis Boyd is on the run, and as Charlie fights against the clock to keep him out of jail, he crosses a line that puts him on the wrong side of the law and pits him against his old friend and ally, DS Andrew Geddes.
As the body count grows, and the defence for his client falls apart bit by bit, Charlie refuses to accept the inevitable. But everyone has their limits – even the infamous Charlie Cameron. Will he be forced to admit that this case may be the one to beat him…

Purchase Link – https://amzn.to/2SxiAVD

Author Bio

Owen Mullen is a highly regarded crime author who splits his time between Scotland and the island of Crete.

In his earlier life he lived in London and worked as a musician and session singer.

Social Media Links

Facebook https://www.facebook.com/OwenMullenBooks

Twitterhttps://twitter.com/owenmullen6

Instagram https://www.instagram.com/owenmullen6/

Newsletter Sign Up Link https://bit.ly/OwenMullenNewsletter

Bookbub profile https://www.bookbub.com/authors/owen-mullen

My Review

When Kim Rafferty, the wife of the infamous Sean Rafferty, approaches Glasgow PI Charlie Cameron to help her leave her husband, even Charlie can’t deny having a few concerns about accepting her case. While Sean Rafferty pretends to be the face of respectability, everyone knows he is not a man to be crossed. If Charlie agrees to help Kim, he’ll be risking more than his livelihood if things go wrong. As much as he wants to help, the consequences are too high, and regrettably he has to turn her down. Will it be a decision he comes to regret or has he had a lucky escape?

Charlie turns his attention to another new case: a woman has sought him out to help a man newly released from prison. She’s certain that he was innocent of the crime that put him away for fifteen years, and she’s worried he’ll go after those who framed him … or worse, they’ll set him up a second time. Trouble is Dennis Boyd is in hiding after a rogue message led him to a car park and a dead body. It looks like Dennis is responsible, and even Charlie believes the only option Dennis has is to turn himself in. Until a second murder occurs – and this time Dennis could not have been responsible – now Charlie knows someone is setting Dennis up again, but proving it is another matter, and that’s assuming he can find Dennis in time and earn his trust.

Charlie’s been around the block awhile, and has made connections with the local police force, even if some relationships are strained, their is a mutual respect there (albeit subtly disguised at times). As Charlie gets closer to helping Dennis, he has to trust in those relationships … maybe a little too much.

There is betrayal around every corner as this fast-paced crime thriller gains momentum. As clever and utterly compelling as Boyd’s case is, Kim Rafferty’s situation intrudes into the story with a punch to the gut and runs alongside Boyd’s story. Sean Rafferty is a formidable enemy, and Charlie was wise to give the case a wide berth, but that doesn’t mean “out of sight, out of mind” when Charlie wonders if Kim managed to get away … her silence is deafening!

The Accused is gritty and addictive, hard-hitting and reflective. Hope and betrayal battle in equal measures for an outcome that is challenging and tense. Charlie is the kind of PI you can’t help but root for, but he does seem to walk a tightrope of danger to achieve the result he believes in. I’ll be reading more of Charlie’s exploits for sure.

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crime · police procedural · series

Book Review – Broken Girls

Brambles catch her dress, scratch her legs, pierce her feet. To escape, she’d had no option but to go barefoot. They’d been laughing together a few minutes before, but things can change in the blink of an eye…

The woman is dark-haired and young, judging by the short red dress. Any other signs of her identity have been erased during her long wait to be found, but it’s clear she was strangled: this was a passionate and personal murder.

D.I. Bernadette Noel knows that every second counts if she is to catch this killer, but she has no leads – until the discovery that the dead woman’s rings match a stolen property report, and the rings’ owner mentions Rosa, her missing nanny.

Just when Bernie and her team think they’re getting somewhere, a shocking discovery about Rosa – and the news that another young girl has been abducted – changes everything the team thought they knew about the case.

Laura is only twelve, and her parents are beside themselves with worry – but Bernie has an additional fear. Laura’s home is right next to the woods where their murder victim was found: are the cases connected?

When Bernie notices similarities between descriptions of the man last seen with Rosa and someone Laura was messaging online, these fears grow stronger. But they still have no clear leads as to the identity of the culprit.

With few options left, and time running out, she makes a desperate plan to trap the predator. But any mistakes will mean another innocent life lost…

A gripping crime thriller with a nail-biting climax. If you like Angela Marsons, Val McDermid or Cara Hunter, you’ll love Joy Kluver.

Readers can’t get enough of Joy Kluver:

Wow!! Just wow!!… This book is brilliant! More than brilliant, amazing!!!… Absolutely gripping, addictive and captivating… I was absolutely hooked from the first page to the last. I had a complete shock at the twists… Love, love, loved all the characters!!!… I would love to see this made into a movie.’ Bookworm86 ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐

I read it in a few greedy gulps…It gets a very easy five stars from me… gave me goosebumps as I was reading it… If you haven’t yet started this series, then you really need toTop stuff!’ Hooked From Page One ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐

More red herrings than an Agatha Christie will have you burning the midnight oil… When the killer was identified my jaw hit the floor. I couldn’t have been more shocked if the perpetrator had been Bernie herself.’ Goodreads reviewer ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐

That ending! Talk about a twist you won’t see coming!… This is such an addictive series… I don’t know how I’m going to make it until the next one comes out!’ Goodreads reviewer ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐

Impossible to put down. I downloaded it this Monday morning, and by evening, I had finished. The rollercoaster was intense, the twists and turns unexpected, and the element of surprise insane… gripping read.’ Goodreads reviewer ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐

Twisted, intense and heartbreaking… Once you start this book you just can’t put it down! Out of all the books that I have read this year none of them shocked me as much. There was one twist that I literally was yelling and screaming at the character!!!’ Heidi Lynn’s Book Reviews ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐

‘I am blown away by this book, the twists and turns are mind-boggling!… BRILLIANT… If I could I would give it more than 5 stars.’ Goodreads reviewer ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐

Brilliant… had me eagerly turning the pages as I not only wanted to know more about the crime but also about the investigating team… I adored this… A story that takes a dark turn, has several surprises and kept me on my toes.’ Vonnibee ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐

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My Review

The author’s first book, Last Seen, left me with great expectations for book 2, and boy did she exceed them. I read this in two sessions, not wanting to put it down. Doesn’t happen often!

Broken Girls is one of those police procedurals in which you get a in-depth, behind-the-scenes look at the investigation team, and Bernie Noel’s team is one you can have absolute faith that they’ll solve the crime in spite of all the obstacles thrown at them. They have tenacity as well as personality.

Broken Girls begins with the gruesome finding of a young woman’s body, her face unidentifiable and extracting DNA impossible. Even when they finally get a whiff of her identify, things go all kinds of crazy leaving them virtually back at square one. But Bernie is nothing if not determined; she will get justice for the victim. Once again she is aided again by her fabulous team, including the very welcome return of DS Doug Anderson and they turn over ever stone despite the intrusion of her boss DCI Worth, aptly nicknamed Worthless – a selfish, petty man who feigns interest if only to protect himself and his forthcoming retirement.

Out of work, Bernie’s private life has its ups and downs and the atmosphere between her and Doug Anderson brings its own extra zing to their working relationship. The book’s ending – once the case is closed – is sure to stir things up deliciously for book 3.

Joy Kluver is an author I’ll be following from now on, and if you enjoy excellent crime dramas, then be sure to get this series.

As always,


book review · crime · series · thriller

Book Review – Little Girl Taken

Little Girl Taken – Wendy Dranfield

Rain rattles through the trees as she leans into the car, careful not to touch anything. Two pretty blue eyes stare back through the dark, wide with relief, or maybe fear. A baby girl, wrapped up in a pink snowsuit, reaches out a tiny hand. Her mother is nowhere to be found…

An abandoned baby is the last thing Detective Madison Harper expects to find as she drives to her first day back at work since the case that ripped her life apart. But as she cradles the shivering child close, all her instincts tell her there’s something more sinister at play. Then she finds a lone sneaker down a muddy trail nearby, the laces spattered with blood…

In a town as small as Lost Creek, Colorado, the baby and the shoe are quickly identified as belonging to Kacie Larson, a waitress at the local diner who quietly stashed away her tips to make a better life for her daughter. A mother herself, Madison can’t believe that Kacie would just abandon her child, but she also can’t convince her new team. Not for the first time, Madison feels she must go it alone to get the job done.

But when a body is pulled from a nearby lake, and it’s not Kacie, the case takes an agonizing turn. Is this missing mother really who she says she is? Is there a chance she’s still alive? Madison barely has time to think before the sweet little girl she rescued is snatched on a crowded street. Gone, in the blink of an eye.

To break this case and earn her place back on the force, Madison must learn to trust her team, and herself again—and fast. If she doesn’t find this twisted individual in time, a little girl could die…

A pulse-pounding, absolutely gripping and totally addictive page-turner that will have you racing through the pages and reeling at the twists. Perfect for fans of Melinda Leigh, Lisa Regan and Kendra Elliot, you’ll be sleeping with the lights on!

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My Review

From the first book in the Detective Madison Harper series, I was hooked on both the original backstory of the main characters and the obstacles they faced in getting some degree of normality back into their lives. Last we met, Madison had found out who was behind her wrongful incarceration which saw her spend six years in prison, six years away from the job she loved and six long years away from her beloved son, Owen. In Little Girl Taken, Madison is about to start her first day back at Lost Creek Police Department as a detective. She’s nervous and excited, knowing it won’t be easy for her to trust her fellow officers immediately and expecting some backlash from the community. Luckily for her (if I can call it lucky) she doesn’t have time to let those thoughts fester as she finds a car in a ditch, inside which a baby girl lies, alone and crying.

So begins the case to find out who the child is and where the driver of the vehicle is, assuming said driver is the child’s mother. Reports of a missing waitress lead her to believe the missing woman is a waitress at a local diner.

Meanwhile, Nate, the other main character, returns from visiting his good friend, Rex, not really knowing why he has gone back to Lost Creek now that Madison has her life sorted, her son is back with her and she has her job to keep her busy. Nate, however, knows he cannot settle until Father Connor has been caught, and disturbing messages from the priest who set him up for the murder of his fiancée, torment him regularly. Progress has been made in that he’s stopped his drug use since visiting Rex, but the temptation is still there to drag him down into that dark spiral of depression.

Madison has her hands full: she and Owen are struggling to communicate well, he’s not the young boy she was forced to leave behind anymore; also, at the police department, she has been partnered with the very officer who put her away. Now that he is struggling himself, she finds herself bearing the brunt of their work and the two of them still have both different approaches to the job and very different views on getting the job done. She’s also worried about Nate. She wants to help him, but is so busy, and she’s concerned he might leave Lost Creek and hunt for Father Connor by himself.

Little Girl Taken sees Madison take on her first major case with gusto and empathy, digging deep in the the missing mother’s life to reveal a tragic and heartbreaking tale of untreated trauma. The path Madison takes to learn these facts is deliciously convoluted as the author drops clues like confetti. The way the story twists and turns makes it an absolute page-turner. Added to Madison’s complicated life, poor Nate isn’t having a great time either when yet more tragedy befalls him, putting him back on the police’s radar for another murder. He knows Father Connor is behind matters, and can delay no longer in hunting him down. It’s dramatic, tense and excrutiatingly difficult to watch Nate break down. He will need to rely on Madison to get him through this latest episode.

This is a very clever crime thriller that had me second guessing everyone in Lost Creek at some point. Brody, the K9-trained dog is a star, as always, his training as a cadaver dog being used widely throughout the investigation. A new character – Vince Rader – is established as one to watch. He’s runs a crime podcast and is keen to interview Madison and Nate, but he also employed the missing woman. On top of that, he is grieving the loss of his wife and grandson and trying to ignore the aspersions cast his way that he was responsible in some way. He manages to appear to be both a bad guy and a good guy at times before his true self is laid bare, and he really is as genuine as he makes out. Hopefully, he’ll be part of Nate’s decision as to whether his future is in Lost Creek or not. I’m pretty convinced Madison and Owen want him to stick around.

I’ll be keeping an eye for the next instalment; Wendy Dranfield has becomes one of of must-read authors. Thanks go to Netgalley, Wendy and the publishers for my copy of this book which I’ve reviewed voluntarily and with the greatest of pleasure. My only query is regarding the book cover which didn’t seem to relate to the story at all, although it does match the style of others in the series and also the market for crime thrillers. Does it matter that it doesn’t go with the story, IMHO? Probably not, but if we’re led to believe that covers sell books, then this wouldn’t have done so for me. Luckily, the author’s name alone is enough for me to choose this one.

As always,