blog tour · book review · crime · detective · noir fiction

Blog Tour ‘n’ Book Review – Return to Hiroshima

About Return to Hiroshima

1995, Japan struggles with a severe economic crisis.
Xavier Douterloigne, the son of a Belgian diplomat, returns to Hiroshima, where he spent his youth, to come to terms with the death of his sister.
Inspector Takeda finds a deformed baby lying dead at the foot of the Peace Monument, a reminder of Hiroshima’s war history.
A Yakuza-lord, rumored to be the incarnation of the Japanese demon Rokurobei, mercilessly defends his criminal empire against his daughter Mitsuko, whom he considers insane.
And the punk author Reizo, obsessed by the ultra-nationalistic ideals of his literary idol Mishima, recoils at nothing to write the novel that will “overturn Japan’s foundations”….
Hiroshima’s indelible war-past simmers in the background of this ultra-noir novel.
Clandestine experiments conducted by Japanese Secret Service Unit 731 during WWII are unveiled and leave a sinister stain on the reputation of the imperial family and Japanese society.

Praise for Return to Hiroshima:

MMM named Return to Hiroshima as ” one of the ten best international crime novels of 2018

“Author Bob Van Laerhoven pulls together an outlandish ensemble cast of peculiar personalities; fierce, fragile individuals who claw their way under your skin. Their predicaments –and their potential to unleash chaos – drag you into the narrative’s darkening abyss.” — Murder Mayhem & MoreRating: 5 out of 5.

“Van Laerhoven’s mastery of his subject and his flawless maneuvering through Japan’s unique past make one forget the depth of his narrative. There are many layers to Return to Hiroshima, and Van Laerhoven’s gift is crafting many intriguing subplots to create an energetic whole. But ‘layered’ is not quite right. Like an iceberg, a predictable part of Japan is visible for anyone to see. But beneath the surface lies mortal danger. And Van Laerhoven bravely plumbs those depths, for what’s underneath is a separate universe. What’s unsaid. What’s unaccounted for. Secrets no one admits to. Furious, revengeful rages hide beneath cool facades. Unspoken but understood conspiracies feed quests to right ultimate wrongs”. Joseph Brewer, Amazon

“The farther and deeper you progress into this often disturbing and yet captivating tale, the more you will be rewarded as the different and complex strands eventually draw together. Be warned though, this is no easy story to read and one that demands the reader’s full attention and concentration. Nor as I’ve intimated is this a book for the faint-hearted or those who prefer neatly packaged happy endings or a book filled with easily identified characters you’re supposed to either like or hate. Nonetheless, a powerful and multilayered story for those willing to stray from the more conventional thriller style and setting.” Rudders Reviews

“What a fine book. .. I was fascinated, intrigued and puzzled all the way through what is a fairly hefty read. Nothing is predictable. The puzzles are clear, their answers apparently transparent but in fact often opaque. No character is exactly what they seem, and the ways the characters present themselves are written with a seriously sure hand. The historical events behind the story are generously under-dramatized, and the level of detail is very high indeed. A great book.” Frank Westworth, Amazon

About the Author:

Van Laerhoven is a 67-year-old Belgian/Flemish author who has published (traditionally) more than 45 books in Holland and Belgium. His cross-over oeuvre between literary and noir/suspense is published in French, English, German, Spanish, Swedish, Slovenian, Italian, Polish, Portuguese, Russian and Chinese.

In Belgium, Laerhoven was a four-time finalist of the ‘Hercule Poirot Prize for Best Mystery Novel of the Year’ with the novels ‘Djinn’, ‘The Finger of God’, ‘Return to Hiroshima’, and ‘The Firehand Files’.

In 2007, he became the winner of the coveted Hercule Poirot Prize with ‘Baudelaire’s Revenge’, which, in English translation, also won the USA Best Book Award 2014 in the category ‘mystery/suspense’.

His first collection of short stories ‘Dangerous Obsessions’, published in the USA in 2015, was chosen as the ‘best short story collection of 2015’ by the San Diego Book Review. The collection has been translated into Italian, (Brazilian) Portuguese, Spanish, and Swedish. 

‘Return to Hiroshima’, his second crime novel in English, was published in May 2018 by Crime Wave Press(Hong Kong).  The British quality review blog Murder, Mayhem & More has chosen ‘Return to Hiroshima’ as one of the ten best international crime novels of 2018. MMM reviews around 200 novels annually by international authors.

Also in 2018, the Anaphora Literary Press published ‘Heart Fever’, his second collection of short stories. ‘Heart Fever’ was one of the five finalists of the American Silver Falchion Award. Laerhoven was the only non-American finalist. The collection has been translated into Italian and Spanish. A German translation is currently in production.

Author links:

My Review

Having recently read the memoir of a survivor of Hiroshima, I was “in the zone” and keen to read this book.

The story began slowly as the author introduced us to lots of characters, each with their own chapter and story. The transitions from one chapter to another were abrupt and choppy; this was a book that demanded concentration to keep up with the many characters and how they would eventually fit together. I did find it quite difficult to follow, but as the story developed and more was revealed about the characters it became almost compulsive reading to see what happened next. By the midpoint I was totally invested and intrigued. The author’s quirky style had won me over.

Without a shadow of a doubt I can say this story had a varied cast unlike any other book I’ve ever read ( to name but a few there was a Japanese “demon” figure (both masked and unmasked quite a terrifying character), a detective who is singled out for not being 100% Japanese, a fearsome German photographer with an eye for dark subject matter and ready to take risks for the right shot, a giant daughter figure with a dubious version of the truth, and her manga-influenced friend). Their back stories were detailed and complex, and – for me – a little too in-depth at times. Although I admired how the author tied together the past and the present, bringing the traumatic events of 1945 to life as he mingled the aftermath into the lives of his characters. I’ll be honest, though – with some characters I’m still not overly sure who to believe as many their stories contradicted each other and I couldn’t see the truth for the blurring of the lines. Definitely a story to keep you thinking!

There are some gory and violent scenes, and while these make for some uncomfortable reading, I’d consider these scenes pertinent to the overall tone of the story. I will admit that at times I didn’t understand all aspects of the plot, but the author’s intricate details kept me interested, and I rooted for Detective Takeda all the way. The twist at the end was dramatic and unexpected, yet also sublimely appropriate. This was certainly not a story where anything was predictable.

4 stars from me.

As always,

blog tour · book review · mystery · noir fiction · supernatural

Blog Tour ‘n’ Book Review – The Purple Shadow

The Purple Shadow

In the years before the war, Sylvie Charlot was a leading light in Paris fashion with many friends among musicians, artists and writers. Now she is largely forgotten. Spending time in Paris during a break in his acting career, Colin Mallory sees a striking portrait of Sylvie. Some think it is a late work by Édouard Vuillard but there is no signature or documentary evidence to support this view.

The picture has some unusual qualities, not least the presence of a shadow of something that cannot be seen. Perhaps the picture was once larger. Colin feels an odd sense of connection with Sylvie, who seems to be looking at him, appealing to him, wanting to tell him something. Despite a warning not to pursue his interest in her portrait, he is determined to find out more about the painting, who painted it, and why it was hidden for many years.

Colin’s search takes him back to the film and theatre worlds of Paris and London in the 1930s – and to a house in present-day Sussex. As he uncovers the secrets of Sylvie’s past, her portrait seems to take on a life of its own.

Purchase Links

UK – https://www.amazon.co.uk/Purple-Shadow-Christopher-Bowden-ebook/dp/B01JLMD7N4/

US – https://www.amazon.com/Purple-Shadow-Christopher-Bowden-ebook/dp/B01JLMD7N4/

France – https://www.amazon.fr/Purple-Shadow-Christopher-Bowden-ebook/dp/B01JLMD7N4/

 

Author Bio – Christopher Bowden lives in south London.

He is the author of six colour-themed novels, which have been praised variously by Andrew Marr, Julian Fellowes, Sir Derek Jacobi, and Shena Mackay.

Social Media Links – https://www.facebook.com/christopher.bowden.90

Website – http://www.christopherbowden.com/

 

 

 

My Review

What starts as a gently-paced stroll through the backstreets of Paris, soon descends into an intriguing mystery. Colin Mallory, an actor currently between roles, is whiling away the hours in an art gallery only to receive an impromptu dinner invitation. With nothing much else to do, he can’t bring himself to refuse, and who can blame him? Over dinner, he takes an interest in a portrait and asks who the striking woman within it might be. Unfortunately, there is little known about the origins of the painting, only that the woman is Sylvie Charlot, a fashionista of the pre-war years.

As a creative person himself, Colin is a tad smitten with the painting, and especially intrigued by a purple shadow that seems to belong elsewhere. He feels compelled to know more about it, about the artist, and about Sylvie herself. This sees him looking through theatre archives for snippets of information, only to learn someone else has been asking similar questions. Now, there is no stopping him in his investigations which go on to uncover a love affair between Sylvie and a married man back in the 1930s. He digs deeper, asking staff at the house where he first spied the painting if they knew Sylvie, and subsequently learns the portrait may be half of a bigger picture.

Each time Colin learns a little bit more, he becomes ever more curious, and with someone else on the same trail, he’s convinced of a bigger mystery yet to be revealed. To say he had become obsessed would be no understatement, but as the reader, I was just as fascinated. The drip feed of information kept my attention, and before long I had finished the book.

Of course, along with the mystery and intrigue, the author beautifully describes the surroundings and the mood; it was like being on a personal, guided tour. The “shadow” itself lends a supernatural feel to the story which makes it both enchanting and gripping. Overall, a fascinating mystery with an old world style that is subtly addictive and hugely satisfying.

For more news and reviews

As always,

book review · NetGalley · noir fiction · psychological suspense · series · thriller

Book Review – Behind Blue Eyes

Behind Blue Eyes

by C.S. Duffy

The perfect man.

The perfect life.

The only problem is the dead body on the beach.

Investigative reporter Ellie has just given up her life in London to be with the man of her dreams in Sweden when she stumbles across a half decomposed skeleton on Midsummer’s eve.

She’s flung into a murder investigation in a country where she doesn’t speak the language and doesn’t know a soul.

Except Johan.

The love of her life.

Who she is beginning to suspect knows a lot more about the body than he is admitting.

Is he the perfect man, or has Ellie uncovered the perfect crime?

A psychological suspense thriller with a twist of Scandi noir – perfect for fans of The Girl on the Train, Gone Girl and The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo.

My Review

5/5 stars

This is the first book I’ve read by C.S.Duffy, and it will not be the last.
Behind Blue Eyes is the first in the Stockholm Murders series, and it has that great Scandi noir vibe to it. Utterly compelling, intriguing and mysterious, I was hooked from very early on.
The story centres on Ellie James, an investigative reporter from London, who drops everything to move to Sweden after an intense, but fairly short-lived romance with her one true love, Johan.
With no job, friends or language skills, the move is daunting so meeting Johan’s friends for a Midsummer’s party is a big deal. But, with the exception of Mia, they aren’t the most welcoming of people, and when they lapse into Swedish conversations – which they did a lot – her isolation is even more pronounced. I must add here that the descriptions of Stockholm and its islands are beautifully written, not in a touristy way since there is a dark underbelly referenced too, but the setting is vibrant and refreshing, adding to the tone of the story when necessary.
Not even expecting them to miss her, she wanders off on this remote island to clear her head and reassess her decision. Finding a skeleton is not in her plans, but when they body is later identified as a former girlfriend of her beloved Johan, then Ellie’s investigative instincts cannot be quashed.
As her enquiries proceed, it’s clear she has not been privy to all of the facts – there are cover ups galore that bring about many twists and turns.
The story is told from Ellie’s viewpoint with bite-sized chapters from the killer whose identity is closely guarded by the author. It’s thrilling, thought-provoking, lively and tense. Ellie’s decidedly British humour breaks down the tension only for it to be ramped up seconds later.
Connecting all the dots reveals a much bigger crime than originally suggested, and the suspects seem to be everywhere. It will keep you hooked right to the end. I’m looking forward to the next book now, and this is a new author for me to follow.
I received an arc from NetGalley – thank you – and also kudos to BooksGoSocial & C.S. Duffy for an amazing story.

As always,

blog tour · book review · contemporary fiction · mystery · noir fiction

Blog Tour ‘n’ Book Review – Return to Hiroshima

Return to Hiroshima

by Bob Van Laerhoven

Return to Hiroshima

1995, Japan struggles with a severe economic crisis. Fate brings a number of people together in Hiroshima in a confrontation with dramatic consequences. Xavier Douterloigne, the son of a Belgian diplomat, returns to the city, where he spent his youth, to come to terms with the death of his sister. Inspector Takeda finds a deformed baby lying dead at the foot of the Peace Monument, a reminder of Hiroshima’s war history. A Yakuza-lord, rumored to be the incarnation of the Japanese demon Rokurobei, mercilessly defends his criminal empire against his daughter Mitsuko, whom he considers insane. And the punk author Reizo, obsessed by the ultra-nationalistic ideals of his literary idol Mishima, recoils at nothing to write the novel that will “overturn Japan’s foundations”….

Hiroshima’s indelible war-past simmers in the background of this ultra-noir novel. Clandestine experiments conducted by Japanese Secret Service Unit 731 during WWII become unveiled and leave a sinister stain on the reputation of the imperial family and the Japanese society as a whole.

Purchase Links

e-book Amazon US

paperback Amazon US

e-book Amazon UK

paperback Amazon UK

e-book Amazon Canada

paperback Amazon  Canada

e-book Amazon France

paperback Amazon France

e-book Amazon Spain

paperback Amazon Spain

My review:

Having recently read the memoir of a survivor of Hiroshima, I was “in the zone” and keen to read this book.

The story began slowly as the author introduced us to lots of characters, each with their own chapter and story. The transitions from one chapter to another were abrupt and choppy; this was a book that demanded concentration to keep up with the many characters and how they would eventually fit together. I did find it quite difficult to follow, but as the story developed and more was revealed about the characters it became almost compulsive reading to see what happened next. By the midpoint I was totally invested and intrigued. The author’s quirky style had won me over.

Without a shadow of a doubt I can say this story had a varied cast unlike any other book I’ve ever read ( to name but a few there was a Japanese “demon” figure (both masked and unmasked quite a terrifying character), a detective who is singled out for not being 100% Japanese, a fearsome German photographer with an eye for dark subject matter and ready to take risks for the right shot, a giant daughter figure with a dubious version of the truth, and her manga-influenced friend). Their back stories were detailed and complex, and – for me – a little too in-depth at times. Although I admired how the author tied together the past and the present, bringing the traumatic events of 1945 to life as he mingled the aftermath into the lives of his characters. I’ll be honest, though – with some characters I’m still not overly sure who to believe as many their stories contradicted each other and I couldn’t see the truth for the blurring of the lines. Definitely a story to keep you thinking!

There are some gory and violent scenes, and while these make for some uncomfortable reading, I’d consider these scenes pertinent to the overall tone of the story. I will admit that at times I didn’t understand all aspects of the plot, but the author’s intricate details kept me interested, and I rooted for Detective Takeda all the way. The twist at the end was dramatic and unexpected, yet also sublimely appropriate. This was certainly not a story where anything was predictable.

4 stars from me.

 

About the author

A fulltime Belgian/Flemish author, Laerhoven published more than 35 books in Holland and Belgium. Some of his literary work is published in French, English, German, Slovenian, Italian, Polish, and Russian. Three time finalist of the Hercule Poirot Prize for Best Mystery Novel of the Year with the novels “Djinn”, “The Finger of God,” and “Return to Hiroshima”; Winner of the Hercule Poirot Prize for “Baudelaire’s Revenge,” which also won the USA Best Book Award 2014 in the category “mystery/suspense”.

His collection of short stories “Dangerous Obsessions,” first published by The Anaphora Literary Press in the USA in 2015, was hailed as “best short story collection of 2015” by the San Diego Book Review. The collection is translated in Italian, (Brazilian) Portuguese, Spanish, and Swedish.  “Retour à Hiroshima”, the French translation of “Return to Hiroshima,” is recently finished. In 2018, The Anaphora Literary Press published “Heart Fever”, a second collection of short stories. Heart Fever, written in English by the author, is a finalist in the Silver Falchion 2018 Award in the category “short stories collections”. Laerhoven is the only non-American finalist of the Awards.

Social Media Links –

Book Trailer: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=G89ns-UgCzk

Author social media links:

https://www.facebook.com/bob.vanlaerhoven

https://twitter.com/bobvanlaerhoven/with_replies

Pinterest: https://nl.pinterest.com/laerken/


Author websites

www.bobvanlaerhoven.be (NL/FR/EN)

www.bobvanlaerhoven.com (Russian website for Месть Бодлера, the Russian edition of Baudelaire’s Revenge)

Giveaway to Win 2 x Return to Hiroshima Paperbacks (Open Internationally)

*Terms and Conditions –Worldwide entries welcome.  Please enter using the Rafflecopter link below.  The winner will be selected at random via Rafflecopter from all valid entries and will be notified by Twitter and/or email. If no response is received within 7 days then I reserve the right to select an alternative winner. Open to all entrants aged 18 or over.  Any personal data given as part of the competition entry is used for this purpose only and will not be shared with third parties, with the exception of the winners’ information. This will passed to the giveaway organiser and used only for fulfilment of the prize, after which time I will delete the data.  I am not responsible for despatch or delivery of the prize.

RAFFLECOPTER LINK

GOOD LUCK!

For more reviews, excerpts and interviews check out these amazing blogs too.

As always, 

blog tour · Bloggers · Giveaways · murder mystery · mystery · noir fiction

Blog Tour with Giveaway – Dark Paradise

Dark Paradise

by Gene Desrochers

Dark Paradise

Boise Montague’s life in Los Angeles has fallen apart. After his wife dies, he returns to the tiny island where he grew up. Unfortunately, coming home doesn’t bring him the peace he’s looking for.

Things have changed drastically since his last visit. The island has moved on and so have the people he once knew. When Boise tries to find the one friend he thinks he can count on to be there for him, he’s confronted with another death. A murder. A murder that the police did not think important enough to investigate thoroughly.

Boise wants answers. He enlists a local reporter named Dana, who has theories of her own, to help him dig deeper.

With not much left to lose, a bone to pick with the justice system, and a relentless partner, Boise sets out to do what the police would not: solve the murder of Jeffrey Black.

The island of St. Thomas is a gleaming tropical paradise. Welcome to the Caribbean, where murder is as common as sunshine.

Purchase Links

Amazon

Barnes & Noble

The Secret Stash

Goodreads

This sounds so good … and to entice you a little more, here’s an excerpt

In this extract, Boise explains to his friend’s aunt who he is. Boise begins to piece together what happened to Roger.

***

“Were you the ones with all the cats?” she asked, wrinkling her nose.  

I nodded.

“Father hated your cats. Ever since, I’ve disliked cats too.”

“That’s too bad. They’re good bullshit detectors,” I said. “Would you mind telling me what you know about Roger?”

She scratched her head and let out a long, reluctant sigh. “He got into illegal dealing. Drugs. He got into it deeply and wholly. It took him to the grave. He died around Christmas two years ago.”  

My breath quickened as I felt a sharp pain run through my right arm like a moving needle. My thumb twitched. I put out my hand and found a chair in the corner. Roger dead? Impossible.

He’d never had any interest in that life. We played stickball, rode bikes near the baseball stadium, snuck into games on Saturday afternoons. The convenience store with its treasure trove of sugary goodies like Hubba-Bubba and ring pops, our only vices. Once, Roger washed blood out of my hair when an older boy pegged me with a rock in the head after a baseball game. I didn’t want my mother to know or she’d have whipped me. He washed it out and kept the secret.

The familiar feeling of home I’d experienced on the airport runway disappeared, leaving a gaping wound in my chest that fluttered with each breath. “Drugs?” I muttered.

“I’m sorry, what did you say?” Iris got up, went to a water cooler. She handed me a tiny paper cup. It felt cool against my fingertips. “Drink this,” she said as she gently pushed my hand toward my lips. I tried but dribbled some of the water onto my shirt. The cold wetness startled me.

“I…did he try to get out of that life?” I said, hoping his soul cleansed itself before death.

“Don’t think so. He was deep in, like I said. He wanted to run things. He was not savage enough in his heart for that, but he wasn’t a good person either,” she said. “I hear he’s buried down by Frenchtown.”

Iris adjusted the waist of her flowered skirt then circled back around her desk. As she sat down, her face lit up. “Now I remember you! You gained some weight, right?”

“Yeah,” I said, patting my protruding gut. I was probably twenty-five pounds over ideal weight. Stress. “I got more buff, just in the wrong places.”

She laughed. “Nah, mi son, we all put it on over the years. You also have a nice chest.”

I waved good-bye on the compliment. The sun warmed the back of my neck as I stepped outside.

Roger and I hadn’t seen each other or spoken in seventeen years. Yet without him, St. Thomas was a foreign land. I pushed the hair away from the scar on the right side of my head where that boy had hit me with a rock after the ball game.

Jet lag notwithstanding, trudging around in the ninety-degree humidity felt freeing. I walked through Charlotte Amalie, past the whorehouse, right next to St. Peter and Paul Catholic Church on Dronningens Gade, also known as Main Street.

I entered the iron gates and whitewashed concrete walls of the cemetery. After thirty minutes, I found his tombstone. It read: “Roger Black, January 26, 1983-December 24, 2011.” While there, I visited my grandparents’ graves as well.

 

About the author:

Gene Desrochers hails from a dot in the Caribbean Sea called St. Thomas.

He grew up with minimal supervision and free-roaming animals in a guesthouse that also served as a hospital during wartime.

He has spent his life steadily migrating west, and now finds himself in Los Angeles with a beautiful wife, cats, and kids.

After a lifetime of writing and telling short stories, he ventured into the deep end, publishing his first novel, Dark Paradise in 2018.

If you ask, he will regale you with his Caribbean accent and tennis prowess.

You can follow Gene on Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, Medium and on his website.

 

 

But, wait … there’s more. 

Giveaway 1 – Win a $25 Amazon e-gift Card

Post your photo with your e-book or hard copy of Dark Paradise on social media and share on Gene’s Facebook  Instagram  or Twitter page and you’ll be entered in a drawing for a $25 Amazon Gift Card to be awarded on Monday, September 24th

Giveaway 2 – Win 2 x Paperbacks and 2 x E-copies of Dark Paradise (Open Internationally)

*Terms and Conditions –Worldwide entries welcome. The two paperbacks are only open to USA entries.  Please enter using the Rafflecopter link below.  The winner will be selected at random via Rafflecopter from all valid entries and will be notified by Twitter and/or email. If no response is received within 7 days then I reserve the right to select an alternative winner. Open to all entrants aged 18 or over.  Any personal data given as part of the competition entry is used for this purpose only and will not be shared with third parties, with the exception of the winners’ information. This will passed to the giveaway organiser and used only for fulfilment of the prize, after which time I will delete the data.  I am not responsible for despatch or delivery of the prize.

RAFFLECOPTER LINK

Good Luck!

Check out these amazing blogs for more reviews and excerpts from Dark Paradise:

Thanks for reading 😉

blog tour · book review · noir fiction

Blog Tour ‘n’ Book Review – The Amber Maze

The Amber Maze

by Christopher Bowden

The Amber Maze

While staying in a Dorset cottage, Hugh Mullion finds a mysterious key down the side of an antique chair. No one can say how long the key has been there or what it opens.
Hugh’s search for answers will unlock the secrets of the troubled life of a talented artist, destined to be hailed a neglected genius fifty years too late. And no secret is darker than that of The Amber Maze, from whose malign influence he never escaped.
The trail takes Hugh from Edwardian Oxfordshire to 1960s Camden Town, where the ghosts of the past are finally laid to rest.
Delicately crafted noir fiction at its best.

Purchase Links:

Amazon UK

Amazon US

Waterstones

Smashwords

My thoughts:

Before reading, I noticed the author’s previous work had been reviewed and praised by Julian Fellowes, Andrew Marr, and Sir Derek Jacobi. I’m not kidding, I felt both excited and – if I’m honest – a little out of my depth, but then thought, hey, I’m a reader too, so in I jumped!

My first impression was that the story had a touch of “Brideshead Revisited” about it – which can never be a bad thing. The story got off to an intriguing start.

Hugh was an unconventional lead character, his curiosity certainly leading him down many a strange path. (He had a history of solving mysteries. I loved how this earlier event (known mysteriously as Dorothy & that book!) was drip-fed to the reader throughout; it kept me intrigued and showed Hugh’s tendency to get caught up in odd little cases) His obsession was born from a key found down the side of an old armchair. It takes a certain type of person to latch on to such an item and allow it to take over his life. it was as if he, himself, needed another mystery in his life, so dogged was his determination to follow this tale through.

I loved the beginning, tracking down the owner of the chair (Hester)and then subsequently finding the box to fit the key (owned by Lionel – Hester’s grandfather). However, I felt the story started to drag a little in the middle, when Hugh was reading the journal describing Lionel’s experience at the maze. When Hugh actually entered the maze himself and panicked within it, only to then find his guide had suddenly died of a heart attack, I felt the story build in tension. Maybe I was looking for a connection that wasn’t there, but the tension spiked, as did my curiosity to read on. Unfortunately, that tension fizzled out.

Hugh’s conversations with Hester gave by far the most fascinating insight into Lionel’s story. Their chats were peppered with first-person narratives from Lionel, explaining the ins and outs of The Amber Maze secret society. Although, for me, the style was a little jarring. jumping from Hugh and Hester talking to these personal accounts from Lionel. The story didn’t flow easily and made me skip back a few pages to see where these Lionel moments had come from – I never did find out, they were just there.

Hugh’s fascination with the family did verge on obsessive, although his own family – particularly his wife, Kate – did make the occasional appearance to break up his obsession. His quest for information revealed a family beset with secrets, and seemingly unwilling to share them. Lionel, especially, shunned the spotlight, but that may have been as a result of fearing the man in the shadows.

The exhibition at the gallery of Lionel’s work gave the artist the recognition he himself had seemed to avoid. His granddaughter, Hester, seemed to delight in telling her tales, wearing her favourite pantaloons without a care in the world – such polar opposites. Yet, why had she waited until now to tell his story? And why tell a stranger, rather than her own daughter? I didn’t quite get that.

It was an interesting story, gently-paced, and, for me, very much in a “Brideshead” style in part. I enjoyed the story, although did feel as though I missed some key points along the way.

About the author:

Christopher Bowden lives in south London.
The Amber Maze is the sixth of his colour-themed novels, which have been praised variously by Andrew Marr, Julian Fellowes, Sir Derek Jacobi, and Shena Mackay.

Social Media Links – https://www.facebook.com/christopher.bowden.90

For more reviews and thoughts on The Amber Maze, take a look at these amazing blogs below:

Author friends · Damien Dickens · Featured Author - Phyllis Entis · mystery · noir fiction · review

What the Dickens!

Back in April, I alerted you to the then-upcoming launch of The Gold Dragon Caper, Book Four in The Damien Dickens Mysteries by Phyllis Entis.

Well, it will come as no surprise that the exploits of the highly likeable and hugely intrepid duo of Damien & Millie Dickens hit the ground running with five stars coming in from every corner of the globe.

The Gold Dragon Caper. A Damien Dickens Mystery

The cherry on the cake has been another five-star review from The Readers’ Favorite. (And, you don’t know how difficult it was for me to drop the ‘u’ there! Squiggly red lines freak me out … but, I’m moving on quickly)

Here’s that review in all its glory:

A boy vanishes from a ski slope in Vermont, a father disappears after leaving work, a valuable gold nugget is stolen from a Las Vegas casino, and a private eye must connect the seemingly unrelated events to solve the enigmatic puzzle before someone dies in the exciting sleuth mystery, The Gold Dragon Caper (A Damien Dickens Mystery) by Phyllis Entis. Damien and Millie Dickens are having trouble with their private investigation agency, due to the unscrupulous and destructive devices of their wealthy enemy, Turpin. When the building their office resides in is a casualty of arson, Damien suspects Turpin is at the bottom of it and is considering throwing in the towel. While Millie and Damien sort out their professional future, Artie, the nephew of a close friend, is kidnapped. At the same time, Millie receives a strange phone call about her brother Colin; he and a valuable item simultaneously disappeared from his workplace. Dropping everything, Millie immediately flies to Las Vegas to help Colin, leaving Damien to search for Artie on his own. Frustrated, Damien continues his hunt that spans the continent and is surprised when his clues lead him to Nevada. Is it coincidence or are the two disappearances connected?

Twists and turns abound in the fabulous sleuth mystery novel, The Gold Dragon Caper (A Damien Dickens Mystery) by Phyllis Entis. Damien and Millie Dickens are a dynamic sleuthing team and following their escapades quickly becomes addictive. It is a fantastic series that has a touch of the noir feel that I absolutely adore in sleuth mysteries. From the moment when Dickens’s office is burned, to the dramatic confrontation with their arch-enemy, Turpin, the excitement escalates to a smashing and surprising conclusion; it is an episode you don’t want to miss. With fascinating characters and a thrilling and intricate plot, this book is a riveting read! Even though this the fourth book in the series, it is a great standalone. That being said, I am anxiously awaiting the next Damien and Millie mystery. I highly recommend this novel to whodunit aficionados who enjoy delightfully twisted plots and characters

Reviewed by Susan Sewell for Readers’ Favorite

 

You must be tempted too, aren’t you?

Congratulations to Phyllis for dazzling review and the many others already received. May they continue to flood in.

Get your copy here The Gold Dragon Caper  from Amazon.

You can also pick up the others in the series at the links below.

The Green Pearl Caper

The White Russian Caper

The Chocolate Labradoodle Caper

If you read any of these mysteries – and you know you want to – then please consider leaving a review afterwards. Reviews keep authors writing!

Thanks for reading 😉

FREE books · must-read · mystery · noir fiction · thriller & crime · thrillers

Mega Giveaway from Author Adam C Mitchell

I’ve posted about Adam’s books before, having enjoyed his noir fiction with “Welcome to Central City“.

But from May 7th to 11th, he is offering more Central City Tales … and, wait for it, these ebooks are FREE!

Let’s take a proper look.

The Lost Angel

Eddy Kovakx robs the Lost Angel, central city’s newest night club, owned by Victor Renetti. Pulling off the job was the easy part. Now on the run with his partner’s broad, the sultry Kimmie Saint Clair, he also has an unstoppable PI on his case. Jack Malone is in hot pursuit thanks to the sadistic mobster Victor, putting a price on his head. Can Eddy and Kimmie get away with the money and their life. Or will Jack Malone get his mark.

Get your copy here

Central City Tales

When PI Jack Malone walks into his office one morning and finds a man dead on his floor, he has no choice but to take the case. Clues lead him to the door of Sally Kovax and her female lover, Mrs Josephine. Jack soon realizes he’s in over his head.

Rudy, another character from The Lost Angel, needs a lot of money and fast if he’s too help out his gal, Kimi who got herself in serious trouble. So when offered a job of robbing a toff’s house, he takes it. But things don’t go to plan.

A bunch of letters follow a flirtatious relationship between a young rich girl and a brewery owner. However, the love letters soon hint that all may not be what it seems.

Pick this one up here

and, last but not least

Chloe’s Justice

Central City has fallen on bad times, The Police force is now run by the corrupt.
But there are still a few, who respect the badge.
A drive by shooting of young Chloe brings Detective Harry Morgan into the sorry affair.
The law of the city under new Crime Boss the dark Allegra Renetti, stops Morgan from getting justice for Chloe. So he and a band of like minded Detectives take to the Streets, to stop Allegra once and for all and get justice for yet another innocent victim of their dark city.

Grab a copy now

Central City is depending on you. What have you got to lose? These books are pulling in five-star reviews. You wouldn’t want to miss out, would you?

Thanks for reading 🙂

book launch · noir fiction

Looking for some noir fiction?

Look no further.

Welcome to Central City

is the latest book by Adam C. Mitchell, and includes three hard-boiled noir novellas and a gripping short story, all following private eyes, detectives and crooks.

Each tale is set against the backdrop of the 1940’s….

No wonder an early reviewer calls it “reminiscent of Bogey and Bacall”.

With comments like “gritty, dark and dangerous”  this is a book that will delight readers who enjoyed “Sin City”.

But if that’s not enough to tempt you in, how about a brief excerpt:

Ready to one-click?

You can get your copy from Amazon via this link:  Welcome to Central City

Enjoy the stories and be sure to leave a review for the author.

Reviews keep authors writing.

Thanks for reading 🙂