Thursday, 23 November 2017

Walden of Bermondsey by Peter Murphy

Think Judge Deed, with less moral constipation, with a flair of Kavanaugh QC and a smidgen of Rumpole of the Bailey. Walden of Bermondsey is the legal procedural equivalent of a cosy mystery.

I was highly amused by the way Charlie Walden kept referring to his wife as the Reverend. Their relationship is well-balanced, and she is the Tuppence to his Tommy. His hands are bound when he learns facts which could influence the outcome of a case he is presiding over, however legally he is not in a position to act upon the information.

His wife, the Reverend, seems to think she remembers the name of one of the men involved in the case Walden is concerned about. She stumbles upon something that could blow the whole case apart.

Murphy gives the reader fascinating insight into the UK legal system, combining facts with his fictional story to create a pleasurable read. He balances the legal case with a little mystery and a room full of cantankerous colleagues, who all have their very own personal input when it comes to legal cases.

Murphy is definitely an author I would recommend to readers who like Robert Thorogood or G.K. Chesterton. Readers who enjoy the more comfy read, as opposed to the crime read filled with gratuitous violence.

Buy Walden of Bermondsey at Amazon Uk or go to Goodreads for any other retailer.

Follow @noexitpress @OldcastleBooks

Visit petermurphyauthor.co.uk

Wednesday, 22 November 2017

#BlogTour The Man in the Needlecord Jacket by Linda MacDonald

Today I am delighted to be taking part in the BlogTour for The Man in the Needlecord Jacket by Linda MacDonald. I admire her tenacity and audacity when it comes to the topics she has approached in this book.
About the Author
Linda MacDonald was born and brought up in Cockermouth, Cumbria. She was educated at the local grammar school and later at Goldsmiths’, University of London where she studied for a BA in psychology and then a PGCE in biology and science. She taught in a secondary school in Croydon for eleven years before taking some time out to write and paint. In 1990 she returned to teaching at a sixth form college in south-east London where she taught psychology. For over twenty-five years she was also a visiting tutor in the psychology department at Goldsmiths’. She has now given up teaching to focus fully on writing.

Her four published novels Meeting Lydia, A Meeting of a Different Kind, The Alone Alternative and The Man in the Needlecord Jacket can each be read independently but are also a series. A fifth part is at the embryonic stage.
Follow @LindaMac1 on Twitter #Needlecordjacket #RandomThingsTours or @LindaMacDonaldAuthor on Facebook
Follow @matadorbooks
Visit troubadorbooks.co.uk
Buy The Man in the Needlecord Jacket


About the Book
The Man in the Needlecord Jacket follows the story of two women who are each struggling to let go of a long-term destructive partnership. Felicity is reluctant to detach from her estranged archaeologist husband and, after being banished from the family home, she sets out to test the stability of his relationship with his new love, Marianne.

When Felicity meets Coll, a charismatic artist, she has high hopes of being distracted from her failed marriage. What she doesn’t know is that he has a partner, Sarah, with whom he has planned a future. Sarah is deeply in love with Coll, but his controlling behaviour and associations with other women have always made her life difficult. When he becomes obsessed with Felicity, Sarah’s world collapses and a series of events is set in motion that will challenge the integrity of all the characters involved.

The Man in the Needlecord Jacket is a thought-provoking book, written from the perspectives of Sarah and Felicity. The reader is in the privileged position of knowing what’s going on for both of the women, while each of them is being kept in the dark about a very important issue.

Inspired by the work of Margaret Atwood and Fay Weldon, Linda explores the issue of mental abuse in partnerships and the grey area of an infidelity that is emotional, not physical. The book will appeal to readers interested in the psychology of relationships, as well as fans of Linda’s ‘Lydia’ series.


Review
First and foremost I have to congratulate the author on her characters, to be more specific the age range she picked for her characters. There is a tendency in all fiction to choose the handsome young man and the young nubile woman, perhaps more so the latter. MacDonald has chosen two middle-aged women, Felicity and Sarah, and their prospective partners for this particularly realistic venture into women's fiction.

The reader follows the lives of both Felicity and Sarah as they become linked via a charming man called Coll. Sarah is Coll's girlfriend and Felicity is his new obsession.

This story is about the way women of a certain age are perceived by society, and the way they feel about it. Their youth is a fond memory of forbidden pleasures, spontaneity and a time when middle-age was merely a blip on the future horizon.

There is a general misconception about age changing the wants, needs and desires of people. This misconception is shared and believed by younger generations. They are often horrified, sometimes amused, by the fact both women and men still want physical intimacy when they hit middle-age or pension-age. The real question is, why shouldn't they want that?

Sarah and Coll have a relationship, which I would deem on the abusive side. Anyone who insults you, degrades you and makes you feel insecure, and invalid on a regular basis, is guilty of verbal and emotional abuse. Coll is a classic manipulator. He likes to control the narrative, especially when it comes to his own needs. His own insecurities are projected onto Sarah in a way that makes it appear as if she is to blame. Again this is a classic scenario of control. Over lengthy periods of time abuse victims begin to believe thr false narrative and live up to it, which is a typical self-fulfilling prophecy setting. The victim often doesn't identify this behaviour as abuse.

One of the elements of this story I was really interested in was the use, lack of or withdrawal of intimacy as a tool of power and manipulation. The reader can actually see how Sarah rationalizes his actions as the story unfolds.

Felicity is actually more self-aware, however she is still suffering the consequences of her mid-life crisis. Yes, women have them too. She is honest about what she needs and what her body needs. Her attempt to re-establish her old life creates discord between her children and her soon to be ex-husband. Felicity wants her old life back and yet at the same time she wants to walk upon a different path entirely.

MacDonald strips away any kind of illusion or semblance of hope that the middle stage of life gets any easier when it comes to love, relationships and life in general. It is probably just a tad more difficult, because physical appearance and health tends to decline.

The Man in the Needlecord Jacket is a subtle reminder that women should champion other women instead of breaking them down. It is also a strong statement about the emotional destruction an abusive relationship can cause, especially when the abuse is often a non-visible one, as opposed to a visible physical one. The book also takes the bull called infidelity by the horns and treats it to a violent ride of culpability.The kind of ride you don't want to miss.

Buy The Man in the Needlecord Jacket at Amazon Uk or go to Goodreads for any other retailer.


Thursday, 16 November 2017

#BlogTour The CWA Anthology of Short Stories: Mystery Tour edited by Martin Edwards


The CWA Anthology of Short Stories brings together some of the finest international crime writers. The Mystery Tour is edited by Martin Edwards, an award winning crime writer and critic.
Anthologies with a variety of authors are perhaps not everyone's cup of tea, however I find it an excellent way to discover new writers. This way you can try before you buy. You get a glimpse of their writing voice, style and creativity. And if you already know some of them, as is the case with this anthology of short stories, it is just an added bonus. You get to taste their goods with a specific topic in mind.

Buy The CWA Short Story Anthology: Mystery Tour
The Queen of Mystery by Ann Cleeves
Ann Cleeves began her crime-writing career with a series featuring George and Molly Palmer-Jones, and followed it with books about a cop from the North-East, Inspector Ramsay. More recently she has won international acclaim for two further series, featuring Vera Stanhope and Jimmy Perez, respectively, which have been successfully adapted for television as Vera and Shetland. Raven Black won the CWA Gold Dagger, and in 2017 Ann was awarded the CWA Diamond Dagger.
Follow @AnnCleeves Visit anncleeves.com

Return to the Lake by Anna Mazzola
Anna Mazzola writes historical crime fiction. She studied English at Pembroke College, Oford, efore becoming a criminal justice solicitor. Her debut novel was the Unseeing, and her second, about a collector of folklore on the Isle of Skye, will be published in spring 2018. She lives in Camberwell, London with two small children, two cats and one husband.
Follow @Anna_Mazz Visit AnnaMazzola.com

You'll be Dead by Dawn by C.L. Taylor
C.L. Taylor was born in Worcester, studied psychology in Newcastle and has had a variety of jobs, including fruit picker, waitress, postwoman, receptionist, shipping co-ordinator, graphic designer and web developer. her debut novel was Heaven Can Wait and in 2011 she won the RNA Elizabeth Goudge Trophy. More recently she has enjoyed success with psychological thrillers such as The Missing and The Escape.
Follow @callytaylor Visit cltaylorauthor.com

The Last Supper by Carol Anne Davis
Carol Anne Davis is the author of seven novels and eight true crime books, the latest of which is Masking Evil: When Good Men and Women Turn Criminal. She is currently one of the judges for the CWA's Gold Dagger for Non-Fiction, and when she's not reading or writing she loves to dance. Unfortunately she's dyspraxic so can't tell her left from her right and has been in the beginner's flamenco class for the past five years.
Visit carolannedavis.co.uk

The White Goddess by Cath Staincliffe
Cath Staincliffe is an award -winning novelist, radio playwright and creator of ITV's hit series Blue Murder. She was joint winner, with Margaret Murphy, of the CWA Short Story Dagger in 2012. She also writes the Scott & Bailey books, based in the popular ITV series. She lives with her family in Manchester.
Follow @CathStaincliffe Visit cathstaincliffe.co.uk

High Flyer by Chris Simms
Chris Simms graduated from Newcastle University then travelled round the world before moving to Manchester in 1994. Since then he has  worked as a freelance copywriter for advertising agencies throughout the city.The idea for his first novel, Outside the White Lines, came to him one night when broken down on the hard shoulder of a motorway. More recently he has written a series featuring DC Ilona King.
Visit chrissimms.info

Accounting for Murder by Christine Poulson
Before Christine Poulson turned to crime, she was a respectable academic with a PhD in the history of art. Cambridge provided the setting for her first three novels, Dead Letters, Stage Fright and Footfall, which were followed by a stand-alone suspense novel, Invisible. the first in a new series Deep Water, appeared in 2016. Her short stories have been short-listed for a Derringer and for the CWA Margery Allingham Prize.
Follow @ChrissiePoulson Visit christinepoulson.co.uk

Travel is Dangerous by Ed James
Ed James writes crime fiction novels, predominantly the Scott Cullen series of police procedurals set in Edinburgh and the surrounding Lothians. He is currently developing two new series, set in London and Dundee, respectively. He also writes the Supernature series, featuring vampires and other folkloric creatures.
Follow @EdJamesAuthor Visit Edjamesauthor.com

Take the Money and Run? by Gordon Brown
Gordon Brown lives in Scotland but splits his time between the UK and Spain. He's married with two children and has been writing since his teens. So far he has had five books published - his latest,Darkest Thoughts, being the first in the Craig McIntyre series. Gordon also helped found Bloody Scotland - Scotland's International Crime Writing Festival.
Follow @GoJaBrown Visit gordonjbrown.com

No Way Back by J.M. Hewitt
J.M. (Jeanette) Hewitt is a crime fiction writer living on the Suffolk coast. She is the author of Exclusion Zone, The Hunger Within and The Eight Year Lie. Her short story 'Fingers' was published in Twisted50. a horror anthology, and she was the winner of the BritCrime Pitch Competition in 2015, a success that led to the publication of Exclusion Zone.
Follow @jmhewitt Visit jmhewitt.com

Mystery Tour by Judith Cutler
Judith Cutler has produced no fewer than five series of crime novels and more than thirty books in all. Her first regular detective was Sophie Rivers, and since then she has featured Fran Harman, Josie Welford, Tobias Campion and Lina Townend. She has also published stand-alone novels, and is a former secretary of the CWA.
Visit judithcutler.com

Wife on Tour by Julia Crouch
Julia Crouch has been a theatre director, playwright, drama teacher, publicist, graphic/website designer and illustrator. It was while he was doing an MA in sequential illustration that she realised what she really loved was writing. Her debut novel, Cuckoo, was followed by Every Vow You Break, Tarnished, The Long Fall and Her Husband's Lover.
Visit juliacrouch.co.uk Follow @thatjuliacrouch

The Naked Lady of Prague by Kate Ellis
Kate Ellis worked in teaching, marketing and accountancy before finding success as a writer. The latest title in her series featuring Wesley Peterson is The Mermaid's Scream, while she has also published a series about another cop, Joe Plantagenet, and two historical crime novels, including A High Mortality of Doves.
Follow @kateellisauthor Visit kateellis.co.uk

Snowbird by Kate Rhodes
Kate Rhodes went to the University of Essex and completed a doctorate on the playwright Tennessee Williams. She has taught at universities in Britain and the United States, and now writes full time. Her books were two collections of poetry, and her novels Crossbones Yard and A Killing of Angels are both set in London, her birthplace. she lives in Cambridge.
Visit katerhodes.org Follow @K_RhodesWriter

The Repentance Wood by Martin Edwards
Martin Edwards has published eighteen novels, including the Lake District Mysteries. The Golden Age of Murder won the Edgar, Agatha, H.R.F. Keating and Macavity awards. He has edited thirty-five crime anthologies and has won the CWA Short Story Dagger, the CWA Margery Allingham Prize and the Poirot Award. He is the president of the Detection Club and current chair of the CWA.
Follow @medwardsbooks Visit martinedwardsbooks.com

A Mouthful of Restaurant by Martine Bailey
Martine Bailey writes about food and mystery and was credited by Fay Weldon as inventing a new genre, the 'culinary gothic'. Her debut in the genre was An Appetite for Violets, and while living in New Zealand she wrote the Penny Heart (retitled A Taste for Nightshade in the US). Martine is an award-winning amateur cook and now lives in Cheshire.
Visit martinebailey.com Follow @MartineBailey

Cruising for a Killing by Maxim Jakubowski
Maxim Jakubowski is a crime, erotic, science-fiction and rock music writer and critic. He is also a leading anthologist. Born in England to Russian-British and Polish parents, he was raised in France and ran the Murder One bookshop for many years. He is the current chair of judges for the CWA Debut John Creasey Dagger, and also serves as joint vice-chair of the CWA. He is a frequent commentator on radio and television.
Visit maximjakubowski.co.uk

Three on a Trail by Michael Stanley
Michael Stanley is the writing team of Michael Sears and Stanley Trollip. Both were born in South Africa and have worked in academia and business. Their first mystery, A Carrion Death introduced Detective 'Kubu' Bengu of the Botswana Criminal Investigation Department, and was a finalist for five awards, including the CWA Debut Dagger. their third book, Death of the Mantis, won the Barry Award and was a finalist for the Edgar Award.
Visit detectivekubu.com Follow @detectivekubu

The Riddle of the Humming Bee by Paul Charles
Paul Charles was born and raised in the Northern Irish countryside. He is the author of the Detective Inspector Christy Kennedy series, set in Camden Town, and the Inspector Starrett series, which is set in Donegal in Ireland. the short mystery in this collection features retired PSNI Detective McCusker from Down on Cyprus Avenue. Paul is currently working on a second McCusker novel.
Visit paulcharlesbooks.com

Writer's Block by Paul Gitsham
Paul Gitsham started his career as a biologist, before deciding to retrain and impart his love of science and sloppy lab skills to the next generation of enquiring minds as a school teacher. Paul lives in a flat with more books than shelf space, where he writes the DCI Warren Jones series of police procedurals and spends more time than he should on social media.
Follow @DCIJoneswriter Visit paulgitsham.com

Lady Luck by Peter Lovesey
short stories have won a number of international awards, including the Veuve Clicquot Prize, the Ellery Queen Reader's Award and the CWA Short Story Dagger. When the Mystery Writers of America ran a competition to mark their fiftieth year, The Pushover was the winner. Peter is a recipient of the CWA Diamond Dagger (among many other honours) and also a former chair of the CWA.
Visit peterlovesey.com

A Postcard from Iceland by Ragnar Jónasson
Ragnar Jónasson is the author of the award winning and international bestselling Dark Iceland series. He was born in Reykjavík, where he still lives, and is a lawyer. He teaches copyright law at Reykjavik University and has previously worked on radio and television, including as a TV news reporter for the Icelandic National Broadcasting Service.
Visit ragnar-jonasson.squarespace.com Follow @ragnarjo

A Clever Evil by Sarah Rayne
Sarah Rayne is the author of a number of acclaimed psychological thrillers, and ghost-hemed books. Much of the inspiration for her settings comes from the histories and atmospheres of old buildings, a fact that is strongly apparent in many of her books. She recently launched a  new series, featuring the music historian and researcher Phineas Fox
Visit sarahrayne.co.uk

The Prodigy by Shawn Reilly Simmons
Shawn Riley Simmons lives in Frederick Maryland, and has worked as a bookstore manager, fiction editor, convention organiser and a wine rep. Currently she serves on the Board of Malice Domestic, is a member of the Dames of Detection, and an editor and co-publisher at Level Best Books. Her red Carpet Catering Mysteries feature Penelope Sutherland, an on-set movie caterer. She has also published several short crime stories, and co-edited crime anthologies.
Visit shawnreillysimmons.com Follow @ShawnRSimmons

A Slight Change of Plan by Susi Holliday
grew up in Scotland and now lives in London. She was shortlisted for the CWA Margery Allingham Prize with her short story 'Home from Home', She has published three crime novels set in the fictional Scottish town of Banktoun, and her latest novel is a Christmas-themed serial killer thriller, The Deaths of December.
Visit sjihollidayblog.wordpress.com Follow @SJIHolliday

Bombay Brigadoon by Vaseem Khan
is the author of the Baby Ganesh Detective Agency novels, a series of crime novels set in India. The books feature retired Mumbai police inspector Ashwin Chopra and his sidekick, a baby elephant named Ganesha. Vaseem says that elephants are third on his list of passions, first and second being great literature and cricket, not always in that order. He plays cricket all summer, attempting to bat as an opener, while fielding as little as possible.
Follow @VaseemKhanUK Visit vaseemkhan.com

Matricide and Ice Cream by William Burton McCormick
William Burton McCormick's fiction appears regularly in American mystery magazines. A Nevada native, William earned his MA in novel writing from Manchester University, was elected a Hawthornden Fellow in Scotland and has lived in Russia, Ukraine and Latvia. His novel Lenin's Harem was the first fictional work added to the Latvian War Museum's library in Riga.
Follow William Burton McCormick on Facebook

The Spoils by William Ryan
William Ryan is an Irish writer, living in London. He was called to the English Bar after university in Dublin, and then worked as a lawyer in the City. He now teaches crime writing at City University. His first novel, The Holy Thief, was shortlisted for four awards, including a CWA New Blood Dagger. His latest book in The Constant Soldier.
Follow @WilliamRyan_ Visit william-ryan.com
Review
Personally I think anthologies are a great way to discover new authors. It's kind of like having a taster session with book full of talented scribes. You can get a real feeling for writing styles, voices and how creative they can be. Not everyone can draw in a reader with a short story. Short stories are an art-form unto themselves.

This anthology offers a great mixture of authors, and all of them know exactly how to create suspense and tension in a few pages. Some of the stories veer more towards the macabre, others have a noirish quality to them, and then there are those with a wicked sense of humour. I would even go as far as to say some of the stories border on the horror genre.

Now, I could write something about every single story, but instead I will just pick out a few to give you a sense of what you can expect.

Accounting for Murder by Christine Poulson - I have to say I enjoyed the story within numbers and receipts. Storytelling in a modern way. In exactly the way you would experience it if you processed the information through sight and thoughts alone.

Return to the Lake by Anna Mazzola - This had a What Lies Beneath feel to it. It would make a great TV plot. Mazzola only infers a certain scenario, and the reader has to imagine what actually happened to the girl who disappeared.

A Postcard from Iceland by Ragnar Jónasson - Short and sweet or rather short and scary. Just enough to get the imagination going and yet not enough to give the reader all the answers.

The Naked Lady of Prague by Kate Ellis - This has gritty modern feel to it. Reality paired with fear, resentment, shame and betrayal. You never know who you can trust. The closest friend might be the the person you should trust the least.

I could go on and on. The truth is every single story is unique, despite being connected through the element of crime. Each and every author has taken the idea and made it specific to themselves and their own particular style.

The CWA Mystery Tour certainly does not disappoint. It is a compelling mixture of talented authors and their often disturbing, sometimes amusing and certainly always memorable tales.

Buy The CWA Short Story Anthology: Mystery Tour or go to Goodreads for any other retailer


Wednesday, 15 November 2017

The Truth and Lies of Ella Black by Emily Barr

Ella is confronted with an awful truth about her identity. It turns out she has been living a lie, a lie her parents have taken great lengths to keep going.

One could argue that on a base level Ella is aware of the secret, which is why she struggles with a strong inner voice. A voice so strong it has become its own persona. A persona, who makes bad choices and likes to harm others and cause havoc.

Personally I think the question about Bella or rather the truth and explanation about Bella should have remained an element of the book the reader ponders on and decides for themselves. Instead Ella explains that aspect of her personality towards the end of the book.

I would rather wonder about the nurture vs nature argument or whether there is a genetic component to Bella and in particular Bella's behaviour. Does Bella like to cause harm because of who she really is?

Adoption can be a controversial topic for those involved in it, especially when it comes to the truth about parentage. Quite often the adoptive parents think it is better to lie and/or keep the adopted child in the dark about their parentage. For the majority of adoptees the truth is the quintessential factor in the development of a healthy mind-set and personality. Regardless of whether they make contact with their bio family, it is important for them to know who they are biologically and genetically. A lot of people find this natural pull towards the truth quite difficult to understand. They don't understand that it has nothing to do with how much they love their adopted parents and the family attachments they have made. It is merely about finding their tribe, and being able to get closure.

In a way Ella has to go through this process, albeit in a very dramatic and dangerous way. She has to work through the trauma of the truth in her own time and way.

Barr approaches a sensitive topic and gives the reader a ringside view of the emotional turmoil a young person might go through in this situation. For teens everything is highly emotional and over-dramatised. The Truth and Lies of Ella Black is a story about a young woman finding her truth and her path in life.

Buy The Truth and Lies of Ella Black at Amazon Uk or go to Goodreads for any other retailer.

Follow @emily_barr Visit emilybarr.com

Follow @PenguinRHUK

Read The One Memory of Flora Banks by Emily Barr

The Frozen Woman by Jon Michelet

Finding a dead body in your garden is either really bad luck or you have something to hide. Unfortunately Thygesen has a dodgy past, which kind of points the police straight in his direction.

Thygesen is eccentric and a wee bit quirky, which is part of the charm I suppose. It simultaneously comes off as creepy, passive-aggressive and endearing.

Vanja is eventually drawn in by the eccentricity, despite it being her job to find the killer, and becomes perhaps a bit too close to the possible suspect. The lines between her job and what she thinks she wants as a person become skewed.

The reader sees the story of how the dead body came to be in his garden, why she is there and who she is, through a seemingly separate story. Eventually small links and connections appear and things become clearer.

The frozen woman is suddenly connected to criminal biker gangs with a taste for brutal retaliation and little regard for human life.

Michelet gives readers a fast-paced story filled with that special brand of snark and humour reserved for the Scandinavian crime genre.

Buy The Frozen Woman at Amazon Uk or go to Goodreads for any other retailer.

Follow @noexitpress

Tuesday, 7 November 2017

147 Things by Jim Chapman

If I inherited anything from my father at all, because I damn sure didn't get his maths genius gene, then it is a thirst for knowledge. I read a lot, and I acquire a lot of seemingly useless facts, tidbits or information.

You just never know when you're going to need to know that penguins can jump up to three meters high or that it is illegal to hunt and kill camels in Arizona.

Really? How many camels are there in Arizona that they need a law to protect them?

Essentially this is what 147 Things is about. A collection of odd facts connected via witty commentary. I don't think I am going to get over the whole kangaroo fact, now every time I look at one I will be wondering about what is hidden in that pouch.

To be completely frank the concept of a book of random facts could be considered a wee bit boring after a while, and that exact thought crossed my mind just a few facts or chapters in.Then the book took a slightly different direction and became more personal. Specifically from Thing 19: Some people aren't bad, they just do bad things, onwards.

The element, which I believe redeems the book, and makes it not only an entertaining read but also a heart-warming one, is the part of himself Chapman puts into the book.

He lets the reader take a close look at his memories and what is in his heart. He lets us in to take a snapshot of what has shaped him as a child and as a young man, and this is what makes this more than just a book about odd and interesting facts.

Buy 147 Things: My User's Guide to the Universe, from Black Holes to Bellybuttons at Amazon Uk or go to Goodreads for any other retailer.

Follow @jimchapman and @PanMacPublicity

Visit jimchapman.co.uk or his Youtube channel

Monday, 6 November 2017

The Big Little Festival by Kellie Hailes

Jody has spent years building a wall around her to keep all men and any emotion out. It has made her over-sensitive to any kind of relationship. She questions herself and anyone who dares to come anywhere near her.

She is determined to put on a festival for Rabbit's Leap to raise money for the community pool. She wouldn't normally put up with the eccentricities of the villagers, but her guilty conscience is proving stronger than her natural aversion to the dramatics of certain people in the village.

She hires a successful and very expensive event planner, who turns out to be rather handsome and more interested in her than in putting on a fantastic festival.

The Big Little Festival is all about finding the courage to move on in life. To be brave enough to let someone new in. Joanna finds it extremely hard to take down even a few bricks in her wall, especially because the majority of people turn out to be unreliable. As a single mother she has to not only look out for her own heart, she also has to make sure her kids don't get attached to any fly-bys.

Hailes paints an accurate picture of life in an English village, where the competitions for best jam or largest vegetable can become quite competitive. The characters are quirky and amusing, and the drama is plentiful. Prepare to be entertained.

Buy The Big Little Festival at Amazon Uk or go to Goodreads for any other retailer.

Follow @KellieHailes & @HQDigitalUK @HQStories or @HarperImpulse

Wednesday, 1 November 2017

Dry Bones by Sally Spencer

When Charlie asks Jennie to investigate two bodies in the cellar of his Oxford university, he also asks her to keep it secret. Keeping it quiet is a crime, and not telling her friend on the police force puts two friendships in jeopardy too.

Charlie seems to have more secrets than a puzzle-box. Jennie starts to suspect his involvement in at least one of the deaths. Is he trying to distract her from the truth by sending her on wild goose chases?

The Jennie Redhead Mysteries are very similar to the Phryne Fisher Mysteries, but Jennie is lot more brash and confrontational. The difference is that the author duo that makes up the Sally Spencer also like to add a little controversy to their stories.

I'm not sure I entirely agree with the way the topic of homosexuality was approached from a historical point of view. In the mid 1940's it was still considered a criminal offence, so the majority of men kept it a secret, as opposed to being openly gay in society. In 1967 sexual acts between two men over the age of 21 was decriminalised in England and Wales, however it still remained illegal in Scotland, Northern Ireland, the Channel Islands and or the Isle of Man.

Now, whilst there is always room for fictional interpretation and the rewriting of history, I do believe keeping it slightly more historically correct would have given the story a stronger sense of realism, instead of applying the overall laissez-faire feel of the story to this particular topic.

Personally I wish history had been more like the scenario of Dry Bones, in a sense that it is just as normal as heterosexual relationships, which is possibly what the authors were aiming for.

What I really enjoyed was the excellent description of the upper and lower classes, especially in relation to the academic world of Oxford. In the 20th century we saw the deconstruction of these antiquated ways of thinking, although I am sure one could argue that we are still seeing the last remnants of it in the UK government structure and political field. Kudos to the authors for the reality of the Upstairs/Downstairs scenarios and the descriptions of both the Great War and World War 2, which feature heavily in this story. The mistakes made by the entitled upper class officer ranks, and the fates of the lower class bullet fodder.

Overall Spencer delivers a good read with feisty and unusual characters.

Buy Dry Bones at Amazon Uk or go to Goodreads for any other retailer.

Follow @SallySpencerebk Author duo @AlanRustage & @LannaRustage or @severnhouse

Visit sallyspencer.com

Anything You Do Say by Gillian McAllister

Fair warning *Possible Spoilers*

This is the kind of story which evokes a lot of emotions, controversy and discussion. So it probably isn't any surprise that I want to have a really good chin-wag about it.

There are so many elements of this story that are hot topics at the moment. The systemic abuse of women, cross-race effect, the morality of her actions, why self-defence is negated in cases of severe force and the whole decision whether or not to act or help.

The behaviour Joanna encounters in the bar is fairly atypical unfortunately. The fact it happens so frequently probably explains her lack of response, which is in no way meant to sound like victim-blaming. Women have become so used to the systemic abuse that they tend to brush it off or ignore it, because making a big deal or speaking up can lead to escalations.

Joanna is on edge when she leaves the bar and almost expects Sadiq to follow her home, and of course this assumption of bad intentions is part of the problem. Then there is the issue of cross-race effect, ergo being able to recognise faces of ones own race easier and finding it more difficult to differentiate the faces of different race. This phenomenon causes a lot of misidentification when it comes to crimes.

Then there is the issue of self-defence, and I can guarantee the majority of people will think they have the right to defend themselves themselves with any force necessary, however the truth is the legal situation isn't as simple as it may seem. Reasonable force is the important factor and whether or not the victim believes they are in imminent danger, but it must be proportionate to the supposed danger. If the response causes injury or death it can be ruled as excessive force, ergo the victim then becomes the perpetrator.

The story follows Joanna in two scenarios simultaneously, the Joanna who reports the incident and the Joanna who tries to cover it up. Put yourself in her shoes for a minute, ask yourself what you would do in the same set of circumstances. Would you leave, watch him die, call for help or pretend it never happened at all?

This book is an excellent read because it challenges our perception of this event and possible scenarios we might encounter. I think the foremost question on my mind, whilst reading this story, was what I would do in the same situation. The answer to that particular question will be different for every single one of us and based on our own frame of references.

McAllister likes to present readers with complex characters and the kind of situations that are neither black or white. The grey areas become murky and distorted, which is what makes her stories so compelling.

Buy Anything You Do Say at Amazon Uk or go to Goodreads for any other retailer.

Follow @GillianMAuthor

Visit gillianmcallister.com

Read Everything but the Truth by Gillian McAllister

Sunday, 29 October 2017

Jojo Moyes Paris for One and other Stories

This is a book of short stories, two of them more novella length. It contains the following eleven tales: Paris for One, Between the Tweets, Love in the Afternoon, A Bird in the Hand, Crocodile Shoes, Holdups, Honeymoon in Paris, Last Year's Coat, Thirteen Days with John C, Margot and The Christmas List.

They are stories about women and empowerment. They are also tales of love, desire and the imperfections of relationships.

Paris for One is all about Nell, a straight-laced shy young woman, who is stood up by her unreliable boyfriend. She ends up on a romantic trip to Paris by herself. Alone in a foreign country, dealing with an unknown language and the disappointment of not being important enough to her boyfriend for him to spend time with her in the city of romance.

It's all about Nell discovering her inner mojo and comprehending that she is supposed to live life for herself and not in accordance with the expectations of others. Sometimes you have to take a risk and step outside of the box you yourself and others have put you in.

Moyes hits the right notes, and has the gift of gab and the gift of storytelling. Although emotions are laid bare and presented to the reader, which evokes a sense of empathy, there is also a strong layer of realism in the dialogue and scenarios. This stark contrast is what makes the stories relatable and memorable.

Buy Paris for One and other Stories at Amazon Uk or go to Goodreads for any other retailer.

Follow @jojomoyes @MichaelJBooks

Visit jojomoyes.com

Ashes Reborn by Keri Arthur

The connection between Emberly and Jackson is one of the more intriguing elements of the story. Neither of them have any real idea how their fusion is going to evolve or whether there will be more negative or positive repercussions for either one of them.

Their strange partnership, and the odd new powers one of them seems to possess, have to take a back-seat so they can focus on a threat to the supernatural and human community. Rinaldo is willing to kill anyone and destroy anything to get his hands on any research relating to a plague-like virus. A virus that can drive the contaminated person to madness.

Arthur delivers a fast-paced fiery urban fantasy with strong characters and a story that ends with a hook so the readers will come back for the next book.

Arthur's Riley Jenson urban fantasy series is outstanding, and doesn't get as much attention as it should. She has a flair for innovative ideas and strong female leads. Her Souls of Fire series offers readers both of these elements.

Buy Ashes Reborn at Amazon Uk or go to Goodreads for any other retailer.

Read Winter Halo by Keri Arthur

Follow @kezarthur @BerkleyPub @penguinrandom

Visit keriarthur.com

Thursday, 26 October 2017

Don't Let Go by Harlan Coben

Are there some secrets that should be left buried and forgotten? This is the real question when it comes to this story.

Nap is obsessed with finding out the truth about the death of his twin brother Leo. His death was so unexpected and sudden that over a decade later Nap still hasn't come to terms with it, especially because his own girlfriend disappeared into thin air on the same night.

Now she has suddenly made a reappearance he also takes note of the strange things happening to other old high-school friends. Is there something more nefarious going on other than random acts of violence and disturbances, which just happen to be connected to said old friends.

How well do we really know any person, even when you have a tight connection like twins. Everyone has secrets or personality traits they keep hidden from certain people.Thinking that his brother was nothing less than perfect is clouding his view of the facts.

Coben combines a fast-paced thriller with strong emotional undertones to create a read which may make you ponder the advantages of raking up the past.

Sometimes it's better to let sleeping dogs lie. At least that way one can maintain some semblance of a facade for others, and more importantly for our or their own peace of mind. Like I said it is an interesting combo of conspiracy and moral of the story tale.

Buy Don't Let Go at Amazon Uk or go to Goodreads for any other retailer.

Follow @HarlanCoben

Visit harlancoben.com

Saturday, 21 October 2017

Fatal Masquerade by Vivian Conroy

The cosy mystery is often delegated to the inconsequential, fluffy and comfortable read shelf. It simply isn't given its dues. It is actually a really popular sub-genre of the crime and mystery genre.

Not everyone wants to read brutal psychological stories that mess with your head and make your little grey cells ask for a break, although admittedly I love those a lot.

Some readers want the eloquence and eccentricities of Christie-like characters combined with the quirky scenarios of Beaton, witty reads that leave you with a smile.

Conroy delivers the kind of characters you remember and enjoy. An ode to Tuppence and Tommy, but perhaps a little less suave and with a lot more cheek.

In this fourth book in the Lady Alkmene Mystery series, the reader is spoilt with choices of possible culprits, which means the amateur detectives have to work a lot harder to discover who did the deed.

Lady Alkmene accompanies her friend to a masquerade ball, which becomes a wee bit more serious when a dead body turns up and the hostess and her family become the main suspects.


If you're looking for a bit of mystery, a dead body now and again, and a set of colourful characters then you should give Conroy a try.

Buy Fatal Masquerade by Vivian Conroy at Amazon Uk or go to Goodreads for any other retailer.

Read Rubies in the Roses by Vivian Conroy

Follow @VivWrites

Wednesday, 18 October 2017

Fools and Mortals by Bernard Cornwell

Kudos to Cornwell for giving the works of Shakespeare their dues, especially A Midsummer Night's Dream. He dissects the piece, as if it were the hottest new reality-soap in town.

Leaving the historical references and importance of Shakespeare's work aside for a moment, what remains are emotional roller-coasters for the masses. Shakespeare gives us drama, laughter, tears,violence and death. His plays were live television.

Cornwell is an excellent storyteller. The reader becomes so transfixed by the unfolding drama, and drawn in by the strong characters, that you almost forget everything is taking place in the Elizabethan era.

The story is about William and Richard Shakespeare, and their sibling rivalry. At the same time it is also about the existing rivalries between the various playhouses. An original play or new script is worth its weight in gold. People will pay good money to watch a new play being performed. It's quite interesting to note how many new scripts playwrights had to come up with in such a short period of time to entertain not only the masses, but also the upper echelon of society, including the queen.

Richard struggles with the fact his brother seems to see him either as a hindrance or a complete failure. He wants acknowledgement of his talent and perhaps even an apology for being handed to the wolves by his brother. At the moment he is always automatically picked to play the role of the pretty woman, because he is known for his striking looks. The kind of appealing physical appearance that tends to be noticed by the wrong people.

I really enjoyed it. I was expecting a story filled with heavy historical references. Instead it is a witty light-hearted entertaining read, which still manages to portray the hardships, the danger, the paranoia and the fear in that particular era, and the way of life in London.

Cornwell combines his talent for historical fiction with his concise knowledge of Shakespeare, which of course makes this a double-treat for bookworms with a penchant for both history and the works of the bard.

Buy Fools and Mortals at Amazon Uk or go to Goodreads for any other retailer.

Follow @BernardCornwell @HarperCollinsUk

Visit bernardcornwell.net

The Ghosts of Galway by Ken Bruen

Bruen has a very specific style when it comes to his Jack Taylor books. They are in your face coarse, gritty and hardcore realistic or rather the character of Jack Taylor is.

Jack always seems to walk on the thin line between abiding by the law and breaking it, well he tends to lean more towards the latter, especially when it comes to protecting those in his bubble.

Not that they are always grateful, but then again perhaps they take lessons in etiquette and being polite from Jack.

His nemesis, strangely enough, is a bizarre combination of seductive temptress, a complete and utter fruitcake, and a ruthless player in this game of ghosts. Jack never seems to be able to decide which category to place her in.

As I mentioned above, Bruen has a distinctive writing style, which is staccato like and abrupt. Despite that he still manages to fill the story with important national and international topics, ranging from pseudo celebrities, fraudulent medical systems to Brexit and terrorism.

It is done in a subtle and witty way, and there are also often imperceptible nods in a certain direction, and off the cuff remarks. It's almost like experiencing the thought and speech processes of the main character in real-time. It has a noirish quality to it, coarse and brutal, which is what gives it a strong sense of realism.

Buy The Ghosts of Galway at Amazon UK or go to Goodreads for any other retailer.

Follow @MysteriousPress  @groveatlantic

Tuesday, 17 October 2017

Blog-Tour: Snare by Lilja Sigurdardóttir

Today it is my pleasure to take part in the BlogTour for Snare by Lilja Sigurdardóttir. Snare is a fresh, gritty walk through life and crime as we know it in the 21st century.
About the Author 
Icelandic crime-writer Lilja Sigurdardóttir was born in the town of Akranes in 1972 and raised in Mexico, Schweden, Spain and Iceland. An award-winning playwright, Lilja has written four crime novels, with Snare, the first in a new series, hitting bestseller lists worldwide. The film rights have been bought by Palomar Pictures in California. Lilja has a background in education and has worked in evaluation and quality control for preschools in recent years. She lives in Reykavik with her partner.
Follow @lilja1972  Visit liljawriter.com
Buy Snare

About the book
After a messy divorce, attractive young mother Sonia is struggling tp provide for herself and keep custody of her son. With her back to the wall, she resorts to smuggling cocaine into Iceland, and finds herself caught up in a ruthless criminal world. As she desperately looks for a way out of trouble, she must pit her wits against her nemesis, Bragi, a customs officer, whose years of experience frustrate her new and evermore daring strategies.

Things become even more complicated when Sonia embarks on a relationship with a woman, Agla. Once a high-level bank executive, Agla is currently being prosecuted in the aftermath the Icelandic financial crash.

Set in a Reykjavik still covered in the dust of the Eyjafjallajökull volcanic eruption, and with a dark, fast-paced and chilling plot and intriguing characters, Snare is an outstandingly original and sexy Nordic crime thriller, from one of the most exciting new names in crime fiction.
Review
It's kind of ironic that Sonja makes such an excellent drug smuggler. Her planning is meticulous and she seems to be able to out-think the border control by ten steps every time. If left to her own devices she could probably run the whole set-up herself.

There is no doubt that Snare is a well executed crime story, however it is so much more. Sigurdardóttir has created a layered literary cake with a variety of topics, which will appeal to a multitude of readers. The divorce and the custody battle, the complexity of the snare itself and the topic of homosexuality.

Like many women Sonja finds herself in a position of vulnerability after her husband catches her in flagrante with her lover and demands a divorce. He, and society, believes she is at fault and is an unfit mother because her lover is a female. It begs the question whether she allows herself to be treated like a sub-human because she believes the same thing or just because of her guilty conscience.

Either way she finds herself in financial difficulty, which then makes her a target and she ends up trying to make enough money to get her young son back where he belongs. She is willing to go to any length to get custody, a part of the story many readers will identify with. You never know what you're capable of until you're pushed to your limits.

One of the really captivating elements of Snare is the relationship between Alga and Sonja, especially Alga and the rejection of her own emotions and sexuality. She is curious about the inner sanctum and secrets, and yet rejects it all with an equal level of passion. Her entire existence is a balancing act of what she believes she should want and what she really needs.

I really enjoyed the realism. This could happen to anyone, and the snare is explained really well. Being caught between a rock and a hard place. You either do it, commit a crime to achieve your hearts desire or you remain a law-abiding citizen and lose what you love the most. A lose-lose situation, so the reader can't help but feel empathy for the criminal.

The other aspect, which I believe Sigurdardóttir has purposely written in a way that creates a dialogue, is how same gender sexual attraction is still a point of contention for some of those still discovering their sexuality and people who view it as something to feel guilty about.

Snare certainly has a noirish quality to it, however I think it is a strong and vivid Kodak moment of our modern times. It often makes for uncomfortable reading because it is easy to relate to the desperation of the main character, because when it comes down to it, Sonja could be any one of us.

Buy Snare at Amazon Uk or go to Goodreads for any other retailer.
Follow @Orendaboooks

Thursday, 12 October 2017

Rubies in the Roses by Vivian Conroy

This is a cosy mystery with a quintessential English flair to it with eccentric characters and a cheeky four-legged companion.

Guinevere, and her sidekick Dolly the dachshund, are busy cataloging the contents of a library in a Cornish castle when the story of a hidden treasure surfaces. Hidden somewhere in or around the castle. It's the type of mystery that tends to attract a lot of treasure hunters.

In particular a very persistent treasure hunter, who is determined to prove how clever he is and cementing his reputation by finding a wedding goblet encased with jewels. His working theory is that the artefact is somewhere in the castle, and he is willing to do anything to find it.

The Cornish Castle Mysteries are pleasant and fun reads. Perfect for a lazy Sunday afternoon snuggled up in a corner for a spot of relaxation.

Conroy hits the spot for readers who like their crime served with less violence and with more emphasis on the comfortable read, as opposed to the shocking and often quite brutal crime reads.

Buy Rubies in the Roses at Amazon Uk or go to Goodreads for any other retailer.

Read Fatal Masquerade by Vivian Conroy

Follow @VivWrites

Monday, 9 October 2017

Moonlight over Manhattan by Sarah Morgan

In this sixth part of the 'From Manhattan with Love' series we are introduced to the love interest of Harriet. If you've been following the series you will know that she is one half of the Bark Rangers, a dog-walking service run by twin sisters Harriet and Fliss.

Fliss has decided to rekindle her romance with her ex-hubby, and she has also decided to move to The Hamptons. This means Harriet has to get used to doing things by herself. She decides to set herself challenges, to do things she wouldn't normally have the courage to do.

During one of these challenges, which ends up not going to plan, she meets a handsome doctor. A few days later the two of them reconnect when he has difficulty taking care of a rather anxious dog.

Leaving aside the obvious love story this is also a tale about trust and feeling safe. Harriet has a lifetime of insecurities she has to deal with on a daily basis. The question is whether Ethan will make them worse or make her feel secure enough to overcome them.

We might need other people now and again, but every one of us needs to find our own inner strength to achieve our goals and find a wee bit of happiness in life.

In 2018 Sarah Morgan will be going in a slightly new direction, and taking all her readers with her, when she wanders into the more complex sub-genre of Women's Fiction. I am looking forward to this step forwards for Morgan, because it is long overdue in my opinion. It's time she got her teeth into something with a little more substance, to dig deeper and to shower readers with raw emotions, even the kind that don't always leave you feeling happy and content.

Buy Moonlight over Manhattan at Amazon Uk or go to Goodreads for any other retailer.

You can connect with Sarah online at her website: www.sarahmorgan.com on Facebook at www.facebook.com/AuthorSarahMorgan or on Twitter @SarahMorgan_

Read: Holiday in the Hamptons (From Manhattan with Love #5)New York Actually (From Manhattan with Love #4)Miracle on 5th Avenue (From Manhattan with Love #3)Sunset in Central Park (From Manhattan with Love #2)Sleepless in Manhattan (From Manhattan with Love #1)Christmas Ever AfterFirst Time in ForeverMaybe This ChristmasSuddenly Last Summer or The Notting Hill Diaries, all by Sarah Morgan.

Follow @SarahMorgan_@HQStories and @HarperCollinsUK

Friday, 6 October 2017

The Snowman by Jo Nesbo

This is how you do crime Scandinavian style.

Harry Hole is a sober alcoholic, well sort of, sometimes. His inner demons are always there lurking just below the surface, waiting to drag him back down below the murky depths of his disease.

He finds himself drawn into the cat and mouse game of a vicious serial killer called The Snowman, who leaves behind an icy calling card after every kill.

His superiors seem reluctant to accept the existence of a serial killer, which is detrimental to his investigation, and leads to quite a few mistakes. Harry is also saddled with a new colleague and she brings a whole load of baggage with her. Sometimes her actions and statements set his alarm bells ringing. Is she just not up to the job or is something else going on?

I had the Snowman pegged from the beginning. There was just something in the attitude, the demeanour, and in general in the air. A particularly clever talent of the author, to be able to point all the arrows in every direction but at the culprit, and yet at the same time being able to leave a subliminal trail leading straight to the killer.

Nesbo is a master storyteller with an instinct for crime. It will be interesting to see how the story translates onto the big screen, and whether or not they can accurately portray this particular setting and main character without losing the gritty charm.

Buy The Snowman at Amazon Uk or go to Goodreads for any other retailer.

Thursday, 5 October 2017

Blog-Tour: The Man Who Died by Antti Tuomainen


Today is my stop on the Blog-Tour for The Man Who Died by Antti Tuomainen. It is a well-written entertaining crime, which technically has both taken place and not happened yet. It's infused with dark humour and almost slapstick like murderous scenarios. Oh, and let me just give a shout-out to David Hackston for the excellent translation.


About the Author
Finnish Antti Tuomainen (b. 1971) was an award-winning copywriter when he made his literary debut in 2007 as a suspense author. The critically acclaimed My Brother’s Keeper was published two years later. In 2011 Tuomainen’s third novel, The Healer, was awarded the Clue Award for ‘Best Finnish Crime Novel of 2011’ and was shortlisted for the Glass Key Award. The Finnish press labelled The Healer – the story of a writer desperately searching for his missing wife in a post-apocalyptic Helsinki – ‘unputdownable’.

Two years later in 2013 they crowned Tuomainen ‘The King of Helsinki Noir’ when Dark as My Heart was published. The Mine, published in 2016, was an international bestseller. All of his books have been optioned for TV/film. With his piercing and evocative style, Tuomainen is one of the first to challenge the Scandinavian crime genre formula, and The Man Who Died sees him at hisliterary best.
Follow @antti_tuomainen on Twitter on Facebook: facebook.com/antti.tuomainen
Visit anttituomainen.com
Buy The Man Who Died
About the book
A successful entrepreneur in the mushroom industry, Jaakko Kaunismaa is a man in his prime. At just 37 years of age, he is shocked when his doctor tells him that he’s dying. What is more, the cause is discovered to be prolonged exposure to toxins; in other words, someone has slowly but surely been poisoning him. Determined to find out who wants him dead, Jaakko embarks on a suspenseful rollercoaster journey full of unusual characters, bizarre situations and unexpected twists.
With a nod to Fargo and the best elements of the Scandinavian noir tradition, The Man Who Died is a page-turning thriller brimming with the blackest comedy surrounding life and death, and love and betrayal, marking a stunning new departure for the King of Helsinki Noir.
Review
I know this is a departure for Tuomainen from his previous noir crime, but it won't come as a surprise to anyone that this tongue-in-cheek backwards crime story lives up to the reputation that precedes him. This story is written like an Agatha Christie with a vicious streak.

Jaakko is confused by his terminal diagnosis at first. He doesn't really grasp the fact that he is living on borrowed time, and he certainly doesn't comprehend that this is something persons unknown have done to him. From one moment to the next he has become the living dead, although I have to say he makes zombies a lot more appealing.

I think anyone would do the same in his position. Find the murderer before the murder actually takes place. He discovers that his seemingly perfect life is actually a sham. Enemies galore are crawling out of the woodwork.  His career, his marriage and his friendships are all part of a great conspiracy or is it just the illness slowly destroying his grey cells?

On a side note I really enjoyed the way he kept going around thinking and saying 'I have been murdered, you murdered me.' Hilarity is hidden in the seriousness of the situation. Jaakko is the kind of character you can't help but love. He is just a normal man in the middle of unusual circumstances trying to regain his balance and take control of what is left of his life.

The plotting is meticulous, the humour is subtle and yet at the same time sharp, and the main character is quite simply sublime as the victim to be. Tuomainen is definitely an author I will be returning to.

Kudos to the author for creating the kind of read you recommend to others, and the excellent translation by David Hackston.

Buy The Man Who Died at Amazon Uk or go to Goodreads for any other retailer.
Follow @Orendabooks on Twitter


Monday, 2 October 2017

Blog-Tour: Maria in the Moon by Louise Beech

Today I am thrilled to welcome an author from my local area, and to be taking part in the Blog-Tour for Maria in the Moon by Louise Beech. It is a remarkable read you don't want to miss.
About the Author
Louise Beech is an exceptional literary talent, whose debut novel How To Be Brave was a Guardian Readers’ Choice for 2015. The sequel, The Mountain in My Shoe was shortlisted for Not the Booker Prize. Both books have been number one on Kindle, Audible and Kobo in USA/UK/AU. She regularly writes travel pieces for the Hull Daily Mail, where she was a columnist for ten years. Her short fiction has won the Glass Woman Prize, the Eric Hoffer Award for Prose, and the Aesthetica Creative Works competition, as well as shortlisting for the Bridport Prize twice and being published in a variety of UK magazines.
Louise lives with her husband and children on the outskirts of Hull – the UK’s 2017 City of Culture – and loves her job as a Front of House Usher at Hull Truck Theatre, where her first play was performed in 2012. She is also part of the Mums’ Army on Lizzie and Carl’s BBC Radio Humberside Breakfast Show.
Follow @LouiseWriter @Orendabooks #MariaintheMoon
Visit louisebeech.co.uk
Buy Maria in the Moon

About the book
‘Long ago my beloved Nanny Eve chose my name. Then one day she stopped calling me it. I try now to remember why, but I just can’t.’
Thirty-two-year-old Catherine Hope has a great memory. But she can’t remember everything. She can’t remember her ninth year. She can’t remember when her insomnia started. And she can’t remember why everyone stopped calling her Catherine-Maria.
With a promiscuous past, and licking her wounds after a painful breakup, Catherine wonders why she resists anything approaching real love. But when she loses her home to the devastating deluge of 2007 and volunteers at Flood Crisis, a devastating memory emerges … and changes everything.
Dark, poignant and deeply moving, Maria in the Moon is an examination of the nature of memory and truth, and the defences we build to protect ourselves, when we can no longer hide…

Review
Maria in the Moon has echoes of Eleanor Oliphant, especially when it comes to the anti-heroine type of main character. Another common denominator is the fact I enjoyed both stories, because the authors travel far off the well beaten path of literary clichés.

Catherine-Maria has this strange need to help others, she does this by volunteering at crisis helplines, which brings her into contact with people at their most vulnerable moments and often their last moments. Regardless of her own issues, and there are plenty of those, she always manages to wrangle herself into a position where she is confronted with the worst case scenarios in society. Her new pet project is a helpline set up to help the victims of the 2007 floods of Hull and East Yorkshire.

Part and parcel of the volunteering is being known under an alias. This is to keep both the volunteers and the callers safe. In Catherine's case the pseudonym is also an important part of her identity crisis. How can she be Catherine-Maria when she doesn't really know where Catherine-Maria went.

She knows Catherine, the promiscuous danger loving girl with a prickly attitude and a sharp-edged tongue. She knows all the personalities and names she pretends to be. She is a walking, talking example of coping mechanisms. The question is what is she trying to cope with, because at this point she doesn't have a clue. The only thing she knows is she can't remember entire years from her past, and someone is haunting her both at night and during the day.

She meets Christopher there, yet another man she connects with via her volunteer work. At this point one could start to question whether her romantic relationships are just an involuntary reaction to the emotional distress caused by the phone conversations she has to navigate and digest.

Another major part of her story, and the person who steers the majority of her reactions, is her mother. Their relationship is complex and most certainly the cause of many of her problems. Their problems go beyond the normal mother and daughter conflicts.

Maria in the Moon is a cold realistic 'look in through the window' approach to a highly sensitive subject. Beech pulls it off like a million dollar art heist. Although Catherine isn't the most sympathetic of characters, which is completely on par with a real situation of this kind, she does build a tenuous rapport with her audience, the readers. Kudos to Beech for being able to convey the confusion, pain, anger and desperation of the emotional turmoil and most importantly the complexity of the situation.

A commendable and memorable read.

Buy Maria in the Moon at Amazon UK or go to Goodreads for any other retailer.