#BookReview: THE LOST MAN by Jane Harper @janeharperautho @caolinndouglas @GraceEVincent @LittleBrownUK #TheLostMan

the lost manPublication: 7th February 2019 – Little, Brown

He had started to remove his clothes as logic had deserted him, and his skin was cracked. Whatever had been going through Cameron’s mind when he was alive, he didn’t look peaceful in death.

Two brothers meet at the remote border of their vast cattle properties under the unrelenting sun of the outback. In an isolated part of Australia, they are each other’s nearest neighbour, their homes hours apart.

They are at the stockman’s grave, a landmark so old that no one can remember who is buried there. But today, the scant shadow it casts was the last hope for their middle brother, Cameron. The Bright family’s quiet existence is thrown into grief and anguish.

Something had been troubling Cameron. Did he choose to walk to his death? Because if he didn’t, the isolation of the outback leaves few suspects…

 

Welcome to my stop on the blog tour of THE LOST MAN, the thrilling new novel by Jane Harper and I’d like to thank Caolinn Douglas and Little, Brown for providing me with a proof of this remarkable novel.

I love, I really do love Jane Harper’s novels. Once I start reading one of her books, I can’t put it down. The Dry made me a big fan of this author and Force of Nature reinforced my admiration, and after THE LOST MAN there is no going back… Jane Harper is definetely one of my favourite authors.

Set in the dry and hot Australian landscape, THE LOST MAN is the story of the three Bright brothers, Nathan, Cam, and Bub. When Cam is found dead of dehydration, some thinks it’s suicide, others think it was an accident, but Nathan thinks there is more to it and he finds himself investigating the members of his family. Through Nathan’s memories, family secrets, resentment, and a past of abuse come to light helping Nathan figure out what really happened to his brother.

THE LOST MAN is slow-paced and character-driven, it’s an emotional and compelling novel. Some of the characters are more likable than others, but they are all engaging and well-developed. Jane Harper’s excellent writing style and attention to details keeps the reader glued to the pages and she manages to keep the suspense always high and you never know what to expect next. As one who reads many, many, maybe too many, mystery novels, I am happy that I am ways taken by surprise and that I never know what to expect in Jane Harper’s novels.

I find the Australian landscape fascinating: so hot, dangerous, unfamiliar, and claustrophobic. The heat, the dust storms, and the isolation make for an uninhabitable place, but thanks to the author’s beautiful descriptions, the Australian outback comes to life through the pages.

Jane Harper did it again. She wrote a superb, unique, and compulsive novel set in the Australian outback, a story of family, abuse, forgiveness, and relationship that kept me completely captivated. If you haven’t read Jane Harper’s novel, what are you waiting for?

 

5

#BookReview: THE STONE CIRCLE by Elly Griffiths @ellygriffiths @QuercusBooks

the stone circlePublication: 7th February 2019 – Quercus

DCI Nelson has been receiving threatening letters telling him to ‘go to the stone circle and rescue the innocent who is buried there’. He is shaken, not only because children are very much on his mind, with Michelle’s baby due to be born, but because although the letters are anonymous, they are somehow familiar. They read like the letters that first drew him into the case of The Crossing Places, and to Ruth. But the author of those letters is dead. Or are they?

Meanwhile Ruth is working on a dig in the Saltmarsh – another henge, known by the archaeologists as the stone circle – trying not to think about the baby. Then bones are found on the site, and identified as those of Margaret Lacey, a twelve-year-old girl who disappeared thirty years ago.

As the Margaret Lacey case progresses, more and more aspects of it begin to hark back to that first case of The Crossing Places, and to Scarlett Henderson, the girl Nelson couldn’t save. The past is reaching out for Ruth and Nelson, and its grip is deadly.

 

Happy publication day to Elly Griffiths! I am always happy when a new Ruth Galloway novel comes out and it’s a pleasure to go back to North Norfolk and to a cast of characters that have now become familiar and THE STONE CIRCLE is a fantastic new addition to a brilliant series.

After the body of a young girl who had disappearad thirty years earlier is found in a dig, Dr. Ruth Galloway and DCI Nelson find themselved entangled in a family drama and a mystery full of suspects and surprises. Add to this anonymous and cryptic letters, folklore, magic, and superstition and you have another gripping and thrilling novel by Elly Griffiths.

The plot is chilling, suspenseful, and, luckily, difficult to predict. We revisit old storylines and meet again characters from the previous novels, but the story is still original and captivating. Of course, what really keeps me engrossed to this series and makes me eager to read every new novel that comes out are the characters created by Elly Griffiths. I am addicted to Ruth and Nelson’s very complicated relationship and I always want to find out more about them. In this novel, things are made more difficult by the arrival of a suitor for Ruth and the birth of Michelle and Nelson’s son. We also see more of Rebecca and Laura, Nelson and Michelle’s adult daughters, and I always enjoy reading about Ruth and Nelson’s seven-year-old daughter, Katie, who I find really adorable. My favourite character is Cathbad, a modern day druid, who knows how to keep me entertained and who makes me laugh.

Once again, I found myself completely engrossed in a novel by Elly Griffiths and I read THE STONE CIRCLE in less than two days. I love the characters, the stories, the setting, and the author’s clear and beautiful prose and I am already looking forward to the twelfth novel of this amazing series.

#BookReview: LITTLE DIRTY SECRETS by Jo Spain @QuercusBooks @SpainJoanne @MillsReid11 #DirtyLittleSecrets

dirty little secretsPublication: 7th February 2019 – Quercus

Six neighbours, six secrets, six reasons to want Olive Collins dead.

In the exclusive gated community of Withered Vale, people’s lives appear as perfect as their beautifully manicured lawns. Money, success, privilege – the residents have it all. Life is good.

There’s just one problem.

Olive Collins’ dead body has been rotting inside number four for the last three months. Her neighbours say they’re shocked at the discovery but nobody thought to check on her when she vanished from sight.

The police start to ask questions and the seemingly flawless facade begins to crack. Because, when it comes to Olive’s neighbours, it seems each of them has something to hide, something to lose and everything to gain from her death.

If you are a fan of Liane Moriarty’s books, then you are really going to love the new gripping novel by Jo Spain. Set in an exclusive gated community where everyone is hiding something, DIRTY LITTLE SECRETS is a brilliant and twisty novel that I found really hard to put down. This is not a surprise for me because it happens every time I read one of her novels.

There are seven houses in Withered Vale: two families with children, a single mother with her teenage daughter, a retired couple, and two single men. And then there is Olive Collins. In her fifties, single, and retired, Olive has been dead in her house for three months before her neighbours noticed and they did notice only because of the bad smell coming from her house. Frank and Emma are the detectives who are trying to figure out if Olive’s death was an accident or a murder and, as they interview the community, they discover that everyone in Withered Vale wanted Olive gone.

The story is told from the points of views of all the characters in the novel, including Olive who tells her side of the story from the grave (which, by the way, reminded me a lot of Desperate Housewives). Jo Spain created a cast of well-crafted and diverse characters that fit perfectly in the story. Even though they live in close proximity, there is no sense of community between the residents of Withered Vale. They don’t like or trust each other. And I didn’t like some of them, while I cheered on some of the others (especially Alison Daly and her daughter Holly). I loved the characters of Frank and Emma, the detectives investigating Olive’s death. Frank is in his fifties, three months from retirement, and tired of all the bad things he sees in his job. On the other hand, Emma is young, enthusiastic, and eager to prove herself. Together they make an odd pair and their exchanges make an entertaining read.

I was fascinated by the setting of the novel. The community of Withered Vale should be safe with its gates and alarms, but it feels more like a prison and when one of them is found dead, the police doesn’t even think to investigate outside of the community.

DIRTY LITTLE SECRETS kept me completely hooked. I found the story masterfully plotted: with each chapter I read, a new suspect would come up, making it impossible to figure out the killer and I loved the ending which was brilliant and completely unexpected. Chilling, twisty, and captivating, DIRTY LITTLE SECRETS is definitely another must-read from Jo Spain.

blog blast (1)

#BookReview: NEVER TELL by Lisa Gardner @LisaGardnerBks @PenguinUKBooks #DDWarren

never tellPublication: 21st February 2019 – Cornerstone

One death might be an accident.
Two deaths looks like murder.

A man is shot dead in his own home, and his pregnant wife, Evie, is found with the gun in her hands.

Detective D.D. Warren instantly recognises her. Sixteen years ago, Evie also shot her own father. That killing was ruled an accident.

D.D. doesn’t believe in coincidences. But this case isn’t as open and shut as it first appears, and her job is to discover the truth.

Evie might be a victim.

Or she might be about to get away with murder again.

 

I am ashamed to say I am new to the novels by Lisa Gardner. I mean, I have heard of her, but I have never read any of her novels. When I saw that NEVER TELL, her last novel, was on NetGalley, a story about a young woman accused of killing her husband after getting away with her father’s murder sixteen years earlier, I was really intrigued and I decided to give it a try and I am really happy I did.

The protagonists of this novel are three women, three strong-willed, smart, kick-ass women, who won’t stop until they find out the truth. The first one is Evie. She was the character that it was more difficult to read. Having spent all her life living in the shadow of her genius father, Evie is very introvert, at times, she seems naive, and she is clearly hiding something. When she was sixteen years old Evie “accidentally” shot and killed her father. Now, the police find her standing next to the body of her husband Connor, who’s been shot three times and she is the one holding a gun. She claims she didn’t kill him, but how many times you can get away with murder?

Investigating Connor’s death is detective D. D. Warren. She investigated the death of Evie’s father sixteen years earlier and she thinks it’s too much of a coincidence that another man in Evie’s life has been shot dead. However, as she dugs deeper into Connor’s life she starts to think that things are much more complicated than it seems, especially after Fiona Dane gets involved. This is the tenth novel featuring D. D. Warren. She is really good at her job, she follows the evidence, but she is not afraid to think outside the box. There are a few glimpses into her family life and I enjoyed reading about her energetic son and her vivacious dog

Fiona was kidnapped and abused when she was in college and now she is an activist and one of DD informant. She had met Connor before and his death forces her to revisit memories from her past. Her tale was particularly hard to read, but Fiona is the character I admired most for her determination and stubbornness.

The characters are realistic, well-developed and engaging, the plot is gripping, compelling, and full of twists, and the author addresses themes that make for a thought-provoking and sometimes disturbing read. I really liked the author’s writing style, clear and immersive, and I am definitely going to catch up and read all her previous novels which, I am sure, are as captivating as NEVER TELL.

 

#BookReview: THE LAST by Hanna Jameson @Hanna_Jameson @VikingBooksUK

the lastPublication: 31st January 2019 – Viking Books

BREAKING: Nuclear weapon detonates over Washington

Historian Jon Keller is on a trip to Switzerland when the world ends. As the lights go out on civilisation, he wishes he had a way of knowing whether his wife, Nadia, and their two daughters are still alive. More than anything, Jon wishes he hadn’t ignored Nadia’s last message.

Twenty people remain in Jon’s hotel. Far from the nearest city and walled in by towering trees, they wait, they survive.

Then one day, the body of a young girl is found. It’s clear she has been murdered. Which means that someone in the hotel is a killer.

As paranoia descends, Jon decides to investigate. But how far is he willing to go in pursuit of justice? And what kind of justice can he hope for, when society as he knows it no longer exists?

 

Hanna Jameson describes a scary scenario: a nuclear war between the nations and the end of the world as we know it. Now, imagine that during all this, you are safe in a remote hotel in Switzerland, but with no communication with the outside world, no electricity, and no internet, so you have no idea what is going on out there, you don’t know how many people are still alive, you don’t know if your loved ones are still alive. That’s the story created by the author, a story that made me feel slightly anxious and tense.

Slow-paced and with an atmosphere that, at times, I found claustrophobic, THE LAST is told from the point of view of Jon Keller, an American history professor in Switzerland for a convention. He is staying at the big and isolated Hotel Sixiéme when the world ends so, with no way to reach for his family back in America and not knowing if he will survive, he decides to keep a diary, a journal that records everything that happens in the hotel on the days following the disaster. He interviews the other guests to ask what they remember about the day the world ended, he narrates the panic, the fear, the paranoia that takes hold of everyone in the hotel.

THE LAST can be read as a character study of how people react to catastrophes, how some people just give up on living while others show their surviving skills and fight to live another day. It shows a group of people, mostly strangers, forced to live together and to govern themselves, but they are surrounded by feelings of jealousy and suspicion and they don’t know who they can trust.

While people don’t know what to do, don’t know if they will survive, a mystery in the background keeps Jon busy. The body of a young girl is found in a water tank, she was murdered and Jon becomes obsessed with discovering the killer. This second storyline gives a more suspenseful feeling to the story, especially after it’s revaled that the Hotel Sixiéme has a history of murders in the past.

THE LAST is a dystopian thriller, it’s thrilling, thought-provoking, and well-written and I was so engrossed in it that when I finished reading I looked around and it took me a few seconds to realize that, luckily, there hadn’t been a nuclear war and the world hadn’t ended.

#BlogTour: OH, I DO LIKE TO BE… by Marie Phillips @mpphillips @unbounders @annecater #RandomThingsTours

Oh I Do Like To Be CoverPublication: 24th January 2019 – Unbound

Shakespeare clone and would-be playwright Billy has just arrived in an English seaside town with his sister Sally, who was cloned from a hair found on the back of a bus seat. All Billy wants is a cheap B&B, an ice cream and a huge hit in the West End. Little does he know that their fellow clones Bill and Sal are also residents of this town. Things are about to get confusing – cue professional rivalry, marital discord and a family reunion like no other.

This modern update of The Comedy of Errors is what you get when Gods Behaving Badly author Marie Phillips decides to write an important, scholarly work about the life of William Shakespeare, reads the complete works, including the long poems nobody likes, and then decides to turn it into a witty, delightful romp that you can probably finish reading in an afternoon with two tea breaks.

 

Having studied Latin and Ancient Greek Literature in high school, I always loved comedies featuring mistaken identities, brothers and sisters separated at birth and then reunited, funny situations created by misunderstandings that, then, I found and loved in William Shakespeare’s The Comedy of Errors. So, when I read that OH, I DO LIKE TO BE is a “modern update” of the Shakespearean comedy, I was really looking forward to read it and I wasn’t disappointed.

Billy and Bill don’t know each other, but they have so many things in common. They both look like William Shakespeare, they are both playwrights (although one is very successful, while the other is not), they both have a sister, Sally and Sal, who look like each other. What else? Oh, right, together with their sisters, they are both clones created by a scientist, but they don’t know of each other existence.

For the last five years, struggling writer Billy and his sister Sally have been moving from town to town as Billy struggles to write a successful play. They arrive in a small town where successful playwright Bill lives with his wife and with his sister Sal. Bill has a secret to hide and Billy, who looks exactly like him, finds himself involved in his lies and deception causing a series of hilarious and improbable situations that made me laugh out aloud.

With a clear prose, engaging characters, and a little touch of fantasy (the clonation of Shakespeare) this was such an entertaining and quick read. The author’s writing style is simple and fluid, I literally flew through the pages. The characters are likable, funny, and a little simple-minded (especially Sally and Sal). Being familiar with The Comedy of Errors, I knew how the novel was going to end, but I still found a few surprises along the way that kept me entertained.

OH, I DO LIKE TO BE is a charming, enjoyable, and immersive read and I’d like to thank Anne Cater for inviting me to take part in the blog tour.

Oh I Do Like To Be Blog Tour Poster

Marie Phillips Author Picture

Marie Phillips is the author of the international bestseller Gods Behaving Badly and The Table of Less Valued Knights, which was longlisted for the Baileys Prize. With Robert Hudson, she wrote the BBC Radio 4 series Warhorses of Letters and Some Hay in a Manger. Under the name Vanessa Parody, she co-wrote Fifty Shelves of Grey, a spoof of Fifty Shades of Grey.

#BookReview: THE SUSPECT by Fiona Barton @figbarton @TransworldBooks @ThomasssHill

the suspectPublication: 24th January 2019 – Transworld Books
‘The police belonged to another world – the world they saw on the television or in the papers. Not theirs.’

When two eighteen-year-old girls go missing on their gap year in Thailand, their families are thrust into the international spotlight: desperate, bereft and frantic with worry. 

Journalist Kate Waters always does everything she can to be first to the story, first with the exclusive, first to discover the truth – and this time is no exception. But she can’t help but think of her own son, who she hasn’t seen in two years, since he left home to go travelling. This time it’s personal.

And as the case of the missing girls unfolds, they will all find that even this far away, danger can lie closer to home than you might think . . .

 

Reporter Kate Waters is back. This time she investigates the disappearance of Alex and Rosie, two young women who went missing in Thailand during their gap year. Their parents are very worried about them and, with no other exciting story to make the headlines, Kate wants to discover what happened to them, but soon things take a personal turn for her.

Even though it’s the third book that has as protagonist journalist Kate Waters, THE SUSPECT can perfectly be read as a stand-alone. The story is told from different points of views. Kate is a brilliant reporter who doesn’t stop until she finds out the truth. She knows how to talk to families and how to get the police to reveal things to her. Without hesitation, she travels to Thailand to find out what happened to Alex and Rosie, but she has also her personal reason to go: she hopes to find her son Jake who left university to find himself in Thailand and she hasn’t heard from him in two months. In the meantime, DI Sparkes is investigating the girls’ disappearance from England, but he has his own personal problems to deal with as his wife has cancer. Then we have Lesley’s point of view. She is Alex’s mother. She doesn’t stop until she finds out what happened to her daughter and it was painful to read this mother’s worry, distress, and grief to her daughter’s disappearance. However, Alex’s point of view was the hardest to read. She is a young girl full of expectations and curiosity. She’s been planning her trip to Thailand for months, but, right from the beginning, things don’t go as she hoped. As I read her narrative, her frustration at Rosie, her disappointment in the whole trip, I really felt for her.

Fiona Barton masterly portrays three mothers who only see the good in their children, no matter what is the truth, three mothers who are ready to do anything to find their children, including traveling in a foreign country and dealing with a police force that is not cooperative and journalists who twist the truth to sell more copies. They are determined and brave. They are likable and realistic and the descriptions of their panic and concern makes them more human.

Once again, Fiona Barton didn’t disappoint. After The Widow and The Child, she returns with a thrilling, dark, and riveting novel that captivated me from the first to the very last page and a final revelation that completely took me by surprise.