Death Stalks Kettle Street by John Bowen #BookReview @johnybwrites

About this book…

Some accidents are no accident…

Someone is murdering Greg Unsworth’s neighbours and staging the deaths to look like accidents.

Greg knows the truth, but when he’s grappling with OCD and simply closing his front door and crossing the road are a battle, how is he supposed to catch a serial killer?

From the internationally bestselling author of Where the Dead Walk, Vessel and Cold Sweats & Vignettes comes a cosy murder mystery with a difference…

Meet Greg Unsworth, afflicted with OCD, who begins to realize that a series of fatal accidents on his street are in fact a series of murders. After encountering Beth Grue at the scene of one such crime, the two bond over their shared fears and suspicions, and struggles: Beth has cerebral palsy. When the police repeatedly dismiss their concerns, they take matters into their own hands and attempt to discover the killer’s identity and expose him…

My review…

Wow! I absolutely LOVED this book! I’m always looking to be surprised by the books that I read, I like something a little different-a twist on the norm. And this book had it all for me! It’s probably best described as a cosy mystery but don’t be afraid if that’s not your normal cup of tea as is SO much more than that!

As with any good murder mystery, it is the character or characters solving the crimes that can make or break a book. You need a charismatic figure to investigate-like Agatha Christie with Miss Marple or Poirot. But here the cosy mystery is brought bang up to date with the fabulous pairing of Greg and Beth. And I LOVED THEM! I thought these two were both brilliant character creations. Greg has a very severe case of OCD, he is having therapy but it doesn’t appear to be having much affect. Beth has mild Cerebral palsy and becomes involved in the Kettle Street murders after she delivers a library book to one of the victims. When she meets Greg, who seems to have been selected by the killer to receive clues as to who the victims will be, they come together in a  curious alliance to chase down the suspected murderer. With both of them having their own personal obstacles to overcome, the stage is set for one of the most ingenious and innovative “whodunit”s I have read in a long time.

I can’t recommend this book highly enough. It felt like a perfect storm where everything about it came together to make the perfect mystery thriller. It was intricately plotted and written with a dark humour I found compelling.  I found it totally gripping and unputdownable as I waded through a sea of red herrings and unsympathetic suspects, all the while willing Greg and Beth on to a satisfying conclusion to their detective skills. But did I guess the murderer? I was VERY close……. but NO I didn’t and I loved this book even more for that fact alone!

For any fans of the tv shows Case Histories, Death in Paridise or the Agatha Raison series, Death Stalks Kettle Street will not disappoint. But saying that, this book would itself make a brilliant Sunday night television series-it has an unusual edge that would make fascinating viewing.

This is definitely one of my favourite books of the year so far and I was left quite bereft when it finally came to an end. Just bloody brilliant from start to finish!

My thanks to the author for my review copy of Death Stalks Kettle Street which I have chosen to read and review.

Death Stalks Kettle Street is published on December 9th and is available to purchase at Amazon UK.

Meet the author…

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His debut novel ‘Where the Dead Walk’ is an Amazon Kindle Store Top 100 Bestseller, and his second novel ‘Vessel’ a #1 Bestseller in Kindle Thriller and Mystery.You’re welcome to visit his site and sign up for news, promotional discounts and giveaways – and find out how to pick up a FREE book at:

https://johnbowenauthor.wordpress.com

Find him on Facebook at: http://www.facebook.com/JohnBowenWrites

or contact him directly at:
johnybwrites@gmail.com

or visit him on Facebook at http://www.facebook.com/JohnBowenWrites

Her Last Breath by J.A.Schneider #BlogTour #BookReview #GuestPost @JoyceSchneider1

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Today I am absolutely thrilled to be a stop on the blog tour for Her Last Breath by J.A. Schneider. And I also have a guest post, that Joyce has very kindly written for you all, on what makes a book compelling. Welcome Joyce!

About this book…

A chilling psychological thriller about a woman caught between two men…Mari Gill wakes to horror in a strange apartment next to a murdered man, and can’t remember the night before. Accused of murder, she feels torn between her husband, a successful defense attorney, and a mysterious, kind man who wants to help. Can she trust either of them – or even her friends? Detective Kerri Blasco battles her police bosses believing Mari is innocent…but is she?

Available to buy here

Guest post…

What Makes a Book Most Compelling? by J.A. Schneider

What constitutes the big, mysterious “tug?” That feeling – I call it the ping! – that pulls a potential reader to choose your book over the tsunami of others cramming book stores or Amazon’s pages without number? Is it the cover? The plot or characters?
I can only speak for myself, how I react to choosing the next book…especially if the author is new to me. My decision always seems to happen in three parts.

The cover is what first tugs.
Or doesn’t – no different from why the frosting on one cake looks more wonderful than the frosting on another cake. What’s inside the cake might disappoint, but like the frosting, the book’s cover is what first excites.
Why?
It all comes down to emotion.
Honestly, aren’t all our first reactions based on emotion, before we re-think or tell ourselves we shouldn’t or move on to the next thing? Authors have changed their covers multiple times, hoping that the newer, brighter colors or the half-naked guy’s torso will attract. Sometimes that works, but what to do when every romance cover has an amazingly buff male, or when every thriller/action cover has images that are kinda the same?
Again, emotion rules.
It’s what really grabs, whether the reader is male or female, and regardless of his or her genre preference.
The cover image must have something that pulls at you. Sometimes I’ve even stopped to stare at a cover I thought was ugly…but it was different, and that made it daring, told me something about the author’s voice inside, beckoning.
Her Last Breath is my eighth book, and I’ve never gotten such a response to any of my other covers. The close-up of that woman’s face…oh gasp…is she dying? Desperate? When I first saw her face, after many evenings scouring Shutterstock, I couldn’t get her out of my mind. Other cover ideas beckoned, but that face kept haunting me.
And pulling me back.
The emotion of that cover is so focused, intense. Nothing too busy or muddled to confuse one’s emotional reaction. On Twitter I keep hearing, “Ooh, wow.”
It helps a lot if your cover has that “Ooh, wow” feeling.
Because feelings rule.
Always.

Character
Character pulls me in next. If the character described in the blurb intrigues or tugs at my heart, I’m hooked.
Because of emotion again.
We all laugh, cry, feel stress and anxiety, and if I identify with the character’s trouble and how s/he deals with it – download!
Ditto the appeal of the antagonist – if what s/he is doing outrages or astounds, I definitely want to know more. (Am I the only one who felt a bit sorry for the husband in Gone Girl? He was a jerk – right, so divorce him! Don’t subject him and your family and everyone to such evil.)
But villains might be the most compelling characters of all. Imagine Peter Pan without Captain Hook: you’d have a bland nothing. Then there are the never-ending parade of serial killers. How to make them astounding? What makes Hannibal Lecter rise above all others in his monstrosity? That in itself could be the subject for a thesis, starting with the fact that Thomas Harris’s writing is so incredibly great.
Which brings us to…
The hardest job of the writer – the one we all struggle with – which is to go deep, explore and develop our characters as fully as possible. Make them emotionally compelling, different, wildly colorful even if they’re bad. THAT is the real challenge, the thing that elevates good writing from depicting mere caricatures.

Plot
The plot should work. It really should, but if it doesn’t and if the writing has been fabulous, we are more likely to forgive…a little, depending on the reader. Somewhere I read that Stephen King just doesn’t know how to end a book, whereas he has described the plots of Ira Levin (Rosemary’s Baby, The Boys From Brazil, The Stepford Wives) as having “the brilliance of a Swiss watch.”

For me, the best, most satisfying reads combine numbers 2 & 3. A really satisfying ending after a story of fascinating, different characters, deeply explored and developed…
…ah, bliss.
That plus cake. Make mine chocolate, with fudge frosting. 

My review of Her Last Breath…

Although billed as book #2 in a series, this is very much a standalone novel and anything you need to know about Kerri and her backstory is covered very well. But after reading you will probably be such a big fan of the lovely Kerri that you will be seeking out her first case anyway! The main character here in this book is actually Mari but Kerri plays her role well as police detective with a heart and an instinctive nose for the truth.

Now I’m pretty sure that we have all had times where we have had a few drinks too many and the next day things are a little bit….fuzzy? Well imagine that you have woken up unable to remember a thing about the previous night but you are laying next to a dead body! And even worse, the police think that you murdered them! This is the horrific situation that Mari finds herself in after a party. The man is a famous fashion photographer but Mari has no recollection of meeting him EVER! Thankfully, her estranged husband Ted is a defence lawyer and as they parted on good terms he comes to her rescue. Along with Jay, the witness who discovered Mari in the dead man’s apartment when he saved her own life, they try to clear Mari’s name.

I really enjoyed this murder mystery with a twist and the fact that it was set on the streets of New York gave it an added thrill for me as I adore books set there. It felt like Alfred Hitchcock had taken over a Mary Higgins Clark book! And I love books featuring strong female characters so to have two in one book was a double whammy for me! I was caught up in Mari and her dilemma straight away from the first page when she wakes up and her strength of character and personality became an integral part of the plot for me. I would have gone to pieces but Mari pushed through her self doubts to put herself in the path of further danger. And Kerri was able to put aside her heartbreaking personal problems to stick to her principles and trust her gut instinct.

I think I surprised myself in how much I enjoyed this book which has been written by a new author for me. There was a real sense of realism in the characters and also the settings that showed a depth of research and a concern for the fictional personalities she was creating for us the readers.  I will be very happy to see what Kerri does next both in her career and her personal life.  A gripping and compelling thriller that should come with a warning to have absolutely no plans for a social life until you have read that last page!

I received my review copy of Her Last Breath from the author.

About the author…

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J.A. (Joyce Anne) Schneider is a former staffer at Newsweek. Once a Liberal Arts major (French Literature), she has become increasingly fascinated with medicine, forensic science, and human psychology. She lives with her family in Connecticut, USA.

Death at the Seaside by Frances Brody #BlogTour #BookReview @ClaraHDiaz @FrancesBrody

So today I’m delighted to be a stop on the blog tour for the 8th Kate Shackleton Mystery called Death at the Seaside. And it’s publication day!

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About the book…

Nothing ever happens in August, and tenacious sleuth Kate Shackleton deserves a break. Heading off for a long-overdue holiday to Whitby, she visits her school friend Alma who works as a fortune teller there.

Kate had been looking forward to a relaxing seaside sojourn, but upon arrival discovers that Alma’s daughter Felicity has disappeared, leaving her mother a note and the pawn ticket for their only asset: a watch-guard. What makes this more intriguing is the jeweller who advanced Felicity the thirty shillings is Jack Phillips, Alma’s current gentleman friend.

Kate can’t help but become involved, and goes to the jeweller’s shop to get some answers. When she makes a horrifying discovery in the back room, it soon becomes clear that her services are needed. Met by a wall of silence by town officials, keen to maintain Whitby’s idyllic façade, it’s up to Kate – ably assisted by Jim Sykes and Mrs Sugden – to discover the truth behind Felicity’s disappearance.

And they say nothing happens in August . . .

My review…

I’ve only read a couple in the Kate Shackleton series before but was very keen to read this instalment as it’s set at the seaside which is my favourite place to be as everyone knows! And I have also been to Whitby so was very interested to revisit it in all it’s past seaside glory. That’s what I love about these books because you almost feel you have time travelled back to the 1920s, with this authors very graphic descriptions giving you a true feeling of times past. I’ve never been a huge fan of the so called “cosy mystery” but I’ve taken to this series due to the images and atmosphere it invokes which, alongside a very likeable strong minded heroine, make these books my guilty pleasure! And the covers have some of the most gorgeous “art deco” artwork I’ve seen-totally eye-catching to potential readers.

Kate is off to Whitby for a summer break which she intends to combine with some time spent with her friend from school Alma and Alma’s 16 year old daughter Felicity. But as soon as she arrives there she is thrown head first into drama when she finds a dead body whilst looking in the local jewellers shop and then finds out that Felicity has gone missing! And that’s when Kate steps in, risking her reputation to begin sleuthing in earnest! There are lots of twists and turns galore here and some wonderfully eccentric characters. The seaside  setting conjures up long hot British summers full of holidaymakers and little tearooms on the seafront, the little touches from years gone past when we assume it was a more innocent time. but unfortunately for Kate murder seems to follow her wherever she goes-even on holiday! I know its probably been said before but the evocative imagery here makes me believe that this would make a great Sunday night television series. It has smart and incisive storylines that are head and shoulders above some of the cosy crime series that are around at the moment.

This is a great addition to the series with a twisty whodunit that I found thoroughly satisfying.

Thanks to Clara at Little Brown Books for my ARC of Death at the Seaside and this is my unbiased review in return.

Death at the Seaside (Kate Shackleton Mysteries Book 8) is published by Little Brown Books on 6th October and is available to buy here at Amazon.

About the author…

Frances Brody is the author of the Kate Shackleton mysteries, as well as many stories and plays for BBC Radio, scripts for television and four sagas, one of which won the HarperCollins Elizabeth Elgin Award. Her stage plays have been toured by several theatre companies and produced at Manchester Library Theatre, the Gate and Nottingham Playhouse, and Jehad was nominated for a Time Out Award.