Old Friends and New Enemies by Owen Mullins #BlogTour @Bloodhoundbook

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Old Friends and New Enemies by Owen Mullen

About this book…

The body on the mortuary slab wasn’t who Glasgow PI Charlie Cameron was looking for. But it wasn’t a stranger. Ian Selkirk must have crossed some dangerous people. Because now he was dead. Stabbed through the heart and dumped in the loch. Suddenly, a routine missing persons investigation becomes a fight for survival as Charlie goes up against notorious gangster, Jimmy Rafferty, who has ruled the east end of the city with fear for over thirty years. Rafferty is ruthless. Even his own family are terrified of him. But Jimmy’s best days are behind him and in the Rafferty clan a power struggle is taking place between the sons. Finding what the thief stole is the old man’s last chance to protect what he has built and hold on to power just a little longer. He wants to use Charlie to get it for him. And Jimmy Rafferty always gets what he wants. The trail runs from the cold dark water of Loch Lomond to the golden beaches of southern Spain, from the terraces of Celtic Park to a thrilling climax on the battlements of Edinburgh Castle. Charlie must give Rafferty what he needs or die. Only one problem. Charlie doesn’t know where it is.

My review…

Having read and enjoyed Games People Play by Owen Mullen, I was keen to read Book two in the series. It can be read as a standalone though.There seems to have been a few books recently that have featured a PI as the central character, there to solve a mystery as an aside to a police investigation, but the charismatic Charlie Cameron is one of the better ones that I’ve come across.

I wasn’t as emotionally involved in the plot of this second book as I was the first but it was an interesting twist to have Charlie searching for a missing husband and viewing a body that was possibly his at the morgue but instead the deceased turns out to be an old friend! Surely just a coincidence but Owen is then drawn into an underground world of gangsters who believe that Charlie is the key to finding a very large amount of cash. I loved the softer side of Charlie that came out once his old friend Fiona appeared on the scene. He doesn’t give much away usually but I felt Fiona brought him out of himself a little more and that emotion fed through to his investigations. The usual sidekicks were back, Jackie at NYB and Pat which let us explore their back stories a little more. Although my favourite has to be the Big Issue seller who I hope has chance of a bigger role in future books.

Having lived in and around Glasgow, Edinburgh and Dunbartonshire for many years, I think a lot of my enjoyment came from recognising the local landmarks and I loved the authenticity of Charlie’s surroundings. The start and the ending really held my attention but there was a time in the middle that I kind of lost my way a bit. Thankfully, once back on track the finale raced along to the end with an unexpectedly chilling last few pages. Although set in recent years, many times I felt as if I were reading a vintage PI story set in the 1940s especially in the way it was told in those short sharp sentences and dialogue. But this just added to this rather atmospheric and dark thriller.

Thank you to the Bloodhound books for providing me with a review copy of Old Friends and New Enemies which was published on 21st February.

The Damselfly by S.J.I. Holliday #BookReview #TBConFB

About this book…

An unsolved murder. A community turned against each other. A killer close to home…

Katie Taylor is the perfect student. She’s bright and funny, she has a boyfriend who adores her and there are only a few months left of school before she can swap Banktoun for the bright lights of London. Life gets even better when she has an unexpected win on a scratch card. But then Katie’s luck runs out.

Her tragic death instead becomes the latest in a series of dark mysteries blighting the small town. The new school counsellor Polly McAllister, who has recently returned to Banktoun to make amends in her own personal life, is thrown in at the deep end as the pupils and staff come to terms with Katie’s death. And it’s not long before she uncovers a multitude of murky secrets. Did Katie have enemies? Is her boyfriend really so squeaky clean? And who is her brother’s mysterious friend?

With Banktoun’s insular community inflamed by gossip and a baying mob stirring itself into a frenzy on social media, DS Davie Gray and DC Louise Jennings must work out who really murdered Katie before someone takes matters into their own hands…

The Damselfly is the latest novel from the bestselling author of Black Wood and Willow Walk set in the small Scottish town of Banktoun. Fans of Rachel Abbott, Angela Marsonsand Peter James will love this rivetting psychological crime thriller as DS Davie Gray tries to hold together a community once again rocked by tragedy.

My review…

This is the third book (and as its a trilogy supposedly the last!?) in the Banktoun series by S.J.I.Holliday and I have to admit that it’s actually the best one so far. I liked Black Wood, I really liked Willow Walk but I loved The Damselfly! All of these books can be read as standalone novels but there are little threads running throughout this which may mean more to you if you’ve read the previous books. And if you haven’t, WHY NOT?

But I ended up feeling quite bereft after the first few pages, as I really liked Katie Taylor, with her hopes and dreams for a better life for herself. She is about to escape her unsupportive family and make a fresh start in London until she is discovered dead in her bedroom. Honestly, I would have been far happier for her awful sister Brooke or her apathetic mother Mandy to have met a sticky end! Before her death Katie won enough money on a scratch card to facilitate her on her journey to a new life but did this contribute towards her sudden demise? Back to Banktoun comes Davie Gray, fresh from his detective training, to work with Louise Jennings on this new case. But there’s also another familiar face returning to the scene of the crime. Just what secrets are the inhabitants of Banktoun hiding?

What I love about this series is that it seems so realistic! Banktoun could really exist with its vividly described surroundings and local townsfolk. Policeman Davie quickly slips back into his role of community protector as he carefully works his way through the evidence presented. I loved his enigmatic, calm demeanour and quiet determination to solve the case which was complimented by Louise, a compassionate sidekick, still not quite hardened to the rippling effects of violent crime.

The use of various social media gave this addition to the series a particularly current feel. There are regular posts published on the ThreeWiseMonkeys blog, author unknown, and a secret vigilante group on Facebook determined to name and shame the suspect they are convinced murdered Katie. These, alongside the short and intense chapters told by Polly, Louise and Neil kept me engaged in the highly addictive storyline right up to the breathtakingly dramatic finale.

S.J.I. Holliday has taken her dark and compelling Scottish crime novels and built a series that will be sadly missed if it stops here! I don’t think I have ever been as devastated as I was when I read the final few pages of The Damselfly, thinking that it could be my last vist to Banktoun! I’m hoping it is lying asleep somewhere like a modern day Brigadoon just waiting to be reawakened by a few taps on the authors keyboard. This has been a brilliant series which has concluded with the best book so far in my opinion and so it comes highly recommended by me.

My thanks to TBConFB for my review copy of The Damselfly.

The Damselfly: A gripping and unnerving crime thriller is published on 2nd February 2017 by B&W publishing.

Meet the author…

SJI Holliday
S.J.I. (Susi) Holliday grew up in East Lothian. A life-long fan of crime and horror, her short stories have been published in various places, and she was shortlisted for the inaugural CWA Margery Allingham prize. She has written three crime novels, a mix of police procedural and psychological thriller, set in the fictional Scottish town of Banktoun. They are: Black Wood, Willow Walk and The Damselfly – all featuring the much loved character, Davie Gray. Susi also works as a pharmaceutical statistician. She is married and lives in London, and you will find her at crime fiction events in the UK and abroad. 
You can find out more at her website: http://www.sjiholliday.com and on Facebook and Twitter @SJIHolliday.

Dead Man’s Prayer by Jackie Baldwin #BookReview @JackieMBaldwin1

About this book…

A dark and gripping crime debut, the first in an exciting new series. Eighteen years ago, DI Frank Farrell turned his back on the church. But when an ex-priest is murdered in his hometown, he has no choice but to delve into his past. Perfect for fans of Stuart MacBride, James Oswald and Val McDermid.

Ex-priest DI Frank Farrell has returned to his roots in Dumfries, only to be landed with a disturbing murder case. Even worse, Farrell knows the victim: Father Boyd, the man who forced him out of the priesthood eighteen years earlier.

With no leads, Farrell must delve into the old priest’s past, one that is inexorably linked with his own. But his attention is diverted when a pair of twin boys go missing. The Dumfries police force recover one in an abandoned church, unharmed. But where is his brother?

As Farrell investigates the two cases, he can’t help but feel targeted. Is someone playing a sinister game, or is he seeing patterns that don’t exist? Either way, it’s a game Farrell needs to win before he loses his grip on his sanity, or someone else turns up dead.

My review…

This book had been on my radar for a while before I picked up a copy to read. A few reviewers had said they thought it would be a book I would enjoy and they were absolutely right! It had all my favourite elements for a police procedural and I devoured it within a matter of hours.

The Scottish crime thriller scene is huge at the moment but Jackie Baldwin has written a self assured debut that has slotted into the current market as if she had been around for years. Her fictional detective DI Frank Farrell is a great character creation and I was cheering him on from the off! I liked the fact that he had a very different backstory having previously been a priest. The layers that his former vocation gave to his personality meant that, although I took to him, I never quite fully anticipated what actions he would take next. Especially once he comes into contact with former friends and family.

I love the way Jackie Baldwin writes. There was just the right mix of police investigation and personal problems with a host of supporting characters that I’d love to meet again and find out more about. The use of the twin boys in the plot was a particular favourite theme for me (everyone knows I’m a huge fan of twin psychology!) and the twists and turns here meant we were never quite sure where the motives overlapped and why.

I’m really looking forward to seeing where the author takes DI Farrell next. His individuality stands out for me making him an intriguing personality that I’m keen to delve into further. The characterisation, plus the fact that this is a well researched crime thriller, means I am more than happy to recommend it to other fans of this genre. 

Many thanks to the author for my copy of Dead Man’s Prayer which I have chosen to read and review.

Dead Man’s Prayer: A gripping detective thriller with a killer twist (DI Frank Farrell, Book 1) is out now and available to purchase at Amazon UK

Meet the author…

Jackie Baldwin
Jackie Baldwin was born in Dumfries. She studied law at Edinburgh University then practised as a solicitor in a rural town for twenty years specialising in family and criminal law. She then trained as a hypnotherapist and now works from home. She is married with two (almost) grown up children and loves to walk with her two dogs in local forests. She is an active member of her local crime writing group.

A Suitable Lie by Michael J Malone #BookReview @OrendaBooks

About this book…

Andy Boyd thinks he is the luckiest man alive. Widowed with a young child, after his wife dies in childbirth, he is certain that he will never again experience true love. Then he meets Anna. Feisty, fun and beautiful, she’s his perfect match… And she loves his son, too. When Andy ends up in the hospital on his wedding night, he receives his first clue that Anna is not all that she seems. He ignores it; a dangerous mistake that could cost him everything. A brave, deeply moving psychological thriller which marks a stunning departure for one of Scotland’s top crime writers.

My review

So, after being told by so many readers and reviewers that this was their top book of 2016 and that I HAD to read it, I finally gave in. But I was worried that this book and its author now had an awful lot to live up to. So did it? Absolutely 100% yes!!

Domestic violence is always going to be a tricky subject to write about, there is typically going to be half of a partnership that you are going to detest for their abusive nature. So to be able to evoke feelings of sympathy for both parties is a pretty impressive feat. But that’s exactly what the author has managed to do here. When we meet Andy he is about to have a rare night out with his brother Jim. Andy has been a widow since his wife died giving birth to their son but that night he meets Anna, a beautiful young woman who is about to bring love and joy back to his life. But on their wedding night, Andy sees a side to Anna that shocks him. Now, Andy is a big, burly Scotsman and Anna a petite 7 stone so it’s understandable that Andy feels embarrassed and unable to admit to his family what is really behind his cuts and bruises. And all the signs that scream “domestic abuse” for a woman (withdrawing from their family, lying about injuries, making excuses for their partner) well, they aren’t so easy to spot when it’s a male victim. Society still seems to see it as a bit of a joke unfortunately, long after those sketch shows of the 1970s, with their scenes featuring the woman of the house chasing her husband with a rolling pin, were consigned to the depths of social history.

For me the highlight of this book was how much I loved the character of Andy. Right from the start I found myself thinking “he is going to make one lucky girl very happy!” He was close to his family and was a nice young man, one who was brought up to respect women and his peers. So it was no surprise that he reacted as he did when Anna started to show her true colours. No matter how close you are to you family, there is still a sense of shame hanging over you if you have to admit what is happening to the people who love you the most.

This is a hard hitting book, one that is difficult to read at times but utterly compelling. From start to finish I found it hard to tear myself away from the horror of what was happening. I wanted to close my eyes to chase away the images being conjured up by the wonderfully descriptive prose but with so many emotions running around my head there was no escape. I experienced fear for Andy and his family, loathing for Anna but also a huge sympathy for them all-how different their lives could have been. My heart just ached for them all in a situation where there were never going to be any winners, just survivors.

A Suitable Lie is a book that will stay with its reader for a long time after finishing it. Be prepared to run through a full range of emotions, and see which one stays with you at the end. Mine was sadness that I had finished reading such a powerful book but tinged with hope that it may have, somewhere or somehow, changed one person’s life.

Highly recommended by me and many thanks to Karen at Orenda for my review copy of A Suitable Lie.

A Suitable Lie was published by Orenda books on 15th September 2016 and is available to buy here.

About the Author…

Michael Malone is a prize-winning poet and author who was born and brought up in the heart of Burns’ country, just a stone’s throw from the great man’s cottage in Ayr. Well, a stone thrown by a catapult. He has published over 200 poems in literary magazines throughout the UK, including New Writing Scotland, Poetry Scotland and Markings. His career as a poet has also included a (very) brief stint as the Poet-In-Residence for an adult gift shop. Blood Tears, his bestselling debut novel won the Pitlochry Prize (judge: Alex Gray) from the Scottish Association of Writers.Other published work includes: Carnegie’s Call (a non-fiction work about successful modern-day Scots); A Taste for Malice; The Guillotine Choice; and Beyond the Rage. His poetry includes: In The Raw, Running Threads and Lip Synch. Michael is a regular reviewer for the hugely popular crime fiction website http://www.crimesquad.com. A former Regional Sales Manager (Faber & Faber) he has also worked as an IFA and a bookseller.

Minty by Christina Banach #BookReview

About this book…

Fourteen-year-old twins Minty and Jess are inseparable. Maybe they bicker now and then, even crave a bit of space once in a while. But they have a connection. Unbreakable. Steadfast. Nothing can tear them apart. Until a family trip to the coast puts their bond in jeopardy. As Minty tries to rescue her dog from drowning she ends up fighting for her life. Will Minty survive? If she doesn’t, how will Jess cope without her? Only the stormy sea has the answer. Minty is a story of love, loss and coming to terms with consequences. It’s a spiritual tale that will linger in your mind long after you’ve read the final word.

My review…

As everyone knows I just love books about twins, it doesn’t seem to matter which genre either as the twin relationship just fascinates me both in real life and in fictional settings as well. This is the first young adult book I’ve read with twins but it’s probably a book that can be read by adults as well as stories about grief knows no age boundaries. Here in her debut novel Christina Banach gives us a story of love, loss and forgiveness affecting a family with twin 14 year old girls. And they have dogs!!!!

I think the scene at the beginning of the book was one that would bring terror to any parent or dog walker…a dog in trouble in the water. Now when you haven’t been in this situation, it’s very easy to judge! How many lives are lost each year when people attempt to rescue their dogs from a situation but get into difficulty? And the awful thing is that normally that person dies but their dog has somehow survived against the odds. So I found this a very realistic and scary start to how Minty dies and becomes lost and separated from her twin Jess. There was an essence of The Lovely Bones from this point onwards as Minty is stuck in an afterlife where she watches her family struggling to cope without her.

The relationship between Minty and Jess and also the one she strikes up with Jack, her afterlife friend who helps her to understand what’s happened to her, are really well developed which leads to a true depth of feeling to their interactions. It doesn’t matter that you know where the story has got to be heading as it’s Jess and Mintys journey to their acceptance of the inevitable that is at the core of this lovely book.

This is the sort of book my girls would have loved when they were teenagers and that I would have encouraged them to read. It’s a poignant and emotional read that ultimately has an uplifting message of hope in its plot. I can tell that the author has put a lot of herself and her beliefs into her work and it works all the better for that.

I received a review copy of this book from the author and have chosen to write a review after reading it.

Minty is out now and available to buy here from Amazon UK

About the author…

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Christina Banach is a former head teacher who lives in Scotland with her husband and their two rescue dogs. She loves walking; delicious food and wine; evenings at the theatre; exploring new places; surfing the Net; listening to music; and anything that makes her laugh. Plus she has a penchant for shoes and handbags. A voracious reader, she particularly enjoys children’s fiction (all those years buying for school libraries!) – which led her to writing. Christina is hard at work on her next novel.

Candles and Roses by Alex Walters #BlogTour #BookReview @MikeWalters60 @Bloodhoundbook @baatyabtbooks

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About this book…

Who will live and who will die? 

DI Alec McKay is a man haunted by the loss of his daughter.  As he obsesses over a missing person case that is going nowhere, McKay’s investigation is interrupted when bodies start appearing on the Scottish Black Isle. Soon McKay and his team start to identify a disturbing pattern behind the killings.

Why are candles and roses placed around the bodies?

What is this twisted murderer trying to achieve?

While the police follow their own leads, a young woman who discovered the first victim begins an investigation of her own.

As the case unfolds McKay will be forced to face his own demons.

To catch the killer McKay must discover the true motive and untangle the web of truth and lies.

Candles and Roses is the first book in the explosive new DI McKay Series.

My review…

I haven’t read any of this authors books before so really didn’t have any expectations at all when I picked it up to read. So it was a very pleasant surprise to find a crime novel set in a lovely part of Scotland that I know quite well and with a detective that I found very likeable and convincing.

DI Alec McKay was very easy to visualize from the authors description and I was surprised how easily I took to him. There’s a good balance here between his work life, where he is out to catch a possible serial killer and his home life where problems are hinted at very early on. The other characters I liked were Ginny Horton whom I would love to have more of the action in future books, and Kelly, who bravely decided she wanted to take part in a little investigating of her own. After taking a little while to work out who they and the rest of the characters were and how they fitted in with the plot, I couldn’t put this book down. The descriptions of how each girl goes missing were really disturbing with a creepy atmosphere and sense of foreboding leading back to the wonderfully dark and gloomy setting of the Black Isle.

I did work out where the plot was going but found the end to be conducted without too much sentimentality and with a few ends left dangling for good measure! I really enjoyed this new crime series and will definitely be looking to read the next book when it comes along.

Many thanks to Helen at Bloodhound books for my review copy.

Candles and Roses: a serial killer thriller is published by Bloodhound books on 27th September and is available to buy here at Amazon UK

About the author…

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Alex has worked in the oil industry, broadcasting and banking and now runs a consultancy working mainly in the criminal justice sector including police, prisons and probation.
As Michael Walters, he has published three crime thrillers set in modern-day Mongolia. As Alex Walters he has written two thrillers set in and around Manchester and featuring the undercover officer, Marie Donovan, Trust No-One and Nowhere to Hide. His new book, Late Checkout is the first in a series of crime thrillers featuring, alongside Marie Donovan, the rather distinctive DCI Kenny Murrain. The second book in the series, Dark Corners, is scheduled for publication in Autumn 2016. Candles and Roses, the first in a new crime series set in Scotland’s Black Isle, is due out in September 2016.
Alex lives in Manchester with his wife, occasional sons and too many cats.

He can be contacted at: mike@whitmuir.com
Twitter: @mikewalters60
Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/alexwaltersauthor/

 

 

 

 

It’s Friday! 16/9

I don’t seem to have had an awful lot of reading time this week! I’m very unsettled as awaiting the new arrival still so I can’t seem to sit down and concentrate therefore not much new has been reviewed here this week!

But I have had a very lucky week and have won 8 books in total! In fact it’s got to the stage where if I say “Guess what I won today?” to my husband, his answer is “If it’s not the Euromillions then I’m not interested!” I’ve always been a rather lucky person but I have to admit it’s probably as I enter every competition I see so the odds are in my favour I suppose.

My first prize to actually arrive was a box of five books from the Scottish children’s publisher Kelpies and two of these books have become favourites already! I like my grandchildren to know they are a quarter Scottish (well one is actually half Scottish!) So loved being able to read these with them!

My First Scottish Colours…

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Say hello to green Nessie, wave a blue saltire and pick a beautiful purple thistle! Introduce your wee ones to their first colours — red, blue, yellow, orange, green and purple — with a Scottish twist! This bright board book is packed with lively images and simple, clear text. The chunky format and hard-wearing pages are perfect for wee hands.

This is a fabulous wee board book by Kate McLelland with colours associated to a Scottish connection. It’s bright and colourful and the pictures are not too detailed so just right for young minds. And the chunky board book is lovely and sturdy. This is becoming a firm favourite after only 2 days for a nearly two year old who is learning his colours. Just perfect! I’m off to check out the others in the series too now!

My First Scottish Colours (Wee Kelpies) is available from Amazon UK

My luve’s Like a Red Red Rose…

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O my Luve’s like a red, red rose, That’s newly sprung in June; O my Luve’s like the melodie That’s sweetly play’d in tune. In this beautifully illustrated picture-book version of Burns’ classic poem, the lyrics have been re-imagined to explore the special love between parent and child. A mother and daughter feature in everyday scenes such as playing in a garden, splashing in the sea and going to nursery, each inspired by Burns’ eloquent words. With delightful, heart-warming illustrations by Ruchi Mhasane, this expressive new picture book is the perfect way to share Burns’ with very young children. It is also an ideal Mother’s Day or Valentine’s Day gift.

This is just a stunning book! It has taken the poem by Burns and put it with some of the most beautiful and touching illustrations I have seen in a children’s book recently. The mother and daughter relationship is so poignantly drawn that it brought a tear to my eye! This one is perfect for my daughter to share with my granddaughter and I’m sure it will become a firm family favourite. I just loved it!

My Luve’s Like a Red, Red Rose (Picture Kelpies) is also available to buy from Amazon UK