Today I am absolutely thrilled to be kicking off the blog tour for Something In The Water by Catherine Steadman.
The perfect couple. The perfect crime?
“Have you ever wondered how long it takes to dig a grave? Wonder no longer. It takes an age. However long you think it takes, double it…”
Erin is a documentary filmmaker on the brink of a professional breakthrough; Mark is a handsome investment banker with a bright future. They seem to have it all, until Mark loses his job and cracks start to appear in their perfect life. But they’re determined to make it work. They book their dream honeymoon and trust that things will work out – after all, they have each other. On the tropical island of Bora Bora, Mark takes Erin scuba diving. Mark is with her – she knows he’ll keep her safe. Everything will be fine. Until they find something in the water…
Erin and Mark decide to keep their discovery a secret – after all, if no one else knows, who would be hurt? Their decision will trigger a devastating chain of events which will endanger everything they hold dear.
I read this book pretty much in one day. I am not normally a book a day reader but this was completely unputdownable.
We begin near the end. Something has happened. Someone has died and it looks pretty darn bad for our protagonist Erin. Told in first person we see events unfold as she takes us back . ‘I’m not a bad person. Or maybe I am. Maybe you should decide.’ she tells us and so it begins.
Erin and Mark are the golden couple. He a successful banker, she an up and coming documentary film maker, beautiful house and their whole future ahead of them. A few months before their wedding Mark loses his job. They’re not worried though, he was looking for a change and he has contacts, there are doors that will open for him. Aren’t there? Soon the wedding is done and they are flying to Bora Bora and their dream honeymoon. They couldn’t be happier.
Everything is blissful but storm clouds are gathering. They decide to take a diving trip, just the two of them with nothing but blue skies and water that goes on forever. But something lies waiting in the water, something that they decide to keep secret. No-one knows, so surely no harm can come of it and somethings are best left hidden… aren’t they? Except the secret becomes a dark cloud, unsettling the calm, tranquillity of their new marriage. Someone knows.
This is a strong, accomplished debut and a thrilling read. The story arc is wonderful and keeps you guessing right until the last few chapters. I enjoyed reading through Erin’s eyes. It kept the tension high and she is a fascinating character. Her current documentary project adds another level of tension as she delves into the lives of three criminals just as they are coming to the end of prison sentences. It certainly makes you question if a person is truly bad just because they have been convicted of a crime. The convicts are all fascinating characters, all with very different crimes and with very different ideas for their rehabilitation. I was constantly questioning where things were going, who knew more than they were letting on and if Erin was or wasn’t herself a bad person. Things are rarely black and white and for this aspect I think this would make a fantastic book club choice. There are plenty of ‘what would you do?’ moments that I’m sure could raise some lively debates.
There is already lots of hype surrounding this book. It was published in hardback last summer and was selected for the Reese Witherspoon Book Club. It has also been optioned for adaptation by Twentieth Century Fox with Reece Witherspoon producing. I think this will adapt brilliantly. I just hope they keep the home location here in the UK rather than moving to America as was done in the movie adaptation of Girl On a Train.
In a nutshell this is a fantastic debut, a thrilling read and one I thoroughly recommend. Absolute perfect escapism.
Something In The Waterwill be published in paperback by Simon & Schuster on May 16th. It is currently also available on eBook, audiobook and in hardback.
Thank you so much to Anne Cater of RandomThingsTours for inviting me to be part of this blog tour and thanks to her and the lovely people at Simon & Schuster for my review copy.
About the author
Catherine Steadman is an actress and writer based in North London. She has appeared in leading roles on British television as well as on stage in the West End, most recently in Agatha Christie’s Witness for the Prosecution in 2018. In 2016 she was nominated for Laurence Olivier Award for her performance in Oppenheimer. She is best known for her role as Mabel Lane Fox in Downton Abbey. She grew up in the New Forest and lives with a small dog and average sized man. Something in the Water is her first novel and her second is due for release in early 2020.
Today I’m thrilled to be hosting the Blog Tour for Come back To Me by Daniela Sacerdoti.
This third enchanting novel set on the windswept Seal Island is about finding love for a second time when hope seems lost.
Three separate lives. Three broken hearts.
Haunted by his wife’s death, Matt arrives on Seal Island determined to be alone and unable to escape his grief.
In the island’s hospital, a young woman named Rose lies in a coma, trapped by the memories of events leading up to her accident.
Grace, the island’s doctor, is at the heart of the community. Only she knows how much she regrets turning down the chance of love and a family years ago.
For these three people hope seems gone. But life is about to offer an unexpected new beginning…
This is a wonderfully atmospheric tale about three very different people, each facing events that have left them broken and filled with grief.
Consumed with guilt over the death of his wife, Matthew Shearer moves to Seal Island to heal and rebuild something that resembles living. He soon begins to find a place for himself within the small group of welcoming locals and escape from his life in London. Yet as much as he craves the isolation the Island offers he feels alone and desperately misses his wife Mia who was killed there years earlier in a car accident. When a young woman appears at his door in the middle of the night, disorientated and soaking wet, saying she has a message from Mia, Matthew begins to question his sanity and the depths to which he has sunk into despair.
This is my first visit to Seal Island and indeed my first encounter with Daniela Sacerdoti but I have to say I felt like I was returning to an old friend. She writes beautifully and has built up an incredibly memorable set of characters and I will definitely look back at her two previous novels set in this harsh but beautifully landscape. In this, her latest, he weaves the stories of these three characters, each dealing with their own heartbreak and challenges, and brings them together in a haunting tale that is expertly crafted. I love the imagery and the hint of magic that simmers beneath the surface for you to find. The Island and it’s small community are a major part of the story and add so much intrigue and atmosphere to events. I couldn’t help but be enchanted by them.
I enjoyed reading this moving tale ever so much and now that I have fallen in love with Daniela’s writing I very much look forward to reading more of her novels. Oh, how I love discovering a new author!
Come Back To Me is published by Headline Review and is available now in eBook and a paperback edition will be published in July.
Thank you to the wonderful Anne Cater of Random Things Tours for inviting me to be part of this blog tour. I love how diverse the books she offers me are and this is one that I will be thinking of for some time yet.
About the author
Daniela Sacerdoti is a phenomenon. Over one million copies of her novels have been sold in eBook, her debut novel WATCH OVER ME was the 8th bestselling Kindle book of all time in 2015 and she was also ranked as the 11th top-selling Kindle author. Daniela writes beautiful, haunting and bestselling fiction for adults (the Glen Avich series), young adults (the Sarah Midnight trilogy) and children. Her novels have been translated in twelve languages.
Daniela was born and raised in Italy. She studied Classics, then lived in Scotland for fourteen years, where she married and taught in a primary school. Daniela’s children’s book Really Weird Removals.Com was shortlisted for the Scottish Children’s Book Awards. She has also written for the BBC. Daniela, her husband and their two sons make their home in a tiny village in the Alps.
Two Suspects. Two identical stories. Which one is the truth?
Wilbrook in Western Australia is a sleepy, remote town that sits on the edge of miles and miles of unexplored wilderness. It is home to Police Sergeant Chandler Jenkins, who is proud to run the town’s small police station, a place used to dealing with domestic disputes and noise complaints.
All that changes on a scorching day when an injured man stumbles into Chandler’s station. He’s covered in dried blood. His name is Gabriel. He tells Chandler what he remembers – he was drugged and driven to a cabin in the mountains and tied up in iron chains. The man who took him was called Heath. Heath told Gabriel he was going to be number 55. His 55th victim. Heath is a serial killer.
As a manhunt is launched, a man who says he is Heath walks into the same station. He tells Chandler he was taken by a man named Gabriel. Gabriel told Heath he was going to be victim 55. Gabriel is the serial killer.
Police Sergeant Chandler Jenkins needs to find out who is telling the truth – and quick. He is forced to call in Mitch, his former partner and now insufferable superior, a partnership which dissolved in acrimony years earlier. Can Mitch and Chandler uncover the truth, before the 55th victim is taken?
James Delargy has written one of the most exciting debuts of 2019. He masterfully paints the picture of a remote Western Australian town and its people, swallowed whole by the hunt for a serial killer.
Today I’m delighted to be taking part in the blog tour for 55 by James Delargy. I can’t believe that this is actually a debut! It’s very well plotted and shows incredible promise from this new author. I can’t wait to see what he brings us next.
For a brief time we enter the small, remote town of Wilbrook. A community where the local police sergeant knows all his residents. His small team are like a second family to him and life is quiet. That is until one day Gabriel walks in to his station claiming to have escaped from a serial killer, a man called Heath. Of course things become complicated when a man called Heath arrives at the station claiming that Gabriel kidnapped and tried to kill him. This is what we do know as we go into the story and James skilfully carries us through, leading us to conclusions and then shattering them along the way. The twists and turns kept me on my feet and although I thought I knew what was going on, he made me constantly doubt myself right the way through. It made for exciting reading.
I was immediately on Chandlers side and I can’t tell you how many times I would have quite happily punched Mitch in the face. His arrogance, lack of empathy and the underhand way in which he treated Chandler, left me wondering just what had gone on between these two men who had once been ‘friends’. As the story unfolds we also flash back to a time when both men were newly instated as officers and worked together on a case searching the harsh Australian outback for a lost teenager. That case had a lasting impression on both men and it’s not surprising that it now comes back to haunt them. However, no one could have foreseen the devastating consequences that it would have brought so many years later as Chandler and Mitch attempt to put their issues aside and work on this new case. Old ghosts are hard to bury though and soon the investigation becomes personal and very deadly.
The two suspects also made a lasting impression and my mind changed on many occasions as to which one was the guilty party. Now it’s not often that I get spooked by a book whilst reading during the day but this one certainly had me on edge. Snuggled up on my sofa, alone in the house and suddenly every creak and groan of my surroundings became an ominous sign. My pulse raced and yes I was very nervous when nature called and I had to venture upstairs. I had to check EVERY ROOM for goodness sake. This is an absolutely riveting read and one that had me on the edge of my seat right from the very start. The ending left me with my heart in my mouth as James tormented my imagination right to the very last word. I’m thrilled to discover that there may be a film adaptation and hope that comes to fruition. I urge you to read 55 and thoroughly recommend it!
About the author
James Delargy was born and raised in Ireland and lived in South Africa, Australia and Scotland, before ending up in semi-rural England where he now lives. He incorporates his diverse knowledge of towns, cities, landscape and culture picked up on his travels into his writing. 55 is his first novel, which has been sold in 19 countries so far and optioned for film by Zucker Productions in partnership with Prodigy Pictures.
Do you ever come across a book that you just know you’re going to love? Well last summer I was invited along to the HQ Stories Summer Showcase and I met some wonderful authors that night and discovered some fantastic new books. One of the things I remember most about the evening was how friendly everyone was; the authors, the members of the HQ team, and the other guests. The evening was a great success and each author and novel was beautifully presented. I was introduced to Mr Doubler for the first time and I knew, straight away, that he and I were going to get along.
So it was here on a beautiful summers evening that I had the pleasure of meeting Seni and discovering the rather wonderful Mr Doubler. I was delighted to bring home an early proof copy well ahead of it’s publication date in January. I am a keen gardener and I have even grown my own potatoes down on my allotment, so possibly that may have been what drew me to this particular table but I think it was also a combination of Seni’s warm smile and the beautiful display of proof copies bearing the quote ‘Not every journey takes you far from home…‘
So what’s the story about…
Baked, mashed, boiled or fried, Mr Doubler knows his potatoes. But the same can’t be said for people. Since he lost his wife, he’s been on his own at Mirth Farm – and that suits Doubler just fine. Crowds are for other people; the only company he needs are his potato plants and his housekeeper, Mrs Millwood, who visits every day.
So when Mrs Millwood is taken ill, it ruins everything – and Mr Doubler begins to worry that he might have lost his way. But could the kindness of strangers be enough to bring him down from the hill?
This is a wonderful novel and such a pleasure to read. Oh how I loved Mr Doubler and what a joy it would be to sit with him in his warm, inviting kitchen, enjoying one of his expertly produced G&T’s and a slice of homemade cake.
For quite some time Doubler has plodded along quietly on Mirth Farm, with only his potatoes and his housekeeper, Mrs Millwood, for company. He has been perfectly content with his well-ordered, predictable life. His only concern is his potatoes, his ‘secret’ project and the occasional visit from his ‘well-meaning’ children. Until that is, Mrs Millwood is taken ill and his life is turned upside down.
Although I had been looking forward to reading this novel for quite sometime I actually picked it up after suffering from a dose of flu. I’d felt so ill I couldn’t even read and then as I began to feel better Mr Doubler called to me. He was the perfect tonic and a brilliant escape for those moments when life is just feeling a little too gray and drizzly. He made me feel like spring was on the way.
Now novels about old men finding their way have been done and enjoyed before (A Man Called Ove and of course The Unlikely Pilgrimage of Harold Fry are examples that come to mind and that I very much enjoyed) but Mr Doubler is very different, wonderful and completely memorable in his own right.
So what is it that I loved about this novel? Well the writing itself is beautifully done. It carries you along, sweeping you away with the story. Seni has the ability, somewhat Harry Potter like, to pull you into the book so you can almost smell the food on Doubler’s table and hear the sounds of the birds as he takes an early morning stroll around his land.
As he stood at these edge-lands, he allowed his brain to settle into nothingness. It was still dark. He stopped and listened. A bird sang from a hazel branch not far from him. The pure sound cut through the dark and distracted Doubler from his quandary.
‘Hello robin!’ Doubler said, under his breath for fear of disturbing the gutsy singer. ‘It’s a bit early for that racket, isn’t it?’
The lone, tentative voice was almost immediately joined by another flute-like refrain from just behind him. The birds sensed the dawn before any trace of the new day had become obvious to Doubler. These birds, the robin and perhaps a black-bird, were soon joined by several others and now, after just a few moments of listening, the chorus was beginning in earnest and it was impossible to separate one song from another. Together, this competing cacophony should have jarred, but instead it united to form a harmonious ensemble that appeared to be led by one unseen conductor.
Full to the brim with endearing (and a few rather unlikeable) characters, Mr Doubler Begins Againis a joy to read; a celebration of an ordinary man who has done the best he can through some rather difficult circumstances. Doubler shows us the importance of the ‘ordinary folk’, the impact they have, and that each and every one will leave an important legacy in the friends and memories they leave behind. At times I found it incredibly poignant and sad, but at others I was whooping in delight for Mr Doubler and the friends who came to his aid. I cheered him on right until the very last page, and I’m still cheering him on now. There is much more than potatoes beneath the surface of this quiet, old recluse who lives on the hill. I was saddened that those who should have known him the best, were the ones who seemed to not understand him at all. This kind, old soul. What an incredible friend he would be.
Yet even an old recluse like Doubler needs a little help from time to time and this small community found its way into my heart and I feel as though I have learnt so much from them. There are times when we feel like we know what is best for others but in reality only they can know what will bring them contentment and happiness. This novel has taught me that things are rarely black and white. There is always more to the situation than you can see. It taught me that the easy option is not always the best. That each of us, no matter how old we are, are valued and that there is no age limit on hopes and dreams.
One of the characteristics I loved most about Doubler was his absolute unwavering opinions and his lack of fear in expressing them. From his idea of a perfect lunch (potatoes), to the precise ingredients and method of making a gin and tonic. His appreciation of perfectly blended tea and the effort and time he gives to laying on tea and cake for his guests. As, with the assistance and encouragement of Mrs Millwood, he slowly returns to the community, he begins to understand how much he can actually contribute to the lives of those around him and just what that gives him in return. Doubler is a man with a big heart and oh, how I would love to try a sip of his gin.
The making of gin, as I have recently discovered, is quite an art and the mix of botanicals makes each recipe unique. It has of course recently had a resurgence of popularity. In my childhood I recall it as being the choice of drink by the evil Miss Hannigan (played by the rather wonderful Carol Burnett ) in the 1982 movie Annie, as she literally bathed in the stuff. The drink of drunks and down and outs. Then as an adult myself I enjoyed it cold, mixed with tonic and a slice of lemon. About six months ago I treated myself to a gin subscription (absolute decadence I know but I’m worth it) with The Craft Gin company.
Every two months I receive a unique craft gin, mixers and edible treats and also a magazine talking about… yes you guessed it, gin. So it was a total delight when I came to read Mr Doubler chatting about gin. It actual makes my mouth water just thinking about the scene in his kitchen when he first shares his homemade produce. It put me in mind of Joanne Harris’ Chocolat and the way she was able to bring the taste and smell of chocolate so expertly alive within the pages of her book. Seni does the very same here with Mr Doubler and gin.
‘I am, however, not going to overwhelm you. I expect you’re all familiar with the G and T, the ice and a slice. And that is what I shall prepare for you because I want you to notice the gin, not the accompaniments. Some gins lend themselves to this classic treatment. But it is very possible to tease out the flavour of a gin by the addition of other flavours. I am not a gin pedant – in fact, I would go as far as to consider myself more liberal than most.’
While Doubler spoke, he cut the lemon into thin slices, allowing the scent of citrus to fill the room.
‘All gin makers use a mix of botanicals to flavour their spirit. We all know and love juniper berries, and this is, of course, the flavour that we associate with the spirit. Indeed, it is essential to qualify as a London dry gin, as I’m sure you all know. But, depending on the distillery, you might find notes of any number of spices, herbs, plants or other flavourings – for example, coriander, angelica, orange peel, lemon peel, cardamom,orris,cinnamon, nutmeg, cassia bark, almond, liquorice or cubeb. When you’re mixing a drink yourself, it is advisable to accentuate the flavour of the botanicals that have been used to craft it, so a gin that has used rose and cucumber to enhance its flavour might well benefit from the addiction of a slice of cucumber or a couple of freshly picked rose petals. If there are no citrus notes at all, you should steer clear of lemon or lime.’
Now Doubler has certainly given me food for thought when it comes to mixing a gin based beverage and I very much look forward to a little experimentation (with a little bit of help fromThe Craft Gin Club.) Now it’s not everyday you come across a recipe for a cocktail within a novel but there is actually a ‘Mirth Farm’ recipe created by The Mixology Group and I’m delighted to be able to share it with you here. It sounds like the perfect summer cocktail to me.
Mirth Farm Garden Cocktail
50ml good quality gin
5cm piece of cucumber
20ml lemon juice
20ml cucumber syrup
8-10 mint leaves
Garnish with large mint sprig
and borage flowers
Add all but soda to a tall glass
and lightly muddle.
Fill glass with crushed ice and
the add a dash of soda.
There are plenty of recipes for cucumber syrup on the internet so why not make a small batch and give it a try. It sounds perfectly refreshing.
Whatever your tipple be it gin, wine or a nice cup of tea, I definitely recommend reading this rather wonderful novel and welcoming Mr Doubler into your life…it will be all the better for it.
Mr Doubler Begins Again was published in January 2019 by HQStories.
The second book in the critically acclaimed Chastity Riley series.
On a warm September morning, a man is found unconscious and tortured in a cage at the entrance to the offices of one of Germany’s biggest magazines. He’s soon identified as a manager of the company. Three days later, another manager appears in a similar way.
The magazine staff were facing significant layoffs, so sympathy for the two men is in short supply. Chastity Riley and her new colleague Ivo Stepanovic are tasked with uncovering the truth behind the attacks, an investigation that goes far beyond the revenge they first suspect, to the dubious past shared by both victims. Travelling to the south of Germany, they step into the hothouse world of boarding schools, where secrets are currency, and monsters are bred…monsters who will stop at nothing to protect themselves.
This is the second novel featuring Chastity Riley and although I don’t think it is vital to have read the first, it could possibly give you a little insight into her back story. The case she is called in to help on is a strange one. A man is discovered in a cage outside his place of work. He’s been tortured but he’s alive. Immediately you know this isn’t your regular crime story. They’re not looking for a murderer but it suggests a different kind of criminal who is looking to terrify and humiliate their victims. A person who wants the scars left behind to go much further than any physical ones ever could. They want their victims to suffer, to carry the weight of their experience with them for the rest of their lives.
There is an intense creepiness to these crimes, especially with the level of dislike aimed at the victims from even those who now work with them. This is a difficult case to get to the bottom of but it soon becomes clear that their past is about to catch up with them in a very unpleasant way. But what are the crimes leading to and can Chastity and Ivo find out who’s behind these kidnappings and work out who the next target is before they turn deadly? As you get to know each of the victims and the story that binds them together it’s difficult to feel sorry for them. These are not nice people. Yet does that make us more sympathetic to the perpetrator? For me, as a reader, that’s an uncomfortable place to be but it raises some interesting questions and creates a gripping storyline.
Chastity herself is an unusual heroine. She’s a hard-drinking mess of a person but somehow manages to get the job done. Her story is compelling and seems complex. She has suffered and is obviously running from her own demons. The writing style is sharp and punchy adding to the sense of chaos that seems to follow Chastity. How she gets up and with it most days I’m not sure but there is a steely determination about her. It’s refreshing to see such a strong but damaged female lead and I look forward to getting to know her more.
This is a series to watch and I thoroughly urge you to jump on board.
About the Author
Simone Buchholz was born in Hanau in 1972. At university, she studied Philosophy and Literature, worked as a waitress and a columnist, and trained to be a journalist at the prestigious Henri-Nannen-School in Hamburg. In 2016, Simone Buchholz was awarded the Crime Cologne Award, and second place in the German Crime Fiction Prize, for Blue Night, which was number one on the KrimiZEIT Best of Crime List for months. She lives in Sankt Pauli, in the heart of Hamburg, with her husband and son.
If you’re new to Simone and the series why not start with Blue Night in which we are first introduced to Chastity Riley.
After convicting a superior for corruption and shooting off a gangster’s crown jewels, the career of Hamburg’s most hard-bitten state prosecutor, Chastity Riley, has taken a nose dive: she has been transferred to the tedium of witness protection to prevent her making any more trouble. However, when she is assigned to the case of an anonymous man lying g under police guard in hospital, Chastity’s instinct for the big, exciting case kicks in.
Using all her powers of pursuasion, she soon gains her charge’s confidence, and funds herself on the trail to Leipzig, a new ally, and a whole heap of lethal synthetic drugs. When she discovers that a friend and former colleague is trying to bring down Hamburg’s Albanian mafia kingpin single-handedly, it looks like Chas Riley’s dull life on witness protection really has been short-lived.
About the publisher
Orenda Books is a small independent publishing company specialising in literary fiction with a heavy emphasis on crime/thrillers, and approximately half the list in translation. They’ve been twice shortlisted for the Nick Robinson Best Newcomer Award at the IPG awards, and publisher and owner Karen Sullivan was a Bookseller Rising Star in 2016. In 2018, they were awarded a prestigious Creative Europe grant for their translated books programme. Three authors, including Agnes Ravatn, Matt Wesolowski and Amanda Jennings have been WHSmith Fresh Talent picks, and Ravatn’s The Bird Tribunal was shortlisted for the Dublin Literary Award, won an English PEN Translation Award, and adapted for BBC Radio Four’s Book at Bedtime. Six titles have been short- or long-listed for the CWA Daggers. Launched in 2014 with a mission to bring more international literature to the UK market, Orenda Books publishes a host of debuts, many of which have gone on to sell millions worldwide, and looks for fresh, exciting new voices that push the genre in new directions. Bestselling authors include Ragnar Jonasson, Antti Tuomainen, Gunnar Staalesen, Michael J. Malone, Kjell Ola Dahl, Louise Beech, Johana Gustawsson, Lilja Sigurðardóttir and Sarah Stovell.
Sometimes you discover an author and there is an instant connection. You soak up their words and disappear into their worlds. Whenever you hear there is a new offering on the horizon your ears prick up, damn it your whole damn head up – somewhat like a meerkat – and wait eagerly for it to arrive. It’s a truly wonderful feeling. One such author that holds that magic over me is Louise Beech. Her writing never fails to leave me entranced. Her novels are all so different and yet all so wonderful. I can’t tell you how happy I was to receive a proof copy of her latest novel, Call Me Star Girl.
There were three things that sold this novel to me.
The author. The publisher. The synopsis.
Although the fact that it was quoted as being ‘reminiscent of Play Misty For Me, surely one of Clint Eastwood finest and most chilling of films, did catch my attention too. I watched the film again not too long ago and there is still so much I love about it, not least the 70’s music, style and cinematography, but it gives you the feeling that you’re watching a series of events spiralling helplessly out of control. All these factors put together had me feeling this novel was going to be GOOOOD. And Oh my, I wasn’t wrong.
Call Me Star Girl by Louise Beech
Tonight is Stella McKeever’s final radio show.
The theme is secrets. You tell her yours, and she’ll share some of hers. Stella might tell you about Tom, a boyfriend who likes to play games, about the mother who abandoned her, now back after fourteen years. She might tell you about the perfume bottle with the star-shaped stopper, or about her father…
What Stella really wants to know is more about the mysterious man calling the station, who says he knows who killed the pregnant Victoria Valbon, found brutally murdered in an alley three weeks ago.
Tonight is the night for secrets, and Stella wants to know everything.
In her writing Louise delves deep into the mind. She looks at cause and effect, how events and trauma shape our personalities and actions. We can never really know what goes on in another’s mind and she shows the dark maze winding deep within each of us; holding endlessfears, desires, doubts and secrets. It is truly powerful. Call Me Star Girl also looks at the darker side of love. The all-consuming love that can rarely end well. The story is dark, creepy and utterly engrossing as Stella’s past and present collide with shattering consequences.
Louise’s characters have this wonderful ability to get inside your head, leading you on with the story, sharing their story, so you are standing right beside them in that dark, god forsaken alley. Atmospheric to say the least, the setting of a radio station through the night provides the perfect backdrop for events to unfold.
Her plotting is superb, the twists and turns leaving you fearful for the outcome but unable to tear yourself away. This is one story that will stay with you; like a whisper it will creep into your thoughts long after you turn the final page.
Absolutely brilliant and thoroughly recommended.
Here is a wee snippet taken from the first few pages…
‘The lights buzzed and flickered. I held my breath. Exhaled when they settled. I would not be spooked by a trickster.
Stella, this will tell you everything.
How did they know what I wanted to know?
What was everything?
I opened the main door, book held tight to my hammering chest. The car park was empty, a weed-logged expanse edged with dying trees. It’s always quiet at this hour of the night. I waited, not sure what I expected to happen – maybe some stranger loitering, hunched over and menacing. They would not scare me.
“I’m not afraid,’ I said it aloud.
Who was I trying to convince?
I set off for home. I usually walk, enjoying the night air after a stuffy studio. I’m not sure why – though now it seems profound – but I paused at the alley that separates the allotment from the Fortune Bingo hall. Bramble bushes tangle there like sweet barbed wire. It’s a long but narrow cut-through that kids ride their bikes too fast along and drunks stagger down when the pub shuts. I rarely walk down there, even though it would make my journey home quicker. The place disturbs me, so I always hurry past, take the long way around, without glancing into the shadows.
I did that night too.
But I looked back. Just once, the strange book pressed against my chest.
It was two weeks before they found the girl there.
Two weeks before I started getting phone calls.
I didn’t know any of that then. If I had, I might have walked a little faster.’
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 follow-up, The Mountain in My Shoe was shortlisted for Not the Booker Prize. Both of her previous books Maria in the Moon and The Lion Tamer Who Lost were widely reviewed and critically acclaimed. All four have been #1 kindle bestsellers. Her short fiction has won the Glass Woman Prize, the Eric Hoffer Award for Prose, and the Aesthetics Creative Works competition, as well as shortlisting for the Bridport Prize twice. Louise lives with her husband and children on the outskirts of Hull, and loves her job as a Front of House Usher at Hull Truck Theatre, where her first play was performed in 2012.
You can follow Louise on Twitter: @LouiseWriter and visit her website here.
Call Me Star Girl is published by Orenda Books on April 18th 2019 which still gives you plenty of time to discover Louise’s previous work if you haven’t yet done so.
Thank you so much to the lovely team at Orenda Books for sending me the proof copy to read and review for an honest opinion.
If you’ve visited my site recently you may well have guessed I’m rather fond of an Agatha Christie story. Growing up I enjoyed watching Hercule Poirot on television (both Peter Ustinov and David Suchet) and I still watch them to this day – I recently enjoyed a very lazy, relaxing afternoon watching back to back Death on the Nile and Evil Under The Sun. I also thoroughly enjoyed the recent BBC adaptation of The ABC Murders. I read my first actual Agatha Christie book about this time eleven years ago. I remember it vividly as I was newly pregnant and suffering from a heavy cold. I was ill enough to need a few days in bed and although my head pounded I just couldn’t stop reading until the book literally fell from my hands.
My delight and enjoyment of her stories has never ceased and although I have seen many adaptations on the screen I haven’t read as many as I would have liked. So I am going to rectify that by signing up for the Read Christie 2019 challenge on the official Agatha Christie website. I thoroughly look forward to discovering some old favourites along with some new tales from the Queen of murder mystery herself.
We begin with The ABC Murders. I know the BBC adaptation has received a mixed bag of responses but personally I really don’t mind how faithful an adaptation is to the original book – I like to see a story from a different perspective. I am intrigued to see the differences though and can’t wait to read the story as Agatha intended it. Already I’m thrilled to find Japp very much alive and Hastings providing the narration.
So my reading pile grows ever larger with new and now classic fiction. I look forward to sharing them with you. Have you read any Agatha Christie before? If so which would you recommend? Do answer in the comments and do let me know if you’re also taking part in the reading challenge.