Crime, Debut, Mystery, Thriller

Murder At Macbeth by Samantha Goodwin

Whose deadly secret has taken centre stage?

When a talented, young actress unwittingly stabs herself live onstage after a prop knife is tampered with, suspicion immediately falls on her eclectic band of castmates. But who had the motive to kill the show’s leading lady? As the insightful, yet disillusioned, Detective Inspector Finley Robson and his shrewd partner, Detective Sergeant Nadia Zahra, interrogate the seven key suspects, secrets unfold to unveil a web of scandal, blackmail, and deceit. Bitter rivalries, secret trysts and troubled pasts are just the beginning of the story…

INTERNATIONAL FLASH 500 NOVEL AWARD LONGLIST

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I do read a great deal of crime and thriller novels and so I was delighted to receive a copy of Samantha’s debut to review.

A young leading lady is killed on stage during the opening night of Macbeth, a play already shrouded in ill-fated superstition.  Soon the police are wading through a cast of characters each hiding secrets of their own but which one holds the key to the murder?

This is a good, old fashioned murder mystery.  Clues are drip fed along the way as each suspect is interviewed by the police.  Detective Robson and Detective Sergeant Zahra make a great team and there was an echo of Death in Paradise (without the paradise) to the tale. Flashbacks to events leading up to the night of the murder give us a greater insight into what is going on behind the scenes and each member of the cast could have been the culprit.  The end was a surprise that I didn’t see coming.

An interesting debut and I feel that we will see more from Samantha.

About the author

Samantha Goodwin

Samantha Goodwin has written professionally for her business career as a Chartered Marketing Manager for over a decade before turning her hand to fiction. As an avid crime fiction fan, she regularly participates in the renowned Theakston Old Peculier Crime Writing Festival in Harrogate and relishes attending literature festivals across the country as well as engaging in numerous online writing communities. Keen to support new and upcoming authors, Samantha recently launched the #IndieWritingWisdom initiative on Instagram to collate and share inspiring, original writing quotes from a wide range of different writers to encourage others. When not writing, Samantha enjoys reading, movies, musicals, countryside walks and almost all chocolate (but controversially not Oreos). She lives in Leeds, England with her husband, Chris, and young son, Jack. Murder at Macbeth is her first novel.

Murder at Macbeth is available in both eBook and paperback from Amazon.

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Adult Fiction, Blog Tour, Crime, Debut, Thriller

Something In The Water by Catherine Steadman

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.

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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 Water will 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

0Catherine 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.

You can follow Catherine on Twitter at @catsteadman

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Adult Fiction, Blog Tour, Thriller

Worst Case Scenario

Today I’m delighted to be hosting the Blog Tour for Worst Case Scenario by Helen Fitzgerald.

Mary Shields is a moody, acerbic probation offer, dealing with some of Glasgow’s worst cases, and her job is on the line. Imprisoned for murdering his wife, Liam Macdowall has published a series of letters to the dead woman, in a book that has made him an unlikely hero – a poster boy for Men’s Rights Activists. Liam is released on licence into Mary’s care, but things are far from simple. Mary develops a poisonous obsession with Liam and his world, and when her son and Liam’s daughter form a relationship, Mary will stop at nothing to impose her own brand of justice … with devastating consequences. A heart pounding, relentless and chilling psychological thriller, rich with deliciously dark and unapologetic humour, Worst Case Scenario is also a perceptive, tragic and hugely relevant book by one of the most exciting names in crime fiction.

Oh. My. God. This book is an absolute whirlwind. I can honestly say that I have never read ANYTHING like it. I love it. I hated it. It sent me on a roller-coaster of emotions so I felt every hot sweat and every moment of despair, hatred and triumph that Mary went through. My god this woman is strong and yet she’s hurtling through a major breakdown as she comes to the end of what I imagine to be one of the most stressful careers going whilst also going through the menopause. There are absolutely no punches pulled in this story and in many ways it’s absolutely magnificent but in some I think I’m scarred for life. Well perhaps that’s a slight exaggeration but it did leave me rather shell-shocked. I’m a great believer that a story should awaken the emotions and my god this one does. There are so many ‘wtf’ moments. It’ll make you laugh too. The ending especially had me in equal parts laughter and shock and I think leaves plenty of options for a return to Mary, the most unique protagonist I have read for a long time.

Worst Case Scenario is available in eBook now and will also be published in paperback on the 16th of May. Believe me, the title is very apt and fits this story perfectly. Absolutely unforgettable.

Thank you to Anne Cater of RandomThingsTours and Orenda Books for inviting me to be a part of this Blog Tour.

Orenda Books – Wow you guys never stop surprising and enthralling me with your publications

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About the author

Helen Fitzgerald

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Helen FitzGerald is the bestselling author of ten adult and young adult thrillers, including The Donor (2011) and The Cry (2013), which was longlisted for the Theakstons Old Peculier Crime Novel of the Year, and is now a major drama for BBC1. Helen worked as a criminal justice social worker for over fifteen years. She grew up in Victoria, Australia. She now lives in Glasgow with her husband.

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Adult Fiction, Blog Tour, Suspense, Thriller

We All Fall Down by Daniel Kalla

Today I’m delighted to be taking part in the blog tour for We All Fall Down by Daniel Kalla.

Think Contagion meets The Da Vinci Code in the next heart-stopping
thriller from the internationally bestselling author Daniel Kalla.

A critically ill patient lies dying in a remote town in Italy. Alana Vaughn, an infectious diseases expert with NATO, receives a desperate call – she must fly to Italy
immediately and confirm what everyone already suspects… that the dying woman has the plague, a merciless disease that kills in days.

When Alana arrives, her worst fears are confirmed. But the patient isn’t just dying of the plague – she has the strain of the plague known as the Black Death, one of the most devastating pandemics in human history, which eight hundred years ago killed more than a quarter of the world’s population. And if Alana and her counterpart at the World Health Organisation, Byron Menke, can’t track down the source of the disease…then it will be the end of them all.

We All Fall Down Cover

I thoroughly enjoyed both The Da Vinci Code and Contagion so this novel appealed to me straight away and I wasn’t disappointed!  We All Fall Down is as fast past and deadly as the plague that sweeps through Genoa and beyond.  We begin on the construction site where an old monastery has been pulled down to make way for a new development.  An old monk turns up on a daily vigil to the site with warnings of the consecrated ground they are working on.  The workers pay no heed and carry on with their work until one collapses, coughing up blood.   So begins a disease that spreads with unrelenting speed; children, adults, men, women and even animals are struck down.  The World Health Organisation begin to investigate alongside NATO. Dr Alana Vaughn comes to the conclusion that the victims are suffering from The Black Death.  The question is not only how to stop it but if they even can? They need to find out where and how a disease centuries buried came to be. It’s a race against time as the disease spreads further and further, killing without discrimination.

This is an absolute page turner that I couldn’t read fast enough.  It filled my sleep with dark shadows and even when awake my mind kept returning to the story as I eagerly awaited my next opportunity to read on.  Daniel also takes us back to the 14th-century as the Black Death tore the small town of Genoa apart.  Can it survive a second time?  Indeed, can the world?  Thoroughly recommended and I will definitely be seeking out more by Mr Kalla.

Thank you so much to Anne Cater of Random Things Tours for inviting me to be part of this blog tour.

We All Fall Down has been published by Simon & Schuster.

About the author

Daniel Kalla

Daniel Kall Author PictureDaniel Kalla is the international bestselling author of Pandemic, Resistance, Rage
Therapy, Blood Lies, Cold Plague, and Of Flesh and Blood. His books have been
translated into eleven languages, and two novels have been optioned for film. Kalla
practices emergency medicine in Vancouver, British Columbia.

Visit Daniel at danielkalla.com and follow him on Twitter at @DanielKalla.

 

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Adult Fiction, Blog Tour, Crime, Debut, Fiction, Suspense, Thriller

55 by James Delargy

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.

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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.

You can follow James on Twitter at @JDelargyAuthor

For more information visit his website at Jamesdelargy.com

55 is published by Simon & Schuster  on the 4th of April. Thanks to Anne Cater of Random Things Tours for inviting me to take part in this blog tour which runs until the 10th of April.

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Adult Fiction, Blog Tour, Debut, Suspense, Thriller

The Perfect Betrayal by Lauren North

Today I am thrilled to host the blog tour for The Perfect Betrayal by Lauren North.  It’s a few days since I finished reading this and I’m still recovering.  Now that is a sign of a good read!

The Perfect Betrayal Cover

After the sudden death of her husband, Tess is drowning in grief. All she has left is her son, Jamie, and she’ll do anything to protect him – but she’s struggling to cope. When grief counsellor Shelley knocks on their door, everything changes. Shelley is beautiful, confident and takes control when Tess can’t bear to face the outside world. She is the perfect friend to Tess and Jamie, but when Jamie’s behaviour starts to change, and Tess starts to forget things, she begins to suspect that Shelley might not be the answer to their problems after all. When questions arise over her husband’s death and strange things start to happen, Tess begins to suspect that Shelley may have an ulterior motive. Tess knows she must do everything she can to keep Jamie safe – but who can she trust?

The Perfect Betrayal is a dark, emotionally engaging novel that asks:

Who can you trust in your darkest moment?

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This novel was not an easy ride I can tell you that. Right from the very start it had me on tenterhooks, unsure as to where it was leading. As a mum it’s a terrifying.  It’s so easy to put yourself in Tess’ position and I keenly felt her despair after the death of her husband and the absolute obsession with keeping her son safe from harm, her last glimmer of hope in a world gone dark with grief.

At first the arrival of Shelley seems like a blessing, a ray of light to help her through the darker days, but soon strange things begin to happen and Tess begins to become suspicious. Before long she’s fighting a desperate battle to keep her son with her, and keep him safe as she starts to suspect all is not as it seems with Shelley.

This is an absolute roller coaster of a journey and I felt helpless as I was carried along, watching events happen before me. I read to the end with a sense of horror and total fear for what was unfolding before me.   The ending was particularly good and has left a lasting impression.  As a debut this is a very bright start for Lauren and an absolute shocker of a psychological thriller (in a good way).

Thanks to Anne Carter for inviting me to be part of this Random Things blog tour and for arranging my review copy.

About the author

Lauren North writes psychological suspense novels that delve into the darker side of relationships and families. She has a lifelong passion for writing, reading, and all things books. Lauren’s love of psychological suspense has grown since childhood and her dark imagination of always wondering what’s the worst thing that could happen in every situation.

Lauren studied psychology before moving to London where she lived and worked for many years. She now lives with her family in the Suffolk countryside.

Readers can follow Lauren on Twitter @Lauren_C _North and Facebook @LaurenNorthAuthor

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Adult Fiction, Crime, ReadAgatha2019, Thriller

The ABC Murders by Agatha Christie

I have been following the official Agatha Christie website on Instagram and Twitter and their #readchristie2019 challenge in which they suggest a different Christie novel to read each month. In January they kicked the challenge off with The ABC Murders and I as I had been lucky enough to receive this beautiful hardback edition for Christmas so I happily jumped on board. I am a big Christie fan, watching countless TV adaptations, but as a reader I have read shockingly few of her actual novels and short stories. Time to rectify that me thinks.

If you’d like to join in with Read Christie 2019 then why not visit their website here and sign up for the newsletter.

The February book is The Giant’s Bread which Agatha wrote under the pseudonym, Mary Westmacott. I’m currently listening to that on audio book (my first!).

The March title is The Mirror Crack’d from Side to Side, the 8th Miss Marple novel and one that I very much look forward to reading soon. I have read none of the Miss Marple stories as of yet.

There has been much discussion and awareness about The ABC Murders after the recent BBC adaptation was screened over Christmas. This adaptation was my first experience of the story.

But before we get into the TV adaptation let’s talk about the novel itself…

It is not often that I read the book after watching the film or TV adaptation but I did on this occasion. I enjoyed all three versions but I have to say that it was wonderful to return to the original story, exactly how Agatha Christie wanted to tell it. Her writing is superb and I can see why her stories continue to inspire and engage. If you’ve never read a Christie novel then I urge you to pick one up. They are such a delight and she has a rather brilliant way of bringing humour and a lightness of touch to even the darkest of subject matter. They are, after all, jolly good crime novels, written to reveal the dark side of human nature but first and foremost to entertain…and that they certainly do.

The edition that I received is a stunning hardback edition published by HarperCollins. It is beautiful and certainly adds to the joy whenever picked up. I am hoping they may reproduce the entire Poirot collection in this format. I want to read each and every one. What a wonderful addition to the bookshelves that would make!

Now on to TV…

Now, I came to the conclusion long ago that when watching a film or small screen adaptation of a book it is best to view it, where possible, as a completely separate entity. Very rarely can they be the same. It is after all not (usually) written, directed or produced by the author. It is therefore a collaboration of opinions pulled together from an original story. Not one person will read a story in exactly the same way and when it comes to reproducing they will, of course, want to add their own touch to it.

I thoroughly enjoyed Sarah Phelps’ interpretation on the BBC. It was dark, brooding and kept me thoroughly gripped over the three nights. It has moved towards the slightly more gruesome side that TV seems to need these days. I mean why just batter someone other the head when you can literally decapitate them with a spade or leave them in a vast pool of blood after slitting their throat?

I also found the stereotypical chubby sister of the second murder victim, Betty Barnard, finding freedom from the shadows of her slim, beautiful sister a little unnecessary. The Megan Barnard of the novel was rather intelligent and interesting. We could delve deeper into why Sarah chose for the attractive, promiscuous sister to meet a gruesome end, and the sister who was presented on screen as over weight, drab and bitter, as the one who eventually finds freedom by escaping out the window (where on earth does she go!?) but that’s not for this blog to discuss today. Agatha has written many meek, forgotten women in her novels but they quite often tend to end up having strength simmering beneath the surface, as what is revealed is a strong, resilient (and at times calculating and murderous) woman. Perhaps this is how Sarah chose to portrayed this.

My only (slight) disappointments in this adaptation being the death of Detective Inspector Japp, the absence of Hastings, and the rather sad, lonely and humiliated Poirot that I couldn’t really see in the novels. Once I got over that though I became thoroughly engrossed. I did feel John Malkovich made an excellent Poirot and as the story progressed our beloved character did make a rather wonderful comeback. Saying that I do feel that losing the Belgium accent takes away part of the essence of the character (but I believe that was director, Alex Gabassi‘s call). You could say they have almost created a completely different Poirot.

The retelling as a whole did encourage me to look at Agatha’s books in a new light to see where Sarah’s inspiration came for the backstory and changes she chose to make. This is the wonderful thing about brokerage bringing these fresh adaptations to the screen. Not only do they bring a whole new audience to the stories but they make those of us familiar with the author and characters look at them with fresh eyes too. The acting and overall production was superb and I look forward to more from the BBC and Sarah in the future.

David Suchet – my Poirot

A few weeks after watching the BBC adaptation I settled down to watch the wonderful David Suchet take the lead in the investigation along with Hastings and, thankfully, a very fit and healthy Japp. I never tire of watching these versions and I thoroughly enjoyed it. I have enjoyed each of the many different actors who have taken on the famous detective but Suchet is without doubt my favourite. He played the detective for 25 years and in an article in The Express is quoted as saying that whilst preparing for his role back in 1988…

I started to write my private list of Poirot’s habits and character. I called it my ‘dossier of characteristics’. It ended up five pages long and detailed 93 different aspects of life. I have the list to this day – in fact, I carried it around on the set with me throughout all my years as Poirot, just as I gave a copy to every director I worked with on a Poirot film.

I feel that he is possibly the truest Hercule to Agatha’s creation. He is a joy to watch and he is how I imagine Poirot to be when I read the books.

Are you taking part in Read Christie 2019? Which Christie novel would you most like to read this year? I’m hoping for Murder on the Orient Express. A story I know very well but still haven’t read.