Fallen Angels by Gunnar Staalesen, published by Orenda Books @OrendaBooks @annecater #GunnarStaalesen #review #blog

I was so lucky to receive an advance copy of Fallen Angels by Gunnar Staalesen. A credible and dark page-turner with a relentless pace. Vivid, taut and evocative, this book had my pulse racing from start to finish.

Description:

Ever-dogged Bergen PI Varg Veum has to dig deep into his own past as he investigates the murder of a former classmate. Vintage, classic Nordic Noir from international bestselling author Gunnar Staalesen.

Description: When Bergen PI Varg Veum finds himself at the funeral of a former classmate on a sleet-grey December afternoon, he’s unexpectedly reunited with his old friend Jakob – the once-famous lead singer of 1960s rock band The Harpers – and his estranged wife, Rebecca, Veum’s first love.

Their rekindled friendship come to an abrupt end with a horrific murder, and Veum is forced to dig deep into his own adolescence and his darkest memories, to find a motive … and a killer.

Tense, vivid and deeply unsettling, Fallen Angels is the spellbinding, award-winning thriller that secured Gunnar Staalesen’s reputation as one of the world’s foremost crime writers.

  • Paperback : 276 pages
  • ISBN-10 : 1913193063
  • ISBN-13 : 978-1913193065
  • Publisher : Orenda Books (March 1, 2021)

PI Varg Veum reunites with a former friend Jakob at the funeral of Jan Petter in Bergen. The reunion brings back old memories of former classmates, some of whom have already died, but none, as it turns out, from old age.

Deciding to go for a pub crawl with their friend Paul Finckel, they reminisce about the past. There’s a melancholy mood to the opening chapters as if the ‘group’ are trying to reclaim their youth, trapped in an eddy of musical memories of The Harpers for which Veum was a roadie. They drink and carouse the night away, while ‘valleslette’ – sleet and biting winds and a few degrees above zero – sets the tone. Even though there is no life on the fjord there is always the Beetles…

Jakob asks Veum to search for his wife, Rebecca, a girl who grew up with Veum in Nordnes in the 60s. Thinking she may have run off with Johnny Solheim, Veum makes inquiries. But Johnny has a wife and claims he hasn’t seen Rebecca.

A few hours in another Sodom and Gomorrah type watering hole ‘where Caligula would have felt at home,’ Veum finds a heap of bad news outside. Holed up in a tight space and dreaming of the Rebecca he once knew, he is forced to answer a few questions. As another picture of an angel surfaces, Veum’s sharp instincts recognise the deaths may be connected. What did happened after the dissolution of the band? Someone is carrying around an awful secret and with Staalesen’s great sense of pacing, the reveal was phenomenal.

Fallen Angels is a remarkable example of its genre. The religious and psychological aspects bring deeper layers to the novel as told in powerful prose. It’s an elegant and complex thriller, meticulously laid out with a corkscrewing plot. The characters are well-drawn and mysterious, and the protagonist takes us on a wild ride with vivid scenes of Norway in December and its snowy, sleet-grey skies. There’s no doubt about it: Staalesen belongs on every crime fiction reader’s bookshelf.

My thanks to the publisher, Orenda Books, the author, Gunnar Staalesen and Anne Cater, blog tour organiser for the privilege of reading an advance copy of this book.

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Praise for Gunnar Staalesen

‘Gunnar Staalesen is one of my very favourite Scandinavian authors. Operating out of Bergen in Norway, his private eye, Varg Veum, is a complex but engaging anti-hero. Varg means “wolf ” in Norwegian, and this is a series with very sharp teeth’ Ian Rankin

‘The Norwegian Chandler’ Jo Nesbø

‘Not many books hook you in the first chapter – this one did, and never let go!’ Mari Hannah

‘Staalesen continually reminds us he is one of the finest of Nordic novelists’ Financial Times

‘Chilling and perilous results — all told in a pleasingly dry style’ Sunday Times

‘Staalesen does a masterful job of exposing the worst of Norwegian society in this highly disturbing entry’ Publishers Weekly

‘The Varg Veum series is more concerned with character and motivation than spectacle, and it’s in the quieter scenes that the real drama lies’ Herald Scotland

‘Every inch the equal of his Nordic confreres Henning Mankell and Jo Nesbo’ Independent

‘Mature and captivating’ Herald Scotland

‘One of the finest Nordic novelists – in the tradition of Henning Menkell’ Barry Forshaw, Independent

‘Masterful pacing’ Publishers Weekly

About the Author

One of the fathers of Nordic Noir, Gunnar Staalesen published the first book in the Varg Veum series in 1977. He is now the author of over 20 titles, which have been published in 24 countries and sold over four million copies. Twelve film adaptations of his Varg Veum crime novels have appeared since 2007. Staalesen has won three Golden Pistols (including the Prize of Honour), Where Roses Never Die won the 2017 Petrona Award for Nordic Crime Fiction, and Big Sister was shortlisted in 2019. 

Granite Noir fest 2017. Gunnar Staalesen.

Other Books by Gunnar Staalesen

The Searcher by Tana French, published by Penguin #review #blog @PenguinBooks @VikingBooks #TheSearcher #NetGalley

Another fabulous book from Tana French. I almost pulled an all-nighter with this one! If you want a book that transports you to another land, then this is it. Beautiful descriptions of rural Ireland, the brogue and deep characterisation that drops you there.

Book Description:

‘One of the most compulsive psychological mysteries since Donna Tartt’s The Secret History‘ THE TIMES
The Searcher by [Tana French]
UK link

Cal Hooper thought a fixer-upper in a remote Irish village would be the perfect escape. After twenty-five years in the Chicago police force, and a bruising divorce, he just wants to build a new life in a pretty spot with a good pub where nothing much happens.

But then a local kid comes looking for his help. His brother has gone missing, and no one, least of all the police, seems to care. Cal wants nothing to do with any kind of investigation, but somehow he can’t make himself walk away.

Soon Cal will discover that even in the most idyllic small town, secrets lie hidden, people aren’t always what they seem, and trouble can come calling at his door.

Our greatest living mystery writer weaves a masterful tale of breath-taking beauty and suspense, asking how we decide what’s right and wrong in a world where neither is simple, and what we risk if we fail.

Seen through the eyes of a former Chicago police officer, Cal Hooper buys an old shack and attempts to rebuild his life. Peace does not come easily and a young visitor makes it near impossible for Cal to enjoy his retirement. A missing sibling must be found and the mystery takes time to solve. He must tackle getting the information he needs both sensitively and skilfully, and tiptoe around the nuances and eccentricities of local customs.

There is much meandering around conversation, getting to know the villagers and their customs. In essence the book is a slow burn with undercurrents of graver things and threats that would keep a normal person at home. No so with Cal. He is detailed oriented with patience that would put a nun to shame. He needs to get the lie of the land before making decisions and he’s remarkably adept at winning most of the locals around. He also has a life in the US, whether or not he’s trying to forge a new one in a foreign land. He has worries. His daughter for one and an ex-wife who is on his mind and on his nerves.

The locals, equipped with their secrets and foibles are handled realistically and you can’t help liking and disliking a few. Cal might have appeared to have missed a few tricks, but he is persistent in a somewhat leisurely way. Trey is an enigma and the more we learn the more chilling the story becomes. The book is not terrifying, nor is it challenging. I would put it at the comfortable and evocative end of the spectrum. But that’s me. For those who have issues with animal cruelty, there are scenes that may be hard to read.

The writing style, as with all French novels, is impeccable with an easy poetic flow I’ve come to enjoy. The only issue I had with this one is it was a little slow getting off the ground. But what I find a tad tedious — champing to get to the action — others will find fascinating. I don’t take off stars for this. Authors have their own way of drawing out the plot of which French is an absolute master.

The Searcher: A Novel by [Tana French]
US link
  • Print Length: 464 pages
  • Publisher: Viking (October 6, 2020)
  • Publication Date: October 6, 2020
  • Sold by: Penguin Group (USA) LLC
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B08681BNKV

WHAT EVERYONE IS SAYING ABOUT TANA FRENCH

‘An engrossing, unpredictable, beautifully written mystery’ SOPHIE HANNAH

‘To say Tana French is one of the great thriller writers is really too limiting. Rather she’s simply this: a truly great writer‘ GILLIAN FLYNN

‘French offers a masterclass in unreliability‘ SUNDAY TIMES

‘I’m a big fan of Tana French‘ IAN RANKIN

The Wych Elm should cement French’s place in the first rank of great literary novelists‘ OBSERVER

‘This book confirms Tana French as [crime fiction’s] biggest contemporary star‘ GUARDIAN

Terrific – terrifying, amazing, and the prose is incandescent‘ STEPHEN KING

‘Another one of her rich psychological thrillers that will work its way under your skin’ LUCY MANGAN, STYLIST

‘This mystery about family, memory and the cracks in both will haunt you for a long, long time‘ ERIN KELLY

‘A tale of flawed characters, complex relationships and elusive loyalties. Subtle and powerful‘ CHRIS HAMMER

About the Author

Tana French

French grew up in Ireland, Italy, the US and Malawi, and has lived in Dublin since 1990. She trained as an actress at Trinity College Dublin and worked in theatre, film and voiceover. She is the author of IN THE WOODS (winner of the Edgar, Anthony, Barry, Macavity and IVCA Clarion awards), THE LIKENESS, FAITHFUL PLACE, BROKEN HARBOUR (winner of the LA Times Book Prize for Best Mystery/Thriller and the Irish Book Award for Best Crime Fiction) and THE SECRET PLACE. She lives in Dublin with her husband and two children.

Other books by Tana French

When You Disappeared by John Marrs, published by Thomas & Mercer, @johnmarrs @AmazonPub #Blog #review

After reading What Lies Between Us, I rushed to buy another John Marrs book. When You Disappeared is a story that will leave you on the edge of your seat, but it will also leave you emotionally drained. Published in 2017, it still holds up as one of the finest pieces of psychological thriller writing. It will stay with you long after you’ve read the last page.

Description:

All she wanted was the truth, but she’ll wish she never found out.

When Catherine wakes up alone one morning, she thinks her husband has gone for a run before work. But Simon never makes it to the office. His running shoes are by the front door. Nothing is missing—except him.

Catherine knows Simon must be in trouble. He wouldn’t just leave her. He wouldn’t leave the children.

But Simon knows the truth—about why he left and what he’s done. He knows things about his marriage that it would kill Catherine to find out. The memories she holds onto are lies.

While Catherine faces a dark new reality at home, Simon’s halfway around the world, alive and thriving. He’s doing whatever it takes to stay one step ahead of the truth.

But he can’t hide forever, and when he reappears twenty-five years later, Catherine will finally learn who he is.

And wish she’d stayed in the dark.

  • Print Length: 349 pages
  • Publisher: Thomas & Mercer (July 13, 2017)
  • Publication Date: July 13, 2017
  • ASIN: B01MR4XQL6

Review

I didn’t know what to expect when I read the description of this book, but I was gob-smacked by the unique way Marrs wove together two stories both present and past. I hated Simon from the beginning. Callous, narcissistic and driven to immense hatred by something that happened in the past, I was incensed by him abandoning his family. Why and what caused him to do such a despicable thing?

Twenty-five years ago, Catherine and her young children are abandoned by her husband. She is left to pick up the pieces and start all over again. But there is no body to bury and no closure, and as the in-laws begin to pick away at the marriage, and question if Catherine had any part in Simon’s disappearance, you feel her desperation and her loneliness. Instead of wallowing, she picks up the pieces and forges her own career while single-handedly bringing up her children. When you’re a single mother (like me) you know how hard this is. Marrs takes great care to show her failures and successes in a realistic and well-paced manner. I loved her story.

Meanwhile Simon contemplates ending his own life, and then decides instead to simply throw in the towel to a good career and marriage, and swan off to pastures new. He doesn’t look back. Much. His life takes on a grotesquely downward spiral as he travels abroad. A free spirit now, he has no direction, but there is a curiously OCD side to him, a strength of character that I found both fascinating and despicable. Each page brings you closer to finding out why Simon did what he did. You can’t help being completely invested in the characters because you know there is a huge chunk missing. We catch glimpses of a terrible mistake that had somehow impacted the relationship and brought it to its knees.

I did ask myself a question as I closed the book. What happened to the sons? The illnesses all round were sad, although I wondered if perhaps there were too many.

Although I felt terrible sadness for Simon’s story and his friendship with Doug, I wanted to stand up and scream. A life changing tragedy incurred by a simple lack of communication seemed so unnecessary, but when you consider why secrets weren’t divulged at that time, you can understand it more clearly. But the most unforgettable scene for me was the final admission. An innocent child which amounted to an act of unforgivable neglect. Yet Marrs still made me feel sorry for the villain when I shouldn’t have given a damn.

Trigger Alert: This is an unputdownable book for me, but the tragedy at the heart of it is so dark it may be a nightmare for some readers. Please read the reviews before diving in. Even so, I gave it a solid five stars because of the skillful formatting of the story and the twists and turns that leave you breathless.

What people are saying:

“A compelling dark read that gets you thinking.” 4/5, The Sun Newspaper.

“It’s crammed with twists and turns that’ll keep you guessing right until the very end.” 5/5 OK! Magazine.

“Looking for a thrilling read? Then look no further.” -TV Extra Magazine, Sunday Star Newspaper.

“A magnificent story, one that truly captivated from the start with its style and grace and ever so subtle disclosure of the ultimate history.” – littleebookreviews.com

“A story that left me on the edge of my seat. I couldn’t put it down. You simply must read this book for yourself.” – Book Lover’s Attic.

“The story is masterfully told … the book is one that will stay with the reader for a long time. It is an extremely impressive first novel.” – Online Book Club

“There are many jaw-dropping moments. If you pick up this book, expect to be shocked! This is a book that firmly deserves to be defined as a page-turner.” – Cleopatra Loves Books. –This text refers to an alternate kindle_edition edition.

About the Author:

John MarrsJohn Marrs is an author and former journalist based in London and Northamptonshire. After spending his career interviewing celebrities from the worlds of television, film and music for numerous national newspapers and magazines, he is now a full-time author. What Lies Between Us is his seventh book. Follow him at http://www.johnmarrsauthor.co.uk, on Twitter @johnmarrs1, on Instagram @johnmarrs.author and on Facebook at http://www.facebook.com/johnmarrsauthor.

More Books by John Marrs

John Marrs books

My Dark Vanessa by Kate Elizabeth Russell @4thestatebooks @wmcollinsbooks @HarperCollinsUK #review #blog #womenspsychologicalfiction

I was absolutely thrilled to receive a copy of this NY Times Bestseller. It leaves a deep impression on the reader long after the book has finished. Profound, disturbing, and haunting, abuse is not everyone’s cup of tea. You’ll feel every layer of Vanessa’s personality, her struggles and her strength, and you’ll suffer along with her until the bitter end.

INSTANT NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLER 

My Dark Vanessa: A Novel by [Russell, Kate Elizabeth]

US link

“Russell manages a brutal originality. . . . [an] exceedingly complex, inventive, resourceful examination of harm and power.” —The New York Times Book Review, Editors’ Choice

“To call this book a ‘conversation piece’ or ‘an important book’ feels belittling . . . [it] is so much more than that. It’s a lightning rod. A brilliantly crafted novel.”—The Washington Post

A most anticipated book by The New York Times • USA Today • Entertainment Weekly • Marie Claire • Elle • Harper’s Bazaar • Bustle • Newsweek • New York Post • Esquire •  Real Simple • The Sunday Times • The Guardian 

Exploring the psychological dynamics of the relationship between a precocious yet naïve teenage girl and her magnetic and manipulative teacher, a brilliant, all-consuming read that marks the explosive debut of an extraordinary new writer.

2000. Bright, ambitious, and yearning for adulthood, fifteen-year-old Vanessa Wye becomes entangled in an affair with Jacob Strane, her magnetic and guileful forty-two-year-old English teacher.

2017. Amid the rising wave of allegations against powerful men, a reckoning is coming due. Strane has been accused of sexual abuse by a former student, who reaches out to Vanessa, and now Vanessa suddenly finds herself facing an impossible choice: remain silent, firm in the belief that her teenage self willingly engaged in this relationship, or redefine herself and the events of her past. But how can Vanessa reject her first love, the man who fundamentally transformed her and has been a persistent presence in her life? Is it possible that the man she loved as a teenager—and who professed to worship only her—may be far different from what she has always believed?

Alternating between Vanessa’s present and her past, My Dark Vanessa juxtaposes memory and trauma with the breathless excitement of a teenage girl discovering the power her own body can wield. Thought-provoking and impossible to put down, this is a masterful portrayal of troubled adolescence and its repercussions that raises vital questions about agency, consent, complicity, and victimhood. Written with the haunting intimacy of The Girls and the creeping intensity of Room, My Dark Vanessa is an era-defining novel that brilliantly captures and reflects the shifting cultural mores transforming our relationships and society itself.

Review

One of the deepest novels I’ve read this year. A powerfully chilling book, it weaves every type of abuse imaginable into one story. Women will resonate with Vanessa and hopefully find the courage to tell their own stories so they no longer feel alone, undermined, and barely existing in self-doubt. But it is also a book for men.

Vanessa (15) is a lonely girl longing to be loved and typical of girls her own age, a loner. Dumped by her best friend, she is dangerously vulnerable to the predatory Strane; a master manipulator and narcissist. Central to the plot is her loyalty and the chipping away of her own identity which, if left alone, would have developed at its own speed. You can’t help thinking what life might have been like for Vanessa if Strane hadn’t polluted it, and in this way the novel examines Strane’s ruthlessness and exploitation of her youth. She is puzzlingly obsessed with a man so much older than herself and with few physical attributes a girl of her age would naturally find attractive. But there is a meeting of the minds, an academic magnetism that draws her to Strane; the catalyst being the book Lolita, given to Vanessa by Strane. In Lolita, Humbert is obsessed with ‘nymphets’ aged from 9 – 14, and as Lo unwittingly stretches her legs across Humbert’s excited lap, so too does Vanessa in Strane’s study. This is how she defines love.

As the relationship progresses, Vanessa is blind to Strane’s disturbed personality — irritatingly so — because she is oblivious to his motive. Strane’s greed causes indescribable pain and tragedy to Vanessa alone, where she is expelled from a school she loves in order to protect his name. The frustration a reader may feel is Vanessa’s powerlessness and emotional immaturity, and most importantly the lack of statutory rape laws to protect her. The issue here is that Vanessa doesn’t feel she’s been raped because she’s in love, and Strane, in his own twisted way, loves her. She is inescapably bound to him and cannot form attachments with boys of her own age. Neither Taylor nor a reporter, desperately trying to build a case about Strane, can get through to Vanessa. Even Vanessa’s counsellor has met her match.

The relationship continues outside the school for a brief period until she is too ‘old’ to satisfy Strane’s fantasies. We see her robbed of her innocence too early to understand its complexities and the damage incurred by Strane’s selfishness. Weed smoking and drinking aside, Vanessa is already on a downward trajectory, although I kept hoping for retribution as a result of Strane’s sudden diffidence.

I found the last third of the book a little lacklustre compared to the opening chapters which are an emotional roller-coaster. Gripping and horrifying, it’s hard to put down because you ache for Vanessa and you hope she will see the light. Parts of it were so emotional for me I had to put it down for a while to process what I’d just read.

Beautifully written and riveting from start to finish, the after-effects will be with the reader for months to come.

Thank you to @Netgalley, the author and the publisher for an advance copy of this book.

About the Author

Kate Elizabeth RussellKate Elizabeth Russell was born and raised in eastern Maine. She holds an MFA from Indiana University and a PhD from the University of Kansas. My Dark Vanessa is her first novel.

 

 

 

My Dark Vanessa: The Biggest Debut Novel of 2020 

vanessa quote card

What people are saying:

“Exquisite… My Dark Vanessa stands on its own as simultaneously specific and universal—about a young woman who believes she’s in a love story when she’s actually in a psychological horror film.” (Los Angeles Times)

My Dark Vanessa: The Biggest Debut Novel of 2020 by [Russell, Kate Elizabeth]

UK Link

“This timely, riveting debut illuminates the interplay between a child’s heartbreaking confusion and the deepest perversions of power.” (People, Book of the Week)

“A brilliant and stunning debut, My Dark Vanessa is utterly truth-rattling, humane in its clarity and chilling in its resonance. An absolute must read.” (Gillian Flynn, #1 New York Times bestselling author of Gone Girl)

‘Clever, unsettling … this novel stands out for its elusiveness, its exceedingly complex, inventive, resourceful examination of harm and power’ New Yorker

‘The #MeToo novel that’s as gripping as any thriller’ Grazia

‘Gripping and unsettling… a bracingly uncompromising book. It will doubtless be devoured with an ache of recognition by large numbers of women. But it really ought to be read by men’ Economist

Superb … a book that asks what we have lost and gained in an era that has revolutionised the way we think about sex and power’ Observer

Addictively disturbing’ Red Magazine

 

Freya 800AD: Viking era by Jean Mead @jeanmeadauthor #review #blogger #historical #mystery

I am so excited to be featuring a book I absolutely love. Not only is the cover one of the best I’ve seen in this genre, but the deep layers of research and the history of the time make it a must-read for all historical mystery lovers.  If you enjoy Viking war heroes, this book will provide a window into the harsh Nordic winters and a remarkable woman called Freya. Be sure to check out More Exciting News after my review.

Book description

Freya 800AD: Viking era by [Mead, Jean]Viking Era Fiction – Freya Sigvat lived more than a thousand years ago at the beginning of the Viking raids on Britain. When her husband, and the men of the settlement, sail across the Norse Sea to wreak havoc on Britain, Freya is left to manage the almost deserted settlement. Knut, a man of the mountains with a warped and cruel mind crosses the threshold of her family longhouse with devastating consequences. In a cruel twist of fate, Freya is forced to desert those she loves to live in isolation. Surviving through a long dark winter with wolves and bears roaming the frozen wilderness. This is the story of a remarkable woman, her heroism and terrifying adventure. The drama of a family feud, romance, secrets and eventual betrayal.

Book Links: US flag US here  British flag UK here

Print Length: 267 pages

Publisher: Novel Publishing (October 6, 2014)

Publication Date: October 6, 2014

ASIN: B00O8VCKQO

Thriller & Suspense Action Fiction

Historical Mystery, Thriller & Suspense Fiction

Action Thriller Fiction

Review

Freya Sigvat lies awake in the longhouse dreading the coming day. The thought of her husband leaving for the wide open sea in his precious longboat is breaking her heart. Perhaps the next time she hears his voice will be in her head. Mead takes her readers back to the time of the Vikings, a time of hardship and restrained emotions, a time of war and heroes, where tenderness doesn’t belong. It’s easy to conjure scenes of ‘dark crests rising out of thin mists’ – slopes a myriad of greys, lilacs and blues and a dark peppering of oak and pine trees. You can even smell the smoldering moss of the fire and the honeyed mead.

Old Unnur has the ears of the gods and she can see into the future. With a good cup of mead she’s a hearty companion with a sharp mind full of memories. But Freya’s mind is hardly on the mead or the warmth of the fire. She thinks of Olaf, feels the pull of his spirit, whilst Olaf’s mind is on battle, his sword high over his head in the excitement of it all. My senses warn me his return will be anything but ordinary. Will these men conquer those far off lands? What plunder will they bring back?

Each chapter is laced with intrigue and when one danger is past, another slams full force into the community. There is no doubt this book has been well researched. It is poetically written, movie-worthy and one that will take you on an exciting journey providing a marvelous window into Norske society.

What people are saying:

Beautifully mastered historical fiction. I definitely recommend this book to all those who like historical fiction or can’t seem to get enough of Vikings!  – J.M. Northrup

A step back in time. Another compelling book by Jean Mead as she takes us back in time to life in a bygone age.  – Rosalie Marsh

If you want to know how life was in those times, look no further than this story of Freya. – Gunnardottir

A viking heroine! When I finished reading, I found the characters still inhabiting my imagination.  – Mary Rose

The characters are rich and complex, especially Freya. I was drawn into their lives and hungry for more. – Andrew Ternay

Jean Mead has researched thoroughly to create a novel that takes its reader to Ninth Century Norway – to a world of longhouses, sleeping benches, and Pictish hordes. – Amazon Reviewer

A gritty drama. With the ships movements I could easily have been onboard. – Amazon Reviewer

More exciting news!

Jean Mead has a new book coming out on 8th December with pre-order available mid November. You’ll find the blurb below on the back of this beautiful book jacket. Mark your calendars and reserve space on your book shelves, coffee tables and kindles. You won’t want to miss this one!

About the Author:

Jean MeadJean Mead was born in Warwickshire in England. Moved to Staffordshire at the age of seven and attended the Howard school in Elford. Later moved to a school in Tamworth. The family moved back to Warwickshire and at the age of thirteen Jean attended Sharmans Cross High for Girls.

Writing was always a favourite occupation. Many dozen of short stories were published in magazines in the UK, America, Ireland and Australia.

The Other Famous Five, a novel for children was her first book to be published. A contemporary novel written under another name followed. Eventually The Widow Makers and The Widow Makers:Strife were published.

Freya 800 AD is the latest book. This is the story of a woman living more than a thousand years ago at the beginning of the Viking raids on Britain.

A contemporary novel No Goodbye will be in bookshops early 2013.

Jean is now completing the 3rd book in the historical trilogy, The Widow Makers:Road’s End.

More books by Jean Mead:

jean meads books

 

Our House by Louise Candlish – published by @BerkleyPub @penguinrandom #review #blog #women’s #psychological #thriller

This book was such a treat! I bought the hardback format for my book shelf and I’m very happy I did. Nail-biting from the very beginning, this writer knows how to turn everyday situations into truly disturbing nightmares. A five star read for me!

Book Description

Our House by [Candlish, Louise]“The perfect book for thriller readers and true-crime podcast addicts…a stunning literary thriller that artfully twists and turns until the very end.”–Bustle

One of The Washington Post‘s 10 Best Thrillers and Mysteries of the Year
One of Publishers Weekly‘s Best Books of the Year
One of Real Simple‘s Best Books of the Year

On a bright morning in the suburbs, a family moves into the house they’ve just bought on Trinity Avenue. Nothing strange about that. Except it’s your house. And you didn’t sell it.

When Fiona Lawson arrives home to find strangers moving into her house, she is plunged into terror and confusion. She and her husband, Bram, have owned their home on Trinity Avenue for years; how can another family possibly think the house is theirs? And why has Bram disappeared–along with their two young children–when she needs him most?

As the nightmare takes hold, Fiona begins to untangle the lies that led to a devastating crime–and a betrayal so shocking it will teach her to keep her own secrets behind locked doors….

Print Length: 426 pages

Page Numbers Source ISBN: 045148911X

Publisher: Berkley (August 7, 2018)

Publication Date: August 7, 2018

Sold by: Penguin Group (USA) LLC

Language: English

ASIN: B075HZ82S6

Buyers links: US flag US here    British flag UK  here

Review

A well-executed plot that had me gasping from the outset. I noticed a few reviews that indicated this was a slow burn, but for me it was completely the opposite. Each chapter and sections of dialogue drove the story forward at an alarming rate. and I couldn’t put the book down.

Although the premise may seem a little far-fetched, as I read on it became terrifyingly believable. On Friday 13th, Fi returns home to discover something has happened to her house. The front façade is the same, but the occupants and furniture aren’t. Fi’s husband’s phone is out of service and her children aren’t at school that day. Two inconsistencies sure to send any mother into a tail spin. This is one of those stories that spring from an ordinary day at work, a simple ride home and BAM! The stuff great psychological thrillers are made of.

Written mainly in two points of view, Fi’s and Bram’s with his Word document that parallels Fi’s podcast — stories that lead up to the present day. With infidelity and divorce in the background, and latterly a ‘bird’s nest’ plan — keeping the children in the same home with alternating parental custody — things should have been working well. But they’re not when you consider the secret Bram is hiding. With Fi being the innocent party up until now, you watch two otherwise intelligent, responsible people slide slowly into a complete nightmare. A car crash, a few more affairs and a conspiracy that made my toes curl.

Fi’s neighbour, Merle, offers to help her throughout her ordeal, although I had a hard time understanding how Fi managed to deal with it. But desperate and out of sorts, what choice did she have? I found her thoughtful and compassionate, everything you’d expect. Bram is a little too treacherous for his own good, and perhaps a little weak. I kept wanting to shake him out of his stubbornness as he kept trying to cover up his mistakes, which deteriorated with each chapter. There was no way out for him and digging deeper into his dark world only cemented his failure. Secrets, both harrowing and tragic, a moral message and a few well planned twists along the way made the book a success for me. The last chapter was something I’d toyed with but thought wouldn’t happen. I think the author did a splendid job of tying up all loose ends, even if one question may have been left hanging. For me, this enhances the read because, let’s face it, who doesn’t love being confronted by a potentially shocking revelation.

This is the first Louise Candlish book I’ve read and definitely won’t be the last. Masterfully plotted, her writing is top-notch and sure to score with avid domestic thriller lovers. If you’re looking for a superior read, one with grit and depth, this is it. Our House will definitely be listed in my top ten reads for 2019.

What people are saying:

Our House: The Sunday Times bestseller everyone's talking about by [Candlish, Louise]‘If 2018 brings a better book than Our House I will eat my hat. Addictive, twisty and oh so terrifyingly possible’ CLARE MACKINTOSH

‘I raced through it this weekend. Such a smart idea. Twisty, warped, credible. Brilliantly plotted and compelling. Deserves to be such a hit’ SARAH VAUGHAN

‘Louise Candlish is a great writer; she inhaled me into her nightmarish world where everything we think we know is ripped from under our feet’  FIONA BARTON

”A masterfully plotted, compulsive page-turner’ Guardian 
‘Keeps you guessing to the end – and beyond’ Stylist
‘Whip-smart, knowing and brilliantly plotted’ INDIA KNIGHT
‘A corker’ Evening Standard
‘Terrific premise’ New York Times

Other books by Louise Candlish

Louise Candlish

 

The Favorite Daughter by Kaira Rouda @Graydon House @HarlequinDigital #review #blog #psychological #thriller

I was so excited to find author Kaira Rouda had written another book. This was a wild ride I couldn’t pass up. A highly entertaining read with a character you hate to love.

Description

The perfect home. The perfect family. The perfect lie.

The Favorite Daughter by [Rouda, Kaira]Jane Harris lives in a sparkling home in an oceanfront gated community in Orange County. It’s a place that seems too beautiful to be touched by sadness. But exactly one year ago, Jane’s oldest daughter, Mary, died in a tragic accident and Jane has been grief-stricken ever since. Lost in a haze of anti-depressants, she’s barely even left the house. Now that’s all about to change.

It’s time for Jane to reclaim her life and her family. Jane’s husband, David, has planned a memorial service for Mary and three days later, their youngest daughter, Betsy, graduates high school. Yet as Jane reemerges into the world, it’s clear her family has changed without her. Her husband has been working long days—and nights—at the office. Her daughter seems distant, even secretive. And her beloved Mary was always such a good girl—dutiful and loving. But does someone know more about Mary, and about her last day, than they’ve revealed?

The bonds between mothers and daughters, and husbands and wives should never be broken. But you never know how far someone will go to keep a family together…

Print Length: 368 pages

Publisher: Graydon House; Original edition (May 21, 2019)

Publication Date: May 21, 2019

Sold by: Harlequin Digital Sales Corp.

Links: US US flag  here     UK British flag  here 

Review

Jane is an unreliable Orange County housewife, grieving over the loss of her daughter Mary who fell from a cliff while hiking. Trying hard to put her life back together again, she begins receiving anonymous letters from a witness claiming that Betsy may know something more than she’s letting on. Jane can’t help noticing a bond building between her daughter and her husband, and quickly steps in to redress the balance. After all, shouldn’t she be included? If her family’s life isn’t entirely stage-managed by her it will fall apart and never recover. Such are the intrigues of a narcissistic mind.

Mary’s memorial service looms — as does the high school graduation for Betsy — and Jane wants everything to be perfect. Her behaviour begins to diminish and just as I’m thinking she’ll touch rock bottom, up she bobs with something thoroughly distasteful. I couldn’t stop reading because I had to know how far she would go and I had to know if she’d get away with it.

After months of sucking down anti-depressants, the rest of her family and friends have taken steps to rebuild their lives and they’re making plans of their own. But these plans aren’t Jane’s plans and this is where truth and illusion collide. The more she watches Betsy and David, the more conspiratorial she becomes. The entertainment here is in Jane’s rationalising. Her outward victory when things go her way and her inward denial when they don’t. It doesn’t matter how often she tries to engineer relationships, you never quite know if her family are entirely oblivious to these manoeuvrings or if they’re smart enough to outstep them. Because you’d have to be sharp to take Jane head on.

Slim and trim, she has convinced herself that her beauty is world-shattering. After all, the way she sees herself is how others see her. But in the same breath, she is governed by insecurities which add the extra layer we’ve all come to expect in Rouda novels. Jane can’t help but dive headlong into a battle of wits with her surviving daughter and husband and I was dying to see her plan revealed at the graduation.  Betsy and David are hardly puppets, and this is where the fun begins. No matter how hard Jane tries to drive a wedge between them, the odds are never entirely in her favour. If at any time you think her polished veneer will crack, think again. Perception is the name of the game, and provided Jane can corral her family back to the fold, everything should go to plan.

My thoughts: These books are addictive and although Jane mirrors Paul in Best Day Ever, the storylines are distinctive enough to separate them. Towards the end, possibly the last four chapters were a little tedious for me. Too much reflection and not enough action. But we readers are Jane’s confidants, so I couldn’t have expecting anything less.

What will Rouda come up with next? A narcissistic child? Grandmother. Aunt. Whatever it is, I’m really looking forward to it!

What readers are saying

Will hit you right in the heart” — Bustle

A PopSugar Best Book of Spring!

“An exceptional psychological thriller.” — Publishers Weekly STARRED review

“Leaves you wanting more.” — Liv Constantine, author of the national bestseller The Last Mrs. Parrish

“A smart, wickedly plotted psychological thriller brimming with dark surprises” — Heather Gudenkauf, New York Times bestselling author

“Intense, creepy, and classic Rouda. A chilling story, told so well. Don’t miss it!” — J. T. Ellison, New York Times bestselling author

“B.A. Paris and Shari Lapena fans will fall head over heels for this suspenseful psychological thriller set in an upscale Southern California community.” -PopSugar

“The Gone Girl-style domestic suspense novel follows Jane, a narcissistic perfectionist dealing with the death of her daughter.” — Washington Post

“Rouda’s portrayal of Jane is fabulously compelling and darkly hilarious…The resolution is satisfying, but the ride is so diabolically twisted and entertaining that readers will be sorry when it come to a stop.” -Shelf Awareness

“No one creates a narcissist like Rouda…. A wow read that will have you floored.” -Bookstr

From the author of Best Day Ever, another gripping novel of psychological suspense set in an upscale Southern California community, for fans of B.A. Paris and Shari Lapena.

About the author

Kaira Rouda Rouda is a USA TODAY bestselling, multiple award-winning author of contemporary fiction that explores what goes on beneath the surface of seemingly perfect lives. Her domestic suspense novel BEST DAY EVER is a USA TODAY bestseller translated into more than eight languages. Her next novel, THE FAVORITE DAUGHTER, is out May 21, 2019.

She lives in Southern California with her family and is at work on her next novel. Connect with her on Twitter, Instagram and Pinterest: @KairaRouda; and on Facebook at Kaira Rouda Books.
If you’d like to host Kaira at your book club, in person or virtually, connect with the author, visit KairaRouda.com.

 

The Marsh King’s Daughter by Karen Dionne @Sphere @PutnamBooks @penguinusa ‏#bookreview #psychological #thrillers

I”m so excited to feature author Karen Dionne on my blog today, and in particular her masterpiece The Marsh King’s Daughter. A gripping story set in a remote location of Michigan’s Upper Peninsula, Helena Pelletier races against time to find her father. A dark and scary tale and so very well written, it drove me full-throttle to the end in one sitting. I especially enjoyed the inclusion of a few paragraphs from the Hans Christian Andersen tale of the same name, which headed the chapters of Helena’s past.

Book Description:

THE INTERNATIONAL BESTSELLER
 
“Brilliant….About as good as a thriller can be.”—The New York Times Book Review

“[A] nail-biter perfect for Room fans.”—Cosmopolitan

“Sensationally good psychological suspense.”—Lee Child

Praised by Karin Slaughter and Megan Abbott, The Marsh King’s Daughter is the mesmerizing tale of a woman who must risk everything to hunt down the dangerous man who shaped her past and threatens to steal her future: her father. 

The Marsh King's Daughter by [Dionne, Karen]Helena Pelletier has a loving husband, two beautiful daughters, and a business that fills her days. But she also has a secret: she is the product of an abduction. Her mother was kidnapped as a teenager by her father and kept in a remote cabin in the marshlands of Michigan’s Upper Peninsula. Helena, born two years after the abduction, loved her home in nature, and despite her father’s sometimes brutal behavior, she loved him, too…until she learned precisely how savage he could be.

More than twenty years later, she has buried her past so soundly that even her husband doesn’t know the truth. But now her father has killed two guards, escaped from prison, and disappeared into the marsh. The police begin a manhunt, but Helena knows they don’t stand a chance. Knows that only one person has the skills to find the survivalist the world calls the Marsh King—because only one person was ever trained by him: his daughter.

A Michigan Notable Book!

Book links:  US flag US here  British flag UK here

Print Length: 314 pages

Page Numbers Source ISBN: 0735213003

Publisher: G.P. Putnam’s Sons (June 13, 2017)

Publication Date: June 13, 2017

Sold by: Penguin Group (USA) LLC

Review

WOW! Another fabulous and unique read. The Marsh King’s Daughter is suspenseful thriller set in the remote swamps of the Upper Peninsula in Michigan. It is the story of Helena Pelletier, born to a woman who was kidnapped at the age of 14 by a sociopath. Taking the reader back in time to an isolated setting; a cabin with no electricity or running water, and where the sun is the only light to live by, Helena’s connection to the outside world is a National Geographic magazine and the occasional drone of a plane.

The book alternates between two time frames. The present, where Helena is married with two daughters and the past where we learn how Helena came to be. In the present, her father escapes from prison, having killed two correctional officers, and Helena is the only one who can bring him to justice. As she tracks him through her old stamping ground in the UP, she recalls her childhood living in a dilapidated cabin in the swamp. Here, we learn about the abuse and confinement both she and her mother suffer, which makes this story so utterly heart-breaking. Helena grows up tough, learning the survival skills necessary for wilderness life—tracking, hunting, shooting—while at the same time being unaware of her mother’s past. Somewhat insensitive to her mother’s dilemma, she idolizes her father while enduring his torture and becoming more able to predict his punishments.

The descriptions of the UP are vivid and well researched. I felt I was right there with Helena, surviving the elements and searching for tracks in the terrain. She’s a strong protagonist, one you definitely want to root for. The survival techniques the author describes are top-notch. There aren’t many books with this much explanation that didn’t leave you feeling exhausted from a history lesson. They were cleverly drip-fed throughout the book, and left you wanting more.

I found it hard to stomach Helena’s indifference towards her mother at the beginning, but I realise her mother was too weak to stop the abuse, and the sheer isolation made it impossible to run for help. Every effort would no doubt be hampered by the father’s brutal nature. I did question Helena’s hesitation when she had a clean shot of her father at the beginning, and wondered why she didn’t just pop him. Or disable him, at the very least.

The general ‘feel’ after finishing this book is of a stolen childhood. One that wouldn’t have provided the young Helena with any social skills since she had no interaction with other children of her age. Same as her mother who would have compared her life before she was kidnapped to the cruelty she experienced afterwards. It was desolate and moody, characteristics I enjoy in a novel.

I would definitely recommend this book to readers who enjoy spine-tingling, adventure suspense.

About The Author:

Karen DionneKaren Dionne is the author of The Marsh King’s Daughter, also titled HOME in the UK, a dark, psychological suspense novel published by G.P. Putnam’s Sons in the US and in 25 other countries.

Karen is co-founder of the online writers community Backspace, and organizes the Salt Cay Writers Retreat held every other year on a private island in the Bahamas. She is a member of the International Thriller Writers, where she served on the board of directors as Vice President, Technology.

Other books by Karen Dionne

Karen Dionne

 

Top Six Books I’ve Read This Year

Due to a transfer in career from New Mexico to Utah, I decided to take a brief hiatus from writing. Having completed a stand-alone thriller and nearing the end of the Detective Temeke series, there’s no better escape than reading books. Here are six of my favorites this year written by brilliant, talented writers.

AAA Oliver

Publisher: Gallery/Scout Press, (Simon and Schuster) Pages: 273. Rating 4.3. Reviews 315. Genre: Family Life, Psychological Thriller, Mystery, Thriller and Suspense.

Brief Description: Oliver Ryan has the perfect life. Elegant and seductive, he wants for nothing, sharing a lovely home with his steadfast wife, Alice, who illustrates the award-winning children’s books that have brought him wealth and fame. Until one evening, after eating the dinner Alice has carefully prepared, Oliver savagely assaults her and leaves her for dead.

Described as a whydunnit rather than a whodunnit, Unraveling Oliver is an intricately woven story of a man who apparently has everything. Or does he? Highly suspenseful and told from the perspectives of the injured parties, it is the tragic story of a fractured mind. Some of the reviews indicate that readers found the alternating points of view hard to get to grips with, but I love this style. If a book doesn’t have that extra layer it can fall flat for me and I end up distracted and looking for food. This story intrigued me and after the last page, the plot was thick enough to stick for at least a week. Highly recommended.

The wife between us

Publisher: St. Martin’s Press. Pages: 342. Rating 4.2. Reviews 1,739. Genre: Women’s Fiction, Psychological, Detective, Suspense.

Brief Description: When you read this book, you will make many assumptions.
You will assume you are reading about a jealous ex-wife.
You will assume she is obsessed with her replacement – a beautiful, younger woman who is about to marry the man they both love.
You will assume you know the anatomy of this tangled love triangle.
Assume nothing.

I found this story intriguing although a little slow to begin with. A twisty plot of love and betrayal written from two points of view, Nellie (the bride) and Vanessa (the disturbed ex). You you get the impression fairly early on that we are not getting the whole story and I had to go back and reread sections to make sure I had it down correctly. It’s well-read territory, twists and turns are a little contrived but around the half-way mark the reveal took me by surprise. The book is described as a clever suspense novel and compared to The Girl on the Train and Gone Girl. I’m not sure it’s quite up there, but it’s well worth the read.

Silent Girls

Publisher: Witness Impulse/Harper Collins. Pages: 411. Rating 4.0. Reviews: 1,406. Genre: Mystery, Thriller, Suspense. Heist. Supernatural. United States.

Brief Description: Frank Rath thought he was done with murder when he turned in his detective’s badge to become a private investigator and raise a daughter alone. Then the police in his remote rural community of Canaan find an ’89 Monte Carlo abandoned by the side of the road, and the beautiful teenage girl who owned the car seems to have disappeared without a trace.

I had heard of Eric Rickstad but not read any of his novels. Needless to say, I was hooked at the first few pages. He has a rhythmic writing style I love, although I could have done with less of the short sentences. They were a little choppy and when more than one character (narrative voice) attempted the same style, it can get confusing. This was another book I thought I had figured out, but nope. The ending, for me, was a serious twist. Not everyone likes cliffhangers, so I hope he comes up with a second book. Recommended.

I let you go

Publisher: Berkley, Penguin Group. Pages: 377. Rating: 4.3. Reviews: 1,275. Genre: Women’s Fiction, Crime, Mystery, Thriller, Suspense. Detective. Psychological.

Brief Description: On a rainy afternoon, a mother’s life is shattered as her son slips from her grip and runs into the street… I Let You Go follows Jenna Gray as she moves to a ramshackle cottage on the remote Welsh coast, trying to escape the memory of the car accident that plays again and again in her mind and desperate to heal from the loss of her child and the rest of her painful past.

The blurb for I Let You Go enticed me to buy it and I was glad I did. The book tells the story of a mother who loses her child in an accident (not a spoiler since this is in the blurb) during those one of those dangerous split seconds of inattention. Its the hit-and-run the reader focuses on and Jenna’s way of coping with this terrible tragedy.  Unputdownable and disturbing, and brought home by brilliant, atmospheric writing. Just too many layers of this particular onion that I enjoyed, a truly emotional journey that made me feel no matter what Jenna did, she was going to pay the price at some point. Highly recommended.

all the light

Publisher: Scribner, Simon and Schuster. Pages: 545. Rating: 4.6. Reviews: 28,078. Genre: Historical Fiction, French, German, Military.

Brief Description: Marie-Laure lives with her father in Paris near the Museum of Natural History, where he works as the master of its thousands of locks. When she is six, Marie-Laure goes blind and her father builds a perfect miniature of their neighborhood so she can memorize it by touch and navigate her way home. When she is twelve, the Nazis occupy Paris and father and daughter flee to the walled citadel of Saint-Malo, where Marie-Laure’s reclusive great-uncle lives in a tall house by the sea. With them they carry what might be the museum’s most valuable and dangerous jewel.

Probably one of my favorite books of all time, All The Light We Cannot See takes you through the lives of Marie-Laure, her father and the gadget-obsessed German orphan Werner, tied together by a dangerous and priceless gem. It’s an intricate masterpiece that draws you in so you can’t fail to become personally connected. With alternating character chapters, the atrocities and the lasting scars on each will very likely create an image of war some of us have never imagined. I think this book will haunt me for some time. Highly recommended.

Beneath a Scarlet Sky

Publisher: Lake Union Publishing. Pages: 526. Rating: 4.8. Reviews: 19,097. Genre: Literary Fiction, Biographical, Women’s Fiction. 

Pino Lella wants nothing to do with the war or the Nazis. He’s a normal Italian teenager—obsessed with music, food, and girls—but his days of innocence are numbered. When his family home in Milan is destroyed by Allied bombs, Pino joins an underground railroad helping Jews escape over the Alps, and falls for Anna, a beautiful widow six years his senior.

With phenomenal ratings—4.8—it’s no surprise that this cinematic and literary work was chosen by Pascal Pictures to be made into a movie. Based on a true story and set against the backdrop of Nazi-occupied Milan during World War II, this book carries an intense pace and leaves you feeling like one of the characters and not just the reader. Pino becomes a driver for Major General Leyer, and through his eyes we ‘see’ all the harrowing Nazi atrocities and the allied advances to liberate northern Italy. Full of action and suspense, it will keep you on the edge of your seat. The writing is poetic and impeccable and as quoted within the opening chapters, nothing will ever be the same. Highly recommended.

There’s nothing like reading a book with that extra special magic, the type of book you can’t bear to finish. If you’re searching for a compulsively readable novel, these must-read books, complete with publisher information, ratings, genre and descriptions, are impossible to put down. 

Next, I will be reading a book by Tess Gerritson, Paula Hawkins and K.L. Slater.

 

 

 

New Book News

thankyou

2017 has been a fabulous year with two books written in the Detective Temeke Crime Series. Dead Cold, available on Amazon, and Easy Prey, coming out in eBook on December 28.

Dead Cold, Book 4 in the series was one of my favorites to write. The case winds its way through New Mexico and Arizona as the police pursue a fugitive thought to have been involved in a murder. For those of you who know the area around Schnebly Hill road will appreciate these majestic views.

schnebly-hill-vista

Easy Prey, Book 5, is set in Albuquerque around the Rio Grande River and the general area known as the Bosque, a constructed wetland intended to replicate the natural wetlands that historically occupied the floodplain of the Rio Grande.

Easy Prey for newsletter

Short Description:

Something dark and brooding stalks the mysterious Bosque nature reserve. Bird watchers fall prey to the menace and thefts of rare falcons are on the rise. But it is the body of a murdered girl discovered on the banks of The Rio Grande River that eventually brings Detectives Temeke and Santiago onto the trail.

During a camping weekend, Jessie Bowman’s best friend, Bree, has disappeared. Guilt ridden, yet determined to do the right thing, she tracks the man she believes is responsible and begins to unravel a mystery that tests every ounce of her resilience. She has only two choices – fight or flight. And Jessie is done with running.

Now Detectives Temeke and Santiago must locate Jessie before the madman snares his final prey.

What people are saying:

‘Stibbe handles the latest mystery in the Detective Temeke series with the dexterity of a master falconer. The climax will swoop down and seize you when you least expect it, leaving you feeling as if you too have become ‘easy prey’. Dr Maurice Singleton, PhD in Narrative Theory, Author and Lecturer

WINNER NM AZ

 

AWARDS: Night Eyes, Book 2 of the Detective Temeke Series won the New Mexico/Arizona Book Award this year in the Crime Mystery Category. This is a big award, where books are read by publishers, librarians and bestselling authors. Thank you to all those who voted for this book!

SALES: During Christmas and the New Year, the first three books in the series have been discounted to 99p/99c. So click on the picture below to reserve your copy.

Thank you to all those who read and received Advance Reviewer Copies (ARCs) for Easy Prey and made helpful suggestions to the overall book. We are giving away free copies by mobi/ePub format in the New Year to all those who would like to review the book on Amazon and Goodreads.

Thank you to all my readers and for your wonderful reviews. Keep them coming!

I hope you all have a very Merry Christmas and a happy New Year.

Famous Five Christmas sale