The Maidens by Alex Michaelides, published by Celadon Books, Orion Publishing Group. #mystery #thriller @AlexMichaelides, @CeladonBooks #blog #review

The Maidens: A Novel by [Alex Michaelides]

Having read The Silent Patient last year – a hard act to follow – I was thrilled to receive a copy of The Maidens. A pool of suspects you love to hate and a protagonist willing to put herself at risk in order to solve a murder. What’s not to like?

Book Description:

Edward Fosca is a murderer. Of this Mariana is certain. But Fosca is untouchable. A handsome and charismatic Greek tragedy professor at Cambridge University, Fosca is adored by staff and students alike—particularly by the members of a secret society of female students known as The Maidens.

Mariana Andros is a brilliant but troubled group therapist who becomes fixated on The Maidens when one member, a friend of Mariana’s niece Zoe, is found murdered in Cambridge.

Mariana, who was once herself a student at the university, quickly suspects that behind the idyllic beauty of the spires and turrets, and beneath the ancient traditions, lies something sinister. And she becomes convinced that, despite his alibi, Edward Fosca is guilty of the murder. But why would the professor target one of his students? And why does he keep returning to the rites of Persephone, the maiden, and her journey to the underworld?

When another body is found, Mariana’s obsession with proving Fosca’s guilt spirals out of control, threatening to destroy her credibility as well as her closest relationships. But Mariana is determined to stop this killer, even if it costs her everything—including her own life.

What people are saying:

“Stunning… The intelligent, cerebral plot finds contemporary parallels in Euripides’s tragedies, Jacobean dramas such as The Duchess of Malfi, and Tennyson’s poetry. The devastating ending shows just how little the troubled Mariana knows about the human psyche or herself. Michaelides is on a roll.”
—Publishers Weekly, starred review

“A deliciously dark, elegant, utterly compulsive readwith a twist that blew my mind. I loved this even more than I loved The Silent Patient and that’s saying something!”
Lucy Foley, New York Times bestselling author of The Guest List

From the #1 New York Times bestselling author of The Silent Patient comes a spellbinding tale of psychological suspense, weaving together Greek mythology, murder, and obsession, that further cements “Michaelides as a major player in the field” (Publishers Weekly)

I travelled back to Cambridge, to its boathouses and punts, and to an elitist academic world. The setting? St Christopher’s College Cambridge where Mariana met her late husband. Coffee shops, the porter’s lodge, Combination Rooms, streets filled with graduates and rooms set in an older part of the college drop you right there. Interiors, where paper is everywhere, scribbled writing and mathematical formulae — all of which will be familiar to former graduates of the university.

With Greek mythology and psychology at its core, including Tennyson quotes to add an extra layer, grieving widow and group therapist, Mariana, sets out to solve a mystery. A classmate of niece Zoe has been murdered. She is part of a secret society known as the Maidens and an acolyte of Edward Fosca. Still in love with Sebastian — now a ghost in much the same way Tennyson loved Hallam — Mariana is desperate to be left alone to follow her investigation. Although her method begins in earnest, she is challenged at every turn. Postcards (or calling cards) depicting the sacrifice of Iphigenia by Agamemnon, amongst others, and handwritten in Ancient Greek add to the evidences she must wade through before jumping to her final conclusion.

Fred’s persistent premonitions were creepy. I would have dismissed him in much the same way Mariana did. The scene of her visiting his room in Trinity felt a little rushed and I’d like to have seen this developed more. Still, you will be inclined to keep him on your list of suspects. I couldn’t get the visual of Morris with Serena in the churchyard out of my mind. As for Fosca and his fragile devotees, I found myself getting more and more exasperated by his smiling face, and the Maidens’ supposed naïveté. He almost reminded me of Diomedes in The Silent Patient with his faint air of theatrical impresario.

I was surprised CI Sangha didn’t press charges towards the end. A slap on the wrist and a warning might not have been believable, especially if poking around in an investigation (and following individuals) amounts to stalking. But it did lend more time to the narrative. A few characters with painful pasts kept the red herrings going. Hidden layers make up the fabric of this crime and I say “bravo” to the author for his research and ingenuity. For me, some sensory elements were missing and at times I felt like an outsider looking in. It might have been the writing style which at times informed rather than evoked and I wasn’t as immersed with some of the characters as I’d hoped.

The Maidens is a gripping, propulsive read with all the hallmarks of being another bestseller. Thank you to @Netgalley and @OrionBooks and author Alex Michaelides for the privilege of reading an advance copy of this book.

Other Books by this Author:

The Source by Sarah Sultoon, published by Orenda Books #review #Blog @SultoonSarah @OrendaBooks

The Source by [Sarah Sultoon]

I was so excited to take part in The Source blog tour, an unforgettable debut with sharp writing and a brilliant plot. Even more exciting that this first book is currently in development for television. Written in two points of view, it takes the reader to London in 2006 as seen through Marie’s eyes and to Warchester in 1996 in Carly’s world. With its cast of hard-hitting and uncompromising characters, I was curious to know who was behind this gruesome ring.

Book Description:

A young TV journalist is forced to revisit her harrowing past when she’s thrust into a sex-trafficking investigation in her hometown. A startling, searing debut thriller by award-winning CNN journalist Sarah Sultoon.

1996. Essex. Thirteen-year-old schoolgirl Carly lives in a disenfranchised town dominated by a military base, struggling to care for her baby sister while her mum sleeps off another binge. When her squaddie brother brings food and treats, and offers an exclusive invitation to army parties, things start to look a little less bleak…

2006. London. Junior TV newsroom journalist Marie has spent six months exposing a gang of sex traffickers, but everything is derailed when New Scotland Yard announces the re-opening of Operation Andromeda, the notorious investigation into allegations of sex abuse at an army base a decade earlier…

As the lives of these two characters intertwine around a single, defining event, a series of utterly chilling experiences is revealed, sparking a nail-biting race to find the truth … and justice.

A riveting, searing and devastatingly dark thriller, The Source is also a story about survival, about hopes and dreams, about power, abuse and resilience … an immense, tense and thought-provoking debut that you will never, ever forget.

Product details

  • ASIN : B08NXT7DL9
  • Publisher : Orenda Books (February 15, 2021)
  • Publication date : February 15, 2021

Marie is a junior TV journalist working with a crew to expose a gang of sex traffickers. Even though Dominic stashes a camera in his pants in case he gets frisked, the footage they capture on camera is only a coded exchange that doesn’t incriminate the perpetrators. Viewers need a victim. Someone they can root for. When the police commissioner reopens a billion pound investigation into the British Army, Marie knows new information on a cover-up could bring down half the government.

Carly is thirteen and struggling with a bleak home life. Her mother is unable to take care of her baby sister and the home is a wreck. Without her squaddie brother’s help they’d be destitute. The life they lead is distressing and you can’t help feeling a nudge of pity at every page. A three year-old left in dirty clothes, unchanged and covered in rashes, latterly to be taken to hospital for a high fever. Rach teaching Carly all she knows and introducing her to a dark world that forces her to grow up too fast. This is where I was desperate for Carly’s life to change and for someone to come to her aid. I wanted to slap her brother, a sergeant desperate to keep face rather than protect his sister. But he’s afraid, same as Carly.

I wasn’t sure if I liked Dominic until I realised his story mirrors Marie’s. The nugget of a bond forms around their separate lives, a friendship that embraces hidden truths. They understand what sacrifices it takes to keep secrets. Each personality is rugged, perhaps more the nature of TV journalists, and Marie’s inner monologue puts us right beside her, seeing what she sees and feeling her pain. I am truly impressed by how the threads of this book wrap so tightly around the reader, it’s impossible to let go. Even though some parts are hard to read, they are subtly described.

The writing is razor sharp and the plot is thought-provoking. I don’t think there was one thing I didn’t like about this book. The timeline is easy to read, never the distracting array of different dates and years of other books in this genre tend to depict. It flowed well. There will be that unforgetable residue long after putting the book down. Thank you to Orenda, Anne Cater and author Sarah Sultoon for the privilege of reading this book.

About the Author

Sarah Sultoon is a novelist and journalist, whose prior work as an international news executive at CNN has taken her all over the world, from the seats of power in both Westminster and Washington to the frontlines of Iraq and Afghanistan. She has extensive experience in conflict zones, winning three Peabody awards for her work on the war in Syria, an Emmy for her contribution to the coverage of Europe’s migrant crisis in 2015, and a number of Royal Television Society gongs. As passionate about fiction as nonfiction, she recently completed a Masters of Studies in Creative Writing at the University of Cambridge, adding to an undergraduate degree in languages, chosen mainly so she could spend time itinerantly travelling the world. She likes running, Indian food, cocktails, playing sport with her children and throwing a ball for her dog, order dependent on when the cocktails are consumed. The Source is her first novel and is currently in development for television with Lime Pictures.

You Love Me by Caroline Kepnes, published by Simon & Schuster UK (1 April 2021) @simonschusterE @CarolineKepnes @penguinrandom

You Love Me: the highly anticipated new thriller in the You series by [Caroline Kepnes]
ASIN : B08CF512X8
Publisher : Simon & Schuster UK (1 April 2021)

The anticipated third novel in the YOU series by Caroline Kepnes is finally here. It’s a whoop! moment for me to finally meet the deliciously addictive Joe Goldberg again.

The highly anticipated new thriller in Caroline Kepnes’s hit You series, now a blockbuster Netflix show . . . Joe Goldberg is back. And he’s going to start a family – even if it kills him.

Joe Goldberg is done with cities, done with the muck and the posers, done with Love. Now, he’s saying hello to nature, to simple pleasures on a cosy island in the Pacific Northwest. For the first time in a long time, he can just breathe.

He gets a job at the local library – he does know a thing or two about books – and that’s where he meets her: Mary Kay DiMarco. Librarian. Joe won’t meddle, he will not obsess. He’ll win her the old fashioned way . . . by providing a shoulder to cry on, a helping hand. Over time, they’ll both heal their wounds and begin their happily ever after in this sleepy town.

The trouble is . . . Mary Kay already has a life. She’s a mother. She’s a friend. She’s . . . busy.

True love can only triumph if both people are willing to make room for the real thing. Joe cleared his decks. He’s ready. And hopefully, with his encouragement and undying support, Mary Kay will do the right thing and make room for him.

Obsessive, narcissistic, unpredictable, however you see him, Joe Goldberg is all that and so much more. I don’t believe anything can top book one: YOU. It’s still vivid in my mind and so are the characters. Some of these are mentioned in book 3, flashback moments that slide into Joe’s screwed up mind — faces haunt him, voices taunt him — he can’t expect to escape his past.

The beginning of the book gives us a lot more head-play than the last two. I yearned for more action at the outset, but parking inside that complex mind wasn’t a bad thing. After a stretch in prison, we meet Joe again, but this time he’s living on an island in the pacific North West. There’s no Love Quinn, no baby, but true to form he has gravitated towards getting a job in a local library — something he’s ace at. He’s comfortable around books, knows them inside and out and can talk books all day. What he doesn’t anticipate in his bachelor state is falling for Mary-Kay DiMarco, a librarian. She may need to look his way a little more, but he promises not to obsess or privately investigate her. He promises to do it all the right way this time. But inserting yourself into the lives of all those who surround MK is just too good to miss. But can Joe be happy in Cedar Cove? We already know we’re in for a wild ride.

Stalking is what he’s wired to do. He can try to fight his inner psychopath, but that may take several more books. Just like old times, something in Joe’s psyche warns us that his dark side may erupt when things go disastrously wrong. And that’s what makes us read on. Mary-Kay is neither here nor there even in her own mind. If I was hoping her interest/disinterest wasn’t going to play on a loop, I was out of luck. Her friends (the circle) are holding her hostage and in some cases as certifiable as Joe. I was hoping they’d be a little more routine and believable. Shortus, heroin snorting Phil, best friend Melanda, gambling addict Ivan. I have a feeling Joe will be long gone after the end and we’ll be able to follow him to another state where he will start all over again.

If you watched this series on Netflix or read the books, you’ll love this third instalment. Kepnes keeps her story arcs spontaneous and keeps her readers guessing. We can’t anticipate how her characters evolve. There are too many twists and dark holes to fall down with a smattering of humour along the way. Joe is bound to be hit and miss as he yearns for love. Will he navigate life’s obstacles in the ‘normal’ way or will he manipulate, manoeuvre and outplay his opponents to get what he wants?

A powerfully addictive read that will keep readers up at night. Thank you Simon & Schuster UK, Netgalley and author Caroline Kepnes for the privilege of reading this ARC.

#YouLoveMe #NetGalley

About the Author:

Caroline Kepnes

Caroline Kepnes is from Cape Cod, Massachusetts. Her first novel YOU was translated into 19 languages and shortlisted for a CWA New Blood Award. Her second novel HIDDEN BODIES is a sequel that Booklist describes as ‘the love child of Holden Caulfield and Patrick Bateman’. Caroline earned a BA in American Civilization at Brown University and worked as a pop culture journalist on Entertainment Weekly and a TV writer on 7th Heaven. She now writes full-time and lives in Los Angeles. A 10 episode TV series based on YOU will premiere on Lifetime Network in 2018.

Other Books by Caroline Kepnes

Every Vow You Break by Peter Swanson, Published by William Morrow and Custom House (23 Mar 2021) General Fiction (Adult) Mystery & Thrillers @WmMorrowBooks @PeterSwanson3

Every Vow You Break: A Novel by [Peter Swanson]

A bride’s dream honeymoon becomes a nightmare when a man with whom she’s had a regrettable one-night stand shows up in this electrifying psychological thriller from the acclaimed author of Eight Perfect Murders.

Abigail Baskin never thought she’d fall in love with a millionaire. Then she met Bruce Lamb. He’s a good guy, stable, level-headed, kind—a refreshing twist from her previous relationships.

But right before the wedding, Abigail has a drunken one-night stand on her bachelorette weekend. She puts the incident—and the sexy guy who wouldn’t give her his real name—out of her mind, and now believes she wants to be with Bruce for the rest of her life.

Then the mysterious stranger suddenly appears—and Abigail’s future life and happiness are turned upside down. He insists that their passionate night was the beginning of something much, much more. Something special. Something real—and he’s tracked her down to prove it.

Does she tell Bruce and ruin their idyllic honeymoon—and possibly their marriage? Or should she handle this psychopathic stalker on her own? To make the situation worse, strange things begin to happen. She sees a terrified woman in the night shadows, and no one at the resort seems to believe anything is amiss… including her perfect new husband.

What people are saying:

“Probably what you need right now is a good murder mystery. One that is bookish, engrossing, not overly gory and impossible to solve. Peter Swanson delivers all of this in Eight Perfect Murders… Swanson drops in lovely clues, but good luck figuring it out. — Minneapolis Star Tribune on Eight Perfect Murders

“Fiendishly clever catnip for any lover of classic crime fiction.” — Seattle Times on Eight Perfect Murders

“Engagingly original. . . . This [is a] multilayered mystery that brims with duplicity, betrayal and revenge—all bubbling slowly to the surface. . . . Swanson has a bent for revenge and murder. Fans won’t be disappointed.” — USA Today on Eight Perfect Murders

“The wintry setting and eerily cool narration, together with trust-no-one twists and garish murders, will satisfy thriller readers; fans of classic mysteries by Agatha Christie, Ira Levin, and John D. MacDonald will enjoy… You’ll stay to the finish of this one.” — Library Journal

“With mounting tension and fraying nerves, it careens to the final stunning conclusion. A true tour de force.” — Lisa Gardner on Eight Perfect Murders

I love Peter Swanson’s books and Every Vow You Break is another brilliant read. His writing style is easy, fast-paced and with enough description to drop you right into the action.

Abigail Baskin, who works for a small press, is enjoying her bachelorette weekend. Engaged to generous, solicitous Bruce Lamb, she seems to have found her Prince Charming. Though he maybe a little dour, he’s loaded and nothing is too much for Abigail. But when she meets a handsome stranger and decides on a one-night stand days before her wedding, her life begins to unravel. Desperately trying to push the ill-fated night out of her mind, she continues with her wedding plans. But the stranger appears at a café and at the wedding ceremony. To make matters worse, he is also staying at the same island retreat as Abigail and Bruce. Evil keeps knocking at her door.

The island itself is every man’s dream. Waiters ready (rather too ready) to take her order no matter where she is and at first Abigail is outnumbered by men. A woman, Jill, shows up and begins to get a little too friendly, whispering the same frightening scenarios as Abigail’s. Something isn’t right and she’s definitely someone I would hold at arm’s length. Who wants to share a secret like that? Is this all part of a conspiracy? Or is Jill as much of a victim as Abigail? As the tension rises, Abigail is swept on a tide of deception and secrets she has no hope of escaping. It’s a question of coming clean with her husband or getting rid of the threat on her own.

This is a book I couldn’t put down. A very frightening book with a backdrop of evil you hope never to encounter. The signs were there, each ramping up to the grand finale. The helplessness Abigail and Jill face, the sheer terror of what happens next. I could only scream run! I felt sickened by the scene, almost to the point of closing the book. I was hoping that it wouldn’t turn into a ghastly assault, a fight to the death. A bow and arrow act from the Hunger Games springs to mind and men and dogs in hot pursuit.

I love this book. Not so much for its uniqueness, but because the ride was cleverly written and everybody seemed to have something to hide. As the plot unravels and more strange things begin to occur, you can’t help feeling you’ve been deceived somewhere along the line, and not necessarily by the person you thought.

A suspenseful murder mystery for lovers of classic crime fiction and fans of Patricia Highsmith. Thank you to Netgalley, the publisher William Morrow and the author Peter Swanson for the privilege of reading this book.

Image

About the Author:

Peter Swanson

Peter Swanson is the author of five novels, including The Kind Worth Killing, winner of the New England Society Book Award, and finalist for the CWA Ian Fleming Steel Dagger, and Her Every Fear, an NPR book of the year. His books have been translated into 30 languages, and his stories, poetry, and features have appeared in Asimov’s Science Fiction, The Atlantic Monthly, Measure, The Guardian, The Strand Magazine, and Yankee Magazine.

A graduate of Trinity College, the University of Massachusetts at Amherst, and Emerson College, he lives in Somerville, Massachusetts with his wife and cat.

Other Books by Peter Swanson:

Before She Disappeared by Lisa Gardner, published by Dutton (January 19, 2021) @DuttonBooks @LisaGardnerBks #blog #review #policeprocedural #crimethriller

Before She Disappeared: A Novel by [Lisa Gardner]

WOOHOO! A great storyline, a complete knockout! More, More, More of Frankie Elkin please! In my opinion, this is another winner.

THE INSTANT NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLER

From #1 New York Times bestselling author Lisa Gardner, a propulsive thriller featuring an ordinary woman who will stop at nothing to find the missing people that the rest of the world has forgotten

Frankie Elkin is an average middle-aged woman, a recovering alcoholic with more regrets than belongings. But she spends her life doing what no one else will–searching for missing people the world has stopped looking for. When the police have given up, when the public no longer remembers, when the media has never paid attention, Frankie starts looking.

A new case brings her to Mattapan, a Boston neighborhood with a rough reputation. She is searching for Angelique Badeau, a Haitian teenager who vanished from her high school months earlier. Resistance from the Boston PD and the victim’s wary family tells Frankie she’s on her own–and she soon learns she’s asking questions someone doesn’t want answered. But Frankie will stop at nothing to discover the truth, even if it means the next person to go missing could be her.

“In this rare standalone, the prolific Gardner has come up with one of the most original characters in recent crime fiction, a woman readers can care about even while not being entirely sure of what to make of her.”–Washington Post

“This book, the best-selling author’s first stand-alone novel in 20-years, is a sharply-written, tension-filled yarn full of twists readers are unlikely to see coming. The most compelling element, however, is the character of Frankie, a recovering alcoholic whose obsession with the missing is a penance of sorts for the burden of guilt and grief she carries over a past trauma that took the life of a man she loves.”–Associated Press

Named one of 2021’s Most Anticipated Books by “Good Morning America,” PopSugar,BookpageCrimeReads, and Mystery Tribune

“A masterpiece of post-modern noir….A riveting stunner of a tale where the rare appearance of the sun shines down on what is certain to be one of the best thrillers of 2021.”Providence Journal

“[An] outstanding crime novel…. Gardner pulls no punches in this socially conscious standalone.”–Publishers Weekly (starred review)

I was really excited to read a copy of Before She Disappeared by Lisa Gardner. The smooth writing style and deep characterization of the passionate and driven Frankie Elkin made it an entertaining read from the start. Gardner is a prolific writer whose books are well-known for their complex twists and I couldn’t wait to get stuck in. Hands up those who have always wanted to help out with a missing person’s case? Me! I knew this was going to be just up my alley.

An ex-alcoholic, itching to have just one more drink, inserts herself into a cold crime case of a missing Haitian teenager. Angelique Badeau disappeared in the suburbs of Boston and has not been seen since. Living above a pub — a test to her self-control — Frankie finds a job as a waitress and settles into darkest Mattapan (Murderpan) a far cry from what she’s used to. She hardly welcome with the locals or the investigators of the local police department. But the job has to be done. Frankie is certain that what the police have failed to find, she will unearth by whatever means. This is what makes me want to root for her, but with all the challenges along the way, intuition assures me she’s the right woman for the job.

Taking on cases of missing persons is nothing new for Frankie. Out of fourteen investigations, she has managed to find everyone, even though all of them have so far been dead. With that type of success rate, the Badeau family open up to her humble personality and Frankie is able to make a profile of the missing teenager who, a keen scholar, has never gone missing before.

There have been sightings of Angelique, but nothing concrete and the more Frankie digs, the more dangerous her investigations become of two missing friends, one Summer Camp and a market for fake IDs. Stirring up a hornets nest bring new encounters, but Frankie braves each trial head-on.

This is the type of book you can really get your teeth into. A well thought-out plot with all the trappings of a compelling mystery. Although it’s a standalone, I’d love to see it as a series. You can’t help liking the middle-aged Frankie Elkin; an intuitive sleuth with a multi-layered personality and sense of humor to savor. She insists on seeking the truth and I was fully invested in her all the way.

Gardner writes believable female leads, an exceptional amateur sleuth who is pulled in unexpected directions. She is definitely one of the masters of her genre. Thank you to Netgalley, the publisher and the author for the privilege of reading this book.

About the Author

An image posted by the author.

New York Times #1 bestselling crime novelist Lisa Gardner began her career in food service, but after catching her hair on fire numerous times, she took the hint and focused on writing instead. A self-described research junkie, she has parlayed her interest in police procedure, criminal minds and twisted plots into a streak of bestselling suspense novels. Her 2010 novel, THE NEIGHBOR, won Best Thriller from the International Thriller Writers. Most recently, she was honored with the Silver Bullet Award for her work with at-risk kids and homeless animals. Lisa loves to hike, travel the world, and yes, read, read, read!

Readers are invited to enter the annual “Kill a Friend, Maim a Buddy” Sweepstakes, where they can nominate the person of their choice to die in Lisa’s latest novel. People have nominated themselves, spouses, bosses. It’s cheaper than therapy and twice as much fun! For more details, visit Lisa’s website.

Lisa’s latest novel BEFORE SHE DISAPPEARED, is available January 19, 2021. Meet Frankie Elkin, an everyday average woman who specializes in finding missing people. When the locals have given up, when the media has never bothered to care, Frankie takes on the challenge. Her latest mission has brought her to Mattapan, Boston to find a missing Haitian teen. Eleven months later, Angelique Badeau’s disappearance remains a mystery. What happened to the quiet, studious teen? Frankie learns quickly the dangers of asking too many questions, but that won’t stop her from discovering the truth behind what happened BEFORE SHE DISAPPEARED.

More Books By Lisa Gardner

Shadow Sands: A Kate Marshall Thriller – Book 2 by Robert Bryndza, published by Thomas & Mercer. @RobertBryndza @AmazonPub @kirsteenastor @NetGalley #thriller #review #bestsellers

Another knife-edge thriller that unfolds with cut-throat ferocity! This is the second book in the Kate Marshall series, an ultra-satisfying, seat-of-your-pants action mystery with a corkscrewing plot.

An Amazon Charts bestselling series.

THE UNMISSABLE NEW THRILLER FROM THE INTERNATIONALLY BESTSELLING AUTHOR OF THE GIRL IN THE ICE AND NINE ELMS ROBERT BRYNDZA

The moors are a perfect hiding place for a serial killer. And a chilling return to the past for nascent private investigator Kate Marshall in a pulse-racing thriller by the author of Nine Elms.

Criminology academic Kate Marshall is on a scuba jaunt with her son when they dive toward a shocking discovery: the body of a teenage boy entangled below the surface of the Shadow Sands reservoir. The detective chief inspector’s too-quick narrative of a tragic drowning doesn’t add up, and when Kate follows the evidence, it leads to a darker discovery.

The victim is only the latest in a series of mysterious deaths and disappearances linked to the moorlands—and a mythic phantom said to hide in the rolling fog. When a researcher of urban legends vanishes without a trace, Kate and her associate Tristan Harper must act fast and look deep if they hope to find her alive.

But the elusive serial killer they’re hunting isn’t the only one a step ahead of Kate and Tristan. Someone else is making dead certain that the secrets of Shadow Sands stay buried.

Review
The book opens with a UK regional swimming champion being attacked by an unknown assailant at Shadow Sands reservoir. Two days later, forty-two-year-old Kate Marshall and her teenage son, Jake, are swimming in the same waters, taking pictures of a sunken village — only to stumble on a gruesome find, something that Kate is rather good at.

SHADOW SANDSKate becomes embroiled in the case at the request of the victims mother. With the help of Tristen Harper and the mortician, it becomes clear the Kendal boys death was no accident. Geraint Jones’ melancholic statement and Alan Herman’s refusal to comment on time of death make this an eerie case—that and the police’s rapid decision to rule accidental death.

There’s clearly something much bigger going on with witnesses about to give statements and then winding up dead. The ending, as with all Bryndza’s books threw me for a loop. I’m loving the PI stance to Kate’s career and I’m hoping to see her getting up to all kinds of ticks without the oppressive rules of a police department to hinder her. Another ACE read.

This is one of those books that gives you goose pimples, a few sniffles and sniggers. Loved the cappuccino/Al Pacino comment. Oh, and Dylan and Thomas. It explores the darkest criminal minds and puts killers where you least expect to find them.

Bryndza’s writing is always clear, well researched. His understanding of forensics and police procedural always makes me feel I’m in reliable hands. His descriptions of the area: Kate’s two-storey house in Thurlow Bay and the edgy, dark imagery of the crime scene is sure to stay with you for a very long time.

This series is maddeningly addictive and soaks up every dark pleasure and every nail-biting terror and provides a protagonist you definitely want to root for.

Thank you to the author Robert Bryndza, Netgalley, the publisher Thomas & Mercer and Netgalley for an advanced copy of this book.

What people are saying:

‘Robert Bryndza knows how to keep the pages – and your stomach – turning’ – The Times

 ‘It is impossible not to root for the feisty, flawed Kate’ – Daily Mail

 ‘So chilling, with truly terrifying characters and a hard-hitting storyline that is gripping from start to finish’ – Rachel Abbott

About the Author

Robert Bryndza began his career training at the Guildford School of Acting in the U.K. He spent six years as an actor, doing all kinds of strange jobs in between, which was the perfect training for being an author. He began to write during a long period of unemployment, first comedy sketches, a show which he took to the Edinburgh Festival, and then four romantic comedy novels which he self-published, and they became Amazon charts bestsellers selling over 250,000 copies.

His debut crime thriller The Girl in the Ice was the first book in his Detective Erika Foster series. It has sold over 1 million copies in the English language, and won the Dead Good Reader Award for best kick-ass female character at the 2016 U.K Harrogate Crime Festival. Erika Foster has gone on to kick-ass in five further books; The Night Stalker, Dark Water, Last Breath, Cold Blood and Deadly Secrets. The series was twice nominated in Goodreads Choice Awards (Mystery and Thriller category) in 2016 for The Girl in the Ice, and in 2017 for Last Breath. Robert’s books have sold over 3 million copies in the English language, and have been translated into 29 languages.

Nine Elms, the first book in his new Kate Marshall private detective series was published late in 2019 and was an instant Amazon USA no.1 bestseller, an Amazon UK top 10 bestseller and topped bestselling charts around the world. The second book in the series, Shadow Sands, will be published in November 2020. Robert is British and lives in Slovakia.

You can find out more about Robert at http://www.robertbryndza.com and on Twitter and Instagram @RobertBryndza

Sign up to Robert’s new book release mailing List here: http://eepurl.com/UITxz

(Simply cut-and-paste that address into your browser. Your email will never be shared and you will only be contacted when a new book is out.)

Other books by Robert Bryndza

Robert Bryndza Book page

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.

Image

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 Night Swim by Megan Goldin, Published by St. Martin’s Press @StMartinsPress @MacmillanUSA @megangoldin

The Night Swim: A Novel by [Megan Goldin]

In The Night Swim, a new thriller from Megan Goldin, author of the “gripping and unforgettable” (Harlen Coben) The Escape Room, a true crime podcast host covering a controversial trial finds herself drawn deep into a small town’s dark past and a brutal crime that took place there years before.

Ever since her true-crime podcast became an overnight sensation and set an innocent man free, Rachel Krall has become a household name—and the last hope for people seeking justice. But she’s used to being recognized for her voice, not her face. Which makes it all the more unsettling when she finds a note on her car windshield, addressed to her, begging for help.

The new season of Rachel’s podcast has brought her to a small town being torn apart by a devastating rape trial. A local golden boy, a swimmer destined for Olympic greatness, has been accused of raping the beloved granddaughter of the police chief. Under pressure to make Season 3 a success, Rachel throws herself into her investigation—but the mysterious letters keep coming. Someone is following her, and she won’t stop until Rachel finds out what happened to her sister twenty-five years ago. Officially, Jenny Stills tragically drowned, but the letters insist she was murdered—and when Rachel starts asking questions, nobody in town wants to answer. The past and present start to collide as Rachel uncovers startling connections between the two cases—and a revelation that will change the course of the trial and the lives of everyone involved.

Electrifying and propulsive, The Night Swim asks: What is the price of a reputation? Can a small town ever right the wrongs of its past? And what really happened to Jenny?

The Night Swim by Megan Goldin is a first class read. Rachel Krall runs a true crime podcast, now in its third season. As an impartial observer, she takes viewers into the courtroom in real-time. Set in North Carolina’s coastal town of Neapolis, she follows the case of Scott Blair — an outstanding swimming star set for the Olympic team who allegedly raped a sixteen-year-old-girl. The victim has been prevented by the court to talk about the case and the bullying she suffers on social media will set your teeth on edge.

The narrative, which balances the past and present, is interwoven with letters from a woman recounting the events leading up to the death of her sister, Jenny, twenty-five years earlier. Letters left in prominent and personal places for only Rachel to find. Not only are they designed to provoke Rachel’s journalistic nature, but they bring to light moral issues disturbingly absent in such a heinous case. The more Rachel investigates, the more startling the parallels become. Especially because Jenny’s incident — said to be a tragic drowning — is slowly beginning to look more like murder. Some townsfolk insist Jenny was a down and out liar, although Hannah’s letters challenge that theory, making the reader root all the more for Jenny and for Rachel to dig deeper. As small town politics take control, you can’t help questioning who or what to believe.

The reliving of testimony on the witness stand is the part I found the most traumatic. As the defence continues to paint the victim known only as ‘K’ to be a liar and delves too deeply into every tiny detail, you know her life will never be the same. Whether or not the jury will be persuaded to believe her word against his remains to be seen. But you also know she is lamenting the day she ever met Scott. I know I would.

Having read The Escape Room, I knew Night Swim would be a smooth, twisty ride. Goldin writes poignantly and skilfully on the victimization of women in a rape trial. Warning to other abuse/rape survivors, the explicit content will leave you pretty raw. Goldin doesn’t sugar-coat any of the details of both these cases and for many this will not be a comfortable read. Sexual abuse and assaults that were once considered harmless are brought to the fore. None detract from the pacey and clever plot, and all controversial issues are delivered sensitively.

It’s an outstanding read, masterfully plotted with a unique premise. Will Rachel’s podcasts become a series? Who knows? I would definitely enjoy reading another of her cases.

Many thanks to author Megan Goldin, St. Martin’s Press/Macmillan and Netgalley for the privilege of reading this advance copy.

What everyone is saying:

  • Print Length: 348 pages
  • Page Numbers Source ISBN: 1250272777
  • Publisher: St. Martin’s Press (August 4, 2020)
  • Publication Date: August 4, 2020
  • Sold by: Macmillan
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B0818N4HC8

About the Author:

Megan Goldin

Megan Goldin is the author of The Escape Room, a 2019 thriller that Lee Child called “one of my favorite books of the year” and Harlan Coben called “thrilling and unforgettable”. Megan’s new novel The Night Swim will be released in August 2020. Before becoming a novelist, Megan worked as a reporter covering the Middle East and Asia for the Reuters news agency, the Associate Press and the ABC as well as other news outlets.

Other books by Megan Goldin

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

The Wicked Sister by Karen Dionne, published by Little, Brown Book Group UK, G.P. Putnam’s Sons #TheWickedSister #NetGalley @sphere

Having read the Marsh King’s Daughter, I knew I was in for a treat. The Wicked Sister —rich in descriptions, paired with deep research into psychology, made this a must read for me. Evocative settings and complex characters are Dionne’s hallmark, that and powerful drama, twists and tension galore.

Description

Review

Set in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula wilderness and told in dual narratives, The Wicked Sister flips from past to present in this compulsive tale of manipulation and deception. Rachael Cunningham is locked up in the Newberry Regional Mental Health Centre, believing she has committed an unspeakable crime. Subjected to horrific torment and having only a spider for company since the age of eleven, she has surely paid her dues. But when a discrepancy in the police report is discovered, no matter how Rachael looks at it, the crime could not have been committed by her. Discharging herself from the facility, she is free to investigate on her own terms.

Jenny, a wildlife biologist, must escape the neighbourhood after a tragic accident. Leaving behind a trail of devastation, the family travels to the wilderness to research bears. But Jenny’s young daughter Diana is precocious, manipulative and decidedly psychotic. I found it frustrating to watch a parent cave to such outrageous demands, but as disturbing as these scenes are, Dionne writes them so well. I found myself as uneasy and as traumatised as Jenny, with little or no solution to offer. A child with callous-unemotional traits is not everyone’s cup of tea. She certainly isn’t mine. The pillow incident made me want to throw something at someone and there were other cruelties that sadly fit the criteria. As these devastated parents endeavour to keep Diana’s condition a secret, I wonder how long it will take for another life-threatening accident to happen.

The massive hunting lodge made of Oregon pine is sadly the scene of a murder. Two ravens, nesting outside Rachel’s old bedroom may have answers to what really happened. As Trevor leaves Rachel alone in the house there is a spark of something in the air. I was excited by this chapter because of Rachel’s ingenuity and I wanted to know how she could possibly pull off keeping herself hidden from her sisters for the reasons she chose.

There are so many things to like about this book; the rapid pace and robust setting, and an exceptionally powerful conclusion. It’s not often you find a book with so many psychological layers, drip-fed a morsel at a time—an unnerving psychological thriller with enough suspense and action to hold you spellbound to the very end. Absolutely sensational!

Many thanks to the publisher, Little, Brown Book Group, UK, Netgalley and to the author, Karen Dionne for the privilege of receiving an advance reader copy of this book.

About the author:

Karen DionneKaren Dionne is the #1 internationally bestselling author of the award-winning psychological suspense novel The Marsh King’s Daughter. She is the co-founder of the online writers’ community Backspace, and a member of the International Thriller Writers, where she served on the board of directors. She enjoys nature photography and lives with her husband in Detroit’s northern suburbs.

 

What people are saying:

Review

“A gut-clenching wilderness thriller.”–Minneapolis Star Tribune

“Dionne paints a haunting portrait of a family hurtling toward the tragic destiny they can foresee but are powerless to stop.”–Publishers Weekly (starred review) The Wicked Sister is massively thrilling and altogether unputdownable. Dionne is proving to be one of the finest suspense writers working today.”–Karin Slaughter, author of 20 International Bestselling Books

“A terrifying thrill-ride of psychological suspense. Karen Dionne is wickedly good at deception, deceit and misdirection and The Wicked Sister is seductively compelling. You will not stop reading.”
Robert Dugoni, New York Times Best-Selling Author of My Sister’s Grave

“In Karen Dionne’s wilderness, humans are the most dangerous animals of all. The Wicked Sister is enthralling and terrifying, and I couldn’t put it down.  A terrific novel.”–Joseph Finder, New York Times bestselling author of House on Fire

“A chilling portrait of a psychopath that will shock and fascinate you. Dionne is a master storyteller who has crafted a terrifying thriller that will haunt you long after the last page is read.” –Liv Constantine,  bestselling author of The Last Mrs. Parrish

“Chilling and captivating, The Wicked Sister explores the complex layers of family bonds, guilt, and redemption. A beautifully written, haunting psychological thriller.”—Megan Miranda, author of All the Missing Girls

“Karen Dionne is back with a dark, atmospheric and chilling tale set in the deep woods of Michigan’s Upper Peninsula. Beautifully written, The Wicked Sister moves seamlessly between past and present, unraveling the truth behind a family tragedy. From her insightful depiction of both the grace and bitter cruelty of humanity, to her command of the plot and pacing, Dionne’s brilliance shines through on every single page. Prepare to be blown away!”–Wendy Walker, bestselling author of The Night Before

“Fresh, truly original, and utterly unpredictable, Karen Dionne is at the top of her game with the gorgeously told The Wicked Sister. I devoured this book in one sitting! It’s hard to balance complex and heartrending familial relationships with pulse-pounding suspense, but somehow this book does exactly that. Propulsive and terrifying to the very shocking end!”–Kate Moretti, New York Times bestselling author of The Vanishing Year

 

Other books by Karen Dionne

Karen Dionne