Friday, 3 April 2020

The Grove of the Caesars by Lindsey Davis

In the video below, Lindsey Davis talks about her career and her new book The Grove of the Caesars which is out now.


Lindsey Davis talks about The Grove of the Caesars from Lindsey Davis on Vimeo.

The Grove of the Caesars by Lindsey Davis (Hodder & Stoughton) Out Now.
Don't go to the Grove . . .

Julius Caesar left his gardens to the citizens of Rome, a peaceful sanctuary across the Tiber. Now the gardens and their sacred grove are dangerous haunts, especially for women alone.  'Don't go to the Grove,' people mutter, but when her husband has to   leave Rome, it falls to Albia to supervise his building project in an old grotto. Why has someone buried tattered scrolls by obscure philosophers - and does it involve a worse crime than terrible writing?

Soon that puzzle is overtaken. A woman disappears from her husband's birthday party; she meets a dire fate, then Albia learns that on the same night, two louche slaves given to her family by the brooding Emperor Domitian also vanished in the gardens. Apparently, it is well known that a killer lurks there.  The vigiles have failed to investigate properly for decades and this won't improve when the sinister agent Karus arrives. Albia must co-operate, in order to give the many victims justice and find answers for grieving relatives. But can she herself remain safe? And, after others have failed, can she at last identify the predator who has made the Grove his killing ground?


Tuesday, 31 March 2020

Facebook Live! Lynda La Plante discusses Buried

EXCLUSIVE OPPORTUNITY TO JOIN AWARD-WINNING AUTHOR LYNDA LA PLANTE FOR A FACEBOOK LIVE TO DISCUSS HER BRAND NEW NOVEL BURIED
Lynda La Plante has decided to reach out to her readers and invite them to a Facebook Live with her at 6 pm on Thursday 2nd April to share a G&T and chat all things Buried.
 Lynda will be reading from the novel and answering questions (submitted in advance) through her Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/LyndaLaPlanteCBE/

If you would like to submit a question for Lynda please email lynda.laplante@myreadersclub.co.uk ahead of the Live.

If you would like to join in with us this Thursday- please share the image at the top of this email on your social media pages.

If you haven't read Buried yet, but would like to read and review, please click on the link to read on Netgalley: https://www.netgalley.co.uk/widget/228193/redeem/5f258430efbedaba1633f491140681ab9421d3f0f3d129adab781f428e54d77c

We look forward to seeing you all there and sharing a drink and a chat with the fabulous Lynda La Plante.

Sunday, 29 March 2020

Ren Richards on The Broken Ones

People go missing every day. Many of us follow the news and talk about the cases with our peers. But when it’s a child, there’s a sort of global unity about it. If you look at all the famous cases where children went missing—some found alive, others found dead, and others never found at all—there’s this shared outrage. We all want to believe that children are exempt from the world’s cruelty. Children haven’t done anything wrong. Children should be protected. Only a monster would harm a child.

Nell, my protagonist, feels this way too. She’s a teenage foster kid herself when she gives birth to her daughter. With all the uncertainties of motherhood, the only expectation she has is that she’ll love her daughter. Love is an instinct. Nell loves her own parents, even though they abandoned her. She loves her sister, while admitting that her sister isn’t exactly a moral person. So loving her new baby should be easy. 

Only, it isn’t.

Nell is nearly killed by the traumatic and complicated birth. In the weeks to follow, she’s sleepless and ill because her daughter won’t nurse and won’t stop screaming. It only gets harder from there. Her dreams and mental state deteriorate. She begins to suspect that her infant daughter hates her.

Nell’s daughter grows into an intelligent toddler with a sweet face. But she has a mean streak that Nell herself doesn’t have words to describe. She often thinks of leaving her daughter to be raised by the child’s wealthy grandparents, but something tethers her. She wants to believe that her precarious relationship with her daughter is all in her imagination. Nobody believes her when she tries to say otherwise.

More than a decade later, Nell is a successful adult. She’s a true crime writer with a rare compassion for the cases she profiles. It’s a talent that has left her with enough wealth to mask her traumatic upbringing. She lives in a penthouse with an adoring boyfriend. She doesn’t talk about her daughter.

But as Nell begins to interview an especially challenging new topic for her next book, her past comes back to haunt her. Nell’s name isn’t really Nell. And a decade earlier, living in a different part of the US, she was the most infamous woman in America. Her toddler daughter had gone missing, and she was suspect number one. But the prosecution’s case wasn’t strong enough and she was acquitted of all charges, free to change her name and start over someplace else.

Nell was able to disappear, even as commenters on Internet message boards called for her head. 

And now, someone out there knows who Nell really is. Someone knows what she’s accused of. They’re leaving grim clues for her to find. But is Nell actually guilty? What really happened the day her daughter went missing? Does Nell even know what happened herself? As a character, Nell isn’t a symbol for the mothers of missing children. In a lot of ways, she’s a symbol for us out here in the audience. She looks back at her own life and choices with a critical, if detached, eye for the truth.

My idea for THE BROKEN ONES began with all the stories I hear about on the news. But this isn’t a story about a little girl who goes missing. It isn’t about innocence being broken by something evil.

This is the story behind the scenes of what you see on the news. So many cases go unsolved. We won’t get a time machine to take us back to the moment a child disappeared, so that we can see what happened and who’s to blame. What we believe happened, however strongly, is still just conjecture. We won’t even get a confession when criminals are found guilty in many cases. But THE BROKEN ONES is that time machine. It shows you everything. It tells you everyone’s story.

The Broken Ones by Ren Richards Published by Viper Books
She didn't know if she loved her baby... but did she kill her? A bestselling true crime writer, Nell tells other people's stories. But there is one story she won't tell. Ten years ago, she was a teenage mother with a four-year-old she found desperately hard to love. Then the little girl disappeared. As Nell begins to interview the subject of her next book, a woman convicted of murdering her twin sister, it becomes clear that someone has uncovered her true identity. And they know that Nell didn't tell the truth about the day her daughter vanished...

Saturday, 28 March 2020

Books from Headline Publishing incl Wildfire and Tinder Press

July 2020
They went out to the woods to have fun. And two of them didn't return.   I Shot the Devil is by Ruth McIver and is a dark, twisty thriller of small town buried secrets.  Twenty years ago, the devil visited the woods around Southport, Long Island, claiming the lives of two boys. A local youth was charged with murder. Case closed.   Now journalist Erin Sloane has been commissioned to dig deeper into the story and is sent notes from someone long forgotten. But can she trust what she unearths? And how can she unravel what happened when she has her own secrets to hide?

All My Lies Are True is by Dorothy Koomson.  Verity is telling lies...  And that's why she's about to be arrested for attempted murder.  Serena has been lying for years. . .  And that may have driven her daughter, Verity, to do something unthinkable...  Poppy's lies have come back to haunt her . . .  So will her quest for the truth hurt everyone she loves?  Everyone lies.  But whose lies are going to end in tragedy?


Operative 66 is by Andy McDermott.  Every operative knows the rules. The mission comes first. You are a deniable asset. Betrayal is punished by death.   Alex Reeve is Operative 66. A former special ops soldier and one of the UK’s deadliest weapons, he is part of the secretive SC 9 - an elite security service with a remit to neutralize the country’s most dangerous enemies.   But now Reeve is in the firing line. Accused of treason, Reeve is forced to flee as his team is instructed to eliminate the ‘rogue asset’ at any cost. Reeve must survive, alone and under the radar, with the full power of the state arrayed against him. He doesn’t know why he’s a target. Or who betrayed him. But if one man has the skills necessary to uncover the truth...it is Operative 66. 

Two years ago, Miff Ferguson chose to opt out of the rat race. Since then he's been living rough and happily so. That is until now. For, as the first signs of winter approach, everything changes. While looking for shelter, Miff stumbles across the dead body of a young woman inside a dilapidated warehouse. Quickly realising he's not alone, and what's worse he's been spotted, Miff becomes embroiled in a game of cat-and-mouse with a killer that forces him to abandon his life on the streets and take refuge with his aunt and uncle in the village of Weston St Ambrose. But, despite his best efforts to lie low, trouble seems to follow him and when another dead body is discovered at a local farm, it's clear Miff is not free from danger.  With the clock ticking, Inspector Jess Campbell and Superintendent Ian Carter must join forces once again with the team of police at Bamford to piece together the puzzle before another innocent life is lost...  A Matter of Murder is by Ann Granger

Senseless is by Ed James.  Day one - Six weeks after vanishing, Sarah Langton is suddenly found - delirious and starved close to death.  The police struggle to find any answers.  Day two - When another missing person reappears, half-crazed and hysterical, a terrifying pattern emerges: a twisted predator is pushing his victims to insanity.  DS Corcoran, haunted by a previous case, and Dr Marie Palmer, a leading criminal psychiatrist, must try to establish a link between the survivors.   Day three - As it becomes clear others are in grave danger, every second will be critical. But can Corcoran and Palmer unravel the deadliest of puzzles in time?

The Lies You Told is by Harriet Tyce.  Has she left her child in the care of a killer? Sadie has moved back to London so her daughter can attend the exclusive school her domineering father has secured her a place at. It’s highly sought-after and highly competitive - just like the other mothers, Sadie soon discovers.   While she’s trying to get her daughter settled and navigate the fraught politics of the school gate, Sadie is also trying to reclaim a position in her old legal chambers - she used to practice as a criminal barrister. She’s given the junior brief on a scandalous case involving a male teacher and his student. It’s an opportunity to prove herself, but will she let a dangerous flirtation cloud her professional judgement? And will her sudden close friendship with another mother prevent her from seeing the truth - and the threat that she’s Wildfire inviting into her home? 

August 2020
Beauregard "Bug" Montage: honest mechanic, loving husband, devoted parent. He's no longer the criminal he once was - the sharpest wheelman on the east coast, infamous from the hills of North Carolina to the beaches of Florida.  But when his respectable life begins to crumble, a shady associate comes calling with a clean, one-time job: a diamond heist promising a get-rich pay out. Inexorably drawn to the driver's seat - and haunted by the ghost of his outlaw father - Bug is yanked back into a savage world of bullets and betrayal, which soon endangers all he holds dear... Blacktop Wasteland is by S A Crosby.

Blackout is by Simon SCarrow.  Berlin, December 1939   As Germany goes to war, the Nazis tighten their terrifying grip. Paranoia in the capital is intensified by a rigidly enforced
blackout that plunges the city into oppressive darkness every night, as the bleak winter sunsets.  When a young woman is found brutally murdered, Criminal Inspector Horst Schenke is under immense pressure to solve the case, swiftly. Treated with suspicion by his superiors for his failure to joining the Nazi Party, Schenke walks a perilous line - for disloyalty is a death sentence.  The discovery of a second victim confirms Schenke's worst fears. He must uncover the truth before evil strikes again.  As the investigation takes him closer to the sinister heart of the regime, Schenke realises there is danger everywhere - and the warring factions of the Reich can be as deadly as a killer stalking the streets . . .

Innocent is by Erin Kinsley.  The pretty market town of Sterndale is a close-knit community where everyone thinks they know everyone else. But at a lavish summer wedding a local celebrity is discovered slumped in the gardens, the victim of a violent assault that leads to a murder investigation.  As the police search for answers, suspicion and paranoia build - and the lives of the locals are turned upside down. Secrets that lurk beneath the pristine facade of Sterndale come to light as detectives close in on the truth...

Say No More is by Karen Rose.  If they ever catch you, say nothing. Admit nothing. Never tell.  Mercy Callahan never thought she'd be able to talk about her past. When she arrives in Sacramento to make peace with her brother Gideon, and to help find the brutal cult that took away her childhood, she is finally ready to talk. But when Ephraim Burton - the man who made her life a living hell - follows her there, she realises she might never be safe.   Rafe Sokolov would do anything to have Mercy back in his life and would go to any length to protect her. But when it becomes apparent that Ephraim is more determined than ever to get Mercy back, even Rafe might not be able to stop the trail of destruction he leaves in his wake. As Ephraim draws near, it's clear it's not just Mercy who is in danger; those closest to her are firmly in his sights.

October 2020
Also due to be published is Loyalty by Martina Cole.

November 2020
Hermit is by S R White. He disappeared for 15 years … She has 12 hors to find out why. After the puzzling death of a shopkeeper in rural Australia, troubled detective Dana Russo has just 12 hours to interrogate the prime suspect - a silent, inscrutable man found at the scene of the crime, who simply vanished 15 years earlier.  Where has he been? And just how dangerous is he? Without conclusive evidence linking him to the killing, Dana must race against time to persuade him to speak. But over a series of increasingly intense interviews, Dana is forced to confront her own past if she wants him to reveal the shocking truth.

Fortune Favours the Dead is by Stephen Spotswood. New York, 1946. Lillian Pentecost is the most successful private detective in the city, but her health is failing. She hires an assistant to help with the investigative legwork. Willowjean Parker is a circus runaway. Quick-witted and street-smart, she's a jack-of-all-trades with a unique skill-set. She can pick locks blindfolded, wrestle men twice her size, and throw knives with deadly precision - all of which come in handy working for Ms P.  When wealthy young widow Abigail Collins is murdered and the police are making no progress, Pentecost and Parker are hired by the family to track down the culprit. On Halloween night, there was a costume party at the Collins' mansion, where a fortune teller performed a séance, which greatly disturbed Abigail. Several hours later her body was discovered bludgeoned to death in her late husband's office. Problem is, the door to the office was locked from the inside. There was no-one else in the room, and the murder weapon was beside the victim; the fortune teller's crystal ball.   It looks like an impossible crime, but Pentecost and Parker know there is no such thing...

Also published is The Roots of Evil by Quintin Jardine.

Friday, 27 March 2020

Books to Look Forward to from Little, Brown, Constable, Robinson and Piatkus

July 2020

Midnight Atlanta is the new novel in Darktown series by Thomas Mullen, and sees a newspaper editor murdered against the backdrop of Rosa Parks' protest and Martin Luther King Jnr's emergence.  Atlanta, 1956.  When Arthur Bishop, editor of Atlanta's leading black newspaper, is killed in his office, cop-turned-journalist Tommy Smith finds himself in the crosshairs of the racist cops he's been trying to avoid. To clear his name, he needs to learn more about the dangerous story Bishop had been working on.  Meanwhile, Smith's ex-partner Lucius Boggs and white sergeant Joe McInnis - the only white cop in the black precinct - find themselves caught between meddling federal agents, racist detectives, and Communist activists as they try to solve the murder.  With a young Rev. Martin Luther King Jnr making headlines of his own, and tensions in the city growing, Boggs and Smith find themselves back on the same side in a hunt for the truth that will put them both at risk.

This is an indispensable guide for fans of true crime and crime fiction, whether in books, film or on TV, who want to look behind the crime, to understand the mechanics of an investigation, to walk in their favourite detectives' shoes and, most importantly, to solve the clues.   To do that, one needs to be fluent in the language of the world of crime. We need to know what that world-weary DI is talking about when she refers to another MISPER. We have to immediately grasp the significance of the presence of paraquat, and precisely why it is still a poison of choice.   If you want to know how many murders it takes for a killer to be defined as a serial killer, what Philip Marlowe means when he talks about being 'on a confidential lay' and why the 'fruit of a poisonous tree' is a legal term rather than something you should avoid on a country walk, this is the reference book you've been waiting for. It covers police and procedural terms and jargon of many different countries; acronyms; murder methods; criminal definitions, including different types of killers; infamous killers and famous detectives; notorious cases often referred to in crime fiction and true crime; gangster slang, including that of the Eastern European mafia; definitions of illegal drugs; weapons; forensic terminology; types of poisons; words and phrases used in major crime genres, including detective fiction, legal thrillers, courtroom dramas, hardboiled crime, Scandi and Tartan Noir, cosy crime and psychological thrillers; criminology terms; and the language of the courts and the legal systems of British, American, French, Nordic and other countries.   From Aconite to the Zodiac Killer is by Amanda Lees and is an essential, go-to resource for readers and even for writers of crime fiction. More than simply a glossary, this is a guide that provides a doorway into a super genre, and one that is not just for readers, but also for the many fans of film and TV dramas, of podcasts, and crime blogs. It is also an indispensable resource for writers or would-be writers of crime fiction.

Has the woman killed her child? Is she at risk to herself? Someone in the neighbourhood of old terraced streets has the answers. But detectives Donna Bell and Jade Bradshaw find lies and obstruction at every turn, in a community living on the edge, ground down by austerity and no hope. A place of broken dreams. Of desperation. And murder.  When a stranger crashes into Jade's life, her past comes hurtling back, threatening to destroy her and the world she has carved out for herself. Donna struggles to juggle everything: work, marriage, kids. It's a precarious balancing act, and the rug is about to be pulled from under her.  Acts of Violence is by Cath Staincliffe. 

It's 1996. Detective Sergeant Tom Thorne is a haunted man. Haunted by the moment he ignored his instinct about a suspect, by the horrific crime that followed and by the memories that come day and night, in sunshine and shadow.  So when seven-year-old Kieron Coyne goes missing while playing in the woods with his best friend, Thorne vows he will not make the same mistake again. Cannot.  The solitary witness. The strange neighbour. The friendly teacher. All are in Thorne's sights.   This case will be the making of him . . . or the breaking.  Cry Baby is by Mark Billingham. 

They ask for your husband.  They just want to talk.  They’re lying.  Your husband isn’t who says he is, say the people at your door.  Come with us.  Don’t trust them, says a voice on the phone.  Run.  Who would you believe? A Knock at The Door is by T W Ellis.

The Revelators is by Ace Atkins.  Shot up and left for dead, Sheriff Quinn Colson has revenge on his mind. With the help of his new wife Maggie, rehabilitation, and sheer force of will, he's walking again, eager to resume his work as a southern lawman and track down those responsible for his attempted murder. But someone is standing in his way: an interim sheriff, appointed by the newly elected Governor Vardaman, the man who Quinn knows ordered his murder. Vardaman sits at the top of the state's power structure - both legal and criminal - and little does he know Quinn is still alive. And coming for him.  Quinn will enlist the help of his most trusted friends, including federal agent Jon Holliday, U.S. Marshal Lillie Virgil, and Donnie Varner, a childhood buddy now working for the Feds as an informant. Since Quinn's been gone, the criminal element in north Mississippi has flourished, with queen-pin Fannie Hathcock enjoying unbridled freedom. As an ice storm bears down on north Mississippi and Memphis, and Tibbehah County is isolated from the outside world, the killers will return to finish the job.  But this time, Quinn Colson and company will be waiting, ready to bust apart a criminal empire running on a rigged system for far too long. This is the battle of Jericho, the epic showdown that's been years in the making. In the end, the war will end - for better or worse.

She has secrets.  Evie Cormac's whole life is a lie. She has spent years hiding her true identity, making sure nobody ever discovers what happened to her and who she really is. Because the people who find out always end up dead.  He needs answers.  But Cyrus Haven, a gifted forensic psychologist and Evie's closest friend, is determined to know the truth. When the body of a retired Detective is found in his car it's clear that someone wanted it to look like suicide. But as Cyrus digs deeper, he uncovers an insidious web of lies reaching further than he could have ever imagined, with Evie is at its heart.  Powerful people have spent years hunting her, the only living witness to their crimes. Who is Evie running from, and is Cyrus inadvertently leading her straight to them?  When She was Good is by Michael Robotham.

August 2020

Still Life is by Val McDermid.  When lobster fishermen pull a body out of the sea, local police quickly discover the murdered man was the prime suspect in a mysterious disappearance ten years before. Cold case detective Karen Pirie's name is on the file as the last person to review the case. As she starts to unpick the threads of the past, Karen finds herself at the heart of a tangled web of dark and troubling secrets . . .

The Wicked Sister is by Karen Dionne.  You have been cut off from society for fifteen years, shut away in a mental hospital in self-imposed exile as punishment for the terrible thing you did when you were a child.  But what if nothing about your past is as it seems?  And if you didn't accidentally shoot and kill your mother, then whoever did is still out there. Waiting for you.  For a decade and a half, Rachel Cunningham has chosen to lock herself away in a psychiatric facility, tortured by gaps in her memory and the certainty that she is responsible for her parents' deaths. But when she learns new details about their murders, Rachel returns, in a quest for answers, to the place where she once felt safest: her family's sprawling log cabin in the remote forests of Michigan.  As Rachel begins to uncover what really happened on the day her parents were murdered, she learns - as her mother did years earlier - that home can be a place of unspeakable evil, and that the bond she shares with her sister might be the most poisonous of all.

September 2020

How to Raise an Elephant is by Alexander McCall Smith.  Unusual requests are commonplace at the No. 1 Ladies' Detective Agency, but so are very ordinary ones, such as a plea for money: when a distant cousin calls on Mma Ramotswe to ask for help with another relative's hip operation, tricky questions arise in regard to family responsibility. Mma Makutsi and Mr J. L. B Matekoni are far from convinced of the merits of the request, but it is hard for Mma Ramotswe, with a heart her size, to turn people away. Meanwhile, Charlie has become involved in a mysterious transaction that involves an attractive but rather large animal. If it takes a village to raise a child, what does it take to raise a baby elephant?

Private detective Foster Gates is a father is in search of his missing daughter, and sound engineer Mitzi harbors a secret that may help him solve the case. It's Mitzi's job to create the dubbed screams used in horror films and action movies. She's the best at what she does.  But what no one in Hollywood knows is the screams Mitzi produces are harvested from the real, horror-filled, blood-chilling screams of people in their death throes--a technique first employed by Mitzi's father and one she continues on in his memory--a deeply conflicted serial killer compelled beyond her understanding to honor her father's chilling legacy.  Soon Foster finds himself on Mitzi's trail. And in pursuit of her dark art, Mitzi realizes she's created the perfect scream, one that compels anyone who hears it to mirror the sound as long as they listen to it--a highly contagious seismic event with the potential to bring the country to its knees.  The Invention of Sound is by Chuck Palahniuk.

Stone Cold Trouble is by Amer Anwar.  Trying - and failing - to keep his head down and to stay out of trouble, ex-con Zaq Khan agrees to help his best friend, Jags, recover a family heirloom, currently in the possession of a wealthy businessman. But when Zaq's brother is
viciously assaulted, Zaq is left wondering whether someone from his own past is out to get revenge. Wanting answers and retribution, Zaq and Jags set out to track down those responsible. Meanwhile, their dealings with the businessman take a turn for the worse and Zaq and Jags find themselves suspected of murder.   It'll take both brains and brawn to get themselves out of trouble and, no matter what happens, the results will likely be deadly. The only question is, whether it will prove deadly for them, or for someone else . . . ? 

The Mitford Trial is by Jessica Fellowes.  It's lady's maid Louisa Cannon's wedding day, but the fantasy is shattered shortly after when she is approached by a secretive man asking her to spy on Diana Mitford - who is having an affair with the infamous Oswald Mosley - and her similarly fascist sister Unity.  Thus as summer 1933 dawns, Louisa finds herself accompanying the Mitford’s on a glitzy cruise, full of the starriest members of Society. But the waters run red when a man is found attacked, with suspects everywhere.  Back in London, the case is taken by lawyer Tom Mitford, and Louisa finds herself caught between worlds: of a love lost to blood, a family divided, and a country caught in conflict.

Detective Inspector Jabulani Sibanda is back! With his sharp instincts and relentless hunger for justice, he returns to the bush territory he became so familiar with in Sibanda and the Rainbird. In this second installment, he is once again accompanied by his trusty sidekicks, Sergeant Ncube and the infamous Miss Daisy. In Sibanda and the Death’s Head Moth by CM Elliott Sibanda is short on clues, but, with his uncanny intuition, a fragment of material found in the brain of one victim, a puncture wound in the thigh of another and a diary full of coded names, he starts to build a case. Sibanda is still haunted by Berry, the unattainable love of his life. She is missing under mysterious circumstances. Ncube, on the other hand, is still haunted by myths, folklore, frightening figments and a stomach that requires constant attention. Are the murders connected? Will Berry be found? Will Miss Daisy finally splutter and die?

As it often did since he'd married a cop, murder interrupted more pleasant activities. The again, Roarke supposed, the woman lying in a pool of her own blood a few steps inside the arch in Washington Square Park had a heftier complaint.  When a night out at the theatre is interrupted by the murder of a young woman in Washington Square Park, it seems like an ordinary case for Detective Eve Dallas and her team. But when her husband Roarke spots a shadow from his past in the crowd, Eve realises that this case is far from business as usual. Eve has two complex cases on her hands - the shocking murder of this wealthy young mother and tracking down the shadow before he can strike again, this time much closer to home. Eve is well used to being the hunter, but how will she cope when the tables are turned? As Eve and the team follow leads to Roarke's hometown in Ireland, the race is on to stop the shadow making his next move . . . Shadows in Death is by J D Robb.

Also published in September is Troubled Blood by Robert Galbraith, The House by Tom Watson and Imogen Robertson and All the Devils Are Here is by Louise Penny. 

October 2020

While other children were devouring the works of Enid Blyton and Beatrix Potter, Carla Valentine was poring through the pages of Agatha Christie novels - and that early fascination lead to her job as a pathology technician working in mortuaries and trained in forensics.  Nearly every Agatha Christie story involves one - or more commonly several - dead bodies, and for a young Carla, a curious child already fascinated with biology, these stories and these bodies were perfect puzzles.   Of course Agatha herself didn't talk of 'forensics' which, in the way we use it now, but each tale she tells twists and turns with her expert weave of human observation, ingenuity and genuine science of the era. Through the medium of the 'whodunit', Agatha Christie was a pioneer of forensic science, and in Murder Isn't Easy by Carla Valentine illuminates all of the knowledge of one of our most beloved authors.

The Reacher Guy by Heather Martin is an explosive and riveting biography of a much loved and mythologised author.  In it Heather Martin looks closely at where Child really sprang from.  Based on disarmingly frank personal conversations and years of correspondence with the author, as well as privileged access to archival materials, it is the nearest thing the world is ever likely to get to the autobiography Lee Child does not intend to write. 

Private Detective Agatha Raisin immerses herself in the glittering lifestyle of the fabulously wealthy when Sir Charles Fraith is accused of murder - and Agatha is named as his accomplice! A high-society wedding, a glitzy masked ball, and an introduction to the world of international show-jumping where the riders are glamorous, the horses are beautiful, and intrigue runs deep, leave Agatha with a list of suspects as long as a stallion's tail.   Sinister evidence then emerges that appears to seal Sir Charles's fate and Agatha must uncover the truth before a net of skulduggery closes around him and he loses his ancestral home, his entire estate, and his freedom. And if events weren't complicated enough... Agatha's ex-husband James Lacey is back in Carsely and back in Agatha's heart... Agatha Raisin: Hot to Trot is by M C Beaton.

Four months have passed since the shocking death of Frankie Greenwood, but Liberty Greenwood has managed to keep the rest of her family safe and expand their criminal empire. But when Liberty and Jay set out to teach a protection racketeer a lesson things get out of hand and the Greenwoods soon find themselves under attack: the Black Cherry is fire bombed and Crystal is arrested.  Liberty must hold her nerve, make alliances with old enemies and discover exactly who is trying to destroy her. But that's easier said than done with Sol back on the scene, Crystal's baby to care for and DI Angel holding enough information on Liberty to put her away for good. Is Liberty Greenwood hard enough?  Hard as Nails is by Helen Black.

Everyone is keeping a secret. One of them is murder. The book club was her idea, of course.  It was her way into our group. A chance to get close.  I knew from the day she arrived that she couldn't be trusted.  And I was right.  Alice didn't come to the village for peace and quiet.  She came for revenge.  The Book Club is by C J Cooper.

November 2020

One winter night in 1932, at the top of the Empire State Building, Frances and Agnes, possible lovers and co-conspirators, are waiting for a man who has done something terrible to both of them. They plan to seek the ultimate revenge.   Set over the course of a single night, with flashbacks to the weeks leading up to the potential murder, One Night, New York by Lara Thompson is a detective story, a romance and a coming-of-age tale. It is also a story of old New York, of bohemian Greenwich Village between the wars, of floozies and artists and addicts, of a city that sucked in creatives and immigrants alike, lighting up the world, while all around America burned amidst the heat of the Great Depression.

The House of the Hanged Woman is by Kate Ellis.  1921, Derbyshire. When a Member of Parliament goes missing in a small Derbyshire village, Scotland Yard detective Albert Lincoln is sent up North to investigate. He finds that a grim discovery has been made in a cave next to an ancient stone circle called the Devil's Dancers: the naked body of a middle-aged man mutilated beyond recognition. The local police assume it is the missing politician but when Albert arrives in Wenfield he begins to have doubts. Two years earlier he conducted another traumatic murder investigation in the same village and he finds reminders of a particularly personal tragedy all around him as he tries to help a vicar's widow who claims her husband was murdered. Then there is another murder in Wenfield when an unfaithful young wife with a passion for books is accused of killing her husband. Could there be a link between all of Albert's cases? And can the detective, damaged by war and love, find peace at last?

Spring is in the air ... and so, too, is the sound of music as the residents of Honeychurch Hall are stunned to learn that the Dowager Countess Lady Edith Honeychurch has agreed to the staging of a production of The Merry Widow in the dilapidated grand ballroom.  Fears that the fiercely private octogenarian must be going senile are soon dismissed when our heroine, Kat Stanford, learns that the favour is a result of a desperate request from Countess Olga Golodkin. As one of Edith's oldest friends Olga is the director of the amateur Devon Operatic Dramatic Organization.   Just a week before, D.O.D.O's original venue was destroyed in a mysterious fire but since tickets have been sold, costumes made and lucrative local sponsorships secured, Olga is determined that the show must go on. After decades at the helm of D.O.D.O., The Merry Widow will be Olga's swansong and she wants to go out with a bang . . . Death of a Diva at Honeychurch Hall is by Hannah Dennison.

Thursday, 26 March 2020

Books to Look Forward to from Atlantic Books and Corvus Press

July 2020

The Girl from Widow Hills is by Meghan Miranda. Everyone knows the story of the girl from Widow Hills. When Arden Maynor was six years old, she was swept away in terrifying storm and went missing for days. Against all odds, she was found alive, clinging to a storm drain. A living miracle. Arden's mother wrote a book, and fame followed. But so did fans, creeps and stalkers. It was all too much, and as soon as she was old enough, Arden changed her name and left Widow Hills behind. Now, a young woman living hundreds of miles away, Arden is known as Olivia. With the twentieth anniversary of her rescue looming, media interest in the girl who survived is increasing. Where is she now? The stress brings back the night terrors of Olivia's youth. Often, she finds herself out of bed in the middle of the night, sometimes outside her home, even streets away. Then one evening she jolts awake in her yard, with the corpse of a man at her feet.  The girl from Widow Hills is about to become the centre of the story, once again.

August 2020

The Viper is by Christobel Kent.  Forty years have passed since Sandro Cellini last set foot in La Vipera. But when two bodies are discovered on a hillside just south of Florence, he must come out of retirement to unravel the mystery. La Vipera, a strange, derelict farm house, was once home to a free-living commune, but nobody knows what shady activities took place there.  Now, Cellini hopes his investigation of the recent murders will shed light on the past. But in order to reach the truth, he must face traumatic memories of his own as he sifts through the chaos and lies.

The Nothing Man is by Catherine Ryan Howard.  I was the girl who survived the Nothing Man.  Now I am the woman who is going to catch him...  You've just read the opening pages of The Nothing Man, the true crime memoir Eve Black has written about her obsessive search for the man who killed her family nearly two decades ago. Supermarket security guard Jim Doyle is reading it too, and with each turn of the page his rage grows. Because Jim was - is - the Nothing Man. The more Jim reads, the more he realises how dangerously close Eve is getting to the truth. He knows she won't give up until she finds him. He has no choice but to stop her first...

Clean Hands is by Patrick Hoffman.  Corporate Lawyer Elizabeth Carlyle is under pressure. Her prestigious New York law firm is working on a high-stakes case, defending a prominent bank that's been accused of fraud. When Elizabeth gets the news that one of her junior associates has lost his phone - and the secret documents that were on it - she needs help.
Badly.  Enter ex-CIA officer Valencia Walker, a high-priced fixer who gets called in when wealthy corporations, people and governments need their problems solved discreetly. But things get complicated when the missing phone is retrieved: somebody has already copied the documents, and now they're blackmailing the firm. The situation gets murkier still when stories about the documents start appearing in the press and a tragic suicide appears staged, hinting that darker forces may be churning below the surface. With billions of dollars on the line, Elizabeth and Valencia must outmanoeuvre their tormentors, all the while keeping their hands clean.  In a world of private security, private diplomacy and private justice, a sharply-drawn cast of characters - including dirty lawyers, black-market traders and Russian criminals - take part in this breakneck tour through New York. Authentic, tense and impossible to put down, Clean Hands offers a vivid perspective on the connections between corporations, government and the underworld.

October 2020

The Scarlet Code is by C S Quinn.  1789. The Bastille has fallen...  As Parisians pick souvenirs from the rubble, a killer stalks the lawless streets. His victims are female aristocrats. His executions use the most terrible methods of the ancient regime.  English spy Attica Morgan is laying low in Paris, helping nobles escape. When her next charge falls victim to the killer's twisted machinations, Attica realises she alone can unmask him. But now it seems his deadly sights are set on her.  As the city prisons empty, and a mob mobilises to storm Versailles, finding a dangerous criminal is never going to be easy. Attica's only hope is to enlist her old ally, reformed pirate Jemmy Avery, to track the killer though his revolutionary haunts. But even with a pirate and her fast knife, it seems Attica might not manage to stay alive.

November 2020
When a homeless man dies in a fire in London, film location scout Rachael Lambert is determined to find out his story.  Following the trail to country house hotel Hare’s Land in in West Cork, she uncovers a girl’s body.  But someone is trying to frighten her and fellow guest Caroline Kelly, away.  Then Hare’s Landing is set alight.  Will Rachael and Caroline discover the truth before one of them is killed?  The Dark Room is by Sam Blake.

After Twenty years of living on the straight and narrow, Will finds himself ensnared in a plot to counterfeit the rarest book in American literature: Edgar Allan Poe’s ‘Tamerlane’.  Facing threats to his life and family, Will must rely on the skills of his daughter to create a flawless forgery of the publication regarded as the Holy Grail of American letters.  Part mystery, part case study of the book trader’s seamy side and part homage to the writer who invented the detective tale, The Forger’s Daughter by Bradford Morrow portrays the world of literary forgery as diabolically clever, genuinely dangerous and inescapable to those who have ever embraced it.

Life Before is by Carmel Reilly.  She knew she should talk to him. But what could she say?
Once there had been blame to apportion, rage to hurl. Now she no longer had a sense of that. Who knew what the facts of them being here together like this meant. What was she to make of the situation? Scott lying unconscious here in this bed, unknown to her in almost every way. She a wife, a mother, but in her mind no longer a sister. Not a sister for a very long time now.  Lori Spyker is taking her kids to school one unremarkable day when a policeman delivers the news that her brother, Scott Green, has been injured and hospitalised following a hit and run.  Lori hasn't seen Scott in decades. She appears to be his only contact. Should she take responsibility for him? Can she? And, if she does, how will she tell her own family about her hidden history, kept secret for so long?  Twenty years before, when she and Scott were teenagers, their lives and futures, and those of their family, had been torn to shreds. Now, as Lori tries to piece together her brother's present, she is forced to confront their shared past-and the terrible and devastating truth buried there that had been driven them so far apart.

The Promised Land is by Barry Maitland.  Newly promoted Detective Chief Inspector Kathy Kolla investigates a series of brutal murders on Hampstead Heath. Under intense pressure to find answers, she arrests the unlikely figure of Charles Pettigrew, a failing London publisher who lives alone on the edge of the Heath. Pettigrew's lawyer calls on recently retired David Brock for advice, and soon, unable to resist the pull of investigation, the old colleagues, Brock and Kolla, are at loggerheads. At the heart of the gripping mystery of the Hampstead murders lies a manuscript of an unknown novel by one of the greatest literary figures of the 20th century. Brock believes that its story will unlock the puzzle, but how?

Wednesday, 25 March 2020

Books to Look Forward to from Head of Zeus

July 2020

The Englishman is by David Gilman.  A clandestine war on the desert border of Mali and Algeria; murder and kidnap on the suburban streets of West London; a Moscow CID police inspector investigating the assassination of four of her fellow officers by the Russian mafia; a young MI6 officer facing the possibility that a long-running operation has been fatally compromised: connecting them all is the Englishman - Dan Raglan, outsider, exile, one-time member of the French Foreign Legion, fully trained killer. Raglan's quest for answers will become a quest for vengeance. It will lead him to the winter-ravaged wasteland of the Sverdlovskaya Oblast and Penal Code #74, a place that holds Russia's most brutal murderers. A place of death and retribution. How will he get in? More importantly, how will he get out?

Have you seen Lucia Blix? Lucia went home from school for a playdate with her new friend Josie. Later that evening, Lucia's mother Elisa dropped her overnight things round and kissed her little girl goodnight. That was the last time she saw daughter. The next morning, when Lucia's dad arrived to pick her up, the house was empty. No furniture, no family, no Lucia. Playdate by Alex Dahl puts a microscope on a seemingly average, seemingly happy family plunged into a life-altering situation. Who has taken their daughter, and why?

Robert Ludlum’s The Bourne Evolution is by Brian Freeman.  After the death of his wife in a

mass shooting, secret agent Jason Bourne is convinced that there is more to her murder than it seems. Worse, he believes that the agency that trained him is behind the killing. Bourne goes rogue, leaving Treadstone behind and taking on a new mission to infiltrate and expose an anarchist group, Medusa. But when a congresswoman is assassinated in New York, Bourne is framed for the crime, and he finds himself alone and on the run. In his quest to stay one step ahead of his enemies, Bourne teams up with a journalist, Abbey Laurent, to figure out who was behind the frame-up, and to learn as much as he can about the ever-growing threat of the mysterious Medusa group. As more and more enemies begin to hunt Bourne, it's a race against the clock to discover who led him into a trap... and what their next move may be.

Hunter Killer is by Brad Taylor.  They're one step ahead. They're killing his team. He's coming for them. The Taskforce were once apex predators, an unrivalled hunting machine that decimated those out to harm the USA, but they may have met their match. While Pike is preparing to join the team on a counter-terrorist mission in South America, a friend is killed in South Carolina. The authorities believe it was an accident, but Pike suspects the attack was meant as a message to him.   When he loses contact with the team in South America, Pike becomes convinced the Taskforce is under attack. His men are the closest thing to family he has, which means he will do anything - even ignore direct orders to stand down - to find them.

August 2020

The Package is by Sebastien Fitzek.  All you've done is taken in a parcel for a neighbour. You have no idea what you've let into your home.  Emma's the one that got away. The only survivor of a killer known in the tabloids as 'the barber' - because of the trophies he takes from his victims. Or she thinks she was. The police aren't convinced. Nor is her husband. She never even saw her tormentor properly, but now she recognises him in every man. Questioning her sanity, she gives up her job as a doctor in the local hospital and retreats from the world. It is better to stay at home. Quiet. Anonymous. Safe. He won't find her here. And all she did was take a parcel for a neighbour. She has no idea what she's let into her home.

September 2020

The Night of the Flood is by Zoe Somerville.  An atmospheric literary thriller set in north Norfolk in the shadow of the Cold War, in which a love triangle turns murderous. Summer, 1952. Verity Frost, stranded on her family farm on the Norfolk coast, is caught between two worlds: the devotion of her childhood friend Arthur, just returned from National Service, and a strange new desire to escape it all. Arthur longs to escape too, but only with Verity by his side. Into their world steps Jack, a charismatic American pilot flying secret reconnaissance missions off the North Sea coast. But where Verity sees adventure and glamour, Arthur sees only deception. As the water levels rise to breaking point, this tangled web of secrets, lies and passion will bring about a crime that will change all their lives.

'Danny ‘Abs’ Cruikshank was the biggest reality star in the UK – the lovable star of hit reality show Laid In Essex! But during a weekend break, Abs and his friends were questioned by police after they were the last people to see a missing girl alive. Three years later, the man who captured the hearts of millions of TV viewers is reduced to opening a Quid Store on the high street. And when one of Abs’s mates is murdered, it’s clear someone is targeting him and his friends. DI Sasha Dawson and her team must race against the clock to find the killer before they strike again, and discover what happened to Rhiannon Jenkins on the night she vanished… The truth may save Abs - or bury him. The Woman in the Wood is by M.K. Hill.'

Fate: Death Notice 2 is by Zhou Haohui.  After the death of 'Eumenides', a former police student who was sending 'death notices' to unpunished criminals before brutally murdering them, the Chengdu Police Department assumed that the killing spree would stop. But the murders continue, leading the 4/18 task force to the terrifying truth: Eumenides had a protege. Captain Pei Tao and his task force redouble their efforts to catch this new opponent, but relationships become fraught. Can they trust each other?

October 2020

Marry in haste... Murder at leisure? London, 1888: Susannah rushes into marriage to a young and wealthy surgeon. After a passionate honeymoon, she returns home with her new husband wrapped around her little finger. But then everything changes. Thomas's behaviour becomes increasingly volatile and violent. He stays out all night, returning home bloodied and full of secrets. The gentle caresses she enjoyed on her wedding night are now just a honeyed memory. When the first woman is murdered in Whitechapel, Susannah's interest is piqued. But as she follows the reports of the ongoing hunt for the killer, her mind takes her down the darkest path imaginable. Every time Thomas stays out late, another victim is found dead. Is it coincidence? Or is her husband the man they call Jack the Ripper?  People of Abandoned Character is by Clare Whitfield.

November 2020
Passenger 23 is by Sebastien Fitzek.  On average 23 people a year disappear from the world's cruise ships. They are written off as accidents or suicides. But what if they're not?   Five years ago Martin Schwarz, a police psychologist, lost his wife and son. They were holidaying on a cruise ship when they simply vanished. A lacklustre investigation was unable to shed any light on what happened - murder-suicide being the coroner's verdict. It is a verdict that has haunted Martin ever since, blighting his life. But then he is contacted by an elderly woman, a writer, who claims to have information regarding their fate and wants him to come on board The Sultan of the Seas immediately.   She explains that his wife and son are not the only mother and child pair to have disappeared. Only a few months ago another mother and daughter also vanished. She believes there may be a serial killer on board.   But when the missing daughter reappears - carrying the teddy bear of Martin's missing son - it becomes apparent that the truth could be much, much worse...

A Galway Epiphany is by Ken Bruen.  Jack Taylor. He's the world's worst detective. Cases get solved not because of him, but despite him. He's an alcoholic, an addict, rude, obnoxious. And in very bad shape. And yet... He gets the job done... somehow, and he desperately wants to connect even though he'd never admit it. But now, He's getting old. Losing his hearing. Has a limp. You ask, Jesus, how much longer can he go on? Indeed.

Eleven guests. Three nights. One murderer...In a crumbling old mansion in the English countryside, eleven people gather, each one famous in their field. They have been invited for a three-day house party, to celebrate the launch of a ground breaking virtual reality game that promises to unite the worlds of technology, politics and the environment. DCI Marten Jansen has been summoned to join the house party. His instructions are to offer police protection in case of an outside attack. Instead, he finds simmering tensions, long-buried secrets - and a murderer in their midst...  Into the Fire is by Rachael Blok