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Dark Pines by Will Dean @willrdean @PtBlankBks

 

Source: Netgalley

Publication: Point Blank Books 07 December 2017

An isolated Swedish town.

A deaf reporter terrified of nature.

A dense spruce forest overdue for harvest.

A pair of eyeless hunters found murdered in the woods.

It’s week one of the Swedish elk hunt and the sound of gunfire is everywhere. When Tuva Moodyson investigates the story that could make her career she stumbles on a web of secrets that knit Gavrik town together. Are the latest murders connected to the Medusa killings twenty years ago? Is someone following her? Why take the eyes? Tuva must face her demons and venture deep into the woods to stop the killer and write the story. And then get the hell out of Gavrik.

 

Wow! Amazing! I have been hearing about this book for some time, so when the publisher brought forward the publication date, I knew I had to bump it up my reading list and I am so glad that I did.

Dark Pines is just my kind of book. Dark, atmospheric, suspenseful and with a protagonist you very quickly come to adore, I read this book all the way through without pausing for breath.This is Nordic noir at its finest. Contemporary drama that grabs you and doesn’t let go until, panting for breath, you lie wrung out on the floor.

Tuva Moodyson is a journalist on the local paper in the very small town of Gavrik. She has left a good job as a London journalist to come to Sweden to be close to her dying mother. Theirs is not an especially close relationship, but they are all the family each other has and Tuva is determined to be there for her mum.

In Gavrik she churns out the usual local paper stories; the start of elk hunting season; church notes, how the paper mill is doing, how the local sports teams are faring. She knows she is blessed by having in Lena a good editor who recognises the quality of her writing and is prepared to let her work through the bigger stories.

Gavrik is surrounded by dark pine forests, eerie, forbidding spaces it is far too easy to get lost in and full of biting insects, rotting vegetation and carcasses and both cold and damp. When, in the midst of elk hunting season, a dead body is discovered with gunshot wounds to the chest and the eyes gouged out, it is not long before local people start to speculate about the relationship between this death and the so-called Medusa murders some 20 years ago in the same town.

Tuva is responsible for writing up what will be the papers main focus for many weeks and to do so she has to really get into the lives and attitudes of the people connected to the story. What a cast of characters she meets as she investigates. From the reclusive David Holmqvist with his peculiar culinary habits to Alice and Cornelia Sorlie, carvers of specialised figures to the head of the main  hunting team, Hannes  Carlsson and Viggo the local taxi driver. These and other characters are all put under Tuva’s spotlight as she bravely tries to overcome her very real fear of the forest and the creatures that live in it in order to get to the heart of her story.

Along the way she also has to grapple with a growing hostility from the town’s business people, concerned that Tuva’s writing may be giving the town a bad name.

I love Tuva’s complex character. She is brave and feisty, has absolutely no idea of how to take care of herself and I want to know more about her and her life.

Will Dean’s writing is tense, well- crafted and full of very creepy moments. The plot is taut and fast-moving with plenty of false leads and twists. Writing in the first person really works for Tuva’s character and I loved her best friend Tammy, also an outsider to the town, whose perception of the challenges she faces is hard hitting and in your face.

I really loved this book and hope there will be more of Tuva (and Tammy) to come.

Amazon                                            Waterstones

About the Author

will dean

Will Dean grew up in the East Midlands, living in nine different villages before the age of eighteen. After studying Law at LSE, and working many varied jobs in London, he settled in rural Sweden with his wife. He built a wooden house in a boggy forest clearing and it’s from this base that he compulsively reads and writes.

Follow Will on twitter

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Goblin by Ever Dundas @everdundas @SarabandBooks #Goblin

Source: Review Copy

Publication: 06 December 2017 from Saraband

Goblin is an oddball and an outcast. But she’s also a dreamer, a bewitching raconteur, a tomboy adventurer whose spirit can never be crushed. Running feral in World War II London, Goblin witnesses the carnage of the Blitz and sees things that can never be unseen…but can be suppressed. She finds comfort in her beloved animal companions and lives on her wits with friends real and imagined, exploring her own fantastical world of Lizard Kings and Martians and joining the circus.

In 2011, London is burning once again, and an elderly Goblin reluctantly returns to the city. Amidst the chaos of the riots, she must dig up the events of her childhood in search of a harrowing truth. But where lies truth after a lifetime of finding solace in an extraordinary imagination, where the distinction between illusion and reality has possibly been lost forever?

 

You know how, sometimes, you will be so engrossed in a book that you don’t want it ever to end? That’s not only how I felt about Goblin, but I physically stopped reading just before the end. Mostly it was because I didn’t want it to end, but partly also because I didn’t want to find out what Goblin had been trying not to say.

Ever Dundas is a storyteller’s story teller; a painter of mind pictures that conjure the ghostly, the weird and the downright grotesque. Her tales are gently reminiscent of Gaiman’s land of Neverwhere, deep under London’s foundations, where Lizard Kings and Martians play host to Goblin and her friends; both animal and human.

Goblin is a curious, gender fluid, mercurial creature. A somewhat feral child, struggling to cope with a household empty of demonstrable love and affection, save for her brother David, Goblin creates for herself a world away from the war torn London in which she must live and in the depths of Kensal Green cemetery she holds court with imagination, with gusto and with all the love that she can muster.

Obsessed with H.G. Wells and Frankenstein, she roams bombed out London with her dog Devil and her creation, Monsta, living on her wits and entertaining both friends and passers-by with her stories as she goes.

But when we first meet Goblin she is in Edinburgh’s Central Library where she is Reader in Residence and keeping company with Ben, a homeless man who is chewing his way through James Joyce. Our timeline moves between these two Goblins – the one who is asked to come back to riot-torn London to relive her childhood and shed light on an appalling event during the 2nd World War and Goblin the young child who is seeing first-hand the brutality and loss that war delivers.

We follow Goblin as she is evacuated to Cornwall and learns about love and then loss and we laugh with her as she slowly and determinedly makes her way back to London; a picara with a sole companion, Corporal Pig.

As we follow Goblin’s life from London to Europe and then to settle for a bit in Venice, we learn how Goblin the unloved child becomes Goblin the loving, compassionate woman.

Ever Dundas has a consummate skill with language and her words can so readily conjure feelings of both joy and sadness. It is astonishing that a novel this accomplished should be a debut. Her creation of an alternative world is not only a haven from the trauma of rejection and loss, but a refuge from man’s inhumanity to man. It is not so much that Goblin is an unreliable narrator as that she tells the stories she wants to believe are true and will go to extraordinary lengths to make them so.

As I finally reached for and finished that last chapter I cried. I cried from sadness and for loss. But I also cried because it’s such a lovely book.

I can’t praise it more highly than that.

 

Amazon                              Waterstones

 

About Ever Dundas

ever dundas

Ever Dundas gained a Creative Writing Masters with Distinction from Edinburgh Napier University in 2011, and she has a First Class Degree in Psychology and Sociology from Queen Margaret University. She has had several short stories and dark fairy tales published and her work has been shortlisted for awards. Goblin  won the prestigious Saltire Society First Book of the Year Award this year.

Website: https://bloodonforgottenwalls.wordpress.com/

Twitter: https://twitter.com/everdundas

The Devil’s Claw by Lara Dearman (Jennifer Dorey #1) @laradearman @lauren_BooksPR #Devil’sClaw

 

Source: Review Copy

Publication: 30th November 2017 from Trapeze

 

Following a traumatic incident in London, Jennifer Dorey has returned to her childhood home in Guernsey, taking a job as a reporter at the local newspaper.

After the discovery of a drowned woman on a beach, she uncovers a pattern of similar deaths that have taken place over the past fifty years.

Together with DCI Michael Gilbert, an officer on the verge of retirement, they follow a dark trail of island myths and folklore to ‘Fritz’, the illegitimate son of a Nazi soldier. His work, painstakingly executed, has so far gone undetected.

But with his identity about to be uncovered, the killer now has Jennifer in his sights.

 

Setting a series on a small island is an interesting choice for a writer, but Guernsey’s history is such that there’s a wealth of opportunities to mine its rich and varied situation.

It’s obvious from her writing Lara Dearman knows the island well; such is the evocative description she brings to the island and its characters.

Our protagonist is Jenny Dorey. She has recently returned to Guernsey from a journalism career in London where an investigation she was carrying out for her newspaper lead to her life being placed in danger. Now she is back home, living with her mother and working for the much sleepier Guernsey News.

Something of a loner, Jenny has one good friend, Stella, on the island. One of the reasons she originally left Guernsey stemmed back to an incident that led to her being ostracised by other children when she was a teenager and has subsequently left her a little bit afraid of the dark.

Whilst out on a routine assignment for the paper, she finds a young woman, Amanda Guille, dead on the beach. The police think it’s likely to be suicide but Jenny is not convinced. Despite being warned off the story by her somewhat irascible editor, Brian, she sets about finding more about the dead girl and soon begins to uncover a startling number of suicides by young women on the island, dating back several decades.  Has she uncovered a pattern and if so, what is driving these young women to take their own lives, if indeed that is what happened?

Convinced that she is on the trail of something significant, she takes her research to DCI Michael Gilbert, a policeman on the verge of retirement who already feels he is being superseded by the younger cops on the island. Michael, who had some early misgiving about Amanda’s death, thinks Jenny may well be onto something and they put their heads together to work on the cases.

Lara Dearman has built a strong and convincing picture of life on Guernsey, the characters and the everyday incidents. Drawing on the history and folklore of Guernsey, she has mined a rich seam from the past and teamed it with a vivid and authentic picture of present day island life and politics.

Written in three voices, those of Jenny, Michael and the unidentified killer, the timeline switches between the past and the present, but is always easy to follow.

Jenny is a character that the reader can empathise with and urge on to succeed. There is enough in her background and early life, as well as her more recent London history; to give her a past that can be further explored in future books.  As the reader gets drawn further into Jenny’s investigations, we meet an interesting cast of characters, any one of whom could easily be implicated in the disturbing events that Jenny has uncovered.

As the denouement draws close, the novel delivers a vivid and gripping climax that satisfies and resolves the mystery.

I really enjoyed this debut novel and look forward to reading more in the series.

Amazon

 

About Lara Dearman

laradearman

Lara was born and raised on the beautiful Channel Island of Guernsey. She moved to the UK to study International Relations and French at the University of Sussex, after which she endured a brief career in finance before giving it up to be a stay at home mum to her three children. A short course in Creative Writing at Richmond Adult Community College led to Lara studying for a Masters in Creative Writing at St Mary’s University, London. She graduated in 2016 with a distinction. Having moved from Guernsey to Brighton to London to Paris to Singapore and back to London over the last fifteen years, she has now settled in Westchester, New York, with her family. The Devil’s Claw is her first novel and combines her love of Guernsey, myths and folklore with her obsession with crime fiction and serial killers…

You can follow Lara on twitter @laradearman

The Vanishing Season by Joanna Schaffhausen @minotaur_books @slipperywhisper #VanishingSeason

 

Source: Netgalley review copy

Publication: St Martin’s Press/Minotaur Books 5th December 2017

 

Ellery Hathaway knows a thing or two about serial killers, but not through her police training. She’s an officer in sleepy Woodbury, MA, where a bicycle theft still makes the newspapers. No one there knows she was once victim number seventeen in the grisly story of serial killer Francis Michael Coben. The only one who lived.

When three people disappear from her town in three years–all around her birthday–Ellery fears someone knows her secret. Someone very dangerous. Her superiors dismiss her concerns, but Ellery knows the vanishing season is coming and anyone could be next. She contacts the one man she knows will believe her: the FBI agent who saved her from a killer all those years ago.

 

Did you read Final Girls by Riley Sager? I could not help but think of it as I was reading Joanna Schauffhausen’s  The Vanishing Season. Not because the books are similar, but because our protagonist Ellery Hathaway is a Final Girl – the lone survivor of terrible killings; the one whose psyche has been massively impacted by her experiences and who knows that, although she is a survivor, she will never be quite the same again.

I understand that this is a debut novel, but honestly, starting to read this book was like slipping into a very comfortable pair of slippers. You know that way when you pick up a book and read the first few pages, you just know you’re going to enjoy the writing style and find the story interesting? Well The Vanishing Season was all of that for me.

Abby Hathaway, who these days uses her middle name Ellery, is a member of Massachusetts’ Woodbury Police Department. Her survival of her childhood kidnapping has led her to alter her name and move across the country to a rural backwater whilst using her training and experience to help protect the community she has chosen to live in.

When three people go missing in three years, Ellie is sure that there is something of a pattern developing and that these are not simple runaways. To make matters worse, Ellery has been receiving an anonymous birthday card on each of these years, even though she has never said when her birthday is. It seems likely that someone out there knows the secret she has been trying to hide.

When Ellie cannot make the Chief of Police listen to her theories, she falls back on the one man she can believe in, the FBI agent who rescued her from the sick, sadistic, serial killer Francis Coben.

Reed Markham is that agent, though these days he is doing no more than trading on his once good reputation and has let his work and his life get into a terrible mess with sad consequences for both.

He agrees to help Ellie on what he describes as an ‘informal basis’, mainly to cover up the fact that he has been put on indefinite leave from the FBI. Together, they begin to investigate a pattern of disappearances that it soon becomes obvious are almost certainly linked to Ellie’s past.

Joanna Schaffhausen has created a fascinating character in Ellery and it is hard not to like her and her adorable dog, Bump, even if she goes to unconventional lengths to have her views taken seriously. I also liked the flawed but savvy character of Reed Markham – these two make a good investigative pair.

I did think that there could have been more weight given to Markham’s suspicions about Ellie – there was ample scope to rack up the tension there which never quite materialised.

Overall though I enjoyed it and thought it was a satisfying and enjoyable read with a strong climax. Recommended.

 

About Joanna Schaffhausen

Joanna_Schaffhausen

Joanna Schaffhausen’s novel The Vanishing Season is the Winner of the 2016, Mystery Writers of America/St. Martin’s Minotaur First Crime Novel Award.

Joanna is a scientific editor who spends her days immersed in research on potential new therapies for cancer, addiction, and neurological disorders such as Alzheimer’s disease. Previously, she worked as an editorial producer for ABC News, where she advised and wrote for programs such as World News Tonight, Good Morning America and 20/20. She lives in the Boston area with her husband and daughter. The Vanishing Season is her first novel.

You can follow Joanna here:

twitter @slipperywhisper

 

The Foster Child by Jenny Blackhurst @jennyblackhurst @millieseaward @headlinepg #TheFosterChild

 

Source: Review Copy

Published: 16 November 2017 by Headline

 

When child psychologist Imogen Reid takes on the case of 11-year-old Ellie Atkinson, she refuses to listen to warnings that the girl is dangerous.

Ellie was the only survivor of a fire that killed her family. Imogen is convinced she’s just a sad and angry child struggling to cope with her loss.

But Ellie’s foster parents and teachers are starting to fear her. When she gets upset, bad things seem to happen. And as Imogen gets closer to Ellie, she may be putting herself in danger…

Jenny Blackhurst can certainly write a great chiller thriller. Imogen and Ellie are at the black heart of this book. Is Imogen a reliable narrator, or a troubled woman using past problems to try and solve her current woes? Is Ellie the 11 year old version of Stephen King’s Carrie, or is she, as Imogen believes, a poor child in need of love and care whose sudden family bereavements have left her lost and vulnerable?

Whatever the answer, Imogen needs to find out and quickly. Because Ellie is a child around whom things happen. Things like death and injury, events which threaten her classmates and her teachers and will prove life threatening to Imogen.

Blackhurst has created a tense and dramatic narrative where the chills run up and down your spine as you read.  Imogen is a child psychologist with a troubled professional past, who joins the local social work team in her old home town and inherits from her predecessor the case of Ellie, a young girl who is living with a foster family after the death of her immediate family.

Jenny Blackhurst really does know how to both engage and unsettle her reader, drawing them into Imogen and Ellie’s worlds, and yet able to wrong foot the reader at every turn.

This makes for a fascinating and chilling read that twists and doubles back on itself so that you never quite know if you have worked out the answer, even until the very last page.

Beautifully crafted and definitely a great read for a dark and stormy night.

 

Amazon                                                                       Waterstones

 

About Jenny Blackhurst

Jenny-Blackhurst

Jenny Blackhurst grew up in Shropshire where she still lives with her husband and children. Growing up, she spent hours reading and talking about crime novels – writing her own seemed like a natural progression. This is her third novel.

You can follow Jenny Blackhurst on social media here:

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The Suffering of Strangers by Caro Ramsay (Anderson&Costello #9) @severnhouse

Source: Purchased copy

Published: Severn House 30 November 2017

 

When a six-week-old baby is stolen from outside a village shop, Detective Inspector Costello quickly surmises there’s more to this case than meets the eye. As she questions those involved, she uncovers evidence that this was no impulsive act as the police initially assumed, but something cold, logical, meticulously planned. Who has taken Baby Sholto ? and why?

Colin Anderson meanwhile is on the Cold Case Unit, reviewing the unsolved rape of a young mother back in 1996. Convinced this wasn’t the first ? or last – time the attacker struck, Anderson looks for a pattern. But when he does find a connection, it reaches back into his own past . . .

Goodness me, but this one is a corker. For all sorts of reasons this one is a heart stopper; a tear jerker with real emotional depth.  Evoking strong feelings, this book has a brilliantly thought through plot, which warps and wefts its way through a complex set of motives and characters until we finally understand what has happened and why.

Anderson and Costello are on different paths when the book opens. Anderson is now running the Cold Case Unit, and not only missing the action of front line detecting, but feeling the love for his old team, too.

Costello is now in the Domestic Abuse unit and Wyngate and Mulholland are on desk duties, following their last case.  An over-wrought and somewhat over anxious mother leaves her baby, Sholto,  in the car outside a shop for a few minutes and when she returns, both the car and her baby have disappeared. The car is soon found just around the corner, complete with a baby in the seat, but is the mother right when she says it isn’t her baby?

Costello is assigned to the case alongside the case she already has;  that of a mother who has disappeared following on from a social worker trying and failing to inspect the woman’s home and her young baby.


Costello quickly realises that baby Sholto’s abduction must have been carefully planned and prepared, but why? Meanwhile,  Anderson is looking into an old rape case
but he is reluctant to pursue it until his bosses make it clear that they are hoping to find an ambassador for their cause if he can sweet talk an old friend into helping the police.

For much of the early part of the book, Anderson and Costello are working their separate cases, and yet, unbeknowst to them, there are parallel lines running alongside them. When it becomes clear that there are simply too many connections to be ignored, this case will widen into one that has startling consequences for more than one member of the extended Anderson and Costello team.

I like the early distance between Anderson and Costello and the alienation between Costello and the Procurator Fiscal, Archie, also helped to underline the cold and calculating nature of the crimes in which so many people were involved.

It takes a while fore the plot to coalesce, but when it does and the team are drawn inexorably back together, the action punches its weight through the story and gives the reader a wholly plausible and very scary scenario in which the suffering of strangers is only the start.

The characters are compelling and certainly more than a little flawed, which makes them more likeable than ever – and I love the way in which Anderson and Costello never really agree on anything.

The Glasgow setting is brilliantly done in this book, I love the way that Caro Ramsay has been able to knit the history and geography of Glasgow into the heart of her plot. I have certainly learnt a little more about the city than I knew before I started.

In short then, a compelling and complex tale which makes for a riveting read. Highly recommended.

Amazon                                                      Waterstones

About Caro Ramsay

220px-CaroRamsay2009

Caro was raised on the south side of Glasgow, around  Govan. She thinks she is  the only person she knows who was drummed out of the Brownies for insubordination – badge-less!

She was the youngest person ever to graduate from the British School of Osteopathy in London, and after graduating she immediately returned to Glasgow to establish her own practice.

It was while recovering from a very bad back injury, that she decided to put pen to paper and started writing the book that was to become her debut novel, Absolution, published in 2007, to be followed two years later by the thrilling Singing To The Dead.

Caro is the proud possessor of a Diploma in Forensic Medical Science  to make sure, she says, that  the fictional post-mortems are more Grissom than gruesome.

Blood Rites by David Stuart Davies @DStuartDavies @annebonnybook @urbanebooks #blogtour

Source: Review copy

Publication: 9th November 2017 Urbane Publications

 DI Paul Snow has a personal secret. He is a homosexual but is desperate to keep it secret, knowing it would finish his career in the intolerant police force of the time. As this personal drama unfolds, he is involved in investigating a series of violent murders. All the victims appear to be chosen at random and to have no connection with each other. After the fourth murder, Snow is removed from the case for not finding the killer but continues investigating the matter privately. Gradually, Paul manages to determine a link between the murder victims, but this places his own life in great danger. Can Paul unmask the killer as he wrestles with his own demons? 

 

Blood Rites is a Northern thriller set in Huddersfield, Yorkshire in the 1980s featuring Detective Inspector Paul Snow. It can be read as a stand alone, although I think the reader benefits from reading these in the order that the trilogy was published.

For these books, taken together, are a chilling look into what drives a serial killer.

The first book, Brothers in Blood, focuses on three young men who murder for kicks.In the second novel, Innocent Blood, the killer is a parent, who murders young children because they survived a bus crash in which his daughter died. In Blood Rites, the last of the trilogy , the killer murders those whom he believes deserve to die.

Eerily, the chills start with the opening prologue of Blood Rites, a passage which is repeated at the end of the book.

Blood Rites is not a long novel, but I found it to be quite a sad one, of its time and place, but that time and place was not a comfortable one for a gay detective in the Police force.

Paul Snow works hard at conforming and fitting in, though the truth is that he is already marked out by his superiors as a bit of a loner; a single man, and thus someone who will never be an insider.

Paul keeps his private life private, though in truth he doesn’t have much of a social life. In an effort to better fit in, he begins to date Matilda, the Headmistress of a local school. She is good company and he likes her, but struggles to find the heart to consummate their relationship. His new friendship, however, very quickly wins approval from his superiors, so Paul is caught in a trap of his own making.

Whilst Snow is on a date with Matilda, a  mugger is  knocked over and killed in a hit-and-run. The killer is delighted with the justice he believes he has meted and it is not long before more victims turn up dead.

For Snow, it is hard to find any connection between the victims though they are all killed in a similar fashion. Snow grows more frustrated as he strives to make the connection that will break the case, but he is also struggling with personal issues of his own which do not help.

When he is removed from the case for not being quick enough to catch the murderer, he doggedly continues his investigations in his own time; investigations which lead him into deep trouble.

 

I rather enjoyed this look back at the 80’s; a time of dinner dances and prawn cocktails, rampant sexism and macho police culture, pretty much all of it alien to Paul Snow. This serial killer was not predictable, though ultimately the identity was not difficult to fathom, but the whole book is an evocation of an era  in the not very distant past, when life was not good for non conformists.

The insight into the killer’s mind is brutal and clear – and as indicated, taken together, these three books are an insightful study of serial killers.

About David Stuart Davies

DSD

 

David Stuart Davies is an author, playwright and editor. His fiction includes six novels featuring his wartime detective Johnny Hawke, Victorian puzzle solver artist Luther Darke, and seven Sherlock Holmes novels – the latest being Sherlock Holmes and the Ripper Legacy (2016). His non-fiction work includes Starring Sherlock Holmes, detailing the film career of the Baker Street sleuth. David has also penned a Northern Noir trilogy of gritty crime novels set in Yorkshire in the 1980s: Brothers in Blood, Innocent Blood and Blood Rites.

David is regarded as an authority on Sherlock Holmes and is the author of two Holmes plays, Sherlock Holmes: The Last Act and Sherlock Holmes: The Death and Life, which are available on audio CD. He has written the Afterwords for all the Collector’s Library Holmes volumes, as well as those for many of their other titles.

He is a committee member of the Crime Writers’ Association and edits their monthly publication Red Herrings. His collection of ghost and horror stories appeared in 2015, championed by Mark Gatiss who said they were ‘pleasingly nasty.’

David is General Editor of Wordsworth’s Mystery & Supernatural series and a past Fellow of the Royal Literary Fund. He has appeared at many literary festivals and the Edinburgh Fringe performing his one man presentation The Game’s Afoot – an evening with Sherlock Holmes & Arthur Conan Doyle. He was recently made a member of The Detection Club.

Website |twitter Twitter | Urbane Author Page

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