The Shape of Lies by Rachel Abbott |Blog Tour Review |#TheShapeofLies

The Shape of Lies (DCI Tom Douglas #8)
Published by Black Dot Publishing Ltd
Available in ebook and paperback (12 February 2019)
384 pages
Source: Copy provided for review via Netgalley


I’m a big fan of Rachel’s books (and in particular of Tom Douglas!) and couldn’t say no when asked by Maura Wilding to review and take part in the tour. Thank you Maura! My review is below, but first, a little about the book.

About the Book


Yesterday, Scott was dead. Today, he’s back. And Anna doesn’t believe in ghosts. Scott was Anna’s boyfriend. She loved him, but he ruined her life. When he died, she should have been free, but today Scott is on the radio, threatening to spill her secrets.

Anna is a mother, a wife, and head teacher of a primary school. And she’s a good liar. She made one mistake, and now she is having to pay for it. Scott is the only person who knows the truth about her past, but how can he be alive?

Soon, DCI Tom Douglas is going to knock on her door looking for answers. But Anna is already running scared: from the man she loved; the man she watched die; the man who has come back to life. She has one week to find him. One week to stop him.

My Thoughts

Having enjoyed Rachel’s previous books (the last one being a standalone And So It Begins), it was good to be back with the familiar and especially Tom Douglas and his team.

This is one of those stories that begins with a dilemma that you could understand a naive young girl struggling with. As a teenager at university, Anna made her decision and has been paying for it ever since.

Anna is now a respected head teacher with a husband and family of her own however her past comes back to haunt her when she hears her ex boyfriend’s name together with his nickname for her, on a local radio show phone in and makes reference to a place known to both of them – promising to tell all, if voted for, the following week.  Anna is totally bewildered and scared as to how this is possible. Scott is dead. So who else know their secrets.

Whilst this is happening, the police are dealing with a dead body found in a car, parked in a multi storey car park. With no identification, the body is assumed to be the owner of the vehicle. But as ever, nothing is as straightforward as it seems.

Anna was a difficult character for me to engage with, she had a complicated personality and whilst I felt sorry for her, especially as a young girl, I didn’t take to the adult version very much. I could see how the younger Anna could get sucked into a situation that spirals out of control but as an older woman with a family?  I just couldn’t really buy into the lies and deceit. 

Despite my misgivings about Anna, I was nevertheless completely sucked into the various strands of the story.  As the body count rises the police face an uphill task to find the person, or people responsible, before the next victim is claimed. In this midst of all this, Tom Douglas is facing a personal family crisis of his own. Luckily for him DI Becky Robinson is back from maternity leave and playing a good supporting role as his wingman.

I’ve always found Rachel Abbott’s books absolutely engrossing and this one is no exception. The story moves between the past and the present,  gradually revealing the truth as to what happened all those years before. I have to admit there were people in Anna’s past that I could quite happily have killed myself, I hated them so much. There are some very nasty characters here, none of which you would ever want to come across in real life, and the suspense is maintained throughout. And the twists!  Did I mention that that there are twists.  Well there are. 

The Shape of Lies is another brilliantly executed crime thriller from this very talented author.  I don’t know how she comes up with such intriguing and twisted plots each time, but I’m very glad she does!

About the Author

Rachel Abbott, born and raised in Manchester, founded her own interactive media company in the 1980s, before selling it and retiring in 2005. She then moved to Italy where she worked on the renovation of a 15th century Italian monastery, and it was here that, one day, she found herself snowed in and decided to begin writing for pleasure. This became her debut novel, Only The Innocent, which she went on to publish via Kindle Direct Publishing, topping their chart for 4 weeks.

A true self-publishing pioneer, The Shape of Lies is Abbott’s ninth novel. She splits her time between Alderney in the Channel Islands and Italy.

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The Silent Patient by Alex Michaelides | Blog Tour Review |#TheSilentPatient

Published by Orion
Available in ebook, hardback and paperback (7 February 2019)
352 pages
Source: Copy provided by publisher for review

About the Book

ALICIA

Alicia Berenson writes a diary as a release, an outlet – and to prove to her beloved husband that everything is fine. She can’t bear the thought of worrying Gabriel, or causing him pain.

Until, late one evening, Alicia shoots Gabriel five times and then never speaks another word.

THEO

Forensic psychotherapist Theo Faber is convinced he can successfully treat Alicia, where all others have failed. Obsessed with investigating her crime, his discoveries suggest Alicia’s silence goes far deeper than he first thought.

And if she speaks, would he want to hear the truth?

With film rights snapped up by an Oscar winning Hollywood production company, rights sold in a world record 43 territories, and rave blurbs from David Baldacci, Lee Child and A.J. Finn, The Silent Patient promises to be the debut thriller of 2019

My Thoughts

If you’ve been living in a cave for the last few months, then you can be excused for missing this one on social media. There has been a LOT of publicity about this debut. I, like many others, have this FOMO thing and when a review copy was offered, I didn’t hesitate to say yes please.

We know from the very beginning that Alice Berenson has been accused of killing her husband Gabriel. Following the trial, she’s now in a secure unit, rather than prison, known as ‘The Grove’.

What makes this book slightly different from others in this genre is that Alice is silent. Ever since Gabriel’s death she has refused to talk and has continued to do so for the six years since her incarceration.

Enter Theo Faber, a criminal psychotherapist who has become more than a little obsessed with Alice’s case, so much so that he waits for an opportunity to work at The Grove in order to become Alice’s therapist and to be the one to get her to finally speak about the crime.

Alice was said to be very much in love with Gabriel and they were thought to have the perfect marriage – so why did she kill him. We do hear Alice’s voice, by way of extracts of her diary entries leading up to the time of the murder. I found these fascinating and they give the best insight into the mind of a complex and unpredictable woman.

Theo turns investigator, delving into Alice’s past to try and find something he can use that will make her talk. He is up against the clock, as The Grove is being threatened with closure and it will be a real coup for the unit, if his treatment is a success.

Both Alice and Theo have had troubled pasts and the more detail that is disclosed about their lives, it becomes clear that they are damaged individuals. Can Theo really help Alicia or will she destroy him in the process.

The author’s experience of psychotherapy and working at a secure psychiatric unit brings authenticity to the story. I thought it was a fabulous read – that feeling of unease and of being unsettled was prevalent throughout, I was never quite sure what the truth was and it had me firmly hooked from the first page. It’s very much character driven however the slower pace suits the story perfectly as the reader is introduced to the characters and the backstory behind them gradually unfolds.

As you would expect in a thriller, nothing is straightforward and there are unexpected twists and surprises aplenty to keep the reader on their toes.

Is Alice mad, bad or a victim herself. You will have to read the book and find out.


My thanks to Orion for providing the review copy and to Tracy Fenton for the invitation to take part in the blog tour.

About the Author

Alex Michaelides was born in Cyprus to a Greek-Cypriot father and English mother. He read English at Cambridge University and received a MA in screenwriting from the American Film Institute. He wrote the film Devil You Know, starring Rosamund Pike, and co-wrote The Con is On, starring Uma Thurman and Tim Roth. The Silent Patient is his first novel.

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The Sewing Machine by Natalie Fergie |Blog Tour Extract

Published by Unbound Digital
Available in ebook and paperback (7 February 2019)
320 pages

My thanks to Anne Cater of Random Things Tours for the tour invitation. The Sewing Machine was originally published in 2017 but now has a gorgeous new cover. For my turn on the tour, I have an extract to share.

About the Book

It is 1911, and Jean is about to join the mass strike at the Singer factory. For her, nothing will be the same again.

Decades later, in Edinburgh, Connie sews coded moments of her life into a notebook, as her mother did before her.

More than 100 years after his grandmother’s sewing machine was made, Fred discovers a treasure trove of documents. His family history is laid out before him in a patchwork of unfamiliar handwriting and colourful seams.

He starts to unpick the secrets of four generations, one stitch at a time.

EXTRACT

Apprentice

Summer 2010 Edinburgh

Secrets are hidden in the fabric and creases of the old hospital. They turn up on a daily basis, but their importance is not always recognised by those who discover them.

The joinery apprentice is tired and hungry. It’s been hours since he ate his packed lunch – provided by his mother every day without fail – and he just wants to get home. Unfortunately, the foreman has other ideas and has been on his case all afternoon, giving him irritating bits and pieces of work to complete which amount to very little. The last task of the day is a perfect example of this and once again it means he is working on his own. When he thinks about all the people who died in this place it makes his skin wrinkle. He was born a stone’s throw away in the Maternity Pavilion, one of the first buildings to be torn down, but feels no loyalty to it. The rest of the site is being repurposed, transforming it from a grand Victorian infirmary into an upmarket lifestyle location stuffed with photogenic cafés and shops, and with apartments he will never be able to afford without a serious win on the lottery.The long medical wards overlooking the Meadows are being converted into flats, and glass-walled towers infill the spaces where once there were closely-mown lawns or, more recently, semi-permanent Portakabins for Clinical Chemistry and Medical Physics.

On Lauriston Place the stone buildings of the Surgical Hospital are empty. The blind-windowed turrets, which used to be home to bedpan washers and baths, are still infested with silverfish. Here, the planned renovations have barely started and the black and white chequered corridors are almost silent, no longer trafficked by trolleys and wheelchairs and the occasional high-tech bed with bleeping alarms and flurries of anxiety. The aromatic blend of morning porridge, disinfectant and visitors’ flowers has been replaced by plaster dust, and essence of decaying pigeon. In the former Orthopaedic ward, the smell is of old timber as the fittings are removed. The apprentice has been told to dismantle the small walk-in cupboard which once housed the ward telephone. It doesn’t seem like a joinery job to him – it’s more like demolition – but he doesn’t question the instruction. One of the first things he learned in this trade, before anyone even showed him how to use a chisel, is that there is no merit in being a trouble maker.

On the soundproofed wall of the booth is a printed card, barely held in place by amber Sellotape.

FIRE 3333

CARDIAC ARREST 2222

He shivers at this brutal reminder of mortality.

Just below chest height is an empty shelf, strung with disconnected telecoms cabling. He bashes the wood from below with his fist. More dust. He should be wearing a regulation face mask but it’s nearly knocking-off time and he can’t be bothered to go and get a fresh one. He puts the curved claws of his hammer into a gap in the simple frame, which has held the shelf up for fifty years, and holds his breath as he levers it downwards.The tongue-and-groove panelling creaks under his effort and then comes away suddenly, forcing him to take a step backward to evade the swords of splintering timber. He waits for any small, furry creatures to scurry away in search of a fresh hiding place. Goodness knows how the mice survive here now, he thinks. It’s not as though there’s any food for them.

He nudges the pile of debris with a steel toe-capped boot. Nothing. Mummified rodents are almost worse than live ones, but he wants to be sure and gives the mess one last scattering kick before he bends over to investigate properly. At the bottom of the heap is a Manila envelope. He picks it up and tries to read the address but the strip lights in the poorly lit corridor are broken and it’s impossible to make the words out. He abandons his half- completed task and opens the door opposite, marked Doctor’s Office.

Like the rest of the hospital, the room seems to be inhabited by new life and there is a rustle from the corner as he walks in. The tall windows are festooned with cobwebs and one of the blackout blinds is falling off its roller. He holds the envelope up to the compromised sunlight and wipes the green stamp carefully with his thumb. Twelve pence. He wonders how long ago the postage for a letter was twelve pence, and peers again at the address, trying to decipher the handwriting. As he stands there he hears the main ward door open, and he stiffens as the foreman shouts to ask if he is finished yet. He instinctively puts his hand in front of his mouth to muffle his reply and conceal his rule breaking, but decides not to respond. The last thing he needs is a health and safety lecture.

He listens until he’s sure he is alone, and then pulls out a chair and sits down at one of the desks. He sets the envelope on the surface in front of him and starts to go through the drawers, but they yield nothing more than blank sheets of paper and dried-up ballpoint pens. Disappointed, he lifts the handset of a push-button telephone and sits up straight. ‘Yes, this is the doctor speaking.’

And then he remembers his meeting with the careers advisor at school. He replaces the receiver carefully. ‘In your dreams, pal. No chance of that,’ he says.

He gets up from his seat to have a closer look at the cabinetry and the abandoned equipment. The X-ray viewer is a familiar feature of TV dramas and he walks over to investigate, flipping the switch beside it. There is a loud buzz and it flickers into life. He cannot turn it off fast enough.On the blackboard beside the door, someone has written

GOODBYE 1st MAY 2003

in white chalk. He pulls out his phone and takes a photograph of the message to show to his mum.

The envelope is still lying on the desk and he picks it up and shakes the dust off it before stashing it in one of the many pockets in his work trousers. After a final look around the room, he heads out of the ward, back along the chessboard corridor to the exit, and out into fresh air. He leaves his hammer behind, certain that he’ll be back on Monday to finish the job.

It’s not until he is sitting on the top deck of the bus that he remembers his find. It had been drummed into everyone on their first day at the hospital that all such items must be handed in at the Site Office. As he gets off the bus near his girlfriend’s flat, he sees her and shouts her name. She looks up and smiles. The red pillar box is six paces away and with barely a pause he pulls the letter out of his pocket and posts it, before running to meet her and wrapping her in his arms. It’s Friday night and the weekend is already looking good.

About the Author

Natalie Fergie is a textile enthusiast, and has spent the last ten years running a one-woman dyeing business, sending parcels of unique yarn and thread all over the world. Before this she had a career in nursing. She lives near Edinburgh.

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Apple of My Eye by Claire Allan | Blog Tour Review

Published by Avon
Available in ebook and paperback (24 January 2019)
352 pages
Source: Copy for review provided by publisher

About the Book

Just how far is a mother willing to go?

When a mysterious note arrives for seven months pregnant nurse Eliana Hughes, she begins to doubt every aspect of her life – from her mixed feelings about motherhood to her marriage to Martin, who has become distant in recent months.

As the person behind the note escalates their campaign to out Eli’s husband as a cheat, she finds herself unable to trust even her own instincts, and as pressure builds, she makes a mistake that jeopardises her entire future.

Elsewhere, someone is watching. Someone who desperately wants a baby to call their own and will go to any lengths to become a mother – and stay a mother…

My Thoughts

Eliana is nearly 7 months pregnant and it should be a happy experience. Instead she is suffering from hyperemesis and constantly being sick, can’t eat, is fearful about impending motherhood and also worrying about her husband Martin who is increasingly distant, both mentally and physically. She knows that his business is keeping him busy but even the lovely new house he had built for them doesn’t bring her joy.

When she starts receiving anonymous notes indicating that she shouldn’t trust Martin, her feelings of insecurity and fear increase.  Her job as a hospice nurse leaves her feeling tired and exhausted and the consequences of an error of judgement bring even more pressure.

The book begins with a chilling prologue by a character called Louise. It soon becomes clear that Louise is deranged with grief; she is watching and waiting and she is intent on taking something that she badly wants. 

This was such a gripping read. It made me fearful and it also made me angry.  Angry that someone felt they had the right to take something that wasn’t theirs. Whatever misfortune life throws at you, you don’t get to take what you want from someone else.

Told by Eliana (Eli), Louise and Angela, the tension is there from the first page and doesn’t let up for the entire book.  At some point I did work it out and I couldn’t wait to see if I was right but what a deliciously twisted read this was.  With characters ranging from the gullible and emotionally fragile to the manipulative and controlling, I was suspicious of everyone and trusted no-one. I did feel for Eli, I really did, her emotional state was precarious enough but all the same I did wish she would show a little backbone and stand up for herself more.

I enjoyed the author’s previous debut thriller Her Name was Rose but for me, this was even better. Drama and suspense with a dark and chilling undertone. Recommended.

My thanks to Sabah of Avon for providing the copy to review and for the tour invitation.

About the Author

Claire Allan is an International Bestselling Author from Derry in Northern Ireland.

She wrote her first novel in 2006, and Rainy Days and Tuesdays was subsequently published in 2007 and reached number 2 in the Irish Bestsellers chart. She published seven further women’s fiction books with Poolbeg Press before switching genres to crime/ domestic noir.

Her debut psychological thriller, Her Name Was Rose, was published by Avon Books, an imprint of Harper Collins, in June 2018. It has hit the bestseller charts in the UK, Australia, Canada and is a USA Today bestseller. 

A former journalist with the Derry Journal, Claire made the switch to writing full time in 2016. She is married, a mum to two kids (one of each kind) and they share their home with two cats and a dog. She considers Michael Buble to be her one true love – although she rarely talks about the time she met him, and he kissed her and she kissed him back.

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The Hunter by Andrew Reid | Blog Tour | #Giveaway #TheHunter

Published by Headline
Available in ebook and paperback (7 February 2019)
352 pages

I’m delighted to be taking part in the paperback blog tour for The Hunted. My thanks to Anne Cater of Random Things Tours for the invite. Courtesy of the publisher, I have one paperback copy to give away (sorry, but this is open to UK entrants only). Entry details are below via the Rafflecopter box, but first here’s a little about the book.

About the Book

A troubled genius who vanishes in a mysterious car crash.
A disillusioned cop sensing conspiracy in the corridors of power.
A ruthless team of mercenaries operating in the shadows.A billion-dollar business that wants the world in its grip.
One link connects them all.
A champion fighter. Betrayed and searching for the truth.

CAMERON KING IS THE HUNTER.

This high-octane, award-nominated thriller has the pulse-racing action of Terry Hayes’ I AM PILGRIMand Gregg Hurwitz’s ORPHAN X – with a hero as deadly as JASON BOURNE.

‘RAZOR-SHARP ACTION FROM START TO FINISH.’ James Swallow, bestselling author of NOMAD.

About the Author

Born in Scotland, Andrew Reid worked as a research scientist for almost a decade, on projects including DNA synthesis, forensics, and drug development. His short fiction has featured in several anthologies published by fox spirit books and his fantasy novel serial on Wattpad amassed nearly 175,000 reads. The Hunter is his debut novel.

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****GIVEAWAY****

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