Self published (7 May 2018)

256 pages

Source: ARC review copy



Welcome to my turn on the blog tour for No Remorse.  My thanks to Caroline Vincent of Bits About Books for the tour invite and for the ARC to review.  Before my review, here’s what the book is about.

 

|   About the Book   |

 

An old man dead. Dementia or murder? Threats won’t stop Kent Fisher from finding out.

At luxury retirement home, Nightingales, appearance matters more than the truth. But what is the truth? Was Anthony Trimble killed as he predicted? If so, who wanted him out of the way, and why?

Kent puzzles over the only clue Trimble left him. Do the numbers come from a takeaway menu or are they a mysterious code that could reveal his darkest secret?

As Kent digs deep, people start dying.

Will Kent win the race to discover the truth, or become the next victim?

Inspired by Agatha Christie and Sue Grafton, Robert Crouch brings a fresh voice and a new twist to the traditional murder mystery.

 

|   My Thoughts   |

 

“They’re killing me.  They know who I am but they’ll never learn my secret”

Having been on the previous blog tour for No Bodies (book no. 2 in this series – reviewed here), and when invited to take part in a tour for the next book in the series, I couldn’t say no – I enjoyed the previous story about amateur sleuth Kent Fisher and was keen to see what his next adventure would be.

In his latest outing, Kent’s Food and Safety team have been merged with Pollution Control.  They are not immune to budget cuts and staff shortages and with his colleague Gemma moving departments, Kent and his team are struggling.  Not the best time for him to get involved with a possible murder then.  This time he has a care home in his sights. Nightingales is a very expensive care home and Kent’s initial involvement comes when he takes his terrier Columbo to the home for Pets as Therapy sessions.  He meets an elderly resident, 87 year old Anthony Trimble who passes on a troubling message. Shortly afterwards Trimble is dead.

Kent’s interest in Trimble and Nightingales is piqued when he feels he is being led a dance by the formidable care home manager Miss Rudolf. Kent suspects that the home are swindling their residents out of their financial assets however his requests to view information and inspection records are rebuffed.  Miss Rudolf seems to be all seeing and all knowing and Kent is convinced he is being followed.

Kent’s love life is as complicated as ever, with both Gemma and Louise Watson, a receptionist at Nightingales vying for his attention. Louise is useful to him for information but is his heart really with Gemma – despite her forthcoming marriage to someone else?  This book has confirmed my feelings about Gemma.  I really do not like her and I would be quite pleased to see her out of the picture.

No Remorse is a well written mystery that intrigues and entertains.  There are a lot of characters involved and I have to admit to occasionally becoming slightly confused as to their connection but all did become clear eventually (I think!).  No Remorse is the third in the series so there is a continuation from previous books with regard to the characters although you could possibly read this as a standalone as some background information is provided.

The author’s experience of his former occupation in environmental health together with his detailed descriptions of the book’s setting in the South Downs gives a feeling of authenticity.  I have no idea whether the road numbers or landmarks are fictionalised for the purposes of the story but nevertheless it felt convincing.

One thing that I particularly enjoy about this series is the humour.  If you’re looking for a light hearted and entertaining mystery with deaths and danger aplenty then check out this series. I don’t know if there will be a further book in this series, but I do hope so!

 

 

 

|   Author Bio  |

With more baggage than an airport carousel, amateur detective, Kent Fisher, should appeal to readers looking for an alternative to the usual crime procedural and private detective novels.

Robert Crouch blends his extensive experience as an environmental health officer with inspiration from Sue Grafton, Agatha Christie and Peter James to offer a fresh interpretation of the traditional murder mystery novel.

If you’re partial to a baffling whodunit with a complex twisting plot, engaging characters and a unique amateur detective, the Kent Fisher mysteries may be just what you’re looking for.

Now writing full time, Robert lives with his wife and their West Highland white terrier in Eastbourne. Together they enjoy reading, running and roaming the South Downs and beautiful countryside of the UK.

For monthly updates, offers and insights, you can sign up to the Kent Fisher Reader Group at http://robertcrouch.co.uk.

 

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Published by HarperCollins

Ebook (14 May 2018) |  Hardback (17 May 2018)  |  Paperback (21 February 2019)

384 pages



 

|   About the Book   |

 

‘Cross my heart and hope to die…’

Promises only last if you trust each other, but what if one of you is hiding something?

A secret no one could ever guess.

Someone is living a lie.

Is it Lisa?

Maybe it’s her daughter, Ava.

Or could it be her best friend, Marilyn?

 

|   My Thoughts   |

 

My thanks to Jaime at Harper Collins for the paperback copy to review.

Having read and enjoyed Behind Her Eyes (reviewed here) I was very much looking forward to reading Cross Her Heart and was absolutely delighted to receive a proof copy from Harper Collins.

The chilling prologue sets the scene and I had expectations of what was to come. With a timeline moving between Now, Before, and After and comprising of a multiple narrative, the story has those short chapters which I love and it didn’t take long to be completely immersed in the story. It was a book that I devoured in a couple of days (such a shame I had to go to work!)

We all know the dangers of social media and that not everybody is who they seem and the dangers of communicating in this way together with secrets from the past are the focus of the story – the twists and turns of the plot really did keep me wondering.  The first part of the story has a slower pace whilst we are introduced to the characters but that was fine. I was getting into it and expecting it to go in a certain direction when suddenly *wham* I was jolted out of my complacency; the story turned completely on its head and made me reassess everything.  My brain was spinning by each new revelation and although I had worked out part of the reveal before the end, I was still in for a surprise.

Lisa did a very good job as a single mother but she had an anxious personality and her over-protectiveness towards her 16 year old daughter Ava would have been overwhelming and restrictive for any teenager. Ava felt resentful of her mother’s interference when she just wanted to hang out with friends and have fun; she started asserting her independence and became secretive. Lisa’s friend and work colleague Marilyn is hiding something  – it didn’t take long to realise what this was although I couldn’t help wondering if that was the only secret she had.

Sarah Pinborough’s previous book, Behind Her Eyes, divided opinion with its #WTFthatending. I loved it because it was so different but for those who prefer a more traditional thriller, they may find that Cross Her Heart ticks more boxes.

The author has written another unsettling story filled with shocks and surprises. Suspenseful, twisted and gripping. Pick any word! I really enjoyed this and would definitely recommend it.

 

I was lucky enough to be selected back in March at Harper Collins HQ for a Readers First discussion for both Cross Her Heart and Behind Her Eyes. We had all been asked to read both books so that we could discuss. There were about 8 of us there plus HC and it was extremely interesting hearing how books are marketed and how much thought is put into covers and in particular finding out other’s opinions on these two books of Sarah’s and how they differed.

 

|   Author Bio   |

 

Sunday Times No.1 bestseller Sarah Pinborough is a critically acclaimed, award-winning, adult and YA author. She is also a screenwriter who has written for the BBC and has several original television projects in development.

 

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Published by Trapeze (27 July 2017)

Available to buy in ebook and paperback

384 pages

Source: Netgalley/My own purchased copy



 

|   About the Book   |

 

A twisty psychological thriller about sibling rivalry for fans of FRIEND REQUEST by Laura Marshall, CLOSE TO HOME by Cara Hunter, and THE GUILTY WIFE by Elle Croft.

After sixteen years apart sisters Jessica and Emily are reunited. With the past now behind them, the warmth they once shared quickly returns and before long Jess has moved into Emily’s comfortable island home. Life couldn’t be better. But when baby Daisy disappears while in Jess’s care, the perfect life Emily has so carefully built starts to fall apart.

Was Emily right to trust her sister after everything that happened before?

If you like Clare Mackintosh, Katie Marsh, Kerry Fisher, Jenny Blackhurst, Rachel Abbott, Laura Marshall, Elle Croft, Cara Hunter or Lisa Jewell then you will be utterly gripped by this psychological thriller with a shocking sting in the tale.

 

|  My Thoughts    |

 

Set on the Isle of Wight, Little Sister is a deliciously twisty slow burner of a thriller following the disappearance of baby Daisy. The main characters are Emily and her younger sister Jess, both very different in character – one can be spiteful and deceitful, the other needy and a little unstable. Jess was once estranged from her sister Emily, but following their mothers death, she has returned to make her home with Emily and her family. Something major has happened in the past to separate them, but does this have any bearing on Daisy’s disappearance one New Year’s Eve whilst in Jess’ care?

Who has taken baby Daisy from her home? Quite honestly it could have been anyone. Everyone, and I mean everyone, has a secret to hide and it’s impossible to know who to trust. Just when you think you have worked it out, another curve ball appears to throw you off balance and those doubts reappear.  The story focuses on the family in the aftermath of the disappearance and how each of them deals with the trauma. To outsiders, Emily and her husband have the perfect family. But looks can be deceiving.

With shocking revelations and a reveal that came as a complete surprise this is a great read and one which I very much enjoyed. The setting of the small Island gives a slightly claustrophobic feel to the story and as a regular visitor, I could easily visualise the locations mentioned. I do have a copy of Isabel’s latest book, Beautiful Liars to read which I am looking forward to.

 

|   Author Bio   |

Dark, compelling and beautifully twisty … have you read Isabel yet? In its first three weeks, LITTLE SISTER reached #4 in Amazon UK’s Hot New Crime, Thrillers & Mystery Releases. Isabel’s next psychological thriller BEAUTIFUL LIARS is available on pre-order and is due for release April 2018 (Orion/Trapeze).

Isabel Ashdown was born in London and grew up on the Sussex coast. Her award-winning debut GLASSHOPPER (Myriad, 2009) was twice named as one of the best books of the year, and she now writes full-time, walks daily, and volunteers in a local school for the charity Pets as Therapy. She is currently a Royal Literary Fund Fellow at the University of Chichester.

 

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Published by Orenda Books

Available to buy in ebook (28 February 2018) and to order in paperback (22 May 2018)

215 pages

Source: Review copy provided by publisher



Welcome to my day co-hosting the blog tour for Fault Lines.  My thanks to Orenda Books for the paperback copy to review and to Anne Cater of Random Things Tours for the blog tour invitation.

 

|   About the Book   |

 

Brilliantly constructed speculative crime fiction
A classic whodunit
Dark psychological suspense

Doug Johnstone returns with his most explosive and original thriller yet…

A little lie … a seismic secret … and the cracks are beginning to show…

In a reimagined contemporary Edinburgh, where a tectonic fault has opened up to produce a new volcano in the Firth of Forth, and where tremors are an everyday occurrence, volcanologist Surtsey makes a shocking discovery.

On a clandestine trip to new volcanic island The Inch, to meet Tom, her lover and her boss, she finds his lifeless body, and makes the fatal decision to keep their affair, and her discovery, a secret. Desperate to know how he died, but also terrified she’ll be exposed, Surtsey’s life quickly spirals into a nightmare when someone makes contact – someone who claims to know what she’s done…

 

|   Review   |

 

Who knew that volcanos could be so intriguing. In Fault Lines, our protagonist Surtsey Mackenzie, a young volcanologist is having an affair with her older and married boss Tom. When one night she heads across the water to a volcanic island situated in the Forth of Firth named The Inch, she is expecting a passionate tryst. However instead she finds his dead body – and this is where the story darkens and her life implodes.

They thought they had kept their affair a secret but somebody knows and is sending cryptic disturbing texts to Surtsey. If she goes to the police she could implicate herself in his death but if she says nothing she is forever looking over her shoulder, wondering who is threatening her and who she can trust.

Dealing with Tom’s death is not the only trauma in her life. Her mother Louise, also a volcanologist, is dying of cancer in a local hospice. Iona, Surtsey’s sister, seems not to care and is of no support at all and their relationship seems to be at breaking point.

Fault Lines is a slow burner of a thriller and quite short too, at a mere 215 pages. However every page contains a devilishly detailed plot with characters and dialogue that is both realistic and convincing, leading to a tense and dramatic climax. I didn’t find all the characters likeable and there were some that I never trusted however that didn’t matter at all. Surtsey wasn’t always my cup of tea; I don’t have much in common with someone who cheats on her boyfriend, gets stoned smoking pot and drinks themselves into a stupor. I did however like her spunky attitude and found myself rooting for her and cheering her on, particularly in her dealings with one quite obnoxious police inspector.

Set against an re-imagined Edinburgh with earth tremors constantly unsettling its residents, Fault Lines is a very different dark and compelling thriller with past secrets having an impact upon the present. I have to admit that some of the science about volcanic eruptions went over my head but this didn’t stop me enjoying this very accomplished thriller.

Doug Johnstone is an author new to me but I wouldn’t hesitate to pick up another of his books.

 

At the time of this post, Fault Lines can be downloaded from Amazon UK for just 99p

 

 

|   Author Bio   |

Doug Johnstone is an author, journalist and musician based in Edinburgh. He’s had eight novels published, most recently Crash Land. His previous novel, The Jump, was a finalist for the McIlvanney Prize for Scottish Crime Novel of the Year. Doug is also a Royal Literary Fund Consultant Fellow. He’s worked as an RLF Fellow at Queen Margaret University, taught creative writing at Strathclyde University and been Writer in Residence at Strathclyde University and William Purves Funeral Directors. He mentors and assesses manuscripts for The Literary Consultancy and regularly tutors at Moniack Mhor writing retreat. Doug has released seven albums in various bands, reviews books for the Big Issue, is player-manager for Scotland Writers Football Club, plays drums for the Fun Lovin’ Crime Writers band, and has a PhD in nuclear physics.

 

 

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Published by Faber & Faber

Paperback (3 May 2018)

400 pages



Welcome to my turn hosting the publisher blog tour for Escape and Evasion. My thanks to Josh of Faber & Faber for the invitation and to Christopher Wakling for the answers to my Q&A.

 

Q&A

 

It’s a pleasure to welcome you to the blog Christopher, would you please tell us a little about your background?

Thanks for having me. I started out as an English student, then read law and worked in the City as a litigator for a few years, before turning to writing to full time – a while ago now. I’ve since written seven novels and a fair bit of travel journalism. I teach creative writing for Curtis Brown Creative and The Arvon Foundation, and have been a Royal Literary Fund Fellow at UWE and Bristol University. I live in Bristol with my family and a cat. It has no tail. What else? I think that’s enough.

Without giving away too much information, can you please tell us a little about your latest novel, Escape and Evasion? Where did the inspiration for the story come from?

ESCAPE AND EVASION is the story of a banker, Joseph Ashcroft, who robs his own bank of $1.34 billion, gives it away electronically to strangers worldwide, and flees. The story answers two questions: why did he do this, and does he get away with it? Sounds like a thriller, but really it’s a comedy about masculinity, materialism, and the pull of family. Where did the story come from? A strange desire to humanise the cartoon villain of a banker – they’re as ridiculous as the rest of us – and the idea of an incompetent Ray Mears / Bear Grylls figure hiding out in a hole in the woods.

You’ve written several books, from historical mystery to general fiction. Do you have a preferred genre for writing?

No. Without planning it, I’ve simply tackled subjects that interest me through genres that seem appropriate to the particular story. That’s what genre is for, in my opinion. It sets up expectations for the writer to play with, stretching and satisfying the reader by turn.

How did you plan/research your books? Do you plot in detail or just see where the story takes you?

I like research. It’s endless, though. I tend to know something of the subjects I tackle before I start – that’s why they interest me, probably. Then I do enough research to get going, generally in an organic (disorganised) way, through travel, talking to people, the internet, and books. Once I’ve begun writing I work out more of what I need to know as I go along. The big problem with research is avoiding the temptation of putting it all in the book. As for plotting, I generally have a strong sense of where a story starts, a pretty good idea of where it’s going to end, and ideas for key scenes and happenings in the middle, but I don’t plot the whole thing out in detail before I write. I did so once, and then the writing felt like painting by numbers. Having no plan at all would be disastrous, though. I never believe writers who claim they make it all up as they go. That said, there’s alchemy in storytelling; I enjoy it when whatever I’m writing takes an unexpected turn.

What is the best writing advice that you have received? And what advice would you give to anyone trying to get their novel published? Is there anything that you wished you had done differently?

I give out lots of writing advice: as a creative writing tutor I’ve worked with hundreds of students over the last fifteen years. To date twenty-eight of my former students have mainstream publishing deals, and I’m very proud of that. So my advice to anyone wanting to get published would be to come on one of my courses. But honestly, the most important advice I dish out when teaching is horribly obvious stuff: it’s read, and write, lots. Everyone expects a musician to practise, an artist to keep sketch books, a swimmer to do some lengths, and so on. But there’s this batshit crazy idea that writing is all about waiting for inspiration to strike. You’re not a writer unless you’re writing. Sometimes I hear myself spouting this stuff and remember it applies to me as much as anyone else. Read, and write. That’s the most important writing advice I’ve been given, by myself.

Is there any part of the writing process which you enjoy (or find the most difficult) – i.e. researching, writing, editing?

The most enjoyable part of the writing process for me is reaching the end of a scene, or chapter, or even a first draft, then reading back over what I’ve written and thinking hey, that’s not bad. And the most difficult part of the writing process for me is reading the same scene or chapter or draft the following day, and realising I was wrong.

Are there any authors whose books have made an impact on you? What type of book do you enjoy reading for pleasure, and what are you reading now?

Many authors’ books have made an impact on me, of course. My favourites include Beryl Bainbridge and Paul Auster and Justin Cartwright and Anne Tyler and George Saunders and William Faulkner and Tobias Wolff and Magnus Mills and Annie Proulx and the list goes on. Right now I’m reading EXIT WEST by Mohsin Hamid. It’s very good.

Do you read your own reviews?

Yes. Not slavishly, but I’m always curious. They’ve made me swell with pride and shrink with shame. Either way, I try to shut the newspaper / laptop quickly and do something else sooner rather than later. The best way to accommodate reviews?: write some more.

Is there anything that you wouldn’t write about?

No. Though there’s the minefield of cultural appropriation to navigate, I think it’s a writer’s job / right / duty to give difficult subjects a go. There are obviously topics I’m less interested in, or might instinctively steer clear of, but I can’t think of any off the top of my head.

When you’re not working or writing, what do you do to relax?

I go mountain biking, alone or with friends. It stretches and frightens and takes my mind of things all at the same time. And I read, which is half-work-all-pleasure. Also Netflix, the pub, ferrying my kids about, normal stuff.

Finally

If you could only keep 3 books on your bookshelf, which ones would it be and why

I’m going to exert my right to remain silent here. It’s too hard a question. The Bible, Shakespeare’s Collected Works, my kids’ diaries. What am I supposed to say?!

 

|   About the Book   |

 

City banker Joseph Ashcroft has stolen £1.34 billion from his own bank.

He has given it – untraceably – to impoverished strangers worldwide, and has fled.

Why has he done this? And will he get away with it?

Joseph knows that if he leaves the country, he will easily be tracked down. So he opts for hiding close by – first in the city, then in the woods near the home of his estranged family. An ex-soldier, he’s adept at the art of camouflage.

On Joseph’s trail is Ben Lancaster, the bank’s head of security and, as it happens, a former army friend with whom he shares a violent, guilt-ridden past.

The hunt is on.

Escape and Evasion is a tragicomic tale of buried secrets, the lengths a man will go to win back those he loves, and the fallout from a monumental change of heart.

 

 

|   Author Bio   |

Christopher Wakling is a novelist and travel writer whose previous books include On Cape Three Points, The Undertow and Towards the Sun.

Born in 1970, he was educated at Oxford, and has worked as a teacher and lawyer. He lives in Bristol with his wife and children.

 

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