The Killing Tide by Lin Anderson

Thank you to Anne Carter and Pan Macmillan for giving me the opportunity to join this blog tour. All views are my own.

Rating: 5 out of 5.

I was really excited and scared when I was presented with the opportunity to join the blog tour for Anderson‘s new novel The Killing Tide for two reasons. One, I wanted to read a Scottish novel from a Scottish author. And two, what better way to dive into Tartan Noir than with a well established series. However it was really scary to go into this book because I felt like a kid in school who hasn’t done his homework. After all, The Killing Tide is the 16th novel in the Dr Rona MacLeod series.

Cleverly written and plotted, The Killing Tide starts off with the last night of a storm. I loved this opening as it set the mood from the beginning. Having experienced storms in Scotland I almost felt that the wind was going to start knocking on my windows, that the tiles on my roof will fly away and I would be left to my own devices to face the storm.

But unlike the storms I am familiar with, the storm on Orkney Island, brings forward a drifting ship quickly identified as MV Orlova. For me as a crime fan and reader of crime fiction I thought that the ship had to be somehow linked to the overall ARC of the story however, I must applaud once again Anderson‘s brilliant plotting because I think I fallen exactly in the set-up net she has opened. Meanwhile in Glasgow, DS McNab with his partner attend what initially looks like a self-immolation but the scene tells a different story.

How are these two story lines linked? What has a ship in Orkney Islands have to do with a self-immolation in Glasgow?

Anderson is a master at twisting webs of stories with intricate details that stick under your skin and a fabulous cast of characters that all fight for the spotlight regardless of their role in the story.

The story moves at an incredible pace. I don’t know what was the last time I read a book in a sitting. Sentence after sentence and chapter after chapter I had to understand more. I needed to get to the end of the story to satisfy an itch, a curiosity. The Killing Tide is much more than a noir novel, or a crime novel. Having not read the rest of the story I was a bit reluctant because I thought that I’m not going to be able to enjoy these characters as much as the fans of the series. But to my surprise, I felt invested in these characters. In all of them, regardless of their role in the story.

Anderson doesn’t shy away in the novel to bring to the forefront difficult themes and addresses them in a great and original matter. From corruption to threats and murder every theme is explored in a tantalizing and vivid way. To a certain degree I did feel a bit bad for the characters. One of the greatest writing advice I have read when it comes to crime writing is always think ‘what’s the worst that can happen next to these characters?’. I think Anderson‘s writing really shows what this advice can do in a great setting and with a strong set of characters.

The Killing Tide is an engaging read that will keep you on the edge of your seat, filled with plot twists that some you will see coming and others not quite. I can’t really speak of it’s position in the series as I have not picked up any other books in the series yet, but I will definitely look into starting this series from the beginning.

The Killing Tide is published today by Pan Macmillan and I would encourage anyone who isn’t familiar with Lin Anderson’s books to go and grab it because it really is one of the most stellar crime-novels I read so far this year. Even if you aren’t a fan of crime novels and police procedural novels this book is a great start to get into the genre as this book is so much more than the hard-cut crime and police procedural novel.

The Basel Killings by Hansjoerg Schneider

Thank you to Anne Carter for organising this blog tour and allowing me to be a part of it. All views are my own.

Rating: 5 out of 5.

Police procedural have become a staple in the crime genre not only because they give an inside look to the everyday reader into the often romanticized police matters but because they are genuienly a joy to read. There are elements that make a police procedural great and most of these elements are being ticked off by in the debut of Schneider on the English market.

As the title gives away, the location at the centre of the story is set in Basel, Switzerland. One of the reasons why I chose to take part in this blog tour was due to the setting. I had yet to read a story set in Switzerland and when I heard it was also a police procedural I had to get my hands on it to see how the police works there.

I didn’t know in the beginning what to expect. Like all good crime novels, we are pushed straight into the story without much introduction to the characters. You are expected to carry through the story, to grow and learn to understand their feelings, and I can say it was a delightful ride. Inspector Hunkeler is the main character in the story, or better said the character through which we see the story develop. He is at the heart of an investigation and I often got the feeling that rather being inside the characters head, we are accompanying him, side by side.

With a great setting and an amazing set of characters, Schneiders sheds a light into the unglamorous life of Switzerland’s life of bars, bordellos and strip clubs.

The tone set by Schneider is I believe one of the strongest I have read in a translation fiction. Masterfully translated into English by Mike Mitchell, from the first sentence I understood that there is no way that the book I am about to read was like anything I read before. Sentences are often short, snappy and cold. Throughout the novel, the feeling for closure and coldness seeped out from the pages which in the end suited the story very very well.

With murders that seem to follow the same modus operandi the Inspector is quickly thrown into the unglamorous night life of bars and bordellos of Basel which Schneider doesn’t shy away to bring in front of the readers eyes. Some elements here reminded me a bit of the Noir elements also visited by Nesbo in his Harry Hole series, however Schneider manages to maintain a certain amount of originality. Often we don’t think about this when we think of Switzerland and I liked the juxtaposition Schneider managed to breathe inside my mind, making Switzerland feel more real.

Overall The Basel Killings is a strong debut novel which can be enjoyed by lovers of police procedurals due to the setting, by lovers of noir due to the tone and characters and lovers of thrillers due to the pacing especially towards the end of the novel. Schneider is definitely an author to keep your eyes on and I hope that Bitter Lemon Press will consider in the future continuing the translation of his future works.

The Whole Truth by Cara Hunter

Thank you to Penguin Viking Publicity Team for an advance copy of this book. All views are my own.

Rating: 5 out of 5.

There is a new case on the horizon, and this one is crazy twisted. I’ve started reading The Whole Truth by the fantastic Cara Hunter on a Tuesday. It was sunny here in Glasgow, and the sun helped me, motivated me even, to read this book in two days. Yes, two days. But it was just the sun that kept my attention engaged. It was the story as well.

When a student comes forward reporting a case of sexual abuse, the detectives of Thames Valley think they know how the story goes. Honestly, I even thought I knew where the story would go. But as the book’s hook says, I should think again. Morgan, a male student, is reporting his tutor, Marina, a very prominent figure in the University of raping him. Now, this wouldn’t necessarily have struck me as out of the ordinary. But as I turned the pages, the more twisted the story became. 

As the sexual assault and rape case is getting traction on social media, a new case is reported. A body is found by some engineers working on the rail during the night. And someone in the police force knows the victim. They are closer to him than he thinks, in fact. 

The Whole Truth stands out from the first page. Brilliant and perfectly paced, Hunter checks all the boxes for the next big detective series.

DI Adam Fawley doesn’t have the time to process that the close friend Emma Smith of his wife was the victim found on the rail. And the evidence is pointing at him as being the murderer. Everything blows up in DI Fawley’s face, and all of a sudden, he faces a lengthy prison sentence. But he swears he isn’t the murderer, even though when presented with the opportunity, he doesn’t provide us with the opportunity to see that, the readers, for ourselves.

The Whole Truth is brilliantly written, with short and snappy chapters turning the tension to the max. The subplots are interlaced with images that I found really engaging as a reader to scrutinise. Instead of the information being dumped on the paper as exposition, we get files and handwritten notes, extracts from a podcast and even screenshots of a WhatsApp group.

I’m surprised (and mad) that I didn’t know earlier of the DI Fawley series. Because I believe there were a couple of easter eggs in this novel that I could’ve appreciated more if I had read the first four books in the series before starting this. However, I’m looking forward to diving into the other four books in the series (they are ordered and are on the way) and then reenjoy this 5th instalment in the series. But disregarding the easter eggs, Hunter makes sure that anyone can read this without reading the previous books (at least I believe it was intentional rather than unintentional).

The Whole Truth is published on the 29th of May by Penguin Viking. I hope you will join me and celebrating this fantastic book, especially if you are a fan of the show Line of Duty. If you are, you have to get your hands on this series. It’s just so, so good. And twisted. Also, rights for a TV show have been sold already, and we might soon get to see Adam Fawley and the crew on screen is just brilliant. I can’t wait. 

PS. Do yourself a favour and start with Close to Home.

The Others by Sarah Blau

Thank you to Pushkin Vertigo for an advance readers copy in exchange to an honest review. All views are my own.

Rating: 5 out of 5.

The Others, translated by Daniella Zamir, is a compelling read that establishes itself from the beginning as a strong contender as one of the best books I’ve read in the month of March. Although I’m writing this review a week after I’ve read this book, Sheila’s character has not left me. She’s still in my heart as one of the most relatable and robust female characters I’ve read in a while. 

From the very first page, I got a very the strong sense of place. Although having never been to Tel Aviv, the city where this story takes place, I found that I knew the place. I don’t know if it’s because I am originally from eastern Europe, and this book is set in the east, that I related so much with the trivialities of the daily life in Tel Aviv. I could imagine myself through out the novel walking the streets, feeling the heat breathing down my neck, seeing my skin developing a tan the more pages I turned.

When I first picked up this book on Netgalley, I was sceptical due to the themes sitting at the heart of the story. Motherhood is a sensitive subject for many but what Blau manages to do in The Others is bring to life the societal pressure that many people who have, or are still living, in the East have to deal with.

Sarah Blau brings what are considered by many taboo subjects to the forefront of a crime novel that reads like an instant bestseller.

The book is mainly told Sheila’s point of view, a former member of The Others, a group created by herself whilst still in college. The Others are, for a better term, a rebellious group of four girls who want to oppose the pressures instilled by society on young girls to become mothers.

The way Blau has structurally developed the story is terrifying. Short and quick chapters snap past you as you try to assemble the puzzle while at the same time feeling the dread of the main character bleeding through the pages. This helps instil in the readers the urgency of the story and the urgency through which Sheila goes through, second-guessing her life decisions and realizing that the motherhood clock ticks inside her. And when Sheila finds herself at the heart of the investigation of the murder of a former member of The Others, she is forced to hold up a mirror to herself only to realise that a serial killer targets the members of her college group. But for what reason? And more importantly who is next?

Brilliantly paced, The Others is a one-in-a-lifetime kind of novel. For someone who hasn’t visited Israel before, never mind Tel Aviv, after reading this book, I felt that Israel should be on my bucket list of places to visit. The Others by Sarah Blau is published on the 13th of April by Pushkin Vertigo. I hope that Blau becomes a regular author translated and published by Pushkin Press as The Others reads like an instant bestseller, and I am very excited to read what she has published or will be publishing in the future.

Last Place You Look by Louisa Scarr

Thank you to Canelo Publicity Team for allowing me to read a E-ARC of this novel. All views are my own.

Rating: 5 out of 5.

While reading this book, I made a tweet, alleging that Canelo isn’t playing this year with their thrillers and crime books. It might have been a bit too cryptic but let me tell you why.

Last Place You Look starts as a police procedural crime novel and in itself, stripping aside the characters and focusing only on the narrative and the procedural crime novel aspects of this book, its already a very entertaining book. Yet when you start looking at the characters, at the structure, at how Louise Scarr is holding your hand as a reader and tells you that you should trust her cause she knows what she’s doing, that’s where this book starts to differentiate itself from other novels.

Last Place You Look by Louisa Scarr takes a very loved genre and turns it on its head, using the expectations readers have against them.

Last Place You Look is the first book in a new series and what a start it is. At the core of this novel sits a death which at first is being treated as a suicide. But nothing is as it seems in this novel. DS Robin Butler and DC Freya West are assigned on the case and here is where things get complicated. Because one of the detectives knew the dead. Well. And we’re just on page 10 of the book. Crazy right? The way Scarr writes these characters is truly mind-blowing. You don’t feel that you are reading a book about two characters. You feel like she’s telling you a story about her friends.

We learn fairly early on that both Detectives that are at the center of this investigation aren’t as righteous as they should be. DS Butler and DC West are rotten to the core and it just made me want to root for them even more. I found this to be refreshing as usually we get the protagonist and antagonist at the other sides of the spectrum. What Scarr manages to do with Last Place You Look is make the protagonist an equal antagonist, blurring the lines between good and bad.

When it comes to the death at the core of the novel, I enjoyed the way Scarr leads its reader with this confident hand through the story, telling you as the reader that you should trust her, that what she shows you is important. The end was the most surprising thing in this novel as it brought to the forefront a murder of passion. I thought that maybe it would be a boring read when I realized that there will be no other victim. Louisa Scarr however compensates with amplifying the tension to the max between her characters rather than writing action scenes that to me wouldn’t have fitted in the ending of this novel.

I can’t wait to see in which direction Louisa Scarr takes this series and can’t wait to read more about DS Butler and DC West. Last Place You Look comes out in eBook on 8th of April and in paperback on the 6th of May from Canelo and will be definitely appreciated by the lovers of the crime procedural genre but also will be enjoyed by lovers of the psychological thriller genre.

The Friend by Charlie Gallagher

Thanks to Avon UK Publicity Team for sending me an E-ARC in exchange of a honest review. All views are my own.

Rating: 5 out of 5.

What would you do if a stranger would present you with the opportunity to get revenge on the one person that ruined your life with no repercussion? Would you take the opportunity or would you question, why a stranger would give you this opportunity?

The Friend is a thrilling read, the start of a new series, in which themes of trust and the extent a person would go to obtain justice for their family collide. They say you shouldn’t judge a book by its cover but honestly the cover is something that let me down when I first saw it. Usually the cover is the first thing that captures the attention of a reader. This cover didn’t capture my attention at all. It felt generic and found myself wondering after reading the book why wouldn’t something more pragmatic from the story wouldn’t be featured on the cover. I know that cover design isn’t in the control of the author but I think that the cover would have fitted the genre and the story more if something more simplistic (a good example would be the black folder that is prominent at each scene) would have been incorporated on the cover. I can’t help but feel that the cover was a miss.

Charlie Gallagher is a name everyone should remember; The Friend is an exciting start to a new series that feels both fresh and already well established.

The story line is linear in the story, which can very easily slip into the boring side especially in this day and age when everyone is looking for something new. However what Gallagher managed to do is hide the linear story line behind strong characters which step to the forefront of the story. The multiple POV’s which weren’t usually the standard protagonist POV’s allows the readers to experience the events of a twisted game played by a stranger through a new lens.

I mentioned that the characterization is strong in The Friend. And I stand by that. Gallagher manages to breathe a breath of fresh air into them by making them unexpected. DI Joel Norris is the perfect example for this. As a crime series reader, I got so used of seeing ‘the-broken-detective’ trope that when Gallagher actually brings to the forefront a DI that is married and has a somewhat functional relationship with his wife, it feels totally unexpected and enjoyable, giving room for the flawed characters to sit into the normal people that actually go through the horrendous experience of meeting and playing the revenge game.

What is the revenge game you ask? Well it’s actually such a simple idea but so effective. You get yourself a stranger that promises you justice with no repercussion what-so-ever. Then you get a choice. Will you take justice into your own two hands or will you let justice take it’s own course? I don’t want to give away to much of the plot in this review because the excellence of this novel sits in the plot.

Charlie Gallagher is a name everyone should remember; The Friend is an exciting start to a new start to a series that feels both fresh but also already well established. I haven’t gotten yet the chance to read the Maddie Ives series or the Langthorne series but if they are anything close to The Friend then I can’t wait to dive into them when I start to feel my Gallagher withdrawal kick in.

Best of February 2021

Although February has long been and gone I wanted to still make a post about the best books that I’ve managed to read in February. However please bear in mind that although some full reviews might still be pending and will shortly appear on the blog, the criteria for me to include books in a “Best of” is that the books have been read in that particular month.

Without further ado, here are the top 3 books I’ve read in February.

3rd Place – Good Samaritans by Will Carver

Will Carver is one of the best Noir writers (if not the best Noir writers in the UK) and it’s no secret that I’m a huge fan of him and his writing.

Good Samaritans by Will Carver is plotted to perfection, the pacing is marvelous and the twists are at every corner. I gasped out loud when I read this book because it swallowed me whole and by the time I came out on the other side, I didn’t know what to do with myself.

Good Samaritans came out in 2018 published by Orenda Books and is really really worth checking out. This can be ordered wherever you shop for books.

Carver has also a new novel coming out this year with Orenda Books called The Beresford which I can’t wait to read before I get Will Carver Withdrawal.

2nd Place – The Friend by Charlie Gallagher

The Friend was the first book I read by Charlie Gallagher. Shame on me as he is a brilliant author who managed to grip me with this novel.

I’m not going to go into many details about the plot and characters because the novel is coming out very very soon and I can’t wait to be able to speak with people about the brilliance of this novel.

Gallagher will definitely be one of the authors I’m going to follow when it comes to Police Procedural novels.

The Friend comes out on 01/04/2021 from Avon Books and can be pre-ordered everywhere good books are sold.

1st Place – The Last House on Needless Street by Catriona Ward

Gosh, I loved this book. The way Catriona Ward writes just so enthralling and refreshing. The Last House on Needless Street is the type of book that you have to cancel your plans for the day and prepare yourself for a ride.

The multi-layered plot is brilliantly executed because there are red herrings peppered through it. Ward plays a fair game, giving you enough hints for you to be able to figure out the mystery at it’s heart but because her descriptions are so vivid I wasn’t able to guess in advance the plot twist.

I wouldn’t be surprised if The Last House on Needless Street will be considered the epitome of gothic and even psychological thrillers of this decade.

The Last House on Needless Street is out today, 18/03/2021 from Viper Books and can be bought everywhere good books are sold.

March has been as amazing as February so far and I have a few other highly anticipated reads lined up for this month which I know will give me trouble to make the Best of March. Nonetheless, keep on reading <3.

If I Fall by Merilyn Davies

An Arc was sent to us by the publisher in exchange for an honest review of this book. Thank you to Arrow Publicity team for allowing us to read this and review it.

Rating: 5 out of 5.

What would you do if you were invited to a reunion with your group of friends from university? Would you go without questioning who is actually inviting you? Or would you try to understand why the one person you don’t want to have come to the party has been invited?

This is how the story starts. Four friends with one terrible secret, reunited at a rooftop bar. But they weren’t the only ones that have been invited. The fifth person invited is the one that dies that night.

The story is told from two main point of views, Carla Brown—a crime analyst and DS Nell Jackson. I liked the fact that it wasn’t the typical police duo and that Davies included a crime analyst into the mix, which made the story refreshing to me. And of course, typical for me and the books I pick up to read, regardless sent by publishers or I buy myself, If I Fall is the second book in the series.

If I Fall is a strong contender to be one of my favourite crime novels of all time. Davies being one of the first writers threatening my Nesbo pedestal.

Although it was the second book in a series, If I Fall is executed masterfully, not giving too much away from the first novel in the series. Whether intentional or not, Davies manages to conjure a stand-alone feeling around the novel without pushing the readers into a corner for not picking up the series in order.

In itself the novel is dark. The themes and representation in this novel are stellar and for once I felt refreshed on the take Davies brings to the typical police procedural. I instantly fell in love with both Carla and DS Nell Jackson; both being very strong characters, which I think is needed for a long lasting series.

Davies doesn’t shy away to bring into the mix of themes that are being tackled throughout the novel religion and sexuality. Although it isn’t necessarily the first time it is being written about, I thoroughly enjoyed the authors point of view and how she represented the LGBTQIA+ community in the novel as well as diving deeper into the aspect of conversation therapy.

I was shocked when I finished the book at how enjoyable and unputdownable it was. It simply took me by surprise and am happy now to say that I have found my next best crime author. Davies is definitely an author to watch in the crime genre as she brings a refreshing take to the staple that has now become the police procedural, giving it a new air to breath. I can’t wait to read what she will publish next and will definitely check out her first novel in the Carla Brown and DS Nell Jackson series WHEN I LOST YOU.

Merilyn Davies is a stellar example that there is no genre that has been overdone, making her in my opinion a true contender to my personal all times favourite crime author Jo Nesbo.

Whisper Island by Carissa Ann Lynch

An Arc was sent to us by the publisher in exchange for an honest review of this book. Thank you to One More Chapter Publicity team for allowing us to read this and review it.

Rating: 4 out of 5.

What would you do if all your friends invite you to go for a trip on a secluded island? Would you give in to the peer pressure and accept to go? Why wouldn’t you since you can live there rent free, since one of your friends friend owns the place. After all you don’t know yet that soon one of your friends will end up dead…

Whisper Island by Carissa Ann Lynch was thoroughly enjoyable. The writing is snappy, the chapters are short, the viewpoints are plentiful and the premise is promising.

I admit it, I was some what sceptical when I started reading it. Something about the story didn’t add up and felt at times that this might be a book in a series, as there were references to characters pasts that wouldn’t be revealed until later on. After realising that it was a writing style choice, of hinting at something obivous in the characters pasts that would later on come in to play, I understood that I was overthinking it.

Carissa Ann Lynch is a master at tone and setting, placing the right words in the right place.

Whisper Island has a straightforward plot. Friends gather on an island to stay there rent-free for how long they want to, to work on their art. Then suddenly one of them ends up dead. Something about the plot felt very Agatha Christie-esque to me and I couldn’t help but make the connection to ‘And then there were none’.

Although it reads as a cozy mystery at times, Whisper Island tackles the theme of revenge and I think that it does so well enough to be enjoyable. Carissa Ann Lynch is in my mind a prolific author, having published over nine mystery novels, finished two series and contributed to two anthologies. Because of this, I was expecting a bit more. The story is fairly linear and we follow the POV of different characters—which added a layer of complexity to the story but left me craving for more.

I have enjoyed reading Whisper Island but I also think that it would have been a 5 star rating if we could have seen Mia’s past rather then be told about it as it would increased the tension and the stakes in the story. In conjunction with this same would be applicable to Riley’s background. It would have added a layer of ‘i-wonder-what-will-happen-next’ that I found the story was lacking towards the end.

The pacing is great, as it should be for a thriller. Characters were defined and fleshed out enough to know who was who from the start however would have loved the conflict in between the characters to be introduced earlier on so that when we get to the middle of the novel the reader can anticipate something wrong will happen rather than rely fully on the tone and setting.

Speaking of tone and setting, I think Carissa Ann Lynch is doing an amazing job of choosing her words carefully adding a layer of flair in her tonality and characters voice. She crafts setting with ease, in a few sentences, without going to much into unnecessary details and strikes a perfect balance between underwriting and overwriting.

Whisper Island is perfect for anyone looking for a quickly paced thriller that can be read in one sitting with a good premise, good tone and setting and a great twist at the end. I would recommend it to newer people to the genre that want to see what a mystery thriller is and how enjoyable it can be.

Whisper Island is coming out 5th of February 2021 from One More Chapter in the UK which with this new addition are setting themselves up as an engrossing, thrilling and definitely to watch out for Imprint in the thriller genre.

The Silent Suspect by Nell Pattison

Rating: 5 out of 5.

I’ve received an Advanced Reader Copy (also known as ARC) from the publisher Avon to read The Silent Suspect and just let me tell you that a part of me was ecstatic.

Some people choose their books as an automatic purchase depending on the author. I know this because I do it as well. However for some time now Avon had made its way into my shelf. It wasn’t something that I had done consciously but the type of crime thrillers they publish are just so engrossing.

The first book I read that was published by them was by Helen Fields in the DI Callanach series. I still remember devouring the first book and wondering how I had never heard about Helen Fields.

The same thing happened now with Nell Pattison. The Silent Suspect is actually the third book in the Paige Northwood series—a series I hadn’t heard about before. Hence I am starting now to include on the very small list of authors that I consider as an automatic purchase the publisher Avon.

I’m a bit furious at my reading friends because they haven’t actually recommended this to me before. Because let me tell you this is one of the best thriller books I’ve read in a long time.

Paige Northwood is a natural successor to Harry Hole

I usually compare thrillers with other writers/books I loved. The Silent Suspect has the perfect mix in my opinion of character development and story. Although I couldn’t really appreciate the full development of recurrent characters, I was still intrigued and had to finish the book in one sitting.

There aren’t many thriller books in my opinion that manage to achieve what The Silent Suspect does. It has enough of crime elements without to overwhelm the reader with police procedures as we follow a protagonist that is not a police agent. Paige Northwood is a BSL Interpreter for the council (and although it is hinted at her having worked with the police in the past which only intrigued me more and makes me want to read the previous two books in the series) I was invested from the first pages. She comes of as a reliable narrator, the majority of the book being told from her perspective as she is dragged into the scene of a burning house by a frantic client of her friend.

I would recommend the Paige Northwood to be read in order because I believe that Nell Pattison is an exquisite writer. I will go check out her previous two books The Silent House and Silent Night because Paige Northwood is one of the contenders to my all time favourite protagonist in a crime thriller series Harry Hole (followed closely by DI Callanach).

The Silent Suspect is out on 29th of April 2021 which allows sufficient time for readers to enjoy the first two books in the series (not that 3 months would be needed to read the first two books in the series).

Thank you to Avon for providing me with another loveable protagonist, an advance copy of the novel and finally another series that I will have to keep my eye on when it comes to crime thriller novels.