Friday, 21 September 2018

The Proposal by SE Lynes @SELynesAuthor @bookouture Blog Tour #TheProposal




‘The first thing you should know, dear reader, is that I am dead…’Teacher Pippa wants a second chance. Recently divorced and unhappy at work, she uproots her life to renovate a beautiful farmhouse in the countryside, determined to make a fresh start. But Pippa soon realises: your troubles are never far behind.
When Pippa meets blue-eyed Ryan Marks, he is funny, charming, and haunted by his past. He might just be the answer to all her problems. But how well does she really know him?
She knows the story of his life, the pain that stays with him, the warmth of his smile and the smell of his skin. She knows he can make her laugh over a glass of wine.
Pippa can tell truth from lies. She’d know if she were in danger. Wouldn’t she?
From Amazon chart bestseller S.E. Lynes, The Proposal is a page-turning and utterly gripping thriller about the lengths we will go to for someone we love. Perfect for fans of Gone Girl, The Woman in the Window and The Wife Between Us.




The Proposal by S E Lynes is published by Bookouture on 18 September 2018, my thanks to the publisher who sent my copy for review and invited me to take part on this Blog Tour.

The Blog Tour begins today and I'm delighted to share the opening day with Sharon from Chapter in My Life and Jill from On The Shelf Reviews - please do check out all of the slots on the tour, which runs until 25 September.


So, where to start?  This is a crazy, roller-coaster ride of a read. I was exhausted by the final chapters, but oh my goodness, it's such an entertaining and carefully thought out story.

It's fair to say that I'm a huge fan of the the unlikeable narrator, and Pippa Gate is one of the most complicated, confusing and sometimes really annoying characters that I've come across in a long while.

The story is quite complex, narrated in different forms; Pippa's personal journal, entries from a blog and a few excerpts from an audio tape. I won't lie, it did take me a while to sort these out in my head, but once I'd figured them out, I soon settled into the story.

Pippa is a teacher, she's also an author and is struggling to meet the deadline for her latest novel. She has no idea what to write, she thinks about watching the news for inspiration but is saved by a caller at the front door. Enter Ryan, an ex-con who is trying to get his life together by selling cleaning products door-to-door. Pippa is curious about Ryan; he doesn't seem like your average offender. He is articulate and interesting and she's certain that he has a story. It's not long before she's handed over £200 in return for Ryan's story.

To write any more about the actual storyline would give too much away, so I won't. What I will say is that The Proposal was a bit of a jaw-dropper. I love the author's writing style, it's very modern with a dry humour that runs throughout, and to be honest, a few laughs were needed to offset all of the breath-holding and gasping that I did.

Expect the unexpected when you read The Proposal; it's not what I expected at all, and has been a really pleasant surprise. Do make sure that you read right through to the end, don't miss the 'Letter From The Editor' right at the end, it's a superb final touch and made me smile in wonder and genuine admiration for the author.







S E Lynes lives in Middlesex with her husband, three kids and her dog, Lola. A former BBC producer, creative writing tutor for ten years, Susie now writes full time and does occasional mentoring. 

After graduating from Leeds University with a BA Hons in French and Spanish, she thought it was about time she got the hang of her own language. But it wasn't until she lived in Rome when her first two children were little that she had time to focus on writing creatively. After the birth of her third child and upon her return to the UK, she completed an MA in creative writing from Kingston University. Her debut, VALENTINA, was published by Blackbird Digital Books in July 2016 https://www.blackbird-books.com/ In August 2018, VALENTINA will be published in a new edition by Bookouture http://www.bookouture.com/

Susie Lynes has also published two children's books in Italy: Il Leopardo Lampo and La Coccodrilla Ingamba, both available at Amazon.it

Find her on:
Facebook 
Twitter @SELynesAuthor




Thursday, 20 September 2018

Baxter's Requiem by Matthew Crow @CorsairBooks @LittleBrownUK @BrooDoherty @hayleycamis #BaxtersRequiem



Let me tell you a story, about a man I knew, and a man I know...
Mr Baxter is ninety-four years old when he falls down his staircase and grudgingly finds himself resident at Melrose Gardens Retirement Home.
Baxter is many things - raconteur, retired music teacher, rabble-rouser, bon viveur - but 'good patient' he is not. He had every intention of living his twilight years with wine, music and revelry; not tea, telly and Tramadol. Indeed, Melrose Gardens is his worst nightmare - until he meets Gregory.
At only nineteen years of age, Greg has suffered a loss so heavy that he is in danger of giving up on life before he even gets going.
Determined to save the boy, Baxter decides to enlist his help on a mission to pay tribute to his long-lost love, Thomas: the man with whom he found true happiness; the man he waved off to fight in a senseless war; the man who never returned. The best man he ever knew.
With Gregory in tow Baxter sets out on a spirited escape from Melrose, bound for the war graves of Northern France. As Baxter shares his memories, the boy starts to see that life need not be a matter of mere endurance; that the world is huge and beautiful; that kindness is strength; and that the only way to honour the dead, is to live.
Baxter's Requiem is a glorious celebration of life, love and seizing every last second we have while we're here.


Baxter's Requiem by Matthew Crow was published by Corsair on 6 September 2018, my thanks to the publisher who sent my copy for review.

There are certain books that I proudly display on my 'keeper' shelf, and Matthew Crow's 'In Bloom' is one of those. I read and reviewed it here on Random Things way back in September 2013 and I've bought many copies since then. I also have a special place in my heart for  his novel 'Another Place' which I read and reviewed in 2017.

I was delighted to hear that Crow had published Baxter's Requiem, it seems like a very long time since I've read him. I have not been disappointed. Yet again, this young talented author has stolen my heart, taken my breath away, and left me in tears. This is a truly exquisite story, and I've already cleared a space on my shelf, this one is not leaving the house!

Mr Baxter is ninety-four years old. He has all of his faculties intact, he's bright and funny, and dry witted. He's also fallen down the stairs, and until he's properly back on his feet, he's taken a place at Melrose Gardens Retirement Home.

Mr Baxter is not the best of patients. He's used to living his life just as he wants to. With music and wine and fine food and the company of his friends. He doesn't have a partner, or children and has plenty of money. Melrose Gardens has never had a patient quite like Baxter before.

Baxter doesn't give his affection away freely. He's sharp tongued and is nobody's fool, but when he meets nineteen-year old Greg, he sees something in him that he thinks that he can fix. Greg has given up on life. He lives with his father who spends his time either working, or drunk. Greg used to be the best at everything; he was a top sportsman, on course for a higher education; destined for great things. Greg has suffered a loss in life that is so huge and so painful that nothing else matters. Coming to work at Melrose Gardens; serving tea and shuffling paperwork is about all that he can manage.

Baxter knows that at the age of ninety-four, he hasn't realistically got lots of years ahead of him, and his one wish is to to travel to the war cemeteries in France to find the resting place of his one and only love Thomas.
Thomas was called up towards the end of the Second World War and didn't return; missing presumed dead and Baxter has mourned for him and thought of him every single day since.

By enlisting Greg's help to ensure that he gets to France, Baxter gives Greg a purpose, and what follows is a beautifully constructed tale of how one man helps another in such a wonderfully subtle and unassuming way.

Matthew Crow has structured his novel perfectly. The reader learns about Baxter's early life; how he became wealthy, and how he dealt with his sexuality in times that were so different to today. At it's heart; Baxter's Requiem is a heartwarming and incredibly insightful love story, with a difference.

As in his previous novels, the author excels at creating the most wonderful of characters. Not only the delight that is Baxter himself, but the supporting cast who stand equally alongside him. His lifelong friend Winnifred; crazy and spontaneous and an utter delight. Thomas: the man who showed him the perfection of true love and not forgetting the wickedly funny staff at Melrose Gardens. Each and every one of them are impeccably portrayed, I felt as though I knew all of them intimately.

Baxter's Requiem shows us the all-enduring power of relationships, both long-term and newly formed and is an absolute joy to read. I laughed and I shed tears. Stunning, and highly recommended.






Matthew Crow was born and raised in Newcastle. 

Having worked as a freelance journalist since his teens he has contributed to a number of publications including the Independent on Sunday and the Observer. 

He has written for adults and YA. His book My Dearest Jonah, was nominated for the Dylan Thomas Prize.









Wednesday, 19 September 2018

The Necessary Marriage by Elisa Lodato @LodatoElisa @wnbooks @JenKerslake #TheNecessaryMarriage





Jane is sixteen when she falls in love with her teacher. Leonard Campbell is everything she has ever wanted: handsome, intelligent and attentive. He singles Jane out, giving her novels to read and discuss over long walks and cosy dinners. It is only once married, tied down and tied down with two children in 1980s suburbia that Jane realises she might have settled too early, losing much of herself in the process.


Then Marion and Andrew, a couple whose passion frequently tips into violence, move in next door, forcing Jane to confront feelings she didn't know she could have. And when Marion abandons her family, Jane steps in to help with the couple's two boys, setting in motion a series of events, all of which expose the push and pull within every relationship. As desire and loyalty are blurred, it becomes clear that nobody can escape the devastating impact of a family falling apart.
The Necessary Marriage is an intense, intimate portrait of how couples come together and grow apart, and the passions that drive us to do crazy things.



The Necessary Marriage by Elisa Lodato was published by W&N on 23 August 2018. My thanks to the publisher who sent my copy for review.

Earlier this year I read and reviewed Elisa Lodato's first novel; An Unremarkable Body. I was utterly transfixed by it and I said at the time that I was sure it would be in my Top Books of 2018. After reading her second novel, The Necessary Marriage, I am almost certain that this years's best books list will feature this author's name twice.

The Necessary Marriage is an elegant, gracefully written novel that looks at two very different marriages. The short prologue takes place in November 2001 as Julia, a schoolteacher is called to the telephone. Her sister has had a dreadful accident.

The reader is then swept back to 1974 where sixteen-year old Jane is studying for A Level History. She's also carefully studying her teacher, Leonard Campbell and this extremely talented author paints a vivid picture of him for her readers too. His dark brown suits and the hairs poking from his sleeves, his watch and his distinctive musky scent are described so well and he almost jumps from the page. Jane's own character, and her fairly isolated family life is beautifully presented too, and whilst she appears to be a quiet, studious girl, doted on by parents still grieving for her baby brother who died many years ago, she's also determined and quite stubborn.

Inevitably, Jane and Leonard become a couple, and despite initial horror from her parents, they go on to marry and have a family. Jane abandons her plans for University and stays at home to raise her two girls, whilst Leonard continues working as a teacher. He's a stern but loving father, and whilst it is obvious that he loves Jane, she begins to wonder if there's more to life.

When their elderly neighbour dies, and his son and daughter in law move into the empty house with their two boys, Jane becomes increasingly aware of the differences in the two marriages. Her new neighbours; Andrew and Marion are loud, and passionate and often violent. When Marion abandons her family and goes home to Ireland, Jane doesn't hesitate to step in, which angers and hurts quiet Leonard who can't understand how she can associate with the loud and brash Andrew.

I was absolutely swept away by this novel and read it over one weekend, hardly putting it down at all. Just as in her first novel, this author totally transported me to the era of the story. 1970s suburban England is brilliantly and expertly described and the incredible pull of the dangerous and the unknown for Jane was alluring and enticing.

The Necessary Marriage is powerful and gripping. This author has a magical way with words that just engulf me. Her characters are perfectly formed, with flaws and foibles that just add to their strength and make them completely real for me.

Both the story, and the author are strikingly brilliant, her ability to look at human relations is so astute. Wonderful, I loved every page and will recommend this highly.






Elisa Lodato grew up in London and read English at Pembroke College, Cambridge. 
After graduating she went to live in Japan where she spent a year teaching, travelling and learning to speak the language. 
On returning to the UK she spent many happy years working for Google before training to become an English teacher. 
Helping pupils to search for meaning in a text inspired Elisa to take up the pen and write her own. 

Her first novel, An Unremarkable Body, was longlisted for the Bath Novel Award 2016. 

Elisa lives in Gloucestershire with her husband and two children.

Find out more at www.elisalodato.co.uk
Twitter @LodatoElisa






Tuesday, 18 September 2018

The Thirty Five Timely and Untimely Deaths of Cumberland County by Mason Ball @MasonBallauthor @unbounders #35Deaths





The dying years of the great depression; John Bischoffberger is a Pennsylvanian doctor adrift in Naples, Maine, struggling with his loss of religious faith and retreating from painful memories of The Great War. As Medical Examiner John must document deaths that occur under unusual or suspicious circumstances. Yet as he goes about his work, he begins to suspect that the deaths he is called upon to deal with are in fact far from routine. He becomes convinced that three itinerants are going about the county, killing. An old woman, a little girl, and a thin man are fulfilling some strange and unspoken duty, brutally murdering men, women and children; and the deaths seem to be drawing closer to John: others who may suspect foul play, then acquaintances of his, then perhaps friends, even family members. As the storm clouds of a new world war gather in Europe, and John's rationality slowly unravels, he must find a way to disprove what he has reluctantly come to believe, or to confirm his worst fears and take steps to end the killing spree of the three in the woods, whatever the cost.




The Thirty Five Timely and Untimely Deaths of Cumberland County by Mason Ball was published by Unbound on 3 July 2018.
As part of the #RandomThingsTours Blog Tour I'm delighted to welcome the author to Random Things today. He's talking about the books that are special to him in My Life In Books.



My Life in Books - Mason Ball

Something Wicked This Way Comes by Ray Bradbury
A wonderfully dark and nightmarish tale of what happens when the carnival, that is so much more than a carnival, comes to town… Every child in or near their early teens with a vivid imagination should read this and every adult that feels they’ve lost touch with theirs should too; scary, heart-breaking, thrilling, and somehow life-affirming.


The Blood Meridian by Cormac McCarthy
The pure richness of prose and the frankly biblical violence of this novel is breath-taking. However, if should be stated that McCarthy does violence better than anyone, never relishing it, never sensationalising, but simply delivering it to the reader in sharp, beautiful language that will make you recoil all the more for it. Narratively speaking it breaks so many rules, makes up some of its own, and yet you just go with it. The only book I’ve ever read twice within a single year.


Concrete Island by JG Ballard
It’s so difficult to choose just one Ballard (he’s a firm favourite in our house), from the dizzying apocalypse of The Drowned World to the wonderful narrative heresy of The Atrocity Exhibition, from the imminent societal collapse of Cocaine Nights and Kingdom Come, to the perverse ‘auto-erotica’ of Crash. There’s a kind of surgical sterility to much of Ballard’s prose that somehow never becomes uninvolving or distant. Concrete Island is such a wonderfully conceived (if brief) tale, both truly strange, like a bad dream, and somehow believable, like a Robinson Crusoe for the post-industrial world.


Nineteen Eighty-Four by George Orwell
I’m not sure I can say anything about this book that hasn’t already been said. So brilliantly conceived, so well written, so terrifying. One of the books that changed my life, both as a prospective writer, and as a human being. If you haven’t already read it, what on Earth have you been doing?!




The Little Stranger by Sarah Waters
A wonderfully ingenious ghost story, thick with subtext and surprises; as unease-inducing as it is clever. The revelation at the end is not your usual genre ‘shock’ pull-the-rug-from-under-the-reader either (being neither grandiose or heavy handed grand guignol) but is so well handled and delivered with such a light touch that it left me agape.


The Thought Gang by Tibor Fischer
Confession time: I tend to struggle with, and therefore avoid, overtly comedic novels. For me, all too often they seem to sacrifice depth or narrative engagement for overwrought, strained humour -though I accept this is probably my issue! This book though is such a wonderful exception. '[A] metaphysical thriller, combining bank robbery and high philosophy' this is both laugh out loud funny, stimulating and involving. The plot is as idiosyncratic and ludicrous and the writing is superbly crafted well-pitched.


The Death of Sweet Mister by Daniel Woodrell
The harrowing tale of a young boy struggling in a world of poverty, criminality and violence, this slender novel pulls you in slowly and then delivers a gut punch seldom rivalled. A deftly executed book that creeps up on you like a burglar.




To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee
As with Nineteen Eighty-Four, if you haven’t already read this, what on Earth have you been doing?! Such a beautiful capturing of childhood that deals so well, in relatively few pages, with such a wide swathe of topics from family to morality, from racism and gender roles, to loss of innocence. As good today as when I read it in school.


IT by Stephen King
King was very much a formative author for me. It’s often fashionable to decry genre fiction (and indeed King himself as a writer) but that’s just misplaced, pompous nonsense. The storytelling here, not to mention the structure and inventiveness over such a sprawling, epic novel, is impeccable -and not a little frightening. There’s also a beautiful melancholy to the ending that I recall genuinely taking me by surprise.


The medical record of Dr John M. Bischoffberger / Now I Will Tell You… The Story of Naples, Maine, Its History and Legends compiled by Robert Jordan Dingley, Naples Historical Society
These two volumes are the backbone of my book The Thirty-Five Timely and Untimely Deaths of Cumberland County, and as such must stand as two of the most important books in my life! Just to read the doctor’s medical records as if they were one narrative is the crux of my story, but reading the accounts of the deaths of so many real people is a truly powerful experience in its own right. Likewise, the strange patchwork nature of Now I Will Tell You… gives a wealth of information and minutiae that I’d imagine exists nowhere else.

Mason Ball - September 2018 







Following his poem Fireworks Fireworks Bang Bang Bang at the age of six, Mason eventually took the whole writing thing a little more seriously, graduating in 2009 from London Metropolitan University, having received first class honours in Creative Writing.

In his second year, he won the Sandra Ashman award for his poem Mother Theresa in the Winner’s Enclosure.

He has subsequently had work published in Succour magazine and Brand magazine.

Mason is currently working on a number of writing projects, as well as developing his next novel.

In addition to this, he writes, co-produces and hosts the award-winning monthly cabaret night The Double R Club (as Benjamin Louche, winner of “Best Host” at the London Cabaret Awards). He also worked as a performer on Star Wars: The Force Awakens & The Last Jedi.
Mason is a trustee of East London charity Cabaret vs Cancer.
He lives in East London with his wife, a cat called Monkey, and a collection of antique medical equipment.

Find out more at www.masonball.co.uk
Facebook Author Page



Monday, 17 September 2018

The Shrouded Path by Sarah Ward @sarahrward1 @FaberBooks Blog Tour @joanna_bri #TheShroudedPath





The past won't stay buried forever.
November, 1957: Six teenage girls walk in the churning Derbyshire mists, the first chills of winter in the air. Their voices carrying across the fields, they follow the old train tracks into the dark tunnel of the Cutting. Only five appear on the other side.
October, 2014: a dying mother, feverishly fixated on a friend from her childhood, makes a plea: 'Find Valerie.' Mina's elderly mother had never discussed her childhood with her daughter before. So who was Valerie? Where does her obsession spring from?
DC Connie Childs, off balance after her last big case, is partnered up with new arrival to Bampton, Peter Dahl. Following up on what seems like a simple natural death, DC Childs' old instincts kick in, pointing her right back to one cold evening in 1957. As Connie starts to broaden her enquiries, the investigation begins to spiral increasingly close to home.






The Shrouded Path by Sarah Ward was published in hardback on 6 September 2018 by Faber Books and is the fourth in the DC Childs series. My thanks to the publisher who sent my copy for review and who asked me to take part on this Blog Tour.



I have so much affection for author Sarah Ward and her lead character DC Connie Childs. Since reading the first instalment; In Bitter Chill, back in 2016, this series has become a favourite. I eagerly await each new book, as they really do get better with each one.

The Shrouded Path is excellent. From that intriguing, dark and spooky first chapter set in 1957, right through the unexpected and so cleverly developed ending; it's a joy to read.

Set in the fictional Derbyshire town of Bampton and featuring characters from the previous novels as well as the new ones who populate this plot, this is a thrilling and complex mystery story.

In 1957, as the story opens on a misty November day, six young girls walk into The Cutting; a tunnel beneath the train track, but only five walk out. The atmosphere created within these few short pages set the scene for the rest of the novel. Sarah Ward excels in creating such a wonderful sense of place, incorporating real places such as Ladybower into her stories. The reader can almost feel the chill seeping through their bones as she brings the Derbyshire countryside vividly to life.

The story hurtles forward to 2017 and Mina, a local gardener is called to her mother's bedside as she takes her final breaths. One of the last things she says to Mina is to 'find Valerie', but Mina has no idea who Valerie is.
The hunt for the mysterious Valerie begins to take over Mina's life, and she soon finds herself mixed up with unsavoury modern-day events, as well as discovering things that have been kept secret for many years.

DC Connie Childs is investigating the unexpected death of a local elderly woman. At first glance this seems to be a pretty straightforward case, until Connie begins to listen to her inner feelings and realises that there are things that just don't add up. Along with new partner; Peter Dahl, she sets out to get to the bottom of what has happened; uncovering very similar deaths that have happened nearby.

Sarah Ward has cleverly interwoven the modern-day story with the mystery from the 1950s and keeps her readers on their toes throughout. The multiple narrators work wonderfully, allowing the full story to be slowly and effortlessly revealed.

Wonderfully atmospheric and so riveting with such a vivid sense of place. Highly recommended.






Sarah Ward is the author of three previous DC Childs mysteries, In Bitter Chill, A Deadly Thaw and A Patient Fury.
On her blog, Crimepieces (www.crimepieces.com), she reviews the best of current crime fiction published around the world, and has also reviewed for various publications.

She is a judge for the Petrona Award for Scandinavian translated crime novels.

She lives in Derbyshire

Follow Sarah on Twitter @sarahrward1




Friday, 14 September 2018

The Other Couple by Sarah J Naughton @SarahJNaughton #BlogTour @TrapezeBooks #TheOtherCouple






It was meant to be the perfect honeymoon.
A five-star resort in paradise.
White sands, a private villa and world-class cuisine.
A chance for newlyweds Asha and Ollie Graveney to recover from a recent tragedy, and enjoy the holiday of their dreams.
Except someone has other plans...
And paradise has turned into a nightmare.















The Other Couple by Sarah J Naughton was published on 9 August 2018 in paperback by Trapeze, my thanks to the publisher who sent my copy for review.




Sarah J Naughton draws her readers in with an intriguing and tension filled prologue, and then leaves them dangling as she moves on the the main story. I do love a prologue and this one was particularly well done, creating a sense of unease and anticipation that continues throughout the novel.

The reader meets Asha as she lays in a hospital bed in Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam. It's clear that something dreadful has happened, but what?

We are then taken back a couple of weeks as Asha and her new husband Ollie are waiting to board their flight to Vietnam, looking forward to a five star luxury honeymoon. The story then goes back and forth as it unfolds into a deliciously dark and atmospheric tale that really keeps the reader on their toes.
I particularly enjoyed the relationship between Asha and Ollie; two people from such very different backgrounds who have fallen in love. Despite the fact that Asha has never had wealth or status, she and Ollie seem like real soulmates and despite the doubters have survived the course and are now married. However, Asha knows that Ollie is troubled. He's acting strangely and she's becoming increasingly unhappy.

Sarah J Naughton really does create a most wonderful setting. The luxury five-star Vietnamese resort is expertly created, but there's this feeling of dread and impending doom that lurks in the background at all times.

When tragedy happens, Asha becomes increasingly frenetic. There were times that she did things that made me want to scream 'stop'! It was a bit like those 1980s slasher movies where the young girl goes out into the woods, wearing just a t-shirt and a pair of pants. You know that something awful is going to happen and there's nothing you can do to stop it. Yes, Asha, at times, acted just like that.

The supporting cast of characters are a mixed and very odd bunch, and each and every one of them come under suspicion at times. There's plenty of red herrings and twists and turns in this story and it's fast paced and very clever.

The Other Couple is imaginative, clever and lots of fun. Fans of psychological thrillers will love this.








Sarah J Naughton was born in 1975 and grew up in Dorset.  She studied English Literature at UCL and has been in London ever since, spending ten years as a copywriter in an advertising agency before giving up to have children.
She was shortlisted for The Costa Children’s Book Award for her novel, The Hanged Man Rises, and now writes psychological fiction for adults.
She lives with her husband and two sons.



Thursday, 13 September 2018

The Lingering by SJI Holliday @SJIHolliday @OrendaBooks #TheLingering





Married couple Jack and Ali Gardiner move to a self-sufficient commune in the English Fens, desperate for fresh start. The local village is known for the witches who once resided there and Rosalind House, where the commune has been established, is a former psychiatric home, with a disturbing history.

When Jack and Ali arrive, a chain of unexpected and unexplained events is set off, and it becomes clear that they are not all that they seem. As the residents become twitchy, and the villagers suspicious, events from the past come back to haunt them, and someone is seeking retribution…

At once an unnerving locked-room mystery, a chilling thriller and a dark and superbly wrought ghost story, The Lingering is an exceptionally plotted, terrifying and tantalisingly twisted novel by one of the most exciting authors in the genre.




The Lingering by SJI Holliday is published in paperback by Orenda Books on 15th November 2018. My thanks to the publisher who sent my copy for review.


I've been a fan of SJI Holliday's writing for a long time now. Her Banktoun trilogy, published by Black & White publishing is one of my all-time favourite series, I'm still desperately hoping that she'll treat us all to another instalment one day.

The Lingering is a book that I've been excited about ever since I heard that Orenda had signed it. Then I saw that cover and I was was even more intrigued. It certainly has been worth the wait. it's a story that wraps itself around your brain whilst reading, and even when you put it down for a while, it stays with you, lingering around, teasing and prodding and urging you to pick it up again to find out more.

In this world where we label everything, books are expected to fit neatly into genre. However, The Lingering is so difficult to tie down to just one box. It's a gothic tale of supernatural, ghostly happenings mixed in with a bang up-to-date chillingly clever plot that looks at the darkest side to a domestic relationship. With coercion and control being the central theme, this novel will haunt the reader.

Jack and Ali Gardiner have sold their possessions, given up their jobs as a police officer and nurse respectively and are travelling to join a self-sufficient commune deep in the Fens. The reader meets them as they are on that initial journey, and it's clear from the outset that they are running from some pretty dark secrets in their past. Ali is in control, whilst Jack appears uneasy about this huge step.

The are going to live at Rosalind House; previously a psychiatric hospital and with a dark and threatening history that dates back hundreds of years. Everyone in the nearby village knows the story of Rosalind House, and none of them are happy that it's been opened up again.

As Jack and Ali settle in, their characters are explored by this very clever and perceptive author. The reader also gets to know each of the other members of the community, especially Angela; otherwise known as Fairy Angela, who is determined to prove that there are ghosts haunting the house.

Rosalind House itself is a huge character in this novel. The outside grandeur and the stark, decaying interior with hints of what has happened there in the past prove to be an evocative, but unsettling base for the story, adding so much depth to the plot.

As stranger and stranger events happen, and the members of the community become more uncertain about their new members, Jack and Ali's terrible secret is slowly exposed. The author cleverly and authentically delves into the mind of the psychopath, and how evil genius can affect and control a previously perfectly normal person. It is chilling and dark, yet utterly and completely compelling throughout.

Beautifully written and perfectly plotted; The Lingering is a book that will stay with me for a very long time. The tension is almost unbearable at times. It's nerve-shredding and genuinely chilling.






SJI Holliday is a pharmaceutical statistician by day and a crime and horror fan by night.  Her short stories have been published in many places and she was shortlisted for the inaugural CWA Margery Allingham prize with her story 'Home From Home' which was published in Ellery Queen Mystery Magazine in spring 2017. She is the bestselling author of the creepy and claustrophobic Banktoun trilogy (Black Wood, Willow Walk and The Damselfly) featuring the much-loved Sergeant Davie Gray, and has dabbled in festive crime with the critically acclaimed The Deaths of December. Her latest psychological thriller is modern gothic with more than a hint of the supernatural, which she loved writing due to her fascination with and fear of ghosts. She is proud to be one of The Slice Girls and has been described by David Mark as 'dark as a smoker's lung.'

She divides her time between Edinburgh and London and you will find her at crime-fiction events in the UK and abroad.

Follow Susi on Twitter @SJIHolliday, or visit her website www.sjiholliday.com