Monday 24 September 2018

The Murder of Harriet Monckton by Elizabeth Haynes Blog Tour @Elizjhaynes @MyriadEditions @EmmaDowson1 #HarrietMonckton

The Murder of Harriet Monckton is based on a true story that shocked and fascinated the nation. 

On 7th November 1843, Harriet Monckton, 23 years old and a woman of respectable parentage and religious habits, was found murdered in the privy behind the dissenting chapel she had regularly attended in Bromley, Kent. The community was appalled by her death, apparently as a result of swallowing a fatal dose of prussic acid, and even more so when the autopsy revealed that Harriet was six months pregnant. 

Drawing on the coroner's reports and witness testimonies, the novel unfolds from the viewpoints of each of the main characters, each of whom have a reason to want her dead. Harriet Monckton had at least three lovers and several people were suspected of her murder, including her close companion and fellow teacher, Miss Frances Williams. The scandal ripped through the community, the murderer was never found and for years the inhabitants of Bromley slept less soundly. 

This rich, robust novel is full of suggestion and suspicion, with the innocent looking guilty and the guilty hiding behind their piety. It is also a novel that exposes the perilous position of unmarried women, the scandal of sex out of wedlock and the hypocrisy of upstanding, church-going folk.

The Murder of Harriet Monckton by Elizabeth Haynes is published by Myriad Editions on 28 September 2018. My thanks to the publisher who sent my copy for review and who invited me to take part in the Blog Tour. I am honoured that Random Things is the first stop on this tour.

I can't describe how I felt when I opened the beautifully wrapped parcel that contained my copy of
The Murder of Harriet Monckton by Elizabeth Haynes.
I know that I gasped out loud, as I had no idea that this book was being written and this author is one of my all time favourites.

I was intrigued to find that this was not another psychological thriller or police procedurals, but a historical crime novel, and based on real events. Whilst historical fiction is not my favourite genre, I was convinced that this fabulous author would nail it.
And she has.

Elizabeth Haynes came across transcripts from Harriet Monckton's murder case whilst researching another story and became intrigued and fascinated by them.  The result of her fascination is this wonderfully written and absolutely compelling story that will grip any reader.

Twenty three year old Harriet Monckton was found dead in the privy behind a chapel in Bromley. Harriet was a well respected woman, from a good family and a regular church goer. Her death shocked the community. The reader is given a glimpse into Harriet's death in the enticing prologue and we are then taken through the following days, as members of the community realise that she's missing and the search begins.

Harriet was known by many people, and had plenty of secrets that are elegantly unfolded throughout the story. When the post mortem reveals that Harriet was pregnant, the case becomes more urgent. It's clear that Harriet was murdered and what becomes clearer is that there a many suspects. So many characters in this tale have their own reason to want her out of the picture.

There are a lot of characters, and the author jumps from one to another quite quickly. Revealing their innermost thoughts and their actions. It did take me a while to get used to this style, and to remember just who was who. However, the creation of each character is so brilliantly done that their own individual voices soon begin to shine, they become instantly recognisable to the reader.

It is not only the intriguing and mysterious plot, or the cleverly created characters that make this book something quite special. Elizabeth Haynes brings Bromley to life so well too. Her writing conjures up the dark and foreboding back streets of this London borough so well, giving such a realistic sense of place that adds such a wonderful depth to the tale.

I defy anyone to guess the outcome of this one. It's so well put together, with an unexpected twist here and a quirky turn there that I certainly was led down the completely wrong track, which for me, is another sign of the intelligent and purely crafted plotting and story telling.

I will remember this story, and Harriet for a long time. Elizabeth Haynes has taken a long-forgotten murder case and brought it to life quite wonderfully. Her passion for the subject shines through in her writing. Highly recommended.

Elizabeth Haynes is a former police intelligence analyst.
Her first novel, Into the Darkest Corner, has been published in 37 countries.
It was Amazon's Best Book of the Year and a New York Times bestseller.
She has written a further three psychological thrillers - Revenge of the Tide, Human Remains and Never Alone - and two novels in the DCI Louisa Smith series, Under a Silent Moon and Behind Closed Doors.

For more information visit
Find her Author page on Facebook
Follow her on Twitter @Elizjhaynes

Sunday 23 September 2018

Trap by Lilja Sigurdardóttir @lilja1972 translated by Quentin Bates @graskeggur @OrendaBooks #Trap #ReykjavikNoir

Happily settled in Florida, Sonja believes she’s finally escaped the trap set by unscrupulous drug lords. But when her son Tomas is taken, she’s back to square one … and Iceland.

Her lover, Agla, is awaiting sentencing for financial misconduct after the banking crash, and Sonja refuses to see her. And that’s not all … Agla owes money to some extremely powerful men, and they’ll stop at nothing to get it back.

Set in a Reykjavík still covered in the dust of the Eyjafjallajökull volcanic eruption, and with a dark, fast-paced and chilling plot and intriguing characters, Trap is an outstandingly original and sexy Nordic crime thriller, from one of the most exciting new names in crime fiction.

Trap by Lilja Sigurdardóttir (translated by Quentin Bates) is published in paperback by Orenda Books and is the second in the Reykjavik Noir trilogy. My thanks to the publisher who sent my copy for review.

In December last year, I read and reviewed Snare; the first book in this series. I adored it and it got a very well deserved place on my Top Books of the Year list. I've been looking forward to the follow up ever since then.

I would advise that readers make sure that they've read Snare before starting on Trap. Whilst you could, at a push read this as a stand alone, the whole experience is enhanced by having some idea of what happened in Snare. These are fairly short, quick reads that carry the reader along a punchy and fast paced story.

In Trap we find Sonja and her young son Tomas in Florida. She's escaped the clutches of her ex husband Adam, and the drugs gang who used her as a mule. However, her respite from the horror and stress of dealing with some of the most dangerous criminals in the world is short and when Tomas is snatched, she finds herself back in Iceland.

Meanwhile, Sonja's lover Agla is still awaiting her sentence. Caught up in and mastermind of some of the largest financial misconduct cases that Iceland have seen, Agla is still plotting and planning. She needs to get some very large debts repaid to some very dangerous people.

Readers of Snare will be delighted to know that Bragi; the customs officer is once again, a huge part of this story. One of Lilja Sigurdardóttir's main strengths are the creation of her characters and Bragi is a huge favourite of mine. He's just a guy, working out his retirement, however he's also multi layered and determined that his wife will end her days in comfort. Nothing will stop him ensuring that the beloved lady who has been by his side for so many years will get the best care available as she comes to the end of her life.

Trap is a complex story, told so very well. There's some really dark, dry humour in there along with the realities of modern-day drugs smuggling and financial corruption. This author writes with great authenticity, keeping her readers gripped and engaged throughout the whole breathless journey.

With a tension that increases as the pages are turned and characters who are incredibly well created, realistic and at time, downright horrific, Trap is a brilliant follow up to the wonderful Snare. I was totally consumed by the plot, bewitched by the stylish prose and once more am left longing for the next instalment.

Icelandic crime-writer Lilja Sigurdardóttir was born in the town of Akranes in 1972 and raised in Mexico, Sweden, Spain and Iceland. 
An award-winning playwright, Lilja has written four crime novels, with Snare, the first in a new series, hitting bestseller lists worldwide. 
The film rights have been bought by Palomar Pictures in California. 
Lilja has a background in education and has worked in evaluation and quality control for preschools in recent years. 
She lives in Reykjavík with her partner.
Follow her on Twitter @lilja1972

After He Died by Michael J Malone @michaelJmalone1 @OrendaBooks Blog Tour #AfterHeDied

You need to know who your husband really was…

When Paula Gadd’s husband of almost thirty years dies, just days away from the seventh anniversary of their son, Christopher’s death, her world falls apart. Grieving and bereft, she is stunned when a young woman approaches her at the funeral service, and slips something into her pocket. A note suggesting that Paula’s husband was not all that he seemed…

When the two women eventually meet, a series of revelations challenges everything Paula thought they knew, and it becomes immediately clear that both women’s lives are in very real danger.

Both a dark, twisty slice of domestic noir and taut, explosive psychological thriller, After He Died is also a chilling reminder that the people we trust the most can harbour the deadliest secrets…

After He Died by Michael J Malone was published in paperback by Orenda Books on 20 September 2018, and has been getting some rave reviews;

‘A stark, gripping storyline’ Scots

‘An expert plotter; twists and turns feel properly embedded in the story. It’s a tough high-wire act, balancing believability with surprise, but the author pulls it off with aplomb’ Doug Johnstone, Big Issue

‘A fine, page-turning thriller’ Daily Mail

‘Vivid, visceral and compulsive’ Ian Rankin

‘A terrific read … I read it in one sitting’ Martina Cole

As part of the Blog Tour for After He Died, I'm delighted to welcome Michael here to Random Things today, he's sharing some secrets with us!

10 Things You Don’t Know About Me 

* I used to be blond. (if there’s a pic along with this post you’ll see I’m rocking a more flesh-coloured look these days.)

* I’m right-handed.

* I had a go at writing my first novel when I was about 6 or 7. It was my version of Tarka the Otter. And sadly it’s somewhere in the Cemetery of Lost Jotters.

* I used to do Highland Dancing when I was a wee boy and among other things, danced through the town of Irvine on the back of float during the festival of Marymass. I can’t remember the year. Thankfully there is no photographic evidence.

* Two of my favourite flavours are garlic and cinnamon. Not at the same time I hasten to add.

* My first job was as a milk-boy. I was fourteen and delivered milk throughout my home town – the benefit of which was that I grew to know the place pretty well. My alarm was set for 4:30 every morning - I also grew to hate the sound of my alarm clock.

* I was the fastest boy in my class right through primary school and won the sprint at the school sport’s day every year, apart from my final year at primary school. A new boy joined and he was faster than me. That has haunted me ever since. I wanted the clean sweep. I didn’t have anywhere near the same level of success at Secondary School. Most of the other boys had a growth spurt while I remained a short-arse.

* The first album I ever bought with my own hard-earned was Earth, Wind and Fire’s Greatest Hits.

* My greatest fear for YEARS was speaking in public. Whenever I had to do it I was an utter mess for weeks beforehand. It took hypnosis, learning EFT (you should google it) and lots of forcing myself into the position where I had to do it to help me get over my fear. I knew that as an aspiring author it came as part of the job and I would have to learn to deal with it so I forced myself to do it more and more as the years went on. Now I really enjoy that part of the job. I hope this helps someone out there who is struggling with this. If I can do it, genuinely, so can you.

* After He Died is my tenth book.

Michael Malone is a prize-winning poet and author who was born and brought up in the heart of Burns’ country, just a stone’s throw from the great man’s cottage in Ayr. Well, a stone thrown by a catapult. 

He has published over 200 poems in literary magazines throughout the UK, including New Writing Scotland, Poetry Scotland and Markings. 

His career as a poet has also included a (very) brief stint as the Poet-In- Residence for an adult gift shop. Blood Tears, his bestselling debut novel won the Pitlochry Prize (judge: Alex Gray) from the Scottish Association of Writers. 

Other published work includes: Carnegie’s Call (a non-fiction work about successful modern-day Scots); A Taste for Malice; The Guillotine Choice; Beyond the Rage and The Bad Samaritan. 

His psychological thriller, A Suitable Lie, was a number one bestseller. 

Michael is a regular reviewer for the hugely popular crime fiction website A former Regional Sales Manager (Faber & Faber) he has also worked as an IFA and a bookseller.

Saturday 22 September 2018

The Infinite Blacktop by Sara Gran Blog Tour @FaberBooks #TheInfiniteBlacktop

Driven off the desert road and left for dead, Claire DeWitt knows that it is someone from her past trying to kill her, she just doesn't know who. Making a break for it from the cops who arrive on the scene, she sets off in search of the truth, or whatever version of it she can find. But perhaps the biggest mystery of all lies deeper than that, somewhere out there on the ever rolling highway of life.
Set between modern day Las Vegas and LA, The Infinite Blacktop sees Claire at her lowest point yet, wounded and disorientated, but just about hanging on.
Too smart for her own good, too damaged to play by the rules, too crazy for most - have you got what it takes to follow the self-appointed 'best detective in the world'?

The Infinite Blacktop by Sara Gran was published by Faber Books on 20 September 2018.

It's my turn to host the Blog Tour today, and I'm delighted to share an extract from the book

I was on my way out of my hotel room when another bellhop
knocked. He had a big padded FedEx envelope for me from Claude.
I went back in, made more coffee, and carefully slid the contents out
and looked it all over.
Christmas for outlaws: a passport and ATM card and credit card in
the name of Kitty McCain, along with a bunch of memorabilia I wouldn’t
need—photos of Kitty’s kids, utility bills, a lease for an apartment that did
not exist in Albany, California.

Those were for another kind of emergency.
And thrifty Kitty had somewhere between five and ten grand in
the bank that no one would be tracing, following, or watching.
When I opened my cheap new laptop, I found another gift: Claude
had sent the scans of the last Cynthia Silverton Mystery Digest.

At the Nero’s Business Corner Conveniently Located by the Emperor’s
Lounge I printed out the scans Claude had sent me. Once printed, it took me a few minutes to find the ad—the one I’d answered
a few days before the man in the Lincoln had tried to kill me.

Money! Excitement! Women and men admire detectives.
Everyone looks up to someone with knowledge and education.
Our home-study course offers the chance to earn your
detective’s badge from the comfort of your own home.
The address was a PO box about a mile from the strip.
I walked across the street to the Excelsior, walked through the casino
and the lobby into the parking lot, stole a Toyota, stopped to buy
another burner phone at a convenience store, and got back to work.

Sara Gran is the author of the novels Dope, Come Closer, Saturn's Return to New York, and the Claire DeWitt series.

Her work has been published in over a dozen countries and as many languages. She also writes for TV and film and occasionaly writes other things.

Born and raised in Brooklyn, now living in California, Ms. Gran has worked with books as a writer, bookseller, and collector for most of her career. 

For more information visit

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 In August 2018, VALENTINA will be published in a new edition by Bookouture

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

Find her on:
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.