Tuesday 28 February 2023

On The Savage Side by Tiffany McDaniel #OnTheSavageSide @wnbooks #BookReview


Arcade and Daffodil are twin sisters born one minute apart. With their fiery red hair and thirst for an escape, they form an unbreakable bond nurtured by their grandmother's stories. Together they disappear into their imagination and forge a world where a patch of grass reveals an archaeologist's dig, the smoke emerging from the local paper mill becomes the dust rising from wild horses galloping deep beneath the earth, and an abandoned 1950s convertible transforms into a time machine that can take them anywhere.

But no matter how hard they try, Arc and Daffy can't escape the generational ghosts that haunt their family. And so, left to fend for themselves in the shadow of their rural Ohio town, the two sisters cling tight to one another.

Years later, as the sisters wrestle with the memories of their early life, a local woman is discovered dead in the river. Soon, more bodies are left floating in the water, and as the killer circles ever closer, Arc's promise to keep herself and her sister safe becomes increasingly desperate - and the powerful riptide of the savage side more difficult to survive.

Drawing from the true story of women killed in Chillicothe, Ohio, acclaimed novelist and poet Tiffany McDaniel has written a moving literary testament and fearless elegy for missing women everywhere.

On The Savage Side by Tiffany McDaniel is published by W&N in hardback on 02 March 2023. My thanks to the author who sent my copy for review. 

The inspiration for On The Savage Side is the unsolved murders of the Chillicothe Six. Six women who went missing in Ohio in 2015, some are still missing and the case remains unsolved. 

Tiffany McDaniel writes with a poetic grace that sweeps the reader along, despite the utter bleakness of the content. This is a literary blend of crime thriller and a coming-of-age story that at times is so emotionally challenging that I needed to take a break a couple of times during reading. 

The story begins when twin sisters Arc and Daffy are just young girls. Their father has died and their addict mother is hysterical. As their mother tears around the house, nailing their dead father's clothes to the window frames, the two girls seem to take this in their stride. As the story progresses, it becomes clear that they have experienced their mother's bizarre behaviour for many years. It is only the intervention of their maternal grandmother Mamaw Milkwood that gives a tiny bit of stability in their lives, until one day, she too is gone. 

The author skips from time zone to time zone. We meet the girls as children and we also meet them as twenty-year olds. It is Arc who narrates the story and her voice is strong, yet has such a sense of vulnerability and sadness ringing through it too.  Despite Mamaw's best intentions when the girls were small, they too find themselves echoing their own mother's life. Along with their friends, their world is made up of drugs and selling their bodies, and then the bodies begin to be found. 

This is a very dark, often brutal and incredibly emotional story. The beauty of the writing does little to hide the stark facts of the lives of these women, and of the evil that lurks within their community.  This author excels in characterisation, her ability to create such a sense of place and the almost dreamlike quality of the passages about the river that winds through the area tie seamlessly together to create a story that becomes unforgettable. 

Harrowing, yet gripping. Recommended by me. 

Tiffany McDaniel is a novelist, poet, and visual artist born and raised in Ohio. 

She is the author of The Summer That Melted Everything and BETTY.


Monday 27 February 2023

Expectant by Vanda Symon BLOG TOUR #Expectant @vandasymon @OrendaBooks #SamShephard #BookReview


A killer targeting pregnant women.

A detective expecting her first baby…

 The shocking murder of a heavily pregnant woman throws the New Zealand city of Dunedin into a tailspin, and the devastating crime feels uncomfortably close to home for Detective Sam Shephard as she counts down the days to her own maternity leave.

 Confined to a desk job in the department, Sam must find the missing link between this brutal crime and a string of cases involving mothers and children in the past. As the pieces start to come together and the realisation dawns that the killer’s actions are escalating, drastic measures must be taken to prevent more tragedy.

 For Sam, the case becomes personal, when it becomes increasingly clear that no one is safe and the clock is ticking…

Expectant by Vanda Symon was published in paperback by Orenda Books on 16 February 2023 and is the fifth in the Sam Shephard series. My thanks to the publisher who sent my copy for review as part of this Blog Tour. 

I have been reading the Sam Shephard series since the beginning and this is one of my all time favourite detective series. Vanda Symon is a terrific author, she's created a character and a community that readers will come to adore. I've been looking forward to Expectant for a long time, and can honestly say that this is the very best book in the series so far. 

Sam is a feisty detective who has struggled to fit in with her colleagues at times. However, she's now feeling pretty secure (apart from regular run ins with her boss who remains an arrogant, misogynistic prat). She's in a solid relationship with a colleague, she's well-liked by her team and she's about to have her first child. She's almost ready to take her maternity leave, and whilst she's not yet got around to creating the nursery, and she's feeling a little anxious about the actual birth, she's ready. 

However, as is usually the case where Sam is concerned, things are not going to go quite to plan. When the body of a woman is discovered in an alleyway in the town, the community is shocked. When it is discovered that the victim had been pregnant, and the baby has been removed from her body, there is horror and outrage. Sam feels especially connected to this case, and whilst her growing belly and raging hormones impact on her abilities, there is nothing that is going to stop her from solving this one, even if she has to spend most of her time in front of screen, trawling for clues. 

Vanda Symon's writing style is amazing. She structures the novel in short, snappy chapters that encourages the reader to keep reading on, wanting more and more and more. Her characters are perfectly formed and the inter-office relationships are as wonderful as Sam's personal contacts. Her mother is an interesting, often annoying character, but it is clear that their bond is so very strong, even if Sam's mum is sometimes a little overbearing and critical. 

The case is complex and puzzling, it's also emotionally challenging, both for Sam and her team and for the reader. I had no idea where this was going, and it wasn't until almost the final chapter that I make the same realisation that Sam did, and what a shocker that turns out to be.

With a nail-biting and dangerous finale, we begin to think that Sam may not make it to the end of the book. The tension is palpable and although the crime is heinous, the empathy shown in this story is stunning and adds such a depth to what could have been a run-of-the-mill murder enquiry. Vanda Symon always examines the people and the motive, never judging and always showing every side to a story. 

Wonderful. Bravo to Vanda Symon. Highly recommended. 

Vanda Symon lives in Dunedin, New Zealand. 

As well as being a crime writer, she has a PhD in science communication and is a researcher at the Centre for Pacific Health at the University of Otago. 
Overkill was shortlisted for the 2019 CWA John Creasey Debut Dagger Award and she is a four-time finalist for the Ngaio Marsh Award for Best Crime Novel for her critically acclaimed Sam Shephard series. 
The fourth in the series, Bound, was shortlisted for a Barry Award. 
Vanda produces and hosts Write On, a monthly radio show focusing on the world of books at Otago Access Radio. 

When she isn’t working or writing, Vanda can be found in the garden, or on the business end of a fencing foil.

Twitter @vandasymon

Instagram @vandasymon

Friday 24 February 2023

Fear Or Favour by Ray Britain BLOG TOUR #FearOrFavour @ray_britain @RandomTTours #AuthorInterview


A drowned man is pulled from floodwaters. Identification is difficult but a routine investigation for DCI Stirling and newly promoted DI Marti Summer. Or is it?

Sensitive material in the dead man’s possession links Stirling’s investigation to the top of Government, and a leadership race for Prime Minister. Favourite to win is Zola Campbell, the grandchild of Windrush immigrants whose rise from humble beginnings to forge a business empire, amassing personal wealth and fame along the way, have made her an iconic figure. Entering politics, her talents earned swift promotion to the top of Government, and now she’s poised to be the first woman of colour Prime Minister. The media is in overdrive, the political stakes are high, and the nation is watching.

Fearing a national scandal that will engulf them all, ACC Steph Tanner wants results – fast! With just days to unravel what connects a quiet man’s drowning to events at Westminster, a hundred miles away, tensions rise as Stirling takes his investigation undercover.

Stirling senses something is missing. But what? Or who? With a suspect to locate, and crypto millions to trace, things are complex enough when MI5 step from the shadows! And just where do Lena Novak and the National Crime Agency fit into it all?

Frightened by Stirling’s methods, Marti Summer fears for her job, and the shame she’ll bring on her family. But Marti has a moral dilemma too - have her own prejudices jeopardised the investigation?

Haunted by tragedy, Stirling’s private life is a mess. Ayesha’s gone, with no explanation. He and Steph Tanner are close, but she’s his boss. And life is about to get still more complicated.

Fear or Favour by Ray Britain was published on 29 January 2023 and part of the DC Stirling Investigations. As part of this #RandomThingsTours Blog Tour, I am delighted to host an interview with the author. 

Tell us a bit about yourself. You were a detective, I understand?
Yes, I was a police officer for over thirty years in the Midlands, with much of my service spent in CID. As a Senior Investigating Officer (SIO) I led complex crime investigations and supported national emergency and counter-terrorism arrangements. 

And you were a police negotiator as well?
Hostage & Crisis Intervention Negotiator, to give it its formal title. It’s a voluntary role on top of the ‘day job’ which often meant leaving a warm bed in the middle of the night to support colleagues in achieving a peaceful outcome to hostage and siege incidents, many firearms operations, and numerous suicide interventions. The most rewarding part of the role was bringing about a safe and peaceful resolution, or getting someone ‘back from the edge’, so to speak, and to gain the help they needed.
Why did you want to be a negotiator?
To help people, and because it’s endlessly fascinating. One never knew what you’d be faced with. 

Why did you adopt a pen name?
For privacy, mainly, as I locked up many criminals during my career, some of whom were very unpleasant characters. 

How accurate are your stories to real investigations?
Very! The day to day reality of most investigations is very different to how they’re portrayed on TV, with forensic results arriving within minutes, apparently! SIO’s must constantly juggle scarce investigators and other resources across concurrent investigations while making tough choices about prioritising while operating within finite budgets – all in the knowledge that every decision they make will be scrutinised with 20-20 hindsight!

I also believe it important to not gloss over the grim, grainy detail of criminality (i.e. human behaviour), of crime scenes, and of investigator-suspect relationships. Even those between investigators. People are complex, and that is especially true within an intense crime investigation. Above all, I respect my reader’s intelligence and seek to provide them with an authentic, immersive experience. If it’s not what some readers are seeking, other “lavender” options are available.

I believe this is your third DCI Stirling story?
Yes, the first was ‘The Last Thread’ published 2017, followed by ‘Forgotten Lives’ in 2021.  Though some central characters remain constant, each story is entirely different. All are set in beautiful Worcestershire, an area I know well, with investigative excursions to the wider world.  

Tell us a little about your principal character, DCI Douglas Stirling. Is he the dog eared, flawed, socially ill-at-ease characters we often see?
Physically, Stirling is the embodiment of my Father in his late thirties as I needed a familiar image as I wrote, and it’s a small tribute to him. Intellectually, though, Stirling is an entirely different man. 

Flawed? Yes, a little. Stirling is a thoughtful, reflective character, notoriously private with an untold back-story tragedy which continues to affect his character, and his relationships. A consummate professional, he expects his people to work hard, but he works harder still. Easily drawn to intelligent, interesting women, complications arise when his private and professional worlds collide. 

And the female characters, are they simply ‘bit players’?
Absolutely not. My cast is diverse, with most of the female characters having strong voices and roles within my stories.

Without spoiling it for our readers, what’s “Fear or Favour” about?
Perhaps the easiest thing to do is to give you the synopsis:  

“A drowned man is pulled from floodwaters. Identification is difficult but a routine investigation for DCI Stirling and newly promoted DI Marti Summer. Or is it?

Sensitive material in the dead man’s possession links Stirling’s investigation to the top of Government, and a leadership race for Prime Minister. Favourite to win is Zola Campbell, the grandchild of Windrush immigrants whose rise from humble beginnings to forge a business empire, amassing personal wealth and fame along the way, have made her an iconic figure. Entering politics, her talents earned swift promotion to the top of Government, and now she’s poised to be the first woman of colour Prime Minister. The media is in overdrive, the political stakes are high, and the nation is watching.
Fearing a national scandal that will engulf them all, ACC Steph Tanner wants results – fast! With just days to unravel what connects a quiet man’s drowning to events at Westminster, a hundred miles away, tensions rise as Stirling takes his investigation undercover.

Stirling senses something is missing. But what? Or who? With a suspect to locate, and crypto millions to trace, things are complex enough when MI5 step from the shadows! And just where do Lena Novak and the National Crime Agency fit into it all?

Frightened by Stirling’s methods, Marti Summer fears for her job, and the shame she’ll bring on her family. But Marti has a moral dilemma too - have her own prejudices jeopardised the investigation?
Haunted by tragedy, Stirling’s private life is a mess. Ayesha’s gone, with no explanation. He and Steph Tanner are close, but she’s his boss. And life is about to get still more complicated.”

And where can I buy “Fear or favour”?
It’s available at Amazon Kindle and on all good e-readers such as KOBO, Apple iBook etc. or visit my website http://www.raybritain.com/ and buy it through there.

So finally Ray, a little about yourself. What do you do for recreation, and what was the most interesting book that you read recently?
I’m not getting any younger, so I try to get in the gym several times a week, practice yoga, and enjoy fell walking and skiing. I sail occasionally with a friend who has a yacht. 

My recent enjoyable read was ‘Snow Falling on Cedars’ by David Guterson, an acclaimed debut novel when published which I found in my holiday accommodation recently. Set in a post-war, West coast of America fishing community, it explores the inherent prejudices towards the long established American-Japanese community through a ‘whodunnit’ told through a courtroom trial over three days. I didn’t think I would like it as the narrative is very detailed but, in fact, it drew me into the lives of the characters. 

Ray Britain is a crime writer with a difference - he's investigated serious crime!

His third novel ‘Fear or Favour’ follows his previous titles, ‘Forgotten Lives’ (2021) and ‘The Last Thread’ (2017).

Ray Britain led specialist investigations as a Senior Investigating Officer, and was also a Hostage & Crisis Intervention Negotiator, a voluntary role that involved him in hostage situations, sieges, many firearms operations, and numerous suicide interventions.

His specialist roles took him to the USA, India, Europe, Australia and elsewhere, and he was awarded several Commendations. He also worked with the Serious Fraud Office and the Home Office in London, and with many other police services.
Britain’s real world experience brings an authentic voice to the realities of investigation, and of human frailty.
If not writing, Ray might be enjoying hiking, rugby, skiing, reading, sailing, or yoga.

Twitter @ray_britain

Instagram @raybritain

Thursday 23 February 2023

Sincerely, Me by Julietta Henderson BLOG TOUR @JuliettaJulia1 @TransworldBooks @RandomTTours #BookExtract


Danny is the definition of a man who 'could do better'. He drinks more than he should, currently lives in his best friend's garden shed - and he hasn't spoken to his sister in 16 years.

But when Danny is the subject of a misleading newspaper article, claiming his lifestyle is actually quite enlightened, he suddenly finds himself in the limelight. Letters begin to flood in from strangers seeking his guidance.

Wolfie is the daughter of Danny's estranged sister, Lou. She's never met her uncle, but her mother is struggling. So when Wolfie sees Danny's picture in the paper, she sets out to find him.

Within a week, Danny goes from being responsibility-free to a big brother, an uncle and an unwitting existential 'guru' to some very lost souls.

Can he become the man they all need him to be?

Sincerely, Me by Julietta Henderson is published on 23 February 2023 by Bantam Press. As part of this #RandomThingsTours Blog Tour, I am delighted to share an extract from the book with you today. 

Extract from Sincerely, Me by Julietta Henderson

Number two highlight of my thirty-ninth birthday: an extremely fit policewoman calling me interesting in front of some very hard to impress neighbours.

Definitely not unconnected lowlight of the day that followed fairly soon after: the disapproving look on Gentleman’s face as I was driven off in the back of a patrol car headed for Camden police station. He’s also quite hard to impress, for a dog, although a damn sight more forgiving than the neighbours.

I suppose if you’re the kind of person that’s used to it, being called interesting mightn’t seem like such a big deal. But when you’re me, Danny Mulberry, Mr Could-Do-Better, permanent address your best mate’s garden shed, the bar is never going to be high. She had brown eyes and a dangerous swing in her walk, that policewoman, and I’m sorry but I couldn’t help noticing.

When I’d woken up slightly later than the crack of dawn on the morning after yet another night before, half in, half out of the front gate, with a claggy paintbrush on the ground beside me and an open tin of paint a few feet away, my main concern had been getting to it before Gentleman tried to have it away for his breakfast. He’s probably eaten worse than a bit of solvent in his time, but there’s no point tempting fate, or a dog with a delicate constitution and a firm belief that every tin in the world is filled with gourmet rabbit in gravy.

I managed to get myself upright and push the gate the rest of the way open, and it was right at the moment I picked up the paintbrush and started trying to work out what was going on that the police car cruised around the corner. I mean, seriously, how’s your luck at that time of the morning?

PC Maria Hanley (as it transpired) pulled up to see me stand- ing with the incriminating, almost beyond a reasonable doubt exhibit A in my hand, and a very cushty circumstantial case about to drop in her lap. She leaned over to say something to the other PC and got out of the car, tilting her head to read the painted words on the pavement. Then she stepped neatly around them and addressed me, quite charmingly. ‘And just what is it you think you’re doing, sir?’

I looked down at the paintbrush in my hand, then at the stray bit of hair that had escaped her sensible ponytail and curled on to her neck just inside her collar. It was mightily distracting, and in my defence, I was also experiencing some serious head spins. But did I do what I was perfectly entitled to, which was give it the old, ‘Well, I’m not absolutely sure, but it might not be what it looks like, Officer’ defence? Did I bollocks. What I did was raise both hands in the air, flash what I hoped was a winning smile, and – in hindsight probably purely out of habit and on account of still being half smashed – wink and give it my best shot.

‘Looks like you’ve caught me red-handed, Officer . . .’ I leaned forward to read her badge. ‘Hanley. Bang to rights and don’t pardon the pun!’

Just to clarify, she didn’t actually call me interesting, per se. 

She squinted her lovely mistrusting eyes like she was considering her options and said, ‘Interesting.’ She left enough space either side of the word to let me know that not only did she suspect I might not have an interesting bone in my body, but that every- thing coming out of my mouth had clearly been thoroughly rinsed in alcohol so wasn’t to be trusted in the least. About right on both counts, to be fair. 

Julietta Henderson grew up in the rainforests of North Queensland, Australia. Like many Australians, her love affair with Europe began when she came to London on a working holiday and stayed for more than a decade. 

Now a full-time writer, Julietta divides her life between Melbourne, the UK and wherever she can find winter. 

The Funny Thing About Norman Foreman was Julietta’s debut novel. Sincerely, Me is her second.


Twitter @JuliettaJulia1

Instagram @juliettahendersonauthor

Tuesday 21 February 2023

The Silence Project by Carole Hailey BLOG TOUR #TheSilenceProject @CaroleAHailey @CorvusBooks @RandomTTours #BookReview


Monster. Martyr. Mother.

On Emilia Morris's thirteenth birthday, her mother Rachel moves into a tent at the bottom of their garden. From that day on, she never says another word. Inspired by her vow of silence, other women join her and together they build the Community. Eight years later, Rachel and thousands of her followers around the world burn themselves to death.

In the aftermath of what comes to be known as the Event, the Community's global influence quickly grows. As a result, the whole world has an opinion about Rachel - whether they see her as a callous monster or a heroic martyr - but Emilia has never voiced hers publicly. Until now.

When she publishes her own account of her mother's life in a memoir called The Silence Project, Emilia also decides to reveal just how sinister the Community has become. In the process, she steps out of Rachel's shadow once and for all, so that her own voice may finally be heard.

The Silence Project by Carole Hailey was published in hardback on 9 February 2023 by Corvus. My thanks to the publisher who sent my copy for review as part of this #RandomThingsTours Blog Tour. 

The Silence Project has such an intriguing premise, it's the sort of blurb that really calls to me. I love books that feature cult-like groups, especially those with female lead characters. Carole Hailey has taken a totally imagined scenario and made it feel so incredibly real. The style and structure of the novel feels like a true-crime story, and there were many times when I really felt as though I were reading the truth. 

When Emilia Morris was thirteen years old, her mother Rachel stopped speaking. Rachel had been an ordinary kind of mother before this, she could be moody and Emilia never quite knew if she would be 'funny, understanding Mum', or 'strict and offhand Mum'. They were an average family who ran the local pub and were a huge part of the local community. Not only did Rachel stop speaking, she moved out of the house, pitching a tent at the bottom of the garden.

Rachel communicated with her family, and others by writing notes and keeping notebooks. Her main aim was to make people listen to each other, to 'stop speaking, and start listening'. For Emilia and her father, this is a major turning point in their lives. They have no idea where it will lead, and the novel opens years later when Rachel and thousands of her followers take their own lives by setting themselves on fire. In front of TV cameras, and in front of their families. However, even though Rachel is now dead her legacy lives on, and the Community, as her followers are known as, are a powerful force in the world, admired by many.

The novel is structured in different parts. We follow Emilia as she begins to read through the many notebooks that Rachel kept during her life, in preparation for publication. Emilia is determined to do this, to counteract the thousands of articles and books already written about Rachel, although members of the Community are not happy about this. There are also flashbacks to the early days of the Community, how it grew and strengthened, there are detailed letters from Emilia's father and from her friend. It's a great way to keep the reader's interest. 

What really struck me about The Silence Project was how much of Rachel's teachings that I agreed with. Yes, we need to start listening, we need to look after the planet, we need to care more for one another. But sadly, as happens so many times in organisations that begin with good intentions, the members can become power hungry. Whilst they may be activists and trailblazers, they can become dangerous and negate all of the good works. 

At times shocking, and always eye-opening, this would be the perfect book group read. There is so much to discuss within the pages. It's a book that I will not forget in a hurry. Recommended by me. 

Carole Hailey completed the six-month Guardian/UEA novel writing course taught by Bernardine Evaristo, who imbued Carole with such a love for writing fiction that she abandoned her career in law to undertake an MA in Creative Writing at Goldsmiths, followed by a PhD in Creative Writing at Swansea University. 

Carole was a London Library Emerging Writer 2020/21. 

The Silence Project is her first published novel and was shortlisted for the Bridport Prize Peggy Chapman-Andrews First Novel Award 2020 and highly commended by the judges. 

She lives in Wales with her husband and two rescue dogs.

Instagram @carolehaileyx

Friday 17 February 2023

No More Lies by Rachel Abbott BLOG TOUR #NoMoreLies @RachelAbbott #DCITomDouglas @RandomTTours #BookReview


It would be unfair to blame the woman I met tonight for turning my life upside down. She didn't. It was already upside down. I just didn't know it.

Recently life has been good for Mallory Hansen: a great job, a lovely home, and a wonderful man, Nathan, to share it with.

But now she must ask herself: is it all built on lies?

A shocking accusation has been made against Nathan, and Mallory doesn't know who to believe. He denies everything, but all the signs point to his guilt. She has learned to trust Nathan, but she also remembers the boy he used to be.

As teenagers, Mallory and Nathan were part of a close-knit group of six friends until a vicious argument drove them apart. Now, fifteen years later, they are back in touch - only to find themselves drawn into a web of mutual distrust, one by one...

The attacks on their lives are skilfully targeted, designed to hit them where they hurt the most, and when a young woman disappears and a baby is abducted, DCI Tom Douglas must try to unravel the past and discover who is the architect of their misery.

A DCI Tom Douglas Thriller

No More Lies by Rachel Abbott was published on 16 February 2023 by Black Dot Publishing and is a DCI Tom Douglas thriller. My thanks to the author who sent my copy as part of this #RandomThingsTours Blog Tour. 

Rachel Abbott is an extraordinary good author, and her DCI Tom Douglas series just gets better and better. Whilst it helps to read the previous books in the series, No More Lies can very easily be read as a stand alone story. The author cleverly incorporates the back stories of the main characters within the novel, and does it with ease. 

Mallory and Nate are the golden couple. Attractive, successful and wealthy, they seem to have it all. They grew up together in a small town, and although Nate was always keen to date Mallory, she was having none of it. It wasn't until they met again, many years later that they became a couple. 

Nate is a corporate lawyer in a well respected firm, but things are not going well for him. He's hidden the fact that he's been accused of serious misconduct from Mallory, and when she finally does find out, she struggles to trust him. It's not that she believes he's done something wrong, it's more the fact that he hid the accusation from her .... or is it?  Mallory cannot help but think back to the young Nate that she knew, the boy who dated many girls, casting them aside when he was done with them. But this is not 'her' Nate, he's different now .... or so she wants to believe. 

Mallory and Nate were close friends with four other young people back in the day. All of them were a little different to the other kids and they naturally formed a close-knit friendship circle. They haven't seen each other for many years, there was a falling out just before they all made their way to either university or work, and none of them have made the effort to stay in touch. 

Until now. Nate is not the only one of the group who is suffering. It soon becomes apparent that terrible things are happening in the lives of the others too, and this brings them back together again. 

This is a tense thriller that gripped me from page one. Abbott writes so skilfully, pulling in the reader and then throwing curveball after curveball at them until you really do not have any idea who is behind the events that are causing chaos.  

With a couple of exceptions, none of these characters are particularly likeable. However they are all incredibly well created, making them appear so real, warts and all. 

We mustn't forget Tom Douglas though, as he really is the star of the show. Dependable and a great copper, he is determined to get to the bottom of these cases, slowly realising that the apparently unrelated incidents on his patch have a common thread - the group of friends are connected to each one.  Tom has a great back story, and this continues through this book, adding such depth to his character and leaving the reader wondering just what he's going to be faced with next. 

Taut and skilfully written. No More Lies is an excellent addition to this fabulous series and is highly recommended by me. 

Rachel Abbott is a British author of psychological thrillers. As a self-published author, her first ten
novels (and one novella) in the DCI Tom Douglas series have combined to sell over four million copies. 
All have been bestsellers on Amazon's Kindle store, and her books have been translated into over 20 languages.

In 2015, Rachel was named the number one bestselling self-published author in the UK and the 14th bestselling author (both published and self-published) over the previous five years on Amazon's Kindle in the UK.
In 2017, following a five-way auction, Rachel signed a two-book deal with Headline Publishing Group. The first book, And So It Begins, was published in 2018 and features Sergeant Stephanie King. The second book in this series, The Murder Game was released in April 2020. Books three and four in the series are to be published by Headline in late 2023 and 2024.

Rachel’s writing career began in 2009, when she decided to write a book about a woman facing a situation which gave her no option but to commit murder. In November 2011, she published the story - Only the Innocent - on Amazon. It rose to number one in the charts and remained there for four weeks.
Rachel followed up Only the Innocent with The Back Road, Sleep Tight, Stranger Child, Kill Me Again, The Sixth Window, Come A Little Closer, The Shape of Lies, Right Behind You and Close Your Eyes. All the thrillers in this series focus on the victims and perpetrators of the crimes, and the complex relationships that exist between protagonist and antagonist. This series features Detective Chief Inspector Tom Douglas. 

Rachel grew up near Manchester, England. She worked as a systems analyst, and then founded an
interactive media company, developing software and websites for the education market. When she sold
the company in 2000, she moved to Italy where she restored a 15th-century Italian monastery. For a time she and her husband operated the property as a venue for weddings and holidays. She now lives on the Channel Island of Alderney in a Victorian Fort where she spends her days writing in her office - a former gunpowder shelter.

Twitter: @RachelAbbott

Wednesday 15 February 2023

Ancient Images by Ramsey Campbell BLOG TOUR @ramseycampbell1 @RandomTTours #Giveaway #Prize @flametreepress #Competition


Tower of Fear is a lost horror film starring Karloff and Lugosi. 

A film historian who locates a copy dies while fleeing something that terrified him. 

His friend Sandy Allan vows to prove he found the film. 

She learns how haunted the production was and the survivors of it still are. 

It contains a secret about Redfield, a titled family that owns a favourite British food, Staff o’ Life. 

The Redfield land has uncanny guardians, and one follows Sandy home. 

To maintain its fertility Redfield demands a sacrifice, and a band of new age travellers is about to set up camp there…

Ancient Images by Ramsey Campbell is published by Flame Tree Press on 21 February 2023. As part of this #RandomThingsTours Blog Tour, I am delighted to offer one print copy as a giveaway. Entry is simple, just fill out the competition widget in the blog post. UK entries only please. 


One copy of Ancient Images by Ramsey Campbell

Ramsey Campbell (born 4 January 1946 in Liverpool) is an English horror fiction writer, editor and critic who has been writing for well over fifty years. Two of his novels have been filmed, both for non-English-speaking markets.

Since he first came to prominence in the mid-1960s, critics have cited Campbell as one of the leading writers in his field: T. E. D. Klein has written that "Campbell reigns supreme in the field today", and Robert Hadji has described him as "perhaps the finest living exponent of the British weird fiction tradition", while S. T. Joshi stated, "future generations will regard him as the leading horror writer of our generation, every bit the equal of Lovecraft or Blackwood."

Praise for Ramsey Campbell:

“An absolute master of modern horror. And a damn fine writer at that” (Guillermo del Toro)

“He is unsurpassed in the subtle manipulation of mood... You forget you’re just reading a story” (Publishers Weekly)

“He writes of our deepest fears in a precise, clear prose that somehow manages to be beautiful and terrifying at the same time. He is a powerful, original writer, and you owe it to yourself to make his acquaintance” (Washington Post)

“Britain’s most respected living horror writer” (Oxford Companion to English Literature)

“Easily the best horror writer working in Britain today” (Time Out)

“Britain’s leading horror writer... His novels have been getting better and better” (City Limits)

“One of Britain’s most accomplished horror writers” (Oxford Star)

“The John Le Carre of horror fiction” (Bookshelf, Radio 4) “

One of the best real horror writers at work today” (Interzone)

“The greatest living exponent of the British weird fiction tradition” (The Penguin Encyclopaedia of Horror and the Supernatural)

“Ramsey Campbell has succeeded more brilliantly than any other writer in bringing the supernatural tale up to date without sacrificing the literary standards that early masters made an indelible part of the tradition” (Jack Sullivan, editor of the Penguin encyclopaedia)

Monday 13 February 2023

The Scent of Flowers at Night by Leïla Slimani #TheScentofFlowersbyNight T. @SamTayl66360996 @CoronetBooks #BookReview


'Night is the land of reinvention, whispered prayers, erotic passions. Night is the place where utopias have the scent of the possible, where we no longer feel constrained by petty reality. Night is the country of dreams where we discover that, in the secrecy of our heart, we are host to a multitude of voices and an infinity of worlds...'

Over one night, alone in the Punta della Dogana Museum in Venice, Leïla Slimani grapples with the self as it is revealed in solitude. In a place of old and new, she confronts her past and her present, through her life as a Moroccan woman, as a writer, and as a daughter. Surrounded by art, she explores what it means to behold and clasp beauty; enveloped by night, she confronts the meaning of life and death.

Translated from the French by Sam Taylor

The Scent of Flowers at Night by Leïla Slimani is published on 20 April 2023 by Coronet and is translated from the French by Sam Taylor. My thanks to the publisher who sent my copy for review.

I have read all of Leïla Slimani's novels. She's a wonderfully unique author with a style that really appeals to me. I was so interested to find out what her non-fiction would be like. It's a very slim volume, just 160 pages and I opened it as I got on a train from London, finishing it as I reached my destination.

Throughout my journey I was transported to Venice, where the author was spending the night, alone in a museum. This was part of a project that she'd been encouraged to do, and despite some misgivings, she welcomed the opportunity to escape her writing study, where her current characters were evading her. 

Whilst in the museum, during the night, the author reflects on many many things. The reader learns so much about her life, her early years, her culture and especially about her father whose life, and death made such a huge impact on her.

As she wandered the rooms of the museums, taking in the various art forms, often wondering 'is this art?' and questioning her own ability to see the beauty in some of the exhibits, she contemplates many things. Her love of literature shines through the writing, as she associates books that she's read with art forms that she gazes at, and also with her own life experiences. 

There's an elegance about this writing that makes it totally Slimani and once again, Sam Taylor has captured it perfectly with his exquisite translation of the book. 

It's difficult to pinpoint exactly what the book is about; it's full of relationships, art, literature, history and culture. It's an explanation of self, both to the reader and to the author, almost as if it has taken this one night for her to discover so many things about herself. 

A beautiful, enthralling and startling book. Highly recommended by me. 

Leïla Slimani is the first Moroccan woman to win France’s most prestigious literary prize, the Prix
Goncourt, which she won for Lullaby. 

A journalist and frequent commentator on women’s and human rights, she is French president Emmanuel Macron’s personal representative for the promotion of the French language and culture. 

Born in Rabat, Morocco, in 1981, she lives in Paris with her French husband and their two young children.