TUDOR CONTINUES TAKING THE WORLD BY THORNE WITH HER SECOND BOOK

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Annie Thorne CvrI’m of the opinion that the smaller the community, the larger the secrets. Look at Emmerdale , but seriously, if something mysterious or seedy happens in a small village or town, it becomes public knowledge very quickly. Okay, so it’s not normally shouted out by the town crier but usually talked about in hushed tones behind closed doors, in pubs and over coffees while accompanied by a furtive glance over one’s shoulder. Why the furtive glance I’ll never know, because you know damn well everyone else knows, but just won’t admit it. In a large town or city, secrets large and small get overwhelmed by the sheer volume of the rat race and also hundreds of other, larger, more heinous goings on. That’s why murder mysteries and horror stories work so well in rural settings or small communities. This month’s book review is no exception. Its set in an old mining village in rural Nottinghamshire in the East Midlands of England. The book is ,’The Taking Of Annie Thorne‘ by C.J. Tudor and is published by Penguin (www.penguin.co.uk) on the 21st February 2019.

Joe Thorne is a teacher with a few unpaid gambling debts hanging over his head, which have left their mark thanks to the handywork of a rather cold but attractive female enforcer called Gloria. He returns to his home town of Arnhill to take up a post in his old alma mater, where a couple of months previously another member of the teaching staff Julia Morton brutally murdered her son Ben and took her own life, after leaving the words “Not My Son” scrawled in blood over the child’s bed.

Joe rents Julia’s cottage where the murder took place, but on his first day on job he has a run in the with the school bully, Jeremy Hurst. Joe knows the Hursts, he went to school with the bully’s dad Stephen, who was also a bully and is still a bully with power on the local council. But Joe isn’t here to reconnect with his childhood friends.  No, he’s here because Ben Morton went missing a short while before he was bludgeoned to death by his mother and when he returned a day or so later everyone said his personality had changed.  Ben isn’t the first child to go missing, Joe’s younger sister Annie went missing for forty eight hours twenty years ago and when she returned she wasn’t the same either. What do the Hursts, both father and son, their terminally ill wife and mother Marie, have to do with the missing children and the disused mine that overshadows the village. Can Joe get to the bottom of things while clearing his debts and turning his life around?

When I picked up this book I got the feeling it was going to be dark and that was just from the cover. But what I expected and what I got where two totally different things. I envisaged a murder mystery, or even the hunt for a kidnapped girl told through the eyes of a private eye or police detective. What lay beyond the covers was an in your face horror mystery. Something straight out of the James Herbert or Stephen king guide on how to write a perfectly well plotted and edge of your seat read.

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C.J.Tudor

This is what one encounters from the opening pages. with the discovery of the Morton’s in their blood splattered cottage and then enter our hero, or in this case an originally drawn and depicted antihero, who smokes and drinks his way to the conclusion and  who is made even more memorable  by the addition of a limp and walking stick. Then throw in a thick repertoire of dark humour and at times I didn’t know whether to laugh or cry with fear.

This book is engrossing and while reading it in a silent house on Sunday night, I was conscious of every other noise in the house and frequently went to the bathroom to check for an infestation of beetles, which regularly appear, chittering their way through the book. So if you have a fear of creepy-crawlies then reading this in the dark will not be good for you.

This English Author C.J. Tudor’s second book. Her first, ‘The Chalkman‘ was published in 2018 and her next book is  due out in 2020 and is titled, ‘Other People‘. I haven’t read Tudor’s previous book, but a friend I spoke to last weekend had and raved about it. So, I will try to get to it over the next couple of months. Tudor was born in Salisbury, she grew up in Nottingham where she still lives.

By the time I’d finished this book, I had a hankering for Rigoletto, there were so many twists in this pacey and chilling plot, which again can only add to the success of this book and show what an amazing talent this new entrant into this genre is. So pop down to your local bookshop or download a copy and go and stalk the small winding streets of Arnhill to discover the truth behind the Taking of Annie Thorne.

 

This book is part of a blog tour to see what the other reviewers thought, visit there sites listed below and if you get a copy of the book, comeback after you’ve read it and let us know if you agree.

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PASTOR’S SPANISH MYSTERY IS ON SONG MOST OF THE TIME.

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The Horseman's Song CoverEvery year particularly around the D-Day anniversary in June and Armistice in November, hundreds of friends and relatives and remaining few survivors make the pilgrimage to the world war battle field sites scattered across northern France and Belgium. I know friends who have done it, but it’s something I’ve never done and would like to do, especially the to the Civil War battle sites in America.  One thing you never hear about though, is people going to visit the Spanish Civil War battle sites ( apart from probably the Spanish of course).  Although a quick google does bring up guided tours of their sites. It’s strange I haven’t heard more about the Spanish Civil War, especially in Ireland, considering the couple of thousand Irish men who went over to fight on both sides of the war. This month’s second book review and blog tour is set during the Spanish Civil War, it’s  The Horseman’s Song by Ben Pastor and published by Bitter Lemon Press (www.bitterlemonpress.com) on the 14th February.

Spain 1937, in the midst of the bloody Spanish Civil we find German  Officer and Detective, Martin Von Bora assigned to the Sierras of Aragon in South Western Spain. Where he’s fighting with the Spanish Foreign Legion. There he discovers the body of Federico Garcia Lorca , the brilliant Spanish poet and playwright, as he begins what will be a perilous investigation into the murder, he discovers Walton his opposite number in  the International Brigades is also looking into Lorca’s death, as he was a friend of the victim. Soon Bora and Walton join forces and their joint investigation culminates in a thrilling chase after writers  killer.

This is the sixth novel in Ben Pastor’s historical detective series featuring Martin Von Bora but my first occasion to make his acquaintance.  Researching the other novels prior to writing this I was surprised to find that this is a prequel, being set during the Spanish Civil War. Reading the book, I was intrigued to wonder how Pastor would continue the series, with Von Bora, A Wehrmacht Officer, as a sympathetic lead character as he progressed into the era of World War Two. I anticipated waiting for the next novel to be released but it seems I just need to return to the first and read on from there.

I found this an engrossing read. It is certainly a slow burn. Pastor is known for her accurate wartime settings and this is the case here. However, she doesn’t give us an overall history lesson. She focuses attention on one death and on the lives of two groups of antagonists. The opposing forces occupying two elevated positions above the sierra. They spend their time surviving the heat, deprivation and boredom while they await news of the next offensive. Von Bora himself , has just taken command of the nationalist post after the previous lieutenant was shot. He is a German officer, taking orders from the Nationalist army but carrying out his own intelligence gathering for his German superiors. His counterpart on the Internationalist post is Phillip (Felipe) Walton, who is an American volunteer. Felipe has survived world war one but was unable to settle back into civilian life and left his life and marriage to fight in the Spanish civil war, bringing his secrets and fears along.

Two things emerge to unite Walton’s and Von Bora’s interest and energies. The body of  Frederico Garcia Lorca, a famous poet  discovered in the valley between the two camps. This is one point when Pastor strays from fact. No one is sure what happened to Lorca. The history books tell us he was shot by Franco’s troops at the beginning of the Civil War but no one knows where his body is buried. Pastor has created her own fictional account of his death within these pages, cleverly referring to false rumours of his earlier demise.

When Von Bora comes across the body and is immediately interested in how the unknown man died. He reports on the body to his Colonel, who recognises the identity of the victim from Von Bora’s description and tries to keep it a secret, but when they go to fetch the body it is gone, removed by the Internationalists.  Both sides immediately blame the other and a long game of cat and mouse ensues with the body being moved and reinterred and each man making his own investigation. For some it is a matter of personal sorrow, for others propaganda and for Von Bora a puzzle to be solved.

Ben Pastor

Ben Pastor (Clinque Colonne Magazine)

The second character is a Bruja or witch who lives alone at the top of a neighbouring craggy peak. Both Walton and Von Bora visit her. She enchants them with her free spirit and mystical approach and with her lovemaking skills. The character seems surreal and you are left wondering if she is a figment of their imaginations. There is a great deal of philosophical discussion in the book. I like things a bit more literal and less deep I’m afraid, but I wondered if she was meant to be a metaphor?

Ben Pastor (www.benpastor.com) is the pseudonym of Italian born American author Maria Verbena Volpi. After studying Archaeology in Rome, she moved to the United States to teach in the the Mid-West and Vermont. Her previous five Martin Bora Novels include: Lumen (1999); Liar Moon (2001); A Dark Song Of Blood (2002); Master of One Hundred Bones (2011). She’s also written a detective series centered around a Roman soldier  in the fourth century  and two books featuring a pair of detectives in Prague on the eve of world war one. She has written fourteen books to date, but this is the first time The Horseman’s Song has been published the UK. It was originally published in 2003.

The cover blurb talks about a thrilling chase to catch the killer. I didn’t find that in the story. What I did feel was a slow build of tension and heat. Like a kettle building to the boil.  There was a lot of time when nothing really happened, but I still felt the tension increasing. I was looking forward to a great reveal and grand finale but despite the clever denouement and not seeing the answer in advance, I did feel a little disappointed after all my hard work reading this rather chunky tome. However, overall the reading experience was satisfying because of the excellent writing.

So if you love Historical fiction, then get down to your local bookshop or download a copy and get into the Martin Von Bora series. Not forgetting any of Pastors other historical mysteries.

 

Reviewed By Georgina Murphy

 

This book was reviewed as part of a Random Things Blog Tour, to see what the other reviewers thought, visit their blogs listed below. Then if you read this book, come back and leave a message telling us what you thought.

 

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SIMMONDS GOES ALL FEATURES GREAT AND SMALL IN THE VALLEYS

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Jakes Progress CoverAs of 2018 there were 71 countries on the Global Peace Index, generated annually by the Institute for Economics & Peace, who are seen as being peaceful. The United Kingdom ranks near the lower end of that number, being seen as moderately peaceful, Wales would be higher up the 71 if it weren’t lumped in with England.

The Welsh aren’t really known for being a very aggressive race. Who could have any really beef with a people who really just sing very well, eat leeks like they are going out of fashion and whose main export after coal has been great actors, singers and a footballer?  There have been calls for independence from England in the past. This political ideology has mainly been proffered by the small Welsh Nationalist parties, Plaid Cymru and Yes Cymru. This month’s first book review and blog tour follows a young English journalist as he takes his first steps into a career in journalism in a small Welsh newspaper. The book is Jake’s Progress by David Simmonds published by Bethannie Books in 2018.

Jake Nash has left behind his home in London and his deteriorating relationship with Amanda his girlfriend, to take up a job as a trainee journalist with a small group of newspapers in the valleys of south Wales. His first story, a human-interest piece on a local homeless man, gets him noticed by more than just his work colleagues. He is then sent a press release inviting him to witness a so-called military exercise by a local half-baked Welsh Independence faction, which ends up damaging the local main rail link to Cardiff. Before long, he finds himself in the middle of an attempted kidnapping and unknowingly at the centre of an assassination attempt by a local deranged priest , which threatens the life of his ex-girlfriend.

At a little over 230 pages, barely the width of a proud Welsh leek, this is a short book. But if there’s one thing that springs to mind when reading this book, its that if James Herriot had been a journalist instead of a vet , this is the book he would have written.

With that, you get the sense that this is the start of Herriot-esque romp through the welsh valleys seen through the eyes of a young English hack, doing for Wales and its weird and wonderful characters, what the a fore mentioned Scottish vet did for Yorkshire and its animal lovers.

 

The book is an interesting read for anyone studying journalism who wants to get a feel for how life was, far removed from the bright lights of London and the ways of the alcohol fueled lives of the Fleet Street scribes. Even thought alcohol plays a part in the day to day lives of the Welsh journalists on the local paper, you do really get the feel that life has a more sedate pace down among the collieries and valleys of south Wales. You also have to consider the book is set in the late sixties, a million light years from the digitally driven  24/7 news we get shoveled into us these days.

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David Simmonds

As for the characters, they do come to life from the pages and I could really get the Welsh accent from Simmonds writing. Again, I get the feeling we haven’t really got to know them as well as we would in a stand-alone story, hence the feeling that this is the start of a series. If so, then I’ll definitely look forward to the others. Especially when you consider there is a developing romance between Jake and his colleague called Lotte, which would have been brought to some sort of conclusion if it were a one off story.

This English author David Simmonds first book. After leaving school he considered becoming a teacher , studying at the University of North Wales. He lasted six weeks then went to north America for a year before returning home to train as a journalist on local newspapers in south Wales, before working for most of his life as a reporter for BBC Wales. He now lives in Penarth, just outside Cardiff with his wife and their irascible cat “Mrs Grumpy”. When not running around after his three grandsons he can be found rowing the local river Taff.

Is the book as funny as it claims on the outside? Its humorous as well as an easy and enjoyable read. No, it’s not as laugh out loud funny as ‘All Creatures Great and Small’, but animals and their owners will always provide better material. So, if you are looking for a light and darkly comical journey through life of a young journalist in nineteen sixties Wales, download a copy or order it from your local bookshop.

Reviewed by Adrian Murphy

 

This book is part of a Random Things Blog Tour, to see what the other reviewers thought of it see poster below and go visit their sites. Then if you pick up a copy of the book, comeback and tell us what you thought after you’ve read it. We’d really appreciate the feed back.

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THERE IS NOTHING SOMBRE ABOUT FLINTS MIDLAND GATHERING

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midland cover imageIt’s only the end of January and you’ve probably already had your fill of family get togethers. Unless that is, you’re me. We missed out on our annual Christmas family get together this year as the arrival of my sister’s third baby got in the way but we do have another eleven months to correct that, to include: regular Sunday lunch at Mum’s and each of our houses, a Christening for my new nephew and a family wedding in London. I will hopefully try to get to see my wife’s parents, all four of them, at some stage of the year either in Lincolnshire or Nottinghamshire, The Sherwooder’s might come to Ireland too. As for a family a get together for all of them. it’s complicated as they say, but aren’t all families in some respect?

The author, Robert Brault, once said, ‘what greater blessing to give thanks for at a family gathering, than the family and the gathering...’ He’s obviously never been to a gathering of the family in this month’s third book review. The book is Midland by James Flint and published by Unbound (www.unbound.com) on the 24th January.

Alex Wold is a hard-nosed City of London stock trader, who sees the ‘soft’ Britain of 1918-1978 (from the end of the First World War to the rise of Thatcher) as ‘an anomaly’. Nevertheless, the book opens with Alex, perhaps dis-oriented by the imminent birth of his second child, plunging into the Thames to try to help a beached whale to find its way to sea. We soon learn that his extremely expensive suit was ruined in vain, and his reassurances to his son prove hollow, when the whale dies. Shortly after he hears of the death of his mother’s ex-husband Tony Nolan from a heart  attack.

Alex must now prepare to face both sides of the family, as the Nolans and the Wolds have had a difficult few years behind them, but maybe this is the ideal opportunity Alex has been looking for to lay the ghosts of the past.

The book centres on a ‘home-coming’ of two families who had grown up side-by-side. Now adults, they had been linked in many and complex ways but had been scattered for even more complex reasons. Tony was the father of one of the grown-up families. He is also the former husband of Margaret Wold, whose ‘children’ from her second marriage come home to give her some moral support. Tony has attracted some admirers from both families, and repelled others, with his dodgy but successful dealings in financial derivatives and his domineering personality.

Outdoor shot of funeral

Reuniting in their home town allows for the gradual re-emergence of old grudges, suppressed passions, friendships and suspicions. As readers, we are gradually let into some of the backstories of the two families

As the funeral comes closer, the plots multiply. We follow Tony’s hippie runaway son bumming his way around Caribbean beaches, until he gets enticed into a drug ring which is bigger than he can handle. But why did he leave in the first place?

We share the frustrations of another member of the Nolan clan, who sees herself as a serious journalist but is constantly put on trivial celebrity-watch. We feel her anger as she is undermined and bullied out of her job by her ambitious new assistant. There are also hints of a complex web of love affairs between the ‘children’ of the two families in the past, including a deep and sincere but incestuous relationship between half-siblings.

For me, these little sub-plots make the book worth-while and give flesh to the only slightly intriguing who-slept-with-who? mystery which drives the story towards the end.

Some of the sub-plots are not much more than throw-aways. One little half-page insight into the daily life of a trader concerns one of Alex Wold’s early experiences. He was worried by a news item about a possible Chinese invasion of Taiwan, where he has invested heavily in steel futures. An older hand says: ‘don’t worry, just check what rice is doing’. Alex checks, and finds ‘no movement’. The old hand replies ‘exactly – no war’. The logic was that Chinese leaders would know that an invasion of Taiwan would lead to foreign sanctions. If they planned to go to war, they would therefore be buying up and stockpiling foreign rice, leading to a rise in prices.

As the story goes on, the younger generation begin to learn the secrets of each other’s love-lives, mostly with each other.  What they find more shocking are the hints emerging about their parents’ love lives. As someone said of the 1960s: ‘every generation thinks they have invented sex and are disturbed when they find that their parents got there before them’.

The characters cover a wide range of English Midlands middle-class life. They are well rounded and avoid too many obvious stereotypes.

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James Flint

This is English author James Flints fourth book. His others are Habituis (1998), 52 Ways To Magic America (2002) and The book of Ash (2004) . Flint wrote Midland in installments and performed a chapter each year at the Port Eliot festival in St Germans in Cornwall. He started his working life as an apprenticeship  on the Times of India Newspaper in New Delhi, before going on to study Philosophy in Oxford.

Midland is a well-crafted tapestry of little vignettes, if I can mix my metaphors as freely as Flint mixes his story-lines. James Flint is a superb story-teller with a good eye for character.  One to watch. So get down to your local bookshop and order a copy, or download it to your e-reader.

 

Reviewed by Robin Hanan

 

This book review is part of a Random Things Blog Tour, below you’ll find a list of the other bloggers who reviewed it. Go visit their sites and see what they thought. Then once you’ve read the the book, go back and see if you agree and even you don’t leave a message saying why.

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6 LOVES, ONE QUESTION, DO I LOVE OR LOATHE BILLY BINNS

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billy binns coverI recently came across a television programme on Channel 4 in Britain called, ‘My Family Secrets Revealed’. It’s a kind of genealogical antiques roadshow, where people who have questions about their ancestry or have reached a roadblock in their own research meet with a team of experts to find out the information. Obviously, the show highlights the most colourful or surprising of stories but its fascinating how intriguing some of the lives of those we would consider ordinary might be.

With this in mind, I was looking forward to reading this months second book review, it’s  The Six Loves of Billy Binns, by Richard Lumsden. Published by Tinder Press (www.tinderpress.co.uk) on the 24th January.

The titular character Billy has lived for well over a century. He is now residing in an old people’s home in London. He decides to write down his memories and give them to his son. He feels he has been in love several times and would like to experience the feeling of love one last time before he dies. He starts to reminisce about the women he has loved in the past and through these memories we are taken on a journey through the history of the 20th century.

Born into a poor working-class family in London in 1900.  The story of his birth provides a mystery which carries through most of the book. We pass through his childhood and teenage years, getting to know him. Still underage to enlist, Billy never the less joins the army at the beginning of the Great War. We know this horrendous experience adversely affected a  generation of young men, and Billy’s experience, I felt defined him. The war and losses of friends clearly and unsurprisingly affect him. After his return home he adjusts the facts of the events to show himself in a better light and tries to move on with his life. Not a problem I thought, confession and breast beating would help no one. He meets a girl, a very fortuitous match, and falls in love. However, he then makes a series of choices that will affect the rest of his life.

I did struggle with this book, as I find it hard to read a story where I feel no sympathy or empathy with the main character and no more so than with Mr. Billy Binns. However, I pressed on, hoping that he would redeem himself and I could root for him once more. I shall not give away any further details of the plot and leave it to other readers to decide how they feel about Billy at the end of the story.

There is good and bad in all of us. I was left feeling that Billy is a flawed human who has experienced tragedy and bad luck, but that this is sometimes caused by his own stupidity and selfishness. Your interpretation and leanings to hero or villain will depend on your own internal compass. Its easy to be righteous from the comfort of your armchair. I’m sure most of our lives wouldn’t bear such scrutiny.

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Richard Lumsden

This English actor, writer and composer Richard Lumsden’s (www.richardlumsden.com) first novel. He has worked in film, TV and theatre for over 30 years and has appeared in films such as Sense and Sensibility (1995), Sightseers (2012), Downhill (2014) and most recently Darkest Hour with Gary Oldman (2017). He was previously married to Emma Thompson’s sister the actress Sophie Thompson.

The Six Loves of Billy Binns was a moving and thought provoking read.  What will we do to preserve ourselves and for love? Life is full of what ifs? I found myself imagining different plot turns if Billy had chosen different options. I felt quite exasperated with him at some moments!

A man as old as the century was a good plot device. The historical references were well researched and I felt the love stories were anchored beautifully in each time. I had previously read, ‘The Unlikely Pilgrimage of Harold Fry’ by Rachel Joyce and ‘The 100 Year Old Man Who Climbed Out of the Window and Disappeared’ by Jonas Jonasson and this I found was a similar style of read.

This is a book I’ll be recommending to friends and will reread. Persist and enjoy until the end. It stays in your head and it’s worth it. So head down to your local book shop, library or download a copy or an audio book and see whether you will stand with or against Mr Binns.

Reviewed by Georgina Murphy

 

This book review is part of a Random Things Blog Tour, to see what the other reviewers thought, go to their sites listed below. Then once you’ve read the book comeback and leave a comment stating whether you agree or disagree.

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BROADRIBB’S THIRD BOOK WILL TAKE YOUR BREATH AWAY.

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Deep Dirty Truth AW.inddI noticed over Christmas that American TV’s love affair with remakes is continuing unabated. In the past couple of years we’ve seen the updated return of Hawaii Five-O and more recently the return of McGyver. Now, both of these have more or less kept to the basic premise of their originals, Steve Garret  still says “book him Dano...” now and then and McGyver still wears a well worn leather jacket and fixes most problems with his trusty Swiss Army Knife, much to the delight of Victoronix. But what has shocked me most over the festive season is seeing the trailer for the new Magnum PI!!!! The actor playing him is some unknown and he doesn’t even have a big bushy mustache. Also adding fuel to my ire is the fact that “Higgins” originally played by the diminutive actor John Hillerman, has been replaced by a young blonde… Sacre Bleu!!

But don’t worry because this month’s first book review, and the first review of the new year, sees the return of  a sassy female bounty hunter / private investigator. Its Lori Anderson, the creation of real life Brummie bounty hunter and author, Steph Broadribb. The book is Deep Dirty Truth and is published by Orenda (www.orendabooks.co.uk) on the 5th January.

Lori is just getting her life back together when she is kidnapped while on the school run and taken across country to Miami, where she is forced to dress in a skimpy dress and sandals, then frog marched marched up to meet her captor. Its “The Old Man” head of the notorious mob family the Bonchese’s. These two have history, he’s put a price on Lori and her family’s head after she shot her abusive husband and trusted Bonchese lieutenant in cold blood a number of years ago.  He offers her the opportunity of lifting the bounty on her head if she rescues a fixer of his, Carlton North. The only problem he’s being held by the Feds, prior to testifying in court in 48 hrs time. Reluctantly she takes the job, but when she finds out where North is being held with the help of a shady FBI source, she and North are ambushed and double crossed by “The Old Man’s” son, who is trying to depose him, leaving a couple of federal agents dead. Now Lori and North are on the run from the law and the Mob. Can she get Carlton North back to “The Old Man” in one piece, stay one step ahead of the Feds, as well as protecting her family who are also being hunted by the mob?

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This book is a real fire cracker and takes off from the first page. If you are into one session reads this is right up your street. I was one hundred pages in after opening the book, before I had to step away to take a deep breath and re-hydrate myself. Broadribb’s writing style is full on and unrelenting, but having reviewed her debut novel over a year ago and got blown away by that I wasn’t expecting anything less.

As for the characters, there’s only really one and that’s the main protagonist Lori Anderson. She’s a tough talking, hard fighting woman who can look after herself  but she’s not made of Teflon, because she bleeds and hurts, not just physically but emotionally, especially when her family are in danger.

As for the support cast, they aren’t exactly cut outs either, they are well rounded and acutely defined. If anyone comes across as a support cast its Lori’s love interest JT and their daughter Dakota. The chapters which feature them come across as more of a distraction than a way of building tension. Never did I feel like they were ever in any danger, unlike in the previous books.

Another slight niggle for me is Lori’s cellular phone. She needs a new one, like yesterday.  The story is set in present day, but her phone never seems to last longer than a couple of hours, my phone can last up to 24 hours with moderate usage.

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Steph Broadribb

This is English Author Steph Broadribb’s third Lori Anderson book. Her others are Deep Down Dead (2016) and Deep Blue Trouble (2017). The Lori Anderson series was inspired by her training as a bounty hunter in the States. She also writes under the pseudonym Stephanie Marland and her first novel a twisting crime thriller My Little Eye was published in April 2018. Her follow up to that, titled You Die Next, will be published in April 2019. Steph was born in Birmingham and later grew up in the English county of Buckinghamshire, where she still lives surrounded by horses, cows and chickens. She’s also a keen blogger and writes under the other alter ego, Crime Thriller Girl (www.crimethrillergirl.com).

If you are looking for a fresh female lead to take you through first few weeks of the new year, whose perilous adventures are always edgy and original from the get-go, then Lori Anderson is your girl. So, I suggest if you haven’t read any of the previous Lori Anderson Books, then download the first in the series or head down to your local bookshop and get a copy.

This book review is part of a Random Things Blog Tour, take a look at the other blog tour dates below and visit the reviewer’s sites to see what they thought. Then if you agree or disagree after you’ve  read the book, comeback and let us know.

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SVEISTRUP’S DEBUT WILL SEND YOU NUTS FOR THE NEXT INSTALMENT

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The Chestnut Man JacketIt’s almost a week since some of us roasted chestnuts on an open fire and possibly a good while since Jack Frost nipped at our nose (it was a very mild Christmas Day here on the East Coast of Ireland). In life as well as in literature criminals or especially serial killers get fancy monikers, while plain old Jack Frost and the like are the heroes, as in ITV’s detective drama starring the very wonderful David Jason. Although The Chestnut Man is a new one on me in the evil villainous names department. He’s the mysterious killer in this months second and last review and blog tour of 2018.  It’s The Chestnut Man by Søren Sveistrup and published by Michael Joseph, part of Penguin  (www.penguin.co.uk/company/publishers/michael-joseph.html) on the 10th January.

One Tuesday in October, the Danish Social Affairs Minister Rosa Hartung returns to her job after a leave of absence, following the abduction of her daughter who was never found, despite a suspect being arrested and convicted but unwilling to disclose the child’s fate. On the same day, police in Copenhagen discover the body of a young woman in a playground, one hand has been severed and a chestnut figure is found near the body. Young Detective Naia Thulin and her partner Mark Hess a detective recently dismissed from Europol, are assigned to the case. Soon they find evidence connecting the chestnut man to the Rosa Hartung’s disappeared daughter. Shortly afterwards when another woman’s body is discovered, this time with both hands severed and another chestnut figure nearby, the two detectives realize they are racing against the clock to catch a serial killer before the city becomes totally paralysed by fear and he completes his twisted agenda…

I have a confession. I missed the furore surrounding ‘The Killing’, the Bafta and Emmy award winning series created by Dane, Søren Sviestrup. The thriller captured the imagination and shredded the nerves of fans worldwide. It also started a trend for Faroe Isle knitwear- I’m not so sorry I missed that.  It wasn’t the subtitles which deterred me, I have enjoyed many of the ‘Walter Presents’ international offerings on Channel 4 but I hate missing the beginning of a story and unless I watch BBC4 shows when they are aired I cannot catch up with them or watch them ‘on demand’ with Sky here in Ireland.

My friends will tell you that I’m the same with a series of books featuring the same characters, I have to start at the start and stay in order. In that way I was delighted to be in at the beginning of the Thulin and Hess story reading The Chestnut Man, Sviestrup’s debut novel. I predict (and hope) for many more cases to come.

Soren Sviestrup

Søren Sveistrup

 

I love a good murder mystery. Weaned on Agatha Christie, I moved onto Ruth Rendell and PD James at an early age and still return to those old favourites when the urge arises. I loved their ingenuity, the twists, turns and red herrings. I prefer to not know the identity of the killer at the start but to be led through a maze of clues, misdirection and revelations to a satisfying conclusion. This book ticked all  my boxes. Two flawed and realistic detectives, newly paired. A ‘cold case’, a serial killer with a disturbing signature and a tension filled climax.

This is a meaty book at 500 pages but I couldn’t wait to pick it up each day. This was my equivalent of a binge watch. I could easily see it being made into a television series. Some the writing is very much a screenplay. You can almost hear the movements of the actors being directed. There are no long descriptive passages regarding scenery or inner thoughts, unless they are pertinent to the narrative. This is very much plot driven. Saying that I enjoyed the characters.

The book introduces us to a typical sleuthing pairing in Naia Thulin, a detective in the murder squad, looking to advance her career and Hess sent back to the police department after some infraction at Europol . Hess is at first disinterested in the new case, just biding his time until he can return to his real life. but he soon is drawn headlong in. As for the minister Rosa Hartung and her husband, their presence suggests there is political machinations at play. The book is populated with a plethora of smaller characters who all have a role to play, even if its only to help us learn a little more about the main characters and maybe send us off tack.

This is Danish scriptwriter Søren Sviestrop’s first book, but he is best known for his highly acclaimed TV crime drama The Killing, which won various international awards and sold in more than a hundred countries. More recently, Sveistrup wrote the screenplay for Jo Nesbø’s The Snowman. He obtained a master’s in literature and in History from the University of Copenhagen and studied at the Danish Film School. He has also won countless prizes, including an Emmy for Nikolaj and Julie and a BAFTA for The Killing

Like the Killing, In The Chestnut Man there is a mix of police work and politics. There is aFaroe Isle sweater dig at bureaucracy and paper pushing in relation to those who fall through the cracks and left without support. The violence is graphic. The tension builds. I’ve always been particularly terrified by those movies and dramas where the victim enters their home and the bad guy is already there hiding so this book gave me a couple of anxious moments, but for a thriller that can only be a plus!

I thoroughly enjoyed this book and so will you. I suggest you  pre-order a copy at your local bookshop or download one post haste. Meanwhile I await a sequel with anticipation and the odd glance over my shoulder into the darkening house, while nibbling  on a roasted chestnut…

Reviewed by Georgina Murphy

This review  is part of a Blog Tour, to see what the other reviewers thought see their sites below and visit them. If you agree or disagree with their reviews after reading the book, let us know.

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Adrian Murphy