Pushing Up Daisies: Mothers Day Review

As it’s mother’s day today I’m going to do something a little different. My mum is a massive fan of Cosy Crime novels, her absolute favourite are the Agatha Raisin series! She is always telling me about her latest read and is constantly on at me to read one of them. So, today I decided to hand over the reigns to her so she can have a chat about her latest crime read, Pushing Up Daisies by M.C. Beaton.

First up the Blurb:

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Allotment wars!  

Lord Bellingham, Carsely’s biggest landholder, has enraged locals by saying he is going to sell off their allotments to make way for a new housing development. So when he turns up dead, poisoned by antifreeze, nobody mourns his passing.

On another fine summer’s day Agatha visits Carsley’s allotments where everything looks peaceful and perfect: people of all ages digging in the soil and working hard to grow their own fruit and veg. Agatha feels almost tempted to take on a strip herself . . . but common sense soon prevails. She doesn’t really like getting her hands dirty.

She is introduced to three oldtimers who have just taken over a new strip; Harry Perry, Bunty Daventry and Josephine Merriweather are lamenting the neglected condition of the patch. But as Harry starts to shovel through the weeds and grass his spade comes across something hard so he bends down and tries to move the object. And then he starts to yell . . . 

The body is that of Peta Currie, a newcomer to the village – but who would want to murder her? Blonde and beautiful she’s every local male’s favourite. And then Lord Bellingham’s son engages Agatha to do some digging of her own and very soon Agatha is thrown into a world of petty feuds, jealousies and disputes over land. It would seem that far from being tiny gardens of Eden, Carsley’s allotments are local battlefields where passions – and the bodycount – run high!

Thoughts About the Book:

Basically she’s asked to investigate the death of the horrible man, Lord Bellingham, who is a nasty piece of work and wants to take away the allotments of Carsely, which has upset a lot of the locals. So Agatha is dragged in to investigate his murder but as usual man-mad Agatha manages to get herself into heaps of trouble!

I thoroughly enjoyed reading it with Agatha up to her normal tricks. It is another funny novel in the series and is up to the usual Agatha Raisin standards with her love of men.

It is a throughly good-hearted read with I would recommend to others – especially for anyone who likes a really good dose of humour with their crime.

This novel can be purchased through Amazon here

Or Waterstones here

To find out more about M.C.Beaton follow her on Twitter at @mc_beaton.

 

Killer Review: Blood Tide by Claire McGowan

The Blurb:

Forensic psychologist Paula Maguire returns in BLOOD TIDE, the fifth novel in Claire McGowan’s series.

Blood Tide

Called in to investigate the disappearance of a young couple during a violent storm, Paula Maguire, forensic psychologist, has mixed feelings about going back to Bone Island. Her last family holiday as a child was spent on its beautiful, remote beaches and returning brings back haunting memories of her long-lost mother.

It soon becomes clear that outsiders aren’t welcome on the island, and with no choice but to investigate the local community, Paula soon suspects foul play, realising that the islanders are hiding secrets from her, and each other.

With another storm fast approaching, Paula is faced with a choice. Leave alive or risk being trapped with a killer on an inescapable island, as the blood tide rushes in…

This is the fifth instalment in the Paula Maguire series which sees Paula being asked for her expertise to investigate the disappearance of Matt and Fiona, a couple from London who recently moved to Bone Island. As Paula starts to delve deeper Paula realises there’s something more sinister going on in the Island – a storm is setting in where the inhabitants are acting strangely, the blood tide is coming and a killer is lurking in their midsts, one that is watching her every move.

Nail-biting! I have so far enjoyed the other books in the series and this one doesn’t disappoint. It’s been nearly three years since Paula had a daughter, Maggie, but her personal life is as confusing and compelling as ever. With her personal life in tatters Paula finds her life in danger, without any back-up, on a treacherous Island where everything and everyone seems to be out to get her. It was great to see the familiar cast of characters back with more heartache and complicated personal lives – will Paula ever get her happy ending? Probably not, its crime fiction, but it doesn’t stop me hoping.

One of the best things about this novel is the creepy and harsh setting of Bone Island, with its beautiful sands and charming wildlife – it  just made the events on this island and its inhabitants even more chilling. I also loved the vivid descriptions and the treacherous storm which just made me feel plain terrified. It was good to see Paula out on a limb without being on familiar territory seeing her pushed to her limits and cut off from everything and everyone. It really brought out more of Paula’s character and I couldn’t stop reading.

The novel also features Sergeant Bob Hamilton’s viewpoint of past events where it seems he may know more than he’s been telling about Paula’s missing mother, Margaret Maguire. I loved finding out more about her mother’s past which ran alongside the present day action and just when I thought I had it figured out the author reveals a massive bombshell – and now I have to wait until the next instalment to find out what happened.

Again the author does a fantastic job of describing the Troubles in Ireland and highlighting a period of history which I was too young to properly understand at the time. I loved the new setting of Bone Island the author sets the story in which created an atmosphere of fear for the characters and a chilling narrative, while still tantalising me as the reader with new information about Paula’s missing mother whose story threads throughout the series.

I think this is the best novel in the series so far and would highly recommend this book for any avid crime reader! If you haven’t already done so should I would recommend reading the other books in the series.

I would like to say a big thanks to Millie Seaward and Headline Publishers for my advanced review copy.

This novel isn’t out until 23rd March but the good news is you can preorder this book from Amazon just click here

Or to preorder this book from Waterstones click here.

To find out more about Claire McGowan follow her on Twitter at @inkstainsclaire or check out her website here.

Blog Tour: Deadly Game by Matt Johnson

Today I’m delighted to be on the blog tour for Matt Johnson’s new novel Deadly Game, published by Orenda Books. I have something a bit different today, with the 35th anniversary of the death of Matt Johnson’s friend and colleague WPC Yvonne Fletcher coming up, I handed over the reigns to Matt to talk about her loss and what happened on that fateful day.

Before I hand over, I wanted to share with you the blurb for Deadly Game – plus don’t forget to stop off at all the other stops on this tour!

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Blurb:

Reeling from the attempts on his life and that of his family, Police Inspector Robert Finlay returns to work to discover that any hope of a peaceful existence has been dashed. Assigned to investigate the Eastern European sex-slave industry just as a key witness is murdered. Finlay, along with his new partner Nina Brasov, finds himself facing a ruthless criminal gang, determined to keep control of the traffic of people into the UK.

To buy this on Amazon click here.

To find out more about Matt Johnson follow him on Twitter @Matt_Johnson_UK.

 

Now over to Matt.

Losing a friend by Matt Johnson

17th April sees the 35th anniversary of one of the worst days I have ever experienced. It is a day when a friend and colleague was shot and killed. Three decades later, despite the identity of the killer being known, he remains a free man.

On 17th April 1984 I was a 27 year old advanced car driver working in central London on a police traffic car. WPC Yvonne Fletcher was a 25 year old officer on the Vice Squad at West End Central Police Station. My wife of the time served on this same squad. Yvonne was one of her best mates and part of our circle of friends.

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Yvonne had been at a house-warming party at my home a few weeks before this fateful day. My lasting memory of her is of seeing her sitting at the bottom of the stairs in my house, looking relaxed and chatting with friends.

At 10.18 am Yvonne was with a small contingent of officers supervising a demonstration outside the Libyan Peoples Bureau in St James Square, London. Her fiancé was among the officers with her. Yvonne had her back to the Bureau.

Without warning, someone in the Libyan bureau fired a Sterling submachine gun into the group of protesters and police officers. Eleven people were hit by bullets, including Yvonne.

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Severely injured WPC Yvonne Fletcher being helped by colleagues

An ambulance was quickly sent to the scene and my patrol car was sent to escort the ambulance to the Westminster Hospital.

Anyone who has worked in central London will know just how quickly a major incident can cause the streets to become blocked. Main roads rapidly snarl up and the side streets and rat runs that the taxis and locals use, soon follow. Gridlock is the result.

Getting the ambulance to the hospital proved to be a nightmare. We were forced to drive onto pavements and, on several occasions, we had to get out of the car to get vehicles moved so we could get through. At that time we were aware that the casualty was a police officer, but didn’t know who.

I remember that the ambulance overtook the police car just before we reached the hospital. We had to get out of the car to clear traffic from a junction and the crew seized the opportunity to make progress and get through. When we pulled in behind the ambulance, Yvonne had already been taken into the emergency area. I remember seeing the fantastic efforts and the work that was being put in by the nursing staff to help her. They were fantastic and couldn’t have tried harder.

Yvonne died from her wounds one hour later. She had been shot in the back and abdomen.

After escorting the ambulance, my car was sent to help with the traffic chaos that followed the start of the resulting siege.

I went home that afternoon and switched on the six o’clock news. It was only then that my former wife and I learned that the murdered officer was our friend.

The following day, I was assigned as a driver to the SAS team that had been brought in and stationed at a nearby RAF base. My job was to run the lads around, in short I was a gofer and taxi driver. I made frequent trips to the infamous ‘blue screen’ that was built to block the view into the square and I was present on the night that something amazing happened.

Yvonne’s hat and four other officers’ helmets were left lying in the square during the siege of the embassy. Images of them were shown repeatedly in the British media. They came to represent something quite iconic as a symbol of unarmed police officers who had been attacked so ruthlessly.

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What happened was that a PC, acting completely on his own, ran into the square and snatched Yvonne’s hat. There were shouts of ‘get back, get back’ from the firearms officers but the unarmed PC was determined and fast. As he returned to the blue screen, he was bundled away by a senior officer and a firearms officer. I never did find out what happened to the PC but I suspect he got into trouble.

Fact is, what he did was a reckless thing to do. It is quite possible that the hat may have been playing a part in the hostage negotiations that were going on behind the scenes. We will never know. But what I can tell you is how much that PCs actions lifted the spirits of people like me who were sitting watching while the ‘powers that be’ seemed to be doing very little. Grabbing Yvonne’s hat from under the noses of the terrorists stuck two fingers up to them and told them what we thought of them.

To that anonymous PC, I say thanks.

The ‘Peoples Bureau’ was surrounded by armed police for eleven days, in one of the longest police sieges in London’s history. Meanwhile, in Libya, Colonel Gaddafi claimed that the embassy was under attack from British forces, and Libyan soldiers surrounded the British Embassy in Tripoli.

No satisfactory conclusion was reached in the UK, and following the taking of six hostages in Tripoli, the occupiers of the Bureau were allowed to fly out of the UK. The Tripoli hostages were not released for several months, ironically almost on the exact day that the memorial to Yvonne Fletcher was unveiled.

In July 2012 Andrew Gilligan of The Sunday Telegraph received reliable reports that Salah Eddin Khalifa, a pro-Gaddafi student, fired the fatal shot. Unlike a previous suspect named as the killer, Mr Khalifa is known to be alive and may, one day, be arrested. He is currently living in Cairo, a city to which he moved as the Gaddafi regime crumbled.

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Yvonne’s death is still the only murder of a British cop on UK soil to remain unsolved.

But, we haven’t forgotten.

About Matt Johnson:

Matt2016Matt Johnson served as a soldier and Metropolitan Police officer for 25 years. Blown off his feet at the London Baltic Exchange bombing in 1993, and one of the first police officers on the scene of the 1982 Regent’s Park bombing, Matt was also at the Libyan People’s Bureau shooting in 1984 where he escorted his mortally wounded friend and colleague, Yvonne Fletcher, to hospital. Hidden wounds took their toll. In 1999, Matt was discharged from the police with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. While undergoing treatment, he was encouraged by his counsellor to write about his career and his experience of murders, shootings and terrorism. One evening, Matt sat at his computer and started to weave these notes into a work of fiction that he described as having a tremendously cathartic effect on his own condition. His bestselling thriller, Wicked Game, which was shortlisted for the CWA John Creasey Dagger, was the result.

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Chiller Review: Everything But The Truth by Gillian McAllister

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Do you ever check your partner’s phone? 
Should you?
Are you prepared for the consequences?

It all started with the email.

Rachel didn’t even mean to look. She loves Jack and she’s pregnant with their child. She trusts him.

But now she’s seen it, she can’t undo that moment. Or the chain of events it has set in motion.

Why has Jack been lying about his past? Just what exactly is he hiding? And doesn’t Rachel have a right to know the truth at any cost?

Wow! I adored this book and just devoured this.

Rachel (same name as me so what’s not to like ha-ha) has not known Jack that long but she knows he is something special and their relationship is something so bright she can’t begin to describe – she’s even pregnant with his child. But that all changes when one night an email pings onto Jack’s iPad, she didn’t mean to read it. It was an accident. But she can’t undo what she’s just seen, or let it go. As Rachel starts to wonder if Jack has been lying about his past and what he is hiding, she starts noticing small inconsistencies. But as Rachel digs deeper she realises there’s more to his story then he is telling her.

I liked both characters and found them very believable. Even though Rachel’s actions in particular can be somewhat questionable as she seeks to uncover the truth, I could also sympathise with her desperation to know. I also really weirdly liked the character of Jack and could totally understand what led him to do something inexcusable.

This story is told in both the present day and set one year ago which slowly unravels Rachel’s secret, a secret she’s terrified of anyone finding out and I think this is partly why she becomes so obsessed with Jack and his past.

I throughly enjoyed this book and found myself absorbed in Rachel’s and Jack’s world. I especially loved setting of Oban in Scotland was particularly creepy and isolated which created tension and kept me as the reader on my toes.

What I also loved about this book is that the author isn’t afraid to cross into uncomfortable territory and plays on the characters dark secrets to create a compelling story.

The heart of this story is about love and relationships and the depths people would go to uncover the truth. I think what really makes this novel is the ending, it really ties up the story of Rachel and Jack and in a way I wasn’t expecting.

I think this is another fabulous debut Domestic Noir novel which has a heart-breaking romance at the centre of the story but isn’t afraid to take a dark turn. I would definitely recommend this novel for anyone who likes a great psychological thriller.

I will be keeping an eye out for future novels by this author!

I would like to say a big thanks to Michael Joseph, part of Penguin Random House UK for my advanced review copy.

This novel is out now and can be purchased through Amazon here

Or Waterstones here

To find out more about Gillian McAllister follow her on Twitter at @GillianMAuthor.

My Blog Is One Today

So, a year ago today I decided to launch my blog into the world. I had been playing with the idea for a little while but it took me a while to finally commit and press that publish button. The idea originally started in my first year at City University, where many of you may know I am studying an MA in Crime Novel writing.

I love connecting with the blogger world as it has really widened my reading and I have found a number of authors and novels which I wouldn’t have necessarily have picked up on my own but have turned out to be superb. I have also met a lot of awesome new people; bloggers, authors, publicists etc. and talk daily to my bookish friends.

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Since starting my blog I have had a lot more confidence in myself and have put myself out there more. Last year, I went to some amazing crime festivals and met such lovely friendly people;  I attended Deal Noir, Greenwich Book fest, Crimefest, Theakstons Crime Festival in Harrogate, Killer Women and Iceland Noir. I have also been to a number of First Monday Crime events, Rooftop book club events, and some fantastic book launches. I hope to attend many more this year.

 

Recently, I have also been quoted in two published books, Before I let You in by Jenny Blackhurst and Deep Down Dead by Steph Broadribb – which I would never have imagined a year ago!

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I would like to say a huge thank you to all my blogger friends, readers, publicists, author friends and the wonderful people on Book Connectors and The Book Club for supporting my blog – I love being a part of this community. Also thanks Sam Dee, William Ryan and Steph Broadribb, aka Crime Thriller Girl for helping me take the plunge (apologies for the self-indulgence by this point)

**This competition has now ended and the winners notified**

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So as a little thank you – I am running a competition. For one lucky person I have up for grabs:

A copy of Steph Broadribb’s Deep Down Dead – one of my top picks for 2016

A shiny new notebook

And a little chocolate treat

 To enter click on the Rafflecopter giveaway link.

Entries only open to people who live in the UK due to postage (apologies).

Killer Review: Quieter Than Killing by Sarah Hilary

Blurb:

Quieter Than Killing - D.I. Marnie Rome 4 (Hardback)

It’s winter, the nights are dark and freezing, and a series of seemingly random assaults is pulling DI Marnie Rome and DS Noah Jake out onto streets of London. When Marnie’s family home is ransacked, there are signs that the burglary can have only been committed by someone who knows her. Then a child goes missing, yet no-one has reported it. Suddenly, events seem connected, and it’s personal.

Someone out there is playing games. It is time for both Marnie and Noah to face the truth about the creeping, chilling reaches of a troubled upbringing. Keeping quiet can be a means of survival, but the effects can be as terrible as killing.

Oh my – I cannot begin to describe how awesome this novel is! I read this in one weekend, I was so engrossed I forgot to watch the England Rugby match on TV (which I usually never miss).

Quieter Than Killing is the forth installment in the DI Marnie Rome series which sees Marnie and her partner Noah trying to piece together a number of assaults which are escalating in violence. But as they delve deeper and uncover a number of chilling secrets, they realise the culprit has plans which they could never have imagined…

I do think this is one of her best yet, it is chilling and disturbing which really captures the fear of the victims. The sub-plots with Marnie’s foster brother and Noah’s troubled brother also come to the forefront of this novel which I found fascinating – I couldn’t wait to see what happened! The investigation itself focuses on Marnie having to deal with a vigilante who is attacking ex-convicts, teenage gangs, a missing child no-one knows is missing and convicts with a grudge – which kept me on the edge of my seat.

I really enjoyed the bleak descriptions of a harsh London winter which the author depicts, creating a chilling and haunting atmosphere for the characters.

The main protagonist DI Marnie Rome is at her very best in this novel, she isn’t your stereotypical detective – she evokes sympathy for the victims and has a gritty determination to see the job through not matter what even though she is struggling to come to terms with the murder of her parents. One of the things I love about this series is Marnie’s relationship with Noah – they bounce off each other and their friendship is at the heart of this novel.

For anyone who hasn’t read this series yet, I would highly recommend. Sarah manages to weave an effortless plot, has hard hitting themes and strong and lovable characters who you can’t help rooting for.

I loved loved loved this book and cannot recommend this enough. It has everything you can want from a gritty police procedural; surprising twists and shocking truths, a compelling plot and a fantastic cast of characters who you can get under your skin in a number of ways.

I am a massive fan of Sarah’s novels and this one didn’t disappoint. If anything I can’t wait for book five.

This novel isn’t out until 9th March but the good news is you can preorder this book from Amazon just click here

Or to preorder this book from Waterstones click here.
To find out more about Sarah Hilary follow her on Twitter at @sarah_hilary

Blog Tour: The WitchFinder’s Sister by Beth Underdown

Today I’m thrilled to host the next stop on The WitchFinder’s Sister Blog Tour penned by Beth Underdown and published by Viking, an imprint of Penguin Random House. As part of the blog tour I was very fortunate to interview Alice Hopkins, the protagonist in the story. As always, don’t forget to check out all the other fab stops on this tour!

 

 

Blurb:

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1645.

When Alice Hopkins’ husband dies in a tragic accident, she returns to the small Essex town of Manningtree, where her brother Matthew still lives.

But home is no longer a place of safety. Matthew has changed, and there are rumours spreading through the town: whispers of witchcraft, and of a great book, in which he is gathering women’s names.

To what lengths will Matthew’s obsession drive him?
And what choice will Alice make, when she finds herself at the very heart of his plan?

Based on the true story of the man known as the Witchfinder General, this exquisitely rendered novel transports you to a time and place almost unimaginable, where survival might mean betraying those closest to you, and danger lurks outside every door.

 

So without further ado, welcome Alice to the CKT blog.

You have had a tough time of it recently, after the death of your husband. What were your first thoughts when you knew you had to return home?

When my husband died, I was stunned. Knowing that I had to go back to Manningtree came to me only little by little, through a fog of grief. I had no wish to go back, but no way of supporting myself in London. I would even have stayed on as a servant – but by the time Joseph died, I knew I was pregnant, and nobody wants a servant with a child in tow.

 

Manningtree is an interesting place, full of colour, to have moved back to after recent events; is there anything you like particularly about the town?

I do love the docks, and the silver light on the estuary when the tide is out. But more than this, when I first came home, suddenly I felt as though people could see me again. In London, people’s eyes would skip past me in the street as though I wasn’t there, but when I came back to Manningtree, my brother being so respected in the town, men doffed their hats as I pass by.

 

 

How did you feel seeing your brother again, especially after your time apart?

I was anxious about seeing him, especially about telling him of my pregnancy. But at the same time, I felt that what had been keeping us apart was my choice of husband. Matthew had not liked my marrying Joseph, so I thought perhaps now I was a widow, we would be able to get along as we had as children. But I did not realise that Matthew had changed since I had gone away.

 

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Your tale is extraordinary, why did you decide to tell us the truth when you did?

When I wrote my tale down, there was nothing left to do but tell the truth.

 

Is there one thing you could’ve done differently, what would it have been?

There are many things I wish I had done, but I’m not sure what I could have done. Unless perhaps I could never have come back to Manningtree in the first place – perhaps I ought to have turned around and found someone to take me back to London that very first day.

 

And lastly, do you believe there is such a thing as a witch?

I think things happen that we cannot name the cause of. But I’m not sure they can be willed to happen by any person living. Such things that are God’s business, or else the devil’s.

I would like to say a big thanks to Alice for stopping by, I know how difficult it is at the moment after everything.

About the author:

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Beth Underdown was born in Rochdale in 1987. She studied at the University of York and then the University of Manchester, where she is now a Lecturer in Creative Writing.

The WitchhFinder’s Sister is her debut novel, and is based on the life of the 1640s witch finder Matthew Hopkins.

She first came across him while reading a book about seventeenth-century midwifery. As you do.

 

This fantastic novel is not out until 2nd March 2017 but is available to preorder from Amazon here.

To learn more about Beth Underdown follow her on Twitter @bethunderdown

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