Two Girls Down Louisa Luna

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One of the best things about e-readers, and the various sites from which you can download books, is that I have discovered authors that I would never have encountered in the bookshops of the UK.

Various holidays over the years have resulted in me finding authors, and then have the frustration of not being able to buy their books here.

Today’s review highlights how good it is to find a good book by a great author, who is published in the UK, but on a small scale, and who I would probably never found.

Two Girls Down by Louisa Luna is a gem of a book.

When two very young girls go missing from a Mall in Pennsylvania their single mother is left distraught. Jamie Brandt is a single mom and her two girls, Kylie (10) and Bailey (8) are her life. The small-town Police Department are understaffed and over worked and, as much as they want to find the find the girls, it seems an impossible task.

Jamie’s Aunt contacts a Private Investigator in California with a history of recovering missing children.

A bit like a Female Jack Reacher 33 (but a lot more realistic) year old Alice Vega arrives in town and starts her own investigation.

Realising she need local help, and restricted by the Police, she reaches out for former cop Max (Cap) Capland, a single father with a very forthright 16-year-old daughter.

The investigation into the disappearance of the two girls leads Vega and Cap through the underworld of small town USA. Whilst battling with the underworld they butt heads with the Local Police.

There is the inevitable will-they-won’t-they element to the relationship but it definitely adds to the story.

The twists and turns come fast in the case and it is not a book where you will easily guess what the ending is going to be, but it’s a great ride getting there.

For those of you, like me, who have never read a Louisa Luna book before, I would compare her stories, and writing style, to Marnie Riches. If you like the Girl Who….. series and Born Bad, you are going to love this book.

Pages: 320

Published by: Doubleday

Publishing date: 9th January 2018.

Available to pre-order on Amazon

The Night Market Jonathan Moore

 

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Set in the near future, I don’t think it would be right to label this book as Sci-fi, more like an anticipation of how things will be in 50 years time.

Carver and Jenner are two Inspectors in the San Francisco Police Department. On Thursday night they attend a grisly murder scene with two uniform cops.

The body is decomposing before their eyes, but not in a way they have ever seen before. As they begin to examine it a HazMats team burst into the room and usher them through decontamination.

Sunday morning Carver wakes up in bed with no memory of anything since Wednesday.

His neighbour, the hermit like Mia, is reading a book at his bedside and informs him she saw some people bring him home on Friday, and that she had looked after him ever since.

Carver is the main protagonist of the book and most of the narrative is told from his point of view. As he battles to regain his memory he starts to put together what happened to him and his partner; but who can he trust, Jenner is back at work as though nothing had happened, and he knows nothing about Mia. There is nobody else.

His investigation links to the murder he and Jenner had been investigating for some time. Somebody was killing people in China Town. They were having their faces carved open and then being cut in half. How is this linked to Thursday nights body.

His discoveries will put him in danger, test his relationships and see people die.

All of this in the first 15% of the book (on an e-reader) and what follows is a good old fashioned conspiracy theory set in a slightly futuristic San Francisco.

The story is compelling, and I found myself totally engrossed in it. Jonathan Moore has set the story in a time which is not unconceivable, and his descriptions of the City, its population, its crimes, and its utter deterioration are as addictive as the characters.

I don’t usually read Sci-fi, and I haven’t seen anything in the blurb for this book to suggest it is, but the story is so well written that I didn’t realise it was set in the future until I was hooked by it. Then there was no putting it down.

I will be looking up more of Mr Moore’s books. This one is very good.

Pages: 272

Publisher: Orion

Publishing Date: 11 January 2018.

Available to pre-order on Amazon

 

The Good Sister Jess Ryder

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This may be a short book, at 230 pages, but it packs more twists and turns than a Himalayan Mountain track.

When a University Lecturer dies, speeding down a country lane on his motor bike, nobody could expect the secrets that are about to be revealed.

Two women, that could look like twins, born five days apart proclaim to be his daughter.

They could not be any different.

Josie “A boring young fogey, the easy-care daughter”

Valentina “wild, daring, spontaneous, unrestrained”

Both living completely separate lives, but one of them has been having dreams for years that she has a sister, and that she was hurt by her, badly.

The story sees both girls getting to know each other. The wild Valentina causing chaos in the quiet reserved life of Josie.

The family of both girls dealing with the death of the man, who called himself their dad, but did either family know about the other.

Threatening text messages, from a mysterious person who watches every move Valentina makes.

From the posh houses of a London suburb, to the squalid existence of a derelict pub; from a leafy Derbyshire Cottage, to a run-down student terrace in Manchester the plot unfolds.

Jess Ryder wrote the story in the first person, alternating chapters from Josie’s point of view to Valentina’s. That is what makes this story so good; because at times you don’t know which sister is carrying the narrative. Then oh it’s her, really?

There are times when I thought, is there only one woman and does she have a split personalities.

Then I wondered if one of the sisters was imagining some of the things that were happening to her.

I felt empathy for Josie, then I felt empathy for Valentina.

I liked and hated both women equally through the story. It’s a testimony to Ryders writing that my loyalty swung from one to the other all the way to the end of the book.

The twists in the plot are brilliantly penned with the last twist coming right at the end; and I didn’t see it coming.

It’s hard to write too much about this book without giving plot spoilers. So much happens in such a short space of time.

All I can say is READ IT!!!!!!!

I promise you’ll love it.

When you make your mind up which is the “Good Sister” let me know; because I still can’t make my mind up.

Pages: 230

Publisher: Bookouture

Available to pre order on Amazon

Publishing Date: 16th August 2017.

 

 

Buried Secrets T.J. Brearton

 

Buried Secrets T.J. Brearton

A happy young couple, Brett and Emily, buy their dream small holding in upstate New York.

Digging an area of garden, close to the edge of some woods, Brett uncovers some human bones.

Meanwhile reformed criminal James Russo is arrested for failing to pay his fines for driving whilst uninsured. With no means of paying the fines he is sent to the famous Rikers Island Jail in New York. His cell mate is an ex mixed martial arts fighter Nate Reuter. Nate is in jail for being part of a lame group of bank robbers the press labelled “The fighting Bandits”

The Police Investigators seem to be going through the motions with the investigation into the buried bones but one of the Officers casually shows the mug shots of the Fighting Bandits to Brett, stating it’s an unrelated inquiry.

As a failed journalist/writer Brett sees an opportunity to resurrect his carer and write a book and starts his own investigation. Unfortunately he reaches out to his ex-girlfriend Meg to help him, much to Emily’s frustration; but is Meg really helping, or is she in it for her own gain, journalistic or personal.

In jail Reuter is attacked and Russo steps in to his aid. Because of the fight his jail time looks set to increase until a visit from a female prisoner changes everything. She will post his bail if he does one job for her, and just as an encouragement she sends a psychopath to his wife and daughter.

And so begins a story which kept me thoroughly entertained from start to finish. The two storylines are obviously connected but how and why. Who do the bones belong to, and why are they buried with a cryptic note.

This story doesn’t hide anything, there are no surprises. Its hook is the naive innocence of Brett; the attempts of Russo to stay on the straight and narrow and still protect his wife and daughter; the conniving drive of Meg. To have captured all of these characters so well is a testimony the writing of T.J. Brearton

Pages: 328 

Publisher: Bookouture

Available to pre-order on Amazonfullsizeoutput_a7b

Publish date 18th August 2017

The Stolen Girls Blog Tour

 

 

The Stolen Girls Blog Tour

Last year Patricia Gibney arrived on the crime book scene with her debut novel The Missing Ones.

The first book was excellent and this book hasn’t proved to be the “difficult second book” in fact, if anything, The Stolen Girls is even better than the first.

This story has many layers, there are plots that run parallel to the main one and create their own intrigue, whilst weaving in and out of the main story.

The young girl being held captive and abused.

The immigrants held in the local “immigration centre”

The young woman, forced into prostitution, and her son that turn up on DI Lottie Parker’s door step.

The mutilated bodies that start turning up in roadworks all over the small midlands Irish town of Ragmullin.

A local gangster that has been in hiding in Spain, returning to town and causing chaos.

The Kosovo conflict of the late 90’s and the actions of some of the British troops, and the effect those actions are having today.

Gangland rivalries.

The list doesn’t end there but I don’t want to spoil the book.

All, of these threads are crafted together like different twines in a tapestry to make a fantastic picture.

The story is fast paced, and even at a moderately thick 461 pages the book flies by.

It’s not just the story that makes the book special, it’s the characters.

Patricia’s main protagonist is Lottie Parker, a mid 40’s Detective Inspector in Ragmullin’s Major Investigation Team. Lottie is struggling to bring up her 3 teenage children on her own since the death of her Husband Adam. She buries herself in her work and relies on her mother to help her with caring for the children. But the children have problems and Lottie isn’t seeing them. This provides a great subplot to the main story.

DS Mark Boyd is a great foil for Lottie. They work together well and have a great bickering but supportive relationship; and they need it because their boss Superintendant Corrigan is an Arse. These two supporting characters make Lottie’s working life more than a little interesting.

The villians and the victims are also well written and add so much to the realism of the books. Is everybody as they seem, maybe not. Patricia has a great way of making the reader believe a character is bad, or good, whilst twisting what they do and say to make your opinion of them change throughout.

The crimes are that well written that at times I thought Patricia was trawling the newspapers to find the dark side of the criminal world to incorporate them in her novels. The balance works so well that, as a reader, I never thought it was far-fetched, it flows, from beginning to end, and it kept me hooked.

When Bookouture approached me to do this blog I asked if I could ask Patricia a few questions. She agreed so between an email exchange, a few twitter interchanges and a little bit of research this is what I know about the lady who is, in my opinion, the best debut Crime Fiction writer of the last 12 months.

I asked Patricia about where the character Lottie had come from

I created Lottie as this strong (and at times, not so strong) character. If I’m t be honest, she was a little bit of an enigma to me. When I was writing her, I felt her come alive – I saw her as a real person. I know that’s an old cliché but it is true.

I am a widowed mother with three children and I said to myself, lets put Lottie in the same situation and see how she copes. I gave her three teenagers, hyped up the mayhem and drama, and let them loose. I must say Lottie is prone to making a mess of things at home and at the same time she is highly dedicated to her job. When she is working on a case, I believe she forgets that Adam is dead and conjures up an image of him at home with the kids. No matter what she thinks, she hasn’t come to terms with Adam’s death or with her own family history. Therefore, she can come across as a bad mother. I want the reader to delve beneath Lottie’s surface and realise that inside, Lottie is struggling big time.

As I’ve continued with her journey, her home-life and family woes have evolved, and in Book 3 I try to let the reader see something of what might be another reason why Lottie is the way she is.

 My next question was about the crimes and the characters involved in the book. For a little Irish Midlands town they seem to have the same problems as some of our inner cities. I love them by the way. So where do these crimes come from. Your imagination or does something in the news at home, or from further afield trigger an idea. In her answer she talks about situations from her first two books

 I have a very dark and murderous imagination! And then every town has secrets it wants to keep buried.

I attempt to give some context to the murders via historical and more recent historical events. In Ireland we’ve had the revelations of the horrific treatment of women and girls in the mother and baby homes and also the issue of worldwide clerical sexual abuse. I didn’t set out to write about this – I was actually writing about corruption re planning and developers – but St Angela’s reared it’s head and the little children looked out of the window and I was drawn into their story.

The Srebrenica massacre horrified me – I compared it to the horror from the Nazi regime – but I was also struck by the illegal organ harvesting in Kosovo. With The Stolen Girls, I focused on the Kosovo atrocities and brought the terror to present day Ragmullin.

 Your description of the Police, they’re procedures, and what is going on in the teams minds are great. Have you spent time doing the job, or researched it somehow.

 I am an avid crime thriller reader and love watching TV police series. I also have a couple of detective friends who hate to see me coming or my name popping up on their phone! Only joking, I think. When I have queries on procedures etc, I lift the phone and hound my detective friends.

Also in this book you used the illegal organ trade and the Balkan conflict. My question there is did the problems of the war give you the idea for the story. Or was there a story line in your thoughts and then you researched to find a war that would fit the blog

 History was my overall favourite subject at school and I read a lot about the Balkan conflict as it was unfolding. I fictionalised events for the story but the illegal organ harvesting that occurred during and after the conflict is based on fact. So to answer your question, I created the storyline around the conflict.

My last question is about future books. I look forward to seeing what’s happening to your characters as much as I do the next story. So. Are things going to get any better for Lottie and her Adam. Or can we expect more heartache and stress for Lottie whilst the kids carry on struggling through their different problems.

 Oh you can be sure things are not going to get much better! But I’m not totally heartless, so I might allow Lottie a little light relief and happiness along the way.

I have also found out that Patricia is editing the third book whilst writing the 4th in the series. Great news I am already looking forward to reading both of these.

Patricia. Thank You for answering my questions, but most of all thank you for these great books.

The Stolen Girls by Patricia Gibney is published by Bookouture, and is available on Amazon.The two links below are to my original reviews of The Stolen Girls and The Missing Ones.

https://nigeladamsbookworm.wordpress.com/2017/05/28/the-stolen-girls/

https://nigeladamsbookworm.wordpress.com/2017/01/22/the-missing-ones-patricia-gibney/

Midnight at the Bright Ideas Bookstore Matthew Sullivan

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The Bright Ideas Bookstore is more than a book shop. This independent book seller is the home for an eclectic bunch of people, The staff that work there, the customers and the bookfrogs.

Bookfrogs?

It was a new word for me as well, but I think it’s a great name.

What are they? They are the people who populate the store, day-in-day-out, reading books in the comfort of the store, sometimes even buying a book, but only when they’re on special offer. They remind me of the coffee shop Bedouins who populate tables with their laptops making a small coffee last for hours. Some of the Bookfrogs are homeless people looking for shelter, some are lonely singletons who prefer the shop to their empty homes, some are just book lovers.

Each Bookfrog has a story and Joey is no exception. Unfortunately Joey’s story comes to an end when he hangs himself in the store.

But why hang himself there, and why now.

The main protagonist of the book is a 30 year old bookish, bookstore worker Lydia. Lydia is one of the last staff in the store and discovers Joey hanging in a secluded section of the shop just before a late close. Whilst she holds his legs and calls for help she notices a photo sticking out of his pocket. The photo is of Lydia, and her two school friends, at Lydias 10th birthday party.

But Lydia has only known Joey from his visits to the shop, and she has never seen this photo before.

Not many people have known Lydia since she was that 10 year old. In fact there is a very good reason why nobody in her life knows anything about her childhood or her family. Just after the photo was taken Lydia was the only survivor of a gruesome crime and went into hiding with her Dad. The man who committed the crime was never found and has haunted Lydia ever since.

So why has Joey got her picture?

As she starts to look into Joeys life she is astonished to find out that she has “inherited” his belongings. Amongst the belongings are some books which have been cut up. Why would Joey cut up books, they were the only thing that seemed to mean anything to him?

Lydia goes on a journey into her own past and starts to piece together Joeys history. It’s a great journey and makes for a really good story.

I’ve read some of the reviews for this book on Amazon. I have to say they are either neutral or negative. I have to disagree. This is a great book to just pass away the summer afternoon and long evenings.

If you are looking for sex and violence then this book won’t be for you.

If you want to read a book that makes you engage with the characters; that has a slightly socially awkward main protagonist; that has a simple but engaging storyline; this book is for you.

Pages: 336

Publisher: William Heinemann

Published: Available from 24th August 2017.

Available on Amazon to pre-order now

Nemesister Sophie Jonas-Hill

 

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A deeply complex book, with many twists and turns, this book will never be described as bubblegum for the brain. Dark and sinister from the start to the end it kept me engrossed from page 1.

It starts with a woman with no memory stumbling into a shack in deepest Louisiana. Barely conscious she holds the male occupier at gunpoint, he sees she’s hurt.

From that point on the story gets dark. Not unlike the Bourne Identity the main protagonist starts to regain her memory and the story of what leads to her appearing in the shack starts to unfold.

As the title suggests the girl has a sister. The mystery woman starts to remember the sister, or is it implanted memories of someone else’s life, or maybe even memories of her own life.

The story moves rapidly and switches, in some places confusingly, between the present and the memories. But this is good, this is very good; because for the first time, for a long time, I read a book that kept me on my toes. It kept me hooked like no other book has for years.

The man in the shack takes care of the girl. But who is he, and why is he helping her.  A couple of Freudian slips, when he is talking to her, puts the girl on her guard. Is he spinning her a false story, or is her memory loss causing her to be forgetful or misunderstanding.

As her paranoia grows his activities seem become more intimidating in their innocence. Why would a complete stranger help somebody with no memory who has stumbled into his remote shack.

When the shack is attacked it seals the woman’s faith in her helper. She is after all free to leave if she wants to, then he locks the doors and puts the key in his pocket.

Exploring the house when he’s asleep the woman makes a discovery and starts to piece things together in her mind. Should she escape, or is she safer where she is, does she have a choice.

I loved this book. It finishes on a cliff hanger, and I was pleased to see that Sophie Jonas-Hill is working on the sequal.

Hurry up Sophie I can’t wait for Broken Ponies

Pages: 304

Publisher: Urbane Publications

Publication Date: 6th July 2017.

Available to pre-order from Amazon