Blood Orange by Harriet Tyce #bookreview @harriet_tyce @headlinepg @jenniferleech1 ‏@Wildfirebks

 

Alison has it all. A doting husband, adorable daughter, and a career on the rise – she’s just been given her first murder case to defend. But all is never as it seems…

Just one more night. Then I’ll end it.

Alison drinks too much. She’s neglecting her family. And she’s having an affair with a colleague whose taste for pushing boundaries may be more than she can handle.

I did it. I killed him. I should be locked up.

Alison’s client doesn’t deny that she stabbed her husband – she wants to plead guilty. And yet something about her story is deeply amiss. Saving this woman may be the first step to Alison saving herself.

I’m watching you. I know what you’re doing.

But someone knows Alison’s secrets. Someone who wants to make her pay for what she’s done, and who won’t stop until she’s lost everything….

 

My Review

From the intriguing prologue to the shocking (and I probably shouldn’t admit, satisfying end) I loved this. The blurb outlines the basic story, but who is it exactly who is talking to us? This is a twisted tale of ambition, misguided passion, and control. But it’s also about much more, in a #MeToo society, it’s a book that shines a light on what women in certain toxic workplaces often face as ‘normal’ if they want to succeed. For me, it also raised the wider issue of a woman struggling to juggle a career and family life. While society tells us we can and it’s OK, ultimately, it still relies on men, and other women to step up to the plate and play their part, either as employers or partners.

Blood Orange is essentially Alison’s story and what a journey she takes us on. Now Alison might not be to everyone’s taste, but after a faltering start I started to feel for her. She’s a criminal law barrister who’s just been handed her first murder case, something that could make or break her career. But her career is also being both advanced and at the same time dangerously compromised by her relationship with Patrick. I use the word ‘relationship’ advisedly because it’s basically sex and pretty rough sex at that. For Alison, while she knows it’s wrong, it at least generates emotions, even if at times it might just be disgust. While she is playing at being ‘one of the boys’ after work, her husband Carl, the caring, ‘supportive’ husband, is left to look after their daughter Matilda. Someone or something will have to change.

Being handed the murder case is a turning point for Alison, as she starts to question the story she is being told. There are definite parallels between Alison and her client, which we as the reader can more readily see. As Alison starts to try to uncover the truth, she also begins to take back control of her own life, though the consequences of doing so are dangerous and dramatic.

This was a book that gripped me from the start. It was impossible, to put it down even when on occasion I was wincing in discomfort. As the tension ratchets up, the need to find out exactly what is going on and discover whether Alison can redeem herself is the driving force. It’s dark and twisty, with undoubtedly shocking and uncomfortable elements, but it’s an intelligent and compelling read that deserves all the praise that it’s getting. As for the title, that becomes very satisfyingly apparent!!

Many thanks to Headline for a copy of the book which I received without obligation at a promotional event.

 

 

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The Labyrinth of the Spirits by Carlos Ruiz Zafon #review

The Labyrinth of the Spirits

 

Amazon Blurb

As a child, Daniel Sempere discovered among the passageways of the Cemetery of Forgotten Books an extraordinary novel that would change the course of his life. Now a young man in the Barcelona of the late 1950s, Daniel runs the Sempere & Sons bookshop and enjoys a seemingly fulfilling life with his loving wife and son. Yet the mystery surrounding the death of his mother continues to plague his soul despite the moving efforts of his wife Bea and his faithful friend Fermín to save him.

Just when Daniel believes he is close to solving this enigma, a conspiracy more sinister than he could have imagined spreads its tentacles from the hellish regime. That is when Alicia Gris appears, a soul born out of the nightmare of the war. She is the one who will lead Daniel to the edge of the abyss and reveal the secret history of his family, although at a terrifying price.

 

The long-awaited novel for those immersed in the Cemetery of Forgotten Books. This is number 4 in the series and brings closure to the epic tale that began with The Shadow of the Wind in 2001. Each book following ‘Shadow’ takes the reader on a journey that explores of one of the themes/characters it introduced, as well as keeping Daniel and his family in the frame. For those of you yet to discover the literary universe of the Cemetery of Books, the author states the series can be read in any order, or separately, but be aware that this one does draw all the themes together.

As with previous books in the series, the tale involves numerous stories and with this one a book, within the book so that labyrinthine is definitely the word to describe it. The book is literally an intricate and complicated arrangement of irregular paths that draw you into the heart of the action. At this point I’d like to give a shout out to the translator Lucia Graves, who does an excellent job on keeping the narrative flowing, without losing the beauty and richness of Zafon’s prose. At 800 plus pages that is no mean feat.

This book finds us back on Barcelona and opens with Daniel and Fermin (who I love as a character), but the complex tale, introducing the story at the heart of the book, starts a few chapters in. Going back to 1938, we are re-acquainted with Fermin during his dramatic return to Barcelona as a stowaway. On a mercy errand to deliver a letter to his friend’s lover and her 9 year old daughter Alicia, he is caught up in one of a series of Nationalist airstrikes on the city. Their home is hit and while trying to rescue Alicia,  they become separated. So starts a story that we will follow until its final resolution in 1992. The strikes that devastated Barcelona, were not ordered by General Franco, but rather his ally Mussolini,  in support of the Fascist regime in Spain. This  act of brutality, is one of many that peppers the book as we see exemplified, time and time again, the epithet that ‘absolute power corrupts absolutely’.

Alicia survived the bombing and was eventually taken in under the wing of Leandro, her Svengali. For almost 20 years she has worked for him and his political henchmen in Madrid, but now she wants out. He has promised one last case and she can go. That last case is to search for missing Culture Minister, Mauricio Valls. It is a case, which takes Alicia into an underworld that reveals the depths of mans inhumanity to man. It is dark, despairing, violent and murderous. It is  a place made more horrific, by the thought that the torture and murder it reveals, was more than likely to have been the reality for some during the Franco regime. Furthermore, the story that unfolds of stolen children is undoubtedly true. It reveals a past, that even today, Spain is still struggling to come to terms with.

It is while searching for Valls, that Alicia becomes involved with the Sempere family, and what she uncovers directly relates to them. Daniel has always sought the answer as to how his mother died, what Alicia uncovers will finally give Daniel that answer and many more. For those who have read the previous works, we are re-acquainted with David Martin and introduced to another Victor Mataix. As ever we have fictions within fiction, and a literary mystery. I don’t want to say more about the plot or the characters, but to leave you to discover them for yourself and make your own mind up. Needless to say I wouldn’t be saying that of I didn’t think them worthy of your time, especially Alicia, troubled, haunted, damaged and resilient Alicia.

This is a book which cannot fail to move, whether that be to anger, despair or joy. Zafon has a way of playing with emotions and juxtaposing the good with the bad. He doesn’t shy away from presenting the harsh realities, or observing fictional niceties by protecting the good guys. In this book, as with the others, all human life is here. It’s an expose of the horrors of war and yet also a love story to the resilience of the human spirit. Having fallen in love with Barcelona, Daniel, Fermin and the Cemetery of Books, way back in 2001, reading this book is like saying goodbye to an old friend, knowing that the end has finally come. I don’t know what, if anything, Zafon has planned for the future, but if and when it happens, I’ll be in the queue along with many others waiting to discover.

 

 

 

Five on Friday with Amanda Robson @AmandaRauthor

This week I’m delighted to host Amanda Robson, who I was fortunate to meet at Harrogate last year. Amanda writes dark, twisty psychological thrillers and for fans, you’ll all be pleased to hear a new book is due in April.

 

Amanda Robson

 

Author Bio:-

After graduating, Amanda Robson worked in medical research at The London School of Hygiene and Tropical medicine, and at the Poison’s Unit at Guy’s hospital where she became a co-author of a book on cyanide poisoning.

This set her in good stead for writing her debut novel, Obsession, a dark and twisted tale about love affairs gone wrong.

Amanda attended the Faber Academy writing course in 2011, and now writes from home full time. She lives in London and Wales, with her lawyer husband, one–eyed dog and unfriendly cat. Her two sons, also lawyers, have more or less, fled the nest.

So over to Amanda 

 

Which 5 pieces of music/songs would you include in the sound track to your life and why?

Time from Dark Side of the Moon by Pink Floyd – The lyrics to this song have inspired me since I was a teenager. Pink Floyd are my favourite band of all time.

Imagine by John Lennon – The lyrics to this song nail it for me.

Hearts and Flowers by Joan Armatrading – A song for my husband.

Dancing Queen by Abba – I was seventeen when this came out. Seventies disco with your whole life in front of you.

100% fun, Uptown Funk by Mark Ronson featuring Bruno Mars – Love this. Still having fun now.

 

 Highlight 5 things (apart from family and friends) you’d find it hard to live without.

It took 2 seconds to think about this, and given the community who might read it I guess I don’t need to give an explanation.

Coffee

Alcohol

Reading novels

Writing

Watching drama on Netflix.

 

Can you offer 5 pieces of advice you’d give to your younger self ?

Don’t worry about things so much. The bad stuff that comes is totally unexpected.

Ditch bitchy friends. Stick to kind ones.

Listen to advice – but follow your own judgement.

Everything is just a stage. Appreciate the good while you have it. Remember the bad will pass.

If you really want to do something, do it. Later might be too late.

Tell us five things that most people don’t know about you?

I am a very open person, so most people who know me, know most things about me.

What are the first 5 things on your bucket list?

Things to do before I ‘kick the bucket’ so to speak. Well I am not young; so I have already done 4 of them.

Got married.

Had children.

Written a novel or two.

Bought a sailing cruiser – just a month ago.

So … what I really want to do is continue to enjoy what I have. I would like to press a button right now, and keep my life just as it is – for ever.

 

Thanks so much for joining us Amanda. Dancing Queen, was one of mine too, I’m only a year older so felt pretty much the same at the time. I’m also very much a ‘do it while you can’ sort of person too – later might well be too late. I’m delighted to see that you’ve achieved most of your bucket list and sincerely hope you continue to enjoy what you have.   

 

Amanda’s Books

 

EnvyEnvy (published 4th April and available to pre-order)

She wants your life – and she’ll do anything to get it…

Erica has always wanted to be exactly like her neighbour, Faye: beautiful, thin, and a mother. But Faye’s life isn’t as perfect as it seems – she has a terrible secret, and slowly but surely, it is threatening to destroy her and everything she holds dear.

When Faye’s daughter Tamsin goes missing after school, the police turn to Erica. But is Erica the only one who has been enviously watching Faye? Or is there another threat hiding in the shadows…?

 

GuiltGuilt

Your sister. Her secret. The betrayal.

There is no bond greater than blood . . .

When the body of a woman is found stabbed to death, the blame falls to her twin sister. But who killed who? And which one is now the woman behind bars?

Zara and Miranda have always supported each other. But then Zara meets Seb, and everything changes. Handsome, charismatic and dangerous, Seb threatens to tear the sisters’ lives apart – but is he really the one to blame? Or are deeper resentments simmering beneath the surface that the sisters must face up to?

As the sisters’ relationship is stretched to the brink, a traumatic incident in Seb’s past begins to rear its head and soon all three are locked in a psychological battle that will leave someone dead. The question is, who?

 

ObsessionObsession

One evening, a wife asks her husband a question: who else would you go for, if you could?

It is a simple question – a little game – that will destroy her life.

Carly and Rob are a perfect couple. They share happy lives with their children and their close friends Craig and Jenny. They’re lucky. But beneath the surface, no relationship is simple: can another woman’s husband and another man’s wife ever just be good friends?

Little by little, Carly’s question sends her life spiralling out of control, as she begins to doubt everything she thought was true. Who can she trust? The man she has promised to stick by forever, or the best friend she has known for years? And is Carly being entirely honest with either of them?

Obsession is a dark, twisting thriller about how quickly our lives can fall apart when we act on our desires.

 

You can keep in touch with Amanda via :-

Her website

Facebook

Twitter

 

Next on Five on Friday – 22nd February with Harriet Tyce.

Literary Links : Cwmmau Farmhouse and Ianthe Jerrold @DeanStPress @nationaltrust #DetectionClub

In June last year we had a fabulous holiday in Powys, where we stayed in a cottage, not too far from the Herefordshire border. In fact it was so good we went back in September! During our first trip we made the most of our National Trust membership and visited many of the places within a reasonable travelling distance. One absolute gem was the Cwmmau Farmhouse. It’s actually one of the properties that the National Trust use for holiday accommodation, but it’s open to the public for one week a year. Luckily we were in the right place at the right time. I’d picked up a leaflet advertising its opening but it didn’t have much information about what we would be seeing.

So we set off on a lovely sunny day (to be fair every day was sunny that fortnight) to visit Cwmmau, not really knowing what to expect.

The farmhouse is situated in the village of Brilley, off the main road between Kington and Hay on Wye. Thankfully it’s signposted as it’s a pretty tortuous route at times with twisty, narrow lanes just what my OH loves (not). When we arrived I could immediately see that Cwmmau was not the small traditional farmhouse I’d envisaged in my head. While it later became a farm, it was originally built as a hunting lodge in the 1620’s, with suitably proportioned rooms to cater for the guests. Architecturally it was a typical 17th century timber-framed, black and white square-panelled building, typical of many still seen in Herefordshire.

Cwmmau Farmhouse 1

Picture copyright National Trust

 

The story for me got interesting when we reached the 20th century. In July 1918, William Curzon Herrick, auctioned off the whole of his estate, including Cwmmau, having borrowed too heavily on it. His estate comprised over 3,000 acres of land and 14 farms – which included the entire village of Eardisley (incidentally can highly recommend The Tram Inn at Eardisley for an excellent evening meal). Cwmmau was bought by Gideon Spearman, a local timber merchant. He wasn’t interested in the farming potential, but the mature standing timber that came with the property. Thanks to the war, this was in short supply and Spearman followed the money. Cwmmau was basically used as a warehouse and allowed to fall into ruin. Worse still,  Spearman stripped the property of its existing internal fittings and sold off the oak panelling, the staircase and the oak front door, all of which is believed to have gone to America.

In 1934, the now derelict property was bought by a knight in shining armour, one George Menges,  a Lloyds underwriter. He, along with his wife, Ianthe and her sister Phyllis Jerrold, undertook the extensive and painstaking restoration of the property. His dedication was such he even sourced old glass to replace the front windows. My interest in the family, was further piqued when I encountered the wall hanging on the main landing.

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The hanging entitled ‘Sumer is I cumen in’ was made by Phyllis in 1928. More of her work is found in the Porch Room, where, she drew the mural that was gradually completed by the Menges family from 1935 to 1961. It is drawn with wax crayon directly onto the plaster work with George, Ianthe and others coloring in the borders. It is believed that some of the ‘others’ may well have included the children that were evacuated to Cwmmau during the war.

 

 

The Front Bedroom contains a beautifully embroidered bed cover, also by Phyllis. This was a wedding anniversary gift to George and Ianthe, depicting the flowers of Spring, Summer and Autumn on the panels, with an equally sumptious arrangement in the centre. It is rumoured that this central panel was actually woven from flax grown at Cwmmau.

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By now I was thoroughly intrigued by Phyllis and I was determined to discover more when I got home. I anticipated that I might find a little information about Phyllis but little did I know what a fascinating family the Jerrold’s would turn out to be. But before that I’ll give you the amazing view that George and Ianthe enjoyed living at Cwmmau.

 

SV202337

 

The Jerrold Family

Phyllis and Ianthe along with Daphne, Hebe and Althea were the five daughters born to Walter Jerrold and is wife Clara. A son, Oliver had died in infancy.

Walter Jerrold hailed from Liverpool, but spent most of his life in London. While he started work as a clerk in a newspaper counting house he went on to become deputy editor of The Observer. In addition he edited classic texts for the newly founded Everyman’s Library; wrote travel books for Blackie and Son’s ‘Beautiful England‘ series; edited children’s books, and, using the name Walter Copeland produced stories for children. His wife Clara, writing under the name Clare Jerrold, was also an author and her work included a three-volume set on the life of Queen Victoria. Little wonder then, that their children should go on to be creative. Phyllis and her twin sister Daphne, both attended the Slade School of Fine Art. They continued to paint and both become book illustrators. Hebe was also a book illustrator and poet, and Althea, the youngest was a writer and poet, if somewhat overshadowed by her elder siblings, particularly Ianthe.

 

Ianthe-Jerrold[1]

Ianthe Jerrold by Bassano Ltd bromide print, May 1936 NPG x83102 © National Portrait Gallery, London. Permission and licence to use obtained under Creative Commons

Ianthe Jerrold

Ianthe was born in 1898, she was the eldest of the Jerrold sisters and published her first book of verse at aged fifteen. Entitled XVI poems it was privately printed by Jessamine Press in 1913. This was the start of her writing career which would result in a substantial body of work.

In 1929 she published The Studio Crime a classic whodunit crime novel. It was hailed by J. B. Priestley as “The best out of a new batch of detective stories.” It’s publication brought her to the attention of the recently formed Detection Club. Also referred to as the London Detection Club, it was founded by Anthony Berkeley in 1928 along with several leading detective novelists including Dorothy L Sayers and Agatha Christie, its first chair was GK Chesterton. Studio Crime resulted in Ianthe’s acceptance to the club in 1930. A place secured with the publication of  Dead Man’s Quarry in the same year.

These two titles, along with Let Him Lie (1940) and There May be Danger (1948)  were classic Golden Age crime mysteries, but Ianthe wrote in a variety of genres ranging from romantic fiction to psychological thrillers. Her last published book was My Twin and I in 1966. Ianthe Jerrold died in 1977, twelve years after her husband George.

Bibliography

  • XVI Poems (1913)
  • Young Richard Mast. A Study of Temperament (1923)
  • Hangingstone Farm (1924)
  • Uncle Sabine (1925)
  • Midsummer Night and other poems (1927)
  • Studio Crime (1929)
  • Dead Man’s Quarry (1930)
  • Summers Day (1933)
  • Seaside Comedy (1934)
  • The Dogs do Bark (1936)
  • Life Begins Early (1937)
  • Rainbow in the Morning (1938)
  • Let Him Lie 1940
  • The Stones Await Us (1945)
  • Love in London (1947)
  • There May be Danger (1948)
  • Coming of Age (1950)
  • Transit of Saturn (1952)
  • Love and the Dark Crystal (1955)
  • Narrow Bed etc (1957)
  • My Angel (1960)
  • My Twin and I (1966)

A number of Ianthe’s books have been republished by Dean Street Press, a publisher devoted to producing, uncovering, and revitalizing good books. They have an extensive catalogue of Golden Age Crime fiction.

Currently available via Amazon (click on image for non affiliated buying link)

The Studio CrimeStudio Crime

Description “He is dead. It is quite impossible that he should have killed himself. He has been murdered. About half an hour ago. By a long knife passed under the left shoulder-blade into the heart.”On a fog-bound London night, a soirée is taking place in the studio of artist Laurence Newtree. The guests include an eminent psychiatrist, a wealthy philanthropist and an observant young friend of Newtree’s, John Christmas. Before the evening is over, Newtree’s neighbour is found stabbed to death in what appears to be an impossible crime. But a mysterious man in a fez has been spotted in the fog asking for highly unlikely directions…The resourceful John Christmas takes on the case, unofficially, leading to an ingenious solution no one could have expected, least of all Inspector Hembrow of Scotland Yard.

 

Dead Man's QuarryDead Man’s Quarry

Description “the murderer was also riding a bicycle… why, if we can trace it, we shall have the murderer!” On a cycling holiday in the idyllic Wales-Herefordshire border countryside, Nora and her friends make a gruesome discovery – the body of their missing comrade at the bottom of a quarry. But an apparently accidental fall turns out to have been murder – for the man was shot in the head.Fortunately John Christmas, last seen in The Studio Crime (1929), is on hand with his redoubtable forensic assistant, Sydenham Rampson. Between them they shed light on an intricate pattern of crimes… and uncover a most formidable foe.

 

Let Him LieLet Him Lie

Murder begins with the death of a kitten…

Artist Jeanie Halliday is thrilled to move into a country cottage of her own, next door to the home of her dear childhood friend Agnes. But the countryside idyll isn’t quite what she might have expected: Agnes is suddenly and unaccountably unfriendly for one thing; and then the neighbours are a little peculiar – old Mr Fone, obsessed with burial mounds; the scandalous Hugh Barchard; and an estranged mother taken to brandishing pistols around.

Soon after the feline victim is found, a shot is heard – the corpse of Robert Molyneux, Agnes’s husband, is discovered with a bullet in his brain. Was Molyneux a meddler in sacred places, a secret lothario… or simply a man who knew too much? And how does the unfortunate cat fit in? It will fall to Jeanie to assist the local police superintendent and fit the pieces of a baffling mystery.

 

There May be DangerThere May be Danger

Amid the danger of World War Two’s London, Kate Mayhew is returning from another hopeless round of the theatrical agents. She is about to take a job in munitions when a poster about a missing child prompts her to help the war effort in a very different way. Obsessed with finding out what has happened to young Sidney Brentwood, Kate journeys to rural Wales where the boy was last seen.

Aided by land-girl Aminta and the dashing young archaeologist Colin Kemp, Kate stumbles upon clandestine activities unknown to the War Office. The mystery of Sidney’s disappearance is the key to a plot that may vitally endanger the security of Great Britain itself. Kate must both solve the conundrum, and act before it’s too late.

 

Anyone interested in Golden Age mysteries might want to take a look at The Story of Classic Crime in 100 Books by Martin Edwards, the current president of the Detection Club.

 

Classic Crime

The main aim of detective stories is to entertain, but the best cast a light on human behaviour, and display both literary ambition and accomplishment. Even unpretentious detective stories, written for unashamedly commercial reasons, can give us clues to the past, and give us insight into a long-vanished world that, for all its imperfections, continues to fascinate. This book, written by award-winning crime writer and president of the Detection Club, Martin Edwards, serves as a companion to the British Library’s internationally acclaimed series of Crime Classics. Long-forgotten stories republished in the series have won a devoted new readership, with several titles entering the bestseller charts and sales outstripping those of highly acclaimed contemporary thrillers.

 

So who knew, when we decided to visit a ‘little’ old farmhouse, how interesting it would actually turn out to be. If only I’d realised it would turn into a blog feature I might have taken more photographs of the interior and exterior, but as it was, it was Phyllis that originally caught my eye.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Silent Patient by Alex Michaelides @AlexMichaelides @PoppyStimpson #BookReview #TheSilentPatient

 

Blurb

ALICIA
Alicia Berenson writes a diary as a release, an outlet – and to prove to her beloved husband that everything is fine. She can’t bear the thought of worrying Gabriel, or causing him pain.

Until, late one evening, Alicia shoots Gabriel five times and then never speaks another word.

THEO
Forensic psychotherapist Theo Faber is convinced he can successfully treat Alicia, where all others have failed. Obsessed with investigating her crime, his discoveries suggest Alicia’s silence goes far deeper than he first thought.

And if she speaks, would he want to hear the truth?

 

This is a book that’s garnering a lot of pre-publication praise and I can see why. It’s a story that grabs you from the beginning and draws you in. It has a widening cast of characters, who only reveal what they want to reveal, until you’re never really sure whether anyone is actually what they say they are.

It opens with a shocking murder, when Alicia, for no apparent reason shoots her beloved husband Gabriel,  5 times in the face.  From that moment on, she refuses to speak, despite numerous attempts to get her to open up, by the professionals at The Grove, the psychiatric unit she is resident at. Theo Faber is a forensic psychotherapist who has been following the case and is convinced he can succeed where others have failed. To that end he applies to join The Grove and persuades the director to allow him access to Alicia.

What becomes apparent is that Alicia has a troubled past which would appear to hold the key to unlocking what made her shoot Gabriel. But it also holds the key to uncovering a wider truth and somebody doesn’t want that to happen. Theo is not without his own problems, which makes him a more driven and unconventional character. He, not always ethically, sets about ‘investigating’ not just Alicia but her family, friends and associates. All appear somewhat unreliable as narrators, with something to hide. So the race is on to discover who exactly is telling the truth. The revelation, when it comes, is one I defy anyone to have seen coming.

It’s a gripping tale of  murder, madness and obsession – prepare to be surprised.

 

 

January 2019 Book Haul

Another bumper month of purchases with the added bonus of freebies from the Headline New Voices event this month. Grab your cuppa now, this might take a while!

Kindle Purchases

 

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The Librarian by Salley Vickers

In 1958, Sylvia Blackwell, fresh from one of the new post-war Library Schools, takes up a job as children’s librarian in a run down library in the market town of East Mole.

Her mission is to fire the enthusiasm of the children of East Mole for reading. But her love affair with the local married GP, and her befriending of his precious daughter, her neighbour’s son and her landlady’s neglected grandchild, ignite the prejudices of the town, threatening her job and the very existence of the library with dramatic consequences for them all.

 

the drowned villageThe Drowned Village by Kathleen McGurl

Beneath the surface lie forgotten secrets…

A village destroyed

It’s the summer of 1935 and eleven-year-old Stella Walker is preparing to leave her home forever. Forced to evacuate to make way for a new reservoir, the village of Brackendale Green will soon be lost. But before the water has even reached them, a dreadful event threatens to tear Stella’s family apart.

An uncovered secret

Present day, and a fierce summer has dried up the lake and revealed the remnants of the deserted village. Now an old woman, Stella begs her granddaughter Laura to make the journey she can’t. She’s sure the village still holds answers for her but, with only days until the floodwaters start to rise again, Laura is in a race against time to solve the mysteries of Stella’s almost forgotten past.

 

the snow gypsyThe Snow Gypsy by Lindsay Jayne Ashford

At the close of World War II, London is in ruins and Rose Daniel isn’t at peace. Eight years ago, her brother disappeared while fighting alongside Gypsy partisans in Spain. From his letters, Rose has just two clues to his whereabouts—his descriptions of the spectacular south slopes of the Sierra Nevada and his love for a woman who was carrying his child.

In Spain, it has been eight years since Lola Aragon’s family was massacred. Eight years since she rescued a newborn girl from the arms of her dying mother and ran for her life. She has always believed that nothing could make her return…until a plea for help comes from a desperate stranger.

Now, Rose, Lola, and the child set out on a journey from the wild marshes of the Camargue to the dazzling peaks of Spain’s ancient mountain communities. As they come face-to-face with war’s darkest truths, their lives will be changed forever by memories, secrets, and friendships.

 

dark sacred nightDark Sacred Night by Michael Connelly

Detective Renée Ballard works the graveyard shift and returns to Hollywood Station in the early hours to find a stranger rifling through old files.

The intruder is none other than legendary LAPD detective Harry Bosch, hunting for leads in an unsolved case that has got under his skin.

Ballard escorts him out but – curious to know what he was searching for – soon becomes obsessed by the murder of Daisy Clayton. Was she the first victim of a serial killer who still stalks the streets?

For Bosch, the case is more than personal: it may be all he has left.

But in a city where crime never sleeps, even detectives have a dark side…

 

bothy talesBothy Tales by John D Burns

I can move only with the aid of barrels of anti-inflammatory gel, sticking plasters and real ale anaesthetic. Martin and I descend from hours of walking to the small town of Middleton-in-Teesdale. I walk, stiff legged, into the campsite office and a plump, middle-aged woman looks up from her desk and can see the old timer is in trouble.
“Oh, what a shame you weren’t here last week,” she says, pity radiating from behind her horn-rimmed specs. “You’ve missed him.”
I look at her, puzzled.
“Elvis!” she explains. “You missed Elvis.”
Oh God, now I’m hallucinating.

From remote glens deep in the Scottish Highlands, John D Burns brings a new volume of tales – some dramatic, some moving, some hilarious – from the isolated shelters mountain people call bothies.

Travel with Burns to secret places hidden amongst the British mountains and share his passion for the wonderful wildness of our uplands. Meet the vivid cast of characters who play their games there, from climbers with more balls than sense to a young man who doesn’t have the slightest idea what he’s letting himself in for…

 

the paris secretThe Paris Secret by Lily Graham

The last time Valerie was in Paris, she was three years old, running from the Nazis, away from the only home she had ever known.

Now as a young woman all alone in the world, Valerie must return to Paris, to the bookshop and her sole surviving relative, her grandfather Vincent, the only person who knows the truth about what happened to her parents. As she gets to know grumpy, taciturn Vincent again, she hears a tragic story of Nazi-occupied Paris, a doomed love affair and a mother willing to sacrifice everything for her beloved daughter.

Can Valerie and Vincent help each other to mend the wounds of the past? Valerie isn’t after a fairytale ending, she only wants the truth. But what is the one devastating secret that Vincent is determined to keep from his granddaughter?

 

offstage in nualaOffstage in Nuala by Harriet Steel

Inspector de Silva is caught up in the excitement when a professional theatre company comes to Nuala, but matters take a dark turn when the company’s actor manager is murdered. Our inspector has a new case to solve and he has to consider some very unpalatable motives for the crime. He will need all his persistence, coupled with his wife, Jane’s, invaluable help to unmask the villain of the piece.
Set on the exotic island of Ceylon in the 1930s, The Inspector de Silva Mysteries provide a colourful and relaxing read spiced with humour and an engaging cast of characters.

 

baxter's requiemBaxter’s Requiem by Matthew Crow

Let me tell you a story, about a man I knew, and a man I know…

Mr Baxter is ninety-four years old when he falls down his staircase and grudgingly finds himself resident at Melrose Gardens Retirement Home.

Baxter is many things – raconteur, retired music teacher, rabble-rouser, bon viveur – but ‘good patient’ he is not. He had every intention of living his twilight years with wine, music and revelry; not tea, telly and Tramadol. Indeed, Melrose Gardens is his worst nightmare – until he meets Gregory.

At only nineteen years of age, Greg has suffered a loss so heavy that he is in danger of giving up on life before he even gets going.

Determined to save the boy, Baxter decides to enlist his help on a mission to pay tribute to his long-lost love, Thomas: the man with whom he found true happiness; the man he waved off to fight in a senseless war; the man who never returned. The best man he ever knew.

With Gregory in tow Baxter sets out on a spirited escape from Melrose, bound for the war graves of Northern France. As Baxter shares his memories, the boy starts to see that life need not be a matter of mere endurance; that the world is huge and beautiful; that kindness is strength; and that the only way to honour the dead, is to live.

Baxter’s Requiem is a glorious celebration of life, love and seizing every last second we have while we’re here.

 

homegoingHome Going by Yaa Gyasi

Effia and Esi: two sisters with two very different destinies. One sold into slavery; one a slave trader’s wife. The consequences of their fate reverberate through the generations that follow. Taking us from the Gold Coast of Africa to the cotton-picking plantations of Mississippi; from the missionary schools of Ghana to the dive bars of Harlem, spanning three continents and seven generations, Yaa Gyasi has written a miraculous novel – the intimate, gripping story of a brilliantly vivid cast of characters and through their lives the very story of America itself.

Epic in its canvas and intimate in its portraits, Homegoing is a searing and profound debut from a masterly new writer.

 

 

a paris symphonyA Paris Symphony by Shlomo Hed

The nearly forgotten names of nineteenth-century Europe’s greatest cultural icons come to life in this historical novel: George Sand, Pauline Viardot, Alphonse Daudet, Prosper Mérimée, Eugène Delacroix, and Giacomo Meyerbeer leap from the pages in a three-dimensional tale, in which fantasy and historical facts are intricately interwoven by the eloquent pen of a retired stockbroker and would-be composer, Jacob Hippolyte Rodrigues. Born in 1812 to one of the most respected Jewish families in Bordeaux, he witnessed two emperors abdicate and three kings leave their thrones in just the first sixty years of his long life, but even the volatile politics of the times could not distract him from his passion for music and art. Rodrigues takes the reader on a magical tour of the salons of nineteenth-century Paris, the undisputed cultural capital of Europe. Through his eyes we witness the birth, growth, and decline of a typical French art form, the Grand Opera, and delve into the creative processes behind Bizet’s Carmen and Berlioz’s Les Troyens. Rodrigues, the composer of the most famous opera never performed, reveals intimate details of this era that you’ll savor for years!

 

joseph barnabyJoseph Barnaby by Susan Roebuck

Stand by your beliefs – even if it means going to the end of the Earth.

By standing up for his principles, horse farrier Joseph Barnaby lost everything. Now, when a personal vendetta goes too deep to fight, he escapes to the Portuguese island of Madeira where he finds work on a small farm only accessible by boat.

The balmy climate and never-ending supply of exotic fruit, vegetables, and honey make it sound like paradise. But, for Joseph, it’s the ideal place to hide from the world.

Not everyone is prepared to give up on life’s misfortunes. The local fishing village has its own surprises and the inhabitants of Quinta da Esperança have more grit in them than the pebbled beach that borders the property.

 

the river_s songThe River’s Song by Suchen Christine Lim

Ping, an American citizen, returns to Singapore after many years and sees a country transformed by prosperity. Gone are the boatmen and hawkers who once lived along the crowded riverside and in their place rise the gleaming towers of the financial district.

Her childhood growing up among the river people had been very different, and leaving her first love Weng, a musician, for America, had been devastating.

Now that she is back in Singapore, can she face her former lover and reveal the secret that has separated them for many years?

 

family trustFamily Trust by Kathy Wang

Meet Stanley Huang: Father, husband, ex-husband, man of unpredictable temper, aficionado of bargain luxury goods. He’s just been diagnosed with cancer, and his family are dealing with the fall-out.

Meet Stanley’s family: Son Fred, a banker who never has enough money; daughter Kate, juggling a difficult boss and her two small children; ex-wife Linda, suspicious of Stanley’s grand gestures; and second wife Mary, giver of foot rubs and ego massages.

Meet Stanley’s fortune: As the Huangs come to terms with Stanley’s approaching death, they are starting to fear that there’s a lot less in the pot than they thought. And that’s a problem when you’re living in one of the wealthiest parts of California…

Spanning themes of culture, ambition, love and – most of all – family, this sparkling debut is a sharp, funny and loving portrait of modern Asian-American life.

 

the other side of paradiseThe Other Side of Paradise by Margaret Mayhew

She lived only for pleasure…until war forced her to find courage she did not know she had, and love where she least expected it.

It is 1941, and while Britain is in the grip of war, life in the Far East is one of wealth and privilege. In Singapore Susan Roper, secure in the supremacy of the British Empire, enjoys dancing,clothes and fast cars, tennis and light flirtations with visiting naval officers- her life is devoted solely to pleasure. When she meets an Australian doctor who warns her of the danger that they all face she dismisses him as an ignorant colonial.

Singapore goes on partying, oblivious to the threat of invasion. The British flag will, they believe, protect them from all enemies. But when Japan invades, Susan finds herself in grave danger. She become an ambulance driver and is taken prisoner by the Japanese. Gradually and reluctantly she realises that she has fallen in love with the tough, arrogant and totally unsuitable doctor, but she has to face many hardships and witness terrible events before she can acknowledge the truth.

 

 

z- a novel of zelda fitzgeraldZ: A Novel of Zelda Fitzgerald by Therese Anne Fowler

When beautiful, reckless Southern belle Zelda Sayre meets F. Scott Fitzgerald at a country club dance in 1918, she is seventeen and he is a young army lieutenant. Before long, Zelda has fallen for him, even though Scott isn’t wealthy or prominent or even a Southerner and keeps insisting, absurdly, that his writing will bring him both fortune and fame. When he sells his first novel, she optimistically boards a train to New York, to marry him and take the rest as it comes.

What comes, here at the dawn of the Jazz Age, is unimagined success and celebrity that will make Scott and Zelda legends in their own time. Each place they go becomes a playground:New York City, Long Island, Hollywood, Paris, and the French Riviera – where they join the endless party of the glamorous, sometimes doomed Lost Generation that includes Ernest HemingwaySara and Gerald Murphy, and Gertrude Stein.

Everything seems new and possible, but not even Jay Gatsby’s parties go on forever. Who is Zelda, other than the wife of a famous – sometimes infamous – husband? With brilliant insight and imagination, Therese Anne Fowler brings us Zelda’s irresistible story as she herself might have told it.

 

no time to cryNo Time to Cry by James Oswald

Undercover ops are always dangerous, but DC Constance Fairchild never expected things to go this wrong.

Returning to their base of operations, an anonymous office in a shabby neighbourhood, she finds the bloodied body of her boss, and friend, DI Pete Copperthwaite. He’s been executed – a single shot to the head.

In the aftermath, it seems someone in the Met is determined to make sure that blame for the wrecked operation falls squarely on Con’s shoulders. She is cut loose and cast out, angry and alone with her grief… right until the moment someone also tries to put a bullet through her head.

There’s no place to hide, and no time to cry.

 

love and ruinLove & Ruin by Paula McLain

In 1937, courageous and independent Martha Gellhorn travels to Madrid to report on the atrocities of the Spanish Civil War, and finds herself drawn to the stories of ordinary people caught in devastating conflict. She also finds herself unexpectedly – and uncontrollably – falling in love with Ernest Hemingway, a man already on his way to being a legend. In the shadow of the impending Second World War, and set against the tumultuous backdrops of Madrid, Finland, China, and especially Cuba, where Martha and Hemingway made their home, their relationship and professional careers ignite.

But when Hemingway publishes the biggest literary success of his career, they are no longer equals, and Martha must make a choice: surrender to the suffocating demands of a domestic lifestyle, or risk losing her husband by forging her way as her own woman and writer. It is a dilemma that will force her to break his heart, and her own.

 

caligulaCaligula by Simon Turney

Everyone knows his name. Everyone thinks they know his story.

Rome 37AD. The emperor is dying. No-one knows how long he has left. The power struggle has begun.

When the ailing Tiberius thrusts Caligula’s family into the imperial succession in a bid to restore order, he will change the fate of the empire and create one of history’s most infamous tyrants, Caligula.
But was he really a monster?

Forget everything you think you know. Let Livilla, Caligula’s youngest sister and confidante, tell you what really happened. How her quiet, caring brother became the most powerful man on earth. And how, with lies, murder and betrayal, Rome was changed for ever . . .

 

if fear winsIf Fear Wins by Tony J Forder

When a torched body is found in a country lane, DI Bliss and Chandler are called in to investigate. 

The detectives are drawn towards recent missing person reports and believe their victim will prove to be one of them. Bliss thinks he knows which, and fears the outcome if he is proven right.

Soon the body is identified, and Bliss and Chandler discover evidence suggesting this murder might be a terrorist attack.

Meanwhile, someone from Bliss’s past needs his help, and soon he is juggling his personal life with the demanding case. To make matters more complicated, MI5 and the Counter-Terrorist Unit are called in to help solve the case. But are they on the right track?

Bliss and Chandler soon find themselves in a race against time, and this might just be their most challenging case yet…

 

the reach of shadowsThe Reach of Shadows by Tony J Forder

Recovering from injuries sustained in a road collision, DI Bliss is taken directly from hospital to a fresh crime scene and ordered to investigate the vicious stabbing and murder of Jade Coleman.

When Bliss realises the victim had reported being stalked, and that two of his own team had been drafted in to take her statement, he is given the unenviable task of interviewing both of his detectives.

Increasingly it appears that the stalker may be their killer. However, several other people soon become part of the team’s suspect list.

Bliss also finds himself being questioned about his own past and has to battle to defend himself whilst continuing to investigate the murder.

Soon more questions arise.

Why would anybody target Jade Coleman?

Why are the team unable to identify the victim’s close female friend?

And why did Jade recently leave her job without any explanation?

With his work cut out, and his team under pressure, can Bliss solve the case before more victims show up?

Or will the shadows of his own past reach out and drag him under before he can succeed?

 

finding gobiFinding Gobi by Dion Leonard

Like A Streecat Named Bob before it, Finding Gobi is a truly heart-warming story for animal lovers worldwide…

In 2016, Dion Leonard, a seasoned ultramarathon runner, unexpectedly stumbled across a little stray dog while competing in a gruelling 155 mile race across the Gobi Desert. The lovable pup, who earned the name ‘Gobi’, proved that what she lacked in size, she more than made up for in heart, as she went step for step with Dion over the treacherous Tian Shan Mountains, managing to keep pace with him for nearly 80 miles.

As Dion witnessed the incredible determination of this small animal, he felt something change within himself. In the past he had always focused on winning and being the best, but his goal now was simply to make sure that his new friend was safe, nourished and hydrated. Although Dion did not finish first, he felt he had won something far greater and promised to bring Gobi back to the UK for good to become a new addition to his family. This was the start of a journey neither of them would ever forget with a roller coaster ride of drama, grief, heartbreak, joy and love that changed their lives forever

 

the hangman_s holdThe Hangman’s Hold by Michael Wood

Your life is in his hands.

In the gripping new serial killer thriller from Michael Wood, Matilda Darke faces a vicious killer pursuing his own brand of lethal justice. Perfect for fans of Angela Marsons and Helen Fields.

There’s a killer in your house.
The Hangman waits in the darkness.

He knows your darkest secrets.
He’ll make you pay for all the crimes you have tried desperately to forget.

And he is closer than you think.
DCI Matilda Darke is running out of time. Fear is spreading throughout the city. As the body count rises, Matilda is targeted and her most trusted colleagues fall under suspicion. But can she keep those closest to her from harm? Or is it already too late?

 

eat the moonEat the Moon by Breda Joy

When Kieran O’Mahony rides away to the hunt on a powerful black horse, his mother is gripped by a sense of foreboding. He is a rising hurling star, with the world at his feet and one spirited local girl in his heart. His grandmother, however, has read a frightening premonition in the tea leaves.

Already several things out of the ordinary have occurred that summer. First, there is the arrival of Tamara, a young London cousin – minus her voice, which she lost following a traumatic event. Then, in the same week of July 1969, the family are caught up in the magic of the Apollo moon landing.

It’s a giant step for mankind indeed but doesn’t help Tamara to adjust to the already alien world of the Cork farm. Mute, she must cope with the unfamiliar idiom and way of seeing the world, while her cousin Sally resents the attention paid to her.

Then all their lives are shattered by a blind act of fate that threatens to tear the family asunder.

Like the Apollo astronauts, Kieran and his family begin a voyage away from the familiar. Their journey back from the dark side of the moon involves one exceptional moon-silver horse, the bonds of family, the wisdom of age and the passionate loyalty of youth.

 

the king of lavender squareThe King of Lavender Square by Susan Ryan

Saskia watches the lives of others from her eyrie in Lavender Square with a lonely fascination. While the teacher, the recluse, the advertising whizz-kid and the African woman and her young son run, rush, dart and dash, she knows for sure that she will never have anything worth dashing to.

But sometimes all it takes is a little magic to bring people together. And, in Lavender Square, where the lavender grows in mysterious abundance and colours the air with a musky sense of love, magic is never very far away.

The neighbours, who once passed each other by in detached universes, find themselves thrown together when they are obliged to take care of young Patrick Kimba. His mother is seriously ill and no one knows when or if she is ever coming home. At first they resist the tiresome interruption, until quite by accident Patrick’s dream of becoming a football star and finding his long-lost father becomes theirs, and their lives and heartaches become woven together in a new and unexpected pattern.

 

lastletterhomeLast Letter Home by Rachel Hore

Can a chance encounter unlock one woman’s past? 

On holiday in Italy, Briony Wood becomes fascinated by the wartime story of a ruined villa hidden amongst the hills of Naples. Not only is it the very place where her grandfather was stationed as a soldier in 1943, but she also discovers that it harbours the secret of a love long lost.

Handed a bundle of tattered letters found buried at the villa, Briony becomes enraptured by the blossoming love story between Sarah Bailey, an English woman, and Paul Hartmann, a young German. The letters lead her back almost seventy years to pre-war Norfolk.

But as Briony delves into Sarah and Paul’s story, she encounters resentments and secrets still tightly guarded. All too quickly it is clear that what happened long ago under the shadow of Vesuvius, she suspects, still has the power to cause terrible pain . . .

 

NetGalley Review Copies

 

chemicaldetectiveThe Chemical Detective by Fiona Erskine (due 4th April)

Dr Jaq Silver. Skier, scientist, international jet-setter, explosives expert. She blows things up to keep people safe.

Working on avalanche control in Slovenia, Jaq stumbles across a problem with a consignment of explosives. After raising a complaint with the supplier, a multinational chemical company, her evidence disappears. Jaq is warned, threatened, accused of professional incompetence and suspended. Taking her complaint further, she narrowly escapes death only to be framed for murder. Escaping from police custody, she sets out to find the key to the mystery.

Racing between the snowy slopes of Slovenia and the ghostly ruins of Chernobyl, can she uncover the truth before her time runs out?

 

Unbound Book Club January Choice

 

theblackprinceThe Black Prince by Anthony Burgess

‘I’m working on a novel intended to express the feel of England in Edward III’s time … The fourteenth century of my novel will be mainly evoked in terms of smell and visceral feelings, and it will carry an undertone of general disgust rather than hey-nonny nostalgia’ – Anthony Burgess, Paris Review, 1973 The Black Prince is a brutal historical tale of chivalry, religious belief, obsession, siege and bloody warfare. From disorientating depictions of medieval battles to court intrigues and betrayals, the campaigns of Edward II, the Black Prince, are brought to vivid life by an author in complete control of the novel as a way of making us look at history with fresh eyes, all while staying true to the linguistic pyrotechnics and narrative verve of Burgess’s best work.

 

Reading in Heels January Choice

 

theoutrunThe Outrun by Amy Liptrot

At the age of thirty, Amy Liptrot finds herself washed up back home on Orkney. Standing unstable on the island, she tries to come to terms with the addiction that has swallowed the last decade of her life. As she spends her mornings swimming in the bracingly cold sea, her days tracking Orkney’s wildlife, and her nights searching the sky for the Merry Dancers, Amy discovers how the wild can restore life and renew hope.

 

 

HeadLine New Voices 2019

See Report of Event here for full details.

 

blood orangepast lifethe girl in the letter

 

billy binnslast ones left alive

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Betray Her By Caroline England @CazEngland #BlurbReveal

 

next big thing

 

I’m delighted to announce that Caroline England has a new psychological thriller coming out on the 14th March. Still awaiting a cover, but as a tempter I’ve got the blurb.

 

betray her

 

So, if you were thrilled by The Wife’s Secret and gripped by My Husband’s Lies, I think you’ll love Betray Her. A twisty and utterly compulsive psychological thriller about toxic relationships with terrible consequences. It’s available to pre-order here .

If you can’t wait until March to read something new, then Caroline has recently published a short story collection, comprising 12 sharp and sweetly twisted tales.

watching horsepats feed the roses

Watching Horsepats Feed the Roses

 

A dozen cameos of quirks and cruelty that traverse the dark side of human nature. From the unexpected to the surreal, these diverse bite-sized stories are inhabited by characters that are lovelorn, nostalgic, tragic, the keepers of secrets and much more…

 

 

A second collection will be available in the spring.

 

Caroline

 

About the author:-

Born Yorkshire lass, Caroline studied Law at the University of Manchester and stayed over the border. Caroline was a divorce and professional indemnity lawyer and instigated her jottings when she deserted the law to bring up her three lovely daughters. Caroline has had short stories and poems published in a variety of literary publications and anthologies.

Her debut novel, Beneath the Skin, known also as The Wife’s Secret, was published by Avon HarperCollins on 5 October 2017. Her second novel, My Husband’s Lies, followed on 17 May 2018 and became a Kindle top ten bestseller. Her two-book deal with Piatkus of Little, Brown Book Group, includes a “dark” psychological thriller called Betray Her, which will publish in March 2019.

You can follow Caroline via Website, Twitter and Facebook.

 

 

 

 

 

 

. A second collection will be published in the spring.