Book Extract: Perfect Prey by Helen Fields

#BookExtract #BlogTour @Helen_Fields @Sabah_K @AvonBooksUK

Hello! Welcome to my spot on the Perfect Prey Blog Tour. Thank you Sabah, and Avon Books, for inviting me to be part of this tour. Today I’ve got an extract from Helen Fields’ latest novel, Perfect Prey (the sequel to the gripping Perfect Remains). But, before we get into the good stuff, let me tell you a little bit about the book…

About Perfect Prey: 

PerfectPrey

The second in the terrifying DI Callanach crime series. Fans of M.J. Arlidge will be hooked from the very first page.

In the midst of a rock festival, a charity worker is sliced across the stomach. He dies minutes later. In a crowd of thousands, no one saw his attacker. The following week, the body of a primary school teacher is found in a dumpster in an Edinburgh alley, strangled with her own woollen scarf.

DI Ava Turner and DI Luc Callanach have no motive and no leads – until around the city, graffitied on buildings, words appear describing each victim.

It’s only when they realise the words are appearing before rather than after the murders, that they understand the killer is announcing his next victim…and the more innocent the better.

Author: Helen Fields
Published by: Avon Books
Paperback: 464 pages, published 27th July 2017

About Helen Fields: 

Helen Fields studied law at the University of East Anglia, then went on to the Inns of Court School of Law in London. After completing her pupillage, she joined chambers in Middle Temple where she practised criminal and family law for thirteen years. After her second child was born, Helen left the Bar.

Together with her husband David, she runs a film production company, acting as script writer and producer. Perfect Prey is her second novel following Perfect Remains. Both are set in Scotland, where Helen feels most at one with the world. Helen and her husband now live in Hampshire with their three children and two dogs.

Without further ado, I hope you enjoy this extract from Perfect Prey:

Detective Inspector Luc Callanach stood at the spot where the young man had taken his last breath. His identity had not yet been established. The police had pieced together remarkably little in the hour since the victim’s death. It was amazing, Callanach thought, how in a crowd of thousands they had found not a single useful witness.

The young man had simply ceased his rhythmic jumping, crumpling slowly, falling left and right, forwards and backwards, against his fellow festival-goers, finally collapsing, clutching his stomach. It had annoyed some of them, disrupted their viewing pleasure. He’d been assumed drunk at first, drug-addled second. Only when a barefooted teenage girl had slipped in the pool of blood did the alarm ring out, and amidst the decibels it had taken an age for the message to get through. Eventually the screams had drowned out the music when the poor boy had been rolled over, his spilled entrails slinking closely in his wake like some alien pet, sparkling with reflected sunshine in the gloss of so much brilliant blood.

The uniforms hadn’t been far away. It was a massive public event with every precaution taken, or so they’d thought. But making their way through the throng, police officers first, then paramedics, and clearing an area then managing the scene, had been a logistical disaster. Callanach looked skywards and sighed. The crime scene was more heavily trodden than nightclub toilets on New Year’s Eve. There was enough DNA floating around to populate a new planet. It was a forensic free-for-all. The body itself was already on its way to the mortuary, having been photographed in situ for all the good it would do. The corpse had been moved so many times by do-gooders, panicked bystanders, the police, medics, before finally being left to rest on a bed of trampled grass and kicked-up dirt. The chief pathologist, Ailsa Lambert, had been unusually quiet, issuing instructions only to treat the body with care and respect, and to move him swiftly to a place where there would be no more prying cameras or hysterical caterwauling. Callanach was there to secure the scene – a concept beyond irony – before following Ailsa to her offices.

In the brief look Callanach had got, the victim’s face had said it all. Eyes screwed tight as if willing himself to wake from a nightmare, mouth caught open between gasp and scream. Had he been shouting a name? Callanach wondered. Did he know his assailant? He’d been carrying no identifica­tion, merely some loose change in his shorts, not even so much as a watch on his wrist. Only a key on a piece of string around his neck. However swiftly death had come, the terror of knowing you were fading, of sensing that hope was a missed bus, while all around you leapt and sang, must have seemed the cruellest joke. And at the very end, hearing only screams, seeing panic and horror in the sea of eyes above. What must it have been like, Callanach wondered, to have died alone on the hard ground in such bright sunlight? The last thing the victim had known of the world could only have been unalle­viated dread.

Callanach studied the domed stage, rigged with sound and lighting gear, and prayed that one of the cameras mounted there might have caught a useful fragment. Someone rushing, leaving, moving differently to the rest of the crowd. The Meadows, an expanse of park and playing fields to the south of the city centre, were beautiful and peaceful on a normal day. Mothers brought their toddlers, dog walkers roamed and joggers timed

the circuit. Strains of ‘Summer is A-Coming In’ sounded in the back of Callanach’s mind from a screening of the original version of The Wicker Man that DI Ava Turner had dragged him to a few months ago. He’d found Edward Woodward’s acting mesmerising, and the images of men and women in animal masks preparing to make their human sacrifice had stayed with him long after the projector had been switched off. It wasn’t a million miles away from the circus in the centre of which this young man had perished.

‘Sir, the people standing behind the victim have been identified. They’re available to speak now,’ a constable said.

Be sure to swing by the blog in August, when I hope to publish a full review! You can check the other posts on the blog tour out here: 

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Blog Tour: Our Memory Like Dust by Gavin Chait

#BlogTour #OurMemoryLikeDust #BlogTour #BookReview @RosieMargesson @GavinChait

Good morning and happy Friday! Welcome to my stop on the Our Memory Like Dust blog tour. Here goes…

About the book: 

OurMemoryLikeDust

Why do we tell stories? To hold on to what has been loved and lost, to create new myths, to explain and teach in ways that seep into memory.

Shakiso Collard leads the evacuation from Benghazi as jihadis overwhelm the refugee camp where she works. On arrival in Paris, she is betrayed by her boss, Oktar Samboa, and watches in despair as those she illegally helped escape are deported back to the warzones of Libya.

Elsewhere, Farinata Uberti – strongman CEO of Rosneft, the world’s largest energy company – arrives in London after triggering a violent insurrection in Tanzania to destroy a potential rival in the oil market. In the Sahara, an air convoy on its way to deliver billions of dollars of drugs and weapons to Ansar Dine jihadis crashes and is lost.

A year later, having spent months in hiding, Shakiso travels to West Africa. She is there to lead the relief effort that are hoping to stop the 200 million refugees fleeing war and environmental collapse heading for a fortified and fragmented Europe.

As the myths of these millions seeking new lives across the Mediterranean intrude into reality, Shakiso is drawn into the brutal clandestine fight against Rosneft’s domination of European energy supplies being conducted by the mysterious Simon Adaro. And, deep within the disorienting Harmattan storms of the desert, a group of jihadis have gone in search of the crashed convoy of planes – and a terror that could overwhelm them all.

Author: Gavin Chait
Publisher:
Doubleday
Hardback: 400 pages, 27 July 2017

My thoughts:

Following a number of characters and storylines, at first Our Memory Like Dust is a little confusing, but soon enough you start to connect the dots and the story unfolds. Throughout, Chait focuses on the fragility of memory, which ultimately is explored through the good, the bad, the powerful, the helpless and those in between. Set in Africa, in a dystopian future there are loads of cool tech ideas and concepts that Chait includes to bring the story to life.

I found that Chait tackles so many contemporary issues throughout, that sometimes I had to take a step back to get my head around what was going on. Themes of war, conflict, mythology and politics cropped up, but to name a few. However, I certainly think it worked with his style and also the woven story that he tells, which is rich and disturbing in places.

Going into Our Memory Like Dust, I had no idea what to expect. After finishing it, I’m still digesting it in my head and going over what happened. Overall, Our Memory Like Dust is a really unusual read and was not at all what I was expecting. This book is ideal if you’re looking for a slow burner and are a lover of light sci-fi or dystopian fiction.

About the author:

GavinChait

Born in Cape Town in 1974, Gavin Chait emigrated to the UK nearly ten years ago. He has degrees in Microbiology & Biochemistry, and Electrical Engineering. He is an economic development strategist and data scientist, and has travelled extensively in Africa, Latin America, Europe and Asia and is now based in Oxford. His first novel, Lament for the Fallen, was critically acclaimed (Eric Brown in the Guardian called it ‘a compulsively readable, life affirming tale’). Our Memory Like Dust is his second.

I received an advanced copy of Our Memory Like Dust in exchange for a fair, honest and unbiased review. Thanks Rosie!

 

Blog Tour: Dying to Live by Michael Stanley (Orenda Books)

#BlogTour #BookReview #OrendaBooks @OrendaBooks @annecater

Hello everyone! Welcome to my stop on the Dying To Live Blog Tour – thanks Anne and Orenda Books for inviting me along for the ride.

About the book:

Front Cover Dying to Live

When the body of a Bushman is discovered near the Central Kalahari Game Reserve, the death is written off as an accident. But all is not as it seems. An autopsy reveals that, although he’s clearly very old, his internal organs are puzzlingly young. What’s more, an old bullet is lodged in one of his muscles… but where is the entry wound?

When the body is stolen from the morgue and a local witch doctor is reported missing, Detective ‘Kubu’ Bengu gets involved. But did the witch doctor take the body to use as part of a ritual? Or was it the American anthropologist who’d befriended the old Bushman? As Kubu and his brilliant young colleague, Detective Samantha Khama, follow the twisting trail through a confusion of rhino-horn smugglers, foreign gangsters and drugs manufacturers, the wider and more dangerous the case seems to grow.

A fresh, new slice of ‘Sunshine Noir’, Dying to Live is a classic tale of greed, corruption and ruthless thuggery, set in one of the world’s most beautiful landscapes, and featuring one of crime fiction’s most endearing and humane heroes.

Author: Michael Stanley
Published by: Orenda Books
Paperback: Published 30th July 2017 

My thoughts:

Dying to Live is the sixth book in the Detective Kubu series – slight disclaimer: I haven’t actually read any of the preceding books, but I don’t think that impacted my reading experience as this worked fantastically as a solid stand-alone crime novel. From the outset, the premise of the crime is intriguing and hooks you in, as Kubu and Samantha untangle the crime the book is filled with tension, twists and turns, all of which kept me engaged throughout.

Alongside the main plot there is a parallel storyline where we get to know more about Kubu’s family and his daughter’s fight with HIV – this made his character likeable, giving him depth and compassion.

I loved the setting of the book, the African landscape added a different dimension, making it stand out from so many British crime books, which can sometimes feel a bit samey! Tales of bushmen and witchdoctors bought the book to life with snippets of history and vivid colour. I also liked how the authors created conflicting character opinions through their beliefs of the witchdoctors – it created atmosphere, as well as a sense of uncertainly. If you’re looking for a fairly light crime novel, which is a bit different, then I’d definitely recommend giving the Kubu books a go.

About the authors:

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Michael Stanley is the writing team of Michael Sears and Stanley Trollip. Both were born in South Africa and have worked in academia and business. On a flying trip to Botswana, they watched a pack of hyenas hunt, kill, and devour a wildebeest, eating both flesh and bones. That gave them the premise for their first mystery, A Carrion Death, which introduced Detective ‘Kubu’ Bengu of the Botswana Criminal Investigation Department. It was a finalist for five awards, including the CWA Debut Dagger. The series has been critically acclaimed, and their third book, Death of the Mantis, won the Barry Award and was a finalist for an Edgar award. Deadly Harvest was a finalist for an International Thriller Writers’ award, and book 5, A Death in the Family, was an international bestseller.

You can catch the other blog tour posts here:

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I received an advanced copy of Dying to Live from Orenda Books in exchange for a fair, honest and unbiased review. Thanks Karen, thanks Anne! 

Blog Tour: The Things We Thought We Knew by Mahsuda Snaith

#BlogTour #BookReview @DoubledayUK @MahsudaSnaith @TransworldBooks

Welcome to the penultimate stop on The Things We Thought We Knew blog tour. Thank you Transworld Books / Doubleday for having me and letting me share my review!

About the book:  The Things We Thought We Knew - Hardback.jpg

Ravine and Marianne were best friends. They practiced handstands together, raced slugs and went into the woods to play. But now everything has changed.

Ten years later, Ravine lies in a bed plagued by chronic pain syndrome. And her best friend Marianne is gone. How did their last adventure go so wrong? Who is to blame? And where is Marianne?

Heartbreaking, bittersweet and utterly unforgettable, The Things We Thought We Knew is a powerful novel about the things we remember and the things we wish we could forget.

Author: Mahsuda Snaith
Published by: Transworld Books / Doubleday, 15th June 2017
Hardback: 304 pages

My thoughts:

Mahsuda Snaith’s writing is stunning – it draws you in from the first page and envelops you in feeling and emotion. Firstly, her descriptions of chronic pain are done in such a sensitive and complex way. The exploration of an invisible illness is heartbreaking as we see how Ravine adapts and conquers. It is a fascinating glimpse into both the physical and mental aspect of what it is to suffer an endless, chronic illness.

The Things We Thought We Knew is also full of familial relationships and friendship. I found it interesting how Snaith explores the impact memories can have on us; how they evolve over time, the way in which they can trick us and also shape us into the people we grow to be. It is interesting to see how Ravine’s perspective changes over time, between her younger and older self. The story is like an origami bird that keeps unfolding, revealing more and more hidden secrets as we delve deeper into the narrative. Snaith writes about Ravine’s multicultural surroundings and the sense of community and claustrophobia echoes through the pages. Her characters are so vivid, with humanity and life experience shining through them.

The Things We Thought We Knew is a beautifully moving coming-of-age tale that captures life on a council estate with such clarity. It is gutsy, eye-opening and emotional, showing the reader what it is to truly find ourselves in this cruel, crazy and vivid world.

I can’t wait to see what’s next for Mahsuda Snaith – she’s certainly an author I’ll be keeping watch on!

About the author:

Mahsuda Snaith © Jonathan Ring.jpg

Mahsuda Snaith is the winner of the SI Leeds Literary Prize 2014 and Bristol Short Story Prize 2014, and a finalist in the Myslexia Novel Writing Competition 201. She lives in Leicester where she leads writing workshops and teaches part-time in primary schools.

Mahsuda is a fan of reading and crochet. This is her first novel. 

You can catch the other blog tour posts here:

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I received an advanced copy of The Things We Thought We Knew from Doubleday in exchange for a fair, honest and unbiased review. Thanks Transworld / Doubleday!

Blog Tour: Secrets of the Italian Gardener by Andrew Crofts (RedDoor)

#BlogTour #BookReview @RedDoorBooks @AndrewCrofts #SOTIG

Welcome to my stop on The Secrets of the Italian Gardener blog tour. Thank you RedDoor for having me!

About the novella:  

SOTIGCover

Mo, the wealthy dictator of a volatile Middle Eastern country, enlists a ghostwriter to tell his story to the world and enshrine him in history as a glorious ruler. 

Inside Mo’s besieged palace the ghost forms an unlikely friendship with a wise and seemingly innocent Italian gardener who slowly reveals that the regime isn’t all it appears to be.

As a violent rebellion threatens all their lives the ghost struggles to cope with a personal secret too painful to bear.

Author: Andrew Croft
Paperback: 160 pages
Published by: RedDoor

My thoughts…

The Secrets of the Italian Gardener follows a nameless ghostwriter as he is enlisted to write about Mo, a powerful, Middle-Eastern dictator. During his time at the palace he wanders the grounds collecting his thoughts as he struggles to garner information from Mo. Whilst in the beautiful, serene garden he stumbles upon Lou, the Italian Gardener, and as the friendship between them develops we quickly start to see that there is both pain and suffering behind beauty. Even the nicest people can have dark pasts to hide.

The novella is full of power and threat. As the violent uprising on the streets overspills into the palace, Lou continues his work to hide the atrocities that are taking place. Crofts uses the garden to show that we mustn’t always take things as they seem on first glance. He champions the restorative, healing power of nature; over time pain can be built into something beautiful. The darkness feeds the light and without one the other can’t thrive.

Whilst it made me uneasy in places, it also made me question whether I would do the same as the ghost writer – would I stand by and watch the atrocities, keeping silent, all in the name of money? Crofts weaves in a parallel storyline where the ghostwriter and his wife deal with one of the greatest personal tragedies a parent can go through. This personal pain both marries and contrasts with the tragedy that is unfolding on the global stage before him; as the uprising and revolution roars in the Middle East, his own grief becomes prevalent giving him a reason to continue with his work. Can we ever judge the reason and rationale of another person’s moral decision?

I read this in one sitting and for such a short book it packs so much in thanks to Crofts magical storytelling ability. It encompasses everything from what it is to endure grief to understanding, and accepting, your own morality. Political, tense, philosophical and intriguing, The Secrets of the Italian Gardener is a well-developed, thought-provoking read that will make you question good vs. evil.

About the author:

Andrew Crofts is a ghostwriter and author who has published more than eighty books, a dozen of which were Sunday Times number one bestsellers.

AndrewCrofts

He has spent much of his ghostwriting career amongst the dictators, politicians, arms dealers and billionaires who hold the reins of power and control the wealth of the world, stationed in their lavish palaces and heavily guarded compounds in the wildest parts of Africa, Asia and the Middle East as well as in tax havens like Monaco, Geneva, Bermuda and the Caribbean.

You can check out the other posts on the blog tour here:

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I received an beautiful hardback copy of Secrets of the Italian Gardener from RedDoor Books in exchange for a fair, honest and unbiased review. Thanks RedDoor!

Blog Tour: Being Simon Haines by Tom Vaughan MacAulay @RedDoorBooks

#WhoIsSimonHaines @TomMacAulay80 @RedDoorBooks

Hello and welcome to one of the final few stops on the Being Simon Haines blog tour.

About the book:

Meet Simon Haines.
BeingSimon_FrontCover

For a decade he’s been chasing his dream: partnership at the legendary, family-run law firm of Fiennes & Plunkett. The grueling hours and manic intensity of his job have come close to breaking him, but he has made it through the years and is now within a whisker of his millions: in less than two weeks, he will know the outcome of the partnership vote. He decides to spend the wait in Cuba in an attempt to rediscover his youthful enthusiasm and curiosity, and to clear his mind before the arrival of the news that might change his life forever. But alone in Havana he becomes lost in nostalgia and begins to relive his past…

Set against the backdrop of an uncertain world, and charged with emotion, Being Simon Haines is a searching story about contemporary London and aspiration, values and love. Painting a picture of a generation of young professionals, it asks the most universal of questions: are we strong enough to know who we are?

Author: Tom Vaughan MacAulay
Paperback: 425 pages
Published by: RedDoor Books, 22 June 2017

My thoughts…

Frenzied, stressful city life is at the heart of this novel as Simon Haines works ridiculous hours at Fiennes & Plunkett – on the brink of propelling his career further, he decides to have a trip to Cuba.

The narrative is beautifully descriptive, full of anecdotes and humour, with flashbacks delving into Simon’s past. We see how his relationships have panned out, and influenced him personally, including that with his ex-girlfriend Sophie. The characters are well developed and complex; my perception of Simon changed as the story progressed. I didn’t warm to him at first, but as we learn more about him I grew to like him. As his backstory unravelled he became more human and thus easier to connect to as a character.

I particularly enjoyed the sections in Cuba, where Simon spends time rediscovering himself – this offered a much-needed, fantastic, calming contrast to his frenetic, chaotic corporate life.

If you’re looking for an intelligent read which is something a little bit different then I highly recommend Being Simon Haines – it is a refreshing take on what sacrifices are made in order to pursue lifelong happiness, as well as the consequences these actions can have along the way.

About Tom Vaughan MacAulay: 

TomVaughanMacAulay.jpg

Tom Vaughan MacAulay was born in Chester in 1980. Tom is a solicitor and has worked both in London and Milan during his career. He currently lives in North London and is in the process of completing his second novel.

You can see the other posts on the Being Simon Haines blog tour here:

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I was sent an advanced review copy of Being Simon Haines from RedDoor Books in exchange for a fair, unbiased and honest review. Thanks RedDoor!

Blog Tour: Two Lost Boys by L.F. Robertson

#TitanBooks #BookReview #BlogTour @TitanBooks

Hello and welcome to my stop on the blog tour for Two Lost Boys by L.F. Robertson. A big thank you to Philippa at Titan Books for organizing, and including me, on this blog tour.

About the book:

Lost Boys_final

 

Janet Moodie has spent years as a death row appeals attorney. Overworked and recently widowed, she’s had her fill of hopeless cases, and is determined that this will be her last. Her client is Marion ‘Andy’ Hardy, convicted along with his brother Emory of the rape and murder of two women. But Emory received a life sentence while Andy got the death penalty, labeled the ringleader despite his low IQ and Emory’s dominant personality.

Convinced that Andy’s previous lawyers missed mitigating evidence that would have kept him off death row, Janet investigates Andy’s past. She discovers a sordid and damaged upbringing, a series of errors on the part of his previous counsel, and most worrying of all, the possibility that there is far more to the murders than was first thought. Andy may be guilty, but does he deserve to die?

Paperback: 400 pages
Published by:
Titan Books, 16 May – you can order a copy here

My thoughts…

As with any crime book I will keep my review brief as I don’t want to give away any spoilers, ruining the twists and turns of the book for you!

Two Lost Boys is a legal thriller that grips hard as we follow Janet Moodie’s progress during the sentencing of Andy Hardy.

If you’re interested in learning more about the justice system and US prisons then this one is for you. Whilst the characters in Two Lost Boys are complex, the plot and narrative is a little simple, but that’s no bad thing as the story flows exceptionally well. For me, Robertson’s career and legal insights bring the story to life and are what make it.

Justice sits at the heart of the novel; with a man on death row, will a fair trial be had? Innocence, guilt, mercy and grief are also explored throughout, with Robertson’s writing making the legal technicalities easy to digest and understand.

Overall, Two Lost Boys is a compelling, brooding novel full of dark, intense pockets – to the point where it felt quite oppressive at times. I found it fascinating how Robertson drew on her professional experiences to write the book; this made it an authentic, detailed read, with real insight into the criminal justice system.

About the author:

L.F. Robertson is a practising defense attorney who for the last two decades has handled only death penalty appeals. Linda is the co-author of The Complete Idiots Guide to Unsolved Mysteries, and a contributor to the forensic handbooks How to Try a Murder and Irrefutable Evidence. She has had short stories published in the anthologies My Sherlock Holmes, Sherlock Holmes: the Hidden Years and Sherlock Holmes: The American Years.

You can see the other posts from the blog tour here:

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I received an advanced copy of Two Lost Boys from the lovely Philippa at Titan Books for an honest and unbiased review – thank you,