CTG Reviews: The Memory Chamber by @HollyACave

yIlrgrDS.jpg-large

Holly Cave’s The Memory Chamber is out in paperback this month and wow this book blew my mind – I loved it so much and just had to shout about it!

If you’ve not heard of it yet, here’s the blurb:

An afterlife of your own design – what could go wrong?

Isobel designs artificial ‘heavens’ for her clients, created from the memories they treasure most. She works for Oakley Associates, London’s most prestigious firm of its kind. Her heavens are renowned for their beauty and perfection.

But Isobel crosses an ethical line when she falls for Jarek, a new – and married – client. Then, in the wake of his wife’s murder, Isobel uncovers a darker and deadlier side of the world she works in. As her life starts falling apart, Isobel realises that nothing is as perfect as it seems, not even heaven itself…”

Honestly, it’s a gorgeous, terrifying, heart breaking, fascinating book and I just couldn’t put it down. Hugely recommended!

You can find out more over on Amazon by clicking on the book cover below:

CTG’s #threewordbookreview – Blood & Sugar by Laura Shepherd-Robinson

Blood S

Today’s three word ‘micro’ book review features the stunningly brilliant debut historical crime novel BLOOD & SUGAR by Laura Shepherd-Robinson.

Here’s what the blurb says: “June, 1781. An unidentified body hangs upon a hook at Deptford Dock – horribly tortured and branded with a slaver’s mark. Some days later, Captain Harry Corsham – a war hero embarking upon a promising parliamentary career – is visited by the sister of an old friend. Her brother, passionate abolitionist Tad Archer, had been about to expose a secret that he believed could cause irreparable damage to the British slaving industry. He’d said people were trying to kill him, and now he is missing . . . To discover what happened to Tad, Harry is forced to pick up the threads of his friend’s investigation, delving into the heart of the conspiracy Tad had unearthed. His investigation will threaten his political prospects, his family’s happiness, and force a reckoning with his past, risking the revelation of secrets that have the power to destroy him. And that is only if he can survive the mortal dangers awaiting him in Deptford…”

My verdict: POWERFUL. HEART-WRENCHING. MYSTERY.

This is an incredible debut novel – beautifully written, fast-paced and suspenseful, with one hell of an emotional punch. Quite simply a must-read for any crime fiction fan.

Blood & Sugar will be out in January 2019 from Mantle. To find out more and pre-order the book click the cover below and hop over to Amazon (note: this is the actual cover, mine pictured above is an early proof):

CTG’s #threewordbookreview – Cold Desert Sky by Rod Reynolds

Des Sky

Today’s three word ‘micro’ book review features the latest in the wonderful Charlie Yates  series – COLD DESERT SKY by Rod Reynolds.

Here’s what the blurb says: “Late 1946 and Charlie Yates and his wife Lizzie have returned to Los Angeles, trying to stay anonymous in the City of Angels. But when Yates, back in his old job at the Pacific Journal, becomes obsessed by the disappearance of two aspiring Hollywood starlets, he finds it leads him right back to his worse fear: legendary mob boss Benjamin ‘Bugsy’ Siegel, a man he once crossed, and whose shadow he can’t shake.”

My verdict: PAGE-TURNING. ATMOSPHERIC. NOIR.

This is one of my favourite thriller series and Cold Desert Sky is a fantastic read – perfect for fans of all things crime thriller and American noir.

Cold Desert Sky is out now from Faber. To find out more and buy the book click the cover below and hop over to Amazon:

CTG’s #threewordbookreview – The Killing Habit by Mark Billingham

MB Killing H

Today’s three word ‘micro’ book review features the latest in the brilliant Tom Thorne  series – THE KILLING HABIT – by Mark Billingham.

Here’s what the blurb says: “We all know the signs: cruelty, lack of empathy, the killing of animals. Now pets on suburban London streets are being stalked by a shadow, and it could just be the start. DI Tom Thorne knows the psychological profile of such offenders all too well, so when he is tasked with catching this notorious killer of domestic cats, he sees the chance to stop a series of homicides before they happen. Others are less convinced, so once more, Thorne relies on DI Nicola Tanner to help him solve the case before the culprit starts hunting people. It’s a journey that brings them face to face with a killer who will tear their lives apart.”

My verdict: TENSE. GRITTY. PROCEDURAL.

This is one of my favourite crime series and this book is another cracker – an essential read for fans of crime fiction and police procedurals.

The Killing Habit is out now from Sphere. To find out more and buy the book click the cover below and hop over to Amazon:

CTG’s #threewordbookreviews – ANACONDA VICE by JAMES STANSFIELD

IMG_1431

Today is the first post in my new feature series – three word book reviews – where I’ll be reviewing the books I’ve read in just three words (it’s more than a challenge than you might think!).

First up is ANACONDA VICE, a debut thriller from crime writer James Stansfield published this month by new-kids-on-the-block Manatee Books.

My verdict: FAST-PACED. DAZZLING. ACTION.

(Yes, I know that technically ‘fast-paced’ could be counted as two words, but i’ve added a hyphen so I’m counting it as one!)

To find out more and buy the book in ebook or paperback format click this link to Amazon

 

CTG REVIEWS: THE DEATHS OF DECEMBER by SUSI HOLLIDAY

IMG_6083

 

Here’s the blurb: “It looks like a regular advent calendar. Until DC Becky Greene starts opening doors… and discovers a crime scene behind almost every one. The police hope it’s a prank. Because if it isn’t, a murderer has just surfaced – someone who’s been killing for twenty years. But why now? And why has he sent it to this police station? As the country relaxes into festive cheer, Greene and DS Eddie Carmine must race against time to catch the killer. Because there are four doors left, and four murders will fill them…”

I’ve never read a serial killer book set at Christmas time before, but there’s something creepily macabre and don’t-you-dare-look-away compelling about the combination of Christmas tunes, tinsel and blood splatter.

In The Deaths of December, Susi Holliday introduces a great new police pairing – DC Becky Greene and DS Eddie Carmine. Becky is fresh into the job and as enthusiastic as she is tenacious. Eddie has more experience, and is more measured, thorough – or at least he believes he always has been. They make for a great duo, not always seeing eye-to-eye, but getting on and recognizing each other’s strengths nonetheless. And that’s important, because the case they’ve been assigned is a tricky one.

How do you catch a serial killer who’s been killing for twenty years undetected? He doesn’t have a specific victim ‘type’ and he kills in different ways, in different towns, on different days. The only thing that seems to connect the crimes is the gruesome advent calendar he sent to the police – but why send it?

As Becky and Eddie investigate the case it takes them away from their loved ones just as the festive period is beginning in earnest. They’re focused on the case, on catching the killer before he strikes this Christmas. They assume that there’ll be able to spend time with their families afterwards. But will they? Because the closer they get to the killer, the closer he gets to the ones they love…

Peppered with sharply observed Christmas holiday and habit references, this is a sparkly and blood-splattered read. It’s the perfect antidote to too much turkey and Christmas pudding – creepy, tense and twisty-turny as hell. I loved it!

Fans of police procedurals are going to want to make sure they’ve got a copy of The Deaths of December in their Christmas socking.

THE DEATHS OF DECEMBER is out on 16th November.

You can pre-order it from Amazon HERE

And find out more about Susi Holliday and her books by hopping over to her website and blog HERE

CTG REVIEWS: BLOODY SCOTLAND – the bloody brilliant book! #BloodyScotland

Bloody_Scotland_mock_03.indd

 

What happens when top crime writers Val McDermid, Chris Brookmyre, Denise Mina, Ann Cleeves, Louise Welsh, Lin Anderson, Gordon Brown, Doug Johnstone, Craig Robertson, E S Thomson, Sara Sheridan and Stuart MacBride put together a collection of short stories inspired by some of Scotland’s most dazzling and iconic historical sites?

A bloody brilliant book, that’s what!

Like an adrenaline fuelled road (and across water) trip through Scotland and the islands, the Bloody Scotland book is a heart-pumping exploration of geography, history and breathtaking crime fiction and suspense.

I loved the ancient mystery of the runes in Lin Anderson’s present day/1151 story ORKAHAUGR – evoking the mystical elements of Maeshowe on Orkney as a Professor sets out to experience the phenomenon of the setting sun entering a 5000 year old chambered cairn and discovers the secret within its walls. The heartbreaking ANCIENT AND MODERN by Val McDermid has the intriguing The Hermit’s Castle as the setting for both romance and revenge, and Doug Johnstone’s PAINTING THE FORTH BRIDGE provides a nail-bitingly tense thriller. One of my favourites has to be Chris Brookmyre’s THE LAST SEIGE OF BOTHWELL CASTLE – it’s full of twists and turns, and brilliant dialogue (especially the hilarious discussions about who’s the better character – William Wallace or Legolas – and whether Robin Hood is real!).

So how did the book come about?

Well, Historic Environment Scotland (HES) is the lead public body charged with caring for, protecting and promoting the historic environment. 2017 has been designated the Year of History, Heritage and Archaeology and The Bloody Scotland book is a part of that. James Crawford, Publisher HES and editor of the book says, ‘I found myself talking to the co-founder of the Bloody Scotland Crime Writing Festival, Lin Anderson, and its director Bob McDevitt, in the Authors’ Yurt at the Edinburgh International Book Festival in August 2016. ‘What if?’ I asked them. ‘What if we asked twelve of Scotland’s top crime writers to write short stories inspired by twelve of our most iconic buildings? What would they think? What would they come up with?’ This book is the answer… Bloody Scotland, then, is a tribute to two of our nation’s greatest assets – our crime writing and our built heritage’.

The Bloody Scotland Book is out today (21st September 2017). You can order it from Amazon HERE and from Waterstones HERE

The Bloody Scotland Crime Writing Festival in Stirling is a must-attend festival for all crime fiction lovers. Next year the festival will run from Friday 21st to Sunday 23rd September 2018. Hop over to the website HERE for more information.

And don’t forget to check out all the fantastic stops along THE BLOODY SCOTLAND BOOK blog tour…

BloodyScotland-blog-tour-small

 

CTG Reviews: The Freedom Broker by KJ Howe

image003

What the blurb says: “Thea Paris is one of the world’s one elite kidnapping negotiators and the only woman in her field. Undercover operations and high-risk extractions are a part of daily life for Thea. Her only objective: getting her hostages out alive, at any cost.

But Thea is about to face her toughest challenge yet to free a very special client: her father. An oil tycoon on the verge of a world-altering deal, Thea’s father is snatched off his yacht in Greece from right under Thea’s nose. With no ransom demands and only cryptic messages left in Latin, Thea knows it will take all her experience and resolve to bring her father home alive. But with traumatic memories of her brother’s kidnapping 20 years earlier still haunting her and trying to hide her diabetes from her colleagues, Thea Paris could have finally met her match.”

First up, I have to say this is one hell of a story. Plunging straight into the action right from the get-go, we meet Thea Paris – kidnap negotiator – in the jungles of Kwale, Nigeria, leading a mission by stealth to bring back a man held captive for ransom. She’s tough, determined, and focused on the job in hand. And from those very first pages I was hooked.

The Freedom Broker is about a lot more than pure action though (although there’s plenty of that too) it’s about family dynamics and difficult relationships, about how it feels to be a woman operating in a very male dominated profession, it’s about secrets and revenge and how our past informs our present.

And although Thea Paris might be the ultimate action woman – she knows her guns and her helicopters just as well as any man – she’s also feminine and romantic, she’s a loving daughter and caring sister, and she manages a disability that she keeps hidden from almost everyone around her. She’s a character you want to succeed, that you root for, trust in and, after all the action has gone down, the kind of person it’d be great fun to go out for a few drinks with.

The Freedom Broker is a thrilling read, it’ll have you high on adrenaline and heart-wrenched with anxiety, and you’ll love every single minute of it.

Buy it now!

I’m counting the days until the second in the series comes out – for me it can’t be quickly enough!

Find out more about KJ Howe on her website here

And buy THE FREEDOM BROKER on Amazon here

 

Check back in later in the week to read my interview with KJ Howe.

And be sure to check out all the other great tour stops…

The Freedom Broker blog tour graphic

CTG REVIEWS: SILENT RAIN by KARIN SALVALAGGIO

Unknown

What the blurb says: “Grace Adams has spent three years trying to move on – mentally, physically, emotionally – from the traumatizing events of her past. But it’s not easy when the world is morbidly curious about the crimes that shaped her childhood, when despite her changed name, people still track her down for the sensational details. Now in college in Bolton, Montana, the one person Grace has trusted with the truth about her past has betrayed her. The bestselling novelist Peter Granger wants to use Grace’s story in his next book, regardless of how desperate Grace is to keep the details to herself. And then, on Halloween night, Peter Granger’s house burns to the ground and his and his wife’s bodies are found inside.

Montana state detective Macy Greeley is sent to Bolton to handle the investigation into the fire and deaths… which soon appear to be arson and murder. It doesn’t take Macy long to realise Grace isn’t the only one whom Peter Granger has betrayed, and there are no shortage of others in town who took issue with him and his wife. What at first looked like a straightforward investigation is poised to expose some of Bolton’s darkest secrets, and the fallout may put more than one life in danger.”

SILENT RAIN is the fourth book in the Detective Macy Greeley series that started with Karin Salvalaggio’s acclaimed debut novel BONE DUST WHITE.

First off, I have to say that I loved this book. Karen Salvalaggio creates such wonderful textured characters that it’s impossible to resist being pulled into the story from the very first page. The sense of place surrounds you, transporting you to Bolton, Montana, on Halloween night and the aftermath that follows.

Grace Adams is a fascinating character, she’s a combination of tough and vulnerable – determined to get beyond the shadow of her past, yet haunted by the events that happened in her childhood and even in a new town with a new identity, unable to escape entirely. She’s making a new life for herself though – going to college, hanging out with new friends, and focusing on her art. But things aren’t easy, and a man – Peter Granger, a literary novelist – who she trusted with her story now wants to use the details in his latest book. When he ends up dead in a house fire, and Grace is unable to provide an alibi for the time the fire started, it looks like trouble might have found her again.

And that’s just the start of it.

Enter Detective Macy Greeley. She’s tough, smart and juggles her job alongside parenting her young son Luke. She also has a history with Grace Adams – she investigated the awful events that happened in Grace’s past. As Macy starts investigating the death of Peter Granger she uncovers increasingly disturbing things about him and how he has been using young women. It seems a lot of women in Bolton could have had motive to kill him. The question is, who did?

With themes of the search for self-identity, abuse, betrayal, guilt and infidelity, this is a fast paced, gripping story which will also grab you by the heart and make you ponder for a long while after the last page has been devoured.

SILENT RAIN is an fabulously engrossing mystery delivered with one hell of an emotional punch. Read it now!

 

You can buy SILENT RAIN from Amazon here

Find out more about Karin Salvalaggio at www.karinsalvalaggio.com and be sure to follow her on Twitter @KarinSalvala

CTG REVIEWS: TWO O’CLOCK BOY by MARK HILL

 

Today I’m delighted to be a part of Mark Hill’s blog tour for the debut that’s taking the UK by storm – Two O’Clock Boy.

What the blurb says:

“TWO CHILDHOOD FRIENDS… ONE BECAME A DETECTIVE… ONE BECAME A KILLER…

Thirty years ago, the Longacre Children’s Home stood on a London street where once-grand Victorian homes lay derelict. There its children lived in terror of Gordon Tallis, the home’s manager.

Then Connor Laird arrived: a frighteningly intense boy who quickly became Tallis’ favourite criminal helper. Soon after, destruction befell the Longacre, and the facts of that night have lain buried . . . until today.

Now, a mysterious figure, the Two O’Clock Boy, is killing all who grew up there, one by one. DI Ray Drake will do whatever it take to stop the murders – but he will go even further to cover up the truth.”

From the chilling prologue to the nail-bitingly intense final pages this London-set police procedural had me hooked.

Longacre Children’s Home burnt to the ground thirty years ago, but the horrors that occurred during the time it was open still haunt those that grew up there and the adults that had dealings with the place. Most of them just want to forget, but someone won’t leave the past behind – they are picking off the people who grew up at Longacre – and dragging back up all the secrets that have been burried for thirty years.

Enter newly promoted DS Flick Crowley and her mentor and boss DI Raymond Drake. Two dynamic detectives determined to get to the truth behind the murders – and also two people with connections to the Longacre themselves. As their professional and personal lives colide, and they try to piece together the evidence as the body count rises, can they work together to find the killer or will the memories and questions the investigation raises force them apart?

I loved this story with its strong procedural detail and gritty, authentic feel to the narrative. Flick and Ray are two great new police characters and, as the investigation puts increasing pressure on their relationship, I was fascinated to find out how things would play out.

The story twists and turns, ratcheting up the tension with every chapter as one-by-one the past residents of the Longacre are singled out by the mysterious Two O’Clock Boy. As more secrets get exposed, and Flick and Ray get ever closer to the killer, the pace accelerates to full throttle, propelling you into the edge-of-the-seat show down and shocking revelations at the climax.

The Two O’Clock Boy is a masterful debut and a real must-read for lovers of police procedurals and detective stories – I recommend you add it to your ‘to read’ stack immediately!!

 

You can find out more about Mark Hill by popping over to his website at www.markhillauthor.com and following him on Twitter @markhillwriter

The Two O’Clock Boy is out in paperback and eBook now – you can buy it here from Amazon and here from Waterstones

And don’t forget to check out all the stops on the Two O’Clock Boy One Hot Blog Tour…

 

Rearview man in coat walking along urban subway from above