Last Call at the Nightshade Lounge – Paul Krueger

last call at the nightshade lounge

Part Buffy the Vampire Slayer, part Harry Potter, with a dash of Scott Pilgrim vs. the World, Last Call at the Nightshade Lounge introduces the secret world of magical mixology, where a screwdriver bestows super-strength, a martini induces invisibility, and a perfectly conjured Long Island iced tea is rumoured to impart immortality on the drinker.

College graduate Bailey Chen is not living the dream. She’s had to move back in with her parents and take a job at the Nightshade Lounge while she hunts for her dream gig. Working under the supervision of high school best friend Zane, Bailey soon discovers that there’s more to working at a bar than she expected. Zane and his friends are members of a secret society of bartenders that use alcohol to fight bloodthirsty monsters that roam the streets of Chicago. In order to stop a recent string of attacks on the city and keep the Long Island iced tea recipe from falling into the wrong hands, Bailey must reconcile the differences between who she is and who she expects to be.

I’ve been very fortunate of late to end up on the mailing lists for various publishers and authors, and have (as regular readers will notice) partaken in several blog tours this year. I’ve got a stack of books which I’ve got carefully scheduled in over the next few months, so when I got an email from Quirk Books asking if I’d like to read Paul’s book, I added it to the pile.

Then I took a sneak peek. After all, it was hard to resist the premise of magical mixologists coming up with cocktails to fight against the supernatural. A mix of Buffy, Harry Potter and Scott Pilgrim? Colour me intrigued.

That sneak peek turned into a couple of hours. Paul has come up with a book that cracks and fizzles along like a sparkler in a slightly too colourful drink. I loved the characters and the diversity amongst them. Bailey Chen had just the right amount of smart-assed sass. Bucket was… well, Bucket. (I adored Bucket in particular). The bad guys were suitably evil and bad, the cocktail recipes were a lovely touch, along with the magical meaning behind them.

Last Call at the Nightshade Lounge is a huge amount of fun. A sharp, snappy urban fantasy with a lovely twist. Recommended.

Paul Krueger is a fantasy writer and cocktail connoisseur who lives in Los Angeles.
Last Call at the Nightshade Lounge is his debut novel. Follow Paul on Twitter @notlikeFreddy.

thanks to Paul and Quirk Books for the copy in exchange for a review. Opinions are, of course, my own.

In Her Wake, by Amanda Jennings

In Her Wake HBcover copy 4

A perfect life … until she discovered it wasn’t her own
A tragic family event reveals devastating news that rips apart Bella’s comfortable existence. Embarking on a personal journey to uncover the truth, she faces a series of traumatic discoveries that take her to the ruggedly beautiful Cornish coast, where hidden truths, past betrayals and a 25-year-old mystery threaten not just her identity, but also her life. Chilling, complex and profoundly moving, In Her Wake is a gripping psychological thriller that questions the nature of family –and reminds us that sometimes the most shocking crimes are committed closest to home

What if someone told you that you’re not who you think you are? Who you’ve been brought up and lived your whole life as?

That’s the central premise behind Amanda Jennings’ In Her Wake.

The story starts, in a way, with a ending. Bella Campbell is an only child, brought up by her doting mother Elaine and her father Henry in an old vicarage in Oxfordshire, barely seeing the outside world except for their annual holiday to the Cotswolds.

Bella’s mother has passed away, and Bella returns home for the funeral. Her father has a secret, but can’t seem to find the words to admit to it. Then, tragedy follows tragedy and soon Bella is left questioning her entire life…

So. At the most basic level, this is a story of family dynamics, secrets and relationships. The fears that face parents when something endangers the safely and wellbeing of their children. The catastrophic sense of loss and sadness when someone is taken from us.

But it’s so much more than that. In Her Wake is a complex, layered tale of identity and control – husbands controlling wives, wives controlling husbands, and how it feels to break those shackles, to become your own person and not who everyone else is insisting that you are.

At the beginning you wonder what Bella sees in her controlling, older husband David. He’s genuinely awful to her (I got very cross with him from very early on in the book), but it seems that she just can’t see it. He clearly feels he’s doing the Right Thing, and has an absolute, unshakeable conviction that he knows best. Similarly with Elaine and Henry, Bella’s parents. Each feels they do what they have to do, with us the audience on the outside wondering why they can’t see what we can. It can be all too easy to write people off as bad, but things are never black or white.

Amanda Jennings has a phenomenal gift for story, layering real depth onto each and every character in the book. She also has a wonderful ability to bring you into a place – I’ve been to Cornwall many times over the years and could almost feel myself back there with Bella, with the sand between my toes on the beach and the waves crashing nearby.

It’s hard not to say too much and spoil the story. You really need to go on the journey with Bella to find out who she is, who she was, and who she ultimately wants to be.

It’s quite a trip. I promise you won’t be disappointed.

In Her Wake is published by Orenda Books and is available now in paperback.

GIVEAWAY!

And what’s more, I have a copy to give away! Tell me about your favourite beach, either in the comments below or on twitter. Use the hashtag #InHerWake and don’t forget to tag me (@dakegra). I’ll pick a winner this Friday (8th April 2016). Good luck!

Many thanks to Karen (@OrendaBooks) for the review copy, and to Amanda Jennings (@MandaJJennings) for writing it! As ever, the opinions are entirely my own. The blog tour continues tomorrow with Wendy at Little Bookness Lane with @BooknessLane.

In Her Wake Blog tour

Wicked Game, by Matt Johnson

Wicked Game | Matt Johnson

2001. Age is catching up with Robert Finlay, a police officer on the Royalty Protection team based in London. He s looking forward to returning to uniform policing and a less stressful life with his new family. But fate has other plans. Finlay’s deeply traumatic, carefully concealed past is about to return to haunt him. A policeman is killed by a bomb blast, and a second is gunned down in his own driveway. Both of the murdered men were former Army colleagues from Finlay’s own SAS regiment, and in a series of explosive events, it becomes clear that he is not the ordinary man that his colleagues, friends and new family think he is. And so begins a game of cat and mouse a wicked game in which Finlay is the target, forced to test his long-buried skills in a fight against a determined and unidentified enemy.

Wicked Game is a taut, action packed, emotive thriller about a man who might be your neighbour, a man who is forced to confront his past in order to face a threat that may wipe out his future, a man who is willing to do anything to protect the people he loves. But is it too late?

Despite my recent flurry of reviews of more traditional crime books, I must confess that I have a bit of a soft spot for a good, fast-paced action thriller. Matt Johnson’s Wicked Game delivers on all counts.

Former SAS officer Robert Finlay has moved back into the Met after a stint in the Royalty Protection service. But people he knows are being killed, and he might very well be next on the list…
Some background might be useful here (cribbed from the press release).

Matt Johnson served as a soldier and Metropolitan Police officer for 25 years. He was at the London Baltic Exchange bombing in 1992, and one of the first police officers on the scene of the 1982 Regent’s Park bombing. Matt was also at the Libyan People’s Bureau shooting in 1984 where he escorted his mortally wounded friend and colleague, Yvonne Fletcher, to hospital. While undergoing treatment for PTSD, he was encouraged by his counsellor to write about his career and his experience of murders, shootings and terrorism.

It’s this first-hand experience of these terrible events (more of which you can read about in Matt’s guest post on crime thriller girl’s blog) which really gives Wicked Game an unshakeable feeling of authenticity which is woven deep into the fabric of the story. The prose is taut and to the point, especially when we’re dealing with Finlay and his investigation into the killings and entirely in fitting with the character. The dealings that Finlay has with the various departments looking into the killings feels authentic, and there’s a race against time to see who will get to the bad guys first.

What I particularly liked, and what puts the story into a different class for me is that Finlay is no longer the youthful SAS officer he once was and his expertise in planning, which in another thriller would have him disposing of his opponent easily, here is more believably slightly rusty. Things go wrong, and he’s forced to adapt on the hoof, quite literally in some cases!

I also liked the way Matt Johnson manages to get you into the mindset of the terrorists. No cardboard cut-out baddies here – these are fully realised and well thought-out with solid, clear, if disturbing, rationales for what they’re doing.

I really enjoyed Wicked Game. It’s a fresh, fast-paced and authentic thriller and I’m delighted to hear that Matt is working on a second book.

You can read an extract from Wicked Game over at Raven Crime Reads.

Wicked Game is published by Orenda Books and is available now.

Many thanks to Karen (@OrendaBooks) for the review copy, and to Matt Johnson (@Matt_Johnson_UK) for writing it! As ever, the opinions are entirely my own. The blog tour continues tomorrow at Northern Crime Reviews with @northernlass73.

Wicked Games Blog tour

Jihadi: A Love Story, by Yusuf Toropov

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A former intelligence agent stands accused of terrorism, held without charge in a secret overseas prison. His memoir is in the hands of a brilliant but erratic psychologist whose annotations paint a much darker picture.
As the story unravels, we are forced to assess the truth for ourselves, and decide not only what really happened on one fateful overseas assignment, but who is the real terrorist. Peopled by a diverse and unforgettable cast of characters, whose reliability as narrators is always questioned, and with a multi-layered plot heaving with unexpected and often shocking developments, Jihadi: A Love Story is an intelligent thriller that asks big questions.
Complex, intriguing and intricately woven, this is an astonishing debut that explores the nature of good and evil alongside notions of nationalism, terrorism and fidelity, and, above all, the fragility of the human mind.

Jihadi is utterly unlike anything I’ve ever read. I’m about halfway through, and as I’ve been reading, I’ve had one eye on the date I’d agreed to for the blog tour, watching it tick every closer. But this is a book that demands concentration. Rewards it, even. So I think it’s only fair to preface this review by saying that I’m only about halfway through.

I’ve read a fair few books recently. And I’ve been fortunate in that they’ve been almost universally good. They’ve also, in the main, been books that you can pick up for a few minutes, read a chapter and then go do something else. Jihadi is not one of those books. It’s a deeply complex story – as others have said, it’s a book which takes you a little while to get into, but once you’ve allowed it to get under your skin, you’ll find yourself hooked.

Jihadi takes the form of a memoir. An annotated memoir of an intelligence agent being held in what he calls ‘the beige motel’, a secret overseas prison where he’s being held without charge and tortured. As the story unfolds, you begin to wonder exactly what has happened and who these people actually are. We’ve got not one, but two unreliable narrators in play here. It’s darkly funny in places, deeply shocking in others, thought-provoking and beautifully constructed. Yusuf’s writing challenges our perceptions of good and evil and makes you think long after you’ve closed the pages.  Who is right, who is wrong, who is the real terrorist?

And you may want to cue up The Beatles’ White Album as you read.

Here’s an extract from chapter 2. Warning, it’s pretty graphic in places.

In Which Liddell Engages in Fashionable Howling
During the first hour of September 9, 2005, he showered, dressed, ate his breakfast in the middle of the night, gathered his things, stared out the window to make sure his limousine was there, and, after a suitable delay, climbed into the back. He enjoyed making the limousine wait, then making it hurry. He told the driver he preferred to do at least eighty on these predawn jaunts to Logan.

When his plane touched down in the Islamic Republic, nineteen hours later, Wafa A––, a twenty-one-year-old pregnant mother-tobe, had not yet begun her breakfast. Wafa happened to live in a disputed region of the Islamic Republic. She did not have an appetite. She was thinking about her sister Fatima. Wafa reminded herself that she must call Fatima and congratulate her for being hired as a translator for the Bureau of Islamic Investigation.

Wafa sat on a plastic lawn chair in an overgrown green area, at a bone-white plastic table she shared with her husband and motherin-law, drinking tea with them in the sun, thinking this thought of reaching out to her sister Fatima, of warning her again about the dangers of working with men, when hundreds of tiny metal darts, their points tight and sharp as needles, tore into her flesh and the flesh of her unborn baby.

According to Wafa’s husband, the tea drinkers heard a strange collapsing sound. Almost an inhalation.
PLOOF.
you can download the rest of Jihadi chapter 2 here >>

 

toropov 120215 copy
Yusuf Toropov is an American Muslim writer. He’s the author or co-author of a number of non-fiction books.
Jihadi: A Love Story, which reached the quarter-finals of the Amazon Breakthrough Novel Award, is his first novel. He lives in Ireland, and seeks to create ‘the possibility of harmonious acceptance in the Middle East, USA and Europe via literature and a global conversation about coexistence’.

 

Many thanks to Karen (@OrendaBooks) for the review copy, and to Yusuf Toropov (@LiteraryStriver) for writing such a thought-provoking piece. As ever, the opinions are entirely my own. The blog tour continues tomorrow at Raven Crime Reads.

JIHADI Blog tour Banner

Thin Ice, by Quentin Bates

Thin Ice

Today I’m delighted to welcome Quentin Bates (@graskeggur to the blog. Quentin was best known to me as the translator for Ragnar Jonasson’s excellent Dark Iceland books, Snowblind and Nightblind. I had no idea that he was (and indeed is) an accomplished author himself, though am not surprised. Whilst Thin Ice is part of an ongoing series, it can easily be read as a standalone book in its own right.

Snowed in with a couple of psychopaths for the winter…
When two small-time crooks rob Reykjavik’s premier drugs dealer, hoping for a quick escape to the sun, their plans start to unravel after their getaway driver fails to show. Tensions mount between the pair and the two women they have grabbed as hostages when they find themselves holed upcountry in an isolated hotel that has been mothballed for the season.
Back in the capital, Gunnhildur, Eiríkur and Helgi find themselves at a dead end investigating what appear to be the unrelated disappearance of a mother, her daughter and their car during a day’s shopping, and the death of a thief in a house fire.
Gunna and her team are faced with a set of riddles but as more people are quizzed it begins to emerge that all these unrelated incidents are in fact linked. And at the same time, two increasingly desperate lowlifes have no choice but to make some big decisions on how to get rid of their accidental hostages…

Thin Ice has a splendidly chilly premise – two crooks pull off a robbery only to find that their getaway plans are scuppered. They hijack a car and take a mother and daughter hostage, ending up in a hotel that’s been closed for the winter, deep in the Icelandic countryside. Then the snow starts falling…

Tensions rise between captors and captives and Officer Gunna and her team try to track down the missing women whilst the wonderfully-named Alli the Cornershop and his underworld cronies hunt for the crooks who stole their money.

Here’s a short excerpt from the start of the story. I loved the characters of Magni and Össur, both unique in their own special ways.

The hard guy in the leather jacket was big, with bulky shoulders and knotted forearms, and his jaw jutted forward as if asking to be punched.
So Magni obliged, swatting the tough guy aside with an effortless backhander. He never could resist an invitation; the big man stum- bled back, emitting a high-pitched keening sound as he hit the wall, his dinnerplate hands held to his face as blood seeped through his fingers.
Magni felt no animosity towards the meathead who had been stu- pid enough to be in the wrong place at the right time. Or was that the wrong time, he wondered? Whatever, the guy was spitting teeth into his cupped hands and whimpering, so he only needed a casual eye to be kept on him. Nothing to worry about, Magni decided with satisfaction. At any rate, the ugly black pistol in Össur’s nervous hand was far more persuasive than mere muscles. The old man’s face went pale, paler than it normally was, and Alli the Cornershop didn’t look like a man who spent much time in the sun. He looked sick as he handed over a carrier bag that Össur glanced into before tucking it under one arm.
‘You must know you don’t have a chance in hell of getting away with this,’ Alli snarled. ‘I’ll have the pair of you bastards brought back here trussed up in barbed wire.’
‘Good luck, grandpa.’

Thin Ice is great – the secluded, wintry hideout of Magni and Össur starts to become more claustrophobic as the story progresses. Tensions flare and burn slowly, expectations growing for something to kick off. And Össur has a gun…

Perfect for fans of Icelandic Noir and Ragnar Jonasson. I’m going to have to go back and catch up on the back story of officer Gunna!

Many thanks to Linda at Constable for the review copy. Thin Ice is out now.

As ever, the opinions are entirely my own. The blog tour continues tomorrow with Victoria from Off The Shelf Books

Blog Tour

The Rise & Fall of The Miraculous Vespas, by David F. Ross

The Rise and Fall of the Miraculous Vespas - David F. Ross

Rock ‘n’ Roll doesn’t necessarily mean a band. It doesn’t mean a singer, and it doesn’t mean a lyric, really. It’s that question of trying to be immortal’ Malcolm McLaren

The Rise and Fall of the Miraculous Vespas is the timeless story of the quest for such pop immortality. When a young Ayrshire band miraculously hits the big time with the smash hit record of 1984, international stardom beckons. That’s despite having a delusional teenage manager propelled by a dark, malign voice in his head … Can Max Mojo’s band of talented social misfits repeat the success and pay back the mounting debts accrued from an increasingly agitated cartel of local gangsters? Or will they have to kidnap Boy George and hope for the best?

Featuring much-loved characters from the international bestseller, The Last Days of Disco, this is an absurdly funny, riotously ambitious and deeply human story of small-town rivalries, music, confused adolescence and, above all, hope, from one of Scotland’s finest new voices.

Hard to believe that it’s been nearly a year since David Ross’ debut novel (and my first even blog tour!) with The Last Days of Disco.  As I said then, David captured the mood and spirit of the time impeccably, with a wonderful cast of characters and a fabulous soundtrack.

And with The Miraculous Vespas, that ‘difficult second album’, he’s done it again. Bigger, bolder, oozing with confidence, even more Scottish and sweary and with even darker vein of humour running throughout.

We’re back in the eighties, of course. Music plays a pivotal role, of course – just see David’s guest post over at grabthisbook.net!

We get to meet a few old friends, but they’re very much at the peripheral – this is very much Max Mojo’s story and that of his bandmates. Max is a force of nature and sometimes hard to like, but impossible to look away from, propelling his fledgling band from small gigs to the big time. Miraculous Vespas, as with Disco, is populated by a wonderful cast of characters. The brewing romance between lead singer Grant Delgado and tempestuous drummer Maggie is beautifully played – David has a lovely touch with his characters and they have more depth and… realness than you see in a lot of other books.

The Miraculous Vespas simply oozes nostalgia, and delights in its eighties vibe and its Ayrshire setting. Possibly the only book to come with its own 7″ single too! And there’s a brilliant, hilarious cameo by a certain pop star from the period who is somewhat of a.. chameleon.

In my review of The Last Days of Disco I said that David Ross had set the bar pretty high, and that I couldn’t wait to see what he came up with next. I’m delighted to say that he’s cleared the bar with some room to spare, and I’m even more intrigued to see what book 3 will entail!

The Rise and Fall of the Miraculous Vespas is out now, published by Orenda Books.

Many thanks to Karen  (@OrendaBooks) for the review copy, and of course to David F. Ross (@dfr) for writing it. As ever, the opinions are entirely my own. The blog tour continues tomorrow!

David Ross

Jonathan Dark, or The Evidence of Ghosts – a guest post by A. K. Benedict

Today I’d like to welcome A.K. Benedict to my blog. She’s the author of Jonathan Dark, or The Evidence of Ghosts. A brief blurb before we get going, to whet your appetite.

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Jonathan Dark sees the shadowy side of the city. A DI with the Metropolitan Police, he is haunted by his failure to save a woman from the hands of a stalker. Now it seems the killer has set his sights on Maria, and is leaving her messages in the most gruesome of ways.

Tracing the source of these messages leads Maria and Jonathan to a London they never knew. Finding the truth will mean seeing a side to the city where life and death is a game played by the powerful, where everyone is lost but nothing is missing, and where all the answers are hiding, if only they listen to the whispers on the streets.

Shot through with love and loss, ghosts and grief, A K Benedict weaves a compelling mystery that will leave you looking over your shoulder and asking what lurks in the dark.

One of the many fantastic characters in the book is Marjorie, a cabbie who looks after the dead as well as the living. I asked the author if she would mind passing on a few questions to Marjorie, and she very kindly obliged.

Without further ado, over to Marjorie…

1. Hi Marjorie. Who would you most like to pick up in your cab?
Ooh now that’s a lovely question, and an even better thought. If you’re talking famous people, I wouldn’t mind Cary Grant. I’d have a good time with his ghost, I can tell you. I reckon I’d have a great night with Mae West. I’d get Diana Dors along – she’s a laugh.

2. Do ghosts get grumpy if you take a turn that leads to a dead end?
Ghosts and the living are very much alike – they can all be grumpy bastards at times. It’s harder, mind, to sling a spectre out of the cab if they turn nasty. The only dead ends my cab encounters these days, mind, are those sat on its seats. Last time I took a wrong turn was in 1968 and Jim, another cabbie, spotted me. I didn’t live it down for years. Jim still brings it up on my deathday.

3. Where are the pickup ‘hotspots’? Round the Tower? Whitechapel? Posh types in Kensington – what about around the docks?
Those are all good, but not because people died there. People die everywhere – those areas are great for ghost tourists. You don’t stop wanting to see the sights just because you’re dead.
Cemeteries are real hotspots. It’s popular to go and watch relatives mourning at your graveside. A lot of truth comes out at gravesides. A lot of nonsense, too, but you’re more likely to get that apology you’re after. Train stations are also popular. Free travel is very attractive when you’ve had to pay for it all your life. They tend to go late morning or afternoons to get a seat. If you’re in a carriage with a lot of empty seats – then you’re probably not alone.

4. How long have you been taxiing ghosts around the city?
Let me see now. I got my license in 1960 and started picking up ghosts almost from the start. I’ve been Sighted all my life so it seemed impolite to drive by when they flagged me down. So that’s fifty-six years or so. Blimey. At some point during that time I died and became a ghost myself. I saw no reason to stop driving a cab. I’ve never been the retiring kind.

5. Do all the ghosts realise that they *are* actually ghosts?
Not all of them. People need careful handling when they first enter ghosthood. It can be very stressful, being thrown out of life into death. Some don’t understand for ages, a few don’t at all. Even when they accept what they are, some insist they are in a version of
heaven, or hell, or limbo. They’re not. This is it – only this time you don’t get a body. Not your one, anyway.

6. What’s the strangest fare you’ve ever had?
The ghost of a gorilla walked out of London Zoo and hammered at my window. I let her in, she sat in the back and I took her on a round trip of the sights. She seemed to like Buckingham Palace – she thumped on the seat. Could’ve been a republican protest, I suppose. I dropped her back off at feeding time and she put a hand up to the glass before walking back into the zoo. Everybody needs a day out sometimes.

7. Are ghosts good tippers? How do ghosts actually pay, anyway?
Some ghosts are great tippers, others not. Some haven’t had a chance to build up reserves of obols yet – obols are ghost currency, in Europe anyway. Have been since ancient Greek days. It’s not quite the international money markets, though.
The coins are solid in living hands, insubstantial for ghosts so that they can handle them easily. Some materials are like that, such as thinsilk. Ghosts carry their obols in thinsilk bags or purses.

8. Has anyone ever tried to get in the cab if they could not see there was already a ghost riding inside?
The orange sign keeps most of them away – they see that it’s not on and assume I’m off duty or on my way to somewhere in particular. It happens occasionally, though, especially when I stop in the traffic. I usually remember to lock the door but sometimes I forget. One afternoon, a city boy barged in while I was taking a grieving ghost to a funeral. Lovely lady, she was, gentle. I was about to have a word when the lady turned to him and screamed in his face. He left pretty quickly after that.

 

Thanks Marjorie! Jonathan Dark or The Evidence Of Ghosts by A. K. Benedict is available from 25th February, published by Orion.

Enormous thanks must go to A. K. Benedict for being such a good sport and playing along! Thanks also to Netgalley for the review copy – watch out for a review soon!

Missing, Presumed, by Susie Steiner

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A student has been missing for 72 hours. Her parents are bearing up.

Detective Sergeant Manon is bearing down.

Edith Hind, the beautiful, earnest Cambridge post-grad living on the outskirts of the city has left nothing behind but a streak of blood and her coat hanging up for her boyfriend, Will, to find. The news spreads fast: to her parents, prestigious doctor Sir Ian and Lady Hind, and straight on to the police.

Detective Sergeant Manon Bradshaw soothes her insomnia with the din of the police radio she keeps by her bed. After another bad date, it takes the crackling voices to lull her to sleep. But one night she hears something. A girl is missing. For Manon the hunt for Edith Hind might be the career-defining case she has been waiting for. For the family this is the beginning of their nightmare.

As Manon sinks her teeth into the investigation and lines up those closest to Edith, she starts to smooth out the kinks in their stories and catch the eyes that won’t meet hers. But when disturbing facts come to light, the stakes jolt up and Manon has to manage the wave of terror that erupts from the family.

Missing, Presumed is somewhat different from a lot of crime novels I’ve read recently.  Yes, there’s a missing persons case, and Edith Hinds comes from a well-connected family, making her a high-profile ‘misper’. But this is more character driven than most.

We follow the investigation in the hours and days following Edith’s disappearance, but the focus is always on the characters’ lives and how they’re affected by the case. We follow the lives (and loves) of DS Manon Bradshaw as she follows up the clues, sparse as they are. Edith’s mother, Lady Miriam Hind and her relationship with Sir Ian. Edith’s best friend, Helena and the tabloids’ reaction to her friend’s disappearance.

There’s quite the supporting cast too – everyone is there for a reason, and they’re all well fleshed out, adding a depth to the story that you sometimes find lacking.

DS Manon is a fantastic character, and by far my favourite in the book. She feels like a real, complex person, likeable and warm, but prone to mistakes and missteps along the way. I really hope that we get to see more of her in future books.

If I had any quibbles with the characters, it would have to be Will, the boyfriend. He feels the least developed of them all and his story feels slight in comparison, though there are so many other great characters in the book that this could be easily forgiven.

The case itself feels realistic, from the initial flurry of activity in the hours following the discovery of Edith’s front door open, blood on the floor, to the gradual slowing down of the case as leads dry up, and the frustations of everyone involved. There’s also a nice bit of commentary on the struggles facing a police department beset by cuts in funding, but pressured by people with connections in high places to get the job done.

Missing, Presumed is not your average crime story, and I’d highly recommend it.

 

Missing, Presumed is published on 25th February by Borough Press. Thanks to Hayley at HarperCollins for the review copy. As always, the opinions in the review are entirely mine. The blog tour continues tomorrow at Boonsbookcase.blogspot.com. Enjoy!

MissingPresumedBlogTour (2)

Zero-G – Rob Boffard

Zero-G

The clock is ticking down again for Riley Hale.

She may be the newest member of Outer Earth’s law enforcement team, but she feels less in control than ever. A twisted doctor bent on revenge is blackmailing her with a deadly threat. If Riley’s to survive, she must follow his orders, and break a dangerous prisoner out of jail. To save her own skin, Riley must go against all her beliefs, and break every law that she’s just sworn to protect. Riley’s mission will get even tougher when all sectors are thrown into lock-down. A lethal virus has begun to spread through Outer Earth, and it seems little can stop it. If Riley doesn’t live long enough to help to find a cure, then the last members of the human race will perish along with her.

The future of humanity hangs in the balance. And time is running out.

Regular readers may recall that I was enormously impressed with Tracer, Rob’s first book. Indeed, it made it into my books of the year list for 2015. It was a *huge* amount of fun and when I met with Rob on his signing tour in Leeds (shameless namedrop), he assured me that the follow-up would be turned all the way up to 11…

Zero-G is *exactly* that.

Riley Hale is back. She’s joined the Stompers, part of Outer Earth law enforcement. The action kicks off on page one and never lets up until the final page. You thought Darnell was twisted in Tracer?

You ain’t seen nothing yet.

Riley is forced to do impossible things, to an impossible deadline, breaking all her rules, going against all she believes in if anyone is going to survive. The chapters are super-short and punchy, told from various viewpoints and demanding that you read just one more. Rob manages to pull off more cliffhangers than you’d think possible in a single book, but does so with style, and you just *know* he’s got an evil glint in his eye whilst writing it.

Hard to say much more without spoiling it for you. Go read it.

The ending will leave you wanting book #3, which is out later this year – question is, can Rob turn it up *past* 11?

On the form shown here, I wouldn’t bet against it…

Nightblind, by Ragnar Jonasson

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The perfect way to enjoy Icelandic Noir – with a large mug of jolly hot coffee!

Siglufjörður: an idyllically quiet fishing village on the northernmost tip of Iceland, accessible only via a small mountain tunnel. Ari Thór Arason: a local policeman, whose tumultuous past and uneasy relationships with the villagers continue to haunt him.

The peace of this close-knit community is shattered by the murder of a policeman – shot at point-blank range in the dead of night in a deserted house. With a killer on the loose and the dark arctic winter closing in, it falls to Ari Thór to piece together a puzzle that involves tangled local politics, a compromised new mayor, and a psychiatric ward in Reykjavik, where someone is being held against their will. Then a mysterious young woman moves to the area, on the run from something she dare not reveal, and it becomes all too clear that tragic events from the past are weaving a sinister spell that may threaten them all.

Dark, chilling and complex, Nightblind is an extraordinary thriller from an undeniable new talent.

My turn on the blog tour for Ragnar Jonasson’s Nightblind, the follow-up to the first in his Dark Iceland series, Snowblind.

We rejoin Ari Thór in Siglufjörður a few years after the events of Snowblind. His new boss is shot by an unknown gunman outside an old abandoned house on the outskirts and it falls to him to investigate, with the help of an old colleague. What’s worse for him is that he was the one who should have been on duty that night…

I loved Snowblind, it was dark and atmospheric and wonderfully vivid in depicting life in a small coastal town in northern Iceland. You got a real sense of the place and the people who inhabited it. Nightblind is deeper, more tightly plotted and with a host of great characters. As with any good mystery, you never quite know who to trust and, more importantly, who not to, and this shifts and moves as the story progresses. You can almost feel the chill seeping out of the pages. It’s a classic page-turner, demanding just one more.

The glimpses into the diary of the patient on the psych ward in Reykjavik are teased out over the course of the book, shedding new light on the characters. The mystery slowly wends its way to a satisfying conclusion, artfully leading you down darker and darker paths into the heart of the town and the stories and secrets of the people who inhabit it.

Nightblind and Snowblind are, to put it mildly, a cracking couple of books. Iceland was already on my fantasy travel list, but I know that if/when I ever make it there, I’m going to have to pay a visit to Siglufjörður.

I just need to work out how to pronounce it. Any help, Ragnar?

Ragnar can be found on twitter @ragnarjo, and the blog tour continues tomorrow and all this month.  Nightblind is out now in ebook and on 22nd January 2016 in paperback.

Huge credit must also go to Ragnar’s translator, Quentin Bates (@graskeggur). Without him, we’d be missing out on a fantastic author. He’s currently working on a translation of Ragnar’s third book in the Dark Iceland series, Blackout. Can’t wait for that one!

Many thanks to Karen at Orenda Books (@OrendaBooks) for the review copy. As ever, the opinions are entirely my own.

Nightblind Blog tourNightblind | Ragnar Jonasson_32B9843or