#Blogtour White Out – Ragnar Jonasson

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Two days before Christmas, a young woman is found dead beneath the cliffs of the deserted village of Kálfshamarvík. Did she jump, or did something more sinister take place beneath the lighthouse and the abandoned old house on the remote rocky outcrop? With winter closing in and the snow falling relentlessly, Ari Thór Arason discovers that the victim’s mother and young sister also lost their lives in this same spot, twenty-five years earlier. As the dark history and secrets of the village are unveiled, and the death toll begins to rise, the Siglufjordur detectives must race against the clock to find the killer, before another tragedy takes place.

Dark, chilling and complex, Whiteout is a haunting, atmospheric and stunningly plotted thriller from one of Iceland’s bestselling crime writers

This is by far my favourite of Ragnar’s Dark Iceland series to date. If you thought Siglufjordur was isolated and claustrophobic you haven’t read everything yet.  In the previously populated small village of Kálfshamarvík, that is now just a tiny hamlet of two houses, on the eve of Christmas Eve, Ari, with his heavily pregnant partner Kristin, and his old boss Tomas (now a Reykjavik murder team officer) are trying to discover the mystery of Asta’s demise, over the cliffs of her childhood home, where both her mother and 7yr old sister met their deaths.

With such a small cast of characters, this is an intense read.  You know it has to be someone, but Jonasson expertly manages to keep you guessing all  the way to the end.  I’m usually someone who can pin a guilty party out by halfway through a book, but with Whiteout I just couldn’t.  I had ideas, but never saw the ending.  The rarity of catching me out is fabulous, and just ensures this book is doubly amazing.

 

 

Siglufjordur © Sigurður Ægisson

If you’ve never been to Iceland but enjoy a fully immersive experience in a novel, then I recommend you google some images of Sigulfjordur and Kálfshamarvík before you start. There is no better way of getting a quick grasp of the dark, yet beautiful isolation of these places, and as we all know imagery will only enhance your reading.

Enjoy…

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He Said / She Said – Erin Kelly

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Don’t be left in the dark.

In the hushed aftermath of a total eclipse, Laura witnesses a brutal attack. She and her boyfriend Kit call the police, and in that moment, four lives change forever.

Fifteen years on, Laura and Kit live in fear.

And while Laura knows she was right to speak out, she also knows that you can never see the whole picture: something is always hidden . . . something she never could have guessed.

 

I must have a thing about eclipse stories at the moment, because this comes hot on the heels of Frances Brody’s eclipse set Death in the Stars.  Two novels, which could not however, be any more different.  After the cosiness of the 1920’s, I have been catapulted into the late nineties with a story the begins in Cornwall during the 1999 total eclipse, and continues on right until 2015 spanning the lives of Kit, Laura and Beth, along with the lives of the people surrounding them, affected over the years by their actions.

During the total eclipse of 1999  Laura witnesses an event that will follow her around from that moment on, one she struggles to come to terms with the aftermath of, the impact on the lives of all of those involved, and the ultimate unravelling of history.  As truths about those who share the ordeal become known, Laura struggles to come to terms with everything, hiding from the past seems her only option, striving to live a full life in the shadows, just as the sun hides behind the moon during an eclipse.

Switching back and forth between her current life and the unfolding memories of the past 15 years, He Said/She Said is told with all of the amazing ability I have come to expect from Kelly, ensuring that you are compelled to keep reading because you can’t wait to see how the tales intertwine, and slowly unwind all whilst combined with a reminder of how there are often many sides to every story…

A Justifiable Madness – A B Morgan

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Can you really tell the difference between madness and sanity?

Mark Randall goes to great lengths to get himself admitted to an acute psychiatric ward and, despite being mute, convinces professionals that he is psychotic. But who is he and why is he so keen to spend time in a psychiatric hospital?

When Mark is admitted, silent and naked, the staff are suspicious about his motives.

Dealing with this, as well as the patients on the ward, Mark’s troubles really begin once he is Sectioned under the Mental Health Act. When decisions about his future are handed to Consultant Psychiatrist, Dr Giles Sharman, Mark’s life is about to go from bad to worse.

Drugged, abused and in danger, Mark looks for a way out of this nightmare. But he’s about to learn, proving that you are sane might not be easy as it seems…

Flippin’ eck! What a rush! Another one of those books that is both good and not so good for insomniacs…. Picked it up to read one night when I couldn’t sleep, and then couldn’t go back to sleep because I just could not put it down.

What is really creepy about this book is that whilst it is something that should never happen in modern society, it is equally something the could happen. Cleverly written with all sides misreading the words and actions of others, simply due to their differing points of view of the same subjects, and the belief that the intentions of others are honourable.

A Justifiable Madness contains moments of subtle humour, that shine a light on a dark and troubling situation, a story that has some roots in truth, and shows how easily power can be abused, and people can come to believe that what they’re being told is the truth, even when it’s not.

 

Follow Me – Angela Clarke

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imageLIKE. SHARE. FOLLOW . . . DIE

The ‘Hashtag Murderer’ posts chilling cryptic clues online, pointing to their next target. Taunting the police. Enthralling the press. Capturing the public’s imagination.

But this is no virtual threat.

As the number of his followers rises, so does the body count.

Eight years ago two young girls did something unforgivable. Now ambitious police officer Nasreen and investigative journalist Freddie are thrown together again in a desperate struggle to catch this cunning, fame-crazed killer. But can they stay one step ahead of him? And can they escape their own past?

Time’s running out. Everyone is following the #Murderer. But what if he is following you?

ONLINE, NO ONE CAN HEAR YOU SCREAM …

Absolutely bloody loved it.

Still living the student life, years after finishing university, Freddie Venton scrapes by in the world by sleeping on the sofa in the lounge of her shared accommodation and working at Espress-oh coffee. She dreams of being a full time journalist, but is resigned to writing free web copy on student life for ‘The Family Paper’.

After a run in with her annoyingly chipper, all round company man and Espress-oh manger Dan, Freddie has a chance encounter with ex-school friend, Nasreen Cudmore, and as her journalistic insights kick in, she ends up finding herself dressed as a forensics expert and stranded in the middle of a brutal murder scene.

I have to say picked up Follow Me on a bit of a whim, due to its bargain 99p Amazon price tag, and I’m glad I did, I absolutely bloody loved it.

I really enjoyed the realistic way the twitter followers of the #Murderer are depicted, at first joining in with the ‘game’ and then turning when they realise the horror of what is actually happening, the whole playing out of the crimes on social media was brilliantly done, meaning even those readers who don’t ‘get’ / use the various platforms will be able to follow the whole tale.

One of my favourite parts was the way that each of the chapters was entitled with a popular piece of text speak and its explanation, and perfectly summed up the action to follow.  Put together with the way Freddie talks to herself in headline asides, Follow Me is a gripping read that successfully deals with terrible events, without going over the top and becoming too dark for many readers.

Freddie Venton is a great character, feisty, go getting, determined to succeed, and yet staying grounded by the very real devastation being caused all around her.  Her ex-schoolfriend Nasreen is far more straight-laced, and down the line desperately trying to succeed.  I didn’t really warm to her character initially, but as the back story of what happened between them eight years before unfolds I began to change my mind.  I’m certainly hoping we get to hear more from Freddie in the future.

Evil Games – Angela Marsons

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imageThe greater the Evil, the more deadly the game…

When a rapist is found mutilated in a brutal attack, Detective Kim Stone and her team are called in to bring a swift resolution. But, as more vengeful killings come to light, it soon becomes clear that there is someone far more sinister at work.

With the investigation quickly gathering momentum, Kim finds herself exposed to great danger and in the sights of a lethal individual undertaking their own twisted experiment.

Up against a sociopath who seems to know her every weakness, for Detective Stone, each move she makes could be deadly. As the body count starts to mount, Kim will have to dig deeper than ever before to stop the killing. And this time – it’s personal.

…a genuine one sitting read….

Back in the Black Country, back with DI Kim Stone, who in this cracking sequel finds herself locked in an evil mind game, with a deadly opponent.  If you enjoyed Silent Scream, you will love Evil Games. Faster, and more adrenaline fuelled, and with a truly evil antagonist who is destined to get under the skin of the troubled yet feisty DI, it’s a genuine one sitting read, as its villains heinous plan is slowly revealed.

It’s another gripping plot that will enthrall you, and make you question just how easily one person can manipulate another.  Beginning in court with the trial of a mother accused of trying to kill her child, a series of unrelated crimes are slowly revealed to be linked but only Stone knows who is behind it all. The difficult part is finding, someone, anyone who believes what she knows and can help her prove it.

I’m still amazed that this is just the second outing for Angela Marsons, serial character DI Kim Stone, as the writing is solid, the characters even more intriguing and the cracks in Kim Stone are cleverly picked at, giving us greater glimpses of both her weakness, and her inner strength.  A character with such a mixed and difficult background that I’m already looking forward to the next installment.

 

Silent Scream – Angela Marsons

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imageFive figures gather round a shallow grave. They had all taken turns to dig. An adult sized hole would have taken longer. An innocent life had been taken but the pact had been made. Their secrets would be buried, bound in blood …

Years later, a headmistress is found brutally strangled, the first in a spate of gruesome murders which shock the Black Country.

But when human remains are discovered at a former children’s home, disturbing secrets are also unearthed. D.I. Kim Stone fast realises she’s on the hunt for a twisted individual whose killing spree spans decades.

As the body count rises, Kim needs to stop the murderer before they strike again. But to catch the killer, can Kim confront the demons of her own past before it’s too late?

I picked up Silent Scream not just as a fan of crime fiction, but also because finally there is a book that has been set where I grew up.  My Great Great Grandfather’s portrait hangs in the pub in The Black Country Museum, and if you mention the names of either of my Grandmothers to many of the staff working there, they’ll know exactly who I am. I’m a proud direct descendent Black Country girl, who’s moved away from home, and the memories that have been brought to mind of the places I lived, played and went to school have been a delightful aside.  I also believe it’s one of the things that helps with the mystery and intrigue of Silent Scream. With so many modern-day novels set in big cities or rural backwaters, it’s fantastic to see something in a setting more accessible to many, with its own quirks and issues of just who polices whom.

I absolutely loved the character of Kim Stone, and not only because of a shared loved of Kawasaki motorbikes.  I enjoyed the way that rather than being given a motorbike as transport in an effort to ‘butch up’ her personality, our feisty DI is but a true petrol head with a passion for bikes old and new.   She’s a sarcastic, rule breaker who, despite her childhood, cares more for her team than she’d like to let on.  Gritty, and determined, this DI is one fantastic character you’ll immediately want to get behind with a great line in sarcasm that will genuinely make you smile.

With a great cast of supporting characters around her, all of whom are well-developed and will have you keen to learn more about them, what’s most surprising about Silent Scream is that it is a debut novel. It’s cleverly put together with an intriguing plot that pull you in and have you whizzing through pages.  I’m definitely adding Angela Marsons to my ‘authors to watch’ list.