The ubiquitous end of year wrap up.

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Well that’s 2014 over, and what an amazing year that was!

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Picture by Fenris Oswin – Fenris.co.uk

Of course the highlight for me will always be my now fiancé proposing to me at the end of a panel during this years Theakston’s Old Peculier Crime Writing Festival, Harrogate. He couldn’t have chosen a more fitting venue and I will be eternally grateful to the 2014 festival chair Steve Mosby, and the rest of the festival planning committee for helping to make this happen.

Not only that but, I’ve also got the good fortune of being able to re-live the moment whenever I want, as the download of the panel itself (In Space, No One Can Hear You Scream) is available to buy from the festival website and the recording has his proposal (although not my squeaked out answer) on the end of it. That £3 purchase was definitely one of my best of the year!

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Picture by Fenris Oswin – Fenris.co.uk

That was closely followed by appearing with friend and crimesquad.com editor Chris Simmons on this year’s ITV3 Specsavers Crime Thriller Club TV show. Not only did we have two fabulous days out in ‘that London’, meeting new and interesting people, catching up with author friends and laughing with Bradley Walsh, we also WON.

Closer to home it’s been great for me to see this blog really start to increase its traffic (I’m still hoping to break that magic 1,000 followers before the end of the year – sitting at 976 as I write) and getting the opportunity to participate in the blog tours of some brilliant crime reads…

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Then of course there were also these fabulous books

 

20140527-165933-61173231.jpgLand Of Shadows – Rachel Howzell Hall

I have read several highly accomplished debut novels this year, but this is one that sticks in my mind.  Homicide Detective Elouise Norton is someone I’m keen to hear more about. Tough and driven, yet at times insecure.  With a fascinating setting on the ever changing border of a gentrifying Los Angeles, it’s a great debut.

wpid-screenshot_2014-09-11-00-59-25-1.pngThe Girl On The Train – Paula Hawkins  

“To everyone else in this carriage I must look normal; I’m doing exactly what they do: commuting to work, making appointments, ticking things off lists.

Just goes to show”

 Not published until Jan 15th 2015, I am jealous that so many of you have such a fabulous book yet to read and experience.  I urge you all to grab it as soon as it comes out, as I guarantee it’s going to cause quite a stir.

V CoverVendetta – Dreda Say Mitchell 

In a distinct change of direction to the race against time thriller, Mitchell has produced a gripping read, with cracking characters, storylines and a great deal of style this series could really see her giving Simon Kernick a run for his money.

wpid-2014_07_25_08.24.01.png Dead Men’s Bones – James Oswald

The fourth and latest of Oswald’s books featuring Detective Inspector Tony McLean. With its supernatural twists on the standard police procedural, this is one series that just gets better and better with Dead Men’s Bones proving to be the best yet.

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The Killer Next Door – Alex Marwood

Dark, chilling and impeccably plotted, it’s an interesting insight into the secrets that lurk behind closed doors, how little notice we all take of the world around us and asks the question just how well do we ever really know our friends and neighbours? 

These few aside there a are plenty more delightful, intriguing and thrilling books out there, and many of those that are currently featuring on an awful lot of top 10 lists this year are staring at me mournfully from my on the verge of collapse to be read pile.  I’m looking forward to being able to sit down and catch up with just a few of them over the coming months.

My end of year tally for books read came to a grand total of 123 missing out by more that I would have liked, on beating last years total of 130, so I’ll be going all out to exceed both of these numbers next year.

Here’s looking forward to and wishing you all a fabulous, book filled 2015.

Land Of Shadows – Rachel Howzell Hall

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Along the ever-changing border of gentrifying Los Angeles, a seventeen-year-old girl is found dead at a construction site, hanging in the closet of an unfinished condominium.

Homicide Detective Elouise Norton and her new partner Colin Taggert, fresh from the Colorado Springs police department, are assigned to investigate. He assumes it’s a teenage suicide, but Norton isn’t buying the easy explanation. For one thing, the condo site is owned by Napoleon Crase, a self-made millionaire, and the man Norton believes responsible for her sisters disappearance 30 years before.

As Norton investigates the death of Monique Darson, she uncovers undeniable links between the two cases, but as she gets closer to the truth, she also gets closer to a violent killer. The race is on to bring him to justice, or become his next victim….

If you’re planning on reading Land of Shadows any time soon, I recommend you clear your schedules before you do. It’s the most addictive book I’ve read this year, and I’m already viewing it as a likely contender for my best books of the year, it’s simply that good.

Elouise Norton is a brilliantly written character that you can’t help but like immediately. Tough and feisty, a hard-working woman who has come from a poor background to be the successful cop she is today. Sensitive and vulnerable, worried about her husbands fidelity and the state of her marriage. Still troubled by the unresolved disappearance of her sister, and with a blind determination to bring to justice the man she believes to be responsible for it.

One of my favourite touches to the tale comes as the story moves back and forth, between the present day and the day her sister disappeared, demonstrating the contrasting fortunes of the teenagers she knew then with the adults they have become.  The characters were so believable it felt a genuine reflection on the way life in poorer communities works, and how people change their fortunes or re-live their mistakes.  I found it provided an excellent background to the whole story.

As for the plot, it twists and turns with ease, ensuring that if you’re the sort of person who wants to guess ‘whodunnit’ first you will be spinning round in circles trying to get there. 

Land of Shadows is, for me, an amazing novel, and Detective Elouise Norton is a character I certainly see a great future for, a future I can’t wait to read all about.