Rory Norton didn’t always make his living as a motorbike instructor and he went to great lengths to leave his past life behind, to start again.
He thought he had succeeded, until the body of a missing woman is discovered under the floor of his cottage. Only then do the guilt and shame of his wife’s mysterious, untimely death and the accusations about his connection to the missing woman combine to break him.
The question is not how the missing woman died but why, and who is responsible?
Sometimes the truth stinks.
Starting literally with a bad smell, alone with suspected rats, a dead body, and Rory’s odd behaviour, Stench has a great opening which launches you straight into a story that ‘reeks’ of mystery.
The story unravels through Rory and Anna, as we discover the truth behind their lives, and deaths. It’s a gripping tale that you will want to rip through, but I suggest taking your time, as the character of Anna needs some careful thought and understanding, due to the problems she faces with her mental health. It is in this character that once more Morgan’s previous life within the NHS really comes to the fore, creating a truly troubled soul.
I recommend this one as a great book club read, as I’m certain that Anna’s behaviour and that of those around her will make for an interesting discussion.
Married to an overgrown child with a beard and too many motorbikes, Alison Morgan lives in a corner of a field in North Bedfordshire and is making the most of a mid-life crisis. The Morgans are determined not to grow old gracefully or to be seen wearing beige and can be found exploring life through a love of live music, anything with an engine, the sea, mountains, rugby, proper pubs and fascinating people.
Alison worked for the NHS for nearly thirty years, twenty of those within mental health services, at the front line. She eventually became the manager of a countywide community service for people experiencing their first episode of psychosis. Much to her frustration, her heart decided to develop an electrical fault, which forced her to sit down for more than five minutes and her career juddered to a halt. Not one for thumb twiddling, she took up position in front of a computer with a plan to write a set of clinical guidelines for assessment of psychosis but instead a story, which had been lurking in her mind for several years, came tumbling out.
Her first two novels, A Justifiable Madness and Divine Poison, were inspired by her career as a psychiatric nurse and her fascination with the extremes of human behaviour. Then she stepped sideways and wrote a gritty psychological thriller, The Camera Lies. All published by Bloodhound Books, Alison’s novels have received excellent reviews and inspired many an interesting debate. Above all, they are entertaining reads and, despite dark subjects, will raise a smile.
What if your daughter becomes your enemy?
When barmaid, Rachel, discovers her soon-to-be-married daughter, Beth, pinned down by a stranger in the pub cellar, Rachel lashes out in panic and the intruder ends up dead. In desperation, Rachel convinces Beth they should cover up the crime and go ahead with the planned wedding in one month’s time.
Rachel, however, has her own reasons for not involving the police.
Hiding their dreadful secret is harder than they both imagined and as the big day approaches and the lies multiply, Beth becomes a liability. Rachel looks on in dismay at the hen party when, after too many drinks, Beth declares she’s about to make a special announcement. But before Beth can say a word, she disappears…
When two people share a chilling secret, can both hold their nerve?
Adeptly written and addictive, Don’t You Dare is a clever look on the relationship between a mother and her daughter in the wake of a mistaken, and deadly act that binds them together in its secrecy, whilst tearing them apart in its weight.
Rachel and Beth are the kind of characters that you will like and support, whilst at the same time disliking them too. It makes for a great read as you go through the love/hate with them both and any book that emotionally connects you to it in that way is a sure fire winner for me.
Intense and twisty, you won’t see what’s coming and I guarantee you will be more than eager to find out, the deeper you get in, the faster you want to get out because you won’t be able to help yourself.
In a reimagined contemporary Edinburgh, in which a tectonic fault has opened up to produce a new volcano in the Firth of Forth, and where tremors are an everyday occurrence, volcanologist Surtsey makes a shocking discovery.
On a clandestine trip to The Inch – the new volcanic island – to meet Tom, her lover and her boss, she finds his lifeless body, and makes the fatal decision to keep their affair, and her discovery of his corpse secret.
Desperate to know how he died, but also terrified she’ll be exposed, Surtsey s life quickly spirals into a nightmare when someone makes contact – someone who claims to know what she’s done…
I’ve read quite a lot of Doug’s previous novels, which I have enjoyed, but this one had me a tad nervous, with it’s ‘re-imagining’ of Edinburgh, but I need not have worried. I found it far easier than I believed it would be to envisage the setting, but Johnstone’s writing made it simple for me.
Faultlines is a slow burn novel, written tightly. There is no single piece of ‘filler’ in there at all, every word moves the narrative along brilliantly, which is a bigger challenge than you might think. This style meant that it only took me a handful of hours to read with only time for sipping a drink to move my eyes away from my Kindle screen.
Definitely not one to read on your bus / train journey as you’ll likely miss your stop.
Julie is devastated to learn that her husband, Paul, is having an affair. It seems her life can’t get any worse – until she comes home to find his dead body in their bed.
When the police establish he was murdered, Julie is the obvious suspect.
To protect her son from the terrible situation, Julie sends the teenage boy to his grandparents in Edinburgh while she fights to prove her innocence.
With all the evidence pointing to her, the only way she can escape conviction is by discovering the true identity of her husband’s killer.
But who really did murder Paul?
The truth is never straightforward…
The Adulterer’s Wife, is Leigh Russell’s first foray into psychological thrillers amid an extremely successful career of writing police procedurals. This is just one of the reasons why I was excited to read this book, I’ve read many authors over long periods of time and I find it thrilling when any choose to move away from their ‘norm’ and embrace a new challenge.
This book is such a thing and it was fabulous, I slipped into the story easily, comfortable in the knowledge of Leigh’s style and pace, but eager to discover this whole new ‘side’ to one of my favourite authors, and I wasn’t disappointed.
Julie’s flawed character might make you question yourself, would you make the decisions she made? Would you have behaved differently? You may think her actions questionable, but how would you react in a similar situation? When a book makes me not only wonder the motivations of the character, but to also ask myself these sorts of questions as I’m reading, I consider that to be a winner.
It’s a definite one sitting read, and perfect for one of those lazy days by the pool, or sunbathing in the garden. You won’t put it down until you are done.
My only lingering thought is that no matter how focused I was on the matters of the day, would I not truly realise my husband was dead?
The Value Of Keeping A Writing Journal
It took me roughly three years to write If He Wakes. That’s from having the initial idea, to my lovely editor saying it was ready to go. Three years. I’ve learnt a lot about the writing process in those years and the one thing I would recommend to anyone who wants to create any kind of content is to keep a writing journal. Or a notebook. Or the notepad feature on your phone even. I call mine a writing journal, but what I really mean is just having something to hand that you can write on at anytime, anywhere.
Here’s why; I had the idea for If He Wakes in a car park. My daughter was about eight months old at the time and she was in the car with me, we were waiting for my husband when inspiration struck and I had absolutely nowhere to record the initial idea. I didn’t worry. It was a great idea, a wonderful premise, there was no chance of me forgetting it, and I didn’t.
But by the time I came to write down my idea for If He Wakes, it was two hours later. I’d been to the supermarket, dealt with a crying baby, made numerous decisions about what was on the family menu for the week and I was tired. My brilliant idea, the one that had made me gasp in the car park when everything was still and quiet was reduced to seven words. ‘Woman sees husband run man over, why?’
It wasn’t hopeless, I did pick up that sentence the next day and start to develop it, but by then, I was searching out the inspiration.
I felt like I’d missed the full opportunity with that idea. I had to chase it down. I had to sit and think about what exactly I’d envisaged in that car park, where my daughter slept silently behind me.
However, if I’d had my writing journal, I know that I would have spent a good ten minutes scribbling in a feverish way everything about that premise.
The way I knew the lead character would feel pain not only mentally, but also physically at what she saw. How the shock of it would shatter everything around her, it would leave her breathless and on a course that would change her life forever. I would have been able to write down where she was, who came to her aid and what she saw. The emotions would have been so raw at the moment I had the idea, it would’ve been easy.
And when I came back to my journal the next day, my enthusiasm for it would’ve jumped off the page and bitten me all over again. I would have read the words that I scribbled down and smiled, and it would all be there, ready for me to pick up and run with.
It took me two years before I realised that having a notebook with you at all times is essential. It’s no good thinking, ‘I’ll remember that, I don’t need to write it down,’ because you will remember the idea, but you will forget your enthusiasm for it.
I used to think that people who got a notebook out and started writing at odd times were just that, odd, but now I yank mine out at any given opportunity. You never know when inspiration will strike and you never want to miss it.
You can always trust your best friend… can’t you?
When Rachel discovers a Twitter message arranging a romantic liaison she assumes her husband is having an affair, and follows him. What she witnesses is so much worse: a hit and run using his car.
Meanwhile, Rachel’s friend and business partner Suzie is increasingly worried about her fiance, who’s not been in touch for days. When Suzie learns of huge debts racked up in her name she fears he has run out on her, but then the threatening calls start and she thinks something terrible has happened.
Rachel and Suzie are both about to learn shocking things about the men they love, worse than they could ever imagine… Can their friendship survive?
Two thirds of the way through this novel, I was sat in my favourite reading chair with a smug smile on my face thinking “I know where this story is going”.
I COULD NOT have been more wrong, but it was in a delightfully interesting way.
A fantastic and compelling read, I wonder just how many of you will feel the same?
Christian Malraux peered at what was left of the headstone and grinned. ‘Aw, that’s sad, isn’t it? Mummy died when he was only a kid.’ He straightened. ‘Can turn you into a complete arsehole, that.’
The crime-scene photographer lowered his camera. ‘Shift,’ he said. ‘And mind where you put your feet.’
The immediate area was still littered with flower debris.
‘Yeah, wouldn’t want to spoil them.’ Malraux trod with exaggerated care between the chewed-up blooms. ‘I don’t know, Marcel, I call in as a courtesy and this is all the thanks I get? I’m over in Cannes now, you know. Full lieutenant.’
‘We miss you terribly.’
The camera’s motor drive whirred away.
‘Our paths will still cross, my friend.’ Malraux winced, screwing up his eyes. ‘Ah, shit.’ He reached under his overalls and took out two small plastic vials. Tilting his head back, he emptied one of them into his pink, lashless left eye. ‘And he had his guitar nicked didn’t he? Talk about a bad week.’
The camera went silent once more. ‘You’re still in the way.’
Blinking like a faulty light bulb, Malraux repeated the procedure with the other eye. ‘Captain Fantastic having his arse nearly shot off… I tell you, if I was still around, it wouldn’t have happened. I’ve saved his life once already.’ His head still tilted back, Malraux shuddered, freezing cold, suddenly. Trying to force his eyes open, ghastly images started crowding into his head. He pictured the entombed body beneath him rising through the stone slab and coming for him. The skeletal hands of a woman reaching out and closing around his throat. Blinking blindly, Malraux staggered backwards, dropping the vials.
More camera whirrs. ‘Sting, do they?’ Marcel said. ‘The drops?’
Gulping in air, Malraux put his hands to his neck and felt all around it. His eyes clearing, he kept them on the grave as he retreated another couple of paces. ‘Just cold,’ he said at length. ‘The stuff does that.’
‘I never realised you were such a sensitive soul.’
Malraux’s vision settled. He began to calm down. Not that he would ever admit to anyone that he’d just suffered a panic attack. ‘Because that’s definitely what it was,’ he said aloud, still staring warily at the grave.
‘What was definitely what?’
Slowly, Malraux gathered himself. He looked at his watch. ‘Got to go. Hate hanging around these places anyway. Give me the fucking creeps.’
The whirring stopped. ‘Oy! Don’t leave your shit behind.’
‘You chuck them,’ Malraux said, not looking back.
It is carnival time in Nice, and for three weeks the boulevards are alive with dancers, jugglers and musicians. Amid the colour and pageantry, a man suffers a fatal fall the first in a series of suspicious deaths.
Captain Paul Darac of the Brigade Criminelle is sure the answer lies in the mystery surrounding a daring bank heist, supposedly resolved years ago. But the reopening of the case awakens powerful enemies, and soon the safety of his friends, his colleagues and his family is at stake.