“The bird tribunal” by Agnes Ravatn – #BookReview #Orentober

I thought I’d repost a review from 2017 in honour of Orentober. What is Orentober you ask? It is the October celebration of the books and authors represented by Orenda Publishing.

The Bird Tribunal” was my favourite read of 2017 and I felt it deserves a second mention. I liked it so much that I’ve included it in my blog wallpaper (if you look closely you’ll find it).
I am highly anticipating more of this author’s work and cannot wait to read more by Agnes Ravatn.
the-bird-tribunal-2Allis Hagtorn has done something of which she is profoundly ashamed.  She seeks anonymity and a refuge where she can come to terms with her behavior and her future.  She finds employment in a remote house on a Norwegian fjord.  Here she will be a housekeeper/cook/gardener to Sigurd Bagge, the solitary man who calls this house home.

Her previous employment as a television presenter has not prepared her for the hard physical labor she is expected to perform for Sigurd Bagge – or for the emotional minefield his presence seems to generate.  He is surly, taciturn, moody, and secretive. He expects her to eat alone, after he has finished.  There are locked rooms in the house which she is not to enter.  He says the garden was once his wife’s domain, now she is gone (we know not where) and it has fallen into an overgrown chaos.

“Something wasn’t right about this place”imag003There is no car.  Allis is expected to cycle in to the nearest shop to get the provisions she needs for his meals. There is no music, no television, no internet.

As the frigid spring turns to summer on the fjord, Allis and Bagge remain remote from each other – even though they do occasionally share a glass of wine from the cottage’s seemingly endless supply in the cellar.  They seem incapable of looking each other in the eye. They are both married with absent spouses.

The predictable duties over several weeks makes Allis feel transformed.  She feels as though she has shed her old life like a snake sheds its skin. The hard manual work seems to have been her salvation.

“…difficult circumstances were good starting points for life changes, great or small.”

They both harbor secrets that seem to weigh upon them so much that they are barely able to stand.  The house, in this isolated and beautiful spot, is fraught with tension.

“I was too happy to cry and too sad to smile.
I didn’t know what it was, I longed to feel light.”

At times Allis is afraid of Sigurd. At other times he makes her feel safe… It has been a long time since she has spoken to her parents or anyone from her former life. She feels isolated – but she cannot imagine being anywhere else, doing anything else.threatening-seagull

To say this novel is atmospheric would be an understatement. At times the house is so quiet that you can imagine Allis hearing her own heartbeat above all else.  The characterization is wonderful.  The reader learns just enough about the two protagonists to want to know more – thus maintaining a delicious tension and at the same time, a feeling of foreboding.duck-mask

When the meaning behind the title and the cover art are divulged, the reader is rendered speechless.  A novel of guilt, atonement, and what the lack of trust can do to a relationship.  A psychological thriller? Yes. A crime thriller? You be the judge.

I think “The bird tribunal” will be on my ‘best of 2017’ list.  Highly recommended!f-5-star

This book was translated from the Norwegian by Rosie Hedger.

Thanks to Orenda Books for providing me with a complimentary digital copy of this book in consideration of my review.

written-with-norwegian-flagsagnes-ravatnFrom Orenda Books: 
Agnes Ravatn (b. 1983) is an author and columnist. She made her literary début with the novel Week 53 (Veke 53) in 2007. Since then she has written three critically acclaimed and award-winning essay collections: Standing still (Stillstand), 2011, Popular reading (Folkelesnad), 2011, and Operation self-discipline (Operasjon sjøldisiplin), 2014. In these works Ravatn shows her unique, witty voice and sharp eye for human fallibility. Her second novel, The Bird Tribunal (Fugletribuanlet), 2013, is a strange and captivating story about shame, guilt and atonement. Ravatn received The cultural radio P2’s listener’s prize for this novel, a popular and important prize in Norway.

Posted in Book Reviews, Favorite books, novels in translation, Orenda Books, Psychological thrillers, Scandinavian | Tagged , , | 5 Comments

Horror thrillers on my TBR #OctoberReads

With myriad review commitments I seldom read the way I used to do before ‘The Blog‘. Then, I often read seasonally. That is beachy reads in the summer, Christmas reads at the end of the year and spooky reads in October.
Today, I’m sharing some of the thrillers, ghost stories, and horror titles that are patiently waiting on my TBR as of today.

Perhaps you’ll find your next October read!

(click on the cover to visit Goodreads for more info)

Blood Harvest” by the fabulous Sharon Bolton has been on my TBR for ages. I’m really looking forward to this one!

The Dead Summer” enticed me with its attractive cover.

After reading a review for “The Ash House” in 2017, I added this title to my TBR. It really piqued my interest.

Again, it was the cover that first compelled me to add “The Broken Hours” to my TBR. It is a story of horror writer H. P. Lovecraft.

A glowing review by a fellow bookblogger tempted me to add “The Wayward Girls” to my TBR.

(Bookbloggers are such naughty people)

The House on Cold Hill” was another title that was recommended to me by a fellow bookblogger. To be honest, the author alone sold me on this one.

Again, it was the stunning cover that made me add “Cauldstane” to my TBR.

Naomi’s Room” was recommended to me by a friend.

It was the combination of the stunning cover and a glowing review that tempted me to add “The Good Sisters” to my TBR.

A recent review by a fellow bookblogger enticed me to add “The Hive“.

Looks like I have some excellent reading in store!

Now, I’d like to share with you a few of the more memorable October reads that I’ve already enjoyed:

I read “Harvest Home” over 30 years ago and I still remember just how creepy it was…

Again, I read “Whispers” around thirty years ago. It introduced me to one of the modern masters of horror, Dean Koontz.

I read “The Dead House” in 2018 and I was chilled by the book – especially the ending…

My review of “The Dead House” is here.

I read “The Woman in Black” about a decade or so ago. It is a classic for lovers of the gothic ghost story.

The Haunting of Hill House” was the most frightening of any book I’ve every read. (the TV show was also extremely well done and very scary)

The Weathering” by Lucy Wood has remained in my memory for its atmospheric chill.

My review of “The Weathering” can be found here.

I read “The Broken Girls” in April of 2018. Loved it. You can read my review here.

AND… since October is the month to watch a scary movie or two… Here is a movie that made me hide behind a pillow…

(click on the photo to learn more about this movie)

(click on the photo to learn more about this movie)

Thanks to all who follow this blog!  You are appreciated!


I saw this on Pinterest and thought you would appreciate it…

"A Reader's Grave"

“A Reader’s Grave”

Posted in Anticipated titles, ghost stories, Horror | Tagged , , | 16 Comments

Wednesday’s Word = ECHO

Most readers will acknowledge that some words reappear time and time again in titles. Often these words are associated with a particular genre. Case in point: “The girl on the train” and “Gone girl” spawned countless thriller titles with the word ‘girl’ in the title.

I know there are hundreds of books with the word ‘ECHO’ in the title, but I’m featuring a small selection of titles that appeal to me personally, as a way of sharing my book love.  I’ve read three of the following titles and several more of them are on my TBR.

Just click on the cover to read the book’s synopsis from Goodreads.
You might just find your next favorite book!

Are you tempted by any of these covers?

So many fabulous ones here.
Have you read one of these titles and absolutely LOVED it?

If you’ve added even one of these titles to YOUR TBR,
Please let me know in the comments.

Posted in Wednesday Word | Tagged | 17 Comments

“Mosaic” by Caro Ramsay – Book Review

Megan Melvick is returning home to say goodbye to her dying sister. At only 28 years of age, her sister Melissa is dying of anorexia.  She arrives just in time…

Next thing you know the family is planning Melissa’s funeral – five years almost to the day from the day Melissa was married…   It was a magical wedding on the estate’s grounds. Patriarch Ivan Melvick gifted his daughter with a carousel. All was fantastic until an unthinkable tragedy marred the proceedings…

Melissa was always the beautiful sister, an actress, spoiled and headstrong. Megan on the other hand was always the little sister very much in Melissa’s shadow. It compounded matters that Megan was deaf…  Then, three years ago, the girl’s mother, Beth Melvick left the estate – never to be heard from again.  But surely, everyone thinks… Beth will return home again to attend her daughter Melissa’s funeral.

The Melvick family are plagued with depression and ironically there is a hanging tree on the grounds – complete with rope. This was last used by Megan’s grandfather on Megan’s fourth birthday.

“The house had a habit of pulling back those that had been born there, driving them to insanity, or suicide by inherited melancholy.”

Now that Megan is back home, she is tortured by memories. It doesn’t help that her father now has a new woman on the scene.

Megan’s most traumatic memories are of her best friend, Carla, who was the daughter of the ‘help’. Not of Megan’s social class, yet the girls had much in common. Both always felt they were ‘outsiders’.

“This was a house of many beautiful views. Weird that none of them are happy.”

Megan has been diagnosed with Dissociative Identity Disorder. That in tandem with her deafness has made her vulnerable.

Now… a policeman in investigating the disappearance of Beth Melvick, the girl’s mother.

There is always one pivotal feature of any book that most attracts certain readers. For me it was the setting of “Mosaic”. Set in Stirlingshire, Scotland on an island…. how much more atmospheric can you get?

Factor in a wealthy family in a centuries old manor house, lots of family tragedy, family secrets, and the ever present class divide and you’ve got yourself an enjoyable read.

Also, although Megan’s friend Carla died five years ago, part of the narrative was in her voice. Curious? You should be.

The author creates suspicion in the mind of the reader. Red herrings lead you astray. I really enjoyed the read – yet… something fell short.  Perhaps the story wasn’t resolved quite to my liking? Yet, despite my personal feelings, I must recommend this novel. Others might find it very fulfilling. I did enjoy it enough to rank it four stars.

I received a complimentary digital copy of “Mosaic” from Severn House Publishers via NetGalley. This is no way influenced by rating or my enjoyment of the novel.

Caro Ramsay was born and educated in Glasgow. She was the youngest person ever to graduate from the British School of Osteopathy in London. She has been writing stories since she was five years old, developing a keen interest in crime fiction and a passion for the genre that lead her to write Absolution, her first novel.

Caro Ramsay is the author of ten novels in the Anderson and Costello crime series.

Mosaic is her latest stand-alone thriller.

Follow Caro Ramsay on Twitter


Posted in Book Reviews, Mystery fiction, NetGalley | Tagged , , | 4 Comments

Introducing… “You Beneath Your Skin” by Damyanti Biswas #YouBeneathYourSkin @damyantig

All the author proceeds will go to Project WHY and Stop Acid Attacks.


You Beneath Your Skin is a crime novel about the investigation of an acid attack on a woman from Delhi’s upper class, set against the backdrop of crimes against underprivileged women. They are assaulted, disfigured with acid, and murdered.

While the framework is that of a thriller, the novel threads together different narrative strands. The author tackles various social issues: crimes against women and why they occur, the nexus between political corruption, police and big money; the abuse of the underprivileged, be it adults or children.

Of these the issue of crimes against women is the strongest—why do men attack women? Why do they gang together? What happens when a woman tries to break the glass ceiling? Can toxic masculinity masquerade as benevolent patriarchy?

Parents would also find this novel fascinating: how do you bring up a good human being in today’s troubled times? How much do you know of your teenager’s life? If you’re the parent of a special child, what challenges do you face and what sort of support can you expect?

It is a  whodunnit, but also a whydunnit, because violent crime unravels those affected: the people, the relationships, the very fabric of society, and we get a glimpse of what lies beneath. That’s why the title, You Beneath Your Skin.

The narrative of the book was researched and shaped during the author’s work with Project WHY, and some of the experiences generously shared by acid attack survivors from the non-profit Stop Acid Attacks. To return this debt of gratitude, all author proceeds from the book will go to these two non-profits.

Damyanti Biswas lives in Singapore, and works with Delhi’s underprivileged children as part of Project Why, a charity that promotes education and social enhancement in underprivileged communities. Her short stories have been published in magazines in the US, UK, and Asia, and she helps edit the Forge Literary Magazine. You can find her on her blog and Twitter.

Damyanti Biswas volunteers for the non-profits, Project WHY and Stop Acid Attacks. She speaks passionately on the subjects of gender, violence, and poverty. The narrative of Damyanti’s new novel, You Beneath Your Skin (Simon and Schuster) releasing this September, has been shaped by her years of interaction with women and children in these two organisations. Using a framework of a crime thriller, she conjures in this book an authentic portrayal of poverty, misogyny, and political corruption.

Project WHY’s journey began in 2000 with 40 children who wanted to learn spoken English and a handful of volunteers. Over the years, as the number of children increased, their demands multiplied, new teachers were discovered within tiny jhuggis and lanes, and ad-hoc classrooms found. They started their first after-school support programme at Giri Nagar for children coming from underprivileged homes, and today through seven after-school support centres, they reach out to over 1100 children, 200 women and have created 50 job opportunities for people from the community. Their aim is to bridge the education gap for underprivileged children and improve their learning outcomes in a safe environment, as well as life-skills and all-round development for women.

Stop Acid Attacks (SAA) is a campaign against acid violence. This organisation has been actively campaigning for the cause of acid attack survivors by continuously creating dialogue with the political and legal system, to bring about a social change. The survivor of an acid attack requires immediate medical, financial and psychological support on human grounds. But, the judicial procedures in this country do not assure any such intervention or help to the survivor until a court announces it. It is this loophole in the procedure of justice that they work on, by generating immediate medical and final support for the victims and providing them and their families the needed psychological and legal support. Using the visual medium, and engaging with their supporters worldwide through social media and the internet, they aim to sensitise and educate people about the gruesome nature of this crime, and the oppressive injustice of a gender-biased society.

Damyanti’s dedication to both the causes has led her to ensure that her proceeds from the book You Beneath You Skin go to Project Why and Stop Acid Attacks. Earlier drafts of this novel were long-listed for the Mslexia Novel Competition and the Bath Novel Award, and the writing was helped by a grant from the National Arts Council of Singapore. Damyanti’s short stories have been published in anthologies and journals around the world, including Litro, Griffith Review, Bluestem and others. She’s also one of the editors of the Forge Literary magazine.

Posted in Authors | Tagged , | 3 Comments

“Deadland” by William Shaw – Book Review

Alex Cupidi lives in the atmospheric locale of Dungeness in Kent. She works for the Kent Serious Crime Directorate.

A single mother of a seventeen year old daughter, Zoë, Alex faces challenges in both her work and her home life. At work, she is constantly battling to do justice to her many cases while the police are serious short-staffed. She still feels as though she is an ‘outsider’, having transferred to Kent after a personal, very awkward relationship in London.

Back on the scene is William South, former community policeman in Dungeness, who Cupidi helped to send to prison. Now released, he is once again Cupidi’s neighbour and she is worried about him. She always held a deep respect for the man and though she stands by her earlier decision, she still feels regret about the events that transpired.

This latest case has her very concerned about two teenage boys who are on the run from some seriously scary and desperate criminals, at the same time as trying to discern the fate of the owner of a severed arm found in an art work on display in a gallery.

Another case, a murder, will link all three cases in a clever, almost ingenious way.

I was delighted to see the return of William South (The Birdwatcher) in this latest installment. Though I was disappointed that he did not play a bigger part in the narrative, he did play an important part.

The characters in William Shaw’s novels are always interesting and so fully developed that the reader comes to really care about them. I relished the references to Cupidi’s personal life. Her relationship with her enigmatic daughter especially, but also her growing rapport with her female constable, Jill Ferriter, who plays a big part in the plot of ‘Deadland’.

The teenage boys, Tap and Sloth, were rendered with empathy and though they were ‘down and out ne’er do wells‘ they were boys – who through fate and circumstance, were impoverished in many ways, not just financially. My heart broke for them both.

copyright Simon Ingram 2014

The sense of place makes the reader immersed in the narrative as it is so well described. You can almost smell the marsh air…

Though advertised as the second in the Alexandra Cupidi crime series, for me this is number three. After reading “The Birdwatcher” and “Salt Lane” this is fast becoming one of my favourite police procedural series. Highly recommended!

As I was unable to procure an ARC of this novel, I purchased “Deadland” in Kindle format. It is published by Riverrun, an imprint of Quercus.

ISBN: 9781786486622     ASIN: B07JFJ33SR     Length: 400 pages

from the author’s Goodreads bio:

William Shaw photo ©Ellen Shaw

William Shaw is the author of the Breen & Tozer series set in London in 1968-9 and has a new book in the series called “Sympathy for the Devil” which is soon to be published.
In 2016, he published a standalone called “The Birdwatcher” .
The non-fiction books he wrote include Westsiders , an account of several young would-be rappers struggling to establish themselves against a backdrop of poverty and violence in South Central Los Angeles, Superhero For Hire , a compilation and of the Small Ads columns he wrote for the Observer Magazine, and Spying In Guru Land , in which he joined several British religious cults to write about them.
William Shaw lives in Brighton, Sussex and plays music with Brighton Ceilidh Collective.

Posted in Book Reviews, Mystery fiction | Tagged , , , | 4 Comments

Pushkin Press presents…. Margaret Millar @PushkinPress

Vastly successful in her day, Margaret Millar has now largely fallen out of popular consumption. Her psychologically complex thrillers have some of the best realised characters and most emotionally brilliant writing of all twentieth century crime, earning her a stream of praise from fellow writers. However, the world seems to have forgotten her. Until now.

Pushkin Press are determined to revive Millar. And not only that, they want to shine a spotlight on the forgotten female crime writers of the past two centuries, where strides in both the genre and in women’s writing have taken place.

I’m ashamed to say that I haven’t read any of Millar’s work. Given that she is a Canadian, award-winning mystery novelist, I feel that this must be remedied soon. Pushkin Press kindly provided me with copies of the above three Millar novels and I hope to read and review them in 2020.

Have YOU read any of Margaret Millar’s novels?

The Pushkin Press July-December 2019 catalogue

Margaret Millar (1915-1994) was the author of 27 books and a masterful pioneer of psychological mysteries and thrillers.
Born in Kitchener, Ontario, she spent most of her life in Santa Barbara, California. She was married to the writer Kenneth Millar (better known under the pen name Ross Macdonald).

Her 1956 novel Beast in View won the Edgar Allan Poe Award for Best Novel.
In 1983 the Mystery Writers of America awarded her the Grand Master Award for Lifetime Achievement.

‘Margaret Millar is surely one of late twentieth-century crime fiction’s best writers, in the sense that the actual writing in her books, the prose, is of superb quality. On almost every page of this one there is some description, whether of a physical thing or a mental state, that sends a sharp ray of extra meaning into the reader’s mind.’ – H.R.F. Keating

‘In the whole of crime fiction’s distinguished sisterhood, there is no one quite like Margaret Millar.’ – Guardian

‘One of the most original and vital voices in all of American crime fiction’ – Laura Lippman, author of Sunburn

Posted in Authors, Mystery fiction, Publishing Houses, Pushkin Press, Suspense | Tagged , | Leave a comment

Wednesday’s Word = DARK

Most readers will acknowledge that some words reappear time and time again in titles. Often these words are associated with a particular genre. Case in point: “The girl on the train” and “Gone girl” spawned countless thriller titles with the word ‘girl’ in the title.

I know there are hundreds of books with the word ‘DARK’ in the title, but I’m featuring a small selection of titles that appeal to me personally, as a way of sharing my book love.  I’ve read nine of the following titles and several more of them are on my TBR.

Just click on the cover to read the book’s synopsis from Goodreads.
You might just find your next favorite book!

Are you tempted by any of these covers?

So many fabulous ones here.
Have you read one of these titles and absolutely LOVED it?

If you’ve added even one of these titles to YOUR TBR,
Please let me know in the comments.

Posted in Wednesday Word | Tagged | 7 Comments

Hello October – Fictionophile personal updates

Autumn is rolling along and I’m starting to realize that once again I won’t get all the books read in 2019 that I wanted to…  Do you go into ‘autumn panic’?

This year has been a memorable one for our family. Several of us have been in and out of hospital – three surgeries between us and another one pending…

It is the time of year when we start to think of closing up our summer cottage for another year. I must say that this is always bittersweet as the gardens are usually at their best in Sept.-Oct.  This year won’t be so difficult to leave the place as Hurricane Dorian pretty much demolished both the flower and vegetable gardens. Oh well… there is always next year.

I am delighted to report that there are now 3,613 people following this blog. Heartfelt thanks to all who take the time to read my posts, leave a comment or two, and share my posts on other social media. I appreciate you all.

As I am coming ever nearer to the magical 4000 number I want to pick your collective brains. I want to host an international giveaway when I reach 4000. It is my intention to giveaway an Amazon gift card.  In the past I’ve had issues with trying to deal with Amazon. For instance, once an author gifted me with a gift card for Amazon.com which was not eligible for use in Amazon.ca

How do you get around the ‘international’ aspect?  How do you purchase an Amazon gift card for a country other than your own?  For instance, if the winner of my giveaway lives in Australia for instance, can I purchase an Amazon gift card from Amazon.com.au if I live in Canada?

I’d be grateful for any advice you are able to share.

Despite having a lull in my reading during my hospital stay and recovery, my Goodreads Challenge is doing okay.

I’m sure that I’ll complete the challenge, but I’m not sure I’ll get all the specific titles read that I had planned.

I’m hanging on to my NetGalley 80% badge by the skin of my teeth…

My Edelweiss feedback ratio has improved a tiny bit

Many of you have inquired about my baby grandson. I’m delighted to report that he is thriving and has stolen our hearts.

Posted in Fictionophile report, personal | Tagged , | 38 Comments

Fictionophile’s September 2019 #bookhaul

I’ve been trying to request fewer titles each month in an effort to get a handle on my TBR and review commitments. This month I wasn’t very successful. There are just SO many wonderful titles available…

For the entire month of September 2019 I have added SEVEN more review commitments.

Here is my current NetGalley feedback ratio

(as you can see, I’m teetering right at the 80% mark so I don’t dare get any more titles from NetGalley until I have a bit of a cushion. Having worked so hard to get the 80% badge, I refuse to lose it again…)

Three from NetGalley.

I was pre-approved for all three… so what was I expected to do? LOL

The Secrets of Lost Stones” by Melissa Payne
published by Lake Union

A soul-stirring novel about the bonds between mother and child and the redemption that comes with facing the past and letting it go.

Thirty-two-year-old Jess Abbot has lost everything: her job, her apartment, and—most heart-wrenching—her eight-year-old son, Chance, to a tragic accident. Haunted by memories and grief, Jess packs what’s left and heads for the small mountain town of Pine Lake, where she takes a position as caregiver to an eccentric old woman.

A rumored clairvoyant, Lucy is strange but welcoming and immediately intuits Jess as a “loose end” in need of closure. But Jess isn’t the only guest in Lucy’s large Victorian home. There’s also Star, a teenage runaway with a secret too painful to share. And the little boy with heart-shaped stones, who comes with a hope for reconciliation—and a warning.

Soon Jess learns that she’s not the only lost soul running from the ghosts of the past. She and Star have been brought together for a reason: to be saved by the very thing that destroyed them.

The Slaughter Man” by Cassandra Parkin
published by Legend Press

When her identical twin Laurel dies, seventeen-year-old Willow’s life falls apart. With her parents’ marriage faltering, she finds escape at her uncle Joe’s cottage. But even as they begin to know each other, Willow is plagued with memories of her sister. Then, Lucas arrives in her life – troubled, angry and with a dangerous past.

Joe’s cottage is idyllic, but the forest is filled with secrets. What is Joe hiding from her? What events have brought Lucas to her door? And who is the Slaughter Man who steals through Willow’s sleep?

As the lines between dreams and reality become blurred, Willow’s torment deepens. It seems as if her only escape lies with the Slaughter Man.

A Rush of Blood” by David Mark
published by Severn House

When her friend Meda fails to turn up for dance class one evening, 10-year-old Hilda is convinced that something bad has happened to her, despite Meda’s family’s reassurances. Unable to shake off her concerns, Hilda turns to her mother, Molly, for help. Molly runs the Jolly Bonnet, a pub with links to the Whitechapel murders of a century before and a meeting place for an assortment of eccentrics drawn to its warm embrace. Among them is Lottie. Pathologist by day, vlogger by night, Lottie enlists the help of her army of online fans – and uncovers evidence that Meda isn’t the first young girl to go missing.

But Molly and Lottie’s investigations attract unwelcome attention. Two worlds are about to collide in a terrifying game of cat and mouse played out on the rain-lashed streets of London’s East End, a historic neighbourhood that has run red with the blood of innocents for centuries.

And three from Edelweiss:

The Sun Down Motel” by Simone St. James
published by Berkley

The secrets lurking in a rundown roadside motel ensnare a young woman, just as they did her aunt thirty-five years before, in this new atmospheric suspense novel from the national bestselling and award-winning author of The Broken Girls.

Upstate NY, 1982. Every small town like Fell, New York, has a place like the Sun Down Motel. Some customers are from out of town, passing through on their way to someplace better. Some are locals, trying to hide their secrets. Viv Delaney works as the night clerk to pay for her move to New York City. But something isn’t right at the Sun Down, and before long she’s determined to uncover all of the secrets hidden… 

Mercy House” by Alena Dillon
published by William Morrow

A powerful debut novel of a refuge in Brooklyn for women in trouble—and the one woman who will risk all to protect them.

In the Bedford-Stuyvesant neighborhood of Brooklyn stands a century-old row house presided over by renegade, silver-haired Sister Evelyn. Gruff and indomitable on the surface, warm and wry underneath, Evelyn and her fellow sisters makes Mercy House a safe haven for the abused and abandoned.

Women like Lucia, who arrives in the dead of night; Mei-Li, the Chinese and Russian house veteran; Desiree, a loud and proud prostitute; Esther, a Haitian immigrant and aspiring collegiate; and Katrina, knitter of lumpy scarves… all of them know what it’s like to be broken by men.

Little daunts Evelyn, until she receives word that Bishop Robert Hawkins is coming to investigate Mercy House and the nuns, whose secret efforts to help the women in ways forbidden by the Church may be uncovered. But Evelyn has secrets too, dark enough to threaten everything she has built.

Evelyn will do anything to protect Mercy House and the vibrant, diverse women it serves—confront gang members, challenge her beliefs, even face her past. As she fights to defend all that she loves, she discovers the extraordinary power of mercy and the grace it grants, not just to those who receive it, but to those strong enough to bestow it.

Firewatching” by Russ Thomas
published by G.P. Putnam’s Sons

A taut and ambitious police procedural debut introducing Detective Sergeant Adam Tyler, a cold case reviewer who lands a high-profile murder investigation only to find the main suspect is a recent one-night stand…

When financier Gerald Cartwright disappeared from his home six years ago, it was assumed he’d gone on the run from his creditors. When a skeleton is found bricked up in the cellar of Cartwright’s mansion, it becomes clear Gerald never left alive.

As the sole representative of South Yorkshire’s Cold Case Review Unit, Detective Sergeant Adam Tyler is not expected to get results, but he knows this is the case that might finally kickstart his floundering career. Luckily, he already has a suspect. Unluckily, that suspect is Cartwright’s son, the man Tyler slept with the night before. To further complicate matters, tied up in his investigation are an elderly woman with dementia who’s receiving mysterious threats referencing a past she can’t remember, and an ambitious young Muslim constable seeking to prove herself on a force of good old boys.

Someone in the city knows exactly what happened to Gerald. Someone who is watching from the shadows. Someone with an unhealthy affinity with fire…

Also, I received a book from Emma at Damppebbles in order to participate in one of her blog tours on November 12th

Retriever of Souls” by Lorraine Mace
published by Accent Press

The first title in a dark and gritty crime series.

Brought up believing that sex is the devil’s work, a killer only finds release once he has saved his victim’s souls. Abiding by his vision, he marks them as his. A gift to guide his chosen ones on the rightful path to redemption.

Detective Inspector Paolo Sterling is out to stop him, but Paolo has problems of his own. Hunting down the killer as the death toll rises, the lines soon blur between Paolo’s personal and professional lives.

So, SEVEN more review commitments for SEPTEMBER.

Also, I purchased FIVE new Kindle books from Amazon.ca

total expenditure = $ 13.22 Cdn.


Breakers” by Doug Johnstone

Seventeen-year-old Tyler lives in one of Edinburgh’s most deprived areas. Coerced into robbing rich people’s homes by his bullying older siblings, he’s also trying to care for his little sister and his drug-addict mum. On a job, his brother Barry stabs a homeowner and leaves her for dead, but that’s just the beginning of their nightmare, because the woman is the wife of Edinburgh’s biggest crime lord, Deke Holt. With the police and the Holts closing in, and his shattered family in devastating danger, Tyler meets posh girl Flick in another stranger’s house, and he thinks she may just be his salvation . . . unless he drags her down, too. A pulsating, tense psychological thriller, Breakers is also a breathtakingly brutal, beautiful, and deeply moving story of a good kid in the wrong family, from one of Scotland’s finest crime writers.


Dead Flowers” by Nicola Monaghan

She doesn’t trust the police. She used to be one of them.

Hardened by ten years on the murder squad, DNA analyst Doctor Sian Love has seen it all. So when she finds human remains in the basement of her new home, she knows the drill.

Except this time it’s differentThis time, it’s personal…

A page-turning cold case investigation, Dead Flowers is an intriguing, multi-layered story perfect for fans of Kate Atkinson’s Case Histories and British crime dramas like Line of Duty and Unforgotten.

Shortlisted for the UEA Crime Fiction Award 2019


Courting Murder” by Bill Hopkins

When Judge Rosswell Carew makes the gruesome discovery of two corpses on a river bank in the Missouri Ozarks, he’s plunged into a storm of deadly secrets that threaten both him and his fiancee, Tina Parkmore. Unsatisfied with the way the authorities are conducting the investigation, Rosswell, who’s always nurtured a secret desire to be a detective, teams up with an ex-con, Ollie Groton, to solve the case before the killer can murder again. Rosswell uncovers a maze of crimes so tangled that he must fight his way to a solution or die trying.


The Girl in White” by John Nicholl

Harry Gilmore has no idea of the terrible danger he faces when he meets a beautiful girl in a local student bar. Drugged and abducted, Harry wakes up in a secure wooden compound deep in the Welsh countryside, where he is groomed by the leaders of a manipulative cult, run by the self-proclaimed new messiah, known as The Master.

When the true nature of the cult becomes apparent, Harry looks for any opportunity to escape. But as time passes he questions if the master’s extreme behaviour and teachings are the one true religion.

With Harry’s life hanging by a thread, a team of officers, led by Detective Inspector Laura Kesey, investigate his disappearance. But will they find him before it’s too late?


The Guilty Friend” by Joanne Sefton

Cambridge, 1986. Alex, Karen, and Misty are an inseparable trio at Cambridge University – one can never be found far from the others. But when Alex dies suddenly, the remaining two friends can’t look one another in the eye – knowing they both had a part to play in her death.

Present day. Misty and Karen haven’t spoken in years, but, convinced she has seen a picture of Alex alive, Karen doesn’t know who else to turn to. She soon becomes obsessed with a past she thought she’d left behind her… and her life begins to spiral out of control.

Because, when you’re living in the past, who is keeping an eye on the present? 

How was YOUR month of September? 

Any wonderful acquisitions added to your TBR?

I’d love to hear about it in the comments.

Hope life is treating you with the respect you deserve.

Posted in Anticipated titles, Fictionophile report | Tagged | 16 Comments

“The Lying Room” by Nicci French – Book Review

Neve Connolly is just trying to slog through her life. She is the main earner for her family and the never-ending responsibilities, and having to be there for everyone, is tipping her over the edge…  The daily grind of work, husband, three children, are all getting on top of her. When she is tempted to have a little joy, just for herself, she succumbs… and has an affair with a man from work, Saul Stevenson.

When she gets a text summoning her to his flat, she goes – only to find him murdered. With her all encompassing love for her family, and not wanting to jeopardize her life further, she cleans the flat to remove all traces of her presence there.

This action will put her in a vortex of panic, stress, suspicion, and lies that will threaten everything and everyone she loves.

“She thought of her life and it seemed like an avalanche, sliding away down the mountainside, gathering everything up in its roaring descent.”

What a roller coaster of a novel! Fast-paced, the novel depicts a woman on the edge. Neve’s panic, tension and stress were palpable. You find yourself reading with a lump in your throat waiting for the axe to fall…   Lies, compounded by more lies… so many that she barely remembers what the truth is herself. Unable to sleep, eat, or function, she finds herself trying to act ‘normally’ with a house full of people who unexpectedly descend upon her home. A home already chaotic, made farcical with the extra people.

“She was hot and sticky, hollow with hunger but nauseous with fear.”

Neve, in her mid-forties, married for twenty years, was a character that engendered in me a lot of empathy. Although she did commit adultery, the authors made the reader completely understand the reasons for her actions.

The settings were clearly depicted. Neve, who traveled everywhere by bicycle, was overcome by a life that was careening out of control.

“Her secret was like a monstrous thing, growing bloated in the dark.”

The plot was clever, as was the writing. The police in the story were described in such a way that you could feel Neve’s heart rate speed up whenever they came in contact.

This is a domestic thriller that truly lives up to the label. Suspenseful, well-written, and very fast-paced, the story has themes of adultery, marriage, friendship, parental love, and of course… secrets and lies.

Highly recommended!

I received a digital copy of “The Lying Room” from the publisher, William Morrow/Harper Collins via Edelweiss.

Available for purchase on October 1, 2019

432 pages

ISBN 9780062676726

Nicci French is pen name of English authors Nicci Gerrard and Sean French, who write psychological thriller novels together. Gerrard and French were married in 1990. They write separately and then re-write each other’s work. Both authors have also written solo novels.  They live in Suffolk and London, England. Together, they have written 21 books.

Posted in Book Reviews, Edelweiss, Page turners, Psychological thrillers | Tagged , , , , , | 9 Comments

Q&A with Jeff Richards author of “Lady Killer” – Guest Post #authorinterview

Lady Killerby Jeff Richards

Published 2019 by Main Street Rag
ISBN 9781599487380


Mitch Lovett, a recently divorced father of two, wasn’t looking for anything serious—but when he fooled around with an old friend, Dee Wynn, serious was what he got. Dee has decided that Mitch will be hers and nothing is going to stand in her way. But Gail, another member of their college group (and now their babysitting co-op), has had her eye on Mitch as well—nevermind the fact that she’s married to a jealous, abusive husband who just happens to have received a new gun for his birthday. When Mitch and Gail consummate their long-standing attraction—recklessly following their heart’s desires—they set into motion a series of events with ultimately tragic consequences for all involved.

Set in Takoma Park (a close-knit liberal community that borders Washington, D.C.) among a group of college friends now raising families together, Lady Killer explores spousal abuse and the ways that both long-standing friendships and marriages can unravel when put to the test. Ultimately, both Mitch and Gail will have to decide who they really are and what they really want—both for themselves and their children. 

Q&A with Jeff Richards

Why do you imply in your novel that it “takes a village” to commit a murder?

Ultimately, the responsibility for a murder belongs with the murderer alone. But a murderer does not live in a vacuum. In Lady Killer, I try to show the inevitability of the murder through the actions of others. Mitch Lovett, a recently divorced dad of two, carries on two affairs at once with old college friends, Dee Wynn, a single hard driving executive who will not take no for an answer, and Gail Strickland, who has given up her career to raise a child with an abusive husband–who happened to have received a new gun for his birthday. The murderer was a high school jock who was sidelined by a college injury. He is like O.J. Simpson. He never lost his sense of entitlement. His respect in the community, in the baby sitting co-op where he, his wife, and Mitch are members, is at an all-time low. Mix in a few accidents here and there, some bad luck, and a woman who will not take no for answer, and you have a recipe for disaster.

What are you trying to suggest about responsibility in the book?

I am trying to suggest that we are not only responsible for our behavior, but the effect our behavior might have on others. When Mitch and Gail consummate their long-standing attraction – recklessly following their heart’s desires – they set into motion a series of events with tragic consequences. They know beforehand what those consequences might be. They might bruise the murderer’s ego. The murderer, in turn, will end the life of the victim and drastically alter the lives of friends and family, even the community where the victim lives. I guess what I am saying is that you have more power than you think so it’s a good idea that you think ahead before you do something. I guess I’m a pragmatist.

You are trying to deal with a lot of issues in this story such as gun control, abuse, and male anger. What is the purpose of bringing all these issues together and are there other themes that inform this novel?

In Lady Killer, the killer is a bully. He tries to get people to do what he wants them to do through intimidation. I suggest that he learned this behavior through his father. He is angry because, in the end, you can’t always get what you want, especially when you’re dealing with other people–in this case, his wife. This leads to spousal abuse, which leads to more male anger. It’s a vicious cycle. Perhaps, the killer needs to attend anger management classes as Mitch Lovett suggests. But the killer, being who he is, would refuse to attend. It would be a sign of weakness. Besides, the killer is a hunter. He has a collection of guns that he keeps under lock and key. He is a scary guy and everyone is afraid of him. So what do you do? You can take away his guns, you can force him into treatment, or both. Since he hasn’t done anything yet, there is not much you can do under the present system of laws to stop his murderous intents.

Why set the story in a babysitting co-op?

My wife and I belonged to a baby sitting co-op when our kids were toddlers. Many of the adult members were born and raised in Takoma Park as well as attended Blair High School and the University of Maryland. Some married spouses from the community. Some from outside. I thought what a perfect hothouse for shenanigans. There was actually a murder in our community involving one Blair graduate murdering another over sleeping with his wife. What I didn’t count on until I was well into the book was how perfectly the baby-sitting co-op fit into the overarching theme of personal responsibility. One of the important jobs of parents is to teach their child how to be civilized. One of the child-rearing theories floating around when my kids were preschoolers was the Theory of Consequences. You teach your kids the consequences for their actions. For instance, your kid doesn’t want to wear his shoes outside. So you let him go outside barefoot. He hurts himself. He learns the consequences of his action. He won’t go outside barefoot again. (Fat chance!) In these ways kids are mini-adults. They may have problems with concepts and for that reason they may persist in actions that have bad consequences. Adults, on the other hand, may understand concepts but they may persist in actions that have bad consequences as well out of pure cussedness, anger, or any other number of reasons. It’s like the blind leading the blind.

Thrilling Short Novels of 2019

If you like a little suspense in your life—“little” being the operative word here—then here’s a list of both already-published and forthcoming Thrilling Short Novels of 2019 to get your quick fix in 200 pages or less.

 The Test by Sylvain Neuvel (Tor/Forge, February 2019, 112 pages)

By the award-winning author of Sleeping Giants, The Test explores a British immigration dystopia and was described in one Goodreads review as “basically a Black Mirror episode in novella format.” Color me intrigued.

 Will Williams by Namwali Serpell (Amazon Original Stories, June 2019, 20 pages)

This 20-page retelling of Edgar Allan Poe’s William Wilson is part of Disorder, a “collection of six short stories of living nightmares, chilling visions, and uncanny imagination that explore a world losing its balance in terrifying ways” available for free on Kindle Unlimited.

 Lady Killer by Jeff Richards (Main Street Rag, October 2019, 160 pages)

Lady Killer is on my TBR list, as I recently received an ARC from the author’s publicist. It follows a group of long-time friends who formed a babysitting co-op called The Stork Club that is starting to fall to pieces thanks to the entangled web of lies and deceit the members are weaving around themselves. Excited to sink my teeth into this one!

Looker by Laura Sims (Scribner, January 2019, 192 pages)

A psychological thriller, Looker focuses on a woman who is obsessed with her neighbor, an actress. And if we’ve learned anything from books like The Girl on the Train, this type of obsession never leads anywhere good!

Diary of a Murderer: And Other Stories by Young-ha Kim (Mariner Books, April 2019, 208 pages)

Okay, so this goes over the page limit by eight pages, but since this is a collection of short stories it still counts. Reading a short story about a serial killer with memory loss is enticing enough, but there are other stories in this collection that I’m sure will prove just as interesting!

Post submitted to Fictionophile by Jessie Glenn (Director, Mindbuck Media Book Publicity)

Posted in author interviews, Guest post, Novellas, Suspense | Tagged | Leave a comment

“The Hunting Party” by Lucy Foley – Book Review

“Some people, given just the right amount of pressure, taken out of their usual, comfortable environments, don’t need much encouragement at all to become monsters.”

“There is something unnerving about the isolation, knowing how far we are from everything.”

Seven university friends come together at Loch Corrin, a remote inn in the highlands of Scotland on an estate of fifty thousand acres. It is year end 2018 and they intend to see the New Year in together as is their usual custom.

Miranda and Julien Adams – Never overly clever, Miranda uses her looks and bold behavior to manipulate others. Back at Oxford University, Miranda was the gregarious one. The life of the party. Beautiful, she could have any man she chose. Her choice was Julien, a handsome stock trader with an overwhelming need to be liked by everyone.

Katie Lewis – Back in university, Katie was the quiet one. A friend of Miranda, she was always in Miranda’s shadow. Now, in her early thirties, she is a corporate lawyer in London. Busy at work, she has less time for Miranda than she once did.

Emma and Mark – Mark was a member of the original group of Oxford uni friends and now works in advertising. Emma, his girlfriend of only the past three years is late joining the group and often feels like an interloper… In an effort to fit in, Emma emulates Miranda in dress and makeup. She is the one who organized this year’s holiday and she is a good organizer and an excellent cook. She works for a literary agency.

Samira and Giles – Giles is the clown of the group, always fooling around to entertain his friends. Giles now works as a doctor. Samira, once a fun-loving daredevil, is now a mother to a six-month old baby girl and has settled down into motherhood.

Nick and Bo – (the only gay couple in the group) Nick Manson was at Oxford with the others and now works as an architect. His partner, Bo, is an American now working for the BBC.

“That’s the thing about old friends, isn’t it? Sometimes they don’t even realize that they no longer have anything in common. That maybe they don’t even like each other anymore.”

The employees of the Inn at Loch Corrin:

Heather – a former paramedic, Heather has experienced great loss in her life and has come to Loch Corrin to get away from all the people she once knew. She treats the remote estate as her refuge, relishing her solitude.

Doug – handsome, rugged, solitary, and an ex-marine. Doug has had a traumatic past, one he doesn’t want to share with anyone… he feels he is a bad person. Although attracted to Heather, he will never act upon his feelings because he feels that she should be protected from him.  Doug has severe migraines and occasionally experiences fugue states. He becomes conscious not knowing what he might have done when he suffers these blackouts…. He now works as the gamekeeper at Loch Corrin.

Iain – Unlike Doug and Heather, Iain does not live on the estate. He travels to work from a small neighbouring village. He works as a handyman.

For me, there is nothing like a murder mystery/thriller set in a remote location. The whole closed environment, the limited number of possible killers…

Lucy Foley’s “The Hunting Party” ticked all the boxes for me. A remote Scottish setting made even more isolated by a winter snowstorm. A circle of university friends that have little in common anymore but are trying to maintain the facade/habit of friendship. Two damaged and solitary characters who run the inn in which the story takes place.

And of course, a murder. Just who is the victim – we wait a fair while to find out. Then who could have killed? Could it be one of their own?

The writing held me entranced. “There is a silence here that is different to the silence on the rest of the estate. It’s like a held breath. It feels – as clichéd as this might sound – as though we are not alone. As though something, someone, is watching us.”

The setting and the isolation made for a tense and atmospheric feel. So many characters, yet it didn’t take long to discern one from another due to the excellent, concise, characterization. The friend dynamic is always so interesting. What makes one person befriend another? Is there always a ‘leader’ and a ‘follower’? Is this healthy? Do you ever really know your friends? Or, do you only know what they choose to share with you?

The plot moved along at a good pace and contained more than a few twists. All plausible, so all the more enjoyable.

Secrets, lies, betrayals, “The Hunting Party” had them all – in spades.  Highly recommended!

I received a complimentary digital copy of “The Hunting Party” from William Morrow/Harper Collins via Edelweiss.

  • ISBN: 9780062868909
  • Imprint: William Morrow
  • Pages: 336

Lucy Foley studied English Literature at Durham and UCL universities and worked for several years as a fiction editor in the publishing industry, before leaving to write full-time. The Hunting Party is her debut crime novel, inspired by a particularly remote spot in Scotland that fired her imagination.

Lucy is also the author of three historical novels, which have been translated into sixteen languages. Her journalism has appeared in ES Magazine, Sunday Times Style, Grazia and more.

An avid painter, Lucy now writes full time and lives in London, England.

Follow Lucy Foley on Twitter

Posted in Book Reviews, Edelweiss | Tagged , , , | 16 Comments

Books on my TBR that have an autumn ‘vibe’

Autumn is my favourite time of the year. The fall colours, the crisp air, wearing sweaters, and of course… reading snuggled up under a lovely afghan.

I was scanning my Goodreads TBR and noticed that several of the books on my TBR have covers that give off an autumn vibe.  So, I thought I’d share them with you with the thought that perhaps you were looking for something to read during this glorious season. The publication dates of these titles span from 2006 to 2019.

If I should die” by Matthew Frank

first published in 2014

It begins with vicious, apparently motiveless attacks on down and outs in South London. But when one of the homeless victims dies from his wounds, it’s murder . . .

For the investigation team’s youngest member, Trainee Detective Joseph Stark, death is already all too familiar. Injured in an attack that killed his colleagues, Afghan veteran Stark has enough on his hands just trying to recover without enduring the scrutiny and sideways glances of his new colleagues. The drink and painkillers he’s leaning on to keep him going aren’t helping. And there’s only so long he can ignore the efforts of the military police to speak to him.

When one of the victims fights back it soon becomes clear that there’s much more at stake than gangs preying randomly on society’s weakest members. But as he edges closer to the truth – and to the rotten heart of the crimes – Stark’s own strength is fading. It seems that the ex-soldier’s formidable determination to see justice done may not, this time, be enough to carry him through.

River Bodies” by Karen Katchur

first published 2018

A body just turned up in the small town of Portland, Pennsylvania. The crime is eerily similar to a twenty-year-old cold case: another victim, brutally murdered, found in the Delaware River. Lead detective Parker Reed is intent on connecting the two murders, but the locals are on lockdown, revealing nothing.

The past meets the present when Becca Kingsley, who returns to Portland to be with her estranged but dying father, runs into Parker, her childhood love. As the daughter of the former police chief, Becca’s quickly drawn into the case. Coming home has brought something ominous to the surface – memories long buried, secrets best kept hidden. Becca starts questioning all her past relationships, including one with a man who’s watched over her for years. For the first time, she wonders if he’s more predator than protector.

In a small town where darkness hides in plain sight, the truth could change Becca’s life – or end it.

To the Power of Three” by Laura Lippman

first published 2005

Josie, Perri, and Kat have been best friends since third grade—the athlete, the drama queen, and the popular beauty. Growing up in an affluent suburb of Baltimore, they enjoy privileges many teenagers are denied. But on the final day of school one of them brings a gun with her. And when the police break down the door of the high school girls’ bathroom, locked from the inside, they find two of the friends wounded, one of them critically . . . and the third girl is dead.

From multiple-award winner Laura Lippman, one of the most acclaimed authors of crime fiction writing today, comes a tale of secrets, friendship, and betrayal that illuminates a dark and chilling event with clarity and empathy.

A Friend of Silence” by M. Lee Prescott

first published 2011

What safer haven could there be than a Quaker boarding school in a tiny New England coastal village? What secrets lie beneath its serene and quiet beauty?

Out of the blue, the campus is laid open, the peace of Old Harbor Friends shattered by the murder of lascivious, comptroller, Milt Wickie. Wickie is discovered in his office, a scrimshaw knife protruding from his chest, a knife belonging to beloved teacher and grieving widow, Bess Dore. Initially a suspect, the forty-two year old, Bess is soon exonerated and jumps headlong into a murder investigation along with old flame, police detective, Roger Demaris, and Harry Winthrop, an amateur sleuth, prolific writer, and the son of the school’s wealthiest patron. Will Bess find romance along the way, giving her heart to the gruff police officer, who still adores her, or to the fly-by-night, but charming Harry who is clearly smitten? Will the killer strike again? Will the silence and calm of the 200-year old Friends school ever again be restored?

The Cottingley Secret” by Hazel Gaynor

first published 2017

1917… It was inexplicable, impossible, but it had to be true—didn’t it? When two young cousins, Frances Griffiths and Elsie Wright from Cottingley, England, claim to have photographed fairies at the bottom of the garden, their parents are astonished. But when one of the great novelists of the time, Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, becomes convinced of the photographs’ authenticity, the girls become a national sensation, their discovery offering hope to those longing for something to believe in amid a world ravaged by war. Frances and Elsie will hide their secret for many decades. But Frances longs for the truth to be told.

One hundred years later… When Olivia Kavanagh finds an old manuscript in her late grandfather’s bookshop she becomes fascinated by the story it tells of two young girls who mystified the world. But it is the discovery of an old photograph that leads her to realize how the fairy girls’ lives intertwine with hers, connecting past to present, and blurring her understanding of what is real and what is imagined. As she begins to understand why a nation once believed in fairies, can Olivia find a way to believe in herself?

Bring Her Home” by David Bell

first published 2017

The fate of two missing teenage girls becomes a father’s worst nightmare….

Just a year and a half after the tragic death of his wife, Bill Price’s fifteen-year-old daughter, Summer, and her best friend, Haley, disappear. Days later, the girls are found in a city park. Haley is dead at the scene, while Summer is left beaten beyond recognition and clinging to life.

As Bill holds vigil over Summer’s bandaged body, the only sound the unconscious girl can make is one cryptic and chilling word: No. And the more time Bill spends with Summer, the more he wonders what happened to her. Or if the injured girl in the hospital bed is really his daughter at all.

When troubling new questions about Summer’s life surface, Bill is not prepared for the aftershocks. He’ll soon discover that both the living and the dead have secrets. And that searching for the truth will tear open old wounds that pierce straight to the heart of his family…

The Headmaster’s Wife” by Thomas Christopher Greene

first published 2014

Like his father before him, Arthur Winthrop is the Headmaster of Vermont’s elite Lancaster School. It is the place he feels has given him his life, but is also the site of his undoing as events spiral out of his control. Found wandering naked in Central Park, he begins to tell his story to the police, but his memories collide into one another, and the true nature of things, a narrative of love, of marriage, of family and of a tragedy Arthur does not know how to address emerges.

Luminous and atmospheric, bringing to life the tight-knit enclave of a quintessential New England boarding school, the novel is part mystery, part love story and an exploration of the ties of place and family. Beautifully written and compulsively readable, The Headmaster’s Wife stands as a moving elegy to the power of love as an antidote to grief.

Something Wicked” by Kerry Wilkinson

first published 2014

Nicholas Carr disappeared on his 18th birthday and the world has moved on. His girlfriend has gone to university, his friends have got jobs, the police have other things to look into.

But his father, Richard, is still stuck on the three fingers the police dug up from a sodden Manchester wood. What happened to Nicholas on the night he disappeared and why did he never come home?

Private investigator Andrew Hunter is Nicholas’s last hope – but Andrew has his own problems. There’s something about his assistant that isn’t quite right. Jenny’s brilliant but reckless and he can’t work out what she gets from their working relationship. By the time he figures out who’s a danger and who’s not, it might all be too late…

Bitter River” by Julia Keller

first published 2013

Phone calls before dawn are never good news. Especially when you’re a prosecuting attorney in a small Appalachian town. Still, Bell Elkins is not prepared for this: sixteen-year-old Lucinda Trimble’s body has been found at the bottom of Bitter River. And Lucinda didn’t drown–she was dead before her body ever hit the water.

With a case like this, Bell knows the coming weeks are going to be tough. But that’s not all Bell is coping with these days. Her daughter is now living with Bell’s ex-husband, hours away. Sheriff Nick Fogelsong, one of Bell’s closest friends, is behaving oddly. And a face from her past has resurfaced for reasons Bell can’t quite figure. Searching for the truth, both behind Lucinda’s murder and her own complicated relationships, is leading Bell down a path that might put her very life at risk.

Under an English Heaven” by Alice K. Boatwright

first published 2014

When Ellie Kent moves to an English village with her new husband Graham, she fears the villagers will always see her as that young American who snared their attractive vicar during his sabbatical in California. But this challenge is nothing compared to what happens when she stumbles across a body in the churchyard. The villagers insist they don’t know the murdered man, so suspicion mounts that the killer must be the incomer – the vicar’s new wife. As evidence piles up against her, Ellie tries to stay one step ahead of the police to unravel a decades-old literary mystery and love story. Will others die before she can solve it? And what will be left of her new life and marriage, even if she succeeds?

Crossbones Yard” by Kate Rhodes

first published 2012

Introducing Alice Quentin, a London psychologist with family baggage, who finds herself at the center of a grisly series of murders

Alice Quentin is a psychologist with some painful family secrets, but she has a good job, a good-looking boyfriend, and excellent coping skills, even when that job includes evaluating a convicted killer who’s about to be released from prison. One of the highlights of her day is going for a nice, long run around her beloved London—it’s impossible to fret or feel guilty about your mother or brother when you’re concentrating on your breathing—until she stumbles upon a dead body at a former graveyard for prostitutes, Crossbones Yard.

The dead woman’s wounds are alarmingly similar to the signature style of Ray and Marie Benson, who tortured and killed thirteen women before they were caught and sent to jail. Five of their victims were never found. That was six years ago, and the last thing Alice wants to do is to enter the sordid world of the Bensons or anyone like them. But when the police ask for her help in building a psychological profile of the new murderer, she finds that the killer—and the danger to her and the people she cares about—may already be closer than she ever imagined.

The Bones of You” by Debbie Howells

first published 2015

When Kate receives a phone call with news that Rosie Anderson is missing, she’s stunned and disturbed. Rosie is eighteen, the same age as Kate’s daughter, and a beautiful, quiet, and kind young woman. Though the locals are optimistic—girls like Rosie don’t get into real trouble—Kate’s sense of foreboding is confirmed when Rosie is found fatally beaten and stabbed.

Who would kill the perfect daughter, from the perfect family? Yet the more Kate entwines herself with the Andersons—graceful mother Jo, renowned journalist father Neal, watchful younger sister Delphine—the more she is convinced that not everything is as it seems. Anonymous notes arrive, urging Kate to unravel the tangled threads of Rosie’s life and death, though she has no idea where they will lead.

Weaving flashbacks from Rosie’s perspective into a tautly plotted narrative, The Bones of You is a gripping, haunting novel of sacrifices and lies, desperation and love.

Trace of Evil” by Alice Blanchard

first published 2019

Natalie Lockhart always knew she was going to be a cop. A rookie detective on the Burning Lake police force, she was raised on the wisdom of her chief-of-police father. These cases will haunt you if you let them. Grief doesn’t come with instructions.

But the one thing her father couldn’t teach her was how to handle loss. Natalie’s beloved sister was viciously murdered as a teenager, and she carries the scars deep in her heart. Although the killer was locked up, the trace evidence never added up, and Natalie can’t help wondering―is the past really behind her?

As the newest member on the force, Natalie is tasked with finding nine missing persons who’ve vanished off the face of the earth, dubbed “the Missing Nine.” One night, while following up on a new lead, she comes across a savage crime that will change everything.

Daisy Buckner―a popular schoolteacher, wife to a cop, and newly pregnant―lies dead on her kitchen floor. As Natalie hunts for Daisy’s killer in the wake of the town’s shock, her search leads to a string of strange clues―about the Missing Nine, about Daisy’s secret life, and reviving fresh doubts about her sister’s murder.

As the investigation deepens, Natalie’s every move risks far-reaching consequences―for the victims, for the town of Burning Lake, and for herself.

Out in the Country” by Kate Hewitt

first published 2012

Widowed a year ago, Lynne Marshall believes she’s ready to start a new chapter in life. She plans to exchange the bright lights of Manhattan for her home country of Scotland and open a country hotel with her childhood friend Jess and her fiancé Rob. Her daughter Molly will manage the home front as she starts her first year of teaching in one of the city’s toughest schools. When those plans are suddenly and tragically ruined, both Lynne and Jess are left shaken–and unsure what the future holds for either of them.

A weekend trip to Lynne’s husband’s home town in rural Vermont brings new opportunities, decisions, and a second chance at love for both Lynne and Jess… if they dare to risk their hearts again. Meanwhile Molly faces difficult choices of her own, and must decide where her heart truly lies.

The Bourbon Thief” by Tiffany Reisz

first published 2016

Betrayal, revenge and a family scandal that bore a 150-year-old mystery

When Cooper McQueen wakes up from a night with a beautiful stranger, it’s to discover he’s been robbed. The only item stolen–a million-dollar bottle of bourbon. The thief, a mysterious woman named Paris, claims the bottle is rightfully hers. After all, the label itself says it’s property of the Maddox family who owned and operated the Red Thread Bourbon distillery since the last days of the Civil War, until the company went out of business for reasons no one knows… No one except Paris.

In the small hours of a Louisville morning, Paris unspools the lurid tale of Tamara Maddox, heiress to the distillery that became an empire. Theirs is a legacy of wealth and power, but also of lies, secrets and sins of omission. Why Paris wants the bottle of Red Thread remains a secret until the truth of her identity is at last revealed, and the century-old vengeance Tamara vowed against her family can finally be completed.

The Next Time You See Me” by Holly Goddard Jones

first published 2013

Thirteen-year-old Emily Houchens doesn’t have many friends. She finds more comfort playing make-believe in the woods near her house in Roma, Kentucky, than with her classmates, who find her strange and awkward. When she happens upon a dead body hidden in the woods one day, she decides not to tell anyone about her discovery—a choice that begins to haunt her.

Susanna Mitchell has always been a good girl, the dutiful daughter and wife. While her older sister Ronnie trolled bars for men and often drove home at sunrise, Susanna kept a neat house, a respectable job, a young daughter. But when Ronnie goes missing, and Susanna realizes that she’s the only person in Roma who truly cares about her sister’s fate, she starts to question her quiet life and its value.

The Next Time You See Me is the story of how one woman’s disappearance exposes the ambitions, prejudices, and anxieties of a small southern town and its residents, who are all connected, sometimes in unexpected ways. Emily; Susannah; Tony, a failed baseball star-turned-detective, aspiring to be the county’s first black sheriff; and Wyatt, a fifty-five-year-old factory worker tormented by a past he can’t change and by a love he doesn’t think he deserves. Their stories converge in a violent climax that reveals not just the mystery of what happened to Ronnie but all of their secret selves.

The Little Red Chairs” by Edna O’Brien

first published 2015

When a wanted war criminal, masquerading as a healer, settles in a small west coast Irish village, the community are in thrall. One woman, Fidelma McBride, falls under his spell and in this searing novel, Edna O’Brien charts the consequence of that fatal attraction. This is a story about love, the artifice of evil and the terrible necessity of accountability in our shattered, damaged world.

Talking to the Dead” by Harry Bingham

first published 2012

At first, the murder scene appears sad, but not unusual: a young woman undone by drugs and prostitution, her six-year-old daughter dead alongside her. But then detectives find a strange piece of evidence in the squalid house: the platinum credit card of a very wealthy—and long dead—steel tycoon. What is a heroin-addicted hooker doing with the credit card of a well-known and powerful man who died months ago? This is the question that the most junior member of the investigative team, Detective Constable Fiona Griffiths, is assigned to answer.

But D.C. Griffiths is no ordinary cop. She’s earned a reputation at police headquarters in Cardiff, Wales, for being odd, for not picking up on social cues, for being a little over intense. And there’s that gap in her past, the two-year hiatus that everyone assumes was a breakdown. But Fiona is a crack investigator, quick and intuitive. She is immediately drawn to the crime scene, and to the tragic face of the six-year-old girl, who she is certain has something to tell her . . . something that will break the case wide open.

Ignoring orders and protocol, Fiona begins to explore far beyond the rich man’s credit card and into the secrets of her seaside city. And when she uncovers another dead prostitute, Fiona knows that she’s only begun to scratch the surface of a dark world of crime and murder. But the deeper she digs, the more danger she risks—not just from criminals and killers but from her own past . . . and the abyss that threatens to pull her back at any time.

Have you read any of these titles?

Do any of them pique your interest?

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“The Girl I Used To Be” by Mary Torjussen – Book Review

Gemma Brogan, in her late twenties, is married and the mother of a three-year-old son, Rory. She owns and runs her own estate agency in Chester, England. Life is pretty good, though she laments not having more time to spend with her son. The real estate business is not as successful as it once was due to a downturn in the economy –  therefore she spends every spare minute at the office. She is the breadwinner of the family because Joe is a ‘house husband’ who stays at home to care for their young son.

Gemma met her husband Joe via her best friend Caitlin. Joe is Caitlin’s elder brother.

“The only people I wanted to talk to were the ones who mustn’t know what was going on.”

Because of this interpersonal dynamic, Gemma feels that she has no one to talk to once she realizes that she is being blackmailed… Instead she tells lie after lie – sinking herself into a situation that becomes untenable.

I had high expectations of this novel after reading Mary Torjussen’s “Gone Without A Trace” back in 2017. That book was a five star read for me and I anticipated another stellar story. Sadly, this novel did not live up to its predecessor in my humble opinion.

Although Gemma Brogan WAS the victim in the story, I just couldn’t warm to her. I found her to be self-centered, whingy, naive, and just a tad imprudent. Her behavior, and the behavior of some of the other characters just didn’t seem plausible.

I quite liked the Chester setting.

The story did have enough plot twists to please the thriller lovers who appreciate them. I personally just thought that they were ever so slightly ‘over the top’. Also, oftentimes, I found that the character’s reactions to events in the plot were just not believable. The internal dialogue of the protagonist was repetitive and I longed for her to ‘grow a pair‘.

In short, I would recommend this thriller with some reservations. The reader should be able to suspend belief and not take the logic of the story too seriously. This is a novel of secrets, lies, betrayals and revenge.

The ending was neatly tied up – but again, I found it to be implausible. I realize I am in the minority when it comes to my opinions of this book, so I urge you to read it and make your own decisions.

I received a complimentary digital copy of this novel from Berkley/Penguin Random House via Edelweiss.

ISBN: 9780399585036

368 pages



Mary Torjussen  has an MA in Creative Writing from Liverpool John Moores University and worked for several years as a teacher before becoming a full-time writer.

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Posted in Book Reviews, Edelweiss, Psychological thrillers | Tagged , , , | 11 Comments