Death in Dulwich [blog tour review]


Death in Dulwich

Today I’m reviewing the first in the London Murder Mysteries series, Death in Dulwich! Read on to find out more and see what I thought…


Title: Death in Dulwich
Author: Alice Castle
Series: The London Murder Mysteries series

[Synopsis]

Thirty-something single mum Beth Haldane is forced to become Dulwich’s answer to Miss Marple when she stumbles over a murder victim on her first day at work. To clear her name, Beth is plunged into a cozy mystery that’s a contemporary twist on Golden Age crime classics. But can she pull it off? She already has a bouncy young son, haughty cat, a fringe with a mind of its own and lots of bills to pay, as she struggles to keep up with the yummy mummies of SE21. Join Beth in #1 of the London Murder Mystery series, as she discovers the nastiest secrets can lurk in the nicest places.

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[My Review]

Death in Dulwich is a sweet, enjoyable read which makes a refreshing change from the darker, more violent crime novels I often read. It combines all the elements of a cozy mystery that you’d expect (if you’re not familiar with the term, I’ll attempt to sum up some of the sub-genre’s tropes for you: amateur sleuths; small, countryside or isolated settings; and a lack of real violence portrayed, or at least not explicitly – often if there is any, it’s inferred).

The characters in this novel make it such a fun read – protagonist Beth is very likable and seems really sweet; you’re rooting for her to figure it all out, even if she can seem a little naïve at times, along with her friend Katie – and even slightly condescending detective York is quite a pleasant character.

Of course, there are the ‘dark sheeps’ of the story too – I won’t give anything away, but going along for the journey with Beth makes for an enjoyable, surprisingly relaxing story! If you’re expecting a dark, shocking, and gritty read then this isn’t for you, but otherwise give this a go -– this looks to be the first in a promising new series which I’d like to read more of.

[Rating: 4/5]

Many thanks to Rachel Gilbey for providing a e-copy of this novel on which I chose to write an honest and unbiased review.


[About the Author]

Before turning to crime, Alice Castle was a UK newspaper journalist for The Daily Express, The Times and The Daily Telegraph. Her first book, Hot Chocolate, set in Brussels and London, was a European hit and sold out in two weeks.

Death in Dulwich was published in September 2017 and has been a number one best-seller in the UK, US, Canada, France, Spain and Germany. A sequel, The Girl in the Gallery was published in December 2017 to critical acclaim. Calamity in Camberwell, the third book in the London Murder Mystery series, will be published this summer, with Homicide in Herne Hill due to follow in early 2019. Alice is currently working on the fifth London Murder Mystery adventure. Once again, it will feature Beth Haldane and DI Harry York.

Alice is also a mummy blogger and book reviewer via her website:
https://www.alicecastleauthor.com. Why not join her on Facebook and Twitter, too!


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The Craftsman [review]

The Craftsman

Title: The Craftsman
Author: Sharon Bolton
Publisher: Trapeze

[Synopsis]

Catching him will make her career – and change her forever. 

August, 1999 
On the hottest day of the year, Assistant Commissioner Florence Lovelady attends the funeral of Larry Glassbrook, the convicted murderer she arrested thirty years earlier. A master carpenter and funeral director, Larry imprisoned his victims, alive, in the caskets he made himself. Clay effigies found entombed with their bodies suggested a motive beyond the worst human depravity.

June, 1969 
13-year- old Patsy Wood has been missing for two days, the third teenager to disappear in as many months. New to the Lancashire police force and struggling to fit in, WPC Lovelady is sent to investigate an unlikely report from school children claiming to have heard a voice calling for help. A voice from deep within a recent grave.

August, 1999 
As she tries to lay her ghosts to rest, Florence is drawn back to the Glassbrooks’ old house, in the shadow of Pendle Hill, where she once lodged with the family. She is chilled by the discovery of another effigy – one bearing a remarkable resemblance to herself. Is the killer still at large? Is Florence once again in terrible danger? Or, this time, could the fate in store be worse than even her darkest imaginings?

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[My Review]

I’ve only read one other novel by Sharon Bolton (Little Black Lies, which I really enjoyed – read my review here) and that was a while ago, so I wasn’t sure what to expect from this. I soon found myself completely drawn into this atmospheric, well-written mystery/crime/thriller novel.

One of the things that set this apart again other novels for me was the fact that the majority of the storyline is set in the late 1960’s, and so you see the way women police officers were treated at that time and the hurdles they had to overcome to be taken seriously in the force. It’s such an interesting topic to read about, and I also enjoyed seeing police investigation techniques from back then as opposed to those used in modern-day investigations, which crime novels tend to focus on. It seems crazy to think of a female police officer being treated in this way nowadays – and I don’t mean she was necessarily treated in the worst way ever, but just dismissed and not taken seriously purely because of her gender. Florence is such a great, strong-minded character and I loved reading about her – in fact, I wanted there to be a series so I could read more about her!

The story itself is gripping, and occasionally switches between the time of the initial investigation, and the ‘present day’ narrative (which is actually 1999). There is a touch of the mystical / magical about it, which I’m not usually a fan of in this genre, but Sharon Bolton pulls it all together so well that it didn’t hinder my enjoyment of the book at all.

There are creepy moments and things that make you think twice, and file them away for later (which I loved!). I hugely enjoyed this novel and would recommend to anyone looking for a smart, wonderfully crafted (sorry!) crime novel.

[Rating: 4/5]

Many thanks to the publisher, Trapeze, for providing a copy of this novel on which I chose to write an honest and unbiased review.

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The Next Girl [review]

The Next Girl - Carla Kovach

Title: The Next Girl 
Author: Carla Kovac
Series: Detective Gina Harte (#1)
Publisher: Bookouture

[Synopsis]

She thought he’d come to save her. She was wrong.

Deborah Jenkins pulls her coat around her as she sets out on her short walk home in the pouring rain. But she never makes it home that night. And she is never seen again …

Four years later, an abandoned baby girl is found wrapped in dirty rags on a doorstep. An anonymous phone call urges the police to run a DNA test on the baby. But nobody is prepared for the results.

The newborn belongs to Deborah. She’s still alive.

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[My Review]

What a gripping, tense start to a new detective series which looks set to be a new favourite! Although it focuses on Detective Gina Harte, the book didn’t feel like your average crime novel – though a lot of it fits the ‘police procedural’ format (which, I should point out, I am a big fan of, so nothing to complain about there), a good portion of the story also takes place from the victim’s point of view and from that of missing person Deborah Jenkins’ husband, and this adds a fresh take on the story and, to me, makes it more of a crime thriller – and a really engaging one at that!

Gina herself is a great character – she has her faults and quirks but she adds a lot of interest to the story. The Next Girl is also a stark reminder of how hard the police have to fight to run certain tests; it really highlights the pressure they’re under due to cuts in funding which I found very interesting (though worrying too, of course, as I am aware this element is sadly not complete fiction).

I loved the way the story cuts between different people; it keeps you guessing and reading on, and add that extra element of who exactly is telling the truth. It has just the right balance between action, threat, and fast-paced detective work – all wrapped up into a great start to an exciting and promising new crime series!

[Rating: 4/5]

Many thanks to Bookouture for providing a copy of this novel on which I chose to write an honest and unbiased review.

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Deadly Secrets by @RobertBryndza [review] @bookouture

Deadly Secrets - Robert Bryndza

Title: Deadly Secrets
Author: Robert Bryndza
Series: Detective Erika Foster (#6)
Publisher: Bookouture

[Synopsis]

To commit the perfect murder, you need the perfect cover.

On a cold icy morning, a mother wakes to find her daughter’s blood-soaked body frozen to the road. Who would carry out such a horrific killing on the victim’s doorstep?

Straight off her last harrowing case, Detective Erika Foster is feeling fragile but determined to lead the investigation. As she sets to work, she finds reports of assaults in the same quiet South London suburb where the woman was killed. One chilling detail links them to the murder victim – they were all attacked by a figure in black wearing a gas mask.

Erika is on the hunt for a killer with a terrifying calling card. The case gets more complicated when she uncovers a tangled web of secrets surrounding the death of the beautiful young woman.

Yet just as Erika begins to piece the clues together, she is forced to confront painful memories of her past. Erika must dig deep, stay focused and find the killer. Only this time, one of her own is in terrible danger…

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[My Review]

Another fantastic, well-written release from Robert Bryndza and the Detective Erika Foster series, which has quickly climbed to one of my favourite detective/ crime series, and which never fails to draw me into Erika’s world so completely. I know once I pick up a novel in this series I won’t be able to do anything else until I’ve finished it!

As well as lots of gripping investigation and police work, plus glimpses into the life of a disturbing killer, we also see a bit more of Erika’s soft side as she helps her father in law and deals with some surprising news from a certain someone…

I love the police procedural element of the story – as always the plot is gripping, tight and excellently written, with the perfect mix of personal elements surrounding Erika’s team and the police work itself.

Deadly Secrets could be read as a stand-alone, but with five previous (brilliant) novels to get stuck into, I recommend starting from the beginning so you know as much as possible about Erika and her background, as this only enhances each story!

[Rating: 5/5]

Many thanks to Bookouture for providing a copy of this novel on which I chose to write an honest and unbiased review.

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Briguella by @AuthorVickiFitz [review]

Briguella - Vicki Fitzgerald

Title: Briguella
Author: Vicki Fitzgerald
Publisher: Creativia

[Synopsis]

After seven women fall victim to a serial killer, journalist Kate Rivendale becomes embroiled in the manhunt. The authorities have no suspect, only one forensic link dating way back to the 1930s.

Detective Chief Inspector William Beckley needs to salvage his career; he has too many deaths on his conscience. Beckley entices Kate to go undercover, a decision which backfires with devastating consequences.

While DCI Beckley reaches a horrifying conclusion about the murderer Kate enters a desperate fight for her life… while battling to keep her own secrets buried.

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[My Review]

Briguella is a gripping crime debut from Vicki Fitzgerald, an author I’ll certainly be following!

The novel itself has two main narrators: DCI William Beckley and reporter Kate Rivendale, and having both of these characters tell us their side of the story means the readers gets just the right blend of police procedural elements and ‘non-police’ actions and jargon. I really warmed to Kate, though she had her faults, and found myself caring what happened to her. I have to say, I wasn’t a big fan of Beckley due to the way he treated some characters and really mooned over *someone* (I found this rather irritating but I don’t want to be more specific as I don’t want to give away any elements of the plot). He just grated on me  – and don’t get me started on Kate’s mother and sister – no excuses for their behaviour! At times I felt the descriptions were a bit too long and flowing, but nevertheless I hugely enjoyed reading about the police’s (at times very flawed) investigation into the mysterious serial killer terrorising Westhaven’s streets. The plot it moved along at the right pace and kept me really wanting to read on.

There’s elements of gore and some pretty nasty parts – it is about a serial killer, after all -but this didn’t feel too over the top. I had guessed the killer’s identity towards the end of the book but it didn’t hamper my enjoyment at all, and overall I am hugely impressed by this brilliant debut which I would definitely recommend!

[Rating: 4/5]

Many thanks to Vicki for providing a copy of this novel on which I chose to write an honest and unbiased review.

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Hangman by @daniel_p_cole [review] @orionbooks

Hangman - Daniel Cole

Title: Hangman 
Author: Daniel Cole
Publisher: Orion

[Synopsis]

Eighteen months have passed, but the scars the Ragdoll murders left behind remain.

DCI Emily Baxter is summoned to a meeting with US Special Agents Elliot Curtis of the FBI and Damien Rouche of the CIA. There, she is presented with photographs of the latest copycat murder: a body contorted into a familiar pose, strung up impossibly on the other side of the world, the word BAIT carved deep into its chest.

As the media pressure intensifies, Baxter is ordered to assist with the investigation and attend the scene of another murder to discover the same word scrawled across the victim, carved across the corpse of the killer – PUPPET.

As the murders continue to grow in both spectacle and depravity on both sides of the Atlantic, the team helplessly play catch up. Their only hope: to work out who the ‘BAIT’ is intended for, how the ‘PUPPETS’ are chosen but, most importantly of all, who is holding the strings.

[My Review]

I was so excited to read the follow up to the hugely successful Ragdoll – and Hangman, the second in the Detective William Fawkes series, definitely doesn’t disappoint! Much like the first, it’s a rollercoaster of a ride of tension, mystery and general craziness as the focus turns to Baxter this time, and a string of gory murders in the US which have worryingly familiar elements to them…

I have to say, at first I was a little worried that I wouldn’t get to read about Fawkes, who I loved in the last book – however, Baxter more than makes up for it, truly shining with her cutting comments and no-nonsense attitude. I absolutely loved reading about her, and some new characters to add to the mix in Curtis and Rouche who, although very different to Baxter, is another brilliant character who kept me wanting to read on. The characters are really what makes this story such addictive reading; that mixed with brilliant humorous scenes (with a heavy dose of black humour, which I loved) and fantastic situations (some completely crazy and unbelievable, but who cares?) which kept me laughing throughout. It may have even beaten Ragdoll for me (no mean feat!), as I felt like I had more of a grasp on what was going on in this novel – well, to some extent – there was plenty to craziness to keep track of!

I’d forgotten how brilliantly entertaining Daniel Cole’s writing is, and Hangman left me desperately wanting more – that ending too! Bring on book 3 (and quickly, please!).

[Rating: 5/5] 

Many thanks to Orion for providing a copy of this novel on which I chose to write an honest and unbiased review.

Hangman is out in the UK on 22 March.

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The Darkness [review]

The Darkness - Ragnar Jonasson

Title: The Darkness
Author: Ragnar Jonasson
Publisher: Michael Joseph

[Synopsis]

Be the first to read the incredible, chilling first novel in the new Hulda crime series from Icelandic superstar Ragnar Jónasson…

At sixty-four, Detective Inspector Hulda Hermannsdottir of the Reykjavik Police is about to take on her last case before she retires: A young woman, an asylum seeker from Russia, found murdered on the seaweed covered rocks of the Vatnsleysuströnd in Iceland.

When Hulda starts to ask questions it isn’t long before she realizes that no one can be trusted, and that no one is telling the whole truth. Spanning Reykjavik, the Icelandic highlands and the cold, isolated fjords, The Darkness is a thrilling new crime thriller from one of the biggest new names in Scandi noir.

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[My Review]

This is an intriguing, well-crafted novel which I hugely enjoyed. I have to admit I haven’t read any other novels by Ragnar Jónasson despite hearing so many great things, so I jumped at the chance to review the first book in a new series, as then it doesn’t matter if I haven’t read others. And I’m so glad to say that The Darkness is was a solid, really enjoyable read!

Firstly, this series (Hidden Iceland #1) looks set to be pretty unique as it’s actually the end of a series; subsequent novels will apparently cover previous cases (something I actually didn’t realise until I finished this book!). I really like the idea of this, and also Hulda as a character – she’s pretty abrupt and may to some seem unlikable, but I did warm to her as the novel went on – you see as you continue reading that she has had a lot to deal with over her lifetime. Plus, the police haven’t exactly been great to her – she’s being forced into an early retirement because they seem to want to create a younger workforce! I really liked that the main character is someone older as this makes a change from many other books.

The plot isn’t overly complex but enjoyable to read, and though there are quite a few people involved in the case it wasn’t too confusing. I found the writing really easy to read and raced through this (at under 300 pages it’s not too long, either). It’s not too gorey but has the right level of darkness and eeriness, making you imagine you’re there with Hulda in the Icelandic landscape.

Overall, I really enjoyed The Darkness and it’s definitely made want to read both more of this series and other novels by Ragnar Jónasson too!

[Rating: 4/5]

Many thanks to the publisher for providing a copy of this novel on which I chose to write an honest and unbiased review.

The Darkness is out in the UK in ebook and hardback on 15 March 2018! Pre-order / buy on Amazon here.


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The Confession by @spainjoanne [blog tour review] @QuercusBooks

The Confession - Jo Spain

Today I am lucky enough to be on the blog tour with a review for the amazing new novel by Jo Spain called The Confession. It’s a corker! Read on to see what I thought, and make sure you follow the rest of the blog tour as well!

Title: The Confession
Author: Jo Spain
Publisher: Quercus

[Synopsis]

Late one night a man walks into the luxurious home of disgraced banker Harry McNamara and his wife Julie. The man launches an unspeakably brutal attack on Harry as a horror-struck Julie watches, frozen by fear.

Just an hour later the attacker, JP Carney, has handed himself in to the police. He confesses to beating Harry to death, but JP claims that the assault was not premeditated and that he didn’t know the identity of his victim. With a man as notorious as Harry McNamara, the detectives cannot help wondering, was this really a random act of violence or is it linked to one of Harry’s many sins: corruption, greed, betrayal?

This gripping psychological thriller will have you questioning, who – of Harry, Julie and JP – is really the guilty one? And is Carney’s surrender driven by a guilty conscience or is his confession a calculated move in a deadly game?

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[My Review]

If you value your sleep, beware… The Confession is very likely to keep you up all night thinking “just one more page”. I couldn’t put it down! However this will be a no-spoiler review, so don’t worry 😀

Though there are many books with a similar theme, The Confession feels a little different because you know who has attacked Harry from very near the beginning of the novel, but you don’t know why – and why he handed himself in. The plot has lots of gripping narratives, each from a different point of view. We hear from Julie, whose husband Harry is the man who is violently attacked at the start of the novel, and JP, who handed himself in and is proved to be the man who attacked Harry. We also, interestingly, hear from Alice, a detective who will do anything to find out why JP attacked Harry. Can it just be coincidence or is there far more to this story? I think you know the likely answer! This novel slowly teases the reader with snippets of the three characters’ lives, both the present day and the events leading up to the day of the attack. This means I was absolutely desperate to find out what had happened.

There are plenty of twists, turns and surprises along the way, and I found myself doubting almost every character at some point (my favourite kind of novel!). I loved Alice – she was a great character who I really warmed to , and would love to see her featured in future books – but also couldn’t help myself really liking JP from quite early on, despite what he’d done. The characters in The Confession are multi-layered and never portrayed as strictly ‘good’ or ‘bad’ – they have different issues and/or quirks which make them convincing characters, and even the people you know are horrible people are not horrible 100% of the time! It also shows how the images that people portray can be very different behind closed doors…

The Confession is clever, gripping and deliciously dark, with characters you can’t help but want to know more about – highly recommended. Will definitely be reading anything Jo Spain releases in the future, and am determined to read her Inspector Tom Reynolds series as well!

[Rating: 5/5]

Many thanks to Quercus and Anne Cater for providing an ARC of this novel on which I chose to write an honest and unbiased review, and for my place on the blog tour!

The Confession is out now in ebook format and out in paperback on the 25 January!

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The Shadow Man [review]

Shadow Man - Margaret Kirk

Title: The Shadow Man
Author: Margaret Kirk
Publisher: Orion

[Synopsis]

Two brutal killings rock Inverness, and bring ex-Met Detective Inspector Lukas Mahler the biggest challenge of his career…

The body of the queen of daytime TV, Morven Murray is discovered by her sister, Anna, on the morning of her wedding day. But does Anna know more about the murder than she’s letting on?

Police informant Kevin Ramsay’s murder looks like a gangland-style execution. But what could he have stumbled into that was dangerous enough to get him violently killed?

Mahler has only a couple of weeks to solve both cases while dealing with his mother’s fragile mental health. But caught in a deadly game of cat and mouse, is ex-Met DI Lukas Mahler hunting one killer, or two?

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[My Review]

I’ve definitely found a promising new series in The Shadow Man. Because the characters seemed to well-rounded and convincing, I thought this might be a well-established series, but it seems to be either a stand alone or – hopefully – the first in a new series. If so,  I’ll certainly be reading more.

The Shadow Man effectively combine mystery, grittiness and police procedure with just the right pacing and level of drama.

The characters are great – I really liked protagonist DI Luke Mahler and Anna, who wasn’t part of the police but who we also followed as the case unfolded. I liked that there were two main characters who showed different perspectives to the investigation. The characters were well-rounded and interesting too, and it was interesting to read a good portion of the story from the perspective of someone who had nothing to do with the police. The Shadow Man features lots of seemingly unconnected people who all came together as the novel continued, which I also really liked.

The setting is also great (pre-Scottish referendum Inverness) – and I liked the atmosphere that the setting conjured up. It’s a testament to Margaret Kirk’s writing that I could really imagine myself there, seeing as the only place I’ve  ever visited in Scotland is Edinburgh.

Overall I’d highly recommend this novel to anyone looking for a great new detective series which is both entertaining and realistic. I’d definitely like to read more about Luke and Anna!

[Rating: 4/5]

Many thanks to Orion for providing a copy of this novel on which I chose to write an honest and unbiased review.

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Yesterday [review]

yesterday- felicia yap

Title: Yesterday
Author: Felicia Yap
Publisher: Headline

[Synopsis]

How do you solve a murder when you can only remember yesterday?

There are two types of people in the world. Those who can only remember yesterday, and those who can also recall the day before.

You have just one lifeline to the past: your diary. Each night, you write down the things that matter. Each morning, your diary tells you where you were, who you loved and what you did.

Today, the police are at your door. They say that the body of your husband’s mistress has been found in the River Cam. They think your husband killed her two days ago.

Can you trust the police? Can you trust your husband? Can you trust yourself?

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[My Review]

This wasn’t exactly what I expected – it was way better! With elements of traditional crime/ mystery novels, mixed in with sci-fi elements (which I’m not always a fan of, but it’s done so well in this novel), Yesterday is a hugely enjoyable novel which kept me turning the pages.

It was in no way predictable, which novels in this genre can fall into, and I found myself surprised along the way as more and more is revealed. I loved the whole idea of there being just two ‘races’ as such, determined not by skin colour or ethnicity but by whether you are a ‘mono’ or a ‘duo’. Monos can remember only the last 24 hours, Duos can remember the last 48 hours – and are therefore seen as far superior. I liked the nod to Apple’s increasing popularity (everyone carried around iDiaries to help them remember) and I loved the element of mystery. I couldn’t wait to find out what had actually happened to Sophie, and how Mark and Claire may or may not have been involved.

We hear the story from detective Hans, Sophie, Mark, and Claire’s point of views, and this means you get to piece the missing elements together as the characters do and, at some points, know more than each individual does. There’s still plenty of surprises, though, and the fact that the characters have to rely on their diaries to remember things means you’re never quite sure who’s completely reliable and who isn’t – adding extra interest to the story!

I’d definitely recommend this for anyone looking for a new mystery/ crime novel with a difference. It’s original, intriguing and beautifully written novel which I’d highly recommend – it might not be everyone’s tastes I suppose, but I loved it!

[Rating: 5/5]

Many thanks to Headline and Netgalley for providing a copy of this book on which I chose to write an honest and unbiased review.

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