#BlogTour #Review A Dark Matter by Doug Johnstone @doug_johnstone @OrendaBooks @annecater #ADarkMatter #Edinburgh #TheSkelfs

Title: A Dark Matter by Doug Johnstone

Date Published: 23rd January 2020

Publisher: Orenda Books

Genre: Mystery/Thriller

Description:

After an unexpected death, three generations of women take over the family funeral-home and PI businesses in the first book of a brilliant, page-turning and darkly funny new series.

The Skelfs are a well-known Edinburgh family, proprietors of a long-established funeral-home business, and private investigators. When patriarch Jim dies, it ’s left to his wife Dorothy, daughter Jenny and granddaughter Hannah to take charge of both businesses, kicking off an unexpected series of events.

Dorothy discovers mysterious payments to another women, suggesting that Jim wasn’t the husband she thought he was.

Hannah’s best friend Mel has vanished from university, and the simple adultery case that Jenny takes on leads to something stranger and far darker than any of them could have imagined.

As the women struggle to come to terms with their grief, and the demands of the business threaten to overwhelm them, secrets from the past emerge, which change everything… It’s a compelling and tense thriller and a darkly funny, warm portrait of a family in turmoil.

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Review:

I want to thank Anne Cater for inviting me on this epic blog tour and Orenda books for providing me with a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.

Wow, A Dark Matter was a complex, dark and utterly fantastic!

There is so much crammed into the just over three hundred pages of this novel, it’s difficult to know where to start, there’s just never a dull moment!

Here’s a sentence I never thought I’d write; funeral directing private investigators are what crime fiction has been missing. Genuinely I don’t think I’ve come across this concept before, especially as all the main characters are all women, and I’ve read a lot of crime fiction over the years.

There are several mysteries run side by side through the novel, each one of them intriguing in their own right. After her husband Jim’s death, Dorothy finds that he’s been sending money every month to a mystery woman. An elderly man thinks his carer is stealing from him so he wants cameras set up to spy on her. Jenny gets involved in an adultery case that seems to be more complicated than she first thought. Jenny’s roommate Mel goes missing but it doesn’t get taken seriously by the police so she decides to investigate herself. 

The family dynamic really makes a dark matter. We follow three generations of the Skelf family, seventy year old Dorothy, forty five year old Jenny and Hannah who is in her twenties. Each one of these characters, at times are not all that likeable but they felt really and flawed.

A Dark Matter is an original, dark and gripping read, I can’t wait to see if there’s a second book. 

About The Author:

Doug Johnstone is the author of ten novels, most recently Breakers (2018),

which has been shortlisted for the McIlvanney Prize for Scottish Crime Novel of the Year. Several of his books have been bestsellers and award winners, and his work has been praised by the likes of Val McDermid, Irvine Welsh and Ian Rankin. 

He’s taught creative writing and been writer in residence at various institutions – including a funeral home – and has been an arts journalist for twenty years.

Doug is a songwriter and musician with five albums and three EPs released, and he plays drums for the Fun Lovin’ Crime Writers, a band of crime writers. He’s also player manager of the Scotland Writers Football Club. 

He lives in Edinburgh.

#BlogTour #Review A Messy Affair by Elizabeth Mundy @ElizabethEMundy @rararesources

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Title: A Messy Affair by Elizabeth Mundy

Date Published: 2nd January 2020

Publisher: Constable

Genre: Cosy Mystery

Description:

The only way is murder…

Lena Szarka, a Hungarian cleaner working in London, is forced to brush up on her detective skills for a third time when her cousin Sarika is plunged into danger.

Sarika and her reality TV star boyfriend Terry both receive threatening notes.  When Terry stops calling, Lena assumes he’s lost interest. Until he turns up. Dead. Lena knows she must act fast to keep her cousin from the same fate. 

Scrubbing her way through the grubby world of reality television, online dating and betrayed lovers, Lena finds it harder than she thought to discern what’s real – and what’s just for the cameras. 

You can buy your copy here:

UK – https://www.amazon.co.uk/Messy-Affair-Lena-Szarka-Mysteries/dp/1472126394

US – https://www.amazon.com/Messy-Affair-Lena-Szarka-Mysteries/dp/1472126394

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Review:

This is the third in Lena Szarka series but it can be easily read as a standalone, something I can attest to as I haven’t read the first two. After reading a messy affair the other books in the series have been added to my wishlist.

Lena’s life in London is going from strength to strength, with her own cleaning business but she finds herself in the middle of another mystery after her cousin receives threatening letters as she’s dating a reality TV star Terry Tibbs.

Terry turns up dead but the police think it’s an accident but Lena isn’t convinced. It’s up to her to find out what really happened and stop her cousin from getting hurt.

A Messy Affair is an addictive and entertaining mystery from beginning to end! 

There were plenty of twists and turns, red herrings, even a little bit of romance, all the things I expect from a cosy mystery, but with it being set on the bustling streets of London it made it more gritty which I enjoyed.

I really liked the character of Lena. She’s strong, determined, a hard worker with a big heart who doesn’t suffer fools gladly. Her cousin Sarika, on the other hand, slightly got on my nerves but she’s quite a young character and hopefully she’ll grow as the novels go on.

There were also a few Hungarian words, food etc worked into the story which added that extra bit of authenticity to the characters. 

I just could get enough of A Messy Affair! I will definitely be picking up the other novels in this series when I can.

About The Author:

Elizabeth Mundy’s grandmother was a Hungarian immigrant to America who raised fiveE Mundy profile pic children on a chicken farm in Indiana. Elizabeth is a marketing director for an investment firm and lives in London with her messy husband and two young children. She writes the Lena Szarka Mysteries, featuring a Hungarian cleaner as detective. 
http://www.elizabethmundy.com

Social Media Links – 

Twitter, Facebook and Instagram @ElizabethEMundy

www.elizabethmundy.com

#BookReview Murder On The Rocks (Jordan Jenner 1) by J.S. Strange #CozyMystery

Title: Murder On The Rocks (Jordan Jenner 1) by JS Strange

Date Published: 1st March 2019

Publisher: Panther Publishing

Genre: Cosy Mystery

Description:

‘An impressively complex story.’ – W.D. Jackson-Smart, author of the D.I. Graves Series.

‘I felt that I had been sucked into a well thought out Agatha Christie novel.’ – Danielle at The Reading Closet.

When PI Jordan Jenner returns to work following the death of his mother, his first case involves a murdered writer…

James Fairview has been killed. As a member of a prestigious writing group hosted by bestselling author Joseph Gordon in the heart of Cardiff, Jordan not only has to cope with solving the mystery, but also deal with press attention.

As Jordan investigates, he discovers his mother’s death may not have been so simple. And when another writer is murdered, Jordan realises the killer could strike again…

A murdered writer, a mysterious death, and a group with jealousy at its heart, this is Jenner’s toughest case yet.

A cosy murder mystery with a gay male detective, Murder on the Rocks is the first in the Jordan Jenner Mysteries series. If you’re a fan of classic whodunits you will love this!

A perfect read for those looking for Welsh crime fiction.

‘Strange was clearly channelling his inner Agatha Christie when writing this. Jordan holds himself like a modern-day Hercule Poirot.’ – Kelly at From Belgium With Book Love.

‘You simply cannot put this down.’ – Duncan Thompson, author of Within the Dark Places.

Review:

I’m always on the lookout for cosy mysteries that are unique, so when I saw this one was not only set in Wales (it’s where my grandad was from) and has a lead gay detective, well I knew I had to give it a go. I actually have the second book in this series (review coming in February) so I thought I’d go back to the beginning and start with the first book.

Jordan Jenner is still reeling from his estranged mother’s sudden death and thinks going back to his private investigation work will be a good distraction. He’s asked by the local police to investigate the death of a wannabe novelist at a writing group.

As he investigates, he finds his mother was a member of the group. Could there be more to her death than meets the eye?

Murder on the rocks is a gentle mystery with bags of intrigue and some unique characters.

I liked Jordan. He’s determined, smart,  a little grumpy at times with a tendency to push people away but it’s understandable when you hear about the strained relationship between him, his mother and brother.

I wish there had been a little more Welsh slang/words in the novel just to give it the writing a little bit more flair. Also I do feel that it could have been a little shorter as my attention started to waver a little.

Murder on the rocks is a solid cosy mystery, I’d recommend to anyone who loves this genre!

About The Author:

J.S. Strange is an author from Wales, United Kingdom. He writes crime, mystery andjs strange horror. His first novels, published in 2016 and 2017, were set in an apocalyptic London. His up-coming novel, titled Murder on the Rocks, is the first in a cozy crime mystery series, featuring a leading gay male detective.

Murder on the Rocks was written by Strange for many reasons. One of those reasons was a lack of representation within the crime genre, particularly with detectives and sleuths. Strange created Jordan Jenner, a private investigator, who lives and works in Cardiff. Murder on the Rocks was written with the intention of shining light on Cardiff, and bringing Cardiff, and furthermore, Wales, into the crime genre.

Strange’s previous works, such as ‘Winter Smith: London Burning’, also explored LGBT themes, and featured socialite Winter Smith escaping a zombie apocalypse. ‘London’s Burning’ became an Amazon best-seller in LGBT fiction.

When Strange doesn’t write, he works in television. He also presents a radio show all about the paranormal. He has an enthusiasm for Britney Spears and cats.

Jack can be reached on Twitter: @JackSamStrange

#BlogTour #Review Are You Watching by Vincent Ralph @VincentRalph1 @PenguinUKBooks @annecater #AreYouWatchingMagpieMan

Title: Are You Watching by Vincent Ralph

Date Published: 19th December 2019

Publisher: Penguin

Genre: YA Mystery

Description:

Ten years ago, Jess’s mother was murdered by the Magpie Man.

She was the first of his victims but not the last.

Now Jess is the star of a YouTube reality series and she’s using it to catch the killer once and for all.

The whole world is watching her every move.

And so is the Magpie Man.

Are You Watching BT Poster

Review:

When Jess was seven her mum was killed by a killer dubbed The Magpie Man. Ten years later he still hasn’t been caught, killing every nine months. She’s determined for justice, so she joins a YouTube reality series that will follow her around one day every week.

She wants to provoke a reaction, get him out of the shadows but is she ready to face him? 

What a fantastic debut Are You Watching is! 

I absolutely devoured Are You Watching. It combines two of my favourite genres, mystery and young adult, to make an absolutely sensational story. There’s the sort of young adult contemporary aspect where we have a damaged character who goes on an emotional journey of self discovery, then we have the mystery which was both intriguing and nail biting to satisfy a crime addict like myself.   

I warmed to Jess from the start. Yes, she was a little selfish and reckless but losing her mum at a young age in such a violent way is bound to have a bad effect on someone. I also appreciated that the author showed the ripple effect of how a crime can affect someone, especially if they’ve had no sort of justice. 

A nice surprise for me was I had no idea who the Magpie Man was until it was revealed which is a hard thing to do to an avid crime reader like myself!

Are You Watching is utterly compelling and addictive, I just couldn’t get enough! I can’t wait to read more from this author.

About The Author:

Vincent Ralph has been writing in one form or another since his teens and always Vincent Ralph Author picdreamed of being a novelist. He owes his love of books to his mother, who encouraged his imagination from an early age and made sure there were new stories to read.

Vincent has lived in London, Cornwall and Chester but he now lives in his home county of Kent with his wife, son and two cats.

#BlogTour #Review Glittering Death by Carmen Radtke @carmenradtke1 #HappyPublicationDay

Hello lovelies! Before I share my review, I want to wish Carmen Radtke Happy Publication Day for her latest novel Glittering Death!

Title: Glittering Death by Carmen Radtke 

Date Published: 7th January 2020

Genre: Historical/Cosy Mystery

Description:

!862, A group of brides from Australia have arrived in British Columbia, and love is in the air – until their new-found happiness in the prospectors’ town “Run’s End” is shattered when the hotel-owner is murdered. To make matters worse, something is wrong with the stored gold at the hotel, and an epidemic makes it impossible for anyone to leave town.

The brides set all their hopes on their friend Alyssa Chalmers to find the murderer and restore peace in their new home. But the killer is cunning, and desperate …

BLOG TOUR BANNER - Glittering Death

Review:

I want to say a big thank you to Jill Burkinshaw for inviting me on this blog tour and Carmen Radtke for providing me with a copy of Glittering Death in exchange for an honest review.

I read the first in the Alyssa Chalmers series, The Case Of The Missing Bride, a while ago now so I was excited to hear that there was a second coming out!  Don’t worry if you’ve not read the first it can easily be read as a standalone.

Glittering Death is set in British Columbia against the backdrop of the gold rush in 1862, where every man that was able tried their hand at prospecting in the hopes of finding gold.

Alyssa and her friends arrive at Run’s End where they find themselves face to face with the suitors who’d paid for their voyage from Australia. But Alyssa has other plans, she wants to get back to England, a place she left as a child.

Her plans are scuppered when the hotel owner is murdered, followed by a smallpox epidemic means no one can go out of the small town. Tensions bubble in the town but it’s up to Alyssa to figure out who the murderer before it’s too late.

What a sweet historical mystery Glittering Death is! It has a gentle pace, with a subtle nod to classic mysteries and films while still feeling fresh and new.

I still think Alyssa is a fabulous main character. Independent, clever and never backs down from a challenge, even if that includes domestic chores which she’s not very good at!

I absolutely loved the historical setting of the story. I don’t know much about late 19th century Canada but I feel like after reading this book I know a lot more. The author’s research underpinned the story well without overwhelming you with knowledge or info dumps.

It did unfortunately take a while to get to the actual mystery and I may have guessed the identity of the killer quite early on but that didn’t spoil my overall enjoyment of the book.

Glittering Death is solid historical mystery, with plenty of red herrings and intriguing characters, perfect for anyone who loves a cosy mystery. I can’t wait to see where Alyssa’s story goes and read more of her adventures.

About The Author:

Carmen Radtke has spent most of her life with ink on her fingers and a dangerously highCarmen11 pile of books and newspapers by her side.

She has worked as a newspaper reporter on two continents and always dreamt of becoming a novelist and screenwriter.

When she found herself crouched under her dining table, typing away on a novel between two earthquakes in Christchurch, New Zealand, she realised she was hooked for life.

“The Case of the Missing Bride” is a former Malice Domestic finalist, inspired by a true event. Its heroine Alyssa Chalmers will soon return in “Glittering Death”.

When Carmen is not writing, reading or dreaming of travel, she is busy acting as resident cat servant.

She’s currently working on her first contemporary crime novel.

Follow Carmen on Bookbub: https://www.bookbub.com/profile/carmen-radtke

Or on Twitter: @carmenradtke1

Her website (very much a work in progress) is carmenradtke.com

#BookReview Beating Around The Bush (Agatha Raisin 30) by MC Beaton

Before I get to my review I want to say, you hadn’t heard, that M C Beaton died on the 31st December 2019 at the age of 83. I don’t know if this means this is the last we see of  Agatha Raisin or there will be more but I’m glad that I got to read this novel anyway.

Title: Agatha Raisin: Beating About The Bush (Agatha Raisin 30) by M.C. Beaton

Date Published: 24th October 2019

Publisher: Constable

Genre: Cosy Mystery

Description:

When private detective Agatha Raisin comes across a severed leg in a roadside hedge, it looks like she is about to become involved in a particularly gruesome murder. Looks, however, can be deceiving, as Agatha discovers when she is employed to investigate a case of industrial espionage at a factory where nothing is quite what it seems.

The factory mystery soon turns to murder and a bad-tempered donkey turns Agatha into a national celebrity, before bringing her ridicule and shame. To add to her woes, Agatha finds herself grappling with growing feelings for her friend and occasional lover, Sir Charles Fraith. Then, as a possible solution to the factory murder unfolds, her own life is thrown into deadly peril. Will Agatha get her man at last? Or will the killer get her first?

Review:

Goodness me, I can’t believe this is the thirtieth Agatha Raisin mystery! I’ve read this series, on and off again for years and I was so excited to get approved for this one on NetGalley.

PI Agatha Raisin and her put upon assistant Toni have been asked to investigate some industrial espionage but finds something is definitely off at the factory…

Soon they find themselves investigating the murder of the factory employee Mrs Dinwiddy but the police are convinced it was the fault of a very bad tempered donkey Wizz Wazz. Can Agatha convince the police there’s more to the death than meets the eye and save poor Wizz Wazz?

As a person who’s dipped in and out for years with this series, I was able to jump straight in, without worrying about the fact that I haven’t read the previous one. I do also think you could dive into this one if you’ve never read any of the other books but I highly recommend you give them a go if you love cosy mysteries!

Beating About The Bush is quite a short novel, in fact I devoured it over a weekend which is usually quick for me!

I had forgotten just how bossy and argumentative Agatha was! I always feel sorry for anyone who gets in her way, especially her poor assistant Toni who usually bears the brunt of her bad moods. Saying that there’s something still inherently likeable about Agatha, I think it’s because a lot of her moodiness comes from her insecurities.

I will also give a shoutout to Wizz Wazz who provided a lot of comic relief throughout the novel.

Beating About The Bush is a fun filled, fast paced cosy and a nice addition to this fabulous series.

About The Author:

M C Beaton was born in Scotland. She worked for many years as a journalist on FleetMC Beaton Street.

As well as the bestselling Agatha Raisin series, she is the author of the acclaimed Hamish Macbeth mysteries.

She divides her time between the Cotswolds, where she lives in a village very much like Agatha’s beloved Carsely, and Paris.

#BookReview The Secret Child by Caroline Mitchell @Caroline_Writes

Title: The Secret Child (DI Amy Winter 2) by Caroline Mitchell

Date Published: 7th March 2019

Genre: Police Procedural 

Description:

DI Amy Winter knows evil. She’s lived through it.

Four-year-old Ellen is snatched by a stranger in the dead of night. Her devastated mother, Nicole, receives four identical phials and a threatening note in a familiar scrawl that chills her to the bone. But she always knew this would happen. She’s been expecting it for years . . .

According to the note, one of the phials is poisoned. Nicole is given a deadly challenge: if she drinks one, the sadistic kidnapper will notify the police of Ellen’s location. The sender claims to be Luka Volkov but Luka is supposed to be dead, killed long ago in a fire that haunts all those involved.

DI Amy Winter is still reeling from the discovery that she is the daughter of a serial killer, and her childhood trauma only makes her more determined to bring Ellen home. When another child is taken, Amy finds herself in a race against time. To rescue the children, must she seek help from the one person she wants to forget?

Review:

This is my last review of 2019 and the decade!

Four year old Ellen Curtis is kidnapped from her home in the middle of the night. Her mother Nicole receives a parcel with four vials. One contains poison, the others are harmless, to get her daughter back all she has to do is pick one.

DI Amy Winter gets assigned to the case but feel like she’s getting blocked at every turn. A second child goes missing and they’re still no closer to finding the elusive kidnapper when suddenly, she finds herself as front page news, her history and serial killer mother displayed for all to see. Can Amy put her feelings aside and find the kidnapper?

The Secret Child is a fast paced, tension packed mystery that once you pick it up, it’s hard to put down again. 

So this book is the second in the series, I would highly recommend that you read the first just so you don’t miss out on any of the story and it happens to be a really good book too.

I really enjoyed the cat and mouse game that the kidnapper plays with Amy and her team through the novel, it really kept me on my toes. It’s been awhile since I’ve read a book that really keeps up the tension throughout like The Secret Child did.

I still love the character of Amy too. We get to see more of how the bombshell of being the daughter of serial killers affects her self esteem and how she’s trying to balance it within herself, really adding to the realism of the character.  

I have to be honest, I think it suffered slightly from second book syndrome, not quite living up to the first story wise. I also did sort of figure out how the ending would play out a little earlier than I would have liked but that didn’t spoil my overall enjoyment of the book.

The Secret Child is an addictive police procedural that left me eagerly awaiting the next in the series. 

About The Author:

New York Times, USA Today, Washington Post and International #1 Bestselling Author.caroline mitchell Shortlisted by the International Thriller Awards for best ebook 2017 and the Killer Nashville Best Police Procedural 2018. Over a million books sold.

Caroline originates from Ireland and now lives with her family in a village on the coast of Essex. A former police detective, she has worked in CID and specialised in roles dealing with vulnerable victims, high-risk victims of domestic abuse, and serious sexual offences. She now writes full time.

Caroline writes psychological and crime thrillers. The most recent, Silent Victim reached No.1 in the Amazon charts in the UK, USA and Australia and was the winner of the Reader’s Favourite Awards in the psychological thriller category. It has been described as ‘brilliantly gripping and deliciously creepy’.

Set in Notting Hill, London, her new DI Amy Winter thriller series, Truth and Lies and The Secret Child are published by Thomas & Mercer.

You can follow Caroline on Twitter at @Caroline_Writes and http://www.Facebook.com/CMitchellAuthor or http://www.caroline-writes.com

Sign up to join her Reader’s club for access to news, updates and exclusive competitions and giveaways. http://eepurl.com/IxsTj