#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.

A Dark Matter BT Poster

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.

#Review Nothing Important Happened Today by Will Carver @will_carver @OrendaBooks

Title: Nothing Important Happened Today by Will Carver

Publisher: Orenda Books

Date Published: 14th September 2019

Genre: Psychological Thriller

Description:

When strangers take part in a series of group suicides, everything suggests that a cult is to blame. How do you stop a cult when nobody knows they are a member?

A shocking, mesmerisingly original and pitch-black thriller from the critically acclaimed author of Good Samaritans.

‘Thrilling and completely original, Nothing Important Happened Today deserves to become an instant classic’ Kevin Wignall, author of The Names of the Dead

Nine suicides

One Cult

No leader

Nine people arrive one night on Chelsea Bridge. They’ve never met. But at the same time, they run, and leap to their deaths. Each of them received a letter in the post that morning, a pre-written suicide note, and a page containing only four words: Nothing important happened today.

That is how they knew they had been chosen to become a part of the People Of Choice: A mysterious suicide cult whose members have no knowledge of one another.

Thirty-two people on that train witness the event. Two of them will be next. By the morning, People Of Choice are appearing around the globe; it becomes a movement. A social media page that has lain dormant for four years suddenly has thousands of followers. The police are under pressure to find a link between the cult members, to locate a leader that does not seem to exist.

How do you stop a cult when nobody knows they are a member?

A shocking, mesmerisingly original and pitch-black thriller, Nothing Important Happened Today confirms Will Carver as one of the most extraordinary, exciting authors in crime fiction.

Review:

Just give me a minute, I need to pick my jaw off the floor before I write this review. 

Nothing Important Happened Today is one of the most original, shocking and compelling novels I’ve read this year!

The whole story centres around cults and how nine, seemingly normal, people would throw themselves off a bridge. The story is told from multiple perspectives, interwoven with a very angry and bitter narrator whose voice is just so authentic, it almost felt like he was talking directly to me.

I’ve heard such good things about Will Carver’s writing but I wasn’t prepared for just how mesmerising his writing is. Genuinely I started this book thinking, I have no idea what is happening right now but as the story progressed, I was like I have to know why people would commit suicide like that.

I have to give a little warning here, there are quite graphic descriptions of mass suicide, which may be triggering for some people, I know there were a few times that I felt a little uncomfortable but I just had to read on.

I won’t say too much more because I don’t want to reveal any more about the story, in case of spoilers, but if you love dark psychological thrillers you must give this a go. 

Nothing Important Happened Today is a dark and utterly riveting book, which will shock and surprise you in equal measure. I will definitely be reading more from Will Carver!

About The Author:

Will Carver is the international bestselling author of the January David series. He spent his early years in Germany, but returned to the UK at age 11, when his sporting career took off. He turned down a professional rugby contract to study theatre and television at King Alfred’s, Winchester, where he set up a successful theatre company. He currently runs his own fitness and nutrition company, while working on his next thriller. He lives in Reading with his two children.

Follow Will on Twitter @will_carver

#BlogTour #Review Blood Song by Johana Gustawsson @JoGustawsson @OrendaBooks

Title: Blood Song by Johana Gustawsson (translated by David Warriner)

Date Published: 19th September 2019

Publisher: Orenda Books

Genre: Mystery/Thriller

Description:

The third book in the award-winning, critically acclaimed Roy & Castells series, featuring true-crime writer Alexis Castells and profiler Emily Roy. Previous titles in the series, Block 46 and Keeper, have won the Plume d’Argent, Balai de la découverte, Balai d’Or and Prix Marseillais du Polar awards and sold in 19 countries. A French, Swedish and English TV series is in production, adapted by and starring award-winning French actress Alexandra Lamy.

Spain, 1938 The country is wracked by civil war, and as Valencia falls to Franco’s brutal dictatorship, Republican Teresa witnesses the murders of her family. Captured and sent to the notorious Las Ventas women’s prison, Teresa gives birth to a daughter who is forcibly taken from her.

Falkenberg, Sweden, 2016 A wealthy family is found savagely murdered in their luxurious home. Discovering that her parents have been slaughtered, Aliénor Lindbergh, a new recruit to the UK’s Scotland Yard, rushes back to Sweden and finds her hometown rocked by the massacre.

Profiler Emily Roy joins forces with Aliénor and her colleague, true-crime writer Alexis Castells, and they soon find themselves on the trail of a monstrous and prolific killer, in an investigation that takes them from the Swedish fertility clinics of the present day back to the terror of Franco’s rule, and the horrifying events that took place in Spanish orphanages under its rule…

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Review:

I want to thank Anne Cater for inviting me on this tour and Orenda Books for providing me with a copy of Blood Song in exchange for an honest review.

This is the third in the Roy & Castells series but it can easily be read as a standalone.

So I really enjoyed Keeper by Jo Gustawsson, so I jumped at the chance to read Blood Song and I can say I wasn’t disappointed!

Blood Song is a dark and intense yet utterly compelling novel!

If you don’t know this series, it’s part police procedural, part historical novel, the two are expertly interwoven throughout the novel. The modern day investigation follows Emily Roy, a criminal profiler, and Alexia Castells, a true crime author, and their team, as they hunt for the brutal killer of a wealthy family in their own home.

The historical part of the novel focuses on the Franco regime in Spain. I have to confess I don’t know much about this era in Spain’s history but it was absolutely brutal and heartbreaking! They didn’t seem to distinguish between men and women, if you were seen as the enemy, you were tortured then killed no matter what. What was especially interesting was the fact this novel followed the children of these ‘traitors’ and their lives in the orphanages.

There are some really powerful themes running through the novel, like infertility and child abuse that may make it a little tough for some readers.

My only slight quibble was I felt the modern day investigation wasn’t quite as strong story wise, with a coincidence or two but that of course is just my opinion.

Blood Song is masterful piece of storytelling that will stick in my mind for a long time after I’ve read it. I can’t wait for more from Johana Gustawsson.

About The Author:

Born in Marseille, France, and with a degree in Political Science, Johana Gustawsson hasJohana Pic worked as a journalist for the French and Spanish press and television. Her critically acclaimed Roy & Castells series has won the Plume d’Argent, Balai de la découverte, Balai d’Or and Prix Marseillais du Polar awards, and is now published in nineteen countries. A TV adaptation is currently underway in a French, Swedish and UK co-production. Johana lives in London with her Swedish husband and their three sons. She drew on her own experience of fertility clinics and IVF to write Blood Song and is happy to speak and write pieces about this.

#BlogTour #Review Call Me Star Girl by Louise Beech @LouiseWriter @OrendaBooks @annecater #RandomThingsTours

Title: Call Me Star Girl by Louise Beech

Publisher: Orenda Books

Date Published: 18th April 2019

Genre: Psychological Thriller

Description:

Tonight is the night for secrets…

Pregnant Victoria Valbon was brutally murdered in an alley three weeks ago – and her killer hasn’t been caught. Tonight is Stella McKeever’s final radio show. The theme is secrets. You tell her yours, and she’ll share some of hers.

Stella might tell you about Tom, a boyfriend who likes to play games, about the mother who abandoned her, now back after twelve years.

She might tell you about the perfume bottle with the star-shaped stopper, or about her father …

What Stella really wants to know is more about the mysterious man calling the station … who says he knows who killed Victoria, and has proof. Tonight is the night for secrets, and Stella wants to know everything…

With echoes of the chilling Play Misty for Me, Call Me Star Girl is a taut, emotive and all-consuming psychological thriller that plays on our deepest fears, providing a stark reminder that stirring up dark secrets from the past can be deadly…

Review:

I want to thank Anne Cater for inviting me on this blog tour and Orenda books for providing me with a copy of Call Me Star Girl.

So this is actually the first novel I’ve read by Louise Beech and her first foray into psychological thrillers.

This was such a beautifully written and at times poignant story, which surprised me how emotionally invested I got with the characters.

We follow Stella for her last broadcast, going backwards and forwards in her life and how she ended up at this point. The mystery of the death of pregnant Victoria Valbon hangs over her, a man phones the station claims he knows what happened to Victoria that night. Stella wants to know what he know but what will happen when she knows everything?

Stella is a damaged individual, abandoned by her mother when she was twelve, she never knew her father. She’s determined to not bore anyone and flits from one relationship to the other not getting close, that is until Tom. Their relationship is intense, dark and even at times a little disturbing, constantly playing games with each other.

Then her mother reappears in her life. I can’t say I much liked her, hate would probably be too strong a word. As a mother I found it hard to compute abandoning your child for whatever reason, even now when son is a moody teenager 99% of the time!

My only complaint was I felt the mystery aspect was not the strongest in the overall story, in fact I found I wanted a little bit more from it, I’m greedy I know!

Call Me Star Girl is a beautiful and at times haunting story, that will chill you to your core.

call me star girl blog poster 2019

About The Author:

Louise Beech is an exceptional literary talent, whose debut novel How To Be Brave was aLouise Beech Author Photo Guardian Readers’ Choice for 2015. The follow-up, The Mountain in My Shoe was shortlisted for Not the Booker Prize. Both of her previous books Maria in the Moon and The Lion Tamer Who Lost were widely reviewed, critically acclaimed and number-one bestsellers on Kindle. The Lion Tamer Who Lost was shortlisted for the RNA Most Popular Romantic Novel Award in 2019. Her short fiction has won the Glass Woman Prize, the Eric Hoffer Award for Prose, and the Aesthetica Creative Works competition, as well as shortlisting for the Bridport Prize twice. Louise lives with her husband on the outskirts of Hull, and loves her job as a Front of House Usher at Hull Truck Theatre, where her first play was performed in 2012.

#BlogTour #Review #TheRingmaster by Vanda Symon @vandasymon @OrendaBooks #SamShephard #RandomThingsTours

Title: The Ringmaster by Vanda Symon

Publisher: Orenda Books

Date Published: 25th April 2019

Genre: Police procedural

Description:

Marginalised by previous antics, Sam Shephard, is on the bottom rung of detective training in Dunedin, and her boss makes sure she knows it. She gets involved in her first homicide investigation, when a university student is murdered in the Botanic Gardens, and Sam soon discovers this is not an isolated incident. There is a chilling prospect of a predator loose in Dunedin, and a very strong possibility that the deaths are linked to a visiting circus…

Determined to find out who’s running the show, and to prove herself, Sam throws herself into an investigation that can have only one ending…

Rich with atmosphere, humour and a dark, shocking plot, The Ringmaster marks the return of passionate, headstrong police officer, Sam Shephard, in the next instalment of Vanda Symon’s bestselling series.

Review:

After reading the first in this series, Overkill (you can read my review here), I jumped at the chance to read this one. Even though it is the second in the series it can quite easily be read as a stand-alone without feeling that you’ve missed too much.

The Ringmaster is a solid police procedural set in New Zealand, which like the first novel is really conveyed well, with it’s unusual plants and wildlife, I almost felt like I was there while reading this book!

The character of Sam really makes this novel. She’s so life like and likeable, with a sharp wit and plenty of sarcasm, you kind of wish that you actually knew her. She really struggles in this book, going from the small town of Mataura where she was the sole police officer to the relatively big city of Dunedin. Her boss seemed to have it out for her, making her do menial and pointless jobs when she wants to be out there solving the case.

If that wasn’t tough enough, the investigation centres around the circus, a tight community who don’t trust outsiders which Sam has to try and gain their trust and uncover their secrets.

I have to be honest, I kind of pegged who the killer was quite early on and didn’t have quite as many shocks and surprises as the first one but it was still an engaging read.

I’d recommend The Ringmaster to anyone who loves realistic characters and settings that will entertaining you from beginning to end. I’m looking forward to book three!

The Ringmaster blog poster 2019 (1)

About The Author:

Vanda Symon is a crime writer, TV presenter and radio host from Dunedin, New Zealand, andvanda_jacket_br (1) the chair of the Otago Southland branch of the New Zealand Society of Authors.

The Sam Shephard series has climbed to number one on the New Zealand bestseller list, and also been shortlisted for the Ngaio Marsh Award for best crime novel. She currently lives in Dunedin, with her husband and two sons.

#BlogTour #Review The Courier by Kjell Ola Dahl (translation by Don Bartlett) @ko_dahl @OrendaBooks #RandomThingsTours

Title: The Courier by Kjell Ola Dahl (translated by Don Bartlett)

Publisher: Orenda Books

Date Published: 21st January 2019

Genre: Thriller/Historical/Espionage

Description:

In Oslo in 1942, Jewish courier Ester is betrayed, narrowly avoiding arrest by the Gestapo. In great haste, she escapes to Sweden whilst the rest of her family is deported to Auschwitz. In Stockholm, Ester meets the resistance hero, Gerhard Falkum, who has left his little daughter and fled both the Germans and allegations that he murdered his wife, Åse, Ester’s childhood best friend. A relationship develops between them, but ends abruptly when Falkum dies in a fire.

And yet, twenty-five years later, Falkum shows up in Oslo. He wants to reconnect with his daughter Turid. But where has he been, and what is the real reason for his return? Ester stumbles across information that forces her to look closely at her past, and to revisit her war-time training to stay alive…

Written with Dahl’s trademark characterisation and clever plotting, The Courier sees one of Norway’s most critically- acclaimed authors at his best, as he takes on one of the most horrifying periods of modern history. With its sophisticated storytelling and elegant prose, this stunning and compelling wartime thriller is reminiscent of the writing of John Le Carré and William Boyd.

courier blog poster 2019

Review:

I want to thank Anne Cater at Random Things Tours for inviting me on this blog tour and providing me with a copy of The Courier.

The Courier is told using multiple timelines, 1942, 1967 and finally 2015. We follow the story of Ester, a young Jewish woman who risks her life to be part of the resistance. After a near miss with the police, Ester flees to Sweden leaving her life behind. Later she finds out that her friend was murdered and blamed on her partner, Gerhard Falkum.

Twenty five years later Gerhard is back, to reconnect with his daughter Turid but is that really why?

The terror and uncertainty of WWII really oozes from the pages of The Courier. It’s packed with vivid descriptions and fascinating characters that will transport you back in time while sitting in the comfort of your own home.

As many of you know if you’ve been reading this blog for a while, I love a novel that teaches me something. I had no idea that the Nazi managed to infiltrate countries like Norway and started persecuting Jews too.

I liked the character of Ester, she’s so strong, having to face such danger and heartbreak, having to run from her own country leaving behind her family and friends, determined to survive.

This is a really intricately plot novel but sometimes I felt that I got a bit lost between the back and forth of the timeline.

I’d recommend The Courier to anyone who loves a good historical spy thriller, full of tension, terror and intrigue.

About The Author:

One of the fathers of the Nordic Noir genre, Kjell Ola Dahl was born in 1958 in Gjøvik. He madeKjell Ola Dahl-Rolf-M-Aagaard his debut in 1993, and has since published eleven novels, the most prominent of which is a series of police procedurals cum psychological thrillers featuring investigators Gunnarstranda and Frølich. In 2000 he won the Riverton Prize for The Last Fix and he won both the prestigious Brage and Riverton Prizes for The Courier in 2015. His work has been published in 14 countries, and he lives in Oslo.