Sunday, 29 January 2017

BLOG TOUR! Deep Down Dead by Steph Broadribb

My Turn on the Deep Down Dead blog tour and I'm lucky enough to have some exclusive content! Hoorah! Steph Broadribb, our intrepid author, has decided to share with us her top five action thriller heroes. So without further ado, over to you, Steph!


I’m a huge fan of the action thriller genre and there are some series that I’m always super eager to read as soon as the next book comes out because I know I’ll be in for a treat. These are books where a great read is guaranteed and the lead character is memorable and unique; a protagonist I enjoy spending time with. My top five are:

Lee Child’s JACK REACHER – Reacher’s uniqueness isn’t just his size (he’s 6ft 5in, 220-250 lbs, 50” chest!) but the combination of brawn and brains. He’s smart, and that’s good because he seems to have a habit of walking into town as something bad is going down and hangs around just long enough to sort it out. If you’ve not read the series, I recommend you start at the beginning with KILLING FLOOR and work your way through to the most recent book (number twenty-one) NIGHT SCHOOL, but as the books aren’t all sequential you could mix it up a bit too.

Jeff Abbott’s SAM CAPRA – Sam Capra is a good guy in terrifying circumstances. He starts the series as a gifted CIA agent working in London, but is soon put in an impossible situation when in a moment of horror everything he loves is torn from him. Determined to bring those who took his family to justice, the Sam Capra books are always dynamic with a hard emotional punch. Start at the beginning of the series with ADRENALINE (and be sure to check out Jeff Abbott’s standalones too – FEAR is a particular favourite of mine).

Zoe Sharp’s CHARLIE FOX – Charlie Fox is one kick-ass female lead. As an ex Special Forces trainee and now close protection bodyguard she’s forging a career as a top woman in a man’s world. She’s tough, with lightening reflexes and a super-quick mind – all essential qualities for keeping her, and those she’s protecting, safe. Start at the beginning of the series with KILLER INSTINCT to experience Charlie’s life changing as she moves from self-defense instructor to bodyguard, and from the UK to the US.

Mason Cross’s CARTER BLAKE – Carter Blake is a man of mystery (Carter Blake is not his real name) who specializes in finding people who don’t want to be found. He works for himself, but will team up with law enforcement and government bureaus if the price is right. Breathlessly paced with adrenaline-fuelled set pieces this series has quickly become one of my top favourites. Start at the beginning with THE KILLING SEASON and go from there – believe me, you’re going to want to devour them all.

Tom Wood’s VICTOR the ASSASSIN – Victor (he has no known last name) is a true anti-hero. He’s an assassin who suppresses all emotion. He does bad stuff (a lot of bad stuff) but somehow you can’t help liking him. The books are high action, brutal and brilliantly twisty-turny – and always impossible to put down. Start with the first THE HUNTER and I bet you’ll find yourself as hooked on Victor as me!

Friday, 20 January 2017

BLOG TOUR! Rupture by Ragnar Jónasson BLOG TOUR!

Rupture is the first of this author’s works that I’ve read. It’s number four in his Dark Iceland series. You can read it as a standalone however and I had no trouble following the plot and getting to know the characters; relevant backstory is explained when need be. Our protagonist is a young policeman, Ari Thór. He’s one of only two cops in the small, north Icelandic town of Siglufjörður. The town is currently in lockdown, isolated by the health authorities, due to an outbreak of hemorrhagic fever, thanks to a visitor who stopped off in Africa. One night, Hédinn, a local, pops in to see Ari Thor (they sit across the room from each other, even though both say they haven’t been exposed). He has with him a family photograph taken fifty years previously. The people in the photograph are his parents, uncle and aunt, one of whom supposedly committed suicide by drinking rat poison. But did she kill herself or was it something more sinister? And can Ari Thor get to the bottom of the mystery all these years later? He begins to investigate and draws in Isrún, a reporter in Reykavik, who I believe is a recurring character.

There are several sub-plots and interweaving story lines. A family being stalked, the child kidnapped. A hit and run killing. Both give Isrun more to do for otherwise she would be reduced to just making the odd phone call on Ari Thor’s behalf. The focus however is on the historical mystery and it is this which Ari Thor is concerned with.

As with many Nordic crime novels, Rupture has a great sense of place and atmosphere. The reader can almost feel the cold and isolation of northern Iceland. The latter is heightened by the outbreak, the townsfolk literally cut off from the outside world. With the historical setting, Hédinn’s ancestors had tried to make their home in an isolated fjord, and the author brings the bleakness of the location to the fore. He does such a good job of this that the reader can’t help but truly wonder whether they might have been driven to their wits end and this keeps one guessing as to how the victim met her end, was it suicide after all?

So-called Nordic Noir most often has the emphasis on the noir. The novels of Jo Nesbo and Stieg Larsson are dark, foreboding places. Evil stalks the land and the violence can be brutal.  Ragnar Jónasson is a different beast altogether. Yes, there are some difficult subjects broached and people do die. But this is more a cosy mystery in the vein of Agatha Christie. Even the use of poison as a method of suicide/murder (albeit in a historical setting) harks back to the queen of the murder mystery. Were it not for the fact that one feels almost physically chilly reading it thanks to the descriptions of all that snow and ice, I might say it’s the kind of book to curl up with under a duvet with a hot chocolate.

In conclusion, this is a novel with a real sense of place. If atmospheric whodunits are your thing, I can recommend Rupture as well worth a read.

Thursday, 12 January 2017

BLOG TOUR! Lady Cop Makes Trouble by Amy Stewart - BLOG TOUR!

This is the author’s second novel. Once again we are with Constance Kopp, the Sheriff Heath and the Deputies of Bergen County, and of course, Constance’s sisters, Norma and Fleurette. Set in the early twentieth century and based on real characters, these are novels as much about feminism and women’s struggle for equality as they are crime stories.

Lady Cop Makes Trouble, continues on after the events of the author’s previous work, Girl Waits With Gun. Constance is now a member of Sheriff Heath’s staff, though she is yet to be fully inducted as a Deputy. There’s trouble with that in that the authorities are wary of making a woman a deputy and so Sheriff Heath persuades Constance to temporarily take on the role of Woman’s Matron in the Women’s Jail, where she acts as custodian and cares for their needs. All the while he promises to sort things out and get her her Deputy’s badge.

Things take a turn for the worse when a German-speaking conman, Rev. Dr. Baron Herman Albert von Matthesius is arrested. He’s a slippery, wily, eel of a character and soon escapes, unfortunately when Constance is temporarily watching over him. Now it looks like she will never be made deputy. More worryingly, Sheriff Heath might even be jailed for allowing a prisoner to escape from his jail. So off Constance goes, galavanting around New York and New Jersey in a quest to redeem herself, save Sheriff Heath from gaol, and capture their runaway fugitive.

As with the previous book, Lady Cop Makes Trouble is kind of a cosy mystery. But that does the book a disservice. While this isn’t noir or gritty crime thriller of the sort that, say, James Ellroy might produce, it doesn’t shy away from the unpalatability of life at the time. Re. von Matthesius was running a scam where he took rich patients into a sanitarium and made them sick in order to extract more money out of their relatives. While nothing is ever spelt out, there’s the unmistakable hint of sexual abuse about the affair. Similarly, Constance comes across the poverty of the time, one of her potential witnesses being a young boy, who’s mother is ridden with cancer from a life working in a tannery. But it’s the subtle yet pernicious sexism with which Constance has to constantly battle which really marks this out as different from other novels. Constance even meets it when conversing with other women and it’s difficult not to pull one’s hair out in frustration at the obstinance women had to face.

This is a great read, a cosy novel for snuggling up with, but one with bite. Highly recommended.

5 stars

Sunday, 8 January 2017

Exposure by Ava Marsh

Roadkill by Hannah Jameson

One of the joys of reviewing books is discovering a new writer and I had this most recently with Hanna Jameson, who’s work until now had regrettably passed me by. Her third novel, Roadkill, was featured on one of the review sites I subscribe to (Bookbridgr? Nudge Real Readers? I forget now) and I requested it on the strength of the cover art.

As mentioned, Roadkill is the third novel to be published by the author, and while it can be read as a stand-alone story, the tale utilises many of the same characters as her previous work and unfolds in the same “universe” as it were. In this sense, it reminded me of the work of James Ellroy, a writer she lists as one of her influences.

When reading a novel in a series it can go either way. Some author’s books really do stand on their own and the reader doesn’t need to have read their previous work. Other novels rely so much on past events that a new reader can quickly get lost. Roadkill kind of straddles a middle line. Yes, this is a standalone story, but I found myself wondering at what had gone on beforehand and feeling like I was missing something. This was most apparent in the main characters’ motivation.

Roadkill follows two British gangsters on a road trip across America. Eli ropes Ronnie into a mission to find a guy called Trent who screwed Eli over years ago. And here lay my confusion.  Eli had founded a magazine. Trent, with others, forced him out, and took over the enterprise. But this was years ago and quite frankly was just business, and so I found myself confused as to why Eli wanted him dead now. More seriously, I couldn’t grasp why Ronnie felt compelled to help him. It all seemed pretty thin. Perhaps I was missing something. Perhaps if I had read the author’s previous work I might better understand.

But I persevered and I must say that I’m glad that I did. Because Roadkill quickly becomes a kind of Tarantino fantasy of a novel. It’s a gutsy, rollercoaster of a book, where these two British criminals travel across the United States taking drugs, killing, and encountering all kinds of weird and wonderfully fucked up people. For example, along the way they meet an alchemist who believes that he can change base metals into gold. And who provides them with pills that might just be able to cure any ailment. And that’s before we get to the Satanism. Yes, that’s right, it all gets really quite creepy and sinister when devil worship and missing kids enter the frame.

If there’s one criticism I have at this point it might be that at no point do Eli and Ronnie cross paths with the police. They butcher their way across America and never bump into a cop. But in some ways that makes sense as this is almost a psychedelic crime novel (in the Charles Manson sense of the word) and I’m not sure how seriously the author expects us to take it all. It’s not comic or comedy, hell no. Roadkill is dark stuff. But in the same way that one suspends their disbelief when, say, watching Pulp Fiction, or Reservoir Dogs, if one does so with Roadkill then you’re in for one hell of a ride.

All in all I must say that Roadkill is a brilliant, brash effort. This is the deepest, darkest noir. All the characters are repulsive, though all are strangely compelling. And I want to spend more time with them. Proof is that on the back of Roadkill I ordered both the author’s previous novels from Amazon. I look forward to what this author pens next.