The Big Chill by Doug Johnstone @doug_johnstone @OrendaBooks @RandomTTours #TheSkelfs #BlogTour #Review #NewBook #Thriller

The Big Chill
By Doug Johnstone
Rated: 5 stars *****

I hadn’t read any of Doug Johnstone’s books before, but I am very glad I have had the opportunity to read and review now. It turns out he’s very good in what he writes and I can see why he’s so critically accalimed. The Big Chill is a very good thriller that has depth of character and plot to it.
Discover more about this Edinburgh based author, the blurb and my review.
I also thank Orenda Books for supplying me with a book and Anne for inviting me on the blog tour.

About the Author

Doug Johnstone Author PicMcIlvanney-shortlisted Doug Johnstone’s follow-up to his critically acclaimed A Dark Matter, which introduced three generations of women from the Skelf family, who run both a funeral home and a private investigation business.
Doug Johnstone is the author of more ten novels, most recently Breakers (2019), which has been shortlisted for the McIlvanney Prize for Scottish Crime Novel of the Year and A Dark Matter (2020), which launched the Skelfs series. 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, which he drew on to write A Dark Matter – 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.

The Big Chill Cover


Haunted by their past, the Skelf women are hoping for a quieter life. But running both a funeral directors’ and a private investigation business means trouble is never far away, and when a car crashes into the open grave at a funeral Dorothy is conducting, she can’t help looking into the dead driver ’s shadowy life.

While Dorothy uncovers a dark truth at the heart of Edinburgh society, her daughter Jenny and granddaughter Hannah have their own struggles. Jenny’s ex-husband Craig is making plans that could shatter the Skelf women’s lives, and the increasingly obsessive Hannah has formed a friendship with an elderly professor that is fast turning deadly.
But something even more sinister emerges when a drumming student of Dorothy’s disappears, and suspicion falls on her parents. The Skelf women find themselves immersed in an unbearable darkness – but could the real threat be to themselves?

Fast-paced, darkly funny, yet touching and tender, the Skelf family series is a welcome reboot to the classic PI novel, whilst also asking deeper questions about family, society and grief.

The Big Chill Cover


Meet Dorothy, Jenny and Hannah. They each have a chapter that rotates as the story goes along.

Set in Edinburgh, Scotland, the writing is well-plotted and enthralling, throughout. The Big Chill is interesting, intriguing and tightly written. I like the chapters alternating between each of the people mentioned above. Their parts that create the bigger picture of the story, are all interwoven well.
There are some cleverly placed film references in the book, which is enjoyable and quite different.

Dorothy and Jenny like being surrounded by dead people. Work takes them between the funeral parlour and being a Private Investagator.
Jenny is hired to find evidence of Orla, Liam’s wife, having an affair with the gardener.

Hannah on the other-hand is getting therapy because of something that happened to her dad.

There’s a fabulous energy through the main characters, fuelled by their anger of what happened to Hannah’s dad. It’s just very realistically written and allows readers to feel their anger and feel compassion for them.

It’s an interesting subject to write about – death in the way this book is written. There’s death, but there’s also a person with a psychological condition that is under control, but has made him believe he was dead.

The story looks a bit into what goes on in a funeral parlour, which is fairly different and how different people have died, which is fascinatingly written into this fictional book.

There’s deaths, including a murder, a case to be solved once as there is a suspect and at the heart of it all is Dorothy, Jenny and Hannah. I enjoyed both the thriller element and how their lives are revealed.

I also like the tones within it and that whole pussy-footing around trying not to say the word “dead” to Hannah and her saying that it is okay to say “dead” to her is so realistically done. There is also the sadness, but also the compelling nature of this thriller, with a little bit of humour mixed in, that makes each page so enticing to read.

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Check this #CoverReveal for The Things I Want To Say But Can’t By Carla Christian #CarlaChristian @lovebooksgroup #lovebookstours #Fiction #ComingSoon

The Things I Want To Say But Can’t
By Carla Christian

The Things I Want To Say But Can't (1)

Today I am on the blog tour to show the cover and some content for the fictional book –The Things I Want To Say By Can’t by Carla Christian. It sounds fascinating. I will then, on the 2nd September, present my review. In the mean-time check out the cover, blurb and about the author. The cover looks so evocative with a face showing through the butterfly. There are also some emotive pictures of the author, taken in Stockholm and Copenhagen when she was there. She resides in the UK, as you can discover below…
I thank Carla Christian and Love Books Tours for inviting me and providing the content.

What I Want to Say Cover



‘A lifetime of endings, a million goodbyes. None of them right. It’s funny what you remember when you’ve got nothing else to think about. All those things you should’ve said while you had the chance. You never learned, did you? You never, ever learned.’

Belle has a habit of losing things. Her friends. Her lovers. Her mind.

Everything ends eventually, or at least that’s what life has taught her. But what if everything she lost came back again? What if she got a chance to finally have her say? To face her past. To put things right.

Second chances aren’t easy when memories are all you have. So, when Belle invites the nightmares of her past back in, is she willing to deal with the consequences? Because maybe, just maybe, this time she’s getting what she deserves.

About the Author

Carla Christian lives in the Lake District in the North of England. A busy working mum of two teenagers, she has a passion for writing, art and travel, and these interests have been a part of her for as long as she can remember. 

Constantly inspired by both the good and the bad in the world around her, she spends much of her time creating in one way or another; be it painting canvases for the blank walls of her new home, sketching pictures to capture memories of the many travel adventures she’s been lucky enough to go on, baking fantastical cakes with her daughter, or writing endless beginnings to a million unfinished stories.

The Things I Want To Say But Can’t is her first novel.

#Review of the gritty – Snatched From Home by Graham Smith @GrahamSmith1972 @NightsBooks @RandomTTours #CrimeFiction #blogtour

Snatched From Home
By Graham Smith
Rated: 4 stars ****

A kidnapping that leads to blackmail and the first case for DI John Campbell to solve before time runs out is the crux of this gripping case.
Thanks to Anne at Random Things Tours for inviting me and for her and Graham Smith and Caffeine Nights Publishing for sending me a copy of the book.
Discover the blurb and review and a bit about this crime fiction author in Scotland, below.

Snatched From Home


DI Harry Evans – Book 1

What would you do to save your children?

Middle-class parents Victoria and Nicholas Foulkes are distraught when their children are kidnapped against Nicholas’ gambling debts. Penniless and desperate the couple turn to crime as a way to raise the ransom.

Hot on their heels is recently bereaved DI Harry Evans and his Major Crimes team. Evans is fighting against enforced retirement and his replacement – DI John Campbell – is foisted upon him along with other cases. If he must leave the police then he wants one last big case before he goes.

In a race against time Victoria and Nicholas must evade the police while continuing to add to the ransom fund. If they don’t pay up on time the kidnappers have threatened to amputate their children’s limbs with an oxy-acetylene torch.

Can they save their children before time runs out?


From page one, the action begins and spirals into any parent’s worst nightmare of a child being abducted in this gritty, fast-paced crime book. The setting is Carlisle, around the Lake District and the Scottish borders.

Victoria is left in tears but with a grit and determination to get her children, Samantha and Kyle back. It wasn’t a chance kidnapping either. It was all planned to force her into repaying debts that her husband – Nicholas, has and it takes a toll on the family.

DCI Peter Grantham and DI Campbell and DI Harry Evans are the detectives on the case. There’s no “pussy-footing” around with these guys and they certainly don’t “mince” their words. DI Campbell got the transfer he wanted out of Glasgow to Cumbria. Apart from dealing with crimes, there’s the more sociable side to them too, like talk of ‘pop-culture’. They’re definitely not a fan of the ‘pen-pushers’. They’re pretty rough and ready.

Every so often, in a manner that flows well, the book goes back to the children and their captives.

The characters that are created are engaging and pretty hard-hitting and no-nonsense. There are degrees of tension that ascends throughout.

About the Author

graham-smith-author-photo- (1)Graham Smith is a time served joiner who has built bridges, houses, dug drains and slated roofs to make ends meet. Since Christmas 2000, he has been manager of a busy hotel and wedding venue near Gretna Green, Scotland.

He is an internationally best-selling Kindle author and has six books featuring DI Harry Evans and the Cumbrian Major Crimes Team, and four novels, featuring Utah doorman, Jake Boulder. His ‘Lakes’ series which has three novels featuring DC Beth Young has received much critical acclaim.

An avid fan of crime fiction since being given one of Enid Blyton’s Famous Five books at the age of eight, he has also been a regular reviewer and interviewer for the well-respected website since 2009

Graham is the founder of Crime and Publishment, a weekend of crime-writing classes which includes the chance for attendees to pitch their novels to agents and publishers. Since the first weekend in 2013, ten attendees have gone on to sign publishing contracts.

Graham can be found at:



#Review of the gritty Dance With the Reaper by Wes Markin @MarkinWes @CazVinBooks #NewBook #CrimeFiction #blogtour

Dance With The Reaper
By Wes Markin
Rated: 5 stars *****

I have been reading and reviewing Wes Markin’s books since the second one. This is now his 5th (discover after the review. They are gritty, gripping, fast-paced crime fiction/police procedural books that have readers follow DCI Michael Yorke. The suspects are very intriguing and attention grabbing.
I thought the previous one was his best yet, but perhaps it could even be this one. They are all so well-crafted and especially this one. It was again, a pleasure to be invited by Caroline Vincent to review, this time – Dance With The Reaper, so I thank her and Wes Markin for providing a copy of the book to review from.

Find the blurb and review and then Wes Markin’s social media links below.

About the Author

Wes Markin Author Image (2)Wes Markin is a hyperactive English teacher, who loves writing crime fiction with a twist of the macabre.

Having finished the fifth instalment in the DCI Yorke series, Dance with the Reaper, Wes is now working on the sixth instalment of DCI Yorke’s wild ride. He is also the author of Defined, a prequel to his DCI Yorke novels, which takes the reader back to his blood-soaked university days.

Born in 1978, Wes grew up in Manchester, UK. After graduating from Leeds University, he spent fifteen years as a teacher of English, and has taught in Thailand, Malaysia and China. Now as a teacher, writer, husband and father, he is currently living in Harrogate, UK.


How do you stop a perfect killer?

After the terrible events of the past year, DCI Yorke’s team are on the verge of finding peace. But after a terrifying act of violence shatters their equilibrium, they are forced to dance with a skilled assassin who knows no equal.

After it becomes clear that this hitman is connected to the most shadowy of criminal organisations, Yorke is forced to dive into his own past, and face a future in which he is either alone, or dead.

Can Yorke and those he holds dearest survive the Reaper? Or will this be one dance too many?

Dance with the Reaper - book cover


This is the latest of the DCI Michael Yorke gritty and gripping series. There’s a mix of the literal and the non-literal within this book. Murder and music are mixed, all atuned together to create the essence of this story; there’s also the dance. The dance in the literal sense, relates to a ballet and Ukrainian and Russian syndicates.
The dance isn’t, however all in the literal sense. It’s the dance of life and death, the dance that the police are led on to follow and try and capture the victim’s murderer. In a sense, there’s the dance that readers are led on with all the different music that is ‘played’ that is weaved in and out of the story as you inadvertently also ‘Dance With The Reaper‘.

There’s some fun banter between him and his wife – Patricia as The Rolling Stones are on in the background on the radio – Radio Exodus. The lyrics that Wes Markin has picked out are cleverly apt for the book and its title. It always amazes me when people can do that.

The book shows the effects death can have on a 14 year old, even with all the support from Michael and Patricia Yorke who adopted him. It is however quite a small part of the story, but it nicely shows their life together when they aren’t at work. It’s a nice thing to see their lives at home too.

There is something else brewing as there’s obvious distress from the radio presenter Michael and Patricia are listening to and the action that ensues. The distress is for good reason. Anyone in her position would be as her life is in imminent danger. The book becomes suddenly tense.

There had been a question asked on the radio where the answer relates to the title of this book, almost…  The tension builds so well as this one question will determine on if she lives or dies.

Cozy Mystery writer – Matthew Peacock is a curious man, chancing his luck that the police will tell him everything. He may or may not be a suspect.

Herbert Wheelhouse (‘Reaper’ Wheelhouse)is in a downgraded prison now from a category A prison and is 70 years old. There’s a good insight as to what someone working in the police may feel about the different types of prisons, at least from DCI Yorke’s point of view. Herbert is definitely a most evil character. It’s written with believability about how both DCI Yorke, who keeps his professionalism and his colleague – Jake feel about seeing him and questioning him in prison about Janice Edwards, and also The Youngs, a particularly evil group who have mastered torture.

The book touches on things that have been reported on the news, such as County Lines. It’s added into the story very well and makes it so current, with the issues with drugs that are going on within the UK. It’s a gritty, contemporary book!

There are unexpected connections to Patricia with a criminal – Douglas Firth, who may or may not have something to do with a murder. It’s something that may make you sit up right! Both prisoners are also chilling down the spine. There is also Borya Turgenev who is wanted for crimes, who the police want to capture, who is a ballet dancer. An impressive one at that, by all accounts, but doesn’t act like your usual dancer at all. He has a secret that he has in his room. It’s one that wouldn’t be expected. It’s one that goes against the grace of his ballet steps.

Although this can be a somewhat gruesome series, it is incredibly well-conceived and written as crime and office politics and relationships all weave together, with their twists, so it is one that I recommend.

The books can be read as stand-alone books or as part of the series. There are: One Last Prayer for the Rays, The Repenting Serpent, The Silence of Severance, Rise of the Rays and the latest is – Dance With the Reaper

Wes Markin on Social Media

Facebook Author Page 
Goodreads Author Page
Amazon Author Page   

Dance with the Reaper Blog Tour Poster



#Review of Hinton Hollow Death Trip by Will Carver @will_carver @OrendaBooks #DSPace #MustRead #BlogTour #HintonHollowDeathTrip

Hinton Hollow Death Trip
By Will Carver
Rated: 5 Stars *****

After Will Carver’s impressive book – Nothing Important Happened Today, which still won’t leave me. Hinton Hollow Death Trip seemed too good an opportunity to pass up. It is incredibly mesmerising and one of the most unique books of the year!

I thank Random Things Tours and Orenda Books for inviting me to review and for providing an e-book.

Find out the blurb and my review below of this amazing book that is hard to put down and when finished, doesn’t leave.

About the Author

Will Carver Author pIcWill 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 eleven, 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, and lives in Reading with his two children. Good Samaritans was book of the year in Guardian, Telegraph and Daily Express, and hit number one on the ebook charts.


It’s a small story. A small town with small lives that you would never have heard
about if none of this had happened.
Hinton Hollow. Population 5,120.
Little Henry Wallace was eight years old and one hundred miles from home
before anyone talked to him. His mother placed him on a train with a label
around his neck, asking for him to be kept safe for a week, kept away from
Hinton Hollow.
Because something was coming.
Narrated by Evil itself, Hinton Hollow Death Trip recounts five days in the
history of this small rural town, when darkness paid a visit and infected its
residents. A visit that made them act in unnatural ways. Prodding at their
insecurities. Nudging at their secrets and desires. Coaxing out the malevolence
suppressed within them. Showing their true selves.
Making them cheat.
Making them steal.
Making them kill.
Detective Sergeant Pace had returned to his childhood home. To escape the
things he had done in the city. To go back to something simple. But he was not
alone. Evil had a plan.

Hinton Hollow Death Trip Cover


Hinton Hollow Death-Trip is mesmerising and is another incredible unique, Must Read book from Will Carver. It’s poignant in ways you can’t even imagine until you’ve read it and digested all that it is telling you. It makes you think of life from a whole different perspective and then go off to want things to be better. Hinton Hollow is 1 place, but the people within it are also recognisable to be within your village, town, city.

It neatly starts with a prologue of who you will meet – A boy on a train, A detective, A pig hater, A food lover, A window breaker and your narrator. Sounds so far intriguing and eclectic. The narrator is the most unique I’ve ever seen. If I were playing a game of “guess the narrator”, I’d win! The narrator is the deepest, darkest thing you could possibly think of. The narrator is chilling in your mind and across your bones….. The narrator is…….. Evil!

Evil, although the embodiment of evil who is telling you this story of this small town, isn’t all you think it to be. This isn’t a book to enter into with preconceived ideas.

Will Carver is clever about playing on people’s psyches. He understands human behaviour. So, when he begins with the phrase,’Don’t Read This!’ of course you’ll read it. How can you not accept such a tempting invitation? You can’t help yourself. I mean, that makes you want to read on… Will Carver is quite the master of reverse psychology. It gets under your skin and into your mind in its uniqueness to how to begin a book.
The reader is placed right at every part of the book. The narrator will address you from time to time, like an actor might when looking straight down a camera lens.

Hinton Hollow is a pretty average town. I do love that people would rather walk than take their cars and really support their local businesses from the bakery to the independent bookshop, even though there are supermarkets. 

The boy on the train is 8 years old and travels 100 miles before anyone even talks to him (says a lot about the sorry state of society already). He has something around his neck. There’s a fantastically thought-provoking piece about bystander behaviour. I love it because it will be sadly so true for so many, so therefore this speaks a truth, right there, a window into society, that is more than just Hinton Hollow. This is a book that will really touch people.

The story goes on to list how evil may present itself and cleverly lists 1 that harks back to Nothing Important Happened Today. The narrator also demonstrates what it is not in the most unexpected of ways. I will say, that although there are mentions of some actions of the previous book, you can read this as a stand-alone too.

Readers will follow Evil for 5 days, although the story is over 7, encountering people it meets. By this time, you really won’t want to put the book down. It’s astonishingly brilliant and powerful as it grips. You will want to find out more. It’s another book that is relatable to what goes on today, told from a darker point of view. It shows life from a different perspective… That’s why it is so important!

Day One you meet childhood sweethearts, A town elder (or 2), Our detective’s girlfriend, The Brady family and an ordinary man. Evil talks about good and how it is viewed in society and how the bar is now set at such a low level to be called “good”. This however does cause some problems and challenges for “Evil”.

There are some life changing events on Day 1. Detective Pace has also only just returned to Hinton Hollow and attempts to rediscover where he fits back into the town, from the case about the strange suicide pact that was like no other.

Our narrator – Evil, loiters everywhere and around people you wouldn’t even expect!

Day Two and Three come and more can be learnt about how Evil moves and how things in this town changes. There’s an interesting bit that Evil tells us about how death is perceived between human and animal. I love that it spells out how perplexing it is. It probably isn’t something people think about. This is another thing Will Carver is incredibly perceptive about – he digs out these nuances of people and points them out to people within the story as Evil sees them, even though utterly perplexingly, Evil wonders if retirement is a possibility. This book has some unexpected dark humour such as this.

Hinton Hollow becomes a changed place from the beginning of the book as Evil works in further and yet almost tries to absolve itself from how people are behaving at times in the same way people try to say they are purely innocent of things when they are not or blame some evil force at work. 

Throughout the book there are also investigations going on, involving Detective Pace’s team.

Evil, in a wonderful passage even talks about death and about how some people don’t react to being told about it when it is perhaps not their loved one who died. I say it is wonderful because it’s incredibly thought-provoking.

On Day 4 readers are told that you will consider:
An old lady who won’t give up, A priest asking for forgiveness, The Raymond family, A pig stealer, Sibling rivalry, The importance of biscuits and the need for a little time. Upon reading the importance of biscuits, this was quite amusing.

Days Five and Six sees the coming to a close to the story. Even the ending is amazing. It will explain what you’ve just read and clarify it for you.
  Know this – it contains some of the most powerful and positive messages I think people will ever read. This is where there are straight messages, instructions even, that are incredibly powerful and not what you’d expect. This book actually presents a hope that things outside the book, in the real world can change for the better and so can people individually and collectively. It totally makes me smile. This is the book people need to read!

This book is another incredibly important books of our times. Will Carver’s  books may be dark, but sometimes that’s needed to create something more positive in society. He delves into the deepest darkest parts, which affects every single person’s life who is alive right now, and isn’t afraid to do so. He is also not afraid to say how to help fix societies ills and to make you think and perhaps it could affect you in postive ways.

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The Uncommon Life of Alfred Warner in Six Days by Juliet Conlin @julietconlin @bwpublishing @lovebooksgroup #lovebookstours

The Uncommon Life of Alfred Warner in Six Days
By Juliet Conlin

Today I have a blurb and an excerpt to share with you from the intriguing sounding – The Uncommon Life of Alfred Warner in Six Days. It’s sure to whet your appetites for this book.
I thank BW Publishing and Love Books Group for the invite for this blog tour and for providing the content.

Alfred Warner Cover pic


Approaching 80, frail and alone, a remarkable man makes the journey from his sheltered home in England to Berlin to meet his granddaughter. He has six days left to live and must relate his life story before he dies…

His life has been rich and full. He has witnessed firsthand the rise of the Nazis, experienced heartrending family tragedy, fought in the German army, been interred in a POW camp in Scotland and faced violent persecution in peacetime Britain. But he has also touched many lives, fallen deeply in love, raised a family and survived triumphantly at the limits of human endurance. He carries within him an astonishing family secret that he must share before he dies… a story that will mean someone else’s salvation.

Welcome to the moving, heart-warming and uncommon life of Alfred Warner.


I felt a sudden sinking sensation in my gut, like when an aeroplane loses altitude rapidly, and I immediately turned to look at Alfred. He was still sitting in the armchair, his head leaning against the backrest, his mouth slightly open. But he was no longer snoring. I remember thinking I should have felt panicked, but instead, I felt remarkably calm. When I turned back to Brynja, her eyes were shut again, and I wasn’t sure if I’d just imagined her looking at me, whispering to me. Oddly, I didn’t stop to wonder how she would know my name.

I got up slowly and walked over to Alfred. His skin was warm to the touch as I smoothed down a few unruly wisps of his hair, but he was completely, utterly still. Then I went to fetch the nurse. 

Buy Link

About the Author

Alfred Warner author picJuliet Conlin was born in London and grew up in England and Germany. She has an MA in Creative Writing from Lancaster University and a PhD in Psychology from the University of Durham. She works as a writer and translator and lives with her family in Berlin. Her novels include The Fractured Man (Cargo, 2013), The Uncommon Life of Alfred Warner in Six Days (Black & White, 2017), The Lives Before Us (Black & White, 2019).

Alfred Warner Twitter (1)