#Review By Lou – Silenced By Jennie Ensor @Jennie_Ensor @HobeckBooks #Thriller #CrimeFiction

Silenced
By Jennie Ensor

Rating: 5 out of 5.

Today I am delighted to be on the blog tour, thanks to Hobeck Books who invited me, with my review of the powerful thriller – Silenced by Jennie Ensor. Take a look at the synopsis and my review below, as well as the stunningly creepy, dark, yet atmospheric cover. Find out after all that, a little about the author too.

Silenced cover

Synopsis

gang culture, gang culture fiction, urban fiction, crime fiction, urban crime

gang culture, gang culture fiction, urban fiction, crime fiction, urban crime

gang culture, gang culture fiction, urban fiction, crime fiction, urban crime

DI Callum Waverley of the Met’s Major Investigation Team 55 is put in charge of his first murder investigation after a 15-year-old girl is stabbed outside a council estate controlled by the Skull Boys gang. Callum believes that the gang leader, V, ordered the murder. Witnesses are scared to come forward and he struggles to make headway.  Luke, who lives in the estate’s shadow, is drawn into the Skull Boys. Excluded from school, he befriends Jez, a troubled girl being exploited by the gang’s hitman, Zom. Callum becomes the target of escalating intimidation, seemingly from the Skull Boys. He suspects someone in his team may also be involved. Silenced is a gritty crime novel set in north London which delves into the heart of gang culture in 21st-century Britain.

Review

A teenage girl is brutally and shockingly murdered, shaking up the North London community to the core and becomes DI Callum Waverley’s first case. All the teenager was trying to do was try to get home. This a book with pace and so many layers. On the face of it, it’s a standard police procedural, but when you really get into it, there’s much, much more. This is about a community that feels silenced from talking to the police, not even the victim’s own mother wants to. They are all perpetually scared of the Skull Crew and what they might do to silence them. It takes a lot of work for the new DI to penetrate through the wall of silence and unravel the clues as to what happened. DI Callum Waverely also has his own demons to battle and has to push through them to solve the case.

There are themes of exploitation too and as well as exploring this, it also explores people within families who just don’t seem to care enough that their kids are being taken in by gangs when they are at their most vulnerable or acting out or thinking this would be a better way of life etc. This really goes deep into the depths of society, not just with this aspect, but also just how easy it can be for some to fall into being used by gangs and how hard it is to change your life around and escape, once so deep into them. There’s so much depth into the behaviours, morals and injustices that are created by society and are still in existence in Britain in 2021.

There are also themes of love, family, betrayal, violence, alcoholism, loss. The writing is dark, yet has an air of sophistication in all that it deals with, including the impact of crime, not just on the victims and witnesses, but also on those working in the police force, especially those investigating it, which brings a different angle to a police procedural. 

This is one powerful and intensely gripping and gritty book!

Conspiracy of Cats By B.C. Harris @BCHarris64 #CrimeFiction #SupernaturalCrimeFiction #MurderMystery

 Conspiracy of Cats
By B.C. Harris

Rating: 4.5 out of 5.

I am pleased to bring a review of The Conspiracy of Cats – an involving, chilling murder mystery with a difference that makes it fairly unique. Thanks to Ian Harris for getting in touch and for gifting me a copy of the book in exchange of an honest review.
Take a look at the blurb and review below to find out more.

Conspiracy of Cats

Blurb

Conspiracy of CatsCONSPIRACY OF CATS… a supernatural murder mystery.
An apprehensive Jos Ferguson travels from Edinburgh to northern Tanzania to visit the house her Uncle Peter built before he died. But Peter isn’t as dead as he should be… he was murdered, and he wants his niece to help him exact revenge upon his killer. With a little Maasai magic and a conspiracy of cats, Jos sets out to do exactly that.
A beautiful house. A horrible death. A brilliant revenge.
Who knew death could be so lively?

Review

Meet Jos Ferguson, who’s life is between Scotland, where she is originally from, Tanzania and England. It gets off to an immense start that grips. Readers learn of freak accidents and a murder, so the book isn’t an average journey or holiday and life poses much heartache and challenge.

Meet Jude (Judith Johnstone) is Jos’s aunt who lives in Edinburgh and is most definitely a “cat lady” with no less than 7 cats. There are some heartfelt scenes as she sees Jos off to Africa. She wasn’t always in Edinburgh. It’s interesting reading about her life in the 1970’s when she travelled, rather stylishly for the times, to Bristol in her teenage years, plus attending a party that was so on-trend in Bath, where she met Peter…

The Conspiracy of Cats is immersive, being made up of descriptions and getting to know the people, especially the Maasai Beola and the cats within it. It’s texturised in words and feels rich and all beautifully written. There’s a great house and spacious, beautiful garden, full of nature, created by Jos’s Uncle Peter, where she stays when in Tanzania. It all pulls you almost into a comfortable idyll, rather like being in your own garden whatever the size, if you have one. 

A strange sighting of Peter makes your spine tingle and suddenly a whole new question is posed about his death or if he is really dead and throws Jos into some disarray, this also has an effect on Jude. The book takes a bit of an eerie turn and Jos feels the need to investigate further… There’s a little bit of a supternatural and magical bent that makes this an untypical mystery. This isn’t full on fantasy though, it is a fairly unique crime fictional book that doesn’t have a police detective’s life within it or police stations.

Readers get to know a bit about the Massai culture, which is interesting to read about.

The book certainly takes readers on their “armchair travels” as they see where the characters go and have been in past and present times. 

When the big cats are met, they are keenly described and this gives them real character and have lovely names. They are very much with Jos to set out revenge.

As the investigation continues, there’s an unexpected dark truth that begins to emerge as the sharp edges to the bit of cosyness and humour, gets even edgier and sharper that becomes more chilling than first thought, in this very involving and consuming story.

#BookReview By Lou – Good Cop, Bad Cop By Simon Kernick Happy Publication Day @simonkernick @headlinepg @RandomTTours #GoodCopBadCop #Thriller #BlogTour

Good Cop, Bad Cop
By Simon Kernick

Rating: 5 out of 5.

Firstly – I wish Simon Kernick a Happy Publication Day! Today I am pleased to review Good Cop, Bad Cop by Simon Kernick on the Random Things Blog Tour.

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Don’t forget to breath whilst reading this high octane book!

Check out the blurb and my full review below. Thanks to Headline for gifting me Good Cop, Bad Cop and for Random Thing Tours for inviting me to review.

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Blurb

COURAGEOUS HERO OR COLD-BLOODED CRIMINAL? TONIGHT WE FIND OUT.

It’s 14 years after the worst terrorist atrocity in UK history and, with the perpetrators either dead or missing, the motive remains a mystery.  But Dr Ralph Teller, a wealthy industrialist who lost his wife in the attack, never gave up hope of justice.  He thinks he knows the real identity of the mastermind responsible.

Only one person can help him put together the final pieces of the puzzle – retired police officer Chris Sketty, who infiltrated the terrorist group and was wounded trying to prevent the attack. But Cleverly thinks Sketty is a liar…and possibly far worse He has a dossier on all the former cop’s dark secrets and will make them public unless Sketty tells the truth.

So, over one night, Sketty will share his brutal tale of betrayal, ruthlessness and corruption, finishing with a revelation so terrifying and unexpected that it will change everything. Is Sketty a brave hero, crippled in the line of duty, or the most ruthless mass murderer the country has ever seen?

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Review

Mr Chris Sketty is an interesting character you will want to know. He has a deeply shocking story to tell. It’s about a shocking time of terror that he recalls from 15 years ago. You’re absorbed into Counter Terrorism and the events that happen round about. The book however starts in present day with a heart in your mouth, seriously emotional moment, before whisking readers back. It feels like Chris Sketty, now seriously injured in the line of duty, is sitting beside you giving his account of what happened. It’s clever, involving writing. Simon Kernick revs up the pace very quickly for a a high occtaine, adrenaline driven book.

Chris, with the horrors he sees in his work to contend with, also has major relationship issues. Then there’s the fact he is also lauded a hero, and perhaps on the face of it he may be, but this is twisty book that keeps you guessing and questioning if he really is a hero or not and whether all is as black and white as it first seems. One moment it’s easy to see why he is praised for being all heroic, but the next moment, raises questions as all starts to spill out, like a statement that you’re witnessing as to what really happened, but you never know for sure until the very end what is the real truth and whether he is hero or criminal. 
There is so much that Sketty gets embroiled in as well as the manipulative people he has to deal with. It’s the darkest of places where terrorists lurk and carry out their evil acts. Each page that turns is edge of your seat writing; the pages can’t turn fast enough!

There are so many revelations, even in part 2, which was only 6 weeks ago from part 1. There are so many deaths and you can’t tell instantly who to trust and who are totally untrustworthy. The writing is masterful and so skilled. The thriller is never lost and increasingly builds until you’ve reached the end and closed the book.

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#BookReview By Lou – The Bobby Girls War By Johanna Bell @JoBellAuthor @HodderBooks #BobbyGirlsSeries #WW1 #Saga #TeamBookEnds

The Bobby Girls War
By Johanna Bell

Rating: 5 out of 5.

A series that makes you want to stay with from beginning and each new book that is published. The Bobby Girls War is the latest in the series. Even if this isn’t your normal genre or era to read, I highly recommend giving them a try as there’s so much to them at a fast-pace, and yet they are a good read to relax with in these increasingly colder days. Thanks to Hodder & Staughton for gifting me the book to review. Discover more in the blurb and then my review below.

Blurb

The Bobby Girls War coverCurl up with Book Four in the gorgeous Bobby Girls series now!

1916. Poppy is being transferred to an enormous new munitions complex in Gretna, on the Scottish border. Even though it means moving far away from her best friends Maggie and Annie, she is excited for the challenge.

As a member of the Women’s Police Service, it’s her job to maintain law and order so that the factory workers can safely carry out their vital war work. She soon makes friends, and even starts to open herself up to the possibility of love.

But then she sees something in the dead of night, and suddenly the dangers of the war are no longer far away on distant shores. With the enemy hot on her heels and no idea who to trust, can Poppy save herself – and avert disaster for her country?

 

Review

It is often a delight to read and review from The Bobby Girls series. These are books that are  great for curling up with in the wintry months to find out what the girls are up to next. This one concentrates more on Poppy Davis as she has moved away from being around, her now established, newest friends in London, England, to Gretna, Scotland. There is also still much enjoyment to catch up with her friends Maggie and Annie too, who are also very busy with the Foundling Hospital which is feeling the pressure of increasing intakes of “doorstep” abandoned babies, which Poppy also helps with before she leaves. Maggie and Annie are also busy with the WPS setting up places they can go too.

There are some changes with Alice in munitions and also a new Chief Constable – Chief Constable Jackson, who has a lot to catch up on of what has been happening, particularly in Holborn with continuing work to further reduce prostitutes around the area and abandoned babies.

 The book gives insight to the war through the soldiers and also from what it was like being home, as shown through an emotional, yet beautifully composed letter for Poppy. When Poppy does arrive in Scotland, there’s more to learn than she seems to initially thought from Grace as well as many dangers so many workers face each day, especially with explosive chemicals in the factories where one wrong move could be deadly, which adds some suspense, as does the possibility of a spy…. Once again, the writing is enthralling and as the chapters go on, you just want to know more. There’s more than meets the eye for Poppy to manage, who starts to have her doubts whether she can manage or not, even with Grace’s positivity. Nightshifts bring more dangers, more than she could ever know until there is a highly perilous position with not much time to waste! There are some gaspable moments to say the least and all is riveting.

The book is refreshing as it shows a different side to some males in the force who Poppy meets as it shows that they can (and many were) supportive. This book also shows the developing relationships between the different characters, including one from Christmas, which is so heartwarming. Even though there’s dangers and hardships, there is warmth and some really lovely moments and a bit of romance. She also hasn’t left her London friends completely behind either. It shows that distance doesn’t mean friendships end.

Lou Presents an #Extract #Excerpt of Release By Karen Moore @KarenMo35731701 @darkstrokedark @between_pr #Release #Thriller #CrimeFiction #BlogTour

Today I have been gifted an extract from the first chapter of Release for you to read, be inspired by, be perhaps pulled in by. Find out more about the author, the blurb and of course a sneaky peak of part of the book. I thank Reading Between The Lines and  for gifting me the extract and inviting 

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About the Author

Release authorKaren Moore is passionate about all things noir – crime, mystery, thrillers – and writes in that genre.

She has been writing all her life, mostly for work purposes, and is now delighted to be able to spend more time developing her own creative work.

Her debut novel, Torn, is a dark tale of intrigue and betrayal set in Sicily and North Wales. Release is the sequel, although it is written as a standalone novel for people who may not have read Torn.

Karen worked as a tour guide across Europe, North America and Canada, followed by a career in PR and marketing. She has lived in France and Italy, and is now based in Cheshire, England. Her cat, Lexi, often appears in her social media feeds.

 BLURB

ReleaseWhen Hanna’s estranged mafioso husband, Luciano, is released early from a Sicilian prison, she fears he will come after her and her young daughter, Eva.

The revelation leaves her with a dilemma. Invited to Sicily to attend her best friend’s wedding, can she really take the risk?

But even staying at home in North Wales may not be safe. Something strange is going on at her old cottage in the hills. As the lines between Sicily and North Wales blur, Hanna uncovers a criminal operation that leads her to fear for Eva’s life all over again.

Will Hanna ever be able to release herself from Luciano’s grip? Or will her discovery lead her into even deeper danger?

Excerpt

Chapter One

Shielding her eyes against the dazzling sunlight, Hanna shivered as she stepped out into the afternoon heat. Maybe it was the sharp contrast in temperature after the coolness of the cottage. Or was there another reason? Something was bothering her, an uneasy feeling in the pit of her stomach she’d had all day. It was as if the nightmares of the past were lurking in the shadows, threatening to return.
Trying to ignore it, she carried the tray of marinated chicken pieces over to the barbecue where Rhys was busy poking the glowing coals. His tanned face crinkled into a smile.
“Nearly ready now. Only a few more minutes. I’m ravenous. Don’t know about you?” Rhys almost had to shout to make himself heard above Eva’s shrieks as she tore around the garden after Bryn, his new squeaky doggy toy clamped between his jaws.
Hanna forced a smile. “Me, too.”
“How about an aperitif while we wait?”
She nodded and flopped onto a garden lounger. “That’d be great, just what I need.”
Rhys wiped the beads of sweat off his forehead with the back of his arm. “Fine. Won’t be a
minute…” he said, already making for the back door into the kitchen.
Hanna sat back with a sigh. Cosmo, their adopted cat, stretched out lazily on the patio, basking
in the sun, purring contentedly. The heady scent of sweet honeysuckle wafted through the air. The garden was a blaze of colour: swathes of pink and purple mallow, dainty red fuchsias, spectacular blue hydrangeas, giant yellow daisies, and delicate peach roses. Amazing how they manage to bloom with so little attention, she thought. There was even a fig tree, although she doubted it would bear fruit in the Welsh climate. The fine weather wouldn’t last long.
The warm sun made her drowsy and she was almost nodding off when she heard the chink of ice against glass. Rhys set two tall drinks down on the table, together with a bowl of olives. He collapsed onto the lounger next to her.
“I thought you might like one of these,” he said, handing her a glass filled with a sparkling dark-coloured liquid, a twist of blood orange clinging to its rim.
She took a sip, savouring the familiar bittersweet orange flavour that immediately conjured up memories of Sicily. Memories more bitter than sweet. A shudder ran through her as if a dark cloud had passed over the sun. Shrugging it off, she said, “Orange vermouth, my favourite! Wherever did you find it?”
Rhys grinned as he reached for his drink, studying her over the top of his glass. “I saw it the other day in a farm shop and remembered you telling me how much you used to like it.”
“It’s wonderful, really refreshing. The perfect summer drink,” said Hanna, reaching for an olive.
Rhys downed half his drink in one gulp. “Mmm, not bad. I might have to have another one.” Hanna laughed. “You’re supposed to sip it slowly and relish its tangy aroma.”
“You sound like an advert! No wonder you’re in marketing!”
“You’d better get a move on with that chicken. Eva’ll be famished after all that running
around.”
“OK, boss, anything you say.” Rhys finished his drink, returned to the barbecue, and started to
load the chicken onto the rack.
Hanna took another sip and scanned the garden again. Eva was still charging around after Bryn in a game of hide-and-seek that he seemed to be winning. Peals of laughter and high- pitched squeals from the squeaky toy floated on the air. Just as well we’ve no immediate neighbours to disturb, she thought. Rhys busied himself at the barbecue, deftly wielding a pair of tongs, humming softly to himself.
So much had happened since Sicily and her daughter’s kidnapping two years earlier. By some miracle Eva had emerged remarkably unscathed, and as her fifth birthday approached, she was growing into a chirpy and inquisitive little girl. She seemed happy in their new home, an old stone cottage in the little village of Abergarron, slightly set back from the North Wales coast, and had settled in well at the school she had been attending for the past few months.
But for Hanna it hadn’t been so easy, and she still bore the scars of her Sicilian husband’s betrayal and deceit. What hurt the most was the apparent ease with which he had shunned both his wife and daughter in favour of the noxious family business. But at least that was all behind her now, and Luciano was paying the price: a fourteen-year jail sentence in Palermo’s Pagliarelli maximum-security prison.
Trying to dismiss her feeling of foreboding, Hanna reminded herself she had much to be thankful for. Eva no longer asked about Luciano and her Sicilian grandparents, and had accepted Rhys without too many questions. Hanna’s own relationship with Rhys was warm and loving, a bond that had developed naturally without any great effort on either part.

The Great Silence by Doug Johnstone @doug_johnstone @OrendaBooks #RandomTTours #TheSkelfs #TheGreatSilence #CrimeFiction

The Great Silence
by Doug Johnstone

Rating: 4.5 out of 5.

The Great Silence is the latest book in The Skelfs series. They are back. Thanks to Random T. Tours for inviting me to the blog tour and to Orenda Books for gifting me the e-book. Find out more about this Edinburgh based crime book in the blurb and my review below.

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Blurb

The Great Silence cover with quotes and author name (1)Keeping on top of the family funeral directors’ and private investigation businesses is no easy task for the Skelf women, and when matriarch Dorothy discovers a human foot while walking the dog, a perplexing case presents itself.
Daughter Jenny and grand-daughter Hannah have their hands full too: the mysterious circumstances of a dying woman have led them into an unexpected family drama, Hannah’s new astrophysicist colleague claims he’s receiving messages from outer space, and the Skelfs’ teenaged lodger has a devastating experience.
Nothing is clear as the women are immersed ever deeper in their most challenging cases yet. But when the daughter of Jenny’s violent and fugitive ex-husband goes missing without trace and a wild animal is spotted roaming Edinburgh’s parks, real danger presents itself, and all three Skelfs are in peril.
Taut, dark, warmly funny and unafraid to ask big questions – of us all – The Great Silence is the much-anticipated third instalment in the addictive, unforgettable Skelfs series.

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Review

It is great to be reunited with Dorothy, Jenny and Hannah, of whom each have a chapter dedicated to them and it rotates through them until the end of the story. It starts with a nose-wrinkling moment with Dorothy and her collie dog – Einstein. It’s definitely a most unexpected opener.

The Skelf family own a funeral business in Edinburgh, but also there are investigations to conduct. This isn’t your usual funeral parlour, this is one where investigations also occur, so it’s quite a lot for the Skelf’s to juggle.

In a way, like previous books in this series, it presents itself as something a bit more genteel, but when you get into the detail, nestling amongst some humour and the beauty and fun of Edinburgh and its surrounding areas, such as Leith and Portobello including the zoo and Cramond, (which Doug Johnstone adeptly leads his readers round), it’s actually quite dark and full of mystery. There seems to be many mysterious deaths that turn up in the mortuary; there is one presenting with no clear cause of death or DNA match. There are also mysterious limbs by Leith, not necessarily matching up with each other. There’s mystery and black humour in the way it is written, including some strange embalming.

Nothing is straight forward and some people aren’t either, as Hannah’s got a new colleague who is an astrophysicist and absolutely convinced there are aliens. To add to this strangeness, there may be a mystery surrounding a big cat. As well as mysterious deaths, there is also grief, high emotion, much tension and family dramas; it’s a story of multi-layers that also sees the Skelf’s in danger and a lot of life questions and contemplations about life, religion and more, being questioned are considered.

About The Author

Author Doug Johnstone poses for a portrait near his home in Edinburgh, Scotland.

Doug Johnstone is the author of twelve previous novels, most recently The Big Chill (2020). Several of his books have been bestsellers and three, A Dark Matter (2020), Breakers (2019) and The Jump (2015), were shortlisted for the McIlvanney Prize for Scottish Crime Novel of the Year.
He’s taught creative writing and been writer in residence at various institutions over the last decade – including at a funeral parlour ahead of writing A Dark Matter – and has been an arts journalist for over twenty years. Doug is a songwriter and musician with five albums and three solo 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. Follow Doug on Twitter @doug_johnstone and visit his website: dougjohnstone.com.

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