The Nature of the Beast (Chief Inspector Gamache #11) by Louise Penny

EXCERPT: Some glint inside the bramble caught his eye.

Something was in there. Something that hadn’t grown, but had been placed there. Other hands had been here before him.

Laurent Lepage, his pursuers forgotten, knelt closer and, bringing both hands up, he grasped the vines and yanked them apart. The creepers clung to each other, bound together. Years, decades, eons worth of growth. And concealment.

Laurent ripped, and ripped, and tore. Until a shaft of sunlight penetrated the overgrowth, the undergrowth, and he saw what was in there. What had been hiding in the there longer than Laurent had been alive.

His eyes widened.


ABOUT ‘THE NATURE OF THE BEAST’: Hardly a day goes by when nine-year-old Laurent Lepage doesn’t cry wolf. From alien invasions, to walking trees, to winged beasts in the woods, to dinosaurs spotted in the village of Three Pines, his tales are so extraordinary no one can possibly believe him. But when the boy disappears, the villagers are faced with the possibility that one of his tall tales might have been true. And so begins a frantic search for the boy and the truth. What they uncover deep in the forest sets off a sequence of events that leads to murder, leads to an old crime, leads to an old betrayal. A monster once visited Three Pines. And put down deep roots. And now, it is back.

MY THOUGHTS: Louise Penny has created a remarkable cast of characters in her Chief Inspector Gamache series, and plots to match. The Nature of the Beast, #11 in this series is no exception. The plot is quietly exciting, the mystery puzzling, the denouement superb.

This is no simple mystery. It is multi-layered and provides proof that no matter how long we have known the residents of Three Pines, no matter how well we think we know them, Louise Penny is always able to reveal some facet of their natures, some secret, that will stun and surprise us.

I wondered what would become of Gamache now that he is officially ‘retired’. But he finds enough to do to keep himself busy, and his mind is certainly as sharp as ever.

There is something about the rythym of Penny’s writing that enchants me and draws me in. Any book of hers that I pick up, I find difficult to put down. The Nature of the Beast is no exception.

Were there more references than usual to food in this volume? It certainly felt like it. I would like to thank the author for introducing me to the delights of the bacon, apple, brie and maple syrup sandwich served in toasted sourdough.
Perhaps, Ms Penny, we could have a Three Pines Cookbook?



I: @louisepennyauthor @hodderbooks

T: #LouisePennyAuthor @HodderFiction

THE AUTHOR: Louise Penny CM OQ is a Canadian author of mystery novels set in the Canadian province of Quebec centred on the work of francophone Chief Inspector Armand Gamache of the Sûreté du Québec. Penny’s first career was as a radio broadcaster for the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation. (Wikipedia)

This was an audiobook I listened to purely for pleasure as I love this series. ❤📚

Watching what I’m reading . . .

Happy Sunday. Is it my imagination or are Sundays coming around much faster than they used to?

Currently I am reading The Last House on the Cliff by Anne Wyn Clark. Interestingly, this house is also a funeral home. I read the first 75% of this in one sitting. It’s a far more intriguing read than the blurb suggests.

A secluded island. A missing child. A home built on lies.

On the death of her aunt Gwyn, Lowri returns once more to Gwyn’s home on the remote island of Anglesey, Wales, with young daughter Ruby in tow. Lowri hadn’t seen her aunt in years, but this beautiful island offers a fresh start.

Yet right away, strange things begin to happen. Ruby insists an old woman is visiting her when no one else is watching, and a tattered old doll keeps being left for Ruby to find.

Then Ruby goes missing. Desperately seeking answers no one seems to have, Lowri looks to her dark family past for clues. But the secrets she uncovers suggest that Ruby is not the only one in danger, and time is running out – for both of them…

I also started The Hidden Truth by Hilary Boyd on my tablet while my Kindle was charging. Another intriguing read. I’m a little over halfway and I’m not entirely certain Bernard is telling the whole truth. Add to that the strange things that happen when Sara visits his home – a haunted pepper-grinder! – and I am hooked.

While I am walking to and from work on the nice days, we’ve had a few this week – I am listening to The Enigma of Room 622 written by Joël Dicker and narrated by Chris Harper. Although I initially found this quite ‘dry’, there have been a couple of interesting curveballs introduced which have revived my interest.

One night in December, a corpse is found in Room 622 of the Hotel Verbier, a luxury hotel in the Swiss Alps. A police investigation begins without definite end, and public interest wanes with the passage of time. Years later, the writer Joel Dicker, Switzerland’s most famous literary ingenue, arrives at that same hotel to recover from a bad breakup, mourn the death of his longtime publisher, and begin his next novel. Little does Joel know that his expertise in the art of the thriller will come in handy when he finds himself investigating the crime. He’ll need a Watson, of course: in this case, that would be Scarlett, the beautiful guest and aspiring novelist from the next room, who joins in the search while he tries to solve another puzzle: the plot of his next book. Meanwhile, in the wake of his father’s passing, Macaire Ebezner is set to take over as president of the largest private bank in Switzerland. The succession captivates the news media, and the future looks bright, until it doesn’t. The bank’s board, including a certain Lev Levovitch-Geneva’s very own Jay Gatsby-have other plans, and Macaire’s race to the top soon becomes a race against time.

This week, in addition to The Last House on the Cliff, I am planning to read: After She’d Gone by Alex Dahl (Love this cover!)

Liv loves her son, Adrian. That’s why she keeps a low profile in Sandefjord, Norway: just another tired single mother, trying to make ends meet. She has never told her son about the secrets she carries or the life she lived before he was born. She will do anything to keep him safe.

Anastasia’s life is transformed when she moves from Russia to Milan and starts modelling. Suddenly, she’s rich. She’s desired. But then she begins to see the dark side of her new life: the high-pressure catwalk shows; the glamorous, drink-fuelled after-parties; the sun-baked Italian palazzos owned by powerful men. She will do anything to escape

Selma is a feature journalist in Oslo. She’s horrified to uncover an unsavoury and dangerous underworld when she writes an article looking into the modelling industry. Then, a woman goes missing in Sandefjord… 

A Cornish Recipe for Murder by Fiona Leitch (Nosy Parker Mysteries #5)

When popular TV baking contest and national institution ‘The Best of British Baking Roadshow’ rolls into town and sets up camp in the grounds of Boskern House, a historic stately home near Penstowan, former police officer Jodie ‘Nosey’ Parker finds herself competing to represent Cornwall in the grand final.

But with a fellow contestant who will stop at nothing to win and a drag queen host with secrets of their own, Jodie discovers that the roadshow doesn’t just have the ingredients for the perfect showstopper cake, but also for the perfect murder…

And when a body is found in the grounds of the house, Jodie is drawn into another high-stakes case along with local DCI Nathan Withers.

I only received one new ARC this week so my TBR pile should shrink just a little. I was invited to read Keeping Up Appearances by Tricia Stringer by the publishers. I accepted instantly as I love this Australian author’s books.

It’s been beautiful weather here the past few days so I have, as I said earlier, been walking to and from work. Pete didn’t work this weekend either so he’s caught up on the lawns, and I have been weeding the garden and have pruned all the hydrangeas. I still have the roses to do.

When I roasted a leg of lamb for dinner last night, I doubled up on the vegetables and gravy, so we are having more of the same tonight.

Thanks for stopping by and have a wonderful week. ❤📚

In the Middle of Hickory Lane by Heather Webber

Middle of Hickory Lane

In the Middle of Hickory Lane by Heather Webber

In the Middle of Hickory Lane

Heather Webber (Goodreads Author)

Sandy *The world could end while I was reading and I would never notice*‘s review

Jul 31, 2022  ·  edit

it was amazing

bookshelves: 20222022-netgalley-challenge5-starcontemporary-fictionfamily-dramamysteryromance

EXCERPT: In the middle of Hickory Lane grew a neighbourhood garden, a circular patch of vibrant land that fit snugly into the footprint of the wide dead-end street, a cul-de-sac. The landscaped island rose from the surrounding asphalt road, lush and verdant, beckoning for a closer look, a long stay. It was impossible for me not to notice, however, that among its gravel pathways, trees, shrubs, planter beds, trellises and flower meadow, a secret had once been planted as well. One that was slowly being exposed with each thrust of a shovel into rich soil as a newly discovered grave was unearthed.

ABOUT ‘IN THE MIDDLE OF HICKORY LANE’: Emme Wynn has wanted nothing more her whole life than to feel like part of a family. Having grown up on the run with her con artist mother, she’s been shuffled from town to town, drawn into bad situations, and has learned some unsavory habits that she’s tried hard to overcome. When her estranged grandmother tracks her down out of the blue and extends a job offer—helping to run her booth at an open-air marketplace in small-town Sweetgrass, Alabama—Emme is hopeful that she’ll finally be able to plant the roots she’s always dreamed of. But some habits are hard to break, and she risks her newfound happiness by keeping one big truth to herself.

Cora Bee Hazelton has her hands full with volunteering, gardening, her job as a color consultant and designer, and just about anything she can do to keep her mind off her painful past, a past that has resulted in her holding most everyone at arm’s length. The last thing she wants is to form close relationships only to have her heart broken yet again. But when she’s injured, she has no choice other than to let people into her life and soon realizes it’s going to be impossible to keep her heart safe—or her secrets hidden.

MY THOUGHTS: My bags are packed – I’m moving to Sweetgrass, Alabama. More precisely to Hickory Lane. I can’t imagine a more delightful neighbourhood, a more wonderful bunch of neighbours than I would have here.

Glory is the matriarch of the family. A wonderfully wise woman who sees far more than she says, she has finally succeeded in tracing her estranged granddaughter and bringing her back to the family fold.

But Emme has a secret, one that weighs heavily on her, and as much as she has always wanted a home, a family, she isn’t at all sure that she can stay. She also has a peculiar talent, one that she puts down to the way she was raised – she can always tell when someone is lying.

Cora Bee is Emme’s cousin. She also has a secret, a time of her life that she is not proud of but that she can’t let go. She uses it as a barrier, a way of keeping others from getting to close. She also has a particular gift, that of seeing people’s colours.

As Glory’s life comes to an end, all she wants is to see her granddaughters happy and settled, and she will move heaven and earth to do it.

What can I say about the characters in this book? They are simply wonderful and from the moment I first started reading, I just wanted to move in with them and be a part of this beautiful story. I couldn’t help but love them, particularly Emme who has had such a hard life, and Glory who is so loving and giving. Even Dorothy, who is falling prey to dementia is a wonderful character, and perhaps some of the strange things she comes out with have more meaning than her family realises!

This is a lovely heartwarming story, a magical story, that enchanted and engaged me.


#IntheMiddleofHickoryLane #NetGalley

I: @booksbyheather @forgereads

T: @BooksbyHeather @ForgeReads

#fivestarread #contemporaryfiction #familydrama #mystery #romance

THE AUTHOR: Heather Webber, aka Heather Blake, is the author of more than twenty-five novels. She loves to read, drink too much coffee and tea, birdwatch, crochet, and bake. She currently lives near Cincinnati, Ohio, and is hard at work on her next book.

DISCLOSURE: Thank you to Macmillan – Tor/Forge, Forge Books via Netgalley for providing a digital ARC of In the Middle of Hickory Lane by Heather Webber for review. All opinions expressed in this review are entirely my own personal opinions.

For an explanation of my rating system please refer to my profile page or the about page on

This review is also published on Twitter, Amazon, Instagram and

The Other Girlfriend by Alex Stone

EXCERPT: It was all my fault.
I’d ruined everything.
One night.
One drink too many.
One bad idea.
One secret that destroyed so much.
No one can know.


Lizzie Green once loved Tom Murphy with a passion that bordered on obsession. All she wanted was his love to be returned. Then one night something terrible happened and Tom left Lizzie broken hearted. She swore she would never let him hurt her again….

She loves him not.

Now, ten years later, Tom turns up on Lizzie’s doorstep still as charming as ever. Lizzie knows he still has the power to break her heart and destroy her life again. But Lizzie can’t say no to him….

Can she?

MY THOUGHTS: Sorry, but ‘meh’.

Lizzie is a twit. Not the entertaining Roald Dahl kind either. I kept wanting to tell her to get a grip, grow a backbone, but eventually her endless introspection wore me down and bored me to the point where I skimmed almost two thirds of the book, frequently considering abandoning the read.

There’s no suspense, no thrills, no action. It’s all pretty pedestrian and predictable.

There’s no character to root for.

The book is set in the beautiful location of Devon, but it’s not capitalized on. Just as I didn’t connect with the characters, I felt no sense of place.

I love the cover, but wish I had just admired it from afar.


#TheOtherGirlfriend #NetGalley

I: @alexstoneauthor @booksandtonic

T: @AlexStoneAuthor @BoldwoodBooks

#contemporaryfiction #psychologicaldrama

THE AUTHOR: Alex Stone is an accountant from the West Midlands, who uprooted her life to pursue her dream of living by the sea and becoming a writer. She is proof that if you stick at it, anything is possible, and is now a psychological suspense writer based in Dorset. This beautiful and dramatic coast is the inspiration and setting for her novels.
Alex has a keen interest in psychology, and her novels examine how situations in the past can shape a person for the better and the worst.

DISCLOSURE: Thank you to Boldwood Books via Netgalley for providing a digital ARC of The Other Girlfriend by Alex Stone for review. All opinions expressed in this review are entirely my own personal opinions.

For an explanation of my rating system please refer to my profile page or the about page on

This review is also published on Twitter, Amazon, Instagram and

After the Flood by Dave Warner

EXCERPT: Probably he should have taken more than two weeks off but he kept telling himself he would be better off working. First he went to Queensland near Mount Isa. While he’d never been much of a drinker he gave it a good go. Rum, bourbon, vodka, he tried them all. The thing was, they didn’t dull the pain one iota, he was achieving absolutely nothing, and so he stopped drinking to excess as easily as he had begun. He was being paid more than ever before. It was obscene. The giant company that had written off the deaths of Gabrielly and her fellow villagers with some empty words in the annual report and a sharp pencil on the debit side of the balance sheet was making money hand over fist. China’s appetite for minerals was insatiable. Gabrielly’s life was buried not just under tons of sludge and mud but money, and vexingly, he was its recipient. He sent more money to Gabrielly’s family, quite large sums to various aid agencies. He needed so little himself to survive, his parents were well enough off. None of it made sense. He wished he was a doctor, something useful like that where you could make a difference, join Médecines Sans Frontières and help others like Gabrielly, but he wasn’t smart enough. No profession was more worthless than HR. Human Resources, the very name stank to high heaven of corporate hoo-ha. Humans weren’t resources. They were people who loved, got hungry, cried, swore, laughed, fucked, danced, prayed, sang. And now he did none of these things, so perhaps he wasn’t human himself.

ABOUT ‘AFTER THE FLOOD’: A disturbing, seemingly ritualistic murder on a remote north-west cattle station has DI Dan Clement and his Broome police officers unnerved and baffled. Other local incidents – the theft of explosives from a mine site, social justice protests at an abattoir, a break-in at an early childhood clinic – seem mundane by comparison.

But as Clement starts to make troubling connections between each crime, he finds himself caught in a terrifying race. In a land mass larger than Western Europe, he must identify and protect an unidentified target before it is blown to bits by an unknown terrorist.

MY THOUGHTS: Although After the Flood is one of a series it is easily read as a stand-alone. The story is told from several points of view on both sides of the law but nothing is given away until well into the second half of the book.

Usually I would run a mile from any book that involves terrorism, but in this case the lure of the location won out, and I’m glad I followed my instincts.

Warner has endowed his work with both a great sense of location and of intrigue. There are several different threads to this story, seemingly unconnected crimes. Gradually the threads entwine and it becomes clear that there is a threat to something that may well involve great loss of life. But the question is what and where?

The suspense builds slowly but surely and the twists are subtle but important. The characters are well drawn and complex. I had no idea of who was behind the brutal murder that occurs early in the book or how it connected to the other incidents until the answer was revealed by the author. The tension at the end is high, the ending explosive. That final twist? Totally unexpected, but oh so good!

Warner cleverly weaves environmental issues into the fabric of his story.

A wonderfully satisfying example of Australian crime fiction from an author I hadn’t read previously, but I’ll definitely be looking for more of his books.

Not your run-of-the-mill outback crime thriller.



I: @fremantlepress

T: #DaveWarner @FremantlePress

#australiancrimefiction #contemporaryfiction #murdermystery #policeprocedural #suspense #thriller

THE AUTHOR: Dave Warner is an author, musician and screenwriter.

DISCLOSURE: Thank you to Fremantle Press for providing a paperback copy of After the Flood by Dave Warner for review. All opinions expressed in this review are entirely my own personal opinions.

For an explanation of my rating system please refer to my profile page or the about page on

This review is also published on Twitter, Amazon, Instagram and

The Cabin in the Woods by Sarah Alderson

EXCERPT: My mind is playing non-stop tricks on me these days: I’ve started hearing things. Not just the usual sounds you get out in the woods – bird calls and creaking tree limbs – but voices, sometimes so real that I could swear someone is standing right beside me, whispering into my ear.

Last night I started awake having heard someone call my name. I sat up in the dark, heart hammering, convinced I could hear footsteps pitter-pattering away across the wooden floor of the cabin. In the daylight I’ve seen things out of the corner of my eye – flashes of movement that make me whip my head around – though never in time to catch sight of anyone.

Maybe it’s an angry ghost, haunting me.

Or I could just be paranoid.

ABOUT ‘THE CABIN IN THE WOODS’: In a cabin in a wood,
A woman by the window stood.

Glancing out, she thought she heard
Footsteps, whistling, something stirred.

Hiding here, she fears the night,
For what’s done in the dark will come to light.

She must run fast to escape her lie

Or she’ll be the next to die…

MY THOUGHTS: A page turner with lots of drama, The Cabin in the Woods is told in two time lines; now – as Rose is in hiding; and then – the events leading up to Rose going on the run?

Just what could be bad enough to cause a woman who has come from poverty and married into money, to leave it all behind? Therein the story lies.

I think, judging by the title, I was expecting something a lot creepier than this domestic drama. It does have a few creepy moments, but nowhere near what I expected.

It is a good domestic drama; I mostly felt sympathy for Rose, although there were a few times I wanted to give her a reality check. The plot does also require some suspension of belief, but nothing too drastic. I absolutely loved the ending, feeling that justice had been served.

This is another book that is best gone into blind.

Stephanie Cannon narrated the audiobook well.


#TheCabinintheWoods #NetGalley

I: @sarahaldersonauthor @avonbooksuk

T: @sarahalderson @AvonBooksUK

#contemporaryfiction #crime #familydrama #domesticdrama #psychologicaldrama

THE AUTHOR: Having spent most of her life in London, Sarah quit her job in the non profit sector in 2009 and took off on a round the world trip with her husband and princess-obsessed daughter on a mission to find a new place to call home. After several months in India, Singapore, Australia and the US, they settled in Bali where they lived for five years.

She finished her first novel, Hunting Lila just before they left the UK, and wrote the sequel on the beach in India.

DISCLOSURE: Thank you to Harper Collins UK audio, Avon, via Netgalley for providing an audio ARC of The Cabin in the Woods by Sarah Alderson for review. All opinions expressed in this review are entirely my own personal opinions.

For an explanation of my rating system please refer to my profile page or the about page on

This review is also published on Twitter, Amazon, Instagram and

The Way it is Now by Garry Disher

EXCERPT: All he was doing now was licking his wounds and waiting. And looking for Shane Lambert, as he’d been doing for twenty years. The thread that remained untugged. All those fruitless leads…

And if he couldn’t find Lambert, or if Lambert couldn’t help, if there were no new developments, then people would continue to believe his father was guilty. Even though no body had been found. Even though there was no history of violent behaviour – barely even a cross word, since his parents had steered clear of each other, letting the divorce paperwork trickle through the system. Even though Rhys had been investigating a security van hijack that day. Just a couple of unaccounted-for hours when he was working alone, since, he’d said at the time, ‘I didn’t know I’d need an alibi.’

Despite all that, the theories came thick and fast. Rhys Deravin had murdered Rose Deravin because he’d have to sell Tidepool Street and give her half the proceeds. Or he’d blown his top and killed her in the heat of the moment. Or he’d killed her and hoped suspicion and blame would fall on her difficult lodger, Shane Lambert. None of these theories accounted for why her car was found abandoned out near Tooradin with a crumpled bumper, the driver’s door open and her possessions scattered up and down the road. Unless… Unless Rhys Deravin, the wily out-thinker, had staged a confused and confusing crime scene because, as anyone acquainted with him could confirm, he was too smart to leave loose ends.

ABOUT ‘THE WAY IT IS NOW’: Charlie is living in his family’s holiday house, on forced leave since he made a mess of things at work.

Things have never been easy for Charlie. Twenty years earlier his mother went missing in the area, believed murdered. His father has always been the main suspect, though her body was never found.

Until now: the foundations are being dug for a new house on a vacant block. The skeletal remains of a child and an adult are found—and Charlie’s past comes crashing in on him.

MY THOUGHTS: Set in Menlo Beach, a Peninsula beach town of unassuming shacks dating from the 1930’s an hour from Melbourne, The Way It Is Now tells the story of a burnt-out Aussie cop named Charlie Deravin.

Persona non grata with the Victoria Police, divorced from his wife and semi-estranged from his brother, Charlie has time on his hands; time to look into the disappearance of his mother twenty years earlier.

The Way it is Now is a multi-layered story of a disillusioned detective, his family, and the case he was working before being suspended. His disillusionment comes to a head one morning when he sees ‘an old bloke building a sandcastle with a little girl, presumably his granddaughter; and his first thought was ‘paedophile’.’ Charlie realises that he doesn’t see honesty and innocence anymore. All he sees is hidden motives and filth.

Disher is a master of both characters and atmosphere. You will recognize people you know in the characters in this book. You will smell the smoke of the ever present bush fires and taste the gritty ash. And you will wonder right to the last if Rhys Deravin did indeed kill his wife Rosie and dispose of her body. I did.


#TheWayitisNow #NetGalley

I: #GarryDisherAuthor @serpentstail

T: @GarryDisher @serpentstail

#australiancrimefiction #contemporaryfiction #crime #mystery

THE AUTHOR: The prolific Garry Disher is a huge name in his native Australia – he’s won the Ned Kelly Lifetime Achievement Award, and has had many fellow crime fiction writers citing him as a major influence.

DISCLOSURE: Thank you to Serpent’s Tail/Viper/Profile Books via Netgalley for providing a digital ARC of The Way it is Now by Garry Disher for review. All opinions expressed in this review are entirely my own personal opinions.

For an explanation of my rating system please refer to my profile page or the about page on

This review is also published on Twitter, Amazon, Instagram and

The Murder Book (Tom Thorne #18) by Mark Billingham

EXCERPT: One post-mortem was more than enough for most people and Thorne had been present at a good many more than that. Hundreds, probably. Though he had become . . . accustomed to the unique sights and smells and the terrible whine of the bone-saw, he still put the Vicks and the earplugs to good use every time, and, unlike the heavily tattooed man sitting opposite him, he was certainly unable to face a full English breakfast immediately afterwards.

Full English option three, to be precise, with two eggs, double sausage and extra bubble and squeak.

The man was an animal.

Phil Hendricks was not quite as delicate with a knife and fork as he was with dissecting scissors and rib-shears, so just watching his friend tucking in was making Thorne feel gippier than he had while watching him work on Richard Sumner’s body twenty minutes earlier. He groaned to make his feelings clear.

The pathologist lifted a fork dripping with baked beans and jabbed it towards the single piece of toast on Thorne’s plate.

‘Pussy,’ he said.

‘Pig,’ Thorne said.

ABOUT ‘THE MURDER BOOK’: Tom Thorne finally has it all.

In Nicola Tanner and Phil Hendricks, Thorne has good friends by his side. His love life is newly reformed by a promising relationship and he is happy in the job he has devoted his life to.

As he sets off hunting the woman responsible for a series of grisly murders, Thorne has no way of knowing that he will be plunged into a nightmare from which he may never wake. A nightmare that has a name. Thorne’s past threatens to catch up with him and a ruinous secret is about to be revealed. If he wants to save himself and his friends, he will have to do the unthinkable.

Tom Thorne finally has a lot to lose.

MY THOUGHTS: WARNING – A library book is harmed in this story.

I have read this series from the beginning, and I am yet to be disappointed. Billingham is able to combine humour, suspense, and humanity in his writing and I am always eagerly awaiting the next installment in this series. He imbues his characters with a rich sense of realism that makes me feel like I am greeting old friends the moment I open the cover.

DI Tom Thorne is at the centre of the stage ably assisted by DI Nicola Tanner and pathologist Phil Hendricks. These three have quite a history together and share a dark secret that would, at best, finish their careers if it were ever revealed, and, at worst, see them doing jail time.

All three seem to be more settled in their personal lives at the outset of The Murder Book and, although Nicola still misses her partner Susan, she finds the impetus and the means to move on with her life during this case.

This case – it’s a doozy. The plot is twisty and unpredictable. What starts out as a simple (probably not the right word, but in comparison with what is to come, it works) murder case soon morphs into something far more complex that threatens the personal and professional lives of the three colleagues.

Talk about tense and suspenseful! Parts gave me chills. It’s white-knuckled, edge-of-the-seat reading.


#TheMuderBook #NetGalley

I: #markbillingham @groveatlantic

T: @MarkBillingham @groveatlantic

#contemporaryfiction #crime #detectivefiction #mystery #policeprocedural #suspense #thriller

THE AUTHOR: Mark Billingham was born and brought up in Birmingham. Having worked for some years as an actor and more recently as a TV writer and stand-up comedian his first crime novel was published in 2001. Mark lives in North London with his wife and two children.

DISCLOSURE: Thank you to Grove Atlantic via Netgalley for providing a digital ARC of The Murder Book by Mark Billingham for review. All opinions expressed in this review are entirely my own personal opinions.

For an explanation of my rating system please refer to my profile page or the about page on

This review will also be published on Twitter, Amazon, Instagram and

Watching what I’m reading . . .

The Blackhouse by Carole Johnstone is what I am currently reading. This author really knows how to create an atmosphere!

I am listening to The Sun Down Motel by Simone St James, an author I have been wanting to read for some time, but I am never approved for her ARCs on Netgalley. It’s definitely another atmospheric and suspenseful read.

I have only managed to complete two of my seven scheduled reads for the week, so I am carrying them over into this week where I only have one other read for review scheduled. It is Solace and Other Stories by M. Syaipul Nasrullah. Thank you to the author for kindly providing me with a copy for review.

As he stared at the corpse’s face, he realized an endless dark cavity beneath the dead skin. There’s no one there. Even if he shouted with all his might, it was not the echo that would greet him but the silence that engulfed his voice.


In “Good Friends,” a little girl collects dolls her family can’t afford from the neighbor’s trash bin. But who is the ghostly figure sharing them with her? A mysterious married woman reaches out to an ojek driver in “Confide,” and a young man’s attempt to kill himself goes awry in “Zombie.” In “The Crains” a new wife discovers her in-laws’ dangerous forays into black magic, and “Solace” follows a young man with a terrifying secret in his bedroom… These are just some of the spine-tingling stories of Solace and Other Stories, a surreal collection sure to keep you up at night! 

I have received five new Netgalley ARCs this week. They are: Mothered by Zoje Stage. I don’t know about you, but I find that cover chilling! The possibilities . . .

This is Us by Helen McGinn

The Santa Killer by Ross Greenwood (my nod to Christmas)

A Fearsome Moonlight Black by David Putnam

A Trace to Poison by Colleen Cambridge

My post is short and sweet today as I have to prepare some entrees for a friend’s birthday this afternoon.

It’s been another busy week workwise, but I am trying not to slip back into my old work habits and made sure to take some time for myself. I went swimming on Tuesday afternoon. Hilarious! My spirit was willing but my muscle memory was not cooperating. Floundering might be a more apt description of what I actually did. Thursday morning I went to aquarobics with my cousin which was not only a great workout but lots of fun. I have convinced another friend to come with us this coming week.

Have a wonderful week everyone, and happy reading. ❤📚

Dead Real (Calladine & Bayliss #12) by Helen H. Durrant

EXCERPT: Tuesday – Over the years the alleyway that ran between two of the tower blocks had become a dumping ground for rubbish. It was littered with old mattresses, fridges, anything the tenants didn’t want and couldn’t afford to have disposed of properly.

Lisa Woodley, single mum of two and new to the area, lived in a ground floor flat in Heron House, one of the pair of towers. A week ago she’d complained about the smell. The council promised to send a team around to shift everything within a couple of days. All very well, but the days were passing by, the weather was warm and the smell got no better.

The Hobfield Estate was not an easy place to live in. After dark the kids were noisy. They let off fireworks late into the night and screamed obscenities at everyone who walked past. They kept the children awake and made Lisa flinch. The smell was the final straw. She’d had enough.

Lisa planned to visit the council offices in Leesdon that afternoon, give them a piece of her mind. She was all fired up and ready to take them on when Bobbin’, her cat, came home with a human foot in his mouth. The animal dropped it on the kitchen floor, looked up at Lisa and went to his basket where he began to lick his paws.

ABOUT ‘DEAD REAL’: One of the Hobfield estate’s newest tenants is horrified when her cat returns home with a human foot in its mouth.

The foot belongs to 16-year-old Noah Crosby, whose decomposing remains are found in a rubbish-strewn alleyway. He was wearing an expensive gold watch, high-end trainers and had a top-of-the-range mobile phone on him when he died. The motive clearly isn’t robbery.

But how could a young lad from the wrong side of the tracks afford such expensive gear?

The post-mortem reveals that the letter X has been carved into Noah’s skin. The signature of a killer known as the Shadow, who plagued the estate more than twenty years before. A killer who was never caught.

Could the Shadow be back at large?

Detective Tom Calladine and his partner DS Ruth Bayliss are finding it difficult to make headway. People are scared. No one will talk.

At the same time, Tom’s new girlfriend’s shop is targeted — and it’s clear she’s not telling him the whole truth about the attack. Just what is Kitty hiding? And when an old flame returns to Leesdon, Tom senses trouble ahead . . .

MY THOUGHTS: I never thought the day would come when I abandoned a Helen H. Durrant book. I have loved this series with it averaging 4⭐ in my ratings. I was looking forward to more adventures with Calladine and Bayliss. So what went wrong?

Bad decisions on the part of the police investigating the crimes. There are various threads to this story including current murders, historic murders and an abundance of top end trainers,handbags and watches that have obviously been stolen from somewhere, but don’t seem to have been reported stolen. There was a clear course of action they should have taken and they just didn’t.

At 46% I remarked, ‘in this particular book Calladine is being an absolute walkover!’ What I was thinking was another word altogether.

At 53% I felt like throwing my Kindle across the room, but instead said ‘enough’ and closed the cover.

I am aware that I am very much on my own with my thoughts on Dead Real, #12 in the Calladine and Bayliss series, so please do check out the many more favourable reviews.

Will I read more in this series. Right now, I don’t think so. But by the time the next book is ready for publication I will probably be remembering only the fun I previously had with these books.

#DEADREAL #Netgalley

I: @hhdurrant_author @joffebooks

T: @JoffeBooks

#contemporaryfiction #crime #detectivefiction #murdermystery #mystery #policeprocedural

THE AUTHOR: Helen H. Durrant is a British author who sets her novels in the area she has lived for many years, the towns and villages that sit in the shelter of the Pennine hills. The area offers an interesting mix of the industrial and the countryside and makes for a great setting for a crime novel.

DISCLOSURE: Thank you to Joffe Books via Netgalley for providing a digital ARC of Dead Real by Helen H. Durrant for review. All opinions expressed in this review are entirely my own personal opinions.

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