Know No Evil by Graeme Hampton

EXCERPT: BERMONDSEY RIPPER’S LATEST VICTIM?

The body of an eighteen year old woman was discovered by a dog walker in undergrowth in a park near East Dulwich station earlier this morning. She’d been beaten and strangled.

Police are so far refusing to comment on whether the young woman could be the latest victim of the so-called ‘Bermondsey Ripper’, who has been terrorising women in and around South London for the past year. Detective Inspector Ken Walters, who is leading the investigation into the murders, said it was ‘unhelpful to speculate at this early stage.’ He denied police were struggling to make progress with the investigation, insisting there had been a number of breakthroughs in recent days.

The police have come in for constant criticism over their handling of the ‘Bermondsey Ripper’ case, which has so far seen six women viciously murdered in and around South London.

ABOUT ‘KNOW NO EVIL’: Old crimes don’t stay buried forever…

It’s high summer, and London sizzles in the grip of a heatwave. But when the body of young mother, Leanne Wyatt, is discovered in an East London park, the heat rises to boiling point for D.I. Matthew Denning. Under pressure to solve the case, and fast, he delves into Leanne’s history and finds that she was close to some dangerous individuals – could one of them have taken her life in an angry rage? But when another woman is found dead in similar circumstances, Denning is forced to consider that a killer stalks the capital’s streets.

But when young, ambitious, D.S. Molly Fisher, discovers a horrifying link to these deaths and a killing spree in South London a decade ago –a terrifying summer where young women died at the hands of a psychopath the press dubbed ‘The Bermondsey Ripper’, the case is blown wide open. Anthony Ferguson is serving a life sentence for the crimes, so are these new deaths the result of a copycat killer – or did the police convict the wrong man? Whatever the case, Denning and Fisher need to stop a killer in his tracks – before he sets his sights on them.

MY THOUGHTS: Graeme Hampton has written a evenly-paced and well plotted police procedural/crime thriller that kept me intrigued throughout. He has achieved a good balance between the characters private lives and the crime thread, and has even managed to enticingly intertwine them to provide the reader with an extra frisson of suspense and suspicion.

D.I. Matthew Denning is level-headed and experienced. D.S. Molly Fisher is young, ambitious and impetuous, inclined to follow her instincts. This trait is both a blessing and a curse as it frequently lands her in hot water.

I didn’t always like Molly’s character. At times she was a little too mercurial, particularly concerning her private life. I certainly didn’t like her partner and failed to understand the attraction between them. But then, that happens in real life, too. There were a couple of other minor characters who grated on me, mostly because their characters were more caricatures than realistic.

In fact, in the beginning, I didn’t think I was going to like Know No Evil at all. The investigation into Leanne Wyatt’s death starts by focusing on the low-life drug dealing son of a local organised crime boss, which is about as appealing to me as being drenched with a bucket of icy water on a winter’s day. But luckily, the investigation soon moves on, and although the thread is continued throughout the story, it becomes a ‘bit-part’.

The story is told from the perspectives of both Denning and Fisher, which enables the reader to see the difference in their thought processes and their approach to the case. There are plenty of red herrings and dead ends in the investigation and a few good twists which kept my interest. And I must say that I thought the denouement was clever, and one that I hadn’t even entertained.

Narrator, Julie Maisey, was a pleasure to listen to.

Know No Evil is the first in a new detective series, and I will definitely be lining up for #2.

⭐⭐⭐.7

#KnowNoEvil #NetGalley

I: @graeme_hampton #sagaegmont

T: @Gham001

#contemporaryfiction #crime #detectivefiction #murdermystery #policeprocedural

THE AUTHOR: Graeme Hampton was born in Paisley and grew up in Stirling. After leaving school he trained as a stage manager and worked in London for a number of years. He returned to Scotland in his late twenties to study for a BA in English Literature at Stirling University. After many years of dull jobs and bleak times, he became a full-time writer. His first novel, Know No Evil, was published in July 2019, and was followed up by Blood Family in early 2020. He is currently working on the third novel in the Denning & Fisher series.
He lives in Hastings, East Sussex. (Amazon)

DISCLOSURE: Thank you to Saga Egmont for providing an audio ARC of Know No Evil written by Graeme Hampton and narrated by Julie Maisey 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 Goodreads.com profile page or the about page on sandysbookaday.wordpress.com

This review and others are also published on Twitter, Amazon, Instagram and Goodreads.com

Cabin Fever by Alex Dahl

EXCERPT: I can’t believe I didn’t realise it before, that what I really wanted all along was to write to you. So that’s what I’m going to do. A memoir, perhaps. No. A confession.

Kristina, I’m waiting for you. I pray that you’ll come. I’m alone and I’m afraid for the future and I want to use this time to put everything I want to say to you into some kind of coherent account. I want to tell you everything myself, I have it all planned out in my head – you’ll come here and you’ll sit across from me and we’ll light the fire and I will start from the beginning and I won’t stop talking until there is absolutely nothing unsaid between us. If you can’t or won’t come or if something outside of my control happens to me, you’ll find what you need here. Either way, I need you to know the truth.

ABOUT ‘CABIN FEVER’: You are her therapist.
Kristina is a successful therapist in central Oslo. She spends her days helping clients navigate their lives with a cool professionalism that has got her to the top.

She is your client.
But when her client Leah, a successful novelist, arrives at her office clearly distressed, begging Kristina to come to her remote cabin in the woods, she feels the balance begin to slip.

But out here in the woods.
When Leah fails to turn up to her next two sessions, Kristina reluctantly heads out into the wilderness to find her.

Nothing is as it seems.
Alone and isolated, Kristina finds Leah’s unfinished manuscript, and as she reads she realises the main character is terrifyingly familiar…

MY THOUGHTS: I read Cabin Fever by Alex Dahl in one sitting, unable to put it down and now, four hours later, my heart is still pounding, my breathing ragged.

The main characters are all onions, multilayered, and eye-wateringly devious. I was shaking my head in delighted disbelief as the truth was slowly revealed, and I mean slowly, one nugget, one gem at a time until the final crescendo.

Alex Dahl has once again written an unsettling, unpredictable, extremely clever and very dark novel full of tension and suspense.

⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐

#CabinFever #NetGalley

I:@authoralex @headofzeus

T: @alexdahlauthor @HoZ_Books

#contemporaryfiction #psychologicalthriller #suspense

THE AUTHOR: Half-American, half-Norwegian, Alex Dahl was born in Oslo. She is a serious Francophile and currently lives in both London and Sandefjord.

DISCLOSURE: Thank you to Head of Zeus via Netgalley for providing a digital ARC of Cabin Fever by Alex Dahl 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 Goodreads.com profile page or the about page on sandysbookaday.wordpress.com

This review and others are also published on Twitter, Amazon, Instagram and Goodreads.com

Death and Croissants by Ian Moore

EXCERPT: ‘So what have you decided?’ She sat down on the bench and he sat back down beside her.

‘I’ve decided that I don’t like being pushed around.’

‘Who’s pushing you around?’

‘You are.’

‘I am not.’

‘Yes you are.’ She looked hurt. ‘Look, it’s not your fault, not really. I’m very easy to push around, but it’s Ava Gardner here who’s paid the price.’

‘I don’t think I’ve pushed you around at all.’

‘Oh, you have. You and everyone else I know.’ He sighed wearily. ‘All I want is a quiet life, but what happens is you end up just being dragged along by other people’s whims. I don’t blame you as such, but in a very short space of time, I’ve lost a guest, very possibly murdered – in your opinion – possibly more than once, if what the Thompsons told you is correct. And two Italian killers – in your opinion – are sending me hen-based mafia death warnings.’

ABOUT ‘DEATH AND CROISSANTS’: Richard is a middle-aged Englishman who runs a B&B in the fictional Val de Follet in the Loire Valley. Nothing ever happens to Richard, and really that’s the way he likes it.

One day, however, one of his older guests disappears, leaving behind a bloody handprint on the wallpaper. Another guest, the exotic Valérie, persuades a reluctant Richard to join her in investigating the disappearance.

Richard remains a dazed passenger in the case until things become really serious and someone murders Ava Gardner, one of his beloved hens … and you don’t mess with a fellow’s hens!

MY THOUGHTS: There is considerably more death than there are croissants.

I loved the setting of this humourous cosy murder mystery. Set in a B&B in the Loire Valley. A hapless ex-pat Brit is drawn into a search for a missing guest after finding a bloody handprint on the bedroom wall, and a pair of broken spectacles. He is aided and abetted, or rather bossed about and led by a beautiful and strong willed Frenchwoman, Valerie de Orcay.

My favourite character was Madame Tablier, the indomitable and irreverent housekeeper, followed closely by Richard’s hens, Ava Gardner, Lana Turner, and Katharine Hepburn. I also enjoyed Richard’s obsession with vintage movies, but there were times that I felt the author had ‘overdone’ the characters, making them more caricatures than relatable people. And that, I think is part of the problem. I really didn’t care about any of the characters, and at times Death and Croissants read more like a ‘Carry On’ novel than a cosy murder mystery.

I have read a lot of this genre lately and unreservedly enjoyed them, but I am afraid that Death and Croissants fell a little short of the mark in comparison. I have to disagree with its description as an unputdownable mystery. I put it down several times, sometimes for days on end.

While I wasn’t tempted at any point to not finish this, it did seem like a much longer read than it actually is. I don’t think I will be reading any more of this series.

⭐⭐.6

#DeathandCroissants #NetGalley

I: #ianmoore @farragobooks

T: @MonsieurLeMoore @farragobooks

#contemporaryfiction #cosymystery #murdermystery

THE AUTHOR: Ian is an English stand up comedian who lives in rural France and spends most of his time travelling grumpily between the two while his family grows and his wife adopts every maladjusted animal in the area.

DISCLOSURE: Thank you to Farrago Books via Netgalley for providing a digital ARC of Death and Croissants by Ian Moore 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 Goodreads.com profile page or the about page on sandysbookaday.wordpress.com

This review and others are also published on Twitter, Amazon and Goodreads.com

Watching What I’m Reading . . .

I didn’t do very well with my reading target last week, mainly because the company who made my kitchen suddenly moved the installation date forward from the end of this month to the end of this coming week! So my house was full builders, taking out the old kitchen and removing another wall, and plumbers and electricians moving everything ready for the installation of the new kitchen. Because I had move the sink and the dishwasher and the fridge. I think the only new appliance being installed in the same place as the old one is the oven. But the result will be that I have a decent amount of bench space, which I didn’t previously have. Plumbers and electricians are back on Monday, then the builders Tuesday and Wednesday to reline the walls and put the ceiling in. Thursday the kitchen arrives and installation begins. This is so exciting!

Anyway, because of all this, I got very little reading done. Instead I was fetching and carrying, making decisions and morning and afternoon teas coffees, and cleaning up behind everyone while I was home. And, of course, I was also working. So the books on my planned reading list last week will reappear this week. 🤦‍♀️

Currently I am reading Cabin Fever by Alex Dahl. Halfway through and it has suddenly taken an extremely interesting turn.

I am almost finished listening to Know No Evil (DI Denning and DS Fisher #1) by Graeme Hampton. This has the makings of really good series. I will certainly be putting my hand up for #2.

This week I am planning on reading Silver Tears by Camilla Lackberg, #2 in her

She’s had to fight for it every step of the way, but Faye finally has the life she believes she deserves: she is rich, the business she built has become a global brand, and she has carefully hidden away her small family in Italy, where Jack, her ex-husband, can no longer harm them. She even has the wherewithal to occasionally turn a business trip to Rome into a steamy tryst. But when several major investors–women Faye had trusted implicitly–suddenly sell off their shares in the company, and the police officer who helped search for her daughter discovers the dark secret of Faye’s childhood, and she learns that Jack is no longer locked behind bars, Faye has no choice but to return to Stockholm. Not only does she have to fight again to keep her family safe, but now, at long last, she is forced to face the truth about her past. In this bold, mesmerizing story of seduction, deceit, and female power, a woman’s secret cannot stay buried forever.

The Stalker by Sarah Alderson

Newly-weds Liam and Laura are spending their honeymoon in paradise: just the two of them on a remote island off the coast of Scotland.
But they soon discover that all is not as it seems, and the island has a tragic past. And they can’t shake the feeling of being watched…

When one morning, they wake to find a message scratched into the window, their worst fears are confirmed. They aren’t alone on the island.

And this stranger wants them dead.

And The Rising Tide by Sam Lloyd

HOW DID IT COME TO THIS?

The news doesn’t strike cleanly, like a guillotine’s blade. Nothing so merciful. This news is a slovenly traveller, dragging its feet, gradually revealing its horrors. And it announces itself first with violence – the urgent hammering of fists on the front door.

Life can change in a heartbeat.

Lucy has everything she could wish for: a beautiful home high on the clifftops above the Devon coast, a devoted husband and two beloved children.

Then one morning, time stops. Their family yacht is recovered, abandoned far out at sea. Lucy’s husband is nowhere to be found and as the seconds tick by, she begins to wonder – what if he was the one who took the boat? And if so, where is he now?

As a once-in-a-generation storm frustrates the rescue operation, Lucy pieces together what happened onboard. And then she makes a fresh discovery. One that plunges her into a nightmare more shocking than any she could ever have imagined . . .

Let’s see how well I can do.

I received five new ARCs this week, and was declined for five (perhaps just as well!) I received The Library by Bella Osborne

The Girl Upstairs by Georgina Lees

The Perfect Ending by Rob Kaufman

About Us by Sinead Moriarty

And finally, The Lies We Tell by Jane Corry

I didn’t travel overly much in the past week. I left Baltimore for Stonesend, a lovely village near Oxford in England, and am currently dividing my time between East London, and Oslo in Norway.

What have you been reading this week? What are planning on reading? And where have you been on your reading travels?

Have a wonderful week of reading!

The Lies She Told by Lynda Renham

EXCERPT: Nothing made any sense. Kate Marshall came home from school on Friday afternoon after seeing her boys off with her husband. Some time between then and six, someone came and attempted to batter her to death. But why?

‘Who’d want to kill a piano teacher?’ said Alice.

ABOUT ‘THE LIES SHE TOLD’: Life in the village of Stonesend is pretty uneventful, that is until Detective Tom Miller is transferred there following a personal tragedy. He is not greeted well by local police officer Beth Harper, who feels he is not up to the job. The day of his arrival, Kate Marshall, a teacher at the local school, is beaten in her own home and left for dead. The villagers are left in a state of shock. Was it a random attack or something more personal?

MY THOUGHTS: The Lies She Told certainly lives up to its title!

Although I worked out early on what was going on with one thread in the plot, it simply never occurred to me that . . . No, I can’t say, because that would be a spoiler. All I can say is that there are plenty of surprises and twists, and that Kate isn’t the only one who is attacked. While Kate survives, the other victim isn’t so lucky. And no, I am not about to tell you who the other victim is.

Renham had my mind working overtime trying to draw the various threads together into some sort of feasible solution, but although I guessed some things, she definitely bested me! I got the who, and the why, but the how? …. that I couldn’t figure out.

I hope we get to read more of Detective Tom Miller and Beth Harper. They make a great team and I loved the village setting of Stonesend.

The Lies She Told is an enjoyable and sometimes shocking read that will have you pitting your wits against the author’s expertise.

⭐⭐⭐.7

#TheLiesSheTold

I: @lyndarenham @raucous_

T: @LyndaRenham

#contemporaryfiction #crime #detectivefiction #murdermystery

THE AUTHOR: Lynda Renham has been writing for as long as she can remember and had her first work published in a magazine at age nine and has continued writing in various forms since. Lynda lives with her second husband and cat in Oxfordshire, England. She is Associate Editor for the online magazine The Scavenger and contributor to many others. When not writing Lynda can usually be found wasting her time on Facebook.

DISCLOSURE: Thank you to author Lynda Renham and Raucous Publishing for providing a digital ARC of The Lies She Told 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 Goodreads.com profile page or the about page on sandysbookaday.wordpress.com

This review and others are also published on Twitter, Amazon, Instagram and Goodreads.com

Dream Girl by Laura Lippman

EXCERPT: When the phone rings in the middle of the night, that very night, and Aileen, who tends to doze, does not answer it within three rings, Gerry fumbles for the landline next to his bed, a midcentury Swedish design with a button on the bottom. His head feels cloudy, yet he is alert enough to assume the call will be from Margot, full of recriminations for being booked in business class, which means she has to fetch her own cheese plate from the snack bar.

‘Hello?’

‘Gerry? I’m coming to see you soon.’

‘Who is this?’ Because one thing he is sure of is that it’s not Margot. The voice is too sweet, too high, with a hint of a Southern accent. Also too nice.

‘Oh, Gerry, you’re so funny. It’s Aubrey, Gerry. We need to talk. About my story, about what really happened between us, that mess with your wife. I think it’s time the world knows I’m a real person.’

ABOUT ‘DREAM GIRL’: After being injured in a freak accident, novelist Gerry Andersen lies in a hospital bed in his glamorous but sterile apartment, isolated from the busy world he can see through his windows, utterly dependent on two women he barely knows: his young assistant and a night nurse whose competency he questions.

But Gerry is also beginning to question his own competency. As he moves in and out of dreamlike memories and seemingly random appearances of a persistent ex-girlfriend at his bedside, he fears he may be losing his grip on reality, much like his mother who recently passed away from dementia.

Most distressing, he believes he’s being plagued by strange telephone calls, in which a woman claiming to be the titular character of his hit novel Dream Girl swears she will be coming to see him soon. The character is completely fictitious, but no one has ever believed Gerry when he makes that claim. Is he the victim of a cruel prank—or is he actually losing his mind★ There is no record of the calls according to the log on his phone. Could there be someone he has wronged★ Is someone coming to do him harm as he lies helplessly in bed★

Then comes the morning he wakes up next to a dead body—and realizes his nightmare is just beginning…

MY THOUGHTS: In her author’s notes, Laura Lippman writes, ‘This is a book about what goes on inside a writer’s mind and it is, by my lights, my first work of horror.’ And while I wouldn’t go quite so far as to call Dream Girl a work of horror, it definitely is an enjoyable romp on the darker side. Lippman pays homage to Stephen King’s ‘Misery’, Roth’s ‘Zuckerman Unbound’, and Dukore’s ‘A Novel Called Heritage’, saying that she ‘wanted to further the conversations they began in her head.’ I know exactly what she means.

Lippman’s writing is distinctive. She does a lot of the things I hate and slam other authors for doing. She waffles on in long sentences. She writes stream of consciousness. And I love it. It works – brilliantly. I read Dream Girl in twenty-four hours and Lippman has left me wanting to read Gerry Anderson’s ‘Dream Girl’. I want to read about Aubrey, this elusive figment of Anderson’s (and therefore Lippman’s) imagination – the character that nobody will believe wasn’t real.

Lippman’s characters are extraordinary, and the cast is quite small. Women feature hugely in Gerry’s life. He’s been married three times, and Margot lived with him in New York for several years. He has a female assistant, Victoria, who has the annoying tic of never being able to make a declarative statement, and whose duties expand following his accident to include being his daytime carer. Aileen is employed as his somewhat incompetent and constantly knitting night nurse. Gerry doesn’t appear to have friends, and there’s a dearth of males in his life with the exception of his literary agent. We learn Gerry’s backstory through a dual timeline that is interspersed with his ‘now’ story. We meet his wives and his lovers, but disappointingly learn almost nothing about the writing of his bestseller, ‘Dream Girl.’ Yes, I think I have an obsession with Audrey.

As you may have noticed, I had a hard time putting Dream Girl down, and when I wasn’t reading it, I was thinking about it. I honestly had no idea where Lippman was heading with the plot, who was behind the mystery calls, if they were even real, or merely a product of Gerry’s opioid addled brain.

A few people appear to have been disappointed in the ending. I loved it. It seemed strangely fitting. A little comedic. I would love to see Dream Girl made into a movie. I would definitely go to see it.

⭐⭐⭐⭐.5

#DreamGirl #NetGalley

I: @lauramlippman @faberbooks

T: @LauraMLippman @FaberBooks

THE AUTHOR: Laura lives in Baltimore with her husband, David Simon, and their daughter.

DISCLOSURE: Thank you to Faber and Faber Ltd via Netgalley for providing a digital ARC of Dream Girl by Laura Lippman 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 Goodreads.com profile page or the about page on sandysbookaday.wordpress.com

This review and others are also published on Twitter, Amazon, and Goodreads.com

The Man I Married by Elena Wilkes

EXCERPT: Blood has a smell.

I look around me. I’m sitting on a bench.

It comes again.

It’s visceral, like meat.

I gaze down at my hands. I don’t recognize them; they lie upturned and curled in my scarlet-stained lap. Every crease is dark with what looks like rust. My palms open like flowers and I feel the skin stretch and tighten. A cold breeze skims the wet patches on my dress. The wool sticks unpleasantly to my skin and a chill slides down my spine.

I close my eyes.

Behind the lids the dying winter sunlight zigzags in orange and purple flashes. Somewhere behind the bushes I can hear the girls, giggling. I squint; I can’t see them now, but I know they’re there.

‘You can’t hide in here forever you know!’

There’s a woman’s voice. She’s getting closer.

‘I think it’s time we should be going though, don’t you? Come on.’

I squint. The viburnum bush trembles; its propeller-headed flowers nod and bounce in bright pink bells against the thicket of black. I imagine her reaction as she walks past. She’ll see the state of me and I’ll see her face: the shock at my matted hair and disheveled clothes. She doesn’t know who I am and I don’t want to scare her. ‘You don’t know me -‘ I’ll say. She’ll look at me, wary and unsure.

‘-But can I tell you what happened? I think you’ll understand when I explain.’ I’ll hold out my hands and she’ll see the state of them.

I know my story is also her story.

I’ve done this for her, for the children, for all of us… that’s why he’s dead.

ABOUT ‘THE MAN I MARRIED’: This is the story of Lucy and Paul.

They met. They fell deeply in love. They got married.

Lucy thought that she had everything she wanted.

Until she found the photograph from Paul’s past life, read the text messages he’s so desperately trying to hide. Until she uncovered Paul’s darkest secrets.

Now Lucy realizes she doesn’t really know her husband. She doesn’t know if she can trust her own mind. She doesn’t know the lengths Paul would go to keep his perfect life.

And worst of all, she doesn’t know that she’s in danger…

MY THOUGHTS: The character of Lucy both irritated me and intrigued me. I couldn’t understand why she married this man. I couldn’t understand why she continued to stay married to this man. I wanted to slap some sense into her. I wanted to watch the train wreck that I knew was coming.

Paul is a master manipulator. He plays Lucy like a virtuoso. He has a past that he continually lies about. Lucy is afraid that his past is colliding with her present. But how can she tell what is true and what isn’t?

Although there were things in The Man I Married that didn’t quite gel for me, and Lucy comes across as desperate and unhinged, I enjoyed it. This was due in part to the relentless pace of the plot, but also to the sterling narration by Colleen Prendergast.

My jury is still out on the ending. It’s quite a strange ending, and I am not totally convinced that this was the best possible outcome.

The Man I Married is Elena Wilkes debut novel, and I am excited to see what she writes next.

⭐⭐⭐.7

#TheManIMarried #NetGalley

I: #elenawilkes #sagaegmont

T:

#audiobook #contemporaryfiction #domesticdrama #mystery #psychologicalthriller #romanticsuspense

THE AUTHOR: Elena Wilkes grew up in Walsall in the West Midlands and then worked for eighteen years in H.M Prison Service. The people she met there provided the basis for all her novels.

Many of the prisoners there came across as very ordinary people who had committed the most appalling crimes but would, one day, walk straight back on the streets.

This begged the question: how much do we know about anyone, really? The people who live amongst us may seem no different from us at all, but when you scratch a little deeper, you realise they hold some very dark secrets.

DISCLOSURE: Thank you to Saga Egmont Audio via Netgalley for providing an audio ARC of The Man I Married written by Elena Wilkes and narrated by Colleen Prendergast 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 Goodreads.com profile page or the about page on sandysbookaday.wordpress.com

This review and others are also published on Twitter, Amazon, and Goodreads.com

A Hand to Hold in Deep Water by Shawn Nocher

EXCERPT: ‘Willy,’ she had said, nudging her shoulder into his where they sat on the stoop together, her voice small and papery, like it might blow away. ‘I don’t think my momma likes it here no more.’

‘Now, girl,’ he said, patting her knee, ‘what makes you say such things?’ But his heart had already tightened in his chest because he’d been thinking the same thing, the very same thing. May wasn’t happy, and it didn’t seem right since he had thought for sure she would be. He had been so proud to bring her home on their wedding day, and after that first night with her, feeling so good, he couldn’t imagine she would feel any different from him.

That was just the thing that confounded him – that he could feel one way and she could feel another. Of late, when he touched her, she just lay still, not saying ‘no’ to him, but like she’d taken out her heart and set it aside. And just last night, when he’d lifted his head from the sweet-salty crook of her neck, she lay wide-eyed and staring at the ceiling, and he couldn’t go on.

It was a terrible thing, to feel connected to a woman and then find out you weren’t really touching her at all. Something like that made a man start asking questions that he didn’t want to know the answers to.

But even then, at that moment, with Lacey tucked against his shoulder and his hand patting her knee, he couldn’t possibly have imagined that May would disappear the way she did, that she could just quit the life they had like it meant nothing, leaving him and little Lacey without even so much as a ‘so long and see ya later’. Gone. Like a breath that has been inhaled and exhaled and done with.

ABOUT ‘A HAND TO HOLD IN DEEP WATER’: Willy Cherrymill and his stepdaughter Lacey are deeply bruised by a past brimming with unanswered questions. It’s been thirty years since May DuBerry, Willy’s young wife and Lacey’s mother, abandoned them both leaving Willy to raise Lacey alone.

Lacey Cherrymill is smart, stubborn and focused. She’s also a single mother to a young daughter recently diagnosed with a devastating illness. The last thing she needs to think about right now is the betrayal that rocked her childhood. Reluctantly, she has returned to her rural beginnings, a former dairy farm in the Maryland countryside, and to Willy, a man steeped in his own disappointments and all the guilt that goes with them.

Together they will pool their wobbly emotional resources to take care of Tasha, all the while trying to skirt the issue of May’s mysterious disappearance. But try as she might, Lacey can’t leave it alone. Just where is May DuBerry Cherrymill and why did she leave them, and how is it that they have never talked about the wreckage she left behind?

MY THOUGHTS: The writing in A Hand to Hold in Deep Water is beautiful, lyrical. It flows like molasses from a spoon. It is a novel that drew me in so that I was breathing the same air that the characters breathed, experiencing their triumphs, their pain, feeling their emotions, living their lives
along with them.

A Hand to Hold in Deep Water is an exploration of love – the love of a mother for her daughter, her need to protect her daughter at any cost, even that of her own happiness.

At first I thought this story belonged to Lacey and her daughter Tasha, as Tasha is diagnosed with cancer and their battle with this demon is the predominating thread, with the mystery of May surfacing only occasionally. But gradually the tables turn as Lacey faces up to her need to know just what happened to her mother, her need to know her mother and where she came from. And so she packs up Lacey and Willy and Carlotta, and they embark on a mission to find out just who May duBarry was.

The story is split between the ‘present’, being the mid-2000s, and the ‘past’ of the early 1970s. The story is interspersed with May’s diary entries. I found the telling of Tasha’s battle with cancer difficult to read. It is a brutally honest, no holds barred account. But it was worth getting through, because it is May’s story that is the crux of the book.

This is very much a character driven novel. If you are looking for action and excitement, look elsewhere. If you are looking for a beautiful, tender and heart-piercing story of family, love, sacrifice, secrets and shame, then you couldn’t do better than pick up A Hand to Hold in Deep Water by Shawn Nocher.

I both read and listened to A Hand to Hold in Deep Water. Elizabeth Evans is a wonderful narrator, and enriched my experience with this book.

⭐⭐⭐⭐.5

#AHandtoHoldinDeepWater #NetGalley

I: @shawnnocher @ blackstonepublishing

T: @shawn_nocher @BlackstonePub1

#contemporaryfiction #familydrama #historicalfiction #love #mystery #sliceoflife #audiobook

THE AUTHOR: Shawn Nochers compelling short stories have appeared in numerous literary magazines, including SmokeLong Quarterly, Pithead Chapel, Eunoia Review, and MoonPark Review, and she has been longlisted or won honorable mentions from both SmokeLong Quarterly and Glimmer Train.

She earned her master of arts in writing at Johns Hopkins University, has given wings to two children, and lives with her husband and an assortment of sassy rescue animals in Baltimore, Maryland, where she writes in a room of her own. This is her first novel. (Amazon)

DISCLOSURE: Thank you to Blackstone Publishing and Blackstone Audio via Netgalley for providing both a digital and an audio ARC of A Hand to Hold in Deep Water by Shawn Nocher 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 Goodreads.com profile page or the about page on sandysbookaday.wordpress.com

This review and others are also published on Twitter, Amazon, Instagram and Goodreads.com

Watching What I’m Reading . . .

We’ve had beautiful weekend. Temperatures below zero at night, heavy frosts, and glorious days. I have had a busy weekend. Luke came for sleepover Friday night. I have been trying different paint colours for the lounge and dining room and we have finally settled on a lovely soft sea green.

My reading travels have kept me mainly in the UK this week, in Nottingham and London, with a trip to Australia, the Loire Valley in France, and Baltimore in the USA. Have you been anywhere interesting in your reading travels this week?

Currently I am reading and loving Dream Girl by Laura Lippman. I have no idea where this is going to end up, but I am loving the journey.

I am also reading Death and Croissants by Ian Moore. I am loving the reticent character of Richard, and the ebullient exotic one of Valerie.

I am listening to Know No Evil by Graeme Hampton

This week I plan to read The Lies She Told by Linda Renham

Life in the village of Stonesend is pretty uneventful, that is until Detective Tom Miller is transferred there following a personal tragedy. He is not greeted well by local police officer Beth Harper, who feels he is not up to the job. The day of his arrival, Kate Marshall, a teacher at the local school, is beaten in her own home and left for dead. The villagers are left in a state of shock. Was it a random attack or something more personal? 

Cabin Fever by Alex Dahl

You are her therapist.
Kristina is a successful therapist in central Oslo. She spends her days helping clients navigate their lives with a cool professionalism that has got her to the top.

She is your client.
But when her client Leah, a successful novelist, arrives at her office clearly distressed, begging Kristina to come to her remote cabin in the woods, she feels the balance begin to slip.

But out here in the woods.
When Leah fails to turn up to her next two sessions, Kristina reluctantly heads out into the wilderness to find her.

Nothing is as it seems.
Alone and isolated, Kristina finds Leah’s unfinished manuscript, and as she reads she realises the main character is terrifyingly familiar..

And The Stalker by Sarah Alderson

Newly-weds Liam and Laura are spending their honeymoon in paradise: just the two of them on a remote island off the coast of Scotland.
But they soon discover that all is not as it seems, and the island has a tragic past. And they can’t shake the feeling of being watched…

When one morning, they wake to find a message scratched into the window, their worst fears are confirmed. They aren’t alone on the island.

And this stranger wants them dead.

I received three new ARCs this week:

Lost Angels (Nikki Hunt #3) by Stacy Green

Home Sweet Home by Nicole Trope

And I Let Him In by Jill Childs

What lovely new reads have you received this week?

The wall between my kitchen and dining room has gone, and what a difference that has made. My kitchen feels much larger lighter. Unfortunately my kitchen is still being held up by a lack of drawer glides. For third month in row, none have arrived. But I have ordered all new replacement windows for along the front of the house, and my new laundry is in. So a little progress has been made.

Happy reading my friends!❤📚

Insider by Owen Mullen (The Glass Family #2)

EXCERPT: The van turned right into a deserted Great Eastern Street and on until traffic lights on City Road stopped its progress. The engine idled, the acrid smell of diesel drifted on the air. Freddy tapped the wheel with his finger.

‘He was a homo, old Ronnie, did I mention that? Queer as a bottle of chips. And Reggie was bisexual. Had sex with each other to keep it a secret. God’s honest. Ronnie admitted as much to some geezer writing a book about them. Not many-‘

The bullet exploded the side window, ending the monologue, entered his heart, killing him instantly. The rear doors flew open. A rapid burst of fire from a semiautomatic carbine sprayed the inside, thudding into the minders, making them dance like drunken puppets; they were dead before they could draw their guns. One of the assassins manhandled Freddy’s lifeless body into the passenger seat, while the other two got into the back beside the slain guards. When the lights turned green, the van pulled away. Nobody saw. It wouldn’t have mattered if they had. In this part of town people were smart enough to keep their noses out of what didn’t concern them – no different to the night Ronnie Kray had walked into the Blind Beggar and shot George Cornell.

It had taken all of thirty seconds to kill three men and steal two hundred thousand pounds.

Freddy would’ve been impressed. What a story that would’ve been.

ABOUT ‘INSIDER’: Someone’s playing both sides and now they have a score to settle…
When the family business is crime, you can never be sure who to trust. And when three of their businesses are hit in one night, the notorious Glass family close ranks. Either someone is sending them a message or a war is coming…

With trouble coming from all sides, the heads of the Glass family have more than enough to deal with, but all bets are off when a stranger from the past enters the game, causing division and mistrust.

Crooked cops, rival gangs and old enemies are bad enough, but when the trouble comes from the inside, loyalties are tested, with deadly consequences.

MY THOUGHTS: I am on record, more than once, as having said that I don’t like books about gangs and organised crime. It’s time I added a qualifier to that statement: I don’t like books about gangs and organised crime, unless they are written by Owen Mullen.

Mullen has written a fast paced thriller centred around the Glass family, and although it follows on from the first book in this series, Family, Insider possibly could be read as a stand-alone. But believe me, you would be missing out on some damned fine writing and the story behind the Glass empire.

This is a family for whom the answer to any and every problem is violence. And yet the violence in Insider is not gratuitous. I didn’t skip one word of this book. Everything worked and worked superbly.

The characters are ones that I should, by rights, dislike. They are criminals. Life is cheap. But I don’t dislike them. I have a sneaking admiration for them. I enjoy the family rivalries, and I particularly liked the introduction of Charley – is she who she claims to be, Luke and Nina’s sister, or is she someone else altogether? The same question applies to ex-DI Mark Douglas.

Mullen has written a tautly executed thriller that will have you reading much later into the night than you intend. And no, he hasn’t lost his sense of humour. It’s evident in Insider from beginning to end.

⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐

#Insider #OwenMullen

I: @owenmullen6 #BoldwoodBooks

T: @OwenMullen6 @BoldwoodBooks

#fivestarread #crime #familydrama #contemporaryfiction #suspense #thriller #series

THE AUTHOR: Owen Mullen graduated from Strathclyde University, moved to London and worked as a rock musician, session singer and songwriter, and had a hit record in Japan with a band he refuses to name; Owen still loves to perform on occasion. His great love for travel has taken him on many adventures from the Amazon and Africa to the colourful continent of India and Nepal. A gregarious recluse, he and his wife, Christine, split their time between Glasgow, and their home away from home in the Greek Islands where all of his crime thrillers were created.

DISCLOSURE: Thank you to author Owen Mullen for providing a digital ARC of his novel Insider (The Glass Family #2) 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 Goodreads.com profile page or the about page on sandysbookaday.wordpress.com

This review and others are also published on Twitter, Amazon, Instagram and Goodreads.com