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. ❤📚

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.

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

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

Sandy’s July 2022 Reading Roundup

I started July with 18 books to read for review and ended up with 20 🤷‍♀️ Of those I read 15, and am almost finished the 16th, giving me an 80% review success rate, well up on my dismal 64% rate for June. Plus I read or listened to four books purely for pleasure during the month. And read and reviewed two titles from my backlist. So that was a total of twenty-two reads for the month of July.

I read one debut novel during July, A Murder of Crows by Sarah Yarwood-Lovett which I rated ⭐⭐⭐.6

plus I read five books by authors I haven’t previously read. They were: Aft the Flood by Dave Warner ⭐⭐⭐⭐.3

Old Friends Reunited by Maddie Please ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐

The Saint of Lost Things by Tish Delaney ⭐⭐⭐⭐.5

One Last Day of Summer by Shari Low ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐

#Rejected Goddesses by Natalie Watson and Nina Holmes ⭐⭐.9

My Netgalley feedback ratio is still at 69%. I wonder what it will take to crack the 70% mark. I think I would need to stop requesting books entirely, and that’s not likely to happen.

The four books I didn’t read in July that are now added to my backlist are:

Guilt Trip by Ed James

Golden Age Locked Room Mysteries edited by Otto Penzler

Mother of All Secrets by Kathleen M. Willett

Truly, Darkly, Deeply by Victoria Selman

My five star reads for July were: In the Middle of Hickory Lane by Heather Webber

Outside Looking In (DCI Matilda Darke #2) by Michael Wood

A Room Full of Killers (DCI Matilda Darke #3) by Michael Wood

The Lost Children (DCI Matilda Darke #9) by Michael Wood

One Last Day of Summer by Shari Low

Old Friends Reunited by Maddie Please

I have seventeen reads for review scheduled for August. Fingers crossed that there are no late approvals. If I don’t read anything from my backlist I should be able to get through all of these.

Happy August reading!❤📚

After The Flood by Dave Warner

Happy publication day to Fremantle Press and author Dave Warner for the Australian crime thriller After the Flood.

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

Watching what I’m reading . . .

What an odd afternoon! Looking east, south and west, the sky is black, promising more of the heavy rain that we’ve had all week; north, and the sky is clear and blue, and the sun is shining! Let’s hope the sun wins out, at least for a day or two. The weather forecast is predicting fine weather tomorrow but beyond that it’s rain, and more rain! Speaking of which, it’s just started again. I’m not getting much walking in; I have managed to walk to work only twice in the past three weeks. Hopefully I’ll be able to walk tomorrow morning.

Currently I am reading and loving the Middle of Hickory Lane by Heather Webber. Honestly, if I could open the pages and jump in with these characters, I would.

by Heather Webber

I am also reading The Other Girlfriend by Alex Stone. Isn’t this another stunning cover!

And I am listening to The Nature of the Beast (Chief Inspector Armand Gamache #11) by Louise Penny.

This week I have an absolute mountain of books to read for review. They are: The Carnival is Over by Greg Woodland

1971—Hal is seventeen, with dreams of escaping from Moorabool to a life in the city. But right now he’s on a good behaviour bond and stuck in a job he hates, paying off the car he ‘borrowed’ and crashed. Hal’s packing-room job makes him a target for workplace bullies and the friendship of the older, more worldly Christine is all that makes each day bearable. So when she doesn’t turn up for work, he’s on the alert.

So is Sergeant Mick Goodenough. But he already knows what’s happened to Christine: the same thing that happened to the newly elected deputy mayor. When another gruesome ‘accident’ occurs in Moorabool, Goodenough suspects there’s something sinister going on behind the scenes at the abattoir.

Mick and Hal are both determined to dig up the truth. Before long each of them is going to find himself in mortal danger and running for his life.

The New House by Tess Stimson

Three couples.

About to purchase their dream home.

How far would you go to get the perfect life?

The Blackhouse by Carole Johnstone

Maggie Mackay has been haunted her entire life. No matter what she does, she can’t shake the sense that something is wrong with her. And maybe something is…

When she was five years old, without proof, Maggie announced that someone in the remote village of Blairmore in the Outer Hebrides had murdered a local man, sparking a media storm.

Now, Maggie is determined to discover what really happened and what the villagers are hiding. But everyone has secrets, and some are deadly. As she gets closer to the horrifying truth, Maggie’s own life is in danger…

Look Both Ways by Linwood Barclay

The media have descended on Garrett Island, a small, isolated community that is the setting of a visionary experiment. All the residents’ cars were sent to the mainland and for the past month the islanders have been “driving” the Arrival, a revolutionary autonomous vehicle. With a simple voice command, an Arrival will take you wherever you want to go and, because the fleet is networked and aware of one another, car travel is now 100% safe. The future, it seems, has arrived.

As the excitement reaches a fever pitch, Sandra Montrose – islander, single mom, and public relations executive – prepares for Arrival Inc.’s flashy press event. Sandra is more than ready for this new world. Her husband died after falling asleep at the wheel and she’s relieved that her two teens, Archie and Katie, will never need driver’s licenses.

But as the celebratory day gets underway, disaster strikes. A visiting journalist has vanished, possibly murdered. Before long, the Arrivals run amok, no longer taking orders from their passengers. They’re starting to organize. They’re beginning to hunt. And they seem hell-bent on killing any human they encounter.

Is this all just a tragic accident, a technological malfunction with deadly consequences? Or were the vehicles programmed to act this way in a cruel act of corporate sabotage? Or could it be that the Arrivals have a mind of their own?

Fasten your seatbelts – it’s going to be a bumpy ride. 

The Hidden Truth by Hilary Boyd

It was meant to be a summer of love. Then came the confession . . .

Sara Tempest has been alone since her husband died and daughters left home. But over the course of one summer she meets and falls in love with the charming Bernard. The years of heartache and loneliness are finally behind her.

She quickly moves into his beautiful home on the wind battered cliffs of Hastings. But, after a while, she begins to wonder if Bernard is all he seems.

He’s barely in touch with his children and with stifling reminders of his wife everywhere Sara looks, the walls begin to close in.

Then comes Bernard’s confession and Sara’s newfound happiness starts to crumble around her . . .

The Night Ship by Jess Kidd

Based on a real-life event, an epic historical novel from the award-winning author of Things in Jars that illuminates the lives of two characters: a girl shipwrecked on an island off Western Australia and, three hundred years later, a boy finding a home with his grandfather on the very same island.

1629: A newly orphaned young girl named Mayken is bound for the Dutch East Indies on the Batavia, one of the greatest ships of the Dutch Golden Age. Curious and mischievous, Mayken spends the long journey going on misadventures above and below the deck, searching for a mythical monster. But the true monsters might be closer than she thinks.

1989: A lonely boy named Gil is sent to live off the coast of Western Australia among the seasonal fishing community where his late mother once resided. There, on the tiny reef-shrouded island, he discovers the story of an infamous shipwreck…​

Only two new ARCs this week. They are: All That We Are by Mariah Stewart

And Bernice Runs Away by Talya Tate Boerner

I still have several reviews to write . . . I try not to get behind with that but I have been so tired this week that I’ve found it difficult to string a sentence together. Hopefully I will catch up this week, although I will probably finish both In the Middle of Hickory Lane and The Other Girlfriend today, so there’s another two reviews to be written 😬

Wherever in the world you are, I hope you are safe from all the weather extremes. Keep calm and read on. ❤📚

A Room Full of Killers (DCI Matilda Darke #3) by Michael Wood

EXCERPT: I threw the blanket off me and stood up to turn on the living room light. I can’t remember what I was saying to Max but as soon as the room lit up I could see why he was behaving so oddly.

There was a leak coming through the light fitting in the middle of the room. It didn’t make sense. The bathroom was above the kitchen, not the living room. My eyes adjusted. Shit! It wasn’t water pooling on the coffee table. It wasn’t water dripping and splashing all over the cream carpet. It was blood.

ABOUT ‘A ROOM FULL OF KILLERS’: Eight killers. One house. And the almost perfect murder…

Feared by the people of Sheffield, Starling House is home to some of Britain’s deadliest teenagers, still too young for prison. Now the building’s latest arrival, Ryan Asher, has been found brutally murdered – stabbed twelve times, left in a pool of blood.

When DCI Matilda Darke and her team investigate, they uncover the secrets of a house tainted by evil. Kate Moloney, the prison’s manager, is falling apart, the security system has been sabotaged, and neither the staff nor the inmates can be trusted.

There’s only one person Matilda believes is innocent, and he’s facing prison for the rest of his life. With time running out, she must solve the unsolvable to save a young man from his fate. And find a murderer in a house full of killers…

MY THOUGHTS: A Room Full of Killers is an incredibly tense read. It is dark, fast-paced and, dare I say it, an exhilarating read. I felt like I had run a marathon when I finished.

DCI Matilda Darke is a strong character, but I’m glad she doesn’t work for me, even though she gets results. When Matilda gets her sights on a course of action, there’s little that will deflect her. Certainly not anything like a direct order from her boss ACC Val Masterton. This blatant disregard lands Matilda in hot water more often than not.

I enjoyed (that’s probably not the right word!) the individual stories of the inmates of Starling House, which were interwoven into the story of the investigation into the murder of the newest inmate. Only, in our PC society, we’re probably not allowed to call him that. He would probably be a ‘resident’. Most of the stories are quite chilling. The occasional one, sad. I wondered how many of these boys actually had a teddy bear hidden amongst their possessions that they cuddled up with at night.

The characters in this book are complex – not just Matilda’s team, but also the staff at Sterling House. I could understand Rory’s obsession with finding out why children kill – are they born evil, or is it circumstance? It is something I have often wondered.

The plot is also complex and I had absolutely no idea, until Matilda’s team began to close in on the killer, who it could possibly be.

The only books I haven’t yet read in this series are the two novellas, 0.5 The Fallen, and 4.5 Victim of Innocence. I’ll be reading both as soon as I can.

A Room Full of Killers may easily be read as a stand-alone.


#ARoomFullofKillers @onemorechapter

T: @MichaelHWood @OneMoreChapter

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

THE AUTHOR: Michael Wood is a freelance journalist and proofreader living in Sheffield. As a journalist he has covered many crime stories throughout Sheffield, gaining first-hand knowledge of police procedure. He also reviews books for CrimeSquad, a website dedicated to crime fiction.