The Killer in the Snow by Alex Pine

EXCERPT: There was a set of shoeprints in the otherwise pristine snow, and Robert was sure that they hadn’t been there earlier. They were coming from the road and leading over to the steps on the right side of the house, the ones that descended to the cellar door. And yet there were no prints going in the opposite direction.

It puzzled him because the cellar door was always locked and there was only one set of keys, which hung from a hook in the kitchen. What’s more, Mary rarely ventured down there because she’d convinced herself many years ago that it was haunted.

He tightened his grip on the bag and went to investigate. What he saw made him frown further.

The shoeprints went down the steps and stopped in front of the door, which suggested that whoever had gone in there hadn’t yet come out.

But who could it be?

He was about to go down and check when the sound of raised voices came from inside the house. They were loud enough to cause a blast of alarm to shoot through him.

Instinct told him that whatever was going on in the house had to be more important than what might be happening in the cellar, so he turned sharply on his heels and rushed towards the front door.

Just as he reached it, the shouting was drowned out by a high-pitched scream that sent his pulse racing.

ABOUT ‘THE KILLER IN THE SNOW’: The first fall of snow can be fatal…

A year has passed since DI James Walker cracked his biggest case yet, and he’s hoping for peace and quiet this festive season.

But across the fells, a local farmer returns home on Christmas Eve to find footsteps in the fresh snow that lead down to his unused basement – and no footsteps leading away. Days later, his body is found, alongside those of his wife and daughter.

Without a neighbour for miles, there are no witnesses and little evidence. And the crime scene has strange echoes of another terrible murder committed at the farmhouse, twenty years earlier…

James knows that to catch this killer, he needs to solve a case that has long since gone cold…

MY THOUGHTS: A good plot, but I found the writing style somewhat dry and lacking suspense. While I didn’t struggle to get through my listen/read, neither did I pick it up every chance I got. And that’s always a tell.

It was difficult to feel any connection with the characters. They all felt very formal and stiff, as was the dialogue. Other than DC Jess Abbott and James’ wife Annie, the women in this story are all portrayed as rather weak characters or mentally unbalanced.

I enjoyed the mystery being linked to what had happened on the farm twenty four years earlier, even though it was pretty apparent what had happened. It was the ‘how’ that kept me reading.

Initially there are a handful of suspects for the current killings and I did enjoy the resolution. I just wish that it had been a bit less plodding and a lot more suspenseful. I also think that the inclusion of a gangster ‘out to get James’ was unnecessary and distracted from the main storyline. It just didn’t seem to ‘fit’, and served no useful purpose.

I enjoyed the narration of Sid Sagar, but overall this was only an okay, but totally forgettable read.

⭐⭐.6

#TheKillerintheSnow #NetGalley

I: #alexpineauthor @avonbooksuk @harperaudio

T: #alexpineauthor @BooksAvon @HarperAudio

#audiobook #christmasfiction #contemporaryfiction #crime #domesticdrama #detectivefiction #murdermystery #policeprocedural

THE AUTHOR: Alex Pine was born and raised on a council estate in South London and left school at sixteen. Before long, he embarked on a career in journalism, which took him all over the world – many of the stories he covered were crime-related. Among his favourite hobbies are hiking and water-based activities, so he and his family have spent lots of holidays in the Lake District. He now lives with his wife on a marina close to the New Forest on the South Coast – providing him with the best of both worlds! Alex Pine is the pseudonym of a bestselling author who has also written books under the names Jaime Raven, James Raven and JP Carter.

DISCLOSURE: Thank you to Avon Books UK for providing the digital ARC, and Harper Collins UK audio for providing the audio ARC of The Killer in the Snow by Alex Pine 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 is also published on Twitter, Amazon, Instagram and Goodreads.com

Trick or Treat by Katerina Diamond

EXCERPT: An engine rumbled outside the window and he rushed to look; he would have to make a run for it if it was them back from their holiday. A white van had turned into the street and was pulling into Amanda’s drive – looked like a couple of builders. He couldn’t carry on trashing the place while they were parked there. He studied the two men in the front seat for a moment before noticing the gun on the dashboard. The hairs on the back of Jason’s neck stood on end when he realised they were watching the boy who was still cycling up and down the street on his own. What he had assumed were beanies revealed themselves to be balaclavas as the men pulled them down over their faces.

Should he call the police? That would land him in a whole heap of shit. He couldn’t just let this happen though. He picked up a sweater off the floor and dialled triple nine before wrapping the sweater around the mouthpiece in an attempt to conceal his voice. He knew his phone was untraceable. It was something his brother made him promise: always use pay-as-you-go phones with disposable SIMs; don’t let anyone trace where you are. That’s how they’d got Luke on his GBH charge – by finding his location through his phone.

As Jason spoke to dispatch, refusing to answer the questions that might give him away, the engine on the van started again, one man exiting the passenger side and sliding open the back door. Jason felt powerless as the boy cycled towards the van. He knew what was going to happen next, but it still made him sick to his stomach to watch as the scene played out before his eyes.

‘Please, you have to hurry. They’ve taken him, the little boy across the road. They grabbed him and put him in the back of a white van. Forty-six Golding Road.’

ABOUT ‘TRICK OR TREAT’: A stranger. A child. A liar who will stop at nothing…

When six-year-old Marcus is taken from outside his house on Halloween, there is only one witness: a frightened teen determined to keep himself hidden.

After an anonymous tip off, Detective Imogen Grey is called out to an expensive Exeter street, caught up in the buzz of the holiday. But when the police visit Marcus’s house, his parents claim everything is fine. Imogen is sure there is more to the family than meets the eye. But just how much more, she could never have imagined…

What has happened to little Marcus? And will he ever come home?

MY THOUGHTS: A rather mundane police procedural that focuses more on DS Imogen Grey’s life with her ex-copper boyfriend, Adrian, than it does on the abduction of young Marcus Carlyle.

There were a lot of things in Trick or Treat that just didn’t add up for me, the major one being that the person behind the kidnapping had previously been in jail, and so you would think that the fingerprints would be on record, and had they taken fingerprints for elimination purposes, they would have discovered an anomaly.

The other thing that really irritated me was the author’s constant use of ‘said’. Sara said. Imogen said. Adrian said. Peter said . . . It was really grating on my nerves by the end.

There were several things that weren’t explained to my satisfaction, but going into them would give away spoilers, so I am not prepared to do that.

I seriously considered not finishing this once or twice. I found it difficult to relate to any of the characters, even Sara. This book could have been greatly improved by hearing from Marcus; his view of what was happening to him would have made the story far more interesting. We have absolutely no idea what happened to him while in captivity.

A lacklustre narration didn’t help either. The narrator has a limited range of tone, and certainly wasn’t expressive. She could have been reading the telephone directory.

Trick or Treat was a disappointing experience for me.

⭐⭐.4

#TrickorTreat #NetGalley

I: @katerinadiamondauthor @harpercollinsuk

T: @TheVenomousPen @HarperCollinsUK

#audiobook #contemporaryfiction #crime #detectivefiction #familydrama #mystery #policeprocedural

THE AUTHOR: Katerina Diamond was born in Weston in the seventies, and her parents owned a fish and chip shop in the Greek community. She moved to Thessaloniki in Greece and attended Greek school where she learnt Greek in just 6 months. After her parents divorce, they relocated to Devon. After school, and working in her uncles fish and chip shop, she went (briefly) to university at Derby, where she met her husband and had two children. Katerina now lives in the East Kent Coast with her husband and children.

DISCLOSURE: Thank you to Harper Collins UK Audio for providing an audio ARC of Trick or Treat by Katerina Diamond 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 is also published on Twitter, Amazon, Instagram and Goodreads.com

Watching What I’m Reading. . .

Well, one week down the track and we are still in lockdown. Our 75th Jubilee has been cancelled, and we are waiting to hear tomorrow whether or not we will remain in lockdown. I am not hopeful that we will be coming out any time soon. Still I am enjoying the break and getting caught up on lots of little jobs around the house and garden. On nice days my neighbour and I sit outside on our respective sides of the fence and have coffee and chat.

I bumped into Allison from the library book group in the pharmacy in town yesterday and she said the thing that she misses most is human contact; actually being able to touch someone. She is in her eighties, lives alone and has no family close by. We ended up crossing the street to sit at either end of a park bench in the sun and talking for quite some time. So I hope that, for her sake and the sakes of everyone else in the same position, that we will soon be allowed to move around a little more freely. Though having just glanced at today’s figures, it’s not looking all that likely.

Currently I am reading Oh William by Elizabeth Strout. I love her writing; reading Strout is like sitting down having a ‘remember when’ conversation with a friend.

The Room in the Attic by Louise Douglas, which is set in an old mental asylum – although they were called lunatic asylums in 1903 which is one of the two time periods in the book. The other is 1993 when it is a boys school.

I am listening to The Killer in the Snow by Alex Pine which is certainly an interesting murder-mystery/police procedural.

This week I plan to read A Body at the Altar by Dee MacDonald

Jilted grooms, sudden deaths, broken hearts and threatening letters. All in a day’s work for super sleuth Kate Palmer!

Nurse Kate Palmer thought the pretty Cornish village of Tinworthy would be the perfect place for a peaceful retirement. She couldn’t have been more wrong! But even she is shocked when she attends a beautiful wedding at St. Pirin’s Church and the handsome groom drops dead in front of her very eyes.

While the rest of the wedding party panics, Kate notices the strange behaviour of the not-so-blushing bride and the posh mother-in-law – and vows to find out the truth behind the poor young man’s sudden demise. Especially when the new detective Charlotte Martin makes it known that she doesn’t want Kate involved – and also shows an interest in Woody Forrest, Kate’s partner in crime-solving.

Undeterred, Kate discovers this isn’t the only wedding to have been sabotaged. A series of peculiar letters contain the clues Kate needs to get to the heart of the matter. But is the mystery letter writer behind the unusual deaths? Or is more than one person responsible for the strange goings on in the seaside village…

As Kate digs deeper, she adds more suspects to her growing list: the world-weary vicar, the unlucky-in-love cleaner and the bride’s former flame. But, as a pair of boots bring Kate closer to the killer, it becomes clear their investigation has placed Woody in danger.

Can Kate solve the murder and save the man she loves at the same time?

The Geometry of Holding Hands by Alexander McCall Smith

Isabel finds herself entangled in some tricky familial and financial situations that will require all of her kindness, charm, and philosophical expertise to navigate.

Just when Isabel and Jamie finally seem to have some time to connect and unwind, a wealthy Edinburgh resident reaches out to Isabel with an unusual request–he would like her to become the executor of his large Highland estate. Though Isabel initially demurs, he presses on. He has only a short time to live, and, without any direct heirs, is struggling to determine which of his three cousins would be the best caretaker. Should it go to the bohemian artist, the savvy city property developer, or the quiet, unassuming bachelor?

As if this weren’t enough to keep Isabel occupied, she’s also spending more time helping her niece Cat at the deli. Cat, perennially unlucky in love, seems to have finally found her match in the leonine Leo. But Isabel is beginning to suspect that Leo might be interested in more than Cat’s charms, namely her access to the family trust. Isabel will need to rely upon remarkable reserves of intelligence and compassion in order to give all parties exactly what they want and deserve–no more, and no less. 

And I have made up for the excesses of the previous few weeks with only one new ARC this week:

The Life She Wants by Mel Sherratt

I still have 27 requests pending, though there are quite a few that have already been published so I presume that I will never see them. I do wish that the publishers would hit the ‘decline’ button though, and remove them from my pending list.

In the past week I have been to Sydney, Australia; Glasgow, Scotland; Sweden; various locations in England in the mid-1900s; and Exeter, England. Have we crossed paths anywhere?

Safe travels and happy reading. ❤📚

Brutal Crimes by Michael Hambling

EXCERPT: They watched as the pumps started up. The plastic pipes jerked like injured snakes as water began to move through them on its short journey to the next pool, hidden from view some four hundred yards away. At first it was difficult to believe anything was happening, other than the discordant sound of the generators. It was ten minutes before Sophie could spot any sign of a drop in the water level. She walked away to make a quick phone call to Matt Silver, her boss at headquarters. He’d been less than pleased about the cost of the operation and was obviously still jittery about it. By the time Sophie returned, the level had dropped a foot. As time slowly wore on, a few scattered bits of junk started to appear, dripping with muddy liquid. Some were unrecognisable, thickly coated in an orange-brown layer of muck. Bits of piping, tin buckets and an old set of bed springs. Sophie looked at Greg and shrugged.

By mid-morning the pool had shrunk to half its original volume and more objects were beginning to appear, all coated in slime. It looked like something from a ghastly horror movie or art tableau. The macabre scene wasn’t helped by the stink of decay. Several suspiciously lumpy shapes appeared, impossible to identify from the bank. All were coated in a brown slimy ooze.

‘I don’t like the look of them,’ Sophie said to Barry and Rae, both of whom had just arrived from the incident room.

The onlookers ranged around the rim of the pit watched in silence as the water level fell to a few inches and more grotesque shapes appeared in the sticky ooze. Greg Buller gave a thumbs up and several of his team, clad in chest high waders, moved into the remaining puddles, each roped for safety to a colleague on the bank above. They carried hoses and sprayed water over the lumpy shapes as they advanced, revealing their original form. An ancient bicycle. Several half-rotted tree stumps. A couple of sheets of corrugated iron. An old mattress near to another set of bedsprings. A hose was played onto a lumpy shape that could have been another tree trunk. It wasn’t.

ABOUT ‘BRUTAL CRIMES’: Ten-year-old Amy Birkbeck is checking her bat boxes late one cold January evening in the woods by her house.

She witnesses something no child should ever see — a group of men rolling a body into the deep pool of the disused old clay pit.

Meanwhile, DCI Sophie Allen’s team is falling apart.

Local officer — and suspected bent copper — DS Stu Blackman is missing.

And new recruit, DC Tommy Carter, is knocked off his bike in a serious hit and run.

Then a second body is found in the disused clay pit. And it seems the dead man is connected to a suspected arms dealer . . .

There are dangerous goings-on in Detective Allen’s quiet patch of Dorset, and she doesn’t know who to trust.

MY THOUGHTS: Although I didn’t enjoy Brutal Crimes as much as I did other books in this series, it is still a good read.

I loved the character of Amy Birbeck – she is an incredibly resilient and resourceful child – and she was definitely the shining star of this story.

There’s a lot going on to keep Sophie and her team occupied – a missing child, and two missing policemen to start with – and the situation just gets worse from there. But for some reason, this read just didn’t flow as easily for me as previous books in this series have.

One reason I enjoy Sophie’s character is that she is strong female lead detective who isn’t carrying loads of baggage and who lives a relatively normal life. A female Alan Banks. DCI Sophie Allen is happily married to the father of her two adult daughters. She has a great relationship with both her daughters and with her mother, who’s quite a colorful character. She works well with her team. A nice woman who gets the job done. A breath of fresh air!

One of the downfalls of Brutal Crimes is I missed the insights into Sophie’s personal life. She has a delightful family and we see nothing of them in Brutal Crimes.

A good solid addition to, but definitely not the best book in this series.

⭐⭐⭐.6

#BrtalCrimes #NetGalley

I: @joffebooks

T: @JoffeBooks

#contemporaryfiction #crime #detectivefiction #policeprocedural

THE AUTHOR: The mystery writer Michael Hambling is a novelist very much one of his background, hailing from Dorset in the United Kingdom. Writing with a definite British set of sensibilities, he manages to convey a different style of writing through his books, which is why so many have taken to his work. Using his British surroundings as the backdrop for most of his works, he creates mysteries that really keep his readers guessing constantly throughout.

Michael Hambling is not a social media user.

DISCLOSURE: Thank you to Joffe Books via Netgalley for providing a digital ARC of Brutal Crimes by Michael Hambling 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 is also published on Twitter, Amazon, Instagram and Goodreads.com

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

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!

Dead Sorry (Calladine & Bayliss #11) by Helen H. Durrant

EXCERPT: They’d had a quiet few weeks but Calladine, ever the realist, had known it wouldn’t last. Now it looked as if the days of keeping office hours and getting home in time for tea were finally over.

The sight that greeted him as he stood in the doorway of the flat was truly awful. The woman lay on the lino, limbs splayed at unnatural angles. It didn’t take much medical knowledge to know that they were broken. Her face was fast disappearing under the close attention of dozens of maggots, and brain tissue gaped from a hole in her skull.

ABOUT ‘DEAD SORRY’: Twenty-five years ago a schoolgirl was attacked by three bullies in her home where she lived with her grandmother.

Now, the mother of one of those bullies is found murdered on the Hobfield housing estate. Written on the wall in the victim’s blood is the word, “sorry.”

There is a link to the discovery of bones at an old house up in the hills — the home of the teenage girl who was attacked.

Detective Tom Calladine and his partner DS Ruth Bayliss have more than this puzzling case on their hands. Arch-villain Lazarov is threatening Calladine’s granddaughter and a valuable hoard of Celtic gold is coming to a local museum.

The pressure is on, and this time Calladine is cracking . . .

THE DETECTIVES
Tom Calladine is a detective inspector who is devoted to his job. His personal life, however, is not so successful. Having been married and divorced before the age of twenty-one has set a pattern that he finds difficult to escape.

Ruth Bayliss is in her mid-thirties, plain-speaking but loyal. She is balancing her professional life with looking after a small child.

THE SETTING The fictional village of Leesdon is on the outskirts of an industrial northern English city. There is little work and a lot of crime. The bane of Calladine’s life is the Hobfield housing estate, breeding ground to all that is wrong with the area that he calls home.

MY THOUGHTS: Helen Durrant took me for a ride with Dead Sorry. Early in the book I was accusing Calladine and Bayliss of missing things that were right in front of them. They didn’t, and my suspicions were mostly wrong.

Dead Sorry cracks along at a good pace. It is a quick, easy read, and probably able to be read as a stand-alone, although it is #11 in the series.

Bullying is at the centre of one of the two threads in Dead Sorry, drug dealing at the other. There are plenty of twists and turns in the plot. One in particular had me sitting up and taking notice as it knocked a couple of my theories right out of the ring.

I love that the author includes a quick bio of her main characters at the beginning. It’s a lovely reminder to those of us who have read previous books, and a good introduction for those of whom this is their first book. A new character is introduced in Dead Sorry, and Tom has a bit of a health scare.

Dead Sorry is a good read that kept me guessing, but one that I probably won’t give another thought to until #12 is published.

⭐⭐⭐.8

#DEADSORRY #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 Sorry 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 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 have had a beautiful week of weather: cool but not actually cold nights, and gloriously sunny days with temperatures not quite reaching those of summer, but very close. But it seems that is coming to an end. We had thick fog this morning and now it is mizzling. The forecast for the week to come is rain, all week. I am glad my new dryer arrived and was installed on Friday.

We were planning on going out for lunch today at a new bar about 3/4 hour away. It has Heineken on tap and I have heard only good things about the food. But I was much longer at work this morning than I thought I was going to be, and then I got home to find friend had called in, so lunch out has been postponed for a couple of weeks. I made us all toasted sandwiches instead, and we caught up on each other’s news before he had to head off again. If he hadn’t been travelling in the opposite direction, we would have suggested he join us.

I have had a wonderful week’s reading based mainly in England, with a little time in Wales. Have you been anywhere interesting?

Currently I am reading The Maidens by Alex Michaelides. Intriguing!

I am also reading Don’t Let Go by Harlan Coben. I only started this yesterday, and am almost finished.

And I am about to begin listening to If I Had Two Lives by A.B. Whelan and narrated by Kristen James

This week I am planning to read Dead Sorry by Helen H. Durrant

Twenty-five years ago a schoolgirl was attacked by three bullies in her home where she lived with her grandmother.

Now, the mother of one of those bullies is found murdered on the Hobfield housing estate. Written on the wall in the victim’s blood is the word, “sorry.”

There is a link to the discovery of bones at an old house up in the hills — the home of the teenage girl who was attacked.

Detective Tom Calladine and his partner DS Ruth Bayliss have more than this puzzling case on their hands. Arch-villain Lazarov is threatening Calladine’s granddaughter and a valuable hoard of Celtic gold is coming to a local museum.

The pressure is on, and this time Calladine is cracking . . .

Discover an absolutely unputdownable crime thriller from a best-selling author.

If you like Angela Marsons, Rachel Abbott, Mel Sherratt, Ruth Rendell, or Mark Billingham you will enjoy this exciting new crime fiction writer.

DEAD SORRY is book eleven of a new series of detective thrillers featuring DS Ruth Bayliss and DI Tom Calladine.

What readers are saying about the series
“I read it in one sitting.” Aileen

“This books has lots of twists and turns throughout and with a cracking ending to this brilliant book.” Nessa

“Really enjoyed this book.” Nerys

“Kept me guessing till the end.” Anna Maria

“I finished it in twenty-four hours and enjoyed every page.” Joan

THE DETECTIVES
Tom Calladine is a detective inspector who is devoted to his job. His personal life, however, is not so successful. Having been married and divorced before the age of twenty-one has set a pattern that he finds difficult to escape.

Ruth Bayliss is in her mid-thirties, plain-speaking but loyal. She is balancing her professional life with looking after a small child.

THE SETTINGThe fictional village of Leesdon is on the outskirts of an industrial northern English city. There is little work and a lot of crime. The bane of Calladine’s life is the Hobfield housing estate, breeding ground to all that is wrong with the area that he calls home.

The Vacation by John Marrs

Venice Beach, Los Angeles. A paradise on earth.

Tourists flock to the golden coast and the promise of Hollywood.

But for eight strangers at a beach front hostel, there is far more on their mind than an extended vacation.

All of them are running from something. And they all have secrets they’d kill to keep…

I went to my local library last week to return a book. Honest. I had no intention of picking up anything new to read. You will understand why when you see the number of ARCs I received this week. And sitting there, right beside the return slot, is a shelf of recent releases – and if that’s not fighting dirty, I don’t know what is! – and New Zealand author Paul Cleave’s latest, The Quiet People. But it wasn’t just sitting there, quietly. Oh no. It was fluttering it’s pages alluringly at me, whispering seductively, ‘How about I come home with you. I can show you a really good time’ . . . Then it literally (no pun intended) threw itself at me and manoeuvred me to checkouts. I know when I’m beaten and gave in quietly. So this week I will also be reading

Cameron and Lisa Murdoch are successful crime-writers. They have been on the promotional circuit, joking that no-one knows how to get away with crime like they do. After all, they write about it for a living.So when their 7 year old son Zach goes missing, naturally the police and the public wonder if they have finally decided to prove what they have been saying all this time – are they trying to show how they can commit the perfect crime? 

I had a day during the week when I was feeling quite overwhelmed by an accumulation of different things. So that night when I couldn’t sleep and couldn’t concentrate on my reading, I took refuge in Netgalley with result that I received twenty-seven (yes, Susan. 27.) ARCs this week 🤦‍♀️🤸‍♀️🤸‍♀️🤦‍♀️🤸‍♀️🤸‍♀️🤦‍♀️ I don’t know whether to be appalled or excited.

As well as the audiobook If I Had Two Lives by A.B. Whelan, Dead Sorry by Helen H. Durrant, and The Vacation by John Marrs, I received:

What’s Not True by Valerie Taylor

My Mother’s Children by Annette Sills

In Another Light by A.J. Banner

The Darkest Flower by Kristin Wright (thank you Michael David https://bonkersforthebooks.wordpress.com/)

The Beauty of Fragile Things by Emma Hartley

Summer Island Book Club by Ciara Knight

Death and Croissants by Ian Moore

I Don’t Forgive You by Aggie Blum Thompson

The Best American Mystery and Suspense 2021

Snow Country by Sebastian Faulks

The Crooked Shore by Martin Edwards

The Murder Box by Olivia Kiernan

One Left Behind by Carla Kovach

The Shut Away Sisters by Suzanne Goldring

The Grandmother Plot by Caroline B. Cooney

The Perfect Guests by Emma Rous

Oh William! by Elizabeth Strout

The Plot by Jean Hanff Korelitz

Slough House by Mick Herron

Her Perfect Life by Hank Phillipi Ryan

A Hand to Hold in Deep Water (audiobook) by Shawn Nocher, narrated by Elizabeth Evans

The Third Grave by Lisa Jackson

And two more audiobooks, Know No Evil by Graeme Hampton, narrated by Julie Maisey

And, The Man I Married by Elena Wilkes, narrated by Colleen Prendergast

I have never had that many ARCs in one week before. I bet that does a bit of damage to my review ratio! What is the most ARCs you have received in any one week?

Now I have two reviews to write so I had better get writing and get them done before dinner. Nice fresh snapper tonight with an avocado salsa and salad.

Happy reading my friends. ❤📚

In Her Tracks by Robert Dugoni

EXCERPT: ‘Let’s play hide and seek, Daddy.’

‘We don’t have time for that, Elle. We have to get through.’

‘Please, Daddy.’

‘I’m sorry, honey. Maybe we can play at home.’

Elle cried. Then she sat down in the dirt.

‘Elle, get up, honey. You’re getting your costume dirty.’

‘No.’

‘Honey, you have to stand up.’

‘I want to play. Mommy lets me play.’

The counsellor Chin had seen for his court-ordered anger-management classes had warned that kids going through a contentious divorce could become defiant and play one parent off against the other.

‘Elle. You need to stand up.’

‘No. Graham plays with me.’

Chin felt his heart ripping apart. ‘Okay. One quick game. All right?’

Elle got to her feet. ‘Yay!’

‘But when I say come out, you have to come out. Okay?’

‘You count, Daddy. You have to hide your eyes.’

‘Okay, but if I say come out, you come out. Right?’

‘Turn around when you count.’

Chin turned and counted. It wouldn’t be hard to find Elle’s colourful butterfly wings among the green corn stalks. ‘One Mississippi. Two Mississippi. Three Mississippi.’

At six he cheated and turned. He didn’t see Elle’s wings behind the corn stalks. ‘Here I come.’ He stepped forward. ‘I’m coming.’ He searched the aisle, looking under the drooping leaves. He turned the corner to another row. Then a third and a fourth. He checked his watch, felt himself starting to panic.

He shouted, ‘Okay, Elle. I give up. Come out.’ He turned in a circle, looking, hearing the wind rustle the stalks. ‘Don’t let the lights go out,’ he muttered under his breath. He called again. ‘Elle? You have to come out. The game is over.’

His heart raced.

He jogged, turning left and right, down the rows, shouting her name. ‘Elle. Come out. Elle? Elle!’

He turned a corner, disorientated.

Another corner.

Elle’s colourful butterfly wings lay in the dirt.

‘Elle!’

Then the lights went out.

ABOUT ‘IN HER TRACKS’: Returning from an extended leave in her hometown of Cedar Grove, Detective Tracy Crosswhite finds herself reassigned to the Seattle PD’s cold case unit. As the protective mother of an infant daughter, Tracy is immediately drawn to her first file: the abduction of a five-year-old girl whose parents, embattled in a poisonous divorce, were once prime suspects.

While reconstructing the days leading up to the girl’s disappearance, Tracy is brought into an active investigation with former partner Kinsington Rowe. A young woman has vanished on an isolated jogging trail in North Seattle. Divided between two critical cases, Tracy has little to go on except the treacherous deceptions behind a broken marriage—and now, the secrets hiding behind the closed doors of a deceptively quiet middle-class neighborhood.

To find two missing persons, Tracy will have to follow more than clues, which are both long cold and unsettlingly fresh. Given her own traumatic past, Tracy must also follow her instincts—to whatever dark and dangerous places they may lead.

MY THOUGHTS: Another solid addition to Dugoni’s Tracy Crosswhite series. Tracy is returning to work following her maternity leave and finds that she has been shafted by her longtime arch-nemesis, Nolasco. But as they say, every cloud has a silver lining and Nolasco may just wind up having to eat humble pie.

Tracy’s character continues to develop and motherhood seems to have made her more conscious of the effect her personal traumas have had on her, and the need to learn to cope with them, if not overcome them has her regularly seeing a therapist. She has to learn to balance her caseload with her family life, not always an easy task, especially for someone as dedicated and empathetic as Tracy.

There are some unexpected twists and turns, and one that wasn’t so surprising to me, that I had guessed earlier on. Even though we know what has happened to Stephanie Cole, the young woman who has been abducted, Dugoni has laid a clever trail of red herrings so that the case is not quite as clear cut as it initially seems. This case somewhat overshadows the cold case involving the disappearance of five year old Elle Chin, and I also felt that the resolution to this was dragged out too long. Despite this, Dugoni kept my interest throughout and I enjoyed this addition to the series.

As a bonus, I think that this book could well be read as a stand-alone, so if you are daunted by the thought of starting this series at book #8, don’t be.

⭐⭐⭐⭐.4

#InHerTracks #NetGalley

@robertdugoni

#contemporaryfiction #crime #detectivefiction #mystery #policeprocedural

THE AUTHOR: A writer turned lawyer turned writer.
Robert Dugoni was born in Idaho and raised in Northern California the middle child of a family of ten siblings. Dugoni jokes that he didn’t get much of a chance to talk, so he wrote. By the seventh grade he knew he wanted to be a writer.

Dugoni wrote his way to Stanford University, receiving writing awards along the way, and majored in communications/journalism and creative writing while working as a reporter for the Stanford Daily. He graduated Phi Beta Kappa and worked briefly as a reporter in the Metro Office and the San Gabriel Valley Office of the Los Angeles Times.

DISCLOSURE: Thank you to Thomas & Mercer via Netgalley for providing a digital ARC of In Her Tracks by Robert Dugoni 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

A Gathering of Secrets by Linda Castillo (Kate Burkholder #10)

EXCERPT: She didn’t sleep. Hadn’t slept through the night in a long time. There was too much darkness, not the kind that was restful. At dawn, when her mamm peeked into her bedroom and told her it was time to feed the animals and get ready for worship, she was already awake, waiting. Ready.

Ever the obedient daughter, she pulled on her dress, tugged her hair into a bun, and covered her head with her kapp. Stepping into her winter tights and sneakers, she left her room and took the steps down to the living room. She avoided the kitchen where she could hear her mamm clanging breakfast dishes and frying sausage, and went out through the side door and into the cold. The morning was wet and gray, drizzle floating down from a sky the colour of iron. Once in the barn, she tossed hay to the horses, filled their water buckets, dumped scratch into the chicken feeder, and gathered six brown eggs.

She’d never lied to her parents. Not once in all of her seventeen years. But when Mamm told her to get cleaned up for worship, she complained that she’d been sick and throwing up half the night. Mamm wasn’t pleased that she would miss such an important day. But what could she say?

Morning chores complete, she went back to her room and lay down on her bed. She stared at the ceiling and listened to the sounds of the house. The voices of her younger siblings. The scrape of silverware against plates. The silence while the gebet nach dem essen or prayer after meal was recited. The slamming of the door when her datt went out to harness the buggy horse. The pound of feet on the wood floor when the little ones went out to help.

Oh, how she would miss them.

ABOUT ‘A GATHERING OF SECRETS’: When a historic barn burns to the ground in the middle of the night, Chief of Police Kate Burkholder is called in to investigate. At first, it looks like an accident, but when the body of eighteen-year-old Daniel Gingerich is found inside—burned alive—Kate suspects murder. Who would want a well-liked, hardworking young Amish man dead?

Kate delves into the investigation only to find herself stonewalled by the community to which she once belonged. Is their silence a result of the Amish tenet of separation? Or is this peaceful and deeply religious community conspiring to hide a truth no one wants to talk about? Kate doubles down only to discover a plethora of secrets and a chilling series of crimes that shatters everything she thought she knew about her Amish roots—and herself.

As Kate wades through a sea of suspects, she’s confronted by her own violent past and an unthinkable possibility.

MY THOUGHTS: I enjoy this series based around an ex-Amish Chief of Police, Kate Burkholder. This is the tenth of the series, and although they all basically follow the same formula – a crime is committed, usually against an Amish person/family, and Kate has her work cut out for her investigating it as no one wants to talk to her. She endangers her own life in the process, but by combining forces with John Tomasetti, her not so secret lover and agent with the Ohio Bureau of Criminal Investigation, she solves the case. As I said, although they basically all follow the same formula, Castillo manages to keep the writing fresh and interesting, with no two cases alike. I have yet to guess the identity of the killer/s before Kate.

There are plenty of twists and turns in this very unusual and heartwrenching case that gets very personal for Kate. While the resolution left me stunned, part of me was also cheering on the perpetrator. It’s one of those moral dilemmas – which was the greater wrong?

Kathleen McInerney does, as always, a wonderful job of narrating A Gathering of Secrets.

I am always eagerly awaiting the release of the next book in the series, and I certainly hope that #11 is not too far away.

⭐⭐⭐⭐.3

#AGatheringOfSecrets #lindacastilloauthor #MacmillanAudio

@LindaCastillo11 @MacmillanAudio

#amishfiction #audiobook #contemporaryfiction #crime #detectivefiction #murdermystery

THE AUTHOR: In addition to writing, Castillo’s other passion is horses, particularly her appaloosa George. She lives in Texas with her husband and is currently at work on her next novel.

DISCLOSURE: I listened to the audiobook of A Gathering of Secrets written by Linda Castillo, narrated by Kathleen McInerney, and published by Macmillan Audio via Overdrive and Libby. 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, Instagram, and Goodreads.com