The Cold, Cold Ground by Adrian McKinty


EXCERPT: I shone my flashlight and then I saw her.

She was fully clothed, hanging under the limb of an oak tree. She had set up the noose, put her head in it, stepped off a tree stump and then regretted it.

Almost every person who hanged themselves did it wrong.

The noose is supposed to break your neck, not choke you to death.

Lucy had tried desperately to claw through the rope, had even managed to get a finger between the rope and her throat. It hadn’t done any good.

She was blue. Her left eye was bulging out of its socket, her right eyeball had popped onto her cheek.

Apart from that and the lifeless way the breeze played with her brown hair she did not look dead. The birds hadn’t found her yet.


One left in a car at the side of a road. He was meant to be found quickly. His killer is making a statement.

The other is discovered hanged, deep in a forest. She is surely a suicide.

Detective Sergeant Duffy is the man tasked with trying to get to the bottom of it all. It’s no easy job – especially when it turns out that one of the victims was involved in the IRA, but last seen discussing business with someone from the UVF. Add to that the fact that as a Catholic policemen, it doesn’t matter which side he’s on, because nobody trusts him – and Sergeant Duffy really is in a no-win situation.

MY THOUGHTS: I discovered Sean Duffy late in this series, but loved him so much that I have gone back to read this series from the beginning.

McKinty’s writing is, though often brutal, like liquid honey. It flows easily, even as Duffy makes huge leaps of deduction, often unfounded and misguided. But he is no bumbling fool, merely a man who feels too much, who longs to make a difference, who wants to help stop the madness of the Irish troubles.

Set in the reign of Margaret Thatcher, with the marriage of Prince Charles to Diana Spencer looming, resources are stretched thin. Riots are an every day occurrence, political prisoners are on hunger strikes, and innocent civilians are being killed in the random bombings.

And yet amongst all this carnage and hatred, McKinty manages to convey that there are still good people, people not interested in either side winning, people invested in finding an equitable peace. He even manages to insert a little Irish folk lore – ‘My grandmother told me that the forest was an opening to someplace else. Where things lurked, things we could only half see. Older beings. Shees. Shades of creatures that once walked the natural world, redundant now, awaiting tasks, awaiting their work in dreams.’

McKinty is one of the most talented writers I have ever read for setting atmosphere. As I read, I can hear every inflection, every nuance in the voices, I can smell the odour of death, of putrefaction, I can taste the food, even the whisky – ‘It was the good stuff and it tasted of salt, sea, rain, wind and the Old Testament.’ He brings his work alive.


My favourite quote from The Cold, Cold Ground: ‘William Burroughs said that a paranoid is somebody who knows what is actually going on.’

THE AUTHOR: Adrian McKinty is an Irish novelist. He was born in Belfast, Northern Ireland, and grew up in Victoria Council Estate, Carrickfergus, County Antrim. He read law at the University of Warwick and politics and philosophy at the University of Oxford. He moved to the United States in the early 1990s, living first in Harlem, New York and from 2001 on, in Denver, Colorado, where he taught high school English and began writing fiction. He lives in Melbourne, Australia with his wife and two children.

DISCLOSURE: I borrowed my copy of The Cold, Cold Ground by Adrian McKinty, published by Serpent’s Tail, from Waitomo District Library. 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

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Shatter the Night by Emily Littlejohn


EXCERPT: ‘Time’s up, old friend. I will take your eyes and then your tongue, leaving you unable to see or speak. Only then will your lies end. I’m one nightmare you’ll never wake up from.’

ABOUT THIS BOOK: It’s Halloween night in Cedar Valley. During the town’s annual festival, Detective Gemma Monroe takes a break from trick or treating with her family to visit an old family friend, retired Judge Caleb Montgomery, at his law office. To Gemma’s surprise, Caleb seems worried—haunted, even—and confides in her that he’s been receiving anonymous threats. Shortly after, as Gemma strolls back to her car, an explosion at Caleb’s office shatters the night.

Reeling from the shock, Gemma and her team begin eliminating suspects and motives, but more keep appearing in their place, and soon another man is killed. Her investigation takes her from a chilling encounter with a convicted murderer at the Belle Vista Penitentiary, to the gilded rooms of the renovated Shotgun Playhouse, where Shakespeare’s cursed play Macbeth is set to open in a few weeks.

Yet most disturbing of all is when Gemma realizes that similar murders have happened before. There is a copycat killer at play, and if Gemma can’t stop him, he’ll carry out his final, deadly act.

MY THOUGHTS: This is the second book of four in this series that I have read. This is an exciting read with just the right balance between Gemma’s professional and private lives.

As the countdown to her wedding begins, there is an explosion that rocks the town in more ways than one. Set at Halloween, it involves injustices and revenge.

Just like Gemma, I kept coming up with suspects, but I was wrong every time. I enjoyed this fairly fast paced read and it was almost a five star read for me except for two things…one would be a spoiler so I’m not going there, and the second is that I found the ending, although exciting, a little jumbled and untidy.

This is a series that I intend to continue to follow. I like the characters and the setting of Cedar Valley. I do recommend that, should you want to read this book, you start at the beginning of the series. While Shatter the Night could work as a stand alone, references are made to incidents in the previous books, and there are things in the characters histories that you will not understand. This series would make an ideal holiday binge read.

Highly recommended.


Two quotes from this book that I just loved:

‘Halloween. What a joke. The ghouls are here now, they’re always here. As if they’d only come out on one night to play.’

‘Marriages are like leftovers in the fridge; you stop paying attention and pretty soon you’ve got mold on what was once a nice meal.’

#ShatterTheNight #NetGalley

THE AUTHOR: Emily Littlejohn writes the Detective Gemma Monroe mysteries, called “a series to watch” by Booklist.

DISCLOSURE: Thank you to St Martin’s Press via Netgalley for providing a digital ARC of Shatter the Night by Emily Littlejohn 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

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The Girls in the Lake by Helen Phifer


EXCERPT: The glow from the lamps along the quay gave just enough light to see there was something in the water; in the shadow of the boat it looked as if a clump of reads had got tangled in the anchor chain. Leaning further over, he blinked a couple of times and focused his vision, realizing too late that they weren’t reeds at all.

It was a woman, floating face down in the water, her long blonde hair fanned out around her shoulders and snagged onto the anchor chain.

ABOUT THIS BOOK: The discovery of a young student floating face down in Lake Windermere, her naked skin almost translucent in the freezing water, looks like yet another tragic teen suicide. But the victim’s lack of clothes make Forensic Pathologist Beth Adams want to investigate further. Anything to distract her from the arrival of her abusive ex-boyfriend’s body on the mortuary table that morning.

With witnesses keeping tight-lipped and any clues washed away by the tides, it’s up to Beth to find the evidence her team needs. But then another girl is found in the lake, this time still clinging to life. She tells them she was at a party on a boat, and that she was pushed…

As more bodies surface, Beth finds tiny traces of boat paint present on each victim. It’s a critical lead that links these attacks back to a tragic accident involving a group of school children years ago.

Faced with a killer hungry for revenge, and with her own life spiralling out of control, it’s going to take every ounce of skill and determination for Beth to catch this monster before he takes another innocent life. But will Beth realise he’s been right beside her all along?

MY THOUGHTS: I am afraid that I like The Girls in the Lake even less than The Girl in the Grave, and I thought that was barely an okay read. With The Girls in the Lake, I seriously contemplated dnfing it several times. By the time I finished I really didn’t care who had done what to whom.

I disliked it for all the same reasons as the first book in this series. The action in this book takes place a mere month after the previous book finishes so Beth and Josh’s relationship is still relatively new. But she is sneaking around following him. They are also trying to keep their relationship secret from their coworkers, so why would she contemplate taking him breakfast at work?

There’s a lot of silly little errors that spoiled my enjoyment, and some not so small. Beth takes it upon herself to collect a paint sample to match against samples from under the dead girls fingernails, but does so without a warrant, in stormy weather, and despite evidence that there could be someone on board the boat to which the dinghy is tied.

The writing is mostly simplistic and flat. Beth goes outside. She gets (something) from her car. She comes inside. She sits down. You get the idea…..

Reading is a personal and subjective experience, and what appeals to one may not please another. If you enjoyed the excerpt from The Girls in the Lake by Helen Phifer, and the plot outline appeals, please do go ahead and read it. You may well love it, as many other people have.

Not a book I will be recommending, nor a series that I will be following.


#TheGirlsInTheLake #NetGalley

THE AUTHOR: Phifer was born in Barrow-in-Furness, a small town. She grew up there and continued to live there as an adult with her husband and children. She says that the town can occasionally receive some not great press, but confirms that it is a nice area to live in. It is surrounded by gorgeous scenic coast line and is fairly close to the Lake District, which is another beautiful area.

Helen confesses that she has always loved reading as well as writing. When it comes to reading, she likes to pick books that make the hair on her neck go up! Helen always has had a penchant for scary stories. When she eventually could not find enough books in this genre to suit her requirements, she decided that she would boost the amount of scary story books out there by writing some of her own!

DISCLOSURE: Thank you to Bookouture via Netgalley for providing a digital ARC of The Girls in the Lake by Helen Phifer 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

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The Mother I Could Have Been by Kerry Fisher


EXCERPT: I could have put my head on the table and cried. I’d held my babies close when they were born, my mind full of the fun we’d have, the places we’d see, the idea that we’d be this solid unit, each one of us standing firm, providing fortification against the outside world. It never occurred to me that we’d all turn on each other.

ABOUT THIS BOOK: As a child, Vicky Hall never had the sort of family she wanted. The least important person in her new step-family, ignored by her mother in favour of her two younger half-siblings, Vicky was always an afterthought. Sitting alone at her graduation ceremony at the age of twenty-one, she vows to create her own family and her own life, one which is full of the love and attention she has always craved.

When Vicky meets William and falls pregnant in Greece that summer, it isn’t planned. But the two of them believe they can make it work, showering their child with the love which they believe should be enough.

But when her son Theo is two, Vicky leaves him in the care of her mother-in-law, walks out of her front door and drives to a hotel where she takes a room for the night. She doesn’t return.

It’s unthinkable.

What kind of mother does that?

The kind who is hiding a story you can never imagine.

MY THOUGHTS: What mother hasn’t doubted her own capability as a mother? Doesn’t look back with regret at some stupid decision she made, or some inappropriate reaction to something her child has done that she would take back if she could? Mothering has to be the hardest job in the world.

And the most rewarding. But when you’re young, and perhaps without a network of support, it is a daunting job. It’s daunting enough when you have that support. I felt sorry for Vicky, but I didn’t like her. At first…. I came around.

I have to admit I bonded more with Caro, and loved her story, even though I couldn’t see how the two could be connected. But they were. Beautifully.

Fisher has a great way with words. She says about people what we all think at times, and says it in exactly the way we think it. Her characters are so real they could walk off the pages and into our lives. We feel their emotions, their fears, their disappointments, their joys.

An emotional read.


#TheMotherICouldHaveBeen #NetGalley

THE AUTHOR: Kerry Fisher is an internationally bestselling author of six novels, including The Woman I Was Before, The Silent Wife and The Secret Child. She was born in Peterborough, studied French and Italian at the University of Bath and spent several years living in Spain, Italy and Corsica. After returning to England to work as a journalist, she eventually abandoned real life stories for the secrets of fictional families. She now lives in Surrey with her husband, two teenage children and a naughty Lab/Schnauzer called Poppy.

Best advice ever received: ‘This is fiction, we can skip the boring bits.’ Lynn Hightower, UCLA Writers’ Program.

DISCLOSURE: Thank you to Bookouture, via NetGalley, for providing a digital ARC of The Mother I Could Have Been by Kerry Fisher for review. All opinions expressed in this review are entirely my own opinions.

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

This and other reviews are also published on Twitter, Amazon and

The Bones She Buried by Lisa Regan


EXCERPT: As they passed through the back door, Noah called again ‘Mom?’

Their feet sunk into the lush grass as they stopped to scan the large back yard. A tall white fence lined with blooming flower beds marked the perimeter, and a small wooden shed sat in one corner. Josie took a step in the direction of the patio in the centre of the yard that was crowded with heavy metal furniture, her eyes tracing every inch of the garden. With a gasp, she pointed to something sticking out of one of the beds in the far corner. ‘Oh my god, Noah. Is that….?’

The words died in her throat as she sprinted across the yard, Noah behind her.

Colette was on her stomach, her upper body in the flower bed, her protruding feet the only thin visible at a distance. Up close, Josie immediately noticed the gardening gloves on her hands and a small handheld shovel in the dirt a few inches away.

‘Mom!’ Noah cried, panic ringing in his voice. He dropped to his knees, and Josie fell to hers beside him. Together they rolled Colette onto her back. Her eyes were closed and dirt smudged her cheeks and clothes. Cold seeped from Colette’s body into Josie’s hands as her fingers searched Colette’s neck for a pulse, but found nothing.

Noah was already leaning into her chest, one hand on top of the other, fingers laced, giving her compressions. As he counted out thirty presses, Josie angled Colette’s chin so that her mouth was open, and pinched her nostrils closed.

‘Now!’ Noah urged her as he stopped pumping.

Josie’s mouth closed over Colette’s and she exhaled into her, trying to inflate Colette’s lungs. Something fetid and granular stuck to Josie’s lips, and the air wasn’t moving through to Colette’s chest like it should. Coughing, she sat back up and wiped her mouth.

‘What are you doing? Jesus, Josie. Keep going. We have to save her,’ Noah cried.

He pushed her out of the way and sealed his lips over Colette’s, but after one breath, he also pulled away, coughing and spitting onto the ground.

‘It’s soil,’ Josie said. ‘Jesus, Noah, it’s soil!’

ABOUT THIS BOOK: Arriving with her partner Noah for dinner at his family’s immaculate countryside home, Detective Josie Quinn is devastated to find Noah’s mother, Colette, lying lifeless in the back garden, her mouth clogged with soil.

Searching the house for answers, Josie’s team don’t know what to make of the rosary beads buried in the dirt near the body, or the hidden file labelled “Drew Pratt”, the small town of Denton’s most famous missing person.

As she delves deeper into Pratt’s case, Josie quickly discovers he had a brother whose body mysteriously washed up on the banks of a river. There’s also a diary entry suggesting that Colette may have met him on the last day he was seen alive. Can Josie believe the unthinkable, that a kind old soul like Colette might have been involved in their murders? And, will Josie’s new relationship with Noah survive the accusation?

Josie’s only hope lies in tracking down Pratt’s daughter. But when she arrives at her home to find she’s been murdered just minutes before, Josie knows the real killer is one step ahead and won’t stop until Colette’s secret is buried forever. With many more innocent lives on the line, how deep is Josie prepared dig to reach the truth?

MY THOUGHTS: I will never live in any town where Detective Josie Quinn works. This woman attracts trouble, weirdos, and maniac’s like iron filings to a magnet. And while this makes for a great read, things do sometimes get just a little OTT and unbelievable, hence the four not five stars for a book that I read overnight just because it was so exciting!

This is a series best read from the beginning because I believe that the reader needs to understand the dynamics of the relationships, and Josie’s personal history, to get the best from these books. But, believe me, it is no hardship. The books are all quick and easy reads, entertaining in their own twisted way, and the characters become compelling.

Josie doesn’t always make the best choices, either professionally or personally, and although she has matured somewhat over the previous books, her lack of judgement again provides this book with plenty of material and interest.

Regan has the knack of weaving seemingly unconnected occurrences together to form a tight and twisty plot that keeps the reader glued to the page.

A highly recommended series.


#The BonesShe Buried #NetGalley

THE AUTHOR: Lisa Regan is a suspense novelist. She has a Bachelor’s Degree in English and Master of Education Degree from Bloomsburg University. She lives in Philadelphia with her husband and daughter.

DISCLOSURE: Thank you to Bookouture, via Netgalley, for providing a digital ARC of The Bones She Buried by Lisa Regan for review. All opinions expressed in this review are entirely my own.

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

This and other reviews are also published on Twitter, Amazon and

Watching What I’m Reading…

It is a hot summer day here in my little corner of New Zealand. It is not often that you will hear me say this, but it’s actually too hot to be out in the garden. It was the same yesterday, and apparently we have a whole week of this lovely weather to look forward to. Bring on summer…this is my kind of weather. It is lovely sitting out on the deck in the shade, my book in one hand and a nice cold drink in the other.

I actually squeezed an extra book in last week


Which I read last night. Watch for my review.

I am about to begin

And I am listening to


the follow up to The Lilac Girls.

This week I am planning on reading


When Nick’s wife Kerry falls ill and dies, he realises for the first time how fragile his happiness has always been, and how much he’s been taking his good life and wonderful family for granted. Now, he suddenly finds himself navigating parenthood alone, unsure how to deal with his own grief, let alone that of his teenage son, Olly.

In the depths of his heartbreak, Nick must find a way to navigate life that pleases his son, his in-laws, his family and his friends—while honouring what Kerry meant to them all. But when it comes to his own emotions, Nick doesn’t know where to begin. Kerry was his childhood sweetheart—but was she really the only one who could ever make him happy?

And in the aftermath of tragedy, can Nick and his son find themselves again?

And hopefully I will also be able to start


Louise Bridges has the perfect life.

A loving husband, Patrick. Two adorable children. A comfortable home.

So when PC Becca Holt arrives to break the news that Patrick has been killed in an accident, she thinks Louise’s perfect world is about to collapse around her.

But Louise doesn’t react in the way Becca would expect her to on hearing of her husband’s death. And there are only three plates set out for dinner as if Louise already knew Patrick wouldn’t be home that night…

The more Becca digs, the more secrets she uncovers in the Bridges’ marriage – and the more she wonders just how far Louise would go to get what she wants…

Is Louise a loving wife – or a cold-hearted killer?

And I have seven new ARCs from Netgalley….well what can I say? There are currently just so many tempting titles out there begging to be read. And those of you who know me well will know that I can resist everything but temptation 🤣😂🤣😂







I also bought two books this week…



So I had better go get some reading done! I hope you got some lovely books to read this week….

Happy reading my friends

The Return of Mr. Campion by Margery Allingham


Somehow, I have lost my notes containing the excerpts from this collection of short stories thatthat I wanted to share with you. Hopefully they will turn up in some unexpected place, some time in the future, and I will be able to add them.

ABOUT THIS BOOK: In this fantastic collection of thirteen short stories, Margery Allingham explores both the Mystery and the other genres it has allowed her to write.

From a Christmastime story and a portrait of her leading man, Albert Campion, to classic capers and the traditional British mystery, Allingham displays her wit, her humour, and her prowess not just as a Mystery writer but as a storyteller.

Published thirty years after it’s first publication, The Return of Mr Campion proves that both The Mystery and Allingham are still everywhere.

The Return of Mr Campion was first published in 1989 and contains the following short stories:
The case is altered — Mr friend Mr. Campion — The dog day — The wind glass — The beauty king — The black tent — Sweet and low –Once in a lifetime — The kernel of truth — Happy Christmas — The wisdom of Esdras — The curious affair in Nut Row — What to do with an ageing detective

MY THOUGHTS: This was a mixed bag of short stories, many of which didn’t actually feature Mr Campion. But there is plenty to keep the reader interested, with tales of crime, blackmail, romance and even a ghost story.

Of great interest to me is the lack of political correctness that was very evident at the time this collection was written. Very strict social mores are also in evidence. People talk of living in simpler times, but it seems to me that the difficulties were just different.


THE AUTHOR: Margery Louise Allingham was born in Ealing, London in 1904 to a family of writers. Her father, Herbert John Allingham, was editor of The Christian Globe and The New London Journal, while her mother wrote stories for women’s magazines. Margery’s aunt, Maud Hughes, also ran a magazine. Margery earned her first fee at the age of eight, for a story printed in her aunt’s magazine.

Soon after Margery’s birth, the family left London for Essex. She returned to London in 1920 to attend the Regent Street Polytechnic (now the University of Westminster), and met her future husband, Philip Youngman Carter. They married in 1928. He was her collaborator and designed the cover jackets for many of her books.

Margery’s breakthrough came 1929 with the publication of her second novel, The Crime at Black Dudley . The novel introduced Albert Campion, although only as a minor character. After pressure from her American publishers, Margery brought Campion back for Mystery Mile and continued to use Campion as a character throughout her career.

After a battle with breast cancer, Margery died in 1966. Her husband finished her last novel, A Cargo of Eagles at her request, and published it in 1968.

DISCLOSURE: Thank you to Agora Books via Netgalley for providing a digital ARC of The Return of Mr Campion by Margery Allingham 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 or the about page on

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