Summer Island Book Club by Ciara Knight

EXCERPT: ‘What’s this?’ Julie eyed her daughter’s handwriting on the front of the envelope.

‘Open it.’ Bri took a large bite, but Julie wasn’t hungry all of a sudden.

She opened the first envelope and read the single sheet.

A call to Summer Island Book Club January 14th

Julie shook her head. ‘I don’t understand.’ Her words were hollow because her brain was processing a thirty two year old message. The last time she’d seen those words, she was graduating high school. All her friends had moved on with their lives, leaving the slow, dyslexic, artsy girl behind to marry young because that was her only choice. Not that she regretted her years with Joe, not at all, but she had envied her friends worldly lives after graduation. Kat went Ivy League. Wind landed a part in a Broadway production. Trace joined some world renowned ocean conservation company and made headlines cleaning up oil spills and inventing new ways to combat the plastic problem in the oceans.

Julie had stayed in the same town, doing the same thing, for three decades. ‘No,’ she mumbled under her breath. ‘I don’t want to see them.’

ABOUT ‘SUMMER ISLAND BOOK CLUB’: Widow Julie Boone has lived her life and is content, so she thought until her daughter gives her the perfect nightmare of a fiftieth birthday gift-her three childhood besties. The arrival of her wildly successful, buttinski friends, overwhelms Julie when her life goes from peaceful to melodrama, makeovers, and matchmaking. Especially when they make her believe there is still life to be lived with one handsome sailor who’s just moved to town.

Trevor Ashford retreats from big city life to sunny Florida after a failed marriage and damaged reputation. His only wish is to open a small boat charter company in peace, but when Houdini-a mischievous pet ferret-steals an engine part and leads him on a merry chase into the arms of Julie Boone, he has to choose between being a recluse or embracing a new love.

MY THOUGHTS: Summer Island Book Club by Ciara Knight is a quick, easy, sweet and entertaining read, but it’s very little to do with a book club, other than historically.

I like the characters, and I like that they are an older age group than what is usually found in a romance novel. I found Julie really easy to relate to, probably because we share a lot of the same personality traits.

I liked that the love interests don’t immediately jump into bed, but I did feel that the whole ‘romance/falling in love’ scenario was extremely rushed, happening over a very short period of time, approximately two weeks, give or take, by my calculation. That was a negative for me.

And, as I mentioned, there actually isn’t a book club, or any books read, or discussed. In fact, until right at the end, there isn’t even any mention of books. Julie never sits down with a drink and a book, never reads a book on the beach . . . there’s no mention of books in her house! And I do love the cover. I could easily insert myself into it.

But, this was a fun read and one not to be taken seriously. I enjoyed it, but it is not one that I will remember for long, although I do have it’s follow up, Summer Island Sisters queued up to read.

⭐⭐⭐.5

#SummerIslandBookClub #NetGalley

I: @ciaratknight #authorcollective20

T: @ciaratknight

#contemporaryfiction #romance #womensfiction

THE AUTHOR: A friend once told me that I live eighty percent of my life in my imagination and twenty percent in the real world. I can’t deny this. I’m Ciara Knight
USA Today Bestselling author of sweet contemporary and southern romance. I’ve written almost fifty novels.

DISCLOSURE: Thank you to Authors Collective 20 for providing a digital ARC of Summer Island Book Club by Ciara Knight 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 tried to take Luke to the library to borrow some books a couple of weeks ago, but he told me he wanted to keep the books forever, so we didn’t go. I had a book to return yesterday, so I took him with me and he brought 4 books home, and suddenly it’s a really good idea to borrow books then take them back and swap them for new ones. These were his selections:

Currently I am reading and loving Rabbit Hole by Mark Billingham. I can see myself reading late into the night tonight despite having an early start tomorrow so that I can get done what I need to before going for my Covid vaccination.

I am also reading A Vineyard Crossing by Jean Stone, a new author for me. I have to admit it was the cover that first attracted me. I just wanted to plonk myself down on the sand and soak up the view. The Adirondack chair? Am I the only person earth who finds these uncomfortable? It probably has something to do with my short legs…. But however I came select this, I am enjoying this warm, gentle read.

I am not currently listening to an audiobook, but I have All the Little Hopes by Leah Weiss ready to go.

Deep in the tobacco land of North Carolina, nothing’s the same since the boys shipped off to war and worry took their place. Thirteen-year-old Lucy Brown is curious and clever, but she can’t make sense of it all. Then Allie Bert Tucker comes to town, an outcast with a complicated past, and Lucy believes that together they can solve crimes. Just like her hero, Nancy Drew.

That chance comes when a man goes missing, a woman stops speaking, and an eccentric gives the girls a mystery that takes them beyond the ordinary. Their quiet town, seasoned with honeybees and sweet tea, becomes home to a Nazi prisoner-of-war camp—and more men go missing. The pair set out to answer the big question: do we ever really know who the enemy is?

This week I am planning on reading Stolen by Tess Stimson

You thought she was safe. You were wrong…

Alex knows her daughter would never wander off in a strange place. So when her three-year-old vanishes from an idyllic beach wedding, Alex immediately believes the worast.

The hunt for Lottie quickly becomes a world-wide search, but it’s not long before suspicion falls on her mother. Why wasn’t she watching Lottie?

Alex knows she’s not perfect, but she loves her child. And with all eyes on her, Alex fears they’ll never uncover the truth unless she takes matters into her own hands.

Who took Lottie Martini? And will she ever come home?

And The Noise by James Patterson and J.D. Barker

If you hear it, it’s too late. Can two sisters save us all?

In the shadow of Mount Hood, sixteen-year-old Tennant is checking rabbit traps with her eight-year-old sister Sophie when the girls are suddenly overcome by a strange vibration rising out of the forest, building in intensity until it sounds like a deafening crescendo of screams. From out of nowhere, their father sweeps them up and drops them through a trapdoor into a storm cellar. But the sound only gets worse .

I received 8 new ARCs this week 🤦‍♀️

Lil’s Bus Trip by Judy Leigh – I was excited by this as I have been requesting this author for some time, and this is my first approval.

The Sunshine Club by Carolyn Brown

Darkness Falls by David Mark

The Midnight Hour by Elly Griffiths

Plus Cause of Death by Jeffery Deaver. This is an excellent novella which I read last night. Watch for my review later this week.

The Noise by James Patterson and J.D. Barker which I am reading this week

A Vineyard Crossing by Jean Stone, which I am currently reading

And the audiobook All the Little Hopes by Leah Weiss, which I will start tomorrow.

I have travelled mainly in USA this week, Atlanta, Georgia; Chicago, Illinois; Porto Rico; Chappaquiddick Island, Massachusetts; Martinsville County, also Massachusetts; with side trips to Porthteal,Cornwall; and Hendon, a suburb of London. Where have you travelled this week?

Have you read any of the books I have coming up, or are they on your TBR? Or have I tempted you to add them to your TBR?

Have a wonderful week. Stay safe and keep on reading!❤📚

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!

Watching What I’m Reading . . .

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

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

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

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

I am listening to Know No Evil by Graeme Hampton

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

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

Cabin Fever by Alex Dahl

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

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

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

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

And The Stalker by Sarah Alderson

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

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

And this stranger wants them dead.

I received three new ARCs this week:

Lost Angels (Nikki Hunt #3) by Stacy Green

Home Sweet Home by Nicole Trope

And I Let Him In by Jill Childs

What lovely new reads have you received this week?

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

Happy reading my friends!❤📚

Insider by Owen Mullen (The Glass Family #2)

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐

#Insider #OwenMullen

I: @owenmullen6 #BoldwoodBooks

T: @OwenMullen6 @BoldwoodBooks

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

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

DISCLOSURE: Thank you to author Owen Mullen for providing a digital ARC of his novel Insider (The Glass Family #2) for review. All opinions expressed in this review are entirely my own personal opinions.

For an explanation of my rating system please refer to my Goodreads.com profile page or the about page on sandysbookaday.wordpress.com

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

Watching what I’m reading . . .

I’ve done quite a lot of travelling through my reading this week. I’ve been to Mauritius, London and Sydney; Blossom, Texas; Maryland; and Berlin. Now I think I am a little jet-lagged. Where have you been in your reading travels this past week?

I have just started reading The Evidence by K.L. Slater.

and am two-thirds of the way through the audiobook A Hand to Hold in Deep Water written by Shawn Nocher and narrated by Elizabeth Evans.

This week I am planning on reading Dream Girl by Laura Lippman

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

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

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

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

And Insider by Owen Mullen

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

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

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

And the approvals resulting from my requesting spree a couple of weeks are still arriving in my inbox. Six this week.

Darkness Falls by Robert Bryndza

The Butterfly Garden by Sophie Anderson (thank you Carla)

Stupid Things I Won’t Do When I Get Old by Steven Petrow (thanks again Carla), although I wonder if reading this might not be a case of closing the stable door after the horse has bolted . . .

All About Ella by Meredith Appleyard. I believe I coveted this from Shelleyrae’s list last week.

Barefoot in the Sand by Holly Chamberlain (Susan? Carla? Both? I really can’t remember….)

and Mrs March by Virginia Feito

What new reads have you received this week?

Whatever you are reading, have a wonderful week!

The Long Call by Ann Cleeves

EXCERPT: It had been a weird day at the Woodyard. Jonathan had come to find her in her studio with a tale of one of the day centre clients having gone missing. Although he was the boss, he called in sometimes, not to talk about work, but to drink coffee and look at her art.

‘Christine Shapland. Gentle soul. Down’s. Very quiet. A bit shy. She just seemed to disappear.’

‘Sorry. I haven’t seen her since last week.’ Gaby thought Jonathan had come to the studio to escape the panic in the rest of the building, to have a few moments of calm. He wouldn’t really expect her to have seen the woman recently. Gaby had nothing to do with the day centre, except for running an art class there once a week.

‘There seems to have been some kind of breakdown in communication. Her uncle thought her mother had picked her up and Susan, her mother, thought the uncle was doing it. Nobody’s seen her since yesterday.’ Jonathan had been standing by the window, the light catching one side of his face, turning the blond hair to silver thread. ‘It’s a bloody nightmare. Her uncle is Dennis Salter. He’s on the Board of Trustees and should have known better. He should have gone in for her, or at least looked out properly. It’ll be the Woodyard that gets the blame, though. The press will have a field day.’

He turned towards Gaby then and she thought she’d never seen him so tense, so fraught.

‘Why don’t you talk to Christopher Preece? He must be good at handling the media.’

‘Yeah, maybe.’ But Jonathan hadn’t seemed too sure. ‘I just want her found safe and well. This, on top of the murder of one of our volunteers, seems like a nightmare. I always thought of the Woodyard as a kind of a sanctuary. Not a place where terrible things happen to the people who belong here.’

ABOUT ‘THE LONG CALL’: In North Devon, where the rivers Taw and Torridge converge and run into the sea, Detective Matthew Venn stands outside the church as his father’s funeral takes place. The day Matthew turned his back on the strict evangelical community in which he grew up, he lost his family too.

Now he’s back, not just to mourn his father at a distance, but to take charge of his first major case in the Two Rivers region; a complex place not quite as idyllic as tourists suppose.

A body has been found on the beach near to Matthew’s new home: a man with the tattoo of an albatross on his neck, stabbed to death.

Finding the killer is Venn’s only focus, and his team’s investigation will take him straight back into the community he left behind, and the deadly secrets that lurk there.

MY THOUGHTS: I picked this book up for two reasons: I love Ann Cleeves writing; and as I have recently received a digital ARC for the second in this series, The Heron’s Cry, I wanted to read The Long Call first.

Matthew Venn is going to be a worthy addition to Ann Cleeves existing stable of detectives, Vera Stanhope and Jimmy Perez. Gay, a bit of a loner/misfit who lacks confidence in himself and feels awkward in company, a bit anal, he has an analytical mind, and is only too aware that his past experiences with some of the people involved in this investigation may colour his perceptions. Jonathan, Venn’s husband, is manager at the Woodyard, so should Venn even be investigating this case?

Jen Rafferty, who has demons of her own is dedicated and smart, and Ross, DCI Joe Oldham’s protege, and a bit of a fashionista with an inflated opinion of himself, make up Venn’s team.

The story, definitely not as dark as many of Cleeves works, moves at a steady pace, and is told from the points of view of Matthew, Jen, and the elderly Maurice Braddick who, along with Luce his daughter, are probably my two favourite characters.

The Long Call is very much a character driven murder mystery. The murder investigation is complicated by the abductions of two of the Woodyard’s other clients, one after the other. Are these abductions connected to the murder, or is something else going on in this tight knit community? It was a definite challenge to figure out whodunit and how, and I failed, miserably.

Thank you Ann Cleeves for a new series and another wonderful whodunit. I am looking forward to reading The Heron’s Cry.

# TheLongCall

I: #anncleeves @panmacmillan

T: @AnnCleeves @PanMacmillan

#contemporaryfiction #crime #detectivefiction #murdermystery

THE AUTHOR: Ann grew up in the country, first in Herefordshire, then in North Devon. Her father was a village school teacher. After dropping out of university she took a number of temporary jobs – child care officer, women’s refuge leader, bird observatory cook, auxiliary coastguard – before going back to college and training to be a probation officer.

While she was cooking in the Bird Observatory on Fair Isle, she met her husband Tim, a visiting ornithologist. She was attracted less by the ornithology than the bottle of malt whisky she saw in his rucksack when she showed him his room. Soon after they married, Tim was appointed as warden of Hilbre, a tiny tidal island nature reserve in the Dee Estuary. They were the only residents, there was no mains electricity or water and access to the mainland was at low tide across the shore. If a person’s not heavily into birds – and Ann isn’t – there’s not much to do on Hilbre and that was when she started writing. Her first series of crime novels features the elderly naturalist, George Palmer-Jones. A couple of these books are seriously dreadful.

In 1987 Tim, Ann and their two daughters moved to Northumberland and the north east provides the inspiration for many of her subsequent titles. The girls have both taken up with Geordie lads. In the autumn of 2006, Ann and Tim finally achieved their ambition of moving back to the North East.

DISCLOSURE: I borrowed a copy of The Long Call written by Ann Cleeves and published by Macmillan, 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 Goodreads.com profile page or the about page on sandysbookaday.wordpress.com

For an explanation of my rating system please refer to my Goodreads.com profile page or the about page on 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. ❤📚

Watching What I’m Reading . . .

We’re having another dismal weekend. It’s been damp and foggy. Luke has been with us for the weekend and I think that the weather is even getting him down. He certainly hasn’t been his normal bouncy self. He’s quite happy to snuggle up with a book or Paw Patrol. I hope that he is not coming down with anything else!

I didn’t travel quite so widely with my reading this past week, Nantucket and Maryland in the USA, and London, Devon and the village of Westenbury in England. Have you been anywhere exciting or exotic?

I am currently reading A Family Affair by Julie Houston



And

And I am also reading The Long Call by Ann Cleeves, the first book in the Detective Matthew Venn series, the second of which, A Heron’s Cry, I received last week.

This week I am planning to read Waiting to Begin by Amanda Prowse

1984. Bessie is a confident sixteen-year-old girl with the world at her feet, dreaming of what life will bring and what she’ll bring to this life. Then everything comes crashing down. Her bright and trusting smile is lost, banished by shame—and a secret she’ll carry with her for the rest of her life.

2021. The last thirty-seven years have not been easy for Bess. At fifty-three she is visibly weary, and her marriage to Mario is in tatters. Watching her son in newlywed bliss—the hope, the trust, the joy—Bess knows it is time to face her own demons, and try to save her relationship. But she’ll have to throw off the burden of shame if she is to honour that sixteen-year-old girl whose dreams lie frozen in time.

Can Bess face her past, finally come clean to Mario, and claim the love she has longed to fully experience all these years?

And Fragile by Sarah Hilary

Everything she touches breaks . . .

Nell Ballard is a runaway. A former foster child with a dark secret she is desperate to keep, all Nell wants is to find a place she can belong.

So when a job comes up at Starling Villas, home to the enigmatic Robin Wilder, she seizes the opportunity with both hands.

Only her new lodgings may not be the safe haven that she was hoping for. Her employer lives by a set of rigid rules and she soon sees that he is hiding secrets of his own.

But is Nell’s arrival at the Villas really the coincidence it seems? After all, she knows more than most how fragile people can be – and how easy they can be to break . . .

And I am going to be listening to The Serial Killer’s Wife by Alice Hunter

They’re saying he’s a monster. And they’re saying she knew.

Beth and Tom Hardcastle are the envy of their neighbourhood – they have the perfect marriage, the perfect house, the perfect family.

When the police knock on their door one evening, Beth panics. Tom should be back from work by now – what if he’s crashed his car? She fears the worst.

But the worst is beyond imagining.

As the interrogation begins, Beth will find herself questioning everything she believed about her husband.

They’re husband and wife – till death do them part…

I have five new ARCs this week:

The One to Blame by S.E. Lynes

The Evidence by K.L. Slater

Invisible Victim by Mel Sherratt

The Wedding Night by Harriet Walker

and The Devil’s Choir by Martin Michaud

So, as you can see, my resolve to request less than what I have read didn’t last long, thanks in a large part to Carla of Carlalovestoread.wordpress.com If you haven’t visited her site, pop over and see what she is reading.

Have a great week and happy reading!