Six Stories by Matt Wesolowski


*My thanks, as always, to the legendary Karen Sullivan of Orenda Books for this review copy*

About the book:

1997. Scarclaw Fell. The body of teenager Tom Jeffries is found at an Outward Bound center. Verdict? Misadventure. But not everyone is convinced. And the truth of what happened in the beautiful but eerie fell is locked in the memories of the tight-knit group of friends who embarked on that fateful trip, and the flimsy testimony of those living nearby. 2017. Enter elusive investigative journalist Scott King, whose podcast examinations of complicated cases have rivaled the success of Serial, with his concealed identity making him a cult internet figure. In a series of six interviews, King attempts to work out how the dynamics of a group of idle teenagers conspired with the sinister legends surrounding the fell to result in Jeffries’ mysterious death. As every interview unveils a new revelation, you’ll be forced to work out for yourself how Tom Jeffries died, and who is telling the truth.

Click HERE (you wont be sorry!!!) to preorder your copy!

My thoughts:

Ok so you all know Orenda Books by now, right?! RIGHT?! If not, you should be ashamed. Consistently publishing great books for the past two years, Six Stories is yet another absolutely stellar addition to its catalogue!

I have had my beady eyes on this book since Karen mentioned it months ago, and it so totally and completely lived my expectations. Even though Six Stories is not out until next year, you need to add this to your wish lists YESTERDAY!

Six Stories is so completely modern and relevant which makes it super easy to follow. Following the success and major interest in podcasts such as Serial and This American Life, Six Stories draws its inspiration from the current digital age and relates it back to a two decades old murder in a very inventive and intriguing way.

Can I just take a minute to say, how ominous and creepy does Scarclaw Fell sound?! It conjures up some really dark and twisted imagery, not least with the elegantly crafted descriptions which Matt Wesolowski furnishes the reader with at various points within the novel.

Anyway, back to the story! When Scott King decides to revisit the events that led to the discovery of Tom Jeffries body through six podcast discussions with those that were there in 1997, his quest is not an easy one. What follows is a deep psychological investigation, and the consequences are so completely unexpected.

I turned the pages with trepidation and fear at times. Unsure of what I was going to read. The ominous feeling of dread crept over me more than once during the course of this book. However, it is so gripping and enthralling that I just had to keep reading to see what was going to happen. The anticipation was heightened as the reader is drawn into a spiderweb narrative and it was just the right amount of the unknown.

I can’t talk about Six Stories fully, not without giving away the subtle nuances that Matt Wesolowski has embedded into this chilling novel. Dark, mysterious and definitely not without elements of horror (for me, unseen terror is the WORST!), I was more than a little unsettled while I read it.

Six Stories was so worth the wait. SO WORTH IT! 🙌🏼 A genre-bending book, with some hauntingly threatening prose, I could not put it down. (Except late at night when I got the heebie-jeebies 😂)

Highly recommended!

*Blog Tour* Malcolm Hollingdrake Hell’s Gate

Hi everyone,

Today is my stop on the Hell’s Gate blog tour and I have a great guest post from the author, Malcolm Hollingdrake for you guys! First though, here’s all the bookish info you need…

About the book:

A disused railway tunnel where, cruel and sinister deeds are executed.

A policeman on a mission.

A killer who will stop at nothing.

The formidable DCI Cyril Bennett and DS David Owen of Harrogate Police find themselves embroiled in a series of bizarre events.

A domestic dog attack on a child soon leads to a more complex case – the macabre discovery of a jigsaw of featureless, indiscernible body parts amongst bin bags littering a quiet road on the outskirts of the town.

While under the leadership of a Chinese Mafioso, a team of Eastern Europeans spreads its tentacles into the sordid underworld of people trafficking, dog fighting, prostitution and murder.

Bennett quickly has his hands full investigating a gambling syndicate, the discovery of a mutilated corpse, the death of a prostitute and the case of a badly beaten police officer.

As Bennett and his team are stretched to capacity cracks begin to appear.

Is there a link between these cases and can they catch a twisted killer before he strikes again?

Click HERE to get your copy!

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About the author:

You could say that the writing was clearly written on the wall for anyone born in a library that they might aspire to be an author but to get to that point Malcolm Hollingdrake has travelled a circuitous route.

Malcolm worked in education for many years, even teaching for a period in Cairo before he started writing, a challenge he had longed to tackle for more years than he cares to remember.

Malcolm has written a number of successful short stories and has four books now available. Presently he is concentrating on a series of crime novels set in Harrogate, North Yorkshire.

Born in Bradford and spending three years in Ripon, Malcolm has never lost his love for his home county, a passion that is reflected in the settings for all three novels.

Malcolm has enjoyed many hobbies including collecting works by Northern artists; the art auctions offer a degree of excitement when both buying and certainly when selling. It’s a hobby he has bestowed on DCI Cyril Bennett, the main character in his latest novel.

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Guest post:

I often reflect on those very early writing experiences, some of you, I hope, will recall these yourselves by just rubbing the middle finger of your dominant hand. Can you feel the evidence, that small, hard callous formed by hours of holding the nibbed, wooden shafted school dip pen. Mine for years had the appearance of an angry Ancient Briton, indelibly mottled wode blue.

Handwriting, letter forms, joined-up writing practice, composition, dictation, comprehension – goodness it was a never ending stream that slowly built up that calloused blue mound. But, on reflection it built up something else, something that gestated deep within and that was the artistic love of making a mark, expressing a thought, describing a feeling and conveying emotion in all its facetted forms. The writer was being forged. As time passed and the writing implements improved, some for the better, a love of expressing emotion, detail and story through the written word developed…the foundations were in place. So let’s fast forward.

Ink is not the only fluid that flows through the nib of an author’s pen, there’s a heady fluid cocktail, a subtle blend of hope, ambition, desire and a love, a love to see the work read by as many people as possible. What isn’t included within this special ink formula is luck, liquid serendipity. That can only come later and only to a few.

I had written my first novel, ‘Engulfed’ and had the usual rejections. The old copy was then lost as a laptop died. I’d effectively surrendered along with the technology. The book languished in the garage within the dead laptop for months. Before it was thrown out I plugged it in and lo and behold the computer came to life. I found the novel and transferred it to a new computer just as the old machine crashed for the final time. A stroke of luck! I decided to self publish. A short story competition win gave me the confidence to pick up the pen again; I was back on the writing trail and loving every minute of it. I was now a self-published author!


Make sure to keep up with the blog tour:

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The Book Trail Advent Calendar Day 3…


So I got to chat all things bookish on The Book Trail and it’s up for you all to have a read today! The lovely Steph Rothwell and Liz Barnsley are also on there so definitely worth a read!

http://www.thebooktrail.com/cuppa-and-cake/booktrailadvent-three-brilliant-bloggers/
We answered some Christmas related bookish questions for Susan so you may find some fab recommendations in there for you and yours!

Don’t forget to check out The Book Trail:

http://www.thebooktrail.com
And pop over to Steph and Liz’s blogs too:

https://stephsbookblog.com
http://lizlovesbooks.com

Dead Man’s Prayer by Jackie Baldwin

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*Many thanks to the author for my review copy*

About the book:

Eighteen years ago, DI Frank Farrell turned his back on the church. But when an ex-priest is murdered in his hometown, he has no choice but to delve into his past. Perfect for fans of Stuart MacBride, James Oswald and Val McDermid.

Ex-priest DI Frank Farrell has returned to his roots in Dumfries, only to be landed with a disturbing murder case. Even worse, Farrell knows the victim: Father Boyd, the man who forced him out of the priesthood eighteen years earlier.

With no leads, Farrell must delve into the old priest’s past, one that is inexorably linked with his own. But his attention is diverted when a pair of twin boys go missing. The Dumfries police force recover one in an abandoned church, unharmed. But where is his brother?

As Farrell investigates the two cases, he can’t help but feel targeted. Is someone playing a sinister game, or is he seeing patterns that don’t exist? Either way, it’s a game Farrell needs to win before he loses his grip on his sanity, or someone else turns up dead.

Click HERE to get your copy!

My thoughts:

Dead Man’s Prayer is Jackie Baldwin’s debut novel, which is really hard to believe as it is a very assured and gripping debut novel.

Dead Man’s Prayer  is a crime thriller with as much pace and depth as any of the popular ones out there today. Following DI Frank Farrell as he returns to his home town in the wake of a heinous murder, it takes a dark and sinister turn with the disappearance of twin little boys.

I found myself gripped early on. I really enjoyed the way the author wrote this story, especially as regards the characters she’s created. DI Frank Farrell is a great protagonist, even with his history, it makes him more human. It was really easy to follow the story, and to also empathise with him as he has been on one hell of a journey.

I don’t want to go too much into the plot, for fear of spoiling anything for the readers. I will say that this was a debut I wasn’t expecting, and I was pleasantly surprised by it. A gripping, thrilling and ultimately satisfying book, if you like crime books then Dead Man’s Prayer is definitely one for you!

Recommended!

Previous posts with Jackie Baldwin:

Q&A With Jackie Baldwin

 

 

The Poisoned Rock by Robert Daws *Ellen’s Review*

Hey everyone,

Today Ellen has a fab review for you all for The Poisoned Rock by Robert Daws! Here’s all the bookish info you need…

About the book:

With only five weeks to go before the end of her secondment to the Royal Gibraltar Police Force, D.S. Tamara Sullivan is enjoying life on the Rock. With one murder investigation successfully under their belts, Sullivan and her commanding officer, Chief Inspector Gus Broderick, settle down to regular police work under the sunny Mediterranean skies.

In London, the British Government has declassified a large number of top secret files regarding British Military Intelligence operations during World War Two. One file, concerning espionage operations on Gibraltar, has been smuggled out of the U.K. to Spain. It contains information that will draw Sullivan and Broderick into the dark and treacherous world of wartime Gibraltar. A place where saboteurs and espionage plots abounded. Where double and triple agents from Britain, Germany and Spain were at war in a treacherous and deadly game of undercover operations.

As the summer heat reaches its zenith in Gibraltar Town, a film crew has arrived on the Rock to shoot a movie about one of the most enigmatic and legendary spies of the war years – ‘The Queen of Diamonds’. Starring Hollywood A-lister Julia Novacs and produced by local born film maker, Gabriel Isolde, it is the talk of the Rock.

It is only a matter of time before past and present collide and a dangerous battle begins to conceal the truth about the Rock’s poisonous wartime history. Detectives Sullivan and Broderick become caught in a tangled web of intrigue and murder that will once again test their skills and working relationship to the very limit.

CLICK HERE TO GET YOUR COPY!

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About the author:

Robert Daws is a British theatre and television actor best known for his roles in long running tv series such as the award winning Outside Edge, Jeeves and Wooster, Roger,Roger, The Royal, Rock and Chips, Casualty, Midsomer Murders, Sword of Honour, Take A Girl Like You and most recently, as Dr Thomas Choake in Poldark.

His most recent theatre work includes Michael Frayn’s Alarms and Excursions, The Secret of Sherlock Holmes and Yes Prime Minister in London’s West End.

He has worked extensively for BBC Radio, most notably co-creating the returning police detective series Trueman and Riley with Brian B Thompson.

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Ellen’s review:

Having recently visited Estepona, Marbella and Gibraltar itself, I couldn’t resist the opportunity to review this book. I find the history of Gibraltar fascinating and loved how we had glimpses of the past alongside the present. The author really brought to life the places I have seen (and places I haven’t) and left me yearning for a return visit.

 

Tamara Sullivan is the gutsy young newcomer to the Royal Gibraltar Police Department; prepared to dive in and throw off her Jimmy Choos to chase after the bad guy! Gus Broderick approaches matters in a more sedate manner but the pair certainly make a formidable team. The book is fully of mystery and twists and turns; none of which I guessed until they were revealed.

 

Considering the large and varied cast of characters, I found the story easy to follow and intriguing. I wouldn’t normally be a fan of WW2 inspired books but The Poisoned Rock was so much more than that. The story unfolding from a modern day film set was fantastic and the flashback chapters were just enough to give you a flavour of that time and sense of danger.

 

This is the second book in the series but worked perfectly as a standalone. I will definitely be buying the first (The Rock) and any subsequent books by the author. A solid four stars from me!

November Book Haul

Hi everyone,

It’s time to talk books. As usual, this post is a list of any and all books that I’ve acquired during the last month. Various sources include purchased, Netgalley and downloaded books. It seems these are getting increasingly lower with every passing month, which is not necessarily a bad thing.

So, without further ado, I’ll leave you all with the list and whatever pictures I could lay my hands on…

  1. Rattle by Fiona Cummins
  2. The Pictures by Guy Bolton
  3. Strange Magic by Syd Moore
  4. While You Were Sleeping by Kathryn Croft
  5. Killing Kate by Alex Lake
  6. Isolation by Neil Randall
  7. Fickle by Peter Manus
  8. Lies by TM Logan
  9. Exile by Richard North Patterson
  10. Kill You Twice by Chelsea Cain
  11. Wire in the Blood by Val McDermid
  12. I See You by Gregg Hurwitz
  13. On A Small Island by Grant Nicol
  14. Remote Control by Andy McNabb
  15. Girl Unknown by Karen Perry
  16. Hunted by Elizabeth Heiter
  17. Everyone Lies by AD Garrett
  18. A Long Time Dead by Andrew Barrett
  19. Eleven Days by Stav Sheraz
  20. Pendulum (signed) by Adam Hamdy
  21. Night School by Lee Child
  22. The Whistler by John Grisham
  23. Fantastic Beasts Screenplay by JK Rowling
  24. The River at Night by Erica Ferenick
  25. Then She Was Gone by Luca Veste
  26. Six Stories by Matt Wesolowski
  27. The Diabolic by SJ Kincaid
  28. Everything You Told Me by Lucy Dawson
  29. The Witchfinder’s Sister by Beth Underdown

TWENTY NINE BOOKS!!! That’s the lowest it’s been in a long time, but this reading slump hasn’t helped much I guess!

Have you got any of these? Or read any of them? Do let me know in the comments below…

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The Diabolic from Illumicrate!

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*First Monday Crime* Spotlight on Alex Marwood

Hi everyone,

Next Monday (December 5th), Goldsboro Books First Monday Crime *Christmas Cracker* is taking place in Browns – The Judges Court from 6.30 to 8.30 in the evening. The line up includes Mark “Dasher” Billingham, Yrsa “Dancer” Sigurdardottir, Alex “Prancer” Marwood, Paula “Vixen” Daly, Daniel “Donner” Pembrey and Corrie “Blitzen” Jackson are going to be in harness and event chair, Barry “Bad Santa” Forshaw at the helm of this sleighful of authors!

Tickets to see Bad Santa and his criminally good reindeer are available, as always, from Goldsboro Books for £7. At the time of writing this, the tickets are sold out but you can click HERE to find all the relevant information!

I’m shining the spotlight in “Prancer” aka Alex Marwood today and re-sharing my review for The Darkest Secret which I reviewed way back in January!

About the book:
When three-year-old identical twin Coco goes missing during a family celebration, there is a media frenzy. Her parents are rich and influential, as are the friends they were with at their holiday home by the sea.
But what really happened to Coco during her father’s 50th birthday weekend?

Set across two weekends – the first when Coco goes missing and the second, at the funeral of Coco’s father, where at last, the darkest of secrets will be revealed…

Click HERE

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About the author:

Alex Marwood is the pseudonym of a journalist who has worked extensively across the British press. She is the author of the word-of-mouth sensation The Wicked Girls, which won a prestigious Edgar Award and The Killer Next Door, which won the coveted Macavity Award. She has also been shortlisted for numerous other crime writing awards and her first two novels have been optioned for the screen. Alex lives in south London.

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My thoughts:

I don’t know where to start with this review. First off, I read this book in about four sittings over two days, which in itself is a good sign. I just feel a little unsure about it though.

It took me a while to get into the authors style of writing, as well as the chronology as it switched between characters and years which was confusing to me for the first quarter of the book.

The characters in The Darkest Secret are some of the most hate-inducing people I’ve read about in a while. Egotistical, narcissistic and scathing are just some of the words I would use to describe them. The only characters I actually felt any emotion for were Camilla and Ruby, two of Sean’s daughters. Sean being Coco’s dad and Ruby being her twin sister. Mila is one of his daughters from a previous marriage.

By telling the story of Coco’s disappearance, and Sean’s death years later, in alternating chapters, the reader gets to see the characters better and gauge how they have changed over the years.

This review is a bit disjointed as I don’t want to go into any detail about the plot. It’s hard to get some of my points across without revealing things the author skilfully reveals in the course of the novel.

The way Marwood has written this book, it unfurls slowly, like an animal stalking prey. It is definitely a great book, there’s no denying that fact. It left me feeling uncomfortable, angry, shocked and saddened in equal measure. Not many books evoke these sorts of feelings in me, I think that’s why I find this review hard to write. There’s a lot I want to say, but I can’t without spoiling some of the twists and turns.

Sufficed to say, Alex Marwood has the perfectly crafted novel, despicable characters written alongside innocent children, and the events that bring their worlds crumbling down around them.