~Blog Tour~ Rocco and The Nightingale by Adrian Magson

Hi guys,

Today I’m delighted to be taking part on the blog tour for Rocco and The Nightingale by Adrian Magson. I’ll be sharing my review as well as a Q&A that I got to do with Adrian as well!

About the book:

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When a minor Paris criminal is found stabbed in the neck on a country lane in Picardie it looks like another case for Inspector Lucas Rocco. But instead he is called off to watch over a Gabonese government minister, hiding out in France following a coup. Meanwhile, Rocco discovers that there is a contract on his head taken out by an Algerian gang leader with a personal grudge against him.

Published by The Dome Press, you can order your copy HERE!

About the author:

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Hailed by the Daily Mail as “a classic crime star in the making”, Adrian Magson’s next book is Rocco and the Nightingale (The Dome Press – October 2017). This is the fifth in the Inspector Lucas Rocco series set in France in the 1960s.

Before this, Adrian had written 21 crime and spy thriller books built around Gavin & Palmer (investigative reporter Riley Gavin and ex-Military Policeman Frank Palmer) – “Gritty and fast-paced detecting of the traditional kind, with a welcome injection of realism” (The Guardian); Harry Tate, ex-soldier and MI5 officer – “fast-paced, with more twists and turns than a high-octane roller coaster” (New York Journal of Books); Inspector Lucas Rocco (crime series set in 1960s Picardie) – “Deserves to be ranked with the best” (Daily Mail), “Captures perfectly the rural atmosphere of France… a brilliant debut” (Books Monthly); Marc Portman (The Watchman) – prompting one reviewer to write: “the most explosive opening chapters I have read in a long time. Give this man a Bond script to play with!”; investigators Ruth Gonzales and Andy Vaslik – “Magson takes the suburban thriller overseas and gives it a good twist. [Readers] will happily get lost in the nightmare presented here” (Booklist Reviews).

Adrian also has hundreds of short stories and articles in national and international magazines to his name, plus a non-fiction work: Write On! – The Writer’s Help Book (Accent Press).

Adrian lives in the Forest of Dean and rumours that he is building a nuclear bunker are unfounded. It is a bird table.

@AdrianMagson1

http://www.adrianmagson.com

​http://adrianmagson.blogspot.co.uk/

My thoughts:

I was looking forward to reading Rocco and The Nightingale as Adrian Magson is a new-to-me author and I do love a series. It is safe to say I wasn’t disappointed with it, as I couldn’t put it down once I started.

Rocco is a really genuine character, and I didn’t feel like I was missing any back story by not having read the previous books. In “The Nightingale”, Rocco assumes he will be investigating the death of a criminal from Paris, but instead he is tasked with watching a Gabonese government minister who is hiding out in France. This leads the reader, and Rocco, to question why exactly he was taken of the first case in lieu of babysitting a minister.

Along with this, Rocco discovers that someone has put a hit out on him. With his life in danger, its safe to say he is in a bit of trouble. To make life harder for himself, he continues to investigate the murder, and he has to deal with the consequences and the fallout from that!

I don’t want to say much more about the plot, but it is definitely a gripping story. I really liked Rocco as a character and the various story arcs made for some great change of pace throughout the book. I will most certainly be adding more Rocco books to my TBR after reading this one!

Recommended!

Interview:

Can you tell us a little about yourself?
I’m married, to Ann, am a full-time writer of crime novels and spy thrillers (22 published to date) and live in Gloucestershire.

How did you get into writing? Is it something you’ve always wanted to do?
Absolutely. I got hooked on books at the age of 8, starting with crime novels and westerns, and decided then that it must be a great way to earn a living, being paid to tell stories. It took me many years to do it, but I began by selling lots of short fiction for women’s magazines, then features and a few other things in between, and finally made the jump to books, which was where I’d been aiming all along. And I’m still learning.

Where do you get your inspiration from?
I wish I knew for sure. Sometimes it can be something in the news, or an idea prompted by something I’ve read. Other times an idea comes out of nowhere, although clearly there has to have been some kind of prompt. Because I write series, though, using the same main characters and settings (as with Detective Inspector Lucas Rocco in the French police in this case), I do tend to look for specific areas to write about within that frame. With the Rocco series, I start off looking at events in French history during the 1960s to see if there’s anything to bounce off. In previous books this meant echoes of WW2 and France’s war in Indochina, the effects of Algerian Independence, assassination attempts on President de Gaulle. That might all sound rather heavy and historic, but it’s really not, as I use them only as a backdrop to a plot, helping me put the story together.

How would you describe your writing to anyone who hasn’t read your book?
I hope, easy to read, entertaining, with plenty of pace, interesting characters and settings. I also try to inject some humour where I can (although not always possible in spy thrillers). I like to think readers will be satisfied at the end of the book and want to come back for more.

Do you think social media helps in regard to promotion and drumming up publicity for a new book?
It certainly seems to help at the moment, I think, and thank goodness. Publishers these days do not or cannot do a full job of marketing or selling on all books, and there’s no other way of getting exposure short of getting some prominent press reviews or being in the news. As an author, trying to get your book into bookshops is extremely tough because of the competition and pricing, over which we have no control, and every minute you spend on marketing is another minute away from your main job of writing.

What’s your most favourite thing about being an author?
Well, seeing the finished published book has to be way up there – always a huge buzz, because it means you’ve done it and all that hard work has come to fruition. Writers live to write but we also want to get our work out there. But for me it’s beginning another book, because that’s exciting on a different level, involving research, creating characters, events and plot twists and turns. And I can’t ignore the enormous buzz when someone tells you out of the blue that they’ve enjoyed your book. That’s huge and very uplifting.

What’s your least favourite thing about being an author?
We all get indifferent or poor reviews, which can be depressing. But you have to learn to accept them because not everyone likes the same kind of book. Editing can be rewarding on one level, but a painful chore you have to deal with, when you’ve read the book through several times and find yet another typo! There’s also the not enough time in the day problem, which can be frustrating when you just want to write another scene… !

Where do you see your writing career 5 years from now?
Hopefully, no different in writing terms from now, because that’s what it boils down to – being a full-time writer. On a purely base level, there’s always the hope that sales will increase, a fabulous tv or film deal will come along and I’ll be rich and famous!

What’s next for you?
I’m currently editing a standalone book, which is nearly done, and have another Rocco book bubbling away. But I’ve also got another spy thriller in the Harry Tate series in mind. All this means I just have to go without sleep or food for about 6 months and I’ll get it done!

I often wonder are authors voracious readers. Do you read much, and if so, what kind of books do you enjoy?
I love books and always have. I read crime and spy thrillers, an occasional biography, but I’m probably less adventurous than I should be when it comes to broad reading. My problem with reading books in my own genres, be it spy or crime, can sometimes fill my head with the wrong kind of voice, which is off-putting. So occasionally I avoid them until I’ve finished writing.

Can you tell me your all time favourite book, or if you have to, your top 5?
Not so much books, but authors, definitely. In no particular order or genre, Leslie Thomas, Bill Bryson, John Sandford, Robert Crais. Thomas Enger, too.

 

Has there been any books you’ve read that you wish you had written?
I don’t think so. I admire lots of books by different authors, but on a professional level I have to keep coming up with my own ideas – and to be pleased with them.

When you’re not writing, how do you spend your time?
Watching too much television and DVDs, doing DIY, walking, being with Ann.

Have you any hobbies that aren’t book-related?
Woodwork, I think. I like to make stuff, although nothing too fancy. It’s the physical focus which takes me right out of writing for a while. Then I’ll start thinking about a plot point and I have to down tools and go make some notes.

What’s your favourite holiday destination?
Best remembered, the Maldives. Superb. Paris and New York, of course. But I like to try different places. Otherwise, anywhere with a beach and/or some good places to eat. And home.

Favourite food?
Ann’s chorizo pizza – my weekly treat. Curries, a good burger or an egg-and-bacon sarnie.
Not necessarily together.

Favourite drink?
Vodka and tonic. Or a nice glass of Merlot. Depends on the weather.

 

Last but not least, why writing? Why not something else?
Because I never really wanted to do anything else. I’ve done other things, worked in the corporate sector, but they never quite cut it for me… or maybe I was never really good enough at them. I’m shamelessly shallow.

 

Follow the blog tour:

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~Blog Tour Ellen’s Review~ Snare by Lilja Sigurdardóttir

Hi all,

Today is Ellen’s stop on the blog tour for Snare by Lilja Sigurdardóttir, and I get to share her review with you all!

About the book:

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After a messy divorce, attractive young mother Sonia is struggling to provide for herself and keep custody of her son. With her back to the wall, she resorts to smuggling cocaine into Iceland, and finds herself caught up in a ruthless criminal world. As she desperately looks for a way out of trouble, she must pit her wits against her nemesis, Bragi, a customs officer, whose years of experience frustrate her new and evermore daring strategies. Things become even more complicated when Sonia embarks on a relationship with a woman, Agla. Once a high-level bank executive, Agla is currently being prosecuted in the aftermath of the Icelandic financial crash. Set in a Reykjavík still covered in the dust of the Eyjafjallajökull volcanic eruption, and with a dark, fast-paced and chilling plot and intriguing characters, Snare is an outstandingly original and sexy Nordic crime thriller, from one of the most exciting new names in crime fiction.

Published by Orenda Books, click HERE to get your copy!

About the author:

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Icelandic crime-writer Lilja Sigurdardóttir was born in the town of Akranes in 1972 and raised in Mexico, Sweden, Spain and Iceland. An award-winning playwright, Lilja has written four crime novels, with Snare, the first in a new series, hitting bestseller lists worldwide. The film rights have been bought by Palomar Pictures in California. Lilja has a background in education and has worked in evaluation and quality control for preschools in recent years. She lives in Reykjavík with her partner.

Ellen’s Review:

 If you had told me before I started this book that I’d be rooting for the drug smuggling protagonist Sonia all the way through, I don’t think I would have believed you. They’re the root of all evil right? The heart of the problem? Yet in Snare, Lilja Sigurdardottir has achieved this. Sonia is such a rounded, likeable character and is doing what she does out of desperation and for the love of her son Tomas. That she has the drug smuggling down to such a fine art was fascinating to read; my heart was pounding every time that she went through customs yet her icy cool professionalism kept coming up trumps.
 
I also loved Bragi, the customs officer who observes Sonia’s frequent travels and begins to get suspicious of her actions. Another character trapped by his life and trying to make the best of things; close to retirement and with his beloved wife in a care home he is determined to solve this particular case. It’s very unusual for me to be rooting for both sides of the criminal fence to succeed in some way!!
 
If there was a person I wasn’t that enamoured of it would have to be Agla, Sonia’s love interest and her ex-husband’s colleague. She is being investigated for fraud following the Icelandic bank crash, on top of that she is struggling with her feelings for Sonia and even in denial about them. I found her to be selfish, spoilt and manipulative. Perhaps this will be resolved in the next book; will she overcome her personal demons?
 
All in all an enjoyable read and I was pleased to discover it is the first in a trilogy as I want to know what is next for everyone. This book would make a fantastic film/TV series and I love the cover. Go dip your toes in the icy waters of Nordic Noir – you won’t be disappointed!

 

Follow the blog tour:

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~Blog Blitz~ Her Last Secret by Barbara Copperthwaite~ Ellen’s Review

Hi everyone,

It’s Ellen’s turn on the blog tour for Barbara Copperthwaite’s Her Last Secret today, and I get to share her review with you all!

About the book:

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Some secrets you can never tell.

Everyone thinks the Thomases are the perfect family: grand London house, gorgeous kids.

They don’t know wife Dominique is a paranoid wreck.

They don’t know husband Ben is trapped in a web of deceit.

They don’t know daughter Ruby lives in fear of the next abusive text.

But someone knows all their secrets.

Can the lies that bind them destroy them all?

This dark, gripping psychological thriller will have you holding your breath until the very last page. Fans of Behind Closed Doors, Gone Girl, and The Girl on the Train will be captivated.

 

Published TODAY by Bookouture, you can get your copy by clicking the links below:

UK 🇬🇧 http://amzn.to/2eOtJtF US 🇺🇸 http://amzn.to/2jhcE0G

 

About the author:

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What people say about Barbara’s books:“Will have you looking over your shoulder and under your bed… Original, gripping, with a deep psychological impact,” Sunday Mirror “Enthralling, tense and moving,” Real People magazine “Totally gripping, and scarily believable,” Bella magazineBarbara is the author of psychological thrillers INVISIBLE and FLOWERS FOR THE DEAD. Both have been Amazon best sellers. She is also the author of THE DARKEST LIES, and her latest book HER LAST SECRET is out on 13 October.Much of her success is thanks to her twenty-odd years’ experience as a national newspaper and magazine journalist. She’s interviewed the real victims of crime – and also those who have carried those crimes out. Thanks to people sharing their stories with her, she knows a lot about the emotional impact of violence and wrong-doing. That’s why her novels are dark, realistic and tackle not just the crime but its repercussions.When not writing feverishly, she is often found hiding behind a camera, taking wildlife photographs. 

 

Author links:

Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/AuthorBarbaraCopperthwaite

Twitter: https://twitter.com/BCopperthwait

Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/author_barbara_copperthwaite/

Website: http://www.barbaracopperthwaite.com

 

Ellen’s review:

 

Where do I start in my review for this book……? How about OMFG this is Barbara Copperthwaite’s best book yet!!?? I am a massive fan of Barbara’s books and there is always that fear that you are not going to enjoy your favourite authors latest work but have no fear; Her Last Secret just blew everything else out of the water. Seriously. This book had me on edge early doors and that creeping feeling of dread just kept growing and growing. I was so overwhelmed at one point that I almost did a Joey and put my kindle in the freezer; my poor nerves were shattered.

Her Last Secret has the perfect ingredients of a recipe for disaster; a rebellious hate fuelled teenager, a trophy wife teetering on the edge, a husband desperate to keep up appearances and a mistress determined to get her man by whatever means. The final touch is beautiful, quiet little Mouse (Amber), named as such because of her demeanour. Having two daughters of my own my heart was in my mouth waiting to discover what would be revealed. As the story flits between the discovery of a crime scene and the days leading up to it we are teased with clues and details that reveal not everything is as it seems.

No spoilers here just go buy it, read it, love it! This book gets ALL the stars from me!

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~Blog Tour~ Anything You Do Say by Gillian McAllister~ Ellen’s Review

Hi guys,

Today is Ellen’s stop on the blog tour for Gillian McAllister’s latest book, Anything You Do Say, and I’m delighted to be able to share her review with you all!

About the book:

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Joanna is an avoider. So far she has spent her adult life hiding bank statements and changing career aspirations weekly.

But then one night Joanna hears footsteps on the way home. Is she being followed? She is sure it’s him; the man from the bar who wouldn’t leave her alone. Hearing the steps speed up Joanna turns and pushes with all of her might, sending her pursuer tumbling down the steps and lying motionless on the floor.

Now Joanna has to do the thing she hates most – make a decision. Fight or flight? Truth or lie? Right or wrong?

Published by Penguin on October 19th, you can pre-order your copy HERE!

About the author:

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Gillian McAllister graduated with an English degree in 2006 and is now a lawyer with a large law firm.

Her blog has been featured in various publications including Company magazine. You can find it at www.gillianmcallister.com

She lives in Birmingham with her boyfriend and cat.

Ellen’s review:

I absolutely loved this book; a mash up of Sliding Doors and The Night Of.

 

Joanna Oliva is heading home from a night out with her best friend when she believes she is being followed by a man who was bothering her earlier in the night. Convinced she is going to be attacked she pushes him away and he is left injured and unconscious. At this point the story splits into Conceal (where Joanna leaves the man and the lies begin) and Reveal (where she comes to his aid, calls an ambulance and must deal with the repercussions of her actions).

 

I was gripped from the beginning and could not put it down; it was fascinating to see the differences in Joanna’s relationships with friends and colleagues in each time slip. A book I would happily read again and I can’t wait for Gillian’s next!!

#allthestars for this one.

 

Keep up with the blog tour:

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~Blog Tour~ Maria In The Moon by Louise Beech~ Ellen’s Review

Hi everyone,

Today is Ellen’s stop on the blog tour for Maria In The Moon by Louise Beech and she has written a BRILLIANT review for me to share with you guys!

About the book:

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Thirty-two-year-old Catherine Hope has a great memory. But she can’t remember everything. She can’t remember her ninth year. She can’t remember when her insomnia started. And she can’t remember why everyone stopped calling her Catherine-Maria.

With a promiscuous past, and licking her wounds after a painful breakup, Catherine wonders why she resists anything approaching real love. But when she loses her home to the devastating deluge of 2007 and volunteers at Flood Crisis, a devastating memory emerges… and changes everything.

Dark, poignant and deeply moving, Maria in the Moon is an examination of the nature of memory and truth, and the defences we build to protect ourselves, when we can no longer hide…

Published by Orenda Books and out NOW, click HERE to get your copy!

About the author:

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Louise Beech is an exceptional literary talent, whose debut novel How To Be Brave was a Guardian Readers’ Choice for 2015. The sequel, The Mountain in My Shoe was shortlisted for Not the Booker Prize. Both books have been number one on Kindle, Audible and Kobo in USA/UK/AU. She regularly writes travel pieces for the Hull Daily Mail, where she was a columnist for ten years. Her short fiction has won the Glass Woman Prize, the Eric Hoffer Award for Prose, and the Aesthetica Creative Works competition, as well as shortlisting for the Bridport Prize twice and being published in a variety of UK magazines. Louise lives with her husband and children on the outskirts of Hull – the UK’s 2017 City of Culture – and loves her job as a Front of House Usher at Hull Truck Theatre, where her first play was performed in 2012. She is also part of the Mums’ Army on Lizzie and Carl’s BBC Radio Humberside Breakfast Show.

Ellen’s review:

I was thrilled to be asked to be part of this blog tour as I have loved all Louise’s previous books and once again she refuses to conform to any genre which is part of my attraction to her work. That you can never quite put your finger on how her book will make you feel is part of the thrill of reading them.

 

Maria in the Moon is heart breaking, funny and heart lifting with an undercurrent of inky darkness. Where else would you findall the emotions in one place? I don’t want to give too much away so I’ll concentrate on how the book made me feel. Catherine (previously Catherine-Maria as a child and also Katerina in her role as flood crisis volunteer) Hope is such a divisive character but I loved her. Yes she is rude, sarcastic and downright difficult at times but that made me laugh especially the interactions between her and her step mother.

 

She made me curious, why was she like this? Why couldn’t she remember her ninth year? To have experienced such losses with the death of her mother, beloved father and precious Nanny Eve must have shaped her. Some things happen in life that break you and you are then left to build a wall to defend yourself from being hurt again, emotionally or physically. Catherine is a wall; her bricks are made of compassion, understanding, forgiveness and that wicked streak that runs through her. As the truth of her forgotten year begins to break through her mental defences we worry that she will never recover and heal.

 

I’ve come to the conclusion that Louise Beech is a kind of Voldemort of good, a Voldamour perhaps. She puts a piece of her soul into all she writes and breaks my heart each time. Her books are the Horcrux in which she will attain immortality as an amazing wordsmith!*

*My absolute favourite description I’ve seen in a review, ever!!!- Kate

Make sure to check out the other fab blogs on the tour:

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~Blog Tour Ellen’s Review~ The Kindred Killers by Graham Smith @GrahamSmith1972 @Bloodhoundbook

Hi everyone,

Today is Ellen’s turn to take part in the blog tour for The Kindred Killers, and I’ll be sharing her review with you in a bit, but here’s the all-important bookish information first!

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About the book:

Jake Boulder’s help is requested by his best friend, Alfonse, when his cousin is crucified and burned alive along with his wife and children. As Boulder tries to track the heinous killer, a young woman is abducted. Soon her body is discovered and Boulder realises both murders have something unusual in common.

With virtually no leads for Boulder to follow, he strives to find a way to get a clue as to the killer’s identity. But is he hunting for one killer or more?

After a young couple are snatched in the middle of the night the case takes a brutal turn. When the FBI are invited to help with the case, Boulder finds himself warned off the investigation. When gruesome, and incendiary, footage from a mobile phone is sent to all the major US News outlets and the pressure to find those responsible for the crimes mounts. But with the authorities against him can Boulder catch the killer before it’s too late?

Get your copy HERE!

About the author:

A time served joiner Graham has built bridges, houses, dug drains and slated roofs to make ends meet. Since Christmas 2000 he has been manager of a busy hotel and wedding venue near Gretna Green, Scotland.

An avid fan of crime fiction since being given one of Enid Blyton’s Famous Five books at the age of eight, he has also been a regular reviewer and interviewer for the well-respected website Crimesquad.com since 2009

He is the author of four books featuring DI Harry Evans and the Cumbrian Major Crimes Team and now two books in the crime series featuring Utah doorman, Jake Boulder.

Links:

https://www.facebook.com/grahamnsmithauthor/?fref=ts

https://www.grahamsmithauthor.com/

https://twitter.com/GrahamSmith1972?lang=en-gb

https://www.amazon.co.uk/Graham-Smith/e/B006FTIBBU/ref=sr_ntt_srch_lnk_1?qid=1491159376&sr=8-1

Ellen’s Review:

Watching the Bodies was one of my top reads of 2017 so I jumped at the chance to review the next in this new series from Graham Smith! It was fantastic to get reacquainted with Jake Boulder and his particular brand of law enforcement.

Jake is really pushed to the limits this time when he is involved in a spate of what appear to be hate crimes in his hometown. The first of these are close to home as the victims are relatives of Alfonse; Jake’s friend and sometime business partner. Now I’m a pretty hard-core reader when it comes to gruesome deaths and torture but even my stomach of steel rolled at some of the murder methods described. It was a difficult read in places but only highlighted what is sadly occurring in the world right now to some extent and I think we all need a dose of reality with our fiction to keep it current.

 

In The Kindred Killers we get a little more understanding of how Jake is made up thanks to his psychologist Dr Edwards; I loved their relationship and how Dr Edwards traded his insight on the case with Jake in return for answers on his personal issues. It was also nice to see Jake finally (possibly,maybe!?) settling down with someone, much to the chagrin of book bloggers around the world who hold him dear as their fictional love interest!

 

Although this is the second in the series it could be read as a standalone but why deny yourself the joy of Jake!? Five shiny stars from me and I look forward to the next!

Make sure to catch up with the blog tour:

BLOG TOUR (3)

An extract from The Scarred Woman by Jussi Adler-Olsen

Hi everyone,

Today is publication day for Jussi Adler-Olsen’s The Scarred Woman and I’m delighted to be able to share an excerpt with you all. First though, here’s the all-important bookish information!

About the book:

 

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The New York Times and #1 internationally bestselling author of The Keeper of Lost Causes delivers his most captivating and suspenseful Department Q novel yet—perfect for fans of Stieg Larsson. 
 
Detective Carl Mørck of Department Q, Copenhagen’s cold cases division, meets his toughest challenge yet when the dark, troubled past of one of his own team members collides with a sinister unsolved murder.

In a Copenhagen park the body of an elderly woman is discovered. The case bears a striking resemblance to another unsolved homicide investigation from over a decade ago, but the connection between the two victims confounds the police. Across town a group of young women are being hunted. The attacks seem random, but could these brutal acts of violence be related? Detective Carl Mørck of Department Q is charged with solving the mystery.
 
Back at headquarters, Carl and his team are under pressure to deliver results: failure to meet his superiors’ expectations will mean the end of Department Q. Solving the case, however, is not their only concern. After an earlier breakdown, their colleague Rose is still struggling to deal with the reemergence of her past—a past in which a terrible crime may have been committed. It is up to Carl, Assad, and Gordon to uncover the dark and violent truth at the heart of Rose’s childhood before it is too late.

You can grab your copy by clicking HERE!

About the author:

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Jussi Adler-Olsen is Denmark’s #1 crime writer and a New York Times bestselling author. His books, including the Department Q series, routinely top the bestseller lists in Europe and have sold more than fifteen million copies around the world. His many prestigious Nordic crime-writing awards include the Glass Key Award, also won by Henning Mankell, Jo Nesbø, Stieg Larsson, and Peter Høeg.

 

Excerpt:

1
Tuesday, April 26th, 2016

As always, her face bore traces of the night before. Her skin was dry,
and the dark circles under her eyes were more pronounced than they’d
been when she went to bed.
Denise sneered at her reflection in the mirror. She had now spent
an hour on damage control, but it was never good enough.
“You look and smell like a hooker,” she said, mimicking her grandmother’s
voice as she applied her eyeliner one more time.
In the studio apartments around her, the noise signaled that the
other tenants were waking up and that it would soon be evening
again. It was a well-known cacophony of sounds: the chinking of bottles,
the knocking on doors to bum cigarettes, and the constant traffic
to and from the run- down toilet with shower that the contract described
as exclusive.
The small society of Danish outcasts from one of the darker streets
of Frederiksstaden was now set in motion for yet another evening
with no real purpose.
After turning around a few times, she stepped toward the mirror
to inspect her face close-up.
“Mirror, mirror, on the wall, who’s the fairest of them all?” She
laughed with an indulgent smile as she caressed her reflection with her
fingertips. She puckered her lips, let her fingers slide up her hips, over
her breasts, up to her neck, and into her hair. She picked some fluff
from her angora blouse and dabbed a little foundation on a couple of
insufficiently covered blemishes on her face before stepping back with
satisfaction. Her plucked and painted eyebrows, together with
NeuLash- enhanced eyelashes, added to her overall appearance. The
makeup, paired with the glow of her irises, gave her a more intense
look, adding with ease an extra element of aloofness.
In other words, she was ready to take on the world.
“I’m Denise,” she practiced saying, tensing her throat. It was as
deep as her voice could be.
“Denise,” she whispered, slowly parting her lips and letting her
chin drop toward her chest. The result was fantastic when she adopted
this attitude. Some might interpret her look as submissive, but it was
exactly the opposite. Wasn’t it precisely at this angle that the
hotspots—a woman’s eyelashes and pupils—best caught the attention
of those around her?
Totally in control. She nodded, screwing the lid of her face cream
back on and piling her arsenal of cosmetics back in the bathroom
cabinet.
After a quick look around the small room she realized that hours
of hard work lay ahead of her: clearing away the laundry, making the
bed, washing all the glasses, taking out the trash, and sorting all the
bottles.
Fuck it, she thought, grabbing the duvet and shaking it and plumping
the pillow, convincing herself that when one of her sugar daddies
had made it this far, he wouldn’t give a damn about the rest.
She sat on the edge of the bed and checked that her handbag had
all the essentials she would need.
She nodded with satisfaction. She was ready to take on the world
and all its desires.
An unwelcome sound made her turn to face the door. Click, clack,
click, clack, came the limping, loathsome sound.
You’re far too early, Mother, she thought as the door outside between
the stairs and the corridor was pushed open.
It was almost eight o’clock, so why was she coming now? It was
way past her dinnertime.
She counted the seconds, already feeling irritated as she got up
from the bed, when the knock came at the door.
“Honey!” she heard her mother shouting from the other side.
“Won’t you open the door?” Denise took deep breaths, remaining silent.
If she didn’t answer, her mother would surely just go.
“Denise, I know you’re in there. Open up just for a moment. I have
something important to tell you.”
Denise sighed. “And why should I do that? I don’t suppose you
brought any dinner up with you?” she shouted.
“Not today, no. Oh, won’t you come downstairs to eat, Denise? Just
for today. Your grandmother is here!”
Denise rolled her eyes. So her grandmother was downstairs. The
mere thought was enough to make her heart race and cause her to
break out in a sweat.
“Grandmother can kiss my ass. I hate that bitch.”
“Oh, Denise, you mustn’t talk like that. Won’t you just let me in for
a moment? I really must speak with you.”
“Not now. Just leave the dinner in front of the door, as usual.”
Apart from the man with the flabby skin who lived a few doors down
the corridor, who had already downed his first beer of the day and
was now sobbing in despair over his miserable existence, it was suddenly
totally quiet out in the corridor. It wouldn’t surprise her if
everyone was pricking up their ears right at this moment, but what
did she care? They could just ignore her mother like she did.
Denise filtered out the sound of her mother’s pleas, concentrating
instead on the whining coming from the loser down the hall. All the
divorced men like him living in studio apartments were just so pathetic
and laughable. How could they believe the future might be
brighter given how they looked? They stank of unwashed clothes and
drank themselves into oblivion in their pitiful loneliness. How could
these cringeworthy idiots live with being so pathetic?
Denise snorted. How often had they stood in front of her door in
an effort to tempt her with their small talk and cheap wine from Aldi,
their eyes betraying hope of something else and more?

As if she would ever associate with men who lived in studio
apartments.
“She’s brought money with her for us, Denise,” her mother said
insistently.
Now she had Denise’s attention.
“You simply have to come down with me because if you don’t she
won’t give us anything for this month.”
There was a pause before she spoke again.
“And then we really won’t have anything, will we, Denise?” she
said severely.
“Can’t you shout a little louder so they can also hear you in the
next building?” Denise retorted.
“Denise!” Her mother’s voice was now quivering. “I’m warning
you. If your grandmother doesn’t give us that money, you’ll have to
go to the social services office because I haven’t paid your rent for this
month. Or maybe you thought I had?”
Denise took a deep breath, went over to the mirror, and put on her
lipstick one final time. Ten minutes with the woman and then she was
out of there. She had nothing but shit and confrontation coming her
way. The bitch wouldn’t leave her in peace for a second. She would
just come with demand after demand. And if there was something
Denise couldn’t deal with, it was all the demands people put on her. It
simply drained all the life and energy out of her.
It depleted her.
Down on the first floor in her mother’s apartment there was a not unexpected
stench of tinned mock turtle soup. Once in a while it might
be cutlets only just past their sell-by date or rice pudding in sausageshaped
plastic packaging. There wasn’t exactly entrecôte on the menu
when her mother attempted to put out a spread, which the blemished
silver-plated candlesticks with spluttering candles emphasized.
In this flickering artificial ambience the vulture was already seated
at the center of the table, scowling and ready to attack. Denise was
almost knocked out from the stench of her cheap perfume and powder,
which no shop with any self-respect would demean itself to sell.
Now her grandmother parted her dry, red, blotchy lips. Maybe the
vulture was preparing to smile, but Denise was not so easily fooled.
She attempted to count to ten but this time made it to only three before
the woman’s verbal abuse began.
“Well! The little princess could finally find time to come down and
say hello.”
A dark and disapproving look came over the grandmother’s face
after a quick inspection of Denise’s seminude midriff.
“Already plastered with makeup and I don’t know what. No one
will miss you coming, because that really would be a catastrophe,
wouldn’t it, Dorrit?”
“Would you stop calling me that? It’s almost ten years since I
changed my name.”
“Since you ask so politely, yes, as it isn’t something one is accustomed
to from you. Then you think that name becomes you better, do
you . . . Denise? A little more French. It almost puts one in mind of
the suggestively dressed ladies of the night, so, yes, maybe it is more
fitting.” She looked her up and down. “Then congratulations with the
camouflage work, is all I can say. You’ve prepared yourself for the
hunt, I wouldn’t wonder.”
Denise noticed how her mother tried to calm the mood with a slight
touch of her hand on her grandmother’s arm, as if that had ever
worked. Even in that area her mother had always been weak.
“And what have you been up to, if one might inquire?” continued
her grandmother. “There was something about a new course, or was
it actually an internship?” She squinted. “Was it a job as a nail technician
you wanted to try this time? I almost can’t keep up with all the
excitement in your life, so you’ll have to help me. But wait, maybe
you’re not actually doing anything at the moment? Could that be it?”
Denise didn’t answer. She just tried to keep her lips sealed. Her
grandmother raised her eyebrows. “Oh yes, you’re much too precious
for work, aren’t you?”

Why did she bother asking when she had all the answers? Why was
she sitting there hiding behind her wiry grey hair in a mask of disgust?
It made you want to spit at her. What stopped her from doing it?
“Denise has decided to enroll in a course to learn how to coach
people,” interjected her mother bravely.
The metamorphosis was enormous. Her grandmother’s mouth was
open, aghast; the wrinkles on her nose disappeared; and after a short
pause the change was accompanied by a laugh that came so deep from
within her rotten core that it made the hair on Denise’s neck stand
on end.
“Oh, that’s what she’s decided, is it? An interesting thought, Denise
coaching other people. Just in what, exactly, if I might inquire? Is it
actually possible to find anyone in this disturbed world who would
want to be coached by someone who can do absolutely nothing besides
dolling themselves up? In that case, the world must have come
to a complete standstill.”
“Mother—” Denise’s mother attempted to interrupt.
“Be quiet, Birgit. Let me finish.” She turned toward Denise. “I will
be direct. I don’t know anyone as lazy, talentless, or with so little sense
of reality as you, Denise. Shall we agree that you actually can’t do anything?
Isn’t it high time that you tried to get a job to fit your modest
talents?” She waited for an answer, but none was forthcoming. She
shook her head, leaving Denise in no doubt as to what was coming next.
“I have said it before and I have warned you, Denise. Maybe you
think it is acceptable to just lie on your back? It’s downright shocking.
You’re not as beautiful as you think, my dear, and certainly won’t be
in five years, I’m afraid.”
Denise inhaled deeply through her nose. Two more minutes and
she’d be out of here.
Now her grandmother turned to her mother with the same cold,
contemptuous expression. “You were the same, Birgit. Thought only of
yourself, never doing anything to get on in life. What would you have
done without your father and me? If we hadn’t paid for everything
while you squandered life away in your self-obsessed megalomania?”

“I have worked, Mother.” Her tone was pitiable. It was years since
her ammunition of protests hadn’t fallen on deaf ears.
It was now Denise’s turn again, as her grandmother turned her attention
back toward her, shaking her head.
“And as for you! You couldn’t even get a job folding clothes, if
that’s what you think.”
Denise turned around and disappeared into the kitchen with the
poison from her grandmother trailing behind her.
If it was possible to see what was inside her grandmother, the ingredients
could be laid out in equal measure of intense hatred, vengeance,
and unending images of how different she thought everything
had once been. Denise had heard the same fake nonsense over and
over, and it was irritatingly hurtful every time. About what a good
family she and her mother came from; about the golden years when
her grandfather had had his shoe shop in Rødovre and earned really
good money.
All a load of crap! Hadn’t the women in this family always stayed
at home and done their duty? Hadn’t they been supported solely by
their husbands, been meticulous about their appearance, and looked
after the home?
Hell yes!
“Mother! You mustn’t be too hard on her. She—”
“Denise is twenty- seven and is good for exactly nothing, Birgit.
Nothing!” shouted the witch. “How do you two propose to survive
when I’m not here anymore, can you answer me that? Don’t for one
second expect any significant inheritance from me. I have my own
needs.”
Something else they had heard a hundred times before. In a moment
she would attack Denise’s mother again. She would call her
shabby and a failure, before accusing her of passing on all her negative
qualities to her granddaughter.
Denise felt disgust and hatred right to the pit of her stomach. She
hated the shrill voice, attacks, and demands. Hated her mother for being
so weak and for not having been able to keep a man who could
look after them all. Hated her grandmother precisely because that was
what she had done.
Why wouldn’t she just lie down and die?
“I’m out of here,” said Denise coldly when she stepped back into
the dining room.
“Oh, are you, now? Well then, you won’t be having this.” Her
grandmother pulled a bundle of notes from her handbag and held it
in front of them. One-thousand-kroner notes.
“Come and sit down now, Denise,” her mother implored.
“Yes, come and sit down for a moment before you go out and sell
yourself,” came the next tirade from her grandmother. “Eat your
mother’s awful meal before you head out to find men to ply you with
booze. But be careful, Denise, because the way you are, you’ll never
find a decent man who’ll go for you! A cheap girl with fake hair and
hair color, fake breasts, fake jewelry, and bad skin. Don’t you think
they’ll see through you in a second, my dear? Or maybe you think a
decent man can’t tell the difference between elegance and your cheap
appearance? Maybe you don’t think that as soon as you open your
bloodred mouth that he’ll immediately discover that you know absolutely
nothing and have nothing to say? That you’re just a waste of
space?”
“You don’t know shit,” snapped Denise. Why wouldn’t she stop?