Category Archives: Authors D to F

Reviews by author surnames D to F

Fred’s Funeral by Sandy Day

The Blurb

It’s 1986. Fred Sadler has just died of old age. Seventy years after he marched off to WWI. As his ghost hovers near the ceiling of the nursing home where he’s died, Fred listens in dismay as the arrangement of his funeral falls to his loathed sister-in-law, Viola. Fred’s ghost follows his family, eavesdropping on his own funeral, and agonizing over his inability to set the record straight. Did old Uncle Fred really suffer from shell shock? Why did his family lock him away in the Whitby Hospital for the Insane? Couldn’t they have done more for him? Fred remembers his life as a child, his family’s hotel, the War, and the mental hospital. But his memories clash with Viola’s version as the family gathers one rainy October night to pay their respects.

My Thoughts

Fred’s Funeral by Sandy Day is a moving novella based on letters written by her great uncle Fred who served in the World War One. This is not, however, a story about one man’s experiences in the trenches but rather the story of what happened to him afterwards partly as a result of this.

Told in third person narrative, it starts, as the title suggests, following Fred Sadler’s funeral. Unusually, we see events from the perspective of the deceased Fred as he sits in on his family’s discussion on him. Fred was the black sheep of the family before he went to war and the impact of what he saw and experienced while fighting compounds this further on his return. Fred’s Funeral is delicately told and Day gently draws you in to this moving story which, for me, is a tale about the far-reaching consequences of war, mental health and the lack of understanding that surrounds it.

As his behaviour on his return becomes erratic, his family place him in the care of a psychiatric hospital. Misdiagnosed with schizophrenia rather than ‘shell shock’, Day writes about the lack of understanding around what would now clearly be post-traumatic stress disorder. At times Fred’s Funeral is a difficult read as Day’s descriptions of his experiences in the psychiatric hospital are upsetting but necessary to the book as it represents the period of time. I love how Day also portrays Fred’s views of his own mental health by having him as a ghost looking on. As he finally discovers what his family members really thought of him we are privy to his feelings and thoughts about what he was experiencing at the time. Again, this touched me as we never really know what other people think of us.

I found his family’s lack of understanding and also their lack of appreciation of Fred upsetting. Day has perfectly captured the attitudes of the time and how they change and evolve with each generation as awareness and understanding grow – and thank God that is the case! As we discover, however, the road to understanding and awareness is paved with horrors for those suffering.

Fred’s Funeral is a great piece of historical fiction based partly on fact and influenced by a real person which makes it all the more likeable. The fact that it documents and explores the impact of World War One on the individual immediately after its conclusion makes it an interesting and a timely read. While small in size, this beautifully crafted novella packs a big punch and I recommend it.

Published on 28 November 2017, you can get your copy of Fred’s Funeral HERE.

Blog Tour – In Her Shadow by Mark Edwards *Review*


I am beyond delighted to be on the blog tour for In Her Shadow by Mark Edwards today. Before I tell you what I thought, here is the all-important blurb.

The Blurb

Isabel’s life seemed perfect. Successful business, beautiful house, adoring husband. And then she was dead.
For four years Jessica has never doubted that her sister Isabel’s death was an accident. But when Jessica’s young daughter seems to know long-forgotten details about her aunt’s past, Jessica can’t shake the feeling that there’s a more sinister truth behind the tragedy.
As Jessica unearths disturbing revelations about her sister, and about the people she loved and trusted most, it becomes clear Isabel’s life was less than perfect and that Jessica’s might also be at risk.
Did someone murder Isabel? Are they now after Jessica and her family? The key seems to lie in the hands of a child. Can Isabel reveal the truth from beyond the grave, or is the answer closer to home?

My Thoughts

Mark Edwards has really turned up the chill factor for In Her Shadow as this book is part ghost story, part crime novel, part thriller. A difficult feat to pull off but Edwards has done it with style.

Four years ago Jessica’s sister Isabel died and the family had believed it was an accidental death. When Jessica’s daughter Olivia starts to talk about things she couldn’t possibly know about her aunt, Jessica begins to doubt that her sister’s death was an accident.

In Her Shadow is a twisty book about family secrets, obsession and manipulation. If you thought The Retreat was spooky, you haven’t read anything yet! In Her Shadow has all the creepiness of his last novel and more. Much more. Edwards has used techniques used in classic horror films and books to give In Her Shadow that spine-chilling edge and it certainly makes the hairs on your arms stand on end.

Edwards confirms his place as the king of red herrings as he once again threw me completely off course in this book. In Her Shadow is an incredibly compulsive thriller and I spent a lot of time trying to figure out what had happened to Isabel. Split into two parts, the end of part one had me saying ‘Oh my God’ out loud and desperate to discuss it with another reader. In Her Shadow is another real page-turner.

Edwards cleverly builds up the story by switching between present day and past. These sneaky peaks at what went before ensure that you are kept guessing and second-guessing all the way through the book.

It is clear as the story progresses that Edwards has been influenced by the recent ‘Me Too’ campaign. The incorporation of this theme gives In Her Shadow a contemporary and relevant edge. He deals with this issue in a manner that shows he has researched the issue of sexual harassment and the impact it has on its victims along with the methods used by the perpetrators.

There are a few books out at the moment that combine crime thriller with a supernatural element and In Her Shadow holds its own in originality and storyline. Gripping, goosebump-inducing and just overall great, In Her Shadow is another fantastic book by Mark Edwards and fans and new readers alike will not be disappointed.

In Her Shadow was published on 4 October 2018 by Thomas & Mercer. You can get a copy HERE.

Book Review – The Walls Came Down by Ewa Dodd

The Blurb

A young boy goes missing during a workers’ strike in 1980s Communist Poland, unravelling a chain of events which will touch people across decades and continents. Joanna, a young journalist in Warsaw, is still looking for her brother, who’s now been missing for over twenty years. Matt, a high-flying London city financier is struggling with relationship problems and unexplained panic attacks. And in Chicago, Tom, an old man, is slowly dying in a nursing home, losing his battle with cancer. What connects them? As the mystery begins to unravel, the worlds of the three protagonists are turned upside down. But can they find each other before time runs out?

My Thoughts

I was delighted to be able to read and review Ewa Dodd’s debut novel The Walls Came Down as it had so many elements that I love in a book. A triple timeline, three different countries (including one in Eastern Europe, which I love) and a mystery, The Walls Came Down sounded right up my street. And, I’m so pleased to say, that it was.

The Walls Came Down starts in 1980s Communist Poland when a young child, Adam, goes missing. We are then brought forward to 2010 and introduced to Matty in London, Joanna in Warsaw and Tom in Chicago. As each character tells their story via alternating chapters, we are left to wonder about the links between the three and where it will lead to.

Multiple points of view and threads can be a difficult thing to pull off, but Dodd does it with ease and all three work together really well, coming together beautifully at the end. Dodd has ensured that all three voices are distinct and I became fully invested in each. I have to admit, though, to having a special soft spot for Tom and his situation. Full of regret and guilt as he looks back over his life, Tom firmly wormed his way into my heart. Don’t read this book if you are feeling fragile as it is an emotional read and will result in the use of tissues!

I have a special affection for Eastern Europe, and I was delighted that part of the book was set in Warsaw, a city I hope to visit at some point in my life. While I didn’t get a true sense of place as The Walls Came Down is largely a character-based book, it didn’t really matter as I was so invested in each of the storylines and the glimpses I did get into Warsaw, I enjoyed. It does, however, provide an interesting glimpse into Warsaw’s tumultuous political history and I really enjoyed this aspect of the book.

The Walls Came Down is a book about loss, regret, self-discovery and how one action can have repercussions across decades and countries. I really enjoyed this emotional tale and look forward to reading more from Ewa Dodd in the future.

A huge thank you to Ewa for my copy of The Walls Came Down in exchange for my unbiased review.

You can get your copy HERE.

Blog Tour – The Retreat by Mark Edwards *Review*

Being a huge fan of Mark Edwards’ books I am beyond excited to be hosting one of the stops on the blog tour for his latest book, The Retreat

The Blurb

Julia Marsh has spent the last two years grieving the tragic accident that lead to her husband drowning before her eyes in a local river. Her eight-year-old daughter Lily is still missing, presumed dead. Now living alone, Julia finds herself unable to move on, convinced that Lily is still alive. But as money runs out, Julia needs to find a way to keep hold of their beautiful and secluded family home. She decides to open a writer’s retreat.

Lucas is a successful novelist suffering from writer’s block and one of the first guests. He’s no stranger to personal tragedy and forms an instant bond with his host, Julia. The longer he stays, the more a local legend of the Red Widow, a fabled witch who kidnaps young girls, captures his imagination. But as Lucas delves into details of these disappearances, and as locals take more than a passing interest in his investigations, Lucas finds himself at the centre of a very real horror story. The retreat is harbouring secrets: all Lucas must do is separate the facts from the fiction before the ghosts of this small town.

My Thoughts

I am always excited when a new Mark Edwards’ book comes out and I couldn’t wait to get my hands on The Retreat. Once again Edwards delivers an outstanding thriller.

What I really like about Edwards’ books is that you know you are going to get something different with each one and The Retreat is no exception. Following the death of her husband and presumed death of her daughter, Julia turns her home in the Welsh countryside into a writers’ retreat. When horror author Lucas goes to stay at the retreat he discovers that the retreat, the town and the woods are harbouring deep and terrifying secrets.

Edwards switches between perspective and time throughout The Retreat and kicks off with a prologue that describes the events of the day that Lily, Julia’s daughter, went missing. Edwards immediately draws you into the book, and you just have to keep reading to find out what actually happened to Lily. The subtle hints that are dropped during the chapters that focus on Lily and the time leading up to her disappearance/death add to the mystery and intrigue and, as usual, Edwards does a great job of ensuring the reader is always caught on the back foot.

The Retreat is a spooky read as Edwards keeps us guessing as to whether something supernatural is going on in the small town of Beddmawr, or if it’s the work of a dangerous local. The retreat is an eerie old building in which the residents hear mysterious noises. Drawing on ‘what goes bump in the night’ Edwards turns up the atmosphere for maximum impact causing you to regularly glance over your shoulder as you read.

I loved the way that Edwards draws on folklore and urban legend throughout the book. The use of a mysterious and creepy picture that hangs in many of the inhabitant’s homes and businesses reminded me of the ‘curse of the crying boy’ painting that did the rounds in the eighties. He portrays how stories can be used to influence people’s thoughts and be used as a way of controlling people through fear. Deep held beliefs in otherworldly forces can result in irrational behaviour and decisions that an otherwise rational person would not normally do.

The Retreat creeps and twists like the ivy that climbs up an old building and it gets under your skin. Combining old-school style ghost story elements with modern day thriller, Edwards has created a spine-tingling story that it is enthralling and irresistible.

The Retreat is published on 10 May 2018 by Thomas & Mercer. You can get your copy HERE.

About the Author

Mark Edwards writes psychological thrillers in which terrifying things happen to ordinary people. Mark’s first solo novel, The Magpies (2013), reached the No.1 spot on the Amazon UK Kindle bestseller list, as did his third novel Because She Loves Me (2014), and Follow Me Home (2015). His previous novels, The Devil’s Work (2016) and The Lucky Ones (2017) were also published to great critical acclaim and commercial success. He has also co-written various crime novels with Louise Voss such as Killing Cupid (2011) and The Blissfully Dead (2015). His titles with Amazon Publishing have reached over a million readers.

Mark grew up on the south coast of England and started writing in his twenties while working in a number of dead-end jobs. He lived in Tokyo for a year, and is a great admirer of Japanese writers and horror films. Mark lives near Wolverhampton, England, with his wife, their three children and a ginger cat. The Retreat was strongly inspired by local folklore and urban myths from Mark’s childhood and by his daughter Poppy. When walking their dog in the woods, Poppy told Mark a story about her friends arguing about whether a local legend was true or not. Poppy and Mark would brainstorm ideas for the book on their daily walks, and Mark now credits her as his co-writer and a budding author herself.

A huge thank you to Mark Edwards and Gaby Drinkald at Midas PR for my advance copy of The Retreat and for inviting me to take part in the blog tour. Follow the rest of the tour:

Review – I Am Watching You by Teresa Driscoll

The Blurb

What would it take to make you intervene?

When Ella Longfield overhears two attractive young men flirting with teenage girls on a train, she thinks nothing of it—until she realises they are fresh out of prison and her maternal instinct is put on high alert. But just as she’s decided to call for help, something stops her. The next day, she wakes up to the news that one of the girls—beautiful, green-eyed Anna Ballard—has disappeared.

A year later, Anna is still missing. Ella is wracked with guilt over what she failed to do, and she’s not the only one who can’t forget. Someone is sending her threatening letters—letters that make her fear for her life.

Then an anniversary appeal reveals that Anna’s friends and family might have something to hide. Anna’s best friend, Sarah, hasn’t been telling the whole truth about what really happened that night—and her parents have been keeping secrets of their own.

Someone knows where Anna is—and they’re not telling. But they are watching Ella.

My Thoughts

I really enjoyed Last Kiss Goodnight by Teresa Driscoll which comes under the genre of ‘women’s fiction’ and I was interested to see her take a different direction with I Am Watching You, her first psychological thriller.

I Am Watching You has an interesting premise in that it follows the people involved with a teenage girl, Anna, a year after she has disappeared. Each chapter is told from the point of view of a different person, in this case the witness, the father, the friend and the private investigator. A further voice punctuates the book at intervals and is headed ‘Watching’. I loved the way the first chapter is told from Ella the witnesses point of view in second person narrative as this serves to immediately draw the reader in and make them feel involved in the book and the life of Ella.

It becomes clear immediately that I Am Watching You is not simply a thriller but also an examination of the ripple effect of a crime on those directly and those inadvertently involved. While the characters berate themselves about what they could possibly have done differently and examine their actions leading up to the moment that Anna disappeared, I found myself asking myself how I would have reacted in Ella’s position.

As the investigation into Anna’s disappearance unfurls hidden family secrets amongst those closest to her, we clearly see how the events of the previous year have highlighted the weaknesses in the relationships of those closest to Anna. This aspect of the knock-on effect was my favourite part of the book and Driscoll has done a great job of exploring this.

Inevitably, I spent time trying to figure out ‘whodunnit’ and was satisfyingly wrong! The ending came as a total surprise but I am not sure how I felt about it. It felt kind of random and maybe hearing more from the protagonist and about Anna’s life pre-disappearance could have helped it work a little more for me. However, Driscoll has done a great job with her first psychological thriller and I look forward to reading more by her in this genre.

An interesting concept that gets you considering the wider implications of a crime, I Am Watching You is a good first psychological thriller by Driscoll.

I Am Watching You was published on 1 October 2017 by Thomas & Mercer.

A huge thank you to Teresa Drsicoll, Thomas & Mercer and Netgalley for my copy in exchange for my unbiased and honest review.

Review – A Whiff of Cyanide by Guy Fraser-Sampson

The Blurb

The third volume of the bestselling Hampstead Murders sees the team become involved with a suspicious death at a crime writers’ convention. Is this the result of a bitterly contested election for the Chair of the Crime Writers’ Association or are even darker forces at work? Peter Collins, who is attending the convention as the author of a new book on poisoning in Golden Age fiction, worries that the key clue to unlock this puzzle may be buried within his own memories. A character called Miss Marple offers her advice, but how should the police receive this? Meanwhile an act of sudden, shocking violence and a dramatic revelation threaten tragic consequences…

My Thoughts

I am a big fan of Fraser-Sampson’s Hampstead Murders and always look forward to the next instalment. A Whiff of Cyanide is a fantastic addition to the series and I thoroughly enjoyed it. Originally, I believe this was going to be a trilogy and I was thrilled to recently learn that there will be more books in the series.

Settling into A Whiff of Cyanide felt very much like meeting up with a group of old friends that you are completely comfortable with. I adore the characters and was pleased to be spending time with Bob Metcalfe, Karen Willis, Peter Collins and Simon Collison again.

A Whiff of Cyanide begins with a re-introduction to the characters and along with setting the scene it works perfectly as a refresher covering the salient points of the last two novels without going over old ground. This works perfectly as a reminder about where we had left the characters in the previous two books and also as an introduction to those who may be reading this as their first in the series. A Whiff of Cyanide does work as a standalone, however, you really are missing out if you don’t read Death in Profile and Miss Christie Regrets first.

An author dies during a crime writer’s convention that Peter is attending. Unsure as to whether her death is suicide or murder, the team have to investigate to get to the bottom of her death. What I love about these books is the use of old-fashioned detective work rather than reliance on modern-day forensic science and A Whiff of Cyanide is no different. Full of twists and turns that I never saw coming, I was hooked from the start and relished every surprise and revelation. I am so pleased this is not the last in the series.

The tongue-in-cheek humour throughout A Whiff of Cyanide makes this book all the more enjoyable. There is a character called Miss Marple and the setting of a writer’s convention gives Fraser-Sampson the opportunity to poke fun at his profession but, I hasten to add, not in a derogatory way. It adds another layer to the book. The references amongst the characters as to what would happen in a Golden Age crime novel which then go on to occur within the book is genius.

A great addition to the Hampstead Murders series, A Whiff of Cyanide lived up to my expectations and, dare I say, may be my favourite in the series so far. It has all of the charm and manners you would expect alongside a meticulous plot and twists that ensure you can’t wait for the next instalment. Fantastic and highly recommended. A Whiff of Cyanide is a welcome antidote to the current crime novels on the market.

Published on 2 June 2017 by Urbane Publications.

A huge thank you to Guy Fraser-Sampson and Urbane for my copy in exchange for my honest and unbiased review.

Check out my reviews of Death in Profile and Miss Christie Regrets.

Review – The Shogun’s Queen by Lesley Downer

The Blurb

The year is 1853, and a young Japanese girl’s world is about to be turned upside down.

When black ships carrying barbarians arrive on the shores of Japan, the Satsuma clan’s way of life is threatened. But it’s not just the samurai who must come together to fight: the beautiful, headstrong Okatsu is also given a new destiny by her feudal lord – to save the realm.

Armed only with a new name, Princess Atsu, as she is now known, journeys to the women’s palace of Edo Castle, a place so secret it cannot be marked on any map. Behind the palace’s immaculate façade, amid rumours of murder and whispers of ghosts, Atsu must uncover the secret of the man whose fate, it seems, is irrevocably linked to hers – the shogun himself – if she is to rescue her people . . .

My Thoughts

I’ve been intrigued by Geisha’s and Japanese culture for a while – I loved Golden’s Memoirs of a Geisha and adore Madame Butterfly – but my knowledge of Japan’s history is extremely limited. When I was asked if I would like to read and review Lesley Downer’s The Shogun’s Queen I didn’t hesitate to agree. It has taken me a while to get around to reading it and now I have I will definitely be reading Downer’s other books in The Shogun Quartet of which this is the first. Downer has opened up my curiosity about Japanese culture and I want to know more, always a good sign in historical fiction.

Based on historical fact, The Shogun’s Queen is set in Japan in 1853 and follows the life of Okatsu from the Satsuma clan. A turbulent time in the country’s existence, Japan finds itself being opened up to the Western world when ships begin to appear from America, Britain and Russia. Okatsu finds herself thrust into a position in which her influence can directly impact and influence Japan’s ability to maintain its tradition and culture and whether or not the country becomes embroiled in war.

Okatsu is incredibly well portrayed and she is immensely likeable. This courageous, selfless young woman who gives up everything for her country is an amazing character and is made even more amazing as she actually existed. As pointed out in the Afterword, Downer advises that the women of Japanese history are largely ignored and yet Okatsu was an integral part of that history.

Downer has written a captivating account of an elusive and secretive world. Her prose is such that she fully draws you into this society and every part of The Shogun’s Queen is meticulously portrayed. From the thoughts and feelings unique to their culture to the descriptions of the surroundings, you are completely immersed in the book. It had me considering viewpoints that I wouldn’t have thought about without reading it. It is sumptuous and beautiful and yet also captures the underlying disadvantages of those women living in, what is essentially, a luxurious prison.

Downer clearly knows a lot about Japanese culture and history and her careful and considered research comes through to create an accessible, fascinating, insightful book. As I stated earlier, The Shogun’s Queen has whet my appetite to find out more about this era in Japan.

The intrigue had me completely gripped and enthralled. Okatsu has an impossible task and I was desperately hoping that she would be successful in her task. I didn’t want The Shogun’s Queen to end and when it did I was left feeling bereft. It is one of those books that leaves an indelible mark on you and has you thinking about it for days afterwards.

A wonderfully written, fascinating, all absorbing account of a critical turning point in Japanese history. Full of political intrigue and yet emotionally charged, The Shogun’s Queen is an epic tale that I have no doubt those who enjoy historical fiction will love as much as I did.

Published in ebook on 3 November 2016 by Transworld Digital and paperback on 27 July 2017 by Corgi.

A huge thank you to Lesley Downer and Transworld (Bantam Press) for my copy in exchange for my review. 

Author Interview With Kate Dunn – The Challenges of Writing The Dragonfly

I am thrilled to be joined by Kate Dunn today who tells us the challenges involved in writing her latest novel The Dragonfly. We will begin by telling you about Kate’s latest book and then hand over to the lovely lady herself.

The Blurb

Awarded a Kirkus Blue Star and shortlisted for the Virginia Prize for Fiction.

When Colin discovers his son is on a murder charge in France, he trails his small boat, The Dragonfly , across the channel to stay in Paris to try and help him. There he meets his grand-daughter the irrepressible Delphine for the first time. They embark on an exciting boat journey through the picturesque French canals, heading south through Burgundy, until the butter melts. Along the way, they catch up with Tyler, a spirited American, and through various mishaps and misunderstandings, they land big fish, cultivate new loves and uncover a burning secret. But can Colin finally help his son get off the hook?

Shortlisted for the 4th Virginia Prize for Fiction, The Dragonfly is the new novel by Kate Dunn: ‘a charming family drama set on the waterways (and in the prisons!) of France.’ (Claire King, author of The Night Rainbow and Everything Love Is). A beautifully written and expertly plotted adventure: ‘Quirky and warm-hearted, with darker undertones that keep you gripped. Kate Dunn is a fine storyteller.’ (Ben Elton)

What were the main challenges in writing The Dragonfly?
The Dragonfly is set in France, on the canals and rivers south of Paris and my husband and I are lucky enough to own a small boat, so much of the action is based on our own (mis)adventures and the places described we have visited ourselves. I wanted to make sure that I was being as accurate as possible without falling into the trap of over-using my research (I did once make my husband retrace our route along the canal for many miles in order to check whether the trees fringing a particular lock were limes or chestnuts, as he reminded me quite pointedly the other day!) I suppose it’s a question of balance, including enough factual information to anchor the story in reality, but allowing yourself the creative license to add atmosphere and emotional resonance to what you are describing, because in the end that’s what brings it to life.

How difficult was it to write about life inside a French prison?
This is where the subplot of the novel takes place. Colin’s son Michael is on remand for killing Delphine’s mum. I’m making the story sound rather dark, but it isn’t, and the scenes in the prison provide some of the humour in the book. Just as Colin and Delphine are dealing with the limitations of managing together on a tiny boat, Michael and his French cellmate Laroche are up against the constraints of living in really close proximity together. Most of the scenes take place within the four walls of their cell – the wider prison life is slightly out of focus at the periphery of this, so it’s mainly about the relationship between them. Laroche is quite a striking guy: dyslexic, brutalized, perceptive and ultimately humane. So I guess with both the setting and the characters it’s what’s happening on the inside that is interesting and important, that’s where my creative energies are focused.

Your main character is a man – Colin. As a woman did you find it difficult to write from a male point of view?
To be honest, I didn’t think of him as a man. I thought of him as a person. He was very vivid in my mind’s eye as I was writing, but what interested me about him was not his gender, but his flaws. He’s quite a complex character – as the result of a bitter divorce he has become estranged from his only son and he has some responsibility for this. I saw him as a fundamentally decent and well meaning person who made one or two dreadful mistakes – something all of us are capable of. The thrust of the story is his attempt to make up for what were quite catastrophic errors of judgment in the past. It’s not just a journey through the meltingly lovely heart of France, for Colin it’s a journey to self knowledge and reconciliation. Interestingly, some of the other characters in the story were just as challenging – it was also to quite a leap of the imagination to get inside the head of a nine year old girl and Delphine has emerged as quite a feisty child: funny, unpredictable and incredibly vulnerable. I love them all. They are like family to me.

Were there any other challenges?
It took a long time to find a publisher. The literary world is a highly competitive place. I started writing The Dragonfly at the end of 2009 and it wasn’t until 2016 that it was short-listed for the Virginia Prize for Fiction to encourage emerging women writers, which is run by my small but perfectly-formed independent publisher Aurora Metro, who picked it up. In the meantime, I had put it in a metaphorical drawer and written a whole other novel (The Line Between Us). I’m only sharing this to show that you should never give up: if you are asking me about challenges, then perhaps the greatest challenge for a writer is to keep on writing, no matter how discouraged you may sometimes feel.

About Kate Dunn

Kate Dunn has had five books published, two novels: Rebecca’s Children and The Line Between Us as well as three works of non fiction, Always and Always — The Wartime Letters of Hugh and Margaret Williams, Exit through the Fireplace and Do Not Adjust Your Set. She has written travel articles for various national newspapers and has broadcast on Radios Two, Three and Four including regular contributions to Front Row. She worked for ten years as an actress and has a PhD in Drama from Manchester University. Her third novel The Dragonfly, published by Aurora Metro, is out now.




A huge thank you Kate for taking in the Q&A and for the brilliant answers!

Blog Tour – The Lucky Ones by Mark Edwards *Review and Author Influences*

I can’t tell you how excited I am to be taking part in Mark Edwards’ blog tour for his latest novel The Lucky Ones. I’m thrilled to be sharing my review AND I have the man himself taking part in Author Influences, so you can find out about Mark’s favourite books and authors. But first find out more about The Lucky Ones

The Blurb

It was the happiest day of her life. Little did she know it was also the last.
When a woman’s body is found in the grounds of a ruined priory, Detective Imogen Evans realises she is dealing with a serial killer—a killer whose victims appear to die in a state of bliss, eyes open, smiles forever frozen on their faces.
A few miles away, single dad Ben Hofland believes his fortunes are changing at last. Forced to move back to the sleepy village where he grew up following the breakdown of his marriage, Ben finally finds work. What’s more, the bullies who have been terrorising his son, Ollie, disappear. For the first time in months, Ben feels lucky.
But he is unaware that someone is watching him and Ollie. Someone who wants nothing but happiness for Ben.
Happiness…and death.
The Lucky Ones is the terrifying new thriller from the #1 Kindle bestselling author of Follow You Home and The Devil’s Work.

My Thoughts

It’s no secret that I’m a huge fan of Mark Edwards’s books and so I was incredibly excited to receive an advance copy of The Lucky Ones. So what did I think? Is it as good as his other books? ‘As good as’ is an understatement … I think it’s his best yet and I absolutely loved it!

Set in a small village in Shropshire, this normally peaceful village has been rocked by a series of killings by who the media have dubbed ‘The Shropshire Viper’. DI Imogen Evans, a detective recently transferred from the Met, is the lead on the case and has her work cut out finding the killer. Ben, with his son Ollie, has recently moved back to the Shropshire village where he grew up following the separation from his wife. Little does he know he is going to be the Viper’s next target.

The prologue of The Lucky Ones drags you into the story and from there on it just doesn’t let you go! Perfectly paced, Edwards ruined many a planned early night as once I started this book I just could not put it down. It is utterly gripping!

The characters are great, and Edwards makes full use of telling the story from three perspectives. We follow DI Imogen Evans in third person narrative as she investigates the spate of killings. Imogen is struggling to adjust to life in a rural area after being part of The Met. Imogen is likeable and while she certainly has issues from her past she is not the cliched detective that we so often see in crime novels. Ben is immediately likeable as the single father who is adjusting to his new life after a recent run of bad luck, and we see things directly from his perspective through first person narrative. Then we have the chilling voice of the killer. I always love to get into the mind of the killer and Edwards provides this as parts of the story are told directly by The Viper. This is a killer with a very skewed view of life and death and this makes him intriguing and interesting.

The premise of The Lucky Ones is great and totally different as the killer focuses on making his victims, bizarrely, happy! If something is too good to be true, it probably is could be the lesson learned from The Lucky Ones. Edwards had me constantly thinking I had it all figured out as to who the antagonist was to then prove me totally wrong and clueless. He led me up so many garden paths I was beginning to feel like a horticulturalist! This book totally kept me enthralled and on my toes!

If you have to read only one thriller this year make it The Lucky Ones … You will not be disappointed. Utter perfection!

The Lucky Ones by Mark Edwards is published by Thomas & Mercer on 15 June 2017 as an £8.99 paperback original.

A huge thank you to Mark Edwards, Lisa Shakespeare at Midas PR and Thomas and Mercer for my advance copy and for inviting me to take part in the blog tour.

And now I hand you over to Mark to tell you about his author influences…

Which authors/books did you like to read as a child?
When I was at primary school I mainly read comics – everything from 2000AD to Whizzer and Chips! – but my first favourite author was John Wyndham. I was desperate to read Day of the Triffids after watching the BBC adaptation. My dad took me to our local book shop to get a copy and the bookseller told him it wasn’t suitable for children. Luckily, he ignored her attempt at censorship.

A few years later, after I’d devoured Wyndham’s back catalogue, I read and loved the first two Adrian Mole books. I still quote them to this day and spent half my life looking for a girl, like Sharon Botts, who will do anything for 50p and a pound of grapes.

Were you good at English at school? Did you like it?
It was the only subject I was good at. I loved writing stories, many of which were pretty dark and gruesome. I wrote a story about a house with walls that oozed blood when I was nine or ten. Later, when I was at secondary school, I was awarded the English Prize two years in a row. It remains the only literary prize I’ve ever won.

What genres do you like to read? Have they had an impact on the genre you write?
I mostly read crime novels and psychological thrillers. Elizabeth Haynes’ Into the Darkest Corner was the first of the current wave of psych thrillers that I read and it made me realise that was the kind of book I wanted to write. I was fortunate to start publishing psych thrillers – and domestic noir – just as it took off and became the most popular genre.

Having said that, I think the market is so saturated now that it’s getting harder to be original and fresh. There seem to be a lot of identikit domestic thrillers around at the moment, which is one reason my new book, The Lucky Ones, subverts the usual psychological thriller plot line by turning everything on its head…

If you were to write a different genre what would it be and why?
I love a good ‘end of the world’ novel and have always wanted to write one. I would love to pen something like Justin Cronin’s The Passage trilogy – something really epic and dark.

Did any author’s work encourage you to pick up your pen and write and if so who, what and why?
It’s not a very original answer but it was initially Stephen King and James Herbert, plus Clive Barker to a lesser extent. I was a huge horror reader as a teenager and that was when I first started to dream about being a writer.

Then, in my early twenties, I read The Secret History by Donna Tartt, which remains my favourite book. It’s perfect in every way, and I yearn to make readers feel as I felt when I first experienced that book.

Are there any authors who, as soon as they publish a new book, you have to get it?
Yes, quite a few. The aforementioned Donna Tartt, along with Bret Easton Ellis, Mo Hayder (my favourite crime writer), Elizabeth Haynes, Paula Daly, CL Taylor…I could go on and on.

Which books have you read that have made you think ’Wow, I wish I had written that’ and what was it about the book?
This happens nearly every week! One that stands out is I Let You Go by Clare Mackintosh. That twist is so good – I think Clare really raised the bar with that and I’ve been obsessed ever since with coming up with a twist that good. To mention one more, I loved The Beautiful Dead by Belinda Bauer because it was so funny. Every line is read-aloud brilliant.

Have any of your plots/characters been influenced by real life events/people? (Be careful, I don’t want you getting sued!)
Most of my psychological thrillers have been influenced by things that happened to me. The Magpies was based on my own experience of neighbours from hell; Follow You Home was inspired by a real-life disaster on a train in Europe. I don’t really base books on real crimes, although I had to research Harold Shipman for The Lucky Ones as my killer uses the same method to murder his victims. It’s terrifying that Britain’s most prolific serial killer was not a prowling Hannibal Lecter type but a seemingly trustworthy, mild-mannered medic. Although, come to think of it, both Shipman and Lecter were doctors…

A massive thanks to Mark Edwards for taking the time to answer my questions brilliantly. You have made my month!

About Mark Edwards

After a career that has taken in everything from answering complaint calls for a rail company to teaching English in Japan and being a marketing director, Mark now writes full-time.

He live in the West Midlands, England, with his wife, three children, a ginger cat and a golden retriever.

Connect with Mark




Follow the rest of the tour…

Continue reading Blog Tour – The Lucky Ones by Mark Edwards *Review and Author Influences*

Blog Tour – Faithless by Kjell Ola Dahl *Review*

Thrilled to be hosting one of today’s stops on the Faithless blog tour alongside Clues and Reviews and to finally be able to share my thoughts on the book by Kjell Ola Dahl.

The Blurb

Oslo detectives Gunnarstranda and Frølich are back … and this time, it’s personal…

When the body of a woman turns up in a dumpster, scalded and wrapped in plastic, Inspector Frank Frølich is shocked to discover that he knows her … and their recent meetings may hold the clue to her murder. As he ponders the tragic events surrounding her death, Frølich’s colleague Gunnarstranda investigates a disturbingly similar cold case involving the murder of a young girl in northern Norway and Frølich is forced to look into his own past to find the answers – and the killer – before he strikes again.

Dark, brooding and utterly chilling, Faithless is a breath-taking and atmospheric page-turner that marks the return of an internationally renowned and award-winning series, from one of the fathers of Nordic Noir.

My Thoughts

Faithless is my first venture into Dahl’s books and I guess I did have some concern as to whether I would be able to get into the story as I had not met Oslo detectives Frølich and Gunnarstranda before. Much to my relief the story works well as a standalone and you can instantly pick up with the characters and not feel as though you are missing out on any back story. One of the reasons, I feel, for this is the concentration on the crime and police procedures rather than the personal lives of the detectives.

From reading the above it may come across that I didn’t get a feel for the characters but this is not the case. We do get an insight into the private life of Gunnarstranda and Frølich and a sense of the relationship between them, however, it is in addition to the main story at hand and not in your face. The death of a woman Frølich knows and the involvement of an old friend certainly makes the case in Faithless personal to him, yet it is done in such a way that it never detracts from the main crux of the story. Memories from Frølich’s past re-surface and his feelings about being involved in a case in which he knows the victim adds a great layer to the story with it becoming very much a welcome addition rather than a distraction.

I really enjoyed the police procedural aspect of Faithless which is written with an authenticity that highlights the instincts that come after years in the profession and does not overly rely on modern technologies in order to discover who committed the murder. In addition, Dahl expresses the feelings and thoughts that the detectives have towards their colleagues and the work they do in a candid, realistic way which gives the characters and the book a whole added layer. Faithless is a refreshing change from the emotionally challenged detectives we often see in crime fiction.

Dahl is a skilled writer and in Faithless he has written a story that threads and winds its way around leaving you guessing and counter-guessing, never knowing where you will end up. The tension starts subtly and quietly descends into a darkness that leaves you stunned and totally taken aback. The translation by Don Bartlett is fantastically done and I never felt that something was lacking or lost in translation as I have in other translated novels. To be fair, however, this has never been an issue with books published by Orenda and they have restored my faith in translated fiction.

Faithless is a subtly disconcerting read with an ending that takes you totally by surprise. I liked it for its genuineness, its realism and the fact it concentrates on the nitty-gritty detective work. If you like police procedurals that take you into the heart of the work detectives carry out you will enjoy Faithless.

Published on 15 April 2017 by Orenda Books.

A huge thank you to Karen Sullivan at Orenda Books for my copy in exchange for my review and to Anne Cater for inviting me to take part in the blog tour. You can catch the rest of the tour at the other fantastic blogs…