Monday, 27 March 2017

Blood Tide by Claire McGowan Blog tour & Guest post

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Today I'm thrilled to be taking part in the Blood Tide blog tour and I'm delighted to be welcoming Claire McGowan to my blog today to discuss: What Makes a Twist a Twist.

What Makes A Twist a Twist?

There’s a lot of talk about twists at the moment. Books are sold on them, all the while cunningly keeping back what the actual twist is. There are mid-point twists, end twists, multiple twists. But how do you go about setting one up? The most tricky thing is trying to put yourself in the shoes of the reader. As the writer you already know what the twist is going to be, so it’s very hard to know if the average reader will work it out or not.

What makes a twist a twist, as opposed to a reveal? I think it’s to do with intentionally misdirecting the reader, or allowing them to misdirect themselves. We all make certain assumptions about people and about fiction, and the clever crime writer can use these to set a trap for us. Wilkie Collins did this brilliantly in The Moonstone, and another writer whose twists I really admire is Erin Kelly. Once you see it, it makes perfect sense, but you don’t guess it before because you’re looking the other way.

Then there are twists that undermine something fundamental that we believe about narrative, truth, or even identity. The ones that take our breath away because we realise that not only do we not know what’s going on, we have no idea what kind of story we’re even in. Agatha Christie was the queen of this – I love how she sets up impossible puzzles and then solves them ingeniously. We know there has to be a rational explanation for this seeming strangeness, and Poirot or Miss Marple will find it out. Sophie Hannah is also very good at this. It’s vital with this kind of twist that the book follows the rules, I think. Author SS Van Dine helpfully set these out back in 1928, and they include dictates such as no twins, no accidents, and the detective must not be the killer. Of course, there are many great examples of successful crime novels which break these rules.

In my new book, Blood Tide, I wanted to try and write something like this. Limits are important for a good twist – the killer can’t be someone random we’ve never met before, or the reader will feel cheated. I set the action on an island, so it has to be someone we’ve met, and I had to think very carefully about timelines and where people were at any given time. It also meant no one could escape – a larger version of Poirot’s ‘gathering everyone in the drawing room’ scenes (why don’t they ever run away?). I hope it works, but that’ll be up to the readers of course. 


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Claire McGowan grew up in a small village in Northern Ireland. After a degree in English and French from Oxford University, and time spent living in China and France, she moved to London and works in the charity sector and also teaches creative writing.


Called to investigate the disappearance of a young couple during a violent storm, Paula Maguire, forensic psychologist, has mixed feelings about going back to Bone Island. Her last family holiday as a child was spent on its beautiful, remote beaches and returning brings back haunting memories of her long-lost mother.

It soon becomes clear that outsiders aren't welcome on the island, and with no choice but to investigate the local community, Paula soon suspects foul play, realising that the islanders are hiding secrets from her, and each other.

With another storm fast approaching, Paula is faced with a choice. Leave alive or risk being trapped with a killer on an inescapable island, as the blood tide rushes in...


I’ve become a huge fan of the Paula Maguire series and I have loved every single book. For me I think it’s the characters and their own personal lives that really stand out in Claire’s novels. Paula’s history is very traumatic and this book takes her on a much more personal journey as she attempts to find answers. She is also still coming to terms with the imprisonment of her partner Aiden and is desperately trying to prove his innocence.

Paula is still searching for her mother who disappeared in the early nineties and it is suspected that she was a victim of the IRA. Paula now has a young child of her own, three year old Maggie, and this makes it even more important to her to find out the truth behind her mother’s disappearance.

In Blood Tide, Paula is sent to Bone Island, the last piece of land before the vast stretch of the Atlantic Ocean. A small community live on the island and it becomes apparent to Paula that there are some who are very hostile to outsiders. Paula is sent to investigate the disappearance of a couple from London who live and work on the island. She is hoping not to be away from her daughter for long, the main theory is that the couple were killed in an accident and drowned at sea. But as she begins to strip back the layers of the islands inhabitants she discovers a grisly set of events leading up the disappearance and she knows that she has to stay to see the investigation through.

Blood Tide was a seriously scary book. If I was anywhere near this island I would want to run a mile and when it becomes clear to the inhabitants that Paula is staying, it becomes very claustrophobic. Claire’s writing is taut and full of tension. The island setting was very atmospheric. Someone is keeping secrets on this island. Someone wants to make sure that those secrets remain secrets.

I thoroughly enjoyed reading this book, as with all the Paula Maguire novels, Claire leaves us wanting to know more, Paula’s character and past becomes ever more intriguing. When I first discovered the series I bought each book at once and read them back to back, I don’t know what I’m going to do now that I have to wait a bit longer for the next one, I can’t wait to read it.

A massive five stars from me. Thank you to Millie Seaward at Headline for sending me a copy to review. 

Publisher: Headline

Publication date: 23rd March 2017

Print length: 352 pages


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Saturday, 25 March 2017

Sometimes I Lie Blog Tour & Giveaway

Today I'm thrilled to be taking part in the Sometimes I Lie blog tour and thanks to HQ I have three paperback copies of the book to giveaway. To win please check out my Twitter page.


Alice Feeney is a writer and journalist. She spent 16 years at the BBC, where she worked as a Reporter, News Editor, Arts and Entertainment Producer and One O'clock News Producer.

Alice is a Faber Academy graduate from the class of 2016. She has lived in London and Sydney and has now settled in the Surrey countryside, where she lives with her husband and dog,

Sometimes I Lie is her debut thriller and is being published around the world in 2017.


My name is Amber Reynolds. There are three things you should know about me.

1. I'm in a coma

2. My husband doesn't love me any more

3. Sometimes I Lie

Unnerving, twisted and utterly compelling, you won't be able to put this new thriller down. Set to be the most talked about book in 2017, it's perfect for fans of Behind Closed Doors, The Girl on the Train and The Widow. 


From the beginning of this novel we know that our character lies and she confesses without hesitation. But what does she lie about?

Sometimes I Lie is Alice Feeney’s debut novel. Amber Reynolds is in a coma; her memories of what happened the night she ended up in this position are sketchy. She is beset by strange dreams as she tries to piece together what she knows and make sense of everything that is happening around her.

I have read a couple of novels recently in which the main character is in a coma and is experiencing what we know as ‘locked in syndrome.’ That is they can hear everything and communicate with themselves inside their mind but they can’t reach out to anyone on the outside, they are imprisoned within their body. It is a fantastic tool for writers to use. The character is trying to unravel events as the reader is trying to do and they are learning new things that they might have forgotten about themselves all the time.

I loved Alice’s writing and Amber’s voice. We learn that she is married to Paul, but their relationship has hit a rocky point and she has a sister called Claire. Amber works for a programme called Coffee Morning but she hasn’t got a very good working relationship with her boss, Madeleine, and she has been given until Christmas to sort things out between them or one of them will have to go.

So what happened to Amber? Why is she in a coma?

Alice has created some really intriguing characters in her novel, as the reader I had no problem engaging in the story, Alice’s writing is really addictive. She delivers some startling twists that will leave you gasping. Her writing is taut and full of suspense; Alice knows how to keep her readers on tenterhooks, every time I picked it up to read I couldn’t wait to find out what happened next.

Sometimes I Lie is one of 2017’s hotly anticipated thrillers. I’m sure this book will be a top bestseller, I highly recommend it. Thank you to Netgalley and the publisher for providing me with a copy to review. 

Publisher: HQ

Publication date: 23rd March 2017

Print length: 384 pages


Friday, 24 March 2017

Close To Me by Amanda Reynolds Book Review


She can't remember the last year. Her husband wants to keep it that way. 

Dramatic psychological suspense for fans of Lian Moriarty's The Husband's Secret, Clare Mackintosh's I Let You Go, and Linda Green's While My Eyes Were Closed.

When Jo Harding falls down the stairs at home, she wakes up in hospital with partial amnesia - she's lost a whole year of memories.

A lot can happen in a year. Was Jo having an affair? Lying to her family? Starting a new life?

She can't remember what she did - or what happened the night she fell.

But she's beginning to realise she might not be as good a wife and mother as she thought.


Close To Me is a gripping new psychological thriller from debut author, Amanda Reynolds.

The novel begins when Jo Harding wakes up in hospital after having a fall at home which has caused her to have some memory loss. Jo has lost a whole year of her life which she is now desperately trying to piece back together. Her husband, Rob, is desperate for it to remain that way and when Jo begins to realise that he is keeping things back from her she begins to wonder what sort of man he really is. The gripping pitch: she can’t remember why she’s afraid of her husband.

The characters and story line in this book were really well developed and I felt like I got to know every single one of them. There is a lot of drama going on in Jo’s family which makes it really dramatic when she finds out what has been going on in the present. Before Jo has the fall, she starts to volunteer at a drop in center and becomes friendly with Rose who helps run it. I thought this was a great idea and when Jo is trying to piece together what has happened in the past year it adds a lot of dramatic tension. 

Amanda knows how to hook her readers and each new chapter kept me turning the pages as I learnt more about the year that Jo has lost. The dark question which hangs over Jo drives the plot forward: did she fall, or was she pushed? What is her husband capable of?

A really enjoyable read, Amanda Reynolds is an exciting new name in the world of thrillers and I’m looking forward to see what she does next. I’m sure that Close To Me will be a big hit. Thank you to Amanda for sending me a copy to review. 

Publisher: Wildfire

Publication date: 31st March 2017 (Kindle) 27th July 2017 (paperback)

Print length: 384 pages

Saturday, 11 March 2017

Deadly Game by Matt Johnson Blog Tour


Reeling from the attempts on his life and that of his family, Police Inspector Robert Finlay returns to work to discover that any hope of a peaceful existence has been dashed.

Assigned to investigate the Eastern European sex-slave industry just as a key witness is murdered, Finlay, along with his new partner Nina Brasov, finds himself facing a ruthless criminal gang, determined to keep control of the traffic of people into the UK. On the home front, Finlay's efforts to protect his wife and child may have been in vain, as an MI5 protection officer uncovers a covert secret service operation that threatens them all .... Aided by new allies, he must not only protect his family but save a colleague from an unseen enemy ... and a shocking fate. Deadly Game is a stunning, terrifying and eye-opening thriller from one of the most exciting new names in crime fiction.


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Matt Johnson served as a soldier and Metropolitan Police officer for 25 years. Blown off his feet at the London Baltic Exchange bombing in 1993, and one of the first police officers on the scene of the 1982 Regent's Park bombing, Matt was also at the Libyan People's Bureau shooting in 1984 where he escorted his mortally wounded friend and colleague, Yvonne Fletcher, to hospital. Hidden wounds take their toll. In 1999, Matt was discharged from the police with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. While undergoing treatment, he was encouraged by his counsellor to write about his career and his experience of murders, shootings and terrorism. One evening, Matt sat at his computer and started to weave these notes into a work of fiction that he described as having a tremendously cathartic effect on his own condition. His bestselling thriller, Wicked Game, which was shortlisted for the CWA John Creasey Dagger, was the result. Deadly Game once again draws on Matt's experiences and drops with the same raw authenticity of its predecessor.


I’m thrilled to be taking part in the #Deadly Game blog tour today. I’m sharing today’s blog tour stop with Chillers Killers and Thrillers.

Deadly Game is the second novel in the nail biting Robert Finlay series by Matt Johnson. After the exciting events that took place in book one, I couldn’t wait to see what Matt did next with his character.

In Deadly Game, Robert is sent on holiday. Robert suffers from PTSD and he is sent away to relax. Whilst on holiday he comes across the Christie family who are being investigated back in England by MI5. Toni Fellows, who works for MI5, is keen to recruit Robert but Robert has other idea about what he wants to do with his life and his wife Jenny wants him to lie low and concentrate on his family. She has had enough of Robert risking his and their lives and I’m sure that she wouldn’t mind of Robert had a desk job for the rest of his life. Robert is still seeking answers to events that occurred in book one although it has references to the previous book, Deadly Game can be read as a standalone if you are new to the series.

I thought that there were some fantastic new characters in this book, my favourite being Toni Fellows; I would like to learn more about her in the next book. Deadly Game definitely had more of a spy theme to it than the previous book, and the scenes in which Robert was abroad, took me back to watching The Night Manager last year. Matt opens the story painting a painful illustration of what life is like for some people in Eastern Europe, particularly young women who are desperate for a better life and who are willing to trust strangers to achieve their dream. In one short chapter I felt that I really connected to the character Relia Stagna who falls into the hands of sex traffickers and I really wanted to find out more about her and what happened to her next. ‘One day . . . with luck, she would find a new life.’ It makes my blood boil to think that this is happening to vulnerable and desperate people in the real world.

When Robert returns from his break he is assigned to investigate the Eastern European sex-slave industry. He is teamed up with Nina Brasov who I thought was another excellent addition to the series.

As it is in Wicked Game, Deadly Game is told from several viewpoints. From Robert’s viewpoint it is told in the first person narrative and in the voices of other characters it is told in the second person. Matt moves between these transitions really well, it is a great way of keeping the reader turning the pages and it certainly did with me.

I think what really helped with the pace in this book was the short chapters and brilliant dialogue. Some of my favourite scenes in the book were actually between Jenny and Robert but I also liked Robert’s conversations with Nina and Toni Fellows.

The Robert Finlay series is turning into something very exciting; I’ll definitely be reading the next one. Thank you to Karen at Orenda books for sending me a copy to review. 

Publisher: Orenda

Publication date: 20th February 2017 (Kindle) 15th March 2017 (Paperback)

Print length: 300 pages


We All Begin As Strangers by Harriet Cummings


It's 1984, and summer is scorching the ordinary English village of Heathcote.

What's more, a mysterious figure is slipping into homes through back doors and open windows. Dubbed 'the Fox,' he knows everything about everyone - leaving curious objects in their homes, or taking things from them.

When beloved Anna goes missing, the whole community believes the Fox is responsible.

But as the residents scramble to solve the mystery of Anna's disappearance, little do they know it's their darkest secrets the Fox is really after...

Inspired by a real 80s mystery, and with a brilliant cast of characters, WE ALL BEGIN AS STRANGERS is a beautiful debut novel you'll want to recommend to everyone.


We All Begin As Strangers is a startling debut by author Harriet Cummings and tells the story of a quaint English village pushed to the brink. Everyone has secrets to protect and when a young woman disappears is it possible for everyone to hold on to their secrets.

In the beginning of the novel, the story of ‘The Fox’ is often approached by the villagers, at dinner parties or meetings in the street. ‘The Fox’ is the term given to a mysterious figure who has been slipping into people’s homes. No one quite knows what he wants as nothing from the homes he has broken into has been stolen, but objects have been moved and traces of his presence has been left behind. Of course, the villagers are concerned about it but the seriousness of the issue heightens when a young woman disappears, is ‘The Fox’ behind the woman’s disappearance.

We All Begin as Strangers is told from several viewpoints throughout the novel. Each of Harriet’s characters lead interesting lives and I enjoyed reading about every one of them. Brian, the police officer, I think has to be my favourite. He has had to deal with some tough times in the past but at the end of the day he is still trying to impress his parents and gain their approval.

There were times when I found the story a little slow to get into but what I really found interesting was how Harriet delved into the psychology of her characters and what makes them tick. We are all desperate to cling onto peaceful, uneventful lives but what happens to our minds when we are pushed to the brink, who do we know who to trust when it seems that the perpetrator is someone we know. In ways it reminded me a little of Broadchurch, when the town folk are desperate to get the bottom of what happened and are eager to pin the blame on anyone if it means it’ll keep their town safe.

Overall I really enjoyed this read. If you’re a fan of cosy crime, you’ll love this book. Thank you to Harriet Cummings for sending me a copy to review. 

Publisher: Orion

Publication date: 20th April 2017

Print length: 320 pages

Sunday, 5 March 2017

The Escape by C.L. Taylor Book Review


When a stranger asks Jo Blackmore for a lift she says yes, then swiftly wishes she hadn't. The stranger knows Jo's name, she knows her husband Max, and she's got a glove belonging to Jo's two year old daughter, Elsie.

What begins with a subtle threat swiftly turns into a nightmare as the police, social serivces and even Jo's own husband turn against her.

No one believes that Elsie is in danger. But Jo knows there's only one way to keep your child safe - RUN.


C.L. Taylor lives in Bristol with her partner and son. She started writing fiction in 2005 and her short stories have won several awards and have been published by a variety of literary and women's magazines.

In 2014, The Bookseller named C.L. Taylor as one of the year's Bestselling Adult Fiction Debut Authors for The Accident. The Lie and The Missing were Sunday Times top 10 bestsellers in paperback, and both boots hit the #1 spot on the Kindle bestseller list. She has sold 1 million books to date.


C L Taylor is fast becoming one of my favourite writers. With each book she produces another gripping page turner and she always leaves me excited to read her next one.

In The Escape, Jo is approached one afternoon by a stranger who asks her for a lift. Jo is hesitant and keen to get away, but how can she say no to this woman who says she is a neighbour. Reluctantly Jo offers her a lift but things suddenly take a swift, twisted turn. The woman threatens Jo and her daughter, Elsie, Jo has no idea who this woman is but she knows Jo’s husband and says that he has something that she wants him to return to her. And it isn’t over there for Jo, things soon go from bad to worse and Jo is forced to take a dangerous leap in taking her daughter across the sea to her childhood town in Ireland.

The Escape is a fast paced, hard hitting page turner. At the heart of the novel is Jo's marriage to Max. What is really going on in their world, who are we to believe? The last few chapters of this book really had me on tenterhooks, it took a direction that I completely wasn't expecting. I don't think I'll be forgetting about this one for a long while.

I don't want to talk anymore about the plot here as I do not want to spoil this for other readers, but if you love an edge on your seat thriller, you'll love The Escape!  

C L Taylor has created another masterpiece with this one, it certainly didn't take me long to finish it. Thank you to Helena Sheffield at Avon Books for sending me a copy to review. 

Publisher: Avon

Publication date: 23rd March 2017

Print length: 432 pages

Saturday, 4 March 2017

Let the Dead Speak by Jane Casey Book Review


In the chilling new crime novel from award-winning author Jane Casey, Detective Maeve Kerrigan and the murder squad must navigate a web of lies to discover the truth...

A murder without a body
Eighteen-year-old Chloe Emery returns to her West London home one day to find the house covered in blood and Kate, her mother, gone. There may not be a body, but everything else points to murder.

A girl too scared to talk
Maeve Kerrigan is young, ambitious and determined to prove she's up to her new role as detective sergeant. She suspects Chloe is holding something back, but her best friend Bethany Norris won't let Maeve get close. What exactly is Bethany protecting Chloe from?

A detective with everything to prove
As the team dig deeper into the residents of Valerian Road, no one is above suspicion. All Maeve needs is one person to talk, but that's not going to happen. Because even in a case of murder, some secrets are too terrible to share...


Let The Dead Speak proves that Jane Casey is at the top of her game. Recently I have added her to my list of top favourite crime writers, I always look forward to her books and I know with confidence that each one I read will be excellent. Before I even started reading, I knew that Let The Dead Speak was going to be a five star read.

In Let The Dead Speak, a young girl, Chloe Emery, has returned home to find a disturbing scene. Her mother is missing but there is a hell of a lot of blood and the detectives investigating this case believe that her mother has been murdered. Maeve is now a DS and is taking her promotion very much in her stride. There is also a new member to the team DC Georgia Shaw, I think she’ll be a good addition to the series and I always like it when writers introduce new characters, particularly in a crime series. I never get tired of reading Maeve and DI Josh Derewent’s conversations; this is where Jane Casey really excels in her dialogue skills.

The first thing I have to say is that I for one would not like to live on this street, there are some crazy neighbours and there is the one person that everyone points the finger at when everything goes wrong. Jane Casey has created a pool of suspects and I love the way how she intricately moves between their lives and picks them apart as the detectives strive to get to the truth.

Although I have read all of Jane Casey’s previous Maeve Kerrigan novels, her books can be read as standalones, so if you are new to the series, you won’t need to have read the previous books to catch up. But once you finish Let The Dead Speak, you’ll definitely want to know more about Maeve and catch up on her previous outings. Jane Casey grips the reader from page one and doesn’t let you go until you have turned the final page. Her writing is seriously addictive and it doesn’t take me long to finish her books.

An intelligently plotted and gripping crime thriller. Thank you to Netgalley and the publisher for providing me with a copy to read. 

Publisher: Harper Collins

Publication date: 9th March 2017

Print length: 400 pages