Sunday, 30 December 2018

The Mother of all Christmases by Milly Johnson

The Mother of All ChristmasesThe Mother of All Christmases by Milly Johnson
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Time taken to read - in and out over 2 days

Pages - 400

Publisher - Simon & Schuster

Source - Bought signed edition from the author

Blurb from Goodreads

THE MOST PERFECT CHRISTMAS FEEL-GOOD READ!
'Every time you discover a new Milly book, it’s like finding a pot of gold' Heat

Eve Glace - co-owner of the theme park Winterworld - is having a baby and her due date is a perfectly timed 25th December. And she’s decided that she and her husband Jacques should renew their wedding vows with all the pomp that was missing the first time. But growing problems at Winterworld keep distracting them …

Annie Pandoro and her husband Joe own a small Christmas cracker factory, are well set up and happy together despite life never blessing them with a much-wanted child. But when Annie finds that the changes happening to her body aren’t typical of the menopause but pregnancy, her joy is uncontainable.

Palma Collins has agreed to act as a surrogate, hoping the money will get her out of the gutter in which she finds herself. But when the couple she is helping split up, is she going to be left carrying a baby she never intended to keep?

Annie, Palma and Eve all meet at the ‘Christmas Pudding Club’, a new directive started by a forward-thinking young doctor to help mums-to-be mingle and share their pregnancy journeys. Will this group help each other to find love, contentment and peace as Christmas approaches?




My Review

Eve, Annie and Palma all end up in the "Christmas Pudding Club" a new group supporting mums to be. Finding their feet as their bodies change they happen upon friendship which helps as they each battle with things in their personal lives. Palma was a womb for hire for a well to do couple who desperately want a baby. Annie had all but given up hope for having a baby, facing menopause she throws everything into her cracker factory with her hubby Joe. Eve and Jacques have all their focus on a winter theme park and have no time for extending their family, every focus is getting the park up and running yet things seem to be going wrong at every turn!

We meet each of the characters and glimpses into their lives and how they come to be in the club. Each has their own issues in life and we see how they deal with it and how their relationships blossom, struggle and interact.

It is a moving story you can't help but get invested in the characters and end up on a very emotive rollercoaster. Good guys and bad guys, kindness, dregs of humanity, greed, corruption, love, the circle of life it is a busy wee book and it was interesting to read about the cracker process, well I thought so. Each of the women are different and those they meet in the club, it is an interesting bunch of characters and I would have liked to have read more on each of them, the ones who don't play a huge part. The characters however well involved or little flashes all bring something to the tale and are carved out to make the reader want more, well I did. Humour, happiness, fun, sad, quirky and even some hard hitting serious issues dealt with respectfully. I do enjoy Johnson, I have yet to read one of hers I didn't like and I think this is one of her top books, 4.5/5 for me this time!

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Monday, 24 December 2018

Fatal Promise by Angela Marsons

Fatal Promise (D.I. Kim Stone, #9)Fatal Promise by Angela Marsons
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Time taken to read - 1 day

Pages - 409

Publisher - Bookouture

Source - Netgalley

Blurb from Goodreads

Eeeny meeny, miney, moe. Who lives, who dies only I know.

When the body of a doctor is discovered brutally murdered in local woodland, Detective Kim Stone is shocked to discover the victim is Gordon Cordell – a man linked to a previous case she worked on involving the death of a young school girl. Gordon has a chequered past, but who would want him dead?

As the investigation gets underway, Gordon’s son is involved in a horrific car crash which leaves him fighting for his life. Kim's sure this was no accident.

Then the body of a woman is found dead in suspicious circumstances and Kim makes a disturbing link between the victims and Russells Hall Hospital. The same hospital where Gordon worked.

With Kim and her team still grieving the loss of one of their own, they’re at their weakest and facing one of the most dangerous serial killers they’ve ever encountered. Everything is on the line. Can Kim keep her squad together and find the killer before he claims his next victim?

The killer is picking off his victims at a terrifying pace, and he’s not finished yet.


My Review

Kim and the team are still coming to terms with everything that transpired in the last book, if you haven't read it YOU NEED TO! Physically and psychologically Kim is recovering and desperate to be back at work, six weeks is long enough for any recovery surely. As per the department guidelines she needs to be declared fit for work but Kim has been burned before and will do things her way. On top of all of that there is a ruthless killer on the loose and paths clash with characters from the previous book, Kim and the team have their work cut out for them. A new detective is joining Kim's squad and each will have to deal with issues they would rather not and focus on catching the bad guy.

As with all Marson's books we have a new case and a brutal killer, the investigation is full on and the team are dealing with personal issues linked into work. This book has a lot of heart to it and it is hard to cover without spoilers, so forgive any vagueness. Love and loss will always be a big part of the job, Stone has always been an advocate and fierce warrior for the victims. This book we see her have internal struggles and trying to deal with it as Stone does, alone, shutting folk out and playing by her own rules. She is the glue that keeps the team together but we get to see a very vulnerable side to them all and I think any fan of the series would be hard pushed to not feel a bit emosh reading this book.

Stone is one of my fav characters, she is so socially awkward but a champion for the little people so you excuse her a lot and love her flaws. This book sees her raw and vulnerable even though she tries to hide it, the reader gets to see her in a new light. I think this book made me love the characters even more and forgive them a lot when some of their choices or behaviours weren't the best. The new guy is an interesting choice and from what we see I like, the book shows the reader that for all these guys we never really know everything about a person. Stone always keeps parts of herself hidden and with all of the team we get a wee bit more.

Really good pace, we get to hear from the killer in snippets throughout the book, there is a lot of high emotions running in the book which spill out into the reader. Action, friendships, love, loss, murder, team building, personal growth, motive, ooft we have a bit of everything in this one. For a series on its 9th book you worry something will be lost or lessen but so far Marsons has managed to smash it and keep it fresh. I cannot wait to see what is next in store for these guys, 5/5 for me, roll on the next. Also, just to note, if you have never read these books, I started them earlier in the year, June, and have devoured them all, do yourself a favour and grab the first, Silent Scream, you won't look back!



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Sunday, 23 December 2018

The Nightingale Girls by Donna Douglas

The Nightingale Girls (Nightingales #1)The Nightingale Girls by Donna Douglas
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Time taken to read - in and out over 2 days

Pages - 512

Publisher - Arrow

Source - Bookstore

Blurb from Goodreads

Three very different girls sign up as student nurses in January 1936, while England is still mourning the death of George V. Dora is a tough East Ender, driven by ambition, but also desperate to escape her squalid, overcrowded home and her abusive stepfather. Helen is the quiet one, a mystery to her fellow nurses, avoiding fun, gossip and the limelight. In fact she is in the formidable shadow of her overbearing mother, who dominates every aspect of her life. Can a nursing career free Helen at last? The third of our heroines is naughty, rebellious Millie -- aka Lady Camilla -- an aristocrat on the run from her conventional upper class life. She is doomed to clash over and over again with terrifying Sister Hyde and to get into scrape after scrape especially where men are concerned. This utterly delightful novel brings a London pre-war hospital vividly to life.


My Review

Dora is an unlikely candidate to succeed and train as one of The Nightingale Girls, she isn't polished, poor and has a secret. Helen is avoided by almost all other nurses/students as the daughter of one of the hospital leaders she cannot be trusted and she has priors but is all as it seems with Helen? And Millie, a lady of worth who really doesn't need to do nursing yet she loves it and wants to see it through despite her grand mother just wanting to marry her off! The three are thrown together under the strict rule of the matrons, their superiors and nurses who run a tight shift and take no nonsense. Pass with flying colours, keep your nose clean or you are out!

Nurse training in the 1930s, surnames only, no fraternising with males, starched uniforms and rules rules rules. Learning on the job and knowing your place, we follow the story through three of the main characters, each with their own problems. Helen wants to be the best she can be but lives in a very minimal existence with her mother controlling every aspect of her life. Dora is escaping abuse and poverty to learn how to nurse and make something of herself and Millie just wants to be Millie and not have to worry about catching someones eye and giving the estate and heir.

Whilst there is a lot centred around nursing the heart of the book is on relationships, the girls, their colleagues, their families and why they behave the way they do. Abuse features in the book, not in great detail but enough for you to be livid and disgusted. This is the first book in a series and I cannot wait to see what is in store for the characters. Love, personal growth, courage, recovery, family and of course nursing. I do enjoy books like this and look forward to the next, I have a few in my tbr, and ordered another, 4/5 for me this time.




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Friday, 21 December 2018

10-33 Assist PC by Desmond P Ryan

10-33 Assist PC (Mike O'Shea Crime Fiction Book 1)10-33 Assist PC by Desmond P. Ryan
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Time taken to read - in and out over 4 days

Pages - 177

Publisher - self

Source - Review Copy

Blurb from Goodreads

D/C Mike O’Shea, a young cop with a knack for working hard and following hunches, is on the verge of cracking a prostitution ring when an undercover from another unit burns him. With only days left before their pimps shuttle the girls out of the country, Mike pushes his team into overdrive. Hours later, with too little information, sleep, or luck, the unthinkable happens.

And now, the chase is personal.

In the first of the Mike O’Shea Crime Fiction Series, 10-33 Assist PC draws us into the dirty world of human trafficking through the eyes of the cops who put their lives on the line every day to shut it down. Written by a Real Detective, 10-33 Assist PC is the story of a cop who must decide how to move forward without forgetting the past.

Real Detective. Real Crime. Fiction.


My Review

We meet two of the Juvenile Prostitution Task Force, Mike and Sal who have a pretty horrendous job to do. Investigating the disappearance of young impressionable girls who are drawn into a dark and depraved world, often not to be seen again. Whilst chasing a lead on a missing kid they come up against another agency giving the reader an insight to just how many obstacles these guys face in house, on the streets, with the families, the list goes on, the danger is real!

Heads up, if swearing bothers you you will have an issue because Mike swears every other word, be it with other cops, families or suspects his mouth is going. Sal is a bit of a sweetie with a weakness for sunflowers seeds and leaving the shells around to get into everything, much to the rage of Mike. The two are a bit ying and yang but work well and it is sweet to see their relationship grow as they work together, eat together and bounce off one another.

The book itself has some humour depsite the darkness of some parts, we are dealing with sexual deviants exploiting kids/teens. As with most jobs that deal with dark sides of humanity humour is often used to deal with it. There are some really brutal and graphic scenes that send the reader on an emotive journey. I took a wee bit to settle into the book and them bam, about three quarters in, when I thought I knew where the book was going, the rug was pulled out from under me. I actually sat bolt upright and from then on I couldn't put the book down, I had to know where it was headed. I think this is a good foundation book, we have a good insight into the characters personalities, who they are and some big impacts to their lives. I look forward to seeing what the next book holds for these characters and what Ryan brings next, 3.5/5 for me this time. Thanks to Bakers Blog Tours for introducing me to a new author, I will be actively looking for their next offering.

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Thursday, 20 December 2018

The Alchemyst by Michael Scott

The Alchemyst (The Secrets of the Immortal Nicholas Flamel, #1)The Alchemyst by Michael Scott
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Time taken to read - in and out over 3 days

Pages - 390

Publisher - Corgi Childrens

Source - Bought from an American bookstore

Blurb from Goodreads


Nicholas Flamel was born in Paris on 28 September 1330. Nearly seven hundred years later, he is acknowledged as the greatest Alchemyst of his day. It is said that he discovered the secret of eternal life. The records show that he died in 1418. But his tomb is empty and Nicholas Flamel lives. The secret of eternal life is hidden within the book he protects - the Book of Abraham the Mage. It's the most powerful book that has ever existed. In the wrong hands, it will destroy the world. And that's exactly what Dr. John Dee plans to do when he steals it. Humankind won't know what's happening until it's too late. And if the prophecy is right, Sophie and Josh Newman are the only ones with the power to save the world as we know it. Sometimes legends are true. And Sophie and Josh Newman are about to find themselves in the middle of the greatest legend of all time.


My Review

Josh Newman works in a bookstore with Nick Fleming alongside his wife. Josh's twin works in a wee cafe across the road, the twins are pretty close with their parents always working away on digs and what not. When a perfectly ordinary day turns into kidnap, monsters, magic and myths and legends that turn out to be true Josh and Sophie can't quite believe the new world they are in. Nick Fleming is none other than the famous Nicholas Flamel, the bad guys have stolen something and Nicholas must get it back or say goodbye to the world as we know it. Along for the ride are the twins and once they get their heads around the magic and danger they may need to accept another truth, one that could change their relationship forever.

Ahhhh I seen this book in a wee shop when on holiday in America, I was drawn to the cover and recognised the name Flamel from the Harry Potter movies. Once I read the blurb I figured I would give the book a bash, I really really liked it. Myths, legends, magic, relationships, friendship, bravery, deception ooft it has a bit of everything. Whilst is isn't Harry Potter it is a different slant on a world of magic and fabulousness and I just love stuff like that.

Danger, bravery, sacrifice, old feuds you name it we have a bit of everything, action pretty much from the opening chapters and it keeps up as it races along. I love the relationship between the twins and you aren't quite sure where it is going to go, then you think you have it worked out but no! I love when a book does that to you. A fantastic start to a new series and I have popped the next few books on my wishlist and if I don't get them for Christmas I will be buying them soon after. If you like magic mixed with some of our legends and myths I think you will really enjoy this book, we all need a wee bit of magic sometimes and this book is a great world to escape into, 4/5 for me this time. First dance with Scott it certainly won't be my last that is for sure!

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Tuesday, 18 December 2018

Bone Lines by Stephanie Bretherton Blog Tour




Today I am closing the tour for Bone Lines by Stephanie Bretherton, if you missed the previous stops please check them out as everyone offers different material. Out to buy NOW, ebook and treebook format, CLICK HERE.





I do like this book cover, remember when I never used to bother with covers and now I am a bit of a cover tramp, love so many of them now!





You can find Stephanie on Twitter and on Facebook


My stop offers a wee extract post for the book, enjoy!

BONE LINES - EXTRACT


As the dawn tumbled through her tall windows and nestled beside her in the empty spaces of her bed, Eloise awoke, long before her alarm. Even before the plaintive cries of Newton, the belly-bloated old cat that seemed to love her. Although she knew this was also the kind of ‘love’ that was spread liberally around the neighbourhood and to anyone who would feed him. Eloise also knew that this was a sad old cliché. Single woman with cat. Oh well, never mind, she comforted herself in her habitual fashion. She cared little for what anyone thought of her anymore (the sabotage of self-loathing notwithstanding) and she had, for the most part, made peace with her decisions. But perhaps the time had come to consider getting a dog?

Dogs had been the consistent company of her childhood. Her surrogate sisters and brothers, how could her parents have denied her? Often these had been strays adopted at some foreign archaeological dig, against all advice, against all reason and always with the warning that she (and the poor bewildered hound) would suffer through six months of quarantine to bring it back to England. But Eloise was nothing if not determined when it came to saving things – and it always felt more than worth the trouble in the end. Especially with Won Ton, the mangy but determined little mongrel rescued from a cage at the back of a restaurant in Kuala Lumpur one summer, while on their way home from a sweat-soaked dig in the Bujang Valley.

This love of animals had been painfully tested along the scientific path and some terrible compromises had been made, even if Eloise had always been persuaded of the ‘greater good’ and, wherever possible, had avoided that kind of research. She could not deny, however, that innocence had been lost – and she felt unworthy these days of all that trust. All that unquestioning love.

Even when Newton had come into her life and chosen to stay it had seemed like his decision more than her own. Was she ready for a trip to Battersea, for a tour of the adoption cages and the agony of choosing? Oh Lord, she asked herself, how on earth would Newton cope with a canine interloper? Probably by deserting her for good in favour of less treacherous neighbours. No. No dog, not yet. Better not. Not with the start of this exhilarating new endeavour. Eloise knew she would be unable to offer the kind of dedication that such genuine devotion deserved.

Was it so important to be loved, she wondered? Better to be respected and remembered, surely. To be of service. (If not always agreed with.) Certainly her work as part of the team that had unravelled the human genome had not always been well-received. The full picture had confirmed not only how closely humanity was related but also how recently connected by common ancestry, indicating a global population crash, or series of crashes, in particular between 70,000 and 80,000 years ago. No one cause for this was clear but geological and climatic volatility, or other natural crises, seemed to have reduced humanity to barely viable populations at times. It seemed incredible that Homo sapiens had succeeded as a species at all. And yet, it was these kinds of genetic ‘bottleneck’ and ‘drift’ events that had influenced both DNA and human destiny so profoundly.

At first, colleagues in China had not been best pleased with some of the revelations from the genome project, local orthodoxy preferring to believe they had evolved entirely separately, from a much older stock of humanity. But most had acknowledged a more recent shared heritage with stoicism, if not complete conviction. For apart from tiny traces of DNA from archaic hominins who’d made earlier explorations, it was clear that all modern humans owed the majority of their blueprint to those few Homo sapiens in Africa who’d survived such crises, before spreading out once more.

Yet controversy arose with each new piece of the archaeological puzzle. Eloise was given to despair on several occasions as fringe elements found excuses in the latest evidence to interpret or justify some cherished belief. And as for the die-hard racists, how could they ever accept that we all owed so much to a handful of African mothers? That we remained so similar, so brotherly bound and demonstrably equal in potential. The New Age fantasists, although well-intentioned at least, were little better in her estimation, with their hare-brained hallucinations about extra-terrestrial or angelic intervention.

To Eloise, the knowledge of our tightly knit kinship was priceless. Mere fractions of differentiation. She might be growing increasingly grumpy with each diminishing ovum, but she remained a humanitarian at heart. Obviously the fundamentalists, of any faith, were out of the equation before you could say Darwin (or Dawkins) but ultimately, with time and the opening up of minds, she hoped that this molecular siblinghood would bring only good. Unity in diversity, the Galapagoan bequest. Perhaps in only another generation or so?

Eloise peeled herself away from the creamy tangles of her bedlinen, keen to prepare for a momentous day. Newton, aware now that something had shifted in the mood of this large and well-loved but little-changing home, followed her around with an insistent curiosity.

Fukushima Dreams by Zelda Rhiando Blog Tour

Today I am closing the blog tour for Fukushima Dreams by Zelda Rhiando, each stop offers different content so if you missed them please check them out.





About the book




Fukishima Dreams by Zelda Rhiando

* Paperback: 224 pages

* Publisher: Unbound Digital (19 Dec. 2017)

* Language: English

* ISBN-10: 1911586882

* ISBN-13: 978-1911586883

Amazon: https://www.amazon.co.uk/Fukushima-Dreams-Zelda-Rhiando/dp/1911586882/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1542208802&sr=1-1&keywords=fukushima+dreams

BLURB Sachiko and her husband Harry live in a village on the North-east coast of Japan. They are both struggling to adapt to life as new parents to their infant son Tashi. In the aftermath of the tsunami, Sachiko wakes alone. Her family is missing. She begins a desperate search until radiation fallout from the Fukushima power plant forces her to leave the area. She moves to Tokyo, and a different life. Harry has fled to a refuge on an isolated mountain, abandoning his family. He lives there, haunted by guilt and hovering on the edge of sanity. Will they find each other and confront the question of their missing son?

ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Zelda Rhiando was born in Dublin and read English Literature at Cambridge. She lives in South London with her husband, two daughters and four cats, and is one of the founders of the Brixton BookJam. She is the author of two novels, Caposcripti and Fukushima Dreams.




Website: http://www.badzelda.com/ Twitter : @badzelda



I have a wee extract, enjoy

For a long time – she didn’t know how long – there had been nothing. A kind of dream-nothing that she floated in; a mist that some- times receded and showed the edges of the world. But still, she was not in the world. She made what brief contact was required, and then she was back in the nothing place.

The nothing place needs no thought: it is an eternal now. Balanced between past and future, here there is no colour. No sound. It’s like being wrapped in cotton wool, except there is no sensation of soft- ness. It is neither comforting, nor terrifying. She doesn’t know how long she’s been here. It has been a long time.

Somewhere out there is life – but she has been here for so long it seems that she doesn’t remember the other place, the route back. It is lost in the mists sometime. That’s the place where her body is, but she doesn’t need it any more. It’s fine here.

She doesn’t think, and she doesn’t know. But she dreams.

The dreams are tiny moments; pearls on a wire. She cannot tell if they are memories or constructions. Fragments from her childhood: the joy of a sketch perfectly executed; opening her lunchbox to find her favourite kind of plum; smiling up at eyes that were smiling down; lighting the New Year candles. Were these moments in her life that she’s returning to?

There are other dreams, other memories.

Is that her signing the marriage register? Crying with the pain of labour? Holding that pillow, sick with the knowledge of what came next? She learns to tell when they are coming and dives back into the mist. They’re part of him, of them, of those two men in her life that she’s in flight from. Her husband. Her son.

She likes it best when there is nothing, when she is floating bodiless in a void of her own making, a place where there are no demands on her time, or on her emotions. She is swimming in an endless sea. She can be free there.

One minute she was there in the mist – and the next everything was collapsing around her. The world was shaking. From inside cup- boards dusty boxes that hadn’t seen the light of day for months came crashing down – their contents striking her, pulling her back into the world. She pulled the covers over her head to protect herself, and lay on the bed, curled up. Slowly she let her ears pick out sounds from the general chaos. Outside the apartment block she could hear, hardly muffled, a colossal grinding and rumbling, and beneath it, the sound of human screams. Earthquake! Sirens wailed a warning, ‘Get out! Get out! Get out!’

She ran into the other room. Here too everything was in disorder, all of the small elements of life tossed around as though by a giant child in a tantrum. The child! He wasn’t there. And where was Harry? Had he gone running again? The baby-sling swung crazily on its hook, near the empty bouncer. She turned to the door.

And that was when everything collapsed. She was engulfed in cold black water. She was blind and breathless. She was barely aware of objects hitting her as she clawed for air – no sense of up or down. And then everything was dark and she knew no more.



二 It wasn’t that strange, someone running. Everyone was running, screaming, crouching on the ground, with arms held over their heads. The warning siren wailed and aftershocks still rocked the earth. I didn’t trust myself to keep my feet, but I had to get away.

In the distance, faster than seemed possible, a black wall of water was creeping up the streets of Taro. Boats and bits of wood floated on its crest and splintered buildings screamed in protest as it passed. I had a head start – I could outrun it. This would be my only chance to save myself – to actually save my life. I lengthened my stride, feeling the pleasurable burn of warming muscles.

Soon I had run right out of town, following the road that wound up through the mountains. I was heading inland, to the forested areas where nature was left to go her own way, and casual visitors were rare.

I stopped to catch my breath. I was used to running. That had been a constant in my life – when everything went wrong, I could go running, and rejoice in the physical control I had over my body: the speed, the freedom. I knew I could get a long way if I could only pace myself.

What had happened back there? Living in Japan I had grown used to tremors, and the constant grumblings of the continental plates. But this was different – this was really big – as big as the Hanshin quake of ’95 at least. The giant waves that had destroyed the town had surely caused more far-reaching destruction. All change again! With a quake of that magnitude, there would be strong aftershocks for days. If there was going to be any more of that, I wanted to be on higher ground.

The earthquake hadn’t been part of my plans – but, having made the decision to leave, it had provided the perfect cover.

But I’m getting ahead of myself.

I had decided to abandon her on a grey afternoon in March. I considered telling her, making one last attempt to fix things. But when I went into our bedroom she lay with her face to the wall, as she had for weeks. Her eyes were closed. I waited a long moment before starting to pack.

I had been stockpiling foodstuffs, warm clothes and bedding for weeks already, in a little shack that I had stumbled across on one of my regular runs, but at this time of year the cold would be the biggest issue. I pulled on a warm parka and waterproof trousers and threw my notebooks, pens and a few snacks into a small satchel, and turned to look at her one last time. There was no sign that she was aware of the world at all.

Then, beneath my feet, the floor had begun to shake. I fell. I remember striking my head. All around me plates were falling from shelves and smashing; pictures flew from the walls. I wanted to get out, but I couldn’t stay on my feet. I grabbed whatever handholds I could find, and made it out onto the street.

There had been screaming and a loud grinding, rumbling noise, then a deafening roar that sounded like a thousand airplanes. Earth- quake? I didn’t immediately make the connection, but then it clicked. We were near the sea. Tsunami.

For several long moments I considered going back into the house, to try to stir my wife. But it was too late. She would not respond. I could not get through. Sirens began to wail, sounding the warning. It was 3.51pm. I turned my face inland and started running in earnest.

Before long I found myself in the forest, with a quiet hiking track stretched out before me. It was very quiet, and glancing at my watch I saw it was only 4.30pm. It hadn’t taken me long to leave the chaos behind.

I looked back down the path I had taken, a path that had started behind the cemetery at the edge of town. It was a regular run – I knew where it went – soon it would join up with the hiking trails of the local nature preserve, a place I had escaped to regularly since we had moved north. The land rose sharply from the coast, and was heavily forested. Further inland, where the crags were highest, the restricted zone started, and just inside this zone I had discovered an abandoned shack some months before.

In that small, dilapidated retreat in the woods I could think straight, away from the life that had become intolerable to me. So far I had rarely stayed overnight; guilt had always dragged me back to family life, to her and the child; but the peace had come to seem more and more seductive. Bringing cans and noodles and other imperishable foodstuffs had come to seem like insurance for the future, for the moment I chose to disappear. I had squirrelled away several caches in case one or more of them were discovered. I had always been planning on leaving, but it was a question of when.

Monday, 17 December 2018

Target Alex Cross by James Patterson

Target: Alex Cross (Alex Cross, #26)Target: Alex Cross by James Patterson
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Time taken to read - on and off over 3 days

Pages - 414

Publisher - Century

Source - Review Copy

Blurb from Goodreads

TARGET: HEAD OF STATE

A leader has fallen, and the procession route from Capitol Hill to the White House is lined with hundreds of thousands of mourners. None feel the loss of a President more keenly than Alex Cross, who has devoted his life to the public good.

TARGET: UNITED STATES CABINET

A sniper’s bullet strikes a target in the heart of DC. Alex Cross’s wife, Bree Stone, newly elevated chief of DC detectives, faces an ultimatum: solve the case, or lose the position for which she’s worked her entire career. The Secret Service and the FBI deploy as well in the race to find the shooter. Alex is tasked by the new President to take a personal role with the FBI, leading an investigation unprecedented in scale and scope.

TARGET: ALEX CROSS

Alex has a horrible premonition: is the sniper’s strike only the beginning of a larger attack on the nation? It isn’t long before his fears explode into life, and the nation plunges into a full-blown Constitutional crisis. His ingenuity, his training, and his capacity for battle are tested beyond limits in the most far-reaching and urgently consequential case of his life. As the rule of law is shattered by chaos, and Alex fights to isolate a suspect, Alex’s loyalty may be the biggest danger of all.


My Review

Lets open with just saying I LOVE Alex Cross, I love reading about his family and adventures so I am always delighted to pick up one of this series. Alex has left force but still gets called in to help out and this case needs all the help it can get. There is a killer in town and the target is high profile, who would dare and how can they get away with such an outrageous attack. As the story unfolds we may have more than one target and Alex Cross has to get involved in the thick of it to try and work out who is next, who is pulling the strings and why before the clock runs out.

We open with a funeral and skip to five days later, there are many important decisions to be made after the death of a prominent figure in the government. We then open to an assassin, going through the motions as he prepares to take out his target. This kicks off a chain of events, ruthless killers, high profile targets and some of the most shocking and daring murders we have seen in a Patterson book and lets face it, that is no mean feat.

The book keeps up a fast pace and at times I was left aghast at how accessible some of these prominent targets could be. Yes it is fiction but still it is so well written and lets face it we have in our history prominent figures and leaders targeted so it isn't outwith the realms of possibility.

I like the family aspect of these books, we always have a murder case and some cat and mouse but there is always a bit of Alex's family life. We get wee snippets in this book but not as much as before, I suppose with so many bad guys and plots afoot unless the book is longer something needs limited.

Action packed, some very smart criminals and daring plots that will keep you on your toes. As I said I love the Cross books so may be a wee bit biased as I haven't read one I disliked yet. Short chapters which means even on busy days you can still sneak a wee chapter or five in. I haven't read all the books in order, I generally grab them as I find them so you could read this as a standalone however I would suggest starting at the beginning because they are pretty great books. 4/5 for me this time, good crime fiction with a bit of everything in it plus I was just jaw dropped at some of the antics and daring of the bad guys!



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Sunday, 16 December 2018

A Winter Beneath the Stars by Jo Thomas Blog Tour

Today is my stop on the blog tour for A Winter Beneath the Starts by Jo Thomas, I am sharing my spot with Books and Lovely Things please check the other stops out as we all offer something different.





You can find Jo on Twitter and on Facebook





Some info on the book





Book cover and you can buy your own copy now in ebook or tree book format, CLICK HERE.





A Winter Beneath the Stars: lose yourself in a heartwarming and feel-good romantic comedy for the winterA Winter Beneath the Stars: lose yourself in a heartwarming and feel-good romantic comedy for the winter by Jo Thomas
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Time taken to read - < 1 day

Pages - 368

Publisher - Headline Review

Source - Review Copy

Blurb from Goodreads

Escape to snowy Sweden in the gorgeous new novel from the author of Late Summer in the Vineyard and Sunset Over the Cherry Orchard. Fans of Jill Mansell and Milly Johnson will love this unforgettable winter story from Jo Thomas.

Halley has been running from her problems for years.

On a courier trip to Tallfors, deep in Swedish Lapland, everything is going to plan. Halley has her bag, with two precious wedding rings inside for delivery... until she doesn't.

The only way to save the wedding is to team up with mysterious reindeer herder Bjorn, the one person who can lead her across the snowy tundra to be reunited with her bag.

On a journey of a lifetime beneath the stars, with only the reindeer and a bad-tempered stranger for company beside the fire, Halley realises that she will need to confront her past heartaches in order to let the warmth of love in once more...


My Review

Halley is a courier, delivering goods all over, it works for her because Halley enjoys making people happy, travelling and staying away from home with her husband being away. Halley captures where she has been, what she has done and seen in her journal to share with her husband. This time she is delivering wedding rings to Tallfors in Lapland, snow, reindeer and a wedding what could go wrong? With a bag switch Halley has to push herself and rely on the help of a stranger to get reunited with her bag, the only way to travel is by Reindeer and the grumpy Bjorn who seems to prefer animals to humans.

The cover SCREAMS Christmas, it has snow, reindeer and a wedding, it isn't a Christmas story but it gives you everything Christmassy. I absolutely loved the feel of this book, I knew it was about delivering something for a wedding and a bag switch but that was it, the book is so much more. It has so many layers, it is emotive, fun, Christmas without being in your face Christmas, family, trust, secrets, self discovery. The book just keeps giving, it has a lot of themes but they all flow seamlessly. The author has a way of making the book focus on one issue with underlying layers and then BOOM they all come together and a wee ooft the rug out from under my feet. I LOVE when an author does that, almost like magic, you are focusing on one aspect of the story and then there is more you weren't quite expecting.

I loved learning about the reindeer, how they are kept, sorted, moved, the huskies, the snow, travelling uck I could go on and on. The was one or two small scenes I was a we bit iffy with in relation to the animals, when they are travelling and surviving in the wild, educational and the respect for the animals as a whole, it is an eye opener. It is such a lovely story overall and my first seasonal read. This was my first dance with Thomas, it won't be my last, I will be checking out her back catalogue., 4.5/5 for me this time.



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Friday, 14 December 2018

A Christmas Gift by Sue Moorcroft

A Christmas GiftA Christmas Gift by Sue Moorcroft
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Time taken to read - < 2 days

Pages - 384

Publisher - Avon

Source - Review Copy

Blurb from Goodreads

Georgine loves Christmas. The festive season always brings the little village of Middledip to life. But since her ex-boyfriend walked out, leaving her with crippling debts, Georgine’s struggled to make ends meet.

To keep her mind off her worries, she throws herself into organising the Christmas show at the local school. And when handsome Joe Blackthorn becomes her assistant, Georgine’s grateful for the help. But there’s something about Joe she can’t quite put her finger on. Could there be more to him than meets the eye?

Georgine’s past is going to catch up with her in ways she never expected. But can the help of friends new and old make this a Christmas to remember after all?

Curl up with the gorgeous new book from the Sunday Times bestseller, perfect for fans of Carole Matthews and Trisha Ashley.



My Review

Georgine is struggling, once a girl from a wealthy family who wanted for nothing to working in a school and living from paycheck to paycheck. Her ex boyfriend has left her with a ton of debt, baliffs at the door and he is MIA. Concentrating on work and getting through the bills she gets a new assistant, Joe Blackthorn, he is attractive, a bit standoffish initially but good at what he does. Concentrating on making the school show the best it can be, dealing with family issues, her relationship breakdown, Georgine needs a break in life. When she spends more time with Joe it seems there is much more to him that she initially thought!

Oh you guys, this is my first dance with this author and it won't be my last, also my first festive book of the year. I love a book that has nice people in it and we get to meet Georgine and her family and just how much she does for them. She seems such a nice girl and her recent ex just needed a slap with reality and responsibility. We all know folk like this and in a world were so many are out for themselves it is so nice to meet characters who are good eggs!

Relationships are a huge part of this book, work relationships, friendships, partners, families and some of the struggles that many of us have experienced. Money, horrible exes, siblings, looking after a sick relative, money woes. Even with sadder aspects in the book it is actually a feel good type read with heaps of realism in it. The struggle is absolutely real for Georgine and when life pushes she just keeps going and we watch her struggle along but keep the spirit. She has great faith in her students and I just love reading about folk who actually love and enjoy what they do. I loved the musical aspects of the book, we all can imagine the corruption within the musical world and whilst it isn't a huge aspect of the book, where it features it is done really well. I really enjoyed this wee book, this may have been the first dance with this author but it won't be my last 4/5 for me this time!



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Wednesday, 12 December 2018

The Trap by Melanie Raabe

The TrapThe Trap by Melanie Raabe
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Time taken to read - 2 days

Pages - 352

Publisher - Grand central Publishing

Source - The Works

Blurb from Goodreads

In this twisted debut thriller, a reclusive author sets the perfect trap for her sister's murderer -- but is he really the killer?

For 11 years, the bestselling author Linda Conrads has mystified fans by never setting foot outside her home. Haunted by the unsolved murder of her younger sister--who she discovered in a pool of blood--and the face of the man she saw fleeing the scene, Linda's hermit existence helps her cope with debilitating anxiety. But the sanctity of her oasis is shattered when she sees her sister's murderer on television. Hobbled by years of isolation, Linda resolves to use the plot of her next novel to lay an irresistible trap for the man. As the plan is set in motion and the past comes rushing back, Linda's memories -- and her very sanity -- are called into question. Is this man a heartless killer or merely a helpless victim?


My Review

Linda is a successful author, she lives in a very small world, her home. After her sister died, murdered, she has became a recluse, agoraphobic and for over a decade has kept that existence with her dog. When a voice from her past sparks a fire in her world she knows she can't stop until she brings justice to the person who has kept her prisoner in her own home and took her sister from her.

This is different for a debut, we have a bit of an unreliable character, she struggles to engage with the outside world. When she happens upon the voice of the man who killed her sister she needs to act, the police didn't help then would they now?

So Linda isn't a loveable character although you get used to her after a bit. She has been devastated by her sisters death and we see her overcome many issues to get closure. The book follows her plan to catch a killer and we also have a story within a story when she writes a "fictional" account of what really happened to draw in the killer. I found this format a bit hard to get used to, the second story, I felt, took forever to get to the point. The plan to get the killer was a bit out there but it is interesting to watch her plan, prepare and plot.

Whilst there is a murder and a bit of cat and mouse, there is also the whole relationships, personal growth and coming to terms with many issues within her life. I thought it was a good story although I didn't love the second story, I felt it detracted and took a bit to get to the point. Otherwise an interesting plot and daring plan from a woman practically housebound to take on the person who murdered her sister and changed her whole life. 3/5 for me this time, I look forward to seeing what this author brings out next.

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Sunday, 9 December 2018

The Last Witness by Denzil Meyrick

The Last Witness (DCI Daley #2)The Last Witness by Denzil Meyrick
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Time taken to read - in and out over 3 days

Pages - 320

Publisher - Polygon

Source - Waterstones

Blurb from Goodreads

James Machie was a man with a genius for violence, his criminal empire spreading beyond Glasgow into the UK and mainland Europe. Fortunately, James Machie is dead, assassinated in the back of a prison ambulance following his trial and conviction.

But now, five years later, he is apparently back from the grave, set on avenging himself on those who brought him down. Top of his list is his previous associate, Frank MacDougall, who unbeknownst to D.C.I. Jim Daley, is living under protection on his lochside patch, the small Scottish town of Kinloch. Daley knows that, having been the key to Machie’s conviction, his old friend and colleague D.S. Scott is almost as big a target. And nothing, not even death, has ever stood in James Machie’s way.



My Review

James Machie was one of the most brutal criminals Daley and Scott had to deal with before he was killed. Now it seems the impossible has happened, Machie is back, he is on a killing mission and has no problems hiding it. The police are freaked out, the people that betrayed him know he is coming for them but how do you defend yourself against a ghost?

A brutal killing opens the book, a few years later someone in witness protection/relocation is horrifically killed. The killer happy to show his face has the cops confused, weirded out and knowing it can't be him, can it? The hunt is on for the killer, the police have to move quickly before the killer gets to his targets. He is taunting them and the chase is on, who will die next and how is the killer back from the dead?

I do enjoy Meyricks writing, the characters are great and love or hate them you want to know what is coming next. As well as the killer and threat to the officers lives we have the politics within the police ranks and Daley's personal life and woes. Sometimes when you have the personal aspect as well as the crimes it can be frustrating or dull, not so with Daley. I always want to know what is coming next for him, he is such a decent guy and you are always rooting for the team. The book as with the first one has some Scottish humour in the way the team/locals interact which I love, it is true to life in the way small communities are with their own and if you don't laugh it will minimally draw a smile from you. I have all the other books to read and cannot wait to see what is coming next 4.5/5 for me this time.



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Wednesday, 5 December 2018

A Spark of Light by Jodi Picoult

A Spark of LightA Spark of Light by Jodi Picoult
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Time taken to read - over 2 days

Pages - 352

Publisher - Ballantine Books

Source - Watersones (I think)

Blurb from Goodreads

The warm fall day starts like any other at the Center—a women’s reproductive health services clinic—its staff offering care to anyone who passes through its doors. Then, in late morning, a desperate and distraught gunman bursts in and opens fire, taking all inside hostage.

After rushing to the scene, Hugh McElroy, a police hostage negotiator, sets up a perimeter and begins making a plan to communicate with the gunman. As his phone vibrates with incoming text messages he glances at it and, to his horror, finds out that his fifteen-year-old daughter, Wren, is inside the clinic.

But Wren is not alone. She will share the next and tensest few hours of her young life with a cast of unforgettable characters: A nurse who calms her own panic in order save the life of a wounded woman. A doctor who does his work not in spite of his faith but because of it, and who will find that faith tested as never before. A pro-life protester disguised as a patient, who now stands in the cross hairs of the same rage she herself has felt. A young woman who has come to terminate her pregnancy. And the disturbed individual himself, vowing to be heard.

Told in a daring and enthralling narrative structure that counts backward through the hours of the standoff, this is a story that traces its way back to what brought each of these very different individuals to the same place on this fateful day.


My Review

We open at five pm, in The Center, a place for women's reproductive health (among other things) and very much known for the place where abortions take place. It has seen many things, every day it encounters the protesters, today is different, today we have a gun man, a hostage situation and it is late in the day. Wren is fifteen and contemplating death/dying, something before today had not been in her priorities or mind. We meet George Goddard - the gun man, Hugh McElroy - the negotiator, Janine, Izzy, Bex, Louie Ward, Olive, Joy, Harriet & Vonita - all characters who have been in The Center or are when the gun man changes everyone's lives.

The story has no chapters, we have time stamps as we go back and forth on the day but also prior to the day as we get some back story on the characters. It took me a wee bit to settle to this format, Picoult is a great writer and she does make it work but it did take a bit of getting used to and distracting at some parts. The story captures the reader very quickly as we know from the offset the situation and as we delve in we get a bit more info of the characters and what has transpired prior to five pm.

You know from the blurb abortion features in the book, it is the centre of the attack. I don't think I was prepared for the detail of the abortion parts, I just didn't think it would be as graphic. It isn't a huge part of the book but the parts it does feature it is explicit and I had to put the book down for a wee bit and go back to it so just an FYI for anyone picking it up.

There are so many themes to this one, Picoult always does a great job highlighting prejudices, judging people and showing different sides of the coin. It is a book that gives food for thought and will push on some of the emotive feels for most if not all readers. This is not a book for the faint hearted, anything featuring abortion and extremism, double standards, murder will always evoke strong emotions. It also looks at families, relationships, what leads people to abortion, actions and consequences, life, death, love - it has a lot going on! I always enjoy Picoult books, she has a way of getting under the readers skin and making them question their own opinions/judgements. I felt the ending came to quick and I was left a big hanging and whilst it isn't on any major things I just like to know everything, 3.5/5 for me this time. I have read Picoult before and have a few of hers on my tbrm, I think this will be a marmite book and certainly controversial


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Tuesday, 4 December 2018

Bait, Grist & Security by Mike Hodges Blog Tour

Today I am the final stop, closing the blog tour, for Bait, Grist & Security by Mike Hodges. If you didn't catch the previous tour stops please check them out as everyone has different content so worth checking out.





Bait, Grist & Security is available to buy on amazon, ebook and treebook format, CLICK HERE to order yours.





About the author: Mike Hodges

A U T H O R

Mike Hodges was born in Bristol, UK. As a television producer in the 1960s, he was invited to join the investigative programme World in Action. This took him to the US, covering the 1964 presidential election, and that same year to the war in Vietnam. He produced and sometimes directed the arts programmes Tempo and New Tempo. He is perhaps best-known for his work in cinema and television, including: Get Carter, Suspect, Rumour, The Manipulators, Pulp, The Terminal Man, Flash Gordon, A Prayer for the Dying, Morons from Outer Space, Florida Straits, Black Rainbow, Croupier, and I’ll Sleep When I’m Dead. He lives in London. This is his first book.

Mike Hodges is the director of the 1970s crime classic Get Carter, which is widely considered one of the greatest British films of all time. These novellas are marked by the same combination of style, grit and deadpan humour that have attracted a cult following to his films. For fans of Derek Raymond (He Died With His Eyes Open), Andrei Kurkov’s Death and the Penguin and Martin McDonagh’s film In Bruges, as well as classic American noir in the vein of Raymond Chandler and James Ellroy.





I have a wee extract from chapter two for you:

TWO

Early that same night, the last train had arrived on time. At exactly
21.36. The two carriages, all that remained of the express from London, are shunted backwards to the deserted platform.
Ayling-on-Sea is at the end of the line.
Water gushes through a hole in the station roof. A solitary passenger alights, slamming the door shut. He notes the rain splattering the platform, puts down his tattered suitcase, and slips a finger into the galosh that’s become dislodged. Opening a black umbrella, he proceeds to the unmanned ticket barrier.

Outside, a sign indicates a vacant taxi rank. The passenger moves to the courtesy phone housed under a plastic hood and picks up the receiver.
The line is dead.

Cussing, he starts his walk into town.

* The Journey’s End boarding house is at the unfashionable end of the esplanade. A ‘Vacancies’ placard dangles seductively between the frilly curtains of the front room. The passenger lowers his umbrella to study a scrap of paper before pressing the bell. The red and yellow sunrise pattern of the glass front door is abruptly illuminated as a figure comes to open it.

The passenger steps back to fully appreciate the woman standing before him. ‘Mrs Westby?’
‘Mr Snazell?

‘That’s me.’
‘En suite for one night?’
‘Correct,’ he looks her over. Enough curves to drive a man crazy. ‘Although the view’s so good I may stay longer.’
Snazell eases himself past Mrs Westby’s buffer breasts into the small hallway, his eyes fixed on her white silk blouse and the black ruched brassiere peeping out from behind a wayward button. Lewdness is an essential ingredient in Sandra Westby’s life. She enjoys being an object of male desire. Her glistening blood-red lips shape themselves around each word before finally setting it free.

‘You’re my only guest tonight.’ ‘One-on-one. Great.’
‘Choose a room between 1 and 15.’ ‘69.’
‘Don’t be saucy now. I’ll put you in 13.’ ‘13 – that’s my lucky number.’
‘I’ll put you in 7 then.’
She plucks a key off a board behind the small counter and starts up the stairs. Snazell follows, his attention alternating between her arse rotating inside a tight silk skirt and the immaculately straight seams of her black stockings. Reaching the second landing, she opens Room 7 and switches on the light. Snazell steps inside the small room. He immediately pumps the mattress, appreciatively.

‘Very nice. Nice and hard. The way I like it.’ He sits on it and bounces a couple of times. ‘Bet this bed could tell a few stories.’
‘Only cries and groans,’ replies Mrs Westby. ‘Of eternal love?’
‘I wouldn’t go that far, Mr Snazell.’ ‘Hanky-panky?’
‘That’s more like it.’
She sighs as she shuts the door then opens it again. ‘The bar will be open for aperitifs in half an hour.’
Left alone Snazell snaps open his suitcase. Lifting out several pairs of thermal underwear and woollen pyjamas, he reveals the tools of his trade: binoculars, bugging equipment, and a Smith & Wesson .32 automatic with silencer.

Monday, 3 December 2018

Urbane Extravaganza The House on Downshire Hill by Guy Fraser-Sampson Blog Tour




Today I am on the Urbane Publications Extravaganza - invited by the lovely Kelly over at #LOVEBOOKSGROUPTOURS - please check her out guys, click here. My featured book is The House on Downshire Hill by Guy Fraser-Sampson





Blurb for the book:

'An enticing blend of elegance and darkness ... of which the finest Golden Age writers would have been proud.' - Nicola Upson, bestselling author of the Josephine Tey series

When a wealthy recluse is reported missing from his home, a shocking discovery sparks a homicide investigation which begins to lead the team from Hampstead CID in some very unexpected directions.

What has happened to the man's family? Who is the mysterious character with whom he appears to have been sharing his house? Do transgressions from the past have a bearing on crimes of the present day?

In this, the fifth volume of the Hampstead Murders, we see a murder enquiry once more playing out against a shifting background of police politics and personal tribulations. Again, the beautiful London village of Hampstead with its Georgian terraces and stuccoed villas provides an unlikely setting for events which show only too clearly the dark and ugly side of human nature.

You can buy it on kindle or treebook format, click here






ABOUT GUY FRASER-SAMPSON

Guy Fraser-Sampson is an established writer, previously best known for his ‘Mapp and Lucia’ novels, which have been featured on BBC Radio 4 and optioned by BBC television. His first three books of detective fiction, Death in Profile, Miss Christie Regrets and A Whiff of Cyanide, have drawn high praise from fellow crime writers as well as from readers on both sides of the Atlantic. Book 4, A Death in the Night, was published in November 2017 by Urbane Publications.

The House on Downshire Hill publishes at the end of 2018

Urbane Twitter @UrbaneBooks

Lovebooksgroup Twitter @LoveBooksGroup

Guy Fraser Sampson Twitter @GuyFSAuthor

I have a wee extract for you - chapter 1, enjoy!


Detective Inspector Bob Metcalfe had various reasons to be cheerful as he made his way from Frognal towards Hampstead police station. First, as he took the small footpath beside the former residence of Gracie Fields which led past the graveyard and up into Church Row the sun, which had been attempting to break through some rather hazy clouds, finally did so. After the grey, damp weather of the previous few days this marked a welcome change.

Second, he and the rest of the team had recently received favourable comments from the powers that be at Scotland Yard for successfully concluding an investigation into a suspicious death at an exclusive club for female university graduates. This meant a few days of quiet as they waited for assignment to a new enquiry, and having a respite from the long hours and intense efforts which normally attended a homicide investigation was always agreeable. Last, and by no means least, he had recently become engaged to be married, a development which even a few months ago would have seemed extremely unlikely given the highs and lows (mostly lows, to be honest) of his personal life.

He crossed Fitzjohns Avenue, one of the two main roads which meet at the top of the hill by Hampstead tube station, and cut down Perrin's Court which brought him swiftly to the second, Rosslyn Hill. From here it was a right turn and a walk down the hill to the police station, passing the King William IV pub, commonly known as 'the Willy', where he and his colleagues had been known to take a modest drink or two after work. He stayed on this side of the road as he progressed down the hill, since it kept him away from the window shoppers and aggressive pram wielders who tended to clog the other pavement. He crossed the road at the zebra crossing and completed his brief but agreeable walk to work.

The desk Sergeant said "good morning, sir."

Since he would normally have used the informal 'guv' Metcalfe looked at him sharply, for they had been uniformed constables together, and it was always difficult to know whether someone was 'extracting the Michael' as DCI Tom Allen would have said. He wondered if this newfound formality was for the benefit of a trainee constable who had started work a few days previously, but a subtle jerk of the sergeant's head indicated the presence of Detective Superintendent Collison, who was leafing through some papers away in the corner of the room in a rather desultory fashion. As he dropped them back into the tray he caught sight of Metcalfe.

"Morning, Bob."

"Good morning, guv. Anything happening?" "No, not really."

"Excuse me, sir," the desk Sergeant said diffidently, "but there is that missing person's report."

"Yes, I was just looking at that. Is there anything to it, do you think? It all seems a bit tenuous."

"I saw the lady when she came in, sir. I'd say she was genuinely upset. Shall I ask someone from uniform to call on her? It's only just round the corner after all."

"No," Collison said after deliberating for a moment. "On reflection I think you're right. Let's do the job properly and send somebody from CID. Who's free, Bob?"

"Just about everybody at the moment, guv. What about Priya?"

"Okay then. Have that sent up to DC Desai, will you please, Sergeant?"

"So how are the wedding plans coming along then?" Collison asked as they walked up the stairs together.

"Oh, quietly you know. We haven't even set a date yet. It's all been a bit sudden to be honest. I'm still trying to get used to the idea."

"No second thoughts I hope?"

"Absolutely not, no."

"Good. Lisa seems like a really nice girl."

They walked past the door to the operations room, currently eerily empty since the conclusion of their most recent case.

"Now, let's see, where is Priya? I think she's sharing an office with Timothy isn't she?"

He knocked briefly at the next door they came to and poked his head into the room. Timothy Evans was eating a large pastry, much of which he seemed to have spread across his desk. Priya Desai was watching him and trying to look disapproving. Priya never had to try very hard to look disapproving.

"Priya, do you have much on at the moment?"

"No, sir, just getting rid of the last of the filing actually."

"Good. I was just taking a look at some papers downstairs and I came across a missing person's report which was filed yesterday. Because it doesn't deal with a child it wasn't treated as a matter of urgency. There's also some doubt about whether it actually discloses anything sinister. Apparently some lady hasn't been able to contact one of her neighbours for a while. Do you think you might be able to pop round and have a word with her? It's only just round the corner in Downshire Hill."

"Yes of course, guv. It'll be nice to get out of the station."

As she said this she cast a pointed glance at the snowfield of sugar and crumbs on her colleague's desk.

"Good. I've asked the desk Sergeant to send up the report. Ah, here it is I believe. That was quick. Thank you, Constable." He stood aside to let the trainee constable hand an internal brown envelope to Desai.

"Report back to DI Metcalfe, will you? Depending on how you see things, we'll decide whether to take things further or not."

Where a missing person's report concerned neither a child nor a vulnerable adult the police had a wide measure of discretion as to how seriously or urgently to press their enquiries. Where the concern expressed amounted to little more than an elderly neighbour not answering the door, usually a visit from uniform was enough. There was hardly a serving officer in the Metropolitan police who had not, as a young constable, forced entry to a house to discover the natural death of its occupant. DCI Tom Allen, who delighted in regaling younger officers with the gory details of his early career, had a fund of such stories, including his pièce de résistance which concerned an elderly man who had died over a year previously and whose body had been largely mummified by the cool breeze from an open window.

Metcalfe ducked into his own office while Collison continued along the corridor. He was feeling at least as much at a loose end as the rest of the team, but was trying very hard not to show it. An old university friend who now worked at an investment bank had described to him over dinner the unnatural calm which descended on a corporate finance department once a deal completed. He had explained how everyone took the opportunity to schedule anything from a weekend away to a dental appointment as quickly as possible, since they all knew it was only a matter of time before the next merger or equity issue arrived on their desks from one of the rainmakers on the directors' floor upstairs. He had reflected at the time that this sounded pretty similar to what CID went through when a homicide investigation closed down. He couldn't quite decide whether it felt like the beginning of term, or the end.

One of the doors he passed was open, and he saw Detective Sergeant Karen Willis putting a file into her out tray. Presumably she, like Desai, was just tying up the few loose ends which remained in documenting the Athena Club case. She looked up at him and smiled, tossing her dark hair back as she did so.

"Good morning, guv."

"Good morning, Karen. How are you? And how's Peter?" "We're both fine, thank you."

Karen's boyfriend was Dr Peter Collins, who had for some time been an official psychological adviser to the Met, and whose skills Collison had used extensively since he had first come to Hampstead as a Detective Superintendent.

"That's good," he replied and then wondered what to say next.

"It feels strange, doesn't it?" she asked. "I suppose it always does, but I went on leave the last couple of times so it didn't really hit me the way it has now. I don't think I'll ever get used to being completely committed to a big case one day, and it suddenly all being declared over the next. It's a sort of flat feeling, isn't it? I suppose it might have something to do with stress, and adrenaline, and all that sort of thing."

"Yes, I suppose so. Still, if history's anything to go by we won't have long to wait for something else to crop up, so I should make the most of it if I were you."

"Good, then I shall."

"Actually, while I'm here, there's something I wanted to talk to you about."

He came in and closed the door behind him.

"This is all very speculative, but every time I see the ACC he seems to have some new idea about my future. As you know, all I really want to do is to stay here and get on with solving crimes, but he seems to see things rather differently." "That's hardly surprising is it, guv? You've been marked out as a high-flyer, everyone knows that. They're grooming you for a top job, perhaps the top job. They'll want you to be sitting on committees, briefing civil servants, that sort of thing."

"You're right of course, but I wish you weren't. It's all very flattering being apparently held in high regard by the ACC but I'd much rather just take my chances like everyone else."

"How do you mean?"

"Well, other officers are going to see me being promoted ahead of them and they're likely to resent it, aren't they? It's only human nature."

"I would have thought you'd be used to that by now, guv. Wasn't that an issue when you first came here to Hampstead?"

"You know it was. And it put me under a lot of extra pressure, I don't mind admitting. If we hadn't been able to crack that first case it would have been extremely embarrassing – not just for me, but for the ACC as well."

"Well, you did crack it. So what's the problem?" Collison gave a wry smile.

"Why is it you sound like my wife so often?" "How is Caroline? And the baby?"

"They're both very well thank you, but listen: this is what I wanted to talk to about."

He sat down, glanced out of the window to marshal his thoughts, and then went on.

"I said that the ACC seems to have lots of different ideas about my future career. Well, that's true, but there's one that he keeps coming back to and it involves quite a senior post with Special Branch."

"Well, that wouldn't be as bad as sitting on a committee now, would it? And the branch is a traditional route to the very top, as I understand it. Didn't the present Commissioner used to be Commander there?"

"Yes he did, as everyone keeps reminding me. But here's the thing. As a sweetener, he's suggested once or twice that I might be able to take either you or Bob with me. How would you feel about that? It would mean a promotion, I assume."

"I'm very flattered, guv, but why are you asking me? Bob is a much more experienced officer."

Collison shifted awkwardly on the chair.

"Bob's got a natural leg up coming here as a DCI on homicide. He's overdue for it in my view, as I've told the ACC repeatedly. That's not true of you. If you wanted it, I think this could be a great opportunity for you. Like I say, I think if I press them they might make you a DI immediately."

"Have you had this conversation with Bob?" she asked quietly.

"No, I haven't. To be perfectly honest I think you would be my number one choice. That's why I wanted to hear your reaction first. Bob's a great copper and he knows his way around a homicide enquiry with his eyes shut, but the branch is different. It needs a flexible, imaginative approach, and I don't think that would be playing to his strengths. Also, he's a really nice bloke and that might not be a good fit with what goes on at the branch."

"What does go on?"

"Well I can't be sure, but don't forget I got quite involved with them over that business at Burgh House. So I know some of the things that went on, and I can guess at others. Let's just say that once you move into the security world you need a rather different perspective on things. You need to be able to do things because you're comfortable that they're in the national interest without worrying too much about the ethics of it all."

"And you think that I could do that? I'm not sure whether to be flattered or not."

"I'm sorry, I don't think I'm putting this very well am I?"

"No, I see exactly where you're coming from, guv, and I think you're right to be concerned. I'm not sure how I'd handle that, to be honest. If this ever becomes a serious enquiry then I'd need some time to think about it." Collison gave a little laugh.

"That's exactly what I've been telling the ACC for the last six months or so."

Saturday, 1 December 2018

Happy December 1st - Seasonal Giveaway




Christmas can be such a hard time for so many of us for a variety of reasons. I try and always enjoy December to the max, I remember loved ones who loved the holiday. I put my decorations up 12 days before and down 12 days after (a tradition we grew up with). From December 1st I crack out my themed holiday clothes, Trixie isn't always as happy.




So I have chosen my first season read (I often try and read books relevant to a theme if there is one on that month, ie February romance books, October scary). I was on the blog tour for this one and heard so much good about it, plus how cute/festive is the cover (mine is a hardback).




I love RAK (Random Acts of Kindness) as you will know if you follow the blog or any of the blog accounts - Instagram Facebook Twitter I often do additional giveaways as well as the monthly giveaway. I was so lucky to get a copy of this beautiful book to review and as it is Christmas themed I feel a wee giving something back would be lovely. So, my RAK is for an Amazon voucher to buy the kindle version of A Christmas Gift. I am only going to leave it open for 1 week so the winner has it in plenty of time for Christmas. This will be UK only as it is an Amazon Voucher but for my international followers I will be having a themed giveaway that I will open worldwide.


This will be my first time reading this author but as I said I have heard so much good about it I can't wait to get stuck in. It has been a busy day so hoping to curl up with miss paws and the book tonight. Good luck if entering, as always use Rafflecopter to enter, the more entries you complete the more times your name goes in the draw. Please only complete the ones you are carrying out, sadly the last two comps have had people disqualified for claiming entries they haven't done! Feel free to share the comp and as always thanks so much for supporting the blog, commenting, emailing and spreading the book love.





P.s how cute is my wee lantern. My o/h bought me it last year or the year before, I love it so much I keep it out all year long <3


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