A Kiss Before Killing: Nothing can keep the doctor away #TuesdayBookBlog by Keith McCarthy #RBRT

51CDfr+8JgL

I was given this book by the author as a member of Rosie Amber’s review team in exchange for an honest review.

I gave A Kiss Before Killing 3* out of 5*

Book description

Each man kills the thing he loves…

Edward Marsham is admitted to the Royal Infirmary having hung himself in his prison cell.

As predicted, he dies.

In the wake of several unexpected deaths at the hospital, however, Dr. Claire Woodforde suspects there is a killer amongst the staff. As Detective Chief Inspector Beverley Wharton and her new sergeant Tom Bayes begin to investigate Marsham’s death, they too start to wonder if it was natural or whether someone…

helped him along.

But as they start to make headway on the case, something much more sinister comes to light.

A body is found in an empty house.

A body without its limbs. And head.

Dr. John Eisenmenger is tasked with examining the torso to uncover clues which will lead to its identity and cause of death; a grisly job even for the most hardened of pathologists.

But as the investigation unfolds, the team discovers that there is much, much worse to come, and in addition, there is growing suspicion that there is a link between the two cases.

This not-for-the-faint-hearted crime thriller shines a light into the darkest recesses of the human soul.

Fans of Patricia Cornwell, Tami Hoag and Tess Gerritsen will be hooked on A Kiss Before Killing.

Praise for A Kiss Before Killing

‘Pacey, well-written medical thriller … the suspense built so that I had to finish it in a sitting’ – Andrew Puckett, bestselling author of Sisters of Mercy

‘Dark and disturbing. Sharp and deliciously violent. A must read’ – Robert White, bestselling author of Breaking Bones

Praise for Keith McCarthy

‘McCarthy lays on the grisly detail with a practising doctor’s detached eye.’ – Publishers Weekly

‘McCarthy handles his material with real brio.’ – Crime Time

‘McCarthy excels at capturing his readers and not letting go until the shocking conclusion … Will appeal to fans of John Harvey’s crime novels’ Library Journal

Keith McCarthy was born in Croydon, Surrey. Educated at Dulwich College and then at St George’s Hospital Medical School, he began practising pathology in 1985 and has done so ever since. Keith is a Consultant Histopathologist in Gloucestershire where he lives with his wife and three daughters. in 1985 and has done so ever since. Keith is a Consultant Histopathologist in Gloucestershire where he lives with his wife and three daughters.

My Review:

From the start it is obvious that the author knows a great deal about cadavers and forensics; there is a lot of detail about the dissection of bodies and the necessary criminal investigation. I didn’t mind reading about those sections; in fact I can deal with grisly as much as the next reader of this genre but it felt rather clinically shown so, as a reader, the dreadfulness of the murders, the horrendous dismemberment, was, for me, portrayed too clinically; there was something emotionally missing.

I liked some of the characters; most were multi – layered. Beverley Wharton is well rounded and the relationship between her and John Eisenmenger is interesting. And we get some insight into her sergeant, Tom Bayes and his background. We also get a good understanding of their  professional environment.  All of which shows that these characters and their relationships to one another could lead to further stories. But I couldn’t quite get a handle on the character of Dr. Claire Woodforde. (I did think this was perhaps what the author intended as, although portrayed as a professional person her interaction with other characters was hesitant and not what I would have expected)

On the whole the dialogue is realistic and shows who was speaking, though it is a little stilted, less realistic, at times.

It’s a good plot. And, generally, well told. The author has a good writing style that carries the story along. But there are too many cliches in the narrative and far too many  metaphors and similes. (and these also slip over into the dialogue occasionally. Which would be fine if it were an idiosyncrasy of only one or two of the characters).

My whole problem with this book was with the editing and the proof reading. I think the book needs another good edit and, certainly, a more exact proofreading.

Once this is done I would certainly recommend A Kiss Before Killing.

Buying links:

Amazon.co.uk: http://amzn.to/2vZg2ip

Amazon.com: http://amzn.to/2fbwRDV

 

Advertisements

My Review of Fall Out by Lizzy Mumfrey for #RBRT #TuesdayBookBlog

51T2wkeSKiL._SX311_BO1,204,203,200_

 

I received this book from the author as a member of Rosie Amber’s Review Team, #RBRT, in return for an honest review.

 I gave Fall Out 3.5 stars out of 5 stars

Book Description

WHAT IF THE TIES THAT HOLD TOGETHER A COMMUNITY ARE IRREVOCABLY DESTROYED? The sociable commuter village of Charlton is an ordinary neighbourhood, typical of many, home to a colourful range of residents, many of whose teenagers go to the local academy. An ordinary day becomes extraordinary when a school trip to London coincides with an appalling terrorist attack and everyone’s cosy, humdrum life is shattered. The fallout affects every resident in dramatically different ways. Who lives and who dies is just the start – irrational suspicions, prejudice and misunderstandings lead to blame and persecution. Buried secrets are revealed, friendships fractured and trust destroyed. IS IT POSSIBLE THAT LIFE WILL NEVER BE NORMAL AGAIN.

My Review:

I read this book twice in consecutive sessions because I wasn’t sure how I felt about it. And I have to say that although I liked the idea of Fall Out (clever play on words with the title, by the way) and enjoyed certain parts  of the book, I struggled with it for so many reasons.

Don’t get me wrong; Lizzy Mumfrey can write, it’s a good plot and there are scenes that certainly bring a sense of empathy to the characters.The first chapter caught my attention straight-away with the introduction of the main character, Susie Cole. I was intrigued. But then we are immediately taken to another scenario with two other characters, Susie’s husband, Peter and his friend, Richard Hughes, who reveal the threat of terrorism that the world is under, the fact that Peter has achieved a high rank in the police force and that there will be a dinner party to celebrate this promotion.

On my second read it occurred to me that the first chapter would have worked well (better) as a Prologue. Because it’s quite some while until we actually discover why this foreshadowing of the whole plot is revealed.

There is then quite a long section giving the inner thoughts of the protagonist of how she sees herself and the people she will invite, and the menu for the meal. This not only slows the story down but there are also chunks of information dumps, giving descriptions of these other characters and their lives; their jobs, their houses, their children. Good depictions of them all but I would have liked them not to be in such detail and these passages are something that I feel would be better drip-fed into the story.

And these meticulous  narratives  through  Susie’s internal thoughts continue. I wanted to like her; her dialogue is as intrinsically slapdash (sometimes irritatingly so) as her lifestyle. And this is the whole crux of the plot; the way she is, is why she becomes the target of  “irrational suspicions, prejudice and misunderstandings lead to blame and persecution.”  It’s a brilliantly thought out  set of circumstances that is threaded throughout the book.

Sections of the book are told through the points of view of some of the other characters, though, and these gave a good insight to them, their backgrounds and their role in Fall Out. And they give an alternative understanding to their personalities than that of Susie’s.

But there are other situations  that I felt could be whole different novels and that I would have liked to have been explored and dealt with. Two such are those of the family stories of a couple of the students in the school: Ellie and, Charlie. Both from dysfunctional families. Charlie’s mother is absent; he’s a lonely lad struggling to survive and letting no one know he is on his one. And there is one point in Ellie’s story that brought me up short and I was waiting for it to develop. But, although it did hover around in the story, it got submerged by the larger plot.

And, perhaps, this is why I had some reservations about Fall Out; that there are so many brilliant, intriguing characters that I felt deserved their own stories.

And then there is the terrorist attack itself. Now I know the whole idea of the novel is the affect on the village of Charlton.  There are many evocative descriptions of the way the characters deal with the situations and of various places. And it is perfectly clear that life for the residents of Charlton will never be the same again. So, as this the crux of the book, it certainly succeeds.  But somehow I didn’t sense the devastating scenario to the whole country that followed such a traumatic event.

However, as I said earlier, I do like Lizzy Mumfrey’s writing and look forward to reading another of her books.

Links:

Amazon.co.uk: http://amzn.to/2r0oX1r

Amazon.com:http://amzn.to/2rm07Jw

My Review of Watercolours in the Rain by Jo Lambert for #RBRT

 

Jo Lambert

I gave Watercolours in the Rain 4* out of 5*

I received Watercolours in the Rain from the author as a member of Rosie Amber’s Review Team and for an honest review.

Back Page Blurb:

WATERCOLOURS IN THE RAIN

What happens to the future when past and present collide?

JESS:  Six years ago Jess’s relationship with Talún Hansen was torn apart by one night of deception. He disappeared from Lynbrook village and she headed for university vowing never to let anyone break her heart again. Currently teaching in Oxford, Jess returns from holiday to an unexpected phone call and life changing news which eventually sees her returning home.

Talún: Six years on Talún Hawkeswood, as he is now known, is heir to his grandfather’s Norfolk farming empire. When he hears of trouble in the village due to Lynbrook Hall being put up for sale, going back is the last thing on his mind. But staying away is not an option either, not when someone he owes so much to is about to lose their home and their livelihood.

LILY: Splitting with her husband after her son Josh’s birth, Lily now works as part of an estate agency sales team.  She has always held onto her dream of finding a wealthy husband and a life of self-indulgence. When the sale of an important property brings her face to face with Talún, she realises despite the risks involved, the night they spent together six years ago could be the key to making those dreams come true.

As Jess, Talún and Lily return to Lynbrook and the truth about what happened that summer is gradually revealed, Talún finds himself in an impossible situation. Still in love with Jess he is tied into a trade off with Lily: his name and the lifestyle she craves in exchange for his son. And when a child is involved there is only one choice he can make…

My Review:

Although I hadn’t read  Summer Moved On (The South Devon Duo Book 1) Jo Lambert’s first book in the series, I had no trouble following the story and discovering the personalities of the characters involved. (It wasn’t until I began this review that I read the blurb and realised how much Watercolours in the Rain  can indeed be a stand-alone novel.) Any past action from the previous book was subtly and cleverly inserted; either into the dialogue, brought out through memories, or the descriptions of the settings, or how the characters have evolved..

I don’t give spoilers away in my reviews so I’d just like to say why I so liked this novel.

First of all  Watercolours in the Rain   is written in a style that I love; different points of view presented by each of the characters. In this case,  Jess, Lily  and Talún, all with their own voice There is no doubt whose dialogue it is and as the  story progresses the characters are given greater depth; leaving it to the reader who to have empathy with… and who to detest. And, believe me, there are one or two really detestable characters that I became angry with. (being so involved that I still feel some emotion, whatever it is, when I’ve put the book down,  is always a good sign that I’m reading a brilliant story) .

Both the internal and the spoken dialogue is realistic and, as I say above, distinctive to each character.

 The characters are rounded and believable without unnecessary detail of how each looks; this is drip -fed throughout the book..

 The descriptions give a great sense of place.

I thought the plot line both clever and, sometimes, surprising.I liked the author’s style of writing; so easy to read and yet constantly throwing up tantalising twists and turns. 

 And, best of all, it’s a good story. I hope to read more from Jo Lambert. 

So, as you may gather, I would thoroughly recommend   Watercolours in the Rain  

 Buying links:

Amazon.co.uk:http://amzn.to/2j6DcfF

Amazon.com: http://amzn.to/2jUJzaq

 

 

 

 

My Review of The Rose Trail by Alex Martin

the-rose-trail

 

The Blurb:

Is it chance that brings Fay and Persephone together?
Or is it the restless and malevolent spirit who stalks them both?
Once rivals, they must now unite if they are to survive the mysterious trail of roses they are forced to follow into a dangerous, war torn past.

The Rose Trail is a time slip novel set in both the present day and during the English Civil War. The complex story weaves through both eras with a supernatural thread.

My Review:

Way back in 2015, I interviewed Alex Martin after I’d read her first books:  http://bit.ly/2iVUaxK. And then again in 2016,  http://bit.ly/2itOdaz   (when she was part of the Tenby book fair: now evolved into the Narberth Book Fair: (http://bit.ly/2iiW8HW ). I have enjoyed all her work and I must admit  I was looking forward to reading The Rose Trail, expecting the same genre.

 It’s not! But the strong writing style that makes this author’s book instantly recognisable is there throughout. And just as fascinating. This is a story that moves through two time zones, starting off in the present day and then woven into the period of the English Civil War. It’s dark, haunting and riveting and moves a a good steady place with the occasional revelation that shocks the reader.

As usual Alex Martin has researched well; the settings, the descriptions give an evocative sense of place

The characters are well rounded and believable. Fay could be a protagonist that elicits pity, yet her courage and fortitude soon become evident. And Percy; for me it was dislike on sight but then an unwilling sympathy. Until, I admitted to myself that she was actually a decent person. See? I’m talking about them as thought they’re real. Which, to me is a sign of empathetic writing. And the two brothers, Will and Ralph in the juxtaposed historical story become just as believable with the wrangling in both their political and personal lives.  

The dialogue, both as spoken and as internal thoughts, of all the characters reads naturally. There are no irritating lines where I wasn’t sure who was speaking.

If there was one small constructive criticism I’d have it would be with some of  those parts of the book that deal with the civil war combat scenes. I found myself skipping through them.  Though I have to confess, some of the dark ‘ghostly’ scenes, I stopped to re-read again. perhaps this says more about me as a reader than anything else! 

So, as with all the other books that Alex Martin has written, I really enjoyed The Rose Trail and have no hesitation in recommending this novel.

Buying Links:

Amazon.co.uk: http://amzn.to/2iWoRTE

Amazon.com: http://amzn.to/2izkpMV

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

My Review of The Devil You Know by Terry Tyler

61u3megpz6l-_sy346_

The Blurb:

Every serial killer is someone’s friend, spouse, lover or child….

Young women are being murdered in the Lincolnshire town of Lyndford, where five people fear someone close to them might be the monster the police are searching for.
One of them is right.

Juliet sees an expert’s profile of the average serial killer and realises that her abusive husband, Paul, ticks all the boxes.

Maisie thinks her mum’s new boyfriend seems too good to be true. Is she the only person who can see through Gary’s friendly, sensitive façade?

Tamsin is besotted with her office crush, Jake. Then love turns to suspicion…

Steve is used to his childhood friend, Dan, being a loud mouthed Lothario with little respect for the truth. But is a new influence in his life leading him down a more sinister path?

Dorothy’s beloved son, Orlando, is keeping a secret from her—a chilling discovery forces her to confront her worst fears.

THE DEVIL YOU KNOW is a character-driven psychological drama that will keep you guessing until the very end.

My Review:

I love Terry Tyler’s novels; the plots, the characters, her style of writing. And so I was really looking forward to reading her latest book. I wasn’t disappointed.

 Anyone who has read my reviews of this author’s books will know how much I admire her writing. Just as a reminder I’ve added a couple of links. For her novel,  You Wish: http://bit.ly/2eHQhwJ. and then for Best Seller: A Tale Of Three Writers:   http://bit.ly/2fWh7Db.

Although THE DEVIL YOU KNOW takes us, as readers, away from her usual cross-genre work into a domestic  psychological, it is, as the blurb says, character driven; one of Tyler’s greatest strengths. This alongside her dialogue, both internal and spoken. Not to mention her great descriptions that always give such a sense of place.

Yes, I am a fan of her writing. As a creative writing tutor, as well as an author myself, I read both subjectively and objectively. The latter sometimes spoils my enjoyment of a book, especially if there are also editing and proofreading errors. I’ve yet to be disappointed in any of  this author’s novels. If you haven’t already, I suggest you give one of her novels a go. Why not begin by reading THE DEVIL YOU KNOW? You won’t be disappointed and I thoroughly recommend it.

Find The Devil You Know at:

Amazon.co.uk: http://amzn.to/2fUGSkT

Amazon.com: http://amzn.to/2eAImD5

My Review of Who Killed Vivien Morse (DCI Hatherall Book 4) by Diana J Febry for #RBRT

vivien

 

I gave  Who Killed Vivien Morse? by Diana J Febry  4 out of 5*

The Blurb:

Vivien Morse, a young social worker is discovered battered to death in Silver Lady Woods. Everyone assumes she was attacked by her estranged husband until her supervisor disappears. The connection appears to be Vivien’s last client. A damaged and disturbed girl who believes a bundle of rags is her lost baby and never leaves the family farm while she awaits the return of her lover.

The matter is confused by the arrival of a stranger to the area clearly searching for something or someone and an escaped convict with connections to the area.

DCI Hatherall has to separate fact from fantasy to discover who did kill Vivien Morse.

My Review:

I hadn’t read any of Diana J Febry’s work before so wasn’t sure what to expect. I have read the later books in a series before and been confused by the characters involved but  Who Killed Vivien Morse? (the fourth book of the protagonist, DCI Peter Hatherall  series) can be read as a stand alone book without any difficulty.

 I loved this author’s style of writing which, by the way, is certainly not revealed in the Blurb. I expected a purely crime driven story. In the Blurb there is no mention of the dark humour, the small twists of idiosyncrasy in the characters, especially in Peter Hatherall and Fiona Williams, the short, witty descriptions of them and their dialogue. 

The narrative meanders through many ‘red herrings’ to keep the reader guessing and entertained while meeting all the characters; all well rounded, most with complicated backgrounds and relationships (that are drip-fed throughout the story – no information dumping here!) All interesting, all have a part to play in the narrative.

The dialogue is so well written that it is easy to tell who is speaking without any dialogue tags and, alongside the thought-provoking, more significant interchanges, is peppered with wry, dry humour. I loved some of the earlier conversations between  Peter Hatherall and Fiona Williams.

 Set in a typical rural English; the victim,  Vivien Morse,a young social worker, is found murdered in a place called Silver Lady Woods, Febry’s descriptions are brief but succinct; just enough to give a flavour of the place. 

But there’s no getting away from the fact that this is a fast-moving  murder mystery; there is a serious thread running throughout that the investigation has to succeed before another murder is committed. Certainly kept me on my toes. (and I always guessed wrong) 

All in all Who Killed Vivien Morse?  by Diana J Febry is a book I recommend.

Buying Links:

Amazon.co.uk: http://amzn.to/2dnWom0

Amazon.com: http://amzn.to/2efb49z

My Review of The Hog, the Shrew and the Hullabaloo (A Harry & Lil Story) by Julia Copus (Author), Eunyoung Seo (Illustrator)

 

hog an hullabuloo

 

It was night in the village – a still, dark night –
and Harry the Hog was sleeping tight.
In her house at the foot of Piggyback Hill,
also asleep, was Candy Stripe Lil.
The second Harry and Lil story from acclaimed Faber poet Julia Copus, who has recently turned her hand to picture books for the first time! The tale of a hog – and his friend Candy Stripe Lil – kept awake by mysterious noises in the night is sure to delight adults and children alike.

 My Review:

I reviewed the first Harry & Lil of this series with my granddaughter, Seren, a wise six year old. Being without my fellow reviewer I need to look at this lovely picture story book with adult eyes and hope that, when she next visit she agrees with what I write. I’m fairly sure I’m on the right track as we did read it just before she left 

I can really only reiterate much of my comments that I made in our review of Hog in the Fog: A Harry & Lil Story:  http://bit.ly/2bAVZS9

But I do need to add how much we enjoyed the way the illustrations are often set out in descending order on the page with small rhyming phrases. For example, just before Harry goes to sleep he does his exercises “two hog-jumps, three sit-ups, four blinks of the eye” 

 Lovely!!

In fact the way the words and the illustration work together, placed on the pages, is perfect as far as Seren and I were concerned.

This is a story that combines the questions that Harry and Lil explore when kept awake by mysterious noises in the night, yet hints at the answers throughout – right up to the brilliant end.

Picture story books are very close to poetry in many ways. One of the most important things is that they  both are intended to be read aloud. So fluency is essential. If the format is meant to be regular in  rhythm, then each line must have the same amount of syllables.  Rhyming is necessary, whether slant/ near rhymes, sight rhymes or exact rhymes. The Hog, the Shrew and the Hullabaloo has all these qualities.

Turning the pages to see what happens next seems to be important for children in picture story books. So, often there are connecting or repeating words or phrases  “And/But /So.” Or sometimes those three little dots – the ellipses.  Like Hog in the Fog, The Hog, the Shrew and the Hullabaloo   does this kind of connection of each page in spades.

And last but certainly not least… the illustrations. These are amongst the best I’ve seen in a picture book. (and I’ve been reading picture story books for a loooooong time) I’d go so far as the say they are exquisite drawings.

Seren has just phoned and I’ve read this review out to her. She’s in full agreement with me but has asked me to reiterate that she is six and she recommends The Hog, the Shrew and the Hullabaloo  for younger children, not her age group. I didn’t say anything but I think this series of “Harry & Lil ” stories are a joy for anyone of any age to read!

Buying Links:

Amazon.co.uk: http://amzn.to/2bjkVgh

Amazon.com: http://amzn.to/2aZZw8w