Review of ‘Steel City Confidential’ by Anne Hagan

‘Steel City Confidential’ by Anne Hagan is a triumph. It’s a fascinating story, well-told and with characters readers will warm to immediately. Ro Rabinowitz, a Pittsburgh lawyer takes on the case of Pamela Wilson, a woman in her sixties charged with the murder of a college professor who got her daughter pregnant. She’s confident that the case can be won, but there are complications – and a story from the past that Pam’s not telling. It’s not going to be that simple. I was drawn in from the start with a revelation of something I’ve known and loved for many years. Characters from the past . It was a brilliant set up. There are plenty of surprises that will have readers jumping for joy – but that’s all I’ll say. I won’t divulge any spoilers. But they are stunning.  Now, I know that  Anne Hagan writes great mysteries, but she has really found her forte with this legal thriller. I am so glad that this is book one in a new series for her. I was intrigued from the start and it just kept getting better and better. She skilfully weaves a complex tale of secrets and revelations and her characters are likeable and I want to find out more about them. Ro is a great mentor, a principled and caring lawyer. I liked her associate Dominique too. I can see her developing well in the future. Oh, and for aficionados of Ms Hagan’s Morelville Mysteries Series, a certain name pops up that will have you smiling. The book is brilliantly done and if Hollywood has any sense then this would be made into a movie – because I can guarantee there will be a huge audience for this particular story. Highly recommended.

I was given this Arc for review.

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Review of ‘The Sovereign of Psiere’ by K Aten

K Aten has made me very happy. I loved ‘The Sovereign of Psiere ‘ , the first in a new series, where mystery, fantasy, sci-fi and romance come together in a fascinating story. Olivienne is the heir to the throne, the connate, and also a Historical Adventurist. Her work involves trying to translate the mysterious scrolls left behind by the Makers. But she is a handful and her security detail find it hard to keep up with her. None have managed to stay the course – until the dashing and committed officer, Castellan ends up in her sphere. Their story is immersive , as they work to solve mysteries that have stumped those before them. Their growing attraction was intense and very sexy. I enjoyed seeing them become closer. I also enjoyed the world-building – the word-building too. It was familiar but unfamiliar at the same time. I like her writing style. Although she explains a new world and new ideas and people, she makes it easy to grasp. K Aten has managed to create a place I want to revisit again and again. She has laid a perfect foundation for the series in this novel. Highly recommended.

Review of ‘Moonlight Avenue’ by Gerri Hill

‘Moonlight Avenue’ is an excellent mystery novel, sheer class. Gerri Hill’s writing is flawless, her story compelling and much more than a notch above others writing in this genre. Finn Knight runs her own one-woman detective agency but after many solitary years finds herself involved with two other women as they try to solve an increasingly puzzling case. Rylee Moore appears at her door looking for a job – but there is more to this young woman than Finn wants to admit. The dynamic between the pair was fascinating. Dee Woodard is a cop whose interest in Finn’s case forges an unlikely friendship. I really enjoyed the interpersonal relationships in this story. They were well observed and natural. The case they were working was full of twists and turns and had me desperate to find out more. I loved it and would be interested to find out what happens next for these characters if Ms Hill decides to make this a series. Highly recommended.

I was given this ARC for review. 

Review of ‘The Scandal’ by Mari Hannah

‘The Scandal’ is a gripping story from the start, as a terrified woman flees for her life, frantically trying to evade her pursuer. I could feel her fear. But it is the investigation into another death that impacts DS Frankie Oliver and she finds herself in conflict with her boss, DI David Stone. The realism, be it of story, character or setting, really struck me.

Mari Hannah captures the emotions of her characters with such insight and precision. I appreciated that the police never lost sight of the victims and their families. I also can’t get enough of the North East as described in Ms Hannah’s novels. She moves from the beauty of the Northumberland countryside to the modern, vibrant city of Newcastle. This is the first of the Stone and Oliver series that I’ve read but I was so impressed that I’ll have to go and read the other two. An excellent read and highly recommended.

I was given this ARC for review by Netgalley and Orion.

Review of ‘The Fire Court’ by Andrew Taylor

‘The Fire Court’ is a beautifully descriptive historical mystery set the year after the Great Fire of London. The writing was immersive and the period so well researched that I felt as if I was there. James Marwood finds himself investigating after his father claims to have found a dead woman at the chambers of the lawyers dealing with the aftermath of the Great Fire. He teams up with Cat Lovett, an interestingly independent woman for her time. I loved reading about the machinations of those in positions of power, as well as the ordinary lives of the people. The little details really brought this story alive for me. As a lover of historical novels, this book hit all the right notes for me. The story was fascinating, with plenty of twists and turns and the author’s ability to make the past seem real was such a joy. I really enjoyed it.

I was given a review copy by LoveReading.

Review of ‘The Doll Maker’ by Claire Highton-Stevenson

‘The Doll Maker’ is a seriously impressive thriller. It is gripping, well-written and an excellent example of the genre. It deserves to get recognition and should definitely appeal to a wider audience. I can see it transferring perfectly to TV – and if Ms Highton-Stevenson continues the story into a series, it should get snapped up. 

DI Sophie Whitton is on the trail of a serial killer – one who leaves macabre-looking dolls by the bodies of the victims. Her home life is a mess as she finds her relationship with her lover Yvonne becoming more and more strained. The story is disturbing and deals with unpalatable subjects. The realism is stark and the writing captures every nuance. The author has quite a turn of phrase and her descriptions of characters are so well done that I had no problem visualising exactly what she was getting at. As the story progresses the suspense is ratcheted up perfectly. I was on the edge of my seat. I really enjoyed ‘The Doll Maker’ and highly recommend it. I can’t wait for the next one!

I was given this ARC for review.

Review of ‘Killer Instinct’ by Barbara Winkes

Barbara Winkes has surpassed herself. ‘Killer Instinct’ is an excellent story, full of suspense, mystery and characters that seem so real.  I couldn’t stop worrying about them. Joanna, an ex-cop, finds herself unable to keep out of an investigation into a serial killer. She should know better – it didn’t end well for her before. Her friends warn her off but the danger is at her door and she wants to make sure no more women have to die. A new woman in her life, Rue, makes her feel good again, but does she really want to expose anyone to the darker side of life, a life that she can’t seem to escape? 

I was gripped by the story and found myself shocked and surprised at some of the twists and turns. Ms Winkes certainly knows how to keep the reader on the edge of their seat. Joanna really got under my skin too. She was a complex character, with a background that made her strong, resourceful and someone to rely on. Seeing her realise that was empowering. This is a definite must-read for lovers of high quality suspense and thrillers. 

I was given this ARC to review.

Review of ‘As The Crow Flies’ by Karen F. Williams

This book is one of those that you have to sit back and take in just what you have read. I had to take a breath and absorb the story and how it made me feel. Karen F Williams is an extremely talented writer and her exquisite prose captured me from the start. I found myself slowing down as I neared the end as I wanted it to last just a little bit longer. I couldn’t tear myself away from mystery writer Sam, her crow Bertha and Gwen, the alluring professor that Sam has become enamoured with.  Sam’s sister-in-law Liz and gorgeous but repressed Isabel had an equally fascinating storyline and the interweaving of their lives had me glued to the page. When Sam’s quest to find a matching bookend for the one in her possession brings her into contact with philosophy professor Gwen I was entranced. Their reactions to each other are profound and when their lives become entwined neither could have predicted where it would lead. The story has a perfect mix of enchanting romance, mystery and a ghostly element. It was sweet and imaginative at times and powerfully sexy and quite beautiful.  One of the best books I have read this year. Highly recommended.

Review of ‘The Empath’ by Jody Klaire

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‘The Empath’ – the first in The Above and Beyond Series – completely blew me away. I have never felt such a connection with a character as I did with Aeron – certainly not since Scout in ’To Kill A Mockingbird’ when I was a teenager. Aeron Lorelei made an immediate impression on me and I couldn’t put the book down. She has had a terrible start in life, growing up with parents who ignore and resent her and living in a small town where everyone seems to hate her. When she takes the blame for the death of her friend’s younger brother and is sent away to a correctional facility they think they’ve heard the last of her. Not so. When she returns 11 years later the town is beset with tragedy and fear as young women start to go missing – and who do they decide to blame? Why Aeron, of course.

Aeron is an empath but she only knows the half of it. The mystery behind her life, what and who she is is woven with the terrible goings on in her town. The mystery was chilling and powerful and never let up. I was completely stunned by the story – the intensity, the feelings it evoked. Aeron’s growing relationship with someone who wants to help her was beautifully pitched. It let us see more about her and I liked what I saw. She had an amazing heart, having dealt with so much, but still choosing to see the good in people and in life. I was amazed at the talent and skill of someone being able to write such a story. There were so many twists and turns and the characterisation was excellent. Jody Klaire knows how to look into the souls of her characters – be they good or bad. I am so happy that there are 5 more in the series for me to look forward to reading. This is the best book I’ve read in a long time – and I can’t wait to see if she can top it with book 2!

I was given this book for review.

Review of ‘Gnarled Hollow’ by Charlotte Greene

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‘Gnarled Hollow’ is a creepy mystery story that had me gripped from the start. First of all I really liked English Professor Emily and was intrigued by her opportunity to study at Gnarled Hollow, the home of an writer she admired. The author slowly teases out the story, as the other academics arrive there too and they begin to notice some very strange things happening.  Some very dangerous occurrences make them wonder if they should stay. It was atmospheric and reminded me of an English country house mystery with some ‘jump out of your seat’ moments. The mixture of scholars made for some interesting alliances – and I learned not to make assumptions about people. There was layer upon layer of mystery and plenty that I didn’t see coming at all. It was a fantastic story with depth and I really enjoyed it. So much so that I plan to re-read it soon.

I was given this ARC by Bold Strokes and Netgalley for review.