March Book Haul

Quite a large haul this month, but I’m blaming Orenda publishers for that as I went to the Orenda Roadshow at Waterstones in Manchester earlier in the month. Not only did I succumb to a handful of paperbacks, I also discovered that several of the attending authors had Kindle books on offer – well it would have been rude not to!

Kindle Purchases

(Click on images for non-affiliated buying links)

 

East of EnglandEast of England by Eamonn Griffin (Unbound Feb book choice)

Dan Matlock is out of jail. He’s got a choice. Stay or leave. Go back to where it all went wrong, or just get out of the county. Disappear. Start again as someone else. But it’s not as simple as that.

There’s the matter of the man he killed. It wasn’t murder, but even so. You tell that to the family. Especially when that family is the Mintons, who own half of what’s profitable and two-thirds of what’s crooked between the Wolds and the coast. Who could have got to Matlock as easy as you like in prison, but who haven’t touched him. Not yet.

Like Matlock found out in prison, there’s no getting away from yourself. So what’s the point in not facing up to other people?

It’s time to go home.

 

CullCull by Tanvir Bush (Unbound March book choice)

Alex has a problem. Categorized as one of the disabled, dole-scrounging underclass, she is finding it hard to make ends meet.

When in her part-time placement at the local newspaper she stumbles onto a troubling link between the disappearance of several homeless people, the government’s new Care and Protect Act, and the Grassybanks Residential Home for the disabled, elderly and vulnerable, she knows she has to investigate further… but at what cost to herself and her guide dog Chris?

Sunset over the Cherry OrchardSunset over the Cherry Orchard by Jo Thomas

It’s time for Beti Winter to dance to her own beat.

After three failed engagements Beti is in desperate need of a fresh start. What better place than the sun-drenched hills of southern Spain?

But it’s not all sangria and siestas. Beti finds work on an old Andalusian cherry farm where there are cherries to be picked, trees to be watered and her fiery boss, Antonio, to win over.

As the sun toasts her skin, Beti finds herself warming to the Spanish way of life. Embracing the art of flamenco, she discovers there is much to learn from the dance of passion. She just has to let loose and listen to the rhythm of her heart.

 

Casting OffCasting Off by P I Paris

When the residents of a Highland care home discover that the new owners are about to substantially put up the fees, they know that dramatic action is called for. But what can a group of senior citizens possibly do against a big organisation? For Dorothy, the situation is serious. If she can’t raise money she’ll have to leave all her friends, like dear Miss Ross.

In protest, the residents barricade themselves into the lounge. However, their rebellion fails, so worldly-wise Joan suggests a most unusual way to cover the rise – a very naughty chat line for men who want to talk to older women ‘in a particular way’! As their lives take a series of unexpected turns, things get increasingly out of control…

 

The SuspectThe Suspect by Fiona Barton

‘The police belonged to another world – the world they saw on the television or in the papers. Not theirs.’

When two eighteen-year-old girls go missing on their gap year in Thailand, their families are thrust into the international spotlight: desperate, bereft and frantic with worry.

Journalist Kate Waters always does everything she can to be first to the story, first with the exclusive, first to discover the truth – and this time is no exception. But she can’t help but think of her own son, who she hasn’t seen in two years, since he left home to go travelling. This time it’s personal.

And as the case of the missing girls unfolds, they will all find that even this far away, danger can lie closer to home than you might think . . .

 

A Vintage YearA Vintage Year by Rosie Howard

It started with ‘happily ever after’, yet just three years after Bella’s fairy-tale wedding to irrepressible Charlie Wellbeloved, her best friend, Maddy, is expecting a baby, while Bella’s own weight gain is purely from comfort eating. Only her little Labrador, Dolly, can boost her spirits as she gloomily surveys her failing marriage and fledgling interior design business.

Dovecot Farm is just a rainstorm away from ruin, but Charlie is hoping against hope his family vineyard will produce a vintage year, saving his business, his childhood home and – most of all – his marriage…

When handsome Rufus appears in the tight-knit Havenbury community, he quickly charms Bella and makes himself indispensable to Charlie. But is he really too good to be true…

 

I Can See YouI Can See You by Michael Leese

SOMEONE WANTS JONATHAN ROPER DEAD.
His would-be-killer is desperate to spend some quality time with Scotland Yard’s brightest young star. He tries to grab Roper’s attention with some gory messages but no-one is noticing and now he’s getting angry.

Roper owes his detective skills to an astonishing memory, and attention to detail that allows him to spot links other people miss. But his autism makes things complicated. He doesn’t mean to be difficult, but his lack of social skills make him a hard man to like. Detective Chief Inspector Brian Hooley is the one man who “gets” him… even though the DCI needs to withstand a barrage of bracingly direct observations that many would see as insults. This forms the back-drop for some laugh out loud moments as the tension mounts in this gripping crime thriller.

 

The Missing SisterThe Missing Sister by Dinah Jefferies

Belle Hatton has embarked upon an exciting new life far from home: a glamorous job as a nightclub singer in 1930s Burma, with a host of sophisticated new friends and admirers. But Belle is haunted by a mystery from the past – a 25 year old newspaper clipping found in her parents’ belongings after their death, saying that the Hattons were leaving Rangoon after the disappearance of their baby daughter, Elvira.

Belle is desperate to find out what happened to the sister she never knew she had – but when she starts asking questions, she is confronted with unsettling rumours, malicious gossip, and outright threats. Oliver, an attractive, easy-going American journalist, promises to help her, but an anonymous note tells her not to trust those closest to her. . .

Belle survives riots, intruders, and bomb attacks – but nothing will stop her in her mission to uncover the truth. Can she trust her growing feelings for Oliver? Is her sister really dead? And could there be a chance Belle might find her?

 

Dig Two GravesDig Two Graves by Keith Nixon

When teenager Nick Buckingham tumbles from the fifth floor of an apartment block, Detective Sergeant Solomon Gray answers the call with a sick feeling in his stomach. The victim was just a kid, sixteen years old. And the exact age the detective’s son was, the son Gray has not seen since he went missing at a funfair ten years ago. Each case involving children haunts Gray with the reminder that his son may still be out there – or worse, dead. The seemingly open and shut case of suicide twists into a darker discovery. Buckingham and Gray have never met, so why is Gray’s number on the dead teenager’s mobile phone?

Gray begins to unravel a murky world of abuse, lies, and corruption. And when the body of Reverend David Hill is found shot to death in the vestry of Gray’s old church, Gray wonders how far the depravity stretches and who might be next. Nothing seems connected, and yet there is one common thread: Detective Sergeant Solomon Gray, himself. As the bodies pile up, Gray must face his own demons and his son’s abduction.

Crippled by loss Gray takes the first step on the long road of redemption. But is the killer closer to home than he realised?

Set in the once grand town of Margate in the south of England, the now broken and depressed seaside resort becomes its own character in this dark police suspense thriller, perfect for fans of Ian Rankin, Stuart MacBride, and Peter James.

 

An Italian JourneyAn Italian Journey by Neil Maresca

“An Italian Journey” is the light-hearted, inspirational story of Nick and Laura Lobono’s love affair with each other and with Italy. When they win a free bus tour of Italy, Nick, an emotionally fragile veteran, is reluctant to go, but Laura insists, and as they travel from Milan to Venice to Florence and finally on to Rome sharing hilarious misadventures and moving experiences with their fellow travelers, Nick slowly heals, and he and Laura find they have embarked, not on a vacation, but on a journey of reconciliation, recovery, and love.

 

Getting over GaryGetting Over Gary by Jessica Redland

How do you move on when life keeps throwing surprises at you?

Elise married her childhood sweetheart, Gary, straight out of college, and they’ve been happy together for over twelve years. Elise is now desperate to start a family, but Gary doesn’t seem to share her enthusiasm anymore. Arriving home early from a party, she discovers why: Gary’s been keeping a secret from her. A very big secret.

While her own marriage appears to be falling apart, being a supportive bridesmaid for her best friend, Sarah, isn’t easy. Especially not when Clare, her nemesis from day one, is one of the other bridesmaids. If she’s going to get through it, she needs to put her own feelings aside, find herself again, and get over Gary, fast.

Could recently-divorced Daniel be the tonic Elise needs, or is he full of secrets and lies too? Is his hostile, but strangely attractive brother, Michael, the genuine article instead? And why do the good guys like Stevie turn her down?

But then Elise discovers she has a secret of her own and getting over Gary suddenly becomes the least of her worries…

 

HydraHydra by Matt Wesolowski

A family massacre. A deluded murderess. Five witnesses. Six stories. Which one is true?

One cold November night in 2014, in a small town in the north west of England, 21-year-old Arla Macleod bludgeoned her mother, father and younger sister to death with a hammer, in an unprovoked attack known as the Macleod Massacre. Now incarcerated at a medium-security mental-health institution, Arla will speak to no one but Scott King, an investigative journalist, whose Six Storiespodcasts have become an internet sensation.
King finds himself immersed in an increasingly complex case, interviewing five witnesses and Arla herself, as he questions whether Arla’s responsibility for the massacre was a diminished as her legal team made out.
As he unpicks the stories, he finds himself thrust into a world of deadly forbidden ‘games’, online trolls, and the mysterious black-eyed kids, whose presence seems to extend far beyond the delusions of a murderess…
Dark, chilling and gripping, Hydra is both a classic murder mystery and an up-to-the-minute, startling thriller, that shines light in places you may never, ever want to see again.

 

Deep Down DeadDeep Down Dead by Steph Broadribb

Lori Anderson is as tough as they come, managing to keep her career as a fearless Florida bounty hunter separate from her role as single mother to nine-year-old Dakota, who suffers from leukaemia. But when the hospital bills start to rack up, she has no choice but to take her daughter along on a job that will make her a fast buck. And that’s when things start to go wrong. The fugitive she’s assigned to haul back to court is none other than JT, Lori’s former mentor – the man who taught her everything she knows … the man who also knows the secrets of her murky past.
Not only is JT fighting a child exploitation racket operating out of one of Florida’s biggest amusement parks, Winter Wonderland, a place where ‘bad things never happen’, but he’s also mixed up with the powerful Miami Mob. With two fearsome foes on their tails, just three days to get JT back to Florida, and her daughter to protect, Lori has her work cut out for her. When they’re ambushed at a gas station, the stakes go from high to stratospheric, and things become personal.

 

Good SamaritansGood Samaritans by Will Carver

One crossed wire, three dead bodies and six bottles of bleach…

Seth Beauman can’t sleep. He stays up late, calling strangers from his phonebook, hoping to make a connection, while his wife, Maeve, sleeps upstairs. A crossed wire finds a suicidal Hadley Serf on the phone to Seth, thinking she is talking to The Samaritans.

But a seemingly harmless, late-night hobby turns into something more for Seth and for Hadley, and soon their late-night talks are turning into day-time meet-ups. And then this dysfunctional love story turns into something altogether darker, when Seth brings Hadley home…

And someone is watching…

 

Beton RougeBeton Rouge by Simone Buchholz

On a warm September morning, an unconscious man is found in a cage at the entrance to the offices of one of Germany’s biggest magazines. He’s soon identified as a manager of the company, and he’s been tortured. Three days later, another manager appears in a similar way.

Chastity Riley and her new colleague Ivo Stepanovic are tasked with uncovering the truth behind the attacks, an investigation that goes far beyond the revenge they first suspect … to the dubious past shared by both victims. Travelling to the south of Germany, they step into the hothouse world of boarding schools, where secrets are currency, and monsters are bred … monsters who will stop at nothing to protect themselves.

 

Dead in the DarkDead in the Dark by Stephen Booth

How do you prove a murder without a body?

Ten years ago, Reece Bower was accused of killing his wife, a crime he always denied. Extensive police searches near his home in Bakewell found no trace of Annette Bower’s remains, and the case against him collapsed.

But now memories of the original investigation have been resurrected for Detective Inspector Ben Cooper – because Reece Bower himself has disappeared, and his new wife wants answers.

Cooper can’t call on the Major Crime Unit and DS Diane Fry for help unless he can prove a murder took place – impossible without a body. As his search moves into the caves and abandoned mines in the isolated depths of Lathkilldale, the question is: who would want revenge for the death of Annette Bower?

 

Paradise Por FavorParadise Por Favor by Robert Dodds

Money in the bank and a new life in Spain… what could possibly go wrong?
After making his pile in the building trade Tom Rook has an eye for the easy life. With his partner Linda he moves to Elysium, a splendid new house on the Costa del Sol. But their lives get ever more complicated as their slender contacts with the ‘real’ Spain grow into life-changing connections.
This is a humorous novel that also takes a serious look at relationships under strain – both British and Spanish.

 

The Battle for Spain

The Battle for Spain by Antony Beevor

The civil war that tore Spain apart between 1936 and 1939 and attracted liberals and socialists from across the world to support the cause against Franco was one of the most hard-fought and bitterest conflicts of the 20th century: a war of atrocities and political genocide and a military testing ground before WWII for the Russians, Italians and Germans, whose Condor Legion so notoriously destroyed Guernica.

Antony Beevor’s account narrates the origins of the Civil War and its violent and dramatic course from the coup d’etat in July 1936 through the savage fighting of the next three years which ended in catastrophic defeat for the Republicans in 1939. And he succeeds especially well in unravelling the complex political and regional forces that played such an important part in the origins and history of the war.

 

A Fractured WinterA Fractured Winter by Alison Baillie

From the outside, Olivia seems to lead an idyllic existence with her husband and children. But when she starts receiving notes, she knows her perfect life is under threat.

She thought she’d managed to put the past behind her, but someone seems determined to reveal her secret.

Meanwhile, girls are vanishing in the area and Olivia fears for her family’s safety.

Has someone discovered the real reason she left Scotland all those years ago?

And does her secret have links to the recent disappearances?

When someone is out to get you, is there anywhere you can hide?

 

Sewing The Shadows TogetherSewing the Shadows Together by Alison Baillie

More than thirty years after thirteen-year-old Shona McIver was raped and murdered in Portobello, the seaside suburb of Edinburgh, the crime still casts a shadow over the lives of her brother Tom and her best friend Sarah.

When modern DNA evidence reveals that the wrong man was convicted of the crime, the case is reopened. So who did kill Shona?

Soon Sarah and Tom find themselves caught up in the search for Shona’s murderer, and everyone is a suspect.

The foundations of Sarah’s perfect family life begin to crumble as she realises that nothing is as it appears.

 

LOS HOMBRES DE BOLTONLes Hombres de Bolton by Paul A Rose

This is the story of Dave Atkinson, Ian Taylor, Stan Stead and Brian Horrocks; four friends all in their mid-forties who embark upon a road-trip around the north of Spain, finally arriving in Madrid. Los Hombres de Bolton documents their journey, as the four meet a number of interesting and amusing characters including cheeky waiters, a hen party from Yorkshire and a gay Guardia Civil Officer and his long-suffering senior colleague.

 

A Thousand Roads HomeA Thousand Roads Home by Carmel Harrington

Where is home? Wherever the people you love are.

Single mother, Ruth, and her son, DJ, have never truly fitted in, but that didn’t matter, so long as they were together. When their home comes under threat, their quiet life will change forever.

DJ meets Tom, a man who ten years ago walked out of his house and never looked back. Ruth, DJ and Tom have all felt like outsiders. Burdened with grief and insecurities, they are not living their best lives. But together, these three ordinary people will do an extraordinary thing…

 

Curse of the PoppyCurse of the Poppy by Emily Organ

A woman dies in a burglary in Fitzrovia. A man is murdered in an opium den in Limehouse. Gutsy Fleet Street reporter Penny Green suspects the two deaths are connected, but how can she prove it?

The answer may lie in Whitehall where the India Office reaps the benefits of Britain’s opium trade. But when Inspector James Blakely of Scotland Yard begins investigating, an unforeseen danger looms.

Soon Penny is forced to act alone and is put to the ultimate test when her quest becomes personal.

 

In a House of LiesIn a House of Lies by Ian Rankin

Everyone has something to hide
A missing private investigator is found, locked in a car hidden deep in the woods. Worse still – both for his family and the police – is that his body was in an area that had already been searched.

Everyone has secrets
Detective Inspector Siobhan Clarke is part of a new inquiry, combing through the mistakes of the original case. There were always suspicions over how the investigation was handled and now – after a decade without answers – it’s time for the truth.

Nobody is innocent
Every officer involved must be questioned, and it seems everyone on the case has something to hide, and everything to lose. But there is one man who knows where the trail may lead – and that it could be the end of him: John Rebus.

 

Paperback Purchases

 

InbornInborn by Thomas Enger

What turns a boy into a killer?

When the high school in the small Norwegian village of Fredheim becomes a murder scene, the finger is soon pointed at seventeen-year-old Even. As the investigation closes in, social media is ablaze with accusations, rumours and even threats, and Even finds himself the subject of an online trial as well as being in the dock … for murder?

Even pores over his memories of the months leading up to the crime, and it becomes clear that more than one villager was acting suspiciously … and secrets are simmering beneath the calm surface of this close-knit community.  As events from the past play tag with the present, he’s forced to question everything he thought he knew. Was the death of his father in a car crash a decade earlier really accidental? Has a relationship stirred up something that someone is prepared to kill to protect?

It seems that there may be no one that Even can trust.

But can we trust him?

 

Worst Case ScenarioWorst Case Scenario by Helen Fitzgerald

Mary Shields is a moody, acerbic probation offer, dealing with some of Glasgow’s worst cases, and her job is on the line. Liam Macdowall was imprisoned for murdering his wife, and he’s published a series of letters to the dead woman, in a book that makes him an unlikely hero – and a poster boy for Men’s Rights activists.

Liam is released on licence into Mary’s care, but things are far from simple. Mary develops a poisonous obsession with Liam and his world, and when her son and Liam’s daughter form a relationship, Mary will stop at nothing to impose her own brand of justice … with devastating consequences.

 

Call Me Star GirlCall Me Star Girl by Louise Beech

Pregnant Victoria Valbon was brutally murdered in an alley three weeks ago – and her killer hasn’t been caught.

Tonight is Stella McKeever’s final radio show. The theme is secrets. You tell her yours, and she’ll share some of hers.

Stella might tell you about Tom, a boyfriend who likes to play games, about the mother who abandoned her, now back after fourteen years. She might tell you about the perfume bottle with the star-shaped stopper, or about her father …

What Stella really wants to know is more about the mysterious man calling the station … who says he knows who killed Victoria, and has proof.

Tonight is the night for secrets, and Stella wants to know everything…

 

Palm Beach, FinlandPalm Beach Finland by Antti Tuomainen

Jan Nyman, the ace detective of the covert operations unit of the National Central Police, is sent to a sleepy seaside town to investigate a mysterious death. Nyman arrives in the town dominated by a bizarre holiday village – the ‘hottest beach in Finland’. The suspect: Olivia Koski, who has only recently returned to her old hometown. The mission: find out what happened, by any means necessary.

With a nod to Fargo, and dark noir, Palm Beach, Finland is both a page-turning thriller and a black comedy about lust for money, fleeing dreams and people struggling at turning points in their lives – chasing their fantasies regardless of reason.

 

The CourierThe Courier by Kjell Ola Dahl

In 1942, Jewish courier Ester is betrayed, narrowly avoiding arrest by the Gestapo. In a great haste, she escapes to Sweden, saving herself. Her family in Oslo, however, is deported to Auschwitz. In Stockholm, Ester meets the resistance hero, Gerhard Falkum, who has left his little daughter and fled both the Germans and allegations that he murdered his wife, Åse, who helped Ester get to Sweden. Their burgeoning relationship ends abruptly when Falkum dies in a fire.

And yet, twenty-five years later, Falkum shows up in Oslo. He wants to reconnect with his daughter. But where has he been, and what is the real reason for his return? Ester stumbles across information that forces her to look closely at her past, and to revisit her war-time training to stay alive…

 

House of BeautyThe House of Beauty by Melba Escobar  – (Reading in Heels – March choice)

House of Beauty is a high-end salon in Bogotá’s exclusive Zona Rosa area, and Karen is one of its best beauticians. But there is more to her role than the best way to apply wax, or how to give the perfect massage. Her clients share their most intimate secrets with her. She knows all about their breast implants, their weekends in Miami, their divorces and affairs.

One rainy afternoon a teenage girl turns up for a treatment with Karen, dressed in her school uniform and smelling of alcohol. The very next day, the girl is found dead.

Karen was the last person to see the girl alive, and the girl’s mother is desperate to find out what she knows. Most important of all: who was her daughter going to meet that night?

 

Review Copies

 

Messy, Wonderful UsMessy, Wonderful Us by Catherine Isaac (courtesy of Simon and Schuster) due November 2019

Allie has lived a careful, focused existence. But now she has unexpectedly taken leave from her job as an academic research scientist to fly to a place she only recently heard about in a letter. Her father, Joe, doesn’t know the reason for her trip, and Allie can’t bring herself to tell him that she’s flying to Italy to unpick the truth about what her mother did all those years ago.

Beside her is her best friend since schooldays, Ed. He has just shocked everyone with a sudden separation from his wife, Julia. Allie hopes that a break will help him open up.

But the secrets that emerge as the sun beats down on Lake Garda and Liguria don’t merely concern her family’s tangled past. And the two friends are forced to confront questions about their own life-long relationship that are impossible to resolve.

 

 

 

 

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