Anne Bonny #BookReview Our Kind Of Cruelty by Araminta Hall @AramintaHall 5* #Psychological #Thriller @arrowpublishing @fsgbooks The relationship is over. The game has just begun. #WhatIsYourVerdict #TheCrave

Our Kind Of Cruelty by Araminta Hall
Review Copy – proof

Mike and Verity have a special game. The Crave.

They play it to prove what they already know: that Verity loves Mike. That she needs Mike.

Even though she’s marrying another man.

Now Mike knows that the stakes of their private game are rising.

This time, someone has to die…

My Review:

‘You should never trust people who yearn to be something other than who they are’

WOW! Where to start with this cracking psychological thriller? This novel gets inside your mind and you become as obsessed with reading the novel, as the protagonist Mike is with telling the narrative. I found the opening very unusual compared to most new release’s in the genre. I didn’t feel drawn to the characters Mike and Verity at all. In fact, I actually found them rather repulsive, but the infatuation, mystery and voice draw you in. Mike can’t be trusted, but can Verity be trusted either?

The novel opens with Mike sat in a prison cell with his cell-mate ‘Fat Terry’. He nonchalantly informs the readers that he is in prison on a murder charge. That his reason for writing his story, is in itself a way of unravelling all the details, so he might grasp a better concept of what he has done. I didn’t like Mike at all.
But I wanted to listen in on his thoughts.

‘In a way she was right, as the American incident proved. I did become a monster’

He tells his story in reflection, recalling the events and his interpretation of them. The timeline is mixed ever so slightly to allow for the many twists and turns.

Upon receiving an invitation to Verity’s upcoming wedding to Angus Metcalf. Something snaps within Mike and he feels compelled to control the past, present, future and what others think of him. But in life you can’t possibly control how others think and feel towards you and so the story flows. . .

Mike and Verity used to date, they had quite a long relationship. Which was tainted by Mikes inability to control and fully dominate Verity at all times.
As healthy relationships go, this one is far from rosy.

Mike and Verity both hold quite prestigious professional roles in their working life. They appear to have ample wealth. But if one thing is for certain, money doesn’t buy you love.
Mike is offered a new opportunity in the states and Verity is unable to accompany him. Mike finds himself thousands of miles away from the woman he so desperately loves. This in turn leads to the breakdown in their relationship, a breakdown Mike is refusing to accept.

The relationship is far from perfect. They both come across as people who enjoy a feeling of superiority over others. This is evidenced in their ‘game’ the crave. I personally found the idea of the crave quite distasteful and immature. I could see, it would only cause further problems as Mike’s inner psychology struggled to separate the game from reality.

‘Some would see that as the basest level of cruelty, others as an act of love. Ultimately, that is what to crave means’

Mike has a deeply troubled past, it goes some way in to explaining why he presents as he does. On the outside, I could easily see why others would envy Mike. His wealth, status and beautiful girlfriend. But deep inside Mike is a broken little boy, a little boy that never felt love, warmth or comfort.
At this point I began to pity Mike. I would say that sympathy is a step too far. But I could empathise with background and why he must struggle with low self-esteem, doubt and a demand to be loved. Mike is a complex and unreliable narrator of the plot, but he is the only one we have. His refusal to let Verity go, began to make me question Verity’s actions and motives. Why would you invite your stalker to your wedding? Is it so easy to judge? Haven’t we all been fooled by the alleged harmless actions of another?
Who is telling the truth Mike or Verity?

There’s a series of emails and Mike’s interactions with others who know and love Verity, such as her snobby mother. These incidents made me sure that it was Mike who was at fault. He was clearly delusional, and Verity was his victim. But there was something about Verity, that I just couldn’t get to grips with.

Looking back, I’m not sure whether I failed to connect with Verity as she failed to fit my view of a victim or because this was a cleverly crafted psychological novel and I should trust no one. Either way, these are fictional characters and therefore it opens the novel up to healthy debate. I could easily see some heated debates in book groups. As not only do the characters get under your skin. It is a powerful theme, which invokes emotions within the reader. Do we blame female victims for the crimes committed against them? If so why? Why are women villainised in high-profile court cases? Does this enable the perpetrator to get an easier sentence?

There are so many themes open for debate the pitfalls of Mikes personality. One moment he is arrogant and confident, the next weak and needy. Is this due to his past or is he cunningly evil? The theme of male entitlement, when dating or pursuing a relationship. Mike’s toxic personality, is he using his childhood vulnerability as a weapon or defence strategy? The power of obsession and its psychological hold on the abuser.

Mike’s emotions and the narrative of the plot become contoured due to his mental health problems and unwillingness to accept reality. He makes the narrative a difficult read in places. Yet I was absolutely hooked on the story from the open pages to the impending court case. Mike’s story reads right up to the very last page. I will be very intrigued to read the reviews of other bloggers and their thoughts on Mike and Verity.
#WhatsYourVerdict? 5*

Araminta Hall
Our Kind Of Cruelty is released today in hardback & currently just 99p on Ebook
Happy publication day Araminta Hall


Anne Bonny #BookReview Dead Girls by Abigail Tarttelin @ajktarttelin 5* #CrimeFiction #Thriller #NewRelease @MantleBooks How far would you go for your best friend?

Dead Girls by Abigail Tarttelin
Review Copy – Netgalley

When her best friend Billie is found murdered, eleven-year-old Thera – fearless and forthright – considers it her duty to find the killer.

Aided by a Ouija board, Billie’s ghost, and the spirits of four other dead girls, she’s determined to succeed. The trouble with Thera, though, is that she doesn’t always know when to stop – and sometimes there’s a fine line between doing the right thing and doing something very, very bad indeed.

My Review:

‘We wanted to contact the dead, just to see who was around’

Thera Wilda is 11yrs old, she is mischievous, feisty and full of life! Everyone remarks how she is the clever and practical one out of her bunch of friends.
But none of them know, just how clever she is……

Thera’s bestest truest friend in the whole wide world is Billie. I loved this portrayal of an innocent childhood friendship. They love pop groups, try to grow Nanopets and are completely comfortable in each other’s company! Their latest past time, is attempting to summon the dead via an old Ouija board.
A game that will lead to new encounters for Thera.

‘Come forth, dead things, and speak to us’

The novel opens with best friends Thera and Billie playing in the local area. They follow a man they make-believe to be a Nazi. They are young, innocent and in some ways immature. But it sets the scene of a typical childhood spring day, lounging your days away, making every small scenario a great adventure. Thera is frustrated at being thought of less-than the beautiful Billie. But their friendship just shows to her, how well they compliment one another. That is until one day Billie goes missing…..

‘Sometimes I feel like I am built for the bad times’ – Thera

‘There’s always been magic between Billie and me’

When Billie goes missing, Thera is bereft with loneliness and isolation. She is mocked by other friends and blamed for encouraging Billie to talk to the mysterious ‘walker’ they saw that afternoon. When Thera’s mum blames her in a moment of anger. She decides she needs to contact the dead to summon Billie’s spirit. Aided by her eccentric grandpa and reluctant brother Sam, she begins her investigation.

“Death is near, Thera”

The novel continues to summarise Thera’s investigation and descriptions of the people and events. At times the novel is quite comical, it is a dark form of humour. Which I actually thought works incredibly well with an 11yr old narrator. Thera’s comments are often littered with innocent sweeping generalisations. I found that despite the dark subject matter, Thera did make me giggle many, many times.

‘Poor, rougher people do swear more. That’s what Nan says’

There are also paragraphs written from an unknown university student’s perspective. I wondered if eventually they’d grow to show us an adult Thera. But the author has so many tricks up her sleeve, trying to guess events before they happen is futile.

Thera eventually decides to summon the dead via what she calls, ‘automatic writing’. Where she holds the pen above the paper allowing the spirits to guide the pen. This seems silly, but as she plots her detection, whilst eating tooty frooties, she gets a message….

‘I want to go home
He said he wouldn’t kill me, get me out

Whilst Thera originally intended to just contact Billie, she soon finds herself with a new bunch of ghost friends. Whilst this would frighten or scare most young girls. Thera is nosey, inquisitive and desperate to understand the mind of perverts…..

‘How can you tell a pervert from just a normal man?’

Thera’s investigation leads her to build new friendships, that challenge what she believes in. It also leads her to question her own father’s capability. She has so many questions and suspicions, she begins to confuse even herself.


The narrator and 1990s era, make Thera’s case seem innocent and light-hearted at times. But the case in question is particularly dark. The story of one girls rape and murder is captured in this unique style. We read Thera’s fears of rape and her questioning of adults and her general confusion of what being a ‘pervert’ entails. The last 20% of the novel is particularly dark and eerie, with a killer twist.

I think the author has done a fantastic job of covering tough issues such as consent, justice and teenage sexuality. Which forces the reader to possibly question their own assumptions of victimhood and villains. I think the Q&A at the end would benefit book groups and can see the great debate this, thought-provoking novel may bring. 5*

Abigail Tarttelin
Dead Girls is released today! Happy publication day Abigail Tarttelin

Anne Bonny #BlogTour Death Of An Actress Q&A with #Author Antony M Brown @ccjury & #Extract #TrueCrime #NewRelease #NonFiction @TheMirrorBooks #DeathOfAnActress Sex, lies & Murder on the high seas. . .

Death Of An Actress by Antony M Brown

Published in time for the 70th anniversary of one of the most dramatic trials in British criminal history.
DEATH OF AN ACTRESS is the second in the Cold Case Jury Collection, a unique series of true crime titles. Each case study tells the story of an unsolved crime, or one in which the verdict is open to doubt. Fresh evidence is presented and the reader is invited to deliver their own verdict.

October 1947. A luxury liner steams over the equator off the coast of West Africa and a beautiful actress disappears from her cabin. Suspicion falls on a dashing deck steward with a reputation for entering the cabins of female passengers. When the liner docks at Southampton, the steward is questioned by police. Protesting his innocence, he makes an astonishing admission that shocks everyone, and is charged with murder. His trial at the historic Great Hall in Winchester draws the world’s media. He is found guilty and sentenced to hang.

But was the verdict sound?

Many believe not.

Now for the first time, Antony M. Brown has secured unprecedented access to the police file, enabling the definitive story to be told. Included in the file are original court exhibits, including a hairbrush with strands of the actress’s red hair. Could a personal effect left behind in her cabin provide clues to how she might have died? Take your seat on the Cold Case Jury…


Q) What’s different about the Cold Case Jury true crime collection?

A) It is a series of cold murder cases, normally from the first half of last century, which combine history with a mystery. I have three goals. First, to engage the reader directly. Rather than passively describing events, I use dramatic reconstruction to show what happened and what might have happened. Second, to present key evidence in a special section. Where possible, I introduce new evidence, too. In Death of an Actress, I am the first author to have seen the police file, and new evidence and photographs are published for the first time. Third, to invite readers to deliver their verdicts online on what they think happened. Hence the reader becomes part of the case, helping to bring it to some closure.

Q) What is Death of an Actress about?

A) The second book in the series is about the tragic death of 21-year-old Gay Gibson in 1947. She disappeared from the passenger liner Durban Castle as it sailed from Cape Town to Southampton. A deck steward, James Camb, was found guilty of her murder and sentenced to hang, although many believe there was insufficient evidence to convict. Others believe he was innocent.

Q) Why is it an interesting case?

A) First, it is a murder on the high seas, which is rare. Second, there was no body – it was dumped into the sea. Again, this is unusual in a murder case because the body reveals the cause of death, and without one, the evidence is circumstantial. Third, there was no body because the only suspect confessed to disposing of it while protesting his innocence at the same time. Lastly, the case is from 1947, a different era from today in terms of travel, moral values and medicine. All these factors play a part in this fascinating case.

Q) Why did you select the excerpt below?

A) The extract dramatically reconstructs the first encounter between Gay Gibson and James Camb on board the Durban Castle. It is based solely on James Camb’s account, of course, but many details were gleaned from other evidence and witness testimony. We know from the statements of her friends – unheard at the trial and published for the first time in the book – that Gay talked intimately to strangers. Did this conversation spark attraction between her and the steward? Or was everything distorted in the mind of the man who would later be charged with her murder? Whatever you believe, it is no exaggeration to say that this encounter started a chain reaction that lead to the death of an actress.

Camb returned, holding a tray aloft with the palm of his right hand, his left tidily tucked behind his back. As he placed the cocktail glass carefully onto the drink mat in front of her, he observed the spark in her beautiful brown eyes.

“A John Collins, madam. Enjoy,” he said, bowing theatrically. Gay giggled and took a sip. “That’s perfect. Thank you.” She replaced the glass on the table, which gently moved up and down with the swell, as if the ship were breathing.

“So, you’re returning from holiday?” Camb asked, eager to restart the conversation. “No, I’ve just finished performing in a play in Johannesburg – Golden Boy. Have you heard of it?” Camb shook his head. “Well, my leading man was Eric Boon. I bet you’ve heard of him.” “Yes, of course, the Thunderbolt. He’s a good boxer.”

“He’s also an actor, you know. He’s already been in a film, Champagne Charlie.” The steward looked blankly. “With Tommy Trinder and Stanley Holloway?” Gay could see he was still none the wiser. “Well, I guess he brought some star quality to the production, being famous ’n’ all.”

“Is the play coming to London? I could come and see it when I get some leave.” “No, it finished early. It received good reviews and everything, but they closed the theatre.” “Sounds like tough luck. What will you do now?” “I’ve got some introductions to theatres back home.” She took another sip of her cocktail. “And your boyfriend’s joining you later?” Camb asked cheekily, although his only interest in the answer was to assess her likely availability.

“Charles has to run his business, so he couldn’t come with me, but I can’t stop thinking about him.” She placed both her hands across her breast. “We’ve been going steady for only a month, but I’m already crazy about him. He’s taken me to all the best restaurants and clubs in Johannesburg, you know.”

Camb was not deterred by her proclaimed affection, but her answer seemed a little odd. “Why not stay and act in South Africa, then?” he asked. “Well…” Gay hesitated, glancing down to the table. She took another sip of her drink. “Things are a little delicate right now.” “You mean he doesn’t feel the same way?” “No, he’s crazy about me, too. I just know he is,” she gushed. “Well, if you were my girl, I wouldn’t let you go,” he joked. Camb expected a giggle in response but instead Gay suddenly looked pensive. “It’s just…” she started, taking a puff of her cigarette. “Well, let’s just say, things may have become a little… complicated.” Camb asked jocularly, “You don’t mean to tell me you’re having a baby?”

Gay didn’t take offence at Camb’s familiarity. “Well, it’s rather too soon to know,” she replied cautiously. “If that’s the position, why don’t you marry the man?” There was a long pause. “It’s not quite as easy as that.” “The longer you leave it…” “He’s already married,” she cut in.

Camb said nothing, as he surmised the probable purpose of her trip to England. Gay changed the subject, her mood brightening a little as she spoke. “I’m going to have a rest after lunch. I always feel a little sleepy then. Would you mind bringing me a tray of afternoon tea in my cabin? At about four o’clock?” “I cannot leave the Promenade Deck, especially at that time,” Camb explained. “I’m busy with the tea service. When you want afternoon tea, summon the cabin steward and tell him what you want. I’ll prepare your tray and he will bring it to your cabin.” Gay nodded as a male voice called out, “Steward, is it possible for someone else to get served here?” “You’d better go,” she smiled.

Camb slid a printed Manila slip and a stubby pencil across the table. “Could you sign and date it. You settle your account at the end of each week.” Gay filled out the docket. “And your cabin number, please.” He took the slip and circled five pence in the top corner, although he was more interested in knowing the cabin number. He said goodbye, and promptly left. The next time he looked into the Long Gallery there was only an empty, lipstick marked cocktail glass on the corner table.

Image from the inside the book:
Image for GP2

Antony M. Brown
Antony M Brown
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