Anne Bonny #BookReview It Was Her by @markhillwriter #CrimeFiction #NewRelease #DIRayDrake #Series @littlebrown The toxic family, with toxic children that hide behind a middle-class façade #ItWasHer

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It Was Her by Mark Hill
Review copy
Synopsis:

Twenty years ago, Tatia was adopted into a well-off home where she seemed happy, settled. Then the youngest boy in the family dies in an accident, and she gets the blame.

Did she do it?

Tatia is cast out, away from her remaining adopted siblings Joel and Poppy. Now she yearns for a home to call her own. So when she see families going on holiday, leaving their beautiful homes empty, there seems no harm in living their lives while they are gone. But somehow, people keep ending up dead.

Did she kill them?

As bodies start to appear in supposedly safe neighbourhoods, DI Ray Drake and DS Flick Crowley race to find the thinnest of links between the victims. But Drake’s secret past is threatening to destroy everything.

My Review:

I was a big fan of Mark Hill’s debut novel His First Lie, as a psychological thriller it worked well to have so many added twists and turns. This new release is similar in that sense, but the plotline is completely different. This time we have a new potential baddie by the name of Tatia. Can DI Ray Drake and DS Flick Crowley solve the case, whilst avoiding their own dark secrets?

One moment Will was there, and the next –

20yrs ago the Tatia Mamaladze was given the new name of Sarah and adopted into the Bliss family. Jill and Patrick Bliss are a politically ambitious couple and sought to expand their profile. However, it all went wrong one sunny day with a walk along the cliffs. Their life as they knew it was shattered and they were left to deal with the grief and pain of their 3yr son Will’s death. Siblings Poppy and Joel were ushered into the family fold, whereas Sarah was ostracised! Which left permanent scars, on her already fragile well-bring. Needless to say Tatia has never gotten over being the outcast. . .

The novel opens with the crime scene of murder victims of Simon and Melinda Harrow. They returned from their holiday early due to a work emergency, only to disrupt their burglar and were savagely beaten to death! The crime scene is a mess and there is evidence everywhere. Whoever did this is neither skilled nor even trying to hide their finger prints. The killer is brazen, with a clearly vicious temper.

‘Let’s hope Goldilocks has an alibi’ – Eddie Upson

Additionally, to the backstory of the Bliss family and present-day crimes, Flick is struggling to cope carrying the burden of Drake’s secret.
Will she expose them or keep it quiet?

The intruder murders – Goldilocks killings continue, with more victims discovered beaten to death in their own homes. When the killer eventually strikes at a home with children in bed. At the Judd residence the daughter Emily (5yrs) not only saw the killer but spoke to her and it is then revealed that the person she spoke to was female. The woman appeared caring in nature towards Emily and even tucked her back into bed after committing the murder of her parents. . .

‘Come along, Emily let me take you back to bed’

The novel then jumps from the current string of murders to the present-day Joel and Tatia. The pair live together with Tatia’s lover Carl. Joel appears immature and needy, he is submissive to Carl and lives under his rules. Tatia is protective of Joel and wants to have the ‘perfect family’. Whilst Carl is bossy and domineering. It is a bizarre set-up and one that is destined to spill over into violence.

‘Death, violence seemed to follow her everywhere’

The novels timeline moves around to show various stages in the aftermath of Will’s death. We learn that Sarah/Tatia was blamed for the death and most specifically by her adopted sister Poppy.
No matter how much she tries to impress upon Poppy, her mind is set. . .

‘Whatever deluded thought you have in your head, you are not, and never will be, part of our family’ – Poppy

The aftermath of Will’s death had huge ramifications for the family. Patrick would go onto become an alcoholic and commit suicide by hanging, to be discovered by his young son Joel. It is Tatia that continues to shoulder the blame for every misfortune that occurs to the family. But why? Is Tatia as evil as they say she is?

‘Tatia was a bad seed. Always was. Always will be’ – Poppy

This novel is a fast-paced rollercoaster of a ride. The toxic family, with toxic children that hide behind a middle-class façade builds to a dramatic ending for all concerned.
The various personalities of the Bliss family keep you guessing and guessing. It is clear to see, everything was far from bliss in that family. 4*

Mark_Hill-308
Mark Hill
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My Review for His First Lie
Q&A with Mark Hill

Anne Bonny #GuestPost #Promo #Kickstarter A Timeless Celebration by @DianneAscroft #CenturyCottageCozyMystery #Mystery

Timeless final 2mg

Thank you for inviting me to your blog, Abby. I guess I should introduce myself to your readers. I’m Dianne Ascroft and I write historical and contemporary fiction. After writing historical fiction set during the Second World War for several years now, last summer I began writing my first cozy mystery, A Timeless Celebration.

Let me tell you a bit about the novel: When an artefact from the Titanic is stolen before her town’s 150th anniversary celebration, it’s up to Lois Stone to catch the thief. Middle-aged widow Lois has moved from bustling Toronto to tranquil Fenwater and is settling into her new life, feeling secure away from the dangers of the city. Then two events happen that shatter her serenity: her house is burgled and an antique watch belonging to a Titanic survivor is stolen from the local museum. Her best friend, Marge was responsible for the watch’s safekeeping until its official presentation to the museum at the town’s 150th anniversary party and its disappearance will jeopardise her job. Lois won’t let her friend’s reputation be tarnished or her job endangered by an accusation of theft. She’s determined to find the watch in time to save her best friend’s job and the town’s 150th anniversary celebration.

And so begins a week of new friends, apple and cinnamon muffins, calico cats, midnight intruders, shadowy caprine companions and more than one person with a reason to steal the watch, set against the backdrop of century houses on leafy residential streets, the swirling melodies of bagpipes, a shimmering heat haze and the burble of cool water. A Timeless Celebration is the story of Lois’s unwitting entry into the world of amateur sleuthing in a small town, which beckons readers to stop and stay a while.

As I mentioned, I started writing the novel last summer after a memory of home got the ball rolling. I’ve lived in Great Britain for almost three decades but I still have a strong connection to my birthplace, Canada. One really vivid image I have from home is of a quaint, small town with a sprightly river running through it where I’ve spent many happy hours. For several years, my mother was a resident of a nursing home in the town and each summer I flew over to spend a week with her. I pushed her wheelchair along the peaceful banks of the river in the nursing home grounds and we ate lunch at a nearby diner where the waitress always remembered my mother’s order. After I left my mother each day, I wandered along the main street, stopping at the squat, stone Carnegie Library to use the computer and leisurely browsing in the bookshop and numerous craft shops. I also wandered into the old fashioned clothing stores and the market housed in a barnlike building. In the evenings, as the air cooled and the sun sank lower in the sky, I strolled along streets shaded by mature oak and maple trees admiring the traditional stone architecture of the houses.

Everywhere I went people were friendly. They had time to chat and I discovered a sense of community that I hadn’t known in the huge city where I grew up. Whenever I think of the town, it always makes me smile, and one day last summer as I remembered times I had spent there, I realised it was the perfect place to set my new series. I loved the town and I was sure readers would find it a delightful place to be. So that was how the Century Cottage Cozy Mystery series began.

So now I’ve finished writing A Timeless Celebration and need to get it edited before it can go to print. But I need to raise the money to hire the editor as I am publishing the book myself. So I’ve launched a Kickstarter campaign to do this. Every pledge to pre-order a copy of the book (and other rewards) will take me a step closer to making the book happen. Please visit my Kickstarter page for more information.
Here’s the link

I’d be delighted if you’d join the other readers who are helping this book become a reality.

DA
Dianne Ascroft
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Kickstarter
Good luck Dianne

 

Anne Bonny #BlogTour #Author Q&A with @RebeccaLFleet – The House Swap #Psychological #Thriller #NewRelease #TheHouseSwap #AuthorTalks @TransworldBooks Be careful who you let in. . .

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The House Swap by Rebecca Fleet
Review to follow
Synopsis:

‘No one lives this way unless they want to hide something.’

When Caroline and Francis receive an offer to house swap, they jump at the chance for a week away from home. After the difficulties of the past few years, they’ve worked hard to rebuild their marriage for their son’s sake; now they want to reconnect as a couple.

On arrival, they find a house that is stark and sinister in its emptiness – it’s hard to imagine what kind of person lives here. Then, gradually, Caroline begins to uncover some signs of life – signs of her life. The flowers in the bathroom or the music in the CD player might seem innocent to her husband but to her they are anything but. It seems the person they have swapped with is someone she used to know; someone she’s desperate to leave in her past.

But that person is now in her home – and they want to make sure she’ll never forget . . .

Q&A:

Q) For the readers can you tell us a bit about yourself and your new novel, The House Swap?

A) Hello! I’m 38, live in London, and in my day job I work as a brand strategy consultant. I’ve always written, but The House Swap is my first foray into psychological thriller/suspense. It tells the story of a married couple struggling to get their relationship back on track after a difficult few years. To this end, they decide to enter into a house swap and have a break away from home, but when they reach the new house it isn’t long before the wife, Caroline, begins to feel that their surroundings are loaded, carrying memories of a traumatic period of her life that she has worked hard to forget. She starts to wonder if it can be a coincidence – and if not, who she has just let into her own home.

Q) The novel has the unique theme of being centred around a house swap, what was the inspiration behind this idea?

A) I had noticed the growing popularity of house swaps through sites such as Airbnb and not been remotely tempted to try it myself, as I always found it a rather worrying concept – our homes are such personal and private spaces, and allowing a stranger into them without being there ourselves requires a high degree of trust. I started thinking about what could go wrong, and how it would feel if you became aware that you had opened up your own home to someone who might not be a complete stranger after all, and who had their own dark motivations for being there.

Q) The novel focuses on a couple trying to get their marriage back on track. Does this add extra depth to their characters and backgrounds?

A) I hope so! I always saw the book as a relationship drama as much as a thriller. These days, psychological thriller is a pretty broad term. For me, the tension in the book springs largely from the dynamics between the key characters, their relationships to one another and the ways in which they might undermine each other and threaten the fabric of their lives through their own behaviour. The couple in the book, Caroline and Francis, aren’t intended to be wholly likeable; the whole point for me was to show them as real and very flawed people who are trying to do the best they can in difficult circumstances – sometimes misguidedly.

Q) The novel also has a theme of past relationships and those we’d rather leave in the past. With social media and sites such as friends reunited, this has become much more difficult. Did this inspire the novel in any way?

A) I think that our attitudes to past relationship in general are very different in today’s society. The temptation to “keep tabs” on people in a virtual sense even when they have disappeared from our day-to-day lives is a strong one, and it’s almost become socially acceptable, even if we don’t like to admit it. So although this might not have inspired the plot of the novel consciously, I do think that I was aware that these days, trying to leave a relationship in the past as Caroline is doing in the book requires a lot of discipline and dedication. It’s so easy to slip back into wanting to know what that person is up to, and it’s a short step from that to still caring about them.

Q) With the psychological/thriller genre being massively competitive, does this encourage authors to think outside the box and develop new ideas and themes?

A) It’s fair to say that there is quite a bit of repetition when it comes to psychological thriller plots, which I think is pretty inevitable – there are only so many themes and ideas to go round! But yes, I do think it has become more important to try and push the boundaries of those and put a new spin on them. The funny thing is that often new trends emerge which perhaps you find yourself part of without having known or planned it; recently in the Evening Standard, The House Swap was included as an example of the new “criblit” trend (psychological suspense/thrillers with houses at their heart). At the time of writing the book, I don’t think this was a “thing”, but I suppose that sometimes there is just something in the water…

Q) House Swap is a debut novel, what was your feeling upon seeing the finished cover and promotional materials?

A) I have actually had a couple of literary novels published under a different name in a past life (!), but the experience was quite different this time. The psychological thriller genre is one that lends itself brilliantly to strong covers and promotion, and Transworld have done a great job on that. I immediately loved the cover concept of the two monochrome doors – I think it stands out nicely on the shelf and sets the right tone. And then there have been the posters, the book trailer… it is more than I had hoped for and very exciting to see it all coming together.

Q) How will you be celebrating your books launch/release?

A) I had my launch party on 3rd May, which was a great occasion! We held it in a bookshop in Notting Hill and it was the perfect chance for family and friends to come together along with people from Transworld and my agent to celebrate the book’s release. It was very much like a wedding in the sense that in retrospect I can’t actually remember much of what I said to people or even who I talked to, but I was left with the sense of having enjoyed it a lot, which is what you want really…

Q) Finally, what is next in store do you have a next novel planned and are we allowed any details?

A) Yes, I am currently working on my next book, which is in the same genre but not directly connected to The House Swap. In brief, it concerns a man who discovers that his wife is in the witness protection programme as a result of a crime involving her sister eighteen years earlier, and the action shifts back and forth between the present day and the time at which the crime took place. I won’t say too much more about it now, but hopefully it will appeal to the same sort of readers who enjoy The House Swap!

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Rebecca Fleet
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