Anne Bonny #BookReview November Road by @Lou_Berney #NewRelease #Literary #CrimeFiction @HarperCollins ‘Fantastic historical American noir 4*’

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November Road by Lou Berney
US Review Copy
Synopsis:

Set against the assassination of JFK, a poignant and evocative crime novel – a story of unexpected connections, daring possibilities, and the hope of second chances from the Edgar Award-winning author of The Long and Faraway Gone.

Frank Guidry’s luck has finally run out…

A loyal street lieutenant to New Orleans’ mob boss Carlos Marcello, Guidry knows too much about the crime of the century: the assassination of President John F. Kennedy.

Within hours of JFK’s murder, everyone with ties to Marcello is turning up dead. Suspecting he’s next, Guidry hits the road to Las Vegas. When he spots a beautiful housewife and her two young daughters stranded on the side of the road, he sees the perfect disguise to cover his tracks from the hit men on his trail.

The two strangers share the open road west – and find each other on the way. But Guidry’s relentless hunters are closing in on him, and now he doesn’t want to just survive, he wants to really live, maybe for the first time.

Everyone’s expendable, or they should be, but Guidry just can’t throw away the woman he’s come to love. And it might get them both killed.

My Review:

November Road is an atmospheric novel set amongst the backdrop of the JFK assassination. I am a huge fan of American Noir and historical fiction, so I couldn’t wait to get started on this novel. I am new to Lou Berney’s writing but will be keeping an eye out for future titles by the author.

The novel opens in 1963 New Orleans, with one of our central character Frank Guidry. Frank currently works for mob boss Carlos Marcello, but fears after the assassination of JFK, he himself will be left for dead.
‘Someone shot him. Someone shot President Kennedy’

Franks possibly involvement and links to the assassination is all fully explored within his narrative. You actually begin to become quite attached to Frank, as he desperately seeks to leave town before he is killed. . .

‘Bobby Kennedy and the FBI wouldn’t stop until they’d turned over every goddamn rock’

The other central is mother of two young daughters Charlie (Charlotte). Charlie is a photographer by trade, she is married to a deadbeat alcoholic named Dooley. They are behind on their mortgage and struggling financially. In a moment of madness, she packs up her and her daughter’s Rosemary and Joan’s possessions and leaves town. Charlie seeks a better life for her daughter’s, than the life she has lived. She knows the only way to achieve this, is to break free of Dooley.
But Dooley might not be quite so keen to see her leave. . .

‘Divorce was the edge of a cliff. Once you flung yourself into the great blue yonder, there was no going back’

The lives of Frank and Charlie collide, and this is when the novel really shines. We are show the narratives of Frank, Charlie and those hunting Guidry.
It amps up the intensity of the novel and threat to Guidry’s life.

‘He couldn’t chase the idea from his head that maybe, just maybe, Seraphine and Carlos planned to kill him’

Through Charlie’s eyes we learn what life was truly like in the 1960s. An era that would go on to be the beginning of the female sexual revolution. But also, one where divorce was considered a scandal of the highest order.
Between Charlie and Frank, a meeting of minds develops, an unusual pairing but both desperately fleeing uncertain circumstances.

The era and background history really add to the story.
Fantastic historical American noir 4*

LB
Lou Berney
Website
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Anne Bonny #BookReview The Blackbird season by @KateMoretti1 #CrimeFiction #Mystery #Thriller @TitanBooks ‘When does it ever end, if people continue to up the ante?’

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The Blackbird Season by Kate Moretti
My own copy
Synopsis:

Where did they come from? Why did they fall?

In a ​quie​t​ town, a thousand dead starlings fall onto a high school field, unleashing a horrifying and unexpected chain of events that will rock the close-knit community. Beloved coach and teacher Nate Winters and his wife, Alecia, are well respected throughout town. That is, until one of the​ ​reporters investigating the bizarre bird phenomenon catches Nate embracing a student, Lucia Hamm. Lucia soon buoys the scandal by claiming that she and Nate are ​having an affair, throwing the town into an uproar and leaving Alecia to wonder if her husband has a second life. And when Lucia suddenly disappears, the police only have one suspect: Nate.

Nate​’​s coworker, Bridget Harris, is determined to prove his innocence. Bridget knows the key to Nate​’​s exoneration and the truth of Lucia​’​s disappearance lie within the walls of the school and in the pages of ​t​h​e missing girl’s journal.

My Review:

‘Alecia forgot what that was like, to have friends who were just people’

The novel opens in May 2015, two weeks before the birds fall. The time line then moves around to give a greater understanding of the characters and further depth into the incidents before and after the birds fell. It is an intense novel, with emotive themes.
I became engrossed in the plot line, as I read further on.

Nate and Alecia Winters are the married couple at the centre of the scandal, with Nate accused of an affair with a student. But Alecia is not without her character depth either. She is an isolated and lonely mother to the couples 5yr old autistic son Gabe. As mother of an autistic son, I can assure you the isolation, loneliness and shunning are 100% REAL!

‘Sometimes it seemed like it was Alecia and Gabe against the whole world’

The missing student at the centre of the accusations/claims Lucia, is a mysterious student experiencing great hardship and poverty. Lucia is a student in crisis, Did Nate help her? or take advantage of her situation?

We learn that the Winter’s family life is extremely complex. With Alecia shouldering the majority of the parental duties and Nate being responsible for financing the multiple therapies Gabe requires. It is easy to see this marriage being torn apart by the sheer stress of raising a special needs child, let alone the accusations of the local town.

‘Nate was the last person to see her’

Nate denies the allegations against him and insists there was no affair. But when he is suspended from his teaching position the gossip and speculation only intensifies.

‘There was a missing piece something that no one knew’

Is Nate the perpetrator? Or are the cops making him suspect #1?

The middle part of the novel is much slower paced.
But the novel in whole deals with some tough themes.
Themes of abuse, neglect and bullying.
When does it ever end, if people continue to up the ante? 4*

KM
Kate Moretti
Website
Twitter

***Review coming soon for, In  Her Bones***

Anne Bonny #BookReview The Killing House by @inkstainsclaire #IrishCrimeFiction #CrimeFiction #PaulaMaguire #6 @headlinepg

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The Killing House by Claire McGowan – Paula Maguire #6
Review Copy
Synopsis:

When a puzzling missing persons’ case opens up in her hometown, forensic psychologist Paula Maguire can’t help but return once more.

Renovations at an abandoned farm have uncovered two bodies: a man known to be an IRA member missing since the nineties, and a young girl whose identity remains a mystery.

As Paula attempts to discover who the girl is and why no one is looking for her, an anonymous tip-off claims that her own long-lost mother is also buried on the farm.

When another girl is kidnapped, Paula must find the person responsible before more lives are destroyed. But there are explosive secrets still to surface. And even Paula can’t predict that the investigation will strike at the heart of all she holds dear.

My Review:

The Killing House is the ultimate novel in the Forensic Pathologist Paula Maguire series. It is the novel where Paula’s past will finally be revealed. The novel surrounds a case involving human remains found in Paula’s native Ireland. Remains that will link right into the heart of Paula’s past and the disappearance of her mother.
Due to the relevance of Paula’s mother there are various scenes from 1983; building up to her eventual disappearance.
You are in for a rollercoaster of a ride!!!!

‘No one’s going to touch your daughter, come on now. We don’t hurt weans in this organisation’

What becomes evident as we follow Margaret (Paula’s mother) is that she knew her fate. It makes for terrifying reading.

London 2014, Paula is currently working within missing persons and is jolted back to her life in Ballyterrin after a phone call about the uncovered remains.
It seems no matter how hard she tries, she cannot escape Ballyterrin or her past.
‘She would have to go back’

The crime scene is located at the Wallace family farm. The Wallace family had previous strong ties to the IRA and were heavily involved in the troubles of Northern Ireland.

‘However far you ran, and however long for, Ballyterin had a way of sucking you back in’

I am rather embarrassed to admit, I am not very clued up on the factual side of the NI troubles or the details of the Good Friday Agreement. I know it is a pivotal piece of history, but it was never discussed when I was at school etc. I keep meaning to read some of my non-fiction books regarding this time in history. But due to blog/children demands, rarely get to read much non-fiction.
I love how the author explained the complexity of the GFA within the story. I felt I was learning from the characters perspective and not being ‘told’, if you get what I am trying to say.

Although the novel is based on the past, it is very much focused around Paula. She makes a fantastic protagonist. This is possibly the most emotional novel in the series, for Paula. There is an intense ending, which left me worried it would be the last we see of her. 4*

CM
Claire McGowan (Eva Woods) 
Website
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Anne Bonny #BookReview Perfect Liars by @RebeccaCNReid 4* #Psychological #Thriller #DebutNovel @TransworldBooks ‘You certainly wouldn’t want these three as your enemies. . .’

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Perfect Liars by Rebecca Reid
Review copy
Synopsis:

They have it all. And they’ll do anything to keep it that way.

For fans of The Girlfriend and Liane Moriarty’s Big Little Lies as well as TV hits Doctor Foster and The Replacement.

Sixteen years ago, at an elite boarding school secluded in the English countryside, best friends Nancy, Georgia and Lila did something unspeakable.

Their secret forged an unbreakable bond between them, a bond of silence. But now, in their thirties, one of them wants to talk.

One word and everything could be ruined: their lives, their careers, their relationships. It’s up to Georgia to call a crisis dinner. – she knows there’s nothing that can’t be resolved by three courses in her immaculate kitchen.

But the evening does not go as planned.

Three women walk in to the dinner, but only two will leave.

Murder isn’t so difficult the second time around…

My Review:

Perfect Liars is a thoroughly modern psychological thriller, with a thoroughly modern cast of female characters. The three friends Nancy, Georgina and Lila have been friends since their childhood days at an elite boarding school. Now 16yrs later and older they are reuniting, only for one of them it’ll be the last time ever!

Each of the individual characters is carrying their own personal baggage (aren’t we all). But for one of the trio; their past is simply too much to bear and they wish to relinquish their guilt.

The novel has flashback scenes to their boarding school days. We learn that as teenagers the girls were not particularly known for being ‘nice’. Which raises the question, do spiteful teenage girls grow into spiteful women?
You certainly wouldn’t want these three as your enemies. . .

The women’s different backgrounds and future aspirations are explored and despite not particularly liking the women, you grow to understand why they are as they are.
At the dinner party (which the adult reunion revolves around) the claws come out and we see that none of these women have fully matured.

There are strong and emotive themes, mainly the repercussions of carrying guilt and the way in which that will taint your future life choices. The ending left much food for thought over the beginning and middle parts of the novel.

The perfect novel for people whom enjoy being in the heads of characters that may act/behave completely different to ourselves. If you love character based psychological thrillers, then Perfect Liars is perfect for you! 4*

RR
Rebecca Reid
Twitter

Anne Bonny #BlogTour #BookReview & #Extract Leave No Trace by @MejiaWrites 4* #NewRelease #CrimeFiction @QuercusBooks #LeaveNoTrace

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Leave No Trace by Mindy Mejia
Review Copy
Synopsis:

Ten years after a boy and his father went missing in the wilderness of Minnesota’s Boundary Waters, the boy – who is no longer a boy – walks back out of the forest. He is violent and uncommunicative. The authorities take him to Congdon Mental Institution in Duluth, on the edge of mighty Lake Superior.

There, language therapist Maya Stark is given the task of making a connection with this boy/man who came back from the dead. But their celebrity patient tries to escape and refuses to answer any questions about his father or the last ten years of his life. In many ways he is old far beyond his years; in others, still a child.

But Maya, who was abandoned by her own mother, has secrets, too. And as she’s drawn closer to this enigmatic boy, she’ll risk everything to reunite him with his father who has disappeared from the known world – but at what cost to herself?

My Review:

Leave No Trace has instant appeal to readers. 10yrs ago Josiah Blackthorn and his son Lucas (10yrs) disappeared into the Minnesota boundary waters and were never seen again.
Now, Lucas is back!!!!!!!

We follow the case through the eyes of Dr Maya Stark at the Congdon psychiatric institute. Maya is no stranger to mental health herself, having experiences her own share of personal losses and in-turn ending up a patient at the institute.

Dr Mehta the senior psychiatrist assigns Maya the case, which is in some sense suspicious. As Maya is a specialist in speech therapy and the boy has since refused to speak.
After being arrested for breaking and entry, then identified he was immediately taken to the institute.
Where the staff nickname his Tarzan and regard him with fear and intrigue.

‘No one can help us – that’s why we disappeared’ – Lucas

‘He wasn’t a boy’

Maya is attacked on their first meeting and Lucas attempts an escape. What ensues is a battle of wills between the two. As they both attempt to delve further and further into each other’s background etc.

‘Damaged people recognised their own’

Lucas and Maya’s background are fully explored, and it is then that you get a sense of why these two may eventually bond. Lucas refuses to communicate with the police for fear of incriminating his father. Maya encourages him to keep a journal. Josiah has a history of alcohol abuse and violence but has no outstanding warrants.
What happened in the years they disappeared?

What makes someone abandon their modern-day life for the wilderness?

‘Would you go up to the mountain to save the person you loved most in the world? How far would I go to help them’
This is the most unusual book I’ve ever read about mental health. The personal story of the characters and the challenges they face in helping one another is captivating. 4*

MM
Mindy Mejia
Website
Twitter

***Don’t miss the other bloggers on the blog tour***
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Extract:

Robert and Monica Anderson owned a camping outfitter
store in the tiny border town of Ely, Minnesota. According
to their website, they stocked Kevlar canoes, state of the art
rain gear, powdered guacamole, and anything else a Boundary Waters
voyager could dream of needing for a trek into the wilderness.
At 12:26 a.m. on October 5, long past the busy summer season
and even the smaller burst of travelers who wanted to see the fall
colors from the bow of a canoe, Monica was watching Netflix in
their apartment above the store when the sound of smashing glass
surprised her. She called 911 and crept downstairs with a utility
knife and her phone.
Expecting to find the same kids who’d vandalized a house down
the street, Monica was shocked to see a hunched figure behind the
store counter, pulling open drawers, rifling through the contents,
and shutting them again. Before she could report more than that to the 911 operator, a scream and a series of crashes cut off the rest
of the phone call.
Robert, startled awake, grabbed the hunting rifle he kept in
their bedroom closet and rushed downstairs to see a dark figure
wielding a knife. He aimed into the shadows and fired, but the cry
that followed the blast was too high, too familiar. He ran forward
as his wife’s body was shoved at him and caught her before she hit
the ground. Someone pulled the gun out of his hands and threw
it across the store to the sound of more shattering glass. Sobbing
on the floor, he cradled Monica and looked desperately around
for a phone, a weapon, anything. When the intruder tried to dart
past them, Robert lunged for his feet, tripping him. The person
responded by flipping over and kicking Robert in the head until he
lost consciousness.
The police took Robert’s statement from the hospital, hours
before his wife slipped into a coma and died. The intruder, who’d
been chased down by responding officers, had to be physically restrained
during his mugshot and fingerprinting, which eventually
revealed him to be a lost child from the missing persons list. Even
in the cryptic language of police reports, it was obvious they hadn’t
known what to do next. At nineteen, he was too old for social services
to get involved and the most they could charge him with was
B&E, attempted robbery, and assault. The Ely police transferred
him to Duluth – complaining about extensive damage to the jail
cell – and if he was anyone else the judge would have sent him to
prison for a few years, but the boy who came back from the dead
got a commitment order and a ticket to Congdon.
And now, after two weeks of silent violence and disregard for
every human around him, he’d decided to talk. To me.
I read his entire file three times. His mother, Sarah Mason, had died of a brain aneurysm when Lucas was five. Besides his father,
Josiah, his only other known relative was a maternal grandfather
currently living in an Alzheimer’s unit outside Chicago. He’d attended
a series of elementary schools around the Midwest before
his disappearance. Good grades – better than mine, like that was
a challenge. His therapy notes were less inspiring. The Congdon
psychologists had tried communicating with him a dozen
different ways: They’d showed him pictures of the Northwoods
and of his father, played music popular from the year he went
missing, demonstrated games he might have enjoyed as a child,
even played the video for all entering campers about how to leave
no trace of themselves when they journeyed into the wilderness.
I found it on YouTube, all the rules for burying fish entrails,
collecting firewood, hauling every scrap of trash back out of the
woods, and saw how ridiculous it would look to someone who’d
been a ghost for the last ten years, who had probably watched
those campers light their choking pine needle fires and dig their
shallow fish graves.
Pacing the house while Jasper snored, I wracked my brain for a connection, some pathway into Lucas Blackthorn’s head, and by dawn I’d scribbled a list of the few
things I knew for sure.
One, something or someone had driven Lucas out of the Boundary Waters.
Two, he didn’t find what he was looking for at the outfitter’s store. The police confiscated nothing from him except a few sharp rocks.
Three, he wanted to escape Congdon, and I’d bet anything he
was trying to get back to the glacial waters and shadowed forests
that called him home.