Anne Bonny #BookReview The Darkest Place by @SpainJoanne 5* Tom Reynolds #4 #NewRelease #CrimeFiction @QuercusBooks Some secrets are meant to stay on the island. . .

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The Darkest Place by Jo Spain
Review Copy
Synopsis:

Christmas day, and DCI Tom Reynolds receives an alarming call. A mass grave has been discovered on Oileán na Caillte, the island which housed the controversial psychiatric institution St. Christina’s. The hospital has been closed for decades and onsite graves were tragically common. Reynolds thinks his adversarial boss is handing him a cold case to sideline him.

But then it transpires another body has been discovered amongst the dead – one of the doctors who went missing from the hospital in mysterious circumstances forty years ago. He appears to have been brutally murdered.

As events take a sudden turn, nothing can prepare Reynolds and his team for what they are about to discover once they arrive on the island . . .

My Review:

I am a huge fan of Jo Spain and the Tom Reynolds series. The Darkest Place is #4 in the series and by far the BEST so far! It can be read as a standalone; and will still be thoroughly enjoyed for its atmospheric location and dark themes of mental health treatment in the 1970s.

“Forty Years was too long to wait for somebody to come back from the dead”

The novel surrounds a cold case from 40yrs ago. The disappearance of a Doctor at St Christina’s, psychiatric institution on the Island of Oilean Na Caille. His wife Miriam Howe has waited every year with hope, time has literally stood still for this woman. When she receives a phone call from that a body has been discovered and, she may finally lay Conrad to rest.

The novel details the daily life at St Christina’s asylum in 1972. How the patients were often treated as inmates with little or no compassion or humanity. I felt the author had excelled herself with her detailed research into historical mental health abuses and The Darkest Place is as close to accurate as you are going to get!

‘Ireland had the highest number of people lost to asylums per capita, in the entire world’

DCI Tom Reynolds receives the information on Christmas day of the body discovered at the grounds of the asylum. The case then quickly becomes his personal obsession and he pushes family duty aside in the name of justice.

With no DNA match identified and the discovery of a doctor’s diary the case becomes more complex and heavily layered in mental health treatments a stigma.
‘Do not be lured into feeling sympathy for our patients’ – Diary entry

‘How terrifying this place must seem to the vulnerable people who arrive here involuntary’ – Diary entry

A cause of death is identified, and it points to murder. Then a mass grave is discovered, and it blows the case wide open!!!!!
What really happened at St Christina’s all those years ago?

‘Sometimes the patients can get manic’

When you discover some of the mental health crimes/conditions/sins such as homosexuality. You begin to realise how many of societies most vulnerable were systemically and inhumanely incarcerated and experimented upon. . .
‘You would never believe, in the outside world, how little it takes to cross the threshold from there to here’

The novel fully illustrates the bleak and unhappy life that occurred at the asylum. Prison like conditions and staff that pleasure in the discomfort of patients.
Then you discover the basement patients, were the worst cases were held. . .

There is an amazing twist at the end. But this novel really has it all, superb storytelling, deeply layered plot and terrifying accuracy. 5*

JS
Jo Spain
Twitter

***The Darkest Place is released tomorrow in Ebook format***
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Anne Bonny #BookReview The Dark Inside by @Rod_WR 5* #CrimeFiction #HistoricalFiction #AmericanNoir In this town. No one is innocent #CharlieYates @FaberBooks

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The Dark Inside by Rod Reynolds
My own copy
Synopsis:

1946, Texarkana: a town on the border of Texas and Arkansas. Disgraced New York reporter Charlie Yates has been sent to cover the story of a spate of brutal murders – young couples who’ve been slaughtered at a local date spot. Charlie finds himself drawn into the case by the beautiful and fiery Lizzie, sister to one of the victims, Alice – the only person to have survived the attacks and seen the killer up close.

But Charlie has his own demons to fight, and as he starts to dig into the murders he discovers that the people of Texarkana have secrets that they want kept hidden at all costs. Before long, Charlie discovers that powerful forces might be protecting the killer, and as he investigates further his pursuit of the truth could cost him more than his job…

Loosely based on true events, The Dark Inside is a compelling and pacy thriller that heralds a new voice in the genre. It will appeal to fans of RJ Ellory, Tom Franklin, Daniel Woodrell and True Detective.

My Review:

I am a HUGE historical fiction fan and I love American noir. That being said, this series was recommended to me by Liz Barnsley over at Liz Loves Books. I was stuck with a lost book mojo and spotted her review and praise for this series. Initially I was most drawn to the synopsis/plot in book #3. But I decided with the rate in which I read books and their only being 3 released so far, it would be best to start at the beginning. Which I am glad I did, as I now feel that I would have missed out on key pieces of the characterisation.

‘I arrived in town four days after the latest killing’ – Charlie

Our protagonist is a failing husband/reporter Charlie Yates. He doesn’t want this assignment and almost from the moment he arrives in town, it appears the town doesn’t want him either!

He is a veteran crime reporter of 15yrs experience but is currently being exiled due to internal issues at the paper. Someone wants him out the way, all the damn way to Texarkana. Something that doesn’t sit easy with Charlie, at all.

The first couple attacked in this series of brutal slayings are young couple Alice Anderson (17yrs) and Dwight Breems. Alice survives her injuries, but Dwights are fatal.
The second attack killed both Patty Sumer (17yrs) and war hero Edward Logan. Who is targeting these young couples? And why?

‘Someone knew what was happening – and why’

Jimmy Robinson is Charlies contact in Texarkana. He warns Charlie that the locals are devastated by the recent murders and that the local Sheriff’s are far from friendly.
Sheriff Bailey is holding several men at the local jail and it appears to be, just to appease the locals from worry.
There is no real link between these murders and the men being held.
Not forgetting this is an era in American history, where just your skin colour can be enough for suspicion.

Charlie seems to be the only person with the train of thought that the killer maybe an unhinged GI. A thought he knows he must keep to himself, with no credible link.
He attempts to speak to the surviving victim Alice at Pine Street hospital. But she is uncooperative. She accuses the local police of bullying and berating her.
She is distressed with virtually no memory of the attack.

Then the police release a statement allegedly from Alice stating that the killer is a black male. Charlie knows what this will mean for the local black population and becomes desperate to find the real culprit.

After another attack the local chamber of commerce offers a $20K reward, for capture of the killer. Now, every black man in Texarkana has a bounty on his head!
That doesn’t sit too well with Charlie either. The Charlie receives cryptic notes…….
‘Red River is the key. Pull the thread and it all unravels. Watch yourself’

When Alice goes missing, Charlie must work with her sister Lizzie to identify the killer. Lizzie insists that Alice was adamant in an admission to her, that the killer was a white male. But that the police refuse to listen to her.
The bond between Charlie and Lizzie grows, as the plot picks up its pace.
This is the perfect post-ww2 American noir 5*

RR
Rod Reynolds
Twitter

Anne Bonny #BookReview Brothers In Blood by @ameranwar #NewRelease #CrimeFiction @dialoguebooks @LittleBrownUK ‘This is urban, this is diverse and this is brilliantly British! 5*’

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Brothers In Blood
Review Copy
Synopsis:

***WINNER OF THE CWA DEBUT DAGGER***

(Previously published as Western Fringes)

A Sikh girl on the run. A Muslim ex-con who has to find her. A whole heap of trouble.

Southall, West London. After being released from prison, Zaq Khan is lucky to land a dead-end job at a builders’ yard. All he wants to do is keep his head down and put the past behind him.

But when Zaq is forced to search for his boss’s runaway daughter, he quickly finds himself caught up in a deadly web of deception, murder and revenge.

With time running out and pressure mounting, can he find the missing girl before it’s too late? And if he does, can he keep her – and himself – alive long enough to deal with the people who want them both dead?

My Review:

I was immediately drawn to this novel, due to its diverse characters and recognition via winning a top book award. The simple sentences of: A Sikh girl on the run, a Muslim ex-con and the location of Southall, West London.
Had me knowing this was going to be one hell of a read!

The novel opens with Zaq working on the building yard for Mr Brar, we meet his thuggish sons Parminder (Parm) and Rajinder (Raj). When Mr Brar blackmails Zaq into finding his daughter or going back to prison, by means of a ‘stitch up’. Zaq becomes and instant private investigator. The Brar brothers have a violent and nasty reputation in Southall, so the biggest struggle Zaq faces is if he can keep them off his back and out of his business, as he desperately attempts to locate the missing girl.

Surinder known as Rita, appears to have vanished due to threats of an arranged marriage. Zaq is unsure if this is by means of force and this adds depth to the surrounding drama and mystery. Is Rita a victim, fleeing her abusers? Rita is one of many young women and men, that are a new generation, within the Asian community, who may hold differing the values and beliefs to their elders such as parents and grandparents. They like Rita may reject the tradition of arranged marriage or similarly like Zaq may reject the notions of religion. I think this is interesting, on so many levels. It makes the novel perfect for book groups, where debate and discussion is encouraged.
As this novel, underneath its tough crime fiction shell, has layer upon layer of culture and depth.

Zaq begins his investigation and we meet people from Rita’s life and also those within Zaq’s friendship circle. The characterisation is brilliant and there is such a variety of characters within the cast. You love some and hate others! Zaq really has his back against the wall, with continuing and growing threats and intimidation from every angle. He has to find Rita and he has to find her FAST………….

The novel is scattered with Punjabi phrases and I think that really added to its uniqueness. It sets it poles apart from the mainstream offerings, on the crime fiction shelves, at your local Waterstones. There are themes of honour/shame within the Asian community and the divisions within the different religions such as Sikh, Muslim and Hindu. We learn of Zaq’s past and how he hopes to turn his life around and the evolving change within the Asian community, the break from tradition. Action, crime and culture blended together to create, this unique and unforgettable novel.

This is urban, this is diverse and this is brilliantly British! 5*

***Link to author Q&A below***

aa
Amer Anwar
Website
Twitter
Q&A from 5/5/17 with Amer Anwar

Anne Bonny #BlogTour #BookReview The Shrouded Path by @sarahrward1 5* #NewRelease #CrimeFiction #Mystery #DerbyshireNoir @FaberBooks #DCConnieChilds #Series

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The Shrouded Path by Sarah Ward
Review Copy
Synopsis:

The past won’t stay buried forever.

November, 1957: Six teenage girls walk in the churning Derbyshire mists, the first chills of winter in the air. Their voices carrying across the fields, they follow the old train tracks into the dark tunnel of the Cutting. Only five appear on the other side.

October, 2014: a dying mother, feverishly fixated on a friend from her childhood, makes a plea: ‘Find Valerie.’ Mina’s elderly mother had never discussed her childhood with her daughter before. So who was Valerie? Where does her obsession spring from?

DC Connie Childs, off balance after her last big case, is partnered up with new arrival to Bampton, Peter Dahl. Following up on what seems like a simple natural death, DC Childs’ old instincts kick in, pointing her right back to one cold evening in 1957. As Connie starts to broaden her enquiries, the investigation begins to spiral increasingly close to home.

My Review:

I am a huge fan of Sarah Ward’s Derbyshire noir series. I love how each title jumps between the past and the present. Something I imagine is not easy to execute. Nevertheless, the author manages to weave November 1957 and October 2015 brilliantly. The case in 1957 does surround six teenage girls, which keeps you on your toes, remembering the various names!

The novel opens in November 1957, Bampton.
Six teenage girls enter a tunnel but only five leave. . .

In October 2017 Mina is visiting her mother on the oncology ward. Her mother is terminally ill and receiving end of life care. Then her mother claims to have seen a woman named Valerie. She urges Mina to find Valerie and makes the confession…..
‘We Killed her’
Mina is rattled by this statement but is unsure if this is an admission of guilt or merely a vision due to the end of life medication such as Morphine etc. She brushes off her concerns, but can’t ignore the conversation.
The she starts receiving warning notes……..

DC Connie Childs is back, but with Sadler away is paired up with DC Peter Dahl. Peter is new to the area and seeking a quieter pace of life.
Only in Bampton it is never quiet for long.
Despite the atmospheric descriptions of Derbyshire, we become aware a there is a prowler in the mist.

Connie and Peter’s most recent case is two potentially suspicious deaths. As the victims are elderly it is unclear if they are simply natural causes or something more sinister. In this post Harold Shipman world, Connie is reluctant to let them go without any further digging and in doing so she unearths many secrets about Bampton of yesteryear.

‘This isn’t the journey’s end, it’s the beginning’

As we jump back to 1957, we meet Valerie and we learn about the purity and punishment ‘friendship’ circle.
As Mina Discovers a photo from the past with the image of five teenage girls. One of which has clear links back to the central characters.
A secret memoir will eventually reveal the truth. But what are the secrets that lurk in the past? Why have the girls gone to such lengths to keep them secret all these years?

The secrets of the past, catch up with the elderly residents of Bampton and bring death with them. 5*

SW
Sarah Ward
Twitter
Website/Book review blog
My Q&A with Sarah ward
My Review for, A Patient Fury

***Don’t miss the other blogger on the blog tour***
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Anne Bonny #BookReview Summer Of Secrets by @nikola_scott 5* #NewRelease #HistoricalFiction #HistoricalRomance #ww2Fiction @headlinepg #SummerOfSecrets

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Summer Of Secrets by Nikola Scott
Review Copy
Synopsis:

August 1939
At peaceful Summerhill, orphaned Maddy hides from the world and the rumours of war. Then her adored sister Georgina returns from a long trip with a new friend, the handsome Victor. Maddy fears that Victor is not all he seems, but she has no idea just what kind of danger has come into their lives…

Today
Chloe is newly pregnant. This should be a joyful time, but she is fearful for the future, despite her husband’s devotion. When chance takes her to Summerhill, she’s drawn into the mystery of what happened there decades before. And the past reaches out to touch her in ways that could change everything…

My Review:

I was a huge fan of My Mother’s Shadow the authors debut novel. So, I couldn’t wait to read Summer Of Secrets, I was also delighted to discover is had a narrative set in the ww2 era. I am a huge ww2 fiction fan and it is my favourite era within the historical fiction genre. So, I was excited to visit Summerhill.

The novel opens with 16yr old Maddy awaiting the return of her sister Georgie from a six-month trip around Europe. Only when Georgie returns she doesn’t return alone.
The sisters live with their Aunt Marjorie at Summerhill. Their father survived The Great war, only to perish off the cliffs at Hangman’s Bluff, nearby.
A death Maddy has never overcome.

In the present day narrative Chloe is a young woman, at the start of what should be a beautiful life. She is newly married and just found out she is pregnant. But instead of being filled with excitement and hope. She is filled with dread, anxiety and fear. Her husband Dr Aidan MacAllister is dominant and controlling. When Chloe is offered the chance of some work, photographing a recluse children’s author, Aidan insists it is a bad idea.

‘No wife of mine will ever have to work’ – Aidan MacAllister

Maddy is adjusting to life at Summerhill with the presence of her sister and six friends. She is introduced to the group and Georgie’s new ‘beau’ Victor Deverill. But there is something about Victor she just can’t trust.
Maddy and Georgie live out a socialite, bohemian existence at Summerhill. There lives are filled with parties and cocktails. Much to the annoyance to Aunt Marjorie who is obsessed with the onset of ww2.

‘That war is coming and Summerhill needs a plan’

Despite Aidan’s explicit instructions, Chloe takes the job. Keeping her pregnancy, a secret and filled with angst, she heads to Summerhill to photograph the reclusive Madeline.
Whilst there she uncovers they have a shared history of being orphans and have both known emotional turmoil.
It is the start of a beautiful friendship, one they both need so very much.
Maddy and Georgie continue their idyllic lifestyle. But for Maddy the situation changes when she stumbles upon a hiding pilot William in the potting shed. She promises to keep his secret and hide him in safety for a few days. But with the growing friendship, he forces Maddy to face up to the death of her father she witnessed at just 10yrs old.

‘You know, most women would give anything to have this life’ – Aidan MacAllister

Chloe continues to feel more and more pressure from Aidan. Who it seems will only be content with complete ownership of Chloe. But it is then we uncover that Chloe, as another person close to her heart. Her little brother Danny. Danny was born with Friedreitch’s ataxia, a neurological disorder. Which means his level of care needs are high and his prognosis is further loss of bodily functions/mobility.

‘Chloe didn’t see the big wheelchair or the immobile form inside; just the little boy she’d raised and loved and would never let fall’

Maddy continues to attempt to navigate the various personalities now at Summerhill. She finds this exhausting and her connection to her sister suddenly being lost amongst the noise. When Maddy has an unsavoury encounter with Victor.
Then Georgie makes a shock announcement.

‘I still had no idea what was wrong with Victor Deverill’ – Maddy

The author weaves a beautiful story between the narratives of the modern day and 1939. The setting and location adds the glamour, mystery and beauty of Cornwall. Whilst the characters pack the emotional punch. This is an emotional story of the bond between siblings. A bond that can last a lifetime. 5*

NS
Nikola Scott
Twitter
Website
My review & Q&A for My Mother’s Shadow – (Nikola’s debut novel)
HAPPY PUBLICATION DAY NIKOLA 🙂