Anne Bonny #BookReview Songs Of Innocence by @Anne_Coates1 #NewRelease #CrimeFiction #Thriller #HannahWeybridge @urbanebooks ‘Perfect for fans of crime fiction who like a female driven, ambitious and feisty protagonist’

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Songs Of Innocence by Anne Coates
Review Copy
Synopsis:

A woman’s body is found in a lake. Is it a sad case of suicide or something more sinister? Hannah Weybridge, still reeling from her friend’s horrific murder and the attempts on her own life, doesn’t want to get involved, but reluctantly agrees to look into the matter for the family.

The past however still stalks her steps, and a hidden danger accompanies her every move.

The third in the bestselling Hannah Weybridge thriller series, Songs of Innocence provides Hannah with her toughest and deadliest assignment yet…

My Review:

Songs Of Innocence is the third novel in the Hannah Weybridge series. The novels are set in the 1990s and Hannah is an investigative journalist. She is feisty and independent. She is never afraid to tackle and expose the toughest crimes.

This particular novel focuses on a series of murders of several young women. The first murder is nearly misjudged a suicide. It is only at the involvement of Hannah and her request of a second post mortem; the truth is brought to light.

The murders involve several young women of the local Asian community. Hannah is brought in by the family of Amalia Kumar. Her aunt Sunita is furious at the police’s lack of interest in the case and urges Hannah to help her get justice for Amalia.

‘An Asian girl getting herself killed isn’t top of their priorities, is it?’ – Sunita Kumar

The racism and prejudice faced by the Asian community is fully explored within the novel. I did find this quite eye-opening that in many ways Asian women are still fighting for equal rights in 2018. With issues that they face in their communities often being politicalised; with no real legal repercussions imposed (FGM).

When more bodies are discovered, it becomes clear there is a killer in their midst and he is targeting a specific demographic. Is this the work of a serial killer? Is there a form of cultural basis? The police and Hannah are struggling for clues.

The author has included a wide-range of culture and diversity, whilst also maintaining an honest to the era. Society understood far less back then, than it does now.
Forced marriage is explored, as is Rana’s story of domestic abuse. The novel opened by eyes, to the struggle other generations of women have faced.

The professional trust and relationship between the police and the press, is what makes it for me. Something we will sadly see little of, in the future.

Perfect for fans of crime fiction who like a female driven, ambitious and feisty protagonist. Hannah Weybridge is for you! 5*

AC
Anne Coates
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#BlogTour – Review and Q&A. Death’s Silent Judgement by Anne Coates @Anne_Coates1

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Death’s Silent Judgement by Anne Coates

Synopsis:

Death’s Silent Judgement is the thrilling sequel to Dancers in the Wind, and continues the gripping series starring London-based investigative journalist Hannah Weybridge.

Following the deadly events of Dancers in the Wind, freelance journalist and single mother Hannah Weybridge is thrown into the heart of a horrific murder investigation when a friend, Liz Rayman, is found with her throat slashed at her dental practice.

With few clues to the apparently motiveless crime Hannah throws herself into discovering the reason for her friend’s brutal murder, and is determined to unmask the killer. But before long Hannah’s investigations place her in mortal danger, her hunt for the truth placing her in the path of a remorseless killer…

My review:

I absolutely loved the first Hannah Weybridge novel and found the protagonist very likeable. I loved that Hannah has two sides to her, the robust and feisty journalist and the sensitive single mother. The author has a real talent of throwing Hannah into murky cases full of complexity. Which makes for great reading. That being said, this novel could easily be read as a standalone.

The novel opens in 1994 London, an era and a setting I absolutely love. Hannah learns of the death of her life-long friend Liz. Liz is the friend whom Hannah named her young daughter after and as the novel unravels, we learn more about their friendship over the years. Liz was working at a dental clinic with a local church, providing dental care and treatment to the homeless and those effected by poverty. Liz’s death is rather barbaric and we later learn that she was also 10 weeks pregnant. Who was the father? Why was she killed? Is there a link to Liz’s past? Hannah can no longer ignore her concerns and decides to investigate. But trouble may already be on the horizon for Hannah………….

Liz’s past is one of such amazing depth. She had recently returned from Somalia, having been party of a team of volunteers at a camp providing medical treatment. Her mother Lady Rayman requests that Hannah sift through Liz’s possessions and paperwork, asking her to investigate further. The police officer on the case DI Claudia Turner is convinced one of the ‘down and outs’ is responsible for the murder and when a local homeless man is pulled from the Thames her interest in the case almost ceases altogether. Hannah’s grief spurs her motivation to get to the truth and she begins by speaking to everyone with recent links to Liz. Discovering paperwork referencing codename Jonah, an adopted child in Somalia and links to the murky world of sex trafficking. Hannah has to question herself, what has she gotten involved in?

With the mounting pressure of the case and the continual unravelling of the facts. Hannah is feeling the pressure once again. But as always Hannah refuses to back away from a fight for justice. With the reappearance of Paul Montague, little Elizabeth’s father. We see this case will strike right to the heart of everything Hannah holds dear…………..

There are some brilliant themes within this case. But to state them here would be to provide spoilers. but I personally think the author has really excelled herself. These themes are relevant to the case, complex yet well researched and make for fascinating reading in this multifaceted crime fiction novel. A huge 5* from me!

Q&A:

Q) For the readers can you give a summary of your background and your new release?

A) Love to. I have been fortunate in that all my working life has been spent in some way working with books and words as an editor and a journalist. I was born in Clapham – not so far away from where I live now – and my parents moved to Harlow in Essex (no Essex girl jokes please) where I went to school. After university which included a year at Rouen University, I returned to London where I have lived ever since. If I were to move away I’d love to live by the sea.

Every now and again I force myself out of my comfort zone like singing in a church choir once a month. I am not a natural singer so I find the need to concentrate is brilliant for stressful times. My mind cannot stray to problems.

Similarly my crime thrillers drag me out of my natural habitat. In fiction I go to and investigate dark places and themes, often frightening myself. I find I am more careful about locking doors and windows now – and checking no one is following me!

My latest book Death’s Silent Judgement picks up Hannah’s life a few months after Dancers in the Wind finished. Hannah is still fragile from her experiences and then has to face the murder of her close friend, Liz Rayman. When Lady Rayman asks for Hannah’s help, she has no idea of the complications she will discover.

Q) Within this novel there are some really multifaceted themes and complex characters. What was the research process and where did the inspiration come from?

A) I have a vivid imagination, which takes me to some surprising places. I don’t start out with a plan for the whole book so a lot of the themes evolved as the writing progressed. One thought leads to another. What inspired me initially was the loss of friends/friendship. Two very close friends died a few years ago and I miss them but that is only part of the story.

Obviously I research some of the issues but I won’t add spoilers by saying which ones.

Q) When I read about the re-emergence of Paul Montague, I knew that we were getting a ‘baddie’ type character. What made you decide to feature little Elizabeth’s estranged father?

A) Was it the car that gave him away, Abby? Of course, Paul was only referred to briefly in Dancers in the Wind and he was not shown in a good light. I wasn’t sure how his role would develop in the sequel. He’s not a really bad guy but he cuts corners and the truth isn’t his close friend.

Q) Hannah has always dealt with dark cases of investigation, that make for fascinating reading. Will we see a Hannah Weybridge #3?

A) I sincerely hope so, as I am currently writing number three – as yet I am struggling with a title. I don’t want to give too much away but I can say that the murders are moving closer to home for Hannah and the first body is found in Peckham Rye Park, very near where she lives. Again she’ll be dealing with chilling and horrendous issues which are still current although the narrative is set in 1994, a few months on from the end of Death’s Silent Judgement.

Q) I often wonder if Hannah will ever find happiness or love. This would possibly change the development of her character. Is she destined for love or heartbreak?

A) Now that would be telling, Abby! But I am so thrilled that Hannah’s situation has got to you! Hannah is very much her own person and she has found deep contentment and happiness in being a mother. Whether this will extend to include a partner – I’m not saying. That doesn’t mean to say that she’s impervious to men – far from it. At the end of book one, Hannah is involved with DI Tom Jordan but as you know he is away for most of the action in book two. That is a dramatic device – Hannah has to be on her own for the plot and it opens the way for other possible romantic involvements!

Anne Coates
Anne Coates
Authors Links:
Web: http://www.annecoatesauthor.com/
Via Publishers: https://urbanepublications.com/book_author/anne-coates/
Twitter: @Anne_Coates1

*Many thanks to Anne, for taking part in a Q&A on my blog, I wish you every success with your new release 🙂

Q&A With Anne Coates!

Happy International Women’s day and what better way to celebrate than, to support a fantastic female author!

Q&A with Anne Coates:

Q) For readers new to you, can you explain a bit about yourself and your series?

A) Where to begin, Abby? I live in south-east London with three cats – a mother and two offspring she hates. They are all curled up with now so I have to mention them or they’ll sit on my keyboard in protest. I have worked for a variety of publishers and magazines as a staff member and freelance and have written short stories – most of them published in women’s magazines and in e-book two collections. I also write and edit non-fiction. The Hannah Weybridge series draws on some of my experiences as a journalist. The characters of Hannah, Tom Jordan and Princess emerged from interviews I was commissioned to write for a national newspaper.

 

Q) One thing I absolutely love in a novel, is a strong lead female character and Hannah Weybridge more than delivers on this. What is the inspiration behind her? What was the journey from the idea of Hannah to the published novel?

A) Thank you – I too like a strong female lead and other readers have mentioned they like her feminism. This is important to me. Hannah started off as my alter ego. People who know me and have read the book think Hannah is me. She is not; for a start, she is far more determined and resourceful than I am and she takes risks I’d never countenance. Added to which Hannah has had time to develop her own identity as she sat in a desk drawer for a very long time.

My first attempt at Dancers in the Wind did not find a publisher or agent so I gave up. Then 20 years later I came across the manuscript when I was having a clear out, read it and thought it might work now. So I rewrote it, worked on the timeline and characters and then after a couple of near misses, Urbane Publications signed me up in 2015. A case of everything comes to she who waits – eventually!

 

Q) Dancers in the Wind has themes of vice, as stated in my review, you researched the topic and spoke to sex workers. Can you tell us about your research process?

A) When I was training as a journalist we were always told to check facts from three sources. With Dancers in the Wind I had already interviewed a sex worker plus women at the English Collective of Prostitutes for another magazine article. I also read various books. But then the creative part takes over and I imagine myself into whichever character I am writing about.

 

Q) The novel is based in the 1990s, which I loved! I think the 1990’s is such an interesting era. A time before everyone was attached to mobile phones and children played out in the street but sadly an era where abuse went unnoticed. I can see it would make for fascinating reading and wish it was more covered in the genre. What was your reasoning to set the series in the 1990s?

A) Basically that was when I did the first interviews and wrote the first drafts. I’m not sure very many children were playing out in the streets then at least not where I live! However abuse happens all the time, which is a horrible fact of life. If I had updated the story to 2015/16 I would have had to factor in GPS, CCTV and smartphones, which would have changed the way the plot pans out. It would have been a totally different book.

 

Q) In the novel, Princess/Caroline is very much two dimensional. We see the streetwise hooker and the vulnerable unloved young girl. I think she is realistic and I really rooted for her in the novel. Was she difficult to write? Did you feel a pressure to portray her accurately?

A) I’m so glad you feel like that about Princess/Caroline. I loved her and I think she and Hannah make good foils for one another. They certainly rub each other up the wrong way. Having Caroline in Hannah’s home allowed me to show different sides to Hannah. Caroline thinks nothing of going into Hannah’s private rooms, like her study, which exposes Hannah’s possessiveness and, to an extent, her solitariness. On the other hand, Caroline is secretive too. The women are never totally honest with each other and I loved writing the scenes when they argue. Although Caroline is so worldly-wise on some levels, she is also emerging from her teens with all that that implies. I hope I have managed to convey that and do justice to the young woman she was based on.

 

Q) What are your favourite genres and novels? What were your childhood favourite reads?

A) It probably won’t surprise you, Abby, when I say I love reading crime novels and there are so many excellent authors writing now. However it’s good to read out of one’s own genre and I have been bowled over by two very different books recently: The Gift Maker by Mark Mayes and Su Bristow’s Sealskin. Both involve the overlapping of the real with the magical and I do like a touch of magic!

As a child, I read everything I could lay my hands on from the Famous Five and Secret Seven book to Anne of Green Gables and the Chalet School series. However my favourite memory is of my mother reading Alice in Wonderland, to me. She had trained at the Italia Conti stage school and she certainly knew how to bring a book to life.

Q) What is coming next in the Hannah Weybridge series?

A) I’m really excited that the sequel, Death’s Silent Judgement, is being published by Urbane on 11 May. Here we follow Hannah, a few months later, in January 1994, going to have dinner with a close friend, Liz but finding her dead in the pro bono dental surgery surgery she ran for the homeless in Waterloo. The police are convinced it was one of her patients high on drugs or alcohol but her mother Lady Rayman is convinced there is more to it and employs Hannah to start investigating…

 

Thank you so much Anne for agreeing to be part of a Q&A on my blog!

Thank you for inviting me, Abby, and for such interesting and pertinent questions.

Anne Coates

Anne’s Hannah Weybridge series is published by Urbane Publications.

You can read more about her and her work on www.annecoatesauthor.com and follower her on Twitter @Anne_Coates1

Review: Dancers In The Wind by Anne Coates 5*

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Dancers In The Wind by Anne Coates 5*

The synopsis:

 SHE IS HUNTING FOR THE TRUTH, BUT WHO IS HUNTING HER?

Freelance journalist and single mother Hannah Weybridge is commissioned by a national newspaper to write an investigative article on the notorious red light district in Kings Cross. There she meets prostitute Princess, and police inspector in the vice squad, Tom Jordan. When Princess later arrives on her doorstep beaten up so badly she is barely recognisable, Hannah has to make some tough decisions and is drawn ever deeper into the world of deceit and violence.

Three sex workers are murdered, their deaths covered up in a media blackout, and Hannah herself is under threat. As she comes to realise that the taste for vice reaches into the higher echelons of the great and the good, Hannah realises she must do everything in her power to expose the truth …. and stay alive.

My Review:

This novel opens in the 1990’s with freelance journalist Hannah Weybridge, wring a piece to accompany a documentary on the red light district at Kings Cross Station in central London. The novel has a heavy theme of vice and the women involved suffering. Anne Coates met with and interviewed sex workers in the research for her novel and it shows in her writing. Not only did she portray them accurately without stereotypes, she also clearly listened to them when they spoke of their lives. Journalist Hannah is a strong independent savvy single mother, one whom I instantly loved! She is well written and works brilliantly as the series lead character.

As the story develops we meet Police inspector Tom Jordan, who having recently taken over the Kings Cross patch to police is feeling the strain. We also meet Mike Laurel an opinionated photographer working for the tabloids. Finally, we meet the character of Princess an experienced working girl at just 19 years of age. However, there seems more to Princess than meets the eye and Hannah can clearly sense her vulnerability.

Princess is later violently attacked and through a twist of events, finds herself at Hannah’s door in the early hours of the morning, having taken a severe beating & been left for dead. Hannah whilst remaining the clever, cut throat and untrusting journalist I absolutely love. Has a moral compass and a heart of good and agrees to take her in and get her some medical help. A mother/daughter relationship develops between the two and we start to see Princes in a new light, we see her through Hannah’s eyes. Slowly but surely Hannah gains Princesses trust and we learn her story. It becomes evident that there are two sides to her, Princess the streetwise sex worker whom navigates the world of vice, knowing that casual sex & violence go hand in hand. Also Caroline the abused, brutalised, exploited victim, who after a childhood marred by rape, drug use and poor parenting never stood a chance and became Princess as a sense of survival.

The book gives in-depth scenes of life on London’s streets. The derelict buildings where the trade is plied, the various characters who frequent the streets hookers, pimps and punters! Caroline carries the physical scars of the life on her body and the emotional ones on her soul. She is extremely well written and you really hope she finds some way to pull herself out and form the family she both desperately needs and wants.

When the bodies of murdered prostitutes begin to turn up. It’s clear someone is stalking and killing the working girls of kings Cross. Fearing for Caroline’s safety and seeing the media blackout, Hannah becomes investigating journalist to help catch the killer. Hannah begins by interviewing those surrounded by Caroline while keeping Caroline hidden at her house. She meets the winos, dealers, prostitutes, project workers and pimps to no avail. With sometime away from the streets Princess quickly evolves back to Caroline and we see the pure vulnerability confined within her. There is a reflective chapter which details how she became how she is. It is an intense piece of writing and incredibly moving.

How do you solve a murder when your only allies are a hooker and a copper, you don’t trust? Feeling torn between the two and desperate for answers Hannah must find a way!

***Q&A TO FOLLOW***