Anne Bonny #BookReview Someone To watch Over Me by @YrsaSig Yrsa Sigurdardottir 5* #CrimeFiction #IcelandicNoir ‘A cracking crime fiction thriller and I applaud the author for her accurate and inclusive cast of characters. 5*’

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Someone To watch Over Me by Yrsa Sigurdardottir – Thora Gudmundsdottir  #5
Translated by Philip Roughton

My own copy from tbr pile
Synopsis:

A creepy, compelling thriller, SOMEONE TO WATCH OVER ME is the fifth Thora Gudmundsdottir novel from Yrsa, ‘Iceland’s answer to Stieg Larsson’ (Daily Telegraph).

A young man with Down’s Syndrome has been convicted of burning down his care home and killing five people, but a fellow inmate at his secure psychiatric unit has hired Thora to prove that Jakob is innocent.

If he didn’t do it, who did? And how is the multiple murder connected to the death of Magga, killed in a hit and run on her way to babysit?

My Review:

This is #5 in the Thora Gudmundsdottir series. I initially picked it to read, because of its unique synopsis. A young male (Jakob) accused of a violent and fatal crime, but also a character central to the story with downs syndrome. I was intrigued to see how the author would tackle the themes of learning difficulties, in a crime fiction novel. I was not disappointed, at all. What I got was a snapshot into life in a secure psychiatric unit and Thora’s relentless quest for justice.

The novel opens with an eerie scene of a young boy (4yrs) seemingly being haunted by a spirit. It immediately gave me goose bumps and I wondered how much of the novel would contain a supernatural element.

In January 2010, Thora is requested to visit Josteinn Karlsson. He is an inmate at a secure psychiatric unit Sogn; with seven other patients. Josteinn is a prolific child abuser, certified guilty but insane. He has been diagnosed with acute schizophrenia and personality disorders. He has resided at Sogn for 8yrs now and Thora wonders why he would suddenly request her assistance. She informs Josteinn she cannot help with his case, that it is entirely beyond her remit. However, it isn’t her case he wants her to investigate. . .

‘He’s my friend. A good friend’ – Josteinn

Josteinn wishes for her to investigate the case of fellow patient/inmate Jakob. Who is remanded to Sogn due to an act of arson, that left five people dead. Josteinn claims Jakob is innocent, because he knows what it takes to commit such a heinous act and he believes Jakob to be innocent.

Reluctantly, Thora takes the case. She begins her investigation by talking to Jakob’s mother Grimheidur Porjarnardottir. Jakob’s mother brings Thora up to speed, on how she has raised Jakob and the authoritarian approach social services has had over their lives. I found this to be very true to life. There have been multiple cases in the British press; where adults with care needs enter a residential setting against the parents wishes, only for there to be an incident of harm to them or others. Jakob’s mother also sheds light upon a life of little support, being dictated to and not listened to. He was at the sheltered accommodation, only 16 months before the fire occurred.

Their so called support was just the opposite: you never got what you wanted, and you never wanted what you got’ – Grimheidur Porjarnardottir

Thora begins to investigate the residential setting, going into business and patient’s records. The setting was a new-build, designed for five residents aged between 18yrs-25ys. The home’s residents had a wide-range of needs. Lisa was a comatose patient. Sigridur was blind and deaf. Natan was severely epileptic and heavily medicated at night. Tryggvi was severely autistic and never left his room. All perished in the fire, along with the night watchman.
But what was life really like inside the setting? How can Thora get to the truth when the patients are deceased?

‘A sheltered community should be a safe haven for the unfortunate, like a fortress to protect the most needy and vulnerable members of society. But that was clearly not the case. What had actually happened there?’

When Thora digs into the post mortem of resident Lisa, she will uncover a shocking case of abuse.Was the fire to cover up the abuse of a disabled resident?
Was it really Jakob that set the fire?

Thora also begins to receive cryptic random text messages, that are drip fed into the narrative as clues. We the reader, come to understand what they mean, before Thora. At this point I was literally screaming at the kindle. The tension and stakes were THAT high!
Thora questions the motives of Josteinn throughout. Why would a outwardly soulless man care for the future of Jakob’s plight?

‘I can promise you that I have only bad intentions’ – Josteinn

Every book brings something unique, but what this book brings is an honest portrayal of a wide-range of characters with additional needs. I think the author did a brilliant job of the portrayal of the shady people that can be involved in the care of society’s most vulnerable. The cast of residents is written incredibly well, especially the character Tryggvi. My son is autistic, so I rarely read novels with this condition. But when I do I like to see the needs portrayed as accurately as possible, which the author fully achieved.

A cracking crime fiction thriller and I applaud the author for her accurate and inclusive cast of characters. 5*

YS
Yrsa Sigurdardottir
Twitter
My review of, The Undesired
My review of, The Reckoning
My Review of, The Legacy
My review of, Why Did You Lie?

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
Website
Twitter

Anne Bonny #BlogTour #GuestPost Brand New Friend by @k8vane Kate Vane #CrimeFiction #Political #Thriller #NewRelease You know he’s a liar but is he a killer?

Brand New Friend by Kate Vane
Brand New Friend by Kate Vane
Synopsis:

Friend. Liar. Killer?

BBC foreign correspondent Paolo Bennett is exiled to a London desk – and the Breakfast sofa – when he gets a call from Mark, a friend from university in eighties Leeds. Paolo knew Mark as a dedicated animal rights activist but now a news blog has exposed him as an undercover police officer. Then Mark’s former police handler is murdered.

Paolo was never a committed campaigner. He was more interested in women, bands and dreaming of a life abroad. Now he wonders if Mark’s exposure and his handler’s murder might be linked to an unexplained death on campus back when they were friends.
What did he miss?

Paolo wants the truth – and the story. He chases up new leads and old friends. From benefit gigs and peace protests, to Whatsapp groups and mocktail bars, the world has changed, but Mark still seems the same.

Is Mark the spy who never went back – who liked his undercover life better than his own? Or is he lying now? Is Paolo’s friend a murderer?

Guest Post: Inspiration

The inspiration for Brand New Friend

Do you ever look up friends from years ago online to see what they’re doing now? Not to get in touch, not because you want a big reunion with a mobile disco or an ill-advised affair, just out of curiosity?

I must admit I’ve done it. It’s fascinating to see where people I knew as a student in eighties Leeds have ended up. I was on the fringes of animal rights and other political campaigning (I wouldn’t go so far as to call it activism, most of it was social and inactivity seemed a big part of our lives then.) A lot of my friends were on the dole after graduation, some living in squats.

Now, many of them are in responsible jobs or running creative businesses or writing for national media. Ironically, it could be the downtime that helped them get to where they wanted, because they had the space to think about what mattered to them.

I wanted to write a novel that captured the mood of that time, featuring a group of fictional characters who would be my contemporaries, and see where they are now. The hook for the story came when I read about the undercover officers who infiltrated animal rights groups in the eighties. I wondered how it would be if my characters had known someone like that.

The story is told from the point of view of Paolo, who is a BBC journalist. He is already grappling with a crisis in his career and dealing with significant change. He has barely thought about his student years until he learns that someone who was a key influence on him was actually an undercover officer. Knowing that his ‘friend’ Mark lied to them leads him to reassess not just his past but the present.

For me writing a novel is about asking a lot of questions. And answering some of them – crime fans tend to want to know who committed the murder! But I think the themes can be more open, leaving the reader to make up their own mind. How much are we shaped by our memories? What if everything we thought we knew about a significant time in our past was thrown into doubt? How does that change what we believe in now?

kate vane author image
Kate Vane
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Anne Bonny #BookReview Smoke And Ashes by @radiomukhers Abir Mukherjee 5* Genius #NewRelease #Historical #CrimeFiction #Calcutta @HarvillSecker ‘Outstanding historical crime fiction, that I would love to see adapted for the TV screens’

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Smoke And Ashes by Abir Mukherjee 
Review copy
Synopsis:

**From the winner of the 2017 CWA Historical Dagger Award**

India, 1921. Haunted by his memories of the Great War, Captain Sam Wyndham is battling a serious addiction to opium that he must keep secret from his superiors in the Calcutta police force.

When Sam is summoned to investigate a grisly murder, he is stunned at the sight of the body: he’s seen this before. Last night, in a drug addled haze, he stumbled across a corpse with the same ritualistic injuries. It seems like there’s a deranged killer on the loose. Unfortunately for Sam, the corpse was in an opium den and revealing his presence there could cost him his career.

With the aid of his quick-witted Indian Sergeant, Surrender-not Banerjee, Sam must try to solve the two murders, all the while keeping his personal demons secret, before somebody else turns up dead.

Set against the backdrop of the fervent fight for Indian independence, and rich with the atmosphere of 1920s Calcutta, Smoke and Ashes is the brilliant new historical mystery in this award-winning series.

My Review:

I am a huge fan of this series and If you haven’t read A Rising Man or A Necessary Evil, then you need to add them to your wish list asap. The series is phenomenal and historical crime fiction at its finest. It was my 126th read of the year so far and the 13th edition to the 5* Genius list. The era, characters and location that Abir Mukherjee has created within the series is sheer brilliance.
*I am a shameless fangirl*

The series is set post ww1 in Calcutta, India. The main characters are British Captain Sam Wyndham and Indian Sgt (Surrender-not) Banerjee. The novels are historical fiction, but there is always a grisly crime to be unearthed in the British Raj. I must admit that with this novel, I really felt the historical aspect of the novel had stepped up its game. The depth of historical detail really added to the story. India’s social and political climate is described in a fantastic method, letting the characters lead the scenes.
This is not a history lesson; the author simply invites you into 1921 Calcutta.

The novel opens with Sam fleeing the Imperial police force, blade in hand and covered in blood. He is fleeing a Tangra opium den and is certainly feeling the effects, shall we say. I began to wonder how bad is Sam’s opium addiction?
Is Sam going to be the murderer in this case?

‘Calcutta opium is best smoked ten feet below the corpses of half a dozen dead men’

Despite the police in pursuit, after the raid on the opium den, Sam manages to escape. But he can’t get out of his mind the dead body of the Chinese man he found. Why was the body so disfigured? Was this an opium ‘pipe dream’? Why was Commanding Officer Callaghan of Vice division raiding the den? Sam has so many questions as he falls asleep in a drug induced haze.

‘Calcutta was as flawed and dysfunctional as I was’ – Sam

When he awakes, late, as usual for Sam now. He finds Surrender-not has already left for work. He lights a cigarette and ponders his next course of action, over the body he found.

‘The Chinese were a law unto themselves. What they did to each other was none of my business’

In the background of the novel is the political protests of Mahatma Gandhi. It would appear the natives have tired of British rule and long for independence. Tempers are frayed, and the jails are full. With an impending visit from H.R.H Prince Edward scheduled for Christmas Day. Sam and surrender-not must ensure the streets are free from protestors.
Which will be no easy task, at all.

Lord Taggart, commissioner of the police for Bengal summons Sam to his office. He orders Sam and Surrender-not to deliver a message to Gandhi’s ‘chief rabble rouser’ – C.R Das that the organisation of congress volunteers is now banned. There are clear and spiteful threats issued, the natives must obey their British masters.

The theme of the British Raj and colonisation in general, makes this novel perfect for book groups. There are so many elements to debate. It is also easy to look back with the wisdom of hindsight. I spend many summer days at Osbourne House the summer home of Queen Victoria. It has an Indian room and there is evidence of Indian artefacts throughout. Queen Victoria was clearly impressed and inspired by Indian culture. I find it surprising that a culture for which she found so fascinating, she never visited. . .

Back to the novel and Sam. Not only is Sam battling his emotional past, with the loss of his wife Sarah. Annie makes a reappearance and he has an out of control opiate addiction. He eventually agrees to see a doctor and deal with his opiate addiction once and for all.

‘I preferred not to be reminded of the ghosts of Christmas past’ – Sam

With Das refusing to give in to Taggart’s demands. Sam is placed in the awkward position of delivering messages he no longer believes in or agrees with. . .

‘Tell him that I’ve no issue with arresting him, his family and every one of his supporters’ – Taggart

The British are in the difficult position of wanting to coerce the opposition via threats and intimidation and not wanting to make martyrs of them.
There will be no easy solution in British India.

Sam and Surrender-not are called to a crime scene at Shant-da’s medical clinic. Where they find the body of a young nurse Ruth Fernandez. Ruth’s corpse has the identical injuries as the Chinese victim at the opium den. But what links the murders? Ruth is a native from Goa but holds the role of military nurse. She openly practises her Christian faith. Are these murders political?
Has the non-violent protest suddenly turned to murder?

With the new murder and political tensions at an all time high, the British issue a military enforced curfew of 6pm. At times it felt that they did everything they could, to ignite the flames of riots.
Leaving Sam battling his personal opinions and professional responsibilities.

‘Maybe my penance was a life sentence’ – Sam

When another murder occurs, it is clear Calcutta has a serial killer on its hands and only one man knows the truth. Sam.

As said above the historical aspects are beautifully written and there is so much detail. Each political event, is broken down to be shown from both sides of the governmental powers. I wondered how the author would tackle the character of Gandhi and his political stance. What you discover is that Gandhi was a highly intelligent man, with a strategic mind. He meticulously planned his protests and lived by his convictions.
But I love the way Sam summarises the situation (and some of the finest writing might I add) . . .

‘To see a man as your enemy, you needed to hate him, and while it was easy to hate a man who fought you with bullets and bombs, it was bloody difficult to hate a man who opposed you by appealing to your moral compass’ – Sam

I was sad to see Surrender-not, firmly return to his role of side-kick. In the last novel I really felt his character gain such presence. Despite it being difficult to watch an intelligent man (must) take a back-seat to the British rule. Yet I respect the author for changing the style of each novel, keeping you the reader guessing and avoiding the huge error of repeating the same novel with just a different case.

Outstanding historical crime fiction, that I would love to see adapted for the TV screens. I can even picture the atmospheric opening credits, as we glance around 1920s Calcutta. 5* Genius.

AM
Abir Mukherjee
Twitter
Website
My review and Q&A for, A Rising Man
My review and Q&A for, A Necessary Evil

Anne Bonny #BlogTour Q&A with @IPatrick_Author #RubiconBook #CrimeFiction #PoliceProcedural @fahrenheitpress Where truth and lies collide. . .

Rubicon Cover
Rubicon by Ian Patrick
Synopsis:

Two cops, both on different sides of the law – both with the same gangland boss in their sights.

Sam Batford is an undercover officer with the Metropolitan Police who will stop at nothing to get his hands on fearsome crime-lord Vincenzo Guardino’s drug supply.

DCI Klara Winter runs a team on the National Crime Agency, she’s also chasing down Guardino, but unlike Sam Batford she’s determined to bring the gangster to justice and get his drugs off the streets.

Set in a time of austerity and police cuts where opportunities for corruption are rife, Rubicon is a tense, dark thriller that is definitely not for the faint hearted.

Q&A:

Q) For the readers, can you talk us through your background and the synopsis of your new novel?

A) I left school at sixteen and joined the Civil Service, in Nottingham, as an Admin Clerk. After a few years I decided to apply for the Police. I joined the Metropolitan Police at nineteen and served for twenty-seven years, the majority of which was in Specialist Crime as a Detective Sergeant. I’ve investigated most crimes ranging from Theft to Murder. I’ve also worked in intelligence. My retirement was due to disability. I found out eight years ago that I have Muscular Dystrophy. Retirement led to writing!

Q) Can you talk us through the journey from idea to writing to publication?

A) I’ve written for years but never taken it seriously until a few years ago. No Exit press had a short story competition and the prize was a publishing contract. I had no expectation but wrote a short story and sent it in. I made the final three! But never won, (Boo!). However that short story became the first chapter of Rubicon and the rest developed from there. I had the usual round of rejections from publishers and agents until Chris McVeigh, at Fahrenheit Press, picked it up and loved it! In addition the BBC have also felt the same way and optioned it for TV, beginning with a six part series.

Q) What are your favourite authors and recommended reads?

A) I read widely and rarely read a series, however I do enjoy: George Orwell, Evelyn Waugh, Ed McBain, Lynda La Plant, Cormac McCarthy, Chuck Palahniuk, Colin Bateman, Saira Viola and Jane Issac. If I were to recommend two books they would be: Fight Club By Chuck Palahniuk and The Road by Cormac McCarthy. Both have strong narrative but entirely opposite in terms of structure and story. Both evoke a strong feeling of ‘what have I just experienced?’ That to me is the mark of a great book. One that leaves the reader marvelling at the storyline and the journey they’ve been on.

Q) What were your childhood/teenage favourite reads?

A) I read all the Sven Hassel books as a child. I was mesmerised by the cruel reality of war he portrayed as he had served as a tank driver. In addition to that, James Herriot was another favourite of mine. I didn’t get Famous Five or any of the ‘classic’ children’s reads. I wanted realism in my fiction. This has stayed with me, hence writing crime.

Q) What has been your favourite moment of being a published author?

A) Without doubt the reader feedback. I’ve been overwhelmed by the positive response Rubicon has received. There’s no better feeling hearing that you’ve made a moment, in a person’s day, pleasurable. For me that’s why I write.

Q) Who has been your source of support/encouragement, throughout the writing process?

A) My wife. She has to take the strain with the family while I crack on getting words down! She also speaks sense and is the first reader of anything I’ve written. My greatest source of support, outside of home, has been Jane Isaac. She’s guided me along the way and given advice but never dictated what I should do. She’s a fantastic, established, writer and it’s been wonderful to have her friendship and support.

IP: I would like to take this opportunity to thank you, Abby, and all the book blogging community who support writers’ and keep the world of reading and literature alive.

ian patrick
Ian Patrick
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