#Review The Seven Deaths Of Evelyn Hardcastle by @stu_turton 5* #NewRelease #DebutAuthor #CrimeFiction @BloomsburyRaven @BloomsburyBooks #EPIC #DebutNovel

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The Seven Deaths Of Evelyn Hardcastle by Stuart Turton
Synopsis:

‘Somebody’s going to be murdered at the ball tonight. It won’t appear to be a murder and so the murderer won’t be caught. Rectify that injustice and I’ll show you the way out.’

It is meant to be a celebration but it ends in tragedy. As fireworks explode overhead, Evelyn Hardcastle, the young and beautiful daughter of the house, is killed.

But Evelyn will not die just once. Until Aiden – one of the guests summoned to Blackheath for the party – can solve her murder, the day will repeat itself, over and over again. Every time ending with the fateful pistol shot.

The only way to break this cycle is to identify the killer. But each time the day begins again, Aiden wakes in the body of a different guest. And someone is determined to prevent him ever escaping Blackheath…

My review:

When I finished this novel, I did casually comment on social media that the novel was ‘like playing Cluedo on acid’. Now, whilst I still stand by this short peculiar assessment. It is simply because, there is so much to process, and I read this in 24hrs. My brain was exhausted from the constant twists and turns. I still cannot even begin to fathom, just how, the writer put it all together. The flow of the novel and pace of the plot fits perfectly. I am AMAZED this is a debut novel. I will be pre-ordering ANYTHING the author produces next.
Purely to see what he concocts next, as this novel was original and epic on every level!

The novel itself, is beautiful and the artwork on the inside covers, makes be glad I own a physical copy. There is an invitation to the ball and a list of guests and household staff.
A who’s who of Blackheath is very important, as you’ll need to keep up!

We are made aware from the invite that guests must refrain from discussions of Thomas Hardcastle and Charlie Culver, of tragic events in the past. This instantly grabbed my interest.
What are the tragic events of the past?
What significance do they have to the ball?

‘How lost do you have to be to let the devil lead you home’

The novel opens on day one. Our protagonist awakes smelling of cigarettes, alcohol and body odour. He is aware of a woman fleeing and in need of help, with a killer on her heels. The killer hands him a compass and tells him to ‘head east’. When he arrives at the house, we will come to know as Blackheath. He is disorientated and dishevelled. He enquires of the woman, who he vaguely remembers as Anna. But no one is aware of such a guest. Who is Anna? Is she still in danger? Or dead?

‘The dead cannot expect a debt from the living’

Once the man is brought into Blackheath he uncovers his identity. His name is Dr Sebastian Bell, yet he has not recollection of this man. Even his own reflection is alien to him. It is a puzzle within a puzzle. Struggling with the effects of amnesia, he urges the guests to find the missing woman alive or dead. Whilst Dr Richard ‘Dickie’ Acker is summoned to attend the nasty bang to the head he has received. They also find defensive knife wounds on his arms.
What happened out there? Why is Dr Bell here? What does it all mean?

‘I’m a man in purgatory’

It isn’t long until Dr Bell is startled by a masked man, who we later come to know as the ‘plague doctor’. He warns him to be wary of the footman. Then he finds a note from Anna, arranging a meeting and offering to explain everything. Despite the two personalities inside Dr Bell, he decides to stay and solve the mystery…..

‘That’s the beauty of corrupt men, you can always rely on them to be corrupt’

Eventually we learn who Dr Bell is, his role at the ball. We also learn of the mystery surrounding Thomas Hardcastle and Charlie Culver and the lake where it all took place. The ball is being held on the 19th anniversary of the loss of Thomas Hardcastle. But it is so much more than meets the eye. With such a bizarre bunch of guests, this is going to be one hell of a party!

‘Wealth is poisonous to the soul and my parents have been wealthy a very long time’ Evelyn Hardcastle

The plague doctor returns and explains the situation of Blackheath to Dr Bell, only this time he is Donald Davies. He offers him a proposition……
‘Somebody’s going to be murdered at the ball tonight. It won’t appear to be a murder and so the murderer won’t be caught. Rectify that injustice and I’ll show you the way out’
Through the plague doctor’s proposition, we come to understand just how Blackheath operates…..

‘I won’t return willingly to a madman’s game’

Our protagonist Aidan Bishop, must solve the murder of Evelyn Hardcastle. He will be able to enter various hosts, during his time at Blackheath. But never on the same day. He doesn’t have an unlimited number of hosts, he only has one per day. He isn’t aware of which host he will enter next and will have to fight their primal urges to behave in their own way. Every time he falls asleep, he enters a new host. There is no stopping or escape.
The game is well and truly afoot!

‘I know this isn’t the afterlife. Hell would have fewer servants and better furnishings’

Whilst attempting to solve the murder of Evelyn, Aidan warms to her personality. He then becomes focused on the dangerous task, of trying to prevent the murder ever happening at all….

‘Evelyn’s kind and gentle, and she’s been away nineteen years, who’d want to harm her now?’

Aidan will have to navigate other hosts trapped in the game, the violent and psychopathic footman and the illusive Anna. If he has any hope of solving the mystery and freeing himself from this eternal game of murder mystery.

‘Nobody has friends in Blackheath’ – Plague doctor

The various hosts Aidan finds himself within, are brilliantly written. They are (as said above) a unique bunch of characters. From the alcoholics, the drug users and the grabby handed perverts. Aidan must adapt to their attributes and friendship circles, to find clues.

‘You won’t get far in this house with sentiment’ – Stanwin

‘What kind of mind makes theatre of murder?’

As much as I was drawn to the mystery and scheming surrounding the murder of Evelyn Hardcastle. I was also still desperate to find out the mystery of the past. Early on, I was quite convinced there must be a link between the two and the writer did not disappoint!

‘Something evil happened here and it haunts the lake still’

The plague doctor, pops up every now and then. Usually to add a new twist into the plot and steer Aidan onto further clues he had previously missed or overlooked. You never truly know who’s side he’s on. Is he working to help Aidan uncover the mystery? Or leading him to mere distractions?

‘Too little information and you’re blind, too much and you’re blinded’

As you read you are desperately trying to unravel the plot. I loved the old-fashioned style era, the time hopping and the various spin off mysteries. The scheming, plotting and betrayal are brilliantly woven amongst all the guests. You never know if Aidan can trust anyone or if he can even trust himself……

A fantastic debut novel and an incredible novel to speed read! I would recommend to all bookworms, from those who read hundreds, to those who read just a few novels a year. The Seven Deaths Of Evelyn Hardcastle is a cracking novel, not to be missed! 5*

‘He means to kill us, though not before he’s had his fun’

ST
Stuart Turton
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#Review Close To Home by @CaraHunterBooks #DIAdamFawley #CrimeFiction #WhereIsDaisy @PenguinUKBooks @PenguinRHUK

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Close To Home by Cara Hunter
DI Adam Fawley #1
Synopsis:

HOW CAN A CHILD GO MISSING WITHOUT A TRACE?

Last night, eight-year-old Daisy Mason disappeared from a family party. No one in the quiet suburban street saw anything – or at least that’s what they’re saying.
DI Adam Fawley is trying to keep an open mind. But he knows the nine times out of ten, it’s someone the victim knew.
That means someone is lying…
And that Daisy’s time is running out.

Introducing DI Fawley and his team of Oxford detectives, and a Richard and Judy Book Club pick for Spring 2018, CLOSE TO HOME is the new crime thriller series to get addicted to.

My review:

This novel is the first in the DI Adam Fawley series.
It surrounds the disappearance of an 8yr old girl named Daisy Mason.
Daisy disappears from a neighbourhood barbeque on a quiet suburban street. From the outside Daisy has the picture perfect lower middle-class existence.
But once you get closer to home, you realise nothing, is ever as perfect as it seems…..

The police team called in to deal with the aftermath of the disappearance are a mixed bunch of characters. But as we learn over the course of the novel DI Fawley is carrying a deep personal pain. As the coppers try to ascertain the facts, the last known sighting of Daisy and the family’s lifestyle. Everything suddenly becomes so much more complex. The Mason’s are far from the perfect family. But do they have something to hide?

Daisy’s mother Sharon is a bossy, vain woman, more consumed with her own image than her two young children. Her father Barry was close to his daughter, but something recently made her retract from him and resent his presence. Older brother Leo is only 10yrs old. He is quiet, bullied and withdrawn, he presents as a child with the weight of the world on his shoulders.
I got the sense he felt unloved and ignored as the investigation unfolded.
I just wanted to give him a hug and tell him everything would be alright.
I may have felt that way, but neither his mother or father did.

The timeline in the novel moves around, from the present day to the days leading up to the disappearance. There is so much more to this family, this neighbourhood and this little girl, than meets the eye. The novel also has a series of Tweets and articles scattered throughout. They make the case feel more realistic and you can easily imagine the media pressure piled onto the police at work. The #FindDaisy becomes a national cause and the family are facing trial by Twitter. Where there every move/look is subject to scrutiny. I found this reminiscent of the Madeleine Mccann case, where the mother was made the ultimate villain. Is Sharon the villain of the story or just a selfish woman? Under intense media scrutiny, I think most ordinary people could have their actions taken out of context. This adds an interesting dynamic to the family’s story, you have to separate the fact from the speculation.

The police officer characters are written very accurately. The novel shows how the case of a missing little girl gets under the skin of the detectives. How policing can be more than just a job, it can be a way of life.
I wish we the reader, had gotten to know more about the detective’s personal lives. But I respect the fact that this is a first in a series and the author is laying the ground work for the series to continue. I hope we learn more about DI Fawley in the series in the future.

There are ample twists and turns within the novel, that keep you guessing. The writing style reminded me of Belinda Bauer, who is one of my favourite authors.
It finishes with a jaw-dropping ending and I look forward to the next novel in the DI Adam Fawley series. 4.5*

Cara Hunter:
Cara Hunter is the pen-name of an established novelist starting a new life of crime in a series of Oxford-based books to be published by Viking/Penguin. Though this is not the Oxford of leafy quads and dreaming spires but an altogether edgier, unkinder place. The first novel, Close to Home, will be out in January 2018, with a second slated for later that year. “So many people who’ve read Close to Home compare it to Broadchurch, and in my book, that’s a compliment to kill for…”
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#Review City Without Stars by @TimBakerWrites @FaberBooks #Cartels #DEA #Mexico #CrimeFiction

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City Without Stars by Time Baker
Synopsis:

The only thing more dangerous than the cartels is the truth…

In Ciudad Real, Mexico, a deadly war between rival cartels is erupting, and hundreds of female sweat-shop workers are being murdered. As his police superiors start shutting down his investigation, Fuentes suspects most of his colleagues are on the payroll of narco kingpin, El Santo.

Meanwhile, despairing union activist, Pilar, decides to take social justice into her own hands. But if she wants to stop the killings, she’s going to have to ignore all her instincts and accept the help of Fuentes. When the name of Mexico’s saintly orphan rescuer, Padre Márcio, keeps resurfacing, Pilar and Fuentes begin to realise how deep the cover-up goes.

My review:

Narcos, DEA agents, drugs, secrets and corruption!
Perfect ingredients in this Mexico based thriller.

The novel has chapters titled with the various central characters. You get a full scope of their backgrounds, and how/why they came to be the people they are today. They are all driven by different motives and that is what makes this novel stand out.
For the drug cartels of Mexico life is far from black and white.

The novel opens in May 2000, with victim #873 Isabel Torres. Throughout the novel we become aware of the magnitude of deaths of young women, who simply vanish from the streets. The brutality and irrelevancy of human life is hard to imagine.

‘Immunity destroys prudence.
And murder becomes mundane’ – Pilar

Pilar is a non-nonsense activist, a feminist of the highest order and respect. She has noticed a trend in the exploitation of women and the regularity of which the bodies are discovered, thrown out like trash. I admired the characters determination for social justice and drive to change the current economical situation for all women. But as you read on, you realise death stalks Pilar, as close as it stalks all women of Mexico. Pilar refuses to back down and stares death in the eye, as she chants “protection for the women! Justice for the victims”.

‘The logic of exploitation is too profitable to resist’

The organised crime of Narcos and cartels is fully explored through the characters of El Santo and El Feo. We learn how they operate and how they took such a hold of Mexico. We also learn how the war on drugs is not as clean cut as the politicians would have the citizens believe.
The cartels are ruthless, they think nothing of carrying out a massacre. Innocent civilians are irrelevant to them and their business operations. There will be no witnesses, when no one dares speak out, for fear of death….

The novels central police officer is Fuentes, his internal dialogue is an example of some fine writing. Whether he is mulling over the Mexican’s relationship with death, religion or organised crime. There are often statements of such accuracy, they leave you thinking, long after you turn the page.

‘The church itself that fed the fear and the superstition; that grew strong and rich on ignorance’

‘The church was supposed to be there to help its faithful, but too often all it did was torment its own believers’

Which leads us to the character that I became the most fascinated with Padre Marcio. The padre’s childhood is explored, and it makes for harrowing reading. I don’t think I will ever forget some of the passages I read. This itself made me wonder how such a childhood would impact the man he would become.
Would this be his prophecy and what kind of legacy would he leave behind him in his wake?

‘Most priests seemed to prefer playing devil to angel’

The novel compares Mexico’s economy and political feeling from the 1960s to the present day. I will admit that I know little of the countries history. After reading this novel, I must make a conscious effort to explore this further with my non-fiction reading. This novel leaves you under no illusion that Mexico’s history, is one that deserves to be heard.
The central theme of the novel however, is the 800+ murdered women. It has a strong crime fiction theme, despite the added depth of a literary novel. The police are baffled by the case. Is it the work of a lone killer? A serial killer with several copy-cats?
Or a team of killers?
The crimes have taken place over ten years and the savagery alone should make them front page news globally. 9/10 murders are premeditated making them solvable and convictable. But when it comes to the murdered women, the police hierarchy have no interest in solving the case. With more and more women going missing. Fuentes is determined to get justice for the dead. For so many dead bodies to pile up, with no questions asked. Fuentes is sure the case has substantial links to police corruption.

‘Every corrupt cop places pressure on the honest ones; puts their lives in jeopardy’

The novel details El Santo – James Santiago aka ‘the saint’ and his uprising to head of the cartel. It also covers how the violence has escalated over into the killings of wives and children of enemies in a grotesque manner. Just when you find yourself asking why anyone would want to be part of an illegal drug cartel. We learn the figures. Cartels are big money business, more money than you can ever imagine and definitely more money than you could ever spend!

‘When revenue is up, revenge is down’

Cartels like any criminal organisation have turf wars and enemies. The Ciudad Real cartel vs the Tijuana cartel is the basis of this novel. But are the murders linked to the cartels, if so how? And which cartel?

The novel covers various themes of betrayal, retribution and justice. There is a death scene within the novel, that is possibly one of the best kill scenes I’ve EVER read! It is so clever, yet twisted and dark that I was left astounded! I also felt alarmingly, that it was completely and utterly justified! But I will let you explore that scene for yourself.

‘Trust is an odd thing. Its like love. A big emotion that grows out of nothing, that you take for granted but which devastates you when it disappears’

This novel is clearly perfect for fans of the TV series Narcos. But it is also perfect for readers who like a full exploration of the themes, setting and politics that allow organised crime to flourish. It is dark, brutal and yet so addictive!

‘That’s the nature of true evil: you simply cannot imagine it… until it happens’

TB
Tim Baker
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#GIVEAWAY #IQ & #Righteous by @JoeIdeTweets UK only #CrimeFiction #IsaiahQuintabe #LA #Sleuth @orion_crime @mulhollandbooks @wnbooks

Today on the blog I have a giveaway for a copy of both IQ and Righteous (UK only). To be in with a chance of winning simply RT the pinned Tweet, comment on the original post on Facebook at Anne Bonny Book Reviews or leave a comment on the blog post below! I will leave the #Giveaway open all weekend and draw the winner on Monday.
Good Luck!

Here’s what is up for grabs!

IQ cover image
IQ by Joe Ide
Synopsis:

WINNER of the ANTHONY AWARD for Best Debut, the SHAMUS AWARD for BEST FIRST P.I. NOVEL. the MACAVITY AWARD for Best First Novel; SHORTLISTED FOR THE 2017 EDGAR AWARD and STRAND CRITICS AWARD.

East Long Beach. The LAPD is barely keeping up with the high crime rate. Murders go unsolved, the elderly are being mugged, children go missing. But word has spread: if you’ve got a case the police can’t – or won’t – touch, Isaiah Quintabe will help you out.

They call him IQ. He’s a loner and a high school dropout, his unassuming nature disguising a relentless determination and a fierce intelligence. His clients pay him whatever they can afford, a new set of tyres or some homemade muffins. But now he needs a client who can pay. And the only way to that client is through a jive-talking, low-life drug dealer he thought he’d left behind. Then there’s the case itself. A drug-addled rap star surrounded by a crew of flunkies who believes his life is in danger; and a hit man who even other hit men say is a lunatic. If he solves this case, IQ can put right a mistake he made long ago. If not it won’t just be the hit man coming after him …
See my review HERE
Q&A with Joe Ide

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Righteous by Joe Ide
Synopsis:

In a way, the hate felt good. You were righteous, godlike, the dispenser of justice . .

Super-smart sleuth Isaiah Quintabe – IQ to his friends – has built a mostly respectable life for himself, helping out friends and neighbours when he can and taking the occasional case to make ends meet. But there is one mystery that still haunts him almost ten years later – did his brother really die in a hit-and-run or was there more to the story behind his death?

IQ has been approached by his brother’s former girlfriend Sarita, whose younger sister, an erratic DJ and gambling addict, has gone missing in Las Vegas – with a frightening loan shark, Chinese Triad gangsters, and her own deadbeat boyfriend hot on her tail. Accompanied once more by his fast-talking, don’t-call-me-a-sidekick partner Dodson, IQ heads off for the casinos and massage parlours of Las Vegas. His quest takes an unexpected turn when he meets a criminal mastermind who knows something about the murky circumstances that surrounded his brother’s death. But when Isaiah learns the truth, what will he do with it?
See my review HERE

Joe and anthony award 23
Joe Ide
Authors Links:
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#BlogTour #Review A Darker State by @djy_writer 5* @BonnierZaffre @bonnier_publish #NewRelease #CrimeFiction #Germany #1970s

Happy publication day David Young!

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A Darker State by David Young
Synopsis:

For the Stasi, it’s not just the truth that gets buried . . .

The body of a teenage boy is found weighted down in a lake. Karin Müller, newly appointed Major of the People’s Police, is called to investigate. But her power will only stretch so far, when every move she makes is under the watchful eye of the Stasi.

Then, when the son of Müller’s team member goes missing, it quickly becomes clear that there is a terrifying conspiracy at the heart of this case, one that could fast lead Müller and her young family into real danger.

Can she navigate this complex political web and find the missing boy, before it’s too late?

My review:

For the Stasi. It’s not just the truth that gets buried . . .

Under the secrecy and fear of a communist state, a murderer lurks. The prologue opens with one armed Polish dog walker Kazimierz Wojcik; stumbling across, the rat covered dead body of a young male, in a dark lake. It is within this terrifying political climate, that the man, even fears calling in the dead body to the police….

‘Keep you head down; keep out of trouble. That’s how Kazimierz had survived all these years, and he wasn’t about to change’

It is an eerie prologue that really sets the tone and pace of this historical novel. The author has done an outstanding job, of bringing 1976 East Berlin alive!
The novel is set within six months of 1976. With alternate chapters alternating the various months. The novel has many factual and historically accurate references. But the central theme is the skilfully woven, crime fiction plot.
One dead boy and another missing.
Things are about to get difficult for tough police major Karin Muller…….

Karin Muller is the newly appointed major of the serious crimes department in Keibelstrasse. Working alongside her deputy Werner Tilsner. Each having received double promotions. But is there more to this career fast tracking than meets the eye?

At the crime scene the pathologist quickly determines the body to have suffered fatal asphyxiation. There is a bizarre tattoo on the body and a sock stuffed down the throat of the victim. The police are left with more questions than leads.

The novel then jumps to six months previously. Where we meet Markus a bullied young student. We become aware that he is the son of a police man. He is helpless in his efforts to defend himself. Until one-day Oskar steps in and fends off the bullies. Having found a new and only friend, Markus believes his life is about to become a lot less lonely!

The body from the lake is finally identified as Dominik Nadel. Where the police officers believe his identification may throw up some clues. It only leads to further mysteries. Dominik appears to have led a sheltered life. He works at the local steel works and has hobbies such as football and a motorbike club. It is only when Karin appeals to the coach’s gentler side. Then he reveals crucial secrets surrounded Dom’s lifestyle and the motor bike club he is a member of…….

Karin’s personal life has changed, this is her first case back after her return from her twin’s birth. She is exhausted and blames herself for her long working hours away from her children. It is during this time, that the cracks begin to show in her relationship with Emil. He is distant and cold towards her. With everything Karin has going on, she does not even feel welcomed in her own home.

The case continues at a slow burning pace, but the alternative chapters keep you on your toes. We learn more about Dom’s activities prior to his death. Whilst also watching Markus fall in love for the first time.

The novel deals with some exceptionally moving themes. The manipulation of individuals, to achieve state goals. Also, the vile abuses a country can carry out on its own citizens. I think the author is very brave to address the concept within the historical era. It cannot have been an easy task.
But he has delivered a thought-provoking and complex 5* novel.

Karin Muller is an awesome protagonist and I look forward to the next novels in the Stasi series.

DY
David Young
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