Anne Bonny #BookReview Murder At The Grand Raj Palace by @VaseemKhanUK 5* Genius #CosyCrime #CrimeFiction #India @MulhollandUK ‘Perfect escapism and a cracking cosy crime mystery!’

#4 cover
Murder At The Grand Raj Palace by Vaseem Khan
My own copy

In the enchanting new Baby Ganesh Agency novel, Inspector Chopra and his elephant sidekick investigate a murder at Mumbai’s grandest hotel.

For a century the iconic Grand Raj Palace Hotel has welcomed the world’s elite. From film stars to foreign dignitaries, anyone who is anyone stays at the Grand Raj.
The last thing the venerable old hotel needs is a murder…

When American billionaire Hollis Burbank is found dead – the day after buying India’s most expensive painting – the authorities are keen to label it a suicide. But the man in charge of the investigation is not so sure. Chopra is called in – and discovers a hotel full of people with a reason to want Burbank dead.

Accompanied by his sidekick, baby elephant Ganesha, Chopra navigates his way through the palatial building, a journey that leads him steadily to a killer, and into the heart of darkness . . .

My Review:

‘It was said that the Grand Raj Palace owed its existence to an insult’

The novel opens with the history of the Grand Raj Palace. A history that is rotted in the British colonialism. The hotel was then and is now, revered as a symbol of India’s ambition and self-worth. I love how the author has cleverly weaved historical details into the story and the novel itself is scattered with them.
It really adds to the beauty of what makes this series to great!

What also makes this series so great is the brilliant characterisation of Chopra and Poppy. They compliment each other perfectly and in this particular case poppy gets a mystery of her own to solve.
Their relationship and the way it flows from the page, makes for brilliant reading. With them both playing the role of ‘investigator’ in this novel, we the reader are in for a double treat!

‘The thought of confronting his wife when her temper was up was as attractive to him as placing his head into the mouth of a ravenous tiger’

Chopra is summoned to the hotel by a former police colleague Rohan Tripathi. After the death of American billionaire and hotel client Hollis Burbank. It is a case that will lead Chopra into the murky side of the side industry. Burbank was found with a knife in his chest in his hotel room. On the wall written in blood are the words ‘I am sorry’.
But what is Burbank sorry for? What is his motive for suicide?

Irfan, Chopra and Poppy’s adopted son and previous street urchin, makes a brief appearance in the novel. He is still tainted by his previous life and at 10yrs old has experienced far too much for a child. We hear Poppy’s thoughts on parenting and they every much echo my own.
‘The true definition of parenthood was the ability to love, to care, to put the welfare of another before one’s own’

Whilst Chopra persists to look into hotel security and deal with Lisa Taylor of the art auction house. Poppy determined not to be forgotten on her 25th wedding anniversary, makes herself and Irfan guests of the hotel. Where she stumbles upon a mysterious case. The case of the missing bride.

‘Everything is illusion,
and no one is who we believe they are’ – Chopra

It would appear that Burbank’s secrets lead deeper into India’s past and deeper within the ruthless and competitive art world.
But can Chopra solve the case?

There is a brilliant opening to a chapter on page 222. Where the author details the colonial history and India’s railway system. It is some of the finest writing, I even took a photo of it on my phone to save. I think that has been the niche of this particular novel, Vaseem Khan’s ability to merge the past and the present and write a brilliant story.

There is also a devious monkey, which adds a comedy element into the plot!
I found myself giggling whilst poor Ganesh shoulders the blame.

My favourite part of the novel is Poppy’s development as a main character. There is a particular scene where Poppy sticks up for herself and Irfan and it just reminded me that Poppy can hold her own. Poppy is a modern woman and the mystery she solves suits her character perfectly.

Perfect escapism and a cracking cosy crime mystery! 5* Genius!

Vaseem Khan
Vaseem Khan

Anne Bonny #BookReview Take Me In by @SabineDurrant #Psychological #Thriller #CrimeFiction #NewRelease @MulhollandUK ‘Loathsome characters, but yet, insanely gripping’

Take Me In by Sabine Durrant
Review Copy

The sensational new thriller from the author of the Richard & Judy bestseller Lie With Me.

A hot beach. A young family on holiday. A fatal moment of inattention…

And now Dave Jepsom is in their lives.

Dave Jepsom, with his muscles, his pale eyes, his expressionless face.

He saved their child. How can they ever repay him? Especially as what he seems to want in return is everything.

He’s in the streets they walk down. He’s at the office where they work. He’s at their front door, leaning on the bell…

If only they could go back. Back to when the lies were still hidden. Before the holiday, before the beach, before the moment that changed everything.

Before Dave.

But it’s never how it starts that matters. It’s always how it ends.

My Review:

I know I really shouldn’t but every so often, I love a creepy stalker type novel. I know they’ll freak me out, yet I can’t resist.
I was instantly intrigued by the synopsis of this novel.

The novel opens on the beach of a Greek Island. Parents Tessa and Marcus are on holiday with their 3yr old son Josh. As Tessa nips to the changing area and Marcus loses focus for a moment, Josh is in danger!

‘I stood there, redundant, helpless, a father without skin, as another man saved his child’ – Marcus

Due to the quick actions of holiday hero Dave Jepsom, Josh is saved. The families then lunch together; and the usual mundane questions are asked. What do you do for a living? Where do you live? Answers given without any real thought of consequences.

Tessa remains angry at Marcus for his failings with Josh and it suddenly becomes very clear, there is a few cracks in this marriage. Upon returning from holiday, those cracks are blown wide open and who Tessa and Marcus really are laid bare for us to read. The mistakes, ugly secrets and inner thoughts, we known it all.
Then Dave starts to appear EVERYWHERE!

‘I wanted suddenly to run away, away from this party, and this man, and his unwanted intrusion into our lives’ – Tessa

Words alone cannot describe how much I truly despised this couple. That being said, it made it even more insanely gripping!
This is not one for readers, who like their characters to have ‘redeeming qualities’. I couldn’t name one thing about Tessa or Marcus I liked. Yet I couldn’t take my eyes from the page and watching their lives unravel.

This novel is really hard to explain, because I truly mean to take nothing away from how GOOD it is and as said above insanely gripping! I actually read this book in 3hrs straight!
But I was internally enjoying their lives falling apart.
I don’t even feel the slightest guilt at this, I know that I perhaps should. But there is something smugly satisfying about watching the lives of ‘perfect people’ implode.
At least they are fictional!

Loathsome characters, but yet, insanely gripping. 4*

Sabine Durrant

Anne Bonny #BookReview The Strange Disappearance Of A Bollywood Star by @VaseemKhanUK 5* Genius @MulhollandUK #InspectorChopra #Ganesh #Mumbai #India

The Strange Disappearance Of A Bollywood Star by Vaseem Khan

The enchanting new Baby Ganesh Agency novel sees Inspector Chopra and his elephant sidekick investigating the dark side of Bollywood.

Mumbai thrives on extravagant spectacles and larger-than-life characters.

But even in the city of dreams, there is no guarantee of a happy ending.

Rising star and incorrigible playboy Vikram Verma has disappeared, leaving his latest film in jeopardy. Hired by Verma’s formidable mother to find him, Inspector Chopra and his sidekick, baby elephant Ganesha, embark on a journey deep into the world’s most flamboyant movie industry.

As they uncover feuding stars, failed investments and death threats, it seems that many people have a motive for wanting Verma out of the picture.

And yet, as Chopra has long suspected, in Bollywood the truth is often stranger than fiction…

My Review:

This novel is the third in the Chopra and baby Ganesha series. It is set in modern-day Mumbai and it is easily one of my favourite series. I read the second novel whilst in hospital with severe DVT. I was bedbound and in agony, yet when I opened the book I was able to completely escape. This series transports you to India and with the clever plot, keeps you engaged in the plot and the characters.
So here goes for my review. . .

Inspector Ashwin Chopra is back! His wife Poppy’s heart is filled with love and happiness due to addition to their family Irfan. Poppy really develops as a character within this novel. It is brilliant to see her becoming a more central character in the series. I am a huge fan of Poppy, she just comes across, so incredibly well to readers.
Poppy has convinced Chopra to take her to see a local Bollywood show. The show will feature a comedian Jonny Pinto and notorious Bollywood playboy Vikram ‘Vicky’ Verma. There is a magical disappearing and re-appearing act, which leaves Chopra with a bee in his bonnet!

‘He had met many privileged individuals in his life – so often their lives were shadowed by unhappiness’

Shortly after the show, Chopra is intrigued to learn that Vicky has been confined to his house by a mysterious illness. Then Chopra finds himself summoned to Vicky’s mother’s exclusive residence in the Malabar Hill area. He learns from Bijli (Vicky’s mother) that Vicky has gone missing with no trace of his whereabouts. The set of his latest Bollywood movie is on standby until he returns.

‘This was India, after all, where the impossible became merely improbable’

Bijli Verma is quite the Bollywood sensation herself. She was a huge star and gained a cult following, until raising a family with her husband Jignesh Verma became her sole priority. Bijli is regarded as outspoken and brave. Often courting controversy in her wake and not afraid to stand up to the right-wing organisations in India’s political circuit. Bijli is not a woman that can be controlled, dominated or told. But now she finds herself in a difficult position. With her son missing and a movie backed by the Indian Global Bank. Bijli can not turn to the police force and needs complete discretion. Chopra finds himself in-charge of his most glamourous case to date!

Chopra begins his investigation by meeting with the various professionals in the Bollywood movie scene. He discovers that Vicky is not well liked. He may have the looks, style, wealth and playboy image but that doesn’t always generate the right kind of attention. Described as ‘mentally unstable’ and a loner, Chopra is coming to see a different side to Vicky altogether.

‘That boy collects enemies like the rest of us make friends’

Chopra is informed of a series of threatening notes sent to Vicky. With one sent on the first day of each month and signed from ‘the people’s judge’. Is this a simple ransom demand? If so where is the demand?

Chopra also learns from assistant director Farukh Mehboob in film city, that he was forced to hire Vicky at his mother’s demand via producer P.K Das. The only person that Chopra can establish as a friend of Vicky’s is fellow Bollywood starlet Poonam Panipat.

‘Bollywood is a nest of vipers, and what vipers feed on is the milk of scandal’ Poonam Panipat

When Poonam explains to Chopra the inner workings of the Bollywood elite, he comes to see that it is far from its glamorous image held in the public eye. Chopra is further shocked, when Poonam recounts exactly how she got her break in the movie industry.
It’s not just Hollywood, that holds its shady and seedy secrets.

‘Revenge has its consequences, not just on those it was extracted upon’

As Chopra continues his Bollywood case. Across Mumbai his right-hand man, Abbas Rangwalla has a unique case of his own. Rangwalla has been asked by close friend Gerry Fernandes to investigate the eunchs of Mumbai. It is a case that will challenge everything he previously believed in.

At Chopra and Poppy’s residence, Irfan comes to the rescue of a homeless woman. Who in return, saves Poppy’s sanity! Chopra’s business and home life continues to thrive, thanks to Poppy.

Bijli receives a ransom demand for 20 million rupees, with threats to return Vicky in pieces if she fails to comply. The case of the missing Bollywood star, is heating up and a mother would do anything to protect her son, wouldn’t she?

‘The best way to get your head shot of was to stick it above the parapet’

As Chopra tries to assist Bijli with the ransom demand, he finds more unanswered questions and will come up against an old nemesis. Chopra’s will find his opinions on justice and power are fundamentally challenged.

‘A lifetime of policing had taught him that the word of a criminal was worth nothing’

The plot takes you on a journey through the Bollywood industry. Where stars will sell their soul to the devil for fame and status. The novel also has some strong emotional themes. The theme of parenting and raising offspring is a central theme. For a series that never boasts of having the ‘perfect couple’, Poppy and Chopra certainly are one!

The novel builds to a dramatic ending, layered with thought-provoking moments and a deep sense of unconditional love.
For me, this proves that Chopra is one of the finest diverse series.
5* Genius

‘The best way to find yourself is to lose yourself in the service of others’ Gandhi

Vaseem Khan
Vaseem Khan
Author’s links:

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The Unexpected Inheritance Of Inspector Chopra #1 Review and Q&A
The Perplexing Theft Of The Jewel In The Crown #2 Listed in Favourites of 2017
The Strange Disappearance Of A Bollywood Star #3

Coming Soon. . . . . . 

#4 cover
Murder At The Grand Raj Palace

In the enchanting new Baby Ganesh Agency novel, Inspector Chopra and his elephant sidekick investigate a murder at Mumbai’s grandest hotel.

For a century the iconic Grand Raj Palace Hotel has welcomed the world’s elite. From film stars to foreign dignitaries, anyone who is anyone stays at the Grand Raj.
The last thing the venerable old hotel needs is a murder…

When American billionaire Hollis Burbank is found dead – the day after buying India’s most expensive painting – the authorities are keen to label it a suicide. But the man in charge of the investigation is not so sure. Chopra is called in – and discovers a hotel full of people with a reason to want Burbank dead.

Accompanied by his sidekick, baby elephant Ganesha, Chopra navigates his way through the palatial building, a journey that leads him steadily to a killer, and into the heart of darkness . . .

Due for release 3rd May 2018 #CantWait 

Anne Bonny #Review You Will Pay by @readlisajackson 5* #CrimeFiction #NewRelease @MulhollandUK @bookbridgr #YouWillPay

You Will Pay by Lisa Jackson

It starts as a prank – a way to blow off steam after a long summer at Camp Horseshoe. Monica O’Neal has it coming, and no one will really get hurt…

Twenty years later, detective Lucas Dalton is investigating the discovery of human remains at the old campsite. Lucas worked there during the infamous summer when two girls went missing.

That’s why he’s called five former counsellors back to town – including Bernadette Warden, the woman Lucas has never forgotten. Each one knows something about that terrible night. And as they reunite, a new horror unfolds. First comes a simple, terrifying message:

My review:

The novel revolves around one summer at Camp Horseshoe twenty years ago. The location of a Christian summer camp, set deep in the Oregon woods sets the scene immediately. The cast of characters, is mostly the teens who stayed there the fateful summer two teenagers went missing, never to be seen again…..

The chapters flip between then and now. There are a wealth of characters, which may at times be confusing but also generates various perspectives.
It certainly keeps the reader on their toes.

In the present day, Lucas Dalton is now a senior detective with the sheriff’s department. When he is informed human remains have been located at the camp. But Lucas isn’t just any local cop investigating. Lucas knows the camp very well, as his father was the preacher who owned it.

‘The sins of the past about to reveal themselves and Lucas Dalton was there, front and center’

Lucas’s father Jeremiah Dalton is the sort of man who believes wholeheartedly in Christian standards. As long as, they apply to other people. However, running a camp full of hormonal teenagers, it isn’t long until Jeremiah has some sinners in the woods.

The infamous summer two girls went missing, one assumed drowned and washed out to sea. The other feared murdered by an escaped convict on the loose. Whilst Lucas should be scrambling for clues, forensics and evidence. He is actively seeking to remove evidence of his own involvement. What does Lucas know? Why is he so desperate to cover his own tracks?

The novel opens with a distressed pregnant teen Elle, feeling suicide is her only option. On the dark rainy night, she hangs over the edge of the bay in tears…. She is pushed……

‘Your baby. Your problem. Take care of it’

But Elle isn’t the only pregnant teen at Camp Horseshoe and she certainly isn’t the only one with secrets. In the present day, five of the former campers make their way back to Oregon. They aren’t returning to see justice is set in motion. They are returning to ensure their version of the truth is enforced. But not all the campers are happy with this plan.

Jo-Beth, Reva, Sosi, Bernadette and Annette return. Each has their own agenda for ensuring their stories are maintained. Their motives vary and the each show a side of the girls, they dislike. The side you never want your parents to see.
Jo-Beth is the self-imposed queen-bee. She was a domineering bully over the other girls. Only now they are grown, and they plan on finally standing up to her.
They are no longer, easily led teenage girls.

‘Jo-Beth was as close to a psychopath as she’d ever want to meet’

The plan that fateful night, was set in motion by Jo-Beth. Jealous and angry, she plotted the takedown of one of her peers. But what started as a simple ‘scare’ rapidly developed to ‘put the fear of god’ into the girl.

Camp rules are made to be broken

One of the former campers, is now a reporter and she implements herself into the investigation at every turn. But what she lacks in facts, she makes up for, in her determination to get to the truth. The secrets will be revealed.

The whole theme of ‘the sins of their youth’ coming back to haunt the girls, works incredibly well. The scheming and viciousness of the girls is second to none. There is a saying hell hath no fury like a woman scorned, only this time, it is teenage girls and they are unashamedly furious!!!!!!!!
As you read the novel, you do feel an emotional pull towards some of the girls. But others, you hope you never have the unfortunate chance to come across.

‘Teenagers run in herds and have an us-against-them mentality’

The novel reminded me of a TV series, I watched years ago called Harper’s Island. By this I mean the remote location and angst of the characters. However, there’s also a whole Friday 13th vibe. I can easily see the appeal to mature/older readers of YA. I think teenagers work incredibly well as protagonists, they are complex and emotional. Yet can be wise beyond their years. The ending is full of twists and turns, whilst some a little too far-fetched for me. I can see they’ll appeal to most readers.
Scattered with teenage angst and emotional pain 5*

Lisa Jackson

Anne Bonny #BlogTour #Review Scorched Earth by @davidmarkwriter 5* #CrimeFiction #NewRelease @MulhollandUK #DSMcAvoy The ultimate betrayal requires the ultimate revenge. . .

Scorched Earth by David Mark
DS McAvoy #7


The police think Crystal Heathers isn’t missing.

The trainee detective assigned to the case isn’t so sure.

McAvoy thinks someone was being held at the derelict building where they just found a body pinned to the wall…and that all the signs point to it being a little girl.

But why would anyone not report a kidnapping?

And how far would someone go to get revenge?

The case will test McAvoy to breaking point – as the crimes of the present lead him to a final violent confrontation with an enemy from his own past.

My review:

Scorching Earth centres around a complex police investigation with ties in the past. Starting the reader at the Calais refugee camp and ending on the streets of Hull. It is cleverly written and has brilliant diverse characters. I have read other books in the DS McAvoy series and I have huge respect for the author and his ability to bring alive a broad-range of characters. The Hull the author brings alive is a real reflection of society, something sometimes lacking in modern crime novels.

The novel opens in the Calais migrant camp and the inhumane conditions make for shocking reading. The jungle home to thousands of desperate souls, is far from an easy life. It is at this camp that we first meet Manu, Golgol and Aishitia. Whilst one of the men is fearless and cruel, another has a heart full of betrayal and an appetite for revenge.

‘There are men here who prey upon the weak’

Meanwhile in Hull, young Primrose Musgrave is with her pony instructor Crystal when she is kidnapped. The kidnappers leave behind a sinister warning…..

‘Tell him I have come to repay his betrayal’

‘Tell him he is going to pay’

Across Hull city centre, Detective Sargent Aector McAvoy is with his wife Roisin and two young children. He is visiting the Autumn Days care home and ex-copper resident Perry Royle. Perry is alone in the world and via a twist of events, has come to rely upon McAvoy’s visits. However, when the visit takes place, Perry is full of details of suspicious behaviour at a local abandoned building.
Unable to investigate on his own, he urges McAvoy to pursue his leads.
It isn’t long until McAvoy smells the distinct stench of human remains…….

At the scene the body of Mahesh Kahrivardan is discovered. The body is secured in the wall, with the brutal use of nail guns. Which reminds the surrounding coppers of the local criminal gang the ‘headhunters’. The criminal gang is known to be merciless and professional, the nail gun their signature. But how has Mahesh gotten himself mixed up with a criminal gang? Why did they see fit to have him murdered?

Further investigation reveals that Mahesh had a possible captive at the abandoned building. With an equestrian knot in the ropes and a missing persons case on Crystal, it isn’t long until McAvoy connects the dots….

Manu and Aishitia’s past is explored and in their childhood, they have known extreme suffering, brutality and death. Former child soldiers, they have their own form of brotherhood and unique style of correcting betrayal.

‘The only memories that matter are the ones in your heart’ – Aishitia

The case has various spin-off investigations, with McAvoy even investigating horse neglect at one point. Nothing gets past McAvoy and his coppers nose.

There is a broad list of police officers that take part in the multiple cases. I think this gives the novel a realistic feel. The main themes of the novel cover so many areas of policing, such as organised crime, dirty cops, immigration, people trafficking and the drugs squad. The novel creates room for debate on themes of vigilante justice, violence & power, crime & wealth and international crime.

‘Greed is just hunger under a different name’

DS McAvoy has so many strong feelings towards the abuse of individuals and power of fear. He questions his own instincts. Is he motivated by stories in her own past?
What happens when you treat people as commodities?
How do people value human life as worthless in comparison to money?

‘When a man has tired of killing, he has tired of life’

I thoroughly enjoyed this novel and loved the unique insights into the various themes. The author has clearly researched well, and it shows.
This is a brilliant edition to the DS McAvoy series! 5*

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