#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
Website
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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
Authors Links:
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#BlogTour #GuestPost #CoastalCrime Before I found You by @DaisyWhite1922 @JoffeBooks #NewRelease #CrimeFiction

Brighton Palace Pier at dawn
Before I Found You by Daisy White
Synopsis:

A child found alone on the beach, shouting into the waves.

A mother who served ten years for a crime she says she didn’t commit.

Ruby Baker is back with another seaside mystery. When she and her friends rescue a child from the beach in a storm, police are baffled. Nobody has reported a child missing, and the girl seems so traumatised that she is unable to speak.

In Johnny’s hairdressing salon, the notorious Beverly Collins makes an appointment with Ruby, but it soon becomes clear the woman wants more than a haircut.

Beverly has just been released from Holloway Prison after serving ten years for child cruelty. The body of her missing daughter was never found, but Beverly insists she is innocent, and she wants Ruby Baker’s Investigation Bureau to prove it.

This isn’t going to be an easy investigation. Opinion is divided on Beverly’s innocence. Reporters Kenny and James are keen to uncover a big story, while Ruby’s best friend, Mary, is distracted and struggling to deal with motherhood.

As Ruby tries to unravel the past, she discovers that Beverly Collins’ release seems to have triggered a bizarre chain of events.

Was she really framed, and if so, where is her daughter Ella now? And who is the mystery girl on the beach?

#GuestPost by Daisy White

Crimes on the Coast…

For me, Brighton was an obvious choice to set the Ruby Baker mystery series. This was partly because of my family history – four generations have lived and worked in Brighton, and I have a rich seam of memories to mine in terms of social history. Brighton is a buzzing, multicultural city now, but in 1963, when the Ruby Baker books begin, it was a smaller town, with new development on the horizon.

Setting a mystery book by the sea has major advantages. The writer has easy access via the coast, whether it is the beach, or ports or fishing harbours.
Murderers and victims can move to different countries, and the sea gives a vivid contrast to any criminal doings on land.

The beach was a big draw for Brighton in the early sixties, and my characters spend a lot of time down near the pier, discussing cases, socialising and drinking. With no money to spare, the bars, clubs, ‘fancy restaurants’ and pubs we know today were well beyond the reach of Ruby and her friends. A date was more likely to be a shake and a cigarette at the Milk Bar, or a bag of chips down at Brenda’s, before a walk along the beach.

The seasonal changes of the coast are important, and weather can turn the most placid of settings into a terrifying setting for dramatic rescues and crimes. The sea and coastline feature heavily in all of the Ruby Baker books, starting with Ruby’s dramatic rescue in the first chapter of ‘Before I Found You.’

Daisy White author photo
Daisy White
Authors Links:
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#BlogTour #Review The Intruder by #PSHogan 4* @TransworldBooks #NewRelease #Creepy #Sinister

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The Intruder by P.S Hogan
Synopsis:

He has the key to hundreds of houses.
Maybe even to yours.

 

A gripping, sinister, deeply unsettling novel from the most sociopathic narrator of 2018. Meet Mr Heming…

William Heming is an estate agent. He’s kept a copy of every key to every house he’s ever sold. Sometimes he visits them. He lets himself in when the owners are out.
But what will happen if he gets caught?
What will he do next?

My review:

I love the short, sharp and catchy synopsis! I think this immediately gathers the readers attention. The narrative of the novel however, grows on you page by page. Until you are absolutely hooked on the last pages.
The story is one of voyeurism, spying and unhealthy behaviour. Told from the perspective, of our protagonist William Heming.

William Heming is a respected and successful estate agent. He clearly has no financial issues. Unfortunately for William, he has a magnitude of other issues. The novel slowly unravels his life from childhood to the present day. The chapters jump back and forth, both have a consistent eerie feeling.
I got the impression, this is a feeling, a man like William would give off to those he meets. He appears to be friendless, odd and full of self-confidence.
William’s personality is a recipe for disaster!

“Here, among the stranger’s belongings, is where I am most at home” – William

William is difficult to get to grips with at first. Is he a pathological liar? Are we reading the inner thoughts of a psychopath? Why does he have delusions of grandeur?
What are the secrets in his past?

As the story develops, we observe his obsessions with specific people. How he interacts with them, both when they know and when they do not. I was on the edge of my seat as he lurks in people’s homes, inspecting their lives and making quick judgements. One thing, is for certain William is the nosey neighbour from hell!
He reels off stories of his previous harassment of others. With great ease and with an almost proud attitude. This is when I began to become fascinated by his character.

“I may be there when you are, or when you are gone, or more likely just before you arrive” – William

I often read psychological thrillers or novels with great suspenseful moments. But there is no one quite like William. He tells so many elaborate lies, he believes them himself! Leaving you the reader, to read between the lines.
I read this novel in one day and I felt more and more drawn into the story with every single page! 4*

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#BlogTour Q&A with Ellie Dean #WithAKissAndAPrayer @arrowpublishing #NewRelease #saga #WW2Fiction #Cliffehaven

With a Kiss and a Prayer Jacket
With A Kiss And A Prayer by Ellie Dean
Synopsis:
Cliffehaven, May 1944

The tension is rising for Peggy Reilly and the inhabitants of Cliffehaven as the planes continue to roar above the town and there is still no news of the long-awaited Allied invasion into France. There seems to be no end in sight of this war which has scattered her family and brought conflict right to the door of Beach View Boarding House, but Peggy cannot work miracles and the toll of the war is beginning to weigh on her slender shoulders.

Meanwhile, Ron Reilly has landed himself in hot water with his sweetheart, Rosie – and this time, his Irish charm will not be enough to get him out of trouble.
The war has forever changed the lives of Peggy’s loved ones, but with the promise of an Allied invasion comes the hope that her beloved husband and family will at last be coming home. It will take an enormous amount of spirit to keep that hope alive and bring harmony back to Beach View.

FIND LOVE. FIND HOPE. FIND CLIFFEHAVEN.

Q&A:

Q) What made you want to become a writer?

A) I’ve always loved reading and making up stories. I am an only child, raised by my grandmother and her sisters, who opened up the world of books to me. Yet it was the family story which always intrigued me and I knew that one day I would have to sit down and write it. I eventually achieved this, and it was the start of me realising that storytelling was something I could really do well. The rest, as they say, is history!

Q) Describe your writing routine and where you like to write?

A) I have black coffee for breakfast, at least two cups, and make a point of reading the newspaper before doing the Sudoku, and the cryptic crossword. This gets me into a working frame of mind and wakes up my brain. I have an office in my house that overlooks paddocks and the South Downs, and I sit down there before ten every morning. I check my emails and Facebook, and then read through what I’ve written the day before. Editing this gets me into the next scene that I want to write. I work through from ten until around six, five days a week. If a deadline is looming however, then I might work over the weekend and at night. I find that sometimes I do my best work after midnight!

Q) What themes are you interested in when you’re writing?

A) The theme of family, and of the intricate threads that bind people together or tear them apart. People react differently to situations, and I find it fascinating to watch my characters evolve throughout the book.

Q) Where do you get your inspiration from?

A) Inspiration comes from everything and anything. A conversation overheard – a newspaper article, a line in a book or a song.

Q) How do you manage to get inside the heads of your characters in order to portray them truthfully?

A) Once I have the plot and the title, then I must have the actors playing their parts. I wait for them to come to me, to show themselves and tell me about their lives. It might sound weird, but that’s how I work. It’s like meeting new friends. You don’t know everything about them immediately, but as they talk, you can discover who they are, where they come from, their social background, their aspirations, their failures, etc. As an author I become this person, with their viewpoint, their likes and dislikes and the reactions they will have to any given situation. An author must evolve into these characters to make them fully rounded, and it doesn’t matter what gender they are – people are very similar underneath the skin.

Ellie Dean
Ellie Dean
Website 

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