Anne Bonny #BookReview The Boy Who Fell by Jo Spain 4* #CrimeFiction #Irish #TomReynolds #series @QuercusBooks

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The Boy Who Fell by Jo Spain
Review Copy ~ Amazon Vine Product

Synopsis ~

FROM THE NUMBER ONE BESTSELLING AUTHOR OF THE CONFESSION AND CO-WRITER OF RTE ONE’S TAKEN DOWN

Kids can be so cruel.
They’ll call you names.
Hurt your feelings.
Push you to your death.

In the garden of an abandoned house, Luke Connolly lies broken, dead. The night before, he and his friends partied inside. Nobody fought, everybody else went home safely. And yet, Luke was raped and pushed to his death. His alleged attacker is now in custody.

DCI Tom Reynolds is receiving the biggest promotion of his career when a colleague asks him to look at the Connolly case, believing it’s not as cut and dried as local investigators have made out. And as Tom begins to examine the world Connolly and his upper class friends inhabited, the privilege and protection afforded to them, he too realises something.

In this place, people cover up for each other.
Even when it comes to murder.

My Review ~

‘Her body showed all the hallmarks of resistance when the first responders came’

The title opens in Dublin, Ireland in 2015 at the scene of a violent murder/suicide. The crime scene is at the home of an affluent couple, who reside in a 1.2 mansion. The abandoned property will become something of local legend amongst the teens and eventually another crime will occur there…

We are quickly re-introduced to DCI Tom Reynolds and made aware of his new promotion. Tom is a highly likeable detective and has aided the series to go from strength to strength. I can’t quite put my finger on why, but he reminds me of the character Jack Frost (previously played by Sir David Jason in A Touch Of Frost) But an Irish younger version.

‘A man who doesn’t want power but is willing to take it for the greater good’

When Natasha McCarthy (head of sex crimes) brings a case to Tom, we are immediately aware, it is going to be one of much complexity. The case revolves around the potential rape/murder of 17yr old Luke Connolly. The teenager accused is 18yr old Daniel Konate.
This will be a case that will tackle various themes of consent, class divide, racial barriers and homophobia.

The case deals with many themes also amongst the bunch of teenagers that decided to party at the abandoned murder house. With Daniel being the only teen who is black, from a modest background and gay. Tom is going to have his work cut out. Is Daniel guilty? Why are the other teens so quick to pin the blame on Daniel?

‘They were a toxic little mix of money and meanness and boredom’ 

There is added heartbreak and emotional complexity, when we learn Luke had a brother. A twin brother in fact and he is currently in hospital with terminal leukaemia. Luke’s twin Ethan only has weeks left to live.
With this scenario, you really begin to feel for the Connolly parents. How do you grieve for one son, when the other has just weeks left in your life? How do you go from having two sons, to no living children?

‘Since Luke’s death, the world was on its axis’

Privileged posh kids, secrets and betrayal. 4*  

JS
Jo Spain
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Anne Bonny #BookReview The Stranger Diaries by @ellygriffiths #NewRelease #Gothic #Thriller @QuercusBooks ‘It can be a dangerous thing, reading too much’

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The Stranger Diaries by Elly Griffiths
Review Copy
Synopsis:

Clare Cassidy is no stranger to tales of murder. As a literature teacher specialising in the Gothic writer R.M. Holland, she teaches a short course on them every year. Then Clare’s life and work collide tragically when one of her colleagues is found dead, a line from an R.M. Holland story by her body. The investigating police detective is convinced the writer’s works somehow hold the key to the case.

Not knowing who to trust, and afraid that the killer is someone she knows, Clare confides her darkest suspicions and fears about the case to her journal. Then one day she notices some other writing in the diary. Writing that isn’t hers…

My Review:

The Stranger Diaries instantly grabbed by interest, a English Lit teacher obsessed with a gothic author and researching his life’s work. When there is a colleague murdered and creepy notes begin to occur in Clare’s diary!!!! #SOLD!
Great synopsis!

The novel opens with a male narrator and we eventually discover this is the work of R.M. Holland the gothic author Clare is currently researching. Although Clare is a secondary English Lit teacher by day; at night she takes adult students and has covered the work of R.M. Holland. We learn she is currently researching to write a biography on the once beloved author.

R.M. Holland is always in the background of the novel. His past, his life and his work are scattered throughout the novel.

Clare is a teacher at Talgarth High, which is located at Holland House, R.M. Holland’s previous residence. This adds to the eerie feel of the novel and even more so when Clare’s colleague Ella is murdered…
“I just can’t believe I’ll never see her again” – Clare

The novel also shows the points of view of DS Harbinder Kaur and Clare’s teen daughter Georgia. Although, it was Clare I was most captivated by. I just found her character so interesting and I kept trying to second guess her motives, choices and actions.

“I keep thinking I’m in a book” – Clare

There is a note left with Ella’s body that hints at the work of R.M. Holland. But Clare misleads detectives to believe it is a quote from The Tempest. This is when I really began to wonder if I could trust Clare’s narrative at all.

This simply is the perfect winter read, to curl up with on those early dark nights! 4*

‘It can be a dangerous thing, reading too much’

EG
Elly Griffiths
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Anne Bonny #BlogTour #Extract Darling Blue by @AuthorTracyRees @QuercusBooks #NewRelease #Historical #1920s

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Darling Blue by Tracy Rees
Review to follow
Synopsis:

A sweeping tale of love in the 1920s and a powerful story of reinvention, Darling Blue is a simply gorgeous read…

Blue lives a charmed life. From her family’s townhouse in Richmond, she lives a life of luxury and couldn’t want for anything – well, on the surface at least.

Then on the night of her twenty-first birthday her father makes a startling toast: he will give his daughter’s hand to whichever man can capture her heart best in the form of a love letter. But Blue has other ideas and, unwilling to play at her father’s bewildering games, she sets out on her own path to find her own destiny…

Extract:

Chapter One

All through that shimmering riverside summer of 1925 there seemed to be only one question on everybody’s lips: who was Blue Camberwell going to marry? ‘Jolly well everybody wants to know!’ squealed Juno Forrester in the Richmond Gazette. Blue dropped the newspaper onto a side table and rested her brow against the window. The lawn was abuzz with preparations for her twenty-first birthday party. Waiters were lining up diamond-bright champagne glasses on long tables spread with white tablecloths smooth as icing. Servants hired for the evening perched on ladders, stringing fairy lights through the trees and looping ribbons from trellis to trellis. In the summerhouse, Midge was carefully positioning a gramophone in readiness for the half hours when the jazz quartet would take a breather. Blue’s father was nowhere to be seen. Unable to resist what she knew to be a depressing impulse, Blue picked up the article again.
Could that question be answered tonight, at her comingof- age party? Nothing confirmed, remember! But it is a special occasion, and at least three gentlemen of my acquaintance are head over heels with the young lady.

Three? In love? It was news to Blue.

Whether or not an engagement is announced, this promises to be the party of the year. The guest list includes some of our most distinguished neighbours and yours truly has been privileged with an invitation which I’m clutching in my little paws right now (coloured nail polish – naturally). Dear readers, I promise you a full and faithful account tomorrow. But for now, must dash – time to get my glad rags on!

With a low growl, she dropped the Gazette into the wastepaper basket – a gesture only, since Midge would certainly fish it out later and paste the article into her scrapbook. Blue was used to having her life described in extravagant terms: beautiful Blue and her charmed life; beautiful Blue who lived in a castle with her handsome father, her virtuous stepmother and the elf in the garden . . . She was blessed, that she knew, but life was never just one thing nor the other, not for anyone. As for ‘jolly well everybody’ – they would have to face disappointment. They wouldn’t learn who Blue was going to marry for one simple reason – she didn’t know herself. Blue was far more preoccupied by how she could achieve her dream of becoming a writer than she was by thoughts of romance. But that didn’t make good gossip.

TR
Tracy Rees
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Anne Bonny #BookReview The Darkest Place by @SpainJoanne 5* Tom Reynolds #4 #NewRelease #CrimeFiction @QuercusBooks Some secrets are meant to stay on the island. . .

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The Darkest Place by Jo Spain
Review Copy
Synopsis:

Christmas day, and DCI Tom Reynolds receives an alarming call. A mass grave has been discovered on Oileán na Caillte, the island which housed the controversial psychiatric institution St. Christina’s. The hospital has been closed for decades and onsite graves were tragically common. Reynolds thinks his adversarial boss is handing him a cold case to sideline him.

But then it transpires another body has been discovered amongst the dead – one of the doctors who went missing from the hospital in mysterious circumstances forty years ago. He appears to have been brutally murdered.

As events take a sudden turn, nothing can prepare Reynolds and his team for what they are about to discover once they arrive on the island . . .

My Review:

I am a huge fan of Jo Spain and the Tom Reynolds series. The Darkest Place is #4 in the series and by far the BEST so far! It can be read as a standalone; and will still be thoroughly enjoyed for its atmospheric location and dark themes of mental health treatment in the 1970s.

“Forty Years was too long to wait for somebody to come back from the dead”

The novel surrounds a cold case from 40yrs ago. The disappearance of a Doctor at St Christina’s, psychiatric institution on the Island of Oilean Na Caille. His wife Miriam Howe has waited every year with hope, time has literally stood still for this woman. When she receives a phone call from that a body has been discovered and, she may finally lay Conrad to rest.

The novel details the daily life at St Christina’s asylum in 1972. How the patients were often treated as inmates with little or no compassion or humanity. I felt the author had excelled herself with her detailed research into historical mental health abuses and The Darkest Place is as close to accurate as you are going to get!

‘Ireland had the highest number of people lost to asylums per capita, in the entire world’

DCI Tom Reynolds receives the information on Christmas day of the body discovered at the grounds of the asylum. The case then quickly becomes his personal obsession and he pushes family duty aside in the name of justice.

With no DNA match identified and the discovery of a doctor’s diary the case becomes more complex and heavily layered in mental health treatments a stigma.
‘Do not be lured into feeling sympathy for our patients’ – Diary entry

‘How terrifying this place must seem to the vulnerable people who arrive here involuntary’ – Diary entry

A cause of death is identified, and it points to murder. Then a mass grave is discovered, and it blows the case wide open!!!!!
What really happened at St Christina’s all those years ago?

‘Sometimes the patients can get manic’

When you discover some of the mental health crimes/conditions/sins such as homosexuality. You begin to realise how many of societies most vulnerable were systemically and inhumanely incarcerated and experimented upon. . .
‘You would never believe, in the outside world, how little it takes to cross the threshold from there to here’

The novel fully illustrates the bleak and unhappy life that occurred at the asylum. Prison like conditions and staff that pleasure in the discomfort of patients.
Then you discover the basement patients, were the worst cases were held. . .

There is an amazing twist at the end. But this novel really has it all, superb storytelling, deeply layered plot and terrifying accuracy. 5*

JS
Jo Spain
Twitter

***The Darkest Place is released tomorrow in Ebook format***
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Anne Bonny #BlogTour #BookReview & #Extract Leave No Trace by @MejiaWrites 4* #NewRelease #CrimeFiction @QuercusBooks #LeaveNoTrace

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Leave No Trace by Mindy Mejia
Review Copy
Synopsis:

Ten years after a boy and his father went missing in the wilderness of Minnesota’s Boundary Waters, the boy – who is no longer a boy – walks back out of the forest. He is violent and uncommunicative. The authorities take him to Congdon Mental Institution in Duluth, on the edge of mighty Lake Superior.

There, language therapist Maya Stark is given the task of making a connection with this boy/man who came back from the dead. But their celebrity patient tries to escape and refuses to answer any questions about his father or the last ten years of his life. In many ways he is old far beyond his years; in others, still a child.

But Maya, who was abandoned by her own mother, has secrets, too. And as she’s drawn closer to this enigmatic boy, she’ll risk everything to reunite him with his father who has disappeared from the known world – but at what cost to herself?

My Review:

Leave No Trace has instant appeal to readers. 10yrs ago Josiah Blackthorn and his son Lucas (10yrs) disappeared into the Minnesota boundary waters and were never seen again.
Now, Lucas is back!!!!!!!

We follow the case through the eyes of Dr Maya Stark at the Congdon psychiatric institute. Maya is no stranger to mental health herself, having experiences her own share of personal losses and in-turn ending up a patient at the institute.

Dr Mehta the senior psychiatrist assigns Maya the case, which is in some sense suspicious. As Maya is a specialist in speech therapy and the boy has since refused to speak.
After being arrested for breaking and entry, then identified he was immediately taken to the institute.
Where the staff nickname his Tarzan and regard him with fear and intrigue.

‘No one can help us – that’s why we disappeared’ – Lucas

‘He wasn’t a boy’

Maya is attacked on their first meeting and Lucas attempts an escape. What ensues is a battle of wills between the two. As they both attempt to delve further and further into each other’s background etc.

‘Damaged people recognised their own’

Lucas and Maya’s background are fully explored, and it is then that you get a sense of why these two may eventually bond. Lucas refuses to communicate with the police for fear of incriminating his father. Maya encourages him to keep a journal. Josiah has a history of alcohol abuse and violence but has no outstanding warrants.
What happened in the years they disappeared?

What makes someone abandon their modern-day life for the wilderness?

‘Would you go up to the mountain to save the person you loved most in the world? How far would I go to help them’
This is the most unusual book I’ve ever read about mental health. The personal story of the characters and the challenges they face in helping one another is captivating. 4*

MM
Mindy Mejia
Website
Twitter

***Don’t miss the other bloggers on the blog tour***
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Extract:

Robert and Monica Anderson owned a camping outfitter
store in the tiny border town of Ely, Minnesota. According
to their website, they stocked Kevlar canoes, state of the art
rain gear, powdered guacamole, and anything else a Boundary Waters
voyager could dream of needing for a trek into the wilderness.
At 12:26 a.m. on October 5, long past the busy summer season
and even the smaller burst of travelers who wanted to see the fall
colors from the bow of a canoe, Monica was watching Netflix in
their apartment above the store when the sound of smashing glass
surprised her. She called 911 and crept downstairs with a utility
knife and her phone.
Expecting to find the same kids who’d vandalized a house down
the street, Monica was shocked to see a hunched figure behind the
store counter, pulling open drawers, rifling through the contents,
and shutting them again. Before she could report more than that to the 911 operator, a scream and a series of crashes cut off the rest
of the phone call.
Robert, startled awake, grabbed the hunting rifle he kept in
their bedroom closet and rushed downstairs to see a dark figure
wielding a knife. He aimed into the shadows and fired, but the cry
that followed the blast was too high, too familiar. He ran forward
as his wife’s body was shoved at him and caught her before she hit
the ground. Someone pulled the gun out of his hands and threw
it across the store to the sound of more shattering glass. Sobbing
on the floor, he cradled Monica and looked desperately around
for a phone, a weapon, anything. When the intruder tried to dart
past them, Robert lunged for his feet, tripping him. The person
responded by flipping over and kicking Robert in the head until he
lost consciousness.
The police took Robert’s statement from the hospital, hours
before his wife slipped into a coma and died. The intruder, who’d
been chased down by responding officers, had to be physically restrained
during his mugshot and fingerprinting, which eventually
revealed him to be a lost child from the missing persons list. Even
in the cryptic language of police reports, it was obvious they hadn’t
known what to do next. At nineteen, he was too old for social services
to get involved and the most they could charge him with was
B&E, attempted robbery, and assault. The Ely police transferred
him to Duluth – complaining about extensive damage to the jail
cell – and if he was anyone else the judge would have sent him to
prison for a few years, but the boy who came back from the dead
got a commitment order and a ticket to Congdon.
And now, after two weeks of silent violence and disregard for
every human around him, he’d decided to talk. To me.
I read his entire file three times. His mother, Sarah Mason, had died of a brain aneurysm when Lucas was five. Besides his father,
Josiah, his only other known relative was a maternal grandfather
currently living in an Alzheimer’s unit outside Chicago. He’d attended
a series of elementary schools around the Midwest before
his disappearance. Good grades – better than mine, like that was
a challenge. His therapy notes were less inspiring. The Congdon
psychologists had tried communicating with him a dozen
different ways: They’d showed him pictures of the Northwoods
and of his father, played music popular from the year he went
missing, demonstrated games he might have enjoyed as a child,
even played the video for all entering campers about how to leave
no trace of themselves when they journeyed into the wilderness.
I found it on YouTube, all the rules for burying fish entrails,
collecting firewood, hauling every scrap of trash back out of the
woods, and saw how ridiculous it would look to someone who’d
been a ghost for the last ten years, who had probably watched
those campers light their choking pine needle fires and dig their
shallow fish graves.
Pacing the house while Jasper snored, I wracked my brain for a connection, some pathway into Lucas Blackthorn’s head, and by dawn I’d scribbled a list of the few
things I knew for sure.
One, something or someone had driven Lucas out of the Boundary Waters.
Two, he didn’t find what he was looking for at the outfitter’s store. The police confiscated nothing from him except a few sharp rocks.
Three, he wanted to escape Congdon, and I’d bet anything he
was trying to get back to the glacial waters and shadowed forests
that called him home.