#BlogTour #Review & #GuestPost #AshesOfBerlin by @mccallinluke @noexitpress

Ashes of Berlin Blog Tour Poster
The Ashes Of Berlin by Luke McCallin

Shortlisted for the CWA Endeavour Historical Dagger 2017

1947 and Gregor Reinhardt has been hired back onto Berlin’s civilian police force. The city is divided among the victorious allied powers, tensions are growing, and the police are riven by internal rivalries as factions within it jockey for power and influence with Berlin’s new masters.

When a man is found slain in a broken-down tenement, Reinhardt embarks on a gruesome investigation. It seems a serial killer is on the loose, and matters only escalate when it’s discovered that one of the victims was the brother of a Nazi scientist.

Reinhardt’s search for the truth takes him across the divided city and soon embroils him in a plot involving the Western Allies and the Soviets. And as he comes under the scrutiny of a group of Germans who want to continue the war – and faces an unwanted reminder from his own past – Reinhardt realizes that this investigation could cost him everything as he pursues a killer who believes that all wrongs must be avenged…

My review:

I am a huge nerd for fiction in the WW2 era. I have a whole fascination for the era and the impact it had on people’s lives etc.

Former German intelligence Officer Gregor Reinhardt is working the night shift on a mundane Monday night in 1947. When a call comes in of a body found in a stairwell, in an apartment building in the American sector of Berlin. Inspector Reinhardt is now with the Schoneberg kripo division. The victim appears to have a fallen from the flight of stairs laying at the bottom with a broken neck. When other officers smell alcohol, they are hasty to mark this as a drunken accident.
But Reinhardt has his suspicions……

“sometimes death is better than defeat”

It appears prior to the fall the man had sustained a brutal beating. The police enquire with neighbours to learn of the man’s identity. This leads them to an apartment in the complex and another dead body! This victim is easily identified as Mr Noell and shows clear sign of asphyxiation! But how are the two men linked? Why do they both lay dead? Reinhardt searches the flat and finds a document that states RITTERFELD ASSOCIATION is this a clue to what links the men?

The harshness of post-war Germany is fully explored.
The poverty, defeat and presence of death seeps from the pages, with each character’s story!

Upon further investigation Reinhardt learns that Mr Noell was a quiet, courteous and mystery man. He is a veteran of the air force, seemingly living out a lifeless existence. Reinhardt spots some homeless orphan kids and through talking to Leena learns of mysterious men coming and going. Reinhardt is clutching at theories to link the two men. The surrounding officers mock him, calling him Captain Crow. He continues to investigate whilst being plagued with flashback scenes that show what he has lived through in the war.

“Defeat is an orphan. An unloved only child”.

We learn more of Reinhardt his background, personal history and essentially what shaped the man he is now. There are times with the novel where Reinhardt shows a humanity that is has inner depth and is not always displayed by his fellow police officers. This was an era of great shame for German citizens. The women who suffered the savagery of the Red Armies victory. The children now without fathers. The displaced persons, surviving the experience of a new found freedom in a country that reminds them of their great shame. The rubble women scraping by a meagre life, with a harsh job, in harsh times. The various areas are explained the Soviet zone and American/British sectors.

When more bodies begin to pile up, all with a distinct link in their veteran status. It is clear Reinhardt has a serial killer on his hands! Not just any serial killer a methodical and premeditated murderer, with vengeance fuelling his urge to kill! 4*

“All wrongs must be avenged”


‘Closure through character’

When the idea for the character of Gregor Reinhardt—a man on the edge of despair at what his life had become—first came to me it was not so much a question of could I do this—I had a degree of confidence in myself as a storyteller and a writer—but should I do this. What I was trying to write could so easily have been misunderstood as an apology. The time, the place, a character such as Reinhardt—a German, a soldier, a servant, however unwilling of a regime such as the Nazis…


I was born in Oxford to parents that had a humanitarian vocation. We moved to Africa when I was five. My father worked for UNHCR—the UN High Commissioner for Refugees—and my mother did work with child soldiers. That upbringing was inspirational, and engendered in me a desire to something similar. I’ve worked for a range of UN organisations around the world, and now work for UNHCR in Geneva.

Somewhere along the way, my work and my vocation to write began to merge. All the places I worked and lived in—in Africa, in Russia, in Haiti, in Pakistan, in the Balkans—taught me something, or I saw something, or felt something. About what happens to people—ordinary people—put in extraordinary situations. Watching the news from Ukraine, for example, I get awful flashbacks to my time in Bosnia, to when neighbours turned on each other. What makes friends of decades suddenly believe the worst of each other? What makes a deliveryman become a gunman? What makes a woman arm her husband or son and send him out to fight the sons and husbands of other women? What happens to people like that when the guns fall silent? When people come home? When the people they tried to expel come home, too? When an occupation force comes in, and when words like ‘justice’ and ‘restitution’ begin to be whispered…?

I’ve found that no amount of work we, as humanitarian workers, can do will suffice to overcome those impulses. You are always going to be frustrated in what you achieve, to only get halfway to where you want to be, and often—far too often—the guilty get away with it. I think with my writing I’m trying to find some way of coming to terms with that. I don’t write about white knights on white horses—Gregor Reinhardt is certainly not one of those—but I try to ask those questions that seem to haunt me, and I try to find answers, and a sense of closure.

McCallin portrait
Luke McCallin
Authors Links:
Web site: http://lukemccallin.com/
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/lukemccallinauthor/
Twitter: @mccallinluke
Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/6519002.Luke_McCallin

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#Review #TheBookOfMemory by @VascoDaGappah Petina Gappah @FaberBooks

The Book Of Memory by Petina Gappah

The story you have asked me to tell begins not with the ignominious ugliness of Lloyd’s death but on a long-ago day in April when the sun seared my blistered face and I was nine years old and my father and mother sold me to a strange man. I say my father and my mother, but really it was just my mother.

Memory, the narrator of The Book of Memory, is an albino woman languishing in Chikurubi Maximum Security Prison in Harare, Zimbabwe, where she has been convicted of murder. As part of her appeal her lawyer insists that she write down what happened as she remembers it. The death penalty is a mandatory sentence for murder, and Memory is, both literally and metaphorically, writing for her life. As her story unfolds, Memory reveals that she has been tried and convicted for the murder of Lloyd Hendricks, her adopted father. But who was Lloyd Hendricks? Why does Memory feel no remorse for his death? And did everything happen exactly as she remembers?

My Review:

I have just devoured this novel, in 2hrs on a lazy Sunday morning! I keep day dreaming with thoughts on the themes and mostly my ability to assume the worst within the narrative. I rarely jump to conclusions in novels, I simply let the author tell the story. But with this novel I made false assumptions time and time again!
Which meant when I finally turned the last page, I was left stunned with so much to contemplate.

The novel opens with the protagonist Memory, narrating her life in Chikurubi jail. We hear the life stories of her fellow prisoners and the day to day struggle of like in prison. When we finally get to memory’s life story, it is one that will leave you shocked and saddened. Memory was sold by her parents to a wealthy white man, at just 9yrs old. After a childhood marred by evil spirits, curses and the family shame of being born albino. Memory carries the social stigma of being albino her entire life and even in jail, she is whispered about and mocked. I had so many questions, why did her parents sell her? Was there motivation, purely financially based? What are the intentions of a man whom buys a child? Would this lead to more misery and pain for Memory?

“In the years that followed, my feelings for Lloyd went through a complex spectrum that took in fear, affection, anger and revulsion, gratitude and, ultimately, pity”

All I can say, as I refuse to leave spoilers, is my initial assumptions were completely and utterly wrong! But to understand the full extent of the rich/poor divide.
The cultural aspects that make such a situation occur and the why Memory is languishing on death row.
You simply have to read her story……

Memory deals with her childhood loss of identity, her new life in jail and the painful relationships of her past, throughout her story. It is incredibly powerful, moving and emotive novel. From the final 30/40 pages I didn’t move a single muscle.
Highly recommended 4*

Petina Gappah
Authors links:
Via Faber Books: https://www.faber.co.uk/author/petina-gappah/
Twitter: @VascoDaGappah


#Review 5* #DeadToMe by @LesleyPearse @MichaelJBooks

Dead To Me by Lesley Pearse

Two very different women, one unlikely friendship. In the chaos of war-torn Britain, can any relationship survive?

Dead to Me is a story about loyalty, love and the strength of friendship in the face of adversity, from international number one bestselling author Lesley Pearse.

Spring 1935.
On London’s Hampstead Heath two girls meet by chance: well-mannered and smartly dressed Verity and dishevelled and grubby Ruby. Yet the mismatched pair form an instant friendship strong enough to survive their parent’s disapproval.

When war engulfs the country – sending Ruby to Devon while Verity struggles to find a new beginning under a shadow from her past – the girls are convinced they will always be there for each other.

Until the day one breaks the other’s heart . . .

Can Verity and Ruby find a way back to each other before it’s too late?

My Review:

I have been a fan of Lesley Pearse’s for many, many years! With my favourite novel of hers being, Remember Me. I am also a huge WW2 geek and love WW2 non-fiction and Fiction books. I have a very impressive collection!
So this novel was an obvious choice for me.

Spring 1935

The novel is ultimately a story of friendship and the strength of the bonds we make, with those whom, we share no blood. The friendship is between Ruby and Verity, who meet by accident one day in their childhood on Hampstead Heath. The girls come from very different walks of life one from exceptional wealth and one from abject poverty. As they witness a dead drunk being pulled from a pool Ruby remarks “no one cares why poor people die”. This intrigues Verity, on how the other half life and so begins a friendship. But neither girl has any idea what fate has in store for them and how their lives are about to change……………

Ruby (14yrs) agrees to show Verity (13yrs) the sides of London she has never seen before and in turn Verity will teach Ruby some manners of the middle class. This unlikely friendship mixed with the ‘coming of age’ of the girls age, really adds to the story. The divide between wealth and poor, clear to see in such young children. Ruby’s mum is a renowned local prostitute, who cares very little for Ruby’s safety and well-being. Verity has grown up in wealth at Daleham Gradens, with a distant mother but a loving housekeeper.
Their worlds couldn’t be further apart!

The novel moves through the years and features the trials and tribulations the girls endeavour as they bloom into young women. But when a tragedy occurs and one girl blames the other. A letter is sent containing only the words “YOU ARE DEAD TO ME”. With both girls no left feeling alone in the world, who will they seek out for comfort? What trouble lurks in the darkness, waiting to strike?

This novel has many dark themes within it, but it is displays how friendship may encounter great struggles but can last a lifetime. The WW2 setting adds to the emotions within the story and creates a fantastic backdrop to the novel. There are characters you will love, like Wilby (Mrs Wilbeforce) she reminded me very lovingly of my granny Winnie. Also characters you will despise more and more with the building of the novel, namely Archie (Verity’s father).
This novel touches upon a wide-range of emotion.
A thoroughly good read 5*

Lesley Pearse
Authors Links:
Via Penguin: https://www.penguin.co.uk/authors/lesley-pearse/21763/
Twitter: @LesleyPearse


#BlogTour 5* #Review #IKnowASecret by @tessgerritsen @TransworldBooks #NewRelease

I Know A Secret by Tess Gerritsen

I have a secret.
And someone wants to make sure I never tell . . .

In a house decorated with horror movie posters, a young woman’s body is found. She lies on her bed, two bloodied objects clutched in her palm. Detective Jane Rizzoli and Forensic Pathologist Maura Isles are called to the murder scene, but even faced with this gruesome sight they are unable to identify the immediate cause of death.

Their investigation leads them to a high-profile murder case that was seemingly solved years before. But when another body is found in horrific circumstances, the link between the two victims is clear. Was the wrong person sent to prison? Is the real killer out there right now, picking off new targets?

One woman knows the killer is coming for her next. She’s the only one who can help Rizzoli and Isles catch him.

But she has a secret that she has to keep . . .

My review:

This is Rizzoli & Isles #12 but can easily be read as a standalone novel. Detective Jane Rizzoli and forensic pathologist Maura Isles, are a crime solving due in Boston, USA. With a young woman found dead, with links to high-profile solved case from years ago.
This is no easy case to solve by any measure…..

The novel starts quite slow in the beginning and I longed for the usual, complete and utter engrossment, I get with novels by this author. However, at 50% in, things took a monumental turn and I realised this was the work of a very clever author and writing style. It felt as though the first half of the novel, the author is leaving tiny, tiny breadcrumbs and clues to the plot. Which at the halfway mark, blew me away!

The novel opens with unreliable narrator Holly, attending the funeral of childhood friend Sarah. Sarah having been victim to a fatal house fire. I didn’t like Holly from the onset but the way she delivered little riddle like clues, that had me hooked!
Five rode the school bus that afternoon, only 4 remain alive…….

Maura Isles is visiting a terminally ill, cancer patient, who also turns out to be a psychopathic serial killer. Nothing new there, due to her role as a forensic pathologist would often mean engaging with such killers, after they have been caught. Except this killer Amalthea Lank, is Isles birth mother…….
They have a fraught discussion and you can see Lank’s attempts to draw Isle’s into some form of emotional blackmail with mind games. The relationship between the two in the novel, makes for eerie reading and displays the psychology of familial bonds.
The crosses we all bear due to DNA.

Detective Jane Rizzoli and detective Barry Frost are attempting to analyse the crime scene, where the young victim lays sprawled across the bed, with empty eye sockets and an eye in each hand. The crime scene is grotesque and this is not a novel for the faint hearted. The victim Cassandra Coyle, a young wannabe film maker positioning resembles a similar case in Dallas. A case where 3 young college girls were murdered but the perpetrator was caught.
Is someone trying to send a message to the police?
Does this mean there will be more bodies?

Someone is watching Rizzoli and Isles

The investigation continues with much speculation and theories, but theories don’t catch killers! The autopsy turns up more mystery than hard evidence and the CCTV displays nothing more than a silhouette of a tall man. Not to mention the warring parents at the funeral of the victim. Rizzoli and Isles have little more than some sketchy theories and links to a previous new age cult. When the body of a dead man shows up, with similar findings. The duo know they have the work of a crazed killer on their hands.

“oh what a tangled web we weave when we first practice to deceive” Holly

There appears no obvious link to the victims, other than a ‘mechanism of death’ used in the murders. *See I told you this was not for the faint hearted!*
The mechanism of death and theories that surround the case, make for fascinating reading. They force the duo to investigate painful cold cases and contact victims, who would rather forget the past.

I can’t give away anymore, with regards to the plot, because to do so would leave spoilers. I do look forward to hearing other readers shock and awe, when they hit the halfway mark! Because this novel has an insanely epic turn!
There are themes of revenge, abuse, family dynamics, religion and the pain of the past.
It is one hell of a good read! 5*    

Tess Gerritsen
Authors Links:
Web page: http://www.tessgerritsen.com/
Twitter: @tessgerritsen

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#Review #FromTheShadows by @neilwhite1965 @BonnierZaffre #HappyPublicationDay

From The Shadows by Neil White


Mary Kendricks, a smart, pretty, twenty-four-year-old teacher, has been brutally murdered.

Robert Carter stands accused of killing her.

According to Mary’s friends, Robert watched her, harassed her, stalked her.

But did he kill her?

Dan Grant is Robert’s lawyer. He and his investigator Jayne Brett have two weeks before Robert Carter goes to trial. Two weeks to prove whether or not he killed Mary.

Together they will get to the truth – whatever the cost . . .

My review:

From The Shadows is the perfect mix of crime fiction, legal thriller and ultimately the choices people make that impacts their lives. I have long been a fan of the authors writing style and whilst this may differ from his other work, it is just as good!

Dan Grant, defence lawyer and Jayne Brett, private investigator are the unlikely duo faced; with the monumental task of prime suspect Robert Carter’s, defence in just two weeks. A case the no one wants and appears to be doomed to fail.

The chapters and scenes that depict the stalking from the voyeurs, point of view, are eerie and gave me the shivers. The very idea of being watched, stalked and followed, is seriously creepy. But the writing sets the pace for the nature of the plot and how it will all unravel.

Robert Carter doesn’t do himself any favours. He appears as a loner, who becomes infatuated with various women, despite having a wife and young daughter at home. He admits to being at the scene of the crime and a bloody finger print is used as evidence against him. He is a hopeless man, with a hopeless case and the odds are stacked against him! But there is something Dan just can’t let go, what if Carter didn’t do it?

The evidence and testimony is conflicting and with several external characters coming across as suspicious. I was forced to ask myself, is Dan on to something here? Is Carter innocent?

To find out the further details of the case, the suspect and the lawyer determined to make a difference. You will have to buy the novel. 4*

Neil White
Authors links:
web page: http://www.neilwhite.net/
Twitter: @neilwhite1965