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  We periodically wax lyrical about independent presses and their lists and Karen Sullivan’s Orenda Books has had several such shout outs. She’s a canny publisher with a great eye, and the range and quality of her authors support that. So, no surprise then that wonderful Doug Johnstone’s latest novel, A Dark Matter, is published … Continue readings

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  We like PI Bev Saunders. She’s feisty, funny and she has heart, so we’re delighted to meet her again in Backlash, author Marnie Riches’ latest entertaining offering. This time Bev’s tasked with going undercover to deal with a rowdy neighbour who’s driving her client insane. But as in all good crime-fiction, nothing is quite … Continue readings

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  There are some cracking crime-fiction novels being published this year and Russ Thomas’ debut Firewatching sits snugly among them. A smartly plotted, tightly written book set over seven days, it introduces DS Adam Tyler to audiences. Working for South Yorkshire’s Cold Case Review Unit (or Sea-Crew as it’s also known), Tyler is a late … Continue readings

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  Nora Roberts is one of my Old Familiars, a writer whose work I go back to again and again, especially when I need comfort. And each time I do, her books don’t disappoint: they’re like catching up with old friends. In Sanctuary, one of Roberts’ older, longer form novels, the author does what she … Continue readings

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  We do like a good historical crime-fiction novel and David Young’s Stasi Winter fits perfectly into this category. It’s our first Young experience, yet the fifth in an existing series featuring Karin Müller, a detective in East Germany’s People’s Police. And as we can testify, it can be read as a standalone, although we … Continue readings

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  A tale of love in all its guises, Beth Miller’s The Missing Letters of Mrs Bright explores friendship, family and the joy of life. When protagonist Kay decides to up and leave her husband of 29 years, it’s a shock to her family and friends, even more so when she takes off to fields … Continue readings

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  Set in a remote part of the Lake District, Sarah Stovell’s remarkable The Home is a stark, beautiful and emotive novel that takes no prisoners. Focusing on three troubled young women in care, Annie, Hope and Lara all have traumatic pasts. While they have been let down by those meant to protect them, at … Continue readings

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  First review of 2020 and we start with a bang and not a whimper with Rose Black’s highly readable The Unforgetting. Set in Victorian England, the book pays more than a nod to classic Gothic literature. At its centre is protagonist Lily Bell who dreams of a sparkling career on the London stage. When … Continue readings

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  There are certain times of year that lend themselves more to poetry, that inspire and evoke feelings of joy, happiness, kindness, loss, despair, the whole gamut of human emotion really. In her latest book, author Orna Ross has written twelve poems for deep mid-winter. ‘The hibernal solstice, the darkest day of the year, has … Continue readings

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  In Deathly Affair, Leigh Russell’s latest procedural, protagonist Geraldine Steel takes her thirteenth bow, but it’s a Geraldine who, while somewhat shaken, is stirred enough to fight the good fight. A demotion from DI to DS and a move to York see Geraldine working with DI Ian Peterson again. Her change in circumstances doesn’t … Continue readings

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  There are a lot of very good New Zealand writers around, particularly in crime fiction, and Nathan Blackwell is one of the newest kids on the block. The Sound of her Voice, published in paperback by Orion this month, is a very good, albeit dark read. No surprises then that it was shortlisted for … Continue readings

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  ghoster   noun A person who ends a relationship with someone by suddenly and without explanation withdrawing from all communication.”   This is a year of original fiction and it’s a huge pleasure to review yet another novel that fits into this category, Jason Arnopp’s Ghoster. Funny, engaging, creepy, twisted, I could throw all … Continue readings

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  We do not converse with one another. We don’t have to do that. Our purpose is to stand on the edge and ask ourselves one question. Pretend we have some kind of choice. We are the message. The spectacle. This is the theatre of cruelty.”   There’s an exactness to Will Carver’s writing that … Continue readings

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  Shalini Boland’s latest offering, The Other Daughter, focuses on every parent’s worst nightmare, the abduction of their child. But what do you do if you come face to face with that child years later as someone else’s daughter? From the opening pages, Boland’s plot is fast-paced. We’re thrown into the action, immersed in mother … Continue readings

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  John Simmons’ Leaves is a very beautiful and considered novel. Lyrical at times, it focuses on North London’s Ophelia Street, a ‘no-through road, a huddle of houses, obscured from sight’ in 1970. Over five parts, which follow the seasons and end with the new year, we see and experience the characters who inhabit the … Continue readings