Pendulum – Adam Hamdy

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Published on 3rd November 2016 by Headline and available to buy here

You wake. Confused. Disorientated.
A noose is round your neck.
You are bound, standing on a chair.
All you can focus on is the man in the mask tightening the rope.
You are about to die.
John Wallace has no idea why he has been targeted. No idea who his attacker is. No idea how he will prevent the inevitable.
Then the pendulum of fate swings in his favour.
He has one chance to escape, find the truth and halt his destruction.
The momentum is in his favour for now.
But with a killer on his tail, everything can change with one swing of this deadly pendulum…

You have one chance. Run.

My thoughts

I picked up Pendulum, to read a few pages. Before I knew it I was lost in the book, racing towards the end. It is THAT kind of thriller. It consumes you.

This is a cat and mouse game, with a cunning serial killer. John Wallace finds himself targeted by a ruthless killer. He ends up in a locked psychiatric ward, after fleeing from his home following a vicious attack. No one believes John’s story that his home was invaded and he was strung up with a noose around his neck, by a masked man. They all think he is suicidal and delusional. John is soon on the run, a wanted man. Will the killer track him down? Is John clever enough to work out what on earth is going on?

Adam Hamdy had me hypnotised by Pendulum. It reminded me of ‘The Fugitive’ and all of those action packed movies that have you practically sobbing in frustration, at the many trials our tough hero endures. I felt Wallace’s pain. I was willing him on! I needed answers…

Boy oh boy! This is one hectic terrifying journey we take with Wallace. Hamdy never lets the fast pace ease off, as we go from London to New York, in search of answers. Luckily Wallace is the sort of amazing guy, who can cope with hell being thrown at him. He can walk around covered in bruises and with broken ribs and not moan, like the rest of us. Well me, actually! I would be letting the world know my agony! I enjoyed the rest of the cast, especially Wallace’s FBI friend Christine and how we got to know our clever killer. I actually felt empathy for our psychopathic serial killer. He wasn’t all bad, you know!

Top top crime! Hamdy aces it. He gives us a heart-stopping, high octane killer thriller. I was left wanting more. And there will be more…. Looking forward to the sequel SO MUCH! Recommended.

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The Last Confession of Thomas Hawkins – Antonia Hodgson (Tom Hawkins Book 2)

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Published on 14th July 2015 by Hodder Paperbacks and available here

London, 1728. A young, well-dressed man is driven through streets of jeering onlookers to the gallows at Tyburn. They call him a murderer. But Tom Hawkins is innocent and somehow he has to prove it, before the rope squeezes the life out of him.

It is, of course, all his own fault. He was happy settling down with Kitty Sparks. He should never have told the most dangerous criminal in London that he was bored and looking for adventure. He should never have offered to help, the king’s mistress. And most of all, he should never have trusted the witty, calculating Queen Caroline. She has promised him a royal pardon if London, 1728. A young, well-dressed man is driven through streets of jeering onlookers to the gallows at Tyburn. They call him a murderer. But Tom Hawkins is innocent and somehow he has to prove it, before the rope squeezes the life out of him.

It is, of course, all his own fault. He was happy settling down with Kitty Sparks. He should never have told the most dangerous criminal in London that he was bored and looking for adventure. He should never have offered to help, the king’s mistress. And most of all, he should never have trusted the witty, calculating Queen Caroline. She has promised him a royal pardon if he holds his tongue but then again, there is nothing more silent than a hanged man…

Previous book in the series: The Devil in the Marshalsea – Antonia Hodgson (Tom Hawkins Book 1)

My thoughts

Hooray! I seriously think I want to travel in a TARDIS back to 1728 and meet Tom Hawkins. Obviously I don’t want the insanitary conditions, poor hygiene and smells. But I’m in love with the period. Give me the gin shops and the taverns NOW!

Hawkins was last seen in a debtor’s prison hunting for a killer. In ‘The Last Confession of Thomas Hawkins’, he is back. This time, it is a historical locked door mystery. Hawkins now lives in sin with Kitty, who has inherited a fortune. As this is before the Married Womens’ Property Act of 1882, Kitty has to stay single to keep control of her money. If she marries Hawkins, her money goes to him. Kitty is the owner of a lewd bookshop selling eighteenth century porn, think Fifty Shades of Grey style writings. The man next door, Joseph Burden, comes to blows with Hawkins publicly and ends up being found murdered. Who killed Burden? Hawkins finds himself accused of a crime he didn’t commit and in a race against time to find the guilty party. Tom also finds himself chatting to the Queen, as you do. Life is certainly fun for our hero!

Loved it! It was fun to be back in the crazy world of Tom and Kitty. This felt very different to the first story, set in the debtor’s prison. Tom gets himself in just as much trouble, this time. There is a lovely sense of the time and place, through the colourful descriptions. We see how life is lived in the 1720s, in the city. I found myself looking up various things on the internet, from the gin epidemic to contraception. I couldn’t help myself! I cannot imagine how cheap gin must have been back then, for people to spend all of their money getting drunk on it. I’m not saying what the condoms were made of! Urrghhh!

What an adventure! If you are interested in social history and want a good old fashioned crime story, with a lovable rogue in Tom, check out Antonia Hodgson! I look forward to Tom’s next story in Yorkshire, ‘A Death At Fountains Abbey’.

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Her Every Fear – Peter Swanson

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Published on 10 January 2017 by Faber and Faber and available here

The author of the wildly popular The Kind Worth Killing returns with an electrifying and downright Hitchcockian psychological thriller as tantalizing as the cinema classics Rear Window and Wait Until Dark involving a young woman caught in a vise of voyeurism, betrayal, manipulation, and murder.

The danger isn’t all in your head . . .

Growing up, Kate Priddy was always a bit neurotic, experiencing momentary bouts of anxiety that exploded into full blown panic attacks after an ex-boyfriend kidnapped her and nearly ended her life. When Corbin Dell, a distant cousin in Boston, suggests the two temporarily swap apartments, Kate, an art student in London, agrees, hoping that time away in a new place will help her overcome the recent wreckage of her life.

But soon after her arrival at Corbin’s grand apartment on Beacon Hill, Kate makes a shocking discovery: his next-door neighbor, a young woman named Audrey Marshall, has been murdered. When the police question her about Corbin, a shaken Kate has few answers, and many questions of her own curiosity that intensifies when she meets Alan Cherney, a handsome, quiet tenant who lives across the courtyard, in the apartment facing Audrey s. Alan saw Corbin surreptitiously come and go from Audrey’s place, yet he’s denied knowing her. Then, Kate runs into a tearful man claiming to be the dead woman’s old boyfriend, who insists Corbin did the deed the night that he left for London.

When she reaches out to her cousin, he proclaims his innocence and calms her nerves . . . until she comes across disturbing objects hidden in the apartment and accidently learns that Corbin is not where he says he is. Could Corbin be a killer? And what about Alan? Kate finds herself drawn to this appealing man who seems so sincere, yet she isn’t sure. Jetlagged and emotionally unstable, her imagination full of dark images caused by the terror of her past, Kate can barely trust herself . . . So how could she take the chance on a stranger she’s just met?

Yet the danger Kate imagines isn’t nearly as twisted and deadly as what’s about to happen. When her every fear becomes very real.

And much, much closer than she thinks.

My review of the brilliant The Kind Worth Killing

My thoughts

Seriously GREAT! Gorgeously dark! I fell in love with the writing of Peter Swanson, on reading ‘The Kind Worth Killing’. Now’s he’s back with a new one to grip you, send your senses soaring and make you wonder if there is someone creeping about your house.’Her Every Fear’ is a must-read for 2017.

The story follows Kate, an English girl who has swapped apartments with Corbin, a distant cousin, and has moved to America for six months. She is has over-come trauma in her past, following an abusive relationship. Kate is still plagued with anxiety and panic attacks. It is a positive step for her to be living abroad and taking a university course. Kate becomes intrigued with the apartment next door to her. A woman has disappeared and is later found dead. The police come knocking on her door. We also have the story narrated by Corbin, a man with a few secrets of his own. What is Corbin hiding? Why is neighbour Alan watching? Is Kate safe or is she right to be slightly paranoid?

Poor Kate! She attracts terrible things. She is an evil psychopath magnet. She is also a victim of her fears. Swanson shows us Kate’s past in microscopic detail and what turned her into this bundle of nerves. It is no wonder she is happy staying in her flat, with the door bolted. Kate’s natural curiosity leads her into the mystery of the girl next door and to a spot of detective work. A murdered girl, who her distant cousin knows. A murdered girl, that Kate needs to find all about. The tension escalates, as we see Kate drawing the creepy attention of others, including a killer. It is ironic, that her worst fears start to materialise. Yes she has a right to worry. Reality kicks her in the teeth. Someone has their sights on Kate.

Creepy neighbours, multiple murder, revenge, extreme paranoia and a woman with a million fears caught up in it all.. what is not to LOVE! Swanson has this brilliant way of leading you into a twisted world, where you hold your breath and wait with anticipation and horror. As events are narrated from several points of view, we soon understand how precarious a position Kate is in and what she may discover. This is a place where killers are friendly, fears seem very real and you might just be right about that sudden unexpected noise. Swanson’s books always have a cinematic quality about them. This is no exception. I can picture it as a movie, with creepy background music playing and a strong thumping heart beat.

Excellently paranoid, with a touch of twisted fear! Recommended.

 

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I See You – Clare Mackintosh

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Published on 28 July 2016 by Sphere and available here

When Zoe Walker sees her photo in the classifieds section of a London newspaper, she is determined to find out why it’s there. There’s no explanation, no website: just a grainy image and a phone number. She takes it home to her family, who are convinced it’s just someone who looks like Zoe. But the next day the advert shows a photo of a different woman, and another the day after that.

Is it a mistake? A coincidence? Or is someone keeping track of every move they make . . .

I See You is an edge-of-your-seat, page-turning psychological thriller from one of the most exciting and successful British debut talents of 2015

My thoughts

‘I Let You Go’ was a huge success for new author Clare Mackintosh. It was truly excellent and highly original. I was expecting great things from her with ‘I See You’. There has been a lot of buzz about it all over the place…

The story itself is set in London, with the London Underground featuring prominently. We follow an average forty year old woman, a commuter living in London with her family. Think girl on an underground train. She finds what looks like HER picture, in the sleazy classified section of a newspaper. There are links to a website and a phone number. Zoe contacts the police, but is not really taken seriously. Zoe keeps an eye on the classified section of the newspaper and starts to see a pattern emerging. Soon it is clear. Someone is targeting passengers on the Underground for their own sinister pleasure and gain. Only Kelly, who works with the British Transport Police, seems willing to listen to Zoe.

The highlight of ‘I See You’ was its atmospheric portrayal of the London Underground. Mackintosh really captures the feeling of claustrophobia and of bodies packed tightly together, in the heat. I shuddered at the description and I don’t really mind the Underground. I was impressed too, with the descriptions of the police operations in the Underground and above. I wanted more of that.

Overall I found this to be pretty average for a psychological crime read. Not what I was expecting AT ALL, from the author of ‘I Let You Go’.

We get bombarded with too many details about Zoe’s dreary domestic life, her work and her daily traumas. It slowed down everything, to a snail’s pace. Zoe wasn’t engaging enough to appeal to me. Although I enjoyed some of the scenes in the Underground, where she was wary and fearful. She mostly behaved like she was forty going on sixty. I craved action and tension. This was a great idea; a concept of high drama in the Underground, with murder and danger thrown in. Stalking with technology, technology working against us! Evil in our midst. The problem was that all felt contrived and unsatisfactory, with little to impress a seasoned reader of crime. I wanted to believe in it all. I just couldn’t. Kelly was the stronger, more believable character. It is a pity, we did not get her as the main focus of the story.

Overall, this was a massive disappointment to me. I think it might appeal more, if you haven’t read ‘I Let You Go’ and go into this without any expectations. I feel it is a very average psychological drama, that fails to deliver anything extra-ordinary. See what you make of it, for yourselves!

 

 

 

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The Dead Can’t Talk – Nick Quantrill

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Published on 12 May 2015 by Caffeine Nights and available here to buy.

A CITY CAN’T KEEP ITS SECRETS FOREVER.

How far will Anna Stone, a disillusioned police officer on the brink of leaving her job, go to uncover the truth about her sister’s disappearance?

Approached by Luke Carver, an ex-Army drifter she’s previously sent to prison, he claims to have information which will help her. As the trail leads from Hull and the Humber’s desperate and downtrodden to its great and good, an unsolved murder twenty-five years ago places their lives in danger, leaving Stone to decide if she can really trust a man who has his own reasons for helping.

Nick Quantrill guest post: Quantrill Talks: The Dead Can’t Talk – Writing Provincial Crime

My thoughts

Well well well.. Hot on the heels of David Mark and his Hull crime novel Dead Pretty, I’ve jumped into a bit more seriously gritty Hull noir. Hull is becoming a crime capital! The Dead Can’t Talk is the fourth book by Nick Quantrill. It looks to me like it could be the start of a fantastic series, with the pairing of Carver and Stone.

Luke Carver is ex-army and he’s struggling to make a life for himself, as a civilian. He was sent to prison thanks to the efforts of one police officer, Anna Stone. Stone is fed up with the police, after her journalist sister went missing and it was assumed she had committed suicide. She is deciding where her future lies. A sex worker was murdered twenty five years ago. Carver and Stone find themselves unlikely allies hunting for the truth, when a piece of evidence about the murder is handed to them.

We get a story of corruption, of secrets and lies, of an underclass of poverty and a backdrop of the less touristy side Hull. This is a seedy Hull; the desperate hidden side of a city, with its casual violence, sex workers and people living on the very edge. We get a real sense of how incredibly difficult it must for the less affluent residents. Luke Carver, as an ex-army man, is trying his best to get by and to make something of his life. He is stuck with a criminal record and limited choices, living in a grotty bedsit. He is incredibly well drawn and it was fascinating seeing the world from his perspective. Anna Stone is the exact opposite of Luke, wealthy enough to go travelling and see the world. She is a woman with a focus, determined to find out what happened to her sister.

This was really superb, told with a refreshing style and a beautiful dark edge. I found myself immensely enjoying the world of Carver and Stone in Hull. Mr Quantrill, you have a new fan!

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Crimefest 2016: Meet the authors with Michael Grothaus

So in 2016, I went to Crimefest in Bristol. Liz and I chatted to lots of lovely crime writers all about their books. Lots of FUN was had by all. Today, I have the pleasure of hosting our chat with the ever so talented Michael Grothaus. Check out Liz’s place for our chat with Paul Hardisty. Well more of a falling in love with Paul Hardisty….

Epiphany Jones was published by Orenda Books on 16 May 2016 and can be found here on Amazon. I reviewed it and have completely fallen in love. It is definitely going to be one of my favourites of this year. My five star review is here: Epiphany Jones

We started off by asking all about Epiphany Jones and why Michael Grothaus wrote it…

Michael told us that he used to work in the film industry, for Twentieth Century Fox. (Lots of oooohs from Christine and Liz…) He says he was a starry eyed kid. He saw it as a business and a market place. People were dropping out of college to pay for films. He saw groups of young girls and boys at parties. Micheal saw a bunch of crazy stuff, at these Hollywood parties.

He started researching human sex trafficking. There are twenty million people enslaved in it. In American culture, they are obsessed with celebrity and worship celebrity. Grothaus wanted to write a satire about it all. To tell it through the eyes of someone blinded by celebrity, fake celebrity and porn.

Tell us a bit about your protagonist, Jerry…

Michael Grothaus told us that he created a damaged, delusional guy in Epiphany Jones. Jerry is a flawed character. He isn’t really one that you would want to hang out with or would like. So often, we judge people for their flaws. Jerry is a sex addict. We go on this harrowing emotional journey, with Jerry and end up loving him. At the end of the story, he wants us to feel lots of empathy for Jerry.

At the time of chatting to Michael, I didn’t understand what he meant. I was desperate to see for myself what this satire on Hollywood, featuring a sex addict was like. I agree, now I’ve read it. It is impossible not to fall in love with Jerry, during the novel. Jerry is the best!

We wanted to know about Michael’s writing process..

Micheal is dedicated. This impresses me and Liz. He writes, when the rest of us are sleeping. He writes at 11pm for four hours. When he stops, he knows exactly what he will write next…

Our final very important questions….

If you were writing a book about your life, what would it be called?

Michael hasn’t come back to us with an answer. I’m sure he has a brilliant response though…. *winks*

Recommend a book to us

War and Peace by Tolstoy

Michael recommends it because you end up caring about all of the characters.

Thank you very much, Michael for chatting to us at Crimefest. We love you and we adore Epiphany Jones!

Don’t forget to check out Epiphany Jones for yourself and see why we all think it’s the bee’s knees…

Say hello to Michael on Twitter: https://twitter.com/michaelgrothaus

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Dead Pretty – David Mark : Review and Q&A for paperback release day

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It is a pleasure to welcome the rather brilliant and funny David Mark to Northern Crime today, on the release of Dead Pretty in paperback.

Dead Pretty is the fifth in the successful Aector McAvoy series set in Hull. It is published by Mulholland Book and available to buy here, from 11 August 2016.

What’s Dead Pretty all about?

Meet DS McAvoy – Richard & Judy loved his first investigation in DARK WINTER.

*Longlisted for the Crime Writers’ Association Gold Dagger for Best Novel*

Hannah Kelly has been missing for nine months. Ava Delaney has been dead for five days.

One girl to find. One girl to avenge. And DS Aector McAvoy won’t let either of them go until justice can be done.

But some people have their own ideas of what justice means…

DEAD PRETTY is the stunning new novel from one of Britain’s most original crime writers.


***Question and Answer with Author David Mark***

Tell us a little bit about yourself.

I’m 5ft 8” with blue eyes and a fondness words like ‘unctuous’ and ‘gorgonzola’. I shave my head and enjoy ham sandwiches. I go for a lot of walks and was Mr June in the 2014 Ibuprofen calendar. I was a journalist for many years and hated it. I’m now a novelist and write crime fiction, which critics like and hopefully people will start to buy in the kind of numbers that will allow me to put better quality ham in the sandwiches. I have two kids and lots of animals and I can’t answer questions without first going all around the houses in some desperate attempt to amuse.

This is the fifth in the brilliant series featuring Scottish Aector McAvoy, set in Hull. It was my introduction to McAvoy. I am planning to read them all and catch up on what looks like a compelling dark series! This series has come highly recommended by so many readers and reviewers, I feel guilty that I’ve only just discovered it. Well done on ‘Dead Pretty’. I LOVED how it all played out.

As you are a Yorkshire writer, why is your protagonist not from Yorkshire? I wasn’t expecting a big Scottish bloke, in a Hull crime series. How would you describe him to a new reader? He intrigued me. He came across as caring, obsessive and a bit odd. When I say odd, I’m referring to that scene at the beginning where he takes his family on a day outing to a potential murder site. That is unusual. I was drawn to him, in spite of that.

Thank you so much. And don’t feel bad about just discovering Aector. He’s very shy and doesn’t like to put himself forward. You’ve clearly got to know him quickly as ‘caring, obsessive and a bit odd’ would certainly capture some of his personality. He’s a giant of a chap, raised in the Scottish Highlands. He’s an outsider by nature because he grew up in quite an isolated area, though he’s not without his charms. He ended up in Hull purely by accident. I thought about making him a local but I feel that you can give a more accurate portrayal of a people and place by having that degree of remove – he’s an outsider, like me. Quite why he’s Scottish is a question for my deeper psyche. I just wanted him to be good and decent and dogged and perhaps there is something about the gentle Highland brogue that spoke to me. Either that or I just love Rob Roy. He wouldn’t see anything odd about picnicking with his family at a potential murder site. That’s just a good way to please his family and do something useful at the same time, which is the eternal conundrum after all.

I became really fond of Trish, McAvoy’s tough boss and the way events unfolded around her. I liked the way we saw into her chaotic home life and her unusual marriage. I am not sure about McAvoy’s wife though. Are those two characters regulars throughout the series?

They are the two constants in McAvoy’s life. Trish is McAvoy’s boss and best friend and she is in love with him in a way that she will never properly acknowledge and which doesn’t make her any more gentle with his emotions. She’s funny and sexy and hard as nails and I love writing her scenes. She’s also very representative of the successful female detectives I used to know as a journalist. As for Roisin, she’s Aector’s whole heart. He loves her to his bones and she adores him in return. She grew up in a Travelling community and has a very different set of skills and a natural distrust of authority, which makes for some challenging situations. Aector wants to please her constantly and she would never use that to her advantage. They really are very happy – they just keep getting sucked into grisly confrontations with serial killers.

Why did you decide to write a northern crime series? I don’t know Hull at all. It’s embarrassing. I live in Yorkshire and I’ve only been to Hull once in my life. Do you use actual locations in Hull and the surrounding areas?

Don’t blame yourself. Hull suffers from the unfortunate condition of being a punchline sort of city. It’s not deserved, of course. It’s a great place, full of wonderful architecture and great museums and galleries. But it does have a dark side which makes it a gift for a crime writer. I set the books here because I was here for many years as a journalist and saw the very best and worst of the place. It’s an untapped resource on the crime landscape. I would say 95 per cent of the locations are real. Check out the murder map on my website, http://www.david-mark.com to see for yourself.

If they were making a movie of ‘Dead Pretty’, who would you want to star as McAvoy? I’m struggling to think of many huge ginger actors. Do you have anyone in the back of your mind, as you are writing him?

I’ve always said that Rory McCann, who plays Clegane in Game of Thrones, would be superb. He has the stature and the same sad eyes. But if Tom Cruise wants to get out his chequebook, I’ll put up with the sort of questions that seem to be making poor Lee Child old before his time.

What’s next for David Mark? Did I spot you at Crimefest and Harrogate?

More writing. More festivals and book groups and creative writing seminars. There’s always something going on. New hardback in January, first historical crime novel out next year, stuff for Radio 4 – it’s almost as if I’m trying to keep the voices in my head quiet, don’t you think? And yes, I was at Crimefest and Harrogate. I hope I was looking okay.

Thanks! Amazing stuff…

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My thoughts on ‘Dead Pretty’

Everybody seems to have read Dead Pretty and discovered Aector McAvoy for themselves. I’m late to the party. This is the fifth in the series, with well established characters all in place. Welcome to Hull noir, written by David Mark.

I don’t like starting series, mid way through. You miss out on continuity and history. I felt like I was trying to piece together who was who from the first page and slightly struggling. It was exciting meeting McAvoy and his tough boss, Trish, in spite of my initial confusion. They leapt out of the page and made me stand up and take notice. In Dead Pretty, a teenager has gone missing and this is preying on the mind of McAvoy. He even takes his family out on a day trip, to where the girl could be buried. He is obsessive, in his need for answers and determined to hunt for the truth. Another girl in similar circumstances goes missing, which intensifies the pressure for McAvoy. Trish Pharoah, as well as having the most complicated home life ever, is bizarrely making friends with someone she banged up. Has she crossed over a professional line? Will Trish and McAvoy capture a killer in their midst?

Not unsurprisingly I found myself loving the dark world created by David Mark and his crime fighting duo, McAvoy and Trish Pharoah. This is not a nice safe place. Violence, death and a beautiful harsh realism is the order of the day. Hull is not what you expect. Hull is not dull!

There is something quite endearing about McAvoy, in his caring and protective persona. I could easily see myself liking him far too much. He is the sort of bloke that you want on your side. Although I’m not sure I bonded with McAvoy’s wife. I’m not overly fond of too much happiness in relationships, in crime novels. Trish was just brilliant, tough and pretty exciting to read about. By the end of the book, I was cheering them on and gasping at the fabulous twists and turns. The resolution was spot on!

If like me you haven’t discovered McAvoy, give him a go! I guarantee you will be charmed, by the northern humour and the tough storylines. David Mark has the thumbs up from me. I must check out the rest of the series.

 

 

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