Blackout – Ragnar Jonasson


Blackout was published on 30 June 2016 by Orenda Books and is available to buy here

On the shores of a tranquil fjord in Northern Iceland, a man is brutally beaten to death on a bright summer’s night. As the 24-hour light of the arctic summer is transformed into darkness by an ash cloud from a recent volcanic eruption, a young reporter leaves Reykajvik to investigate on her own, unaware that an innocent person’s life hangs in the balance. Ari Thór Arason and his colleagues on the tiny police force in Siglufjörður struggle with an increasingly perplexing case, while their own serious personal problems push them to the limit. What secrets does the dead man harbour, and what is the young reporter hiding? As silent, unspoken horrors from the past threaten them all, and the darkness deepens, it’s a race against time to find the killer before someone else dies… Dark, terrifying and complex, Blackout is an exceptional, atmospheric thriller from one of Iceland’s finest crime writers.

Previous books in the Dark Iceland series: Snowblind and Nightblind

My thoughts

Oh yes Ari Thor is back in Nightblind. I could not be more thrilled!

This is the third in the Dark Iceland series published by Orenda Books. Chronologically, it takes place after Snowblind and before Nightblind. Blackout takes us back to small town Iceland, where murder shocks the claustrophobic small community and Ari Thor is on hand to investigate. The time frame is 2010, when the ash clouds were looming over Europe. I remember that well.

This is a tale of a police investigation into a violent murder. Ari Thor and his colleagues are looking into the death of Elias, a local contractor and charity worker found murdered. Who was he? Ari Thor is a little distracted by the breakdown of his relationship with Kristin. There is also more on Ari Thor’s colleague, Hylnur. We see how the events in Nightblind will play out for him. Simultaneously a young journalist Isrun is doing her own private investigation into Elias. What are her motives?

As usual with Jonasson, there is a huge sense of an oppressive atmosphere in the small community. The clouds of ash just add to this. They are drowning out the daylight and making it even more tough for the town’s inhabitants. Slowly we follow the investigation from both sides, wondering whodunnit. Isrun seems that little bit more determined than Ari Thor to find answers. When we find get to the truth, there is a poignancy about the level of human depravity.

I would like to give a shout out to the translator, Quentin Bates. He truly makes this an incredible and beautiful crime read. Sometimes it is hard to imagine this was written in Icelandic. Thank you!

If you have not heard of this series or have just been considering them, give them a go! Do not be put off by the Icelandic names. They are a modern day crime classic, with a great detective in Ari Thor! Add my name to the growing legion of Ari Thor fans.




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Breaking Dead – Corrie Jackson



Breaking Dead was published by Twenty7/Bonnier on 8 September 2016 and is available to buy here

For fans of Kimberley Chambers and Jessie Keane, this compelling thriller uncovers the dark side of high fashion.

Newspaper journalist Sophie Kent is hanging by a thread following her brother’s suicide, her personal life in chaos.

When the mutilated body of a Russian model turns up in an upmarket hotel on the eve of London Fashion Week, Sophie recognises her from a recent interview and knows she could have saved her. Eaten away by guilt, she throws herself headfirst into the edgy, fast-paced world of fashion with one goal in mind: to catch the killer. Only then can she piece her grief-stricken self back together. As she chips away at the industry’s glittery surface, she uncovers a toxic underworld rife with drugs, secrets, prostitution and blackmail. Battling her demons and her wealthy, dysfunctional family along the way, Sophie pushes her personal problems to one side as she goes head to head with a crazed killer; a killer who is only just getting started . . .

Read our chat with the lovely Corrie Jackson with Liz of and me : Crimefest 2016: Meet the authors with Corrie Jackson

My thoughts

I cannot say that I am in any way interested in the glamorous life of fashion and models. London fashion week doesn’t even register on my horizon. Yet Corrie Jackson cunningly made me fall into the world of Sophie Kent and want to know more. This is a place where hidden beneath a veneer of glamour, there is pain, suffering and a whole lot of devilish goings on. Breaking Dead is one that you should definitely be looking out for in bookshops!

The story follows journalist Sophie Kent as she starts to delve in the life of a model. It is London Fashion week and there is a killer, in their midst. Sophie is grieving for the loss of her brother. She is hurting emotionally, full of a sense of guilt and emptiness. This does not stop her trying to seek answers and justice for the murdered girl, she knew briefly.

Corrie Jackson’s Breaking Dead totally delighted me. I felt like I was reading something different, something intelligent with a terrible dark side that captivated me. This is a world where underage girls are sexualized, addicted to substances and exploited by an entire industry. It is the perfect setting for crime and evil. I absolutely loved Sophie, her undiluted pain and the way she doggedly follows the clues. She deserves another outing or two. There was great insight into journalism and door stepping members of the public. I could feel the realism of the newsroom. Plus Sophie’s teasing relationship with the Police amused me.

Action packed and poignant, Breaking Dead puts grit into the glamorous world of fashion. Definitely one to pick up if you want your crime with a touch of glam, on these cold winter nights! Recommended.


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Tell Me No Lies by Lisa Hall *Blog Tour Review*


Tell Me No Lies is published on 20 October 2016 by Carina and is available to buy here

From the bestselling author of Between You and Me don’t miss Lisa Hall’s new gripping thriller.

Don’t. Trust. Anyone.

It was supposed to be a fresh start.

A chance to forget the past and embrace the future.

But can you ever really start again?

Or does the past follow you wherever you go…

Steph and Mark have just moved house, trying to find a way forward after all the secrets, lies and betrayal.

But starting over isn’t always easy. Especially when someone will go to any lengths to make sure you never forget…

Also read and reviewed in 2016: Between You and Me by Lisa Hall

****Hello and welcome to my turn on the Tell Me No Lies blog tour!****

My thoughts

Tell Me No Lies is the follow up to the rather successful Between You and Me! It was something I dived into with trepidation. Could Lisa Hall pull it off again? Course she could!!!

The story is all about Steph, a pregnant mother and wife living the dream in suburbia. She seems to have it all. Events start to conspire against her, in a drip drip kind of way. Her husband was unfaithful to her. They are back together, but constrained by suspicion and doubt. Things happen, like dead flowers left on doorsteps and Steph’s mobile going missing. Is this a signal of Steph’s mental health declining? Or is someone out to get her? Who can she trust?

Oh my word! This is one rather fun (in an evil way) and increasingly disturbing read. Lisa Hall gives us a very convincing and unsettling scenario. A woman has her life turned upside down and inside out. Things go from bad to worse and no one believes her. I was literally tearing my hair out willing Steph to take a different approach, to trust someone else and to stop being so blind. This book will have you screaming and shouting. Poor, poor Steph!

Turn off the television and get rid of distractions. Read Tell Me No Lies and feel the growing horror of Steph’s life. This is one book worth burying yourself in, as an author plays deliciously with her victim. Fabulous, Lisa Hall. Just fabulous.


Tell Me No Lies is available from 20th October 2016 and is published by Carina

Find out all about the author

Follow Lisa Hall on Twitter:


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The Crucifix Killer – Chris Carter


The Crucifix Killer was published by Simon and Schuster UK on 1 0ctober 2009 and is available to buy here

The first Robert Hunter thriller, from the Sunday Times bestselling author of One by One and An Evil Mind

When the body of a young woman is discovered in a derelict cottage in the middle of Los Angeles National Forest, Homicide Detective Robert Hunter finds himself entering a horrific and recurring nightmare. Naked, strung from two wooden posts, the victim was sadistically tortured before meeting an excruciatingly painful death. All the skin has been ripped from her face – while she was still alive. On the nape of her neck has been carved a strange double-cross: the signature of a psychopath known as the Crucifix Killer.

But that’s impossible. Because two years ago, the Crucifix Killer was caught and executed. Could this therefore be a copycat killer? Or could the unthinkable be true? Is the real killer still out there, ready to embark once again on a vicious and violent killing spree, selecting his victims seemingly at random, taunting Robert Hunter with his inability to catch him?

Hunter and his rookie partner are about to enter a nightmare beyond imagining.

My reviews of books 7 and 8 in the series: I am Death and An Evil Mind

My thoughts

I have read Chris Carter’s books in the wrong order. This is something I would really rather not do. However Chris Carter is a genius, in terms of the horror he creates and the way he builds up humanity with the poor murder victims. I had no choice. I started with An Evil Mind and I am Death. I am now back to beginning to the very first story, The Crucifix Killer.

This is very much a debut novel. We are introduced to the great Robert Hunter and his methods. Hunter is an expert in psychology, who is working within the police and tackling the really horrific crimes on his patch. He was a child genius. You know the sort; a real clever clogs, with letters to his name. He is a nice chap though. He is joined by a new sidekick, Garcia. A man has been executed via the death penalty and it looks like they got the wrong culprit. Identical macabre crimes are being committed once again. The Crucifix Killer has returned. Will Hunter get to the truth this time?

Although I guessed the identity of the killer fairly easily, I loved it. I do read A LOT of crime, which makes me a Miss Marple in the making. I am very easily suspicious of characters who behave in ‘certain’ ways. I am being deliberately cryptic here. I don’t want to give the game away. The gore level is high, brutal and sickening. At one point, my stomach was in my mouth. Chris Carter does that so well. I could picture it all. Sometimes my imagination needs to be less graphic.

This is great, really GREAT! Well worth a read, if you haven’t encountered Chris Carter yet.

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Portraits of the Dead – John Nicholl


Portraits of the Dead can be bought now from Amazon here

The greater the evil, the more deadly the game…

When Emma awakens in total darkness, she is aware of her nakedness. Injuries. A bed not her own. A blindingly bright light suddenly pierces the blackness and a disembodied male voice calls her “Venus”. Venus – the goddess of love, beauty, sex and desire. He says she is “Venus Six”. What does this predator want from her? Can she outwit the masked man who demands to be called “Master”? Or will he be looking for Venus Seven?

Detective Inspector Gravel finds himself floundering when a local nineteen-year-old university student is abducted and imprisoned by a sadistic serial killer who has already tortured and killed at least five young women.

Previous books by John Nicholl reviewed: White is the Coldest Colour and When Evil Calls Your Name

Thanks to John Nicholl for my review copy of Portraits of the Dead.

My thoughts

I’ve been looking forward to getting my hands on the latest novel by John Nicholls. Following on from the successful and impressive White is the Coldest Colour and When Evil Calls Your Name, there is Portraits of the Dead. For those of us partial to a bit of graphic serial killer drama, look no further.

Someone has been getting away with murder. The police start to uncover the truth about a serial killer in their midst. Five women have been at the mercy of evil, selected and tortured by a psychopath. Can Detective Inspector Gravel track him down? The killer has taken a young university student captive. She is locked in a sound proofed room, awaiting her fate. Emma gradually adjusts to her surroundings and to the evil ‘Master’ controlling her life. Can Emma outwit him or will she be the next victim? Will Gravel get to the truth in time?

The drama starts off well, with a teenage girl kidnapped from her bed and at the mercy of a psychopath. As the police discover the other victims, we get a real sense of anticipation. What will this monster do? Will Emma run out of time? However it seemed to become less convincing as the drama progressed. In my opinion, it needed a little extra something to give it added darkness and realism. I needed to fear the monster. I needed to feel as sick as I do, when I read Chris Carter’s novels. The interaction between the serial killer and his mother felt contrived. She made me stop believing in the killer. The ending was unexpected, but worked very much for me. I was cheering!

Overall I was disappointed by Portraits of the Dead, after reading John Nicholl’s previous novels. It just missed the spot for me, in terms of believe-ability and horror. I will leave you to judge for yourselves.



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Dancers in the Wind by Anne Coates *Blog Tour Review*


Dancers in the Wind is published by Urbane Publications on 13th October 2016 and is available to buy here

SHE IS HUNTING FOR THE TRUTH, BUT WHO IS HUNTING HER? Freelance journalist and single mother Hannah Weybridge is commissioned by a national newspaper to write an investigative article on the notorious red light district in Kings Cross. There she meets prostitute Princess, and police inspector in the vice squad, Tom Jordan. When Princess later arrives on her doorstep beaten up so badly she is barely recognisable, Hannah has to make some tough decisions and is drawn ever deeper into the world of deceit and violence. Three sex workers are murdered, their deaths covered up in a media blackout, and Hannah herself is under threat. As she comes to realise that the taste for vice reaches into the higher echelons of the great and the good, Hannah realises she must do everything in her power to expose the truth …. and stay alive.

My thoughts

I have a very soft spot for crime dramas set in our recent past. Dancers in the Wind brings the world of 1990s Kings Cross prostitution and corruption to the forefront. I read it over the course of a morning and was totally and utterly gripped!

It is the story of a journalist seeking answers in a corrupt and dangerous environment. Hannah is a freelance journalist, who is pretty desperate for work. She finds herself covering a story featuring Princess, a young working girl in King’s Cross. At the same time, prostitutes in Kings Cross are being murdered. There is a media blackout regarding the deaths. Tom Jordan is the new police inspector in the vice squad, that Hannah connects with and interviews for her story. Jordan is being tough on crime, trying to clean up a seedy area of the city and reduce the level of prostitution. When Princess finds herself in danger, she contacts Hannah again and this sets off a chain of events. Who would want to kill Princess? How far up does the corruption go? Is Tom Jordan to be trusted? Has helping Princess put Hannah in danger?

Anne Coates captures the spirit of the 1990s brilliantly. I was instantly catapulted back there, into the days before we became glued to our mobile phones. The setting is the dark, sad world of street prostitution. If anything I was reminded slightly of Lynda La Plante’s gritty Prime Suspect, set in the same time frame. This is something very alluring about dark subject matter covered this competently. I could believe in it all.

We have two strong protagonists in Hannah and Princess. A woman fighting to survive as a journalist and mother, in a tough world, in Hannah. Princess is the product of neglect and multiple sexual abuse, by those who should have cared for her. We see the contrast between the love and stability Hannah gives her child and the sad desperate upbringing of Princess.

This is the kind of book that can easily be read in one sitting. This does not detract from the seriousness and brutality, at times, of the subject matter. Coates gives us humanity and depth, in the back story of Princess. Princess is by no means a caricature; but a girl who has been through some horrific moments in life and survived. I truly hope that we get to catch up with Hannah again. Recommended.

Dancers in the Wind is available from 13th October 2016 and is published by Urbane Publications.

Find out all about the author

Follow Anne on TWITTER and say hello!


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The Bird Tribunal by Agnes Ravatn – *Blog Tour Review*


The Bird Tribunal was published by Orenda Books on 30 July 2016 and is available here

TV presenter Allis Hagtorn leaves her partner and her job to take voluntary exile in a remote house on an isolated fjord. But her new job as housekeeper and gardener is not all that it seems, and her silent, surly employer, 44-year-old Sigurd Bagge, is not the old man she expected. As they await the return of his wife from her travels, their silent, uneasy encounters develop into a chilling, obsessive relationship, and it becomes clear that atonement for past sins may not be enough.

Haunting, consuming and powerful, The Bird Tribunal is a taut, exquisitely written psychological thriller that builds to a shocking, dramatic crescendo that will leave you breathless

My thoughts

The Bird Tribunal is a claustrophobic two person psychological drama from Norwegian writer, Agnes Ravatn. It has been translated into English.

We get to know Allis and Sigurd. Allis is a woman, who has ran away from a scandal and is content to live in a fairly isolated region of Norway. She is employed as a gardener and housekeeper, in spite of having little in the way of green fingers. Sigurd is her boss, a moody silent man. Over the course of the book, we get a kind of romantic relationship evolving between the two of them. They are both rather odd and not very open. There is a slow anticipation and an overwhelming and inevitable feeling of conflict.

The Bird Tribunal forces you into the very small world of two extremely strange main characters. It is undoubtedly very compelling. Everything happens in one location, the home of Sigurd, with two characters and a heavy and disturbing sense of claustrophobia. These two are extremely bad at communicating and sizzle with uneasy tension at each other, from the outset. While I rather enjoyed the slow everyday location, I found Allis and Sigurd just plain odd and an unlikely romantic couple. Allis was very clingy with Sigurd, desperate for male attention and behaving more like a child than a grown woman. Sigurd had very little in the way of interesting redeeming features, disappearing for hours on end and being grumpy. Why on earth did these two get into a relationship with each other? I couldn’t see that they had much in common at all. They both made assumptions about each other and filled in the gaps, with their longings. They are one catastrophe waiting to happen.

This is one strange and unsettling novel. I do like a bit of Scandinavian Noir crime. Ravatn mixes horror with the mundane beautifully, with two of the strangest characters. One to get your hands on and to puzzle over!

Find out more about the author

The Bird Tribunal is available at Amazon to buy here

Follow the rest of the blog tour …



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