Brothers in Blood -Amer Anwar

Brothers in Blood (Zaq & Jags) by [Anwar, Amer]

Brothers in Blood was published by Dialogue Books on 9 September 2018 and is available to purchase here


Southall, West London. After being released from prison, Zaq Khan is lucky to land a dead-end job at a builders’ yard. All he wants to do is keep his head down and put the past behind him.

But when Zaq is forced to search for his boss’s runaway daughter, he quickly finds himself caught up in a deadly web of deception, murder and revenge.

With time running out and pressure mounting, can he find the missing girl before it’s too late? And if he does, can he keep her – and himself – alive long enough to deal with the people who want them both dead?

My review

Amer Anwar’s Western Fringes won the CWA Debut Dagger Award. It has now been republished as Brothers in Blood. It is easy to see why it won. It is a TERRIFIC read, with a gorgeous Asian flavour. There is something for everyone. It is packed with sparkling comedic touches, insight into a fascinating and vibrant Asian subculture, a few chilling scenes (or maybe chilli scenes) and truly excellent dialogue.

The story is set in Southall, a vibrant Asian community in London. We meet Zaq, a man who has come out of prison and lost everything. He is now working in a dead end job for the formidable Mr Brar. Brar demands that Zaq trace his missing daughter. Rita has run away from home. Zaq finds himself threatened with a long term spell in prison, if he fails to cooperate. Zaq teams up with his best friend, Jags to hunt for the girl. He finds everyone is after him, from Brar’s thuggish sons to some people from his past seeking revenge. Will Zaq find Rita? What is the real story behind the missing girl? Will Zaq manage to go a day without being beaten up?

I LOVED it. If you want something a bit different in contemporary crime, you should check out Brothers in Blood. Zaq is a wonder. He is the sort of man, who uses his wits to survive. He survived in prison by getting fit and learning how to fight. On the mean streets of Southall, he learns to duck and dive. He is funny, at the same time. We get masses of comedy from Zaq and Jags, as they join forces to seek out Rita. They are your Asian Men Behaving Badly or Inbetweeners. Hilarious banter. I really felt for Zaq. He is a walking mass of bruises and aches. He goes from being beaten up by one set of muscleheads, to finding a few more fists are just around the corner. Everyone recognises him by the deteriorating state of his face. I had sympathy pains for him. Luckily his friends rally around him and make him a cuppa!

This is bold. This is original. This is fresh. It is one of those books that shows you how the Asian community functions, with the divisions resulting from religious beliefs and the issue of honour. It is clever. This is one thriller rooted in realism. I was blown away by Brothers in Blood. Highly recommended!

  • Please note that Western Fringes has now been published as Brothers in Blood


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Time’s Convert – Deborah Harkness

Time's Convert by [Harkness, Deborah]

Time’s Convert was published by Headline on 18 September 2018 and is available to purchase here

From the Sunday Times Number One bestselling author of A Discovery of Witches, now a major Sky original production, a novel about what it takes to become a vampire.

From human to vampire …

Marcus Whitmore was made a vampire in the eighteenth century. Over two hundred years later, he finds himself in love with Phoebe Taylor, a human who decides to become a vampire herself.

But her transformation will prove as challenging now as it was for Marcus when he first encountered Matthew de Clermont, his sire.

While Phoebe is secreted away, Marcus relives his own journey from the battlefields of the American Revolutionary War, through the treachery of the French Revolution to a bloody finale in New Orleans. His belief in liberty, equality and brotherhood challenged at every stage by the patriarchy of the de Clermonts.

What will he and Phoebe discover in one another when they are finally reunited at Les Revenants, beneath the watchful gaze of Matthew and his wife, Diana Bishop?

Sunday Times Number One bestselling author Deborah Harkness returns to the spellbinding world she created in A Discovery of Witches and, through the prism of an unconventional love story, explores the power of tradition and the endless possibilities for change.

My thoughts

For anyone that little bit obsessed with A Discovery of Witches, Time’s Convert is an essential read. I include myself in that. I love the weaving of fantasy and history. I wanted that little bit more of Diana, Matthew and the world of Deborah Harkness. Pure magical escapism.

Time’s Convert has a very different emphasis to the Discovery of Witches trilogy.  Whether you appreciate it or not, will depend on how you much you like Marcus and the domestic life of the Clermont-Bishops. We see Matthew Clermont and Diana Bishop again, together with their growing family. Matthew and Diana are raising children, who have a peculiar mix of talents.

This is very much a standalone about Matthew’s son that he sired, Marcus. Siring for the uninitiated simply means that Matthew made Marcus into a vampire. Marcus is now in relationship with a human Phoebe. Phoebe wants to become a vampire, to share her eternity with Marcus. We follow this transformation and the weird rules to ensure this goes according to plan. Who would have thought vampires would be subject to so many rules and regulations? We find out about Marcus and his past, from his troubled home life to the battlefield experiences that shaped him. I was most interested in Marcus and the way he ducked and dived to survive the American Revolutionary War. He is a vampire, with a social conscience. His encounters with Matthew were enlightening.

This was a welcome little addition to the All Souls Trilogy. As I have only just read them, I felt it followed on very nicely. Personally, I was more interested in the historical aspects of the story than the domestic bliss of Diana and Matthew. Obviously you would be stupid to go into this blindly, without having read the original trilogy. You would be totally befuddled.




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Fatal Harmony (Alice Quentin Book 6) – Kate Rhodes


Fatal Harmony was published on 30 September 2018 by Amazon Media and is available to purchase here

Forensic psychologist Alice Quentin is facing her toughest challenge yet. An escapee from a high security psychiatric unit is murdering victims at famous locations in West London, but the only clues he leaves behind are the melodies composed at the addresses where his victims are slaughtered. Alice must enter the mind of a twisted musical prodigy to end his killing spree.

Also by the same author 

River of Souls

Ruin Beach

My thoughts

It is such a relief to have a new Alice Quentin story. I was worried that Alice had been very much forgotten, since Kate Rhodes started her Scilly Isles based Ben Kitto series. I absolutely recommend both series to anyone who is not familiar with the work of Kate Rhodes. Alice Quentin is a wonderful and strong character. Fatal Harmony is the sixth story featuring forensic psychologist, Alice Quentin.

Alice is up against a complex narcissistic sociopathic mind. Our killer has a strange obsession with music. He has a desire for recognition. He is a cunning master of disguise. He escapes from a high security hospital, with murder in mind. Alice may be in danger. Will Alice and Burns solve his bizarre clues and find this almost invisible killer?

As usual, Kate Rhodes gives us a thrill packed and heart-thumping drama. We get more of our clever Alice. A weird and strangely alluring musical killer. We have the on-going bumpy relationship between Alice and Burns, as they are forced to work together again. Burns is leading the hunt for the killer. We see some lighter moments of relief, with Alice and her best female friend. All in all, this is excellent and impossible to put down. I even felt sorry for our killer. I think I must have fallen under his spell.

One little thing. To the author. My kindle unlimited copy had a few spelling errors. I counted four. I probably missed a few in my speed reading. Please do something about them, as a matter of urgency. It is so distracting.

Fabulous. The best. More Alice, please! I am putting in my order for Alice Quentin book 7. I am also chomping at the bit for Ben Kitto. Kate Rhodes is definitely one of the best crime writers out there.



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The Taking of Annie Thorne – C. J. Tudor

The Taking of Annie Thorne by [Tudor, C. J.]

The Taking of Annie Thorne will be published by Penguin on 21 February 2019 and is available to purchase here

The new spine-tingling, sinister thriller from the Sunday Times bestselling author of The Chalk Man . . .

‘Some writers have it, and some don’t. C. J. Tudor has it big time – The Taking of Annie Thorne is terrific in every way’ Lee Child

One night, Annie went missing. Disappeared from her own bed. There were searches, appeals. Everyone thought the worst. And then, miraculously, after forty-eight hours, she came back. But she couldn’t, or wouldn’t, say what had happened to her.

Something happened to my sister. I can’t explain what. I just know that when she came back, she wasn’t the same. She wasn’t my Annie.

I didn’t want to admit, even to myself, that sometimes I was scared to death of my own little sister.

My review of the fabulous debut by C. J. Tudor

The Chalk Man



My thoughts

C. J. Tudor rocked the world with her fabulous debut. I simply adored The Chalk Man and haven’t stopped blathering on about it since. I was hugely nervous about reading the follow up, The Taking of Annie Thorne. However Tudor is no one hit wonder. She sizzles with creativity, quirky attention to detail and some good solid characters. The Taking of Annie Thorne is an entertaining story of a down-at-heel teacher. Of course, we get the borderline horror and chills, that is part of the Tudor magic.

The Taking of Annie Thorne is really all about Joe. Annie Thorne is his little sister. Joe is not your normal average teacher. He is in debt. He has scary loan sharks after him. He has a dubious sense of morality. He will bend the rules, if necessary. He returns to his home town of Arnhill, to an English teaching post at the local under-performing comprehensive. Poor bloke. Joe cannot escape the past, being a part of a gang of school mates, the death of his little sister and rather eerie reminders of things best forgotten. Joe’s life in Arnhill slowly descends into chaos.

Just as with The Chalk Man, Tudor gets the sense of time and place to perfection. She captures the vibrancy of the early nineties and the unlikely gang of weird teenage friends. She makes us want to be there. Arnhill is your typical small town, which we can all relate to. The place we all need to escape from, to grow up. The place we never want to come back to. Into this, Joe is an anti-hero. A man who never grew up. A man who attracts trouble. Anyone remember the TV series Teachers? This very much reminded me of Joe and his interesting attitude to his job. He really doesn’t care. He does the very minimum. Love it!

With The Taking of Annie Thorne, we get echoes of The Hole (2001), the movie with Keira Knightley and Teachers (2001-2004 TV series). Very recognisable, as inspiring this book. The author has very good taste, in popular culture.

Another sure-fire winner from the awesome imagination of C. J. Tudor. The world of Joe Thorne is my kind of place. I really am longing to see her books on television. Why has this not happened yet? Recommended.

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Update …

Hi readers

I thought I would check in with you all. I’ve not updated my blog, for quite some time. I really miss the days, where I was able to read voraciously. Most of my focus these days is on getting to work and keeping going.

Without giving too much personal information away, I was diagnosed with a chronic illness back in August 2018. I have felt the symptoms of it for years and not realised what my body was telling me. One of the worst symptoms has been fatigue. There are days, where I cannot get out of bed. There are days, when I have no concentration. Fortunately, I am on medication now for life. In the long term, my energy levels should improve.

There are so many books by my favourite authors, that I haven’t looked at since my health declined. I hope to get to them, when I feel well enough. This includes the latest Nicci French and Karen Slaughter. Heart-breaking.

My passion for reading is coming back slowly. It started with this little trilogy. I noticed that A Discovery of Witches was being dramatised on televison. I decided to check out the books, to kickstart my reading. By the way, the series on TV is incredibly well done.


A Discovery of Witches by Deborah Harkness

I finished reading the story of Diana and Matthew last week. I will miss time travelling witches and brooding vampires.

The series is worth checking out; if you like a dash of magic, with a dashing vampire and a striking historical setting in Shadow of Night. The second story in the trilogy was definitely the strongest and most exciting. Harkness’s re-imagining of Elizabethan England is superb. I would even be tempted to visit, in spite of their lack of electric showers and duvets. The books suffer from too much of a Twilight influence. The pace of the books often is a little slow, with too much time being given to inner anguish and over-description and not enough to forwarding the plot. I warn you. I had fun with them though. It was all lovely magical escapism for these dark autumn nights. I only wanted to punch Matthew, our heroic vampire, in the nose a few times. The trilogy concludes with The Book of Life. We finally get to the heart of the mysterious Ashmole 782.

***For information***

Deborah Harkness’s website

To buy A Discovery of Witches by Deborah Harkness


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Open Your Eyes – Paula Daly


Open Your Eyes is published on 26 July 2018 by Transworld Digital and is available to purchase here

Haven’t we all wanted to pretend everything is fine?

Jane doesn’t like confrontation. Given the choice, she’d prefer to focus on what’s going well, the good things in life.

But when her husband, Leon, is brutally attacked in the driveway of their home, in front of their two young children, Jane has to face reality. As he lies in a coma, Jane must open her eyes to the problems in her life, and the secrets that have been kept from her, if she’s to find out who hurt her husband – and why.

Maybe it’s time to face up to it all. Who knows what you might find . . .

My thoughts

Paula Daly returns with a brand new domestic noir thriller Open Your Eyes. With Daly, you always know you are about to get something a cut above the rest.

We meet crime writer, Leon Campbell and his wife, Jane, a creative writing teacher. Leon is assaulted and left with a brain injury. He becomes a different person. Jane is left to pick up the pieces of their fragmented life. She has to grow up and take charge. We see how emotional and challenging it is for her to cope with a new Leon. Leon had a few secrets. Jane starts to uncover the truth.

This time, Daly turns her critical eye to the world of writers and publishing. In some ways, this feels like an expose on the chronic insecurity of writers. We see what writers will do to get to the exposure and to get that book out there. We see the bitchiness. We see the furtive underhand side. Not what you would expect, maybe. At the same time, we glimpse the determination and grit of the wannabe author. All very enlightening.

Open Your Eyes was massively entertaining, as expected. Daly’s books always ooze intelligence and insight. I really loved the rather unique and unexpected ending. This is a twisted mystery, well worth checking out.









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A Killing Mind – Luke Delaney (DI Sean Corrigan #5)


A Killing Mind was published on 17 May 2018 by Harper Collins and is available to buy here

The fifth novel in the DI Sean Corrigan series – authentic and terrifying crime fiction with a psychological edge, by an ex-Met detective. Perfect for fans of Mark Billingham, Peter James and Stuart MacBride.

A serial killer stalks the streets…
In the darkest corners of London, a killer is on the hunt. His murders are brutal. Teeth pulled out. Nails pulled out. Bodies abandoned.

A detective follows his every move… 
DI Sean Corrigan of the Special Investigations Unit desperately tries to use his ability to understand the minds of killers before another victim is ruthlessly murdered.

A clash of dangerous minds… 
Corrigan is all too willing to take deadly risks to track down his quarry, but this time the killer has set a trap, just for him. Will Corrigan stop the murderer in time, or is he about to become a victim himself?

My thoughts

Corrigan is back! Hooray! I have been dying to get back into the dark and brutal world of DI Sean Corrigan. A Killing Mind takes us to the fifth instalment, in this rather brilliant series.

A Killing Mind can be read as a standalone. Some of the action does rely on prior knowledge. The author does a great job in making it all very accessible to new readers.

For those of you who have not met DI Sean Corrigan, here is a little re-cap. Corrigan is special. He was abused as a child. As a result of this terrible past, Corrigan can empathize with psychopaths and killers. More than that, he instinctively knows their motivations and their evil minds. He can read crime scenes, from the perspective of the killer. This gives him an edge, in solving crimes. He reminds me of a British Will Graham, from the Hannibal TV series. Corrigan keeps this little secret to himself.

A Killing Mind pits Corrigan against a new psychopath. We meet him, at the start of the book. We hear his disturbing thought processes. This killer wants to make a name for himself. He wants the world to fear him. It all starts with the death of a vulnerable homeless man. Corrigan and his Special Investigations team are given this case. Dr Anna Ravenni-Ceron is brought back as a profiling consultant. This killer takes pleasure in the ritual of  murder and in extracting souvenirs. He removes teeth and fingernails from his victims. At the same time, a journalist is visiting Broadmoor to interview the infamous killer, Sebastian Gibran.

I absolutely adore Corrigan. He is one of those characters, that has masses of potential. I would like Luke Delaney to unsettle him further. To take away the comfort and support of his family. To make him really suffer. As we see in A Killing Mind, Corrigan is prepared to take crazy risks to hunt his prey. I can see this being his downfall. As soon as he meets our psychopath, he knows it is him.

A Killing Mind was gripping and tense. It shines with authenticity and maturity. We really understand our killer and what makes him tick. This series just goes from strength to strength.





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The Old Religion – Martyn Waites


The Old Religion was published on 14 June 2018 by Zaffre and is available to buy here

He was running from his past.
She was running from her future.
Sometimes helping a stranger is the last thing you should do . . .

The Cornish village of St Petroc is the sort of place where people come to hide. Tom Killgannon is one such person. An ex-undercover cop, Tom is in the Witness Protection Programme hiding from some very violent people and St Petroc’s offers him a chance to live a safe and quiet life.

Until he meets Lila. 

Lila is a seventeen-year-old runaway. When she breaks into Tom’s house she takes more than just his money. His wallet holds everything about his new identity. He also knows that Lila is in danger from the travellers’ commune she’s been living at. Something sinister has been going on there and Lila knows more than she realises.

But to find her he risks not only giving away his location to the gangs he’s in hiding from, but also becoming a target for whoever is hunting Lila.

Also by the same author (as Tania Carver)

Heartbreaker – Tania Carver

The Lost Girl – Tania Carver

My thoughts

When Martyn Waites was writing as Tania Carver, he was easily one of my favourite authors. I dived into The Old Religion with high expectations and trust in the author.

The story introduces a newcomer to St Petroc in the West Country. It is a place that is slowly dying, with shops closing and zero investment. Typical rural England on its last legs. Tom Killgannon is now based there, under witness protection. Poor bloke. He has a job in the local pub. He is the typical outsider, in a community of eccentrics set in their ways and drowning in village tradition. Two major events occur. A student disappears from the locality. Then Tom finds a desperate runaway teenage girl Lila, in his home. She steals his coat, which had all of his new ID information in the pocket. Silly place for him to keep important stuff. He is soon trying to track Lila down, looking for clues in the cult like commune, she lives in. He draws attention to himself. Not good. He mentions Noah, Kai and something called ‘the Morrigan’. This leads to Tom being very much ostracized from the local community. Things gets weird and weirder still, in a sort of Wicker Man (1973) kind of way.

Martyn Waites can write crime to perfection. It is really strange. The Old Religion felt like an old grainy horror movie, with an odd present day Brexit setting. Imagine a retelling of The Wicker Man (1973), with a touch of The Daemons (Doctor Who 1971) and a sprinkle of Nigel Farage. Yep, see what I mean. I was shaking my head. I was struggling with the believability factor. It was a mass of horror cliches. Same old story that has been told a million times before, with a modern day setting. The whole village is under a malevolent entity, like in a 1973 Doctor Who episode. Cue ominous music. Cue villagers waving pitchforks. The Morrigan was the baddie of the piece. He lacked something. The villagers were your typical ‘living in a horror movie’ villagers. Amusing though. I laughed.

Shame Martyn Waites doesn’t quite pull it all off. It seemed like a pastiche, lacking originality. The premise has been done to death. We have seen it all before, in popular culture. Paganism. Outsiders versus insiders. Odd suspicious villagers. Cults. Occult symbolism. I suppose it works as a kind of Little Britain/horror movie tribute. It just has low impact as a thriller.

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In Bloom – C. J. Skuse (Sweetpea #2)


In Bloom is published on 9 August 2018 by HQ and is available to buy here

Darkly comic crime sequel to Sweetpea, following girl-next-door serial killer Rhiannon as she’s now caught between the urge to kill and her unborn baby stopping her.

If only they knew the real truth. It should be my face on those front pages. My headlines. I did those things, not him. I just want to stand on that doorstep and scream it: IT WAS ME. ME. ME. ME. ME!

Rhiannon Lewis has successfully fooled the world and framed her cheating fiancé Craig for the depraved and bloody killing spree she committed. She should be ecstatic that she’s free.

Except for one small problem. She’s pregnant with her ex lover’s child. The ex-lover she only recently chopped up and buried in her in-laws garden. And as much as Rhiannon wants to continue making her way through her kill lists, a small voice inside is trying to make her stop.

But can a killer’s urges ever really be curbed?

My glowing review of Sweetpea

Sweetpea – book 1


My thoughts

In Bloom should be available on the NHS. Laughter medicine. It is dark and comic. Wildly wicked and clever. It will make you scream with laughter.

C J Skuse gave us the best ever adventure of a female serial killer in Sweetpea. We were introduced to Rhiannon an unforgettable young woman, with a few dark secrets up her sleeve. We are so lucky to have a sequel, that unexpectedly is even better than the original. Sweetpea was wonderful and perfect. In Bloom is that little bit more wonderful.

Rhiannon is a serial killer. She aces murder, like she has a GCSE in it. She only kills people who deserve it. She has morals, of a sort. The really evil ones in society are her prey. She has managed to get away with it so far. The story follows directly on from Sweetpea. Now life has become complicated for our anti-hero. Rhiannon is expecting her ex’s baby. She has a fresh dead body to dispose of. One police officer is progressively very interested in her. She is facing up horrible hormone explosions, the awful mummy brigade, getting fatter and a baby foetus with attitude. Can Rhiannon continue to escape justice? Can she still kill, with a gobby baby inside her? Can she stop writing lists of people she wants to murder? Mm mmm, you really want to find out.

C J Skuse is a genius. Sweetpea and In Bloom are two of the funniest books I have ever read. Skuse hits the right comic notes, with dark disturbing accuracy time and time again. Rhiannon is a dream of a character. The plot was incredible. A serial killer who tries to reform, with some success. I love Rhiannon so much. Probably wouldn’t want to meet her on a dark night. Or befriend her on one of her Christian road trips. Nope I would stay well clear of our lovely serial killer.

My advice (in the style of Rhiannon’s kill lists)

  1. Read In Bloom. If you haven’t read Sweetpea, get hold of a copy as soon as you can. You don’t want to miss this series. Hint to the author – more Rhiannon please.
  2. Forget walking the dog, eating, working or all the other boring stuff you do.  Reading is more important. Start it now. No excuses.
  3. Laugh. Laugh some more. Try not to make too many people stare at you, by snorting with laughter.
  4. Start making your own kill list (or maybe not…)

Highly recommended








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Ruin Beach – Kate Rhodes (Ben Kitto #2)


Ruin Beach was published on 14 June 2018 by Simon and Schuster and is available to buy here

DI Ben Kitto is missing the excitement of his old job in the Murder Squad, as the lazy Scilly Island summer begins. But when the body of professional diver Jude Trellon is found in Piper’s Hole, a sea cave on the island of Tresco, his investigative skills are needed again.

At first it seems that the young mother’s death was a tragic accident, but it soon emerges that Jude was choked to death. Her mysterious Swedish boyfriend Ivar Larsen seems terrified for her daughter’s safety, but refuses to talk. The islanders are guarded too – it seems plenty of people on the island had reason to harm her.

The island of Tresco, and the deep and murky waters that surround it, hold a dark secret. One that someone seems prepared to murder to keep hidden.

Also by Kate Rhodes

Hell Bay

My thoughts

Author and poet, Kate Rhodes is one of my favourite writers. I always know that I am going to be in for a spectacular and beautiful journey. I loved her Alice Quentin series. I now am absolutely hooked on Ben Kitto and his life on a British small island. I had to read Ruin Beach, as soon as I could get my hands on it. Ruin Beach is the sequel to the marvellous Hell Bay. Great titles.

We first met Ben Kitto in Hell Bay. Ben was returning to the Scilly Isles, for a break. He was shaken by the death of his partner. He was burnt out. He embraced island life and hunted a killer. Ben returns in Ruin Beach. He has settled on Bryer with his pet dog and is a vital part of the community. He is the Deputy Commander of the Isles of Scilly Police. A body is found by Piper’s Hole. A feisty female professional diver has been murdered. Everyone on the island is a suspect. Why would anyone want to kill Jude Trellon? What secrets did Jude take to her grave?

Kate Rhodes strength is her characterisation and sense of place. We all feel like we understand Ben Kitto or at least are making more sense of him. Like Ann Cleeves has done with the Shetland series and Jimmy Perez, Kate Rhodes has brought the Isles of Scilly to life. I still would not be able to point to them on a map. Life can be rather complicated living life on an island. It isn’t idyllic. Islanders have to live with each other. They have to live with their resentments. They have to cope with no privacy. They cannot escape, easily.

Kate Rhodes’ lead man, Ben Kitto, is a dedicated police officer. We see his growing attraction to long term pal Zoe, the singer. We see his cute love for his dog. We see how he interacts with the islanders. He understands them. He is one of them. We know he is healing from the past. We know Kitto will find the killer, from amongst his friends and neighbours. Island life means the killer is somewhere hiding, in plain sight. We suspect everyone. Soon things are getting tougher for Kitto. Someone close to the murder victim goes missing. All it takes is one person on the island to reveal something important. Kitto is on alert.

Ruin Beach was really excellent. Murder. Small town life. Suspicion. Lovely Ben Kitto. Read all of Kate Rhodes’ books. You seriously cannot go wrong.







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