Perfect Death by Helen Fields #blogtour #exclusive extract


I am really chuffed to be part of the #PerfectDeath blog tour. This is such a top crime series, that I have completely fallen in love with. This is seriously dark, gorgeously addictive crime. I am lucky to have a fabulous exclusive extract from Perfect Death, which will have you hitting the buy button on Amazon.

Check out my recent glowing review of Perfect Death >>> Perfect Death – Helen Fields (@Helen_Fields @AvonBooksUK)

Perfect Death is published on 25 January 2018 by Avon and is available to buy here


What’s Perfect Death all about?

There’s no easy way to die…

Unknown to DI Luc Callanach and the newly promoted DCI Ava Turner, a serial killer has Edinburgh firmly in his grip. The killer is taking his victims in the coldest, most calculating way possible – engineering slow and painful deaths by poison, with his victims entirely unaware of the drugs flooding their bloodstream until it’s too late.

But how do you catch a killer who hides in the shadows? A killer whose pleasure comes from watching pain from afar? Faced with their most difficult case yet, Callanach and Turner soon realise they face a seemingly impossible task…

**** Exclusive Extract****

Extract Fifteen: Chapter 17, pp.118-119

With the fire between them, he’d played at arranging a circle of rocks to keep the flames within, watching Lily do as he’d instructed. Her fingers had grown clumsy by then, he remembered, her actions slowing with each passing minute, but she had been admirably unafraid. Lily had become a woman in that moment. It would have been an exquisite maturation had she not faltered at the last. Her lingerie – white with cornflowers scattered decoratively about – remained on.

‘Those too,’ he’d said.

‘I thought you’d do that,’ she’d replied, a shiver claiming her as she spoke. He’d moved around the fire, taking a knee at her side and pulling at her knickers with his still-gloved hands, knowing he couldn’t afford to transfer treacherous DNA to her skin.

‘Won’t you take your gloves off?’ she’d asked. That was the first moment he recalled feeling frustrated with her. He wasn’t proud of it, but he’d imagined it all happening a certain way, the atmosphere charged with nothing but the mournful onset of grief. It was supposed to have been beautiful.

He’d instructed her, firmly, making clear that the time for idle flirtation was over, to take off her underwear and stay where she was.

‘This isn’t how I’d imagined it,’ she’d said. ‘I feel strange. Something’s not right. I need to go . . . dizzy, not good.’

To his amazement, Lily had stood up. He’d thought her wellbeyond the point where she would be able to stand unaided but that was the Lily he’d spent months coming to respect. She’d wavered left, then right, hands out like a blindfolded child playing a party game, seeking an object to hold for balance. Guiding her back towards the sleeping bag in spite of her increasingly loud and annoying protests, he had briskly removed her underwear before lowering her to the floor. Her hands had fluttered uselessly, swatting him with feeble resignation as he held her down on the ground. The cold had been seeping into her by then, but still he’d needed to hold her until she could no longer fight the urge to drowse. Wrapping the sleeping bag around her body, arms and all, he’d held her still with his weight as she’d tried – and failed – to escape. It had been like wrestling a feather. When at last the cannabis oil did its job, Lily had moaned a little as she fell asleep, tears rolling golden reflections of firelight down her cheeks. He hadn’t touched them. They were too beautiful to destroy.

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The Kremlin’s Candidate – Jason Matthews (Red Sparrow Trilogy 3)


The Kremlin’s Candidate is published by Penguin on 8 March 2018 and is available to buy here

Urgent, topical and shot through with insider knowledge, the final thriller in the Red Sparrow trilogy is writing on a grand scale.

Russian counterintelligence chief Colonel Dominika Egorova has been an asset of the CIA for over seven years. She has also been in a forbidden and tumultuous love affair with her handler Nate Nash, mortally dangerous for them both, but irresistible.

In Washington, a newly installed administration is selecting its cabinet members. Dominika hears whispers of a Russian operation to place a mole in a high intelligence position. If the candidate is confirmed, the Kremlin will have access to the identities of CIA assets in Moscow, including Dominika.

Dominika recklessly immerses herself in the palace intrigues of the Kremlin, searching for the mole’s identity and stealing secrets before her time runs out.

With a plot ripped from tomorrow’s headlines, The Kremlin’s Candidate is a riveting read and a thrilling conclusion to the trilogy than began with Red Sparrow and Palace of Treason.

The RED SPARROW trilogy

The Red Sparrow – Jason Matthews (Red Sparrow Trilogy 1)

The Palace of Treason – Jason Matthews (Red Sparrow 2)


My thoughts

The Kremlin’s Candidate concludes the fabulous Red Sparrow spy trilogy. I have spent the last week in the company of Nate and Dominika, slowly falling in love with this complex and global tale of espionage. Red Sparrow and Palace of Treason must be read before The Kremlin’s Candidate. They all follow on beautifully from each other and establish a base of characters in the Russian intelligence service and the American CIA.

I must admit that I feel sad to leave Nate and Dominika. I started The Kremlin’s Candidate with a sense of terrible anticipation. If anything, we learning that the spying game has deadly consequences. We know that spies have a limited shelf life. We know that the chances of death in service, as a spy, are high. I had a feeling that our heroic pair would be in for one final emotional and bumpy ride. I was right.

To recap, we first met Dominika back in The Red Sparrow. Dominika is the star of the trilogy. She is the strongest character and a total kick ass woman. She will kill and seduce. She has risen from ballerina to rising star in the Kremlin, with the eyes of President Putin upon her. She was sent to Sparrow School by her uncle, to learn the dark art of seduction. Sparrow School is the key to Dominika’s recruitment as a CIA asset, a double agent. Dominika was sent to seduce a young CIA agent, Nate. This did not go to plan. They fell into bed and in love. Dominika became one of the most important CIA assets, as she was promoted within the SRA. Over the years, Nate and Dominika have shared valuable information and met, on an irregular basis, renewing their love affair.

The story starts with the recruitment of a SRA asset with the involvement of Dominika, as a young sexually alluring Sparrow. This all happened many years ago. The effects are felt in the present day. The CIA head is murdered. Will the Russians get their way and get their mole into a position of great power? Failure will lead to CIA assets, like Dominika, being uncovered and destroyed. At the same time, Dominika is getting closer to Putin and his circle of power. This is dangerous. Putin has seen all of her Sparrow videos and wants to control her sexually. Nate finds himself in the Chinese Hong Kong, recruiting a new asset and trying to stay out of trouble. Events quickly conspire against Nate and Dominika. I really cannot say any more about the story and how it progresses. Be prepared for anything. Trust no one. This is not happily ever after land.

One of the funniest aspects of The Kremlin’s Candidate is the depiction of Putin. Putin feels very real as man desperate to hold onto power. I found it hilarious, when we were given the big Sparrow seduction scene. Shame there was no mention of a tiny penis or performance issues. They were expected. Matthews should send Putin a signed copy of his book. I am sure it would be appreciated.

I loved The Kremlin’s Candidate. It is modern. It is entertaining. It thrills. It raises the heart beat. I wept. I wanted more. Fans of espionage drama, you will not be disappointed.

Highly recommended.




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The Palace of Treason – Jason Matthews (Red Sparrow Trilogy 2)


The Palace of Treason was published on 21 April 2016 by Penguin and is available to buy here

From the best-selling, Edgar Award-winning author of the “terrifically good” (The New York Times) Red Sparrow, a compulsively readable new novel about star-crossed Russian agent Dominika Egorova and CIA’s Nate Nash. ‘Enthralling. That Matthews, who served in the C.I.A. for 33 years, knows the world of espionage and its darkest corners is never in doubt. Palace of Treason shimmers with authenticity’ New York Times ***

Captain Dominika Egorova of the Russian Intelligence Service has returned from the West to Moscow. She despises the men she serves, the oligarchs, and crooks, and thugs of Putin’s Russia. What no one knows is that Dominika is working for the CIA as Washington’s most sensitive penetration of the Kremlin. As she expertly dodges exposure, Dominika deals with a murderously psychotic boss; faces assassination attempt and counter-intelligence ambushes, and must rescue a compromised agent and somehow spirit him out of Russia from under the noses of her pursuers.

Complicating it all is Dominika’s relationship with her CIA handler, Nate Nash. And when a mole in Moscow finds her name on a classified list of sources, it is a virtual death sentence … With the brilliant Palace of Treason, CIA veteran Jason Matthews confirms his position as the most exciting spy writer alive. This is as good as it gets.

Also reviewed

The Red Sparrow – Jason Matthews (Red Sparrow Trilogy 1)

My thoughts

Without a doubt, the Red Sparrow Trilogy is one of the most exciting set of spy thrillers I have ever read. I happily finished The Red Sparrow and moved onto Palace of Treason, to see where the action takes us next. I do not think Palace of Treason can be read as a standalone. The beauty of these books is the growth in the writing and the character development. The books transition easily from one to the next.

For those of you not in the know, the Red Sparrow Trilogy follows CIA asset, Dominika Egorova. Red Sparrow introduced Dominika, a tough and perceptive young woman. Former ballerina, Dominika was left demoralised and angry, after her enforced recruitment to Sparrow School – Whore School – by her uncle. Dominika learned the craft of sexual entrapment. She also has the amazing gift of being able to read people by colours, as she senses their moods. In Red Sparrow, Dominika was recruited by Nate to become a secret weapon of the CIA, a double agent. Nate and Dominika break the unspoken agreement between recruiter and asset and fall in love. Danger is always one step away.

In Palace of Treason, we really see Dominika and Nate flourish and develop as characters. Our attachment to them both grows. We can see they are in an impossible situation, balancing tricky and dangerous roles with their strong emotions for each other. They do not know if the other is still alive or when they will meet next.

Dominika is now working for the SVR (the new KGB), the Foreign Intelligence Service, in a more senior position. She has recovered from the spy swap drama, which took place a few months ago. She has held her head up high. She knows all eyes are on her, a growing star of The Kremlin, with the attention of the President. She is prepared to use her sexual powers of persuasion, to get her where she wants. Dominika is ordered to entrap and recruit an Iranian scientist with a passion for escorts. This will mean very useful intelligence for her CIA handlers. At the same time, Dominika has to deal with her evil boss who has murder in mind. She has to use all of her cunning to outwit Zyuganov and his dark intentions. Zyuganov is a sociopath, with an enjoyment of torture. A worthy advisory for Dominika.

Nate is back and posted to Athens Station, where the Greek sun shines brightly. Nate Nash had handled the now defunked MARBLE, the top CIA agent in Russia. He recruited DIVA, Dominika, spotting her potential as an unhappy young SVR agent. His relationship with Dominika is a matter of public knowledge in the CIA and a problem for them. A walk in or unknown turns up at the station. Nate uses all of his remarkable talents to recruit this new Russuan source of information, code name LYRIC. Dominika arranges to meet Nate and the CIA gang in Vienna, with all of her new knowledge about the Iranian scientist and his nuclear programme insight.

The twists and turns of Palace of Treason continue, at a pace. We soon get gripped with the complexity of the Iranian nuclear plan, as both Putin and the US play their little games of counter-espionage and damage control. Dominika gets a new handler in Russia, in the form of Hannah Archer. We see how in depth Hannah’s training is, as she gets to know the street and to be aware of her followers. It is all really fascinating, how she learns to avoid surveillance. Plus we see a dissatisfied high ranking CIA worker start to leak secrets to the SVR. Will this lead to the identity of DIVA being revealed?

I adored Palace of Treason. It is brutal at times, with its foray into torture. It is mesmerising. It feels like an education, in spying and in game playing. Anyone who fell in love with Red Sparrow, will doubly fall in love with Palace of Treason. Matthews hits all the right notes and makes them sing beautifully. You will be cheering for Dominika. You will be hoping that Dominika and Nate will find a way to be together. My tiny quibble is that the author missed a trick in not giving the Russians more of a nuanced portrayal. No one believes the Americans are whiter than white, in the same way as the Russians cannot possibly be completely evil and black. Still it is a brilliant read and well worth checking out.

It is dark, exciting and cleverly executed, with the best double agent ever in Dominika.



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The Red Sparrow – Jason Matthews (Red Sparrow Trilogy 1)


The Red Sparrow was published on 16 January 2014 by Simon and Schuster UK and is available to buy here


A Russian honey trap agent targets a young CIA operative to uncover a senior-ranking mole at the heart of the Russian Intelligence service.

Dominika Egorov, former prima ballerina, is sucked into the heart of Putin’s Russia, the country she loved, and spat out as the twists and turns of betrayal and counter-betrayal unravel.

American Nate Nash, idealistic and ambitious, handles the double agent, codenamed MARBLE, considered one of CIA’s biggest assets. He needs to keep his identity secret for as long as the mole can keep supplying golden information.

Will Dominika be able to unmask MARBLE, or will the mission see her faith destroyed in the country she has always passionately defended?

My thoughts

I hardly know where to start with the Red Sparrow Trilogy. I am still in shock. I am totally in awe. This week, I have read all three books and have fallen in love with Dominika and Nate. This is such a powerful and gripping spy trilogy. Soon everyone will recognise the name. The first book has been made into a movie, which will be out in the cinemas in 2018. We get to see the world of espionage, the danger and the excitement, all with a modern day twist. It oozes with authenticity, due to the author’s background in the CIA. In the first book, Red Sparrow, the scene is set, the protagonists introduced and the twisted action begins.

I must admit that I hadn’t reflected much on the Cold War. Like most people, I assumed it was over. Jason Matthews reminds us that there is a new Cold War going on. The terms may have subtly changed, but Russia and its figurehead in Putin are still in business playing the game. It is still all about power play and recruiting assets to uncover what the other side is doing. Technology has made this even more intense. As the books progress, we see the nature of Russia with its extremes in poverty and rich, corrupt government officials together with high profile villains. I am pretty sure these books will be banned in Russia, with their anti Putin stance. At times, this felt like a piece of American propaganda, without the nuances. The author could have worked a little harder to blur the black and white dichotomy. After all, both sides will do anything to get to their goals.

Red Sparrow introduces Dominika and Nate, the CIA asset and her handler. Dominika has the most intriguing background, moving from ballerina to Sparrow to US asset. She is a gutsy brave woman, whose vibrancy and intelligence leap off the page. Dominika was a talented ballerina, who lost her career due to injury. She also has the most peculiar gift of being able to read moods and people by colour. She has synesthesia. She is left without an income and is forced to train as a Sparrow, by her uncle. Sparrows are trained in sexual espionage, to seduce and entrap male and female victims. They ensure assets cannot wriggle out of agreements to spy.

Nate, also known as Nathaniel Nash, works for the CIA. He is down to earth and solid. We first meet him in Russia, where his ability to speak fluent Russian and keep calm in a crisis is put to the test. In Russia, things go terribly wrong for Nash and MARBLE, his VIP asset. Nate ends up working in Helsinki with a stain on his perfect record. This puts Nate in the path of the Sparrow, Dominika. The Russians want to compromise Nate. Dominika and Nate meet, with Dominika trying to weave a Sparrow sexual spell over Nash. Things do not go to plan. The pair find they like each other. Sparks fly. They cannot help themselves. They break the rules. They have sex. They fall in love. And Nate recruits Dominika for the US, code name DIVA.

The rest of the book sees DIVA settle into her role, as the perfect modern spy. We follow the hunt for the mole in Washington and the escalating drama with Marble, the CIA asset in Russia. Double agents are everywhere. There is a fabulous climate of distrust and edgy uncertainty. We see the camaraderie in the CIA camp with Nate, Gable and Forsyth, which is rather sweet. There are plenty of thrilling and heart stopping moments, where we fear for Dominika and Nate. The pace is terrific and the action spot on. I didn’t want it to end. I didn’t even mind the food recipes at the end of each chapter. They made me feel hungry.

Fans of spy thriller should not miss this trilogy. The Red Sparrow is simply the best, combining intrigue with romance! Go and feast yourselves on one superb read.





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The Woman in the Window by AJ Finn – Blog Tour Review @AJFinnBooks @FictionPubTeam #TheWomanintheWindow

The Woman in the Window

Welcome to my review of The Woman in the Window. This is one of the must reads of 2018. There has been so much talk about this book and deservedly so. I predict a massive hit for A. J. Finn all across the world!

The Woman in the Window is published in the UK by Harper Collins on 25 January 2018 and is available to buy here

What is THE WOMAN IN THE WINDOW all about?

What did she see?

It’s been ten long months since Anna Fox last left her home. Ten months during which she has haunted the rooms of her old New York house like a ghost, lost in her memories, too terrified to step outside.

Anna’s lifeline to the real world is her window, where she sits day after day, watching her neighbours. When the Russells move in, Anna is instantly drawn to them. A picture-perfect family of three, they are an echo of the life that was once hers.

But one evening, a frenzied scream rips across the silence, and Anna witnesses something no one was supposed to see. Now she must do everything she can to uncover the truth about what really happened. But even if she does, will anyone believe her? And can she even trust herself?

A bit about the author

A.J. Finn is the pen name of Dan Mallory, vice president and executive editor at William Morrow. Dan has written for numerous publications, including the Los Angeles Times, the Washington Post, and the Times Literary Supplement. A native of New York, he lived in England for ten years before returning to New York City. He is an Oxford graduate, with a life-long love of the thriller noir genre, and a particular appreciation of Hitchcockian cinema.

My review

I first heard about The Woman in the Window in the summer of 2017. I knew I had to read it. I had a feeling it was going to be one of the most talked about of books of 2018. I knew it would be a best seller. I predicted right. We are all talking about this book. When I came to read it, I loved it. The intensity. The claustrophobia. The simplicity. The cool nod to maestro Alfred Hitchcock.

The Woman in the Window is the story of a woman with severe agoraphobia. Anna Fox spends all of her days indoors. She cannot go outside or even cope with a window open, without experiencing debilitating panic attacks. Anna spends her days online counselling fellow sufferers, playing chess and spying on her neighbours. She is also a huge fan of black and white old movies. One day, Anna witnesses a murder from her window. The only problem is that no one believes her. She takes a cocktail of drugs for her medical condition and has been self medicating with alcohol. Anna is considered unreliable and unstable by the police. With no evidence and only gut instinct to go on, Anna sets about proving everybody wrong and trying to solve an impossible murder.

Anna is definitely the star of the show. We find out all about her background and what led her to this locked up life. Her voice is strong. We feel empathy for her. She is a former child psychologist, who suffered a breakdown and is now unable to leave her home. She has a husband and child, that live separately from her. She only has regular face to face contact with a few professionals, who are trying to support her. Her life is very narrow. We completely get a sense of Anna’s feelings of helplessness and self destructive loathing.

One of the highlights of the drama is the perfect pace and the believability of the plot. Slowly we understand Anna and her tortured psyche. It is very frustrating at times seeing Anna self medicate and get lost in drugs, instead of getting herself together and solving the crime. It is all very convincing and plausible. I absolutely adored links to the brilliant Alfred Hitchcock. The author expertly gives us an updated version of Rear Window, the 1954 Hitchcock classic. He quotes from various old movies, as the story progresses. Wonderful. I fully appreciated that. He has done a very fine job.

I loved it. An excellent and intelligent thriller, that will appeal to everyone.


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The Child Finder – Rene Denfield


The Child Finder was published by Weidenfeld and Nicolson on 5 September 2017 and is available to buy here

Naomi Cottle finds missing children. When the police have given up their search and an investigation stalls, families call her. She possesses a rare, intuitive sense, born out of her own experience, that allows her to succeed when others have failed.

Young Madison Culver has been missing for three years. She vanished on a family trip to the mountainous forests of Oregon, where they’d gone to cut down a tree for Christmas. Soon after she disappeared, blizzards swept the region and the authorities presumed she died from exposure.

But Naomi knows that Madison isn’t dead. As she relentlessly pursues the truth behind Madison’s disappearance, shards of a dark dream pierce defences that have protected her for so long. If she finds this child, will Naomi ultimately unlock the secrets of her own life?

My thoughts

The Child Finder is a dark and moving literary mystery. It is remarkable example of magical realism. It is beautiful and unsettling. At its heart, it is a tale of how the human spirit fights back. Told from two perspectives, the Child Finder and a missing child, we navigate a story of courage and survival. We witness a child’s remarkable coping strategies during long term captivity.

We follow Naomi, a woman in her twenties who has established a career as a Child Finder. She is a private investigator, with a passion for finding the lost. Naomi was once a missing child herself, which means she has a strong attachment to her work and for the voiceless. Naomi does not know what happened to her, in her childhood. She has lost her memory, of those dark days. She has coped by moving forward and keeping her distance from the world. She now traces missing children, when their parents have given up hope and are falling apart. She digs for information, reads intuitively between the lines and investigates suspects and geographical locations. Naomi is on the case of a child, who vanished in the snow in Oregan. Madison is missing and hope is fading fast. Can Naomi use her skills to trace Madison? Can Naomi find answers to the missing years in her past?

This is a tough and emotive subject, tackled with sheer brilliance and intelligence. It is one outstanding read, that it is impossible to put down. Instead of going into detail about the abuse, the author cleverly weaves a mythical spell as we see into Madison’s vibrant imagination. Madison’s survival is based on her fairy stories, day dreams and myths. We see Madison learning the new rules in her strange captive environment. She fears the monster. She lives in hell. She befriends the monster. She fights back.

What sets this apart from other missing child dramas, is the bitter wintery atmosphere, beautiful magical mood and gorgeous, evocative language. Denfield infuses The Child Finder with hope and life. She presents evil intertwined with survival. She combines a harsh, bleak environment, with a child bursting full of life in her fairy tale imagination. We know the Madison is going through major trauma and abuse. We feel for her. We have hope that Naomi will trace her.

Original. Exceptional. Compassionate. Rene Denfield deserves to win many new readers with The Child Finder. Recommended.



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A Song From Dead Lips – William Shaw (Breen and Tozer 1)


A Song From Dead Lips was published on 26 July 2013 by Riverrun and is available to buy here


The Runaway

A nameless young woman is found naked and strangled in an alley on Abbey Road.

The Reject

DS Cathal Breen, an outcast in the Marylebone CID, struggles to make sense of the case.

The Rookie

Until new recruit WPC Helen Tozer – the first woman to join the team – makes a breakthrough.

And as hippies slam doors in their face, and locals suspect the new African neighbours, Breen and Tozer tread down a perilous path, closing in on a cruel conspiracy that goes far beyond class, colour and creed.

Also by William Shaw

The Birdwatcher

My thoughts

A Song From Dead Lips is the start of a brand new series set in London’s Swinging Sixties. It is very promising, indeed. It introduces Sargeant Cathal Breen and Temporary Detective Constable Helen Tozer and sets them up for further adventures.

The story starts with a disgruntled Nanny plus children discovering a body dumped in St John’s Wood. This becomes a case for Breen, a man who doesn’t quite fit into the CID. He sticks out like a sore thumb. Breen is very much representative of the 1950s. A conventional man, who isn’t about to break the rules. He is assigned Tozer, who is more a child of her time. Tozer is a Beatles fan and a woman who is not afraid to speak her mind. Together they start to piece together who the murder victim was and who would want her dead. There are links to the Beatles and near by Carnaby Street.

I have no idea what life was like fifty years ago. The nearest I have got to the Swinging Sixties is watching Donald and Jacqueline on TV’s Benidorm. I was born in another generation. My impression is that it was a period of rapid societal change, when conventional 1950s behaviours were being thrown out of the window. It was a time without the internet, mobile phones, DNA finger printing and Netflix. There is plenty that is familiar and fascinating. We get the hero worship of boy bands in the Beatlemania. We see the police investigation, through Breen and Tozer. Plus we get a real sense of the casual and open racism and sexism. Some of it is explicit. It must have been tough being from a minority ethnic background at that time and having such open abusive terms thrust at you. As for Tozer and the casual nastiness aimed at females, it just seemed sad and pathetic. Shaw does a great job in giving us the Sixties era, warts and all.

I had masses of fun getting to know Breen and Tozer in 1968. Breen particularly shone for me, as a character. This is the book that will make you wish you were around in the Sixties. I cannot wait to get my hands on A House of Knives, book two in the series.



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