Book Review: When Evil Calls Your Name (Dr David Galbraith Book 2), by John Nicholl

Publication date:  31st December 2015   |   This edition: Kindle (review copy)

When Evil Calls Your Name MY REVIEW

When Evil Calls your Name Kindle CoverThis is Cynthia’s story. It’s a follow up to White is the Coldest Colour written in her own unique words. We now watch as she takes the tentative steps of complete honesty, from her formative years in happier times, until we reach the tragedy where time stood still, then we’re left to stare wide-eyed at the warning signs she failed to interpret until it was too late.

The format is quite different from book one, as this is written in a candid journal form, the details of which hope to offer a greater insight into Cynthia Galbraith’s experience of living her husband, a medical professional, whose main attribute was channelling his Jekyll and Hyde personality to enable him to indulge in his own sick fantasies.  Once again, the story is psychologically acute, touching on some dark and upsetting events.

To give you a little background, as a psychologist, Dr Galbraith (Dr Despicable more like), possessed the knowledge to manipulate those around him and yet his work earned him great status in his field. By the end of the twisted first book we knew precisely what he was capable of, but couldn’t quite believe it.

The words Cynthia commits to paper are part of a therapeutic healing process while she is committed to serving a prison sentence. It allows her to recount the horrendous events that have transpired and come to terms with the haunting visions in her mind. The journal contains the sequence of events leading up to her incarceration, plus the odd random thought to give clarity to her fragile state, including the opinion she holds of herself and of the people she finds herself ‘acquainted’ with behind bars.

There’s a twisted rhythm to this eye-opening sequel. Just like book one time passes flashes by when reading, as Cynthia’s voice speaks volumes this time round. The inclusion of subtle, disturbing details within a relationship that are missed early on could be difficult to project, and yet the author did this with ease. Conveying how someone’s entire life can alter course to this degree in around 270 pages is quite outstanding.

For anyone who hasn’t met ‘Dr Vile’ yet, I suggest you visit White is the Coldest Colour before embarking on Cynthia’s disturbing journey. Whilst this is brilliantly written in its own right, you will despise the hateful character who is the source of many an innocent’s anguish much, much more if you do. Otherwise you could find yourself wondering what it’s all about at first, as it does take a little while to get to the nitty-gritty for those unfamiliar with previous events.

Although certain circumstances can be a little hard going at times and may not be to everyone’s tastes (it’s less psychological thriller and more psychological torment), I have no hesitation recommending both books.

Rating: 4/5

(My thanks to the author for providing a digital copy of his book for review purposes.)

When Evil Calls Your Name BOOK SUMMARY

(Courtesy of Amazon UK)

When twenty-nine-year-old Cynthia Galbraith struggles to come to terms with her traumatic past and the realities of prison life, a prison counsellor persuades her to write a personal journal exploring the events that led to a life sentence for murder.

Although unconvinced at first, Cynthia finally decides she has all the time in the world and very little, if anything, to lose. She begins writing and holds back nothing: sharing the thoughts she hadn’t dare vocalise, the things that keep her awake at night and haunt her waking hours.


When Evil Calls Your Name

John Nicholl

John Nicholl’s first novel entered the Amazon top 100 bestsellers chart after just 15 days, and reached # 1 in British Detectives and Vigilante Justice. The author wrote articles relating to child protection for newspapers and a national social work magazine during his career, but this is his first novel. He lives in rural West Wales, has been happily married for many years, and has three adult children and one grandchild.

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Book Review: The Theseus Paradox, by David Videcette

Publication date: 15th November 2015  |  This edition: Kindle (Review Copy)


THE THESEUS PARADOX KINDLE COVERA thought-provoking book for sure, more accurately one that plays with your mind, The Theseus Paradox demonstrates a ‘fictional’ version of events leading up to the 7/7 bombings and the aftermath that ensued during the official investigation into the who and why.

Sometimes the laws that are used to protect citizens also bind the hands of our authorities. Well, that’s what Jake’s are for, and our lead character is a complex soul. Detective Inspector Jake Flannagan of the Anti-Terrorist Branch can be described many things: a family man, a ladies man and an all-out action man when required, all rolled into one determined package.

Ultimately, he never shirks his duty to discover the truth, much to his own detriment. In fact, he goes above and beyond what is required. And yet, the responsibility of endeavouring to save hundreds of lives is a heavy burden to carry and he’s only human after all. Often he finds the best way to anaesthetise his thought process by relieving the closest bar of their entire stock of alcoholic beverages, or spending time in the company of various ladies. Usually both.

Despite the company he regularly keeps Jake still seems very much alone. There are few people he can trust in this line of work, and circumstances beyond the official investigation of that fateful date tie the truth in knots. The frustration of getting no where fast while your life is falling apart can lead to bad decisions, both personal and professional. With everything at stake to get results he takes chances, some of which may come back to haunt him when he least expects it.

And that’s what so good about this predominantly action-lead storyline. Not only do we have a character that has guts and foresight to act as a barrier between the unscrupulous minds of lethal criminals and the unsuspecting public, but one who is also consumed by his experiences and despite his daily heroics is unable to save himself. You may judge him by his antics at first, I know I did, but you’ll soon appreciate his multiple predicaments and the difficulties they present.

More importantly, The Theseus Paradox is a story that turns everything on it’s head. Open your mind to an intricate plot that will challenge any concept you think you had. It doesn’t bend the rules, it wrings them out. It’s devious enough to be genuinely unsettling, as this alternate vision appears almost too real at intervals. Given the author’s background as a former Scotland Yard Investigator of the 7/7 London bombings in July 2005, it does make you think – exactly how fine is that line between fact and fiction?

Okay. To summarise:  Seriously people, you need to read this book. It’s pretty darned good.

Rating: 5/5

(My sincere thanks to the author for providing a digital copy of his book for review.)


We accepted it was terrorism. But what if we were wrong? What if London’s July bombings were the greatest criminal deception of our time? 7 July 2005: in the midst of Operation Theseus, the largest terrorist investigation that the UK has ever known, Detective Inspector Jake Flannagan begins to ask difficult questions that lead to the mysterious disappearance of his girlfriend and his sudden suspension from the Metropolitan Police. Who masterminded London’s summer of terror? Why can’t Flannagan make headway in the sprawling investigation? Are the bombings the perfect ploy to mask a different plot entirely? Is Jake’s absent girlfriend really who she claims to be?

While hunting for the answers to the most complex terrorist case in British history, one man will uncover the greatest criminal deception of our time. Terror, extremism and fear of the unknown, Sometimes the answer is much closer to home.

‘A chillingly credible tale based on real circumstances.’

‘A five-star, explosive finale.’

‘Leaves the reader hungry to research this version of events!’

‘A believable conspiracy theory with an incredible ring of truth.’

‘This fictional thriller holds a lot of water. Do not miss!’

‘A powerhouse of a fact-fiction mash-up.’ ‘

A stunning ‘big reveal’ at the end.’

‘Brilliant stuff that smacks you in the face!’

The author: David Videcette is a former Scotland Yard investigator who has worked on a wealth of infamous cases, including the 7 July London bombings in 2005. He has twenty years of police and investigative experience as a British detective, specialising in counter-terrorist operations and organised crime. He currently consults on security operations for high-net-worth individuals and is an expert media commentator on crime, terrorism, extremism and the London 7/7 attacks. ‘I can’t tell you the truth, but I can tell you a story…’


Theseus AUTHOR LINKSDavid VidecetteDavid Videcette is a former Scotland Yard investigator within the Metropolitan Police who has worked on a wealth of infamous cases. With twenty years of police experience, including counter terrorist operations and organised crime, David was a detective in the Anti-Terrorist Branch during the 7/7 London bombings in July 2005.

David has entered and searched thousands of properties, placed bugs on cars, chased suspects up train tracks and vehicles down motorways. Today he uses that experience in his writing, as the author of a series of detective novels starring DI Jake Flannagan. The Theseus Paradox is the first novel in the series.

David lives in London. He currently consults on security operations for high-net-worth individuals. He is a key media commentator on crime and terrorism. You can find out more about him by visiting his website at

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Humongous thanks and Meeerrrrry Christmas to you!


Greetings, everybody!

Crikey, that year went a bit quick, didn’t it?

That’s why it came as a surprise when Goodreads informed me that apparently I’d read over 100 books this year. If you’d asked me to guess I’d have said 60, tops. It’s not something I keep count of (how silly of me) and at first I thought I’d stumbled onto someone else’s profile! Well, here it is, ‘My Goodreads Year in Books – 2015’.

I’ve thoroughly enjoyed each and every Kindle, Paperback and Hardback copy for completely different reasons, which is why I couldn’t possibly dream of compiling my favourites in a post of their own. I think 5/5 rated reviews will give you a hint of which ones they are anyway!

I only started the blog in March and I’m massively grateful for each and every visitor who has taken the time to stroll down Little Bookness Lane, be they reader, blogger, author, or publisher. It’s been loads of fun and lovely to meet you all, so allow me to wish you a truly wonderful Christmas and all the very, very best for 2016.

There’ll be a post or two to come but for now,

be happy, be healthy, and most of all…

beware of low flying reindeer.

Beware Reindeers


Wendy sig



Book Review: A Poisonous Journey – A Lady Evelyn Mystery, by Malia Zaidi

Publication date: 27th August 2015  |  This edition: Kindle (Review Copy)

A Poisonous Journey My Review

A Poisonous Journey CoverLeaving only a note to state her intended whereabouts, young Lady Evelyn Carlisle hastily packs to escape the monotony of her life with Aunt Agnes, leaving a miserable, rain soaked England behind her. She sails toward adventure and into the open arms of hospitality offered by her cousin, Briony and her husband, Jeffrey.

Their gorgeous Cretan home nestled amidst spectacular scenery and the warming rays of sunlight are everything she dreamed of – yet the idyllic surroundings are riddled with deceit.

Shortly after her arrival, the discovery of a body of among the grounds disturbs the welcoming atmosphere and leaves everyone wondering if they’ve been dining with a potential murderer. Suspicions are raised, but everyone seems too lovely or well-respected to morph from friend to fiend during the course of an afternoon!

Before long, Evelyn politely pokes her little nose into other people’s affairs, discretely, of course, as only a true Lady would. In the process she uncovers all manner of unsavouriness while dicing with danger herself on occasion.

Still keeping up appearances, Evelyn hopes her amateurish meddling will assist the authorities, who have been slow to produce results. Although the police have several lines of enquiries, their investigation appears as easy going as Island life itself. The young sleuth also wonders if her clue solving could help Daniel, an intriguing house guest and longstanding friend of the deceased. And if a murderer lurking in the shadows wasn’t enough, a callous thief is on the loose, as there are missing artefacts to find from Jeffrey’s museum dig!

Just how well do these English settlers know the close knit community and even their own acquaintances? All will be revealed by peeling back the layers of a world where a War changed the people in it forever. We see how secrets can breed unhappiness, but the bond between the cousins remains unbroken and the little conversation snippets into their personal lives are truly wonderful.

Combine the food, the fashion decisions, and the community spirit and there’s a genuine sense of Cretan life and culture, topped with a classic English twist. The island setting lifts what could have been a run of the mill mystery and turns it into an rather interesting read. There are no major thrills or gasps of horror in store, just a well written murder mystery of the gentler paced variety to keep things bubbling along until the end.

Personally, I found the pace a little slower than I’m used to, but it was an enjoyable distraction nonetheless. If you’re partial to a traditional who-done-it with a relaxed pace and delicate hints of romance, then A Poisonous Journey will be right up your street.

Rating: 3.5/5

(My thanks to the author for providing a digital copy of this book for review purposes.)

A Poisonous Journey Book Summary

The year is 1925, a time that hovers between two catastrophic wars, a time of jazz and sparkle, and a time of peace and reflection. For Lady Evelyn, struggling to outrun the ghosts of her tragic past, it is a time of transformation. Left orphaned after a fire when she was only four, Lady Evelyn Carlisle was raised in London by her stern aunt and uncle.

Now, twenty years later she has grown restless and is keen to escape her chaperone’s grasp. A letter from her cousin, Briony, living with her husband on Crete, comes at just the right time. Packing what she can, Lady Evelyn makes off for foreign shores. Welcoming her are not only Briony and her husband, Jeffrey, but also his handsome and mysterious friends, Caspar Ballantine and Daniel Harper. Though the latter carries with him tragic memories of the Great War, Evelyn is glad to be in their company. With the sun warming her back and the dazzling sea in her sights, this fresh start seems destined for happy days ahead.

Little does she know . . . What starts off as a sunny holiday quickly turns into a sinister nightmare, when Evelyn stumbles across the corpse of one of her cousin’s houseguests. Drawn into the mystery surrounding the murder, Evelyn embarks on a mission to discover the truth, forcing her to face her own past as well as a cold-hearted killer. With the help of her cousin, the handsome local police detective, and the mysterious Daniel Harper, will she uncover the truth, before another life is claimed? A varied cast of characters, an engaging mystery at its core, an exotic setting, and a thoughtful, plucky heroine provide a story that will appeal to fans of many genres.


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Book Review: The Commons (Book 1) – The Journeyman, by Michael Alan Peck

Publisher: Dinuhos Arts  |  Publication date: 10th January 2015  |  This edition: Paperback

The Commons My Review

The Commons - Jounryeman 1 by Michael Alan PeckThis meaty brick of a book is a continuously evolving fantasy. It follows a life-after-death trail that will ignite your imagination where there are no limits. Its furiously bizarre episodes will appeal to anyone with a liking for otherly places, where pretty much anything goes. With zero profanity and plenty of action it was a absolute breeze to read. 

Paul Reid, the main character, dies. No, that’s not a massive spoiler and I’ve just ruined it for you. From the point of his demise, his life-after-death episode is very much different to what you would expect and it tests his inner resolve to the max. He finds himself wandering in what can only be described as an afterlife of sorts, otherwise known as The Commons. 

To give you an idea of the situations our young hero faces during his incarceration there, Paul’s journey through The Commons is guided by an old envoy called Porter, although the young lad soon realises that any choices he makes are entirely his own and may have direct consequences for the rest of the inhabitants. The envoy is a little out of practice with the game that is afoot, as The Commons has been under siege for quite some time. Paul and his envoy will face a nemesis with the sole purpose of controlling any life essence that clings to the unfortunates who arrive to start their own journeys.

Along the way, seemingly everyday situations are fraught with oddities and tension. There’s a whole host of intriguing characters, like a well-mannered, giant bandaged mummy, and a monk who prefers to communicate by sign language as his voice is dubbed like a seventies martial arts film. There are supressed souls, menacing underwater creatures, and an Autistic boy, Zach, who discovers new abilities with the help of unexpected sources when he is separated from his mother during a perilous journey of his own.

The threat is constant and order seems impossible when sly tactics are at play. Can a fractured group of very different souls succeed in restoring balance? Just how far can they trust each other?

This is a fairly weighty book tipping the scales at 538 pages and yet the time flew by as is explored an interpretation of ‘limbo’, while taking into consideration the life people have lead and the choices that face them at the hour of death. At the moment, people entering The Commons do not get that luxury. The decisions are made for them under a dictatorship that is, the formidable Mr Brill – who survives on a diet of fear and evil, and his shadow has a very long reach. The ending allows further progression and I’d certainly be interested in seeing where the next journey would take me.

Alrighty then. I like a quirky story and this was undoubtedly impressive on that score. It’s certainly a thought-provoker too, although I feel this would appeal more to readers who embrace fantasy or science fiction elements, as it’s not your average, run-of-the-mill tale.

Rating: 4/5

(My thanks to Book Publicity Services for providing a paperback copy of this book for review purposes.)

The Commons Book Summary

“Paul Reid died in the snow at seventeen. The day of his death, he told a lie—and for the rest of his life, he wondered if that was what killed him.”

And so begins the battle for the afterlife, known as The Commons. It’s been taken over by a corporate raider who uses the energy of its souls to maintain his brutal control. The result is an imaginary landscape of a broken America—stuck in time and overrun by the heroes, monsters, dreams, and nightmares of the imprisoned dead.

Three people board a bus to nowhere: a New York street kid, an Iraq War veteran, and her five-year-old special-needs son. After a horrific accident, they are the last, best hope for The Commons to free itself. Along for the ride are a shotgun-toting goth girl, a six-foot-six mummy, a mute Shaolin monk with anger-management issues, and the only guide left to lead them.

Three Journeys: separate but joined. One mission: to save forever.

But first they have to save themselves.


The Commons Author Bio

Author Michael Alan PeckMichael Alan Peck tells tales big and small. Life’s magical, but it isn’t always enough for a good story. So he makes up the rest.

He’s made his living writing about TV, its celebrities, and its past. He’s also put food on the table reviewing restaurants and writing about travel.

He has a godawful memory, so he focuses on the written word. He likes to think that over time, he’s gotten better at it—the writing, not the remembering. He forgets important dates. He’s pretty good with movie lines. But after several years, he tends to tweak them. He prefers his versions over the real ones.

Funny goes a long way with him. Probably further than it should.

He grew up outside Philadelphia and has lived in New York, L.A., and San Francisco. His current home base is Chicago.

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Book Review: Alchemy – Turning Silver to Gold, By Chris James (Book 2)

Publisher:  Global Literary  |  Publication date: 14th December 2015  |  This edition:  Kindle

Alchemy 2 My Review

Alchemy turning silver to goldChris James continues Jacob Silver’s demise in the next instalment of ‘Alchemy’ with this surreal and imaginative Victorian world of dastardly deeds and murderous intentions.

In Book One, it was believed that the souls of ladies with certain traits could be captured to create an elixir, which would promise immortality to the person consuming it. Well, following lively courtroom exchanges, Jacob Silver was found guilty of being a wicked serial killer and had been sentenced to death.

Young Lizzie, whom Jacob unknowingly cured of consumption with his potions, never believed the verdict and vowed to clear his name, despite her father’s insistence that she should leave the damned thing alone.

This outing sees the battle to prove immortality exists and to discover the identity and whereabouts of the elusive professor, who coached Jacob in the dark science yet absconded without a trace when the arrests for murder of the ladies were being made. A mysterious, crooked villain is starting to make appearances at the site of many a hideous scene in Book Two. Despite the development of revolutionary techniques to gather evidence, this cloaked figure is one step ahead of the humble authorities, who bumble through the investigation with the lives of many a civilian in their hands.

There’s much more back history in this story. We’re transported hundreds of years into the past to offer an explanation how an Alchemist’s recipe for immortality came into existence and provide more plausibility of the science applied in the early 20th century and, more importantly, the reasons for the specific ingredients that were used.

Turning Silver to Gold is a blend of horror, fantasy, crime and history. It’s gritty and imaginative, and there’s some great character interaction – I loved it when Conan Doyle’s fabulous investigative medical services were called for to address the inexplicable. Then we discover that Queen Victoria isn’t fussed about bending the rules when it suits her, and I don’t think her subjects would be amused!

Although a new love interest is on the cards for Lizzie, knowing whether Jacob is innocent or guilty is always in the forefront of her mind – especially when she discovers his corpse is no longer secured in his coffin. History could easily repeat itself and someone may get away with murder…the question is – whose?

There are some great lines and bizarre occurrences, which it’s best not question, just set reality aside for a while and enjoy. I’d also strongly suggest you read Book One first, as you’ll appreciate Jacob Silver’s predicament much, much more.

Rating: 4/5

(My thanks to the author for providing an advanced copy of his book in exchange for review.)

Alchemy 2 Book Summary

(Courtesy of Amazon UK)

London ~ 1915

A sensational murder trial begins at the Old Bailey, the accused having apparently been hung for similar shocking murders, in 1895.

How had Jacob Silver escaped the hangman? Where was he, these last 20 years?

Lizzie Weston, his only surviving model, was convinced he was innocent the first time. But after the evidence against him unfolds, she’s sure he’s guilty this time.

Jacob Silver, having unravelled an ancient recipe in the old tome: Alchemy, is convinced he is immortal, and that’s how he survived the hanging. Improving his skills over the last 20 years, he now claims he can raise the dead.

The prosecution allege he murdered five more women for their souls ~ as Alchemy, the manual of murder prescribes.

But is anything as it seems?


Alchemy 2 Author Links

(Courtesy of Amazon UK)

A former murder squad detective in England, Chris was often the lead-detective in murder trials. No stranger to murder and the macabre, he was a regular contributor to British True Crime television series. He has maintained an interest in criminology his entire adult life.

In 2006 he moved from England to Mallorca, a beautiful Spanish island in the Mediterranean, where he is a keen yachtsman.

“Alchemy: a story of perfect murder” – is his debut novel, and the first of a trilogy.


Book Review: The Jazz Files (Poppy Denby Investigates – Book One, by Fiona Veitch Smith

Publisher: Lion Fiction  |   Publication date:  17th September 2015   |   Review edition: Paperback

The Jazz Files My Review

The Jazz Files by Fiona Veitch Smith - Cover onlyThe Jazz Files encapsulates the highs and lows of an era shortly after the First World War.

With the author’s discretion, certain historical facts have been remoulded to fit this story, where we follow the young and ambitious Poppy Denby as she pursues a career in journalism.

Poppy was invited to London to work as a companion to her aunt, an actress and feisty member of the suffragette movement. Her aunt encourages her niece to fight for the employment she desires, after all, it’s what she and her friends campaigned for, and some of them did not survive. But no amount of support and encouragement will prepare her for the danger she is about to face, where blackmail, unsavoury characters, and evil shadow from the past all thrive.

Starting as an office assistant Poppy will meet all manner of larger than life characters, each having their own piece of unique history attached. For starters, there’s her boss, who is an ‘all American editor’ called ‘Rollo’ Rolandson. He gives the bright young gal a chance, when a missing editorial slot needs filling urgently. Having a friend in the arts is a Godsend, as she can get the interview she needs to set her on the right track. Little did she know that journalism could lead to such deadly pursuits! There are such delightful ones too, as a dashing newspaper photographer has a twinkle in his eye for young Poppy. Their relationship inside and outside the paper’s offices is played out wonderfully.

Soon, chases, betrayal and a cloak and dagger rescue are all on the cards. Poppy chips away at information she gains during her employment hoping to discover the truth about her aunt Dot’s accident, which left her confined to a wheelchair. And what really caused the death of her aunt’s friend? Then, there’s the fate of a poor woman held in an asylum hanging in the balance! Who is responsible for causing such grief and how can they be stopped? This is difficult to discern, as most of the people Poppy meets have secrets they are not revealing.

The original members from the suffragette movement and their nieces / daughters work together as a formidable team to solve the puzzle that has haunted the older generation. It’s a nice touch to bring all the threads together and form a unified bond ‘in the now’ – but someone is always one step ahead of the investigation…

With the embittered memories for the loss of their old friends and exposing those responsible, this is an incredibly engaging story. Told in a rhythmic, breezy style, our marvellous mystery solving gal perseveres, despite the many obstacles both her gender and difficult circumstances present in the age of The Jazz Files.

It’s safe to say I adored this book and would happily recommend it to those who like being transported to a different time, where an adventurous journalistic crime mystery will keep you on your toes – the 1920’s have never felt more alive!

Rating: 5/5

(My sincerest thanks to the publisher and Rhoda Hardie for providing a gorgeous paperback of this title for review.)

The Jazz Files Book Summary

(Courtesy of Amazon UK)

“It stands for Jazz Files,” said Rollo. “It’s what we call any story that has a whiff of high society scandal but can’t yet be proven… you never know when a skeleton in the closet might prove useful.”

Set in 1920, The Jazz Files introduces aspiring journalist Poppy Denby, who arrives in London to look after her ailing Aunt Dot, an infamous suffragette. Dot encourages Poppy to apply for a job at The Daily Globe, but on her first day a senior reporter is killed and Poppy is tasked with finishing his story. It involves the mysterious death of a suffragette seven years earlier, about which some powerful people would prefer that nothing be said…

Through her friend Delilah Marconi, Poppy is introduced to the giddy world of London in the Roaring Twenties, with its flappers, jazz clubs, and romance. Will she make it as an investigative journalist, in this fast-paced new city? And will she be able to unearth the truth before more people die?


The Jazz Files Author Profile

(Courtesy of Amazon UK)

Formerly a journalist, Fiona Veitch Smith has written books, theatre plays and screenplays. She is best known though for her novels and children’s picturebooks. Her ‘Young David Picturebook’ series (illustrated by Amy Barnes Warmington) are based on the Biblical character of King David when he was a young boy. ‘The Jazz Files’ is the first novel in her mystery series, Poppy Denby Investigates, and is set in the 1920s. Her standalone novel, ‘The Peace Garden’, is a romantic thriller set in England and South Africa. She lives with her husband, daughter and two dogs in Newcastle upon Tyne where she lectures in media and scriptwriting at the local universities. She has a passion for cheesecake, Pilates and playing the clarinet – preferably not at the same time!

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Book Review: The Widow, by Fiona Barton

Publisher: Bantam Press (An imprint of Transworld)  |  Publication date: 14th January 2016

The Widow Review

The Widow CoverThe Widow is an utterly compelling merry-go-round of suspicions and lies. It follows the fly-on-the-wall account of a wife who is married to a man accused of an unimaginable crime.

I only started out by having a little peek inside this book with it’s darkly, intriguing cover, you know, just a little nibble to gauge what all the fuss was about. This turned into reading a couple of chapters, then ten, until it ended in my devouring it all!

Now, I haven’t read Gone Girl so I can’t draw comparisons from this best-seller as stated in the book summary. What I can say is that The Widow is stunningly moody and emotionally charged. It sucks you into the shocked world where a child has gone missing, while grappling with the unrelenting efforts to return her home. Although it’s not a fast-paced book, I found every chapter engaging; the drip, drip, drip of the pages offers a twisted mind game of a read.

The Widow’s story, aka Jean Taylor, is highly sought after. She’s the inoffensive and dutiful wife, staying resolutely silent despite being weary of the constant media attention and vile attacks from the public. Jean’s now just trying to function without her ‘wonderful Glen’, who was the main focus of the police investigation into the child’s disappearance. Due to her husband’s unexpected death, Jean is given numerous opportunities to tell her side of the story about living with a monster, or not, as the case may be. Never before has she bowed to pressure to speak of her husband or her suffocating life with him, until a reporter with techniques of getting her foot through the door slowly works to gain The Widow’s trust and scoop the exclusive the entire country has been waiting for.

Through a series of chapters alternating between Jean’s story told in the first person, and the reporter’s, the mother’s and the detective’s in charge of the case, all told in the third person, the picture of the couple’s marriage is painted in dabs here and there. Just enough of their life is told to keep you on your toes throughout to leave you contemplating the accusations against her husband and considering the hints of potential suspects elsewhere. The waters get deeper and murkier, as illicit websites and unsavoury activities feature in places, but it’s balanced perfectly to the pace of the story and the evidence being sought to uncover the truth.

The way the story is presented, with subtleties on offer, is like you’re sitting on Jean’s sofa and listening to her story first hand – now that’s cleverly done. I also liked the two-pronged offering: the emotional fallout of how a missing child affects ALL parties involved, and the tirelessly chipping away to reveal the answer to the question that will be on everyone’s lips, “guilty, or not guilty?”

Rating: 4.5/5

(Massive thanks to the Publishers, in particular Ben Willisfor providing an ARC of Fiona Barton’s debut, The Widow, for review.)

The Widow Book Summary

(Courtesy of Amazon UK)

‘The ultimate psychological thriller’ Lisa Gardner

We’ve all seen him: the man – the monster – staring from the front page of every newspaper, accused of a terrible crime.

But what about her: the woman who grips his arm on the courtroom stairs – the wife who stands by him?

Jean Taylor’s life was blissfully ordinary. Nice house, nice husband. Glen was all she’d ever wanted: her Prince Charming. Until he became that man accused, that monster on the front page. Jean was married to a man everyone thought capable of unimaginable evil. But now Glen is dead and she’s alone for the first time, free to tell her story on her own terms.

Jean Taylor is going to tell us what she knows.

Du Maurier’s REBECCA meets WE NEED TO TALK ABOUT KEVIN and GONE GIRL in this intimate tale of a terrible crime.

‘My book of the year so far’ C. L. Taylor, author of THE LIE


The Widow Author Links

Fiona Barton trains and works with journalists all over the world. Previously, she was a senior writer at the Daily Mail, news editor at the Daily Telegraph, and chief reporter at The Mail on Sunday, where she won Reporter of the Year at the British Press Awards. THE WIDOW is her first novel. Born in Cambridge, she current lives in south-west France.


Book Review: Follow Me (Social Media Murders 1), by Angela Clarke #AreYouNext?

Publisher: Avon (Harper Collins) | Publication date: Kindle 3rd December 2015, Paperback 31st December 2015 | Edition reviewed: Kindle (NetGalley)

Follow Me My Review

Follow Me is a ballsy, social-media-murder-mystery that strikes a loud fictional chord with the ‘online’ world we live in today. This, and the frenzied attempts to catch a serial killer, creates a punchy and enthralling read.

In a brave journalistic move, the abrasive Freddie soon discovers how a deranged oddball is earning their name as the #Hashtag Murderer. After harnessing the power of social media to its full anonymous advantage, an account, known only as @ Apollyon, tweets a series of short riddles to leave a bread crumb trail to their intended victim.  As very few clues are revealed the police have nothing to go on and no way to trace the elusive tweeter.

It’s always nice to have a mention or a like, but personally I’d give this account a wide berth! Once you’re in Apollyon’s sights your popularity will end abruptly – if you’re unfortunate to be followed back, you can be pretty sure you won’t have a pulse for much longer. And yet, each sporadic tweet sees the number of followers swell.

During the police investigation, Freddie finds herself acting as social media consultant for the case. She also battles demons from her past as she is standing shoulder to shoulder with her old school friend Nasreen, now a police Sergeant. Their friendship was ended eight years ago by hints of a secret they share throughout the book. This past emotional baggage is prodded at intervals but isn’t revealed until much later, which lends an tainted edge to their strained relationship.

Sergeant ‘Naz’ Cudmore is ever the professional, wearing perfect suits and annoyingly sucking up to her superiors to further her career, while reciting the police handbook. Freddie Venton rescues two day old clothes off the floor and writes editorial for free, frustratingly waiting for recognition as a credible journalist – at other times she fills her time being a loose cannon waiting to explode at inopportune moments, much to the dismay of the DCI in charge. Given her boisterous and erratic nature, you’d think Freddie would be the last person trusted to assist with the authorities. The question is, will her off-the-wall nature help or hinder the unsuspecting public before we discover who’s next?!

The concept of a #Hashtag Murderer is unnerving, as this invisible threat has the entire population at their mercy. But this book could easily be a manual for of how not to conduct a police investigation. The amateurish decisions of the higher ranking officers at times made me want to throttle them!

The story has an wicked energy to it, there’s an odd, lively buzz as you read. The chapters have social media acronyms as titles too – like a fictional timeline, keeping the online theme at the front of your mind. Nice touch that.

So, hidden agendas and sinister activity aplenty then – what’s not to like?! Oops, scrub that. Best not ‘like’, just in case…


Rating: 4/5

(My thanks to the publisher, Avon Books UK, for providing a digital copy of this book via NetGalley for review purposes.)

Follow Me Book Summary

(Courtesy of Amazon UK)


The ‘Hashtag Murderer’ posts chilling cryptic clues online, pointing to their next target. Taunting the police. Enthralling the press. Capturing the public’s imagination.

But this is no virtual threat.

As the number of his followers rises, so does the body count.

Eight years ago two young girls did something unforgivable. Now ambitious police officer Nasreen and investigative journalist Freddie are thrown together again in a desperate struggle to catch this cunning, fame-crazed killer. But can they stay one step ahead of him? And can they escape their own past?

Time’s running out. Everyone is following the #Murderer. But what if he is following you?




Follow Me Author Links

(Courtesy of Amazon UK)

Angela Clarke is an author, columnist and playwright. Her debut crime novel Follow Me (Avon) is out December 2015. Follow Me is the first in the Social Media Murders Series.

Her memoir Confessions of a Fashionista (Ebury) is an Amazon Fashion Chart bestseller. Her debut play The Legacy received rave reviews after it’s first run at The Hope Theatre in June 2015. Angela’s journalist contributions include: The Guardian, The Independent Magazine, The Daily Mail, and Cosmopolitan. Now magazine described her as a ‘glitzy outsider’. Angela read English and European Literature at Essex University, and Advances in Scriptwriting at RADA. In 2015 Angela was awarded the Young Stationers’ Prize for achievement and promise in writing and publishing.

She is almost always late or lost, or both.

Find out more at:


Book Review: On Track for Murder, by Stephen Childs

Publisher:  Clink Street Publishing  |  Date of publication: 1st September 2015  |  Edition: Paperback (Review Copy, provided by Authoright)

On track for murder My Review

On Track for Murder by Stephen Childs COVER ONLY

Well, I must say I was pleasantly surprised by this book. There’s much more to the plot than I’d originally thought. Events move pretty swiftly, not in an exhilarating way, you understand, but by confidently holding your attention throughout.

The unease begins with eighteen year old Abigail Sergeant’s perilous journey in 1897 aboard the SS Elderslie. The young woman is tasked with taking sole care of her brother, Bertrand, who presents with learning difficulties.  The ordeal of the voyage takes it toll on the young lad, as they hit menacing seas. This is the least of Abigale’s problems when they reach their final destination of Australia, as before they disembark they fall victim to an unsavoury crew member, Stanley Larkin.

They leave the vessel behind them with Larkin secured in the Brigg. All they look forward now is seeing their father for the first time since they left England and embracing the new way of life that lies ahead.  The reunion starts badly and quickly falls away, as there’s no one to greet them at the station, except a familiar face they thought they wouldn’t see again so soon. His malevolent presence is truly unnerving.

Any exciting prospects they envisaged are short lived, as what follows is a run in with their fanatically-religious step-mother, who could give Cruella DeVille a run for her money any day of the week.

The step-mom from hell dislikes how the ‘witch girl’ has been encouraged by their father to keep up to date with new technologies and read fiction from the likes of Jules Verne. And she really cannot come to terms with Bertrand and his unusual behaviour, which positively offends her. Before the children get chance to make themselves at home a brutal death occurs.

Convinced of the accused’s innocence the authorities grant Abigale five days to provide proof, or they will hang. How can a young woman alone in Australia investigate a murder without any leads to go on? This is where our dashing yet shy Constable Ridley appears. Eager to make a name for himself as a detective, Ridley accompanies Abigale to try and solve this crime riddle before it’s too late, but he’s left behind when his charge is often two steps ahead of him (not intentionally, I might add!).

Any impropriety is observed in strict 19th century fashion and the entire situation tests Abigale’s failing resolve. She has to dig deep and apply her ‘modern technical knowledge’ when faced with some pretty dire circumstances. Despite her best efforts it’s impossible to confirm the actual culprit until the end, as several names are thrown into the hat of shady people!

All-in-all an entertaining, historical murder mystery where the villains are obnoxious and brusque and an unlikely heroine must try to save the day in an unfamiliar territory. It might be a little tamer than my usual crime reads, but there’s still plenty to keep the little grey cells occupied without wearing them out.

Rating: 4/5

(My thanks to Kate Appleton of Authoright for providing a paperback copy of this book for review.)

On track for murder Book Summary

(Courtesy of Amazon UK)

Travelling from England to Australia in the late nineteenth century, Abigail Sergeant and her brother, Bertrand, are looking forward to their new life. Leaving behind the prejudices that would likely have seen Bertrand committed to an institution before he reached adulthood, Abigail hopes their new life will offer freedom and security. But what awaits them on the shores of the Swan River dashes any prospects of a blissful life. A murder is committed and Abigail’s family is thrown into turmoil. The evidence is damning. Only the guilty would be found standing over the body clutching the bloodied murder weapon.

But something is not right. Police are convinced they have their killer. Abigail is certain they are wrong. As their one potential witness is missing, Abigail persuades the detective to allow time for a search. But that time is limited. Chasing across Western Australia with a reluctant Constable Dunning as her chaperone, Abigail is determined to uncover the truth. If only she had an inkling of what that may be. Through deception, kidnap, sabotage and arson, Abigail finds a resolve she didn’t know she possessed. Her understanding of mechanical principles surprises everyone, as does her tenacity. She turns out to be a capable young woman. But is that enough to save an innocent from injustice?


Stephen Childs was born in London, England in 1961. He is the eldest of four siblings. Stephen travelled to New Zealand with his parents in the early 1970s.

Completing his education in New Zealand, Stephen took up work as an audio engineer in the film and television business.

Although his career covered a wide range of activities, shooting historical drama series’ was one of his favourite roles. In 2013 he moved to Perth, Australia, with his wife and youngest son.

His time is taken swimming, reading and walking along some of the most fabulous coastal walkways in the world.