Review ~ Good Samaritans by Will Carver.


One crossed wire, three dead bodies and six bottles of bleach.

Seth Beauman can’t sleep. He stays up late, calling strangers from his phonebook, hoping to make a connection, while his wife, Maeve, sleeps upstairs. A crossed wire finds a suicidal Hadley Serf on the phone to Seth, thinking she is talking to The Samaritans. But a seemingly harmless, late-night hobby turns into something more for Seth and for Hadley, and soon their late-night talks are turning into day-time meet-ups. And then this dysfunctional love story turns into something altogether darker, when Seth brings Hadley home… And someone is watching… Dark, sexy, dangerous and wildly readable, Good Samaritans marks the scorching return of one of crime fiction’s most exceptional voices.


Today on the final day of Orenda October I am republishing my review of a dark, troubling classic. A superb read and a fine example of why Orenda books is one of my favourite publishers.

Good Samaritans is an utter triumph.

Sexy, dark and twisted, it delves into the darkest recesses of the human mind and finds the tortured souls of those, for whom death and murder are like a game of cat and mouse. Characters that find sexual gratification in the suffering of others and addiction from the pleasure it brings them.

Thrillers are meant to set your heart racing, freak you out and this superb novel does all of these in spade loads.

You think you are ready for whatever is coming, but your not! Will Carver weaves a tangled web of misdirection. Gives you characters that seem ordinary and then, will make you avoid the bleach isle of your favourite supermarket forever!

It sent tingles down my spine and was full of twists I never saw coming. It left me shocked and catapulted me to reading seventh heaven. Filled me with wonder at a tale created with such skill, that it’s surely set to be a classic, that will electrify readers for years to come.

The characterisation is astonishing, in that you just never know who they really are, or what they’re truly capable of. Each is multi faceted and what makes this novel so twisted and chilling, is that it could be your neighbour, it could be anyone that you know, or accidentally become acquainted with that decides to watch you. I thought that each character was so fascinating it became impossible to think of anything else while reading it. They made me gasp out loud, laugh, while wondering if laughing was appropriate and yet at the same time be so floored by the intensity of their thoughts and actions, that by the end, I was left feeling like I had been thrown by a bucking rodeo ride. I had to stay calm and carry on, because the ride was worth it and the characters so rewarding that investing in such a disturbing mindset is a delicious experience.

I’ve not read Will Carved before and I hope I won’t have to wait too long before I can read another by this incredibly gifted writer.

Good Samaritans can be purchased from Amazon, Waterstones, Foyles, BlackwellsKobo.

About the author. 

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Will Carver is the international bestselling author of the January David series (Arrow). He spent his early years in Germany, but returned to the UK at age 11, when his sporting career took off. He turned down a professional rugby contract to study theatre and television at King Alfred’s, Winchester, where he set up a successful theatre company. He currently runs his own fitness and nutrition company, while working on his next thriller. He lives in Reading with his two children.

You can follow the author on Twitter

The Creak On The Stairs by Eva Bjorg Aegisdottir

Creak on the Stairs Cover

An exquisitely written, disturbing, claustrophobic and chillingly atmospheric thriller, The Creak on the Stairs is the first in the electrifying FORBIDDEN ICELAND series, by one of Iceland’s most exciting new talents.

When a body of a woman is discovered at a lighthouse in the Icelandic town of Akranes, it soon becomes clear that she’s no stranger to the area.

Chief Investigating Officer Elma, who has returned to Akranes following a failed relationship, and her collegues Sævar and Hörður, commence an uneasy investigation, which uncovers a shocking secret in the dead woman’s past that continues to reverberate in the present day …

But as Elma and her team make a series of discoveries, they bring to light a host of long-hidden crimes that shake the entire community. Sifting through the rubble of the townspeople’s shattered memories, they have to dodge increasingly serious threats, and find justice … before it’s too late.


As Orenda October draws to a close for another year, I’m republishing my review of this stunning thriller!

I think it is quite remarkable that an small indie publisher such as Orenda continues to publish top notch books without skipping a beat. I can always depend on them to give me a book, that catches the imagination, excites me, moves me and leaves me wanting more! The Creak On The Stairs definitely left me wanting more!

It is different from your average thriller, because not only does it value story, characterisation is paramount, allowing each characters emotions to shine off the page.  The characters in The Creak On The Stairs have foibles, make mistakes and because they are allowed to feel anger, confusion and longing, they feel real. Officer Elma is the perfect example of a character so finely drawn she inhabits the story in what feels like real time. I won’t reveal the reasons she moves back to Akranes, but it informs who she is and by the end, you understand her drive to succeed in this new role. As a character she goes on a journey and opens up to the reader, moving from this unknown entity you encounter at the beginning of the novel to the more rounded, utterly real figure, that by the end could be sitting in the room with you as you turn the pages.  Of course she is not the only character, but she draws the others around her, they drift in and out of her arc, informing her story and propelling her towards the recognition, that below the surface secrets are deadly.

The story is compelling and on times deeply emotional.  The writer deals with difficult and complex emotions and actions, weaving them into a story which seems low key, but in reality is like a volcano waiting to erupt. The layer of normality that exists in Akranes is deceptively thin and as cracks begin to appear, the secrets and lies erupt and lives will never be the same again.   The discovery of a women’s body takes us on a journey deep down below the layers of a community that appears on the surface sedate, normal, but is in fact anything but.  It makes you wonder as a reader if the perceptions you started with during the first chapters of The Creak On The Stairs are really just a delusion and for me they certainly were. The way the writer shines a light on small town life, where everyone knows each other, blows apart the notion that this would make deadly behaviour less likely, because where would the perpetrators hide? In fact she shines a light on a disturbing phenomena,  they hide in plain sight, because so many characters in this book. are either too intimidated to act, or too invested in keeping the secrets buried. For the reader the fascination comes from figuring out who falls into what group and how it affects Officer Elm’s chance of solving this case.

The Creak On The Stairs is superb. It really is a book that you should buy and read.

You can purchase this book directly from the publisher from their ebook store. Or why not consider contacting your local indie bookshop, all of whom are doing remarkable work and will post out books to you.

It can also be bought from the main online retailers Waterstones and also Amazon

I would like to thank the author, publisher and blog tour organiser for the ARC of this novel in return for an honest review.

About the author

Eva Bjorg AEgisdottir Author Pic

Born in Akranes in 1988, Eva moved to Trondheim, Norway to study my MSc in Globalisation when she was 25.  After moving back home having completed her MSc, she knew it was time to start working on her novel. Eva has wanted to write books since she was 15 years old, having won a short story contest in Iceland.

Eva worked as a stewardess to make ends meet while she wrote her first novel. The book went on to win the Blackbird Award and became an Icelandic bestseller. Eva now lives with her husband and three children in Reykjavík, staying at home with her youngest until she begins Kindergarten.

About the translator 

Victoria Cribb studied and worked in Iceland for many years. She has translated more than 25 novels from the Icelandic and, in 2017, she received the Orðstír honourary translation award for services to Icelandic literature.

Review~Beton Rouge by Simone Buchholz.

Beton Rouge front cover final

On a warm September morning, an unconscious man is found in a cage at the entrance to the offices of one of the biggest German newspapers. Closer inspection shows he is a manager of the company, and he’s been tortured. Three days later, another manager appears in similar circumstances.

Chastity Riley and her new colleague Ivo Stepanovic are tasked with uncovering the truth behind the attacks, an investigation that goes far beyond the revenge they first suspect … to the dubious past shared by both victims. Travelling to the south of Germany, they step into the hothouse world of boarding schools, where secrets are currency, and monsters are bred … monsters who will stop at nothing to protect themselves.

A smart, dark, probing thriller, full of all the hard-boiled poetry and acerbic wit of the very best noir, Beton Rouge is both a classic whodunit and a scintillating expose of society, by one of the most exciting names in crime fiction.


Today as part of a month long celebration of Orenda October, I am once again sharing my review of Baton Rouge.

Chastity Riley is back and what an absolute joy it is!

If I was to list why this book is for me, such a phenomenal read, at the top of that list would be Chastity and all of the other bold and unique characters that fill the pages of Beton Rouge.  She commands the reader’s attention throughout, she young, she is acerbic, drinks and smokes too much, with a fractured personal life. I find her utterly fascinating and easy to like and I can’t ever imagine tiring of spending time in her company.   Bold characters like Chastity, give stories a strength to revolve the narrative around, classic characters that become fan favourites, never merging into the background, but not overpowering the story.  She is the kind of character your never going to forget! She is feisty, smart and has a talent for finding trouble, with a life fraught with questionable choices.

Then there is the writing. Its snappy, with short, crisp chapters, which lend themselves well to this very modern novel.  It creates the perfect atmosphere. As Chastity and her new colleague race against time to find the person responsible,  for placing the men in cages outside a German Publishing company, those fleeting chapters help to create a sense of edginess in the reader. They heighten a sense of disquiet and help the story to flow faster and your left with the feeling you to are rising against time.

The story is strong and bold. I loved the way it looks at how society treats those that are different and creates from that a classic whodunit about cruelty and retribution.  It paints and image of a shadowy city, dismal and unpredictable, creating at atmosphere where I as a reader felt danger lurking around every corner. It cleverly takes the reader down into the bowels of the city and behind the tortured mind of a protagonist bent on punishing his enemies.

If I hadn’t had to work, I would never have put down, so gripped was I by story.

Without doubt this book is a fitting follow-up to Blue Night and carries on the obvious talent the writer showed in the first novel.

Special mention must go to the translator Rachel Ward, who with great skill translates this novel into English.

You can purchase this novel from Amazon and Waterstones.

I would like to thank the author, publisher and blog tour organiser for the ARC of this book in return for an honest review.

About the author.


Simone Buchholz was born in Hanau in 1972. At university, she studied Philosophy and Literature, worked as a waitress and a columnist, and trained to be a journalist at the prestigious Henri-Nannen-School in Hamburg. In 2016, Simone Buchholz’s Blue Night  was awarded the Crime Cologne Award, and runner-up for the German Crime Fiction Prize. The next in the Chastity Riley series, Beton Rouge, won the Radio Bremen Crime Fiction Award and Best Economic Crime Novel 2017, and Mexiko Street (published in 2020 by Orenda Books) won the most prestigious crime fiction award in Germany in 2019. Simone lives in Sankt Pauli, in the heart of Hamburg, with her husband and son. Follow Simone on Twitter @ohneKlippo and visit her website: simonebuchho. 

About the translator

Rachel Ward translates from German and French to English. Having always been an avid reader and enjoyed word games and puzzles, she discovered a flair for languages at school and went on to study Modern Languages at the University of East Anglia. She spent the third year working as a language assistant at two grammar schools in Saarbrücken, Germany. During her final year, she realised that she wanted to put these skills and passions to use professionally and applied for UEA’s MA in Literary Translation, which she completed in 2002. Her published translations include the Nea Fox series of crime novels by Amelia Ellis, and books for young people such as Traitor by Gudrun Pausewang and Red Rage by Brigitte Blobel.  
Twitter –  @FwdTranslations 

Review ~Turbulent Wake by Paul E Hardisty.

FINAL Turbulent Wake Cover

A stark, stunning and emotive new novel from the bestselling author of the Claymore Straker series

Ethan Scofield returns to the place of his birth to bury his father. Hidden in one of the upstairs rooms of the old man’s house he finds a strange manuscript, a collection of stories that seems to cover the whole of his father’s turbulent life. As his own life starts to unravel, Ethan works his way through the manuscript, trying to find answers to the mysteries that have plagued him since he was a child. What happened to his little brother? Why was his mother taken from him? And why, in the end, when there was no one else left, did his own father push him away? Swinging from the coral cays of the Caribbean to the dangerous deserts of Yemen and the wild rivers of Africa, Turbulent Wake is a bewitching, powerful and deeply moving story of love and loss … of the indelible damage we do to those closest to us and, ultimately, of the power of redemption in a time of change.

‘This is a remarkably well-written, sophisticated novel in which the people and places, as well as frequent scenes of violent action, all come alive on the page…’ Literary Review


Today I am once again sharing my review of this wonderful thriller as part of Orenda October. 

I’m usually found gushing about any book published by Orenda Books for good reason.  Today is no different. Turbulent Wake is a profoundly moving read about love, loss and discovery.

Yes there are moments of violence, but what has stuck with me, is the writers understanding of human nature and the things we fear the most, the passing of time and our own mortality.  Within a few pages he describes the passing of time in such clarity and with such tenderness that it took my breath away, for what we think of as an ocean of time stretched out before us, turns ‘out to be only a teardrop ‘. I often sit back and wonder how I have suddenly woken up one day to discover I’m older than my father was when he died and yet it seems only yesterday that he walked out of our door never to return.  For its the quiet moments at the heart of this novel that make it so special to me, in speaking about some of my greatest fears, yet still managing to entertain on so many levels.

This story in just overflowing with moments that seemed to speak directly to me and for that it will always sit front and centre amongst my favourite reads.  I often find myself thinking, after a passing comment, if the person speaking to me really understands who I am and if I even understand myself. One of my biggest regrets is never being able to get to know my dad as an adult and so the central narrative of this book, Ethan getting to know his father, through the pages of writing he left behind, resonated with me. For the engineer in writing of himself, in death gifts his son understanding, not just about the secrets he kept, but of how they shaped them both.

Both father and son are damaged and deeply flawed, just like us all and the writer explores how the effects of  fractured relationships have repercussions that reverberate through the generations that follow.  He takes us back and forth in time as we learn of the young engineers past and then back to the present and how Ethan rudderless and incapable of sustaining a relationship, begins to understand how similar they are and how understanding his father he can understand himself.

So why read this book? To learn if Ethan learns from his father’s words.  To understand how the engineers past shaped him, but also to spend time with these two wonderful characters and be moved by both the story and how it speaks to us as readers.

You can purchase this novel from Amazon and Waterstones

About the author

Paul Hardisty Author Pic

Canadian Paul Hardisty has spent twenty-five years working all over the world as an engineer, hydrologist and environmental scientist. He has roughnecked on oil rigs in Texas, explored for gold in the Arctic, mapped geology in Eastern Turkey (where he was befriended by PKK rebels), and rehabilitated water wells in the wilds of Africa. He was in Ethiopia in 1991 as the Mengistu regime fell, and was bumped from one of the last flights out of Addis Ababa by bureaucrats and their families fleeing the rebels. In 1993 he survived a bomb blast in a café in Sana’a, and was one of the last Westerners out of Yemen before the outbreak of the 1994 civil war. Paul is a university professor and CEO of the Australian Institute of Marine Science (AIMS).The first four novels in his Claymore Straker series, The Abrupt Physics of Dying, The Evolution of FearReconciliation for the Dead and Absolution all received great critical acclaim and The Abrupt Physics of Dying was shortlisted for the CWA John Creasey (New Blood) Dagger. Paul is a sailor, a private pilot, keen outdoorsman, conservation volunteer, and lives in Western Australia. Follow him on Twitter @Hardisty_Paul

Review – The Big Chill by Doug Johnstone

The Big Chill Cover

Running private investigator and funeral home businesses means trouble is never far away, and the Skelf women take on their most perplexing, chilling cases yet in book two of this darkly funny, devastatingly tense and addictive new series!

Haunted by their past, the Skelf women are hoping for a quieter life. But running both a funeral directors’ and a private investigation business means trouble is never far away, and when a car crashes into the open grave at a funeral that matriarch Dorothy is conducting, she can’t help looking into the dead driver’s shadowy life.

While Dorothy uncovers a dark truth at the heart of Edinburgh society, her daughter Jenny and granddaughter Hannah have their own struggles. Jenny’s ex-husband Craig is making plans that could shatter the Skelf women’s lives, and the increasingly obsessive Hannah has formed a friendship with an elderly professor that is fast turning deadly.

But something even more sinister emerges when a drumming student of Dorothy’s disappears and suspicion falls on her parents. The Skelf women find themselves sucked into an unbearable darkness – but could the real threat be to themselves?

Following three women as they deal with the dead, help the living and find out who they are in the process, The Big Chill follows A Dark Matter, book one in the Skelfs series, which reboots the classic PI novel while asking the big existential questions, all with a big dose of pitch-black humour.


Today as part of Orenda October I am republishing my review of the second in the series of novels that feature the Skelfs family. It’s a wonderful series! 

I have been looking forward to this novel from the day I finished the last pages of the first in the series, A Dark MatterThe Big Chill is a superb sequel! Equal parts exciting, terrifying, deeply moving and heart warming. It has a caste of strong supportive women. and storylines so beautifully written, that the complex web of interconnecting cases flow together with ease,  It is like sitting down snuggled up in your favourite reading chair, curled up in your cwtch (think of it like a snug) and reading a book that just feels utterly perfect.

I adored once again spending time with Dorothy, Jenny and Hannah, the Skelfs, who are the most wonderful intergenerational undertakers and private investigators you could hope to meet. They are absolutely my very favourite set of characters, flawed yes, it’s what makes them interesting, but they also all have a heart of gold, they care about those they bury and the living for whom they help track down missing husbands etc. What comes across even more in The Big Chill is how much they care for each other, grandmother, mother, daughter will always be the very best matriarchy, a cherished dream, that seek to help others, while protecting each other.  Here they are having to face up to the consequences and events that took place in A Dark Matter, but they do this together, reaching out to each other when the mental and physical anguish threatens to overwhelm them and it simply made me love them all the more.  Dorothy is the seventy year old head of the family, but put aside your misconceptions, she is no doddery old lady who sits in the background, while her family solve the crimes and bury the deceased. She is in fact, looking forward to the future, considering a new and potentially meaningful relationship and putting her heart and soul into helping those in need. Her daughter Jenny is a battered and bruised former reporter, now finding herself as The Big Chill progresses more and more comfortable in the role of Private Investigator. Then Hannah, deeply sensitive, fragile and yet passionate and brave, makes up this trio of perfectly balanced characters. Then Doug Johnstone surrounds them with supporting characters that form an ensemble of such richness and diversity, you really feel as if your walking through the streets of Edinburgh, not in the pages of a book, but there with them, within their lives, sharing their triumphs and also their pain.

The Big Chill is made up of several narrative arcs which are woven into the fabric of the story. There is the tragic death of a young man, Hannah and her friendship with a professor that has deadly consequences, the mystery around one of Dorothy’s young students and the continuing and terrifying influence of Jenny’s ex-husband over all their lives.  Now that might sound too many, but I promise you it isn’t! All the individual stories tie together and flow effortlessly in and out of each other. The writing catches you up within it’s embrace and very much like with the characterisation, makes you feel as if you are in Edenborough. The sense of place within is pitch perfect, I felt as if I was sat with Jenny as she talked with the cities homeless. I ached for Hannah as she fought her own pain, fears and obsessions and I hoped with a tangible pang in my chest that Dorothy would take the first tentative steps in a life without her beloved husband.  Doug Johnstone made me feel all of this and more, in a novel that is far from being chilly as any book can be, he gives us pain, even violence, but at it’s magnificent heart are the Skelfs and I can’t wait to read more. More and more.

I would like to thank the author, publisher and blog tour organiser for the ARC in return for an honest review.

You can purchase The Big Chill from AmazonWaterstones and directly from the publisher in their ebookstore.

About the author 

Doug Johnstone Author Pic

Doug Johnstone is the author of ten novels, most recently Breakers (2018), which was longlisted for the McIlvanney Prize for Scottish Crime Novel of the Year. Several of his books have been bestsellers and award winners, and his work has been praised by the likes of Val McDermid, Irvine Welsh and Ian Rankin. He’s taught creative writing and been writer in residence at various institutions, and has been an arts journalist for twenty years. Doug is a songwriter and musician with five albums and three EPs released, and he plays drums for the Fun Lovin’ Crime Writers, a band of crime writers. He’s also player-manager of the Scotland Writers Football Club. He lives in Edinburgh.

Follow Doug on Twitter @doug_johnstone and visit his website:

Review- A Dark Matter by Doug Johnstone

Dark Matter Cover

Three generations of women from the Skelfs family take over the family funeral-home and PI businesses in the first book of a taut, page-turning and darkly funny new series.

Meet the Skelfs: well-known Edinburgh family, proprietors of a long-established funeral-home business, and private investigators… When patriarch Jim dies, it’s left to his wife Dorothy, daughter Jenny and granddaughter Hannah to take charge of both businesses, kicking off an unexpected series of events.

Dorothy discovers mysterious payments to another woman, suggesting that Jim wasn’t the husband she thought he was. Hannah’s best friend Mel has vanished from university, and the simple adultery case that Jenny takes on leads to something stranger and far darker than any of them could have imagined.

As the women struggle to come to terms with their grief, and the demands of the business threaten to overwhelm them, secrets from the past emerge, which change everything…

A compelling, tense and shocking thriller and a darkly funny and warm portrait of a family in turmoil, A Dark Matter introduces a cast of unforgettable characters, marking the start of an addictive new series.


Today as part of Orenda October I am reposting my review of this wonderful book. The start of a wonderful family drama, it is definitely one of my all time favourite series! 

After finishing this book, my first thoughts were this book is bloody fantastic and the second, delight that it is the start of a new series.

So why is it so special?

There is a strong and I mean strong, ensemble cast of female characters who shine from the pages. They are expertly crafted and an absolute joy to spend time with. Dorothy, Jenny and Hannah are a rarity in fiction; they are the central characters in a story that reflects both their differing ages, but also the strength and diversity of their lives. From the pitch perfect description of Dorthy’s grief, her revaluation of her marriage and life, Jenny’s self destructive life and young Hannah’s search for answers about her friends disappearance and relationship with both her mum and nan, we have a portrait of a family consumed by grief, yet at the same time, the strength and love that binds them together. The Skelfs are utterly believable and captured my heart and soul as the story progressed through layers of dark comedy and danger. This is a tale about the things that bind us as families, how the ebb and flow of love pushes us apart, but always pulls us together. They are remarkable women, you fee; their pain, their love for each other, their reliance on this network that binds them and you wish, or I did and still do, that I could just spend some time with them. So real, you could almost reach into the pages and take a seat beside them.

Of course, this is also a thriller and a perfect one at that; there is both danger and twists that hit you like you have been sucker punched and struggle to catch your brief as the shock subsides. You need not worry if you’re after a thriller that will knock you off your feet, because this one will. But for me, it is lifted up into the, I wish I could award it a sack full of stars catergory, by those moments in the novel that deal with their grief at the death of patriarch Jim. Within the first few pages you become a witness not only to their loss, but a stunning depiction of his funeral and cremation that rocked my reading world, so intense, so real did it feel, that I had to take a step back before I carried on reading. It is simply like no other book I have ever read. Just for those few pages and Dorothy’s search for answers, I would happily pay any price the publisher asked of me. It is simply mesmerising and rewarding on every level.

Add to that a mystery disappearance to be solved, a husband accused of cheating, three incrediable women and you have a story, that will rock you reading world, make you laugh, cry, gasp in shock, but best of all, it will

My thanks to author and the publisher for the ARC in return for an honest review.

You can purchase this book from Amazon and Waterstones

About the author

Doug Author Picture

Doug Johnstone is the author of ten novels, most recently Breakers (2018), which was longlisted for the McIlvanney Prize for Scottish Crime Novel of the Year. Several of his books have been bestsellers and award winners, and his work has been praised by the likes of Val McDermid, Irvine Welsh and Ian Rankin. He’s taught creative writing and been writer in residence at various institutions, and has been an arts journalist for twenty years. Doug is a songwriter and musician with five albums and three EPs released, and he plays drums for the Fun Lovin’ Crime Writers, a band of crime writers. He’s also player-manager of the Scotland Writers Football Club. He lives in Edinburgh. Follow Doug on Twitter @doug_johnstone and visit his website:

Review ~ The Closer I Get by Paul Burston


A compulsive, disturbingly relevant, twisty and powerful psychological, social-media thriller from the bestselling author of The Black Path

.Tom is a successful author, but he’s struggling to finish his novel. His main distraction is an online admirer, Evie, who simply won’t leave him alone. Evie is smart, well read and unstable; she lives with her father and her social-media friendships are not only her escape, but everything she has. When she’s hit with a restraining order, her world is turned upside down, and Tom is free to live his life again, to concentrate on writing. But things aren’t really adding up. For Tom is distracted but also addicted to his online relationships, and when they take a darker, more menacing turn, he feels powerless to change things. Because maybe he needs Evie more than he’s letting on. A compulsive, disturbingly relevant, twisty and powerful psychological thriller, The Closer I Get is also a searing commentary on the fragility and insincerity of online relationships, and the danger that can lurk just one ‘like’ away…


Today as part of Orenda October I am re sharing my review of this chilling and accomplished thriller.

Psychological thrillers should by anyone definition be thrilling, make you feel on edge and rack up the tension as you read.

I’d like to share a little story, to show how from page one, this novel does all this and more. I started The Closer I Get in the waiting room of the Doctors surgery. Just routine tests I have all the time, nothing to worry about, yet this time after a few pages of this superb book, my blood pressure was up, when normally it’s fine. Relax the nurse suggested, think nice thoughts. I desperately tried not to think of the chilling opening of the book, but still it was too high for her liking, so I thought nice, non stakerish and whoopie it was back to normal. This book seriously leaves you on edge and that is backed up by my practice nurse!

Move to the following Saturday. There I am sitting quietly in my garden and bam, the tension ramps up to another level. I could’t help it, I exclaimed loudly, OMG, F**k! Not sure what my neighbours thought, but if they had asked, I’d have told them, this book is amazing, its unnerving and I just didn’t want to put it down. It really is the perfect illustration of the often touted description on book covers that loudly proclaim ‘edge of your seat reading’. Now I love my brother and niece, but when they knocked the door that Saturday (I still have no idea why they didn’t use their key), when I only had 15% left to read, for a millisecond, I actually considered not answering the door! I just wanted to read on and on.

That’s how good this book is, it’s like being embraced in your worst nightmare, except you have a get out clause, this is not your life, for Tom it is and you feel like you’re teetering on the edge with him.

The story itself is the perfect depiction of the seedier side of social media and its power to shock, is because anyone of us, by one random like on a post, could be caught up in this nightmare. The writer gives us the perfect depiction about obsession, exploitation and the downsides to living a life open to all on social media. Tom, who is neither perfect, or always likeable, becomes the victim of an online troll, a young women, who comes to believe she is closer to him than she really is. This obsession comes to affect both his physical and mental health. But is Tom’s sometimes questionable decision making, the course of this, or is Evie delusional, insecure and damaged, the real victim in all this? Throughout the book, my mind was changed, as the clever writing wharped my initial perceptions of what is actually going on and I changed my mind about who the real victim was!

When so many are telling us that creating an online presence is essential to our personal brand, this book is a powerful, exciting and relevant depiction of living a life in an age of all consuming social media.

You can purchase this novel from Amazon and Waterstones.

About the author

Paul Burston Author Photo .jpeg

Paul Burston is the author of five novels and the editor of two short story collections. His most recent novel ‘The Black Path’, was longlisted for the Guardian’s Not The Booker Prize 2016 and was a bestseller at WH Smith. His first novel, ‘Shameless’, was shortlisted for the State of Britain Award. His third novel, ‘Lovers & Losers’ was shortlisted for a Stonewall Award. His fourth, ‘The Gay Divorcee’, was optioned for television. He was a founding editor of Attitude magazine and has written for many publications including The GuardianThe IndependentTime OutThe Times and The Sunday Times. In March 2016, he was featured in the British Council’s #FiveFilms4Freedom Global List 2016, celebrating “33 visionary people who are promoting freedom, equality and LGBT rights around the world”. He is the founder and host of London’s award-winning LGBT+ literary salon Polari and founder and chair of The Polari First Book Prize for new writing.

You can follow the author on Twitter

Review ~Breakers by Doug Johnstone.

Breakers Final Cover

Seventeen-year-old Tyler lives in one of Edinburgh’s most deprived areas. Coerced into robbing rich people’s homes by his bullying older siblings, he’s also trying to care for his little sister and his drug-addict mum. On a job, his brother Barry stabs a homeowner and leaves her for dead, but that’s just the beginning of their nightmare, because the woman is the wife of Edinburgh’s biggest crime lord, Deke Holt. With the police and the Holts closing in, and his shattered family in devastating danger, Tyler meets posh girl Flick in another stranger’s house, and he thinks she may just be his salvation … unless he drags her down too. A pulsatingly tense psychological thriller, Breakers is also a breathtakingly brutal, beautiful and deeply moving story of a good kid in the wrong family, from one of Scotland’s finest crime writers.


Doug Johnstone is one of my favourite authors and so today I am re sharing my review of Breakers, originally reviewed on booksaremycwtches in May 2019.

What can I say about this book, other than it is bloody fantastic.  It had me engrossed throughout. The story is all too plausible and full of the gritty reality of life on the edge of a city, tucked away from the romance of Edinburgh tourist laden streets.

The atmosphere is incredible, you can feel the tension ebbing off the pages, the threatening events and living nightmate than envelopes Tyler and his family.  I was so engrossed in the story, I forgot to turn out the lights at night and get some sleep. It all felt so real that when I did, I’m struggled to sleep, because I felt so unnerved and the slightest noise had me wondering who might be around.  For me that’s the mark of a top notch thriller, when it gets so far under your skin and sets the nerve endings firing on all cylinders.

On top of this, the story is quite moving in places. Tyler is forced into crime by an brutal brother, while caring for his little sister and drug addicted mother and his situation is written with a understanding of what poverty and hopelessness can do to a underclass robbed of all hope. Tyler is written with a survival instinct as part of his very being, which is sad because a child should never have to face the horror and violence which is part of his very existence. I found it near impossible to judge him for some of his actions, so nuanced was the writing and so real he felt to me as a reader.

Superb in its ability to distract me from real life troubles, addictive in that I found it near impossible to put down, Breakers by Doug Johnstone will certainly feature in my favourite reads of 2019.

You can purchase this novel from Amazon and Waterstones

About the author

Doug Johnstone

Doug Johnstone is an author, journalist and musician based in Edinburgh. He’s had eight novels published, most recently Fault Lines. His previous novel, The Jump, was a finalist for the McIlvanney Prize for Scottish Crime Novel of the Year. Several of his other novels have been award winners and bestsellers, and he’s had short stories published in numerous anthologies and literary magazines. His work has been praised by the likes of Ian Rankin, Val McDermid and Irvine Welsh. Several of his novels have been optioned for film and television. Doug is also a Royal Literary Fund Consultant Fellow. He’s worked as an RLF Fellow at Queen Margaret University, taught creative writing at Strathclyde University and William Purves Funeral Directors. He mentors and assesses manuscripts for The Literary Consultancy and regularly tutors at Moniack Mhor writing retreat. Doug has released seven albums in various bands, and is the drummer for the Fun Lovin’ Crime Writers, a band of crime writers. He also reviews books for The Big Issue magazine, is player-manager for Scotland Writers Football Club and has a PhD in nuclear physics. Follow him on Twitter @doug_Johnstone and visit his website:

Review ~ The Lingering by Susi Holliday.

The Lingering front FINAL

Married couple Jack and Ali Gardiner move to a self-sufficient commune in the English Fens, desperate for fresh start. The local village is known for the witches who once resided there and Rosalind House, where the commune has been established, is a former psychiatric home, with a disturbing history. When Jack and Ali arrive, a chain of unexpected and unexplained events is set off, and it becomes clear that they are not all that they seem. As the residents become twitchy, and the villagers suspicious, events from the past come back to haunt them, and someone is seeking retribution… At once an unnerving locked-room mystery, a chilling thriller and a dark and superbly wrought ghost story, The Lingering is an exceptionally plotted, terrifying and tantalisingly twisted novel by one of the most exciting authors in the genre.


With Orenda October in full flow I’m sharing a review originally posted back in 2018. The Lingering is compelling and darkly thrilling!

Well in keeping with the title,  this book lingered in my mind long after I finished reading the last page.  Eerie and unsettling throughout, it’s a masterful creation, part thriller and part gothic drama.

Jack and Ali have come to Rosalind House to start again, but the past is leaking through time into the present and setting off a disturbing series of events.

I could list a whole bunch of reasons I loved this book, but for me my favourite element is the tension that builds up like unstoppable force by the end. So much so, that your almost too scared to turn the page, in case your faced even more terrifying events. Where the skill of the writer comes in, is in taking you to the edge of what’s bearable, without terrifying you so much you can’t read on. I was sat firmly with the lamp on, with someone in the house at all times and I loved every second.  Atmosphere is paramount in these types of books and S J I Holliday gives it to us with a lot of va- va -voom.

Another thing I loved about the Lingering is the combination of gothic drama/thriller and ghostly mystery. The story is incredibly creepy and chilled me to the bone. By combining three different genres, you get a story that grabs you and holds you in its embrace in more than one way. Your thrilled by the modern elements of the psychological thriller, the twists and turns, obsession and the mind games. Then scared by the ghostly happens and fascinated by the historical drama that seeps from the past into the present. For me it was the perfect combination and made a story tantalising and addictive in equal measure.

I’ve always believed that houses retain the memories of those that lived there in the fabric of the building and for me that made Rosalind House as much a character in this book as Jack and Ali. The writing creates a palpable sense of lingering fear that inhabits the walls and surrounding grounds, with the entry of a new couple setting off a terrifying chain of events. I loved the brooding nature of the story, created in part by setting it in an old house, in parts neglected and forever haunted. As for the human characters they fit in perfectly, everyone one of them in something hidden in their pasts, but it’s hard to know if they are deadly secrets or if the malign influence of the house that is altering their personalities as we read.

Reminder to self. If giving up life in an increasingly chaotic and scary world to check into a commune, ensure it’s not one dreamed up by the mind of one SJI Holliday!

Seriously this is a top class chilling read.

You can purchase The Lingering from Amazon, WaterstonesKobo and Foyles.

About the author

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S.J.I. (Susi) Holliday is a pharmaceutical statistician by day and a crime and horror fan by night. Her short stories have been published in many places and she was shortlisted for the inaugural CWA Margery Allingham prize with her story ‘Home from Home’, which was published in Ellery Queen Mystery Magazine in spring 2017. She is the bestselling author of the creepy and claustrophobic Banktoun trilogy (Black Wood, Willow Walk and The Damselfly) featuring the much loved Sergeant Davie Gray, and the festive serial killer thriller The Deaths of December. Her latest psychological thriller is modern gothic with more than a hint of the supernatural, inspired by her fascination and fear of ghosts.

You can follow the author on Twitter and her website.

A Cut-Wound (The Inspector Gowda Series) by Anita Nair

It’s the first day of Ramadan in heat-soaked Bangalore. A young man begins to dress: makeup, a sari, and expensive pearl earrings. Before the mirror he is transformed into Bhuvana. She is a hijra, a transgender seeking love in the bazaars of the city.

What Bhuvana wants, she nearly gets: a passing man is attracted to this elusive young woman—but someone points out that Bhuvana is no woman. For that, the interloper’s throat is cut. A case for Inspector Borei Gowda, going to seed, and at odds with those around him including his wife, his colleagues, even the informers he must deal with. More corpses and Urmila, Gowda’s ex-flame, are added to this spicy concoction of a mystery novel.

Most intriguing is the grim world of Bhuvana. Her hijra fantasies, emotions, and hopes are etched in a way that is chilling yet oddly touching. Some mysteries remain till almost the end, for instance Bhuvana’s connection with the wealthy, corrupt Corporator Ravikumar, who lives in a mansion as grand as the Mysore Palace and controls whole districts of Bangalore.


I have read a lot of thrillers over the last few years and was starting to feel a little jaded! I needed something that felt different, had an exotic hint to it and then came along A Cut Like Wound!

Set in the heat-soaked streets of Bangalore it it features a host of transgender characters, eunuchs, jaded police officers and a mystery around the death of a group of unrelated men. It’s all this combined that marked it out for me, making it feel sultry and unfamiliar. It was almost beguiling in the way the story was infused with an exotic mixture of characters and landscape, creating a backdrop from which the story was able to wrap itself around my imagination. Set so far away from my own reality, it lured me in and held me tight, buffeted from the world around me.

Finding a transgender character in any murder mystery is rare, too rare! So Bhuvana was a delight to me and I hope will be to many other readers. Seductive, deeply damaged and with a mind fractured by events buried deep in her past. You know as a reader that her actions are wrong, but the writer makes her feel so deeply wounded and you can’t help feel oddly touched by her duel personalities, which fluctuate like waves throughout the text. I know this sounds wrong, but I wanted her to find peace and love. The writer makes it clear from the beginning her involvement with the killings, the mystery coming from the identity of her alter ego and how Inspector Borei Gowda and his associates bring them to justice.

Now I admit I do find thrillers that use jaded, worn down Policemen as the protagonist a little too predictable, but given the setting it fits, because female police are a minority and only a tiny percentage hold supervisory positions. Realism and authenticity required Gowda to be male and he carries his tortured, worn out air of unfulfillment well. Writer Anita Nair making me sympathise with his dissatisfaction with his life. We can all identify with this jaded, frustrated, intelligent man, who just wants to stop a killer, but finds his attempts foiled by corruption and bureaucracy. He was by the end of the novel one of my favourite police officers and that is saying something, given the number of thrillers I’ve read.

It felt odd wanting the killer to escape justice and yet at the same time wanting the police officer to also bring their reign of terror to an end! But the writer created in me this unsettling feeling of conflicted loyalties and I really liked it. Exotic and intoxicating A Cut Wound by Anita Nair is the start of what I hope is a new series of thrillers to come.

You can purchaser this novel from Amazon

About the author

Anita Nair lives in Bangalore and is a prize-winning author. Her novel Ladies Coupe, published in the United States by St. Martin’s Press, is a feminist classic which has been translated in thirty languages all over the world. This is her first crime novel.

You can follow the author on Twitter @anitanairauthor