Review – Who is Vera Kelly? by Rosalie Knecht

New York City, 1962. Vera Kelly is struggling to make rent and blend into the underground gay scene in Greenwich Village. She’s working night shifts at a radio station when her quick wits, sharp tongue, and technical skills get her noticed by a recruiter for the CIA.

Next thing she knows she’s in Argentina, tasked with wiretapping a congressman and infiltrating a group of student activists in Buenos Aires. As Vera becomes more and more enmeshed with the young radicals, the fragile local government begins to split at the seams. When a betrayal leaves her stranded in the wake of a coup, Vera learns war makes for strange and unexpected bedfellows, and she’s forced

to take extreme measures to save herself.


I think my review should be titled ‘Vera Kelly I Love You’!

Who Is Vera Kelly by Rosalie Knecht is a magnificent depiction of a feisty, flawed and brave heroine during a time of civil; war and repression. Best of all she is a spy! Full of wit, a wealth of original characters. it eschews the male dominated spy novels of John Le Carre and delivers a female led tale. To add spice and variety Rosalie Knecht combines the spy thriller, with a strong historical background, a lesbian heroine with a natural talent for espionage, making the narrative original, witty and often emotional.

It is sad to say that a lesbian character is still an original and rare find in well written in 2021. A quite depressing thought in want is a more enlightened era, so finding Vera Kelly and reading about her adventures was an absolute joy! The writer by making her complex, avoids all the clichés that tend to dominate this genre, she is brave and resourceful, but also vulnerable and troubled. She also pushes the boundaries of the genre by revealing how the past shapes the future by alternating chapters of danger laden adventures in Buenos Aires, with ones that take us on a journey into Vera’s past, her troubled childhood and coming out. Building the character up in stages, she feels both real and fractured, so much so, you can imagine with little effort, Vera walking the streets in the real world! We get to know her in a way that feels intuitive, she doesn’t land in our reading imagination fully formed, but we slowly begin to understand why she is a loner, why she has landed herself in Buenos Aires as a spy for the CIA. By not telling the story in a liner fashion it all feels more subversive and reflects the uncertainty Vera’s life is caught in, the uneasy world she is having to navigate.

Vera is gay, but this is not what defines her, it is simply who she is and I will say this again, she is magnificent! She strides through a complex and yet easy to read story and importantly, is never overshadowed by events. Just as important is that her sexuality and back story never distract the reader from the story itself, they combine together in a way that creates emotional depth and nuance in a genre, not known for character led drama. I loved how the story weaves in an out of the present and the past, how we are one minute in the streets of Buenos Aires, then the suburbs of America. The repression of the authorities against it’s own people might seem at first something that only affects the people caught up the tumultuous events of a coup, but Rosalie Knectht draws parallels with the oppression felt by LGBT+ people in New York City., showing that this novel can be read on so many levels. The stories subtext making it not just a spy drama as well as a tale of adventure, but a story that allows us to see the connections between two seemingly different worlds.

Above all, it’s a fun, entertaining and witty tale that opens it’s arms wide to all readers and says come in and meet Vera Kelly. Getting to know her is fun and there is never a dull moment. Rosalie Knecht has delivered the drama I feel like I have been waiting for, for years. Remarkably she does so by not writing a niche narrative that will be squirrelled away on a shelf labelled LGBT + fiction, but will sit proudly on the amassed ranks of tables we walk past in the windows of Waterstones.

I loved it so much, I already have the second novel featuring Vera on pre-order!

You can purchase this novel from Amazon and Waterstones.

About the author

Photo by Seze Devres for Ace Hotel New York

Rosalie Knecht is the author of Who Is Vera Kelly?Vera Kelly Is Not A Mystery and Relief Map. She is also the translator of César Aira’s The Seamstress and the Wind (New Directions). She lives in New Jersey.  

Over Her Dead Body by A B Morgan

Gabby Dixon is dead. That’s news to her…

Recently divorced and bereaved, Gabby Dixon is trying to start a new chapter in her life.

As her new life begins, it ends. On paper at least.

But Gabby is still very much alive. As a woman who likes to be in control, this situation is deeply unsettling.

She has two crucial questions: who would want her dead, and why?

Enter Peddyr and Connie Quirk. husband-and-wife private investigators. Gabby needs their help to find out who is behind her sudden death.

The truth is a lot more sinister than a simple case of stolen identity.

Over Her Dead Body is a ‘what if’ tale full of brilliantly drawn characters, quirky humour and dark plot twists


I have been a fan of this author’s books since she published her very first novel. They are always exciting, full of well though out nerve tingling twists and turns. Each written in such a way that they are a joy to read. So when I received a copy of Over Her Dead Body, I started reading it with eager anticipation and boy was rewarded with yet another top quality thriller.

In this her latest novel A B Morgan treats us to a story of a life ended, on paper at least. Gabby Dixon is forced to fight to regain control of events that are spiralling out of control around her, or face ruin and possibly death. She hires a husband and wife team of private detectives to discover who has launched such a horrifying vendetta against her.

What I loved about Over Her Dead Body was how the writer delivered a multi layered tale of betrayal, with complex levels of character development and managed to avoid losing control of the narrative, delivering a story that worked on so many levels. It felt at all times like I was sat on the edge of my seat, my chest twittering with anticipation, anxiety spiralling out of control. A B Morgan created those emotions, by writing a story which never loses it’s sense of pace. Best of all, she lays false trails for you to follow, so that when the next twist hits, I literally didn’t see them coming.

The way she weaves events around Gabby is exceptional, because pace and narrative are backed up with superb characters. I whipped through the chapters at a rate of knots because I had to know what happened to her and who was ultimately responsible for the terrifying events consuming Gabby. This came about because A B Morgan made me care about this vulnerable person, ensuring she was not a one dimensional character, regulated to a supporting role in her own story. So many thrillers make the victim a simple helpless pawn, but here Gabby is an integral part of events. This made me more invested in her troubles and her ultimate fate! Especially poignant was how the writer used her mental health background to draw a character, whose hidden depths are full of fractured and displaced memories, anxieties that lead to impulsive acts, all of which make her much easier to manipulate. Believability making her spiralling loss of control all the more chilling!

In support she introduced a range of characters, some with more active roles than others, all of whom I thought were at one point or another responsible for Gabby’s life unravelling around her. There is the disgruntled sister, who was written with an innate understating of sibling rivalries and how destructive they can become. Then there is a creepy neighbour and spectre’s from past events, sending ripples into the story, to muddy the waters and unbalance the readers perception of events.

Best of all are Peddyr and Connie Quirk, whom I loved both for their skills as private defectives, their intelligence and their warmth. So often the police or private detectives are written as grumpy. moody characters and it was a breath of fresh air to meet a more light hearted depiction that didn’t lesson their roles in the story. I’m so glad we will get to meet them again, because they bring a sense of amused calm to the story. They act like guides through the possible scenarios, helping the reader to understand the complex narrative and by the end they feel like friends you really want to spend more time with. Lucky for us we will!

You can purchase this book from Amazon

About the author

Alison Morgan: A former mental health nurse, country bumpkin at heart, married to a hairy biker, fascinated by words, loves live music and she has an innate ability to make people smile and laugh.

Her crime thrillers have a strong cast of characters helping to define the style and pace of each story inspired by her life, her career and her fascination with the extremes of human behaviour.

AB Morgan, critically acclaimed author of crime mystery and suspense, has been applauded for being refreshingly different within the genre.

You can follow the author on Twitter.

Review- Cerebral Palsy A Story by Ilana Estelle. Finding the cam after the storm.

Living with cerebral palsy is enormously difficult. But what if you never knew you had it?

This is the incredible story of Ilana Estelle.

Born the second of premature twins, an hour apart, from a young age Ilana knew she was different, but for all the wrong reasons. A child of the 60s, Ilana experienced first-hand the way that disability was, at the time, so often brushed under the carpet, not spoken about. Her constant physical and mental struggles made her feel isolated, alone, frustrated, and misunderstood. It took 46 years for her to find out why.

Part memoir, part motivational guide, Cerebral Palsy: My story is Ilana’s open and honest journey from an angry, confused child, knowing something was wrong, not knowing what was wrong, what her disability was, or that there was a diagnosis – to the ‘real’ her – a courageous woman using her experiences and lessons to create inspiring messages about mental and physical health, resilience and change.


I admit to having mixed feelings about this book, but that overall I found it to be a well written account of a journey to enlightenment and from that, to acceptance of the writers uniqueness.

What I thought I was going to get is more of an autobiography, but that was a secondary part of this unique publication and it’s main message, which it handled well, helping others to find balance in life, though self discovery and motivational learning. Though I found some of the her thoughts around spirituality a little jarring, her advice around a wide range of issues such as why you should remain upbeat, the connection between physical health and mental health were inspiring and left me in both a reflective mood and gaining a greater understanding of why I should choose positivity over negativity.

She grew up never understanding why she struggled with school and why learning was difficult for her as a child and it wasn’t until she was forty-six that she learned why! Her disability was never talked about, growing up in the sixties, it was hidden and this left her isolated and often angry. Finding out in later life she had Cerebral Palsy led her to build a life based on an honesty and knowledge. From this she set up a blog, charting how she changed her life and outlook.

The strongest part of this book, is the call to arms that disability should not be hidden, that the uniqueness of each disabled person be celebrated and they be given access to a life without limits. Ilana’s voice is at its most powerful when it is advocating for everyone of every disability to be given the right to equality, that one of societies greatest shames is how often, we still prefer not to be confronted by what makes us feel uncomfortable.

She choose to know longer be hidden and worked to find a better acceptance of herself. She blogged about her life and experiences, health and well-being and her book Cerebral Palsy follows a similar style, short snappy sections that deal with a wide range of self help techniques and how they shaped her life.

It is easy to dip in and out of and could act as a good reference when you find yourself struggling and in need of a reminder of Finding Calm After The Storm and how changes in lifestyle and belief system can help us all find our calm place.

You can purchase this book from Amazon and Waterstones.

About the author

Ilana was born with a disability she didn’t know she had until the age of 46, when through her medical notes she discovered she had been diagnosed with cerebral palsy at the age of 2.

That discovery turned out to be a unique and life-changing experienced that has forced Ilana to stand back and look at her life experiences differently. On her late diagnosis, Ilana set up her website The CP Diary and uses her experiences to explore her emotional and physical health, with inspiring messages advocating resilience and change.

Ilana likes to spend her days writing and blogging about anything that contributes to her health and wellbeing. She is an animal advocate and is passionate about environmental issues. When she is not writing, or tending to her blog, Ilana enjoys days out exploring the Yorkshire countryside.

Ilana lives with her husband and their much-loved cat, in Yorkshire. Her grown up son and daughter both live in London.

You can follow her on Twitter @TheCPDiary

Reading From My Ever expanding Book Pile -The Girl With The Louding Voice by Abi Dare.

I don’t just want to be having any kind voice . . .
I want a louding voice.

At fourteen, Adunni dreams of getting an education and giving her family a more comfortable home in her small Nigerian village. Instead, Adunni’s father sells her off to become the third wife of an old man. When tragedy strikes in her new home, Adunni flees to the wealthy enclaves of Lagos, where she becomes a house-girl to the cruel Big Madam, and prey to Big Madam’s husband. But despite her situation continuously going from bad to worse, Adunni refuses to let herself be silenced. And one day, someone hears her.


As we start a new reading year and try to move forward, we all need to find some hope of brighter days to come. The Girl With The Louding Voice by Abdi Dare is a novel that shines with that very thing we all need right now, hope!

It has been described by others as captivating, sparkling, beautiful and it is indeed all of these and more. It is joyful, often emotional, sometimes a painful read, one that will forever remind us, that where loss and despair reside, hope and the human capacity to strive for better will always exist.

One of the most remarkable things about it, is how Abi Dare has managed to deal with some difficult subjects, yet deliver a novel that captivates both the heart and the soul of the reader. It’s a story about daughters forced into marriage at a young age in a society that undervalues the worth of it’s women, slavery and physical violence. Reading that description, you would be expecting a novel that is heart breaking, yet it is not. For it is a work that celebrates Adunni’s refusal to remain a victim, her bravery and determination to find her own voice amongst the maelstrom of abuse and violence that surrounds her.

Abi Dare gives Adunni a voice that grows as the novel progresses, becoming louder and more determined. As a character traumatised by events in her home village, she progresses her to a young women with a voice and it is that voice which gives the novel it’s heart and its strength. The lead characters determination to not be silenced and to change the path others have forced her to take, to one in which she has control over her destiny, is what makes this story as well as the writing both intensely moving and deeply affecting.

As a character Adunni is warm, brave and resilient in the face of loss and betrayal. The writer never tries to downplay battles she faces, but lifts them up and shines a light on them, so we can see truth and celebrate her search for her louding voice. She writes a narrative that comes from the tradition of issue led novels which spark conversations and bring taboo subjects into the light. It also gives her voice an authentic lilt, broken English at first, for as she saysNow I know that speaking good English is not the measure of intelligent mind and sharp brain. English is only a language, like Yoruba and Igbo and Hausa”. It is not how Adunni articulates her thoughts which makes her such an amazing character, it is her spirit, the light that shines in the deepest part of her being and how she uses her voice. The narrative takes her from having her words trapped within her chest, scared and subservient to her father, to a character that as she changes and finds her voice, growing with the support of others, shines from the page “the words running bright, a ribbon of fire, of hope”.

The Girl With The Louding Voice was the first book I finished in 2021 and I’m already certain that it will feature in my favourite reads this year!. What a stunning start to any reading year!

You can purchase this novel from Amazon and from Waterstones.

About the author

Abi Daré grew up in Lagos, Nigeria and has lived in the UK for over 18 years. She studied law at the University of Wolverhampton and has an M.Sc. in International Project Management from Glasgow Caledonian University. Keen to improve her writing, Abi completed an MA in Creative Writing at Birkbeck University of London, achieving a Distinction. Her novel, THE GIRL WITH THE LOUDING VOICE won The Bath Novel Award in 2018 and was selected as a finalist in The Literary Consultancy Pen Factor competition in 2018. Abi lives in Essex with her husband and two children.

Review ~Advent by Jane Fraser

Winter, 1904, and feisty twenty-one-year old Ellen has been summoned back from her new life in Hoboken, New Jersey, to the family farm on windswept Gower, in a last bid to prevent the impending death of her alcoholic father. 

On her return, she finds the family in disarray.  Ailing William is gambling away large swathes of Thomas land; frustrated Eleanor is mourning the husband she once knew; and Ellen’s younger twin brothers face difficult choices.

Ellen, tasked with putting her family’s lives in order, finds herself battling one impossible decision after another.  Resourceful, passionate, and forthright, can she remain in Gower, where being female still brings with it so many limitations?  Can she endure being so close to her lost love?  Will she choose home and duty, or excitement and opportunity across the Atlantic?


I am a massive fan of the books published by this small and unique publisher, that specialises in publishing welsh women’s fiction, with it’s office located on the site of my old University, Aberystwyth! Each novel gives a voice to stories with Wales at their centre, in the fine tradition this nation has of producing high quality poetry and prose.

Advent by Jane Fraser tells the story of twenty-one year old Ellen, who returns to her childhood home to spend time with her ailing dad. Drawn back into an intricate web of family ties, old and painful connections, she must decide if her future lies in the traditions of the Gower or America, a land of infinite possibilities.

What Jane Fraser does in Advent is deliver a story that draws on the Celtic traditions around story telling, rooting her narrative firmly in the beauty of the Welsh landscape, celebrating how it can be drab and dreary, yet how both the weather and land have shaped the people of Wales.

Within the story she has given us a group of wonderful characters, prominent amongst them are the women of the Gower, full of strength and resilience, shaped not just by the landscape around them, but the limits society placed on their roles outside the home. The story is set around Ellen who has tasted freedom in America, but on returning home, finds that she can not ignore the troubles of her family, but yearns for the freedom from expectations life in America symbolised. Ellen is as a character, the perfect combination of that welsh longing for a home that once left you can never really return to, that intense grief for the places of your past, your homeland (hiraeth) and the American dream of opportunity and mobility. The conflicts this cause, informs both her personality and her journey through the novel and how we as readers watch the battles played out both in her heart and mind, to see which ultimately will triumph. It is a journey that both enthralled me and left me wishing that at some point, we could return to this character to find out, if her decision brought her both peace and prosperity and a true understanding of the meaning of home.

The story evokes feelings of longing within the reader and manages to be both epic in the tale it tells of a family struggling to find certainty in a time of change and intimacy from the way the writer weaves the bounds between it’s family members. Jane Fraser with an infinite understanding of the land the story is set in, weaves an intense emotional tale of the people and the lives they lived in this period. She shines a light on the role of the women who held the threads of each of their families existence within their embrace, holding disaster at bay, but at the same time often forced to deny both their own longies and desires. Ellen is shown in this wonderful story as one in a long line of women, from her grandmother, through her mother, who shaped both limits life in Wales would offer her, while shaping the desire for change and fulfilment on her own terms.

As a book it is a complex tale of family and relationships and our connections to each other. It is also a homage of women who helped shape the landscape around them. I for one, look forward to the what Jane Fraser will do next!

You can purchase this novel directly from the publisher Honno Press, Amazon and Waterstones. You can also order it from your local Indie Bookshop.

About the author

Jane Fraser Her debut novel, Advent , is published by Honno, the UK’s longest-standingindependent women’s press, in January 2021. Her first collection of short fiction, The South Westerlies was published by Salt, the UK’s foremost independent publisher of literary fiction, in 2019.

You can follow the author on Twitter at @jfraserwriter

Reading From My Ever Expanding Book Pile- Rust by Eliese Colette Goldbach

Eliese wasn’t supposed to be a steelworker. Raised by staunchly Republican and Catholic parents, Eliese dreamed of escaping Cleveland and achieving greatness in the convent as a nun. Full of promise and burgeoning ideals, she leaves her hometown, but one night her life’s course is violently altered. A night that sets her mind reeling and her dreams waning. A cycle of mania and depression sinks in where once there were miracles and prayers, and upon returning home she is diagnosed with mixed-state bipolar disorder.

Set on a path she doesn’t recognize as her own, Eliese finds herself under the orange flame of Cleveland’s notorious steel mill, applying for a job that could be her ticket to regaining stability and salvation. In Rust, Eliese invites the reader inside the belly of the mill. Steel is the only thing that shines amid the molten iron, towering cranes, and churning mills. Dust settles on everything – on forklifts and hard hats, on men with forgotten hopes and lives cut short by harsh working conditions, on a dismissed blue-collar living and on what’s left of the American dream.

But Eliese discovers solace in the tumultuous world of steel, unearthing a love and a need for her hometown she didn’t know existed. This is the story of the humanity Eliese finds in the most unlikely of places and the wisdom that comes from the very things we try to run away from most. A reclamation of roots, Rust is a shining debut memoir of grit and tenacity and the hope that therefore begins to grow.


Rust has sat on my too read pile of books for a while and suddenly when I was looking for my next non-fiction read it called out to me! Sent out as proof, but with no set date to be reviewed, it sat in a corner patiently waiting to be read, while more recent ARCs got read first. Well having read it, I would like to say to anyone that has it on their book shelf, push it to the top of your pile, because it is stunning.

The author Eliese Goldbach was never meant to end up working in a steel mill, from a young age she dreamed of becoming a nun. But a series of heart breaking events led her to Cleveland’s Steel Mill. From this journey she has written a memoir of startling honesty and emotional depth. It ranges from her childhood, her dreams of escaping her hometown to find greatness in a life dedicated to religious work, to a shocking event that led to a decent into cycles of depression and mania, then finally a redemption of sorts by returning full circle to the towering structures of the steelworks, that had been there in the background her entire life.

What I found remarkable about this book, is the author’s journey, so if your looking for a book about the steel making process, then this is not the book for you.

This is a book about people and society. For those working in the mill including the author, it was not just a place of work, but a community, their differences being the very glue that bound them together, despite widely differing views about politics, because the making of steel was part of their identity, it was who they were. Thanksgiving dinners eaten together, breakfasts made on cooking stoves in the shanties scattered throughout the mill, gossip shared and bounds strengthened by events bigger than their differences

She writes with a understated passion and with an innate understanding of people and events. Her detailing of a society riven by it differences is the most moving and perceptive part of this book, especially the parts where she talks about how Trump and others like him came to power.

He offered us scapegoats and outrage to mask our anxieties, which blinded us to the fact that he was just another rich, powerful man who wanted to gain more power on our backs. He fed us vengeance, and he stoked our anger. He crippled the good in us, which meant that he never really understood the delicate beauty we were fighting to defend.

Rust – One Woman’s Story of Finding Hope Across The Divide by Eliese Colette Goldbach. Page 137.

Add into the mix her honesty about how being bi-polar effected both her relationships and her life in general and you have a work that is deeply moving and inspiring.

You can purchase Rust from Amazon and Waterstones

About the author

Eliese Colette Goldbach is a steelworker at the ArcelorMittal Cleveland Temper Mill. She received an MFA in nonfiction from the Northeast Ohio Master of Fine Arts Program.

Book Review ~ The Art Of Dying by Ambrose Parry

There’s a fine line between kill and cure.

Edinburgh, 1849. Despite Edinburgh being at the forefront of modern medicine, hordes of patients are dying all across the city, with doctors finding their remedies powerless. But it is not just the deaths that dismay the esteemed Dr James Simpson. A whispering campaign seeks to blame him for the death of a patient in suspicious circumstances.

Simpson’s protégé Will Raven and former housemaid Sarah Fisher are determined to clear their patron’s name. But with Raven battling against the dark side of his own nature, and Sarah endeavouring to expand her own medical knowledge beyond what society deems acceptable for a woman, the pair struggle to understand the cause of the deaths.

Will and Sarah must unite and plunge into Edinburgh’s deadliest streets to clear Simpson’s name. But soon they discover that the true cause of these deaths has evaded suspicion purely because it is so unthinkable.


What I needed to read right at this moment in time was a book that would not just distract me, but drag me into a world full of amazing characters and a wonderful story. The Art of Dying by Ambrose Parry fitted the bill perfectly, it is laden with atmosphere, packed full of characters that you will love and others you will hate and with a killer that made me shudder with terror.

Good historical drama needs both a sense of place and also a strong feeling of period. You need to feel you are there in Edinburgh 1849, not in your chair, in my case Cardiff in 2020. Ambrose Parry succeeded in making me feel like I was walking the streets with Will Raven and Sarah Parry. It felt dark and dangerous, as the inhabitants were being stalked by a deeply disturbed killer. Not here the modern, bustling streets of Edinburgh many of us are familiar with, but a city filled with menace and danger. I took each step with them, through fog and down into tenements teaming with poverty and criminal activity, then into the homes of the educated and well off, where secrets threatened the lives of our hero’s. The world they inhabited brought alive, by writing that delivered the past into my present in glorious detail and with a thrilling sense of unease.

Also we need characters that belong, that reflect the times they are living in, revealing their frustrations of the time and the dangers they are facing. Creating in Sarah and Raven a need within the reader for them both to survive and flourish. Sarah started life within these books as a maid, but her obvious intelligence has earned her a role of trust and a relationship that celebrates her talent, yet also reflects the barriers that society placed around her, so much so that she is unable to fulfil all her dreams. For the character to be the women determined to clear her employer from wrong doing, she needed to have an inner strength and a refusal to remain constrained by the norms of the times. The writers created in Sarah a character both equal parts reflective of so many women in the 19th Century, but singly unique and astonishingly brave and I absolutely adored her. Raven on the other hand, both annoyed me and frustrated me, he being reflective of a age of men and yet being so fascinatingly flawed, I became within a few pages fascinated by him and utterly in love with his personality. Both characters are so incredibly real feeling, so authentic, that they bring the story alive through the force of their complex personalities.

The story itself is tense and thrilling. It weaves from the continent to the streets of Edinburgh, while drawing us deep into the troubled mind of the killer. It takes us through the frustrations faced not only by Sarah who is constrained by her gender, but also a killer, whose past has shaped and created the monster they have become. While it gives us a male lead, capable of developing and evolving into the type of person that begins to see Sarah as an equal, We are treated to a story that oozes with tension, but is also celebrates the intelligence of its characters and readers alike. From page one to the final revelations, it weaves between quiet moments where characters can reflect and other’s where they are quite literally fighting for their lives. It is superb and very accomplished, a historical drama of the finest type.

I do hope there will be more.

You can purchase this book from Amazon and Waterstones. Even better why not consider ordering from a small independent bookshop?

About the author

Ambrose Parry is a pseudonym for a collaboration between Chris Brookmyre and Marisa Haetzman. The couple are married and live in Scotland. Chris Brookmyre is the international bestselling and multi-award-winning author of over twenty novels. Dr Marisa Haetzman is a consultant anaesthetist of twenty years’ experience, whose research for her Master’s degree in the History of Medicine uncovered the material upon which this series, which began with The Way of All Flesh, is based. The Way of All Flesh was shortlisted for the McIlvanney Prize for Scottish Crime Book of the Year and longlisted for the Theakston Old Peculier Crime Novel of the Year Award.

The Art of Dying is the second book in the series.


Reading From MY Ever Expanding Book Pile. The Doctor Will See You Now – The Highs and Lows of My Life as an NHS GP by Dr Amir Khan

60 hours a week

240 patients

10 minutes to make a diagnosis

Welcome to the surgery.

Charting his 15 years working as a GP, from rookie to becoming a partner in one of the UK’s busiest surgeries, Dr Amir Khan’s stories are as much about community and care as they are about blood tests and bodily fluids.

Along the way, he introduces us to the patients that have taught him about love, loss and family – from the regulars to the rarities – giving him the most unbelievable highs and crushing lows, and often in just 10 minutes. There is the unsuspecting pregnant woman about to give birth at the surgery; the man offering to drop his trousers and take a urine sample there and then; the family who needs support through bereavement, the vulnerable child who will need continuing care for a long-term health condition; and, of course, the onset of COVID-19 that tested the surgery at every twist and turn. But, it’s all in a day’s work for Amir.

The Doctor Will See You Now is a powerful story of hope, love and compassion, but it’s also a rare insider account of what really goes on behind those surgery doors.


I never really watched Behind Closed Doors, being a bit paranoid that the symptoms some patient’s were having might apply to me, but followed the good doctor on Twitter. I was attracted to his sense of humour, his love of nature, the outdoors and his kindness. Based on this I decided to buy his book The Doctor Will See You Now and I’m ever so glad I did! It’s an honest and often emotional story he tells, but it is also deeply funny, full of warmth and an forthright portrayal of life as a community GP.

He talks about the long hours, the pressures of balancing patient facing time, with the almost bone crushing weight of paperwork that makes up so much of a GP’s time. He balances stories of relationships developed over years with patients whose health problems bring with them fears of missing something, with the reward of knowing he has made a difference to their lives, with the frustration of having to deal with violent and threatening personalities whose sense of entitlement, brings danger to the practice.

It is his honesty and sense of inclusiveness that makes this book such a wonderful read, especially how he details how much pressure so many GP’s are under. It is a gentle reminder that doctors are human, with a right to a life away from all our cares and concerns and it has made me reflect on how we may all need to redefine our relationships with our community practices. I loved how this book acknowledges that their are frustration on both sides of the GP relationship and that things have to change and not all innovation is bad.

But at its very core this is a story about life within the NHS, it’s triumphs, it’s frustrations and the sadness, but always the utter joy of knowing that humanity is our greatest gift and Dr Khan has oodles of it. His writing is a joy to read and I hope he goes on to write more.

You can buy this book from Amazon and Waterstones, but you could also consider ordering it from your nearest independent bookshop.

About the author

Dr Amir Khan is a full-time GP living in the UK. He is a GP Trainer, an Honorary Senior Lecturer at both Bradford and Leeds University, as well as being on the advisory board for the School of Pharmacy and Practice Managers Association.

He has appeared on shows such as GPs Behind Closed Doors, How to Lose a stone for Summer and Why Can’t I Sleep? Amir has also been a regular on Lorraine, and numerous other news outlets, providing advice and insight on the coronavirus.

Amir is an ambassador for the National Wildlife Trust, combining his credentials as a GP with encouraging schools and councils to reserve land to learn from.

His hobbies include keeping fit, running, conservation, gardening and keeping on the right side of his mother!

Twitter: @DrAmirKhanGP
Instagram: doctoramirkhan

My Wonderful Reading Year 2020- Favourite Fiction Reads.

Given the year we have had, I am not going to limit myself to my top ten favourite reads, but instead celebrate all the books that I have loved this year.

Here are my very favourite fiction reads from 2020.

These are not in any particular order, but have been chosen, simply because I loved them for many different reasons.

So here we go!

The Dutch House by Anne Patchett

The Bookish Life of Nina Hill by Ali Waxman

Miss Bensons Beetle by Rachel Joyce

You will Be Safe Here by Damian Barr

The Flat Share by Beth O’Leary

Little by Edward Carey

When I come Home Again by Caroline Scott

The Coral Bride by Roxanne Bouchard

The Creak On The Stairs by Eva Aegisdottir

The Big Chill by Doug Johnstone

The Seven Doors by Agnes Ravatn

A Song of Isolation by Michael J Malone

V for Victory by Lissa Evans

The Innocents by Michael Crummey

Betrayal by Lilja Sigurdardottir

Waiting Rooms by Eve Smith

10 Minutes 38 Seconds In This Strange World by Elif Shafak

The Boy, The Mole, The Fox and The Horse by Charlie Mackay

Containment by Vanda Symons

The Binding by Bridget Collins

I Am Dust by Louise Beech

When We Fall by Carolyn Kirby

Ash Mountain by Helen Fitzgerald

Blood Red City by Rod Reynolds

Cow Girl by Kirsty Eyre

The Colour of Bee Larkham’s Murder by Sarah J Harris

The Switch by Beth O’Leary

The Smallest Man by Frances Quinn

WinterKill by Ragnar Jonasson

Well that was 2020. Now to start a new reading year!

My Wonderful Reading Year ~ December 2020.

Welcome to a series of posts that chart my wonderful reading year, 2020. I don’t have the time to review all the books I read and wanted I way to celebrate each one. So I’m going to do a monthly post of all the wonderful books I’ve been reading that month. Short snappy reviews, simple comments about why I enjoyed them so much.

It is a scary world out there at the moment and my reading is suffering, but I am keeping it up and hoping my reading mojo doesn’t disappear totally.

Sending Cwtches to all those that need one.

So welcome to my celebration of my reading in December 2020.

This month started with a non fiction book The Prison Doctor by Dr Amanda Brown. People often have a very warped idea of what life behind the prison walls is like for both prisoners and staff, reading this book with open eyes and minds.

Then I moved onto a wonderful read by Beth O’Leary. The Switch is charming and at the same time it deals with some difficult subjects, such as grief and family estrangement. What is so remarkable about her writing is that despite all of this it doesn’t feel heavy or too taxing to read, especially at the current time, when life is both scary and stressful enough. I discovered her writing, when I was a shadow panel judge on the Women’s Comedy prize for fiction and she has become a firm favourite.

My next read was The Colour Of Bee Larkham’s Murder by Sarah J Harris. Sweet, moving and utterly compelling, it is one of the most original and rewarding murder mystery stories I have read in years.

Following this came another non fiction read, The Doctor Will See You Now by Dr Amir Khan, is moving, informative, very funny in places and a call to us all, the recognise the unique place GP’s have in our lives and our communities.

After this I read a superb historical murder mystery The Art Of Dying by Ambrose Parry. Full of oodles of tension and a collection of amazing characters, it is a highly entertaining read.

Next came a book that has sat on my to read pile for a while, The Mating Habits of Stags by Ray Robinson. Full of atmosphere, stunning characterisation and a story that is both part of the landscape it is set in and reflective of lives that are bound to it.

Rust by Eliese Colette Goldbach is a stunning story of one woman’s journey towards hope in the face of adversity.

Now onto January 2021.