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A Cut Like Wound By Anita Nair

A Cut Like Wound‘A Cut Like Wound’ is the latest book by Anita Nair and is the first book in The Inspector Gowda Series.

So sit back and enjoy an extract from the Indian story.

MONDAY, 1 AUGUST
It wasn’t the first time. But it always felt like the first time as he stood in front of the mirror, uncertain, undecided, on the brink of something monumental. On the bare marble counter was a make-up kit. He ran his finger along the marble to check for dust. Only when he was satisfied that it was clean did he touch the quilted cover of the lid. The satin shirred under his fingers. Something leapt in him, a wave of pure delight that was enough to set him off.

A giggle emerged. A snickering sound of pure joy, girlish glee and unfettered excitement.

He switched on the series of light bulbs that circled the mirror. The electrician had stared when he had asked for the light bulbs to be placed so. The electrician’s assistant had sniggered and asked his boss, ‘Why does he want so many lights? Who does he think he is? Rajinikant? Is he going to put make-up on?’

But he had set his heart on it after seeing it in a film. And so he had frowned and said in his coldest voice, ‘If you don’t know how to, I can always find someone else.’

That had settled it.

In the mirror, he gazed at himself just once. Fleetingly. Then it was time. He opened the kit and started working quickly with a practised hand. The concealer to cover the shadows on his chin and around his mouth. The foundation, the fine creamy talc to smoothen the complexion, eyes enhanced with the kohl pencil, and a twirl of the mascara brush on the eyelashes for the wide-eyed look. He wet the tip of his finger with Vaseline and traced his eyebrows. A pat of blush and then carefully he outlined his lips with a lip pencil and filled it with a deep pink lipstick. He pressed his lips together and applied a coat of gloss. Glistening lips smiled shyly at the reflection in the mirror.

He took a tissue from a box and carefully wiped the counter. Marble was like skin, it showed up how it was used. He crumpled the tissue into a ball and flicked it into the bin. Then he stepped out of the track pants he was wearing and hung it from a hook behind the door. He averted his eyes as he slid off his briefs and, making a moue of his lips, tossed it into the basket that held the T-shirt he had been wearing.

Naked and wearing just his painted face, he walked out of the bathroom. Then he paused and went back again to the dressing table. He opened a drawer in which were six vials of the finest attar.

He opened the stoppers one by one and sniffed at the mouth of the perfume vial. Nag Champa. Raat Shanthi. Roah al Oudh. Shamama. Moulshree. And his favourite, Jannat ul firdous.

He chose Shamama. Tonight he would be a garden of flowers. A complex scent would herald his arrival and trail his footsteps.

The last door of the walk-in wardrobe was locked. Only he had access to it. He hummed under his breath as he opened the door. Green, green, tonight he felt like wearing green, he told himself as he pulled out a shimmery green chiffon sari.

From one of the drawers, he pulled out a pale-green petticoat and blouse. Then, with a smile, a padded bra and the matching panty. He was still humming as he adjusted the blouse and pinned the sari so it hung low, showing off his waist and his navel piercing. He touched the topaz in his navel. A frisson of excitement unfurled in him.

From the shelf on top, he chose a wig of waist-length hair. He placed it on his head and, as he looked into the mirror, something about the way his eyelids drooped told him who he wanted to be tonight.

With elaborate care he arranged himself so he was the woman from a Ravi Varma painting, fresh from a bath. He brought his hands to his chin and laced his fingers so the tip of the forefinger of the right hand touched the edge of his lower lip.

Hair to her knees, loose and flowing. The sari clasped between fingers, an attempt to cover herself but hinting at the nakedness of her breasts. The fullness of flesh. Shy, yet seeking more. All woman.

He laid out the earrings. He always wore the same pair. Old-fashioned pearl earrings with hooks so he didn’t have to fumble with screws. He clipped a necklace around his neck and slid glass bangles on both wrists. The tinkle of green glass as he lifted the hem of the sari and stepped into two- inch-high green-and-beige sandals made him smile again.

You can buy ‘A Cut Like Wound’ from Amazon.

The Postscript Murders By Elly Griffiths

The Postscript Murders‘The Postscript Murders’ is the latest book by Elly Griffiths.

The death of a ninety-year-old woman with a heart condition should absolutely not be suspicious. DS Harbinder Kaur certainly sees nothing to concern her in carer Natalka’s account of Peggy Smith’s death. But when Natalka reveals that Peggy lied about her heart condition and that she had been sure someone was following her. And that Peggy Smith had been a ‘murder consultant’ who plotted deaths for authors, and knew more about murder than anyone has any right to. And when clearing out Peggy’s flat ends in Natalka being held at gunpoint by a masked figure.Well then DS Harbinder Kaur thinks that maybe there is no such thing as an unsuspicious death after all.

This is the first book that I’ve read by Elly Griffiths and it was an absolute joy from start to finish.

The story begins when elderly woman Peggy Smith is found dead in her care home accommodation. No one thinks her death is suspicious as she’s 95 but when friends of hers are robbed at gun point for a book, the amateur sleuths and DS Harbinder Kaur begin to think otherwise.

Peggy’s carer Natalka, a straight talking Ukrainian, an ex monk called Benedict and a retired radio presenter called Edwin begin their own investigation into Peggy’s death and they soon discover that Peggy was more than just a fan of crime novels. Peggy actually assisted with the books, helping authors with the plot line and creating interesting ways for a character to die. Her official title was a “murder consultant” and this awarded her to be created in some of the most successfully crime novels and as soon as she has died, so also has some of the authors she helped along the way.

Whilst her friends are investigating the deaths in their spare time, DS Harbinder is busy trying to stay one step ahead of the friends much to her frustration as they discover evidence and information before her. I loved Harbinder, an Indian woman who’s family were wondering if she’d ever settle down with a nice man when Harbinder would prefer to settle down with a nice woman. Her interactions with her partner Neil also made for entertaining reading, he’s a simple man and she often compared his interactions and behaviours as to that of a woodlands creature and adds an element of wit to the story.

I really enjoyed this story, it’s cleverly written with a collection of characters that made for fun and suspenseful reading. The trio of friends are an interesting mix of characters, Benedict is a quiet man adjusting to life outside the priesthood and having feelings towards Nathalka. Nathalka is sharp and observant and having left the Ukraine to attend university in England, fears that her past is following her and Edwin is gentle, old soul who’s enjoying the adventure and the opportunity to be out and about.

The cosy crime thriller to enjoy on the these cold Autumn evenings, ‘The Postscript Murders’ is a gripping and fascinating book that is perfect for fans of Agatha Christie.

You can buy ‘The Postscript Murders’ from Amazon and is available to buy from good bookshops.

Hermit By S.R White

Hermit‘Hermit’ is the latest book by S.R White.

After a puzzling death in the wild bushlands of Australia, detective Dana Russo has just hours to interrogate the prime suspect – a silent, inscrutable man found at the scene of the crime, who disappeared without trace 15 years earlier. But where has he been? Why won’t he talk? And exactly how dangerous is he? Without conclusive evidence to prove his guilt, Dana faces a desperate race against time to persuade him to speak. But as each interview spirals with fevered intensity, Dana must reckon with her own traumatic past to reveal the shocking truth.

‘Hermit’ is a quite a somber and perculiar story that was initially a slow burner but once it got flowing, l quickly found myself absorbed in the story.

The story is about police detective Dana, who on the day that she is due to be off from work, gets called in for a murder case.

The main suspect is a quiet man called Nathan Whittler who’s found in the store where the owner has been fatally stabbed. Nathan is a reclusive character who hasn’t spoken to anyone in 15 years and has no fixed abode. Dana has been given 12 hours to solve the crime and break down Nathan’s barrier. But the day in which all this happens, is an anniversary that Dana prefers to spend alone.

The premise to this story is an intriguing one with a quiet and reflective detective who’s skill is to read people and get them to open up. Nathan is a complex character, having disappeared 15 years leaving no trace, he’s become detached from human interaction and his vulnerability is exposed when Dana interrogates him. The scenes with Dana and Nathan make for interesting reading, as much as Dana wants Nathan to tell the truth, she’s also protective of her vulnerability and sees some similarities in Nathan, as they both harbour pasts and secrets.

The story is set in the Australian outback and this makes for the perfect setting for the intense and claustrophobic story.

The book is a suspenseful story that really pulled me in, the story is cleverly crafted with flawed and sympathetic characters that the reader feels a connection with. I found Dana quite fascinating with her troubled past and her interactions with the colleagues who add an element of humour to the otherwise dark story.

One thing that troubled me about the story was that there wasn’t a proper reveal to the significant day that changed Dana’s life. Throughout the story, there were many references to the Day and made it to be quite a big part to the story and for not to properly reveal it. I found it to be quite disappointing. My only thoughts for this, was maybe the author was leaving it open for another book and if that’s the case, I’d readily read the book

A mysterious and thrilling story with an exciting plot line, ‘Hermit’ is a gripping tale that was impossible to put down.

You can buy ‘Hermit’ from Amazon and is available to buy from good bookshops.

A Song Of Isolation By Michael J. Malone

A Song Of Isolation‘A Song Of Isolation’ is the latest book by Michael J. Malone.

Film star Amelie Hart is the darling of the silver screen, appearing on the front pages of every newspaper. But at the peak of her fame she throws it all away for a regular guy with an ordinary job. The gossip columns are aghast: what happened to the woman who turned heads wherever she went? Any hope the furore will die down are crushed when Amelie’s boyfriend Dave is arrested on charges of child sexual abuse. Dave strongly asserts his innocence, and when Amelie refuses to denounce him, the press witch hunt quickly turns into physical violence, and she has to flee the country. While Dave is locked up with the most depraved men in the country and Amelie is hiding on the continent, Damaris, the victim at the centre of the story, is isolated – a child trying to make sense of an adult world.

I’ll be honest when I settled into reading this book, I was unaware of the synopsis, so it was a bit of blind reading on my part, but I think that was the reason why I was genuinely enthralled with this story, a story of redemption, guilt and revenge.

The story is about successful actress Amelie Hart who on the day is deciding that she is going to break up with her partner Dave, is arrested for abusing their neighbours’ little girl. Ironically on this day, Dave is intending to propose to Amelie. The story then follows the couple as they go through the next few years with this allegation hanging over them, Dave serves a prison sentence even though Dave has always maintained his innocence. Whilst being in the public eye, Amelie is hounded by the press and by trolls on social media and decides to relocate to France to set up a new life and identity for herself. And Damaris, the little girl who accused Dave of the assault is left dealing with the scars of the accusations and abuse.

The multiple narratives to this story give it an interesting slant. Dave is a kind man, who has fought for his innocence and is serving his time with some of the worst people in the world and he is considered to be one of them which is heartbreaking to read in some parts. I genuinely liked Dave and as the story progressed, we see him regain some strength and belief in himself, but it’s saddening how the ordeal has impacted on his relationships with Amelie and his parents, who were there supporting him throughout. Amelie is also an interesting character, she’s a timid character who has experienced something significant in her past that impacted on her career and made her take a step back from the spotlight. So Dave’s allegation is public, it brings back memories of unhappier times and also shows Amelie who are her friends and who are enemies when everyone has an opinion on the situation. There are many unfortunate characters in this book and Damaris is one of them. Young, naive and stuck in the middle of an unhappy marriage.

I thought it was clever for the story to begin with the moment that Dave is arrested for the crime. At that point the reader hasn’t formed an opinion on him and think that he’s evil creature that the press and neighbours have portrayed to be.

A gripping and cunning story that really pulls the reader in, ‘A Song Of Isolation’ is a complex and dark story that delves into the dark side of human traits, exploring relationships, greed and the sinister world of the paparazzi, this book was a finely tuned thriller.

You can buy ‘A Song Of Isolation’ on Amazon

The Watcher By Kate Medina

The Watcher‘The Watcher’ is the latest book by Kate Medina.

The Fullers are the picture-perfect family, a wealthy couple with a grand home in the middle of remote woodland. But even they have something to hide – and it will prove fatal. Psychologist Dr Jessie Flynn and DI Marilyn Simmons arrive at the Fuller’s home to find a suburban nightmare. A crime scene more disturbing than anything they have ever encountered. Jessie knows that this is no random act of violence. And if she can’t unlock the motivation behind the crime and shine a light into this killer’s mind, the Fullers won’t be the only family to die.

Like anyone else, I enjoy a good crime and police procedure book, but I have to admit that I did find ‘The Watcher’ to be an extremely unsettling and somewhat sad story.

The story is primarily is seen through the perspective of Psychologist Dr Jessie Flynn, as she tries to get into the head of a killer who has killed 5 people in a disturbing and gruesome fashion, with their eyes being removed and time is off the essence to prevent them for making another killing. But every time Psychologist Dr Jessie Flynn and DI Marilyn Simmons, think that they are getting somewhere with the case, they are thrown another curveball preventing them from making an arrest. The story is also seen from the perspective of the victims of the murderer and every time a new person is introduced, I found myself tensing up preparing for their unfortunate end.

This is the fourth book in the Jessie Flynn series but it’s actually the first book for me, but the author thoughtfully included some back story to the characters, so the reader wasn’t lost. Jessie is an interesting character and has had her own experience with tackling with mental health and that’s probably, why she chose that particular career path. But it’s obvious that this case isn’t going to be an easy one to solve, especially as the murderer doesn’t leave any clues behind. But as Jessie looks into building profile of the killer, she discovers that the killer has a connection with animals particularly dogs and she ends up adopting a Huskie called Lupo who was the pet of the killers’ first victim and this quiet dog becomes part of her small family and helps her solve some clues along the way.

Kate spent 5 years in the Territorial Army and studied Psychology and she has used her knowledge for both areas in this dark, psychological story. The story is filled with police procedures and a deep insight into the human psyche and what makes a person react in such a cruel way. This book is a tense and gruesome story from the start, with unlikable and sympathetic characters that made for disturbing reading but equally I found it hard to put down. A story of revenge and morality, ’The Watcher’ is a cleverly crafted story that is a perfect for fans of police procedures, but be warned, it’s not for the faint hearted!