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The Dark Room By Sam Blake

The Dark Room‘The Dark Room’ is the latest book by Sam Blake.

Rachel Lambert leaves London afraid for her personal safety and determined to uncover the truth behind the sudden death of a homeless man with links to a country house hotel called Hare’s Landing. New York-based crime reporter Caroline Kelly’s career is threatened by a lawsuit and she needs some thinking space away from her job. But almost as soon as she arrives, Hare’s Landing begins to reveal its own stories – a 30-year-old missing person’s case and the mysterious death of the hotel’s former owner. As Rachel and Caroline join forces, it becomes clear that their investigations are intertwined – and that there is nothing more dangerous than the truth…

Is there no end to Sam Blake’s talents? When she’s not writing gripping crime thrillers set in rural Ireland, she’s also known as Vanessa O’Loughlin creator of Writing.ie and organiser of the epic Murder One Crime Festival, an annual literary crime festival bringing in some of the world’s finest writers who have their readers gripped with their suspenseful and gory tales.
 
Although I know Sam/Vanessa from attending the events and chatting at events, ‘The Dark Room’ is actually the first book that I’ve read by her.
 
The story starts off with a mysterious person, posting a letter who’s identity and contents of the letter is not revealed. The story then follows on from the perspective Irish natives Caroline and Rachel. Caroline has come to Hare’s Landing Hotel to escape the drama from her job in New York, a successful journalist, her work has come under fire and she’s taking some time to reflect, whilst film location scout Rachel has come to Ireland for a break. After her boyfriend Hunter, was injured in a hit and run and the barge they live on was ruined in a robbery, she’s retreated to Hare’s Landing for some respite but also to try to solve some mysteries about a homeless man called Alfie Bowes that Hunter was working on a documentary with. Both Caroline and Rachel become close friends when they realise there are many mysteries about the hotel.

From the whispered hushes about the former owner called Honoria Smyth who took her own life. The hotel is filled with reminders of the glamorous author and the constant disapproval from the house keeper called Mrs Travers, who dislikes the women’s interest in the history of the opulent surroundings.

The story is riddled with mystery and suspense and as the women delve deeper into the hotel’s history, they begin to see connections to old and new disappearances. The story is set in a small seaside town called Glencurragh and it makes for interesting and insightful reading as the women adjust to being the gossip of the town.

I genuinely loved this story, it’s fast paced, gritty and has so many clever twists riddled throughout that keeps the reader on their toes. Both Caroline and Rachel are great leads, both with a passion for problem solving and curiosity for knowledge and occupied with Rachel’s dog called Jasper, they were a tremendous trio.

A well crafted crime novel combined with small town gossip and a luxurious hotel that’s steeped in history, ‘The Dark Place’ is a chilling and gripping story that’s has menace and suspense dripping from each page in this atmospheric tale.

You can buy ‘The Dark Room’ from Amazon and is available to buy from good bookshops.

Sharon Dempsey Reveals New Book Called Who Took Eden Mulligan?

Who Took Eden MulliganNorthern Ireland author, Sharon Dempsey has revealed her new book for 2021 called ‘Who Took Eden Mulligan?’

What the back cover says –

‘They’re dead. They’re all dead. It’s my fault. I killed them.’

Those are the words of Iona Gardener, who stands bloodied and staring as she confesses to the murder of four people in a run-down cottage outside of Belfast.

Outside the cottage, five old dolls are hanging from a tree. Inside the cottage, the words “WHO TOOK EDEN MULLIGAN?” are graffitied on the wall, connecting the murder scene with the famous cold case of Eden Mulligan, a mother-of-five who went missing during The Troubles.

But this case is different. Right from the start.

Because no one in the community is willing to tell the truth, and the only thing DI Danny Stowe and forensic psychologist Rose Lainey can be certain of is that Iona Gardener’s confession is false….

If this sounds like your type of book, it will be available from the Kindle Store from 18th February 2021 and will be available to buy from good bookshops from 19th August 2021.

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.