Welcome to my belated stop on the Twelve Cosies of Christmas Audio Tour. Thank you to Danielle for the invitation to take part and Ulvercroft for the gifted audiobook.
It’s Christmas at London’s Theatre Royale and journalist Daphne King is determined to solve an extraordinary mystery…
December 1935. Director Monty Harrison’s production of A Christmas Carol has had a troubled run on its tour of regional theatres. With tensions amongst the cast running high, the company reach their final stop—London’s Theatre Royale.
Catastrophe, however, strikes on opening night: Scrooge dies on stage, the result (it is presumed) of a heart attack. But the show must go on. Until, that is, a leading theatre critic—and old rival of Monty’s—is killed backstage. Are those associated with the production being picked off one by one? Budding journalist Daphne King takes up the case…
The 12 Audiobooks of Christmas Audiobook Tour is now firmly a part of my festive reading traditions. This year, I listened to Murder at the Theatre Royale, which is the second book in Ada Moncrieff’s A Christmas Mystery Series.
We are transported to December 1935 as amateur sleuth Daphne King investigates more mysterious murders. It begins with the actor playing Scrooge in A Christmas Carol who drops dead while on stage on opening night at London’s Theatre Royal. Then, when an old rival of Director Chester Harrison is also found dead, Daphne begins to wonder if someone is slowly picking off those involved with the production. There are few clues to follow, but Daphne pieces them together as she tries to unmask the killer before they can strike again.
This was an absolute joy to listen to. The snowy landscape and Christmas setting were perfect for festive listening and the author’s evocative descriptions and old fashioned language merged with the delightful narration to completely immerse me in the story. I was hooked and kept guessing right until the big reveal, the murderer’s identity as much of a surprise to me as it was those involved.
Charming, entertaining and atmospheric, this is cosy festive fun at its best and is the perfect book to listen to this time of year. I’m already looking forward to following Daphne’s escapades again next year.
MEET THE AUTHOR:
Ada Moncrieff was born in London. She studied English at Cambridge University, and has worked in theatre, publishing and as a teacher. Murder Most Festive was her first novel.
Published: May 1st, 2022 Publisher: Isis Audio Genre: Contemporary Fiction, Pensioners in the Pages Format: Audiobook, Paperback, Kindle
Welcome to my stop on the blog tour for this delightful summer read. Thank you to Danielle for the invitation to take part and Isis Audio for the gifted copy of the audiobook.
In the 1970s, the girls were best friends sharing a house and good times: Zara, the famous diva actor; Val, the uptight solicitor; Jackie, the wild child and Pauline, the quirky introvert. Now they’re in their twilight years, and Zara suggests that they live with her to support each other through old age.
Initially, being housemates again is just as much fun as in their heyday. But then Zara reveals the real reason she asked them to move in with her, and suddenly things take a sinister turn.
As the women confront their demons, they come under the spotlight of the press, the police and an angry parrot. With their lives spiralling out of control, can they save their friendships and each other?
“One last hoorah. What do you say.”
Legendary actress Zara is hoping to spend her 80th birthday quietly, but her agent has other ideas and has put together a surprise party. At the event are the three friends she shared a house with back in the 70s. Though they haven’t seen each other in decades, the group share an undeniable bond and spend the evening reminiscing on old times and wondering where the years have gone. Wondering aloud why they are spending their twilight years alone, Zara surprises her friends when she suggests they spend them together, the other women moving into her house so they can recreate the joy of their youth. Though initially reluctant, Pauline, Val and Jackie soon decide to take Zara up on her offer and the adventure begins.
I love a book with older characters at its centre, so when I was offered the chance to listen to The Girls on audiobook as part of this blog tour, I didn’t hesitate. Refreshing, funny and uplifting, it also has a much deeper side of poignant moments, controversial topics and sensitive issues which the author handles with both realism and compassion. It also transports you to sunnier climes, something that is very welcome during the unreliable British ‘summer’.
The four women at the centre of the story are richly drawn and compelling characters, though not particularly likeable at times. Each are very different people and are battling their own demons that are slowly revealed through glimpses into their past. And when Zara’s true motivation for inviting them to live with her is revealed, the women are outraged. I liked their dynamics and how the bonds, friction and struggles were still there after so many years apart. But what I loved most of all is that despite the problems, that bond of true friendship triumphed and they supported each other through some of the most difficult moments they’ve ever faced.
Delightful, entertaining and full of emotion and adventure, The Girls is a feel-good summer story that I highly recommend.
MEET THE AUTHOR:
From Bella’s website:
I’ve been jotting down my stories for as far back as I can remember… well that’s not exactly true. I remember writing a story when I was about nine and I was in Mrs Hurran’s class. The story was about a thief who stole the crown jewels but then didn’t know what to do with them. It went on for pages and pages, in my spiders dance handwriting, so my teacher typed it up and pinned it to the classroom wall. It was a proud day!
Somehow life took over, I got a sensible job and the writing remained a hobby which other people puzzled over and which I adored.
Over the years there have been dalliances into poetry, short stories and five unfinished novels. But I decided that 2013 would be the year that was going to change. I joined the Romantic Novelists Association New Writer Scheme which gave me a deadline to chase – a full length novel had to be completed and submitted for review by 31st August. I beat the deadline by a month!
In 2014 I secured a two book contract with Harper Impulse, part of the HarperCollins Group, and my first novel ‘It Started at Sunset Cottage’ was published in ebook format on 12th February 2015 and paperback on 23rd April 2015. It went on to be shortlisted for the Joan Hessayon New Writers’ Award and the RNA Contemporary Romantic Novel of the Year 2016.
My second book ‘A Family Holiday’ and my fifth ‘A Walk in Wildflower Park’ were both shortlisted for the RNA Contemporary Romantic Novel of the Year!
In 2016 I moved to Avon, which is also part of the wonderful HarperCollins family. My books are released in four digital instalments ahead of the whole story being published a few months later.
2021 saw the publication of two novels: a romantic comedy The Promise of Summer and a bookclub read The Library. The Library was published by a new publisher – Aria, Head of Zeus. 2022 looks like it will be just as busy with The Girls out in April and A Wedding At Sandy Cove being published in July. I can’t believe these will be books ten and eleven!
I was overjoyed to win the RNA Jane Wenham-Jones Romantic Comedy Novel of the Year award 2022 with The Promise of Summer!
In my spare time I love to read, cook with my daughter, plan holidays and rehabilitate rescue hedgehogs.
This is one of the loveliest and most challenging jobs for any actor and Julia Franklin is a passionate enthusiast for audiobooks. She has read everything from romance, historical fiction, sagas and “chick lit” to gritty detective fiction and thrillers. She has combined this with a busy career in broadcasting as a TV and radio presenter and as a voiceover artist. “There are,” she says, “few things more exciting than starting a new book and feeling it beginning to work its magic.”
Welcome to my delayed stop on the blog tour for this gripping thriller. Thank you to Danielle for the invitation to take part in the tour and to Isis Audio for the gifted audiobook.
SOCO Maya Barton is called to a canal where a heavily decomposed male body has been discovered. A bank card belonging to Trevor Dawlish is found in the cadaver’s pocket, and the name matches that of a missing person. All seems straightforward – until Trevor’s wife phones the police to say that Trevor has returned home, leaving Maya and the team wondering who the unknown male is.
When it’s revealed that the male was dead before he entered the water, Maya finds herself with a murder on her hands. But when another body is discovered, the case becomes further complicated. The hope is that facial reconstruction of the first victim will help solve the mystery – but it may lead Maya and her team down an even darker path.
When a heavily decomposed body is found in a canal and a bank card is found in the cadaver’s pocket belonging to Trevor Dawlish it looks like a pretty straightforward case for SOCO Maya Barton and her team. But when Trevor’s wife calls saying he just assaulted her and then disappeared things get more complicated. But the crazy twists in this case are only beginning…
This gripping audiobook packs a punch from the start with a rage-filled prologue that is immediately followed by a gruesome crime scene. I was caught on the author’s hook and on the edge of my seat as I listened. While Shattered Bones is the second in Kate Bendelow’s Maya Barton trilogy, it was my introduction to both the series and the author. Despite this I never struggled to keep up or understand what was happening, making this a great standalone or introduction to the series. The story is skillfully written, the author’s history as a CSI shining through in the gritty, authentic feel and small details.
This story is a tangled web with many threads, some that I found hard to imagine how they wove together. But as the investigation goes on they slowly begin to weave together and I saw the final picture take shape. And it looked nothing like I’d imagined. I love it when a thriller is hard to predict and this one really was, forcing me to reassess my predictions again and again.
Maya is a great protagonist. I found her likeable, interesting, witty and adept. I loved her relationship with her mother Dominique and enjoyed the tension and emotion that their shared history added to the story. I was very invested in this particular thread of the story and listened with my heart in my throat and even tears in my eyes at one point.
Tense, twisty, unflinching and compelling, Shattered Bones was one of my favourite audiobooks yet and I look forward to the final part of this trilogy. A must-listen for anyone who enjoys a really well-written thriller.
MEET THE AUTHOR:
I am the author of The Real CSI: A Forensic Handbook for Crime Writers. I also deliver presentations on the same subject to crime writers. I hope you find The Real CSI a useful resource.
Bloodhound Books are the publishers behind the SOCO Maya Barton trilogy. It’s crime fiction with a twist, as the main protagonist is a scene of crime office rather than a detective. The first two books in the series are Definitely Dead and Shattered Bones and are perfect for you if you’re interested in forensics crime scene investigation.
I’m delighted to be opening the blog tour for the chilling Mr. Todd’s Reckoning. Thank you to Isis Audio for the gifted audiobook.
Behind the normal door of a normal house, in a normal street, two men are slowly driving each other insane. One of them is a psychopath. The father: Mr Todd is at his wits’ end. He’s been robbed of his job as a tax inspector and is now stuck at home…with him. Frustrated. Lonely. Angry. Really angry. The son: Adrian has no job, no friends. He is at home all day, obsessively chopping vegetables and tap-tap-tapping on his computer. And he’s getting worse, disappearing for hours at a time, sneaking off to who-knows-where. The unholy spirit: In the safety of suburbia, one man has developed a taste for killing. And he’ll kill again.
“I do only what has to be done. What I have to do.”
An ordinary man on an ordinary street is hiding grim secrets in this dark and sinister thriller.
The story is told in the form of Mr. Todd’s diary entries, which he has been advised to keep to fill his day and to work through his feelings after a difficult time in his life. At first he seems like a man down on his luck who’s frustrated at where he has ended up in life and feels like he doesn’t deserve what has happened to him. It is a slow-burner and I admit I found it hard to get into at first. But a blogger whose opinion I trust had rated it as one of her favourite books this year so I decided to persist. I am thankful I did as things began to pick up and I soon found myself completely immersed in this story full of secrets that I was desperate to unlock.
“I think it is time now… that I write about what I’ve kept hidden deep inside me for a while.”
The protagonist lives with his adult son, Adrian, who I think is neuro-diverse but his father views as weird and annoying. He spends a lot of time worrying what he is up to and that he’s getting into trouble again. It is here that the first seeds of suspicion and something ominous appear as we worry that Adrian is hiding a terrible secret as his father tries desperately to unravel it. But it soon becomes clear that is in fact Mr. Todd who has the secret, and we begin to see the first glimpses of the real man lurking beneath his harmless façade.
“Although I have ended lives, I do not consider myself a bad sort of chap.”
Malcolm Todd is a chilling creation who is so realistic that it sent shivers down my spine. He is a miserable, bitter, angry and judgmental man who thinks he’s more intelligent and better than everyone else. He also has a real sense of entitlement about everything in life. He’s one of those people where things are always someone else’s fault and anything he did wrong he was forced to do or had no other choice. He made me so angry, but it was these awful things about him that made him so compelling as I find the damaged and twisted psyche of these kinds of people fascinating. He was brilliantly written and I can understand the comparisons to Norman Bates as he definitely gave me that vibe too.
Claustrophobic, menacing and unnerving, this subtle and slithering psychological thriller will leave you wondering just who and what is lurking behind your neighbours’ doors…
Iain Maitland is the author of Sweet William and Mr Todd’s Reckoning, both published by Contraband, an imprint of Saraband. Mr Todd’s Reckoning has been optioned for TV by AbbottVision. His next book, The Scribbler, the first in the Gayther & Carrie detective series, is published by Contraband in May 2020.
Michael Simkins trained at RADA. He has appeared in more than 70 plays, stage highlights include A View from the Bridge at the National Theatre as well as musicals Chicago and Mamma Mia. He also directed Alan Ayckbourn’s Absent Friends at the Greenwich Theatre. He has made countless TV appearances – recent credits include Foyle’s War and My Family – as well as turns on the silver screen in such films as Mike Leigh’s Topsy-Turvy. He has worked with luminaries as diverse as Anthony Perkins, John Malkovich, Michael Gambon and Buster Merryfield. He lives with his actress wife Julia in London.
Published: June 3rd, 2021 Publisher: Isis Audio Genre: Mystery, Crime Fiction, Cozy Mystery, Contemporary Fantasy Format: Paperback, Kindle, Audio
Welcome to my stop on the blog tour for Strange Tricks. Thank you to Danielle for the offer to take part, and to Isis Audio for the audiobook ARC.
Rosie Strange is back in the latest of the fabulously creepy Essex Witch Museum Mysteries
Secretly Rosie Strange has always thought herself a little bit more interesting than most people – the legacy her family has bequeathed her is definitely so, she’s long believed. But then life takes a peculiar turn when the Strange legacy turns out not just to be the Essex Witch Museum, but perhaps some otherworldly gifts that Rosie finds difficult to fathom. Meanwhile Sam Stone, Rosie’s curator, is oddly distracted as breadcrumb clues into what happened to his missing younger brother and other abducted boys from the past are poised to lead him and Rosie deep into a dark wood where there lurks something far scarier than Hansel and Gretel’s witch…
Witty, entertaining, mysterious and slightly sinister, Strange Tricks is my favourite audiobook experience yet. From it’s eerie opening chapter until the final sentence, this had me hooked. The combination of the vivid imagery, brilliant writing and fabulous narration was spectacular, bringing the characters and story to life so powerfully that it felt like they were in the room with me.
While this was a mostly comedic and lighthearted story, there were some darker, more sinister elements too. The author writes these as skillfully as the rest of the story, literally giving me chills as she describes the shocking, macabre and depraved sights that Rosie is confronted with. Let me say that I’m glad I was listening in daylight.
Rosie is one of the most fun, fabulous, bubbly, charismatic and feisty characters I’ve read. I loved her immediately and she is the sort of woman I’d love to be friends with. She had me in stitches with her overactive imagination and hilarious and saucy quips and is a fantastic protagonist who gripps and entertains the reader, making it impossible to stop reading or listening. The background characters were just as richly drawn, creating a great cast I enjoyed following. I liked the romantic tension between Rosie and Sam, and the added mystery surrounding the death of her mother, Celeste, when she was a baby. I liked that the author included flashbacks in the form of extracts from Celeste’s diary, allowing us to build an image of who she was and learn more about her at the same time Rosie did and I’m looking forward to seeing where this element of the story goes in future installments.
If you’re looking for a first-rate mystery that is full of humour, heart and will also give you the heebie-jeebies, Strange Tricks is the book for you. Charming, tense and addictive, I couldn’t get enough of Rosie and will be buying and listening to the other books as soon as possible.
MEET THE AUTHOR:
Before embarking on a career in education, Syd worked extensively in the publishing industry, fronting Channel 4’s book programme, Pulp. She was the founding editor of Level 4, an arts and culture magazine, and is co-creator of Super Strumps, the game that reclaims female stereotypes. Syd has also been a go go dancer, backing singer, subbuteo maker, children’s entertainer and performance poet, She now works for Metal Culture, an arts organisation, promoting arts and cultural events and developing literature programmes. Syd is an out and proud Essex Girl and is lucky enough to live in that county where she spends her free time excavating old myths and listening out for things that go bump in the night.
After graduating from Bristol University and joining The Bristol Old Vic Julia Barrie has worked extensively in Theatre; in rep, touring both nationally and internationally, as a member of the RSC, at the Old Vic and Royal Court and in the West End at The Duke of York’s and the Theatre Royal Haymarket. For BBC Radio she recorded Anthony Shaffer’s Widow’s Weeds and her TV and film credits include Prisoners’ Wives, The Commander, Doctors, Close Relations, Our Friends in the North, Out of Bounds, Ghost in the Machine and Five Greedy Bankers.
Published: March 1st, 2021 Publisher: Lume Books Format: Audio, Kindle, Paperback Genre: Thriller, Mystery
Today I’m thrilled to be closing the audiobook blog tour for The Abduction. Thank you to Lume Books and A. A. Chaudhuri for the gifted copy of the book.
The gripping sequel to Amazon bestselling thriller, The Scribe.
Kramer and Carver are back…
Madeline Kramer has finally got her life back on track at top City law firm Sullivan, Blake, Monroe. But when two armed, masked men burst into a conference room one lunchtime, kidnapping a trainee and a partner, Maddy’s life is plunged into disarray once more—particularly when charismatic DCI Jake Carver, who caught a heartless killer when they last met and with whom Maddy shared a mutual chemistry, is called to the scene.
Things become more complicated when a disturbing video reveals two more trainees have been taken. What initially appears as a random kidnapping for mercenary gain soon evolves into something far more complex, the horrifying events of thirty years ago motivating the abductors and having colossal implications for those in the present…
Against a backdrop of sleaze, sex, lies and murder in The Abduction, Maddy and Carver must work together to unravel the truth, and ensure that no crimes—past or present—are left unpunished.
The Abduction is the thrilling second installment in the Kramer & Carver series. I was delighted to be asked to review this book for an audiobook tour, something I’ve never done before.
The series follows lawyer Madeline Kramer and DCI Jake Carver. In this installment, the story opens with kidnappers storming the offices of Sullivan, Blake, Monroe, the top City law firm where Madeline now works, and abducting three trainees and a senior partner. As DCI Carver investigates, he discovers that the kidnappings are linked to dark, terrifying events thirty years ago and that this is a fight for justice both in the past and present.
I’ve not yet read the first book in this series but the author succinctly catches you up and never leaves you feeling out of the loop. The protagonists and supporting cast of characters are fascinating and richly drawn with compelling, intricate backstories that entwine them far deeper than we first imagine. The combination of the great writing and narration made it feel like they were in the room with you, transporting you into their world and the dark, twisted secrets of the staff at Sullivan, Blake, Monroe.
I liked Kramer and Carver and found them to be interesting and compelling protagonists. They were a great investigative team and I enjoyed the chemistry that sizzled between them. Though they tried to fight it, I was rooting for them to give in to how they felt for each other.
I enjoyed listening to this gripping, action-packed thriller. While it did take me a little while to warm to the narrator, I soon found myself hooked by the story and enjoying his riveting narration.
The Abduction is a multilayered, pacy and twisty story of decades old secrets, sex, lies, power, greed and vengeance that will have you on the edge of your seat. I will be reading the first book in this series and am looking forward to book three.
MEET THE AUTHOR:
A. A. Chaudhuri is a former City lawyer. Once a highly ranked British junior tennis player, she went on to gain a degree in History at University College London, then trained as a solicitor and worked for several major London law firms before leaving law to pursue her passion for writing. In addition to books featuring the feisty Maddy Kramer, she has written four stand-alone novels, including racy thriller, Illicit Retainers, and political thriller, The Darker Side of White, yet to be published. She lives in Surrey with her family.
Amazon bestselling crime writer pub’d by Endeavour Media, rep’d A for Authors Literary Agency: #1 Amazon Australia Amateur Sleuth Mysteries (Aug ’19); #1 Amazon Canada Women Sleuth Mysteries; (Aug ’19) top 10 Amazon UK Legal crime thrillers (Aug ’19); #1 Amazon Australia Legal Thrillers (November ’19)