The Vanished Bride by Bella Ellis ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐

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Welcome to my stop on the blog tour for this breathtaking novel. Thank you to Steven at Hodder & Stoughton for the invitation to take part and for my gifted copy of the book.

SYNOPSIS:

Yorkshire, 1845. A young wife and mother has gone missing from her home, leaving behind two small children and a large pool of blood. Just a few miles away, a humble parson’s daughters — the Bronte sisters — learn of the crime. Charlotte, Emily and Anne Bronte are horrified and intrigued by the mysterious disappearance. 

These three creative, energetic, and resourceful women quickly that they have all the skills required to make for excellent “lady detectors”. Not yet published novelists, they have well-honed imaginations and are expert readers. And, as Charlotte remarks, “detecting is reading between the lines–it’s seeing what is not there.”

As they investigate, Charlotte, Emily and Anne are confronted with a society that believes a woman’s place is in the home, not scouring the countryside looking for clues. But nothing will stop the sisters from discovering what happened to the vanished bride, even as they find their own lives in great peril.

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MY REVIEW:

From the words of Haworth Parsonage, December, 1851, I was transported back in time into the world of Victorian Yorkshire and the escapades of the three infamous Bronte sisters. Steeped in mystery and gothic ambience, this luminous novel was one of the highlights of my reading year. 

A gruesome discovery of a bedroom covered in blood, a missing woman feared murdered and a maid left traumatised are the chilling start to the story giving an immediate air or horror and mystery.  We then go back to Haworth where Charlotte, Emily and Anne Bronte are all living back at the parsonage for the first time in years. They live a quiet life and spend their time together writing stories and poems and reading. Which is exactly what they’re doing when their brother Branwell bursts in telling them about the disappearance and probable murder just a few miles away. The sisters are horrified, yet also intrigued, and after visiting the scene they decide to become “lady detectors”. The will use their intellect and imagination to discover the fate of Elizabeth Chester, second wife of Robert and mother of two young sons.

Their investigations take them far afield and place them in danger but the sisters feel it is their Christian duty to find answers, plus they’re also really enjoying themselves. The sisters’ very different personalities and strengths assist them in their investigation, calling on the assistance of their errant brother Branwell when needed. There are an array of suspects but they follow the clues they seem to find more questions rather than answers, making them wonder if they will ever learn the fate of Elizabeth Chester. But startling and salacious revelations begin to emerge, and the astonishing truth is finally unveiled…

This novel made my heart sing. As soon as I heard about it I knew was one I had to read. A mix of my favourite genres by one of my favourite authors? It sounded like a dream come true. And it was. It is an original look at three of our most famous writers and I delighted in every moment. The author’s love and extensive knowledge of the Brontes radiated from every page and I particularly loved how she included nods to their future stories and fame in their conversations. Her ability to bring Howarth and the moors to life with her vivid imagery made me feel like I was walking on those bleak windswept hills with the sisters. 

I enjoyed reading a Victorian era detective story with female leads. It was a time when women are still considered the property of men and to be lesser beings. They were not encouraged to think and a meek, silent woman who existed almost invisibly was the ideal. This is both a help and hindrance in their detecting as while they are able to go virtually unnoticed, they are also met with opposition, usually men, and found people unwilling to talk with meer women. The sisters are strong, lively, intelligent, enterprising and visionary which makes them ideal for a job that is new and visionary in itself. The sisters each narrated the story allowing us to get to know them as individuals rather than simply being just one of the Bronte sisters and also offered a glimpse into their family dynamic.

The Vanished Bride is a creative, mysterious, witty, compelling and glorious tale. The author writes with elegant prose that is bathed in history and atmosphere, kept me guessing from start to finish and delivered surprises at every turn. I have fallen in love with the Bronte sisters as detector and hope that this is the start of a long running series. 

Out now.

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR:

Bella Ellis is the Brontë inspired pen name for the award winning, Sunday Times bestselling author Rowan Coleman. A Brontë devotee for most of her life, Rowan is the author of fourteen novels including The Memory Book, The Summer of Impossible Things and The Girl at the Window.

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Blog Tour Review: Bad Seed by Jessica Eames ⭐⭐⭐⭐

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Today is my stop on the blog tour for this compelling page-turner. Thank you to Tracey at Compulsive Readers Blog Tours for the invitation to take part, and to Trapeze books and NetGalley for my e-book ARC.

SYNOPSIS:

Nicola is going to die. Just like her husband did.

Nicola thought she’d gotten away with it. 

Since her husband’s death, life has been getting back on track. She has a new boyfriend, Phil. A new home, living next door to her brother-in-law, his wife and their children. She is closer than ever with her daughter, Sarah. She even likes her job at the local shop, though she’s had some time off recently with illness. The Doctor says it’s menopause, that it’s nothing to worry about. As if he could know how she’s feeling.

Nicola is finally moving on with her life.

But then she receives the note. Someone knows what she did. They know the secret she doesn’t even think about when she’s alone.

And they want revenge.

A gripping domestic thriller told from the points of view of three women from the same family, each with their own heart-wrenching revelation. 

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MY REVIEW:

Clever, twisty and surprising, I devoured this gripping novel in under twenty-four hours. Told in three parts, a different woman from the Gregory family narrates each one, offering us a glimpse behind the curtain of this seemingly ordinary family as secrets are revealed and lives are shattered irreparably. Opening with an intriguing prologue that left me on tenterhooks, this was a rollercoaster ride that didn’t end until we reached the jaw-dropping final page that sent a shiver down my spine. 

This sinister and unputdownable domestic thriller will have you questioning just how well you know your family and wonder what secrets they might be hiding. Behind the warm smiles of this family is an undercurrent of obsession, lies, betrayal and distrust. Someone is out for vengeance. But who? Everyone was a suspect and my mind was in overdrive trying to untangle the clues. But this book was hard to predict and I was repeatedly blindsided by bombshells as they were unveiled, making me question everything I thought I knew and having to try and figure things out all over again.

One of the things I loved was the author’s use of different narrators for the three parts of the book. It gave the characters a greater depth and illuminated parts of the story that a single narrator couldn’t have. I enjoyed getting to know each of the women and found myself connecting to each of them as I read their part. The plot was pacy and the tension increased with every section, keeping me on the edge of my seat from start to finish.

If you love page-turning thrillers full of twists then you need to read this book. Bad Seed is a brilliant and addictive story that you won’t be able to put down.

Out now.

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR:

Jessica Eames is the pseudonym of a UK publishing industry insider, based in London Twitter- @JessicaEames2

Blog Tour Review: The Widow of Pale Harbour by Hester Fox ⭐⭐⭐⭐

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Welcome to my stop on the blog tour. Thank you to HQ Stories for the invitation to take part and my copy of the book in exchange for an honest review.

SYNOPSIS:

A town gripped by fear. A woman accused of murder. Who can save Pale Harbour from itself?

1846. Desperate to escape the ghosts of his past, Gabriel Stone takes a position as a minister in the remote Pale Harbour, but not all is as it seems in the sleepy town.

As soon as Gabriel sets foot in the town, he can’t escape the rumours about the mysterious Sophy Carver, a young widow who lives in the eerie Carver Castle: whispers that she killed her husband, mutterings that she might even be a witch.

But as strange, unsettling events escalate into murder, Gabriel finds himself falling under Sophy’s spell. As clues start to point to Sophy as the next  victim, Gabriel realises he must find answers before anyone else turns up dead.

MY REVIEW:

Witchcraft, suspicion and secrets abound in this dark, atmospheric thriller that is a perfect autumn read. 

“He wasn’t sure why he was drawn to the house on the hill, but his feet carried him there as if they knew the answer.”

A reclusive, wealthy widow that is the subject of whispered accusations and rumour, and a transcendentalist minister new to town and in search of redemption, are our narrators in this shadowy tale. As soon as Gabriel Stone, a widower himself, hears the rumours about Sophroina ‘Sophy’ Carver he is fascinated by the curious widow who lives a reclusive life on the hill. From the moment they meet there is a spark between them and the pair find themselves dreaming up ways to see each other.

As the pair become increasingly smitten,  the mystery of the dead animals and birds and the effergies left around the town deepens. The townspeople are still convinced it can only be Sophy and think that she has bewitched Gabriel, but he sees how she is being targeted and, as they try to fight their feelings, they begin to work together in secret to search for answers. But, as things escalate, people are found dead and notes reveal Sophy is in their sights, the search for the culprit takes becomes imperative. 

“Now that she had broken through her wall of fear, the freedom was intoxicating.”

I loved the character of Sophy. She has been damaged by what has happened in her life but seems to glide above it all gracefully. She is misunderstood and maltreated but remains kind, quietly doing what she can to help those she cares for. Gabriel took me some time to warm up to. I didn’t dislike him, but I didn’t really care for him either at first. But as he found the voice to stand against the entire town in defense of Sophy, I began to see his strength and decency shine through. There were some great secondary characters in this novel too. One that stood out for me was Helen, Sophy’s maid and companion. She’s a strange character and I was never quite sure if I trusted her or if I was misinterpreting her over-protectiveness to be something sinister. I like that she wasn’t someone I could figure out, just like I couldn’t shake my suspicions of a number of the others.

“It was not a particularly welcoming place, but now a sense of wrongness took hold of him, as if he were not supposed to be here. As if something did not want him here.”

Part romance and part mystery, this historical, Gothic fiction novel has all the right ingredients for spooky read. The author builds vivid imagery of Pale Harbour as ghostly and unwelcoming from the start. It isn’t a place I’d want to wander through alone at night. Despite this the book started started slower than I would have liked, and for a long time it felt like the love story rather than a gothic novel. But as the author turned up the suspense and built up the eerie and foreboding atmosphere I love in Gothic fiction, I found myself turning the pages as fast as possible and unable to put the book down. I was hooked and on the edge of my seat as we reached the heart-stopping conclusion. 

Publication Date: October 17th

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR:

Hester Fox comes to writing from a background in the museum field as a collections maintenance technician.

This job has taken her from historic houses to fine art museums, where she has the privilege of cleaning and caring for collections that range from paintings by old masters, to ancient artefacts, to early American furniture.

She is a keen painter and has a master’s degree in historical archaeology, as well as a background in Medieval studies and art history. Hester lives outside of Boston with her husband and two cats.

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Blog Tour Review: The Family by Louise Jensen ⭐⭐⭐⭐.5

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SYNOPSIS:

ONCE YOU’RE IN, THEY’LL NEVER LET YOU LEAVE.

Laura is grieving after the sudden death of her husband. Struggling to cope emotionally and financially, Laura is grateful when a local community, Oak Leaf Organics, offer her and her 17-year-old daughter Tilly a home.

But as Laura and Tilly settle into life with their new ‘family’, sinister things begin to happen. When one of the community dies in suspicious circumstances Laura wants to leave, but Tilly, enthralled by the charismatic leader Alex, refuses to go.

Desperately searching for a way to save her daughter, Laura uncovers a horrifying secret but Alex and his family aren’t the only ones with something to hide. Just as Laura has been digging into their past, they’ve been digging into hers.and she discovers the terrifying reason they invited her and Tilly in, and why they’ll never let them leave.

MY REVIEW:

Family. Secrets. Lies. Cults. Death. Revenge.

As soon as I read the chilling synopsis and saw the eerie cover I knew I HAD to read this book. Shadowy, sinister, claustrophobic, and dripping with suspense, this was an intoxicating and involving read. 

Louise Jensen is an author who’s been on my radar for a while, but somehow I’ve never quite got around to reading one of her books. I am so glad I finally did and that it was this book. The Family is a sharp, well plotted and twisty novel, and a cunning hall of mirrors experience that I couldn’t put down. Right up until the final page she had me guessing and on the edge of my seat.

I read a lot of thrillers and I always think that reading a story where the characters are trapped in a situation or place elevates the tension. Laura and Tilly are slowly lured into their new “family” and imprisoned in the community. It happens with such subtlety that it takes them a while to see the warning signs, and some they don’t see at all. 

The story is told from multiple points of view which is something I always enjoy. I love getting a glimpse into the minds of the characters and trying to ascertain if they are reliable in what they’re saying. I also find it fascinating to read the same event from different points of view and in this book I particularly enjoyed doing so from a mother and daughter perspective as there viewpoints were inevitably very unalike. As a mother of  teenagers these glaring contrasts were thought provoking and a great reminder of the fact that how we intend things is not always how it comes across or is received.

The believability of this story is a testament to the author’s talent. All the characters had depth and I thought she chose her narrators perfectly. Laura is vulnerable, helpless and desperate and her daughter is both her weakness and her strength. She’s only there for a short-term fix and never fully buys into what they’re selling her. Tilly is feeling isolated, confused and angry. Her pain is palpable and her fierce need for acceptance sees her drinking the kool-aid quickly while also falling under Alex’s spell. Alex is the perfect cult leader and villain. He’s magnetic, charming and affable but the readers also get to see his inner turmoil and flagitious nature. Together they are a perfect storm. 

So, if you’re looking for something creepy and dark to read on a cold autumn night, I would highly recommend this jaw-dropping and unnerving thriller. 

Thank you to HQ for my invitation to take part in the blog tour and gifted copy of this novel.

Out now.

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR:

Louise Jensen has sold over a million English language copies of her International No. 1 psychological thrillers The Sister, The Gift, The Surrogate and The Date. Her novels have also been translated into twenty-five languages, as well as featuring on the USA Today and Wall Street Journal Bestseller’s List. Louise’s fifth thriller, The Family, will be published in Autumn 2019 by Harper Collins.

The Sister was nominated for the Goodreads Debut Author of 2016 Award. The Date was nominated for The Guardian’s ‘Not The Booker’ Prize 2018. The Surrogate has been nominated for the best Polish thriller of 2018. The Gift has been optioned for a TV film.

Louise lives with her husband, children, madcap dog and a rather naughty cat in Northamptonshire. She loves to hear from readers and writers.

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Blog Tour Review: Call Me Evie by J. P. Pomare ⭐⭐⭐⭐

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I had seen a lot of buzz on bookstagram about this novel at the start of the year, so in April I was excited to be approved for an arc copy and eager to read the book for myself. Six months later I’m delighted to be taking part in the Instagram blog tour for the paperback release of this riveting thriller.  

Thank you to Millie at Little Brown Book Group for the invitation to take part and my gifted copy of this book.

SYNOPSIS

‘Literary suspense as dark and fresh as midnight in winter, with a merciless twist-of-the-knife finale. One of the most striking debuts I’ve read in years.’ – A. J. Finn

In this compulsive, twist-filled and haunting psychological suspense debut, a seventeen-year-old girl struggles to remember the role she played the night her life changed forever…

Don’t trust him. It wasn’t me. It couldn’t have been me.

Meet Evie, a young woman who has fled with her uncle to the isolated New Zealand beach town of Maketu.  Jim says he’s hiding her to protect her, that she did something terrible back home in Melbourne. Something Evie can’t remember.

But Evie isn’t her real name. And Jim isn’t really her uncle.

In a house that creaks against the wind, Evie pieces together the events that led her here. And as her memories return she starts to wonder if Jim is really her saviour …or her captor.

A riveting debut novel that fearlessly plumbs the darkest recesses of the mind. Call Me Evie explores the fragility of memory and the potential in all of us to hide the truth even from ourselves.

MY REVIEW:

The book is narrated by Evie and is split into “before” and “after” the night that she did something terrible. We have no idea what she did, or in fact if she actually did it, and that made the book very confusing for me at first. I found it hard to follow what was happening and it was hindering my enjoyment, but I never give up on a book before I’m a quarter of the way through and I was intrigued by the plot. Soon the story began to flow more smoothly and I was completely hooked and immersed in Evie’s situation.

“He’s trapped me in the nineties.”

The book starts with Kate, who is now going by Evie to hide her identity, having her head shaved by a man she says she once loved. She’d tried to run from the house in the secluded beach town that he’s brought her to but he found her and reminds her that “they” are looking for her and she isn’t safe. She’s skinny and he gives her juices with a powder he tells her will help her gain weight. He also takes her to the doctor and she’s prescribed antidepressants but the man, who she decides to call Jim, refuses the doctor’s suggestion that she see a psychologist. He tells her he’s helping her heal mentally and she doesn’t need to see anyone else.

When Evie begins to tell us the story of before the incident she begins by taking us back to  her first memory: at five years old her Nanny left her alone in the bath for a few moments and she poured scalding water onto herself, scarring her for life. Not long after her mother died and her father retired from his professional rugby career to work in finance and raise her himself. 

Back in the present Evie is starting to remember little bits about that night: drinking, the mysterious ‘him’ lying face down with blood spreading under his head and  herself in the car. She’s afraid to remember more even though she is sure she didn’t do anything bad, that it had to be Jim and he’s lying to her. She writes letters that Jim sends back to Melbourne which are full of confusion and fear as Evie talks vaguely about what happened and tries to grapple with what the truth is of that inauspicious night.  She is determined to escape as she becomes increasingly sure that Jim is lying to her and holding her captive rather than protecting her. But who can she trust? And when she sees what’s being written about her online she is once again unsure where to turn and what’s real.

As the book goes on we learn more about Evie’s life growing up in Melbourne, her relationship with her dad, friendships and blossoming relationship with a boy named Thom. But we still don’t know much about that night or who Jim really is. I had my suspicions but I found they vacillated as the story went on.

“Sometimes if you bite into a joke you find a stone of truth at the centre.” 

This was a strange book at times but highly addictive and I devoured it in one sitting. I needed to fit the pieces of the puzzle together, to know what Evie supposedly did, if she did it, if I was right about who Jim was, and if people were really after her. I wasn’t prepared for the shocking twists in this story or how the one I had guessed correctly would play out. I was completely blindsided. The complex plot and multifaceted characters are cleverly written and you are kept guessing until the final sentence. 

Call Me Evie is a story about love, anger, fear, truth and lies. It makes you question the truth of your own memories and what reality is. A spectacular debut that I can see making a great movie. I highly recommend this book to anyone who loves mystery and thrillers.

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR:

J P Pomare grew up on a horse-racing farm in small town New Zealand with his three older siblings and his father. He left for Melbourne where he developed his craft, entrenching himself in the Australian literary community. For almost two years he produced and hosted a podcast called On Writing, interviewing almost thirty local and international authors including Joyce Carol Oates, John Safran, Dorthe Nors, E Lockheart, Chris Wormersley, and Sofie Laguna.

J P Pomare has been published in several journals including  Meanjin, Kill Your Darlings, Takahe, and Mascara Literary Review. He has also won, and been short and long listed for a number of prizes include the KYD Unpublished Manuscript Prize. Call Me Evie is his first novel.

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Blog Tour Review: The Liar’s Sister by Sarah A. Denzil ⭐⭐⭐⭐.5

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Thank you Bookoture for my invitation to take part in the blog tour and to Bookoture and NetGalley for my copy of this novel in exchange for my honest review. 

SYNOPSIS:

A SHOCKING DISAPPEARANCE. A VILLAGE FULL OF SECRETS.

Ten years ago, a boy named Samuel Murrary went missing from the quiet village of Buckthorpe and was never seen again.

Rosie Sharpe cried over her missing friend for weeks after. But her little sister Heather knows that Rosie’s tears hide the truth. Because the night Samuel was last seen, Heather watched her older sister climbing back through the window of their childhood bedroom. Her jacket torn, eyes wild and her body trembling with fear.

Heather never told anyone what she saw, but secrets can’t stay buried forever…

A decade later, Rosie and Heather return home to the village they grew up in when their mother is ill. But when their house is ransacked and they receive a threatening note, it becomes clear that someone in the close-knit village doesn’t want them there.

When Heather finally confronts her sister about what really happened on the dark, rainy night Samuel disappeared, Rosie’s version of the truth is more shocking than she could have ever imagined. But can she trust her sister? And who broke into their house that night? As the lies of the past begin to unravel, they have the power to put the lives of both women in terrible danger…

This twist-filled, page-turning psychological thriller from the million-copy bestselling author of Silent Child will keep you hooked until the final jaw-dropping pages. Perfect for fans of Behind Closed Doors and The Girl On The Train

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MY REVIEW:

I’ve enjoyed every one of this author’s books that I’ve read but this was the best yet! Addictive, fast-paced and heart-stopping, I devoured it in just a few hours. I was never really sure what would happen next and there were so many twists it made my head spin. I love a thriller where you don’t feel sure where it’s going and feel a bit bewildered when you’re reading it and this one did both of these things while keeping me on the edge of my seat from start to finish.

Moving flawlessly between dual timelines and told by two narrators, on the surface this is a mystery about what really happened the night Samuel Murray went missing. Heather has held suspicions about her sister Rosie’s involvement since that night but has never confronted her, instead allowing it to become a wedge between them and their relationship to drift apart. While that is a huge part of this story, this is also a book with many layers that also looks at the complicated relationships between sisters, family and friends, the damage caused by addiction and the grief of losing someone you love. 

The sisters each narrate a timeline so we get to know both of them pretty well. I liked that the author kept it to one sister per timeline as it created a greater sense of mystery about events in the present day as until we reached the climax we never knew what Rosie was thinking or what her involvement was the night Samuel went missing. There are numerous other characters in the story, some of whom are quite unnerving, some who seem to have an axe to grind, and all of them are well developed and well written. Of the sisters I felt most invested in the life of Heather. The author vividly conveys the agony of her complex feelings for both Rosie and Samuel and her torment over what to do for the best. While Rosie was the chaotic, troublesome child and seems to have a hard shell around herself, Heather was the good girl who always did the right thing and feels everything intensely. Not only is Heather’s world turned upside down after their mother’s death, but a lot of what she believes to be true begins to shatter when Rosie returns and she is left not knowing where to turn or what to think. Her pain was palpable and I found myself feeling everything along with her each step of the way.

Enthralling, atmospheric, suspenseful, creepy and brilliant, this book held me hostage right up until its jaw-dropping conclusion. For anyone who enjoys mysteries and psychological thrillers, Ms. Denzil is an author I highly recommend and I would say that this book is a great place to start. 

Out now

PURCHASE LINKS:

Amazon: https://geni.us/B07TWSDVC9Social

Apple Books:  https://apple.co/2Xy2xTM

Kobo: http://bit.ly/2xxn9kM

Googleplay: http://bit.ly/2JeKVIH

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR:

Sarah A. Denzil is a British suspense writer from Derbyshire. In her alternative life–AKA Sarah Dalton–she writes speculative fiction for teenagers, including The Blemished, Mary Hades and White Hart.

Sarah lives in Yorkshire with her partner, enjoying the scenic countryside and rather unpredictable weather.

Saving April, Sarah’s debut suspense thriller, is a psychological look into the minds of the people around us who we rarely even consider – our neighbours. What do we really know about them, and what goes on when the doors are closed?

SOCIAL MEDIA LINKS:

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/sarahadenzil/

Twitter: https://twitter.com/sarahdenzil

Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/marmiteandbooks/

Website: https://www.sarahdenzil.com/ 

The Liar's Secret - Blog Tour

Blog Tour Review: The Flower Arranger by JJ Ellis ⭐⭐⭐⭐

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Welcome to my stop on the blog tour for this compelling debut novel. Thank you to Agora Books for the invitation to take part and for my copy of the book.

SYNOPSIS:

An astonishing and evocative debut from a new voice in crime fiction.

And now he knew what was wrong with the arrangement. It was the Ma..the negative space… There was only one thing beautiful enough to fill it and – finally – she was with him. Ready, if not willing, to play her role.

Holly Blain wants to cover real news. The entertainment beat – pop stars and teen trends – was not why she moved to Tokyo. When she meets Inspector Tetsu Tanaka, head of Tokyo’s Metropolitan Police’s Gaikoku-jin unit, it might just be her big break.

Tanaka isn’t so sure. Always one to do things by the book, he’s hesitant about bringing this headstrong reporter into his carefully controlled investigation.

But young women keep disappearing and Tanaka is given no choice. He and Blain must trust each other if they are to stop a tormented killer from bringing his plan to its shocking conclusion.

Filled with twists and turns, this unforgettable thriller is JJ Ellis’ first novel 

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MY REVIEW:

The Flower Arranger is an atmospheric novel seeped in layers of Japanese culture. The beautiful imagery transported me into this different world that I knew relatively little about. But amongst the beauty is something dark. Someone is using the pretty flowers to create macabre and unnerving arrangements that they then put on public display. Holly Blain, an ambitious young journalist determined to make a name for herself, and Detective Tetsu Tanaka, are hunting him. But he manages to stay one step ahead and evade capture. As the pressure mounts they know they must get results or heads will roll and the careers they’ve worked so hard for will be damaged.

The two protagonists are an unlikely duo, a yin and yang as it were. Blain will do anything to get her story and to finally realise her ambition of working on the crime team at her newspaper, and while Tanaka finds himself fighting against red tape he’s someone who likes to do things right. As they try to learn to work together these differences often lead to clashes, chaos and battles against each other to get to their man first. They’re also hampered by Japan’s bureaucracy which makes it almost impossible to find out any real information about their suspect. I liked their relationship and thought it made them more interesting to read than if they’d been instant best friends that worked together really well. 

The antagonist was sinister and bizarre – a perfect bad guy. I would get shivers down my spine reading his dreadful, creepy and unhinged thoughts and behaviour. The flashbacks gave an interesting insight into his motivations and how he turned out this way. 

I really enjoyed this book. The descriptive writing drew me in and gave me an education on a culture I knew relatively little about while keeping me guessing about The Flower Arranger. It started off a little slow but was fascinating from the beginning and soon picked up the pace. I felt Tanaka’s frustration as the suspect slipped through his grasp and I felt Blain’s desperation for that top story. I was on the edge of my seat as we approached the end, fervently hoping for them to succeed and am still recovering from that ending and those haunting final sentences…

I would recommend this book if you enjoy mysteries, thrillers and crime fiction. JJ Ellis has written a tense and chilling debut and I can’t wait to see what he does next. 

Out September 26th.

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR:

JJ Ellis was born and raised in Yorkshire in northern England although now lives near London. The author’s interest in Japan was sparked when a family member won a trip there by singing in Japanese at an exhibition in the UK. Several visits followed — to Tokyo and further flung places such as Ishigaki and Iriomote — as Ellis developed the idea for The Flower Arranger. Two more crime novels featuring the team of Tanaka and Blain are planned.

The Flower Arranger is JJ Ellis’ first novel.