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book reviews Emma's Anticipated Treasures Most Anticipated 2022 Readalong

REVIEW: Daisy Darker by Alice Feeney

Published: August 18th, 2022
Publisher: Pan Macmillan
Genre: Thriller, Psychological Thriller, Suspense, Gothic Fiction
Format: Hardcover, Kindle, Audiobook

Today I’m sharing my review for the atmospheric and consuming Daisy Darker. Thank you to BookBreak UK and Pan Macmillan for the gifted ARC and for organising the readalong.

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SYNOPSIS:

Daisy Darker is an all-consuming tale of psychological suspense with a spectacular twist from the internationally bestselling author Alice Feeney.

Daisy Darker’s family were as dark as dark can be, when one of them died all of them lied and pretended not to see . . .

Daisy Darker is arriving at her grandmother’s house for her eightieth birthday. It is Halloween, and Seaglass – the crumbling Cornish house perched upon its own tiny private island – is at one with the granite rocks it sits on. The Darker family haven’t all been in the same place for over a decade, and when the tide comes in they’ll be cut off from the rest of the world for eight hours. When the tide goes back out, nothing will ever be the same again, because one of them is a killer . . .

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MY REIVEW:

“Daisy Darker’s family were as dark as can be. 
When one of them died, all of them lied and pretended not to see…”

Daisy Darker arrives at Seaglass, her grandmother’s house on a private island on the Cornish coast, to celebrate her eightieth birthday.  They are soon joined by the rest of the Darker family and Daisy is feeling apprehensive about seeing her whole family for the first time in a decade.  As the tide comes in and isolates them on the island for eight hours, one of them is found dead.  With a killer in their midst and no means of escape, how many of them will survive the night…

What. A. Book!  Sinister, spooky and utterly brilliant, this was not only one of my favourite reads of last month, but one of my favourite of all time. I love a claustrophobic and creepy novel and there is nothing better for those vibes than a dysfunctional family full of dark secrets that are trapped in an old house with no means of escape or contacting the outside world.  It adds an air of mystery and foreboding that hovers over the story from the first pages and sets the scene for what is to come.  As the bodies pile up the terror rises and you could cut the tension with a knife.  A cloud of suspicion hangs over everyone, including Daisy, and you have no idea who to trust. 

The Darker family are a cast of complex, unlikeable and unreliable characters.  They are a minefield of toxicity and dysfunction, the extent of which is unravelled slowly through flashbacks.   I could understand why Daisy hadn’t seen them in so long and was dreading spending time with them.  But Nana was different; an ebullient and caring character who totally stole the show and was my favourite family member. I could understand why Daisy loved her and cherished their relationship.  Narrator Daisy seems to be a quite timid character who doesn’t give us any obvious reasons not to trust her yet there was just something that felt off about her from the start.  This gave the book a magnetic quality I couldn’t resist as I love when you have an unreliable narrator or a character who you have no idea if they are friend or foe.

Alice Feeney can always be relied upon to deliver a first-class psychological thriller.  But this time she really outdid herself, expertly messing with our minds as she delivered twist after twist.  A ticking time bomb of lies, misdirection and sheer dread, I was on the edge of my seat and it wreaked havoc on my blood pressure.  But there was also an old-fashioned murder mystery feel to the story that I loved and made it easy to imagine this being adapted for the screen.  

Atmospheric, unnerving and consuming, Daisy Darker is a jaw-dropping masterpiece of a thriller that will linger long after reading.  Just make sure you have a block of free time available before picking it up, because once you start you won’t be putting it down until you’ve read the last page. 

Rating: ✮✮✮✮✮

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MEET THE AUTHOR:

Alice Feeney is a New York Times bestselling author and journalist. Her debut novel, Sometimes I Lie, was an international bestseller and has been translated into over twenty languages. His & Hers is being adapted for screen by Jessica Chastain’s Freckle Films. Rock Paper Scissors is her fourth novel and is also being made into a TV series for Netflix by the producer of The Crown.

Alice was a BBC Journalist for fifteen years, and now lives in the British countryside with her family.

Daisy Darker is her fifth novel.

Website

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BUY THE BOOK:

Waterstones | Amazon | Bookshop.org

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Thanks for reading Bibliophiles 😊 Emma xxxx

*All purchase links are affiliate links

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book reviews Emma's Anticipated Treasures Most Anticipated 2022

REVIEW: The Last Party by Clare Mackintosh (DC Morgan 1)

Published: August 4th, 2022
Publisher: Sphere
Genre: Thriller, Mystery, Psychological Thriller, Suspense, Crime Fiction, Police Procedural, Crime Series
Format: Hardcover, Kindle, Audiobook

Welcome to my review for this sensational start to a new series by one of my favourite authors. Thank you Sphere for the gifted ARC.

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SYNOPSIS:

INTRODUCING DC FFION MORGAN, IN THE UNMISSABLE NEW SERIES FROM #1 BESTSELLER CLARE MACKINTOSH

‘Superb, with echoes of Agatha Christie‘ PATRICIA CORNWELL
‘A dark delight of a murder mystery’ JANICE HALLETT
‘Detectives Leo and Ffion make a storming debut‘ BELINDA BAUER
‘Mackintosh is just getting better and better‘ PETER JAMES

On New Year’s Eve, Rhys Lloyd has a house full of guests.

His lakeside holiday homes are a success, and he’s generously invited the village to drink champagne with their wealthy new neighbours. This will be the party to end all parties.

But not everyone is there to celebrate. By midnight, Rhys will be floating dead in the freezing waters of the lake.

On New Year’s Day, DC Ffion Morgan has a village full of suspects.

The tiny community is her home, so the suspects are her neighbours, friends and family – and Ffion has her own secrets to protect.

With a lie uncovered at every turn, soon the question isn’t who wanted Rhys dead . . . but who finally killed him.

In a village with this many secrets, a murder is just the beginning.

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MY REVIEW:

“Is anyone at The Shore who they appear to be?” 

Do I need to start a new crime series?  No.  Was I going to the moment I knew Clare Mackintosh had written one?  Of course!  

The Last Party introduces us to DC Ffion Morgan, a spiky detective who lives in Cwm Coed, North Wales.  I loved Ffion.  She isn’t always likeable but there is something about her that makes her compelling to read.  We know from early on that she has secrets and I loved how that made me question if I could trust her, even making me wonder if she could be our perpetrator a few times.  By the end of the book I felt a real bond with her character and am excited to see what’s next for her as the series continues.  For this investigation, Ffion is paired with English detective Leo Brady, something neither one is thrilled about.  I loved their dynamic and found Leo to be a likeable and fascinating character in his own right, so I’m hoping he will be back for book two.

The case that brings Ffion and Leo together is the murder of local celebrity Rhys Lloyd, whose body is found floating in the lake during the traditional New Year’s Day swim. Rhys is a deplorable character who gave me the heebie-jeebies from the beginning.  He is a man with more enemies than friends and I could understand why someone would want him dead.  In fact, I had more sympathy for whoever might have killed him than the victim himself, which tells you a lot.  But it isn’t that simple as the suspects are the other residents, an array of richly drawn background characters who also happen to be Ffion’s family and friends.  And this small town is a place filled with secrets, including those being kept by Ffion herself.  These added layers and complexities created moral dilemmas that helped us learn more about Ffion’s as both a person and a detective.  Would she do whatever it takes to catch the killer or would she sacrifice justice in order to protect herself and those she loves?  

Tense, twisty, claustrophobic and surprising, The Last Party is a great example of why Clare Mackintosh needs to be on everyone’s TBR.  She is a master of her craft, carefully constructing the many threads so that they collide into a finale that made my jaw drop.  I need book two now! 

Rating: ✮✮✮✮.5

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MEET THE AUTHOR:

With more than two million copies of her books sold worldwide, number one bestseller Clare Mackintosh is the multi-award-winning author of I Let You Go, which was a Sunday Times bestseller and the fastest-selling title by a new crime writer in 2015. It also won the Theakston Old Peculier Crime Novel of the Year in 2016.

Both Clare’s second and third novels, I See You and Let Me Lie, were number one Sunday Times bestsellers. All three of her books were selected for the Richard & Judy Book Club. Clare’s latest novel, After the End, was published in June 2019 and spent seven weeks in the Sunday Times hardback bestseller chart.

Clare’s thriller, Hostage, was published in June 2021, and her latest thriller, The Last Party, which is the first in a new crime series, is published in August 2022.

Together, Clare’s books have been published in more than forty countries. Clare is patron of the Silver Star Society, a charity based at the John Radcliffe hospital in Oxford, which supports parents experiencing high-risk or difficult pregnancies. She lives in North Wales with her husband and their three children.

Website

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BUY THE BOOK:

Waterstones | Amazon | Bookshop.org

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Will you be adding this to your list? Let me know in the comments.

Thanks for reading Bibliophiles Emma xxx

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BLOG TOUR: The Loyal Friend by A. A. Chaudhuri

Published: June 23rd, 2022
Publisher: Hera Books
Genre: Mystery, Suspense, Thriller, Psychological Thriller, Crime Fiction, Domestic Fiction, Urban Fiction
Format: Paperback, Kindle, Audiobook

I’m finally getting around to posting my review for this tense and twisty thriller after my stop on the tour was delayed by Covid. Thank you to Danielle at The Reading Closet Tours for the invitation to take part and Hera Books for the gifted eBook ARC.

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SYNOPSIS:

She has your back.

And may stab you in it.

Wealthy, pampered Susan is living the perfect life in leafy Kingston. She’ll never let anyone see the darkness she’s concealing behind the diamonds and rosé.

Grace is new to the group, seemingly the perfect wife and mum. Yet no one knows the truth of what’s happening behind closed doors.

Loner Natalie hides the pain of her childhood behind a carefully ordered life. But how long can the past stay hidden?

Three unlikely friends, brought together for a weekly class run by beautiful, friendly, instructor, Jade.

But when Jade goes missing in mysterious circumstances, the group starts to unravel. And as their darkest secrets come to light, it seems that no one can be trusted. Even their closest friends…

A heart-in-your-mouth thriller that builds twist after twist, culminating in an unforgettable ending. This shocking, tense and gripping read will delight fans of T.M. Logan, B.A. Paris and Big Little Lies.

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MY REVIEW:

“It was never meant to go this far.  All I wanted was for her to be taught a lesson.”

Friendly fitness instructor Jade’s weekly class brings together an unlikely group of friends: wealthy Susan whose picture perfect life is hiding a much darker truth, newcomer Grace whose image of the perfect wife and mum belies what is really happening behind closed doors, and loner Natalie who is trying to control the trauma from her childhood with a carefully structured life.  When Jade fails to turn up to class one day the group begins to unravel and their dark secrets begin to surface.  Can any of them be trusted?  And could one of them really have had a hand in Jade’s disappearance?

Shocking, surprising and suspenseful, The Loyal Friend is another dark and twisty thriller from A. A. Chaudhuri, who has proven herself to be a must-read addition to any thriller lover’s list.  It is a dark maze of twists and turns that will make your head spin.  Fast-paced, tense and exquisitely written, Chaudhur teases us by slowly revealing fragments of the many secrets being kept, keeping us on the edge of our seat as we desperately wait for the next piece to be revealed.  

The varied cast of characters are all compelling and well written.  Natalie was a very sympathetic character who was easy to root for, Grace also sparked sympathy, though her character was much more complex and layered.  But the one I enjoyed reading most was the villain of the group, Susan.  She is so unlikeable from the start and I loved her for it.  She is unapologetic about who she is and though she is someone you’d hate to know in real life, she makes a very entertaining fictional character.  Each of them is a suspect, filled with fear and acting suspiciously as they try to avoid the glare of the police.  What are they hiding?  I had my ideas and felt like one of them had to be involved in Jade’s disappearance, but I was never quite sure which of my two suspects it was, which raised the tension and kept me on tenterhooks from start to finish.  

Heart-pounding and unpredictable, The Loyal Friend is a high-octane psychological thriller that keeps you guessing.  And that ending!  I am still thinking about it weeks after finishing the book. 

Read it now. 

Rating: ✮✮✮✮.5

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MEET THE AUTHOR:

A.A. Chaudhuri is a former City lawyer, turned thriller writer, who lives in Surrey with her family.

Once a highly ranked British junior tennis player, competing in the national championships and a member of the national squad, she went on to tour the women’s professional satellite circuit as a teenager and achieved a world ranking of 650.

After returning to full-time education, she gained a BA Honours 2:1 in History at University College London, and a commendation in both the Graduate Diploma in Law and Legal Practice Course at the London College of Law, before training as a solicitor at City firm Norton Rose and then practising as a commercial litigator at two other City firms, Kendall Freeman and Travers Smith.

She left law in 2008 to pursue her passion for writing and in 2010 passed the NCTJ fast-track newspaper journalism course, in respect of which she was awarded The Oxford University Press Public Affairs Award for the most outstanding public affairs central government paper.

In 2013 and 2014 she self-published two women’s fiction novels under the name Alexandra Sage: Love & Limoncello and the sequel Love & Loss. Love & Limoncello has sold more than ten thousand copies to date, reaching number 53 in the Amazon Kindle Bestsellers List in October 2014.

The Scribe and The Abduction, published by  Lume Books in July and December 2019, are her first crime book series, plunging readers into London’s glamorous legal world and featuring series’ heroine, Maddy Kramer, fiction’s first female City lawyer amateur sleuth, who teams up with charismatic DCI Jake Carver to solve a gruesome series of murders and a puzzling abduction.

Both books have hit the bestsellers lists in the UK, Australia and Canada, with bestseller tags in Australia and Canada.

THE SCRIBE and THE ABDUCTION were published as audio books by Isis Audio on 1st  January and 1st March 2021, both read by David Thorpe.

She has also contributed an original short story THE ENCOUNTER to crime anthology GIVEN IN EVIDENCE published by LUME BOOKS in May 2020, has written many articles and short stories for The Crime Writers’ Association.

In February 2021, Alex signed a two-book contract for two standalone psychological thrillers with Hera Books, the first entitled She’s Mine was published on 18th August 2021 in eBook and 26th August in paperback. The Loyal Friend will be published 23rd June 2022.

Besides being an avid reader, she enjoys fitness, films, anything Italian and a good margarita!

Website

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BUY THE BOOK:

Waterstones*| Amazon*| Bookshop.org*
*These are affiliate links

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Thanks for reading Bibliophiles 😊Emma xxxx

Please check out the reviews from the other bloggers taking part in the tour.

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Blog Tours book reviews Emma's Anticipated Treasures

BLOG TOUR: The Daves Next Door by Will Carver

Published: July 21st, 2022
Publisher: Orenda Books
Genre: Thriller, Mystery, Suspense, Psychological Fiction, Crime Fiction, Urban Fiction, Political Fiction, Religious Fiction
Format: Paperback, Kindle, Audiobook

Welcome to my stop on the blog tour for this atmospheric and compelling novel. Thank you to Anne at Random Things Tours for the invitation to take part and Karen at Orenda for the eBook ARC.

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SYNOPSIS:

The lives of five strangers collide on a London train carriage, as they become involved in an incident that will change them all forever. A shocking, intensely emotive and wildly original new thriller from Will Carver…

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A disillusioned nurse suddenly learns how to care.

An injured young sportsman wakes up find that he can see only in black and white.

A desperate old widower takes too many pills and believes that two angels have arrived to usher him through purgatory.

Two agoraphobic men called Dave share the symptoms of a brain tumour, and frequently waken their neighbour with their ongoing rows.

Separate lives, running in parallel, destined to collide and then explode.

Like the suicide bomber, riding the Circle Line, day after day, waiting for the right time to detonate, waiting for answers to his questions: Am I God? Am I dead? Will I blow up this train?

Shocking, intensely emotive and wildly original, Will Carver’s The Daves Next Door is an explosive existential thriller and a piercing examination of what it means to be human … or not. 

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MY REVIEW:

“Separate lives, running in parallel, destined to collide and then explode.”

Five strangers’ lives collide on a carriage on the London Underground during a shocking event.  But was it fate?  Did they have the power to change what would happen to them?  

Told from multiple points of view over three parts, The Daves Next Door is a sinister, scathing and stylish social commentary that explores the question of fate versus choice and asks if there are such things as good and evil.  It makes you question the way you think, examining our prejudices and apathy, potentially changing the way you see the world around you.

“Is there such a thing as destiny? Is the path laid out?  The story already written?” 

The characters are familiar, flawed and fascinating.  They could be our neighbour or the person next to us on the bus.  Each of them are richly drawn and complex, allowing us to find compassion for the villain and dislike for the hero in places.  The many threads of the story appear unconnected at first but are slowly woven together, keeping the reader guessing at every step.  It takes a lot of talent to make a story that opens with references to how it all ends still feel unpredictable, but Carver pulls it off expertly. 

Will Carver is a tour-de-force in fiction. His singular style is instantly recognisable, the quirky, intelligent, playful and affecting prose pulling you into the world he created and holding you captive from beginning to end. His original and visionary style make his books absolute must reads. 

Fierce, intelligent, atmospheric and unapologetic, The Daves Next Door is a must-read.  Add it to your TBR now!

Rating: ✮✮✮✮.5

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MEET THE AUTHOR:

Will Carver is the international bestselling author of the January David series and the critically acclaimed, mind-blowingly original Detective Pace series that includes Good Samaritans (2018), Nothing Important Happened Today (2019) and Hinton Hollow Death Trip (2020), all of which were ebook bestsellers and selected as books of the year in the mainstream international press. Nothing Important Happened Today was longlisted for both the Goldsboro Books Glass Bell Award 2020 and the Theakston’s Old Peculier Crime Novel of the Year Award. Hinton Hollow Death Trip was longlisted for Guardian‘s Not the Booker Prize. He spent his early years in Germany, but returned to the UK at age eleven, when his sporting career took off. He turned down a professional rugby contract to study theatre and television at King Alfred’s, Winchester, where he set up a successful theatre company. He currently runs his own fitness and nutrition company, and lives in Reading with his children.

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BUY THE BOOK:

Orenda | Waterstones* | Amazon* | Bookshop.org*

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Thanks for reading Bibliophiles 😊 Emma xxxx

Please check out the reviews from the other bloggers taking part in the tour.

*These links are affiliate links

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Blog Tours book reviews Emma's Anticipated Treasures

BLOG TOUR: Listen To Me by Tess Gerritsen (Rizzoli & Isles 13)

Published: July 7th, 2022
Publisher: Bantam Press
Genre: Mystery, Suspense, Crime Fiction, Psychological Thriller, Hardboiled, Crime Series
Format: Kindle, Kindle, Audiobook

Welcome to my stop on the blog tour for the latest in the Rizzoli and Isles series. Thank you to Anne at Random Things Tours for the invitation to take part and Bantam Press for the eBook ARC.

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SYNOPSIS:

Rizzoli & Isles return, in the nail-biting new thriller from Sunday Times bestselling author Tess Gerritsen.

The murder of Sofia Suarez is both gruesome and seemingly senseless. Why would anyone target a respected nurse who was well-liked by her friends and her neighbours? As Detective Jane Rizzoli and Forensic Pathologist Maura Isles investigate the baffling case, they discover that Sofia was guarding a dangerous secret — a secret that may have led the killer straight to her door.

Meanwhile, Jane’s watchful mother Angela Rizzoli is conducting an investigation of her own. She may be a grandmother, not a police detective, but she’s savvy enough to know there’s something very strange, perhaps even dangerous, about the new neighbours across the street. The problem is, no one believes her, not even her own daughter.

Immersed in the hunt for Sofia’s killer, Jane and Maura are too busy to pay attention to Angela’s fears. With no one listening to her, and danger mounting in her neighbourhood, Angela just may be forced to take action on her own…

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MY REVIEW:

“Maura could dissect a body, examine its tissues all the way down to the cellular level, but what the dead knew and saw and felt as the lights blinked out would remain a mystery.” 

Rizzoli and Isles has been one of my favourite crime series’, and Tess Gerritsen one of my favourite authors, since I borrowed The Surgeon from the library almost twenty years ago.  So when I heard that Rizzoli and Isles were back after a five year break I was thrilled.  I couldn’t wait to not only be back with the familiar characters, but also immerse myself in Gerritsen’s darkly atmospheric words.  It did not disappoint, reminding me of why she is known as the Queen of Crime.

In the thirteenth instalment in the series Detective Jane Rizzoli and Forensic Pathologist Maura Isles are investigating the gruesome murder of Sofia Suarez.  There are no immediate motives for the crime, but when Rizzoli discovers that Suarez was guarding a dangerous secret, everything changes.

Meanwhile Rizzoli’s mother Angela is busy keeping a watchful eye on her neighbours when she notices something strange about the new couple across the street.  Her daughter and the police department dismiss her as a busybody, but Angela is sure there is something sinister going on and begins her own ameteur investigation, little realising the danger she is walking into…

“That was the burden of working in homicide; you are always too late to change the victim’s fate.” 

Gerritsen has knocked it out of the park yet again.  Sharply written, cleverly crafted and perfectly paced, this is suspense at its best.  You can feel yourself in the hands of a masterful storyteller as Gerritsen expertly takes the everyday and merges it with the macabre. I was on tenterhooks as she intricately wove the threads together until the full, shocking picture emerged.  

Despite an absence of a number of years I found it easy to step back into Rizzoli and Isles’ world, the characters feeling like old friends.  I’ve always loved how she fills this series with such strong, nuanced and familiar female characters that are richly drawn and easy to like.  I particularly enjoyed Angela Rizzoli’s character in this story and liked how Gerritsen used her to highlight how older women are often invisible and easily dismissed. I felt for Angela as her concerns were pushed aside yet she felt so sure there was something wrong. It was great to see her shine after spending so long as more of a background character. 

If you’re a fan of dark, tense, twisty and gripping thrillers then this should be on your TBR.  While having read the other books in the series is recommended because they are so good, it isn’t necessary and you could also enjoy it as a standalone. 

Rating: ✮✮✮✮✰

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MEET THE AUTHOR:

Internationally bestselling author Tess Gerritsen took an unusual route to a writing career. A graduate of Stanford University, Tess went on to medical school at the University of California, San Francisco, where she was awarded her M.D.

While on maternity leave from her work as a physician, she began to write fiction. In 1987, her first novel was published. Call After Midnight, a romantic thriller, was followed by eight more romantic suspense novels. She also wrote a screenplay, “Adrift”, which aired as a 1993 CBS Movie of the Week starring Kate Jackson.

Tess’s first medical thriller, Harvest, was released in hardcover in 1996, and it marked her debut on the New York Times bestseller list. Her suspense novels since then have been: Life Support (1997), Bloodstream (1998), Gravity (1999), The Surgeon (2001), The Apprentice (2002), The Sinner (2003), Body Double (2004), Vanish (2005), The Mephisto Club (2006), The Bone Garden (2007), The Keepsake (2008; UK title: Keeping the Dead), Ice Cold (2010; UK title: The Killing Place), The Silent Girl (2011), Last To Die (2012), Die Again (2014), Playing With Fire (2015), and I Know A Secret (2017). Her books have been published in forty countries, and more than 30 million copies have been sold around the world.

Her books have been top-3 bestsellers in the United States and number one bestsellers abroad. She has won both the Nero Wolfe Award (for Vanish) and the Rita Award (for The Surgeon). Critics around the world have praised her novels as “Pulse-pounding fun” (Philadelphia Inquirer), “Scary and brilliant” (Toronto Globe and Mail), and “Polished, riveting prose” (Chicago Tribune). Publisher Weekly has dubbed her the “medical suspense queen”.

Her series of novels featuring homicide detective Jane Rizzoli and medical examiner Maura Isles inspired the TNT television series “Rizzoli & Isles” starring Angie Harmon and Sasha Alexander.

Now retired from medicine, she writes full time. She lives in Maine.

Website

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BUY THE BOOK:

Waterstones | Amazon | Bookshop.org

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Thanks for reading Bibliophiles 😊Emma xxxx

Please check out the reviews from the other bloggers taking part in the tour

*All purchase links are affiliate links

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Blog Tours book reviews Emma's Anticipated Treasures

BLOG TOUR: The House Across the Lake by Riley Sager

Published: July 7th, 2022
Publisher: Hodder & Stoughton
Genre: Suspense, Psychological Fiction, Horror Fiction
Format: Hardcover, Kindle, Audiobook

Welcome to my stop on the blog tour for this unexpected, darkly atmospheric thriller. Thank you to Ollie at Hodder & Stoughton for the invitation to take part and the gifted copy of the book.

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SYNOPSIS:

The master of genre-bending suspense is back with a brand new edge-of-your-seat thriller.

Recently widowed actress Casey Fletcher has escaped to her family’s lake house for peace and quiet. She’s been happily losing herself in her thoughts and several bottles of bourbon, until the glamorous couple across the lake catch her attention. They look so perfect – just like Casey and her husband used to be.
But is anyone what they seem?

Casey has a detective sat at her kitchen table.

She has a man bound and gagged upstairs.

Casey will uncover dark truths so life-changing that nothing will ever be the same again.

International bestselling sensation Riley Sager is back with his most ambitious thriller yet. With his trademark blend of sharp characters, psychological suspense and gasp-worthy twists, The House Across the Lake will shock readers from the first page to the last.

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MY REVIEW:

“The last thought I have before spiralling into unconsciousness is a memory of the sound that woke me up. With it comes recognition. 
I now know what I heard. 
It was a scream.” 

Wow. What on earth did I just read?  Riveting, unexpected and surprising, this was a wild and crazy ride that I couldn’t put down.  Punchy, sharp and oozing with foreboding, the writing is compelling.  Moving between dual timelines, I loved how we would get a short, sharp and ominous ‘Now’ section that ended on a cliffhanger before jumping to a longer ‘Before’ section, notching up the tension and leaving us on the edge of our seats.  

This was my second time reading a Riley Sager book but I was an instant fan and couldn’t wait to read more. This book had a different feel to his last book, more of a traditional thriller.  While I was enjoying it, it seemed predictable and I thought I had it all figured out.  Then, bam!  With one twist he takes the story from zero to sixty, turning everything on its head and changing everything you thought you knew.  It instantly became all the more tantalising and I couldn’t read fast enough.  One of my favourite things about thrillers is when an author shocks you with something completely unexpected and seemingly out of left field but when you look back you can see the clues carefully hidden on the pages, which in this case are small hints of the paranormal.  In the hands of another author it could have been a ridiculous turn, and I think it will be a bit of a marmite book because of this, but I thought Sager pulled it off expertly and made the unbelievable feel possible.

“The lake is darker than a coffin with the lid shut.

That’s what Marnie used to say, back when we were children and she was constantly trying to scare me. It’s an exaggeration, to be sure. But not by much. Lake Greene’s water is dark, even with the light trickling through it.
A coffin with the lid cracked. “

I love an unreliable narrator and Casey certainly fits that bill  Flawed and tortured, she’s drinking herself into oblivion each day to numb the pain of her husband’s death and being back at the place that haunts her, where his death happened, is far from helping.  She craves an escape, and alcohol offers that.  I liked her and enjoyed her drunken and paranoid musings, even though she obviously needed to get sober and stop watching and obsessing over the Royces.  The other characters are equally as compelling and unreliable, leaving the reader constantly second guessing themselves and adding to the suspense. 

Atmospheric, unnerving, twisty and completely over the top, this is perfect for anyone who enjoys a thriller that is a little bit different.

Rating: ✮✮✮✮✰

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MEET THE AUTHOR:

Riley Sager is the New York Times bestselling author of six novels, most recently Home Before Dark and Survive the Night. His first novel, Final Girls, has been published in 30 countries and won the ITW Thriller Award for Best Hardcover Novel. His latest book, The House Across the Lake, will be published in 2022 by Dutton Books.

A native of Pennsylvania, he now lives in Princeton, New Jersey.

Website

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BUY THE BOOK:

Waterstones | Amazon | Bookshop.org

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Thanks for reading Bibliophiles 😊 Emma xxxx

Please check out the reviews from the other bloggers taking part in this tour.

*All purchase links are affiliate links

Categories
Blog Tours book reviews Emma's Anticipated Treasures

BLOG TOUR: The Guest House by Robin Morgan-Bentley

Published: June 23rd, 2022
Publisher: Orion
Genre: Thriller, Mystery, Suspense, Psychological Thriller, Crime Fiction, Medical Thriller
Format: Hardcover, Kindle, Audiobook

Welcome to my stop on the blog tour for this tense and twisty thriller. Thank you to Tracy at Compulsive Readers Tours for the invitation to take part and Orion for the gifted copy of the book.

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SYNOPSIS:

KEEP YOUR FAMILY SAFE.
WHATEVER THE COST…

Jamie and Victoria are expecting their first baby.

With a few weeks to go, they head off for a final weekend break in a remote part of the North Pennines. The small and peaceful guesthouse is the ideal location to unwind together before becoming parents. Upon arrival, they are greeted by Barry and Fiona, the older couple who run the guesthouse. They cook them dinner and show them to their room before retreating to bed themselves.

The next morning, Jamie and Victoria wake to find the house deserted. Barry and Fiona are nowhere to be seen. All the doors are locked. Both their mobile phones and car keys have disappeared. Even though it’s a few weeks early, Victoria knows the contractions are starting.

The baby is coming, and there’s no way out.

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MY REVIEW:

“Every time, after each scan of the nursery, I find myself on the verge of surrender… My hand hovers over the nine.  Just press it three times, Jamie.  Take the risk.  Tell them what happened in the guest house.” 

The Guest House is a thriller that packs a punch from the start.  It opens with Jamie and Victoria enjoying a last weekend away in a remote guest house a few weeks before their longed for first baby arrives. But on their first night Victoria wakes up with labour pains and they find the guest house is deserted, the doors locked and their mobile phones and car keys missing.  Leaving us on tenterhooks, the story then jumps forward.  Jamie and Victoria are now home but we have no idea what happened that day at the guest house.  Is their baby ok?  Why is someone sending them anonymous veiled threats?  And what is the secret that they are so scared will be revealed?  

Robin Morgan-Bentley has done it again. Deceptively layered and complex, this perfectly executed psychological thriller takes you on a twist-filled rollercoaster ride that exceeded my already high expectations. It is deceptively layered and complex, a perfectly executed psychological thriller takes you on a twist-filled rollercoaster ride that I absolutely loved. The story moves between timelines as Jamie and Victoria tell their story piece by piece, slowly revealing the true horror of what happened that fateful day.  Drenched in atmosphere, sizzling with suspense and charged with adrenaline, the fear, heartache, guilt, regret and internal conflict leaps from the page and the scenes from the guest house are a ticking time bomb of sheer dread.  It is one of those books that you clear your schedule for and I devoured it in under a day. 

The characters are well written and intriguing, and I liked that both Jamie and Victoria narrated the story and that neither of them were what you’d typically expect.  Victoria isn’t the sweet, demure new mother that we typically see and I actually found her quite cold, hard to like and difficult to connect with.  On the other hand, Jamie is a very likeable, endearing character that I felt a strong connection with.  Another thing I liked about Jamie is the representation of disability.  As a disabled person it is great to see disability portrayed in such a realistic way, where it is simply part of his character and not a weakness or flaw.  It doesn’t stop him doing normal or even heroic things, in fact it makes him even more determined to protect his family.  I also liked that he was given the opportunity to address how other people’s perceptions and judgement make him feel, something I related to on a personal level.  We need more characters like Jamie in fiction so that those without experience of living with disability see us as we are, not simply a token character to be pitied or seen as a burden. 

Riveting, addictive and unbearably tense, this dark and twisted tale will have you on the edge of your seat from beginning to end. A must read for  any thriller lover. 

Rating: ✮✮✮✮.5

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MEET THE AUTHOR:

Robin Morgan-Bentley was born and grew up in London. After studying Modern and Medieval Languages at Cambridge University, he went on to work for Google before moving to Audible, where he has been working since 2014.

His debut thriller, The Wreckage, was nominated for the CWA Dagger John Creasey New Blood Award, the CrimeFest Specsavers Debut Crime Award and Capital Crime’s Debut Book of the Year Award. His next thriller, The Guest House, will be released in the UK in June 2022 and in the US in September 2022.

Robin lives in Buckinghamshire with his husband and son.

Website

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BUY THE BOOK:

Waterstones*| Amazon*| Bookshop.org*
*These are affiliate links

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Thanks for reading Bibliophiles 😊Emma xxx

Please check out the reviews from the other bloggers taking part in the tour.

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Blog Tours book reviews Emma's Anticipated Treasures

BLOG TOUR: Summer Fever by Kate Riordan

Published: May 12th 2022
Publisher: Michael Joseph
Genre: Mystery, Thriller, Suspense, Psychological Thriller, Crime Fiction, Holiday Fiction
Format: Paperback, Kindle, Audiobook

Welcome to my stop on the tour for this sizzling summer thriller. Thank you to Jen at Michael Joseph for the invitation to take part and the gifted ARC.

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SYNOPSIS:

Two couples. One sweltering Italian villa . . .

Nick and Laura are the hosts:
pretending their marriage isn’t on the rocks.

Madison and Bastian are the guests:
neither is remotely who they claim to be.

Under the scorching Mediterranean sun
no secret is safe.
No betrayal goes unnoticed.

Two couples. But will either survive the summer . . .

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MY REVIEW:

After the heartbreak of infertility takes them to breaking point, Laura and Nick decide to start again in Italy.  Luna Rossa promises to be that fresh start and when their first guests arrive it looks like things are finally looking up.  But Madison and Bastian aren’t who they claim to be, and all four of them are hiding secrets that threaten to turn this dream into a nightmare.

Sexy, sultry and suspenseful, Summer Fever is an edge-of-your seat thriller full of lust, secrets and betrayal.  Kate Riordan is a skilled storyteller who had me transfixed from the first page as she opened with an ominous and foreboding prologue that sets the scene for the rest of the book.

Told in two parts with sporadic flashbacks to the mysterious past love who broke Laura’s heart, I loved how the atmosphere crackled with a deliciously dark tension and overwhelming sense of dread that kept me on tenterhooks.  The flashbacks had that sense of haziness that only looking back on our past with rose-tinted glasses can bring and left me apprehensive about what was in store for Laura, who seemed to be hurtling back towards the fire that had already burned her.  I wanted to yell at her to stop but knew she would never have listened.  There was an air of inevitability that left you feeling powerless to do anything but wait and see just how bad the fallout would be when it came.

The dynamics between each of the four main characters are compelling and I liked how having Laura as our only narrator makes the others a bit of an enigma and you aren’t always sure what to make of them.  But one of my favourite things is how she transported me to the sweltering shores of Italy with such realism that I could almost feel the sun beating down on me and see the gorgeous view from Luna Rossa.  Italy has always been at the top of my bucket list and I felt like I got a virtual holiday there thanks to this book, albeit one with a lot of turmoil. 

Alluring, addictive and sizzling with tension, this is the perfect thriller to read in the sun with a glass of wine in hand.  

Rating: ✮✮✮✮✰

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MEET THE AUTHOR:

Kate Riordan is a writer and journalist. She is an avid reader of Daphne du Maurier and Agatha Christie, both of whom have influenced her writing. She lives in the Cotswolds, where she writes full-time. Her previous novels include The Girl In The Photograph, The Shadow Hour, The Stranger and The Heatwave, which was a Richard and Judy Book Club pick. Summer Fever is her fifth novel.

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BUY THE BOOK:

Waterstones* | Amazon* | Bookshop.org*
*These are affiliate links

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Thanks for reading Bibliophiles 😊 Emma xxx

Please check out the reviews from the other bloggers taking part in the tour.

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book reviews Emma's Anticipated Treasures Most Anticipated 2022 Squadpod Book Club Squadpod Recommends Support Debuts

REVIEW: Nobody But Us by Laure Van Rensburg

Published: April 14th 2022
Publisher: Michael Joseph
Genre: Suspense, Psychological Thriller, Romance Novel
Format: Hardcover, Kindle, Audiobook

Nobody But Us was April’s SquadPod Book Club pick, and boy was it a good one! Unpredictable and totally crazy, this is a phenomenal debut that everyone needs to read.

Thank you to Michael Joseph for the gifted copy of the book.

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SYNOPSIS:

MEET 2022’S MOST DANGEROUS COUPLE . . .
________

Steven Harding is a handsome, well-respected professor.
Ellie Masterson is a wide-eyed young college student.

Together, they are driving south from New York, for their first holiday: three days in an isolated cabin, far from the city.

Ahead of them, the promise of long, dark nights – and the chance to explore one another’s bodies, away from disapproving eyes.

It should be a perfect, romantic trip for two.

EXCEPT THAT HE’S NOT WHO HE SAYS HE IS.

BUT THEN AGAIN, NEITHER IS SHE . . .

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MY REVIEW:

“Morning will cast a light on all this, shine on the craziness of the situation; this sham won’t survive sunrise, like all other evil it can only thrive in darkness.” 

What a wild ride!  This is a book that does exactly what it says on the tin and lives up to its tagline that calls Ellie and Steven ‘2022’s most f*cked up couple’.  This one took me quite some time to recover from after reading.  It’s that crazy.  I thought I knew what was in store but I had no idea just how messed up this was going to get…

The story opens with Ellie and Steven heading off on a three-day trip to celebrate their six month anniversary.  They both seem anxious and feel like everything rests on this weekend but the reader is in the dark as to what that is and why.  They quickly arrive at their destination: a remote cabin in the forest, surrounded by snow and with no cell phone reception.  Right then you would know this is going to be a getaway-gone-wrong even if you’d gone into this book blind.  Ominous and claustrophobic, there is an unbearable tension that wreaked havoc on my blood pressure as I tried to guess what would happen next.  But I could never have guessed what was coming if I’d had a hundred guesses.  It plays its cards extremely close to the vest so I won’t say anything more about the plot so you can discover the craziness for yourself. 

Stylish, sinister, scalpel-sharp and sophisticated, Laure Van Rensburg’s cunningly crafted debut is one you won’t forget.  She holds the reader in her vice-like grip, making it impossible to stop reading even when you want to turn away.  Ellie and Steven are richly drawn, memorable, unsavoury and unreliable characters, hiding their dysfunction behind a mask of normalcy that once removed will change everything you thought you knew. 

Unpredictable, darkly atmospheric and charged with adrenaline, Nobody But Us is the debut everyone is going to be talking about.  Laure Van Rensburg is a spectacular new talent that is one to watch and I for one can’t wait to read what she writes next.

READ THIS BOOK!

Rating: ✮✮✮✮.5

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MEET THE AUTHOR:

Laure Van Rensburg is a French writer living in the UK and an Ink Academy alumna. Her stories have appeared in online magazines and anthologies such as Litro Magazine, Storgy Magazine, The Real Jazz Baby (2020 Best Anthology, Saboteur Awards 2020), and FIVE:2:ONE. She has also placed in competitions including 2018 & 2019 Bath Short Story Award.

Her debut novel, Nobody But Us, follows Ellie and Steven who take their first trip away together, but what starts as an idyllic weekend soon takes a darker turn, as it quickly becomes apparent that each of them harbour secrets – and that one of those secrets is deadly.

Nobody But Us (originally titled The Downfall) was shortlisted for the 2019 First Novel Prize, 2019 Novel London Competition and 2019 Flash 500 Novel Opening. It will be published by Michael Joseph in April 2022 and has sold in fourteen territories, including Germany, Italy, Norway and the United States.

Laure’s current work in progress, Eden Lost, was longlisted in 2019 Exeter Novel Prize and more recently shortlisted in the 2020 Lucy Cavendish Fiction Prize.

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BUY THE BOOK:

Waterstones* | Amazon* | Bookshop.org* |
*These are affiliate links

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Thanks for reading Bibliophiles 😊 Emma xxxx

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BLOG TOUR: Quicksand of Memory by Michael J. Malone

Published: April 14th
Publisher: Orenda Books
Genre: Thriller, Mystery
Format: Paperback, Kindle, Audiobook

Welcome to my stop on the blog tour for this powerful psychological thriller. Thank you to Anne at Random Things Tours for the invitation to take part and to Karen at Orenda Books for the gifted ARC.

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SYNOPSIS:

Scarred by their pasts, Jenna and Luke fall in love, brimming with hope for a rosy future. But someone has been watching, with chilling plans for revenge … An emotive, twisty, disturbing new psychological thriller by the critically acclaimed author of A Suitable Lie and In the Absence of Miracles.

Jenna is trying to rebuild her life after a series of disastrous relationships.

Luke is struggling to provide a safe, loving home for his deceased partner’s young son, following a devastating tragedy.

When Jenna and Luke meet and fall in love, they are certain they can achieve the stability and happiness they both desperately need.

And yet, someone is watching.

Someone who has been scarred by past events.

Someone who will stop at nothing to get revenge…

Dark, unsettling and immensely moving, Quicksand of Memory is a chilling reminder that we are not only punished for our sins, but by them, and that memories left to blacken and sharpen over time are the perfect breeding ground for obsession, and murder…

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MY REVIEW:

“Just a hundred yards away, a hooded figure watched. Shadows obscured his face like they were part of his costume. His heartbeat thumped insistently in his neck, and his hands flexed in and out of fists, like lungs drawing in breath.”

Quicksand of Memory is another gripping thriller from Michael J. Malone.  Drenched in atmosphere, charged with adrenaline and sizzling with suspense, there are so many twists I thought I’d get book whiplash.  It’s a ticking time bomb of sheer dread as new couple Luke and Jenna find themselves in the crosshairs of someone with an unquenchable thirst for revenge.  Someone who is watching and waiting for the perfect time to strike…

“Guilt was an ever-present for Luke. It wrapped itself around his heart and mind, weighed down muscle and bone, and invaded his sleep. Every waking moment arrived to him through a filter of shame.” 

A redemption tale that packs a punch, this story will get under your skin and into your heart. A layered, nuanced and complex thriller full of misery, malevolence and misfortune, the richly drawn characters pull you in and there’s a profound sense of loss and sadness that permeates every page.  The story is told by multiple narrators, each of whom is fractured, flawed and trying to break free of the shackles of their past.  But can they ever really manage it?  Malone highlights the importance of positive support and role models in order for us to be able to transcend the negative parts of our lives and succeed in breaking free in the differing levels of success the characters have at overcoming their past.  As the spectres of their past continue to haunt them and the ripple effects continue to mark their lives in present, we see how positive support helps Luke and Jenna to move on and move forward while still feeling the trauma and guilt of their past while Jamie and Amanda, who have had no such support, are stuck in a cycle of anger and bitterness.  I enjoyed each perspective and felt the most empathy for Jamie, despite his terrible actions.  I felt like he truly was a victim of circumstance and he would be a better person with the right encouragement, help and support, whereas Amanda seemed rotten to her core and to delight in causing pain to others.  

“But now the spectre of Danny hung over them. Toxins flowing from his ever-strong memory, poisons that leached into Luke’s every vein, every muscle, tainting every thought, perception and action.”

Michael J. Malone is a talented storyteller who will take you through a range of emotions while reading and is the master of dark thrillers that also hold a deeper, more important message.  In this book he explores a number of harrowing and difficult topics such as dysfunctional families, neglect, trauma, drug use and violence.  He examines the correlation between poverty, violence and drug use and the lack of a father figure, and also asks what drives people to destruction and revenge.  He also poses the question of whether we truly have free will or are our lives  shaped by circumstances and events?

“He felt like there were two people living under his skin. The little boy who craved love and attention. And the one who wanted to set fire to the world.” 

Sinister, suspenseful and compelling, Quicksand of Memory is a powerful and thought-provoking thriller that you don’t want to miss.

Rating: ✮✮✮✮✰

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MEET THE AUTHOR:

Michael Malone is a prize-winning poet and author who was born and brought up in the heart of Burns’ country. He has published over 200 poems in literary magazines throughout the UK, including New Writing Scotland, Poetry Scotland and Markings. Blood Tears, his bestselling debut novel won the Pitlochry Prize from the Scottish Association of Writers. Other published work includes: Carnegie’s Call; A Taste for Malice; The Guillotine Choice; Beyond the Rage; The Bad Samaritan; and Dog Fight. His psychological thriller, A Suitable Lie, was a number-one bestseller, and the critically acclaimed House of Spines and After He Died soon followed suit. Since then, he’s written two further thought-provoking, exquisitely written psychological thrillers In the Absence of Miracles and A Song of Isolation, cementing his position as a key proponent of Tartan Noir and an undeniable talent. A former Regional Sales Manager (Faber & Faber) he has also worked as an IFA and a bookseller. Michael lives in Ayr.

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BUY THE BOOK:

Orenda Books | Waterstones* | Amazon* | Bookshop.org*
*These are affiliate links

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Thanks for reading Bibliophiles 😊 Emma xxx

Please check out the reviews from the other bloggers taking part in the tour.