Don’t Speak

When a teenage girl is found brutally murdered, DS Amelie Davis struggles to keep her own trauma from clouding the investigation. After suffering years of abuse at the hands of her father, Amelie has only ever trusted one man – her husband Edward.


BUT HE MIGHT BE THE MOST DANGEROUS OF ALL


In the middle of the night, she receives a phone call from an unknown number. The voice at the other end asks:


DO YOU THINK YOU KNOW YOUR HUSBAND?


Suddenly, Amelie fears Edward is not the man she thought she knew. In fact, he might just be the killer she’s been hunting…

As a real fan of an intriguing mystery,  I was definitely seduced by the premise of this book featuring a brutal murder, a missing girl and some shocking revelations – when I discovered that it featured mysterious late-night calls to boot that really sealed the deal for me and it quickly zoomed to the top of my TBR pile. I was delighted to be invited on the tour by the lovely Tracy and Orion Crime and couldn’t wait to see if it was as unsettling as I expected

This book definitely did not disappoint, it pulled me right into the story. I was really intrigued by the premise of the book and wanted to uncover everything that’s going on for Amelie – and where her own life intersects with the mystery.

I absolutely loved the present-day setting of this novel and definitely found the disappearance and the ensuing revelations about Amelie’s own demons that have come back to haunt her. It was intriguing to see which trail of breadcrumbs would prove to be the right one as AJ Park kept me changing my mind from one moment to the next. The fact that each new revelation presents us with fresh clues and small insights into what has happened in the past was a fantastic device and really kept me on my toes as a reader as this novel unfolded

Don't Speak: ‘A master of suspense’ Sophie Hannah by [A. J. Park]

Even though there have been lots of novels this year that focus on people going missing, the writing here ensures that the characters we meet allow this plot to unfold in an original way which makes the story feel fresh and innovative, rather than plowing a familiar furrow. I think that the analogy of a jigsaw puzzle, where you strive to find the missing pieces is an excellent analogy for this book and even the most addicted puzzle solvers will find much to occupy their brains here as it’s so well-crafted.

AJ Park is an intriguing new writer for me – it’s hard to talk about this novel without spoilers, so I’ll just need to tell you that you must read it for yourself. You will be intrigued by Amelie’sunenviable situation and want to read on and find out exactly what is behind this mysterious disappearance and what else will emerge from her past that seems to be having such a seismic impact on the present day. It’s not one of these ‘keep looking for the big twist’ stories that people are getting a little bored of now. It is just that things start to appear through the murk and you’ll not be able to believe you never noticed them…

Anyone interested in twisty reads and who loves trying to work out which characters to trust…or not…will love this gripping novel. I had really high hopes for Don’t Speak and I’m delighted to say that I was definitely not disappointed. It was definitely a book that  I’ll be recommending to lots of readers as I was totally intrigued by its pace and the way it really kept me guessing

The idea that life can be a lot darker and more interesting than you might think on the surface is a very intriguing one. I think that this would make an excellent Book Group read as it would be sure to provoke lots and lots of discussion…

Buy yourself a copy here if you want to get to the heart of the mystery

Writer On The Shelf

A.J. Park is the author of The First Lie, published by Orion Fiction. His second psychological thriller, Don’t Speak, will arrive on 25th November 2021. The translation rights to The First Lie have been sold to publishers in Germany, Slovakia and the Czech Republic.


A.J. Park’s real name is Karl Vadaszffy. Karl Vadaszffy is the author of three novels: The Missing, which was twice a Kindle top ten bestseller in the UK, peaking at number 6, as well as a number one bestseller in Australia, Sins of the Father and Full of Sin. He is also a freelance journalist and the Head of English at a secondary school in Hertfordshire.


The Missing has now been repackaged and republished as an A.J. Park book.

Dead Mercy Noelle Holton Blog Tour.

‘Hugely confident … harrowing, visceral … recommended’ Ian Rankin on Dead Inside

A brutal murder…

When a burned body is found with its teeth missing, DC Maggie Jamieson discovers that the victim may be the husband of one of her probation colleagues.

A dark history…

As the body count rises, the team becomes increasingly baffled by how the victims could possibly be connected until a clue leads them to a historical case that was never prosecuted.

A terrible secret…

Dead Mercy: A gripping serial killer thriller filled with secrets and suspense (Maggie Jamieson thriller, Book 5) by [Noelle Holten]

In order to catch the killer, Maggie must piece together what happened all those years ago before it’s too late.

I haven’t been as excited to write a blog post for a very long time and my only worry is that I won’t be able to accurately convey just how much I enjoyed this book in words. When you read a lot, it’s hard to pick your favourites as there are so many books clamouring for your attention.

If you haven’t met DC Maggie Jamieson yet, then you are about to be introduced to your next favourite crime series and if like me you’ve been waiting on Book 5 coming out then you’ll absolutely understand why I couldn’t resist reading it straight away – and even though my TBR is looking very tempting right now, this book skipped its way to the top of the pile and I have absolutely zero regrets about that…

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Although I was totally absorbed in the plot of Dead Mercy, and with that stunning opening, how could I fail to be? It is undoubtedly the deft and gritty characterisation in Noelle Holton’s writing that makes it such a stand-out series  Maggie herself jumps off the page as a fully-realised human being that I 100% believed in from the get-go and five books in, I can safely say that I could not put this book down as I got entirely caught up in this tale that pulled me right into her latest investigation and didn’t let me go.

Maggie is one of those rare characters that you instantly connect with, despite her life experiences being almost diametrically opposed to my own as an English teacher in a boarding school that has definitely never had to cope with a brutal murder where the victim has been tortured and burned alive. The tale was so well drawn that I could wholly imagine myself there and it definitely felt like a slice of true crime that I was reading rather than a fictional rendition. It’s definitely one of those books that you feel like googling the events of it to see the news story behind it and I love the fact that we get the whole multi-agency approach to an investigation through the whole team of Maggie, Kate, Nathan, Kat and the rest of the team

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Maggie is definitely one of those protagonists that you will be rooting for as you read. I think that it’s a testament to the strength of the writing that we absolutely believe in her and her ability to get to the bottom of this brutal crime throughout the novel. Her relationship with the characters around her are convincingly and vividly depicted. I love the fact that she’s a real team player and her perspective on the case and her conversations with her team ring true throughout this story as it unfolds bringing a credibility to the narrative that’s often lacking in crime fiction.

If you are looking for a fabulous new series in crime fiction then look no further and you’ll be delighted that this is the fifth installment. I guarantee that like me, you’ll be up unto the wee small hours, desperate to find out how this pageturner ends. Its pace is just perfect – it’s engrossing without ever feeling rushed or too hectic and really gives you time to try and navigate the case for yourself alongside Maggie and her team. I was absolutely blown away once again, and can’t wait to see what Noelle does next.

You will definitely find it hard to put this book down as you’ll be so wrapped up in this psychologically convincing and intelligently constructed case that you’ll need to keep reading and find out how it all ends. Neither Maggie nor Dr Kate Moloney are characters to give up easily, no matter the circumstances, so it’s safe to say that there were parts of this novel that I read with a thudding heart and sweaty palms as I was not sure how it was all going to end. Needless to say, I was not disappointed and I’m really jealous of anyone who’s yet to start reading this fantastically written series, as they are definitely in for an absolute treat.

I  heartily recommend it to people who really like to get their teeth into a story that feels resolutely real and never lets you forget that even though this is fiction, there are plenty of teams like Maggie’s out there doing their best for the lost, the missing and the murdered all over the world. I love Noelle Holton’s skilful characterisation as much as I enjoyed her plots in this series, and I will definitely keep recommending it to friends of mine who enjoy crime novels that stand out head and shoulders above the rest of the competition.

Dead Mercy: A gripping serial killer thriller filled with secrets and suspense (Maggie Jamieson thriller, Book 5) by [Noelle Holten]

You need to buy this book, that is my Autumn reading advice for you – get comfortable on these cosy nights and treat yourself to an absolutely amazing read. All I can do now is count down to Noelle’s next book – but I can say one thing for sure, Dead Mercy will take some beating…

Writer On The Shelf

Noelle Holton

Noelle Holten is an award-winning blogger at www.crimebookjunkie.co.uk. She is the PR & Social Media Manager for Bookouture, a leading digital publisher in the UK, and worked as a Senior Probation Officer for eighteen years, covering a variety of risk cases as well as working in a multi agency setting.

She has three Hons BA’s – Philosophy, Sociology (Crime & Deviance) and Community Justice – and a Masters in Criminology. Noelle’s hobbies include reading, attending as many book festivals as she can afford and sharing the booklove via her blog. Dead Inside – her debut novel with One More Chapter/Harper Collins UK is an international kindle bestseller and the start of a new series featuring DC Maggie Jamieson.

Psychopaths Anonymous – Orenda Blog Tour

Maeve has everything. A high-powered job, a beautiful home, a string of uncomplicated one-night encounters. She’s also an addict: A functioning alcoholic with a dependence on sex and an insatiable appetite for killing men. 

When she can’t find a support group to share her obsession, she creates her own. And Psychopaths Anonymous is born. Friends of Maeve. 

Now in a serious relationship, Maeve wants to keep the group a secret. But not everyone in the group adheres to the rules, and when a reckless member raises suspicions with the police, Maeve’s drinking spirals out of control. 

She needs to stop killing. She needs to close the group. 

But Maeve can’t seem to quit the things that are bad for her, including her new man…

A scathing, violent and darkly funny book about love, connection, obsessions and sex – and the aspects of human nature we’d prefer to hide – Psychopaths Anonymous is also an electrifyingly original, unpredictable thriller that challenges virtually everything.

I’m absolutely over the moon to be reunited with Detective Sergeant Pace this autumn, after falling for him in Good Samaritans, Nothing Important Happened Today and Hinton Hollow Death Trip, and I couldn’t wait to meet Maeve and her fellow #PsychopathsAnonymous in another wild and wonderful walk on the dark side with one of my favourite writers. I’m delighted to be joining the blog tour and honoured to be introducing more readers to a series that you’ll hopefully adore just as much as I do…

thrillers; psychological suspense; literary fiction; British; noir; dark; crime; murder; criminal

I try not to make sweeping generalisations in my reviews, but I do have to say that I’m pretty sure you’ll never have met anyone quite like Maeve before. The portrait of this multi-faceted and glitteringly dangerous creation is pitch-perfect and will draw you right into this story with the Will Carver trademark blend of horror and fascination.

thrillers; psychological suspense; literary fiction; British; noir; dark; crime; murder; criminal

If you are turned off by darkness and horror then this is perhaps not the book for you, and definitely don’t say that you haven’t been warned. If it’s not enough of a giveaway in the title, the fact that we are dealing with psychopaths here means that some of the scenes are not for the faint-hearted and Maeve definitely pulls no punches. If you are looking for something to remind yourself of the goodness inherent within human nature, you’ve come to the wrong place – but if you are a fan of crime with a twist, then you’ll adore this marvellously dark and original read.

thrillers; psychological suspense; literary fiction; British; noir; dark; crime; murder; criminal

The fact that we see events from Maeve’s twisted and warped perspective gives this book a really vivid and original point of view and I loved getting an insight into a brain that moved at a velocity and ferocity that I’d never experienced the like of before. The female of the species can indeed be deadlier than the male – and Will Carver certainly conveys this for his readers in glorious technicolour. What he is always so successful at is presenting us with evil that lives among us and Maeve and her merry band are no exception. And it’s not all po-faced either – there are flashes of very dark humour here that hit the mark and serve to make the darkness all the more chilling at the same time. There is so much going on in this novel that is immoral, inappropriate and downright illegal that you won’t know where to turn. It’s definitely a journey into the dark heart of humanity, but what a fascinating one it is.

thrillers; psychological suspense; literary fiction; British; noir; dark; crime; murder; criminal

Will Carver is a talented and original writer whose characters spring off the page and come to life for you as you try and work out what makes them tick. Sometimes it’s a salutary reminder as a reader that he is not inventing society in these pages but recreating it as it really is without the sugar-coated veneer. Maeve’s character is truly unforgettable – she is unscrupulous, dangerous and endlessly imaginative and it is an unforgettable ride that we are buckled into as we see her fantasies and plotting escalate as the narrative unfolds. As I’ve said – it’s not a tale for the faint-hearted, but if you are a fan of a dark and stormy ride, you won’t be able to look away as Carver leads us deep into the heart of what makes some people tick and draw us further and further into Sergeant Pace’s unenviable cat and mouse game…

Psychopaths Anonymous is a superb blend of skilful plotting with unforgettable characterisation and one of the most original narrators I’ve enjoyed the pleasure of this year. I’ll be recommending to everyone. It stands out to me due to its in your face narrator and the way it keeps us constantly reflective about humanity and the depths we are capable of as we are reading and there is no letting up. I absolutely loved it and it’s definitely left me desperate for the Will Carver instalment and hoping that I don’t have to wait too long…

I’d like to thank both Anne Cater and Karen from Orenda for the opportunity to talk about another fantastic Orenda book as part of the tour and I’m so grateful to them both for keeping me in books that I can’t wait to shout about – both here on my blog and with my bookish friends in real life!

Buy yourself a copy of Psychopaths Anonymous here, you definitely won’t regret it.

Writer On The Shelf

Will Carver is the international bestselling author of the January David series. 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 two children. Will’s latest title published by Orenda Books, The Beresford is out in July 2021.

His previous title Hinton Hollow Death Trip was longlisted for the Not the Booker Prize, while Nothing Important Happened Today was longlisted for the Theakston’s Old Peculier Crime Novel of the Year. Good Samaritans was book of the year in Guardian, Telegraph and Daily Express, and hit number one on the ebook charts.

Before My Actual Heart Breaks Blog Tour

‘If I could go back to being sixteen again, I’d do things differently.’
‘Everyone over the age of forty feels like that, you total gom,’ says my best friend Lizzie Magee.

When she was young Mary Rattigan wanted to fly. She was going to take off like an angel from heaven and leave the muck and madness of troubled Northern Ireland behind. Nothing but the Land of Happy Ever After would do for her.

But as a Catholic girl with a B.I.T.C.H. for a Mammy and a silent Daddy, things did not go as she and Lizzie Magee had planned.

Now, five children, twenty-five years, an end to the bombs and bullets, enough whiskey to sink a ship and endless wakes and sandwich teas later, Mary’s alone. She’s learned plenty of hard lessons and missed a hundred steps towards the life she’d always hoped for.

Will she finally find the courage to ask for the love she deserves? Or is it too late?

Before My Actual Heart Breaks by Tish Delaney

Before My Actual Heart Breaks by Tish Delaney is a stunning read that brings its central character’s difficult life alive in beautifully evocative prose. Mary Rattigan lives on a farm with her family in pretty challenging circumstances – Sadie, the matriarch of the family, drives her children away as soon as they’re able to escape, due to her emotional cruelty and the harsh discipline she doles out with merciless regularity. Mary perhaps because she’s the youngest and last to be able to leave, endures this the longest and manages to endure the awfulness of her childhood through fantasising about her escape and envisaging her new life as far away from Sadie and her clutches as is humanly possible…

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Mary’s strict Catholic upbringing is set in the 1970s, against the backdrop of the Troubles. This period is brought vividly to life through tiny details that make the numbing misery of Mary’s day-to-day life have a real impact on the reader. Like me, you’ll be longing for her to find the pot of gold at the end of the rainbow – but as we know – things don’t always work out like that. Mary’s desperation to escape from the misery and lovelessness of her upbringing results in her making a real ‘out of the frying pan and into the fire’ choice when she flees into the arms of husband John…

Romance, debut, Ireland, love story

Married life with John definitely does not provide the ‘happily ever after’ that Mary has been seeking. She finds neither happiness, joy or comfort in her marriage and her emotional response to this is almost to shut her heart off to hope and hide herself away from a world that has offered such little comfort to her in an effort to protect what there is left of herself after so much pain, misery and disappointment.

Mary’s story truly is heartbreaking – we see her at the start of the novel with hopes and dreams we can all relate to. I also grew up in the 1980s and there was much here that I could connect to in terms of my dreams of a life beyond the confines of a small town and a common hope that there would come a time when I too would have more control over my own destiny. Mary’s honesty and hope as a young girl is cruelly juxtaposed with her emotional withdrawal as an adult and you’d have to have a heart of stone not to be truly moved by her understatedly poignant reflections.

As well as Mary’s personal story, this evocative novel also brings Northern Ireland to life and makes the news headlines personal. Hearing about the Troubles in this more human context was really fascinating and I found Mary’s voice and the way that the everyday collided with the political and vice versa to make for a memorable and unputdownable read. If you enjoy a book where humour and sadness sit side by side and where you learn as much about the time and place as you do about the central character then you will absolutely love Tish Delaney’s writing.

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I fell hard for Mary and her spiky, unique personality. Even though at times this was a harrowing and challenging read there were moments of dark humour and personality that shone through the darkness and made Mary a character that I don’t think I’ll ever forget. It is a testament to the writing that you absolutely forget that these are created characters and I defy anyone to close this book without being captivated by this deftly captured tale of growing up in the troubles. Thank you so much to Anne Cater from Random Things tours for inviting me on Mary’s journey and I’ll definitely look out for reviews from the other bloggers on the tour

Buy yourself a copy of this stunning read here

Writer On The Shelf

Tish Delaney was born and brought up in Northern Ireland at the height of the Troubles.

Like a lot of people of her generation, she left the sectarian violence behind by moving to England. After graduating from Manchester University, she moved to London and worked on various magazines and broadsheets as a reporter, reviewer and sub-editor. She left the Financial Times in 2014 to live in the Channel Islands to pursue her career as a writer.

Saying Goodbye to Tuesday Blog Tour

‘Clever, compelling, canine and utterly mesmerising’ – Helen Lederer

S
tupendo the dog has died. But that’s just the beginning of his story.

To love and protect. The code of the good dog is clear. When single mother Tuesday took on mongrel pup Stupendo, she made a friend for life. Through the best and the worst of times, Stupendo has been there for her. Ever faithful, ever loyal, ever true. Nothing could break their bond. Until last week.

Stupendo doesn’t know why Tuesday is suddenly ignoring him or why his doggy antics no longer seem to soothe Baby William. It takes his worst enemy – the cat next door – to break the news that Stupendo has become a ghost.

Somehow left behind on Earth, Stupendo knows he has unfinished business. Enlisting the help of the community of animals in the neighbourhood, Stupendo must get to the bottom of the very human sadness that hangs over his old home and keeps him from saying goodbye to Tuesday.

Saying Goodbye to Tuesday by Chrissie Manby is a moving, original and heartwarming tale that would make the perfect gift for the dog lover in your life this Christmas

yellow labrador retriever with tongue out

Stupendo has been there as a faithful and loyal friend for single mother Tuesday no matter what and has provided comfort and friendship through the many ups and downs they’ve shared together. Stupendo is upset and puzzled as to why Tuesday and William are now ignoring him and feels lost, confused, and rejected by this sudden change to the life he’s loved.

yellow labrador retriever sitting on ground

Everything becomes horrible clear when the cat next door, formerly Stupendo’s arch-enemy, breaks the news that this change is because he has died and is now a ghost. In order to cope with this seismic change, in his circumstances, Stupendo joins forces with his animal friends to try and work through these feelings and come to terms with this news. Somehow he has to learn to say goodbye – but how can he do that when life with Tuesday and William is still going on all around him?

brown short coated dog lying on floor

I loved this book. You don’t have to be a dog lover to fall hard for Stupendo’s beautifully written and emotional tale, but if you are one you’ll be moved to tears by his very human response to grief, loss and change. Saying Goodbye to Tuesday does not miss a single beat in its exploration of the great love that exists between humans and their pets and by looking at it from this unusual perspective, it will reassure pet lovers that this great love is never one sided.

medium short-coated white dog lying on green grass field

Chrissie Manby is a wonderful writer and this moving and unique tale is her best yet! Thank you so much to Jenny Platt for inviting me on the tour – it’s not my usual kind of read, but I absolutely loved it.

yellow labrador retriever puppy on green grass field during daytime

Saying Goodbye to Tuesday by Chrissie Manby is available to purchase here

Praise for SAYING GOODBYE TO TUESDAY:

‘An emotional, lovely read, just perfect for animal lovers. It was a joy to read, although have tissues handy’ – Rachel Wells, bestselling author of Alfie the Doorstep Cat

‘Pawfection. It’s emotional and joyful and utterly compelling‘ – Alex Brown

‘A gorgeous, ingenious story’ – Amanda Brookfield

This isn’t just a story about a dog, it’s a story about the very meaning of life, told from a unique and bold perspective. Filled with joyful bittersweetness and clear-eyed wisdom it made me both laugh and cry and its message of hope will stay with me for a long time to come’ – Alexandra Potter

Writer On The Shelf

Chrissie Manby is the author of seventeen romantic comedies including A PROPER FAMILY HOLIDAY, THE MATCHBREAKER and SEVEN SUNNY DAYS. She has had several Sunday Times bestsellers and her recent novel about behaving badly after a break-up, GETTING OVER MR RIGHT, was nominated for the 2011 Melissa Nathan Award.

Chrissie was raised in Gloucester, in the west of England, and now lives in London. Contrary to the popular conception of chick-lit writers, she is such a bad home-baker that her own father threatened to put her last creation on http://www.cakewrecks.com. She is, however, partial to white wine and shoes she can’t walk in.  

You can follow her on Twitter @chrissiemanby, or visit her website http://www.chrissiemanby.co.uk to find out more.

The House with 46 Chimneys

The House With 46 Chimneys is an adventure story set against the background of the early days of the coronavirus lockdown.

Life changes dramatically for Kaleb, Jude and Sequoia when they move to live with their aunt in a rural corner of central Scotland. But then life is changing dramatically for everyone. It’s the beginning of April 2020, the early days of the coronavirus lockdown. The roads are nearly empty of cars and the blue skies almost clear of aeroplanes.

Three local children they meet – in a socially distanced way – draw them into a two-century old family mystery involving the haunting of the nearby ruins of Dunmore Park, ‘The House With 46 Chimneys’. As the book builds to its climax, the children are faced with a decision. Do they try to right a wrong that was done in 1828, a wrong that has had consequences ever since? Or is doing so simply too dangerous?

The House with 46 Chimneys is a wonderful read that I’ll be recommending to all my teacher colleagues as soon as we return to school and I’m sure that many of them will be keen to explore it with their classes as it has a local interest angle tat really intrigued and fascinated me too .

I absolutely loved both the tale and its narrative voice and if you haven’t read it you need to add it to your TBR pile without delay as it satisfied my urge to read a story that confounded my expectations and proved that you don’t need to be a young person to fall in love with characters and tales written with a younger audience in mind.

Dunmore House – Hole Ousia
Dumore House

Although I was totally absorbed in the story in The House with 46 Chimneys , it is the characters in this absorbing tale that makes it such a treat to read.  The contemporary aspect of the story is so vividly realised that it was hard at times to remember that these are fictional characters rather than real people whose adventures I was vicariously getting to experience. The way that these adventures are represented in the story is so well done that this would be the perfect tale to read aloud – either in class or at home and the very different characters and personalities that you get to meet will be sure to spring off the page. The setting was something that really appealed to me as I loved reading books set in places that I know and this setting is somewhere that I played and ran around in myself, as a younger reader Added to this was the fact that I enjoy a story that keeps me on my toes and turning the pages and this certainly did!

The world that Ken Lussey creates is very vivid and exciting to experience alongside these characters as we explore it with them and are introduced in turn to the historical back story that we encounter. You will definitely find it hard to put this book down and I read it in a single sitting as I was so invested in this intriguing story and if you are yet to start reading it, you’re definitely in for a treat.

I absolutely recommend this book to people who really enjoy a story that is original, compelling, and interesting in equal measure. In the present reading climate, many books seem a bit too much like something you’ve read before – and this book certainly stood out a mile for me in terms of books for younger readers as a teacher myself. I loved the characterization as much as I enjoyed the plot and I will definitely be recommending it to friends with children who are looking for a great family read with characters that feel like they step right off the page. It shows the challenge of stepping out with your reading comfort zone – and would definitely lead to some positive and thought-provoking family conversations in a most non-preachy way.

Buy yourself a copy here and enjoy experiencing a tale that you won’t forget in a hurry from Ken Lussey

Writer On The Shelf

Ken Lussey spent his first 17 years following his family around the world; his father was a Royal Air Force navigator. This was a process involving seven schools and a dozen different postal addresses. He went to Hull University in 1975, where he spent much of his time hitch-hiking around Great Britain, met his wife Maureen and did just enough actual work to gain a reasonable degree in philosophy, that most useful of subjects!

Before getting a ‘proper job’, he researched and wrote ‘A Hitch-Hiker’s Guide to Great Britain’, which was published by Penguin Books in 1983. He spent the next couple of decades as a civil servant, during which time he fulfilled the long-held ambition of moving to Scotland. In more recent times he has helped Maureen establish the website ‘Undiscovered Scotland’ as the ultimate online guide to Scotland and come full circle by returning to writing.

Ken’s latest novel, published by Arachnid Press, is ‘Bloody Orkney’ and is the third in his series of thrillers set in Scotland during World War Two. Its two predecessors, ‘Eyes Turned Skywards’ and ‘The Danger of Life’ were published in 2018 and 2019 by Fledgling Press. He has also written ‘The House With 46 Chimneys’, an adventure story for younger readers set in central Scotland against the background of the early days of the coronavirus lockdown. This was published in late 2020 by Arachnid Press.

Quiet People – Orenda Blog Tour

Cameron and Lisa Murdoch are successful New Zealand crime writers, happily married and topping bestseller lists worldwide. They have been on the promotional circuit for years, joking that no one knows how to get away with crime like they do. After all, they write about it for a living. So when their challenging seven-year-old son Zach disappears, the police and the public naturally wonder if they have finally decided to prove what they have been saying all this time… Are they trying to show how they can commit the perfect crime?

Bestseller Paul Cleave returns with a tense and chilling thriller about family, public outrage and what a person might be capable of under pressure, that will keep you guessing until the final page…

It’s a huge pleasure to be on the Blog Tour for #TheQuietPeople and I’m not exaggerating when I say that I’ve been waiting for weeks to shout about this book. I love Paul Cleave and I have been waiting for his newest release ever since our book group devoured The Cleaner and I’m delighted to be able to report that it’s every bit as good as I knew that it was going to be. I read this right through from cover to cover this autumn on my ‘Half term Road Trip’ and enjoyed every last morsel of this intelligent, tense, and twisty read – thank you so much to Anne Cater for inviting me on the tour and ensuring that all of her fantastic #RandomThings bloggers always have such amazing books to recommend!

I really enjoy taking part in Blog Tours as it definitely makes sure that my bookshelf is always crammed full of books that I can’t wait to read. The Quiet People was definitely one of those books that I got totally caught up in as it was just what I needed to unwind with after a more than hectic term and I was so looking forward to it. I actually stayed in a beautiful Airbnb in Inveraray that had an amazing view and I enjoyed devouring this book as I relaxed there, getting totally caught up in this grippy, twisty tale

boat on sea near mountain under cloudy sky during daytime

I love novels that deal with True Crime through fiction and the Murdochs lives are wonderfully realised here. The fact that they have boasted so openly about their ability to commit the ‘perfect crime’ is such a creative plot idea – and you absolutely get caught up in this ‘what if’ situation as you see what might be the end result if what you’ve claimed in the past comes vividly to life…

Psychological Thrillers;Literary Fiction; Suspense;Peter Swanson;Mark Edwards;Hard-Boiled Mysteries;

As soon as I started reading it,  I wanted to find out how this would all unfold and got totally caught up in this journey to try and uncover the truth. I loved the initial premise and found the way that this story unfolded so engrossing once I’d started: I find that Paul Cleave writes so well about human nature and where its dark corners may hide the worst of our excesses – he is able to convey the way that very ordinary people deal with the most improbable events and deftly proves time and time again that people who are desperate will do the most improbable things if they think that they might never have to account for themselves or pay the consequences…

Psychological Thrillers;Literary Fiction; Suspense;Peter Swanson;Mark Edwards;Hard-Boiled Mysteries;

I also enjoyed the way that this novel allows us to see the complexity of human relationships, rather than just skate over the surface in pursuit of the plot that we are so often presented with in fiction and I think that this is one of the things that I enjoyed most about this book. Hearing the ensuing conflict between Cameron and Lisa is a very human touch that we can all immediately connect with, in the middle of such an extreme situation- which enables us to reconsider these events from more than one perspective and this shifting point of view makes sure that we are kept on our toes as readers as we navigate through this twisty tale, wondering whose version of reality we should take as our truth, and who might be twisting things and why…

The way that Paul Cleave builds in the layers to this story about what’s really going on beneath the surface and slowly develops our understanding of what is going on in the heads of all the different characters is convincingly done and leads to you feeling like you can really start to understand them as people. I enjoyed working my way forwards, and only stopping when I had to – this is a book to be devoured and I could not stop reading it once I’d started. The day I began it was long and sunny and there were long shadows in the loch before I was prepared to stop reading as I just could not rest until I found out what happened and my heart was in my mouth several times on the way to its clever and brilliantly plotted conclusion.

Psychological Thrillers;Literary Fiction; Suspense;Peter Swanson;Mark Edwards;Hard-Boiled Mysteries;

The Quiet People is a twisty and immersive read as it takes us on a journey to see how far we might go in a similar situation, whilst propelling us along with a gripping narrative that never lets go. It also feels horribly real and as a mother myself, I found myself thinking about what my own feelings might have been, as long as I didn’t look too closely at what she might have been capable of… I was totally captivated by these characters and found myself thinking about their interconnected relationships and the way that our former words and claims can make such a huge impact on our futures I could not stop reading until I finished it far too late on Sunday night and I’m passing it onto my husband as I know that he’ll enjoy its tense atmosphere and clever characterisation.

Psychological Thrillers;Literary Fiction; Suspense;Peter Swanson;Mark Edwards;Hard-Boiled Mysteries;

I found myself thinking about these characters whenever I stopped for a breather and a gin as I enjoyed my autumn break. I am recommending it to everyone in my Wine Library Book Club too. If you enjoy a satisfyingly clever read with characters you can absolutely believe in then you will absolutely love this book. It’s dark, compelling and the tension just does not let up until its conclusion.

Treat yourself to a copy here and enjoy it yourself this winter with a hot drink in front of the fire

Follow the Blog Tour and see how much these other Random Things bloggers loved it too…

Thank you to Anne Cater & Orenda’s Karen Sullivan for the opportunity to be part of The Quiet People’s tour. It’s a privilege to be able to share my review of such a fascinating, nail-biting and chilling read. I bloody loved it and won’t quit until all my friends have read it too.

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‘You may think you know where it’s going, but you couldn’t be more wrong. A true page-turner filled with dread, rage, doubt and more twists than the Remutaka Pass’ Linwood Barclay

‘Paul Cleave is an automatic must-read for me, and The Quiet People shows why – it grabbed me by the throat, shook me around, and left me breathing hard. Fantastic, and highly recommended’ Lee Child

‘Gripping from the first page and full of deliciously dark twists and turns. You can’t be a true fan of crime fiction if you’re not reading Cleave’s books’ Tom Wood

Writer On The Shelf

Paul is an award-winning author who divides his time between his home city of Christchurch, New Zealand, where most of his novels are set, and Europe. He has won the New Zealand Ngaio Marsh Award three times, the Saint-Maur book festival’s crime novel of the year award in France, and has been shortlisted for the Edgar and the Barry in the US and the Ned Kelly in Australia. His books have been translated into over twenty languages. He’s thrown his frisbee in over forty countries, plays tennis badly, golf even worse, and has two cats – which is often two too many. Follow Paul on Twitter @PaulCleave, and his website: paulcleave.com.

Born of No Woman

Nineteenth-century rural France.

Before he is called to bless the body of a woman at the nearby asylum, Father Gabriel receives a strange, troubling confession: hidden under the woman’s dress he will find the notebooks in which she confided the abuses she suffered and the twisted motivations behind them.

And so Rose’s terrible story comes to light: sold as a teenage girl to a rich man, hidden away in a old manor house deep in the woods and caught in a perverse web, manipulated by those society considers her betters.

A girl whose only escape is to capture her life – in all its devastation and hope – in the pages of her diary…

Translated from the French by Lara Vergnaud

I absolutely love it when I find a book that I’ve had no preconceived ideas about that totally blows me away – I was absolutely swept off my reading feet by this unforgettable and emotional read. I can’t stop talking about it as I want as many people as possible to pick up this book and be as caught up as I was in this skilful portrayal of the way society examines guilt, innocence and everything in between in a completely original and devastatingly direct way.

man holding his hands on open book

When a novel hooks you in with a premise like this – dealing with the ultimate taboo of this sort of indecency and whether or not we can defend the seemingly indefensible, you know that you are in for an unforgettable and immersive read, and I just can’t stop thinking about the way this story cast a spell on me It is immediately intriguing to wonder exactly who we can trust in this cleverly constructed tale and speculate about what you might have done in these circumstances and to what extent people’s actions – or lack of them – might be crucial to all that unfolds. It is a testament to the power of the writing that you are absolutely inside this story and feel like these are real people whose lives you have become entangled in – and just like real people’s lives, the truth is rarely as black and white, nor as tidy as people like to think. This tale was not only immersive but absolutely emotionally compelling too and the writing will keep you turning those pages as you imagine yourself caught up in a nightmare like this and think about the way you might have judged people you have heard about or watched on the news in the past when these cases emerge

photography of inside black structure

I hate spoilers, so I don’t want to dwell too long on the plot here, Rose’s life is so skillfully portrayed by Bouysse that you are bound up in the allegations and become carried along in her nightmare journey, feeling every twist and jolt of the agonising situation. The skillful way that he weaves the many and diverse strands of characters and motivations in this very topical and timely tale is superbly done and remains intriguing throughout, Rose is a fascinating character and despite the question about guilt or innocence that burns at the heart of this tale, you never for one minute manage to forget that there is a victim here and there is definitely something dark lurking here that makes us feel protective and devastated at her powerless situation. I know at times it can feel like the fictional world is saturated with abuse stories with potential perpetrators whose diverse motivations create plenty of room for speculation and suspicion, but this time it’s superbly done without a hint of sensationalism or poor taste. The plot bears us along as this story unfolds for Rose never letting up on the feelings of her pain and isolation and adding another layer of emotion and agony for the reader as we are so invested in this tale.

I loved the way that this novel wove both threads together – a convincing juxtaposition of the sacred and the profane – the powerful and the powerless and the guilty and the innocent – allows you to move between them and get more insight into the complexity of this heartbreaking situation. This is the perfect read for these long autumn nights and would be an absolutely amazing book club choice – I guarantee that you’ll be recommending it to so many people afterwards – as you’ll not be able to stop thinking about this heartrending and beautifully plotted story and you’ll want to see what other readers think as soon as they’ve finished.

woman reading book while sitting on chair

Born of No Woman is definitely one of those novels that you are unable to forget, and was far more emotional and lasting a read than I’d ever anticipated – it really is a page-turner; keeping you guessing throughout and firmly entwined in the moral dilemma it asks you to weigh up and charge yourself with

If you enjoy an immersive and moving piece of fiction that challenges your preconceptions and tests your prejudices in a shattering and visceral way then you will love this book as much as I did.  I absolutely can’t recommend it enough and feel like I haven’t been so emotionally caught up in a book for a very long time. Your emotions will be moved every which way by this novel and you should start reading by being prepared to question yourself and your responses several times throughout this fictional journey into an unimaginable situation.

If you feel intrigued and would like to order yourself a copy and find out for yourself what has had such a huge impact on me, then buy yourself a copy here

Check out these other fantastic bloggers on the tour. Thank you so much to Anne Cater from Random Things Tours for the invite – You know that I love an original read and I love reading more books i translation each year on her recommendation!

church interior

Writer On The Shelf

Franck Bouysse was born in France in 1965 and taught biology before devoting himself to writing. His novels Grossir le ciel (2014), Plateau (2016) and Glaise (2017) found great commercial and critical success and have won several literary prizes.

In January 2019, his novel Né d’aucune femme (Born of No Woman) was published. It won the Prix des Libraires, the Prix Psychologie Magazine, the Grand Prix des Lectrices Elle and the Prix Babelio, selling over 100,000 copies.

It will be published in the UK by Weidenfeld & Nicolson in October 2021, in conjunction with US publisher Other Press. Bouysse divides his time between Limoges and a tiny village in Corrèze.

Twitter @RandomTTours @wnbooks @LaraVergnaud

THE HIT NOVEL RECOMMENDED BY FRENCH BOOKSELLERS:


‘The most beautiful French novel of the year’
‘Love at first sight for a book is rare. But this novel left me speechless’
‘Dive in: you’ll come out feeling utterly alive’
‘One of the most beautiful books I’ve ever read’
‘The best book I have read for a long time’
‘This story has something powerful, animal, carnal and terrible too. A punch in the gut’

Black Drop

This is the confession of Laurence Jago. Clerk. Gentleman. Reluctant spy.

July 1794, and the streets of London are filled with rumours of revolution. Political radical Thomas Hardy is to go on trial for treason, the war against the French is not going in Britain’s favour, and negotiations with the independent American colonies are on a knife edge.

Laurence Jago – clerk to the Foreign Office – is ever more reliant on the Black Drop to ease his nightmares. A highly sensitive letter has been leaked to the press, which may lead to the destruction of the British Army, and Laurence is a suspect. Then he discovers the body of a fellow clerk, supposedly a suicide.

Blame for the leak is shifted to the dead man, but even as the body is taken to the anatomists, Laurence is certain both of his friend’s innocence, and that he was murdered. But after years of hiding his own secrets from his powerful employers, and at a time when even the slightest hint of treason can lead to the gallows, how can Laurence find the true culprit without incriminating himself?

A thrilling historical mystery, perfect for readers of C.J. Sansom, Andrew Taylor, Antonia Hodgson and Laura Shepherd-Robinson.

black drop leonora nattrass

I love investigating the real history and time periods found in the books I’m reading and Leonora Nattrass does an amazing job of transporting you back in time and reliving this turbulent and fascinating part of history, which is jam-packed full of double-crossing, back-stabbing, subterfuge and unsteady allegiances  – I could not put to down and it has left me with a real book hangover as it was so immersive and exciting a tale.

The Black Drop truly gives us a fascinating insight into Jago’s experiences and allows us to travel back in time with him and witness these events unfolding at this turbulent and uncertain time in English history– as well as getting the wider impact of these changes  at a very intriguing time in history from the perspective of some unforgettable characters that reminded me of my favourite Du Maurier novel ‘The King’s General’ and set me off in search of more information about what it was like to try and survive on your wits this time in history…

This is a really engrossing read. Nattress has an excellent mixture of characters in this novel, from Jago himself to Philpott and even the dog Mr Gibbs  – which really shows the reader that these turbulent events had an impact on life whoever you were and whatever your situation, providing much food for thought about democracy, independence and morality during this period for a 21st-century readership. There have been a fair few comparisons with Laura Shepherd Robinson and I think that both writers excel at transporting you to another time and immersing you in the sights sounds and smells of a very different world. I think that readers of historical novels have had plenty of Tudor tales to enjoy and will get totally caught up in the dangers and intrigues of a very different period through this novel

I think that Leonora Nattress is just as skilful in writing about personal matters as she is about the history or the politics at this time and the way that the impact of these events was so vividly depicted was a real strength of this novel. It was fascinating to hear about Laudanum from an insider and see the way that politics, corruption and duplicity haven’t moved on much in the last three hundred years…

I loved the fact that Jago’s picaresque and engaging story brings the personal into the historical research and we totally connect with him through the twists and turns of this fascinating ‘confession’ As usual, I spent a lot of time online after finishing it, looking up the history of this time period and falling into a bit of a rabbit hole finding out as much as I could about characters like Jago and there is a wealth of fascinating information here if you are interested too as he was SUCH a fascinating character in his own right. His involvement in this compelling political case makes for engrossing reading and I found myself totally gripped by the exciting, intelligently plotted and very credible tale we find ourselves being told in his own inimitable way…

Fans of historical epics and enthusiasts of novels exploring tpolitical history from a more personal perspective will love this beautifully written novel and I will be recommending it to readers who love period fiction and strongly written literary narratives. I really enjoyed this journey with Jago through a fascinating episode in English history and heartily recommend that you too delve into this period in all its turbulent glory and find out more about it for yourself. 

Buy yourself a copy here and spend an afternoon or two like I did, totally wrapped up in this intelligent and engaging novel that wears its learning lightly and carries you forward as you are compelled to know what unfolds for these characters whose stories remain with you long after you’ve closed the final page. I totally fell for Jago after sharing his confession and firmly recommend it to readers who like an engrossing and fascinating period read.

Historical crime fiction set in a teeming late eighteenth-century London, as nimbly realised as by the genre’s master, Andrew Taylor. Foreign office clerk Laurence Jago is a reluctant spy involved in arcane skulduggery ― Financial Times

Black Drop is a joy from start to finish. I particularly liked the glimpses of the grubby machinery of government from the inside, giving a real sense of the intrigues behind closed doors. Jago is a very sympathetic hero, with all his flaws, virtues and secrets, and Philpott made me want to smile and cheer — Andrew Taylor, author of The Ashes of London

This opium-fuelled gem is a murderous romp through the tangled roots of British democracy — Janice Hallett, author of The Appeal

A gripping, intricate story of Georgian high politics and low life. Leonora Nattrass’s historical spy novel is top notch — W.C. Ryan, author of A House of Ghosts

A riveting political thriller, set at a fulcrum-point in global history. The setting is viscerally immersive and the characters spring to life from the page. This masterful narrative of deception, intrigue and heroism unfolds with compelling pace, wry humour and acute psychological observation. Gripping, moving and utterly engaging — Philippa East, author of Little White Lies

A thrilling slice of pitch-dark historical fiction, led by a superbly engaging narrator. Entertaining and deftly written, this gripping tale of murder and treachery on the smouldering streets of eighteenth-century London deserves to be huge — Emma Stonex, author of The Lamplighters

Nattrass writes so beautifully. Absolutely compelling, and so atmospheric I felt I was there, following Jago around the mean streets of eighteenth-century London — Frances Quinn, author of The Smallest Man

Writer On The Shelf

Leonora Nattrass studied eighteen-century literature and politics, and spent ten years lecturing in English and publishing works on William Cobbett. She then moved to Cornwall, where she lives in a seventeenth-century house with seventeenth-century draughts, and spins the fleeces of her traditional Ryeland sheep into yarn. Black Drop is her first novel.