Odd Bird

Simon Selwood is an academic expert on the monogamous sexual behaviour of birds, but hopeless at finding human love. Then he meets Kim, and at last something is more important to him than ornithology.

Kim doesn’t give a hoot about birds. And at first she isn’t very interested in Simon either. Relying on what he has gleaned from observing the opportunistic pied flycatcher and other species, plus the unorthodox advice of old friend Phil, Simon sets out on a mission to discover love for himself.

But will he make the right choice?

Odd Bird takes a light-hearted look at the battle of the sexes, drawing on the surprising parallels between the courtship behaviours of humans and birds.

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Odd Bird is the story of odd bird Simon, who knows everything there is to know about the mating behaviour of birds. Unfortunately, when it comes to human mating rituals, he is somewhat more in the dark and it seems increasingly unlikely that he will ever find his very own ‘lovebird’ His ever-tolerant friend Phil tries his very best to help Simon find his own flight path through this unfamiliar landscape but sadly, there seem to be little of hi efforts that are coming home to roost. When Simon meets Kim it seems like it is their very lack of synchronicity that bonds them – it is like their lives just don’t align and Simon is never going to find someone to nest with and allow his heart to flutter with his very own long time romance.

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Odd Bird melds Simon’s search for love with a fascinating mixture of facts about the ornithological world- it made for an intriguing blend and allowed you an insight into Simon’s world and plenty of time to think about the parallels and divergence between the feathered patterns of behaviour and the rather more complicated world of human ‘mating patterns’

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I enjoyed the original and thought provoking style of writing and think that this quirky book would make a great book for someone who’s set your heart a flutter this winter. It is always good to read a book that confounds your expectations and this genre-defying read will definitely win over a lot of fans with its deft characterisation and original construction

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Buy yourself a copy here and immerse yourself in Simon’s search for love and see if you can recognise any of the flight patterns here that you have adapted yourself. Odd Bird is a charmingly original read that will definitely make you think as well as entertaining you this autumn. Have a flutter and enjoy letting your imagination take flight…

Writer On The Shelf

Lee Farnsworth
Lee Farnsworth

Lee grew up on a little dairy farm in Lincolnshire alongside a cow named Stupid. When Stupid’s grazing days were over, he headed to Newcastle University to study Genetics. They accidentally awarded him a PhD in molecular biology but, convinced he was going to be found out, he fled into ‘industry’. After doing a load of strategic marketing, Lee kissed the corporate world goodbye to spend more time writing.

In addition to writing fiction, Lee helps business leaders to tell their story. He write speeches, make films and stuff.

Lee lives in Berkshire. He doesn’t have a herd of cows, but he does have two adult children and a large collection of bird feeders. He loves nature, walking and fig rolls.

Shades of Deception

The river Lea, 1902: Archie and his police sergeant pal Frank Tyrell must investigate the disappearance of teenager Lilian and the discovery of a corpse in the River Lea – Eleanor ‘Nell’ Redfern.

Did her father’s ambitious plans to marry her to a rail magnate force her to run away to her watery doom? And Lilian Steggles, a star swimmer with her eye on the 1908 Olympics – why did she disappear from home and where is she now?

Archie uses his artistic skills to identify Nell and track down her story. It leads him deep into the world of music hall, spiritualism, ventriloquism and the corruption beneath it, until a terrible secret is revealed.

I absolutely loved this fascinating historical read. Archie drew me in from the very first paragraph and held me in its spell right until the very final page.

A teenage disappearance, an Olympic star in the making, a corpse discovered in mysterious circumstances– these are some of the many reasons that I was so drawn to Shades of Deception and why I’m so grateful to Anne Cater from #RandomThings Tours for inviting me to participate in this blog tour.

I love immersing myself in a fabulous historical mystery and I felt like I could totally surrender myself to this reading experience and luxuriate in it over a drizzly weekend at the start of the school October holidays/  I really felt like I could imagine Archie’s world and found it very difficult to detach myself from this gripping historical mystery. I loved the idea of a historical crime portrait artist and got totally caught up in his story. I have immediately ordered the other two books and urge you to do the very same!

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Is anyone else like me and love to go online and immerse themselves in the period of the book that they’re loving, to try and really place themselves in the characters’ world? I love doing it and I found myself scrolling through pages and pages of tales of Edwardian crimes, the fashions of the time and the limitations for women living in that periods too – I found it totally fascinating and might have developed a new obsession…

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It was lovely to lose myself in a fantastic historical read after a summer where I’ve been mostly reading contemporary writing and non-fiction.  It’s funny that I get drawn to books in waves, and after reading Shades of Deception I’m now on a real Historical Fiction mission and have been drawn back to one of my comfort-reads –  Rebecca–  set in roughly the same period and dealing with secrets, fractured family dynamics and unspoken feelings, too. I am so excited to see it on the screen later this month and think that these books would make a fantastic TV series too!

The realistic characters and their vividly-depicted lives allowed me to travel back in time with them through its pages.  I really loved the way that tis series draws the reader in and keeps them connected with the crimes and events that Archie becomes embroiled in, as we see the way that people’s choices were far more limited in that era and it is so easy to see why so many families bowed to convention and tried to mask the truth and bury things that would bring disgrace on the family. The supporting characters played just as important a part as Archie and Frank and I loved meeting the female characters and getting an insight i to their lives.

I found myself wondering about Polly, Clara & Lilian and thinking about their reasons for behaving in the way that they did – as well as considering how Clara’s life as a stepdaughter might be very different to my experiences and how her feisty personality really shone trough although we were so far apart in time and space

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I loved the juxtaposition of the various threads of this story as they interweave and coincide and we try and solve them alongside Archie. This was the perfect Autumn read – and if you’re a teacher and manage to get away for a wee staycation this October  then this would be am amazing addition to your reading list. If you love a captivating read, with intelligently written and compelling characters then you’ll really love this book – I was a huge fan growing up of the suffragette movement and this will give you a renewed insight into this part of history and these women’s stories. It’s a really great read and I heartily recommend it for keeping you entertained as well as informed about this fascinating period of history.

Buy yourself a copy here

Writer On The Shelf

I was born in Anglesey, North Wales and brought up in Walthamstow, East London in the post-war years. I now live near Epping Forest and tend to set my novels in the places I know best.
My working life as a primary school teacher – mainstream and special needs – came to an end when the itch to write could no longer be denied. Since then I have had eight novels published and am working on another. In between, I write short stories and poems, participate in U3A activities as far as Covid-19 and government restrictions allow. I enjoy painting and making ‘crafty‘ things, gardening, cooking, walking, reading, playing Scrabble and would love to travel if it were possible. I miss socialising and visiting galleries, theatre and concert halls and am doing my best to ‘keep up’ virtually in this horrible time. I am married to Peter and feel blessed to have a wonderfully loving and supportive family.

This Green and Pleasant Land

On her deathbed, Bilal’s mother reaches for his hand. Instead of whispering her final prayers, she gives him a task: build a mosque in his country village.

Mariam is horrified by Bilal’s plan. His friends and neighbours are unnerved. As outrage sweeps Babbel’s End, battle lines are drawn. His mother’s dying wish reveals deeper divisions in their village than Bilal had ever imagined.

Soon Bilal is forced to choose between community and identity, between faith and friendship, between honouring his beloved mother’s last wish and preserving what is held dear in the place that he calls home. 

In This Green & Pleasant Land  Ayisha Malik shows her extraordinary talent for illuminating the vital details which make us human. She is a writer who makes us laugh whilst reminding us of the joy, the pain and the rewards of being alive. You will absolutely love this book and I’m recommending it to people who want something to think about as well as a really enjoyable read.

Am so happy to be on today’s Blog Tour of # ThisGreenAndPleasantLand today and it’s an actual tour today because I’m posting this from half term in gorgeous Northumberland this morning on the October break. It’s wonderful to be curled up with a great book after a windy walk. The wood burning stove is lit and the movie night is scheduled. I am living my best life

I’m feeling in seventh heaven with an abundance of #GreenAndPleasant surroundings  myself. Thank you so much to  Zaffre Books & Tracy Fenton for inviting me on the tour, it has been a great way to kick off my holidays!

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I absolutely loved this book. It’s a thought provoking, fascinating and uplifting read that will genuinely draw you into its community and make you feel part of their very memorable post-Brexit world as we witness the prejudice and narrow mindedness that can flourish when it’s unchecked and see how much more we have in common that what separates us.

Bilal was a fantastic character that you can totally believe in. When I was reading about his determination to follow through with his vision and the many areas to navigate as he tries to throw himself into honouring his mother’s last wishes, it’s an easy sentiment to connect with – I’m sure lots of you will have had that feeling when you think that your endeavour might be a lot less complicated than it turns out to be and you end up in situations that you could never have anticipated. The concept of building a mosque here sounds very different on paper than the reality and you will be fascinated and appalled in equal measure, hearing about some of the situations he finds himself caught up in.

Bilal’s blossoming friendships and some of the positive consequences that come from all the conflict is one of the best things about this book. You will have had lots of these moments yourself where you’ve ended up finding things in common with people you’d never have imagined and this very timely tale does it so much better than most. I loved Ayisha’s writing and there is much here that will resonate here if you are paying attention to some of the narrative around ‘patriotism’ in contemporary Britain.

Even if you haven’t encountered her other work, there is much to love here and you will definitely get caught up in how accurate a comedy of manners this is and how well-observed these characters are. There will be people here you’ll love to hate but you will not be able to put this down as you will be so caught up with Bilal’s endeavours

I loved Sophia Khan is not Obliged and if you haven’t read it you definitely should. Ayisha is one of my favourite writers of social comedy and I think that just like Adrian Mole absolutely  ‘got it’ in terms of capturing the teenage male voice – Ayisha is an absolutely pitch-perfect rendition of a Britain where our multi cultural aspirations often fall rather short of the mark when it comes to the lived reality.

Ayisha Malik wrote this book from the heart, and it shows.  It presents a picture of a microcosm of the britain we currently live in and captures a moment in time perfectly I would absolutely love to see this on our screens in the future. When you read the ‘roll of honour’ below, you’ll see that there are so many fans of her writing that are far more eminent than myself – so you don’t just have to take MY word for it…

With laugh-out-loud moments of absurdist comedy, poignant observations of human nature, and philosophical musings on the wisdom and nature of ‘fitting in’, this is Malik’s best work to date. Satirical, controversial, knowing and essential — Vaseem Khan

A novel that simmers with tenderness, charm and warmth as well as chilling, creeping dread. Malik’s ability to juggle a cast of characters with a variety of nuanced (and at times, alarming) perspectives is a mark of her huge talent as a writer, and her flair for the absurd will come as a delight to fans of the Sofia Khan series. This Green and Pleasant Land is a gorgeous, deeply relevant book that is bound to ruffle a fair few feathers, but the right feathers, and for the right reasons — Caroline O’Donoghue

In her strongest novel to date, Ayisha Malik finds the humour and humanity in the interplay between faith and family. Epic. * Nikesh Shukla

Ayisha Malik has created both an intimate village dramedy and a study of the nature of grief, faith and belonging. This wonderful novel will make you laugh, make you cry and leave a mark on you long after you’ve finished reading it. Sarah Shaffi

I loved Malik’s first two novels, Sofia Khan is Not Obliged and its sequel The Other Half of Happiness, but This Green and Pleasant Land is completely different, and more than a pleasant surprise Phoenix Magazine

This Green and Pleasant Land is a clever and thoughtful novel about identity and belonging… the perfect novel for these Brexit-y times that we’re living in. RED magazine

A gorgeous, funny, smart, uplifting story about seeking unity during times of division. Wish I could prescribe it to the country. Daisy Buchanan

Malik’s wonderfully tender tome is a joy from start to finish. And in the beautifully tragic figure of Khalla Rukshana – a real beacon of hope – Malik has created one of our favourite literary characters of recent times HEAT Magazine

Ayisha Malik has a way of luring you in with a book that appears to be a comedy of manners and then sucker punching you with something much deeper…Malik’s humour is as tender and bittersweet as ever BookMuse

A great read with a lot of depth but still entertaining and even silly at times (in a good way). LibroFullTime

Buy yourself a copy here and enjoy meeting Bilal and this collection of wonderful characters for yourself.

Writer On The Shelf

Born and raised South Londoner, lover of books (obviously), and writer of contemporary fiction. A former publicist at Penguin Random House, turned managing editor at Cornerstones Literary Consultancy, turned full-time writer.

My debut novel, Sofia Khan is not Obliged, and its sequel, The Other Half of Happiness, (Zaffre), were dubbed as the ‘Muslim Bridget Jones.’ My latest novel, This Green and Pleasant Land, (Zaffre) is out now.

I’ve also contributed to the anthology, A Change is Gonna Come, (Stripes Publishing), and upcoming collection, A Match Made in Heaven, (Hope Road Publishing). Also known for ghost-writing Great British Bake Off winner, Nadiya Hussain’s, adult books. 

Stick A Flag In It – Blog Tour

 From the Norman Invasion in 1066 to the eve of the First World War, Stick a Flag in It is a thousand-year jocular journey through the history of Britain and its global empire. 

The British people have always been eccentric, occasionally ingenious and, sure, sometimes unhinged – from mad monarchs to mass-murdering lepers. 

Here, Arran Lomas shows us how they harnessed those traits to forge the British nation, and indeed the world, we know today. 

Follow history’s greatest adventurers from the swashbuckling waters of the Caribbean to the vast white wasteland of the Antarctic wilderness, like the British spy who infiltrated a top-secret Indian brothel and the priest who hid inside a wall but forgot to bring a packed lunch. 

At the very least you’ll discover Henry VIII’s favourite arse-wipe, whether the flying alchemist ever made it from Scotland to France, and the connection between Victorian coffee houses and dildos. 

Forget what you were taught in school – this is history like you’ve never heard it before, full of captivating historical quirks that will make you laugh out loud and scratch your head in disbelief.


This fascinating book is peppered with surprising and informative historical facts, and illustrated with eye-opening, toe-curling and meticulously sourced anecdotes from the past. My better half is a history teacher and we spent a fascinating journey through the Scottish highlands sharing favourite anecdotes from this book and spent hours going over the things we didn’t know we didn’t know!

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You will laugh, you will gasp and you will wonder at just how little has actually changed in terms of human nature once you get lost within the pages of this fascinating read. I absolutely love non-fiction and feel like this is a long-awaited adult version of horrible histories that I just could not get enough of!

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If you think you have got into a bit of a reading rut this autumn, then this is the book for you. You might think you know everything that there is to know about the Tudors or the Norman conquest, but this book makes you have a rethink and will have you going off down rabbit-holes online as you look a little bit closer at all the bits of history that you’ve been given a fresh insight into…

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The book is set out in fascinating sections that provide you with much for for thought as you learn to open up your mind and realise that our forefathers were much more like us in terms of their morality and attitude to putting themselves first than you ever could have imagined. If you like your history with a side-helping of eccentricity, oddity and eclecticism, you have definitely come to the right place and you’ll be as lost in this book as I was on my long drive.

It is really interesting to consider how much attitudes towards History have fluctuated and changed over the years, particularly the way that it has stopped being something stuffy and boring and become a mine of colourful and fascinating anecdotes that will have you absolutely fascinated. This is a book you can dip into and will want to read aloud to people at many points as some of the stories and anecdotes are just SO hilarious and surprising. It would be a perfect gift for fans of eccentricity and oddities Maybe not one for reading aloud at the Christmas table though; unless you want to choke on your trifle laughing

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I love reviewing non fiction and I’ve been sent some amazing non fiction reads on eclectic subjects from earthquakes to serial killers – but I do have to say I found this one of the most fascinating and informative books of them all.

I recommend this book to people who love delving back into the past and finding out things that both surprise and delight them. Treat yourself to a copy here and enjoy a slice of Arran Lomas’ fun, eccentric and fabulous read for yourself. It’s totally unputownable and will educate as much as it entertains. A five star Autumn read for those who like a bit of edification with their historical research – a double thumbs up from Mr On The Shelf and me!

I’m off to view more of Arran’s videos on Youtube and discover kore about his fascinating take on History and other matters!

Writer (& Youtuber) On The Shelf

Arran Lomas, better known online as Thoughty2 is an English YouTuber who makes videos that are educational, yet entertaining, about various subjects and other random facts, in the forms of top lists of various numbers, and, more recently, some social commentary videos. The YouTuber stated the “Back to the Future” and “Doctor Who?” series as one of his main inspirations to start his YouTube channel.

Thoughty2’s style of videos are to combine showing his own face on camera with showing clips and/or images of the particular subject that he’s discussing, and showing evidence about the facts that he’s trying to teach us about.  Although he is educational, he does try to stay as entertaining as he possibly can in each of his videos. His YouTuber name, Thoughty2, is actually noted to be a pun on the meme that declares the “answer to life, the universe, and everything” as the number, “42.”

Thoughty2 also noted that he likes to always dress in a suit while making his videos in order not to appear geeky, but to present himself in the best form that he could in front of his audience to ensure a super high-quality video. He stated he was into photography, and that his favorite drink was milk with tea, the latter jokingly saying that it was expectable of him because he is British. In his video titled “How Superstitions Change the Way You Think” he announced that he had written a book called “Stick a Flag In It”.

The Choice- Blog Tour

A kidnap…

Matt Westbrook only turned his back for a moment. But when he looks around, his car – with his three young children inside – has vanished.

A ransom…

Panicked, Matt assumes a car thief has got more than he bargained for, but then he starts to receive text messages: This is a kidnap. If you want to see your children again, you will exchange them for your wife.

A choice…

Matt and his wife Annabelle are horrified. They can’t involve the police, or their children will be killed. Which means they have to choose: Annabelle, or their children. Either option is unthinkable. But one is inevitable. And they have only hours to make their decision…

The gripping new thriller you won’t be able to put down!

A big thank you to Anne Cater from Random Things Tours for inviting me on the blog tour, I loved After Anna and it’s the perfect pageturner to get lost in this Autumn. I curled up on the sofa with it last weekend and couldn’t get up again til I’d finished…

The Choice introduces us to Matt & Annabelle. A very ordinary couple who end up in a wholly extraordinary situation in this compelling and gripping read. It’s as if Alex Lake has reached into the head of every parent that there ever was and explored their very worse fears – in living technicolour. I was literally on the edge of my seat at times and it’s definitely not the book to pick if you are going to be up late alone as you’ll be loath to turn out the lights for sure.

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I loved the way that Alex Lake switches up the tension in this book as we start to think about the situation that Matt finds himself in. This truly is a situation where you are in between the devil and the deep blue sea and there is no right way to turn. This is truly dark subject matter and not for everyone as this unenviable choice and the potential ramifications for either his children or for Annabelle provide a disconcerting juxtaposition for the reader.

Alex Lake has really created a troubling and disturbing situation for Matt and such a tension-filled read for fans of domestic noir with a twist.The writing is skilful and fast paced and you will be up late trying to discover who exactly is responsible for this awful situation and what Matt will do to try and resolve the situation he now finds himself in. The way that the point of view keeps switching between Matt, Annabelle and the kidnapper is really well-sustained and gives you a real insight into the true horror at the heart of this situation – and keeps you guessing right until the very end too.

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The cleverly maintained pace and switching perspective means that you’ll race through The Choice at a breakneck pace. It was certainly as deftly plotted as After Anna and it was fun trying to see if my guesswork about the way that this book would resolve all of its different strands in its resolution would prove to be correct. I hate spoilers, so all I’ll say is that you won’t be disappointed. This is sure to please people who absolutely loved After Anna and bound to ensure that anyone who missed it the first time looks it up now – I’ve listed details below if you still have this treat in store!

Buy yourself a copy of The Choice and look at what these other fab bloggers have to say about this tense and enjoyably dark read – all I’m going to say is that if you loved Misery, you’ll absolutely love one of the characters in The Choice!

‘Relentlessly fast paced, a compelling plot and anxiety inducing finale. A cracking read’ John Marrs, bestselling author of The One

‘Opens with a nightmare scenario and races to a gripping, horribly tense ending – I think I actually stopped breathing several times. Loved it! Jackie Kabler, author of The Perfect Couple 

Writer On The Shelf

Alex Lake is a British novelist who was born in the North West of England. After Anna, the author’s first novel written under this pseudonym, was a No.1 bestselling ebook sensation and a top-ten Sunday Times bestseller. The author now lives in the North East of the US.

After Anna

After Anna by [Alex Lake]


The real nightmare starts when her daughter is returned…

A bone-chilling psychological thriller that will suit fans of Gone Girl, The Couple Next Door and The Girl on the Train.

A girl is missing. Five years old, taken from outside her school. She has vanished, traceless.

The police are at a loss; her parents are beyond grief. Their daughter is lost forever, perhaps dead, perhaps enslaved.

But the biggest mystery is yet to come: one week after she was abducted, their daughter is returned.

She has no memory of where she has been. And this, for her mother, is just the beginning of the nightmare.

He Started It

He Started It

No-one knows you better than your family.

They know the little things that make you smile. Your proudest achievements. Your darkest secrets.

Sure, you haven’t always been best friends.

But if it seemed as though someone was after you, that you might be in danger, then you’d be on each other’s side.

Right ?

No-one is more dangerous than the ones who know you best…

There is nothing closer then family – and after being locked down with them for the last few months, the thought that your nearest and dearest might drive you mad at times will be more than credible to most of us at the moment.

This second novel by Samantha Downing, whose novel My Lovely Wife was a huge favourite of many lovers of domestic noir, is as twisty and skilful as any you’ve read this year. I guarantee that you’ll think twice before setting off on a road trip after lockdown any time soon after devouring this twisty, skilful and original take on family values…

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This novel has a pretty original premise as these siblings and their partners set off on a pretty unusual road trip, inspired by their grandfather at the start of this story. None of them are the sort of peiple that even individually you’d want to spend a lot of time coped up with and this is definitely no National Lampoon’s voyage to Wallyworld. If you love domestic noir, you’ll absolutely love the way this starts to unravel as these ‘companions’ turn out to have their own agendas, allegiances and game plans as the miles roll by.


This road trip is a character almost of its own and was one of my favourite parts of the book as some of the places that they visit are so outlandish that you think they must be fictional – but I was so fascinated by the idea of them, I ended up spending far too much time online resresching the locations themselves.

My personal favourite was the museum of barbed wire in Kansas which got me going down a whole new rabbit hole of fascinating roadside atractions in America and provided me with hours of entertainment during the lockdown.  The road trip’s twists and turns ensures that the plot zips along at a cracking pace and some of their escapades make you glad that you’re not part of this  dysfunctional family ‘outing’

My lovely wife

I’m no fan of books being painted as ‘The next…’ and we’re all sick I’m sure, of seeing books compared with The Girl on the Train or Gone Girl. This definitely isn’t trying to be anything else, it’s perfectly happy being its own off the wall and readable self.  I’d actually love to see it on screen and will be dragging people along with me to see this journey and its fallout in the flesh! Their interactions will certainly keep you entertained as you make your way through this novel – all too quickly, I might add and you will definitely be unprepared for that ending…

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You know that I hate spoilers so I’ve tried hard to avoid mentioning exactly what starts to emerge once their wheels begin rolling – but suffice to say, there’s never a dull moment as their long held grudges and thinly veiled agendas begin to emerge

Thanks so much to Sriya Varadharajan for sending me this book to review for the blog tour – I absolutely love taking part in her tours and enjoyed reading what the other bloggers thought too. If you haven’t bought yourself a copy yet, you can treat yourself here

Harlan Coben
Alice Feeney
Lisa Gardner

‘My Lovely Wife was one of my top books of 2019. He Started It is even better!’ C.J. Tudor, Sunday Times bestselling author of The Chalk Man

‘Whip-smart, lean, deliciously dark and addictive. One of the best thrillers I’ve read in a long time’ Ali Land

‘Wow! It’s dark, it’s twisted and it’s going to be your new favourite book! 5***** reader review

‘Chilling, thrilling, twisty, fast paced, riveting, tense, dark & scary… My favourite book this year’ 5***** reader review

Writer On The Shelf

Samantha Downing is the author of the Edgar Award-nominated novel My Lovely Wife. Amazon Studios and Nicole Kidman’s Blossom Films have partnered to produce a feature film based on the novel.

Her most recently published book is called He Started It – released in 2020. She currently lives in New Orleans, where she is furiously typing away on her next novel.