Blog Tour: The Corfe Castle Murders by Rachel McLean

Meet DCI Lesley Clarke. She’s a straight-talking city copper who doesn’t suffer fools gladly… and she’s been transferred to rural Dorset.

After being injured in a bomb attack, Lesley is presented with a choice – early retirement, or a period of respite in a calmer location.

But things don’t stay calm for long.

Before she’s even started her new job, Lesley is dragged into investigating a murder at one of England’s most iconic landmarks, the imposing Corfe Castle.

Lesley must hit the ground running. Can she get along with her new partner DS Dennis Frampton, a traditionalist who doesn’t appreciate her style? How will she navigate the politics of a smaller force where she’s a bigger, and less welcome, fish? And most importantly, can she solve the murder before the killer strikes again?

What I Thought:

The Corfe Castle Murders combines two elements that are much to my liking – a setting local to me and solid crime fiction.

I was immediately drawn to this book as Corfe Castle is a place I’ve visited many times and I just *love* to be able to place the characters as they go about their work – although if this series continues for a while, I might become concerned about the local murder rate!

This book is a great introduction to Lesley Clarke – city dweller and hard-working detective. Before she is even able to begin her first day of work for Dorset Police, she’s drawn into a murder investigation and immediately into conflict with her new team. Can her ways of working ever fit in with the team she is now supposed to lead? And questions remain over the death of her predecessor – something that I’m sure will resurface in subsequent books.

I really liked Lesley – although some of her views about local bumpkins had this local clutching her pearls (!). She’s a hard-working woman who has tried to balance dedication to work with family life and, like many of us, this has not always gone well. Her forced banishment to Dorset has not gone down well, but she’s making a go of it in the best way she can.

There are lots of threads that draw her back to Birmingham, and I can see that someof them are tied to Rachel McLean’s other series of books – that’s not to say you have to have read those, as there are only passing references, but it would be a good idea to do so.

The actual crime itself in this book centres around an archaeological dig in Corfe Castle and the murder of a philandering academic – the eventual resolution is very cleverly thought out, with many a red herring to throw you off the scent, and the wrap up is suitably satisfying!

I very much enjoyed the book and was happy to see that book 2 is not far off, with book 3 in the works. I look forward to getting to know Lesley more in future – if only to see how she gets used to our part of the world!!

The Corfe Castle Murders is published by Ackroyd Publishing.

About the Author:

My name’s Rachel McLean and I write thrillers that make you think.

What does that mean?

In short, I want my stories to make your pulse race and your brain tick.

Do you often get through a thriller at breakneck pace but are left with little sense of what the book was really about? Do you sometimes read literary fiction but just wish something would damn well happen?

My books aim to fill that gap.

If you’d like to know more about my books and receive extra bonus content, please join my book club. I’ll send you a weekly (sometimes fortnightly) email with news about my writing research and progress, stories and bonus content for each book. And I’ll let you know when my books are on offer.

This post is part of a blog tour for The Corfe Castle Murders – why not check out the other participating blogs below?

Please note: I was sent a copy of this book for review. All opinions are, as ever, my own.

Posted in Blog Tour, Book Review | Tagged , , , , , | Leave a comment

Blog Tour: The Beresford by Will Carver

Just outside the city – any city, every city – is a grand, spacious but affordable apartment building called The Beresford.

There’s a routine at The Beresford.

For Mrs May, every day’s the same: a cup of cold, black coffee in the morning, pruning roses, checking on her tenants, wine, prayer and an afternoon nap. She never leaves the building.

Abe Schwartz also lives at The Beresford. His housemate, Sythe, no longer does. Because Abe just killed him.

In exactly sixty seconds, Blair Conroy will ring the doorbell to her new home and Abe will answer the door. They will become friends. Perhaps lovers.

And, when the time comes for one of them to die, as is always the case at The Beresford, there will be sixty seconds to move the body before the next unknowing soul arrives at the door.

Because nothing changes at The Beresford, until the doorbell rings…

What I Thought:

Having never read Will Carver’s books before, I was unsure what to expect. That blurb really grabbed me, but I had no idea how chilling and darkly spooky The Beresford would be!

I’ll hold my hands up and tell you that I spent quite a while wondering what the hell was going on, but there are clever little chapters interspersed with those featuring the residents of The Beresford which lay it all out as you go, until you realise that this is an age-old story, but told in a unique way, and with a superb puppetmaster in Mrs May.

The Beresford itself is an enigmatic setting for the story as an apartment block with a chequered and tragic history that no-one can quite accurately tell you about – you can just imagine its grand, towering exterior – but why has it been split into two? All will become clear!

What I thought was incredibly bold was that Will Carver tells us the ending before he even begins the story, but it definitely works and will have you turning back to the start as soon as you finish the book. A risk certainly, but one that pays off.

This book is incredibly unsettling and put me in mind of Final Destination as it asks questions about fate and inevitability, but there are also musings on the nature of religion and community that add depth to the characters – for such a short book at under 300 pages, there is a great deal to digest.

The Beresford is another fantastic title from Orenda Books – I’ve read a few of their titles this year and they’ve all be excellent, so I highly recommend checking out what this independent publisher has on offer…

About the Author:

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, Hinton Hollow Death Trip was longlisted for the Not the Booker Prize, while Nothing Important Happened Today was longlisted for the Theakston’s Old Peculiar Crime Novel of the Year and for the Goldsboro Books Glass Bell. Good Samaritans was a book of the year in Guardian, Telegraph and Daily Express, and hit number one on the eBook charts.

This post is part of a blog tour to celebrate the publication of The Beresford. Why not check out some of the blogs taking part (below) for more exclusive content and reviews?

Please note: I was sent a copy of this book for review. All opinions are, as ever, my own.

Posted in Blog Tour, Book Review | Tagged , , , , , | Leave a comment

Blog Tour: Secrets on the Italian Island by T. A. Williams

Her work has got in the way of relationships before – but never like this

Anna’s job as a geologist takes her all over the world, including to the beautiful island of Elba, where she’s sent to look for precious metals. And the island isn’t the only thing that’s gorgeous – she can’t believe her luck when she meets windsurfer Marco and sparks fly.

But Anna must keep her role on Elba a secret to avoid upsetting the locals, which means lying to Marco even as they grow closer. When her old friend Toby visits, Anna suddenly finds herself torn between the attentions of the two men. However, Anna’s not the only one keeping secrets.

Is Marco being entirely honest with her? And why did Toby really come to visit?

What I Thought:

Oh to be on holiday! While European travel is off the menu for many of us this year, we can all sit back and enjoy an Italian adventure with Secrets on the Italian Island by T. A. Williams, which is published today and is a bargainous £1.99!

A visit to the beautiful island of Elba is anything but a holiday for geologist Anna Porter as she arrives to prospect for rare metals, but could a late-summer romance be on the cards?

This is the third book in T. A. Williams’ Escape to Tuscany series which takes in beautiful locations, vividly described scenery and delicous Italian food and drink that you can practically taste!

I make no secret of being a fan of Trevor’s work, which always has a solid romantic plot, but that is also clearly well-researched and provides heaps of background and history of the setting. This detail adds so much for me and is what keeps me coming back for more.

This book is a winning combination of a likeable main character and a genuine love of the country, which shines through in every chapter and, as ever, it was a pleasure to read.

Secrets on the Italian Island is published by Canelo Escape.

About T. A. Williams:

I’m a man. And a pretty old man as well. I did languages at university a long time ago and then lived and worked in France and Switzerland before going to Italy for seven years as a teacher of English. My Italian wife and I then came back to the UK with our little daughter (now long-since grown up) where I ran a big English language school for many years. We now live in a sleepy little village in Devonshire. I’ve been writing almost all my life but it was only seven years ago that I finally managed to find a publisher who liked my work enough to offer me my first contract.

The fact that I am now writing romantic comedy is something I still find hard to explain. My early books were thrillers and historical novels. Maybe it’s because there are so many horrible things happening in the world today that I feel I need to do my best to provide something to cheer my readers up. My books provide escapism to some gorgeous locations, even if travel to them is currently difficult.

Catch up with Trevor on his website, or find him on Twitter.

Please note: I was sent a copy of this book for review. All opinions are, as ever, my own.

Posted in Blog Tour, Book Review | Tagged , , , , | Leave a comment

Blog Tour: Gender Euphoria ed. Laura Kate Dale

GENDER EUPHORIA: a powerful feeling of happiness experienced as a result of moving away from one’s birth-assigned gender.

So often the stories shared by trans people about their transition centre on gender dysphoria: a feeling of deep discomfort with their birth-assigned gender, and a powerful catalyst for coming out or transitioning. But for many non-cisgender people, it’s gender euphoria which pushes forward their transition: the joy the first time a parent calls them by their new chosen name, the first time they have the confidence to cut their hair short, the first time they truly embrace themself.

In this groundbreaking anthology, nineteen trans, non-binary, agender, gender-fluid and intersex writers share their experiences of gender euphoria: an agender dominatrix being called ‘Daddy’, an Arab trans man getting his first tattoos, a trans woman embracing her inner fighter.

What they have in common are their feelings of elation, pride, confidence, freedom and ecstasy as a direct result of coming out as non-cisgender, and how coming to terms with their gender has brought unimaginable joy into their lives.

What I Thought:

What a wonderful book Gender Euphoria is!

So much of what is written about the non-cisgender community in the press and on social media focuses on the negative, both in how gender dysphoria is supposedly faddish and being pushed by a ‘woke’ agenda, and also in stories from non-cisgender people themselves whose journey of trying to claim their identity has been marked by overwhelmingly negative feelings and experiences.

It’s heartening then to read a book like this that is a collection of 29 essays focusing on the truly wonderful moments of the authors’ own coming out stories – that certainly isn’t to say that there are not sad moments, especially when some of these authors write of a lack of understanding in family and friends or the agony of undergoing a puberty that they did not welcome, but overwhelmingly this is a life-affirming collection of essays that are a joy to read.

There are several contributions from editor Laura Kate Dale, and I just wanted to touch on the one that struck me the most – the effort to present as female and always be ‘on’ in public situations. As a cisgender woman, I have never considered the fact that I can dress how I want, and be as scruffy and as masculine as I want without it being a thing. Laura describes such a different experience, where she feels that she must always put on her most feminine face in public to avoid being misgendered. It’s just something that I have been lucky enough to never have to consider and it’s one of many ‘oh yeah’ moments in the book. When Laura writes of her euphoria at being correctly addressed when even on one of her scruffy days, it’s really lovely.

I would absolutely recommend this book – as someone who would like to consider themselves a trans ally, I’m fully aware that I get things wrong sometimes so I’m grateful to have the opportunity to read this book that is not necessarily ‘for’ me, but that has certainly helped me understand how to do better and be better.

You can’t put a price on hearing from people about their own lived experience, rather than relying on what outside sources have to say about them – in the spirit of this, instead of reading my review (or in addition to), read this book!

Gender Euphoria is published by Unbound.

Laura Kate Dale is a full-time video game critic, video creator, podcaster and author. Her first book was Uncomfortable Labels, a memoir about growing up at the intersection of being a member of the LGBT community and living with autism, and she writes regularly on the theme of transgender rights and experience. She can be found tweeting at @LaurakBuzz, where she has over 53k followers.

Please note: I was sent a copy of this book for review. All opinions are, as ever, my own.

Posted in Blog Tour, Book Review | Tagged , , , | Leave a comment

Blog Tour: A Murder at Rosings by Annette Purdey Pugh

When Mr Collins is found stabbed to death in Lady Catherine de Bourgh’s garden, simmering tensions are revealed beneath the elegant Regency surface of the Rosings estate.

The prime suspect is Mr Bennet, who was overheard arguing with Mr Collins over the entail of Longbourn in the days before the murder was committed – and who stands to benefit more than anyone from the Rector’s death.

His daughter Mary uncovers a scandalous secret that holds the key to the murder. Can she prove her father’s innocence in time to save him from the gallows?

What I Thought:

I absolutely love retellings and continuations of Jane Austen novels, particularly Pride and Prejudice, so I was happy to read and review A Murder at Rosings. The Darcys and the Bingleys don’t feature here, where it is discovered that Mr Collins has been brutally stabbed to death in the garden at Rosings Park – and the prime suspect is Mr Bennet!

Although we have to put up with Lady Catherine in all her harrumphing and displeased glory, it’s great to hear more about Kitty Bennet and Anne de Bourgh in this novel, as they begin to develop a friendship which seems to be ruined thanks to Mr Collins’ death. Can Kitty and Anne help to save Mr Bennet from the gallows, and also save their new-found friendship?

I really enjoyed this book – the style perfectly complements the original novel and it was good to see some of the less-developed characters come to the fore. While Anne de Bourgh is dominated by her fearsome mother, she has some real character here and even Lady Catherine seems to mellow as we realise that she really does think she is doing the best for her daughter.

While the links to Pride and Prejudice are a focus of the novel, if you lifted all of those out, you would still have a very clever, regency mystery with quite a shocking resolution – the fact that it does feature characters from Pride and Prejudice is a very happy bonus!

This book is definitely a keeper for me – one to add to my collection of many and varied Pride and Prejudice-connected novels!

A Murder at Rosings is published by Honno Press, the Welsh Women’s Press.

To find out more about Annette Purdey Pugh and her work, you can connect with her on Twitter.

This post is part of a blog tour to celebrate the publication of A Murder at Rosings – check out the participating bloggers and instagrammers below for more reviews and exclusive content.

Please note: I was sent a copy of this book for review. All opinions are, as ever, my own.

Posted in Blog Tour, Book Review | Tagged , , , | Leave a comment