The Secret Wife

Secret Wif

This is Gill Paul at her best. This time she focuses on one of the Grand Duchesses of the Romanov Dynasty and a cavalry officer.

The story of the Russian royal family in the early 20th Century is well known. After being moved from pillar to post, and with the expected help from their English relatives not materialising, their life became one of misery.  The world was at war and Revolution was building in Russia. Their execution is a matter of record.  However, theories persist that one or more of the Grand Duchesses survived.

Gill Paul weaves a story around the theory that Tatiana survived.  And so..

While nursing in a makeshift hospital Tatiana meets cavalry officer Dimitri Yakovlevich Malama and they forge a friendship that survives their rare meetings as he comes and goes to and from the war fronts. With the uncertainty of war raging around them, they marry in secret before his departure on yet another mission.

News of the execution of the Romanovs reaches him at the front, and he is distraught. When the war ends, he leaves Moscow and moves to Berlin where he meets Rosa and forms a relationship with her.  When Rosa discovers she is pregnant they move in together although she knows he will never marry her as he still in love with Tatiana and considers himself still married to her.

Fast forward to 2016 when we meet Kitty Fisher. Kitty has just found out that her husband is cheating on her and she leaves London on a whim and travels to Lake Akanabee and a cabin left to her by her great-grandfather.  While fixing up the cabin she begins to research this great-grandfather of whom she was totally unaware. Both her mother and grandmother have died and there is nobody left to answer her questions.

Ms Paul has once again, produced a book that seamlessly mingles historical facts and figures with her fictional characters.  It is a rare book and a rare author who can do this and Ms Paul is one such.

I listened to the story on an audiobook but have no doubt it would be an exciting book to read. If asked I would give this five stars.













Will Patching has started a series with two protagonists, Doc Powers, Forensic Psychologist & his friend Detective Inspector Carver. In this first book, Doc’s own psyche is all but fractured following the death of his spouse and the conflicted emotions her accidental death evokes.

We are introduced to Peter Leech, a psychopath who has been constrained in prison for nearly 20 years. He was convicted of the brutal murder of his parents when he was a teenager, and he has never exhibited remorse. In fact, he continues to protest his innocence at every parole hearing over a span of nearly two decades. He continues to blame his brother for the gruesome killings and maintains he was “framed” by his sibling.

Judy Finch, in her role as a parole officer, has to deal with Leech and make recommendations as to whether he should be released.

I have to say, that for me the book was not riveting reading. There was too much attention given to the killing of animals and people in all the gory detail. I found myself skipping over large chapters and then turning pages to reach the end.

I think Will Patching is a good writer. His characters are well defined. I particularly liked Doc Powers and Judy Finch and wonder if the next book or books will go into so much detail.

I was given a copy of this book, either by the author or downloaded it free on Amazon.


Next Victim

Next victimExhausted, overworked and trying to deal with two teenagers with little help from her ex; what  Rachel King doesn’t need is an early morning call to a murder scene. Added to her complicated life is a series of text messages from an ex-boyfriend/lover who wants to reconnect with her. She loves him but a major problem is that he is a well-known villain, active in an around Manchester.

Leaving the chaos of her home behind her, she arrives at a grizzly scene. A young man has been tortured, cut up and burned then tossed into the canal. There are few clues, a homeless man who heard the cries of the young man while being tortured can give them no help.

And then another body appears on the scene. The only apparent link is that they are gay,  beautiful young men.

While all this is happening, Rachel’s younger daughter is kidnapped but there is nothing to suggest where the murderer might have taken her. Meantime, Rachel is trying to keep her relationship with the crime boss a secret from her team but relies on him to help find her daughter.

The story unfolds with many twists and turns until the final reveal, which for me was totally unexpected.

This is the first of Helen Durrant’s novels I have read, but give it 5 stars as a totally readable and engrossing story.

Thanks, Netgalley for another great crime story.



A Fatal Flaw

fatal flaw

It’s 1960 and Trudy Loveday a probationary WPC is sought out by her friend, Grace Farley. Grace is employed by the owners of Dunbar’s Jams, Honey and Marmalade as general assistant to both Mr & Mrs Dunbar. In this capacity, she has been involved in a beauty competition run by the company, The Miss Oxford Honey beauty pageant.

Grace tells Trudy that one of the contestants has died and she is absolutely convinced that she didn’t commit suicide even though that is the general consensus.  Added to that, there have been several disturbing incidents around the theatre where the rehearsals are taking place.  She wants Trudy to get Dr Clement Ryder, the Coroner involved, to look into the death and perhaps the other matters too.

When Ryder agrees and Trudy’s DI reluctantly agrees they set off following clues to a totally unexpected end. We are reminded of the prejudice and preconceived notions of 1960. A time when women were not really accepted in the police force and the way in which those who thought they were part of the “upper classes” looked down on those of a “lower class”.

This was a fun, easy to read book; perfect for a sunny Sunday afternoon.

Thanks to Netgalley for making this available. I enjoyed A Fatal Flaw and choose to write this review.







Another Blog Blitz from Bloodhound Books.

Gillian Thompson returns home from University for the summer months, to find that nothing has changed in her dysfunctional family’s affairs. Geraldine her mother, is still being abused by her father and she wonders how she will get through the summer.

After a confrontation, she pushes her father, who falls down the stairs, hits his head and dies. At this stage in the story, I could empathise/sympathise with her – he was an abusive bully and she was protecting herself from him.

But that is where the empathy and /or sympathy ended. There was little to attract me to this woman and her strange obsession with killing animals, and maybe people. So if as we are told. life is too short to stuff mushrooms, or drink bad wine, then for me, it is too short to read books such as this.

Book Blurb:

When twenty-two-year-old Gillian Thompson returns from university for the summer, it is apparent there is tension at home. An irritant to her father and a concern to her mother, Gillian’s home life is less than ideal.

Geraldine, Gillian’s mother, has suffered abuse from Joe for years. However, it is not until Joe dies that the family dynamic shifts and Gillian starts out on her own dark journey…

When Gillian meets Paul and Daniel she starts to become the person she always knew she was. And as people around her start dying Gillian faces scrutiny from her mother.

But are the deaths accidents or is something more sinister at work?

About the Author:

C.S. Barnes (Charley to her long-time pals) is a Worcestershire-based writer and poet who has recently achieved her Doctorate degree in Creative Writing, and now spends a lot of her time wondering what to do with it. She is a lecturer, content writer, tea-drinker and book-reader with a passion for psychological thrillers that shines through her own work.

Barnes is the Managing Director of Sabotage Reviews and she also runs her own monthly open mic/spoken word event in Worcester City Centre, titled Dear Listener.

She published her debut short story collection in May 2017, titled The Women You Were Warned About (Black Pear Press), and her debut poetry pamphlet, A Z-hearted Guide to Heartache, was published be in July 2018 (V. Press). Intention is Barnes’ debut novel.

Social Media Links:

Twitter: @charleyblogs

Instagram: @charleyblogs



Intention Blog Blitz (1)


A Fractured Winter



She has been Marie, Lucy and is now Olivia, living in a peaceful village in Switzerland with her husband and three children.  She has successfully put her unhappy past behind her.  She thinks her life is perfect until one day she receives an anonymous letter referring to her past and memories of her other life come back to disturb her peace.

And then, the father of her illegitimate, first child appears on the scene. She has had no contact with him since the night of the rape; the night she lost her virginity.  He is a highly successful businessman and wants to get to know his teenage son, and Olivia, and her family.

The daughter of a neighbour, a friend of Olivia’s daughter,  is missing. She didn’t come home from school one afternoon, and then another girl is lost during the heavy snows of winter.

And what of her brother-in-law who far from being the cheerful, chatty, life of the party, has returned to the village a different person. He has set himself up in a distant group of ramshackle buildings high up the mountain and is living the life of a recluse.

Into the confusion now raging in her life, comes Aurelia a charismatic older woman and Olivia is instantly mesmerised by her. But what is really going on in the beautiful hotel that Aurelia and her followers are refurbishing to its former glory?

This is a fascinating, easy read for a sunny summer afternoon.

Thanks to Bloodhound Books for the opportunity to read and review this book.



About the Author:

Alison Baillie was born in Scarborough of Scottish parents and lived in County Durham, Somerset and the Yorkshire Dales before going to university in Scotland. She then taught English in several Edinburgh secondary schools before moving to Switzerland where she still lives now. She’s taught English as a Foreign Language in Finland and Switzerland.

When she stopped teaching full-time, she fulfilled a life-time ambition and wrote Sewing the Shadows Together, a psychological suspense novel inspired in part by events when she was teaching in Scotland. She is fascinated by the way we are influenced by the events of our past and has now written a second novel, A Fractured Winter, set in Switzerland, Scotland and Yorkshire.

She has two sons and three grandchildren and is proud of their international roots, having a mixture of Scottish, Swiss, Polish and Finnish heritage. As well as spending time with them, she loves travelling, walking in the mountains and by the sea, reading and writing.


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Out of the Silence



I started this book and honestly, couldn’t put it down. I’ve finished reading it after five hours glued to my iPad with only a very short stop to make a sandwich for lunch. And I must tell you to go out and get a copy for yourself.

We are taken to a small, poor village in Punjab where we meet Jameel and Asra both young and in love but they cannot be together as they wish. And here is where any similarity between this and other romance stories, ends.

As was/is usual in the countryside, Asra’s mother gives her to a wealthy man from the city, Lahore, and so begins Asra’s life of terror and cruelty.

Meantime Jameel, heartbroken because of Asra’s mother’s rejection of his offer to marry Asra, leaves the village and makes his way to Lahore to meet his only living relative, an uncle. The uncle is a successful businessman and takes Jameel into his home, his business and his heart. Jameel’s life improves immeasurably but he remembers Asra and his love for her.

Asra’s life, on the other hand, deteriorates and she is pretty soon no more than a drudge in her husband’s household, with no friends, no family and no help.

This is an amazing book. As I’ve said it’s truly hard to put down. It has everything, love, some happiness, murder, terror, revenge, addiction, abuse and even unexpectedly, some romance. We are led down a path where we think we know who the murderer is, but in no way was I expecting the unveiling.

Thank you Bloodhound Books for making this book available to me. If it were possible, I would give this book more than five stars. I’m off to see what other books by this gifted author, are available.




About the Author:

Owen Mullen is a McIlvanney Crime Book Of The Year long-listed novelist.

Owen graduated from Strathclyde University, moved to London and worked as a rock musician, session singer and songwriter, and had a hit record in Japan with a band he refuses to name;
he still loves to perform on occasion.
His passion for travel has taken him on many adventures from the Amazon and Africa to the colourful continent of India and Nepal.
A gregarious recluse, he and his wife, Christine, split their time between Glasgow, and their home in the Greek Islands where In Harm’s Way and the Charlie Cameron and Delaney series’ were created and written. His latest novel Out Of The Silence is a truly compelling thriller set in Pakistan.

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Dark Sacred Night


sacred night

Harry Bosch, semi-retired LAPD Homicide Detective is doing volunteer work for the San Fernando (Los Angeles) Police Department. If you are a Harry Bosch fan you will know that for a variety of reasons, over the years he has made himself unpopular with many of the people with whom he works.

Renee Ballard is a Detective who has run afoul of her peers after taking a case of sexual harassment against a senior police officer. She lost and is now relegated to the “Late Show” the overnight detail, and after three years there, she has grown to like it.

Harry is still absorbed in a nine-year-old unsolved murder case. A sixteen-year-old female drug addict was murdered and her body dumped in a trash can. When he comes looking for the files, he encounters Ballard and they decide to work together on the case.

As always with Connelly and his Bosch novels, there’s plenty going on apart from this cold case. Ballard continues to work her shift helping Harry in her own time.  Theirs is not a particularly easy partnership if, in fact, it is one. They are two very strong personalities bent on solving crime and bringing the baddies to justice.

A couple of things were rather hard to believe logically, but rather than spell them out here and spoil things for you, I’ll leave you to read the book and make your own decisions.

Note – I was given a copy of the audiobook by Audible as a freebie for subscribing.



The Rosie Project


Don is a professor of genetics and he is looking for a wife. Rosie is a student and part-time barmaid who is looking for her biological father. Can these two help each other?

Using scientific methods: questionnaires, data analysis, and testing, Don sets out to find the perfect wife. He is very clear what his perfect wife will be and have. He is equally clear what she cannot be  – she cannot be a smoker, a drinker, or a late-arriver,  and he has compiled a questionnaire for prospective wives to complete.  Don has an undiagnosed form of Autism: his life is ruled by his schedule down to the last thirty seconds. Every activity is planned; we learn that it takes Don three minutes, twenty seconds to shower unless he washes his hair, in which case it takes an extra minute and twelve seconds” due to the requirement that the conditioner remains in place for sixty seconds”. 

And into this organised and structured life comes Rosie. She is all the things he doesn’t want in a wife. Firstly she is a barmaid, she smokes, drinks and is a perpetual late arriver. But she introduces Don into the real world as they look for her father.

This is the funniest book I’ve read in ages. It is a well written, well-researched book that apart from being funny, has insights into deep emotions, poignancy, regret, some embarrassment and a lot of joy.

‘It’s an extraordinarily clever, funny, and moving book about being comfortable with who you are and what you’re good at. I’m sending copies to several friends and hope to re-read it later this year. This is one of the most profound novels I’ve read in a long time.’ Bill Gates

If it’s good enough for Bill Gates…

I’m looking forward to reading the next book in the series “The Rosie Effect”.



The Reach of Shadows

This is book No 4 in the series. Inspector Bliss has returned to Peterborough. He is currently recovering after a chase through the night has him colliding with a speeding car and being left in the road. On the day he is released from the hospital, he is sent to a particularly gruesome murder scene.

His team works tirelessly to solve the case but there seems little to follow through. No clues, no suspects.

Meantime, Bliss comes to the attention of the IOPC (the Independent Office for Police Conduct). Initially, they give him no idea why he has been singled out for their attention and advise him they are looking at all his old cases to determine whether there have been times when he has acted against protocol. But eventually, he hears that the real reason they are investigating him is that they have new information confirming his wife’s murder.

This sets Bliss on the trail of old friends, old villains and ex-colleagues until he comes to the truth.

This is a well-written book, with plenty to keep the reader involved and intrigued. I would recommend it and if asked, would give it four stars.



About the author:

Tony J Forder is the author of the critically acclaimed, internationally best-selling crime thriller series featuring detectives Jimmy Bliss and Penny Chandler. The first three books, Bad to the Bone, The Scent of Guilt, and If Fear Wins, are now joined by The Reach of Shadows, published in January 2019.

Tony’s dark, psychological crime thriller, Degrees of Darkness, featuring ex-detective Frank Rogers, was also published by Bloodhound Books. This is a stand-alone novel. Another book that was written as a stand-alone was Scream Blue Murder. This was published in November 2017 and received praise from many, including fellow authors Mason Cross, Matt Hilton and Anita Waller. Before it had even been published, Tony had decided to write a sequel, and Cold Winter Sun was published in November 2018.

Tony lives with his wife in Peterborough, UK, and is now a full-time author.

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Twitter: @TonyJForder


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