An Interview with Paul Mathews

An Interview with Paul Mathews

Today’s guest author is a “Quite Funny Guy” and has written not one but two comedy thriller / mystery series. The first, the We Have Lost series takes place in a near future United Kingdom and follows the trials and tribulations of government employee and wannabe secret agent Howie Pond. The second series takes place in the fictional British countryside town of Upper Goosing – European Murder Destination of 2015 – a town with an unsettlingly high murder rate that trades on its gory past. This series follows Detective Clinton Trump, an investigator with delusions of grandeur with ego of unimaginable proportions. You’ll find reviews for all of these books here on Books and Beyond Reviews. Today, please join me in welcoming Paul Mathews to the blog!

Books and Beyond Reviews: Thanks for taking the time to answer my questions, Paul. I’ll start with some ice breaker questions to help us get to know the man behind the comedy. First up, if you could choose any two famous people to have dinner with who would they be?

Paul Mathews: As I write murder mysteries, I’ll choose one living and one dead person, if I may. In terms of the deceased, it would have to be my favourite author, Douglas Adams, because he was a unique talent with such a surreal sense of humour. Douglas also loved food which would mean that if he was throwing the dinner party, I’d be guaranteed an excellent meal, as well as a steady stream of after-dinner anecdotes. Someone who’s still able to eat dinner? Maybe Greta Thunberg, because nobody like her has come along before and made such an impact at a young age. She’s also very tiny, so if I was paying, the bill would be manageable!

BaBR: If you could hang out with any cartoon character, who would you choose and why?

PM: Dangermouse was one of my favourites when I was a kid. Along with his trusty sidekick, Penfold, there were a formidable crime-fighting team. And they were funny, but not always in a predictable ‘Tom and Jerry’ slapstick way. They could probably solve some of my murder-mysteries a lot quicker than Detective Clinton Trump!

BaBR: I was always fond of a bit of Dangermouse. Classic, comedic crime-fighting capers! If you could see one movie again for the first time, what would it be and why?

PM: I saw the original Terminator movie on a VHS recorder when my brother’s friend brought it round during some exam revision (I think that’s what happened – we’re talking more than 30 years ago). Initially, I was only half-watching it – it was during the day and my parents were at work, so it was on in the background. But I started to become fascinated by the Terminator character. There was just so much tension, it was amazing. And it has that whole ‘Can mankind make it?’ thing going on. Very appropriate, given the world’s current predicaments.

BaBR: Would you rather travel back in time to meet your ancestors or to the future to meet your descendants?

PM: As I don’t have any direct descendants (I only have a cat and dog and they’ve both been neutered!), I guess it will have to be time travel to the past. I’d be interested in visiting a brewery that my father’s grandfather and great-grandfather ran in Surrey in the mid-19th-century – purely because I’d get free beer!

BaBR: And now, the final question before I move on to talk about your books. Who is your favourite author?

PM: I’ve already mentioned Douglas Adams so I suppose my next favourite author is me..! As I never tire of saying, I’ve read all my novels at least ten times and thoroughly enjoyed them all. It may sound odd but I still laugh at all my jokes. I do forget some of what I’ve written and they are the best laughs. It’s a bit like going back in time to when you wrote them. Your past self can really surprise your future self

BaBR: When you set out to start writing, did you always know that it would be comedy thriller / mystery novels, or did you eventually arrive at the genre?

PM: I wrote some short murder-mystery plays for amateur groups before I started on novels, as well as two full-length comedy plays, so comedy mystery / thrillers seemed the most natural genre for my books. I’ve always been interested in comedy writing since I was at school. Sadly, back then, there were zero opportunities for people like me. But self-publishing via Amazon opened up the world of novel-writing to me. It was a natural progression from playwriting and that previous experience means snappy dialogue is one of my strong points.

BaBR: Of Clinton Trump and Howie Pond, which do you identify with the most?

PM: The character of Howie Pond is definitely who I identify with the most. He has elements of my personality (I was always fond of popping to the pub at lunchtime for a Guinness!) and I worked as a UK Government press officer for 16 years, so a lot of what Howie Pond has to suffer in the ‘We Have Lost’ series as a presidential spokesman is loosely based on those experiences. I probably share Clinton’s general lack of patience with the world. I think we all think of ourselves as undiscovered geniuses, so maybe that as well!

BaBR: With two series under your belt, will your next book be something different, or do you have plans to carry on the tales of Clinton or Howie?

PM: I’ve decided to write a completely different comedy novel for my next effort. Entitled ‘An Accidental Royal Kidnap’, it will be a mystery of sorts but it’s more of a modern comedy adventure. It will follow a week in the life of recently-dumped London schoolteacher George Nearly after he finds a real-life princess face down on his living-room rug the morning after his 39th birthday party. You will see everything from George’s point of view and won’t know what anyone else is thinking or feeling – other than what George perceives that to be – which adds to the general sense of confusion about what is going on. It will include all the usual pondering on life, the universe and everything that my other novels include but this time it will be firmly based in modern-day reality. Well, not completely – there won’t be a global pandemic for George to contend with but apart from that, it will be the real world.

BaBR: Do you envisage any future books breaking away from the comedy thriller / mystery genre, and if so, what other genre would you be keen to try your hand at?

PM: As a Douglas Adams fan, comedy science-fiction would be the natural choice. I did a lot of planning for one, a couple of years ago, but dropped it eventually because I just couldn’t generate enough enthusiasm to write it. I think, once you’re established as a writer in a particular genre, it’s best not to travel too far from your literary home. And outer space is probably a little too far for me.

BaBR: Have you drawn events in either book series from anything in particular from your life or things you have heard, or have they all been entirely thought up?

 PM: I drew on my experiences of working in government, where there are lots of self-important people who often border on incompetence, while the smarter people tend to pick up the pieces. A small number of characters are also based on people I worked with in that environment. But the storylines are all completely original. ‘We Have Lost The President’ was a good choice of title for a first novel and after the election of Donald Trump as US president I think it’s the kind of scenario – a president going missing – many people would like to see happen in the real world!

BaBR: Thank you for taking the time to answer my weird and wonderful questions and I look forward to whatever your next book may be!

An Interview with Tyler Wandschneider

An Interview with Tyler Wandschneider

Welcome to the next instalment of my An Interview With… series here on Books and Beyond Reviews. Today I am speaking with the sci-fi author of Lockheed Elite. I reviewed this fantastic space adventure recently here on the blog. Please join me in extending a warm welcome to Tyler Wandschneider!

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Books and Beyond Reviews: Welcome to the blog Tyler. Thanks for taking the time to talk with me and answer a few questions. To start, I’m going to throw some left of field ice breaker questions your way so the readers can get an insight into the mind of the author. First up, If you could have an unlimited supply of just one thing for life, what would that be and why?

Tyler Wandschneider: A good one right off the get-go! My mind immediately started picturing things like pizza and cash but then smarts took over and I landed on “time”. I would definitely choose an unlimited supply of time. I’m the kind of person that likes to learn all kinds of things. For example, there was a time where I studied tournament poker for a while. When I started winning a lot, I got bored and picked up something else. This type of need means I must give up time on one thing to pursue another. Now with two young daughters that I absolutely love spending time with along with my wife, I find I need much more time not only to write but to just plain keep myself sane while learning other things. We just bought a house that needs a ton of work so the next couple of years will be home projects I’ve never tried before. I guess instead of an endless supply of time, I could do without the need to sleep. That’s an extra 6 hours a day I could use!

BaBR: Fantastic answer. And really refreshing for it not to be the usual answer of money! Next question. Would you rather be chased by a thousand duck-sized horses or one horse-sized duck?

TW: Haha. Definitely a thousand duck-sized horses. Those are cute. The big-ass duck sounds scary!

BaBR: I love to ask this next one of authors to really get a feel for their influences. Who is your favourite author?

TW: I love all of the words from Patrick Rothfuss. I love the stories and creativity from Brandon Sanderson. I love the flow from Mark Twain. And I love the adventure and tears I get every time I read Where the Red Fern Grows by Wilson Rawls. I also give a good read to Ender’s Game every couple of years but that’s about it from OSC.

BaBR: If you could go for a drink with any person – alive or dead – who would that be and why?

TW: Any person who perished by freezing while floating in the water after the Titanic sunk. That person must be willing to have several whiskey’s with me and tell me all – leaving out no emotion felt or thought had!

BaBR: Wow, I don’t think I’ve had that answer before. The final ice breaker before we move on to your book. If you could see one movie again for the first time, what would it be and why?

TW: Interesting. This is definitely an age dependent question. I suspect I’d answer differently in each decade. Right now, I guess I’d go with Joker. Joaquin Phoenix did something special with that role that I’ve never seen before. Superhero (or villain) characters these days have a sort of arrogance, subtle or not, in each of the main characters. Phoenix’s portrayal of Joker here had a fierce kind of vulnerability in it that I’d never seen before. I loved it. I’m afraid to watch it a second time for fear of ruining the experience. I still bought the thing though. Definitely a trophy in my case for sure. If I ever met Joaquin I think I’d shake his hand and just tell him all this and thank him for it. I love movies and it’s rare you’re hit with a performance like that.

BaBR: Great shout – I absolutely loved Joker, and the performance was absolutely incredible. Now, let’s discuss Lockheed Elite. What led you to writing a sci-fi novel? Is this a genre you have always wanted to write in?

TW: Yeah it’s interesting. I read sci-fi less than fantasy and general fiction. I get stories in my head and sometimes it sticks like an itch and the only way to resolve it is to get it out. The characters in Lockheed Elite just worked in my head really well and I couldn’t stop thinking about it until I started writing it down.

BaBR: Where did the idea for Lockheed Elite come from?

TW: I’m sure it has inspiration from a multitude of media I’ve consumed. I mean anyone who’s seen Firefly can see that. But ultimately my gut had a desire for a good sci-fi read that was far more character driven than shoot’em up military meathead knocking skulls around. I just simply asked myself if life in space were a reality, what would it look like. Lockheed Elite was that for me. Most work around might just be doing any work available for anyone who can pay. Unless, of course, you wanna be tied to some entity that has strict policy. I saw a crew bent on living free and clear of oppressing rule. Scraping or salvaging seemed ideal for these guys and it gave me a nice avenue for the need for speculative inventions to get the job done.

BaBR: The character of Anders Lockheed feels well thought out and believable. Is he, or anyone else in the book based on anyone you know?

TW: Nope. I needed a captain that everyone respected. Anders fit that bill and felt right. With a large cast of characters, I needed him to be a smart kind of average guy so as to not steal the show from everyone else. They all played a big role and I think that helped make him believable. Most people aren’t extraordinary so making them all ordinary in their own ways, I think, is what made them work.

BaBR: Did you have a complete plan for Lockheed Elite, or was it a fly by the seat of your pants creation?

TW: I discovery wrote this book! I really enjoyed doing it that way. I just wrote until the end. Read it. Asked myself, what’s missing? What does this story need? Are twists working? Then I added Severn and Marko on the second pass. And then I read and edited over and over. I rewrote the beginning several times. I have to admit though that I wish I had rewrote the ending several times. It would go generally the same way, but I think I could have executed it much better.

BaBR: The crew in Lockheed Elite feel well bonded, and as if they have plenty more missions and mishaps in their future – are there plans for further books to continue the story of Anders Lockheed and his crew?

TW: Oh yes!! The second one is well planned out and mostly first drafted. I’m having trouble finding the time to write with work and two kids now. I wrote Lockheed when it was just Maryna and I and the more kids we have the harder it is to find the time. I suspect that I’ll have more time coming up here in the near future, what with working from home now!

BaBR: Once again, thanks for taking the time to put so much thought into your answers and chatting with me!


An Interview with Richard Dee

An Interview with Richard Dee

It’s been a long time since I last shared a new edition of my An Interview With… series where I interview authors so we can all get to know the person behind the pages. Today I am bringing it back, hoping to make it a slightly more regular feature than it has been. I’m going to keep them pretty simple – there will be ten questions, the first five will be weird and wonderful ice breakers. The next five will be delving into the work of the author.

With the formalities out of the way, let’s get into this edition of An Interview With…! Today’s author is someone I have worked with now for quite some time, when he first requested a review of his cozy sci-fi mystery Andorra Pett and the Oort Cloud Cafe. Since then I’ve had the pleasure of reading the two follow up books – Andorra Pett on Mars and Andorra Pett and her Sister. I am looking forward to the fourth book that he is working on. I am currently reading one of his most recent sci-fi novels, The Hitman and the Thief due out later this year. Aside from writing he has also become a brilliant supporter of myself as I work on my own first novel. Without further ado, it’s time to welcome Mister Richard Dee!

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Books and Beyond Reviews: Thanks for joining me here on Books and Beyond Reviews for an interview, Richard! Here’s your first ice breaker. If you were a wrestler what would be your entrance theme song?

Richard Dee: After 62 years, including the 1960s and 70s; I would need to walk a long way to get all the significant songs in. If I had to choose one, and I’ve agonised over the choice for ages, it would have to be Go your own Way, from the album Rumours, by Fleetwood Mac.

BaBR: What is your favourite magical or mythological animal?

RD: That would be the Dragon, there are so many variations in the way they are represented, in a way we have made them as complex as we are. I had to introduce my own species in my Steampunk novels, calling them Drogans. They are very different from the ones you see in Game of Thrones.

BaBR: Which fictional family would you most like to be a member of?

RD: A few of my acquaintances would suggest the Addams family!!! I would prefer to be part of a family of explorers, like the Swiss Family Robinson or even the family inspired by that book, the Robinsons of Lost in Space. Failing that the Famous Five or the Pevensie’s (of Narnia) would do at a pinch.

BaBR: If you could be any animal in the world, what animal would you choose to be and why?

RD: A black Labrador. Having owned, rescued and puppy walked them for Guide dogs, I feel like I know their personalities. They are eternally happy, just how we should all be.

BaBR: One last ice breaker before we move on to your books. If you could see one movie again for the first time, what would it be and why?

RD: The first Star Wars film, which I saw in New York in 1977. For one very simple reason. It showed us a sci-fi future that wasn’t perfect. Up to then, the future had been shown as a better now, where everything was clean and shiny. Star Wars changed all that. The technology was old, used, encrusted with dirt. Sometimes it didn’t work. It was a more relatable future, similar to the present with some new inventions. It changed the way I thought about Science Fiction.

BaBR: With novels written in both the sci-fi and steampunk genres, do you have a personal favourite?

RD: My favourite is whatever I’m writing at the time. Coming from a background in world-wide trade, I have a soft spot for my interplanetary trader Dave Travise and his life. Having worked for an Insurance company, I love writing about corporate misdeeds and conspiracies. And the Victorian era fascinates me so much, with its spirit of innovation and infinite possibilities. Put them (and other inspirations) altogether and I’m happy to create a story in whatever setting. What you have to remember is that, as we move out into the galaxy, we will take all our emotional baggage with us. The same tales will play out, only the setting will be different.

BaBR: Having had a rather varied career path yourself, has this in any way informed the characters in your Andorra Pett series where the leads assume a variety of roles themselves?

RD: I think it must have, although I never realised it at the time, I must have been storing up all the experiences in my mind, ready to adapt them and send them out into a new setting. Being on a ship in the 1970s was like going into space in a way, you were cut off from the world for weeks at a time and visited strange places. Plus, being isolated in a small group, you had to learn to be a jack of all trades. In the same way, the people of the future, colonising a new world, will have to be the same sort of people.

BaBR: Are any of your characters based upon yourself or people close to you?

RD: Andorra Pett is based on my wife and three daughters. Which parts of her relate to which person is up to them to work out. And others are taken from my career at sea, which introduced me to such a wide range of personalities.

BaBR: Do you have clear plots in mind when you start your books or do you start with a base idea and build from there?

RD: I have an idea, it might be prompted from an overheard remark in a coffee shop, or a fact that I’ve discovered on the internet. After that, I just start typing, watching a film in my head of what happens next. I let the characters control the action and just type what I see. In that way, I never know what will happen next. I get to the end at the same time as the reader will, so I share their emotions all the way through the book.

BaBR: As a first time author, I have found the support and advice from other authors has been invaluable in the process of writing my first book. If you could only give an aspiring author one single piece of advice, what would that be?

RD: I have been helped so much, by so many people that I’ll never meet. I try to pay it forward as much as I can. Another author once told me, the best thing to do is just WRITE, as much as you can, as often as you can. It’s the only way to develop your style. Not only that, you can’t edit a blank page. Connected to that, make sure that you get a good editor. You can save money everywhere else, by doing your own covers etc. but you only get one chance to make a first impression. Have your work properly edited, a typo on page one is not the way to go. I guess that’s two things, never mind.

BaBR: Thanks so much for taking some time to share your thoughts with us, Richard. Now’s your chance to promote your current book and any links readers can use to connect with you and your work.

RD: My latest release is a Steampunk adventure, set in a place which is not unlike Victorian England. There’s a mad scientist bent on world domination and a motley band set against him. Featuring the latest devices powered by steam and clockwork, The Sensaurum and the Lexis is, according to one advance reader, “definitely a page-turner where the mundane world as we know it, has been turned quite solidly on its head and presented from a delicious new viewpoint.”

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Is Jackson Thwaite ready to discover the secret of Makewright Orphanage?

Although he doesn’t know it, he has been selected to be part of something vital to the land of his birth.

Norlandia is a country under threat, as never before. The old heroes are but a memory, while evil forces gather, seeking power.  They are armed with the latest devices that perverted science has devised. Control of Norlandia and everyone in it is their ultimate aim.

Who will stand in their way?

Under the command of the mysterious Mortimer Langdon, all that stands between civilisation and anarchy are Jackson and the rest of The Orphan Detectives.

You can find The novel at


My links

If you’d like to know more about my writing, my website is Head over there to see what I get up to, click the FREE STUFF tab or the My Novels and Short Stories tab to get all the details about my work and pick up a free short story. Why not join my newsletter and get a free short story, unavailable anywhere else.

I’m on Facebook at RichardDeeAuthor  and Twitter at Richard Dee Sci-Fi

My Amazon author page is here.  

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Bangkok Belle by Ron McMillan

Bangkok Belle by Ron McMillan

Bangkok private eye duo Mason & Dixie are hired to provide protection to Australian soap opera star Belle Cooper, who came under vicious attack from the moment she announced her participation in a Bangkok pageant.

British Army veteran Mason and his transgender business partner Dixie already have their hands full with the disappearance of their colleague. Aom went missing while keeping watch on a night club owner called Chocolate, who is suspected of murdering her British husband, Robert Collingwood.

Mason & Dixie have to keep Belle safe while juggling threats posed by the corrupt police colonel who swept the Collingwood investigation under the carpet, the ex-IRA hit man who is Chocolate’s new boyfriend, and an ageing New Jersey mobster working for the Macau mafia.

Showdowns at an exclusive inner city resort and an abandoned fruit farm on the outskirts of the Thai capital take this fast-moving thriller to an explosive conclusion.

I received a free copy of this book courtesy of the author in exchange for an honest review.

Bangkok Belle was something a little different for me. It ticked all of the boxes for a crime thriller; mystery, murder, suspense – all were found in good measure. An intriguing mystery wove itself throughout the story. But thanks to clever writing, it also brings transgender issues to the fore, without overplaying them.
bangkokbelleIn the early phases of the book there are two mysteries running simultaneously – the first, a ploy to terrorise Australian soap star Belle Cooper to keep her from joining the pageant in Thailand. The second mystery sees Dixie and Mason trying to workout what happened to Aom, a budding investigator looking into the disappearance of a British man who seems to have gone missing.

This pair of mysteries are fast paced and free flowing, but at times become a little complicated with the country-hopping. The book jumps to and fro, which seems necessary to allow for real time action, but with two involved mysteries with their own fast paced action does become a little difficult.

As Bangkok Belle progresses the two stories converge, their mysteries beginning to entwine and the bigger picture becoming slowly clearer. The action is intense, and sustained without becoming too exhausting, and the conclusion is interesting in the way it ties threads together. All in all, Bangkok Belle is a fun, action-packed story with interesting characters.

My rating:

It’s Killing Jerry by Sharn Hutton

It’s Killing Jerry by Sharn Hutton

Fantasist, push-over and all-round crap father: Jeremy Adler’s an inspiration. For scandal, treachery and blackmail.

Fleeced by his ex-wife, oppressed by a narcissist boss and ridden over rough-shod by a two month old infant, Jerry might have thought he’d been keeping the peace but, the tide of resentment is turning against him.

Fighting for his job, control of the bank statement and, ultimately, his life, Jerry’s got problems and they’re about to get a whole lot worse.

Breakdowns and break-ups, manipulation and thievery, green-eyed phoneys and unscrupulous deals. Pretending to be someone else just won’t cut it this time and featuring on the late evening news as: missing, presumed murdered, is only the beginning.

With adult themes, ‘It’s Killing Jerry’ is the head-hopping tale of Jerry’s desperately funny demise.

I received a free copy of this book courtesy of the author in exchange for an honest review.

Don’t forget to read to the end of my review for the winner of my It’s Killing Jerry giveaway! I came across Sharn Hutton when she was seeking bloggers to work with on a giveaway to promote her debut book, It’s Killing Jerry. Billed as a comedy-thriller I was intrigued to see how a fusion of these two very different genres would work out.
a1In It’s Killing Jerry, hapless, clueless fantasist Jerry Adler just does not get how lucky he truly is. Rather, he feels downtrodden by a needy 2-month old daughter, a manipulative ex-wife and a pushy, bullying boss. Useless at all things homely, his house is falling apart while his sleep-deprived wife is left to care for their still-unnamed baby while Jerry goes to the work, gym, pub or escapes in his fantasies.

When life becomes too much for him, he disappears into his own mind, assuming the persona of Remi, a jet setting MI5 agent with a life of fast cars, close calls, gambling and luxury, thinking this is what his life should be. What he cannot see growing around him is resentment.

A wife who feels neglected and left on her own. A best friend who develops an unhealthy obsession with said wife. A lonely ex-wife hell-bent on dominating as much of Jerry’s time while spending his money. A boss who he now must compete with for one job at work.

It seems like everyone is against Jerry, even if he cannot see it. So with so many people against him, when a news report declares him missing, presumed dead, it’s anybody’s guess who wielded the smoking gun. It’s not as if the motives and suspects are lacking in number.

Sharn Hutton hops from the story of Jerry and his hapless life, to that of other key players in the story including his best friend, wife, boss and even his alter-ego Remi. Twists and turns abound in a complex story of deception and treachery that is suitably slapstick enough to bring a light comedic element to proceedings.

No matter his failings, I find myself feeling sorry for Jerry, while also oddly understanding of the twisted tales of all the people around him as well. Hutton, in her debut novel, has crafted a well-paced book with twists, turns, treachery and comedy in good measure making for a hugely entertaining read. If this is her debut, I cannot wait to see what future books hold for us.

My rating:

It’s Killing Jerry giveaway

Thanks to everyone who took part in my It’s Killing Jerry giveaway! But, there can only be one winner. As I mentioned, the draw has been conducted entirely at random using the Rafflecopter platform. And I am pleased to announce that the winner is…CLAIRE KNIGHT! Congratulations!

In Plain Sight by M.A. Comley

In Plain Sight by M.A. Comley

No one is safe… not even the police.

DI Hero Nelson is used to violent crime but this one is personal. When he’s called to a crime scene he discovers the victims are two police officers one of whom is a good friend.

Determined to track down the killer, he’s dealt another blow as the body count continues to rise. To catch the killer before he strikes again, Hero calls upon the public for help. But when the criminal ups the ante by taking hostages, he soon regrets his actions.

Can Hero and the police catch the murderer before more innocent victims are hurt?

Hero must apprehend a killer who is hiding in plain sight before the time runs out.

I received a free copy of this book courtesy of the author in exchange for an honest review.

Today I have the pleasure of taking part in the blog tour for M.A. Comley’s fantastic thriller, In Plain Sight. This is the latest book in a bit of a run of thrillers for me at the moment. Not that this is a bad thing, but it does mean I am going to compare one book to the others the more of them from this genre I read. So how does this book stack up in the grand scheme?
The answer is pretty well. Set in Greater Manchester, In Plain Sight portrays a dark, almost mysterious villain and the aptly-named good guy – DI Hero Nelson. M.A. Comley builds an entertaining battle between good versus evil; pitting the significant resources of a major police force against a seemingly unpredictable criminal willing to rob, torture and murder civilians and police officers alike.

With each new robbery-murder any notion of pinning down a motive becomes more difficult. The crimes become more brutal, more sinister and less logical. The killer evolves, from simple robbery-murder, to a robbery-murder with a kidnapping, then on to a full blown kidnapping. The erratic nature of the crimes causes concern for the police, who become increasingly concerned by the lack of evidence leading to a suspect.

I enjoyed the way the story is told from both sides. A run of chapters follows DI Nelson and the Greater Manchester police as they chase shadows, while the story of the killer is told in so far as his reactions to the police, his planning and actions during the crimes he commits.

The sense of frustration felt by the police is well-developed, as is the sense of excitement experienced by the killer. In Plain Sight moves with good pace from incident to incident, crime scene to crime scene right the way through to the climax of the story. My only slight complaint is a lack of backstory for the killer: though his motive is defined by the end, not enough was made of it in my opinion. Knowing this is one part of a series of books featuring DI Hero Nelson, I cannot wait to try the other books!

My rating:

The Breakdown by B.A. Paris

The Breakdown by B.A. Paris

If you can’t trust yourself, who can you trust?

Cass is having a hard time since the night she saw the car in the woods, on the winding rural road, in the middle of a downpour, with the woman sitting inside―the woman who was killed. She’s been trying to put the crime out of her mind; what could she have done, really? It’s a dangerous road to be on in the middle of a storm. Her husband would be furious if he knew she’d broken her promise not to take that shortcut home. And she probably would only have been hurt herself if she’d stopped.

But since then, she’s been forgetting every little thing: where she left the car, if she took her pills, the alarm code, why she ordered a pram when she doesn’t have a baby.

The only thing she can’t forget is that woman, the woman she might have saved, and the terrible nagging guilt.

Or the silent calls she’s receiving, or the feeling that someone’s watching her…

I received a free copy of this book courtesy of the publisher in exchange for an honest review.

A dark, frenetic psychological thriller, The Breakdown is an emotional roller coaster. B.A. Paris won critical acclaim from her best selling book Behind Close Doors, and returns with this thriller set in the British countryside. Cass leads a normal life as a teacher, living with her husband Matthew. She cares deeply for her friends and her family. She has given much of her time to care for her late-mother who was struck down with early onset dementia. Before the murder that turns everything upside down, life was on the up. Cass returned to work after the loss of her mother, and married Matthew. But she always worried about the risk of early onset dementia striking her down before her time.
thebreakdown In the run up to the murder, Cass had been forgetting things. Nothing of consequence, nothing worse than the sort of things any of us might forget on a day to day basis. But as the darkness brought on by the murder threatens to envelope her, she begins to forget more and more, each forgotten item or act become slowly more ominous. She begins to worry that dementia is making its presence known. But as events progress, not everything is quite what it seems.

Nothing is obvious as the tension mounts throughout the book, and that’s what makes it such a fantastic read. The fear and confusion worsen as Cass spirals into an ever deepening sense of paranoia and terror at the prospect of dementia while still in her thirties. So sure that her forgetfulness is entirely down to the condition, she cannot begin to conceive of any other possible outcomes. Something is amiss, but the book is so well written that for the majority of the story neither Cass nor the reader can explain the goings on with any real certainty.

B.A. Paris keeps the tension bubbling just beneath the surface the whole way through the story. Twists and turns abound, without feeling silly or over board. All too often the outcome in a whodunnit style story can be seen very early on. I found that The Breakdown kept you guessing along with Cass until she solves the mystery surrounding her deteriorating memory and the murder of an innocent young woman.

My rating:

Frame by A.K. Alliss

Frame by A.K. Alliss

How far would you go to save someone who was already dead?

Hidden in the frame of a single photo, a content producer for social media sensation, Mathew Albrecht, discovers his possible ties to a global terrorist organisation. Could her client’s involvement also be linked to the death of her husband years earlier or is it something entirely more sinister in nature?

What is revealed may eclipse everything that she thought she knew, forcing her to confront the ghosts of her past in her pursuit of the truth.

Frame is a genre-bending thriller, set in a world poised on the brink of insanity.

I received a free copy of this book courtesy of the author in exchange for an honest review.

When I received a message through this blog from the author, asking if I would be interested in reviewing his new book, as ever I looked straight at the synopsis he included. Often I find myself thinking “that sounds interesting/fun/different, I’ll give that book a try”. This time, I was really hooked by the description. Frame struck me as being a timely and relevant book given the current world climate, so couldn’t wait to get on to reading this book.
frame-front-cover-med-resAnd I can firmly say I was not disappointed. Set in Alliss’ homeland of Australia, the events within Frame could easily happen anywhere in the world. The country, and the world beyond it, sits on the brink of utter turmoil thanks to disease and terrorist threat. Where civilisation lives on, so too does the vanity of the rich and famous. Here, we meet Hannah, a content producer, working on the social media portfolio of internet starlet, Mathew Albrecht.

In the midst of all the typically-vacuous self-centred content she is used to seeing, one image shakes her to her core. In one of the image frames she works on, a logo catches her eye – the logo of a terrorist organisation that her husband gave his life fighting against in the army. With just one image, Hannah’s life turns upside down as this chance encounter sends her on a journey; a journey to uncover the truth about the death of her husband, to uncover Albrecht’s involvement with the shady organisation and what exactly this global terrorist threat has in store for the world.

As per the description, Frame really is a genre-bending story. The book spans crime, thriller, action with elements of sci-fi thrown in for good measure. It may well be set in a version of the future, but a lot of the themes could quite plausibly occur. All around the story builds tension towards the end game. This, however, was my one and only niggle with the story – the ending. It did feel a little abrupt, not entirely ending the main character’s stories. Not that the main storyline needed that, but it might have been nice after getting into their backstories. Alliss has produced a tense, fantastic read in Frame, with a number of nods to the world we live in now and a possible destination that we might be heading towards.

My rating:

Conversations with Spirits by E.O. Higgins

Conversations with Spirits by E.O. Higgins

December, 1917. The Great War is rampaging through Europe – yet Trelawney Hart has scarcely noticed. The arch-sceptic and former child prodigy has lost his way and now ekes out a lonely existence, taking his only comfort from the bottle. This dissolute lifestyle is interrupted, however, when spiritualist crusader and celebrated author Sir Arthur Conan Doyle arrives at the door of his London club and requests his help in investigating a man he believes to be a psychic medium of unparalleled gift. Driven on by his anticipation of exposing the psychic as a fraud, Hart accepts. But it is not long before he finds himself helpless amidst a series of seemingly inexplicable events – and he is forced to consider whether there may be much more to life than he had ever thought possible.

I received a free copy of this book courtesy of the author in exchange for an honest review.

Conversations with Spirits is the debut novel by Hertfordshire-based author E.O. Higgins. Set at the time of World War One, the tale follows our troubled lead, a noted sceptic by the name of Trelawney Hart. He is contacted by legendary author Sir Arthur Conan Doyle on behalf of a psychical society to view an up and coming medium and report back on what he sees. The story runs a lot deeper than these, journeying into the life of Hart and his demons, and his beliefs.
This book normally wouldn’t be my cup of tea. It would be unfair to call it a slow book; that would imply it was dull or sluggish, which is disingenuous. But it doesn’t exhibit the usual pace that I tend to enjoy in a book, nor any real action. But none of these points are meant critically, because I finished the book having really enjoyed it! Conversations with Spirits is filled with a dark, self-deprecating with and humour that I liked. It was in places funny without trying hard to be, and the story is certainly something different.

As a bit of a sceptic myself on things of a spiritual nature, it was interesting to see things from the outside, including the manner in which a sceptic thinks. Higgins also presents Doyle in a fantastic way, with his staunch and unwavering belief in the supernatural. It made both him and Hart fantastic foils for one another, opposing each other from the furthest possible corners of the ring.

The central events of the story, an impressive feat that seems impossible, preceded by a chance for Hart to view a seance by an up and coming psychic. Some of the events during the seance led to Hart genuinely questioning his position, much as he desperately wanted to continue to believe mediumship to be a falsehood. Though his health prevented him from witnessing the main event, Trelawney visited the site before and after, examined the photos and eyewitness accounts, he could find no way that it had been falsified.

Though he begins to question himself, finally things come out in Hart’s favour. He finds his sense of self again, and regains his caustic, sarcastic and sceptical ways with renewed vigor. Conversations with Spirits is an interesting book, written beautifully, and using language reminiscent of the time. Ironically, I was sceptical as to whether it would be my cup of tea going in, but on a personal recommendation, I was open to trying it. And how pleased I am to be able to say my scepticism was banished by this fantastic debut novel from E.O. Higgins.

My rating:

How The Grinch Stole Christmas by Dr Seuss

How The Grinch Stole Christmas by Dr Seuss

“The Grinch hated Christmas! The whole Christmas season!
Now, please don’t ask why. No one quite knows the reason.”

With a heart two sizes too small, the Grinch is the meanest creature you’ll ever meet. He hates Christmas and the whole festive season. But when he hatches a dastardly plot to steal Christmas, he’s in for a big surprise!

Over the years I have seen both versions of Dr Seuss’ 1953 classic children’s tale. The Jim Carey film is fun, lively and filled with colour, and the actor himself brings The Grinch to life. While the original animated cartoon version featuring the legendary Boris Karloff brings a sinister feel to proceedings.
I love them both, the child-like charm of both films is a treasure during the festive season. But I cannot remember ever having read Seuss’ original book, so when I saw it in my local book shop, I bought a copy. It’s only a very short tale, about how the Grinch, with his heart two sizes two small, despises Christmas and everything it stands for. This presents a problem, living just outside the town of Whoville, inhabited by the very festive Whos.

So to solve his problem, the mean-spirited old Grinch concocts a plan to steal all the trappings of Christmas, ruining it for all in Whoville. True to his famous style, Seuss uses rhyme throughout brilliantly, allowing the story to flow. The illustrations in the book are wonderful – they have a simple line-drawn feel to them, with only enough colour to add effect.

How The Grinch Stole Christmas at its core is a heartwarming story as the Grinch himself discovers what Christmas really means, and learns to love the festive season. I don’t know how I have not read it before, but I will be sure to read it every year from now on!

My rating: