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 score
3.5

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 score
4

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?
9781912175062
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 score
4

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 score
4.5

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 score
4

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.
official
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 score
4

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.
51pby0rbvil-_sx356_bo1204203200_
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 score
5