The Girl in the Photo by Heidi Amsinck

I so enjoyed My Name is Jensen by Heidi Amsinck (reviewed here) that I simply couldn’t resist participating in the blog tour for Heidi’s second book in the Jensen thriller series, The Girl in the Photo. My huge thanks to Anne Cater for inviting me to take part and to Muswell Press for sending me a copy of the book in return for an honest review.

The Girl in the Photo was published by Muswell Press on 28th July 2022 and is available for purchase here.

The Girl in the Photo

When ninety-year-old Irene Valborg is found brutally murdered in an affluent suburb of Copenhagen, her diamond necklace missing, it looks like a burglary gone wrong. When two more victims are attacked, the police lament a rise in violence against the elderly, but who is the young girl in the photo found by DI Henrik Jungersen on the scenes of crime? Impatient to claim her inheritance, Irene’s daughter hires former Dagbladet reporter Jensen and her teenage apprentice Gustav to find the necklace. Henrik finds himself once more pitched in a quest for the truth against Jensen – the one woman in Copenhagen he is desperate to avoid.

My Review of The Girl in the Photo

A series of murders needs investigating.

What a pleasure to be back in the company of Jensen and Henrik. As The Girl in the Photo is the second Jensen book, despite it working really well as a stand alone, I’d really recommend reading My Name is Jensen first as this adds understanding of the characters; Jensen, Henrik and Gustav in particular. This time I felt Copenhagen was less of a presence (though I’m not sure my desire to visit is a safe one!) and this allowed Henrik especially to be more satisfyingly developed. Indeed, it was wonderful to find out more about all the major characters. I adore the troubled relationship between Jensen and Henrik because Heidi Amsinck illustrates the pull of desire versus a sense of responsibility and self preservation to perfection. This means that there is humanity and understanding underpinning the murky world of police and journalistic investigation making for a more emotionally affecting read. These are real people I’ve come to care about.

Although The Girl in the Photo revolves around violent murders, somehow Heidi Amsinck manages a lightness of touch – sometimes almost a playfulness in her writing style so that it is incredibly captivating and entertaining. I loved, for example, the sound of Henrik’s wife’s comments in his head, the interplay between Jensen and Gustav and the brilliant hooks at the end of the short chapters that keep the story fast paced and riveting. Add in an ending that has made me desperate for the next book in the series and The Girl in the Photo is a corker of a read.

The plot is layered and interesting. It is filled with surprises so that the readers is fed information just a beat behind Jensen and Henrik, adding to the feeling of mystery. There’s a real sense of urgency in the story that sweeps the reader along.

I almost never read a whole series of books because I have so many to read, but with The Girl in The Photo building on My Name is Jensen so effectively, I know I cannot resist Heidi Amsinck’s writing. She is fast becoming a new favourite author and if you’ve yet to discover Heidi Amsinck’s brilliant books you’re really missing out. I thoroughly enjoyed The Girl in the Photo.

About Heidi Amsinck

Heidi Amsinck, a writer and journalist born in Copenhagen, spent many years covering Britain for the Danish press, including a spell as London Correspondent for the broadsheet daily Jyllands-Posten. She has written numerous short stories for radio, including the three-story sets Danish Noir, Copenhagen Confidential and Copenhagen Curios, all produced by Sweet Talk for BBC Radio 4.

A graduate of the MA in Creative Writing at Birkbeck, University of London, Heidi lives in London.

She was previously shortlisted for the VS Pritchett Memorial Prize. Last Train to Helsingør is her first published collection of stories. Her crime novel My Name is Jensen, set in Copenhagen, will be published in August 2021.

For more information, follow Heidi on Twitter @HeidiAmsinck1. You can also find Heidi on Instagram and Facebook.

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No Secrets by David Jackson

With The Rule and The Resident still awaiting my attention on my TBR I was determined to read David Jackson’s latest book No Secrets. My enormous thanks to the team at Viper for sending me a surprise copy. I’m delighted to share my review of No Secrets today.

No Secrets was published by Serpent’s Tail imprint Viper on 7th July 2022 and is available for purchase through the links here.

No Secrets

THEY BELIEVE HIS LIES. SHE KNOWS THE TRUTH.

You can’t lie to Izzy Lambert. Her highly developed empathic abilities allow her to read people’s emotions with terrifying accuracy – and consequences. As a child her insights sparked her parents’ divorce. As an adult she avoids getting too close to people for fear of what she might learn.

But now young girls are going missing in her town. The police have no suspects but, seeing her old school caretaker interviewed on the news about the story, Izzy comes to a chilling realisation: he knows where the missing girls are. When the police won’t take her seriously despite the lives at stake, she will risk everything to uncover the truth.

My Review of No Secrets

Izzy can tell when people are lying.

Good grief. Can anyone explain to me why I have been stupid enough not to have read David Jackson before? What a talent! I thought No Secrets was absolutely brilliant because it held me spellbound from start to finish to the extent that I put life on hold to gulp it down over a weekend. I loved David Jackson’s writing style. Through variety of sentence and paragraph length, and with natural dialogue, he seems to have a natural ability to convey life incredibly effectively.

No Secrets is so well plotted that I simply didn’t anticipate some of the actions and that element of surprise enhanced my enjoyment immensely. The pace is fast and captivating, with short chapters that create an almost breathless pace. I definitely had willingly to suspend my disbelief at some of Izzy’s actions, but not because David Jackson didn’t make them plausible in the context of the narrative and her ability to know when someone is lying, but because I couldn’t conceive of having her level of doggedness and conviction. This made her fascinating and frustrating – just like a real person.

Indeed, Izzy is a superb character because she illustrates how those who do the right thing for the right reason don’t always achieve the right outcomes. This means that, as well as being a snappy, enthralling thriller, No Secrets is a mature and contemplative insight into morality, our past and how we are affected by the events life throws at us. Whilst I had expected an exciting story, I wasn’t prepared for the level of emotion I felt too, especially with regard to Izzy and Josh. I was thoroughly entertained, but I was emotionally touched too.

On the surface No Secrets is another thriller revolving around missing young women, but it is so much more than that. I’m not able to say too much about plot or theme as both would reveal too much of the story for others, but I loved this book. Simultaneously unsettling, emotional, exciting and witty, No Secrets is a fantastic read that I thoroughly, thoroughly recommend. I’m so glad I’ve finally got round to reading David Jackson’s excellent writing.

About David Jackson

David Jackson is the acclaimed author of the crime thriller series featuring New York detective Callum Doyle. Pariah, his debut novel, was Highly Commended in the Crime Writers Association Debut Dagger Awards. It is published in the UK by Pan Macmillan, and various audio and foreign rights have been sold. Follow-up novels in the series are: The Helper, Marked, and Cry Baby. The Guardian newspaper said of David’s writing: ‘Recalls Harlan Coben – though for my money Jackson is the better writer.’

For further information visit David’s website and follow him on Twitter @Author_Dave. You’ll also find David on Facebook.

The Last House on the Cliff by Anne Wyn Clark

Today I’m delighted to share details of another of my online reviews with My Weekly and this time it’s of the thriller The Last House on the Cliff by Anne Wyn Clark.

Published by Harper Collins’ imprint Avon on 18th August 2022, The Last House on the Cliff is available for purchase through these links.

The Last House on the Cliff

When a young widow’s little girl vanishes, could a dark family secret hold the answer?

On the death of her aunt GwynLowri returns once more to Gwyn’s home on the remote island of Anglesey, Wales, with her young daughter Ruby in tow. Lowri hadn’t seen her aunt in years, but this beautiful island offers a fresh start.

Yet right away, strange things begin to happen. Ruby insists an old woman is visiting her when no one else is watching, and a tattered old doll keeps being left for Ruby to find.

Then Ruby goes missing. Desperately seeking answers no one seems to have, Lowri looks to her dark family past for clues. But the secrets she uncovers suggest that Ruby is not the only one in danger, and time is running out – for both of them…

A terrifically dark and twisty tale that asks: can you ever really trust those closest to you? Perfect for fans of Ruth Ware, Cass Green and C.J. Tudor.

My Review of The Last House on the Cliff

My full review of The Last House on the Cliff can be found on the My Weekly website here.

However, what I can say here is that The Last House on the Cliff is steeped in lies, secrets and deception and I thoroughly enjoyed its murky, creepy atmosphere.

Do visit My Weekly to read my full review here.

About Anne Wyn Clark

Anne Wyn Clark lives in the UK, in the Midlands, with her husband, son and a feisty chinchilla. She has three (now grown-up) children and five grandchildren. She is particularly partial to Italian food, decent red wine (or any coloured wine come to that…) and cake – and has been known to over-indulge in each on occasions. She is passionate about animals and their welfare. Whilst she has enjoyed writing for many years, a love of all things gothic inspired her to try her hand at producing something dark and twisty, culminating in the haunting Whisper Cottage.

For more information, follow Anne on Twitter @EAClarkAuthor. or find her on Instagram.

An Escape to Provence by Sophie Claire

My enormous thanks to Sophie Claire for inviting me to be part of the blog tour for her latest book, An Escape to Provence and to Oliver Martin at Hodder for sending me a copy of the book in return for an honest review. I’m delighted to share that review today.

An Escape to Provence was published by Hodder and Stoughton on 21st July 2022 and is available for purchase here.

An Escape to Provence

Where there’s a will, can love find a way?

When cynical divorce lawyer Daisy Jackson unexpectedly inherits a ramshackle farmhouse in Provence, she sets off for the French countryside to oversee renovations herself.

But Gabriel Laforet has other ideas. A local builder with ties to the property, Gabriel is determined to see Daisy off and preserve the characterful, charming farmhouse – which, but for a missing will, he knows is rightfully his.

When the two meet, it’s clear they couldn’t be more different: Gabriel has lived in the small country village all his life; Daisy is a city girl whose career means everything. He is laid-back and messy; she is used to being in control. As they begin to work together, sparks fly. Yet they’re inexplicably drawn to each other and, in the heat of the Provence sun, secrets begin to spill. Perhaps Daisy can trust him with her carefully guarded heart after all?

But Gabriel is still searching for the missing will that proves the farmhouse belongs to him – and in doing so, risks upturning everything he and Daisy have started to build together . . .

My Review of An Escape to Provence

Daisy Jackson has inherited a run down house in Provence.

My goodness, An Escape to Provence was a delight to read. Sophie Claire whisks the reader away to her Provençal setting just perfectly, with the heat, the aromas, the weather, the food and just enough smatterings of simple French to make to story feel completely authentic. Reading An Escape to Provence made me want to be in the region immediately and I certainly felt transported to the setting.

The plot in An Escape to Provence is very much a ‘will they, won’t they?’ romance, but that only enhances the enjoyment of reading the book as it is sheer escapism. I think I found myself as much in love with Gabriel Laforet as any fictional character I’ve ever read about. He embodies the perfect fantasy hero so that there’s real interest in how his relationship with Daisy might develop – and not a little day-dreaming on my part too! That isn’t to say he is stereotypical or two dimensional. Far from it. He has his stubbornness, his intractable sense of morality and his temper too that add to the layers in his personality, making him all the more vivid.

Daisy works so well as a character because there is genuine change and development over the course of the narrative. Her demons from the past are satisfyingly, gradually, revealed giving her a complexity that makes her all the more real. I think the pressure she feels to exceed her own expectations is something so many women feel and I found myself increasingly drawn to her as a person as I read.

Because An Escape to Provence is so clearly set in a warm, vibrant and realistic community, the story seems to unfold more convincingly. I enjoyed meeting the secondary characters, and especially the catalyst of the deceased Jeanette, every bit as much as Daisy and Gab.

An Escape to Provence crackles and fizzes with sexual tension in the heat of the summer and yet there is genuine romance here too that engages the reader. I loved the underpinning themes of moral and legal right, family and community, self-preservation, truth and self-knowledge that gave An Escape to Provence added layers of interest alongside a smashing summer read.

An Escape to Provence is a lovely summer story and you need to pack it in your suitcase immediately! I thoroughly enjoyed it.

About Sophie Claire

Sophie Claire, born to a French mother and Scottish father, grew up in Manchester where she still lives with her husband and two sons. She writes stories centred around sunny Provence, where she spent her summers as a child.

You can find out more by visiting Sophie’s website or by following Sophie via Twitter @sclairewriter. You’ll also find Sophie on Facebook and Instagram.

Cover reveal: Together Again by Milly Johnson

It’s no secret that I’m a huge fan of Milly Johnson’s writing because she seems to be able to convey the life events and emotions of real women so brilliantly. I’ve been reading Milly’s books since way before I began blogging. Having met Milly on numerous occasions, I’m also a huge fan of her as a warm-hearted, funny, kind and talented person. As a result, I couldn’t be more excited to help share the news about Milly’s twentieth book, Together Again.

Before I do tell you about Together Again, here are other Linda’s Book Bag posts where Milly’s writing has appeared:

I’ve a review of The Woman in the Middle here

I’ve a review of I Wish It Could Be Christmas Every Day here

I reviewed My One True North here and it was one of my books of the year in 2020.

My review of The Magnificent Mrs Mayhew is here.

Milly was kind enough to write a piece for Linda’s Book Bag when The Mother of All Christmases was released in a post available here.

I have my review of another of Milly’s books, The Perfectly Imperfect Womanhere.

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However, today is all about Together Again so let’s find out more:

Together Again

Sisters, Jolene, Marsha and Annis have convened at their childhood home the huge and beautiful Fox House following the death of their mother, the cold and impenetrable Eleanor Vamplew, to arrange the funeral and sell up. Born seven years apart, the women have never bonded and are more strangers than sisters.

Jolene, the eldest, is a successful romantic novelist who writes templates of beautiful relationships even though her marriage to the handsome and charming  Warren is a barren wasteland.

Marsha, the neglected middle child has put every bit of her energy into her work hoping money would plug up the massive gap in her life left by the man who broke her young heart, only to find it never has. And now he has been forced back into her life.

Annis is the renegade, who left home aged sixteen and never returned, not even for the death of their beloved father Julian, until now. It is therefore a surprise to all of them to discover that Eleanor recently changed her will to leave everything to the daughter she considered a wretched accident.

Together, Again is the story of truths uncovered and lies exposed, of secrets told – and kept. It is a novel about sister helping sister to heal from childhood scars, and of finding, in each other, the love they have all been deprived of. Together, Again is about vulnerability and strength, acceptance and family. 

Published by Simon and Schuster on 29th September, Together Again is available for pre-order through the links here.

About Milly Johnson

Milly Johnson was born, raised and still lives in Barnsley, South Yorkshire.

Sunday Times bestseller, she is one of the Top 10 Female Fiction authors in the UK with millions of copies of her books sold across the world. In 2020, she was honoured with the Romantic Novelists’ Association’s Outstanding Achievement Award and was a featured author in the Reading Agency’s Quick Reads and World Book Night campaigns.

A writer who champions women and highlights the importance of friendship and community, Milly’s characters are celebrations of the strength of the human spirit. Together Again is her twentieth novel.

You can follow Milly on Twitter @millyjohnson and Facebook, or you can visit her website for more information. You’ll also find Milly on Instagram.

Other People’s Husbands by Elizabeth Noble

Although I’ve been aware of Elizabeth Noble’s writing – not least because I have a friend of the same name – I have never read her until now. Consequently I’m very grateful to Courtney Jefferies at edpr for inviting me to participate in the blog tour for Other People’s Husbands.

Published by Penguin’s Michael Joseph on 21st July 2022, Other People’s Husbands is available for purchase through the links here.

Other People’s Husbands

Sometimes friendship crosses a line . . .

A group of close friends, their bonds forged at the nursery gates two decades ago, have celebrated, commiserated and grown together: they thought they all knew each other so well.

Until the affair.

Now a crack appears in everything.

Could one betrayal really destroy it all?

Other People’s Husbands is a story of friendship and love, crossing boundaries and breaking vows, of trying to fix what you believed could never be broken.

My Review of Other People’s Husbands

A group of friends is about to be split apart.

I confess that when I opened Other People’s Husbands and saw there was a cast list my heart sank. I wasn’t going to enjoy the book because I would find it impossible to know who was who. How wrong can you be? I absolutely adored Other People’s Husbands even if (or perhaps, especially because) it did leave me crying on more than one occasion.

Whilst the men, especially Dom, Kit and Will, play a pivotal role in the narrative, it is the women here who are so brilliantly depicted. Each of the six women around whom the story revolves is distinct and real, and I had none of my expected difficulty in knowing who was who, but it is Natalie who is the star of the story. I wanted to hate her for her infidelity, for hurting Kit and for not considering Arlo sufficiently but Elizabeth Noble writes so skilfully that she simply didn’t allow it. Certainly Natalie is selfish, flawed and reckless, but by the end of the story I understood clearly why she behaved as she did and I so wanted her to find resolution and happiness. There are no carboard characters in Other People’s Husbands, but rather real, dynamic and vivid people who could be those living in our own streets.

To some extent the plot of Other People’s Husbands is as old as time, where love and lust become confused and destructive, but this story is so imbued with sensitive understanding, with realism and compassion that it feels quite perfect. I believed in the people, the settings and the situations completely so that I found the story very affecting and emotional. Carefully plotted over a year, Other People’s Husbands would make a fantastic television drama series.

The themes in Other People’s Husbands are exquisitely considered. It’s no plot spoiler to say there is infidelity, but Elizabeth Noble illustrates so beautifully the butterfly effect of a relatively simple decision, giving the reader so much to consider. She also weaves in guilt, grief of many kinds, love, betrayal, anger and hurt, for example, so that all life and its vicissitudes ebb and flow through the story making it a captivating and engrossing read.

I haven’t previously read Elizabeth Noble so I am unsure how typical Other People’s Husbands is of her writing, but I so loved this story that I think I may have discovered a new favourite author. I found Other People’s Husbands surprised me. I expected a pleasant read that might be mildly diverting and instead discovered a narrative of depth, understanding and complete engagement. It’s a cracker and I adored it!

About Elizabeth Noble

Elizabeth Noble lives in Surrey with her husband and two daughters. Her previous Sunday Times bestsellers include: The Reading Group, which reached Number One, The Friendship Test (formerly published as The Tenko Club), Alphabet WeekendsThings I Want My Daughters to KnowThe Girl Next DoorThe Way We WereBetween a Mother and her ChildLove, Iris and The Family Holiday.

Between a Mother and her Child and Love, Iris were both Richard & Judy Book Club picks. Other People’s Husbandsis her tenth novel.

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Letter From A Tea Garden by Abi Oliver

It’s far too long since I reviewed Abi Oliver’s A New Map of Love here and so I was delighted to be able to participate in the blog tour for her latest book Letter from a Tea Garden. My thanks to Becky Smith at Literally PR for inviting me to participate.

Published on 22nd June 2022, Letter from a Tea Garden is available for purchase here.

Letter from a Tea Garden

1965, an English country mansion.

Eleanora Byngh is not in a good state. Wedded to the whisky bottle and with her house crumbling round her ears, her days seem destined to follow a lonely (and grumpy) downhill path.

When the post brings an unexpected invitation to return to the Indian tea gardens of her childhood, Eleanora risks breaking open painful memories of her younger years, lived across a tumultuous century.

As relationships with her new-found family face their own challenges, she is offered fresh truths, the chance of love and unexpected new life – if she is prepared to take them.

By the author of A New Map of Love.

My Review of Letter from a Tea Garden

A letter from her nephew returns Eleanora to India.

I confess that for the first few pages I didn’t initially warm to Eleanora as I found her use of diminutive forms like ‘doggies’ irritating and I wondered whether I would enjoy Letter from a Tea Garden, but it didn’t take long for me to realise that this is all part of Eleanora’s characterisation and her brusque, dismissive language is simply a cover for deep emotional pain that Abi Oliver conveys so convincingly. In fact, I went from being unsure about the book to loving it unreservedly!

The narrative is told through Eleanora’s conversational tone mixed with a dry wit and an emotional reticence that makes her such a multi-dimensional person. Her deep passion and grief, her desire to belong and to be valued, and her emotional insight despite her attempts to suppress her feelings, mean that Eleanora is as real as any person I’ve actually met. I think any reader can find a little bit of themselves in her so that Letter from a Tea Garden is relatable and emotionally connecting, making it completely wonderful.

The plot ranges over many years but is so deftly constructed through Eleanora’s storytelling that it flows seamlessly. I was desperate for a particular ending (though I can’t say more for fear of spoiling the plot) because Abi Oliver made me completely invested in Eleanora’s tale. Steeped in geographical richness so that the reader is truly transported to India through fantastic use of the senses, and vivid in historical accuracy and detail that adds texture and lends authenticity, Letter from a Tea Garden is an immersive, totally mesmerising read.
Whilst the story is totally convincing and entertaining, it is the themes of Letter from a Tea Garden that give it an emotional depth that I thought was so affecting. There’s a real sense of how our family and upbringing can affect us years into the future, of how life isn’t a linear, straight-forward experience but rather is messy, complicated and challenging and doesn’t always have a happy outcome. The impact of national and international events like WW1 on individuals is sensitively portrayed, and that basic human need to love and be loved simply shimmers with genuine understanding through the narrative. This is such skilled writing.
Having begun reading Letter from a Tea Garden wondering if I was going to like it, I ended up absolutely loving it. The emotional pull that Abi Oliver engenders is remarkable. Letter from a Tea Garden is a story of human frailty and strength, of love and loss and of what it is to be lost and to belong. It touches the soul, is quite wonderful and I adored it.

About Abi Oliver

Abi Oliver (pseudonym of Annie Murray, bestselling novelist)has spent much of her life in the Thames Valley. At boarding school, Abi met a teacher who became a friend and mentor for 30 years, who had been a nun in Bangladesh, prompting a visit to Barishal in 1980, and sparking a life-long interest in South Asia.

She studied at Oxford and London Universities, has worked for a charity, on Indian Railways, as a nurse and as a writer. In 1991, she won the SHE/This Morning (Richard and Judy) short story competition, securing a literary agent and her first novel was accepted in 1993. She has since written 30 novels, raised four children and lives in Dorchester-on-Thames.

You can follow Abi on Twitter @AbiWriterOliver and visit her website. You’ll also find Abi on Facebook.

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All I said Was True by Imran Mahmood

I’ve all of Imran Mahmood’s books awaiting me on my TBR so although I’m trying to cut back on blog tours I simply couldn’t resist taking part in this one for Imran’s latest book, All I Said Was True. My huge thanks to Tracy Fenton for inviting me to participate and to Raven Books for sending me a copy in return for an honest review.

Published by Bloomsbury Raven on 21st July 2022, All I Said Was True is available for purchase here.

All I Said Was True

When Amy Blahn was murdered on a London office rooftop, Layla Mahoney was there. She held Amy as she died. But all she can say when police arrest her is that ‘It was Michael. Find Michael and you’ll find out everything you need to know.’

The problem is, the police can’t find Michael – there is no evidence that he exists. And time is running out before they have to either charge Layla with Amy’s murder, or let her go.

As a lawyer, Layla knows that she has only forty-eight hours to convince police to investigate the man she knows only as ‘Michael’ instead of her.

But the more she attempts to control her interviews with police, the more the truth leaks out – and how much of that truth can Layla risk being exposed?

My Review of All I Said Was True

Layla has been arrested.

Wow. All I Said Was True is fantastic. Imran Mahmood writes with such skill and dexterity that he draws his reader in to a swirling vortex of intrigue, mystery and possibility. My brain was reeling because the first person account from Layla feeds information to the reader and yet tells them nothing at all. All I Said Was True feels almost audacious at the same time as being completely compelling.

The short chapters create a fast paced plot and given the unity of Layla simply being interviewed by the police, the way the action is threaded into the narrative is astonishing. It’s so difficult to articulate the seemingly paradoxical simplicity and sophistication of how this story is constructed without spoiling the read for others.

All I Said Was True is a kind of Schrodinger’s cat narrative with concepts of free will and determinism, fate and possibility, truth and perception thrumming through the narrative so that until the box is opened and the final page is read, the reader has no idea if Layla’s truth it the actual truth. The characters might be manipulative, but my goodness, so is Imran Mahmood in his dual time structure, pitch-perfect plotting and snappy pace, stunning the reader with this brilliant narrative.

The characters are compelling. Although All I Said Was True isn’t a lengthy novel, there’s a simultaneous back story to the main characters that adds depth, such as the mental health of Layla’s mother, which makes the reader question Layla every bit as much as the police do. Combined with a deliberate withholding of information about those like Michael, the story is made all the more captivating. I am still wondering what those I’ve left behind in All I Said Was True are doing now.

Intelligent, intriguing, innovative, interesting and so impressive, All I Said Was True is an elegantly written, mesmerising read I loved unconditionally. It’s one of my favourite books this year. Don’t miss it.

About Imran Mahmood

Imran Mahmood is a practising barrister with thirty years’ experience fighting cases in courtrooms across the country. His debut novel You Don’t Know Me was chosen by Simon Mayo as a BBC Radio 2 Book Club Choice for 2017 and longlisted for Theakston Crime Novel of the Year and for the CWA Gold Dagger, and was made into a hugely successful BBC1 adaptation in association with Netflix. His second novel I Know What I Saw was released in June 2021, was chosen as a Sunday Times crime novel of the month and reached no. 2 on the Audible charts. He has been commissioned to write three screenplays and is working on his next novel. When not in court or writing novels or screenplays he can sometimes be found on the Red Hot Chilli Writers’ podcast as one of the regular contributors. He hails from Liverpool but now lives in London with his wife and daughters.

You can find out more by following Imran on Twitter @imranmahmood777 and finding him on Instagram and Facebook.

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It’s here! The @CapitalCrime1 Festival 2022

I was so disappointed not to be able to attend the launch of Capital Crime Festival 2022 (that I wrote about here) but I was suffering post-Covid exhaustion. Now, however, I’m thrilled to be able help announce the full details for Capital Crime Festival 2022 to be held at Battersea Park, London from 29th September to 1st October. If the 2019 Capital Crime Festival (that I wrote about here) is anything to go by, I think it’s going to be a brilliant, unmissable, event.

CAPITAL CRIME RETURNS

WITH RICHARD OSMAN, ANTHONY HOROWITZ, DOROTHY KOOMSON AND PAULA HAWKINS TO HEADLINE

Richard Osman, Rev. Richard Coles, Kate Mosse, Robert Harris, Dorothy Koomson, Bella Mackie and Paula Hawkins are amongst the authors confirmed for Capital Crime, London’s only crime and thriller festival, which returns 29th September-1st October after its hugely successful inaugural event in 2019.

Taking place in London’s stunning Battersea Park, Capital Crime will be hosting over 164 panellists, bringing together readers, authors, industry figures and the local community for the first major literary festival held on the site. With a Goldsboro Books pop-up bookshop in the iconic Pump House Gallery, the first ever Fingerprint Awards ceremony, alongside an array of London’s tastiest local street food vendors and bar area, it promises to be a weekend of fun, innovation and celebration of crime fiction.

Thursday 29th September

On the opening night (Thursday 29th September), Anthony Horowitz, Kim Sherwood and Charlie Higson will be discussing all things Bond, and the role the capital city has played in the fictional spy’s life, and the 007 car from Sherwood’s incredible new novel, ‘DOUBLE OR NOTHING’ will be on display at the heart of the festival, in association with Alpine and Ian Fleming Publications.

Outreach Work

Thursday’s programming will comprise of a series of events dedicated to Capital Crime’s social outreach programme, in which two sixth form students and their teachers from schools in and around the capital will be invited to meet with authors and publishing professionals to demystify the industry and attract new and diverse young voices into publishing.

Pitches and Awards

Robert Harris will be in conversation with comedian and podcaster Andrew Hunter Murray, discussing dystopian fiction, and there will also be a very special opportunity for aspiring authors to pitch their novel idea to agents David Headley (DHH), Emily Glenister (DHH), Camilla Bolton (Darley Anderson) or Phillip Patterson (Marjacq). The first evening will close with the very first Fingerprint Award Ceremony. The winners, selected by readers across five categories Crime Novel of the Year; Thriller Novel of the Year; Historical Crime Novel of the Year; Debut Novel of the Year and Genre-Busting Novel of the Year, will be announced alongside a very special Lifetime Achievement Award and Industry Award of the Year.

Friday 30th September

Friday’s events include Jeffrey Deaver, Michael Robotham and Mark Billingham interviewed on the theme of ‘Crime Across Continents’ by Victoria Selman, and Mark Edwards, Will Dean, Erin Young and Chris Whitaker speaking to Tariq Ashkanani about setting their thrillers in the US. In addition, Abir Mukherjee, Laura Shepherd-Robinson, Anna Mazzola and Jessica Fellowes will be speaking to Suzy Edge about historical crime writing, and Dorothy Koomson and Kate Mosse will be in conversation about their work with the Women’s Prize and the versatility of crime fiction. Claire McGowan, David Beckler, Catriona Ward, Chris Carter, Nicci French, W.C. Ryan, Stuart Neville and Eva Bjorg Aegisdottir will also be taking part in panels on the themes of courtroom dramas, ghost stories, crime set in Brighton and medicine in crime fiction, amongst other topics, throughout the day, and the first two rounds of Capital Crime’s quiz ‘Whose Crime Is It Anyway?’ will take place, featuring teams of debut authors.

Saturday 1st Otober

Saturday will see Peter James interviewed on his writing career by clinical psychologist Chris Merritt; bestsellers Jeffrey Archer, Lucy Foley and Clare Mackintosh in conversation with Barry Forshaw and a Polari Panel hosted by Paul Burston. Other events include former President of the Supreme Court of the United Kingdom Lady Hale in conversation with Harriet Tyce; bestselling Icelandic author Ragnar Jonasson in conversation with the Prime Minister of Iceland Katrin Jakobsdottir; Sarah Vaughan, Louise Candlish and Paula Hawkins discussing the experience of screen adaptations, before rounding off the festival with Richard Osman in conversation with Bella Mackie.

The final round of ‘Whose Crime is it Anyway?’ will also take place, as well as panels on the topics of spies, Grand Dames, detectives and comedy crime featuring Vaseem Khan, Robert Thorogood, Antti Tuomainen, Steve Cavanagh, Jane Casey, Catherine Ryan Howard and Steph Broadribb.

And Extras!

As well as panels and events, there will be exciting public events throughout the weekend, including launch events for Elly Griffiths’ breath-taking new thriller Bleeding Heart YardThe Perfect Crime anthology, which brings twenty-two bestselling crime writers from across the world together in a razor sharp and deliciously sinister collection of crime stories, and an interactive treasure hunt inspired by Peter James’s latest blockbuster, Picture You Dead (publisher). There will also be entertainment, including a crime-themed comedy performance from The Noise Next Door on Thursday.

The full programme can be found here.

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I think you’ll agree, Capital Crime 2022 is a MUST attend event. See you there!

Ginger and Me by Elissa Soave

I’m so enjoying reviewing online for the My Weekly website as I get to read some fabulous books. Today I’m sharing my thoughts on Ginger and Me by Elissa Soave.

Published by Harper Collins’ imprint HQ on 21st July 2022, Ginger and Me is available for purchase through the links here.

Ginger and Me

Wendy is lonely but coping.

All nineteen-year-old Wendy wants is to drive the 255 bus around Uddingston with her regulars on board, remember to buy milk when it runs out and just to be okay. After her mum died, there’s nobody to remind her to eat and what to do each day.

And Wendy is ready to step out of her comfort zone.

Each week she shows her social worker the progress she’s made, like the coasters she bought to spruce up the place, even if she forgets to make tea. And she even joins a writers’ group to share the stories she writes, like the one about a bullied boy who goes to Mars.

But everything changes when Wendy meets Ginger.

A teenager with flaming orange hair, Ginger’s so brave she’s wearing a coat that isn’t even waterproof. For the first time, Wendy has a real best friend. But as they begin the summer of their lives, Wendy wonders if things were simpler before. And that’s before she realizes just how much trouble Ginger is about to get them in…

My Review of Ginger and Me

My full review of Ginger and Me can be found on the My Weekly website here.

However, what I can say here is that Ginger and Me is absolutely brilliant and I gulped it down in one sitting because I couldn’t wait to find out what happened to Wendy as she’s so captivating.

Do visit My Weekly to read my full review here.

About Elissa Soave

Elissa Soave won the inaugural Primadonna Prize in 2019. She was also a Bloody Scotland Pitch Perfect finalist 2019 and has had work published in New Writing ScotlandGutterStructo and The Glasgow Review of Books. She’s had two short plays performed by the Short Attention Span Theatre Group and has performed at various spoken word events. She currently lives in South Lanarkshire and Ginger and Me is her debut novel.

For more information, follow Elissa on Twitter @elissa_soave.