It’s here! @CapitalCrime1 Book Club

capital crime logo

Earlier this week postie arrived with a very special packet – the first monthly posting from Capital Crime’s Book Club. I previously told you about this fantastic new initiative from Adam Hamdy and David Headley in a post you can read here. Now that the book club is up and running, you’ll find FAQs answered here, but one of the most brilliant aspects is the premise that subscribers will receive two carefully chosen books (postage free) once a month with prices starting from £10 a month – the cost of a couple of coffees in many places.

My parcel arrived bearing a very familiar logo and immediately I knew I was in for a treat. Opening up this first month’s book club I was thrilled to find a hardback signed copy of Richard Osman’s The Thursday Murder Club with a paperback of Mark Edwards’ The House Guest coupled with a fabulous branded The House Guest pen – one of those with a torch and screen nib included.

With the hardback RRP for The Thursday Murder Club at £14.99 and the paperback The House Guest at £8.99 I think you can see that paying £10 a month for a 12 month subscription to have two books delivered straight to your home is a real bargain! Three and six month subscriptions are also available.

Let me tell you a bit about this month’s books:

The Thursday Murder Club

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In a peaceful retirement village, four unlikely friends meet up once a week to investigate unsolved murders.

But when a brutal killing takes place on their very doorstep, the Thursday Murder Club find themselves in the middle of their first live case.

Elizabeth, Joyce, Ibrahim and Ron might be pushing eighty but they still have a few tricks up their sleeves.

Can our unorthodox but brilliant gang catch the killer before it’s too late?

You can read my review of The Thursday Murder Club here.

The House Guest

A perfect summer. A perfect stranger. A perfect nightmare.

When British twenty-somethings Ruth and Adam are offered the chance to spend the summer housesitting in New York, they can’t say no. Young, in love and on the cusp of professional success, they feel as if luck is finally on their side.

So the moment that Eden turns up on the doorstep, drenched from a summer storm, it seems only right to share a bit of that good fortune. Beautiful and charismatic, Eden claims to be a friend of the homeowners, who told her she could stay whenever she was in New York.

They know you’re not supposed to talk to strangers—let alone invite them into your home—but after all, Eden’s only a stranger until they get to know her.

As suspicions creep in that Eden may not be who she claims to be, they begin to wonder if they’ve made a terrible mistake…

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Now, don’t you think that’s an absolute treat for a tenner?

You can sign up to the Capital Crime Book Club here. What are you waiting for?

A Guest Post by Elizabeth Suggs to Celebrate Collective Darkness

I have a certain amount of admiration for those who write and read horror as it’s a genre I tend to avoid because it disturbs me too much. Consequently, when Elizabeth Suggs, one of the authors of Collective Darkness, got in touch to tell me about this new anthology my interest was stimulated and I simply had to invite Elizabeth on to Linda’s Book Bag to explain a bit more about why I might be responding to the thought of reading horror as I do!

Collective Darkness was published on 5th September 2020 and is available in bookshops and your local Amazon.

Collective Darkness

As a child, did you hide under your blankets when you were scared of the dark?
After reading some of the scariest stories from new and up-and-coming authors, we won’t blame you if you start hiding again. Take a journey with us into the twisted mind of horror.
“The Fallout” travels through the unknown, while “Feast” will make you never want to love again.

Read these and many more stories to know what it truly means to be afraid of the dark.

Collective Darkness is the first anthology published by Editing.mee. For more information visit the website.

Darkness, Horror, and the Presumption of Malevolence

A Guest Post by Elizabeth Suggs

Rod Serling famously dubbed the expanse between our greatest fears and the apex of human knowledge the dimension of imagination, the Twilight Zone. The reference to twilight (half-light, half dark) is not lost on astute readers of speculative fiction, well-acquainted with the moral symbolism of light and dark. It is the darker edge of twilight merging with night that concerns us because this is where nightmares dwell. Delving deeper into the darkness is what fuels the fearful mind.

As the narrator of “Padua’s Eyes” (by Jonathan Reddoch) wisely observed, “In the dark, anything is possible.” In theory, what we don’t see could actually be anything: the good, the bad, and the ugly, and maybe the deformed, and malnourished, beyond gruesome, starving for human flesh with deranged eyes and protruding masses of putrid exterior teeth, and bulging pink membranes, giant leech tentacles that stretch forth to suckle, drooling maws craving your skin and your sinews and your yellowed toenails… or perhaps what is unseen is glorious and beautiful or totally mundane and boring. Yawn!

We admit that the fear excites us. This is because an underlying assumption of fear is that darkness prevails where evil lurks. Angels hide not in the shadows. Demons do. But why do we believe so?

Darkness is often defined by what it isn’t: light. Light reveals all. Darkness is clandestine. Darkness thrives in the night, the woods, a secluded castle, a murky black pond (“Pond Scum” by Alex child),the abandoned structures far from the bright lights of secured society. These poorly-lit scenes are the realm of the unseen. Fear of the unknown is formed by ignorance, blindness, and mystery.

The creaking floorboard in the old attic, what caused it? It could be a horrendous beast with razor-sharp claws. Or simply a harmless tabby cat. Until the curtain is pulled, it is both tabby and tiger. Yet it is only the possibility of the tiger that raises the hairs on our arms.

Point of fact: if Schrödinger’s Cat were a short story written by a horror author, we might foolishly predict that a blissful cat remains warmly nestled within the rigid dimensions of the experimental container, very much alive. Instead, our scientifically-minded protagonist would open the box to find the feline subject missing, unexpectantly neither alive nor dead! The scientist stands sheepishly, mouth agape, only for the mutated creature to spring upon us all from the rafters, consuming all with its irradiated mandibles. Meow!

Darkness is often conceived of as cold, or in scientific terms, it represents the lack of heat (or motion/energy). Unfeeling, uncaring, and unfriendly are just a few ways to describe coldness. This only lends additional negative connotation to our perceptions.

The presumption of malevolence of the unknown is precisely what makes darkness an integral element of the horror genre, or rather what darkness represents as the undefined variable. We fear, they say, what we don’t understand, precisely because we assume the worst. If fantasy represents naïve nostalgia, and science fiction responsible if hesitant optimism, horror is the pessimistic know-it-all triplet of the group, solemnly/gleefully whispering “I told you so” to the devoured sibling reckless enough to venture down the basement while mother is away.

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Eek Elizabeth. Thank you so much for a fascinating guest post. I’m not sure how far you’ve allayed my reluctance to read horror, but I’ll be checking under the bed before I go to sleep tonight!

About Editing.Mee

Elizabeth Suggs

You’ll find Editing.Mee and Collective Darkness on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter @CollectiveDark1. Follow and like them to receive a free digital copy of Little Darkness bonus content with a purchase of Collective Darkness. Share one of their posts and tag two friends and Collective Darkness to enter a $25 giveaway.

Jonathan Reddoch is a father, a copy editor, a test developer, an academic, and a lifelong learner. He rarely dabbles in writing horror but loves to read it and watch it and occasionally live it. He is the Associate editor in the anthology.

September 5 – ericarobynreads

September 7 – mybookaday    

September 8  – bookreviewsandmorebyKathy 

September 9 – communitybookstop

September 10 –  wishfulendings

September 11 – linda’sbookbag

September 14 – biblioleviosa

September 15 – editingmee

September 16 – crossroadreview

September 17 – taffyscandy

September 18 –  bonnieharris

September 19 –  utahgrafffamily

Staying in with Sue Clark

I can’t believe it’s almost two years since Sue Clark appeared on Linda’s Book Bag with a guest post all about the swinging sixties that you can read here. At that point Sue was involved in a very special project to launch the book she’s staying in with me today to chat about. Let’s find out more!

Staying in with Sue Clark

Welcome back to Linda’s Book Bag Sue. Thank you for agreeing to stay in with me.

Tell me, which of your books have you brought along to share this evening and why have you chosen it?

My debut novel, the comic fiction, Note to Boy, just out in July 2020.

Congratulations! What can we expect from an evening in with Note to Boy?

Humour! Note to Boy is an unashamed comedy and comes at a time when I reckon we need all the laughs we can get.

You’re absolutely right Sue. We certainly need humour with all that’s been happening in the world. What is Note to Boy about?

It’s about the mayhem that follows when the worlds of an outrageous fashion diva and a downtrodden modern teenager collide. She wants her celebrity life back. He just wants a life.

Though this is my debut novel, I’m not new to comedy. Over the years I’ve written scripts for comedians including Lenny Henry, Tracey Ullman, David Jason and Roy Hudd and contributed to BBC radio and TV shows such as Weekending, News Huddlines and Alas Smith and Jones.

You sound perfectly placed to write humour Sue!

And Note to Boy seems to be tickling some funny bones, judging by the reviews:

‘A fabulous read.’

‘Stayed up to 3.30 am to finish it.’

‘A comic novel that’s actually funny.’

‘Definitely an ‘odd couple’ – definitely a good book.’

‘Had me smiling from the first page.’

‘A seriously funny book.’

Those are great reviews! 

Having said that, I hope the novel also has poignant and thought-provoking moments. It touches on some deeper themes, like the destructive nature of celebrity, and how both the elderly and the underprivileged young can be marginalised and underestimated. But mostly it’s about entertaining the reader.

I think Note to Boy sounds fabulous Sue. I must put it on my towering TBR!

What else have you brought along and why?

That’s easy! Throughout Note to Boy, one of the two main characters, Eloise, demands that Bradley (the Boy of the title) keeps her supplied with three ‘staples’: gin, biscuits and cake. In the spirit of literary authenticity, I’m giving them a go.

That suits me Sue – as long as you’re going to share!

Also, since part of the book is set in the crazy days of London in the Swinging Sixties, I’ve brought along fab and groovy music from the Archies, the Fifth Dimension, and Tommy James and the Shondells. You must remember them!

Er  – I was born at the start of the sixties but I was more aware of Herman’s Hermits…

As a guest, I’ve invited Molly Parkin, an outrageous fashion celebrity of the 1960s who inspired some of Eloise’s fictional excesses. Though she won’t come.

Maybe the gin will entice her.

And lastly, I’m wearing – I use the term loosely – an indecently short minidress from the bottom of my wardrobe. For I was – just – old enough to experience Swinging London for myself. But the dress won’t do up at the back and now the zip and I are both stuck.

I wondered why you were dressed like that but was too polite to mention it. I’ll give you a hand with the zip in a minute Sue. Thanks so much for staying in with me to chat about Note to Boy. Crack open the gin and I’ll give blog readers a few more details.

Note to Boy

Eloise is an erratic, faded fashionista. Bradley is a glum but wily teenager. In need of help to write her racy 1960s memoirs, the former ‘shock frock’ fashion guru tolerates his common ways. Unable to remember his name, she calls him Boy.

Desperate to escape a brutal home life, he puts up with her bossiness and confusing notes.

Both guard secrets. How did she lose her fame and fortune? What is he scheming – beyond getting his hands on her bank card? And just what’s hidden in that mysterious locked room?

Note to Boy is available for purchase here.

About Sue Clark

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In a varied career Sue Clark has been a scriptwriter, journalist and PR copywriter. She’s worked for BBC radio and TV, local newspapers, and no end of corporates. Her TV and radio credits include: Alas Smith and Jones, Weekending, and The News Huddlines.

She’s interviewed John Humphreys and Ronnie Corbett and penned funny lines for Lenny Henry, June Whitfield, Tracy Ullman, Roy Hudd and David Jason, among others.

Although the comic fiction Note to Boy is billed as her debut novel, there are others lurking in desk drawers that may one day see the light. And there will be more to come!

She lives in an Oxfordshire market town much like the fictional setting of Midsomer Murders with her long-suffering husband.

You can follow Sue on Twitter @SueClarkAuthor and visit her website or find her on Facebook for more information.

Staying in with Maggie Richell-Davies

I love historical fiction and I love crime dramas too so what could be better than to have Maggie Richell-Davies here on the blog today to tell me all about her debut novel which blends both elements?

Staying in with Maggie Richell-Davies

Welcome to Linda’s Book Bag Maggie. Thanks so much for agreeing to stay in with me. Which of your books have you brought to share this evening and why have you brought it?

You are virtually confined to the house. Forced to spend your days and nights in close proximity with people you suspect might drive you mad. In a climate of uncertainty, and fear.

Sound familiar? But this is not the corona virus lockdown. This is Georgian London.

The background of uncertainty in my debut novel – which won the Historical Writers’ Association 2020 Unpublished Novel Award this spring – explains why it feels appropriate to bring The Servant to share with you this evening.

Oh yes indeed. Tell me more. What can we expect from an evening in with The Servant?

My heroine is a fifteen-year-old servant who is sent to work in the shuttered house of a disgraced aristocrat. Hannah has known herself to be “an object to be disposed of” since, at the age of 10, she was orphaned and dumped in the poorhouse. But as her life unravels, in addition to hard work and cruelty, she encounters mystery, villainy and terrible danger.

I rather like Hannah already. What inspired you to create her?

Hannah’s story was inspired by a visit I made to London’s Foundling Museum, with its heart-breaking tokens of ribbon or lace or coins left by desperate mothers in the hope they might, one day, be able to reclaim their precious child. It holds a glass up to the struggles of the vulnerable female servant classes in the days before the safety net of social services.

Eighteenth-century London was a place of great wealth, but also desperate poverty. Historians estimate that as many as a thousand babies a year were abandoned on its streets. A retired sea captain of the time, Thomas Coram, was so affected by their plight that he spent seventeen long years campaigning to set up Britain’s first ever home for such unwanted children. Crucial to his success was the support of sixteen ladies of rank, headed by the Duchess of Somerset, whose signatures on The Ladies Petition presented to George III in 1735 finally made his dream a reality.

Gosh. I’d never heard of Thomas Coram. The Foundling Museum sounds fascinating.

The Museum is a place I would urge everyone to visit now that it is open again.

I’d love to. So, what else have you brought along this evening and why have you brought it?

The other book I have brought with me is, appropriately,a copy of London’s Forgotten Children by Gilliam Pugh, chief executive of Coram (the Foundling Hospital’s present-day incarnation) from 1997-2005, which tells the story of Thomas Coram and his quest to give a future to infants whose mothers were unable to do so through extreme poverty or an unwanted pregnancy.

Thomas Coram sounds an amazing man.

Since we are in the realms of fantasy, it is the tenacious Captain Coram that I would love to bring along with me looking, as he does in Hogarth’s famous portrait, like everyone’s dream grandfather.

I think we can allow you that Maggie!

Our refreshment should be hot chocolate, the fashionable drink of the day, infused with pepper, cardamom and cinnamon. There will also be a plate of gingerbread men, since Gilliam Pugh writes of the soft-hearted Thomas Coram, in his later years, being “a familiar sight, sitting in his red coat, in the arcade in the grounds of the Hospital handing out gingerbread men to the children with tears in his eyes”.

I adore gingerbread!

Finally, my choice of music. The tenor, Aled Jones, has recorded a poignant adaptation of a Handel aria about love and constancy – a theme also explored in The Servant.

Did you not hear My Lady

Go down the garden singing?

Blackbird and thrush were silent

To hear the alleys ringing.

 

Oh, saw you not My Lady

Out in the garden there?

Shaming the rose and lily

For she is twice as fair.

 

Though I am nothing to her

Though she must rarely look at me

And though I could never woo her

I love her till I die.

 

Surely you heard My Lady

Go down the garden singing?

Silencing all the songbirds

And setting the alleys ringing.

But surely you see My Lady

Out in the gardens there

Rivalling the glittering sunshine

In a glory of golden hair.

That sounds glorious Maggie. It seems as if you’ve lived and breathed The Servant. What do readers think about it? 

This is what people are saying about The Servant:

You are dropped straight into a scene of gothic darkness.” CMP, Amazon Review

“I fell in love with Hannah immediately. Her pain, her humiliation, her desperation reached through the pages of this beautiful book and grabbed my heart.” Jeanie Thornton, The Books Delight.

“I am not in the habit of writing to authors, but read The Servant yesterday – all in one go. I couldn’t put it down! It was a joy to read and such a good story.” Thelma H. via email.

“Hannah is an admirable heroine, brave, strong and entirely credible, while the love story is an uplifting thread running through the book. It is also beautifully written with such elegant language. I found this a compelling read that I continued to think about long after I had finished.” Nicola C. Goodreads

 “A brilliant mix of intrigue, history and romance.” Connie G, Amazon Review

Ooh. Those are such good responses Maggie. I’m delighted I have a copy of The Servant on my towering TBR!

Since, in these difficult days, we have been advised that reading is just about the best thing to relieve both stress and anxiety, why not step out of the twenty-first century and into Hannah’s intriguing world of 1765?

That sounds very good advice indeed. Thank you for staying in with me to chat about The Servant Maggie. You share out the gingerbread men and I’ll give blog readers more details:

The Servant

1765.

London.

Young Hannah Hubert may be the granddaughter of a French merchant and the daughter of a Spitalfields silk weaver, but she has come down in the world.

Sent one spring day as maidservant to a disgraced aristocrat, she finds herself in a house full of mysteries – with a locked room and strange auctions being held behind closed doors.

As a servant, she has little power but – unknown to her employers – she can read. And it is only when she uses her education to uncover the secrets of the house, that she realises the peril she is in.

Hannah is unable to turn to the other servant, Peg, who is clearly terrified of their employers and keeps warning her to find alternative work.

But help might come from Thomas, the taciturn farmer delivering milk to the neighbourhood, or from Jack Twyford, a friendly young man apprenticed to his uncle’s bookselling business. Yet Thomas is still grieving for his late wife – and can she trust Jack, since his uncle is one of her master’s associates?

Hannah soon discovers damning evidence she cannot ignore.

She must act alone, but at what price?

The Servant is available for purchase here.

About Maggie Richell-Davies

Love historical thrillers? Unsurprised that someone who lived for 20 years in a timbered house, built during the English Civil War has written one?

Maggie was born in Northumberland and has a first-class honours degree from the Open University.

Her debut novel, The Servant, won the Historical Writers’ Association 2020 Unpublished Novel Award, together with a publishing contract from Sharpe Books.

The thriller was inspired by a visit to London’s Foundling Hospital Museum, with its heart-breaking stories about the tokens desperate women left there in the hope that they might, one day, be able to reclaim their child.

Maggie has had short stories published, been shortlisted for Bridport Flash and the Olga Sinclair Award and longlisted for the Exeter Novel Award. She is a member of the Historical Writers’ Association and the Romantic Novelists’ Association.

She lives in Royal Tunbridge Wells with husband, Mike, but also spent a number of years in Peru, Africa and the United States.

You can follow Maggie on Twitter @maggiedavieswr1 and visit her website for more information.

Only Human by Diane Chandler

It’s a real treat to be reviewing Diane Chandler’s Only Human on publication day as I close the launch celebrations. My enormous thanks to Stephanie Zia at Blackbird Books for inviting me to be part of this blog tour and for sending me a copy of Only Human in return for an honest review.

Published today, 8th September 2020 by Blackbird, Only Human is available for purchase through the links here.

Only Human

Every betrayal has a consequence… one family… one summer… one woman.

The Bonds are, seemingly, a tight family unit, until one fateful summer when the temptations of lust and love come for them all…

Tiger mum Anna, who gave up her career to build the perfect home life in London’s leafy Chiswick, is shocked to the core when she discovers that her husband of 20 years is having an affair.

Her daughter meanwhile is transforming into a tricky teen chopping at the apron strings.

Then Jack walks into their lives. Sophie’s first boyfriend is a breath of fresh air for the whole family, and Anna gradually discovers new purpose for herself.

But when more deceit creeps in, tensions soar, and Anna is propelled through a tangled web of secrets and lies towards a devastating climax.

My Review of Only Human

Anna’s life is about to undergo some momentous changes.

If you’re looking for a fast paced twisty thriller that writhes its way from implausible beginning to end then Only Human is not for you. However, if you want an intelligent, highly charged and pitch perfect portrait of middle class life and marriage, look no further. I found Only Human absolutely fascinating. Without wishing to be disrespectful to younger readers, I have a feeling that Only Human is the kind of narrative that more mature readers will fully appreciate because it deals with the mid-life events many will recognise.

Other than Fred, whom I adored, I loathed most of the other characters, but I simultaneously found them mesmerising and felt I had been given a privileged insight into their innermost thoughts. The excellent quality of Diane Chandler’s writing wrought physical responses in me as a reader because she made Anna, Ollie and Sophie in particular so vivid, complex, flawed and, indeed, only human. I wanted to shake Sophie, scream at Anna and slap Ollie. Anna’s first person account is so intimate and revealing that it was as if I had become complicit in her behaviour and the events that happen. I may not have liked her, but my goodness I understood her completely.

The plot is so clever because much of it is typical of many families, where real drama elicits calmer responses in the characters, and trivial events ignite words and actions that are disproportionate, so that Only Human becomes a modern parable of family life. I found it both sophisticated and primordial in equal measure.

I loved the themes of family and relationships, fidelity and guilt, love and sexuality, identity and challenge that are so much a part of real life and upon which Diane Chandler shines a laser light that leaves the reader wondering how they might have behaved in similar circumstances. It’s as if Only Human is a kind of ‘what if’ version of your own life and I ended the book feeling incredibly grateful for the life I have in contrast to Anna’s.

I found Only Human the kind of book that I couldn’t tear myself from because I wanted to know what the outcomes would be for these misguided, selfish and compelling people. Only Human is a sophisticated, intense and urbane narrative that I thoroughly enjoyed and I really recommend it.

About Diane Chandler

Diane Chandler was a political lobbyist in Brussels and then worked at the European Commission for several years, where she managed overseas aid programmes in Ukraine just after the fall of communism. Back in London, she joined the Department for International Development (DFID) on the Ukraine and then Africa desks. Her first novel, The Road to Donetsk, draws on her experience of managing overseas aid programmes, and won the People’s Book Prize. Her second, Moondance, tackles the emotional impact of IVF fertility treatment on a loving couple. Only Human, her third novel, is about a woman struggling to find meaning in life after her husband cheats on her and her only daughter is about to fly the nest. Published 8th September 2020. Diane co-runs Creative Writing Workshops London with Stephanie Zia of Blackbird Digital Books, and also coaches aspiring writers. She is the host of chiswickbuzz TV Book Club, Words with Wine in W4.

You can follow Diane on Twitter @Dchandlerauthor and Facebook and visit her website for further information. There’s more with these other bloggers too:

The Search Party by Simon Lelic

My enormous thanks to the team at Penguin for inviting me to participate in the launch celebrations for The Search Party by Simon Lelic. I’m delighted to be sharing my review today.

The Search Party was published by Penguin imprint Viking on 20th August 2020 and is available for purchase in all formats through the links here.

The Search Party

16-year-old Sadie Saunders is missing.

Five friends set out into the woods to find her.

But they’re not just friends…

THEY’RE SUSPECTS.

You see, this was never a search party.

It’s a witch hunt.

And not everyone will make it home alive…

THE CHALK MAN meets THE HUNTING PARTY in this gripping story; witness four suspects as, alongside DI Fleet, you attempt to discover the truth about what happened to Sadie…

My Review of The Search Party

Sadie is missing and the race is on to find her.

The Search Party is a corker of a book and exceeded my already high expectations in every way because Simon Lelic has an ease of style that is effortless to read and yet creates a feeling of uneasiness and creepiness that unsettles the reader and has them wondering just what they might have seen out of the corner of their eye. I loved the elegant way The Search Party has been crafted. There’s such a brilliant mix of shorter and longer chapters that create tension and perfectly pitched pace, elevating the adrenaline in the reader. The denouement is a master class in balancing resolution and emotion so that I believed every element of this book. I was so captivated by the plot that I was both desperate to finish the book and equally didn’t want it to come to the end.

Written with chapters pertaining to Rob Fleet that follow a more conventional pattern set against one sided conversations as the youngsters involved are interviewed, The Search Party places the reader at the heart of both present and past action in a way that feels fresh, visual and compelling. I frequently find teenagers in fiction seem forced or contrived, but Simon Lelic presents authentic teenage voices that are completely convincing. I thought only having their half of the interviews was a brilliant technique because the reader’s mind fills in the police half of the conversation, again making them feel as much a part of the action as Fleet or any one of the teenagers.

Those teenage characters are an engaging mix of flawed emotion, unreliable account and devious innocence so that it isn’t until the very end of the book that the truth is uncovered, making The Search Party an exciting book. I thoroughly enjoyed uncovering Fleet’s character too and I hope he’ll reappear in subsequent stories. Simon Lelic makes Rob Fleet utterly realistic and someone to admire and feel desperately sad for. I forgot he’s a character and not a real man because of the convincing nature of the writing.

There’s much in The Search Party that hooks the reader through a shared reading experience and history so that its unnerving atmosphere is intensified. The sensation of being watched, wandering lost in a forest, and wondering who to trust are all aspects that trigger both fear and familiarity. Add in modern aspects of social media, mobile phones and current policing with themes of loss and grief and Simon Lelic has melded his themes into a fantastic story that is simply wonderful to read.

I thoroughly enjoyed The Search Party and am only sorry I haven’t discovered Simon Lelic’s writing before now. This book is tense, intelligent and an all round cracker of a read. I loved it and cannot recommend it highly enough.

About Simon Lelic

Simon Lelic is the author of The Liar’s Room, The House (a Radio 2 Book Club choice and Observer Thriller of the Month), Rupture (winner of a Betty Trask Award and shortlisted for the John Creasy New Blood Dagger, as well as the Galaxy Book Awards), The Facility and The Child Who (longlisted for the CWA Gold Dagger and CWA Ian Fleming Steel Dagger 2012).

The Haven, The Haven: Revolution and The Haven: Deadfall are his first books for young teenagers (11+). H

Simon is married, with three children, and lives in Brighton, England. Other than his family, reading is Simon’s biggest passion. He also holds a black belt in karate, in which he trains daily.

You can follow Simon on Twitter @Simon_Lelic and visit his website for further information.

There’s more with these other bloggers too:

The Search Party blog tour (1)

Staying in with Lin Anderson

It’s a real pleasure to close the blog tour for Lin Anderson’s latest Rhona MacLeod thriller The Innocent Dead. My enormous thanks to the team at Pan Macmillan for inviting me to participate. I’m so sorry I didn’t have time to squeeze in a review as I think it sounds fabulous.

Lin was last on Linda’s Book Bag when I reviewed the first book in her new Blaze Dog Detective children’s series. You can see my review of The Magic Flag Mystery here.

Come and see what Lin told me about her new adult thriller when we stayed in together.

Staying in with Lin Anderson

Welcome to Linda’s Book Bag, Lin. Thank you for agreeing to stay in with me.

It’s my pleasure and thank you for asking me.

Tell me, which of your books have you brought along to share this evening and why have you chosen it?

I’ve brought along my latest book, The Innocent Dead because it’s the eagerly awaited latest book in my long running crime series starring forensic scientist Dr Rhona MacLeod.

I’ve heard such good things about this series Lin. What can we expect from an evening in with The Innocent Dead?

Quoting a fan (who I didn’t bribe!)… ‘This is one of my favourite series, and having read so much crime fiction, it is not easy to sustain a riveting long running series without great skill, talent and expertise, qualities that Anderson has in abundance.’

What a smashing comment. You must be thrilled with that response.

In The Innocent Dead, Rhona revists a crime scene from 45 years ago, when forensic science was in its infancy. Now however she can bring her forensic knowledge and skills to the study of what little evidence has been retained. It’s a period I know well, being the young daughter of a DI, who served then.

This sounds so fascinating. It’s high time I caught up with Rhona’s activities.

What else have you brought along and why?

The book is dedicated to my late father, who died before I wrote the first book in the series. So I’d bring along a drawing of him which my sister, an artist did.

Wow. What a wonderful portrait Lin. He looks such a fabulous man and would have been so proud of you I’m sure.

Rhona MacLeod was inspired by a former maths pupil of mine, Emma Hart, who became a forensic scientist. She works in London now, but comes back to our home village of Carrbridge often. I would invite Emma to our get together and present her with her own copy of the new book, as I do every year.

What a lovely way to celebrate a new book Lin. I wish you every success with The Innocent Dead. Thanks so much for staying in with me to chat about it.

The Innocent Dead

The Innocent Dead is a gripping crime novel by Lin Anderson featuring forensic scientist Rhona MacLeod who must solve the case of a young girl who went missing forty-five years ago.

Mary McIntyre’s disappearance tore the local community apart, inflicting wounds that still prove raw for those who knew her.

So when the present-day discovery of a child’s remains are found in a peat bog south of Glasgow, it seems the decades-old mystery may finally be solved.

Called in to excavate the body, forensic scientist Rhona MacLeod uses the advances made in forensic science since Mary’s vanishing to determine what really happened all those years ago . . . and who was responsible.

One key person had been Karen Marshall who was devastated by her best friend’s abduction. Questioned by the police at the time had led to a dead end and the case soon went cold.

Now the news of the discovered body brings the nightmares back. But added to that, memories long-buried by Karen are returning, memories that begin to reveal her role in her friend’s disappearance and perhaps even the identity of the killer . . .

Published by Macmillan on 6th August 2020, The Innocent Dead is available for purchase through the links here.

About Lin Anderson

lin anderson

Lin Anderson is best known as the creator of the forensic scientist Rhona MacLeod series of crime thriller novels, and for her part in founding the annual ‘Bloody Scotland’ crime writing festival.

For more information, follow Lin on Twitter @Lin_Anderson or visit her website. You’ll also find her on Facebook and Instagram.

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Staying in with Helena Halme

It gives me enormous pleasure to stay in with author Helena Halme today. Helena’s books look just my kind of read and although I haven’t been able to fit in a read yet, I’m longing to do so. Consequently, I was delighted when Helena agreed to stay in with me to chat about her latest release.

Staying in with Helena Halme

Welcome to Linda’s Book Bag, Helena. Thank you for agreeing to stay in with me.

It’s lovely to be here. Thank you so much for inviting me along!

Tell me, which of your books have you brought along to share this evening and why have you chosen it?

I am deep into writing a series set on a group of islands in the outer archipelago off the coast of Finland. The Island Daughter, Book 3, came out 17th July, and the Love on the Island series compilation with all the three novels was published 27 August.

So I’d like to offer all the books in the boxset: The Island Affair, An Island Christmas and The Island Daughter to share with you and your readers tonight.

They look fabulous Helena. I love travel and a return to Finland sounds like a brilliant idea. How exciting to have a new box set out. Congratulations. So, tell me, what can we expect from an evening in with Love on the Island Series Books 1-3?

All novels in the series follow Alicia, who returns to the islands where she was raised, after losing her son in a tragic accident. Her marriage to Liam, a British surgeon, breaks down and she embarks on a torrid affair with Patrick, the blonde and blue-eyed husband of a local property magnate’s daughter. We also meet Alicia’s mother, the gutsy Hilda, her world-travelling friend Brit, and other characters living in the small island community. Readers have called this series of three books ‘sensational’ (NetGalley) and ‘a rich story full of twists and turns you can’t see coming’ (GoodReads).

I love the sound of your characters and those reader responses make me even more keen to add the box set Love on the Island Series Books 1-3 to my TBR pile!

What else have you brought along and why have you brought it?

I can offer you a piece of Ålands Pannkaka, a clafoutis type of dessert often enjoyed together with a cup of strong coffee on the islands. Made with semolina and cream, it is just divine, especially served with local plum or cloudberry jam! This rich treat features quite a lot in the books.

If you’re going to bring food like that Helena, I shall be asking you back very soon!

I’m also sharing with you a few images from this magical place, where I’ve spent many, many lazy summer days.

It was these holidays that inspired me to write the stories in the Love on the Island series. I hope you agree that there could not really be a more beautiful setting to spend your time writing or reading about? I could be biased, of course…. 😉

I think you have every right to be biased. What a stunning location. Truly inspirational. You’ve made me want to visit both in person and vicariously through your books. Thank you so much for staying in with me and introducing the new box set for the Love on the Island series Helena. 

Thank you so much for letting me be your guest on your blog!

My pleasure!

Love on the Island

Transport yourself through ‘sensational fiction’ to the fascinating and serenely beautiful Åland Islands between Finland and Sweden!

Love on the Island series by the ‘brilliant author’ Helena Halme is a sweeping saga set on a small group of Nordic islands filled with tourists in the summer and snow and ice in the winter. This boxset combines the three first full-length novels in the ‘must read’ series with Alicia, a journalist raised on the islands, her British surgeon husband, Liam, and a Swedish reporter, Patrick, who makes Alicia’s heart beat a little too fast…

The Island Affair (Book 1)

After her son’s tragic death, journalist Alicia and her husband Liam travel to the Nordic Islands where Alicia was raised. As they struggle to keep their marriage afloat, secrets are revealed which threaten to end their relationship, but at the same time give Alicia hope for the future. Enter tall, blonde Patrick with the most piercing blue eyes Alicia has ever seen. As the summer heats up, can Alicia find a way to embrace life and love once more?

An Island Christmas (Book 2)

It’s time for Alicia to enjoy her first winter back on her beloved Islands with her family. But her estranged husband, Liam, springs an unwelcome and devastating surprise and her ex-lover, Patrick, tempts her with an altogether different kind of future, making Alicia face an impossible choice. With her world crashing around her, can Alicia create the idyllic Island Christmas she’s always dreamt about?

The Island Daughter (Book 3)

Alicia returns home to the islands after a family tragedy, leaving behind a new life in Stockholm with Patrick. But when Mia Eriksson, Patrick’s ex, makes a move to rekindle her relationship with him, Alicia is torn between duty and her own happiness. Alicia’s world is further upended when deeply buried family secrets surface. How can she face the future when everything she believed to be true about her past is a lie?

Join Alicia’s small island community in the captivating new series set on the most picturesque of Scandinavian islands. Once you enter her world, you’ll never want to leave.

The Love on the Island series is available for purchase here.

About Helena Halme

Prize-winning author, former BBC journalist, bookseller and magazine editor, Helena Halme holds an MSc in Marketing and an MA in Creative Writing. Full-time author and self-publishing coach, Helena also acts as Nordic Ambassador for The Alliance of Independent Authors and has published ten Nordic fiction titles and two nonfiction books.
Apart from writing stories set in her native Finland, Helena is addicted to Nordic Noir and dances to Abba songs when nobody’s watching. 

You can find more about Helena and her books on Helena’s website, by finding her on Facebook and by following her on Twitter @helenahalme.

You’ll find all of Helena’s books here.

The Thursday Murder Club by Richard Osman

I’m delighted to participate in the launch celebrations for The Thursday Murder Club by Richard Osman by sharing my review today. My Thanks to Ellie Hudson at Penguin for inviting me to participate.

The Thursday Murder Club will be published tomorrow, 3rd September 2020 by Penguin imprint Viking and is available for purchase through the links here.

The Thursday Murder Club

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In a peaceful retirement village, four unlikely friends meet up once a week to investigate unsolved murders.

But when a brutal killing takes place on their very doorstep, the Thursday Murder Club find themselves in the middle of their first live case.

Elizabeth, Joyce, Ibrahim and Ron might be pushing eighty but they still have a few tricks up their sleeves.

Can our unorthodox but brilliant gang catch the killer before it’s too late?

My Review of The Thursday Murder Club

The retirement village Thursday Murder Club has a new case to solve.

Now, I confess I’m not usually attracted to ‘celebrity’ authors, but I am so glad I made an exception in Richard Osman’s case. The Thursday Murder Club is an absolute gem of a book, written with wit, wry and dry humour as well as outright comedic moments so that few pages passed without me laughing. However, there’s also some lovely insight into the human condition, especially love and loneliness so that I confess I found a tear in my eye on more than one occasion too.

The plot is cleverly constructed so that Richard Osman withholds and reveals just enough detail to tantalise the reader and keep them hooked. Short chapters keep the pace snappy and fast, but also give an episodic approach that would work brilliantly in television. The Thursday Murder Club seems to blend disparate elements of every crime of police series there’s ever been into a coherent, thoroughly satisfying whole that a diverting and fun read.

There’s quite a cast of characters both in the literal and metaphorical sense. Elizabeth is absolutely brilliant in undermining the little old lady stereotype of older women, so that I finished reading The Thursday Murder Club rather wishing I could meet her or that I’ll be like her when I reach her age. Contrasting perfectly with the dynamic, and probably quite overpowering, Elizabeth I found Joyce’s gentler, first person, sections worked extremely well in giving the reader time to pause and restock, whilst adding to the pathos that threads between the humour. Her voice is clear and illustrates just how much those frequently overlooked have to offer. 

In fact, much as I enjoyed the romp of a plot, the smashing humour and the vivid characters, I think what appealed to me most about Richard Osman’s The Thursday Murder Club was the exploration of theme. The author has such a crystal clear insight into human nature and such a witty style that he presents weighty themes of crime and retribution, suicide and murder, relationships and stereotyping in such a way as to challenge reader expectations whilst entertaining them brilliantly. 

I thought The Thursday Murder Club was a cracking read. I hope the team have another case to solve very soon.

About Richard Osman

Richard Osman is an author, producer and television presenter. The Thursday Murder Club is his first novel. He is well known for TV shows including Pointless and Richard Osman’s House of Games. As the creative director of Endemol UK, Richard has worked as an executive producer on numerous shows including Deal Or No Deal and 8 Out of 10 Cats. He is also a regular on panel and game shows such as Have I Got News For You, Would I Lie To You and Taskmaster.

You can follow Richard on Twitter @richardosman and there’s more with these other bloggers:

Staying in with Natasha Randall

When Natasha Randall got in touch to see if I would like to review her debut book, Love Orange, I could see immediately that it would be my kind of read. However, with over 600 new books coming out on 3rd September and my TBR still standing at well over 900 physical books I knew I’d never read Love Orange by the time it was published. I was so intrigued though that I simply had to invite Natasha to stay in with me to tell me more about it.

Staying in with Natasha Randall

Welcome to Linda’s Book Bag, Natasha and thank you for agreeing to stay in with me.

In case readers haven’t guessed yet, tell me, which of your books have you brought along to share this evening and why have you chosen it?

I have brought my debut novel Love Orange with me. It is a very orange book. And there is a trick on the cover. Did you ever see Margaret Atwood’s latest Handmaid’s Tale cover – where the negative space actually depicted something too? Something similar happens with my cover. It’s a strong design, but there’s a reason the title is placed where it is… You have to read it to find out, though.

Oo. Now that is intriguing. I’m so glad I have a copy of Love Orange on my TBR waiting to be read so that I can find out. I have all kinds of theories as I can see a letter, a warning sign, an inverted house or home, a possible love triangle – or two – so it’ll be fascinating to see if any of my initial impressions are right. 

With all that in mind, what can we expect from an evening in with Love Orange?

You can expect to laugh, and then to feel like something a little weird is happening. Online reviewers say it reminds them of Ray Bradbury – but if he was writing about now, instead of some future moment. I have to warn you, the first 100 pages are spread wide. The story is told by four characters so there’s a bit of getting to know each of them. They are all in the same family, and they all see the same things but very differently.

I think that’s true of any family! I have a feeling I’m going to enjoy reading Love Orange.

What else have you brought along and why?

I have brought a basket of oranges for you because they are a gesture of health. My book isn’t about health— it’s about a lonely search for identity, so this is a kind of effort at contributing an antidote. I will also say that Aperol is really delicious with light beer instead of sparkling wine.

I have brought that too for you to try. It’s also orange, so that’s cute – right?

I’ll have to try that as I don’t normally like Aperol!

You’ll hear that Hunger by Florence and the Machine is playing on the radio—I asked for that. That’s a song that tells you that we’re all hungry. And sometimes, the hunger is an ache for something other than food.

I think we all recognise that feeling Natasha!

Jenny Tinkley is here, she’s waiting outside – she’s one of my characters. She’s tired today. We could ask her to come inside, maybe.

We could. You go and call her in and I’ll tell readers all they need about Love Orange. Thanks so much for staying in with me Natasha to chat all about it. I can’t wait to read Love Orange!

Love Orange

An extraordinary debut novel by Natasha Randall, exposing the seam of secrets within an American family, from beneath the plastic surfaces of their new ‘smart’ home. Love Orange charts the gentle absurdities of their lives, and the devastating consequences of casual choices.

While Hank struggles with his lack of professional success, his wife Jenny, feeling stuck and beset by an urge to do good, becomes ensnared in a dangerous correspondence with a prison inmate called John. Letter by letter, John pinches Jenny awake from the “marshmallow numbness” of her life. The children, meanwhile, unwittingly disturb the foundations of their home life with forays into the dark net and strange geological experiments.

Jenny’s bid for freedom takes a sour turn when she becomes the go-between for John and his wife, and develops an unnatural obsession for the orange glue that seals his letters…

Love Orange throws open the blinds of American life, showing a family facing up to the modern age, from the ascendancy of technology, the predicaments of masculinity, the pathologising of children, the epidemic of opioid addiction and the tyranny of the WhatsApp Gods. The first novel by the acclaimed translator is a comic cocktail, an exuberant skewering of contemporary anxieties and prejudices.

Love Orange is published by Quercus imprint Riverrun on 3rd September 2020 and is available for pre-order here.

About Natasha Randall

Natasha Randall is a literary translator whose translations include Notes from an Underground by Dostoyevsky, A Hero of Our Time by Lermontov, and We by Zamyatin. She has edited a volume of Gogol for Riverrun, Quercus. Her articles and reviews have appeared in the TLSLA Review and the NYT. She lives in London with her husband and young children.

You can follow Natasha on Twitter @NatashaRandall and visit her website for more information.