#BlogTour Rodham – Curtis Sittenfeld

‘Awfully opinionated for a girl’ is what they call Hillary as she grows up in her Chicago suburb. Smart, diligent, and a bit plain, that’s the general consensus. Then Hillary goes to college, and her star rises. At Yale Law School, she continues to be a leader— and catches the eye of driven, handsome and charismatic Bill. But when he asks her to marry him, Hillary gives him a firm ‘No’.

The rest, as they say, isn’t history. How might things have turned out for them, for America, for the world itself, if Hillary Rodham had really turned down Bill Clinton?

With her sharp but always compassionate eye, Sittenfeld explores the loneliness, moral ambivalence and iron determination that characterise the quest for high office, as well as the painful compromises demanded of female ambition in a world ruled by men. Uncannily astute and witty in the telling, RODHAM is a brilliant reimagining – an unmissable literary landmark and truly a novel of our times.

Rodham is a truly fascinating book. I must be honest and admit that I am not someone who knows a tremendous amount about the American political system beyond some very broad brushstrokes. My knowledge of Bill and Hillary Clinton is also fairly limited. I remember the great excitement around Bill Clinton’s visit to Belfast back in 1998 when I was at school and of course the Lewinsky scandal. More recently I am aware of the controversies of Hillary’s 2016 US election campaign but most definitely not the finer details. I don’t think it matters how much you do or don’t know about the Clintons before reading Rodham, you could never have heard of them, although that seems unlikely, and would still enjoy reading this book.

Rodham is split into three sections. The first outlines Hillary’s college years and her relationship with the young charming Bill. We see how they meet and make plans for the future, with Hillary changing her life to suit his ambitions. Nonetheless, they seem to be in love until it all falls apart and they split. In part two we meet Hillary as a law professor as thinks about running for senator and in the third we follow her into almost the current day and what might have been.

Although not the primary goal of this book, it is both interesting and frustrating to read about the additional challenges faced by Hillary simply for having the XX arrangement of chromosomes! She is told that she will not be loved for her mind and needs to flirt more rather than cultivate relationships based on interests if she is to be seen as a potential girlfriend. She receives scathing feedback from a student about the feminist element of one of her courses for daring to include aspects of women’s rights within the curriculum. Later when she considers running for senator, when another woman throws her hat in the ring first, doubt is cast as to whether Hillary also running would be in good taste yet men never seem to have these concerns. In some ways she can come across as quite clinical and perhaps cold and this may stem from her upbringing. Her father was stern and comes across as incredibly critical, demanding and in some ways almost unloving.

I’ve really enjoyed reading Rodham – although a blend of fact and fiction, it has given me a greater insight into the runnings of the American political system and how a lot of success can come from hard work but without having the right face and connections, some challenges can be insurmountable. I think Curtis has a wonderful style of writing and I am very keen to read American Wife having now read Rodham.

About Curtis Sittenfeld:

In addition to Rodham, Curtis Sittenfeld is the author of the Sunday Times bestseller American Wife, in which she painted a picture of an ordinary American girl – a thinly-disguised Laura Bush – who found herself married to a President. It was longlisted for the Orange Prize, as was her debut novel Prep.

Her other books are Man of My DreamsSisterland (a Richard & Judy Book Club pick), Eligible, and the acclaimed short story collection You Think It, I’ll Say It.
Her books are translated into 30 languages.

She lives with her family in the American Mid-West.

Thank you to Curtis, Doubleday and Random Things Tours for inviting me on this blog tour. And thank you also for the gorgeous tote bag I received for taking part.

#BlogTour The Big Chill – Doug Johnstone

Haunted by their past, the Skelf women are hoping for a quieter life. But running both a funeral directors’ and a private investigation business means trouble is never far away, and when a car crashes into the open grave at a funeral Dorothy is conducting, she can’t help looking into the dead driver’s shadowy life.

While Dorothy uncovers a dark truth at the heart
of Edinburgh society, her daughter Jenny and granddaughter Hannah have their own struggles. Jenny’s ex-husband Craig is making plans that could shatter
the Skelf women’s lives, and the increasingly obsessive Hannah has formed a friendship with an elderly professor that is fast turning deadly.

But something even more sinister emerges when
a drumming student of Dorothy’s disappears, and suspicion falls on her parents. The Skelf women find themselves immersed in an unbearable darkness – but could the real threat be to themselves?

The Big Chill is the follow up to A Dark Matter which introduced us to the three generations of women from the Skelf family: Dorothy, Jenny and Hannah. If you have not already done so, I strongly recommend getting a copy of A Dark Matter as it is both funny and gripping and tells a wonderful story of how the Skelf ladies move forward following the death of Jim, a much loved husband, father and grandfather. The Skelfs run a funeral and private investigation business and find themselves mixed up in an assortment of local mysteries and problems. The Big Chill continues on approximately six months after A Dark Matter and references a lot of the plot lines. The Skelfs are an excellent family. Dorothy is originally from California but has lived in Scotland for most of her life. She drums to relax and has a tendency to ‘adopt’ stray people and animals. Jenny, her daughter, moved back home following her father’s death and is now helping run the family businesses. She was previously married to Craig but he left her and their daughter Hannah for a younger woman and has started a new life and family. Hannah is at university and is in a relationship with Indy who started working for the Skelfs after the death of her parents.

I read both books one after the next and am now craving another instalment! The setting for the book really appealed to me and I really liked the mix of investigating alongside the funeral side of the business. The three Skelfs are so different but in a way that felt relatable and realistic. None are perfect but they are a family who support each other. Dorothy is most definitely someone I would love to know, she is kind, level-headed, practical and whilst protective of her family, allows them to make their mistakes rather than stifling them. Jenny is a master of self destruction in many ways but tries to do the best she can even in challenging circumstances. Hannah is clever and impulsive and determined that justice should prevail even if that means taking matters into her own hands. Each chapter is narrated by a different character so we get to see things from each of their perspectives and this builds a well rounded story. The chapters are fairly short and this makes the story move along quite quickly. Each Skelf is involved in a different investigation but they all work together to help each other. This worked really well for me as I enjoyed the different subplots and stories.

I really recommend reading both Skelf books. They are a glorious mixture of black humour, drama and mystery with strong female leads and a beautiful Scottish setting. I really hope we will be reading more about them soon. Doug has also written quite a few other books so I shall be looking into these! Check him out via the Orenda page http://www.orendabooks.co.uk, his website http://www.dougjohnstone.com or his own twitter @doug_johnstone

Thank you to Doug, Orenda and Random Things Tours for inviting me on the blog tour.

#BlogTour The Girl from Widow Hills – Megan Miranda

Everyone knows the story of the girl from Widow Hills.

When Arden Maynor was six years old, she was swept away in terrifying storm and went missing for days. Against all odds, she was found alive, clinging to a storm drain. A living miracle. Arden’s mother wrote a book, and fame followed. But so did fans, creeps and stalkers. It was all too much, and as soon as she was old enough, Arden changed her name and left Widow Hills behind.

Now, a young woman living hundreds of miles away, Arden is known as Olivia. With the twentieth anniversary of her rescue looming, media interest in the girl who survived is increasing. Where is she now? The stress brings back the night terrors of Olivia’s youth. Often, she finds herself out of bed in the middle of the night, sometimes outside her home, even streets away. Then one evening she jolts awake in her yard, with the corpse of a man at her feet.
The girl from Widow Hills is about to become the centre of the story, once again.

The Girl from Widow Hills is the fourth book by Megan Miranda and I thoroughly enjoyed it! Aged six, Arden is swept away in a storm but miraculously is found alive after several days of searching. There is not always a happy ending when children go missing so her survival is a huge boost for the community who helped hunt for her and the newspapers continue to write about her story years after the events. However, as she grows up, some of those who contributed to her rescue feel a sense of entitlement and Arden finds that her life is not really her own, she is forever ‘the girl from Widow Hills.’ The only option left to her is to move away, change her name and start from scratch. All is going well until Olivia finds a dead body in her yard and suddenly her new life seems to be threatened.

I won’t give away much more about the story because I always feel with these sorts of books that going in mostly ‘blind’ is better and more enjoyable. What I will say is that I liked the writing style of The Girl from Widow Hills. In between chapters we got snippets and extracts from newspaper articles and interviews from the time of Arden’s disappearance and subsequent rescue. This was a really good way of giving the reader details about the backstory without having lots of longer flashbacks and kept things moving nicely. One of the things I found interesting about the story was that I have very rarely considered what happens to those who are found against the odds. It’s always heartening to hear of a successful find of a lost child or indeed any missing person but then things move on and they gradually fall from the public eye. I hadn’t really considered that there would be people out there who felt that they were owed something. I liked the setting, Central Valley, ‘halfway from one place to the next, but not close enough to either extreme to commute.’ After Olivia stumbles over the dead body, the tension really starts building and I felt my heart racing during certain scenes. This was a delightfully creepy read which kept me interested and guessing all the way through. My reading was perfectly timed as we had quite the gale whipping past the window!

This is a great read – atmospheric and chilling with plenty to keep you wondering and second guessing. I look forward to reading more from Megan and will be investigating her previous books.

Thank you to Miranda, Corvus Books and Random Things Tours for my gifted copy and inviting me to join this tour.

#BlogTour Spirited – Julie Cohen

Three women carry unspeakable truths in their heart. At what cost will they find their freedom?

In Victorian England, Viola is an amateur photographer struggling with the grief of her father’s death and the sterile atmosphere of her marriage to her childhood friend, Jonah. When she discovers a talent for capturing ghostly images on camera, Viola comes to the attention of a spirit medium, and a powerful attraction between the two women is sparked… As each woman puts herself at risk, secrets are brought to light that will change their lives forever.

Driven by passionate, courageous female characters Cohen explores themes of sexuality, gender and prejudice, firmly establishing her as one of our best storytellers.

I am delighted to help kick off the #BlogTour for Julie Cohen’s latest book – Spirited – on publication day. I adored Louis and Louise last year and was very pleased when I found out Julie had a new book on the way; even more so when I was invited to join the #BlogTour. Spirited is a historical novel and is set in the mid 1800s. In the first chapter we meet Viola and Jonah on their wedding day. Unfortunately, what should be one of the happiest days of their lives is saddened by the recent death of Viola’s father. Jonah and Viola have been friends for years and their union has been long awaited. Viola lost her mother at an early age and has no other family to care for her so, despite it not being idea timing, the wedding goes ahead as planned. Moving to Dorset should be a fresh start for them as newly weds but Viola is lonely and Jonah is unsettled and their relationship finds itself on shaky ground. When a renowned spirit medium visits the area, she finds her way into both their lives in somewhat unexpected but wonderful ways.

I tend to read a lot of fiction set in more recent years so taking a step back into 1858 was a bit of a change for me but a very welcome one. The start of Spirited is gentle, giving the reader a chance to picture the scene and get to know some of the main characters. I really appreciated the wealth of female characters taking a central role rather than just being wives and servants in stories revolving around men. There was a lot to like about each of the lead characters but particularly Viola and Henriette – they complemented each other nicely and watching their friendship form and grow was lovely. Initially it seems that Henrietta is the more interesting and exciting but as the story progresses Viola really comes into her own. Early on we discover that Joshua has returned from India as a hero, having saved a life, but the details surrounding this are not immediately revealed. Initially I wasn’t so keen on him but the more I read the more I found myself warming towards him and feeling sympathetic to his struggles. Having spent some time volunteering in India I very much enjoyed reading the little snippets seen through Jonah’s eyes and building up a picture about the events

Spirited left me feeling really optimistic and with a warm glow. There are some wonderful themes running through the story: friendship, love, faith and loss. The writing is lovely, engaging and very descriptive. There is a beautiful blend between the highs and the lows experienced by the characters so that it is never dull. I had been worried that I wouldn’t be able to get into a book set so far back but I really loved it and found it to be a refreshing change from my usual choices. Spirited has made me think and I find myself reflecting on some of my own choices. I highly recommend getting a copy and getting stuck in, you will not be disappointed!

I believe there are signed copies of Spirited available from Independent bookshops such as Bert’s Books so worth having a look! Thank you to Julie, Orien and Anne for inviting me to take part on this tour!

About Julie:

Julie Cohen grew up in the western mountains of Maine. Her house was just up the hill from the library and she spent many hours walking back and forth, her nose in a book. She studied English Literature at Brown University and Cambridge University and is a popular speaker and teacher of creative writing, including classes for the Guardian and Literature Wales. Her books have been translated into fifteen languages and have sold over a million copies; DEAR THING and TOGETHER were Richard and Judy Book Club picks. Her most recent novel is the critically acclaimed LOUIS & LOUISE. Julie lives in Berkshire with her husband, son and a terrier of dubious origin.

You can find out more about Julie at http://www.julie-cohen.com or follow her Twitter@julie_cohen

#BlogTour Sea Wife – Amity Gaige

When Michael informs his wife Juliet that he is leaving his job and buying a sailboat, she is taken aback. And when he proposes they and their two young children take a year long voyage, she is deeply apprehensive. But Michael is persuasive, and eventually she agrees to his plan. The family set off for Panama, where their sailboats awaits them – a boat that Michael has named the Juliet.

Initially, the experience is transformative: their marriage is given a gust of energy, and each of them is affected by the beauty and wildness of the sea. But slowly, the voyage begins to unravel. Juliet’s account of the life-changing events at sea is spliced with Michael’s captain’s log, which provides a riveting, slow-motion narration of those same inexorable events

Sea Wife is a gripping novel about marriage, family and love in a time of unprecedented turmoil. It is unforgettable in its power and astonishingly perceptive in its portrayal of optimism, disillusionment and survival .

When I came across the blurb for Sea Wife I was fascinated. As someone who has never sailed more than the odd half day excursion on holiday, the idea of spending a year at sea is both thrilling and terrifying. Having spent the last few months in lockdown with no prospects of going anywhere exotic or sailing even a simple rowing boat, the idea of taking to the water with no ties sounds blissful! Admittedly, adding two small children into the mix may be somewhat more challenging but still a break from the usual grind of working life.

Juliet, Michael and their two children, Sybil (7) and George (2), take to the sea in ‘Juliet’ a forty-four foot sailboat. Initially Juliet is not so keen, she has no seafaring experience and Michael hasn’t sailed in years! But Michael is persuasive and so they embark on a journey and an adventure which will changes their lives.

Sea Wife is written from the perspective of Juliet looking back over their journey, with frequent extracts from Michaels captains log interspersed, sometimes with long entries; others just single lines. In some ways they both complement and contrast one another. Juliet is somewhat reserved and cautions whilst Michael is less risk averse and much more adventurous. They have differing outlooks and plans for their lives and their marriage is under threat. All relationships have their ups and downs and with two small children, Michael and Juliet’s in no different. Life at sea is not easy and as we read we see how their relationship changes and develops with new challenges and strains pulling at them.

On the surface, Sea Wife is a book about taking life by the scruff of the neck, living in the moment and doing something different. However, there is so much more to it and this makes it such a compelling and interesting read. It is an exploration of relationships, parenthood, mental health struggles, personal growth and overcoming adversity and tragedy. It is beautifully written and will appeal widely.

Thank you to Fleet, Amity and Grace for my copy of Sea Wife and for organising this blog tour.

#BlogTour The Silent Wife – Karin Slaughter

Atlanta, Georgia. Present day. A young woman is brutally attacked and left for dead. The police investigate but the trail goes cold. Until a chance assignment takes GBI investigator Will Trent to the state penitentiary, and to a prisoner who says he recognises the MO. The attack looks identical to the one he was accused of eight years earlier. The prisoner’s always insisted that he was innocent, and now he’s sure he has proof. The killer is still out there. 
As Will digs into both crimes it becomes clear that he must solve the original case in order to reach the truth. Yet nearly a decade has passed—time for memories to fade, witnesses to vanish, evidence to disappear. And now he needs medical examiner Sara Linton to help him hunt down a ruthless murderer. But when the past and present collide, everything Will values is at stake.

Karin Slaughter is amazing – The Silent Wife is her 20th novel and the 10th in the Will Trent series! It is also a crossover book with characters from Grant County joining Will and team. I was really lucky to be invited to be part of a Zoom chat with Karin and get a chance to hear how she writes and her relationship with the characters she has created and developed over the years. You clearly don’t get to be a worldwide bestselling author without a passion for writing, but hearing her talk about Sara and Will in particular was wonderful. They are more than just words on a page, they are people with backgrounds, secrets, hopes and dreams. It’s lovely to hear someone to still be excited by their work after so many years and it sounds as though there are still plenty of fresh ideas to come!

The Silent Wife starts with a chilling murder of a young student who finds herself in the wrong place at the wrong time after an argument with her flatmate. We then move Phillips State Prison where there has been a murder following a prison riot. During the investigation a prisoner comes forward claiming he has information which could clear his own name and help the police track down a serial killer. Initially sceptical, Will, Faith and team begin to look a bit closer at previous deaths around the state and fresh information begins to come to light. But how do you catch a criminal who has been so cunning and successful for almost a decade? And how do you do this without attracting unwanted attention and driving them away?

I really enjoy Karin’s writing style. The storyline is meaty and doesn’t shy away from gruesome and sometimes downright savage details. Nothing is rushed but yet the story moves along quickly. The mix of present day investigation with flashbacks to the first case worked really well for me. I love how we get to see more than just the details of investigation. Many of the central characters have issues going on in the background and reading about these alongside their work made them feel much more relatable and interesting. They are all flawed in one way or another (aren’t we all?) and seeing how they struggle, make choices and work through their issues makes the book so much more enjoyable than just reading about an investigation.

The Silent Wife will suck you in and keep you hooked right from the start. If you aren’t familiar with the characters that will absolutely not stop you enjoying this book. However it may cause you to accidentally on purpose order Karin’s previous books, pop a ‘do not disturb’ sign on your door and lose yourself in Will Trent and Grant County!

Thank you very much to HarperCollins and Karin for giving me a copy to review, to Liz for organising the chat with Karin and to Anne for organising this tour.

About Karin:

Karin Slaughter is one of the world’s most popular and acclaimed storytellers. Published in 120 countries with more than 35 million copies sold across the globe, her 19 novels include the Grant County and Will Trent books, as well as the Edgar-nominated Cop Town and the instant Sunday Times bestselling novels Pretty GirlsThe Good Daughter, and Pieces of Her

The Good Daughter and Cop Town are in development for film and television and Pieces of Her is soon to be an eight-part Netflix adaptation, directed by Lesli Linka Glatter (Mad Men), and produced by Charlotte Stoudt (Homeland) and Bruna Papandrea (Big Little Lies).

Karin is the founder of the Save the Libraries project- a non-profit organisation established to support libraries and library programming.  

She lives in Atlanta, Georgia. 

#BlogTour My Mummy Is A Monster – Written by Natalie Reeves Billing, Illustrated by Lisa Williams

The Monstrous Me Collection is a fun, multi-layered reading experience for all the family.In this first book, ‘My Mummy is a Monster’, an inquisitive little girl is convinced her mum is a monster. But, is she really? When we look through Mummy’s eyes, we see a very different story.

I was very lucky to be sent a copy of this gorgeous book from Natalie, and my daughter and I have had lots of fun reading it together. My Mummy is a Monster lets us see the same day twice: once from the perspective of a little girl, then again through her mummy’s eyes. We get to see many of the flash points of a typical day which I’m sure many parents will be able to relate to: hair brushing, teeth cleaning and bath time amongst others! Through the child’s eyes mummy seems to do lots of cruel and unkind things yet when mummy tells the story we can see how hard she tries but how her children can make simple tasks difficult and take a long time. But at the end of the day, both mummy and daughter wonder if the other could really be a monster as they snuggle together at bedtime.

I love the idea of this series and think it is a really good way to introduce the idea that the same activity can be seen in many ways by different people. The illustrations are really bright and vibrant and complement the text perfectly. There’s also some hidden Monstrometers across the pages and these are great fun to look for whilst reading. Books like these are perfect for current times when everyone’s patience might be wearing a little thin after so much time together and the change to normal activities and daily life. We’ve certainly enjoyed it in our house!

For more books, free downloadable activities and information about Natalie and Lisa and their projects have a look at http://www.lollipoplodge.com

#BlogTour Verbal – Peter Murphy

A good police force is one that catches more crooks than it employs’ – Sir Robert Mark
A clever, accomplished Cambridge graduate with a good job and an attentive lover, Imogen Lester seems to have the world at her feet. But when her parents are murdered abroad while working for the Diplomatic Service, she is suddenly thrown headlong into a murky world of espionage and organised crime.
When she is charged with drug trafficking, even Ben Schroeder’s skills may not be enough to save her – unless a shadowy figure from Ben’s past can survive long enough to unmask a web of graft and corruption…

Verbal is the first book by Peter Murphy that I have read and I was definitely not disappointed! Set in the 1980s, Verbal takes us on a journey into the murky underworld of espionage behind the Iron Curtain, drug trafficking and the complexities of breaking the supply chains. We begin by learning of the violent deaths of Imogen’s parents whilst they were abroad yet in a part of town which wouldn’t normally attract tourists. Imogen and her lover Julia, a senior partner at a prestigious law firm, visit the scene of the crime to look for answers and gather information. Unfortunately for Imogen, this leads to her becoming mixed up in a criminal investigation shortly after her return. There are several separate storylines which are cleverly mixed throughout the book. I certainly wasn’t fully aware of what the term ‘verballing’ referred to unit I read this and it made me feel very uncomfortable thinking of how this may have led to a number of unjust prosecutions. I learned a great deal about the British legal system and more so than ever do I want to read my copy of The Secret Barrister to continue learning!

A fair proportion of Verbal takes place during Imogen’s trial and it is genuinely gripping to read. Whilst Imogen isn’t necessarily the most exciting of characters, she certainly comes into her own when required! We dip back and forth into other storylines and this cranks up the tension. I enjoyed reading about the ‘in house’ politics of the law firm in between examination of witnesses. Verbal is the sixth book in the Ben Schroder series and whilst it can definitely be enjoyed as a stand alone book, by the end I was keen to go back and catch up on his previous exploits and find out more behind some of the tension between him and a particular colleague! He’s an interesting character and comes across as someone you would want as an ally but should be cautious of making an enemy of. Julia is wonderful, so refreshing to read of a strong and successful female at a time when perhaps things might be a little tough if you weren’t in an old boys club.

Verbal is a cracking read for crime lovers and will particularly appeal to those who enjoy books set in the not too distant past where investigations and convictions took place by different means. There’s plenty to keep you glued to your book and put off those pesky day to day tasks which try and drag you away from reading!

Thank you to Peter, No Exit Press and Random Things Tours for inviting me on this #BlogTour.

#BlogTour The Last Wife – Karen Hamilton

Nina, in the final days of her illness, asks her best friend Marie to look after her family when she’s gone. And Marie does everything she can to step into Nina’s shoes after her friend’s tragic death. She tries to do the best by Nina, tries to be there for Nina’s young children, tries to support Nina’s grieving husband, tries to keep their lives on track despite their terrible loss.
But when Marie discovers a dark secret that Nina had kept concealed, she is forced to confront the past.
Tense, heart-breaking and utterly gripping, The Last Wife explores the real nature of love and friendship – and just how fragile every relationship can be in the face of the secrets we hide from each other.

I read The Perfect Girlfriend by Karen Hamilton last year and it has become one of my go to books to give to friends who fancy a twisty psychological thriller. Naturally I was delighted when I found out she was writing another book and thriller to be invited to read as part of the #BlogTour. The Last Wife follows Marie in the months following the death of her best friend Nina. The girls had been friends since childhood and before she died, Nina asked Marie to keep three promises. Marie is determined that she will do this no matter what it takes. Whilst this sounds lovely on the surface, the more we read the more we see that Marie might not quite be keeping these in the way Nina intended. Relatives and friends suggest that their friendship might not have been entirely equal or healthy and not everyone is pleased to see Marie’s continued involvement in the lives of Stuart (Nina’s widow) or his children. As events from the past begin to surface, it seems that perhaps some versions of events have been edited and concealed, but for how much longer? Karen has set a perfect scene for another chilling and clever read.

Marie is a difficult character; she has plenty of flaws and for much of the book was thoroughly unlikeable to me. And yet I really wanted to follow her story and find out what had gone on in her and Nina’s past. There are parts of the book which are quite uncomfortable to read because of her actions. She is devious and scheming and her choices have herself firmly at the centre. Every so often I felt like I might be starting to feel sorry for her but it was often transient. I liked the contrast with Nina who appeared to be much more together and more grown up than Marie. No friendship is ever truly equal but Marie and Nina’s seemed to be particularly skewed yet continued through the years. The Last Wife is not a particularly fast paced read but gradually builds tension and a sense of unease with a feeling of ‘I shouldn’t look but yet I’m going to.’ I was kept guessing as I read but still felt satisfied by the conclusion.

Thank you to Karen, Wildfire and Anne for inviting me on this tour and for my copy of The Last Wife.

To hear more from Karen about books that have special importance to her, check out the Podcast ‘Shelf Life’ from the 25th of June where she chats to ‘Bert’ from BertsBooks.co.uk (@BertsBooks) or find her on Twitter @KJHAuthor

#BlogTour Blood Red City – Rod Reynolds

A witness with no victim. A crime with no crime scene…

When crusading journalist Lydia Wright is sent a video of an apparent murder on a London train, she thinks she’s found the story to revive her career. But she can’t find a victim, much less the killers, and the only witness has disappeared. Wary she’s fallen for fake news, she begins to doubt her instincts – until a sinister call suggests that she’s not the only one interested in the crime.

Michael Stringer deals in information – and doesn’t care which side of the law he finds himself on. But the murder on the train has left him exposed, and now he’ll stop at nothing to discover what Lydia knows.

When their paths collide, Lydia finds the story leads through a nightmare world, where money, power and politics intersect … and information is the only thing more dangerous than a bullet.

A nerve-shattering and brutally realistic thriller, Blood Red City bursts with energy and grit from the opening page, twisting and feinting to a superb, unexpected ending that will leave you breathless.

Blood Red City is Rod Reynolds latest book and is absolutely gripping. Set in modern day London, we begin by meeting Lydia, a journalist for the online entertainment section of The Examiner. Previously seen as a rising star and serious journalist, she now finds herself working a lot of late shifts writing about celebrity culture after an apparent misstep on a previous story. On her way into work she receives a video message with disturbing content. A man appears to have been murdered on the tube in daylight yet no crime has been reported and no one seems to be missing. This could be just the story she needs to claw back her place on important stories, if only she can uncover what has happened. Early on we also meet Michael Stringer, a ‘fixer,’ who has an unsavoury interest in the subject of the video and those who have seen it.

As the plot unfolds chapter by chapter it soon becomes apparent that there is much more to this story than initially meets the eye. There are many aspects which have an uncomfortably realistic element – power, money, violence then throw in some not quite above board political ambition and property dealings and we have a smouldering yet pacy read which builds tension and keeps the reader hooked.

Rod lives in London and this comes across in his writing with his descriptions and scene setting. I felt that most of the key characters were well rounded and we got sufficient glimpses into their lives to make us interested in them as people and therefore care about what they were doing. I admired Lydia’s tenacity and guts. It would be all too easy to give up, move on and find an easier route back into ‘proper’ journalism. I thoroughly enjoyed reading Blood Red City and hope that Lydia might feature in future books!

Thanks to Rod, Orenda and Anne for inviting me onto this tour! Find out more about Rod @Rod_WR