Author Archives: thelastword1962
Dead Lands by Lloyd Otis
There is something about a 1970’s novel that I know will capture my imagination. So it was a great pleasure to be asked to take part in the Blog Tour for the debut novel Dead Lands by Lloyd Otis. A thrilling crime novel with a 1970’s London skyline.
This is a gritty fast paced crime thriller from a new writer with whom I hope to hear more from in the future. After a woman body is found the race in on to catch the killer and so DI Breck and DS Kearns are brought in to get the killer off the streets before he strikes again. Alexander Troy is picked up and but Troy has other ideas after his arrest. The opening is violent and leans towards brutal but this is what makes this crime novel work. The scene is set for a violent thriller.
Going back to the 1970’s meant going back to the old ways of police work and that meant banging on doors and lots of foot slogging to find avenues of enquiries. How times have changed! Credit to Otis for creating such a great pair in Breck and Kearns and how they each go about their detective work. Despite their own issues.
The London skyline of 1977 is very different and this really brings home how times have changed in methods of policing. The dreadful ‘Racial Profiling’ that took place made areas of London tense. So here in Dead Lands the author has succeeded in bringing the setting and historical aspect of crime and policing really jump off the page at you. If you got in the way, then the chances are you are going to get hurt or worse. You tend to forget just what the 1970’s where really like. Here it all is here in Dead Lands. Now the body count is rising and Breck and Kearns must get in there and get to grips with what is happening and fast and just who really is Alexander Troy?
At times harrowing and gritty but also complex this is terrific first crime novel that presses all the right buttons and delivers. Just think of the 1970’s and it is here. From the police to the streets and everything in-between. Nothing is left out. Yet again Urbane Publications have found another fantastic writer and a gritty pulsating debut. If you enjoy a thriller without the modern technology, then pick up a copy of Dead Lands and head back to the late 1970’s.
Thank you to Matthew at Urbane Publications for the advanced review copy of Dead Lands.
Dead Lands by Lloyd Otis is published by Urbane Publications was published on 12th October 2017 and is now available through Waterstones, Amazon and all good bookshops.
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The Man Who Died by Antti Tuomainen
Being a big lover of Scandi Noir novels and having read Antti Tuomainen’s The Mine earlier last year I always knew I was going to love The Man Who Died which is I have to say a thrilling read from beginning to end and a hero that you will cheer on all the way with plenty of twists in the storyline that will have you glued to every page.
One of the great aspects of The Man Who Died is that we get to see the black humour that lies within Tuomainen the writer. And this book had me smiling all the way through. Antti Tuomainen is a real class act when it comes to writing Scandi Noir novels and add in life and death with so much black humour that makes this book even so much incredible. Inventive and very readable with great characters.
Jaakko Kaunismaa is a successful businessman he is at the prime of his life at just 37 years of age. But something is not right and now his doctor has just given him the news that is dying. Actually to be more precise he is being slowly murdered someone wants him dead and he is being slowly poisoned by, the cause is by prolonged exposure to toxins. His condition is in an advanced state with every organ now affected.
Jaakko decides that he must find out who is slowly killing him before it is too late add to this his business is being threatened by a rival business. What follows is a rollercoaster of a read with some bizarre twists and turns for good measure. Time is not exactly on Jaakko’s side as he goes about finding his killer. Despite his imminent demise his humour is just what makes this book even more incredible.
The emotions that our hero goes through from one moment to the next are all exposed to the reader. Despite the thriller aspect of The Man Who Died, this is a novel about life and living for every moment and also love. Jaakko is a wonderful character and one I just loved from page one. It is hard not to like him. You are cheering him on through every page.
With Antti Tuomainen giving the reader to false moments along the way he really is such a great writer, he gives the reader so much. This may be a little different from some of the other Scandi Noir out there but Tuomainen has delivered a real masterpiece of writing. Not a book to let pass you by. I must congratulate David Hackston for his excellent work in translating The Man Who Died. HIGHLY RECOMMENDED
Thank you to Karen Sullivan for the advanced review copy of The Man Who Died and also to Anne Cater for kindly arranging the Blog Tour.
The Man Who Died by Antti Tuomainen is published by Orenda Books and was published on 10th October 2017 and is available through Waterstones, Amazon and all good bookshops.
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Snare by Lilja Sigurdardottir
How much do I really enjoy a really good Icelandic crime novel and here is one that I read in one sitting during one sleepless night and loved it. Snare by Lilja Sigurdardottir is the first in a series of Reykjavik Noir Trilogy. This is an exciting new name in crime writing and one I believe we will be hearing a lot more from.
Sleepy Iceland you say? Well I don’t think so. After reading a number of crime novels set on Iceland this really is becoming a hotbed for major crime writing at its very best and in Snare this novel deals with drugs and drug smuggling. There is a lot of tension in this fast moving novel that erupts like an Icelandic Volcano.
We find Sonia who is a single mum and has just gone through a turbulent divorce and all the financial costs that go with it. At the heart of this story is that Sonia is devoted to her son yet is struggling so she resorts to the criminal world of smuggling drugs in and out of Iceland. While at the other end of the spectrum is Bragi who works in Customs based at the airport and is determined to stop the drug smuggling that he knows is going on. This is a novel that has everything you would want from a thriller. When you add into the plot the financial crime and the violence that comes with the drug smuggling trade then you know what is coming.
Buried within the storyline is a story of a single mum who is desperate to bring up her son at the same time Sonia embarks on a relationship with another woman so add relationships in this and it becomes quite a potent story being told here and one that explodes. I warn you now. This is one book you will not put down. Just you try!
This is a dangerous game being played out by the lead characters and when you start to deceive and start playing dirty then. Sonia is one hell of a character that has been created by Sigurdardottir one very determined woman who is trying never to be caught. Reading Snare is like watching a great film unfold in your mind, so brilliantly thought out and planned. There is risk on every page and DANGER lurks around every corner and screamed out at me. The writing is just superb and great credit again must go to Quentin Bates for the translation.
If you are looking for a stunning crime novel that delivers on many levels, then Snare is a five star read. HIGHLY RECOMMENDED.
Thank you to Karen Sullivan for the advanced review copy of Snare.
Snare by Lilja Sigurdardottir is published by Orenda Books and was published on 1st October 2017 and is now available through Waterstones, Amazon and all good bookshops.
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I Am I Am I Am by Maggie O’Farrell
If life teaches us one thing it is that each day is precious and that we need to live each day and grab hold of life and never let, go. The Costa Awarding writer Maggie O’Farrell has released a memoir like no other. In I Am I Am I Am she talks openly about the 17 near death experiences that she has gone through. It is a frank and an astonishingly beautiful written memoir.
Each chapter is named after a part of the body so the book starts with the Neck and moves onto Lungs, Spine, Legs, Pelvis Abdomen etc. The opening chapter is shocking for Maggie when she was just 18 years-old. While she was in between shifts at a job while she was studying she takes a walk. She passes a man while she walks up to a tarn. She thinks nothing of it but then he is there when she is heading back down. Now she is concerned. He was clearly waiting for her. What happens next is nothing short of frightening. She basically escaped with her life. I will not reveal anymore here but this is a life changing moment for Maggie O’Farrell. Each of the chapters not necessarily in order more a skip back and forth through her life and dramatic medical dramas that she deals with the incredible resolve of a woman a writer is not going to be bowed and beaten by any of the threats to her life. There is one chapter were she is on a flight when the flight to Hong Kong suddenly is out of control and there is panic among the passengers the fear is palpable as the aircraft plummets. Then there is the direct threat to her life while in Chile when a would be mugger holds a machete to her throat. Anyone of these threats to your life could and would challenge anyone.
Life is precious and threats to our lives can happen at any time with little or no warning. One chapter that hits O’Farrell hardest is the life-threatening problems that face her daughter and continue to do so daily. I Am I Am I Am is the closest you will get to a love letter to that one thing we hold dear and that is life. It struck me that with everything that Maggie O’Farrell has come through it has made her stronger and more determined to live life and to help her cope with the worries and concerns for her daughter. I have learned through experience that we are not alone and there are those we can turn to for support someone to listen to us in times of need. Deep inside us is that inner strength and resilience that we call upon when our lives are being rocked by threats.
I Am I Am I Am being nothing short of a literary gem. A powerful heartbeat to life and a lesson to cherish every moment and each other. I speak with experience of near death challenges which is why I was drawn to reading memoir. How many times have we thought what If I done something differently? Life is just a fraction of a second away from uncertainty. I have learnt over recent years to greet each day and live for every moment.
This is a book that will touch your soul, written by a writer at the top of her game and she tells it with passion for life. Never one to dwell but to live and to love. Very much a life-affirming book. HIGHLY RECOMMENDED.
I Am I Am I Am by Maggie O’Farrell is published Tinder Press and was published and is available through Waterstones, Amazon and all good bookshops.
Lillian Boxfish Takes a Walk by Kathleen Rooney
It is New Year’s Eve in 1984 and 85- year-old Lillian is heading out to a party to see out the old year and see in the new one. Why take a cab when you can walk and this is indeed what Lillian does and walks around the whole of Manhattan. This is the story based on the life of Margaret Fishback who took 1930’s New York by storm a city she loves. Lillian Boxfish Takes a Walk is a delightful and charming book written by Kathleen Rooney and is packed full with memories of a remarkable woman and a bygone era.
In her day Lillian was the highest paid advertising woman in the world a real force to be reckoned with. She moved to New York in 1926 when she just about old enough to look for a job. After a series of rejections Lillian was offered a job at R.H. Macy’s were she was to write promotions to advertise the great department store and all this on her own with no help. The advertising rhymes really catch on and then these end up being publishes.
During this story that takes place over just one evening Lillian recounts her life story and also the love of her life Max, for whom she falls head over heels. He is everything she dreamed of. They marry and she then has to leave her role when she is expecting their son. Lillian recounts the break-up of their marriage and a change in the life she had Lillian spells out how this affected her with some painful memories that are recalled.
Lillian may be in her eighties but she is still bright as a button and smart with it. She walks through Manhattan a city that she has loved since she arrived searching for a dream job. She passes sights and recalls memories from the past she befriends passers-by and people from all walks of life on that New Year’s Eve, bar tenders and even criminals. This is her city and Lillian is holding court.
A love letter to the city that never sleeps and the changing face of New York from the 1930’s to the mid 1980’s from the heady days of Jazz to the colourful and troubling 80’s. A wonderful and charming read and one that made me smile at the wit and charm of a wonderful and colourful character it is just as if both Lillian and New York have both grown old together. HIGHLY RECOMMENDED.
Lillian Boxfish Takes a Walk by Kathleen Rooney is published Daunt Books and was published on 29th June 2017 and is available through Daunt Books, Waterstones, Amazon and all good bookshops.
Black Dahlia, Red Rose by Piu Eatwell
It is January 15th 1947 and in a park in Los Angeles the shocking discovery of the dismembered body of a dark woman is discovered. She was to become known as The Black Dahlia a notorious murder and the investigation that followed would cost the state millions of dollars. In Black Dahlia, Red Rose author Piu Eatwell tries to uncover what really happened and who killed Elizabeth Short.
Over the years there have been many investigations into the Black Dahlia case, but Piu Eatwell uses her past experience as a lawyer and delves into both FBI and LAPD archives to re-examine the case and the police investigation that followed. A tale of half-truths and corrupt officials. Black Dahlia, Red Rose reads from the start like a crime thriller never mind an investigation and this is great credit to Piu Eatwell author of The Dead Duke, his secret wife and the missing Corpse. The fact that this case dates back to 1947 the difficulties of trying to untangle all the documents and sift through the countless police reports not to mention the press who took a great interest in this case are always going to be difficult. Many suspects were interviewed over the murder of Elizabeth Short but no-one was ever charged for the murder of the 22-year-old woman. So the question is where mistakes made in the investigation or was that leads on the case not taken up and followed, then of course there was suspicions of corruption within the force.
There was of course intense speculation from the press as to Elizabeth Short’s lifestyle, was she a dreamer that fell into the Hollywood dream and wanted fame on the silver screen or was she a crazy man hunter. The press and the Hollywood followers came up with many explanations to the life of The Black Dahlia. Many who ended up on the road to Hollywood came off the rails, but looking at her story it evident that Elizabeth Short was a vulnerable young woman living from one day to the next from one cheap hotel to another and thus men came and men went. It is sad to say that it was just a matter of time before she fell in with the wrong type. The underworld that was then in that part of the world is dark and murky and was to be avoided. A world of sex, drugs corruption and more you enter this world and it is difficult to find an exit. Was this the world that The Black Dahlia inhabited?
Piu Eatwell writes superbly and although this is a true life crime that she is investigating Eatwell writes like a crime thriller and it reads like and old school crime thriller that has many twists and turns not to mention the shocking details that keep being thrown up. It is a book that anyone who has an interest will have real difficulty in putting this down.
It would be so easy to claim to have cracked this case but this is not what this book is about. It about pure investigative instinct in wanting to go through the facts look under every stone even those that were not lifted for whatever reason error or otherwise. Is there a suspect at the end of this, well that is something you will have to discover for yourself? Someone murdered Elizabeth Short and got away with. Even after all these years it is time to separate fact from fiction and try and find the killer of one of the most heinous murders in US history.
Black Dahlia, Red Rose is a highly recommended read and one that does not disappoint on any level.
Thank you to Diana Morgan for the advanced review copy of Black Dahlia, Red Rose.
Black Dahlia, Red Rose by Piu Eatwell is published by Coronet (Hodder & Stoughton) and was published on 28th September and is available through Waterstones, Amazon and all good bookshops.
The Black Dahlia, Red Rose by Piu Eatwell Blog Tour
Resurrection Bay by Emma Viskic
Here is a thriller that delivers a rush that does not let you go. Anyone who enjoys a mystery with a captivating character who plays the lead role as Private Investigator and who is also deaf. In her debut thriller Resurrection Bay Emma Viskic has crafted a gritty and at times violent book with a great storyline at its very heart.
A gripping and exciting read awaits the reader in Resurrection Bay with some great characters. Caleb Zelic and Frankie Reynolds run an investigation business called Trust Works and what a partnership these two really are. Caleb has been deaf since childhood and Frankie is a no nonsense ex-cop in her fifties she plays her own game to achieve results. Casting a lead character who plays a PI and who is deaf is not easy but this works brilliantly well and together Caleb and Frankie make a great team.
It is an explosive start to this story as Caleb finds the body of his good friend Gary Marsden who has been murdered. Who could be behind this savage killing of his good friend. Was Gary involved in something that he should not have been and this is how he met his grizzly end? Caleb and Frankie must now not only find the killer before he strikes again but also at the same time clear Gary’s name from any wrong doing.
A thrilling debut novel that keeps that fast paced storyline going with many twists and turns until the very end. I really enjoyed Resurrection Bay with its lead character in Caleb and how he copes with his disability while being a Private Investigator. I hope this is just the beginning and we see more of Caleb Zelic and Frankie Reynolds. What a partnership they make.
Thank you to Tabitha Pelly for the review copy of Resurrection Bay.
Resurrection Bay by Emma Viskic is published by Pushkin Press and was published on 24th August 2017 and is available through Waterstones, Amazon and all good bookshops.
Dead Writers in Rehab by Paul Bassett Davies
I have read more books than I can remember over the years and yet here is one by Paul Bassett Davies that I cannot place into any genre. Dead Writers in Rehab deserves a genre all for itself. It is a literary wonder. A brilliant and clever piece of writing if I saw one. A novel that was funded by donations through Unbound.
The first thing I have to say about Dead Writers in Rehab is that when I was approached a while back about this book I was to be honest not at all sure what I would make of this book that I first thought was very strange. But I am so pleased I read Paul’s book. It is just fabulous. It has everything a reader is looking for. It is ambitious and entertaining in every sense. I really could not put this book down. A novel in which the key character Foster James awakes to find himself in a rehab. But this is no ordinary rehab. Imagine waking to find you are not just in a rehab but a rehab with dead authors. Now add voices to these dead authors such as Dorothy Parker, Ernest Hemmingway, Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, Samuel Taylor Coleridge to name but a few. At firs the author who narrates his story is confused what is going on and is he really dead or sort of dead? I love humour in a story and this is one of the funniest books I have read in a long time. Even for Foster James his way of finding out and coming to terms with the famous dead writers he is sharing this place with is just brilliant. His past has always been troubled and is no stranger to institutions. Hard living comes with a price and he is now paying for it. As much as this is a book packed full of great wit and humour there is in the story a real story in itself. Foster James is a literary star himself so he should be at home among some of the literary greats who have long since died yet he does not know how or why he is here, but he is. Hidden in this outstanding novel is a story of people and of love and of life. There is much to this story than I am going to tell. You need to grab a copy and settle in for a weekend with a book that is just pure literary genius. Unique and different but one worth investing in. If you love books you will love Dead Writers in Rehab. HIGHLY RECOMMENDED
Thank you to Natalie Galustian (DHH Literary Agency) for the review copy of Dead Writers in Rehab.
Dead Writers in Rehab by Paul Bassett Davies is published by Unbound and was released on 4th May 2017 and is available through Waterstones, Amazon and all good bookshops.