#BlogTour | #BookReview: Cursed by Thomas Enger (@EngerThomas) @OrendaBooks

9781910633649.jpg“What secret would you kill to protect? When Hedda Hellberg fails to return from a retreat in Italy, where she has been grieving for her recently dead father, her husband discovers that his wife’s life is tangled in mystery. Hedda never left Oslo, the retreat has no record of her and, what’s more, she appears to be connected to the death of an old man, gunned down on the first day of the hunting season in the depths of the Swedish forests. Henning Juul becomes involved in the case when his ex-wife joins in the search for the missing woman, and the estranged pair find themselves enmeshed both in the murky secrets of one of Sweden’s wealthiest families, and in the painful truths surrounding the death of their own son. With the loss of his son to deal with, as well as threats to his own life and to that of his ex-wife, Juul is prepared to risk everything to uncover a sinister maze of secrets that ultimately leads to the dark heart of European history.

Today I am thrilled to welcome you to my stop on the Cursed blog tour.  Cursed is written by Thomas Enger and is the fourth book in the Henning Juul series (but the first one I have read which should come as no surprise to regular visitors!).  I do love nordic noir and have previously indulged in the literary delights of Gunnar Staalesen, Agnes Ravatn and other talented Scandinavian authors.  So with this in mind, I was excited to read Cursed.

I wasn’t disappointed.  Thomas Enger has created a mesmerising tale which draws you in from the opening pages and keeps you glued to the story throughout; all the way to the thrilling conclusion. And what a way to end a novel!  I’m already champing at the bit for book five in the series.

My heart really went out to Henning Juul who I immediately liked.  Henning isn’t your usual crime thriller hero as he’s an investigative crime journalist and not a harried detective.  It was a refreshing change for me to be reading a novel which wasn’t set in the midst of a major police investigation.  The relationship between Henning and his ex-wife, Nora Klemetsen broke my heart at times.  And the tragedy suffered by the estranged couple I found a hard read.  Henning’s all-consuming desire to discover who was responsible for his young son’s death had me riveted and cheering him on from the comfort of my sofa.  Particularly with the introduction of Nora’s new partner, Iver and their earth shattering news.

There are many different threads to the story and it’s hard at times to see how they will all come together.  But come together they do in an explosive finale.  The pictures painted by the author are so clear that you can’t but help feel you’re there, living the action with them.

I loved the different characters of the Hellberg family.  Each one individual and each with their own secrets.  But how far are they prepared to go to keep those secrets?  Well, you’ll have to read Cursed for yourself and find out!

Would I recommend this book?  I would.  If you’re anything like me and love to read books where at the centre of the crime you find a wealthy, secretive and controlling family then you will love Cursed.  Fantastic, believable characters…some you will love, some you will loathe.  Beautifully atmospheric, completely gripping and full of intrigue. Orenda Books, you have another gem of a novel on your shelf and I can’t wait for book five.

Four out of five stars.

I chose to read and review an ARC of Cursed.  My thanks to Orenda Books for providing me with a copy.  The above review is my own unbiased opinion.

Cursed by Thomas Enger (translated by Kari Dickson) was published in the UK by Orenda Books on 15th February 2017 and is available in paperback and eBook editions | amazon.co.uk | amazon.com | Waterstones | Goodreads | Orenda Books |

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(c) Ingrid Basso

Thomas Enger (b. 1973) is a former journalist. He made his debut with the crime novel Burned (Skinndød) in 2009, which became an international sensation before publication. Burned is the first in a series of 5 books about the journalist Henning Juul, which delves into the depths of Oslo’s underbelly, skewering the corridors of dirty politics and nailing the fast-moving world of 24-hour news. Rights to the series have been sold to 26 countries to date. In 2013 Enger published his first book for young adults, a dark fantasy thriller called THE EVIL LEGACY, for which he won the U-prize (best book Young Adult). Enger also composes music, and he lives in Oslo.

Author Links: Website | Twitter |

#BlogTour | #GuestPost: Sealskin by Su Bristow (@SuBristow) @OrendaBooks #Sealskin

Sealskin cover.jpg“What happens when magic collides with reality? Donald is a young fisherman, eking out a lonely living on the west coast of Scotland. One night he witnesses something miraculous … and makes a terrible mistake. His action changes lives – not only his own, but those of his family and the entire tightly knit community in which they live. Can he ever atone for the wrong he has done, and can love grow when its foundation is violence? Based on the legend of the selkies – seals who can transform into people – Sealskin is a magical story, evoking the harsh beauty of the landscape, the resilience of its people, both human and animal, and the triumph of hope over fear and prejudice. With exquisite grace, Exeter Novel Prize-winner Su Bristow transports us to a different world, subtly and beautifully exploring what it means to be an outsider, and our innate capacity for forgiveness and acceptance. Rich with myth and magic, Sealskin is, nonetheless, a very human story, as relevant to our world as to the timeless place in which it is set. And it is, quite simply, unforgettable.”

I am absolutely thrilled to be kicking off the Sealskin blog tour today alongside the lovely Steph over at Stephs Book Blog.  Sealskin was the winner of the Exeter Novel Prize in 2013 and is the work of author and Consultant Medical Herbalist, Su Bristow.  What an amazing achievement!  Sealskin will be published in paperback by the wonderful Orenda Books on 15th February 2017 so make sure you pre-order your copy NOW!

Today I have a fascinating guest post from author, Su Bristow.  Seeing as it’s day one of the blog tour, Su and I thought it best to start at the very beginning with a few words explaining the Selkie legend, which the book is based upon.  So without further ado, I’ll hand you over to Su…

The Foundations of Sealskin
Su Bristow

First of  all, here is the version of the story that was the starting point for Sealskin:

THE LEGEND

Once, there was a fisherman who spent many nights fishing alone. One night at full moon, he witnessed a marvel: nine seals came ashore, put off their skins and became beautiful young women, dancing on the beach. The fisherman hid himself, and as he watched, he began to fall in love with one of them. Secretly, he hid her sealskin, so that when the others returned to the sea, she was left behind.

The fisherman took her home to be his wife, and he hid the skin at the bottom of a chest. They lived together for some years, and she bore him children. She seemed to be happy, but from time to time she would look out to sea and weep.

One day while he was out at sea, one of the children found the skin and showed it to his mother. When the fisherman returned at the end of the day, she was gone, and he never saw her again.

Stories about Selkies, or seals who can turn into people, are found along the coasts of Ireland, Scotland, Orkney and Shetland, and across the sea in Iceland and Scandinavia too. In fact, the word ‘selkie’ is just the Orcadian word for ‘seal’, but it’s come to be used particularly for these shape-shifting beings. And the stories vary from place to place, although they generally don’t end happily. It seems that selkie men and women are irresistible to the humans who encounter them, and they always fall in love. Male selkies are very willing to ‘mate’ with humans, but they won’t stay long, and always go back to the sea. Females, on the other hand, have to be tricked into it by hiding their sealskins; given the chance, they too will return to their natural element.

It’s interesting that whereas most mythological creatures are dangerous to us humans, selkies are usually gentle. Perhaps I strayed a little from tradition when I gave Mairhi some magic of her own; although she never uses it to attack anybody, she can certainly defend herself if need be. But the stories don’t go into much detail about how the marriage between the fisherman and the selkie woman actually worked, and that was what interested me. You wouldn’t expect any relationship to be possible after such a horrible start! So I added a few twists, which I won’t go into now because I don’t want to spoil the story for people who haven’t read it yet, except to say that almost immediately, Donald knows that what he did was wrong. And really, the whole story is about how he tries to make amends, and how that changes him and everyone else around him.

Going back to the legend, on a more general level it’s about how humans want to ‘own’ the wildness of nature. All over the world, people tell stories about interactions with animals and birds. Whether they really believe it on the practical level or not, they certainly portray animals as having minds and feelings of their own. Is it just us projecting ourselves onto the natural world, or is there a deeper truth there? The more we learn about animals, the more like us they turn out to be.

Maybe the selkies tell stories about us, too.

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An absolutely enchanting post, thank you Su.  And congratulations on the wonderful praise you have received so far.  I’ve seen many bloggers say that Sealskin is one of their books of 2017.  What a fantastic way to start the year.

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Early Praise for Sealskin…

Sealskin is an accomplished and intelligent novel, a fine piece of craftsmanship and a pleasure to read’ Allan Massie

‘Bristow has taken a known myth, and created an enthralling, human love story.  A profound achievement, and a stunning debut’ Richard Bean

‘An extraordinary book: original, vivid, tender and atmospheric. Su Bristow’s writing is fluid and flawless, and this is a story so deeply immersive that you emerge at the end, gasping for air’ Iona Grey

‘I love books in which magic takes on a gritty reality, and Sealskin is just such a book. Dark and brooding and half-familiar, the tale steals over you till you’re half-in, half-out of a dream’ Jane Johnson

‘An evocative story, told with skill and beauty, that held me spellbound until the very last page’ Amanda Jennings

‘On the face of it, Sealskin is a gentle tale, a lovely reworking of the selkie legend many of us have known and loved since childhood. Do not be fooled, dear reader; beneath this simple re-imagining lies a story as deep as the ocean the selkie comes from. I was captivated from the first page to the poignant last one, by the sympathetically drawn characters and a mesmerising sense of place. In between are moments of tragedy, moments of grace and redemption; the whole wrapped in Su Bristow’s charismatic writing. This is a story that catches on the edge of your heart, leaving tiny scars; reminders of a journey into a beloved legend, the human lives caught up in it and the consequences of the choices they make. It is, quite simply, exceptional’ Carole Lovekin

‘In this achingly beautiful retelling of the classic Scottish folk tale, Su Bristow brings psychological depth and great warmth to the characters, making the ending all the more heart-breaking. It’s a story about the tensions of life in a tiny fishing community, about bullying and violence as well as the healing magic of nature. It’s written smoothly and skilfully with not a word too many or a word too few. I absolutely loved it and can’t recommend it highly enough’ Gill Paul

‘A beautiful and bewitching read that haunted my thoughts for days. The sense of the sea, of this small community, of guilt is palpable. This is one of those books you place reverentially on your bookcase and envy those who are yet to dive in’ Michael J. Malone

Sealskin is the most exquisite tale of love, forgiveness and magic. Inspired by the legends of the selkies, this gorgeous novel is a dark fairy tale, an ode to traditional storytelling, a tribute to the stories we loved hearing as children. But be warned – this is no happy-ever-after tale. The language is just glorious, poetic and rich but precise. And her characters – oh, they will remain in your heart long after you’ve closed the last page. Mairhi – especially since she never really “speaks” – is a beautiful mystery, but one who haunted me when I was between chapters. If this is her first, then I can’t wait to read whatever Su Bristow bestows upon the literary world next’ Louise Beech

‘Ms Bristow’s skill in weaving a centuries-old tale into a current-day fiction novel and binding the two together is simply superbly done. Sealskin is boldly written, brilliantly told and a tale of legendary proportions’ JM Hewitt

Sealskin is a magical and moral tale woven with a deft hand’ Sara MacDonald

‘With its beautiful language and magical storytelling, Sealskin is a clear winner for me’ Sophie Duffy

Sealskin is exquisitely written with haunting prose and evocative descriptions of the Scottish landscape. It’s filled with beauty, surprises and subtle twists and turns. There’s a mesmerising love story at its heart.  I really didn’t want the story to end, and felt bereft when it did, surrounded by boxes of tissues. I’m sure I’ll be reading this book several times to feel that magic again and again. It’s no surprise that Su Bristow is an Exeter Novel Prize winner. Her writing is beautiful and this book is stunning. Sealskin is destined to go far’ Off-the-Shelf Books

Sealskin really is one of the most beautifully written books I’ve ever read … a flowing tale of love, friendship, acceptance and coming of age for the varying characters.  Set against the ruggedly beautiful Scottish backdrop, the vivid descriptions draw us in, detail oozing from the pages and giving the reader a chance to feel the coastal winds whipping at their faces, taste the salt in the air, feel the uneven terrain underfoot as they clamber through the heather and over rocks. There’s a magic in these pages … poetic and hauntingly beautiful’ The Quiet Knitter

‘A compelling and beautifully written book. At one level Sealskin is a delightful re-working of the selkie myth. But it is also a great deal more than that … The fishing village is a close knit community wary of incomers, the suspicion with which they greet Maihri is typical of how they behave. Strangers, especially ones who are a little out of the ordinary, are not made entirely welcome. It is a story of how relationships develop and grow. Sealskin is a quite delightful and extraordinarily well-written book. Highly recommended’ Trip Fiction

‘A sensuous and beautifully written retelling of the Selkie legend which captivated me’ Margaret James, Creative Writing Matters

’I knew this was special, right from the first paragraph. A beautiful book written with a deceptive simplicity. But Su Bristow does not shy away from asking some very big questions. How can a man atone for violence? Will he ever be forgiven? Will he ever forgive himself? Utterly spellbinding’ Cathie Hartigan

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Su Photo.jpegSu Bristow is a consultant medical herbalist by day. She’s the author of two books on herbal medicine: The Herbal Medicine Chest and The Herb Handbook; and two on relationship skills: The Courage to Love and Falling in Love, Staying in Love, co-written with psychotherapist, Malcolm Stern. Her published fiction includes ‘Troll Steps’ (in the anthology, Barcelona to Bihar), and ‘Changes’ which came second in the 2010 CreativeWritingMatters flash fiction competition. Her forthcoming novel, Sealskin, is set in the Hebrides, and it’s a reworking of the Scottish legend of the selkies, or seals who can turn into people. It won the Exeter Novel Prize 2013. Her writing has been described as ‘magical realism; Angela Carter meets Eowyn Ivey’.

Author Links: Blog | Twitter |

 

#BlogTour | #BookReview: Deep Down Dead by Steph Broadribb (@crimethrillgirl) @OrendaBooks

51dphgk8vsl-_sx324_bo1204203200_“Lori Anderson is as tough as they come, managing to keep her career as a fearless Florida bounty hunter separate from her role as single mother to nine-year-old Dakota, who suffers from leukaemia. But when the hospital bills start to rack up, she has no choice but to take her daughter along on a job that will make her a fast buck. And that’s when things start to go wrong.

The fugitive she’s assigned to haul back to court is none other than JT, Lori’s former mentor – the man who taught her everything she knows … the man who also knows the secrets of her murky past. Not only is JT fighting a child exploitation racket operating out of one of Florida’s biggest theme parks, Winter Wonderland, a place where ‘bad things never happen’, but he’s also mixed up with the powerful Miami Mob. With two fearsome foes on their tails, just three days to get JT back to Florida, and her daughter to protect, Lori has her work cut out for her. When they’re ambushed at a gas station, the stakes go from high to stratospheric, and things become personal.”

I am absolutely delighted to welcome you to my stop on Steph Broadribb’s Deep Down Dead blog tour which I share with the ever so lovely Tracy Shephard over at Postcard Reviews.  I’ve been blogging for just over a year now but one of the very first bloggers I followed and was inspired by was Steph Broadribb (as her alter ego Crime Thriller Girl).  Steph has made a name for herself as a well-respected reviewer, someone whose bookish thoughts you can trust.  So I was absolutely thrilled to hear that she was on the brink of publishing her debut novel.  Deep Down Dead had a real draw for me and I just had to read it!

Lori Anderson is a kick ass bounty hunter.  When offered the opportunity to earn $15,000 to pick up a fugitive and return him to Florida, Lori looks for the catch.  Surely such a simple job shouldn’t have such a high price on it.  But that lump of cash could go a long way to paying her sick daughter’s hospital bills.  Still suspicious, Lori accepts the job only to come face to face with the mugshot of her mentor and ex-lover, JT.  Things are already getting complicated.  To make matters worse, Lori’s usual babysitter is unable to look after Lori’s daugther, Dakota.  Lori reluctantly packs a bag for her little girl and takes her along for the ride.  It’s an easy job so it shouldn’t be a problem having Dakota by her side.  After several days of driving the girls finally arrive at the collection point but things turn nasty and the three thugs holding JT don’t want to give him up without a fight.  It’s only the beginning of a long, complicated and incredibly dangerous drive back to Florida.  Lori fights to protect her daughter and keep a handcuffed JT safe, but that’s easier said than done…

Deep Down Dead is a seriously good book and one that all crime thriller fans should read.  I still can’t comprehend that this is a debut novel.  The writing is confident, skilled and oh boy, can Steph Broadribb tell a good story!  Her characters felt real to me.  The scenes I could picture, in crystal clear clarity, in my head.  If anyone is looking for a book to make into a movie then choose this one.  This book is destined for the big screen!  It’s so wonderfully american that I devoured it.

Oh Lori Anderson, how I want to be you!  Ex-pole dancer turned bounty hunter Lori is the most likeable, most believable heroine I’ve met in a book in a long time.  She fights, she shoots, she beats herself up on a regular basis for not being a good enough mum to her daughter.  This woman carries a taser around with her for goodness sake, and she’s not afraid to use it.  Forget your Wonder Woman, forget your SuperGirl, I want to be Lori.

And then we have JT.  What can I say about JT apart from the fact that his name makes me swoon.  I do believe that I’m becoming a bit soft as I really don’t like relationships in my crime thrillers but I’ve read a number recently where I’m suddenly thinking, I rather like their chemistry.  Well forget all other chemical reactions, JT and Lori make the rest quietly and insignificantly fizzle out, phut.  Their chemistry leaps off the page at you.  They show very little interest in each other but oh wow, it sizzles.  Loved it!

The plot doesn’t really slow down at any stage.  This is a fast moving read and, be warned, it’s addictive.  At times when I had to do other things, all I wanted to do was dive straight back into Deep Down Dead.  I found myself at times daydreaming about Lori, Dakota and JT, replaying scenes in my head.  I particularly loved the sections based in and around the theme park.  They were full of action, I truly felt for Lori and they were dark enough to make me feel on edge.

Would I recommend this book?  Well, yes, of course I would.  For me, this is the book that every other book has to beat this year to become my favourite read of 2017.  It’s early days but Deep Down Dead is a long way in the lead at the moment (and we’re not even done with January yet!).  Absolutely everything I want in my novels, and maybe even a little bit more. Astounded that this is a debut and looking eagerly forward to reading the second book in the series. Superb.

Five out of five stars.

Deep Down Dead by Steph Broadribb was published in the UK by Orenda Books on 5th January 2017 and is available in paperback and eBook editions | amazon.co.uk | amazon.com | Waterstones | Goodreads | Orenda Books |

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Steph Broadribb was born in Birmingham and grew up in Buckinghamshire. Most of her working life has been spent between the UK and USA. As her alter ego – Crime Thriller Girl – she indulges her love of all things crime fiction by blogging at www.crimethrillergirl.com, where she interviews authors and reviews the latest releases.

Steph is an alumni of the MA in Creative Writing (Crime Fiction) at City University London, and she trained as a bounty hunter in California. She lives in Buckinghamshire surrounded by horses, cows and chickens. Deep, Down, Dead is her debut novel.

Author Links:Twitter | Blog | Facebook |

#BlogTour | #GuestPost: Rupture by Ragnar Jónasson (@ragnarjo) @OrendaBooks #Rupture

41qs39koyul-_sx323_bo1204203200_“1955. Two young couples move to the uninhabited, isolated fjord of Hedinsfjörður. Their stay ends abruptly when one of the women meets her death in mysterious circumstances. The case is never solved. Fifty years later an old photograph comes to light, and it becomes clear that the couples may not have been alone on the fjord after all…

In nearby Siglufjörður, young policeman Ari Thór tries to piece together what really happened that fateful night, in a town where no one wants to know, where secrets are a way of life. He’s assisted by Ísrún, a news reporter in Reykjavik who is investigating an increasingly chilling case of her own. Things take a sinister turn when a child goes missing in broad daylight. With a stalker on the loose, and the town of Siglufjörður in quarantine, the past might just come back to haunt them.

Haunting, frightening and complex, Rupture is a dark and atmospheric thriller from one of Iceland’s foremost crime writers.”

Better late than never, isn’t that what they say…

I am delighted to be part of the Rupture blog tour today.  Rupture is written by the incredibly talented Ragnar Jónasson and is the fourth book in the Dark Iceland series.  I’m a little behind with this series as I’ve only read the fantastically claustrophobic Blackout which I loved. If you missed my review please click here for a recap.

Today I have a fascinating post from Ragnar about his favourite thrillers on the big screen.  So without further ado, over to Ragnar…

Classic Thrillers on Screen

In addition to reading classic crime fiction, I’m quite a fan of good films. I’d like to share with you some of my favourite classic thrillers and mysteries (using classic rather freely, referring to movies from the last century).

  1. Seven (1995) – Excellent David Fincher thriller starring Brad Pitt, Morgan Freeman and Gwyneth Paltrow. Fincher has hardly hit a wrong note since then.
  2. Pulp Fiction (1994) – The Quentin Tarantino epic, his best movie to date, almost every scene a classic.
  3. Die Hard I & II (1988 / 1990) – The ultimate action films, both of them excellent in their own right.
  4. Rear Window (1954) – I am a great fan of Alfred Hitchcock and this is one of hist all time best movie, based on a crime story (short story) by Cornell Woolrich, starring the amazing James Stewart and Grace Kelly.
  5. Rope (1948) – Another classic Hitchcock, based on an excellent crime play by Patrick Hamilton.
  6. The Godfather I & II (1972 / 1974) – Perfect, epic crime stories.
  7. The Thin Man series (1934-1947) – A series of six wonderful mysteries starring classic golden age stars William Powell & Myrna Loy. The first one was based on Dashiell Hammett’s classic novel. Also look out for the interesting 2012 publication of “novellas” which became films in the series.
  8. Rebecca (1940) – Yet another excellent Hitchcock film.
  9. Dr. No (1962) – No list is complete without James Bond, and the first one in the series is one of the best.
  10. The Game (1997) – Another incredibly good David Fincher mystery.

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Thank you for this interesting post Ragnar.  I think I’ve only managed to watch ‘Seven’ as I’m horribly squeamish and a bit of a wimp!  Following your recommendations however, I will endeavour to watch one or two more!

Rupture by Ragnar Jónasson was published in the UK by Orenda Books on 15th January 2017 and is available in paperback and eBook editions | amazon.co.uk | amazon.com | Waterstones | Goodreads | Orenda Books |

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32b9843or-768x512Icelandic crime writer Ragnar Jónasson was born in Reykjavik in 1976, and currently works as a lawyer, while teaching copyright law at the Reykjavik University Law School. In the past, he’s worked in TV and radio, including as a news reporter for the Icelandic National Broadcasting Service. Before embarking on a writing career, Ragnar translated 14 Agatha Christie novels into Icelandic, and has had several short stories published in German, English and Icelandic literary magazines. Ragnar set up the first overseas chapter of the CWA (Crime Writers’ Association) in Reykjavik, and is co-founder of the international crime-writing festival Iceland Noir, selected by the Guardian as one of the ‘best crime-writing festivals around the world’. Ragnar Jónasson has written five novels in the Dark Iceland series, and he is currently working on his sixth. He lives in Reykjavik with his wife and two daughters.

Author Links: Twitter | Website |

#BlogTour: The Mine by Antti Tuomainen (@antti_tuomainen) @OrendaBooks #TheFinnishInvasion

the-mine-cover“A hitman. A journalist. A family torn apart. Can he uncover the truth before it’s too late?

In the dead of winter, investigative reporter Janne Vuori sets out to uncover the truth about a mining company, whose illegal activities have created an environmental disaster in a small town in Northern Finland. When the company’s executives begin to die in a string of mysterious accidents, and Janne’s personal life starts to unravel, past meets present in a catastrophic series of events that could cost him his life.

A traumatic story of family, a study in corruption, and a shocking reminder that secrets from the past can return to haunt us, with deadly results … The Mine is a gripping, beautifully written, terrifying and explosive thriller by the King of Helsinki Noir.”

I am delighted to welcome you to my stop on The Mine blog tour and day two of my stint on the Finnish Invasion blog tour (if you missed it I featured a brilliant Q&A with Orenda author Kati Hiekkapelto yesterday, which you can read if you click here).

Regular visitors to damppebbles will know how much I love a guest post (I love a guest post!) so today I have a fabulous post from The Mine author Antti Tuomainen to share with you. Without further ado I’ll hand over to Antti…

Family Matters by Antti Tuomainen

I have just published my third novel in the UK called THE MINE. (It is my fifth novel altogether.) THE MINE is a crime novel, of course, but it is also a family story. It tells the story of a father and a son, a journalist and a hitman. In the beginning of the novel, the father returns to Helsinki, his and his son’s hometown, after having been gone for thirty years.

That set up – the father and the son – was really how THE MINE got its start. It is also something that is common in all my novels. Close relationships, I mean. Looking back, I’ve always written about close human interaction in one way or another – husband and wife torn apart in The Healer, brothers on different side of the law, mother and son in Dark As My Heart, and so forth –  and I’ve always began building my novels through characters and their dilemmas. And of course, the secrets they keep from each other.

And this is where family comes in. Who are we closest to? Who do we most remind? Who do we most love or most hate or both? To make a story as dramatic as possible, the stakes have to be high. THE MINE, then, presents two men, sharing the same blood, from different stages of life. One is young, one is older. One is on the side of ‘good’, one on the side of ‘evil’. Of course, the further along we get in the novel, the more the lines blur.

(They are, in a way, brought together by a mine. It should be said that the actual mine in the novel, while fictional, was indeed modeled after a very real and very catastrophic actual mine in northern Finland. There was a sort of a mining boom in Finland a few years ago and at this time a huge nickel mine in the north was opened. It was, and continues to be, an utter disaster from the beginning. When it was revealed how the business got its start, how it involved politicians and business people in a highly questionable manner and how phenomenally huge was, and continues to be, the tax-payers’ bill I felt I had to ask a few questions.)

The son in THE MINE is a journalist. A question I have many times heard is that if I see myself in him since I did some journalism between being a copywriter and a full time writer of novels. (I do see a slight resemblance in some things, yes, at least when relating to the business of writing.) But for some reason I’ve never heard the question: “Do you see yourself in the father, the sixty-year-old lonely hitman?” I find this strange. Because, obviously, I do.

This doesn’t mean that I approve of what the father is doing: going to work means, to him, killing folks. I don’t think that’s an acceptable way to spend your days. But he is in a very recognizable human situation with the people he feels closest to. They both are. And THE MINE shows these men at crossroads. They are more alike than they would like to admit. They are obsessed. They take pride in their work, and how good they are at it. They stop at nothing, and it costs them. They try to do good, but in trying, they hurt other people. They miscalculate, misbehave, misunderstand. They try their best, they really do. Finally, they are willing to do whatever it takes in behalf of each other. They’re family. I can relate to that. I can understand how their family matters to them, as mine matters to me.

***

Thank you very much for such a wonderful guest post, Antti.  I have a copy of The Mine on my TBR and I can’t wait to read it.  I find your description of the father, the sixty year old lonely hitman very intriguing. And, of course, I adore translated crime fiction!  Watch this space for a review coming your way soon.

The Mine by Antti Tuomainen was published in the UK by Orenda Books on 10th October 2016 and is available in paperback and eBook formats | amazon.co.uk | amazon.com | Waterstones | Goodreads | Orenda Books |

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Smith & Sons (11)

antii-tuomainen-225x300Finnish Antti Tuomainen (b. 1971) was an award-winning copywriter when he made his literary debut in 2007 as a suspense author. The critically acclaimed My Brother’s Keeper was published two years later. In 2011 Tuomainen’s third novel, The Healer, was awarded the Clue Award for ‘Best Finnish Crime Novel of 2011’ and was shortlisted for the Glass Key Award. The Finnish press labeled The Healer – the story of a writer desperately searching for his missing wife in a post-apocalyptic Helsinki – ‘unputdownable’. Two years later in 2013 they crowned Tuomainen “The king of Helsinki Noir” when Dark as my Heart was published. With a piercing and evocative style, Tuomainen is one of the first to challenge the Scandinavian crime genre formula. Antti Tuomainen’s latest novel The Mine will be published by Orenda Books in 2016/17.

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#BlogTour: The Exiled by Kati Hiekkapelto (@HiekkapeltoKati) @OrendaBooks #TheFinnishInvasion

41mxo4kt01l-_sx322_bo1204203200_“Murder. Corruption. Dark secrets. A titanic wave of refugees. Can Anna solve a terrifying case that’s become personal?

Anna Fekete returns to the Balkan village of her birth for a relaxing summer holiday. But when her purse is stolen and the thief is found dead on the banks of the river, Anna is pulled into a murder case. Her investigation leads straight to her own family, to closely guarded secrets concealing a horrendous travesty of justice that threatens them all. As layer after layer of corruption, deceit and guilt are revealed, Anna is caught up in the refugee crisis spreading like wildfire across Europe. How long will it take before everything explodes?”

I am absolutely thrilled to welcome you to my weekend long stop on Orenda Books’ Finnish Invasion blog tour.  I am delighted to welcome Kati Hiekkapelto, author of The Exiled to damppebbles today with a fabulous Q&A.  Tomorrow I have fellow Finnish author, Antti Tuomainen joining me on the blog with a brilliant guest post.  So pop back tomorrow for the Finnish Invasion blog tour part two!  Without further ado, on with the questions…

The Exiled sees Anna return home to Serbia, where she finds that the people there aren’t quite as she remembered, and she’s often shocked by the behaviour of the locals to ‘outsiders’. Was that your experience?

Serbia is very multicultural place and they still have their own war times fresh in their memory, so many people are actually very tolerant and open to ‘outsiders’. In fact, Hungary behaved much worse during last year’s refugee crisis than Serbia. Racism and xenophobia are much more deeper in every-day politics in Hungary. But of course there are problems in Serbia, too. There are politicians, parties and also common individuals who don’t accept immigrants or Romanys – the latter in particular are very badly treated. This concerns the whole of Eastern Europe and unfortunately the whole world. My own experiences in Serbia were only good. I come from ‘West’ and therefore I was something rather to admire to than dislike. Of course I hope that everyone would be liked just because he or she is a good person, not because of the origins. I never understood why on earth would it matter where I happened to be born or where my parents were born. Our nationality in birth is something we really cannot change.

And paradoxically, across the first two books (The Hummingbird and The Defenceless), Anna is an outsider in Finland, yet when she returns home to Serbia in this book, she feels somewhat the same – the people and their treatment of others alien to her – and she discovers a shocking secret that makes her question everything. What was your message here?

I don’t want to deliver any messages. I am just a storyteller. Although, in my experience, many immigrants share the feeling of being an outsider in both their old and new homelands. Research into the immigrant experience also confirm this. So, Anna’s feelings have a big basis in reality, however, not every immigrant would feel the same.

How Anna could feel home in Serbia, when she fled there as a small child? How could she feel home in Finland, where she don’t have her roots and family and can’t really use her mother tongue. These are fundamental questions in Anna’s fragile identity and the worst thing is that she is incapable of talking about them. She believes that opening her inner self to someone is worthless mumbo jumbo and psychology is nothing but bullshit, but I think she doesn’t have words for the feelings she experiences and therefore she overlooks (or suppresses) the whole thing. This is one of the tragedies of losing your mother tongue. Describing your emotions is very deeply rooted in your mother tongue and if you don’t have opportunity to use it often or it doesn’t  develop enough (for example, moving to an other country as a child), you can experience such problems and not even be aware of it. I think to understand Anna, we need to try to understand the fundamental, essential combination of language and identity.

Family secrets are a theme that runs throughout the book. What was your inspiration for this thread of the story?

In The Hummingbird I wrote one sentence in which Anna told her new colleagues that her police-officer father died in the line of duty. I did not know then what had happened, to be honest; in fact, I did not think about it at all, but I knew immediately that I want to find it out. The Exiled was kind of born in that moment, years before I actually wrote it.

Can you tell us a secret of your own?

No. It would not be a secret anymore. Ha ha!  (Good answer, Kati!)

You have been shortlisted for or won most of the big Scandinavian fiction awards (The Glass Key, the Petrona Award, the Ice Pick, Finnish Crime Novel of the Year, Dead Good Reads Most Captivating Crime in Translation …). When you started writing, did you ever expect this?

OMG, no! I still don’t believe this! When I wrote The Hummingbird, I had only one goal: to finish a whole novel. When it was done I almost deleted it, because it felt so shit. But fortunately I sent it to couple of publishing houses in Finland and amazingly Otava picked it up very quickly. Everything has been a huge surprise to me. Huge, huge surprise. I still think sometimes that this is just a gigantic joke and one day everybody is going to laugh at me and say: Ha! We got you! Your books are bad as you thought, you fool!

It is crazy how artists can be unsure about their work! I’ve talked with many writers and painters and composers and almost all of them report feeling the same way. It is horrible to struggle with feelings of uncertainty and self-doubt. I could never expect anything ‘glorious’ from outside, I could not write thinking: this is so brilliant, it’s going to be a huge success. Of course I have moments when text is rolling and it looks good even to my own eyes. Thank God for those moments, or I could not bear to be in this profession without them. And I am ambitious, too. I want to achieve a lot, not because achieving it would be something interesting or desirable, but because I want to become a bloody good writer. I want to learn and get better all the time.

Your writing is evocative and beautiful – very literary. Did you find it difficult to marry this with a page-turning, gripping plot?

It is my style, and it comes quite naturally to me, without any particular effort. Writing in the whole is difficult, though. Plot, characters, narrative, setting, themes, language, rhythm of words and sentences, it all has to be as perfect as possible. That is the reason I experience so much pain when I write. It is never good enough! It is so hard to make all those elements work together as complete, readable, enjoyable and thought-provoking prose. And yet it is so fun, interesting and exciting. I love writing! (And hate too!)

Equally, Kati, you are a political writer – exposing wrongs in society and pointing the finger at wrongdoers. You root for the little people, the underdogs. And yet, as above, at no point is the tension lost, or is the story compromised. How do you go about writing enthralling books while giving a voice to others?

I think this is another thing that comes naturally. I’ve always been on the side of the poor and discriminated. I come from working-class family where social awareness and equality was always something considered to be self-evident. My parents were not activists or anything like that; they are very ordinary people, but in my home all forms of bullying or underrating others was despised. I became a punk when I was young and I still am. Punk shaped my identity very much. I hope I will never be too old to abandon my ideology, my anger at the establishment and my support for the oppressed. However, in my writing I try to avoid preaching. No one likes to be taught or pushed in a certain direction. I hate preaching! I tell stories that definitely have a certain level of social consciousness. It is my style and I also like to read this type of book myself. But conclusions I leave to the reader.

In your personal life, you’ve been very involved in helping writers and artists in danger. Can you tell us a bit about this?

At the moment the project is ‘in ice’ because we don’t have money nor anyone to do it full time. We got a grant for a year (last year) and we had one ‘customer’ from Iraq on our island Hailuoto. There are so-called Safe Haven cities in every Nordic country except Finland (I think Helsinki is soon going to be one, at least there are active people working towards this) and all over the world, too. They offer a period of asylum for artists in danger. I had a dream of creating such a residency to Hailuoto. With the grant we hired one person to do all the paperwork, etc., for the project, but unfortunately he did not do very good job. But we got great experience, good contacts and lots of knowledge. I really hope one day we can continue the project. There are so many writers and other artists who are persecuted for their work and that is a shame.

Are you affected by the cold, dark winters in your home village? Tell us a little about what it’s like to live in 24-hour darkness, on an island, during a Finnish winter.

I am very affected indeed. I am writing this in Tenerife. I escaped the darkness and love the sunshine here. Darkness can be very depressing. The older I get the harder it feels. Luckily my work allows me to go out during the hours of grey light we have around midday. When I was working in school it was much more difficult during the ‘kaamos’ (the period when the sun doesn’t rise in winter). And luckily I live 230 km south of the Arctic Circle, so it is possible to see a blink of sun sometimes. I would say it is 20-hour darkness and couple of hours of greyness. Beyond the circle you can not see light at all for months. And then in summer we have nothing but light. I can go out and read a book in the middle of a night. It is great!

There is much beauty in darkness ,too. It feels cosy and safe, like a blanket. And it is easier to bear in the countryside, rathe than in cities, I think. You can see the light of stars and snow better without artificial illumination. The Milky Way is fully visible from my yard and Aurora Borealis dance above my house very often. I don’t mind cold. It is only question of dressing properly. Finnish houses are well isolated and warm. Well, my house is almost 200 years old and not perhaps so warm… Winter means wood chopping and heating to me. And cross-country skiing. It is something I’m used to, nothing special or exotic really.  But I think I will come back to Tenerife next winter too…

What’s next for Anna Fekete? 

I’m writing it here. She is back in Finland, that much I can reveal. I don’t feel comfortable speaking about work that is not done yet.

Is this a series that you think you can sustain indefinitely, or will you need to take a break to write a standalone or something different? Do you have any ideas for that ‘something different’?

I could write short stories in the ‘Finnish Weird’ genre. Actually, I already have. I also write lyrics for my band, and columns for a couple of newspapers. I have a forever-project called a theater piece. But as long as I feel that I have something to say through Anna’s character and I don’t get bored with her, this series will be my main work.

You’ve travelled to the UK three or four times a year since the publication of The Hummingbird. Is the culture what you imagined it would be and are you surprised by the huge enthusiasm for your books here and around the world?

Do you mean British culture in general or culture among crime fiction scene? Well, it does not matter, because I did not imagine either of them. And yes, as I mentioned earlier, I am totally surprised. One of the greatest things I’ve discovered is that crime writers in UK are like one big, happy family, a wonderful community of amazing people. I have felt very welcome and part of the gang from the beginning. It is fantastic! This, of course, applies to crime writers from all around the globe, but since I have met most of them in UK, I count them as part of the UK gang. I have travelled to many other countries, too, since The Hummingbird. At the moment I have 12 foreign translations. Unless I wake up tomorrow and get a call from my agent to say: we were all just kidding…

What are you reading now, and what has been your best ‘crime’ read of the year?

Luis Ruffato’s There Were Many Horses. The best crime was re-reading The Red Dragon. It was even better than the first time. I often read two or three books at a time, and my third one is Cormac McCarthy’s Cities of the Plain.

***

Thank you so much for answering these questions for us, Kati.  My review of The Exiled will image001be coming to damppebbles soon.

The Exiled by Kati Hiekkapelto was published in the UK by Orenda Books on 10th October
2o16 and is available in paperback, eBook and audio formats | amazon.co.uk | amazon.com | Waterstones | Goodreads |

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Smith & Sons (11)

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Kati Hiekkapelto is a bestselling author, punk singer, performance artist and special-needs teacher. She lives on an old farm on the island of Hailuoto in Northern Finland with her children and sizable menagerie. Hiekkapelto has taught immigrants and lived in the Hungarian region of Serbia, which inspired her to write her highly regarded debut crime novel, The Hummingbird.

 

 

 

#BlogTour | #BookReview: The Bird Tribunal by Agnes Ravatn trs. @rosie_hedger @OrendaBooks

the-bird-tribunal-a_w-v4“Two people in exile. Two secrets. As the past tightens its grip, there may be no escape… TV presenter Allis Hagtorn leaves her partner and her job to take voluntary exile in a remote house on an isolated fjord. But her new job as housekeeper and gardener is not all that it seems, and her silent, surly employer, 44-year-old Sigurd Bagge, is not the old man she expected. As they await the return of his wife from her travels, their silent, uneasy encounters develop into a chilling, obsessive relationship, and it becomes clear that atonement for past sins may not be enough…

Haunting, consuming and powerful, The Bird Tribunal is a taut, exquisitely written psychological thriller that builds to a shocking, dramatic crescendo that will leave you breathless.”

I am thrilled to be today’s stop on the The Bird Tribunal blog tour.  The Bird Tribunal is written by Agnes Ravatn,  translated from it’s original Norwegian by Rosie Hedger and is published by the inimitable Orenda Books.  I have to say, I have never read a book quite like this before.  Strangely unsettling but a completely riveting read!

Allis Hagtorn is running away.  Something happened which has made her ‘up sticks’ and leave everything she knows behind, including her husband and her influential job.  The only way forward for Allis is to withdraw from everyday life as much as she can, submitting herself to voluntary exile.  Sigurd Bagge offers her a new job as his housekeeper and gardener, whilst his wife is away.  The job suits Allis down to the ground as Bagge’s home is remote and Bagge himself is secretive and uncommunicative.  But what secrets is Allis hiding?  And is she the only one…?

I found this a gripping read.  I had a strong feeling of impending doom from early on which stayed with me and grew stronger as I moved through the book.  It’s certainly an unsettling read and I found it oddly uncomfortable in places (not the subject matter so much as the feeling that I was intruding on the characters most private moments). That certainly didn’t put me off though!  It’s a fairly quick read and so easy to devour in the space of a few hours.  I thoroughly enjoyed it! 

Allis’ neediness towards Bagge added to that uncomfortable feeling at times.  There were several points when I wanted her to walk away from the house and never look back.  I was torn in two; wanting her to leave but knowing there was something big on the way.  That delicious build up of friction between the two characters was so utterly compelling!  Not forgetting of course, that fabulous, unexpected ending.

Would I recommend this book?  I would, especially if you’re looking for a character driven, somewhat intoxicating, slow-build of a read to a surprising, yet stunning conclusion.   Packed full of secrets and shed loads of atmosphere.  It’s a great read!

Four and a half stars out of five.

Many thanks to Karen Sullivan at Orenda Books for providing me with a copy of The Bird Tribunal in exchange for an honest review.

The Bird Tribunal by Agnes Ravatn trs. Rosie Hedger was published in the UK by Orenda Books on 30th September 2016 and is available in paperback and eBook format | amazon.co.uk | amazon.com | Waterstones | Goodreads | Orenda Books |

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Smith & Sons (11)

agnes-ravatn-ashxAgnes Ravatn (b. 1983) is an author and columnist. She made her literary début with the novel Week 53 (Veke 53) in 2007. Since then she has written three critically acclaimed and award-winning essay collections:Standing still (Stillstand), 2011, Popular reading (Folkelesnad), 2011, and Operation self-discipline (Operasjon sjøldisiplin), 2014. In these works Ravatn shows her unique, witty voice and sharp eye for human fallibility. Her second novel, The Bird Tribunal (Fugletribuanlet), 2013, is a strange and captivating story about shame, guilt and atonement. Ravatn received The cultural radio P2’s listener’s prize for this novel, a popular and important prize in Norway, in addition to The Youth’s Critic’s Prize. The Bird Tribunalwas also made into a successful play, which premiered in Oslo in 2015. It is published by Orenda Books in September 2016.

405704_10100129059101931_425159055_n-300x222Rosie Hedger was born in Scotland and completed her MA (Hons) in Scandinavian Studies at the University of Edinburgh. She has lived and worked in Norway, Sweden and Denmark, and now lives in York where she works as a freelance translator. Rosie was a candidate in the British Centre for Literary Translation’s mentoring scheme for Norwegian in 2012, mentored by Don Bartlett.

 

#BlogTour | #BookReview: A Suitable Lie by Michael J. Malone (@michaelJmalone1) @OrendaBooks

41lslkcpql-_sx324_bo1204203200_“Some secrets should never be kept…

Andy Boyd thinks he is the luckiest man alive. Widowed with a young child, after his wife dies in childbirth, he is certain that he will never again experience true love. Then he meets Anna. Feisty, fun and beautiful, she’s his perfect match … and she loves his son like he is her own. When Andy ends up in the hospital on his wedding night, he receives his first clue that Anna is not all that she seems. Desperate for that happy-ever-after, he ignores it. A dangerous mistake that could cost him everything. A brave, deeply moving, page-turning psychological thriller, A Suitable Lie marks a stunning departure for one of Scotland’s finest crime writers, exploring the lengths people will go to hide their deepest secrets, even if it kills them…”

Stop everything!  This is an incredible book and I suggest you click on this link now and just buy yourself a copy.  It upsets me to think that there are people out there who won’t experience the wonder that is A Suitable Lie.  Don’t be one of them.  If you want to read a psychological thriller that takes you through every emotion (and I mean EVERY emotion) then you have no choice, get yourself a copy of A Suitable Lie.  Absolutely sublime!

Andy Boyd is a widower with a young son.  He’s not that interested in meeting someone else as he knows no one will ever replace Patricia in his heart.  That is until he meets beautiful charismatic Anna.  It’s an instant attraction and before long the wedding invitations have been sent to friends and family.  But on their wedding night something terrible happens and Andy ends up in the local A&E department.  It’s OK, they’ll laugh about it in the future – one of those ‘do you remember when…’ moments.  But that’s not the end of Andy’s accidents, oh no.  It’s only the beginning of the pain, hurt and humiliation coming his way.  Can Andy escape the reign of terror forced upon him by the woman he loves?  For him?  For his son…?

Now that I’ve managed to calm down a little I can welcome you to my stop on the A Suitable Lie blog tour.  Categorically my favourite book of the year.  Full stop.  I’m not going to add ‘so far’ because it would take one heck of novel to knock A Suitable Lie off of the top spot.  I finished reading a couple of days ago and all I’ve thought about for the last two days is this book!  I finally understand the term ‘book hangover’.

This is one seriously dark and addictive tale.  There were moments where I was completely torn; I felt I had to pull myself away from the story (even just for a few gulps of fresh clean air) but there was no way I was going to stop reading.  There were moments where my tummy did a queasy flip, but I wasn’t going to stop reading.  Oh my gosh it was phenomenal!  This is my book of the year, without doubt (and we still have three months to go!).

Andy Boyd is a wonderful character (don’t tell my husband but I may be a little in love with Andy).  I am totally ashamed to admit that I wanted to dislike him a little for showing signs of weakness but the writing is so that you just feel bucketfuls of empathy and admiration instead.  He’s a decent, honest man doing the best he can for his son…and he truly loves Anna.

The other characters were brilliantly written; I loved Andy’s brother, Jim and their mum.  But oh my, I adored the children in this book.  Both Pat and Ryan are so beautifully written that they felt very real to me.  It may just be because I have a five year old and a two year old myself (roughly Pat and Ryan’s ages) that I felt real angst and fear for the boys.  Particularly towards the end.  If I could have sat behind the sofa whilst reading, I would have!

Would I recommend this book?  I ADORE this book.  I don’t tend to re-read books but this one I could easily break that rule for.  Look out family members who enjoy psychological thrillers, this is the book you’re getting for Christmas!  I want to tell everyone I meet about this book, whether they want to listen or not! Absolutely wonderful; a haunting tale of love and terror mixed together to perfection to create the must-read book of the year.  BUY THIS BOOK!!

Six stars out of five (I’m joking but I would if I could, five out of five stars!).

Many thanks to Liz and Karen Sullivan at Orenda Books for providing me with a copy of A Suitable Lie in exchange for an honest review.

A Suitable Lie by Michael J Malone was published in the UK by Orenda Books on 15th September 2016 and is available in paperback and eBook formats | amazon.co.uk | amazon.com | Waterstones | Goodreads | Orenda Books |

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Smith & Sons (11)

bobmcd18-214x300Michael Malone is a prize-winning poet and author who was born and brought up in the heart of Burns’ country, just a stone’s throw from the great man’s cottage in Ayr. Well, a stone thrown by a catapult. He has published over 200 poems in literary magazines throughout the UK, including New Writing Scotland, Poetry Scotland and Markings. His career as a poet has also included a (very) brief stint as the Poet-In-Residence for an adult gift shop.Blood Tears, his bestselling debut novel won the Pitlochry Prize (judge: Alex Gray) from the Scottish Association of Writers.

Other published work includes: Carnegie’s Call (a non-fiction work about successful modern-day Scots); A Taste for Malice; The Guillotine Choice; and Beyond the Rage. His poetry includes: In The Raw, Running Threadsand Lip Synch. Michael is a regular reviewer for the hugely popular crime fiction website www.crimesquad.com. A former Regional Sales Manager (Faber & Faber) he has also worked as an IFA and a bookseller.

Author Links: Facebook | Twitter | Website |

#BlogTour #BookReview: A Death in the Family by Michael Stanley (@detectivekubu) @OrendaBooks

51rRel5hflL._SX324_BO1,204,203,200_‘There’s no easy way to say this, Kubu. Your father’s dead. I’m afraid he’s been murdered.’

“Faced with the violent death of his own father, even Assistant Superintendent David ‘Kubu’ Bengu, Botswana CID’s keenest mind, is baffled. Who would kill such a frail old man? The picture becomes even murkier with the apparent suicide of a government official. Are Chinese mine-owners involved? And what role does the US Embassy have to play?

Set amidst the dark beauty of modern Botswana, A Death in the Family is a thrilling insight into a world of riots, corruption and greed, as a complex series of murders presents the opera-loving, wine connoisseur detective with his most challenging case yet. When grief-stricken Kubu defies orders and sets out on the killers’ trail, startling and chilling links emerge, spanning the globe and setting a sequence of shocking events in motion. Will Kubu catch the killers in time … and find justice for his father?”

I am thrilled to welcome you to my stop on the A Death in the Family blog tour.  A Death in the Family is book 5 in the Detective Kubu series written by brilliant writing team, Michael Stanley (Michael Sears and Stanley Trollip).

It’s so good to have Kubu back!  At the start of August I had my first introduction to the very likeable Assistant Superintendent David ‘Kubu’ Bengu when I reviewed the wonderful Deadly Harvest.  If you missed that review, you can check it out by clicking here.  I was so looking forward to catching up with the man affectionately named ‘hippo’ once again and I was not disappointed!  It was a joy to read this book so soon after Deadly Harvest as the characters and the stunning setting of Botswana, were still fresh in my mind.

Assistant Superintendent Bengu receives a call in the middle of the night telling him that his father is dead.  A parent passing is bad enough but Kubu’s world crumbles when he discovers his father has been murdered.  He’s keen to start working on the case but Director Mabaku puts a halt on any involvement immediately.  Instead Kubu is tasked with investigating the apparent suicide of a government official.  Elsewhere the people of Shoshong are on the brink of catastrophe.  Having been offered jobs, the young men are keen to encourage the expansion of the local Chinese-run mine, but the Chief and Elders are more concerned about upholding tradition.  Anger starts to build and is set to erupt with explosive consequences.  Chock full of suspense, intrigue and corruption; will Kubu manage to find the cause of the official’s death, and more importantly, can he discover who killed his elderly father…?

I was surprisingly saddened by Kubu’s father’s death, having only met him once before in Deadly Harvest.  He seemed like such a kind gentle man that I found his murder quite unsettling (I’d read the back of the book and was fully expecting it – maybe I’m just a softie!).  I fell a little more in love with Kubu this time around, despite him being a relatively normal kind of guy and not my usual dark and dangerous detective.  You find out a lot more about him and what makes him tick in this book.  My feelings towards Samantha Khama haven’t changed one iota, I still dislike the woman!  She really doesn’t do herself any favours in my eyes. So I was rather pleased that Kubu was a touch colder towards her.

The plot was clever, intricate and interesting throughout.  My husband studied geology at university so we had a lovely chat about mining for minerals and rare earth elements (he chatted, I listened…I’m still none the wiser!).

I’m still amazed that two people can write so well together yet make it sound like one voice. Just goes to show what fantastic writer’s Mr Sears and Mr Trollip are!

Would I recommend this book?  I most certainly would.  I think it works well as a standalone.  I, however, enjoyed it more because the characters and the landscapes were familiar to me.  A cleverly written police procedural which is full of mystery and suspense featuring some wonderful characters – what’s not to love?

Four out of five stars.

Many thanks to Karen Sullivan at Orenda Books for providing me with a copy of A Death in the Family in exchange for an honest review.

A Death in the Family by Michael Stanley was published in the UK by Orenda Books on 15th July 2016 and is available in paperback and eBook formats | amazon.co.uk | amazon.com | Waterstones | Goodreads | Orenda Books |

Smith & Sons (11)

A1tzuKdGl0L._UX250_Michael Stanley is the writing team of Michael Sears and Stanley Trollip. Both were born in South Africa and have worked in academia and business. Stanley was an educational psychologist, specialising in the application of computers to teaching and learning, and is a pilot. Michael specialises in image processing and remote sensing, and teaches at the University of the Witwatersrand. On a flying trip to Botswana, they watched a pack of hyenas hunt, kill, and devour a wildebeest, eating both flesh and bones. That gave them the premise for their first mystery, A Carrion Death, which introduced Detective ‘Kubu’ Bengu of the Botswana Criminal Investigation Department. It was a finalist for five awards, including the CWA Debut Dagger. The series has been critically acclaimed, and their third book, Death of the Mantis, won the Barry Award and was a finalist for an Edgar award. Deadly Harvest was a finalist for an International Thriller Writers’ award. The next in the Detective Kubu series is A Death in the Family, also published by Orenda Books.  Connect with Michael Stanley via Twitter @detectivekubu.

 

*Cover Reveal* Sealskin by Su Bristow

 

Today is a very special day here at damppebbles.  Today I am thrilled (BEYOND thrilled!) to have a stunning cover reveal to share with you.  And I’m honoured to share this cover reveal with the lovely Liz over at Liz Loves Books.

The book in question is the beautiful Sealskin written by debut award-winning author Su Bristow.  Sealskin is an exquisite retelling of the selkie legend, prominent in folklore across the globe and retold with a modern twist.

Karen at Orenda Books is thrilled to have acquired the World English Language Rights for Sealskin and says, ‘I was swept away by this simply beautiful book – a flawless retelling of a legend that features in the folklore of so many nations. Set in a Scottish fishing village, Sealskin is an exquisitely written, subtle story of a small community’s response to difference, studying the nuances of personal relationships and how an outside influence recasts and fortifies social ties. Every character, every relationship, every aspect of the setting and the story is finely drawn, with a compelling timelessness that is at once relevant and able to transport us to a different world. Sujata has an extraordinary talent for exploring social dynamics, tradition and the innate human capacity for forgiveness, acceptance and care, and this is an exceptional book on many, many levels.’

And now for that beautiful cover…

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Absolutely breathtaking and one for the TBR.  We do have a tiny wait as Sealskin will be published by Orenda Books in early Spring 2017 (don’t worry, it’ll be Christmas before we know it…).  Until then keep an eye on the Orenda Books website for updates on this beautiful novel.