My fiction wish list is never-ending…

I had a conversation with a fellow book club member about titles we want to read.  I was talking about a specific title and I guess I was raving…. Gulp! Who me? Rave about a book????   Anyway, she said “I guess you’re going to read that one next”.  “No”, I said. “It is number 124 on my TBR.  I have over one hundred titles that I have made commitments to review and they must come first.”

Her reply?  “What’s the fun in that?”

Her response got me thinking.  Since I have agreed to review all these titles (the majority of which I’m sure will be great reads), I feel I must read them first.  And then, if I’m being honest with myself, I have to accept the fact that before I read them all, I will have agreed to review some more.  This pushes my personal wish list further and further away… However, life is short, and why shouldn’t I read a few titles that I’m really looking forward to?

What a dilemma!  What do YOU think?to-be-read

Anyway, here are the top ten titles I’m going to read AFTER I finish my review  They are all either mysteries or thrillers, so I guess it is obvious what my preferences are as to genre.


The hope that kills” by Ed James

(1st in a new Scottish police procedural – I’ve read one of Ed James’ other books and really enjoyed it.)




Whisky from small glasses” by Denzil Meyrick

(another 1st in a Scottish police procedural)





When she was bad” by Tammy Cohen

(I’ve never read this author, but this was recommended by several of my Goodreads friends with tastes similar to mine)




Lie with me” by Sabine Durrant

(I’ve loved all the other titles of hers that I have read)





Rubbernecker” by Belinda Bauer

(one of my favorite authors + recommended highly by a friend)



herHer” by Harriet Lane

(recommended to me by several friends)



long-way-homeLong way home” by Eva Dolan

(first in a series of British police procedurals – and it has a GREAT cover)



behind-closed-doorsBehind closed doors” by B.A. Paris

(I’ve never read this author, but this was recommended by several of my Goodreads friends with tastes similar to mine)


coffin-roadCoffin road” by Peter May

(one of my favorite authors – I think his work is fabulous – AND it has a great cover)





For reasons unknown” by Michael Wood (first in a British crime series)


Oh, and by the way, I DO enjoy other genres and have a wish list of those as well.  But alas… that is for another blog post, another day.


Posted in 1st in series, Choosing what to read next, Fiction, Mystery fiction, Psychological thrillers | Tagged , , , , , | 20 Comments

“Under the harrow” by Flynn Berry

An outstanding debut thriller, “Under the harrow” is a ‘harrowing‘, disturbing, yet compelling read with a twist that is more like a hairpin curve.


Nora Lawrence is a writer whose day job is working for a landscape designer. We first meet Nora, our protagonist/narrator, when she leaves London by train to visit her sister Rachel. Rachel , a nurse, lives in an old farmhouse outside of Oxford.   Rachel’s job seemed to be stressing her out more than usual of late so Nora intends to cheer her up with a bottle of wine and a weekend of long heart-to-heart chats. What she finds when she arrives at her sister’s farmhouse forever changes her life.

Nora is demented with grief.

Her grief and anguish is palpable.  She is stunned with shock.  She thinks of things she wants to tell Rachel and is in denial of her death.  She cannot believe that Rachel will never again listen to her favorite music, watch a film, eat her favorite foods, etc. She cannot believe that her life can go on without her sister, best-friend, and favorite person, Rachel.  She cannot fathom a future without Rachel in it. Nora begins to feel survivor’s guilt.  She is now quite alone in the world.

When just a teenager, Rachel was viciously attacked.  Could her murderer be the same man?  For years afterward, both sisters actively sought to find this man who had escaped justice.

The police investigation into Rachel’s murder is headed by D.I. Moretti from the Thames Valley Police station in Abingdon.  He conducts a thorough investigation, but with little result.  His DS Lewis becomes over-friendly with Nora…thames-valley-police-car

Then, she finds that her sister has kept things from her.    For instance, they both loved Cornwall and had spent a delightful time there the previous summer.  It seems as though Rachel had planned to move to Cornwall and had already rented a flat there… and without telling Nora!

The reader becomes uneasy…

The writing is equally riveting and beautiful.  It carries the reader along with its perfect descriptive phrases and emotional torment. It contains vivid depictions of raw and tortuous grief whilst at the same time causing an overwhelming feeling of foreboding in the reader.  Is Nora who we understand her to be?  She seems to be developing a side to her personality that unsettles the reader enough for them to think badly of her…  Could Nora be psychotic? Or has Rachel’s murder caused her to become unhinged?

This debut is nothing short of exceptional. cornwall-beach-steps I loved every moment of reading it and found myself reading when I should have been doing other things.  If I can think of one tiny flaw, it would be that the ending seemed a tad rushed.  That being said, the ending was very satisfactory and tied up the narrative well.

Under the harrow” will be near the TOP of my best of 2016 list.  I can’t recommend it highly enough!F 5 star

Flynn Berry has a tough act to follow to better her first novel.  I look forward to her future novels with eager anticipation.

Thanks to Penguin Books via Edelweiss for providing me with a digital copy of this novel in exchange for my honest review.about-the-author-pink



Flynn Berry is a graduate of the Michener Center and has been awarded a Yaddo residency. She graduated from Brown University. Under the Harrow is her first novel.



The title is taken from a C.S. Lewis quote: “Come, what do we gain by evasions? We are under the harrow and can’t escape”. (from “A Grief Oberserved”)


Posted in Debut novels, Edelweiss title, Favorite books, Fiction, Page turners, Psychological thrillers, Recommended reading, Writing | Tagged , , , , , | 11 Comments

“Then she was gone” by Luca Veste

Yes, I know… I’ve arrived late to the party.  I’ve been hearing good reviews about Luca Veste‘s novels for some time on Goodreads and I’m only now reading one of them.

then-she-was-gone-on-kindleIt was worth the wait!

Although “Then she was gone” is the 4th novel in the DI David Murphy and DS Laura Rossi series, I had no trouble reading it having missed out on the first three.  The author alluded to events in previous novels which kept me abreast of the status quo as to the personal lives of the protagonists.  One traumatic event in particular makes me want to go back and read the first three novels.

Royal Liver Building Liverpool, England

Royal Liver Building
Liverpool, England

Set in the northern English city of Liverpool, the story begins with a young father pushing his infant daughter through a park in her pram.  He is attacked and the baby is gone. Despite his claims, the police say they have investigated and there never was a baby… They say he invented a story about a woman named Lauren and a daughter named Molly…images

Then, when we meet up with the police protagonists they are tasked with a missing person’s case. This is below their remit as they are homicide detectives.  The reason they are put on the case is due to the fact that the missing person is running for parliament.  As a few days pass, they realize that their being put on this case was a self-fulfilling prophecy.

Psychopathic pond scum

It turns out that Sam Byrne, the twenty-seven year old missing MP candidate, was sexist, psychopathic pond scum masquerading as a handsome, physically fit politician in a tailored suit.  He founded a club in university called the Abercromby Boys Club.  He was ambitious, greedy, power hungry, arrogant… and sadistic.  The club’s motto?  Isolate. Inebriate. Penetrate.  That was what they did to the young women who were invited to the club’s legendary parties.  When and if complaints occurred they relied on their influential families to get them off the hook.  They were all handsome and clever –  so expected the university to turn a blind eye.

I really liked DI David Murphy’s character.  Tall and gangly, he is a technophobe, resistant to change and social media.  He is happily married to Sarah, who has just decided to return to university to study psychology.  They have just moved house as their old house held some traumatic memories.police-hats_500x199

Laura Rossi, his Detective sergeant and valued partner, was also an intriguing character. Of Italian descent, she comes from a family with five brothers. She is a good copper who has been very loyal to Murphy over the years of their working in tandem.  On this case however, she seems secretive and remote…. Is she hiding something from Murphy?

As the body count increases the police begin to believe that what they suspect might be true.

If you’re wondering just how the Sam Byrne case and the case of the missing baby, Molly are connected… Well, I guess you’ll just have to read this novel and discover it for yourself.

“When it’s one word against another, those without power always lose”.

This is a well-rendered, character-rich, British police procedural.  A novel of revenge, guilt,  atonement, and of lives ruined.  I would highly recommend this series to all who enjoy a good mystery/crime thriller.  Though some events in the novel were predictable, there was a good twist near the end that readers will appreciate.  When time permits I plan to revisit this series and start at the beginning.  Wish me luck!F 4 star

Here are the great book covers of this series so far: (including a mid-series novella)


Thanks to Simon & Schuster UK via NetGalley for allowing me the pleasure of reading this novel in digital format.



Luca Veste is married with two young daughters. He is a former civil servant, actor, singer and guitarist.

He is the author of the Murphy and Rossi novels
which are part psychological thriller, part police procedural.

His novels have been bestsellers in both paperback and ebook. He was born and raised on Merseyside, living on both sides of the River Mersey. He is also second generation Italian and one of nine children.

Posted in Dustjackets, Mystery fiction, NetGalley title, Psychological thrillers, Recommended reading, Series order | Tagged , , , , , | 6 Comments

“The murder of Halland” by Pia Juul

What a clever, enigmatic, and disorientating book!

The Murder of Halland by Pia Juul. Translated by Martin Aitken.

Bess is a writer.  A grieving, eccentric, bizarre writer who drinks more than she writes. Her husband Halland has been shot.

The story is told solely from Bess’s point of view.  Since she is drunk a lot of the time, this view can be skewed and whimsical, not to mention peculiar. Bess seems to be struggling and fighting her way out of a murky gloaming.  She seems confused and disorientated.  Is is just her way of dealing with loss?

Halland is Bess’s second husband.  She left her first husband and her daughter to be with Halland. She has been estranged from her daughter, Abby ever since.  Recently, the handsome and much older Halland has been ill. Bess longs to be reconnected with her daughter…

First, let me state categorically that this is NOT a murder mystery.  We don’t know who killed Halland at the beginning of the book, nor do we know at the end.  This is more a book about grief, guilt, and of course, love.

Even though the writing is wonderful and almost like the poetry that the author is famous for, I cannot in good conscience give this more than four stars.  That doesn’t mean that it is not deserving of more, only that my personal taste considers it just a bit too quirky to merit five.  Bess was just too ‘out there’ for me to genuinely connect with her on a personal level.

I recommend this literary novella to everyone on the basis of the brilliant writing and the fact that reading it causes the reader to become ruminative and introspective.

Kudos go out to Martin Aitken who translated “The murder of Halland” from the Danish losing none of its profound nuances.

The murder of Halland” won Denmark’s most prestigious literary prize, Danske Banks Litteraturpris.

Thanks to Coach House Books via Edelweiss for providing me with a digital copy of this novella in exchange for my candid review.

F 4 star




Pia Juul has published nine books of poetry, three short story collections and two novels. The Murder of Halland won Denmark’s most important literary prize, Den Danske Banks Litteraturpris. She lives in Frederiksberg, Denmark.

Posted in Edelweiss title, Fiction, Literary fiction, Novels in translation, Scandinavian, Writing | Tagged , , , , , | 4 Comments

20 Questions with David Young (author of Stasi Child)

David Young interview graphic

I am delighted to have novelist David Young visit my blog today!  Author of the award-winning debut thriller “Stasi Child“, David has graciously consented to an interview.

Thanks so much David!

  1. Congratulations on your three book deal with Bonnier Zaffre! What was the most instrumental factor in your success as a debut novelist?

Rejection! Stasi Child was rejected by UK publishers in the first round of submissions by my agent, which at the time was a body blow. But this was softened when French publishers Fleuve Éditions said they wanted to do a deal irrespective of whether it got published in the UK, and Euston Films took out an option on the TV rights. Then without warning me in advance, my agent – Adam Gauntlett at PFD in London – did a small second round of submissions. Bonnier had just launched their UK adult fiction arm – and signed up Stasi Child as one of their launch titles. So I got the benefit of a new publisher wanting to make its mark and putting their full weight behind my book. They persuaded the big retailers in the UK to take it, and the paperback broke into the official top twenty chart.

  1. How long did it take to get “Stasi Child” published?

Notwithstanding that first round of rejections, I was quite lucky. I signed up for a two-year Creative Writing MA at City University London in autumn 2012 and before the end of the course had an agent for Stasi Child – which started as a chapter written for an exercise in Setting on the course. The book was shortlisted for (and subsequently won) City’s crime fiction novel prize and at that point Adam said he wanted to represent me. The TV option and French deal followed swiftly afterwards, with the UK book deal a few months later. Idea to e-book publication was exactly three years.

  1. How long did the writing process take? And… how much of that time was spent researching the novel?

I completed the first draft in about two months, while on sick leave from the day job. I’d suffered a serious DVT in my leg after a push-bike accident – although, to be honest, sitting writing at a computer was the worst possible rehabilitation! The dose of warfarin blood thinner I was on was fairly strong, and it made me feel awful. Like constantly having flu. So Stasi Child was written in a warfarin fog. I researched as I wrote – I didn’t stop until the final draft.

  1. Are re-writes part of your writing process?

Unfortunately, yes! I’d much rather get it right first time and have done with it. Does anyone ever achieve that?

  1. Did you have family and/or friends proof-read your novel, or did you depend on your publisher’s editorial staff?

The actual proof-reading was down to the publishing staff and myself. But the book passed through many hands and rewrites before it saw the light of day. On the MA course, crime authors Claire McGowan and Laura Wilson were my tutors and had huge input. Fellow students swapped full drafts on the MA, and an East German who now works in BBC News also kindly read it and offered comments. Even after all this, my agent and publisher still had lots of changes they wanted!

  1. Your book is set in 1970s East Germany. Why did you pick this time period?

As a distraction from the increasingly unfulfilling day job as a desk-bound broadcast news journalist, I’d started writing songs and performing with my own indiepop band. We blagged a tour of Germany and most of the places that booked us were in the eastern part of the now re-united country. I was fascinated about how the legacy of the GDR was evident everywhere, and read Anna Funder’s excellent non-fiction Stasiland between gigs. That later sparked the idea I developed on the MA course.

  1. Did you visit Germany whilst writing “Stasi Child”?

Absolutely! The research trips are vital. It’s the part of my new life I enjoy most.

  1. I live in the democratic and privileged country of Canada. Learning about the social structure and culture of East Germany was quite an eye-opener.  Have you always been interested in German culture and history?

Up to a point. I specialised in modern history in my undergraduate degree and developed an interest in the communist world then – although it was more the Soviet Union, rather than the GDR. But I never visited either of them. I wish I had!

  1. Although you are a debut novelist you previously had a career in journalism. How did your journalistic experience help with the writing of “Stasi Child”?

The writing process is very different. But it’s still writing – and so you do get a lot of journalists becoming novelists. I was working in the BBC World Service newsroom when the Berlin Wall fell, and still remember the looks of confusion on the faces of communist leaders. So it helped in that way.

  1. Your protagonist is Karin Müller, a policewoman in communist East Berlin. Was it difficult for you to write from a female prospective?

I had two female tutors on the MA course at City, so they pulled me up on a few things. I enjoyed doing it, but it’s for others to say whether I’ve pulled it off. I think there’s been one review saying Karin has a very ‘male’ sexuality. But then I’ve met women like that …

  1. “Stasi Child” alludes that Karin Müller has a traumatic past. Though some of this was divulged in “Stasi Child”, will we learn more about her past in your next book?

Yes. Book two is called Stasi Wolf, and it’s due out in the UK in February 2017. Karin’s past – and her childhood – comes much more into play.

  1. Have you ever been so wrapped up in your characters that you dream about them at night?

I don’t think so, but I did recently devote a whole week to intense writing of the first draft of Book 3. I did four days on the trot of sixteen-hour days of solid writing. So all I was thinking about was the characters and the story. I enjoyed it, but was exhausted by the end.

  1. I feel all writers must also be avid readers. What type of books do you read for pleasure?

It’s a terrible admission, but I don’t read as much as I should. On the MA course, I was the one trying to negotiate with the tutors to reduce the amount of compulsory reading. I tend to read mostly on holidays, but not solely crime or thrillers. My favourite books of recent years have been Alone in Berlin by Hans Fallada and The Thousand Autumns of Jacob De Zoet by David Mitchell. I’m currently reading a non-fiction book about an 18th century English sex scandal with a standalone novel idea in mind.

  1. If you could sit and enjoy a chat and beer with another crime novelist – who would it be?

I’m quite shy and not a great beer drinker so I wouldn’t be rushing to do it. Perhaps if my football team Hull City beat Arsenal next week (September 17th) I might choose Rod Reynolds (author of The Dark Inside and Black Night Falling, Faber) as he’s an Arsenal fan, and I could taunt him about it.

  1. What crime thriller novelist writing today do you most admire? Why?

Possibly William Ryan as I love his Captain Korolev series set in Soviet Russia, and also thought his recently published standalone – The Constant Soldier – was superb. His novels are so atmospheric and believable, but are excellent page-turners too.

  1. What current novelist do you feel is underrated or deserves to be more well known? (I like to ask this question because it gives me and my readers fodder for our TBRs!)

I’d refer you to question 14. Both of Rod Reynold’s books are fantastic. That such authentic American Noir has been written by a Brit is amazing. I love the post WW2 time period they’re set in, too. I’m sure it won’t be very long before he’s a big star of the crime fiction world.

  1. There is something so appealing about the cover of “Stasi Child”. Did you have any part in choosing the cover?

Yes, my publishers were kind enough to include me in the process and took some of my ideas on board – like the wall, watchtowers and TV tower. At the same time they rejected, quite correctly, some of my dafter ideas (for example I wanted the Berlin TV tower to form the letter ‘i’ of Karin Müller as a kind of trademark for the series!). Bookshops always say what a great cover it is. If you look carefully at the footprints in the snow, there’s also an important piece of evidence which features in the plot.stasi-child

  1. What part of your new career as a novelist do you dislike the most?

Although I’ve had some modest success with Stasi Child, I’m not sure I’ve got a ‘career’ as a novelist yet. Let’s see how Books 2 and 3 do first! I feel incredibly fortunate to be doing what I’m doing, but there are still things I dislike about it. Firstly, it’s horribly precarious, secondly (unless you’re a huge star) making a living from it is very difficult, and thirdly, you have to network. And I absolutely loathe networking.

  1. What interview question have you not been asked yet that you wish had been asked – and what’s the answer?

What’s your favourite song? My favourite song is Rip It Up by Orange Juice. You can watch the video here: You might not think there’s a link to my book, but there is. Rip It Up got me into Orange Juice and their frontman Edwyn Collins. When Edwyn nearly died from two catastrophic strokes, I wrote him a tribute song (Edwyn Collins Is Back) which he said some lovely things about on Myspace. His quote helped us get our little German tour, which in turn sparked the idea for Stasi Child. So it all leads back to Rip It Up, and a great song it is too.

  1. How do you wish to be contacted by ‘fans’? Do you prefer Facebook? Twitter? Your own blog?

My website has a contact page on it. At Twitter I’m @djy_writer. I’m on Facebook but not very good at it.

Thanks for having me, Lynne and Fictionophile!

My pleasure David!  I wish you every success in your new career as a novelist and will be sure to watch for your upcoming novels AND the TV adaption of “Stasi Child”!  Congratulations!

David’s novel “Stasi Child” can be purchased or pre-ordered at the following retailers:


Posted in author interviews, Authors, Debut novels | Tagged , , | 4 Comments

“Stasi Child” by David Young

An original and accomplished debut thriller, “Stasi Child” is a compelling police procedural set in 1970s Cold War Germany.

Publisher’s blurb: 

East Berlin, 1975: When Oberleutnant Karin Müller is called to investigate a girl’s body at the foot of the Wall, she realizes this is a death like no other. It seems the girl was trying to escape – but from the West. The Stasi want her to discover the identity of the girl, but assure Müller the case is otherwise closed. This is not a regime that tolerates a curious mind, and Müller doesn’t realize that the trail she’s following will lead her dangerously close to home…burgswirlUnlike any police procedural I’ve read before, this novel is set in Berlin – before the wall came down. The plot is intricate but well rendered so that even the many unfamiliar names, places and references do not detract from its enjoy-ability.

The book, though fiction, was meticulously researched and taught me a lot about the culture and history of socialist East Berlin.  Although very familiar with books set during the war with references to the German SS, I was NOT familiar with the term ‘Stasi’.  Stasi is the commonly used name for The Ministry for State Security. The Stasi were a secret police force whose mandate was to spy on the general population.  To further their mandate they utilized a network of informants.stasi-emblem-212x300

The book is told in two principal voices, the first being that of the policewoman Karin Müller.  A young woman, she is the first female to head the homicide division of the People’s Police.  Childless, she is married to a teacher named Gottfried, yet is very attracted to her deputy, Tilsner.  Karin is a loyal citizen who (for the most part) believes in the fairness of her socialist country.  Her past holds some very traumatic memories which come to light over the course of the story.

Karin is tasked with finding the identity of the dead girl.  A teenager who was viciously murdered and then mutilated to hide her identity making Karin’s task an arduous one.  She is to work in cooperation with a Stasi officer named Jäger whom she doesn’t completely trust.  For that matter, she doesn’t completely trust her deputy Tilsner either.

The second voice of the story is that of Irma Behrendt.  A young teenage girl who is in a sort of reform school called a Jugendwerkhof, on the island of Rügen.  Here she and her best friend, Beate endure hardship and abuse.

I love it when the title of a book fits the story as much as this one did.  The author makes the choice of title abundantly clear in the narrative.

This book contains a glossary of German terms and phrases.  Very helpful to the reader if you are reading a paper book, but not so helpful to those, like me, who read the book electronically.  I didn’t discover the glossary until after I’d finished the book.

This is an authentic story of corruption and lost innocence. A novel that shows to what lengths people will go to fulfill their desires. It is a novel with a bleak and chilling atmosphere that lends itself well to the plot. At times brutal, the narrative was set during the winter (as the cover suggests). This book will appeal to a wide audience, both male and female.  Anyone who enjoys thrillers, historical fiction, political/spy stories, and of course police-procedural mysteries.

This is David Young’s debut novel and the first of a proposed trilogy.  I very much look forward to visiting Karin Müller again in his next book, “The Stasi Wolf“.

Watch this space!

I’m delighted to inform you that David Young has consented to an interview on this blog.  Coming soon…


Thanks to Bonnier Publishing/Twenty7Books via NetGalley for providing me with a digital copy of this novel in exchange for my unbiased review.


david_young_medDavid Young was born near Hull, England. Temporary jobs cleaning ferry toilets and driving a butcher’s van were followed by a career in journalism with provincial newspapers, a London news agency, and the BBC’s international newsrooms where he led news teams for the World Service radio and World TV.

David was a student on the inaugural Crime Thriller MA at City University – winning the course prize in 2014 for his debut novel Stasi Child – and now writes full-time in his garden shed.

Stasi Child is the first of three books in the Oberleutnant Karin Müller series – set in 1970s communist East Germany. Stasi Child has been optioned for TV by Euston Films (Minder, The Sweeney etc). Translation rights have so far been sold to France.

Posted in 1st in series, Debut novels, Historical fiction, Mystery fiction, NetGalley title, Page turners, Recommended reading, Setting, Spy stories, Suspense | Tagged , , , , , , , , , | 6 Comments

“Dangerous minds” by Priscilla Masters

Publisher’s description:dangerous-minds

When she receives a wedding invitation from one of her former patients, forensic psychiatrist Dr Claire Roget is more than a little alarmed. Highly intelligent and manipulative, Jerome Barclay suffers from a severe personality disorder. Although she has never been able to prove it, Claire believes him to be highly dangerous, responsible for at least three suspicious deaths – and she fears for the safety of his new bride. What’s more, Jerome seems to know rather too much about Claire’s personal and professional life, including intimate details concerning her other patients. What sinister game is he playing?

With no proof as to Jerome’s possibly murderous intentions, Claire’s hands are tied. Can she prevent a tragedy unfolding? And is Claire herself at risk?

Priscilla MastersPriscilla Masters is the author of more than twenty crime novels and has retired from her job as a respiratory nurse in the Royal Shrewsbury Hospital. She has two main series characters:

Joanna Piercy is a detective inspector in Leek, Staffordshire and features in 13 mystery novels. A freewheeling, cycling enthusiast. and psychology graduate she uses her knowledge and instincts to solve cases together with her Polish body building Sergeant Mike Korpanski.

Martha Gunn is the Shrewsbury coroner, a widow with twins; who features in five novels.

Priscilla Masters also uses her nursing experience and medical family to write standalone medical mysteries.

Posted in 1st in series, Mystery fiction, NetGalley title | Tagged , , , , | 1 Comment