Her Husbands Lover by Julia Crouch – a review

During the festival back in July there was a twitter competition to win a copy of Julia Crouch’s new novel, Her Husband’s Lover. I had completely forgotten about the competition until I received a copy of the novel through my door. I am a huge fan of Julia, having once had the privilege to be on her table during a murder mystery dinner, so this was very exciting.

There is of course a problem when you read novels by people who you really like. There is always the danger they won’t live up to the previous ones. Well I need not have worried, as this was superb.

her-husbands-lover Her Husband’s lover starts with Louisa recovering from a car crash in which both her husband and her two children died. In order to recover she moves away from the house they lived in and gets herself a new flat and job in a big city. Unfortunately her husband’s lover Sophie is not quite so happy to move on and tracks her down demanding that Louisa giver her money.

This was an excellent novel that I really enjoyed. It starts off as a relatively simple tale of  an abused wife trying to rebuild her life whilst trying not to let her husband’s mistress ruin her life even more. Yet it soon unravels into something altogether more chilling. The story is told mainly from the viewpoints of Louisa and Sophie with flashbacks to the time of Louisa’s marriage to Sam. This gives a real sense of a slow unfolding drama that positively ramps up the tension.

The writing is as usual superb, and you are drawn into the lives of the two main characters. Yet as you read you start to get an uneasy feeling about everything. The ending itself was incredibly disturbing and it will stay with you even when the book is back on the shelf. As with all of Julia’s novels the characters are incredibly realistic and you quickly get drawn into their lives.

I would thoroughly recommend all of Julia’s novels but personally I think this is one of the best. It was certainly worth the twitter picture.


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Killer Women

killter-woemn-crime-writing-festival-2016I am quite used to getting strange looks off friends and colleagues when I’m asked about my weekend plans. My penchant for heavy metal music, combined with a love of crime novels, Coronation Street and horse riding regularly leads to a look of confusion when the question is asked. Usually followed by a mumbled ok before they back quickly away. This weekend was no exception. People seemed to run away even quicker than normal, when I announced I’m off to the Killer Women Festival in London.

Luckily for Mr F this wasn’t an instructional day on how to do away with your partner (although I think I met a lot of people there who might be able to help with ideas on that front) It was the first ever festival organised by a fantastic group of mainly London based crime writers, collectively known as the Killer Women.

The event was held in Shoreditch Town Hall and was a fabulous mix of panel discussions, author interviews and workshops. As soon as the programme had been released, I started by circling all the sessions I wanted to attend. This seemed like a sensible plan until I realised that actually I wanted to see them all. Therefore, on the day, me and the Sister decided we’d adopt a divide and conquer approach and split up so we could see as much as possible.

The day passed by way too quickly, in a blur of crime, books and our festival pastime of author spotting. Martina Cole, one of my favourite authors, had us all in stitches as she talked about her life and her novels. There was an interesting workshop on how to write a successful book blog with Ayo Onatade of Shots magazine, apparently her blog gets on average five hundred hits a day (Very similar to acrimereadersblog – well the five part anyway) I was entertained by Mark Billingham and Douglas Henshall amongst others in Serial Thrillers, although I’m not convinced that the Great British Body Off would be a big hit. I heard a discussion about being Inside a killers head with authors including Jane Casey and Tammy Cohen. This was a truly terrifying line up, never mind inside a killers head, inside a female crime writers head is much more disturbing! There was even a session where I learnt about solving a crime, with two real life detectives. Having been shown the building blocks of solving a crime I went into the interactive ‘Murder mystery session’ pretty confident that I could solve it quicker than Miss Marple could say knit one purl one. Only to be put in my place rather smartly when I got the answer completely wrong.

The whole day was absolutely superb, it was a lovely relaxed atmosphere, and you can’t beat a day that ends in some killer women cocktails. I would thoroughly recommend this event to anyone interested in reading or writing crime fiction. If next year we could throw in some heavy metal, and a Coronation Street actor on horseback it really would be a perfect day.

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The Two O’Clock Boy by Mark Hill – a review


I was given a copy of this via netgalley and the publishers Little Brown Book group.

This is the debut novel by Mark Hill, who has previously been known as Crime Thriller Fella on his book review blog.

The Two O’Clock Boy opens with a young boy, killing his parents. Back in the present day DS Flick Crowley is given her first big case to lead on. A man and his family have been murdered in their home. Other murders soon follow, and it becomes clear to Flick that they are all somehow linked to a children’s home in the eighties. Unfortunately her superior DI Drake isn’t convinced and pushes her to investigate other avenues. However as the murders continue they have to start working together to find out if they can stop the Two O’Clock Boy.

Having read this story straight after an altogether gentler read by Francis Brody it came as a bit of a shock to the system. Which is not a criticism at all – this is how I like my crime, gritty, dirty and brutal. The book flips between the current investigation into the crimes, and flashbacks to the children’s home. Gradually what happened to the boys and girls in the home become clear, as does the reason behind the present day murders.

This was a book that did cause me a little confusion. Whilst I thoroughly enjoyed it, I did feel that some of it was a little bit unrealistic, relying as it did on people not recognising other people. I also felt that the way DS Crowley was treated by DI Drake was something that would have caused red flags instantly to someone who was a good detective.

However putting that aside, I thought this was an excellent debut. I liked the main characters. As all fictional detectives do they have secrets and torments in their pasts however this didn’t take over from the actual plot which can sometimes be the case in a debut.

The twists and turns within the story were interesting, and kept me moving forward at a good pace. There was also some reveals at the end that I didn’t see coming at all which I always like. I thought this was a really good debut that deserves to do well.

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Death at the Seaside by Kate Brody – a review BLOG TOUR

I was lucky enough to receive a copy of this from the publisher. This was the second novel by Francis Brody that I have read this year as Francis was appearing at the festival earlier in the year.

This is not my usual type of reading to be honest, as I usually prefer something with a bit more of a modern twist, however I thoroughly loved this novel.

Kate Shackleton is a private investigator. She usually has a nice quiet August so she decides to treat herself to a little holiday and heads off to visit an old friend in one of my favourite places, Whitby. Of course it would be quite a dull book if it was purely about Kate’s paddling in the sea and eating kippers, so it’s not long before she meets a dead body, and finds out her friends daughter Felicity has gone missing. Felicity has left only a note and a pawn ticket for her mother’s watch guard. The jeweller who took the watch guard also happens to be Felicity’s Mother’s new gentleman friend. Kate obviously gets drags into the investigation and brings along her faithful staff.

This is definitely a story that would be classed as a cosy crime. There is no blood and gore, just a nice gentle mystery albeit with a dead body and some fortune telling thrown in. The novel is a lovely read especially if you know Whitby at all. The descriptions of places Kate visits and walks summon up vivid images of Whitby as it would have been in the 1920’s when the novels are set.

I did feel that the story was a little bit slow in parts. However I suspect that is more down to the difference between this and my usual reading fare, rather than anything wrong with the story itself. This is the kind of novel that you leaves feeling quite cheered up when you finish (despite the dead body) and the ending made me smile.

If you enjoy a nice ‘cosy crime’ novel along the lines of a Miss Marple then you definitely need to pick up some of Francis Brody’s work.

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I have recently started watching The Zoo on TV. For those of you who don’t know, this is not as the name suggests, a nice family show about zoo keepers and their charges. Instead it’s a series based on the James Patterson novel of the same name where animals are essentially taking revenge on humans in the most gruesome ways they can find.

As someone who has often thought how I much prefer animals to people (although I wouldn’t want to be confronted by a grizzly bear in my kitchen especially if I’d just opened a bottle of wine) this is the kind of programme that gives me a slightly satisfied feeling, animals fighting back. It also rather terrifies me though as it may already be happening. I can’t look at a crow without thinking of the Hitchcock film the Birds which I thought was really scary. I don’t think it helped that for the first few times I watched it, back in the days of the good old video tape I never got to watch the end. Either the film was overrunning so it didn’t record all of it, or the video ran out before it had finished. I even once bought a copy from the local charity shop and the tape mangled before I could watch it all the way through (anyone under the age of 40 reading this will have absolutely no idea what all that is about!) That just made the film even creepier if you ask me, did they get away from the birds or not?

Living near a field I often take the nice route to work which involves walking through a herd of young cows.  I like the cows, yet as I walk through them carrying my leather bag I’m sure they are watching me. They can sense that I’m using their grandmother to carry my sandwiches to work (It’s ten years old and was made from recycled leather so it may actually be more like their great great grandmother) I’ve never actually seen them following me, but I know they are. Every time I turn around they stop and pretend to just be going about their business chewing grass but I think it’s all an act they are just trying to plan their next move.

Squirrels are another one to watch out for. I hate spiders and once heard that if you put conkers round the edges of rooms they give off some kind of odour that puts spiders off coming in. So I like to collect conkers for decorations. Yet there I am happily walking along, eyes on the ground, and suddenly get hit by said conkers. These didn’t just fall they were launched from the tree. Exactly at the spot where a nice little squirrel sat smugly grinning away, clearly warning me off of his nuts.

I think we should just be glad that we don’t live in a country where there are crocodiles and bears, and all we have to worry about are squirrels and cows. Just watch an episode of Zoo if you don’t believe me.

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Missing, presumed by Susie Steiner – a review

I was given a copy of this via netgalley.

A young woman called Edith goes missing. Her father is a well-respected surgeon so the authorities quickly take an interest in her whereabouts. Detective Manon spends her evenings listening to the police radio chatter in order to fall asleep. When she hears the case break over the radio, she knows it will be career defining and jumps to investigate.  Edith has had a complicated love life and of course this is what the police focus on, whilst the family are getting more and more desperate for news.

I quite enjoyed this book, although I wasn’t blown away with by it. The main problem for me was that Detective Manon was just annoying. She was single, and this fact seemed to be the main feature of her character. When she wasn’t crying in the toilets about her lack of man, she was going on internet dates that no matter how badly they got on she always invited home. This just seemed at odds with the idea of a smart clever important detective.

The other bit that really annoyed me is hard to explain without giving the plot away but I just found the actions of one of the characters to be completely unbelievable. I’ll leave it at that.

However saying that, despite finding the characters annoying the story itself was interesting. The twists and turns kept coming and I wanted to know what was going to happen.  The writing itself is good, and I found that keeping up with the changing characters points of view was easy as each character was written quite individually. The book is set in Cambridgeshire, and it took me a little while to get my head around the fact that the Deeping they kept going on about was actually the name of their holiday home, they weren’t talking about my old school. Yet putting all the misgivings aside, this book was interesting. It is obviously the start of a series and I will certainly give the next installment a go, I just hope that Manon becomes less Bridget Jones and more Kay Scarpetta by then.



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Only Daughter by Anna Snoestrka – a review

I was given a copy of this via the publisher and as I mentioned in my Q and A with Anna I found this a very enjoyable book.

In 2003 Rebecca Winter goes missing and is never found, one theory being that she perished in a bush fire. 11 years later a young woman turns up desperate after being arrested and claims to be the missing Rebecca. She starts living Rebecca’s life and is welcomed with open arms by her parents and twin brothers. However the imposter soon becomes embroiled in trying to figure out what really happened to Rebecca and ends up in danger herself.

This was a really intriguing concept set in Australia. Can someone persuade a family that they are a missing person? The story is told from the two perspectives of young Rebecca and then the new person pretending to be Rebecca (we don’t get a name) The usual teen angst of a girl shoplifting and fancying boys is mixed with disturbing things happening such as blood in her bed and someone in her room at night. There is also then the account of the imposter and the lengths she will go to in order to not be found out, whilst also trying to find out what really happened to Rebecca.

I must confess that to me this had a bit of a dip in the middle, it starts off really well and I couldn’t put it down. Yet neither of the characters were particularly likeable. Fake Bec clearly lacks morals which does mean you lack empathy with her, yet there is still enough about her that you want to know what is going to happen.  Even though you care about the truth there is a certain detachment felt to both the main characters which made me run out of steam with it a bit. Yet this all changes in the last part of the story with things taking a really terrifying twist.

Overall this was a very interesting book, with a ending that will certainly keep you on your toes. To find out more about Anne read my q and a.


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