Monday, 22 April 2019

Blog Tour ~ Perfect Crime by Helen Fields

Jaffareadstoo is delighted to host today's stop on the Perfect Crime Blog Tour

Perfect Crime (A DI Callanach Thriller #5)
18 April 2019

My thanks to the publishers for my copy of this book and to Sabah for the invitation to be part of the blog tour

Your darkest moment is your most vulnerable…

Stephen Berry is about to jump off a bridge until a suicide prevention counsellor stops him. A week later, Stephen is dead. Found at the bottom of a cliff, DI Luc Callanach and DCI Ava Turner are drafted in to investigate whether he jumped or whether he was pushed…

As they dig deeper, more would-be suicides roll in: a woman found dead in a bath; a man violently electrocuted. But these are carefully curated deaths – nothing like the impulsive suicide attempts they’ve been made out to be.

Little do Callanach and Turner know how close their perpetrator is as, across Edinburgh, a violent and psychopathic killer gains more confidence with every life he takes…

My thoughts..

People attempting suicide makes for uncomfortable reading but in the hands of this talented writer what soon emerges in Perfect Crime is a tight action packed story which involves the Major Investigative Team in a complicated enquiry in which all their skills of deduction are stretched to the absolute limit. DCI Ava Turner and DI Luc Callanach are both senior detectives with the MIT and as such need to keep a tight control on the general operational ability of the team. Those who have read the previous four books in the Perfect series will know that Turner and Callanach have a certain amount of history together, and it was fascinating to see this relationship hitch up a notch with some interesting consequences.

The dark crimes at the heart of the story are both complex and twisted, and the chapters which get into the mind of the perpetrator are really quite disturbing but add a real insight in the mind of a calculated killer. However, it is in the nitty gritty of the crime investigation where the story really starts to take off with Turner, and more particularly Callanach, becoming an integral part of the investigation as the story takes a very dark turn indeed.

I raced through Perfect Crime in less than a day as I really couldn't put the book down until I had discovered just what was happening, hoping against hope that it would all be resolved in the end. The conclusion, when it comes, is everything you want it to be and, of course, there is the opportunity for this series to return in the future with yet more dark and complex investigations for the Major Investigative Team.

The DI Callanach series is set in Scotland, where Helen feels most at one with world. 
Helen and her husband now live in Los Angeles with her husband and three children.

Twitter @Helen_Fields #PerfectCrime


Sunday, 21 April 2019

Author Interview ~ Harriet Steel

I'm delighted to welcome back to the blog the author of the Inspector de Silva novels

Harriet Steel

Hi Harriet, welcome back to Jaffareadstoo, it's lovely to have you back to talk about your latest novel, Passage from Nuala. 

Passage from Nuala is now the sixth book in your crime series set in 1930’s Ceylon. When you wrote the first book, Trouble in Nuala, in 2016, did you expect to go on to write a long running series?

The number 7 has a bit of a history as a magic number in literature, for example the seven Chronicles of Narnia or the seven Harry Potter books, and I used to joke that I was aiming for seven books in my series. In truth, I must admit that I was far from convinced that I’d come anywhere near that, but I’ve grown very fond of my characters and many readers say they feel the same, so that has spurred me on. The other day, a reviewer on Amazon challenged me to match Alexander McCall Smith whose No 1 Ladies Detective Agency Series is about to reach its twentieth instalment. I’m still mulling that one over! 

What can you tell us about this latest book that won’t give too much of the plot away?

Shanti wants to treat Jane to a holiday, and they set off on a cruise to Egypt to visit Cairo and the pyramids. They plan to enjoy a relaxing change from home, but trouble isn’t long coming. When a journalist is found dead, killed by newspaper thrust down his throat, it’s back to work for Shanti and Jane. In the enclosed world of the cruise ship, there are plenty of potential suspects ranging from an arrogant wealthy woman; a mismatched couple, who are recently engaged; a flamboyant singer, and a romantic novelist. All of them have secrets to hide. Can Shanti and Jane uncover the truth and salvage their holiday into the bargain? Like the other books in the series, Passage from Nuala is designed to provide an absorbing but relaxing read in a colourful setting. It can be read as a standalone novel or as part of the series. 

Evenings in Cabin Class
A surviving interior from the cruise ship Normandie

Inspector Shanti de Silva is the main protagonist of your novels, what can you tell us about him, and have you noticed any changes in his character since the start of the series?

He’s pragmatic but principled with a dry sense of humour. Happily married, he likes books and gardens as I do. There are so many murder mysteries around that feature detectives with messy private lives. I wanted Shanti to be quite a conventional man who must deal with abnormal situations as part of his job. However, his private life isn’t entirely conventional – his wife Jane is an Englishwoman, and they’ve had to negotiate the problems that a mixed marriage would have raised in a colonial society.

I think the main changes that have occurred over the series come from Shanti’s developing relationships within the British community, particularly his boss, Archie Clutterbuck, and in my latest book, Archie’s own boss, William Petrie. Shanti has had to tread carefully when handling his colonial masters, but he’s managed to establish an increasing rapport with them. This may have been made easier by the fact that Nuala’s society is small compared with what he had to contend with in Colombo.

The series has, so far, focused on quite a wide variety of crimes, what do you think makes a good fictional villain and detective?

That’s a very interesting question. As a writer of cosy crime that veers towards the traditional, or Golden Age style, end of the spectrum, I need to be attuned to what my readers find acceptable, so serial killers and psychopaths are out. A good villain can, and perhaps should, have likeable qualities, so that hopefully, when the twist comes, and he or she is revealed, the reader won’t have guessed who they are ages ago. They need to be clever and resourceful enough to inspire respect, both from the reader and the detective, and they need to have strong motivation for their crime. It’s not enough for them to do evil simply because they are evil.

As far as a good detective goes, again, a dysfunctional character wouldn’t fit with the ethos of my kind of murder mystery, unless they were dysfunctional in a kooky, humorous way. I think the qualities needed are not dissimilar to those required for a good villain, without the murderous intent of course. 

Where do you get your inspiration for the stories, and, as one book ends, do you already have the idea in place for a new story?

My travels in Sri Lanka, formerly Ceylon, provided the initial inspiration for the series. It’s a fascinating and beautiful country. Even though the tone of the series is essentially light, its colonial past and the tensions that must have created adds, I hope, an extra layer of interest.

Tea Plantation Workers
Sri Lanka

I usually have a future book in mind by the time I finish the current one. Sometimes, as with Passage from Nuala, an event or a book gives me an idea. With Offstage in Nuala, for example, it was Shakespeare Wallah, Felicity Kendall’s memoire of touring India with her theatrical family. The recent exhibition at the V & A Museum about the great days of cruise liners provided a lot of colour and ideas for Passage from Nuala. 

And finally, what do you hope readers will take away from your Inspector de Silva mysteries?

A smile! 😊

You can find out more about the author on her blog

Follow on Twitter @harrietsteel1

Huge thanks to Harriet for being my guest on the blog today and for bringing Inspector de Silva's world to life so perfectly.

Saturday, 20 April 2019

Blog Tour and Giveaway ~ The Stars In The Night by Clare Rhoden

On His Fic Saturday

I am delighted  to be hosting today's stop on  The Stars In The Night Blog Tour

Odyssey Books
January 2019

My thanks to the author for my copy of this book
and to Rachel's Random Resources for the invitation to be part of this tour

Harry Fletcher is a confident young man, sure that he will marry Nora, no matter what their families say. He will always protect Eddie, the boy his father saved from the gutters of Port Adelaide. 

Only the War to End All Wars might get in the way of Harry’s plans… 

From the beaches of Semaphore to the shores of Gallipoli, the mud of Flanders to the red dust of inland South Australia, this is a story of love, brotherhood, and resilience.

My thoughts..

We owe such a huge debt of gratitude to those service men and women from around the British empire who came to our aid in WW1. Harry Fletcher and his adopted foster brother Eddie are just two ordinary young men from Semaphore, a quiet town in Australia, who left their shores in a flurry of patriotic duty, only to find themselves amidst the horror of a theatre of war which showed them no mercy. From Gallipoli, to Flanders, Harry and Eddie prove to be an invincible team but, as they find out to their cost, war has a tenacity to throw in a few unexpected surprises.

The Stars in the Night created a realistic portrait of  war and the story gave a sense of just what it was like to be away from home, waiting for news from family, and hoping that your sweetheart would still be there for you when it was all over. By using both narrative and epistolary/diary entries a story emerges of two incredibly brave young men, who, with characteristic stoicism, and a lively outlook, took on board everything the war threw at them.

The author has obviously done a great deal of historical research and paints a realistic portrait of wartime without ever resorting to too much graphic detail and yet, both the horror and the emotional impact of grief and loss certainly comes across. There were times within the story when I felt that emotion and, without giving anything of the plot away, I had to wipe away a tear or two on more than one occasion.

The Stars In The Night is beautifully written with a strong sense of wartime camaraderie and brotherhood, not just between Harry and Eddie who are quite special characters, but also between those soldiers who, regardless of rank, were all in it together. I think this passage from the book sums up so succinctly the effect of the war... "Quite a few fellows never made the next roll call. We couldn't always work out where they had ended up. But it was, like, just something that happened. Nothing special. We just got on with it."

From its evocative cover, to the very last sentence, The Stars In The Night is one of those stories which stays with you long after the last page is turned.

About the Author

Clare Rhoden writes historical fiction, sci-fi and fantasy (check her titles at Odyssey Books Clare lives in Melbourne Australia with her husband Bill, their super-intelligent poodle-cross Aeryn, a huge and charming parliament of visiting magpies, and a very demanding/addictive garden space. 

Clare completed her PhD in Australian WWI literature at the University of Melbourne in 2011, and a Masters of Creative Writing in 2008, in which she investigated the history of her grandparents who emigrated for Europe to Port Adelaide in January 1914. The Stars in the Night is the result of her research.

Twitter @ClareER #TheStarsInTheNight

Instagram @clarerhodenauthor



Giveaway to win a signed copy of The Stars in the Night, a metal poppy brooch made by a Melbourne craftswoman, and a cross-stitch poppy card. (Open Internationally) 

*Terms and Conditions*

–Worldwide entries welcome. 

The winner will be selected at random via Rafflecopter from all valid entries and will be notified by Twitter and/or email. If no response is received within 7 days then Rachel’s Random Resources reserves the right to select an alternative winner. Open to all entrants aged 18 or over. Any personal data given as part of the competition entry is used for this purpose only and will not be shared with third parties, with the exception of the winners’ information. This will passed to the giveaway organiser and used only for fulfilment of the prize, after which time Rachel’s Random Resources will delete the data. I am not responsible for despatch or delivery of the prize.

Please enter using the Rafflecopter box below. 

Friday, 19 April 2019

Review ~ Ten Poems about Trees

Candlestick Press
March 2019

My thanks to Kathy and Diane at Candlestick for my copy of this poetry pamphlet

Many of us have a favourite tree. It may be one we remember from childhood – a tree we loved to climb in or swing from or hide behind. Or perhaps it’s one of the ancient and majestic yews or oaks that stand sentinel in churchyards and on village greens, hardly seeming to change as the human years hurry by.

This beautiful selection celebrates the glory and mystery of all manner of trees – from David Constantine’s apple tree clothed in frost to Alistair Elliot’s birch waving its ‘delicate hair’ in the breeze.

“I’m thankful to the trees outside my window” says Moniza Alvi at the beginning of her quietly rhapsodic poem of yearning of the same name. This is tree-love of the everyday kind – the simple pleasure of looking out on a garden from which familiar trees look back. We can almost imagine they’re keeping us company.

Poems by Moniza Alvi, Paul Batchelor, David Constantine, Alistair Elliot, Gerard Manley Hopkins, DH Lawrence, Kim Moore, Louisa Rhodes, Ruby Robinson and Edward Thomas.

Cover illustration by Richard Shimell.

Published in memory of Alistair Elliot.

Donation to Woodland Trust.

My thoughts..

There is something rather special about walking through one of our ancient woodlands and seeing the imposing majesty of trees as they dance and sway in the breeze. And there is nothing prettier than the delicate pink of a cherry blossom tree as it heralds in the first sign of spring. And regardless of where there are placed, or how majestic their foliage, trees are such an important feature of our landscape so they should be cherished and protected.

© J A Barton

In Ten Poems about Trees we are give a whole arboretum of wonderful poems about the stark beauty of trees in all their various guises and, as always, there is something for everyone to enjoy.

I was so pleased to see that one of my favourite authors, DH Lawrence, who starts the collection with his charming poem:

 "Trees in the Garden

Ah in the thunder air
how still the trees are!"

And I was equally delighted to see the work of the poet, Edward Thomas, who I know from his work as a WW1 poets, featuring with this contemplative poem:


Aspens must shake their leaves and men may hear
But heed not listen.."

In Ten Poems about Trees there really is something for everyone, from the quirky Tree Climbing by Paul Batchelor, to the stark beauty of Yew Tree by Louisa Rhodes and, as always, the publishers have got the balance  and sentiment of poems exactly right. This beautiful collection reminds us that trees come in all shapes and sizes and have such a diverse effect on our emotions, the landscape and the world around us.

Candlestick Press is a small, independent press publishing sumptuously produced poetry pamphlets that serve as a wonderful alternative to a greetings card, with matching envelopes and bookmarks left blank for your message. Their subjects include Clouds, Walking, Birds, Home and Kindness. Candlestick Press pamphlets are stocked by chain and independent bookshops, galleries and garden centres nationwide and available to order online.

Twitter @poetrycandle

Thursday, 18 April 2019

Blog Tour ~ From the Shadows by G R Halliday

 ✨✨ Happy Publication Day ✨✨

 From The Shadows 

Harvill Secker
18 April 2019

My thanks to the publisher for my copy of this book and the invitation to be part of the Blog Tour

A stunning, atmospheric police procedural set against the grit of Inverness and the raw beauty of the Scottish Highlands, this is the first book in the DI Monica Kennedy series. 

Sixteen-year-old Robert arrives home late. Without a word to his dad, he goes up to his bedroom. Robert is never seen alive again.

A body is soon found on the coast of the Scottish Highlands. Detective Inspector Monica Kennedy stands by the victim in this starkly beautiful and remote landscape. Instinct tells her the case won’t begin and end with this one death. 

Meanwhile, Inverness-based social worker Michael Bach is worried about one of his clients whose last correspondence was a single ambiguous text message; Nichol Morgan has been missing for seven days.

As Monica is faced with catching a murderer who has been meticulously watching and waiting, Michael keeps searching for Nichol, desperate to find him before the killer claims another victim.

My thoughts..

DI Monica Kennedy is the lead detective in the hunt for a killer who seems to be targeting young boys but with very few clues to go on she and her team have to work really quickly in order to piece together the few clues they have. However, the deeper they get into the enquiry and the more questions the investigation throws up, especially when social worker, Michael Bach, gets involved and secrets from the past start to be revealed.

This new police procedural series gets off to a tense and dramatic start and right from the beginning of the investigation the shadow of an ever present danger pulls you into the centre of the action. Of course with any new series there’s a certain amount of getting to know the characters and this team all have of the individual quirks which makes a team interesting, but even as they work well together there are certain tensions which threaten to engulf them. Our initial introduction to DI Monica Kennedy shows that whilst she’s no push-over she’s also quite vulnerable and this flaw in her personality is interesting to observe as it allows her to sometimes make some questionable decisions.

The story moves along at a rapid pace but it’s not all plain sailing for the investigative team as things get more and more complicated. The author writes well using the remoteness of the Scottish landscape to give the story its dark edginess, and there are more than enough twists and turns in the plot to keep you guessing right until the end. 

From The Shadows is an commendable debut by a talented new crime voice and it is an interesting start to what, I am sure, will become a compelling police procedural series.

About the Author

G.R.HALLIDAY was born in Edinburgh and grew up near Stirling in Scotland. He spent his childhood obsessing over the unexplained mysteries his father investigated, which has proved excellent inspiration for From the Shadows. He now lives in the rural Highlands outside of Inverness, where he is able to pursue his favourite pastimes of mountain climbing and swimming in the sea, before returning home to his band of semi-feral cats.

Twitter @gr_halliday #FromTheShadows


Wednesday, 17 April 2019

Blog Tour ~ The Devil Aspect by Craig Russell

Jaffareadstoo is delighted to be part of the Blog Tour for The Devil Aspect

Little Brown Books
7 March 2019

My thanks to the publishers for my copy of this book and the invitation to be part of this blog tour

How do you find a killer when you're surrounded by madness? 

1935. As Europe prepares itself for a calamitous war, six homicidal lunatics – the so-called ‘Devil's Six’ – are confined in a remote castle asylum in rural Czechoslovakia. Each patient has their own dark story to tell and Dr Viktor Kosárek, a young psychiatrist using revolutionary techniques, is tasked with unlocking their murderous secrets. 

At the same time, a terrifying killer known as ‘Leather Apron’ is butchering victims across Prague. Successfully eluding capture, it would seem his depraved crimes are committed by the Devil himself. What links him with the insane inmates of the Castle of the Eagles? 

Only the Devil knows. And it is up to Viktor to find out.

My thoughts..

In 1935, something quite evil lurks within the confines of Hrad Orluͦ a mental asylum deep in the heart of a Czechoslovakian forest, a place known locally as Castle of the Eagles.

Incarcerated within the walls of the castle are the Devil’s Six, a group of patients who are so inherently evil they need to be kept in total isolation. Viktor Kosárek is a newly appointed clinical psychiatrist who has a specific interest in finding out just what secrets make the Devil's Six so very evil.

Miles away in Prague, detective Lucás֒ Smolák leads an investigation into the hunt for a serial killer, known as Leather Apron, who seems to be targeting women, and whose macabre modus operandi is reminiscent of the Victorian serial killer known as Jack the Ripper.

Both these very different worlds collide in a disturbing way way and the author certainly cranks up the tension in a story which isn’t afraid to shock. The general unease of living in Europe on the cusp of war is perfectly highlighted but it is in the details of the hunt for the murderer and the horrifying events which happen in the mental asylum where the story becomes compelling reading.

The short and snappy chapters, and the way the story alternated between the events unfurling in the castle and the horrific murder details in the city of Prague, kept me on my toes and I enjoyed trying to keep one step ahead of the action. However, both elements are equally dramatic and to be fair, not for the faint hearted. 

The Devil’s Aspect is a difficult book to enjoy as it covers some pretty horrific subjects, which won’t appeal to everyone, but if you like well researched historical mysteries with a really dark edge then this book is certainly one to hold your attention.

Craig Russell’s novels have been published in twenty-five languages, four have been made into major films in Germany, in one of which he has a cameo role as a detective. He has won the CWA Dagger in the Library and the McIlvanney Prize, for which he has been shortlisted another twice, and has previously been shortlisted for the CWA Golden Dagger, the Ellis Peters Historical Dagger, and the SNCF Prix Polar in France. A former police officer, Craig Russell is the only non-German to have been awarded the Polizeistern – the Hamburg Police’s Police Star.

Twitter @TheCraigRussell #TheDevilAspect



Tuesday, 16 April 2019

Blog Tour ~ Amazing Grace by Kim Nash

Jaffareadstoo is delighted to be taking part in the blog tour for Amazing Grace

Hera Books
10 April 2029

Thanks to the author and Rachel at Rachel's Random Resources for my ecopy of the book
and the opportunity to be part of the blog tour

She’s taking her life back, one step at a time… Grace thought she had it all. Living in the beautiful village of Little Ollington, along with head teacher husband Mark and gorgeous son, Archie, she devoted herself to being the perfect mum and the perfect wife, her little family giving her everything she ever wanted. Until that fateful day when she walked in on Mark kissing his secretary - and her perfect life fell apart. Now she's a single mum to Archie, trying to find her way in life and keep things together for his sake. Saturday nights consist of a Chinese takeaway eaten in front of the TV clad in greying pyjamas, and she can’t remember the last time she had a kiss from anyone aside from her dog, Becks… Grace’s life needs a shake up – fast. So when gorgeous gardener Vinnie turns up on her doorstep, his twinkling eyes suggesting that he might be interested in more than just her conifers, she might just have found the answer to her prayers. But as Grace falls deeper for Vinnie, ten-year-old Archie fears that his mum finding love means she’ll never reconcile with the dad he loves. So when ex-husband Mark begs her for another chance, telling her he’s changed from the man that broke her heart, Grace finds herself with an impossible dilemma. Should she take back Mark and reunite the family that Archie loves? Or risk it all for a new chance of happiness?

My thoughts..

Grace is a young single mum, she adores her ten year old son, Archie, and takes Becks her labradoodle for long walks in the woods. However, having to cope on her own hasn't been easy for Grace and dealing with the emotional scars left over from her marriage to her domineering ex-husband has sort of prevented her from trying to have a meaningful relationship with anyone else. That is until her friend, Monica, persuades Grace to try the dating scene with disastrous results, and then she meets Vinnie...

What then follows is a lovely story by an author who really knows just what's needed in women's fiction. There are an abundance of strong characters who tug away at your heartstrings, a delightful dog who makes you want to slip on your walking boots and head to the forest, and the most gorgeous leading man, who makes your heart skip a beat every time he appears on the page.

There's lots going on and it's not all hearts and flowers in this romantic tale as there's more than enough angst supplied by the dastardly ex-husband, who you really hope will get his comeuppance! But throughout it all is Grace who really is amazing and who is such a warm and lively character that you can't help but warm to her, and ultimately, want what's best for her.

Beautifully written from start to finish, Amazing Grace, is one of those proper stories which has a lovely beginning, a wonderful middle and an awe-inspiring conclusion. It's also a fabulous debut from a talented new author and I hope that this is just the first of many stories from her. I can't wait to read more 😊

About the Author

Kim Nash lives in Staffordshire with son Ollie and English Setter Roni, is PR & Social Media Manager for Bookouture and is a book blogger at Kim won the Romantic Novelists Association's Media Star of the Year in 2016, which she still can't quite believe. She is now quite delighted to be a member of the RNA. When she's not working or writing, Kim can be found walking her dog, reading, standing on the sidelines of a football pitch cheering on Ollie and binge watching box sets on the TV. She's also quite partial to a spa day and a gin and tonic (not at the same time!) Kim also runs a book club in Cannock, Staffs. Amazing Grace is her debut novel with Hera Books.

Twitter @KimtheBookworm #AmazingGrace

Instagram @Kim_the_bookworm