‘Mrs Hemingway’ by Naomi Wood


Beginning in the summer of 1926, Ernest Hemingway and his wife Hadley move from Paris to a villa in the south of France. Spending their time drinking, swimming and playing cards they mix with a bevy of guests including Scott and Zelda Fitzgerald and the seemingly ever-present Pauline (Fife) Pfeiffer. As Fife progresses from her role as the great writer’s lover, to being Mrs Hemingway, we follow the shifting relationships between Ernest and his four wives, and those of the wives with each other.

Moving between Paris, Florida, Cuba and London, this is a work of fiction that imagines scenes from the points of view of all four wives, as they take on the mantle of being Hemingway’s other half. The author’s vivid descriptions are beautifully drawn, as she conjures up a real sense of each of Hemingway’s houses and locations. The colours and smells seemed to lift right off the page, transporting me into each one as if I were sitting there watching the stories unfold in real life.

Beautifully written and totally captivating. I loved it from the first page. More please.

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‘Trouble in Cornwall’ by Joy Mutter


Seconded to Cornwall to investigate the kidnapping of Jessie O’Sullivan’s son, DCI Cosgrove and his sex-addict liaison officer, Kate, get themselves into yet more bizarre situations. Book 3 in this powerful erotic thriller series follows on from ‘The Trouble with Liam’ and ‘The Trouble with Trouble’.

As with many of this author’s books, this is an unconventional crime thriller, with the emphasis on sex, rather than crime. As always, Ms Mutter manages once again to hit a new high in the shock and awe stakes. Focusing initially on new millionaire Jessie and her latest boyfriend—cynical con-man, Russell—the story moves to a kidnapping plot which demands the attentions of sex-loving cops Jeremy and Kate, but when Kate is abducted by a gang of lustful men, things begin to look decidedly dodgy.

As with much of Joy Mutter’s work, this is not a book for the feint hearted. Packed with graphic sexual shenanigans, the author holds nothing back as she throws her protagonists into a series of weird and outrageous scenarios, including a lustful butler, a pair of creepy ageing virgins and a sex-scheming detective.

‘Trouble in Cornwall’ overflows with a torrent of extreme and unrestrained saucy antics—you have been warned!

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‘Too Close for Comfort’ by Adam Croft


Embarking on her first murder investigation, DS Wendy Knight is thrown in with dyed-in-the-wool hard-nosed DCI Jack Culverhouse, whose attitude to newcomers is less than forgiving. With a gruesome murder case on their hands, Knight must work out who to trust and who to fear, and before she knows what’s happening, her own life is in the killer’s sights.

This is the first book in Adam Croft’s Knight & Culverhouse series and the first I’ve read by this author. I bought the book after reading the first few pages, which sounded pretty good, but I have to say it wasn’t quite what I expected. Though there’s nothing intrinsically wrong with the story, one of the main characters (Culverhouse) is a difficult man to like, having no redeeming features—his behaviour and language put me off from his first appearance. If this had been one of those how-the-police-force-used-to-be books it might’ve been excusable, but I couldn’t see any point portraying him as a total git.

Admittedly, published in 2011, this was indie author Mr Croft’s first foray into crime writing and having read a bit of his latest novel ‘What Lies Beneath’, I can see a marked improvement in the quality of his writing. It’ll be interesting to see how the new one compares with Too Close for Comfort. What this space.

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Violence in the Blood by Mark J Newman


Glasgow villain Malkie Thompson has ambitions. Feeling constrained by his boss McAlister, he decides to take over and establish his own firm, and if that means getting rid of anyone who stands in his way, that’s fine with him.

This is a novella that introduces Mark Newman’s Crime Syndicate series. The plot rolls along rather like a movie script and we get a real sense of the motivations behind each of the characters. As a story it’s a wee bit too short to get a proper taste of the author’s talents, but there’s plenty of snappy dialogue and some nice one-liners that help things along. Some reviewers mention the graphic violence, of which there’s a fair chunk, but stories about gangsters need to be realistic, so if you’re averse to blood and guts, I’d stay away.

Interesting first book that bodes well for the others in the series.

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‘Noel’ by AJ Griffiths-Jones


When a rain-drenched Dutch traveller hitches a lift to a rural French monastery, the monks take care of him. But when the young man dies, detectives Mallery and Hobbs launch an investigation and the monastery’s seventy inmates quickly fall under suspicion. The mystery deepens when the Dutchman’s grandmother arrives, as the old woman introduces another piece of the puzzle for the detecting duo to explore. After another man dies, the search is on for a missing item from the Dutchman’s backpack. Could it hold a clue to the identity of the murderer and the possibility of buried treasure?

This is the second book in the Mallery and Hobbs series and the fourth I’ve read by this talented author. As with ‘Isobel’, its setting in the quaint town of Saint Margaux gives the tale an added layer of interest, with its English/French characters and the (slight) clash of cultures. The story is well told, taking us through the daily lives of the monks as the police try to work out what the heck’s going on. There’s a nice ordinariness to the sequence of events that (naturally) belies a sinister undercurrent, and the inclusion of the officers’ private lives (especially Mallery’s secret assignations with a certain lady), combine to allow the unravelling of the mystery with an exquisite slowness. Along with plenty of reddish herrings to put us on the wrong track, there’s a lot to like about this book.

Another cracking good yarn from Ms Griffiths-Jones.

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‘The Rock’ by Robert Daws



Detective Sergeant Tamara Sullivan finds herself exiled to Gibraltar as punishment for disobeying orders during a police operation. Together with her new boss DCI Gus Broderick, Sullivan investigates the suspicious death of a police constable, leading to the discovery of a dark and sinister secret.

This is the first adventure in the Sullivan and Broderick series and the first book I’ve read by actor/novelist Robert Daws. Having long been a fan of the man’s on-screen work (Roger Roger, Outside Edge, Poldark etc), I was keen to see how he fares as an author. ‘The Rock’ is a fairly short read and introduces the Sullivan/Broderick team in a (currently) three book series. The setting is lovely with some nice descriptions that make a change from the usual police procedural of moody cops trudging down the dark streets of London.

An easy read, this is a good introduction to the series, giving us a flavour of what to expect from the other books.

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‘Absolute Proof’ by Peter James


When journalist Ross Hunter gets a phone call from a person claiming to have proof of God’s existence, he’s tempted to dismiss the old man as a nutcase. But after meeting Dr Cook, Ross finds himself intrigued, if a little sceptical. Following an urgent call with the offer of further proof, Ross discovers Cook’s mutilated body, and realises there may be a story there after all. But with several organisations also chasing the story, is Ross prepared to risk his life as well as that of his pregnant wife?

Inspired by real events, Peter James has spent years putting this book together. Packed with details that show the depth of his research, his tale takes us from England to Egypt and America, chasing the Holy Grail, tracking down DNA evidence and the possibility of a finding a living descendant of Christ. At more than 600 pages, this is an epic book, though the author’s writing style makes it an easy and enjoyable read. With twists and turns and plenty of surprises, James takes us on a fascinating and thought-provoking journey that beats Dan Brown hands down.

A clever and meticulously researched book that’ll appeal to anyone who’s ever wondered what would happen if someone stumbled on proof of God.

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‘High Force’ by LJ Ross


(Audio Book)
Following the escape from prison of murderer Keir Edwards, one of DCI Ryan’s best detectives is missing. Kidnapped from her own home by the notorious serial killer, Ryan knows Edwards will flaunt his new-found freedom and won’t hesitate to slice up his most recent captive. With Detective Sergeant Frank Phillips at his wits end over the disappearance of his partner, Ryan’s team struggle for answers while striving to stay on top of the investigation. Can the canny copper keep the team together in the search for the missing detective, as well as dealing with the macabre results of the killer’s desire for revenge?

This is book 5 in the DCI Ryan series, and Ms Ross notches up the action very nicely. As well the development of characters such as Lowerson, and revealing more about Ryan’s background, the plot thrums along at a speedy pace, maintaining a high sense of anticipation from start to finish. The denouement was exciting and had me chomping at the bit to find out what would become of nasty Mr Edwards.

Though Ms Ross still has a tendency to pop in the occasional clichéd phrase here and there, her storytelling is faultless and continues to engage me five books in. Which is nice.

The audio book is superbly read by Jonathan Keeble.

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‘Midtown Huckster’ by Leopold Borstinski


Welcome to my stop on the Blog Tour for ‘Midtown Huckster’ (Alex Cohen #3) by Leopold Borstinski. Thanks to Emma at Damppebbles Blog Tours for including me.

My Review:
Working with mobster Lucky Luciano, Jewish gangster Alex Cohen needs to find a new way to make money. But when his boss is nabbed for racketeering, Alex is also arrested for tax evasion. Faced with saving himself or his friends, he must make a difficult decision – and the repercussions either way could be devastating.

This is the third book in Leopold Borstinski’s Alex Cohen series, charting the rise of an immigrant into the Jewish New York mob. Having read the first volume, I thought I knew what to expect. However, the writing this time round is tighter, and the action moves along at a swifter pace than before. The development of Alex’s character is also interesting, as it reveals his struggle to decide what is important to him and what the consequences could be if he makes the wrong choice. I did feel with this one that the author has worked harder at making the main character more appealing (which I didn’t find with the first book).

Setting the series within actual events and with real people, adds a nice touch too, giving the whole thing a sense of realism that aids the general believability of the story. All in all, an enjoyable read that will appeal to lovers of gun-toting gangsters everywhere.

About Leopold Borstinski:
Leopold Borstinski is an independent author whose past careers have included financial journalism, business management of financial software companies, consulting and product sales and marketing, as well as teaching.

There is nothing he likes better so he does as much nothing as he possibly can. He has travelled extensively in Europe and the US and has visited Asia on several occasions. Leopold holds a Philosophy degree and tries not to drop it too often.

He lives near London and is married with one wife, one child and no pets.

Social Media:

Purchase Links:
Amazon UK
Amazon US

Publishing Information:
Published in paperback and digital formats by Sobriety Press on 16th July 2020

‘The American Crusade’ by Mark Spivak


May 2001. Islamic terrorists crash a Boeing 737 into the Mall of America, killing three thousand people. With the nation in fear for their lives, Vice President Robert Hornsby has the opportunity to stamp his fervent beliefs on his country and become the most powerful vice president in American history. But can Hornsby succeed in his war on terror, under the glare of the media, or will his plan collapse around him?

With its stark similarities to 9/11, Mark Spivak takes a grim look at America’s recent past, revealing the thoughts, opinions and fears around a terrifying attack on the American people. Given the premise, I expected this book to be a fascinating and thrilling read, but after an interesting start, I found the constant inclusion of long, boring speeches (mainly by the President) totally ruined my enjoyment.

Spivak is certainly a talented writer, but any book that produces a desire in the reader to skip over long passages, cannot hope to hold that reader’s attention for long. And while the message of the book is a thought-provoking and serious one, reaching the end left me feeling nothing but relief.

No doubt some folk will find this a fascinating read, but any book, even one with a serious and vital topic at its heart, still has to draw the reader in. And this one didn’t.

Author’s website
Publisher’s website

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