#Review of #TheRetreat by @SarahVPearse published by @TransworldBooks @PenguinUKBooks 5 ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

Most are here to recharge and refresh.
But someone’s here for revenge . . .

The new atmospheric locked-room thriller from the author of The Sanatorium, the bestselling crime thriller debut of 2021.

This is a warning for all our guests at the wellness retreat.

A woman’s body has been found at the bottom of the cliff beneath the yoga pavilion.

We believe her death was a tragic accident, though DS Elin Warner has arrived on the island to investigate.

A storm has been forecast, but do not panic. Stick together and please ignore any rumours you might have heard about the island and its history.

As soon as the weather clears, we will arrange boats to take you back to the mainland.

In the meantime, we hope you enjoy your stay.

Well after reading and loving The Sanatorium last year, I’ve been counting the days down to receive and read The Retreat.

And what a stinking bookbanger The Retreat is! From the outset we are taken on a spooky, locked island journey with out heroine DS Elin Warner on an Island called Reapers Island off the coast of Devon UK.

The Retreat moves along at at fabulously fast pace, with punchy chapters and superb characters. The description of Reapers Island is amazing and really struck me as being so visceral! How writers are able to take the reader to a place and make you feel like you are there, always amazes me, and Sarah Pearse has done it again here! I was almost out of breath at the climatic ending and it’s situation!! ( Nope not giving that away! )

For Sarah’s second book it is an amazing gem of a well written cast, and I love the way we are able to get into DS Elin Warners mind, and her doubts and fears really add to this storyline. The plot is stunning and I didn’t guess the perp until the very end when they were revealed, there are twists and turns a plenty and it really is a gripping read! Sarah seems to have a absolute gift at writing “locked room” mysteries and I am in awe of her talent, a modern Agatha Christie!

I hope with The Retreat this will seal Sarah’s writing in the Suspense/Thriller genre. And I cannot wait for the DS Elin Warner book 3!

A superb and gripping book and a 5 ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ readi!


Sarah Pearse

Sarah Pearse lives by the sea in South Devon with her husband and two daughters. She studied English and Creative Writing at the University of Warwick and worked in Brand PR for a variety of household brands. After moving to Switzerland in her twenties, she spent every spare moment exploring the mountains in the Swiss Alpine town of Crans Montana, the dramatic setting that inspired her novel. Sarah has always been drawn to the dark and creepy – remote spaces and abandoned places – so when she read an article in a local Swiss magazine about the history of sanatoriums in the area, she knew she’d found the spark of the idea for her debut novel, The Sanatorium. Her short fiction has been published in a wide variety of magazines and has been shortlisted for several prizes.

You can find out more about Sarah Pearse on her WEBSITE

You can BUY The Retreat HERE

My #Review of #TwoStormWood by #PhilipGray @PhilipGrayBooks @HarvillSecker


1919. On the desolate battlefields of northern France, the guns of the Great War are silent. Special battalions now face the dangerous task of gathering up the dead for mass burial.

Captain Mackenzie, a survivor of the war, cannot yet bring himself to go home. First he must see that his fallen comrades are recovered and laid to rest. His task is upended when a gruesome discovery is made beneath the ruins of a German strongpoint.

Amy Vanneck’s fiancé is one soldier lost amongst many, but she cannot accept that his body may never be found. She heads to France, determined to discover what became of the man she loved.

It soon becomes clear that what Mackenzie has uncovered is a war crime of inhuman savagery. As the dark truth leaches out, both he and Amy are drawn into the hunt for a psychopath, one for whom the atrocity at Two Storm Wood is not an end, but a beginning.

I really like novels that are set during WW1 or WW2 so I was excited to be able to start Two Storm Wood, especially as it’s part of my Backlog!

From the outset this book grabbed me, it’s a love story, a tragedy, a creepy thriller. The two main characters Amy Vanneck and her fiancé Edward Haslam are brought to life so expertly and the attention to detail in describing how they look and their inner minds, is frankly, amazing. The setting is France in 1919 but we also travel back in time and revisit the death fields of war, the descriptions of which are SO realistic, the violence of war is put on paper so skilfully by Philip Gray, and the mental torture that affected every soldier is laid bare here.

The story is vast and almost cinematic in nature as we travel through the abandoned battlefields with Amy in search of her missing fiancé, it is very clear to me that Philip did a ton of research into WW1 and this makes Two Storm Wood such an authentic historical thriller. The battle scenes are almost TOO well described!

It’s almost a strange thing to say, but I loved the storyline of Two Storm Wood, I mean strange in that, some of it is so visceral in its depictions of war, which we know is horrific, but it is not there for glorification, Two Storm Wood just balances love and horror so well. The thrilling conclusion had me literally with my jaw dropping!

I love that Two Storm Wood is almost a love letter to Philip’s Grandfather, who kept records and maps during his time fighting in WW1 ( for more information on this head to Philip’s website) All in all this is a fabulous novel, if you like historical thrillers with a creepy edge, then Two Storm Wood is for you!

A 4 ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ read!

Philip studied modern history at Cambridge University, and went on to work as a journalist in Madrid, Rome and Lisbon. He has tutored in crime writing at City University in London and serves as a director at an award-winning documentary film company, specialising in science and history.

Philip’s grandfather was a captain in the Lancashire Fusiliers and fought through the First World War from start to finish, losing his closest friends along the way. Years after his death, Philip came across a cache of trench maps and military documents that his grandfather had kept, and in which he had recorded the events that befell his unit. Philip was inspired to write his thriller Two Storm Wood when the pull of his grandfather’s legacy felt too strong to ignore.

You can buy Two Storm Wood HERE

Philip Gray’s website HERE TWITTER

#GuestAuthor #Rod Reynolds @Rod_WR @BlackReedBay @OrendaBooks – answers my #questions

Thank you so much Rod for agreeing to do a Q&A session for my blog! My pleasure – thank you for having me!

I’d like to start by asking, have you always wanted to be a writer? What was the inspiration for Black Reed Bay? I’ve always been a big reader but I didn’t grow up wanting to be a writer – I come from a working-class background and, simply put, I didn’t know anyone who did a job like that. I was inspired to try writing by a combination of a former boss of mine who was writing a book and encouraged me to give it a go and was inspired when I discovered James Ellroy’s books. I’d never read anything like them at the time, and it made me want to be able to grip a reader the way his books did me.

Black Reed Bay was inspired by the real-life crimes attributed to the Long Island Serial Killer. I read some of the news coverage at the time, in around 2012, and there were some similarities with the book I was working on at the time (my debut novel, The Dark Inside) in terms of the bleakness of the locale and the hints of institutional corruption. I followed the case intermittently for a number of years (it’s still unsolved) and finally felt ready to write about it a couple of years ago.

Did you want to raise awareness to the victims of The Long Island Killer? Not necessarily – I feel like the media coverage of the case has done and will do a better job of that than I ever could (although if the book does raise awareness in any small way, then that’s a bonus) but I was very wary of writing about the case because of the devastating impact the murders have had on so many lives – both the victims and the family members who are left behind – and I wanted to make sure I could write the book without being disrespectful to those affected, or inadvertently adding to their suffering in any way.

How easy was it to write from a female point of view with DS Casey Wray? I didn’t find that aspect too tricky. My previous book, Blood Red City, featured a female protagonist, and I enjoyed bringing her to life. Obviously, as a writer, when you approach any character you want to make them credible and authentic, so I was doubly aware of that when writing a female character, but one of the things I wanted to do with Casey was to make her a normal person, who just happens to do an extraordinary job, so that allowed me to draw on elements of people I’ve know from all walks of life, to help create her – in terms of her sense of humour, for example, or her tenacity or self-doubt.

If Black reed Bay was turned into a movie/tv adaptation, who would you like to play DS Casey Wray and David Cullen? I always struggle with these questions because I don’t really ‘see’ my characters when I’m writing them – I’m almost watching the story unfold through their eyes – so I guess I just need to choose actors I enjoy watching. I’ve always liked Mark Ruffalo and I think he’s got that ‘everyman’ quality that would suit Cullen. For Casey, I think Toni Collette is an incredible actress, with the ability to portray strength and vulnerability all at the same time, so she would be perfect for Casey.

As a child growing up, were you an avid reader? Do you have a favourite book from your childhood? Yes, I was always a big reader – even down to the old cliché of reading with a torch under my duvet so I could cram a bit more reading time in. Like a lot of people, Enid Blyton’s books were the first ones to really grab me, so I read all the Famous Five and Secret Seven books I could get my hands on. The first ‘grown up’ book I read was when I was ten or eleven, my sister’s copy of The Firm by John Grisham, and I can still remember now how tense it made me feel – I was absolutely gripped.

What is your favourite book you read in 2021, and why? Since 2022 has just started, I’ll base this on 2021! I read a lot of great books last year, but my favourite was probably True Crime Story by Joseph Knox. I really enjoyed Knox’s previous trilogy, but even though this was a bit of a departure from those books, the trademarks that set his writing apart were all there, and I loved the oral-history style of the book and the way he weaved himself into the story.

Do you have a favourite author or favourite book of all time? I’ve got dozens of favourite authors, but I’ll stick with James Ellroy for my choice here, for the reasons mentioned above. My favourite book of his is The Big Nowhere – it’s the story where he really found his chops and established the three-protagonist structure he’d use for his more famous works. Even though it’s a gritty noir, it’s written with real heart, and at its core is a love story (even though the author would probably dispute that!) with one of the most poignant endings I’ve ever read (and my favourite in all of fiction).

If you could go back in time, to one historical event, to witness it, what would it be and why? Wow, there are so many I could list here. JFK’s assassination would be up there, because it fascinates me, and knowing all the things we know now, I’d be looking in about fifteen directions at once to see what really happened…

You can pick 4 famous people, dead or alive, for a dinner party, who would you pick and why? Donald Trump, Barack Obama, Angela Merkel and Hunter S. Thompson. You’d have arguments for years, and HST stirring it all up.

When you’re writing do like silence or do you listen to music? I don’t have a rule on this, depends on the mood I’m in. Sometimes it’s silence, sometimes it’s anything from instrumental to Metallica.

What’s the best piece of advice you’ve ever been given? Writing advice? Read your work aloud to yourself. It’s the best way to catch clunky dialogue and all sorts of other duff bits of writing. If you mean life advice, I’d go with…stretch more as you get older!

What’s the greatest gift you’ve ever received? My kids? Am I allowed to say that? Or is that too saccharine? If we’re talking material things, probably dinner at a rooftop hotel in Miami just after our wedding. Best views, best food, best cocktails I’ve ever had!

Are you currently writing another book? I’m always writing another book in one way or another, even if it’s just letting ideas develop in my head. I’ve not been as productive as I would’ve hoped over the last couple of years, thanks to lockdowns and homeschooling, so I am hoping to ramp up again in 2022, and there is a side project I’ve had on the back burner that I’m slowly re-working. But I would like to start work on a new manuscript this year – maybe that should be my new year’s resolution…!

As always, I must say a huge thank you to Rod Reynolds for taking the time out of his busy schedule to answer my questions,

You can follow Rod – Twitter HERE Facebook HERE or Rod’s website HERE

#Thankyou to the #Authors who joined me on my #Blog in #2021

A huge thank you to the following Authors who very kindly joined me on my Blog in 2021, and answered my questions. I am extremely grateful for your support and loved reading your books!

Danny Marshall @DLMWrites Author of the blindingly brilliant John Tyler Series – Anthrax island & Black Run

Alex Chaudri @AAChaudhuri Author of the unputdownable She’s Mine

Nadine Matheson @nadinematheson Author of the Brilliant The Jigsaw Man, (An Inspector Henley Thriller) is one of the only books to make me physically gag! I cannot wait for Book 2!

Harry Fisher @HFwritesCrime Author of the great Be Sure Your Sins & Way Beyond A Lie (DS Mel Cooper Series)

Pam Lecky @pamlecky Author of Her Secret War, a great read.

#StuartMacBride legendary multi award winning Author of The Coffin Makers Garden and my first guest, I am forever grateful to you!

Awais Khan @AwaisKhanAuthor Author of 2021’s book of the decade No Honour, and someone who I now consider my friend.

I never thought when I started blogging what the future held, but I am enjoying it and the books have been excellent ( keep them coming!)

There will lot’s of authors coming in 2022…look out for the first in the next few days!

I’m Celebrating Black History Month by asking @nadinematheson Author of #TheJigsawMan, some questions.

I’m absolutely honoured that Nadine Matheson agreed to answer some of my questions, as an Ally it means so much.

I’d like to start by asking, have you always wanted to be a writer? And where did the idea of The Jigsaw Man come from?

I always wanted to be a lawyer or a journalist when I was younger. I think the truth is that when I was a kid, I didn’t know that being a writer could be ‘job.’ I don’t remember any of my teachers or careers advisor presenting ‘writer’ as an option. Firstly, I’m a Solicitor who specialises in Criminal Law but I’ve never worked on any serial killer cases, however, there was a case in 2009 (My firm didn’t act on the case) where the victim was dismembered and parts of his body were scattered around Hertfordshire. They called the victim ‘The Jigsaw Man’ and that case always stuck with me. Secondly, I grew up in Deptford, South-East London, next to the River Thames, and I always thought how I would react if I was just walking along the riverbank and found a body part.  It was the combination of ‘The Jigsaw Man’ case and growing up by the river that inspired me to write my novel.

The lead Character in The Jigsaw Man, Detective Inspector Angelica Henley, is a brilliant portrayal of a strong Black Woman, in the Met Police, how much of yourself is in her character? And did you speak with any Black female Detectives in your research?

None of us are perfect but thankfully I don’t share Henley’s personal and professional issues but there are some similarities. We were both born and raised in South-East London to a Grenadian family, our footwear of choice is Adidas Gazelle and we’re both resilient. Henley is also quite spontaneous and there’s a fearlessness in some of the decisions that she makes and I’m a bit like that.  I didn’t speak specifically to any Black Female detectives, but because of my job, I’ve met quite a few, female Detectives of Colour and I think we have similar personal stories of women of colours navigating a career that is predominately white and male.”

The Jigsaw Man is set in London, and you grew up in Deptford, why did you set the novel there and do you have a favourite secret place in London?

I grew up in Deptford and I love Crime fiction, but I always felt that the area where I lived wasn’t represented in the crime novels. I wanted to see South-East London, and especially my London, on the page. I called ‘The Jigsaw Man’ my macabre love letter to South-East London and I’ve loved when readers have contacted me because they recognise or even live in the locations that are mentioned in the book. I do have a favourite place, but I don’t think that it’s a secret anymore; One Tree Hill in Greenwich Park. It has the best view of London

View from One Tree Hill, Greenwich Park, UK

There are some pretty gory scenes in The Jigsaw Man (months after reading I still cannot eat sausages!), where on earth did those come from your mind or real life?

I don’t think that sausage reference was that bad!! None of those scenes were (thank God) the result of any real-life experiences but some of those scenes were inspired by very random things. For example, the scene where we first see Henley examining a body part on the river bank, came to me when I was in my kitchen jointing a raw chicken. I think that I’m inspired by the thought of disturbing the normality and almost banality of life by inserting a moment of chaos. I think that it can be more disturbing to compare a moment of brutality against an image of uncontroversial normality i.e. sausages.

If The Jigsaw Man is turned into a Movie or TV Adaptation, who would you like to play Angelica?

I like the idea of Naomie Harris, Jodie Turner Hall or Lashana Lynch.

As a child growing up, were you an avid reader? Do you have a favourite childhood book?

I’ve always loved books and I would read everything and anything. The library or being in a bookshop was my happy place. My favourite books were ‘Wind in the Willows’, ‘Wizard of Oz’ and ‘The Children of Cherry Tree Farm.

Your daytime job as a Criminal Solicitor, must be very rewarding, does it also give you inspiration for more books?

Definitely. It’s not one specific case that has inspired but it might be certain character traits of my clients that have sparked an idea or a scene. I’ve always loved the fact that every client that I’ve represented has their own story and their motivations and I try to remember that when I create my own characters.  My job is rewarding when I’ve got the right result for my client and sometimes that may not necessarily be an acquittal. It may be that their conviction has allowed them to engage in a rehabilitation programme or for them to have their mental health issues finally addressed instead of being lost in the prison system.

What is your favourite book you’ve read this year and why?

I have two. Razorblade Tears by S.A. Cosby and Do No Harm by Jack Jordan.

Do you have a favourite Author or favourite book of all time?

I can’t pin it down to just one author or book! But American Tabloid by James Ellory,  The Joy Luck Club by Amy Tan and ‘The Spy Who Came in From the Cold’ by John Le Carré are in my Top 10.

What were the challenges you faced growing up in Deptford? And did you have a role model?

I have very supportive parents and they raised me with a strong sense of self and awareness of the world, therefore I don’t think that I had any real challenges growing up.  I didn’t grow up in a bubble I was very aware of the realities of the world and how certain people would make assumptions about me because I was a Black girl from a working-class, Grenadian family from South-East London.  My family were my best role models.”

If you could go back in time, to one historical event, to witness it, what would it be and why?

I’m always intrigued by the idea of corruption and also denial which means that I am obsessed with the  Watergate Scandal. I would have loved to have been there when that story was breaking.” 

You can pick 4 famous people, dead or alive, for a dinner party, who would you pick and why?

Oprah Winfrey, Prince, Michelle Obama and Michaela Coel. They are all brilliant, inspiring and unapologetic about who they are and have met every challenge that’s come their way.

When you are writing do like silence or do you listen to music?

I need noise when I’m writing. I’ll listen to music, podcasts, non-fiction audiobooks or just the plain old radio. Silence is painful!”

Finally, What’s the best piece of advice you’ve ever been given?

I have two. ‘If you don’t ask, you don’t get’  and ‘Don’t waste your energy worrying. Put that energy into something else.’

WOW! What a fantastic set of Answer’s, thank you once again Nadine for taking the time to do this.

To buy The Jigsaw Man click HERE

You can follow Nadine on Twitter @nadinematheson Facebook and Instagram Nadines Official Website is HERE