Review: Hotel Cartagena, by Simone Buchholz

Pub date: 4 MARCH 2021
ISBN 13: 978-1-913193-54-6
EPUB: 978-1-913193-55-3
Price: £8.99

Twenty floors above the shimmering lights of the Hamburg docks,
Public Prosecutor Chastity Riley is celebrating a birthday with friends in
a hotel bar when twelve heavily armed men pull out guns, and take
everyone hostage. Among the hostages is Konrad Hoogsmart, the hotel
owner, who is being targeted by a young man whose life – and family –
have been destroyed by Hoogsmart’s actions.

With the police looking on from outside – their colleagues’ lives at stake
– and Chastity on the inside, increasingly ill from an unexpected case of
sepsis, the stage is set for a dramatic confrontation … and a devastating
outcome for the team … all live streamed in a terrifying bid for revenge.
Crackling with energy and populated by a cast of unforgettable
characters, Hotel Cartagena is a searing, stunning thriller that will leave
you breathless.

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Review: Space Taxis, by A & H Frosh

Space Taxis

“A perfect blend of science fiction and alternate history”

He’s abducted by aliens to the planet Vost.

He’s saving up for his fare home.

But he’s got the small matter of a planetary apocalypse to deal with first…

In 1977 a New York Cab driver Mike Redolfo is abducted by aliens after being mistaken for a renegade scientist. Meanwhile, back in 1944 a mysterious man and his Jewish fiancée are fleeing across Nazi-occupied Europe.

Redolfo tries to keep a low profile on his new world whilst earning his fare home, but unwittingly gets involved with a shady gang of alien criminals, inadvertently bringing the planet to the brink of catastrophe.

As the link between the timelines becomes clear, Redolfo must discover secrets from the past that may hold the key to saving the planet.

If you like The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy, Kurt Vonnegut’s Slaughterhouse 5, and Frank Herbert’s Dune, you’ll love this gripping and entertaining sci-fi mystery thriller.

Purchase Links

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Review: Bound, by Vanda Symon


The passionate, young police officer Sam Shephard returns in a taut, atmospheric and compelling police procedural, which sees her take matters into her own hands when the official investigation into the murder of a local businessman fails to add up…

The New Zealand city of Dunedin is rocked when a wealthy and apparently respectable businessman is murdered in his luxurious home while his wife is bound and gagged, and forced to watch. But when Detective Sam Shephard and her team start investigating the case, they discover that the victim had links with some dubious characters.

The case seems cut and dried, but Sam has other ideas. Weighed down by her dad’s terminal cancer diagnosis, and by complications in her relationship with Paul, she needs a distraction, and launches her own investigation. And when another murder throws the official case into chaos, it ’s up to Sam to prove that the killer is someone no one could ever suspect.

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Review: Fatal Isles, by Maria Adolfsson

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ISBN: 9781785768378
Publisher: Bonnier Publishing Fiction
Imprint: Zaffre
Pub date: 18 Feb 2021
Edition: Paperback original

A remote island. A brutal murder. A secret hidden in the past . . .

In the middle of the North Sea, between the UK and Denmark, lies the beautiful and rugged island nation of Doggerland.
Detective Inspector Karen Eiken Hornby has returned to the main island, Heimö, after many years in London and has worked hard to become one of the few female police officers in Doggerland.

So, when she wakes up in a hotel room next to her boss, Jounas Smeed, she knows she’s made a big mistake. But things are about to get worse: later that day, Jounas’s ex-wife is found brutally murdered. And Karen is the only one who can give him an alibi.

The news sends shockwaves through the tight-knit island community, and with no leads and no obvious motive for the murder, Karen struggles to find the killer in a race against time.

Soon she starts to suspect that the truth might lie in Doggerland’s history. And the deeper she digs, the clearer it becomes that even small islands can hide deadly secrets . . .

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Review: Smoke Screen, by Thomas Enger & Jorn Lier Horst

by Thomas Enger & Jørn Lier Horst
translated by Megan Turney

Oslo, New Year’s Eve. The annual firework celebration is rocked by an explosion and the city is put on terrorist alert.

Police officer Alexander Blix and blogger Emma Ramm are on the scene, and when a severely injured survivor is pulled from the icy harbour, she is identified as the mother of two-year-old Patricia Semplass, who was kidnapped on her way home from kindergarten ten years earlier … and never found.

Blix and Ramm join forces to investigate the unsolved case, as public interest heightens, the terror threat is raised, and it becomes clear that Patricia’s disappearance is not all that it seems…

The second in the hard-boiled and furiously compelling Blix & Ramm series, created by Thomas Enger and Jørn Lier Horst, two of the biggest names in Nordic Noir.

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Review: Circles of Deceit, by Paul CW Beatty

Circles of Deceit

Murder, conspiracy, radicalism, poverty, riot, violence, capitalism, technology: everything is up for grabs in the early part of Victoria’s reign.

Radical politicians, constitutional activists and trade unionists are being professionally assassinated. When Josiah Ainscough of the Stockport Police thwarts an attempt on the life of the Chartist leader, Feargus O’Connor, he receives public praise, but earns the enmity of the assassin, who vows to kill him.

‘Circles of Deceit’, the second of Paul CW Beatty’s Constable Josiah Ainscough’s historical murder mysteries, gives a superb and electric picture of what it was to live in 1840s England. The novel is set in one of the most turbulent political periods in British history, 1842-1843, when liberties and constitutional change were at the top of the political agenda, pursued using methods fair or foul.

Purchase Links

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Review: Winterkill, by Ragnar Jonasson

Pub date: 21 January 2021
ISBN 13: 978-1-913193-44-7
EPUB: 978-1-913193-45-4
Price: £8.99

Easter weekend is approaching, and snow is gently falling in Siglufjörður, the northernmost town in Iceland, as crowds of tourists arrive to visit the majestic ski slopes.
Ari Thór Arason is now a police inspector, but he’s separated from his
girlfriend, who lives in Sweden with their three-year-old son. A family reunion is planned for the holiday, but a violent blizzard is threatening and there is an unsettling chill in the air.
Three days before Easter, a nineteen-year-old local girl falls to her death from the balcony of a house on the main street. A perplexing entry in her diary suggests that this may not be an accident, and when an old man in a local nursing home writes ‘She was murdered’ again and again on the wall of his room, there is every suggestion that something more sinister lies at the heart of her death…
As the extreme weather closes in, cutting the power and access to Siglufjörður, Ari Thór must piece together the puzzle to reveal a horrible
truth … one that will leave no one unscathed.

Chilling, claustrophobic and disturbing, Winterkill marks the startling conclusion to the million-copy bestselling Dark Iceland series and cements Ragnar Jónasson as one of the most exciting authors in crime fiction.

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TBR pile review: Palm Beach, Finland, by Antti Tuomainen

Paperback, 300 pages
Published April 1st 2019 by Orenda Books (first published September 2017)
ISBN: 1912374315 (ISBN13: 9781912374311)

Jan Nyman, the ace detective of the covert operations unit of the National Central Police, is sent to a sleepy seaside town to investigate a mysterious death. Nyman arrives in the town dominated by a bizarre holiday village—the “hottest beach in Finland.” The suspect: Olivia Koski, who has only recently returned to her old hometown. The mission: find out what happened, by any means necessary. With a nod to Fargo, and dark noir, Palm Beach, Finland is both a page-turning thriller and a black comedy about lust for money, fleeing dreams, and people struggling at turning points in their lives—chasing their fantasies regardless of reason.

My Review

I got this book at the Orenda Roadshow in Southall, Nottinghamshire, in late February. Just before Lockdown started. I met Antti and a few other Orenda authors and got the book signed. I was quite pleased with the trip away even if the place I stayed wasn’t very good. The library at Southwell was, and the bookshop that supplied the books was run by some lovely ladies. Karen, who runs Orenda, and Anne, who runs Random Things blog tours was there, so I actually knew a couple of people, sort of.

The Rosie-Synopsis

Olivia Koski has inherited a rather run down house on the coast. After a couple of failed relationships, she’s had enough, moved home and just wants to renovate her family home.

Jormo Leivo has a dream – Palm Beach, without the irritating heat! But to complete his dream he needs Olivia’s land, and for the boat club to disappear. And Olivia won’t sell. So he decides to scare her away, with the help of failed musician ‘Chico’ and cook Robin.

That’s about the point when it all goes wrong. Because the lads ain’t the sharpest tools in the shed and accidentally kill a burglar when they go to vandalise Olivia’s house (this is not a spoiler, the author tells us right at the beginning that this is the case).

Jan Nyman, undercover police officer, is sent to Palm Beach, Finland, to investigate after the local and regional police fail to find anything. They didn’t bother asking if anyone was threatening Olivia. Jan’s boss is convinced she’s behind it all, and Jan isn’t so sure. Until he meets her.

The dead burglar’s adopted brother comes looking for answers too, flashes cash and threatens a few people.

What follows is a comedy of errors, dark comedy.

The Good

The stupidity of it all! Robin and Chico should have just gone to the police in the first place, said they say something suspicious while out for a walk, couldn’t get a signal to call the police or Olivia so went to investigate/scare off potential criminals and while wrestling with the burglar they accidentally killed him. It would have saved everyone a lot of trouble and they’d probably be considered minor heroes.

But Jan and Olivia wouldn’t have met, and it wouldn’t have been a very long book, so it’s probably best that they didn’t. I liked the way their relationship developed and the realisations they make. All the characters, except Leivo, develop in some way, making sense of their bizarre situation and realising how they got to that point. Leivo still dreams of his ‘Palm Beach, Finland’ at the end. Giant flamingos everywhere, it’d be hideous.

There were comic moments sprinkled liberally throughout, moments when reality and people’s beliefs about themselves clashed mostly. The descriptions of events were funny, and some of the major events and turning points were situationally hilarious. But it’s a dark humour – Robin and Chico trying to start a small fire and blowing up a shed while getting scorched faces comes to mind. Even the initial killing is humorous in certain lights.

I really enjoyed the plot, the way it all sorted out in the end, and the character development.

The Not-So-Good

Nothing. I liked it.


Amusing darkly comic crime fiction. Very Finnish.

Review: A Cut Like Wound, by Anita Nair

  • PUB DATE: May 15, 2014
  • MARKET: Crime Fiction
  • BINDING: Paperback
  • PRICE: £8.99
  • ISBN: 978-1-908524- 362


It’s the first day of Ramadan in heat-soaked Bangalore. A young man begins to dress: makeup, a sari, and expensive pearl earrings. Before the mirror he is transformed into Bhuvana. She is a hijra, a transgender woman seeking love in the bazaars of the city. What Bhuvana wants, she nearly gets: a passing man is attracted to this elusive young woman-but someone points out that Bhuvana is no woman. For that, the interloper’s throat is cut. A case for Inspector Borei Gowda, going to seed, and at odds with those around him including his wife, his colleagues, even the informers he must deal with. More corpses and Urmila, Gowda’s ex-flame, are added to this spicy concoction of a mystery novel.

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Review: Shades of Deception, by Jacqueline Jacques

Price: £8.99

Walthamstow, 1902: Archie and his police sergeant pal Frank Tyrell investigate the disappearance of teenager Lilian and the discovery of a corpse in the River Lea – Eleanor ‘Nell’ Redfern.

Did her father’s ambitious plans to marry her to a rail magnate cause her to run away to her watery doom? And what about Lilian Steggles, a star swimmer with her eye on the 1908 Olympics – what prompted her to disappear from home and where is she now?

Archie uses his artistic skills to identify Nell and thence to track down her story and that of the other victims of a dastardly scheme to exploit young girls for the benefit of lascivious older men.

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