Extract Post: Facets of Death, by Michael Stanley


A dark and sophisticated thriller set in the heart of Botswana, introducing Michael Stanley’s beloved Detective Kubu.

Recruited straight from university to Botswana’s CID, David ‘Kubu’ Bengu has raised his colleagues’ suspicions with his meteoric rise within the department, and he has a lot to prove. When the richest diamond mine in the world is robbed of 100,000 carats worth of gems, and the thieves are found, executed, Kubu leaps at the chance to prove himself. First he must find the diamonds – and it seems that a witch doctor and his son have a
part to play.

Does this young detective have the skill and integrity to engineer
an international trap? Or could it cost him everything?

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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: 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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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: The Big Chill, by Doug Johnstone

Haunted by their past, the Skelf women are hoping for a quieter life. But running both a funeral directors’ and a private investigation business means trouble is never far away, and when a car crashes into the open grave at a funeral Dorothy is conducting, she can’t help looking into the dead driver’s shadowy life.

While Dorothy uncovers a dark truth at the heart of Edinburgh society, her daughter Jenny and granddaughter Hannah have their own struggles. Jenny’s ex-husband Craig is making plans that could shatter the Skelf women’s lives, and the increasingly obsessive Hannah has formed a friendship with an elderly professor that is fast turning deadly.

But something even more sinister emerges when a drumming student of Dorothy’s disappears, and suspicion falls on her parents. The Skelf women find themselves immersed in an unbearable darkness – but
could the real threat be to themselves?

Fast-paced, darkly funny, yet touching and tender, the Skelf family series is a welcome reboot to the classic PI novel, whilst also asking deeper questions about family, society and grief.

Publication Date: 20th August 2020

Price: £8.99

Published By: Orenda Books

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Extract Post: Ash Mountain, by Helen Fitzgerald


Fran hates her hometown, and she thought she’d escaped. But her father is ill, and needs care. Her relationship is over, and she hates her dead-end job in the city, anyway.

She returns home to nurse her dying father, her distant teenage daughter in tow for the weekends. There, in the sleepy town of Ash Mountain, childhood memories prick at her fragile self-esteem, she falls in love for the first time, and her demanding dad tests her patience, all in the unbearable heat of an Australian summer.

As past friendships and rivalries are renewed, and new ones forged, Fran’s tumultuous home life is the least of her worries, when old crimes rear their heads and a devastating bushfire ravages the town and all of its inhabitants…

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Extract Post: The Creak on the Stairs, by Eva Bjorg Aegisdottir


The first in the electrifying new Forbidden Iceland series, The Creak on the Stairs is an exquisitely written, claustrophobic and chillingly atmospheric debut thriller by one of Iceland’s most exciting new talents.

When the body of a woman is discovered at a lighthouse in the Icelandic town of Akranes, it soon becomes clear that she’s no stranger to the area.
Chief Investigating Officer Elma, who has returned to Akranes following a failed relationship, and her colleagues Sævar and Hörður, commence an uneasy investigation, which uncovers a shocking secret in the dead woman’s past that continues to reverberate in the present day…

But as Elma and her team make a series of discoveries, they bring to light a host of long-hidden crimes that shake the entire community. Sifting through the rubble of the townspeople’s shattered memories, they have to dodge
increasingly serious threats, and find justice … before it ’s too late.

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Review: Sister, by Kjell Ola Dahl

The Oslo Detectives are back in another slice of gripping, dark Nordic Noir, and their new colleague has more at stake than she’s prepared to reveal…

Pub date: 30 April 2020
ISBN 13: 978-1-913193-02-7
EPUB: 978-1-913193-03-4
Price: £8.99

Oslo detective Frølich searches for the mysterious sister of a young female
asylum seeker, but when people start to die, everything points to an old
case and a series of events that someone will do anything to hide…

Suspended from duty, Detective Frølich is working as a private investigator,
when his girlfriend’s colleague asks for his help with a female asylum
seeker, who the authorities are about to deport. She claims to have a sister
in Norway, and fears that returning to her home country will mean instant

Frølich quickly discovers the whereabouts of the young woman’s sister, but
things become increasingly complex when she denies having a sibling, and
Frølich is threatened off the case by the police. As the body count rises, it becomes clear that the answers lie in an old investigation, and the
mysterious sister, who is now on the run…

A dark, chilling and up-to-the-minute Nordic Noir thriller, Sister is also a
tense and well-plotted murder mystery with a moving tragedy at its heart,
cementing Kjell Ola Dahl as one of the greatest crime writers of our generation.

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