Visit to ‘The Book Lounge’ in Kirkby Lonsdale

My local town Kirkby Lonsdale is without a doubt a fabulous place to live. It is home to a thriving community, excellent eateries, beautiful scenery and a small but perfectly formed high street, filled with unique and independent shops.

Just over a year ago Kirkby welcomed new addition, a fantastic book shop The Book Lounge. And #BookShopDay seems the perfect time to tell you all about it.

The Book Lounge, Kirkby Lonsdale

The Book Lounge was established by Valerie Laycock after she took voluntary redundancy from her job as a school librarian at a school in Lancaster.

Starting by selling second hand books, which arrived by the pallet load, each box a book-filled surprise, the shop has steadily grown over the past year of opening.

Valerie now stocks a small range of new books, many written by local authors, including authors from Casterton, Kirkby Lonsdale, Blackpool and Lancaster. There is also an impressive range of book related gifts, (I may have indulged!)…

…as well as a beautiful and impressive selection of Valerie’s own book related crafts and greetings cards, sold under the brand name Valerie Ann Crafts. I can’t wait to take delivery of my handmade Bookish Advent Calendar!!

Valerie’s passion for reading and her enthusiasm for spreading a love of books to younger generations shines through as we sit and chat. Above our heads is a very impressive collection of signed books that Valerie has collected after hosting many author events.

In her previous role Valerie was never happier than when she managed to set a young person off on their reading journey and foster a life long love of learning. She is very clear that the process of sharing books is a two way street. She recalls how pupils harangued her for months to read the Twilight Books, before she finally relented and found herself hooked.

One of Valerie’s obvious frustrations is how hard it is to get her hands on second hand young adult fiction; a genre very close to her heart. Providing a good quality reading experience for her younger customers is extremely important to Valerie and was a key driver in her stocking new fiction.

Her work to inspire and foster a love of reading continues in her new role. She is currently engaged in a series of local book school visits, working alongside local author Danny Rurlander. Danny’s recently published debut novel Spylark is the story of Tom, a boy recovering from a accident who uses his drone to escape his reality. But when the drone uncovers something sinister the adventure begins. Danny’s own website provides more information on the places within the novel. Set in the Lake District it is truly a way of bringing books to life.

Everything about Valerie’s beautiful shop oozes a true love of reading. From the cozy seating areas, welcoming fire, to the funky counter made entirely of books which took Valerie 3 days to create!

And don’t miss the ‘ Book Stairs’, each a personal favourite of either Valerie or one of the many English Teachers she has worked with over the years.

The Book Lounge might be a new addition to the town but it is very important, and there are exciting plans afoot. As part of the town’s annual Christmas Market Weekend The Book Lounge intends to embrace the magical theme. They will be decorating the shop and it’s alley within the theme of Harry Potter and welcoming a magician to the shop.

So if you find yourself in our neck of the woods, make sure you find time for a bit of book love in the Book Lounge, where you will find a warm welcome and some cracking Coffee and Cake!

Rachel x

P.S You can find The Book Lounge on Twitter @The_Book_Lounge

Blog Tour Review : Ten Thousand Doors of January by Alix E. Harrow

This may not be the first blog tour I have taken part in; it is certainly not the first Blog Tour I have published on the blog but this one has a special place in my heart. The Ten Thousand Doors of January was one of the first tours I signed up for; thank you Tracy Fenton! It was also the first very first book I was lucky enough to receive in exchange for a review.

So this book was always going to be a little bit special, and that was before I had even got past the excitement of the truly gorgeous cover. The premise of this book was so intriguing. As a child I was never happier diving in to a book, especially a book that took me into strange, magical words. I read and reread Enid Blyton’s Enchanted Wood books until the covers fell off. The books were only saved from complete destruction by my discovery of C.S Lewis’ Chronicles of Narnia.

So the idea of The Ten Thousand Doors, to Ten Thousand World was a tale too good to miss…

This is the story of January Scaller. At the beginning of the 2oth Century she is living as the ward of the engimatic, mysterious and wealthy Cornelius Locke. Her father is employed by Mr Locke to travel the world collecting treasures and curios, strange and exotic. January is left, well cared for but lonely amongst a large and curious colletion of artefacts. With her dark skin and enquring mind January feels equally out of place. She accepts Locke’s kindness but is forever questioning her place in his house and the wider world.

Locke lives a strange life. As a member of a strange and secret society his obsession with the usual seems to extend to every area of his life. He holdS January close; her social circle is limited to the local grocers boy Sam, a rather dry governess, and later a loyal but quite terrifying dog.

Her childhood is one of disjointed discoveries about the world around her and herself, including the revelation that she can conjure other worlds through writing…

Hooked yet? It gets better…

Then,one day, out of the blue, Jane arrives. Powerful, unconventional she is a lifeline for January. She claims to have been sent by Jane’s father and there is an immediate connection. When her father disappears and January refuses to accept Mr Locke’s certainty that he is dead, her sheltered life at Locke Hall is comes to and abrupt end and her own adventures begin.

The discovery of a strange book and the power within its pages throws January on to a quest into the mysteries of the world around her and the hidden details of her past.

Just how many doors are there open in this world? Where do they lead and why are so many people associated with Mr Locke so keen to close them?

Here is a story which celebrates the power of words, the power of books and the power of the unknown, a power which can take us beyond ourselves. It is multilayered, a feast of stories within stories. It is a study of how the fear of the unknown has the power to destroy possiblities and how a mind that refuses to open will stifle and threaten change and beauty.

The doors within the book represent this kind of change and the drive to shut them is seen as way of maintaining stability and keeping power and knowledge in selective hands, often at the expense of what is right and true.

There is a focus on the complexity of relationships both within families, through the need to understand and embrace our heritage and through the realisation that those closest to us don’t always operate in our best interests.

This novel almost defies description and definition. It is so many things; it is an adventure, a fantasy, a beautiful love story but also, importantly, a social commentary. In a time when the world seems to be shutting doors, feeding fear and is intent on putting up walls, this novel is an antidote to small minds and insular thinking.

And there is more…

For more reaction and reviews to The Ten Thousand Doors Of January check out the rest of the tour…

Book Review: The Caravaners by Elizabeth von Arnim

Sometimes when you request a book from a publisher you really strike gold. And that is exactly what happened when I received The Caravaners from Handheld Press. I saw it on Bookish Twitter, was intrigued by the cover and it’s feminist roots and plucked up the courage to ask. I cannot thank the publishers enough for my gifted copy.

It was a joy from start to finish. I would have read it in one sitting if life and time allowed but to be honest I would have missed a treat had I done so. This intelligent and deeply humorous book is one to be savoured.

At it’s simplest level The Caravaners is the story of what occurs when Baron Otto Von Ottringel, an officer in the Prussian Army and his wife, Edelgard, join a caravanning tour of Kent in the early part of the last century. First published in 1909, it is a book that reflects the growing English/ German tension which will ultimately erupt in the First World War.

When reviewing books I find I often end with ‘the bit about the author’ but in this case I feel this information key to understanding the context and mood of the novel.

Elizabeth Von Arnim is the pen name of Mary Annette Beauchamp. Born in Australia to British parents, she was a cousin of Katherine Mansfield. Married to a Prussian, Count von Arnim, she was perfectly placed to observe the differences between the two cultures and comment on the growing feeling of German Nationalism, generated and fuelled by Kasier Wilhelm II, grandson of Queen Victoria.

At time of writing the political and cultural gulf between Britain and Germany was beginning to widen. As Germany began to build up her navy and the Kaiser appeared slowly more unpredictable and dangerous, von Arnim took further inspiration for her novel from her own experiences.

In 1907 Elizabeth von Arnim had hired two caravans and for the month of August set off to explore the Kentish countryside with a group including teenage daughters, ex tutors – E M Forster amongst the number – family and friends.

In the true spirit of the English summer it rained, quite a lot it would seem, with one of the party only recalling 3 days of sun throughout the trip. Add in the complications of horses, outdoor cooking and in this case illness and the holiday was not without it’s fair share of challenges.

But as a microcosm of rising German / English tension, the setting of a caravanning adventure is inspired. And no one could be a better guide than the pompous Baron von Ottringel.

It is the Baron who is our narrator throughout the ill fated trip. Through his eyes we see the events but his words provide an immediate and achingly funny juxtaposition with actual motivations and occurrences.

Significantly older than his long suffering wife of 5 years Edlegard, the Baron is continually bemused by the behaviour and ‘moral’ code of his English counterparts. His pomposity and nationalism is immediately representative of the Kaiser himself.

The Baron is always concerned with outward appearance. He is convinced that others are looking upon him as a great leader. Even his motivation for being persuaded to change his holiday plans are bound up in how he believes others will see him.

And then to travel through it in one of those conveyances was so distinctly original that we would be objects of the liveliest interest during the succeeding winter gaieties in Storchwerder. ‘The von Ottringels are certainly modern,’ we could already hear our friends saying to each other…We should be the centre of attention.

The Caravaners- Pg 15

Notice the us of ‘we’. This is of huge importance , for the Baron does not see his wife as anything more than an extension of himself. Edelgard is purely there for his convenience, to serve and to admire. It is her duty, her pleasure and her honour. Women in the Baron’s mind are simple creatures, subservient to men and at their best when silent and attentive.

Indeed, the perfect woman does not talk at all. Who wants to hear her? All that we ask of her is that she shall listen intelligently when we want anything. Surely this is not much to ask. Matches, ash-trays, and one’s wife should be, so to speak on every table; and I maintain that the perfect wife copies the conduct of the matches and the ash-trays, and combines being useful with being dumb.

The Caravaners- Pg 73

Indeed the whole idea of a holiday only came about due to the Baron’s anger at his first wife for dying. Any grief he might have felt for the poor woman was rapidly consumed by his realisation that he would not reach the socially defining mark of a Silver Wedding anniversary and it acquired social standing. Therefore this tour with his second wife is actually to celebrate 25 years of marriage to his first!

The Baron swings from being chauvinistic to down right cruel. His blunt and brief reference to the death of his children, is heartless…

I myself have never been a father…that is, strictly, I was one twice, but only for so few minutes each time that they can hardly be said to count.

The Caravaners- Pg 20

And the revelation he sold his present wife’s dog upon there marriage is a further indication of the character of the man.

‘She shed tears, I remember, in quantities more suited to fourteen than twenty-four..

The Caravaners- Pg 154

So where, you may ask is the humour in this book. Take in just Baron von Ottringel alone and it seems just a rather bleak character portrait of a nasty man.

Well the humour I can is everywhere. It may be be rather dark but the humour is in the clear mismatch between the actions and reactions of the other characters and the woefully misguided interpretation of the Baron.

From the very beginning of the trip the Baron is isolated and ignored. Other characters quite literally scuttle to the four corners of the camp at his appearance.

For the Baron is entirely at sea in this tight knit community. It is a group that crosses class and gender with a refreshing level of equality and freedom and it terrifies him. He can not bring himself to associate with Browne, the young trainee Clergy man and finds the free will and outspokenness of the women in the party unbearable.

As his wife begins to rebel, lifting her skirts by a few inches, refusing to perform simple task for him and choosing to walk and talk with others, he begins to lose his grip on his carefully ordered world. Yet at no point does he look to his own behaviour to explain the changes. He is a man with a sense of his own importance but no level of self awareness.

Instead he blames his wife’s own weakness. He believes that she has allowed herself to become infected by the English company and their loose ways of living.

Therefore I had little time for reflection on the new side of her nature the English atmosphere was bringing out…

The Caravaners- Pg105

The juxtaposition of the Baron’s pompous and self assured narrative, alongside the readers interpretation of the actions of other characters is a master stroke of satire. Baron von Ottringel is perpetually seen to be misunderstanding situations, misreading characters and making a fool of himself. I found myself laughing out loud, repeatedly cringing but crucially never once feeling a modicum of sympathy.

Because at his heart Baron von Ottringel is a dangerous and cold hearted man. A man who is motivated by pride and nationalism. And when those core values are undermined, when he is challenged then his sense of reason is unstable. Buried in the narrative is a chilling reminder that this holiday is a mere snap shot in the marriage of the Baron and Edelgard. When faced with her defiance, he begins to ponder and plan his course of action…

However, a reasonable man knows how to wait. He does not, not being a woman, hasten and perhaps spoil a crisis by rushing at it. And if no opportunity should present itself for weeks, would there not be years in our flat in Storchwerder consisting solely of opportunities?

The Caravaners- pg 109

Here is a warning to the reader. When this holiday is over, as it surely will be, then someone will pay the price. In the context of The Caravaners it is likely to be Edelgard, in the wider context of Europe we can now all look back with terrible hindsight, as we neatly return to the theme of German / English tensions.

Through brilliant satire and social commentary Elizabeth von Arnim wrote a powerful warning, focusing on the changing attitudes across Europe and suggesting that trouble was not far away. How right she was.

Rachel x

Blog Tour Review: Plenty Under the Counter by Kathleen Hewitt

It is my absolute pleasure to be on the blog tour for Plenty Under the Counter by Kathleen Hewitt. This novel is one of four books written during the Second World War that have been reissued as part of the Imperial War Museum Wartime Classic series and released to commemorate the 70 year anniversary of the outbreak of war this September.

Plenty Under the Counter was written in 1943. Centred on and created against the backdrop of a capital city emerging from the ravages of the Blitz, the novel captures the mood and experiences of wartime London.

The hero of the novel is Flight – Lieutenant David Heron, and we find him on the final week of his convalescence leave. Having recently fallen in love, Heron is determined to make the most of his last week of freedom. But his plans to spend time with nurse Tess Carmichael are some what thwarted by the discovery of a body in the garden of his boarding house.

Intelligent, some what charming, an actor in the prewar years Heron is quickly drawn in to the intrigue surrounding the crime and consequently his last week is full of mystery, suspicion and not inconsiderable danger.

As the boarding house becomes the centre of the police investigation the spotlight is firmly on it’s residents, who all reveal themselves to be a complex and some what surprising collection of individuals.

Mrs Meake, or ‘Meakie’, is a long-standing friend of Heron’s. An ex- showgirl herself, she runs the boarding house with a skilled hand. Her nemesis is her rather mysterious and difficult daughter Thelma who’s associations and whereabouts are often difficult to pin down.

Terry Lipscott, is a merchant navy man. Often away from home, his appearance just after the murder is questionable, particularly when it comes to light he has been hiding a young woman in his room.

Miss Trindle, a rather naïve spinster, with a possible murky past moves out on the morning following the murder. Is her haste as she claims to distance herself from a house of ill repute or is there something more sinister behind it?

And what of the German Dr Hauptmann, quiet, unassuming but watchful? And Mr Cumberbatch, reclusive, always needing his coal replenished and seemingly obsessed with a dead wife? And don’t forget Annie the extraordinarily large new maid, desperate to confess to a murder she seems unlikely to have committed.

So begins, and I mean begins, for this list is by no means exhaustive, a cast of colourful characters all bound up in this web of intrigue. Hewitt repeatedly proves herself unrivalled in the ability to create engaging characters, principally through the use of dialogue. I would estimate that at least 60 percent of the novel is written in this form and it is the stronger for it. There is an immediate and vibrant sense of personality and colour that leaps off the page. So much so that it often feels that the reader is seated in the front row in a fast moving and beguiling play.

For the plot definitely zips along. The investigation is framed quite clearly by David Heron’s week of leave, meaning there isn’t time for any dilly dallying. And meaning we are treated to some expert plotting and beautiful character interactions. This isn’t a novel that gets bogged down in lengthy descriptions, it is character and action that drive it forward in the most convincing way.

It might be a timeless ‘who dunnit’ tale, entertaining and with a constant undertone of pathos and humour, but Hewitt has also clearly captured the essence of the time period.

The very title Plenty Under The Counter encapsulates the reality of the war. It is a time of shortage and making do. It is a time of great pulling together but also of some opportunistic activities and underhand dealing. There is the feeling that the war and the extreme of circumstances around it have brought people’s inherent characteristics to the fore, for good or evil.

Reading and reviewing this book has been an absolute pleasure. I enjoyed every word. However when Anne Cater extended her invitation to be involved it was a personal reason that made me accept.

My lovely Grandad passed away this year. He was 96 and had been a Tank Driver in WW2. Having served in Africa, he ended the war in Italy fighting in the battle of Monte Cassino. I was hoping we would get to commemorate this milestone Anniversary together but it was unfortunately not to be. So being involved in this book tour and the reissue of these period novels feels like my part in honouring my Grandad and those who served alongside him.

About the author

Kathleen Hewitt was a prolific British author who wrote more than twenty novels during her lifetime. A parson’s daughter, she lived a varied and interesting life including fashion designing, modelling and film extra work. Following the break down of her marriage she travelled to South Africa where she lived on a farm. Her return to England saw her open a hat shop in Reading.

She wrote throughout her life but wasn’t published until the age of 39. Her main genre of work was mysteries and thrillers, but she also published her Autobiography The Only Paradise in 1945.

She died in 1980.

And there is more…

For more information, reviews and reactions to Plenty Under The Counter check out the rest of the book tour. Details below…

Blog Tour Book Review: A Shadow On The Lens by Sam Hurcom

I am an absolute sucker for a mystery, but a historical mystery with supernatural tendencies is pretty much one of my gold standards.

So I was delighted to be asked to take part in the blog tour for A Shadow On The Lens, the debut novel of Sam Hurcom. And what a debut it is!

Many thanks go to Tracy Fenton @Compulsive Readers for the opportunity to get stuck into this intriguing book.

So where to begin..

Well the year is 1904 and our narrator, pioneering forensic photographer and police investigator, Thomas Bexley is on his way to rural Wales. Here in a remote village a young girl, Betsan has been found murdered. Her body is abandoned in the local woods, wrapped in chains and burnt.

Yet, despite the grisly nature of the crime Bexley is unfazed. An experienced professional, he approaches his task in a calm and methodical manner. Thomas Bexley is a man of the world, not given to sentiment and possessing of the arrogance of a man in control.

Which makes what happens next all the more unsettling and, I won’t lie dear readers, at times down right terrifying!!

From the moment Bexley arrives in the village it is clear that things are not what seem or indeed should be. Met by Robert Cummings, head of the local council, Thomas is quickly made aware that his presence is resented. Locals are reluctant to talk to him, his accommodation is mean and no one is expecting him to stay around for long.

It is also clear that an air of distaste surrounds the young victim. Betsan was not well respected or even liked within the village. Cummings and his young Constable have her marked as promiscuous, her end inevitable and most likely the work of travellers who have conveniently moved on.

But Thomas is not so quick to judge and sets about conducting a thorough investigation, one that quickly throws up a host of questions and few answers.

Why for example did Betsan and her mother, live in a hovel on the edges of the village?How can the scorch marks at the murder site still be warm hours, even days after the body’s removal? And why is the body being kept away from the village in a church cellar in a remote hamlet, a place that has been deserted by it’s inhabitants? And what role does the memory stricken Colonel and Lord of the Manor have to play in all this?

Bexley’s investigation is further impeded by the fact that the locals believe the death is the work of an evil spirit, they believe inhabits the woodland.

Determine to brush such concerns aside Thomas attempts to forge ahead with his investigation, but are the villagers fears unfounded? As his initial ease grows Bexley finds himself in the grip of a sudden and unexplained fever. Discomfort turns to terror and the boundaries of reality and supernatural are twisted beyond recognition.

Hurcom’s employment of the unreliable narrator, losing himself and his way before our very eyes leads the reader into a dark maze of tangled truths and buried mysteries. Are the terrible visions and unexplained noises, due to Bexley’s malady or something more sinister?

There is a pervading air of madness running throughout the plot. Hurcom has created a cast of characters where no one seem entirely in possession of their wits and the truth is increasingly hard to pin down. And as with all truly great ghost stories the weather plays it’s part. One great storm rages, a storm that recks havoc with the minds and bodies of the story inhabitants, isolating and increasing levels of fear.

The plotting is perfect, a short time frame means that the action moves along at a lick and the pages keep turning. The tale twists and turns in it’s way to discover what truly happened to the unfortunate victim. Hurcom lays many a false trail and leaves you questioning every detail to the last line of the book.

A Shadow On the Lens is a deliciously dark tale combining crime and supernatural happenings. It has all the right ingredients for a truly gothic story; inclement weather, long held myths, terrified locals and a remote location.

And of course a twist…

And there is more…

If you want hear more about this book check out the rest of the blog tour. Details below…

Happy reading


Blog Tour Review : The Last Landlady by Laura Thompson

Social history has always fascinated me. I still harbour a simmering resentment to the well meaning 6th Form tutor who persuaded me that taking History as a third A Level option was a bad idea. Too many essay subjects apparently. Still one of my biggest regrets.

But I digress…

However, the point is any chance I get to read history, particualrly the nitty gritty of social history, then I take it. Over the years I have come to realise that the way the key events of history affect the ‘ordinary’ people is often more interesting and more poignant than the events themselves. And it is always particularly interesting for me to see how these events have affected women.

So when Anne Cater got in touch and invited me on to the tour for Laura Thompson’s book The Last Landlady I jumped at the chance.

Published on 6th September by Unbound, this is at first glance the story of Laura’s Grandmother, Violet , ‘Vi’ to her regulars, who was the first woman in England to be given a publican’s licence in her own name.

This is a memoir of the truest kind. There is no delving into the hidden past of Vi’s life, just a simple and often powerful remembering of the author’s formidable Grandmother

“For although I am nostalgic for her – something she would have liked but not really understood – I have no desire to research her. I simply present her, as she presented herself to me, as I remember her at the pub.”

Pg 42 – The Last Landlady – Laura Thompson

Born and raised in a such an establishment, Vi embodied the atmosphere and appeal of the traditional British Pub. Having served in her father’s London pub, keeping spirits up during the Blitz, indeed providing safe haven in the pub’s cellars as the bombs began to fall, Vi was denied the pub’s licence upon her father’s death. It was simply not the done thing to hand such a privilege to a divorced single mother.

When she finally persuaded the brewery to grant her a licence it was of a somewhat run down establishment in the rural home counties. Vi turned that pub into the hub of the community. A place which welcomed all, but was run on certain unspoken but ‘known’ rules; the etiquette of the local pub. It was a place that provided local information, possibly gossip, often solice, understanding and comfort, and importantly company.

Vi is remembered and therefore portrayed as a woman in her element. In complete charge of her domain, she is tolerant, understanding and welcoming. Described by her granddaughter as ‘classless’ she had the ability to become whatever her patrons needed her to be, whilst retaining her identity and her authority.

Her beliefs and politics were what we would now describe as ‘liberal’, tolerate of minority groups long before most of society caught up. There is a beautiful story about her lending ‘Lot and Lil’, a homosexual couple who frequented her father’s pub during the war years, her black velvet dresses to wear for parties. Similarly she takes well respected regulars out to the car park and goes ‘coldly berserk’ after they begin whispering loudly and judgementally in corners about a mixed race couple.

Her relationship with alcohol is complex. Quite clearly she worships it, describing the perfect gin as ‘bloody beautiful’ and building her whole livelihood around it’s selling and consumption. But crucially she respects it. She is tolerate of those who drink and get drunk but finds a ‘bad drunk’ distasteful. She would, for example, frown upon those punters if today who drink to excess before a night out, preloading at home before setting off into town. For Vi alcohol is something to be savoured, enjoyed and an experience to be shared, not something to be guzzled and later regretted.

But for all of it’s focus on the formidable Violet this book is more than a memoir. Through her Grandmother’s story and, indeed, her own role within it, Laura Thompson looks at the changing face, role and status of the ‘Pub’ within our society, examining the factors behind it’s ever evolving nature.

Thompson looks back with intelligence and insight into the history of brewing from the Middle Ages and beyond. She charts the role of women, who were once at the forefront of brewing and serving ale, working from home in the original cottage industry. Landladies, in one form or another, were historically common place, important and accepted. It was ‘the determined force of religion’ which sought to moderate, regulate and curtail the sale of alcohol that undermined and practically halted the involvement of women within the industry.

Thompson looks in detail that the many incantations and variations of the pub through the centuries, providing a comprehensive social history that brings us bang up to date with the family, theme and gastro pubs of today.

This is a unique, compelling and entertaining read. Without a doubt it is one woman’s tribute to her Grandmother, cherised and admired, but it is so much more than that. It is also an insightful account of the role of the ‘pub’, ever evolving, throughout British History.

About the Author…

Laura Thompson won the Somerset Maugham award with her first book The Dogs, and wrote two books about horse racing while living in Newmarket. Her biographical study of Nancy Mitford, Life in a Cold Climate (2003) was followed by a major biography of Agatha Christie. A Different Class of Murder: The Story of Lord Lucan was published in 2014 and her 2015 book Take Six Girls: The Lives of the Mitford Sisters was recently sold to television. She lives in Richmond.

Laura Thompson.

And there is more…

For more information and reviews of this fascinating book check out the other Fanta bloggers on The Last Landlady tour listed below.

Book Birthday Blitz: The Fourth Victim by John Mead

Today I have my party hat on, already to be part of the #BookBirthdayBlitz for The Fourth Victim by John Mead. This ‘one day only event’ comes ahead of the publication of John’s next police procedural and follow up novel Geraldine, published on 28th September.

Thank you, as always, to Rachel at Rachel’s Random Resources for the opportunity to read, review and take part.

Ever start reading a book and immediately you can ‘see’ the story playing out in your head?

That is exactly what happened to me when I started read The Fourth Victim by John Mead.

As the story begins we join Detective Inspector Matthew Merry as he enters his last case. Having seemingly lost heart for active policing Merry is being sidelined into a desk job, his superiors questioning recent lacklustre performances.

Before he leaves he has one last case to solve.

The body of a young woman, Lynsey Hensley has been found in a local park. Nothing has been stolen and it seems the victim was attacked from behind in broad daylight.

Along with Detective Sergeant Julie Lukula, Merry begins chasing up the few leads they have. The case is quickly linked to an earlier attack on a young drug addict and prostitute Jody Grahame, and then a third girl, Madeline Turner is found dead.

Is there a serial killer on the loose? And if so what connects the three girls, apart from the hammer blow to the head that killed them all?

Does the key lie with Jenny Cowan, a young woman who is admitted to hospital after attempting to take her own life. Her prints match those found at one of the murder scenes.

But there is a problem.

Jenny suffers from Dissociative Identify Disorder (DID), meaning as witnesses or even suspects go she is unreliable in the extreme. Her multiple personalities work against each other, indeed the investigating team never know which one will come to the fore.

So when her therapist Dr Alima Hussan offers to guide the police through their interviews it seems like an offer too good to miss.

Or is it? Is the charismatic Alima everything she seems? Or is she about to blow this investigation wide apart?

The thing I loved about this novel was undoubtedly it’s characters. Bottom line is that the key characters are believable and crucially flawed.

Now I love a flawed character, especially in a police procedural. I always feel it adds an edge to the characters and makes them plausible and authentic.

And D.I. Merry is certainly flawed.

It is the human element of Merry’s behaviour and those around him that adds the feeling of jeopardy to this case.

The dialogue throughout is consistently well written. It flows seamlessly, creating situations which are within touching distance of the reader and all cloaked in impeccable research.

This is a novel filled with surprises, twists and turns. Nothing is quite what it seems at first or even second glance, and what you thought you knew at the beginning will be turned on it’s head by the end.

About the author

And there is more…

To read more reviews of The Fourth Victim check out the blogs below. Happy Reading.