An Act of Love by Carol Drinkwater

The Blurb

It was an idyllic summer. Until they had to escape.

France, 1943.

Forced to flee war ravaged Poland, Sara and her parents are offered refuge in a beautiful but dilapidated house in the French Alps. It seems the perfect hideaway, despite haunting traces of the previous occupants who left in haste.

But shadows soon fall over Sara’s blissful summer, and her blossoming romance with local villager Alain. As the Nazis close in, the family is forced to make a harrowing choice that could drive them apart forever, while Sara’s own bid for freedom risks several lives.

Will Sara be reunited with those she loves?

And can she ever find her way back to Alain?

By turns poignant and atmospheric, this is the compelling new novel from Sunday Times bestselling author Carol Drinkwater about the power of first love and courage in our darkest hours.

The Author

Carol Drinkwater is a multi-award-winning actress who is best known for her portrayal of Helen Herriot in the BBC television series All Creatures Great and Small. Her quartet of memoirs set on her olive farm in the south of France have sold over a million copies worldwide and her solo journey round the Mediterranean in search of the olive tree’s mythical secrets inspired a five-part documentary film series, The Olive Route. She is also the author of novels The Forgotten Summer, The Lost Girl and The House on the Edge of the Cliff. She lives in the south of France.

The Review

What a touching, sensitive and well written book this is.

We have a family of Polish Jews who are moving through necessity in the Second World War, and to a life fraught with danger and the possibility of death, if blind eyes begin to see.

I found my heart in my mouth throughout this novel. The writing is beautiful and evocative. It makes you truly feel and imagine you are there with the character seeing through her eyes.

This is a fantastic novel and I can’t recommend it enough.

With thanks to Chrissie Antoniou, and the author and publisher for the advanced reading copy of this book.

The Hunting Season by Tom Benjamin

The Blurb

It’s truffle season and in the hills around Bologna the hunt is on for the legendary Boscuri White, the golden nugget of Italian gastronomy. But when an American truffle ‘supertaster’ goes missing, English detective Daniel Leicester discovers not all truffles are created equal. Did the missing supertaster bite off more than he could chew?

As he goes on the hunt for Ryan Lee, Daniel discovers the secrets behind ‘Food City’, from the immigrant kitchen staff to the full scale of a multi-million Euro business. After a key witness is found dead at the foot of one of Bologna’s famous towers, the stakes could not be higher. Daniel teams up with a glamorous TV reporter, but the deeper he goes into the disappearance of the supertaster the darker things become. Murder is once again on the menu, but this time Daniel himself stands accused. And the only way he can clear his name is by finding Ryan Lee…

Discover Bologna through the eyes of English detective Daniel Leicester as he walks the shadowy porticoes in search of the truth and, perhaps, even gets a little nearer to solving the mystery of Italy itself.

The Author

Tom Benjamin grew up in London and began his working life as a reporter before becoming a spokesman for Scotland Yard. He went on to work in international aid and public health, developing Britain’s first national programmeagainst alcohol abuse and heading up drugs awareness campaign FRANK. He now lives in Bologna, Italy.

Find Tom on Instagram, Twitter and Facebook at tombenjaminsays or at

The Review

This book is pure Italy! It is oozing with the character that Italy has, and runs all over you like a warm breeze.

I’m a total sucker for stories set in Italy, so if they don’t feel authentic my radar is set to an even higher degree of noticing what does and doesn’t gel as being right. So what didn’t work? Absolutely nothing at all! In this and every other respect it truly was a perfect novel. I felt like I was in Italy and soaking up the atmosphere of the land , the ethos of family and passion.

I felt like I was on a holiday with a dark and interesting plot showing itself, in beautiful writing. I thoroughly enjoyed this and truly cannot recommend it more!

Many thanks to Anne Cater, the Author and publisher for the advanced reading copy of this book.

The Assistant by Kjell Ola Dahl

The Blurb

The award-winning Godfather of Nordic Noir returns with a fascinating and richly authentic portrait of Oslo’s interwar years, featuring Nazis operating secretly on Norwegian soil and militant socialists readying workers for war…
Oslo, 1938. War is in the air and Europe is in turmoil. Hitler’s Germany has occupied Austria and is threatening Czechoslovakia; civil war rages in Spain and Mussolini reigns in Italy.
When a woman turns up at the office of police-turned-private investigator Ludvig Paaske, he and his assistant – his one-time nemesis and former drug-smuggler, Jack Rivers – begin a seemingly straightforward investigation into marital infidelity.
But all is not what it seems. Soon, Jack is accused of murder, sending them on a trail which leads back to the 1920s, to prohibition-era Norway, to the smugglers, sex workers and hoodlums of his criminal past … and an extraordinary secret.
A stunning, sophisticated, tension-packed thriller – the darkest of hardboiled Nordic Noir – from one of Norway’s most acclaimed crime writers.

The Author

One of the fathers of the Nordic Noir genre, Kjell Ola Dahl was born in 1958 in Gjøvik. He made his debut in 1993, and has since published eighteen novels, the most prominent of which form a series of police procedurals- cum-psychological thrillers featuring investigators Gunnarstranda and Frølich. In 2000 he won the Riverton Prize for The Last Fix, and he won both the prestigious Brage and Riverton Prizes for The Courier in 2015 (published in English by Orenda books in 2019). His work has been published in fourteen countries. He lives in Oslo. Follow him on Twitter @ko_dahl

The Review

Where to start? This is a deep dark historical Nordic Noir and I loved it! I’m ashamed to say I’m not that familiar with this authors work but I shall be rectifying that purely from reading this book!

The main characters are so different that they work brilliantly well together. Obviously, at times they will clash making the best fiction.

Jack Rivers is the character who draws me in because he’s the like a hero from an action adventure whose wish for a perfect world is what pulls you to him like a moth to a flame.

The book is expertly written and totally echoes the time it’s written about as you feel the menace of the time and it gives you insight into the Nordic way of life in that time. I will definitely be reading more from this author.

With thanks to Anne Cater, Orenda Books and the author for the advanced reading copy of this book.

The Loch by Dee Taylor

The Blurb

The Loch’ is set on the shores of Loch Ness. 

It’s a harrowing, unforgettable tale of courage and romance, unfolding between the backdrop of the Scottish Highlands and in the murky depths of the loch itself. 

With drama escalating in suspense, this entertaining and thrilling novel is the story of a former stripper from the Aberdeen clubs emotionally torn between two men: a deep sea diver from the oil rigs and a highlander with a violent and tragic past. 

There is greed and horror in a search for Bonnie Prince Charlie’s Jacobite gold within the ever-present menace of the fabled creature of the Loch.

The Author

Dee Taylor is now a professional artist, after spending most of his career in the advertising profession as art buyer at two of London’s top ad agencies. 

His many artistic achievements include designing a now famous flag for the Romney Marsh area of Kent in south-east England. 

Dee’s other passions are angling and Loch Ness.

The Review

What happens when you search for something that nobody else has yet found? In this case you’re not disappointed! You get far more than you bargained for.

This novel starts off with a sense of tension, but it loses none of its pace as we find out why paradise isn’t always all it’s cracked up to be.

There’s a little bit of everything in this book and it hauls you right in and keeps you there. If you love all things highland and Nessie with danger and romance you will love this book. And the cover art, not something I’d normally mention is breathtaking!

With thanks to Anne Cater, the Author and publisher for the advanced reading copy of this book.

The Last Thing he told me by Laura Dave

The Blurb


Before Owen Michaels disappears, he manages to smuggle a note to his new wife, Hannah: protect her. Hannah knows exactly who Owen needs her to protect – his sixteen-year-old daughter, Bailey, who lost her mother tragically as a child. And who wants absolutely nothing to do with her new stepmother.

As her increasingly desperate calls to Owen go unanswered, his boss is arrested for fraud and the police start questioning her, Hannah realises that her husband isn’t who he said he was. And that Bailey might hold the key to discovering Owen’s true identity, and why he disappeared. Together they set out to discover the truth. But as they start putting together the pieces of Owen’s past, they soon realise that their lives will never be the same again…

A beautiful and thrilling mystery, perfect for readers of Lianne Moriarty and Celeste Ng.

The Author

Laura Dave is the national and international bestselling author of Eight Hundred Grapes and other novels. Her writing has appeared in The New York Times; O, Oprah Magazine; Ladies’ Home Journal; Glamour; Redbook; Self; and the New York Observer. She resides with her family in Santa Monica.

The Review

I enjoyed this book from Laura Dave. It’s a family drama and suspense and thankfully the lead character is a person who seems to be capable as well as curious. She knows her husband has gone missing, but she’s not accepting that without knowing what has happened and why. She’s a determined, gutsy character.

So is her stepdaughter, except for one big problem. Her stepdaughter doesn’t like her. The book shows their relationship development over time.

An enjoyable, clever, twisty book that kept me hooked reading it. The ultimate book in keeping secrets from those you love.

Thanks for the advanced reading copy of this book to Viper, Sahina Bibi and the author.

The Metal Heart by Caroline Lea

The Blurb

The sky is clear, star-stamped and silvered by the waxing gibbous moon.
No planes have flown over the islands tonight; no bombs have fallen for over a year.

Orkney, 1940.

Five hundred Italian prisoners-of-war arrive to fortify these remote and windswept islands.

Resentful islanders are fearful of the enemy in their midst, but not orphaned twin sisters Dorothy and Constance. Already outcasts, they volunteer to nurse all prisoners who are injured or fall sick.

Soon Dorothy befriends Cesare, an artist swept up by the machine of war and almost broken by the horrors he has witnessed. She is entranced by his plan to build an Italian chapel from war scrap and sea debris, and something beautiful begins to blossom.

But Con, scarred from a betrayal in her past, is afraid for her sister; she knows that people are not always what they seem.

Soon, trust frays between the islanders and outsiders, and between the sisters – their hearts torn by rival claims of duty and desire.

A storm is coming . . .

The Author

Caroline Lea grew up in Jersey and gained a First in English Literature and Creative Writing from Warwick University, where she now teaches writing. Her fiction and poetry have been shortlisted for the Bridport Prize, and The Glass Woman was shortlisted for the HWA Debut Crown.

The Review

This is a lovely story, based upon the true story of the wedding chapel built on Orkney in the Second World War, by Italian prisoners of War.

It is a love story, but it also explains human relationships and how people felt during wartime.

The writing is atmospheric and beautiful and the book will leave you gasping as it comes to it’s final conclusion.

If you enjoy books that are full of heart, paint vivid pictures with words and bring a little mythical beauty in too, you will love this book.

Thanks to Chrissie Antoniou at Penguin Random House and the author for the advanced reading copy of this book.

Meat is Murder by Chris McDonald *BookBlitz**

The Blurb


McNulty’s Meats, one of Stonebridge’s oldest businesses, is about to be taken over in a lucrative deal that would make brothers Ron and Kevin very rich men indeed. Unfortunately for them, local activist Tyler Love has other ideas. Convinced that the deal would be bad for the town, he burns the place to the ground and inadvertently kills himself in the process.

At least, that’s what the police think.

Tyler’s mum disagrees and pleads with amateur sleuths Adam and Colin to investigate. Although, going up against the psychopathic McNulty brothers, a rival businessman, a group of hippies, and a girlfriend with secrets of her own might not be such a good idea… Someone has something to hide, and will go to great lengths to keep that secret buried.

Meat is Murder is the third book in The Stonebridge Mysteries series of Cosy Crime novellas.


About the series:

Stonebridge is a small town on the north coast of Northern Ireland. Most of its inhabitants are friendly, happy people. Most of them… Because bad things happen even in the happiest of places. It’s a good thing, then, that Adam Whyte and Colin McLaughlin call Stonebridge home.
Armed with an encyclopedic knowledge of detective shows, a misplaced sense of confidence and a keen desire to see justice done, these two are the closest thing the town has to saviours. Which isn’t that reassuring…

The Author

Originally hailing from the north coast of Northern Ireland and now residing in South Manchester, Chris McDonald has always been a reader. At primary school, The Hardy Boys inspired his love of adventure before his reading world was opened up by Chuck Palahniuk and the gritty world of crime. A Wash of Black is his first attempt at writing a book. He came up with the initial idea whilst feeding his baby in the middle of the night, which may not be the best thing to admit, considering the content. He is a fan of 5-a-side football, heavy metal and dogs. Whispers in the Dark is the second installment in the DI Erika Piper series, and Chris is currently working on his latest series, The Stonebridge Mysteries, published by Red Dog Press in 2021. 

Amazon Universal:



The Red Dog Press shop (Hardback, Paperback, Ebook):


Publication date: 8 June 2021

Silenced by Solveig Pálsdóttir

The Blurb

As a police team is called in to investigate a woman’s suicide at the Hólmsheiði prison outside Reykjavík, to detective Guðgeir Fransson it looks like a tragic but straightforward case.

It’s only afterwards that the pieces begin to fall into place and he takes a deeper interest in Kristín Kjarr’s troubled background, and why she had found herself in prison.

His search leads him to a series of brutal crimes committed twenty years before and the unexplained disappearance of the prime suspect, whose wealthy family closed ranks as every effort was made to keep skeletons securely hidden in closets – while the Reykjavík police struggle to deal with a spate of fresh attacks that bear all the hallmarks of a copycat.

‘A sinister story of fear an isolation told with imaginative flair. Mesmerising.’

Michael Ridpath

‘The darker the secret, the harder to bury it. Compelling reading!’

Lilja Sigurðardóttir

The Author

Sólveig Pálsdóttir trained as an actor and has a background in the theatre, television and radio. In a second career she studied for degrees in literature and education, and has taught literature and linguistics, drama and public speaking, and has produced both radio programming and managed cultural events.
Her first novel appeared in Iceland in 2012 and went straight to the country’s bestseller list. She has written five novels featuring Reykjavík detective Guðgeir Fransson and a memoir, Klettaborgin, which was a 2020 hit in Iceland.
Silenced (Fjötrar) received the 2020 Drop of Blood award for the best Icelandic novel of the year and is Iceland’s nomination for the 2021 Glass key award for the best Nordic crime novel of the year.
Sólveig lives in Reykjavík.

The Review

I was engrossed in this from the start. The characters have moved on from where we last left them, and as is always good life seems to be moving gently along. Except it isn’t!

The main character is deeply layered and he is as flawed as some of the other people within the pages. Yet, his integrity wins out. I love him because he’s a flawed person, but he’s trying to do what he can.

A series of brutal rapes embroil him in the middle of a major investigation , and he is curious enough to want to follow a hunch from a conversation with his new neighbour.

This book oozes dark, deep Icelandic noir which is written to perfection and I was sad to put it down. Subliminal criminal pleasure!

Thanks for the advanced reading copy of this book to Corylus Books and the author.

Oracle by Julie Anderson

Blood calls for blood.

Near the ancient Temple of Apollo, young idealists protest at a European governmental conference. Inside, business lobbyists mingle with lawmakers, seeking profit and influence. Then the charismatic leader of the protest goes missing.

The next day a body is discovered, placed like an offering to the gods. One day later a recent, broken corpse is found at the foot of the cliffs from where blasphemers were once tossed to their deaths.

As a storm closes in and strange lights are seen on the mountain, power at the conference centre is cut off and they are isolated. No one trusts anyone else. Is a killer stalking them? Or are primal forces reaching out from the past? Like the cryptic Oracle of Delphi, Cassandra Fortune must supply the answer before the conference is over.

And before more die.

Justice will be done, but what kind of justice?

The Author

Julie Anderson was a Senior Civil Servant in Westminster and Whitehall for many years, including at the Office for the Deputy Prime Minister, the Inland Revenue and Treasury Solicitors. Earlier publications include historical adventure novels and short stories. She is Chair of Trustees of ClaphamWriters, organisers of the Clapham Book Festival, and curatesevents across London. Find her at


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The Review

This is the second in the series of the adventures of Cassandra Fortune, and it hasn’t lost any of the pace or tension created in the first.

The setting is Delphi and it’s atmospheric and thrilling from the off. It’s a slow burn at the beginning as Cassandra is meant to be recovering from her recent ‘adventures’

That said, if you enjoy a good thriller or murder mystery and haven’t read the previous book in this great series, you can absolutely read this as a stand-alone and then read the first book (Plague if you’re fancying reading it, and I’d recommend this, too!) after.

A really enjoyable book that mixes modern day with myth and really works.

Thanks for the advanced reading copy of this book to the author and publisher.

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