Posted in Random Things Tours

Ariadne by Jennifer Saint.

“What I did not know was that I had hit upon a truth of womanhood: however blameless a life we led, the passions and the greed of men could bring us to ruin, and there was nothing we could do.”

I know we shouldn’t choose books based on their cover, but I wanted to mention straight away how stunning the finished hardback of this book really is. A gorgeous design of vines in midnight blue and gold, this would jump out at you in any book store. We all know the story of Theseus and the Minotaur. Everything is black and white when we’re small children, so we take in myths like this, accepting everything we’re told. It’s just a story isn’t it? King Minos has a monster called The Minotaur that’s half man and half bull. Every year the city of Athens must send seven of its best sons and daughters to be sacrificed to the Minotaur. Then one year, Theseus arrives in place of one of the chosen boys, with a plan to kill the Minotaur and stop this blood shed. Minos’s eldest daughter, Ariadne, falls in love at first sight and vows to help Theseus, expecting that she will travel back to Athens with him.

However, the plan doesn’t unfold as she expected and we follow her story as she wakes up on a neighbouring Greek Island alone. Having done a small amount of Latin and Greek at school, I’ve read many of the Greek myths and my abiding impression was how cruel the gods were. In modern Christian faith believers tend to trust in God being a comfort and help in troubled times, but these classical gods are usually causing the troubled times. They are either disguising themselves as animals, committing rapes against human women, having relationships with humans, but then retreating to be unfathomable, mysterious, beings when it suits them. I would have found the Greek’s concept of gods to be frightening – they are capricious, childlike and move humans round like chess pieces. So, knowing that the gods interfered in the lives of King Minos and his Queen did not surprise me.

In this feminist retelling, Jennifer Saint deliberately places the women in the centre of this myth, where they should be. It subtly changes it’s meaning and makes us think again about the version we have always known. King Minos’s daughters, Ariadne and Phaedre, have a living example of how women’s lives are played with by male gods in their own mother Pasiphae, who was tricked into falling in love with a bull. Minos tried to steal Poseidon’s incredible creation of the Cretan bull. In his anger Poseidon filled Pasiphae with lust for the bull and from their rather undignified union came the girl’s brother Asterion, half boy half calf. Possibly thinking of her own troubles, their mother tells them the full story of Medusa, including the part prior to her entanglement with Perseus. In a late version of her story, written by Ovid, Medusa was a beautiful girl with lustrous long hair, and was a priestess of Athena. Poseidon was beaten by Athena into becoming patron of the capital city of Greece, Athens. To punish Athena he ‘seduced’ or raped Medusa in Athena’s temple. However, instead of punishing Poseidon, Athena punished Medusa by turning her hair into snakes. The only version I was ever told, when studying classics at school, was Medusa’s part in the story of Perseus – women are of course, only bit players in the story of these incredible male heroes. These part stories, accepted and understood by me as a young teenager, now make me angry. I was only ever given the male version of these tales and I can understand what pushed the author to write this.

‘I only knew Medusa as a monster. I had not thought she had ever been anything else. The stories of Perseus did not allow for a Medusa with a story of her own.’

As usual though, because I have a disability, the book make me think about how disability and difference is portrayed in the myths. There were some similarities between Asterion and Caliban in Shakespeare’s The Tempest. As I was reading about the Minotaur’s origins I started to have feelings for this creature who never asked to exist. The narrator tells us about her mother after his birth, when she’s blank and exhausted but:

‘she cradled a mass of blankets to her breast and she pressed her nose softly to her baby’s head. He snuffled, hiccuped and opened a dark eye to stare into mine as I moved slowly forward. I noticed that it was fringed with long, dark eyelashes. A chubby hand fluttered against my mother’s breast; one tiny, perfect pink nail at the end of each finger. I could not yet see beneath the blanket where the soft pink infant legs gave way at the ankles to dark fur and hard, stony hooves. The infant was a monster and the mother a hollowed-out shell, but I was a child and drawn to the frail spark of tenderness in the room.’

She describes this special time, before he was monstrous and how she felt, even about the more unusual aspects of him.

‘I reached that final inch and bridged the gulf between us. My fingers stroked the slick fur of his brow, beneath the bulging edifice of rocky horns that emerged at his temples. I let my hand sweep gently across the soft spot just between his eyes. With a barely perceptible movement, his jaw loosened and a little huff of breath blew warm against my face.’

She realises he is not a monster, he is her brother. Inexplicably he moves from milk to craving raw meat and eating passing rats. However, Ariadne does not fear him and instead of thinking ahead, she focuses on the here and now and describes trying to teach him table manners and how to be gentle. Even she has realised that Asterion is a victim, and feels a ‘raw pity’ for him that brings tears to her eyes. In the same way that it isn’t Medusa’s fault she is raped in Athena’s temple, it’s not Asterion’s fault that he is created the way he is. Ariadne describes him as Poseidon’s cruel joke and humiliation for a man who has never even deigned to lay his eyes on him. That is until Minos sees he can use Asterion for his own ends. Minos was only proud of his potential monstrousness and the fear he might instil in his enemies. It is Minos who instructs Daedalus to construct the labyrinth that secures Asterion as a slave and even though there is pride in his new weapon, he doesn’t even allow him to keep his own name.

‘And so Asterion became the Minotaur. My mother’s private constellation of shame intermingled with love and despair no longer; instead, he became my father’s display of dominance to the world. I saw why he proclaimed him the Minotaur, stamping this divine monstrosity with his own name and aligning its legendary status with his own from its very birth.’

I was fascinated with the author’s storytelling, it is spellbinding. She shows us that for powerful men and gods like Minos and Poseidon, whether you are a woman or different like Asterion your only worth in this life, is wrapped up in your value to men. If Asterion had remained gentle and docile, Minos would still have banished him in some way. Pasiphae’s psychological break after his birth shows what happens to women who give birth to daughters and monsters. This is a book that truly makes you think, not just about the historical myths we’re told, but who tells them and why? It also made me think about the stories we are told today, by our world leaders (still largely men). How do they shape the way we view the world? Which heroes do they hold up as examples? Which monsters do they wield to control us? Like Ariadne we must learn to question. She learns to her cost, that even the man who appears to be her saviour, is more interested in his own glory. There is so much to enjoy here and on so many different levels. This is a stunning debut and shouldn’t be missed.

‘No longer was my world one of brave heroes; I was learning all too swiftly the women’s pain that throbbed unspoken through the tales of their feats.’

Meet The Author


Jennifer Saint grew up reading Greek mythology and was always drawn to the untold stories hidden within the myths. After thirteen years as a high school English teacher, she wrote ARIADNE which tells the legend of Theseus and the Minotaur from the perspective of Ariadne – the woman who made it happen. Jennifer Saint is now a full-time author, living in Yorkshire, England, with her husband and two children.

Posted in Netgalley, Random Things Tours

Mirrorland by Carole Johnstone

This is an extraordinary debut by Carole Johnstone full of psychological suspense, supernatural and imaginary worlds, and sibling rivalries. Cat and El are identical twins to most people who see them, but actually they’re mirror twins. This means that not only are they the same sex and blood type, they have identical, but asymmetric physical features. For example, if one is left handed the other is right handed. Yet they’ve spent twelve years definitively apart. On separate continents. Cat has been living and working in L.A. In the meantime El has been married to their childhood friend Ross and is even living in the girl’s childhood home. No 36 Westeryk Road is a large Gothic house that becomes a central character in the story. When Cat gets the news that El has gone missing while out sailing, she travels back to Edinburgh; towards her past.

The facts are that El has gone missing and there have been no sightings of her or her boat. Ross, who is now a psychologist, meets Cat and takes her back to the house. She’s shocked to find that a lot of the original furniture is still at Westeryk Road, and she’s been put in a guest room instead of their childhood room. It takes a while for her to get her bearings because in their childhood world all the rooms had names: Clown Cafe, The Kakadu Jungle, The Donkshop. The clown cafe was a candy stripe American diner. The Kakadu Jungle was richly wallpapered with a rainforest. The only room without a name was Bedroom 3. There is an old-fashioned servants bell pull with a bell for each room, but Cat doesn’t want to investigate when the bell rings from No 3. The world of imagination doesn’t end there, because tucked away under the pantry was another world called Mirrorland populated by clowns, witches and pirates. My therapist’s mind was whirling round at this point – why would someone want to live exactly as they had when they were children? Are these real or imaginary spaces? Is the imagery of mirrors significant? Which sister is a reflection of the other?

Back in the real world we meet DI Kate Rafik and DS Logan who are heading up the search for El, and seem confused by Cat’s reaction to her disappearance. Cat doesn’t trust her sister, she thinks she’s alive and possibly playing a game with them. It seems that the sisters have a symbiotic but unhealthy relationship, where El could be spiteful and play tricks on her sister. There’s also the relationship with Ross – Cat loved him first, but El couldn’t stand to be left out, taking drastic measures to be noticed. Underneath this tale I had to keep reminding myself that this was Cat’s version of events. Was she an unreliable narrator? There’s also the issue of notes being left for El just before her disappearance, but the sender hasn’t been uncovered. It doesn’t take long before Cat starts to receive similar emails, but are they from El? If so are they real warnings or a game? Or could someone else know what’s really going on at Westeryk Road?

I did find the combination of real life and flights of fancy a little difficult at times, it was as if my head was being bombarded with different information: visual, aural, imaginary, factual. I was in sensory overload a lot of time and struggled to take in the detail that might unravel this strange mystery. I also didn’t like or connect with any of the characters, so couldn’t get behind any of them. I instantly felt suspicious of Ross, because I’m used to psychologists being untrustworthy characters in fiction. This being said, the skill it has taken to create these worlds – imaginary and real – is incredible. The way Johnstone creates such a strong sense of place is by layering so much detail and I became drawn in by real life details like their grandfather having the football results on so loud everyone in the house knew who’d won. Probably because I used to check off Grandad’s pools result with him every Saturday. These pieces of the twins early life ground them in reality, just when you think everything at No 36 is imaginary. Cat describes the house as a mausoleum, a preservation of something long buried. Yet the house is alive. The description of the kitchen where there are still wonky units, but a sapphire blue Smeg fridge tells us things have changed. Time has passed here, but is that just superficial?

This book is an epic reading experience from a masterful writer, and I defy anyone to have guessed what’s really going on. I had to stop myself reading it at night because it kept my brain whirring so much I’d struggle to sleep. It wasn’t that I was scared, I was just intrigued as to what would happen next. Well, that and I don’t trust clowns much either! This was a fascinating mix of mystery, magic realism and psychological theory. You have to read it to the very end for it all to make sense, and once you do you’ll want to go back and find the clues you missed. I’ll need something restful to read next because this one well and truly worked my grey cells and my imagination to the limit.

Meet The Author

Scottish writer Carole Johnstone’s debut novel, Mirrorland, will be published in spring 2021 by Borough Press/HarperCollins in the UK and Commonwealth and by Scribner/Simon & Schuster in North America. Her award-winning short fiction has been reprinted in many annual ‘Best Of’ anthologies in the UK and the US. She has been published by Titan Books, Tor Macmillan, Simon & Schuster, and PS Publishing, and has written Sherlock Holmes stories for Constable & Robinson and Running Press. Carole is represented by Hellie Ogden at Janklow & Nesbit UK and Allison Hunter at Janklow & Nesbit (US).

More information on the author can be found at carolejohnstone.com

Posted in Inclusion and Diversity

Blog Tour: Books On The Hill Open Dyslexia Kickstarter Project.

Today I’m hosting something a little different on my blog. A project that aims to help adults with dyslexia access fiction. This was important to me, not because I am diagnosed with dyslexia, but my MS means I experience cognitive and physical symptoms that make it difficult for me to read. To have the hobby you love more than anything affected like this is so frustrating and makes me anxious that one day I will lose the ability to enjoy a book altogether. I combat this with: assistive technology; reading real print books instead of e-books; larger print and reading on a bigger screen help too. I think because of my own difficulties, I really appreciate any project that opens up great books to all. So, when Anne at Random Things Tours asked, I jumped at the chance to publicise Books on the Hill’s new diversity project: ‘Open Dyslexic.’

The Project.

It’s aim is to publish good quality fiction, for a minority group not provided for by the U.K’s traditional mass book market. It also provides booksellers with a new tool in their drive to increase diversity and inclusion. We have created a new publisher BOTH Press to do this.

Books on the Hill is passionate about helping people who have dyslexia, or have any difficulty with reading, to access the joy of good fiction. There are great books out now for children with dyslexia, with specialist publishers like Barrington Stokes and mainstream publishers such as Bloomsbury doing their part. However, there are sadly very few books for adults with Dyslexia in traditional mass market publishing. Dyslexia is a learning difference that primarily affects reading and writing skills. The NHS estimates that up to 1 in every 10 people in the UK have some form of dyslexia, while other dyslexic organisations believe 1 in 5 and more than 2 million people in the UK are severely affected.


Dyslexia does not stop someone from achieving. There are many individuals who are successful and are dyslexic. Famous actors, such as Orlando Bloom; Entrepreneurs like Theo Paphitis, and many, many more, including myself. All of who believe dyslexia has helped them to be where they are now. Dyslexia, though, as I can attest to, does not go away. You don’t grow out of it, and so we are acknowledging that and trying to without being patronising, create a selection of books that will be friendly to people who deal with dyslexia every day.


Since we started the project in 2019, Books on the Hill have had many adults customers with dyslexia come in shop the asking for something accessible to read. For example, one customer asked if we stocked well known novels in a dyslexic friendly format. Unfortunately we had to say no, as they just don’t exist. We explained what we are trying to achieve by printing our own and she replied:


“I have been reading [children dyslexic] books but they are a bit childish so am really happy I have found your company!! Thanks so much again and thank you for making such a helpful and inclusive brand – it means a lot.”

This response is not isolated. We have had many adults come in to the shop with dyslexia, who do not read or struggle to read and they they believe dyslexic friendly books would have real impact on their reading for pleasure.

The Team

Books on the Hill is Alistair Sims. He is the manager and commander-in-chief of the bookshop (though his partner, Chloe and his mother, Joanne, who set up the bookshop with him, may disagree with this description ). Alistair is dyslexic and has a PhD in history and archaeology. Alistair could not read until he was 13 and is passionate about helping anyone who has difficulty reading. He is the driving force behind BOTH Press and has been involved in every step in this project, from finding award winning authors to contribute, the cover design, and the road to publication, including setting up for distribution.


Books on the Hill are collaborating with Chrissey Harrison, who is also an local author and member of North Bristol Writers Group. Chressey and Alistair have designed the book-covers together, with Chrissey creating the finished product we now look on at awe with. Nearly all the design work has been done by Chrissey, and she is also in charge of the printing process, typesetting. We are so proud and appreciative to be working with her. Special mention must go to Harrison Gates, who runs Nine Worthy, and who has dedicated his time and expertise to produce our print catalogue for us free of cost. Joanne Hall is an author, editor and formerly the Chair of BristolCon, Bristol’s premier (and only) science fiction and fantasy convention. We must give a huge thank you to Jo for proof reading the stories free of cost. Vicky Brewster has edited all the new stories by the authors. She specialises in editing and beta reading long-form fiction. Vicky is a great professional editor.

The Books.

We have been so fortunate that many great authors have agreed to contribute to this project. All are brilliant authors and are names I am sure you will recognise.


Stan Nicholls, who has been a great support to Alistair Sim, particularly with my PhD. He is the author of many novels and short stories but is best known for the internationally acclaimed Orcs: First Blood series.


Steven Savile, the fantasy, horror and thriller writer, now lives in Stockholm whose father is a customer of the BOTH bookshop.


The horror duo that is Thana Niveau and John Llewellyn Probert, both well established and engaging authors and also residents of Clevedon.
Adrian Tchaikovsky is an Arthur Clark Award winner and best known for his series Shadows of the Apt, and for his novel Children of Time.
Steven Poore is the highly acclaimed fantasy writer who Alistair met at his first fantasy convention in Scarborough.


We finish the Magnificent Seven with Joel Cornah, who also has dyslexia, and with whom Alistair participated in a podcast on dyslexia for the Clevedon Literature 2020 ‘Festival in the Clouds’.

How Can You Help?

We are launching a Kickstarter beginning in April 2nd 2021 for 30 days, with the focus on paying for the printing of our books and giving us starting capital to continue to print more titles. There will be many ways you can be involved in this. You can contribute on the Kickstarter website itself. There will be a number of different options of donating money, in which you will receive rewards, such as ebooks of a title or a paperback of one or more of the titles to be published. In addition a unique reward from authors who are contributing to the project.
You can still contribute outside the kickstarter. We are happy to receive your help in the shop, where we will have a donation box available.

For more information and to contribute to the Kickstarter please follow this link:

https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/both-opendyslexia/open-dyslexia

Or visit the BOTH website: https://www.booksonthehill.co.uk/

Posted in Random Things Tours

The April Dead by Alan Parks.

NO ONE WILL FORGET . . .

In a grimy flat in Glasgow, a homemade bomb explodes, leaving few remains to identify its maker.

Detective Harry McCoy knows in his gut that there’ll be more to follow. The hunt for a missing sailor from the local US naval base leads him to the secretive group behind the bomb, and their disturbing, dominating leader.

On top of that, McCoy thinks he’s doing an old friend a favour when he passes on a warning, but instead he’s pulled into a vicious gang feud. And in the meantime, there’s word another bigger explosion is coming Glasgow’s way – so if the city is to survive, it’ll take everything McCoy’s got . .

I was lucky enough to be on the blog tour for the third book in Alan Parks’s Harry McCoy series, so it was a real treat to be able to read this one straight away, back to back. This is real Sottish Noir at its best as we follow a new case for Harry, in the crime ridden streets of 1970s Glasgow. I visit Glasgow a lot, and love its galleries, architecture and museums but this isn’t touristy, post-City of Culture, Glasgow. This city is grimy and dangerous, plagued by violence from criminal and sectarian gangs. Harry grew up in these rough, tenement areas of the city and it’s where his friendship with Steve Cooper started; back in their childhoods way before Harry became a police officer, and Stevie went in a very different direction. Harry’s loyalty to his old friend, means that he’s there at the prison gates when Steve gets out after a six-month stretch inside. Steve’s position as the boss of a criminal enterprise means he has to pick up where he left off – looking for whoever betrayed him. Loyalty is vital to an organisation like Steve’s and he won’t rest till he knows where the leak is. No matter how much he still feels like the big crime boss he always was, things have changed. Harry drops him at his old council flat knowing that even his own loyalty may be called into question.

The case Harry investigates is one of a bombing, not that unusual in the 1970s as the sectarian troubles in Ireland spread over to the mainland. However, the IRA’s targets are usually more illustrious than a flat in Woodlands. The only casualty seems to be the bomber with his remains scattered around the property. This is usually a job for Special Branch, so Harry is shocked to find it falls to him, and his sleep deprived colleague Wattie, to investigate. Wattie has become a father and is an easy target for DCI Murray. Murray thinks Wattie isn’t up to the job and Wattie begs McCoy for support, especially when the DCI piles a murder investigation on top of his other work. To make things worse for Harry, the prime suspect in the murder is Steve Cooper. Harry is well and truly in the middle, trying to keep the peace and his loyalty to many different people at once. His main concern is that there will be a bigger bomb, a more public target, and a long list of casualties. When this happens, Harry finds his loyalties called into question again, this time from a Special Branch officer who thinks McCoy may have connections to the IRA.

This investigation will lead Harry into the past, and a history of British military atrocities committed as the empire collapsed and beyond. The bomber follows an old army leader with murderous loyalty, and Harry stumbles across terrible hidden truths. The dark, atmospheric house in the country will stay with me, it’s terrible secrets never known until now as Harry uncovers evidence of torture and killing. Have these horrible acts ended though? Or is someone still carrying out killings in this terrible place? As if Harry doesn’t have enough to do, he’s also charged with finding a missing son of an ex- naval captain. Donnie Stewart was based in Scotland following in his father’s footsteps in the navy, but now he’s gone AWOL. His father travels to Scotland from retirement in America, keeping the pressure on Harry to leave no stone unturned looking for Donnie.

There is so much going on here, and so many loose ends to chase. However, one of the things I love about this series is that the author doesn’t just focus on the plot. He puts the characters and the intricacies of their relationships front and centre too. The relationship between Steve and McCoy is particularly interesting, especially in this instalment where pressure is placed on them both. It’s very interesting to see how Harry balances his job upholding the law, with his loyalty to his friend. Steve drags him into the fight with another crime boss, trying to use Steve’s recent time in prison as a chance to muscle in on his patch. This stretches Harry to his limits and place some edge into their relationship. Yet there is still that sense of a long held friendship that allows some black humour to creep in, even when the stakes are high. McCoy has a similar rapport with his colleague Wattie, but also some sensitivity too. He empathises with Wattie’s position as a new dad, and shows his concern. This is a sensitivity that spills over into his dealings with Donnie Stewart’s father too. I had the sense this wasn’t just being a good police officer, it was a softer side to Harry that maybe had something to do with getting older. What I loved most though is the author’s love of the wonderful city of Glasgow, in all its dark and dirty 1970s glory. He highlights the social injustices of the city, and the wry humour of its people. I would highly recommend this series to anyone who loves crime fiction and I look forward to May in the series.

Check out the other bloggers on the tour and their thoughts on The April Dead.

Meet The Author

Before beginning his writing career, Alan Parks was Creative Director at London Records and Warner Music, where he marketed and managed artists including All Saints, New Order, The Streets, Gnarls Barkley, and Cee Lo Green. His love of music, musician lore, and even the industry, comes through in his prize-winning mysteries, which are saturated with the atmosphere of the 1970s music scene, grubby and drug-addled as it often was. Parks’ debut novel, Bloody January, propelled him onto the international literary crime fiction circuit and won him praise, prizes, and success with readers. The second book in the Harry McCoy series, February’s Son, was a finalist for a MWA Edgar Award. Parks was born in Scotland, earned an M.A. in Moral Philosophy from the University of Glasgow, and still lives and works in the city he so vividly depicts in his Harry McCoy thrillers.

Posted in Random Things Tours

The Source by Sarah Sultoon.

This was one of those books. The ones that make me stay up till 3am because I simply have to see the story through. Sarah Sultoon’s novel takes us straight into the action, starting in 2006 with a very tense scene where a group of men are discussing the terms for the exchange of a trafficked girl. Once outside and in their van, there’s a huge sigh of relief from everyone – the man is a journalist and he is deep undercover trying to expose the horrifying trade in young girls for sexual exploitation. In my head as I continued reading, was the author’s harrowing description of the girl in question. She’s shown off as if at a market, stunned by the terrible experiences she’s gone through so far. A young girl called Marie is working with the team and she has found the sight of the girl deeply upsetting, but is committed to bringing these people to justice and sometimes that means confronting awful practices or seeming complicit in acts that make them sick to their stomach. This time though, they’re sure they’ve got them.

We’re then taken back to our second narrator, a 15 year old called Carly living in an Army town called Warchester. The barracks loom large in town, the pubs are full of squaddies and even the roads have lanes specifically for Army vehicles. The Army has loomed large in Carly’s life too. Her dad is dead, killed in action. She and her brother Jason have never met him, but Jason followed his dad into the family business and is now stationed at the barracks. Carly lives in army accommodation with her mum and half-sister Kayleigh, who is still a baby. They live off her Dad’s pension, but it doesn’t always go far when Mum drinks. Carly is used to coming home to a mum who’s insensible, slumped in front of the TV and Kayleigh screaming her lungs out because she hasn’t been changed or fed all day. Carly is just about holding it together so that social services aren’t on their backs, but it isn’t easy. That’s why she needs time to blow off steam and just be a 15 year old, so when her friend Rachel invites her to a party at the barracks she is tempted. Rachel has a contact, and a secret way in where they won’t be seen. However, I could sense something ominous in Rachel’s reassurances to Carly – to just go along with what they want to do. Her instructions could be construed as grooming and I was worried about exactly what type of party this was going to be.

Our narrative flits between the two different women. Marie has clawed her way up into journalism the hard way, but is a diligent junior member of the term. That is until some news comes through that derails their trafficking expose and seems to shock Marie to her core. A press conference is suddenly called about a previous investigation called Operation Andromeda and the commissioner herself will be making the announcement. Every media outlet needs to be down at New Scotland Yard now, and when the announcement comes the room falls silent. The commissioner recaps for the press that Andromeda was an investigation into the sexual exploitation of young girls by those in the Army, followed by prosecutions. What happened to Carly all those years ago, happened to others too. The commissioner talks about failed victims, up to and beyond the dates they originally investigated. Girls who were let down and soldiers left to commit more crimes on further generations of girls. The news team know that there were potentially two girls exploited and abused in Warchester: Girl A who gave evidence in the original court case, but also Baby Girl A, removed from her parent after the abuse and taken into the care system. Both were given new identities.

This is a complex story in terms of who knew what was happening, who is part of the cover up and who is working on the inside to expose what happened. Although it adds to the tension and rapid pace of the novel it isn’t what grabbed hold of me. It was the human stories that really moved me and its easy in a case this big and a conspiracy so complex to forget what has happened to the individuals involved. By including Carly’s narrative we can see how this happened on a human level. In a town where kids are brought up to revere the army and its men, with few other opportunities and insidious grooming technique at play, it was easy. Rachel is the girl on the inside, recruiting her friends just as she was once recruited – this type of abuse is generational. She coaches Carly in what to do, how to please and slowly ratchets up the pressure for her to do more extreme things until it becomes Carly’s normal too. Generations of Warchester men have joined up and done their service. She’s doing what generations of Warchester girls have done, they do their service too. Yet, because Rachel is over 16 when the original investigation happens she could be tried as an adult for grooming the younger girls, despite having also been groomed into this behaviour when she was a child. The author shows us what happens when abuse is institutional, when safeguarding fails and a community is complicit. It’s a very hard read in parts – the neglect as upsetting as the sexual abuse – but it should be hard and people should be shocked by it. I felt the author had done her research and depicted the psychological effects of abuse thoroughly, showing how they persist into adulthood. She showed the effect of being let down, by family, friends, community and the agencies that are meant to help. However, Carly shows us how one person’s persistence and courage can force justice, of a kind. I love that this author was brave enough to write this novel and that she found a publishing house to share her vision.

Meet The Author

Sarah Sultoon is a journalist and writer, whose work as an international news executive at CNN has taken her all over the world, from the seats of power in both Westminster and Washington to the frontlines of Iraq and Afghanistan. She has extensive experience in conflict zones, winning three Peabody awards for her work on the war in Syria, an Emmy for her contribution to the coverage of Europe’s migrant crisis in 2015, and a number of Royal Television Society gongs. As passionate about fiction as nonfiction, she recently completed a Masters of Studies in Creative Writing at the University of Cambridge, adding to an undergraduate language degree in French and Spanish, and Masters of Philosophy in History, Film and Television. When not reading or writing she can usually be found somewhere outside, either running, swimming or throwing a ball for her three children and dog while she imagines what might happen if…..

Posted in Random Things Tours

Bound by Vanda Symon.

When the official investigation into the murder of a respectable local businessman fails to add up, and personal problems start to play havoc with her state of mind, New Zealand’s favourite young detective Sam Shephard turns vigilante..

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.

I really enjoyed this crime novel with an interesting lead character, a case with so many twists and turns, and an array of background issues to get my teeth into. Our detective Sam Shephard is a strong woman, adept at her job and extremely dedicated too. She lives with a friend, but is in a relationship with Paul, another detective in the squad. When they get the job investigating the murder of reputable local businessman John Henderson, they soon find a link to a previous case. Two well-known criminals are implicated in the brutal shooting, both of them suspected in the murder of their fellow officer Reihana, and attempted murder of Smithy, who is still struggling physically despite being back at work. They need to find the link between regular business and the less ethically sound dealings that has brought the business into the criminal underworld. However, they also need to make sure that all of their dealings with the case, including forensics and other evidence collecting, are squeaky clean. Smithy, and to some extent Sam, will have to be seen to take a back seat on this one. Besides, once the link is found, between the gangsters and Henderson, it should be cut and dried, but is it? Why did they leave his wife Jill bound to a chair, alive? It is possible that someone else in Henderson’s life have reason to kill him?

Sam finds herself impressed by their teenage son, who has had the presence of mind to film the crime scene on his phone before freeing his mother. She creates a good rapport with him and manages to get important evidence about their potential suspects and their business dealings with his father. Sam works with a lot of integrity and will not accept the easy answer, until she’s uncovered everything. She would love to find their suspects guilty, but has her own idea about the motive for this crime that goes against what they know so far. This puts her in contention with the DI and he is not happy, they’ve been butting heads a lot and he’s not going to back her theory. Sam may have to go it alone here and do enough to prove her theory, without him.

I really enjoyed Symon’s mix of the professional and personal in Sam’s life, it felt like a good balance between the two. Sam is trying to keep her relationship with Paul on the down low, but circumstances may be taking that decision out of her control. There was also an interesting family dynamic, as Sam’s father is brought to the hospital and will be discharged to a hospice. These are possibly the final weeks of his life, but it’s clear that her unpleasant boss DI Johns will be less than sympathetic. Even sending her out of state on an errand. Her Mum seems less than impressed with her dedication to her job. There’s clearly history between Sam and her Mum, who accuses her of not being there for her Dad. Sam protests that she will, but her Mum rejects her promise. Sam manages not to snap back knowing that her Mum is angry and scared about her husband and the future, it how long will she able to stay silent. The moment when she sits quietly with her father and whispers to him the one secret she hasn’t told anyone, was so moving.

The pace of the novel is great – one of those where the short chapters create that ‘I can fit in one more chapter before bed’ feeling. Developments come at us thick and fast, both in the case and in her personal life. What I loved is Sam’s absolute dedication to her job, and determination to uphold New Zealand’s laws. Often when female characters have struggles in their personal life, things start to fall apart at work. Not so for Sam, she is good at separating her work life from home life, despite her mother’s digs about her loyalties. I felt I was getting a fully rounded character, not the usual stereotype about strong, working, women who have a messy love life, divorces, a drinking habit. Although we get personal with her, I came out of the novel admiring a good detective, with a full professional and personal life. The fact that this stood out to me is worrying and says a lot about how professional women are still portrayed in fiction. The story kept my attention because it was full of small surprises, such as Henderson’s assistant Astrid, whose previous CV was unexpected. This led me to expect bigger twists and I kept on reading. The author left us a few loose ends too, and I’m a sucker for the unresolved bits. Plus now I’m already hooked into the next book!

Meet The Author

Vanda Symon is a crime writer, TV presenter and radio host from Dunedin, New Zealand, and the chair of the Otago Southland branch of the New Zealand Society of Authors. The Sam Shephard series has climbed to number one on the New Zealand bestseller list, and also been shortlisted for the Ngaio Marsh Award for best crime novel. She currently lives in Dunedin, with her husband and two sons. –This text refers to an alternate kindle_edition edition.

Posted in Random Things Tours

The Favour by Laura Vaughan.

Fortune favours the fraud…

When she was thirteen years old, Ada Howell lost not just her father, but the life she felt she was destined to lead. Now, at eighteen, Ada is given a second chance when her wealthy godmother gifts her with an extravagant art history trip to Italy.

In the palazzos of Venice, the cathedrals of Florence and the villas of Rome, she finally finds herself among the kind of people she aspires to be: sophisticated, cultured, privileged. Ada does everything in her power to prove she is one of them. And when a member of the group dies in suspicious circumstances, she seizes the opportunity to permanently bind herself to this gilded set.

But everything hidden must eventually surface, and when it does, Ada discovers she’s been keeping a far darker secret than she could ever have imagined…

I’m drawn to any book based in the beautiful cities of Italy, but I was also drawn by the premise of Ada’s inability to accept a change in circumstances after the death of her father means selling off the family’s ramshackle mansion in Wales. I felt that I might understand someone struggling to fit in between social circles having come from a working class family then through my 11+ ending up at a very middle class grammar school. I found it very hard to fit in, but once I did, it was just as difficult to fit back where I’d come from, forever caught between two different tribes. However, Ada was in another league altogether, totally unable to accept the life her mother had created for them. A period terrace in London and the local secondary school are not enough for her, nor is a stepfather with an ordinary, dull name like Brian. Her plan to study at Cambridge, at the same college as her father, falls through when she fluffs her second interview. It looks like she might have to accept her more humble lifestyle, but the along comes her godmother’s offer of a modern grand tour with Dilettanti Discoveries.

Now she has to find a way to fit in with the Lorcans and Annabelle’s of this world and she has a plan for that. Ada knows all the right lingo to seem like one of the group – using the phrase ‘we had to sell up’ is a distinctive one for people of a certain class. It has the scent of ‘distressed gentry’, people who have had to sell off the family pile due to death duties or renovation costs on their large country houses. She even talks about Garreg Las as the family’s smaller home, hinting of a more distinguished estate belonging to her father’s family in Ireland. One by one, as they stalk art galleries and churches, Ada tries to ingratiate herself with the group. Will they accept her story or sniff out the truth of who she is and where she belongs? These are deliciously awful people and there isn’t a single one I’d want to spend time with. They had an air of entitlement and superiority, but it was hard not to enjoy their witty, self-assured conversation. There’s a certain polish and charm that makes them alluring, but it’s all surface. Oliver seems suspicious of Ada, and Mallory has also been picked out as an outsider, being American and Jewish. However, Mallory’s attempts at friendship are shunned by Ada, who desperately wants to belong to the most fashionable set. To ingratiate herself with Lorcan, Ada reveals a secret; she has seen Lorcan’s half-sister Annabelle in a romantic clinch with one of their tutors. She agrees to keep the secret between them, to place herself at the centre of the group. Then, when a suspicious death occurs, Ada is not just at the centre of the group, she’s at the centre of a potential crime. She makes a decision to grant one of the group a favour, something you might barely notice, but it furthers Ada’s quest to belong. If one of the group owe her a favour, surely she becomes accepted forever? I didn’t even think about what it could mean going forward, but that’s how clever the book is. You are captive, watching each consequence of Ada’s decision opening up in front of you, one after another, like a set of Russian Dolls.

Meanwhile, in the background, Vaughan creates a beautiful backdrop of art, architecture and soft Italian light. I could imagine what a beautiful film this would make as these intriguing characters stroll through formal Italian gardens, along the Arno or in the twisty, labyrinthine lanes of Venice. All the reference points Vaughan touches upon – such as Ada glimpsing the same fountain where Lucy Honeychurch witnesses a passionate fight in Room With A View – were my own source of inspiration for visiting Italy. Of course the upper classes prefer the more refined Florence, whereas I’ll admit my lower class allegiance to Venice. This revered circle of friends have so many niche rules and in-jokes it’s impossible to negotiate them all, without tripping yourself up. Just like a valuable renaissance painting, being one of the elite is very difficult to fake. In these beautiful backdrops there are constant hints of fakery and disguise: the trompe l’oeil frescos of the country houses; the maze of laurel hedges; the association of Venice with carnival and disguise. Even the example of Room With A View has it’s plot of a well-to-do young girl on her own Grand Tour, trying to keep secret her love for a distinctly lower class clerk she meets at a pensione in Florence. All of this imagery and reference to facade, disguise and things not quite being as they seem adds to the atmosphere and intrigue. It’s like seeing a beautiful bowl of fruit, that at its centre, is rotten to the core. This book will make a great book club read, not only to discuss these awful characters, but to ponder on what we might have done in the same circumstances. As the years roll by, what price will Ada pay and how long can she maintain the facade she has built? This is a complex and intriguing novel, full of flawed characters, with a central character showing all the signs of a borderline personality – Ada simply doesn’t know who she is. There is a void at her centre that can only be filled by imitating and adopting the lifestyle of those around her, with possible lifelong ramifications.

Meet The Author

Laura Vaughan grew up in rural Wales and studied Art History in Italy and Classics at Bristol and Oxford. She got her first book deal aged twenty-two and went on to write eleven books for children and young adults. The Favour is her first novel for adults. She lives in
South London with her husband and two children.
For more information, please contact
Kirsty Doole
Publicity Director, Atlantic Books kirstydoole@atlantic-books.co.uk
07850 096902 @CorvusBooks | @theotherkirsty

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Posted in Random Things Tours

A Beautiful Spy by Rachel Hore

Minnie Gray is an ordinary young woman.
She is also a spy for the British government.

It all began in the summer of 1928…

Minnie is supposed to find a nice man, get married and have children. The problem is it doesn’t appeal to her at all. She is working as a secretary, but longs to make a difference.

Then, one day, she gets her chance. She is recruited by the British government as a spy. Under strict instructions not to tell anyone, not even her family, she moves to London and begins her mission – to infiltrate the Communist movement.

She soon gains the trust of important leaders. But as she grows more and more entangled in the workings of the movement, her job becomes increasingly dangerous. Leading a double life is starting to take its toll on her relationships and, feeling more isolated than ever, she starts to wonder how this is all going to end. The Russians are notorious for ruthlessly disposing of people given the slightest suspicion.

What if they find out?

I became very fond of Minnie Gray as I started to read this interesting new novel by Rachel Hore. Based on the true story of Olga Gray, a young woman recruited by Maxwell Knight in the 1930s, to infiltrate The Friends of the Soviet Union, the author has cleverly blended fact and fiction to create an intriguing and interesting novel. I loved how Minnie felt a little like a square peg in a round hole – even at home in Edgbaston with her mother (where she feels most like she belongs) she’s restless and somehow a little different to the others. At a garden party, she gravitates towards a woman playing croquet; a woman of very individual and modern style. It’s as if she recognises a woman like this wouldn’t be afraid of shaking things up. They talk about the possibility of Minnie making a move to London, that maybe she could be recommended as someone to work for the government. Minnie is so excited, this might just be that direction and purpose in life she’s been looking for. She wants something for herself, not the stereotypical marriage to a nice middle class man to produce 2.4 children, that her mother expects. She’s fed up of being at parties, dangled before an ever dwindling pool of eligible gentlemen. Her excitement, turns to hope as she waits for a phone call and watches the letterbox, but nothing comes. It’s only when she’s lost hope that a call comes for her to interview and she meets her ‘handler’ Max.

I loved the eccentric ‘Britishness’ of the people Minnie meets in her new life. Most interesting is Max, who has a flat like a menagerie, full of various animals including a parrot. She goes to work at the communist organisation as someone interested in helping others, rather than the cause itself. In order to supplement her income, she takes another niche job, typing for a distressed gentlewomen’s charity. Here she makes friends with another typist and starts to have something like a social life. Minnie is thriving out there on her own, but we are privy to her inner thoughts. She’s plagued with self- doubt – ‘is she doing this right?’ It often seems to her that she’s achieving very little, not important enough within the party to make a difference or furnish Max with anything useful. However, espionage is a long game, and the more insignificant and innocuous someone seems the better. Eventually she seems so much a part of the furniture that she is chosen to do something she never imagined. Having never been further than London, Minnie will be undertaking a mission to India as her career in espionage really takes off.

I could see how much work had gone into research, as well as mixing fact and fiction in such a way that it becomes authentic. The author embedded Minnie into the 1930s from her clothes, to societal norms and mentions of world events such as the rise of Nazism. In snippets of chat at the communist organisation I could hear ideas and concerns about the working class and keeping them on board with a left leading political party. This disenfranchised class would be easy pickings for Oswald Moseley’s fascist party in a couple of years time. This is a time of political turmoil across Europe, as the tensions started in the aftermath of WW1 begin to boil over. The author really emphasises the fear and trepidation of choosing a double life, especially as a woman. I loved Minnie’s determination to be different and do something important, despite often feeling lonely and scared. I felt the author balanced this well with her need for adventure, as well as the excitement and thrill that keeps her going as the work gets more and more dangerous. I thoroughly enjoyed this fascinating book. Rachel Hore has created a wonderful heroine who I found inspiring and authentic, with just a hint of vulnerability that made her so sympathetic. I felt completely transported to the 1930s, due to the author’s knowledge of this time period and her deeply layered descriptions of Minnie’s world. I could close my eyes and picture every setting – Minnie’s home, Max’s flat full of animals, an overcrowded train in India and the wall of heat before the monsoon rain. This was an excellent read for anyone who likes their historical fiction and enjoys determined and original heroines whose courage takes them on amazing adventures.

Meet The Author

I came to writing quite late, after a career editing fiction at HarperCollins in London. My husband and I had moved out to Norwich with our three young sons and I’d had to give up my job and writing was something that I’d always wanted to try. I originally studied history, so it was wonderful finally to put my knowledge to good use and to write The Dream House, which is partly set in the 1920s in Suffolk and London.

Most of my novels are dual narrative, often called ‘time slip’, with a story in the present alternating with one set in the past. I love the freedom that they give me to escape into the past, but also the dramatic ways in which the stories interact. My characters are often trying to solve some mystery about the past and by doing so to resolve some difficulty or puzzle in their own lives.

The books often involve a lot of research and this takes me down all sorts of interesting paths. For The Glass Painter’s Daughter I took an evening class in working with coloured glass. My creations were not very amazing, but making them gave me insight into the processes so that my characters’ activities would feel authentic. For A Week in Paris I had to research Paris in World War II and the early 1960s through films and books and by visiting the city – that was a great deal of work for one novel. Last Letter Home involved me touring a lot of country houses with old walled kitchen gardens in search of atmosphere and to explore the different kinds of plants grown there.

Places often inspire my stories. The Memory Garden, my second novel, is set in one of my favourite places in the world – Lamorna Cove in Cornwall – which is accessed through a lovely hidden valley. A Place of Secrets is set in a remote part of North Norfolk near Holt, where past and present seem to meet. Southwold in Suffolk, a characterful old-fashioned seaside resort with a harbour and a lighthouse, has been a much loved destination for our family holidays and has made an appearance in fictional guise in several of my novels, including The Silent Tide and The Love Child. Until very recently I taught Publishing and Creative Writing part-time at the University of East Anglia, but I’ve just become a full-time writer.

I hope that you are able to find my books easily and enjoy them – I am always happy to hear from readers!

Happy reading!  

Visit Rachel at http://www.rachelhore.co.uk, or follow her on Twitter @rachelhore or Facebook

Posted in Random Things Tours

The Other Daughter by Caroline Bishop.

You only get one life – but what if it isn’t the one you were meant to live?

‘When it finally arrived I was shocked to see it; to read the words Mum wrote about these women fighting for rights I know I take for granted. Mum was here. And while she was, something happened that changed the entire course of my life. Perhaps, if I can summon the courage, the next eight weeks will help me finally figure out what that was . . .’

When Jessica discovers a shocking secret about her birth, it affects every area of her life. Her grief leaves her struggling at work and home, and sadly affects her feelings about being a mother. She takes advice from her godmother to take a break and she leaves her London home to travel to Switzerland in search of answers. There she takes a job as a nanny while researching her mother. She knows her journalist mother spent time in the country forty years earlier, reporting on the Swiss women’s liberation movement. What she doesn’t know, is what happened to her while she was there. Can Jess summon the courage to face the truth about her family, or will her search only hurt herself and those around her even more?

The story is told across two timelines. Jess in 2016 is just separated from her husband and taking a sabbatical from work. She has discovered a secret about her birth and wants more information. She knows her mother travelled to Switzerland in 1976 to research their fight for women’s rights. Women only gained the right to vote in 1971 after a referendum and I have always found this surprising. Sylvie travels there on hard won expenses trip. Her boss fails to see the value in an article on women’s rights, but she wins him round. I understood Sylvie’s journalistic interest in how late this date was, so I was interested as she convinced her editor to send her out to Switzerland in pursuit of the story around women’s suffrage in the country.

There was a slow beginning to the book, and it took me a while to gel with the characters. I was so glad I stuck with it though, because this was a slow burner and I became really involved with this family’s story. I know from working as a therapist, how difficult it can be for people to cope with secrets from the past, or an absence of knowledge about where they’re from. It’s this knowledge that Jess is looking for, in order to feel grounded. However, I also know that revelations about our history and background can leave us feeling adrift. We build a narrative about who we are and where we’re from; if that is shattered our sense of self can be too. The author really shows psychological insight, weaving these personal histories into a historical narrative – how Switzerland has treated women, including their legal right to participate in the democratic process and even their rights over their own bodies. I think Jess is so well rounded. There are so many layers to her character, and the deeper historical background mean she felt so real to me. I felt so invested in her story.

The revelations that come through Jess’s digging, but also through Sylvia’s narrative, take us down a path towards the truth. However, truth and written history are often two very different things. I feel that the author is clearly making a point about how a country’s history is written with an agenda. Often minorities and their experiences are erased from history and we need to move beyond the official version of events. I was worried that the truth Jess so desperately needed might not be real and she would be shattered again. The author has so much skill at creating a sense of place, both at the Swiss end and in London. She slowly drew me in and I became so involved in these character’s lives. There were times when they brought a lump to my throat, my emotions were so invested. This is an incredible debut and I look forward to more from this talented writer.

Meet The Author

Caroline is a British freelance writer currently living in Switzerland.

​In the past 15 years or so she has written about travel, food and theatre for newspapers, magazines and websites including The Guardian, The Telegraph, The Independent, BBC Travel, Adventure Travel, France magazine and others. She was also the editor of anglophone Swiss news site TheLocal.ch for two years, during which time she became fascinated with aspects of Swiss history and culture, particularly the evolution of women’s rights, which forms the backdrop to The Other Daughter, her debut novel. 

Visit Caroline’s website at http://www.carolinebishop.co.uk or follow her on Twitter @calbish and Instagram/Facebook @carolinebishopauthor

Posted in Random Things Tours

Smoke Screen by Jorn Lier Horst and Thomas Enger

It’s Oslo, New Year’s Eve and crowds are gathering for the annual fireworks display in the city square, when a huge explosion rocks the area and Oslo is put on terrorist alert. News and crime blogger, Emma Ramm, was down there hoping for some space from her boyfriend. Unfortunately Casper followed her, and was caught up in the explosion with fatal consequences. Instead of stopping and grieving, Emma becomes intrigued with another of the fatalities. Mrs Semplass is blown into the water off the quay and has suffered dreadful injuries. Police officer Alexander Blixx has rushed to help, and he brings Patricia out of the water but it is too late to save her. Ramm and Blixx have a past that will always connect them. He is something of a father figure to Ramm and his concern for her is touching, especially since she gets in his way so much. He also admires Ramm for what she can uncover and her tenacity when following the evidence, however much she treads on his toes. Yet she’s reckless at times and puts herself in dangerous situations which worries him. They both set out to investigate, not just the explosion but the coincidence.

They have come across Semplass before, her daughter Patricia was abducted many years ago, when she was only two years old. The crime remained unsolved and they never found Patricia, something that haunts Blixx to this day. Now that Ruth-Christine is dead, it is the last time Blixx may be able to look at this case again. When another familiar name comes up in the bombing investigation, Blixx suspects this is more than a coincidence and starts to dig. Blixx and Ramm begin parallel investigations in alternate chapters to each other; one hoping to find her boyfriend Casper’s killer, the other hoping to finally break a case that haunted him. They cross paths so many times, reaching the same conclusions, but using different methods. This is a very dark and complex case that will affect all of those concerned.

The characterisation was fantastic, each character was so immediately believable and whole. Emma is a dogged investigator, determined to find the truth whatever the cost to herself and unable to focus on the loss of Casper. She’d had doubts about the relationship before the explosion so she feels awkward. This is confused further when his parents try to look after her and take her back home with them for the funeral. When she finally agrees to stay with them she only manages 24 hours before wanting to be free, chasing her latest clue. It’s as if she’s unable to stand still or accept support from anyone, she prefers to stand alone. I loved how the author made even small characters sympathetic and interesting. A cleaner at the hotel where the bomber stayed really drew me in, first as she kept finding a ‘do not disturb’ sign on his hotel room door, but then in a tense scene as she walks home. She thinks she knows the missing man by his shoe laces, the pace intensifies as she hears someone behind her, the pace quickens and by the time she’s face to face with her pursuer my heart was racing!

The short chapters added to the pace and any switches between writer were seamless, as was the translation. The earlier chapters slowly set the story up and let us try and piece together the clues. The pace picked up considerably towards the end and I ended up reading very late at night to finish it. I’d made some correct guesses about what happened to Patricia Semplass, but I hadn’t fully worked out this complicated plot that neatly ties up all the loose ends. It was the perfect Scandi Noir novel: atmospheric, complex, dark and surprising. I finished the book with an immense sense of satisfaction and another series of novels to collect for my bookshelves.

Meet The Authors

Thomas Enger is a former journalist. He made his debut with the crime novel Burned (Skinndød) in 2010, which became an international sensation before publication. Burned is the first in a series of five books about the journalist Henning Juul, which delves into the depths of Oslo s underbelly, skewering the corridors of dirty politics and nailing the fast-moving world of 24-hour news. Rights to the series have been sold to 28 countries to date. In 2013 Enger published his first book for young adults, a dark fantasy thriller called The Evil Legacy, for which he won the U-prize (best book Young Adult). Killer Instinct, another Young Adult suspense novel, was published in Norway in 2017. Rights have been sold to Germany and Iceland. Enger also composes music, and he lives in Oslo.


Jørn Lier Horst is one of Norway’s most experienced police investigators, but also one of Scandinavia’s most successful crime writers. He writes engaging and intelligent crime novels that offer an uncommonly detailed and realistic insight into the way serious crimes are investigated, as well as how both police and press work. His literary awards include the Norwegian Booksellers’ Prize, the Riverton Prize (Golden Revolver), the Scandinavian Glass Key and the prestigious Martin Beck Award.