The Man Who Loved Islands *Blog Tour*

the man who loved islands cover

I am really pleased to be part of the blog tour for this final chapter in David Ross’ fabulous trilogy. Many thanks to Anne Cater at  randomthingsthroughmyletterbox and to Karen at Orenda Books for sending me a copy of the book.

 

In the early ’80s, Bobby Cassidy and Joey Miller were inseparable; childhood friends and fledgling business associates. Now, both are depressed and lonely, and they haven’t spoken to each other in more than ten years. A bizarre opportunity to honour the memory of someone close to both of them presents itself, if only they can forgive … and forget.

Absurdly funny, deeply moving and utterly human, The Man Who Loved Islands is an unforgettable finale to the Disco Days trilogy.

 

The Man Who Loved Islands is the final book in the trilogy about working class life in Scotland in the 1980s. In this book we are transported forward to the present day and the starry-eyed lads are now middle-aged men with lives falling apart: collapsed relationships, failing health and depression taking hold.

Bobby Cassidy has been living in Ibiza and Joey Miller, his erstwhile best friend, has travelled the world over with his job; but neither is happy and neither has spoken to the other for 10 years. When another friend Hammy May, conspires to bring the two together it starts a new chapter in their lives and with the help of the impossible Max Mojo they embark on re-uniting The legendary Miraculous Vespas for a one-off music festival.

I have read and loved both the previous books:   The Last Days of disco review here which was one of my top 10 books of 2015 and The Rise and Fall of the Miraculous vespas review here  so I was obviously looking forward to this final book, and it was like meeting up with old friends. Friends who have had trials and tribulations but are essentially still the people you know and love.

David Ross definitely has a way of putting the human into his characters, they live and breathe, and you feel every emotion with them. He is totally in tune with the zeitgeist of the 80s and the mood of working class boys and men: their arguments and banter, but also their fierce loyalty and need for each other.

The final book is a fitting end to the story of Bobby and his family and friends, perfectly told in tone and pace. The humour in amongst the sadness; the wit and charm; the music – everywhere the music; but above all the love, tenderness and friendship.

A perfect human trilogy. I can’t wait to see what David F. Ross does next.

 

David Ross photo 2

David’s Bio

I was born in Glasgow in 1964 and I lived in various part of the city until the late 70’s. I subsequently moved to Kilmarnock where I have lived since. Following a frankly ludicrous early foray into sporadic employment (Undertakers, Ice Cream Parlour, Tennis Groundsman, DJ…I’ll save these stories until I know you better) I found myself at Glasgow School of Art, studying architecture. I am now the Design Director of Keppie Design.

I have worked all over the world and I led our practice strategy for projects in countries as diverse as China, Egypt, Malaysia, India and Libya. I am a designated business leader for East Ayrshire Council, a Board Mentor for Entrepreneurial Spark and I was design advisor to Strathclyde Passenger Transport for their modernisation programme of the Glasgow Subway in advance of the 2014 Commonwealth Games.

I’m married to Elaine and I have two children, Nathan and Nadia.  I’m a Chelsea fan – from long before the cash-rich days – and I occasionally write stream of consciousness rubbish for @ByTheMinSport feeds on Twitter.

My most prized possession is a signed Joe Strummer LP, and The Last Days Of Disco is my first novel.

Don’t forget to follow the rest of the blog tour!!

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The Restless Dead

the restless dead

 

The Restless Dead

by Simon Beckett

 

It was on a Friday evening that forensics consultant Dr David Hunter took the call: a Detective Inspector Lundy from the Essex force. Just up the coast from Mersea Island, near a place called Backwaters, a badly decomposed body has been found and the local police would welcome Hunter’s help with the recovery and identification . . . But Hunter has his doubts about the identity of the remains. The hands and feet are missing, the face no longer recognisable. 

With its eerie and claustrophobic sense of place, explosive heart-in-mouth moments, and viscerally authentic forensics and police procedural detail, coupled with David Hunter’s own uncanny ability to understand the living as much as the dead, The Restless Dead stands as a masterclass in crime fiction and marks the stunning return of one of the genre’s best.

 

Dr David hunter is called by Essex police to assist with the recovery of a body in an area of marsh land known as the Backwaters. Being out of favour with the police due to circumstances in his past, he is hopeful this could be a turning point in his career.

The remains are thought to be those of the son of local businessman and landowner Sir Stephen Villiers, who has used his power and influence to hamper the investigation from the moment his son went missing. But when the body is recovered Hunter is not convinced that it is Leo villiers, and when more bodies are discovered, the mystery deepens.

This is crime writing at its intelligent best with superb characters, meaning the pages practically turn themselves.  Dr David Hunter as the main character is very well drawn, he has been the subject of previous books, but this can easily be read as a standalone, you get just enough back story to get a feel for the character but not too much to be over-whelming.

The setting of the Essex Backwaters is creepy and atmospheric, it is almost a character in itself and the introduction of the family through the setting is excellently told. This family have secrets abound and David Hunter finds himself entangled in the middle of it, to the detriment of his job. The twists and turns come thick and fast and, thanks to the calibre of the writing, are totally surprising. The denouement was totally unexpected and original.

The forensic detail is absolutely fascinating and this book will appeal to fans of Patricia Cornwell and Kathy Reichs.

Highly recommended

 

Many thanks to martin Myers of Penguin/Random House for sending me a copy.

 

 

 

A Dangerous Crossing

A Dangerous Crossing

 

A Dangerous Crossing

by Rachel Rhys

 

1939, Europe on the brink of war. Lily Shepherd leaves England on an ocean liner for Australia, escaping her life of drudgery for new horizons. She is instantly seduced by the world onboard: cocktails, black-tie balls and beautiful sunsets. Suddenly, Lily finds herself mingling with people who would otherwise never give her the time of day.

But soon she realizes her glamorous new friends are not what they seem. The rich and hedonistic Max and Eliza Campbell, mysterious and flirtatious Edward, and fascist George are all running away from tragedy and scandal even greater than her own.

By the time the ship docks, two passengers are dead, war has been declared, and life will never be the same again.

 

Lily shepherd is travelling to Australia, taking advantage of a government assisted place programme. She has to spend two years in domestic service when she arrives, but nevertheless she is looking forward to her new life and new adventures, hoping it will help her escape events from her past life.

The ocean liner provides an existence bubble away from the protocols of real life; class boundaries blur and unlikely friendships are struck up.

Set in the period leading up to WWII, many of the ship’s passengers are trying to escape the impending war and their own dark secrets. As the voyage goes on it becomes clear that something tragic is going to happen.

I absolutely adored this Agatha Christiesque tale of decadence and intrigue. The sights, sounds and smells of this ocean liner are brought brilliantly to life by clever, astute writing of the highest order. The stop-overs at the various countries immerse you in the crowds, the bustle, the cultures; you don’t just read this book: you feel it and experience it.

The characters are wonderful, Lily, who is at the heart of the story, trying to escape her demons and forge a new life; Max and Eliza, first class passengers who befriend Lily; the unstable George Price, with fascist leanings; Maria, a Jewish woman fleeing Europe and its impending war; and brother and sister Edward and Helena Fletcher who are also harbouring secrets.

The cover of the book is just perfect, the huge liner about to take over everyone’s life and one of the passenger’s (Lily?) so small looking up to a new life, yet seemingly up to her neck in water.

I am not sure how you would describe this book; it’s not classic murder/mystery with suspects, more historical drama with intrigue. However you describe it, it is wonderful, an absolute gem and highly recommended.

Many thanks to Alison Barrow at Transworld for sending me a copy

 

 

 

The Dollmaker

the dollmaker

 

The Dollmaker

Harriette Arnow

 

Strong-willed, self-reliant Gertie Nevels’s peaceful life in the Kentucky hills is devastated by the brutal winds of change. Uprooted from her backwoods home, she and her family are thrust into the confusion and chaos of wartime Detroit. And in a pitiless world of unendurable poverty, Gertie will battle fiercely and relentlessly to protect those things she holds most dear — her children, her heritage . . . and her triumphant ability to create beauty in the suffocating shadow of ugliness and despair.

 

There are books that you read that you think are good, then there are ones that you think are brilliant, but on top of that there is another category: masterpiece. The Dollmaker is an absolute masterpiece.

If the first chapter of this book doesn’t get your interest nothing will.  Gertie Nevels is riding her mule down the hills of kentucky to try to get emergency treatment for her sick son. we get a real taste for Gertie in this chapter, her strength and determination shines through.

Gertie and her family live in rural Appalachia. It is Gertie’s dream to own her own place and for her and her family to live off the land. But these are the dark days of WWII and the men are being taken away. The ones that aren’t conscripted are sent to Detroit to work for the industrial war machine. just when it seems that Gertie’s dream will come true; fate intervenes.

Taking all the children, she follows her husband to Detroit where life could not be more different or difficult. Living in a project scheme for workers at the factories there is no space, no privacy, nothing except grinding poverty.

Life for the family from here onwards is about making adjustments, but Gertie and her son, Reuben, find it the most difficult. When Gertie goes to meet the children’s teachers she is told in no uncertain terms that the problems Reuben has is because of his lack of adjustment, his refusal to fit in. Gertie’s retort to the obnoxious teacher is brilliant…

“but he cain’t help the way he’s made. It’s a lot more trouble to roll out steel-and make it like you want it-than it is biscuit dough.”

But Reuben’s failure to fit in, to find any kind of life for himself brings about one of Gertie’s many upheavals.

Gertie is such a brilliant character. in fact it is hard to think of her as a character in a book, she is so real your heart breaks for her. She is so strong and yet it seems impossible for her not to fall under the weight of her life. But she has children and responsibilities that she does not take lightly. there is a moment in the book when her husband says something to her that leaves you gasping. You wonder how she does not break, how she does not let hate take over her entire being. Gertie’s way of coping is whittling – sculpting from wooden blocks – she has a project that gives her some release from the hardship that she is living; but even that is somewhat taken from her and reduced to money-making.

There are two distinct settings to the book; the first is Kentucky, home for Gertie and her family, and the descriptions of the way people lived during the wartime, waiting for news of relatives fighting abroad is potent. The second setting is Detroit, this setting of total poverty, of the steel factory blazing away in the background, the multitude of characters living and struggling together, gives such depth to this novel. The book is told in local dialect which is totally necessary and quite easy to pick up and run with.

The war is always there in the background; although it is when it is over that most people are affected. When jobs begin to dry up and the animosity between employers and the unions wreaks terrible violence.

There is such devastation and tragedy in this novel, it is not an easy read, but there is also such savage beauty, charm, elegance and grace. I have found it so hard to write this review because I know I can’t do it justice, this book will stay with me for a very long time. It is re-released by Vintage as a lost classic and it quite simply is.

Many thanks to Rosanna at Vintage for sending me a copy.

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Intrusions

the-intrusions

 

The Intrusions

by Stav Sherez

 

When a distressed young woman arrives at their station claiming her friend has been abducted, and that the man threatened to come back and ‘claim her next’, Detectives Carrigan and Miller are thrust into a terrifying new world of stalking and obsession.

Taking them from a Bayswater hostel, where backpackers and foreign students share dorms and failing dreams, to the emerging threat of online intimidation, hacking, and control, The Intrusions explores disturbing contemporary themes with all the skill and dark psychology that Stav Sherez’s work has been so acclaimed for.

Under scrutiny themselves, and with old foes and enmities re-surfacing, how long will Carrigan and Miller have to find out the truth behind what these two women have been subjected to?

 

The first thing to say about this book is that it is fabulous: I mean truly fabulous.

The second thing to say is that it is scary: and I mean truly scary.

The book is set in Bayswater, London; temporary home to a transient population. When a resident in one of the hostels goes missing and her friend goes to the police, D.S. Geneva miller wants to investigate, but her boss D.I. Carrigan is sceptical until he is called to a murder site and the victim turns out to be Anna, the missing resident.

Carrigan is already in trouble with his superiors over past misdeeds, so when the case seems to be mired, he has to reluctantly accept the services of profiler, Ed Hoffman. They are not the best of friends.

The net is spread far and wide, encompassing countries, drugs,computer crime and social media.

I loved the characters of Carrigan and Miller, they worked so well together, and Geneva is my favourite name ever! All the characters are well-drawn and come across as real people; no copy and paste cliches here.

A book that is grounded in reality is always going to be unsettling and the premise here is extremely chilling. It will make you think every time you turn on your computer or go onto social media: how easy would it be for this to happen?

This book is such a wonderfully written, intelligent crime thriller. The layers of the crime are peeled away with subtlety to reveal twists, but also to deepen your understanding of the characters involved.

This is my first Stav Sherez novel; I have no idea how this has occurred, but I am off now to grab hold of his first two books and really hope that it’s not too long before his fourth is out.

 

 

 

In Bitter Chill

in-bitter-chill

 

In Bitter Chill

by Sarah Ward

 

Bampton, Derbyshire, January 1978. Two girls go missing: Rachel Jones returns, Sophie Jenkins is never found. Thirty years later: Sophie Jenkins’s mother commits suicide.

Rachel Jones has tried to put the past behind her and move on with her life. But news of the suicide re-opens old wounds and Rachel realises that the only way she can have a future is to finally discover what really happened all those years ago.

This is a story about loss and family secrets, and how often the very darkest secrets are those that are closest to you.

 

When Yvonne Jenkins commits suicide, rachel Jones is tossed back to her childhood when herself and her friend were kidnapped. Rachel made it back while Sophie was never seen again. The case is re-opened and D.I. Francis Sadler and his colleagues D. S. Damian Palmer and D.C. Connie Childs are charged with finding the answers.

Although the book is part police procedural, it is mainly Rachel’s story and it is such an interesting and complex story. As a character she is beautifully drawn. She is a genealogist and her past melds with her present turning her life upside down. Rachel needs to know what happened back in 1978.

Rural Derbyshire is a character in itself; the wild bleakness combined with the bitter chill of Winter really brings the setting to life.

I found this a really assured debut novel. I enjoyed the characters who were all fully-rounded and felt real. The detectives had enough of a personal life to bring them to life but not too much that it was a distraction from the main story. D.C. Sadler and D.C. Childs complimented each other well, their different personalities suiting each other.

The story was well-paced with plenty of twists and turns along the way and a complexity that made you think.

I thoroughly enjoyed the book and am looking forward to A Deadly Thaw, the second novel to feature Francis Sadler and Connie Childs, which is out in paperback on 2nd Feb 2017

 

Sarah Ward will be appearing at Urmston Bookshop on 2nd Feb2017. To buy tickets tel:0161 747 7442 or email: books@urmston-bookshop.co.uk

 

 

Deep Down dead

deep-down-dead

 

Deep Down Dead

by Steph Broadribb

 

Lori Anderson is as tough as they come, managing to keep her career as a fearless Florida bounty hunter separate from her role as single mother to nine-year-old Dakota, who suffers from leukaemia. But when the hospital bills start to rack up, she has no choice but to take her daughter along on a job that will make her a fast buck. And that’s when things start to go wrong. The fugitive she’s assigned to haul back to court is none other than JT, Lori’s former mentor – the man who taught her everything she knows … the man who also knows the secrets of her murky past.

 

Lori Anderson is a bounty hunter and is desperate for work to pay for her sick daughter’s medical bills. When she is offered a job for great money, she has to take it even though it involves bringing in her old mentor, J.T. – a man she has a lot of history with.

J.T. is the ‘outlaw’ that Lori has to bring to justice. He has his reasons for doing what he has done and those reasons become apparent as the story unfolds, and we follow the characters on a chase across America, ending up in a theme park in Florida, where all their lives are in danger and they have to work together to survive.

This is one action-packed thriller with characters that you really want to spend time with. Lori is such an original heroine; female bounty hunter and single mum. She is both feisty and warm, she is a character that you are rooting for from the start.

J.T. is a fabulous character, just the right mix of strong and determined and compassionate and caring. The relationship between himself and Lori hums along.

Steph Broadribb has written a compelling book that is a full-on page turner and unlike some action thrillers, it is not at the expense of character development. You need to make sure that you have plenty of time when you start reading this book because you really won’t want to put it down.

Orenda Books has a real new talent on its hands and I am looking forward to the next in the series.

 

Many thanks to Karen Sullivan for sending me a copy.