The Courier by Kjell Ola Dahl translated by Don Bartlett

The Courier sees one of Norway’s most critically- acclaimed authors at his best

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Book blurb

In Oslo in 1942, Jewish courier Ester is betrayed, narrowly avoiding arrest by the Gestapo. In great haste, she escapes to Sweden whilst the rest of her family is deported to Auschwitz. In Stockholm, Ester meets the resistance hero, Gerhard Falkum, who has left his little daughter and fled both the Germans and allegations that he murdered his wife, Åse, Ester’s childhood best friend. A relationship develops between them, but ends abruptly when Falkum dies in a fire.
And yet, twenty-five years later, Falkum shows up in Oslo. He wants to reconnect with his daughter Turid. But where has he been, and what is the real reason for his return? Ester stumbles across information that forces her to look closely at her past, and to revisit her war-time training to stay alive…

My thoughts

Some years ago I was in Munich and decided to make the trip to Dachau concentration camp. I visited the main camp (there were many satellite camps which came under the control of Dachau) it was a moving experience not least because, though quite sanitised, it allowed me to feel something of the reality of these appalling places. I had travelled from Munich by train and walked from there to the camp – the very route that thousands of prisoners had been forced to march down many ultimately to die.  Nazi Germany not only went to war in 1939 it set out to implement their policy of mass murder of Jews and other persecuted groups, now known as the Holocaust or The Shoah, across Europe. This took place throughout occupied Europe and which had begun with the building of Dachau in 1933. Initially used for dissidents, political and religious prisoners then from 1934 Gypsies, Jehovah’s Witnesses, homosexuals, the disabled and increasingly Jews. It is believed that 243,000 people died there. There were many other camps across Nazi Europe such as Auschwitz (Poland), opened in 1940, were an estimated 1.1 million people died. Death as a result of extermination (gas chambers), execution, forced labour, starvation, disease and medical experimentation. It is difficult to contemplate such horrific atrocities. We should not forget.

The Courier 

Set in Norway The Courier gives the reader an insight into how Nazi policies impacted on the people of countries which it invaded and highlights, for many, a less well-known story of WWII. It is, perhaps, Major Vidkun Quisling (1887–1945), the Norwegian army officer and diplomat who ruled Norway on behalf of the German occupying forces (1940–45) that most may recognise because of the word quisling, that is: a traitor who collaborates with an enemy force occupying their country.

The book opens with Turid who, when reading her newspaper, sees an item up for auction – an item she believes is hers. Since the auction house refuses to discuss the matter Turid, a retired lawyer, asks an ex colleague to help. We are then transported back to 1942 when a man, Gerhard Falkhum escapes from Norway to Sweden. A member of the resistance Gerhard is accused of murdering his partner Ãse and abandoning his daughter. Did he? Or was this a tactic of the Nazis to discredit the resistance?

We are then moved back and forth between 1942, where we first encountered Gerhard, Ãse and Ester and 1967 where Gerhard calls on Sverre and the story of what happened in 1942 gradually unfolds. Is Gerhard out for some kind of revenge? Or, as he says, does he simply wish to reconnect with is daughter?

We learn Esters story, a character so well drawn it is easy to relate to her, she carries and distributes illegal newspapers around Oslo but the net is tightening around her, has she been betrayed? She must flee or risk capture. Safe in Sweden Ester worries about her family, she saw her father taken, the family business closed and her mother has fled from the family home to stay with her grandma as it and their possessions are taken – for no other reason than that they are Jewish. Will she ever see any of them again?

As events unfold Ester and Sverre become increasingly nervous. Ester believes Sverre is playing a dangerous game. Ester feels that she is in danger, she starts to carry a weapon. Sverres house is broken into, nothing was taken, so why, what is going on?  Gerhards hotel room is ransacked, he is taken in for questioning by the police! Are they all in danger or is one of them the perpetrator? Who killed Ãse? What really happened in 1942? Will the truth come out?

This is not simply an historical murder mystery thriller but a fascinating and thoughtful story brought to life through its three main characters.

Beginning in the present we move seamlessly between that, 1942, 1967 and finally back to the present with an ending that made me, somewhat ruefully, smile.

A moving account of an horrific period in modern history. Kjell ove Dahl brings to life a story which is remarkable, enthralling and captivating. His writing is a deft, well-plotted story, with characters who are so believable – although not all are likeable – and into which you are effortlessly drawn.

 

Blog Tour 

With huge thanks to Orenda Books for an e-copy of The Courier and many thanks to Anne from #RandomThingsTours for inviting me on this wonderful #BlogTour

Like to read more? Then why not enjoy the rest….

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Information

Published:         Orenda Books     (21 March 2019)

Paperback
ISBN 9781912374434
EBook (21 January 2019)
ISBN 9781912374441
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Buy:                    Amazon UK (Smile)          Waterstones

Further Information

Oslo Jewish Museum          Jewish Museum London     IWM (UK)       NMAJH (USA)       United States Holocaust Memorial Museum

Author

06812BF4-C131-49F0-B00C-4891C91A4170One 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 eleven novels, the most prominent of which is 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. His work has been published in 14 countries, and he lives in Oslo.

Follow: @ko_dahl

 

Translator

DC6FB8A6-3F92-4002-A401-B02ABE8B5123Don Bartlett lives with his family in a village in Norfolk. He completed an MA in Literary Translation at the University of East Anglia in 2000 and has since worked with a wide variety of Danish and Norwegian authors, including Jo Nesbø and Karl Ove Knausgård. He has previously translated The Consorts of Death and Cold Hearts in the Varg Veum series.

 

 

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Freefall by Jessica Berry

Heart-stopping and addictive, FREEFALL is a stunning thriller that explores the deep and complex bond between mothers and daughters.

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Book blurb

Surviving the plane crash is only the beginning for Allison.

The life that she’s built for herself – her perfect fiancé, their world of luxury – has disappeared in the blink of an eye. Now she must run, not only to escape the dark secrets in her past, but to outwit the man who is stalking her every move.

On the other side of the country, Allison’s mother is desperate for news of her daughter, who is missing, presumed dead. Maggie refuses to accept that she could have lost her only child and sets out to discover the truth.

Mother and daughter must fight – for survival and to find their way through a dark web of lies and back to one another, before it’s too late…

My thoughts

An enjoyable read which brings two threads to the reader that of the thriller – Allison is running from someone and that of her mother, Maggie, who cannot accept that her daughter, who has been estranged from her for some time, has died. She wants to find out what happened.

It opens well and you have a good sense of tension building as Allison, badly injured, makes her escape from the air crash and away from whoever she believes is after her. As she does this we begin to get some of the back story in regard to what happened to Allison to put her into this position.

We then have her mother, understandably grieving and yet not accepting of what has happened, she wants answers and goes on a mission to find out what has been happening to Allison. Who is this man to whom she was engaged and who has crashed and died in the accident? She has a bad feeling about him. What she finds out will not only lead her to the truth but into danger.

Maggies is frustrated with the crash investigation and those close to her the police chief and his wife are trying to get her to accept that Allison has died but she can’t. She has to have proof.

We also learn about why the mother and daughter became estranged and this shows us how not trusting and communicating with those who we love can lead to loosing them.

Will Allison survive? What will happen to Maggie? Everything builds to a final, twisted and devastating conclusion.

Whilst delivering an ultimately good read, for me, it had moments that rather than turn up the tension slightly grated – during Allisons escape. Other readers may not notice or, indeed, may feel it enhances their experience.

There are some good characterisations Maggie in particular is believably and well portrayed. It is a book that addresses a number of issues – assisted death, family dynamics, grieving and loss – which adds layers and depth to the story.

An enjoyable read which gives a somewhat different slant, to me at least, on the thriller/mystery genre.

With thanks to Vantage via NetGalley for an eCopy of Freefall by Jessica Barry. All thoughts are my own, I have not received any payment for the review of this book.

Information

Publisher:               Vintage Digital  (28 Feb. 2019)

Buy:                          Amazon           Waterstones

 

Author:                 Jessica Barry is a pseudonym for an American author who has lived and worked in London with her husband and two cats, Roger and BoJack, for the past fifteen years. She spends much of her time reading, writing, running along the Thames and trying unsuccessfully to remove cat hair from the furniture.

Freefall, her debut thriller, has sold in more than seventeen territories around the world and has also secured a major Hollywood film deal.

Manchester Book Event: Orenda Roadshow 2019

 

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It isn’t often that you have the opportunity to see so many wonderful authors at a one-off event outside London so it was quite something when fourteen – yes, fourteen! – are going to turn up practically on your doorstep!  Coming in from so many countries it allowed us to see the richness of literature across the UK, Europe and Iceland.

Here they are…..

The quality of my photo’s aren’t great, just a few snaps, but I hope they give a flavour of the evening!

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Lilja Sigurdardottir (Snare, Trap)

E1F97803-A2ED-47AC-948C-CF5ABEBD2107I had seen Lilja, who hails from Iceland and most definitely is it’s ‘Princess of noir’, at Bloody Scotland last year but it was lovely to have an opportunity to chat and get her to sign a(nother) copy of Trap for me, even though I already have both Trap and Snare. Isn’t that a funky stamp 💀 and what a lovely lady Lilja is.  It’s just wonderful that the film rights for the series have been bought by Palomar Pictures in California.

 

Michael Malone (A Suitable Lie, House of Spines, After He Died)

901C4426-0DD6-4982-BCE0-E80AD4523A1DYou can’t see him – well maybe just a glimpse of his glasses if you look really closely in the picture above – but he’s definitely there! Michael comes from Scotland – he does all his own translations don’t you know (with thanks to Matt Wesolowski for the translation*) ha, ha! Here’s a glimpse of what he actually  looks like.

Will Carver (Good Samaritans)

Will’s reading, description and chat about The Good Samaritans had the audience chuckling, well guffawing, away and continued the wonderfully humorous and relaxed atmosphere.

90F9CD38-A628-4076-9594-01910242DB48Johana Gustawsson (Block 46, Keeper)

Just peeking in on the left Johana, who is French but now lives in London, was just lovely to chat to and kindly signed her book for me. Another of these terrific authors to have a TV adaptation currently underway in a French, Swedish and UK co-production.

Simone Buchholz (Blue Night, Beton Rouge)

Simone (sitting next to Johana) comes from Germany and writes the terrific Chastity Riley series. I was delighted to be able to tell her how much I enjoyed her book. Really folks do get yourselves a copy of one or other or maybe both.

Kjell Ola Dahl (Faithless, The Ice Swimmer, The Courier)

I’ll be on Kjell’s Blog Tour for The Courier so *no spoilers here* …. but really I’ve heard it’s…. No, you’ll just have to wait!

Antti Tuomainen (The Mine, The Man Who Died, Palm Beach Finland )

The recently published Palm Beach, Finland has been a massive critical success, with Marcel Berlins of The Times calling Antti  ‘the funniest writer in Europe’ and listening to his quips through the evening and his reading you can see why.

Thomas Enger (Cursed, Killed, Inborn)

It was fascinating to hear Thomas talk about writing a story which is for both YA and Adults. He is known for the best-selling Henning Juul series.

Louise Voss (The Old You)

Another lovely chat and book signing Louise (below on the left) has eleven published books to her name and it was a pleasure to meet her and get a copy of The Old You signed – this one’s for a gift.

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Steph Broadribb (Deep Down Dead, Deep Blue Trouble, Deep Dirty Truth)

We heard how Steph, (seen here in the middle) known to many as the crimethrillergirl, actually trained as a bounty hunter over in the US in order to write authentically her main character Lori Anderson – now there’s commitment for you!

 

 

Helen FitzGerald (The Cry, Worst Case Scenario)2AEB573E-9083-445F-96E4-7060600DD90C

Many of you will know Helen (on the right in the photo above) from The Cry (2013), which was longlisted for the Theakstons Old Peculier Crime Novel of the Year and was made into the much talked about 2018 BBC TV series. I was thrilled to attend the Bloody Scotland event last year and go to the packed out and fascinating  The Cry session. Helen, an Australian now living in Edinburgh, has a new book Worst Case Scenario out soon.

 

50AE1527-609E-47FE-921D-0FC28E7A3FDDLouise Beech (How To Be Brave, The Mountain in My Shoe, The Lion Tamer Who Lost, Call Me Star Girl)

Louise multi-talented – author, playwright and front-of-house theatre usher, what can I say? I have The Lion Tamer Who Lost (shortlisted for the RNA Most Popular Romantic Novel Award in 2019) on my TBR list and have heard only good things about it – I will get to it *soon*, honest!

Matt Wesolowski (Six Stories, Hydra, Changeling)

Can you describe a scary writer as endearing? Well if you can then Matt Wesolowski is the one. What an absolutely charming fellow he is! A sharp wit:

*Michael Malone (in a fairly strong Scottish accent) “I translate all my own work” quick as you like Matt (slowly, very pronounced) “Michael tran-s-lates aaaall his own work” Much appreciated by the audience and fellow authors, ha, ha!

He also has a unique way of reading (tap, tap; tap, tap) to conjure up the required atmosphere. I was so tempted to buy Changeling it sounds so good but maybe a bit too scary for me! Then again you never know.

Well there we are a lovely evening was had by all, well by me and several others that I chatted to. It was so good to finally meet Jill (@JillsBookCafe ) a fellow blogger whose blog is well worth a look.

David Ross (Welcome to the Heady Heights)

Sadly David was ill, hope he soon recovered, and could not attend.

Translators

Just a quick shout out, this was spoken about on the evening, to the tremendous folk who translated many of the above books – without you we in the UK would not be able to read those books and wouldn’t that be a great loss for us? This is also true of translation of the above books originally written in English into other languages.  Information about them can be found on Orenda’s site.

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Finally

The evening was brought to Manchester by Karen and the team at Orenda Books with Waterstones (Manchester Deansgate) and a fine time it was, thanks folks.

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Bitter Edge by Rachel Lynch

DI Kelly Porter is back, but so is an old foe and this time he won’t back down…

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D I Kelly Porter Series Book 4

Book blurb

When a teenage girl flings herself off a cliff in pursuit of a gruesome death, DI Kelly Porter is left asking why. Ruled a suicide, there’s no official reason for Kelly to chase answers, but as several of her team’s cases converge on the girl’s school, a new, darker story emerges. One which will bring Kelly face-to-face with an old foe determined to take back what is rightfully his – no matter the cost.

Mired in her pursuit of justice for the growing list of victims, Kelly finds security in Johnny, her family and the father she has only just discovered. But just as she draws close to unearthing the dark truth at the heart of her investigation, a single moment on a cold winter’s night shatters the notion that anything in Kelly’s world can ever truly be safe.

My thoughts

The opening chapter of Bitter Edge will twist your insides out as you reach for the tissues! Rachel Lynch does not flinch at telling the reader of the darkest side of life. In this complex tale that covers suicide, drugs, murder, missing teenagers and child abduction we are once again in the glorious, but rather bleak side, of the Lake District.

D I Kelly Porter has a lot on her plate when a teenager lays serious accusations against a teacher and the death of another teenager is ruled as suicide. Kelly doesn’t want to let it go but there seems to be nothing more to say and her team must investigate what has happened with pupil and teacher but lies are being told. Then a teenager is reported missing and things get a whole lot worse and even more lies are being told. Can Kelly and her team get to the truth? The weather doesn’t help as the temperature drops and the snow falls.

On the personal side we have the progression of her relationship with Johnny, who now has his teenage daughter living with him, sister Nikki and the discovery of her parentage which her mum Wendy is also living with along with Wendy’s terminal illness.

The characters are well drawn and it’s good to get to know more about the team. Kelly is shown not only as the terrific detective that she is but is given the human touch through her thoughts, how she handles the people she comes across through her work and her relationships.

This wonderful series has brought us an absolute stunner of a fourth book. Rachel Lynch writes so well that you cannot help but be engrossed in it’s dark, twisty storyline. The subject matters, harrowing though they are and bringing such profound sadness with them, are so well written, handled so carefully and with such honesty you are compelled to read not just to find out ‘whodunnit’ but to find out if everyone truly gets what they deserve.

This book, indeed the series, is highly recommended so if you’re looking for a really good read you don’t need to look any further.

Blog Tour

With thanks to Ellie at Canelo for the Blog Tour invite and to Canelo via NetGalley for an eCopy of Bitter Edge. These are purely my own thoughts, for which I have received no payment.  Like to read more? Then take a look……

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 Dark Game       Deep Fear       Dead End

Information

Publisher:     56E15FF9-826E-4EEA-AF5F-602DF5C400A4         Canelo

Publication Date:                                     25 Feb 2019

ISBN:                                                          9781788632676

Buy:                                                                           Amazon UK (Smile)

Author:

F6AD47FB-2EC7-4C7D-B9AB-F490E1884BF2Rachel Lynch grew up in Cumbria and the lakes and fells are never far away from her. London pulled her away to teach History and marry an Army Officer, whom she followed around the globe for thirteen years. A change of career after children led to personal training and sports therapy, but writing was always the overwhelming force driving the future. The human capacity for compassion as well as its descent into the brutal and murky world of crime are fundamental to her work.

Rachel Lynch at Canelo           Twitter: ‎@r_lynchcrime

D I Porter Series – The books

 

Coming soon!

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Buy: Bold Lies 27th May 2019

 

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Dead End by Rachel Lynch

D I Kelly Porter: Book 3

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Book blurb

When the seventh Earl of Lowesdale is found hanging from the rafters at Wasdale Hall, everyone assumes the aging, hard-partying aristocrat had finally had enough of chasing the glory of his youth. But when the coroner finds signs of foul play, DI Kelly Porter is swept into a luxurious world where secrets and lies dominate.

At the same time, two young hikers go missing and it’s up to Kelly to lead the search. But digging deeper reveals ties to two other unsolved disappearances and Kelly and her team find themselves in a race against time.

Now, as all roads of both investigations and Kelly’s own family secrets lead to Wasdale Hall it becomes more important than ever for Kelly to discover the devious truths hidden behind the walls of the Lake District’s most exclusive estate…

My thoughts

F6AD47FB-2EC7-4C7D-B9AB-F490E1884BF2I was part of the Blog Tour for Dead End (this link will give you all the information on Rachel and her books) last October when I was delighted to contribute with a terrific extract from the book. Rachel Lynch is fast becoming a firm favourite of mine, and many other readers, with the DI Kelly Porter series and I’m thrilled that I will be on the Blog Tour for book four Bitter Edge in a few days – do come back then it’s on 5th March.  Anyway, I thought it was a good time to say a few words about Dead End.

Rachel Lynch is building up Kelly’s character, background and life as we read and yet this in no way distracts from the plot of the missing hickers or the investigation into the suspicious death at Wasdale Hall.  Everything is weaved together so well and moves at such a good pace that you never feel bogged down it just flows.

The setting of the Lake District, an area I know a little and love, is wonderful and Rachel Lynch portrays it so well you feel as if you are there walking the fells, ambling around the various lakes and even driving around the area. For you or I that will be to enjoy some sightseeing, beautiful views and interesting spots. For D I Kelly Porter whilst it may be clearing her head when she runs mostly it’s in the line of duty chasing down evidence to, in this book, find out what happened at Wasdale Hall or find the missing hikers. You become immersed in the story.

Every word of these books are necessary Rachel Lynch’s book is tightly written and yet you get a wealth of information, description and a story with a terrific plot, wonderful characters – I’m sure there will be more on Kellys team through the series as well as her family – and the ‘goodies’ and ‘baddies’ that make for compelling reading in a mystery-thriller crime story.

It is this incredible ability to write so compactly, sometimes using short chapters, which builds the tension and keeps you gripped. With enough possible suspects to keep you guessing, plenty of insight into the workings of a case – or two, in this instance – the life of a police officer, the characters and setting all combines to give a very realistic portrayal of a police investigation.

So a tense, atmospheric book with a great setting and characters and a series which just keeps getting better I am so looking forward to Bitter Edge.

With thanks to Ellie at Canelo for the Blog Tour invite and to Canelo via NetGalley for an eCopy of Dead End. These are purely my own thoughts, for which I have received no payment.

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A Testament to Murder by Vivian Conroy

Suspenseful from the first page to the last…

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Book blurb

A dying billionaire. Nine would-be heirs. But only one will take the prize…

At the lush Villa Calypso on the French Riviera, a dying billionaire launches a devious plan: at midnight each day he appoints a new heir to his vast fortune. If he dies within 24 hours, that person takes it all. If not, their chance is gone forever.

Yet these are no ordinary beneficiaries, these men who crossed him, women who deceived him, and distant relations intent on reclaiming the family fortune. All are determined to lend death a hand and outwit their rivals in pursuit of the prize.

As tensions mount with every passing second, retired Scotland Yard investigator Jasper must stay two steps ahead of every player if he hopes to prevent the billionaire’s devious game from becoming a testament to murder…

My thoughts

“Never do anything yourself that others can do for you.” (Agatha Christie, The Labours of Hercules)

Malcolm Bryce-Rutherford brings together nine potential heirs to his vast fortune explaining he is ill, does not have long to live and informs them of his plan on how to determine who will inherit everything. Each one of the nine will have 24 hours as his heir and, should he die on that day, that person will inherit his entire fortune.

Vivian Conroy draws outrageously wonderful characters from Malcolm’s lily-livered nephew Hugh, his conniving wife Patty to his telltale of a former secretary Theodora. Not to mention Cecily, Malcolm’s former wife, her husband Howard and son Kenneth. None of them particularly like each other in some cases they downright dislike each other so there is no love lost amongst the potential heirs. The scene is set for a rip-roaring tale of mayhem and murder.

We are introduced to each of these individuals, none are particularly likeable but would one of them murder for for such an inheritance? Will they risk being the accused – for who is most likely to kill Malcolm on a given day other than the one who will inherit? However, they are not to be told whose name is on the Will on each day. So will alliances be made amongst this motley bunch? There are plenty of secrets amongst our characters will that be their downfall? Can someone be manipulated into murdering Malcolm?

“The game is afoot!” (The phrase comes from Shakespeare’s King Henry IV Part I, 1597: “Before the game is afoot, thou still let’st slip.” It is also a phrase used by Sherlock Holmes when pursuing a lead in a case.)

As the story unfolds we come to know a more of how our possible heirs think with regard to how they are going to get themselves into prime position to inherit. 

“Oh what a tangled web we weave” (Sir Walter Scott, from his 1808 poem Marmion.)

Kenneth and Anna, two of the potential heirs, go out together on a boat but something happens and the boat overturns. Enter ex-Inspector Jasper who discovers Kenneth barely alive, and seemingly traumatised, washed up on the beach. Anna has survived as well, having swum ashore.

Deception! – lot’s of secrets, lot’s of manipulation makes for a story full of twists and turns.

Greed! – who is lying, who is telling the truth?

Jasper tries to persuade Malcolm to stop his inheritance plan there is too much is at risk.

“Everything must be taken into account. If the fact will not fit the theory—let the theory go.”  (Agatha Christie, The Mysterious Affair at Styles)

And then a body is found! Jasper agrees to help the French police investigation. Malcolm is persuaded to suspend his plan but even so another body is discovered. Jasper revisits all the evidence. Two deaths and a number of strange incidents – What is happening? Who is really responsible?

Will Jasper work out the truth? Will you, reader, put the clues together?

This delightfully constructed mystery will keep you guessing to the end when, even if you think you got it, there is still a final twist and a little something more to ponder!

Jasper (ex Inspector Jasper of Scotland Yard), now living in France, will no doubt become a firm favourite for those who enjoy a twisty plot to the mystery books that they read. Vivian Conroy conjures up just such a plot in this splendid story set in the glorious surroundings of a French villa.

With thanks to Ellie at Canelo for the Blog Tour invite and to Canelo via NetGalley for an eCopy of A Testment to Murder. These are purely my own thoughts, for which I have received no payment.

Blog Tour

Here’s the rest of this terrific tour, why not take a look…

 

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Information

Publisher: Canelo (18 Feb 2019)

Buy:

Amazon (UK)

Kobo (UK)

Google Books (UK)

Apple Books (UK)

Author: Armed with cheese and chocolate, Vivian Conroy sits down to create the aspirational settings, characters with secrets up their sleeves, and clever plots which took several of her mysteries to #1 bestseller in multiple categories on Amazon US and Canada. Away from the keyboard, Vivian likes to hike (especially in the Swiss mountains), hunt for the perfect cheesecake and experience the joy in every-day life, be it a fiery sunset, a gorgeous full moon or that errant butterfly descending on the windowsill.

Vivian Conroy: Books in order

GoodReads: Vivian Conroy Authors Page                Twitter: @VivWrites

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The Forbidden Place by Susanne Jansson. Translator: Rachel Willson-Broyles

A dark, brilliant suspense novel from a fantastic new voice in international literature.

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Book blurb

In the remote Swedish wetlands lies Mossmarken: the village on the edge of the mire where, once upon a time, people came to leave offerings to the gods.

Biologist Nathalie came in order to study the peat bogs. But she has a secret: Mossmarken was once her home, a place where terrible things happened. She has returned at last, determined to confront her childhood trauma and find out the truth.

Soon after her arrival, she finds an unconscious man out on the marsh, his pockets filled with gold – just like the ancient human sacrifices. A grave is dug in the mire, which vanishes a day after. And as the police investigate, the bodies start to surface…

Is the mire calling out for sacrifices, as the superstitious locals claim? Or is it an all-too-human evil?

An international sensation, THE FORBIDDEN PLACE is a darkly gripping tale of the stories we tell ourselves to survive, and the terrible consequences they can have.

My thoughts

Natalie returns to Mossmarken ostensibly to continue her research into peat bogs but she lived here when young and is inexorably drawn to the area. The past will continue to haunt her. How could it not? Such awful things had happened, her life had changed dramatically that night many years before.

Natalie doesn’t find it easy to connect to people but strikes up a friendship with a student from the local Art college. They have an affinity of kinds. He often cycles in the area, passing by Natalie’s cottage. He is out cycling when a storm begins and then quickly disappears. Natalie is alarmed, worried and goes out to look for him, he’s been attacked and left for dead.

We follow Natalie along with Leif, the detective in charge of the investigation, and Myra a local artist, a photographer who works with the police part-time.

After more bodies are found in Mossmarken with all the hallmarks of the local superstition of ritual deaths that surrounds the area, of apparitions seen out on the bog, will Natalie find out the truth about her past? Will Leif discover what is happening?

This is a twisty tale in which Susanne Jansson leads you down the garden path, or should I say along the boggy walkways, in this rather eerie tale of ancient rituals, twisted thoughts and appalling crimes. Rather Christie like at the end with the denouement being announced in the community meeting with all the possible suspects gathered, will it really be a human rather than a spiritual tragedy? Susanne Jansson keeps you guessing to the very end.

With thanks to Mulholland Books via NetGalley for an eCopy of The Forbidden Place by Susanne Jansson. All thoughts are my own, I have not received any payment for the review of this book.

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Publisher: Mulholland Books

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EAC9CBD5-BE9A-4EE4-845E-1E4D5979E3E9Author: Susanne Jansson was born in 1972 in Åmål, Sweden. She later moved to Gothenburg to work in advertising and then to New York to study photography. After returning to Sweden, she worked as a freelance photographer while studying journalism, and for the past twenty years she has been combining her work as a photographer with being a freelance journalist focusing on reportage and profile stories in areas such as arts and culture. She has also written crime short stories for weekly magazines. She lives with her family in Lerum outside Gothenburg. The Forbidden Place is her debut novel, and has sold in twenty five territories around the world.

 

 

80115430-57D1-4866-8244-5D168BED04EBTranslator: Rachel Willson-Broyles  became interested in Sweden and the Swedish language at an early age. She majored in Scandinavian Studies at Gustavus Adolphus College in St. Peter, Minnesota, and received her BA there in 2002. She started translating while a graduate student at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, where she received a Ph.D. in Scandinavian Studies in 2013.  Rachel lives in Saint Paul, Minnesota.