Tuesday, 23 May 2017

Tour and Review : Two Lost Boys by L. F. Robertson

The Very Pink Notebook is thrilled to be part of the Two Lost Boys by L. F. Robertson
blog tour.  With thanks to Philippa at Titan Books for involving me in the tour and for an advance copy of the book.

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Published by : Titan Books
16 May 2017
Copy : Paperback provided by Publisher

The Blurb

She knows he's guilty, but guilty of what?

Janet Moodie has spent years as a death row appeals attorney. Overworked and recently widowed, she's had her fill of hopeless cases, and is determined that this will be her last. Her client is Marion 'Andy' Hardy, convicted along with his brother Emory of the rape and murder of two women. But Emory received a life sentence while Andy got the death penalty, labeled the ringleader despite his low IQ and Emory's dominant personality.

Convinced that Andy's previous lawyers missed mitigating evidence that would have kept him off death row, Janet investigates Andy's past. She discovers a sordid and damaged upbringing, a series of errors on the part of his previous counsel, and most worrying of all, the possibility that there is far more to the murders than was first thought. Andy may be guilty, but does he deserve to die?

The Very Pink Notebook Review

Two lost boys is a well written legal drama.  Being a big Grisham fan I was really happy to be asked to review this title and it did give me the nostalgia of reading a JG novel.  It is what it says, it is a legal drama, and we are taken through it via female protagonist Janet Moodie. 

Moodie is living a lonely life following the death of her husband and flying of the nest by only son Gavin.  She has retreated to a quieter world, away from the city and death row and stares that make her feeling guilty about her husbands suicide.  What the reader is left with is a very simple women who is just trying to recover from a massive trauma. 

I think it is her own life upsets which compels are to tackle the case of Marion 'Andy' Hardy.  She is convinced that although guilty for sure of some part in his crime the truth has not actually come out.  She is convinced his past is the key to his way out of a death penalty.  And that is what the book investigates.  The reader is merely on the journey with Moodie and fellow investigator Dave as they try and delve into the family history and events that could have made Andy the person he is today. 

This is not a story that is going to set your world alight with twists and turns.  But, if you enjoy reading about the structure and routine that goes into the legal world in something such as a death penalty appeal, then you will enjoy this book.  It's writing flows easily and clearly, it keeps a steady pace and you really do get a good feel for the characters.  It really is quite a sad and morose story.

On occasion I did find some of the chapters a little repetitive and wasn't quite sure how they had moved the plot forward, but on the whole I did thoroughly enjoy the tale told my L. F. Robertson in this book.  The ending I at first found a little flat, but as the day wore on I realised it was a very realistic ending and, actually, I quite liked that.

Two Lost Boys by L. F. Robertson receives a solid :


About the Author

L. F. Robertson is a practising defence attorney who for the last two decades has handled only death penalty appeals.  Linda is the co-author of The Complete Idiots Guide to Unsolved Mysteries, and a contributor to the forensic handbooks How to Try a Murder and Irrefutable Evidence.  She has had short stories published in the anthologies My Sherlock Holmes, Sherlock Holmes : the Hidden Years and Sherlock Holmes : The American Years. 

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Thursday, 18 May 2017

Tour & Giveaway - Reconciliation for the Dead by Paul E. Hardisty

Book Giveaway

To celebrate the upcoming publication of
Reconciliation for the Dead (Claymore Straker Series 3) by Paul E. Hardisty (Orenda Books) 
The Very Pink Notebook is hosting a giveaway!

To get your hands on a copy of this gritty thriller click on this link and retweet the pinned tweet - Simple!  A winner will be selected at random on publication day (30 May 2017) and notified via twitter.

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Published by : Orenda Books
30 May 2017
Copy for Competition : Provided by Publisher

The Blurb

Fresh from events in Yemen and Cyprus, vigilante justice-seeker Claymore Straker returns to South Africa, seeking absolution for the sins of his past. Over four days, he testifies to Desmond Tutu’s newly established Truth and Reconciliation Commission, recounting the shattering events that led to his dishonourable discharge and exile, fifteen years earlier. It was 1980. The height of the Cold War. Clay is a young paratrooper in the South African Army, fighting in Angola against the Communist insurgency that threatens to topple the White Apartheid regime. On a patrol deep inside Angola, Clay, and his best friend, Eben Barstow, find themselves enmeshed in a tangled conspiracy that threatens everything they have been taught to believe about war, and the sacrifices that they, and their brothers in arms, are expected to make. Witness and unwitting accomplice to an act of shocking brutality, Clay changes allegiance and finds himself labelled a deserter and accused of high treason, setting him on a journey into the dark, twisted heart of institutionalised hatred, from which no one will emerge unscathed. Exploring true events from one of the most hateful chapters in South African history, Reconciliation for the Dead is a shocking, explosive and gripping thriller from one finest writers in contemporary crime fiction.


Praise for Paul E. Hardisty

‘A solid, meaty thriller – Hardisty is a fine writer and Straker is a great lead character’ Lee Child

‘A trenchant and engaging thriller that unravels this mysterious land in cool, precise sentences’ Stav Sherez, Catholic Herald

‘Just occasionally, a book comes along to restore your faith in a genre – and Paul Hardisty does this in spades’ Sharon Wheeler, Crime Review

This is a remarkably well-written, sophisticated novel in which the people and places, as well as frequent scenes of violent action, all come alive on the page...’ Literary Review

‘Hardisty doesn’t put a foot wrong in this forceful, evocative thriller … the author’s deep knowledge of the settings never slows down the non-stop action, with distant echoes of a more-moral minded Jack Reacher or Jason Bourne’ Maxim Jakubowski


About the Author

Canadian Paul E Hardisty has spent 25 years working all over the world as an engineer, hydrologist and environmental scientist.  He has roughnecked on oil rigs in Texas, explored for gold in the Arctic, mapped geology in Eastern Turkey (where he was befriended by PKK rebels), and rehabilitated water wells in the wilds of Africa.  He was Ethiopia in 1991 as the Mengistu regime fell, and was bumped from one of the last flights out of Addis Ababa by bureaucrats and their families fleeing the rebels.  In 1993 he survived a bomb blast in a café in Sana's.  Paul is a university professor, visiting professor at Imperial College, London, and Director of Australia's national land, water, ecosystems and climate adaption research programmes.  His debut thriller was shortlisted for the CWA New Blood Dagger and Telegraph thriller of the year.  He lives in Western Australia.


Sunday, 14 May 2017

Review : The Vinyl Detective - The Run-Out Groove by Andrew Cartmel

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Published by : Titan Books
9 May 2017
Copy : ARC copy received from publisher

The Blurb

His first adventure consisted of the search for a rare record; his second the search for a lost child. Specifically the child of Valerian, lead singer of a great rock band of the 1960s, who hanged herself in mysterious circumstances after the boy's abduction.

Along the way, the Vinyl Detective finds himself marked for death, at the wrong end of a shotgun, and unknowingly dosed with LSD as a prelude to being burned alive. And then there's the grave robbing...
 

The Very Pink Notebook Review

The second in a trilogy, The Vinyl Detective - The Run-Out Groove, is another well written, laugh out loud (well, I did) confident offering from Andrew Cartmel.

Thrust back into the world of the Vinyl Detective (name of the character is, as yet, not revealed - which must be quite tricky for the author to work around!) I did wonder how similar the storyline would be to the first, given essentially at the beginning the protagonist was after another rare record.  I need not have worried, it is vastly different and again, despite the humour running throughout it is actually a serious plot.

Packed with another set of punchy characters, I was glad to see the return of some others, namely Nevada, Tinkler, Stinky and Fanny and Turk (the cats) and to travel around the rocker scene of past era's in the search for the truth about wild child Valerian.  We are given a colourful history of the women in question via people who were close to the singer, and discover some uncomfortable truths about her family along the way.

Of course, when the truth is somewhat misty, it is usually so for a reason and the Vinyl Detective and Co quickly discover there is someone that wishes for it to remain that way.  Not quite sure if they are in 'Paranoia Heights' after their last dramatic escapade, the gang must try and determine who they can trust, if anyone.

Although it didn't have me quite as 'on the edge of my seat' as book number one, I did thoroughly enjoy book number two and would again highly recommend it.  I also learned what, exactly, a Run-Out Groove is.

As such The Vinyl Detective - The Run-Out Groove by Andrew Cartmel receives a Very Pink Notebook rating of :


About the Author

Andrew Cartmel is a novelist and screenwriter.  His work for television includes Midsomer Murders and Torchwood, and a legendary stint as Script Editor on Doctor Who.  He has also written plays for the London Fringe, toured as a stand-up comedian, and is currently co-writing with Ben Aaronovitch a series of comics based on the bestselling Rivers of London books.  He lives in London.

The Vinyl Detective Books

The Vinyl Detective The Run-Out Groove is out on 9th May 2017.
The Vinyl Detective Victory Disc is out May 2018.
    

Tuesday, 2 May 2017

Review : The Vinyl Detective - Written in Dead Wax by Andrew Cartmel

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Published by : Titan Books
10 May 2016
Copy : Paperback - Received from Publisher

The Blurb


He is a record collector — a connoisseur of vinyl, hunting out rare and elusive LPs. His business card describes him as the “Vinyl Detective” and some people take this more literally than others.

Like the beautiful, mysterious woman who wants to pay him a large sum of money to find a priceless lost recording — on behalf of an extremely wealthy (and rather sinister) shadowy client.

Given that he’s just about to run out of cat biscuits, this gets our hero’s full attention. So begins a painful and dangerous odyssey in search of the rarest jazz record of them all…


The Very Pink Notebook Review


Behind the slapstick style jacket of Written in Dead Wax lies an extremely complex plot which Andrew Cartmel delivers with both ease and humour.

I absolutely loved the way this book has been written, it is plain, straight-forward and down to earth.  Even though it has a lot of information about vintage record collecting, all it's quirks and anomalies, it is never once dull, boring or pretentious.  This is all down to the protagonist, the Vinyl Detective himself - an ordinary, run of the mill, cat loving chap - who happens to have an absolute and complete obsession with finding and collecting / selling (depending on how broke he is) - you guessed it - Vinyl.  And not just any vinyl, Jazz, which as it turns out can turn into a rather sinister business.  And it is the Vinyl Detectives plain ordinariness which makes him so endearing to the reader.

Scraping by on lucky finds of unusual vinyl's and selling them on the net is a far cry from where he finds himself when beautiful, intelligent and sharp-witted Nevada enters his life with the opportunity of a lifetime - unfortunately for him, he finds that because of the opportunity it could possibly be a short lifetime because the more involved he gets in finding the elusive vinyl he is commissioned to track down, the higher the body count becomes... but he is so honest and normal about everything the title of 'hero' is not out of place.

Add to the mix a couple of geeky and typical guy friends, you have a mix perfect for a good injection of humour to punctuate what actually becomes a fairly serious storyline including murder most foul, robberies and sabotage.

Now, when I started reading 'Side One' (clever huh!) I was enjoying it most certainly, but you quickly realise there is going to be far more to this book than merely the hunt and race to find the vinyl, then you reach 'Side Two' and a whole different pace begins.  'Side Two' I read in one sitting - I could not put it down and was pleased that the humour I was enjoying so much did not dissipate.

I liked how complete this book felt, it had a clear beginning, middle and end with all questions getting answers.  I thoroughly enjoyed all the dialogue between the characters and at one point or another I questioned them all, which again demonstrated confident and tight plotting and writing.

I am already looking forward to reading more in the first person eyes of The Vinyl Detective and discovering if Nevada sticks around, if Tinkler still has an obsession for grapes and if the cats manage to survive the 'road to rehab' (see opening chapter of book!)

The Vinyl Detective - Written in Dead Wax by Andrew Cartmel gets a must read Very Pink Notebook rating of :


About the Author

Andrew Cartmel is a novelist and screenwriter.  His work for television includes Midsomer Murders and Torchwood, and a legendary stint as Script Editor on Doctor Who.  He has also written plays for the London Fringe, toured as a stand-up comedian, and is currently co-writing with Ben Aaronovitch a series of comics based on the bestselling Rivers of London books.  He lives in London.

The Vinyl Detective Books

The Vinyl Detective Written in Dead Wax is available NOW.
The Vinyl Detective The Run-Out Groove is out on 9th May 2017.
The Vinyl Detective Victory Disc is out May 2018.

Thursday, 27 April 2017

Tour and Review - Faithless by Kjell Ola Dahl

The Very Pink Notebook is thrilled to be part of the tour for
Kjell Ola Dahl's, Nordic Noir, Faithless
With thanks to Karen and Anne at Orenda Books
for involving me in the tour and for an advance copy of the book.

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Published by Orenda Books
15 May 2017
Copy - Received from publisher as part of Blog Tour

The Blurb

Oslo detectives Gunnarstranda and Frølich are back and this time, it’s personal… When the body of a woman turns up in a dumpster, scalded and wrapped in plastic, Inspector Frank Frølich is shocked to discover that he knows her and their recent meetings may hold the clue to her murder. As he ponders the tragic events surrounding her death, Frølich’s colleague Gunnarstranda investigates a disturbingly similar cold case involving the murder of a young girl in northern Norway and Frølich is forced to look into his own past to find the answers – and the killer – before he strikes again. 

The Very Pink Notebook Review

Although the blurb notes that the characters are 'back' and this novel is one in a series, it is perfectly readable as a stand-alone book.  I have been lucky enough to read quite a lot of Nordic Noir this year so when Faithless came onto the radar I was looking forward to reading it.

I have to say, I did struggle a little bit to actually get into it initially.  I found there were a lot of characters and story-lines and it all seemed a little disjointed to me.  I did find I had to go back and re-read parts on several occasions, but this is a slow burn book and gradually things did come together and I realised just what a complex plot the author has written.

The tone of the book - as you can gather from the synopsis - is very dark, however, Dahl has written in some absolute gems of cutting humour via the characters interaction and dialogue when in the police station / work environment setting.  For me, it made the characters very real and relatable.  Everyone knows the sort of characters you get at work and how annoying some of their habits can be and the author has tapped these into the story really well, lightening up what could be a rather grim read.

As I said, I did have to re-read a few sections and for me the writing didn't flow quite as easily as I like, but still it is confident and powerful writing with particularly nice use of imagery of Norway and
use of the weather to really add to the atmosphere building within the plot.  This book gives a very good lesson in showing and not telling.

If you like a gritty, complicated, police procedural novel to sink your teeth into then Faithless is a must read for you.

Faithless (Oslo Detectives) by Kjell Ola Dahl receives a Very Pink Notebook Rating of :

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Image result for faithless kjell ola dahl
  
 
About the Author

One of the fathers of the Nordic Noir genre, Kjell Ola Dahl was born in 1958 in Gjovik, Norway.  He made his debut in 1993 and has since published fifteen novels, the most prominent of which is a series of police procedurals cum psychological thrillers featuring investigators Gunnarstranda and Frolich.  In 2000 he won the Riverton Prize for The Last Fix and he has also been awarded both the prestigious Brage and Riverton Prizes for The Courier in 2015.  His work has been published in fourteen countries.  He lives in Oslo.

About the Translator

Don Barlett 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 Nesbo and Karl Ove Knausgard.  He has previously translated The Consorts of Death, Cold Hearts, We Shall Inherit the Wind and Where Roses Never Die in Gunner Staalesen's Varg Veum series.



Tuesday, 25 April 2017

Review : Amnesia by Michael Ridpath

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Published by Corvus (Atlantic Books)
04 May 2017
Copy - Paperback from Readers First


The Blurb

Alastair Cunningham wakes up in hospital with almost total amnesia. But he knows that something terrible happened in his past, something that haunts him still. A young family friend, Clémence is called in to help rekindle his memory. Retreating with Alastair to his remote cottage, Clémence finds a peculiar manuscript hidden away from prying eyes. Reading the prologue, she discovers a murder by someone very much like a young Alastair. The victim? Clémence’s grandmother, Sophie. Could this kindly old man truly be a killer? Clémence becomes determined to find out what happened all those years ago, even if she must risk everything to do so…


The Very Pink Notebook Review

This book starts in the thick of the action, immediately drawing you in and encouraging you to read on. Within the first few chapters the author establishes, very confidently and clearly, the two main characters, Clemence and Alastair who develop a clever and sometimes amusing, relationship.

Trying to regain his memory and piece together his life becomes a novel within a novel as the two read a seemingly autobiographic manuscript they find back at the cottage.  The reader is taken back to Alastair's life as a young man at University and the relationships he develops there which result in long reaching consequences.  A truly tangled web of deceit is woven involving love lost, money and murder.

At first it seems clear, the reader is being told the true story via the novel, but several elements do not quite make sense and Clemence is not convinced things are as straightforward as the book suggests, and indeed they aren't, thus you are then taken on a blind excursion of discovery to find out just what piece of vital evidence has been taken away and why and by whom...

The use of the environmental setting, dark and brooding Scotland in winter, seems to be the perfect backdrop for the tone of the novel, as in looks can be deceiving. The beauty of Scotland can draw you in but be lethal if not handled correctly. Well written and paced this novel is gripping and enticing.  I had my suspicions about half way through of what may happen at the end and although it did there was also so much I did not see coming!  I have to say, the final two pages of the novel were brilliant and I loved what the author has done - it certainly made me smile. 

I will most certainly be reading more from Michael Ridpath.

Amnesia receives a must read Very Pink Notebook Rating of :