Poisened At The Priory – The notorious death of Charles Bravo by Antony M Brown #TrueCrime #ColdCaseJury

Poisened at the Priory


1876. When the newlywed barrister Charles Bravo ingests a rare poison, all evidence suggests suicide.

But in one of the most infamous inquests of all time, a coroner finds it to be an unlawful murder. So, we must ask, what is the truth?

The fourth book in Antony M. Brown’s popular Cold Case Jury series picks apart this notorious case that gripped Victorian Britain – and continues to spark debate to this day. Why did Bravo refuse any help, even when going through agonising pain? Was his wife, with her scandalous past, to blame? Or perhaps it was her former lover, eager to remove his usurper for good… or another sinister hand, moving silently?

In Poisoned at the Priory, Brown compiles the evidence and creates dramatic reconstructions of four main theories of how Charles Bravo may have died – including Agatha Christie’s solution, in her own words, for the very first time.

But was Christie correct? What’s your verdict in this spellbinding case?

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If you love murder mysteries, especially if you’re a fan of Agatha Christie type of novels, then this is a must read. This is a true crime novel and not a fictional tale so not knowing what the truth is in the end is both a blessing and a curse because you’ll never know if you were right. But don’t let that stop you from enjoying this novel because I loved the role I was given as member of the Cold Case Jury, trying to make up my own mind about what happened to Charles Bravo. It might sound easy but it was anything but!

This novel is quite extensive, it first took me back in time to the events leading up to the fatal events and then plays out in great detail a few possible scenarios as to what might have happened. Bravo was married to Florence Ricardo née Campbell and only four months after their marriage he became ill and died a few days later of poisoning. Five doctors stood at his deathbed, called upon by his wife Florence, but he couldn’t be saved.

There are a lot of questions surrounding his death that kept my grey cells working overtime. The first question up for debate was how the poison was administered. Was it in the red wine at dinner, or in the water in his room? You would think that this would be easily determined but those were other times and it’s clear that they gave the patient all of their attention at the time but nobody was thinking of looking for evidence or getting to the bottom of it at the most crucial time so we’re looking at opportunity here most of all.

Even though you can’t even even be absolutely sure about this truth, I found this at least the easiest one to come to a conclusion. The hard work was yet to begin: did Bravo poison himself intentionally, or perhaps accidentally? There were statements made that support this if you believe the source. But there are also a number of murder theories to excite the reader involving Florence’s housemaid Jane Cox, Florence’s ex-lover Doctor Gully and Bravo’s wife Florence herself. Whose word to believe and who lied? I couldn’t make up my mind and needed someone else’s opinion.

And opinions I certainly received, none other than Agatha Christie herself offered her opinion on this mystery. Other doctors of that time expressed their opinions as well, and other authors who wrote about this case in the following years, as well as the author of the novel himself of course. There seem to be as many different opinions as people were asked. I loved reading what everyone’s thoughts were!

I know you want to ask me what I think and I’m actually torn between two very different scenarios.  Bravo’s behaviour was not entirely consistent, so I’m keeping Julian Fellow’s opinion also in mind. He actually turned this historical unsolved case into one of five episodes of a televised crime docudrama series in 2004. My main concern about my initial thought is that it was established he was poisened when he was still alive. If you don’t know who poisened you, wouldn’t you want to know who did it and point fingers at someone? He actually never did that, the five doctors would certainly have mentioned it when questioned, so that is weird. The only trouble is that I don’t see why he would take his own life, get rid of any evidence or not admit what he did while he was suffering so much, so I’m hesitantly inclined to consider a murder scenario as well.

Poisoned at the Priory is so perfect for a book club discussion. This novel has such food for thought and I think you could talk hours about it. After finishing the novel readers can cast their own verdict on a special site mentioned on the first page of the novel and see what other readers thought. I entered my own verdict and the rest of the jury is with me: 59% had the same thought and my runner-up scenario was good for the second largest percentage.

Poisened at the Priory is the fourth crime for the Cold Case Jury. The author has researched and substantiated this case thoroughly with witness statements, photos, expert opinions on the poison… and presented it in a very pleasant way to get through these facts (I thought it a great idea to start with the different scenarios and then follow up with evidence). This was an unexpected treat to read and I can’t wait to read the other books in this series!

I received a free paperback copy of this novel from the publisher Mirror Books. This is my honest opinion.


The Key To My Heart by Lia Louis #BookReview

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Can you ever really find the one after ‘the one’?

Some people spend their whole lives trying to find the one. But Natalie had found him – and married him. And then Russ died.

Two years ago, her whole world was shattered. Still now, she feels like she’s trying to piece her broken heart back together, one day at a time.

But then she finds a sheet of music – one that only Russ would know – in the piano stool in St. Pancras station where she’s secretly been playing for the last few months.

For the first time, Natalie realizes that maybe life does still hold a little magic. And with every note she plays, she feels as if she’s unlocking another fragment of her heart…

But will she ever truly find love again after she’d already found forever?

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When you ask me to list a few romance authors I love reading, Lia Louis is definitely on that list. There are not many authors who can give me a book high but that’s how I feel right now. I absolutely fell for Dear Emmie Blue and The Key to my Heart is a very close second. This novel gave me a bad case of emophilia (it’s a real condition!) but it only concerns fictional characters so far.

The Key To My Heart is about Natalie’s life after having lost her husband two years earlier. People feel she should have moved on by now but Natalie is stuck in a space in her head between the past and the future, she’s struggling to cope alone with some things, some of a practical nature and some more emotional. She doesn’t know for instance what to do with the cottage they bought together and were going to renovate, nor how to tell her friends she’s not ready to date anyone.

I loved the mysterious element in the novel of someone leaving sheet music in the piano seat at the train station. It was very clever how the author wrote this novel so it wasn’t obvious who it was, not even to me. I enjoyed how the music was a lifeline and made her open up. She’s on a quest to find out who left it and why (both were quite surprising!) and while she’s sharing her findings with her friend Shauna who works at the coffee shop Goode’s, Tom The Target and her girlfriends, she’s slowly healing as well and getting her appetite for life back. It was such an original approach and if I ever find a piano in a train station it’ll certainly make me smile from now on.

There’s lots of incredibly wonderful banter in this novel that starts almost as soon as I opened it, so the connection between Natalie and one of the male characters was immediate and the possibility where this could lead was already dreamed up in my head. But she’s not interested in a romance and he’s scared of love and crocodiles so instead they become great friends. His support was great and I saw how she begun to change. Of course there’s also another swoonworthy man that crosses Natalie’s path and he understands her grief better than anyone else, having lost a family member himself. Would he be the one who makes her heart full again? I actually had my heart set a little bit on the first guy but they were both adding to the story and supporting Natalie in a beautiful way.

Lia Louis knows how to struck a chord with her writing. A big part of the novel is about Natalie’s friendship with the people around her and her connection with Tom and Joe, and that alone gave me a warm and good feeling but in the end there’s a very touching and epic scene that totally got to me. She definitely found the key to MY heart.

I feel I can’t do this novel justice with my review so forget all I said and just remember I can’t recommend this novel enough!

I bought a paperback copy of this novel. This is my honest opinion.

The Trophy Child by Paula Daly #BookReview

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A doting mother or a pushy parent?

Karen Bloom expects perfection. Her son, Ewan, has been something of a disappointment and she won’t be making the same mistake again with her beloved, talented child, Bronte.

Bronte’s every waking hour will be spent at music lessons and dance classes, doing extra schoolwork and whatever it takes to excel.

But as Karen pushes Bronte to the brink, the rest of the family crumbles. Karen’s husband, Noel, is losing himself in work, and his teenage daughter from his first marriage, Verity, is becoming ever more volatile. The family is dangerously near breaking point.

Karen would know when to stop . . . wouldn’t she?

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This was my first Paula Daly novel and it won’t be my last. The Trophy Child is a domestic mystery novel about the blended family of Karen Bloom, her husband Noel and their three children. I was surprised when the first chapter of the novel introduced Verity – Noel’s daughter – as the first of the family, taking a drug test at school. She was a model student and daughter but then they found drugs on her and she attacked Karen! I wanted to know all there was to know about the how and why of it all but the author had a few other puzzling events in store first.

Anyway since the attack ‘poor’ Karen put her focus solely on her youngest, her daughter Bronte. The girl has a million and one after school activities and she has to be the best at all of them. Then one day the family’s perfectly organized world shatters and there’s a detective knocking at their door investigating a missing child and an unrelated crime that also involved the family soon after. At first I was expecting only family drama but this was way better than I hoped for!

Karen was also SUCH a character, I loooved to hate her and she was the perfect villain of the novel. I didn’t feel sorry for her one bit. There were other characters who didn’t really like her either but maybe they kept it better hidden than me, well at least one of them did and I wanted to know who. There are a few suspects but I was completely dumbfounded at the end when the different puzzle pieces came together. Not as fast-paced in the beginning as I’m used to perhaps but if you want unpredictable you have it here in spades.

The Trophy Child is a cleverly written novel with fabulous twists and turns. For the life of me I couldn’t figure this one out so for that alone it deserves to be recommended highly.

I bought a second hand copy of this novel. This review is my honest opinion.

The Devil’s Advocate by Steve Cavanagh #BookReview

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Ambitious District Attorney Randal Korn lives to watch prisoners executed.
Even if they are not guilty.

An innocent man, Andy Dubois, faces the death penalty for the murder of young girl. Korn has already fixed things to make sure he wins a fast conviction.

The one thing Korn didn’t count on was Eddie Flynn.

Slick, street smart and cunning, the former con artist turned New York lawyer has only seven days to save an innocent man against a corrupt system and find the real killer.

In a week the Judge will read the verdict, but will Eddie be alive to hear it?

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There’s not a doubt in my mind The Devil’s Advocate deserves five stars. It’s brilliant, bloody brilliant. I loved every second of reading this. Don’t let anyone ever tell you that courtroom procedurals are boring because they clearly haven’t read this one yet!

Eddie Flynn is a good lawyer – the very best if you ask me (I work at a law firm so it might be in my best interest to watch what I’m saying but I’m saying it anyway) but he’s looking at a hopeless case and even he’s not sure he and his team (Kate, Bloch and Harry) will be able to win the case he’s taken on because he believes in defending the innocent and battling evil. The evil in this case is Randal Korn, working as district attorney in a small rural town called Buckhead. There’s not a millisecond of doubt that he’s evil reincarnated as he gets his kicks from sending people to the electric chair, it doesn’t even matter if they’re guilty, he just wants to win and feel the power he has.

The evidence against the young man is massive, he was seen arguing with the victim, his dna was found under her fingernails and she scratched him, and he confessed twice to the murder. Still Eddie Flynn believes he’s innocent. I thought this was a mission impossible but Flynn is the Tom Cruise to save the day. Korn plays it unbelievably dirty but I loved how Flynn and his team parried every move. This game they play was incredibly compelling. This novel only consists of twists and turns and I loved how inventive Flynn was (his first mission is of course talking to his client and that alone requires some ingenuity). The author also had a few cleverly placed red herrings in store, one of them even a heartstopping moment that I could hardly even handle.

The case is airtight, the evidence speaks for itself and the testimonies are either against Andy Dubois or people don’t want to talk, but Flynn wouldn’t be the best if he didn’t find something to use in his favour. Is it enough to save Andy though, and who is the real killer of Skylar then and why would this popular girl be killed? There are a lot of questions to be answered in this novel and the answers were so surprising, it was a delight.

The Devil’s Advocate is a riveting novel and so cleverly written. I can’t recommend this one enough!

I bought a paperback copy of this novel. This is my honest opinion.

Swear on This Life by Renée Carlino #BookReview

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When a bestselling debut novel from mysterious author J. Colby becomes the literary event of the year, Emiline reads it reluctantly. As an adjunct writing instructor at UC San Diego with her own stalled literary career and a bumpy long-term relationship, Emiline isn’t thrilled to celebrate the accomplishments of a young and gifted writer.

Yet from the very first page, Emiline is entranced by the story of Emerson and Jackson, two childhood best friends who fall in love and dream of a better life beyond the long dirt road that winds through their impoverished town in rural Ohio.

That’s because the novel is patterned on Emiline’s own dark and desperate childhood, which means that “J. Colby” must be Jase: the best friend and first love she hasn’t seen in over a decade. Far from being flattered that he wrote the novel from her perspective, Emiline is furious that he co-opted her painful past and took some dramatic creative liberties with the ending.

The only way she can put her mind at ease is to find and confront “J. Colby,” but is she prepared to learn the truth behind the fiction?

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Another one from the backlist. Swear on This Life was published in 2016 and the number of raving reviews brought it to my attention at the time so it’s been on my ereader for quite a while. I’m kind of sad that I don’t get any more paperbacks from publishers since Brexit but finding a gem like this in my library does make me feel very happy on the other hand. I suddenly found myself a new favourite author!

Swear on This Life is the first novel I read by Renée Carlino and it’s an amazingly heartfelt story. Emeline reads about her own childhood in a novel called All The Roads Between and every time the timeline changed to the past I prepared myself for the emotional impact. Her childhood was a story of neglect and abuse but also of great friendship, even the first signs of love.

Jase (Jason) lived next door and was in a similar situation yet he was always positive and together they got through everything, her father’s drinking problem, his mother’s drug addiction. They had such wonderful moments together and seemed to be joined at the hip, yet in the present day there is no sign of Jase in Emeline’s life, they are not together and I couldn’t flip these pages fast enough to find out how they became separated and if they would find their way to each other again.

Emeline does take a looong time to end the novel within the novel but when she finally did I felt my heart leap. Even though I couldn’t understand it at first, I absolutely loved why Jase changed parts of the real story (and I’m not talking about him giving himself abs in his fictionalised story), it was just such perfect thinking.

When you wish you had the paperback of a novel in your library instead of an ecopy and you want to reread a novel immediately after you finished it, you know it’s worth five stars or more. I found such a wonderful bittersweet story between these pages and Jase is the real star of this duo in my eyes, he’s definitely book boyfriend material and it’s all due to his character. For fans of Colleen Hoover and Dani Atkins, I highly recommend!

I bought an ecopy of this novel. This is my honest opinion. 

Puzzle Girl by Rachael Featherstone #BookReview @WRITERachael @AccentPress

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Love is a riddle waiting to be solved…

Clued-up career girl Cassy Brookes has life under control until one disastrous morning changes everything. When she finds herself stuck in a doctor’s surgery, a cryptic message left in a crossword magazine sends her on a search to find the mysterious puzzle-man behind it. Cassy is soon torn between tracking down her elusive dream guy, and outwitting her nightmare workmate, the devious Martin. Facing a puzzling love-life, will she ever be able to fit the pieces together and discover the truth behind this enigmatic man?

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Puzzle Girl was a pleasant surprise, in the best way possible. I don’t know why I was hesitant to pick this one up but I think the lovely cover made me think it would be too light of a read for me (sorry cover designer) but I was so wrong, I had a really good time in Cassy’s presence.

I love novels where there’s written interaction between characters and they often score high for me (think The Flatshare or Dear Emmie Blue) but this one had an additional bonus of the ‘mystery man’ with whom Cassy makes these written exchanges, and I quite possibly liked this even more.

It was so much fun to see all of the excuses she had to come up with to gain access again and again to the puzzle book at the Threadneedle Walk-in Centre. Just imagining seeing the reaction of Janet, the receptionist of the clinic every time Cassy showed up again made me chuckle every single time. There were a few stories in the sidelines too that were also quite entertaining which involved her bestie Dan (a blend between Joey and Chandler of Friends) who decides to move in with her, Cassy’s attempts to make a good impression with her boss and their potential new client MediaTech and her strife with work colleague Martin. I had to give it to her, whatever is thrown at Cassy she never gives up, it made me love her even a little bit more.

Cassy works as an Account Director at a digital marketing company named Holeywells and even though her job is one of the focal points of the novel where much goes wrong, and as interesting as it sounds being a marketing strategist I was happy that I was never bored by actually having to listen to an entire pitch. The competition between Cassy and Martin and her feelings of animosity whenever he does something that puts her into a bad light were a great part of the story. There were times it reminded me of another novel that I loved this year and I was happy to find some similarities.

Maybe the outcome didn’t surprise me much but it didn’t really bother me, the story had enough drive that I never felt there wasn’t something else to discover. Cassy certainly discovers a lot about herself by the end of the novel and I do love a character having some introspection. And in the end all I wanted was for puzzle-girl to finally meet her dream puzzle-man 🙂.

I underestimated how much I would enjoy Puzzle Girl when I started it. If you’re looking for a fun summer romance in an office setting this is the perfect novel to escape into.

I received a free paperback copy of this novel in a giveaway (I can’t remember who from but I received four paperbacks a few years ago). This is my honest opinion.

Rock Paper Scissors by Alice Feeney #BookReview

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Things have been wrong with Mr and Mrs Wright for a long time. When Adam and Amelia win a weekend away to Scotland, it might be just what their marriage needs. Self-confessed workaholic and screenwriter Adam Wright has lived with face blindness his whole life. He can’t recognize friends or family, or even his own wife.

Every anniversary the couple exchange traditional gifts – paper, cotton, pottery, tin – and each year Adam’s wife writes him a letter that she never lets him read. Until now. They both know this weekend will make or break their marriage, but they didn’t randomly win this trip. One of them is lying, and someone doesn’t want them to live happily ever after.

Ten years of marriage. Ten years of secrets. And an anniversary they will never forget.

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Alice Feeney outsmarted me once again. It’s clever, very clever indeed how the author twisted the story in Rock Paper Scissors.

Amelia and Adam are having some marriage problems and the weekend away at Blackwater Chapel – the most remote place you can imagine – is their last hope to salvage their marriage. From the beginning I was wondering if either of them really wanted to though if the thoughts they’re having about each other in the car ride to their destination were anything to go by. Even before they set foot at their retreat I learned that Amelia lied to her husband claiming he forgot to pack his phone so I wondered what else she would lie about with just as much ease?

While following the couple around in this strange, creepy place and witnessing how their marriage is barely holding up, it did make me wonder how they reached this lowpoint. Inspired by Adam’s manuscript Rock Paper Scissors where a man writes letters to his wife, even after her death, Adam’s wife decides to do the same for each year of their marriage. I think I enjoyed these letters most of all in this novel – they are titled with the traditional wedding gift for that year and a not so commonly known ‘Word of the Year’ so I took away quite a few things from this book – because the letters were a means to let me have a peek into their marriage and all the trials and tribulations that they faced. Adam’s focus on writing a screenplay for the famous author Henry Winter made him forget to spend time with his wife and she in return struggled with the fact that they didn’t have children yet… Even though I was suspicious of Amelia’s intentions towards her husband during their stay, the letters indicated she was sincere and someone to root for.

But then another voice enters into the story, someone who’s watching that couple and I had no idea who it was or if this person meant to do them harm (before they harmed each other really). The author gives the story a big spin from there and this mysterious person was tied into the story in unexpected ways. Henry Winter, the author Adam had put on a pedestal plays a bigger part in all of this too but I’ll let you discover the rest of his personal story.

I have enjoyed all of Feeney’s novel and she has written another winner for me with a great twist that even I didn’t see coming. Clever, very clever indeed.

I bought a paperback copy of this novel. This is my honest opinion.

The Lost Apothecary by Sarah Penner #BookReview

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Hidden in the depths of eighteenth-century London, a secret apothecary shop caters to an unusual kind of clientele. Women across the city whisper of a mysterious figure named Nella who sells well-disguised poisons to use against the oppressive men in their lives. But the apothecary’s fate is jeopardized when her newest patron, a precocious twelve-year-old, makes a fatal mistake, sparking a string of consequences that echo through the centuries.

Meanwhile in present-day London, aspiring historian Caroline Parcewell spends her tenth wedding anniversary alone, running from her own demons. When she stumbles upon a clue to the unsolved apothecary murders that haunted London two hundred years ago, her life collides with the apothecary’s in a stunning twist of fate―and not everyone will survive.

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It’s been a while since I gave a novel five stars but how can I not give five stars to this stunning debut? I’m so happy this novel crossed my path!

I can’t think of anything that I didn’t like about this novel, I loved the writing and the switches between present and past were perfectly aligned. I was one hundred percent invested in Nella en Eliza’s unfurling story but it was also great to take a step back from those scenes and have Caroline in the present day try to locate this apothecary and its intriguing history. It was exciting to see her stepping into the footsteps of Nella. I’ve read a few books about the Victorian era but this was a new subject to read about for me and it was a fascinating topic with a very likeable apothecary. There is a sideplot about Caroline’s marriage troubles and while I thought James was portrayed a little too much as a villain who should never receive forgiveness for his infidelity and who’s solely to blame for all of their decisions (it’s a good thing he cheated on her then or she wouldn’t have had this eye-opener, take a look at it that way Caroline), I liked Caroline’s personal development throughout the story and how she found her true self again, all because she went ‘mudlarking’ (person who scavenges in river mud for objects of value) on a whim.

The story had a good dose of mystery about the fate of the characters. Nella and young Eliza – wise beyond her 12 years – who came to see her in her shop for a poison, Caroline and her library friend Gaynor, there were definitely similarities in the plotlines, especially towards the end where their loyalties to each other are put in the spotlight, and I grew fond of all of them. It was hard to say goodbye, especially to Nella and Eliza who are now long gone but certainly not forgotten.

I didn’t expect The Lost Apothecary to be such a captivating novel, but it really was a great historical read and I can’t wait to read more by this author!

I bought an ecopy of this novel. This is my honest opinion.

Six Days by Dani Atkins #BookReview

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Gemma knows that she and Finn are destined to be together. They are soulmates. But then, on their wedding day, he never arrives at the church.

Gemma is convinced Finn wouldn’t abandon her like this, even though he has disappeared once before. But back then he had a reason. She feels sure something terrible has happened, but no one else is convinced. Even the police aren’t concerned, telling Gemma most people who disappear usually turn up in a week… assuming they want to be found, that is.

For the next six days Gemma frantically searches for Finn, even though every shocking revelation is telling her to give up on him. Before long, even she begins to doubt her own memories of their love.

How long can she hold on to her faith in Finn if everyone is telling her to let him go?

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The novel opens on Finn and Gemma’s wedding day with Gemma getting ready and her feeling so happy to be marrying the love of her life. But when she arrives at the wedding venue Finn’s nowhere to be seen. Gemma can’t believe he just stood her up and dashes to his apartment where she comes to the devastating conclusion that his apartment is completely empty! Still she doesn’t want to believe he simply left her without a word, there must be an explanation.

Gemma turns to the police but he wouldn’t be the first groom to get cold feet. They tell her most of the missing persons return of their own volition in 6 days, hence the title of the novel but will Finn return in 6 days or not? Gemma isn’t the type to sit there waiting until the police really spring into action and consider it a disturbing disappearance so she does everything in her power to find him even if this means it’s almost a single woman’s search as the people around her want her to accept the situation and go forward.

I admired Gemma for believing so hard in them and not giving up even though I had moments too that I wasn’t sure about Finn. Through flashbacks I learned how they met, I witnessed the progression of their relationship and I felt Finn’s love for Gemma and yet I had a few moments of doubt too. One of Finn’s flaws in the past didn’t speak in his favour and there were hints here and there that they’d had an argument of sorts, something they’d disagreed on, so maybe that was enough for Finn to change his mind?

I’m not going to say how this will end but day 5 and 6 had my heart pounding! By then I knew where Finn was – even if Gemma still didn’t – but it didn’t take away any of the suspense. Even so, there were still loose ends and I still couldn’t see how exactly it all fit together and how it could all be explained but the author made a very plausible story out of it.

Six Days is a beautifully told emotive novel that you’ll not get through untouched. This novel has mystery, love and anguish and if you’re ready for it, I recommend you let her pull at your heart strings too!

I received a free ecopy of this novel from the publisher via Netgalley. This is my honest opinion.

The Night Shift by Alex Finlay #BookReview #BlogTour @HoZ_Books

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Welcome to my stop on the blog tour for The Night Shift by Alex Finlay. A sincere big thank you to the publisher Head of Zeus for the invitation to read and review this novel that I enjoyed very much!  


What connects a massacre at a Blockbuster video store in 1999 with the murder of four teenagers fifteen years later?

It’s New Year’s Eve of 1999 when four teenagers working late are attacked at a Blockbuster video store in New Jersey. Only one survives. Police quickly identify a suspect, the boyfriend of one of the victims, who flees and is never seen again.

Fifteen years later, four more teenagers are attacked at an ice cream store in the same town, and again only one makes it out alive.

In the aftermath of the latest crime, three lives intersect: the lone survivor of the Blockbuster massacre, who is forced to relive the horrors of her tragedy; the brother of the fugitive accused, who is convinced the police have the wrong suspect; and FBI agent Sarah Keller, who must delve into the secrets of both nights to uncover the truth about the Night Shift Murders…

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I really enjoyed Every Last Fear so I was thrilled with the chance to read Alex Finlay’s second novel The Night Shift. An added bonus for me was the setting of part of the story in the late 90’s, an era I love reading about. I confess I’m nostalgic like that. It’s been a long time but I vaguely remember that I visited the local video store quite a lot back then. I can still see the rows and rows of grey video cassettes behind the counter. I don’t quite remember the person manning the station but it could very well have been someone like Steve, the first person who was introduced in the novel. Following his interactions with his employees I was already going through a lot of emotions before the story had well and truly started.

If you enjoyed Finlay’s first novel you’ll certainly going to enjoy this one too. Just like in his first novel The Night Shift dives into the action right away. The term slowly easing in definitely isn’t in this author’s dictionary :-). I love this style of writing and I simply couldn’t protect myself from reeling! Right when you think you’ll get to know a character better and you start to feel an affinity he’ll kill them off! The lead up to murder was short and the shock value was high. I was dying to know WHY and WHO asap

The investigation was really compelling with the past history linked to the present with another serial killing 15 years later. I don’t know what the secret ingredient exactly was, whether it was the pace, the plot or something else but it had me hooked! I also loved there were so many different characters to intrigue me as a reader. There are two final girls, a suspect on the run for 15 years, the brother of the suspect who still believes he’s innocent and of course FBI agent and 8-month pregnant Sarah Keller assigned to work the case with Union County detective Atticus Singh. They are a wonderful duo even if it felt a bit of a strange combination at first, they really were great together. Several of these characters are looking for answers though, not only the FBI so with the race for solving these mysteries on, it made for very animated reading.   

With the different POV’s switching at high speed I didn’t have much time to think things through but I didn’t want to take a break from reading to start analysing everything that I read so it’s not so surprising that I missed the who and why entirely. Maybe the why could have been expanded a little more but the story had deaths, danger, secrets, lies… everything you need for a great book. All of this combined with a very skilled writer who loves to do things just a little differently, someone who doesn’t always take the beaten path in writing (he isn’t even on Twitter btw), makes this one well worth reading. 

I find Alex Finlay a bit of an understated author and I’m happy I was introduced to his work. I already can’t wait to read his next book!

I received a free copy of this novel from the publisher Head of Zeus via Netgalley. This is as always my honest opinion.   


               NightShift_13 March 2022  NightShift_blogtour