📚’This series just keeps on getting better.’ Sandra reviews Scottish #crimefiction Dead Man’s Stone by @tgreidbooks, for Rosie’s #Bookreview Team #RBRT📚

Today’s team review is from Sandra. She blogs here https://www.firthproof.co.uk/index.php/book-reviews

Rosie's #Bookreview Team #RBRT

Sandra has been reading Dead Man’s Stone by T.G. Reid.

DCI Duncan Bone is still on sick leave recovering from injuries sustained in the previous book, and finally getting treatment for his longstanding PTSD, when a sadistic killer who is dying in prison insists on speaking to him about a forty-year-old cold case. Once again, not sure that he is quite ready, he is drawn back into the heart of an investigation linked to high-ranking and well-respected individuals who are prepared to kill to stop the truth from coming out.

The book opens with a horrific prologue that has the reader hooked right away. The deeper the detectives dig, more secrets are uncovered, and witnesses start dying in suspicious circumstances before they can shed any light on what happened. Can DCI Bone and his team find the killer before anyone else has to die?

The characters are well drawn and easy to distinguish; they all bring different skills to the team. The humorous dialogue, which can occasionally be a bit clunky, offsets the grim nature of the crimes they encounter on a daily basis. There is just enough background about their home life to make them well rounded and believable. It’s good that Bone is getting help, as he is much calmer and easier to work with this time round.    The setting in the striking scenery of the Campsie Fells is unusual, and makes a change from the big towns and cities in other detective novels. When I was a child, in the 1960s, it was a favourite place for my family to go for a picnic in the summer. I thoroughly enjoyed reading Dead Man’s Stone, the third book in the series, and am looking forward to book four, The Killing Parade,  when it comes out later this year. This series just keeps on getting better.

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Some secrets are worth killling for…

When DCI Duncan Bone is contacted by a terminally-ill psychiatric patient and given clues linking a thirty-year-old unsolved murder to high-profile public figures, he finds himself locked into a conspiracy at the very heart of the Scottish criminal and political establishment.

With his bosses stonewalling the investigation, lives under threat, and his career on the line, Bone faces a race against time to hunt down a group of men who will stop at nothing to cover their murderous crime.

Can DCI Bone catch the killer before the killing starts again?

Set among the dramatic hills and glens of Scotland’s Campsie Fells, Dead Man’s Stone is the third in a series of edge-of-your-seat crime thrillers that will keep you guessing right up to the nail-biting, heart-stopping climax.

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‘A tense and gripping thriller’ @SandraFirth3 reviews Terms Of Restitution by Denzil Meyrick @Lochlomonden #TuesdayBookBlog

Today’s team review is from Sandra. She blogs here https://www.firthproof.co.uk/index.php/book-reviews

Rosie's #Bookreview Team #RBRT

Sandra has been reading Terms Of Restitution by Denzil Meyrick

Gangland thrillers are not my favourite genre, but as this was written by Denzil Meyrick, better known for the DCI Daley series, I was keen to give it a go. The action mostly takes place in Glasgow and Paisley where the Finn and Mannion families are engaged in a vicious turf war. Add in some ruthless Albanians and no one is safe. Two years previously, after the brutal murder of his son Danny, Zander Finn had disappeared and no one knew where he was, or so he thought. Now his old friend, Malky Maloney, has turned up to convince him to return home as his family is in danger.    

One of the strengths of this book is the cast of strong, well-developed characters, including several impressive females. Zander’s mother, Maggie, just jumps off the page and her obsession with cooking eggs, chips and beans provides a bit of light relief in the midst of all the violence. Zander Finn is a complex character, ruthless when he needs to be, but he is not all bad and will do anything to protect the people he loves. He is so well written that I found myself on his side, hoping that he would emerge victorious despite the things he had done.

Terms of Restitution has a strong sense of place with Paisley and Glasgow almost characters in their own right. The level of violence is what you would expect in a novel depicting the criminal underworld of a city. Everyone is double-crossing each other, no one can be trusted and the reader is kept guessing right to the end about what is really going on, or at least I was. Terms of Restitution is a tense and gripping thriller featuring convincing characters, believable dialogue, just enough humour to offset the violence, and a striking cover. I thoroughly enjoyed it and, despite being described as a standalone, I feel there is the possibility of more to come.

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Gangland boss Zander Finn is so sickened by the brutal murder of his son in a Paisley pub, he decides to change his life. Following the advice of his priest and mentor, he moves clandestinely to London and becomes an ambulance driver. But when his old second-in-command Malky Maloney tracks him down on a London street, Finn knows he must return. Both his real family and his crime family face an existential threat from Albanian mobsters determined to take control of the Scottish underworld.

Under the watchful eye of his charismatic mother, he must try to look after his lovelorn younger daughter and her older sister who is pregnant to his old enemy Joe Mannion’s son. His estranged wife, who has more than just a business relationship with Mannion, and his remaining son, crippled while serving in Afghanistan also require his attention. But most of all, he must take back what is his.

Facing the forces of law and order under Detective Chief Superintendent Amelia Langley, a ruthless gang of Albanians and a beautiful but deadly Italian woman, Zander Finn struggles for survival in a rollercoaster ride of brutality, tenderness, misplaced loyalties and the utterly unexpected. The path to redemption is a perilous one, and it begins to look like Finn should have stayed in London.

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‘I was hooked and read it in two sittings.’ Sandra reviews #thriller If She Wakes by Erik Therme.

Today’s team review is from Sandra. She blogs here https://www.firthproof.co.uk/index.php/book-reviews

Rosie's #Bookreview Team #RBRT

Sandra has been reading If She Wakes by Erik Therme

If She Wakes is the second book in the Harlow series and sequel to If She Dies which I reviewed last year. At the end of the first book there were a lot of loose ends and a feeling it was not all over yet – I can now see why. It is now two years since Tess and Josh’s daughter died, and her grief is compounded by the recent death of her brother. After a car accident leaves Torrie in a coma, Tess and Josh are caring for their nephew, Levi. When Torrie’s sisters turn up, Tess is suspicious because Torrie had previously claimed she had no family. Their appearance just adds to Tess’s problems because none of them is being entirely truthful.

Once again the story is told entirely from Tess’s point of view, we are inside her head and privy to all her obsessive thoughts. Tess is a wonderfully drawn and fascinating character whose grief has pushed her very close to the edge; she is hanging on with her fingernails. She may be paranoid but maybe someone really is out to get her. Despite appearances, Tess has not really changed all that much. Her marriage is in a slightly better place now, but starts to show cracks again with the strain of all that is happening.  To me, Josh is still as unsupportive and irritating as he was before – no wonder Tess doesn’t tell him everything.

I’m not sure putting the backstory in the prologue works too well; perhaps not giving so much information all at once would be better, and might encourage readers to seek out If She Dies first. The pace is erratic at times, but the writing is gripping and the surprising twist near the end comes out of nowhere – I was hooked and read it in two sittings. The ending seems to suggest that there will be a third book to look forward to. Thanks to Erik Therme for a digital copy that I review as a member of Rosie’s Book Review Team #RBRT

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Who do you trust when everyone is lying?

My name is Tess Parker.

Two days ago, I was in a car accident with my sister-in-law, Torrie. Before she slipped into a coma, she asked my husband and me to care for her four-month-old son, Levi.

Yesterday, a woman claiming to be Torrie’s estranged sister knocked on our door. But Torrie has no siblings . . . or so she said. She and my brother were only together a short time before he left, and Torrie has clearly been keeping secrets.

Today, another of Torrie’s “sisters” has come to town. Both say the other is lying about who they are.

Neither of them is telling the truth.

Both of them want Levi.

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There’s a ‘Europe-wide reach of the investigative team.’ @SandraFirth3 reviews #thriller Double Identity by @alison_morton

Today’s team review is from Sandra. She blogs here https://www.firthproof.co.uk/index.php/book-reviews

Rosie's #Bookreview Team #RBRT

Sandra has been reading Double Identity by Alison Morton

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Double Identity is the first book in the Mélisende series featuring the highly skilled, special forces intelligence analyst, Mélisende des Pittones. Having recently resigned her commission to marry financial trader, Gérard, she wakes one morning to find her fiancé dead in the bed beside her and no memory of what happened. She immediately becomes the prime suspect. On clearing her name, she is seconded to a special unit, along with DI Jeff McCracken from the Met, to investigate the corruption her fiancé was involved in. She discovers he was not what he seemed, and that she did not really know him at all.

What makes Double Identity stand out from the crowd is the Europe-wide reach of the investigative team. Mélisende is uniquely placed to blend in as she can function effectively in both countries – she is fluent in both languages and familiar with their cultures. She is a strong and capable female lead, who is more than a match for any of her male colleagues, as one or two find out to their cost.

The initial animosity between her and Jeff gives the narrative an edge. They are chalk and cheese; Mélisende is wealthy and from an aristocratic French background, while McCracken is a native Londoner and officer in the Met. They work well together once they get over their prejudices, and I look forward to reading how their relationship develops over the course of the series. Double Identity has obviously been thoroughly researched as the author is very knowledgeable about financial matters, and her experience in the military shines through.

We get the story from multiple viewpoints so get a rounded picture of what is going on. This is a fast-paced thriller, with a feisty lead character, interesting European settings and the promise of  more adventures to come. I have not read any thing by this author before, but have already got the next book in the series, Double Pursuit, lined up on my kindle. Thanks to Alison Morton for a digital copy that I review as a member of Rosie’s Book Review Team #RBRT

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Deeply in love, a chic Parisian lifestyle before her. Now she’s facing prison for murder.

It’s three days since Mel des Pittones threw in her job as an intelligence analyst with the French special forces to marry financial trader Gérard Rohlbert. But her dream turns to nightmare when she wakes to find him dead in bed beside her.

Her horror deepens when she’s accused of his murder. Met Police detective Jeff McCracken wants to pin Gérard’s death on her. Mel must track down the real killer, even if that means being forced to work with the obnoxious McCracken.

But as she unpicks her fiancé’s past, she discovers his shocking secret life. To get to the truth, she has to go undercover and finds almost everybody around her is hiding a second self.

Mel can trust nobody. Can she uncover the real killer before they stop her?

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‘I really enjoyed escaping to the Greek island of Kyros’. @SandraFirth3 reviews #romcom Love on Location by @LynneB1

Today’s team review is from Sandra. She blogs here https://www.firthproof.co.uk/index.php/book-reviews

Rosie's #Bookreview Team #RBRT

Sandra has been reading Love On Location by Lynne Shelby

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In Love on Location, Laurel is tasked with rewriting the script of the time-slip movie Swords and Sandals, only to find she has been paired up with an archaeology professor to ensure historical accuracy. As Laurel is used to working alone, there is a bit of friction between them to start with but, knowing they have no choice but to make the best of it, they slowly come to appreciate each other’s expertise.

I have read and enjoyed Lynne Shelby’s previous books based in the world of film and theatre. She always shows both sides of working in the entertainment industry, and balances the glamour with a realistic portrayal of the hard slog and disappointments behind the scenes. Here we get fascinating glimpses behind the scenes on a film set, and find out just how temperamental a director can be.   

The large cast of characters are well written and believable, though there were one or two occasions when Laurel and Jason’s behaviour did not ring true.  The idyllic Greek locations are depicted in vivid detail – I particularly enjoyed the sojourn in Athens as Jason shows Laurel round the ancient sites and explains the history behind them. The only aspect I had a slight problem with was that someone who writes screenplays for a living would not read books. I really enjoyed escaping to the Greek island of Kyros, and look forward to Lynne Shelby’s next foray into life in the entertainment world.

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Can movie magic lead to a real-life romance?

‘A wonderful fresh new talent’ Katie Fforde

When Laurel Martin is hired to rewrite the script for a new timeslip blockbuster, she expects the historical advisor hired by the studio to be an elderly academic who won’t interfere too much with her writing. But when she meets Professor Jason Harding, a young and unexpectedly handsome archaeologist who has some ideas of his own about the script, she realises the job isn’t going to be as simple as she first thought.

As their work takes them from arguing over historical details in a cramped London office to discovering the hidden beauties of a Greek island, Laurel and Jason’s relationship starts to echo the romance of their script.

But with Laurel’s actor ex-boyfriend making trouble at home, and constant issues with the volatile director, will Laurel and Jason ever be able to write the happy ending for their own story?

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‘With an authentic period feel of London.’ @SandraFirth3 reviews #HistoricalRomance Miss Wetherham’s Wedding by Linore Rose Burkard

Today’s team review is from Sandra. She blogs here https://www.firthproof.co.uk/index.php/book-reviews

Rosie's #Bookreview Team #RBRT

Sandra has been reading Miss Wetherham’s Wedding by Linore Rose Burkard

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Miss Wetherham’s Wedding is the third book in the Brides of Mayfair series by Linore Rose Burkard set in London in the early nineteenth century. Having been left a widow at a fairly young age, Lettie Wetherham’s future is anything but secure, especially as she expresses no desire to marry again.

Nicholas Dellacort’s nose is out of joint because Sophia Alden’s father has accepted an offer for her hand from the much wealthier Lord Elston, Earl Brest instead of him. Learning of Lettie’s reputation as a matchmaker, he hires her to disrupt the engagement but things do not go according to plan. Lettie is well out of her comfort zone as Nick promises that each awkward encounter will be the last but, due to her dire financial situation, she really has no choice but to carry on.

The characters are well developed and the chemistry between them makes for some amusing conversations. The authentic period feel of London during the season is convincing, obviously the result of a lot of research, and the helpful glossary is useful for filling in any gaps in the reader’s knowledge. I have read a lot of Regency novels, but still learned some new expressions. I really enjoyed Miss Wetherham’s Wedding and now plan to go back and read the second one in the series.

4 stars

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Every step she takes to ensure his happiness is a nail in the coffin of her own.

Miss Wetherham, a matchmaker, must agree to the devious plan of a society rogue before she finds herself destitute. Helping him gain back his lost love will protect her independence and survival. But can any amount of money protect her guileless heart from falling for his charms?

Nick Dellacort is determined to restore his pride and gain back the bride he lost. Miss Wetherham is the woman able to help him do it and he’ll make it worth her while. But once he sets the devilish wheels in motion, can he persuade her to abandon the scheme and choose instead a scoundrel like him for a wedding of her own?

AmazonUK | AmazonUS

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Set In The Campsie Fells just north of Glasgow. @SandraFirth3 Reviews #Crimefiction Dark Is The Grave by TG Reid @tom_gillespie

Today’s team review is from Sandra. She blogs here https://www.firthproof.co.uk/index.php/book-reviews

Rosie's #Bookreview Team #RBRT

Sandra has been reading Dark Is The Grave by T.G. Reid

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Dark is the Grave is the first book in a gripping new Scottish crime series featuring DCI Duncan Bone. Still on sick leave after having been seriously injured in an explosion that killed the Peek-a-Boo killer, DCI Bone receives a gruesome film of another killing, and has no choice but to return to active duty, even though he may not be quite ready. This has to be the work of a copycat killer, but the clock is ticking and DCI Bone and his team must stop them before any more police officers die.

The action is set in the area around the Campsie Fells just north of Glasgow which makes an unusual and interesting setting for a crime novel; I grew up not too far away and really enjoyed revisiting the area. It made a pleasant change from big-city settings and reminded me of JD Kirk’s crime novels in this respect.    The characterisation is convincing with each member of the team quite clearly defined, and humorous dialogue often used to offset the grimly dark storyline. DCI Bone is a flawed and troubled character, but this does not stop him being an excellent detective. The pace is fairly relentless as the killer could strike again at any time. The author makes it difficult for us to determine who the killer is by introducing several red herrings, but this is only to be expected. As usual, I was almost at the end of the book before I worked it out. I read a lot of crime fiction and was very impressed with Dark is the Grave; I have already pre-ordered the next one in the series – Blood Water Falls – and look forward to reading it later in the year.

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A dead cop. A damaged detective. A copycat killer on the loose.

When the chief suspect in the notorious Peek-a-boo cop killer case blew himself up, almost taking lead investigator DCI Duncan Bone with him, the psychologically damaged detective thought his days on the force were over. But when another PC is abducted and murdered in the same deranged Peek-a-boo fashion, Bone is persuaded to return to lead the new investigation. But as Bone and his team hunt a copycat killer, and with time running out before yet another cop is slain, Bone’s terrifying past returns to tear open old wounds and push him to very edge of the abyss.

Can DCI Bone end the killing before the killing ends him?

Set among the dramatic hills and glens of Scotland’s Campsie Fells, Dark is the Grave is the first in a series of edge-of-your-seat crime thrillers that will keep you guessing right up to the nail-biting, heart-stopping climax.

AmazonUK | AmazonUS

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A Novel Set In Japan. @SandraFirth3 Reviews #Thriller Kimura: A Tale of a Japanese Murderess by R.G. Honda.

Today’s team review is from Sandra. She blogs here https://www.firthproof.co.uk/index.php/book-reviews

Rosie's #Bookreview Team #RBRT

Sandra has been reading Kimura: A Tale of a Japanese Murderess by R.G. Honda.

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I chose to read Kimura: A Tale of a Japanese Murderess because of the setting as I am fascinated by Japanese culture, and this did not disappoint.
The novel opens with Naoko realising that she has killed her husband; he is lying in a pool of blood at the bottom of the stairs, but was it an accident? She makes her escape and goes off to meet her friend Akari at a festival. There are hints that Naoko has a problem controlling her violent temper, both with her husband and with her sister, Yuki, who disappeared seven years previously. They now have a lead on her whereabouts and plan to rescue her. With the police chasing Naoko, they are forced to go on the run, but will they get to Yuki before it is too late?
This novel reads as though it was translated from the Japanese as some of the expressions are strangely stilted and awkward – I could find no information as to whether this was the case or not – but this did not hinder my understanding and perhaps added something to the narrative. There are graphic scenes of violence and torture, so bear that in mind before you begin reading as it is not for the faint-hearted.
The characters are well drawn and believable, except perhaps for Yuki who is almost a caricature, and I really liked Takamoto, the old man who lived on the boat. I loved the road trip section of the plot, and could imagine this book being made into a dark atmospheric film. The setting comes across as completely authentic, but the underlying theme of the human trafficking and slavery was deeply upsetting.
I was unable to find out anything about this author, so have no idea if they have written anything else, but would like to thank them for the digital copy that I chose to review as a member of Rosie’s Book Review Team #RBRT

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 A Japanese tale of murder, hold ups and car chases. Naoko Kimura, a woman with a history of spontaneous violence, unintentionally murders her husband on the same night she learns of the whereabouts of her long lost half-sister. Believing her sister to be the victim of a mass kidnap scheme, Naoko and her closest friend, Akari Sato, resolve to travel across the length of Japan with no transportation and a pittance to their name in order to find her. All the while, they are subjected to a manhunt by the national police force.

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Rosie’s #Bookreview Team #RBRT #Thriller If She Dies by @ErikTherme

Today’s team review is from Sandra. She blogs here https://www.firthproof.co.uk/index.php/book-reviews

Rosie's #Bookreview Team #RBRT

Sandra has been reading If She Dies by Erik Therme

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If She Dies is the harrowing tale of a mother’s grief, and shows how couples can be affected very differently by the loss of a child; in fact, a lot of relationships don’t survive this kind of stress. Nine months after losing their daughter, Lily, in a tragic accident, Tess and her husband, Josh, are on very different pages when it comes to dealing with their loss. Tess is slightly unhinged, behaving in an obsessive way and lying to her husband about what she does all day. Josh has a different way of coping and seems, unreasonably, to expect Tess to move on and return to how she was before.

Erik Therme has managed to get inside Tess’s head and give the reader a convincing portrayal of her grief. The story is told solely from Tess’s point of view, and this first person narrative really ramps up the atmosphere of paranoia, and emphasises that she is hanging on to her sanity by a thread. Despite her strange behaviour, I had great empathy for Tess and her situation. This story was not always easy to read, but perfectly captured the sense that she was on the edge and could go either way.  

The pace is uneven with a very long stretch at the beginning to set the scene, and then the story did not go in the direction that I expected it to, which was not necessarily a bad thing. If She Dies does not really fit into the psychological thriller mould and is, in fact, quite difficult to categorise. I had not read anything by this author before so did not know what to expect, but will definitely look out for some of his earlier books.

It is well written with believable characters, some likeable some not. I know Josh was hurting too, but I found it hard to feel much sympathy for him. There was such a gulf between him and Tess I’m not sure they would ever be reconciled. In this respect, the ending was unsatisfactory; I would have liked some kind of epilogue to find out if their relationship survived.

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Nine months ago, Tess’s five-year-old daughter was killed in a car accident. The driver, Brady Becker, was sentenced to two years in prison. It didn’t make Tess’s pain go away.

Brady also has a daughter: A twelve-year-old named Eve who walks to Chandler Middle School every day. Tess knows this because she’s been watching Eve for the last three weeks. It isn’t fair that Brady’s daughter gets to live, while Tess’s daughter does not.

When Eve goes missing, all eyes turn to Tess, who doesn’t have an alibi. But Tess isn’t guilty.

Or so she believes.

AmazonUK | AmazonUS

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Rosie’s #Bookreview Team #RBRT Art #Mystery LOST CHILDREN by Willa Bergman

Today’s team review is from Sandra. She blogs here https://www.firthproof.co.uk/index.php/book-reviews

#RBRT Review Team

Sandra has been reading Lost Children by Willa Bergman

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Lost Children is the story of the search for a historically important painting that disappeared from a French chateau many years before. The first section of the book is fairly slow as the author sets the scene and introduces us to the main character, Elle, who works for a well-known auction house in London. In her role as private buyer, she enjoys privileged access to works of art hidden away in private collections that she would never normally see.

The Private Sales department is restructured, to make it more profitable, and Elle is put in charge, much to her surprise and delight. A new client asks her to find Portrait of the Lost Child by Albert Polignac; she tries to put him off, but he is insistent. Judging by her extreme reaction, Elle obviously knows a lot more about this painting than she is letting on.

Lost Children is told entirely from Elle’s point of view, and we gradually learn the history of the painting, and why it went missing, as well as her own backstory. She is an obviously troubled character, ill at ease most of the time, and always seems to be looking over her shoulder. Elle travels to New York in pursuit of the painting, realises she is not the only one on its trail, and has to use her wits to get the better of her ruthless adversaries. The pace picks up as she rushes to meet the deadline she has been given before it is too late.

Many years ago I studied art history so Lost Children was of obvious interest to me. It is well written and thoroughly researched, and I enjoyed the insights into the world of art sales and auction houses, such as how you determine the monetary value of a piece of art. Split between London, New York and a chateau in the French countryside, this unusual thriller will keep you on the edge of your seat until you get to the very last page.

Book description

A celebrated painting, the Portrait of the Lost Child, has been missing for over a decade. Eloise Witcham is commissioned to find it, but if she does she will have to confront a past she thought long behind her and face up to the dark fears that still haunt her dreams.

A stylish, intelligent, contemporary thriller set in the secretive world of high end art.

AmazonUK | AmazonUS available from May 11th 2021

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