#blogtour #bookreview THE MISSING PIECES OF NANCY MOON by Sarah Steel

Delighted to be taking part in the blog tour today for The Missing Pieces Of Nancy Moon by Sarah Steele.  Thank you so much to Rosie Margesson at Headline for my invitation to be a part of the launch and release celebrations of this lovely book and for my gorgeous hardback copy.

Published by Headline Review | 6th August 2020 | Hardback |





To unravel the story of that long-lost summer, she had to follow the thread…
Florence Connelly is broken-hearted; her beloved grandmother has just died and her marriage has collapsed.
But things change when she opens a box of vintage 1960s dress patterns, discovered inside her grandmother’s wardrobe. Inside each pattern packet is a fabric swatch, a postcard from Europe and a faded photograph of a young woman wearing the hand-made dress. Why did Flo’s grandmother never speak of this mysterious woman – Nancy Moon?
Her life in tatters, Flo decides to remake Nancy’s dresses, and to head across to the Continent to recreate Nancy’s Grand Tour of 1962. As she follows the thread, Flo begins to unravel an untold story of love and loss in her family’s past. And perhaps to stitch the pieces of her own life back together…




A wonderful read to sooth the spirit and to escape to Europe in this time where its not so easy to do so.

A story rich in wonderful characters and a strong sense of time and place.

I enjoyed reading The Missing Pieces Of Nancy Moon, and hope you have been able to catch the posts I have been making over the last few days, in the run up to my review.  Thank you so much to Headline for sending me the stunning ‘postcards’ created by Ellie Morley. I loved them!

I was instantly engrossed in this story and quickly felt invested in the characters with their vivid presence, and wonderfully described personalities. A softly flowing story and one that was very easy to read, I found that I loved both the main characters, Nancy and Flo, and really liked the way the author mirrored their two lives.

Nancy’s tale was full of classic time pieces which only added to her story.  The wonderful clothes and her adventures really had a sense of time to them and I loved the way the author used them to connect her to the character of Flo.  Both characters had a passion for making clothes and they are brilliantly described throughout the book.  I also really liked the way the author compared and highlighted the differences time has made on the places each character visits.  I think I preferred the 1960’s version.

The story is an emotional tale but with a mystery running through it.  With each new chapter we learn more of Nancy which in turn allows the reader to follow Flo as she traces her Great Aunts footsteps, hoping to find out what happened to Nancy and why she had never heard of her before.




Sarah Steele (c) Eoin Schmidt-Martin

Sarah Steele trained as a classical pianist and violinist in London, before joining the
world of publishing as assistant at Hodder and Stoughton. She was then for many
years a freelance editor. She now lives in Stroud and in 2018 was the director of
Wordfest at Gloucester Cathedral, which culminated in a suffragette march led by
Helen Pankhurst. The Missing Pieces of Nancy Moon is her debut novel.


#blogtour #bookreview SET MY HEART TO FIVE by Simon Stephenson

Delighted to share with you all my review of this wonderfully funny, clever new book, from Simon Stephenson.  Thanks to Amber, at Midas Public Relations, for my digital copy and for my place on the blog tour.

Publisher: Fourth Estate

Available now in hardback and EBook.


Set My Heart To Five Blog Tour Banner



Set in 2054, when humans have locked themselves out of the internet by forgetting the names of their favourite teacher and first pet, Simon Stephenson’s dazzling debut, Set My Heart to Five, is a hilarious, touching, strikingly perceptive story of the emotional awakening of an android named Jared, and a profound exploration of what it truly means to be human.


Set My Heart to Five is set to become a major motion picture with Edgar Wright directing, and Working Title, Focus Features and Universal Pictures producing.




Set My Heart To Five is a wonderfully written, witty, clever, emotional and thought-provoking read.

Jared, our endearing narrator, is a human-looking, flesh and blood bot designed specifically to be a dentist in a slightly dystopian future. It’s clear he has some independent thought but his duties consume his day. Bots don’t have feelings, this lack of empathy makes them great dentists, but Jared wakes one day to find a number in his head, counting down to his retirement. Under the guidance of a friend he begins a journey of self-discovery.

The early part of the book sets up a recurring theme of the absurdity of human life and our (future) way of life as seen by the detached observer. This endears us to Jared as we join him on an odyssey of self-discovery.

As part of his therapy Jared falls in love with “classic” movies which as the reader you identify from his short descriptions, the titles are never revealed, each is cleverly used as a parable as Jared’s personality develops.

There’s plenty of fun and some jeopardy as first in paranoia and then in reality as Jared is chased to Hollywood, where he is, in turn, chasing his dream to make humans like bots, by an unlikely hunter. Full of cleverly written jokes, the story is a pacey mix of human behaviour, chasing a dream, love and loss, risk and reward. There are elements of a thriller, and the use of the future to look back on the absurdity of today is consistently used throughout.

Not wanting to give too much away the book is a classic underdog-with-special-powers story, which becomes a little ironic as Jared’s mission proceeds. It also has a serious message on the struggle of the outsider to be accepted and the desire, even for those without feelings, for a release from loneliness.





set my heart to 5 author


Simon Stephenson is a Scottish writer based in Los Angeles.  He previously worked as an NHS doctor, most recently in paediatrics in London.


His first book, LET NOT THE WAVES OF THE SEA (John Murrays, 2011), was a memoir about the loss of his brother in the Indian ocean tsunami. It was serialised as ‘Book of the Week’ on BBC Radio 4 and won ‘Best First Book’ at the Scottish Book Awards.


Simon moved to the US followed the success of his spec screenplay, FRISCO, a semi-autobiographical story about a depressed doctor who desperately needed a change.  The script was at the top of the Blacklist – an industry-voted list of Hollywood’s favourite unproduced scripts – and opened the door to a screenwriting career in the US.  In 2015, Simon was photographed alongside Phoebe Waller-Bridge as one of Screen International’s ‘Stars of Tomorrow’.  His friends never tire of telling him that Screen International were at least half right.


As a screenwriter, Simon nonetheless continues to be much in demand on both sides of the Atlantic.  He spent two years writing at Pixar in San Francisco, and originated and wrote Amazon’s forthcoming feature film LOUIS WAIN (starring Benedict Cumberbatch and Claire Foy). Julia Roberts attached to his screenplay TRAIN MAN, and the film rights to SET MY HEART TO FIVE were pre-emptively acquired by Working Title Films, Focus Features, and Nira Park’s Complete Fiction Pictures. Edgar Wright is set to direct the film from Simon’s screenplay.


One of Simon’s most memorable moments from his time in Hollywood was taking a meeting with an actor he admired most, and then having said actor kindly insist on driving Simon home in his distinctive vintage Porsche while telling him about his mind-blowing stories about his canonical body of work.  As a token of thanks, Simon then gave that car to the villain in Set My Heart To Five!





#bookreview #blogtour THE UNCOMMON LIFE OF ALFRED WARNER IN SIX DAYS by Juliet Conlin



Delighted to kick off the blog tour today, along with some other great book reviewers, for The Uncommon Life Of Alfred Warner In Six Days by Juliet Conlin.



Approaching 80, frail and alone, a remarkable man makes the journey from his sheltered home in England to Berlin to meet his granddaughter. He has six days left to live and must relate his life story before he dies…

His life has been rich and full. He has witnessed firsthand the rise of the Nazis, experienced heartrending family tragedy, fought in the German army, been interred in a POW camp in Scotland and faced violent persecution in peacetime Britain. But he has also touched many lives, fallen deeply in love, raised a family and survived triumphantly at the limits of human endurance. He carries within him an astonishing family secret that he must share before he dies… a story that will mean someone else’s salvation.

Welcome to the moving, heart-warming and uncommon life of Alfred Warner.



This a wonderfully written end-of-life memoir a little in the style of “A Man Called Ove” and “The Secret Pilgrimage of Harold Fry”, with interesting and unusual twists.

Alfred Warner hears voices and at the end of his life he becomes desperate to meet his grand-daughter, Brinja, so she can understand the joyful side of the curse that also afflicts her. He is rescued by a young woman, Julia, who meets and befriends him when Brinja fails to meet him at Berlin main train station. It’s not clear why Julia takes this lonely, old man in for his last few days, but you get the impression she has her own troubles and Alfred’s curious story is a distraction during his pilgrimage around Christmas. Their short story is tenderly told.

Juliet Colin effortlessly uses multiple narrators to move between Alfred and his remarkable story of growing up in a rural farm community in 1930’s Germany, orphaned and rescued by Jews in Berlin, his subsequent life in a changing post-war Britain and the modern-day anguish of Brinja. Julia’s character carries the practicalities and she becomes increasingly involved, as we do, in Alfred’s story and why it so important to him and his grand daughter. In many ways this telling has much of the suspense of a thriller.

The poverty and growing threat to those around him as a child are brought to life in the early chapters. Alfred begins to hear voices when young, he finds it’s something he shares with his mother and previous generations of her Icelandic family. Through his life these voices are guardian angels, friends and bullies, the author guides us through the stages of denial, then caution on to acceptance and embrace as Alfred accepts these interlopers into his life, allowing him to live a largely normal and content life and apparently protecting him from the psychological impact of his early years. This normalisation of his mental health is in contrast to the impact of the same phenomenon on the more troubled, modern-day Brinja.

The story is well paced, as Alfred escapes from the things that oppress him externally and emerges into a comfortable life in post-war Scotland and England, we move with him through the trials of his life, including the early death of his first child and the later estrangement of his son, Brinja’s father, who is also visited by the voices. With the younger generations suffering with more malign voices, Alfred is compelled to tell his story to Julia in a hope to show his granddaughter the more helpful ways to interpret them.

A beautifully written, heartbreaking yet heartwarming tale that I would highly recommend.





Juliet Conlin

Juliet Conlin was born in London and grew up in England and Germany. She has an MA in Creative Writing from Lancaster University and a PhD in Psychology from the University of Durham. She works as a writer and translator and lives with her family in Berlin. Her novels include The Fractured Man (Cargo, 2013), The Uncommon Life of Alfred Warner in Six Days (Black & White, 2017), The Lives Before Us (Black & White, 2019).


The blog tour runs through to July 26th so please to check out the other reviews.

Thank you to the publishers for my digital copy of the book and to Kelly of Love Books Tours for my invite and place on the tour.

Alfred Warner Twitter tour poster







Twitter/Blog Tags

The Uncommon Life of Alfred Warner in Six Days by Juliet Conlin @julietconlin @bwpublishing @lovebooksgroup #lovebookstour


Delighted to be taking part in the blog tour today, for Dark Waters by G R Halliday.  The second book in the Monica Kennedy series.

I really enjoyed reading From The Shadows ( my review can be found here: https://babbageandsweetcorn.wordpress.com/2020/06/23/book-review-for-from-the-shadows-by-g-r-halliday ) and meeting Monica and her team but wow! This new book was fantastic! Read on for my review.


Dark Waters Tour Poster final


Book Blurb

The haunting new novel from G. R. Halliday, author of FROM THE SHADOWS, shortlisted for THE MCILVANNEY DEBUT PRIZE

DARK WATERS is dark and disturbing from page one – in the best possible way. The plot is intricate and layered, and peppered with revelations that will keep you reading into the night’ Yrsa Sigurðardóttir


Annabelle has come to the Scottish Highlands to escape. But as she speeds along a deserted mountain road, she is suddenly forced to swerve. The next thing she remembers is waking up in a dark, damp room. A voice from the corner of the room says ‘The Doctor will be here soon’.

Scott is camping alone in the Scottish woodlands when he hears a scream. He starts to run in fear of his life. Scott is never seen again.

Meanwhile DI Monica Kennedy has been called to her first Serious Crimes case in six months – a dismembered body has been discovered, abandoned in a dam. Days later, when another victim surfaces, Monica knows she is on the hunt for a ruthless killer.

But as she begins to close in on the murderer, her own dark past isn’t far behind …


My Thoughts

If you like your thrillers a little dark, full of twists and turns, with fantastic characters giving the story new leads and information at every turn then grab a copy of this book!!  A fantastic read where I couldn’t turn the pages fast enough, ever eager to find out what would happen next.  The pace and drama are totally engrossing and the narrative given by the main victim along with our protagonist DI Monica Kennedy was superb.

Following the end results of book one, Monica has cut back on her work by temporarily joining the traffic department, allowing herself time to heal and to spend more time with her young daughter Lucy.  However whilst out on a trip to the cinema, Monica receives her first call in months from her old boss back in MIT.  She is needed back!  After the discovery of a dismembered body in the more remote parts of the Scottish Highlands Monica joins back up with Crawford, Fisher and new team member Khan, on what turns out to be a major murder and abduction investigation.

Yet again the Highlands and their landscape and weather are wonderfully evoked and it was great to meet back up with the team and we learn a little more about them in this new book.  They also seem a little closer after the events of book one.  I loved the way each chapter was told mainly from the point of view of each of the two main characters and how they overlapped within the time frame of the investigation, plus a few back stories and earlier events which gave the story insights into the crimes taking place.  There are a number of characters but the author introduces them well, as you read about their involvement and learn of yet another lead for Monica and her team to follow up.

The chapters told by Annabelle are quite graphic and scary but boy did I found my heart pumping at each of her attempts to escape. Towards the end of the book the story line from Annabelle and Monica are full of such tense drama and adrenaline, and I loved the way their actions are told, one after another, so that you can follow them getting closer and closer but will it all be too late???

This second book can easily be read as a standalone but I’ve so enjoyed reading these two books that I can’t wait for book three and further enjoyment from this new series.

Thanks so much to Mia from Vintage, for my place on the tour and bringing this new series to my attention.



A Quiet Death In Italy header

A Quiet Death In Italy



Bologna: city of secrets, suspicion . . . and murder

A dark and atmospheric crime thriller set in the beautiful Italian city of Bologna, perfect for fans of Donna Leon, Michael Dibdin and Philip Gwynne Jones.

When the body of a radical protestor is found floating in one of Bologna’s underground canals, it seems that most of the city is ready to blame the usual suspects: the police.

But when private investigator Daniel Leicester, son-in-law to a former chief of police, receives a call from the dead man’s lover, he follows a trail that begins in the 1970s and leads all the way to the rotten heart of the present-day political establishment.

Beneath the beauty of the city, Bologna has a dark underside, and English detective Daniel must unravel a web of secrets, deceit and corruption – before he is caught in it himself.

Tom Benjamin’s gripping debut transports you to the ancient and mysterious Italian city less travelled: Bologna.

Purchase Links

UK – https://www.amazon.co.uk/Quiet-Death-Italy-Tom-Benjamin/dp/1472131576/

US – https://www.amazon.com/Quiet-Death-Italy-Tom-Benjamin/dp/1472131576/


A QuietDeathInItaly_Final cover


Set in the slightly lesser known Italian city of Bologna, this detail rich, debut novel, follows an investigation into the death of a political protester.  With the police ‘unwilling’ to investigate and possibly even involved, it’s left to out main character, Englishman and private investigator Daniel Leicester to find out the truth.  And boy does it take him on a winding and involved story of Italian politics, corrupt government, and political protesters.  If you like your crime fiction to really have a sense of time and place this is a book for you.

A slow moving and multi layered novel which does a marvellous job at describing and evoking a city lesser known to the tourists which flood into Italy year after year.  The feel of the city with it’s history and it’s wonderful food and architecture are wonderfully described as well as the complicated and age old political and government situations, which are used to their fullest within the story line and plot.

I found Daniel a wonderful character, and felt I had already meet him before yet this is the first book in a new series.  A recent widower, having lost his Italian wife 3 years previously, he lives with his daughter Rose, father-in-law and two other family members. The adults also work together in the family owed business and this connection adds a lovely touch to the story, giving it a lighter thread to follow and grow.

There are a number of characters within the book whom all add their own authenticity  and backdrop to the story, and make this a well written, enjoyable, believable and evocative read.

Thanks to Rachel at Rachel’s Random Resources for my spot on the tour and to the publishers Constable Books for my digital copy which has a wonderfully interesting glossary at the end of the book, along with the first 2 chapters of the next book in this series, The Hunting Season!

A Quiet - TomBenjamin

Author Bio

Tom Benjamin started off as a reporter before moving to the press office at Scotland Yard and running drugs awareness campaign FRANK. He moved to Bologna where his work as doorman at a homeless canteen inspired him to create English detective Daniel Leicester in a series that serves up equal helpings of the local cuisine and ubiquitous graffiti; the city’s splendour, decay, and danger.

Social Media Links –


Twitter: https://twitter.com/Tombenjaminsays

Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/tombenjaminsays/



I’m delighted to be taking part today in the blog tour for The Family Holiday the latest novel by Elizabeth Nobel.  Published June 25th.


The Family holiday cover

The Family Holiday

Elizabeth Nobel

25th June  Penguin (Michael Joseph)



Charlie and Daphne were happily married, and their children Laura, Scott and Nick were inseparable. But then, inevitably, the children grew up and their own messy lives got in the way.

Since Daphne died, Charlie can’t help but think about happier times for the Chamberlain family – before his children drifted apart. His wife was the family’s true north, and without her guidance, Charlie fears his kids have all lost their direction.

For his eightieth birthday, all Charlie wants is to bring his family together again. And by some miracle, they’ve all said yes.

So, for the first time in a long time, the Chamberlains are going on a family holiday.

It’s only ten days . . . how bad could it be?



A character driven and emotional story of one family and how they deal with loss, grief and personal life changing events.  I found myself ‘welling up’ on a few occasions reading this book, but it is a warm, tender and uplifting read, about a family coming back together.

Charlie, father and grandfather, is soon to celebrate his 80th birthday and now that his wife is no longer around to organise, cagoule and gather everyone together, his adult children with families and troubles of their own, have all slightly drifted from the fold.

So on a surprisingly impulsive act he has booked a lovely house in the Cotswolds and invites his 3 children and their families for a 10 day holiday and much to his delight and relief they have all accepted.

The first part of the book wonderfully introduces each character and explains their emotional state and what’s happening to them in their own lives.  It gives you a real feel for each of them and an understanding of how they may feel about all coming together and how the death of their mother has left such a huge hole within the family.

The dynamics of everyone once at the holiday house makes for a delightful, engaging and interesting read and the author uses short chapters, focusing on individual family members to give the story a nice flow and pace to the 10 day holiday. I enjoyed the sub plot between Laura and Joe and liked the way it seemed to highlight, in a way,  the fact that they were all starting to turn a corner and move on in their lives.  All the characters from teenager to octogenarian are well written with warmth and understanding and I found I zoomed through this book, finding it both emotional yet an easy, light summer read.





Elizabeth Noble lives in Surrey with her husband and two daughters. Her previous Sunday Times bestsellers include: The Reading Group, which reached Number One, The Friendship Test (formerly published as The Tenko Club), Alphabet Weekends, Things I Want My Daughters to Know, The Girl Next Door, The Way We Were, Between a Mother and her Child, Love, Iris and The Family Holiday. Between a Mother and her Child and Love, Iris were both Richard & Judy Book Club picks. Other People’s Husbands is her tenth novel.


Thank you to the publishers for my proof copy and to Ella Watkins for my stop on the tour.  The Family Holiday is available now both in paperback and EBook.

Check out the other reviews from these wonderful bloggers!

The Family Holiday blog tour asset

Book Review for The Lion’s Den by Katherine St. John

the lions den



Dare to step on board The Lion’s Den?

When Belle is invited by her old friend Summer on a luxurious girls’ getaway to the Mediterranean aboard her billionaire boyfriend’s yacht, the only answer is yes.

But once aboard the opulent Lion’s Den, the dream holiday quickly turns into a nightmare. Belle and the other six women Summer has invited are treated more like prisoners than guests by their powerful host, locked into their cabins at night, their every move controlled – and Belle finds Summer herself is no longer the girl she once knew.

It soon becomes clear someone has a dark secret. Pulled into a dangerous game of cat and mouse, Belle realises she must keep her wits about her if she is to make it off the yacht alive…



This enjoyable and gripping debut thriller from Katherine St. John has an interesting and pacy plot, which uses different time periods to build it’s story.

Told by our main protagonist, Belle, it is a mix of thriller, women’s fiction with a dash of psychological suspense.

Belle is invited by her old friend Summer, on an all expenses paid holiday aboard the luxury yacht The Lion’s Den, owned by Summer’s much older millionaire boyfriend John.  Also invited are 2 other female friends, Summer’s sister plus guest and Summer’s mother.  All except one, known to Belle, and all seemingly happy to tow the line for a piece of indulgent luxury, putting aside any current feelings for Summer for a week sailing around the Italian and French Rivieras.

The moment Belle boards The Lion’s Den , however, there is an uncomfortable dynamics between the people onboard and odd things are soon noted. Cabin doors locked from the outside at night, no wi-fi or photos to be uploaded, instructions and itinerary given out each morning by John and Summer.  Soon Belle starts to wonder why she ever accepted this invitation and discovers that things are about to become a whole lot more serious than she could ever imagine.

I really liked the way the author used the different time strands leading up to the trip to go back, cleverly and slowly revealing another piece of the puzzle in this story, allowing the reader to see what is behind the possible goings on, on board the yacht.  The character’s of Eric and his brother are well thought out and used within the book and the images of the yacht and all the different ports it stops at are vivid and wonderfully evoked.

With the high possibility of very little summer travel taking place this year, it’s a great book to escape with to imagine a bit of Mediterranean heat, sea and sun soaked towns, even within this thriller setting.  The story kept me hooked throughout and offers a number of twists and turn with a satisfying ending to top it all off!

A great debut and will look out for more from this author in the future.


A big thank you to Emily Patience at Headline for sending me a copy of this book via NetGalley.  The Lion’s Den is available now on EBook and out in paperback March 2021.



Delighted to share with you my review for From The Shadows by G R Halliday.

Thank you to Mia Quibell-Smith at Vintage Books for my copy of the book and spot on the blog tour.


from the shadows Blog Tour Poster



Seven days. Four deaths. One chance to catch a killer.

Sixteen-year-old Robert arrives home late. Without a word to his dad, he goes up to his bedroom. Robert is never seen alive again.

A body is soon found on the coast of the Scottish Highlands. Detective Inspector Monica Kennedy is drawn into the murder investigation and she has a feeling that the case won’t begin and end with this one death.

Meanwhile, Inverness-based social worker Michael Bach is worried about one of his clients whose last correspondence was a single ambiguous text message; Nichol Morgan has been missing for seven days.

As Monica is faced with catching a murderer who has been meticulously watching and waiting, Michael keeps searching for Nichol, desperate to find him before the killer claims another victim.

From the Shadows introduces DI Monica Kennedy, an unforgettable new series lead, perfect for fans of Ann Cleeves’s Vera, Susie Steiner and Peter May.




Sixteen year old Robert goes missing from home one night. His body is found. He has been assaulted, murdered and left in a remote location posed as if praying to the skies.  DI Monica Kennedy and her team are put in charge of the case.  Soon other deaths are being investigated.

Along side this we meet Michael, a social worker who has reported one of his clients as missing.  Feeling that he has let the young man down by not answering an earlier call, Michael is determined to find him.

Both our protagonists appear to have secrets and regrets from their pasts and these are used to great effect to add even more to the dark and moody feel to the whole of the book.  Along with the remote and rugged setting this really is a book to curl up with.

I liked both the main characters very much.  Yes Monica has her issues like a lot of fictional detectives that make her a bit stand offish, but I felt she was a character that I would want to find out more about in following books.  Michael is an endearing character that plays as much of a part in the solving of the case as the police do and I thought the two ‘investigations’ worked well along side each other.

The story line is dark with some unpleasant scenes in places but not overly so and I really enjoyed the way the landscape, wet weather and remoteness were used within the story. I found it well written with lots of detail and an interesting new police procedural to try.  I look forward to meeting up with Monica again next month in the second novel, Dark Waters, which I will be reviewing on July 9th.


From the Shadows is published by Vintage Books and is out now, with Dark Waters, the second book in this new series, coming July 16th.




The Seduction BT Poster


It’s my stop on the blog tour today for this very seductive and sultry novel.  The Seduction is published by Bloomsbury Publishing and was release June 11th.

Thank you to the publishers for my gorgeous hardback copy and to Anne Cater of Random Things Tours for my invite onto the blog tour.


Beth lives by Camden Lock with her partner Sol and their daughter Fern. Life is peaceful, but Beth is troubled by increasing unease. It could be to do with her mother’s disappearance years ago. It could be her sense that Fern is keeping secrets from her.

So she goes to therapy. Dr Tamara Bywater is there to help her patients, and soon their sessions become the highlight of Beth’s week. But Beth is in over her head before she realises that Tamara might not be all she seems…

What if the person you trust the most turns out to be the greatest danger of all?




We follow our protagonist Beth; wife, mother and artist.  She lives by Camden lock with husband Sol and daughter Fern who has just turned 13.

Plagued by guilt, anger and flashbacks of her mother, who left Beth and her father when Beth was 13 herself, she is already in a distressed state when we meet her.  Worried that her own childhood experiences will damage her relationship with Fern, Beth has become over protective and an over thinker when it comes to her daughter.  Talking to her husband Sol doesn’t help much, as he seems to just brush aside all concerns and suggests Beth see a therapist about her feelings in general.

Enter Dr Tamara Bywater.  At first she seems competent and professional, soon spotting and discussing the topic of transference that is clearly taking place between client and patient from the very start.

Beth, unhappy in so many ways feels an attraction to Dr Bywater and soon believes she needs her in all situations of her life to tell her the right thing to do.  Thinking of her constantly she imagines she sees her by the tube, by work and the canal.

We soon see things start to move quickly in a different direction as Tamara admits to feelings for Beth and they decide to meet as friends outside the therapy rooms. Something that is highly irregular and could get her struck off.  As Beth becomes more and more intoxicated by Tamara, lying to husband who by now has started to ‘take notes!’ on Beth’s behaviour, we see this new and passionate affair turn into something controlling and possibly dangerous.

It’s hard to say any of the characters were likeable but that doesn’t make them characters that aren’t readable.  Sol and his increasing distance, Fern and her behaviour, Beth utterly lost and Tamara controlling, teasing manner.  Pulling Beth in, pushing her away and using all her powers on so many levels, playing Beth like some kind of puppet as she slides, like a drugged animal into Tamara’s seductive impulses.


Having never read this author before, it did take me a while to get use to her style of writing, particularly when it came to dialogue but her descriptive writing is memorising, with the heat and intoxication between them oozing from the page.  The author uses the canal and Beth’s art to great affect in showing the reader her changing behaviour, and the tension, darkness and light within Beth and Tamara’s relationship is hypnotic.  Both the sexual tension between them and the tension within the story line is deliciously dark.

I found this a real page turner, yet very unique read.




Joanna Briscoe is the author of five previous novels, including the bestselling Sleep With Me, which was adapted for ITV by Andrew Davies. She has been a columnist for the Independent and the Guardian, is a literary critic for the Guardian, and broadcasts regularly on Radio 4.

joannabriscoe.com @JoannaBriscoe



the rumour minethe rumour signed


When single mum Joanna hears a rumour at the school gates, she never intends to pass it on. But one casual comment leads to another and now there’s no going back . . .

Rumour has it that a notorious child killer is living under a new identity, in their sleepy little town of Flinstead-on-Sea.

Sally McGowan was just ten years old when she stabbed little Robbie Harris to death forty-eight years ago – no photos of her exist since her release as a young woman.

So who is the supposedly reformed killer who now lives among them? How dangerous can one rumour become? And how far will Joanna go to protect her loved ones from harm, when she realises what it is she’s unleashed?



When single mum Jo ‘up sticks’ from London to sleepy Flinstead on the Essex coast, it’s in hope of a fresh start.  Closer to her mum and a better place for her young son to grow up she is keen for them both to make new friends.

When she hears some gossip at the school gates she initially doesn’t think too much about it.  However the rumour is that there is a convicted child killer, now living in the town and as gossip can get a little carried away, Jo begins to join in and helps spreads the rumour.  What harm can it do? Plus it is a way to get talking to people, to make new friends.

Micheal, a journalist, and Jo’s ex hears of this spreading gossip and talks to Jo about it.  He is keen to follow it up in the hope of a story.  After the rumour starts to become talked of over town, Jo gets carried away and mentions a piece of information she has obtained from Micheal.  This leads to Jo becoming more involved than she would ever think possible.

As a local woman becomes a target and as Jo’s guilt and fear increases, the tension both in the town and within the book builds and Micheal and Jo are dangerously drawn into events.

Full of twists and turns and a well described set of small town characters, this book had me gripped, leading me this way and that, trying to unravel the mystery of who this child killer could be.  The thriller ramps up as the book moves along and whether or not not figure some of it out, there is a great twist at the end.

A wonderful portrayal of a small seaside town, The Rumour is a pacy, addictive read.


I bought my signed copy of The Rumour from Caxton Books.  Based in the town of Frinton on Sea.