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#TuesdayBookBlog THE SHADOW OF THE MOLE by Bob Van Laerhoven (@bobvanlaerhoven) A dark and beautiful novel set during WWI that explores the depths of people’s minds and souls #literaryfiction #WWI

Hi all:

I want to share the review of a novel by an author those of you who read my blog regularly will already be familiar with. He never disappoints and his books are always pretty special.

The Shadow of the Mole by Bob Van Laerhoven

The Shadow of the Mole by Bob Van Laerhoven

1916, Bois de Bolante, France. The battles in the trenches are raging fiercer than ever. In a deserted mineshaft, French sappeurs discover an unconscious man, and nickname him The Mole.

Claiming he has lost his memory, The Mole is convinced that he’s dead, and that an Other has taken his place. The military brass considers him a deserter, but front physician and psychiatrist-in-training Michel Denis suspects that his patient’s odd behavior is stemming from shellshock, and tries to save him from the firing squad.

The mystery deepens when The Mole begins to write a story in écriture automatique that takes place in Vienna, with Dr. Josef Breuer, Freud’s teacher, in the leading role. Traumatized by the recent loss of an arm, Denis becomes obsessed with him, and is prepared to do everything he can to unravel the patient’s secret.

Set against the staggering backdrop of the First World War, The Shadow Of The Mole is a thrilling tableau of loss, frustration, anger, madness, secrets and budding love. The most urgent question in this extraordinary story is: when, how, and why reality shifts into delusion?

“The Flemish writer Bob Van Laerhoven writes in a fascinating and compelling way about a psychiatric investigation during WW1. The book offers superb insight into the horrors of war and the trail of human suffering that results from it” – NBD Biblion

https://www.amazon.com/Shadow-Mole-Bob-Van-Laerhoven-ebook/dp/B09RTTK28K/

https://www.amazon.co.uk/Shadow-Mole-Bob-Van-Laerhoven-ebook/dp/B09RTTK28K/

https://www.amazon.es/Shadow-Mole-English-Bob-Laerhoven-ebook/dp/B09RTTK28K/

Author Bob Van Laerhoven
Author Bob Van Laerhoven

About the author:

Bob van Laerhoven was born on August 8th, 1953 in the sandy soil of Antwerp’s Kempen, a region in Flanders (Belgium), bordering to The Netherlands, where according to the cliché ‘pig-headed clodhoppers’ live. This perhaps explains why he started to write stories at a particularly young age. A number of his stories were published in English, French, German, Polish, Spanish, and Slovenian.

DEBUT

Van Laerhoven made his debut as a novelist in 1985 with “Nachtspel – Night Game.” He quickly became known for his ‘un-Flemish’ style: he writes colorful, kaleidoscopic novels in which the fate of the individual is closely related to broad social transformations. His style slowly evolved in his later novels to embrace more personal themes while continuing to branch out into the world at large. International flair has become his trademark.

AVID TRAVELLER

Bob Van Laerhoven became a full-time author in 1991. The context of his stories isn’t invented behind his desk, rather it is rooted in personal experience. As a freelance travel writer, for example, he explored conflicts and trouble-spots across the globe from the early 1990s to 2004. Echoes of his experiences on the road also trickle through in his novels. Somalia, Liberia, Sudan, Gaza, Iran, Mozambique, Burundi, Lebanon, Iraq, Myanmar… to name but a few.

MASS MURDERS

During the Bosnian war, Van Laerhoven spent part of 1992 in the besieged city of Sarajevo. Three years later he was working for MSF – Doctors without frontiers – in the Bosnian city of Tuzla during the NATO bombings. At that moment the refugees arrived from the Muslim enclave of Srebrenica. Van Laerhoven was the first writer from the Low Countries to be given the chance to speak to the refugees. His conversations resulted in a travel book: “Srebrenica. Getuigen van massamoord – Srebrenica. Testimony to a Mass Murder.” The book denounces the rape and torture of the Muslim population of this Bosnian-Serbian enclave and is based on first-hand testimonies. He also concludes that mass murders took place, an idea that was questioned at the time but later proven accurate.

MULTIFACETED OEUVRE

All these experiences contribute to Bob Van Laerhoven’s rich and commendable oeuvre, an oeuvre that typifies him as the versatile author of novels, travel stories, theatre pieces, biographies, non-fiction, letters, columns, articles… He is also a prize-winning author: in 2007 he won the Hercule Poirot Prize for best crime-novel of the year with “De Wraak van Baudelaire – Baudelaire’s Revenge.” “Baudelaire’s Revenge” has been published in the USA, France, Canada, the Netherlands, Belgium, and Russia. In 2014, a second French translation of one of his titles has been published in France and Canada. “Le Mensonge d’Alejandro” is set in a fictitious South-American dictatorship in the eighties. The “junta” in this novel is a symbol for the murderous dictatorships in South-America (Chile and Argentine, to mention two) during the seventies and beginning of the eighties. In The Netherlands and Belgium, his novel “De schaduw van de Mol” (The Shadow Of The Mole) was published in November 2015. The novel is set in the Argonne-region of France in 1916. In 2017 followed “Dossier Feuerhand (The Firehand Files), set in Berlin in 1921.

“Baudelaire’s Revenge” is the winner of the USA BEST BOOK AWARDS 2014 in the category Fiction: mystery/suspense.

In April 2015 The Anaphora Literary Press published the collection of short stories “Dangerous Obsessions” in the US, Australia, UK, and Canada, in paperback, e-book, and hardcover. “Dangerous Obsessions” was voted “best short story collection of 2015 in The San Diego Book Review. In May 2017, Месть Бодлерa, the Russian edition of “Baudelaire’s Revenge” was published. “Dangerous Obsessions” has been published in Italian, Portuguese, Swedish, and Spanish editions. In January 2018 followed “Heart Fever”, a second collection of short stories, published by The Anaphora Literary Press. The collection came out in German, Portuguese, Italian, and Spanish. “Heart Fever” was one of the five finalists – and the only non-American author – of the Silver Falchion Award 2018 in the category “short stories collections.” In April 2018, Crime Wave Press (Hong Kong) brought forth the English language publication of “Return to Hiroshima”, Brian Doyle’s translation of the novel “Terug naar Hiroshima”. The British quality review blog “MurderMayhem&More” listed “Return to Hiroshima” in the top ten of international crime novels in 2018. Readers’ Favorite gave Five Stars. In August 2021, Next Chapter published “Alejandro’s Lie,” the English translation of “Alejandro’s leugen.”

https://www.amazon.com/Bob-Van-Laerhoven/e/B00JP4KO76/

My review:

I thank the publisher and the author for the ARC copy of this novel, which I freely chose to review. Having read three of Van Laerhoven’s novels before (in their English translations), I knew I had to read this one, especially because of the early psychiatry theme that plays such an important part in the story. I might not work as a psychiatrist now, but that doesn’t mean I don’t find it a fascinating topic. And it is particularly well-suited to fiction.

To do full justice to this novel would require a very long review (even by my standards, and I do tend to go on a bit), perhaps even a whole book, but I will try and cover a few aspects of it while not spoiling it for readers. To be honest, although there is a mystery (well, mysteries) in this book, there are many interpretations possible, and I have no doubt that reading it will be a complex and unique experience for each and every reader.

The setting is momentous, both in space and time (the French trenches during WWI), but the book contains a variety of narratives, not only the overall story taking place in chronological order and involving a young psychiatrist (Michel Denis) who has recently lost an arm, during the war, when we meet him, and his adventures (both professional and personal), but also the story of the Mole, a man found at the very beginning of the novel in one of the tunnels the soldiers are digging. (That aspect of the novel, the setting in WWI, and some of the psychiatric elements reminded me of Regeneration by Pat Barker, a novel I recommend as well to anybody interested in the subject. The two books are very different, though.) He claims he has lost his memory when they find him, and he also says he is dead. The main way he communicates with others around him is through his writing, a story set many years earlier, full of symbolism, darkness, violence, and surreal elements, and whose protagonist cannot truly be him, but somehow comes to be identified with him. This diary/novel seems to be the result of automatic writing, and we have the opportunity to read it as well and reach our own conclusions. We are also provided with several letters, extremely personal in nature, one written by a character we meet earlier in the story, and another one by a character who plays a very small role in the events. And although we mostly see things from Michel Denis’s point of view (although written in the third person), we also get access to the diary of a very peculiar (and wonderful) psychiatrist he meets later in the book, Dr. Ferrand, who challenges him and helps him face his own fears and issues. Don’t worry, though. Although the book is complex, this is due to the concepts and issues it raises, not the way the story is told. The narrative is not straightforward, and it is far from an easy read, but the way the story is told is not confusing, and the changes in point of view and narrative are clearly signalled.

The novel is a kaleidoscope of narratives, perspectives, opinions, true events, dreams, imagination… and the veil separating all those is very thin indeed. The author and his book ask some pretty big questions: what makes a human being feel whole? Is it a matter of physical health, appearance and looks, having a name and identity recognised and respected by others, having a job title, holding a position, and being part of a family? What makes us human, and how much cruelty, suffering, and pressure can we endure before we disappear or become a shadow, dead to the world? How do we develop our personalities and what makes us who we are? It is only a matter o genetics, or experiences, trauma, education, influences, role models, and everything around us play a part?

Discussing the characters is not easy, because, at least as it pertains to the main characters, our experience in reading this book is akin to being privileged witnesses of their undergoing an analysis that digs deep into their minds, their early memories, their dreams… Although the mysterious identity of the Mole is at the centre of the novel (or so it seems), learning who Michael Denis really is, is as important, and we discover many truths about some of the other characters in the process. Many of them are perhaps things we’d rather not know, but we cannot choose. Everything is somehow related, and every piece of the puzzle is necessary for the final reveal (which I won’t talk about).

As I had mentioned psychiatry and my interest in it, for those who might feel as intrigued as I am, there are wonderful references to the early figures of the history of psychiatry, important psychiatric texts, famous cases… which I thoroughly enjoyed, but more than anything, I loved the discussions between Michel and Dr. Ferrand, who is a man and a professional with great insight and with ideas well before his time. His comments about the nature of psychiatry and the way it might evolve are both beautiful and thought-provoking.

Talking about beautiful, the writing is gorgeous. The different sections are written in very different styles, as it befits the characters doing the writing within the story, but they are all compelling, feel true, and are powerfully descriptive. We might be reading about a bombing, a sexual assault (yes, this book is not a light read, quite the opposite, and readers should be warned about the dark nature of the story), a historical event, or a beautiful landscape, and we feel as if we had a first-row seat, even though sometimes we’d rather be anywhere else. Reading the biography of the author is easy to understand how all he writes rings so true, as he has lived and witnessed extremes of human behaviour most of us will never (luckily) have to confront.

A few quotes from the book:

“We’re moths in the night, burning our wings every time there’s a ray of light.”

It wasn’t a sound. It was every sound sucked away from the world by a powerful vortex that distorted time so that the world shrivelled and subsequently expanded until a point where everything had to burst. In front of Denis, the wall erupted open, and behind it a great bull was belching fire.

Remember you said you couldn’t live with yourself anymore after your arm had been hacked off? That’s how you said it: hacked off. And here’s what I thought, if you can’t live with yourself, who is being ‘you’ then?

The book includes poems, quotes from famous (and not so famous) books, songs… some in French and German, and these are translated in a series of notes easily accessible, even in e-book format.

I recommend this book to readers looking for deep meanings, who love historical fiction that goes beyond the usual, who are prepared to face the darker aspects of human behaviour and the human soul, and to anybody looking for a new author who is not afraid to move beyond convention and to make us face some dark truths. A complex and rich book for those who dare to ask some tough questions. I hope it helps you find the answers you were looking for.

Thanks to the publisher and the author for this novel, thanks to all of you for reading, and remember, if you have a chance, to comment, share, click, like, and especially, to keep smiling and safe.

 

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Book review Book reviews Rosie's Book Review Team Rosie's Book Team Review

#TuesdayBookBlog IN WOLVES’ CLOTHING by Greg Levin (@greg_levin) A sharp novel, both in action and in style, with fabulous dialogue and a flawed hero you’ll love #RBRT

Hi all:

Today I bring you the review of a novel that once again I’ve discovered thanks to Rosie’s Book Review Team, and I must say I will be watching this author very closely in the future.

In Wolves' Clothing by Greg Levin
In Wolves’ Clothing by Greg Levin

In Wolves’ Clothing by Greg Levin

On his best days, Zero Slade is the worst man you can imagine. He has to be. It’s the only way to save the Lost Girls.

During his seven years on a team fighting child sex trafficking, Zero’s become quite good at schmoozing with pimps, getting handcuffed by cops and pretending not to care about the children he liberates. But the dangerous sting operations are starting to take their toll on his marriage and sanity. His affinity for prescription painkillers isn’t exactly helping matters.

When the youngest girl the team has ever rescued gets abducted from a safe house in Cambodia, Zero decides to risk everything to find her. His only shot is to go rogue, and sink deeper into the bowels of the trafficking world than he’s ever sunk.

It’s the biggest mission of his life. Trouble is, it’s almost certain death.

https://www.amazon.com/Wolves-Clothing-Greg-Levin-ebook/dp/B075WSMPBT/

https://www.amazon.co.uk/Wolves-Clothing-Greg-Levin-ebook/dp/B075WSMPBT/

Author Greg Levin
Author Greg Levin

About the author:

Biography

Greg Levin is an award-winning author of psychological thrillers with a dark comedic tinge. He’s gone from being read merely by immediate family and friends to being read also by extended family and Facebook acquaintances.

Greg’s novel The Exit Man was optioned by HBO and later by Showtime for development into a TV series, and won a 2015 Independent Publisher Book Award (a.k.a., an “IPPY”). Greg earned a second IPPY with his next novel, Sick to Death, which Craig Clevenger (The Contortionist’s Handbook) called “a tour de force dark comedy.” Greg’s latest book, In Wolves’ Clothing, is his most dangerous. He wrote much of it during a ten-week-long workshop led by the great Chuck Palahniuk (author of Fight Club and lots of other books Greg sleeps with at night).

Greg resides with his wife, daughter and two cats in Austin, Texas. He is currently wanted by local authorities for refusing to say “y’all” or do the two-step.

Website: http://www.greglevin.com

Facebook: @greglevintheauthor
Twitter: @greg_levin
Instagram: @greglevinauthor

Join Greg’s email list to receive a free ebook and a 3-chapter sample of In Wolves’ Clothing, as well as his bi-weekly(ish) blog posts and occasional news/special offers related to his books. You can join the list at greglevin.com.

https://www.amazon.com/Greg-Levin/e/B0051AYWFI/

My review:

Thanks to Rosie Amber from Rosie’s Book Review Team (authors, check here if you would like your books reviewed) and to the author for providing me with a copy of the book that I freely chose to review.

Zero Slade is the narrator of this story that packs plenty of action, violence, and darkness in under three hundred pages. He is a flawed hero or even an anti-hero. He drinks too much, he takes prescription painkillers (of course, no longer prescribed, although there’s little doubt that he is in pain); he loves his wife but lies to her and cannot share his feelings; he is good at his job but is falling into a downward spiral where he makes mistakes, often makes the wrong decisions and gets himself and others into trouble. He is a master of witty retorts (although these seem to take the form of a mental commentary rather than things he tells people, as he pretends, both for professional and for personal reasons to be calm, collected, and not easily fazed), and dark-humour and a cynical point-of-view are second-nature to him. His style of internal dialogue reminded me of noir-novels and of the voice-over narrations used by film-noir detectives of the thirties and forties. He is big, strong, and, in appearance at least, tough. And he needs to be, to do the job he does.

The book’s subject is horrific, and although the novel does not go into a lot of detail about sex trafficking, it does highlight the reality of it, the terrible statistics, and the experiences of the young girls and of those who try to help them, often with little long-term success. Doing such a job requires special qualities and takes a toll on all those involved. Zero reflects on the motley crew he works with early on in the novel and when we meet the new recruit he is supposed to train, Caleb, we wonder what he has in common with the rest and how he came to be there. He seems too together. A Buddhist who always sees the positive side of every situation. Of course, things are not always what they seem, and Zero is not the only one keeping secrets.

Coping with such extreme experiences is not easy. Zero’s first-person narration allows the reader to get inside his head and share his techniques to try and avoid getting emotionally involved and overwhelmed by what he sees. His drinking, his drug abuse, and his defence mechanisms and strategies all point to the fact that rather than being hard, tough, and unfeeling, he is trying to protect himself because otherwise, he’d crack.

We don’t get to know all of the secondary characters well (the book is short, but we do get a good sense of what Zero thinks about them, even if he is not always the best judge of character and he gets more than one surprise) but especially those on the good side are varied, interesting, sympathetic, and morally complex. We don’t know every single detail of Zero’s life either (and he spends a fair amount of time under the influence of drink, drugs, both, or in pain) but he shares enough of his memories and experiences for us to root for him. We know how he met his wife, we learn about his brother’s passing, and even about some bad things that he might or might not have done. Many unreliable narrators sometimes try to paint themselves in a positive light, but although Zero is in denial about his addictions, he is a master of understatement and skilled at putting himself down.

I have once again highlighted a lot of the book, but just a few samples of a novel that’s eminently quotable:

Whenever people say, “It could always be worse,” they’re right … unless they’re talking about what the Lost Girls have been through. That’s where worse ends.

Talking about a superheroes blockbuster movie: It’s about Lycra overcoming evil.

I hate that playing a pedophile comes more naturally to me than being myself.

The trouble is, the camera always takes five pounds off the truth.

The flight attendant returns with my refill. Saved by the bourbon.

One of the nurses helping him move tells him: “Okay, this is always the hard part.” The perfect title for my autobiography.

This is a fast novel, sharp both in action and in style, with fabulous dialogue and a quick-fire and pared-down writing that is dynamic and vibrant. It also has a big heart, deals with a very serious subject, and manages to convey the depth of feeling of a character that goes to big lengths to hide that he is a big softy. Ah, and the ending is great too.

If you don’t mind a fair amount of violence (never gratuitous, but still…), the subject matter, and like heroes down on their luck with plenty of verbal style, you are in for a treat with this novel. An author to follow closely and an important subject.

Thanks to Rosie Amber and to the author for the book, thanks to all of you for reading, and remember to like, share, comment, click and REVIEW!

[amazon_link asins=’B00C3GXCOU,0990402916,0990402932′ template=’ProductCarousel’ store=’wwwauthortran-20′ marketplace=’US’ link_id=’0d7d06c8-c8b6-11e7-b5b3-979ef4c8721c’]

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#Bookreview THE FOURTH MONKEY by J.D. Barker (@jdbarker) (@HQstories) A solid thriller, with an intriguing dynamic between the lead investigator and the killer

Hi all:

I read this novel a few weeks back but I decided to wait until it became available to share the review. It is doing quite well, so…

The Fourth Monkey by J.D. Barker
The Fourth Monkey by J.D. Barker

The Fourth Monkey: A twisted thriller – perfect edge-of-your-seat summer reading by J.D. Barker

Brilliant. Complicated. Psychopath.

That’s the Four Monkey Killer or ‘4MK’. A murderer with a twisted vision and absolutely no mercy.

Detective Sam Porter has hunted him for five long years, the recipient of box after box of grisly trinkets carved from the bodies of 4MK’s victims.

But now Porter has learnt the killer’s twisted history and is racing to do the seemingly impossible – find 4MK’s latest victim before it’s too late…

Review

“A talented writer with a delightfully devious mind.”
–Jeffery Deaver

“Not since Hannibal Lecter had a friend for dinner has a serial killer been so skillfully rendered on the page.”
―Taylor Elmore, Writer/Producer of Justified and Limitless

“Gripping, addictive, and devilishly clever. From its opening salvo The Fourth Monkey grabs you and never lets go. J. D. Barker is a stunning new talent.”
– Barry Lancet, award-winning author of Tokyo Kill and Pacific Burn

“A chillingly delicious page-turner.”
– NY Times Bestselling Author, Kelley Armstrong

“Creepy, scary… and impossible to put down! THE FOURTH MONKEY is everything a thriller should be―a must read!”
― Heather Graham, New York Times bestselling author

“Gritty, masterful suspense. A dark ride into the mind of a genius killer, and those tasked with stopping him for good. Impeccably written with Barker’s trademark wit and penchant for killer detail. Lee Child, you’ve met your match.”
―Tosca Lee, NY Times Bestselling Author

https://www.amazon.co.uk/Fourth-Monkey-detective-edge-your-seat-ebook/dp/B01M2D5P3F/

https://www.amazon.com/Fourth-Monkey-detective-edge-your-seat-ebook/dp/B01M2D5P3F/

Author J. D. Barker
Author J. D. Barker

About the author:

J.D. Barker (Jonathan Dylan Barker) is an international bestselling American author who’s work has been broadly described as suspense thrillers, often incorporating elements of horror, crime, mystery, science fiction, and the supernatural.

Early life and Career

Barker was born January 7, 1971 in Lombard, Illinois and spent the first fourteen years of his life in Crystal Lake, Illinois. A staunch introvert, he was rarely seen without a book in hand, devouring both the Hardy Boys and Nancy Drew series by the age of six before moving on to classics such as the works of Dickens and Twain. The discovery of Shelley, Stoker and Poe fueled a fire and it wasn’t long before he was writing tales of his own which he shared with friends and family. These early stories centered around witches and ghosts thought to inhabit the woods surrounding their home.

At fourteen, Barker’s family relocated to Englewood, Florida, a climate better suited to his father’s profession as a contractor. He attended Lemon Bay High School and graduated in 1989. Knowing he wanted to pursue a career in the arts but unsure of a direction, he enrolled at the Art Institute of Fort Lauderdale where he later obtained a degree in business. While in college, one of his writing assignment found its way into the hands of Paul Gallotta of Circus Magazine. Gallotta reached out to Barker and asked him to join the staff of 25th Parallel Magazine where he worked alongside the man who would later become Marilyn Manson. Assignments dropped him into the center of pop culture and by 1991 Barker branched out, interviewing celebrities for the likes of Seventeen, TeenBeat, and other national and local publications. In 1992, Barker syndicated a small newspaper column called Revealed which centered around the investigation of haunted places and supernatural occurrences. While he often cites these early endeavors as a crash course in tightening prose, his heart remained with fiction. He began work as a book doctor and ghostwriter shortly thereafter, helping others fine tune their writing for publication. Barker has said this experience proved invaluable, teaching him what works and what doesn’t in today’s popular fiction. He would continue in this profession until 2012 when he wrote a novel of his own, titled Forsaken.

Stephen King read portions of Forsaken prior to publication and granted Barker permission to utilize the character of Leland Gaunt of King’s Needful Things in the novel. Indie-published in late 2014, the book went on to hit several major milestones – #2 on Audible (Harper Lee with Go Set a Watchman held #1), #44 on Amazon U.S., #2 on Amazon Canada, and #22 on Amazon UK. Forsaken was also nominated for a Bram Stoker Award (Best Debut Novel) and won a handful of others including a New Apple Medalist Award. After reading Forsaken, Bram Stoker’s family reached out to Barker and asked him to co-author a prequel to Dracula utilizing Bram’s original notes and journals, much of which has never been made public.

Barker’s indie success drew the attention of traditional agents and publishers and in early 2016 his debut thriller, The Fourth Monkey, sold in a series of pre-empts and auctions worldwide with Houghton Mifflin Harcourt set to publish in the U.S. and HarperCollins in the UK. The book has also sold for both film and television.

Barker splits his time between Englewood, FL, and Pittsburgh, PA, with his wife, Dayna.

https://www.amazon.com/J.-D.-Barker/e/B005FCUYU4/

https://www.amazon.co.uk/J.-D.-Barker/e/B005FCUYU4/

My review:

Thanks to Net Galley and to Houghton Mifflin Harcourt for offering me an ARC copy of this book that I freely chose to review.

This novel ticks many of the boxes of successful thrillers: interesting and gruesome crimes (and a pretty bizarre serial killer), police procedural elements (and an investigating team easy to connect with and amusing at times), tension ticking (a girl has been taken by the 4MK [Four Monkey Killer] and she must be found before she dies), twists and turns (I suspect most avid readers of thrillers will guess some, at least, of them), red herrings… It is fairly long, although it keeps a good pace. If I missed anything, it was perhaps more psychological insight. And if we stop to think about it, the police force seems pretty ineffective but…

The story is told in chapters written in the third person from different points of view, mostly Porter’s (the lead investigator in the case although not fully back to work after some time off. We learn the reason later in the book) and Emory’s (the young victim), although there is the odd chapter from one of the other detective’s points of view, Clair. Interspersed with this we have fragments of the killer’s diary, which is found in the pocket of a man killed by a bus at the beginning of the book. The diary, that starts out pretty harmless, as the account of what seems to be a pretty normal childhood, gets creepier and creepier as it goes along and it provides an understanding (or justification of sorts) for the killer’s later behaviour (blood is thicker and all that, but there are also lies, secrets and betrayals. That is, if we are to believe the diary).  That and other aspects of the book (and I don’t want to say much to avoid spoilers) including the cat-and-mouse chase, provide us with some interesting insights into the mind of the killer and emphasise the fact that appearances can be very deceptive. A seemingly normal middle-class family can hide all kinds of dirty secrets. And upper-class families can too, as becomes evident through the book. The revenge/avenging aspect of the murders (the sins of the fathers are visited…) is not new, although it makes the murderer more intriguing.

The other parts of the book help move the story forward and the events are set chronologically, from the moment Porter is awakened by a phone call that brings him back to the police, as he’s been chasing the 4MK Killer for over five years. Although Porter’s point of view dominates the novel, I did not feel we got to know him all that well. Yes, something has happened to him (I guessed what it was early on) and he is suffering and unwilling to openly acknowledge that or discuss it; he is not keen on gadgets and seems utterly out of touch with new technologies and social media, and he is determined and driven, putting himself at risk repeatedly for the good of others. But, although I liked the fact that the team of detectives investigating the case were pretty normal individuals (not corrupt, not twisted and bitter, even when it would be more than justified, not morally ambiguous psychopaths), I still missed having more of a sense of who Porter really is. Clair has little page space and I got no sense of her own personality, other than knowing that she cares for Porter and her colleagues and she has an amusing love/dislike relationship with Nash (who is the character that provides the light relief throughout the book). In the case of Emory, who finds herself in a terrifying situation, we get to share her experiences with her, and it is one of the most effective portions of the book, adding to the tension and the need to keep turning the pages.

The style of writing is direct, with only the necessary descriptions to allow us to follow the investigation (including descriptions of clues and places. I particularly enjoyed the idea of the tunnels from bootlegging times that help bring the setting’s history into the novel). The chronological storyline and the signposting of the different points of view, make it a story dynamic and easy to read, and although it is perhaps longer than the norm in the genre it is a fairly quick read.

As I said, there are plenty of twists and turns, enough to keep one’s mind busy, although I suspect avid readers of the genre will guess a few of them, if not all. I have read some of the comments disparaging the fact that the police seem to be pretty ineffective and they only get to rescue the victim thanks to the clues left by the killer. Indeed, that is so (in fairness, Porter, who seems the most clued-on of the team and the expert on this case, is battling personal issues of his own and not at his best) but, if anything, that further emphasises the relationship between Porter and the killer. What attracts the killer to Porter? The ending (oh, yes, very satisfying, although, of course, it creates intrigue for the next book in the series) highlights that issue even more. I get the feeling that this series will improve as it goes along but only time will tell.

In summary, a story of evil hiding in unexpected places, of secrets and lies that are covered by a thin veneer of normality, and a solid police procedural thriller, with a main character and a killer whose relationship holds the key to more mysteries to come.  Ah, a word of warning. If you don’t like graphic violence and torture, you might want to give it a miss.

Thanks to the publishers and the author for this book, thanks to all of you for reading and remember to like, share, comment, click and REVIEW!

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Book review Book reviews

#Bookreview #RBRT BLOOD OF THE SIXTH by K. R. Rowe (@KRRowe) A Southern gothic tale that will scare and delight #TuesdayBookBlog

Hi all:

Today I bring you another one of my reviews for Rosie’s Book Review Team. I advise you to check her blog and follow the other reviewers if you’re interested in books.

And without further ado…

Blood of the Sixth by K.R. Rowe
Blood of the Sixth by K.R. Rowe

Blood of the Sixth by K. R. Rowe A gothic Southern tale that will scare and delight

In the quaint Southern town of Port Bella Rosa, something sinister lurks beneath the cobblestones. When hunger stirs a centuries-old evil, a demon awakens, releasing its hunters in search of prey. Jackals swarm from the mist, seeking out quarry, sating their master with offerings of human flesh.

Allie Kent catches a glimpse of the first victim: a corpse with its organs, muscle and bone all consumed, leaving nothing more than skin behind. While police work to solve the unexplained murder, more bodies are found mutilated. Finally convinced the killer isn’t human, Detective Phillip Chambers is desperate to shield Allie from harm.

But something haunts Allie: shadows spill through her darkened window; nightmares invade her sleep while visions confuse her waking thoughts. With Phillip her only protection, Allie struggles to keep her independence in check while treading a thin line between reality and insanity. But is the evil dwelling beneath the stones her only true threat—or will the demons in Allie’s head have the strength to destroy them both?

Here, my review:

I write this review as a member of Rosie’s Book Review Team and I was provided with an ARC copy of the book that I freely chose to review.

I enjoy horror books (and movies) although I don’t read exclusively in that genre. I must admit that perhaps I’m more lenient with horror books than I’d be with others. If they manage to scare me, I’m usually happy. As happens with comedy, where it’s very difficult to make people laugh, it’s not that easy to scare people (or at least people who enjoy being scared. I know people who wouldn’t read horror or watch movies). If the book can scare me, the story is good and the characters are solid and interesting, we have a winner.

And, we have a winner! As I mention above I am reviewing this book as a member of Rosie’s Books Review Team, and I noticed it in the catalogue of books available a while back, but I had so many other books to read that I didn’t dare to take it on. And there it was, teasing me. Eventually, I had to read it.

The story, told in the third person, alternating between the points of view of Allie Kent, the main protagonist of the story, and some of the other characters, including Phillip Chambers, a detective who falls for her from the very beginning.

The opening of the novel (and as I said I’ve read a few in the genre) is very strong. I won’t mention anything, although I dare you to check the beginning of the novel in the look inside feature. You’ll see what I mean.

The main characters have difficult and traumatic experiences behind (Allie’s we discover slowly, and they are much worse than we imagine), and Allie and Phillip cling to each other. But the bizarre crimes have also much history behind them, and soon the ghosts of the past become more vivid and alive than the present for Allie, causing all kinds of terrible things.

The crimes are not only gory and scary, beautifully (if you know what I mean) and eerily rendered but also relate to a tragic love story. The baddies… well, supernatural doesn’t quite cover it. If you’re or have ever been scared of the dark, you’ll jump at shadows after reading this.

The author cleverly creates a claustrophobic atmosphere, where Allie’s apartment, her building, and the neighbourhood become part of the story, giving it a gothic feel. I can honestly say that I felt as if the town was shrinking and only the areas where the crimes were committed existed.

As I mentioned above, the writing is superb, with excellent descriptions, not only of settings and of the gory details but also of the psychological experiences of the characters, that although written in the third person feel very close. The novel fits in well in the tradition of the Southern gothic novel, with complex family relationships, oppressive atmosphere and the weight of traditions.

So, here you have a pretty scary story, with sympathetic characters you care for, a well-developed and intriguing story, and a gothic atmosphere. There are many aspects of the story that readers of other genres would also enjoy, but I hesitate to recommend it to people who don’t enjoy horror, because… well, it’s horrific and more. I’m looking forward to exploring more of the author’s novels and I strongly recommend it.

Links:

https://www.amazon.co.uk/Blood-Sixth-K-R-Rowe-ebook/dp/B01M61LG9Y/

https://www.amazon.com/Blood-Sixth-K-R-Rowe-ebook/dp/B01M61LG9Y/

Thanks so much to Rosie for coordinating the team and for helping us discover such great reads, thanks to the author for a fantastic novel, and thanks to you all for reading, and you know what to do, like, share, comment and CLICK!

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#ReviewBlitz THE DEVIL’S BEAUTY by Airicka Phoenix (@AirickaPhoenix) #TuesdayBookBlog

Title: The Devil’s Beauty
Author: Airicka Phoenix
Genre: Dark Contemporary Romance
Expected Release Date: July 19, 2016
Hosted by: Lady Amber’s PR
Blurb:
Dimitri Tasarov has never had a choice in what he was. From infancy, he had been raised with the knowledge that he was a monster, an unlovable creature without a soul, until a single act of kindness threw his entire world into a tailspin. 
Ava Emerson had always led a reluctantly sheltered existence. Friendship was a luxury that came with questions she couldn’t afford to answer. 
They were an unlikely pair. He lived behind his mask and his roses, and she lived behind her secrets, yet they shared a bond that could get them killed if anyone ever found out. 
Times were changing. The city was in turmoil. The weak were unprotected and someone needed to make a stand. But Dimitri wasn’t the only one with eyes on the north, or Ava, and they will stop at nothing to claim them both. 
Can Dimitri keep Ava safe, or will the devil fall?

I must clarify a few things before I share this review. First, due to problems with the system I did get the book much later than I expected so I read it at quite a pace and didn’t have time to savour it. I’m also aware that I read an ARC copy and there were some issues I found with the book (that I won’t mention here as I’m sure they won’t be a problem with the definite version published) that might have affected my full enjoyment of the novel. The other thing I wanted to mention is that the novel, described as an NA book, is very sexually explicit (I’d say to the level of erotica, although I’m not a big fan of the genre and don’t read many books on it, so others might not agree). There are between five and six sex scenes (one is divided in two so I’m not sure if I should count is as one or two) some quite long and as I said very explicit, and one that is ‘rough’ although even the protagonist makes the point of saying that she does not enjoy S&M. The book is fairly long so the sex scenes are not a major part of the book, but for me they distracted me from the plot (and that together with my lack of interest for this type of writing and with what I felt was the uneasy combination of such scenes with the nature of some of the themes of the book didn’t work for me). In what I think it’s a standard of the genre those scenes stretched the suspension of disbelief for me personally, but I suspect nobody is too worried about what is biologically possible when reading an erotic fantasy. Putting all of that together I’m convinced I’m not the intended audience of this book, but I hope the review might reach the right people.

I was intrigued by the book because of the suggestion that it might have a link to Beauty and the Beast (one of my favourite fairy tales), and in a way it does, although a much darker version (well, not that a monster is not dark), that involves crime families, stormy and highly conflictive family relationships, danger, violence, murder (and murder attempts), sex trafficking, drugs, kidnappings, blackmail…

The story is told in the third person from the point of view of two different characters, Ava, a young woman whose mother, Charlie, is worse than most fairy tale evil stepmothers (although we only get a few scenes with her), and whose adopted dad (but not her official stepfather for reasons we learn later), Jean Paul, loves her dearly and is very rich. We later also learn that he is a big crime boss. The city where the action takes place is divided in five sectors and Jean Paul is one of the bosses. Dimitri, the man Ava loves, who’s been keeping away from her for eight years for reasons we learn later, is the son of one of the other crime bosses, a Russian woman called Elena. (And if Ava’s mother is a cold and horrible human being, Elena fits into a category of her own. I can’t think of many women who could compete.)  He also happens to be the biological son of Jean Paul, but his father wants nothing to do with him and insist he’s a monster. Jean Paul is also determined to keep Ava and Dimitri apart, and theirs is a very extreme version of the star-crossed lovers.

Things don’t work according to Jean-Paul’s plans and once Ava and Dimitri come together again, nothing can separate them, even if Dimitri’s reasons to go back to her are suspect to begin with (he kidnaps her to blackmail Jean-Paul into agreeing to his becoming the boss of the North sector). Everybody around Dimitri and Ava seem destined to get into trouble, as if their coupling created an eye-of-the-hurricane effect, and Ava gets stolen away from Dimitri and sent on a shipment with other women who are being sold away, ending up in Puerto Rico. The subject of sex trafficking is horrific and those chapters make for harrowing reading, even if we’re quite convinced that Ava will survive, because this is her story. She doesn’t get much of a break because she’s shot at, and the subject of many more attacks (that I won’t discuss as I don’t want to give any spoilers).

The action is fairly fast, and we are kept guessing as to who is doing what and even more as to their possible reasons, as there are those who unwittingly might help the bad characters, but also very devious evil people, and the cast of people involved is long indeed. The book flows along at good pace although at some points there are things that seem to be left hanging on to be eventually revisited and solved later. This is not a realistic and gritty book (there is violence, wounds, and fights, although the level of description of the violence is not as detailed as that of the sex scenes, but I think it might be too violent for those who don’t like any such subjects) although as mentioned some of the themes are raw and dark, and the way in which these criminals can buy their way out of all their troubles and sort out any difficulties stretches credibility, as it does the seeming indestructibility of the protagonists, but that’s only to be expected from the genre.

With regards to the characters I really liked some of the secondary characters like Penny, Frank or Sayeed, which deserve full books. I liked some aspects of Ava’s character (like her attachment and loyalty to her friends), and enjoyed the couple of times when she took control of the situation, but although no human being could go through her experiences unscathed, I wondered about her sense of morals and the easy way she accepts the situation, especially considering what she has lived through. She is always being rescued by the men in her life (not a plot device I like) and I wondered if the ending (that I enjoyed) quite makes up for the rest. Dimitri, in my opinion, although a bit one-dimensional is a more consistent character, even though his style of possessiveness is not to my taste, but I know I might not be in the majority in that respect. His stunts as ‘the Devil’, when he steals from the baddies to give to good causes, make him more sympathetic, and he’s an exciting individual, the forbidden bad-boy who is not quite as bad as he appears to be, although he’s darker than the beast of the fairy tale.

I didn’t realise until I started reading it that this book is part of a series, although it is not necessary to have read the first book to enjoy it, as the stories are completely independent.

In summary this is a thrilling book, that treats serious themes, although its focus is on the romance between the two main characters whose relationship brings chaos and danger to everybody around them (and to both of them).  It has sex and violence and it’s not my ideal kind of book (but that’s not the book or the author’s fault) and I’m sure many will enjoy it.

Airicka Phoenix lives in a world where unicorns, fairies and mermaids run amok through her home on a daily basis. When she’s not chasing after pixies and rounding up imps, also known as her four children, she can be found conjuring imaginary friends to play with. Airicka is the prolific author of over eighteen novels for those who crave strong, female leads, sexy alpha heroes and out of control desires. She’s a multi genre author who writes young adult, new adult and adult contemporary and paranormal romance.

For more about Airicka and the realm she rules with an iron fist–and tons of chocolate–visit her at: www.AirickaPhoenix.com

Author Links: Website: www.AirickaPhoenix.com

Amazon: http://amzn.to/1Ui1eCF

Buy Links:
→ Amazon us: http://amzn.to/29GLB9z
→ Amazon ca: https://goo.gl/R4lLUK
→ Amazon uk: https://goo.gl/LKaqXo
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→ Barnes & Noble: http://goo.gl/kYlAoe

 

Robby broke the silence that followed. “What just happened?”
The buzz had regained through the room. Curiosity punctuated with questions and glances at Ava that she ignored.
“I need to go,” she whispered to no one in particular.
But she grabbed Robby’s hand and dragged him along with her through the maze of rooms, down the seemingly endless corridors. Her heels clacked in sync with the tempo of her pounding heart. It was his turn to run to keep up.
“Ava, what—?”
“Don’t ask questions,” she warned him. “Promise me.”
Robby frowned. “But what—?”
She skidded to a halt and faced him, her chest rising and falling rapidly against the front of her dress. “I’m about to trust you with the most important thing in my life, the biggest secret I have ever kept, and I am trusting you because you are my best friend and I need your help.”
The crease between his brows deepened. More lines appeared at the corners of his mouth. His gaze shot past her to the hallway leading to John Paul’s office, then back down to her.
“Tell me who that was first.”
His hand slipped from her grasp. She took a step back and his eyes narrowed.
“I can’t. I can’t tell you anything.”
“But you want me to trust you.” It wasn’t a question.
Ava nodded. “Yes.”
Thanks to Lady Amber’s Reviews & PR and to the author for this opportunity to read the novel, thanks to you all for reading, and you know, share, like, comment and CLICK!

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