I’m delighted to be taking part in the blog tour for ‘Steel and Shadows’ by Stuart Field, published by Crime Scene books. If you enjoy breathless, gritty thrillers that are well thought out, then this is most definitely the book for you.

Synopsis

No-nonsense NYPD detective Sam McCall is investigating one of the deadliest and most complex cases of her career when the mysterious, yet infuriatingly intriguing, John Steel insinuates himself into the department. What appears at ?rst to be the work of a serial killer soon encompasses a cast including violent Russian gangsters, creepy psychiatric doctors, the homeless community and ghosts from the past for both McCall and Steel. This fast-paced thriller combines grit and glamour, the well-drawn characters engage the reader from the outset and the Big Apple is beautifully captured in all its majestic, romantic, seedy, grimy colour. This debut novel keeps the reader gripped from start to ?nish with a breathtaking joyride through a wild series of unexpected twists and turns, inevitably falling into the pitfalls of thinking you’ve solved the mystery, only to ?nd yourself wrong-footed on the next page.

 

My review

This is a high-octane, fast-paced thriller, with a complex plot that’s both clever and cleverly delivered. This author is very good at not giving too much away. He enjoys keeping us on tenterhooks all the way through the book. You can’t help trying to guess what’s going to happen next, or attempting to piece the clues together, but the author’s always one step ahead, laying a misleading trail of breadcrumbs! This makes the book all the more exciting: all you know for sure is that you don’t know what’s going to happen next       

It’s very much action driven although there are slower moments where we see characters and relationships develop. There is a lot of violence, but it’s not glorified and yet neither is it diminished.  It’s shown to be cruel and largely fruitless, although revenge can validate it to an extent. The book is merely brining an element of life we prefer to ignore to the forefront: there are evil bastards are out there doing despicable things. But it’s not intended to be depressing. Fighting in the good corner are the likes of the mysterious, elusive John Steel and the in-your-face Sam McCall.

These are both excellent characters. There’s a hint of 007 about Steel, given his well-to-do background, his calmness, his desire to get a job done efficiently, but he’s facing rather more down-to-earth adversaries. They don’t want to take over the world, merely make more money. McCall is altogether more instinctive and impetuous than Steel, but that only makes her an even better cop although a more vulnerable human being.

The book gains in pace and excitement as it proceeds, and I sensed the author grew in confidence too. He really gets into his stride in this first novel of a series, and I’m  looking forward to seeing how both he and his characters will blossom in future ones. More books in the series are due out in 2019, which is really good news!

I must comment on the excellent cover too – it’s really eyecatching and classy, hints at the story and I think reflects how committed Stuart Field is to delivering top quality work to his audience.  

About the author

Stuart Field was born in the UK, in the West Midlands. He spent his early years in the army, seeing service in all the known (and some unknown) hotspots around the world. He now lives in Germany with his wife Ani. When not engaged in highly con?dential security work, he writes thrillers which perhaps mimic his life-experience more than the reader would like to believe.

 

I’m thrilled, in every sense, to be taking part in the blog tour for ‘Trap’ by Icelandic author Lilja Sigurdardóttir (translated by Quentin Bates).

Synopsis

 

Happily settled in Florida, Sonja believes she’s finally escaped the trap set by unscrupulous drug lords. But when her son Tomas is taken, she’s back to square one … and Iceland. Her lover, Agla, is awaiting sentencing for financial misconduct after the banking crash, and Sonja refuses to see her. And that’s not all … Agla owes money to some extremely powerful men, and they’ll stop at nothing to get it back. With her former nemesis, customs officer Bragi on her side, Sonja puts her own plan into motion, to bring down the drug barons and her scheming ex-husband, and get Tomas back safely. But things aren’t as straightforward as they seem, and Sonja finds herself caught in the centre of a trap that will put all of their lives at risk… Set in a Reykjavík still covered in the dust of the Eyjafjallajökull volcanic eruption, and with a dark, fast-paced and chilling plot and intriguing characters, Trap is an outstandingly original and sexy Nordic crime thriller, from one of the most exciting new names in crime fiction. 

The book is published by Orenda Books.

 

My review

I’d heard of Nordic Noir, of course, and watched several such series on TV, but this is the first time I’ve read such a book in this genre. And what a fabulous introduction it’s been!

I was enthralled from the first page – by the characters, the clever plot and the sheer readability. The book is the second in a series, but I hadn’t realised that when I began reading and I don’t feel I missed anything. However, I shall definitely be reading ‘Snare’ to find out how the characters get into their present predicaments.

All the characters – the good, the bad and the in-between – rise off the page. They’re rounded and convincing, and we get to see what makes each of them tick. Young Tomas is particularly well portrayed I think: we really see things from his perspective whenever he’s involved. That gives a fresh insight into our other characters when we share Tomas’s view of them. Thanks to his childish innocence we get to see these people, his parents chief amongst them, as they might have been had life’s complications not got in the way.

The book’s title couldn’t be more apt. Many of the characters are in traps, some of their own making. Sonja is trying to trap her ex-husband Adam, but he has her trapped into doing what he wants because of her love for her son and the fact she can’t be without her little boy. Agla’s love for Sonja has her trapped too, as does her financial greed. The wife of Bragi, the customs officer, is trapped in her own confusing world of Alzheimer’s. And others are trapped by their indulgent lifestyles and addictions. There are representations of traps of all kinds in this book.

A lot of the characters are flawed. I’ve already mentioned there are some ‘in-between’ ones. They’re essentially good people but are trapped – that word again! – into doing bad things for various reasons, ones which see right to them. The whole issue of right and wrong comes under scrutiny in the novel. We know they should be diametrically opposed but in life, and literature, things are never quite so clear-cut. One merges into the other.

The action is constant, and tension builds as it progresses. Florida, Iceland and Amsterdam are amongst the settings that this story of drug trafficking and corporate and personal greed. It’s a riveting read, it really is. I particularly enjoyed discovering a little about Iceland, somewhere I’ve always wanted to visit, and its culture through the names and places and incidental facts.

Absolutely a book to go on your TBR list.

 

About the author

Icelandic crime-writer Lilja Sigurdardóttir was born in the town of Akranes in 1972 and raised in Mexico, Sweden, Spain and Iceland. An award-winning playwright, Lilja has written four crime novels, with Snare, the first in a new series, hitting bestseller lists worldwide. The film rights have been bought by Palomar Pictures in California. She lives in Reykjavík with her partner. 

 

 

Follow the rest of the tour for more reviews, guest posts and extracts:

 

 

Tenacious, conscientious DI Erika Foster is back in this sixth book in a series that started off brilliantly and just keeps getting better.

The action starts on Christmas Eve when a burlesque dance, Marissa Lewis, is viciously attacked and murdered on her doorstep. This keeps Erika preoccupied on Christmas Day when she’d otherwise be going for lunch with her superior officer. Her victim turns out to be a complicated young lady, with as many enemies as admirers. As with many of DI Foster’s cases, the implications spread out further and further and bring many people under suspicion. A further attack and suicide attempts, successful and otherwise, just keep the surprises and ingenious twists and turns coming in this very cleverly constructed police procedural mystery. Once you start reading, you can’t stop. You simply have to know what’s going to happen next.

The past never lets go of Erika and in this story her relationship with her father-in-law is brought to the forefront. Also, colleague James Peterson, with whom Erika was previously in a relationship, returns to add some complications.

As ever, we’re presented with a gripping, exciting story and some totally fascinating characters. Those we already know, such as Erika and her team, continue to develop subtly which makes them ever more interesting. The new people we meet in the story are all strong and diverse. Robert Bryndza excels in portraying totally convincing characters from all walks of life.

This is another top-class novel from Robert Bryndza, but then we’d expect no less from this consistently outstanding author.