Thursday, 20 July 2017

The Unquiet Dead by Ausma Zehanat Khan @AusmaZehanat @noexitpress #BlogTour

One man is dead.
But thousands were his victims.
Can a single murder avenge that of many?
Scarborough Bluffs, Toronto: the body of Christopher Drayton is found at the foot of the cliffs. Muslim Detective Esa Khattak, head of the Community Policing Unit, and his partner Rachel Getty are called in to investigate. As the secrets of Drayton s role in the 1995 Srebrenica genocide of Bosnian Muslims surface, the harrowing significance of his death makes it difficult to remain objective. In a community haunted by the atrocities of war, anyone could be a suspect. And when the victim is a man with so many deaths to his name, could it be that justice has at long last been served?
In this important debut novel, Ausma Zehanat Khan has written a compelling and provocative mystery exploring the complexities of identity, loss, and redemption.

The Unquiet Dead by Ausma Zehanat Khan is published by No Exit Press in paperback on 27 July 2017 and is the author's debut novel.
The Unquiet Dead is  the Winner of the Barry Award, Arthur Ellis Award, and Romantic Times Reviewers Choice Award for Best First NovelI am delighted to kick off the Blog Tour for this extraordinary book.

The Unquiet Dead is set in Canada, but deals with the horror and tragedy of the war in Bosnia in the 1990s. Inspector Esa Khattack, along with partner Rachel Getty work within the Community Policing Section in the Canadian police and are tasked with dealing with racial crimes.

Christopher Drayton has been murdered and Khattack and Getty are on the case. On the surface, Drayton appeared to be an average business man; elderly with a younger fiancee. However, it soon becomes clear that Drayton's past may hold the answers to his death when it is discovered that he is, in fact, a Bosnian war criminal.

As the characters begin to dig into the past, the author very cleverly and effectively informs the reader of the atrocities of the war in Bosnia. This is emotionally draining for the reader at times, especially with the knowledge that the author has used genuine transcripts from interviews given by survivors of this terrible era. As a reader, I began to question myself; why did I not know more details about this war? How can something that happened not so long ago have been allowed to continue? Where was the intervention from the powerful countries of the world?

Part police procedural, part crime thriller, part mystery; The Unquiet Dead is also a complex and haunting look at our recent social history. I was intrigued to find a Muslim lead character who is so far away from the current stereotypical beliefs, and the insight into both Esa's and Rachel's own lives added an interesting depth to this story.

The Unquiet Dead is a well plotted and elegantly written story. It is a remarkable debut that raises questions, but also has all the requirements for crime thriller readers.

My thanks to the publisher for sending my copy for review.

Ausma Zehanat Khan is the author of The Unquiet Dead, and winner of the Barry Award, the Arthur Ellis Award and the Romantic Times Reviewers Choice Award for Best First Novel. Her widely acclaimed second novel, The Language of Secrets, was published in 2016. Among the Ruins, her third mystery will be published in February 2017. She is also at work on a fantasy series, to be published by Harper Voyager, beginning in 2017. The Bloodprint is Book One of the Khorasan Archives.

A frequent lecturer and commentator, Ms. Khan holds a Ph.D. in International Human Rights Law with a research specialization in military intervention and war crimes in the Balkans. Ms. Khan completed her LL.B. and LL.M. at the University of Ottawa, and her B.A. in English Literature & Sociology at the University of Toronto.

Formerly, she served as Editor in Chief of Muslim Girl magazine. The first magazine to address a target audience of young Muslim women, Muslim Girl re-shaped the conversation about Muslim women in North America. The magazine was the subject of two documentaries, and hundreds of national and international profiles and interviews, including CNN International, Current TV, and Al Jazeera "Everywoman". 

Ms. Khan practiced immigration law in Toronto and has taught international human rights law at Northwestern University, as well as human rights and business law at York University. She is a long-time community activist and writer, and currently lives in Colorado with her husband.

Author photo taken by Athif Khan.

For more information visit :
Follow her on Twitter  @AusmaZehanat

Tuesday, 18 July 2017

They All Fall Down by Tammy Cohen @MsTamarCohen @TransworldBooks

She knows there’s a killer on the loose.
But no-one believes her.
Will she be next?

Hannah had a normal life – a loving husband, a good job. Until she did something shocking. Now she’s in a psychiatric clinic. It should be a safe place. But patients keep dying.

The doctors say it’s suicide. Hannah knows they’re lying. Can she make anyone believe her before the killer strikes again?

They All Fall Down by Tammy Cohen was published in paperback by Black Swan / Transworld on 13 July 2017.

It is no secret that I am a huge huge fan of Tammy Cohen. I've been reading her books for years, ever since she published The Mistress's Revenge under the name of Tamar Cohen. She's also written under the name Rachel Rhys for the historical fiction story A Dangerous Crossing.

Tammy Cohen never fails me, her writing is as tight as a drum; her writing is fresh and exhilarating and her plots are always solid. She has a very special knack of leading her readers up quite a few paths before blocking their way with an in-your-face, shocking twist, she never fails to amaze me.

They All Fall Down is set in a private psychiatric clinic and is Hannah's story. Hannah was a successful woman with a great job in publishing, married and flourishing. All she wanted was a baby and the reader is immediately aware that there's a baby at the centre of this mystery, but this author very cleverly avoids the reveal, instead she slowly and shrewdly drip feeds little snippets until she feels that the time is right to expose the facts.

Two of Hannah's co-patients have died. Reported as tragic suicides, Hannah is convinced that neither of them would have taken their own lives. She is determined to prove this, yet she's a patient in a psychiatric hospital, her senses are dimmed by anti-psychotic drugs, she has a history of erratic behaviour - why would anyone believe her?

One of the main strengths of They All Fall Down is the realistic setting. This author has clearly researched how a clinic such as this is run, with the stringent security measures, the attitudes of staff and the therapies offered. As a reader, I appreciate this, it shows a respect to the reader that I have found to be lacking in recent novels that are set in similar institutions. For me, this aspect added so much to the story.

I devoured They All Fall Down, it kept me guessing right up until the end. The writing is intelligent and Tammy Cohen's use of description for her settings and her characters is quite masterful.

I was both absorbed and at times disturbed, but always always completely consumed. This is another amazing story from one of my favourite authors.

My thanks to the publisher who sent my copy for review.

About Tammy Cohen, in her own words (from
I was born in Ibadan, Nigeria where my anthropologist father happened to be doing fieldwork at the time. Sabbatical years in far-flung places were a feature of my childhood and I attended school in both Sierra Leone and California. Otherwise, I mostly grew up in the suburbs of London where my adolescence was spent either in the local library or waiting for the last tube home.
After taking an American Studies degree at Manchester University I taught English in Madrid. While working as a secretary back in London, I started writing features and hand-delivering them to the magazine publishing house around the corner. The day the first one got accepted, I packed in my job and declared myself a freelance journalist, which is basically what I remained for the next twenty years, writing features for national magazines and newspapers, such as Marie Claire, The Times and The Telegraph, and then moving on to non fiction books. My dream was always to write fiction but it wasn’t until I was forty-seven that I finally conquered the self doubt and my first novel, The Mistress’s Revenge was published.
These days I live in North London with my partner and three (nearly) grown children and one very badly behaved dog. Together with my family I spent four happy years living in Spain from 2004 to 2008 and I live in fear of people finding this out and asking me something in Spanish at which I remain shamefully inept.
My first novel, The Mistress’s Revenge, was followed by three more contemporary fiction titles under the name Tamar Cohen – The War of the WivesSomeone Else’s Wedding and The Broken.
In November 2014, my first crime novel, Dying For Christmas was published under the name Tammy Cohen, followed by First One Missing a year later, and When She Was Bad in April 2016. My latest, They All Fall Down is published in July 2017.
Writing as Rachel RhysDangerous Crossing, my first foray into historical mystery was published in March 2017.
I am a member of the Killer Women collective of London-based female UK crime writers.

For more information visit
Follow on Twitter @MsTamarCohen

Monday, 17 July 2017

The Vanishing of Audrey Wilde by Eve Chase #BlogTour @evepchase @MichaelJBooks @GabyYoung

From the present day . . .

Applecote Manor captivates Jessie with it promise of hazy summers in the Cotswolds. She believes it's the perfect escape for her troubled family. But the house has an unsettling history, and strange rumours surround the estate.
to the fifties . . .
When teenage Margot and her three sisters arrive at Applecote during the heatwave of '59, they find their aunt and uncle still reeling from the disappearance of their daughter, Audrey, five years before.
The sisters are drawn into the mystery of Audrey's vanishing - until the stifling summer takes a shocking, deadly turn. Will one unthinkable choice bind them together, or tear them apart?
Step back in time for a richly evocative mystery, where the beauty of a Cotswolds summer is vividly contrasted with the violence which shatters it.

The Vanishing of Audrey Wilde by Eve Chase was published by Michael Joseph in hardback on 13 July 2017.

I'm really happy to host the Blog Tour for The Vanishing of Audrey Wilde. You can read my thoughts about the book, and I'm also pleased to welcome Eve Chase to Random Things, she's talking about the books that are special to her in My Life in Books.

The Vanishing of Audrey Wilde is a dual-time story that features Applecoat Manor; a house in the Cotswolds that holds many secrets within its walls. I always enjoy novels that span different eras and this one is particularly well written. It's a rich and vivid story, populated by expertly crafted characters in the modern day and back in the 1950s.

The very short prologue draws the reader instantly, set in 1959 and featuring four young sisters with blood on their hands. The scene is set and the tension is immediate.

Eve Chase cleverly leaves her readers hanging on as she then takes up the modern-day story, fifty years later. Jessie and Will, with Will's teenage daughter Bella from his first marriage and their own toddler Romy are viewing Applecote Manor with a view to leaving London, and taking Bella away from increasing temptation. Relations between Jessie and Bella are strained and things don't get easier after the move as the two women are forced to spend so much time on their own as Will continues to work in London.

The story goes back and forth and I must admit that it was the story of the four sisters in the 1950s who go to stay with their Aunt and Uncle at Applecote Manor that held me captive. Their cousin mysteriously disappeared some time ago and they soon become entrenched in what happened to her.

The two timelines are cleverly interwoven as Jessie also becomes more and more interested in the rumours that surround her new home.

Eve Chase has written an evocative and haunting story that I raced through. Secrets, family loyalties and mystery, this is an atmospheric and intriguing story that I'd highly recommend.

My thanks to the publisher who sent my copy for review and invited me to take part in the blog tour.

My Life in Books ~ Eve Chase

I wasn’t an early reader but once I started I didn’t stop, moving rapidly from book to book like a hungry bee between flowers, loyalty continually switching. 
I vividly remember sitting on the itchy carpet beneath the table in my local bookshop, reading Anne of Green Gables and eating a slab of chocolate. They never once asked me to leave, or buy anything. I loved them for that. 

I then moved on to the local library and started working my way through their shelves. Here I discovered The Diary of Anne Frank, still one of my favourite all time books: her voice, so alive on the page, inspired me to think that perhaps I too could write one day, that a young girl’s voice mattered. 
I also adored prolific authors because it meant there was always more to read: Enid Blyton and Agatha Christie, who I read and reread, even if I already knew the murderer. (I liked going back and spotting the clues.) 

At home with my three brothers, Tintin was a constant companion. We all roared with laughter at Haddock, and Herge is still my favourite childhood author. Total genius. Tintin in Tibet is my favourite – utterly flawless. It has everything – peril, an amazing setting, friendship, heroism, a bittersweet ending. 

With the confusion of adolescence came Judy Blume – who else to turn to? – Shirley Conran’s Lace – ‘Which one of you bitches is my mother?’ the line remains unbeaten – and Virginia Andrews’ Flowers in the Attic, the twisted incest gothic that me and my girlfriends passed furtively from one to another like a religious tome, its pages folded and refolded at key shocking scenes. 

I stumbled across The Works of Oscar Wilde – a bloody massive book, I’ve still got it - and read it from cover to cover, enchanted. 
I caught my love of Jane Austen, in particular Pride and Prejudice, off a devoted English teacher.
Thomas Hardy’s Tess bewitched me, fused in my mind with Polanski’s amazing film. 
Similarly A Room with A View with Helena Bonham Carter. 

In my twenties, after studying English Lit at university and wrestling with the dusty canon, my tastes became more American - their novels felt lemon-sharp and dynamic. 

In recent years, I’d say some of my all-time favourite books – I have many more that I love, far too many to mention here - include Jeanette Winterson’s Oranges are Not The Only Fruit, Kate Atkinson’s A God in Ruins, Jonathan Franzen’s The Corrections, Donna Tartt’s The Secret History and Hilary Mantel’s Bring Up The Bodies. All of them have changed me as a writer and a reader, and completely transported me to a different place between their pages. 

Since reading only stops when you’re dead, this is a list in progress - I’m not done yet! And I like to think that if the afterlife exists, it’s going to have a damn good library.

Copyright Eve Chase 2017 

Eve Chase always wanted to write about families - ones that go wrong but somehow survive - and big old houses, where family secrets and untold stories seed in the crumbling stone walls.
Black Rabbit Hall and The Vanishing of Audrey Wilde are just such stories.
Eve is married with three children and lives in Oxfordshire

Follow her on Twitter @evepchase

Saturday, 15 July 2017

The Portrait by Antoine Laurain @BelgraviaB @ed_pr

A collector unearths the find of a lifetime: an eighteenth-century portrait of a man uncannily like him. 

While wandering through a Paris auction house, avid collector Pierre-Francois Chaumont is stunned to discover the eighteenth-century portrait of an unknown man who looks just like him. 
Much to his delight, Chaumont's bid for the work is successful, but back at home his jaded wife and circle of friends are unable to see the resemblance. Chaumont remains convinced of it, and as he researches into the painting's history, he is presented with the opportunity to abandon his tedious existence and walk into a brand new life...

The Portrait by Antoine Laurain was published in paperback by Gallic Books on 27 June 2017.

This is another original, quirky story from the author of The Red Notebook which I read and reviewed here on Random Things back in 2015.

Antoine Laurain writes with elegance and wit, and The Portait is not just the story of a discovered painting, but is also an ode to France. The lead character; Pierre-Francoise Chaumont is extraordinarily crafted; he's a strange, self-obsessed man who is astounded when he comes across a painting in an auction house of a man who looks just like him. Paying far more than he intended to, he takes it home to his wife and proudly shows it to her, and their friends. He is shocked to hear that they can see no resemblance at all.

Pierre is not put off by their reaction, not in the least and starts a mission to track down more information about the subject of the portrait. However, his wife and his friends may have other reasons to scorn him ...

The author has created a character whose impulsive and unpredictable behaviour is both shocking and humorous at the same time. I wasn't fond of Pierre as a person, but as a wonderfully crafted character, he is pure genius!

A short novel that can be read quickly in just a couple of sittings, and is most enjoyable. I believe this is the author's first novel and whilst I did not enjoy it as much as The Red Notebook, it is very well structured, with some outstanding characterisation.

My thanks to the publisher who sent my copy for review.

Antoine Laurain was born in Paris and is a journalist, antiques collector and the author of five novels. The President’s Hat, a charming fable set in the Mitterrand years, was awarded the Prix Landerneau Découvertes and the Prix Relay in 2012 and is published in English by Gallic. It was a Waterstones Book Club book and ABA Indies Introduce pick in 2013. Antoine was chosen to represent France at European Literature Night 2014.

He is also the author of The Red Notebook (2015) and French Rhapsody (Oct 2016).

Sign up for Antoine Laurain's newsletter and keep up to date with his upcoming novels, book signings and events near you.

Wednesday, 12 July 2017

The Sewing Machine by Natalie Fergie @theyarnyard @unbounders

It is 1911, and Jean is about to join the mass strike at the Singer factory. For her, nothing will be the same again.

Decades later, in Edinburgh, Connie sews coded moments of her life into a notebook, as her mother did before her.

More than 100 years after his grandmother’s sewing machine was made, Fred discovers a treasure trove of documents. His family history is laid out before him in a patchwork of unfamiliar handwriting and colourful seams. 

He starts to unpick the secrets of four generations, one stitch at a time.

The Sewing Machine by Natalie Fergie was published on 17 April 2017 through Unbound, and is the author's debut novel.

I spent a couple of very happy days during my holiday in Corfu reading this captivating and intriguing story; the cover is beautifully designed and perfectly fits the story. Despite the fact that I cannot sew, even though my late Nana presented me with an all-singing, all-dancing electric sewing machine on my twenty-first birthday (to my horror!), it was the combination of history and modern-day, all linked to one sewing machine that really drew me in.

The story begins as Jean and her colleagues prepare to go on strike, it's 1911 at the Singer factory in Scotland. Workers have few rights, especially women and the mass walk-out of thousands of people in support of better working conditions was a ground-breaking event. For Jean, this is a life-changing event as she battles against her father's long-held, old-fashioned beliefs and begins to make her way in life, outside of the factory gates.

Natalie Fergie then brings her reader right up to date, as Fred discovers hidden documents that reveal the story of the sewing machine of the title.  This author cleverly takes her readers through the decades between Jean and Fred's stories, detailing social history, life-changing events and outlining how, despite the changes, people themselves rarely change.

The Sewing Machine is an impeccably researched story full of warm and charismatic characters who worm their way into the reader's heart.

My thanks to the author who sent my copy for review.

***  The BBC have made a short film about the strike at the Singer Factory and the author's narrative has been used in it. You can view it here on the BBC Scotland News Facebook page ***

Natalie Fergie is a textile enthusiast, and has spent the last ten years running a one-woman dyeing business, sending parcels of unique yarn and thread all over the world. Before this she had a career in nursing. She lives near Edinburgh.
The Singer 99K, which was the inspiration for this novel, has had at least four previous owners. It was bought for GBP20 from someone who lived in Clydebank, just a stone’s throw from the site of the factory where it was made a hundred years earlier. It’s quite possible that there are another eight sewing machines in her house. She blogs at and can be found on Twitter as @theyarnyard.

Image credited to photographer Alison Gibson.

Tuesday, 11 July 2017

Island of Secrets by Patricia Wilson @pmwilson_author @BonnierZaffre

'The story started at dawn on the fourteenth of September, 1943 . . .'

All her life, London-born Angelika has been intrigued by her mother's secret past. Now planning her wedding, she feels she must visit the remote Crete village her mother grew up in.

Angie's estranged elderly grandmother, Maria, is dying. She welcomes Angie with open arms - it's time to unburden herself, and tell the story she'll otherwise take to her grave.

It's the story of the Nazi occupation of Crete during the Second World War, of horror, of courage and of the lengths to which a mother will go to protect her children. And it's the story of bitter secrets that broke a family apart, and of three enchanting women who come together to heal wounds that have damaged two generations.

Island of Secrets by Patricia Wilson was published in paperback by Bonnier Zaffre on 18 May 2017, and is the author's debut novel.

I don't think it's much of a secret that I am a massive Greekophile - I love all things Greek and when my copy of Island of Secrets dropped through my letterbox I knew that this would be the perfect book to take away on holiday with me.  I read it during my two weeks in Corfu last month, OK it's not Crete, but it is Greece!

This is a dual-time story, set in the modern-day and during World War 2, and this is another reason why this book appealed to me so much; I love this type of story.

Angie Kondulakis has spent her life in London, raised by single-mother Poppy. Her Greek heritage is apparent, yet she has never met her family back in Crete, and Poppy never speaks about them, or why she left the island. Angie is about to be married and dearly wants her Greek relations to share her day. Poppy cannot even bring herself to consider such a thing, and Angie, quite irrationally, decides the only way forward is to fly to Crete herself, and confront her family.

Once there, she discovers that her name is well-known, and when she finally meets her grandmother Maria, she feels as though she is home.

For me, it was Maria's story and Maria's voice that shone throughout this book. Whilst I understand that the author wanted her readers to know about Maria and Poppy, and their life in London, there were times when I just wanted to know about Maria and her story of the Nazi invasion of Crete during the war.

What a story this is! Based on true stories, collected by the author, and told to her by elderly women from small Cretan villages, the horrors and devastation struck by the German army is almost impossible to comprehend. This is a savage, violent and tragic story, told with passion and empathy. The author does not gloss over the terrible events that happened, or the long-term effects on the people of Crete.

As the title implies, this is a story that is interwoven with secrets. Some of these are hurtful and horrifying, some of them have been twisted, and some of them are untrue. As Maria learns more about her family, and her mother, she also becomes a victim of long-time feuds and long-held memories.

Despite being a fan of dual-time narratives, I personally could have done without Angie's story. I felt that Maria's memories were far more compelling and the writing seemed to flow far better during those parts. However, I really did enjoy Island of Secrets and have gone on to recommend it to my friends and I will certainly look forward to reading more from this author.

My thanks to the publisher who sent my copy for review.

After running her own business for twenty years, Patricia took early retirement and moved to the Greek island of Crete.

When she dug up a rusted machine gun in her garden, and the inhabitants of her remote mountain village came with local stories of tragedy and triumph, she knew she had to tell their account of what really happened in September 1943, which became ISLAND OF SECRETS.

Patricia now lives on the island of Rhodes where she is researching and writing her second novel.

Author website:
Twitter: pmwilson_author

Monday, 10 July 2017

Tin Man by Sarah Winman @TinderPress @KatieVEBrown #TinManBook

It begins with a painting won in a raffle: fifteen sunflowers, hung on the wall by a woman who believes that men and boys are capable of beautiful things.
And then there are two boys, Ellis and Michael,
who are inseparable.
And the boys become men,
and then Annie walks into their lives,
and it changes nothing and everything.
Tin Man sees Sarah Winman follow the acclaimed success of When God Was A Rabbit and A Year Of Marvellous Ways with a love letter to human kindness and friendship, loss and living.

Tin Man by Sarah Winman is published by Tinder Press in hardback on 27 July 2017.

"What's a complement? Ellis asked. Complementing colours are ones that make the others stand out. Like blue and orange, said his mother.  Like me and Ellis, said Michael. 
Yes, she smiled. Like you two." 

Tin Man is about complements. Sarah Winman's characters complement each other completely and wholly. Not just Ellis and Michael from the quote above, but also Annie (my favourite character), and Mabel and even Mrs Khan. This is a novel of less than two hundred pages, yet the words evoke every emotion possible; from overwhelming sadness, to joy, to the ultimate feeling of complete satisfaction as the final page is turned.

My beautifully bound, hardback, proof copy, covered in bright yellow cloth complements the words inside. The yellow of the cover seeps into the story, into the painting of sunflowers that Ellis's mother wins in a raffle in 1950 and which takes centre place, not just in her living room, but in her life and throughout the novel. 

At it's heart, Tin Man is an exquisite story of ever lasting love, and how special people can complement an affair, how they can strengthen it, but also how they can dilute it. Sarah Winman's characters are solid, clearly identified and incredibly human. Whilst she does not hide their flaws, she also exposes their hearts, and even those who appear to be the cruelest have hidden corners that are slowly exposed to show their inner yellow, brightening them and surprising the reader.

Tin Man is both heartbreaking and heartwarming, and as Ellis reveals his tragedy and then Michael relates his story, the sheer brilliance of this author's writing hits the reader. The skill and care taken in the creation of both the characters, and their story is outstanding, perceptive and quite frankly, stunning.

I have no doubt that Tin Man will be up there in my top reads of the year. 

My thanks to the publisher who sent my beautiful proof copy for review.

Sarah Winman grew up in Essex and now lives in London. She attended the Webber Douglas Academy of Dramatic Art and went on to act in theatre, film and television. 

She has written three novels, WHEN GOD WAS A RABBIT, A YEAR OF MARVELLOUS WAYS and TIN MAN.

Find her Author page on Facebook