Give Me The Child by Mel McGrath  #blogtour #giveaway ~Read chapter one here~

GiveMetheChild_Blogtour[2]

 

Synopsis

An unexpected visitor.

Dr Cat Lupo aches for another child, despite the psychosis which marked her first pregnancy. So when Ruby Winter, a small girl in need of help, arrives in the middle of the night, it seems like fate.

A devastating secret.

But as the events behind Ruby’s arrival emerge – her mother’s death, her connection to Cat – Cat questions whether her decision to help Ruby has put her own daughter at risk.

Do we get the children we deserve?

Cat’s research tells her there’s no such thing as evil. Her history tells her she’s paranoid. But her instincts tell her different. And as the police fight to control a sudden spate of riots raging across the capital, Cat faces a race against time of her own…

Compulsive, dark and devastating, Give Me the Child is a uniquely skillful thriller with an unforgettable twist.

Typewriter-Chapter-One

Give me the child extract

CHAPTER ONE

My first thought when the doorbell woke me was that someone had died. Most likely Michael Walsh. I turned onto my side, pulled at the outer corners of my eyes to rid them of the residue of sleep and blinked myself awake. It was impossible to tell if it was late or early, though the bedroom was as hot and muggy as it had been when Tom and I had gone to bed. Tom was no longer beside me. Now I was alone. We’d started drinking not long after Freya had gone upstairs. The remains of a bottle of Pinot Grigio for me, a glass or two of red for Tom. (He always said white wine was for women.) Just before nine I called The Mandarin Hut. When the crispy duck arrived I laid out two trays in the living room, opened another bottle and called Tom in from the study. I hadn’t pulled the curtains and through the pink light of the London night sky a cat’s claw of moon appeared. The two of us ate, mostly in silence, in front of the TV. A ballroom dance show came on. Maybe it was just the booze but something about the tight-muscled men and the frou-frou’d women made me feel a little sad. The cosmic dance. The grand romantic gesture. At some point even the tight-muscled men and the frou-frou’d women would find themselves slumped together on a sofa with the remains of a takeaway and wine enough to sink their sorrows, wondering how they’d got there, wouldn’t they?

 

Not that Tom and I really had anything to complain about except, maybe, a little malaise, a kind of falling away. After all, weren’t we still able to laugh about stuff most of the time or, if we couldn’t laugh, at least have sex and change the mood?

‘Let’s go upstairs and I’ll show you my cha-cha,’ I said, rising and holding out a hand.

Tom chuckled and pretended I was joking, then, wiping his palms along his thighs as if he were ridding them of something unpleasant, he said, ‘It’s just if I don’t crack this bloody coding thing…’

I looked out at the moon for a moment. OK, so I knew how much making a success of Labyrinth meant to Tom, and I’d got used to him shutting himself away in the two or three hours either side of midnight. But this one time, with the men and women still twirling in our minds? Just this one time?

Stupidly, I said, ‘Won’t it wait till tomorrow?’ and in an instant I saw Tom stiffen. He paused for a beat and, slapping his hands on his thighs in a gesture of busyness, he slugged down the last of his wine, rose from the sofa and went to the door. And so we left it there with the question still hanging.

I spent the rest of the evening flipping through the case notes of patients I was due to see that week. When I turned in for the night, the light was still burning in Tom’s study. I murmured ‘goodnight’ and went upstairs to check on Freya. Our daughter was suspended somewhere between dreaming and deep sleep. All children look miraculous when they’re asleep, even the frighten- ing, otherworldly ones I encounter every day. Their bodies soften, their small fists unfurl and dreams play behind their eyelids. But Freya looked miraculous all the time to me. Because she was. A miracle made at the boundary where human desire meets science. I stood and watched her for a while, then, retrieving her beloved Pippi Longstocking book from the floor and straightening her duvet, I crept from the room and went to bed.

Sometime later I felt Tom’s chest pressing against me and his breath on the nape of my neck. He was already aroused and for a minute I wondered what else he’d been doing on screen besides coding, then shrugged off the thought. A drowsy, half-hearted bout of lovemaking followed before we drifted into our respective oblivions. Next thing I knew the doorbell was ringing and I was alone.

Under the bathroom door a beam of light blazed. I threw off the sheet and swung from the bed.

‘Tom?’

No response. My mind was scrambled with sleep and an anxious pulse was rising to the surface. I called out again.

There was a crumpling sound followed by some noisy vomiting but it was identifiably my husband. The knot in my throat loosened. I went over to the bathroom door, knocked and let myself in. Tom was hunched over the toilet and there was a violent smell in the room.

‘Someone’s at the door.’ Tom’s head swung round.

I said, ‘You think it might be about Michael?’

Tom’s father, Michael Walsh, was a coronary waiting to happen, a lifelong bon vivant in the post-sixty-five-year-old death zone, who’d taken the recent demise of his appalling wife pretty badly.

Tom stood up, wiped his hand across his mouth and moved over to the sink. ‘Nah, probably just some pisshead.’ He turned on the tap and sucked at the water in his hand and, in an oddly casual tone, he added, ‘Ignore it.’

As I retreated into the bedroom, the bell rang again. Whoever it was, they weren’t about to go away. I went over to the window and eased open the curtain. The street was still and empty of people, and the first blank glimmer was in the sky. Directly below the house a patrol car was double parked, hazard lights still on but otherwise dark. For a second my mind filled with the terrible possibility that something had happened to Sally. Then I checked myself. More likely someone had reported a burglary or a prowler in the neighbourhood. Worst case it was Michael.

‘It’s the police,’ I said.

Tom appeared and, lifting the sash, craned out of the window. ‘I’ll go, you stay here.’

I watched him throw on his robe over his boxers and noticed his hands were trembling. Was that from having been sick or was he, too, thinking about Michael now? I listened to his footsteps disappearing down the stairs and took my summer cover-up from its hook. A moment later, the front door swung open and there came the low murmur of three voices, Tom’s and those of two women. I froze on the threshold of the landing and held my breath, waiting for Tom to call me down, and when, after a few minutes, he still hadn’t, I felt myself relax a little. My parents were dead. If this was about Sally, Tom would have fetched me by now. It was bound to be Michael. Poor Michael.

I went out onto the landing and tiptoed over to Freya’s room. Tom often said I was overprotective, and maybe I was, but I’d seen enough mayhem and weirdness at work to give me pause. I pushed open the door and peered in. A breeze stirred from the open window. The hamster Freya had brought back from school for the holidays was making the rounds on his wheel but in the aura cast by the Frozen-themed nightlight I could see my tender little girl’s face closed in sleep. Freya had been too young to remember my parents and Michael had always been sweet to her in a way that his wife, who called her ‘my little brown granddaughter’, never was, but it was better this happened now, in the summer holidays, so she’d have time to recover before the pressures of school started up again. We’d tell her in the morning once we’d had time to formulate the right words.

At the top of the landing I paused, leaning over the bannister. A woman in police uniform stood in the glare of the security light. Thirties, with fierce glasses and a military bearing. Beside her was another woman in jeans and a shapeless sweater, her features hidden from me. The policewoman’s face was brisk but unsmiling; the other woman was dishevelled, as though she had been called from her bed. Between them I glimpsed the auburn top of what I presumed was a child’s head – a girl, judging from the amount of hair. I held back, unsure what to do, hoping they’d realise they were at the wrong door and go away. I could see the police officer’s mouth moving without being able to hear what was being said. The conversation went on and after a few moments Tom stood to one side and the two women and the child stepped out of the shadows of the porch and into the light of the hallway.

The girl was about the same age as Freya, taller but small-boned, legs as spindly as a deer’s and with skin so white it gave her the look of some deep sea creature. She was wearing a grey trackie too big for her frame which bagged at the knees from wear and made her seem malnourished and unkempt. From the way she held herself, stiffly and at a distance from the dishevelled woman, it was obvious they didn’t know one another. A few ideas flipped through my mind. Had something happened in the street, a house fire perhaps, or a medical emergency, and a neighbour needed us to look after her for a few hours? Or was she a school friend of Freya’s who had run away and for some reason given our address to the police? Either way, the situation obviously didn’t have anything much to do with us. My heart went out to the kid but I can’t say I wasn’t relieved. Michael was safe, Sally was safe.

I moved down the stairs and into the hallway. The adults remained engrossed in their conversation but the girl looked up and stared. I tried to place the sharp features and the searching, amber eyes from among our neighbours or the children at Freya’s school but nothing came. She showed no sign of recognising me. I could see she was tired – though not so much from too little sleep as from a lifetime of watchfulness. It was an expression familiar to me from the kids I worked with at the clinic. I’d probably had it too, at her age. An angry, cornered look. She was clasping what looked like a white rabbit’s foot in her right hand. The cut end emerged from her fist, bound crudely with electrical wire which was attached to a key. It looked home-made and this lent it – and her – an air that was both outdated and macabre, as if she’d been beamed in from some other time and had found herself stranded here, in south London, in the second decade of the twenty-first century, in the middle of the night, with nothing but a rabbit’s foot and a key to remind her of her origins. ‘What’s up?’ I said, more out of curiosity than alarm. I smiled and waited for an answer.

The two women glanced awkwardly at Tom and from the way he was standing, stiffly with one hand slung on his hip in an attempt at relaxed cool, I understood they were waiting for him to respond and I instinctively knew that everything I’d been thinking was wrong. A dark firework burst inside my chest. The girl in the doorway was neither a neighbour’s kid nor a friend of our daughter.

She was trouble.

I took a step back. ‘Will someone tell me what’s going on?’ When no one spoke I crouched to the girl’s level and, summoning as much friendliness as I could, said, ‘What’s your name? Why are you here?’

The girl’s eyes flickered to Tom, then, giving a tiny, contemptuous shake of the head, as if by her presence all my questions had already been answered and I was being obstructive or just plain dumb, she said, ‘I’m Ruby Winter.’

I felt Tom’s hands on my shoulder. They were no longer trembling so much as hot and spasmic.

‘Cat, please go and make some tea. I’ll come in a second.’

There was turmoil in his eyes. ‘Please,’ he repeated. And so, not knowing what else to do, I turned on my heels and made for the kitchen.

While the kettle wheezed into life, I sat at the table in a kind of stupor; too shocked to gather my thoughts, I stared at the clock as the red second hand stuttered towards the upright. Tock, tock, tock. There were voices in the hallway, then I heard the living room door shut. Time trudged on. I began to feel agitated. What was taking all this time? Why hadn’t Tom come? Part of me felt I had left the room already but here I was still. Eventually, footsteps echoed in the hallway. The door moved and Tom appeared. I stood up and went over to the counter where, what now seemed like an age ago, I had laid out a tray with the teapot and some mugs.

‘Sit down, darling, we need to talk.’ Darling. When was the last time he’d called me that?

I heard myself saying, idiotically, ‘But I made tea!’ ‘It’ll wait.’ He pulled up a chair directly opposite me.

When he spoke, his voice came to me like the distant crackle of a broken radio in another room. ‘I’m so sorry, Cat, but however I say this it’s going to come as a terrible shock, so I’m just going to say what needs to be said, then we can talk. There’s no way round this. The girl, Ruby Winter, she’s my daughter.’

give me the child

 

My review

Give me the child is a fast reading, page turning every mother’s nightmare read.

Set against the backdrop of London in 2011 during the Tottenham riots, Give me the child touches on mental health, domestic abuse and the consequences of infidelity.

What would you do if your partner’s secret love child turned up on your doorstep accompanied by two police officers? Her Mother now dead, life is thrown into complete turmoil.

Cat, Tom and Freya seemingly have a normal family life, until the fateful night when Ruby Winters enters into their world.

Very quickly you are thrown into the unexpected arrival of Ruby Winters. At first it seems to be the story of a husbands betrayal, a child that has been kept a secret. The unfortunate and untimely death of Lily Winters, Ruby’s Mother.  It soon becomes apparent that the death of Lily winters is not all as it seems.

The slow realisation that Ruby is a very dark and calculating character, a child who is far beyond her years really makes this book a riveting read.

It’s hard to understand how Cat handles the situation in the beginning with such a calm head. There were times when I wanted to climb into the book and drag her and Freya out of the situation which you could see was spiraling out of control. It becomes frighteningly clear that Ruby is a danger to Freya.

The darkness of the story, the conniving secrets between father and daughter are chilling.  This is a fantastic read and one I promise will haunt you for a long time after you have turned the final page.

I’d like to thank Mel McGrath & HQ stories for allowing me to review Give me the child

 

About the Author

Melanie-McGrath

Mel McGrath is an Essex girl, the author of the critically acclaimed and best-selling family memoir Silvertown. She won the John Llewellyn-Rhys/Mail on Sunday award for Best Writer Under 35 for her first book, Motel Nirvana. She has published three Arctic mysteries featuring the Inuit detective Edie Kiglatuk under the name MJ McGrath, the first of which, The Boy in the Snow, was shortlisted for a CWA Gold Dagger.

In the last year she has been one of the founders and moving lights of the website Killer Women, which has rapidly established itself as one of the key forums for crime writing in the UK. This new standalone marks a change in direction.

Where to find Mel McGrath

Website

Twitter

Facebook

Buy Give me the child here

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See You In September by Charity Norman

see you

Synopsis

Cassy smiled, blew them a kiss.
‘See you in September,’ she said.
It was a throwaway line. Just words uttered casually by a young woman in a hurry. And then she’d gone.

It was supposed to be a short trip – a break in New Zealand before her best friend’s wedding. But when Cassy waved goodbye to her parents, they never dreamed that it would be years before they’d see her again.

Having broken up with her boyfriend, Cassy accepts an invitation to stay in an idyllic farming collective. Overcome by the peace and beauty of the valley and swept up in the charisma of Justin, the community’s leader, Cassy becomes convinced that she has to stay.

As Cassy becomes more and more entrenched in the group’s rituals and beliefs, her frantic parents fight to bring her home – before Justin’s prophesied Last Day can come to pass.

A powerful story of family, faith and finding yourself, See You in September is an unputdownable new novel from this hugely compelling author.

 

 

My Review

The subject of this book intrigued me. Cults are things you watch documentaries about. I’ve always wondered what sort of people are drawn into cults, how do they not realise how controlling and manipulative these groups are?

See you in September captivated me, I adore books which draw you in and leave you wanting more.

Cassy is travelling around New Zealand with her boyfriend Hamish, not long after landing she discovers she’s pregnant, this doesn’t fit in with Hamish’s plans at all. Hamish suggests Cassy has an abortion, this brings the relationship to an abrupt end!  Cassy hitch hikes and is picked up by a mini bus full of the nicest people she’s ever met….or so she thinks.

The story’s beginning lulls you into a false sense of security, to the point where I checked the blurb to see if I had read it right. Gethsemane, the island where the people are from is idyllic, away from the stresses of modern day life, no mobile phones, self sufficiency, the people are kind and caring. The ‘leader’, Justin is hero worshipped but appears enigmatic and charming.

Then alarm bells begin to ring, they persuade Cassy to transfer all of her savings to the Gethesmane community, Justin believes he is God the community believe that Justin is God, sleep is limited, every one who joins the community is given a new name. All contact with family is severed. They brain wash Cassy into believing her Father abused her as a child, and it gets worse.  Slowly more and more secrets unfold and you see the whole picture. I must admit at times I wanted to jump into the book and shake Cassy, make her wake up and smell the coffee!

The book is written between Cassy’s story or Cairo as she is newly known and her Mother, Diana’s story.  You see both sides of the story from the way the cult brainwash Cassy to how her family slowly fall apart.

This is a definite 5* review from me.

I’ve found, to my joy that Charity has also released as an ebook Best Served Cold- An original short story featuring characters from See You in September. Guess whats at the top of my TBR list!!

About the Author

Charity Norman was born in Uganda and brought up in successive draughty vicarages in Yorkshire and Birmingham. After several years’ travel she became a barrister, specialising in crime and family law. In 2002, realising that her three children had barely met her, she took a break from the law and moved with her family to New Zealand. See You in September is Charity’s fifth novel. Find Charity on Facebook at facebook.com/charitynormanauthor and on Twitter

 

Click here to buy See you in September

Click here to buy Best served cold

best served

Thankyou to Lovereading for allowing me to review See you in September.

The Sixth Victim By Tessa Harris

The sixth victim

Synopsis

London’s East End, 1888: When darkness falls, terror begins

The foggy streets of London’s Whitechapel district have become a nocturnal hunting ground for Jack the Ripper, and no woman is safe. Flower girl Constance Piper is not immune to dread, but she is more preoccupied with her own strange experiences of late.

Clairvoyants seem to be everywhere these days. Constance’s mother has found comfort in contacting her late father in a séance. But are such powers real? And could Constance really be possessed of second sight? She longs for the wise counsel of her mentor and champion of the poor, Emily Tindall, but the kind missionary has gone missing.

Following the latest grisly discovery, Constance is contacted by a high-born lady of means who fears the victim may be her missing sister. She implores Constance to use her clairvoyance to help solve the crime, which the press is calling “the Whitechapel Mystery,” attributing the murder to the Ripper.

As Constance becomes embroiled in intrigue far more sinister than she could have imagined, assistance comes in a startling manner that profoundly challenges her assumptions about the nature of reality. She’ll need all the help she can get—because there may be more than one depraved killer out there…

 

My review

I have never really read novels set in this era but the subject of this book intrigued me. I was captivated from the first chapter!

Set in 1888 as Jack the ripper has just begun his reign of terror the story is told from two perspectives, Constance and Emily’s. The story alternates between the two.

Constance is a flower girl and comes from a poor family, she and her sister make money by stealing from the rich, whilst Constance sells the flowers, Flo pickpockets the customers. She lives in Whitechapel, one of the poorest parts of London and the place where the Jack the ripper murders are taking place.

Emily Tindall is from a good background, she is a Sunday school teacher and has taken Constance under her wing, teaching her to read and showing her a life far removed from her own.

The sixth victim is one of those amazing books that pulls you into the pages, I connected with the characters and couldn’t wait to follow the twists and turns of the story. Very early on you find that Emily isn’t quite what you believe. I don’t  want to spoil the book for you, but when you discover the ‘secret’ it makes you see the story in a whole different light.

The book runs alongside the murders of Jack the ripper but they are very much in the background, the main story is Constance’s search for Emily who seems to have gone missing and how her psychic abilities slowly, to her amazement grow. Constance is also approached by a lady from the upper classes who fears her sister has been victim to Jack the ripper. The lady asks for Constance’s help to solve the mystery.

I loved the way the stories entwined and developed, how characters ended up linking.  The way Tessa portrays Emily’s story is beautiful, it is as if Emily is talking to the reader directly, here is a snippet of a piece of Emily’s story hat shows this perfectly;

Constance does sleep, albeit fitfully, so we shall leave her to return to my own story. For now, it is time to take you on a terrifying journey”

This is the first in ‘Constance Piper Mystery’ series, I’m waiting with baited breath for the second installment which Tessa tells me will be out in 2018.

About the Author
Tessa Harris is the author of the acclaimed Dr. Thomas Silkstone Mysteries, including Secrets in the Stones and The Anatomist’s Apprentice. A graduate of Oxford University with a History degree, Tessa has also been a journalist and editor, contributing to many national publications such as The Times and The Telegraph. She has also acted as a literary publicist for several well-known authors. Readers can visit her website at www.tessaharrisauthor.com

Thank you to Tessa harris for allowing me to review The sixth victim.

Click here to buy The Sixth Victim

 

 

Faithless by Kjel Ola Dahl #BlogTour

Faithless cover

Synopsis

Oslo detectives Gunnarstranda and Frølich are back … and this time, it’s personal… When the body of a woman turns up in a dumpster, scalded and wrapped in plastic, Inspector Frank Frølich is shocked to discover that he knows her … and their recent meetings may hold the clue to her murder. As he ponders the tragic events surrounding her death, Frølich’s colleague Gunnarstranda investigates a disturbingly similar cold case involving the murder of a young girl in northern Norway and Frølich is forced to look into his own past to find the answers – and the killer – before he strikes again. Dark, brooding and utterly chilling, Faithless is a breath-taking and atmospheric page-turner that marks the return of an internationally renowned and award-winning series, from one of the fathers of Nordic Noir.


Review

I’m new to Nordic Noir and wasn’t sure if it was my thing, but i did really enjoyed my first taste .

Faithless is a slowly unfolding thriller that ambles along picking up pace in the final chapters.

The two main characters Frølich and Gunnarstranda are true to life. Their investigation techniques are at times very relaxed and they don’t always do things to the book, nor are they always politically correct, but it makes the characters very likeable. In fact the whole book is very relaxed and a real joy to read. The nice thing is that you find out alot of background about the police officers personal lives, i like this in a novel, it makes the characters have alot more depth and enables you to feel as if you know them.

There are 2 cases running alongside each other, a missing student and the murder of a woman who has been left in a dumpster. The case becomes hard for Frølich when he discovers he knows the murder victim .

I really liked the female police officer  Lena who is feisty, smart and sassy. She really shows her worth in the last few chapters. Although the book is quite slow paced it does really pick up speed in the last few chapters and had me on the edge of my seat!

The ending leaves an definite opening for the nest instalment whicch i will definitely be awaiting!

About the Author

Dahl-Kjell-Ola_Foto-Rolf-M-Aagaard

 

One of the fathers of the Nordic Noir genre, Kjell Ola Dahl was born in 1958 in Gjøvik. He made his debut in 1993, and has since published eleven novels, the most prominent of which is a series of police procedurals cum psychological thrillers featuring investigators Gunnarstranda and Frølich. In 2000 he won the Riverton Prize for The Last Fix and he won both the prestigious Brage and Riverton Prizes for The Courier in 2015. His work has been published in 14 countries, and he lives in Oslo.

Thank you to Anne Cater for allowing me to take part in this Blog Tour and also a big thank you to Orenda Books.

Click here to buy Faithless