book reviews · Bookish

Wolves at the Door by Gunnar Staalesen (Review)

Hello! Today I am on the blog tour for Wolves at the Door by Gunnar Staalesen and I am bringing you a review! This book is out now and available in Paperback, Kindle and Audiobook editions. I received a copy of this book for free as part of the tour.

Varg Veum is a private detective, operating out of Bergen, Norway. Previously accused of pedophilia, after images were planted on his computer, Varg has been trying to pick up the pieces after he was proven innocent, but his name still tainted.

One day, someone attempts to run Varg down. Around the same time, he has discovered that two people in the aforementioned pedophile case had died, but he senses something is amiss. Nobody has commissioned him to do so, but he decides to investigate their deaths and discovers the dark truth about the people involved in the case.

The books main theme is a case about the deaths of two pedophiles and mentions child abuse including that which occurs in a family setting. Some readers may find this triggering.

The book is translated from Norweigan, but it is well written and immersive. I found it to be suspenseful and really easy to settle in to and I guess that’s thanks to the author also being from Bergen. The nouns threw me off because I spent a while contemplating how they’d be pronounced, but that was all the more interesting to me and I was glad they didn’t anglicize the names. As an English reader, I really enjoyed the foreign setting.

The ending was punchy, hard hitting and satisfying and I was really pleased with the outcome and how the author wrapped the book up. It’s part of a series, but it read just fine as a standalone and I don’t feel overly baited to the next installment – although, I’d be interested to reading it, for sure!

About the Book

One dark January night a car drives at high speed towards PI Varg Veum, and comes very close to killing him. Veum is certain this is no accident, following so soon after the deaths of two jailed men who were convicted for their participation in a case of child pornography and sexual assault … crimes that Veum himself once stood wrongly accused of committing.

While the guilty men were apparently killed accidentally, Varg suspects that there is something more sinister at play … and that he’s on the death list of someone still at large.

Fearing for his life, Veum begins to investigate the old case, interviewing the victims of abuse and delving deeper into the brutal crimes, with shocking results. The wolves are no longer in the dark … they are at his door. And they want vengeance.

About the Author

One of the fathers of Nordic Noir, Gunnar Staalesen was born in Bergen, Norway, in 1947. He made his debut at the age of twenty-two with Seasons of Innocence and in 1977 he published the first book in the Varg Veum series. He is the author of over twenty titles, which have been published in twenty-four countries and sold over four million copies. Twelve film adaptations of his Varg Veum crime novels have appeared since 2007, starring the popular Norwegian actor Trond Espen Seim. Staalesen has won three Golden Pistols (including the Prize of Honour) and Where Roses Never Die won the 2017 Petrona Award for crime fiction. He lives with his wife in Bergen.

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Setting – Val Penny (Guest Post)

Hey all, today, I am delighted to be on the tour for Hunters Force by Val Penny and I have a guest post for you! I’ve been on previous tours for the books prior to this if you want to check those posts out too and so I am chuffed to be hosting another guest post from the author. Thanks, Val!

Thank you for inviting me to your blog today. I am very excited because my third crime novel, ‘Hunter’s Force’ has been published by Crooked Cats Books and is easily available from Amazon.

The story is set in Edinburgh, the capital of Scotland. I think setting is very important to a novel and did consider creating an imaginary town for my story. However, I lived in Edinburgh for many years and know the city well. I definitely saw my main protagonist, Detective Inspector Hunter Wilson, as a city policeman. Also, Edinburgh is a beautiful city and it is lovely to ‘research’ by walking around my favourite places!

Edinburgh has everything a writer could need. It is a diverse city with all different kinds of buildings and people. It is small enough that characters can move around it quickly and large enough for it to be credible that anything I want to happen there, could happen.

Edinburgh is a fabulous city with a castle, a palace and a cathedral, wealthy homes, horrible slums, fine restaurants, fast food outlets and idiosyncratic pubs. It is home to an Olympic size pool, the National Rugby Team and two famous football teams. It is also home to The Edinburgh International Festivals, what more could I or my characters want?

When I chose Edinburgh as the setting for my first novel ‘Hunter’s Chase’, I thought about it carefully. it is a beautiful city of around half a million people. I wanted the place to be big enough to support the series of books the form The Edinburgh Crime Mysteries, and I have no doubt that it fits the bill.

Hunter Wilson is divorced. He lives in a flat in Leith, an area to the north of the City and drinks in his local pub, the Persevere Bar and plays darts there.

The delegated parliament of Scotland, is where Hunter’s nemesis, Sir Peter Myerscough served as Justice Secretary. The Scottish Parliament has wide powers over how the people of Scotland are governed and meets in the Scottish Parliament Building, in the Holyrood district of the city.

Sir Peter Myerscough, has a fine home to the south in the Morningside district of Edinburgh. From his large house he has fine views across the Pentland Hills. The Pentland hills are situated just outside of Edinburgh. The reservoirs are picturesque and each hill is slightly different. If you are fit enough, you can visit the top of all of the hills in one day.
Another main character, Detective Constable Tim Myerscough is Sir Peter Myerscough’s son. He jogs through the unique park at The hermitage of Braid and his favourite pub is the Golf Tavern, off the Bruntsfield Links where, it is claimed, the oldest golf course in the world is situated.

Edinburgh is such a diverse and cultural city home to the National Art Galleries, beautiful parks and all kinds of people. It is the perfect place to situate my new novel, ‘Hunter’s Revenge’ and all the cases DI Hunter Wilson has to solve.

About The Book

Hunter by name – Hunter by nature:

Can DI Hunter Wilson keep Edinburgh safe when he is the hunted?

DI Hunter Wilson is woken in the early hours of the morning by a call from his son, Cameron. Who has murdered the young student who shares Cameron’s flat? Why would anybody want to kill a young woman recently arrived in the city?

Now that the united police force, Police Scotland exists, Hunter must call in the new Major Incident Team (MIT) to lead the investigation. Hunter’s ability to investigate anything further is put in severe doubt when someone from his past decides to take revenge on him. He goes missing and his team have no idea where to look for him. Who would want to stop Hunter in his tracks? 

Hunter’s team must work closely with MIT, with or without him, to solve the murder in this taught crime thriller. 

About The Author

Val Penny is an American author living in SW Scotland. She has two adult daughters of whom she is justly proud and lives with her husband and two cats. She has a Law degree from Edinburgh University and her MSc from Napier University. She has had many jobs including hairdresser, waitress, lawyer, banker, azalea farmer and lecturer. However she has not yet achieved either of her childhood dreams of being a ballerina or owning a candy store. Until those dreams come true, she has turned her hand to writing poetry, short stories and novels. Her crime novels, ‘Hunter’s Chase’ Hunter’s Revenge and Hunter’s Force are set in Edinburgh, Scotland, published by Crooked Cat Books. The fourth book in the series, Hunter’s Blood, follows shortly.

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Hunters Revenge by Val Penny (Excerpt)

Today I am on the tour for Hunters Revenge by Val Penny, out now and available in Kindle and Paperback formats. It is also available on Kindle Unlimited (Use my link for 30 days free!). This book is the sequel to Hunters Chase; I recently shared a guest post from the author (Plotting in Novels) as part of another promotional tour for that book.

Much of the action in Hunter’s Revenge revolves around the car showroom and garage Thomson’s Top Cars. Here we meet Jamie and Frankie who are running the business while Jamie’s father, Ian, is in jail.

“I’m glad we’re doing this together,” Jamie said to his cousin. “I know having to leave us in charge is stressing Pop out!”

“Aye, probably more stress than his time in prison could ever have done. But at least you’ve passed your driving test now.”

Frankie could have been reading his uncle’s mind. Ian Thomson had just under two months to go before he was eligible for parole, and in the meantime could only hope that Jamie and Frankie didn’t do anything too stupid to ruin his business. At least the wee receptionist, Jenny Kozlowski, seemed to have a bit of common sense.

“I’ll be a bit late in today, Frankie, can you hold the fort?”

“Aye. What you up to, then?”

“Nothing much. It’s just that it’s Jenny’s birthday, and I’m going to pick up cakes for all of us for coffee break.”

“If it’s her birthday, she should buy the cakes. That’s what the rest of us all do,” Frankie protested. “You fancy her, don’t you?”

“Don’t be stupid!”

“Aye you do. Well, I won’t tell the guys in the workshop, if I can get a chocky doughnut.”

“Piss off, Frankie.”

“Am I getting a chocky doughnut, then?”

“Aye,” Jamie grinned.

***

Jamie was disappointed to see Frankie at the reception desk when he walked in.

“Where’s Jenny, cuz?” he called over to Frankie.

“Dunno. Not even a phone call. And she’s well late now.”

“Well, she must be somewhere, her coat’s here. She looks good in red.”

“Well she’s not anywhere, as far as I can see.”

“She’s usually early. Wonder what’s up.” Jamie rubbed his hands together. It might be spring according to the time of year, but with its wide glass front and the open garage at the back, the showroom was cold.

“She maybe went to get cakes,” Frankie suggested hopefully.

“Without her coat? I doubt it!” Jamie retorted.

“Well, she was probably out on the lash last night and slept in.”

“Could be, but I still can’t see her leaving last night without her coat.” Jamie shrugged and turned away, trying to hide his disappointment. “It’s fucking freezing in here. I’ll make us a coffee first to warm us up, then I’ll try phoning her.”

“Phone her first, Jamie. You know you want to.”

When Jamie wandered back to reception from the office he plonked a mug of coffee in front of Frankie.

“Her mam says she never went home last night. Do you know if she was going out with pals or the like?”

“I don’t know. You gave that guy a test drive in the Bentley and I went home. A fellow came in just as I was leaving, but Jenny said she would see to him because she would stay on and lock up with you.” Frankie smiled. “I thought, aye aye, nudge nudge, say no more. So off I went. I picked up the twins from their child minder on the way home. You know?”

Jamie frowned. “She wasn’t here when I got back, and the showroom wasn’t locked up. I was pretty pissed off about that. But I couldn’t see nothing missing, so when the guy said he wanted to think about the Bentley, I just locked up and came home.”

“Nothing was missing except Jenny, you mean.”

“I didn’t know that. I thought you’d both just buggered off.”

“Like we’d ever do that. Your pop would skin us alive when he got hold of us. Do you think I’ve got a death wish?”

“Funny accent the man had,” Jamie said. “European or something.”

“Jamie?” The head mechanic, Gary, called across the showroom. “Where’s that old blue Volvo that was waiting to go through its service?”

“What old Volvo? I don’t know. Don’t you keep a log of all the cars you work on?” Jamie asked angrily.

“Aye, but we didn’t get to this one yesterday. It was just waiting outside for us to get started this morning. The customer asked us to give it a service, then put it up for sale. Said he had a buyer for it who’d pay eight grand, but he might need a test drive first. I told him he’d need a brain test if he was paying that much for that car. But it seems like he was right; it must have been sold. ”

“So what happened to the paperwork?” Jamie shouted. “We’ve not sold any fucking old Volvo. Where is the damn thing?”

“No idea.”

“So what do I do now? Jenny’s not in, and a fucking car has gone missing. This is a truly rubbish start to the day. Pop is going to bloody skin me.”

Frankie shrugged, “Phone Jenny’s mam back? Maybe the man she spoke to took the Volvo.”

“I suppose I should. I don’t fancy it though. She shouts. I don’t think she likes me. Then what do I tell Pop about the car?”

“I think you’ll need a chocky doughnut before you do that. I know I will!”

“I’ll need more than a fucking chocky doughnut, Frankie, if we’ve lost one of his customer’s cars.”

About the Book

Hunter by name – Hunter by nature: DI Hunter Wilson will not rest until his friend’s death is avenged.

DI Hunter Wilson is called to the scene of a murder. He is shocked to find the victim is his friend and colleague, George Reinbold. Who would want to harm the quiet, old man? Why was a book worth £23,000 delivered to him that morning? Why is the security in George’s home so intense?

Hunter must investigate his friend’s past as well as the present to identify the killer and identify George’s killer. Hunter also finds a new supply of cocaine from Peru flooding HMP Edinburgh and the city.

The courier leads Hunter to the criminal gang but Hunter requires the help of his nemesis, the former Chief Constable, Sir Peter Myerscough and local gangster Ian Thomson to make his case. Hunter’s perseverance and patience are put to the test time after time in this taught crime thriller.

About the Author

  Val Penny is an American author living in SW Scotland. She has two adult daughters of whom she is justly proud and lives with her husband and two cats. She has a Law degree from Edinburgh University and her MSc from Napier University. She has had many jobs including hairdresser, waitress, lawyer, banker, azalea farmer and lecturer.

However she has not yet achieved either of her childhood dreams of being a ballerina or owning a candy store. Until those dreams come true, she has turned her hand to writing poetry, short stories and novels. Her crime novels, ‘Hunter’s Chase’ and Hunter’s Revenge are set in Edinburgh, Scotland, published by Crooked Cat Books. The third book in the series, Hunter’s Force, follows shortly.

Bookish · Uncategorized

Implant – Ray Clark: Excerpt

Hey guys! Today, I’m on the blog tour for a fantastic book called Implant by Ray Clark. It’s the third in a series, but admittedly, this book was my introduction to it. I’ve added the previous installments to my TBR pile as I’ve really enjoyed this book thus far; and while it is part of a series, it works perfectly fine as a standalone. The book doesn’t take too long to really get in to the “meat” of the story, and I was really a big fan of that. I’m currently still reading the book though. I had planned on doing a full review for my spot on the tour, but moving house left me short on time – so today I have an excerpt to share with you instead. I hope you’ll love it and pick up a copy and we can chat about it if you’d like! Thanks to Kelly from Love Books Group, Urbane Publications and Ray Clark for inviting me to be a part of this! Implant is on sale now in both paperback and kindle editions.

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Bramfield, near Leeds, a sleepy little market town nestled on the borders of West and North Yorkshire. Detectives Stewart Gardener and Sean Reilly discover the naked corpse of Alex Wilson, nailed to the wall of a cellar in his uncle’s hardware store. His lips are sewn together and his body bears only one mark, a fresh scar near his abdomen.

Within forty-eight hours, their investigation results in dead ends, more victims, no suspects and very little in the way of solid evidence. Gardener and Reilly have a problem and a question on their hands: are the residents of Bramfield prepared for one of history’s most sadistic killers, The Tooth Fairy?

Implant is the perfect read for fans of Peter May, Mark Billingham and Peter James.

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3.

3:20 a.m.

“Do you want me to put a trace on the calls?” Cragg asked.

​Both men had moved out of the back office now, into the more clinical surroundings of the lobby and the front desk.

​“Might be a good idea, sir. While you do that, maybe I should have a walk round to Armitage’s, see what’s happening.”

​Gary didn’t think a trace to his phone would do much good. He knew that as you travelled up and down the country, your mobile phone ‘shook hands’ with each phone mast as it came within range. You didn’t have to be using it, but the mast would know it’s available to make or receive calls. At the end of the day, however, the range was only accurate to within 1.5 miles.

​“It’s okay, lad. I can dispatch a car if you like.”

​“Where are the others?”

​“Further north, at Rudson, investigating an attempted break-in.”

​“You could give them a call and see how they’re doing. If they’re nearly finished, let ‘em know I’m going, and maybe they can meet me there later. After all, we don’t know what this is yet, and it’ll only take me a few minutes to walk round.”

​“If you’re sure,” said Cragg.

​“Course I am. Anyway, the doc said I needed the exercise for the leg. Can you trace the calls?”

​“I’ll use Charter to try to trace them. It’ll just take longer.” Charter was a software program the police used to obtain information from phone companies under the RIPA Act.

​Gary put his helmet on and stepped out the station front door. The sky was still dark with little cloud and no breeze, which made for a mild September morning. The road was quiet: no traffic, no people, not even a brave fox.

​The station was situated on Old Bramfield Road, to the north of the town, going towards Bursley Bridge and eventually Harrogate. Armitage’s place was in Carpenter’s Alley, behind the Market Square, at the foot of The Shambles. He estimated it would only take about ten minutes to walk, despite his leg.

​It took less than a minute for the bloody thing to start aching, an annoying pulsing sensation.

​The accident was still very clear in his mind. They were playing a team from Ilkley. One of their defenders was known locally – and nationally, he shouldn’t wonder – as “The Monster.” He’d been sent off more times than any other player in the league, and it was probably the sole reason that had stopped Ilkley Town achieving promotion. Maybe their manager would see that one day.

​The Bramfield defender, Steve Preece, had supplied the perfect cross for Gary. The goalkeeper was the only man to beat, and Gary reckoned it wasn’t much of a problem. Where The Monster had come from was anyone’s guess.

​Gary went down like a sack of spuds, even heard the break. He hadn’t felt any pain at first. He couldn’t remember the exact point at which he had felt pain, but it had more than made up for his initial lack of it.

​Mr. Sinclair had called it a ‘green stick’ break. His bones had been broken laterally in a jagged fashion, and they had needed to be straightened and pinned. The surgeon had been to see him a couple of times in hospital, gave him extra injections in the leg. He’d said it would take time, things would improve, but it was unlikely Gary would play football again. Not at Sunday League level, anyway.

​Mr. Sinclair would know. He was as good as anyone. Had to be to treat Gary’s mother the way he had done.

​Gary approached the crossroads in the town centre and turned right on to Wheelgate, passing the shops. He hadn’t seen any people on his walk, and passed only a couple of vehicles approaching from the south side, one of them was a bus with no passengers.

​He turned left on to Finkle Street, and his thoughts were once again with his mother.

​She had a type of brain cancer called glioma. He remembered the day when she had suddenly started having epileptic fits, right out of the blue. With progression, she’d had more, and had then grown forgetful.

​She was so frightened. So was he, come to mention it. He’d lost his father; he wanted to hang on to his mother.

​Gary approached the old library, which led to The Shambles. As Armitage’s hardware shop came into view, he could indeed see the light burning in the window, and the front door open.

​He glanced behind him and noticed Richard Jones with his pushbike, standing outside The Golden Lion pub. The man waved, wheeling his bike towards Gary. He was dressed in an old trench coat and trousers. Gary reckoned his age to be mid-fifties.

​He turned his attention to the old hardware store. It had been a part of the community for as long as he could remember, much longer in fact, as he read the sign above the shop that told him it had been established in 1939.

​It was a long fronted building made from different shades of brick, indicating when and where it had been extended. He suspected the main door at the far right side was not the original entrance, which was probably the more central one now used as a window display. To reach the shop you had to walk down four huge concrete steps, with a slope for wheelchairs running down the middle. To the far left were a cycle rack, and a huge potted plant. On the corner of the building an old-fashioned gas mantle was fixed to the wall, unlit.

​Gary was about to tell Richard Jones not to come too close when movement caught his attention. About thirty feet in front of him, where the shop ended and a wall separated it from the public toilets and the car park beyond, someone had stepped back into the shadows.

​At least, he thought someone had.