The Lake Templeton~H.S Burnley

When the body of Sharon Reese, a dedicated government employee, washes up on the shores of Lake Templeton, a small town on the coast of Vancouver Island, Private Investigator, Fati Rizvi, is determined to find out why. Everyone liked her, but no one knew much about her. Was she hiding something? Maybe a questionable past riddled with scandal. And did it lead to her plunge to death, in a drunken stupor, off the dock outside her secluded lakefront lodge? Was it an accident? A suicide? Or cold-blooded murder? With so many questions and secrets than run deeper than anyone could have imagined, it’s up to Fati to figure out how Sharon’s murder is connected to a cult escape, corrupt politics, a failing business and a multi-million dollar project before another body is discovered.

This is a first novel from Burnley and what really got me hooked was the fact that our heroine went against her Muslim family’s wished and joined Vancouver Police Force and then went on to become a Private Investigator after discovering the red tape stopped her doing her job to her own high standards. And she’s also in her mid 30’s and unmarried-even in modern times it’s still not a very common occurrence among her community. Which made me really like her so much more! Who doesn’t love a rebellious daughter who literally kicks butt and saves the day?!

The characters are well portrayed and solidly written, the plot is good, the twists are right there under your nose but you just don’t think about them until they’re right in front of you-what more could any crime thriller reader want from a brand new writer? I enjoyed it thoroughly!

Admittedly It took me a lot longer than anticipated to read this book, and I found my Kindle seem d to have formatted it weirdly (it was sent to me to read for this review so I’m not sure if it’s an error on my end or not) and despite a lot of difficult personal circumstances that I’ve been my sole focus lately, I still found myself drawn to reading it despite feeling like I just didn’t have the energy to do much else.

Keep an eye out for Burnley over the next few years. I think this is one to watch.

Author Biography.

HS Burney writes fast-moving, action-packed mysteries set against the backdrop of majestic mountains and crystalline ocean in West Coast Canada. She loves creating characters that keep you on your toes. A corporate executive by day and a novelist by night, HS Burney received her Bachelors’ in Creative Writing from Lafayette College. A proud Canadian immigrant, she takes her readers into worlds populated by diverse characters with unique cultural backgrounds. When not writing, she is out hiking, waiting for the next story idea to strike, and pull her into a new world.

Author Interview with Gill Merton

Gill Merton is the non de plume of five writers based around Edinburgh and the Lothians: Simon Bramwell, Coreen Connell, Sheila Corrigan, Anne Hamilton and Elizabeth Nallon. I was given the amazing opportunity to take part in an author Q&A with the group after the release of their first collaborative novel Entitled as part of the blog tour via ZooLoo’s Book Tours.

1. First things first; how did you come up with the name of Gill Merton? There are five of you so how did you settle on this name? Strangely, this was probably the easiest decision of all! Our writing group meets at the GilmertonCommunity Centre, in Edinburgh, so by democratic vote Gil became Gill and we had our name. It was that or an acronym of our initials, and that doesn’t have the same ring to it.


2. The book is adapted from a short story by Sheila Corrigan, whose idea was it to elaborate on the characters and themes already in situ and how did you work out who was writing what? It was one of those off-the-cuff remarks from a previous member of the group that started the whole project. Sheila’s story came from a (now long-forgotten) writing prompt, and the reaction was, ‘That could be a novel’. At the time, we weren’t thinking that big, but we did decide to expand the story – a novel-in-flash, perhaps. There was only loose planning: each week we had a chat (a lot of chat!) about plot, shared out characters and scenes – and then we wrote. We expected duplication and contradiction and confusion, as the story was evolving all the time, but the aim was to get some words down. Then we could chat some more, and edit, edit, edit. It was much later on we realised we had a potential novel.


3. The book flows so well, even the narrative from other characters, that it’s really hard to sense a shift or change in writing style- was that tricky to navigate with five authors? You couldn’t get five more different writers (or people!) so yes, it was a bit like mixing Chinese, Mexican, Indian, Scottish and sushi into one recipe and producing a not only edible but tempting plate of food. For us, the bonus was having been together as a group for a number of years and having already produced an anthology and a collaborative audio play. We’ve learned the hard, hard lesson of not getting too attached to ‘our’ characters or scenes, and being willing to ‘kill our darlings’ for the good of the bigger picture. Mutual respect, a lot of laughs and only seeing each other once a week – less through lockdown – helped. One of our members, Anne, is also our tutor, so she took on some of the initial development editing to maintain one voice, and having chapters narrated by different characters gave us the best of both worlds.


4. Not having read the original short by Corrigan, how vastly does Entitled differ from its early roots? Sheila’s original was a few hundred words long – flash fiction at its best. Sally and Malcolm were there from the start, along with the traumatic events that bind them, and subsequently lead Sally to do what she does. The rest? All that came later, ideas flying in from everywhere. The Scottish island setting and the little twist at the end of the story evolved as we wrote.


5. Will you be collaborating on novels again in the future as a group or pairs or will you be writing solo for the most part? Entitled has been three years, at least, in the making. It’s publication is funded by a National Lottery community grant. Could we do it again? We’ve done it once – something we never dreamed of at the start – so why not? The same goes for writing a sequel, because the novel’s ending is (as in all good stories!) is also a beginning. But would we? The lifeblood of the group is that we’re always trying new things, challenging ourselves, but mostly as individual writers supported by each other. So it’s back to our own projects for now – but let it be noted, we’re quite happy to try our hand at a screen adaptation, especially if it’s on location and we can all have cameo roles!


6. I imagine each of you will have a secret favourite character and a character you love to hate-who are they and why? Elizabeth says, ‘I love Sandy, he’s a practical, down to earth man, not one to stand on ceremony or who attempts to impress. He surrounds himself with those who matter most to him and their lives are all the better for knowing Sandy. His turn of phrase reminds me of older people and their conversations, when I was growing up.’ Coreen adds, ‘Aunt Maud reminds me of my Granny – I aways thought she had her own secret or two and she always kept mine. Like Maud, Granny survived the war, and her husband was her one true love. I would love to live Miss Maud’s life on the island!’ The most flawed characters have to be Malcolm and Martha, and their breathtakingly self-centred lives, which made them a guilty pleasure to write. Thecomic relief, then, comes in the form of Sergeant McLeish and Alisdair, a pair with whom Simon (his sci-fi and fantasy skills stoically put aside to write Entitled!) would have a wee cheeky dram and put the world to rights. Elizabeth sums it up: ‘The story involving the doctors is a cold one – the life on the island is a warm and colourful one.’ We all secretly want to live on Inniscuillin.


7. This will be one that I’m sure crops up frequently, but are any of the characters based on traits you have all come across in people in the past? The characters are as real as people we know by now – as is Inniscuillin, which is a totally fictional island. Sally is an enigma for all of us: we know why she does what she does; we might empathise – but is she justified? (Now there’s a reading group discussion!) None of them are based on real people – even if they once were, having five authors writing them would certainly change them beyond recognition. But Sheila’s first creations were pure fiction then, and we’ve just taken their traits and their flaws – and run with them.

8. How did you find working on the geographical locations? You’re all Scotland based so it’s not hard to imagine the terrain, but it’s a vast part of the country with differing locales and backdrops-did this help build up a location profile or was it awkward to navigate and get everyone’s vision down on paper to create the scenes?The story starts in England: Sally is from Yorkshire, has her life turned upside down in London, and ends up in Cambridge. From there, it’s a slow and revealing journey to Inniscuillin. The island is so integral to Entitled now, it’s strange to think it was something of a later addition. For a while, France, then Portugal featured, but international travel – for all kinds of plot-related reasons – was too complex. What we needed was somewhere remote, and since we are Scotland-based, where better than the Highlands and Islands? In the 1970s, links to the mainland were far fewer than they are now, and that suited the story perfectly. Naming Inniscuillin (and then spelling it consistently!) and pinpointing it geographically was a highly entertaining puzzle. Life on the island itself, we based on our own collective experiences, and literally made up as we went along. The trickiest thing of all was getting the book cover right: a rugged coastline, figures on the beach and a hint of the Big House – brought to life by our designer, Marta Lis – and then made into the dream of a real book of our own, by Claire Morley of

Entitled~Gill Merton

In 1971, Nan Douglas and her toddler twins arrive on the remote island of Inniscuiilin, long-lost family of the eccentric Miss Campbell. For fifteen years they all live quietly up at the Big House, until the twins start planning their future – forcing Nan to confront their past…. Because someone, somewhere believes that the twins aren’t twins. That they’re not even Nan’s children. And that Nan isn’t Nan. Only Nan herself can prove them wrong – but it’s a gamble. Win or lose, she’s still at risk of losing her beloved family.

This is the second book I’ve read since I found myself in a major reading-slump in February (there’s a lot of things going on in my life and usually reading is an escape, but it’s just too much to be distracted from sadly) and it was the best read to bring me back to it! I was HOOKED after the third page! Literally even text my better half to say I wasn’t going to be able to put it down! I think he was pleased but also surprised by this given how slow I was to read my last book!

I LOVED how were first introduced to the character who would become Nan as a young girl, who was goi g to be one of less than half a dozen women going in to medical school, I liked how we were witness to the change in dynamic of her life and a totally new set of surroundings for this country-lass, watching how she grew and went on to fall in love only to be deeply and painfully betrayed. I was at one point wondering when Nan would come in to things, but as chapters went by and we were shown how Malcom’s life changed and how Sally’s did, it soon dawned on me that Nan was created through Malcom’s roguish and God-complex like behaviour.

There were a few plot twists band the best really was saved for last-I was part gob-smacked but also partly unsurprised, but I’ll keep the details to myself because unless you have read the book it would be a total pity to give it away!

The way book ended was a really good cliff-hanger and was very satisfying to read! I was slightly heart broken that one of the children followed with their fathers personality but so pleased the other did not-something that I’m sure would deeper explored if there were to be a sequel (which I truly hope there will be!£.

I highly recommend Entitled! I cannot rate it enough!

Author Biography.

Gill Merton is the non de plume of five writers based around Edinburgh and the Lothians: Simon Bramwell Coreen Connell Sheila Corrigan Anne Hamilton Elizabeth Nallon. Entitled is their first collaborative novel, adapted from an original short story by Sheila Corrigan, and was made possible by funding from The National Lottery Awards For All. Earlier publications include: The Writing Group: an original stage/radio play (First recorded 2017) A Way With Words: an anthology of prose and poetry (Pilrig Press, 2015)

The Promise~Emily Shiner

If you break the promise, you pay the price.

Scott will do anything to protect his wife, Erin. That’s why he secretly installs a tracking app on her phone and watches her through hidden cameras in their home.

When he learns there’s a chance one of Erin’s kidneys will fail, he vows to shield her from the truth and find a donor for her at any cost.

That’s how he meets Kathleen. She is the answer to his dreams, a perfect match for Erin. There’s only one problem – Kathleen has no intention of becoming a donor. That doesn’t bother Scott – he is confident he can manipulate her into giving him what he wants.

But Kathleen isn’t as innocent as she looks, she has her own agenda. And she doesn’t care who she hurts as long as she gets what she needs.

As lives hang in the balance, Erin and Kathleen are bound together by a terrible promise. But when that promise is broken, who will pay the ultimate price?

Zoë over at ZooLoo’s Book Tours has done it again! She sent me a book with an amazing write up and I started reading it thinking “yeah……..not for me…..” BUT then I got to this point where I was sucked in and literally couldn’t put it down!

The book is written from the point of view of three main characters- Erin the over-trusting and naive house wife, Scott the controlling and manipulative criminal defence lawyer husband and Katherine the one whose really unwell and is convinced her daughter is going to have the exact same fate as her so poisons her daughter to make her believe she’s as unwell as her mother.

Sounds complicated BUT actually the narrative is well written and there’s definitive changes when the chapters are focusing on other characters-not something all books manage to pull off as smoothly as this. Well done Shiner.

A few select times I was a little confused however it seems the character who was seemingly in control of the entire orchestration of the plan was also hit with confusion toward the end so I didn’t feel like I was the only one having a brain-fart-moment! And everything was made very clear a dozen or so pages later. The ending was a major cliff hanger and I can see that there is plenty to work with for a sequel focusing solely on the daughters of the main characters in the future. Something is actually be interested in reading, which doesn’t happen all that often of late.

All In all a very good read with very few confusing or uninteresting moments, so I highly recommend this book to anyone looking for a rollercoaster ride!

Author Bio

Emily Shiner always dreamed of becoming an author but first served her time as a banker and a teacher. After a lifetime of devouring stacks of thrillers, she decided to try her hand at writing them herself. Now she gets to live out her dream of writing novels and sharing her stories with people around the world. She lives in the Appalachian Mountains and loves hiking with her husband, daughter, and their two dogs. Emily writes psychological thrillers. The Secret Wife will be her first novel published with Inkubator Books.

Here For You~Nora Valters

A fresh start… or a living hell?

Jess’s life is back on track again: the messy divorce, bitter inheritance feud, and terrifying home invasion are well and truly behind her. After two years abroad, she is excited for a new beginning in a sleepy English seaside town where nobody knows her. So when Jess is attacked in the street, she thinks it’s rotten luck – her troubles are firmly in the past, after all. But, as more creepy things start to happen, she becomes convinced she’s being targeted. As the frightening events escalate, Jess is certain someone she thought she’d left behind has finally caught up with her – and they want revenge. But who? And just how far will they go to push her over the edge and into oblivion?

I have one major point I’d like to raise first before going on to my review; there is a fair amount of talk regarding domestic abuse, rape and miscarriages throughout this book, and the main theme which comes to light as the story progresses is gaslighting. I feel that this book, and all books of this nature, really need to come with a warning because I very nearly didn’t continue reading because of this and it really caught me unawares and made me feel quite triggered and distressed reading it.

But now that I have that off my chest, I can loudly and roundly say I read 95% of this book in one day! The characters at first irked me though, because frankly I’ve been “the newbie” in a town and workplace and I’ve never become that close and trusting with anyone the way Jess does in Here For You. So I felt that character and plot development moved way too fast to be realistic, however when reading the end I can plainly see why it was written in this way.

I really felt for the character of Jess, never ever liked Kevin and thought he was really odd and uncomfortable in his own skin and a pretty two dimensional character. Alex seemed a bit pushy at times but again this becomes clear as to why at the end. Tim on the other hand I had hoped was a real leaf-turner of a character but sadly not.

The ending was really happy though and I’m glad that Jess and Noah managed to stay together, although I’m not sure that’s something that would be allowed to happen in real life, but this is a work of fiction after all and a warm fuzzy ending was much needed.

If I had to rate this book out of 10, I’d give it a firm 7 and that’s purely because I feel the hook needed to come with a warning and that slightly more of a lead up was needed to Jess and Alex’s friendship.

I’d like to thank ZooLoo’s Book Tours for giving me a space on this blog tour and for arranging a digital copy of the book for me.

About the Author

Nora Valters grew up in the New Forest in the south of England and has lived in London, Manchester, Bournemouth, Oxford and Dubai.

She studied English Literature and Language at Oxford Brookes University before embarking on a career in marketing and copywriting. Her debut psychological thriller, Her Biggest Fan, was published in October 2020. Her second novel, Now You Know, came out in June 2021. She’s currently writing her third, which will be out soon. Nora loves to travel and has journeyed around the world. She enjoys exploring new places, painting, hiking, and is an avid reader. She’s also a bit obsessed with dogs. Nora writes psychological thrillers. Here For You will be her second novel published with Inkubator Books.

The Cat Who Saved Books~Sosuke Natsukawa

Natsuki Books was a tiny second-hand bookshop on the edge of town. Inside, towering shelves reached the ceiling, every one crammed full of wonderful books. Rintaro Natsuki loved this space that his grandfather had created. He spent many happy hours there, reading whatever he liked. It was the perfect refuge for a boy who tended to be something of a recluse. After the death of his grandfather, Rintaro is devastated and alone. It seems he will have to close the shop. Then, a talking tabby cat called Tiger appears and asks Rintaro for help. The cat needs a book lover to join him on a mission. This odd couple will go on three magical adventures to save books from people who have imprisoned, mistreated and betrayed them. Finally, there is one last rescue that Rintaro must attempt alone . . .

Second book of 2022 complete and it’s only the second week of January!

Where do I start with The Cat Who Saved Books? A few months back while hitting a popular online bookshop for some much needed retail therapy, I came across this title and thought to myself that it would be a lovely read; I like cats and I like books so clearly would be a good choice. I read the blurb and figured if it’s an adult book with a talking tabby cat as a character, then that’s a book I seriously need in my life! And I’m wasn’t disappointed in the slightest!

Standing at 217 pages it’s a small book but there are plenty of sentences and paragraphs which have a massive impact on the reader and the characters are whimsical but so very strong in personality!

I adore how Tiger the talking tabby cat pops up one day in Rintaro’s hour of need (in my view Rintaro doesn’t know it’s his hour of need but as I got toward the end of the book it hit me that he really needed help from the cat rather than the cat needing help from him) and really brings Rantaro in to his own skin, so to speak, and takes him on this fantastical adventure that only someone with a life long love for books could possibly feel the true meaning of.

For me, this was the perfect short read to break up my habit of crime thrillers and I can’t rave about it enough! I’d give it a full on 10/10 and whenever I picked it up to read and Tiger came along, I heard Eddie Izzard’s voice in my head for the whole of his narrative! because it’s a translated book there’s use of Japanese words and culture throughout the translation giving it a truly original and cultural feel.

Sosuke Natsukawa is a doctor in Nagano, Japan. His first book Kamisama No Karute (‘God’s Medical Records’) won the Shogakukan Fiction Prize and received second prize at the Japan Bookseller Awards. It sold over 1.5 million copies and was adapted into a film in Japan.

The Shape of Darkness~Laura Purcell

Day 5 of 2022 and I have finished my first book (no one needs to know I started it mid December though! Our secret!)!

I have been a fan of Purcell’s since I was loaned a copy of The Silent Companions back in 2017 and that was the second book to ever give me nightmares! So needless to say, I knew all the titles that would follow would come with an eery plot! And The Shape of Darkness didn’t fail!

The twists and turns in this book were incredible! I have to admit that as much as I liked reading Bone China, it felt as if Purcell had been in a rush to finish it in order to go on to a new idea (the same sort of feeling I get with some Stephen King novels) and felt like she had grown bored of her characters, so the final chapter left me a little deflated somehow, but this was the opposite! For me, it was as if she was back launching herself high above her original standard. I loved every second of her latest title!

Admittedly it took me longer that I would have liked to get though this book and I have Covid-19 to thank for that, but once I had hit the half way point I was off! I read obsessively in the nights in bed until my eyes were gritty and I was half asleep!

The plot is a woman believes her clients are being murdered and seeks guidance from a young spirit medium, with the added stress of looking after her young nephew and elderly mother as well as her own health being vulnerable. But all is not as it seems and this is where it becomes incredibly interesting!

I thought that maybe Constance was alive after all and taunting Agnes, and I also thought that it was Montague at one point and bounced between these two theories for such a long time! There were two incredible plot twists at the end and I couldn’t believe what I had read! It took me re-reading the final pages three times to let it sink in-and I still have so many questions!

Honestly The Colour of Darkness is worth the read! I wasn’t sure if I found it difficult at first because of being unwell and tired or because it’s a historical fiction or even both, but I’m so glad I stuck with it because it shows that Purcell is still hitting the mark with her plots and characters!

About The Author

Laura Purcell is a former bookseller living in Colchester, Essex with her husband and pet guinea pigs. She began her career with two historical novels about the Hanoverian monarchs, Queen of Bedlam and Mistress of the Court.

Her first Gothic novel The Silent Companions was a Radio 2 Book Club pick, was selected for the Zoe Ball ITV Book Club and was the winner of the Thumping Good Read Award. Her other Gothic titles include The Corset, Bone China and The Shape of Darkness.

In the USA Laura is published by Penguin Books, where The Corset is titled The Poison Thread and Bone China is called The House of Whispers-Which led me to get overly excited thinking there were two more books of hers I had yet to read! Her new title Something Wicked is due for release in August 2022 and available to pre-order now.

The New Friends~Daniel Hurst

We all go on holiday and at some point get chatting to people in the hotel bar or plane, occasionally we may have drinks with them and very occasionally we may stay in touch for a short amount of time after we’re home. But imagine if the couple you have drinks with while abroad on holiday, and stay in touch with afterwards, actually con you out of thousands of pounds of your hard earned savings?

That is exactly what happens in Daniel Hurst’s latest book “The New Friends”. Hard-working and down to earth couple Becky and Jamie spend an evening in Spain with Phil and Mel, a couple their age who are retired and seem to have it all. Becky and Jamie feel so lucky when they return back home to England and the wonderful Phil and Mel are so eager to meet their new friends! However, Phil and Mel aren’t all they appear to be, which leaves Jamie and Becky devastated and broke with a baby on the way.

Can Jamie and Becky ever get their money back? Will the loss of all their money drive a wedge between them? Will Mel be able to give them the answers they’re so desperate for?

Each chapter is from a different narrative, which was written so well it flowed perfectly and made for easy reading and not difficult to follow at all. The twists and turns were incredible and I really felt so angered by the scam that saw Jamie and Becky lose their money and put their marriage at risk-at one point I was so enraged I didn’t think I could actually go back to the book! It’s a frightening read when you know that in this day and age nothing is really as innocent as it seems and people do fall victim to these awful scams and the consequences are truly devastating. But I persevered and read right through to the end in a matter of days! The ending was so good! I loved how it (almost) all came together!

About the Author

Daniel Hurst was born in the northwest of England, a part of the world famous for its comedians, pasties and terrible weather. He has been employed in several glamorous roles in his lifetime (his own description) including bartending, shelf stacking and procurement administration, all while based in some of the most exotic places on the planet, like Bolton, Preston and South London. Lucky Daniel.

Since following his lifelong passion for writing in 2020, he has amassed a loyal and devoted set of readers, and regularly has several books in the top 100 of the Psychological Thriller Charts on Amazon. He is currently writing the fictional 20 Minute Series alongside several standalone psychological thrillers, as well as his shopping list for Asda. His novels (but not the shopping list!) are available via Inkubator Books publishing house and can be found mostly on Amazon with some really great deals on Kindle.

Hope and Sanctuary~Neet Neilson

Hope rescues intensive farming animals from slaughter among many others in her growing animal sanctuary, but finds herself struggling to make ends meet. Compounded by frequent flooding, a constant drain on her resources, as well as the risk it poses to her animals, Hope puts out a desperate plea on national television for help.

Grant Marshall comes to her rescue, but there’s a catch. He’s a farmer – and Hope loathes farmers.

Grant offers Hope everything she could ever desire for her sanctuary, leaving her with a dilemma – does she go against her morals and beliefs to accept his charity or will she accept his challenge that he can convince her that he is a compassionate man – in more ways than one?

I jumped at the chance to be on this blog tour because I love animals and I’m secretly a sucker for a little romance (don’t tell-I’ve got a reputation to uphold!) it’s a nice small read with 173 pages so perfect to quickly get lost in and then be found by reality (in my case, kids, puppies, cats and work!) it’s a lovely size book to have in your bag or by the side of the bath because it’s a nice unwind-and-chill-for-few-minutes read, I wasn’t able to read it cover to cover as quickly as I’d have liked because of being unwell and in high demand with work (supply work-when you’re needed, you’re really needed!) which is my review was up and running later in the day that normal.

Neilson wrote some likeable characters, she delved in to their histories and personalities quickly, which saved for a lot time, and when it came to pages of passion, she went right in for the kill-not so much Fifty Shades of Hope but some very heated moments that might to be a good idea to read if you’re around people and blush quite easily! They were well written and not over the top either- very much what I look for in romance novels of this calibre.

I loved Hope and ached for her losses and truly just wanted that happily ever after for her-and for Grant too. I was so pleased when Neilson decided to throw these two a lifeline and give them what they both needed after all the trauma and heartache endured. It was a lovely book and although cheesy in places, it was perfectly proportioned so as not to induce an eye roll.

About the Author

Neet has been a big fan of romance novels since she was a teen, borrowing books from her mother’s bookcase. Her love of reading laid the foundation for an interest in writing short stories, poems, songs, screenplays, stage plays and novels. Her background in nursing, lecturing and research has been invaluable when establishing a sound knowledge base for her writing, while her emotions are the driving force behind her work. Her love for animals is her greatest passion.

All royalties from Neilson’s book Hope and Sanctuary will go to Glendrick Roost Animal Welfare Centre , registered charity number SCO36986

Big thank you to Zoe O’Farrell for arranging a spot for me on this blog tour and to Dark Edge Press for sending me a physical copy of this book.

The Girl Downstairs~Ian Maitland

Well bloody hell! What a book!

I’ve never opened a review with a swear word but this title has literally blown me away! I couldn’t stop reading it (and trust me when I say that it’s been a while since that happened!) and the twists were phenomenal!

Let’s start with the plot; a lonely man takes in homeless girls when they need it the most. Nothing seems too sinister, until you realise this book is written by a thriller writer known for his guts and gore narrative and that the main character is really struggling with mental health difficulties.

As the plot thickens you see the lead character struggle with sleep, self regulation and balancing of emotions and as a reader you try to put together the pieces of the puzzle in front of you which are laid out with snippets of what can only be described as dark poetry. There’s talks of “being inside” and a lot of death and pain, which made me think that he had been in prison and perhaps was a criminal who had escalated in to a serial killer.and that rather than helping vulnerable women he was preying on them.

The plot actually develops over several twists and turns and becomes a true game of cat and mouse and toward the end, you have literally no idea who is the cat and who is the unfortunate mouse.

Honestly I thought the second to last chapter was going to be a happily ever after and hoped that all my instincts had been wrong, as they had been previously, but it turns out the last chapter totally changed everything. It was intense!

The Girl Downstairs is truly a magnificent read and I can’t believe I haven’t come across Maitland’s books before! I’m intrigued to follow him as an author and I really enjoyed his writing style and the characters he creates. Well worth a read!

About the Author

Iain Maitland is the author of three previous psych thrillers, The Scribbler (2020), Mr Todd’s Reckoning (2019) and Sweet William (2017), all published by Contraband, an imprint of Saraband. Mr Todd’s Reckoning is coming to the big screen in 2023. Iain is also the author of two memoirs, Dear Michael, Love Dad (Hodder, 2016), a book of letters written to his eldest son who experienced depression and anorexia, and (co-authored with Michael) Out Of The Madhouse (Jessica Kingsley, 2018). He is also an Ambassador for Stem4, the teenage mental health charity. He talks regularly about mental health issues in schools and colleges and workplaces.