#BlogTour #Review: A Modern Family by Helga Flatland #AModernFamily @OrendaBooks @AnneCarter #ContemporaryFiction

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I’ve yet to meet an Orenda Book that I didn’t love, so when A Modern Family came around I was only a little hesitant that it fell outside of my typical preferred genres. True to form, this baby quietly delivered a heavy punch that left me questioning why I insist on putting my reading preferences into tidy little boxes, because clearly that type of behavior benefits no one. Deeply emotional and undeniably complex A Modern Family explores the deceptive simplicity of navigating everyday life. While it may lack the action that I typically crave in my literary escapes it has a powerful impact and an emotional magnetism that will leave you shattered – an absolute must read!


A Modern Family CoverTitle: A Modern Family

Author: Helga Flatland

Publisher: Orenda Books

Publication Date: June 21, 2019

Genre: Fiction, Contemporary Fiction, Literary Fiction

Themes: Family, Relationships

Features: N/A


My Rating: 4.5/ 5


Synopsis

When Liv, Ellen and Håkon, along with their partners and children, arrive in Rome to celebrate their father’s seventieth birthday, a quiet earthquake occurs: their parents have decided to divorce.

Shocked and disbelieving, the siblings try to come to terms with their parents’ decision as it echoes through the homes they have built for themselves, and forces them to reconstruct the shared narrative of their childhood and family history.

A bittersweet novel of regret, relationships and rare psychological insights, A Modern Family encourages us to look at the people closest to us a little more carefully, and ultimately reveals that it’s never too late for change…


My Review

First, I must offer my apologies. As the vast majority of the tours I take part in are based out of the UK, I always schedule my posts well in advance in order to avoid the Canadian lull in online traffic. Yet, when I took a quick coffee at work to check the blog and do the media thing, I was horrified to discover that WordPress had failed to publish my scheduled post – and not just that, but that the publish feature was not cooperating with my phone either. Cue the panic! Especially since I adored this book and was so excited to share the book love. It may have had to wait until my lunch break, but I am none the less excited to share this review!

When what starts out as family vacation rapidly transforms into an announcement that parents Sverre and Torill are ending their nearly 40 years of marriage, their grown children Liv, Ellen, and Hakon are forced to reconsider their perceptions and relations from perspectives that were previously unfathomable. Told in split narrative between the children, this novel highlights how a singular event can affect disparate individuals so differently as a result of their long-held perceptions and lived experiences. It brings to the forefront the reality the stark contrast of personal assessment against outward appearances, and the reality that our carefully constructed facades rarely reflect our inner truths.

I was certainly more drawn to the experiences of Liv and Ellen, and found both of their emotions, memories, and shared experiences to be deeply touching and heartfelt. Everything from their sibling rivalries to Ellen’s envy of her older sister rang true, and the result was a deeply relatable and touching experience. You feel every ounce of love, jealousy, sadness, hope and despair as if the emotions were passed through a resonating chamber and I walked away feeling as though I had been shaken to my core. This feeling was only heightened by Liv’s painful internalization of her emotions and the ensuing frustration the result from her inability to understand that her process was one unto herself and therefore impossible for her loved ones to grapple with. Now add into the fact that Liv had been using her parents’ relationship as a barometer for her own success as a mother and wife, and you can’t help but sympathize as she struggles to make sense of her life.

Ellen on the other hand, is much less guarded in her emotions, and the depth of her response will leave you bereft. When combined with her persistent struggles to have a baby, her grief over the family breakdown is raw, and at times, insurmountable. Personally, I found her passages the most difficult to read as she struggled with her personal demons, constructed isolation, and desperate need for support from family entrenched in their own complicated processes.

And yet, the bonds that tie and the depth of the love shared between the siblings really shines through – and so too does the persistence of suspicion and long-held grudges that are inevitably carried over from our younger years. As a result, I felt that the characters were beautifully individual, well thought out, relatable and believable. This story is not full of action in the truest sense of the word but the impact is nonetheless profound. It focuses on individual experiences, emotions, and the psychology of the situation in a way that will leave you breathless and bereft. Add into the equation the beautiful poetic prose of Flatland’s and you have an absolute winner.

Read it my friends, your summer TBR will thank you.


About The Author

Helga Author PicHelga Flatland is already one of Norway’s most awarded and widely read authors. Born in Telemark, Norway, in 1984, she made her literary debut in 2010 with the novel Stay If You Can, Leave If You Must, for which she was awarded the Tarjei Vesaas’ First Book Prize. She has written four novels and a children’s book and has won several other literary awards. Her fifth novel, A Modern Family, was published to wide acclaim in Norway in August 2017, and was a number-one bestseller. The rights have subsequently been sold across Europe and the novel has sold more than 100,000 copies.


Many thanks to Anne Carter at Orenda Books for inviting me to join in this tour and for providing a copy in exchange for an honest review.

 

 

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#BlogTour #Review: The Librarian of Auschwitz by #HistoricalFiction #WWIIFiction

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Today I am beyond thrilled to be taking part in the Blog Tour for The Librarian of Auschwitz by Antonio ItrubeThis exceptional work of historical fiction brings to life the sheer will of a young Jewish girl, her love for books, and an infectious desire to transform fear into survival. It is one of the best WWII fiction novels I’ve read in a goof long while, and I have no doubt that this baby is going to stay on my keep shelf for many, many years to come.


LibrarianTitle: The Librarian of Auschwitz

Author: Antonio Iturbe

Translator: Lilit Zekulin Thwaites

Publisher: Ebury Digital

Publication Date: April 4, 2019

Genre: Fiction, Historical Fiction, WWII Fiction

Themes: Friendship, Family, Relationships, WWII, Survival, the Holocaust

Features: Author’s Notes


My Rating: 5/ 5


Synopsis

From goodreads…

For readers of The Tattooist of Auschwitz and The Choice: this is the story of the smallest library in the world – and the most dangerous.

‘It wasn’t an extensive library. In fact, it consisted of eight books and some of them were in poor condition. But they were books. In this incredibly dark place, they were a reminder of less sombre times, when words rang out more loudly than machine guns…’

Fourteen-year-old Dita is one of the many imprisoned by the Nazis at Auschwitz. Taken, along with her mother and father, from the Terezín ghetto in Prague, Dita is adjusting to the constant terror that is life in the camp. When Jewish leader Freddy Hirsch asks Dita to take charge of the eight precious books the prisoners have managed to smuggle past the guards, she agrees. And so Dita becomes the secret librarian of Auschwitz, responsible for the safekeeping of the small collection of titles, as well as the ‘living books’ – prisoners of Auschwitz who know certain books so well, they too can be ‘borrowed’ to educate the children in the camp.

But books are extremely dangerous. They make people think. And nowhere are they more dangerous than in Block 31 of Auschwitz, the children’s block, where the slightest transgression can result in execution, no matter how young the transgressor…


My Review

I loved this book.

I mean, I may have bawled my face off more times than I care to admit while I was reading it, but I loved this book.

I appreciated how right from the get-go that Itrube established that this book is a work of fiction, and as such cannot be read as fact. But also, how he made it clear that this particular work of fiction is inspired by real people, real events, and real suffering. It’s heartbreaking, uncomfortable, profound, and above all it’s undeniably inspiring. As a result I found the horrors depicted on the pages easier to pallet than pure fact, whist maintaining a feeling that every moment was grounded in reality.

Now, being a librarian I like me some research. And the depth of the research that went into The Librarian of Auschwitz was evident from the outset. With the scenes so painstakingly crafted as to engender dread, the hunger to set my tummy rumbling, and the tenderness to remind us that humanity can still exist in inhuman conditions I was completely swept away. And through it all, Block 31 remains a relief from the horrors of Auschwitz, a balm against the war, and a place where children get to be children if even just for a little while longer. That is not to say that the family camp and the school were naive to their situations or had any delusions about their situation, but just that it provided few beautiful hours of respite every day.

And as a fellow book lover, I felt an immediate connection to Dita and the passion that she held for her little library. I felt her love for the book as an object of escape, as person who could bring a story to life, as a path to enlightenment, and as vehicle for resistance in it’s simplest form. And through it all the power of words, of stories, remains a constant theme reminding us of why so many tyrants have sought to burn books and ban knowledge in their quests for power. In return for the hope, joy, and distraction that these books provide Dita lavishes them with the love and care that any being would need to survive in an extermination camp.

But the part that I loved above all else was how books were the balms to every evil that befell the family camp in BIIb. Mass liquidation? Tell a story. Can’t celebrate passover? Tell many stories. Caught in a living hell where surviving just one more day is a victory? Tell many stories, day after day, after day. Do not let them die. Seek more stories, more books, more living libraries, and spread ALL of the words.

It broke my heart, however, to follow all of the disparate characters through their painfully real experiences and to their ends. From the stoic yet tragic optimism and dedication of Freddy Hirsch to the desperation and disillusionment of Rudi Rosenberg, The Librarian of Auschwitz is equal parts horror and hope. The characters provide a balance to one another with Leisl’s silence countering Dita’s quick wit, Morgenstern’s lightheartedness to Hirsch’s determination, and the innocent joy of the children to the oppressive weight carried by their parents.

Carefully crafted, expertly written and beautifully translated I would recommend The Librarian of Auschwitz to just about anyone. It is real and it is horrible, and yet it remains human and passionate and pure of heart. I love that love found a way to flourish in a living hell, that families found a way to stay loyal and strong, and that for once a few books get to stand alongside the heroes of the story.

Read it book lovers. This baby earns every bit of it’s 5 stars.


Biography

Antonio Iturbe lives in Spain, where he is both a novelist and a journalist. In researching The Librarian of Auschwitz, he interviewed Dita Kraus, the real-life librarian of Auschwitz. Lilit Zekulin Thwaites is an award-winning literary translator. After thirty years as an academic at La Trobe University in Australia, she retired from teaching and now focuses primarily on her ongoing translation and research projects. Dita Kraus was born in Prague. In 1942, when Dita was thirteen years old , she and her parents were deported to Ghetto Theresienstadt and later to Auschwitz,. Neither of Dita’s parents survived. After the war Dita married the author Otto B. Kraus. They emigrated to Israel in 1949, where they both worked as teachers They had three children. Since Otto’s death in 2000 , Dita lives alone in Netanya. She has four grandchildren and four great grandchildren. Despite the horrors of the concentration camps, Dita has kept her positive approach to life.


Many thanks to Tracy Fenton at Compulsive Readers for inviting me to join in this tour.

 

#BlogTour #Review: Born Bad by Heather Burnside @heatherbwriter @aria_fiction

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Today I am thrilled to be taking part in the blog tour for Born Bad by Heather Burnside. The first book in the gritty Manchester Trilogy, this baby will transport you into 80s gangland, tug at your heartstrings, and stoke the fires of rage all in a matter of pages. If you like complex family dramas with a healthy does of crime, this is an absolute must read.


Book cover-2Title: Born Bad

Author: Heather Burnside

Publisher: Aria Press

Publication Date: July 1, 2017

Genre: Fiction, Crime Fiction, Gangland Lit

Themes: Friendship, Family, Relationships, Crime

Features: N/A


My Rating: 4/ 5


Synopsis

Brother and sister Peter and Adele Robinson never stood a chance. Dragged up by an alcoholic, violent father, and a weak, beaten mother, their childhood in Manchester only prepared them for a life of crime and struggle. But Adele is determined to break the mould. She studies hard at school and, inspired by her beloved grandmother Joyce, she finally makes a successful life for herself on her own.

Peter is not so lucky. Getting more and more immersed in the murky world of crime and gangs, his close bonds with Adele gradually loosen until they look set to break altogether.

But old habits die hard, and one devastating night, Adele is forced to confront her violent past. Dragged back into her worst nightmares, there’s only one person she can turn to when her life is on the line – her brother Peter. After all, blood is thicker than water…


My Review

I don’t normally enjoy family dramas, but Born Bad managed to break through my crusty outer shell and niggle it’s way into my heart. Within the first few pages I was willing to hand over all of my sympathy to Adele and her mother, my screw-you spirit to Peter, and my unfettered disdain towards Tommy. And the best part was that I never once felt as though their stories were tiresome.

I appreciated Adele’s grit and determination when it came to rising above her circumstances, and yet she embodied everything that can be read into the nature versus nurture argument. My heart broke a little every time she got into a fight at school or had a row with a boyfriend, and even more so whenever she lost patience with her mother. Regardless, Adele’s experiences really caused me to think critically about how often we take the time to be with our extended families, how close we are with our siblings, and the ways in which we talk to our parents.

I was a little repulsed by Peter at the start but by the end of the book my opinions of him were completely changed. And the best part was that I never once felt pity for him. Despite the horrid things that Peter endured at the hands of both his father and a particularly judgemental community, he remained strong (okay. maybe spiteful is the right word) and always managed to make the best of his situation. It seemed natural that he not only fell into the world of crime but also that he excelled at it.

As crappy as many of the situations and circumstances were, every page oozed realism and believability as the Robinson family was painstakingly relatable. From Tommy’s drinking to Peter’s living rough in a slum, it hurts to know that these are every day occurrences for a great many people. Now, that’s not to say that growing up in a dysfunctional and violent family is any excuse for resorting to a life of crime, but it certainly makes all of their decisions understandable.

I will say though, that given the extensive focus on the Robinson family, with only a few forays in Peter’s life crime, that Born Bad is the foundational novel for the crime series that follows. It’s deep, gritty, and uncomfortable in all of the best ways. It pulls you in, makes you think, and spits you out the other side raw and emotional.

If you like a solid series with painfully real characters, I highly recommend Born Bad and the Manchester Trilogy. Read it crime lovers, and get a closer look at those mitigating circumstances!


About The Author

Heather Burnside

Heather Burnside spent her teenage years on one of the toughest estates in Manchester and she draws heavily on this background as the setting for many of her novels. After taking a career break to raise two children Heather enrolled on a creative writing course. Heather now works full-time on her novels from her home in Manchester, which she shares with her two grown-up children.

 Follow Heather:

Twitter: @heatherbwriter

Facebook: @HeatherBurnsideAuthor


Buy links:

Amazon: https://amzn.to/2TzpmbX

Kobo: http://bit.ly/2tFvKih

Google Play: http://bit.ly/2J06zCB

iBooks: https://apple.co/2IX25wo

Follow Aria

Website: http://www.ariafiction.com

Twitter: @aria_fiction

Facebook: @ariafiction

Instagram: @ariafiction


Many thanks to Victoria Joss at Aria Fiction for inviting me to join in this tour and for providing a copy in exchange for an honest review.

 

#ARC #Review: The Leaden Heart by Chris Nickson @ChrisNickson2 @severnhouse #HistoricalFiction

Today I am delighted to be sharing a review for Chris Nickson’s latest instalment in the Tom Harper Mystery series, The Leaden Heart. There is simply not enough space to cover all the good that I have to say about this baby. It’s the perfect blend of a period police procedural, subtle feminist undertones, and intricate character dynamics. It’s punchy, quick paced, and the perfect read for when that quintessentially Canadian spring snow storm leaves you trapped inside for the evening.


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Title: The Leaden Heart

Author: Chris Nickson

Publisher: Severn House

Expected Publication Date: July 1, 2019 (USA)

Genre: Historical Fiction, Women’s Fiction, Police Procedural

Themes: Murder, Crime, White Collar Crime, Family, Women’s Suffrage

Features: N/A


My Rating: 5/5


Synopsis

Leeds, England. July, 1899. The hot summer has been fairly quiet for Detective Superintendent Tom Harper and his squad, until a daring burglary occurs at an expensive Leeds address. Then his friend and former colleague, Inspector Billy Reed, asks for his help. Billy’s brother, Charlie, a shopkeeper, has committed suicide. Going through Charlie’s papers, Billy discovers crippling rent rises demanded by his new landlord. Could these have driven him to his death? As Harper investigates, he uncovers a web of intimidation and corruption that leads back to the mysterious North Leeds Company. Who is pulling the strings behind the scenes and bringing a new kind of misery and violence to the people of Leeds? Harper is determined to unmask the culprits, but how much blood will be shed as he tries?


Review 

Okay. I’ve been in love with Chris Nickson’s writing ever since I had the pleasure of participating in the blog tour for The Tin God, so I will give you the head’s up now that I am very, very biased in writing this review! I mean, you (or maybe just I) gotta love when strong, feminist fiction features the kind of swoon-worthy and supportive male leads seen in Tom Harper and Billy Reed. There’s nothing steamier than a strong man who dotes on their child, is active in their upbringing, and says to their wife not only are you a successful business owner but I’mma gonna support you in all your endeavours even when society wants nothing more than to hold you down. It seriously makes my ovaries hurt.

Give me more.

Now that I’ve got the mushy-gushy swooning aside, let’s talk about the action. The crimes in Harper’s latest mystery are a departure from what we’ve seen before, with an introduction to white collar crime and political corruption. I loved the mental challenge of following the paper trail, and the frustration of knowing the criminal without having the evidence to pursue them. The addition of the wealthy elite and the legal loopholes throwing up roadblocks at every opportunity had me cursing in frustration, my hackles up every time the councillors tried to pressure Tom at work, and drove me over the edge when those political manipulations bled over into Annabelle’s work with the Guardians.

But this baby isn’t all paper trails and clandestine meetings in smoky pubs, there’s a juicy sub-plot filled with murders, robberies, and good old-fashioned police work. Deeply immersed in gangland brutality and aided by a quirky coroner, these gritty crimes added a health dose of action to an otherwise heady case. Although it broke my heart that these murders revolved around Billy Reed’s family, taking the lives of both his brother and sister-in-law, further straining the tenuous start to a repaired relationship between Harper and Reed.

I loved the dynamic in Millgarth as well. With everyone working together as a team, officers having each other’s backs regardless of their ranks, and a willingness to acknowledge and play to each man’s individual strengths and aptitudes. I appreciated Ash’s quick mind, Sission’s geeky love of Latin, and Crossley’s running interference to protect everyone from the town councillors. I felt Tom’s pain as a Superintendent as the Boer War approached, and the reality of having to replace his men with volunteers while the city’s at it’s most vulnerable.

And Annabelle’s arc can’t go unmentioned either. It was fun to follow her word as a Poor Law Guardian after her landmark election, and simultaneously disheartening to witness her struggle as a woman making waves in man’s world. It’s always heartbreaking to see someone wanting to make a difference, but not knowing how, and even more so when those that are meant to be engaged in fixing the problem aren’t even willing to have the conversation. And it was timely too, as even though Annabelle’s story highlights the still persistent disparity between policy and practice when it comes to aiding those in need.

Beautifully written and packed with period details, Nickson will draw you in and leave you wanting more. Full of twists, turns, and bumps in the road The Leaden Heart is a carefully crafted balance between thrilling crime and interpersonal drama. I’m excited to see what comes next for the Harper, the team at Millgarth, and especially for Annabelle and her fight to change world.

Read it book lovers, this baby is fantastic!


Author Information 

cn021Chris Nickson has written since he was a boy growing up in Leeds, starting with a three-paragraph school essay telling a tale of bomb disposal when he was 11. That brought the revelation that he enjoyed telling stories, and then more stories, teenage poetry, and music, as both a bassist and then a singer-songwriter-guitarist.

Chris spent 30 years living in the US, playing in bands and writing. He’s made a living as a writer since 1994. Much of his work has been music journalism, combining the twin passions of music and writing, specialising in world and roots music. His reviews and features are published in print and online, notably with fRoots, Sing Out!, emusic.com, and allmusic.com. He’s also the author of The NPR Casual Listener’s Guide to World Music.

Chris has also published 28 other non-fiction books, most of them quickie biographies, and has had a pair of one act plays staged in Seattle. His short fiction has appeared in several small magazines, and in the anthology Criminal Tendencies. A collection of his short Leeds fiction appeared under the title, Leeds, The Biography.

He moved back to the UK in 2005. The Broken Token was published by Creme de la Crime in 2010. The second of the Leeds novels featuring Richard Nottingham appeared in hardback in May 2011 with the third and fourth (The Constant Lovers and Come the Fear) appearing in 2012. The fifth and six in the series (At the Dying of the Year and Fair and Tender Ladies) arrived in 2013. The seventh novel, Free From All Danger, will appear in October 2017, Cold Cruel Winter was named one of the Best Mysteries of the Year in 2011 by Library Journal, and the audio book of The Broken Token was one of the Independent on Sunday’s Audiobooks of 2012.

Emerald City and West City Blues, two books featuring Seattle music journalist Laura Benton, are available on ebook and audiobook.

The Crooked Spire is set in Chesterfield in 1361 and can be found in paperback and ebook, as can the sequel, The Saltergate Psalter. The final volume in the trilogy, The Holywell Dead, will appear in 2017.

A series set in Leeds in the 1890s features Detective Inspector Tom Harper. Gods of Gold is the first volume, followed by Two Bronze Pennies, Skin Like Silver, The Iron Water, and On Copper Street. The Tin God is scheduled for publication in May 2017.

Dark Briggate Blues is a 1950s noir, with enquiry agent Dan Markham and also taking place in Leeds, as does The New Eastgate Swing, the second volume to feature Markham.

Lottie Armstrong, one of the first policewomen in Leeds, was the heroine of Modern Crimes, set in 1924. She reappears 20 years later in The Year of the Gun.

Chris is also the author of Solid Air – The Life of John Martyn. This appeared as an ebook and print on demand in June 2011, along with John’s posthumous album and a tribute CD that features many major names.

Authors Links:

Web site: https://chrisnickson.co.uk/

Twitter: @ChrisNickson2

Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/12044.Chris_Nickson

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/chrisnicksonwriter/

#BlogTour #Review: Death Before Coffee by Desmond P. Ryan @BakerPromo @RealDesmondRyan

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Today I am delighted to be taking part in the blog tour for Canadian crime fiction writer Desmond P. Ryan’s second novel Death Before Coffee. Picking up thirteen years after the death of his partner Sal, Mike O’Shea is back at it chasing down leads and raising hell in Toronto. Just as gritty and just as real as 10-33 Assist PC, this is an outstanding sequel and an intensely gripping read.


10-33AssistPC_FINAL224pgsTitle: Death Before Coffee

Author: Desmond P. Ryan

Publisher: Copper Press Publishing

Publication Date: February 8, 2019

Genre: Fiction, Crime Fiction, Police Procedural

Themes: Friendship, Relationships, Human Trafficking, Crime

Features: N/A


My Rating: 4.5/ 5


Synopsis

By 2:27 on a Thursday afternoon, the one-legged man from Room 8 at 147 Loxitor Avenue has been beaten to death with a lead pipe. Twenty-eight minutes later, Detective Mike O’Shea is testifying in a stuffy courtroom, unaware that, within an hour, he will be standing in an alleyway littered with beer cans and condoms while his new partner—the man who saved his life thirteen years ago—flicks bugs off of a battered corpse with a ballpoint pen. When a rogue undercover copper prematurely hauls in the prime suspect, Mike blows a fuse, resulting in an unlikely rapport developing between him and the lead homicide detective sergeant, a woman known for her stilettos and razor sharp investigative skills. At the end of his seventy-two-hour shift, three men are dead and Mike O’Shea is floating in and out of consciousness in an emergency room hallway, two women by his side. Death Before Coffee, the second book in the Mike O’Shea Crime Fiction Series, weaves a homicide investigation through the life of an inner-city police detective intent on balancing his responsibilities as a son, brother, and newly single father with his sworn oath of duty. When faced with death, Mike is forced to make decisions that stir up old memories, compelling him to confront his demons while fighting the good fight.


My Review

I have a confession.

Okay, maybe not the kind that needs to be recorded and documented but I feel it’s only fair to get it out in the open – I am typing this review rather heavily medicated for what seems to be the never-ending-February-head-cold and am worried that this may not be my best piece of writing. Please be kind when it comes to any spelling and grammar mistakes, as I am not catching things the way I normally do!

But on to the book which is fabulous, Canadian, and intensely action packed.

All of the things that I loved in Ryan’s first novel lived on in the second, and it was both refreshing and incredibly sad to see that Mike hadn’t walked away from Sal’s murder scott free. Too often I read crime fiction and series where the lead investigator witnesses tragedy after tragedy and seems to ruck on mentally unscathed – but that is not the case with Michael O’Shea. He’s broken, irreparably damaged, and incredibly real. He has flashbacks, suffers from PTSD, generally denies the reality that he needs some professional help, and yet manages to be stubborn and callous in the most endearing way possible.

I must admit though, I did not expect traffic man Ron Roberts to wind up as Mike’s partner, and loved how harshly their personalities clashed with one another. They were automatic chemistry, tension, and humour all rolled into one. And yet, I can see these two odd ducks – the living legend and the rules & regs man – forming a bond and partnership that will carry them through some serious cases and personal hard times. Of course, it makes sense that those involved in Sal’s open case would eventually gravitate back towards one another, and I simply can’t wait to see where this cold case goes given the whoppers that were dropped in the final pages. I mean – Oh. My. Giddy. Goodness. Who doesn’t love a little dirty-cop drama? And now we have to sit patiently for the next instalment to be released!

Impatience aside, this review would not be complete without some serious attention to Detective Sergeant Amanda Black. I am totally in love with this boss lady. Everyone might call her a bitch but she is seriously bad-ass! Driven, successful, damn good at her job and a family lady to boot, she sets the bar pretty high when it comes life goals. I absolutely adored her laser-vision attention to detail, ability to assess and manage a team, and especially her lady-balls when it came to dealing with condescension, insubordination, and the persistent gender gap in her given profession. She’s the perfect balance to Mike’s get ’em cowboy ways and Ron’s by the book approach, injecting a little femininity and a healthy dose of sarcasm into some seriously heavy police work. We need more ladies like her in fiction AND the real world. Period.

And let’s to forget the structure of the book itself. I loved how it was broken up into tightly packed segments delineated by date and time. It gave the feeling of reading through a police report while simultaneously drawing you into the action. It created this sense of everything moving both incredibly fast and unbearably slow at the same time, much the same way I imagine first 48 hours following a major crime feels to the investigating team. It allowed for intense focus on key moments as well as breaks in time to advance the plot while maintaining a seamless and easy to read presentation.

The case was tantalizing, and presented plenty of obstacles to ramp up the drama and keep the pages turning. I felt for the officers running the gauntlet with the media vultures, and found myself steaming with rage when officers went out of their way to disobey, or worse, looked like they might be dirty and on the take. I appreciated the power dynamics, the distinctly different units that have to converge to work on a case, and the need to balance safety with legitimacy when approaching any serious situation. The result was incredibly realistic and believable.

Would I recommend this book? In a heart beat! And I’m not just saying that because I’m a huge advocate for Canadian content, I’m saying it because this baby packs a serious punch and is shaping up to be an awesome series. Death Before Coffee is gritty, raw, and heartbreakingly real. It hits close to home, and makes you consider some pretty serious issues in an unobtrusive way. Read it my fellow crime lovers, you won’t be disappointed.


About The Author

thumbnail_img_1467For almost thirty years, Desmond P. Ryan began every day of his working life with either a victim waiting in a hospital emergency room, or a call to a street corner or a blood-soaked room where someone had been left for dead. Murder, assaults on a level that defied humanity, sexual violations intended to demean, shame, and haunt the individuals who were no more than objects to the offenders: all in a day’s work.

It was exhilarating, exhausting, and often heartbreaking.

As a Detective with the Toronto Police Service, Desmond P. Ryan wrote thousands of reports detailing the people, places, and events that led up to the moment he came along. He investigated the crimes and wrote synopses for guilty pleas detailing the circumstances that brought the accused individuals before the Courts. He also wrote a number of files to have individuals deemed either Not Criminally Responsible due to mental incapacity, or Dangerous Offenders to be held in custody indefinitely.

Now, as a retired investigator with three decades of research opportunities under his belt, Desmond P. Ryan writes crime fiction.

Real Detective. Real Crime. Fiction.


Many thanks to Shell Baker at Baker’s Blog Tours and Promos for inviting me to join in this tour and for providing a copy in exchange for an honest review.