The Birthday Carol Wyer Blog Tour

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Today it’s my turn on the blog tour which celebrates the publication of Carol Wyer’s THE BIRTHDAY, the first of a new series featuring DI Natalie Wood.

I blogged about the book when I first read it a couple of months ago and raved about it then. With the amount of books I read I would usually struggle to remember the plot of the book after that much time, and have to refer to the notes I made when I read it.

Not this time, I remember it as though I’d only finished it this weekend. It’s an original story that has introduced a great new character in Natalie Wood.

There was one thing in particular that struck me as showing how realistic this book was, and I mention it in my original blog. It’s how one of the characters is struck by the normality of a scene following a crime.

This just shows how much Carol Wyer knows about the people who investigate crime, and the thoughts and emotions they have.

It’s a great book and I am really looking forward to what faces DI Wood next

My Original Blog

2 years after she went missing the body of Ava Sawyer is found buried in the grounds of the Garden Centre she disappeared from during a birthday party.

DI Natalie Wood and her small team are tasked with finding answers the original team to investigate the disappearance didn’t.

But this is no ordinary missing persons/murder investigation. Now that the body has been found it acts as a catalyst for more crimes. More of the girls from the party start  to get killed and are left posed in public places.

The investigation very much becomes a race against time.

The team have to find a killer. There are so many suspects, each one looking like they could be the killer, but each of them ruled out as suspects.

Have the team missed the killer?

Natalie already blames herself for one child abduction and murder case, she worked on, being tragically unsuccessful. She wasn’t the boss on that investigation, but she is on this one.

Has she learnt from others mistakes?

The last case affected her mentally and emotionally. Can she hold it together through this case?

The characters in this book are just what you would expect to find in any police team. DI Wood is struggling to balance her work and personal life. How can she try to keep her marriage going and still conduct such a high profile and emotional case.

Her team are made up of a mix of characters who it are easy to associate with and I’m sure we will get to know as the series progresses. There are friendships and there is conflict, just like the real world.

The best thing about this story is the realism. Carol Wyer hits so many nails on the head with the observations she makes.

She brings to life the frustrations of a real investigation.

The amount of facts that come flooding in and need sorting.

Deciding on what takes priority, and the worry that the decision was wrong.

When is it right to send your team home for rest, when every minute is so vital and may literally mean the difference between life and death.

There is one passage in the book when Natalie is struck by the normality of ongoing life after a traumatic incident.

In my career the thing that always used to get into my head was the disrupted normality. A terrible fire in a bedroom that had claimed lives, yet breakfast places set in the unaffected kitchen downstairs. School coats, which would never be worn again, hanging over the backs of chairs.

Not many authors consider this, and even less describe the feelings and emotions so well. It is only a small passage in the book, but it shows the consideration that has been put into it.

This is the first book in a new series. I think it’s going to be stunning.

About Carol Wyer

Carol Wyer garnered a loyal following as an author of romantic comedies, and won The People’s Book Prize Award for non-fiction (2015). In 2017 she stepped from comedy to the “dark side” and embarked on a series of thrillers, featuring the popular DI Robyn Carter, which earned her recognition as a crime writer.

The Staffordshire-based writer now has more crime novels in the pipeline, although she can still sometimes be found performing her stand-up comedy routine Laugh While You Still Have Teeth.

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The Athens Assignment David Boyle

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I don’t usually do this, but I have held back on this review until I’d read the first book in the series, The Berlin Affair.

Why? Because from the start of The Athens Assignment I felt like I had started reading a really good story half way through. Both books together are just 240 pages, the length of a good book.

The Athens Affair is the story of Xanthe Schneider, a journalist for an American magazine, working in London in the early 1940’s at the height of the Blitz.

Xanthe is also a part time code breaker at Bletchley Park, and occasional agent working in occupied Europe.

The story is very much of the type I used to read as a young lad in the Commando Books or Warlord Comics, except these stories are written in an adult manner.

The Athens Assignment sees Xanthe returning to Europe, this time to Greece, in an attempt to help the British Forces locate and destroy the German battleship The Bismarck.

David Boyle makes a great job of taking actual events and weaving a fictional plot around them.

The invasions of Greece by the Germans, the threat posed by the huge battleship Bismarck, the frantic attempts by the British Forces to find and destroy it before it wreaks havoc on the North Atlantic convoys.

He uses names that all readers will recognise to give the story even more credence, with Alan Turing and Ian Fleming making appearances.

This book, or should I say both books, took me right back to the first thing that got me hooked on reading. Second World War fiction woven around actual events.

I started by saying I felt like I had come in half way through a story.

Well, I’ll end by saying I hope I finished the book at least two thirds of the way through a bigger one.

 

Pages: 119

Publishers: Endeavour

Available on Amazon

Notes of a Russian Sniper and American Sniper

Notes of a Russian Sniper Vassilli Zaitsev

American Sniper    Chris Kyle

As well as police procedural novels one of my passions in reading is biography’s or biographical accounts of historic events.

I’m not into celebrity, its usually Military, Fire, Police or Adventurers that I read. Recently I have read two books autobiographical books about Snipers.

Notes of a Russian Sniper-Vassilli Zaitsev is the book, and the person, that the film Enemy at the Gates was based on and is an account of a Russian Soldier who is recruited to the army during the second World War.

Transferred from training straight to the battle of Stalingrad Zaitsev recounts the utter devastation of the city during the siege by the German Forces. Describing hand-to-hand fighting and bombing in a strangely matter-of –fact way that transports the reader to the heart of the battles.

Zaitsev soon found a notoriety amongst his fellow fighters (both civilian and military) as a brave man, although he would not say so himself, its was not until he had been on the front line for a while that people realised he was a good shot. He had been raised in a family where hunting was a way of life and lying still patiently waiting for a shot came as second nature.

As word spread amongst the Russians he quickly became a folk hero and had a big effect on the moral of his fellow fighters.

He also gained a reputation amongst he Germans who tried to identify and target him. Crack snipers from the German Army were dispatched to find and kill him, some even came close.

This book not only describes Zaitsev’s experiences but its also one of the most descriptive books I’ve read on the siege of Stalingrad.

The other book I read was American Sniper by Chris Kyle. From 1999-2009 Kyle was a sniper for the American Seals special forces teams. He holds the record number of kills for an American sniper. The book describes Kyle’s exploits but the realm of modern warfare. He describes taking shots from 1000’s of metres, working in teams where he is guarded by groups of other soldiers with air cover and evacuation helicopters as part of the operations.

The two books could not cover such different conflicts.

The two authors are very similar in character, although Zaitsev does not go into his personal life as deeply as Kyle.

The comparisons are easy to see in their ethics and how they thought with one big difference. Zaitsev was at war to survive, Kyle fought a war on a different continent to where his lived and chose to do what he did. Zaitsev did it out of necessity.

It strikes me as strange that although both of these films have been made into blockbuster Hollywood films most people will only know of Kyle.

Most people don’t even realise that The Enemy at the Gate was based on a real person.

For me Notes of a Russian Sniper is by far the better book, and I suspect it is also the more accurate reflection of events.

Both these books are worth reading, in fact I’d suggest they were both read, but if you only read one.

Read Notes of A Russian Sniper.