Thursday, 17 August 2017

The Ashes of Berlin by Luke McCallin #BlogTour @mccallinluke @noexitpress

1947 and Gregor Reinhardt has been hired back onto Berlin's civilian police force. The city is divided among the victorious allied powers, tensions are growing, and the police are riven by internal rivalries as factions within it jockey for power and influence with Berlin's new masters.

When a man is found slain in a broken-down tenement, Reinhardt embarks on a gruesome investigation. It seems a serial killer is on the loose, and matters only escalate when it s discovered that one of the victims was the brother of a Nazi scientist.

Reinhardt's search for the truth takes him across the divided city and soon embroils him in a plot involving the Western Allies and the Soviets. And as he comes under the scrutiny of a group of Germans who want to continue the war and faces an unwanted reminder from his own past Reinhardt realizes that this investigation could cost him everything as he pursues a killer who believes that all wrongs must be avenged...

The Ashes of Berlin by Luke McCallin is published by No Exit Press in paperback on 24 August 2017. I'm really happy to welcome you to The Ashes of Berlin Blog Tour, and to introduce the author, Luke McCallin, who is talking about the books that are special to him in My Life in Books.

My Life In Books ~ Luke McCallin

JRR Tolkien - The Lord of the Rings: probably my favourite novel, and one that you find something new in every time you read it. His evocation of a sylvan world passing to that of an industrialised one, is something I particularly enjoy.

Rosemary Sutcliffe - The Eagle of the Ninth: beautifully written, a story for all ages, and such a wonderful evocation of Britain in her descriptions of its places and peoples. It has two of my favourite all-time characters in Marcus Aquila and Esca.

Harper Lee - To Kill a Mockingbird: a novel I read as I began to come to more and greater awareness of the world around me. I read it the first time growing up in post-independence Zimbabwe. It's such an influential and beautiful book on so many levels. One of the parts that always struck me was the way in which people can--or choose to--fight injustice far away but ignore or just not see that injustice that is in front of their very eyes and in their everyday lives. 

All Quiet on the Western Front; Les croix de bois; A Long, Long Way; Birdsong: all novels that moved me deeply about the experience of the First World War, from British, Irish, German and French perspective. 

John Le Carre - Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy: 'the' Cold War novel, a brilliant story of espionage and the human character told against a backdrop of . 

Larry Niven and Jerry Pournelle - The Mote in God's Eye: probably still for me the finest novel of first contact. It's also very well crafted sci-fi novel in a universe where faster-then-light travel between stars is possible, but only at certain points. Which means that, much like old-fashioned sailing ships, starships must still travel to and from those points with all the limitations imposed by the laws of the universe as we understand them. This means that the interstellar society described in the book resembles the 19th century, in which communications moved faster than men and ships but in which the 'centre' could not possibly intervene or control what happened on the periphery, meaning power and governance was devolved to viceroys and ship's captains to deal with issues.  

China Mieville - The City and The City: at times almost surreal, but not written as a surreal novel. Rather, as well as a page-turning mystery in a world with strict written and unwritten rules, it's a thought-provoking metaphor for our modern lives. The novel explores--among many other things--the way in which we allow ourselves, or have been indoctrinated or educated, to 'unsee' certain things. Like the homeless, the marginalised, corruption, brutality, the 'other'.  

Robert Harris - Fatherland: a brilliant example of the alternate history or reality, so well done that you finish the book and blink at the world around you. A first-class detective story, too. (As for the alternate history genre, a more than honourable mention for Philip K Dick's The Man in the High Castle, too.)

Almost anything from the Patrick O'Brian canon...! I'll settle on Post Captain, partly for the very detailed descriptions of, and insights into, life on land and not just at sea for men like Aubrey and Maturin, but also because of the very funny recounting of their escape from Toulon, after it had been taken by the French. 

Luke McCallin ~ August 2017 

Luke McCallin was born in 1972 in Oxford, grew up in Africa, went to school around the world and has worked with the United Nations as a humanitarian relief worker and peacekeeper in the Caucasus, the Sahel, and the Balkans. His experiences have driven his writing, in which he explores what happens to normal people - those stricken by conflict, by disaster - put under abnormal pressures. He lives with his wife and two children in an old farmhouse in France in the Jura Mountains. He has a master's degree in political science, speaks French, and can just get by in Russian. When he's not working or writing, he enjoys reading history, playing the drums, and heading into the mountains for a run.

For more information visit
Follow him on Twitter @mccallinluke

Wednesday, 16 August 2017

Fierce Kingdom by Gin Phillips @GinPhillips17 @DoubledayUK @alisonbarrow #FierceKingdom

Lincoln is a good boy. At the age of four, he is curious, clever and well behaved. He does as his mum says and knows what the rules are.

'The rules are different today. The rules are that we hide and do not let the man with the gun find us.'

When an ordinary day at the zoo turns into a nightmare, Joan finds herself trapped with her beloved son. She must summon all her strength, find unexpected courage and protect Lincoln at all costs – even if it means crossing the line between right and wrong; between humanity and animal instinct.

It's a line none of us would ever normally dream of crossing.

But sometimes the rules are different

Fierce Kingdom by Gin Phillips was published in the UK by Doubleday on 15 June 2017 and is the author's fifth novel. I read her debut; The Well and the Mine back in 2010, before I started this blog. When I look back at my review on Goodreads, I notice that my thoughts about that novel do echo my feelings about Fierce Kingdom. I'm not sure how I missed her other three novels: Come In And Cover Me (2012); The Hidden Summer (2013) and A Little Bit of Spectacular (2015) and I'd certainly like to catch up with them soon.

Just as in her debut, the author has created a story that is completely character-led. Whilst the central event in the plot is a terrifying incident that, thankfully, very few of us will find ourselves in, it is the exquisite characterisation and exacting dissection of the relationships within the story that overwhelm the reader. One of the strongest bonds is that between a mother and her child, and Gin Phillips uses this as the central theme in Fierce Kingdom.

Joan and her four-year-old son Lincoln are regular visitors at the zoo, they know each nook and cranny; they know when the animals will be fed, they know where the restrooms are, and the vending machines. The zoo is a place of happy times and good memories.  One ordinary day takes an extraordinary turn for the worst when the sound of gunfire echoes throughout the park and Joan and Lincoln are trapped.

Joan's basic motherly instincts kick in immediately and the following 280 pages are laden with tension and fear, yet are also a study in motherhood, raising questions about instinct, fear and how far someone will go to protect the person that they love the most.

I think many readers have expected an action-packed thriller full of near misses and chases, and I can understand why they may be disappointed. There are scenes of breath-taking suspense and unease but it's not all crash, bang, wallop by any means. There are a couple of things that Joan does during their time in the zoo that will, without a doubt, raise questions with readers. I'm not going to spoil anything by mentioning these, but have to admit that I was puzzled too. However, unless we've been in a shooter situation, I'm not sure that any of us can really say what we would do, or can judge others.

A short novel at just under 280 pages, with just a few characters, but also a bold and tense story, beautifully written, with emotion and feeling. This is a novel that may divide readers, but will also create discussion and debate.

Gin Phillips grew up in Montgomery, Alabama.

After earning a degree in political journalism, Gin worked as a freelance magazine writer for nearly a decade.

She's lived in Ireland, Thailand, New York and Washington, DC.

Find out more at
Find her Author page on Facebook
Follow her on Twitter @GinPhillips17

Tuesday, 15 August 2017

My Life In Books ~ talking to Sara-Jade Virtue ~ Brand Director at Books and the City @BookMinxSJV

My Life in Books is an occasional feature on Random Things Through My Letterbox
I've asked authors and people in publishing to share with us a list of the books that are important to them and have made a lasting impression on their life

I'm delighted to welcome Sara-Jade Virtue to Random Things today. Sara-Jade is Special Sales Director for Simon & Schuster UK and Brand Director for Commercial Fiction and is in charge of the wonderful Books and the City website.

Sara-Jade is a huge supporter of blogs and bloggers, and throws the most wonderful parties and events, with cake, lots of cake!

Check out the Books and the City site and also follow on Twitter @TeamBATC

Sara-Jade is also on Twitter @BookMinxSJV

My Life In Books - Sara-Jade Virtue

Thank you so much Anne, for asking me to take part in your great My Life in Books feature.

There is a part of me that desperately wants to include my absolute childhood favourite, the classic Maurice Sendak picturebook Where the Wild Things Are but with SO many adult novels that I love with all my heart, there just isn’t the room… so...  

I’m sure it will come as no surprise to anyone that knows me that I’m kicking off with a Jackie Collins novel instead.  To me, THE Jackie Collins novel.  The one and only Hollywood Husbands….

In 1986, at the tender age of 16 I read the line "Jack Python walked through the lobby of the Beverly Hills Hotel with every eye upon him. He had money, charisma, a certain kind of power, razor-sharp wit, and fame. It all showed." I was hooked. I never in my wildest dreams imagined that I would have had the absolute honour of working and spending time with the Lady Boss herself whilst here at S&S.  
Jackie sparked my passion for reading. And that passion turned into my career. I will forever be in her debt and I miss her wit, wisdom and warmth more than words can say.

My Career in Books, and therefore one might say, my Life in Books, began in Office Services at Waterstones Head Office… not the most exciting start you might think, but I was exposed to a life I didn’t even know existed whilst sorting post, paperclips and photocopier jams, and introduced to authors I have come to know and love IRL.

One was Louise Candlish and one was Bernadette Strachan – so of course, my favourite novels from these two ladies just HAVE to appear on this list.

Hugely emotional, heartbreaking and heartwarming in equal measure, this powerful story of loss and discovery breaks my heart every time I read it.  Beautifully and sensitively written, I recommend it over and over again.  Next year, S&S will publish our very first novel written by Louise, the dark and twisty thriller Our House and having been friends for some 15 years, it’s an absolute thrill to be working together in a professional (yet very cocktail heavy) capacity!

Bernadette Strachan/Juliet Ashton
The debut novel from Bernie – The Reluctant Landlady – has absolutely deserved its place on my Desert Island Books List for close to 13 years – proper funny, proper romantic, proper feel good – but These Days of Ours, written under the pseudonym Juliet Ashton has now been added to the Laminated List too.  

It was SUCH a moment for me to be able to share the secret manuscript for this book (that I had literally BEGGED Bernie to send me) with the wider @TeamBATC  – and receive this note back from our Editorial Director at the time Loving this. Trying not to cry. Off to the park at lunchtime to read more/finish’, which ultimately resulted in S&S acquiring the novel.  
Funny in places, massively weepy in others, there is a scene with the leading lady sitting under a tree that truly broke me and that I will continue to savour for years to come…  

Having to pick just one Lisa Jewell novel is harder than (I would imagine) picking a favourite child – but I don’t think there is a person I’ve met in the last 8 years that I haven’t recommended The Truth About Melody Browne to.  Complex characters and a story line that will move even the hardest bruiser to tears – it’s a must read.  

On a more personal note, I took part in, and won, the CLIC Sargent Get in Character auction last year to raise money and win a character name in Lisa’s new novel which published just last week – Then She Was Gone.  I was so excited to see that not only did Lisa kindly allow me to use my own name in the novel, she went on to say the very nicest of things about me in the credits...

Jojo Moyes
Of course, I loved Me Before You and After You, and am gagging for the new one, Still Me but for me, The Last Letter From Your Lover is Jojo’s best novel.  I first met Jojo at a very swanky RNA lunch at The Savoy in 2005 when her novel The Ship of Brides was shortlisted for an award – she was hilarious and great company and very kind to tolerate my ridiculousness, and even though I hadn’t (I’m ashamed to admit) read any of her novels at that stage, she became a favourite author by simply being such good fun!  
Fast forward a couple of years to 2011 and The Last Letter From Your Lover was nominated and ultimately won the RNA Romantic Novel of the Year – and I whooped with delight!  It has everything - passion, loss, heartache and romance – with a reveal near the end that rocked my world.

Winner of the 2016 RNA Romantic Novel of the Year, I read the heartbreaking Letters to the Lost, sent to me by her Editor at the time here at S&S HQ with the note You are going to LOVE this. Xx’, on the train to and from attending the Festival of Romantic Fiction that took place in Leighton Buzzard in September 2014 – at which my baby, had been shortlisted for the Award for Innovation.  We didn’t win, but at the festival I met Heidi Swain, who shortly before had submitted her debut novel The Cherry Tree CafĂ© as part of our very first #digitaloriginals #oneday open submission call out.  So, not only did I have a 6 hour round trip to absolutely fall in love with Letters to the Lost, had been up for an Award and took part in a Meet the Publisher panel event, but I also met (and had a scampi lunch with) a future bestselling author for S&S… Letters to the Lost therefore will always remind me of just how many great days I’ve had here at S&S, working with incredible colleagues and even more amazing authors.

Finally, this list wouldn’t be complete without including every single word ever written by Marian Keyes.  I know I’m not alone in my love for the Complete Works and Life and Times of Marian Keyes, of course I’m not, but as a staunch supporter and lover of this wonderful women’s fiction/commercial fiction/mass market general fiction (whatever you want to call it) genre, no Life in Books from me, would be complete without her.  

Sara-Jade Virtue - August 2017

Monday, 14 August 2017

Together by Julie Cohen @julie_cohen @orionbooks #GetTogether

Is this a great love story?
Or a story about great love?
You decide.
On a morning that seems just like any other, Robbie wakes in his bed, his wife Emily asleep beside him, as always. He rises and dresses, makes his coffee, feeds his dogs, just as he usually would. But then he leaves Emily a letter and does something that will break her heart. As the years go back all the way to 1962, Robbie's actions become clearer as we discover the story of a couple with a terrible secret - one they will do absolutely anything to protect.

Together by Julie Cohen was published by Orion on 13 July 2017.

I've been a fan of Julie Cohen's writing ever since I read Dear Thing back in 2013, her writing is heartwarming and always beautiful, and I think that Together is probably her finest book yet.

Together is Robbie and Emily's story, it is their story of why they are together, and how their togetherness has impacted on those closest to them. The opening chapter is so moving, those few pages show just how much this elderly couple love each other, it is also shocking and sets the pace for the rest of the book.

Julie Cohen has cleverly, and really quite bravely written Together back to front. The reader meets Robbie and Emily in 2016, they live together in Maine, USA, they've been together for fifty four years and their love is as strong now as it has ever been. We are then transported, slowly and surely, back through their lives, eventually ending when they meet for the very first time in 1962. It's an ingenious and interesting way to tell a story, and knowing what happened in 2016 only increases the intensity of feelings provoked for the characters.

The reader is aware that there is a huge secret that Robbie and Emily have kept for all of those years. It's something so big that it has caused a terrible rift between Emily and her family back in England. So much so that when Emily travels home to attend her mother's funeral she is shunned by the father and sister who once adored her, I defy anyone to read these scenes and not have a huge lump in their throat. Julie Cohen's ability to portray the strongest of emotions for her characters is stunning; the reader becomes totally absorbed in their lives, and can feel each stab of pain that Emily feels, as though it were their own.

Julie Cohen tackles many issues within this story with poise and elegance. There are some very dark and often disturbing themes within the plot, but at its heart, this is an epic love story. A story of two people who share a passion that is so strong that there is nothing that can stop it.

Beautifully, cleverly written, this is an epic love story that is magnificently crafted. The emotion is raw and tender, the characters are tremendous and the sense of place in both Maine and England is perfectly done.

Compulsive and unmissable. Heart breaking and heart warming and very highly recommended from me.

Julie Cohen grew up in the western mountains of Maine. Her house was just up the hill from the library and she spent many hours walking back and forth, her nose in a book. 

She studied English Literature at Brown University and Cambridge University and is a popular speaker and teacher of creative writing, including classes for The Guardian and Literature Wales. Her books have been translated into fifteen languages and have sold nearly a million copies; 

DEAR THING was a Richard and Judy Book Club pick. Julie lives in Berkshire with her husband, son and a terrier of dubious origin.

You can find Julie on Twitter: @julie_cohen or you can visit her website:

Sunday, 13 August 2017

Yesterday by Felicia Yap @FeliciaMYap @Wildfirebks #Yesterday

There are two types of people in the world: those who can only remember yesterday, and those who can also recall the day before.
You have just one lifeline to the past: your diary. Each night, you write down the things that matter. Each morning, your diary tells you where you were, who you loved and what you did.
Today, the police are at your door. They say that the body of your husband's mistress has been found in the River Cam. They think your husband killed her two days ago.
Can you trust the police?
Can you trust your husband?
Can you trust yourself?

Yesterday by Felicia Yap was published in hardback by Wildfire Books on 10 August 2017, it will be published in paperback next May. Yesterday is the author's debut novel.

Over the last year or so I've heard many grumbles about how many psychological thrillers are currently being published. People seem to be tired of dark covers, and missing girls, or strange sisters or abducted children. Yesterday by Felicia Yap is a thriller for those people, it's unique, it's unusual, it's intriguing and it is very different.

Felicia Yap has created in Yesterday a story that combines sci-fi with murder mystery, with domestic noir and takes a wry, but intelligent look at social justice issues.
Whilst the story is set in Cambridge in 2015, it is a very different world to that we are used to. The population is divided into two; Monos and Duos. A Mono can only remember the past day, whilst the Duos can remember two days. In order to retain facts, everyone has their own personal iDiary where they enter the important things that happen to them. The Government has just decided that Monos and Duos may marry but Mark and Claire Evans have been married for years already - he's a Duo and she's a Mono.

When the body of a woman is found in the River Cam, Mark Evans is immediately questioned by the police, and the central storyline is the investigation into this death.

The reader hears four voices who each narrate the story; Mark and Claire, the policeman in charge of the investigation: DCI Hans Richardson, and the victim herself, and each of these characters have their own distinct voice. Whilst all four characters are intriguing, the reader struggles to know any of them well, and whilst this could be a disadvantage, in this case and in keeping with the short-term memories, it really does work.

Felicia Yap writes cleverly, with short, snappy sentences that again, just like her characterisation, fits incredibly well with the whole premise of the plot. This is about memory, but it's also about deception and falsehoods.

The author explores social issues such as discrimination, and it is done very well. She looks at how Monos and Duos interact, how they treat each other and how being one type can open doors, or prevent progression. It's an astute look at an imagined world that reflects our own times excellently.

Yesterday is a book that raises so many questions. The murder mystery is integral, but for me was not the most important part of the story, even though the end reveal did surprise me!

Felicia Yap has taken a brave step with Yesterday, it's unsettling and clever, and the style does take some getting used to.

Distinctive, clever, definitely something very different. Yesterday is a book that will surprise and intrigue the reader.  Felicia Yap is an author to watch!

My thanks to the publisher who sent my copy for review.

Felicia Yap grew up in Kuala Lumpur. She has been a cell biologist, a war historian, a university lecturer, a technology journalist, a theatre critic, a flea-market trader and a catwalk model. 

Felicia lives in London and is a recent graduate of the Faber Academy’s creative writing programme. 

Her debut thriller Yesterday will be published around the world in August 2017.

Find out more at
Find her Author page on Facebook
Follow her on Twitter @FeliciaMYap

Thursday, 10 August 2017

I Know A Secret by Tess Gerritsen #BlogTour @tessgerritsen @alisonbarrow @TransworldBooks

I have a secret. 
And someone wants to make sure I never tell . . . 

In a house decorated with horror movie posters, a young woman’s body is found. She lies on her bed, two bloodied objects clutched in her palm. Detective Jane Rizzoli and Forensic Pathologist Maura Isles are called to the murder scene, but even faced with this gruesome sight they are unable to identify the immediate cause of death. 

Their investigation leads them to a high-profile murder case that was seemingly solved years before. But when another body is found in horrific circumstances, the link between the two victims is clear. Was the wrong person sent to prison? Is the real killer out there right now, picking off new targets? 

One woman knows the killer is coming for her next. She’s the only one who can help Rizzoli and Isles catch him.

But she has a secret that she has to keep . . .

I am thrilled to welcome you to the Blog Tour for I Know A Secret by Tess Gerritsen, published in hardback by Transworld on 10 August 2017.  I Know A Secret is number twelve in the Rizzoli & Isles series.

It's been quite a while since I read one of Tess Gerritsen's books, when I looked back on my reading record I discovered that I read The Surgeon; the first of the Rizzoli & Isles series back in 2003 - yes fourteen years ago. I'm not sure where the years go to.

It must be difficult for an author to keep a long-running series fresh and original. I can assure you that I Know A Secret is every bit as exciting and thrilling as the earlier books, in fact, I'd say that this is probably one of my favourite books of the series. It's one of those stories that completely consumes the reader, a fast-paced and intriguing plot with some clever and unexpected twists that I certainly didn't see coming.

Jane Rizzoli and Maura Isles are more than used to dealing with the dark, dangerous and downright evil side of Boston, yet the discovery of a young girl's body seems particularly sinister. Not only murdered and laid out on her own bed, but mutilated too, and post-mortem, so it would seem.

The victim was a wealthy young woman who, along with three friends made horror movies, and it is this that sparks the most interest for Maura Isles. She's almost convinced that the killer is imitating the art of the film until another body is discovered, and there is a link.

Cleverly and deftly plotted, I Know A Secret weaves multiple themes into a unstoppable plot. Not only is the reader treated to an insiders view of the minds of horror film fans, but a religious aspect is thrown into the pot too. Couple this with the recent release of a convicted killer who also has links with the victims and Rizzoli and Isles have their work cut out.

I Know A Secret is crime fiction at its best. Tess Gerritsen is a master at her game, and her indepth medical knowledge adds intensity and authenticity to what is already a superb story. Her ability to interweave the personal back stories of her main characters, and to create new voices that compliment the established characters is excellent.

Rizzoli and Iles are back, with a bang. Existing fans will love this and readers new to the series have such a treat in store too. This is raw, powerful and totally gripping stuff. Extremely satisfying and quite possibly, her best book yet.

My thanks to the publisher who provided my copy for review

Bestselling author Tess Gerritsen is also a physician, and she brings to her novels her first-hand knowledge of emergency and autopsy rooms. But her interests span far more than medical topics. As an anthropology student at Stanford University, she catalogued centuries-old human remains, and she continues to travel the world driven by her fascination with ancient cultures and bizarre natural phenomena. 
She started off her writing career with romance novels, now published by Mira. But in 1996 she switched to writing thrillers with her novel HARVEST, inspired by the anger she felt about the illegal trade in human organs. It was her first New York Times bestseller. 
Since then she has become an internationally bestselling author of crime novels, and her thriller series starring Boston detective Jane Rizzoli and medical examiner Maura Isles is the basis for the hit television series "Rizzoli & isles." 
She lives with her husband in Maine. 
For more information on Tess Gerritsen and her novels, visit her website:
Follow her on Twitter @tessgerritsen

Wednesday, 9 August 2017

Another Place by Matthew Crow @mizzlecrizzle @AtomBooks @BrooDoherty

A small town. A missing schoolgirl. A terrible secret. And one girl's fight to survive.
Sixteen-year-old Claudette Flint is coming home from hospital after an escalating depression left her unable to cope. She may seem unchanged on the outside; but everything's different. The same could be said about her seaside hometown.
A local teenager, Sarah, has disappeared. Sarah had a bad reputation round town; but now she's vanished the close-knit community seems to be unspooling.
As the police investigate and the press digs around for dirt, small town scandals start to surface. What nobody knows yet is that Claudette and Sarah had a secret friendship. And that the last secret Sarah shared may be the key to the truth.
After weeks of focusing solely on herself, Claudette realizes she is not the only part of the world that needs fixing - and that if she can piece together the fragments of Sarah's story, then maybe she can piece herself back together too.
Another Place is a novel about lost girls, recovered life - and the meaning of home.

Another Place by Matthew Crow was published in paperback on 3 August 2017 by Atom.

Another Place is a book targeted at a Young Adult market. I am not a Young Adult. I haven't been a Young Adult for many many years. However, I am a huge fan of Matthew Crow. His last YA book, In Bloom remains one of my all time favourite books, I read and reviewed it here on Random Things back in 2013

The sign, for me, of a great book, one that I have loved and enjoyed, is the number of folded back page corners in my copy. I fold back pages that contain beautiful phrases, wonderful description and writing that makes my heart sing. My copy of Another Place has lots of folded corners. There are too many marked parts to put into this review, if I included them all, you wouldn't really need to buy the book!

Another Place is Claudette's story. She's seventeen and lives in the North East of England, in a town that was once thriving, but is now dark and grey, with closed down shop fronts and an undercurrent of drug culture, and the violence and menace that goes with it. Claudette begins her story as she leaves hospital. She was there because she had a breakdown that involved broken glass and injured teachers. Claudette and her father live alone, her mother left years ago. She and her Dad have a fabulous relationship, he loves her and supports her. He is her tiger when she needs one. He also struggles to understand the scars on her arms and the moods.

Claudette is a strong and streetwise seventeen year old. No stranger to drink, or sex and not shy to confront anyone. It is the inner demons that she finds the hardest to confront, and the author's description of how she deals with the regular panic attacks is wonderfully blunt:

"It's fine, I have asthma, I said quickly, rather than the truth. ........... Asthma was a safer bet. Nobody ever wanted to talk about asthma. It was like saying you had stew for dinner. People accepted it and moved on."

Claudette is astute, and kind and determined. The town is buzzing because a young girl, Sarah, has disappeared. Claudette and Sarah had a strange relationship; a friendship that only they knew about. They confided in each other, they told the truth that was hidden from others, and Claudette is determined to find out just what has happened to Sarah.

Whilst the mystery of Sarah's disappearance is the centre of the story, the real detail is in the characters and the relationships between them. Matthew Crow has a magic touch when creating these. The blossoming friendship between Sarah and the elderly Mr Fitzpatrick is beautifully imagined, growing gently and exposing more truths that painfully bind them together.

The characters in Another Place are lively and so well rounded. Claudette's friend Donna is an absolute joy, her brother Adam is quieter but no less well defined, and then there is Paula. Paula is Claudette's Dad's partner and is probably my favourite of them all. So exquisitely detailed, I read this and I saw her:

"Paula was low-hanging fruit. She wore fleeces with Alsatians on them that she bought at the indoor market. She hand-made most of the presents she gave. She clipped a pedometer to the elastic of her jogging bottoms every morning without fail. She walked ten thousand steps a day and still ended up back in the same place she started." 

Another Place is a wonderful book. It is heartwarming, yet gritty and down to earth. It is full of humour and sometimes is overwhelming in its sadness. It is an insightful and clever observation of the world of teenage mental health, grimy towns and people who will hurt others to protect themselves.

A truly beautiful story. Poignant, gripping and witty and deserves to become a classic.

Matthew Crow was born in 1987 and raised in Newcastle.  Having worked as a freelance journalist since his teens he has contributed to a number of publications including the Independent on Sunday and the Observer.  

He has written two novels for adults. The second, My Dearest Jonah, was nominated for the Dylan Thomas Prize.  

Follow Matthew on Twitter @mizzlecrizzle