Book Reviews

My Book Reviews for July 2022

My Book Reviews for July 2022

My book reviews for July 2022 include a police procedural that is both exotic and historical, a folkloric horror story and some NetGalley titles I had the privilege to read.


Waking the Tiger by Mark Wightman

I can see why this book has done well on the competition circuit:

  • Shortlisted for a Crime Writers’ Association John Creasey (New Blood) Dagger 2022.
  • Longlisted for the Bloody Scotland McIlvanney Prize for Scottish Crime Book of the Year 2021.
  • Shortlisted for the Scottish Crime Debut of the Year 2021.
  • Longlisted for the Ngaio Marsh Awards Best Novel 2022.

It brings something fresh to the crime fiction scene. The setting – Singapore in 1939 – is so vividly drawn we feel the bustle of the city with its melting pot of diverse nationalities; we taste char kuay teow (stir-fried flat rice noodles); and breathe in the aromas of the kopi tiam (coffee shop).

Since his life unravelled 7 months earlier, Inspector Max Betancourt has been side-lined from major crime to the marine police. But when the body of a woman is found in the docks, his detective’s instinct tells him the death could be one in a network of crimes by a well-connected criminal gang that is financing the Japanese war effort. Betancourt seizes the opportunity to get back into the thick of crime investigation.

Betancourt is Serani, a mixed Portuguese and Malaccan ethnicity that makes him an outsider – not a local but not ‘real British’ despite serving in the British police force. He keeps his ear to the ground and builds up contacts in all kinds of dubious places, giving us the sultry vibe of what must surely come to be called Singapore Noir.

There is also a terrific audiobook version, narrated superbly by Adrian Hobart, one half of Hobeck Books who published the novel.


Starve Acre by Andrew Michael Hurley

 Richard and Juliette are mourning the loss of their young son, Euan. Richard puts on a brave face, busying himself with a project to unearth the roots of an old oak tree in the field behind their home. Meanwhile, Juliette locks herself away in Euan’s room and barely eats.

With increasing misgivings about the couple remaining at Starve Acre, their friend Gordon persuades Juliette to have a session with his mystical acquaintances, The Beacons, and he begs Richard to stop working in the field.

Richard adopts his usual response of denial, little noticing the malignant force he has embraced outside and unwittingly brought into the house.

A well-written tale of grief, nature and the supernatural.


Worlds Apart

A very good writing buddy of mine, Peter Garrett, has had an essay published in a prize-winning book.

Worlds Apart: Worldbuilding in Fantasy and Science Fiction, edited by Francesca T. Barbini (Luna Press Publishing) won best non-fiction book at the British Science Fiction Association Awards 2021, which were announced in April 2022.

Peter’s essay is entitled: ‘Town Planning in Viriconium: M John Harrison and Worldbuilding’.

Cheryl Morgan, another contributor, has done a mini review of the book which can be read here.


The rest of my book reviews for July 2022 comprise the following advance titles I had the privilege of reading in exchange for independent reviews. With thanks to the authors, publishers and NetGalley for the opportunity:

 Island of Lost Girls by Alex Marwood

A story about a billionaire’s yacht and an heiress befriending and inviting young girls on board. Another well-written book by this bestselling author. Perfect for fans of slow burns that play with real-life headline stories.

The Last to Vanish by Megan Miranda

Ideal for fans of slowly-building, atmospheric thrillers. The author evokes the setting of the remote town in the Appalachian Mountains very well.

I previously enjoyed The Girl from Widow Hills by this author and will definitely seek out more books by her.

Truly, Darkly, Deeply by Victoria Selman

Reminiscent of The July Girls by Phoebe Locke but a slower burn, the book is from the viewpoint of a girl who suspects her stepfather is a serial killer.

Nice nostalgia trip to the early eighties. Good use of social media commentary. Plausible twist.

Iron Curtain by Raf Beuy

I picked this book to review as I’ve just been to Berlin and explored various museums about the DDR years. The author conveys a lot of information to set the scene accurately. The writing style, reminiscent of something translated from German, adds to the atmosphere. I wish the author well with the trilogy.


And here’s one I reviewed last year on NetGalley:

The Weekend Escape by Rakie Bennett

Since Agatha Christie ran the race with And Then There Were None, several authors have picked up the baton of novels about characters stranded on islands. Rakie Bennett runs a solid lap with The Weekend Escape.  Six friends gather on Shell Island off the north west coast of England for a weekend of outdoor pursuits. We’re straight into the action when they abseil down the side of a lighthouse. To say things go wrong from this point won’t come as much of a surprise. And to say not all six friends make it off the island hardly counts as a spoiler. Ideal for fans of the genre.

By Rachel Sargeant

Rachel Sargeant is a British author. Under the name Rae Sargeant, she writes the Gleveham Killers Suspense series, published by Hobeck Books. The first title is Her Deadly Friend. Her titles as Rachel Sargeant, with HarperCollins, are: The Roommates, a psychological thriller set in a university during freshers' week; The Good Teacher, a detective mystery, featuring DC Pippa “Agatha” Adams, and The Perfect Neighbours, a psychological thriller set in Germany. Rachel grew up in Lincolnshire, studied at Aberystwyth University, spent several years living in Germany and now lives in Gloucestershire with her family. She holds a PhD from the University of Birmingham.

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