Blogtour Faceless by Vanda Symon @vandasymon @OrendaBooks @annecater #RandomThingsTours #faceless

Orenda Books March 17th 2022

The Blurb

Worn down by a job he hates, and a stressful family life, middle-aged, middle- class Bradley picks up a teenage escort and commits an unspeakable crime. Now she’s tied up in his warehouse, and he doesn’t know what to do.
Max is homeless, eating from rubbish bins, sleeping rough and barely existing – known for cadging a cigarette from anyone passing, and occasionally even the footpath. Nobody really sees Max, but he has one friend, and she’s gone missing.
In order to find her, Max is going to have to call on some people from his past,
and reopen wounds that have remained unhealed for a very long time –
and the clock is ticking…

My Review

A stand-alone novel from Vanda Symon certainly peaked my interest and it was apparent from the first page Symon would include all the hallmarks of her usual thriller content but with added extras.

I loved that she told the story using the voices of her characters, that we knew who the perpetrator was, could see their emotions, their fears.

Billy 18 years old, lived on the streets, her talent as a graffiti artist the one thing that gave her focus. Yet she was vulnerable, turned to prostitution when she needed paints for her art, skillfully dodged the pimps that wanted her for themselves. Ultimately it was her downfall, an unwilling victim to a selfish, under pressure man who wanted nothing more than to express his suppressed power over a woman.

Billy was Max’s only friend, the guardian angel who sat on his shoulder, prodded him into a modicum of life, of wanting to look after himself. It was her guardianship that thrust Max back into real life, to finally facing up to the past, to taking back control and reconnecting with family and work mates.

And what about our perpetrator Bradley? Married with a young family, a domineering wife who just wanted to fix things and a manager who piled on the work, the threat of dismissal ever present. Symon brilliantly portrayed a man who just wanted to dare himself, to prove he wasn’t just a whipping boy for his wife, evolved him into a monster, his mind and reasoning twisted to justify his actions.

As Bradley actions intensified so did those of Max as he raced to find Billy, Symon forced him to reconnect with family, with old colleagues. She slowly thrust the old Max back to the fore, his story one that showed a desperate, guilt ridden man having to confront his fears, to see a light that could lead back to a life of normality away from the streets of Auckland.

As Max desperately searched, it was Symon’s harrowing descriptions of Billy’s ordeal that grabbed your emotions, your anger as you screamed at the page for the torture to stop. As her plight became more desperate you admired her resolve, discovered her own traumatic back story before Symon hurtled you into the heart stopping final few pages.

Faceless may have been a crime novel but it also asked a question, raised a few thoughts through its title, Faceless. The faceless are those we see living on the streets, the ones that we tip toe around, see the ragged clothes, the uncleanliness, the card board boxes, the women who prostitute themselves in order to survive. Do we ever stop to think what put them there? Did we ever consider their past circumstances some much like Billy and Max? Maybe next time we should stop and think and like Symon look behind the faceless.

I would like to thank Orenda Books for a copy of Faceless to read and review and to Random Things Tours for inviting My Bookish Blogspot to participate in the blogtour.

About the author

Vanda Symon is a crime writer, TV presenter and radio host from Dunedin, New Zealand, and the chair of the Otago Southland branch of the New Zealand Society of Authors. The Sam Shephard series, which includes Overkill, The Ringmaster, Containment and Bound, hit number one on the New Zealand bestseller list, and has also been shortlisted for the Ngaio Marsh Award. Overkill was shortlisted for the CWA John Creasey (New Blood) Dagger.

Twitter @vandasymon, Instagram @vanda-symon, Facebook, @vandasymonauthor, http://www.vandasymon.com.

#Blogtour River Clyde by Simone Buchholz @ohneKlippo @OrendaBooks @annecater #RandomThingsTours #RiverClyde

Orenda Books March 17th 2022

The Blurb

Chastity Riley travels to Scotland to face the demons of her past, as Hamburg is hit by a major arson attack. Queen of Krimi, Simone Buchholz, returns with the emotive fifth instalment in the electric Chastity Riley series …

Mired in grief after tragic recent events, state prosecutor Chastity Riley escapes to Scotland, lured to the birthplace of her great-great-grandfather by a mysterious letter suggesting she has inherited a house.

In Glasgow, she meets Tom, the ex-lover of Chastity’s great aunt, who holds the keys to her own family secrets – painful stories of unexpected cruelty and loss that she’s never dared to confront.

In Hamburg, Stepanovic and Calabretta investigate a major arson attack, while a group of property investors kicks off an explosion of violence that threatens everyone.

As events in these two countries collide, Chastity prepares to face the inevitable, battling the ghosts of her past and the lost souls that could be her future and, perhaps, finally finding redemption for them all.

Breathtakingly emotive, River Clyde is an electrifying, poignant and powerful story of damage and hope, and one woman’s fight for survival.

My Review

I can honestly say this was Buchholz’s best novel yet, totally unexpected in its direction, a Chastity Riley the like we have not seen before.

Where was that tough woman who liked her men and, who could drink many under the table? This was a stripped back, naked Riley, vulnerable, emotional, reflective but still with glimpses of that moody, stubborn Riley we have come to love. Not for her the streets of Hamburg but a new location, the streets of Glasgow, the River Clyde winding a protective layer around the city and Riley. What brought her there?

Astoundingly a dead aunt and an inherited house, one Riley was not sure, in true typical style, she would accept. Instead Buchholz gave us introspection, a glance back to childhood to her mother and father, an unconventional and tragedy filled upbringing that perhaps explained her stubborn, strong willed nature. You felt empathy, admiration and somehow a closeness not felt in previous encounters, as if Riley had to look back in order to rebuild, reconnect and discover just what it was she wanted for her future.

Was that future back in Hamburg with police detective Stepanovic, as he made a meagre attempt at some police work, his mind clearly elsewhere. In fact Riley’s fellow colleagues and friendship group all appeared to be struggling, a throw back to the tragic events we encountered in Hotel Cartegena.

Buchholz threw in some crime but it wasn’t important, merely a tool to highlight her floundering broken and healing characters.

As Riley worked through her emotions , quite a few beers and a smattering of whiskey you sensed her liking for Glasgow, for its people. Perhaps it was a city not that far removed her own hometown of Hamburg, the same hardened inhabitants, and back streets that made her feel at home. But would it be her new home, the opportunity of new adventures, maybe a new job?

That is something only Buchholz and Riley know and an answer I await with baited breath to discover.

What I can say is that River Clyde was a brave and admirable diversion from Buchholz’s norm and one that paid off in bucket loads.

It felt like it was something Buchholz had been longing to do, biding her time until both she and Riley were ready.

Bravo Simone Buchholz, amazing, emotive and brilliant.

I would like to thank Orenda Books for a copy of River Clyde to read and review and to Random Things Tours for inviting My Bookish Blogspot to participate in the blogtour.

About the author

Simone Buchholz was born in Hanau in 1972. At university, she studied philosophy and literature, worked as a waitress and a columnist, and trained to be a journalist at the prestigious Henri-Nannen-School in Hamburg. In 2016, Simone Buchholz was awarded the Crime Cologne Award and was runner-up in the German Crime Fiction Prize for Blue Night, which was number one on the KrimiZEIT Best of Crime List for months. The next in the Chastity Riley series, Beton Rouge, won the Radio Bremen Crime Fiction Award and Best Economic Crime Novel 2017. In 2019, Mexico Street, the next in Chastity Riley series, won the German Crime Fiction Prize. She lives in Sankt Pauli, in the heart of Hamburg, with her husband and son. Follow Simone on Twitter @ohneKlippo and visit her website http://www.simonebuchholz.com.

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