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Goody Bag Review

There are many, many, good things about being on a panel at a book festival. Networking with your fellow writers, promoting your books, getting to chat to booklovers from across the country are all great. But one of the other less obvious delights is that you often score a free goody bag, crammed full of excellent novels which are often not yet available to the public.

This year I chaired a panel at the Theakston Old Peculier Crime Writing Festival in Harrogate, and came away laden down with a goody bag filled with top quality crime fiction. I've now worked my way through them and here are my thoughts:

The Stalker by Sarah Alderson

The cover of this book looks like the type of holiday cottage my husband tries to get me to agree to book, which, being a city type, I generally knock back on the grounds of it being too remote. Laura, the heroine in the book, would have done well to be equally cautious, as her honeymoon trip turns into a nightmare when they are terrorised by a mystery stranger. At least now when my other half asks 'what's the worst that can happen?' I'll know the answer.

Payday by Celia Walden

Three women have a drunken discussion about how much they hate their annoying colleague, Jamie. It's the kind of conversation that happens at work do's across the land, and is usually quickly forgotten about once everyone sobers up. But then Jamie ends up dead. Which, if any of them, was responsible?

The Dead Line by Holly Watt

This series featuring investigative journalist Casey Benedict was new to me, although I'll definitely be checking out her other adventures. This one starts with a message hidden inside some clothes manufactured in Bangladesh, but quickly moves on from fast fashion to a far more deadly trade. A real page turner, I raced through this.

The Christie Affair by Nina de Gramont

In 1926, Agatha Christie disappeared for 11 days, eventually being tracked down to The Old Swan, the hotel in Harrogate that now hosts the crime festival. This book re-imagines the events from the perspective of Mr Christie's mistress, Nan O'Dea. It is a highly imaginative book, well written, and a fabulous Golden Age mystery in its own right. It shines light on the events, and suggests that everyone's motives were a little more complicated than it first appears. A very fitting goody bag treasure!


There were two samplers in the bag, with short extracts of forthcoming books.

The Paris Apartment by Lucy Foley

I read a previous sampler of The Hunting Party by this author, also in a goody bag, which I then went out and bought, so clearly the system works! In this book, Jess turns up in Paris to visit her brother, only to find he has vanished. Where has he gone? And what is the secret that Jess is harbouring?

Girl A by Abigail Dean

The sampler contained the first 60 pages of the book, and they were a cracking read. Lex had a horrific childhood, being held prisoner by her overbearing father. When she escaped from her home, she was named Girl A in the investigation. Now her mother has died, and along with her siblings she needs to face up to her past. The cover blurb says it is being made into a TV series, and I'm not surprised. I'll definitely be seeking out the full book.


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