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Blog Tour Review - The Only Way Out is Death by Varun Gwalani

 Blog Tour Review - The Only Way Out is Death by Varun Gwalani Twelve powerful people are kidnapped and imprisoned in an empty hotel. Each one of them has three choices: Live out the rest of their days peacefully in the hotel, Die by suicide so the rest of their companions can go free, Or murder one of their companions so they alone can go free. The Only Way Out is Death follows the story of these twelve people from the perspective of a young lawyer, Kiriaki, told as the events unfold. She has to forge messy alliances, navigate complex relationships and feuds, and, above all, try to stay alive. Meanwhile, the mastermind of this death game is lurking just out of view, watching them closely, making sure they are primed for murder. Will Kiriaki find the mastermind before it's too late for her? Will she outmanoeuvre the cutthroats before they cut her throat? There are twelve selfish lives in the hotel. Will it end in twelve selfish deaths? The Only Way Out is Death is a fascinating nov

Review - The Very Merry Murder Club

Review - The Very Merry Murder Club

Sleuthing through the snow, on a merry mysterious day, in disguise we go, investigating all the way . . .

The Very Merry Murder Club is an outstanding anthology of middle grade crime stories by a wonderful range of authors.

Diversity has clearly been a priority when selecting authors for this book, and it is very much a strength of the finished piece. It's definitely not at the cost of quality though. Every single one of these authors is there on their own merit and they have all produced really excellent stories. For every bigot and racist who's ever said "Well, they should write their own books then!" here is proof that they can and do. It's absolutely a joy to see the wealth of diverse talent we currently have working in middle grade fiction showcased like this.

There are characters in here from a wide range of different ethnic backgrounds, a couple of characters who are neuro-diverse, a character with a prosthetic leg, one with two dads, a kid from a foster home. The range of representation is really a marvel. And although it has clearly been thought through, and a key aim of the anthology, it all feels natural and not forced. Each character has earned their place in these stories and belongs there. I'm sure it'll have a positive impact on a lot of children who might see elements of themselves or their family or their classmates and friends within the pages of this book.

There is also a great range of story types, though all bear the crime tag. Benjamin Dean gives us a really haunting tale of horror in The Ticking Funhouse. Dominique Valente takes us to a fantasy world trapped in winter and haunted by a grim beast in The Frostwilds. In Ice and Fire, Joanna Williams gives us a historical short story, set amid the frost fairs of London in 1776, while Maisie Chan gives us an incredible comic piece about living with a cat-burglar mother who gets stolen in It Takes a Thief to Catch a Thief, and Abiola Bello writes a fun heist story featuring a dance troupe trying to steal a trophy they feel rightly belongs to them, The Christmas Heist

Despite the title, one thing this anthology is light on is actual murders. There are only four stories out of the thirteen that deal with actual murders. Elle McNicoll opens the anthology really strongly with Shoe-Dunnit, as an autistic young detective puts her skills to use solving the murder of a ballerina in a Scottish hotel. Nizrana Farook creates some absolutely, brilliantly awful hotel managers in Scrabble and Murder. E. L. Norry gives us a death on a ski slope to solve in the school-trip based mystery, No Piste for the Wicked and Sharna Jackson closes the anthology with a really intriguing mystery, The Cove(n) at Christmas.

But as well as murder, we have sabotage to stop in Annabelle Sami's The Beast of Bedleywood, a villainous mastermind trying to ruin Christmas in It's Snow Crime by Roopa Farooki, Patrice Lawrence's Cool for Cats gives us a very interesting little puzzle in a house where the owner has gone away and Serena Patel's Silent Night is a middle grade mystery heavily influenced by Hitchcock's Rear Window.

There's something here for every one, a brilliant range of stories in different styles with different kinds of representation, and so, so many mysteries to solve!

A brilliant collection of middle grade crime stories!


The Very Merry Murder Club is out now, published by Farshore.

I was given a copy via Netgalley in return for an honest review.


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