Wednesday 31 October 2018

#BlogTour Miss Marley by Vanessa Lafaye with Rebecca Mascull

Today it really is a pleasure to take part in the BlogTour Miss Marley by Vanessa Lafaye with Rebecca Mascull. The historical novelist Vanessa Lafaye died this year at the end of February aged 54. A week after her latest book deal with HarperCollins was announced she succumbed to her battle with cancer. Miss Marley features Ebenezer Scrooge's ghostly business partner, Jacob Marley, and his sister, and is inspired by Charles Dickens’ A Christmas Carol.  Fellow novelist and friend Rebecca Macull finished the last chapters of Lafaye's Miss Marley.

Miss Marley has been lovingly completed by her friend, Rebecca Mascull, author of The Wild Air and The Visitors. Both women were members of The Prime Writers, a collective of authors traditionally published aged 40plus.

About the Author
Vanessa LaFaye was an American born author living in England. A thirst for adventure brought her to Europe in 1987, first to France and then England. She spent many years in academic publishing, including the Oxford University Press. She wrote two acclaimed historical novels set in Florida, Summertime published in 2015 followed by First Light. Her final novel will be published posthumously. LaFaye was the founder of the Marlborough Community Choir in Wiltshire, England. She detailed the impact of living with cancer in her popular blog Living While Dying.

Follow  @HQStories @rebeccamascull on Twitter
Visit, (Living while Dying) and
Buy Miss Marley

About the book
Before A Christmas Carol there was… Miss Marley

A seasonal tale of kindness and goodwill
Orphans Clara and Jacob Marley live by their wits, scavenging for scraps in the poorest alleyways of London, in the shadow of the workhouse. Every night, Jake promises his little sister ‘tomorrow will be better’ and when the chance to escape poverty comes their way, he seizes it despite the terrible price.

And so Jacob Marley is set on a path that leads to his infamous partnership with Ebenezer Scrooge. As Jacob builds a fortress of wealth to keep the world out, only Clara can warn him of the hideous fate that awaits him if he refuses to let love and kindness into his heart…

In Miss Marley, Vanessa Lafaye weaves a spellbinding Dickensian tale of ghosts, goodwill and hope – a perfect prequel to A Christmas Carol.

It is an incredibly difficult task to tackle redefining, adding on or reinventing an old classic, especially an internationally known story like A Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens. In this case there is another level of difficulty, because the author of Miss Marley, Vaness Lafaye, unfortunately passed away before she could finish this novella. Her friend and fellow writer Rebecca Mascull completed the book, so readers are now able to enjoy this beautiful addition to Dicken's characters.

There is a fine line between being an enthusiast of a writer and their work, and skewing their legacy. Let me be clear neither Lafaye nor Mascull have done anything of the sort. The original story has been left intact and the back-story of an important character has been developed instead.

Everyone who has read or seen A Christmas Carol will know who Jacob Marley is. The miserly colleague of Ebenezer Scrooge, who is doomed to wander the earth as a tormented and chained ghost, as punishment for being so greedy and selfish while he was alive. In Miss Marley we learn how Jacob came to be the jaded and ruthless businessman.

Miss Clara Marley is Jacob's sister and the two of them know better than anyone what it is like to live the life of a pauper. They were orphaned and thrown out into the streets when they were both young children. They starved, slept on the streets and suffered abuse at the hands of bigger bullies until one day when Jacob changes their fate forever.

What becomes clear is that Jacob is damaged by the traumatic events of his childhood. It has made him hard and unforgiving, even at the expense of his own happiness and that of his sister Clara.

Miss Marley is a book I would buy for any fan of Charles Dicken's. Lafaye and Mascull have stayed true to his writing and his characters. The story of Jacob and Clara fits in perfectly with A Christmas Carol. It is a story of forgiveness, redemption and understanding, even when the person who needs it most is unable to accept or see it.

Miss Marley deserves to become part of the classic tale of A Christmas Carol.

Buy Miss Marley at Amazon Uk or go to Goodreads for any other retailer.
Publisher: Harper Collins, HQStories, Pub Date 1 November 2018

#BlogTour The Stepsister by Jenny O'Brien

Today it's my turn on the BlogTour The Stepsister by Jenny O'Brien. A tense psychological thriller which unfolds between Guernsey and The Netherlands.

Don't forget to enter the fantastic Giveaway at the bottom of the post  - 1st Prize Win an e-copy of The Stepsister and crystal, tulip slider necklace , 2 x 2nd Prize – an e-copy of The Stepsister (Open Internationally)

About the Author
Jenny O'Brien was born in Ireland and, after a brief sojourn in Wales, now resides in Guernsey. She's an avid reader and book reviewer for NetGalley in addition to being a RoNA judge.
She writes for both children and adults with a new book coming out every six months or so. She's also an avid collector of cats, broken laptops, dust and happy endings - two of which you'll always find in her books.

In her spare time she can be found frowning at her wonky cakes and even wonkier breads. You'll be pleased to note she won't be entering Bake-Off.

About the book
When a stranger leaves step-sisters, Victoria and Ness, a half-share in a house in Holland, they think it must be a mistake. But there's no mistake when Ness goes missing.

Desperate for the truth, Victoria heads to Holland to find out what happened to her. Has she, as her texts show, embarked on a whirlwind romance? Has someone abducted her or even worse? But there’s someone watching, and that person wants her dead. Can Victoria find out the truth before it’s too late?

When the stepsisters Ness and Victoria receive notification of an inheritance in Holland they both have very different reactions to the news. Victoria isn't interested and Ness can't wait to find out how much money can be made on the other side of the North Sea. Ness leaves Nigel with her stepsister, boards a plane for the land of the tulips and is never seen again.

Victoria sets out to discover what happened, perhaps more out of annoyance than worry. She has a four-legged mutt to return to his owner. She quickly finds herself embroiled in a mystery and has to fight for her life.

It's almost symbolic how Nigel (the dog) becomes the invisible and tangible link between Vanessa and Victoria. The sisterly relationship they seem unable to build, sustain or even admit to on some level, takes place in the strangest way possible, via the dog. They both care and worry about Nigel, who becomes the accidental hero of the story, making him the furry conduit for their unspoken emotions.

This is all about relationships and bonds, regardless of whether there is a blood connection. The two women lose time and experiences, because they were raised to consider each other as separate entities, as opposed to part of one unit. Their mother made sure both of them took a stance against each other - like strangers in the same family.

The story weaves in and out of both women's stories, which might have been simpler to follow with a name at the start of the chapter or paragraph. Saying that I think that was intentional, due to the nature and development of the plot. Personally I would have liked more clarity and less improbable scenarios.

It's a tense psychological thriller which unfolds between Guernsey and The Netherlands. A tale of loss and gain in equal measures.

Buy The Stepsister at Amazon Uk or go to Goodreads for any other retailer.

Enter the fantastic Giveaway below to win:  - 1st Prize Win an e-copy of The Stepsister and crystal, tulip slider necklace , 2 x 2nd Prize – an e-copy of The Stepsister (Open Internationally)

a Rafflecopter giveaway
*Terms and Conditions –Worldwide entries welcome.  Please enter using the Rafflecopter box above. The winner will be selected at random via Rafflecopter from all valid entries and will be notified by Twitter and/or email. If no response is received within 7 days then I reserve the right to select an alternative winner. Open to all entrants aged 18 or over.  Any personal data given as part of the competition entry is used for this purpose only and will not be shared with third parties, with the exception of the winners’ information. This will passed to the giveaway organiser and used only for fulfilment of the prize, after which time I will delete the data.  I am not responsible for despatch or delivery of the prize*

Tuesday 30 October 2018

#BlogTour Last Train to Helsingør by Heidi Amsinck

Today it's an absolute pleasure to take part in the BlogTourLast Train to Helsingør by Heidi Amsinck. It's a collection of short tales of Scandinavian Noir with a huge dollop of spooky and a smidgen of creepy.

About the Author
Heidi Amsinck, a writer and journalist born in Copenhagen, spent many years covering Britain for the Danish press, including a spell as London Correspondent for the broadsheet daily Jyllands- Posten. She has written numerous short stories for radio, including the three-story sets Danish Noir Copenhagen Confidential and Copenhagen Curios, all produced by Sweet Talk for BBC Radio 4, which are included in this collection .
A graduate of the MA in Creative Writing at Birkbeck, University of London, Heidi lives in Surrey. She was previously shortlisted for the VS Pritchett Memorial Prize. Last Train to Helsingor is her first published collection of stories.

Follow @HeidiAmsinck1 @MuswellPress on Twitter
Buy Last Train to Helsingør

About the book
From the commuter who bitterly regrets falling asleep on a late-night train, to the mushroom hunter prepared to kill to guard her secret, Last Train to Helsingor is a chilling and darkly humorous collection of stories.

Copenhagen becomes a city of twilight and shadows, as canny antique dealers and property sharks get their comeuppance at the hands of old ladies, and ghosts act in most peculiar ways. With echoes of Daphne du Maurier, Roald Dahl and the fairy tales of Hans Christian Andersen, Last Train to Helsingor will keep you awake into the small hours.

Q&A with Heidi Amsinck  (provided by Muswell Press)

The stories are all set in Denmark and all have a fairy-tale like quality to them. Is there a
Danish tradition of ghost stories that you are influenced by?
Having grown up in Denmark, the romantic, bitter-sweet stories of Hans Christian Andersen are indelibly printed on my psyche. However, as a young child I preferred the gothic horror of Grimm’s fairy tales, which I swallowed raw, poring wide-eyed over the original illustrations by Philipp Grot Johann and Robert Leinweber. There is an echo of these fairy tales in the work of Karen Blixen, particularly the story collections Seven Gothic Tales and Anecdotes of Destiny, which have a deliciously mystic and eerie quality to them, and are the books I would save first if my house was on fire. But the biggest, single influence on my work has undeniably been the British TV series of Roald Dahl’s Tales of the Unexpected, broadcast with subtitles in Denmark in the early 1980s. I never missed an episode.

What is it that appeals to you about the short-story format?
I love the discipline of working towards a single moment of revelation, or epiphany, the deceptive simplicity of the format that requires months, sometimes years, of stripping back dead wood and random plot shoots, or at least trying to. Above all, I am an enthusiastic and humble reader of short stories, from Carver and Wolff to Chekhov and Maupassant. The perfect short story (see Flannery
O’Connor’s Good Country People or James Joyce’s The Dead) will floor you with a single blow, in a way no novel can.

You are Danish and yet you wrote the stories in English. Why is that?
I like the freedom English gives me to invent stuff about my place of birth: the Copenhagen of my stories is very much an imagined one, conjured from childhood memories and my love of mystery and darkness; writing in English, I am able to look at the city from a distance, noticing its otherness, like a stranger might.

Which is your favourite story in the collection and why?
There is a bit of me and my large Danish family in each and every story in this collection, but The Chanterelles of Østvig is particularly personal to me, as it was inspired by my father who taught me the secrets of mushroom hunting in Denmark’s great sand dune plantations. He passed away suddenly last summer, two days after my mother died from cancer. Childhood sweethearts from Copenhagen, they were in love for 65 years, and this collection is dedicated to them.

My first thought, and this was before I read a Q&A with Amsinck, was how much these tales reminded me of The Tales of the Unexpected (TV series from 1979 - 1988). A lot of the episodes were based on short stories written by Roald Dahl. The script writers often wrote endings or conclusions to the tales for the audience, whereas the stories they were based on were more inconclusive, open and mysterious. I grew up watching The Tales of the Unexpected, and much like the Hammer House of Horror and Graham Greene tales, the episodes were incredibly creepy and stuck in your mind for ages.

Although the author has taken inspiration from certain sources it is fair to say that she has put her very own Scandinavian Noir slant on her tales. No tale is alike except for the unusual twists and creepy factor. Now and again there is also a question of justice, morality and whether everything is always black or white.

The book includes the following tales:

Last Train to Helsingør - I bet there are plenty of people who sit on trains and wonder whether that train will end up taking them somewhere unexpected. You get a sense of lack of control, as you watch houses and fields whizz by, perhaps even more so when you can see nothing but darkness through the glass windows.
The Music Box - Sometimes a curse isn't just a collection of rumours, hearsay or Chinese Whispers repeated over decades. Sometimes a duck is just a duck, and a curse is really a curse.
The Chanterelles of Østvig - Gudrun Holm has a conundrum. She must share her secrets with someone before she dies, and yet at the same time she has to protect said secrets from ever being found out.
The Light from Dead Stars - This is one of my favourites too. Does the truth always have to come out? Are there people who deserve their destiny even if it is forced upon them? Is it always wrong to take things into your own hands?

The Man Upstairs - Do you know a man or woman upstairs? I bet if you thought about it for a while someone would come to mind. A person who has always been there throughout time - with no explanation as to how it may be possible. In fact I might just go look in the upstairs window to see if I can get a glimpse of his face.
Conning Mrs Vinterberg - You can't con a con-artist or trick a possible serial killer, especially ones that look like friendly little old ladies.
The Night Guard - The next time you go to an art gallery pay more attention to the details, perhaps some small element of the paintings change without you ever realising it.
The Bird in the Cage - I enjoyed this one, because it speaks to the innate greediness of man (persons). An item is only ever worth what someone is willing to pay for it. Make it more exclusive and add a tale of mystery to the item, and you just might end up paying a million pounds for a picture by an elusive artist which shreds itself as soon as said item is sold. (Nods in the direction of Banksy)
The Miracle in Dannersgarde - When is a miracle really a miracle and when is it just a coincidence? This is a story of faith being born unto the non-believer at a time when she needs it the most.

Like White Rain - Angels come in all shapes and sizes, and in this case it is an old suicidal man and an abused young girl finding comfort and the will to live by helping each other.
The Climbing Rose - This will make you wonder about the meticulous rose gardener you might know. The attention they pay to detail and the lengths they will go to to make the roses grow.
The Wailing Girl - The moral of this story is to never assume you have experienced everything in life and that karma might want to have a word if you try and screw with someone.
Room Service - When someone experiences the inexplicable the majority tend to side with the more practical and logical solution, because there is no such thing as ghosts right?
The Ghost of Helene Jørgensen - This tale is about justice, but it is also about leaving everything behind and starting a new life. Cutting all the strings, both positive and negative, that keep you attached to a life you expected to be more than just a daily struggle to survive.
The Suitcase - This tale is a bit like signing a contract with the devil, except you have no choice in the matter and your heart is dictating your actions. The stringent boundaries of OCD are skewed, which could be a good thing I suppose.

The Tallboy - This one reminded me of the kind of horror the Hammer House stories were known for. The kind of mystery you want to solve, but are really too frightened of the truth to find out.
Detained - What would make you crack? What kind of incident would make you re-evaluate your life and turn your back on everything and everyone? Do you think one scruffy man in an airport could make you think about what is really important in life?
The Crying - I guess the moral of this story is that you deserve what you get, especially if you lied to get it. I wonder if the insanity was already there buried deep inside him or whether the apartment made him do it? Do what...why kill of course.
The Last Tenant - Sometimes there is a reason a deal is a deal. A house that wants to draw you in, but doesn't really want anyone inside at all. Once you're in there is only one way out.

I am going to have a listen to these on audio (they have been read on BBC 4 radio). For people like me who as a child used to enjoy tuning in for The Whistler on the radio and being scared before bedtime, these tales will be perfect.
It's a collection of short tales of Scandinavian Noir with a huge dollop of spooky and a smidgen of creepy.

Buy Last Train to Helsingør at Amazon Uk or go to Goodreads for any other retailer.
Publisher: Muswell Press, Pub date 22 February 2018

Monday 29 October 2018

#BlogTour The Lonely Witness by William Boyle

It's a pleasure to take part in the BlogTour The Lonely Witness by William Boyle. It's a very character driven story. Noir and realism with a pinch of crime.

About the Author
William Boyle is from Brooklyn, New York. Boyle is also the author of Tout est Brisé, a novel recently released in France by Gallmeister, a book of short stories called Death Don’t Have No Mercy and the CWA John Creasey (New Blood) Dagger nominated Gravesend. He lives in Oxford, Mississippi. His third novel, A Friend is a Gift you Give Yourself, will be published by No Exit Press in 2019.

Follow @wmboyle4 @noexitpress on Twitter
Buy The Lonely Witness

About the book
Amy was once a party girl, but now she lives a lonely life. Helping the house-bound to receive communion in the Gravesend neighbourhood of Brooklyn, she knows the community well. When a local woman goes missing, Amy senses something isn’t right. Tailing the woman’s suspicious son, she winds her way through Brooklyn’s streets. But before she can act, he is dead. Captivated by the crime she’s witnessed and the murderer himself, Amy doesn’t call the cops. Instead, she collects the weapon from the sidewalk and soon finds herself on the trail of a killer.

Amy is a multi-layered character and that makes for an interesting conundrum for herself and the reader. She starts out as the supposedly reformed character, has found religion and become a paragon of the community. All her vices have been folded up and locked into a box, which includes her sexuality. As part of her daily duties she delivers communion to parishioners who haven't been able to attend church, during one of these visits she encounters an elderly woman who is very distressed.

A strange man keeps entering her home and searching through her belongings. At first Amy isn't sure whether the woman is imagining things, so she decides to wait and find out for herself. This leads to her meeting a man with dodgy intentions, and whilst trying to figure out what he is up to she witnesses a brutal murder.

This event, and the re-appearance of her alcoholic deadbeat father, seem to send her into a tailspin of sorts. The reinvention of Amy deteriorates within the blink of an eye, as she falls back into old self-destructive patterns and the life of the silent witness.

At times it felt as if the story was drifting along without a real intent or purpose, however I think if you view the story as a noirish Polaroid moment, as opposed to a contemporary happy-go-lucky piece, the lack of intent is more understandable.

Not sure if it was the intention, but there is this pull to take off each individual layer to discover why Amy acts the way she does and felt the need to change. The biggest question being why she feels the need to hide her sexuality, and why she links that with what she considers to be less than stellar behaviour.

It's a gritty crime novel with a noirish slant. It doesn't offer up shiny hopeful characters, instead it features the stark reality of life. It's a very character driven story. Noir and realism with a pinch of crime.

Buy The Lonely Witness at Amazon Uk or go to Goodreads for any other retailer.
Publisher: No Exit Press, Pub. date 25 October 2018

Sunday 28 October 2018

#BlogTour No One Can Hear You by Nikki Crutchley

Today it's my turn on the BlogTour No One Can Hear You by Nikki Crutchley. It's a fast-paced drama-filled nightmare, which serves as a stark reminder of how brutal this world can be.

About the Author
Nikki Crutchley lives in Cambridge, New Zealand with her husband and two daughters. No One Can Hear You is Nikki’s second crime novel, set in the small Waikato town of Crawton. Her first book, Nothing Bad Happens Here, a crime/thriller set on the Coromandel Coast of New Zealand was a finalist in the 2018 Ngaio Marsh Award for best first novel. Nikki has worked in libraries in New Zealand and the UK and now works as a freelance proofreader. Nikki’s flash fiction has been published online and in the Fresh Ink anthology and the upcoming Bonsai anthology.

Follow @NikkiCAuthor on Twitter, On Facebook
Buy No One Can Hear You

About the book
He said that they’d let me go on purpose. That they could easily find me if they wanted to. He said that they didn’t want me. That I was too much trouble. He said if I went to the cops, he’d know. If I told Sonya, he’d know. If I talked to friends or teachers, he’d know. He told me to pretend it didn’t happen. He told me to consider it a compliment, that I was too strong. His last words to me were, ‘Just forget’.

Troubled teen Faith Marsden was one of several girls abducted from Crawton, a country town known for its picturesque lake and fertile farmland. Unlike the others, she escaped, though sixteen years on she still bears the emotional and physical scars.

Zoe Haywood returns to Crawton to bury her estranged mother Lillian, who has taken her own life. As she and Faith rekindle their high-school friendship, they discover notes left by Lillian that point to two more young women who recently disappeared from Crawton. But Lillian’s confused ramblings leave them with more questions than answers.

As Faith and Zoe delve deeper into the mystery, they become intent on saving the missing women, but in doing so are drawn into Auckland’s hidden world of drugs, abduction and murder. And then Faith decides to confront the mastermind – on her own.

The story starts out strong, featuring a young girl called Faith, caught in a nightmare without a way out. She trusted the wrong person and is going to pay the ultimate price for it.

Fast forward over a decade and it's a new day and a new missing girl, but this time the disappearances haven't gone unnoticed and that also means a lot of loose ends have to be taken care of. One of those loose ends is Zoe's estranged mother. A mother in the first throes of the destructive disease called Alzheimers. Not sure what is a memory and what is just fragments concocted by her damaged brain. The only permanent fixture on reality are the notes she writes in her little notepads. The kind of notes that could be dangerous if read by the wrong person - someone like her daughter Zoe.

When Zoe comes back home after the unexpected death of her mother she finds herself in the middle of a fight against time for one of the victims, and in a nest of vipers. She isn't sure who can be trusted and who may be part of a very profitable and inhumane criminal ring.

This reminds me of Gothika, a forgotten little gem of a thriller, which also features the forgotten people in society. In this story the girls no one misses and no one cares about play a major role in the plot. The girls and young women without a family, who live on the edge of society. The troublesome young women who run away from their problems - or do they?

It's a nightmare scenario, perhaps because it is so close to reality. There are gangs who shop for young teens and children at the request of human traffickers and paedophile rings. There are very high dark numbers of missing people, who fall into the clutches of said criminals and aren't even missed. You don't miss what you don't acknowledge. A sad reminder of how our society fails certain groups of people.

It's a creepy drama filled nightmare, which can be an uncomfortable read at times. Let it be a reminder to pay more attention to those in need and to teach our children to be more wary in a world full of possible predators.

Buy No One Can Hear You at Amazon Uk or go to Goodreads for any other retailer.
Publisher: Oak House Press (24 Sept. 2018)

#BlogTour Painting Blue Water by Leigh Fossan

Today it's my turn on the BlogTour Painting Blue Water by Leigh Fossan. Fossan reminds us to re-evaluate what makes us happy and that it is never too late to start over.

About the Author
Painting Blue Water is the debut novel for Leigh Fossan. A creative soul at heart, Leigh grew up with a paintbrush in her hand, and went on to study the arts in Florence, Italy. While abroad, Leigh was one of the few recipients of the Coluccio Salutati Award for Creative Writing. Today, Leigh is a professional artist and her paintings are collected around the world. She lives in Colorado with her artist husband, and their young daughter, who wants to be a scientist.
You can see Leigh's paintings at

Follow @LeighFossan on Twitter 

About the book
Katherine Ross, a struggling artist-turned-successful-businesswoman, has a life many would envy. At only thirty-one years old, Katherine runs one of the top luxury real-estate firms in Manhattan, and she lives in a fabulous loft with her dreamy husband. That is, of course, until her marriage comes to a screeching halt, forcing Katherine to face the truths she’s been burying deep within her heart. She hasn’t been happy for a long time. And her life, while glamorous, is not the life she ever wanted.

Fighting through the fog of her confusion and pain, Katherine makes the daring, or possibly insane, choice to start over somewhere new. She leaves her business, her friends, and the city behind, while she ventures alone to the mountains in hopes of rediscovering her artistic roots in a place surrounded by beauty, peace, and quiet.
But life in Bluewater isn’t as simple as it may seem, and when her art career suddenly begins to take off in this unlikely setting, Katherine finds herself torn between two worlds. Does she pursue her lifelong dream and become the world-famous artist she always wanted to be? Or does she open her heart to the possibility of new dreams and a life she never imagined?

What really comes through for me in this book is not only the love of art, but also the love of life, beauty and nature. Being able to take a step back from the world moving around us and appreciate the silence, the sounds, the views.

Katherine does exactly that or rather she has the luxury to do so - for some people it is a little harder to afford themselves the luxury of taking a breath and enjoying the wonderful views the world has to offer. That is the reality of our day and age, although I would always advocate for anything that makes the body calmer and heals the heart.

After finding peace, loving relationships and success in the art world, Katherine has to make the ultimate choice. Does she follow her love of art or does she choose what makes her heart grow fonder? Success or love? It may seem to be a simple answer to some, but to a person damaged by life and discouraged by previous relationships, the answer may cause some confusion.

I would like to see the same passion you can feel for the art and the conjured imagery of the surroundings flow into the dialogue and the rest of the story. At the moment you can read and feel where the heart beats faster and the breath catches, now these moments have translate into other moments in the book.

Fossan reminds us to re-evaluate what makes us happy and that it is never too late to start over. Difficult periods and relationships in your life doesn't mean you can't find a way forward or find your moments of happiness in the small things. The trick is being able to recognise which moments and what things elicit your happiness.

That is what I am taking away from this story - being brave enough to find your own brand of happy.

Buy Painting Blue Water at Amazon Uk or go to Goodreads for any other retailer.
Buy at Barnes & Noble Buy at Amazon com
Publisher: Blue Water Publishing, Pub. date 31 May 2018

Friday 26 October 2018

#BlogTour Come and Find Me by Sarah Hilary

I missed my spot on this fantastic BlogTour Come and Find Me by Sara Hilary, due to personal circumstances. here is my blog post. Better late than never, eh? Thank you to Sarah Hilary and Headline Books for being so understanding.

About the Author
Sarah Hilary’s debut, Someone Else’s Skin, won Theakstons Crime Novel of the Year 2015 and was a World Book Night selection for 2016. The Observer’s Book of the Month (‘superbly disturbing’) and a Richard & Judy Book Club bestseller, it has been published worldwide. No Other Darkness, the second in the series was shortlisted for a Barry Award in the US. Her DI Marnie Rome series continued with Tastes Like Fear, and Quieter Than Killing.

Follow @sarah_hilary @headlinepg on Twitter
Buy Come and Find Me

About the book
On the surface, Lara Chorley and Ruth Hull have nothing in common, other than their infatuation with Michael Vokey. Each is writing to a sadistic inmate, sharing her secrets, whispering her worst fears, craving his attention.

DI Marnie Rome understands obsession. She’s finding it hard to give up her own addiction to a dangerous man: her foster brother, Stephen Keele. She wasn’t able to save her parents from Stephen. She lives with that guilt every day.

As the hunt for Vokey gathers pace, Marnie fears one of the women may have found him - and is about to pay the ultimate price...
When the dangerous criminal Michael Vokey escapes, the suspicion quickly falls on the women he has been communicating with via written correspondence. Although guilty of a serious assault and abusive behaviour, he has managed to convince them of his innocence.

These women are like Charlie Manson groupies. It isn't just about saving Michael and getting justice for him, well in their minds it is, there is also some level of Hybristophilia involved. When being aroused is contingent on the object of arousal having committed some kind of atrocity. These women share something with DI Marnie Rome, they are all equally obsessed. Marnie just happens to be obsessed with the man who killed her parents and the reasons why he killed them.

Stephen is smack-bang in the middle of this story again, because he is an inmate at the prison where Michael was incarcerated. Now Michael Vokey is on the run and the police not only want to find him before he hurts someone or attacks his victim again, they also want to know how he managed to escape.

I really enjoyed the creepy occasional narrator - the voice of knowledge who sheds a light on everything and has a completely different perspective on all of the events. The other element of the story I found incredibly interesting was the focus on the criminal culpability when it comes to verbal coercion. This topic has been bandied around more in the last decade or so and legislation in the UK has taken a step forward when it comes to coercion and verbal abuse. If you tell someone suicidal to kill themselves shouldn't you be held accountable for your actions? Sometimes words are weapons and should be seen as such.

It's fair to say that Hilary has written a crime within a crime, which is hidden in the midst of a secret agenda and an unhealthy obsession. The obvious guilty party is guilty and yet innocent at the same time. There is no black or white scenario in this story, just many different shades of grey...dirty grey.

Buy Come and Find Me (DI Marnie Rome Book 5) at Amazon Uk or go to Goodreads for any other retailer. Published in paperback by Headline on 4th October 2018.

#BlogTour Steel and Shadows by Stuart Field

Today it's my turn on the BlogTour Steel and Shadows by Stuart Field. It's a combination of police procedural, thriller and mystery all in one action-packed read.

About the Author
Stuart Field was born in the UK, in the West Midlands. He spent his early years in the army, seeing service in all the known (and some unknown) hotspots around the world. He now lives in Germany with his wife Ani. When not engaged in highly confidential security work, he writes thrillers which
perhaps mimic his life-experience more than the reader would like to believe.

Follow @StuartField14 @CrimeSceneBooks on Twitter, Buy Steel and Shadows 

About the book
No-nonsense NYPD detective Sam McCall is investigating one of the deadliest and most complex cases of her career when the mysterious, yet infuriatingly intriguing, John Steel insinuates himself into the department. What appears at first to be the work of a serial killer soon encompasses a cast including violent Russian gangsters, creepy psychiatric doctors, the homeless community and ghosts from the past for both McCall and Steel. This fast-paced thriller combines grit and glamour, the
well-drawn characters engage the reader from the outset and the Big Apple is beautifully captured in all its majestic, romantic, seedy, grimy colour. This debut novel keeps the reader gripped from start to finish with a breathtaking joyride through a wild series of unexpected twists and turns, inevitably falling into the pitfalls of thinking you’ve solved the mystery, only to find yourself wrong-footed on the next page.

The story reminded me of a mixture of Die Hard action meets love hate relationship of Lethal Weapon, except instead of two male leads you have McCall and Steel in the starring roles. Steel is charming and polished, whilst McCall is more brusque and down to earth. McCall is never quite sure whether she wants Steel to fall down the nearest manhole or slide naked into her shower. Either way it makes for some interesting tension in this unwanted and unusual work relationship, and on top of that Steel seems to end up allegedly dead quite a lot.

Steel should fill out an application form for the Justice League, they could probably use Steel aka Mr Indestructible on their team. The man literally survives entire buildings falling on him. Perhaps the trauma he went through as a young man has made him feel as if nothing can touch him. The guilt of being the sole survivor of the attack on his family has made him reckless with his own safety.

This isn't just fast-paced it whizzes, there is so much going on at times it felt as if there were too many sub-plots shooting along at the same time. The book starts off with the traumatic incident that takes the lives of Steel's family and then hops straight into the sub-plot about a serial killer who targets specific women.

The relationship between McCall and Steel promises to deliver plenty of future book material. There is an undeniable spark between the two of them, despite the fact their working relationship can be a bit erratic because of the way Steel works. It's kind of the act first and tell everyone what you are up to after the fact relationship.

Field brings the action, there is no doubt about that, and he also brings an element of mystery to the story when it comes to Steel and this strange shadowy figure which appears now and again. It's a combination of police procedural, thriller and mystery all in one action-packed read.

Buy Steel and Shadows (John Steel thriller series Book 1) at Amazon Uk or go to Goodreads for any other retailer. Publisher: Crime Scene Books, Pub Date 11 October 2018
Coming in 2019:
Hidden Steel (John Steel thriller series Book 2) Steel Justice (John Steel thriller series Book 3)

Thursday 25 October 2018

#BlogTour Paris in the Dark by Robert Olen Butler

Today it's my pleasure to take part in the BlogTour Paris in the Dark by Robert Olen Butler.
Butler does an excellent job of adding the complexity, trauma and pain of war to this subtle spy story.

About the Author
Robert Olen Butler is one of America’s most highly regarded writers, having published 17 novels, 6 short story collections, and a book on the creative process. Among his numerous awards is the Pulitzer Prize which he won for A Good Scent for a Strange Mountain.

Four of his novels are historical espionage thrillers in the Christopher Marlowe Cobb series, a character far closer to Robert than any other he has written. Like ‘Kit’ Cobb, Robert also went to war, was part of the military intelligence and a reporter and editor at an investigative business newspaper. Robert is also a widely admired and sought after university teacher of creative writing and counts among his former students another Pulitzer Prize winner.
Follow @RobtOlenButler @noexitpress on Twitter
Buy Paris in the Dark

About the book
AUTUMN 1915. The First World War is raging across Europe. Woodrow Wilson has kept Americans out of the trenches, although that hasn’t stopped young men and women from crossing the Atlantic to volunteer at the front.

Christopher Marlowe ‘Kit’ Cobb, a Chicago reporter and undercover agent for the US government is in Paris when he meets an enigmatic nurse called Louise. Officially in the city for a story about American ambulance drivers, Cobb is grateful for the opportunity to get to know her but soon his intelligence handler, James Polk Trask, extends his mission. Parisians are meeting ‘death by dynamite’ in a new campaign of bombings, and the German-speaking Kit seems just the man to discover who is behind this – possibly a German operative who has infiltrated with the waves of refugees? And so begins a pursuit that will test Kit Cobb, in all his roles, to the very limits of his principles, wits and talents for survival.

Fleetly plotted and engaging with political and cultural issues that resonate deeply today, Paris in the Dark is the finest novel yet in this riveting series.

It's been a while since I have read a spy story in a war setting. It is almost like revisiting an old friend or neighbourhood. Even the title speaks to the unwritten stories we keep hidden in our lives. The moments we spend alone watching others in silence. The unaccounted forgotten minutes and seconds in time when we are either at one with ourselves or find it difficult to resign ourselves to the reality of who we are.

Butler makes it seem easy, this writing malarkey, a seemingly effortless venture into the world of a man who has many faces and personalities. Kit Cobb is aware of his duplicity on a conscious level, because it is a both a career and choice of conscience, but on a more subconscious level he is unaware of how fragile a tightrope he may be walking.

On the surface he is an American journalist reporting on the hidden stories in war-torn countries. His other role, and certainly the more vital one in this environment, is as a spy. A man who can meld into a crowd of Germans with ease and in the next moment manipulate a variety of different government operatives.

He is looking for a needle in a haystack - a bomber in the middle of Paris. A person who wants to cause destruction, death and confusion amongst the Allies and the Parisians. His contacts lead him straight to a den of Huns, who at a first glance have every reason to fight their own battle in the Great War from the inside out. Hidden in plain sight, and usually above every suspicion. It doesn't take Cobb long to find out that there is definitely a needle, however it may be the wrong kind of needle in this particular haystack.

Butler does an excellent job of adding the complexity, trauma and pain of war to this subtle spy story. In fact it is so secondary the reader just takes it on board automatically. It's a well-written smooth story that draws you in without you realising. It captures your attention and reels you in slowly, which is part of Butler's skill.

Buy Paris in the Dark at Amazon Uk or go to Goodreads for any other retailer.
Publisher: No Exit Press, Pub. date: 25 October 2018

Wednesday 24 October 2018

#BlogTour The Senator's Assignment by Joan E. Histon

Today it's my turn on the BlogTour The Senator's Assignment by Joan E. Histon. It's an intriguing combination of historical fiction with an element of mystery and crime.

About the Author
Joan Histon has a background as a professional counsellor. She began her writing career as a ghost writer when two clients expressed an interest in telling their own dramatic stories.

After the publication of Thy Will be Done... Eventually! and Tears in the Dark, she was commissioned to write the true story of 'The Shop on Pilgrim Street'. Having also published short stories in several national magazines, The Senator's Assignment is Joan's debut novel.

As well as writing, Joan is a Methodist local preacher, a gifted story-teller, spiritual director, mother and a reluctant gardener. She lives in Hexham, Northumberland with her husband, Colin.

Buy The Senator's Assignment

About the book
Being trusted by a Caesar makes him an enemy of the Roman who crucified Jesus Christ, and puts him under threat from Rome itself Rome 30 AD. A Senator is plunged into the dark heart of the Roman Empire, sent to investigate the corrupt practices of Pontius Pilate in Jerusalem by Caesar Tiberius. In this tense historical thriller can Senator Vivius Marcianus outmanoeuvre charges of treason, devastating secrets resurfaced from his own troubled past, and the political snake pit of Rome to save himself and the woman he loves?

Senator Vivius Marcianus is a man who believes in the omnipotent power of the Caesares. He believes in the Roman Republic and patrician regime of the Senate, and  yet he sometimes doubts one man should hold all the power - a conflict which drives his decisions and political support.

Tiberius trusts him implicitly, which is how Vivius ends up pretending to be a Senator interested in the market potential of olives, whilst secretly investigating the fraudulent and violent actions of his fellow Romans. At the same time he is trying to keep his loved ones safe, as he plays a dangerous game of political chess.

Histon comes at the period of the beginning of the sect of the Nazarenes, the death of their charismatic leader Jesus and the years following his alleged rising from the dead, in a more factual and suitably historical fashion. A more realistic version of events, despite it being a mixture of fact and fiction.

A story relayed over many centuries via hearsay and written accounts is told from a new perspective, one more in keeping with the time and the political and historical era. Vivius is asked to look into some concerns regarding the actions of Pontius Pilate, the fifth prefect of the Roman province of Judaea, serving under Emperor Tiberius. Pilate is known as the person ultimately responsible for the death of Jesus of Nazareth.

Pilate's strings are being pulled by someone close to Tiberius, a person with plenty of power and an ulterior motive. Both of them are willing to threaten and kill to keep their secrets, which means Vivius and his friends have to watch their backs.

I hope this is just the beginning of intrigue, betrayal and politics with Senator Vivius Marcianus. It's not like the Roman Empire doesn't offer up plenty of room for future plots. Hopefully Histon will give readers further opportunities to engage with Vivius. It's an interesting combination of historical fiction with elements of politics, mystery and crime.

Buy The Senator's Assignment at Amazon Uk or go to Goodreads for any other retailer.
Publisher: Top Hat Books, Pub. date 26 Oct. 2018

#BlogTour Right on the Monet by Malcolm Parnell

I missed my spot on the BlogTour Right on the Monet by Malcolm Parnell (due to personal circumstances) - here is my post...

About the Author
Malcolm Parnell has a passion for painting and teaches art and drawing skills when he is not working on his next novel. His other passion, apart from his good lady wife, Marion, is Leicester City Football Club. Becoming an author and Leicester win the Premier League have been two of his greatest ambitions realised.

Follow @PaintAuthor @3ppublishing1 on Twitter, on Facebook

About the book
New York - Claude Monet painting is stolen.
Mediterranean - Of all the things Harry Chase had imagined in his life, being a drummer on a cruise ship band was not one that would have occurred to him. And yet, there he was. Centre stage, behind a young female singer along with his mates, Dave, Tony and Steve.

Which meant that getting involved in a jewellery theft, an on-board massage parlour and the hunt for an Old Master was even further from his mind as he cracked the snare drum.
And yet, this was exactly how he found himself being questioned by Interpol …..

This is the third book featuring Harry Chase and his strange group of friends. The books can be read as standalone novels, but there is enough of the previous stories mentioned for the reader to follow the history of the group. The books aren't necessarily recognisable as a series until you read the blurbs, perhaps it's something which could be added to the book description or title. #HarryChase

What can I say about Harry & Co? Think men's locker room banter and the typical sexist, and slightly misogynistic comments and jokes one might encounter in said environment. Then imagine a group of men, a few with their respective partners, solving crime. In essence that is Right on the Monet.

The theft of the painting plays more of a secondary role in the story. The book starts with the theft and then it isn't mentioned until nearly halfway through the story. The first half is more about the banter between the group and how they accidentally tend to fall into mysteries and solving crimes.

The women are portrayed as nothing more than sexual objects and of course everyone has the hots for the main character Harry. Of course, because every man is irresistible to each and every woman.

The way the men, especially Harry tend to talk about their partners and women in general can be a bit off-putting, it depends on whether locker room thoughts and talk is your thing. If that particular aspect were taken away I think the read would find a bigger audience, because the rest of the story has a cosy mystery comedy feel to it.

Aside from that it is an entertaining comedy of awkward amateur sleuths with a propensity for falling into the midst of mysteries and strife.

Buy Right on the Monet at Amazon Uk or go to Goodreads for any other retailer.
(Buy links to follow soon)

Buy A Brush with Death at Amazon Uk by Malcolm Parnell or go to Goodreads for any other retailer. Buy A Fool and his Money at Amazon Uk by Malcolm Parnell or go to Goodreads for any other retailer.