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Archive for November, 2017

A Ragbag of Riches Cover

** My thanks to Rachel for my copy of this & for inviting me to be part of the blog tour **

 

Description:

This collection of quips and quotes creates a book for the bower, the bedside, the bath and for browsing; a book at arm’s length from the deck chair, for the tedium of travel but above all for pleasure.

It is a haphazard collection: the Ragbag covering the rougher, even vulgar (but nevertheless witty) entries of graffiti, newspaper headlines and bumper stickers, the Riches being the poetry, prayers and prose of fine minds that inspire by their beauty, sincerity and sublime use of words. At the lower end, I love the astringency and ability of the authors to poke fun with the sharpness of a red-hot needle. At the top end, silver words and profound wisdom sometimes lead me to tears.

So I invite you to wallow or skip lightly. I hope there is something in this salmagundi to make you smile or catch the affections of your heart; to mingle quiet music with amiable irreverence.

My Thoughts & Review:

I’m fast becoming a fan of books like this, there’s something so enjoyable about a book that you can pick up at your leisure and read a page or two and take something new from it each time.  Combining witty quips, poems, obituaries, some wonderfully charming illustrations, this book is a journey through a collection of delights amassed by James Chilton over some fifty years.

Flicking through this at first glance there are many things that catch my eye, the clean layout, the drawings and the commentary notes on certain things.
Collective nouns are something I find interesting and so when I found a page with these on it I was pleasantly surprised.  There is a note about the source of this sort of information, the author mentioning that there are a number of books that have been published with exhaustive lists of these collective nouns and that these are some of the favoured ones.  I particularly liked “A Conspiracy of Ravens”, “A Flamboyance of Flamingos” and “A Prattle of Parrots” – such lovely alliteration.

The section on prayers was one that brought a chuckle, for having worked as a secretary many years ago I could find great humour in “A Prayer For Secretaries”, lines such as “And when the boss asks me to stay late to type a three page letter that absolutely must go out today and then he doesn’t sign it until tomorrow, please help me keep my mouth shut” definitely struck a chord.

Village names are also a fun section, my home town being known as Brokenwind or Somerset having such names as Mudford SockPuddletown, or Wyke Champflower.  Aren’t these just such wonderful words?

This is one of those books that’s perfect to pick up if you’re in the mood for a quite read, and it’s easy to read a few pages before noticing you’ve actually read an entire section!  The title couldn’t be more fitting, it really is a ragbag of riches and I suspect that this would make a wonderful gift.

I’ll leave you with a wonderful quote from Stephen Amidon, an American author and film critic “Fall asleep reading a good book and you enter a world of dreams; fall asleep in a film and you miss the end.”

You can buy a copy of A Ragbag of Riches via Amazon UK

 

About the Author:

A grandfather of nine and a father of four, James Chilton lives with his wife and two labradors in Chipping Norton, Oxfordshire. He holds diplomas in Architectural History from Oxford University, in Design and in Plantsmanship from The English Gardening School and a certificate in the Decorative Arts from the Victoria & Albert Museum. Perennially busy, James draws, sculpts, designs gardens and jewelry and is a member of Bart’s Choir. He also a member of the International Dendrology Society and has lectured at the Royal Geographical Society and in Oxford. His first book, The Last Blue Mountain, was published in 2015.

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CATLKB - KNITTING BOX –FRONT_150 dpi FOR AMAZON AND WEBSITES

** My thanks to Rachel and Helen for my copy of this and for inviting me to be part of the blog tour **

 

Description:

Christmas is coming and New York is in full swing for the snowy season. But at The Little Knitting Box in the West Village, things are about to change …

The Little Knitting Box has been in Cleo’s family for nearly four decades, and since she arrived fresh off the plane from the Cotswolds four years ago, Cleo has been doing a stellar job of running the store. But instead of an early Christmas card in the mail this year, she gets a letter that tips her world on its axis.

Dylan has had a tumultuous few years. His marriage broke down, his mother passed away and he’s been trying to pick up the pieces as a stay-at-home dad. All he wants this Christmas is to give his kids the home and stability they need. But when he meets Cleo at a party one night, he begins to see it’s not always so easy to move on and pick up the pieces, especially when his ex seems determined to win him back.

When the snow starts to fall in New York City, both Cleo and Dylan realise life is rarely so black and white and both of them have choices to make. Will Dylan follow his heart or his head? And will Cleo ever allow herself to be a part of another family when her own fell apart at the seams?

Full of snow, love and the true meaning of Christmas, this novel will have you hooked until the final page.

My Thoughts & Review:

When a book title has something to do with knitting it’s almost destined to catch my eye, and this one certainly did.  The description made it sound like a perfect read for a wintery cold Sunday afternoon so I curled up on the sofa with my kindle and a hot chocolate and soon forgot about the housework.

This is such a lovely and cosy story, with characters that readers cannot help but take into their hearts and want to hug close.  And the wool shop, well that’s got to be my favourite part of the story!  Having visited one or two wool shops over the years (ok so many wool shops), I can officially say I’ve never been to one as amazing as that described by Helen!  I definitely would like to go to it though, it sounded so wonderful.  The rainbow of shades of yarn mentioned sounded quite magical, the descriptions of the yarns, the smells, it all felt so real as if I were standing in The Knitting Box.

The way that this story is written, giving readers a glimpse at the perspectives of both Cleo and Dylan means that you get to know them both, get really see what they are like and in turn feel connected and invested in them.  Cleo’s assistant Kaisha is a lovely character, her enthusiasm and passion are wonderfully written and I’d love to see her in her own novel!
Christmas in New York is always a lovely setting and in this book it’s perfect!  It works so well with the budding romance between Cleo and Dylan, the “will they, won’t they” feel to it all just makes for a more enjoyable read.

You can buy a copy of Christmas at the Little Knitting Box via:

Amazon UK
Amazon US

 

GIVEAWAY:

CATLKB - bookbirthdaygiveaway prize

For your chance to Win Christmas at the Little Knitting Box paperback & Galaxy Minstrels (UK Only) please click on this link to the Rafflecopter giveaway

 

About the Author:

Helen J Rolfe writes contemporary women’s fiction with an emphasis on relationships and love. She enjoys weaving stories about family, friendship, secrets, and characters who face challenges and fight to overcome them. Helen enjoys creating strong female lead characters and although her stories often deal with serious issues, they always have a happy ending.

Location is a big part of the adventure in Helen’s books and she enjoys setting stories in different cities and countries around the world. So far, locations have included Melbourne, Sydney, New York, Connecticut, Bath and the Cotswolds.

Born and raised in the UK, Helen graduated from University with a business degree and began working in I.T. This job took her over to Australia and it was there that she studied writing and journalism and began writing for women’s health and fitness magazines. She also volunteered with the PR department of a children’s hospital where she wrote articles and media releases. Helen began writing fiction in 2011 and hasn’t missed the I.T. world one little bit, although the I.T. skills have come in handy of course, especially when it comes to creating and maintaining a website.

After fourteen years of living in Australia, Helen returned to the UK and now lives in Hertfordshire with her husband and their children.

Website – http://www.helenjrolfe.com/

Facebook – https://www.facebook.com/helenjrolfewriter

Twitter  – https://twitter.com/HJRolfe


And if that wasn’t exciting enough, I’ve got the great honour of sharing this exciting news with you too!

Snowflakes and Mistletoe at the Inglenook Inn (New York Ever After, Book 2)

It’s the most wonderful time of the year…but is it the time to fall in love? 

As the flames on the log fire flicker and the snowflakes swirl above the New York streets, maybe this Christmas could be the one that changes everything…

When Darcy returns to Manhattan, she’s put in charge of the Inglenook Inn, a cosy boutique hotel in the heart of Greenwich Village. The Inn needs a boost in bookings if it’s to survive the competition, so Darcy is convinced that hosting Christmas this year is the answer. What she doesn’t expect is to meet a face from the past, which can only spell trouble.

Myles left England behind and took a job in New York. It’s a step forwards in his career, and has the added bonus of being nowhere near his family. He’s also hoping to avoid Christmas, the worst time of the year. But when his company puts him up at the Inglenook Inn and he recognises Darcy, it isn’t long before they clash. 

When disaster strikes, can Myles and Darcy put their differences aside to make Christmas at the Inglenook Inn a success?

Publication Date – 12tth December 2017

Pre-order Now!

Amazon UK

Amazon.com

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** My thanks to Josie at Ebury for my copy of this book **

 

Description:

Do you remember when you believed in magic?

The Emporium opens with the first frost of winter. It is the same every year. Across the city, when children wake to see ferns of white stretched across their windows, or walk to school to hear ice crackling underfoot, the whispers begin: the Emporium is open!

It is 1917, and London has spent years in the shadow of the First World War. In the heart of Mayfair, though, there is a place of hope. A place where children’s dreams can come true, where the impossible becomes possible – that place is Papa Jack’s Toy Emporium.

For years Papa Jack has created and sold his famous magical toys: hobby horses, patchwork dogs and bears that seem alive, toy boxes bigger on the inside than out, ‘instant trees’ that sprout from boxes, tin soldiers that can fight battles on their own. Now his sons, Kaspar and Emil, are just old enough to join the family trade. Into this family comes a young Cathy Wray – homeless and vulnerable. The Emporium takes her in, makes her one of its own. But Cathy is about to discover that while all toy shops are places of wonder, only one is truly magical…

My Thoughts & Review:

I’m sure we can agree that I’m a sucker for a pretty book cover by now, I have no problem admitting that a snazzy or interesting cover will grab my eye and so when I saw The Toymakers I was instantly wowed.  The colouring and images were eye-catching, beautiful and screamed “READ ME”.  Although this book isn’t out until February 2018, I was delighted to receive an early copy to fall in love with.

The early 1900s setting of this book adds to the magic of the tale for me, it’s a time when innocence and wonder still exist in the minds of children, when families would make the trip to a toyshop for Christmas gifts and be awed by the magic within the store, and that’s just what happens at Papa Jack’s Emporium in London.   But to offset this wonderland of toys, there’s the tale of young Cathy Wray, a pregnant fifteen year old girl who sees a seasonal add in the local paper for Papa Jack’s Emporium.

With narration through Cathy’s eyes, we truly experience the Emporium at it’s best.  The wonder and excitement she experiences seeing the displays and the toys really sparked something within me, reminding me of toys from childhood, the innocence and happiness Christmases past.
The way that the toys are described conjured such crisp and vivid images in my head, such amazing creations that I wish I could physically see – they alone make me wish that this would be turned into a Christmas film!

The real story however, really begins when the Emporium closes with the flowering of the first snowdrops.  From here we get to see a different side of the characters in this book, we see a different side to Kaspar Godman, we learn more about Emil Godman, and more importantly we learn the true meaning of the toys made for the Emporium by the man behind it all, Papa Jack.

As the plot moves on in time, the characters mature and in turn their perspectives do too, we begin seeing events through the eyes of an adult Cathy, the troubles of adult responsibility lying heavy on her shoulders as the years have advanced towards WWI.  The change in tone from the childlike innocence at the beginning of the book is superb and really gives the reader the impression of character growth, facing reality of the world around them and how events outwith their control have impacted upon them.
Seeing the way that war played a part in the lives of these characters was so well written, the stark contrast with the childhood innocence was powerful and almost painful to read in places.

Whilst there are undoubtedly moments of pure joy woven expertly throughout the plot, there are also moments of heartbreaking sadness.  Whilst reading I was aware of a lump in my throat, hoping that the inevitable could somehow be crafted into a magical event to change the outcome.  I think it’s a sign of a well written novel that it can pull so many emotions from the reader, and this one certainly did.

A superbly written novel which is in equal parts enjoyable as it intelligent.  The themes throughout make this a book that you can take so much from, there are snippets into the minds characters who survive great sadness, loss, wars.  There are characters who evolve and become shadows, and there are ones who remind you to never forget the magic of being a child.

Now to find somewhere that will make a wind-up patchwork dog……..

You can pre order a copy via Amazon UK

 

 

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** my thanks to the author for my copy of this book **

 

Description:

A boy goes missing during a workers’ strike in 1980s Communist Poland. A journalist in Warsaw is looking for her brother, who’s been missing for twenty years. A London financier is struggling with panic attacks. In Chicago, an old man is dying in a nursing home.

What connects them? As the mystery unravels, the protagonists’ worlds are turned upside down.

My Thoughts & Review:

The Walls Came Down is a book that I found almost impossible to put down once I started reading, the characters and the plot became so very real to me and I found that I desperately didn’t want to part with them, not even to refresh the cuppa that had been forgotten about and gone cold.

Following the stories of three people, Joanna a journalist in Poland, Matty a financier in England and Tom, a old man dying in America, the reader is taken on an emotional journey that tugs at the heartstrings.
The book opens in 1988 in Warsaw at a strike march in Communist Poland, and we meet a mother and her two children who plan to watch the events of the strike, like many in the crowd they are there to see what happens, there are flags and banners everywhere and the buzz of excitement is rife in the air.  Unfortunately for that family, one of the children goes missing, young Adam disappears without a trace that day and his family are bereft.
The little girl never gives up on her brother, and continues her search for twenty years.

Meanwhile, an elderly man in America reflects upon his life, the decisions he’s made and the paths he’s taken after finding out that he is dying.  His move to a nursing home prompts friendships and conversations that he might never have imagined but ultimately he is glad of them, for they are the catalyst for change and ultimately closure.
In England, Matty struggles with his anxiety, and feels that he needs to break away from things, taking a weekend break with his girlfriend ends up throwing him into a vortex of confusion and conflicting emotion, leaving him questioning everything.

Initially I wondered where this book would end up, and I don’t think that it’s any surprise once you start reading that you may well guess what lies ahead.  However, for this book, it’s the journey that the reader takes that’s important.  The characters here are so rich and beautifully crafted that you cannot help but become invested in them, their plights become so real and tangible.  I began to share Joanna’s anguish, her desperation and felt so much sympathy for her.  Matty was another character that I felt my heart going out to in sympathy, his confusion and anxieties were so well written that I really was swept away with them.  And Tom, the more I learned about him the more I understood his actions and whilst I perhaps didn’t agree with decisions he had taken over the course of his life, I could see why he took the path he did, and it was clear from the emotions that this character experienced that his decisions haunted him.

I found that this was a very moving read, there were moments whilst reading this my heart was racing because of revelations, there were moments I felt a lump in my throat, I wanted to shout at characters, I wanted to shake characters, such an emotive and thought inspiring book.

I would highly recommend this, it’s one of those undiscovered gems that needs to be shared and appreciated!

You can buy a copy of The Walls Came Down via Amazon UK

 

 

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A LITTLE CHRISTMAS FAITH_FRONT_150dpi

** My thanks to Rachel and Kathryn for my copy of this book and for inviting me to be part of the blog tour **

 

Description:

Is it time to love Christmas again?
Faith Watkins loves Christmas, which is why she’s thrilled that her new hotel in the Lake District will be open in time for the festive season. And Faith has gone all out; huge Christmas tree, fairy lights, an entire family of decorative reindeer. Now all she needs are the guests … 
But what she didn’t bank on was her first paying customer being someone like Adam Hunter. Rugged, powerfully built and with a deep sadness in his eyes, Adam is a man that Faith is immediately drawn to – but unfortunately he also has an intense hatred of all things Christmassy.
As the countdown to the big day begins, Faith can’t seem to keep away from her mysterious guest, but still finds herself with more questions than answers: just what happened to Adam Hunter? And why does he hate Christmas?

My Thoughts & Review:

What a lovely book to get in the festive mood with, full of romance and feel good moments with a fantastic setting and lovely characters.

The style of writing in this book makes the story flow easily, gently leading the reader onwards.  The descriptions are utterly wonderful, The Old Mill really came alive on the pages for me, I could see the huge Christmas tree in the lobby, I felt like I was able to wander the corridors of the hotel, such clear images were conjured by Kathryn Freeman’s writing.  The characters are interesting and easy to connect with, I found that the more I read about Faith, the more I liked her.  She’s the epitome of loveliness, so kind hearted and supportive, wants to be there for everyone and help them.  Adam on the other hand, can’t see past his grief.  He loathes Christmas and everything about it, but underneath it all, he’s such a gentle and lovely guy.  Seeing the chemistry between these two was so lovely, and the way its all unfolds makes for entertaining and enjoyable reading.

The plot is packed with everything you want in a feel good Christmas read, ups and downs, laughter and all the subtle moments that make for enjoyable read that leaves you feeling all is right in the world.

You can buy a copy of A Little Christmas Faith via:

Amazon UK

 

About the Author:5707-2

I was born in Wallingford but have spent most of my life living in a village outside Windsor. A former pharmacist, I’m now a medical writer who also loves to write romance. Some days a racing heart is a medical condition, others it’s the reaction to a hunky hero…

I’ve two teenage boys and a husband who asks every Valentine’s Day whether he has to bother buying a card again this year (yes, he does) so the romance in my life is all in my head. Then again, my husband’s unstinting support of my career change goes to prove that love isn’t always about hearts and flowers – and heroes can come in many disguises.

Social Media Links –

Website:  http://kathrynfreeman.co.uk

Facebook:  https://www.facebook.com/kathrynfreeman

Twitter:  https://twitter.com/KathrynFreeman1

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Hello and welcome along to another post to celebrate indie publishing, where I like to shine the light on another book from an independent publisher or author and share some book love with you all.  Today I am delighted to share a review of The Last Thread by Ray Britain, and also a short interview with the author.


Book Feature:

Description:

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Accused of pushing a boy to his death in a failed suicide intervention, DCI Doug Stirling is suspended from duty. Attacked in the media and haunted by the boy’s smile as he let go of Stirling’s hand, he must look on helplessly as an incompetent colleague intent on destroying him investigates the boy’s death, supported by the vindictive Deputy Chief Constable, McDonald.

Weeks later, an anonymous call leads the police to a remote location and the discovery of a burnt out car containing the body of an unidentified man who has been savagely murdered. Short of experienced senior investigators, ACC Steph Tanner has no choice but to take a professional risk. Throwing Stirling the lifeline he needs to restore his reputation, Tanner appoints him as SIO to lead the investigation.

But with no witnesses, no forensic evidence and more theories than investigators, Stirling’s investigation has far too many ‘loose threads’ as he uncovers a complex, interwoven history of deception, betrayal and sadistic relationships. Was the victim connected to the crime scene? Is the murder as complex as it appears? Or is there a simpler explanation?
Still traumatised by the boy’s death and with time the enemy, does Stirling still have what it takes to bring the killer, or killers, to justice before McDonald intervenes?

Things are already difficult enough when DC Helen Williams joins the investigation, a determined woman who seems intent on rekindling their past relationship. And is Ayesha, the beautiful lawyer Stirling has grown fond of, connected to the murder somehow?

 

My Thoughts & Review:

The Last Thread is a remarkable debut novel, with a superb plot and some fantastic characters.  There are so many strands to the plot of this novel that I feel that I should take a moment to appreciate how complex it is but at the same time how exceptionally interesting and thrilling a read it is.

The main character DCI Doug Stirling first appears in a very precarious situation, on top of a bridge with a fifteen year old boy who is about to commit suicide, and Stirling is there as negotiator.  Stirling succeeds in getting the boy to talk to him and trust him to take his hand before unfortunately the boy falls to his death.
The subsequent investigation by the Police Complaints Commission into the incident leaves Stirling on restricted duties and at the mercy of a Chief Inspector who has an agenda.
As it this weren’t enough for our protagonist to deal with, he’s then brought into the investigation of a gruesome death, a body discovered in a burnt out car and warned to keep a low profile whilst internal investigations are ongoing.  Once a positive identification is made the case is thrown open and the intrigue ramps up a notch or three.

For me, this book really stood out from the “normal” police procedural with the level of detail included.  It’s obvious from the writing that the author knows British policing and procedures and it’s really quite interesting to see a side of reality we don’t often get to witness.
The characters are interesting and varied, and I loved seeing the office politics play out between certain personalities.  Doug Stirling is a fantastic character that I hope to see more of in the future!

A brilliant crime thriller with realistic police procedural details – highly recommended!

 

You can buy your copy of The Last Thread via:

Amazon UK
Author’s website


Author Feature:

Ray Britain’s debut novel The Last Thread was published September 2017. Following a highly successful career in policing in the UK, it should be no surprise that his story is a complex crime investigation story.

Ray served in the Midlands region of the United Kingdom gaining promotion to a high rank, working in both uniform and investigative roles, but the investigation of crime and the camaraderie of investigators remained his first love. As a Senior Investigating Officer (SIO), Ray led many investigations, some of which engaged specialist, national capabilities. For fifteen years he was also a Hostage & Suicide Intervention Negotiator responding to hostage situations, many firearms incidents and numerous suicide interventions, not all of which ended happily.

In ‘The Last Thread,’ Ray’s real-world experience puts the reader in the driving seat of a complex investigation with all the uncertainties and realities of modern crime investigation.

Ray’s interests include: mountain walking, rugby, skiing, Dad dancing, reading, and sailing.
(Author bio courtesy of Amazon)

 
What’s your most favourite thing about being an author?

I most enjoy scoping and plotting the story, creating the twists and turns and the faux leads, or red herrings, to intrigue and interest the reader until the end of the story. I also like developing the characters so that they can become friends to the reader or, if not friends, then interesting as to what makes them tick. Having been a professional investigator for many years, studying and analysing people’s traits and characteristics in interview was always a fascinating process, particularly when seeking a confession or some fine witness detail. People come in infinite variables and are endlessly fascinating.

What’s your least favourite thing about being an author?

Proof reading and endless editing which is extremely tedious but essential to be sure you’ve made the best use of language and trim away excessive detail. Or, indeed, to flesh out a character to achieve their purpose in the story.

And what is the most challenging part of getting yourself published?

Without doubt, it’s getting yourself noticed. A challenging as the writing is, in many ways it’s the easy part. There are so many books being self-published through Kindle and the like that it’s a challenge to get yourself ‘seen’. Thank fully, we have excellent book review blogsites such as ‘The Quiet Knitter’ which are of tremendous help to new authors like me.

If you could have written any book what would it be and why?

Hmm, I’m not sure. I think that given my background, I should stick with what I know and only if sufficient people like my writing, would I consider branching out into a different genre. Anyway, I have too many plotlines and romantic entanglements for my protagonist, DCI Douglas Stirling, in my head for the time being.

How do you spend your time when you’re not wrapped up plotting your next book?

I’ve finished working in the conventional sense of the word and as writing is a very sedentary occupation, particularly when in the throes of the storyline, I try to keep myself sensibly fit by going to the gym a few times each week. I love walking, particularly in the mountains and fell walking and as there aren’t any mountains in the Midlands, the Lake District is my favourite destination in the UK.

Do you have a set routine for writing? Rituals you must observe? I.e. specific pen, silence, day or night etc.

Not really. Having worked in a reasonably disciplined organisation for over thirty years leading investigations and large-scale teams, I’m a ‘self-starter’ anyway. I use a laptop for writing and back up each day’s work to both cloud and to a hard drive in the event of a catastrophic system failure, or theft.
Writing has seen me keeping some very strange hours, though. If I can’t sleep I have to get up and use my time usefully so if I’m wrestling with the plot, or a particularly tricky item in the story, I might get up and write through the night. It can make me a bit grumpy in the mornings, I’m afraid.

What’s on the horizon? What can your fans look forward to next?

Subject to readers enjoying my writing and the characters in it, ‘The Last Thread’ is just the first in a series of DCI Douglas Stirling investigations. The next book is mind-mapped out, I’ve drafted the Prologue and committed the first murder. Most satisfying!

You mentioned mind-mapping?

I’ve been a big fan of mind-mapping for over twenty years. I use mind-mapping software to capture my thinking, any research required, parallel story lines and timelines and my character profiles to ensure consistency and so avoid any mistakes. In short, I aim to treat the reader with respect. I want them to immerse themselves in the story without the distraction or irritation of inaccuracies or inconsistency.

Sounds great! So, where can we buy ‘The Last Thread’?

It’s for sale on Amazon and all good e-readers, or simply visit my website at
http://www.raybritain.com/ where you buy it through there.


My thanks to Ray for joining me today and sharing more about himself, and I am so excited to hear that book two is plotted out …..fingers crossed we can get reading soon!

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The Prisoners Wife Cover

 

** My thanks to Rachel at Authoright for inviting me to be part of the blog tour for this **

 

Description:

From the CIA headquarters to the danger zones of Morocco and Pakistan, undercover agent Shawn Maguire is embroiled in a sinister conspiracy and an unlikely romance in this exhilarating debut spy thriller.

Shawn Maguire, unemployed American spy, has been paid to find a young Iranian now being interrogated in one of the CIA’s black prisons. The prisoner’s location remains unknown – he may be in Fes, Cairo or even Peshawar – but Shawn has every confidence that he’ll find his man eventually. Based on his time as an agent, it’s an assignment he knows he can handle. But there’s one person he’s not sure even he can handle:  the prisoner’s wife.

The Prisoner’s Wife is a political thriller ripped from today’s headlines; a tense trip through the murky worlds of state–sponsored terrorism, nuclear politics, secret American jails and lawless rendition. Conspiracies abound in this sophisticated and suspenseful novel, with its crackling dialogue and evocative, lawless landscapes. Maguire is a first-rate protagonist, complicated and heroic, and writer Gerard Macdonald does an expert job of capturing the casual ambivalence of the American intelligence officers in their rendition campaigns and keenly observes the cynical manner in which operatives prop up or depose criminal leaders depending on America’s own needs.

A pulse-pounding account of political intrigue in the Middle-East starring complex hero Shawn Maguire, The Prisoner’s Wife is the perfect next read for fans of espionage and international thrillers.

Extract:

Outside the gate, the mustachioed chauffeur had reversed the Lexus, turning it around. He stood by the car, bending his head, speaking to the veiled woman within.

‘Your enemies, and your dead. Keep them close,’ Abbasi said to Shawn. ‘I believe in that.’ He stood by the slate-roofed summerhouse, scanning the walled garden. ‘So peaceful.’ He considered his host. ‘Your face. You lost a fight?’

‘That was last week,’ Shawn said. ‘Skinny drunk kid. Thought I could teach him a lesson. I was wrong.’

Abbasi said, ‘We all get old. You attacked one of your colleagues, did you not?’ Shawn nodded. ‘Suspended from active service, I hear. No longer an American spy.’

‘They call it extended leave. I behave, take anger management class, they let me back.’

Abbasi covered his mouth, disguising what might have been amusement. ‘You think?’ His attention elsewhere, he asked how Mr. Maguire spent his time.

‘You’ll laugh,’ Shawn said. ‘It amuses people. What I ask myself these days – what I try getting my head round – is, what the hell was I doing out there? Last twenty-some years.’

‘What you were doing as a spy?’

Shawn nodded. ‘I mean, I know what I actually did, minute by minute, most days. Unless I was drunk. What I don’t know is why. Why they told me, do whatever I did. Why I did it.’

‘Protecting America from its enemies, were you not? So Mr. McCord would say.’

‘Yeah,’ said Shawn, ‘right. It’s what I tell myself. It’s what I try believing.’

He opened a bottle and poured two glasses of sparkling water. Abbasi, an observant Muslim, did not touch alcohol.

‘My turn for a question, Mr. Abbasi. You employ people. A lot of people. Import-export, it’s what I hear.’

‘In the past tense. I did employ. Like its owner, business is not what it was.’

‘I seem to remember offices, AfPak, Morocco, Kandahar, Miami. Am I right?’

‘Sadly, Afghanistan, no longer. Nor Florida. But still, we are in Islamabad. Tenuously, in Fes. And Peshawar, on the AfPak border. As you call it.’

‘So why? Why would you need me?’

‘I have a problem,’ Abbasi said, looking around him. ‘A problem with your people. CIA, Office of Special Plans, CIFA – one or all. I never know. And a problem with my people. My Pakistani, would you say, compatriots?’ He pointed to a table and chairs midway across the lawn. ‘Might we sit over there?’

Shawn stood, moving out of the summer house. A cloud of white doves spread high through still air, planing and gliding in leaderless synchrony.

‘I don’t believe this. You’re worried about bugs? Here? An English village? Do you want to pat me down?’

‘If you would not mind. To be sure you do not wear a wire.’

Ayub Abbasi ran his hands over Shawn’s body. ‘You are very fit.’

‘For your age,’ Shawn said. ‘That’s usually how the sentence ends these days. I’m fifty one. I lose fights.’

‘I know your age,’ Abbasi said. ‘I read the file. You are fifty-three. You still attract women.’

‘That,’ Shawn said, ‘I’m seriously trying to give up.’ He unpacked a new box of shells. Abbasi eyed the rifle and the pear tree.

‘I know that you trained as a sniper. I had not realized you were such a shot.’

Without looking down, Shawn reloaded the M24.

‘I used to be good. Trying to get back there.’

‘For your own amusement? Or some other reason?’ Abbasi seated himself at a wrought-iron table set on a mower-striped lawn. ‘You may know I also worked for your agency. Your former agency.’

‘Langley?’

‘Indeed. I was, as you say, on the payroll. Liaison between America and Pakistan.’

‘Not Pakistan as such,’ Shawn said. ‘Liaison with Inter-Services Intelligence, is my guess. ISI was always the target. Always the problem.’

‘For our purposes,’ Abbasi said, ‘and your purposes, ISI is Pakistan. You know, we all know, they are not just a spy service. Invisible Soldiers Incorporated, we call them. They take the dollars your Congress sends. They run my country. And much of Afghanistan, of course. Taliban is their creation. As is the drug trade.’ Abbasi smoothed his lightly oiled hair. ‘Sadly, now, those invisible soldiers wish to kill me.’

I don’t know about you, but that’s definitely piqued my curiosity!

You can buy a copy of The Prisoner’s Wife via:

Amazon UK

About the Author:

Author Gerard MacDonald lives in West London and is currently working on a short series of political fiction books.

Website: http://gerardmacdonald.net/

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