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Hello and welcome along to my stop on the blog tour for Malcolm Hollingdrake’s latest crime thriller featuring DCI Bennett!  It’s a huge honour to take part in this tour and I am delighted to be able to share a fantastic guest post written by Malcolm.

Description:

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Following his recovery from a personal and professional trauma, Detective Chief Inspector Cyril Bennett has been declared medically fit to resume his police duties. He returns to discover a complex case involving the art world.

Soon Bennett unearths a dark side of the industry where greed, ambition and dubious practices thrive and, where there is money to be made, violence and murder are never far away.

Working their way through a maze of galleries, museums and the internet, Bennett’s team struggles to make sense of the evidence.

Can Bennett tell the difference between what is real and what is fake?

 

You can buy a copy of Dying Art via:

Amazon

About the Author:

You could say that the writing was clearly written on the wall for anyone born in a library that they might aspire to be an author but to get to that point Malcolm Hollingdrake has travelled a circuitous route.
Malcolm worked in education for many years, even teaching for a period in Cairo before he started writing, a challenge he had longed to tackle for more years than he cares to remember.

Malcolm has written a number of successful short stories and has four books now available. Presently he is concentrating on a series of crime novels set in Harrogate, North Yorkshire.

Born in Bradford and spending three years in Ripon, Malcolm has never lost his love for his home county, a passion that is reflected in the settings for all three novels.

Malcolm has enjoyed many hobbies including collecting works by Northern artists; the art auctions offer a degree of excitement when both buying and certainly when selling. It’s a hobby he has bestowed on DCI Cyril Bennett, the main character in his latest novel.

 


Guest Post:

Detective Chief Inspector Cyril Bennett stared at the strange face that gurned back from the misted bathroom mirror; it was far from the face he knew. He deliberately closed his eyes but only one obeyed his order, the right eye continued to study the reflected disfigurement. It had to be said that the toothpaste liberally spread round his lop-sided lips and the fact that it continued its path to drip from stubble on his chin, didn’t enhance his appearance. Three days ago he had been fine. It had been a long day, yes, nothing abnormal in that, followed by a few relaxing drinks in the Black Swan and one or two night-caps once home and this was what he had awoken to.

“Bloody Bell’s pissing, poxy palsy,” he groaned in a strong, Yorkshire accent. “Great!”

 

It seems but a moment ago that I set the ball rolling with this opening paragraph of ‘Only the Dead’ the first in the DCI Cyril Bennett Crime novels set in Harrogate, North Yorkshire, but on reflection it has been quite a trek!

For one thing it was titled, ‘Keen as Mustard’, and it was self-published on Amazon. I had sent the manuscript to a number of agents and publishers but received the usual, ‘Thanks but no thanks’, response. Not one to give up too soon I wrote the next Bennett book, again self-published and titled, ‘Just above Hades’. I designed both covers. Again I eagerly sent book two out, like Noah sending the dove from the ark. Nothing!

The third book in the series had a working title of, ‘Inked’ and this too was optimistically sent out to a number of publishers but alas nothing. I probably should have given up, thrown in the towel at this stage but I enjoyed the process of writing, creating a parallel fictitious world that was mine. It sounds selfish and personal but the characters I had created had become part of the fabric of my life; I just couldn’t let them go. It was then that serendipity played its hand.  A number of things happened that I’ve detailed before in other posts and as if by magic I had a contact…Bloodhound Books to whom I sent manuscript three.

It’s funny that throughout history there are people who see what others miss and this can certainly be said of Betsy Reavley and Fred Freeman. Somehow they saw something in my writing that was worthy of a more in-depth look, what their expert eyes saw, I know not, but they believed the story to be worthy of a commitment and so it was that they offered me a contract for that book, book three which became, ‘Flesh Evidence’. They then realised that I had self-published books one and two and accepted those plus one other; I suddenly had a four book deal; I had the makings of a series.

From being totally dejected to being ecstatically excited took but a matter of days. It’s funny what effect those few words, We’d like to offer you a contract, can have on an individual. So what happened? Well, the first three books did really very well and book four ended series one. Now you have the beginning of the second DCI Cyril Bennett Crime series set in the beautiful surroundings of Harrogate. ‘Dying Art’ brings together two of my passions, my writing and my love of Northern art. To think that this has happened only since August, 2016. I feel proud to have five books published.

To get this far I have had a great deal of support. My wife, Debbie, never lost faith in my ability to tell a story, friends who have committed time, the bloggers, without whom I’d be nothing and the enthusiasm of the readers. Their support of the Bennett series has been both amazing and humbling. Their positive comments and reviews have generated an even keener appetite to create more of these books. I thank you! My sincere thanks, as always, to Bloodhound Books for their belief in me when nobody else did. There are two other people I must name and thank, Helen Claire who saw something in my work at the same time as Bloodhound. I hope you like your character in the book, Helen, and Caroline Vincent who has been a guiding light and true inspiration.

I would like to leave you with book five, ‘Dying Art’ and hope that you enjoy this latest DCI Bennett case whilst I continue writing book six.


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Published: 7 July 2017

 

Description:

With high tide comes murder…

When her beloved London theatre closes for renovations, costume maker Guinevere is excited to start a job at Cornisea castle, a centuries-old keep on a small tidal island off the coast of Cornwall. Imagine a whole summer full of stories of hidden treasures, fab food and long walks with her perky dachshund Dolly.

But when a re-enactment of a medieval trial in the castle dungeons ends in real-life murder, and accusations threaten the castle’s future, Guinevere and Dolly dig deep into the island community’s best-kept secrets to unmask the killer and save their Cornish summer.

The first book in the Cornish Castle Mystery series with the second instalment RUBIES IN THE ROSES coming August 2017!

My Thoughts & Review:

When I heard someone mention that “cosy crime” would be a big hit this year I wondered what new detectives we would meet and whether they would be a patch on the investigators of yesteryear when it came to detecting crime.  Here Vivian Conroy excels, and presents readers with a well written crime story that encapsulates the essence of cosy crime.

Guinevere and her delightful Dachshund Dolly are marvellous characters, Guinevere is a very likeable character that readers will take an instant liking towards.  The plot is interesting and well thought out, with plenty to keep the reader guessing as they try to piece together all the clues to solve the mystery.
Superb descriptions of the setting of Cornisea really make the place come alive from the pages, I felt like I was there and able to see the sights.  Likewise, the characters really come to life through the skilled writing making this a delightful and enticing read.

I’m trying desperately not to say too much about the plot, I think this is the sort of book that hints would give away too much and spoil it for others, but it’s well written and paced just right for an enjoyable and exciting read.
Fans of Conroy’s previous books which feature Lady Alkmene Callender should hopefully enjoy this book, and I would say that fans of cosy crime in general would enjoy this one!

Now to wait patiently to read Rubies in the Roses ……

You can buy a copy of Death Plays a Part via Amazon

 

My thanks to Vivian Conroy and HQ Digital for the opportunity to read this book and take part in the blog tour.

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Published 13 July 2017

 

Description:

The magical new summer novel by the author of Little Flower Shop by the Sea

One summer, property seeker, Serendipity Parker finds herself on the beautiful west coast of Ireland, hunting for a home for a wealthy Irish client. But when she finds the perfect house in the small town of Ballykiltara, there’s a problem; nobody seems to know who owns it.

‘The Welcome House’ is a local legend. Its front door is always open for those in need of shelter, and there’s always a plentiful supply of food in the cupboards for the hungry or poor.

While Ren desperately tries to find the owner to see if she can negotiate a sale, she begins to delve deeper into the history and legends that surround the old house and the town. But for a woman who has always been focussed on her work, she’s remarkably distracted by Finn, the attractive manager of the local hotel.

But will she ever discover the real truth behind the mysterious ‘Welcome House’? Or will the house cast its magical spell over Ren and help her to find true happiness?

My Thoughts & Review:

I must confess that this is the first book written by Ali McNamara that I’ve read, I do own a couple but they never seem to make it up to the top of the reading pile sadly.  But after reading “The Summer of Serendipity” I’ve rescued the other books, bought a few more and will be slowly losing myself in the wonderful world that McNamara creates for her readers.

The plot is full of mystery and intrigue, our leading lady Serendipity (Ren) is on a mission in Ballykiltara to find the perfect retirement home for a client with her assistant Kiki.  The dynamic duo eventually find the perfect house but cannot find out who owns the property to make an offer to purchase it.  The more they ask locals about The Welcome House, the more complex the mystery becomes.  No one knows for sure who owns the house, some saying that the house has always been there since the time of the monks and Viking invaders, some saying it’s a place of sanctuary for travellers, a shelter with food that asks nothing more of people to replace what they have used (if they can).  With so much folklore surrounding The Welcome House Ren and Kiki look to the local priest for help, but instead of shining light on their mystery, Father Duffy imparts wisdom onto Ren that makes things more complicated.  And if that wasn’t enough for Ren to struggle to get her head round, there’s also a wee romantic interest for her in the shape of the brooding and handsome hotel manager,  Finn.

The setting of Ballykiltara is so exquisitely described that you cannot help but imagine the hotel, the wonderful woodland walks, The Welcome House or even just the general tranquillity of it all.  Ali McNamara’s writing transports her readers to the settings she writes about, and has them invested in the characters being written about.  The way that relationships develop through the book is interesting, seeing the ups and downs of friendships makes this feel realistic as well as makes the characters stand out.  The way that they come to life from the pages is another reason to love this book, Kiki is a fantastic character, so lovely and endearing.  Her muddling of words just makes her even more appealing and she works well as a contrast to Ren.  Ren, whilst a friendly and cheery person has secrets she keeps locked away and sometimes forgets to take her business hat off.  Finn, well what can I say about the dishy hotel manager?  His charm and impish ways are so well written that I could almost see him as I read (swoon!).

This book has almost everything you need for a holiday read (whether it’s a staycation or far flung destination), it’s humorous, it’s magical and it’s so full of delightful charm that you can’t help but enjoy it!

You can buy a copy of The Summer of Serendipity via:

Amazon
Wordery
The Book Depository

My thanks to Clara Diaz at Little, Brown Book Group for the opportunity to read this book and to take part in the blog tour.

 

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The Other Twin cover

Published 1st August 2017

Description:

When India falls to her death from a bridge over a railway, her sister Poppy returns home to Brighton for the first time in years. Unconvinced by official explanations, Poppy begins her own investigation into India’s death. But the deeper she digs, the closer she comes to uncovering deeply buried secrets. Could Matthew Temple, the boyfriend she abandoned, be involved?

And what of his powerful and wealthy parents, and his twin sister, Ana?
Enter the mysterious and ethereal Jenny: the girl Poppy discovers after hacking into India’s laptop. What exactly is she hiding, and what did India find out about her?

Taking the reader on a breathless ride through the winding lanes of Brighton, into its vibrant party scene and inside the homes of its well-heeled families, The Other Twin is a startling and up-to-the-minute thriller about the social-media world, where resentments and accusations are played out online, where identities are made and remade, and where there is no such thing as the truth…

You can buy your copy of The Other Twin via:

Amazon

Wordery

The Book Depository


Praise for The Other Twin

‘If your sister died under suspicious circumstances, how far would you go to uncover the truth? The Other Twin crackles with tension as Poppy’s search for answers leads only to more questions, her grief palpable and real as she learns her sister India’s deepest secrets. Hays’ impressive debut is a complex, twisty, disorienting tale that truly keeps readers guessing until the very end’
Karen Dionne

‘A cracker of a debut! I couldn’t put it down’
Paula Daly

‘The writing shines from every page of this twisted tale … debuts don’t come sharper than this’
Ruth Dugdall

‘This chilling claustrophobic tale set in Brighton introduces an original, fresh new voice in crime fiction’
Cal Moriarty

‘Wonderfully layered and gripping, I had to take breaks just to catch my breath’
Jendella Benson

“A fresh and raw thrill-ride through Brighton’s underbelly. What an enjoyable read!”
Lilja Sigurðardóttir

Slick and compulsive’
Random Things through My Letterbox

‘A propulsive, inventive and purely addictive psychological thriller for the social media age’
Crime by the Book

‘Delightfully disorientating’
Chapter in My Life

‘This will stay with me forever’
Emma the Little Bookworm

‘A whirlwind of secrets and emotional turmoil’
Cheryl M-M

‘Rolls along at a heart-pounding pace!’
Ronnie Turner

‘A contemporary thriller with a heart of darkness … terrific’
Live & Deadly

‘Blinding, surprising and simply magnificent’
Chocolate ‘n’ Waffles

 

About the Author:

Lucy Hay author photo

Lucy V. Hay is a novelist, script editor and blogger who helps writers via her Bang2write consultancy. She is the associate producer of Brit Thrillers Deviation (2012) and Assassin (2015), both starring Danny Dyer. Lucy is also head reader for the London Screenwriters’ Festival and has written two non-fiction books, Writing & Selling Thriller Screenplays, plus its follow-up Drama Screenplays. She lives in Devon with her husband, three children, six cats and five African Land Snails.

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The Cardinal's Man

Published 11 July 2017

 

Description:

A SPELLBINDING TALE SET IN CARDINAL RICHELIEU’S FRANCE

With enemies advancing on all sides and Cardinal Richelieu’s health failing, France is at breaking point. Yet salvation may arrive in the most unlikely form…

Born into poverty and with terrible deformities, Sebastian Morra is a dwarf with the wit of Tyrion Lannister and three foot, four inches of brazen pluck. Through a mixture of brains and luck, he has travelled far from his village to become a jester at the royal court. And with a talent for making enemies, he is soon drawn into the twilight world of Cardinal Richelieu, where he discovers he might just be the only man with the talents to save France from her deadliest foes.

My Thoughts & Review:

Historical fiction is a genre that I slip in and out of easily, and sometimes depending on my mood, it can be the only thing I want to read.  From the moment I read the book description my interest was piqued, however with little knowledge of Game of Thrones, the Tyrion Lannister reference was a little lost on me.

Set during the times of The Thirty Years’ War in France, the author lays out the foundations of a very well written debut with great detail.  The wonderful use of atmospheric descriptions for the locations evoke a wonderful sense of the period.  And it is clear from the depth of the writing that the author has done his research, yet he still manages to keep the writing light and entertaining in places.  Sebastian Morra is an fascinating character, he oozes wit and charm but there is a considerable wealth of knowledge hidden behind this.  Being born with dwarfism, his career choices are limited.  From playing jester in Louis XIII court he becomes a spy for Cardinal Richelieu in order to gain the notorious Cardinal’s protection after making one too enemies at Court.

Despite being set in an era I’m not overly familiar with, I still managed to pick up on the tensions that would later escalate to the troubles of the French Revolution.  But unfortunately this book just didn’t grab me as I’d hoped it might.  An interesting read and for the most part enjoyable just perhaps not my era.

 

You can buy a copy of The Cardinal’s Man via:
Amazon

Wordery

My thanks to Lina Langlee at Black & White Publishing for the opportunity to read this and to take part in the blog tour.

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I am delighted to welcome you along to my stop on the blog tour for Hunting Angels by Conrad Jones and share an extract from this haunting crime thriller.

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Description:

When an author is asked to help the police with the investigation into a double murder by identifying occult symbols, which had been carved into the victims, he is plunged into nightmare and forced to go on the run. Hunted by law and a powerful cult, he has to stay one step ahead to survive.

 

 

You can buy a copy via Amazon


Extract:

“What were you about to publish about us?”

“About who exactly?” he asked angrily. “Let me out of this fucking chair before I piss myself.”

“About the Order of Nine Angels.” She stared into his eyes and he sensed the contempt she felt for him. The name Nine Angels sent a shiver of fear through his brain. He’d been investigating their order for months. At first, he thought they were just another cult with delusions of grandeur, but the deeper he looked, the more his initial impressions melted away. The evidence proved that this order was far more powerful than any other he had investigated. It was also far more dangerous.

“This is bullshit, lady.” He laughed, although there was a touch of panic in his voice. “Let me out of this chair and I’ll tell you whatever you want to know. I’m busting for a pee and gasping for a drink and you’re beginning to wind me up now.”

“You’ve been snooping around us and we don’t like that.”

“It’s my job to snoop around people, that’s what I do for a living.” Malcolm tried to keep his voice strong but his words were thick and slurred. “Let me out of this thing and I’ll talk to you.”

“You’re not moving from the culling chair until you’ve told us what we want to know. How long you spend in it before you talk is up to you.” She leant close to his face, her nose inches from his. He could feel her putrid breath on his cheek. He realised that he couldn’t move his head at all. It wasn’t the drink that stopped him from moving, it was a clamp of some description. As he regained the feeling in his body, he felt cold metal encircling his skull. “This is no game, Malcolm Baines, Young Reporter of the Year, and be assured that you will die here. The manner of your death is determined by you. Tell us now and it will be quick, lie and you will know suffering as you could never imagine suffering to be.”

 

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66 metres

 

Description:

The only thing worth killing for is family.
Everyone said she had her father’s eyes.  A killer’s eyes.  Nadia knew that on the bitterly cold streets of Moscow,  she could never escape her past – but in just a few days, she would finally be free.
Bound to work for Kadinsky for five years, she has one last mission to complete.  Yet when she is instructed to capture The Rose,  a military weapon shrouded in secrecy,  Nadia finds herself trapped in a deadly game of global espionage.
And the only man she can trust is the one sent to spy on her…

“A masterfully paced action thriller that takes readers to unexplored depths. The first novel in J. F. Kirwan’s Nadia Laksheva series introduces a heroine that readers are bound to fall hard for.” BestThrillers.com

My Thoughts & Review:

Being a fan of spy thrillers I was keen to read 66 Metres to see if it lived up to the immensely intriguing book description.  The cover states this is “A chilling thriller that will keep you on the edge of your seat!” and they’re not wrong!
From the opening pages the reader is faced with an intense storyline and is first introduced to a young Nadia Laksheva who is yet to face up to the harsh realities of her dysfunctional family.  As she ages she learns that her father was not the man she thought he was, not a saint, but a killer.  Her sister is a drug addicted prostitute and her mother is a cold and distant figure who is quick to remind her that her father was a killer.  Combine these things with the harsh freezing temperatures of Russia and you begin to see the insufferably difficult life that Nadia is living.  Seeing a way out, a means of escaping this torturous existence for herself and her sister Katya, Nadia takes the “option” given to her by Russian mob boss Kadinsky.  I say option, because really the only other choice would be a concrete overcoat or perhaps ventilation holes in their heads.

After undergoing rigorous training at the hands of Russian experts, Nadia is ready to take on her 5 years of missions for Kadinsky in return for her and Katya’s freedom.  The final mission means the end is in sight, but Nadia needs to complete it successfully first.

Thankfully I read this book whilst on holiday so I could curl up on a deckchair in the sun and completely shut off from the world around me for a few hours.  This is definitely a book that you want to keep reading, you want to find out what is going to happen next, see what characters will do next and find out whether Nadia comes out of this all unscathed.

Characterisation is brilliant, Nadia develops well throughout the book and her motivations become clearer as the reader gets to know her.  The glimpses of the vulnerable side of her really bring her to life.  Sometimes I wonder if it’s all too easy for authors to keep their trained assassins as cold hearted and strictly functioning “machines”, but here the author has gone under the surface of this character to give readers a real insight to Nadia which I think does make her more likeable.
The switching perspective between characters adds to the intensity and intrigue of this book no end!  Being able to step into the mind of the “baddies” always makes the plot more exciting, but here some of the “baddies” showed remorse for some of their actions, or showed humility which I found caught me off guard and in turn had be liking this book even more.

The descriptive abilities that Kirwan possesses are incredible – I’ve never dived, don’t really think it’s something I would ever do but just reading the underwater scenes had me feeling like I was there, in the wrecks with Nadia and the dive crew, the way it played out on the page was almost hypnotic.  I will admit to initial worries that some of the information about the diving would be too technical for me to grasp but somehow Kirwan has managed to portray the dangers and the ecstasy of diving clearly and concisely so that even a heathen like me can understand it.

A breakneck paced spy thriller that will leave you holding your breath in anticipation of what might happen next!  Now I just need to wait patiently for the next book in the series………

You can buy a copy of 66 Metres via Amazon

My thanks to Noelle and Kate at Thick as Thieves Book Publicity and Promo for the opportunity to read and review this book, and for inviting me to take part in the blog tour.

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