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Posts Tagged ‘Bloodhound Books’

Today I am thrilled to be able to share a review of a book that has recently been republished by Bloodhound Books. The book in question is A Fractured Winter by the lovely Alison Baillie, a chilling and menacing thriller that utterly grabs the reader from the outset and doesn’t let go!

** my thanks to the author and publisher for my copy of this book and for inviting me to be part of the blog tour **

Description:
When someone is out to get you, is there anywhere you can hide?
From the outside, Olivia seems to lead an idyllic existence with her husband and children. But when she starts receiving notes, she knows her perfect life is under threat.
She thought she’d managed to put the past behind her, but someone seems determined to reveal her secret.
Meanwhile, girls are vanishing in the area and Olivia fears for her family’s safety.
Has someone discovered the real reason she left Scotland all those years ago?
And does her secret have links to the recent disappearances?
When someone is out to get you, is there anywhere you can hide?

Fractured Winter is a compelling and suspenseful psychosocial mystery it will appeal to fans of authors like LJ Ross, Lesley Kara and Faith Martin

My Thoughts:

There are books that you start reading and hate to put down, and then there are the books that that you will read whilst cooking supper and risk burning everything because you are totally entranced by the story.

This is a tense and clever thriller that leeches a menacing chill, and that’s not just from the crisp vivid Swiss setting.
Olivia on the face of things seems to have it all, the perfect family, the perfect home, but the appearance of a sinister note on day starts a catastrophic spiral that leaves her feeling like she’s lost control of her life.  The note hints that someone knows about her past, knows the real reason she left Scotland a decade ago, and Olivia cannot bear to face that.  If this wasn’t enough, the safety of her Swiss mountain is challenged when a young girl goes missing, Sandra,  is the best friend of her young daughter which makes Olivia feel so much more connected to the disappearance.

The way that Alison Baillie writes about Olivia’s emotions makes them so tangible, as a mother I could appreciate how our main character wanted to protect her children, no matter their age, from the dangers of the world.  I could sympathise with the way that she was distressed at Sandra’s disappearance, and how it left her fraught with anxiety and drove her to be cautious about her children’s travels to and from school etc. Olivia’s worries about the sinister notes and her past are wonderfully written, readers cannot quite “see” the full details yet, but nonetheless they know that something menacing lurks in the shadows. And as we get to know Olivia more, we can understand her actions and begin to see how she has ended up in this position.

The tale of Olivia and her life in Switzerland is superbly told along side stories of two other females, Marie and Lucy.  Both Marie and Lucy have their troubles and hardships, and it’s hard not to feel some sympathy towards them when you discover the lives they lead.  Indeed, I found at one point that I was holding my breath in shock at the events as they unfolded in their stories.
Shrewdly, the way that their lives unfolded raised the question of whether it’s nature or nurture that impacts more on a person.

I have to raise my hat to Alison Baillie, A Fractured Winter really caught me off guard, there were so many different characters that I wanted to suspect, something about them just screamed untrustworthy, shifty or sneaky but I had nothing concrete to back up my suspicions … Baillie ensuring that I could not preempt where she would lead me, before revealing the moment where I gasped in shock and wanted to applaud her.

It’s fair to say that Alison Baillie has firmly taken a place on my list of authors to watch out for, and I cannot wait to see what she writes next!!

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** My thanks to the publisher for my copy of this book and for inviting me to take part in the blog tour **

Description:

A fragile woman. An unwelcome intruder. A house full of secrets.

Faye and her husband Hugh have had a traumatic year. Wanting to start again, the couple decide to buy a large rundown property, Cross House in a village in North Yorkshire, hoping to leave the past behind them.

However, the tranquillity is soon ruined when Faye begins to awake, every night, to the sound of somebody creeping around the bedroom. She tries to explain it to Hugh, frightened for the safety of their children Aiden and Poppy, but Hugh dismisses her claims, thinking she is heading for another breakdown.

But when Faye discovers some diaries that contain secrets about the family that lived in the house before them, she starts to wonder if the intruder might be closer to home than she first thought.

Obsessed with finding answers, Faye is determined to learn about the Wentworth family, a fractured family with a tragic past.

And when she discovers that Hilary Wentworth fell to her death down the stairs in Cross House, Faye realises she is in mortal danger…


My Thoughts:

I do enjoy psychological thrillers, and have a bit of a soft spot for Yorkshire settings, there’s something about them that appeals to me and so I was really keen to read this when I that it combined a bit of a ghost story too.

Main characters Faye and Hugh buy an house in need of work as part of their “fresh start” in the countryside. They are attempting to move on with life after very difficult year, one that left Faye seriously shaken and falling apart. But far from being the new start the family so desperately needed, things soon begin to have Faye questioning whether there’s something sinister lurking in the shadows of night or if her mind is playing tricks on her.

Whilst the author details the move to the new house and the family dynamics of Faye, Hugh and their two children Aiden and Poppy, there is also a thread to the plot of Faye’s previous year, one where snippets of recollections and nightmares are mentioned. Hints are given as to something sinister and traumatic having occurred, but details are slowly drip fed to increase the tension and hook the readers in. This in part helps to spread the feeling of general unease for Faye, and as you get to know her more and understand her mental health issues, it helps to explain why she feels that someone might be watching her, and the unusual activity around Cross House.
J.A. Baker weaves a very clever tale that leaves readers wondering about what they’ve read and whether they believe it.

Cross House is a bit of an enigma for Faye, the discovery of some diaries from the previous owners of the house leave her with more questions, and this is not helped when her son returns from school saying that people have been talking about the house.

I really don’t want to say too much more about the plot, there are so many things that readers need to discover for themselves and with this is quite a gripping and fast paced read, they will soon be hooked and held captive by the plot.
It’s the sort of read that gets under your skin and leaves you feeling shivers down your spine … and maybe sleeping with the light on for a few nights.

About the Author:

J.A.BAKER was born and brought up in North East England and has had a love of language for as long as she can remember.

She has a love of local history and genealogy and enjoys reading many genres of books but is an addict of psychological thrillers.

In December 2016 she was signed by Bloodhound Books who published Undercurrent. 
Her second novel, Her Dark Retreat was published in October 2017 and The Other Mother was published in December 2017. Her fourth novel, Finding Eva was published in August 2018.

J.A.Baker has four grown up children and one grandchild. She lives in a village near the river with her husband and madcap dog and when not working part time in a primary school, she spends her days trying to think up new and inventive ways of murdering people.

Social Media Links:
Twitter: http://www.twitter.com/thewriterjude
Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/thewriterjude
Website: http://www.jabakerauthor.com







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** My thanks to the publisher for my copy of this book **

 

Description:

DI Alec McKay is back.

Jimmy McGuire, a washed-up comic, is found dead on the streets of Inverness, his body garroted. Back in the 1990s, McGuire had been half of a promising double-act until his partner, Jack Dingwall, was convicted of rape.

Soon after, a second corpse is found in an abandoned industrial site on the edge of the Moray Firth. The body has been there for some days and has also been garroted. The victim turns out to be a former musician turned record producer, who had also been the subject of rape allegations.

Meanwhile, DI Alec McKay and DCI Helena Grant are still wrestling with the fallout from one of their recent cases following an acquittal.

As the body count rises, the police think they have the killer in their sights. But McKay is concerned that the evidence is too neat so when he realises there will be a final victim, he fears that time is running out …

My Thoughts & Review:

Having thoroughly enjoyed the previous books of this series, I was pleased as punch to find out that the author had written a third novel featuring the wonderfully sarcastic Alec Mckay. But my real excitement was the thought of a trip back to Inverness and The Black Isle with the author. He has a fantastic way of describing settings and locations that give the reader the full technicolour experience.

As with any series, I would recommend reading the books in order as it will make more sense and explain the sequence of events and links between characters. The book opens with DI McKay and his boss DCI Helena Grant discussing a previous case, the whys, the wherefores and the things to avoid happening again. But running alongside this police procedural tangent is a narrative of a woman who seems frightened, unsure about the situation she is in and her travelling companion. And if that wasn’t intriguing enough, the reader is also given a glimpse into the mind of the first murder victim, Jimmy McGuire as he meets his end.

Taking great care to link back to the previous books, Alex Walters gives readers answers and conclusions for things that happened in the first two books, but, and I really want to stress this point, he somehow makes sure that readers who pick up Their Final Act to read as a standalone will be able to dive straight in with sufficient details to explain the previous case and links between characters without bogging it down.
Although, I still have one niggling question unanswered … will there be a fourth book in the series that might answer this? Or will this be one thing that we never find out about?

Plotting is topical, the themes give readers plenty to think about. And as the story progressed, I found that I was trying to piece together the clues to work out who might be behind the killings and why, but as always, Walters only gives you so much information to work with, ensuring that when you do reach the end of the book, you’re stunned!

You can by a copy of Their Final Act via Amazon UK

 

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Today I am thrilled to welcome you to my post to celebrate another brilliant book from Bombshell Books, an imprint of Bloodhound Books specialising in women’s fiction, chick-lit & romance. The book in the spotlight today is The French Escape, which was published on 20th September 2018.


Book Feature:

Description:

thefrenchescape

It’s fair to say that Flick has had a terrible year. Her beloved father died, she had the wedding of her dreams and only hours after the ceremony her husband ran out on her. 

Brenda, fed up with her daughter living like a hermit, decides to drag Flick off to France to stay in a chateau. What could be better than an idyllic escape?

But when they arrive Flick discovers the chateau is all but abandoned.

The only upside of her French escape is the handsome and mysterious neighbour, Nate.

Nate loves his life living in the cottage on the grounds of the abandoned chateau but that is about to be put in jeopardy…

Can Nate and Flick ever learn to come to terms with the past and find love again?

 

Description:

Having enjoyed Suzie Tullett’s previous books, I was thrilled to find out that she had a new book coming out! There’s something really lovely about Suzie’s books, maybe it’s the way that she writes, maybe it’s the way she creates her characters, or maybe it’s just the book I need at the time, but each of her books has been a delight to read.

Readers meet Flick as she and her sleeping mother are on their way to a mysterious French holiday destination, well mysterious for Flick as her mother hasn’t really given her much detail other than where to programme the satnav for. But when they arrive, Flick is astounded, they are staying at a chateau, albeit one that looks in need of a massive overhaul, but breathtakingly beautiful.
Interspersed through Flick’s story, is narration from Nate, someone who has a history that he wants to keep securely locked away and likes living in the relative remoteness of the woods.
Both of these characters has their own struggle, they are trying to rebuild their lives and find a way to move forward. I think it was Nate’s story that was the most intriguing, what secret is hiding in his past, why doesn’t he want to be recognised?

The wonderful descriptions of the settings and the food are simply wonderful, the chateau sounds so full of character and the icy cold shower sounded like such a shock to the system! I could almost see the picturesque views, the market in town, it just all came to life from the pages.

Aside from Flick and Nate, there are some really fun and quirky characters in this book, each of them so very different from the other, and I will admit there were ones I took more easily to than others. Brenda, Flick’s mother, bless her heart, just wants the best for her daughter. And as a mother I could sympathise with her, I could understand why she would do whatever it took to make her daughter happy, her methods might not be the most straightforward, but she has a heart of gold. Julia was another character I liked, always there to pick up the pieces for her nephew, always there with a word of wisdom or dole out a sharp reminder that life isn’t easy.

The French Escape is a lovely romantic comedy, it has the great “will they, won’t they” element to it, it’s the sort of escapism that you want from a book. A good story, great characters and enough mystery to keep you hooked!

Highly recommended!

You can buy a copy of The French Escape via Amazon UK

 

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

 

Description:

Anna hasn’t set foot in Glasgow for ten years. And for very good reasons…

Anna, a criminology lecturer, returns to Glasgow from Rome during the coldest winter in memory. While out with her best friend from school, Anna has a chance encounter with a former flame, Andrew. Tragedy strikes later that night when Anna discovers Andrew stabbed and dying on a blanket of snow.

Soon Anna finds herself at the centre of the investigation as the star witness for the police, and embarks on investigating the case herself. But Anna doesn’t realise the danger she is in and soon finds herself in trouble.

When another body shows up, who has links to the first victim, it appears that the motive may lie buried in the past.

As Anna gets closer to the truth, the killer starts closing in.

But can she solve the gruesome mystery before the killer strikes again?

My Thoughts & Review:

I do love Scottish crime fiction, there’s something about “local” settings that makes a book really come to life for me, and when I saw that this book was set in Glasgow, a city that I know well, it seemed like a good excuse to shoehorn another book into my ever growing list to read.

With some great dialogue, readers get a real feel for the lingo although some readers may struggle with some of the exchanges, but this does give characters an authentic feel, and makes Zoe one of the characters that had me laughing almost every time she opened her mouth.
The plot is interesting and I have to admit that I didn’t quite know where it was leading me or where it might end up.
Originally from Glasgow, Anna has returned to help her friend celebrate her birthday, not knowing that the jolly events will lead to her being a suspect in a murder investigation. With the police convinced that Anna is somehow involved, she sets out to find out what happened and why. Unfortunately for her, a second victim is found, and she is placed firmly in the sights of the detectives.
I really didn’t take to the detectives at all, they came across as quite old fashioned, but I do wonder if perhaps part of their technique was to aggravate a suspect into revealing something unintentionally …
Initially, Anna was quite a hard character to take to, something about her screamed standoffish, rude and a bit strange. But as you get into this book, you realise that there’s more to this character, there are explanations for her ways and it soon makes sense.

This is a solid and interesting debut novel, and I would be keen to read more by this author in the future.

You can buy a copy of In The Silence via:

Amazon UK

 

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Today I am delighted to share a guest post with you by the awesome Leigh Russell for the blog tour for the publication of her new thriller The Adulterer’s Wife.

The Adulterer’s Wife was published by Bloodhound Books on 7th May 2018.

Leigh Russell - The Adulterer_s Wife_cover_high res(1)

 

Description:

Julie is devastated to learn that her husband, Paul, is having an affair. It seems her life can’t get any worse – until she comes home to find his dead body in their bed. 

When the police establish he was murdered, Julie is the obvious suspect. 

To protect her son from the terrible situation, Julie sends the teenage boy to his grandparents in Edinburgh while she fights to prove her innocence. 

With all the evidence pointing to her, the only way she can escape conviction is by discovering the true identity of her husband’s killer. 

But who really did murder Paul? 

The truth is never straightforward…

You can buy a copy of The Adulterer’s Wife via Amazon UK

 

 

DEALING WITH THE DARKNESS

So far in my writing career, I must have killed about sixty or seventy characters, at a conservative estimate. That’s a lot of murders plotted and executed on the pages of my books. Although my killers and their victims are only fictional characters, while I’m writing about them they have to give an impression of reality, or they wouldn’t seem credible to my readers. As a writer, I don’t want to be on the outside looking in on my scenes, I want to be there, listening to my characters talking to each other, watching their actions, and taking my readers there with me. The illusion has to be convincingly created for the writer as well as the reader.

In one of my first interviews, I said that my killer crawled off my pen onto the page. I had no idea where he came from. Fast forward to today, and I might say that he slid from my keyboard onto my screen. But the process is basically the same, and equally mysterious. Someone once questioned how a kindly old lady like the late wonderful PD James could create such monstrous characters. I have to confess, I was hugely gratified when an interviewer made the same remark about me. I may create vicious villains, but I’d be mortified to think that anyone might believe I would be capable of causing physical harm to another creature (excluding wasps and ants inside my house.)

Although it’s a serious question, it’s one I’ve tended to avoid answering, as I’m not sure I really want to think about it too deeply. Marcel Berlins, in The Times, described my writing as ‘psychologically acute’, and I seem to be able to walk around inside other people’s heads. In some way, my characters are imaginative extensions of my own humanity. But where do the thoughts come from when Im writing from inside the head of my killers? As my characters originate somewhere inside my own mind, I’m not sure I really want to know…

Do all the killers springing from my imagination mean that I have the capacity to become some kind of ruthless psychopath? The honest answer is that it’s unlikely. I’m certainly empathetic, moved and disturbed by the idea of suffering and death, besides which, I’m the last person you would want to have around in a medical emergency. I’m quite squeamish about blood, and panic if anyone is accidentally injured. I would be the world’s worst nurse. Yet I manage to write about people being stabbed, shot, hung, drowned, poisoned… my books cover every possible style of fatality, and I’ve certainly created characters who are far from horrified by the sight of blood, to put it mildly. 

Leaving aside those working in the medical profession, luckily I’m not unusual in my responses. People who are not horrified by their fellow human beings’ suffering and death are thankfully rare. We abhor such desperate experience in real life. So what drives us to read and write about violent death? How can we find it a source of entertainment? I’ve lost count of the number of people who tell me ‘I love a good murder!’ And it’s well known that crime writers are among the most humane people you could wish to meet.

Scenarios that would be intolerable in reality become open to exploration in fiction. Unless you visit the dark places in your mind, you cant really write about them well. So I spend a lot of my writing time thinking about the dead and the grieving people left behind. With all this killing, I do have my limits. I would never harm or kill a child in one of my books, or include a rape other than from a distance. As a mother of daughters, and a grandmother, these are areas I really don’t want to visit in my imagination. We each have our own limits within which crime writers are all exploring the darker aspects of human nature.

But of course there is more to most crime fiction than an exploration of our capacity for violence and cruelty, and the popularity of the genre isn’t based on descriptions of blood and gore. Crime writers examine the conflict between good and evil, with morally decent characters standing up against those who commit the most terrible atrocities. The more vicious the bad guys are, the more intense the conflict becomes, and the more invested the reader is in seeing the villains caught.

All literature revolves around tension of some kind. Without it, stories would lack any direction or satisfactory resolution. Whether a book is a romance, with readers rooting for two characters to connect, or a crime thriller, where the reader is trying to work out the identity of the killer and see him apprehended, narrative is by definition rarely static. The term ‘page turner’ reflects the fast pace of most modern crime thrillers. And the tension between good and bad characters is heightened when the lives of good characters are taken or threatened

Nevertheless, because this is fiction, the good characters haves to win their battles against the evil villains. As Oscar Wilde wrote, ‘The good ended happily, and the bad unhappily. That is what Fiction means.’ Of course in crime fiction not all the good characters can live happily ever after, as innocent victims are prematurely and violently killed. Their lives are unjustly cut short, and the characters who knew and loved them will never fully recover from their loss. But the villains are always apprehended and stopped, and moral order is restored with their containment at the end of the book.

Unlike thrillers which tend to deal with international affairs, crime fiction plumbs the depths of human nature rather than the breadth of human experience. Like diving into the ocean, the deeper you go the darker it becomes.

 

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I am so excited to share a guest post today that was written by L J Morris, the author behind Desperate Grounds, an action packed thriller published by Bloodhound Books as part of the pre publication blog tour.

 

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When the secrecy of a nuclear weapon agreement is thrown into doubt, a disgraced intelligence operative is recruited to find out if the deal is still safe…

Ali Sinclair, wrongly convicted and on the run from a Mexican prison, is enlisted to infiltrate her old friend’s inner circle and find the evidence.

The only people on her side are an ex-Cold War spook and the former Royal Marine that was sent to find her. Together they discover that the stakes are much higher than anyone knew, and the fate of the world is at risk…

But when you live in the shadows who can you trust?

 

You can buy a copy of Desperate Grounds via Amazon UK

 

Guest Post:

Character Building

Whenever I start to write a new story, I usually have an idea of who the main character will be and how the scene that will introduce them plays out. That scene can change dramatically, as it did for Desperate Ground, but it gives me a starting point.

When I sat down to finally begin writing Desperate Ground I already had two of the main characters in my head, Ali Sinclair and Frank McGill.

I’d created Frank McGill for two short pieces that I’d written a couple of years earlier. He had an existing back story and had developed over the course of the stories. I felt like I knew him, and he would be perfect for my novel. Originally, McGill was the main character in Desperate Ground, but I soon realised that that had to change.

McGill is an ex Royal Marine, fiercely loyal and used to taking orders but, now he is a civilian, he can pick and choose who he takes orders from. With that in mind, what would his motivation be? He has no love for the authorities so why would he work for them? That’s when I realised he couldn’t be the lead protagonist. With his recent past and death of his wife and unborn child, he was more likely to tip over the edge and become one of the bad guys. I needed him to have a reason to get involved and risk everything. I needed him to have a cause he was willing to die for. As McGill has no family or friends, I had to create another person that he cares about. That’s where Ali Sinclair came in. McGill’s motivation would be to help her. She would be the main protagonist and McGill would be her backup, her bodyguard.

Ali Sinclair is loosely based on someone I know. A young woman who served on the front line in Iraq and Afghanistan. She later became a private military contractor before moving into civilian security and close protection. Those experiences on their own would make the basis of a good character but there was more.

The real woman I based Sinclair on is as hard as nails when it’s needed but, as anyone who knows her will tell you, she also has a heart of gold. People who meet her today would only see the loving mother and care worker she became when she left the security business. She spends her time helping others, but underneath that is the tough military veteran who shouldn’t be messed with. That contradiction in her personality intrigued me and the character of Ali Sinclair was born.

Sinclair is angry at her treatment after being abandoned by those that she expected to help her. She too has no family and sees McGill as an older brother, the only person she can rely on. She is the dominant personality in the relationship and keeps McGill in line. She makes the tough decisions and prevents McGill from giving in to some of his darker aspects.

When I created the rest of the team, I wanted characters that I could grow and reuse in further stories. Not just the two other members of the main team, Simeon Carter and Danny Kinsella, but also some of the secondary characters. I’ve always enjoyed series which use recurring characters. I think it gives the reader a feeling of familiarity. The world in the books seems more real as characters you’ve already met reappear at different times and in different plots.

Simeon Carter, the old Cold War spook, and Danny Kinsella, the younger tech savvy computer expert, are a combination of characters in books I’ve read, film or TV series I’ve seen or people I’ve met. All the years I spent reading any genre I could get my hands on have now paid off. I have a built-in library of different traits and flaws from various influences that I can combine to form new characters. There are definitely some similarities between Simeon Carter and characters in the classic Cold War novels of Len Deighton and John le Carre, but also characters in TV programmes I grew up with. This also holds true for the villains I create. Although they are less likely to be based on people I know.

The other major ingredient in any story I write is the location. I was once told to think of location as another character and treat it the same. So, I tend to base locations on real places I have visited, although sometimes I combine actual places with made up ones.

A large part of Dangerous Ground takes place in Texas, a part of the world I lived in for a while. Many of the scenes are from memories I have but some of the locations are a combination of different places. For instance, the Houston motel that appears in one of the chapters is a description of a real place I stayed, whereas the ranch is based on different buildings including the secure apartment complex I lived in.

Occasionally, I need a specific location that I have no experience of at all. That’s where research takes over. Google maps is fantastic to get an idea of what an area looks like but, to get an idea of the feeling of a place, various travel guides and travelogues are my favourite place to look. Once I can picture the place in my mind, I describe it as if I was telling someone about a recent holiday trip.

To sum it up, I will use any influence I can to create a character, which is why I’ve warned all my friends that parts of a character’s personality might seem a little familiar.

I’m sure you will agree that’s a fascinating piece, I always love knowing where authors get their ideas for characters from.  I really like the idea that there are similarities between the characters in this and in some of my favourite novels from the masters such as le Carre and Deighton, cannot wait to read this one!

 

About the Author:Profile 1_LJM

L J Morris is an author with a love of books and storytelling that he developed as a child.

After a career in the Royal Navy, which spanned most of the 80s and 90s, he settled back in Cumbria and soon realised that an unsuccessful attempt to write a serial killer novel at the age of 12 hadn’t blunted his ambitions.

He started to write again and has enjoyed success with his short stories appearing in several anthologies. Although he still enjoys writing short stories, his passion has always been for thriller novels and he has spent the last few years following his dream of being a published novelist.

Social Media Links:

www.ljmorrisauthor.com

www.facebook.com/LesJMorris

https://twitter.com/LesJMorris

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** My thanks to Sarah at Bloodhound Books for my copy of this and for inviting me to be part of the blog tour **

 

Description:

While Inspector Jim Carruthers and team are busy investigating a series of art thefts they receive an anonymous tip about the body of a young woman on a deserted beach.

The bizarre clues to her identity, and what might have happened to her, include a strange tattoo, a set of binoculars and slab of meat left on the cliffs.

The team’s investigations lead them to a local shooting estate and its wealthy owner Barry Cuthbert. However, Carruthers suspects Cuthbert is not all he seems and the DI soon starts to wonder if the cases of the missing works of art, the dead woman and the estate are connected.

Then when the body of a young gamekeeper is pulled from the sea tensions boil over. The trail of clues lead the team to the unlikely locale of Tallinn and into the sinister world of international crime and police corruption.

Needing answers Carruthers must look further afield than Fife. However, the closer he gets to discovering the truth the more danger he finds himself in.

Since everyone who crosses the vengeful killers seem to end up dead, can Carruthers solve the case with his life in tact?

 

My Thoughts & Review:

From the outset I have to admit to breaking my own rule of reading a series in order, this is the first book of the Jim Carruthers detective series that I’ve read and in all honesty, it reads pretty well as a stand alone novel.  There are enough details about past events revealed to allow readers to understand the characters and their back stories without bogging down the plot in the current novel. 

Jim Carruthers is an interesting character and one that I really took a liking to, he cared about his team (the ones that wanted to be there and actually do the job), he cared about the investigations he was working on and wasn’t afraid to push himself to the limit to get answers, even when it meant putting himself in the line of danger.
There are some truly damaged characters in this novel, some who have managed to move on from the events in their lives and exist more comfortably, but there are some who carry the scars and thoughts with them in their daily life.  The struggles make these characters more relatable and gives them a layer of reality that readers need to connect with them.

The plot is a whirlwind of action and intrigue, a dead body on a beach, binoculars and chunks of meat on a clifftop….just how do these connect?  And with artworks being stolen from their wealthy owners this makes for a case that Carruthers and his team need to solve quickly before anyone else ends up dead.
The investigation leads Carruthers to Estonia and I have to say the pace really does gallop merrily onwards from here, and I found that I was equally intrigued by the events occurring around our protagonist as I was the events from the hotel’s history.  Having an interest in the cold war, I found the links to the hotel’s past fascinating and will definitely be looking into this further.

The descriptions of the settings were really fantastic, having been to some of the wee villages around Fife, I found that I could well imagine the coastal settings and the isolated beach, the steep climb to the tattoo shop (reminded me a little of Pittenweem), giving the reader a wonderful feeling of being able to “see” things in this book.

You can buy a copy of Mark of the Devil via Amazon UK

 

About the Author:

Profile Picture 2017

Edinburgh based Tana Collins is the author of the popular Jim Carruthers detective series set in Fife. Her debut novel, Robbing the Dead, published February 2017, became a No 1 Amazon bestseller for Scottish crime fiction.  Care to Die, the follow up in the series, also became a Top 10 Amazon bestseller. Published on 1st June 2017 Care to Die was described by Peter Robinson, author of DCI Banks,  as  “A finely plotted mystery. Tana Collins racks up the suspense on this one. DI Jim Carruthers is a cop to watch.”  In September 2017 having won one of the coveted Spotlight places at Bloody Scotland Tana supported Lynda La Plante on stage.

Her third novel, Mark of the Devil, is to be published 24th April 2018. Author Leigh Russell writes of it, “A cracking read. The suspense never lets up.”

Tana is a trained Massage Therapist and Stress Management Consultant.

 

Social Media Links:

Website: tanacollins.com

Twitter: @TanaCollins7

Author Facebook https://www.facebook.com/Tana-Collins-490774634440829

 

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Today I am thrilled to share a guest post written by John Marley for the blog tour for his latest book Godsend.  Not only does Godsend sound like a really interesting read, the author behind the book has a wonderfully delightful sense of humour but I do think he should maybe look into buying some ear plugs for his wife….

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It has been eighteen months since Danny Felix pulled off the robbery of his life.  His plan brought London to a standstill, but at a heavy price.

Now, living a quiet life running a charter fishing business in the Florida Keys, Danny is trying to come to terms with the death and destruction he had unwittingly unleashed. However, the low profile is beginning to wear thin and he soon starts to crave the adrenalin rush of his former criminal ways. 

Little does he know that three very different women are about to enter his life and turn it upside-down. Soon Danny finds himself right back in the action.

But why has he been chosen? And does he have the appetite to pull off another job where the stakes are so lethally high?

You can buy a copy of Godsend via Amazon UK

 

Shhhh! Don’t wake the Mrs!

 

When I finally managed to become a full-time writer, the one thing I wasn’t expecting was the lost sleep.

It’s not so chronic that it could be called insomnia, but there are long periods when I’m writing my books that are clearly defined by one thing. Bleedin’ characters waking me up at around 4.30am to poke and prod me about a plot point or development.  An idea for a set piece sequence might rouse me, or the motivation for a secondary character’s sudden burst of violence might cause me to toss and turn. I might have to sit bolt upright because of a sudden realisation that a I have to kill this one or that one to give my plot an added burst of momentum.

So why are you complaining, you ask…. isn’t this all adding to productivity, the onerous word count, the dreaded deadline? Well, yes…but why does it have to come to me with such a bolt at an indecent hour? I quite like my sleep…I definitely like my bed.

In an effort to facilitate a swift return to the land of nod, I have tried all sorts of things.  First was the pen and notepad by the bed.  Now, in theory that is all well and good, except I tried to do this without putting the light on so as not to wake the Mrs.  I’d scribble down my creative titbits and nestle back into my pillow secure in the knowledge that the inspiration had been captured for use later.  Except… at that time of night my handwriting is a bit like a spider who has enjoyed a few light ales, a half bottle pf whiskey and a late-night curry before knocking over an inkpot and scurrying across my notepad.  Indecipherable?  Pretty much.  It might as well have been written in hieroglyphics.

Next up I tried using the voice notes recorder on my phone. Scrabbling half-awake to get to my phone, wake it up, remember my lock screen code, find the app, get it going and then start whispering into it like a wildlife presenter in the midst of a whoop of gorillas. This didn’t work.  Because when I listened back to these mid-night musings, I sounded like I had downed the beer, the whisky and the curry.  It also caused the Mrs to stir…not good!!

So, what’s an insomniac scribbler to do?  I gave up and gave in. I get up, pad to the bathroom, get my dressing gown, affectionately known as Wuffly Bear in my house, and descend the stairs. Now this sounds all well and good right? Wrong!  We have two cocker spaniels.  They sleep at the foot of our bed.  If I get up they instantly assume it is either a) breakfast time or B) breakfast time.  Our bedroom has wooden floors. The food dance then breaks out, where our dogs spin in celebration of their imminent feast.  This sounds something like a Hollywood studio floor when Fred and Ginger are going at it for all their tap dancing worth. Little claws pinging about the place at four in the morning.  Needless to say, the Mrs stirs.

So, I have now developed an almost stealth like method of sliding soundlessly from under the sheets and across the bedroom to fetch Wuffly Bear.  As you can imagine this takes patience and time. When I eventually make it down the stairs, it’s laptop powered up, kettle on, backside in chair and write. Phew!

My first two books have been crafted in this manner, and whilst I am usually a grumpy sod due to lack of sleep, I have to admit that in these moments, I am actually quite chipper, because at the end of the day I’m very blessed to be able to spend my days (and nights) pursuing my dream of being an author.  So what if it wakes me up? So what if I have to creep round my own house like Santa Claus on the 24th December?  I’m the lucky one. I get to be creative and hopefully, along the way, readers will be thrilled, enthralled, surprised and entertained.  I can think of no other pursuit that it’s worth losing sleep over.  I’m very blessed.  The Mrs on the other hand…

 

About the Author:

John Marley, 27April2016, photographer Bronac McNeill

John A. Marley’s writing career started with a poem about two brothers who both liked sausages…their names were Butch and Dutch and his Primary School teacher Mr. Murray liked it so much it made the main noticeboard at the entrance to Holy Child Primary School in West Belfast.  A little older but none the wiser, he ended up as a film journalist in his native Northern Ireland, contributing to local newspapers, BBC Radio Ulster and latterly writing as the main film critic for the glossy magazine, Northern Woman.

John’s love of good stories came from the Irish predilection for telling a good yarn and the fact that there was nothing quite like sneaking away his Dad’s battered paperbacks to read even though he knew they were meant for adults and not kids. And so pulp fiction such as The Edge Westerns by George G. Gilman, the adventure novels of Alistair MacLean and the thrillers of Jack Higgins all served to whet his appetite for a good story told at pace.

These days, his reading tastes still focus on thrills, spills and good plot and he can’t walk by a James Lee Burke or an Elmore Leonard without pausing to read a few pages…even if it is in a busy bookshop.

John A. Marley is also a TV producer with a proven track record in creating and producing distinctive, original entertainment and factual programming and formats for both a UK and international audience. His eclectic portfolio of high-profile shows include Britain’s Ultimate Pilots: Inside the RAFBritain’s Flying PastStaraokeBest of FriendsSkatoonyNoel’s House PartyThrough the KeyholeSMTV:Live/CD:UKHow Euro Are You? and live coverage of “The Oscars” with Barry Norman.

John runs his own production company Archie Productions which he launched in 2008. Prior to setting up his own indie, John enjoyed a wide and varied career in television will creative roles at Talent Television, Planet 24, Carlton Television and Walt Disney UK. John’s broadcast media career started in his native Northern Ireland as a radio host.

Godsend is the follow up to John’s debut novel, Standstill in which we first met master thief Danny Felix.

Social Media Links:

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I am thrilled to share a guest post with you today written by Liz Mistry, the author behind the DI Gus McGuire series set in Bradford.
Uncommon Cruelty is the fourth book in the series and was published by Bloodhound Books on 14th April 2018 and is available to buy now.


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DI Gus McGuire and his team are called in to investigate the disappearance of a teenage boy after his parents return from a weekend away, to find their home trashed and their son missing.

But that is just the beginning.   

As the investigation unfolds, Gus m

ust discover what links a violent bikers’ gang, a Muslim youth group and a fundamentalist Am

erican based Christian church. 

Alongside this, two cases from the past come back to haunt DI Gus McGuire and his DS, Alice Cooper.

Gus has a lot to juggle, but will he cope?

Uncommon Cruelty is the fourth in the DI Gus McGuire series set in Bradford West Yorkshire and is a gritty, Northern Noir read.

Order your copy now via Amazon UK

Guest Post:

Inside The Mind of Liz Mistry, Crime Fiction Author

Author of the DI Gus McGuire books, Liz Mistry, gives us a sneak preview into the depths of her mind, revealing all her secrets about how her latest book Uncommon Cruelty came about.

Imagine my brain as a jigsaw of ill-fitting pieces. Each one carrying an image of, perhaps, a childhood memory, a newspaper report, a real-life event, a personal experience, an overheard conversation, an actual conversation, a smell … the list could be endless. These pieces all float around haphazardly inside my creative mind for a long time … sometimes from my childhood (and that is a long time ago) and sometimes more recently; flashes of conversations, snapshots of scenes, visions of historic events, news headlines that have grabbed me … they all remain in my mind.

Sometimes these images remain shadowy … just out of reach… in my peripheral vision. These ones are not fully formed, they have an almost ghost like translucent quality to them. They are frustratingly close, yet, just out of reach.

However, sometimes the images are vivid, virtually blinding in their intensity. Their neon, almost fluorescent, light forces me to acknowledge them, to look at them, study them, consider where they might take me. Most infuriatingly, they keep me awake at night and often steal my daylight hours too – seeping into my thoughts, distracting me from other things, making me day dream and … generally annoying me. They follow me wherever I go and then, after weeks, or months or even years, they start to speak to me, until one day, usually at the most inconvenient
time, one of the vivid ones jumps right to the front of the queue, preening and strutting like a horny peacock vying for a mate … and that’s when I know I’ve got a starting point. But, it doesn’t stop there … oh no. I still need my sub plots so …

All the jigsaw pieces continue to bump against each other, knocking sharp edges off here, smoothing corners there, losing extraneous stuff, embellishing things and, gradually, they form a clear picture of plot lines and ideas that interweave to create a cohesive narrative. That is, in essence, how my creative mind works.

Then comes the darkness! Well, I write crime fiction, don’t I? – here’s how that happens.

With Uncommon Cruelty a very normal event that, no doubt, happens throughout the world on a fairly regular basis, captured my imagination and formed a jigsaw piece that loitered in the shadows for a while before emerging into the light. This particular jigsaw piece was inspired, in part, by personal experience and in part by hearsay and various news stories over the years. It was the Out Of Control Teen House Party jigsaw piece. My own teen (at the time) son hosted one such party that got mildly (in retrospect) out of control with a few older kids gate-crashing
and a bit of damage to the house. This combined with hazy memories of a party I had hosted as teen when my parents were away (the acorn doesn’t fall far from the tree, it seems). Thankfully most of these parties end with only minimal damage to property and a sound telling off for the guilty teen party host.

However, as any crime fiction author will tell you, when you bring in that most essential of all writers’ tools the big “WHAT IF … ?” question, then things can take a very, very dark turn … and, that’s basically what happens in Uncommon Cruelty.
Drugs, alcohol, gate-crashers and a group of silly teenagers out of control and with their senses impaired, leads to chaos … and death. By the end of the Uncommon Cruelty teen house party, in a fairly affluent area, of Bradford, DI Gus McGuire and his team have two dead bodies and a missing teen to investigate… and of course things only get darker from there on in, as I let my demons out to play and think of the worst-case scenarios.

So, we have that house party as the largest jigsaw piece; the one the other pieces are jostling around trying to fit into … that’s my starting point and the contents of my mind will determine where it goes.

The next jigsaw piece to emerge from the shadows and slot into position was the memory of a huge biker and quad bike gathering in the Kirkstall area of Leeds in 2016. The bikers basically took over a huge part of Kirkstall during rush hour and caused considerable disruption. When I asked myself the “WHAT IF … ?” question, I came up with an illicit, newly formed, biker gang involved in criminal activity in the Bradford area.

Another jigsaw piece that erupted from the shadows, was an article I’d read about Prayer Chairs on a website, about how some churches were taking Prayer Chairs to the city centre streets to encourage people to meet Jesus. The “WHAT IF … ?” question for me this time, was, what if, instead of being an altruistic gesture, it was more cultish and not part of mainstream Christianity and much less tolerant?

I had one other main jigsaw piece to explore, and that was the idea of Jihad. A long-ago conversation with a Muslim friend about the true meaning of the word Jihad, worked its way loose and slotted nicely into place in Uncommon Cruelty. The idea of a Jihad being, not about violence and destruction and terrorism, but rather about a conversation with God and a Muslim’s personal journey through life, navigating every challenge that is faced made me consider how young Muslims in the UK today navigate the line between faith and western society.

So, those are the jigsaw pieces that make up Uncommon Cruelty. Hope you enjoyed hearing about them.

 

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