Murder on the Orient Express by Agatha Christie @HarperCollinsUK

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Author : Agatha Christie
Title : Murder on the Orient Express
Series : Hercule Poirot #10
Pages : 240
Publisher : Harper Collins
Publication date : October 19, 2017 (first published in 1934)

aboutthebook

Just after midnight, the famous Orient Express is stopped in its tracks by a snowdrift. By morning, the millionaire Samuel Edward Ratchett lies dead in his compartment, stabbed a dozen times, his door locked from the inside. Without a shred of doubt, one of his fellow passengers is the murderer. Isolated by the storm, detective Hercule Poirot must find the killer among a dozen of the dead man’s enemies, before the murderer decides to strike again.

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Confession time. Deep breath. This is the very first time I’ve picked up a book by Agatha Christie. I know, as a crime fiction lover it’s an utter disgrace. And if it hadn’t been for the movie, it may still not have happened. Anyway, I have now corrected the error of my ways and I dare say this will not be the last Christie book I read.

We find ourselves on board the Orient Express when the train is forced to stop due to a snowdrift. When morning comes, one of the passengers is dead. Since nobody has boarded or left the train, the murderer is clearly still among the other passengers and it’s up to Hercule Poirot to figure out who the culprit is.

I thoroughly enjoyed this change of pace. While I do like my crime fiction a bit gruesome and full of gore sometimes, it’s nice to read something where the focus isn’t on the icky details but more on the investigation and interviews with potential suspects. And there are a lot of them here. Poirot obviously doesn’t have access to any nifty gadgets, google or databases but relies purely on his wit and powers of deduction.

It’s easy to see why Agatha Christie was, and still is, so popular. Or even why Hercule Poirot is the second most famous detective in the world. It seems to me that Christie was an excellent observer, based on the incredibly realistic and eccentric characters. This was a solid plot that had me guessing until the end. I couldn’t figure out at all whodunnit, nor even howdunnit. That’s totally a word, by the way. 😉

A short and quick read, this fabulous new edition of Murder on the Orient Express now stands proudly on my bookshelf and I know more will follow. I’m glad I finally got around to reading something by her.

Murder on the Orient Express was first published in 1934 and is available in various formats with various covers.

Amazon US | Amazon UK | Bookdepository | Goodreads

 

Walden of Bermondsey : Where There’s Smoke by Peter Murphy @noexitpress @KatherineSunde3

** copy received via publisher **

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Author : Peter Murphy
Title : Walden of Bermondsey : Where There’s Smoke
Pages : n/a
Publisher : No Exit Press
Publication date : November 23, 2017

aboutthebook

When Charlie Walden took on the job of Resident Judge of the Bermondsey Crown Court, he was hoping for a quiet life. But he soon finds himself struggling to keep the peace between three feisty fellow judges who have very different views about how to do their job, and about how Charlie should do his.

And as if that’s not enough, there’s the endless battle against the ‘Grey Smoothies’, the humourless grey-suited civil servants who seem determined to drown Charlie in paperwork and strip the court of its last vestiges of civilisation.

No hope of a quiet life then for Charlie, and there are times when his real job – trying the challenging criminal cases that come before him – actually seems like light relief.

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This is probably going to be a short review but that’s okay, because the first case of Charlie Walden is a rather short and quick read as well as it’s a sample designed to give you a taster of what’s to come.

Where There’s Smoke is the first of six cases Resident Judge Walden will be working on. When Charlie took up this position, he was hoping for a quiet life. But that was not to be. Apart from trying to keep the peace between fellow judges, he’s also involved in a daily battle with the “Grey Smoothies”, the civil servants who drown Charlie in paperwork and make life as hard as possible.

The case in front of the judge seems straightforward but is it though? A young man is appearing in court, accused of starting a fire at the local church which results in the building being completely unusable. There’s a witness, Father Stringer, who saw the young man leave the scene of the crime. Case closed. Or not?

This is such a breath of fresh air. Not only does it involve some court action, which I thoroughly enjoy but Charlie and his colleagues are a cast of incredibly fun characters. Some are a little odd and eccentric maybe and it’s easy to see why they don’t always get along but they are all vastly entertaining. I suppose this story would fall into the cosy mystery category. What makes it stand out a bit are the fabulously witty moments and seeing a court through the eyes of a judge instead of a lawyer.

This was a wonderful change of pace from the usual books I tend to read and I really enjoyed meeting Charlie Walden. I’ll definitely be picking up the full novel to follow Charlie and his other cases.

Many thanks to Katherine at No Exit Press!

Walden of Bermondsey was published yesterday!

Amazon US | Amazon UK | Goodreads

Mother by S.E. Lynes @bookouture #blogtour #extract

Welcome to my stop on the blog tour for Mother by S.E. Lynes! I have an extract to share with you but first here’s a little something about the book. Many thanks to Kim at Bookouture!

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Author : S.E. Lynes
Title : Mother
Pages : 308
Publisher : Bookouture
Publication date : November 22, 2017

aboutthebook

Christopher Harris is a lonely boy. A boy who has never fitted into his family. Who has always felt something was missing from his life. Until one day, when he discovers a suitcase in his family’s attic. And a secret about his mother that changes everything. What price would you pay for the perfect family?

Christopher finally has a chance at happiness. A happiness that he will do anything to protect.

extract

Good Friday, 17 April 1981

Still the man thrashes against him, wild as a trapped animal. His arms flail; his shoes scuff against the damp gravel of the canalside. His feet gain purchase. His legs lock. His rigid torso thrusts into Billy’s chest. It’s a powerful blow and Billy staggers backwards at its force. They’ll both end up in the water at this rate, he thinks. But he must keep tight hold of the rope. This is his very life he’s holding onto; he’s come this far and nothing will make him let go now.

The man writhes, cries out – choked, desperate. He clutches at the rope to try to prise it from his failing throat. The twine chafes against Billy’s knuckles, sends blood slick across his aching white fists. The man gives a guttural cough, an internal retching that seems to come from Billy’s own chest. Together they lurch, wrestling twins, a two-headed beast, until the man’s scrabbling boots blanch under the street light. Billy freezes. They have left the cover of the bridge. Someone might see.

With a roar, he drags his raging victim back to the dark, heels scoring twin trails in the loose stone chippings until, to his relief, the shadow of the bridge slides over them once again. Billy’s nostrils flare; his mouth gapes. Not enough air; he must suck in all he can. Overhead comes the rubbery rhythm of cheap shoe soles on stone. One person only – the brisk, offended strut of a good-time girl who has heard one joke too many tonight. Soon there will be more people along this way. He must hurry.

The man bucks, his belly rounding like a bedsheet on the breeze. With all his strength, Billy pulls the rope. He has begun to cry, to sob with a kind of grief. It is all so wretched, but he has not been able to grasp the exact nature of the wretchedness until now. This is how it is to kill a man. This is how it feels.

His body is numbing with cold and pain. His nose is running; no hands free, he has to lick away the gritty trail of mucus from his upper lip. His wet hair falls into his left eye. He flicks his head to clear it, but it falls back. He blows it up, this stubborn lock, but it drops again as soon as his breath fails. It is so bloody awful, this business of death. It wasn’t meant to be this hard. It wasn’t meant to be this messy.

He yanks at the rope again, and this time, at last, the writhing stops. Billy could let go of the rope now, but no, it is not worth the risk. He will finish this, and after it is over, then will be the time for putting things right. Then will be the time for atonement.

‘I will do only good.’ His voice is little more than a croak; his biceps sear for lack of oxygen. ‘Only good from now on. I swear by Almighty God.’

He gives one last pull. The rope is in spasm, his hands in spasm with it. His teeth hurt; he fears he might press them into his gums. He cannot hold on.

The tang of urine fills his nostrils. The man collapses. His feet splay, his body heavy as a gravestone. Silence rushes under the bridge and stops there, filling the space with its terrible sound. Billy clutches the rope, but already the tension is gone.

‘Only good now,’ he says, and falls to his knees. ‘Only good from now on. Oh God.’

Footsteps overhead: clack, clack, clack – the whinny of tipsy female; the bass notes of the male who thinks his luck is in. Billy’s chest is a pump. The jagged path digs into his knees. If those above could see him here below: filthy and crying, snot-smeared and pitiful. What foul troll is that? they would ask themselves. What monster?

He sucks at the cold damp air, air that smells of moss and dirt. Monster. With his bloody hands he wipes his face but feels only mud and grit. Monster. He is still weeping: for this death, for his own saved life. If they could see him, if anyone could, oh God.

The pain of the evening’s exertions claws at his bones. He must rally. He hauls himself to his feet, tries to lift the body, but it is too heavy. He has to kneel again and push with all his remaining strength to roll it towards the water. It now. At the edge, he stops. He can feel the ugly set of his own disgusted mouth. His skin itches and cracks. He closes his eyes for a moment. He is already kneeling, as if the decision to pray has already been made for him.

‘Lord God,’ he whispers, closing his hands together, hoping he can remember at least some of the words. ‘As we commit the earthly remains of our brother to the earth… that is, to the water, grant him peace until he is raised to the glory of new life promised in the waters of baptism. We ask this through Christ our Lord. Amen.’

A strong shove is all it takes to roll the body over the side. Barely half a second passes before the dull splash of oblivion breaks the quiet.Billy groans, lies full length on his stomach and stretches his hands into the water. Scooping up handfuls, he splashes his face clean. Baptism, he thinks. I baptise myself. I am born again.

***

How’s that for an opener?! 😲

Mother is available for purchase now!

Amazon US | Amazon UK | Goodreads

abouttheauthor

After graduating from Leeds University, S E Lynes lived in London before moving to Aberdeen to be with her husband. In Aberdeen, she worked as a producer at BBC Radio Scotland before moving with her husband and two young children to Rome. There, she began to write while her children attended nursery. After the birth of her third child and upon her return to the UK, she gained an MA in Creative Writing from Kingston University. She now combines writing with lecturing at Richmond Adult Community College and bringing up her three children. She lives in Teddington. Her first novel, Valentina, published by Blackbird Digital Books, came out in July 2016. Her follow up novel, Mother, is published by Bookouture.

***

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Dying Breath by Helen Phifer @helenphifer1 @bookouture #blogblast #extract

Happy publication day to Helen Phifer for Dying Breath, the second book in the Detective Lucy Harwin series! I have an extract to share with you to whet your appetite on this blog blast. Many thanks to Noelle at Bookouture!

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Author : Helen Phifer
Title : Dying Breath
Series : Detective Lucy Harwin #2
Pages : 285
Publisher : Bookouture
Publication date : November 23, 2017

aboutthebook

Just a few months after a terrifying case that nearly took her life, Detective Lucy Harwin is back with her squad in the coastal town of Brooklyn Bay – and this time, she’s faced with a case more horrifying than anything she’s encountered.

Along with her partner, Detective Mattie Jackson, Lucy is investigating what appears to be a vicious but isolated murder; a woman found bludgeoned to death on a lonely patch of wasteland.

But when a second victim is discovered strangled in an alleyway, then a young family shot in their own home, Lucy and the team must face the unthinkable reality – a killer is walking the streets of their town.

While Lucy and the team try to find the link between these seemingly unconnected murders, they uncover a disturbing truth – these murders are replicating those carried out by infamous serial killers.

Lucy must get to the killer before he strikes again. But he’s got his sights on her, and is getting ever closer… Can she save herself, before she becomes the final piece in his twisted game?

extract

Chapter One

He watched and waited, playing his favourite guessing game. Who was going to die tonight? He was sitting in the car with the engine running to keep the windows from steaming up. Autumn was his favourite time of year; he liked the dark nights and the frosty mornings, although today had been dismal.

He’d been parked up the street from The Ball and Chain for an hour already. The dirty grey rainclouds that had filled the sky when he arrived had now turned black. The whole time his knees had been twitching; he kept clenching and unclenching his knuckles. His tongue kept snaking from his mouth and licking his lips. The excitement and anticipation were almost too much to bear. There were no stars or moon to illuminate the streets tonight and he liked it that way – the darker the better. It matched his soul.

The Ball and Chain was your typical working-class pub, full of contractors and locals who wanted cheap beer, cheap food and even cheaper women. Not that he knew the clientele particularly well; he’d only been inside once, a few weeks ago. There had been some old guys and a woman with bleached-blonde hair sitting by herself in the corner, nursing a large glass of wine.

Tonight the same woman had been out three times for a cigarette, first on her own and then with a couple of older men. At a guess she was in her early fifties, and was wearing jeans which looked as if they’d been spray-painted on. The top she was in wouldn’t have looked any better on a twenty-year-old because it was far too short to be flattering. He could see the pasty rolls of her stomach falling over the waistband of her jeans. Her two-inch, black roots were in dire need of a retouch, which made her the perfect victim: she was a very good match. Each time she came outside she stumbled that little bit more. He was wondering if she’d be there until closing time and hoped to God they didn’t have a lock-in.

Finally his patience was rewarded when there was a commotion, and loud shouting came from the direction of the pub. He looked up from the book he was reading to see the barmaid pushing the woman out. She wasn’t going without a fight and she swung for the younger woman, who expertly dodged the fist that came her way. The woman stumbled backwards and the pub door was slammed shut. She stepped forward and began to pound on the door with her fists. Nobody answered and he smiled as the rain, which had been threatening to fall all night, began to hammer against the car bonnet.

The woman, after screaming at the closed door, turned and began to stumble towards the car. She had her phone out and was trying to press the buttons. He assumed she was trying to call a taxi, but all he could hear was her muttering. She walked past his car and he watched her bouncing off the pebble-dashed wall of the pub, wondering how much alcohol she’d consumed.

He put the car in gear and followed her for a little while; then, as he pulled up next to her, he wound the window down.

‘Would you like a lift?’ …

***

Uh oh. I see trouble ahead!

If you can’t wait to find out more either, Dying Breath is published today so go forth and grab your copy now!

Amazon US | Amazon UK | Goodreads

abouttheauthor

Helen Phifer lives in a small town called Barrow-in-Furness with her husband and five children.

Helen has always loved writing and reading. Her love of horror films and novels is legendary. Helen adores reading books which make the hair on the back of her neck stand on end. Unable to find enough scary stories to read she decided to write her own.

Helen’s debut novel ‘The Ghost House’ was published by Carina UK in October 2013 and went on to become a best seller along with the rest of the Annie Graham series. The Secrets of the Shadows, The Forgotten Cottage, The Lake House, The Girls in the Woods and The Face Behind the Mask.

The Good Sisters is a standalone horror story which will scare the pants off you or so her lovely readers have told her. It scared Helen when she was writing it so she pretty much agrees with them.

March 2017 saw the release of psychological thriller Dark House (previously called The Lost Children), book 1 in the Detective Inspector Lucy Harwin series. Book 2 – Dying Breath is due for release in Nov 2017.

You can get in touch with Helen via Facebook | Twitter | Instagram | Website

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Dying Breath - Blog Tour

This Week in Books (November 22)

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Hosted by Lipsy Lost and Found, my Wednesday post gives you a taste of what I’m reading this week. A similar meme is run by Taking on a World of Words.

Last book I finished reading :

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Emma is a loving wife, a devoted mother…and an involuntary killer. For years she’s been hiding the dead body of the teacher who seduced her as a teen.

It’s a secret that might have stayed buried if only her life had been less perfect. A promotion for Emma’s husband, Alex, means they can finally move to a bigger home with their young son. But with a buyer lined up for their old house, Emma can’t leave without destroying every last trace of her final revenge…

Returning to the shallow grave in the garden, she finds it empty. The body is gone.

Panicked, Emma confesses to her husband. But this is only the beginning. Soon, Alex will discover things about her he’ll wish he’d learned sooner. And others he’ll long to forget.

The book I’m currently reading :

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An isolated Swedish town. A deaf reporter terrified of nature. A dense spruce forest overdue for harvest. A pair of eyeless hunters found murdered in the woods.

It’s week one of the Swedish elk hunt and the sound of gunfire is everywhere. When Tuva Moodyson investigates the story that could make her career she stumbles on a web of secrets that knit Gavrik town together. Are the latest murders connected to the Medusa killings twenty years ago? Is someone following her? Why take the eyes? Tuva must face her demons and venture deep into the woods to stop the killer and write the story. And then get the hell out of Gavrik.

What I’m reading next :

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Two girls. A murder. And a secret that binds them forever.

As a teenager, Sylvie Armstrong’s life was shattered when her best friend, Victoria Bland, was murdered. The killer has never been caught – and Sylvie has never spoken about what happened that day.

Now, two decades have gone by and after the death of her mother, Sylvie is forced to return to her home town, along with her newborn daughter – only to be confronted by the secrets that she has been running from for twenty years.

But then Sylvie receives the locket Victoria was wearing on the night she died – and it becomes clear that somebody knows what really happened to Victoria.

As Sylvie struggles to discover the truth behind the lies, she finds herself in increasing danger from those who will stop at nothing to keep their secrets. Someone who threatens not only Sylvie, but everything she loves…

***

Anything taking your fancy there? What will you be reading this week? Let me know!

Happy reading! xx

We Have Lost The Chichuahuas by Paul Mathews @emmamitchellfpr #blogtour #qanda

Happy Hump Day and welcome to my stop on the blog tour for We Have Lost The Chihuahuas by Paul Mathews. Many thanks to Emma Mitchell! Paul has very kindly taken the time to answer a few questions but first, here’s some information on the book!

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Author : Paul Mathews
Title : We Have Lost The Chihuahuas
Series : We Have Lost #4
Pages : 279
Publisher : Amazon Digital Services
Publication date : November 28, 2017

aboutthebook

London, 2046. The British Republic has a new First Lady. She’s Californian, ‘in-your-face, for sure’ and she’s got big plans for a Buckingham Palace refurb. When her three Chihuahuas go missing, one man is determined to avoid getting dragged into it all. His name is Pond. Howie Pond – presidential spokesperson, retired secret agent and cat lover.

Meanwhile, Howie’s wife Britt is handed her first assignment as a National Security and Intelligence Service rookie – to solve the mystery of the missing canine trio.

Will Howie manage to slope off to the pub before he can be roped into help? Will Britt unmask the dog-napper and grab the glory?

qanda

* How important are the names in your book? Do you choose the names based on liking the way they sound or their meaning? Do you have any name choosing resources you can recommend?

I always try and match a name to a character, where possible. ‘Howie’ just came to me for my main character. He’s a laid-back type of guy and it just seemed to fit.

Other names require a little more thought. For example, for foreign characters I always check the meaning of names for something suitable.

Names can change during the writing process. My main female character, Britt, started off as Malina (I think, I never keep the notes!). One character changed from Magda to Martha and I kept transposing the two – I’ve learnt my lesson about changing a name to a similarly sounding one!

* Are you a plotter or pantster? 

I’m most definitely a plotter who writes a brief summary of each chapter. But I often add in new elements, characters or locations along the way.

While early chapters go to plan, it’s actually pretty difficult to be 100 per cent certain what’s going to happen in chapter 40. This means my daily routine has a structure but I can go off on a tangent where the story allows. For example, in ‘We Have Lost The Chihuahuas’ I added in a completely new character, called Arthur, right at the end who adds to the comedy chaos. Like most things in life, a bit of flexibility always helps.

* Do you read your reviews? Do you respond to them if they are particularly good or bad? How do you deal with the bad?

Yes, I read every review on Amazon and Goodreads. It’s how you pick up occasional tips about what worked and what didn’t.

Experience has taught me never to respond to reviews. I did once on Goodreads, after a fellow author wrote something critical which wasn’t at all justified (after reading one chapter). But then her band of merry followers decided to troll me, Goodreads deleted all my perfectly reasonable comments and it’s a real mess now. Never again!

* What is your least favourite part of the writing/publishing process? 

Reviewing the same text time and time again – especially towards the end, when it doesn’t change much – can turn the brain to mush after a while! I now try and build gaps of at least a week of two between major edits.

* What are your favourite and least favourite types of scenes to write? 

Opening and concluding chapters are always fun. The former because you’re starting a new project and actually doing some writing (rather than plotting, marketing & other indie publisher chores) and the latter because there is literary light at the end of the tunnel!

* If you could have one superpower, what would it be and why? 

The ability to become a cat for a day and see the world from a feline perspective.

***

Thanks so much to Paul Mathews for taking the time out to answer these questions!

We Have Lost The Chihuahuas will be published on November 28th.

Amazon US | Amazon UK | Goodreads

abouttheauthor

Paul Mathews is a quite funny British guy who’s managed to escape his day job and is currently on the run as a comedy novelist. His sharp, satirical – often surreal – sense of humour draws on 20 years as a British Government press officer, during which time he encountered politicians, senior civil servants, HR managers, and lots of other people who really sucked at their jobs.

His popular ‘We Have Lost’ comedy-thriller series set in 2040s London, starring beleaguered presidential spokesman and wannabe secret agent Howie Pond, currently comprises four titles with more on the way. Paul has read all the books at least ten times and highly recommends them.

Make him happy by signing up for his ‘Very Funny Newsletter’ here. If you don’t want to sign up for it, stay calm and do nothing.

Paul also owns a cat, Lulu, who works as his assistant. All fan mail to her, please.

***

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Don’t Tell A Soul by D.K. Hood @bookouture #extract

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Author : D.K. Hood
Title : Don’t Tell A Soul
Series : Detectives Kane and Alton #1
Pages : 277
Publisher : Bookouture
Publication date : October 30, 2017

aboutthebook

When a body is found stuffed into a barrel at a garbage dump, covered in long red lacerations, Detective Jenna Alton and her new deputy, David Kane, rush to the scene.

Nothing ever happens in the small American town of Black Rock Falls, so Jenna believes the victim must be one of two recent missing persons, and she fears for the life of the other.

Both were strangers to the town, but there’s nothing else to link them. Jenna knows someone must have seen something, but no one’s talking; how well does she really know the people around her?

Then a disturbing clue makes Jenna suspect a connection with other disappearances in the town’s history. Just when she begins asking the right questions, she realises she’s being followed. Is she next on the killer’s list?

extract

Prologue

Kill me.

One blood-splattered cowboy boot crunched on the chipped cement floor inches away from his cheek. A sick chuckle followed by a nerve-shattering kick to broken ribs brought back the tremors. A lightning bolt of white-hot agony shot down his spine. In a desperate attempt to pull precious air through swollen lips, he spat blood and gasped precious air.Lungs burning with effort, he writhed like a worm in the dirt waiting for the death blow. His vision blurred and pain pierced his eyes. He had lost all sense of direction, and his tormentor’s peals of satanic laughter played tricks with his confused mind. Night had drifted into another day of endless torture. He tried to crawl away and puffed out a spray of red, stirring the straw on the dusty floor.

How long had it been since he walked into the stables? One day? Five days? Time had become the periods between attacks. He had suffered unimaginable torture from a man well skilled at inflicting misery, but he’d somehow survived. At first, he tried to reason with his captor and gave him the information he demanded, but he had fallen into a lunatic’s sadistic fantasy. He had had no time to retaliate, no time to bargain for his life. The first hammer blow knocked him senseless and he came out of oblivion into a world of pain, tied hand and foot at the mercy of a monster.

He hovered between reality and delusion. The mind is a wonderful organ, and his tried to compensate by taking him on trips to the beach with his family. At times, he floated into another dimension on marshmallow clouds but reality came crashing back with each round of torment. He soon discovered crying or begging for mercy made the sessions last longer. Biting back moans and pretending to be unconscious gave the wielder of pain no satisfaction.

Under him, the cold floor acted as a balm to his injuries, numbing the agony, and when darkness came, he could crawl beneath a pile of stinking straw. The fermenting horse dung kept him warm, kept him alive. He had spent the first hours in captivity gnawing at the ropes around his wrists, using his teeth to loosen the knot, but one swing of the lunatic’s hammer put paid to any hope of escape.

A shadow passed over him. A boot pressed down on his spine, the heel twisting to part the vertebrae in bone-jarring agony. Sensation left his legs.

He has paralyzed me.

Determined not to give him the satisfaction of crying out, he remained silent. One more night naked on the freezing ground would finish him, and he would welcome the release.

A car engine hummed in the distance and Cowboy Boots bent over him, grabbed his legs, and dragged him into a stall. Straw tumbled over him, coating his eyelashes with dust. Through the golden strands, he peered out the open door and his heart pounded in anticipation. A police cruiser pulled up in the driveway and two uniformed officers climbed out. A female cop handed his captor a piece of paper.

He edged forward on his elbows, dragging his useless legs behind him. Sucking in a deep breath, he screamed though his shredded lips but only a long whine escaped his throat. The woman glanced in his direction and he clawed at the ground, edging inch by inch from the stall. He had to get her attention, and fighting back waves of nausea, he tried again. “Aaaaarh.”

The police officer indicated toward the barn with her chin then moved in his direction, but Cowboy Boots blocked her way and shook his head. A grin spread across his face with the cunning of a gargoyle, evil personified. The cop spoke again but her muffled words dissipated in the wind and his tormentor’s attention moved back to the paper in his hand. Somehow, he had convinced her all was well.

I have a chance to escape.

He dug for his last ounce of strength and bucked to move forward one painful inch at a time.

I must crawl into the open

Spitting blood, he pushed sound through his shattered mouth.

Hear me. Please hear me.

“Aaaaarh.”

The woman flicked a look his way, squeezed Cowboy Boots’ arm in a comforting gesture then followed the other officer back to the car. Despair enveloped him, and all hope lost, he allowed the tears stinging his eyes to run down his cheeks. Footsteps came tapping on the cement floor like the ringing of a death knell. His cries for help had enraged the maniac.

“How dare you try to alert the cops? I own you.” Cowboy Boots spat a hot, slimy globule on his cheek. “It’s your fault the bitch scanned my yard. You are so gonna pay.”

Blows rained down on him, searing pain exploded in his head, and his vision blinked. A strange fog surrounded him and he embraced the peace of darkness.

***

Don’t Tell A Soul is available for purchase now.

Amazon US | Amazon UK | Goodreads

The Prisoner’s Wife by Gerard MacDonald @gilbster1000 @AuthorightUKPR #blogtour #extract

Welcome to my stop on the blog tour for The Prisoner’s Wife by Gerard MacDonald! Thanks to Rachel for inviting me. I have an extract to share with you today, right after I tell you what the book is all about.

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Author : Gerard MacDonald
Title : The Prisoner’s Wife
Pages : 320
Publisher : Socciones Editoria Digitale
Publication date : June 20, 2017 (first published in 2012)

aboutthebook

Living in Paris in 2004, former CIA spy Shawn Maguire accepts a freelance job to find an Iranian named Darius Osmani. Abducted by the CIA after claiming to have information about a nuclear device, Osmani is being interrogated in one of its secret “black prisons” as a suspected terrorist. Maguire’s efforts to track him and avoid his own downfall are complicated by his attraction to Osmani’s wife, Danielle. …

As spies go, Maguire is a decent, straight-shooting soul—and not only when he’s putting his skills as a sniper to work. He searches for Osmani, on a road that takes him and Danielle to Morocco, Egypt and the political danger zone of Pakistan—where U.S. intelligence has secret plans for the soon-to-be-reinstated female prime minister.

extract

It was basic with AA meetings, rule one, they weren’t pickup places. Shawn had never hit on Anita, or any other woman in the rooms. But then, he was new to this recovery gig. He’d thought about a pickup. Of course he had. Down the line, maybe. But tonight?

Anita was weeping now. The room was quiet. ‘We were drinking,’ she said. ‘This guy. I took him home. I – we – I mean – ’ She stood, pushing herself up off the table. ‘And I’d worked so hard. Like, I’d been clean for months.’ Someone slid toward her the half-empty box of man-size tissues. ‘That’s, I mean, that’s all, that’s all I want to say right now, but thank you for – ’

Another ragged chorus: ‘Thank you Anita. Thank you for your chair,’ – an expression which puzzled Shawn the first time he came to one of these coffee-bar meetings. Her chair?

Cedric, the man who’d laughed, stood on tip toe, mouth open, ready to speak.

But Anita, her breathing slower, pointed at Shawn. ‘I’d like Shawn to share.’

Snap. She remembered his name.

Cedric, put out, sat slowly down. Shawn bent his head. This was a moment he’d hoped to avoid. The three English meetings he’d been to, he’d listened to others tell their histories – alcohol, drugs, sex – all, it seemed, in miniature, scaled down for England. This odd little island.

He’d not yet spoken, and hoped he’d never have to. Now they watched him. Waiting.

Anita found a seat at the end of his row. ‘Go,’ she said.

Shawn wouldn’t, couldn’t stand. He said ‘My name’s Shawn. I’m American. I guess you hear that. Born in Alabama. Been living in England a while. Unemployed.’ That was the easy part.

Another chorus: ‘Hi, Shawn.’

‘I’m an alcoholic.’ Silence. Waiting. ‘I’m not what you call clean. I’m still drinking. Less than I did. Still, too much. You know what they say – eases the pain.’

Again, silence, in which Shawn felt undercurrents of feeling. Among the saved, a soul impenitent; a man without strength.

‘I’m also a sex addict.’

In the shadow, someone sighed.

‘I didn’t know that term,’ Shawn said. ‘If I’d heard it a couple of years back, I would’ve laughed. I mean, I thought that’s what you did. Like, excuse the language – I thought, if you’re a man – survival of the fittest – you go tomcatting round, grab whatever tail’s on offer. Meet someone hot, a girl gets your attention, hey, do your damnedest, get her into bed.’ He paused, then said, ‘Actually, with me, not that simple. Looking back a couple of years, I’m telling myself, whoa, boy, enough already. I’d gotten married to a woman I always wanted to be married to. Took me twentysome years to do it. When I put a ring on her finger, I figured she was all I’d need – why’n hell would I go chasing some other broad? But, we’re addicts here, you know how it is. I didn’t stop. I slowed down, didn’t stop. I guess – someone told me – that’s what addiction is. You want to stop, and you don’t stop. It’s not easy. You do it that one last time, and it’s never the last time.’ He was quiet a while then said, ‘Now, my wife’s gone. I can’t tell her I’m sorry’ He stopped, took a breath. ‘I think that’s all I want to say.’

***

The Prisoner’s Wife is available for purchase!

Amazon US | Amazon UK | Goodreads

abouttheauthor

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

Website

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The Silver Wolf by Rob Sinclair @RSinclairAuthor @Bloodhoundbook #blogtour #extract

It’s my absolute pleasure to host a stop on the blog tour for The Silver Wolf by Rob Sinclair today! Many thanks to Sarah Hardy at Bloodhound Books for inviting me. I have an extract to share with you but first, here’s what the book is all about.

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Author : Rob Sinclair
Title : The Silver Wolf
Series : James Ryker #3
Pages : 473
Publisher : Bloodhound Books
Publication date : November 17, 2017

aboutthebook

Still tormented by the disappearance of his wife, ex-intelligence agent James Ryker sets out on a personal mission of revenge, prepared to go to any lengths in search of the truth.

The trail takes him from the crystal waters of Mexico’s Caribbean coast, back to a place he thought he would never set foot again – his country of birth, England. But there he discovers more than even he bargained for. Stumbling across a terrorist attack targeted against his old employers – the secretive Joint Intelligence Agency -the faint clues to many events in his recent past are all seemingly linked to one mysterious character; The Silver Wolf.

But just who is the Silver Wolf, and why is he hell bent on punishing not just Ryker, but his closest allies at the JIA too?

Has Ryker finally met his match?

extract

CHAPTER 1

Lake Maggiore, Italy

Looking out over the edge of the pool to the serenity of the crystal lake  below, he could almost believe he was in paradise. Thomas Maddison would defy anyone to spend just a few days at Villa Mariangela and not feel the same way. But underneath the glitz of the lavish setting, the place was far from idyllic, he knew. Scratch the blissful surface, and lies, deceit and blood would ooze from the many cracks and warts.

Maddison pushed the forbidding thoughts aside and swam across the infinity pool to the other side, turned, then went more slowly back the other way. The water seemed to suspend unnaturally in the air, as though conjoined with the glistening blue of the lake below. He grabbed the disguised edge at the far end where the water teasingly cascaded over and down into a small gully, and then he stopped and took a minute to look out across the view as the warm morning sun beat down on his face.

The villa behind him, on the southern tip of the long, winding lake, faced north. Although he couldn’t see from his high perch, around the twists and bends in front of him the lake wound its way between the spectacular hills of Lombardy, at the northernmost points of Italy, and on into the alpine scenery of southern Switzerland. Villa Mariangela was not just a beautiful and extravagant home; it was a location of strategic importance for Maddison’s employer.

Employer? Was that the right word? It was the simplest way to describe their relationship, Maddison reckoned, though it didn’t really explain much.

‘Maddison,’ came a man’s voice.

Maddison spun around in the water, still grasping the edge with one hand as his legs bobbed up and down below. He spotted Clyde approaching the pool. Clyde Montana. The name didn’t fit the man at all. To Maddison the name brought with it the image of a nineteenth-century cowboy in the American Old West. Chiselled jaw and stubble and a squint that Clint Eastwood would be proud of. This Clyde, however, was a product of some of England’s most expensive educational institutions, which was evident in his stiff manner and old world accent. He was tall, wiry, with closely cropped hair. Always clean-shaven. Always sporting designer and smart casual garb. He basically looked like a rich and weedy geek, inoffensive, and not in the least bit dangerous.

How looks can be deceptive.

‘He wants to see you,’ Clyde said.

He. Names weren’t needed. Not where he was concerned.

‘Okay, give me five minutes.’

‘He’s in the guest house.’

Clyde turned and walked off without further elaboration. Maddison let go of the edge and swam back across to the other side of the pool where he pulled himself out. The morning air sent a wave of goose pimples over his wet, tanned brown skin and he grabbed a towel from the pool edge and wrapped it around himself. In front of him was the main villa. The modern pool was a stark contrast to the classical structure which looked like a miniature Renaissance palace. The villa’s grounds, rising into the hills behind the lake, extended to over three acres. As well as the main villa, whose history stretched back over three hundred years, there were two other separate living spaces within the grounds: the building Clyde had referred to as the guest house – originally a boat house – and the more modern, glass-rich pool house, which Maddison headed into to get changed.

He slicked back his dark brown hair as he went to the downstairs bathroom then, as he stared at his pile of clothes, he ran his fingers through his speckled grey stubble. No, he’d shave tomorrow. He dressed in the pair of khaki trousers and cotton shirt. He slipped on his loafers then headed back out into the sunshine, across the deep green lawns, through the glorious floral gardens, and finally down the twisting stone steps that led to the lake edge and the guest house.

As he was descending, Maddison saw one of the housekeepers climbing the steps from the bottom, clutching a bundle of white bedsheets. Adriana. She was twenty-three and from one of the local villages. Maddison had taken quite a liking to her since she’d joined the villa’s extensive domestic crew some three months previously. He liked that she seemed disinterested in the money and the glamour of the host’s lifestyle. He’d seen her spurn advances from some of the men – champagne and rides in fast boats and faster cars didn’t seem to appeal to her. He was determined to find out what did.

Buon giorno,’ Adriana said as they reached each other and both of them stopped.

Buon giorno.’ Maddison gave her a warm smile.

‘Another early morning swim,’ Adriana said in her thickly accented English.

‘Best way to start the day,’ Maddison said. Adriana continued past him. ‘You should join me sometime.’

She glanced around then looked away coyly. ‘Maybe another time.’

‘I look forward to it. You have a good day, Adriana.’

‘You too. Ciao.

She carried on up the steps and Maddison watched her for a moment before he turned his focus back to the guesthouse. The once-basic wooden structure, which hovered over the edge of the lake, had been converted some ten years earlier when it became too small for its original purpose. Which Maddison understood to mean it wasn’t big enough to house the gleaming yacht which was moored alongside it on the purpose built jetty.

The guesthouse was used frequently, but Maddison hadn’t realised anyone had been staying there the previous night. Or maybe Adriana was just getting it ready for someone to stay that night? Maddison felt a fleeting pinch of suspicion as he made his way to the front door, but it quickly disappeared. There was no reason to suspect his cover had been blown after all this time.

He stopped at the front door and reached out to knock, but before his knuckle could rap on the thick wood door, it was opened from the inside. Dean, a squat and heavily muscled man, would have looked out of place in any other job but security.

‘Morning,’ Maddison said.

‘He’s in the kitchen.’

Maddison carried on through into the expansive open-plan space. There was nothing much classical in the room. Everything was sleek, modern and pricey.

Sure enough his illustrious boss, Draper, was there, standing by the kitchen counter with his back to Maddison.

‘You wanted to see me?’ Maddison said.

Draper spun around and gave a half smile. He ran a hand through his long silvery slicked-back hair. Together with his sparkling blue eyes, wide toothy smile and prominent cheekbones, he had a face that drew people in. Perhaps a contrast to his plain and casual attire – a pair of scraggy deck shorts, sandals and blue V-neck jumper.

‘Damn thing’s broken.’ Draper turned his attention back to the pristine looking coffee machine and banged it hard on the top. It rattled and gurgled to life. He huffed. ‘Can you believe that? Five thousand Euros this thing cost me. It should be faultless, yet it still responds best to a heavy hand.’

Maddison swallowed hard at Draper’s offish tone, the first glimmer of doubt fighting to take hold in his mind. He pushed it away.

‘You want one?’ Draper asked.

‘Yeah. An espresso please.’

‘Here, you come over and do it.’

Draper grabbed his drink and moved past. Maddison took a small cup from the counter and placed a black capsule into the top of the machine. He looked around the room as the machine gurgled away. No sign of Clyde or anyone else. Maddison and Draper were alone.

‘Everything still on for this afternoon?’ Maddison asked.

‘What? Oh, yeah, that. It is. But I’m not sure I’ll need you to come with me.’

‘Really?’ Maddison pulled the small cup out from under the machine’s nozzle. He turned to face Draper who was leaning against a cabinet by the edge of the kitchen area, his head just a couple of inches from the wooden beam above him. At six feet four, he was several inches taller than Maddison.

‘That’s what I needed to speak to you about,’ Draper said. ‘Come and take a seat. There’s someone I need you to meet.’

Maddison raised an eyebrow but said nothing. He sipped the treacly liquid in his cup and enjoyed the moment as the strong vapour worked through his sinuses. He moved out of the kitchen and across to the oak dining table where he sat down on one of the eight chairs.

Moments later, he heard footsteps coming from the hallway and he turned to see an unfamiliar man walking into the room.

At least, Maddison’s first impression was that the man was unfamiliar, but as he stared into his uncaring, knowing eyes, a distant memory tugged away in his mind.

Or was it simple déjà vu?

‘So who’s this?’ Maddison asked, not bothering to hide his agitation. He kept his eyes on the new arrival as he placed his espresso cup down onto the table.

‘This is your replacement,’ Draper said, looking at the man, who simply smirked. The man came up to Draper’s side, both of them remaining a few feet away from Maddison. Maddison said nothing to the statement, despite all of the thoughts that suddenly ballooned in his mind. Draper didn’t need to explain further. Maddison understood what was happening. What his confused mind couldn’t understand was why.

Had Draper found out?

As Maddison continued to stare at Draper and the man, almost not daring to look away, he heard a creak somewhere behind him. Another person, coming out of the lounge?

So this was how it was going to end. A stab in the back.

Maddison knew in that moment that, for whatever reason, the game was finally over. There was no need to play along anymore. The best course of action was for him to leap up, tackle the man behind him – was it Clyde? – and take whatever weapon he was carrying. Then Maddison would launch himself at Draper and the new arrival. After that, he would attack any other man, woman or beast that got in his way as he made his escape from the secured compound.

He knew the best exit route. Which vehicle to take. Which direction to head. It wasn’t as though he hadn’t planned for this moment.

But Maddison did none of those things. He couldn’t. No matter how much his brain willed him to jump up from the seat and begin the counter-assault, his body felt disconnected. The room was swirling in front of him. Sweat droplets were quickly forming on his head. He felt nauseous and plonked his elbow down onto the table to try to keep from falling off the chair. He stole his eyes from Draper and glanced down to the small cup on the table.

A second later, a leather-gloved hand whipped in front of him from behind, and thrust a metal tent peg into Maddison’s hand. He shouted out in pain as a spatter of blood squirted out onto his face. Another gloved hand came forward, clutching a hammer. The head of the tool was slammed down onto the hooked top of the peg, over and over, purposeful strikes that drove the metal further and further through Maddison’s hand and securing it firmly to the oak table below. Maddison’s hand, arm, his whole body was now shaking in agony.

‘It’s a muscle relaxant,’ Draper said, coming forward toward Maddison, sounding unmoved. ‘Clever, isn’t it? You can’t move a thing right now. But the pain? The pain is still there, raw and strong.’

‘What is this?’ Maddison tried to shout out, but his words were slurred, his tongue and his jaw barely moving.

‘What is this!’ the man standing by Draper mocked, deliberately slurring his speech to the point of incomprehension.

Draper gave the man a heartless look before turning his attention back to Maddison.

‘Sorry about him,’ Draper said. ‘He’s not like you and me. A bit rough around the edges, you could say. I have to admit, there’s a lot about him that I’m not so in tune with. Me and you… we were similar. I think that’s why we got along so easily.’

The man grated his teeth, and Maddison could see he’d taken real offence at Draper’s words. Not that it helped Maddison’s position.

The same sense of déjà vu flashed in Maddison’s mind again.

‘I know you,’ Maddison tried his best to say.

The man narrowed his eyes. Then he moved forward, anger on his face, though Maddison wasn’t sure why. He headed past Maddison, then a second later, came back to his side clutching the hammer and another metal rod.

The two gloved hands from the unseen attacker came around Maddison and grabbed at his free arm, pinning his hand to the table. The man at his side, eyes full of menace, held Maddison’s stare as he put the metal in position.

‘No,’ he said. ‘You don’t know me.’

He brought the hammer down and the metal crunched through flesh and the delicate bones on Maddison’s hand. His body spasmed as pain consumed him, but he let out nothing more than a moan. He wouldn’t give them the satisfaction.

‘You don’t know anything about me,’ the man spat. He brought his snarling face closer to Maddison’s. ‘The problem though is that I know you.’

‘Which, I’m sure by now you realise, means that I know everything you’ve told me about you is a lie,’ Draper said, folding his arms. ‘Whoever you really are, you won’t leave my villa alive. It’s up to you how many pieces we take before you talk.’

Draper moved forward and grabbed hold of one of the metal rods sticking out from Maddison’s hands. He yanked it back and forth, a squelching sound coming from the stricken hand as the flesh was pushed, pulled and torn. Maddison grimaced and shook in his chair, trying all the tricks he’d been taught many years earlier for channelling away and ignoring the pain.

They didn’t work. Not when faced with agony like this.

Draper crouched down. His face was placid, no hint of anger, and when he spoke it was with warmth and comfort that made Maddison, for all his strength and determination, seriously question just what this man was capable of.

‘It’s time for you talk now, my friend,’ Draper said. ‘And, one way or another, you can be damn sure you’re going to tell me everything.’

***

😲 Well, I don’t know about you but I need a minute to recover here. Yowza!

If this extract has left you wanting more, you’re in luck as The Silver Wolf is available for purchase right now!

Amazon US | Amazon UK | Goodreads

abouttheauthor

Rob is the author of the critically acclaimed and bestselling Enemy series and James Ryker series of espionage thrillers. His books have sold over half a million copies to date with many reviewers and readers having likened Rob’s work to authors at the very top of the genre, including Lee Child and Vince Flynn.

Rob began writing in 2009 following a promise to his wife, an avid reader, that he could pen a ‘can’t put down’ thriller. He worked for nearly 13 years for a global accounting firm after graduating from The University of Nottingham in 2002, specialising in forensic fraud investigations at both national and international levels. Rob now writes full time.

Originally from the North East of England, Rob has lived and worked in a number of fast paced cities, including New York, and is now settled in the West Midlands with his wife and young sons.

Twitter | Facebook | Website

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BLOG BLITZ

Weekly Wrap-Up (November 19)

weekly-wrap-up

This week has been cold. And also, really cold. Winter is here and I’m hating every minute of it. Overall, it wasn’t such a grand week but whatever. I don’t like to whine and complain, and it’s over now anyway. So, moving on. How many books did I read this week?

Well, now. I’m okay with this. 😄

Books I read this week :


Books I bought this week :

Four. Could be better but at least it’s not as bad as last week. That was a disgrace. 😂


ARC’s received via Netgalley :

I’m getting a tad trigger-happy over there and I find myself getting approved for books I’m not expecting to get. Which is great! But also kind of bad. 😂


This week’s book post :

Published by Corvus, coming in January!

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On the blog this past week :

Things were a wee crazy but I made it. Got everything posted and on time and then I had a nap. 😄

Monday : Shared my review for Lie to me by J.T. Ellison

Tuesday : Joined the blog tour for Hell to Pay by Rachel Amphlett

Wednesday : Hosted a stop on the blog tour for Snow Light by Danielle Zinn

Thursday : Crazy Thursday! I was on tours for Gone Missing by TJ BreartonThe Puppet Master by Abigail Osborne and The First One To Die by Victoria Jenkins

Friday : Shared an extract for my stop on the tour for Dying Day by Stephen Edger

Saturday : Posted my review for Anything You Do Say by Gillian McAllister

Sunday : Joined the blog tour for Lay Me To Rest by E.A. Clarke


Next week on Novel Deelights :

I’ll be on a few more blog tours next week. I was kind of hoping to be able to squeeze in a review for what I think may just end up my book of the year but my schedule is full. Never really thought I’d say that.

Question of the week : Blog tours? Yay or nay? Not just about your own involvement but also, do you think they make a difference? They seem to be getting a bit of a bad wrap lately so I’m curious to know how you guys feel about them.

Anyway, that’s it! Wishing you all a fabulous week and happy reading! xx