Welcome to my stop on the blog tour for Envy by Amanda Robson! My thanks to Sabah at Avon for the invitation to join. Today, I have an extract to share with you but first, here is what Envy is all about.
| ABOUT THE BOOK |
Erica has always wanted to be exactly like her neighbour, Faye: beautiful, thin, and a mother. But Faye’s life isn’t as perfect as it seems – she has a terrible secret, and slowly but surely, it is threatening to destroy her and everything she holds dear.
When Faye’s daughter Tamsin goes missing after school, the police turn to Erica. But is Erica the only one who has been enviously watching Faye? Or is there another threat hiding in the shadows…?
| EXTRACT |
Tamsin hides, giggling, behind your shapely legs. She looks so vulnerable today, so much in need of my love.
‘Well,’ you say, ‘nice to meet you. Best be going home. Stuff to do. Tea to cook.’
And then you walk away holding Tamsin’s hand. I think Georgia has fallen asleep in the buggy. You are leaning your head towards Tamsin, listening to what she is telling you.
But you don’t deserve to have her to listen to, do you? Two-timing whore, with a high opinion of yourself. Adulterer. Liar. You deserve to lose your children, like my mother lost me.
I close my eyes and that ache engulfs me. The ache I get when I remember the children at school calling my mother a slag. The jeering and bullying, which began on the walk home from school when Tommy Hall hit Geoffrey, spread like wildfire, in the classroom, in the playground.
Intriguing, eh? If this sneak peek has left you wanting more, why not grab yourself a copy of Envy right now!
After graduating, Amanda Robson worked in medical research at The London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine, and at the Poisons Unit at Guy’s Hospital where she became a co-author of a book on cyanide poisoning – a subject which has set her in good stead for writing her dark and twisting novel about love affairs gone wrong. Amanda attended the Faber novel writing course and writes full-time.
It’s a pleasure to welcome you all to my stop on the blog tour for Suddenly Single by Carol Wyer today! My thanks to Ellie at Canelo for the invitation to join! I have an extract to share with you but first, here is what the book is all about.
| ABOUT THE BOOK |
When bestselling romance author Chloe Piper’s marriage implodes a week before Christmas, she flees her cheating ex and the village gossips for the solitude of the newly built Sunny Meadow Farm and the company of her hapless dog, Ronnie.
But Chloe is soon pushed out of her comfort zone. Because with a lively development building crew – headed up by charming Alex – and a larger-than-life neighbour determined to make Chloe’s love life her pet project, Chloe finds herself in a whole new world of chaos…
| EXTRACT |
Faith was the first to comment. ‘Chloe, it’s perfect. So you.’
The kitchen was a blend of contemporary trends of industrial and neutral tones, while holding on to a warm essence. Open shelving created a relaxed atmosphere and the designer Italian stools that stood by a large rustic island would be ideal for casual dining. Mood lighting over the island and task lighting over the kitchen units created a great balance while the natural light that flooded through the huge windows softly illuminated the entire space.
Faith pointed to it. ‘I can picture myself sitting there, glass of wine in hand and snacking on some warm, crusty bread. Ah, bliss!’
‘You’ll definitely come and visit me here in the wilds of Staffordshire, then.’
‘You bet. It has a certain appeal,’ she added, her eye drawn to the figure tapping on the window attempting to attract Thomas’s attention. It was Jack. Thomas stuck up a thumb in acknowledgement and the carpenter departed.
‘They’re all keen to know if you’re happy with it,’ said Thomas.
‘Very,’ replied Chloe, savouring being in her own home.
The island’s pale marble top had a hint of pink that was reflected in pink roses that stood in a light pink flower bag. She hastened towards them breathing in their delicate perfume.
‘The flowers are beautiful. You shouldn’t have bought them.’ Her cheeks had turned the same shade of pink as the petals. Thomas merely smiled a response, his attention on Ronnie, who scuttled about the kitchen checking every corner and sniffing the length of every skirting board.
‘Is this the lounge?’ asked Faith, wandering towards the wooden door at the far end of the kitchen. She opened it and emitted a squeal of delight. ‘A whopper of a log burner, and it’s alight! It’s gorgeous. How toasty! Ooh, lovely huge settees. You have good taste, Chloe. These are much nicer than those leather things you had at the old place. Okay, forget the island and the crusty bread. I’m thinking more of snuggling up in front of this with a glass of mulled wine.’
The smile on Thomas’s face broadened. He turned towards Chloe. ’Couldn’t have you coming into a chilly house, could we? I got my lad, Alex, to fetch up some wood for you. We stacked it around the back of the house and you should have enough to last you over Christmas.’
‘I really don’t know what to say. You’ve been amazing. I’m sure you’ve done more than you ought to have for me. You’ve been here to take delivery of my furniture, bought me light shades, sorted out the television aerial man, advised me on materials and design and held my hand during the whole process.’
‘We all need a little hand-holding from time to time. The lads and I work on developments all the time. It’s our business and it’s easier for us to find those little necessary bits and pieces, like toilet roll holders and outside lamps or doorstops, than for you to mess about. We only help out the clients we like though,’ he added with a wink. ‘Now, can I ask you a favour?’ He put his large hand into his coat pocket and extracted a copy of a book.
‘My missus would love you to sign this.’
Chloe looked at the cover and gasped. ‘How did you find out? I thought I was anonymous here. No one is supposed to know I wrote it. I wanted to keep it quiet.’
Thomas tapped the side of his nose. ‘I like to find out as much as possible about the folk who buy my houses and I have a particular fondness for this development. This is going to be my last project ever before I retire and I want it to be special with only the “right” people living here. I’ve turned down many folks who have put in offers on these properties. I’m only accepting those from people I feel ought to be here. Call me old. Call me stupid, or quirky, but that’s what I’ve decided to do. It’s taken four years of planning and arguing with authorities to get it this far. I designed all the houses myself so I want them to be cared for and loved as much as I care about them. Don’t worry. I won’t spill the beans about you. An old pal in Appletree told me about you. He heard a rumour. You will sign the book, won’t you? Patricia loved it. She can’t wait for your next one.’
Faith, who had returned from the lounge, pricked up her ears. ‘You’d better get that laptop out pretty quickly. You have fans. And they can’t get enough of your naughty vicar stories. What a great place to write. It’s so peaceful and calm. I expect many more bonkbuster novels from you, Chloe Piper. I’m depending on you to keep me in designer clothes and expensive holidays.’
‘This is my agent, PR guru, right-hand woman and best friend, Faith Hopkins,’ said Chloe, spotting Thomas’s eyebrows lifting in interest. He held out a hand. Faith obliged and shook it.
‘You in publishing?’
‘I am and Chloe is my star client.’
Chloe took the copy of Spank Me Harder, Vicar together with the pen Thomas offered, and wrote a brief message. He read it, smiled, and thanked her.
‘Patricia will be stoked and the ladies at her book club are going to be very jealous she has a signed copy. Thank you. By the way, the flowers aren’t from me. They’re from an anonymous admirer,’ he said, tapping the side of his nose with a broad forefinger again. He opened the fridge and pulled out a bottle of champagne which he handed over. ‘But this is. From the first time I met you I knew you were the right person to buy Sunny Meadow Barn. I hope you’ll be very happy here, Chloe. Now I’m going to leave you and your lovely friend to settle in and if there’s anything you need, just come over to the big barn. The lads will be there until four o’clock.’
Chloe thanked the man again and watched as he plodded carefully around the house and onto the gravel drive towards the as yet unfinished outbuildings.
Has this extract piqued your interest? Do you want read more? Then you’re in luck, because Suddenly Single is available to buy!
As a child Carol Wyer was always moving, and relied on humour to fit in at new schools. A funny short story won her popularity, planting the seed of becoming a writer. Her career spans dry cleaning, running a language teaching company, and boxercise coaching. Now writing full-time, Carol has several books published and journalism in many magazines.
Carol won The People’s Book Prize Award for non-fiction (2015), and can sometimes be found performing her stand-up comedy routine Laugh While You Still Have Teeth.
It’s a real pleasure to welcome author N.M. Brown to the blog today to talk about what inspired him to write his latest book, Toys in the Dust! I’ll also be sharing a teaser but first, let’s see what his new book is all about.
| ABOUT THE BOOK |
Two seven-year-old girls, Tina and Suzy, are playing in a dusty creek when a stranger appears and strikes up a conversation. He is sad that he doesn’t have a doll to play with like the girls do, so Suzy hurries home to fetch one. When she returns, Suzy discovers both Tina and the stranger have vanished.
A short while later, traffic officer Leighton Jones, who is fighting his own demons, is driving home from the scene of a near-fatal accident. When Leighton sees a young girl race out in front of his car and vanish into the countryside, he reports the sighting. Unfortunately, his superiors, who are increasingly concerned about Leighton’s mental health, doubt the child exists.
But after Tina’s mother confirms her daughter’s disappearance, Leighton risks his job by pursuing his own investigation of the case.
Meanwhile, in the Californian countryside, a child killer is relentlessly searching for the one who got away.
Leighton has his work cut out. But can he prove his sanity and find Tina before the stranger does?
The loss had broken him; as a man and a husband he had failed. His wife had drifted out of existence, and he felt that he had allowed it to happen. This left his daughter without a mother, and stuck with a dysfunctional father. And yet this single fact – his sole responsibility – made it necessary for him to somehow make things okay for Annie. If it had been his fault that things were bad, it was also his duty to put things right. That was his only means of redemption. Now, in the absence of anyone else to share the roles, Leighton stared through his windshield and figured he would have to commit to learning how to braid hair and paint nails, and make it through.
It was then, when Leighton was caught up in his critique of his inadequate parenting that it happened.
The figure of what appeared to be a child, if that was what the apparition was, burst suddenly out of the tall grass at the side of the road and ran blindly across the road in front of his car. In that instant, Leighton saw nothing more than a momentary orange blur in the shape of a child – there for a moment, then gone. In instinctive response, he slammed on the brakes of his car. It skidded to a squealing halt on the hot road surface. The momentum threw him forward, his seatbelt digging painfully into one shoulder. Leighton let out a deep sigh, and his hands, still fastened on the wheel, began to tremble.
‘Jesus,’ he muttered.
Having managed to coax one hand off the wheel, Leighton switched on his hazard lights, and unclipped his seatbelt. He then opened the door and climbed out. The road and the surrounding area were so quiet he could hear the faint hushing sound of the restless surf, punctuated by the chirrup of bugs in the grass. Wandering around the car, Leighton peered into the long grass, door handle-high, at the side of his car. It had been less than a minute since the child had slipped into the grass, yet the area appeared undisturbed. Leighton took a cautious step into the dusty wilderness and called out across the parched landscape.
‘Hey, kid, are you okay? Is someone with you?’ Leighton’s deep voice carried on the warm air.
He waited for a moment, standing on the road, listening intently and staring out into the panorama of grass and trees stretching toward the rocky distant hills.
‘Can you hear me, kid?’ he yelled, and held his hand up to shield his eyes from the low afternoon sun.
There was no answer other than the slow ripple of the needle grass and the relentless creak and whirr of the hidden oblivious insects. Staring into the wilderness, Leighton wondered for a moment if he had somehow imagined the child.
| GUEST POST |
Toys in the Dust – inspiration
Whilst researching the other Leighton Jones novels – both of which involve people disappearing, I spent much of my time listening to true crime podcasts. These programmes covered every situation from recent abductions to historical cold cases, many of which were utterly captivating.
Listening to programmes such as Crawlspace or Generation Why, pulls me into a rabbit hole of theories, suspects and secrets. It is perhaps the greatest possible stimulus for Crime writers.
Occasionally, I would encounter cases that were hard to shake off. There were a couple that were particularly haunting for me. The first involved one of the most famous cold case in the United States, involving a young girl who was abducted from outside her home on a snowy afternoon.
The second case involved a group of three children who vanished from an Australian beach in the late 1960s. At the time of the disappearance kids could wander freely around, but this case shocked the nation and changed the way in which people now parent.
Both these cases seemed to stay with me until I knew that I had to write about a child being abducted, but somehow escaping and turning the tables on her abductor. So partly, the story was driven by my own personal need to make things right – at least in the fictional world.
I also wanted to write a paired down story, which revealed a less experienced cop stumbling through things personally and professionally.
Finally, much as my first novel The Girl on the Bus is full of hidden references to serial killers (Eddie G’s diner at the start is named after Ed Gein – the real life Norman Bates, etc) in Toys in the Dust there are numerous fairytale elements, but I’ll let the reader discover them, hopefully.
Thanks so much for stopping by, Norman! I think Leighton is the perfect person to (hopefully) find Tina.
| ABOUT THE AUTHOR |
Norman has enjoyed writing for more than two decades. He has always considered a combination of decent fiction and good coffee as providing the best way to unwind and slip out of ordinary life for a while.
Having grown up Central Scotland, he studied English at Stirling University, where he began penning poetry, drama scripts and short stories. However, his real commitment to writing resulted from spending a snowy winter attending a series of fireside writing workshops in Perth.
More recently, Norman’s love of crime fiction led him to create the weary detective Leighton Jones. Having based his debut novel around this character, Norman felt so intrigued by him that he decided to give Jones at least two more outings.
Aside from his family, Norman’s other passion is cooking, which may explain why culinary elements always seem to creep out of his kitchen and into his stories.
Welcome to my stop on the blog tour for Mama’s Gone by Leopold Borstinksi. My thanks to Emma Welton at damppebbles tours for the invitation to join. Today, author Leopold Borstinksi visits my blog to talk about which book he wishes he’d written and why. But first, here is what his own book is all about!
| ABOUT THE BOOK |
When the children grow up, the parents must die.
California gang leader Mary Lou has built a criminal empire while her adult children are desperate for their mother’s attention and love.
As her mental faculties wane, Alice and Frank Jr must acknowledge their mother is not the woman she once was and that they need to step up and take the helm, despite the stark differences between them.
But their sibling rivalry blinds both of them to their weaknesses which threatens the family when the Russian mob moves into the state. How can they fend off those attacks while fighting to decide who will lead the family now their dear Mama’s gone?
For reasons I am not able to express, I was asked recently what book I wish had written and the honest answer is Nausea by Jean-Paul Sartre because it is a work of total genius that changed the way I viewed the world. It is an existentialist work, but four years after I first read it I found out that Sartre had written the slender novel under the influence of mescaline. This explains a lot. But if you ask me which fiction book I most admire then hands down it is The Cold Six Thousand by James Ellroy. Why? Let me tell you…
This was the first Ellroy book I read and his particular prose style amazed me as much as it challenged me. The way that internal monologues sleep through every paragraph and the non-standard approach to language made it a very difficult first hundred pages, but the rewards were immense.
I was introduced to a cast of characters as vast and disparate as you could get. Given the reach of the story – covering the assassination of JFK and pushing toward the next Kennedy death – and the breadth of mob, politician and underworld criminal worlds depicted, it is nothing short of fabulous. At the time, I was a Joe Public book reader, but now I am a writer as well, I have a greater understanding of the complex hurdles Ellroy needed to surmount in order to deliver the book as published.
First of all, of course and I hope this doesn’t count as a spoiler, but we all know that JFK gets killed, so the central premise – will they or won’t they top the president – is null and void as something to generate tension. Anyone who has read The Day of The Jackal knows how hard it is to suspend your disbelief long enough to read a tale about famous historical events.
But I was gripped right up to the end. And there were sequels as well that kept me riveted too. One of the central conceits of the book is to meld real-life people with fictional folk. You wonder the extent to which Ellroy researched the Kennedy clan and those around them. I wanted it all to be true, real, genuine, but I know in my heart of hearts that this is not a documentary or even a dramatisation of actual events. This is fiction and the people with real names are as made up as the other characters.
And yet I still love the book. What’s the best bit about it? It’s size? From memory, my copy weighed in at about 800 pages – it was purchased at a time when an eBook was a typo and not the norm – it was about as thick as the Lord of the Rings, but it was a pure crime novel. Not a furry critter in sight.
Since then, I have devoured almost everything of Ellroy I can lay my hands on, but the Six Thousand remains my favourite. Perhaps because it was my first, but definitely because it is a juicy steak of a book. Oh and I lied: I do wish I’d written it, but I wanted to make myself seem clever in the opening paragraph.
| ABOUT THE AUTHOR |
Leopold Borstinski is an independent author whose past careers have included financial journalism, business management of financial software companies, consulting and product sales and marketing, as well as teaching.
There is nothing he likes better so he does as much nothing as he possibly can. He has travelled extensively in Europe and the US and has visited Asia on several occasions. Leopold holds a Philosophy degree and tries not to drop it too often.
He lives near London and is married with one wife, one child and no pets.
Welcome to my stop on the blog tour for The Rainwatcher by Tatiana de Rosnay. My thanks to Julia Forster at World Editions for the invitation to join. I have an extract to share with you all today but first, let’s find out a bit more about the novel.
| ABOUT THE BOOK |
It is raining non-stop over Paris. The Malegarde family – split between France, London, and the US – is reunited for the first time in years.
When Paul, a famous yet withdrawn arborist, suffers a stroke in the middle of his 70th birthday celebrations, his son Linden is stuck in a city that is undergoing a stunning natural disaster.
As the Seine bursts its banks and floods the streets, the family will have to fight to keep their unity as hidden fears and secrets also begin to rise.
In this profound and intense novel of love and redemption, De Rosnay demonstrates her wealth of skills both as an incredible storyteller and also as a connoisseur of the human soul.
| EXTRACT |
Opening to The Rain Watcher by Tatiana de Rosnay
“It’s been like this for the past two weeks,” says the listless taxi driver. The rain pours down, a silver curtain, hissing, obstructing all daylight. It is only ten o’clock in the morning, but to Linden, it feels like dusk glimmering with wetness. The taxi driver says he wants to move away for good, flee Paris, find the sun, go back to balmy Martinique, where he is from. As the car leaves Charles de Gaulle Airport and edges along the jammed highway and ring road that circles the city, Linden cannot help agreeing with him. The sodden suburbs are dismal, clustered contours of cubic volumes bedecked with garish neon billboards flickering in the drizzle. He asks the driver to turn on the radio, and the man comments upon his perfect French, “for an American.” Linden grins. This happens every time he returns to Paris. He replies he’s Franco-American, born in France, French father, American mother, he speaks both languages fluently, with no accent at all. How about that, eh? The driver chortles, fumbles with the radio, well, monsieur certainly looks like an American, doesn’t he, tall, athletic, jeans, sneakers, not like those Parisians with their fancy ties and suits.
The news is all about the Seine. Linden listens while squeaky windshield wipers thrust away rivulets in a never-ending battle. The river has been rising for five days now, since January 15, lapping around the Zouave’s ankles. The huge stone statue of a colonial soldier situated just below the pont de l’Alma is, Linden knows, the popular indicator of the river’s level. In 1910, during the major overflows that inundated the city, the water had crept all the way up to the Zouave’s shoulders. The driver exhales, there’s nothing to be done to prevent a river from flooding, no use fighting nature. Men need to stop tampering with nature; all this is her way of lashing back. As the car inches along sluggish circulation, unrelenting rain pounding on the car roof, Linden is reminded of the email the hotel sent him on Tuesday.
Dear Mr. Malegarde,
We are looking forward to your arrival and stay with us as from Friday, January 19th, at noon, until Sunday, January 21, in the evening (with a late checkout, as requested). However, the traffic situation in Paris might be problematic due to the level of the river Seine. Fortunately, the Chatterton Hotel, situated in the fourteenth arrondissement, is not located in an area liable to inundations, and therefore will not be concerned by the inconvenience. For the moment, the prefecture informs us there is nothing to worry about, but our policy is to update our guests. Please let us know if you need any assistance. Kind regards.
Linden read it at the airport on his way from LA to New York, where he was booked to photograph a British actress for Vanity Fair. He forwarded the message to his sister, Tilia, in London, and to his mother, Lauren, in the Drôme valley, who were to join him in Paris that Friday. Linden had not included Paul in the email because his father only appreciated letters and postcards, not emails. His sister’s answer, which he received when he landed hours later at JFK, made him chuckle.
Floodings?!What?! Again? Don’t you remember there was already a scaryflood in Paris last November? And what about the one in June2016? It took us years to organize this bloody weekend, andnow this?! She signed off with a series of scowling emoticons.
Later, his mother replied to both of them: Willcome by boat if we have to, dragging your father away fromhis trees! To at last be together! No way will we cancel thisfamily gathering! See you on Friday, my loves!
The Malegarde family was meeting in Paris to celebrate Paul’s seventieth birthday, as well as Lauren and Paul’s fortieth wedding anniversary.
Linden had not given the hotel’s warning another thought. When he left New York for Paris on Thursday evening, he felt weary. It had been two full days, and before that, weeks of hard work around the globe. He would have preferred to fly back home to San Francisco, to Elizabeth Street, to Sacha and the cats. He had not seen much of Sacha, nor the cats, in the past month. Rachel Yellan, his dynamic agent, had landed him one job after the other, a dizzying swirl from city to city that left him depleted and longing for a break. The narrow blue house in Noe Valley and its cherished inhabitants would have to wait until this special family event was over.
“Just the four of us,” his mother had said, all those months ago, when she had booked hotel and restaurant. Was he looking forward to this? he wondered as the plane took off. They had not often been together, just the four of them, since his teenage years at Sévral, where he grew up, and more so, since he had left Vénozan, his father’s familial domain, in 1997, at nearly sixteen. He saw his parents once or twice a year, and his sister whenever he went to London, which was frequently. Why did “just the four of us” sound both so cozy and ominous?
On the flight to Paris, Linden read Le Figaro and realized with a jab of apprehension that the situation described by the hotel was, in fact, disquieting. The Seine had already flooded in late November, as Tilia pointed out, after a wet summer and autumn, and previously, in June 2016. Parisians had kept a wary eye on the Zouave, and the little waves lapping up his shins. Fortunately, the flow had stopped increasing. Le Figaro explained that thanks to modern technology, one could predict the river’s engorgement three days ahead, which left ample time for evacuating. But the actual problem was the torrential rain, which had not lessened. The river was on the rise again, and threateningly fast…
If this extract and Tatiana de Rosnay’s beautiful writing has left you wanting more, then why not buy yourself a copy of The Rain Watcher!
Tatiana de Rosnay, of English, French, and Russian descent, was born in 1961, in Neuilly-sur-Seine, and raised in Boston and Paris.
After studying literature in England at the University of East Anglia, Tatiana worked in Paris as a reporter for Vanity Fair, Psychologies Magazine, and ELLE.
She has published twelve novels in French and three in English including New York Times bestseller Sarah’s Key, which sold over eleven million copies worldwide, and was made into a film starring Kristin Scott Thomas in 2010.
Her books have been published in 42 countries and in 2011 she was listed by Le Figaro as the fifth most-read French author worldwide.
Welcome to my stop on the blog tour for Beton Rouge by Simone Buchholz! My thanks to Anne Cater for the invitation to join! Today, I have an extract to share with you from this next instalment in the Chastity Riley series, but first, here is what the book is all about.
| ABOUT THE BOOK |
On a warm September morning, an unconscious man is found in a cage at the entrance to the offices of one of the biggest German newspapers. Closer inspection shows he is a manager of the company, and he’s been tortured. Three days later, another manager appears in similar circumstances.
Chastity Riley and her new colleague Ivo Stepanovic are tasked with uncovering the truth behind the attacks, an investigation that goes far beyond the revenge they first suspect … to the dubious past shared by both victims. Travelling to the south of Germany, they step into the elite world of boarding schools, where secrets are currency, and monsters are bred … monsters who will stop at nothing to protect themselves.
| EXTRACT |
DOG EAT DOG WORLD
The rain creates walls in the night. Falling from the sky, they are like mirrors, reflecting and warping the blue light from the police car. Everything spins.
The street emerges from the darkness and loses itself between the harbour lights, and there – right in the middle, just where it suddenly drops downhill – is where it happened: a cyclist.
She’s lying, twisted, on the asphalt, her strawberry-blonde hair forming a delicate pool around her head. Her pale dress is awash with blood; the blood seems to be flowing from her side, staining the concrete red. There’s a black shoe – some kind of ballet flat – on her right foot and no skin at all on her left. The bike’s lying a few feet away on a grass verge, as if it’s been ditched.
The woman isn’t moving; only her ribcage twitches desperately, as if to rise and fall, but then it doesn’t move at all. Her body is trying to take in air from somewhere.
Two paramedics are leaning over and talking to her, but it doesn’t look as though they’re getting through. It doesn’t look as though anything’s getting through any more. Death is about to give her a ride.
Two police officers are cordoning off the accident site, shadows dancing on their faces. Now and then, a car comes past and drives slowly around her. The people in the cars don’t want to look too closely.
The paramedics do things to their paramedic cases; then they close them, stand up. That must be it, then. So, thinks God, looking industrious, that’s that. He picks up his well-chewed pencil, crosses the cyclist off , and wonders whose life he could play football with next.
I think: I’m not on duty. I’m just on my way to the nearest pub. But as I’m here. ‘Hello,’ I say. What else was I supposed to say?
‘Move along, please,’ says the more solid of the two policemen. He’s pulled his cap right down over his face; raindrops are glittering on his black moustache. The other has his back to me and is on his phone.
‘I certainly can,’ I say, ‘or I can stay and take care of a few things.’ I hold out my hand. ‘Chastity Riley, public prosecutor.’
He takes my hand but doesn’t shake it. I feel as though he’s holding it. Because that’s what you do at times like this, when someone’s just died – because a tiny bit of all of us dies along with them and so everything’s a bit shaky. The big policeman and I seem suddenly involved in a relationship of mutual uncertainty.
‘Dirk Kammann,’ he says. ‘Davidwache Station. My colleague’s on the phone to our CID.’
‘OK,’ I say. ‘OK,’ he says, letting go of my hand. ‘Hit-and-run?’ I ask. ‘Looks like it. She hardly drove over her own belly.’ I nod, he nods; we stop talking but stand side by side a while longer.
When the dark-blue saloon draws up with the CID guys from the Davidwache, I say goodbye and go, but I look back round before turning the corner. There’s a grey veil over the brightly lit scene, and it’s not the rain; for once it’s not even the persistent rain that falls in my head. This isn’t my personal charcoal grey; it’s a universal one.
I call Klatsche and tell him that there’s nothing doing tonight. That I don’t feel like the pub. Then I go home, sit by the window and stare into the night. The moon looks like it feels sick.
If this extract has left you wanting more, you can grab yourself a copy of the ebook right now. The UK paperback is set to be published on February 21st.
Simone Buchholz was born in Hanau in 1972. At university, she studied Philosophy and Literature, worked as a waitress and a columnist, and trained to be a journalist at the prestigious Henri-Nannen-School in Hamburg. In 2016, Simone Buchholz was awarded the Crime Cologne Award, and second place in the German Crime Fiction Prize, for Blue Night, which was number one on the KrimiZEIT Best of Crime List for months.
She lives in Sankt Pauli, in the heart of Hamburg, with her husband and son.
It’s a real pleasure to welcome you all to my stop on the blog tour for In Safe Hands by J.P. Carter. I have an extract to share with you all but first, here is what the book is about.
| ABOUT THE BOOK |
When nine children are snatched from a nursery school in South London, their distressed parents have no idea if they will ever see them again. The community in the surrounding area in shock. How could this happen right under their noses? No one in the quiet suburban street saw anything – or at least that’s what they’re saying.
But DCI Anna Tate knows that nothing is impossible, and she also knows that time is quickly running out. It’s unclear if the kidnappers are desperate for money or set on revenge, but the ransom is going up by £1million daily. And they know that one little boy in particular is fighting for his life.
It’s one of the most disturbing cases DCI Anna Tate has ever worked on – not only because nine children are being held hostage, but because she’s pretty sure that someone close to them is lying…
| EXTRACT |
Anna was still staring at the photo half a minute later when her office door was thrust open and Detective Inspector Max Walker came rushing in. His face was pinched and tense and his bald head was shiny with perspiration.
He held up a sheet of paper and said, ‘We’ve got a live one, guv. Call just came in and it sounds pretty serious.’
Anna was at once alert. Even though he was still in his early thirties, Walker was one of the most experienced members of her team, and he was not prone to exaggeration.
‘There’s an ongoing incident at a nursery school in Peabody Street, Rotherhithe,’ he said. ‘Three men with guns entered the place and locked the all-female staff in a storeroom. There are four of them and one has been badly beaten.’
Anna jumped to her feet.
‘Who called it in?’
‘One of the women from inside the room. She used a phone the men didn’t know they had.’
‘Jesus. If it’s a nursery then there must be children.’
Walker nodded. ‘There are nine kids apparently, but the staff have no idea what’s happening to them because they were put into another room.’
Anna felt her chest contract as the adrenalin fizzed through her veins.
‘Have shots been fired?’ she asked.
Walker shook his head. ‘Not so far.’
‘Thank God for that.’ She grabbed her jacket from the back of her chair. ‘We’d better get over there fast.’
Minutes later they were in an unmarked pool car that was among dozens of police vehicles from all over South London converging on the Peabody Nursery School in Rotherhithe. Walker was driving while Anna concentrated on the constant stream of updates over the radio.
Yikes! If this extract has left you wanting more, In Safe Hands is now available to buy!
J. P. Carter is the pseudonym of a bestselling author who has also written sixteen books under the names Jaime and James Raven.
Before becoming a full-time writer he spent a career in journalism as a newspaper reporter and television producer. He was, for a number of years, director of a major UK news division and co-owned a TV production company. He now splits his time between homes in Hampshire and Spain with his wife. (
It’s a real pleasure to welcome you all to my stop on the blog tour for The Liar’s Girl by Catherine Ryan Howard. My thanks to Anne Cater for the opportunity to join. I’m sharing an extract with you today but first, here is what the novel is about!
| ABOUT THE BOOK |
Her first love confessed to five murders.
The truth was so much worse.
Will Hurley, Dublin’s notorious Canal Killer, is in prison, ten years into a life sentence.
His ex-girlfriend, Alison, has built a new life abroad, putting her shattered past behind her.
Then the copycat killings start. Will holds the key to unlocking these crimes, but he’ll only talk to Alison. Can the killer be stopped before there’s another senseless murder? And after all these years, can Alison face the past – and the man – she’s worked so hard to forget?
| EXTRACT |
It’s 4.17 a.m. on Saturday when Jen comes to on a battered couch in a house somewhere in Rathmines, one of those red-brick terraces that’s been divided into flats, let out to students and left to rot.
He watches as her face betrays her confusion, but she’s quick to cover it up. How much does she remember? Perhaps the gang leaving the club on Harcourt Street, one behind the other. Pushing their way through the sweaty, drunken crowds, hands gripping the backs of dresses and tugging on the tails of shirts. Maybe she remembers her friend Michelle clutching some guy’s arm at the end of it, calling out to her. Saying they were moving on to some guy’s party, that they could walk there.
‘Whose party?’ he’d heard her ask. ‘Jack’s!’ came the shouted answer. It was unclear whether or not Jen knew Jack, but she followed them anyway.
Now, she’s sitting – slumped – on a sofa in a dark room filled with faces she probably doesn’t recognise. The thin straps of her shimmery black dress stand out against her pale, freckled skin and the make-up around her eyes is smudged and messy. Her lids look heavy.
Her head lolls slightly to one side.
Someone swears loudly and flicks a switch, filling the room with harsh, burning light.
Jen squints, then lifts her head until her eyes reach a single bare, dusty bulb that hangs from the ceiling. Back down to the floor in front of her. A guy is crawling around on all fours, searching for something. She frowns at him.
This place is disgusting. The carpet is old and stained. There are broken bits of crisps, hairs and cigarette ash nestled deep in its pile. It hasn’t been laid. Instead, the floor is covered with large, loose sections of carpet, ragged and frayed at the edges, with patches of dusty bare floor showing in between. The couch faces a fireplace that’s been blocked off with chipboard, while an area of green paint on the otherwise magnolia chimney breast marks where a mantelpiece once stood. Mismatched chairs – white patio, folding camping accessory, ripped beanbag – are arranged in front of it. Three guys sit in them, passing around a joint.
Another, smaller couch is to Jen’s left. That’s where he sits.
The air is thick with smoke and the only window has no curtains or blinds. The bare glass is dripping with tributaries of condensation.
He can’t wait to leave.
Jen is growing uncomfortable. Her brow is furrowed. He watches as she clasps her hands between her thighs and hunches her shoulders. She shifts her weight on the couch. Her gaze fixes on each of the three smokers in turn, studying their faces. Does she know any of them? She turns her head to take in the rest of the room—
And stops. She’s seen them.
To the right of the fireplace, too big to fit fully into the depression between the chimney breast and the room’s side wall, stands an American-style fridge/freezer, gone yellow-white and stuck haphazardly with a collection of garish magnets.
Jen blinks at it.
A fridge in a living room can’t be that unusual to her. As any student looking for an affordable place to rent in Dublin quickly discovers, fridges free-standing in the middle of living rooms adjacent to tiny kitchens are, apparently, all the rage. But if Jen can find a clearing in the fog in her head, she’ll realise there’s something very familiar about this one.
She’s distracted by the boy sitting next to her. Looks to be her age, nineteen or twenty. He nudges her, asks if she’d like another drink. She doesn’t respond. A moment later he nudges her again and this time she turns towards him.
The boy nods towards the can of beer she’s holding in her right hand, mouths, Another one?
Jen seems surprised to find the beer can there. Tilting it lazily, she says something that sounds like, ‘I haven’t finished this one yet.’
The boy gets up. He’s wearing scuffed suede shoes with frayed laces, jeans, and a blue and white striped shirt, unbuttoned, with a T-shirt underneath. Only a thin slice of the T-shirt is visible, but it seems the design on it is a famous movie poster. Black, yellow, red. After he leaves, Jen relaxes into the space he’s vacated, sinking down until she can rest the back of her head against a cushion. She closes her eyes—
Opens them up again, suddenly. Pushes palms down flat on the couch, scrambling into an upright position. Stares at the fridge.
This is it.
Her mouth falls open slightly and then the can in her hand drops to the floor, falls over and rolls underneath the couch. Its contents spill out, spread out, making a glug-glug-glug sound as they do. She makes no move to pick it up. She doesn’t seem to realise it’s fallen. Unsteadily, Jen gets to her feet, pausing for a second to catch her balance on towering heels. She takes a step, two, three forward, until she’s within touching distance of the fridge door. There, she stops and shakes her head, as if she can’t believe what she’s seeing.
And who could blame her? Those are her magnets.
The ones her airline pilot mother has been bringing home for her since she was a little girl. A pink Eiffel Tower. A relief of the Grand Canyon. The Sydney Opera House. The Colosseum in Rome. A Hollywood Boulevard star with her name on it.
The magnets that should be clinging to the microwave back in her apartment in Halls, in the kitchen she shares with Michelle. That were there when she left it earlier this evening.
Jen mumbles something incoherent and then she’s moving, stumbling back from the fridge, turning towards the door, hurrying out of the room, leaving behind her coat and bag, which had been underneath her on the couch all this time.
No one pays any attention to her odd departure. The party-goers are all too drunk or too stoned or both, and it is too dark, too late, too early. If anyone notices, they don’t care enough to be interested. He wonders how guilty they’ll feel about this when, in the days to come, they are forced to admit to the Gardaí what little they know.
He counts to ten as slowly as he can stand to before he rises from his seat, collects Jen’s coat and bag and follows her out of the house.
She’ll be headed home. A thirty-minute walk because she’ll never flag down a taxi around here. On deserted, dark streets because this is the quietest hour, that strange one after most of the pub and club patrons have fallen asleep in their beds but before the city’s early- risers have woken up in theirs. And her journey will take her alongside the Grand Canal, where the black water can look level with the street and where there isn’t always a barrier to prevent you from falling in and where the street lights can be few and far between.
He can’t let her go by herself. And he won’t, because he’s a gentleman. A gentleman who doesn’t let young girls walk home alone from parties when they’ve been drinking enough to forget their coat, bag and – he lifts the flap on the little velvet envelope, checks inside – keys, college ID and phone too.
And he wants to make sure Jen knows that. Mr Nice Guy, he calls himself. He hopes she will too.
Surely this extract intrigues you more than enough to go and grab yourself a copy of this one right now! I read it last year, it’s a goodie. Honestly!
CATHERINE RYAN HOWARD was born in Cork, Ireland, in 1982. Prior to writing full-time, Catherine worked as a campsite courier in France and a front desk agent in Walt Disney World, Florida, and most recently was a social media marketer for a major publisher. She is currently studying for a BA in English at Trinity College Dublin. Her debut novel Distress Signals was published by Corvus in 2016 and was shortlisted for the CWA John Creasy (New Blood) Dagger.
Good morning and welcome to my stop on the blog tour for Keep Your Friends Close by June Taylor! My thanks to Emma Welton for the invitation to join! I have an extract to share with you all today but first, here is what this book is all about.
Author : June Taylor
Title : Keep Your Friends Close
Publisher : Killer Reads
Publication date : October 26, 2018
A friend who won’t let you escape.
When Karin is taken on a romantic break by her loving partner Aaron, she can’t wait for him to propose. But her surprise weekend quickly becomes a nightmare from which she may never escape.
Who wants everything you have.
They are staying by the beach at the Midland – a grand hotel where Karin used to work. And where Karin’s dangerous and obsessive ex, whom she has been trying to leave behind for years, is waiting patiently for her to return.
Who won’t stop until your life is in ruins.
Now all of Karin’s darkest secrets are being dragged into the light and her friends are turning against her. When one of them is murdered, Karin begins to realise just how treacherous relationships can be…
‘You sure you’re okay?’
The sound of Aaron’s voice snapped her back into the moment, and Karin realized she had become unbearably hot. Her dress was clinging to her and her scalp felt prickly. ‘Yeah, sorry,’ she said. She lowered the window and stuck her head out, not bothering about what it might do to her hair at this speed. ‘I was just thinking about where we might be going.’
‘You’ll soon see,’ said Aaron, holding her hair down until she came back in again and put the window up. ‘You look amazing tonight, by the way.’
‘Thanks. You don’t look too bad yourself.’
The sharp blast of air seemed to work, and Karin visualized them making plans for the future, getting their first place together. A house with a garden where children could play. A log cabin, and plenty of long grass to run around in and be wild. She would be a good mother. Stay home and spend time with her kids. There would be more than one; an only child was a miserable child. She would wrap them in love and laughter, never abandon or ignore them and definitely never send them away.
And Aaron would make a great father.
But what if he ever did find out? What then? Aaron didn’t deserve to be hurt, not again. His marriage had ended badly. Infidelity, not on his part, followed by a messy divorce.
Karin closed her eyes. When she opened them again she registered they were heading north up the M6, the sign for Morecambe having fleetingly caught her eye. ‘Erm. Are we going to the coast?’ she asked, turning quickly to look at the sign even though she knew it would have disappeared by now.
Aaron didn’t pick up on the panic in her voice. ‘We might be,’ he said, a boyish grin spreading across his face.
But the signs repeatedly said Morecambe. And after a while there it was. Marine Road West. She could see it up ahead, a building of elegant white curves. Of all the places to bring her. Why here? It was her birthday, a simple meal in Leeds would have been perfect. Couldn’t they just go back to Leeds? Couldn’t she suggest that? Was it too late to turn round?
They swung into the car park of The Midland hotel, gleaming white in all its restored Art Deco glory, and Karin felt herself shaking. As beautiful and magnificent as it was, she never intended coming back here.
It stood before her now like a defiant ghost, keeper of memories she didn’t want to revive. She thought she had left all this behind.
What did Karin think she’d left behind forever? What is lurking in her past and will Aaron ever find out? If you want to find out, you can purchase your digital copy of Keep Your Friends Close now! The paperback will be published in January.
June Taylor writes mainly psychological thrillers and YA fiction, as well as plays. In 2011 she almost won the Times/Chicken House Children’s Fiction Competition. The only proof of this is a back-pocket cutting from the Times that she showed to her mum!
She studied French, followed by an MA in Scriptwriting. She has done many jobs from TV promos producer to EFL and French club teacher, as well as volunteer work with Childline and the Refugee Council.
June is on the Board of Script Yorkshire and a big supporter of Leeds Big Bookend. She lives in Leeds and loves to travel to new places.
Good morning and welcome to my stop on the blog tour for Last Train to Helsingør by Heidi Amsinck. My thanks to Anne Cater for the invitation to join.
Last Train to Helsingør is a collection of scandi-noir short stories and today, I have an extract of one of those stories to share with you but first, here is the all-important bookish information.
Author : Heidi Amsinck
Title : Last Train to Helsingør
Pages : 216
Publisher : Muswell Press
Publication date : February, 2018
Copenhagen is a mysterious city where strange and sinister things often happen. Menacing and at times darkly humorous there are echoes of Roald Dahl and Daphne du Maurier in these stories, many of which have been specially commissioned for Radio 4.
From the commuter who bitterly regrets falling asleep on a late-night train in Last Train to Helsingør, to the mushroom hunter prepared to kill to guard her secret in The Chanterelles of Østvig.
Here, the land of ‘hygge’ becomes one of twilight and shadows, as canny antique dealers and property sharks get their comeuppance at the handsof old ladies in Conning Mrs Vinterberg, and ghosts go off-script in The Wailing Girl.
a story from the collection Last Train to Helsingør by Heidi Amsinck
Introducing the story:
A blizzard sweeps across Copenhagen. Warm and secure in the hotel kitchen, Bent spends his night shift as he always does, mostly drunk, mostly asleep – until a peculiar call from the hotel’s penthouse suite disturbs him from his boozy slumbers.
“Bent had finished most of the bottle and was nodding off in the head chef’s chair when the ringing began. He stared at the telephone on the desk in front of him, but the ringing was coming from further away, an old-fashioned sound he had never heard before.
He emerged unsteadily from the cubicle into the gleaming white of the kitchen, scratching his head.
Perhaps it was coming from reception? He knew the night manager had not been able to come in because of the snow.
Whoever it was sounded impatient. As soon as the ringing stopped, it started again.
He went through the corridor with the red carpet gingerly, for the long-dead dignitaries observing him from their frames on the wall made him uncomfortable. He wasn’t supposed to stray from the kitchen.
But the ringing was not coming from reception. The light was turned down low, the room deserted and silent.
Bent pressed his forehead against the door to the street, breathing vodka mist onto the window pane and drawing a face with his finger.
The snow was heavy in the cone of street light. There was no sound but the wind. No cars outside, no buses, no people, just a silvery penumbra rimmed by darkness, the buildings across the square as obscure as a distant forest.
It must have been the wind he heard, whistling around the corners of the hotel. That was the trouble with the drink, you couldn’t trust your ears, your own eyes. He yawned, scratched the stubble on his scalp, and headed back to the kitchen.
On the radio they were talking about the blizzard as though it were the end of the world. Not since 1978, they said, had the country seen snow like it.
He had just settled back down when the ringing started again. He swore under his breath, switched off the radio and listened hard, hands behind his ears: he heard the water gurgling in the ancient pipes, the humming of the giant fridge, the dripping tap in the pastry section, but still he could not place the sound.
A thought came to him. There was bound to be a telephone in the dining room, though who could be ringing it at this time of night, in this weather?
The room was vast, and the empty chairs seemed to glare at him disapprovingly, making him nervous. Snow was trickling down the window panes, drawing strange patterns on the walls, the white tablecloths and the arched ceiling with the artificial sky. Blue light twinkled in the chandeliers, the crystal glasses and the silver, as though the entire room were under water. Bent had to lean over for a while, with his elbows resting on his knees.
In the end, he found the telephone in the pantry, next to the dumbwaiter they no longer used. It was an old-fashioned telephone mounted on the wall with a sign above it saying Penthouse. It began to ring again, urgently, as he stood there looking at it. Bent did not know the hotel had a penthouse.
Hesitantly, he lifted the receiver. ‘Hello?’
The voice on the other end was faint, scratchy and female, barely audible over the yapping dog in the background. It reminded Bent of something, lost in the depths of his memory.
‘I wish to place an order, and make it quick.’”
If this has whet your appetite and you’d like to read more, Last Train to Helsingør is available to buy!
Heidi Amsinck, a writer and journalist born in Copenhagen, spent many years covering Britain for the Danish press, including a spell as London Correspondent for the broadsheet daily Jyllands- Posten. She has written numerous short stories for radio, including the three-story sets Danish Noir, Copenhagen Confidential and Copenhagen Curios, all produced by Sweet Talk for BBC Radio 4, which are included in this collection .
A graduate of the MA in Creative Writing at Birkbeck, University of London, Heidi lives in Surrey. She was previously shortlisted for the VS Pritchett Memorial Prize. Last Train to Helsingor is her first published collection of stories.