Beton Rouge by Simone Buchholz | @OrendaBooks @annecater | #blogtour #extract

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.

Author : Simone Buchholz (trs Rachel Ward)
Title : Beton Rouge
Series : Chastity Riley
Pages : 276
Publisher : Orenda Books
Publication date : February 21, 2019 (paperback)

| 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.’

‘Ah, OK.’

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.

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| ABOUT THE AUTHOR |

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.

In Safe Hands by J.P. Carter | @AvonBooksUK | #blogtour #extract

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.

Author : J.P. Carter
Title : In Safe Hands
Series : DCI Anna Tate #1
Pages : 368
Publisher : Avon
Publication date : January 24, 2019

| 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!

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| ABOUT THE AUTHOR |

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. (

The Liar’s Girl by Catherine Ryan Howard | @cathryanhoward @CorvusBooks @theotherkirsty @annecater | #blogtour #extract

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!

Author : Catherine Ryan Howard
Title : The Liar’s Girl
Pages : 304
Publisher : Corvus
Publication date : January 3, 2019 (paperback)

| 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!

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| ABOUT THE AUTHOR |

 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.

Author links : Twitter

The Taken Girls by G.D. Sanders | @AvonBooksUK | #blogtour #extract #TheTakenGirls

Happy Friday and welcome to my final blog tour of the year! My thanks to Sabah at Avon UK for the invitation to join. Today, I’m sharing with you all an extract from The Taken Girls by G.D. Sanders. First, let’s see what this book is all about!

Author : G.D. Sanders
Title : The Taken Girls
Pages : 335
Publisher : Avon UK
Publication date : December 13, 2018

| ABOUT THE BOOK |

Someone is watching them…

When a missing teenage girl reappears unharmed but pregnant, the case falls to DI Edina Ogborne, the newest recruit of Canterbury Police. But Ed’s already got her hands full with a team who don’t want her, an ex who won’t quit, and terrible guilt over a secret from her past.

As Ed investigates the case, she discovers Canterbury has seen this crime not once, but several times before. And when Ed and her detectives encounter missing historic police files, falsified school records, and Ed’s new lover as a prime suspect, it becomes clear that the system has been corrupted.

Can Ed find the kidnapper behind these depraved crimes before he strikes again? Or has time already run out?

| EXTRACT |

A short woman of about the same age appeared at the man’s shoulder. Her clothes were crumpled and there were streaks of mascara beneath tired eyes, which looked questioningly at the two policewomen.

‘Mrs Naylor, Mr Naylor, I’m Detective Constable Eastham. You may remember I was here last night. This is Detective Sergeant Ogborne. Perhaps we could go somewhere to talk?’

Mr Naylor turned to his wife. ‘I’ll take the officers into the front. Perhaps you could bring the tea through.’

They had barely sat down before Mrs Naylor reappeared with a tray. The detectives both declined the proffered tea and biscuits. Lucy’s parents looked expectantly at Jenny. Ed coughed and spoke.

‘As Jenny said, I’m Detective Sergeant Ed Ogborne. I wasn’t here last night. Let me begin by offering our sympathy for what you must be feeling at this time. There’s nothing we can say to take away the pain and anxiety but we’ll be doing everything we can to find your daughter as quickly as possible and to bring her safely home.’

Mrs Naylor, who had been sitting rigidly in the corner of the sofa with her hands clenched in her lap, could contain herself no longer. Her shoulders sagged. ‘There’s no news then? You haven’t found her? You’ve no clues as to where she is? You don’t know who’s taken our Lucy?’

‘Mrs Naylor, I know it’s difficult but it is early days. We have teams of officers going house to house questioning everybody in the area in case they saw something that might help. We’re here to speak with you and then we’ll talk to the Shaxteds.’

Mr Naylor reached for his wife’s hand and turned towards Ed. ‘What more do you want? We spoke to your colleague last night. We’d rather you were out looking for Lucy.’

Oooh! What happened to Lucy? Will they find her before it’s too late? If you can’t wait to find out, why not grab yourself a copy of The Taken Girls right now!

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| ABOUT THE AUTHOR |

On leaving his academic post, Geoff Sanders switched from writing evidence-based research articles to imagination-based contemporary crime fiction. 

He grew up in Kent and studied at three London colleges to complete bachelor degrees in science and a PhD. He would wind down by playing drums in jazz and blues bands. After a few years in Italy, he embarked on a full-time academic career in London. His submission for a popular science book was shortlisted for the Wellcome Trust Prize. 

Now, writing as G.D. Sanders, he is the author of dark-hearted contemporary crime novels featuring a bright, but impetuous, female detective, DI Ed (Edina) Ogborne and her CID team in Canterbury Kent. His debut, The Taken Girls, is the first in a planned series featuring Ed Ogborne. The Chosen Ones, the second novel in this series, will be published on 27 June 2019. 

Geoff Sanders lives in southwest London. You can follow him on Twitter @GDSandersAuthor.

Keep Your Friends Close by June Taylor @joonLT @damppebbles #blogtour #extract #excerpt #damppebblesblogtours

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.

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Author : June Taylor
Title : Keep Your Friends Close
Pages :
Publisher : Killer Reads
Publication date : October 26, 2018

aboutthebook

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…

extract

‘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.

Not ever.

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.

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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.

Amazon US | Amazon UK | Bookdepository | Kobo | WaterstonesGoodreads

abouttheauthor

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.

Author links : Twitter | Website

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Last Train to Helsingør by Heidi Amsinck @HeidiAmsinck1 @MuswellPress @Mono80 #blogtour #RandomThingsTours #extract #excerpt

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.

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Author : Heidi Amsinck
Title : Last Train to Helsingør
Pages : 216
Publisher : Muswell Press
Publication date : February, 2018

aboutthebook

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.

extract

Room Service,
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.’”

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If this has whet your appetite and you’d like to read more, Last Train to Helsingør is available to buy!

Amazon US | Amazon UK | BookdepositoryKobo | Goodreads

abouttheauthor

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.

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Without Rules by Andrew Field @AFwithoutrules @damppebbles #blogtour #extract #damppebblesblogtours #WithoutRules

Welcome to my stop on the blog tour for Without Rules by Andrew Field! My thanks to Emma at damppebbles blog tours for the invitation to join. I have an extract to share with you today but first, here is what you need to know about Without Rules.

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Author : Andrew Field
Title : Without Rules
Pages : 288
Publisher : Boomslang
Publication date : October 15, 2018

aboutthebook

When a professional hitman turns up at Candy’s World to hide, China Mackie discovers her plan to flee from her abusive father has tragically backfired. A gruesome bloodbath has left four people dead on the streets of a northern city centre on a cold wet Sunday morning. China knows she’s next to die. Unless she is more ruthless than everyone else. She must improvise fast. Seduce her father’s assassin. Plead her case so he helps her escape in a fight to the death where rules don’t matter but the consequences do.

extract

1: China

China ran and she ran and she ran, a lung-busting pace quelled the anxiety inside her. She pushed herself, punished her body and distracted her mind before her guests arrived at Candy’s World. They were already waiting, two wet and cold men huddled outside her front door. China had been running since Karl and Jenny Grant took Rose to room 203 at the Paradise Hills resort. 

“I am coming,” she shouted. 

She removed the chain, undid the door’s deadlocks, dried herself with a towel. Her two unwanted guests bypassed her as if she was invisible. Normally goat boys barely disguised their urge to download on her software. She noticed the stench of excrement overpowered large pans of chilli and bolognese simmering on her Aga. Switchblade Eddie in badly stained jeans was the culprit. He grabbed a bottle of Lynchburg, Tennessee’s finest sour mash, filled a lead crystal tumbler and swigged from the bottle. 

“You want a slug, catch,” said Eddie. 

He chucked the Jack Daniels towards the stranger, who made no attempt to catch. As it smashed the stranger looked at her. She noticed ice cold clear blue eyes. China was big on eyes, the windows to the soul if you looked deep and hard enough.

“Drink is the first and last refuge of the gutless. I’ll take that as an offer of a friendly drink rather than an unwise act of aggression,” said the stranger. “Think you need to go home.” 

“Wanker,” said Eddie. He hurled the tumbler at the floor-to-ceiling window overlooking the resort golf course. The tumbler shattered, the window stayed intact. 

China stepped back. She didn’t want to get hurt in the crossfire. She had seen Switchblade Eddie kick the unconscious further into unconsciousness out of sheer spite too many times. 

“When you’ve finished your tantrum close the door behind you,” said the stranger as he switched on a twenty-four hour news channel. 

All three watched the scrolling newsflash: city centre shooting incident, unconfirmed police reports say four people dead.  

“Four,” the stranger said to himself. “Four, the fourth?”

“Jak, we need to call Chip,” said Eddie, his voice timid after his outburst. 

“You still here?” asked Jak.

“Got to keep him in the picture.”  

“Can’t he watch TV like the rest of us?” 

China glanced at the huge two-way mirrors that dominated the massive open plan ground floor. Unseen CCTV cameras recorded every movement, every word.  

A mobile rang. 

“China, I believe our friends have finally arrived. Entertain them until darkness falls,” said Chip.  

“Shall I fuck them?” 

Jak noticed her when the ‘fuck’ word was aired. He turned from the TV screen, gave her the once over, like she was a second hand motor on its last legs. He wasn’t the first to view her as white trash and would not be the last. She eyed him up too, although she did not want a fuck buddy. China lusted after a white stallion man to ride to her and Rose’s rescue, a hero not intimidated by Chip and his cronies. 

“No need to be so crude, I was thinking of a cup of tea, a slice of cake, maybe brunch,” said Chip. “Ask Eddie and Jak if their Christian DeVeres’ mission was successful?”

“Yes, your man is toast.”

“A total fuck up, Jimmy’s bloody dead. Saw it with my own eyes. Jesus, Chip. A fucking nightmare,” said Switchblade Eddie as he opened a second bottle of Jack D.

“The man lost his head.”  

She heard a snort from Chip. He didn’t give a toss about Jimmy Doyle’s death. Or Christian DeVeres who habitually hung around her kitchen for the last six months as he cooked the books and cleaned dirty money while Rose played, danced and skipped. 

What unpredictable madness had taken place? Chip had lost the plot. He ranted at her. “No more cock ups. Stay put until collection. No calls. No contacts with anyone. Understand China? You’re responsible for them two. Tell them and get their approval.”

She did as she was told on automatic pilot. They nodded imperceptibly.

“I’ve got to go China, fucking them might be a good idea. Stop them killing each other. Better still, let them fight. Save us a lot of bother,” said Chip before he cut the call.  

“You two better behave or I’ll give you both a spanking.” 

They ignored her, the two of them less than a dozen paces apart. Eddie produced a blade, eight inches of Sheffield cold steel, clasped in his right hand. 

Jak looked nonplussed. “You as good at maths as your brother was at riding a motorcycle? What happened to the shooter?” He took off his jacket and black t-shirt, pulled off black boots, unbuttoned 501 black jeans, stood there almost naked in CK boxers. “These will need washing and drying. Did you count? How many bullets left? How fast are you Eddie? Faster than a Black Talon bullet?” 

Eddie backed off towards the door, away from Jak. 

“Chip said stay put.” 

“Open the door,” said Jak. He watched Switchblade Eddie pull on the JD. “Put the knife down, unless your mum wants a two-for-one funeral deal.”

A single loud sob from Eddie broke the tension. 

Bizarrely, China felt sorry for him, if sorrow and hatred were complementary emotions, like anxiety and fear. She didn’t know. She was an emotional cripple herself. Only Rose kept her sane. 

“You’re not having my blade you cunt,” cried Eddie. Jak’s intensity had reduced him to tears. 

She opened the door. He glided out into the cold and the wet. She slammed the door shut. China looked over at Jak to see what happened next. She searched for the words to make the right impression. He took the decision away from her, pointed to his dirty laundry, pulled out a pistol from his jacket. 

“One bullet left. We only had five. He made the right choice. Put my clothes in the wash. Now about this fuck?”

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If this extract has you wanting more, then Without Rules will be available to buy on Monday, October 15th.

Amazon US | Amazon UK | Andrew Field’s Online BookstoreGoodreads

abouttheauthor

Andrew lives, works and plays in Manchester, England, Europe, with his partner, Catherine. He has been a trade journalist in Southampton in his youth. He owned a PR agency in the nineties and early noughties and is now an independent PR, marketing and publishing consultant looking forward to the challenge of becoming the story with the publication of Without Rules.

Author links : Facebook | Twitter | Website

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The Spy’s Gamble by Howard Kaplan @kaplanhow #blogtour #TheSpysGamble #extract #excerpt #LoveBooksGroupTours

Welcome to my stop on the blog tour for The Spy’s Gamble by Howard Kaplan! My thanks to Kelly Lacey at Love Books Group Tours for the invitation to join and for providing me with the extract I’ll be sharing with you, right after I tell you what the book is all about.

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Author : Howard Kaplan
Title : The Spy’s Gamble
Series : The Jerusalem Spy Series
Pages : 262
Publisher : n/a
Publication date : June 8, 2018

aboutthebook

When the Israeli Prime Minister boards a new stealth submarine in Norfolk, Virginia intending a celebratory ride and the sub vanishes, it sets in motion a suspenseful story that intertwines the history of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict with a story of what could be.

Shai Shaham—an Israeli intelligence officer—contacts old friend and adversary Ramzy Awwad—a former PLO intelligence officer and one of the great writers of his people—for help in locating the missing prime minister. But can they trust each other? Can their friendship withstand the turbulent political landscape?

Eli Bardin—an agent who is feeling the strain of being away from his wife and children for so long in the field—is also tasked to contact Ramzy for the help in finding the missing sub. It seems the Russian have great interest in the technology, and he must locate the prime minister…because losing him is a national calamity that threatens to upset a delicate political balance in the most terrifying ways.

extract

Eli kept the increasing toll of being away so much from his family deeply buried, even from himself. Often of late, the anxiety he had not known since high school and his twenties ran through him like a quiet unease so familiar that at first he hardly noticed it. He was not sure if the current free-floating nervousness was worry about his country’s future, a weariness from fighting a battle that these days seemed to carry his country further from peace, or a desire to do something different with his life.

A religious soul, Eli had stopped believing in God for reasons he refused to discuss. It had opened a small but painful rift with his religious father that Eli wanted to close but did not know how because his abandoning faith was a deeply personal and firm decision. When home, he followed tradition and studied Talmud, the vast compendium of ancient Jewish law, though he was an atheist. His attachment to the Jewish people ran through his every fibre, something gleaned from his father’s life and work, which were uniquely inseparable. Eli disliked alcohol and cigarettes, though it didn’t bother him to partake in either if his cover required it. What he loved was challenging himself, particularly parking in impossibly tight spaces and remembering long passages of a target’s words verbatim. He sensed that he made little impression at parties until he started talking with his quiet erudition and natural warmth. He felt calm and comfortable when busy or with people, where he was often funny, absorbed too from his father. He was bothered that recently the anxiousness had begun creeping in when he was alone with his thoughts. Before heading from New York to Washington, he had their file on CIA agent James Collins emailed to him.

Ten years out from Oberlin College, Collins had imagined himself working in legal aid in public housing keeping with Oberlin’s bona fides. A private liberal arts college, students regularly left Oberlin’s small yet sprawling campus in the Ohio countryside for the Peace Corps and other service. CIA recruiters never made the trek to Oberlin, as they did to Yale, but Collins, who had Ivy SAT scores and state college grades but interviewed better than about everyone, was introduced to Langley by his banker father, a Yale alumnus, after Collins, who was inherently restless, tired of working as a legal aid assistant in New Orleans for $35,000 a year. Collins had a great time, however, playing the guitar at small, dingy French Quarter clubs, where he made sure to enjoy the music and the women equally. Any Oberlin student could take classes in the renown Conservatory at the edge of the entrance grass quad. Students too could rent original Picasso, Chagall, Matisse and other such works for five dollars a semester from their art museum to grace dorm walls, a program begun in 1940, that had yet to have a work irrevocably beer-soaked.

Collins smashed through life creating havoc he was eager to apologize profusely for, and then repeat, and had sidestepped the art rental program, afraid he’d be the one to destroy a painting in one of his fits of rage. Instead, he found it wiser, when a freshman, to avail himself of jazz guitar lessons from a Conservatory female junior, for which they both received elective credit. Collins impatiently waited until three-quarters of the semester were over to sleep with her lest the lessons be impacted by his propensity to bolt post seduction. She was a greater virtuoso in the practice room than the bedroom, so he had been in a hurry to return to scouring the campus performance cafes.

“You got to Washington fast,” Collins said, shifting into playing Elliot Smith’s “Miss Misery.”

“Very, because I was already here. Advance team for our prime minister’s christening ride aboard his new nuclear sub.” Eli knew Israel had five German-built submarines, but this purchase was of a new class of American stealth submersibles.

“Bad timing that two of your crewmen were plowed through.”

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If this wee teaser has left you wanting more, then The Spy’s Gamble is available to buy!

Amazon US | Amazon UK | Bookdepository | Goodreads

abouttheauthor

HOWARD KAPLAN, a native of Los Angeles, has lived in Israel and traveled extensively through Lebanon, Syria and Egypt.

At the age of 21, he was sent on a mission into the Soviet Union to smuggle a dissident’s manuscript on microfilm to London. His first trip was a success. On his second trip, he transferred a manuscript to the Dutch Ambassador inside his Moscow embassy. A week later, he was arrested in Khartiv in the Ukraine and interrogated for two days there and then two days in Moscow, before being expelled from the USSR. The KGB had picked him up for meeting dissidents and did not know about the manuscript transfers.

He holds a BA in Middle East History from UC Berkeley and an MA in Philosophy of Education from UCLA. He is the author of five novels.

DAMASCUS COVER is now a major motion picture starring Jonathan Rhys Meyers, Sir John Hurt and Olivia Thirlby.

Author links : Twitter

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Deceive and Defend by Marilyn Cohen de Villiers @MarilynCohendeV @annecater #blogtour #extract #excerpt #SilvermanSaga #RandomThingsTours

Today, it is my pleasure to close down the blog tour for Deceive and Defend by Marilyn Cohen de Villiers. My thanks to Anne Cater for the invite and for the extract I’ll be sharing with you, right after I tell you more about this third instalment in the Silverman Saga series.

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Author : Marilyn Cohen de Villiers
Title : Deceive and Defend
Series : Silverman Saga #3
Pages : 338
Publisher : Mapolaje Publishers
Publication date : June 13, 2018

aboutthebook

Like a pebble dropped in a pond, the effects of two deaths—one in the Johannesburg home of the wealthy Silverman family; the second, hundreds of kilometres away on a Free State farm—ripple across South Africa and the world, irrevocably changing the lives of four people:

Tracy Jacobs who desperately wants journalism’s highest laurels… and also yearns for love. Now she must choose between saving her career or defending her chance of happiness;

Aviva Silverman who wants nothing more than to live happily ever after with her adored new family. Now she must place it all at risk to defend the family she left behind;

Carol Aronowitz, dedicated social worker who prides herself on her professionalism . Now she must find a way to defend herself against clear evidence of incompetence that has had disasterous consequences; and

Yair Silverman, Aviva’s twin brother, who stands to lose everything as he takes a drastic decision to deceive everyone.

Set against the backdrop of South Africa’s post-Mandela decline, Deceive and Defend is as current and thought provoking as today’s headlines.

extract

Tracy ignored her mother’s barrage and hurtled into the bathroom. She tore off her pyjamas, turned the shower on full blast, and stepped into the still icy torrent. The water would warm up eventually but her heart, her body would remain frozen. She just knew it. She had died inside. She stood motionless as her tears washed down the drain.

It was all too much. First Yair. Then this. It wasn’t fair. It just wasn’t fucking fair. She had worked so damn hard on that story. Lepalake had promised her… he had promised that he would phone her the next time he was in Johannesburg and… and he had! That phone call that Duduzile had so kindly offered to take just as she was leaving the office yesterday – that had to have been Peter Lepalake. And instead of Duduzile calling her back, the bitch had kept the story for herself – and Mafuta had obviously helped her, filling in some of the blanks from the things Tracy had told him over the weeks she had spent working on the story. Damn him. At least she hadn’t filed her story about Yair and Tiffany. It would have seemed so petty, such a nothing story, in comparison to Peter Lepalake. Mafuta and Duduzile would have made her life a misery—more of a misery—if she had given in to her spiteful temptation. They’d be saying she was only capable of stupid gossip, not real news.

Hammering on the bathroom door startled her.

‘Your news editor’s on the phone. Can you speak to him or will you call him back?’ Maxine shouted.

‘Tell him I’ll phone him,’ Tracy said and poured some shampoo into her hand to lather into her hair. Mafuta could wait. He probably just wanted to explain why he had given her story to his mistress. Maybe. Mafuta never explained anything to anyone. Ever. Too bad. He’d just have to wait until she was ready to speak to him about whatever he wanted. She wasn’t supposed to be on duty until 9am… he could fucking wait. 

Tracy rinsed her hair, massaged in a liberal amount of conditioner, shaved her legs, rinsed off the conditioner, switched off the water, stepped out of the shower, wrapped herself in her threadbare towel and padded down the passage to her bedroom.

Her cellphone was ringing as she stepped through the door. She picked it up. Mafuta. 

Her finger hovered over the red icon – but she couldn’t bring herself to cut her news editor off.

‘Hello Prince.’

‘TT, what the fuck has taken you so long. I told your mother to tell you to call me back urgently. And when I say urgently, I mean immediately. Not a fucking half hour later.’

‘Sorry. I was washing my hair. I supposed you wanted to tell me about Peter Lepalake. Don’t worry. I’ve read Duduzile’s story. It’s full of mistakes. Why didn’t you call me when he phoned? I was still in the building.’

‘And let you screw it up again? You couldn’t get the story, Duduzile did – end of story. Anyway, I’m giving you a new story and I hope you don’t fuck this up too. Mpho’s police contacts called him this morning, early. Something has happened at Alan Silverman’s house. Police and ambulances are on their way. Or are probably there already, as you should have been if you hadn’t been fucking washing your fucking hair.’

Tracy sat down heavily on the bed, her hand shaking.

‘What’s happened?’

‘It may be nothing more serious than a house robbery or a hijacking. But Mpho says there could be some fatalities so it may be something worthwhile – more death in the cursed Silverman mansion type of thing. Just get over there. I’d send Mpho but you know the family so, for once in your useless little life, get me a fucking story I can use.’ 

Tracy stared at her phone, willing it to ring, willing it to be Yair telling her that he was okay, that everything was okay. But the phone stayed stubbornly, ominously silent. 

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Has this wee teaser left you wanting more? Then why not grab yourself a copy as Deceive and Defend is available to buy!

Amazon US | Amazon UK | KoboGoodreads

abouttheauthor

I was born and raised in Johannesburg’s northern suburbs, the youngest daughter of an extraordinarily ordinary, happy, stable, traditional (rather than observant) Jewish family. After matriculating at Northview High School, I went to Rhodes University in Grahamstown where I served on the SRC, competed (badly) in synchronised swimming and completed a B. Journalism degree. This was followed by a “totally useless” – according to my parents – English Honours (first class), also at Rhodes.

With the dawning of the turbulent 1980s, I started my career as a reporter on a daily newspaper, working first in the news and later, the finance departments. During this period, I interviewed, among others, Frank Sinatra, Jeffrey Archer, Eugene Terre’blanche and Desmond Tutu. I caught crocodiles; avoided rocks and tear smoke canisters in various South African townships; stayed awake through interminable city council meetings and criminal and civil court cases – and learned to interpret balance sheets.

I also married my news editor, Poen de Villiers and, despite all the odds against us coming as we did from totally different backgrounds, we remained happily married for 32 years and three days. Poen passed away as a result of diabetes complications on 15 March, 2015.

After the birth of our two daughters, I ‘crossed over’ into Public Relations with its regular hours and predictability.  My writing – articles, media releases, opinion and thought leadership pieces and so on – was published regularly in newspapers and other media, usually under someone else’s by-line. But after more than 20 years, I decided the time had come to go it alone. I now work as a freelance wordsmith which (theoretically) gives me more time to focus on what I love best – writing fiction.

So why, after a lifetime of writing non-fiction, did I decide to try my hand at fiction? The catalyst was the unexpected death of a childhood friend and colleague in 2012. This spurred me to take stock of my life, to think about what I had achieved.  A few months later, I decided to try and write a novel. This turned out to be A Beautiful Family which was published in July 2014.  The fiction bug had bitten, and my second novel, When Time Fails, was launched in September 2015. Now, the third and final novel in the Silverman Saga Trilogy, Deceive and Defend, is launching in June 2018… and novel number 4 is percolating in my head.

Author links : Facebook | Twitter | Website

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Keep You Safe by Rona Halsall @RonaHalsallAuth @bookouture #extract #blogtour #KeepYouSafe

Happy Friday and welcome to my stop on the blog tour for Keep You Safe by Rona Halsall! My thanks to Noelle Holten at Bookouture for the invitation and the extract that I’ll be sharing with you today, right after I tell you what the book is all about.

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Author : Rona Halsall
Title : Keep You Safe
Pages : 363
Publisher : Bookouture
Publication date : August 17, 2018

aboutthebook

What if trying to protect your child only put them in danger?

Natalie is desperate to find her little boy. It has been more than three years since she saw Harry. Three long years in prison for a crime she knows she didn’t commit.

But her husband believed the police, and took their son.

Who has gone to such great lengths to destroy Natalie’s life? Everyone she once trusted – friends, family, everyone close to her – what secrets do they hide?

If Natalie finds the truth, will she get Harry back, or lose him forever?

extract

Chapter  One

Now

Natalie  sits  on  a  metal  bench  on  the  top  deck  of  the  ferry,  watching the  mountains  of  the  Lake  District  glide  past.  She  wonders  what her  son  looks  like.  Has  his  hair  darkened,  his  face  thinned  out? They  change  so  quickly  when  they’re  young  and  she  has  nothing to  go  on,  not  a  single  picture  since  he  was  a  baby.

She’ll  know  soon  enough,  she  thinks,  with  a  shiver  of  nerves, uncertain  of  what  lies  ahead  but  sure  that  she’ll  risk  everything to  have  him  with  her  again.  She  wraps  her  arms  around  her  chest and  imagines  that  it’s  her  child  that  she’s  hugging.  She  can  almost feel  his  hair  against  her  face,  his  breath  tickling  her  neck  and  she hugs  tighter,  fingers  feeling  the  bones  of  her  ribcage,  even  through two  layers  of  clothing.

 What  if  things  go  wrong?

Her  jaw  tightens,  and  she  knows  that  she  can’t  let  herself  dwell  on the  idea,  not  for  a  moment.  Confidence  is  the  key  to  success.  She  has to  believe  her  plan  is  possible,  has  to  have  faith  in  herself.  After  all, she’s  not  the  same  woman  she  was  three  years  ago,  before  she  went to  prison.  Her  anger  is  carved  into  her  heart,  is  part  of  who  she  is now  and  she’s  a  little  scared  of  what  she’s  capable  of  when  pushed to  her  limit.  If  it’s  happened  once,  it  can  happen  again,  can’t  it?

She  shivers  and  wraps  her  fleece  a  little  tighter  round  her  body. Prison  was  a  place  full  of  raw  emotions,  a  place  where  it  was impossible  to  relax,  where  people  played  mind  games,  bullied  and manipulated  to  get  what  they  wanted.  Or  just  to  pass  the  time.

Fear  lurked  in  every  dark  corner,  every  sudden  noise,  every  scream. And  fear  is  an  emotion  that  doesn’t  disappear  overnight.  It  has to unwind  itself,  loosen  its  tendrils  until  you  can  ease  yourself  out  of  its  grasp  and  finally  step  away.  That’s  what  she  hopes  will  happen, and  soon,  because  living  on  adrenaline  is  exhausting,  draining  the life  out  of  her  with  the  effort  of  keeping  safe.

On  the  upside,  she  knows  how  to  fight  now,  which  would be  a  surprise  to  everyone  who  knew  her  before.  She  can  throw  a proper  punch,  knows  which  parts  of  the  anatomy  require  a  kick,  a stomp  or  a  jab,  where  the  main  pressure  points  lie,  and  even  how to  use  everyday  things  as  lethal  weapons.  Spoons  to  gouge  eyes, toothbrushes  to  jab,  pens  to  stab,  shoes  to  batter  and  smack.  She’s seen  it  all.  Even  clothing  can  be  dangerous.

It’s  true  to  say  that  she’s  learned  self-defence  from  some  pretty ferocious  women,  uncompromising  in  their  methods  when  it comes  to  protecting  themselves  and  their  families.  She  liked  some of  them.  Admired  them  for  their  resilience  and  sheer  determination to  survive.  And  then  there  was  Katya.

Her  body  gives  an  involuntary  shudder.

She  hugs  herself  harder,  shakes  the  idea  of  violence  from  her mind.  Anyway,  physical  skills  are  not  the  most  important  for  the task  ahead.  She  needs  to  meld  situations  to  her  advantage,  engineer possibilities,  mess  with  people’s  plans.  What’s  going  to  be  really important  is  the  art  of  cunning.  And  the  certainty  that  she  will  do whatever  it  takes  to  be  with  her  son  Harry  again.  No  questions, no  doubts,  no  hesitation. She  sits  back  in  her  seat,  unwraps  her  arms  and  stretches  out her  fingers.

 Relax,  relax, she  tells  herself.

 I  can  do  this. 

As  long  as  she  can  stay  calm,  keep  her  mind  focused  and  not  let  anger  take control.  She  imagines  Harry  as  a  four-year-old  boy  instead  of  the baby  she  knew.  His  hair  will  be  brown  like  hers,  she  thinks,  rather than  the  dark  blond  of  his  father.  His  eyes,  she  knows,  are  wide apart  and  hazel.  And  his  face?  She  prefers  the  idea  that  it  is  oval, like  hers  rather  than  square  like  his  father’s.  His  nose,  of  course, will  still  be  a  little  button  of  a  thing,  covered  in  freckles  that  spread across  his  cheeks,  just  like  the  pictures  of  her  when  she  was  a  child.

Days,  weeks,  maybe  months  of  her  life  have  gone  into  building up  this  mental  picture  of  her  child.  A  child  she  doesn’t  know.  In  the absence  of  photos,  she’s  used  magazines  to  find  pictures  of  children and  build  them  into  a  likeness  of  her  little  boy.  She’s  invented  a voice  for  him,  a  laugh,  a  smile,  even  his  own  set  of  mannerisms.

Likes  and  dislikes.  Now  the  image  is  so  strong,  so  certain,  that she  can  conjure  him  at  will  into  her  daydreams.  And  as  she  closes her  eyes,  she  can  feel  his  little  fingers  holding  her  hand,  hear  his excited  voice  telling  her  stories  about  his  day,  his  life,  what  he dreams  about.  And  questions!  So  many  questions.  She  imagines picnics,  playing  on  the  swings,  the  roundabouts,  helping  him  scale the  climbing  frame.  A  seed  of  joy  germinates  in  her  heart  as  she allows  herself  to  create  a  future  that  almost  seems  real.

 Soon  it  will  be  real.

In  another  place,  where  her  past  can’t  find  her  and  she  can  start  again.

A  smile  creeps  onto  her  lips  and  expands  into  a  proper  grin, stretching  muscles  that  haven’t  been  used  for  quite  some  time.  It’s a  forgotten  feeling;  this  bubbling  in  her  stomach,  lightness  in  her shoulders,  laughter  in  her  throat.  The  movement  of  the  ferry,  as it  rolls  gently  from  side  to  side,  is  a  weird  but  pleasant  sensation, reminding  her  of  fairground  rides  when  she  was  a  little  kid,  when life  was  simple.  She  sighs.  Is  it  possible  that  life  can  be  fun  again?…

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If you’ve enjoyed this teaser chapter of Keep You Safe, you can buy your copy now!

Amazon US | Amazon UK | Kobo | Goodreads

abouttheauthor

Rona’s debut psychological thriller, Keep You Safe is out on 17th August and her second novel will be out in November 2018.

Rona lives on the Isle of Man with her husband, two dogs and three guinea pigs. She has been a bookworm since she was a child and now she’s actually creating stories of her own, which still feels like a dream come true.

She is an outdoorsy person and loves stomping up a mountain, walking the coastal paths and exploring the wonderful beaches on the Island while she’s plotting how to kill off her next victim. She also makes sure she deletes her Google history on a regular basis, because… well, you can’t be too careful when you spend your life researching new and ingenious ways for people to die.

She has three children and two step-children who are now grown up and leading varied and interesting lives, which provides plenty of ideas for new stories!

Author links : Facebook | Twitter

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