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Children of Fire by Paul CW Beatty

I’m delighted to be taking part today in the book birthday blitz for ‘Children of Fire’ by Paul CW Beatty. I have an extract from this gripping novel to share with you, so please read on!

Synopsis

Can Josiah solve the puzzle before more people die, or is he out of his depth?

In 1841, at the height of the industrial revolution in the North West of England, Josiah Ainscough returns from his travels and surprises everyone by joining the Stockport Police Force, rather than following his adopted father’s footsteps into the Methodist ministry.

While Josiah was abroad, five men died in an explosion at the Furness Vale Powder Mill. Was this an accident or did the Children of Fire, a local religious community, have a hand in it. As Josiah struggles to find his vocation, his investigation into the Children of Fire begins. But his enquiries are derailed by the horrific crucifixion of the community’s leader.

Now Josiah must race against time to solve the puzzle of the violence loose in the Furness Vale before more people die. This is complicated by his affections for Rachael, a leading member of the Children of Fire, and the vivacious Aideen Hayes, a visitor from Ireland.

Can Josiah put together the pieces of the puzzle, or is he out of his depth? Children of Fire won the Writing Magazine’s Best Novel Prize for 2017.

 

Extract

There are vicious and violent forces abroad in Furness Vale. This time they have visited the religious community the Children of Fire at the least expected time. They have expressed themselves in a sacrilegious and apparently senseless murder. A murder that is designed to be seen as a matter of revenge. How will Josiah Ainscough, undercover for Stockport Police Force, cope with this outrage.

Here he comes, climbing the path towards your hiding place, his lantern swinging as he strides forward. You laugh inside yourself as you consider how appropriate darkness is for treachery and how easily this trap has been sprung. All it took was a simply worded note:

Information about Powder Mill. Come to Pulpit Rock two hours after sunset.

You step out in front of him and level your pistol at his head. He sees your face in the lamplight and gasps before he is struck down from behind.

You drag him to the base of the cross. There is a large wooden beam waiting on the ground. You lay him on it and bind his wrists so that he is stretched, open armed, along its length.

Slowly, he wakes up as you are finishing. You step back and watch as he becomes conscious. He looks around in a daze and tries to get up but the weight of the beam pins him to the earth. He wrenches at the ropes on his arms, twisting and struggling. He sees you and stops.

‘Do you remember me?’ you ask.

‘It cannot be you. You are dead.’

‘It is simply by chance that I bear a likeness of a face of someone you destroyed. Oh, I’m sorry, not chance, you don’t believe in that do you? Providence would, in any case, be a more appropriate term.’

‘Perhaps you are right,’ he says. ‘Either way I know who you must be.’

‘And by your own creed you are duty bound to do what you can to confess and prove that confession by trying to put right, the wrong you have done.’

‘And I do confess. I did your family a terrible wrong but I cannot amend it. All I can do is ask your forgiveness.’

‘Oh I think you can do something more practical than that and it will be a significant confirmation of the depth of your repentance, for it will take you the rest of your life. It’s just that the rest of your life is going to be much shorter than you might have thought.’

You cut off his shirt so that he is naked to the waist. You pick up a hammer and a nail and, stooping next to his left-hand, you push the nail into the soft flesh of the upturned palm and the hammer it into the wood behind. It takes several blows. One goes astray and breaks two of his fingers but he does not give you the satisfaction of crying out in what must be excruciating pain. Blood wells up round the shaft of the nail and pools in the palm.

You move round to the right-hand. You twist the nail repeatedly into the palm until it goes through to the back. Then you take up the hammer. Still he is silent before you.

You stand up and put your foot across his throat. Then gradually you throw your weight forward so that he starts to choke. After a few seconds he is not simply gasping for breath but uttering strange guttural sounds. Only then do you release the pressure; he is wracked by coughing.

Eyebolts have been fixed through the beam and rigged to block and tackle attached to the cross. He is heaved up so that his arms take much of his weight, but his feet are still just touching the ground. There is a terrible involuntary groan of exhaled air as his lungs are forced forward and downwards. More fierce, deep coughing.

You take the crown you have prepared from green twigs of sloe gathered in the wood. Its thorns are long and when you ram it down on his head, trickles of blood flow start down his face like red water tracks on a wet windowpane, as they merge with beads of sweat on his skin.

His shoes are pulled off and the stockings cut away. You bind his ankles and come up close to him, so your mouth is by his ear. You say something only you and he can hear and when he reacts and convulses his body in rejection, you laugh. You slip a blade in between his ribs and guide it towards his heart. You are careful not to kill him outright.

Around his neck you place a placard on a cord. You dip a finger in blood from his face and write across it. Then he is lifted clear of the ground until the extra crossbeam is at the same height as the original.

There are only two things left to be done. His legs are pulled back and two nails are driven between his tendons and the ankle bones, to pull the feet onto the upright. In a final touch, you take a sledgehammer and break his thighs.

He will die sometime before dawn, drowned slowly in his own blood from the chest wound. When is unimportant.

 

Purchase Links

 

Author bio

Paul CW Beatty is an unusual combination of a novelist and a research scientist. Having worked for many years in medical research in the UK NHS and Universities, a few years ago he took an MA in Creative Writing at Manchester Metropolitan University emerging with a distinction.

His latest novel, Children of Fire, is a Victorian murder mystery set in 1841 at the height of the industrial revolution. It won the Writing Magazine’s Best Novel Award in November 2017 and is published by The Book Guild Ltd.

Paul lives near Manchester in the northwest of England. Children of Fire is set against the hills of the Peak District as well as the canals and other industrial infrastructure of the Cottonopolis know as the City of Manchester.

 

Social Media Links – Twitter @cw_beatty

 

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Christmas at Ladywell by Nicola Slade: charming and mysterious

 

A time for spilling secrets…

Having refurbished her inherited house and upcycled her whole life in the process, Freya – now happily married to Patrick, and with a small child – has to transform her tiny stone barn into a romantic hideaway for a mystery guest who is also looking for change. With Christmas only a week away, things don’t go according to plan…

In the past old uncertainties are resolved when an elderly woman seeks the truth of a legend on Christmas Eve and confesses to a deception; a Tudor wife listens to a story that must never be repeated and is given a precious relic that must never be displayed; and in the early nineteenth century an old woman tells a younger one the story of the hares at Ladywell.

Past and present are only a whisper apart when Freya learns of an astonishing discovery that will make Ladywell famous, but meanwhile her house is full of unexpected visitors, she has a turkey to cook – and a very special secret of her own that must be told.

 

My review

Christmas at Ladywell is a quick and charming read. It’s part of a series but you don’t need to have read the preceding books to be able to fully enjoy this one.

It’s a dual-timeline story that focuses on the past and the present at Ladywell. In having to do some rather quick renovations, Freya, who inherited the house, makes some interesting discoveries about former residents and royal connections. We get to travel back in time to witness events and meet some of these people. There’s a wonderful atmosphere of mystery woven into the historical element of the story.

There’s mystery in the present day too. Just what is Patrick’s surprise for Freya, and Freya’s own secret?

This is an uplifting, comforting sort of story, perfect for Christmas.

 

Purchase Links

US – https://www.amazon.com/Christmas-at-Ladywell-Nicola-Slade-ebook/dp/B07YNKPCJW

Author bio

Nicola Slade is an award-winning, bestselling author of historical and contemporary mysteries and romantic fiction, all set in and around Winchester and Romsey in Hampshire – which is where she lives. The House at Ladywell – a contemporary romantic novel with historical echoes – won the Chatelaine Grand Prize for Romantic Fiction at the CIBA awards in April 2019.

She is the author of the mid-Victorian Charlotte Richmond mysteries and the contemporary Harriet Quigley mysteries and The Convalescent Corpse, published November 2018, is the first in a new series, The Fyttleton Mysteries, set in 1918.

 

Social media links
Website:
www.nicolaslade.com

Blog: www.nicolaslade.wordpress.com

Facebook: www.facebook.com/nicolasladeuk/

Twitter: @nicolasladeuk

Pinterest: www.pinterest.co.uk/nicola8703

 

Giveaway to Win a .mobi or PDF of The Convalescent Corpse by Nicola Slade (Open INT)

*Terms and Conditions –Worldwide entries welcome.  Please enter using the Rafflecopter box below.  The winner will be selected at random via Rafflecopter from all valid entries and will be notified by Twitter and/or email. If no response is received within 7 days then Rachel’s Random Resources reserves the right to select an alternative winner. Open to all entrants aged 18 or over.  Any personal data given as part of the competition entry is used for this purpose only and will not be shared with third parties, with the exception of the winners’ information. This will passed to the giveaway organiser and used only for fulfilment of the prize, after which time Rachel’s Random Resources will delete the data.  I am not responsible for despatch or delivery of the prize.

http://www.rafflecopter.com/rafl/display/33c69494301/

 

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Christmas Secrets at Villa Limoncello by Daisy James

Escape to Villa Limoncello… where dreams come true in the most unexpected ways.

With Christmas around the corner, Izzie Jenkins is ready to kickstart the new ‘Snowflakes and Christmas Cakes’ course at Villa Limoncello with chef and business partner, Luca Castelotti.

However, secrets are stirring with their latest guests and when nasty accidents keep befalling the group it looks like Izzie will have to turn detective once more to protect the Villa’s fledgling reputation. On top of all this, Izzie’s been offered the job of a lifetime – back home in Cornwall. Will she be coming home for Christmas, or will Tuscany work its magic to keep her at Villa Limoncello with Luca?

My review

This is a winning combination of festivity, fabulous food, romance and mystery. Add in fascinating characters, a beautiful setting and a clever, captivating plot and you just can’t ask for more.

The book is the third in a series but it works fine as a standalone as we’re quickly given all the information we need to know what’s what.

The author writes beautifully. The words dance off the page and sweep you along. There’s humour, tension, mystery and romance, all superbly handled.

This is a Christmas parcel of perfection.

Purchase Link

Author Bio

Daisy James is a Yorkshire girl transplanted to the north east of England. She loves writing stories with strong heroines and swift-flowing plotlines. When not scribbling away in her peppermint-and-green summerhouse (garden shed), she spends her time sifting flour and sprinkling sugar and edible glitter. She loves gossiping with friends over a glass of something pink and fizzy or indulging in a spot of afternoon tea – china plates and teacups are a must.
Daisy would love to hear from readers via her Facebook page or you can follow her on Twitter @daisyjamesbooks or on Instagram @daisyjamesstories.

Social Media Links – Facebook https://www.facebook.com/daisyjamesbooks/

Twitter @daisyjamesbooks

Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/daisyjamesstories/

 

 

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Murder in Capital Letters by Peter Bartram: lively and humorous 1960s mystery

Synopsis

SHOT TWICE! Brighton antiques dealer Freddie Hollingbourne-Smith is murdered in his workshop – and crime reporter Colin Crampton is first on the scene.

TOO MANY SUSPECTS: Colin discovers plenty had reason to kill Freddie… like thwarted beauty queen Julie Appleyard, his jilted mistress… snooty toff Sir Tunnicliffe Hogg, his persecuted neighbour… devious hard-man Harry Spittlefield, his cheated partner… not to mention fiery and passionate Isabella, his betrayed ex-wife.

CRYPTIC CLUE: Colin must puzzle out the mystery left by a small pile of printers’ type – all in capital letters – before he can finger the killer.

THE CLIMAX EXPLODES on the famous train, the Brighton Belle. With Colin’s feisty Australian girlfriend Shirley at his side, the laughs are never far from the clues as the pair hunt down the murderer

My review

This is a lively, humorous book set in 1960s Brighton. Our hero Colin Crampton is a journalist for the local paper. He enjoys his job, most of the time, and is as hardworking as any of the others at the office.
In this story he’s running an errand for a dodgy friend, and in doing so is first at a murder scene. He’s determined to get to the bottom of the crime, and this brings into contact with some fascinating, and occasionally scary, people and into some dicey situations. But Colin is determined and clever, and lucky, and it looks like he should survive the ordeal.
The setting is wonderfully portrayed and is a blast from the past for some of us readers who remember the 1960s. Colin and his companions are flawed and entirely human, and they get up to some very entertaining activities.
This is a very enjoyable, clever book that’s a delight to read.

 

This is a free Crampton of the Chronicle novella available from colincrampton.com.

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Palm Trees in the Pyrenees by Elly Grant: complex, compelling – and what an ending!

Palm Trees in the Pyrenees

A rookie cop, a dash of mysterious death, and a heap of suspicion – as the heat rises, lethal tensions boil over in the Pyrenees.

Unappreciated, unnoticed, and passed over for promotion, thirty-year-old Danielle’s fledgling career in law enforcement is going nowhere – until the unexpected death of a hated Englishman turns her small town upside down.

Set in the idyllic south of France, Palm Trees in the Pyrenees is the first whodunit novel in Elly Grant’s thrilling murder mystery series. Against a background of prejudice, jealousy, and greed, Danielle pieces together the sparse clues of a fractured homicide. But will she find enough evidence to solve the case – and get the recognition she deserves?

To find out, get your copy of ‘Palm Trees in the Pyrenees’ – right now.

My review

This is not what you might expect from a whodunit in that it’s rather darker than many novels in this genre. But not initially, and that’s what is so very different and clever! From an apparently straightforward opening, things become increasing complex. And the ending will take your breath away.

An unliked and unlikeable Englishman falls to his death from a balcony in a quiet French tow. Young policewoman Danielle is the first on the scene and this story is about her solving the crime.

The book has a very immediate, happening feel to it due to the use of the present tense. And also, as our narrator Danielle is French, she explains that English isn’t her first language and that makes you pay more attention to her language. It’s perfect, but it’s a clever touch that makes you more aware than normal of the phrasing and nuances in her words.

The setting is vivid and transports you to southern France and those palm trees.

Thoroughly absorbing and intriguing, this is a compelling book that it’s impossible to put down once you start reading.

Purchase Links


 

Author Bio –

Hi, my name is Elly Grant and I like to kill people. I use a variety of methods. Some I drop from a great height, others I drown, but I’ve nothing against suffocation, poisoning or simply battering a person to death. As long as it grabs my reader’s attention, I’m satisfied.

I’ve written several novels and short stories. My first novel, ‘Palm Trees in the Pyrenees’ is set in a small town in France. It is the first book of my ‘Death in the Pyrenees series and they are all published by Creativia. The others in the series are, ‘Grass Grows in the Pyrenees’, ’Red Light in the Pyrenees’, ’Dead End in the Pyrenees’, ‘Deadly Degrees in the Pyrenees’ and ‘Hanging Around in the Pyrenees’. Creativia has also published my grittier crime novels set in Glasgow, ‘The Unravelling of Thomas Malone’ and ‘The Coming of the Lord’ as well as my thriller, ‘Death at Presley Park’. Also published are my Romance ‘Never Ever Leave Me, as well as a collaboration on the quirky black comedy ‘But Billy Can’t Fly’ and short stories called ‘Twists and Turns’.

As I live much of the year in a small French town in the Eastern Pyrenees, I get inspiration from the way of life and the colourful characters I come across. I don’t have to search very hard to find things to write about and living in the most prolific wine producing region in France makes the task so much more delightful.

When I first arrived in this region I was lulled by the gentle pace of life, the friendliness of the people and the simple charm of the place. But dig below the surface and, like people and places the world over, the truth begins to emerge. Petty squabbles, prejudice, jealousy and greed are all there waiting to be discovered. Oh, and what joy in that discovery. So, as I sit in a café, or stroll by the riverside, or walk high into the mountains in the sunshine, I greet everyone I meet with a smile and a ‘Bonjour’ and, being a friendly place, they return the greeting. I people-watch as I sip my wine or when I go to buy my baguette. I discover quirkiness and quaintness around every corner. I try to imagine whether the subjects of my scrutiny are nice or nasty and, once I’ve decided, some of those unsuspecting people, a very select few, I kill.

Perhaps you will visit my town one day. Perhaps you will sit near me in a café or return my smile as I walk past you in the street. Perhaps you will hold my interest for a while, and maybe, just maybe, you will be my next victim. But don’t concern yourself too much, because, at least for the time being, I always manage to confine my murderous ways to paper.

Read books from the ‘Death in the Pyrenees’ series, enter my small French town and meet some of the people who live there —– and die there.

Alternatively read about life on some of the hardened streets of Glasgow or for something different try my other books and short stories.

 

Social Media Links –

www.facebook.com/elly.grant.92

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Children of Sinai by Shelley Clarke: thoughtful, different and exciting

Children of Sinai

How would you feel if you got caught up in a secret so vast it threatened everything the world had come to believe?

That’s what happened to John Milburn, computer science lecturer, orphan, husband and father, who lived an ordinary life in Haverhill, Suffolk, England.

That is, until the dreams started…

From the idyllic calm of Cambridge, John Milburn is drawn to the dust and the heat of Jericho. Thrown into danger and intrigue, he discovers more than he’d bargained for.

‘A wowser of a tale that is exciting and thought-provoking with a cast of characters you’ll fall in love with. Inspired by Biblical events, historical finds, theories and the author’s own strange imagination.’

 

My review

This is a very original book, and very exciting, but not in a headlong, mindless sort of way. The pace of the story measured and thoughtful: it’s the intricacy and cleverness of the plot that makes it so interesting and inspiring. That said, you’ll read it at top speed as it’s a book you can’t put down once you’ve started!

I especially liked the fascinating characters, all of whom were rounded, plausible and relevant. John is an unlikely hero but he works brilliantly as the catalyst for the all the events around him. There are a lot of different elements in the novel – history, fantasy, mystery, politics, religion – and the author interweaves them very successfully into a totally absorbing and thrilling adventure. This book touches on so many genres!

An absolute must-read as it’s fascinating as well as absorbing and very entertaining.

 

 

Purchase Links:


Author Bio –

Shelley Clarke was born into a naval family in Kent in 1958, and consequently moved house a lot as a child. She had ambitions to follow in her father’s footsteps and join the Royal Navy, and to become a carpenter, but these were not female occupations at that time. So she learned to type… which has come in jolly handy for putting her stories first onto paper, and now onto screen.

Shelley is a keen painter, poet, and karaoke enthusiast; she loves mad family get-togethers, hates olives, ironing and gardening, and currently lives in Devon with her husband Kev, and their two Tibetan Terriers Nena and Pepi, who make them smile every day.

Shelley often forgets she is a grown-up.

Children of Sinai is Shelley’s debut novel. The story had been bouncing around her head for many years, and putting it down on paper has been the hardest thing she’s ever had to do. She certainly could not have got through this experience without a lot of cursing and chocolate!

Social Media Links –

https://www.facebook.com/childrenofsinai/?modal=admin_todo_tour

https://twitter.com/Shelley62628484

 

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The Stationmaster’s Daughter by Kathleen McGurl: a total pleasure to read

Synopsis
As the last train leaves, will life ever be the same?

Dorset 1935: Stationmaster Ted has never cared much for romance. Occupied with ensuring England’s most beautiful railway runs on time, love has always felt like a comparatively trivial matter. Yet when he meets Annie Galbraith on the 8.42 train to Lynford, he can’t help but instantly fall for her.

But soon the railway is forced to close and a terrible accident occurs within the station grounds, Ted finds his job and any hope of a relationship with Annie hanging in the balance…

Present day: Recovering from heartbreak after a disastrous marriage, Tilly decides to escape from the bustling capital and move to Dorset to stay with her dad, Ken.

When Ken convinces Tilly to help with the restoration of the old railway, she discovers a diary hidden in the old ticket office. Tilly is soon swept up in Ted’s story, and the fateful accident that changed his life forever.

But an encounter with an enigmatic stranger takes Tilly by surprise, and she can’t help but feel a connection with Ted’s story in the past…

My review
Dual timeline stories seem to be all the rage at the moment, and when they’re as skilfully handled and beautifully written as this one then I’m really glad that they are!
So much goes on in this story, both in the present and past. We have misunderstandings, secrets, love, errors and atonement. There’s tension, fulfilment, disappointments and joy. As a reader you run a rollercoaster of emotions along with the characters.

Every character we meet is rounded, interesting and very persuasively portrayed. Settings are sharply detailed and convincing. That of the 1930s is particularly appealing. It was a time of great hardships – physical, financial and social – but there was also an air of overriding simplicity. That’s not to say the modern part of the story is inferior, because it isn’t, but I got a warmer feeling from the earlier timeline events.
This book is a total pleasure to read and I highly recommend it.

 

Purchase links
UK – https://www.amazon.co.uk/Stationmasters-Daughter-gripping-heartbreaking-historical-ebook/dp/B07P556918/
US – https://www.amazon.com/Stationmasters-Daughter-gripping-heartbreaking-historical-ebook/dp/B07P556918/

Author bio
KATHLEEN MCGURL lives near the sea in Bournemouth, UK, with her husband. She has two sons who are now grown-up and have left home. She began her writing career creating short stories, and sold dozens to women’s magazines in the UK and Australia. Then she got side-tracked onto family history research – which led eventually to writing novels with genealogy themes. She has always been fascinated by the past, and the ways in which the past can influence the present, and enjoys exploring these links in her novels.

Social media links
twitter @KathMcGurl
www.facebook.com/KathleenMcGurl/
About

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The Kompromat Kill by Michael Jenkins: an energetic and exciting novel

Synopsis

They were preparing for decades – now it’s time to take them down.

When a British Diplomat is kidnapped in the heart of London, followed by a brutal double-assassination in Chelsea, MI5 braces for the threat of deep sleeper cells coming alive.

Hiding overseas with a price on his head, Sean Richardson is tasked to lead a deniable operation to hunt down and recruit an international model and spy. Moving across Asia Minor and Europe, Sean embarks on a dangerous journey tracking an Iranian spy ring who hold the keys to a set of consequences the British Intelligence Services would rather not entertain.

As Sean investigates deeper, he uncovers dark secrets from his past and a complex web of espionage spun from the hand of a global master spy. As he inches closer to the truth, the rules of the game change – and the nerve-wracking fate of many lives sits in his hands…….……..

Tense, absorbing, and insightful, The Kompromat Kill is a gripping thriller leaving
you breathless at the pace of intrigue, cleverly unravelled in a dramatic finale.

My review

‘Energetic’ is the best term for this book. It’s full of action and life from the first page to the last. And death, of course, since it’s a thriller set in the brutal word of international espionage where anyone inconvenient is efficiently wiped out. Any violence, however, is somewhat matter-of-factly delivered, which is in keeping with the book’s genre, rather than being gratuitous and sensationalised.

Our hero is Sean Richardson, a man loyal to his country and colleagues, and prepared to do what needs doing, but who is also endowed with a sense of morals that weigh him down at times. He’s thoughtful and contemplative, but acts instinctively when necessary too.

All the characters we meet are convincing. Everything from their names to their actions conveys their personality and their role in this thriller.

The action takes us to all kinds of places, which are all described in enough detail so that we can picture the scene perfectly without becoming bogged down in minutiae.

The Kompromat Kill follows on from The Failsafe Query but works perfectly as a standalone. It’s an exciting, escapist read but it leaves you with a few things to think about after you’ve finished it. Absolutely one to read.

 

Purchase Links

UK  – https://www.amazon.co.uk/dp/B07QFSF44F

US – https://www.amazon.com/dp/B07QFSF44F

 

About the author

I started climbing at 13, survived being lost in Snowdonia at 14, nearly drowned at 15, and then joined the Army at 16. Risk and adventure was built into my DNA and I feel very fortunate to have served the majority of my working career as an intelligence officer within Defence Intelligence, and as an explosive ordnance disposal officer and military surveyor within the Corps of Royal Engineers.

I was privileged to serve for twenty-eight years in the British Army as a soldier and officer, rising through the ranks to complete my service as a major. I served across the globe on numerous military operations as well as extensive travel and adventure on many major mountaineering and exploration expeditions that I led or was involved in.

I was awarded the Geographic Medal by the Royal Geographical Society for mountain exploration in 2003 and served on the screening committee of the Mount Everest Foundation charity for many years. It was humbling after so many years of service when I was awarded the MBE for services to counter-terrorism in 2007.

The Failsafe Query was my first novel, with The Kompromat Kill as my second.

 

Social Media Links –

https://twitter.com/FailsafeQuery

https://www.facebook.com/thefailsafethrillers/

 

Giveaway to Win 5 copies of The Kompromat Kill (Open INT)

*Terms and Conditions –Worldwide entries welcome.  Please enter using the Rafflecopter box below.  The winner will be selected at random via Rafflecopter from all valid entries and will be notified by Twitter and/or email. If no response is received within 7 days then Rachel’s Random Resources reserves the right to select an alternative winner. Open to all entrants aged 18 or over.  Any personal data given as part of the competition entry is used for this purpose only and will not be shared with third parties, with the exception of the winners’ information. This will passed to the giveaway organiser and used only for fulfilment of the prize, after which time Rachel’s Random Resources will delete the data.  I am not responsible for despatch or delivery of the prize.

http://www.rafflecopter.com/rafl/display/33c69494254/

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Smile of the Stowaway by Tony Bassett: edgy and exciting

Smile Of The Stowaway

A married couple, a stranger from far away and a murder that rocks their lives. Desperate to reach England, a bedraggled immigrant clings precariously beneath a couple’s motor home as they cross the Channel. Once holidaymakers Bob and Anne overcome their shock at his discovery and their initial reservations, they welcome the friendly stranger into their home in defiance of the law. But their trust is stretched to the limit when the police accuse the smiling twenty-three-year-old of a gruesome murder. Could this man from six thousand miles away be guilty? Or is the real killer still out there? Former national newspaper journalist Tony Bassett tells how Anne turns detective, battling against a mountain of circumstantial evidence and police bungling to discover the truth. This gripping first novel concerning a death in a remote Kentish country cottage is packed with mystery, suspense and occasional touches of humour.

 

My review

This is a modern, tingling psychological thriller that begins with the book’s title. At once you’re slightly on edge, wondering exactly what sort of smile that stowaway is smiling. A relieved one? A smug one? Triumphant, nervous, malicious?

The challenges to your possible preconceptions regarding immigration, keeping secrets and how far one should go to help a stranger continue in the story, which is fast-paced and gripping. The author has a spare, punchy way of writing that doesn’t bog you down with more than you need to know. It also gives you more to guess about.

The book doesn’t just make you sit up and think a bit more seriously about modern issues. There’s a crime to solve too, and the plot is tightly constructed and exciting. There’s some lighter relief along the way so it’s not a white-knuckle ride all the time. The author handles tone and tension very well.

There’s a lot packed into this novel which you really should discover for yourselves.

 

Purchase Links

UK – https://www.amazon.co.uk/Smile-Stowaway-Tony-Bassett/dp/1911546457

US – https://www.amazon.com/Smile-Stowaway-Tony-Bassett/dp/1911546457

 

Author bio 

Tony Bassett, who was born in West Kent, grew up wanting to be a writer from the age of nine when he edited a school magazine. After attending Hull University where he won a `Time-Life’ magazine student journalism award, he spent six years working as a journalist in Sidcup, Worcester and Cardiff before moving to Fleet Street. Tony spent 37 years working for the national press, mainly for the `Sunday People’ where he worked both for the newsdesk and the investigations department. He helped cover the Jeremy Thorpe trial for the `Evening Standard’, broke the news in the `Sun’ of Bill Wyman’s plans to marry Mandy Smith and found evidence for the `Sunday People’ of Rod Stewart’s secret love child. On one occasion, while working for `The People’, he took an escaped gangster back to prison. His first book, `Smile Of The Stowaway’, is one of four crime novels Tony has written over the past three years.  He has five grown-up children and eleven grandchildren.  He lives in South East London with his partner, Lin.

Social Media Links –

https://www.facebook.com/tonybassettauthor/

Twitter: @tonybassett1

Tony’s author website

www.tonybassettauthor.com

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Giveaway to Win 6 x PB copies of Smile of the Stowaway (Open INT)

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Testament by Alis Hawkins

Synopsis

What secrets lie hidden in the Medieval college of Kineton and Dacre…?

Salster, 1385

Master mason Simon of Kineton is building his magnum opus: a great college to rival any in England.

But the Bishop of Salster, hostile to free education, is determined to sabotage Simon’s project.

When rumours spread that the mason’s son is cursed, the bishop sees an opportunity to undermine both Simon and the college.

And everything Simon has worked so hard for could end up crumbling down around him…

Salster, 2019

Damia Miller has been employed to promote penniless Kineton and Dacre college.

Delving into the college’s history, she becomes captivated by the vast grotesque painting that has recently been uncovered during renovations.

It soon becomes clear to Damia that the painting holds the key to the past – a past which could reveal exactly what she’s been searching for…

 

My review

This is a fresh, clever book. We have two timelines – 1385 and 2019. Although six and a half centuries separate them, there is so much that’s similar: rivalry, the importance of education, strong personalities, families that are a little different from normal, intolerance and commitment. These elements and the apparently separate plots link begin to entwine firmly as the story progresses and the mystery of that painting is slowly solved.

Simon and Damia are the lead characters, one in each timeline. It is they who hold the action together in their sections of the book, but Damia is the overall lynchpin. It’s she who brings everything to fulfilment. She’s a very interesting heroine. Like Simon she’s unconventional in her outlook, opinionated and dedicated. We become very interested in seeing her at work and watching how her character develops.

The background to the historical element of the book has clearly been very carefully researched and we get a convincing sense of the period and the beliefs and politics of the time. The modern era is just as vibrantly and realistically portrayed.

The author has a clear, direct style that is easy and enjoyable to read. The plot is interesting and well constructed. All in all this is an absorbing and satisfying book.