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Rage and Retribution by Lorraine Mace: a powerful read

Can two wrongs ever make a right?

A man is found by the side of a canal, comatose and brutally attacked.

It quickly becomes clear that someone is abducting men and subjecting them to horrific acts of torture. After three days they’re released, fighting for their lives and refusing to speak.

A councillor is accused of fraud.

Montague Mason is an upstanding member of the community. That is until he’s publicly accused of stealing the youth centre’s funds – an accusation that threatens to rip through the very heart of the community and expose his best-kept secret. But how far would he go to protect himself?

Two cases. One deadly answer.

As the two cases collide, D.I. Paolo Sterling finds he has more questions than answers. And, when torture escalates to murder, he suddenly finds himself in a race against time to find the killer and put an end to the depravity – once and for all.

 

My review

I usually like my mysteries cosy and tongue-in-cheek so a challenging, gritty, brutal novel like this certainly too me out of my comfort zone. It made for a refreshing change in the way that a walk by the sea does – when there’s a gale blowing and you’re being soaked in spray. It certainly wakes you up.

The story grips you from the first page with its graphic opening scene. From here on the pace rarely lets up. The only times it does is to allow for necessary character development. This book isn’t a one-dimensional police procedural, which can be the downside of this particular genre: here we have an exciting, chilling plot peopled by rounded and interesting characters and taking place in atmospheric, detailed settings.

There’s plenty of edge-of-your seat, tense suspense to keep you turning the pages quickly, interspersed with moments of reflection and revelation. The rage and retribution elements are given equal treatment and justification in the book.

A powerful read.

 

Purchase Links

UK – https://www.amazon.co.uk/gp/product/1786156857

US – https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/1786156857

 

Author bio

When not working on her D.I. Sterling Series, Lorraine Mace is engaged in many writing-related activities. She is a columnist for both Writing Magazine and Writers’ Forum and is head judge for Writers’ Forum monthly fiction competitions. A tutor for Writers Bureau, she also runs her own private critique and author mentoring service. She is co-author, with Maureen Vincent-Northam, of THE WRITER’S ABC CHECKLIST (Accent Press). Other books include children’s novel VLAD THE INHALER – HERO IN THE MAKING, and NOTES FROM THE MARGIN, a compilation of her Writing Magazine humour column.

Social media links

Website: www.lorrainemace.com

Blog: thewritersabcchecklist.blogspot.com

Twitter: @lomace

Facebook: www.facebook.com/lorraine.mace.52

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Cherry Slice by Jennifer Stone

Synopsis

Reality TV turns deadly in Cherry Hinton’s first case

When Kenny Thorpe, a contestant on Expose TV’s Big Blubber, the hot new celebrity weight-loss show, is murdered on live television in front of 3 million viewers, the case seems pretty watertight. After all, everyone saw Martin do it – didn’t they?

Cherry Hinton knows there’s more to this than meets the eye. As an investigative reporter, she went undercover on dating show Caravan of Love… but after getting in too deep with one of the other contestants, she was caught knickerless in front of the nation. Humiliated, fired and heartbroken, she has fled to Brentwood, where she opens a cake shop, and tries to forget all about Expose.

Until Kenny Thorpe’s sister walks into her shop with a letter that turns Cherry’s world upside down. Is Martin innocent? How is infamous gangster Leon Solent involved? Is Expose to blame, and is there a killer still on the loose?

Cherry is the only one in a position to find out

 

My review

The cosy mystery genre is one that’s meant to be tongue in cheek. Its central premise is that extremely unlikely protagonists manage to solve crimes that defeat that the experienced police force, and whilst that may occasionally happen in real life it’s not an everyday occurrence. This is what gives the genre its energy and allows authors to pull out all the stops imagination-wise.


Cherry Slice is a wonderful example of an imaginative cosy mystery. It’s an ingenious reworking of the locked room mystery, the type that Agatha Christie made famous. This time the action happens in a reality TV setting. And instead of Christie’s high society characters, we have a true Essex Girl, Cherry, as our chief sleuth, and the murder suspects are a group of wannabe celebs with weight issues.

Cherry, like all good amateur detectives, comes with emotional baggage. She used to date the victim, and she’s under a black cloud for some undercover work she did as a journalist. She now works in her parents’ bakery, famous for its tasteless (metaphorically speaking) gimmicky cakes.

As you’d probably expect from this description so far, there’s plenty of humour, wit and quirkiness in this novel. The characters are all larger than life, and not just the ones on the Big Blubber show. There are shady underworld figures, glitzy bimbos and plenty of almost-ordinary people but with something a little absurd about them to make them fascinating.

The Essex setting is convincing, especially for someone like me from just over the border in  south Suffolk and knows the area, and the plot is original and cunningly thought-out. If you like a cosy that makes you chuckle, occasionally wince and be thoroughly entertained from start to finish, then this is for you.

Pre-order the book here: www.amazon.co.uk/Cherry-Slice-PI-Mystery/dp/1788421655

 Review copy received from the publisher via NetGalley and reviewed honestly and voluntarily.

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B&Bers Behaving Madly by Sharley Scott: a joy to read!

B&Bers Behaving Madly

Running a guesthouse is never plain sailing, as Katie can testify. Eccentric or challenging guests are the usual order of the day. But when a sinister man moves in across the road, the first ripples of unease appear.

Katie has learned the hard way that a seaside idyll is never what it seems. She and Jason have worked hard at their marriage, but now she has other issues to tackle.

While her new cleaner has proved to be a godsend, she comes with a complicated love life. Then there’s Katie and Jason’s daughters, Emily and Lucy, whose boomerang visits definitely have an ulterior motive.

And what about the threatening man opposite who has taken an intense dislike to Shona, the madcap owner of the adjoining B&B. Shona’s life has always been chaotic, but now it’s verging on disaster.

As the season moves on and guests come and go, Katie fears her daughters have been keeping secrets of their own, while Shona’s troubles come to a head.

When the B&Bers are behaving madly, anything can happen. Can Katie weather the storm?

 

My review

The first book in this series, Bedlam and Breakfast introduced us to many of the characters we meet again here, but you don’t have to have read that book to really enjoy this one.

Katie and Jason’s hectic life as B&B hosts continues. Not only are there wandering guests and an uninvited one to contend with, not to mention a shady neighbour, but there are repairs to do, skeletons tumbling out of closets and family complications to contend with.

There’s so much sharp observation and wry humour that every page is a joy to read. The characterisations are fabulous, the scenery and settings very atmospheric and the twists and turns of the plot are cleverly created and well thought out. The book is endlessly entertaining and extremely enjoyable.

Thank you, Sharley Scott, for another fabulous book!

 

Purchase Links

UK – https://www.amazon.co.uk/Behaving-Madly-Devon-Seaside-Guesthouse-ebook/dp/B081VV5M3C

US – https://www.amazon.com/Behaving-Madly-Devon-Seaside-Guesthouse-ebook/dp/B081VV5M3C

 

Author bio

While ‘Bedlam & Breakfast at a Devon Seaside Guesthouse’ is fictional, I am a guesthouse owner. Thankfully, we have been blessed with lots of amazing and kind-hearted guests, who are nothing like some of the characters featured in this novel and the subsequent books currently being written in the series. I would be a lot greyer if they were.

Likewise, Jason is quite different to my husband, who I sometimes nickname Victor Meldrew. He is lovely though and has a fab sense of humour, although some of his dryness has rubbed off on Jason.

Bedlam & Breakfast is set in South Devon, in the fictional town of Torringham, which is loosely based on Brixham. If you’ve been to Brixham you may recognise some of the local features, including the seals, fishing industry and the fantastic lifeboat crew, but the businesses, people and a number of settings are fictionalised.

The same applies to the B&B owners featured. Many guesthouse owners undertake work when they move into a property and our current B&B was not an exception. While our previous owners were nothing like Jim and Maureen, this also means we don’t get to live next door to the fabulous Shona and Kim. But we do have many lovely B&B friends. B&Bers are a wonderful and hardworking bunch, although the ones we know have a penchant for parties in the low season. That’s why I had to end Bedlam & Breakfast at a party.

I hope you enjoy Bedlam & Breakfast. It’s the fourth novel I’ve written, although the first in this genre. A second book in this series is being published in January 2020. B&Bers Behaving Madly can also be read as a standalone. It’s great journeying with Katie and Jason as they enter their second year at the B&B, especially now that Katie is better equipped to deal with Shona. Or, so she thinks.

 

Social media links

https://twitter.com/SharleyScott

https://www.facebook.com/SharleyScott3

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The Particular Charm of Miss Jane Austen by Cass Grafton and Ada Bright

When a time travelling Jane Austen gets stuck in modern-day Bath it’s up to avid Janeite Rose Wallace to save her… because she’s the only one who knows that Jane exists!

Rose Wallace’s world revolves around all things Austen, and with the annual festival in Bath – and the arrival of dishy archaeologist, Dr Aiden Trevellyan – just around the corner, all is well with the world…

But then a mysterious woman who bears more than a passing resemblance to the great author moves in upstairs, and things take a disastrous turn. Rose’s new neighbour is Jane Austen, whose time travel adventure has been sabotaged by a mischievous dog, trapping her in the twenty-first century.

Rose’s life is instantly changed – new home, new job, new friends – but she’s the only one who seems to have noticed! To right the world around her, she will have to do whatever it takes to help Jane get back home to write Rose’s beloved novels. Because a world without Mr Darcy? It’s not worth living in!

 

My review

They say you can’t judge a book by its cover but I totally disagree. One look at this book with its perky, bright and attractive design and its totally intriguing title and you know you’re going to enjoy every word.

As well as the time travel element, there’s mystery, history, romance and literary references in this very clever book. Jane Austen has got stuck in the future, and she copes with modern life with the straightforward, interested manner we’d expect from such a dauntless woman. Unless she can get back, her books won’t get written and our lives will all be the poorer for that. It’s untenable to think of there never being a Mr Darcy or Emma Watson!

As well as Jane, all the other principal characters are portrayed with great detail and enjoyment. They’re all fascinating and form delightful relationships. The setting in Bath with its festival is atmospheric and the plot is clever and cunning.

There isn’t a single thing not to enjoy in this imaginative, beautifully written novel.

 

Purchase Links

Amazon UK – https://www.amazon.co.uk/Particular-Charm-Miss-Jane-Austen-ebook/dp/B07P6VPMFZ

Amazon.com – https://www.amazon.com/Particular-Charm-Miss-Jane-Austen-ebook/dp/B07P6VPMFZ

Barnes & Noble (and Nook)

https://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/the-particular-charm-of-miss-jane-austen-ada-bright/1130732667?ean=9781788633697

Kobo

https://www.kobo.com/ch/en/ebook/the-particular-charm-of-miss-jane-austen-1

About the authors

Cass Grafton

A proud bookworm since childhood, Cass writes the sort of stories she loves to read – heart-warming, character driven and strong on location. Having moved around extensively and lived in three countries, she finds places inspiring and the setting of her novels often becomes as much a part of the story as her characters.

She has an over-active imagination, is prone to crying with happiness as much as she is at sadness, but when it comes to her writing she leans heavily towards the upbeat and insists on a happy ever after. As one of her favourite authors, Jane Austen, once wrote, ‘let other pens dwell on guilt and misery’.

Cass loves travelling, words, cats and wine, and enjoys them in any combination. She currently splits her time between Switzerland, where she lives with her husband, and England, where she lives with her characters.

 

Ada Bright

Ada has lived all her life in Southern California, which makes her intolerant to any weather above or below 72 degrees Fahrenheit. She grew up much more fond of reading than sports or socializing and still tends to ignore everyone she loves, all her responsibilities and basic life needs when she’s in the middle of a book.

She is luckily married to a handsome and funny man who doesn’t mind that the laundry never gets put away and she has three amazing children. Ada spent over a decade as a photographer before dedicating herself to writing, though she still believes that life should be documented well and often.

There is nothing she loves more than a good, subtle love story whether it be in real life, tv, movie, theatre or book form… well, except cake. She also really loves cake.

 

Social media links

Our Blog: www.tabbycow.com

 

Facebook:

https://www.facebook.com/missyadabright

https://www.facebook.com/cassie.grafton

 

Twitter:

@CassGrafton

@missyadabright

 

Instagram:

 

@cassgraftonauthor

@adacakes

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The Profit Motive by David Blecker: a ‘wow!’ read

Synopsis

When firefighter Adam Sterling arrives at the scene of a horrific car crash, little does he imagine it will lead him back to his mother’s homeland.
Kate, the woman he pulls from the wreckage, needs his help. Her father has been left for dead after a hit-and-run, in Wenzhou, China.
She suspects it wasn’t an accident and so does Jie Gang, the senior policeman investigating the case, and whose efforts are obstructed from on high.
When events escalate, Kate employs Adam and Byron Mason, Adam’s best friend and fellow former Royal Marine, to go with her to China.
Catapulted into an alien environment, and unable to trust anyone, Mason and Sterling face escalating challenges.
The struggle becomes personal, and Adam has to confront a ruthless enemy determined to destroy him and Kate.
THE PROFIT MOTIVE is the second crime novel in the Mason & Sterling thriller series: gritty, hard-boiled page-turners with an urban setting.

My review
There really is only one word to sum this book up: wow!
And ‘wow’ for numerous reasons. The wide-ranging action leaves you breathless, the characters are tough, energetic and fascinating, the settings are astounding and the plot is real knife-edge, keep-you-guessing stuff.
It’s exciting and interesting, and once you start reading you’re compelled to just keep going. It’s a book that’s hard to put down, but if and when you do it stays with you as it’s powerfully written. The various threads of the story become increasingly tightly wound and result in a real explosion of an ending.
This is the second book in a series, but works fine as a standalone. However, once you’ve read this book, I’m sure you’ll want to read everything this author has written.
In summary, this is a high-octane, intelligent, enthralling thriller.

Purchase link: mybook.to/TheProfitMotive

 

About the author

I write fast-paced action thrillers populated with well-rounded characters.
Born in Addis Ababa in 1960, I spent my first eight years living on an agricultural college in rural Ethiopia where my love of reading developed. After dropping out of university I became a firefighter and served 19 years before leaving to start my own business.
I began writing in 2010 and use my work experiences to add realism to my fiction.
The Mason and Sterling series centre on two ex-Royal Marines, Byron who now runs a security company and Adam who is a firefighter. A strong cast of characters support my protagonists. Long Stop Books published Brotherhood, the first novel in the series, in September 2019 and will be publishing the second, The Profit Motive, on December 16th 2019. Brotherhood is set in Manchester and The Profit Motive in Manchester and Wenzhou, China.
I live in Manchester, my adopted home since 1984. In my spare time I try to keep fit—an increasingly difficult undertaking—listen to music, socialise and feed my voracious book habit.

Social media links:
Website: www.davidbeckler.co.uk
Facebook: www.facebook.com/davidbecklerauthor
Twitter: @DavidBeckler1
Goodreads www.goodreads.com/author/show/8364947.David_Beckler
Bookbub www.bookbub.com/authors/david-beckler

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A Messy Affair by Elizabeth Mundy

A Messy Affair

The only way is murder…

 Lena Szarka, a Hungarian cleaner working in London, is forced to brush up on her detective skills for a third time when her cousin Sarika is plunged into danger.

Sarika and her reality TV star boyfriend Terry both receive threatening notes. When Terry stops calling, Lena assumes he’s lost interest. Until he turns up. Dead. Lena knows she must act fast to keep her cousin from the same fate.

Scrubbing her way through the grubby world of reality television, online dating and betrayed lovers, Lena finds it harder than she thought to discern what’s real – and what’s just for the cameras.

 

My review

This is a wonderfully enjoyable cosy mystery. Hungarian immigrant Lena is a likeable and very interesting character. Her situation as something of an outsider lends her sharper observation skills and she has a keen eye for the ridiculous that only someone not part of a certain society can clearly see.

There lots of humour as well as a riveting mystery to solve, set around the very modern topics of reality TV and online dating. We meet more of Lena’s relatives in this story (it’s the third in a series) and all the characters we encounter are fascinating in one way of another. There’s plenty of drama and suspense – never a dull moment. This author delights in delighting her reader with her imagination, tight plotting and top quality writing skills.

 

Purchase Links

UK – https://www.amazon.co.uk/Messy-Affair-Lena-Szarka-Mysteries/dp/1472126394

US – https://www.amazon.com/Messy-Affair-Lena-Szarka-Mysteries/dp/1472126394

Author Bio – Elizabeth Mundy’s grandmother was a Hungarian immigrant to America who raised five children on a chicken farm in Indiana. Elizabeth is a marketing director for an investment firm and lives in London with her messy husband and two young children. She writes the Lena Szarka Mysteries, featuring a Hungarian cleaner as detective.
www.elizabethmundy.com

 

Social Media Links –

Twitter, Facebook and Instagram @ElizabethEMundy

www.elizabethmundy.com

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Chickenlandia Mystery by Daisy Pettles: just brilliant!

Synopsis

Pawpaw County, Indiana, is all atwitter about Ma and Peepaw Horton’s annual Chickenlandia Festival. The mood turns dark though when the Horton’s prize-winning rooster, Dewey, and his best laying hen, Ginger, vanish, leaving behind no clues except for a trail of tail feathers. Also missing: Gertie Wineagar, local sourpuss, and BBQ chicken cook-off queen. Odder still: the festival’s reigning chicken dance champion, Billy Bob Burris, is run down by a speeding pickup truck with suspicious out-of-state plates. Senior sleuths, and lifelong gal pals Ruby Jane Waskom and Veenie Goens suspect Hiram Krupsky, Pawpaw County’s self-proclaimed Chicken Wing King, of launching the crime spree as an attempt to sabotage the Horton’s free-range chicken ranch. The senior sleuths, who need a way to spy on Krupsky’s chicken empire, and search for clues, get an unexpected “in” when Hiram slips into his best leisure suit and commences to court Ruby Jane. Follow the Hoosier snoops as they attempt to sort the good eggs from the bad in this hilarious smalltown crime mystery.

 

 

My review

This is another book of lovable nonsense from our pair of senior sleuths Ruby Jane and Veenie. I use ‘nonsense’ in an admiring way in that it’s all larger than life, a little bit nuts and over the top, but with this pair of characters any less just wouldn’t cut it! It’s a fast-paced, laugh-aloud read packed with wit and clever writing. It’s wonderful entertainment from start to finish.
And it features chickens which, being something of a crazy bird lady, means it’s pretty much perfection.
The characters are all eccentric in one way or another, which makes them memorable and fascinating. It also reflects real life, even though there’s a touch of exaggeration. I mean, how many totally normal people do any of us know?
The plot is tight and exciting. A brilliant read.

Published by Hot Pants Press. Available at Amazon.

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In the Heart of Windy Pines by Holly Tierney-Bedord

Synopsis

From the author of Kindle Unlimited All-Star winner Sweet Hollow Women comes a new novella featuring characters from Murder at Mistletoe Manor, Carnage at the Christmas Party, and The Port Elspeth Jewelry Making Club!

Klarinda Snow is the innkeeper of Mistletoe Manor in beautiful, remote, Windy Pines, Idaho, where she brings her unique brand of hospitality to the tiny mountain town.

When she finds her inn unexpectedly fully booked on a snowy Tuesday night in November, it brings back memories of a tragedy years before. Before she knows what hit her, she and her trusty team of employees (Myrtle, Pierre, and her new night manager, Josephine), have found themselves back at the task of solving another mystery at Mistletoe Manor!

While this book can be enjoyed as a stand-alone novella, if you plan to read the books in the Windy Pines Mystery series or The Port Elspeth Jewelry Making Club, it’s highly recommended you read those first, as this book contains spoilers that could affect your ability to enjoy them.

My review
This is a quick and delightful read. The guests at Klarinda’s full-to-bursting hotel Mistletoe Manor get snowed in, and things take a turn for the mysterious. A familiar trope but one that it most certainly not stale when in the hands of this author.
We have a wonderful assembly of personalities that interact in good and bad ways. All very believable, and with emotional depth.
The plot is clever with enough tension to keep you riveted to the action. There’s complexity and cleverness in it and it makes for plenty of enjoyment.
There’s not just a mystery and a seasonal, wintry atmosphere, but also romance, which is a nice little extra!
The book is part of a series, but it works as a standalone although there’s more to gain from reading the whole series in order.

 

 

Purchase Links

About the author
Holly Tierney-Bedord lives in Madison, Wisconsin. She’s the author of over twenty books including The Woman America Loves a Latte, The Port Elspeth Jewelry Making Club, and Kindle Unlimited All-Star winner Sweet Hollow Women.
For more information or to subscribe to Holly’s newsletter, visit www.hollytierneybedord.com.

www.amazon.com/Holly-Tierney-Bedord/e/B00M3C9W3E
www.instagram.com/authorhollytierneybedord/
www.goodreads.com/author/show/6433388.Holly_Tierney_Bedord
www.bookbub.com/authors/holly-tierney-bedord
www.facebook.com/HollyRecommends/

Giveaway to Win a $5 Starbucks card (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/33c69494322/

Giveaway to Win a complete collection of Holly Tierney-Bedord audiobooks (Open UK / US Only)
Only open to those who have a UK or US Amazon Audible Account.
Prize includes these audiobooks – https://www.audible.co.uk/search?keywords=holly+tierney-bedord&ref=
*Terms and Conditions –UK and US 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/33c69494323/

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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

 

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