So what is this book about? Here’s the blurb:

Blood Ribbon

When there’s more than secrets buried, where do you start digging?

When Brooke Adams is found battered, bleeding, and barely conscious, the police are at a loss as to who her attacker is or why she was targeted.

Then, PI Rod Morgan turns up convinced that Brooke’s attack is the latest in a string of unsolved disappearances dating back twenty-five years.

The police, however, aren’t convinced, so Brooke and Rod must investigate the cases themselves.

As secrets from the past start unravelling, will they find Brooke’s attacker before he strikes again, or is that one secret that will stay buried forever?

Publication Date – 10th August 2018

And now here’s the cover…

Isn’t it tantalising? I’m definitely looking forward to reading this.

About Roger Bray

I have always loved writing; putting words onto a page and bringing characters to life. I can almost feel myself becoming immersed into their lives, living with their fears and triumphs. Thus, my writing process becomes an endless series of questions. What would she or he do, how would they react, is this in keeping with their character? Strange as it sounds, I don’t like leaving characters in cliffhanging situations without giving them an ending, whichever way it develops.

My life to date is what compels me to seek a just outcome, the good will overcome and the bad will be punished. More though, I tend to see my characters as everyday people in extraordinary circumstances, but in which we may all find our selves if the planets align wrongly or for whatever reason you might consider.

Of course, most novels are autobiographical in some way. You must draw on your own experiences of life and from events you have experienced to get the inspiration. My life has been an endless adventure. Serving in the Navy, fighting in wars, serving as a Police officer and the experiences each one of those have brought have all drawn me to this point, but it was a downside to my police service that was the catalyst for my writing.

Medically retired after being seriously injured while protecting a woman in a domestic violence situation I then experienced the other side of life. Depression and rejection. Giving truth to the oft said saying that when one door closes another opens I pulled myself up and enrolled in college gaining bachelor and master degrees, for my own development rather than any professional need. The process of learning, of getting words down onto the page again relit my passion for writing in a way that I hadn’t felt since high school.

So here we are, two books published and another on track.

Where it will take me I have no idea but I am going to enjoy getting there and if my writing can bring some small pleasure into people’s lives along the way, then I consider that I will have succeeded in life.

 

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I can’t understand how I’ve managed to miss such a wonderful series for so long. (Originally written by Heron Cavic, Hamilton Crane took over after his death.) But at long last I’ve discovered it, at book no. 23 in the series, so I’ve got a lot of reading to do to catch up.  I’m not complaining!

The books works perfectly as a standalone story. The long-standing characters and their relationships soon become very plain and so there’s no confusion about what’s going on. Miss Seeton, or Miss Ess as the computer insists on labelling her as, works as an artist for Scotland Yard. She has a sixth sense that appears in her pictures. She can’t see it, but The Oracle, Superintendent Delphick, knows how to translate her drawings and find the clues. He needs Miss Seeton with her sketchpad and umbrella wherever there’s a mystery that needs solving.

Miss Seeton is delightfully polite and apparently harmless, but she’s quite a force to be reckoned with. She’s clever and witty and courageous. In this story, for example, she heads up to Glastonbury Tor on her own, encounters a range of eccentrics but deals admirably with them all, and also goes up in a hot air balloon. Nothing fazes this elderly lady, although I think she’s a tiny bit scared of Martha, her housekeeper!

This is a busy book with three plot lines going on – a kidnap, a murder and a missing drugs stash – and they all weave themselves firmly around our demure heroine. Her drawings provide clues to help in solving them all. All the characters we meet are rounded and fascinating, and with the hippie, late 1970s setting in Glastonbury for much of the book we get to see some alternative interpretations of the local landscape and find out a lot about the Zodiac. All very interesting.

This is a quirky, fun novel. It’s a pleasure to read and has you chuckling every few pages at the wit and the bizarreness of the situations that Miss Seeton continually finds herself in.

The cover is classy and eye-catching (and clue-containing). All in all the book is a total delight.

Hugh Fitzgerald is damaged, physically and mentally. Invalided out of the army after being blown up in a vehicle in Iran, he’s now in a downward self-destructive spiral of drinking too much, smoking too much, depression and apathy. His ex-girlfriend is about to get married and he feels he has nothing in his life.

Then comes an unexpected plea from his over-achieving younger brother, Nick. The son of a friend of his has gone missing in Thailand. Knowing that Hugh has been there several times, and that he can handle himself when the pressure’s on, thanks to his army background, Nick suggests that Huge goes to try and find Jack and bring him home. Hugh is reluctant at first, then motivated by the fee alone. However, after some reflection he realises this mission is exactly what he needs. It seems that saving Jack may also be his own salvation. He can prove that he still has value.

He hits the ground running in Thailand, where he soon becomes immersed in its seedier side. He picks up Jack’s trail and doesn’t like where it’s leading at all, but he’s an honourable man and will see his commitment through to the bitter end. Flawed as he is with his addictions and failure to take better care of himself, at heart we see he has a strong moral code. It may not entirely agree with that of the general populace, but he plays by  his own rules which he has thought through. He’s intelligent, surprisingly empathetic and loyal. He’ll do whatever it takes to get this job done.    

Events take him from Thailand into the no-man’s land of between that country and Cambodia, namely Poipet, which has its own rules. Hugh has to track down The Chairman who is ruthless in the extreme. It’s going to take all his courage and determination to survive, and succeed.   

We experience the glory and the horror of Thailand. The writing is no-holds-barred, and stunningly beautiful imagery is found next to the shockingly jagged and brutal. We see our hero’s finest moments as well his lowest. We get a real sense of the desperation of so many lives, and yet sense the optimism and spirit of these same people. You can feel the humidity, the energy, the tension. Christopher Bardsley takes you by the throat with his writing and hangs on for dear life. The book is unputdownable, combining thriller, social commentary, politics, travelogue and self-discovery, and it stays with you long after you’ve finished it. It’s a haunting, challenging and powerful book.

Charity Ends At Home by Colin Watson is the fifth novel in the Flaxborough mystery series. The book has a smart, intriguing cover that gives a new, modern look to a novel that was first published fifty years ago. It recreates that era for us in a timeless way that doesn’t feel dated. We are conducted back in time very enjoyably.

The stately town of Flaxborough is awash with colourful characters. They’re not quite eccentric but definitely not quite ordinary. And a lot of them aren’t quite as respectable as they try to make out. The place is also awash with charities that don’t take very kindly to each other at all. So when a leading light of one of the charities is found dead, there are plenty of suspects, including her husband whose alibi quickly disintegrates.

DI Purbright leads the investigation, assisted by Sergeant Love. And there are another pair of investigators at work – Montgomery Hive and his friend Lucy Teatime. They interact, as do all the characters, in fascinating and delightful ways.

Comedy simmers below the surface in the form of razor sharp wit and situations that are almost ridiculous but somehow retain their dignity. An example is one magnificent scene where everyone is at cross purposes. The headteacher thinks one of his guest speakers, recruited at the last minute, is someone rather important but he is actually a private detective, although he’s masquerading as a photographer. He himself thinks he’s at a prize-giving rather than a careers evening. Add a few too many double whiskeys and some cheeky students and things don’t go as expected.

The whole book is full of wry observations and tongue-in-cheek humour, but it never collapses into farce or slapstick. This is what keeps the story lively, even though the action moves at a sedate pace and our characters are Britishly self-controlled. It’s thoroughly enjoyable from start to finish.   

From the very start, I was gripped by this novel. I have to confess that I thought I probably would be, as I’m a huge fan of Aaron Paul Lazar. And this wonderful author didn’t let me down.

Gus and his wife Camille are on a long-awaited and much-needed holiday. But, as is so true when you’re leaving family members behind, they’re torn. They need this break but they miss home too. This is just one of the lovely touches in this book. As with the other novels in this series, there is such a warm domestic background.  In fact warmth is what characterises the book: bad things happen, but there is security and love and loyalty in the background. Gus himself is such a warm likeable character. People can’t help opening up to him, and he can’t help getting involved. Camille is far more than a token sidekick. She’s a strong character, and has a strong role to play in this exciting mystery.

When a car crashes onto the beach close to him, Gus is drawn into a mystery concerning two feuding families. One is dysfunctional in the extreme whilst the other is very close but challenged. Sinister events pull Gus into thrilling events that have their roots in the eighteenth century. We have pirates and lost treasure alongside very modern problems, such a single mum struggling to make a living and also trying to save her baby’s father from the abuse he appears to be suffering at home.

The title Murder on the Brewster Flats is a clever one as there are actually two we learn about – one in the past, connected to the pirate element, and a modern one that puts several other characters in immediate danger. Also clever, there’s a crossover element: Gus and Camille encounter Jack and Scout Remington from the Paines Creek Beach series. It works so well!

This is an exciting and polished novel which you can’t put down. 

This is a murder mystery that involves a busy but secluded religious commune, New Life, headed by Father Ambrose. A trash bag containing the mutilated remains of a young girl is thrown onto their property, thus forcing the community to be dragged into the real world it tries hard to avoid as the murder is investigated.

The book begins very well and this author’s forte is in narrative writing. However, it rapidly gets bogged down with a lot of tedious and repetitive dialogue. Too often characters are telling, and retelling, each other things where it would be far more efficient if the author just told us, the readers, once. There are too many phone calls – two long ones in one chapter alone. Phone calls are notoriously difficult to portray in any novel – should we hear one side only, both sides, how much small talk need there be, and so on – and it’s best to avoid them if possible. Luckily these days we can have brief texts or emails to do their job, because as in this book, they do jar and slow the pace.

The plot is interesting and the descriptive writing generally excellent, but elsewhere the quality is much lower. The book is written in the third person but the author also uses, rather inconsistently, first person techniques such as direct thoughts. These rapidly become intrusive since you start to wonder why particular paragraphs are presented as his thoughts whereas others aren’t. There’s too much inconsistency. The majority of the characters aren’t well developed and remain shadowy.

There’s much to admire but generally I found this book disappointing after such a good start.

 

This is an office-based cozy mystery, which, it has to be said, makes a welcome change from the plethora of bakery-based ones! It’s set in Bostoff Securities where Janet Maple, our heroine, has just been given a job by long-time but rather controlling friend Lisa. Having worked in the DA’s office, Janet has a nose for intrigue and cover-ups. So she quickly becomes alarmed when she notices that things, such as the complicated company structures,  don’t seem to add up and starts to do a bit of digging. Janet finds herself in the awkward situation of suspecting her friend and boss guilty of wrong-doing. She’s not the only one. Her apparently nerdy work colleague Dean (the alias for Dennis Walker, an undercover agent) is on the case too and the pair find themselves working together, as well as becoming increasingly attracted to each other.

The author has a very clear, concise, polished style that makes for enjoyable reading. The characters are nicely rounded  and I suspect the major ones will develop further as the series progresses. The plot is clever and it’s interesting to get an insight into how a securities firm works. All in all, a different and enjoyable cozy, although it has to be said that Baxter the dog could do with being let out a lot more often!

I received a free copy of this book from the author, but this is a voluntary review.

I am a great fan of cozy mysteries, as you’ve probably guessed by now. What you may not know is that I’m also equally addicted to scones. So how could I possibly resist a cozy involving scones and that’s also set in Oxford, where I spent three wonderful years as an undergraduate rather longer ago than I care to remember!

I was hooked by this book from the very start. It has a very dramatic opening: “I never thought I’d end the week facing an American with a sharp knife.” Gemma is our narrator. She owns the Little Stable Tearooms in Meadowford-on-Smythe. She’s turned her back on corporate life to follow her dream, much to her parents’ despair. But she’s sure she’s made the right choice for her. However, when the unpleasant American turns up dead outside her tearooms the next day with one of her scones stuck in his throat, then even she begins to wonder if she shouldn’t have stayed in Sydney.

She decides to investigate, helped by a group of very nosey old ladies and her own inside knowledge of Oxford, where, like me, she was a student. The police are busy hunting down the killer too, led by Devlin O’Connor, Gemma’s ex-boyfriend who was at Oxford with her. His reappearance results in a lot of mixed feelings for Gemma and definitely causes complications.

There’s a great deal of fun and clever writing in this book. It’s delightful – sweet but never cloying, and tongue-in-cheek at times but never slapstick. Extremely entertaining, it’s cozy at its most delicious. It comes with an explanation of very British terms for readers from different backgrounds, and has a glossary of those strange terms that Oxford University positively revels in. And there’s a recipe for scones too. What more could you ask for! More books in this series? Then don’t worry, there are currently four more books to enjoy, and there’s even a prequel too.

 

Nightmare in Burgundy

Nightmare in Burgundy is the third in the Winemaker’s Detective novel series by Jean-Pierre Alaux and Noël Blaen, featuring Benjamin Cooker. This adventure sees him in Burgundy where, at the beginning of the book, he is given the honour of being named Chevalier du Tastevin by the Knights of this order, who have, as their slogan, ‘Never whine, always wine’!

The morning after he receives this honour,  he is, not surprisingly, a little slow but is soon aroused to full capacity when he goes to inspect the graffiti that has appeared overnight in the country town Vougeot, where he’s staying. It inspires him since it’s in Latin, which isn’t usual for graffiti. Sadly, the locals think it’s young vandals, and two of them, the Mancenot brothers, shoot two teenagers whom they believe are responsible. Cooker, appalled by this vigilante justice, isn’t convinced they’ve got the right person.

An elderly friend of his, Brother Clément, helps Cooker determine what this Latin graffiti is all about. It’s a Psalm, and a rather foreboding one at that. Virgile, Cooker’s young and virile assistant, lends a hand too and the sleuthing begins in earnest.

Like its predecessors, this book is a wonderful combination of entertainment and education. We learn about wines, local folklore, history and, this time, some Latin. There’s suspense, suspicion, desperation, humour, lust and erudition. Benjamin Cooker displays his customary calm, loyalty and tenacity as he gets to grips with this definitely different mystery that faces him.

As you would expect from authors Jean-Pierre Alaux and Noël Blaen, there is some haunting imagery in this tightly-written, enjoyable novel. My favourite passage is: “In the distance, the massive silhouette of the Vougeot château seemed to be dozing in the middle of a burial ground of vines whose bony limbs and gnarled stumps were packed all the way to the back of the vineyard. A thick sky was brushing against the points of the tower where the crows were performing sinister and mocking spirals.”

If that doesn’t tempt you to want to read more of this book, then I’m not sure what will!

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magnum equationYou’d be forgiven for thinking that a horse-trainer’s job would keep them more or less occupied, hoofing it from horse to horse. This isn’t so for Cat Enright, heroine of the Magnum Equation written by Lisa Wysocky, as our equine educator takes on the mantle of sleuth during a National All-Breed Horse Show, when a string of deaths of both people and prancers brings chaos crashing down.

The book itself is quite a delight to read; very easy-going with a relatable cast of characters and the authors’ omni-present light-hearted humour. Cat herself is no Miss Marple, and not just in age; she isn’t some razor-witted crime-solving automaton but a blunt yet spontaneous woman with a down-to-earth background hailing from Tennessee. Her associates just make the cast even more colourful, up to and including a self-confessed juvenile delinquent, an eccentric, spiky-blue haired woman “of a certain age” and a horse who may or may not be psychic!

Of course, it isn’t all light-hearted all the way through; this book boasts some truly unexpected plot twists, keeping Cat (and this reviewer!) guessing right up until the very end, whereupon it eventually crystallizes into a thrilling conclusion. The way Lisa Wysocky has dug into her mine of equine knowledge and produced these gems of intrigue, suspense and equicide is remarkable.

If that wasn’t enough, the book also boasts recipes, Cat’s tips on horses and horse care, a helpful cast guide, a map of horse shows, a glossary for non-horsey people and even fourteen questions for book clubs or even the reader to mull over.

In conclusion, it’s an enjoyable read, a story with a plot that bucks as much as a wild Mustang and characters that are down-to-earth and relatable. I would most definitely recommend reading it!

Having enjoyed Magnum Equation so much, I was keen to talk to Lisa and ask her some questions about the book and about writing in general.

 

First things first, can you tell us a bit about what happens in the Magnum Equation?

Sure, Cat Enright, who is a twenty-nine-year-old horse trainer just outside of Nashville, Tennessee, steps in when horses and people fall ill at a prestigious horse show. Her unusual supporting cast, which includes a juvenile delinquent, an eccentric client of a certain age with electric blue hair, a teenager with a trust fund, and a (possibly) psychic horse, help Cat solve murder and mayhem after a show-goer’s last hurrah is in the port-a-potty. A major secret is revealed, too, about Cat’s mysterious barn manager, Jon Gardner.

 

lisawWhich character do you find resembles you the most? It wouldn’t be Agnes, would it?!

Oh, no, not Agnes (who is in her seventies and tends to forget that she is no longer a high school cheerleader), However, I love Agnes dearly! It would have to be Cat. In many ways she is a younger version of myself, although she is shorter, thinner, and braver––and has much better hair, even if she doesn’t think so.

 

Where did your inspiration for the string of crimes which occurred in the All-National Horse show come from? They’re pretty unique, you haven’t had prior experience in dealing with horses and people that way… right?!

My goodness, no, I haven’t. And that’s a good thing because Cat is so much bolder and courageous than I am. The idea came from a casual conversation with a veterinarian while he was giving a few horses their annual exams. I did, however, do a lot of research, including taking a detailed tour of the venue where the book is set. I also lowered myself into a large, messy metal bin at night to see what that was like. You’ll have to read the book to understand what that is all about.

 

Do you have any problems with writer’s block during your writing, and if so, please please please tell us your secret for dealing with it?

I do a lot of thinking about the writing before I actually begin putting words down, so I rarely have issues with writers’ block. By the time I begin to write, the words usually flow pretty well. When I do get stuck, all I need to do is step away from my computer for a few minutes and take a short walk or start to clean a stall, and within minutes I am running back to the computer and the world of Cat Enright.

 

Okay, serious questions finished for now; wine or beer; Coke or Pepsi; Tea or Coffee?!

Definitely green tea––and if there is just a splash of fruit juice in it, then I am in heaven.

 

At any point, did you write any part of this story on horseback?

In a way! I actually think about plot points when I am riding. Of course, I have to stay focused when I am on a horse. The horses I ride need that leadership from me. But out on the trail, or cooling out, part of my brain always goes to Cat’s world. There is something about the movement of a horse that stimulates my creativity!

 

How, as a writer, so you stay sane during the more frustrating parts of writing and self-publishing?

Well, I don’t self publish, so I can’t address that. I am so fortunate to have the Cat Enright series published by Cool Titles, as they are extremely innovative and supportive. But I think most authors and publishers have the same difficulties in getting books on the shelves of stores, and in finding readers. That’s why I am so appreciative of a forum such as this, so I can let people know more about Cat and her interesting crew. And, I love reader feedback, either in the form of email ([email protected]) or a review on one of the many online sites.

 

And back to the book – will Cat’s luck in love ever improve somewhat?

Oh, I hope so!

 

Can you tell us anything, anything at all about the next book in the Equation series?

Yes! The Fame Equation is set at Cat’s stable in Ashland City, Tennessee and brings Cat’s crush, Keith Carson, into the story, along with his beautiful, young duet partner. A church and a therapeutic riding program in Kingston Springs, a town just south of Ashland City, also come into play.

 

Finally, how soon until Sally Blue gets her own spin-off series as a psychic equine crime-fighter?!

Interesting that you ask. My publisher and I have been talking about a Hank and Sally book, something written from their viewpoint. As a dog, Hank is more mobile than Sally, and can pick up more information. Of course, it would be up to Sally to process it. And then there are things that Sally just knows, with no rational explanation as to why she knows. She is such a fun character to write! I am excited about the possibility of their own book (or series!), but think we are book or two away from that yet.

 

Thanks Lisa!

And finally, a few facts about this very interesting author. Lisa Wysocky is an author and motivational speaker who trains horses for and consults with therapeutic riding programs. Lisa is a PATH International instructor and has been chosen as one of the country’s Top 50 riding instructors by ARIA. As a speaker, Lisa motivates, and as an equine clinician she helps horses and humans connect in meaningful ways. In addition, her book Front of the Class (co-authored with Brad Cohen) has aired as a Hallmark Hall of Fame television movie. Lisa splits her time between Tennessee and Minnesota.

 

Find her at LisaWysocky.com, twitter.com/LisaWysocky, LisaWysocky.blogspot.com or on Facebook at facebook.com/powerofawhisper.