Synopsis

A quiet English village where nothing ever happens.   Until…..

After her boyfriend runs out on her with the contents of their joint bank account, Kat Latcham has no choice but to return to the tiny Somerset village of Much Winchmoor where she grew up.  A place, she reckons, that is not so much sleepy as comatose and she longs for something to happen to lessen the boredom of living with her parents.

But when she and her childhood friend, Will Manning, discover a body and Will’s father, John, is arrested for the murder, Kat suddenly realises that she should have heeded the saying “Be careful what you wish for”.

Much Winchmoor is a hotbed of gossip and everyone is convinced John Manning is guilty.  Only Kat and Will believe he’s innocent.  When there’s a second murder Kat is sure she knows the identity of the murderer – and set out to prove it.  But in doing so she almost becomes the murderer’s third victim.

Readers of Sue Grafton might enjoy the Much Winchmoor series of cosy murder mysteries spiked with humour and sprinkled with romance.


My review

This is a fast-paced, enjoyable cosy with an added splash of romance – definitely my favourite combination in a book! Kat makes for a lively and very likeable heroine. We really feel for her, forced to return to the mothership for a while and, in so doing, having to relinquish some of her independence. It also means she’ll run into a few people she’d far rather avoid…

Kat sets to and makes the best of things. She helps her mum in her hair salon at first, but then, thankfully for her sanity, gets another job helping out in the local pub. This is what puts her into close contact with what turn out to be some rather dangerous people.

We get a nice portrait of village life in the novel, and the way that everyone knows everyone else, the petty and more serious rivalries, the different personalities. It mays seem stereotypical to have a village busybody, but if you’ve ever lived in a rural setting then you’ll know these people are real! Folk really do talk about each other and it’s a major source of interest what neighbours get up to. Kat uses this knowledge as she begins her hunt for the real killer out there. She’s courageous, but a bit foolhardy at times, but then she’s only human and she’s the sort of person who’ll always give her all.

Paula Williams has a sharp eye for detail, and especially quirks. Her characters all come with foibles and that’s what makes them so real and interesting. The settings are atmospheric, from the bustling, gossipy hair salon to the cosy pub to the strained parish council meetings.

Loads to enjoy in this impressive start of a series.

 

Purchase Linkmybook.to/murderservedcold

About the author 

Paula Williams is living her dream.  She has written all her life – her earliest efforts involved blackmailing her unfortunate younger brothers into appearing in her plays and pageants. But it is only in recent years, when she turned her attention to writing short stories and serials for women’s magazines that she discovered, to her surprise, that people with better judgement than her brothers actually liked what she wrote and were prepared to pay her for it.

Now, she writes every day in a lovely, book-lined study in her home in Somerset, where she lives with her husband and a handsome but not always obedient rescue Dalmatian called Duke.  She still writes for magazines but also now writes novels.  A member of both the Romantic Novelists’ Association and the Crime Writers’ Association, her novels often feature  a murder or two, and are always sprinkled with humour and spiced with a touch of romance.

She also writes a monthly column, Ideas Store, for the writers’ magazine, Writers’ Forum, and has a blog at paulawilliamswriter.wordpress.com.  Her Facebook author page is https://www.facebook.com/paula.williams.author . And she tweets at @paulawilliams44.

Not only that, but when she’s not writing, she’s either tutoring, leading writing workshops or giving talks on writing at writing festivals and conferences and to organised groups.  She’s appeared several times on local radio – in fact, she’ll talk about writing to anyone who’ll stand still long enough to listen.

But, as with the best of dreams, she worries that one day she’s going to wake up and find she still has to bully her brothers into reading ‘the play what she wrote’.

 

Social Media Links –

Facebook.   https://www.facebook.com/paula.williams.author

Blog. paulawilliamswriter.wordpress.com

Twitter. @paulawilliams44

 

Synopsis

Her next case. She’s in it for good.

Isabel Long is in a funk months after solving her first case. Her relationship with the Rooster Bar’s owner is over. Then the cops say she must work for a licensed P.I. before working solo.

Encouraged by her ‘Watson’ — her 92-year-old mother  — Isabel snaps out of it by hooking up with a P.I. and finding a new case.

The official ruling is Chet Waters, an ornery so-and-so, was passed out when his house caught fire. His daughter, who inherited the junkyard, believes he was murdered. Topping the list of suspects are dangerous drug-dealing brothers, a rival junkyard owner, and an ex-husband.

Could the man’s death simply be a case of redneck’s revenge? Isabel is about to find out.

 

My review

This is a spirited cozy mystery featuring mature sleuth Isabel who may only be an amateur at the moment, but is training to become a professional private detective. She was let go from her job at a newspaper a few years ago and was kicking her heels. Solving mysteries, like the ones her mother so enjoys reading about, seems to suit her personality and skills very well.

The setting is rural America, the land of ‘rednecks’ in the opinion of dismissive people. Hence the title. Isabel fortunately is intelligent enough to see that the rural way of life is equally to be valued as the urban way, and has its own set of rules.

The case that comes Isabel’s way dates back three years. Annette, who runs the junkyard, has lingering doubts about her father’s death, in a fire, being an accident. Chet was a drinker and not an easy man to get along with, but it seems that the authorities were rather quick to accept the easy explanation for his demise.

Isabel takes on the case, even though all she’ll be getting as payment is free car servicing. She tackles the task methodically and courageously, not shying away from upsetting a few unsavoury characters on the way. That almost has rather drastic repercussions. Bit by bit Isabel pieces the puzzle together. Like us, she’s kept guessing for quite a while but at least she fits the pieces together, in a dramatic way.

This is a book about relationships too, and that side is very richly portrayed. We have Isabel’s relationship with her elderly mother, and that’s a key part of the novel. We see her with her children, and also with Jack, the new man in her life, although there have been and still are some bumps in the road on that path. And will Dancing Dave lead Isabel on a merry dance and tread on Jack’s toes? Sisters Annette and Marsha, both redneck Floozies in Isabel’s books, have a close bond and care deeply for each other, unlike a married couple in the book despite outward appearances. And there’s the easy affability and comradeship of the Old Farts.

The Old Farts, the acquaintances that Isabel meets up with over bad coffee to bounce ideas off, are a nice touch to the novel. There’s the Serious Old Fart, the Fattest Old Fart and so on. These actually constitute  a version of the Greek muses in my mind since there’s a lot of wisdom and perspicuity in their remarks. They’re of great assistance to Isabel in her efforts on this case.

My only niggle is the rather cluttered cover, but then I’m someone who just likes to see the title and the author and an eye-catching graphic. I’m not keen on any optional extras!

Redneck’s Revenge is lively, original, cleverly constructed and beautifully written. It’s thoroughly engaging and very enjoyable.

 

Purchase link

mybook.to/rednecksrevenge

Author bio

Joan Livingston is the author of novels for adult and young readers. Redneck’s Revenge, published by Crooked Cat Books, is the second in the mystery series featuring Isabel Long, a long-time journalist who becomes an amateur P.I. The first is Chasing the Case.

An award-winning journalist, she started as a reporter covering the hilltowns of Western Massachusetts. She was an editor, columnist, and most recently the managing editor of The Taos News, which won numerous state and national awards during her tenure.

After eleven years in Northern New Mexico, Joan returned to rural Western Massachusetts, which is the setting of much of her adult fiction, including the Isabel Long series.

 

Social Media Links –

Website: www.joanlivingston.net 

Facebook: www.facebook.com/JoanLivingstonAuthor/

Twitter: @joanlivingston 

Instagram: www.Instagram.com/JoanLivingston_Author

Goodreads: www.Goodreads.com/Joan_Livingston

Litsy: JoanLivingston

 

Giveaway – Win a paperback copy of Redneck’s Revenge (Open Internationally)

*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 I reserve 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 I will delete the data.  I am not responsible for despatch or delivery of the prize.

http://www.rafflecopter.com/rafl/display/33c6949469/

 

Follow the rest of the tour, and look back to see what you’ve missed:

I’m so pleased to be taking part in the blog tour for this sparkling cosy mystery.

Right on the Monet

New York

Claude Monet painting is stolen

Mediterranean

Of all the things Harry Chase had imagined in his life, being a drummer on a cruise ship band was not one that would have occurred to him. And yet, there he was. Centre stage, behind a young female singer along with his mates, Dave, Tony and Steve.

Which meant that getting involved in a jewellery theft, an on-board massage parlour and the hunt for an Old Master was even further from his mind as he cracked the snare drum.

And yet, this was exactly how he found himself being questioned by Interpol …..

 

My review

I’m a huge fan of cosy mysteries, and especially ones with witty titles, so how could I resist ‘On the Monet’? And I’m so glad I couldn’t, because it’s a super book.

It’s a cosy with a bit of difference as our lead sleuth is a fella, Harry. This is a genre where females generally take the lead. Harry is aided and abetted by this three friends Steve, Dave and Tony, also by his partner Cara and Tony’s wife Liz. This group work well together. There’s genuine camaraderie and loyalty between them all. There’s the odd spat and nerve-grating going on, but they’re as thick as thieves, and this quality is what helps them catch a thief in this story. But not without things going a bit haywire every now and again…

Harry, Steve, Dave and Tony get together and form a band. To everyone’s surprise, especially theirs, they’re actually quite good, especially once they call on Clem to be their vocalist. Through her they get the opportunity to preform on board a cruise ship to replace a band that’s pulled out. They accept the job, and things get off to a great start. Then two of the band get injured whilst fishing, and the show can’t go on. This, however, frees up the group to start investigate some slightly odd goings-on aboard the ship which end up being linked with a major art theft.

The story moves at a cracking pace, and we’re permanently kept guessing. Malcolm Parnell drops clues to tantalise us but it needs his ingenuity to work them altogether into such an enjoyable and exciting denouement. The author’s expert knowledge of art adds a rich and fascinating layer to the story.

I found the author’s style a delight to read. It really flows and is warm and enveloping. When his characters converse it’s like we’re there, as part of their group. They’re funny, kind people and all immensely likeable.

This is a lively book delivered with confidence and humour by a talented author. A total joy.

And what a great cover!

 

Author bio

Malcolm Parnell has a passion for painting and teaches art and drawing skills when he is not working on his next novel.

His other passion, apart from his good lady wife, Marion, is Leicester City Football Club. Becoming an author and Leicester win the Premier League have been two of his greatest ambitions realised.

Social Media Links – Twitter – @PaintAuthor

Facebook – malcolmparnellbook

 

I’m delighted to be taking part in the blog tour for this truly intriguing novel.

Synopsis
Laura is happy and content, she has a new boyfriend and loves her job teaching primary school pupils in London. But when she inherits a rundown house from a stranger on her 30th birthday, memories of her prom night come flooding back, memories of a scary encounter and an antique mirror in the very same house.

Laura visits the house with all its secrets and as she unravels the clues she reveals the biggest secret of all: her own destiny. But how can you change the future if it’s already written in the past?

My review
At some time or other in our lives, we’ve all wanted to travel back in time and give a message to our younger selves in order to save ourselves considerable heartache in the future. In real life we can’t do that, but thankfully in novels anything is possible!
Reflected Destinies has an ingenious plot involving moving through time, thanks to a mysterious and ornate mirror in the property, Hampton Cottage, Laura inexplicably inherits on her thirtieth birthday. She’s baffled and somewhat alarmed when she finds out the house is hers, as she had an unnerving experience there when she was a teenager. She thought she’d seen a ghost, and it took her a long time to get over the fright. Now the ‘ghost’ is back, with protestations of love, but also dire warnings…
Florence Keeling is excellent at creating atmosphere. Initially we find Laura, now thirty, in a positive, happy, calm place. It’s easy to like Laura as she’s friendly, genuine and the sort of friend we’d all be happy to have. Her life in London is ordered and her boyfriend Jack seems t be just what she needed. However, when she goes to the Hampton Cottage to take possession of it and start renovations, the sense of menace begins to steadily grow in the background. Laura begins to doubt herself, and those around here. Objects take on great significance, not just the mirror but an antique cameo brooch and, although he’s not really an object, a well-fed ginger cat!
The paranormal element is subtly handled and, given Florence Keeling’s easy style of writing, seems perfectly normal in this novel, which has very realistic settings and convincing, modern characters and language. The plot is fabulous, and really does keep you on edge, but in a tingly excited way, right to the end.
In summary: an intriguing and immensely enjoyable read.

 

About the author

Florence Keeling adopted for her pen-name her Great Grandmother’s name, chosen because of the shared birthday of April Fool’s Day.  She is married with two teenage chidren.  Born and raised in Coventry, England she now lives just outside in Nuneaton.  Reflected Destinies is her first novel.

Florence Keeling also writes for children under the name of Lily Mae Walters.

 

Facebook – https://www.facebook.com/florence.keeling.7

Twitter – https://twitter.com/KeelingFlorence

Instagram – https://www.instagram.com/florence.keeling/

Follow the rest of the tour:

My turn today to review this wonderful book.

 

BLURB: A quiet life for Aubrey?

After spending several months banged up in Sunny Banks rescue centre, Aubrey, a large tabby cat, has finally found his forever home with Molly and Jeremy Goodman, and life is looking good.

However, all that changes when a serial killer begins to target elderly victims in the neighbourhood.

Aubrey wasn’t particularly upset by the death of some of the previous victims, including Miss Jenkins whom Aubrey recalls as a vinegar-lipped bitch of an old woman who enjoyed throwing stones at cats, but Mr Telling was different.

Mr Telling was a mate…

 

My review

This is definitely a cosy with a difference. Actually, several differences. Not only do we have an unassuming feline sleuth, instead of the usual redoubtable female human, but this is a cosy with a definite hard edge to it. Through Aubrey and his investigations, with assistance from cats and humans alike, we are brought fact to face with some pretty tough social issues, such as poverty, discrimination, murder, naturally given the genre, illegal immigration and bullying. However, the author doesn’t get bogged down in them, merely brings them to our attention in a succinct and telling way as part of the story. Aubrey himself is a rescue cat and as such is himself a comment on people’s tendency to see animals as throwaway items. But at last it seems like he has found his forever home with Jeremy and Molly.

Mr Telling was his back-up plan, however, should things ever go pear-shaped with the Goodmans. Aubrey is nothing if not a realist who has no illusions about how cruel life can be. But he remains upbeat and wryly humorous, and always take the pragmatic view of things. Thus his decision to keep a possible home in reserve should the Goodmans change their minds about him. So when Mr Telling is the next in a series of murders, it’s time for him to stick his whiskered nose in with his characteristic cattitude. He’s quite a force to be reckoned with when he gets going. We just have to hope that curiosity won’t kill this cat!

The author has a lively, witty style that’s hugely entertaining. It’s an ambitious book, since writing for adults from the point of view of an animal isn’t an easy thing to do. Such a project could easily become twee or childish, but not here. Absolutely not. At times you almost forget Aubrey’s a cat as he’s portrayed with such conviction and detail. He quickly becomes our friend and we’re with him all the way as he attempts to get the bottom of this murderous skulduggery. His feline colleagues are a varied and fascinating bunch, all distinctly different with foibles, good and bad. We discover that there’s a lot more to life as a cat than me might imagine.

The human characters are superbly portrayed too, from the gentle Goodmans to the brash Maria. There are some interesting and, I suspect, heartfelt insights into the world of teaching which seems quite the quagmire at times!

I really enjoyed this original, clever story with its challenging depth and broad outlook. An excellent read and one I highly recommend.

 

Book info

  • Paperback: 216 pages
  • Publisher: Crooked Cat Books
  • Language: English

 https://www.crookedcatbooks.com/product/street-cat-blues/

 

About the author:  Alison was born in London and spent her teenage years in Hertfordshire.

She has also lived in Somerset and Gloucestershire.

After studying Law she decided to teach rather than go into practice and for many years taught Criminal Law to adults and young people.

Since moving to the south coast, Alison has been involved in qualification and assessment development for major awarding bodies.

When not writing, she enjoys crosswords, walking by the sea and playing Scrabble on her iPad – which she always sets to beginner level because, hey, why take chances?

Alison lives with her husband John and cat Archie.

 

Twitter @alisonoleary81

 

 

 

 

 

Hooray, my turn to take part in the blog tour for this excellent book!

Synopsis

Sylvia Blackwell is tired. Her grandchildren are being kept away from her, and the expected inheritance that might finally get her middle-aged son to move out has failed to materialise – thanks to her mother’s cat. It is becoming increasingly difficult to remain composed. On a romantic clifftop walk for her 47th Wedding Anniversary, an unexpected opportunity leads to a momentous decision that will irretrievably change the course of her life.

The Craft Room is a darkly comic tale of sex, crepe paper, murder and knitting in a sleepy Devon town, with a ‘truly original’ premise and genuinely jaw-dropping moments. What would you do if unexpectedly freed from bondage you never knew you were in? How would your children cope? How far would you go to protect them from an uncomfortable truth? You can only push a grandmother so far…

 

My review

This book is wickedly funny, absolutely dark comedy at its best. All Sylvia wants is her own craft room so she can outdo her nemesis Maureen at the local craft fairs. Now that Robert, her son, has moved out for the second time, having come to terms with his separation from his wife Alexa, she’s got his old room earmarked.

However, she’s temporarily distracted by her mother’s death, an event which doesn’t come as a surprise to Sylvia. Also, the fact her mother has left her next to nothing since she’s gambled it away or promised it to cats takes her focus for a while. Husband Ron swoops into the empty room before she knows it. He annexes it for a golf swing training room. Now, that really is going a bit too far. But he’s not a nice person, someone who delivers encouraging sarcasm and withering looks, and has always belittled their son. Robert moves back in for a while.

Another death in the family, that again doesn’t surprise Sylvia, and neither does the next one, which sees the demise of Ron’s mistress. Cops Frank and Don see the coincidence but rule kind old granny Sylvia out, although suspect she’s covering for someone. They therefore keep an eye on her nearest and dearest, the remaining ones…

The action intensifies from here on, with complications sneaking in. Will Sylvia ever realise her dream of a fully equipped craft room?

This is hugely entertaining. Once you start reading, you can’t stop. The dark humour is wonderful, and addictive! Sylvia is a brilliant heroine, one you can sympathise with – although perhaps you shouldn’t really. She’s larger than life, yet down to earth. She’s great. Robert, insipid at first, comes into his own as the story progresses, and other characters we meet entertain and fascinate.

The physical and social settings of the novel come over well, and contribute towards making this a remarkable and memorable read. I loved it!

Purchase Linkhttps://www.amazon.co.uk/Craft-Room-Dave-Holwill/dp/1973974673

Author Bio

Dave Holwill was born in Guildford in 1977 and quickly decided that he preferred the Westcountry – moving to Devon in 1983 (with some input from his parents).
After an expensive (and possibly wasted) education there, he has worked variously as a postman, a framer, and a print department manager (though if you are the only person in the department then can you really be called a manager?) all whilst continuing to play in every kind of band imaginable on most instruments you can think of.

His debut novel, Weekend Rockstars, was published in August 2016 to favourable reviews and his second The Craft Room (a very dark comedy concerning death through misadventure) came out in August 2017. He is currently in editing hell with the third.

Social Media Links –

https://www.facebook.com/daveholwill100

https://twitter.com/daveholwill

https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/15584279.Dave_Holwill

https://www.instagram.com/dave_holwill/

http://davedoesntwriteanythingever.blogspot.com/

 

 

 

 

Today I’m excited to be taking part in this blog tour:
Synopsis

1934: a doctor struggles with belief, mortality and murder. A novel inspired by real events

John M. Bischoffberger is a Pennsylvanian doctor adrift in the relative wilds of Maine during the dying years of the great depression. Struggling with a loss of religious faith and retreating from painful memories of The Great War, John has married and set up practice in the town of Naples.

As Medical Examiner for Cumberland County, it is also John’s job to investigate deaths that occur under unusual or suspicious circumstances. Yet as he goes about his work, he begins to suspect that the deaths he is called upon to document are in fact far from routine.

Against his better judgement, he becomes convinced that an uneasy alliance of three itinerants is going about the county, killing. An old woman, a little girl and a thin man are fulfilling some strange and unspoken duty, drowning, suffocating, hanging and the like, men, women and children; each of the three harbouring a profound distrust of the other two, yet still this queer confederacy press on with their murderous work.

John confides in local outsider Joseph, an older man who becomes John’s only outlet for his impossible fears. All the while the three continue to kill, and the deaths seem to be drawing closer to John: others who may suspect foul play, then acquaintances of John, then perhaps friends, even family members.

As the storm clouds of a new world war gather in Europe, and John’s rationality slowly unravels, he must find a way to disprove what he has reluctantly come to believe, or to confirm his worst fears and take steps to end the killing spree of the three in the woods, whatever the cost.

With a narrative switching between the doctor and the trio of murderers, and inspired by, and including, genuine accounts made by the real Dr John M. Bischoffberger in his medical journal between 1934 and 1941, The Thirty Five Timely & Untimely Deaths of Cumberland County weaves about them a fictional and dreamlike story of faith, community, and how we deal with life in the shadow of mortality.

My review

This is an unusual,  emotive and ambitious book, which is an enthralling combination in this author’s hands. It all begins quite straightforwardly, with switches between narrators keeping us intrigued. There are also actual historical documents incorporated in the text, which is a fascinating and effective facet to the book.

As the various strands begin to weave themselves ever tighter together the novel becomes quite complex. Not complicated, but you need to concentrate a bit. As Dr Bischoffberger begins to slide into confusion, it becomes more of a challenging read, but you’ll be rewarded for your effort.

It’s definitely a haunting book, slightly uncomfortable almost, and certainly powerful. It’s one that stays with you once you’ve finished reading. I found much of the imagery very striking. A character is described as “like a shout you can see”, another  suffers the “hue and cry” of life. There are numerous superb images that make you think, ‘Oh my goodness, that’s so true! Why have I never thought of that.’ The author is also a poet and this shines through in the pictures he creates with his words.

There is so much you can say about this book, so many levels that it works on, but I think the best thing is to discover it for yourself. Reading a few things that the author has said about it will also be useful and tantalising.

 

The author talks about his book:

How did you come up with the idea for the book?

Some years ago, on my thirtieth birthday, my then girlfriend (now wife) decided that I should collect something and knowing me as she did, she decided that what I should collect was antique medical equipment. To this day I have a lovely cabinet of wonderful and grotesque… things, of varying archaic medical use and brutal if utilitarian aesthetic.

However, one day while searching the internet for something to add to my collection, she came across Bischoffberger’s Medical Examiner’s Record. A large hardcover book, a ledger of deaths stretching from 1934 to 1954, the record instantly drew me in. As I read, my previous disparate ideas and abortive attempts at the story coalesced into a whole (albeit a strange one) and the novel began to take shape in my mind.

 

How would you describe the 35 Deaths?

It’s not so much a historical novel as a novel based on real events and featuring some real people but which takes those incidents and characters and imposes a fictional, even fantastical, framework upon them.

 

Who has influenced you in the writing of this novel?  I’d say the novel’s biggest influences are probably Cormac McCarthy and David Lynch, though I’m not sure it’s that much like either of them; but I suppose every writer’s work is a conglomeration of their own influences, visible or not.

 

How did you go about researching Maine in the 1930s? This is the first piece I’ve written that is even close to being historical in setting and so, beyond the reading of the medical record itself, I had to embark on more research than ever before. The joy of research is that, no matter what, you will find incredible and unexpected things, many of which seem almost tailor made to fit into your narrative.

I found local history books online, sourced period maps of the area (I also used Google Earth a lot!) and even managed to find a book of historical photographs of the region; I cannot deny a slight shiver running through me upon finding within this book a picture of Doctor Bischoffberger himself looking back at me.

 

About the author

Photos by Sin Bozkurt©

Following his poem Fireworks Fireworks Bang Bang Bang at the age of six, Mason eventually took the whole writing thing a little more seriously, graduating in 2009 from London Metropolitan University, having received first class honours in Creative Writing.

In his second year, he won the Sandra Ashman award for his poem Mother Theresa in the Winner’s Enclosure.

He has subsequently had work published in Succour magazine and Brand magazine.

Mason is currently working on a number of writing projects, as well as developing his next novel.

In addition to this, he writes, co-produces and hosts the award-winning monthly cabaret night The Double R Club (as Benjamin Louche, winner of “Best Host” at the London Cabaret Awards). He also worked as a performer on Star Wars: The Force Awakens & The Last Jedi.

Mason is a trustee of East London charity Cabaret vs Cancer.

He lives in East London with his wife, a cat called Monkey, and a collection of antique medical equipment.

 

Social media links

Website: https://www.masonball.co.uk

Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/MasonBall

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/MasonBallAuthor 

Twitter: https://twitter.com/masonballauthor

Synopsis

While staying in a Dorset cottage, Hugh Mullion finds a mysterious key down the side of an antique chair.  No one can say how long the key has been there or what it opens.

Hugh’s search for answers will unlock the secrets of the troubled life of a talented artist, destined to be hailed a neglected genius fifty years too late.  And no secret is darker than that of The Amber Maze, from whose malign influence he never escaped.

The trail takes Hugh from Edwardian Oxfordshire to 1960s Camden Town, where the ghosts of the past are finally laid to rest.

Delicately crafted noir fiction at its best.

 

My review

This novel is an intriguing and erudite mystery. More noir than cozy, it’s a thoughtful, intelligent story. There’s definite menace and a lurking threat, embodied by the maze that is the symbol of Assendene Court. You get a hint of that from the cover: what exactly is round that next bend

Our protagonist Hugh plunges into a maze of investigation. Progress is slow and cautious to start with, but gains momentum. However, there are wrong turns and dead ends. But like a determined terrier, once he’s got his teeth into this mystery he’s not going to let go. There’s an old box, paintings, a journal belonging to underrated artist Lionel Pybus and the amber maze itself of Assendene Court that all need investigating and, let’s move to a jigsaw analogy now, piecing together.

It’s nice to have a male protagonist, since this type of more literary and less violent mystery is generally the preserve of female sleuths, and a slightly more mature one too. He’s not a perfect person – he’s definitely on the obsessive side, can’t let things go. He’s sharp, curious, personable, and he works well with a number of knowledgeable people to delve deeper into this mystery. He’s methodical, almost a little plodding, but that just means we can keep up with events clearly and  understand exactly what’s going on.

His life partner, Kate, is a perfect foil for him. She’s more impulsive and upbeat, equally likeable and sharp, and is drawn into Hugh’s investigation despite herself. She’s very supportive. She’s just one of a compelling cast of characters that accompany Hugh through the story, all rounded and interesting.

Despite Hugh’s meticulous approach to his investigation, the story progresses steadily, gaining momentum, and the book is a real page-turner. You keep wanting to know what next, fascinating snippet he’ll uncover and how it will fit in with what we know so far.

A delightful and rewarding read.

 

Purchase links:

Amazon UKhttps://www.amazon.co.uk/dp/0955506751

Amazon US – https://www.amazon.com/Amber-Maze-Christopher-Bowden-ebook/dp/B07FRH481F/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1532280455&sr=1-1&keywords=the+amber+maze

Waterstones https://www.waterstones.com/book/the-amber-maze/christopher-bowden/9780955506758

Smashwordshttps://www.smashwords.com/books/view/880652

 

About the author

Christopher Bowden lives in south London. The Amber Maze is the sixth of his colour-themed novels, which have been praised variously by Andrew Marr, Julian Fellowes, Sir Derek Jacobi, and Shena Mackay. 

Social media links

https://www.facebook.com/christopher.bowden.90

Keep following this book’s blog tour, and catch up with what you might have missed so far!

 

Happy publication day to author S R Wilsher!

Synopsis of The Glass Diplomat

In 1973 Chile, as General Augusto Pinochet seizes power, thirteen-year-old English schoolboy Charlie Norton watches his father walk into the night and never return. Taken in by diplomat, Tomas Abrego, his life becomes intricately linked to the family.

Despite his love for the Abrego sisters, he’s unable to prevent Maria falling under the spell of a left-wing revolutionary, or Sophia from marrying the right-wing Minister of Justice.

His connection to the family is complicated by the growing impression that Tomas Abrego was somehow involved in his father’s disappearance.

As the conflict of a family divided by politics comes to a head on the night of the 1989 student riots, Charlie has to act to save the sisters from an enemy they cannot see.

 

My Review

From a dictator in my last book review on this book blog to a diplomat, who serves under a dictator. But this diplomat is a glass diplomat. That’s certainly an interesting concept that gets you thinking even before you start reading the book. Glass as an adjective suggests fragility or transparence, but also hints that, once broken, sharp and dangerous edges are left that can do harm.

The diplomat in question is Tomas Abrego, who takes our hero, Charlie, under his wing.

The background is that Charlie’s father owns a factory in Santiago, and spends more and more time there. Charlie goes to join him from England during school holidays. During one visit some menacing men in suits and soldiers visit. Charlie overhears his father refusing to turn his factory over to the manufacture of military items. Not long after Charlie’s father disappears and this is when Tomas Abrego steps in. Tomas has two daughters, Maria and Sophia, and from now on the lives of the three  young people become firmly interwoven.

This novel is strongly character driven, and we meet some fascinating personalities in the book. Good or bad, they’re all flawed, all human, all very convincing. Each reflects their culture, and each has their own set of judgement values. What’s right for one is wrong for another.

Charlie’s life is something of a balancing act. He walks along a knife-edge where the two cultures of Chile and the West meet. It’s also where two families meet, his own and his ‘adopted’ one. He treads carefully between the two sisters too.

Charlie develops throughout the  novel as he gradually gains full understanding of what is going on around him. Early on he is slow to react, and there are losses as a result. But later he becomes decisive, assured and confident in his own morality and with his new philosophy. He remains vulnerable, however, and is a sympathetic but admirable figure, one we quickly warm to and continue to care about.

And what of Tomas, our diplomat? Charlie, at his mercy to begin with, ends up being the one with the power. Tomas has manipulated others all his life, mainly with threats and acts of violence, but eventually he is the one manipulated. His power is finally shattered like glass.

This is a totally absorbing novel, throwing stark light on what happens in dictatorships. Diplomacy has a rather different meaning.

Purchase Links

Amazon UK – https://www.amazon.co.uk/Glass-Diplomat-S-R-Wilsher-ebook/dp/B07G3J165Y

Amazon US – https://www.amazon.com/Glass-Diplomat-S-R-Wilsher-ebook/dp/B07G3J165Y

 

Author Bio

It didn’t occur to me to write until I was twenty-two, prompted by reading a disappointing book by an author I’d previously liked. I wrote thirty pages of a story I abandoned because it didn’t work on any level. I moved on to a thriller about lost treasure in Central America; which I finished, but never showed to anyone. Two more went the way of the first, and I forgave the author.

After that I became more interested in people-centric stories. I also decided I needed to get some help with my writing, and studied for a degree with the OU. I chose Psychology partly because it was an easier sell to my family than Creative Writing. But mainly because it suited the changing tastes of my writing. When I look back, so many of my choices have been about my writing.

I’ve been writing all my adult life, but nine years ago I had a kidney transplant which interrupted my career, to everyone’s relief. It did mean my output increased, and I developed a work plan that sees me with two projects on the go at any one time. Although that has taken a hit in recent months as I’m currently renovating a house and getting to know my very new granddaughter.

I write for no other reason than I enjoy it deeply. I like the challenge of making a story work. I get a thrill from tinkering with the structure, of creating characters that I care about, and of manipulating a plot that unravels unpredictably, yet logically. I like to write myself into a corner and then see how I can escape. To me, writing is a puzzle I like to spend my time trying to solve.

Social Media Links –

Twitter: @srwilsher

Website: http://www.srwilsher.com

Follow the rest of The Glass Diplomat’s tour:

Synopsis: lies and misdirection rule the game

To some, Fiona O’Dell is clever and manipulative. To others, she is a dangerous sociopath. One thing is certain – she’s trouble wherever she goes. Now she has vanished from her job, but not before being seen leaving a motel room where one man is found dead, another on the edge of death. Is this grizzly crime scene a BDSM encounter gone wrong? Or is it related to a company data breach where all three are employed?

Private security expert Lee Stone and NYPD Detective Belle Hughes are assigned to the case. In a race to find Fiona, they track her across four states and shocked to find men from her past are being murdered. With little information and even less evidence, each new crime scene brings more questions than answers.

While secrets are revealed, there is only one conclusion: Fiona controls the game, the players, even the course of the investigation. The danger escalates, and the game must be mastered, or all fall victim to it. As Lee and Belle struggle to put all the pieces together, the two investigators find their relationship heats up as they are drawn to each other. Looking for a murder mystery with a feisty female detective that’s filled with twists and turns? Explore The Last Lie She Told for a thrill ride that leaves you guessing until the end.

My review

This is a really polished and contemporary mystery novel. As well as the elusive Fiona, ex-cop Lee and Belle, mentioned in the blurb, there are two other characters we need to know about. First is Jackson, who has left the FBI and established his own security firm. Money’s been tight so he’s allowed Mary to buy an interest in the firm. Mary, the second person in question, is an elderly lady. She’s a fantastic character, surprisingly lively, quick-witted and astute. She’s a tough cookie but she has a soft side and is eager to find a love match for her colleague, Lee.

Jackson’s friend Benjamin Hightower comes to him with a case to solve. And to do so, Fiona must be found. Thus the hunt for her begins and we are plunged into the investigation which goes along all sorts of blind alleys and takes plenty of wrong turns before it reaches its tantalising conclusion.

The novel is written in the first person from the point of every main character in the book. This works really well, and adds depth and interest as we can compare and contrast what each person says about themselves with what the others tell us. This fits in very well with the general theme of things not being quite as they seem: there’s one than one side to every story.

The book is a true page-turner. The action isn’t always breathlessly fast but there’s a sense of increasing momentum as the story unfolds. The complex plot is very clever and there’s a lot to think about as you read. It’s an absorbing and hugely entertaining novel, and what’s best of all it’s only the first in a series so there will be more similar treats to come.

 

Purchase Links

Amazon.com https://www.amazon.com/dp/B07FBSY51Y

Amazon UK  – https://www.amazon.co.uk/dp/B07FBSY51Y

The Last Lie She Told is 99p/c for until the 14th August.

Author Bio – K. J. McGillick was born in New York and once she started to walk she never stopped running. But that’s what New Yorker’s do. Right?

As she evolved so did her career choices. After completing her graduate degree in nursing she spent many years in the university setting sharing the dreams of the enthusiastic nursing students she taught. After twenty rewarding years in the medical field she attended law school and has spent the last twenty-four years as an attorney helping people navigate the turbulent waters of the legal system. Not an easy feat. And now? Now she is sharing the characters she loves with readers hoping they are intrigued by her twisting and turning plots and entertained by her writing.

Social Media Links – https://www.facebook.com/KJMcGillickauthor/

Kathleen McGillick

@KJMcGillickAuth

http://www.kjmcgillick.com/

https://twitter.com/KJMcGillickAuth

11th – 13th August –  Three: Deception  Love Murder also by K.J. McGilick will be FREE

https://www.amazon.co.uk/gp/product/B078VFT9PJ