Guest Post ~ Blog Tour ~ Without Rules by Andrew Field.

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

Guest Post

I’m delighted to welcome author Andrew Field to booksaremycwtches with a fascinating guest post about the rules about writing.

Rules of Writing — should they be explored or ignored?

We’re always looking for an edge in life, that little competitive advantage that helps us perform better. High achieving sportsmen will often go to apparently ridiculous lengths. US Open tennis champion Novak Djokovic, Olympic swimmer Michael Phelps and the world’s best footballer Cristiano Ronaldo all use a hyperbaric chamber to pump 100% oxygen into their bodies to speed up their recovery from their exertions.
Authors are no exception, although their methods are a lot more mundane than spending an hour or more lying in a highly pressurised tank breathing in pure O2.
For many writers, one trick is to look at critically acclaimed, best-selling authors they admire and replicate what they do as writers and people — although that strategy has obvious drawbacks.
Screenwriting lecturer Robert McKee once told me that if he wanted to learn to play golf, he’d find a golf coach with the exact same build, height and weight and ask him to teach him to copy his swing. Great advice — until you decide you want to be the next James Ellroy. The self-confessed demon dog of American crime fiction and author of the brilliant American Tabloid, bragged about how, as a young man, he broke into the houses of girls he admired so he could sniff their knickers. Great for generating column inches but a conversation killer when you’re introduced to the in-laws.
The reality is there are no rules for good writing except those you already follow because of the way you work and live your life.
Rules are very personal and idiosyncratic. What applies to one writer won’t necessarily apply to another. Chances are you’re pretty set in your ways so adopting new behaviours, styles and attitudes will be a distraction. If you like writing late at night, chances are you won’t want to change to writing first thing as advised by Hilary Mantel, quoting Dorothea Brande. If you like to constantly edit as you write (like I do), Will Self’s recommendation not to look back until you’ve written the whole first draft is going to fall on deaf ears. And if you’ve always written on a keyboard you won’t necessarily want to swap to writing long hand using pen and paper as suggested by Annie Proulx (I do both).
The rules of other writers are interesting only because you like their work and their public personas — just like it is fun to speculate who is the best heavyweight boxer without ever being able to draw a definitive conclusion. Fave authors of mine — including Elmore Leonard, Kurt Vonnegut and Roddy Doyle — published their own rules, alongside many others, in the Guardian part one, part two).
The rules that resonate receive a knowing nod of approval — the ones that don’t are dispensed to the trash bin.
Here are six of my favourites with my comments added after the author brackets.

Do not place a photograph of your favourite author on your desk, especially if the author is one of the famous ones who committed suicide (Roddy Doyle) … See James Ellroy, knicker-sniffing, conversation stoppers at parties etc etc … Ernest Hemingway, Virginia Woolf, Sylvia Plath, Hunter S Thompson and Yukio Mishima spring to mind as well.
Never use the words “suddenly” or “all hell broke loose.” (Elmore Leonard) … I have studiously avoided the word ‘suddenly’ ever since this rule first leapt out at me … it stands out like a sore thumb when I see others liberally sprinkle it about.
In the planning stage of a book, don’t plan the ending (Rose Tremain) … one of the reasons why so many endings in books and films are disappointing … evolution is organic …
Don’t try to anticipate an “ideal reader” — except for yourself perhaps, sometime in the future (Joyce Carol Oates) … who do I write for? Myself, if I don’t like it, how can I expect anyone else to invest their time and money …
Never take advice from anyone with no investment in the outcome (David Hare). … if you reacted to every bad review, you’d never go near a keyboard or a pen …. however, if it is valid think about it … I wrote Wicked Games (what became the first third of Without Rules) without speech marks … The chap with wrote No Country for Old Man did the same but he was Cormac McCarthy and I wasn’t …
The main rule of writing is that if you do it with enough assurance and confidence, you’re allowed to do whatever you like. (That may be a rule for life as well as for writing. But it’s definitely true for writing.) So write your story as it needs to be written. Write it honestly, and tell it as best you can. I’m not sure that there are any other rules. Not ones that matter. (Neil Gaiman) … assurance and confidence comes with writing lots and honing your craft and skills. For Novak, Cristiano and Michael, the hyperbaric chamber is the icing on the cake. They would never have become brilliant at what they do without the relentless effort, practice and commitment to their sport! Which is probably the only other rule that matters — a bloody good work ethic.

You can purchase  Without Rules from Amazon UK and US.

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About Andrew Field

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Andrew Field has spent most of his working life as a PR and marketing consultant helping raise the profiles of others. Now the roles are reversed as he steps into the spotlight as the author of Without Rules, a crime thriller about vulnerable people forced to do bad things to escape evil people. “Authors, by the nature of what they do, are relatively introverted. They work in isolation. Inhabit imaginary worlds of their own creation. They can spend ages staring at a computer screen bringing their characters to life. Then they have to become a different person to promote their work and market themselves. Writing is the easy part compared to the marketing, especially when crime fiction has become a very crowded marketplace.”
“From my point of view, professional PR people operate best from behind the scenes. They should never become the story otherwise you’re deflecting attention away from the messages you’re trying to communicate,” says Andrew. “The New Labour experiment, for example, was doomed the minute Tony Blair’s media guru Alistair Campbell generated his own headlines. Bragged about ‘spin’. Believed his own hype. Ditto Anthony “The Mooch” Scaramucci’s 10-day tenure as the shortest-serving White House communications director in history – and his “off the record” expletive-ridden rant about his colleagues in Donald Trump’s White House.”
As a PR, Andrew memorably handled Boddingtons Bitter during its “Cream of Manchester” heyday, developing innovative sports and cultural media partnerships with newspapers and TV stations for the beer brand – but also PR’d a fashion entrepreneur who was a convicted armed bank robber and a property developer who did eighteen months prison time for blackmail. “Having a diverse range of clients keeps it interesting. They are all different but the core requirement is to be seen as a believable and trusted information source ready to take advantage of PR opportunities as and when they arise. As a novelist, you look to do exactly the same with your work and yourself.”
“The catalyst for Without Rules was a friend testifying against her father in an abuse case. Although the prosecution was successful, she can never really escape the consequences of what happened to her. She has to find a way of coping for the rest of her life while he was sentenced to two and half years.”
Andrew says crime fiction has a duty to try and educate and as well as entertain. “The memorable books are the ones you’re still thinking about 48-hours after you finished reading.”
Andrew lives, works and plays in Manchester, England, Europe, with his partner, Catherine. He has been a trade journalist in Southampton in his youth. He owned a PR agency in the nineties and early noughties and is now an independent PR, marketing and publishing consultant looking forward to the challenge of becoming the story with the publication of Without Rules.

You can follow the author on TwitterFacebook.

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Review ~ Blog Tour ~ Trap by Lilia Sigurdardottir.

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Happily settled in Florida, Sonja believes she’s finally escaped the trap set by unscrupulous drug lords. But when her son Tomas is taken, she’s back to square one … and Iceland. Her lover, Agla, is awaiting sentencing for financial misconduct after the banking crash, and Sonja refuses to see her. And that’s not all … Agla owes money to some extremely powerful men, and they’ll stop at nothing to get it back. With her former nemesis, customs officer Bragi, on her side, Sonja puts her own plan into motion, to bring down the drug barons and her scheming ex-husband, and get Tomas back safely. But things aren’t as straightforward as they seem, and Sonja finds herself caught in the centre of a trap that will put all of their lives at risk…Set in a Reykjavík still covered in the dust of the Eyjafjallajökull volcanic eruption, and with a dark, fast-paced and chilling plot and intriguing characters, Trap is an outstandingly original and sexy Nordic crime thriller, from one of the most exciting new names in crime fiction.

 

A tense thriller with a highly unusual plot and interesting characters’ Marcel Berlins, The Times

 

‘Tense, edgy and delivering more than a few unexpected twists and turns’ The Times Crime Club Star Pick

 

‘With characters you can’t help sympathising with against your better judgement, Sigurdardottir takes the reader on a breathtaking ride’ Daily Express

 

‘The intricate plot is breathtakingly original, with many twists and turns you never see coming. Thriller of the year’ New York Journal of Book

Review

I would like to thank the author, publisher and blog tour organiser Ann Cater for the ARC in return for an honest review.

Following on from the fantastic Snare, Trap is the continuation of the story of Sonja who had escaped from the control of the drug lords and her sometimes lover Alga, a banker who owes money to some extremely powerful men.

Firstly I have to say that if you haven’t read Snare, the first featuring these characters, then to make the most of this wonderful series of books you should. I promise you reading both, is worth every second of your reading time!

When a read a sequel, I want it to develop and continue the story, Lilja Sigurdardottir does this by developing the narrative and the characters we have already come to love reading about. As readers she wraps us in the same complex and dark world of drug lords, mules and corrupt bankers, so that we are as immersed in the mire as they are, leaving us scared, shocked and fearful at the ease at which the trap can be sprung. Seriously you begin to wonder, could this happen to any of us? It’s this, which explains why this book is such an original and exciting read. It could be any of us, trapped in a nightmare of drugs and corruption, simply my making one mistake, taking one misstep! She creates a strange and complex world where drug smuggling and financial misdeeds are interconnected, you are never sure about the intricacies that join the two worlds, but you just know that it’s laced with danger. With every page you read, your tension levels rise. I felt on edge throughout, as trapped as the characters and that is a remarkable thing to achieve in a work of fiction.

I know character wise, you’re not meant to like people that don’t behave well, but I love them. There I admit it, I like both Alga and Sonja. Alga in particular has a skewed ethical code, yet I find myself liking her, flawed that she is, troubled and confused, I feel a connection that can’t be denied and that is down to the quality of the writing. Then there is dear, sweet Bragi who does what he does for love, corrupt as it is, you know that events drive his actions. As for Sonja, I say again, the behaviour of others compel her activities after the trap ensnares her. She is not perfect, but, in some ways her actions are as driven by love as Bragi’s. I struggle to imagine, a more perfect set of characters and I hope this is not the last we hear of them.

This is a superb thriller and deserves to be on the reading list of all book lovers, not just thriller aficionados. Character and plot wise it works on all levels.

Special mention must go to the translator Quentin Bates who yet again has ensured we hear the author’s voice with perfect clarity.

You can purchase Trap from Amazon and Waterstones.

 

About the author

Lilja Sigurðard.

Icelandic crime-writer Lilja Sigurdardóttir was born in the town of Akranes in 1972 and raised in Mexico, Sweden, Spain and Iceland. An award-winning playwright, Lilja has written four crime novels, with Snare, the first in a new series, hitting bestseller lists worldwide. The film rights have been bought by Palomar Pictures in California. Lilja has a background in education and has worked in evaluation and quality control for preschools in recent years. She lives in Reykjavík with her partner.

You can follow the author on Twitter

About the translator

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Quentin Bates escaped English suburbia as a teenager, jumping at the chance of a gap year working in Iceland. For a variety of reasons, the gap year stretched to become a gap decade, during which time he went native in the north of Iceland, acquiring a new language a new profession as a seaman and a family, before decamping en masse for England. He worked as a truck driver, teacher, netmaker and trawlerman at various times before falling into journalism, largely by accident. He is the author of a series of crime novels set in present-day Iceland (Frozen Out, Cold Steal, Chilled to the Bone, Winterlude, Cold Comfort and Thin Ice which have been published worldwide. He has translated all of Ragnar Jónasson’s Dark Iceland series.

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Promo ~Blog Tour ~A Stain On The Soul by

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A Stain on the Soul

Resigned to another lifetime of being a witch’s familiar, Caitlyn has found a degree of peace in her role as the Duke of Normandy’s protector and spy.
But that peace is shattered when she returns to her native land only to come face-to-face with her past, and fall in love with a man who she desperately hopes will become her future.

About the author

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Elizabeth Davies is a paranormal author, whose books have a romantic flavour with more than a hint of suspense. And death. There’s usually death…

You can follow the author on her Website, TwitterFacebook and Instagram.

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Review ~ Blog Tour ~ Dear Mr Pop Star by Derek & Dave Philpott.

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A collection of hilarious letters to iconic pop and rock stars with fantastic in-on-the-joke replies from the artists themselves: Eurythmics, Heaven 17, Deep Purple, Devo, Dr. Hook and many, many more…

For more than a decade, Derek Philpott and his son, Dave, have been writing deliberately deranged letters to pop stars from the 1960s to the 90s to take issue with the lyrics of some of their best-known songs. They miss the point as often as they hit it.

But then, to their great surprise, the pop stars started writing back…

Dear Mr Pop Star contains 100 of Derek and Dave’s greatest hits, including correspondence with Katrina and the Waves, Tears for Fears, Squeeze, The Housemartins, Suzi Quatro, Devo, Deep Purple, Nik Kershaw, T’Pau, Human League, Eurythmics, Wang Chung, EMF, Mott the Hoople, Heaven 17, Jesus Jones, Johnny Hates Jazz, Carter the Unstoppable Sex Machine, Chesney Hawkes and many, many more.

Review

I would like to thank the  author’s and the publisher’s for the ARC in return for an honest review.

Now I must admit, music is not a passion of mine and I was worried I wouldn’t appreciate this quirky book. It’s a credit to the writer’s that I really enjoyed it. It was funny, original and very entertaining.

Taking a clever play on the songs of some incredible lyrics, the author’s penned witty and clever letters to bands and received some equally funny replies. Even though I hadn’t heard of many of the band’s, I still really enjoyed the clever use of the lyrics and wit of the letter writers.  I loved the way I made me smile and reminded me of the charming power of letter writing. It was at its best when band members replied and both are included.

The passion and love of the writer’s for the pop songs the are honouring shines through on the pages. Both authors are incredible letter writers in their own rights and this is what makes the book such enjoyable read.

If you love pop music, you will love this book!

You can purchase Dear Mr Pop Star from Amazon

About the author’s

Derek and Dave Philpott are the noms de plume of two ordinary members of the public, working with help from a worldwide social networking community.

You can follow the authors on Twitter

 

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Extract ~Blog Tour~ The Adventures of Isbelle Necessary by Martii MacLean. Illustrated by Sharon Clark.

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The Adventures of Isabelle Necessary

One gutsy eleven-year-old, a cool beach town, a hilarious crew of friends and oodles of adventures.
Once upon a beach, there was a girl called Isabelle Necessary. A girl with an unusual name and a rather extraordinary life. She roams around a sleepy beach town with her loyal team of friends. Follow Isabelle, Tammy, David, Nin, Draino the cat and Champ the wonder dog as they navigate one sticky situation after another and figure out how to turn a frog into a movie star, deal with a never-ending milkshake and escape being trapped in a lighthouse.
The type of book that brings back childhood memories and captures the essence of being a free-spirited kid.
Perfect for teachers and educators as the book comes with a teacher’s resource guide and student maker kit by Isabelle Necessary herself. Middle-grade reading level.

Extract

Here is an excerpt from chapter twelve, “Isabelle Necessary goes Horse Riding.” In this story, Isabelle goes horseback riding with her friends, Tammy and Nin, and a very serious riding instructor named Peony.
The ponies whinnied. They flicked their ears and stamped their feet. The girls stamped their feet and giggled while Peony wasn’t looking.
‘All right, ladies, let’s get you into the saddle. Hold the neck and the saddle like this, and then put your left boot … oh, well, put whatever those shoes are into the stirrup and heft yourselves up, swinging your right leg over the saddle.’
Isabelle tried, but it was such a long way up to the saddle. She put her left foot in the stirrup and bounced up and down on her right foot, but she could only get halfway up. Nin was bouncing, too, and Tammy couldn’t remember which foot went where. Isabelle got the giggles.
‘You there, Tammy, is it?’ Peony said to Tammy, ‘you’ve got the wrong foot in the stirrup. Oh dear, beach folk.’ She went to each girl and gave her an annoyed shove up into the saddle.
Oh dear, beach folk, the girls mouthed to each other when they were in the saddle.
It was such a long way up from the ground and the ponies wriggled a little. It was very different from being on a bicycle, but the girls thought it was so exciting.
‘Hold your reins thusly,’ said Peony from where she sat on her horse, Misty. ‘My perfect ponies are very well trained and they’re used to helping novices, so don’t be worried, they will do all the thinking. Now just give them a little dig in the ribs and we’ll be off.’

The ponies started walking and the girls all squealed with delight.
‘How cool!’
‘This is excellent!’
‘Epic!’
‘Well, yes, ladies, riding is wonderful, and unlike the beach, you have no need to get all gritty, grotty, wet and uncouth.’
‘I feel more couth already,’ whispered Tammy.

The three girls followed behind Peony, but they were so busy taking turns imitating the snobbish Peony that they didn’t see the thin branches covered in dark shiny leaves hanging low across the sandy bush track ahead.
Nin was the first to be caught. She squealed with surprise as the leaves flicked her face like a crazy green flyswatter. She tried to duck under the branch, but all she did was release the tension on the branch. It swung back and flicked Isabelle and Tammy. There was even more squealing. The girls wriggled and jumped about in their saddles.
‘Do I have spiders on me?’ Nin called out.
‘I’m sure I can feel a spider on my neck.’ She rocked and wobbled on top of her pony, trying to turn around and swat her imaginary spider.
The three ponies were bunching together because the girls had stopped giving them any directions.
Isabelle checked Nin’s back. ‘I don’t see any spiders.’
‘But you do have a big spider’s web on your helmet,’ said Tammy.
‘Then there must be a spider there, too,’ said Nin. ‘Can you see it? What kind is it?’
‘No spiders,’ said Isabelle. ‘Truly.’
They stayed bunched together, double- and triple-checking for spiders. The ponies were bumping into each other. They were snorting and stomping, and their ears were twitching.
‘What on earth is this fuss about?’ scolded
Peony as she swung Misty around and came back to glare at the girls. ‘A good horsewoman pays attention to her surroundings, and she does not let go of her pony’s reins.’ Peony’s face was crimson.
She pulled the ponies free of the tangle and urged them forward again. ‘Girls, try to concentrate or you will never become horsewomen.’
Peony huffed and faced forward again, nudging her horse’s sides lightly with her boots. The ponies trotted along behind her, making the girls plop up and down in the saddle, and wobble around like jelly.
‘Bikes are much easier,’ said Isabelle, ‘and less jiggly.’
‘That’s because you’re not a horsewoman,’ said Tammy in a posh voice, mimicking Peony.
‘Horsewoman—part girl, part horse, defender of Saggy Beach,’ Isabelle said in a loud whisper.
They all laughed as they followed Peony down the sloping trail.
‘We’re going to stop and give the ponies a little drink at the creek,’ Peony announced. She stopped at the pebbly creek bank. ‘My babies will be awfully thirsty after all this … fussiness.’
The girls tried to look sensible.
‘Now, ladies, we’re going to dismount and give the ponies a little rest. Just try to do what I tell you and no one should fall.’ She gave the girls instructions for getting down from their saddles. With some sliding and flopping, they managed to get to the ground safely.
‘Beach folk,’ chided Peony.
She was so busy rolling her eyes at the three girls that she didn’t notice Misty, impatient for a drink, stretching her head down to reach the cool creek water. Peony was, of course, holding Misty’s reins firmly because she was a very good horsewoman. Misty stretched her neck, but couldn’t reach the cool, rippling water. She was very thirsty, so she pulled even harder.
Peony was yanked forward and tumbled headfirst into the swirling creek water. Misty snuffed impatiently at the splash Peony made as she hit the water, moved her head away and started drinking quietly.

You can purchase it from Amazon UK and Amazon US

About the author. 

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Martii Maclean lives in a tin shack by the sea, catching sea-gulls which she uses to make delicious pies, and writing weird stories. She likes going for long bicycle rides with her cat, who always wears aviator goggles to stop her whiskers blowing up into her eyes as they speed down to the beach to search for mermaid eggs. Or how about this…
Martii Maclean writes fantastical, adventurous tales for children and teens and sometimes adults. She was born in Sydney, Australia and now lives in Brisbane with her husband Trevor and her cat Minerva. Her work as an educator and librarian, allows her to share her love of stories and of story-telling with many young people. This inspires Martii to create thought-filled stories that explore the wonderful world of ‘what if’.

You can follow the author on TwitterInstagram and Facebook.

The Adventures of Isabel Necessary

Review ~ Blog Tour ~ Palm Beach Finland by Antti Tuomainen.

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Sex, lies and ill-fitting swimwear … Sun Protection Factor 100

Jan Nyman, the ace detective of the covert operations unit of the National Central Police, is sent to a sleepy seaside town to investigate a mysterious death. Nyman arrives in the town dominated by a bizarre holiday village – the ‘hottest beach in Finland’. The suspect: Olivia Koski, who has only recently returned to her old hometown. The mission: find out what happened, by any means necessary. With a nod to Fargo, and dark noir, Palm Beach, Finland is both a page-turning thriller and a black comedy about lust for money, fleeing dreams and people struggling at turning points in their lives – chasing their fantasies regardless of reason.

.. ‘Right up there with the best’ TLS

‘Deftly plotted, poignant and perceptive in its wry reflections on mortality and very funny’ Irish Times

‘Like the death cap mushroom, Tuomainen’s dark story manages to be as delicious as it is toxic’ Sunday Express

‘A roller-coaster read and extraordinarily poignant’ Guardian

‘A winner right from the first sentence … an offbeat jewel’ Publishers Weekly

‘A tightly paced Scandinavian thriller with a wicked sense of humour’ Foreword Reviews

‘Is it wrong that I really want to visit this Palm Beach even though its fictional and sit on an inflatable flamingo? Antti has one wicked sense of humour and this is no more apparent than in this book. It’s dark, humourous and darkly humourous. Palm Beach Finland is a destination you’ll want to have on your literary boarding pass this summer!’ The Book Trail

‘Finnish criminal chucklemeister Tuomainen is channelling Carl Hiaasen in this hilarious novel set in a bizarre Florida-style beach resort on Finland’s chilly shore. There are comically inept dim-crims, inventive psychos, a hot babe and even a blow-up pink flamingo — which is a lot for ace detective Jan Nyman to deal with when he arrives, undercover, to investigate a mysterious death.’ Palm Beach, Finland was recommended in the Times Crime Club. 

Review

Firstly I would like to thank the author, Publisher Orenda Books and blog tour organiser Anne Cater for the ARC in return for an honest review.

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Having read and LOVED Antii Tuomainen novel The Man Who Died, I have been looking forward to his next offering with great excitement. I can promise you fellow readers that the wait was worth it. This darkly funny and original tale is an utter triumph!

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There is a murder, a police officer sent to investigate, a victim, an assorted group of criminals and a failed beach resort. Now that sounds pretty much standard fair, but it is anything but formulaic. Antii Tuomainen takes the traditional elements expected in a thriller and adds in darkly delicious humour, to create a black comedy and an addictive page turner, I didn’t want to end.

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It’s compelling, clever, packed full of atmosphere and will make you beam with enjoyment, it will even make you laugh. Now I realise that most people don’t read thrillers to be amused, but that is what makes this book such a rich and rewarding read. It captures with perfect clarity the often farcical behaviour of those caught up in events in Palm Beach Finland. The humour gives it an edge and enhances the portrayal of human relationships at their worst, giving what would otherwise be overwhelmingly dark tale, an element of humanity. Humour can often be found in the darkest corners and Antii Tuomainen celebrates this aplomb.

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The novel is full of amazing characters, quirky individuals who each play a part in this very different thriller. Now I know you’re not meant to like the ‘bad’ guys, but bear with me, because I must confess, I adored them. Coco and Robert are a pair of life’s drifters, not great with the whole adult living thing and they are even worse criminals. I found myself wanting to hug them, because they are seriously incompetent. Then you have Jan Nyman the police officer working undercover to solve a murder, who is as lost and rudderless as the two unlucky criminals and immerses himself in his work to cover over the cracks in his life. Add in Olivia Koskia who is equally hapless at life, a psychopath bent on revenge and a inept business man and you have a stellar cast of characters who together are used by the author to write a character driven first class thriller.

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As for the story, it’s original, extraordinarily funny, sad, but also uplifting. It is also incredibly clever, in the way it weaves each character into the story and catching them up in a web of lies and deceit. The writer has taken a group of people all looking to change, chasing dreams that are fading from view and who in their desperation not to let go, leads them to actions they would otherwise deplore. When you’re reading, your caught up in the story and time just flaws past unnoticed. The characters become like old friends, you wish you could go back and visit again and again.

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I would recommend this book to all readers, not just thriller readers, because it is a real treat. From page one I was gripped in the human drama as it unfolded. I laughed, sometimes inappropriately and was also sad because I didn’t want it to end.

You can purchase Palm Beach Finland from Amazon and Waterstones.

About the author.

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Finnish Antti Tuomainen (b. 1971) was an award-winning copywriter when he made his literary debut in 2007 as a suspense author. The critically acclaimed My Brother’s Keeper was published two years later. In 2011 Tuomainen’s third novel, The Healer, was awarded the Clue Award for ‘Best Finnish Crime Novel of 2011’ and was shortlisted for the Glass Key Award. The Finnish press labeled The Healer – the story of a writer desperately searching for his missing wife in a post-apocalyptic Helsinki – ‘unputdownable’. Two years later in 2013 they crowned Tuomainen “The king of Helsinki Noir” when Dark as my Heart was published. With a piercing and evocative style, Tuomainen is one of the first to challenge the Scandinavian crime genre formula.

“Antti Tuomainen is a wonderful writer. His characters, plots and atmosphere are masterfully drawn” Yrsa Sigurdardottir

You can follow the author on Twitter

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Review ~ Blog Tour ~ Burning Secrets by Ruth Sutton.

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It’s the spring of 2001 and Foot & Mouth disease is raging across Cumbria.

Twelve-year-old Helen Heslop is forced to leave her family farm and move in with relatives in a nearby town because the strict quarantine means she can’t travel back and forth to school in case she inadvertently helps spread the disease.

As the authorities and the local farming communities try desperately to contain the outbreak, tensions run high and everyone’s emotions are close to the surface.

And then Helen disappears.

The police search expands all over the northwest coast where farms are barricaded and farming families have been plunged into chaos – not least the Hislop family, where potentially explosive fault lines are exposed.

Under the strain tensions build inside the police team too, where local DC Maureen Pritchard is caught between old school DI Bell and new broom DS Anna Penrose.

Will Helen survive? And can life for the Heslop family ever be the same, once burning secrets are discovered and old scores settled?

Review

I would like to thank the author, Fahrenheit Press and blog tour organiser Emma Welton for the ARC of Burning Secrets in return for an honest review.

Set during the horrors of Foot and Mouth disease that decimated the livelihoods of families that had been farming for generations, this thriller looks into the secrets that are hidden behind the facade of a loving family; a missing child and a police team at odds with each other, all of which add to the tensions that run through this novel.

Ruth Sutton has written a good story. Within the pages is a sense of dread at the fate of young Helen and with a villain that horrified and fascinated me in equal amounts. I loved that the was conflict hidden not just within Helen’s family , but also within the police team as well, because that fission meant I never knew if that sense of foreboding building up in me as I read, would ever ease. If both the family and those meant to help them were divided, how could there be any chance that Helen would survive? The writer has woven a complex tale that pits the two groups that should be working together against each other and it works really well.

The setting is very much part of the story, because it creates a background for the horror to come. Cumbria, normally beautiful is consumed by fire and disease. What were once open fields and gorgeous countryside was ravaged by the burning pyres of rotting corpses. People were trapped by a land that once provided a living, yet during the Foot and Mouth outbreak, isolation from friends and family bread paranoia and fear of outsiders. This setting gives the story its unique feel, equal parts terror and with a palatable feeling of paranoia and mistrust running through the story. As a reader you can feel this, can see a land and a family at odds to how we see the countryside in our minds eye. It gives the story a bleak edge and affected my feeling towards the story itself. Atmosphere is everything in a thriller and his book has shed loads that kept me reading.

The characterisation is spot on. The family are perfectly written as having a flaw running through them. The whole family fascinated me! The father perfectly portrayed as consumed by fear of the loss of his inheritance, is a heavy drinker and taken over by fits of maudlin self pity on one hand and angry determination on the other. The mother is the Chameleon personality in this story; she blends in with those around her, adapting her personality to those she is with. You’re never sure if she is good or bad, self serving or devoted mother. Then there is the ‘villain’, who is cruel, violent, but deeply troubled. You hate him for his actions, but part of you understands that he needs help as well as punishment. Then we have the police, who are professionally both talented and yet, dysfunctional as a unit. I like DC Maureen Prichard, who holds her own, despite being the outsider in an established team. Her fractious relationship with both DI Bell and DS Anna Penrose, is not displayed as perfect, but more like real working relationships, sometimes a well oiled machine, at others like a kindergarten full of sulking angry children.

If you want a ‘who done it’ where atmosphere comes from a national crisis, where the characters are like spiky , then Ruth Suttons Burning Secrets would be a good choice as your next purchase.

You can purchase Burning Secrets from Amazon

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About the author.

ruth sutton

Ruth is a very independent person, which – like many things – is good up to a point, but can get tricky sometimes. She lives in a very beautiful place, but it’s a long way to a cinema, or a big supermarket, and if the time comes when she can’t or doesn’t want to drive, she’ll have to move as there’s no public transport. She qualifies for a bus pass, but there aren’t any buses. Her daughter and her family live quite close by, and she loves to see her two grandchildren. After decades on her own, she has a partner whom she loves. They each have their own house, 40 minutes apart, and this life style suits them both. Ruth wrote her first novel after she was 60.

In addition, Ruth has self-published a trilogy entitled Between the Mountains and the Sea; A Good Liar tells the story of Jessie who risks career and independence with a love affair, whilst her secret past draws ever closer. Forgiven is set among the coal mines and fells of the Cumberland coast. Jessie’s struggle for happiness continues. Fallout features the nuclear disaster at Windscale, which brings a compelling stranger into Jessie’s world.

You can follow the author on Twitter

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Review ~Blog Tour ~ One Perfect Witness by Pat Young.

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One Perfect Witness
On a remote Scottish hillside, three paths meet. On each path, a boy, one carrying a gun.
When their paths cross, a shot is fired and a boy dies.
That leaves two – one killer and one perfect witness.
This killer will stop at nothing to make sure the witness says nothing. Difficult for most people, even for someone who’s been guarding a secret of his own for five years.
What if the witness decides he’s been silent too long? Sometimes even the unspeakable must be spoken, if we can find the words.
Review
I would like to thank the author, Bloodhound Books and blog tour organiser Sarah Hardy for the ARC of One Perfect Witness in return for an honest review.
This is a story about a murder, a killer and the witness. It’s a story about fear, control and mistakes. At its heart, it talks about the consequences of falsehoods and how the secrets we carry, can destroy us, if we bury our fears deep within ourselves.
There were many things to like about this psychological suspense thriller. First being the way the tension gripped you right from the start. The beginning of the book was faultless, setting the scene on which the whole book would ultimately revolve around, a death! From this, the story becomes about the consequences of a rash decision, a moment in time that sets of a chain of events that catches not just the killer and the witness in its web, but those around them. Pat Young cleverly gives a voice to the victim, whom I liked enough, so that the thought of anything happening to him, tied my stomach in knots of tension. The pressure builds from this, page to page, setting the pace for the rest of the book and there is no release from the ever growing sense of anxiety.
I have to say that I found the main protagonist a little irritating, but understandably so. He for me is meant to be a little annoying and needy, it’s what ultimately sets off the chain of events that leads to a death. It is a clever plot device by Pat Young because it makes him much more realistic. Eventually, as she builds the story, you come to feel a connection to a clever but troubled child. Then you have the ‘villain’ whom I despised, because he is a bully and a manipulator. It is hard to discuss him without spoiling the story, but he’s not your typical twisted villain and that gives him a unique quality which on times will have you hoping even he is capable of change, that underneath the self serving bully, is tiny sliver of humanity that will win out. So although I hated him, good villain to reader relationship there, I recognised he was capable of possible redemption. Pat Young cleverly manipulated my feelings towards with him, making it a more fascinating and complex read, because I never felt sure of what he was capable of, good and bad.
As well as all this, it is a great story and was for me a real page turner. Not a really fast read, more a story I savoured and one I didn’t want to finish. It was littered with unforeseen moments of tension that knocked me off balance on more than one occasion. I found myself thinking I knew exactly how it would end, but I wasn’t expecting what actually happened.
Would recommend this read to all readers who love a really well thought out thriller.
You can purchase One Perfect Witness from Amazon
About the author
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Pat Young grew up in the south west of Scotland where she still lives, sometimes. She often goes to the other extreme, the south west of France, in search of sunlight.
Pat never expected to be a writer. Then she found a discarded book with a wad of cash tucked in the flyleaf. ‘What if something awful happened to the person who lost this book?’ she thought, and she was off.
Pat knew nothing of writing, but she knew a thing or two about books, having studied English, French and German at Glasgow University. A passion for languages led to a career she loved and then a successful part-time business that allowed her some free-time, at last.
Pat had plans, none of which included sitting at her desk from daybreak till dusk. But some days she has to. Because there’s a story to be told. And when it’s done, she can go out to play. On zip-wires and abseil ropes, or just the tennis court.
Pat writes psychological thrillers. Her debut novel Till the Dust Settles, has been awarded the Scottish Association of Writers’ Constable Stag trophy. Following publication in July
2017 Pat was delighted to be chosen as an ‘emerging talent’ for Crime in the Spotlight and read from Till the Dust Settles to an audience at Bloody Scotland – another dream come true.
Published by Bloodhound Books, I Know Where You Live is the much-anticipated sequel to Pat’s gripping and unmissable debut thriller, Till the Dust Settles. It too is a psychological thriller with a skilfully told story that makes for an enjoyable stand alone read. It will hook you from the start.
One Perfect Witness, Pat’s third novel to be published, tells a completely new story. If, like Pat, you’re fascinated by what happens when someone disappears, you’ll enjoy this book of secrets, lies and deception
You can follow the author on Twitter.
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Review ~ Blog Tour ~ Review ~ Open Grave by A M Peacock.

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DCI Jack Lambert is no stranger to inner demons, having struggled with his own since the admission about his sexuality.

When two bodies are discovered in an open grave, Lambert must put his personal worries aside and work the case. But when the body of a local thug shows up on the banks of the River Tyne, the DCI’s criminal past comes back to haunt him.

Meanwhile, a local celebrity singer claims that she is being stalked. Could there be a link to the killings?

As the bodies start to pile up, Lambert realises the motive lies in the past and that the killer is taunting them.

The clock is ticking. Can he catch the murderer, or will one of their own end up in an open grave?

Review

I would like to thank the author, publisher Bloodhound Books and Blog Tour organiser Sarah Hardy for the ARC of this book in return for an honest review.

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Open Grave is a procedural police drama about DCI Jack Lambert who while dealing with the fallout after accepting he is gay, must race against time to stop a serial killer. It has added excitement, because it also pits him against a local crime lord and the demands of a local celebrity who claims she is being stalked.

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What I loved about this book was the exciting plot twists. It was a real page turner that left me feeling like I was trapped in a maze. The writer takes you down one way, only for it to turn out to be dead end and then whips you around and around until the final page of the novel. You never quite know where it is all going, but it is fun to take the journey! It was my favourite part of the book, the false turns in the story. It meant I could never get complacent about the narrative, was never able to smugly outwit the writer.

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If I had one small niggle and it is little, was that it had for me one too many story threads. I loved the murder investigation and Jacks criminal fast all fitted in perfectly. I just didn’t understand the need for a third story thread with the celebrity being stalked. It just seemed to distract from the much more thrilling main storylines.

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The characterisation felt right, with an eclectic mix of personalities, which made the story a very enjoyable read. They were all so different, from the troubled DCI Lambert, to his sidekick who is an eager romantic and their boss, a dinosaur from a different policing era. They create a vibrant group that gives the novel believability, reflecting the reality of a real criminal investigation team. My favourite character was the main man himself, the vulnerable and rash DCI Jack Lambert. I love to celebrate novels, especially well written ones, which place an LGBT+ character within the story. If that character is the main one all the better! Representation for Gay men is improving, but still remains rare enough that it should be celebrated when discovered in any genre, especially one still mainly known for gruff talking straight men. I worried that Jack would be a token character, but he’s not, he is great, fully fleshed out, accepted by his colleagues and though he is struggling with his sexuality, it never stops him being a great police officer. Jack is Jack and his struggles with his sexuality just make him all the more fascinating. By giving him a traumatic personal life the story has added depth and I hope this will be further explored in future DCI Lambert novels.

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Is this the point I ask A M Peacock to please write more novels containing Jack? I honestly believe he has the potential to become an exciting leading figure in police thrillers!

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It is a great read and one that fulfils all the criteria of a great thriller. The hero is both ordinary and yet troubled. The adversary matches him for both intelligence and resourcefulness. It starts off with a scene that leaves you wondering about the horrors to come, with layers of tension and conflict that build up as the novel progresses. It’s also full of that magic ingredient, suspense. Troubles plague or hero at home and in work and we can’t help but wonder will he survive the killers tortured reign of terror.

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Open Grave is a promising debut and I look forward to more of his writing in the years to come and I would certainly recommend this book to all thriller lovers.

 

You can purchase Open Grave from Amazon

My the author.

A.M. Peacock grew up in the North East of England before leaving to study for a degree in music technology at the University of Hull. A subsequent return to his hometown of South Shields saw him spend seven years as a teacher in a local college before changing careers to become a trade union official.

Having always been an avid reader, he took to writing after being encouraged to do so by his PGCE tutor. He has since gone on to produce a number of short stories, winning the Writers’ Forum Magazine competition on two occasions, as well as producing articles for both the local press and a university magazine.

A.M. Peacock is passionate about crime fiction and his debut novel, Open Grave, is the first in what he hopes will become a series of DCI Jack Lambert books.

Away from writing, A.M. Peacock enjoys watching films, playing guitar and can often be found pavement pounding in preparation for the odd half marathon.

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You can follow the author on his WebsiteFacebook and Twitter.

 

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Review ~ Blog Tour ~ She Lies Hidden by CM Stephenson

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How far would you go to find your missing sister?
When DI Thomasine Albright is informed that the remains of her fifteen-year-old sister have been found, she has the tragic responsibility of breaking the news to her mother. Thomasine promises her mother that she will be the one to find Karen’s killer.
But Karen Albright wasn’t the only girl to go missing during that weekend in 1973… Veronica Lightfoot disappeared too. They’d lived barely four miles apart, yet apparently never met. Suddenly there is a new question, was Veronica involved in Karen’s death? Is that why she vanished?
DI Mel Philips is handed the original case file and begins a new investigation. Unwilling to be side-lined, Thomasine decides to go it alone.
As the case unfolds, Thomasine realises that there may be other victims. Can she find them too?
Review

I would like to thank the author, publisher and blog tour organiser for the ARC of She Lies Hidden in return for an honest review.
There are so many things that made this book a very enjoyable read. Most importantly of all, has to be the story itself. There has been a lot of debate about the value of thrilling twists being announced on the front of book covers etc, that it is an overused plot device. I love them personally and think they are an integral part of a great thriller, though I prefer they are not sign posted from the first paragraph! The great thing about She Lies Hidden is that they are subtle and clever and had me caught out. For that very reason I enjoyed this psychological thriller, it read with enjoyable ease, with the tension building up throughout.
Then there is the atmosphere. I loved the depiction of the moors, that feeling of isolation and hidden secrets waiting to be revealed. The way the landscape became a character in the book was very clever. It felt spooky and eerily created a tension that the characters became enveloped in. Then we switched from that to the hustle and bustle of the police investigation unit, where people are rushing around, desperately trying to solve the death of a girl, whose disappearance has long haunted her sister. It’s a fabulous juxtaposition between two settlings that gave the story a feeling of being unbalanced, in a good way, the contrast leaving me the reader, slightly out of step and unnerved.
The characterisation is spot on. First you have DI Thomasine Albright, the sister of the victim. Herself a police officer, she is unable to stand back and allow others to solve her sister’s death, emotional and troubled. While opposite her is the officer assigned to officially solve the mystery, the very determined and detached DI Mel Phillips. Firstly I love that both main characters are strong, independent, clever women and secondly that they complement each other. DI Phillips understands what drives Albright, but is frustrated by the lack of control. I would love to read a book, where these two work together on an investigation; they would make a fantastic pair in future novels. Then there is the person responsible for Karen’s death, disturbed, intelligent, but highly repellent, just what you want from a killer.
I would definitely recommend this book. It is a perfectly formed psychological thriller, a real page turner.

You can purchase She Lies Hidden from Amazon.
You can purchase She Lies Hidden from Amazon.
About the author.
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After growing up in a small Lancashire village, Christine Stephenson left school at fifteen. Four years later she moved to Cornwall.

In her late teens she met people whose lives were complicated, fuelled by drugs, and filled with violence and aggression. There were others too, in her mid-twenties, everyday people, educated, with careers, who had decent parents; people who you wouldn’t look at twice in the street. They were worse; she knew the victims of their crimes too. These experiences continue to influence her writing.

Her career can be described as eclectic. Jobs ranging from office junior to dental nurse, management consultant to executive and corporate coach. She ran her own training consultancy for over twelve years. It was there that her love of writing bloomed. She went on to produce an extensive portfolio of work which included resource packs, case studies, role-plays, games, presentations and academic texts.

In 2008 her husband’s job dictated that they move to South Gloucestershire. This in turn, lead to a brand-new life. They now live just outside a small medieval town, set between Bristol and Bath.

In 2009, she decided it was time to study the craft and undertook the A215 in Creative Writing with Open University, and later followed that with an MA Creative Writing at Bath Spa University, graduating in 2016. She gained representation with Andrew Nurnberg & Associates soon after. She spent the following eighteen months writing and editing what is now her debut novel. In May 2018 Christine was delighted to accept a contract with Bloodhound Books.  ‘She Lies Hidden’ is due for release in September 2018.

You can follow the author on GoodreadsFacebook and Twitter.

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