What if someone you accidentally killed came back to haunt you?
When the perfect crime results in the kidnap and murder of Megan, his only child, East End villain Mickey Speight is grief stricken. But now, nearly thirty years later, Megan sends a message to her father, gone-to-ground in present-day Margate.
As the messages from his dead daughter keep coming, Mickey teams up with a young American female therapist to discover whether this really is a voice from beyond the grave, or if somebody has loomed out of Mickey s past wanting revenge. Someone is fingering Mickey’s collar and Mickey doesn’t like it.
Mickey realises that he must haunt the old East End boozers, betting shops and strip clubs of his youth if he’s to find out what really happened to his daughter.
DEAD ALREADY is a psychological thriller that splices the ever- popular East End gangster genre with a ghost story; a cross between revenge thriller YOU WERE NEVER REALLY HERE and supernatural horror DON T LOOK NOW.
Thrillers tend to follow an set formula, but not Dead Already and that’s the reason I enjoyed it. You have the normal elements you would expect to see and then you have a ghostly, almost eerie feel to the story, that left me feeling quite unnerved.
The writer achieves this by taking us right into the mind of our ‘hero’ Micky, who has been haunted by the death of his daughter and wife for over thirty years. Yet suddenly he starts to receive text messages from her and the writer leads us down countless blind alleyways, which left me seriously questioning if she was alive or not. As Micky questions his sanity, I found myself questioning his grip on reality. One moment wondering if his troubled mind was conjuring up the ghosts of the past out of desperation to calm his grief. Or if the writer was playing games with me and his daughter was a ghost, haunting the man left behind to live a life half lived. It was a clever narrative to employ, because all the way through the book, I was left feeling uncertain, questioning my own judgment and that’s quite rare in more run of the mill thrillers. I liked how my perception of the story was pivoted on it’s axis, because that meant I was in the same place as Micky himself. He questions not only his past mistakes and current predicament and I felt I was doing the same.
The story itself is very intriguing, seamlessly joining events from the past to the present day, helping to explain why Mickey ended up lonely and open to possible manipulation, as well being engaged in a violent turf war with a merciless criminal. The writer showing us that the past has created a complicated present, with a web of never ending possible outcomes to the nightmare Mickey finds himself in. The result is that as readers we have to keep an open mind to the possible ending of the story, we can’t rest on our laurels and we can’t assume we know what will happen until the last few pages.
Micky as a character fits the story to perfection, in that he is flawed enough to make him interesting, but not so crooked that you don’t like him. The story works because despite knowing his past is full of criminal activities and his present not perfect, he is easy to care about. You feel his grief, you understand what drives him and your heart goes out to him, wanting his daughter to be alive and not his mind torturing him one final time.
It is a clever thriller with a dark heart and I felt by the end, the writer had delivered a first class tale.
Tim Adler is a journalist and former commissioning editor on the Daily Telegraph, who has also written for the Financial Times and The Times.
His debut self-published thriller Slow Bleed went to number one in the US Amazon Kindle psychological thriller chart. Its follow-up Surrogate stayed in the top 40 psychological thrillers for more than a year. Bestselling crime author Peter James said of Tim’s third novel Hold Still, “Adler’s engaging style and sharp pace kept me glued”.
The Sunday Times called Tim’s most recent nonfiction book The House of Redgrave “compulsively readable” while The Mail On Sunday called it “dazzling”. Tim’s previous book Hollywood and the Mob was Book of the Week in The Mail On Sunday and Critic’s Choice in the Daily Mail.
Tim is a former London Editor of Deadline Hollywood, the US entertainment news website.
The son of a Baptist pastor and deeply embedded in church life in small town Arkansas, as a young man Garrard Conley was terrified and conflicted about his sexuality.
When Garrard was a nineteen-year-old college student, he was outed to his parents, and was forced to make a life-changing decision: either agree to attend a church-supported conversion therapy program that promised to “cure” him of homosexuality; or risk losing family, friends, and the God he had prayed to every day of his life. Through an institutionalised Twelve-Step Program heavy on Bible study, he was supposed to emerge heterosexual, ex-gay, cleansed of impure urges and stronger in his faith in God for his brush with sin. Instead, even when faced with a harrowing and brutal journey, Garrard found the strength and understanding to break out in search of his true self and forgiveness.
By confronting his buried past and the burden of a life lived in shadow, Garrard traces the complex relationships among family, faith, and community. At times heartbreaking, at times triumphant, this memoir is a testament to love that survives despite all odds.
There are many books published everyday that PR departments tell us we should read, because they they tell an important story. Well today I’m going to tell you of one, that not only is written by a writer of great talent, but talks of his journey to acceptance of his sexuality and that should act as a clarion call to us all, to stand up for the rights of all LGBT+ people.
I bought Boy Erased by Garrard Conley while wondering around Waterstones in Piccadilly. They had a shelf dedicated to LGBT+ themed books, both fiction and non fiction. I remember standing there feeling excited that they were promoting these books, but sad also that it wasn’t just because they fitted into a theme, historical or medical memoirs for example. They were on display together, because sadly in 2019 men and women like Garrard Conley were and still facing attacks because of their sexuality and as Garth Greenwell is quoted on the cover as saying, to act as,
An urgent reminder that America remains a place where Queer people have to fight for their lives.
The sad thing is that this is not just the case in America, but also here in Great Britain, where gay conversation therapy has still not been outlawed. Where we think we are progressive, but where there is still so much change that needs to come about!
Garrard Conley at the age of nineteen was outed to his parents and faced losing not just the god he had believed in all his life, but heartbreakingly painful to read about, the love and support of his parents. He takes us on the journey that led him to try and cure his attraction to men and I have to be honest it is a hard and emotional read, but more importantly it is incredibly rewarding and very life affirming.
I’m not spoiling the book by saying this, as it is mentioned on the back cover, but he eventually finds the strength to accept himself, this is a story about his journey, not necessarily about the ending. So many LGBT+ youths in America took their lives because of the harrowing damage done to them by the Twelve Step programme Gerrard Conley took part in and that was just one such ‘cure’ therapy tolerated and promoted in America! Many others existed and still do, so though originally published in 2016, in the age of Trump, this book remains achingly relevant. Biden maybe president elect, but Trumps malign influence still holds so much of the religious right in its thrall.
Please read it if you can. I found myself deeply affected by his life and the awful long terms affects therapy had on him. He talks with warmth and remarkably forgiveness. It is a difficult read, but hopefully it will leave you feeling that we should all act to force the British Government to stop delaying legislation to ban this inhuman act once and for all.
Or why not ask your local independent bookshop to order you a copy?
About the author
Garrard Conley is an American author and LGBTQ activist known for his autobiography Boy Erased: A Memoir, recounting his childhood as part of a fundamentalist family in Arkansas that enrolled him in conversion therapy. The book was adapted for the 2018 film, Boy Erased.
As a result of a rowdy night in his local New York bar, ex-Marine and merchant seaman “Chick” Donohue volunteers for a legendary mission. He will sneak into Vietnam to track down his buddies in combat to bring them a cold beer and supportive messages from home. It’ll be the greatest beer run ever!
Now, decades on from 1968, this is the remarkable true story of how he actually did it.
Armed with Irish luck and a backpack full of alcohol, Chick works his passage to Vietnam, lands in Qui Nhon and begins to carry out his quest, tracking down the disbelieving soldiers one by one.
But things quickly go awry, and as he talks his way through checkpoints and unwittingly into dangerous situations, Chick sees a lot more of the war than he ever planned – spending a terrifying time in the Demilitarized Zone, and getting caught up in Saigon during the Tet Offensive.
With indomitable spirit, Chick survives on his wits, but what he finds in Vietnam comes as a shock. By the end of his epic adventure, battered and exhausted, Chick finds himself questioning why his friends were ever led into the war in the first place.
When I read the description of this book, I admit I wasn’t sure what I was going to discover when I started to read it! Adventure story, social commentary on the pointless of war or biography. By the end, I realised I’d read a quite remarkable combination of all three!
As bizarre as the story seems, it is all true and frankly, it all feels the more amazing and moving, because however outlandish “Chick” Donohue’s story sounds, it is basically about friendship and one man coming to terms with the pointlessness of the Vietnam War.
From the moment “Chick” Donohue sneaks into Vietnam at the behest of his drinking buddies in New York, charged with taking childhood friends a beer and moral support from home, this books takes us on an unlikely odyssey around a land torn apart by war. We are treated to tales of seemingly unlikely reunions, that just go to show that sometimes life is far more random than fiction. At it’s very best, its about a simple act of kindness, from a man who wants his childhood friends to know that despite all the protests taking place against the war, their sacrifice has not been forgotten. That they are missed and that families at home are waiting for them!
“Chick” Donohue adventures might come across as a macho boys own story, but this is not what the book is about within. Look past the cover with the American MP, helicopters, forests and a ‘hero’ riding a motorbike and you have a quite eye opening look at the reality of the Vietnam War. The author admits himself that he hated the protesters in America before he went, felt they were unpatriotic, traitors to all the young soldiers stood for. Yet his experiences as the cover explains, led him to also question why so many young American men had been sacrificed in the first place. It is as much about one man’s journey from unquestioning patriot, to a more enlightened American, as it is about a mad adventure through a war zone.
But why not consider ordering it from your local independent bookshop?
About the author John “Chickie” Donohue joined the United States Marine Corps at the age of seventeen and spent several years as a Merchant Mariner after his discharge. His work took him to numerous foreign ports, including Saigon during the Vietnam War. After the war, he became a Sandhog, or tunnel builder, and eventually became the Legislative and Political Director of Sandhogs, Local 147, Laborers International Union of North America, a post in which he served for over three decades. Donohue is a graduate of the Harvard University John F. Kennedy School of Government where he received his Master of Public Administration degree. He is happily married to Theresa “Terri” O’Neil and spends his time between New York, Florida, and West Cork, Ireland.
When Bergen PI Varg Veum finds himself at the funeral of a former classmate on a sleet-grey December afternoon, he’s unexpectedly reunited with his old friend Jakob – guitarist of the once-famous 1960s rock band The Harpers – and his estranged wife, Rebecca, Veum’s first love.
Their rekindled friendship is thrown into jeopardy by the discovery of a horrific murder, and Veum is forced to dig deep into his own adolescence and his darkest memories, to find a motive … and a killer.
Tense, vivid and deeply unsettling, Fallen Angels is the spellbinding, award-winning thriller that secured Gunnar Staalesen’s reputation as one of the world’s foremost crime writers.
Character development is rare in a book series, many writers settling for the story and never revealing the hidden depths of the character you thought you knew inside out. In Fallen Angels by Gunner Staalesen, the writer surprised and delighted me by taking Veum into his past and writing a narrative that reveals lost friendships, first loves and danger that have catastrophic effects on the present. I loved how it gave him a greater sense of depth, helping us to him to understand how he was shaped by all the events in his childhood. I felt closer to him as a character by the end and intensely moved by his reactions to what happens. I did not think I could love him more, but by the end of Fallen Angels, this flawed, but principled character had been made even more real, because the writer takes us inside his head and allows us to experience his fears and his very real terror.
It is written in language that makes you feel if you could step off the page into the cold, restless streets of his home. It is such a magnificent part of this book, because the danger around Veum feels almost like it is vibrating off the page. The writer and translator capturing the tension as it builds and envelops the reader. It left me utterly broken. The quietness of the revelation at the heart of this book, having more of any impact, because in the moments of silence, between the words and sentences, you’re painfully aware of the horror the tortured soul of the killer seeking to silence the hurt pulsating down the years and exploding into the present. It makes for a compulsive read, you might feel the need to turn away, but knowing that something of great darkness may be around the corner you read on.
I’m not sure what Gunner Staalesen can do to top this, but I have faith he can.
But why not consider ordering it from your local independent bookstore?
About the author
One of the fathers of Nordic Noir, Gunnar Staalesen was born in Bergen, Norway, in 1947. He made his debut at the age of twenty-two with Seasons of Innocence and in 1977 he published the first book in the Varg Veum series. He is the author of over twenty titles, which have been published in twenty-four countries and sold over four million copies. Twelve film adaptations of his Varg Veum crime novels have appeared since 2007, starring the popular Norwegian actor Trond Espen Seim. Staalesen has won three Golden Pistols (including the Prize of Honour) and Where Roses Never Die won the 2017 Petrona Award for Nordic Crime Fiction, and Big Sisterwas shortlisted in 2019. He lives with his wife in Bergen.
About the translator
Don Bartlett completed an MA in Literary Translation at the University of East Anglia in 2000 and has since worked with a wide variety of Danish and Norwegian authors, including Jo Nesbø and Gunnar Staalesen’s Varg Veum series: We Shall Inherit the Wind, Wolves in the Darkand the Petrona award-winning Where Roses Never Die. He also translated Faithless, the previous book in Kjell Ola Dahl’s Oslo Detective series for Orenda Books. He lives with his family in a village in Norfolk
1918. In the last week of the First World War, a uniformed soldier is arrested in Durham Cathedral. When questioned, it becomes clear he has no memory of who he is or how he came to be there.
The soldier is given the name Adam and transferred to a rehabilitation home. His doctor James is determined to recover who this man once was. But Adam doesn’t want to remember. Unwilling to relive the trauma of war, Adam has locked his memory away, seemingly for good.
When a newspaper publishes a feature about Adam, three women come forward, each claiming that he is someone she lost in the war. But does he believe any of these women? Or is there another family out there waiting for him to come home?
Based on true events, When I Come Home Again is a deeply moving and powerful story of a nation’s outpouring of grief, and the search for hope in the aftermath of war.
It seems apt to be writing this review on Remembrance Sunday when we pay our respects to those who lost their lives during wartime. When I Come Home Again by Caroline Scott, tells of the human costs of warfare, the oft forgotten causalities of a war, that reverberated through the years that followed and still today causes us to stop, consider and remember.
War is not noble, neither is it romantic, it is brutal and for the soldiers and their families, the physical and emotional damage is causes, is never ending. This is the power of Caroline Scots’s writing, she looks at the suffering left behind after the end of World War One, giving the collective grief of a nation a voice through a tale that is poignant, heart-breaking and compelling. In short it is the story of one returned soldier who has no memory of his life before the war and three women whom all believe he could be their husband, or son or brother.
Many people might struggle to believe that these three women could separately believe that ‘Adam’ could be the relative they believe to be still alive! Surely they would know, especially once they have met him? But to understand why this story is not only possible, it is based on a real life event, we need to understand and acknowledge the physiological trauma WW1 had on the nation as a whole. We often deride the notion of life before this event being an age of innocence, life was hard and suffering widespread. Yet before 1914 war had been a distant affair, few knew someone involved, but this time all were affected by events described by psychologist Charles Myers as “the tolerable or controllable limits of horror, fear, anxiety, etc. are overstepped.” PTSD was felt by huge swathes of society, not just by the soldiers who faced the horror of war close up! Families on the home front overcome by grief locked themselves away to avoid having to accept loss on such unimaginable levels. Caroline Scott gives voice to this collective suffering, by giving Adam an aspect of each woman’s lost relative, so it is always plausible that he could be the one they are looking for, a love of nature, of art, of music and gardening. For these women we have to accept that their belief is both real and understandably so. Better to believe Adam is theirs, than be forced to come to terms with the death of not only their own, but so many. Grief often brings with it a form of madness, and where did these women have to turn to, who could help them move from the dark into into the light.
Society was often not kind to those that survived the war, or those who grief made them uncomfortable. Better to shut them away, their shame of damaged husbands, the pain of widows and parents, forced so many into a world of shadows and loss. At one point in When I Come Home Again there is a page, where the writer depicts through simple narrative sentences the reaction of ten different people to the idea that Adam could be theirs. It is simply put, one of the most moving depictions of grief and pain that I have ever read. It simplicity gives voice to their individual grief and this shared desperate delusion caused by unbearable heartache!
Their pain and Adams experiences are often unbearable, my heart felt alternately shattered and then healed by the writing. When you find yourself talking to a book, whispering please no, taking a break because with each page you can’t be sure you can cope with the fate of each character, you know you have read a book of beauty and perfection. You understand that an emotional connection has been made with their lives through the writing and the words that have been given life by a writer of exceptional skill. Caroline Scott’s When I Come Home Again is a moving tale of love, pain and loss and it is surely one of the finest examples of World War One literature of any generation of writers.
You can purchase this novel from from Amazon and Waterstones. Or why not order it from your local independent bookshop?
About the author
Caroline completed a PhD in History at the University of Durham. She has a particular interest in the experience of women during the First World War, in the challenges faced by the returning soldier, and in the development of tourism and pilgrimage in the former conflict zones. Caroline is originally from Lancashire, but now lives in south-west France.
From the bestselling author of the DI Bliss series comes an enthralling mystery thriller.
The truth can set you free – or bury you.
When FBI Agent Sydney Merlot returns to her home town in northern California to wind down her late father’s PI business, she soon finds herself on the wrong side of the aftermath of a high school shooting.
Sydney’s childhood friend – who is now county sheriff – plus the local PD, the mayor’s office, and most of the town’s inhabitants, are convinced the horror ended when the gunman was killed. Now they just want to be left alone to mourn. But Sydney has other ideas – and she is not alone.
While having to work through her own personal grief, Sydney is openly intimidated and receives anonymous threats. After discovering she is under surveillance, she begins to fear for her life. During her investigation she gains several allies, but as the days pass, Sydney doesn’t know who to trust, and which new friends might actually turn out to be foes…
Sydney Merlot thought the man standing half in and half out of the yawning doorway had the most haunted eyes she had ever seen; glistening windows into the soul of someone who had suffered a great tragedy and had not yet come to terms with his grief. He appeared uncertain and lacking in confidence as he straddled the threshold. His eyebrows angled towards each other, and when he removed his ball cap, both hands squeezed and twisted it as if wringing out slops from a beer towel. ‘I… I’m looking for Sidney Merlot,’ he said. ‘I was told this was his office.’ He squinted as if hoping she might transform somehow into the man he was expecting to find. Sydney smiled back at him, having experienced similar misunderstandings over the past couple of days. ‘I’m his daughter,’ she said, rising to her feet and moving briskly around the desk. She rubbed her right hand on the leg seam of her blue jeans before extending it, appraising his unruly, tangled hair and deep stubble of beard, eyes shot with red marble and white-hot agony. As they exchanged greetings she continued, ‘I do apologise, but my father no longer runs this agency.’ The man blinked at her twice before responding, in that moment looking both unanchored and crestfallen. She felt a twinge of sympathy for him as he shook his head, seemingly still bemused by the turn of events. ‘I see. Only, just this morning, somebody who led me to believe they know the agency well, gave me this address and told me to ask for Mr Merlot.’ Sydney gave a weak smile. Here was the next part of what she had already discovered would be an entire scene to re-enact in the coming days and weeks. As was her nature, she took a deep breath and confronted the issue head on. ‘My father passed away a short while ago,’ she explained, not allowing her tone to become grave. ‘I’m here to wind the business down in respect of existing clients.’ ‘My condolences to you. So, you’re not keeping the agency going?’ ‘Thank you. And no, not personally. I live and work in San Diego. I’m hoping somebody will take it over as a going concern, and that they’ll keep the name of Merlot at least during the period of transition. Oh, and to add to the confusion, despite my father no longer being with us, you’re still talking to Sydney Merlot. My name has the female spelling. Just think of the city in Australia.’ Sydney offered up the delicate laugh she’d been practicing to go along with the explanation. It sounded every bit as contrived and unconvincing as it had in her head while rehearsing it in the mirror over the weekend. ‘You are Mr..?’ she went on, seeking to recover before he turned on his heels and fled the building. ‘Muller,’ he said. ‘Dexter Muller. I’m so very sorry for your loss, Miss Merlot. And for bumbling in here like that asking for your father. An acquaintance who used to work with him gave me his details. I guess they were unaware of his passing.’ Muller came across as awkward, which was understandable given the circumstances. In what she hoped was a reassuring manner, Sydney told him the private investigations agency was, for the most part, a one-man band. Her father’s clients had respected his tenacity and integrity, putting their faith in an honourable man who served them to the best of his ability. ‘I hope to follow in his footsteps in the limited amount of time it takes me to sift through his current list of clients,’ Sydney finished, hoping she had done justice to her father’s work ethic and professionalism. While Muller continued to regard her with a pained expression, he also visibly relaxed along with the easy rhythm of her words. Energised by the change she saw in him, Sydney made a swift decision. ‘Would you care to sit?’ Sydney indicated the soft chair by the desk, its wooden arms highly polished by the sleeves of many previous customers. ‘I’m not looking to take on any new business, but you’re here and I have time to hear you out. Please, feel free to explain why you came. If I think I can help, or refer you to another appropriate agency, I’ll tell you. If you don’t like what I have to say, then you’ll have wasted only a few minutes of your time. How does that sound?’ ‘Good,’ he answered on a sigh. ‘It sounds good.’ After taking their seats, Muller continued to look disconcerted. Sydney guessed this was due to the reason behind him seeking an investigator in the first place. She gave him a few moments to formulate exactly what he wanted to say, and eventually he sat forward and nodded at her. ‘I assure you I heard only positive things about your father. However, I was also told he was the most experienced PI in the region. If you don’t mind my asking, as your father mostly worked alone, how long have you been in the business?’ Sydney shrugged. ‘Including this morning? Two and a half days.’ The man grimaced and huffed a sigh of disappointment. His entire body took on a dejected air. Sydney decided to use the speech she had rehearsed in her bathroom mirror a few hours ago. Hoping to allay his concerns, she insisted that although her experience of being a private investigator had begun only on Monday morning, she’d held a PI licence for a good while, renewing it several times. In addition, she was currently an FBI agent, having spent many years prior to joining the Bureau working in various forms of law enforcement. ‘I’m the first to admit that I still have things to learn about what it means to be a PI,’ she conceded. ‘But I have been an investigator in one form or another for more than fifteen years.’ Dishevelled, his eyes heavy with regret, Muller looked back at her with a new-found respect. Judging by his appearance, he had stopped taking care of himself in recent weeks; presenting as a troubled man in need of help. When he spoke he lacked confidence, but his fortitude eventually drew her in. ‘Miss Merlot, I confess my coming here today was pretty much a last resort. I’ve been to a couple of larger agencies and they wanted nothing to do with me. Sure, they never exactly said that out loud, but when somebody tells you they’ll get back to you and then they don’t, and when you call and leave messages and they still fail to respond, you eventually have to accept they’re not interested.’ Sydney ran both hands through her hair, sweeping it off her forehead and continuing on until both sides became tucked behind her ears. What she hoped to reveal in her eyes when she spoke next was the level of sincerity she truly harboured. ‘If that’s your experience so far, sir, then you have my sympathy. I can’t speak for anybody else. I’m taking over my father’s business slowly but surely in order to complete his ongoing work, and I guess I won’t do things the exact same way he did. But if I say I’ll do something, then I will do it. And if I’m not interested, then I’ll tell you that, too. At the very least, what you’ll get from me, Mr Muller, is a certain kind of bluntness. Not everybody can deal with that. If you can, then perhaps I may be of some help to you.’ Muller released what sounded to her like the sigh of a man about to unburden himself. ‘That sounds like a positive beginning,’ he said. ‘But I can tell you’ve not lived in these parts for quite some time, Miss Merlot. Otherwise, I’m sure my name would have been familiar to you by now.’ ‘And why would that be, sir?’ ‘I take it you know about the school shootings we had in town a few months ago?’ ‘Of course. A terrible tragedy. Fourteen dead, as I recall.’ ‘In fact, it was fifteen.’ Muller’s voice caught in the back of his throat. He swallowed something down, and by the twisted look on his face it was vile-tasting. ‘There were fifteen coffins either lowered into the ground or burned as a consequence of what happened that tragic morning, Miss Merlot.’ ‘Please, call me Sydney. And I stand corrected.’ She narrowed her gaze, a terrible realisation creeping over her. Tiny hairs sprang erect on her forearms as his name suddenly seemed familiar. ‘Sir, forgive me, but did you lose a child that day?’ Muller sucked air through his nose and sat upright, as rigid as a steel crowbar. ‘I did. My son, Kevin.’ ‘I’m so terribly sorry for your loss. It must have been an awful thing for you to have experienced.’ ‘Do you have children, Sydney?’ ‘No, I do not.’ ‘Then let me tell you it is the very worst of experiences when you lose one. It’s a cliché that says parents should not have to outlive their children, but it’s also a fact. It’s not something you ever get over.’ ‘I can’t even begin to imagine. So, what can I do for you, Mr Muller.’ ‘I’m looking for some kind of justice for my son.’ Sydney frowned. Her mind ran through everything she had learned about the events of that harrowing day, both from news reports and a couple of brief conversations with her father. ‘Sir, am I wrong in believing that law enforcement from local PD and the sheriff’s office shot and killed the perpetrator on school grounds shortly after the shooting?’ ‘No, you’re right about that. He was, in point of fact, the fifteenth student to die that day.’ ‘So, if the gunman is already dead, what kind of justice are you looking for exactly?’ ‘My son was murdered. I want his killer or killers brought to trial.’ ‘Once again, I apologise, Mr Muller, because I’m clearly not understanding this correctly. But given the circumstances, I’m not at all sure how you think that is possible.’ He expelled a long breath and moistened his lips while he fought some kind of inner turmoil. Shoulders hunched forward and slanting in, he looked as if he wanted nothing more than to fold himself into a protective ball. ‘Miss Merlot, it was the police, the sheriff, and his deputies who murdered my son that day. Please understand I’m not seeking any form of compensation. I wouldn’t take it if it was offered to me. What I do want is for them to admit their mistake.’ Edging closer in her chair, Sydney was irritated with herself. She didn’t know what this bereft and gentle man was trying to tell her. ‘Excuse me if I have this wrong yet again, sir, but I thought the gunman murdered all the children who died that day.’ ‘Not all of them, no.’ Muller shook his head firmly. ‘You’re forgetting there were fifteen coffins in all. Miss Merlot, my son was not killed by the gunman. According to the sheriff, he was the gunman.’
Tony J Forder is the author of the bestselling DI Bliss crime thriller series. The first seven books, Bad to the Bone, The Scent of Guilt, If Fear Wins, The Reach of Shadows, The Death of Justice, Endless Silent Scream, and Slow Slicing, were joined in December 2020 by a prequel novella, Bliss Uncovered. Tony’s other series – two action-adventure novels featuring Mike Lynch – comprises both Scream Blue Murder, and Cold Winter Sun. In addition, Tony has written two standalone novels: a dark, psychological crime thriller, Degrees of Darkness, and a suspense thriller set in California, called Fifteen Coffins which was released just last November. Tony lives with his wife in Peterborough, UK, and is now a full-time author. He is currently working on Bliss #8, The Autumn Tree.
In this beautiful, lyrical sequel to the critically acclaimed We Were the Salt of the Sea, Detective Moralès finds that a seemingly straightforward search for a missing fisherwoman off Quebec’s Gaspé Peninsula is anything but …
When an abandoned lobster trawler is found adrift off the coast of Quebec’s Gaspé Peninsula, DS Joaquin Moralès begins a straightforward search for the boat’s missing captain, Angel Roberts – a rare female in a male-dominated world.
But Moralès finds himself blocked at every turn – by his police colleagues, by fisheries bureaucrats, and by his grown-up son, who has turned up at his door with a host of his own personal problems.
When Angel’s body is finally discovered, it’s clear something very sinister is afoot, and Moralès and son are pulled into murky, dangerous waters, where old resentments run deep.
Anyone that reads my reviews on a regular basis, will know that I am a massive fan of any novel published by Orenda Books! They bring us consistently superb quality fiction all the time. This book once again reinforces their reputation as a Indie publisher, that deserves to sit at the same table as the bigger publishing houses.
The Coral Bride by Roxanne Bouchard is utterly mesmerizing, full of lyrical prose that catches the imagination in its embrace and transports you Quebec’s Gaspé Peninsula, the land the story is based in. With descriptions such as “shards of moonlight shimmering” on the sea, the surface alight as it stretches to the horizon, you feel as if your there, as if you could dip your toes into the sea yourself! The land and the sea are as much a characters in this stunning read. as Morales himself! Feeling as if you could bathe yourself in the sea because if feels so tangible makes a book come alive. I felt as if I could not just touch the sea and the land around it, but feel the wind, the cold and the wild abandon of the landscape.
Add in superb characterisation and this book is lifted into another level. Morales returns for a second outing and I frankly couldn’t love him more than I do. Dedicated to his job, forming a love affair with the land around him, neither perfect or too flawed, he is given another dimension in The Coral Bride by the introduction of his son, Sebastien! Roxanne Bouchard fleshes him out further in this second book, by introducing us to more of his past, through his son. She gives us the family man, the father, the detective, all the things that make Morales the person he is. The sum of all of his parts, not a simple one dimensional caricature, but flesh and blood made real within the pages of this elegant novel. Sebastien is not there though, to just support his father’s development as a character, but to tell his own story and I hope he remains in any forthcoming books! He drives into town with a few pots and pans, running from a ruined relationship, full of self pity and looking to blame someone for his own faults. Yet by the end he has developed into a character, equally as fascinating as his dad and has a sense of insight that makes him an integral part of the story.
As for the story itself as I am sure you have figured out by now, I loved it, because not only is it full of atmosphere and ladles of tension, it is quietly emotive. Angel’s death is portrayed as having an impact on all the people she knew, we are taken into their relationship with her and the writer teases out how each had some motive for killing her. Yet right until the killer is revealed, their identity remained a mystery to me and when the revelation came, it was a utter surprise. Twisted and terrifying and yet utterly compelling, The Coral Bride has it all and is the prefect package.
But why not consider ordering from your local indie, they need our support all the time, but under the current circumstances, that need could save them!
About the author
Ten years or so ago, Roxanne Bouchard decided it was time she found her sea legs. So she learned to sail, first on the St Lawrence River, before taking to the open waters off the Gaspé Peninsula. The local fishermen soon invited her aboard to reel in their lobster nets, and Roxanne saw for herself that the sunrise over Bonaventure never lies. Her fifth novel (first translated into English) We Were the Salt of the Seawas published in 2018 to resounding critical acclaim, sure to be followed by its sequel, The Coral Bride.She lives in Quebec.
Sara has never left Sweden but at the age of 28 she decides it’s time. She cashes in her savings, packs a suitcase full of books and sets off for Broken Wheel, Iowa, a town where she knows nobody.
Sara quickly realises that Broken Wheel is in desperate need of some adventure, a dose of self-help and perhaps a little romance, too. In short, this is a town in need of a bookshop.
With a little help from the locals, Sara sets up Broken Wheel’s first bookstore. The shop might be a little quirky but then again, so is Sara. And as Broken Wheel’s story begins to take shape, there are some surprises in store for Sara too…
I made the decision a few months ago to cut back on blog tours and read books on my towering to be read pile. Despite what many seem to think, we book bloggers don’t just read ARCs, we are dedicated bookworms and love buying books at every opportunity!
I have a happy problem, I buy books quicker than I can hope to read them and so I dived headlong into my pile of books and selected The Readers of Broken Wheel Recommend. I was rewarded with a joyful, charming and delightful read, about books, bookworms, bookshops, friendship and love. Just what I needed right now! A happy read, full of wonderful characters and a story that made smile and left me content.
It is all about a young lady whose life at home in Sweden is unfulfilled and after developing a friendship with fellow book lover in the American town of Broken Wheel, travels to meet her. It’s a world far removed from home and family. Here she develops friendships, opens a bookshop and perhaps might find a little romance. Now romance books are not normally my cup of tea, but I was prepared to move past that and I am so glad I did, because it gave me hours and hours of escape from the world around me and god I needed that!
All the characters are likeable, fully written, with everyone having a back story and a place in Sara’s new life. From the moment you enter into the world they inhabit, I felt and instant need to get to know more about them. Sarah is not just a character in her own right, but she acts as a device to bring all their disparate stories together, to form a narrative filled with warmth and love. She is in search of a place to belong and they a means to bring their town back to life. Sara and her bookshop are used in the story to give Broken Wheel, a town with no centre anymore, a community in tatters, a new beating heart and it’s lovely.
Oh and there is romance and it’s captivating and I smiled!
I needed feelgood and oh my, this book has that in shed loads. I love Broken Wheel and I wish I to could go there and open a bookshop!
But why not order it from your local independent bookshop and ensure they are with us for generations to come?
About the author
KATARINA BIVALD grew up working part-time in a bookshop. Today she lives in Älta, Sweden, with her sister and as many bookshelves as she can squeeze in. She has still not decided whether she prefers books or people. The Readers of Broken Wheel Recommend is her first novel.
Welcome to a series of posts that chart my wonderful reading year, 2020. I don’t have the time to review all the books I read and wanted I way to celebrate each one. So I’m going to do a monthly post of all the wonderful books I’ve been reading that month. Short snappy reviews, simple comments about why I enjoyed them so much.
It is a scary world out there at the moment and my reading is suffering, but I am keeping it up and hoping my reading mojo doesn’t disappear totally.
Sending Cwtches to all those that need one.
So welcome to my celebration of my reading in October 2020.
The first book I finished in October was the exciting and splendid Betrayal by Lija Sigurdardottir. This novel takes a look at corruption, politics and misogyny and wraps it all up in scintillating story.
My next read was Dead Perfect by Noelle Holton, whose innate understanding of the criminal mind and how the justice system works, produces a thriller that is both tense and authentic.
Next came Michelle Obama’s Becoming, a stunning read from a women who has become an icon for to so many. It is a intelligent and thoughtful read and will defiantly be one of my favourite non fiction reads of 2020.
Then it was back to fiction in the form of A Cut Like Wound by Anita Nair. An exotic feeling murder mystery and a very enjoyable read.
Next I read The Readers of Broken Wheel Recommend by Katarina Bivald. This was a sweet charming and gentle read, just what I needed at the moment. I loved it!
The last book read in October was the brilliant The Coral Bride by Roxanne Bouchard.
Well that was October 2020, a challenging time for us all. I am looking forward to more reading in November and spending time away from the troubling world we are all living in.