book reviews · Bookish

Runaway by Claire MacLeary (Review)

Today I am on the tour for Runaway by Claire Macleary and have a review for you! The book is available now in both Paperback and Kindle editions. I was provided a copy of the book for this review.

Runaway is the third book in a series by Claire MacLeary. This book was my introduction to the series as I haven’t read the previous installments, but I am pleased to say that it does perfectly well as a standalone.

The book is written from a few perspectives, but it’s mainly about Maggie and Wilma, a PI duo who have been brought in by Scott – his wife is missing and he has no idea why. Of course, he reported it to the police. It’s the first thing he did, they weren’t having any success, so he turns to the women to help him find his wife.

Maggie and Wilma have a bit of a strange relationship and they both have different ideas about their detective agency. None the less, after some convincing, they’re set on helping Scott to find his wife, but are wary of the police after previous involvements and complications with them in a previous case. We are given a vague overview of that situation, but I would imagine it’s detailed in the previous installments of the series. The police themselves are unhappy when they find out that the women are on the case, and their force seems tense after the aforementioned complications.

Maggie is my favourite character of the book, she seems strong willed and is trying really hard to balance her family life and her work. She has a lippy daughter and the patience of a saint as a result. She seems far more responsible than Wilma. Together, they are a weird duo, but it works!

I found this book to be pretty amusing, not so much that it detracted from the seriousness of the case, but enough to add a little more to it that made it all the more enjoyable. Though there is some of the book that is written in what I can only describe to be pure Scottish which someone who is unfamiliar with Scottish dialect or to whom English is a second language may have difficulties with. Personally, I had no issue with it and understood it just fine, but I feel like it’s an important point to mention, just in case this is something that would affect you personally and this after all, a review.

Maggie’s daughter clearly has some iffy acquaintances, one of whom decides a nap in a skip is a sterling idea, even with the stink and a urine soaked duvet.. until he discovers a human arm. It takes a little while before the story circles back to that, but from that point, I couldn’t put it down. I needed to know what was happening. Was it going to be Scott’s wife?

All in all, I really enjoyed this book and following both the pair of PI’s and the detective team investigating the case and the relationships between them both teams on the case were really interesting to me too. All in all, I really enjoyed this book, it was entertaining, well written and I’m sure the other books are no different; I’ll be adding the previous installments on to my ever growing TBR!

About the Book

The third book in the awards-listed Harcus & Laird series

When Aberdeen housewife Debbie Milne abruptly vanishes without trace, leaving behind her two young children, husband Scott is too distraught to sit out the police’s 72-hour window and await developments. He turns to local detective agency Harcus & Laird.

Put off by previous “domestic” cases, Maggie Laird isn’t keen, but is cajoled by partner Wilma Harcus into a covert operation. Together they comb through meagre scraps of information, eventually trawling the city’s women’s refuges and homeless squats, in spite of the deadly danger.

Then a woman’s body is discovered in a Dundee builder’s skip. With the clock ticking and the police struggling to make identification, the race is on. Claire MacLeary fashions a surprising, gritty, fast-paced tale with the warmth and wisdom of ‘women of a certain age’.

book reviews · Bookish

Times Tide by Adrian Harvey (Review)

Happy Monday! Today, I am on the Love Books Group’s Tour for Times Tide by Adrian Harvey and bringing you a review! It is available now in both Kindle and Paperback editions and is available on Kindle Unlimited

Times Tide is a moving tale about the bonds between father and son, healing a rift from time and the connections they have with their home.

The author really pulls the reader in to this book with a lot of descriptive… descriptions(?) that really invoke a feeling of “place.” Now, I discovered I’m one of those people that struggles to visualise things from text – aphantasia, so I feel like if that wasn’t the case, I’d have gotten more from this book, but despite that, I could feel the beauty of their home, but it also felt lonely too. The sense of place was very strong and significant through the book and the author did a really good job at conveying it.

The book switches from one period of time to another, initially opening in 1958, on a boat. While I can’t visualise things from text, I did really enjoy the authors description of “chuckling water”, I’m not sure why, but I really liked that. They return to their old home which they had left years before, along with a cow who no longer produced milk.

The family appear loving but sombre. This is where the family, Einar and Jona lost a son, Eirikur, a brother, named Olafur and it really has an affect on the family. However, returning to their former home, resulted in the cow to produce milk once again (as she had stopped when they left) and the family found joy in this moment and I found myself happy too.

..I realise I’m writing a lot about the start of the book but the background and relationships it lays out are incredibly important for the rest of the book. You get a good idea about the family and how they think and feel about their lives.

It later introduces another generation of family and more bereavement, more strained relationships. But will they be able to ease the strain, make amends, find joy and find closure for their grief? You’ll have to give this incredibly moving book a go yourself and find out, but be prepared to be sucked straight in to Iceland and getting emotional because this tale is an immersive one.

About the Book

The new novel from the bestselling author of Being Someone and The Cursing Stone. 

A father and son struggle to overcome the distance between them. Each is drawn irresistibly to an unforgiving landscape, one that has been the scene of tragedy and loss.

The son’s return to the northern shore he abandoned as a young man promises the chance to heal the rift. But is it too late?

Arni left his remote corner of Iceland as soon as he could, seeking opportunities beyond winter and fishing. Married to an English woman, he builds a life as a successful scientist but can never quite escape the pull of the West Fjords and bleak landscape of his birth, nor shake the guilt he feels towards his distant father.

When Eirikur goes missing, he sets off to find him on a windswept spit of land lost in an angry ocean.

Time’s Tide is a compelling and beautifully written story of loss, belonging and the silence between fathers and sons.

book reviews · Bookish

Who Is She? By V Clifford (Review)

Today, I am on the blog tour for “Who is She?” by V. Clifford. This book is the 5th installment in the Viv Fraser Mysteries and is available now in both Paperback and on Kindle – it is also available to borrow via Kindle Unlimited.

About The Book

Who is She? No one knows that the past is a strange country more than Scottish sleuth Viv Fraser. In this, the fifth Mystery, Viv is compelled to investigate a series of misadventures that are too close to home. Unravelling a veil of deception she discovers just how much of her past is in the present. No stranger to a challenge, she risks more than her pride hunting down the people who have threatened her family. Mac is on hand to help but will she let him?  

Viv Fraser is a hairdresser. She also has signed the official secrets act and has great technical prowess. “Who is she”? indeed?

This book is the fifth in a series, but it was my introduction to this character and series. It read perfectly fine as a standalone, but I feel I definitely would have benefited from reading previous installments. There is a dynamic between the characters and I feel like this would have added a lot more to my understanding of it, however, it wasn’t difficult to really pick things up and understand the bonds of the main character and those she interacted with. Viv Fraser is definitely up there as one of my favourite characters to date.

I really want to know more about Viv, and I am definitely looking forward to the next installment, as the book ended on an open note, paving the way for the next installment. Despite this, the plot of this book did all wrap up and conclude to a satisfactory ending.

I feel like it’s hard to talk about this book without spoiling it. Viv is an enigma. It would appear that she gets this from her mother! Viv’s mum, Trude, lives in a place not-so-affectionally referred to as “The Pound” by her daughters. A person had been looking in her mum under the pretense of window cleaning and Viv had been convinced her mum might be losing her marbles, but it turns out, she couldn’t be further from the truth, in fact, her mum was so incredibly on the ball, with a whole lot of history that Viv only so much as get a glimpse at.

Viv only got to glimpse this alter-ego as her mother ends up going missing and herself and her sister need to find out what is going on and if she is okay. It turns out, someone has been following Viv, her sister Manda and her mother, and they have an agenda.

I guess I’ll be leaving this review here – I never intend to give spoilers; and you can go and meet Viv Fraser for yourself if I’ve piqued your interest!

Bookish · Uncategorized

Plotting in Novels – Val Penny (Guest Post)

Hey everyone! I hope you all had the most wonderful weekend! I’m kicking this week off with a Guest Post from Val Penny as part of a blog tour to promote her book Hunters Chase which is available now in both Kindle and Paperback formats. It’s also available on Kindle Unlimited and you can get a free 30 day trial of that here.

Take it away, Val!

    Thank you for having me on your blog today.

    I think that plotting is central to writing a novel, but it is a highly individual process. No two authors plot in the same way. Some plot organically while others plot in a very orderly fashion. Many writers even plot differently from one book to another. Some write scenes: hundreds of scenes that interest and excite them and then they stitch the scenes together to from the novel. While others visualise the way the book will take shape using dozens of bits of paper laid out on their desk or even on the floor. It must be important to make sure the windows are closed if you plot this way!

    Some authors use tree diagrams, spreadsheets or mind-maps to plot and there is software available to download on line for this.

    However you plot your novel, the goal is the same, to allow the journey the plot is about take, that will last several months, to become a novel. It is important that you, as an author, choose between the ‘organic’ and ‘orderly’ methods of plotting so you are comfortable that your choice works best for you and the book you are setting out to write. I plotted my first novel ‘Hunter’s Chase’ organically but, after attending a course run by Sue Moorcroft at last years’ Swanwick Writers’ Summer School, I plotted the sequel ‘Hunter’s Revenge’ using diagrams and spreadsheets. Neither is wrong. Both have strength and weaknesses and either can be successful for crafting a novel.

    Writers who follow an organic way of plotting, approach the outline largely as a form of awareness of the story, rather than as an actual document to be followed strictly. Many view the outline not so much as a planning device but more of an analytical tool that helps strengthen the final draft by indicating the flaws in the story-line.

    Some authors begin with an idea and just jump in to tell the story. They write steadily and regularly until they have written tens of thousands of words. Then they go through the organic draft and delete large chunks and add other pieces until the final manuscript is complete.

    Other authors, like Sue Moorcroft, plot meticulously and there is no doubt that plotting an outline is hard work. However, having undertaken an outline on ‘Hunter’s Revenge’, I found myself writing my novel with confidence. I was happy that one chapter followed another in a sensible sequence. My characters retained their identities. Of course, at the end of the first draft, there were flaws, but I found I was able to repair those readily.

    Whether you plot organically or in an orderly fashion, the important issue is that you can tell the story to your readers and that you, and they, are satisfied by your novel.

About the Book

Hunter by name – Hunter by nature: DI Hunter Wilson will not rest until Edinburgh is safe.
Detective Inspector Hunter Wilson knows there is a new supply of cocaine flooding his city, and he needs to find the source, but his attention is transferred to murder when a corpse is discovered in the grounds of a golf course. 

Shortly after the post-mortem, Hunter witnesses a second murder, but that is not the end of the slaughter. With a young woman’s life also hanging in the balance, the last thing Hunter needs is a new man on his team: Detective Constable Tim Myerscough, the son of his nemesis, the former Chief Constable Sir Peter Myerscough. 

Hunter’s perseverance and patience are put to the test time after time in this first novel in The Edinburgh Crime Mysteries series.

About the Author

Val Penny is an American author living in SW Scotland. She has two adult daughters of whom she is justly proud and lives with her husband and two cats. She has a Law degree from Edinburgh University and her MSc from Napier University. She has had many jobs including hairdresser, waitress, lawyer, banker, azalea farmer and lecturer. However she has not yet achieved either of her childhood dreams of being a ballerina or owning a candy store. Until those dreams come true, she has turned her hand to writing poetry, short stories and novels. Her crime novels, ‘Hunter’s Chase’ and Hunter’s Revenge are set in Edinburgh, Scotland, published by Crooked Cat Books. The third book in the series, Hunter’s Force, follows shortly.

Bookish · Uncategorized

Dig Two Graves by Keith Nixon (Spotlight)

Today I am on a blog tour for Dig Two Graves by Keith Nixon, out now in both Kindle and audiobook editions. Dig Two Graves is the first part of a four part series of Keith’s Solomon Gray character and you can find the other books here.


About The Book

Was it suicide … or murder? Detective Sergeant Solomon Gray is driven to discover the truth. Whatever the personal cost.

When teenager Nick Buckingham tumbles from the fifth floor of an apartment block, Detective Sergeant Solomon Gray answers the call with a sick feeling in his stomach. The victim was just a kid, sixteen years old. And the exact age the detective’s son was, the son Gray has not seen since he went missing at a funfair ten years ago. Each case involving children haunts Gray with the reminder that his son may still be out there – or worse, dead. The seemingly open and shut case of suicide twists into a darker discovery. Buckingham and Gray have never met, so why is Gray’s number on the dead teenager’s mobile phone?

Gray begins to unravel a murky world of abuse, lies, and corruption. And when the body of Reverend David Hill is found shot to death in the vestry of Gray’s old church, Gray wonders how far the depravity stretches and who might be next. Nothing seems connected, and yet there is one common thread: Detective Sergeant Solomon Gray, himself. As the bodies pile up, Gray must face his own demons and his son’s abduction. 

Crippled by loss Gray takes the first step on the long road of redemption. But is the killer closer to home than he realised?

Set in the once grand town of Margate in the south of England, the now broken and depressed seaside resort becomes its own character in this dark police suspense thriller, perfect for fans of Ian Rankin, Stuart MacBride, and Peter James.

Dig Two Graves is the first in the Solomon Gray series. Pick it up now to discover whether Gray finds his son in this thrilling new crime series. 

Author Bio:  

Keith Nixon is a British born writer of crime and historical fiction novels. Originally, he trained as a chemist, but Keith is now in a senior sales role for a high-tech business. Keith currently lives with his family in the North West of England.

 Readers can connect with Keith on various social media platforms:

 Web: http://www.keithnixon.co.uk

Twitter: @knntom
Facebook: Keithnixonauthor
Blog: www.keithnixon.co.uk/blog


Bookish · Uncategorized

Stoned Love by Ian Patrick (Excerpt)

Today I’m bringing you an excerpt as part of a blog tour for Stoned Love by Ian Patrick, out now and available both in Paperback and Kindle editions. Be sure to check out the other tour stops to find out more!

Blurb

Detective Sergeant Sam Batford has been lying low at a remote safe house in the highlands of Scotland. He’s doing his best not to attract the attention of the enemies he made, on both sides of the law, during his last under-cover operation but Batford knows he’s just killing time until he’s called to account.

Inevitably the sharks begin to circle and as Batford is called back to front-line action in London he’s thrown into a deadly game of cat and mouse where it seems everyone is out to get him.

After having to endure a frustrating resolution to their previous undercover operation together DCI Klara Winter from the National Crime Agency is determined to prove that Batford has crossed the line into criminality and finally bring him to face justice.

All Sam Batford wants is to outwit his enemies long enough to stay alive and come out ahead of the game.

StonedLoveAugust2018JPEG

Excerpt

This is 2020 and the consequences are kicking in. Times have changed since the public sector austerity measures were first imposed. The then home secretary became Prime Minister and still persisted with the draconian measures despite public backlash. Not even Thatcher touched the police and most thought she was brutal.

I put the kettle on the Aga and gaze out over the fields. I have a day to kill before my train from Edinburgh to London. I’ve enjoyed the break and the solitude. City life has ground me down. My problem is the pace and vibe of the city is in my blood. It’s part of my DNA. I love its tension coursing through my veins. I adore the adrenalin rush when a job comes off. I also enjoy the rich pickings from the criminals I infiltrate. I have no intention of completing thirty years service. I need to top up my pension pot before I leave though. I subconsciously check my leg and experience reassurance at the feel of titanium. I intend to upgrade and add to my prosthetic leg collection once this next job is over. Whatever my bosses have planned for me I always turn it to my advantage.

I watch the bull. He’s in the field for a purpose. His job is to fuck at every opportunity. He has no competition. He’s Mr Big surrounded by his bitches. He strolls over to a cow. She’s wary but carries on eating. As he approaches she flicks her tail. He takes the hint and mounts. A ton of muscle thrusts twice. Job done. Every bull has his day though. Old age will render him useless.

All lives have a price. The whistle indicates the water’s ready.

The thing I love about the police is they will always look after you. That’s unless you need to be further away than London for a cool off period. There are no mod cons or city flats to escape to here. The cottage has seen better days and lets just say the police estate doesn’t run to cover the costs of refurbishment or maintenance beyond a working fire alarm. Damp permeates the walls and paper hangs from the ceiling. The heating is oil and at least
they’ve kept up the contract to enable that still to work.


Ian Patrick Author Photo

About the Author

Ian spent twenty-seven years as a police officer, the majority as a detective within the Specialist Operations Command in London. A career in policing is a career in writing. Ian has been used to carrying a book and pen and making notes. Now retired, the need to write didn’t leave and evolved into fiction.

Rubicon is his debut novel published by Fahrenheit Press and Stoned Love the second in the series. Rubicon has been optioned by the BBC for a six part TV series.

He now lives in rural Scotland where he divides his time between family, writing, reading and photography.

book reviews · Bookish · Uncategorized

Think Yourself Lucky by Ramsey Campbell (Review)

Today, I’m on the Random Things blog tour for Think Yourself Lucky by Ramsey Campbell and I’ve got a review for you! The books is available in Paperback, Hardback and Kindle edition.

Think Yourself Lucky Blog Tour poster

Categorised as a horror novel, I wasn’t sure how this book would go. I’m not majorly familiar with horror as a genre and the works I am familiar with are more “classic”, so I was pleasantly surprised that Think Yourself Lucky was something totally different, and a new experience for me. Instead of a traditional horror, this book is very psychological and sardonic; it’s not what I was expecting at all.

At first, the book opens up with someone else – we later find out his name is Lucky. He’s aggressive and clearly hates people. We are almost instantly presented with his own monologue about his neighbours and how irritating he finds them. I thought, ha! Yeah, we all think like this sometimes when people are irritating, but then things took a dark turn. I wasn’t sure if these instances were meant to be humorous or just aggressive and shocking. I didn’t find them funny, it felt a little tedious and hard to read, but this dude clearly isn’t a good guy, so I just put this down to the character himself. In this sort of book, I figured there would be characters I wouldn’t like. I found myself feeling rather uncomfortable and weirded out through the book, which I guess is good considering it’s genre!

The main character, David, is bored with his life, working at a travel agency. The point is made – repeatedly – that he absolutely is not a writer. Accosted in the street, he ended up going to a writers meeting where he mentioned a “title” for a book. He then finds out that somebody “took the name” and created a blog with it – a rather grim, sardonic blog at that. Though he doesn’t care the name was taken, because he isn’t a writer.

The events in the blog seem to somehow coincide with his life, weirding David out and clearly affecting his mind. How did it line up with him like that? Did he have some sort of influence on things? Did he have a stalker? We do find out, but it’s not made explicitly clear what happened. I felt because of this, the book didn’t really conclude very well. I found myself reaching the last pages and wondering where the ending was going to be.

The book didn’t flow well for me. Some parts were really engaging and had me going, other bits I just couldn’t wait to get past for the next thing to happen. It was quite a strange read but I definitely enjoyed the experience as it was totally new to me. The premise itself I found pretty interesting and I’m sure people who are fans of the genre would enjoy it more than I did; but personally, this one wasn’t for me.

Think Yourself Lucky Cover

BLURB: David Botham just wants a quiet ordinary life―his job at the travel agency, his
relationship with his girlfriend Stephanie. The online blog that uses a title he once thought up has nothing to do with him. He has no idea who is writing it or where they get their information about a series of violent deaths in Liverpool. If they’re murders, how can the killer go unseen even by security cameras? Perhaps David won’t know until they come too close to him―until he can’t ignore the figure from his past that is catching up with him…

Ramsey CampbellABOUT THE AUTHOR: Ramsey Campbell is a British writer considered by a number of
critics to be one of the great masters of horror fiction. T. E. D. Klein has written that “Campbell reigns supreme in the field today,” while S. T. Joshi has said that “future generations will regard him as the leading horror writer of our generation, every bit the equal of Lovecraft or Blackwood.”

book reviews · Bookish · Uncategorized

Stealth by Hugh Fraser – Review

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I’m pleased to be opening up the Love Books Group tour for Stealth by Hugh Fraser with a spoiler-free review! Stealth is the fourth installment to Fraser’s Rina Walker crime-thriller series, but can happily be read as a stand-alone. It’s available to pre-order and comes out on 4th October 2018.

When a step out of line means a fight to the death…

London 1967. A working girl is brutally murdered in a Soho club. Rina Walker takes out the killer and attracts the attention of a sinister line-up of gangland enforcers with a great deal to prove.

When a member of British Military Intelligence becomes aware of her failure to fulfil a contract issued by an inmate of Broadmoor, he forces her into the deadly arena of the Cold War, with orders to kill an enemy agent.

Rina needs to call upon all her dark skills, not simply to survive but to protect the ones she loves.

If you’d like to find out more about the book, please do check out the other stops on the tour! Here is the poster with the details:

Stealth

Stealth opens up leading straight in to action – not the sort I was expecting based on the blurb of the book. A lot more “shady-dealings” than super spies. Though I will say, there are spies and because of being a London hit-woman, assassin, whatever you’d like to call her; it’s interesting to see how she deals with what gets thrown at her later.

Based in 1967, I wasn’t sure what to expect when I dived in, but I felt immersed pretty quickly to a London from decades ago. The environment and the language used by the characters led me to be a lot more comfortable with the book and the entire thing flowed well. Now, I’m no expect on the 60’s – it’s well before my time, and so I’ve no idea on the accuracy of the way the characters speak compared to people of that time; however, I felt convinced and that element added strength to the character and the story.

At first, I wasn’t sold on the main protagonist, Rina. She seemed brash, unfeminine and I thought she was written a bit like a male character – however, that soon changed as I made a little more progress with the book and got to know Rina more. In actual fact, she’s a badass, female protagonist and almost every single thing that happens with her adds to her character development, in my personal opinion. She does use her femininity, but not in the way that I’d expected. On multiple occasions, I was surprised and pleasantly so, at the direction things went in.

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Hugh Fraser said that he has “no set writing process” and that he tends to not plan the story in advance and let Rina take over. I was wondering how this would translate within his work and the answer is “very well.” The book was well paced, with plenty going on, there weren’t really any lulls and it felt like I was right there with Rina, along for the ride and if I dared to stop and rest, I’d end up missing out. Despite not having read any of the previous books, I was indeed carried along with the action and I really enjoyed the ride.

So if you enjoy fast-paced crime-thrillers and a strong, female protagonist, you should definitely pick this book up and give it a go. You can grab it over on Amazon in both Paperback and Kindle editions.

Bookish · Uncategorized

Implant – Ray Clark: Excerpt

Hey guys! Today, I’m on the blog tour for a fantastic book called Implant by Ray Clark. It’s the third in a series, but admittedly, this book was my introduction to it. I’ve added the previous installments to my TBR pile as I’ve really enjoyed this book thus far; and while it is part of a series, it works perfectly fine as a standalone. The book doesn’t take too long to really get in to the “meat” of the story, and I was really a big fan of that. I’m currently still reading the book though. I had planned on doing a full review for my spot on the tour, but moving house left me short on time – so today I have an excerpt to share with you instead. I hope you’ll love it and pick up a copy and we can chat about it if you’d like! Thanks to Kelly from Love Books Group, Urbane Publications and Ray Clark for inviting me to be a part of this! Implant is on sale now in both paperback and kindle editions.

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Bramfield, near Leeds, a sleepy little market town nestled on the borders of West and North Yorkshire. Detectives Stewart Gardener and Sean Reilly discover the naked corpse of Alex Wilson, nailed to the wall of a cellar in his uncle’s hardware store. His lips are sewn together and his body bears only one mark, a fresh scar near his abdomen.

Within forty-eight hours, their investigation results in dead ends, more victims, no suspects and very little in the way of solid evidence. Gardener and Reilly have a problem and a question on their hands: are the residents of Bramfield prepared for one of history’s most sadistic killers, The Tooth Fairy?

Implant is the perfect read for fans of Peter May, Mark Billingham and Peter James.

0374DE05-60D3-44D4-B0C7-F81A6630E934

3.

3:20 a.m.

“Do you want me to put a trace on the calls?” Cragg asked.

​Both men had moved out of the back office now, into the more clinical surroundings of the lobby and the front desk.

​“Might be a good idea, sir. While you do that, maybe I should have a walk round to Armitage’s, see what’s happening.”

​Gary didn’t think a trace to his phone would do much good. He knew that as you travelled up and down the country, your mobile phone ‘shook hands’ with each phone mast as it came within range. You didn’t have to be using it, but the mast would know it’s available to make or receive calls. At the end of the day, however, the range was only accurate to within 1.5 miles.

​“It’s okay, lad. I can dispatch a car if you like.”

​“Where are the others?”

​“Further north, at Rudson, investigating an attempted break-in.”

​“You could give them a call and see how they’re doing. If they’re nearly finished, let ‘em know I’m going, and maybe they can meet me there later. After all, we don’t know what this is yet, and it’ll only take me a few minutes to walk round.”

​“If you’re sure,” said Cragg.

​“Course I am. Anyway, the doc said I needed the exercise for the leg. Can you trace the calls?”

​“I’ll use Charter to try to trace them. It’ll just take longer.” Charter was a software program the police used to obtain information from phone companies under the RIPA Act.

​Gary put his helmet on and stepped out the station front door. The sky was still dark with little cloud and no breeze, which made for a mild September morning. The road was quiet: no traffic, no people, not even a brave fox.

​The station was situated on Old Bramfield Road, to the north of the town, going towards Bursley Bridge and eventually Harrogate. Armitage’s place was in Carpenter’s Alley, behind the Market Square, at the foot of The Shambles. He estimated it would only take about ten minutes to walk, despite his leg.

​It took less than a minute for the bloody thing to start aching, an annoying pulsing sensation.

​The accident was still very clear in his mind. They were playing a team from Ilkley. One of their defenders was known locally – and nationally, he shouldn’t wonder – as “The Monster.” He’d been sent off more times than any other player in the league, and it was probably the sole reason that had stopped Ilkley Town achieving promotion. Maybe their manager would see that one day.

​The Bramfield defender, Steve Preece, had supplied the perfect cross for Gary. The goalkeeper was the only man to beat, and Gary reckoned it wasn’t much of a problem. Where The Monster had come from was anyone’s guess.

​Gary went down like a sack of spuds, even heard the break. He hadn’t felt any pain at first. He couldn’t remember the exact point at which he had felt pain, but it had more than made up for his initial lack of it.

​Mr. Sinclair had called it a ‘green stick’ break. His bones had been broken laterally in a jagged fashion, and they had needed to be straightened and pinned. The surgeon had been to see him a couple of times in hospital, gave him extra injections in the leg. He’d said it would take time, things would improve, but it was unlikely Gary would play football again. Not at Sunday League level, anyway.

​Mr. Sinclair would know. He was as good as anyone. Had to be to treat Gary’s mother the way he had done.

​Gary approached the crossroads in the town centre and turned right on to Wheelgate, passing the shops. He hadn’t seen any people on his walk, and passed only a couple of vehicles approaching from the south side, one of them was a bus with no passengers.

​He turned left on to Finkle Street, and his thoughts were once again with his mother.

​She had a type of brain cancer called glioma. He remembered the day when she had suddenly started having epileptic fits, right out of the blue. With progression, she’d had more, and had then grown forgetful.

​She was so frightened. So was he, come to mention it. He’d lost his father; he wanted to hang on to his mother.

​Gary approached the old library, which led to The Shambles. As Armitage’s hardware shop came into view, he could indeed see the light burning in the window, and the front door open.

​He glanced behind him and noticed Richard Jones with his pushbike, standing outside The Golden Lion pub. The man waved, wheeling his bike towards Gary. He was dressed in an old trench coat and trousers. Gary reckoned his age to be mid-fifties.

​He turned his attention to the old hardware store. It had been a part of the community for as long as he could remember, much longer in fact, as he read the sign above the shop that told him it had been established in 1939.

​It was a long fronted building made from different shades of brick, indicating when and where it had been extended. He suspected the main door at the far right side was not the original entrance, which was probably the more central one now used as a window display. To reach the shop you had to walk down four huge concrete steps, with a slope for wheelchairs running down the middle. To the far left were a cycle rack, and a huge potted plant. On the corner of the building an old-fashioned gas mantle was fixed to the wall, unlit.

​Gary was about to tell Richard Jones not to come too close when movement caught his attention. About thirty feet in front of him, where the shop ended and a wall separated it from the public toilets and the car park beyond, someone had stepped back into the shadows.

​At least, he thought someone had.

Bookish · Uncategorized

Busted – Michele I. Khoury: Excerpt (#LoveBooksGroupTours)

Impacted by the recession, twenty-four-year-old artist Gina McKenna is down to her last few dollars and days away from living in her car when a successful businessman buys a painting and commissions another. As their relationship evolves, she’s seduced by his charm and mesmerized by his luxurious lifestyle until she discovers he’s a drug kingpin. As her world turns upside down, she struggles to survive vicious brutality. 

Miguel Lopez is a cocaine supplier with a weightlifter’s physique and ‘the rules do not apply to me’ attitude. Maniacal and ruthless, he has no qualms about killing anyone who interferes with his distribution network, including Gina. 

Dedicated to eradicating illegal drugs, DEA Special Agent Bobby Garcia spent months and hundreds of thousands of dollars working undercover to buy his way up a dealer chain to identify the moneyman. When his fourteen-year-old daughter overdoses on cocaine, he traces the blow to Lopez. As Bobby’s mission becomes personal, he makes emotional decisions, which negatively impact civilians and his job. Unable to let go, he risks his career to orchestrate the biggest drug sting in Southern California. What happens isn’t what he expected. 

When a deputy district attorney meets Gina at a party, he is smitten. As his attraction grows, so does Gina’s involvement with the DEA’s case, of which he is the designated prosecutor. Mindful of his professional ethics, he tries to stifle his feelings. 

Sex and violence permeate the twists and turns of this cautionary tale about choosing one’s friends well.

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Today, I am excited to be able to share an excerpt with you from Michele Khoury’s debut novel: Busted. I hope you will love it! You can find Michele on Twitter @MicheleKhoury.

 

Chapter 1 Gina: Movie-Star Smile

September 2018

The next afternoon, Gina lugged her easels and canvases to the greenbelt in Heisler Park, determined to sell her paintings during the Thursday Evening Laguna Beach Art Walk. All day, she’d pinned her hopes on a prosperous local or a tourist buying an ocean scene. Taking a deep breath, she repeated her mantra for the hundredth time: “I will be successful.” She just wished she didn’t feel so darn vulnerable.

When she reached the bluffs overlooking the Southern California coastline, the May Gray had burned off, and the late afternoon sun cast an orange glow on the glassy water below. As she inhaled the salty air, she imagined the French Impressionists leaving their stuffy studios to paint outside and establishing the plein air style she embraced. Just thinking about her craft lifted her spirits.

“I’ll be successful,” she told herself again. But what if I’m not?

Where else could she live? She’d tried renting a bedroom or sharing an apartment, but no one wanted her messy oils stinking up their environment. When she’d found the converted garage with the broom closet-sized bathroom, a mile from the ocean in Corona del Mar, she’d been ecstatic. If she had to relinquish her studio apartment, then what would she do? Was couch surfing her future? She would in a pinch, but hated to impose. What was the alternative? The street? No, no way. Then where? Her car? In a million years, she never expected to live in her old tiny Toyota. Her stomach churned like the ocean’s waves.

She propped up the tripods on the grass along the snaking sidewalk. While arranging the canvases, she scanned the area. There were families with frolicking children and couples picnicking, but no artists. Perfect. No competition.

A middle-aged policeman strode up.

“Hello, Officer.”

“Are you selling these?”

His accusatory tone caused her to hesitate. “Yes.”

“There’s an ordinance against transacting business in the park.”

She gasped. “I’m sorry. I didn’t know.” She and other artists had sold there many times.

“Laguna Beach doesn’t want street vendors competing with the galleries. There’s a $250 fine.”

Oh, no. How in the world would she pay it?

Loud voices captured their attention. Thirty yards away, a Hispanic man with a weightlifter’s physique and a tiger-face tattoo on his back shoved a taller, leaner guy wearing a white suit. The well-dressed man held balled fists by his sides and shouted. Red-faced, they looked as if they’d brawl at any moment.  

As the cop sprinted toward the quarrel, he called over his shoulder, “Let this be a warning.”

Relieved at not being fined, she found herself captivated by the unusual brawl in the upscale city.

The officer intervened. Within a few seconds, the well-dressed guy’s demeanor changed and his body relaxed. He must have made a witty comment because the cop chuckled, shook his head, and walked away. A minute later, the thug stormed off. The white-suited man headed in her direction.

Detesting violence, she shivered at the negative energy and returned to stacking her canvases.

A buff bronzed man power walked past. In one hand, he held the leashes of two white standard poodles, a Golden Retriever, a black Lab and a German Shepherd. Unlike her, he was in control.

Yeah, like she could control the sinking economy. So if she couldn’t sell in the park, where else could she solicit business? She needed professional exposure, like an exhibit. She decided to pursue the local galleries and envisioned having a marketing piece professionally printed. Realizing she couldn’t afford it, she’d create it on her computer and produce it on her printer instead.

Selling had never been this difficult. She was fourteen when she’d made her first sale, and her art teachers had called her a prodigy. During college, as well as the last couple years, income from her art had supported her. She prayed the dry spell ended soon.

Want to keep reading? Grab your copy of Busted, over on Amazon! Available in both Paperback and Kindle editions