book reviews · Bookish · Uncategorized

The Penny Black by Rob Parker (Review)

Happy weekend! Today, it’s my pleasure to bring you a review of The Penny Black by Rob Parker. This is the third installment in his Ben Bracken thriller series and is available now on Kindle and as part of Kindle Unlimited. Rob very kindly sent me an ARC of his book. Thanks, Rob!

The Penny Black is the third installment in the Ben Bracken thriller series, and while you can read it alone, I feel it may feel a little lacking if you’ve not read the previous books as it makes reference to past events without spending a whole lot of time going back over them. (I was actually on the tour for his previous book – Morte Point and hosted a fab guest post if you fancy a peek after you’re done here!)

Bracken is on the run and has bunkered down in the small town of Horning, with an unsavoury job at a boatyard and living a fairly minimalist lifestyle, under a new identity, going by the name of James, keeping his head down and cracking after his escape from prison during the riot and after the events of the previous book. All in all, he seems pretty contented – that is, until his past catches up to him.

Ben is a good guy whose done bad things, in my view. His ego gets him in to quite a few pickles, he could fill an entire jar. What seems like just deterring some youth’s from breaking in to someones boat, turns in to being a part of a much bigger situation – one Bracken hadn’t accounted for. Big things are happening in that little town, and Bracken just can’t help himself.

The Penny Black is the name of Bracken’s new local. It’s also the title of this well written, fast paced thriller, that just keeps you guessing. I figured his past would come back, but I had no idea what was in store. I was unable to put it down as the action unfolded. Bracken isn’t a clear cut “good guy” or “hero” or whatever you call him, he’s a murky sort and to date, is one of my favourite characters in a thriller.

The book ends in action and pretty abruptly. There’s no frilly ending, just a resolution to the conflict/obstacle and it’s over. Some people might not like that sort of ending, but for me, it just feels like it’s an invitation to read the next installment (Til morning is nigh) coming later this year. I’m very much looking forward to it. I am a fan of series where one book runs in to the next and I find myself most invested in their protaganists. Rob has me as a fan for life.

About the Book

I’m dead, for all intents and purposes. Nobody knows I’m alive…

Ben Bracken is on the run for his life. Keeping a low profile from the agencies seeking to silence him, he finds refuge in the quiet town of Horning. Working in a boat yard and lodging with an older couple, Eric and Dot, Ben uses this time to plan. He needs to escape, and realising his only chance will reveal his whereabouts to some unsavoury characters, he plans every detail. Little does he know, even that won’t be enough…

Just before he walks away, murder strikes the quiet town. Ben cannot leave until he is sure that he has not brought any further trouble to the townsfolk. Will he be able to exact revenge? One thing is certain, there is a lot more going on in the town of Horning than meets the eye…

The Penny Black is action packed from beginning to end, keeping you guessing right the way through.

book reviews · Bookish

The Revenge Trail by A.A Abbott (Review)

Hi! Today I am on the blog tour for The Revenge Trail by A.A Abbott. This is the fourth installment to the series and it is available now in both Paperback and Kindle editions – it’s also available as part of Kindle Unlimited!

The Revenge Trail is the fourth and most recent installment in the Trail series. One thing I love is that the author offers this series in large print and dyslexia-friendly versions for those who don’t have e-readers.

The Revenge Trail brings together characters met previously in the series in another vodka-fuelled tale. Returning to the stage is our main lady! Kat White and vodka salesman/business partner, Marty Bridges. Kat is an excellent distiller of vodka and Marty wants to monetize that alongside his sales of Snow Mountain vodka which comes from a distillery now owned by Kat’s mum. However, disaster strikes when Marty gets a tainted delivery and a lot of the book for Marty is all about damage control for the the situation and his financial losses.

Kat wants to just make her Starshine vodka, leave her criminal past behind and focus on her dreams. Unfortunately for her, Shaun Halloran, who we met in the first book, decides to show his face. I won’t go in to the details in case you’ve not read previous installments (you should fix that!) and because I don’t want to spoil later content in the book.

I really enjoy how Kat has developed as a character, she’s far better person than she was when she was first introduced – she seems to have grown a lot and includes others in her equations now.

The chapters are short and not filled with fluff; I really enjoy that about this series and it makes it really easy to just consume a chapter when on the go or waiting for a bus or something, but without feeling like things are lacking or that things have been cut short. Just like the previous books in the series, this was well paced and enjoyable from start to finish.

While I feel you could read this book as a stand-alone, you’d get far more enjoyment out of it if you have read the other parts of the series as this really rounds out some characters stories and plot lines and brings them to an end, so while I recommend this book, I would definitely suggest you go read the other installments first! If you’re interested and didn’t see it before, you can read my review of the first book here.

About the Book

VODKA TO DIE FOR…

Kat’s craft vodka brand makes it big, but a crazed murderer’s on her trail.

Glamorous blonde Kat White makes the best vodka in the world. At last, her craft vodka from Birmingham is going places, while the mother who abandoned her faces financial ruin.

So does vodka salesman Marty Bridges. Kat doesn’t trust him, but she has to save his business or hers will go under too.

That’s not her biggest problem. Crazed murderer Shaun Halloran wants to kill her, even if it means breaking out of jail to take his revenge.

Kat dreams of love, riches and success in her life – but shouldn’t she just focus on staying alive?

With twists, tension, secrets and suspense – “The Revenge Trail” is a gripping crime thriller that will draw you into Kat’s exciting world.  

About the Author

English thriller writer AA Abbott’s real name is Helen Blenkinsop. She loves city life, having lived and worked in London, Birmingham and Bristol. Her crime thrillers, set in Birmingham and London, sizzle with suspense, twists and the evils of office politics.

Helen’s books are available in a dyslexia-friendly large print as well as standard paperback and Kindle editions.

Her Trail Series follows the fortunes of glamorous blonde Kat White, a party girl who finds her purpose making vodka, shrewd businessman Marty Bridges, and manipulative East End crime lord Shaun Halloran


book reviews · Bookish

Stitched by Cheryl Elaine (Review)

Today I am pleased to be bringing you a review as part of the Baker’s Blog Tour for Stitched by Cheryl Elaine, out now in both Paperback and Kindle editions and also available as part of Kindle Unlimited.

This book, holy moly. I had to really think about my review for this one. This book is brutal. I’m going to say that straight up. It has such horrendous things happen in it, yet it’s not police procedural type-of-book and I feel maybe that made it feel more raw and harder to swallow, you don’t know about a team that are fighting for the victims, not really. This book was excellent, the things that happen in it are absolutely awful. I don’t want my praise of the book to seem like I condone the occurrence of it’s content at all and I feel like it DOES need a content warning because it isn’t made clear just how much brutality is within its pages.

You can gather from the blurb that there is domestic violence and murder, what you don’t glean from that is that it also features a whole host of other horrific instances. My face when reading it was quite the contorted one, but I couldn’t put it down.

Emily lives with her husband, Andy. Andy is an alcoholic and a wife-beater, amongst other things. The book immediately opens on a scene of abuse. Emily can not escape his abuse – and neither can the reader. I thought that was a significant thing to do. It’s unpleasant but it feels realistic. It’s an unrelenting situation. There are certain things that are incredibly repetitive in the book, the language used by both Emily and Andy, however, this works in this case as it’s seems very realistic for a victim and her abuser. The feelings of being trapped, that she’ll die at his hands, how did she end up in that situation? And for Andy, that she belongs to him, she needs a “firm hand” and to be “kept in line” and that it’s just discipline.

Later on, it gets more out of control and we discover a whole host of even more messed up things which I didn’t think was possible and the reason for the title and a certain sort of language used in the blurb begins to become apparent. I don’t want to post spoilers, but I do want readers to be aware that this book contains substance abuse, kidnapping, serial rape, serial murder, incest, mutilation, domestic violence and yet only the smallest sliver of justice, but I suppose this is also fairly realistic too, bruises and other wounds take time to fade and those mental ones take a whole lot longer – the book itself has a similar effect. I feel like I need a good shower, to cuddle my cat and to do something positive. It’s going to linger with me for a while. The author really gets to you with this gruesome, brutally raw book and I am not bad about it. It’s a damn good read. It’s so well written, I can’t really think of other ways to convey just how great it was written. It feels wrong to say I loved it when it was so…yeah.

It’s engaging, it is riveting, I couldn’t put it down and I had to know what would happen and if Emily would get freedom, if Andy would be caught, if Emily’s new neighbor, Donovan would be her savior. I was not prepared for the plot twist later on in the book, I was incredibly surprised to read it and I didn’t see it coming though I could imagine there was something amiss, but what I really didn’t see coming was the ending. This book doesn’t really have a happy ending, and that final twist had me actually shout at the book. I swear, by the end, my face hurt from all the faces of disgust and shock I pulled throughout reading it.

It’s complicated, but I would recommend this book, but you also need to consider if you’re mentally equipped to handle so much brutality in one story. I’ve done my best to try and make you aware of it and now only you can decide whether you’ll pick it up or not and if you’ll go to that dark place with Emily. I’m glad I did. I feel in shock, but I also feel a host of appreciation for things in my life and so thankful that I have never been in such an awful abusive situation. It should be the norm, but there are many women AND men who suffer like this regularly. They’re missing in society because of people like Andy and that’s heart wrenching.

About The Book

A gruesome tale of control, fear and brutality.

Marriage is not the bed of roses story books describe. More like a bed of torturous thorns.

And, how Emily bled.

Escape seemed an illusion, a mirage of a rocky road between overgrown thickets of despair. Emily couldn’t see any light at the end of the tunnel; she wasn’t allowed to dream or think for herself and had no alternative other than submitting to his rage.

Andy was a narcissist. Emily could not, and would not, disregard his superiority. Her naivety often clouded her judgment; she was damaged both mentally and physically. Would putting her trust in another lead her to a happy ending?

About The Author

Cheryl Elaine is a British Author, and resides in Yorkshire.  Throughout her life she has been an avid reader and wrote many short stories, which lead her on a path to the world of publishing. She released her debut novel – No Ordinary Girl, followed by her latest release – Stitched.

I hope you enjoy my dark and disturbing crime books, and if you fancy reading something lighter, why not check out my fantasy novel – Dragged to the Depths.

You can find out more about me, at the following places

https://www.cherylelaine.co.uk/

https://www.facebook.com/cherylelaineauthor

https://www.instagram.com/cherylelaine15/

book reviews · Bookish

The Grass Trail by AA Abbott (Excerpt)

Today I am on the tour for The Grass Trail by AA Abbott, the third book in the Trail Series. It’s out now both in Paperback and Kindle Formats and is available as part of Kindle Unlimited.

The kettle hissed, rocked, and jolted to a halt. “Want a brew?” Shaun offered.

“Please. Milk, one sugar.” Jenner held out his plastic mug. “Thanks. Hot and wet; that’s how I like it. Are you married, by the way?”

“No,” Shaun replied. “My wife died a few years back.” He added brusquely, “Of natural causes. And don’t get any ideas. I’m strictly hetero.” He didn’t suppose Jenner had the nerve to make a pass at him, but it wasn’t impossible for the MP to feel some attraction. Shaun’s Irish heritage had blessed him with good looks; even pushing fifty, his now-grey hair was thick, his blue eyes large, his body trim and well-muscled. The paunch he’d developed on the outside was gone; he was back in shape at last, his muscles honed by the gym and judicious use of smuggled steroids.

“Of course,” Jenner said soothingly. He pointed to the gallery of photographs on the wall. Torn from magazines and haphazardly fixed with blobs of toothpaste, their ragged edges were curling. “Who’s that? Your girlfriend?”

Shaun sipped his tea. The sweetened breakfast cereal was beginning to boost his blood sugar. He felt less groggy. “No,” he said, unwilling to be drawn any further. He would never admit to Jenner how he’d been charmed by Kat’s looks and posh accent, had offered her a job in his unlicensed casino in the hope of knowing her better. It had all gone horribly wrong. She’d disappeared, and so had twenty thousand pounds from the gambling den. It had taken a wild goose chase to weird Cold War tunnels in Birmingham to establish the truth: Kat wasn’t a thief. She’d seen Shaun kill the culprit, though, and had held a gun to his head in the tussle that followed. No one, least of all a woman, should have had that power over him. As if that wasn’t enough, it had been her evidence that had sent him down. His lips tightened.

Jenner wouldn’t stop. “Who is she?” he persisted. “A model? I’m sure I’ve seen her in the news. You know, you must have one, two, three – my goodness, ten pictures, all of the same woman.”

“Forget it, okay?” Shaun snapped. “She used to work for me. I’m looking forward to seeing her again.” His eyes lingered on the picture showing the most cleavage. There was no doubt he’d enjoy a reunion with Kat. Finally, she’d see who was boss. The pleasure would be his alone, and all the sweeter for it.

About the Book

Shaun knows who put him inside – and he wants to make her pay…

Shaun Halloran wouldn’t be in prison if glamorous Kat White hadn’t taken his gun. Pictures of the stunning blonde are plastered all over his cell. As soon as he can escape, she’s dead. But with his criminal empire crumbling, he can’t trust anyone.

Kat, panicked by poison pen letters, has nowhere to turn. Her parents are dead and her brother’s ill. Even her sexy new business partner may not be what he seems. When she receives life-changing news, vodka is the only answer…

A tense crime thriller with plenty of twists, “The Grass Trail” races through Birmingham, London and the former Soviet Union – tempting you to turn each page.

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

Hunters Revenge by Val Penny (Excerpt)

Today I am on the tour for Hunters Revenge by Val Penny, out now and available in Kindle and Paperback formats. It is also available on Kindle Unlimited (Use my link for 30 days free!). This book is the sequel to Hunters Chase; I recently shared a guest post from the author (Plotting in Novels) as part of another promotional tour for that book.

Much of the action in Hunter’s Revenge revolves around the car showroom and garage Thomson’s Top Cars. Here we meet Jamie and Frankie who are running the business while Jamie’s father, Ian, is in jail.

“I’m glad we’re doing this together,” Jamie said to his cousin. “I know having to leave us in charge is stressing Pop out!”

“Aye, probably more stress than his time in prison could ever have done. But at least you’ve passed your driving test now.”

Frankie could have been reading his uncle’s mind. Ian Thomson had just under two months to go before he was eligible for parole, and in the meantime could only hope that Jamie and Frankie didn’t do anything too stupid to ruin his business. At least the wee receptionist, Jenny Kozlowski, seemed to have a bit of common sense.

“I’ll be a bit late in today, Frankie, can you hold the fort?”

“Aye. What you up to, then?”

“Nothing much. It’s just that it’s Jenny’s birthday, and I’m going to pick up cakes for all of us for coffee break.”

“If it’s her birthday, she should buy the cakes. That’s what the rest of us all do,” Frankie protested. “You fancy her, don’t you?”

“Don’t be stupid!”

“Aye you do. Well, I won’t tell the guys in the workshop, if I can get a chocky doughnut.”

“Piss off, Frankie.”

“Am I getting a chocky doughnut, then?”

“Aye,” Jamie grinned.

***

Jamie was disappointed to see Frankie at the reception desk when he walked in.

“Where’s Jenny, cuz?” he called over to Frankie.

“Dunno. Not even a phone call. And she’s well late now.”

“Well, she must be somewhere, her coat’s here. She looks good in red.”

“Well she’s not anywhere, as far as I can see.”

“She’s usually early. Wonder what’s up.” Jamie rubbed his hands together. It might be spring according to the time of year, but with its wide glass front and the open garage at the back, the showroom was cold.

“She maybe went to get cakes,” Frankie suggested hopefully.

“Without her coat? I doubt it!” Jamie retorted.

“Well, she was probably out on the lash last night and slept in.”

“Could be, but I still can’t see her leaving last night without her coat.” Jamie shrugged and turned away, trying to hide his disappointment. “It’s fucking freezing in here. I’ll make us a coffee first to warm us up, then I’ll try phoning her.”

“Phone her first, Jamie. You know you want to.”

When Jamie wandered back to reception from the office he plonked a mug of coffee in front of Frankie.

“Her mam says she never went home last night. Do you know if she was going out with pals or the like?”

“I don’t know. You gave that guy a test drive in the Bentley and I went home. A fellow came in just as I was leaving, but Jenny said she would see to him because she would stay on and lock up with you.” Frankie smiled. “I thought, aye aye, nudge nudge, say no more. So off I went. I picked up the twins from their child minder on the way home. You know?”

Jamie frowned. “She wasn’t here when I got back, and the showroom wasn’t locked up. I was pretty pissed off about that. But I couldn’t see nothing missing, so when the guy said he wanted to think about the Bentley, I just locked up and came home.”

“Nothing was missing except Jenny, you mean.”

“I didn’t know that. I thought you’d both just buggered off.”

“Like we’d ever do that. Your pop would skin us alive when he got hold of us. Do you think I’ve got a death wish?”

“Funny accent the man had,” Jamie said. “European or something.”

“Jamie?” The head mechanic, Gary, called across the showroom. “Where’s that old blue Volvo that was waiting to go through its service?”

“What old Volvo? I don’t know. Don’t you keep a log of all the cars you work on?” Jamie asked angrily.

“Aye, but we didn’t get to this one yesterday. It was just waiting outside for us to get started this morning. The customer asked us to give it a service, then put it up for sale. Said he had a buyer for it who’d pay eight grand, but he might need a test drive first. I told him he’d need a brain test if he was paying that much for that car. But it seems like he was right; it must have been sold. ”

“So what happened to the paperwork?” Jamie shouted. “We’ve not sold any fucking old Volvo. Where is the damn thing?”

“No idea.”

“So what do I do now? Jenny’s not in, and a fucking car has gone missing. This is a truly rubbish start to the day. Pop is going to bloody skin me.”

Frankie shrugged, “Phone Jenny’s mam back? Maybe the man she spoke to took the Volvo.”

“I suppose I should. I don’t fancy it though. She shouts. I don’t think she likes me. Then what do I tell Pop about the car?”

“I think you’ll need a chocky doughnut before you do that. I know I will!”

“I’ll need more than a fucking chocky doughnut, Frankie, if we’ve lost one of his customer’s cars.”

About the Book

Hunter by name – Hunter by nature: DI Hunter Wilson will not rest until his friend’s death is avenged.

DI Hunter Wilson is called to the scene of a murder. He is shocked to find the victim is his friend and colleague, George Reinbold. Who would want to harm the quiet, old man? Why was a book worth £23,000 delivered to him that morning? Why is the security in George’s home so intense?

Hunter must investigate his friend’s past as well as the present to identify the killer and identify George’s killer. Hunter also finds a new supply of cocaine from Peru flooding HMP Edinburgh and the city.

The courier leads Hunter to the criminal gang but Hunter requires the help of his nemesis, the former Chief Constable, Sir Peter Myerscough and local gangster Ian Thomson to make his case. Hunter’s perseverance and patience are put to the test time after time in this taught crime thriller.

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.

book reviews · Bookish

The Judas Tree by Susan Bacoyanis (Review)

The Judas Tree is the second book in the linked series by Susan Bacoyanis, available now, published by Endeavour Media. It is a short read [185 pages] suited for anyone who is a fan women’s psychological thrillers. It’s available both in Paperback and Kindle formats and is available on Kindle Unlimited. If you’ve not tried Kindle Unlimited before, you can get a free, 30 day trial here!

Mary, a 46-year-old divorcee, is a damaged woman who endured many years of abuse and buried it, never dealing with her issues or her feelings surrounding what she went through. She is convinced that she does what is best for the greater good and that her actions are justified.

Having been left for a younger woman, she moves to England. Beginning an affair with her new neighbour across the road, Jonas, she is now the “other woman,” in a relationship with a married man. A man who is nasty, taunting her with the nursery rhyme “Mary, Mary, quite contrary” and already a clearly unfaithful man, he goes on to betray her too. Watching out of her windows, she sees that Jonas has other regular female visitors and is cheating on her, so she sets out for revenge in this dark, psychological thriller.

The history of Mary Tudor is woven through the book and the author explores abuse throughout; some of the acts are taken from real life events in an attempt to generate awareness.

There are so many twists and turns, this book is a wild ride and will grip you from start to finish as you witness Mary’s crusade for revenge and how she deals with her “three blind mice.” Despite becoming a murderess, you can feel empathy for Mary and all she has endured and the series of events that led to her doing the things she did.

My only criticism is that some of the police procedural didn’t ring true, but it didn’t hinder my enjoyment at all as this book is not focused around a police investigation.

Filled with twists and turns, The Judas Tree will have you hooked from start to finish.

Mary Webster’s reaction to her lover’s betrayal is off the chart…Mary seems like an ordinary 46-year-old divorcee, beginning a new life in rural England, but she has depths of pent-up pain, the result of 20 years of marital infidelities and abuse. All she needs is a trigger to unleash savage emotions.


When she becomes entangled with Jonas, a married man, Mary suddenly finds herself in the opposite role of the ‘other woman’. Jonas has a nasty streak, however, and taunts with the nursery rhyme ‘Mary, Mary quite contrary…’.


But when Mary uncovers Jonas’s web of seductive lies, betraying not only herself but his wife and several young village women, she plots her revenge and acts out the real meaning of the nursery rhyme…
As things go from bad to worse, Mary is driven over the edge of normality. Because Mary is not normal … she is damaged. Her only redeeming quality is her belief that she is acting for the greater good …

Susan Bacoyanis’s intriguing psychological thriller The Judas Tree is a chilling tale of multiple acts of betrayal and the consequences of greed. It has deep echoes of Penelope Mortimer’s angry woman classic of the Sixties, The Pumpkin Eater.

Bookish · Uncategorized

Favourite Character to Write (Guest Post)

Today, I am really pleased to be bringing you a guest post from fellow Staffordshire county…human JF Burgess, author of The Killer Shadow Thieves which is available now in both Paperback and Kindle formats; it’s also available on Kindle Unlimited. You can read his post and find out more below!



Favourite character to write.

That’s got to be the protagonist, 45-year-old widowed detective Tom Blake, whose wife and 10-year-old son was tragically killed in a fatal hit and run car crash ten years ago. Tom was driving at the time and his daughter Isabel was also in the car, both miraculously escaped the accident with minor cuts and bruises – but he still suffers from emotional flashbacks and neck pain from whiplash caused by the accident. They never caught the joyrider who killed his family but he vows to bring the perpetrator to justice once day.

He’s an intuitive, firm but fair detective who hates sitting hunched over a computer and loves the thrill of the chase and adrenaline rush you can only get from this type of job. A bit of a perfectionist, who thrives on the uncertainty of each new case and the thrill of the hunt, which brings out the dark side of his personality when good triumphs over evil?

He’s a great leader, but also quite vulnerable at times, which makes him very likeable and real. And like all good detectives, he has to fight tooth and nail for every bit of ground gained against the criminal underworld.
I really enjoyed developing his character and watching him grow. I see a lot of myself in him which is only natural I suppose. Ultimately, I think readers will enjoy rooting for him whilst trying to work out who the murder really is?
Heather Eames at Book Jar Journeys reviews sums the reader character connection up when she says…
“The characters and their development throughout the novel are a definite highlight for me. As the story progressed, I was more drawn in and intrigued by what was going on. I also enjoyed (perhaps the wrong word) the family drama that was introduced and think that it made the characters more human, I was reading with my heart in my mouth when his daughter was kidnapped!”

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Blurb

Widowed detective DI Tom Blake sets off a chain of events that change his life forever, when the brutal murder of an alcoholic skinhead, and arrest of a vicious Turkish loan shark, unwittingly disrupts an international gang’s daring plans to steal the world-famous Staffordshire Hoard.

In a cruel twist of fate, Blake’s daughter is kidnapped and the trail propels the bereft detective on a personal quest to Miami to save her life. Operating outside the law, he enters into an illicit showdown with a mysterious artefacts Collector, almost costing him his life.

As the body count rises, Blake and his team struggle to unravel the conspiracy of a shadowy killer who leaves no trace. With only circumstantial evidence against each of the suspects, they hit a wall, until twenty-six-year-old photographs linking them to the murdered skinhead emerge. It seems the victim’s depraved past is the key to identifying the killer.

Can the police uncover the truth through all the lies and deception, and crack the case before someone else gets killed? And will they recover a legendary national treasure, worth millions, before it’s lost forever?

jfburgess

Author Bio

I grew up in Stoke-on-Trent and spent many years doing less than ideal jobs in and around the Potteries five towns, before finally taking the plunge and quitting work to follow my creative side. As a keen horse-racing fan, I started off in 2007 self-publishing betting how-to manuals.

This is my main business, but my real passion is for crime fiction, both reading and writing.

Inspired by authors such as Mel Sherratt, Peter James, Val McDermid, James Oswald, Kate Ellis, Martina Cole and Ian Rankin, and in need of a new challenge, I decided to try my hand at writing crime fiction.

After months of hard slog and sheer determination, I finished my first novel: The Killer Shadow Thieves. This is the first in a planned series of gritty crime fiction books set in Stoke on Trent, involving charismatic DI Tom Blake and his larger-than-life sidekick DS Jon Murphy.

The follow up, The Deadly Legacy, is a cult serial killer thriller, with a 200-year-old secret at the heart of a plot full of unexpected twists, which push the relationships of a rich pottery family into life-threatening conflicts.

I write tense, gripping, crime fiction mysteries with a twist – or urban crossbreed, as I call it. My thrillers take you deep inside the criminal mind.

I live with my wife and family in Stoke-on-Trent, England. You can find out more about me at www.jfburgess.co.uk, or on Twitter at @burgess1012.

Bookish · Uncategorized

Blood, White and Blue by James Silverster (Excerpt)

Hey. Another Bookish post already? I know right! There are just so many great books! Today I’m on the tour for Blood, White and Blue by James Silvester, the first book in his Lucie Musilova series. Today I am sharing an excerpt with you! You can find out more on other tour stops if you wish! This book is released on November 8th 2018 in both Paperback and Kindle Editions and will be available on Kindle Unlimited.

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Blurb

Love, deception and murder dominate as thriller writer James Silvester delivers the first in the Lucie Musilova series.

Britain is a hotbed of racial tension and economic uncertainty. Only Sir Geoffrey Hartnell, an ageing but hugely respected MP, can bring about a successful resolution to the talks, but a ghost from the past threatens to bring the UK to its knees.

Lucie Musilova meanwhile, is a young woman running out of places to hide. Half-British, half-Czech and rejected by both countries in the aftermath of Brexit, she meets ‘Mr. Lake’, the eccentric Head of a branch of the intelligence services known as The Overlappers, and is press ganged into service on the Huxley case.

As events spiral out of control it becomes clear it is not just Lucie’s life that is at stake, but the future of the very nation.

The new thriller from the bestselling author of Escape to Perdition and The Prague Ultimatum, is a gripping tale of corruption and perfect for fans of Luke Jennings, Daniel Silva and Stella Rimington. If you’re a fan of Killing Eve you’ll love this!

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The grounds of the British Embassy, Prague, 1968.

PROLOGUE

A ferocious and unwelcome sweat brought on by the August heat,
erupted on the brow of the young Civil Servant as he raised the
gun in an awkward and wholly unfamiliar movement, his aim
distorted by the shaking in his arm and his nervous clenching of
the revolver’s grip.
“I could stop you,” he intoned, straining against the daily agony
he felt in his arm to keep the weapon levelled on his foe. “I should
stop you.”
“Be my guest,” replied the second man, pushing his black trilby
back above his brow and defiantly staring beyond the wavering
gun barrel into the eyes of his accoster. “You might as well finish
the job; it’s the least you can do after this.”
The second figure was as young as the first, but stood straighter
than his counterpart, his features were more cruelly arranged, and he
wore an altogether fiercer expression on them, no doubt born from
the furious rage he felt towards the gunman before him. But while
his face was etched with anger, his opponent’s radiated only anguish.
“Oh, I think I’ve finished the job well enough, don’t you? The
whole Embassy knows by now, knows that you are a traitor,
nothing more than a Communist Patsy.”
“Bastard!”
“Language, Old Boy,” the first man smirked through his obvious
pain, as through trying to enjoy his moment to the full but his
heart denying him the pleasure. “You can’t pretend you don’t
deserve this, or that you didn’t know the moment was coming. It
was always coming, ever since you decided upon betrayal.”
“Then put a bullet in my brain and get it over with, will you?
Spare me your gloating.”
From across the courtyard, the gunman slowly lowered his
arm, a twinge of sadness further diluting the loathing which he
had yearned to surrender to.
“No,” he answered, simply, eliciting a frown of reluctant
curiosity in response. “There’s only one place you can go, Old
Boy. In seconds, the security will descend upon you and drag you
back to Britain in chains. You’ll be paraded across the front page
of every paper in the land, your face jeered at nightly on every
television unless you run.”
“Run where?”
“To your suitors, of course; to the Reds. The Dubček regime
is doomed and the Hardliners are waiting in the wings. I’m sure
they’d welcome you with open arms, after all, you’re the man who
killed the Prague Spring.”
“You’re not serious…” the desperate man half-whispered, almost
incredulous at what he was hearing. “You really can’t be serious.”
“What’s the matter? You always wanted to make your mark
on history, and now you have. Whether you run or not, you’ll be
remembered forever for this,” came the response. “You can either
spend your life reeling from your castigation in a prison cell, or
else you can embrace it here as a hero; a hero of sorts anyway.”
There was no choice that he could see, the other man’s logic was
sound, and he had always considered himself a logical man; that
was what had gotten him into this mess to start with. But a lifetime
here, with them?
“We were right about you,” he said after a moment. “All this
time, we were right about you. This is a death sentence just the
same as if you put a bullet between my eyes, you know that. But
then, you never did have the courage to fire a gun, did you, Geoff?
And that arm of yours doesn’t look strong enough to take the shot
anyway, does it?”
“No,” Geoff quietly conceded. “But it isn’t just my gun you
need to be wary of, and you never did have the courage to take
a bullet, to be the one to take the pain, did you Alex? That’s why
you’ll run.”
The sun was getting hotter and Alex could hear the sound of
boots getting closer. He turned his back to Geoff, to the Embassy
and to his country, the country he had pledged to serve, and
stepped closer to the gate, through which lay whatever he could
turn into his destiny. As he stepped through, he turned back, just
one more question on his lips.
“Why did you do this?” he asked solemnly. “Just so you can say
you stopped the man who betrayed Britain?”
“Screw Britain,” the slighter man replied with equal solemnity
from across the courtyard. “You betrayed me.”
He nodded, his acceptance of the answer as reluctant as that of
his situation and drew his first breath as a man on the run from
his country.
“Goodbye, Geoffrey,” he shouted through the gate. “Don’t get
too comfortable, don’t ever let your guard down. Hell is a lonely
place and that’s where you’re sending me. Don’t be surprised when
I come back looking for company.” He doffed his trilby in faux
salute to the Embassy, then turned and set off at a jog into a life in
the chaos and fear of a Russian invasion.
“Goodbye, Alexander,” Geoffrey whispered back, before the
heat and his emotion overpowered him and he fell to the ground,
his knees, and his gun, dropping uselessly to the cobbles.

book reviews · Bookish · Uncategorized

Chasing Monsters by Paul Harrison – Review

chasing-monsters

Hey guys. Today I’m bringing you a review on this new release from Urbane Books – Chasing Monsters by Paul Harrison. It came out on the 4th October 2018 and is a crime thriller, available in both Paperback and Kindle formats – to buy and to borrow as part of Kindle Unlimited.
A pretty cool fun fact about the author is that he has spent a lot of his professional life working within the UK’s criminal justice system, primarily as a police officer, however he has also worked as a dog handler and criminal profiler, as well as working with the (now defunct) FBI’s Behavioural Science Unit in Quantico.

The first thrilling book in the Will Scott series.

In a sleepy northern seaside resort, The Eastborough Police Force is shocked into action when a heavily mutilated body is found in a quiet suburb. Murder rarely happens in these parts. Within a short space of time, the body count begins to rise rapidly, as a serial killer runs amok.

DI Will Scott is tasked with finding the murderer. In so doing he treads paths he never expected to traverse and uncovers a web of deceit where no one can be trusted.

The killer relentlessly continues to strike terror across the community, but without warning, the killing ground changes. Where will the killer strike next …?

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The first thing I have to note about this book, is the book itself. The cover is gorgeous and very suitable for the book. It’s only now I’ve finished the book in it’s entirety, that I feel I really understand it. Many books have fantastic covers, but there are few I feel have had this much thought go in to them. There are also themed chapter pages and wings throughout which is a lovely touch and matches very well with an element revealed later in the book.

The book jumps right in with finding a person on the beach and a lot of dialogue, using a lot of very British lingo which US readers may have a bit of trouble with – however, I believe it to be quite an accurate representation how many of us (English folk) speak. This sort of fades out though and the writing relaxes a little more, or it feels that way to myself at least.

The start feels quite structured and I struggled with it. This is character, here are details about character. It felt a little overwhelming and “for the sake of it” but things were upwards once these details were disclosed to the reader and everything felt like it was advancing the story. I may have struggled with the start, but by the end, I couldn’t put it down.

It doesn’t take too long for us to get to the first proper crime scene and this really had me hanging on. Harrison has you hanging on and makes you work for the details. The built up suspense is excellent and it was from this point that I realised he had me hooked. The nature of the corpses was a grim one and there are a few elements that sound like implausible scenarios and unrealistic reactions for experienced police officers; when the team go through the crime scene later on is a prime example. It really bugged me at the time, but it’s pretty minor in the grand scheme of things and by the next crime, I’d forgotten all about it.

The book is well paced and becomes quite easy to read from cover to cover. There are constantly events happening with no “lull” that would be convenient for the police. There are force politics involved, as with many crime books, however, not the expected “ah, budgets” and things like that. Very different to the usual office politics I’ve come to expect from crime fiction.

It’s quite a ride. The book has you question your own morality when you discover the victims are bad people themselves. Did they deserve to be murdered? Is it justice? Should we feel sympathy regardless or quietly celebrate? It really gives you a lot to think about.

I avoid mentioning mid-end books of spoilers, however I can talk about this without context, so it’s spoiler free. Later in the book, it feels like the story is being wrapped up and the premise is being set for a second installment (which I believe there will be) but then more action happens. It was incredibly intense, more so than the rest of the book had been and I ended up staying awake late to finish it because I absolutely had to know. It wasn’t what I was expecting and I found it absolutely gripping; a stark contrast to when I had first started reading the book and didn’t feel particularly excited about it – it wasn’t bad, it just didn’t stand out. It came along in leaps and bounds and became something I didn’t expect at all. It turned out to be a phenomenal read and one that I would highly recommend. Never had I read a crime thriller that has had me think so much about myself as well as the characters and the system that they operate in.

I really hope Harrison does follow through with a sequel and that it’s as excellent as this book was. I highly anticipate it and I know I’ll be reading it for sure!