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**BLOG BLITZ** The Killing Time by M J Lee

The Killing Time

I am pleased to be one of the blogs to feature on the Blog Blitz for The Killing Time, the latest book from M J Lee. The fourth in the Inspector Danilov series was published by Canelo on 23rd April 2018. It is my great pleasure to be able to share an extract with you – and what a cliffhanger it is!

The Blurb

As tensions simmer in Shanghai, children go missing…

Shanghai 1932: Inspector Danilov hasn’t recovered from the death of his child… but across a Shanghai riven with communal tensions, children are going missing.

Missing, and then murdered. Who is responsible? Why have the children’s bodies been exhibited for all to see?

Just as Danilov thinks the stakes couldn’t be higher there is a new dimension, Japan, a rising power flexing its muscles. In fractious Shanghai, an explosion is long overdue. With the clock ticking can Danilov and his assistant Strachan solve the case? The fate of Shanghai may be at stake. So is Danilov’s job… And his sanity.

The Extract

14 January 1932

The 333th Day of the Year of the Golden Goat 

He nestled his hands into the warm gap between his chest and his arm, curling up so his nose touched his bare knees.

The pain from his ear had lessened now. All that remained was a long, dull throb. The blood had clotted and scabbed, caking his neck and shoulders.

One time, he had gently brushed his right ear with his fingertips. One time was enough. The pain had passed through his brain like a scythe through stalks of rice, leaving nothing but stubble in its wake. He wasn’t going to touch it again.

He shivered.

It was so cold.

‘I want Ah Yee. Where is Ah Yee?’ he whispered to himself through chapped lips.

The boy remembered the warmth of his maid’s body as she hugged him to sleep, her strong arms pulling him into the pillow of her breasts beneath the cotton nightshirt.

‘Where is Ah Yee?’ he repeated, like a Hail Mary given to him by the priest in confession.

Only this time there was no priest. No holy water. No golden cross on a white-linen-covered altar. Just the sound of his words echoing off the high ceiling.

He hugged himself tighter, edging his body into the cold corner where the two walls met the floor.

Opposite, the mattress stank of piss and vomit, lying next to an empty stained chamber pot and an even emptier rice bowl.

When had he last eaten?

He couldn’t remember, but his stomach felt as empty as his soul.

Something moved in the far corner. Two electric-yellow eyes like fog lights in the gloom. A high-pitched squeak. The sound of tiny feet on straw.

The boy backed even further into the corner.

‘Where is Ah Yee? Where is Ah Yee?’ He wailed out loud this time, turning his face into the cold dampness of the wall. His voice hoarse, exhausted from hours of screaming.

The wet slime kissed his cheek. A damp kiss like that of his aunt with the rubbery lips and the stench of perfume she bought by the crate on her trips abroad.

Above his head, a small window, its dirty glass covered in dust and cobwebs, let in the dull January light, fighting through the dirt to illuminate the room but losing the battle.

Another loud squeak from the opposite corner, answered by one closer to him, on his left.

He buried himself further into the wall, trying to find refuge in its cold embrace.

How had he got here?

He forced his mind to go back to the time it had happened. Playing in the park. The warmth of the sun on his back. His Ah Yee holding her hands out for him. Being lifted up and thrown high into the air, only to be caught by a man’s strong arms. The smell of tobacco and sweat and garlic on his breath. The roughness of the jacket against his skin.

Harsh clothes. Cold clothes. Not like the smooth silk shirts of his father.

He shivered, curling up even tighter into a ball, trying to get warm. Why couldn’t he get warm?

He looked at the wall. The words scored into the damp plaster with the sharp point of the iron nail stood out clearly against the green mould.

Save me.

Nobody was going to save him.

Nobody.

The rats stopped squeaking and scurried away to their deep, dark, safe havens.

A key turned in the lock.

The Killing Time Blog Blitz

Take a look at the rest of the Blog Blitz!

With thanks to Ellie Pilcher at Canelo for organizing the Blog Blitz.

Links to Book:

Amazon (UK)

Kobo (UK)

Google Books (UK)

Apple Books (UK)

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**BLOG TOUR** In the Blood by Ruth Mancini

Today, I am really pleased to be the latest stop on the blog tour for Ruth Mancini’s new book, In the Blood. Published on May 1st, it has been described as ‘totally gripping and compelling’ and ‘unsettling and compulsive’. It is with great pleasure that I share with you a guest post from Ruth, who gives us a great insight into her writing. Over to Ruth:

Why is it important to tell women’s stories in crime?

Because it’s the most popular genre, because females make up approximately fifty per cent of the population – and because the best jobs in crime stories have traditionally gone to the boys! Fortunately, we’ve evolved from the days when women in crime were either helpless victims, femme fatales or elderly busybodies, and we now have a good range of clever, capable female detectives, lawyers and private eyes – better reflecting real-life professions involving the law. However, women still face huge challenges within these professions – and in life, generally – and if stories are to be realistic then these challenges need to make it onto the page.

Where did you get your inspiration for this book/series?

I’m a criminal defence lawyer as well as a crime fiction writer so, inevitably , I was inspired by my own experiences. The idea for IN THE BLOOD came from a maternal murder case in which I was very fleetingly involved. The love a woman feels for her child is indescribable – and the loss of that child her biggest fear. So, what would it take for her to destroy something so precious? I remain fascinated (in a very dark, bleak way, of course) by the concept.

How do you come up with names for your characters?

Usually the names just appear on the page. Sometimes, I give them the Christian names of people I know, names that suit their character for that reason and make them more real to me as I write.

What are your favourite/least favourite parts/scenes to write?

I love writing all of it, along with all the emotions that come up along the way. I’m never happier than when I’m making myself cry!

Is it important to have a likeable/relatable protagonist?

As a reader, I prefer it. I usually need to recognise and relate to the protagonist in order to go the distance with him or her (to be honest, it’s usually a her͛). But, having said that, I do like most people! I even liked Rachel, ‘The Girl On the Train’. I felt for her and what she’d been through, rather than disliking what she’d become. (I’ve also been known to enjoy a glass of wine, so there but for the grace of God, etc…)

Who is your favourite character in the book and why?

Errr… Sarah! Because she’s stronger and braver than me. And cleverer. Or is that more clever?

What came first? A character, the plot, setting?

The plot. I always plot first, write second.

Do you give yourself nightmares/scare yourself?

When I’m dealing with certain crimes in real life, yes. There have been a number of cases over the years that I wish I hadn’t had to deal with – and certain things I wish I’d never seen. They never really leave you.

Does your book draw on your personal experiences?

Very much so – not because I can’t write about anything I don’t know, but because there just seems to be so much for me to draw on. I’ve had a number of difficulties over the years and it was almost inevitable that Sarah, in the story, was going to share some of the load. Crucially, Sarah and I have both gone through the same world-shattering experience of discovering that there is something severely wrong with our first-born child. As you’d expect, that’s added an extra layer to the difficulties all women face in trying to balance career with family. People ask me, ‘How do you do it all?’ and the answer is – I don’t! Not perfectly, anyway, not by any stretch of the imagination. And Sarah slips up, too – she makes mistakes. She’s human, as are we all. There is a notion that women – both as sleuths and as real-life professionals – should be as hard-hitting as men in order to fight their way successfully through a male-dominated culture. Imuch prefer the idea of opening up that culture to embrace femininity, with all its massive strengths – such as empathy, emotional intelligence, the ability to get people to open up and talk, the ability to spot hidden dangers, to multi-task, etc. – strengths which often go hand in hand with the practicalities of raising a family – and that’s what I’ve tried to portray.

How do you research your books?

I write about a world with which I’m very familiar, so that helps. I always do site visits or ask colleagues for help with any scenes that are not so familiar. When I was writing IN THE BLOOD I went along on a case to The Old Bailey with a barrister colleague, so that I could get inside. Otherwise, you can only access the public gallery of an individual court, usually directly from a separate public entrance. I like to be as accurate as I can. And then, of course, there’s the Internet!

What’s next?

The sequel to IN THE BLOOD, which I’m currently writing. Sarah will have a whole new mystery to solve. I am really enjoying this one…

In southeast London, a young mother has been accused of an unthinkable crime: poisoning her own child – and then leaving him to die.

The mother, Ellie, is secretive and challenging – she’s had a troubled upbringing – but does that mean she’s capable of murder?

Balancing the case with raising her disabled five-year-old son, criminal defence lawyer Sarah Kellerman sets out in desperate pursuit of the truth. But when her own child becomes unwell, Sarah realises she’s been drawn into a dangerous game.

With thanks to Ruth Mancini for the fabulous guest post and Melanie Price for organising the blog tour. Take a look at the rest of the tour here:

Monthly Roundup: April 2018

Although this month has seen me read books from the crime/thriller genre, I’ve read a bit of an eclectic mix including a book set in Victorian England, some Scandi Noir and even an erotic thriller! My book of the month is definitely the latest Kim Stone book, Dying Truth, by Angela Marsons. Talk about an ending!!

Books I’ve Read

The Gaslight Stalker by David Field

The first in a new Victorian crime series sees a young seamstress becoming embroiled in the infamous Jack the Ripper murders. An easy read and an interesting take on a well-known historic crime.

 

If He Wakes by Zoe Lea

An easy-to-read psychological thriller which asks the question, how well do you know your partner? Shocking in parts, If He Wakes has some great twists that make you change your perceptions of the people you are reading about.

 

The Devil’s Star by Jo Nesbo

The fifth in the Harry Hole series and probably my favourite so far. Harry’s problems are getting worse yet his experience with serial killers is essential as there appears to be one on the streets of Oslo. Some great twists make this a fast-paced, clever read.

 

5992b77e545d4f8fa328f444823272b3Dead and Gone by D. L. Michaels

The first in a new police procedural series featuring DI Annie Parker has a bit of a twist. Instead of her being the sole protagonist, we also follow the very different lives of Paula and Sarah knowing that, at some point, all of their stories will intertwine. Review will follow as part of the blog tour.

 

Cross Her HeartCross Her Heart by Sarah Pinborough

The long-awaited follow-up to Behind Her Eyes is a tale of how even if you think you know someone well, secrets are always lurking beneath the surface. A shocking plot with plenty of twists and turns.

 

51x4+VX3izLDying Truth by Angela Marsons

The eighth book in the Kim Stone series is, in my opinion, the best so far. Telling the story of strange deaths at an exclusive boarding school, this one will definitely have you gasping in shock at the end!

 

4128bR3P03LTubing by K A McKeagney

An erotic thriller that shows the dangers of getting involved in something you don’t really understand. A fast-paced read that makes you wonder what really goes on in the packed trains of the London Underground!

 

Books I’ve Acquired

61HbeiKW7lL._SY346_

DI Kelly Porter is back. But will this new case push her beyond her limits?

On a peaceful summer’s morning in the Lake District, a woman’s body is discovered outside a church. She’s been murdered and a brutal, symbolic act performed on her corpse. DI Kelly Porter is in charge of the team investigating the crime, and is determined to bring the killer to justice. But as more deaths occur it is clear this is the work of a disturbed, dangerous and determined individual. Can Kelly put the puzzle pieces together before the danger comes closer to home?

 

51SXPfKJzFL._SX315_BO1,204,203,200_When Superintendent Tom Harper’s wife is threatened during an election campaign, the hunt for the attacker turns personal.

Leeds, England. October, 1897. Superintendent Harper is proud of his wife Annabelle. She’s one of seven women selected to stand for election as a Poor Law Guardian. But even as the campaign begins, Annabelle and the other female candidates start to receive anonymous letters from someone who believes a woman’s place lies firmly in the home.

The threats escalate into outright violence when an explosion rips through the church hall where Annabelle is due to hold a meeting – with fatal consequences. The only piece of evidence Harper has is a scrap of paper left at the scene containing a fragment from an old folk song. But what is its significance?

As polling day approaches and the attacks increase in menace and intensity, Harper knows he’s in a race against time to uncover the culprit before more deaths follow. With the lives of his wife and daughter at risk, the political becomes cruelly personal …

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You can only hide for so long…

Lizzie Bradshaw. A student from the Lake District, forced to work away from home, who witnesses a terrible crime. But who will ultimately pay the price?

Emma Taylor. A mother, a wife, and a woman with a dangerous secret. Can she keep her beloved family safely together?

Stella Taylor. A disaffected teenager, determined to discover what her mother is hiding. But how far will she go to uncover the truth?

And one man, powerful, manipulative and cunning, who controls all their destinies.

 

As we enter a new month, I’d like to re-share my review of the amazing Don’t Make a Sound by David Jackson, which is published on 3rd May. With over a third of the year gone, this is still my favourite book of 2018 so far, so give it a read if you haven’t done so already!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

**BLOG TOUR** The Wrong Man by Kate White

The Wrong ManAs part of the blog tour for her new book, I am pleased to be able to share with you an extract from The Wrong Man by Kate White.

Kate is the New York Times bestselling author of twelve works of fiction: seven Bailey Weggins mysteries and five stand-alone psychological thrillers, including most recently, The Secrets You Keep. For fourteen years she was the editor-in-chief of Cosmopolitan magazine, and though she loved the job (and the Cosmo beauty closet!), she decided to leave in late 2013 to concentrate on being a full-time author and speaker

The Blurb

Kit Finn meets handsome sculptor Matt Healy on a business trip and the two share a night of passion. They arrange a second date, but when Kit arrives at Matt’s apartment she is greeted by a stranger claiming he is the real Matt and that his identity was stolen.

Realising she has been duped Kit decides to put the encounter behind her. Shortly after, the police ask her to identify a man killed in a hit and run, carrying only her business card, and she is shocked to find the dead man is the person she knows as the genuine Matt Healy.

Kit fears she has become unintentionally embroiled in a sinister web of deceit. With no real evidence to take to police, Kit resolves to unravel the mystery herself. But can she do so before more lives, including her own, are put in danger?

The Extract

For some reason she couldn’t understand, Kit woke on the last morning in Islamorada with the urge to do something a little dangerous in her life. Not like shark-cage diving or parasailing over the turquoise blue Florida Bay. She hadn’t lost her mind. She just longed for something that would make her heart pump harder and her breath catch in her throat.

Maybe it was because her vacation, a combination getaway and business-scouting trip, had been nice enough but had offered up no surprises, none of those unexpected discoveries you secretly yearned for on a trip. Oh, she’d done a kayak tour of the mangroves and she’d treated herself to a hot stone massage. But those were hardly the kind of activities that left you breathless, even though the massage therapist had stressed that the stones were actually “certified lava shells,” as if having them kneaded into your back was comparable to hiking along the rim of a volcanic crater.

Or, maybe the urge was tied to her birthday. She’d turned thirty-five the week before, had broken up five months before with a sweet, nice guy who’d been all wrong for her, and during the days leading up to the occasion, she’d goaded herself to use her birthday as an impetus to go bolder, to be more of a badass at times. As she’d left the office for the airport eight days ago, Baby Meadow, her seventy-one-year-old interior decorating partner, had quoted a line of Mae West’s that kept echoing in Kit’s head: “Good girls go to heaven but bad girls go everywhere.”

But even as she toyed with the idea, she heard an internal warning. Wasn’t the problem with a little danger that you had no guarantee it could be contained? It was like a match tossed on dry brush. Maybe things only smoldered for a while, the embers glowing softly through the night until a light rain doused them at dawn. But with the right wind conditions, those embers could begin to flare, creating flames that would thrash higher and higher in the darkness. Until they torched everything you owned.

She stepped out onto the small, stone patio of her hotel room and discovered that the early April sky was cloudless, and the jungle-like grounds of the hotel—dense with palm trees and sawgrass—looked lush and seductive, in shades of deep green that she rarely liked to use in her work but always felt spellbound by in nature. A gecko darted up the trunk of a tree. Time to get moving, she told herself. It would be crazy not to make the most of her last day.

She dressed quickly—a bikini covered with a sarong and T-shirt—and headed for breakfast, her iPad tucked under her arm. The hotel was a small boutique one, almost motel-like in style but charming and Caribbean in feel. Her room was in one of a half-dozen white clapboard buildings separated from the main building by winding sand pathways. As she came around a bend in the path, she overheard snippets of conversation. It was a man talking, probably another guest up early, too, and after a moment she realized he was on a cell phone. There was a hint of consternation in his tone.

“I don’t want to wait much longer,” Kit thought she heard him say. And then, as she rounded the bend, his words were more distinct: “I’d rather have a few regrets than none at all.”

He was late thirties, she guessed, about six foot two with dark red hair cut short in a kind of Navy Seal style and a closely cropped beard and mustache. Dressed in a pale, long-sleeved shirt and cream-colored pants. He caught her eye and then looked away, lowering his voice at the same time.

As she passed him, she reflected on the last comment he’d made. Perhaps that should be her motto in life, she thought. But how did you guarantee a few regrets didn’t balloon into too many?

Breakfast was included in the price of her room, and she went a little nuts—glistening red papaya, half a muffin, a cheese and mushroom omelet, and a foamy cappuccino—telling herself to get her money’s worth. While eating she knocked off replies to a few emails and checked the news online.

She lingered longer than she’d planned. With half an eye directed toward a headline on her iPad, she grabbed her tote bag and left the restaurant, eager to reach the beach.

And then bam, she collided hard with someone. Her fault for trying to still read the darn iPad. She looked up to see that her victim was the red-haired man she’d passed on the path.

“So sorry,” Kit said. She felt like an idiot.

“It’s my fault, too,” he said politely. “My mind was elsewhere.”

She wondered if it had been on the conversation he’d had earlier. Well, whatever, decent of him to let her off the hook. He held her gaze tightly for a couple of beats, with eyes that were a light but piercing blue.

“Have a nice day,” she said. He nodded and they both went on their way.

She walked the beach and started shooting photos with her Samsung, mostly of the luscious white sand. She loved to catalogue shots of things whose names were the same as colors—like sand, olive, lavender, ash, or bone. It was fascinating to see how many variations there were, and to liberate them all from the confinement of their names. Later, she read and ate lunch under a palm tree by the small, turquoise-bottomed pool. Then she changed into street clothes and took a taxi to a shop in town.

It was on the main road that ran through the island, a kind of honky-tonk strip, but there were a decent few stores, some of which she’d already perused, scouting for her client. The woman had vacationed as a girl in the Florida Keys and wanted the same vibe for a Jersey Shore cottage she’d recently purchased. That was actually part of the reason Kit had picked Islamorada to begin with—killing two birds with one stone. But now she was shopping just for herself. One of the stores specialized in fanciful exotic stuff, including a mounted sawfish bill that she’d practically drooled over.

The place was nearly empty but she liked that. She started down an aisle, relaxed in the moment. And then there he was again, Mr. X, the red-haired guy from the morning, wearing a tight, heather blue T now instead of the long-sleeved shirt. It was as if she’d conjured him up, the way a magician pulls a dove from his sleeve.

“Hello again,” he said, suddenly seeing her. His eyes held hers the way they had earlier.

“Oh, hi. Sorry again about this morning. No injuries, right?”

“No, none at all. Though I should warn you. I hear they’re going to make that illegal in some states—walking while reading a tablet.”

“Good to know,” she said, smiling. “I’ll leave my iPad at home—or use a designated reader.”

He didn’t say anything for a moment, just looked at her, as if weighing a decision.

“Are you hunting for souvenirs?” he asked finally.

“Sort of. What about you? You don’t seem like the type who goes for mirrors with seashells hot-glued to the frame.”

She wasn’t sure why she’d teased him that way. It was a tactic she sometimes relied on with awkward male clients, to entice them to open up.

“I’m going to take that as a compliment,” he said. “I was actually trying to find a gift for my big sister’s birthday. Any ideas? She’ll be forty-one. Nice taste but on the casual side.”

She wondered suddenly if he might be trying to pick her up. But she’d never been drawn to red-haired men. Weren’t they supposed to be brooding or even wildly mercurial, the type who’d think nothing of bashing another man over the back of the head with a bar stool?

“Will you need to pack it in your luggage?” she asked. “If that’s the case, you might want to think small.”

“She’s got a place in Miami. I’m headed there by car tomorrow so I can take it with me.”

“So size isn’t an issue?” she said.

“Not really. But don’t women hate gifts in large packages? They assume you’ve brought them a juicer or an emergency kit for their car.”

“You’re so right,” Kit said. He looked, she thought, like the kind of guy who’d never given anyone a juicer in his life, and if he needed juice himself, he’d just crush a half-dozen oranges in one fist. Maybe he was a Navy Seal, decompressing after a raid on a terrorist cell or Somali pirates. “Okay, let’s see, then…”

She turned to scan the store and then headed down an aisle, with him trailing just behind her. After a minute or so, she spotted a hammered metal frame tucked behind a group of decorative boxes.

“What about this?” she said, easing it out. “A woman can never own enough frames. And this one would work with any style.”

“Even casual? Though maybe a better way to describe my sister is a touch Bohemian.”

“Yes, this would mix with that.” Kit smiled. “I’m actually a decorator.”

“Ahh. Well then, sold.” He accepted the frame from her. “I’m Matt Healy, by the way,” he added like an afterthought.

She was standing so close to him that she could see the light freckles on his face. There was something about him that was both rugged and refined—the cropped beard and mustache contrasting with the sophisticated air. And then there were those freaking blue eyes. When she’d handed him the frame, she’d noticed there was no wedding ring on his hand. Though, of course, that didn’t mean a thing.

“Kit Finn,” she said.

Links to Book:

Amazon (UK)

Kobo (UK)

Google Books (UK)

Apple Books (UK)

Take a look at the rest of the books on the blog tour:

The Wrong Man blog tour banner (1)

With thanks to Ellie Pilcher at Canelo for organising the blog tour.

**BLOG TOUR** Last of the Summer Moët by Wendy Holden

Holden_02_LAST OF THE SUMMER MOET_previewToday I  am pleased to be the latest stop on the blog tour for Last of the Summer Moët by Wendy Holden and am delighted to share an extract with you!

Top reporter Laura Lake has struck journalistic gold.

She’s discovered a super-exclusive English village where the rich and famous own weekend retreats. Where film stars, Turner-prize winners and Cabinet ministers park their helicopters outside the gastropub and buy £100 sourdough loaves from the deli.

Outsiders are strictly forbidden. But luckily Laura’s best friend Lulu, a logo-obsessed socialite with a heart as huge as her sunglasses, suddenly fancies a quiet life in the country. The door to this enchanted rural idyll opens for Laura. Revealing a great professional opportunity.

Can Laura write an exposé before the snobbish villagers suss her true identity? And before the world’s poshest pub quiz triggers a political scandal not seen since Profumo?

The Extract

Laura’s phone now rang, and while she meant to ignore it in the face of this latest twist in the drama, her screen told her that this was, at last, the elusive Brad Plant. The representative on Earth of Savannah Bouche was finally gett ing in touch.

‘Buckingham Palace,’he snarled in his nasal American tones.

‘What?’ Laura was confused.

‘Buckingham Palace? You know it? Big building at the top of the Mall?’ He pronounced it ‘maul’.

‘Of course I do. What about it?’

‘Miss Bouche wants to go on a tour of it. With you. While you interview her.’

Wendy Holden pic_preview
Wendy Holden

Laura only half heard. Her attention was on Carinthia’s office door. Christopher Stone had closed it behind him, and nothing could be heard from within. What was going on?

‘You still there?’snarled Plant from the other end.

Laura forced herself to concentrate. ‘Buckingham Palace? She wants to meet there?’

Was there a worse option in the whole of London? Buckingham Palace had famously huge queues. There would be crowds of mobbing tourists. There had to be a better alternative. ‘What about a pod in the London Eye?’

‘Miss Bouche wants the Palace,’ Brad cut in. ‘We’ve arranged a private tour.’

Oh, what did any of it matter, Laura thought. Carinthia was almost certainly being sacked, at this very moment. Which meant that, as her deputy, she would be next.

Not for the first time since coming to Society she was facing the prospect of being fired for no fault of her own. What was unusual was that this time Clemency Makepeace had nothing to do with it.

‘Okay,’ she said to Brad Plant.

And so it was arranged. Laura – presuming she was still in gainful employment – was to present herself at the main palace entrance at ten o’clock on Monday morning.

She put the phone down at the precise moment Christopher Stone emerged from Carinthia’s office. His lightly tanned face wore its usual calm expression, but there was a clench to his jaw and a light to his eyes that made Laura fear the worst.

Her heart sank as, in his gleaming handmade shoes, he rapidly traversed the black carpet tiles between them and stopped before her desk. Laura shot to her feet at the precise moment that Christopher Stone placed a pair of lightly tanned knuckles down on the table and leant over towards her. The collision was sharp and violent.

‘Ow!’ howled the CEO of the British Magazine Company, reeling away and clutching his smoothly shaved face.

Laura was rooted to the spot, buzzing with the horror of having headbutted the man described in a recent piece by the Financial Times as the most powerful man in magazine publishing. That really was it, then. Whatever slim chance there had been had evaporated. She was surely finished now.

Stone turned back towards Laura. He was still holding his chin, and his watering eyes glittered coldly. She cringed inwardly, expecting marching orders of the most vehement persuasion.

‘Carinthia is leaving,’ Stone told her.

Laura bowed her head. So it really was all over.

‘Arrangements are being made for her to enter a rehabilitation facility,’ Stone went on, in the light, clipped voice that belied the heft of the power he wielded. He paused and looked Laura keenly up and down. She waited to be informed that her services were no longer required either.

‘You will edit Society until she returns.’

Last of the Summer Moët blog tour banner_preview

Monthly Round Up: September 2017

September is always a busy month for me so I don’t get time for much reading. I have managed to read a few good books, though, including one which is probably going to make my top 10 of the year!

Books I’ve Read

91YZv6g5fHLNothing Stays Buried by P J Tracy

The eighth book in the series sees the Monkeewrench team, along with the detectives Gino and Magozzi, investigating the disappearance of a young woman and a serial killer that is leaving playing cards on his victims.

 

51m7HvpItPLThe American Candidate by M J Lee

The third in the Jayne Sinclair series has the genealogical investigator researching the family history of a potential candidate for the US presidency. Her most dangerous and thrilling case to date.

 

51zX2mZDnyL._SY346_Cold Blood by Robert Bryndza

Another fantastic book featuring detective Erika Foster sees her trying to apprehend callous and vicious killers who are dismembering bodies and leaving them in suitcases.

 

My Sister’s Bones by Nuala Ellwood

After returning from a war zone to sort out her late mother’s estate, Kate begins to realise that all is not right in Herne Bay. Is the medication she is taking to blame for the unexplained occurrences or is there something more malevolent at play? One of my favourite books of the year so far.

 

The Good Mother by Karen Osman

Three women are all keeping secrets but what links them to each other and what is their connection to the soon-to-be-released prisoner Michael? Read my review when it is published as part of the blog tour on October 6th.

 

Books I’ve Acquired

Can the past ever be forgotten?

As soon as nurse Maura Lyle sets foot inside the foreboding Essen Grange, she feels shivers ripple down her spine. And the sense of unease only increases when she meets her new patient, Gordon Henderson.

Drawn into the Henderson family’s tangled web of secrets and betrayals, Maura can ignore the danger lurking behind every door no longer. Even the door she has been forbidden from opening…

Essen Grange is a house with dark and cruel intentions. But now that darkness has turned on her, can Maura escape before it’s too late?

 

They placed me in here and threw away the key. I look down at the gown they’ve put on me. I want my own clothes. I don’t know how long I’ve been here.

An elderly woman is found murdered in her own home, and Detective Lottie Parker and her partner Detective Boyd are called in to investigate. When they discover that the victim’s daughter is missing as well, they start to fear for the safety of the whole family…

Two days later as a nearby house is set on fire and with the body count rising, Lottie and her team begin to unpick a web of secrets and lies, as the murders seem to link back to a case investigated by Lottie’s father before he took his own life.

With little knowledge of what really happened to her father, Lottie knows this is a case that could give her some answers. But how much does she want to know? And how far is Lottie prepared to dig to uncover the truth?

 

Here’s to a great October!

 

COVER REVEAL: The Malice of Angels by Wendy Percival

If you are a fan of mystery stories with a genealogical slant or even just a fan of mystery stories in general, then I can definitely recommend Wendy Percival’s ‘Esme Quentin’ series. The Malice of Angels is the third full-length story and sees the mystery of a nurse’s wartime disappearance open up old wounds for genealogical investigator, Esme Quentin.

Here is a taste of what is to come:

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It wasn’t until she turned into the narrow medieval passageway of Fish Street that Esme Quentin suspected she was being followed. He – if it was a he, it was difficult to be sure, encased as the walker was in a hooded trench coat – seemed to be keeping his distance. He slowed as she slowed, held back if she paused, as though biding his time before approaching her. Perhaps she should grab the initiative and challenge him? Demand to know who he was and what he thought he was doing creeping up on a middle-aged woman in the dark?

She stopped and deliberately looked round, but he must have pulled back out of the halo of the street lamp as he’d disappeared into the shadows.

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The Malice of Angels will be published on 13th October 2017.

Take a look at the author’s website: http://www.wendypercival.co.uk

 

The Girl From Ballymor by Kathleen McGurl

510u-LpbteLIn Ballymor, Ireland in 1847, Kitty McCarthy is struggling to keep her family alive due to the potato famine that has already killed all but two of her children. In the present day, Maria has arrived in Ballymor to research the life of her ancestor, the Victorian artist Michael McCarthy. Will she be able to discover the circumstances surrounding his early life and also what became of his beloved mother, Kitty?

I have loved all of Kathleen McGurl’s previous books and The Daughters of Red Hill Hall was one of my favourites of last year.  I had, therefore, been eagerly anticipating The Girl From Ballymor, and am pleased to say that it is just as good as the rest!

One of the things I like most about Kathleen McGurl’s books is how she seamlessly merges past with present and this is evident here. Speaking as somebody who has ancestors who left Ireland during the potato famine, I found Kitty’s plight highly emotive and could understand her desire to ensure that her son escaped to a better life. Despite living in horrendous conditions, Kitty was an incredibly strong woman and, like Maria, I too became engrossed in the mystery surrounding what became of her. Inevitably, her story was never going to end well, and when her fate was finally revealed it was tinged with more than a touch of sadness.

Sometimes in a dual-timeline story, I find myself liking one of the timelines more than the other but this is not the case in The Girl From Ballymor. Both parts of the story were equally as engaging and were interlinked in a way that moved the plot on. I felt that Maria was a very real character and could sense her trepidation as major changes were about to affect her life in a huge way.

With its cross-genre approach, The Girl From Ballymor will appeal to fans of historical and genealogical fiction and also anyone who enjoys a gentle mystery. This is another great book from Kathleen McGurl and I hope there isn’t too much of a wait before the next one!

With thanks to HQ and Net Galley for the ARC.

 

Death of a Cuckoo by Wendy Percival

4631636995_252x379When Gina Vincent’s mother dies, she is shocked to find a photograph that challenges everything she thought she knew about her life. Calling upon the services of genealogist Esme Quentin to help her make sense of it all, their search takes them to an abandoned property formerly used as a home for young pregnant women. Secrets run deep in this building and Gina soon finds herself facing danger as she tries to uncover the truth about her past.

It has been some time since we last read about Esme Quentin (Blood-Tied and The Indelible Stain) so this book was long overdue! Death of a Cuckoo is not a full-length novel, but Wendy Percival has still managed to write a superb page turner, linking mystery and genealogy effortlessly. For anyone who hasn’t read the previous books in the series, this could be read as a standalone and would provide a good introduction to the character of Esme.

In Death of a Cuckoo, Esme takes a back seat in the investigation, providing the main character, Gina, with advice and recommendations of where to go next. As in most books of this genre, this turns out to be more than just a straightforward case of family research as secrets from the past start to impact on the present, putting the lives of all those involved in danger. The mystery was an interesting and plausible one and I felt for Gina as she tried to find out who she really was in the most awful of circumstances.

This is a well-written short read and I hope that the wait for the next Esme Quentin story isn’t as long!

 

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