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**COVER REVEAL** She’s Mine by Claire S Lewis

Today, I’m really pleased to be taking part in the cover reveal for She’s Mine‘, the first novel by Claire S Lewis. Born in Paris, Claire studied philosophy, French literature and international relations at the universities of Oxford and Cambridge before starting her career in aviation law with a City law firm and later as an in-house lawyer at Virgin Atlantic Airways.  More recently, she turned to writing psychological suspense, taking courses at the Faber Academy.

About the Book

She was never mine to lose…

When Scarlett falls asleep on a Caribbean beach she awakes to her worst nightmare – Katie is gone. With all fingers pointed to her Scarlett must risk everything to clear her name.

As Scarlett begins to unravel the complicated past of Katie’s mother she begins to think there’s more to Katie’s disappearance than meets the eye. But who would want to steal a child? And how did no-one see anything on the small island?

Time is running out and Scarlett is certain of only one thing – she didn’t kill Katie. Did she?

So now, the cover, and what a brilliant cover it is! Idyllic but with a hint of a threat, it sums up the blurb perfectly!

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Follow Claire:

Twitter: @CSLewisWrites

Follow Aria

Website: www.ariafiction.com

Twitter: @aria_fiction

Facebook: @ariafiction

Instagram: @ariafiction

With thanks to Vicky Joss.

 

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**BLOG TOUR** Where the Truth Lies by M. J. Lee

I am really pleased to be the latest stop on the blog tour for the new book from M J Lee, Where the Truth Lies. This is the first of a brand  new series, set in Manchester and was published on 22nd October.

DI Thomas Ridpath, back at work after a life-threatening illness, finds himself seconded to the coroner’s office and is immediately thrown into a case that has echoes of something familiar. Ten years after being the officer to arrest the serial killer known as ‘The Beast of Manchester’, another body has been found bearing the hallmarks of the notorious murderer. The only problem is that he is still in prison. Is this a copycat or has an innocent man been wrongly convicted? When a body from the original case goes missing and paperwork appears to have been destroyed, Ridpath must try to overcome the conspiracy of silence before more women are found dead.

I am a big fan of the author’s genealogical mystery series and so I was really excited to read the first Thomas Ridpath book. I liked how Ridpath had a slightly different role to the main protagonists in most other police procedurals as it gave an insight into another aspect of the justice system. By having him as a detective on a three-month secondment, we get to see him in the infancy of his role, meaning that we get to learn alongside him.

Where the Truth Lies has a great plot which makes you ask many questions as you read. Was the original murder case handled correctly by the police and did they put an innocent man in prison? Are the latest set of killings by the same hand as the original deaths or is there a copycat killer? Just what has happened to the missing body? The questions came thick and fast but were all answered by the end of the book.

The story is told mainly from the perspective of Ridpath, an extremely likeable character, although we do get to hear from the perpetrator too. I can’t say too much without giving anything away, but the culprit is not your run-of-the-mill serial killer and the author provides us with a twist on the normal sort of murderer in books of the same genre.

I really enjoyed Where the Truth Lies and think that this could be the start of a brilliant new series. If you are a fan of police procedurals or enjoy a good serial killer story then this is definitely for you!

With thanks to Net Galley and Canelo and to Ellie Pilcher for organising the blog tour.

 

 

 

**BLOG TOUR** Dead End by Rachel Lynch

When the seventh Earl of Lowesdale is found hanging at his home, Wasdale Hall, by his grandson, Zac, it seems as though the elderly man has taken his own life. After doubts are raised by the coroner, it looks as though DI Kelly Porter has a murder to solve. Meanwhile, the disappearance of two young women from a nearby camp site shows similarities to the case of another woman who vanished without trace nearby. With years-old secrets starting to rise to the surface, Kelly has a race against time to solve the cases before there are more deaths.

Dead End is the third book in the DI Kelly Porter series and sees the detective having to deal with the fall-out from her previous case. For this reason, although this could be read as a standalone, there are a few spoilers as to events in the previous book, so I would advise you read the others first. Both of the previous books, Dark Game  and Deep Fear are excellent reads, so you definitely won’t regret it!

I love the character of Kelly Porter – determined and devoted to her work yet without the bloody-mindedness so often seen in fictional detectives. Her relationship with Johnny is developing but her family are posing other problems. I liked the twist regarding Kelly and another character (no spoilers!) and could see how this story has been developed through the previous books. I look forward to seeing how this particular plot progresses!

The setting, the Lake District, provides a perfect backdrop for a missing persons scenario – picturesque yet incredibly dangerous to those not familiar with the terrain. Throughout the book, we spend time with some of the missing women but not their captor which is usually what we see in similar books. This made for a very tense read at times as we read about the horrific conditions they are being kept in and the strength of character of one of them in particular.

There are plenty of potential suspects, each of them equally as shifty. The plot comes together nicely to provide a satisfying conclusion with all loose ends neatly tied up.

This is a series which is going from strength to strength and I am already eagerly awaiting the next book!

With thanks to Net Galley and to Ellie Pilcher at Canelo for organising the blog tour. Take a look at my reviews of the previous books in the series:

Dark Game

Deep Fear

Dead End Blog Tour Banner (1)

 

 

The Chalk Man by C. J. Tudor

To celebrate the publication of the paperback (out today), I thought I’d repost my review of The Chalk Man by C J Tudor. I was fortunate to read it at the end of 2017 and, despite it not actually being available in the shops at that point, it still managed to make it into my list of favourite books from 2017!

I’m eagerly awaiting the author’s new book, The Taking of Annie Thorne, of which I’ve been lucky enough to have been able to read the prologue. It promises to be another outstanding read!

Go Buy The Book

91TOUwUDzNLIt’s 1986 and Eddie and his group of friends (Hoppo, Fat Gav, Metal Mickey and Nicky) are doing the sort of things that all 12-year-olds do: riding their bikes, hanging around in playgrounds, writing secret messages using chalks… Things change forever when, after following a trail of drawings depicting chalk men, they find a dismembered body in the woods.

Fast forward thirty years and the murder is still fresh in the minds of all those involved. Still living at the house he shared with his parents, Eddie is drawn back in when a face from the past reappears and he starts noticing the chalk men once again. Not quite sure whether to believe what he is seeing, another death spurs him into trying to discover exactly what happened all those years ago.

There has been so much online buzz about this book and it even got a mention in a…

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Monthly Round Up – July 2018

July has been a very busy (and tiring!) month for me and due to work circumstances, I had a few days where I didn’t pick up a book. This is unheard of! Thankfully, I managed to make up for it at the end of the month and read a couple of corkers including one which, at the moment, is definitely making it into my top ten of the year!

I also attended the book launch for the latest in Mark Roberts’ Eve Clay series, Killing Time, where, as well as meeting the man himself and listening to him in conversation with Paul Finch, we were also treated to a reading from the book by Paul Goetzee and music from Nick Ellis. A great evening!

Books I Have Read

5156DXAqbrLThe Dancer by John Nixon

The latest in John Nixon’s Madeleine Porter series sees the genealogist trying to discover the story behind a woman who has been found dead at the bottom of a cliff. Not my favourite in the series, but a good read nonetheless.

 

51SXPfKJzFL._SX315_BO1,204,203,200_The Tin God by Chris Nickson

I really enjoy crime fiction set in the Victorian era and have grown to love Chris Nixon’s Tom Harper series. Someone is trying to prevent women from standing as potential Poor Law Guardians in an upcoming election and will stop at nothing, even murder.

 

61XqWcu1-2L._SY346_Why Mummy Swears by Gill Sims

The follow-up to Why Mummy Drinks is a hilarious tale of one woman’s everyday life as a mum of two who has been coerced into leading the PTA whilst taking on a new job. Laugh out loud funny!

 

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Broken Dolls by Sarah Flint

A brilliant serial killer police procedural featuring the no-nonsense detective Charlie Stafford. Dealing with the most vulnerable in society, this is my favourite in the series so far and definitely had a couple of fantastic twists that I did not see coming!

 

51JZymFAkPLThe Drowned Village by Kathleen McGurl

A timeslip story about a woman who returns to her grandmother’s place of birth to investigate her past. I love Kathleen McGurl’s books and this one is no exception.

 

 

40806267Jar of Hearts by Jennifer Hillier

Wow! This one definitely grabbed my attention and held it right until the last page. When the serial killer, the Sweetbay Strangler, escapes from prison, his former girlfriend and accomplice fears for her own life. With numerous twists and a fantastic plot, this is definitely one of my favourites of the year so far!

 

38483098Letters from the Dead by Steve Robinson

The latest in the Jefferson Tayte series sees the genealogist investigating the disappearance of a ruby in India. This is another superb story from Steve Robinson and is a definite page turner!

 

Books I Have Acquired

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An international crime thriller with an unforgettable detective. Perfect for fans of Ian Rankin, Jo Nesbo and Peter Robinson.

What do you do when the poison comes from within…?

The body of a young woman is found strangled by the side of the road.

There are no obvious clues to what happened, apart from the discovery of a large amount of cash concealed on her person.

The brilliant, but lazy, Lieutenant Josef Slonský is put in charge of the case.

With a wry sense of humour, a strong stubborn streak and a penchant for pastries, Slonský is not overly popular with the rest of the police force. But he is paired with the freshly-graduated, overly-eager Navrátil, whom he immediately takes under his wing.

When fingers start to point inwards to someone familiar with police operations, Slonský and Navrátil are put in a difficult position.

If what they suspect is true, how deep does the corruption run? Are they willing to risk their careers in their pursuit of the truth?

Anyone could be lying – and others may be in danger of dying…

LYING AND DYING is the first international crime thriller in the detective series featuring Lieutenant Josef Slonský: an atmospheric police procedural full of dark humour.

 

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: Four female scientists invent a time travel machine. They are on the cusp of fame: the pioneers who opened the world to new possibilities. But then one of them suffers a breakdown and puts the whole project in peril…

2017

: Ruby knows her beloved Granny Bee was a pioneer, but they never talk about the past. Though time travel is now big business, Bee has never been part of it. Then they receive a message from the future – a newspaper clipping reporting the mysterious death of an elderly lady…

2018

: When Odette discovered the body she went into shock. Blood everywhere, bullet wounds, that strong reek of sulpher. But when the inquest fails to find any answers, she is frustrated. Who is this dead woman that haunts her dreams? And why is everyone determined to cover up her murder?

 

51jPK1DYa5L._SY346_Do that which is good and no evil shall touch you

That was the note the so-called Raphael killer left on each of his victims. Everyone in Glasgow – investigative journalist Oonagh O’Neil included – remember the murder of three women in Glasgow which sent a wave of terror through the city. They also remember that he is still at large…

When the police investigation into the Raphael killings reopens, Oonagh is given a tip off that leads her straight to the heart of a complex and deadly cover-up. When history starts to repeat itself, it seems the killer is closer than she thinks. Could Oonagh be the next target…?

 

I’m reading The Psychology of Time Travel at the moment and am absolutely loving it – I can’t wait to feature on the blog tour! I’ll be featuring on several blog tours over the next few weeks and have some exclusive content from the following books:

 

 

 

 

Have a great August!

 

 

**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)

**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

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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.

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