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**BLOG TOUR** Tubing by K A McKeagney

unnamed (1)I’m pleased to be today’s stop on the blog tour for Tubing, the new book from K A McKeagney.

When Polly is seduced by a man on the London Tube, little does she know that this encounter will lead her into the murky world of ‘tubing’ where elicit meetings on the London Underground take place between strangers. Thinking that she can keep her new pastime separate from the rest of her life, things take a sudden turn when she spots the man with a young, pretty blonde. Filled with jealousy, she watches them. Something isn’t right, however, and soon Polly realises how dangerous this phenomenon is. Can she get out before it’s too late or is she already in over her head?

Before I go any further, I am going to write a warning – if you are offended by sexual content, then this book, which I suppose would be categorised as ‘erotic thriller’, is probably not for you. Indeed, for the first half of the book, I was left wondering if I had been misled by the genre as Polly, the lead character, explores the world of ‘tubing’.

At the start of the story, I had some sympathy for Polly who is suffering from a long term eating disorder and is clearly troubled. Having to deal with her mother’s ‘illness’ is also taking its toll although she does appear to have a stable life both at work and with her boyfriend. After the fateful tube ride, however, things changed and I began to despair of her actions as she realised that what she was doing was stupid. After her second tubing encounter, I was almost screaming at her to get out only for her to get drawn in even deeper.

About halfway through the book, the tone changed into something much darker and it finally hits home to Polly just what a dangerous world she is part of. As her paranoia kicks in (with legitimate reason, I might add), her actions become more and more erratic and I began to wonder whether she was going to make it to the end of the book. I was happy with the ending although, in the real world, the story would not conclude here due to her known association with Sebastian.

Tubing  is a quick, easy read that I enjoyed although any future journeys I make on the London Underground will now take on an entirely different meaning!

With thanks to Red Door Publishing for my ARC.

Take a look at the rest of the tour:

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**BLOG TOUR** Wojtek: War Hero Bear by Jenny Robertson

When a bear cub is adopted by a group of Polish soldiers during the Second World War, little did everyone know that he would become a fully-fledged member of the army, helping out his comrades in some of the fiercest battles of the campaign. Not knowing anything other than army life, when the war is over and the soldiers move to Scotland, what will happen to Wojtek?

Although this book is aimed at 9-12 year-olds, I think that all ages will enjoy this delightful tale of how friendship and hope can exist even in the darkest of times. Orphaned at a young age, Wojtek finds a kindred spirit in Piotr, a Polish soldier who has been forced to leave his wife and children in order to fight in the war. It was heartbreaking to read about how these men had endured tremendous hardship, not knowing if their families had survived or even where they were. The author has done a tremendous job in conveying the horrors of war without making it too difficult to read for younger readers.

Even if this had been a complete work of fiction, I would have found the character of Wojtek truly fascinating and entertaining. Wojtek, however, is not fiction and was a member of the 22nd Artillery Supply Company, helping to move ammunition during the Battle of Monte Cassino. I often found myself laughing at his antics whether it be at the thought of him sitting alongside Piotr in one of the army trucks or when he was indulging in one of his favourite pastimes – drinking beer! This was a stark contrast to how I felt when reading about Piotr’s missing family, which was unbelievably heartbreaking.

Although some of the account has been fictionalised, such as some of the army characters, much of the book is based on real events. When reading a book such as this, a sign that the author has succeeded in telling the story well is that I have a desire to find out more about the facts behind the fiction. I have already read up on Wojtek and some of his exploits during and after the war since reading this book so that is definitely a good sign!

Wojtek: War Hero Bear is a great read – you don’t have to be a child to enjoy it!

With thanks to BC Books for my copy of Wojtek and also to Kelly at Love Books Group for organising the blog tour.

Take a look at the rest of the blogs on the tour:

Thirteen by Steve Cavanagh

51Hun9Zbi4LThere is no such thing as bad publicity. Or is there? Hollywood starlet, Bobby Solomon, seems to have it all: a beautiful wife, a film about to be released and his own reality TV show. All this comes crashing down when the body of his wife and her alleged lover are discovered at the marital home, and Bobby is the only suspect. Although high-profile cases are not his thing, defence lawyer, Eddie Flynn, takes on the case as he senses that everything is not as it seems, daring to believe that Bobby could, in fact, be getting set up. Cold-blooded killer, Joshua Kane, definitely knows a lot more about the case, so much so that he has managed to find himself a spot on the jury. Bobby’s fate may be in his hands…

I admit that courtroom dramas have never really appealed to me but there has been so much buzz around Thirteen that I felt I had to give it a go. (Plus, I’m a regular listener of the author’s podcast, Two Crime Writers and a Microphone). All I can say is, if all books of this genre are as good as this one, then I might just be a convert!

I warmed to Eddie Flynn immediately and, although this is the fourth book in the series, never felt as though I was missing out on his back story. I enjoyed reading his courtroom scenes and could quite easily see how some of the jurors appeared to be hanging on his every word. A man of integrity, despite his con-man past, Eddie is the perfect protagonist and would definitely be someone I would want on my side if I found myself in Bobby’s situation!

The story is a dual narrative, the other main character being the killer, Kane. He is a truly heinous character and yet an unbelievably fascinating one too. We find out the extent of his nature quite early on in the book when the life of a man is decided upon by the toss of a coin. When the true extent of his crimes and the lengths he will go to to continue his ‘work’ are revealed, he definitely became one of the worst serial killers I have read about in recent years.

Thirteen has great characters and a novel idea for a story and is one of the few books that definitely lives up to the hype!

With thanks to Orion and Net Galley for my copy of Thirteen.

**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)

Monthly Roundup – May 2018

May has been a ridiculously busy month for me so I haven’t done hardly as much reading as I had anticipated. I’m hoping June will be a bit more fruitful!

Books I Have Read

61RUGiggOTLMy Mother’s Secret by Sanjida Kay

It’s amazing how one single event can completely alter the course of your life. This is what happens to Lizzie when she witnesses a horrific act and her life is thrown into disarray. An excellent, twisty book telling how the past can’t always stay hidden.

 

61HbeiKW7lL._SY346_Deep Fear by Rachel Lynch

The second book in the Kelly Porter series of police procedurals sees the detective investigating a serial killer with a specific calling card in the idyllic setting of the Lake District. This is looking like being a great series!

 

imagesWojtek: War Hero Bear by Jenny Robertson

Although this is aimed at 9-12 year-olds, this is a fascinating true story of a bear cub who became part of the Polish army during World War Two. A heart-warming and emotive story which I will review as part of the upcoming blog tour.

 

image001The Night Caller by David Field

The second in the Esther and Jack Enright series set in Victorian London sees the couple investigating the attacks of women in the East End. If you are a fan of easy-to-read historical crime, this series is for you!

 

Books I Have Acquired

51Hun9Zbi4L

‘To your knowledge, is there anything that would preclude you from serving on this jury?’

Murder wasn’t the hard part. It was just the start of the game.

Joshua Kane has been preparing for this moment his whole life. He’s done it before. But this is the big one.

This is the murder trial of the century. And Kane has killed to get the best seat in the house.

But there’s someone on his tail. Someone who suspects that the killer isn’t the man on trial.

Kane knows time is running out – he just needs to get to the conviction without being discovered.

 

514dwwIhhvL._SY346_

Gregory Norwood, wealthy businessman and close friend of Minnesota’s leading candidate for Governor, is found dead on the first anniversary of his son’s drug overdose. It seems clear to Detectives Gino and Magozzi that grief drove him to suicide.

Until they realise the left-handed man seems to have used his right hand to pull the trigger.

And they find the second body.

As the seemingly open-and-shut case becomes a murder enquiry, the detectives begin to delve into the dark secrets of one of the city’s most powerful families. It seems the murders are not the first in the Norwoods’ tragic story – and they won’t be the last . . .

 

51vvx8RPkCL._SY346_SOMEWHERE IN THE CROWD IS A KILLER 

Bonfire Night and St James’s Park is filled with thousands of Anonymous protesters in a stand-off with the police. When a cloaked, Guido Fawkes mask-wearing body is discovered the following morning, Kate Riley and Zain Harris from the Police Crime Commissioner’s office are called in.

The corpse has been eaten away by a potentially lethal and highly contagious virus. The autopsy reveals the victim was a senior civil servant, whose work in international development involved saving lives. Why would anyone want him dead?

THEY WILL STRIKE AGAIN 

As the research team looking into the origins of the deadly virus scramble to discover an antidote, first one, then another pharmacist goes missing. Meanwhile, a dark truth starts to emerge about the murder victim: he was an aggressive man, whose bullying behaviour resulted in the suicide attempt of one of his former staff members.

AND TIME IS RUNNING OUT . . .

With thirty lives potentially at stake, Kate and Zain have their work cut out for them. Can they find the two missing pharmacists in time, or will they too end up dead?

 

I’ve got my fingers crossed for a couple of books I’ve requested on Net Galley but I’m probably most looking forward to the new Mark Billingham book, The Killing Habit, which is published on 14th June – Tom Thorne is definitely one of my favourite fictional characters.

 

 

**BLOG TOUR** Absent by Emma Salisbury

28617089_1961546927401239_1833483103611132346_oI am pleased to be the latest spot on the blog tour for Absent, the new DS Coupland novel from Emma Salisbury. Emma has very kindly written a brilliant guest post about the locations used in the book, something that always interests me when reading a book set in a real place.

Over to Emma:

My police procedural series is set in the city of Salford, in Greater Manchester. I chose it because I was born there and I married into a family of officers serving in Greater Manchester Police. I think Mancunians – or Salfordians if you want to split hairs, are a lot like the Scots (I now live on the East Coast of Scotland). They speak their mind but are kind spirited and will help a stranger out in the blink of an eye. Coupland represents a typical Northern man in many ways, no heirs or graces, never gets above himself and detests that in others. He calls a spade a spade. 

I have used a lot of my old stomping grounds in my plots: Swinton, where my late mother and father in law used to live. My mother in law used to work in the bakers on the precinct and we’d call in for a chat whenever we were passing. My late husband and I shared a flat in Clifton before moving to Worsley, locals will spot the thinly disguised references to Kirkstile Place and Ellenbrook, and Boothstown, where I used to meet a friend from the local toddler group. My younger son was born in Hope Hospital, and spent a week in the special care baby unit so basing Coupland’s wife Lynn there was my way of paying homage to them. Sometimes I am less explicit about the location – I have changed some place names, and even made up some areas, particularly if I am suggesting something negative, after all my intention isn’t to cause offence.

Salford has changed over the years, I mean the landscape, not the people. When you write in any great detail about a location (which I don’t like doing anyway as it feels like a travelogue) you run the risk of the story becoming outdated, so I tend not to comment on large buildings or regeneration projects, although I couldn’t ignore media city rolling up. It’s the same with coffee shops and restaurants, if I want to mention something and I haven’t been to stay for a while I check with my niece: ‘That Little Chef still off the East Lancs Road?’ ‘Nah, it’s an Indian restaurant now.’ 

I love it when readers tell me they were sitting at the traffic lights and they can envisage a scene from the series right in front of them. Another reader sent me a photo her friend had taken outside a nightclub – she thought the doorman in the photo looked like Coupland.

 I just love it when that happens.

The worst things happen in plain sight.

When he stopped a serial killer in his tracks earlier in the year he thought that would be the end of it, but for DS Kevin Coupland his nightmare has just begun.

A child’s body is discovered hidden in a bag, kicking off a major investigation for Salford Precinct’s murder squad. Soon the National Crime Agency roll into town and Coupland is under strict instructions to play nice.

He’s got enough on his plate to worry about politics. A shock discovery in his personal life is starting to take its toll, causing him to make decisions that bring him to the attention of the powers that be for all the wrong reasons.

DS Alex Moreton returns from maternity leave to find her partner deeply troubled, but with a cold case to review she’s in no position to prevent him hitting the self-destruct button.

As he hunts down the child’s killer Coupland is forced to reflect upon his own life and find an answer to the question he’s been avoiding. Is it possible to accept the things you cannot change?

With thanks to Emma Salisbury for the great post and to Kelly Lacey at Love Books Group for arranging the blog tour.

Take a look at the rest of the blogs on the tour:

The Night Caller by David Field

image001The women in the East End of London have just got over the horrors of Jack the Ripper when a new attacker appears on the scene – someone is breaking into their homes, stealing their underwear and leaving filthy, threatening messages. With the police refusing to take the crimes seriously, it is up to Esther Jacobs and her fiance, police officer Jack Enright, to investigate the wrongdoings. Are these women being targeted for a reason and just what is the connection to a new female ‘Alliance’? When the case takes a turn for the worse, someone will soon find their life is in grave danger…

The Night Caller is the second of the Esther and Jack Enright Mysteries, a detective series set in Victorian London, the first being The Gaslight Stalker. In the last book, our heroes met and, despite the horrendous circumstances they found themselves in, fell in love. Now planning their wedding, they find themselves involved in a case which becomes a little too close for comfort for Esther. Knowing Esther’s personality, it was not a surprise that she should find herself becoming involved in a female trade union and it was pleasing to see some historical fact being included such as the Bryant and May strike and the role of Annie Besant.

I found much of this book pitying Jack who has spent most of his life with his overbearing mother and is now embarking on a marriage with an equally strong woman. Esther appeared, at times, to be quite unlikable, but I found myself warming to her as the story progressed. It will be interesting to see what the next book has in store for Esther, as she is definitely not the sort of woman to be content with staying at home, looking after any children they have!

The Night Caller definitely transports you back to Victorian London and whereas, in the last book, we saw how the poorest and most unfortunate lived, here we see the lower classes finally trying to fight their way out of poverty. Of course, this would not be what everyone wanted and so we see these women being threatened and, eventually murdered. The mystery was a good one with enough red herrings thrown in to keep you off the scent, and it also had a satisfying conclusion.

I look forward to seeing how married life is treating the Enrights in the next book!

With thanks to Caoimhe O’Brien at Sapere Books for my copy of the book.

Deep Fear by Rachel Lynch

When the naked body of a woman is found near a Lake District church, DI Kelly Porter immediately senses that the killing seemed personal and that the perpetrator had a particular grudge. When another body is found, however, she realises that there is much more to it and that there is a serial killer on her patch. With quotes from the Lakes poets being left with the bodies, the police know that they are dealing with a particularly disturbed individual who must be stopped before the body count continues to rise.

Deep Fear is the second book to feature Kelly Porter, the first being Dark Game. In the first book, we were introduced to Kelly who, after years of working in London, had returned back home to Cumbria. She could have been forgiven for thinking that her job would now be less eventful but, as she soon found out, the Lakes contain their fair share of dubious characters. In Deep Fear, we come across one of the worst sorts – a deranged serial killer who seems keen to mete out their own version of punishment.

This is very much a police procedural and a classic serial killer hunt – something I always enjoy reading. Like many serial killers, this one soon acquires a nickname by the press, in this case, ‘The Teacher’, as they seem to want to teach their victims a lesson. Initially, the victims seem not to be connected but as Kelly digs deeper, a link is found – has she found the right one though or is someone playing an even clever game? One of the things I liked most was that, in order to find her answer, Kelly and her team use a range of techniques, relying not just upon modern forensics, but also using good old-fashioned leg work.

Whereas a lot of the lead detectives in books such as this are very damaged, I find that, although Kelly has her issues, she comes across as a very real character. Her relationship with her family is well-written – it is very easy to imagine the tension caused by the dislike her and her sister share for each other. I also like the way Kelly works – she is a fair boss who still commands respect from the rest of her team.

This is definitely emerging as a series to watch and I look forward to seeing what the Lake District has in store next for Kelly Porter.

With thanks to Canelo and Net Galley for the ARC.

 

My Mother’s Secret by Sanjida Kay

61RUGiggOTLEmma and Stella Taylor are a mother and daughter with very different personalities. Emma has a secret, one that could threaten her family, and Stella is determined, at any cost, to discover just what her mother’s secret is. Meanwhile, Lizzie Bradshaw, a young mother and wife, is forced to leave her family for several days each week as part of her job. When she witnesses a terrible crime, more than one life will be affected. Will any of them be able to put the past behind them and live the life they want?

I was hooked right from the prologue of My Mother’s Secret, when we are privy to an altercation in a shop that leads to grave circumstances for all those involved. This was a great start to the book and left me asking questions that I hoped would be answered as I read. It also gave a hint as to the troubles that were to come. Initially, as the chapters moved between the perspectives of Lizzie, Emma and Stella, it was a bit confusing but I found that once the plots developed, it became much easier to follow.

The main message in the book is probably how, no matter how perfect our life is, it only takes one event to change it all in the blink of an eye. Although Lizzie was struggling financially with her new family, she did appear to be at the brink of a fantastic life, only for it to be cruelly taken away from her. I felt a great deal of sympathy towards Lizzie and did not envy the decisions she had to make.

Emma, on the other hand, I did not initially warm to as I found her overprotective and, at times, rather odd! As we get to know more about her past, however, and discover what made her the way she is, she became much more of a fascinating character. Stella, I found just like any other teenage girl, desperate to grow up but hampered by her parents.

There are a few twists in the story that were not that hard to figure out but there was one revelation towards the end that I did not see coming. It filled me with anger to discover how one of the characters had been manipulated and would probably continue to be so for the rest of their life.

I really enjoyed My Mother’s Secret and will definitely be looking out for more of this author’s work.

With thanks to Corvus and Readers First for my ARC.

 

 

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