#BlogTour | #GuestPost: PsychoAnalysis by V. R. Stone (@VRStoneAuthor)

41ylscawpol-_sx311_bo1204203200_“A serial killer who wants to quit. A detective struggling to keep his personal life out of a murder hunt. And a celebrity psychiatrist facing an incredible challenge. Three damaged individuals, linked by their traumatic histories. They’ve chosen very different paths. Now those paths are about to cross.

Sarah Silver is a hedge fund manager – from Monday to Friday she makes a killing in the markets. At weekends, though, she hunts men, not profits. Martin White used to be a brilliant detective. But his family, judgement and self-control are deserting him. And Karl Gross has sold millions of books on serial killers. However he’s a controversial figure in the medical community.

Can Martin keep it together and catch a killer who commits almost perfect crimes? Is Karl capable of unravelling Sarah’s psyche and putting an end to the killing? Or will she disappear when she realises that the hunter has become the hunted?

PsychoAnalysis is a psychological crime thriller that explores the grey area between good and evil.Why would a woman kill for fun? Can she be understood? Can she be stopped?”

I am thrilled to welcome you to my stop and the first stop on the PsychoAnalyis blog tour.  PsychoAnalysis is V.R. Stone’s debut novel and crikey, it packs quite a punch!  I’m excited to see what V.R. Stone has in store for us in the future.

Today, not only do I have a fabulous guest post about why V. R. loves a violent thriller, I also have my four and a half star review of this BRILLIANT serial killer thriller to share with you.  First of all, here’s V.R.’s incredibly honest guest post:

What kind of grown man sit alone in a room, making up stories about serial killers?

My earliest childhood memories involve a chase: hurrying out of my parents’ restaurant and down an alleyway; abandoning my den-building at a friend’s house when my father discovered our whereabouts; watching cartoons in a women’s hostel; and my mother screaming “he wants to take my children” as Dad caught up with us.

From those events, it would seem that we have a pretty traditional story, a ‘trope’ as us writers would refer to it, of a battered wife and a violent man. But real life is often more complicated.

Yes, my father had a temper, but a glare or a few words were usually all it took for him to assert his authority. I don’t recall him laying his hands on any of us. He was prone to outbursts, but would often cool down after a short period. He wasn’t a teddy bear, but he certainly wasn’t a psychopath either. And my mother… well, she’s a worrier and has suffered from mental health problems. I can certainly imagine, though, that my father, perhaps in a rage, had threatened to take her children away, perhaps back to Turkey, where we’d be harder to retrieve.

My parents married only 6 weeks after meeting, sold my mother’s house and bought a restaurant. The pressure of running a failing business did not help their relationship, which imploded in spectacular fashion – a whirlwind romance that spawned a tornado. And the break-up happened when I was four years old, around the time a child starts to form lasting memories.

Now, three decades later, I’ve written a thriller featuring a successful woman who kills men. And she’s being chased by a detective whose marriage is falling apart.

That, for me, demonstrates the essence of inspiration and the desire to write stories. My novel is very different from my life and my characters are very different from anyone I know. And yet, if you rearranged the pieces, turned a few things upside down, you’d get me, my life, my family and my desires.

I enjoy a wide variety of stories – novels, films, TV dramas – but the ones that stay with me, that really suck me in… well, they’re invariably violent and would typically fit into the crime genre. The Silence of the Lambs, The Sopranos, Danish/Swedish TV show The Bridge, American Psycho – they’re the ones I return to, that influence me.

Why? I think it stems from those early experiences – the combination of peril and happiness. Making a den when we were ‘on the run’; watching cartoons with the children of battered women; having parents who wanted me but were trying to take me away from each other. I suppose my early years were something of a rollercoaster of fear and happiness – so now rollercoasters and fear make me happy.

And despite my father’s personality flaws, there were many things I loved about him. Yes, he was tough on us, but he was tough on others, including the man who tried to rob his kebab shop and found himself up against a wall with a knife to his throat. Dad was something of a wild man, who did what the hell he wanted to – a rebel, an anti-hero. Until he developed a rare, incurable type of cancer that slowly killed him.

Maybe he’s the reason I’m drawn to characters who use violence or the threat of it to get what they want. And that’s probably why I’ve written a thriller, rather than a mystery. I’ve never been one for ‘whodunnits’. I don’t want to see the killer identified at the very end – it’s them I want to watch or read about, to try and understand, all the way through. In a game of cat and mouse, you might find me rooting for the cat…

I also love strong female characters, though, like Saga Norén in The Bridge, or “The Bride” in Kill Bill. Tough women who stand up to men, and can kick their arses – or chop them up – when they need to. It doesn’t take much imagination to figure out why they appeal to me.

So, when you’re looking at me, a grown man who writes about serial killers, and there’s that combination of pity and bewilderment in your eyes… well, maybe you’ll still think I’m a little crazy. But at least now you know why. And where would you prefer me to be? Sitting alone in a room, making up stories? Or out on the streets, lurking in the shadows…

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When I first read the blurb of this book it gave me goosebumps.  What a story!  There was no way I was going to pass up the opportunity to read it.  And I’m so glad I did as this is a brilliant serial killer thriller with everything I enjoy in one novel.

Sarah isn’t your average, everyday serial killer, oh no!  First of all, she’s a woman and second, she doesn’t fit into any of the traditional stereotypical profiles.  Oh, and she WANTS to stop hunting and killing gorgeous young men.  So she seeks the help of infamous celebrity psychiatrist, Karl Gross.  But Karl has his own plan for Sarah and his own twisted fantasies.  Another of Karl’s patients, DI Martin White is put on Sarah’s case alongside fellow detective, Phil Burton.  But it’s just the two of them versus a clever, accomplished killer.  Will they be able to stop Sarah before she kills again?  And is Sarah really the most dangerous one…?

This is such a great story which I devoured in a few short sittings.  I loved the female serial killer angle, the psychology aspect and the incredibly damaged detective (really, those three things are all I want in a book!).  The three main characters are brilliantly written and I particularly liked Sarah.  The book reminded me a little of American Psycho (even before I got to the nod to Patrick Bateman) but the level of violence is substantially less grizzley in PsychoAnalysis (don’t get me wrong though, this book contains a fair amount of violence).

The twist towards the end was completely unexpected which was a thrill.  The plot moved at a good pace and my interest was kept from start to finish.  I just wanted more!  I was a smidge disappointed with the end as it seemed to come too quickly.  I would also like to see more of Martin White but get the feeling this book is a one off and we won’t be seeing DI White again (shame).

Would I recommend this book?  I most certainly would, I blooming loved it.  Thrilling, exciting and edge of your seat stuff for all fans of serial killer fiction.

Four and a half stars out of five.

Many thanks to V. R. Stone for providing me with a copy of PsychoAnalysis in exchange for an honest review.

PsychoAnalysis by V. R. Stone was published in the UK by Silverwhite Press on 14th October 2016 and is available in paperback and eBook format | amazon.co.uk | amazon.com | Goodreads | To watch the book trailer, please click here |

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41fm7przzel-_ux250_ V.R. Stone loves crime stories – The Silence of The Lambs, The Sopranos, American Psycho, Pulp Fiction, Shutter Island – movies, TV shows and books featuring cynical cops, femmes fatale, gangsters and serial killers. Thrills, twists and violence – that’s what he craves. Give him a well-crafted tale featuring compelling characters on the wrong side of the law and he’ll be a happy man.


He really does have an unhealthy fascination with people getting shot, stabbed and strangled. But he doesn’t have the guts to set up a protection racket in his leafy London suburb, rob a bank or follow you home at night. So he sits alone in a room making up stories.

When he’s not busy with that, he works in the City of London and spends time with his very patient wife and very impatient children.

Author Links: | Facebook | Twitter | Website | Goodreads |

 

#BlogTour | #Extract: I Kill by Lex Lander @Authoright

i-kill-cover-image“WHEN SHE WAS TAKEN FROM HIM HE WENT AFTER HER AND SEALED HER FATE – HIS TOO

Racked by guilt over his accidental killing of a young Italian girl, contract killer André Warner has effectively retired himself from his ‘profession’ and taken to drink and other palliatives, while sinking slowly into a mire of depression.

A contract in Tangier to assassinate an Arab drug trafficker lures him out of retirement and self-pity. Soon after his arrival he encounters attractive American widow, Clair Power, and her precocious sixteen year-old daughter, Lizzy, who bears such a striking resemblance to the girl Warner killed that his waning anguish is instantly rekindled. He attempts to assuage it by embarking on a fling with Clair which brings him into conflict with a mysterious Dutchman named Rik de Bruin, who also appears to have designs on her.

The contract on the drug merchant is cancelled with no explanation given, but Warner, now seriously involved with Clair, is more relieved than disappointed. Their budding romance is not destined to blossom however. Clair disappears and Warner is landed with the role of de facto guardian to Lizzy.

In tracking down Clair, Warner crosses a line that brings him into conflict with the local police and he is deported from Tangier with a distraught Lizzy in tow. Back at his Andorra villa she slowly recovers from her mother’s disappearance and launches an assault on Warner’s good intentions. Her increasingly provocative behavior disturbs yet excites him, and when Rik de Bruin pitches up in Andorra and begins to take an interest in Lizzy too, Warner gets possessive the only way he knows.

Too late, alas, to save Lizzy from an unspeakable fate.”

I am delighted to welcome you to my stop on the I Kill blog tour.  I Kill is book two in the Andre Warner, Manhunter series written by author Lex Lander.  I read and reviewed the first book, End As An Assassin back in May 2016.  If you would like to read my review then click here.

Today I have an extract from I Kill to share with you.  I will be reviewing I Kill at a later date on the blog so keep an eye out for that.

The waiter deposited my espresso before me. I was tearing the top off a sachet of sugar when the tall woman emerged from the hotel interior and crossed the terrace. She had good carriage – shoulders well back, pelvis thrust forward, projecting a feline self-assurance that complemented her height.

Passing close to my table she glanced sideways, and I raised my coffee cup in homage.

‘Problem sorted?’

Her jaw dropped slightly as she slowed.

‘I … beg your pardon?’ ‘

I’m sorry, I didn’t mean to interfere. You looked to be in difficulty.’

‘Oh, that.’ Her frown lasted only a moment or two before clearing. ‘Aah, I see. It was you who sent that hotel bouncer to my rescue, wasn’t it? I guess I should thank you.’ Only guessed? It sounded grudging.

‘Not unless I did the right thing.’ I smiled apologetically, hoping to put her at ease. ‘If I acted out of line, I’m sorry.’

‘No … it’s not that …’ She came closer, a diffident sidle. ‘May I sit down?’

‘Be my guest.’ I got to my feet, pulled out a chair. ‘Shall I order some coffee?’

‘Oh, er … yes, why not? And could you get a Pepsi or something for my daughter? She’ll be along in a sec.’ She sat cautiously, as if she expected the chair to be booby trapped. ‘I’ll pay, of course.’

‘My name’s Alan Melville,’ I said, as I resumed my seat. The pseudonym slid glibly enough off my tongue. So often did I travel under false identities that at times André Warner seemed to be another person altogether.

We shook hands across the table. Hers was cool in both senses. Her fingernails were painted silver, I noticed.

‘Clair Power,’ she said. The waiter cruised over, took our order without a break in his stride, and carried on to the far side of the terrace to serve some new arrivals.

‘Pretty efficient here, aren’t they?’ I said, making small talk the way you do with a stranger, marking time to see how the land lay.

‘Mmm,’ she said with a little nod. ‘I’ve been pleasantly surprised. Not that we spend much time in the hotel, we’re mostly out sightseeing. We may not get another chance for a long time.’

She fluffed up her short brown hair and leaned back, taking stock of our surroundings, while I took stock of her. She was worth the effort. Her age I put at mid-thirties. In her sexual prime and not bad in the looks department, with her deep-set, blue-green eyes, small soft mouth, and sophisticated veneer. There were some fine lines in the usual places, but these only served to augment her appeal. The impression was of a woman who experienced the pluses and minuses of life.

In a corner of the terrace was a grotto with a waterfall at which tiny birds came to bathe. She was looking that way now, and the dance and sparkle of the water lit up her solemn gaze.

‘Is there just you and your daughter, Mrs Power?’ I asked. It was another way of asking if a husband was in the vicinity, and is the sort of question that sets alarm bells jangling inside most unattached women. In this regard Clair Power was true to her sex. Her appraisal, before replying, was shrewd, penetrating, yet far from hostile. A weighing of motives perhaps.

‘If you mean is my husband with us,’ she said at last, ‘the answer is no. Actually, he’s … well, I’m a widow.’

I made commiserating noises.

‘It’s okay. It happened two years ago. I guess I’m over it.’

‘No other children?’ I asked, more to get onto another topic than out of curiosity about the extent of her brood.

‘No. Only Elizabeth.’

Coffee and a tall Pepsi with two bendy straws were set down on our table. I gave the waiter my room number and slipped him a twenty-dirham note that almost fell apart as he took it. Most of the local currency was in an advanced state of decay.

‘You’re a long way from home, Mrs Power.’ Keeping the conversation in motion was becoming a struggle.

‘Clair,’ she corrected distantly as she stirred her unsweetened coffee, worrying at her lower lip. As the silence lengthened and I was mentally seeking a suitable platitude with which to break it, she blurted, ‘Look, I’m sorry if I seem uncommunicative. I just wasn’t sure if I should say anything. Anyhow … here goes. That man you saw us with upstairs has been bothering me ever since we got here.’

‘Really?’ I didn’t ask her to elaborate, just left an opening in case she wanted to.

‘Yes. He … oh, you know … keeps asking me out. He even got my cell number from somewhere, and keeps calling me. He even suggested we move out of the hotel and be his house guests.’ She snorted nervously. ‘You can imagine what for, I suppose.’

A red-blooded male behaving like a red-blooded male, was my silent opinion. The opinion I diplomatically expressed was, ‘A visit sounds harmless enough. Especially if he’s invited both of you. He can hardly, er … misbehave while your daughter’s around.’

She sawed some more at her bottom lip. ‘But why won’t he take no for an answer? Why so persistent? Every day, without fail, he pounces on me from … from nowhere. It’s like being ambushed.’ She shuddered. ‘I’ve nothing against him as a person. I barely know him, only that his name’s Henrik de Bruin, though he calls himself Rik. Oh, and he lives in Holland, and he’s not short of money. I’m not off men altogether. It’s just him. I have a bad feeling about him.’ She shot me a hard look, as if wondering why she was exposing her soul to a stranger.

I hope that’s whetted your appetite.  I Kill by Lex Lander is published by Kaybec Publishing and is available in eBook format from amazon.co.uk.

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British-born thriller writer Lex Lander was raised in France, earned his degree in French and Italian in New Zealand and currently lives in Montreal. Lander is the author of political thriller ANOTHER DAY, ANOTHER JACKAL, published by Kaybec in 2013. Vol III in the series, THE MAN WHO HUNTED HIMSELF, will be published by Kaybec in the autumn. The first two volumes in the André Warner series, END AS AN ASSASSIN and I KILL by Lex Lander (published by Kaybec 1st May 2016) are available to buy online from retailers including amazon.co.uk. and all good bookstores including WHSmiths.

 

 

#BlogTour | #BookReview: The Bird Tribunal by Agnes Ravatn trs. @rosie_hedger @OrendaBooks

the-bird-tribunal-a_w-v4“Two people in exile. Two secrets. As the past tightens its grip, there may be no escape… TV presenter Allis Hagtorn leaves her partner and her job to take voluntary exile in a remote house on an isolated fjord. But her new job as housekeeper and gardener is not all that it seems, and her silent, surly employer, 44-year-old Sigurd Bagge, is not the old man she expected. As they await the return of his wife from her travels, their silent, uneasy encounters develop into a chilling, obsessive relationship, and it becomes clear that atonement for past sins may not be enough…

Haunting, consuming and powerful, The Bird Tribunal is a taut, exquisitely written psychological thriller that builds to a shocking, dramatic crescendo that will leave you breathless.”

I am thrilled to be today’s stop on the The Bird Tribunal blog tour.  The Bird Tribunal is written by Agnes Ravatn,  translated from it’s original Norwegian by Rosie Hedger and is published by the inimitable Orenda Books.  I have to say, I have never read a book quite like this before.  Strangely unsettling but a completely riveting read!

Allis Hagtorn is running away.  Something happened which has made her ‘up sticks’ and leave everything she knows behind, including her husband and her influential job.  The only way forward for Allis is to withdraw from everyday life as much as she can, submitting herself to voluntary exile.  Sigurd Bagge offers her a new job as his housekeeper and gardener, whilst his wife is away.  The job suits Allis down to the ground as Bagge’s home is remote and Bagge himself is secretive and uncommunicative.  But what secrets is Allis hiding?  And is she the only one…?

I found this a gripping read.  I had a strong feeling of impending doom from early on which stayed with me and grew stronger as I moved through the book.  It’s certainly an unsettling read and I found it oddly uncomfortable in places (not the subject matter so much as the feeling that I was intruding on the characters most private moments). That certainly didn’t put me off though!  It’s a fairly quick read and so easy to devour in the space of a few hours.  I thoroughly enjoyed it! 

Allis’ neediness towards Bagge added to that uncomfortable feeling at times.  There were several points when I wanted her to walk away from the house and never look back.  I was torn in two; wanting her to leave but knowing there was something big on the way.  That delicious build up of friction between the two characters was so utterly compelling!  Not forgetting of course, that fabulous, unexpected ending.

Would I recommend this book?  I would, especially if you’re looking for a character driven, somewhat intoxicating, slow-build of a read to a surprising, yet stunning conclusion.   Packed full of secrets and shed loads of atmosphere.  It’s a great read!

Four and a half stars out of five.

Many thanks to Karen Sullivan at Orenda Books for providing me with a copy of The Bird Tribunal in exchange for an honest review.

The Bird Tribunal by Agnes Ravatn trs. Rosie Hedger was published in the UK by Orenda Books on 30th September 2016 and is available in paperback and eBook format | amazon.co.uk | amazon.com | Waterstones | Goodreads | Orenda Books |

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agnes-ravatn-ashxAgnes Ravatn (b. 1983) is an author and columnist. She made her literary début with the novel Week 53 (Veke 53) in 2007. Since then she has written three critically acclaimed and award-winning essay collections:Standing still (Stillstand), 2011, Popular reading (Folkelesnad), 2011, and Operation self-discipline (Operasjon sjøldisiplin), 2014. In these works Ravatn shows her unique, witty voice and sharp eye for human fallibility. Her second novel, The Bird Tribunal (Fugletribuanlet), 2013, is a strange and captivating story about shame, guilt and atonement. Ravatn received The cultural radio P2’s listener’s prize for this novel, a popular and important prize in Norway, in addition to The Youth’s Critic’s Prize. The Bird Tribunalwas also made into a successful play, which premiered in Oslo in 2015. It is published by Orenda Books in September 2016.

405704_10100129059101931_425159055_n-300x222Rosie Hedger was born in Scotland and completed her MA (Hons) in Scandinavian Studies at the University of Edinburgh. She has lived and worked in Norway, Sweden and Denmark, and now lives in York where she works as a freelance translator. Rosie was a candidate in the British Centre for Literary Translation’s mentoring scheme for Norwegian in 2012, mentored by Don Bartlett.

 

“This is a stonking read!”#bookreview by @damppebbles #FlowersForTheDead #BirthdayBlogTour

I am delighted to be today’s stop on Barbara Copperthwaite’s Flowers for the Dead birthday blog tour. I can’t recommend FFTD enough. It’s superb!

Barbara Copperthwaite

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“I had heard great things so had high expectations.  It met each and every one of them and threw in a little extra for good measure.”

Even as a child Emma, of review blog damppebbles, was passionate about spreading the word on good books.She would take her Sweet Valley Twins books to school and lend them to friends, urging them to read!

Now she’s all grown up, she prefers crime novels over those involving horses and milkshakes – but she’s as keen as ever to spread a little book love. So she started damppebbles. But what’s the story behind the unusual blog name? “If I ever win the lottery I’m opening my own bookshop. A bit like Waterstones but so much better as I’d serve wine!” she explains. Sounds amazing!

After her incredible review for Flowers For The Dead, I’m keener than ever that Emma’s dream come true. She…

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#BlogTour | #BookReview: A Suitable Lie by Michael J. Malone (@michaelJmalone1) @OrendaBooks

41lslkcpql-_sx324_bo1204203200_“Some secrets should never be kept…

Andy Boyd thinks he is the luckiest man alive. Widowed with a young child, after his wife dies in childbirth, he is certain that he will never again experience true love. Then he meets Anna. Feisty, fun and beautiful, she’s his perfect match … and she loves his son like he is her own. When Andy ends up in the hospital on his wedding night, he receives his first clue that Anna is not all that she seems. Desperate for that happy-ever-after, he ignores it. A dangerous mistake that could cost him everything. A brave, deeply moving, page-turning psychological thriller, A Suitable Lie marks a stunning departure for one of Scotland’s finest crime writers, exploring the lengths people will go to hide their deepest secrets, even if it kills them…”

Stop everything!  This is an incredible book and I suggest you click on this link now and just buy yourself a copy.  It upsets me to think that there are people out there who won’t experience the wonder that is A Suitable Lie.  Don’t be one of them.  If you want to read a psychological thriller that takes you through every emotion (and I mean EVERY emotion) then you have no choice, get yourself a copy of A Suitable Lie.  Absolutely sublime!

Andy Boyd is a widower with a young son.  He’s not that interested in meeting someone else as he knows no one will ever replace Patricia in his heart.  That is until he meets beautiful charismatic Anna.  It’s an instant attraction and before long the wedding invitations have been sent to friends and family.  But on their wedding night something terrible happens and Andy ends up in the local A&E department.  It’s OK, they’ll laugh about it in the future – one of those ‘do you remember when…’ moments.  But that’s not the end of Andy’s accidents, oh no.  It’s only the beginning of the pain, hurt and humiliation coming his way.  Can Andy escape the reign of terror forced upon him by the woman he loves?  For him?  For his son…?

Now that I’ve managed to calm down a little I can welcome you to my stop on the A Suitable Lie blog tour.  Categorically my favourite book of the year.  Full stop.  I’m not going to add ‘so far’ because it would take one heck of novel to knock A Suitable Lie off of the top spot.  I finished reading a couple of days ago and all I’ve thought about for the last two days is this book!  I finally understand the term ‘book hangover’.

This is one seriously dark and addictive tale.  There were moments where I was completely torn; I felt I had to pull myself away from the story (even just for a few gulps of fresh clean air) but there was no way I was going to stop reading.  There were moments where my tummy did a queasy flip, but I wasn’t going to stop reading.  Oh my gosh it was phenomenal!  This is my book of the year, without doubt (and we still have three months to go!).

Andy Boyd is a wonderful character (don’t tell my husband but I may be a little in love with Andy).  I am totally ashamed to admit that I wanted to dislike him a little for showing signs of weakness but the writing is so that you just feel bucketfuls of empathy and admiration instead.  He’s a decent, honest man doing the best he can for his son…and he truly loves Anna.

The other characters were brilliantly written; I loved Andy’s brother, Jim and their mum.  But oh my, I adored the children in this book.  Both Pat and Ryan are so beautifully written that they felt very real to me.  It may just be because I have a five year old and a two year old myself (roughly Pat and Ryan’s ages) that I felt real angst and fear for the boys.  Particularly towards the end.  If I could have sat behind the sofa whilst reading, I would have!

Would I recommend this book?  I ADORE this book.  I don’t tend to re-read books but this one I could easily break that rule for.  Look out family members who enjoy psychological thrillers, this is the book you’re getting for Christmas!  I want to tell everyone I meet about this book, whether they want to listen or not! Absolutely wonderful; a haunting tale of love and terror mixed together to perfection to create the must-read book of the year.  BUY THIS BOOK!!

Six stars out of five (I’m joking but I would if I could, five out of five stars!).

Many thanks to Liz and Karen Sullivan at Orenda Books for providing me with a copy of A Suitable Lie in exchange for an honest review.

A Suitable Lie by Michael J Malone was published in the UK by Orenda Books on 15th September 2016 and is available in paperback and eBook formats | amazon.co.uk | amazon.com | Waterstones | Goodreads | Orenda Books |

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bobmcd18-214x300Michael Malone is a prize-winning poet and author who was born and brought up in the heart of Burns’ country, just a stone’s throw from the great man’s cottage in Ayr. Well, a stone thrown by a catapult. He has published over 200 poems in literary magazines throughout the UK, including New Writing Scotland, Poetry Scotland and Markings. His career as a poet has also included a (very) brief stint as the Poet-In-Residence for an adult gift shop.Blood Tears, his bestselling debut novel won the Pitlochry Prize (judge: Alex Gray) from the Scottish Association of Writers.

Other published work includes: Carnegie’s Call (a non-fiction work about successful modern-day Scots); A Taste for Malice; The Guillotine Choice; and Beyond the Rage. His poetry includes: In The Raw, Running Threadsand Lip Synch. Michael is a regular reviewer for the hugely popular crime fiction website www.crimesquad.com. A former Regional Sales Manager (Faber & Faber) he has also worked as an IFA and a bookseller.

Author Links: Facebook | Twitter | Website |

#BlogTour #BookReview: Shadow of the Beast by Michael Fowler (@MichaelFowler1) @caffeinenights

shadow-of-the-beast-jpg‘A new terror is sweeping Barnwell and Hunter faces a killer whose evil surpasses all others.’

“The discovery of a skeleton buried beneath the altar of an old chapel should not have raised an eyebrow, but this one was different. This one had been savagely murdered, and all the evidence points to the blood-thirsty killer the press have dubbed ‘The Beast of Barnwell’; a killer who has already served time for the brutal murder of a young girl and is now free.

Is this his handiwork?

In the midst of the enquiry, a 22 year old woman is abducted on her way home from work. Is there a link?

To add to Hunter’s workload his former boss, Michael Robshaw, is deliberately mown down and left for dead.

Why?

In his search for the truth Hunter returns to his undercover roots – with deadly consequences.”

I am thrilled to welcome you to my stop on the Shadow of the Beast blog tour…and hooray, it’s publication day!  Happy book birthday Michael Fowler and Caffeine Nights Publishing. Shadow of the Beast is book five in the DS Hunter Kerr series.  I haven’t come across this series or author before, but I will definitely be keeping a lookout for Michael Fowler’s books in the future.  (And hey, it wouldn’t be a damppebbles review if I wasn’t going into a series somewhere around book 5, would it?!)

Construction work digs up a human skull.  DS Hunter Kerr is called to the scene to start a new murder investigation.  Except it’s not a recent death.  The body is that of a young woman who was murdered in the 1980s.  But that’s only half of the problem.  Placed upon her corpse is the skull of a cow, and it’s quite obvious that the skull had skin and flesh covering it when it was first interred with the victim.  There starts a particularly difficult investigation for DS Kerr and his team, which goes to prove that time does not heal all wounds.  Time just makes it harder to solve a murder investigation.  The body count is rising as the investigators dig as far back as the 1970s.  Can Kerr and his team discover who has been getting away with murder for all this time?  And what of the savage hit and run accident that has put Crime Manager, Michael Robshaw into ICU?  Is this current vicious attack related to past misdemeanours…?

There’s nothing like a good ol’ police procedural to lose yourself in and Shadow of the Beast did just that for me.  This was my first introduction to Hunter Kerr and team and I will be making a point of reading the other books in the series as soon as the #terrifyingTBR starts to reduce a little.  I was expecting a strong and rather strapping DS with a name like Hunter Kerr and thankfully Michael Fowler’s writing and my imagination didn’t let me down!  I liked Hunter.  I expect there’s a lot to his back story that I’m not aware of but he did feel different to my normal lead investigators.

Even though the majority of the investigation is written around a cold case it was still exciting to read with twists and turns.  One of the characters oozed evil for me, a real nasty piece of work.

Would I recommend this book?  I most certainly would, what’s not to love?!  It fits the bill perfectly for those autumnal evenings where all you want to do is snuggle on the sofa with a glass of wine and a good book.  Lovely!

Four out of five stars.

Thanks to Noelle Holten, Caffeine Nights Publishing and Michael Fowler for providing me with a copy of Shadow of the Beast in exchange for an honest review.

Shadow of the Beast (DS Hunter Kerr #5) was published in the UK by Caffeine Nights Publishing on 6th October 2016 and is available in paperback and eBook format | amazon.co.uk | amazon.com | Waterstones | Goodreads | Caffeine Nights Publishing |

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mf-publicity-imageMichael Fowler was born and brought up in the Dearne Valley area of Yorkshire where he still lives with his wife.

At the age of 16 he left school with the ambition of going to art college but his parents’ financial circumstances meant he had to find work and so he joined the police.

He has never regretted that decision, serving as a police officer for thirty-two years, both in uniform and in plain clothes, working in CID, and undercover in Vice Squad and Drug Squad, retiring as an Inspector in charge of a busy CID in 2006.

Since leaving Michael has embarked on two careers: he is an established author with two crime series to his name: DS Hunter Kerr and DS Scarlett Macey, and he has also co-written a true crime story.

He is a member of the Crime Writers Association and International Thriller Writers.

Author Links: | Website | Twitter | Goodreads |

 

#GuestPost | #BookReview: Ward Zero by Linda Huber (@LindaHuber19)

I am thrilled to welcome Linda Huber back to the blog today to celebrate the release of her brilliant new book Ward Zero on 1st October 2016.  Linda has written a piece about the shocking scam she used as inspiration for Ward Zero.  It’s heartbreaking to think that so many elderly people fall for this heartless con.  Over to you Linda…

The Grandchild Trick

Several years ago, I was watching a popular consumer programme on Swiss TV. As well as giving us info about the best kind of toothpaste, and how much nitrate is in which kinds of pre-packed salad, they uncover conmen and their scams, so it makes for interesting watching. And one report had my ears sky-high…

It was about an old woman, and she had lost most of her savings. Why? Because someone had called her on the phone, and when he said he was a distant relative in need of a cash injection, she believed him.

I was gobsmacked. Firstly, that anyone would have the temerity to target an old person in this way, and secondly, that the woman had fallen for it. Not only that, she’d gone to the bank, withdrawn a huge amount of money, and given it to him. Personally. By the time her family realised what had happened, the cash was long gone.

Then, over the next several months, there was an absolute rash of such crimes – old people were contacted, mostly on the phone, given some sob story about a friend or relative, and asked for cash. A horrifyingly large number of them fell for it, and the newspapers started calling it The Grandchild Trick.

The conmen/women were clever – they manipulated the initial conversation in such a way that it seemed to the old person that this was someone who knew all about the family. And of course, so many older people are lonely, vulnerable, only too pleased to chat to a friendly voice on the phone…

It’s such a cruel scam, and unbelievable as it sounds, it’s still happening. Nowadays, fortunately, banks are watching out for it, and if an older person arrives and demands a large cash sum, the bank will inquire further. But that doesn’t help if the victim uses a cash dispenser…

The sheer audacity of it fascinated me and a shimmer of an idea for a book started in my head. How did the conman plan his attack? How would he persuade his victims that he knew them? How would the victims react? What kind of older person would fall for this?
And then – where would be a good place for the conman to find his victims? In a hospital, yes. What if…

And that was the start of Ward Zero. It’s the story of Sarah, who arrives home expecting to go on holiday with her foster mum, then finds herself in the middle of a con trick centred around the local hospital. Before long, Sarah’s life is in danger…

My crime info for this book came mainly from Switzerland, while my hospital info came from my own jobs as a physiotherapist in Scotland and Switzerland. The book is set near Manchester, England, where friends live… it was a pretty international project! And it was very nearly finished, when early this year I discovered that someone I know was almost a victim of The Grandchild Trick herself.

It’s a small world – and a dangerous one.

***

Thank you, Linda.  It’s not on the same scale at all but I remember being very upset to discover that my grandfather (who is no longer with us) had fallen for numerous charity scams of a similar ilk. People turning up on his doorstep requesting money for ‘Feed the Garden Gnomes’ and that sort of thing. Heartbreaking that people could do that really.

As well as Linda’s brilliant guest post I have my review of Ward Zero to share with you today.  But first the cover and blurb to whet your appetite:

51qagdtl-al“Horror swept through her. Had she been buried alive?

On Sarah’s first visit to see her foster mother, Mim, in Brockburn General Hospital, she is sucked into a world that isn’t what it should be.

Someone is lying, someone is stealing. And someone is killing – but who? With a grieving child to take care of, as well as Mim, Sarah has to put family first. She doesn’t see where danger lies – until it’s too late.

If you think you’re safe in a hospital, think again.”

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First off, I love that cover.  I think it’s creepy and it gives me the heebie jeebies. Which meant I had high expectations for Ward Zero, also my first Linda Huber read.  I am delighted to confirm that those expectations were well met and I can’t wait to make a start on Linda’s other books.

Petra and her young daughter, Frankie are in a panic.  Having suffered a number of strokes, Wilma, Petra’s grandmother, is ensconced in hospital for the foreseeable future. That however doesn’t stop the rent from being due.  Thankfully, Petra has taken on the majority of Wilma’s affairs including paying her rent on time.  But there’s no money.  All of Wilma’s savings have gone.  Just vanished!  Whilst visiting Wilma in hospital, Petra bumps into Sarah and her foster mother.  Sarah recognises Petra immediately as Petra’s daughter has also spent time in her foster mother’s care.  By being in the wrong place at the wrong time, Sarah is unwittingly thrown into a tale of deceit and murder.  The bodies begin to pile up, but can Sarah work out who the ‘con artist turned murderer’ is before it’s too late…?

I love books where everyone you meet along the way ‘could’ be the killer and this is one of those books.  Who would be so heartless as to steal the life savings of the elderly hospital patients?  The guy who works in the hospital bank?  The incredibly secretive staff nurse?  Oh there are plenty of suspects.  I did manage to guess who the killer was before the reveal but Linda Huber’s writing kept me on my toes.  You make an educated guess at the suspect, only to be convinced otherwise a few pages on!

This book had a lovely family feel about it; a real ‘them versus us’, ‘good versus evil’ which I really enjoyed.  It’s a strange thing for me to say on this blog but the family feel gave the story warmth and a sense of camaraderie.  I really liked Sarah and was cheering her on all the way.

The closing chapters were creepy and I was on the edge of my seat, wondering whether Sarah would manage to escape her predicament. I was drawn into the story and was fascinated to see where the plot would go.

Would I recommend this book?  I would. It’s a jot gentler than my usual reads but it was very enjoyable and I’m keen to move Linda’s previous books to the top of the TBR.  I enjoyed Linda’s writing and characters and look forward to reading more soon. 

Four out of five stars.

Many thanks to Linda Huber for providing me with a copy of Ward Zero…the Dead Ward in exchange for an honest review.

Ward Zero…the Dead Ward by Linda Huber was published in the UK on 1st October 2016 and is available in eBook format | amazon.co.uk | amazon.com | Goodreads |

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LindaHuber

Linda Huber grew up in Glasgow, Scotland, but went to work in Switzerland for a year aged twenty-two, and has lived there ever since. Her day jobs have included working as a physiotherapist in hospitals and schools for handicapped children, and teaching English in a medieval castle. Not to mention several years spent as a full-time mum to two boys and a rescue dog.
Linda’s books are psychological suspense novels, and the ideas for them come from daily life. The Paradise Trees and The Cold Cold Sea were traditionally published in 2013/2014 before she self-published The Attic Room in 2015 and Chosen Child in early 2016.
Ward Zero, her fifth book, was inspired by a Swiss TV programme and a hospital in the UK…

Author Links:  Amazon UK | Amazon US | Facebook | Twitter | Website | Blog |