#BlogTour | #Extract: Broken Ponies by Sophie Jonas-Hill (@SophieJonasHill) @urbanebooks @LoveBooksGroup #BrokenPonies #CrookedLittleSisters

9781911583707“THE PREY WILL BECOME THE HUNTER

‘Are you scared of him, Rita? Scared he might find you?’
‘No. I’m scared because I want him to find me.’

Ex-soldier Red and the mysterious Rita have been thrown together by a series of deadly events, each relying on the other not simply to survive, but to challenge the hand fate has dealt them. 

Having survived a night under siege in a crumbling house in the steamy bayou, Red and Rita go on the run, desperate to evade
their unknown pursuers. Details of Red’s past and Rita’s childhood are gradually revealed but can they really trust each other?

But the hunters have not given up the chase, and Rita unknowingly becomes the bait in a trap set for Red in a terrifying, storm-damaged fairground….

The second book in the Crooked Little Sisters series, Broken Ponies will thrill fans of dark gothic thrillers and readers of John Connolly, Joe Hill and Holly Seddon.”

I am delighted to welcome you to my stop on the Broken Ponies blog tour.  Broken Ponies is the second book in the Crooked Little Sisters series written by Sophie Jonas-Hill and was published on 27th September 2018 by Urbane Publications.  I read and reviewed the first book in the series, Nemesister, last year and thoroughly enjoyed it.  I can’t wait to make a start on this latest instalment!

Today though, I have an extract from the book to share with you.

THE SAVANNAH HEIGHTS CASINO did its best. Above the two gaming levels, there were six floors of reasonably priced hotel rooms, which were reasonably clean and reasonably anonymous, a woefully under-used pool deck and a ‘skyline’ bar. This translated to a room that ran the whole length of the building, offering a panoramic sweep of the city, though the view was mostly the back of everything else, as if The Savannah Heights was a short kid come late to the school photograph.

At 3.30 a.m. above the background hum and trill of slots, the click of chips and the dull, subterranean thump of the generators, an angry noise began to rise from table four. I’d seen the guy playing there when I’d come onto the floor after my break and was pretty sure he’d been there long before that, though guys like him were pretty hard to distinguish from one another, or indeed the fixtures and fittings. This one had the same hard, chiseled expression as the faux, carved wooden Tiki heads dotted about the place, until of course he lost, which he just had – big time.

Like Mormons us security operatives are supposed to travel in pairs, but Olaf was still in the bathroom, which meant I alone was the sole representative of Savannah Heights law. With no time to wait for Olaf to wash up, I strode toward table four, nodding to its operative Barbara to let her know I’d seen what was happening.

‘You goddamn’ bitch–’ Tiki man, pot-bellied and crackling with anger, jabbed his finger at her face. ‘I said stick, and you goddamn went an’ hit me. What the hell you go and do a thing like that for? You deaf, well as stupid?’

Somewhere off to his right one of the slots chose that moment to pay out and play the opening chords of ‘Sweet Home Alabama’. It didn’t improve anyone’s mood.

‘Sir –’ I began, ‘Sir, is there a problem?’

Tiki man struck the table top, sending cards, chips, beer an’ all skittering to the floor as Barbara, trapped in the table’s central well, arms jammed across her chest, let out a yelp of protest.

‘You heard that then, you stupid bitch!’

The lucky few still awake at this hour turned to get a good look, necks craning out of plaid shirts and sports collars.

‘Sir!’ I tried again. My hand on his shoulder, I was dimly aware of Olaf hurrying through the archipelago of tables while doing up his flies. Then Tiki man swung round to face me. He was wearing a blue shirt crowded with images of pigs dressed in grass skirts and flower garlands – really, I thought, hula pigs? Now, did you buy that, or was it a gift? I mean, seriously, did you actually look at that and think – hey, now that’s the one for me?

‘Sir, you’re gonna have to calm down here …’

One of our boss Jose’s theories was that you need women on staff because men are more reluctant to hit them. As Tiki man threw a punch at me, I made a mental note to question this at our next team meeting.

‘Oh no you didn’t,’ I heard myself say. His blow connected with my left arm; I deflected it but was hit instead by a waft of aftershave and stale sweat. Tiki man didn’t get the hint. Backed into a chair he rounded on me quicker than I’d expected. He didn’t swear either; most start calling you names and threatening legal action, proving they’re more bark than bite. Tiki man said nothing, just went for me, hard and mean.

Time snagged on the bright lights and chatter of voices. The world stuttered to a halt, that god-awful shirt traced blue and pink on the back of my eyes, spreading out like an ink blot. I saw things both as if I were him and as if I watched him; Tiki man, still angry, still in that shirt, but in another place, his knuckles bloodied and broken, standing over someone else, someone smaller, someone weaker – someone Tiki man thought don’t got no right to sass mouth him that way. I was somewhere else for a moment, looking through Tikki Man’s haunted, piggy eyes.

Oh no, I thought, oh no you didn’t!

‘Oh yes he did,’ Margarita said.

Reality snapped back fast enough to flinch me away from Tiki man’s fist. I caught his punch with both hands letting the force of his blow carry him off balance. He was face down on the table before he’d time to catch his breath, arm all twisted up behind his back. That should have been it; I should have been calling him ‘Sir’ and warning him that the authorities had been called, only the hot-black, heartbeat moment twisted inside me and wouldn’t let him go.

There was the dull thud of impact, then the ricochet as its force crunched back through me. I lost Tiki man and the casino and everything as memory swelled up, molasses dark and rich, bringing the taste of river water, blood and the itch of fire. When Olaf ’s arms closed around me, it took everything I had not to slam my fist into his face.

‘Rita!’ he yelled from the edge of the void. ‘Rita, what the fuck?’ I made myself go limp, gasping for air as if I were breaking the surface again. Around me the casino hissed with exclamations, all those yellow white faces tutting and sniggering at the show. Barbara was jabbering that Tiki man ‘…deserved everything he got comin’ to him. Hell, I’d have slapped him myself, if I hadn’t been stuck inside this goddamn doughnut!’

‘Rita?’ Olaf, hands on my shoulders, steered me away as two other security guys darted in behind us, one to pick up Tiki man, now mewling like a stuck kitten, and one to try and calm Barbara.

‘It’s always me what gets shit like this, all the goddamn time. Hell, only the other week some bitch sprayed me with her Christian Dior. I hate that crap too, had to get my wig dry cleaned and who’s gonna pay for that?’

‘Rita?’ I slid my gaze back to Olaf. Margarita jubilant, her smile on my lips. I pulled from his grasp. ‘What the hell was that?’ he demanded, but I was already walking away.

I strode into the locker room and kicked door number seven. The boom it made did nothing to stop the roar echoing around my head. I threw myself down onto the bench and jammed my head into my hands.

‘Don’t act like you didn’t enjoy it,’ Margarita said. ‘You were lovin’ it, just the same as me.’

‘Shut up,’ I told her. ‘You’re gonna get us both fired.’

‘Oh hush now,’ she laughed. ‘You think they’d can your ass over a piece of shit like that? I know what he did, I could smell it on him and so could you.’

‘No I couldn’t,’ I said, but I was lying.

‘Oh really?’ she said. ‘You keep on tellin’ yourself that.’

‘Rita?’ It was Jose, who really didn’t seem to have a home to go to. I glanced sideways at him and saw he’d crossed his arms across his chest in the same way Barbara had at Tiki man. Which probably meant he wanted to give me a goddamn slap as well.

‘Aren’t you supposed to provide single sex locker rooms?’ I said.

‘What the fuck?’ he replied, his forehead creased in furious lines.

‘I know,’ I said, sitting back, hands held out in front of me. ‘I crossed the line.’

‘Crossed it?’ Jose’s eyebrows pitched a tent. ‘You gone an’ pissed all over the fuckin’ line, that’s what you done.’

‘He went for me,’ I said. ‘Check the tape.’ I got up and opened my locker, already knowing my shift was over.

‘Tape?’ Jose sniffed. ‘What tape would that be?’ Half way through yanking my rucksack out I stopped to look at him. He shrugged. ‘We don’t got no camera covering that table tonight, and you don’t know any different.’ He pointed at me. ‘Never again, you understand? Whatever shit you got going on here–’ he tapped the side of his head, ‘don’t bring it to work, alright?’

‘He means me,’ Margarita sniggered.

‘You want this job, you don’t want this job, all the same to me,’ he said. I got my bag free and pulled off my uniform jacket to hang in its place. ‘But you don’t go making work for me. That piece of shit you put down’s not gonna make no trouble, but the next time?’

‘There won’t be one,’ I lied.

‘Smart,’ he said, flicking his hand toward my locker. ‘You’re done. Go home, don’t come in tomorrow–’ he raised his finger before I could protest. ‘Don’t come in tomorrow, don’t come in till Thursday. Go sleep, go get fucked, whatever, but don’t bring your shit again. Jesus, what? You get your hair done and it rots your brain or something?’

‘I thought you liked me blonde,’ I said and yanked my sweat top free of my bag. He watched me pull it on, the hand that had been pointing at me now gripping the back of his neck, where the hair was longer and bushier than it had any right to be.

‘Where the hell you learn shit like that anyway?’ he asked. I shouldered my bag.

‘I was home schooled,’ I said.

I can’t wait to get reacquainted with Rita and Red once again.  Look out for a review coming to the blog soon.

Broken Ponies by Sophie Jonas-Hill was published in the UK by Urbane Publications on 27th September 2018 and is available in paperback and eBook formats (please note, some of the following links are affiliate links which means I receive a small percentage of the purchase price at no extra cost to you): | amazon.co.uk | amazon.com | Goodreads |

about-the-author3

Sophie-Jonas-HillBW-200x300

I’ve always written and told stories, for as long as I can remember. My first self published work at the age of seven, fully illustrated in felt pen and crayon. I continued with a series of insightful ‘When I grow up I want to be an author’, essays, and an attempt at a ‘Bonk-buster’ series of supernatural thrillers written from a position of utter ignorance on all topics, until I was distracted by Art college. A never ending, or never finished, fantasy epic kept me going through my twenties, but it was motherhood in my thirties which concentrated my mind enough to actually finish a novel. It’s amazing what a bit of life experience and the sudden curtailing of your free time can do to concentrate the mind.

After that I began giving myself permission to take my writing seriously enough to spend time on it and actually listen to critiques. The writing festival in York proved invaluable, and time and disappointment got me to the point of producing something readable, which I was lucky enough to have read by Urbane publications.

If you make or write anything, the number one question you get asked is ‘where do you get your ideas from?’ In answer to that question, it’s an easy process which combines working on your craft every hour you can for as long as possible – hard graft – reading as much as you can of everyone else’s work – stealing – and inspiration, which is just one of those things that just happens. The inspiration for ‘Nemesister’ comes from a dark episode of family history, and a moment from a dream; an image of a man standing in the doorway of what I knew was an abandoned shack, which was gone as soon as it came and yet lingered, the way some dreams do.

Author Links: | Twitter | Facebook |

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#BlogTour | #Extract: Leave No Trace by Mindy Mejia @QuercusBooks #LeaveNoTrace

leave no trace cover.jpg“Ten years after a boy and his father went missing in the wilderness of Minnesota’s Boundary Waters, the boy – who is no longer a boy – walks back out of the forest. He is violent and uncommunicative. The authorities take him to Congdon Mental Institution in Duluth, on the edge of mighty Lake Superior.

There, language therapist Maya Stark is given the task of making a connection with this boy/man who came back from the dead. But their celebrity patient tries to escape and refuses to answer any questions about his father or the last ten years of his life. In many ways he is old far beyond his years; in others, still a child.

But Maya, who was abandoned by her own mother, has secrets, too. And as she’s drawn closer to this enigmatic boy, she’ll risk everything to reunite him with his father who has disappeared from the known world – but at what cost to herself?”

I am delighted to welcome you to the blog today and to my stop on the Leave No Trace blog tour.  Leave No Trace is the latest release from author Mindy Mejia and was published by Quercus Books on 4th September 2018.  I read and reviewed Mejia’s fantastic The Last Act of Hattie Hoffman last March and thoroughly enjoyed it, so Leave No Trace sits high on the wishlist.

I am thrilled to have an extract from the book to share with you today.  So without further ado, grab yourself a cuppa and dive straight in…

The patient faced the back of the room with his hands on the cement block wall in a push-up position. From the way he stoodwith h is shoulders tensed and legs braced it looked like he was trying to move the entire wall. I took a step closer and noticed his hospital shirt was torn at the bottom and he’d used the missing strip to tie his hair back.

‘Hello, Lucas.’

He remained still for a second, but then surprised me by turning his head. I saw his face in person for the first time.

He wasn’t a boy.

My brain stuttered on that one thought for what felt like a stupidly long time as our eyes met and held. Why did all the media keep calling him a boy? Lucas Blackthorn looked at least as old as me and stood a foot taller. His cheeks were hollow and shaded with the beginning of a beard. His skin was a deep reddish tan, not the pasty white of most of our long-term patients, and his eyes conveyed things that no first session speech therapy could have drawn out: intelligence and caution mixed with undisguised curiosity.

Moving slowly and deliberately, I walked to the bare mattress between us. There was no table, so we’d have to start the flashcards on the bed. He watched my progress, studying my hair. The short, pixie-cut combined with its dyed color grabbed a lot of patients’ attention. One of the men in ward two, a lifer named Big George with a traumatic brain injury, even liked to touch the ends of it that swished in front of my ears. I made sure he stuck to the left side so he didn’t get distracted by the tiny silver hoop earrings along my right ear. Lucas noticed those, too. I watched him catalog every part of me, absorbing the appearance of this outsider to his room, like someone would analyze a newly discovered insect. His gaze paused on the blue fabric bag I carried, his expression unreadable now.

I put a hand on my chest and waited until his attention snapped back to my face.

‘I’m Maya.’ Three syllables. Slow rate, distinct pronunciation. I didn’t smile. I’d never trusted strangers who smiled at me – they always wanted something.   Patting the place where my pulse beat too fast, I nodded and said it again. ‘Maya.’

He swiveled back toward the wall, dismissing the insect. I glanced behind me where Stan was shaking his head through the lead glass. Shrugging, I started to pull out the flashcards when suddenly Stan’s face changed. His eyes widened and his mouth opened in a warning I couldn’t hear.

I hesitated and before I could turn around, a giant force threw me into the wall and something was being looped around my neck. The metal door shrieked as Stan wrenched it open and I was pulled back, my body turned into a human shield. The thing around my neck tightened and I panicked, unable to breathe. Lucas had my arms locked behind me in an impossibly strong grip. I fought against it, desperate to free myself.

‘Keys,’ he said in a hoarse voice. I bowed my body against his, trying to find some slack in the cord around my throat, but met only a column of unyielding muscle. If anything, the cord grew tighter.

My vision started to contract, black creeping in at the edges. I kicked viciously, striking his shins so hard they should have snapped in half, and used the rest of my oxygen in the process. The last thing I saw before everything went dark was Stan’s hand, holding out his ring of keys.

Doesn’t that sound good?!  I’m really looking forward to reading Leave No Trace.

Leave No Trace by Mindy Mejia was published in the UK by Quercus Books on 4th September 2018 and is available in hardcover, paperback, eBook and audio formats (please note, some of the following links are affiliate links which means I receive a small percentage of the purchase price at no extra cost to you): | amazon.co.uk | amazon.com | Waterstones | BookDepository | Goodreads |

Leave No Trace blog tour poster updated (1).jpg

about-the-author3

mindy mejia.jpgMy name is Mindy Mejia and I’m a writer. I write because, ever since I was six years old, my favorite game has been pretend. My life doesn’t have symmetry, theme, symbolism, or meditated beauty and I gravitate toward these things like a houseplant to the sun. I love the perfect words; I love how “fierce” and “confounded” and “swagger” look on the page and how my chest expands when I read them. I write because I believe in the reality of my fantasies, the truth in my fabrications. I’ve always had stories sneaking around my head, thrillers like THE DRAGON KEEPER and EVERYTHING YOU WANT ME TO BE, and sometimes I inhabit those stories more than my own life. (Best not to mention that last part to my husband, kids, or boss.)

Author Links: Website | Twitter | Facebook |

#BlogTour | #Extract: Dark Waters by Mary-Jane Riley (@mrsmjriley) @KillerReads #DarkWaters #AlexDevlin

Cover Dark Waters.jpg“Secrets lie beneath the surface…

Two men, seemingly unconnected, are discovered dead in a holiday boat on the Norfolk Broads, having apparently committed suicide together.

Local journalist Alex Devlin, planning an article on the dangers of internet suicide forums, starts digging into their backgrounds.

But Alex’s investigation soon leads her to a much darker mystery – one that will hit closer to home than she could possibly have imagined, and place the lives of those she loves in terrible danger.”

It is my great pleasure to welcome you to the blog today and to my stop on the Dark Waters blog tour.  Dark Waters is the third book in the Alex Devlin series written by Mary-Jane Riley and published by Killer Reads.  I am absolutely gutted that I haven’t managed to get around to reading this series yet but, thanks to my iron-will (ha!) I have a bit of a blog tour break coming up soon so plan to make a start on The Bad Things (book one in the series) then.

I was fortunate enough to feature a guest post from Mary-Jane Riley back in 2016 as part of my #damppebblestakeover series.  Mary-Jane explains in her brilliant post how the nugget of an idea grows into a book (plus she declares a love of stationery *swoon*).  I wonder, Mary-Jane, have you looked into The Snowflake Method yet?

Anyway, I’m wittering.  To celebrate the release of Dark Waters in eBook I have a STONKING extract to share with you today.  So sit back, move your breakfast/lunch/dinner plate to one side (you’ll thank me!) and enjoy…

The Norfolk Broads – a haven of peace and tranquility simply waiting to be discovered and explored. And a boating holiday on the Broads opens up a world of beauty, cruising through reed marshes, woodland and meadow. Find hidden waterways teeming with wildlife. Moor close to welcoming riverside pubs, quaint villages, and market towns. Choose a Harper’s Holidays cruiser and start unwinding today!

Three Weeks Earlier

Decomposition sets in.

First, both hearts stop beating and the cells and tissues are starved of oxygen. The brain cells are the first to die – all that ‘being’ ended.

Blood drains from the capillaries, pooling in lower-lying parts of the body, staining the skin black. Rigor mortis has been and gone by now, the muscles becoming stiff three hours after death, but within seventy-two hours rigor mortis has subsided. The bodies are cool. They are pliable again.

As the cells die, bacteria begin to break them down. Enzymes in the pancreas cause each organ in each of the bodies to digest itself. Large blisters appear all over the bodies. Green slime oozes from decomposing tissue, and methane and hydrogen sulphide fill the air. Bloody froth trickles from the mouths and noses.

And all this time the insects are enjoying themselves. One fly can lay three hundred eggs on one corpse, and they will hatch within twenty-four hours. The hatching maggots use hooks in their mouths to scoop up any liquid seeping from the bodies. They are efficient, these maggots. Their breathing mechanism is located on the opposite end to their mouths so they can breathe and eat at the same time.

Within a day the maggots reach the second stage of their lives and burrow into the putrefying flesh.

The pleasure cruiser has been tied to the wooden mooring post on Poppy Island for at least three days. There has been no movement. The curtains are drawn. The doors and windows are closed. Somebody will find them soon.

Wowsers, what a brilliant extract!  I hope that’s piqued your interest.  The eBook is available to download now with the paperback to follow towards the end of May so make sure you grab a copy!

Dark Waters by Mary-Jane Riley was published in the UK by Killer Reads | Harper Collins UK on 16th March 2018 and is available in eBook format (please note, the following Amazon and Waterstones links are affiliate links): | amazon.co.uk | amazon.com | Waterstones | Goodreads |

about the author3

mary-jane riley (1).jpgMary-Jane wrote her first story on her newly acquired blue Petite typewriter. She was eight. It was about a gang of children who had adventures on mysterious islands, but she soon realised Enid Blyton had cornered that particular market. So she wrote about the Wild West instead. When she grew up she had to earn a living, and became a BBC radio talk show presenter and journalist. She has covered many life-affirming stories, but also some of the darkest events of the past two decades. Mary-Jane has three grown-up children and lives in Suffolk with her husband and two golden retrievers.

DARK WATERS is her third crime thriller featuring investigative journalist, Alex Devlin.

Author Links:Facebook | Twitter | Instagram |

#Extract: Good Friday by Lynda La Plante (@LaPlanteLynda) @BonnierZaffre @ed_pr #JaneTennison

good friday

“Every legend has a beginning . . .

During 1974 and 1975 the IRA subjected London to a terrifying bombing campaign. In one day alone, they planted seven bombs at locations across central London. Some were defused – some were not.

Jane Tennison is now a fully-fledged detective. On the way to court one morning, Jane passes through Covent Garden Underground station and is caught up in a bomb blast

that leaves several people dead, and many horribly injured. Jane is a key witness, but is adamant that she can’t identify the bomber. When a photograph appears in the newspapers, showing Jane assisting the injured at the scene, it puts her and her family at risk from IRA retaliation.

‘Good Friday’ is the eagerly awaited date of the annual formal CID dinner, due to take place at St Ermin’s Hotel. Hundreds of detectives and their wives will be there. It’s the perfect target. As Jane arrives for the evening, she realises that she recognises the parking attendant as the bomber from Covent Garden. Can she convince her senior officers in time, or will another bomb destroy London’s entire detective force?”

‘La Plante excels in her ability to pick out the surprising but plausible details that give her portrayal of everyday life in a police station a rare ring of authenticity’ Sunday Telegraph

It is my great pleasure to welcome you to damppebbles today and boy, do I have a treat in store for you! Back when the weather was warmer (only a smidge, mind you) in August I was part of the blog tour for Good Friday, the third book in the Tennison series written by the Queen of Crime Drama, Lynda La Plante. That was to celebrate Good Friday‘s release in hardback, eBook and audio. Tomorrow marks the book’s publication in paperback – the perfect excuse to reshare the stonking extract I featured in August.

So without further ado, brace yourself…

Jane took the Circle line from Baker Street and changed at King’s Cross St Pancras to take the Piccadilly line to Covent Garden. From there it was just a short walk to the Bow Street station. It was eight thirty when Jane arrived at Covent Garden station, right at the peak of the early morning rush hour. There were groans from the other passengers when they saw that the lift wasn’t working, but Jane didn’t mind as she wasn’t in any great hurry. She followed the throng of people walking up the 193 steps of the spiral staircase, trying her best not to bump into the people heading down the stairs in the opposite direction. Behind her was a woman with a pushchair and a baby in her arms.
‘Can I help you?’ Jane asked.
‘Oh, yes please, thank you, love. These lifts here are always out of order.’
Jane carried the pushchair, and as there were so many people up ahead of her, they moved very slowly. On reaching the top stair she unfolded the pushchair so the woman could put her baby in the seat. Jane paused at the ticket barriers to search her handbag for her warrant card. The area surrounding the faulty lift was heaving with people moving in both directions, and a guard was on duty checking and taking tickets. Behind Jane were queues of passengers waiting impatiently to show their tickets so they could leave the station, and she found herself being pushed forward.
The guard shouted, ‘Please do NOT push! We apologise for the lifts being out of order and ask for your patience. Please proceed in an orderly manner through the ticket barriers!’
Jane made her way through the ticket barrier and out into the packed foyer.
‘Excuse me, sir, you forgot your bag.’
Jane turned to see an elderly woman pointing to a rucksack that had been left on the floor next to the ticket box.
‘Hey, you left your bag!’ the woman repeated. Jane followed her gaze and caught sight of a man wearing a hooded winter coat, walking away with his head down. Instead of turning to acknowledge the old lady he pushed people out of his way as he hurried
towards the Long Lane exit.
‘I just saw him put it down!’ the woman said loudly. Jane hesitated. Was it just a mistake, and the man had simply not heard the woman calling out to him? She hurried after him, in the hope of stopping him and reuniting him with his bag.
‘Excuse me, sir! I’m a police officer and . . .’
The man kept on moving quickly through the throng of people and Jane picked up her pace as she called out for him to stop. Just as he reached the exit, Jane managed to grab hold of his sleeve. He half turned towards her and she had a momentary glimpse of his
profile, but he twisted out of her grasp, batting her away. He pushed people aside as he ran out of the station. Jane stumbled backwards, and then turned to look for the abandoned rucksack. She could feel the panic rising as she realised it had gone, but then calmed down as she reassured herself that the old lady must have been mistaken and the real owner had picked it up. Jane turned around in a circle, searching for anyone carrying the rucksack. Then she saw the ticket barrier guard holding it against his chest, heading towards the guards’ office. She immediately sensed that something was very wrong. For a second she was paralysed with fear, but then she started pushing people aside and screamed at the guard to put the rucksack down, shouting for everyone to evacuate the area. Some people began to run. But it was too late.

I don’t know about you but I need a lie-down now and some calm, soothing music after that extract! WOAH!

Good Friday by Lynda La Plante was published in the UK by Bonnier Zaffre on 22nd March 2018 and is available in hardcover, paperback, eBook and audio formats (please note, the following Amazon and Waterstones links are affiliate links): | amazon.co.uk | amazon.com | Waterstones | Goodreads |

about the author3

Lynda la Plante

Lynda La Plante was born in Liverpool. She trained for the stage at RADA and worked with the National Theatre and RDC before becoming a television actress. She then turned to writing – and made her breakthrough with the phenomenally successful TV series WIDOWS.

Her novels have all been international bestsellers. Her original script for the much-acclaimed PRIME SUSPECT won awards from BAFTA, Emmys, British Broadcasting and Royal Television Society as well as the 1993 Edgar Allan Poe Writer’s Award.

Since 1993 Lynda has spearheaded La Plante Productions. In that time the company has produced a stunning slate of innovative dramas with proven success and enduring international appeal.

Based on Lynda’s best selling series of Anna Travis novels, Above Suspicion, Silent Scream, Deadly Intent and Silent Scream have all adapted into TV scripts and received impressive viewing figures.

Lynda has been made honorary fellow of the British Film Institute and was awarded the BAFTA Dennis Potter Writer’s Award 2000.

On 14th June 2008 Lynda was awarded a CBE in the Queen’s Birthday Honours List (Writer and Producer for services to Literature, Drama and to Charity).

On 3rd October 2009, Lynda was honoured at the Cologne Conference International Film and Television Festival with the prestigious TV Spielfilm Award for her television adaptation of her novel, Above Suspicion.

Books penned by Lynda La Plante include: The Legacy, The Talisman, Bella Mafia, Entwined, Cold Shoulder, Cold Blood, Cold Heart, Sleeping Cruelty, Royal Flush, Above Suspicion, The Red Dahlia, Clean Cut, Deadly Intent and Silent Scream, Blind Fury (this entered the UK Sunday Times Bestsellers List at number 1 having sold 9,500 copies in its first two weeks), Blood Line, Backlash, Wrongful Death, and Twisted, which have all been international best-sellers.

Author Links: | Website | Twitter | Facebook |

#BlogBlitz | #Extract: The Babysitter by Sheryl Browne (@SherylBrowne) @bookouture #TheBabysitter

the babysitter cover.jpg

“You trust her with your family. Would you trust her with your life?

Mark and Melissa Cain are thrilled to have found Jade, a babysitter who is brilliant with their young children. Having seen her own house burn to the ground, Jade needs them as much as they need her. Moving Jade into the family home can only be a good thing, can’t it?

As Mark works long hours as a police officer and Melissa struggles with running a business, the family become ever more reliant on their babysitter, who is only too happy to help. And as Melissa begins to slip into depression, it’s Jade who is left picking up the pieces.

But Mark soon notices things aren’t quite as they seem. Things at home feel wrong, and as Mark begins to investigate their seemingly perfect sitter, what he discovers shocks him to his core. He’s met Jade before. And now he suspects he might know what she wants …

Mark is in a race against time to protect his family. But what will he find as he goes back to his family home?

If you loved reading The Girl on the Train, Behind Closed Doors and The Sister, you’ll love the suspense of The Babysitter. This unputdownable read will have you turning the pages until way after dark.”

I am delighted to welcome you to the blog today and to my stop on The Babysitter blog blitz, which I share with a plethora of fabulous bloggers so make sure you check them all out. The Babysitter is written by the very lovely Sheryl Browne and is published by Bookouture today! Happy publication day 🎉.

As part of the blog blitz festivities, I have a gripping extract from the book to share with you today. I don’t want to keep you waiting so without further ado…

PROLOGUE
EIGHT YEARS AGO

Oblivious to the slimy, wet mud oozing between her toes, Grace took a faltering step backwards, away from the house. Her huge cognac-coloured eyes illuminated by the light of the fire, she watched, mesmerised and helpless, as the flames licked hungrily at her parents’ bedroom curtains. She’d tried to tell them what happened to Ellie wasn’t her fault.

Constantly around her ankles, while their mum and husband number three had partied, her younger sister Ellie had been watching as she and her friends lit up their sparklers and drew their names against the dark blue ink of the sky. Ellie had wanted to do it, too. Later, Grace had promised her; anything to placate her and stop her ‘telling Mummy’ she’d been smoking, which would only add to Grace’s list of sins.

Ellie hadn’t forgotten. Still awake when Grace had crept up to bed, her sister had whinged until, urging her to be quiet, Grace had given in and tiptoed back downstairs to fetch a packet of leftover sparklers from the box in the kitchen.

Her eyes like big brown orbs, Ellie had watched in awe as Grace struck the match and lit the sparkler, igniting a thousand crackling slivers of light in their bedroom. She’d squealed like the foxes that scream in the night when her flesh had singed, despite how hard Grace tried to shush her. Grace hadn’t wanted to hurt her sister. But she knew nobody would believe her. They never did.

Grace took another step back, her heart skipping a beat as a figure appeared at the window, flames lashing at his flesh like hot vipers’ tongues. It wasn’t her fault. She’d tried to tell them. She’d told Ellie to hold the firework at arm’s length. They hadn’t been listening. Her mum’s eyes had been as wild as the fire. She’d still been wearing her lipstick, blood red, like an angry red slash for a mouth, as she’d cursed and spat, ‘You stupid creature. Look what you’ve done. Look what you’ve done!’

She’d been holding Ellie in her arms, clutching her plump little hand in her own and pointing it out towards Grace like an accusation. Ellie’s fingers had been blistered, her thigh, too, where the sparkler had landed.

Her stepdad had started after her as her mum swept past Grace to take Ellie to accident and emergency. ‘I’ll drive you,’ he’d offered, but he hadn’t wanted to. Grace could tell by the way his gaze drifted lewdly towards her that he hadn’t wanted to.

‘Don’t be ridiculous!’ her mum had snapped angrily. ‘You’ve drunk your own body weight in beer. Just… deal with her,’ she’d added, causing ice-cold dread to pool in the pit of Grace’s stomach. She hadn’t wanted to be alone with him, to watch him draw the blinds and turn from the window, that liquid, faraway look in his eyes as he unfastened his waistband.

Hearing the wail of the sirens growing closer, Grace tore her gaze from the window. Panic twisting her stomach and thick, choking smoke gripping her throat, she backed towards the denser foliage at the bottom of the garden.

Doesn’t that grab your attention?! It certainly made me sit up and take note. Watch out for a review of The Babysitter coming soon to damppebbles.

The Babysitter by Sheryl Browne was published in the UK by Bookouture on 8th March 2018 and is available in paperback and eBook formats (please note, the following Amazon links are affiliate links): | amazon.co.uk | amazon.com | Goodreads |

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about the author3

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Sheryl Browne brings you powerful psychological thriller and contemporary fiction. SheryI’s latest psychological thriller THE BABYSITTER – the first of a three-book deal – comes to you from fabulous BOOKOUTURE. A member of the Crime Writers’ Association and the Romantic Novelists’ Association, and previously writing for award winning Choc Lit, Sheryl has several books published and two short stories in Birmingham City University anthologies, where she completed her MA in Creative Writing.

So why does Sheryl write in two genres? Quoting E. L. Doctorow, Sheryl says: “Writing a novel is like driving a car at night. You can only see as far as your headlights…” This she thinks sums up a writer’s journey, you never quite know where you are going until you get there. You might start with an outline, but a strong character will always divert from the plot. If Sheryl’s not sure where a character is going, she simply has to trust him to show her the way. Plus, according to one reviewer, she also has a scary insight into the mind of a psychopath.

Author Links: | Website | Facebook | Twitter |

#BlogTour: We Have Lost The Chihuahuas by @QuiteFunnyGuy @WeHaveLostBooks | @emmamitchellfpr

WHLTChihuahuas_cover_small (2).jpg“London, 2046. The British Republic has a new First Lady. She’s Californian, ‘in-your-face, for sure’ and she’s got big plans for a Buckingham Palace refurb. When her three Chihuahuas go missing, one man is determined to avoid getting dragged into it all. His name is Pond. Howie Pond – presidential spokesperson, retired secret agent and cat lover.

Meanwhile, Howie’s wife Britt is handed her first assignment as a National Security and Intelligence Service rookie – to solve the mystery of the missing canine trio.

Will Howie manage to slope off to the pub before he can be roped into help? Will Britt unmask the dognapper and grab the glory? Find out, in the latest, crazy comedy-thriller from dog-loving British author Paul Mathews.”

I am delighted to be kicking off the We Have Lost the Chihuahuas blog tour alongside the fabulous Rae Reads and Bits About Books.  We Have Lost the Chihuahuas is book four in author Paul Mathew’s comedy thriller series ‘We Have Lost..’ and is published on 28th November 2017.

Today, I have an extract from the book to whet your appetite. So without further ado, grab a cuppa and have a read…

When it came to household pets, Howie had always been more of a cat-type of guy than a dog lover. And, as he stood shivering in the cold January air of London’s St James’ Park, watching a Chihuahua sinking his teeth into his chief press officer’s right ankle, he was pretty sure his views on the subject wouldn’t be changing any time soon.

‘Argh! Get off me, you four-legged eejit!’ screamed Conor O’Brean, yanking the dog’s lead so hard, it lifted off the ground and flew a metre in the air before rejoining terra firma.

Rather than risk his own ankles, Howie decided to beat a strategic retreat in the way that battlefield generals often did when things weren’t quite going to plan. He had full confidence in the Irishman under his command. Howie would allow Conor to regain control of the situation without a superior officer such as himself – who had no experience of hand-to-hand Chihuahua combat – getting in the way of the human-canine skirmish.

Once Howie was safely out of the line of fire, he noticed the other two dogs had also retreated. This clearly wasn’t the first time they’d seen their pack mate in full battle-mode.

‘Behave yourself, Donnie!’ yelled Conor, as he started to become entangled in the dogs’ leads.

The angry animal snarled with a ferocity that sent every bird within a fifty-metre radius fleeing for the treetops.

Conor upped the volume. ‘I mean it! Stop this nonsense or I’ll tell your mammy you’ve been a bad boy.’

Donnie stopped snarling and cocked an ear, as if daring Conor to repeat the threat.

‘I’m serious! I’ll tell your mammy and your pappy, too. And he’s the president, remember. You don’t want to get the wrong side of him, do you now? Or he’ll have you sent back to America.’

Donnie lowered his head slowly, flopped his tail between his legs in apparent surrender, and slunk up to Conor.

‘There’s a good little fella.’ Conor glanced at Howie. ‘I knew a bit of old-fashioned Irish diplomacy would make him see sense.’

Howie noticed the other two Chihuahuas were still keeping their distance, so he followed their example.

Conor reached down and patted the defeated dog on the head. ‘Peace has been restored to the fair land of Westminster. Hostilities have officially ceased. The battle of St James’ Park has been fought – and won – and shall never be forgotten by those who risked their lives so that three dogs could stretch their legs and empty their tanks.’

Howie made a mock salute. ‘We will never forget your sacrifice, Private O’Brean. I’ll be recommending you for a President’s gallantry award.’

Conor stared into Donnie’s chocolate-brown eyes. ‘We, who were once enemies … are now brothers in arms.’

Without warning, Donnie launched a counter attack and bit Conor’s right thumb, making him scream so loudly Howie had to pretend for half a minute they didn’t know each other.

The angry mutt then charged towards Conor’s left ankle. But the Irishman managed to block the advance with the sole of his boot. Amid all the conflict, the other two Chihuahuas sat shivering on the edge of the path watching their canine comrade – possibly also trying to pretend they didn’t know him.

‘Donnie, sit!’ shouted Howie from the safety of the grass verge – which was now doubling as an impromptu war room.

The dog froze – as if stunned that another human would be stupid enough to enter the fray. Once it got over the shock, it locked a wide-eyed stare onto Howie and raised its top lip to display an impressive arsenal of jagged yellow teeth. This dog was clearly a combat veteran.

We Have Lost the Chihuahuas by Paul Mathews will be published in the UK on Tuesday 28th November 2017 and will be available in eBook format.  If you would like to pre-order this fun-filled furry caper then please click HERE (amazon.co.uk link).

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about the author3

41lkaQvyNGL._SY200_.jpgPaul Mathews is a quite funny British guy who’s managed to escape his day job and is currently on the run as a comedy novelist. His sharp, satirical – often surreal – sense of humour draws on 20 years as a British Government press officer, during which time he encountered politicians, senior civil servants, HR managers, and lots of other people who really sucked at their jobs.

His popular ‘We Have Lost’ comedy-thriller series set in 2040s London, starring beleaguered presidential spokesman and wannabe secret agent Howie Pond, currently comprises four titles with more on the way. Paul has read all the books at least ten times and highly recommends them.

Make him happy by signing up for his ‘Very Funny Newsletter’ here: www.quitefunnyguy.com/newsletter. If you don’t want to sign up for it, stay calm and do nothing.

Paul also owns a cat, Lulu, who works as his assistant. All fan mail to her, please.

Author Links:Twitter |Facebook | Website |

#BlogTour | #Extract: Scorn by Paul Hoffman (@PaulGHoff) #RedOpera @ed_pr

SCORN_FINAL.jpeg“After an experiment at the Large Hadron Collider goes horribly wrong, depressed scientist Aaron Gall wakes up to discover his mind and body have undergone an astonishing transformation. Now bursting with the joys of life, he is inspired to undertake a radical new therapy: to talk to the priests who brutalised him and his school friends, point out the intellectual dishonesty and inhumanity of their religious beliefs – and then eat them.

Aaron enjoys the process so much (as well as taunting the police and MI5) he decides to extend his murderous conversations to include the Archbishop of Westminster, recently converted Catholic Tony Blair, the Queen of England – and, finally, the Pope himself. But a Catholic Church that has given the world the Crusades, the Inquisition, and Papal Infallibility hasn’t survived for two thousand years without a reason. Aaron is in for the greatest shock in the history of mankind.”

I am delighted to welcome you to damppebbles today as it’s my turn and sadly the last stop, on the Scorn blog tour.  Scorn is written by author Paul Hoffman and was published by Red Opera on 7th September 2017.

To celebrate the release of this dark yet rather fun sounding novel I have an extract to share with you.  So sit back, relax and take a read…

CHAPTER  CONFESSION

It was one o’clock in the morning and Father Thomas Lloyd was eating sardines on toast in the vast and gloomy kitchen of the rectory of St Edmunds Church in Abingdon, a place not a hundred yards from the Victorian building in which Aaron had received the worst beating of his life from Mother Mary Frances and a mere thirty yards from where the sadistic old bitch was buried. Burial in the otherwise full cemetery was a privilege accorded only to people with a special reputation for holiness.

As he was about to begin his meal, one which he realised at some guilty deep level he was not as thankful for as he ought to have been, there was a hard rap at the door. Although it was unusual for there to be such a late caller, it was not unknown for someone to fetch him to a deathbed or a tormented soul to come looking for the peace of mind only God could grant. Still, he was no fool and was wary. He walked out of the cavernous kitchen and switched on the light in the barely less sepulchral cavern of the hall.

“Who is it?” he called out, ill at ease.

“Is that you, Father Lloyd?”

Who else would it be in the rectory of the church at this time of night?” was what he wanted to say. Immediately he accused himself of the sin of the lack of charity. “Yes. Yes it is.” To make amends he opened the door immediately. The man on the stoop was not an alarming sight – five nine perhaps, and thin.

“Come in out of the rain.” He ushered the man inside and gestured him through the hall into the kitchen. The abundance of mahogany gave an unpleasant brown quality to the light. “Let me take your coat.”

Draping the man’s coat on the hat-stand, he turned to get a better look at his visitor. Many years of ministering to the soul distressed made him alert to the despairing and the desperate. His visitor did not seem to be either. The man looked at the uneaten plate of toast and sardines.

“I’m sorry. Please finish your meal.”

Father Lloyd was tempted but not for long. He would offer this sacrifice up to God, aware of course that God would realise it was not all that much of a renunciation.

“No. I’ve rather gone off the idea.” He gestured for the man to sit. “Tell me your name and what I can do for you,” he said softly.

“I’d like to make a confession.”

“I see.” A pause and a sigh. “Well, there’s no doubt you’ve come to the right place, Mr..,?”

“Gall. Aaron Gall.”

“Are you from around here, Aaron?”

“I used to be a long time ago.”

“Is that so indeed? I’ve been away and back a fair few times but I’ve spent near half my life as a priest in St Edmunds. You must have been here during my away years.”

“No,” said Aaron. “You taught me, my class, religious instruction when I was a boy.”

The priest looked worried. It didn’t look good or feel right to forget a parishioner.

“Help me. I’m an old man and my memory isn’t what it was.”

“The old primary school, just before it moved.”

“My God, that’s a fair few years.”

“I was seven or so the last time I saw you. It wouldn’t be reasonable to remember me.”

“I was only here a few months the first time, waiting to go to Birmingham.”

There was a silence – an odd one, uncomfortable for the priest. “So, what brings you out tonight?” he said at last.

“You remember Mother Mary Frances. She’s buried in the churchyard here.”

“So they told me.”

“They?”

“The Sisters of Mercy.”

Another pause.

“So. This isn’t a visit on the sudden then.”

“No.”

“What is it you want, my son?”

Aaron smiled quietly and spoke softly.

“I’m not your son, old man, and this isn’t a visit.”

Scorn by Paul Hoffman is published 7th September by Red Opera, £7.99 in paperback

So, what do you think?  The plot of this book really intrigues me and despite it being a little different to my usual reads it’s definitely going on the wish list.  I hope your interest has been piqued too!

Scorn by Paul Hoffman was published in the UK by Red Opera on 7th September 2017 and is available in paperback and eBook formats | amazon.co.uk | amazon.com | Waterstones | Goodreads |

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about the author3

Paul Hoffman is a bestselling author whose work has been translated into thirty languages. He spent his early working life as a Boardman in a betting shop, a teacher in a girl’s school, and a film censor with special responsibility for pornography, before becoming a screenwriter and novelist. Paul Hoffman’s first novel, The Wisdom of Crocodiles, predicted the attacks of 9/11 and set out in detail how and why the financial system would crash early in the new millennium. His second novel, The Golden Age of Censorship, is a black comedy satirising both the world of the film censor and the visionary megalomania of New Labour.

He came to international recognition with The Left Hand of God trilogy – a sly attempt to write about war and politics in a way that stole from both contemporary and historical worlds in a way that caused heated debate on the way to becoming a top ten Sunday Times Bestseller.

His new novel, Scorn, is his most controversial yet. Drawing from his own experiences in a hideous Catholic boarding school in Oxford, Hoffman has fashioned a contemporary black comedy that truly defies any attempt at classification – comic, tragic, a love story; with songs, illustrations, two highly unusual policemen known as The Butchers of Basra, a central character unlike any other, as well as cameos from Tony Blair, the Queen, and the a final confrontation with  the Holy Father himself resulting in the most astonishing twist in the history of fiction.

Probably the last English novelist to be born by the light of a paraffin lamp, Paul Hoffman spent much of his childhood on airfields all around the world watching his father – a pioneer of sports parachuting – jumping out of aeroplanes. He witnessed his first death at the age of six when one of his father’s friends was killed in an attempt to discover how near the ground he could open his parachute. After a long and brutal battle with the nuns and priest who were charged with saving his soul and which left him at sixteen without any formal qualifications he was offered a place to read English at New College, Oxford when no other university would interview him. He is probably the only Oxford graduate in history to have failed all his O-Levels. On his first night at New College a fellow undergraduate was heard to comment: ‘My God – the kind of people we’re letting in these days’.

The Wisdom of Crocodiles took thirteen years to write and went into its third imprint within six weeks of publication. Jude Law starred in the motion picture of the same name based on one part of the novel.

Scorn is his sixth novel. His next book, The White Devil, will be published by Penguin in 2018

Author Links: | Website | Twitter |

#BlogTour | #Extract: Good Friday by Lynda La Plante (@LaPlanteLynda) @BonnierZaffre @ed_pr

good friday.jpg“Every legend has a beginning . . . 

During 1974 and 1975 the IRA subjected London to a terrifying bombing campaign. In one day alone, they planted seven bombs at locations across central London. Some were defused – some were not. 

Jane Tennison is now a fully-fledged detective. On the way to court one morning, Jane passes through Covent Garden Underground station and is caught up in a bomb blast that leaves several people dead, and many horribly injured. Jane is a key witness, but is adamant that she can’t identify the bomber. When a photograph appears in the newspapers, showing Jane assisting the injured at the scene, it puts her and her family at risk from IRA retaliation. 

‘Good Friday’ is the eagerly awaited date of the annual formal CID dinner, due to take place at St Ermin’s Hotel. Hundreds of detectives and their wives will be there. It’s the perfect target. As Jane arrives for the evening, she realises that she recognises the parking attendant as the bomber from Covent Garden. Can she convince her senior officers in time, or will another bomb destroy London’s entire detective force?”

I am thrilled to welcome you to damppebbles today as it’s my stop on the Good Friday blog tour.  Good Friday is the third book in the Tennison series written by the Queen of Crime Drama, Lynda La Plante and was published by Bonnier Zaffre on 24th August 2017.  The Tennison series focusses on the early career of the incredibly popular television character, Jane Tennison and is a must read for fans of the acclaimed drama.

To celebrate the release of this third book in the series, I have an extract to share with you.  So make yourself a cuppa, sit back and put your feet up…

Jane took the Circle line from Baker Street and changed at King’s Cross St Pancras to take the Piccadilly line to Covent Garden. From there it was just a short walk to the Bow Street station.  It was eight thirty when Jane arrived at Covent Garden station, right at the peak of the early morning rush hour. There were groans from the other passengers when they saw that the lift wasn’t working, but Jane didn’t mind as she wasn’t in any great hurry. She followed the throng of people walking up the 193 steps of the spiral staircase, trying her best not to bump into the people heading down the stairs in the opposite direction. Behind her was a woman with a pushchair and a baby in her arms.
‘Can I help you?’ Jane asked.
‘Oh, yes please, thank you, love. These lifts here are always out of order.’
Jane carried the pushchair, and as there were so many people up ahead of her, they moved very slowly. On reaching the top stair she unfolded the pushchair so the woman could put her baby in the seat. Jane paused at the ticket barriers to search her handbag for her warrant card. The area surrounding the faulty lift was heaving with people moving in both directions, and a guard was on duty checking and taking tickets. Behind Jane were queues of passengers waiting impatiently to show their tickets so they could leave the station, and she found herself being pushed forward.
The guard shouted, ‘Please do NOT push! We apologise for the lifts being out of order and ask for your patience. Please proceed in an orderly manner through the ticket barriers!’
Jane made her way through the ticket barrier and out into the packed foyer.
‘Excuse me, sir, you forgot your bag.’
Jane turned to see an elderly woman pointing to a rucksack that had been left on the floor next to the ticket box.
‘Hey, you left your bag!’ the woman repeated. Jane followed her gaze and caught sight of a man wearing a hooded winter coat, walking away with his head down. Instead of turning to acknowledge the old lady he pushed people out of his way as he hurried
towards the Long Lane exit.
‘I just saw him put it down!’ the woman said loudly. Jane hesitated. Was it just a mistake, and the man had simply not heard the woman calling out to him? She hurried after him, in the hope of stopping him and reuniting him with his bag.
‘Excuse me, sir! I’m a police officer and . . .’
The man kept on moving quickly through the throng of people and Jane picked up her pace as she called out for him to stop. Just as he reached the exit, Jane managed to grab hold of his sleeve. He half turned towards her and she had a momentary glimpse of his
profile, but he twisted out of her grasp, batting her away. He pushed people aside as he ran out of the station. Jane stumbled backwards, and then turned to look for the abandoned rucksack. She could feel the panic rising as she realised it had gone, but then calmed down as she reassured herself that the old lady must have been mistaken and the real owner had picked it up. Jane turned around in a circle, searching for anyone carrying the rucksack. Then she saw the ticket barrier guard holding it against his chest, heading towards the guards’ office. She immediately sensed that something was very wrong. For a second she was paralysed with fear, but then she started pushing people aside and screamed at the guard to put the rucksack down, shouting for everyone to evacuate the area. Some people began to run. But it was too late.

Good Friday by Lynda La Plante is out now, published by Bonnier Zaffre in hardback. RRP £18.99.

Oh-my-flipping-goodness!  I don’t know about you but my heart is pounding.  How good was that?  I NEED to read more so will be making a start on my copy sooner rather than later.  I hope the extract has piqued your interest too.  WOW!

Good Friday by Lynda La Plante was published in the UK by Bonnier Zaffre on 24th August 2017 and is available in hardcover, eBook and audio formats with the paperback due for release in 2018 | amazon.co.uk | amazon.com | Waterstones | Goodreads |

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about the author3

Lynda la Plante.jpgLynda La Plante was born in Liverpool. She trained for the stage at RADA and worked with the National Theatre and RDC before becoming a television actress. She then turned to writing – and made her breakthrough with the phenomenally successful TV series WIDOWS.

Her novels have all been international bestsellers. Her original script for the much-acclaimed PRIME SUSPECT won awards from BAFTA, Emmys, British Broadcasting and Royal Television Society as well as the 1993 Edgar Allan Poe Writer’s Award.

Since 1993 Lynda has spearheaded La Plante Productions. In that time the company has produced a stunning slate of innovative dramas with proven success and enduring international appeal.

Based on Lynda’s best selling series of Anna Travis novels, Above Suspicion, Silent Scream, Deadly Intent and Silent Scream have all adapted into TV scripts and received impressive viewing figures.

Lynda has been made honorary fellow of the British Film Institute and was awarded the BAFTA Dennis Potter Writer’s Award 2000.

On 14th June 2008 Lynda was awarded a CBE in the Queen’s Birthday Honours List (Writer and Producer for services to Literature, Drama and to Charity).

On 3rd October 2009, Lynda was honoured at the Cologne Conference International Film and Television Festival with the prestigious TV Spielfilm Award for her television adaptation of her novel, Above Suspicion.

Books penned by Lynda La Plante include: The Legacy, The Talisman, Bella Mafia, Entwined, Cold Shoulder, Cold Blood, Cold Heart, Sleeping Cruelty, Royal Flush, Above Suspicion, The Red Dahlia, Clean Cut, Deadly Intent and Silent Scream, Blind Fury (this entered the UK Sunday Times Bestsellers List at number 1 having sold 9,500 copies in its first two weeks), Blood Line, Backlash, Wrongful Death, and Twisted, which have all been international best-sellers.

Author Links: | Website | Twitter | Facebook |

#BlogTour | #Extract: Witch Dust by @marilyn_messik | @matadorbooks | @TAsTPublicity

Witch Dust. High Res. Front Cover.jpg“A red gash of a mouth rimmed with impossibly tiny, razor-sharp teeth yawned wide, then swift as a snake, she bent and struck . . . “

“For Sandra, daughter of illusionists, Adam and Ophelia, life’s never been run of the mill. But when Adam’s wandering eye lights on yet another conquest, it proves a chorus girl too far, and Sandra’s caught in the reverberations of her parents acrimonious parting. Coerced into restoring her depressed Mother to the bosom of a family Sandra never knew existed, she’s sucked into a situation that even for her is unnerving.

From being without a single relative, she suddenly acquires several she’d rather do without, and learns a few home truths she’d prefer not to know. Ophelia it appears, has not been entirely honest about any number of things. There’s no doubt in Sandra’s mind, the sooner she puts as much distance as possible between herself, her newly discovered nearest and dearest, their peculiar tendencies and their failing hotel business, the very much happier she’s going to be.

Dire straits call for desperate measures and Sandra reluctantly rises to the occasion. A hanged housemaid, a fly-on-the-wall documentary, The Psychic Society and a quasi co-operative journalist all handled correctly should, she reckons, get the family business up and running, which will allow her to do the same – as fast as she can, and in the opposite direction. Things unfortunately move swiftly from bad to farce and then get a hell of a lot darker. One moment Sandra’s struggling to save the family’s income, the next, she’s battling to save their lives.

Turns out, some darknesses, once buried, are best left undisturbed.”

I am delighted to welcome you to my stop on the Witch Dust blog tour which I share with the lovely Juliet over at Bookliterati.  Witch Dust is written by Marilyn Messik and was published on 28th August 2017 by Matador Books.

In order to celebrate the release of this brilliant new paranormal thriller, I have an extract to share with you today.  So without further ado…

You’d probably recognize my Mother if you saw her, my Father too – Adam Adamovitch and the lovely Ophelia. You might have been to one of their stage shows, more likely you’ll have seen them on television – they did a Christmas Special for years; or perhaps you caught them, not that long ago on Graham Norton. Most people have simply got used to seeing them gazing adoringly at each other in innumerable red-carpet press shots – a premiere here, a society bash there or simply champagning it on the slopes of Gstaad. Adam and Ophie, or as the media love to label them, Mr and Mrs Magic. Purveyors of illusion; delusion; sparkling eyes; flashing teeth; little-left-to-the-imagination costumes and death defying stunts. Sword; flame; guillotine; water-tank; all thrillingly enhanced with their trademark sizzling chemistry although naturally, that’s not an aspect on which a daughter likes to dwell. Not a shred of doubt though, a fair old amount of high voltage smouldering took place, both onstage and off. His tall, olive-skinned good looks charmingly offset by her petite, curved blonde ones had, over the years, put the extra into some extraordinary performances, resulting in consistent bookings, a vertical career path and egos the size of the national debt.

Me? Well no, you wouldn’t recognize me, why should you? Mind you, I believe I did do a turn or two, way back when I was small. I vaguely remember, toddler-sized, being hauled out of a hat rabbit-fashion then befrilled and becurled, tottering across the stage arms outstretched, to be scooped up by one and tossed, uncomplaining to the other. The audience loved it, clapped their hands sore, rocking with excitement that Adam and the lovely Ophelia – looking no more than a child herself – had sealed their union with a predictably gorgeous baby. But of course, a baby’s one thing, a sulky six year old, quite another. And unsurprisingly, as time passed and stomachs had to be held in ever more tightly, buttocks clenched ever more constantly and make-up applied with an increasingly lavish hand, a spottily awkward teenager was the last thing they wanted in the public eye.

No, don’t get me wrong, I’m not grumbling, I certainly wasn’t neglected, it’s just some people aren’t natural parent material, and whilst there was never any shortage of loving hugs and expensive gifts there was, it has to be said, a corresponding and disconcerting degree of absent mindedness. As a child, I was accustomed to being regularly, if inadvertently, left behind at numerous hotels, stations or airports. The Stage Manager would assume I was with the PR people, the PR people would be convinced I’d gone on with Props and my parents generally omitted to give it much thought one way or another. Whilst never thrilled by this evidence of my importance on the scale of things, I was fairly philosophical and would wait patiently, never fearing abandonment. I knew, sooner or later, someone would come rushing back in a panic to get me, and such incidents were invariably followed by Ma and Pa descending briefly into darling-we’re-such-terrible-people-you-musthate-us-what-can-we-possibly-do-to-make-it-up-to-you mode. This was generally the most tiresome part, because I then had to spend time and effort reassuring them they were the best parents anyone could ask for – which we all knew wasn’t remotely true – but it drew a line under the whole thing, until the next time.

On the whole, I suppose my relationship with my parents wasn’t so very different from the norm, although birthday parties, for which they usually insisted on providing the entertainment, were pretty excruciating. There can’t be many of us who spend our formative years hissing at our Mother, ‘For God’s sake, put some proper clothes on!’ But like most children, I did want to shine in their eyes and whilst fully anticipating, was invariably disappointed when they were unable to make school plays, sports days and prize-givings. Mind you, their rare attendance could be considered a mixed blessing. They once arrived at a Nativity play I was in – complete with film crew and sound team to record the performance. That’s not a comfortable memory. When it came to the finale Pa, channelling Spielberg, insisted on four re-takes. The whole thing turned so stressful that the English teacher came over all unnecessary, Herod got into a fight with the donkey and the Virgin Mary threw up over two of the three Wise Men. As I said, a mixed blessing.

I’m really liking the sound of this one!  In fact, I’m going to add it to the terrifying TBR for one of those moments when I want to read something a little different to my usual detective fiction fare.  I think I’d really enjoy this one.

Witch Dust by Marilyn Messik was published in the UK by Matador Books on 28th August 2017 and is available in paperback and eBook formats | amazon.co.uk | amazon.com | Waterstones | Goodreads |

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about the author3

marilyn_m_030 (1).jpgMarilyn was a regular feature and fiction writer for various national magazines when her children were small. She then set up her first business, selling toys, books and party goods from home, before opening first one shop then another. When she sold both shops she moved into the world of travel, focusing on Bed and Breakfasts and Country Inns in New England, USA. Her advisory, planning and booking service flourished and she concurrently launched a publishing company, producing an annual, full-colour accommodation guide. In 2007 she set up a copywriting consultancy, to help businesses shape their messages to optimum effect.

She’s the author of the Little Black Business Book series and the novels Relatively Strange and Even Stranger. She’s been married to her very patient husband for more years than he deserves and they have two children, five grandchildren and, somewhat to their surprise, several grand-dogs. Her writing style has been described as ‘A cross between Stephen King and Maureen Lipman.’ although, as she points out, she’s not sure either of them would be remotely thrilled to hear that!

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

 

#BlogTour | #Extract: She Be Damned by M.J. Tjia (@mjtjia) @Legend_Press #HeloiseChancey

9781785079313.jpg“London, 1863: prostitutes in the Waterloo area are turning up dead, their sexual organs mutilated and removed. When another girl goes missing, fears grow that the killer may have claimed their latest victim.

The police are at a loss and so it falls to courtesan and professional detective, Heloise Chancey, to investigate.

With the assistance of her trusty Chinese maid, Amah Li Leen, Heloise inches closer to the truth. But when Amah is implicated in the brutal plot, Heloise must reconsider who she can trust, before the killer strikes again.”

I am delighted to welcome you to my stop on the She Be Damned blog tour.  She Be Damned is the first of the Heloise Chancey Mysteries, is written by M.J. Tjia and was published by Legend Press on 1st August 2017.

To celebrate this new release I have an intriguing extract in the form of the first chapter to share with you today.  I hope you enjoy it as much as I did.

Chapter One
The bedroom door closes softly behind him. I then hear the front door close. Thank Christ. I sit up in bed and rub at the crick in my neck. I’ve been lying in the same decorous pose for some time, pretending to be asleep, conscious of his admiring gaze. Two hours ago, while it was still dark and he’d snored and farted on his own side of the bed, I’d taken a pee and chewed on mint washed down with water so my breath was fresh when he woke. I’d reclined, eyes closed, amongst my silk pillows, one arm flung above my head, mouth gently clamped shut. I lay slightly to the side, so that the fullness of my cleavage was accentuated. My sheer night dress fell away to reveal one rosy nipple, which tautened in the crisp morning air and I’d wondered if he would take it into his warm mouth, willed him to, almost squirmed with the anticipation of it, a giggle spiralling up my chest. But I hadn’t initiated anything. I was the sleeping kitten, the sleeping beauty, after all. My night dress slips to the floor as I step out of bed and I look at my reflection in the dresser’s mirror, tilting my head from one side to the other. I pull my tousled dark hair forward, so that only the lower curve of my breasts are visible. Running my fingers over the small triangle of hair between my legs, I wish it was a shade lighter, so that I could colour it yellow or blue. That would amuse my lovers. I pose for a moment, a cross between the Greek nude I’d sneaked in to see at the Exhibition of ’51, and the girls ironically named Chastity and Faith in the photographs I keep in the bottom drawer of the nightstand. I pivot to see the reflection of my pale bottom. I hate it, I’m embarrassed by it. It’s small and firm. I will never be a Grande Odalisque. I want it to be rounded and heavy like the base of a vase. I want his fingers to be able to knead it like it’s biscuit dough. Taking a step closer to the mirror I scrutinise my face. I’m vain, and I am not vain. I know I’m beautiful, but I know my beauty is to be utilised, tended. The winged eyebrows, the high cheek bones, and the full bottom lip that I pout as I gaze at myself. The colour of my eyes are changeable, depending upon my mood, or maybe even upon how much wine I’d enjoyed the night before; sometimes they’re as smooth as a hazelnut, other times flecked with gold. They are perfectly set off by my heart-shaped face, so I’m told. ‘Shimmering pools of melancholy, making thy heart ache’. Isn’t that how that ridiculous poet had described my eyes? More like ‘shimmering pools of colic, making thy middles ache’. I grin, a deep dimple puckering my left cheek. I own my face, but so do others. I’m almost famous, infamous. When I think of this I feel a flutter of excitement in the pit of my stomach, but I also feel a little sick. I’ve worked towards this for a long time, even before I knew what could be achieved. And of course, now I have other strengths to work with besides this beauty. I have more to trade than just my body. I hurry into my dressing room and tug on the bell pull. Wrenching open the door I call for Amah to come and help me dress. We will have company soon. I’m already tying the ribbon on my silk underwear when Amah Li Leen enters. She’s a plump, middle-aged woman from the East. She’s wearing a plain, white blouse and black skirt, and her shiny black hair is coiled into a low bun. I never cease to be irritated by how she dresses. We’ve often argued about it. I want her to dress in colourful sarongs from Malaya or those heavy Chinese smocks with the mandarin collars. I want her to fit in with the Oriental décor of my house. Furniture and art from the Orient are very much in style at the moment, and many men, especially those in shipping and diplomatic work, admire how I’ve decorated my rooms. So she could at least look the part if my guests are to catch a glimpse of her. But she won’t. She says she doesn’t want to stand out, although it’s almost as if her sober apparel accentuates her almond-shaped eyes, her bronzed skin colour. “What is Sir Thomas visiting for, Heloise?” she asks as she helps me shrug into a sheer chemise. The faint cadence of a Liverpool accent is discernible in her speech. “His missive just said something about a number of suspicious deaths in the Waterloo area.” “Why does he think this would be of interest to you?” I gasp as she tightens my corset.
“I am hoping he wants me to investigate.”
“Ridiculous,” she mutters, helping me step into a voluminous, crinoline hoop. “Nearly as ridiculous as this contraption.” Amah’s skirt is far narrower than what’s fashionable.
“I would be mortified to be seen in your skirt, Amah.”
“Well, I’m used to it, aren’t I?” I laugh.
“That’s a lie. If it were not so cold here, you would wear much less.” I look for an answering smile from her but, not receiving one, I sit down at my dressing table. Tears smart in my eyes as Amah Li Leen brushes and pulls my hair into loops, tutting that there is no time to curl the ends.
“What will you wear today?” she asks, as she moves to the dressing room that houses my vast collection of gowns. Gone are the days of wearing the same gown until it’s stiff with grime and drudgery – that one I had of grey batiste, bought for a song from the Belgian girl grown too large in the belly, that hid stains yet showed sweat under the arms or, later, the blue silk, which was more expensive but acquired the shine of poverty and overuse. I don’t even want to think of the creased, brown sheathes of leather I wore as shoes. The sour reek that wafted from my feet, embarrassing, distracting, as I grimaced with feigned pleasure pressed against a brick wall.
“How about the new lilac one with the orange-blossom trim?”
“I think maybe the dove-grey would be better for a meeting with Sir Thomas,” says Amah. She comes back to the dressing table carrying the heavy gown across both her forearms and deposits it onto a plush armchair. I frown slightly.
“I suppose you’re right. But I will wear the crimson petticoat beneath it.” She pulls the petticoat, then the dress, over my body. Although it does not reveal my shoulders, it is gathered at the waist and cut low over my breasts. I dab perfumed powder across my neck and bosom.
“Maybe just a little lace at the front,” I say, smiling. “I don’t need to show so much flesh for the work Sir Thomas offers me.” I go to add something gay to my apparel, a flower or a feather, but there’s a hard rap on the door knocker and I can hear Bundle, my butler, on his way to answer it. I’m clasping down the sides of my gown to fit through the doorway when I notice the stiff expression on Amah’s face. I squeeze her arm and lean down to kiss her on the cheek.
“One day we’ll be back in the sunlight.” I’m surprised to find two men in my drawing room. Sir Thomas Avery I know well. He is a man of maybe forty-five years, a little shorter than me, with thick, frizzled mutton chop sideburns. He steps forward and takes my hand in greeting. He then introduces the stranger standing by one of the windows which overlooks the street below.
“This is Mr Priestly,” he says. The other man doesn’t approach me but bows his head.
“Pleased to meet you, Mrs Chancey,” he says. His lips widen a little, but he makes no real effort to smile. A thin frame and large ears preclude Mr Priestly from being a handsome man, but he is well, if soberly, dressed and gentlemanly. His eyes flick over my figure and then, with more leisure, he looks around my drawing room. His gaze follows the pattern of the Oriental rug, the scrollwork on the mahogany side board and the richly damasked sofas with intricately worked legs. He takes in the assortment of Chinese blue and white vases in the dark cabinets and the jade figurines on the mantelpiece. Finally his gaze rests on the large mural that adorns the furthest wall. A painting of a peacock, sat on a sparse tree branch, fills the space. The peacock, a fusion of azure, green and gold leaf with a regal crown of feathers, displays its resplendent train so that the golden eyes of its plumage can be admired. It might be a trick of the light and artistry, but the peacock’s tail feathers seem to quiver.
“How very… exotic,” he says. He moves towards the fireplace and studies the painting in the gilded frame above it. The portrait is of a young woman dressed in Javanese costume. Her hair is pulled into a low bun, silver earrings decorate her lobes, and she holds a white flower behind her back. Richly decorated batik is wrapped around her breasts, and a tight sarong swathes her lower body.
“Is that you?” he asks me, surprise in his voice.
“Yes.” I stand by him and look up at the portrait. “My friend Charles Cunningham lent me the fabric for the sitting. His father brought the lengths of silk and batik back from Java, after one of his assignments with Raffles. Such beautiful, earthy colours, aren’t they?” Mr Priestly steps a few feet away from me.
“I’m afraid I don’t follow this fashion for aping savages.” I feel a prick of resentment at the insult to my drawing room and portrait – the insult to me. But I learnt long ago to hold my temper in check, I have learnt to behave with decorum, for I no longer work in a Liverpool back-alley. Smiling sweetly as I lower myself and my wide skirts carefully onto the sofa, I say,
“Oh, don’t feel bad. Not everyone can be a la mode, can they?” Sir Thomas clears his throat loudly.
“Maybe we should discuss the purpose of our visit, Mrs Chancey.”
“Yes, let’s,” I answer, patting the sofa cushion next to mine. “Please have a seat.” Sir Thomas sits down and looks at Mr Priestly expectantly. However, rather than speak himself, Mr Priestly gestures for Sir Thomas to proceed.
“Well, Mrs Chancey,” says Sir Thomas. “I have come to ask you to do a spot of work for us again.”
“Wonderful. Who will I need to be this time?” Sir Thomas smiles.
“Certainly your prior experience as a stage actress has benefitted us, Mrs Chancey. And it is true. We do need you to do some covert investigating for us.” One of Sir Thomas’ many businesses includes a private detective agency. Although he has a surfeit of male detectives, he has found it very difficult to find females willing or able to sleuth. Having both the willingness and ability, I’ve worked on and off for Sir Thomas over the last eighteen months. I’ve posed as a sewing woman to gain access to a noble house, I’ve rouged and revealed myself as a street prostitute in order to spy on a group of young men and I have even performed as a harem dancer in order to reconnoitre at a foreign embassy. Sir Thomas clears his throat again.
“Yes. Well, maybe the task we ask of you this time will not be so enjoyable, I’m afraid.” He glances at Mr Priestly, who nods him on. “As you know, we are investigating the deaths of several women in the Waterloo area.”
“How did they die?” I ask. Sir Thomas waves his hand. He won’t go on. Mr Priestly stares hard at me for a few moments.
“Sir Thomas assures me I can broach any subject with you, Mrs Chancey.”
“Of course,” I smile. He means because I’m a whore, of course, but I won’t let him think his sting has broken skin. He turns and gazes out the window as he speaks.
“It seems that each of these women – well, really, they were prostitutes – had terminated a pregnancy and died soon after from blood loss and infection.”
“Well, unfortunately that happens far too frequently.”
“That is so, but luckily the body of the last prostitute who died in this manner was taken to the hospital to be used as a specimen, and they found that…” He glances over at me, his eyes appraising.
“What?” I ask.
“They found parts of her body missing.”
“What parts?”
“Her uterus was gone, but so were her other… feminine parts.” Revulsion curls through my body and I feel the pulse of an old wound between my legs. I glance at Sir Thomas whose eyes fall away from mine.
“What makes you think her death is connected to the other deaths in Waterloo?”
“It was the fourth body they had received in this condition in the last seven weeks.”
“What? And was it not reported to the police?” My voice rises in disbelief. Mr Priestly shrugs.
“Well, they were only prostitutes, after all. At first the hospital staff thought they were the victims of amateur hysterectomies, but when they found that each of the women was also missing…”
“Missing…?” I shake my head a little, hoping I’m not about to hear what I think is coming, although a part of me, tucked away beneath the horror, wonders how he’ll describe it. Mr Priestly straightens his collar.
“Apparently all their sexual organs were missing. Inside and out. I am positive you know to what I am referring, Mrs Chancey.” I can’t help but press my knees together. I nod. “Accordingly, it became apparent that there was a pattern to these deaths,” he continues.
“And what do the police think now?”
“Obviously someone in the area is butchering these unfortunate women, whether accidentally or in spite is uncertain. However – and it’s not surprising – the police don’t want to waste too much time investigating the deaths of prostitutes when the rights of decent, law-abiding Londoners need to be protected.” Indignation sharpens my thoughts, but I command my body to relax. After all, what else is to be expected? If I’m to mix in polite society I need to mimic their ways. I force a languid smile to my face, eyes narrowed, as I watch Mr Priestly.
“So, what on earth do you want to look into these deaths for? If the police are not interested, why should we be?”
“A friend of mine heard of these cases and has become immensely interested. It is on behalf of my friend that I have engaged Sir Thomas’ services.”
“And why has your friend become so interested?” Mr Priestly takes his time seating himself in an armchair, crossing one leg over the other. He scrutinises my face for a few moments before answering.
“My friend has a special concern. It is for this reason we ask for your assistance.”
“What is this special concern?”
“My friend is a respectable gentleman, well known to his peers. A short time ago he found out that his daughter was in an unhappy condition. She is not married.” Mr Priestly pauses to let the awful truth of his statement sink in.
“Ah, I see. And what did he do?” I ask. Mr Priestly frowns.
“Naturally he disowned her. He allowed her to pack some of her belongings and had her taken to a convent near Shropshire.”
“Naturally,” I repeat, my voice dry.
“Yes, but she did not make it to Shropshire. She bribed the coachman to take her to a hotel in Charing Cross, and from there she has disappeared.”
“Do you know why she wanted to be left at that hotel?”
“Apparently her… the other party… was staying there. He is a Frenchman.” He nods, as if this fact alone throws light on the cause of her predicament.
“But nobody knows where she is now?” Sir Thomas takes up the thread of the story.
“At first Mr Priestly required my men to look into her activities at the hotel, but upon questioning Monsieur Baudin, we learnt she had left his care most swiftly.”
“I suppose he did not want her now she was in trouble?”
“Something like that, it would seem. Since then he seems to have flown the coop,” says Sir Thomas. “My detectives have since found out that the young lady took a cab to Waterloo where she spent a little over three weeks in a boarding house before moving into another well-known establishment nearby.”
“What establishment?” Mr Priestly purses his lips for a moment.
“A house of illrepute, it would seem. She moved to an abode owned by one Madame Silvestre.”
“Ah yes, I’m aware of her services,” I reply, thinking of how it’s been many years since I have had the pleasure of the old cat’s acquaintance. “Do you need me to fetch her?”
“If only it were that easy. It seems she has since disappeared. Nobody knows where she has gone.” The sudden realisation dawns on me.
“Are you concerned that she too has been mutilated?”
“We are not sure what has become of her,” says Sir Thomas. “Madame Silvestre might just be hiding her, or maybe the young lady has moved on to another place.”
“Or maybe she is one of the butcher’s victims,” says Mr Priestly. He withdraws a card case from his pocket and carefully takes out a small photograph. He hands this to me. “Eleanor Carter.” The likeness is of a very fair, young woman. Her face is small and serious and the bodice of her gown is buttoned tightly to the base of her throat.
“How old is she?” I ask.
“She is only seventeen. She is quite small and pretty – this photograph does not do her justice,” says Mr Priestly. “My friend is worried for her safety.”
“He might have thought of that before he threw her out onto the street,” I say, before I can help myself. Mr Priestly’s brow lifts as he looks across at me coldly.
“Although it is out of the question for her to return to her familial home, naturally my friend is troubled. He would like to see her ensconced safely at the nunnery.” I glance from Sir Thomas to Mr Priestly.
“You want me to find her?” Sir Thomas sits back into the sofa and extends his legs out before himself. He studies his shoes as he says,
“Well, as you now know, I have already had my detectives scouting for information on Miss Carter, but they have failed to find her.”
“And you think my womanly touch might avail?” I ask, amused. Sir Thomas resettles himself again.
“As simple questioning has not sufficed, we wondered if you could possibly discover Miss Carter’s movements with more covert methods.”
“Such as…?” Mr Priestly makes an impatient motion with his hand.
“You seemed interested in picking up the mantle of another character again, Mrs Chancey, and that is what we are asking of you. I believe it won’t be too much of a stretch for you, for we would like you to pose as a…” he glances at Sir Thomas, “a ‘gay girl’, I think they’re called.” I stop breathing for a moment as annoyance flushes through my body. It’s true that I posed as a street prostitute for Sir Thomas, but that was just a lark, and it’s also true that in the dim past I’d worked in many places, both good and bad, but I choose not to think of that now. So, for this absolute pig of a man to refer to me as a mere gay girl makes me angry. I’m no longer a lowly grisette, willing to flatter or implore my way to a few more pennies or ribbons while I try to hide my desperation.  I lift my chin.
“You want me to pose as a prostitute?”
“Precisely.”
“At Madame Silvestre’s?”
“If they would have you, certainly,” says Mr Priestly, his voice even. “What better place for you to be situated in order to find out where Miss Carter is?” I heave myself up from the sofa and stride to the bay window. My skirt bumps a side-table causing a figurine of a Chinese goddess to totter. Go back to work in a brothel, for the sake of a little detection? I’m not so sure. Sir Thomas puts his hands out entreatingly.
“Mrs Chancey, not only can you investigate the disappearance of Miss Carter, you can also look into the other deaths. You can try to find more information about the monster who is harming these women.”
“Who knows?” interrupts Mr Priestly. “You could even pretend to be pregnant and see where that takes you.”
“Be your bait, you mean?” I ask, my voice flippant.
“Whatever it takes, Mrs Chancey, whatever it takes.” Mr Priestly slips his fingers into his gloves. “You may put it about that Miss Carter is a young relative of your own, but in no way must her name be connected back to my friend. Sir Thomas will take care of the case from now on. I am sure you will be remunerated…” he glances around my sumptuous drawing room, “as grandly as possible.” I turn from the window, the smile on my face fixed.
“I don’t work for Sir Thomas for the money, Mr Priestly. I have my own independent means. I follow inquiries for Sir Thomas purely for the pleasure of it, and in this I would find no pleasure. I’m afraid I will need to decline your kind offer.” He stops pulling on his remaining glove and eyes me for a few, long moments.
“I must assure you that I do not request you to take this case – I insist you take this case.”
“Insist? You cannot make me take this case, Mr Priestly.”
“Mrs Chancey, I know the local magistrate, Sir Herbert Brimm. I know for a fact that he and others are interested in your mysterious activities in the Limehouse area. One word from me and you will be examined by the local police and the doctor in their employ.” I can feel anger drain the colour from my cheeks and my fingers quiver with adrenalin. I’ve heard of this movement to examine prostitutes for contagious diseases. He would menace me with this detestable law that terrorises prostitutes and offends even righteous women? He would dare threaten me with a disgusting doctor probing my body for sickness?
“That will never eventuate, Mr Priestly. I know far more important and powerful people than you.”
“Ah, you must mean your protector,” replies Mr Priestly. “Tell me, how would he like an examination of your private life smeared in the newspapers for his wife and esteemed friends to see? Think of his poor children. Be sure, Mrs Chancey, the damage can be done before he is able to assist you.” I grip my waist, my fingertips digging into the unyielding corset. My popularity with patrons is closely tied to my discretion. It has always been so. But in this trembling moment of rage I have nothing to lose.
“Do it then, sir. Do your worst,” I say, struggling to keep my voice low. Sir Thomas steps between us, his hands raised.
“Please, Mr Priestly, there’s no need for these threats.” He turns to me. “Mrs Chancey, surely we can come to an agreement on how you can investigate this in a manner with which you are comfortable. We really do need your assistance.” I look into Sir Thomas’ flushed, kind face and then shrug one shoulder.
“Allow me to think it over. And if I do decide to proceed,” I glare at Mr Priestly, “I will only deal with Sir Thomas.”
“That suits me perfectly,” says Mr Priestly. He leaves the room without bidding farewell. Sir Thomas thanks me profusely and presses my hand goodbye between his clammy ones.
“I will be in touch.” He follows Mr Priestly to the front door as swiftly as his short legs will take him.  From the window I watch the men descend the few front steps down. I make sure to stand a little behind the silk drapes so that they can’t see me. Stopping on the last step Mr Priestly turns to Sir Thomas and says,
“What on earth do you think a little dollymop like her can achieve?”
“She’s done some very good work for us…” Sir Thomas protests. The rest of the conversation is drowned out by the arrival of their carriage. I stand very still for a few minutes, watching the carriage pull away, until I sense someone behind me.
“What are you thinking?” asks Amah. “Are you wondering how you will investigate this dreadful affair?” I turn my head slightly, and meet her eye.
“No. I am considering in what way I will repay the precious Mr Priestly for his insults.”

I hope that’s piqued your interest.  Mrs Heloise Chancey doesn’t sound like a lady to be messed with, does she?  And I absolutely love that cover.  This one will definitely be added to the TBR.

She Be Damned: A Heloise Chancey Mystery by M.J. Tjia was published in the UK by Legend Press on 1st August 2017 and is available in paperback and eBook formats | amazon.co.uk | amazon.com | Waterstones | Goodreads |

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about the author3

Mirandi by Red Boots Photographic (46 of 136)web.jpgM.J. is a Brisbane-based writer. She has been shortlisted for the Josephine Ulrick Short Story Prize and the Luke Bitmead Bursary (UK), and longlisted for the ABR Elizabeth Jolley Short Story Prize and CWA (UK) dagger awards. Her work has appeared in RexPeril and Shibboleth and Other Stories.

She is the author of She Be Damned: A Heloise Chancey Mystery, (2017) with the sequel to follow in 2018.

Author Links: | Twitter |