#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).

WHLTC Banner.jpg

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 |

Advertisements

#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 |

Blog Tour Banner.jpg

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 |

Good Friday Blog Tour.png

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 |

Witch Dust Blog Tour Poster (2).jpg

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 |

she be damned Blog Tour Banner jpeg.jpg

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 |

 

 

#BlogTour | #Extract: The Abattoir of Dreams by Mark Tilbury (@MTilburyAuthor) @BloodhoundBook

the abattoir of dreams.jpg“The past is never far away. Michael Tate has not had an easy life. With his father in prison, and his mother dead, Michael was sent to Woodside Children’s Home. Now an adult, Michael wakes up in hospital from a coma suffering from amnesia and paralysis. Confused and terrified, he is charged with the fatal stabbing of his girlfriend, Becky. He also learns he attempted to end his own life. Detective Inspector John Carver is determined that Michael is sent to prison. With no way of defending himself, Michael is left in his hospital bed awaiting transfer to remand. But then strange things begin to happen and his childhood comes back to haunt him. Can Michael ever escape the past? Will he ever discover the truth about Becky’s murder? And why is DI Carver so eager to make him suffer? The Abattoir of Dreams is a bitter sweet story of murder, innocence and abuse.”

I am delighted to welcome you to my stop on the The Abattoir of Dreams blog tour.  Author Mark Tilbury is one of those writers whose work I have been incredibly keen to read since I started blogging over a year ago.  A number of fellow bloggers whose opinions I trust are huge Mark Tilbury fans which I think says an awful lot, don’t you?  And I plan to start with The Abattoir of Dreams as it’s receiving absolutely brilliant, rave reviews.

To celebrate it’s recent release I have an extract to share with you today.  So without further ado, make yourself comfy and read on…

Chapter One
Nurse Emily Dixon fussed with my bedsheet and fixed me with a smile that seemed more professional than friendly. ‘There’s someone here to see you, Michael.’
‘Who?’
‘Detective Inspector Carver. Thames Valley police.’
‘Has he found my memory?’
‘I think it’s more serious than that.’ She left, replaced by a tall, slim man in a charcoal suit.
‘Hello, Mr. Tate.’
There was something about his lopsided grin I didn’t like. Half-sincere, perhaps? ‘Hello.’
‘I see they’ve given you your own room.’
Wasn’t I the lucky one.
He sat on a chair next to the bed. ‘Do you know why I’m here?’
‘No.’ I wiped sweat off my forehead with the back of my hand. There was a fan on top of a five-drawer unit by the window; its blades didn’t so much as spin but lurch, like a buckled wheel.
Next to the unit, a wheelchair, my only mode of transport in this brave, new, paralysed world. If anyone ever bothered to hoist me out of the bed, that was.
‘Look at me when I’m speaking to you, Michael. Didn’t your mother teach you any manners?’
This sudden change of tone sent a shiver through my body. I didn’t have a clue whether my mother had taught me anything; I didn’t even remember her. I looked into his pale blue eyes; they seemed to glisten in the afternoon sunlight pouring through a small window behind the bed.
‘That’s better,’ he crooned. ‘You can tell a lot from a man’s eyes.’
The room didn’t seem to have enough air. I wanted to run to the window. Dive through it. Put an end to this eternal nightmare of paralysis and amnesia.
‘You look better than the last time I last saw you.’
‘Last time?’
‘I’ve been to see you three times, Michael. First time, you had tubes sticking out of everywhere.  Second time, you were still in a coma. Not very chatty.’ He grinned, seemingly pleased with his own lame joke. ‘But, today, hey presto, the wanderer returns.’
‘Why are you here?’
He ignored my question. ‘Funny things, comas; neither dead nor alive. Strange sort of limbo.’
‘If you say so.’
‘Have you remembered anything yet? Doctor claims you’re suffering from amnesia.’
‘I don’t remember a thing.’ The truth.
‘If I was to be cynical, Michael, I might think your memory loss was a tad convenient. But, just for the record, let me help you with the events of Monday, June twenty-first; the night you walked to the top of Evenlode flats and tried your hand at flying. A witness said you came home from work at nine-fifteen. She remembered you because you always dragged your work bag up the metal handrail and pissed her off.’
‘Work?’
‘The George Hotel in Feelham. You were a washer-upper. A dish-jockey. But, that’s not relevant, Michael. Suffice to say, you left work at eight forty-five, and clunked your way upstairs at nine-fifteen. Our witness says she heard a lot of banging and thudding coming from your flat, but she just assumed you were having sex. Then, at ten thirty-five, according to two eye witnesses, you jumped off the roof. So, that just leaves the missing hour and twenty minutes when you stabbed your girlfriend to death with a kitchen knife.’
My heart stopped. ‘What?’
‘Murdered her in cold blood, Michael.’ He spoke the way some adults speak to old people as if they’re all deaf and daft. ‘Stabbed her twenty-one times.’
‘My girlfriend?’
‘Becky Marie Coombs. Name ring a bell?’
It didn’t. How was I supposed to react to the news I’d killed my girlfriend if I didn’t even remember her? It felt as if Carver was describing a nightmare which had happened to someone else.
‘Did you let yourself into your flat, or did Becky let you in?’
‘I don’t remember.’
‘Course. I forgot. All Dumbo’s memories fell out of his ears when he hit that builder’s van. Let me help you. Tell you what I think happened. You got home after working your bollocks off in that hotel kitchen. Only thing you’re bothered about is a drink to unwind and hitting the sack, right?’
‘If you say so.’
‘You like a drink, don’t you, Michael?’
‘I don’t know.’
‘You do. Becky’s mum called you a piss-head, but that’s neither here nor there. So, you let yourself in, and then you realise your worst nightmare. Becky’s in bed with another man.’
‘I don’t—’
‘I’ll tell you this for nothing, son: I would have been bloody furious as well. How dare some dirty dog get into your bed and soil your sheets?’
The room was stifling. Suffocating. There was an oxygen cylinder by the door. I almost called out for a nurse to come and connect me up to it.
‘Let’s face it, Michael, you’ve not got much going for you, have you? A shitty job in a shitty hotel. Crap pay. Crap hours. A drink problem. A face like a smacked arse. If life was a pair of underpants, you’d be a skid mark, right?’
‘Could you open the window?’
He didn’t seem to hear me. ‘Do you know how I do my job, Michael?’
‘No.’
‘I imagine myself in the same situation as the criminal. Ask myself what would I do if I came home knackered from work and found my bird in bed with a stranger. A fucking freeloader. And here’s the truth: I’d want blood, too. Not the man’s. No way. Uh-uh. That slimy twat has no contract with me. No promises to stay faithful. No declarations of undying love. Just a dirty little opportunist. But, Mrs. Carver, bless her, well, she swore to be mine and mine alone. Not get in the sack with someone else as soon as my back’s turned. Open her legs to the first dirty bastard who paid her a compliment. Are we thinking the same thoughts, Michael?’
‘I—’
‘Of course we are. It’s a universal truth no man is willing to share. What’s his is his. So, I’d throw out the imposter. Naked if need be. Then I’d do the same as you Michael. I’d stab the bitch to death in a jealous rage.’
I focussed my attention on the knackered fan. It looked the way I felt.
‘Twenty-one stab wounds, Michael. And you expect me to believe you don’t remember a single one of them?’
‘I don’t.’
‘What about the one in her neck?’
‘I need water.’
‘Or the ten in her left breast?’
‘Please. I don’t—’
‘Was the breast significant, Michael? Maybe the bloke was sucking her tit when you caught them at it?’
My chest felt as if a boa constrictor had coiled itself around me and was squeezing for all it was worth.
‘You stabbed her in the eye, Michael. Was that symbolic?’
I shook my head. What did he want me to say? Oh, yes, come to think of it, I did mutilate her.
It must have slipped my mind.
Carver took a picture from the breast pocket of his suit. He handed it to me. ‘This is what you did, Michael. Take a good look. See if it jogs your memory.’

***

Woah!  If I wasn’t already lining this one up for the TBR I would be now.  Has that piqued your interest?  Let me know in the comments.

The Abattoir of Dreams by Mark Tilbury was published in the UK by Bloodhound Books on 28th February 2017 and is available in paperback and eBook formats | amazon.co.uk | amazon.com | Waterstones | Goodreads |

16864285_10155070138771255_4033312303074279502_n.jpg

copy-of-copy-of-smith-sons-1

mark tilbury.jpgMark lives in a small village in the lovely county of Cumbria, although his books are set in Oxfordshire where he was born and raised.

Mark served in the Royal Navy, and was left to raise his two daughters alone after being widowed. He finally took the plunge and self-published two books on Amazon, The Revelation Room and The Eyes of the Accused.

He’s always had a keen interest in writing, and is extremely proud to have his third novel, The Abattoir of Dreams, published by Bloodhound Books.

When he’s not writing, Mark can be found trying and failing to master blues guitar,
and taking walks around the beautiful county of Cumbria.

Author Links:Website | Twitter | Facebook |

 

 

#SeriesSpotlight | #Extract: After She’s Gone by Sheryl Browne (@SherylBrowne) @ChocLituk

after shes gone.jpgAfter She’s Gone
“He’s killed your child and kidnapped your wife. What would YOU do?

There’s evil and then there’s Patrick Sullivan. A drug dealer, pimp and murderer, there are no depths to which Patrick would not sink, and Detective Inspector Matthew Adams has found this out in the most devastating way imaginable. 

When Patrick’s brother is shot dead in a drug bust gone wrong, the bitter battle between the two men intensifies, and Matthew finds it increasingly difficult to hold the moral high ground. All he wants is to make the pimping scum suffer the way he did … the way Lily did.

But being at war with such a depraved individual means that it’s not just Matthew who’s in danger. Patrick has taken a lot from Matthew, but he hasn’t taken everything – and now he wants everything.”

sins of the father.jpgSins of the Father
“What if you’d been accused of one of the worst crimes imaginable?

Detective Inspector Matthew Adams is slowly picking up the pieces from a case that nearly cost him the lives of his entire family and his own sanity too. On the surface, he seems to be moving on, but he drinks to forget – and when he closes his eyes, the nightmares still come.

But the past is the past – or is it? Because the evil Patrick Sullivan might be out of the picture, but there’s somebody who is just as intent on making Matthew’s life hell, and they’re doing it in the cruelest way possible.

When Matthew finds himself accused of a horrific and violent crime, will his family stand by him? And will he even be around to help when his new enemy goes after them as well?”

I am delighted to be showcasing two terrific crime thriller novels from a truly lovely author today.  Books one and two in Sheryl Browne’s gripping new crime series featuring DI Matthew Adams were both published by Choc Lit last month and are available in eBook format.

Today, in order to tempt you into adding these beauties to your TBR, I have a brilliant extract from the first book in the series, After She’s Gone.  So grab a cuppa and make yourself comfy…

After She’s Gone
‘Not very gentlemanly, keeping ladies hanging around, Adams, is it?’ Patrick watched with interest, as the copper turned a pale shade of white. Reeling on his feet, he was, poor sod. He actually looked as if he might pass out. Didn’t take him long to recover himself, though. Patrick watched on as Adams pulled himself up, bracing his shoulders in that bloody annoying Bruce Willis nothing-gets-to-me way he had. It obviously did though. He might be trying to keep a grip, but the little tic going in his cheek was a dead giveaway. Patrick had noticed it when Adams had paid him a visit in the nick. Seen it many times, when the pathetic little runt had tried to stand up to him as a kid. Most recently, before the bastard had kicked him to the floor like a dog, for which the copper was about to get payback. Oh, yes, his fuse was lit all right. The man was a ticking time bomb, far too reactive to be on the force, in Patrick’s humble opinion.

Patrick barely had time to free himself of the girl before the copper exploded.

‘You fucking animal!’ he seethed, lunging towards him.

But Patrick was ready. ‘Down!’ He levelled the shotgun, ready to blast Adams to kingdom come if he didn’t back off.

Clearly realising he might be at a disadvantage, Adams stopped, his expression pure thunder, his chest heaving. Oh, dear. Was that a little wheeze Patrick could hear in there? Quietly amused, he noted how Adams was struggling to control his breathing, another giveaway as to the copper’s high state of anxiety. Patrick probably knew the signs better than Adams did.

‘I said, down, Adams.’ Lowering the gun, Patrick indicated the floor, which is where he wanted Adams. No one, but no one, constantly refers to Patrick Sullivan as an animal and gets away with it.

‘Unless you want your wife and Snow White to see your blood splattered all over the walls, that is?’

Adams didn’t budge. Taking slow breaths, he stayed exactly where he was, his fist clenched at his side and in his eyes … pure murder. Patrick felt the tiniest flicker of apprehension run through him.

‘We can play the waiting game if you like, Adams.’ He made sure to hold his gaze. ‘But I’m not sure your good lady will be very keen on the idea. Are you?’

Patrick’s gaze flicked in the direction of the man’s wife.

‘Do it,’ he ordered. ‘Face front and get down on your knees, copper, if you value her life.’

‘You bastard.’ Adams took another laboured breath and ran his hands over his face. Then, glancing heavenward, finally, he did as instructed.

Got him, Patrick thought, hugely satisfied that the copper seemed to be getting the message. Patrick had the upper hand now. This time, it would be Adams defenceless on the floor, while he broke his fucking jaw. Quid pro quo, as far as Patrick was concerned.

***

I hope that’s piqued your interest.  I can’t wait to make a start on these two; everything about them appeals to me!

After She’s Gone and Sins of the Father by Sheryl Browne were published in the UK by Choc Lit in February 2017 and are available in eBook format | amazon.co.uk | amazon.com | Goodreads |

copy-of-copy-of-smith-sons-1

Sheryl-Browne03-RD-copy-215x300 (1).jpgSheryl Browne brings you edgy, sexy contemporary fiction and psychological thrillers.

A member of the Crime Writers’ Association, Romantic Novelists’ Association and awarded a Red Ribbon by The Wishing Shelf Book Awards, Sheryl has several books published and two short stories in Birmingham City University anthologies, where she completed her MA in Creative Writing.

Recommended to the publisher by the WH Smith Travel fiction buyer, Sheryl’s contemporary fiction comes to you from multi-award winning Choc Lit.

Author Links: Website | Twitter | Facebook | Amazon | Amazon US | Pinterest | Choc Lit |

#BlogTour | #Extract: Death Games by Chris Simms (@SimmsComment) @LOCrime #SpicerIsBack

death games cover.jpgWill your next move be your last?

Manchester: an injured survivor from a motorway pile-up flees the scene, leaving behind evidence that a terror attack is being planned…

Jon Spicer, newly trained as a Specialist Firearms Officer, has joined Manchester police’s Counter Terrorism Unit. Thrown out of his previous department and demoted to Detective Constable, he is being kept in the force only because he’ll take on the most dangerous of jobs.

Iona Khan is struggling to find respect and recognition in the male-dominated Counter Terrorism Unit. Her mind might be sharp, but many of her colleagues value physical strength above anything else.

As the investigation quickly snowballs, Spicer and Khan are thrown together. The two officers must learn to trust each other – and fast. Because in this chase, any wrong move could be your last.”

I am delighted to welcome you to my stop on the Death Games blog tour.  Death Games is the eighth book in the Jon Spicer series and was published earlier this week on 1st February. Congratulations Chris!  I was over the moon when Jo at Life of Cri.me asked me to join Chris’s tour – there was no way I was going to refuse one of my favourite crime bloggers!

I have to admit that Chris Simms is a new author to me but his books sound just my cup of tea.  And I have a heck of a lot of catching up to do (did I mention that this is the 8th book in the series??).  Today I have an extract from Death Games to share with you.  So without further ado…

Ten minutes later, they were all kitted up. Helmets with visors and leather neckguards, full limb protection, reinforced gloves, attack vests, tasers, batons and handcuffs. Jon knew the gear added a few inches of bulk to them all; they were a fearsome sight.

Hugh Lambert squared up to his raid partner and announced in a low voice, ‘I feel epic.’

‘You, Mr Lambert,’ the other man replied, ‘are so Money Supermarket.’

Pockets of laughter around the group.

‘Any movement in the target property?’ the search co-ordinator, an inspector Jon hadn’t met before, asked.

Iona was over by the monitor showing the live feed from the camera car. ‘Nothing, Sir.’

‘OK, no sound now, lads.’ He lifted a radio and spoke more quietly. ‘Ian, have you swept it yet?’ He listened for a few seconds before replying. ‘Roger that.’ He turned to the group. ‘Listen up, a faint reading in the room across the corridor; that’s first door on the right. The one with a window out onto the street. Who’s Raid One?’

Hugh Lambert and his partner raised their hands.

‘Right. It’s your room. Could be a cat, could be someone in a sleeping bag, could be electrical equipment: just be aware. Shall we get this done?’

Their van came to halt thirty metres from 17a. Because curtains in the property were all drawn, they didn’t need a covert approach. Instead, they jogged along the pavement, the two officers at the front carrying a Double Wam. Larger than an Enforcer, the Double Wam needed two officers to swing it and delivered something closer to fifteen tons of energy to any surface it connected with.

The raid team started to line up in their pairs. Seeing the battering ram being readied, Jon stepped forward. It was the first rule of a forced entry and one pumped-up officers frequently forgot: try the door handle. Locked. ‘Worth a go,’ he whispered and stepped back alongside Kieran.

The Wam officers raised the battering ram again. They looked at each other and gave a simultaneous nod. A signal to the rest of the team. Jon’s mouth felt dry. Adrenaline had made his eyes feel too big for their sockets. Knees slightly flexed, he rocked back and forth on the balls of his feet, just like the rest of the group. If anyone was unfortunate enough to be in the corridor beyond the door, they were getting it. Big time.

The Double Wam was swung slowly back and then rapidly forward. The door flew in with a huge crash. ‘Breach! Stand clear!’ the Wam officers screamed, jumping out the way.

Lambert and his partner piled through the doorway. ‘Police! Stand still! Police! Stand still!’

Wow!  Doesn’t that sound good?!  I can’t wait to read this book (along with the first seven in the series!)  My thanks once again to Jo and Chris for asking me to be a part of the Death Games blog tour.

Death Games by Chris Simms was published in the UK on 1st February 2017 and is available in eBook format | amazon.co.uk | amazon.com | Goodreads |

blog-tour-flyer-2

copy-of-copy-of-smith-sons-1

1014case-files-versionChris Simms has worked in airports, nightclubs, post offices and telesales centres. He now lives in Marple, near Manchester, with his wife and four children. He still works as a freelance copywriter for advertising agencies in the city.

Along with nominations for the Theakston’s Crime Novel of the Year award and Crime Writers’ Association Daggers (for his novels and short stories), Chris was selected by Waterstones as one of their ‘25 Authors For The Future’.

Author Links: Website | Twitter |

 

#BlogTour | #Extract: Uncoiled Lies by Liz Mistry (@LizCrimeWarp) @BloodhoundBook

uncoiled-lies-coverMurder. Love. Corruption. DI Angus McGuire and the team are back and have their work cut out. 

Murdered prostitutes and a turf war between local gangsters takes the investigation into Bradford’s Immigrant communities where tensions run high.

To make matters worse McGuire is juggling an illicit relationship with his boss’s daughter and has fraught family relations.

Who is The Old Man?

What is the link between three dead prostitutes and a long forgotten murder?

Will McGuire and his team get the answers they want or is the uncomfortable truth much closer to home?

I’m very excited to be part of Liz Mistry’s Uncoiled Lies blog tour today.  Back in August I took part in Liz’s tour for her debut novel, Unquiet Souls, and Liz very kindly wrote a brilliant guest post about why crime does it for her.  If you’re new to the blog, or would just like a recap then please click here.

Anyhoo, back to the here and now and Liz’s brilliant new novel.  Today is publication day for Uncoiled Lies so before I do anything else I would like to wish author Liz Mistry and publisher Bloodhound Books a very happy book birthday!

I have an extract from Uncoiled Lies to pique your interest today and leave you wanting more.  So without further ado, let’s have a read and meet Shahid Khan…

 ‘Pick up for fuck’s sake!’ Shahid Khan paced the floor in front of his desk, phone tight to his ear.

When the number he’d dialled went to voicemail yet again, he turned and flung it, scattering the paperwork from his desk onto the floor. With a growl, he kicked the chair that stood nearby.

Anger reverberated through every muscle and laboured pants wracked his body as he tried to control himself. Why wasn’t she picking up? She’d promised him she’d phone at nine. What was she playing at? Shahid didn’t know who he was most angry with – her for letting him down or himself for caring so fucking much. He’d vowed never to let a woman have the sort of hold on him that Millie Green had once had on his dad. When she’d dumped him, and who could blame her after the way he treated her, his dad had been devastated and now here he was dangling on the end of the phone like an idiot. He took a deep breath, bit his lip and reminded himself that Trixie wasn’t like Millie and he was certainly nothing like his dad, but still the anger bubbled in his chest. He knew he’d have to do something about it before he exploded.

‘Fuck!’ He spat the word into the empty room and strode over to the annex in the corner where his punch bag hung – a hulk of malevolent shiny black leather, dangling in ominous silence, lit by a single spotlight casting its shadow over the real oak floor. Not bothering with the boxing gloves that lay on a shelf beside his weights, he thumped a bare-fisted one-two-one rhythm into the bag making it swing widely, forcing him to jump on the balls of his toes to avoid being hit on the rebound… again… faster.

After two minutes of pummelling, he was panting, sweat dripping from his brow. He stopped to catch his breath, relaxed his shoulders and looked at his bloodied knuckles. How many times had his trainer told him always to use the gloves? He flexed his fists, savouring the stinging stretch that made more blood ooze over his hands and gather in the creases between his fingers. Breathing steadier, he walked to the sink, flicked the cold tap on and watched as the water splashed his blood in abstract patterns onto the pristine ceramic – like one of the paint blot paintings Imti used to bring home from school when he was a kid. He smiled remembering how, in the absence of his dad’s loving presence and, with his step-mum’s indifference like a weight on his shoulders, he’d hugged the boy and carefully pinned Imti’s proud offerings all over the kitchen. He’d lost his sister years ago, but he wasn’t going to lose his baby brother – not a bloody chance!

***

Sounds so good!  I have a copy of Uncoiled Lies on my TBR so watch out for a review coming your way soon.

Uncoiled Lies by Liz Mistry was published in the UK by Bloodhound Books on 26th January 2017 and is available in paperback and eBook format | amazon.co.uk | amazon.com | Goodreads | Bloodhound Books |

uncoiled-lies-blog-tour-banner

copy-of-copy-of-smith-sons-1

lizAs well as writing crime fiction, Liz is co-founder of and main contributor to The Crime Warp blog, which reviews all areas of crime fiction, interviews crime authors and participates in blog tours.  She is the main publicist for the blog, using social media to promote our presence.

Liz is an ex teacher who has taught in inner city Bradford schools for over twenty years.  Her husband of 27 years is Indian and they have three children.  They live in inner city Bradford and Liz likes to use the rich tapestry of her life in Bradford, combined with her Scottish heritage, in her writing.

She is currently completing her dissertation for an MA in creative writing at Leeds Trinity University and hopes to graduate in December with a distinction.

Author Links:Facebook | Twitter | Blog |