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

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

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

Is this his handiwork?

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

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

Why?

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

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

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

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

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

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

Four out of five stars.

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

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

Smith & Sons (11)

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

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

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

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

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

Author Links: | Website | Twitter | Goodreads |

 

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*Blog Tour: Guest Post* When The Killing Starts by R C Bridgestock

51tfBIhhASL._SX321_BO1,204,203,200_“Crime is a way of life for the Devlin brothers. Groomed at an early age and trained as criminals by local gangsters, the Devlin brothers get their thrill out of creating fear amongst their victims. They have a macabre pact; not to be arrested or caged. Brutality hits the town of Harrowfield when the scourge of the community is found dead, his companion slaughtered. The locals react with praise for the killers. The same day firefighters respond to a fire but lose the fight to save Merton Manor.  Amongst the debris two bodies are discovered; executed. As Dylan struggles to cope with the pressure, armed officers await his judgement call. Can he remain professional or will he release his anger?”

It is my pleasure to welcome R C Bridgestock to damppebbles today as part of their blog tour.  I am handing the reigns of my little blog over to the lovely Carol and Bob to celebrate the publication of their seventh DI Jack Dylan novel (which happens to be tomorrow, that’s Thursday 30th June 2016).  Over to you #TeamDylan.

Bob dealt with hundreds of dead bodies in his 30 year detective led police career; he has met cold blooded murderers who show no iota of remorse – and then he retired and became co-author of the Detective Inspector Jack Dylan’ series with his wife Carol.

unnamed (2)Bob had reached the rank of Detective Superintendent, Senior Investigative Officer, in
charge of major incidents for West Yorkshire Police, the fourth largest force in the country. But, at just 51, he knew it was time to stop.
Id see more horrific sights in a couple of weeks than most people see in a lifetime,’ he says. So, with his wife Carol, also in the Force as a support officer, they retired to the Isle of Wight, where the plot of their lives took an unlikely turn. They became authors.

‘Wed watch TV detective dramas/read books and Bob would say: It would never be done like that!, says Carol. ‘Youd never want to live in Midsomer, would you!’ returns Bob. ‘Think how much it would cost to insure your house!

Actually writing their own book seemed as unlikely a turn of events as many in that TV drama. ‘I had a lifetime of cases but I didnt consider myself a writer. I dont even read a lot. In fact I  often wonder whether Tom Sawyer ever finished painting that fence,’ he jokes, recalling the unfinished book he was given for good attendance at Sunday School.

Yet one day he saw an advert for a writing course at the Isle of Wight College, and enrolled himself and Carol. The result was Deadly Focus, a novel which has been well received by public and police alike. The couple have gone on to write six more books, the second, Consequences, third White Lilies, fourth Snow Kills, fifth Reprobates, sixth Killer Smile and the seventh When The Killing Starts publication date 30th June 2016.

Carol describes how two people can work on one book. I say to Bob: How dyou see Vicky, (the main characters sidekick). Bob saysI see her like Joanne Froggatt (Downton).So we can both imagine her, physically, then her character is based on someone we both knew well.’

Plots not a problem: it was Bobs life.

unnamed (8)It’s hard to square the circle between Bobs very talkative avuncular comedian personality and the dogged and hard-faced policeman you see in the newspaper cuttings. For even in the fuzziest little newspaper picture, Bob appears as a human mask, exhausted eyes peering out of fixed pallid face. ‘There were times I was dealing with six murder enquiries at once,’ he says.

Bobs early brushes with the law should have turned him off the idea of policing. ‘When I was five my elder brother picked a fog warning detonator off the railway line and told me hed got me a watch,’ grins Bob. ‘I was given a clip round the ear by the policeman. That didnt seem fair!

Bob, born in 1952, was one of five siblings in the small Yorkshire village of Marsden, on the border with Lancashire. Although his father was working there wasnt much money to feed a large family. ‘We used to hide under the stairs from either the lightening or the rent man,’ he grins. It was a life of hand-me-downs and making do. ‘My dad used to repair all the shoes: for two years I thought I had a club foot, because one foot was higher than the other!’

unnamed (4)He had two paper rounds before walking a mile and a half to school. ‘But,’ he says, ‘you just got on with it. Everyone did.’ He made it to grammar school, but Bob didnt take his GCEs. ‘I was offered a job at the butchers where id worked on a Saturday and decided to take it.’He had two paper rounds before walking a mile and a half to school. ‘But,’ he says, ‘you

You cant avoid assuming the slaughterhouse went some way to preparing him for the blood and gore he was to come across later. It was now that he had a second run-in with the police. ‘I was travelling home by bus, with my blood-stained butchers smock under my arm. Suddenly the bus stopped, I get another clip round the ear for wasting police time and had to walk home. I dont know what they thought Id done.

Bob could have become a cynical decrier of the law. Another time he was thrown into a van with an Alsatian snapping at him, for no good reason. But somewhere in Bobs mind was the idea that policemen should be more like televisions Dixon of Dock Green. ‘I thought somewhere there must be a nice police officer.

Bob qualified as a butcher, but by now he was married and the money was poor. So he left to work at the local dye works, an unforgiving place where he saw colleagues with terrible burns. ‘Id blow my nose and give off blue dye, and thought this cant be healthy.’ He stuck it for two years and then, taking a massive cut in pay, he joined the police force. The training was harsh. ‘In the first fortnight, I had my hair cut six times! We learnt to march, press our own uniform, bull our boots. You used to parade at 2 or 3 oclock in the morning. I used to say to myself ‘what the hell am I doing here?’

unnamed (1)Two years and several exams later Bob was working five weeks of night duty, marching out on the streets of Huddersfield in his too-tight helmet and collar which rubbed. His dogged determination and fearlessness led to promotion, and Bob became a detective. He soon learnt that catching criminals had an element of luck or otherwise. ‘Me and a colleague were watching a timber yard which had had been subject to arson attacks. We were there seven nights. On the eighth, a girl called Helen Rytka was murdered just yards from where wed been sat: a victim of the Yorkshire Ripper.’ He pauses. ‘Just one more night and hed have been well and truly caught.’

The Ripper case, then in its latter stages, was just one of very many high profile murders that Bob would see over the years, and it is a prime example of the way a case takes over the lives of those dealing with it. ‘There was so much criticism over the case that Sutcliffe (eventually convicted) was questioned but let go several times it destroyed the lives of those in charge.’

But being the man in chargewas something he aspired to. As a uniformed sergeant in Calderdale he was told: We dont go into that pub, they dont like police!‘Well, it was like a red rag to a bull! If you dont nip behaviour in the bud it just goes on.’

unnamed (7)Pleased to cast off the uniform again, he became a detective working on the infamous Sarah Harper murder, the little girl who went to buy a loaf of bread and never came back. Equally chilling were the Boarded Barn murders in Cheshire, where an ill-conceived attempt at kidnap and extortion led to the utterly callous murders of two young mothers. The team was commended for solving the crime, and Bob was promoted. As Detective Inspector he was given the Denis Hoban Trophy for outstanding detective work. Bob mentions this and his other commendations not with any arrogance but with an air of gratitude that his efforts have been noted. It is Carol who points out that most officers dont get anything like the 20 certificates of commendation that Bob has accumulated over the years.

Bob became Detective Chief Inspector and held the post for seven years. He spent four years at Wakefield Detective School training future senior detectives; he became a hostage negotiator, and trained others in the art: ‘Fortunately, on incidents I went to I never lost anybody.’

unnamed (3)His biggest fear was, being in the middle of six death-related cases at once, hed
blather out the name of the wrong victim to a relative. ‘One of them was the Huddersfield fire case (where petrol bombs were thrown through the window and petrol poured through the letter box killed seven in an Asian family). ‘Lovely family, but it was easy to pronounce the Asian names wrongly.’ In that case, the survivors wanted the victims flown home to Pakistan, a
nd Bob, arranged all this. ‘I was the man in charge,’ he says, adding: ‘Don
t get me wrong, youve got forensic, youve got pathology but its you that makes the decisions that will make or break the enquiry. So you go to the mortuary, you endure the very terrible sights and smells because you need to understand the nature of the injuries.’

Getting a feel for the atmosphere of a crime scene was important, too. One thing he found frustrating was that, as he rose to be DCI he was no longer allowed to interview suspects because the rank of Det Chief Inspector was deemed to be intimidating to suspects. ‘You learn so much from being face to face with people.’ For the Dylan series he resorted to reducing hisrank, because suspect interviews were an essential tool of the plot.

Bob believes two things are essential in policing. The first is common sense. ‘People say youre breaching criminalshuman rights.Hang on a minute! If you steal youre a thief; you dont swear because its rude. If you cross that line and injure or kill you should forfeit those human rights.’

The second is keeping a sense of humour. He talks about the man in charge of the mortuary who had a pacemaker, who was on the lookout for a free upgrade. Gallows humour maybe, but an essential pressure release.

Despite his relentless exposure to callousness he retained his belief in people. He recalls with pleasure people who went out of their way to thank him: the wife of one victim, have-a-go heroKevin Jackson, bought him a pair of slippers so he wouldnt worry about bringing muddy shoes into peoples homes.

unnamed (5)A sweet thought in a world of cynicism. Bob, when he became Detective Superintendent, had 26 murders in his last three years alone, as well as 50 suspicious deaths and 23 major incidents. In true Detective hero style, he had a maverick approach to the task. ‘We knew who killed Kevin Jackson because wed got a DNA match from under his finger nails. So I got photos of the suspects and did the press conference in front of the photos which Id had blown up into massive posters!’ Legally sensitive, perhaps, but Bobs argument was were looking for murderers here.

As the face of the news conference, wasnt he fearful of backlashes? ‘No, providing youve been right with them theyre right with you. Ive always treated people the way Id want to be treated. I go back to these influences from earlier,’ he says, referring to all those uncalled-for clips round the ear ‘Police shouldnt treat people like that.’ When in the midst of a case, members of the public would come up to him when he and Carol were doing the weekly shop with their own suggestions: ‘Here, Bob, had you thought it might be so-and-so that did it?!’ Carol laughs: ‘We couldnt get round Sainsburys without someone coming up to us!’

unnamed (6)Their lighthearted approach belies the reality that there were no real days off. His catalogue of cases is relentless. He spent days at a time in the mortuary and TV post-mortems go nowhere to prepare for the real thing and there were nights when Carol didnt even know hed come to bed at all. But he couldnt rest until that case was finished because if you relaxed there might just be something, something that you miss.  In the end his body told him to quit. He found, getting out of the car one night, he was frozen to the spot. His doctor suggested it was time to stop. ‘If you dont step away you get sucked into a vacuum of sadness,’ says Bob.

Thirty years seemed a reasonable innings, and the Isle of Wight has had its fabled relaxing affect on this non-stop policeman and his wife. ‘Being in the Force meant I understood the demands of the job,’ says Carol. ‘And I love him, so of course I supported him.Some people say Jen, is too good but we tell it as it is – in a fictional tale.

10572212_724226717696085_6988507816097066973_oNow, as well as the couple getting their DI Dylan books published by Caffeine Nights
Publishers, Kent they have also found a super literary agent in David Headley (DHH Literary Agency, London). They are also active Patrons of three charities and Ambassadors for two others. Why? ‘I thought I worked hard,’ says Bob. ‘But these people, they just give everything.

The DI Jack Dylan series of books is available from all good book shops and online.

Thank you so much R C Bridgestock.  What a fascinating guest post and great to learn about the real experiences of senior detective.

When the Killing Starts by R C Bridgestock was published in the UK by Caffeine Nights Publishing on 30th June 2016 and in available in paperback and eBook formats | amazon.co.uk | amazon.com | Waterstones |

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Smith & Sons (11)

RT 4 Bob & Carol 89764 RTThe D.I. Dylan series of books by RC Bridgestock (Husband and wife writing team, Bob and Carol Bridgestock) comes from a unique perspective of a collective real life experience of high level policing of 47 years.

The couple are consultant storyline/police procedure for Sally Waintwright on 2014 police drama series for BBC 1 Happy Valley and are also consultant storyline advisors/police procedural to Red Productions Ltd for ITV 1 Scott & Bailey & general police advice.

Bob and Carol are represented by David Headley, DHH Literary Agency.  Connect with R C Bridgestock via Twitter @RCBridgestock and on Facebook.