#BookReview: In The Absence of Miracles by Michael J. Malone #InTheAbsenceofMiracles #damppebbles

in the absence of miracles.jpg

“John Docherty’s mother has just been taken into a nursing home following a massive stroke and she’s unlikely to be able to live independently again.

With no other option than to sell the family home, John sets about packing up everything in the house. In sifting through the detritus of his family’s past he’s forced to revisit, and revise his childhood.

For in a box, in the attic, he finds undeniable truth that he had a brother who disappeared when he himself was only a toddler. A brother no one ever mentioned. A brother he knew absolutely nothing about. A discovery that sets John on a journey from which he may never recover.

For sometimes in that space where memory should reside there is nothing but silence, smoke and ash. And in the absence of truth, in the absence of a miracle, we turn to prayer. And to violence.

Shocking, chilling and heartbreakingly emotive, In the Absence of Miracles is domestic noir at its most powerful, and a sensitively wrought portrait of a family whose shameful lies hide the very darkest of secrets.”

Hello and a very warm welcome to the blog. Today I am delighted to be sharing with you my review of one of the most powerful and emotive books I have read – In the Absence of Miracles by Michael J. Malone. Back in 2016, my book of the year was Malone’s first Orenda release, the simply sublime A Suitable Lie. It blew my mind on so many levels and still, to this day, I recommend it to everyone. If you’re a fan of domestic noir novels then you need to add Malone to your list of must-read authors. I received a free eARC of In the Absence of Miracles but that has in no way influenced my review.

I didn’t think it would be possible for someone (anyone!) to write a book which affected me the way A Suitable Lie did. That was until I read In the Absence of Miracles. Malone puts his heart and soul into his writing and you, as the reader, get to experience every heart-stopping emotion and every breath-taking twist and turn. I love that Malone isn’t scared to tackle the more difficult and unsettling subject matters, the things we as a society tend to turn and shy away from. In the Absence of Miracles is another brave, unflinching, unapologetic look at the secrets a family hides within its heart, and it left me broken.

I liked John Docherty. He doesn’t make it easy at times and I wouldn’t necessarily call him a likeable character but this is his story. His discovery, his unravelling, his trauma. I liked how Malone has written John as a pretty typical bloke (if there is such a thing!). It was interesting to watch how John dealt with situations early on in the book, giving us the measure of the character, before plunging him into an unimaginable, heart-breaking situation as the reality hits home. My heart broke into a thousand pieces and I cried for John Docherty.

The author does an incredible job of misleading his reader. You think you know where the story is going, only for Malone to step in and completely change everything you thought you knew. I had an inkling about where the plot was headed but I was by no means convinced. When the book took me to that dark and scary place, I was devastated for the characters. I was living that moment, that sudden realisation as the horror hits home. No one writes like Malone does. No one can conjure these emotions in this hardened reader like he does.
Would I recommend this book? Absolutely. Malone has done it again and written a book which will stay with me for a long, long time to come. I’ve not found another writer who can produce stories with the pure power and emotion to rival Malone. Unforgettable and haunting. Dark and utterly immersive. I can’t wait to see what this author comes up with next. Highly recommended.

I chose to read and review an eARC of In the Absence of Miracles. The above review is my own unbiased opinion.

In the Absence of Miracles by Michael J. Malone was published in the UK by Orenda Books on 19th September 2019 and is available in paperback, audio and digital formats (please note, the following links are affiliate links which mean I receive a small percentage of the purchase price at no extra cost to you): | amazon.co.uk | Waterstones | Foyles | Book Depository | Goodreads |

about-the-author3

Michael Malone Photo

Michael J Malone is the author of over 200 published poems, two poetry collections, six novels, countless articles and one work of non-fiction.

Formerly a Faber and Faber Regional Sales Manager (Scotland and North England), he has judged and critiqued countless poetry, short story and novel competitions for a variety of organisations, and for a number of years was the Scottish correspondent for Writers’ Forum.

Michael is an experienced workshop leader/ creative writing lecturer to writers’ groups, schools and colleges as well as a personal coach and mentor. He has a Certificate in Life Coaching and studied as a facilitator with The Pacific Institute.

As a freelance editor he has edited and mentored writers in a variety of genres and for traditionally published as well as self-published authors.

He is a regular speaker and chair at book festivals throughout the UK– including Aye Write, Bloody Scotland, Crimefest and Wigtown.

Author Links: | Facebook | Twitter | Website |

#BlogTour | #BookReview: After He Died by Michael J. Malone (@michaelJmalone1) @OrendaBooks #AfterHeDied

thumbnail_AFTER HE DIED cover

“You need to know who your husband really was…

When Paula Gadd’s husband of almost thirty years dies, just days away from the seventh anniversary of their son, Christopher’s death, her world falls apart. Grieving and bereft, she is stunned when a young woman approaches her at the funeral service, and slips something into her pocket. A note suggesting that Paula’s husband was not all that he seemed…

When the two women eventually meet, a series of revelations challenges everything Paula thought they knew, and it becomes immediately clear that both women’s lives are in very real danger.

Both a dark, twisty slice of domestic noir and taut, explosive psychological thriller, After He Died is also a chilling reminder that the people we trust the most can harbour the deadliest secrets…”

I am delighted to welcome you to damppebbles today and to my stop on the After He Died blog tour. After He Died is the latest release from one of my favourite authors, Michael J. Malone and is currently available in eBook format with the Orenda Books paperback publishing later this week on Thursday 20th September 2018.

As soon as I hear Michael J. Malone has a new book coming out, I want a copy! For those of you who are new to damppebbles, Malone’s first Orenda release, A Suitable Lie absolutely blew my socks off (and then some!) back in 2016. It was my book of the year and I still, to this day, recommend it to EVERYONE! Here’s my review if you missed it the first time, and if you haven’t purchased a copy yet, then you MUST! I’m also a massive fan of Malone’s self-published gritty Scottish crime series featuring the ‘rough-around-the-edges’ DI, Ray McBain. Another must read if you haven’t already discovered this series yet. So new Michael J. Malone titles immediately kick the book craving into gear, particularly those published by Orenda Books. I love a gritty police procedural like the McBain series, they’re my bread and butter and Malone excels at writing them. But his novels published via Orenda Books are very different; they’re domestic noir thrillers that set a benchmark so high, others can only dream of achieving what he does. They’re chock full of heart, with real living, breathing characters. And more often than not, they take my breath away. They have so much soul, there’s so much emotion between the pages and the unease the reader feels is really quite glorious.

After He Died is another top-notch domestic thriller from the twisted mind and pen of Michael J. Malone. Another page-turner full of secrets and lies; you never know what to believe! The unease I felt whilst reading was palpable and I very much enjoyed every moment I spent in Paula and Cara’s company. Did I like them? Well…I didn’t hate them. I found myself strongly disliking Thomas from quite early on which was rather unfair of me as he is the ‘he’ who has died. I can’t say I liked Paula or Cara but I was definitely on their side, wanting to solve the mystery, urging them on to discover the truth.

Would I recommend this book? I would. If you want a surefire, guaranteed good read then Michael J. Malone’s After He Died is the book for you. Or any other of Malone’s books actually, they’re all wonderful compulsive reads that I’ve struggled to put down. Malone knows how to write a character; whether it’s someone to love or someone to hate, eliciting that emotion is what is all about and Malone does that with ease and lashings of style. After He Died is bulging with secrets, it has a wonderfully Scottish edge that will appeal to many readers – you feel as though you’re reading something very special. Recommended.

Four stars out of five.

I chose to read and review an ARC of After He Died. The above review is my own unbiased opinion.

After He Died by Michael J. Malone was published in the UK by Orenda Books on 20th September 2018 and is available in paperback and eBook formats (please note, some of the following links are affiliate links which means I receive a small percentage of the purchase price at no extra cost to you): | amazon.co.uk | amazon.com | Waterstones | BookDepository | Goodreads |

After He Died Blog Tour Poster.jpg

about-the-author3

Michael Malone Photo

Michael J Malone is the author of over 200 published poems, two poetry collections, six novels, countless articles and one work of non-fiction.

Formerly a Faber and Faber Regional Sales Manager (Scotland and North England), he has judged and critiqued countless poetry, short story and novel competitions for a variety of organisations, and for a number of years was the Scottish correspondent for Writers’ Forum.

Michael is an experienced workshop leader/ creative writing lecturer to writers’ groups, schools and colleges as well as a personal coach and mentor. He has a Certificate in Life Coaching and studied as a facilitator with The Pacific Institute.

As a freelance editor he has edited and mentored writers in a variety of genres and for traditionally published as well as self-published authors.

He is a regular speaker and chair at book festivals throughout the UK– including Aye Write, Bloody Scotland, Crimefest and Wigtown.

Author Links: | Facebook | Twitter | Website |

#BlogTour | #BookReview: Blood Tears by Michael J. Malone (@michaelJmalone1) @grabthisbook #BloodTears #DIRayMcBain

blood tears cover.jpg“The first in a series of books with D.I. Ray McBain – a Glasgow detective who turns to his best friend, Kenny O’Neill when he goes on the run after he becomes the prime suspect in a grisly murder. 

An old man is found murdered in his Glasgow flat. DI Ray McBain is called to the scene and is the first to notice that the man’s wounds mirror the Stigmata. The police quickly discover that the victim is a former janitor who worked in several care homes where he abused his charges. Is someone taking revenge thirty years after the fact?

McBain, as a child was a resident of Bethlehem House, a Catholic run care home where the murdered man worked and early on in the investigation, McBain decides to hide a crucial bit of evidence relating to his stay in the convent orphanage.

When his superiors find out, McBain becomes the prime suspect in the case and has to make a decision which will leave him on the run and alone, trying to solve the murders and, at the same time, the puzzle of his past – a past that is pushing into the present with a recurring suffocating dream of blood and feathers that descends on him every night.”

It is my great pleasure to welcome you to my stop on the Blood Tears blog tour.  Blood Tears is the first book in the DI Ray McBain series written by Michael J. Malone, and it has recently been given a fantastic new makeover!  I first discovered Malone’s books a couple of years ago when I read A Suitable Lie; it blew me away.  Beautiful, haunting and oh so powerful, it was an easy choice for my book of 2016.  Since then I have read several other works by this author and loved each and every one of them.  Blood Tears was no different.

A brilliantly graphic and gory start pulls the reader straight into this hard-hitting story.  I’m a strange creature (maybe) and I have before confessed to loving crime novels which revolve around religious practices and institutions.  And oh boy, this one certainly does.  DI Ray McBain is called to investigate the grisly murder scene and immediately notices something no one else has; the victim’s wounds mirror Stigmata.  Having had a lonely childhood in the local Catholic orphanage, Ray is all too familiar with the marks.  What he doesn’t realise, as he starts to investigate the killing, is that he’s going to have to confront those childhood traumas head-on.  Straight back to the malicious Sister Mary and memories of his lonely, far from perfect childhood at Bethlehem House.  Desperate to stay on the case, determined to find the killer, Ray makes a catastrophic mistake and convinces a younger officer to lie on his behalf. Before long DI Ray McBain is their number one suspect and on the run.  Can McBain solve the case from afar and clear his name before it’s too late…

I loved Ray McBain (how could I not?!).  I do like my lead characters to have ‘something’ about them, something that makes them a little more, shall we say, interesting…?  Ray is certainly that.  He knows right from wrong but in the interests of the investigation, there are certain lines which he is more than happy to blur a little.  And as for his mate, well, he’s a local ‘businessman’ who doesn’t seem to care how criminal the business he’s in is as long as the money keeps rolling in!  It wasn’t just Ray and BFF Kenny who had my full attention.  Virtually every character created by Malone in Blood Tears stands strong and brings something worthwhile to the story.

Would I recommend this book?  I would.  This is a strong, well-written piece of crime noir and I enjoyed every moment I spent in the company of Malone’s characters.  There are wonderful dashes of laugh out loud humour dotted here and there which bring a lightness to the intense, terrifying plot.  This isn’t a story for the faint hearted though; with language which made me blush and many references to bumping uglies*, I was a suitable shade of scarlet at times! Incredibly dark and brilliantly gripping; I can’t wait to read A Taste for Malice (DI McBain #2).

Four out of five stars.

*Google it, if you dare!

Blood Tears by Michael J. Malone was first published in the UK in June 2012 and is available in eBook format (please note, some of the following links are affiliate links): | amazon.co.uk | amazon.com | Waterstones | Goodreads |

Blood Tears Tour Dates.jpg

about the author3

Michael Malone PhotoMichael J Malone is the author of over 200 published poems, two poetry collections, six novels, countless articles and one work of non-fiction.

Formerly a Faber and Faber Regional Sales Manager (Scotland and North England), he has judged and critiqued countless poetry, short story and novel competitions for a variety of organisations, and for a number of years was the Scottish correspondent for Writers’ Forum.

Michael is an experienced workshop leader/ creative writing lecturer to writers’ groups, schools and colleges as well as a personal coach and mentor. He has a Certificate in Life Coaching and studied as a facilitator with The Pacific Institute.

As a freelance editor he has edited and mentored writers in a variety of genres and for traditionally published as well as self-published authors.

He is a regular speaker and chair at book festivals throughout the UK– including Aye Write, Bloody Scotland, Crimefest and Wigtown.

Author Links: | Facebook | Twitter | Website |

#BlogTour | #BookReview: Dog Fight by Michael J. Malone (@michaelJmalone1) @SarabandBooks

Dog Fight by [Malone, Michael J]“Kenny O’Neill, a villain with a conscience, returns in a hard-hitting thriller of exploitation, corruption and criminal gangs.

When Kenny’s cousin, Ian, comes to the aid of a fellow ex-squaddie in a heap of trouble, he gets caught up in the vicious underground fight scene, where callous criminals prey on the vulnerable, damaged and homeless.

With Ian in too deep to escape, Kenny has no option other than to infiltrate the gang for the sake of his family.

Kenny is an experienced MMA fighter, as tough as they come, but has he found himself in the one fight he can never win?”

I am absolutely delighted to welcome you to my stop on the Dog Fight blog tour.  Dog Fight‘s author, Michael J Malone was responsible for my book of 2016.  He created the incredible, emotional psychological thriller A Suitable Lie and since then I’ve been incredibly keen to read his other work.  So when I was asked to join the blog tour for his new release, I jumped at the chance.

**IF YOU HAVE READ PREVIOUS BOOKS IN THIS SERIES PLEASE BE AWARE THAT THIS REVIEW CONTAINS SPOILERS SO READ ON AT YOUR OWN RISK**  I do everything I can to avoid spoilers in my reviews but having not read this series previously it was rather hard.  It has been pointed out by a lovely person that the following review does unintentionally contain spoilers (thank you lovely person) and instead of rewriting the whole thing I’ve decided to add this warning!  YOU HAVE BEEN WARNED!!  DON’T SAY I DIDN’T WARN YOU….

Michael J. Malone is known for his crime series featuring DI Ray McBain and Kenny O’Neill.  Having only read A Suitable Lie previously, I was interested to discover that some of Malone’s previous titles feature McBain whilst others mainly feature O’Neill (with the other always appearing alongside).  Dog Fight is Kenny’s story but I was thrilled to find Ray McBain making a cameo role as I’ve heard so many positive things about this character.

I thoroughly enjoyed this book.  It’s gritty, raw and I loved how incredibly Scottish it is. Michael J. Malone’s writing is compelling and I was drawn into the dark and murky underground fight scene.  I absolutely loved the characters.  Kenny, and to some degree McBain, are new favourites of mine (McBain didn’t feature as much in the story but I’m determined to read the first DI McBain novel, Blood Tears as soon as possible).  I also really like Kenny’s cousin, Ian who plays a pivotal role in the story.  These guys are ex-military, some of them are down on their luck, living in the gutters but a lot of the characters had real heart and that appealed.  Others didn’t so much, but that also appealed as they were the shady characters lining up fights amongst the wounded and the broken of Glasgow’s streets.

The plot was intense, quite brutal in places and I loved it.  The story really pulls you in, sticks you in a choke hold and doesn’t let go.  It’s not my usual type of crime thriller but it was exactly what I needed.  The right book at the right time.  I would gladly read more gangster-type novels on the back of this (particularly if we’re talking about Kenny O’Neill).

Kenny is a very naughty boy and the relationship between him and DI McBain is very intriguing.  How can a police DI and a local gangster become pals?  Well, there’s only one thing for it.  I’ll have to read all of the other books in the series and find out for myself.  They’re already loaded onto my Kindle so it’s just finding the time to fit them into my reading schedule.  Shouldn’t be too hard, huh?

Would I recommend this book?  I would.  Particularly if you’re a fan of police procedurals and fancy seeing things from a slightly different perspective.  I love Michael J. Malone’s writing and I love his characters.  Dog Fight is very different to A Suitable Lie but it was a great read which I really enjoyed.  Mr Malone, it’s official, I’m a fan of your work. Highly recommended.

Four out of five stars.

I chose to read and review an ARC of Dog Fight.  The above review is my own unbiased opinion.

Dog Fight by Michael J. Malone was published in the UK by Contraband on 6th April 2017 and is available in paperback and eBook format | amazon.co.uk | amazon.com | Waterstones | Goodreads |

Dog Fight blogtour.png

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

Michael-J-Malone-345x237.jpg

Michael J. Malone is the author of four crime novels: Blood Tears, which won the Pitlochry Prize from the Scottish Association of Writers, A Taste for Malice, Beyond the Rage and 2016’s Bad Samaritan. His thriller The Guillotine Choice is the amazing true story of an innocent man’s time in the notorious Devil’s Island penal colony.

Author Links: | Saraband.net | Facebook | Website | Twitter |

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

unnamed-1

Smith & Sons (11)

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

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

Author Links: Facebook | Twitter | Website |