blog tour, books, reviews

Blog Tour: Hunter’s Rules – Val Penny


When best-laid plans go awry…
Hunter and Meera’s romantic plans come to an abrupt end when they stumble into the scene of a crime.
A young woman was attacked in a hotel lift. She has traumatic injuries, but she clings to life. Hunter notes that her wounds are like those inflicted on two other women, who died from their ordeal.
Can Meera keep the injured woman alive long enough for her to identify the assailant? Is the same person responsible for all three crimes?
When Hunter is identified as a suspect, can he establish his innocence and lead his team to solve the crime and keep Edinburgh safe?

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Amazon US Hunter’s Chase Hunter’s Revenge Hunter’s Force Hunter’s Blood
Hunter’s Secret Let’s Get Published Dark Scotland The First Cut

Val Penny’s other crime novels, Hunter’s Chase Hunter’s Revenge, Hunter’s Force Hunter’s Blood and Hunter’s Secret form the bestselling series The Edinburgh Crime Mysteries. They are set in Edinburgh, Scotland, published by darkstroke. Her first non-fiction book Let’s Get Published is also available now and she has most
recently contributed her short story, Cats and Dogs to a charity anthology, Dark Scotland.
Val is an American author living in SW Scotland with her husband and their cat.

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My thoughts: the crime in this book is horrific, following two women found dead with their eyes gouged out and their blood full of Rohypnol, a third victim is found, thankfully alive but still brutally injured. Hunter and his team spare no time in searching for the monster doing this, it all seems wrapped in a mystery – who is this man who doesn’t want to be seen on camera, there’s several suspects, all of whom are up to no good. Can the team unravel this and stop another woman being blinded?

The pace is cracking, and from no suspects, there are suddenly quite a few, they all seem connected and all have plenty to hide from the police, even if they aren’t the killer. There’s plenty to keep the procurator fiscal busy once the arrests begin, and the police all have busy personal lives too. An enjoyable, if gory, crime read.

*I was kindly gifted a copy of this book in exchange for taking part in the blog tour but all opinions remain my own.

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blog tour, books, reviews

Blog Tour: A Nose for Mischief – K.T. Lee

When materials engineer Zoey Butler lands her dream job at Future State Energy, she believes her research in renewable energy will make headlines. Unfortunately for her, she’s right. Zoey is working on her latest experiment when FBI Special Agent Alexis Thompson and her K-9 partner, Waffle, raid Future State and arrest the head of the development for fraud. Zoey helps the FBI find answers in the aftermath, but she soon finds herself jobless and unemployable. Desperate and out of options, she reaches out to Alexis, the one person who knows Zoey was duped like everyone else.
Liam Graham is an FBI special agent and instructor at Riverbend K-9 Academy. When Alexis brings in a new recruit with an unusual background, Liam pairs her up with Tasha, a dog in need of a handler
to stay in their competitive program. Zoey is thrilled to put her past behind her and give the mischievous rescue dog her own second chance. However, shortly after she arrives, the FBI realizes the Future State case is far from closed. And Zoey may be the key to solving it.
Zoey offers to go back to Future State to help the FBI end things once and for all. Only this time, she’ll have Liam and Tasha for backup. But, the problems at Future State are more explosive than any of
them suspect.

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K.T. Lee is a writer, mom, and engineer who grew up on a steady diet of books from a wide variety of genres. She’s the author of multiple books, including those in the Riverbend K-9 Series and The
Calculated Series.
Find out more and get the latest updates (and a free prequel novella!) on the website.
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My thoughts: this was a fun crime rom com, with dogs. Zoey is a scientist who worked for a company that was investigated by the FBI, she lost her job and decides that the Bureau needs to help her rebuild her life. With dogs.

Joining the K-9 training program, she gets the chance to go undercover at her old job and find the person who wrecked everything. With dogs.

I loved it, it was clever and funny and sweet, and did I mention there are dogs? And a hunky agent keeping Zoey safe, with dogs.

*I was kindly gifted a copy of this book in exchange for taking part in the blog tour but all opinions remain my own.

blog tour, books, reviews

Blog Tour: Murder on High – Paula Williams

Remember, abseiling is only the second fastest way down a church tower.’
The note pinned to the teddy bear lying at the foot of the church tower could have been a joke – if it hadn’t been for the body on the path next to it!
Somebody wants to make very sure that everyone knows this was not an accident or suicide. But why?
Suddenly, no one in the village has any enthusiasm for the Teddy Bear Abseil, planned to raise money for the children’s play area, as, once again, a murderer walks the narrow, twisty streets of
the small Somerset village of Much Winchmoor.
And, once again, Kat Latcham, reporter/dog walker/barmaid and occasional reluctant hair salon gopher, finds herself unwillingly dragged into a murder investigation.
This fourth Much Winchmoor mystery is spiked with humour and sprinkled with romance.
And, of course, one carefully planned, coldly executed murder.
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Paula Williams is living her dream. She’s written all her life – her earliest efforts involved blackmailing her unfortunate younger brothers into appearing in her plays and pageants. But it’s only in recent
years that she discovered, to her surprise, that people with better judgement than her brothers actually liked what she wrote and were prepared to pay her for it.
Now, she writes every day in a lovely, book-lined study in her home in Somerset, UK, where she lives with her husband and a handsome but not always obedient rescue dog, a Dalmatian called Duke.
She is very proud to be a member of both the UK Romantic Novelists’ Association and the Crime Writers’ Association.
Her Much Winchmoor Mysteries are based in a small Somerset village which bears in uncanny resemblance to her own – although none of her friends and neighbours have murderous tendencies –
as far as she knows! Her novels often feature a murder or two, a dog and cat or two and are always spiked with humour and sprinkled with a touch of romance.
Paula is, indeed, living her dream. But she worries that one day she’s going to wake up and find she still has to bully her brothers into performing ‘the play what she wrote’.

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My thoughts: I do enjoy these crime novels set in rural English villages where the suspects are probably people you know. They’re often a lot of fun – as this one is. I loved the idea of a Teddy Bear Abseil, shame about the dead body putting people off!

It is a bit worrying though how often these villages harbour murderers, though luckily in this case Kat is on hand to solve the crime for the local police and apprehend the killer. Bits of the book are also very funny, all in all a greatly enjoyable read. More please!

*I was kindly gifted a copy of this book in exchange for taking part in the blog tour but all opinions remain my own

blog tour, books, reviews

Blog Tour: Strangers’ Kingdom – Brandon Barrows

Politically blacklisted detective Luke Campbell’s last chance in law-enforcement is a job with the police department of rural Granton, Vermont. It’s a beautiful town, home to a beautiful, intriguing girl who’s caught his eye, and it’s a chance at redemption. Even if his new boss seems strange, secretive, and vaguely sinister, Campbell is willing to give this opportunity a shot. And no sooner does he make that decision than the first in a series of murders is discovered, starting a chain of events that will change the lives of everyone in this once-quiet town…

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Excerpt
May 1992
The tall bag of bones swung a vicious right that seemed to whistle in the stillness of the thin night air, scraping through the empty space between my chin and throat, just barely avoiding contact with flesh. Seemingly in the same motion, as if using the momentum from his swinging fist, he turned and dashed off into the dim recesses of the alley he'd been hanging around the mouth of — for hours, if Rosalie Stompanato was to be believed. I had no reason to doubt her.
“Police! Get back here!” Shouting was pointless, but I had to try. I gave chase to the already- vanished figure, plunging after him into the deeper darkness between two aging apartment houses. My fist, which I only then realized I was making, unclenched and I reached for the holster under my left shoulder, muttering, “God damn it.”
It was pushing midnight and in just over nine hours, both Rosalie Stompanato and I were due in court for the attempted murder trial of her mid-level racketeer husband, Thomas “Tommy Stomper” Stompanato. Stompanato, loosely connected to the much larger Castella crime organization, had been on a lot of people's radars for years, for everything from small-time protection rackets to credit card scams and money laundering for bigger outfits. Major investigations by Albany city police, New York state police and even federal authorities produced charges and convictions against numerous Stompanato pawns, and even a couple of lieutenants, but Tommy Stomper himself somehow always remained clean enough to skate away. It took a domestic situation, a middle of the night, literal knock- down-drag-out in which he pulled Mrs. Stompanato out of their lavish home in suburban Malta and, according to witnesses and Rosalie herself, tried to remove her teeth with the aid of a conveniently placed curb. “Stomper” wasn't just a clever play on his family name.
When I got the tip about a disturbance at the Stompanato residence from a state-trooper friend, I couldn't help being just a bit grateful for this bit of rage-fueled stupidity. The man had been so clever for so long that it looked like he'd never fuck up, that we'd never find the crack that would pull open his operation and let us drag him out into the light. For Rosalie Stompanato, it was a nightmare, but a lot of us who were after her husband felt gratitude and guilt in equal measures. One woman's nightmare was a godsend for multiple agencies.
After the incident, Rosalie Stompanato moved out of her stylish home in nearby Malta to a small apartment in the area where she grew up, inside the city proper. Family and friends she knew there were long gone, but the return to a familiar place apparently brought a measure of comfort. It was understandable and it made both the county prosecutor's work in prepping her for the trial, and my department's in protecting her, that much easier. Despite the charges against him, not to mention his associations, Stompanato made bail and his organization worked on. With a trial looming over his head, but no date set, the mobster seemed to keep his nose relatively clean, knowing the state's attorney would be more than happy to tack additional charges onto the list he was already facing. That and time, as weeks became months, allowed Rosalie Stompanato to make a life for herself unmolested.
“At least the kids are already grown and out on their own,” Rosalie told me once, in a private moment. “If this happened ten years ago...” She broke down without finishing, but I knew what she was thinking.
I kept in regular touch with her after that, partially because I felt she needed the support, but also hoping to pick up something that would further widen the chink in Tommy Stomper's armor. She seemed to be doing as well as could be expected. She was even starting to feel safe again, she told me — until the night before the trial finally began.
It was past eleven o'clock when I received the woman's call; I'd given her my home number and told her to call any time, for any reason. She noticed a figure, she said —a tall, gangly man she didn't remember ever seeing in the neighborhood before, who spent hours standing in the mouth of the alley directly across from her apartment.
“It's probably nothing,” I told her, as much to convince myself. Tommy Stomper proved he wasn't stupid, but with so much riding on the events of the next day, maybe he was becoming desperate. “But I'm happy to check it out.”
When I arrived on Rosalie's street, fifteen minutes after her call, I saw exactly who she was worried about and exactly why. He stood just outside the circle of light cast by a streetlamp, hanging around the mouth of an alley. I watched for a few minutes and he did nothing at all — not so much as light a cigarette, shuffle his feet or cough. He wasn't worried about seen.
I exited the vehicle and approached.
Closer up, I could see he was a sickly thin young man, skin so pale it almost seemed to glow in the dimness. He wore a faded blue hooded sweatshirt that hung from him like laundry on a line and his hair was short, mussed and unwashed, making it look like blond barbed wire. I'd have bet his diet consisted largely of amphetamines.
The guy's eyes, watchful and wary, scanned me as I approached. I flashed my badge and said, “Evening.” That was all it took. Those animal-alert eyes went wide and his fist swung out in an arc and then he was gone, rabbiting towards the nearest hole.
My feet pounded the pavement, echoing sharply in the narrow, trash-strewn space, all senses searching for signs of the danger I was rushing headlong into. Light beckoned from a short distance and after a moment, I burst out into the next street. Even the soft yellow glow of sodium lamps seemed brilliant after the pitch-dark of the alley and, as my eyes adjusted, I turned left then right, spotting a figure disappearing around the corner. I followed, telling myself I was being stupid, telling myself I should go back to Rosalie Stompanato's, make sure she was all right, call it in, ask for additional officers, all while my feet took me closer to where I saw that retreating form.
I turned the corner, saw a flash duck around yet another corner. At the mouth of the alley, I allowed myself an instant's rest before entering. Even from the street, it was clear this was a dead-end. There was nothing but darkness down this brick corridor — the alley was blocked up midway down.
I drew my weapon, fumbled in my coat pocket for my penlight, flicked it on, then aimed it and the weapon down the length of the alley, sweeping the narrow width of the space.
“C'mon out. There's nowhere left to go.”
My heart pounded in my chest and there was a stitch in my side, but I felt good all the same.
Stompanato's intimidation failed, and I caught his crony in the act. Witness tampering charges would be a bonus year or two on Stompanato's sentence.
There was a rustle behind a pile of discarded cardboard boxes. “Let's go,” I commanded. “Now.”
The figure rose like a scarecrow in a concrete field, arms lifted in a half-hearted pose of surrender. I flicked the flashlight's beam upwards; he shied away, blinded by the brilliance, his head turning and one arm flying up to protect his eyes. I shifted the light so I could hold both it and my weapon in my right hand then started forward, plucking a pair of handcuffs from my pocket. With my left hand, I reached for the man's wrist. Up close, I could see he was barely more than a kid.
“You're under arrest for disobeying a lawful command, resisting an officer and—” I never got to finish.
The fist I'd narrowly avoided before thrust out again, catching me hard in the right shoulder, a wave of pain and shock jolting down the length of my arm. He was a lot stronger than his frailness suggested. He followed up with a two-handed push that sent me spinning off to one side, banging my other shoulder off of the rough stone wall of the alley, before rushing past, trying again to escape.
I threw out a hand, grabbing a fistful of his sweatshirt. It stopped him, but only long enough for him to half-turn and chop an open-handed blow down onto my elbow. Fresh pain skittered along my nerves, but I didn't let go, instead raising my right hand, only to discover it was empty. Somewhere in those chaotic two or three seconds, I dropped my gun.
I cursed and struggled for a better grip on the kid's clothing. He was thrashing wildly, yelling, “Let go! Let go!” his voice shrill and his mind going into panic mode. The decision between fight or flight was no longer his to make, but it seemed as if he was trying to choose both options simultaneously.
“Settle down! Cut it out, God damn it!” I snarled, freeing one hand to cuff him alongside the back of the neck, trying to startle him into a semblance of calm. “Nobody's going to hurt you, but you're digging yourself one hell of a hole!”
He ignored the words and continued to flail around. I tried to tackle him around the waist and ended up dragging both of us down to the filthy floor of the alley, where we rolled around for a few seconds, trading a punch a two. We were making enough noise that lights in the surrounding buildings came on. I hoped someone would have the sense to call 911, but even if they did, I knew nobody would arrive soon enough to help me get out of this. I was on my own.
Just as the thought flew through my head, the kid stopped moving. I allowed myself to hope he was coming to his senses at last. Then his hand shot out, straining to reach beyond my head, and when it came back into view, his fingers were wrapped around a chunk of brick the size of a small loaf of
bread. He reared up, holding the thing above his head, prepared to end things between us. In the scant light of the nearly forgotten flashlight, his eyes looked huge and empty.
My own eyes flew all around, frantic, searching for a way out. The other man was straddling my chest and his knees kept me effectively pinned to the ground, but my arms were free and my fingers scrabbled across the rough, cold ground, searching for something, anything, to break this deadlock. They closed around something even colder, something metallic and familiar.
As the brick came down, my fist came up, and the explosion of noise and light only inches from my face all but knocked me senseless.

Brandon Barrows is the author of the novels STRANGERS’ KINGDOM, BURN ME OUT, and THIS ROUGH OLD WORLD. He has published over seventy stories, selected of which are collected in the books THE ALTAR IN THE HILLS and THE CASTLE-TOWN TRAGEDY. He is an active member of Private Eye Writers of America and International Thriller Writers and was a 2021 Mustang Award finalist. Brandon Barrows

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My thoughts: this was very clever and although I figured it out fairly quickly, I enjoyed the twists and turns along the way as Luke investigates a series of suspicious deaths that seem to be connected to a tragic accident some years earlier.

Small towns can hide big secrets and this idyllic seeming Vermont one is no different. Luke is the outsider, unfamiliar with the ins and outs of people’s connections and history, casting a trained eye over these crimes and spotting the inconsistencies to the narrative he’s being fed.

*I was kindly gifted a copy of this book in exchange for taking part in the blog tour but all opinions remain my own.

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Blog Tour: Last Blue Christmas – Rose Prendeville

The only case they haven’t cracked is how to be together.

Not on Officer Maggie Kyle’s Christmas bingo card:

• A homemade bomb in a bus station locker.

• A child, the prime suspect in the bombing.

• Her partner of ten years abandoning her to solve the case on her own.

Max St. James might be the worst cop in the world—or at least in Toronto:

• He fell in love with his partner.

• He’s the reason she never became a detective.

• He doesn’t much care who planted the bomb.

The IED’s blast ignites years of tension, sending Maggie and Max careening in opposite directions—but opposites still attract.

Can they find a way to come together to solve the case before another bomb goes off?

And will it mean another ten years sacrificing the future they want for the partnership they already have?

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Excerpt
On the fourth day of Christmas, my true love gave to me… four migraine headaches, three massive ulcers, two aching ear drums, and a hole where my heart ought to be,” Maggie sang quietly to herself as though Max wasn’t sitting right there. She cracked herself up and switched off the unmarked Suburban’s FM radio with a flourish, and Max could swear he caught a whiff of cinnamon.
“Maggie Kyle, your Christmas spirit confounds me,” he told his partner. He was pretending to watch a Buick creep down the street a little too slowly so she wouldn’t guess how attuned he was to the earnest timbre of her voice or the wry quirk of her lips. She was trying too hard to act casual with him, and he couldn’t figure out why.
Maggie forced another laugh. “Christmas spirit,” she repeated, skimming the crossword puzzle in her lap before glancing back across the street at the rundown residence of Bobby King. Its peeling paint, once white, was now a weathered gray, and of the four green shutters meant to frame the front windows, two were broken and one was missing altogether.
“What is a six-letter word for ‘lack thereof,’ Alex?”
“Jeopardy’s not a crossword puzzle,” she said, making sure he saw her eye roll.
“Dispatch, we need to put out an APB on Officer Kyle’s missing Christmas spirit."
“You going to call in that Buick?” she changed the subject.
“I wrote down the plates,” he lied, squinting to make them out so he could record the vehicle in his logbook.
Maggie picked up the radio. “51-19?”
“51-19, go ahead,” another officer responded from his own unmarked vehicle around the corner.
“10-15 headed your way. Tan Buick, early 2000s model, traveling east. Manitoba plate: Yankee Lima Echo seven seven eight.”
“Copy,” 51-19 replied.
Maggie replaced the radio and turned her attention back to the crossword. “Frankie wants to enter that gingerbread contest, and her mom’s been playing Christmas carols since before Halloween. I’m not sure how much more I can take.”
“Got it. No Christmas carols.”
Max drummed his fingers on the steering wheel. When exactly had she lost her Christmas spirit? He could picture her as a little girl—in his mind she wore two long braids and was constantly shaking her bangs out of her eyes—staring up at the sky waiting for Santa to ride out of the stars like a meteor with the same patience she now bestowed on their stakeout. “But peppermint lattes are okay?”
She grinned. “I’ll allow it.”
“So you only hate Christmas a little bit then?”
Maggie snorted.
Time was, Max didn’t mind the odd stakeout. It beat writing parking tickets or chasing shoplifters through the snow. Play some tunes, shoot the shit, pee in a bottle if things got urgent.
With the right partner it could seem like a day off. But everything was like eggshells with Maggie lately, and he couldn’t figure out when exactly things had changed.
Today he felt a special kind of twitchy, the kind that made you want to peel off your own skin. Max loved the city—sometimes he hated how much he loved it—but sitting still all week, downtown where the Toronto high-rises blocked out the sky, he was starting to feel caged, like the buildings were closing in from every direction.
Maybe he was psyching himself out after the whole ancestry test situation. The dichotomy of an Indigenous urbanite was turning his brain against itself. Maybe he just needed a vacation.
“Do you believe in nature versus nurture?” he asked.
“What, you mean like, mama tried but Bobby King was born rotten and no amount of church or cuddles or bedtime stories could have stopped him growing up to be a cop-killing gun runner?”
“Something like that.”
Maggie shrugged at him. “You missed a button.” She pointed at his shirt. “Girlfriend didn't catch that?”
She was obsessed with the idea that he and Selina from next door shared more than a wall. It had only happened once—okay a handful of times. But it was five years ago, and there was no way Maggie could have known, except somehow she did. Even back then there’d been something, in his gait as he walked to the patrol car or a half-guilty look in his eyes; she had known, and if he protested now she’d take it as some kind of proof.
Not that it should even matter. They were partners, not lovers, and he’d certainly been her shoulder to cry on when the asshat from college dumped her and split back to Edmonton.
Max should have made a move on Maggie then, but he was still her TO and besides, he’d been a rebound before. He didn’t want to be one for Maggie, and she didn’t want him anyway. She’d been singularly focused on making detective since her first day at Fifty-One Division. Until, somewhere along the lines, she hadn't.
And she was right about the button. His black undershirt was peeking through. Did he bother to look in the mirror this morning? After a dozen years on the job, he knew what he’d see. Not his father, not even his grandfather—just a sad imitation, like a kid who got the wrong size costume at Halloween.
Her phone began to vibrate then, and she, too, silenced it without answering.
“Your mom again?” he asked.
She didn’t respond, which meant yes.
“She giving you a hard time about staying here for the holidays?”
“I’ll take ‘Does the earth orbit the sun?’ for a thousand, Alex.”
“Weren’t you going to invite your folks out here for Christmas?”
“That was last year.”
An uncomfortable mixture of lust and shame surged through Max, from the tips of his ears to his belly, at the thought of last Christmas. He tried to remember her parents being in town, but all that came to mind was the department holiday party and sweaty fumbling in a dark interrogation room. And cinnamon. She had smelled like cinnamon then, too.

Rose Prendeville is a librarian and honorary Canadian with a passion for stories about found families and flawed people doing their best.

She’s been devising such tales for as long as she can remember, including secretly in the back of her tenth grade French class (Pardon, Madame Gonzales), and she went on to double-major in screenwriting and creative writing.

Hydrangeas are her lifeblood, hot baths and hiking are her solace. She adores baking (and mostly eating) macarons, and she can’t wait to share this and future books with you.

Rose Prendeville | Instagram | TikTok  Facebook | Twitter | Goodreads | Newsletter

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My thoughts: this was a lovely story about family, friendship and crime at Christmas. Police officers Maggie and Max are after someone who sets off a fake bomb in a bus station locker, when they find a little boy hidden inside another locker. His older brother runs from them and Max pursues him across Canada, hoping to reunite the two boys.

Meanwhile Maggie hunts for the hoaxer, could it be connected to the case being built against local criminal Bobby King? And how does the stolen Robox kit from the local library fit in?

While investigating, both Maggie and Max are also wrestling with their feelings for each other, ten years working together and a year after an awkward hook up at the Christmas party, will they finally admit how they feel?

The way that Max is determined to reunite Henri and Oliver, chasing Oliver across the province to bring him back to Toronto and his little brother, while wrestling with the fact he’s adopted and doesn’t know whether he had a brother, is so powerful. Almost as though by bringing the two boys back together he can fix his own memories. Maggie is determined too, but she wants to catch the hoax bomber, and then King, but she’s also got little Henri to look after and is being hassled to apply for her detective’s exam.

They’re interesting and multifaceted characters, and they’re dealing with a lot of issues, both personal and professional. I also really liked the boys, the rookie, Hector, and Maggie’s detective friend Frankie. They keep the plot moving along at a nice pace in this quirky, hopeful Christmas story.

*I was kindly gifted a copy of this book in exchange for taking part in the blog tour but all opinions remain my own.

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Book Reviews: Henry Crowne Paying the Price Books 3&4; No Turning Back & Spy Shadows – Freddie P. Peters

A whistle-blower targeted by a car bomb,

A new terror cell in London,

A former IRA operative seeking redemption…

The gruesome execution of a notorious thief and an assassination attempt on a high-finance executive turned whistle-blower throw former QC Nancy Wu and Inspector Jonathan Pole into a race to defuse the threat of a new terror group. The stakes are considerable and they need help…

Can Henry Crowne, disgraced financier and past IRA operative find redemption in lending his expertise to the case or will he have to give much more…his life perhaps?

NO TURNING BACK is a political and espionage thriller, the third book in the ‘Henry Crowne: Paying the Price’ series. If you liked Dance with the Enemy by Rob Sinclair , Deep State by L.T. Ryan or the TV series Informer, and McMafia you will enjoy the twists and turns of Freddie P. Peters’ latest fast-paced thriller. Discover it now…

The most wanted INTERPOL fugitive,

The most destructive Terror Group in the world,

The most impossible British Intelligence Services’ mission…

Henry Crowne, disgraced financier and former IRA operative has escaped London’s top high-security prison with the unexpected help of MI6.

His mission…infiltrate an emerging terror group that has already claimed many lives in the West and threatens to destabilise the Middle East further. Henry’s perilous journey leads him to the group’s centre of power in Syria and Iraq. His aim, to meet the elusive man who runs a merciless war against those who oppose him.

But Henry decides to help Mattie Colmore, a war reporter hostage. Can he still hide in plain sight, bring back the information the West desperately need to defeat Islamic State and save Mattie at the same time?

SHY SHADOWS is an political and espionage thriller, the fourth in the “Henry Crowne, Paying The Price” series. If you liked Rob Sinclair’s SLEEPER 13, L.T Ryan’s NOBLE BEGINNINGS or the TV series MacMafia or Spooks, you will enjoy the twists and turns of Freddie P Peters’ latest fierce-paced thriller.

Read my review of the first two books in this series here.

My thoughts: Henry Crowne is an interesting character, a former IRA operative, a high flying financier and now a prisoner in Britain’s most secure prison. But the his expertise is needed again. This time to bring down a terrorist organisation using the banking system to fund itself. MI6 are very keen to get Henry involved, much to the concern of his friend and lawyer Nancy Wu.

Assisting in a case for the Serious Fraud Office and the Met, he’s suddenly freed from prison and on his way to the Middle East, leaving Nancy completely lost and worried about her friend.

Then in book 4, Spy Shadows, we jump forward several months, and now Henry and his handler Wasim are in Syria, working undercover with ISIL, offering Henry’s know how to help the organisation funnel its money and trade enough to be self sustaining, right under the noses of various international agencies. But it’s highly dangerous and full of risks.

Can Henry convince these murderous men that he’s one of them, a true believer and willing to aid in their crimes or will they continue to see him as a kafir – a foreigner? And when he decides to rescue a hostage, journalist Mattie, he puts his life, and the mission on the line.

Spy Shadows is very differently in tone from the previous books, not only do we lose Nancy and Inspector Pole, but it’s a lot more action packed and less focused on financial crimes, for obvious reasons. Spending time with terrorists currently trying to gain more land and waging jihad, is going to be a lot riskier than working out where people are hiding their money. Henry has had to step up and get his hands dirty, something he avoided doing while with the IRA.

There’s also a lot of behind the scenes intrigue and negotiating at MI6, not least because Mattie’s estranged father is an MP and starts throwing his weight around.

It’s an interesting new direction for the series and will certainly open it up in terms of what Henry can do and where he can go now he’s an MI6 asset. I just hope he lets his friends back in London know he’s OK.

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Blog Tour: Death in the Last Reel – Paula Harmon

‘Stop standing in the way of bullets.’

‘I will if you will.’

Does the camera ever lie?

1911: After the violent murder of three policemen in the line of duty, tensions between London constabulary and Whitechapel anarchists simmer. Meanwhile accusations and counter accusations of espionage further weaken relations between Germany and Britain. Can Margaret Demeray and Fox find out which potential enemy is behind a threat to the capital before it’s too late?

In the shadow of violence in the East End, just as Dr Margaret Demeray starts to gain recognition for her pathology work, a personal decision puts her career at the hospital under threat. Needing to explore alternative options, she tries working with another female doctor in Glassmakers Lane. But in that genteel street, a new moving-picture studio is the only thing of any interest, and Margaret’s boredom and frustration lead to an obsessive interest in the natural death of a young woman in a town far away. 

Meanwhile intelligence agent Fox is trying to establish whether rumours of a major threat to London are linked to known anarchist gangs or someone outside Britain with a different agenda. When another mission fails and he asks Margaret to help find out who provided the false intelligence that led him in the wrong direction, she can’t wait to assist. 

But enquiries in wealthy Hampstead and then assaults in poverty-stricken Whitechapel lead unexpectedly back to Glassmakers Lane. How can such a quiet place be important? And is the dead young woman Margaret a critical link or a coincidental irrelevance?

Margaret and Fox need to work together; but both of them are independent, private and stubborn, and have yet to negotiate the terms of their relationship. 

How can Margaret persuade Fox to stop protecting her so that she can ask the questions he can’t? And even if she does, how can they discover is behind the threat to London when it’s not entirely clear what the threat actually is?

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Paula Harmon was born in North London to parents of English, Scottish and Irish descent. Perhaps feeling the need to add a Welsh connection, her father relocated the family every two years from country town to country town moving slowly westwards until they settled in South Wales when Paula was eight. She later graduated from Chichester University before making her home in Gloucestershire and then Dorset where she has lived since 2005. She is a civil servant, married with two adult children. Paula has several writing projects underway and wonders where the housework fairies are, because the house is a mess and she can’t think why.

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My thoughts: I really enjoyed this book, Margaret and Fox’s relationship is strong and their bickering made me laugh. Both are determined to solve the mysteries around them – from Norah’s terrible death to the yellow wrapped book and the dead men in Whitechapel.

Fox is also after anarchists or possibly German spies, there’s a few red herrings along the way, and Margaret is deeply suspicious of the rather unfeeling Dr Fernsby, and the couple who own the film company across the street.

But it’s all connected and it’s only by piecing it together carefully that they’ll get the answers to all of the terrible events and the evil plot being hatched in Soho.

The book was well written and the characters felt true to their time but also quite modern, not like the fusty Edwardians you might imagine. Margaret is forging her own path as a doctor, despite all the miserable old men looking down their noses at her. Fox doesn’t expect her to stay home and do nothing, but he would rather she was out of the line of fire. And I really liked Elinor – aka Miss Hedgehog!

*I was kindly gifted a copy of this book in exchange for taking part in the blog tour but all opinions remain my own.

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Blog Tour: Songbird – Gail Meath

It’s all fun and games, until someone gets killed.

Meet Jax Diamond, a sharp, sophisticated, skilled, no-nonsense private detective.  Or is he?  Glued to his side is his canine partner, Ace, a fierce and unrelenting German Shepherd whose mere presence terrorizes criminals into submission.  Well, maybe not.

But the two of them are a whole lot smarter than they look.  And they have their hands full when a playwright’s death is declared natural causes, and his new manuscript worth a million bucks is missing.

Laura Graystone, a beautiful rising Broadway star, is dragged into the heart of their investigation, and she’s none too happy about it.  Especially when danger first strikes, and she needs to rely on her own ingenuity to save their hides.

Join Jax, Laura and Ace on a fun yet deadly ride during the Roaring Twenties that takes twists and turns, and a race against time to find the real murderer before he/she/they stop them permanently.

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Award-winning author Gail Meath writes historical romance novels that will whisk you away to another time and place in history where you will meet fascinating characters, both fictional and real, who will capture your heart and soul. Meath loves writing about little or unknown people, places and events in history, rather than relying on the typical stories and settings.

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My thoughts: if you’ve watched the TV series Hudson & Rex (based on a German series called Kommissioner Rex) you’ll know that having a German shepherd in a partnership makes crime solving so much better, and that’s the case here as detective Jax Diamond has a canine partner of his own called Ace.

In this case they’re investigating some suspicious deaths and keeping the titular songbird, actress Laura Greystone, safe from a particularly keen stalker. Ace is key in rescuing innocent parties and defending his preferred humans from harm.

Set during the Roaring Twenties, this was a fun and charming read, Laura is perfectly capable of looking after herself, but Jax’s instincts as a detective help them track down the dastardly duo behind a series of shocking murders rocking the theatre world. I’m hoping there will be more of these fun and enjoyable stories to come.

*I was kindly gifted a copy of this book in exchange for taking part in the blog tour but all opinions remain my own.

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Blog Tour: Whitesands – Johann Thorsson

THE BREAKOUT SUPERNATURAL THRILLER FROM ICELANDIC WRITER JOHANN THORSSON

Detective John Dark’s daughter has been missing for two years. In his frantic and unfruitful search for her two years ago, John Dark overreached and was reprimanded and demoted.

Now suddenly back into the homicide department, Dark is put on a chilling case – a man who killed his wife in their locked house and then dressed the body up to resemble a deer, but claims to remember none of it. A few days later an impossibly similar case crops up connecting the suspects to a prep school and a thirty year old missing persons’ case.

Just as he is getting back into his old groove, a new lead in his daughter’s disappearance pops up and threatens to derail his career again.

Time is running out and John Dark needs to solve the case before more people are killed, and while there is still hope to find his daughter.

In the style of True Detective and Silence of the Lambs, WHITESANDS is a thrilling supernatural crime novel.

“Tense, breakneck storytelling. WHITESANDS is a dash of Thomas Harris swirled with supernatural elements that leave you speeding through the pages.” – Kristi DeMeester, author of SUCH A PRETTY SMILE and BENEATH

“Johann Thorsson’s fast-moving debut WHITESANDS, packs enough incident for a novel twice its size, until it’s impossible to turn the pages fast enough.” – John Langan, author of Children of the Fang and Other Genealogies

“… certainly one of the best thrillers I have read this year.” – Khasif Hussain, The Best Thriller Books

Johann Thorsson is a writer of fiction with a supernatural slant, mainly short stories, mainly in English.

He was born in 1978 in a small town in Iceland (dark and cold, close to the sea). When he was nine he moved to Israel, and later to Croatia. He now resides in the Reykjavik area with his beautiful wife and two little kids.

His work has appeared in numerous publications, including Every Day Fiction, eFiction Magazine, eFiction Horror and Fireside Fiction.

Most recently, a story of his was selected for in the forthcoming anthology Apex Book of World SF 4 and Garden of Fiends

His favorite books are 1984Flowers for AlgernonI am LegendThe Things They Carried and Neil Gaiman’s Sandman graphic novels. Oh, and Michael Ondaatje’s The English Patient. Daniel Woodrell’s Winter’s BoneRomeo and Juliet. (This could go on for a while).

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 My thoughts: this was a clever and creepy crime story with revenge at its heart. After a man murders his wife and insists someone else did it, despite all the evidence, Detective John Dark thinks something weird is going on, a second murder convinces him. The only link is that the two killers attended the same boarding school – Whitesands. Did something happen in their shared past that’s finally manifesting?

Dark is an interesting character, tormented by the disappearance of his daughter some years before, he’s never stopped looking, but his bosses need him to focus on his career before he loses his job. He’s willing to believe in the supernatural in order to solve this case, since it genuinely seems to be the case.

I can imagine this book growing into a series where Dark investigates other strange crimes while still hunting for his daughter and turning to both his wife and his partner at the police station Monique as well as his new friend, schizophrenic psychic Daniel, to access as much support as he can.

*I was kindly gifted a copy of this book in exchange for taking part in the blog tour but all opinions remain my own.

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Blog Tour: Sherlock Holmes & the Singular Affair – M.K. Wiseman

Before Baker Street, there was Montague.
Before partnership with a former army doctor recently returned from Afghanistan, Sherlock Holmes had but the quiet company of his own great intellect. Solitary he might be but, living as he did for the thrill of the chase, it was enough.
For a little while, at the least, it was enough.
That is, until a client arrives at his door with a desperate plea and an invitation into a world of societal scandal and stage door dandies. Thrust deep in an all-consuming role and charged with the
safe-keeping of another, Holmes must own to his limits or risk danger to others besides himself in this the case of the aluminium crutch.

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M. K. Wiseman has degrees in Interarts & Technology and Library & Information
Studies from the University of Wisconsin-Madison. Her office, therefore, is a curious mix of storyboards and reference materials. Both help immensely in the writing of historical novels. She
currently resides in Cedarburg, Wisconsin.

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My thoughts: I enjoyed the previous one of these (here) and was pleased to be reading another of M.K Wiseman’s Sherlock stories, this one set before Dr Watson entered Holmes’ life.

This was quite a complicated case involving false identities, gangsters, land deeds in America, a jilted lover, and a rich uncle keeping secrets. Hired to solve a missing person case, that is slightly more complex due to another person impersonating the missing man, Holmes soon finds himself drawn into the complex lies of Price family. Trying to figure out the whereabouts of the real Tobias-Henry Price, he comes across a safe cracker who is happily in custody and Price’s uncle insists the foppish dandy using his nephew’s name is the real Tobias, but his fianceè insists her Toby is someone else entirely.

Eventually Holmes resorts to disguise and goes undercover in society, where he feels intensely uncomfortable, as well as keeping track of a gang of criminals he thinks are involved. And why is everyone so interested in Price’s aluminium cane?

Obviously Sherlock Holmes is Sherlock Holmes and he solves the case, probably a lot sooner that he says he has, through deduction and his acute understanding of how humans think.

A fiendishly clever case and at times very confusing but all is revealed in the end.

*I was kindly gifted a copy of this book in exchange for taking part in the blog tour but all opinions remain my own.