blog tour, books, reviews

Blog Tour: Vile – Keith Crawford*

Elianor Paine is a Magistrate of the Peace in the Kingdom of Trist and a republican secret agent. She has 6 days to subvert her investigation, supplant war-hero Lord Vile, then coerce his adult children to start a revolution, before her masters discover the truth and have her killed. Just how far is she willing to go? And can she change the world without changing herself?

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Keith Crawford is a retired Navy Officer, a disabled veteran, a Doctor of Law & Economics, a barrister, a stay-at-home Dad, and a writer. He has written for collections of scholarly works, academic journals, and newspapers including The Economist. He has had more than thirty plays recorded or produced for stage, been listed in a variety of short story competitions (in spite of his hatred of short stories), and runs a radio production company, http://www.littlewonder.website, which regularly runs competitions promoted by the BBC to help find, develop and encourage new writers.

In 2014 he was lecturing at Sciences Po in Paris and negotiating a contract to write a book on banking regulation, when he and his wife discovered to their delight that they were due to have their first child. Rather than writing more work that would only be read by his poor students, and then misquoted by politicians, he decided he would do his bit to stick his fingers up at the patriarchy and stay home to look after his own kids rather than the grown-up kids of rich people. Two more children swiftly followed. Keith has discovered that if you recite Stick Man backwards you get the lyrics to AD/DC’s Highway to Hell.

This (looking after the kids, not satanic rites with Stick Man) allowed him to support his wife’s career, which appears to be heading for the stratosphere, and also gave him the space to write about swordfights and explosions. And spaceships. All of which are more fun than banking regulation. As an extension to his work in radio production, he set up his own small press, and his first novel, Vile, is due to be published in December 2019. More novels will swiftly follow, like buses in countries that don’t privatise the bus companies.

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My thoughts:

This was a fun fantasy novel – the characters of Elianor and Nathaniel in particular are strongly written. I did get confused by who was who among the villagers – but that’s just me.

The writing is strong and the plot pulls you along – the clever use of a bracketing meta narrative that you don’t fully get until the end was appreciated. As was the twists, they kept on coming.

I liked the concept of Magistrates who were somewhat more robust in defence of the law than just sitting in a court room and the fact that every twist threw Elianor further into trouble and stopped her carrying out her plan.

If you like your fantasy with a decent female lead, swords, monsters, twists, turns and secrets abounding, then you’ll love this.

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

blog tour, books, reviews

Blog Tour: Bella – R.M. Francis*

R.M Francis is a writer from Dudley. He completed his PhD at the University of Wolverhampton for a project titled Queering the Black Country and graduated from Teesside University for his Creative Writing MA.

He’s the author of four poetry chapbooks, Transitions (The Black Light Engine Room Press, 2015), Orpheus (Lapwing Publications, 2016), Corvus’ Burnt-Wing Love Balm and Cure-All (The Black Light Engine Room Press, 2018) and Lamella, (Original Plus, 2019).

Bella is his debut novel and a love song to the Black Country.

It is a text that deals with queer identity and experience, specifically in a non-metropolitan setting, showcasing the upheaval and difficulties facing the working-classes of post-industrial communities.

The novel plays with oral traditions of storytelling, using Black Country dialects and the different voices of multicultural Britain. It is also a novel that fuses different genre tropes. It is set in Dudley and follows several characters from different eras, attempting to understand the strange pull the local woods have. This rhizomatic, multi-perspective narrative is part ghost story, part social realism, part queer erotica.

BELLA is due to be published in Spring 2020.

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My thoughts:

Written in dialectical English, this multi-person narrative circles around the mysterious discovery of a skull found in a wych elm and the graffiti that appeared asking ‘who put Bella in the wych elm?’

I’ve been fascinated by this mysterious discovery since I read about it a while ago and Francis’ exploration of this mystery told through the lives of some of the residents of Netherton is clever and offers a possible answer to that question.

It’s an interesting exploration of identity, love, family and place.

 

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

blog tour, books, reviews

Blog Tour: Right Behind You – Rachel Abbott*

Some doors should not be opened.

Some can never be closed.

Jo Palmer’s peaceful and happy life is about to end. Ash – the man she loves – will be arrested by the police. Millie – her precious daughter – will be taken from her.

She will lose her friends. She will doubt her sanity. Someone is stealing everything Jo loves, and will stop at nothing.

But right now, Jo is laughing in her kitchen, eating dinner with her family, suspecting nothing.

It’s raining outside. There’s a knock at the door. They are here.

A DCI Tom Douglas Thriller

My thoughts:

I hadn’t read any of the previous books in this series but this can easily be read as a standalone novel.

It starts as a family drama that quickly spirals into a nightmare as Jo’s family is ripped apart by the police, but all is not as it seems.

As the plot unwinds various characters have their secrets revealed and their dark sides exposed.

I really enjoyed this and it had enough twists and turns to keep me hooked, who was genuine, who was hiding things?

Focusing more on the victims than the investigators was quite refreshing as I read a lot of crime fiction and it so often shifts to the detectives, but this stayed on Jo and her experience.

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

blog tour, books, reviews

Blog Tour: Loot/I’m With the Band – Barry Faulkner*


Two cases from the files DCS Palmer and the Metropolitan Police Serial Murder squad. Case 5 ‘Loot’ sends the team on the trail of stolen WW2 Nazi gold that seems to be the reason for two murders. But where has it come from and how much is there? Soon the body count rises as an old gangland adversary from Palmer’s past emerges together with some feisty women and an English MP all prepared to kill for the prize. Everybody is playing cat and mouse with the gold changing hands with every twist and turn of the story that takes Palmer out of London to Gloucester and then to Brighton for an explosive finale. Case 6. ‘I’m With The Band’ features 70’s rock band Revolution are still very big and packing out the major venues today but their original members seem to be dying in suspicious circumstances. Or so their manager thinks and he contacts Palmer’s number two with his fears. Palmer is not convinced until a nasty happening at Baker Street tube station underlines what the manager was afraid of. But who would want the band members dead? With a forty year career behind them it could be any one of thousands of past or present contacts. But this killer is confident, so confident he takes on Palmer via social network and tells him ‘catch me if you can’. But Palmer’s second in command DS Gheeta Singh was brought into his team because of her computer skills and is a match for the killer in cyber space. With just one original band member left alive the threat is real and Palmer must get to the killer before the killer gets to the member. The finale is an explosive one at a major Rock concert at the NEC. Both case move along at the usual fast pace and with the usual ending twist that Faulkner does so well.

Barry Faulkner was born into a family of petty criminals in Herne Hill, South London. His father, uncles and older siblings ran with the Richardson Crime family from time to time. At this point we must point out that he did not follow in that family tradition although the characters he met and their escapades he witnessed have added a certain authenticity to his books. He attended the first ever comprehensive school in the UK, William Penn in Peckham and East Dulwich, where he attained no academic qualifications other than GCE ‘O’ level in Art and English and a Prefect’s badge (though some say he stole all three!)
His mother was a fashion model and had great theatrical aspirations for young Faulkner and pushed him into auditioning for the Morley Academy of Dramatic Art at the Elephant and Castle, where he was accepted but only lasted three months before being asked to leave as no visible talent had surfaced. Mind you, during his time at the Academy he was called to audition for the National Youth Theatre by Trevor Nunn – fifty years later, he’s still waiting for the call back!
His early writing career was as a copywriter with the advertising agency Erwin Wasey Ruthrauff & Ryan in Paddington, during which time he got lucky with some light entertainment scripts sent to the BBC and Independent Television and became a script editor and writer on a freelance basis, working on most of the LE shows of the 1980-90s. During that period, while living out of a suitcase in UK hotels for a lot of the time, he filled many notebooks with DCS Palmer case plots; and in 2015 he finally found time to start putting them in order and into book form. Six are finished and published so far, with more to come. He hopes you enjoy reading them as much as he enjoyed writing them. If you do read one please leave a review as your comments are very much appreciated.
You can find out more about Barry Faulkner and the real UK major heists and robberies, including the Brinks Mat robbery and the Hatton Garden Heist; plus the gangs and criminals that carried them out, including the Krays and the Richardsons, on his crime blog at http://www.geezers2016.wordpress.com. Faulkner also regularly gives illustrated talks on that era to WI and other social clubs. barryfaulkner1@btopenworld.com for details.

My thoughts:

Having previously reviewed two of the other case files I knew I was in for a treat with these humorous crime files. Whether chasing gold bullion or hunting a vengeful serial killer DCS Palmer and his team manage to maintain their sense of humour and sometimes Palmer makes it home in time to enjoy Mrs P’s famous cooking.

Entertaining and clever, these Serial Murder Squad stories are a joy to read.

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

blog tour, books, reviews

Blog Tour: The Weighing of the Heart – Paul Tudor Owen*

Following a sudden break-up, Englishman in New York Nick Braeburn takes a room with the elderly Peacock sisters in their lavish Upper East Side apartment, and finds himself increasingly drawn to the priceless piece of Egyptian art on their study wall – and to Lydia, the beautiful Portuguese artist who lives across the roof garden.

But as Nick draws Lydia into a crime he hopes will bring them together, they both begin to unravel, and each find that the other is not quite who they seem.

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Paul Tudor Owen was born in Manchester in 1978, and was educated at the University of Sheffield, the University of Pittsburgh, and the London School of Economics.

He began his career as a local newspaper reporter in north-west London, and currently works at the Guardian, where he spent three years as deputy head of US news at the paper’s New York office.

His debut novel, The Weighing of the Heart, was shortlisted for the People’s Book Prize 2019 and longlisted for Not the Booker Prize 2019.

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My thoughts:

This was an interesting read with a very unreliable narrator in the form of protagonist Nick, who has plenty of secrets.

The writing is assured and clever, and the plot has plenty of clever twists and turns.

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

blog tour, books, reviews

Blog Tour: The Home – Sarah Stovell*

When the body of pregnant, fifteen-year-old Hope Lacey is discovered in a churchyard on Christmas morning, the community is shocked, but unsurprised.

For Hope lived in The Home, the residence of three young girls, whose violent and disturbing pasts have seen them cloistered away. As a police investigation gets underway, the lives of Hope, Lara and Annie are examined, and the staff who work at the home are interviewed, leading to shocking and distressing revelations … and clear evidence that someone is seeking revenge.

A dark and devastating psychological thriller, The Home is also a heartbreaking and insightful portrayal of the underbelly of society, where children learn what they live … if they are allowed to live at all.

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Sarah Stovell was born in 1977 and spent most of her life in the Home Counties before a season working in a remote North Yorkshire youth hostel made her realise she was a northerner at heart.

She now lives in Northumberland with her partner and two children and is a lecturer in Creative Writing at Lincoln University. Her debut psychological thriller, Exquisite, was called ‘the book of the summer’ by Sunday Times.

My thoughts:

This is a clever thriller, centred on two young women living in care and the complex relationship between them.

Both have secrets, some darker than others and those secrets are closing in.

Atmospheric and sinister, the lives of Hope and Annie are revealed in flashbacks as violent, tragic and damaging.

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

blog tour, books, reviews

Blog Tour: Backlash – Marnie Riches*

 

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When Private Investigator Beverley Saunders is tasked with going undercover, she relishes the chance to disguise herself as a cleaner in order to get close to Manchester bad boy Anthony Anthony, aka 2Tone. Anthony’s neighbours are suspicious of his wealth and sick of his anti-social behaviour, and Bev’s just the woman they need to find out what’s going on behind closed doors.

As Bev begins to infiltrate Anthony’s world, she soon realises she’s in danger – and this time, she might be too far in to get out. Alongside her sidekick Doc, Bev must fight to discover the truth – but when people begin to die, she has to ask herself – is exposing Anthony worth risking her own life?

My thoughts:

I enjoyed this, Bev’s an engaging character and her sidekick Doc reminds me of some of the men I’ve met, who struggle to function away from their computers and game consoles. Bev makes mistakes as she investigates, rendering her all the more fallible and realistic; she’s definitely no flawless super cop as in some crime fiction.

I hadn’t read the previous book in this series but I don’t think it really matters as the overriding story of Bev’s personal life isn’t essential to the plot and enough back story is given so as not to need to worry if you haven’t read it either.

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