blog tour, books, reviews

Blog Tour: Murder: It’s All in Your Head – Cynthia Hilston*

Someone has been getting away with murder for over 100 years in the small town of Hurston, Ohio.
But the wrong person has been convicted of those murders every time.

In 2018, Cassie Meadows is
on her way to school when a bright flash comes out of nowhere, and she wakes in millionaire Randy Davis’s body with blood on her hands…the blood of Randy’s wife, who lies in a pool of crimson in the bathtub with her throat slit.

Meanwhile, an old man everyone calls Jimmy Williams raves that he’s
the real Randy Davis as he lives out his days in a ward for the criminally insane.

In 1914, young Helen Hawkins is unloved and repetitively abused by her father, who is also the town’s pastor. Her only escape is in her dreams, where she wakes in others’ bodies, living other lives, but when her dreams turn out to be reality, the tables are turned on her father.

In a story where no one is who they seem, how can Cassie, the latest victim accused of a murder she didn’t commit, end the cycle?

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Cynthia Hilston is a stay-at-home mom of three young kids, happily married, and lives in the Cleveland, Ohio, area.

Writing has always been like another child to her. After twenty years of
waltzing in the world of fan fiction, she stepped away to do her debut dance with original works of fiction.

In her spare time – what spare time? – she devours books, watches Supernatural and Outlander, pets
her orange kitty, looks at the stars, drinks wine or coffee with good friends, and dreams of what other stories she wishes to tell.

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My thoughts:

This was a clever, twisted thriller, which gave me of a sort-of Quantum Leap, Killer Bob from Twin Peaks with its body jumping twist and trouble explaining exactly what’s happening when you wake up in the wrong body covered in blood.

With multiple victims (both murdered and just not where they’re meant to be) and a clever denouement, this was an intriguing and enjoyable 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.

blog tour, books, reviews

The Stolen Child & The Innocent Girl – Alex Coombes*

Over two days I’m going to be reviewing four books by Alex Coombes – today it’s The Stolen Child and The Innocent Girl. Then on the 25th it will be The Missing Husband and The Silent Victims.

Meet DI Hanlon. A woman with a habit of breaking the rules and a fierce loyalty to the few people she respects.
Her boss, Corrigan. Looks like a street copper promoted above his ability. Underestimate him at your peril.
Enver Demirel. Known in the boxing ring as Iron Hand. Now soft and gone to seed. But he would do anything for Hanlon.

When the kidnap of a 12-year-old boy blows the case of some missing children wide apart, the finger is pointing at the heart of the Met.
Corrigan sends in the only cop in his team who is incorruptible enough to handle it – Hanlon.
And then he sends Demirel to spy on her…

Once you start the DI Hanlon series, you won’t be able to put it down. Perfect for fans of Angela Marsons, Lisa Regan and Mark Dawson.

This book was previously published as Time To Die by Alex Howard.

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DCI Hanlon is going undercover.
Oxford Philosophy lecturer Dr Gideon Fuller is in the frame, but Hanlon is not convinced.
From the specialist brothels in Oxford and Soho, to the inner sanctum of a Russian people trafficker with a taste for hurting women, the trail leads Hanlon deeper and deeper into danger – until she herself becomes the killer’s next target…
Can Hanlon track down the killer before it’s too late?

A thrilling new case for DCI Hanlon. Perfect for fans of Angela Marsons, Lisa Regan and Mark
Dawson.

This book was previously published as Cold Revenge by Alex Howard.

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Alex Coombs studied Arabic at Oxford and Edinburgh Universities and went on to work in adult education and then retrained to be a chef. He has written four well reviewed crime novels as Alex Howard.

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My thoughts:

The Stolen Child – any book that covers violence against children is going to be shocking, and this is. A group of vile men are having children kidnapped to order and their bodies are dumped for the police to find. DI Hanlon is tasked with looking into this and what she uncovers is horrific. But she’s hard as nails and determined to put a permanent stop to the ruthless criminals behind these appalling crimes. I was totally gripped and while Hanlon isn’t an easy character to like, her DS, Enver Demirel is. A British-Turk, he’s a former boxer with the heart of gold, he’s loyal, brave, and endeavors to follow where Hanlon leads.

The Innocent Girl – Hanlon and Demirel are drawn into the world of S&M after a young woman is found murdered in her bed. Another gripping and brutal thriller unfolds, this time with added Russian mafia, and a new character, Oxford detective Huss, who starts out disliking Hanlon but then finds a grudging respect for the maverick detective. And more than that for Enver.

Both books were totally gripping, excellently written and while dealing with some very dark subject matter, managed some levity and lightness of tone that made them a pleasure to read. The characters are well written and don’t feel like stereotypes, as can happen with police procedurals. Hanlon is a bit of a mystery, her inability to do as she’s told and the extreme violence she’s capable of speak to someone with issues beyond the usual and we get a hint of those in The Innocent Girl, when she almost learns more information about the parents she lost as a child. The relationship that develops between Enver and Huss serves as a counterpoint to Hanlon’s determined aloneness – even Corrigan, who knows her better than most, can’t get under her skin.

*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

Blog Tour: Shame of it All – KT Grant

Shame of it All

Welcome to the blog tour for new Psychological Thriller, Shame of It All by K.T. Grant! Today I have an excerpt for you to read and a chance to win  1 of 3 digital copies of the book!

55850991._SY475_Shame of It All

Publication Date: December 6th, 2020

Genre: Psychological Thriller

*Trigger Warning : Violence/ Sexual Assault

Revenge is a dish best served cold. But for Mercy Pryce her revenge will scald one’s soul and leave behind a burnt-out husk if she has her way.

Mercy has returned to her hometown of Cartleigh, New York after twenty years. The lakeside community is the perfect location for Yakim Zeldovich, her Russian billionaire employer’s state of the art manufacturing facility. Acting as a consultant for Zeldovich, she’s on an undercover mission, not as an angel of mercy, but one of mischief, deceit and torture. Her ultimate goal is to ruin Cartleigh because of a horrible trauma she suffered in high school. The one responsible for her wrath is Colton Hahn, Cartleigh’s  beloved mayor, and the object of her retaliation. The town’s golden boy, who she once adored as an impressionable teenager, brutally raped her and left her for dead at seventeen.

Consumed by years of grief and growing rage, she has targeted Colton, who may also be responsible for the death of her best friend, Marina, his fiancé. She will avenge Marina and finally take down the monster who tried to ruin her life.

Her success may come at a horrible price. But it will all be worth it if she can take away everything Colton holds dear, including him surrendering his heart and soul to her in the process.

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Excerpt

The Grand Oaks was a well-known venue for sophisticated affairs. Valet parking was a given, which Ari didn’t complain about, although he acted a bit embarrassed by his eight-year-old sedan. I didn’t mind because the make and model didn’t prove the worth of the individual driving it. Most of those who drove luxury cars were trying to make up for something they lacked. Yakim had many cars at his disposal, but he always stuck to his Lincoln Navigator, since the car reminded him of his grandfather. His father had the same fondness for that type of car but mainly used chauffeurs to get around.

“You’re probably used to all this glitz and glamour,” Ari said as we walked up the short flight of stairs into the foyer.

“I’ve attended my share of swanky parties and balls but they can be exhausting. Unless you want to, we don’t have to stay until it ends. We could always have a nightcap at one of our houses.”

“We’ll see how the night goes.” He twined our fingers together as we moved toward the banquet hall. “The only type of event I’ve been to that compares to this was my sister’s wedding, and there were a hundred guests, give or take.”

I laughed and rubbed his arm, wishing if only for the next few hours, we were an actual couple. But I wasn’t here to engage in that fantasy for either one of us. I had to find my mark and entice him in more than just conversation.

Most of the men wore tuxedos like Ari’s. The women showed off their attributes with their dresses and hair, much like I had done. The room swelled with so many people, it made me wonder if it was a safety hazard even though the majority of the guests remained at the bars on each side or surrounded servers passing trays of food. A few occupied the small dance floor near the bandstand. Based on attendance, I would say the event was a success. Yakim would be pleased because not everything would be fake when he pulled out of the negotiations. I would be long gone when the deal collapsed and those in this room realizing they had been conned.

“Are your feet hurting? Want to sit down, and I’ll get us some drinks?” Aril led me to a table and pulled out a chair.

“That would be nice.” I accepted the seat and glanced around while he did, finding Karine and her husband nearby, along with Agnes. Not surprising, Colt was next to them. They had formed their own intimate circle near the corner of the bar. I leaned into Ari so I could stare at the group over his shoulder.

“Get me a cabernet.” I kissed his cheek and hugged him at the exact moment Colt turned his face toward me. He stiffened.

“You got it.” He kissed me back and walked to the bar where Colt stood. Ari stopped near two men who shook hands with him. Since he might spend some time talking, I decided to disappear for a few minutes. But before I did, I posed for Colt’s benefit. He moved in my direction, and I backed away and left the room.

I strolled down to the lower level where a sign on the wall pointed me in the direction of another set of restrooms. I glanced behind to see Colt stopped by some people. I kept moving because the only reason anyone would venture here was to use the toilets. He would eventually find me.

I entered the restroom consisting of a small sitting area that led to three stalls and a sink. The light automatically came on when I entered, but it could also be turned off manually. I sat on a love seat and waited all of three minutes before the door opened and Colt entered, shutting it behind him.

He blocked the door but didn’t lock it. I wasn’t worried because for him to attack me again would be monumentally stupid on his part. The camera in the hallway had recorded him entering after me. I could bring it up as an extra layer of protection but only if necessary. Plus, I would be taking control of this situation, not him.

“Nice dress. It suits you.” He leaned on the door with his hands in his coat pocket.

He was dressed in an almost-identical tuxedo to most of the men here. Other than his good looks, nothing would make him stand out in this crowd. But I would be nice and play along with the compliments.

“You look good in a tuxedo, but you already know it.” I stood, laying my clutch on the seat next to me.

“In my line of work, wearing a tux or a suit is a given.” His sad sort of smile didn’t move me in any way.

“Why did you follow me here?” The answer would be obvious, but I wanted to hear him say it.

“You wanted me to.”

The lack of accusation in his voice annoyed me. He was stating a fact, but his words had a huge underlying meaning because of our past. A man accusing a woman of wanting something from him was beyond insulting. Because it was Colt, I assumed it would be sexual in nature. What I would give freely, he would take.

“You assume I want many things from you. Have you thought I just want you to notice me and nothing else? You used to do the same in high school, before and during our hidden affair.” I used air quotes around the word affair and approached him.

“Did you ever tell Ari about us?” He took his hands out of his pocket and lowered his arms to his sides.

“Why would he care about something twenty years ago that doesn’t concern him?” I folded my arms behind back.

“He doesn’t know anything?” He shifted closer.

“What is the anything you’re worried I’ll tell him about?” I tapped my chin with a lacquered nail. “Perhaps the same anything you didn’t share with your dead fiancée?”

He grabbed me by the arms and spun around, shoving me into the door. He breathed heavily, and his grip tightened to the point he might leave marks.

“Have I triggered you without saying the actual words? What if I say them?” I wanted to snarl and hit him but remained impassive, as if he wasn’t manhandling me.

He closed his eyes and inhaled through his nose, ending with a short rattle. “I can’t do this with you. It’s…shit.”

I should be impressed I had such power to affect him in such a way he was torn up inside. If only I had the same power when we were teenagers. It was going to be easier than I thought. I relaxed into the door. “You want me.”

He opened his eyes and mouth but didn’t make a sound until he groaned and knelt in front of me and clutched my hips. He pressed his face in my stomach, making me spread my legs open so I wouldn’t join him on the floor.

If he expected me to rub his head and hold him while he was wracked with guilt, he would be horribly disappointed. Any sympathy would be a mockery. Any intimacy acted upon was a means to an end for me. This time, I would have all the power.

“You want me to forgive you for raping me?” Finally saying to him directly what he did to me should have been cathartic, but I wanted to be cruel. I tugged on his hair, making him stare up at me as vindication swept through my body. For the first time since Marina died, I felt so alive.

“I don’t know.” He fell back on his heels. “What I did was wrong but it was so long ago, so if you’re thinking of—”

“Hush.” I tapped his nose and stepped around him to sit on the love seat. “You can make it up to me, and no, I’m not going to blackmail you.” Yet. “What I want from you will be enjoyable for us both.”

I wanted to cackle, not that I had ever done anything like it, but the astonishment on Colt’s face was beyond comedic. He must think I was crazy since it was beyond comprehension his victim would proposition him for some type of sexual act after he violated her violently years ago.

If he had dropped to the floor in shock, I wouldn’t have been surprised. But he remained standing, just staring like one would do if they saw a car accident.

“What do you want from me?” His voice cracked, but the front of his pants tented with his penis.

“You owe me gratification because you took it away from me so long ago.” I hiked up my skirt to my thighs and then checked my watch. “You have less than eight minutes to make me come. I’ve been in here long enough, and Ari will start to worry.”

Either mentioning the time restraint or Ari’s name forced Colt to act. He took a huge step toward me, bent down, and braced his hands behind me. It was the closest we had been to each other since that night at the lake. Back then, I was terrified. Now, I was calm and collected because I held all the power. He couldn’t hurt me even if he wanted to because he was transfixed, under my spell.

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About the Author

KT Grant Bio Picture

KT Grant is a self-proclaimed eccentric redhead who not only loves to read a wide variety of romances, but also loves writing it. As a former book blogger and entertainment columnist with a bad coffee and Twitter addiction, she still doesn’t shy away from voicing her opinion. A proud native of New Jersey, KT is multi-published and writes Gay, Lesbian and Straight romance. KT has also been a top ten best-selling author at Amazon. KT loves to hear from readers. You can drop KT an email at ktgrnt@gmail.com.

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Shame of it All

Blog Tour Schedule

January 18th

Reads & Reels (Spotlight) http://readsandreels.com

@BrendaJeanCombs (Spotlight) https://www.instagram.com/brendajeancombs/

Nesie’s Place (Spotlight) https://nesiesplace.wordpress.com

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January 19th

Breakeven Books (Spotlight) https://breakevenbooks.com

The Magic of Wor(l)ds (Spotlight) http://themagicofworlds.wordpress.com

Jessica Belmont (Review) https://jessicabelmont.wordpress.com/

January 20th

Book Dragons Not Worms (Review) https://bookdragonsnotworms.blogspot.com/?m=1

@geauxgetlit (Review) https://www.instagram.com/geauxgetlit/

@the.b00kreader (Review) https://www.instagram.com/the.b00kreader

January 21st

B is for Book Review (Spotlight) https://bforbookreview.wordpress.com

Misty’s Book Space (Spotlight) http://mistysbookspace.wordpress.com

Tsarina Press (Spotlight) https://tsarinapress.com/blog/

Tranquil Dreams (Review) https://klling.wordpress.com/

January 22nd

Rambling Mads (Spotlight) http://ramblingmads.com

The Faerie Review (Spotlight) http://www.thefaeriereview.com

Books, Ramblings, and Tea (Review) https://booksramblingsandtea.com/

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Book Review: Shiver – Allie Reynolds*

They don’t know what I did. And I intend to keep it that way.

How far would you go to win? Hyper-competitive people, mind games and a dangerous natural environment combine to make the must-read thriller of the year. Fans of Lucy Foley and Lisa Jewell will be gripped by spectacular debut novel Shiver.
When Milla is invited to a reunion in the French Alps resort that saw the peak of her snowboarding career, she drops everything to go. While she would rather forget the events of that winter, the invitation comes from Curtis, the one person she can’t seem to let go.
The five friends haven’t seen each other for ten years, since the disappearance of the beautiful and enigmatic Saskia. But when an icebreaker game turns menacing, they realise they don’t know who has really gathered them there and how far they will go to find the truth.
In a deserted lodge high up a mountain, the secrets of the past are about to come to light.

My thoughts:

This was a clever and intense thriller set on a glacier at an empty ski lodge out of season. Saskia’s disappearance ten years ago during an international competition was never solved, and now her friends and her brother have been lured back to the scene of the crime to answer some questions. One of them is a killer, but who?

Moving between the events ten years previously and the present, the plot slowly unravels the petty jealousies and competitive viciousness between the group as they prepare to compete in a big snowboarding competition.

But who lured them to the lodge and what secrets are they keeping?

blog tour, books, reviews

Blog Tour: The Island – C.L. Taylor*

Welcome to The Island.

Where your worst fears are about to come true…

It was supposed to be the perfect holiday: a week-long trip for six teenage friends on a remote tropical island.

But when their guide dies of a stroke leaving them stranded, the trip of a lifetime turns into a nightmare.

Because someone on the island knows each of the group’s worst fears. And one by one, they’re becoming a reality.

Seven days in paradise. A deadly secret.

Who will make it off the island alive?

My thoughts:

We’ve all read the books where the main characters meet at an NCT class or similar and swear to be BFFs and then over the years it goes off the boil or is The Sisterhood of the Travelling Pants. Well these are the kids who wish their parents would stop with the group holidays.

Dragged off on yet another holiday, no longer fun like when they were kids, are 6 teenagers who don’t really have much in common anymore.

Sent to a private island for a survivalist style camp as a ‘treat’, things go badly sideways as their guide dies and they realise they don’t have the skills for this.

A stupid conversation about fear becomes a nightmare as everyone’s biggest phobia starts coming true. And with only the six of them there, someone is playing a nasty game…

Creepy, compelling and ultimately rather sad, this is a fascinating study in friendship and trauma.

*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: Forgotten Lives – Ray Britain*

A man is murdered with quiet efficiency on his doorstep. A strange emblem left behind suggests a gang killing but when more bodies are found with the same emblem, and one of them a cop, DCI Doug Stirling’s investigation takes a sinister turn.

But what linked the victims in life, and now in death?

When more deaths are uncovered, miles away and years apart, but all with the same emblem left behind, pressure mounts on Stirling. Is it the work of the same person? If so, why are they killing again, and why here? One thing is clear. The killer is highly skilled, ruthless, and always one step ahead of the investigation. Is someone feeding information to them?

Working in a crippling heatwave with too few investigators, too many questions and not enough answers, when wild media speculation of a vigilante at work sparks copycat attacks, demonstrations for justice and with politicians fearing riots, Stirling needs a result – fast!

Meanwhile, Stirling’s private life is falling apart, not helped when Lena Novak of the National Crime Agency is assigned to his team. But is she all that she seems? Things could not get worse. Stirling takes a call from a retired cop. Things just got worse!

As Stirling closes in on the killer he finds the killer’s trademark inside his home – he is being targeted.

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Ray Britain’s second novel ‘Forgotten Lives’ follows closely on from ‘The Last Thread’ (2017) with a new investigation for DCI Doug Stirling, the toughest of his career.

As a police Senior Investigating Officer (SIO) Ray led specialist investigations. He was also a Hostage & Crisis Intervention Negotiator – a voluntary role – responding to hostage situations, many firearms incidents and numerous suicide interventions, not all of which ended happily. His roles took him to the USA, India, Europe, Australia and elsewhere, receiving Commendations in recognition for his work.

Ray’s real-world experience puts the reader at the heart of a complex, fast moving investigation with all of its uncertainties, stresses and frustrations, and of the dark, bitter sadness’s of people’s lives.

Ray also worked with the Serious Fraud Office and the Home Office, London, and with the City of London Police’s Economic Crime Directorate.

When not writing, Ray might be found mountain hiking, following rugby, skiing, reading, sailing, or generally keeping fit.

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My thoughts:

This was a really gripping crime thriller, I genuinely had no idea who the murderer was, it was such a clever and complex case, spanning years and across the UK and France.

Every scrap of evidence Stirling and his team gathered eventually builds to a shocking, compelling and ultimately tragic case (and I don’t mean the victims, it’s hard to have a lot of sympathy for them).

Stirling almost gets distracted from the case by ice cold NCA agent Novak, but manages to see it through to it’s conclusion. Racing against time to unravel the mysterious ‘V’ behind the murders and the brooches left at each scene.

The author’s real life experience and knowledge add an air of authenticity to the proceedings and the neverending meetings and briefings Stirling has to undertake while trying to steer his team and occasionally get some sleep! This is what it’s really like on the front line.

Absolutely cracking read, the pace never lets up and as more bodies turn up, the web gets more tangled and complicated, brilliantly delivered.

*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: Circles of Deceit – Paul CW Beatty*

Murder, conspiracy, radicalism, poverty, riot, violence, capitalism, technology: everything is up for
grabs in the early part of Victoria’s reign. Radical politicians, constitutional activists and trade unionists are being professionally assassinated.

When Josiah Ainscough of the Stockport Police thwarts an attempt on the life of the Chartist leader,
Feargus O’Connor, he receives public praise, but earns the enmity of the assassin, who vows to kill him.

‘Circles of Deceit’, the second of Paul CW Beatty’s Constable Josiah Ainscough’s historical murder
mysteries, gives a superb and electric picture of what it was to live in 1840s England. The novel is set in one of the most turbulent political periods in British history, 1842-1843, when liberties and constitutional change were at the top of the political agenda, pursued using methods fair or foul.

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Paul CW Beatty is an unusual combination of a novelist and a research scientist. Having worked for
many years in medical research in the UK NHS and Universities, a few years ago he took an MA in Creative Writing at Manchester Metropolitan University emerging with a distinction.

His latest novel, Children of Fire, is a Victorian murder mystery set in 1841 at the height of the industrial revolution. It won the Writing Magazine’s Best Novel Award in November 2017 and is published by The Book Guild Ltd.

Paul lives near Manchester in the northwest of England. Children of Fire is set against the hills of the
Peak District as well as the canals and other industrial infrastructure of the Cottonopolis know as the City of Manchester.

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My thoughts:

This was a really good, historical political thriller. I got really into it partly because I’d studied the period of history and found the Chartists really fascinating and ahead of their time, and partly because it’s so well written and compelling.

Set in the 1840s, some years after Peterloo, during a time of strikes and upheaval, when the working class Chartists were requesting decent wages, the vote and other eminently understandable things to a 21st Century reader, but the government and factory owners of the day often vehemently disagreed with these requests.

Constable Josiah Ainscough becomes involved with the movement, one he has sympathies for, after thwarting an assassin at a meeting. He then goes undercover and discovers a plot that goes all the way to the top.

He also falls in love and that makes it personal. Using his clever wits and nose for a conspiracy he keeps digging, hunting for the mysterious assassin and their master.

Highly enjoyable even if politics (of any period) leaves you cold, although I enjoyed that element too.

*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: Dishonoured – Jem Tugwell*

WE’RE ALL ONE MISTAKE FROM RUIN…

Dan has worked hard for the perfect life. He has a loving wife, beautiful kids, a fabulous home and is a successful businessman.

One afternoon Dan steps onto his usual train and sees the waitress who served him an hour earlier. It all seemed so normal, but it was the most dreadful mistake. Four stops later, Dan is a criminal who has lost everything. He’d only just met her, so why did she destroy him—and why did she say ‘Sorry’?

Dan battles through a web of lies and deceit to clear his name and win his life back, but first, he needs to find out who plotted his downfall.

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Jem Tugwell was born in Berkshire and Dishonoured is his first psychological thriller.

Jem’s first two critically acclaimed novels, Proximity and No Signal are exciting crime fiction novels set in the near future, featuring DI Clive Lussac and his partner Zoe Jordan.
Jem has a Crime Writing MA from City University, an MBA and a BSc in Computer Science and in a past life, Jem had a successful career in IT and investment management. Jem’s loves are snowboarding, old cars and bikes.

He lives in Surrey with his wife and has two children.

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My thoughts:

This had layers in layers, who was after Dan, who had set him up, and why. Was it his business partners, his wife, his son? Lurching through the aftermath of his sudden downfall, Dan finds friends in his fellow probationers, who offer to help him get answers. But it proves that bit more complicated.

Clever, with lots of twists and turns, it keeps you guessing.

*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

Blog Tour: Redlined A Novel of Boston – Richard W. Wise

RedLine

Welcome to the blog tour for Redlined: A Novel of Boston by Richard W. Wise. Read on for an excerpt and a chance to win an audiobook edition of the book!

Redlined Front CoverRedlined

Publication Date: June 2020

Genre: Historical Fiction/ Mystery/ Thriller

The year is 1974. Boston’s Jamaica Plain is a neighborhood under siege, a community skating along the razor’s edge of decline. The banks have REDLINED Jamaica Plain, causing the housing market to crash, wiping out local homeowner’s lifetime investments and opening the neighborhood to blockbusters and slumlords. Now, someone has begun systematically torching those abandoned buildings and the charred body of Sandy Morgan, a dedicated young neighborhood organizer, has been found among the ashes. Why? Who stands to gain?

Community organizer and Marine combat veteran, Jedidiah Flynt and Alex Jordan, his beautiful Harvard educated researcher together with a group of local property owners are determined to stop the redlining and and bring the arsonists responsible for Sandy Morgan’s death to justice. Their search will lead them through a labyrinth of corrupt politicians, Asian gangsters and bent churchmen.

Two interwoven plots work their way through the narrative, one is absolutely true, the other never happened, but very well might have.

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Excerpt

“Any word from the district fire chief ’s office?”

“So far can’t get anyone from the district to return my calls,” he said with a thin smile. “Better make up a Freedom of Information request, get one of your leaders to sign it. They know they have to respond to that. Talked to one of the fact checkers over at Little City Hall. She claims all fires are ‘thoroughly investigated, Mr. Flynt.’”

He raised his hands and dropped them in a gesture of helplessness.

She made a face. “Guess I better write a letter. So, what’s the point? Insurance?”

“Doesn’t seem to be a reason. Fire insurance on Green Street? Good luck getting any insurance company to write a new policy in your neighborhood or anywhere else in central J. P. The whole area is redlined.”

“Redlined? You’ve mentioned that before, but I really can’t say that I understand it all that well?”

Flynt hesitated and gazed at her for a moment to make sure that she wasn’t pulling his chain. Sandy, he knew, typically came on like she knew it all even when she didn’t.

“It’s complicated. The Northwest Community Organization in Chicago was the first people’s organization to get a handle on it. Got an organizer from N.P.A. —that’s National People’s Action—fellow by the name of Trapp coming in to run a staff training session. Basically, redlining happens when the banks or the insurance companies or all of the above get together and draw a big red circle on a map around parts of the city that they consider too risky to do business with.”

“So they write off the whole neighborhood?”

“You got it and once that happens, kiss the central neighborhood goodbye. Ninety-five percent of all residential housing sales are sold subject to a mortgage, and to get a mortgage you must have insurance. So, Catch 22, you can’t get one, you don’t get the other. If mortgage or the insurance money is choked off, the housing market collapses—which sets the stage for slumlords buying cheap for cash, racial steering and housing abandonment.”

“Redlining is the underlying economic cause of most of the shit we have been organizing around. So, basically all the properties in central J.P. are worthless?”

“Yeah, well there it is,” he said rocking back in his chair. She noted the stubble on his cheeks and the dark smudges under his smoke-gray eyes.

“You ever read the novel Gone with the Wind”? he asked.

“Yeah, when I was like about twelve, why?”

 “Well, there is this scene where Melanie is questioning Rhett Butler about how he made all his money. You recall he was a smuggler, dodging the Yankee blockade to bring supplies into southern ports during the Civil War?”

“Uh, huh.”

 “Okay, so, Melanie finally overcomes her proper Southern manners and asks the question, and he says, ‘There is more money to be made out of the wreckage of a civilization than from the building of one.’”

Sandy rolled her eyes, “Yeah right, okay. I get it.”

 “Exactly.”

“Okay, but what’s with the corridor anyhow? I mean whose bright idea was that?”

 “Happened before my time. Bunch of community groups got together to stop I-95 running right through the middle of the neighborhood. Finally got the governor to stop it but not until the whole thing was demo’d in from Route 128 to Roxbury. What you see is what’s left, a partially demolished six-lane cancer eating out the guts of the neighborhood,” Flynt said.

She stood up. “Yeah, looks like Berlin after the blitz and only a couple of blocks down from my abandoned house.

Okay, I’ll get set up as soon as I leave here. But what do I do if I see anybody?”

 “Stay out of sight! Hide in an alley between the buildings. Or just stay in the shadows. If you see anyone or anything suspicious, try for a description or a license plate. Then get the fuck outta there, call the cops, the fire department and then call me.”

“And if it’s late and you’re home asleep?”

 “I’m serious, Morgan. Don’t take any chances. People who torch houses are not the kind of fuckers you want to screw around with. Call me if you see anything suspicious, no matter what time, day or night, just call me, okay?”

“Aye, aye, sir!” she said, and she tossed off a mock salute.

“Sandy!”

“Okay, okay. I get it. I’ll call!”

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About the Author

Vault

Richard Wise is the author of three books. His latest novel, REDLINED, A Novel of Boston is a mystery thriller set in Boston’s Jamaica Plain neighborhood. PublishersWeekly raves: “Fans of suspense fiction with a social conscience will be pleased.” Midwest Book Review describes REDLINED as a “An original and simply riveting novel.” REDLINED was nominated for the National Book Award and the Benjamin Franklin Award in fiction.

The author’s first book: SECRETS OF THE GEM TRADE, THE CONNOISSEUR’S GUIDE TO PRECIOUS GEMSTONES was originally published in 2001. The book was serialized in two magazines and became a critically acclaimed best seller. The second edition appeared in 2016. Extensively revised and rewritten, the 2nd edition has added 127 pages, 11 new chapters, 5 new introductory essays and 161 additional photographs.

Mr. Wise’s second book,THE FRENCH BLUE, a historical novel published in 2010 was the winner of a 2011 International Book Award in Historical Fiction. The novel is set in the 17th Century gem trade. Called “a fine piece of historical fiction” in a 5 star review by Midwest Book Review, THE FRENCH BLUE tells the back story of the Hope Diamond and the true life adventures of 17th Century gem merchant Jean-Baptiste Tavernier.

Richard Wise has enjoyed a diverse career. He is a veteran of the U. S. Coast Guard. After receiving his B.A., teaching and doing graduate work at the University of Rhode Island, he spent most of the decade of the 70s as a professional community organizer. Wise headed organizing projects in Massachusetts and Rhode island. In the late 1970s he left organizing and apprenticed as a goldsmith. He studied gemology at the Gemological Institute of American and received his Graduate Gemologist diploma in 1985. He founded his retail company R. W. Wise, Goldsmiths, Inc. in the early 1980s and began traveling internationally, buying gems and writing about them in 1986.

Mr. Wise’s articles have appeared in Gems & Gemology, Lapidary Journal, JQ and Colored Stone. He is a former Gemology Columnist for National Jeweler and Contributing Editor at Gem Market News. The author retired from retail in 2012 to pursue his writing. Currently, he writes a book review column for Gemmology Today Magazine. He lives with his wife and two cats in Charlottesville, Virginia.

Richard W. Wise

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Blog Tour: Up The Creek – Alissa Grosso*

An unsolved murder. Disturbing dreams. A missing child.

Caitlin Walker hasn’t had a dream in nine years. But now nightmares torture her son Adam and awaken in Caitlin buried memories and a dark secret. Her husband Lance has a secret of his own, one that his son’s nightmares threaten to reveal.

In Culver Creek newly hired detective Sage Dorian works to unravel the small town’s notorious cold case, the grisly murder of a young girl.

How are Caitlin and Lance connected to the horrific crime? And how far will they go to make sure their secrets stay hidden? Find out in this riveting thriller.

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Excerpt from Up the Creek by Alissa Grosso

Caitlin emerged from a black, dreamless sleep to screams. Adam’s tortured cries sounded almost otherworldly. They turned her blood to ice and made her heart race. She sat straight up, then bolted from bed, blinking sleep from her eyes as she raced toward the door, banging her shin on the dresser as she went. She yanked on the doorknob and almost toppled over when it didn’t yield as she expected. Goddammit. Lance had locked the door again.

She spared a glance toward the bed, but her husband wasn’t there. Instead he was standing, looking out the window. For a moment she thought she was mistaken. Were the screams coming from outside?

“Lance?” she asked.

He turned to her, but his eyes looked past her at some point on the wall.

“What’s going on?” he mumbled, barely awake.

“Adam’s having a nightmare,” she said.

“Again?” he asked. “Maybe we should just let him sleep it off.”

The screams had subsided now, but she could still hear her son’s whimpers from down the hall. Sleep it off? Could Lance really be that clueless? She unlocked the door and flung it open. It bounced almost silently off the rubber doorstopper, which didn’t really give her the dramatic exit she was hoping for.

She still couldn’t quite wrap her head around her husband just standing there looking out the window while Adam cried for them. Usually Lance was the one who woke up first. Maybe he had already gone to comfort Adam and came back to their bedroom by the time she awoke. He seemed so out of it, though. Well, that’s what a lack of sleep could do to a person.

Adam sat on his bed in a nest of tangled sheets. His face was damp with tears and sweat, his dark hair plastered to his forehead. The hippo nightlight cast large, ominous shadows when she stepped into his room. He looked up with a start, then relaxed when he saw it was her.

She sat down beside him and pulled his small body to her, wrapping her arms around him and rocking him gently back and forth. The tears subsided, but he still felt tense.

“Mommy, I’m scared of the bad boy,” he said. “The bad boy’s going to hurt me.”

“Nobody’s going to hurt you,” she assured him. “You’re safe. It was just a dream. Look, you’re safe in your bedroom.”

At this, Adam pulled away from her a little to study the dimly lit bedroom. Maybe they should get a different nightlight. She had never realized how spooky that hippo light made everything look.

“There were trees,” Adam said, “and a river. She was playing in the river.”

Caitlin stiffened. Adam noticed it and looked up at her. She smiled at him.

“It was just a dream,” she said, as much to reassure herself as him. “It wasn’t real.”

There were lots of rivers out there, and wasn’t Adam just watching a cartoon show with cute animals that had to get across a river? That was probably where that detail came from. Plus, she reminded herself, it hadn’t been a river. It had been a creek. She wasn’t sure Adam knew the difference between a river and a creek, though. But a little girl playing in a river? No, wait, was that what he had said? He said only “she.” For all Caitlin knew, this she could have been a girl river otter. Maybe he had been having a cute dream about river creatures.

And a “bad boy,” she reminded herself. She remembered his bloodcurdling screams. There was nothing cute about the dream he had. Still, she clung to the “bad boy” detail. Was he talking about a child? If so, then the river was just a coincidence. She wanted to ask him more about the bad boy, but this was the worst thing she could do. He was already starting to calm down, starting to forget the details of his nightmare. She couldn’t go dredging things back up again.

“Mommy, can I sleep in your room?” Adam asked.

* * *

Lance was fully awake and in bed when Caitlin returned with Adam in her arms.

“Hey there, champ,” Lance said. “Have a bad dream?”

“Daddy, he hurt her,” Adam said. “He hurt her head. She was bleeding.”

Her son’s tiny body stiffened again in Caitlin’s arms, and she gave Lance an exasperated look as she set Adam down in the middle of the bed.

“We’d already gotten past that,” she said in a whispered hiss.

“Obviously,” Lance said with a roll of his eyes, “which is why he’s sleeping in our bed. Again.”

She slid into the bed beside Adam and adjusted the covers, ignoring her husband. She petted Adam’s head and made soft, soothing noises.

“Remember, that wasn’t real, just make believe, like a movie.” She didn’t want him to get himself worked up again talking about the dream, but it wasn’t just that. She didn’t want to hear any more details from the nightmare because the bit about the bad boy hurting the girl’s head and the blood felt a touch too familiar.

She stroked his face, and his eyelids slowly drooped closed. He looked so calm and peaceful when he slept.

“I thought we said we weren’t going to do this anymore,” Lance said. Even whispering, his voice was too loud. She held her finger to her lips. He continued more quietly, “I’m just saying, I think it would be better for him if he sleeps in his own bed.”

“It’s already after three,” she said. “It’s only for a few hours.”

“That’s not the point,” Lance said. “He’s nearly five years old. We can’t keep babying him.”

It was like the school argument all over again, and Caitlin didn’t want to get into it. Not now. She was still tired and groggy and needed more sleep.

“I want to get him a new nightlight,” she said to change the subject. “The one he has makes these creepy shadows.”

“A new nightlight,” Lance repeated in a skeptical voice. “Sure, that will solve everything.”

“The important thing,” she said, “is that we have to remind him that his dreams are not real. That they’re make believe. We have to be united on this.”

Lance made a dismissive noise and lay back down on his pillow, turning his body away from her and Adam. He muttered something, but his voice was muffled by the pillow.

“Lance, this is important,” she said. “We have to make it clear that his dreams are not real. He has to know they aren’t true.”

He sighed. “What kind of moron do you think I am? Do you really think I’m going to start telling him his dreams about boogeymen are real?” He squirmed around and pulled the covers up in an attempt to get comfortable. She thought he was done, but he stopped shifting around long enough to add, “It’s not exactly like you’re the foremost expert in dreams.”

Alissa Grosso is the author of several books for adults and teens. Originally from New Jersey, she now resides in Bucks County, Pennsylvania. You can find out more about her and her books at AlissaGrosso.com.

Alissa Grosso

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My thoughts:

This was an interesting take on the crime novel, with a focus on dreams and sleep. Detective Sage Dorian is haunted by his missing sister and sees parallels with the death of twenty year old case of Lily Esposito, who drowned in Culver Creek in front of her sister who couldn’t identify the killer.

Caitlin used to have strange dreams, and her mother was convinced she was psychic. Her husband Lance keeps waking up in places he can’t remember going to and now their young son Adam is having nightmares.

It took me a little while to get into the story but once I did, I was hooked. As the pace picked up and another child was at risk, it was gripping and I could not guess what had happened and who was involved. A very clever and enjoyable 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.