Tag Archives: Book Blog Tours

**Blog Tour** The House by Simon Lelic @PenguinUKBooks #BookReview

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Today I am delighted to be hosting The House blog tour. The House is written by Simon Lelic and will be published by Viking Books in paperback on 3rd November 2017. If you can’t wait until then, the eBook version is available now.

 

Book description

What if your perfect home turned out to be the scene of the perfect crime?

Londoners Jack and Syd moved into the house a year ago. It seemed like their dream home: tons of space, the perfect location, and a friendly owner who wanted a young couple to have it.

So when they made a grisly discovery in the attic, Jack and Syd chose to ignore it. That was a mistake.

Because someone has just been murdered. Right outside their back door.

My review

Moving into your dream home should be the happiest of times right? Wrong!, take Jack and Syd ,their dream home turns into there worse nightmare. This is going to be one of those reviews that may seem vague but in truth it’s a difficult book to review without giving away major spoilers. The one thing I will say is the book description very much leads the reader in the wrong direction, of course the house is pinnacle to the plot, but this novel has far much more to offer. Although the descriptions of the house provide the reader with a creepy and atmospheric setting, it’s the undertone of malevolence that made this novel such a compelling and disturbing read.

The story is narrated in the alternating perspectives of Syd and Jack, the author chooses to narrate The House in a very distinctive style concentrating on the perspectives of Jack and Syd told in the style of a journal. To begin with I found this style of writing difficult to follow at first it appears to be a hotchpotch of memories, thoughts and events. As I got use to the style of writing I found it was actually a very effective ploy as we learn about the backgrounds and personalities of the couple, as well as the progressively mysterious and creepy events that start to take place in their home. It’s only when you reach the second half of the book you realise just how cleverly Simon Lelic has misdirected the reader.

The House has a very gothic feel to it which certainly puts the reader on edge, the sounds, the smells and the secrets hidden within the house add to the anxiety I felt as a reader. I would never have guessed where this novel was heading as the author always manages to keep one step ahead, which I find always heightens my enjoyment of a book. I do love the unexpected and this book certainly has plenty of those “OMG” moments, there were so many twist and turns my head was spinning. This is the first book I have read by Simon Lelic and I’m impressed, The House is complex, creepy full of surprises and definitely a book I would recommend if you like a twisted thriller.

Print Length: 342 pages

Publisher: Penguin (17 Aug. 2017)

Buying links: Amazon UK 🇬🇧      Amazon US 🇺🇸

About the author

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I was born in Brighton in 1976 and, after a decade or so living in London and trying to convince myself that the tube was fine, really, because it gave me a chance to read, my wife and I moved back to Brighton with our three young children. That Barnaby, Joseph and Anja’s grandparents happened to live close enough by to be able to offer their babysitting services was, of course, entirely coincidental.

As well as writing, I run an import/export business. I say this, when people ask, with a wink but I fool no one: I am more Del Trotter than Howard Marks. My hobbies (when I have time for them) include reading (for which I make time, because I can just about get away with claiming this is also work), golf, tennis, snowboarding and karate. My weekends belong to my family (or so my wife tells me), as does my heart.

I studied history at the University of Exeter. After graduating I was qualified, I discovered . . . to do an MA. After that I figured I had better learn something useful, so took a post-grad course in journalism. I know, I know: so much for learning something useful. After working freelance and then in business-to-business publishing, I now write novels. Not useful either, necessarily, but fun and, in its own way, important.

Links to the author: Website     Twitter

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**Blog Tour**Cold Blood by Robert Bryndza #BookReview @RobertBryndza @Bookouture

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Today I’m over the moon and just a little bit excited (ok I’m very,very excited) to be on the blog tour for Cold Blood by the awesome Robert Bryndza. Cold Blood is the fifth book in the Detective Erika Foster series and what a brilliant crime series it is, it’s definitely one crime series I would highly recommend, and the good news is you don’t even have to wait to get a copy as it was published on the 20th September by one of my favourite publishers  Bookouture. 

Book description

She fell in love with a killer, now she’s one too.

The suitcase was badly rusted, and took Erika several attempts, but it yielded and sagged open as she unzipped it. Nothing could prepare her for what she would find inside…

When a battered suitcase containing the dismembered body of a young man washes up on the shore of the river Thames, Detective Erika Foster is shocked. She’s worked on some terrifying cases but never seen anything like this before.

As Erika and her team set to work, she makes the link with another victim – the body of a young woman dumped in an identical suitcase two weeks ago.

Erika quickly realises she’s on the trail of a serial killer who’s already made their next move. Yet just as Erika starts to make headway with the investigation, she is the victim of a brutal attack.

But nothing will stop Erika. As the body count rises, the twin daughters of her colleague Commander Marsh are abducted, and the stakes are higher than ever before. Can Erika save the lives of two innocent children before it’s too late? She’s running out of time and about to make a disturbing discovery…there’s more than one killer.

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My review

Now I’m sure it wont come as a big surprise to many of you but I just happen to be a huge fan of Robert Bryndza’s and the Erika Foster series, so when I realised Cold Blood was available on NetGalley I dropped everything to start reading it and I mean everything, even the current book I was reading, so apologises to Harlan Coben, but a sacrifice had to be made! Oh my god I’m so glad I did, Cold Blood is one twisted tale, it’s gruesome, it’s dark, all the things I love a crime thriller to be and more.

Erika Foster is one of my favourite fictional detectives she’s ballsy and opinionated, but as the series has evolved so has her character, in Cold Blood Erika’s personal life is a shambles, so she concentrates her efforts on her job, but she really has her work cut out in Cold Blood her most gristly case yet. When a battered suitcase containing the dismembered body of a young man washes up on the shore of the river Thames in the opening chapter. You just know your in for a hell of a ride and the author doesn’t disappoint fast paced and twisted this is the perfect crime book. I’m in awe of the authors ability to come up with such original crimes but I can’t help wondering if his vivid imagination keeps him awake at night!

I’m not going to go into plot details just read the book you won’t be disappointed, but what I will say Robert Bryndza has created some blood curdling characters, the word psychopath springs to mind, each crime that’s committed just adds to the nail biting suspense, as Cold Blood reached it searing conclusion I felt physical drained so intense was the plot.

I could have devoured Cold Blood in one sitting but rather like a fine wine I choose to savour it, immersing myself in the atmosphere, characters and settings. Every time Robert Bryndza brings out a new book I always start by saying it’s his best book yet and guess what? This is definitely the best book yet! (Well until the next one at least!) It’s dark, gruesome and a throughly gripping read.

Robert Bryndza never fails to amaze me, he is such a gifted writer and I love the fact that he is able to maintain such a high standard of writing whilst keeping the series highly original in content. So my love affair with the Erika Foster series continues and I would sale my kidney to find out what’s going to happen to Erika Foster next (now there’s a plot for Robert Bryndza’s next book) Would I recommend Cold Blood? It’s a “thousand” hell yeses and if you haven’t read this series yet you really need to it’s everything a crime series should be and much more.

I’m sure it will come as no surprise to read I’m giving Cold Blood the very prestigious Gold Star Award Rating. It’s given to a book I feel is particularly outstanding, a book that covers every aspect of what I look for in a fabulous read, fantastic plot, great characters and a storyline that draws me in from the first page and keeps me in its grips until I reach the very last page.

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Buying links:  Amazon UK 🇬🇧      Amazon US 🇺🇸

Print Length: 275 pages

Publisher: Bookouture (20 Sept. 2017)

About the author

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Robert Bryndza is the author of the international #1 bestseller The Girl in the Ice. The Wall Street Journal and USA Today bestseller is the first book in the Detective Erika Foster series.

The Night Stalker, Dark Water and Last Breath are the second, third, and fourth books in the series, and the fifth book, Cold Blood is available now.

Robert’s books have sold over 2 million copies, and have been translated into 27 languages.

In addition to writing crime fiction, Robert has published a bestselling series of romantic comedy novels. He is British and lives in Slovakia.

You can find out more about the author at www.robertbryndza.com and on Twitter and Instagram @RobertBryndza

Sign up to Robert Bryndza‘s New Release Mailing List here: Mailing list

You can buy any of the books in the series here……The Erika Foster series

**Blog Tour** Maria In The Moon by Louise Beech @OrendaBooks @LouiseWriter

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Today I’m absolutely thrilled to be one of the stops on the Maria In The Moon by Louise Beech blog tour. This really is a fabulous book and if you haven’t read it yet, it’s definitely one I would highly recommend, and it’s made it’s way to my top reads of 2017 list, yes it’s really that good.

Maria In The Moon is published by the simply awesome Orenda Books and you can buy a kindle copy right now, but this one has such a beautiful cover, it’s a book you will want to keep you can buy a physical copy on publication day the 30th September 2017

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Book description

‘Long ago my beloved Nanny Eve chose my name. Then one day she stopped calling me it. I try now to remember why, but I just can’t.’

Thirty-two-year-old Catherine Hope has a great memory. But she can’t remember everything. She can’t remember her ninth year. She can’t remember when her insomnia started. And she can’t remember why everyone stopped calling her Catherine-Maria. With a promiscuous past, and licking her wounds after a painful breakup, Catherine wonders why she resists anything approaching real love.

But when she loses her home to the devastating deluge of 2007 and volunteers at Flood Crisis, a devastating memory emerges … and changes everything. Dark, poignant and deeply moving, Maria in the Moon is an examination of the nature of memory and truth, and the defences we build to protect ourselves, when we can no longer hide…

My review

Every once in a blue moon (excuse the pun) a book comes along that blows me away, Marie In The Moon has left me with a serious book hangover not a common occurrence might I add. Marie In The Moon is without doubt Louise Beech best book yet I never thought I would say that, as I adored The Mountain In My Shoe, but oh my Maria In The Moon is something else, beautifully written, it’s a powerful and a emotive novel that will pull at the most hardened heartstrings. I seen a book quote which pretty much sums up my feelings for this novel ” some books you read. Some books you enjoy. But some books just swallow you up heart and soul”. 

Set in Hull, just after the floods of 2007, the book focuses on Catherine Hope, who had no memories of her ninth year. All she can remember is that this was when her beloved father died. She’s a volunteer at Flood Crisis, happy to help other people if it means she doesn’t have to deal with her own problems. When a long buried memories begin to surface, Catherine tries to ignore them, but as they become more vivid Catherine has to face her past and deal with the devastating events that she choose to forget, for it’s only then she will be free. Although this novel draws on some  difficult subjects Louise Beech deals with them with great sensitivity and empathy.

What a complicated but throughly intriguing character Catherine turned out to be, Louise Beech has an incredible talent that enables her to create such complex and flawed characters, she manages to get into the heads of ordinary people and makes them extraordinary, making the reader care about the characters she’s created. When the reader first meets Catherine she seems surly, antagonistic and defensive, she also appears to be in self destruct mode, but it’s not long before you become enchanted by this unbelievable character, she’s sensitive, passionate and caring and her story will break your heart.

Marie In The Moon is one of the most haunting and compelling books I’ve read in a long time, it’s full of dark humour but also filled with warmth, this novel evoked so many emotion I laughed, I cried and then I cried some more, this is a huge testament to the author’s powerful writing. Dark and deeply moving this novel is one book that’s going to stay with me for a long time, and I’m sure I will often think of Catherine’s journey and the horrors she endured.

I’m sure it will come as no surprise to hear I’m giving Marie In The Moon the very prestigious Gold Star Award Rating. It’s given to a book I feel is particularly outstanding, a book that covers every aspect of what I look for in a fabulous read, fantastic plot, great characters and a storyline that draws me in from the first page and keeps me in its grips until I reach the very last page.

imagePrint Length: 276 pages

Publisher: ORENDA BOOKS (15 Aug. 2017)

Buying links:   Amazon UK 🇬🇧     Amazon US 🇺🇸

IMG_2187Louise Beech remembers sitting in her father’s cross-legged lap while he tried to show her his guitar’s chords. He’s a musician. Her small fingers stumbled and gave up. She was three. His music sheets fascinated her – such strange language that translated into music. Her mother teaches languages, French and English, so her fluency with words fired Louise’s interest. She knew from being small that she wanted to write, to create, to make magic.

She loves all forms of writing. Her short stories have won the Glass Woman Prize, the Eric Hoffer Award for Prose, and the Aesthetica Creative Works competition, as well as shortlisting twice for the Bridport Prize and being published in a variety of UK magazines. Her first play, Afloat, was performed at Hull Truck Theatre in 2012. She also wrote a ten-year newspaper column for the Hull Daily Mail about being a parent, garnering love/hate criticism. Her debut novel was a Guardian Readers’ pick for 2015.

She is inspired by life, history, survival and love, and always has a story in her head. Her debut novel, How to be Brave, came from truth – when Louise’s daughter got Type 1 Diabetes she helped her cope by sharing her grandad’s real life sea survival story. Her second novel, The Mountain in my Shoe, was released in September 2016 and was inspired by her time working with children in the care system.

When she was fifteen Louise bet her mother ten pounds she’d be published by the time she was thirty. She missed this self-set deadline by two months. Her mother is still waiting for the money.

Link to website – http://louisebeech.co.uk/

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My thanks to Karen over at Orenda Books and Anne Cater for my ARC of this simply fabulous book, and also for allowing me to be part of the Maria In The Moon blog tour it’s been an honour to take part. 

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**Blog Tour** House Of Spines by Michael J Malone @OrendaBooks @michaelJmalone1 #BookReview

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Today I’m thrilled to be one of the stops on the blog tour for the terrifying psychological thriller House Of Spines by the very awesome Michael J Malone. It’s published by the superb Orenda Books and the good news is you can actually by a kindle copy right this minute or you can pre-order the book which is published on the 15th September 2017, links included further down this post.

Book description

Ran McGhie’s world has been turned upside down. A young, lonely and frustrated writer, and suffering from mental-health problems, he discovers that his long-dead mother was related to one of Glasgow’s oldest merchant families.

Not only that, but Ran has inherited Newton Hall, a vast mansion that belonged to his great-uncle, who it seems has been watching from afar as his estranged great-nephew has grown up.  Entering his new-found home, it seems Great-Uncle Fitzpatrick has turned it into a temple to the written word – the perfect place for poet Ran. But everything is not as it seems.

As he explores the Hall’s endless corridors, Ran’s grasp on reality appears to be loosening. And then he comes across an ancient lift; and in that lift a mirror. And in the mirror … the reflection of a woman…

A terrifying psychological thriller with more than a hint of the Gothic, House of Spines is a love letter to the power of books, and an exploration of how lust and betrayal can be deadly…

A house with a troubled past

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Oh my I really struggled to write a review for this book why? Because I’m not sure anything I write will truly reflect what a fabulous and enthralling read House Of Spines turned out to be. Ever since I read A Suitable Lie by Michael J Malone I’ve been eagerly awaiting for his next offering. Firstly I have to mention what a versatile and gifted writer Michael J Malone is, I’m amazed that he’s gone from writing about domestic abuse to the eloquently and beautifully written House Of Spines.

One of my favourite things when I’m reading a book are an author’s description of a setting, and the author describes Newton Hall with a great deal of passion and imagination. Newton Hall is deceiving, a beautiful home full of wealth and splendour, but it also a house that feels claustrophobic, chilling and terrifying, it’s a house shrouded in mystery and secrets. The author’s descriptions give the reader an overwhelming sense of unease and trepidation, one that grows stronger as the novel progresses.

When Ran inherits Newton Hall, a vast and elegant mansion filled with books, it seems all his troubles are over, but little does he realise they are just beginning. From the moment Ran walks through the doors of his new home he senses a chilling presence, a presence that will soon consume his every waking moment, even sleep will give him no relief. What follows is a disquieting tale that has so many themes running through it, lust, betrayal, lies and greed.

I do love an unreliable narrator and Ran certainly fits the bill perfectly. As the author weaves his magic and Ran’s mental health issues begin to surface you cant help but wonder how much of what Ran is experiencing is real. Are the ghostly images he see’s part of his escalating illness? or is there something far more sinster hiding in the shadows of his lavish home? This novel oozes with tension and although the pace is slow, each page adds layer about layer of intrigue and malice. I really wasn’t sure where this story was heading, but WOW when I reached the climax I sat there open mouthed stunned by this simply mind blowing novel.

I want to say so much about this book, but in doing so I could possibly give away spoilers which is never my attention, but what I will say is the author has written a novel that is both captivating yet horrifying, it’s dark with a constant sense of malevolence bubbling away under the surface, with elements of fear, horror, death, and gloom running through this novel it has a very gothic feel to it, which only adds weight to this very creepy read. House Of Spines is an very original psychological thriller and one I would urge anyone and everyone to read just because it’s such a powerful and beautifully haunting novel.

Buying links:  Amazon UK 🇬🇧        Amazon US 🇺🇸

Print Length: 276 pages

Publisher: ORENDA BOOKS (29 Aug. 2017)

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Michael Malone was born and brought up in the heart of Burns’ country, just a stone’s throw from the great man’s cottage in Ayr. Well, a stone thrown by a catapult, maybe.

He has published over 200 poems in literary magazines throughout the UK, including New Writing Scotland, Poetry Scotland and Markings. His career as a poet has also included a (very) brief stint as the Poet-In-Residence for an adult gift shop. Don’t ask.

BLOOD TEARS, his debut novel won the Pitlochry Prize (judge:Alex Gray) from the Scottish Association of Writers and when it was published he added a “J” to his name to differentiate it from the work of his talented U.S. namesake.

He is a regular reviewer for the hugely popular crime fiction website www.crimesquad.com and his blog, May Contain Nuts can be found at http://mickmal1.blogspot.com/

He can be found on twitter – @michaelJmalone1

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**Blog Tour** Dead To Me by Stephen Edger @StephenEdger @Bookouture 

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Today I’m thrilled to be one of the two stops on the Dead To Me by Stephen Edger blog tour, you can read my partner in crime (excuse the rubbish pun) Amy’s review over at http://novelgossip.com. Stephen Edger has been on my #ToRead authors for a while now so when I was asked to take part in the blog tour for Dead To Me I literally jumped at the chance.

Dead To Me is published by one of my favourite publishers on the planet Bookouture and they never fail to amaze me with their fabulous books, authors and covers and Dead To Me is a worthy addition to the Bookouture family along with Stephen Edger of course! You don’t even have to wait to get a copy of this thrilling read as it’s already been published, but before you pop over to Amazon and click the “buy” button you may like to read my review first or maybe not 😂

Book description

How do you catch a killer who knows your every move?

The woman lay flat on the table, her face to one side, her wrists bound with thick tape. Deep scratches marked the wood beneath her fingers, now resting cold and still…

When a woman’s body is found in an abandoned bar near the Southampton docks, Detective Kate Matthews is called in to lead the investigation. She must solve this case to prove she is coping with the death of a close colleague.

Kate knows a pile of ripped up newspaper cuttings discovered at the victim’s house must be a piece of the puzzle, but her team keep hitting dead-ends… Until she finds a disturbing clue that convinces her of three things: The murder is linked to the body of a man found hanging in a warehouse, she is on the hunt for a calculated serial killer, and the killer is watching her every move.

Kate realises there will be another victim soon, and that her own life is in grave danger, but no one else believes her theory. Can she find and stop the most twisted killer of her career, before another life is lost?

An absolutely NAIL-BITING thriller that will keep you guessing to the very last page. Perfect for fans of Robert Dugoni, James Patterson and MJ Arlidge.

 

IMG_2357Dead To Me  is the first book in a new crime series featuring Detective Kate Matthews, I throughly enjoyed reading this book although for some reason I did expect it to be darker and possibly far more gruesome. I’m not sure if that’s because most of the books I read from Bookouture veer towards the darker side of crime, but although there were a couple of fairly grim scenes there werent any truly shocking scenes, so if you dislike to much “gruesome” in your crime thrillers I may have found just the book for you. Dead To Me has a compelling plot, with plenty of twists and turns, a MUST in a crime book.

When a torso turns up in a burned down warehouse Detective Kate Matthews is assigned the case, but it’s not long before she releases someone is watching her and taunting her, invading both her home and personal life, what follows is a suspense filled read. Stephen Edger has written a well plotted story that’s keeps the reader guessing right up until the last couple of “heart in your mouth” chapters. The author does a brilliant job in keeping the Serial Killers identity hidden, I thought I had the killer “sussed” about halfway through, but I got it spectacularly wrong I’m glad to say, I love it when an author misdirects you at every turn as it helps to maintain the tension.

Detective Kate Matthews now here’s an interesting but very flawed character, I’m sure many readers will struggle to “gel” with her, to be fair she doesn’t have very many likeable qualities, here’s a woman who abandoned her child to put her career first, although on the plus side she’s driven, feisty and reckless, that said I’m intrigued to see how Kate will develop as the series progresses. I think the author has taken a bold step in producing a character that has so many flaws, but it works as Kate’s a character I certainly won’t forget in a hurry, the author proves to me you don’t have to feel a measure of affinity towards a character to still enjoy a book.

Dead To Me is a promising start to a new crime series, it certainly made for an exciting and intensely twisted read. I’m sure crime thriller lovers who don’t like their books to be too dark or gruesome will really enjoy this one. Personally I found it a refreshing change to read a crime thriller that didn’t add gruesome scenes just for the shock value. I think the author has written a book that promises to be the first in a great crime series and I would happily pick up the next book in the series by the very talented Stephen Edger.

Buying links:   Amazon UK 🇬🇧        Amazon US 🇺🇸

Print Length: 353 pages

Publisher: Bookouture (17 Aug. 2017)

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Stephen Edger is a British crime writer, who has been writing since 2010. In that time he has written and published eleven novels, and five short stories. He writes mysteries and thrillers focused on crime.

Stephen was born in the north-east of England, grew up in London, but has lived in Southampton since attending university in the year 2000. Stephen works in the financial industry, and uses his insider knowledge to create the plots of his books. He also has a law degree, which gives him a good understanding of the inner workings of the UK justice system.

Stephen is married, and has two children, and two dogs. He is passionate about reading and writing, and cites Simon Kernick and John Grisham as major influences on his writing style.

My thanks to Kim and Noelle over at Bookouture for my ARC, and allowing me to be part of this fabulous blog tour. 

You can follow the rest of the tour and catch up on other bloggers reviews….

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**Blog Tour** Unforgivable by Mike Thomas #Review & #GuestPost @ItDaFiveOh @BonnierZaffre

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Today I’m thrilled to be the next stop on the Unforgivable by Mike Thomas blog tour. Not only do I get to share my review for this thrilling book, but I also have a fabulous guest post from the author about the places that inspired the locations in Unforgivable. Interestingly enough my son and his wife had their wedding photographs taken in Roath Park one of the settings the author mentions.

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My Cardiff: the places that inspired locations in ‘Unforgivable’

It’s safe to say I know Cardiff like the back of my hand.
The nice regions and the dodgy areas, the best route to take to avoid rush hour traffic, the lanes and parks and alleys where gangs from rival estates used to meet for a rumble on a Friday night (Birdies Lane, if you must know). Where you can get stolen electrical equipment for a very low price. Where you can get a good kicking just for walking into the wrong pub.

I worked the city for twenty years, first as a uniformed officer then with stints on CID before moving on to drugs teams and other plain clothes work where I’d follow heroin dealers to Bristol and not see my own bed for three days. Finally – when my first novel was published and I knew I was on my way out of The Job and the hierarchy didn’t really know what to do with me – I found myself in the Operations Room working as an – haha – Intelligence Officer.

If you want a guided tour – warts and all – of the Welsh capital, I’m your man. And that knowledge was one of the reasons I decided to set the MacReady novels in the city. Also, London has its fair share of fictional cops and I felt Cardiff, bar a few novels, wasn’t really getting a look in. I wanted to redress the balance a little.
So what are the locations that appear in ‘Unforgivable’?

St. David’s – huge, sprawling and full of Shiny Things You Will Want, this shopping centre – or mall, if you must – has grown and been added to and modified extensively over the decades, and has become a colossal ode to commerce. Everything you want – and quite a lot you don’t – can be found under its roofs, and its food court is where things take a sudden, nasty turn in the book. I used to work here as a late-teenager at John Menzies (remember those stores?) where I would lump myself behind the counter of the music section, rolling my eyes at customers’ terrible purchases – Duran Duran, heaven forfend! – and making sure Depeche Mode’s output was at the forefront of every display. They are the greatest band in the world, after all.

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Fairwater – tucked just west of the city centre is this sprawling, leafy suburb where MacReady and the team carry out a property search after they’ve arrested their bad guy. In real life I worked in the building adjacent to the police station – that aforementioned Intel Officer role – until I quit for good. A busy ‘nick’, Fairwater Police Station is also uglier than ugly, and I describe it in the novel as ‘a mixed orange-brick and prefab square lump that resembled a hideous layer cake, and which MacReady assumed had cut the value of the surrounding properties by at least half when it was built.’ This is entirely correct and I refuse to describe it otherwise. So there.

Park Place – when I were a lad, and when Cardiff’ had pretty limited places to go of an evening, Park Place just off the main pedestrianised shopping drag was the epicentre of all the fun for a few good years. ‘Brannigans’ bar (now ‘Jongleurs’ comedy club), and around the corner the superclub ‘Zeus’ attracted thousands of punters from all around South Wales, where we revelled in this new-fangled tunesmithery of ‘Britpop’ (and, of course, ‘Cool Cymru’). ‘Zeus’ is replicated in ‘Unforgivable’ for an important scene, and it was lovely to dredge up all those memories. Apart from the time I accidentally set fire to a girl’s leggings while I was trying to impress her with my cigarette lighter-wielding skills. Turns out polyester is really flammable. Who knew?

City Hall – the heart of the capital’s bureaucratic and judicial area, a place of ornate gardens and Portland Stone edifices and the imposing Crown Court, and a prime choice for weddings and University graduation ceremonies. It’s also the scene of several foot chases in my career, one of which ended up with me falling in a very nice pond. My protagonist, MacReady, has a similar chase at one point in ‘Unforgivable’ but manages to avoid the watery mishap…

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Roath Park – locally famous, this pretty sliver of water and greenery just north of the city centre has a boating lake, clock tower, enormo-conservatory and ornamental gardens, and is something of a rite of passage for children who descend here en masse in school holidays to slide down its notoriously bumpy slide and get chased by irate swans. It features briefly in ‘Unforgivable’ during a vehicle pursuit. It is also where, as a five year old bored of her whining, I threw my infant sister into the water while we were out in a rowing boat. Fun times!

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The UHW – the University Hospital of Wales, or ‘The Heath’ to Cardiffians. As a copper you spend an inordinate amount of time in hospitals – sitting with injured prisoners, dealing with sudden deaths, removing brawling drunks from A&E – and the UHW was my home from home at certain points in my career. MacReady and his colleagues have to deal with the terrible aftermath of the bombings at the market and mosque in The Heath – but it is a nameless, injured young woman who leads him to discover there is more going on in the city than the police first realised. Woo, excitement!

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Book description

Bombs detonate in a busy souk, causing massive devastation.
An explosion rips apart a mosque, killing and injuring those inside.
But this isn’t the Middle East – this is Cardiff . . .

In a city where tensions are already running high, DC Will MacReady and his colleagues begin the desperate hunt for the attacker. If they knew the ‘why’, then surely they can find the ‘who’? But that isn’t so easy, and time is fast running out . . .

MacReady is still trying to prove himself after the horrific events of the previous year, which left his sergeant injured and his job in jeopardy, so he feels sidelined when he’s asked to investigate a vicious knife attack on a young woman.

But all is not as it seems with his new case, and soon MacReady must put everything on the line in order to do what is right.

IMG_2357 I didn’t realise Unforgettable was the second book in the MacReady series, if I’m honest I’m not one for jumping ahead in a series as I fear I might have missed something, and although it’s obvious that DC Will MacReady has issues that pertain to the previous book I still think Unforgettable made for an extremely gripping standalone. It’s pretty standard to have a detective in a crime thriller with issues and MacReady is no different, his personal life is one huge disaster but I still found him to be an interesting character. The commaradie amongst his fellow work colleagues added just the right amount of “gallows” humour to add.

Unforgettable begins with a “bang” literally when a bomb detonated in a busy Souk in the middle of Cardiff causes massive devastation as you can well imagine. We only have to pick up a newspaper or turn on the news to see events like this are very sadly part of our times, so the opening chapters were terrifyingly credible and shocking. What at first appears to be a racially motivated attack soon becomes something much more complex and Unforgettable made for a gritty fast paced read.

There are numerous strands to Unforgettable the bombings, a vicious knife attack, a group of Asians on trial for the vicious assault and murder of a young white male, all these events appear to be unrelated but are they? Well here’s where the author deftly leads the reader through the police investigation, revealing clues and red herrings aplenty.

Mike Thomas own career as a policeman adds authenticity to Unforgettable, the investigation, the dynamics within the team all give the reader insight into the workers of an investigation. You can help but feel the same frustrations that MacReady and his team have to endure on a daily basis. Fast paced and fraught with tension I found Unforgivable to be a “white knuckle” read, covering a very frighteningly credible topic. Action packed and filled with intrigue Unforgivable combines police procedure with a powerful and thrilling plot making for a throughly gripping read.

Buying link: Amazon UK 🇬🇧Print Length: 400 pages

Publisher: Zaffre (27 July 2017)

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Mike Thomas was born in 1971 in the Welsh town of Caerphilly, famed for being the birthplace of comedian Tommy Cooper, its ‘deliciously’ salty cheese, and its castle with a tower which allegedly leans at a sharper angle than the more celebrated one in Pisa.

His teenage years were spent breakdancing, spraying graffiti around the town’s walls and office blocks and just about staying on the right side of the law, until his early twenties when, inexplicably, he joined the local constabulary and began locking people up for spraying graffiti around the town’s walls and office blocks.

“…inexplicably, he joined the local constabulary and began locking people up for spraying graffiti around the town’s walls and office blocks…”

While working as a plod in Wales’ capital city of Cardiff, Thomas continued with his childhood passion: writing. As a freelance he produced articles for local newspapers, various websites and national travel magazines, while in 2007 he was one of the winners in the annual Rhys Davies Short Story Competition organised by Literature Wales. After completing a Master’s degree in Creative Writing at the University of Wales between 2007 and 2009, Thomas published his debut novel, Pocket Notebook, in 2010 with William Heinemann/Penguin Random House.

The author was on the prestigious list of Waterstones’ ‘New Voices’ for that year, while Pocket Notebook was longlisted for the Wales Book of the Year and optioned for television by Carnival Films, the producers of Downton Abbey. His second novel, Ugly Bus, was released by Heinemann in 2014 and is currently in development as a six part television series with the BBC. Both novels deal with the uglier side of policing.

“…He currently lives in the wilds of Portugal with his wife and children…”

Thomas left the police in the spring of 2015 and grew his hair and a pathetic attempt at a beard. He currently lives in the wilds of Portugal with his wife and children. Alongside chopping wood, cementing crumbling house walls and trying to find somewhere that sells his beloved Marmite, he continues to write articles and web pieces for a variety of sites and publications, and is contracted to London’s Bonnier Publishing for three new novels, the first of which – Ash and Bones – was released August 2016. The second in the series, Unforgivable, is due for publication in the summer of 2017.

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Links to author: Website Twitter Facebook

Follow the Unforgivable blog tour ………..

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**Blog Tour** Dying To Live by Michael Stanley #GuestPost @detectivekuba @OrendaBooks

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I’m delighted to welcome you to my stop on the blog tour for Dying To Live by Micheal Stanley which is published by one of my favourite publishers Orenda Books. Peter James describes this book as ‘A wonderful, original voice – McCall Smith with a dark edge and even darker underbelly’ and the good news, Dying To Live was published on the 30th June 2017 so you don’t even have to wait to get your hands on a copy.

To celebrate I have a really fascinating guest Post from the authors about The Bushmen people of the Kalahari, I hope you enjoy it as much as I did.

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A Culture at Odds

The Bushmen people of the Kalahari are at the centre of the latest Detective Kubu mystery – Dying to Live. It’s a Bushman who is found dead at the start of the story. At first it seems to be a natural death, but then the police decide that, in fact, he was killed. The more they look into his death, the more confusing it becomes. His body seems young on the inside but old on the outside. There’s an ancient black-powder bullet lodged in his abdomen, but no entry scar. And then his body is stolen from the morgue.

The Bushmen have been nomadic for hundreds of thousands of years. As other population groups crowded them, they moved into the arid regions of southern Africa and developed a very successful, if Spartan, lifestyle. They would dig for water and suck it out of the ground through grass straws, or find fluid in Tsama melons. If they found natural water, they would always leave some for those who came after; sharing was a survival strategy. They moved with the seasons, following game which they hunted using bows and poisoned arrows. The poisons make a story in themselves, ranging from snake venom, through extraordinary desert plants, to an extraction from the larva of a beetle which is so poisonous there’s no known antidote.

Fast forward to the twenty-first century. (There’s some pretty sickening stuff in the years we’re skipping, including a period when governments issued licenses to hunt Bushmen.) Now much of the Kalahari is declared as the Central Kalahari Game Reserve. Diamond mining drives the Botswana economy. Bushmen numbers have declined, and in 1997, the Government of Botswana started to relocate the Bushman to a permanent settlement outside the game reserve. In 2005 they forced the last of the Bushmen to move.

How you interpret the situation depends on your perspective. Here’s a superficial summary of the way some of the Bushman leaders see it, and how support groups like Survival International see it:

The Bushmen have always lived in the Kalahari. Fences and private land ownership—which is alien to them—interferes with their nomadic behaviours, and rules concerning hunting force them near starvation. Their culture is disrespected and is being destroyed by the change in environment, and legal constraints in which they’ve had no say. In order to keep the Kalahari for tourism and—according to some—diamond mining, the Bushmen are being forced into settlements little better than concentration camps on the verges of the land they once regarded as their own. Yes, there is some compensation, but this is soon frittered away leaving nothing. Financial planning is completely outside their ken.

And here is how the Botswana government sees it:

The government has a constitutional obligation to provide appropriate infrastructure for all its citizens. This includes proper schools, health care, water and sanitation. Furthermore, the Kalahari is remote and inaccessible, an ecological treasure that must be preserved. Discrimination on race is forbidden by the constitution, so if the Bushmen live there, how are other population groups to be prevented from living and hunting there? And now the Bushmen hunt with guns rather than bows and arrows. Their nomadic behaviour has changed to informal settlements where water has to be supplied by the government by road, rather than found in natural depressions or melons. Crudely put, the traditional culture is already dead, only the inconvenience remains. Thus planned settlements set up in appropriate places with schools and services is the answer. Appropriate compensation is paid to the people who have to move. They have a new and better life ahead.

In the wide gap between these two viewpoints is a variety of groups who tried to negotiate a scenario which would bring the two sides closer together. Nevertheless, with such extreme perspectives, and the muscle behind each side, it was almost inevitable that the matter would end in the Botswana High Court. In 2006, the presiding judge of the Court was the remarkable Unity Dow—first woman High Court judge in Botswana, member of the Kenyan Constitutional Court, writer, and now minister of education. Broadly, the three judges ruled in favour of the Bushmen. In the judgement, Dow said that the case was ‘ultimately about a people demanding dignity and respect. It is a people saying in essence: “Our way of life may be different, but it is worthy of respect. We may be changing and getting closer to your way of life, but give us a chance to decide what we want to carry with us into the future”.’ When we met her on a trip to Gaborone some years later, we asked her whether she felt the issues had been resolved by the ‘the most expensive and longest-running trial’ Botswana has ever had. She just smiled sadly and shook her head.

While researching our book, we visited New Xade, the settlement established by the government to the west of the Kalahari game reserve a hundred kilometres from anywhere. It’s a depressing place, there is little being done there, and little to do. It’s even some way off the main road into the game reserve, itself a dirt track. People pass it by; there’s nothing there they want.

But in Dying to Live we suppose that there is something there that people find they want very much. Something that kept the dead old Bushman young.

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Michael Stanley is the writing team of Michael Sears and Stanley Trollip. Both were born in South Africa and have worked in academia and business. On a flying trip to Botswana, they watched a pack of hyenas hunt, kill, and devour a wildebeest, eating both flesh and bones. That gave them the premise for their first mystery, A Carrion Death, which introduced Detective ‘Kubu’ Bengu of the Botswana Criminal Investigation Department. It was a finalist for five awards, including the CWA Debut Dagger.

The series has been critically acclaimed, and their third book, Death of the Mantis, won the Barry Award and was a finalist for an Edgar award. Deadly Harvest was a finalist for an International Thriller Writers’ award, and book 5, A Death in the Family, was an international bestseller.

Author links: Website     Twitter     Facebook

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Book description

When the body of a Bushman is discovered near the Central Kalahari Game Reserve, the death is written off as an accident. But all is not as it seems. An autopsy reveals that, although he’s clearly very old, his internal organs are puzzlingly young. What’s more, an old bullet is lodged in one of his muscles … but where is the entry wound? When the body is stolen from the morgue and a local witch doctor is reported missing, Detective ‘Kubu’ Bengu gets involved. But did the witch doctor take the body to use as part of a ritual? Or was it the American anthropologist who’d befriended the old Bushman?

As Kubu and his brilliant young colleague, Detective Samantha Khama, follow the twisting trail through a confusion of rhino-horn smugglers, foreign gangsters and drugs manufacturers, the wider and more dangerous the case seems to grow. A fresh, new slice of ‘Sunshine Noir’, Dying to Live is a classic tale of greed, corruption and ruthless thuggery, set in one of the world’s most beautiful landscapes, and featuring one of crime fiction’s most endearing and humane heroes.

Buying Links:    Amazon UK 🇬🇧     Amazon US 🇺🇸

My thanks to Orenda Books, Michael Stanley for the fascinating guest post  and Anne Cater for organising another fabulous blog tour.

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