Tag Archives: Suspense

The Key To Death’s Door by Mark Tilbury @Bloodhoundbook @MTilburyAuthor #MustReads

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Book description 

Looking for a dark and compelling psychological thriller?

If you could discover the murderous truth of a past life and seek justice in this one, would you?

Teenager Lee Hunter doesn’t have a choice when he nearly drowns after spending the night at a derelict boathouse with his best friend, Charlie Finch. After leaving his body and meeting a mysterious light, Lee is sent back to relive the final days of another life. A life that ended tragically.

After recovering from his near death experience, Lee begins to realise that he is part of two lives linked by the despicable actions of one man.

Struggling against impossible odds, Lee and Charlie set out to bring this man to justice.

Will Lee be able to unlock the past and bring justice to the future?

The Key to Death’s Door is a story of sacrifice, friendship, loyalty and murder.

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I’m a big fan of Mark Tilbury’s writing, his books are normally dark and disturbing and The Key To Death’s Door is definitely both of these things. I should mention this probably isn’t one for the faint hearted there is strong language and violence, but if you dare to read it I’m sure like me you will find it a riveting read. I’m not going to rehash the plot details as all you need to know is in the book description, but suffice to say with elements of the paranormal running throughout it made this book a highly original albeit a very disturbing read.

Mark Tilbury’s  imagination knows no bounds, he pushes boundaries, delves into the deepest corners of the human mind and comes up with the most original and twisted plots. The author takes the ugliest traits in humans and turns them into living, breathing characters, that you will end up despising for their cruelty to others, but you read on hoping that “karma” catches up with them! One of the characters actually made my skin crawl, they were the devil incarnated . I found myself screaming with frustration and anger at this vile excuse for a human being. When an author can evoke such intense emotions in me then they deserve high praise indeed.

A perpetual sense of doom radiates from the pages, I found myself constantly holding my breath as The Key To Death’s Door grew darker and more sinister at each turn of the page. Even though this book pushes the realms of credibility I was happy to immerse myself in this very disturbing and at times emotional read. Mark Tilbury has a unique knack of writing about the unthinkable but then adds moments of tenderness and humour which prevent his books from becoming a depressive read. I especially found the relationship between Lee and Charlie endearing, at times I couldn’t help but become emotionally involved in their relationship, now that was something I wasn’t expecting.

If you have been put of by the supernatural element I would urge you to think again, The Key To Death’s Door has so much more to offer, it’s thought provoking, gritty and at times very emotional. If I had to describe Mark Tilbury’s books using only one word it would have to be “unpredictable” no two books are the same, which make his books such a thrill to read. Highly recommended if you are looking for a gripping thriller outside the norm.  

Buying links: Amazon UK 🇬🇧      Amazon US 🇺🇸

Print Length: 361 pages

Publisher: Bloodhound Books (16 April 2018)

I’m sure it will come as no surprise to see I’m giving The Key To Death’s Door 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 read, an original  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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**Blog tour** #Keeper by Johana Gustawsson #BookReview @OrendaBooks @JoGustawsson #FrenchNoir

 

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Today it’s my absolute pleasure to be one of the stops on the blog tour for Keeper by the new queen of French noir Johana Gustawsson. You can get a kindle copy right now or pre-order the paperback which is published on the 28th April by the fabulous Orenda Books. If you love a crime thriller that’s dark, disturbing and intricately plotted then look no further this is the perfect book for you. Before I share my review here’s the book description to whet your appetite.

Book description

Whitechapel, 1888: London is bowed under Jack the Ripper’s reign of terror.
London, 2015: actress Julianne Bell is abducted in a case similar to the terrible Tower Hamlets murders of some ten years earlier, and harking back to the Ripper killings of a century before.

Falkenberg, Sweden, 2015: a woman’s body is found mutilated in a forest, her wounds identical to those of the Tower Hamlets victims. With the man arrested for the Tower Hamlets crimes already locked up, do the new killings mean he has a dangerous accomplice, or is a copy-cat serial killer on the loose?

Profiler Emily Roy and true-crime writer Alexis Castells again find themselves drawn into an intriguing case, with personal links that turn their world upside down. Following the highly acclaimed Block 46 and guaranteed to disturb and enthral, Keeper is a breathless thriller from the new queen of French Noir.

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There are some books I like, others I love and then there is the rare book that blows me away with an ingenious plot, incredible writing, and bucketfuls of suspense and Keeper by Johana Gustawsson fits the bill perfectly. Block 46 the first book in the series actually made it on to my top reads of 2017, so I couldn’t wait to read this one. Keeper sees the return of French true crime writer Alexis Castells Canadian profiler Emily Roy, I do like the author’s career choices for her two main protagonists, as it means the plot doesn’t feature heavily on police procedures, which I find can sometimes overwhelm a plot. There are a lot of characters in this book so it did take me a while to work out who was who, but this in no way distracted from the read. Keeper is told through past and present events, and suffice to say the author skips flawlessly between time lines. I must give a mention to Maxim Jakubowski who translated the book, he’s done a fantastic job.

Keeper has so much to offer it’s a crime thriller with a unique plot, the author combines crimes committed in both Sweden and the UK with crimes from the past, in this case the horrific and gruesome crimes committed by Jack The Ripper. I found myself trying to work out the connection (I failed miserably I should add) between the Jack the Ripper crimes in Whitechapel 1988 and the crimes committed in Falkenberg, Sweden, 2015, how the hell could the two connect? I thought I had a fairly vivid imagination where crime thrillers are concerned, but I couldn’t even begin to figure out where this book was heading. I should mention that this book does contain some pretty gruesome and disturbing scenes, but as it’s a crime thriller they are very much part of the plot.

Johana Gustawsson has an incredible knack of writing in such a descriptive way that it doesn’t take much imagination to conjure up the images she writes about, from the poverty stricken Whitechapel, to the gruesome crime scenes that sent shivers down my spine you can’t but help but become immersed in her writing. Without a doubt the author has created a dark and unsettling read, Johana Gustawsson has such a vivid and creative imagination she takes you to the darkest places, explores the most gruesome crimes and then brings all the elements together to create one of the best crime thrillers I’ve read this year. I really can’t wait to see where the twisted imagination of the new Queen Of French noir takes her readers next. Highly, highly recommended, and yes this compelling crime thriller will be on my top reads of 2018 without a shadow of a doubt.

I’m sure it will come as no surprise to see I’m giving Keeper 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 and plus this one gave me a #Major #BookHangover something I don’t suffer with very often!

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Buyinng links: Amazon UK 🇬🇧         Amazon US 🇺🇸

Print Length: 276 pages

Publisher: ORENDA BOOKS (15 Feb. 2018)

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Born in 1978 in Marseille and with a degree in political science, Johana Gustawsson has worked as a journalist for the French press and television. She married a Swede and now lives in London. She was the co-author of a bestseller, On se retrouvera, published by Fayard Noir in France, whose television adaptation drew over 7 million viewers in June 2015. She is working on the next book in the Roy & Castells series.

My thanks to Karen Sullivan and Anne Cater for my copy of Keeper in exchange for an unbiased review and also for the opportunity to take part in this fabulous blog tour.

 

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Deadly Secrets by Robert Bryndza #MustReads2018 @RobertBryndza @Bookouture

 

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Anyone who follows my blog will know I’m a HUGE fan of crime author Robert Bryndza, and that my reviews for his Erika Foster series can be a tad over enthusiastic to say the least 😂. So you can imagine my excitement when I received an ARC of Deadly Secrets the sixth book in this series. Before I share my review here’s the book description….

Book description

To commit the perfect murder, you need the perfect cover.

On an icy morning, a mother wakes to find her daughter’s blood-soaked body frozen to the road. Who would carry out such a killing on the victim’s doorstep?

Straight off her last harrowing case, Detective Erika Foster is feeling fragile but determined to lead the investigation. As she sets to work, she finds reports of assaults in the same quiet South London suburb where the woman was killed. One chilling detail links them to the murder victim – they were all attacked by a figure in black wearing a gas mask.

Erika is on the hunt for a killer with a terrifying calling card. The case gets more complicated when she uncovers a tangled web of secrets surrounding the death of the beautiful young woman.

Yet just as Erika begins to piece the clues together, she is forced to confront painful memories of her past. Erika must dig deep, stay focused and find the killer. Only this time, one of her own is in terrible danger…

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Deadly Secrets by Robert Bryndza is the sixth book in the Erika Foster crime series, at this point in a crime series I find it’s sometimes the pivotal book, in other words the book where my love affair with a series ends. I read so many books that I just haven’t got the time to invest in a series that’s lost it’s lustre, but fortunately once again Robert Bryndza has written another fabulous and worthy addition to the Detective Erika Foster series, and yes I loved every damn page of this unmissable crime thriller.

One thing I will say for Robert Bryndza he certainly knows how to write an opening chapter that is guaranteed to pull the reader in, if I mention a blood-soaked body frozen to the ground you will get my drift. From the off you enter the dark and disturbing world of a chilling killer, whose MO is unusual to say the least! But then I expected nothing less, the author has such a vivid imagination I just knew he would come up with something disturbing and spine chilling.

Deadly Secrets isn’t as fast paced as some of the previous books in the series, but don’t let that put you off, as the author still manages to deliver a cracking crime thriller that is both gripping and multi layered. Erika Foster is probably one of my favourite fictional Detectives and her character has grown as the series has progressed, but this book delves more into Erika’s character than ever before, the reader is privy to her struggles as a detective, family member and as a woman of a certain age, which give her character an air of credibility very often lacking in fictional detectives.

Delivered in short snappy chapters Deadly Secrets is one you need to read with no interruptions, not because the plot is so complex that you need to concentrate, it’s just so darn good you just want to read it in one “do not interrupt” deliciously satisfying sitting. Deadly Secrets is layered in lies, deception, and obsession, and as always Robert Bryndza writes in such away you are lured into his stories with a devilishly twisted plot and writing that engages the reader from the start.

I must congratulate the author I can pretty much sniff out a twist before it happens, but no not this time, I’m sure my jaw hit the ground when I reached this point in the book, it was definitely an “OMG” moment but so cleverly done. I may have mentioned this before but the reason I love this series so much is the author’s ability to make each book completely different, so the series doesn’t feel like “the same old”, and just in case you haven’t already guessed I would highly recommend Deadly Secrets to anyone and everyone who enjoys a dark and suspense filled read.

Pre-order links:       Amazon UK 🇬🇧        Amazon US 🇺🇸

Print Length: 270 pages

Publisher: Bookouture (13 April 2018)

Link to other books in this series

 

A Murder Of Magpies by Mark Edwards #MiniReview @mredwards

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Today I’m finally sharing my review For A Murder Of Magpies, a short sequel to The Magpies which is still one of my favourite books ever. Read on for the book description and my thoughts…….

Book description

The terrifying sequel to the #1 bestseller The Magpies.

Five years ago Jamie Knight lost everything: his home, his wife and their unborn child. But at least the woman responsible, ‘Dark Angel’ Lucy Newton, was in prison, and slowly Jamie was able to rebuild his life.

But now Lucy has been freed on appeal, and before long Jamie receives a message from a desperate stranger. Lucy is up to her old tricks—ruining lives for fun.

Jamie agrees to help. But once again, he has no idea what he is getting himself into…

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The Magpies was the first book I read by Mark Edwards way back in 2013 and it’s one that often springs to mind as at the time it was one of the best psychological thrillers I had read in a long time, and it’s still one of my favourite books today. So of course I had to read the sequel A Murder Of Magpies, I should point out it’s a short story and not a full length novel, but don’t let that put you off the author manages to pack a lot into this extremely terrifying sequel, and remember the old adage “good things come in small packages” well in the case of this book it’s very true.

Lucy aka ‘Dark Ange’ has been released from Prison and Jamie, despite moving half way across the world to start a new life is drawn back into her web, when he receives a desperate message from a stranger. As this is a short story Mark Edwards wastes no time in hurling the reader into Jamie’s world, from the start his hatred for his old adversary Lucy is palatable. As for Lucy she’s a psychopath without a doubt, she’s a character you would definitely not want as a neighbour, she’s calculating, manipulative and downright chilling but at the same time you can’t help being fascinated by her.

Shrouded in malice A Murder Of Magpies manages to pack a punch, it’s packed to the brim with tension, something that I find can sometimes be lacking in a short read. After reading both books there’s a lot to be said for living in a detached house, Neighbours can be your best friends or your worse enemy.  I really enjoyed this sequel and meeting up with Jamie and Lucy again, but I only wish it had been a full length novel, so if you just happen to stumble across this review Mr Edwards “more Magpies please”.

Buying links:Amazon UK 🇬🇧        Amazon US 🇺🇸

Print Length: 93 pages

Publisher: Amazon Publishing (27 Feb. 2018)

The Fear by C.L. Taylor #BookReview #Mustreads2018 @AvonBooksUK @callytaylor

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If you are looking for a dark and twisted thriller, I may just have the book for you. The Fear by C.L.Taylor was published by Avon on the 22nd March 2018, read on for my thoughts…

Book description

When Lou Wandsworth ran away to France with her teacher Mike Hughes, she thought he was the love of her life. But Mike wasn’t what he seemed and he left her life in pieces.

Now 32, Lou discovers that he is involved with teenager Chloe Meadows. Determined to make sure history doesn’t repeat itself, she returns home to confront him for the damage he’s caused.

But Mike is a predator of the worst kind, and as Lou tries to bring him to justice, it’s clear that she could once again become his prey…

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There are a handful of authors books I would happily pick up without reading the book description and C.L. Taylor is one of them, she has the ability to turn a well used subject in fiction and turn it into the most twisted and extraordinary tale. The Fear is no different, Shocking, compelling, fraught with tension and guaranteed to keep you turning the pages as if your life depended on it.

Anyone who is a parent with a teenage girl will immediately be struck by a sense of unease when they pick up this book as it deals with the uncomfortable subject of a grooming, although it’s very much part of the plot it never felt unjustified and the author shows a great deal of sympathy and understanding towards the victims. Told from three POV Lou, teenager Chloe and the mysterious Wendy the author has an uncanny knack of breathing life into her characters so much so you feel their emotions and their pain but most importantly they are very credible. Lou and Chloe both take the same path, and “fall in love” with a predator, they are each at different points in their life, and yet they still share so many of the same emotions guilt, hatred and fear to name but a few.

Another character who deserves a mention is Mike how I detested him, he literally made my skin crawl. Poor Lou and Chloe both starved of affection and desperate for attention as children made them the perfect “victims” for Mike. It makes you realise how driven and manipulating pedophiles are in their pursuit of their prey, and how vulnerable girls are drawn into harmful relationships. What made this book an original read were the different characters perspectives of their relationship with Mike and the exploration of the after-mass of such damaging relationships and the complex emotions involved.

The second half of the book takes an ominous turn and I’m sure some readers may find this part of the book “far fetched” I just thought “who knows what we would do if we found ourself in a similar dilemma” so I was happy to go along with the direction C.L. Taylor took The Fear. The telling of Lou and Chloe’s story is imaginative, compelling and shocking, it’s a story that those who enjoy a book with moral dilemmas will find thought provoking, but at the same time a highly engrossing read. Highly recommended.

Buying link:   Amazon UK 🇬🇧

Print Length: 400 pages

Publisher: Avon (22 Mar. 2018)

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**Blog tour** Dark Waters by Mary-Jane Riley #GuestPost @mrsmjriley @KillerReads

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Today I’m thrilled to be part of the blog tour for Dark Waters by Mary-Jane Riley. This book is described as A darkly compelling psychological thriller, full of twists and turns, perfect for fans of Louise Jensen, Cass Green and Alex Lake. For my stop of the blog tour the author has written  A day with author……… post

First of all here is the book description to whet your appetite.

Secrets lie beneath the surface…
Two men, seemingly unconnected, are discovered dead in a holiday boat on the Norfolk Broads, having apparently committed suicide together.
Local journalist Alex Devlin, planning an article on the dangers of internet suicide forums, starts digging into their backgrounds.
But Alex’s investigation soon leads her to a much darker mystery – one that will hit closer to home than she could possibly have imagined, and place the lives of those she loves in terrible danger.

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We (my husband and I) are woken up bang on seven in the morning by Reggie, the youngest of our two golden retrievers, who, until then has been sleeping (relatively peacefully) down by the side of my bed. He is so reliable as an alarm clock that we haven’t set an actual alarm for over a year. My husband gets up and makes me a cup of tea before he goes off to work (he is a television reporter). I stay in bed and listen to the news for another half-hour or so. This is luxury for me as I had years of getting up at just after five for my job.

About half-past eight I take the dogs out. We are lucky to live in a small village with a lot of countryside around, and a large area of common land at the bottom of our garden. I find the walk really useful for thinking about what I’m writing, solving plot problems, working out my characters and how to move them from one place to another.

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When I get back I fiddle about having some yoghurt and honey and tidying up a bit before making a coffee and hitting that writing desk…..where I fiddle and faff about some more, having a quick look at twitter and e mails and Facebook and Instagram and then I open up the document with writing in it…and begin. Hopefully I will have left the previous days masterpiece in the middle of a scene or I’ve worked out what I’m going to say while on the walk so I’m not sitting there wondering where to go next.

I write some words.
I delete those words.
I look at Twitter and Facebook for inspiration.

I turn the WiFi off. Then have to turn it on again when I need to research something or look at a map (necessary for what I’m working on at the moment) so have to be very firm with myself and turn it off again or maybe I will fiddle about on social media…I do have the attention span of a gnat!

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More coffee and a thousand words later (hmm… a bit of creative licence there…) it’s time to take the dogs out again…a shorter walk this time and I take the opportunity to listen to a play or the omnibus edition of The Archers or the Kermode and Mayo film podcast – fabulous stuff if you like film!

Back to the desk for thirty minutes, then lunch and then… *whispers* a little sleep (sometimes curled up with Reggie on the futon thing in my study) or watch something on Netflix – often something recommended by author Mark Edwards (though he doesn’t know I take him up on his Twitter recommendations!) before feeding the dogs (see how they dominate!) and then doing bits of housework, like making up the fire, cleaning the floors (dogs, remember?) and other dreary tasks. I might do some more writing before my husband gets home at about 8.15pm. Then it’s a glass of wine (just the one?) and maybe a chat with one of the children (two boys and a girl, all of whom have left home).

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This is an ideal writing day which happens occasionally, though is more often than not interrupted by real life and shopping. And it has taken years of writing around the children and the day job and many, many rejections to get to this point.

I have, of course, glossed over the tears and the swearing and the banging of head on desk when the writing doesn’t go according to plan!

About the author

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Mary-Jane wrote her first story on her newly acquired blue Petite typewriter. She was eight. It was about a gang of children who had adventures on mysterious islands, but she soon realised Enid Blyton had cornered that particular market. So she wrote about the Wild West instead. When she grew up she had to earn a living, and became a BBC radio talk show presenter and journalist. She has covered many life-affirming stories, but also some of the darkest events of the past two decades. Mary-Jane has three grown-up children and lives in Suffolk with her husband and two golden retrievers.

DARK WATERS is her third crime thriller featuring investigative journalist, Alex Devlin

You can follow the author:

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/maryjanerileyauthor/
Twitter: @mrsmjriley
Instagram: maryjanerileyauthor

Links for the authors books:

Dark Waters http://amzn.to/2CLaUkK

After She Fell http://amzn.to/206Pp3u

The Bad Things http://amzn.to/2CJc3sN

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**Blog tour** End Game by Matt Johnson #GuestPost @Matt_Johnson_UK @OrendaBooks

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Today I’m thrilled to be one of the bloggers on the End Game by Matt Johnson blog tour. END GAME is the riveting conclusion to Matt Johnson’s Finlay trilogy. The author has kindly written an exclusive guest post which explores modern day slavery,  but first here’s the book description to whet your appetite.

Book description

Robert Finlay seems to have finally left his SAS past behind him and is settled into his new career as a detective. But when the girlfriend of his former SAS colleague and close friend Kevin Jones is murdered, it’s clear that Finlay’s troubles are far from over. Jones is arrested for the killing, but soon escapes from jail, and Finlay is held responsible for the breakout.

Suspended from duty and sure he’s being framed too, our hero teams up with MI5 agent Toni Fellowes to find out who’s behind the conspiracy. Their quest soon reveals a plot that goes to the very heart of the UK’s security services. End Game, the final part in the critically acclaimed Robert Finlay trilogy, sees our hero in an intricately plotted and terrifyingly fast-paced race to uncover the truth and escape those who’d sooner have him dead than be exposed.

End Games is available to purchase via Amazon UK 🇬🇧

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Modern slavery, closer than you think – Matt Johnson

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To many, the word ‘slavery’ conjures up a picture of people in chains, abducted and forcibly transported against their will to work on plantations across the world. Today, in a town, a street or a home near you, modern slavery is taking place under our very noses.

Just recently in the news, we heard about the Oxford and Rochdale cases which involved British girls trafficked within the UK for sexual exploitation.But although sex trafficking makes the headlines, modern slavery is just as prominent in forced labour and domestic servitude.

During my research for both Deadly Game and End Game, I travelled to Romania to learn about the routes used to move young women from their villages to work in places where they think they are heading for a better life. This is one thing I learned that all victims share. They think they are heading to a better job, for a more interesting life or for an education. Whatever the reason, they all share one thing – they are travelling to something they believe is better than they are leaving behind.

In the UK, the slave trade was outlawed and abolished in the 19th Century. After that, a person holding slaves could be prosecuted for offences such as false imprisonment, assault and – in more modern times – under Health and Safety legislation.

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It was only in 2004 that an offence was created of trafficking people into the UK for the purpose of forced labour, and it wasn’t until 2009, when the Coroners and Justice Act came into being, that an offence of holding a person in slavery or servitude was created. A similar offence also covers requiring a person to perform forced or compulsory labour and, for each offence, our prosecuting authorities have to prove that the accused knew, or ought to have known, that the victim was being held or forced to work against their will.

Deadly Game started in Romania, and is based on a gang who move young women from their homes to work in the sex-trade. Although fiction, the story has a sound basis in fact.

Sex slavery isn’t a new concept to Europe. In World War II, the Nazis set up ‘Joy Divisions’ in concentration camps that were filled with young Jewish women. These brothels were frequented by both the soldiers and the co-operative non-Jewish inmates. Across Europe, the German Army also set up many ‘Soldattenbordell’ where local women were forced into providing unpaid sexual services in return for avoiding the camps. Mass kidnapping raids were carried out in countries such as Poland, where young women were rounded up and then transported to become entertainment for the troops.

As the war ended, many Romanian soldiers who had been serving in the German Army returned to their homeland with an understanding of the money to be made by forcing women into the sex trade. As the forces of law got to grips with the criminal gangs, the method of providing girls simply changed from one of coercion to one of deception. In times of economic depression, hungry and desperate for paid work, it became easy to trick girls into applying for waitress, cleaning and other menial jobs in the cities. Once on the journey, the girls were doomed. It is no coincidence that most of the victims of trafficking are from economically deprived areas.

Deadly Game follows the journey of once such girl. End Game concludes the story. I’m aware that book are fiction, and will be read for entertainment, but I also hope that, by telling the story, I may be able to raise awareness in people’s minds that slavery hasn’t gone away, and the chains on the victims, although less easily seen, are still very much in use.

About the author

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Matt Johnson served as a soldier and Metropolitan Police officer for twenty-five years. Blown off his feet at the London Baltic Exchange bombing in 1992, one of the first police officers on the scene of the 1982 Regent’s Park bombing, Matt was also at the Libyan People’s Bureau shooting in 1984 where he escorted his mortally wounded friend and colleague, Yvonne Fletcher, to hospital.

One evening, Matt sat at his computer and started to weave these notes into a work of fiction that he described as having a tremendously cathartic effect on his own condition. He has used his detailed knowledge and memory to create what has been described by many readers as a fast paced, exciting and authentic tale of modern day policing.

 

More information, including book tour dates and festival appearances at www.mattjohnsonauthor.com

Newsletter sign-up at https://mattjohnsonauthor.com/newsletter-signup/

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