March 9

Born Bad – Marnie Riches

Born BadThe battle is on…

When gang leader Paddy O’Brien is stabbed in his brother’s famous nightclub, Manchester’s criminal underworld is shaken to the core. Tensions are running high, and as the body count begins to grow, the O’Brien family must face a tough decision – sell their side of the city to the infamous Boddlington gang or stick it out and risk losing their king.

But war comes easy to the bad boys, and they won’t go down without a fight. So begins a fierce battle for the South Side, with the leading Manchester gangsters taking the law into their own hands – but only the strongest will survive…

 

My thanks to Helena at Avon for my review copy and the chance to join the Born Bad blog tour.

 

One of the reviews where I will cut to the chase…reading Born Bad was a joyous experience, I bloody loved it.

Manchester’s criminal underworld are a volatile crowd and Marnie Riches is going to light the blue touch-paper under these powerful gangs and pit them against each other in a battle for supremacy. It is going to be bloody, the players will be treacherous and, in a world where reputation is everything, nobody can afford to show any weakness.

The story will track multiple characters and their lives will intertwine. At the heart of Born Bad is Paddy O’Brien – he is head of the family and controls one of the gangs.  Paddy gets what he wants and expects obedience, particularly from his wife Sheila. Although a powerful woman in her own right, Sheila cannot stand up to the volatile and aggressive behaviour of her husband and their relationship is somewhat strained. But when the opportunity comes for Paddy to get out and leave his enterprise behind both he and Sheila are eyeing up a new start, a clean break.

Needless to say walking away from the lifestyle which has defined him will not be easy and events will appear to conspire against him. A matter of family honour will lead to bloodshed – a hired killer engaged to avenge a perceived wrongdoing. But a death will demand a retaliation and a peaceful exit for Paddy and Sheila looks a bleak prospect.

The multiple focal points in Born Bad keeps the story flowing at a cracking pace. These are not nice people that we are reading about so you can be sure that something unpleasant will soon befall someone (I had such fun trying to predict who may not make it to the end of the chapter).

In a book of bad guys there are clear distinctions between those we are to root for and the really “evil” people we want to see fail. The character interaction is brilliantly handled, humour and empathy meets anger and irrationality and the reactions and responses are exactly how you would expect. The characters drive the story and they are wonderfully realised, without the depth and development that Marnie Riches bestows upon them the emotional engagement would not have been there for me. I believed in the characters and that gave Born Bad the life and vibrancy that a good book needs.

Yeah – I loved it.

 

Born Bad is published by Avon and is available now in paperback and digital format and you can order a copy here: https://www.amazon.co.uk/Born-Bad-Marnie-Riches-ebook/dp/B01KTKEX2Q/ref=tmm_kin_swatch_0?_encoding=UTF8&qid=1489098471&sr=1-1

 

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March 9

Guest Post: Marnie Riches – Born Bad

Manchester’s musical inspiration by Marnie Riches

Born BadManchester has a world-class music scene, and I’m lucky to have been a teen before and during the Madchester heyday, when the cool kids went to the Haçienda. I used to go there almost every Wednesday and Saturday to dance my little cotton socks off, praying that I might clap eyes on New Order, who co-owned the place. I was also an aspiring rockstar in my early twenties, when I returned home for a year after university and an abortive first stab at London life, trying to get a band together. In 1996, you could say I was a contemporary of the upcoming (as they were then), Elbow, and if you’re an Elbow fan, you’d be interested to know that I tried and failed to bag off with the legendary Seldom Seen Kid at a party, shortly before he sadly passed away. I remember him painting the railings of The Temple bar just outside where I worked at Manchester’s Training & Enterprise Council. We’d chat about being in bands and the struggle to get signed and “make it”. I migrated back down to London a couple of months later to immerse myself in proper trainee rockstardom. Three years of close-but-no-cigar followed, playing the Britpop wannabe circuit in Camden and Islington, but alas, my excellent band had missed that groovy gravy train… We were always in the right place at the wrong time.

But sod that! I’m now a best-selling crime writer, so all’s well that ends well.

It will come as no surprise to you, then, given my musical past, that I have a soundtrack to all the novels I write. For Born Bad, it comprises quintessentially Mancunian classics. Here are my top four tunes with thoughts on why I’ve chosen them to describe musically a story about Manchester’s gangland and gritty underbelly:

 

Isolation by Joy Division

IsolationI was always more of a New Order fan than a Joy Division fan, but Isolation’s industrial sound and effortless lo-fi cool makes me think of Manchester. When it plays in my car – the only opportunity I really have to deafen myself with my favourite music, nowadays, since I work in silence – I envisage bleak, grey streets on council estates. I feel the urban anti-chic of the city pulsate through me with every beat, putting me in mind of Born Bad’s Leviticus Bell, living in his crappy high-rise council flat on the Sweeney Hall estate. He is isolated by his poverty, lack of opportunity and desperate situation at home. But he’s street-smart and authentically urban-cool. He’ll do for me!

 

Bizarre Love Triangle by New Order

Bizarre Love TriangFrank O’Brien in Born Bad owns the world-class super-club, M1 House. Though I’m not stretchy enough to go clubbing more than once or twice per year now, M1 House is an amalgam of all the great clubs in Manchester, past and present. The DJs play the best music. The kids have the best time, obviously blighted by lethal gang violence – not that Manchester clubs are immune to being occasionally caught in the crossfire. Bizarre Love Triangle played in the Haçienda during its finest hour. I can remember standing in the lofty foyer, by the full-height, industrial plastic flaps, ringing wet with sweat from dancing on the packed dancefloor, listening to the track booming from the sound system. I revelled in how marvellous it was to be a Mancunian, listening to one of Manchester’s biggest bands in one of the coolest clubs in the world at that best of times. The clean electronic sound, with Hooky’s distinctive bassline over the top, embodies Mancunian artistic endeavour and the need to dance the blues away. Listen to it and understand Manchester.

 

Fools’ Gold by Stone Roses

Fools GoldThough I was never a mega-fan of the Stone Roses, I always loved Fools’ Gold as a song that epitomised Mancunian cool. Its shuffling backbeat and Mani’s iconic, super-funky bassline represent everything that’s effortlessly, timelessly stylish about Manchester’s music scene. Since it was used in the soundtrack to Guy Ritchie’s gangster flick, Lock Stock and Two Smoking Barrels – a film I must have watched at least twenty times for its slick dialogue, complex story-telling and sharp humour – Fools’ Gold has also acquired gangland connotations for me. In fact, the Manchester series with Born Bad as its first installation, is all about the pursuit of a villain’s fools’ gold – dirty cash you can barely get away with or enjoy spending because those ill-gotten gains might bring the law and the tax man down on you. The track brings to mind Manchester’s mean streets, its glittering new buildings and the clean crispness of freshly laundered money. Scratch the surface and you can see how really filthy it still is beneath!

 

How Soon is Now? by The Smiths

the-smiths-how-soon-is-now-rhinoThe Smiths are a long-standing love of mine, musically – the early Smiths, that is. Morrissey and Marr are undoubtedly one of the best songwriting duos ever and the pair encapsulated a working class desperation and loneliness like no other band has managed to do. Their sonically brilliant songs represent true Mancunian misery, black humour and poetry at its best. When I wrote about the hopeless life of Leviticus Bell in Born Bad, How Soon is Now? might have been his personal soundtrack. There’s nobody who truly loves him – even his own mother, Gloria. The chugging Bo Diddly-style guitar of Johnny Marr creates an impression of the grind of urban life with a searing, whining guitar-sound layered above it that puts me in mind of emergency service sirens, whizzing by in the night. But in among the canon of work by the Smiths, there are tracks that bristle with humour and hope, just as this book boasts the darkest and the lightest of moments, introduced by Gloria and the eccentric henchman, Conky McFadden. So, The Smiths had to be on my list!

 

If Marnie’s choices have made you want to revisit these classics then she has very kindly pulled together a Spotify playlist which you can access here: https://open.spotify.com/user/1142057371/playlist/0DgbSgJtWpOF14WgYiJC0e

 

Born Bad is published by Avon and is available now in paperback and digital format and you can order a copy here: https://www.amazon.co.uk/Born-Bad-Marnie-Riches-ebook/dp/B01KTKEX2Q/ref=tmm_kin_swatch_0?_encoding=UTF8&qid=1489098471&sr=1-1

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March 8

The Witchfinder’s Sister – Beth Underdown

The Witchfinder's Sister jacket‘The number of women my brother Matthew killed, so far as I can reckon it, is one hundred and six…’

1645. When Alice Hopkins’ husband dies in a tragic accident, she returns to the small Essex town of Manningtree, where her brother Matthew still lives.

But home is no longer a place of safety. Matthew has changed, and there are rumours spreading through the town: whispers of witchcraft, and of a great book, in which he is gathering women’s names.

To what lengths will Matthew’s obsession drive him?
And what choice will Alice make, when she finds herself at the very heart of his plan?

 

My thanks to Josie at Penguin Randomhouse for my review copy

 

Matthew Hopkins – the Witchfinder. One of the most notorious figures from a dark period in the history of the UK. He was responsible for many deaths, all in the name of purging witchcraft from England. In The Witchfinder’s Sister Beth Underdown is taking a very different approach to telling his story and it is wonderfully done.

As the title suggests the story is about Hopkins’ sister (Alice). We first meet Alice as she is travelling to her family home, she is pregnant but has recently lost her husband. On returning home she will reside with her brother, Matthew. Their mother has also passed away since Alice was last home so she is returning to an unfamiliar domesticity.

Alice gets settled into her new quarters before we are first introduced to Matthew. He has been travelling so the author can firmly establish the household before she introduces the reader to The Witchfinder.  I adored how Beth Underdown allowed us to learn about Matthew, the man, before we start to learn about Matthew, The Witchfinder.  We learn of his disfigurement, how he and his sister looked out for each other as children and we see how he runs his house.

Yet as the story evolves – and it is a wonderfully written work of historical fiction – the tension between Alice and Matthew will grow. We see Matthew fade and The Witchfinder come to the fore.  He has plans and he has a mission and it will keep everyone enthralled.

Beth Underdown has delivered a magnificent tale, creepy, accessible and enthralling. Highly recommended.

 

The Witchfinder’s Sister is published by Penguin and is available here

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March 4

Anglesey Blue – Dylan H Jones

Anglesey BlueA Gripping New Serial Killer Thriller

MURDER. BETRAYAL. REVENGE.

It’s not the homecoming Detective Inspector Tudor Manx was expecting, but solving the case is just the start of his problems.

Recently transferred from the London Met to the North Wales Constabulary, Detective Inspector Tudor Manx has come to Island of Anglesey hoping for a quiet life.

But his hopes are dashed when a brutally mutilated body is found crucified to the bow of a fishing boat sending shockwaves through the peaceful community.

Manx’s faces pressure to solve the case quickly equipped with an inexperienced team.

Is the body a message or a premonition of more murders to come?

Adding to his mounting problems, Manx’s troubled past returns to haunt him. Manx left the island after the disappearance of his younger sister, Miriam; a cold case that still remains unsolved.

Can Manx solve the case before the body count rises?

How will he cope when he is forced to choose between his family and his duty as a police officer?

 

My thanks to the team at Bloodhound Books for my review copy and the opportunity to join my very first Bloodhound tour.

 

Picking up a book by an author I have never read before is always a bit of a thrill for me. You can read the book blurb or you can have a story recommended by a friend, but it is not until you start to read a book for yourself that you can know if you are going to enjoy the next few hundred pages. I knew from pretty early on in Anglesey Blue that I was going to enjoy it.

First there is DI Tudor Manx, adjusting to life in Anglesey after a transfer from London (and under a bit of a cloud within the force), he gives the reader an outsiders-eye view on life in the town. His team are a relatively inexperienced bunch of coppers – life in small town Wales doesn’t seem to compare to that of London’s Met police so Manx will have to drive, encourage and motivate his colleagues if they are to make any progress with a murder enquiry.

Yup Murder. There is a decidedly dark tone to Anglesey Blue which I delighted in. Bodies cropped up, a particularly nasty drug dealer (with his hired muscle) is looking to establish new distribution channels on the island for their new drug of choice. Manx and his team will have their work cut out but for a reader it is a highly entertaining challenge.

One of the best ways to hook me in a story is to have great dialogue between the characters, not just the conversations which will drive a police investigation but the chat amongst colleagues and friends. Dylan H Jones absolutely nails this for me – the station chatter, the flirtatious barmaid, the meeting of parents concerned about drugs on the island…it was so well written that I wanted to keep reading as I was enjoying not just the crimes and investigations but the camaraderie amongst the characters.

There are many crime novels out there to choose from but miss Anglesey Blue at your peril, it’s a gem.

 

Anglesey Blue is published by Bloodhound Books and is available now in paperback and digital format.

You can order a copy here.

Anglesey Blue Tour

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March 3

False Prophet/Never Forget (Saul Marshall) – Richard Davis

So what do you do when you read the *wrong* title for a blog tour?  Well you spend half an hour coming up with imaginative names to call yourself. Then 5 minutes checking you definitely have mixed up which book was the focus of the tour (I had). And then you stay up reading until 3am to post a blog tour “double-header” of the Saul Marshall books by Richard Davis.

There was quite a lot of coffee involved in bringing you these reviews, but good books and lots of coffee is how I like it!

FALSE PROPHET

FalseProphet_CropA psychotic terrorist has his son. He will do anything to save him

When a rogue cult turns deadly, the FBI call on former conman Agent Saul Marshall. FALSE PROPHET introduces a gripping new series from thriller writer Richard Davis

Marshall is soon drawn into a cat and mouse chase with the leader of the cult, Ivan Drexler. As the scale of Drexler’s terrorist ambition becomes ever clearer, news arrives that he has taken Marshall’s son hostage. Removed from the line of duty, he must work alone, off-grid.

As the attacks intensify, Saul will stop at nothing to defeat Drexler.

But the FBI are questioning Saul’s own part in the carnage. He must work fast to save both his country and his life. Can Saul stop the carnage before it’s too late? And can he save his son?

As wave after wave of attacks break, the clock is ticking for Saul.

 

First up in this double-header is False Prophet. We are introduced to Saul Marshall – he is a guy with a fascinating past, an FBI agent who was once one of the best conmen in the game. He is resourceful, connected and a bit of a loose cannon (basically he is a hugely entertaining lead character).

Marshall is on a visit to England. A prisoner with a history of mental health issues has a warning for Saul – he knows of a former prisoner by name of Ivan Drexler who has crossed paths with Saul in the past and he blames Saul for his incarceration. The warning is that Drexler (who is without conscience or compassion) may be planning to unleash a string of attacks on American citizens.

Saul cannot ignore the warning but there seems to be no real substance to the suspicions. However, events are soon flipped on their head.  Draxler is heading up a cult and has kidnapped Saul’s son to ensure Saul places himself into the path of Draxler and his minions. Can Saul keep up with Draxler and stop him unleashing his terror attacks?

False Prophet is a fast paced action thriller. Draxler as the “big bad” is a particularly evil character who inflicts some quite gruesome (and imaginative) harm onto several characters throughout the story. It makes for quite compelling reading and the speed at which the story unfolds is the perfect way to reflect the urgency/race against time which faces Marshall.

As a fan of action thrillers I have to say that False Prophet ticked all the right boxes for this reader.  The chapters are short and punchy which kept the feeling of a high tempo going. Draxler’s cult were suitably disturbing and the author did a good job of positioning their foundation and their threat risk. Marshall, as I have indicated, is a fun character to follow and I loved having Never Forget to dive straight into on finishing False Prophet – I was happy to keep Marshall’s story going a bit longer.

 

False Prophet is published by Canelo and you can order a copy here.

 

NEVER FORGET

Canelo_NeverForget_Ebook4Saul Marshall is on the run.

As a wave of seemingly random assassinations engulfs California, Marshall finds himself drawn into a situation spiralling out of control.

He soon discovers some of the webs’ most secure protocols have been compromised by a rogue team of former Chinese agents. When Marshall realises what they plan, the stakes are raised…

And that’s before the Secretary of State gets involved. Can Marshall unravel the deceit and tricks before it’s too late? Can he stop the carnage, or will he become part of it? One thing is for certain: either way his enemies will never forget.

 

Never Forget – Saul Marshall returns (though thanks to my scheduling faux pas he has been my constant companion for a few days).  Happy days though as I have been enjoying the frenetic adventures.

The Saul Marshall books are most definitely recommended for fans of the action thriller. If you have read your way through the Scott Mariani (Ben Hope) books or enjoyed Matthew Reilly then I urge you to seek out Never Forget and False Prophet, these are guaranteed thrill-fests.

In Never Forget I felt there was much greater emphasis placed upon Saul’s “unconventional” background. Before becoming an FBI agent he had been a successful conman and these skills are exploited here to great effect. The break from a more traditional FBI approach and mixing up the investigative element with the alternative skills that Saul brings to the party make him an unpredictable and engaging lead.

As was the case with False Prophet the central themes are extremely well positioned. Never Forget is tech focussed – reading about cybercrime/hacking and technology manipulation gave me a distinctly uneasy feeling as I start to question how much of the fiction in the novel could actually be possible (or even happening in some form). There is political intrigue too and it all meshes well to keep the reader hooked.

Never Forget will stand well without the need to have read the first book. Everything you need to know is nicely explained but once the story gets started you just get drawn in and go along with what’s unfolding on the pages in front of you.

A very welcome change in pace for this reader, there is always a place in my book collection for an exhilarating thriller and Never Forget fits the bill very nicely.

 

Never Forget is published by Canelo and can be ordered here.

 

My thanks to Faye Rogers for my review copies and the opportunity to join the tour.

Never Forget blog tour 4

 

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February 27

Say Nothing – Brad Parks

Say NothingOn a normal Wednesday afternoon, Judge Scott Sampson is preparing to pick up his six-year-old twins for their weekly swim. His wife Alison texts him with a change of plan: she has to take them to the doctor instead. So Scott heads home early. But when Alison arrives back later, she is alone – no Sam, no Emma – and denies any knowledge of the text . . .
The phone then rings: an anonymous voice tells them that the Judge must do exactly what he is told in an upcoming drug case and, most importantly, they must ‘say nothing’.

So begins this powerful, tense breakout thriller about a close-knit young family plunged into unimaginable horror. As a twisting game of cat and mouse ensues, they know that one false move could lose them their children for ever.
Hugely suspenseful – with its fascinating insight into the US judicial system and its politics of influence and nepotism – Say Nothing is, above all, the poignant story of the terror these parents face, and their stop-at-nothing compulsion to get their children back.

 

My Thanks to Lauren at Faber & Faber for my review copy.

 

When I get asked what book I would recommend, Say Nothing is now my first answer. I have just spent the last two days pouring over this thriller, devouring every word and I cannot say too many good things about it. Let me save you a skip to the foot of the page…Say Nothing gets an epic 5 stars from me.

<And breathe>

We meet Scott Sampson. He is a judge with a good reputation. He has a happy home life, a loving family and life is grand. But things are about to change.  Scott receives a text message from his wife telling him she is taking their young twins to an appointment with the doctor and that he need not collect them from school. No cause for concern, just a change to their normal routine – until Scott’s wife returns home without the kids and they realise something has gone wrong. As the couple try to make sense of their conflicting understanding of the afternoon’s events the phone rings and their world is turned upside down.

Their twins have been kidnapped. Further instruction will follow in due course but in the meantime neither Scott or Alison can let anyone know what has happened – SAY NOTHING.

Scott has to continue going to work and hearing cases so in addition to a tense kidnap story we are treated to an engaging courtroom drama too. I have not read very many legal thrillers of late and I realise that I miss them – Say Nothing handles the switches between courthouse and domestic drama brilliantly and both elements to the story play out fabulously well.

The story zips along at a fast pace and, with the constant worry over what may happen to two helpless kids at the hands of their abductors, you find that you just have to keep reading.

The book asks how far you would go to protect your children and Scott and Alison will be pushed to the limit. Doubts and suspicion of family, friends and colleagues will threaten to overwhelm them and events outwith their control will seem to conspire against them and try to thwart the safe return of the twins.

Gradually it becomes clear exactly why the kidnap was arranged and Scott will become increasingly pressured into following orders to keep his children safe. But if a high profile judge starts behaving erratically then people will start to notice. How long can Scott maintain the façade of normality when someone else is calling the shots and seems to know his every move?

Brilliant, brilliant storytelling which I cannot recommend enough. I mention it was a 5 star read?

 

Say Nothing is published on 2 March 2017 by Faber & Faber and you can order a copy here.

Follow the Say Nothing tour

SAY NOTHING_blog tour graphic

 

 

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February 24

Stasi Wolf – David Young

Stasi WolfHow do you solve a murder when you can’t ask any questions?

East Germany, 1975. Karin Müller, sidelined from the murder squad in Berlin, jumps at the chance to be sent south to Halle-Neustadt, where a pair of infant twins have gone missing.

But Müller soon finds her problems have followed her. Halle-Neustadt is a new town – the pride of the communist state – and she and her team are forbidden by the Stasi from publicising the disappearances, lest they tarnish the town’s flawless image.

Meanwhile, in the eerily nameless streets and tower blocks, a child snatcher lurks, and the clock is ticking to rescue the twins alive . . .

 

My thanks to Emily at Zaffre for my review copy which I received through Netgalley

Karin Müller returns and I couldn’t be happier. Last year I had the opportunity to read David Young’s debut novel Stasi Child and I loved it. The story was set in 1970’s East Berlin and was a refreshingly different spin on a police procedural story.

Now Müller returns in Stasi Wolf and we find that the events in Stasi Child have resulted in her being sidelined by her department. She is frustrated by the lack of opportunities she is given to rebuild her career and finds herself interviewing petty criminals (necessary work for the State but a task well beneath her skill level). NB I should highlight that Stasi Wolf can be read as a stand-alone novel and it is not necessary to have read Stasi Child first…though I would absolutely recommend that you read both.

The disappearance of twin babies in the new town of Halle-Neustadt gives Karin a chance to head up a new investigation team and start to rebuild her career – not that she will have much option in turning down the request she investigates, that’s not how it works in East Berlin! Karin heads to Halle-Neustadt but she will find the experience rather challenging; the geography of the new town is somewhat unique (with just a single street in the whole town having a street name). There is also a tricky problem to overcome, keeping the good name of the town intact means she cannot publicise the fact that she is investigating a double kidnapping – so how can she be expected to make any enquiries?

There are a number of flashback moments in the story which take us back some 10 years prior to Müller’s investigation. While it is not immediately clear why this jump is being made (obviously it will become clear)  the ‘quirky’ characters that we follow made me want to keep reading to discover their relevance.

Once again David Young has crafted an engaging story which I found utterly compelling and wholly absorbing. I know nothing of 1970’s Germany but the world was expertly woven around me as I read Stasi Wolf. The constant awareness that Karin’s every move could be under scrutiny by the State gives a detective thriller the additional feel of reading a spy novel.

Müller is a great lead character and we get to see her really developed in this novel. Her private life is explored to give her life beyond her job and we get to learn something of her childhood and see some events which may have shaped her into the woman she has become.

David Young can tell a cracking story, Stasi Wolf should be on your reading list.

 

Stasi Wolf is published by Zaffre and is available now. You can order a copy here: https://www.amazon.co.uk/Stasi-Wolf-Oberleutnant-Karin-M%C3%BCller/dp/1785760688/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1487894341&sr=1-1&keywords=stasi+wolf

David has provided some fascinating insights into some of the background and actual events which made their way into Stasi Wolf.  If you follow back through the tour dates you will be richly rewarded

Stasi Wolf Tour

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February 20

Ragdoll – Daniel Cole – Release Week Update

RagdollA body is discovered with the dismembered parts of six victims stitched together, nicknamed by the press as the ‘Ragdoll’. Assigned to the shocking case are Detective William ‘Wolf’ Fawkes, recently reinstated to the London Met, and his former partner Detective Emily Baxter.

The ‘Ragdoll Killer’ taunts the police by releasing a list of names to the media, and the dates on which he intends to murder them. With six people to save, can Fawkes and Baxter catch a killer when the world is watching their every move?

 

 

 

My thanks to team at Trapeze who provided a review copy through Netgalley

Having shared my original review of Ragdoll a few weeks ago I bring a slightly updated take on the book and join the blog tour as this is the final countdown to release day….

Detective William Fawkes (aka Wolf) had put his heart and soul into capturing a killer. But when the jury returns its verdict, Wolf’s emotions boil over and he attacks his chief suspect beating him to within an inch of his life.

Spin forward a few years and Wolf is back in active service. His life has been turned upside down by the events in that courtroom, however, fate has conspired to give Wolf a fresh chance at salvaging his career. But Wolf cannot just shake off the baggage that he carries and someone is clearly not keen to let Wolf move on, a killer has decided to pit their skills up against that of the notorious “Wolf” Fawkes and if Wolf cannot identify a murderer then he may well become a victim too.

The cover blurb (0utlined above) gives an early indication that Daniel Cole is out to shock his readers with a dark tale of cop vs killer. I’d say he does a pretty good job too – Ragdoll should appeal to readers of Paul Finch and Katerina Diamond…you are never fully confident that anyone in the story is “untouchable” and everyone is in peril.

For readers who also enjoy tv police procedurals this is a story which you will feel is made for dramatization.  And that is my only (minor) quibble with Ragdoll – as much as I enjoyed the story it felt like reading the “book of the film”.  It seemed to have a very structured ebb and flow of big events: a build up to a cliff-hanger incident, resolve it, start a build up to the next one, resolve it. This is normal in all action/thriller books but in the case of Ragdoll they were very noticeable.

Style issues aside Ragdoll is a great read, I liked Fawkes who was a very engaging lead character. Daniel Cole delivers some really nasty twists and a couple of cracking “WTF” moments which had me re-reading paragraphs as I tried to get my head around what had just unexpectedly unfolded.

Be prepared to hear a lot more about Ragdoll through 2017, it’s going to be a biggie.

 

Ragdoll will publish on 23 February 2017 and is available to pre-order here: https://www.amazon.co.uk/Ragdoll-Daniel-Cole/dp/1409168743/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1487634296&sr=1-1&keywords=ragdoll+daniel+cole

 

RAGDOLL-BLOG-TOUR-FINAL

 

 

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February 20

Desperation Road – Michael Farris Smith

Desperation RoadFor eleven years the clock has been ticking for Russell Gaines as he sat in Parchman penitentiary in the Mississippi Delta. His time now up, and believing his debt paid, he returns home only to discover that revenge lives and breathes all around.

On the day of his release, a woman named Maben and her young daughter trudge along the side of the interstate under the punishing summer sun. Desperate and exhausted, the pair spend their last dollar on a motel room for the night, a night that ends with Maben running through the darkness holding a pistol, and a dead deputy sprawled across the road in the glow of his own headlights.

With dawn, destinies collide, and Russell is forced to decide whose life he will save – his own or that of the woman and child?

 

My thanks to Anne C for the opportunity to join the Desperation Road blog tour.

Russell Gaines is just out of prison. Having served his time he is making his way home – smalltown USA. We don’t immediately know what Russell has done, however, someone clearly has not forgotten his crime as on reaching town he is recognised and set upon by two men who beat him up.

Elsewhere a young woman is walking down a long stretch of interstate under the heat of a blazing sun. She has her daughter with her and the two are wilting in the heat. It is not clear where they have come from and they don’t seem to have a destination in mind but they are struggling and their desperation is apparent to the reader.

On eventually finding respite in a motel the mother spots an opportunity to earn some cash by providing comfort to truck drivers while her daughter sleeps – needs must.  However, events take an unexpected turn and she falls foul of the police but a trip to the station is not what this officer has in mind!

Two troubled souls are going to come together and in Michael Farris Smith’s Desperation Road there is a feeling that not everyone is going to come through the story and find a happy ending waiting for them.

As is often the way of a story set in a small town, the dynamics of the characters and the relationships they forge are the driving force behind the tale and Desperation Road is no different. Russell is a really likeable character, we learn why he was imprisoned, how those around him had to adjust and we see him step back into the space he left – only to find that everything has changed and moved on without him.  It is powerful reading at times and when his outlook was looking less than optimistic I was rooting for him to find a solution that would make his situation less bleak.

Desperation Road’s enjoyment is very much in the telling of the story.  It is paced just about perfectly for a tale of small town USA.  The story switches nicely between Russell and Maben (the mother of the young girl), their backstory is built up well and we find how their destiny will be inextricably linked. Very clever and entertainingly told.

 

Desperation Road is published by No Exit Press on 23 February 2017

You can order a copy here: https://www.amazon.co.uk/Desperation-Road-compelling-literary-crime-ebook/dp/B01N52ILFQ/ref=sr_tnr_p_1_362920031_1_twi_kin_2?ie=UTF8&qid=1487538873&sr=8-1&keywords=Desperation+Road++Michael+Farris+Smith

 

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February 18

Cover Reveal: Tag You’re Dead – Douglas Skelton

Last year Douglas Skelton introduced us to Dominic Queste in the fantastic The Dead Don’t Boogie. It was one of my favourite reads and was included in my Top 5 Scottish Books of 2016.

In just a few short weeks Queste will return in Tag You’re Dead and Douglas has entrusted three starry eyed bloggers to give everyone the first glimpse at the cover. Play the fanfare music….

Tag You're Dead

 

And a sneaky look at the cover blurb too:

Maverick investigator Dominic Queste is on the trail of missing butcher, Sam Price. But he soon uncovers a killer with a taste for games. What began as a simple favour for his girlfriend quickly descends into a battle for survival against an enemy who has no qualms about turning victims into prime cuts.

Amidst a twisted game of cat and mouse, suspicious coppers, vicious crooks and a seemingly random burglary, Queste has to keep his wits about him. Or he might just find himself on the butcher’s block.

Tag You’re Dead is published on 27th April by Sarabrand Books but I will be trying to bribe Douglas with offers of coffee and cake to come back and chat about the book before then – watch this space.

Now head over to visit my two starry-eyed buddies and catch their take on today’s reveal:

Noelle at CrimeBookJunkie: https://crimebookjunkie.co.uk/

Sharon at ChapterInMyLife: https://chapterinmylife.wordpress.com/

 

Category: Blog Tours | Comments Off on Cover Reveal: Tag You’re Dead – Douglas Skelton