Blog Tour for ‘Code 17’ by Francis Booth for #RandomThingsTour with thanks to tour host @annecater



Jonty crumples to the ground. I jump out of the Bentley and run over to him as fast as I can manage in my wedding dress. Jonty is bleeding from the head, the chest and the tummy. The last words he says to me before he dies are: ‘Code 17’.

My thoughts – a wacky, pacy spy thriller with an original, quirky protagonist! I genuinely had a fun time reading this.

‘Code 17’ consists of many short chapters from the first person perspective of Lady Laurencia Artemisia Claudia Summers…phew! AKA Laura, or Lady Laura Summers, AKA slightly dodgy art dealer. We get thrust straight into the plot after the groom gets shot on his way to his wedding to Laura – and although the wedding is one of convenience, Lady Summers is determined to seek retribution and immediately discovers, and is pitted against a network of undercover agents, and in particular the unsavoury Persephone. Lady Laura now has a challenging nemesis.

The writing is sharp, direct and consistently to the point but we still get enough to develop the characters and build plot. Its mini-episode style is suited to reading on the go, and it’s easy to drop back into the story as the scenes are very pictorial. There’re quite a few spoofy antics featuring both Laura, her sidekick/friends Muffie and Ronni. At times it’s humorous as the women begin to investigate, from picking up some C&A catsuits for a break-in job to accidentally causing a few violent ends!

There’s also the backdrop of the swinging sixties London, so the vibe is full of expression, art, glamour, music, celebrity and a dash of romance. It’s a fun journey following the antics of the characters in this book, and I happily recommended it to fellow readers.

Words from the author:

Code 17 was originally a musical idea.

Ten years ago I made an album that paid homage to the theme music of 1960s British TV spy series like The Man from UNCLE, The Baron and Department S, and to films like Modesty Blaise and The Ipcress File. The music on the album was from an imaginary TV series called Code 17, featuring the glamorous art dealer/spy Lady Laura Summers. She was imagined as a cross between Sharron Macready of The Champions, Emma Peel of The Avengers and Lady Penelope Creighton-Ward of Thunderbirds, though none of these women was the lead character in their own show.

Ten years later I thought I could make a novel out of Code 17 and Lady Laura – a fast-paced, female-led thriller set in the art world of Swinging 1967 London. I kept to the format of a twelve-episode TV series and tried to imagine each chapter as a self-contained thirty minute episode, split into short, cinematic scenes; I imagined our heroine getting into deep water in every episode but always getting out of it before the credits rolled.

I hope you can imagine it that way too.

You can hear the music at

And watch the promotional video here

Francis Booth Author Profile

Francis Booth’s novels are all available as eBooks and paperbacks on Amazon. They include:

· The Watchers series of Young Adult fantasy novels: The Charlotte Strain and The January Legacy;

· The Nevermore novel sequence Nevermore, Evermore, Gone Before and Nothing More, a series of dark revenge tragedies;

· Code 17, a fast-paced, female-led thriller set in the art world of Swinging Sixties London.

Francis is also the author of several academic books on modern literature and culture, also available on Amazon:

· Amongst Those Left: the British Experimental Novel 1940-1960 (to be published by Dalkey Archive Press);

· Everybody I Can Think of Ever: Meetings That Made the Avant-Garde;

· Girls in Bloom: Coming of Age in the Mid Twentieth Century Woman’s Novel;

· Text Acts: Twentieth Century Literary Eroticism;

· Comrades in Art: Revolutionary Art in America 1926-1938.

As a translator, Francis Booth has published English versions of the Marionette Plays of Maurice Maeterlinck and produced libretti adapted from Akutagawa, Strindberg and early Sanskrit and Buddhist texts, several of which have been set to music and recorded.

Francis also produces music under the name Tektonix, all of which is on YouTube and at He is currently at work on Code 17.1, the sequel to Code 17.

Mini Review: ‘A Single Thread’ by Tracy Chevalier

I enjoy historical fiction but I’m not a huge fan of wartime dramas. It’s also relevant to add I’m not generally a visitor to churches and cathedrals; I’m also not interested in embroidery. ‘A Single Thread’ has all these elements, set between wars as the threat of Hitler stirs, so it shouldn’t have been a top read for me, but it was. Whilst the thread of war is an underscore, the book explores the lives that must go on after great loss during WW1 and focuses on one of the ‘surplus’ women, a Violet Speedwell. It was the creation and voice of Violet that hooked me into this heart-warming and bittersweet story. I also discovered that bellringing and church embroidery is quite a detailed and interesting subject, and also how such activities can be healing and good for the soul. How such pastimes can build relationships and communities, particularly dealing with hardships and losses.

This is a steadily paced book with generally well-rounded characters, yes there are a few stereotypes, but I think the cast of these characters was a fitting observation of the time and its attitudes.

The main reason I loved this novel was following the story of Violet, a character I was rooting for throughout. She represents the plight of so many women left without husbands, fiancés, fathers and brothers after the tragic and futile loss of so many men during WW1. These women were often considered ‘surplus’ and they struggled to achieve anything but aged spinster status and caregivers to elderly relatives. Violet, frustrated with giving up her needs and independence moves away from her dominant mother and family home to Winchester. It’s this journey we follow as she builds her independence, meets a new group of people who will impact her life is so many ways. Violet learns to release the past and fight for a future that gives her independence, freedom, respect and love.

There are some fabulous support characters, one of these is a Louisa Pesel who was a real person. She was an embroidery expert who was asked by the Bishop of Winchester Cathedral in 1931 to design and sew cushions and kneelers for the choir stalls and Presbytery seats. A great character in this book and an amazing woman in real life; she worked at the Albert and Victoria Museum, travelled to Egypt and India as a single woman (rare at this time) and helped traumatised WW1 soldiers to sew beautiful things to help their rehabilitation. This adds lovely historical depth.

So, if you like historical fiction and a character motivated plot, then do try ‘A Single Thread’.

BLOG TOUR for ‘The Devil Upstairs’ by Anthony O’Neill @bwpublishing

The Blurb

Cat Thomas relocates to Edinburgh, fleeing death threats related to her job as a fraud investigator in Florida. Her 18th-Century Dean Village flat is utterly idyllic except for one thing…the devil upstairs.

Cat lies awake, delirious from lack of sleep, dreaming of ways in which to get rid of the utterly inconsiderate neighbour who keeps her awake every night with loud music and wild parties. Desperate for a solution, she joins a work friend at a witches’ conclave, and is blissfully surprised when the neighbour’s noise suddenly stops.

But when the devil upstairs is found dead and Cat’s seemingly perfect man arrives in his place, the problems she thought were solved come back to haunt her in new and unexpected ways.

My thoughts

I was really pleased to receive a copy of ‘The Devil Upstairs’ to review, with thanks to Black & White Publishing and of course, the author Anthony O’Neill. Once I started reading, I was hooked straight away into our protagonist’s relocation from a lifetime in Florida, to a completely contrasting environment of Edinburgh city. Edinburgh is a perfect setting for this story, and a favourite place of mine too.

Cat Thomas, after facing death threats as part of her fraud investigation work, is now based in a two-bedroom flat in a converted 18th century building – everything begins perfectly until the tenant of the flat above comes back. She is faced with the neighbour from hell who is loud, inconsiderate and beyond rude.

We watch Cat slowly deteriorate from lack of sleep until she despairingly agrees to visit a local witches coven as a potential answer to her hellish neighbour above. The meeting is rather a bizarre sulphur-fuelled event! Now, this is where things become decidedly strange and the book takes a sharp tonal turn. I quite like the weird and wacky, so I happily read on into a darker territory of suspicions, secrets, odd behaviours, threats and death. It’s now a study of Cat’s conscience (or lack of), police investigations, a mysterious new attractive tenant and an acerbating fraud investigation that alienates her at work.

Overall, I really enjoyed reading this, it’s a pacy coherently plotted nightmarish tale of threat and devilry. If you’ve ever had, or even currently have, a hellish neighbour then reading this may be rather cathartic…

I suspect the author once had a neighbour from hell himself and was perhaps purging emotions through this book, rather than indulging in the route you’d probably want to take at 3am in the morning!

The Author

Anthony O’Neill was born in Melbourne and lives in Edinburgh. He is the author of Dr Jekyll & Mr Seek, his sequal to Dr Jekyll & Hyde; Scheherazade, an Arabian Nights homage; The Lamplighter, a psychological horror; The Empire of Eternity, a history-mystery involving Napoleon and Egyptology; The Unscratchables, a satire featuring dog and cat detectives and The Dark Side, a crime novel set on the far side of the moon. Film rights to The Dark Side have been sold to 20th Century Fox.

August Reading Mini Wrap-Up

August is always a good reading month for me, as I take extra time off work to be with my daughter whilst she’s on her summer break. As usual the summer has passed by far too quickly and she’s already back at school beginning her A’Levels. At least there’s the autumn to look forward to, with warm jumpers, open fires, hot chocolate and of course more books to read. So, back to August and I read 23 books…

‘Stalking Jack the Ripper’ by Kerri Maniscalco – the first in the quartet series featuring Audrey Rose Wadsworth and Thomas Cresswell. A YA book featuring murder mysteries and two pathology students that repeatedly get caught up in them. Fun, easy read and I can see the appeal. 3.5 YA stars.

‘The Sleepwalker’ by Joseph Knox. When I got this to review I hadn’t realised it was a series, so it took me a while to catch up and grasp some of the character nuances. The writing is really good and the tensions strummed beautifully – I really enjoyed this and have ordered the first two books. 4 stars.

‘The Museum of Broken Promises’ by Elizabeth Buchan. I was sent a copy of this to review and I absolutely loved it! A brilliant book set during a terrible time in European history; it really pulls at the heart-strings. I needed tissues at the end. Highly recommended. 5 stars.

‘Felicity Carol and the Perilous Pursuit’ by Patricia Marcantonio. I was sent the second book to review, so I ordered and read ‘Perilous Pursuit’ first. Set during Queen Victoria’s Golden Jubilee celebrations – there’s murder, romance and a woman ahead of her time. Light, historical mystery fun but really easy to guess ‘whodunit’. 3 stars.

‘Felicity Carol and the Murderous Menace’ by Patricia Marcantonio. This was a review read and follows heiress and amateur sleuth, Felicity, as she explores forensic methods to chase a murderer, helped by Jackson Davies from Scotland Yard. 3 stars.

‘The Turn of the Key’ by Ruth Ware. I read this with the Pigeon Hole community to review and it was enjoyable. I wasn’t a huge fan of Ware’s descriptive style – it kept alienating me from the plot. Overall, fairly enjoyable 3.8 stars.

‘Shadow & Flame’ by Mindee Arnett. This is a YA fantasy novel and the second book in the Rime Chronicles. It was pacy, fun, dramatic and very enjoyable. 4 YA stars.

‘Deeplight’ by Frances Hardinge. This was sent to me to review and I enjoyed elements of it, but overall it didn’t hold my attention. The writing is really good, it’s quite long and sadly I drifted. Don’t let that put you off, I’ve seen others have loved this. 3 stars.

‘Lady in the Lake’ by Laura Lippman. I enjoy Lippman’s novels and was really pleased to receive this new book to review. An enjoyable read mixing a psychological focus with the classic noir. Set in 1966 Baltimore, it explores why a middle-aged housewife turned journalist becomes fixated on the murder of a forgotten black woman. 4 stars.

‘The Lost Ones’ by Anita Frank. This was another review read which I enjoyed, set in 1917 and follows the grieving Stella Marcham when she stays at the imposing Grayswick mansion. Soon, strange incidents start happening and Stella begins to uncover some dark and terrible secrets. 4 stars.

‘Spin the Dawn’ by Elizabeth Lim. This is the first book in the YA fantasy series called The Blood of the Stars. I had great fun reading this with its ‘Mulan’ and ‘Project Runway’ vibes. You get Chinese culture, a sizzling forbidden romance and a magical tailor set a seemingly impossible task. 4.5 YA stars.

”The Little Shop of Found Things’ by Paula Brackston. I was a bit disappointed with this, I found it slow and wasn’t held by the plot, set around a time-travelling chatelaine, taking our modern protagonist back to the early 17th century – it picked up in the last quarter, which pulled it into 3 stars.

‘Through the White Wood’ by Jessica Leake. This is a YA fanasy featuring some of the characters from Leake’s previous book ‘Beyond a Darkened Shore’. An enjoyable read about magical powers inspired by Russian Mythology, lots of drama, romance and personal sacrifice. 4 YA stars.

”The Wages of Sin’ by Kaite Welsh. I had a great time reading this, set in 1890s Edinburgh and features a female medical student-turned-detective. It’s also about the harsh challenges of a female trying to be respected and educated as well as a driven murder mystery. 4 stars.

‘House of Salt and Sorrows’ by Erin A. Craig. A YA fantasy novel loosely based on ‘The Twelve Dancing Princesses’ this was okay, but it could’ve been so much better! 3 YA Stars.

‘The Unquiet Heart’ by Kaite Welsh. This is the second book in the Sarah Gilchrist series and another fun read, Set once again in Victorian Edinburgh and follows Sarah as she continues her medical training, she now has an unwanted fiance and is back working with the mercurial, professor Merchiston on a new murder case. 4 stars.

‘The Governess Game’ by Tessa Dare. I read my first review Dare book a few months ago and had a great time. This is the second in the ‘Girl Meets Duke’ series and it’s really funny! This one’s all about a governess and a bad bad rake! 3.5 stars as not as good as the other Dare I’d read. I’d happily read another, I mean the stories are ridiculous and the characters hugely romanticised but generally racy, entertaining fun.

‘The Winter Rose’ by Jennifer Donnelly. I love this book and this is my third read. It’s the second book in ‘The Tea Rose’ trilogy and set in 1900s London and pitches India Selwyn Jones, a recently qualified doctor against Sid Malone, London’s most notorious gangster. Donnelly’s writing is so rich and vivid you are completely drawn into this world. 5 stars.

‘Elevator Pitch’ by Linwood Barclay. Not my favourite Barclay read but a solid mystery thriller and no, I’m NEVER getting into an elevator again! 3.5 stars.

‘The Book Collector’ by Alice Thompson. I bought this when I heard that Salt Publishing was going through a difficult time, every purchase helps if you want to check out their book lists? This one is a gothic story about madness and murder. Strange, delusional and macabre. 4 stars.

‘The Wild Rose’ by Jennifer Donnelly. This is the final book in ‘The Tea Rose’ trilogy and it’s definitely advisable to read the first two books to get the most out of it. A good conclusion to this epic family drama. I’m a happy reader. 4 stars.

‘Platform Seven’ by Louise Doughty. Despite a slow start (which probably was the point) I loved this! I needed my tissue box at the end! Platform Seven is a notorious place for suicides and there have been two fatalities in the past 18 months, Lisa Evans is desperate to find out what connects them and why they happened… particularly as she was the first one to die. 5 stars.

‘Hunting Prince Dracula’ by Kerri Maniscalco. This is the second book in the Wadsworth and Cresswell YA murder mystery series it centres on a copycat killer and is set in Europe’s best forensic training school, which is more like Dracula’s castle! 4 YA stars for the gothic adventure!

And that’s the August reads done!

I’ve already read a couple of great books in September and look forward to sharing those with you next month.