‘The Summer of Reckoning’ by Marion Brunet and published by Bitter Lemon Press #RandomThingsTours

It’s lovely to be a part of ‘The Summer of Reckoning’ blog tour today, I’m joining in with an extract from the novel, please scroll down for a taste of the writing and more information about this enticing story.

Book Blurb…

A psychological thriller set in the Luberon, a touristic French region that evokes holidays in magnificent pool-adorned villas. For those who live there year-round, it often means stifling poverty and boredom.

Two teenage sisters have grown up in a world where the main distractions are hatred of Arabs and booze. When Celine, 16, discovers she is pregnant and refuses to divulge her lover’s identity, her father embarks on a mission of revenge. A dark and upsetting account of an ailing society, filled with silent and murderous rage.

Brunet uses her tense and efficient novel to tell us a story of ‘people at sea, on a boat punctured just above the waterline, never far from a shipwreck’. No one describes better the poisonous claustrophobia of families trapped in small rural towns. She writes with a scalpel about couples, family, sexism, racism and poverty.



At home, Johanna remembers, a hand on the backside was friendly, like – a way of saying you had a nice one, meaning “You’ve got potential” – something between a caress and a slap on the rump of a mare. The girls held trump cards, like in a tarot game, and you could almost say that if they played them right, they’d win. Except that neither of them – not Jo and not her sister Céline – have ever won any game. But since they hadn’t drawn up the rules of the game, they were shafted whatever they did. Trump cards or bait, it was dead in the water before it even started.

For Céline, it’s not a hand on her backside tonight, but a slap across her face. Her father, furious, is almost choking on his anger. He doesn’t exactly have a wide range of vocabulary as it is, but this is worse. He turns his daughter’s face with his huge builder’s hand; she crashes down onto the kitchen floor – a heap of wet cloth. She makes an odd kind of sound, as though some bits of her have broken.

“Who is it?”

Céline couldn’t answer even if she wanted to. She tries to catch her breath. Her hair hangs straight over her face, so you can’t see her eyes or her mouth. Jo would like to help her but it’s as though her feet are screwed to the floor like a prison bed.

The kitchen smells of detergent and lavender, like an advert for the South of France, cicadas and all.

“Who’s the piece of shit that did this to you? Who’s the son of a bitch who dared?”

Their mother fills a glass with water. It slips out of her hand and rolls into the stainless-steel sink. She whispers Stop it, but without conviction. Actually, you don’t really know who she’s saying it to.

“Are you going to answer me or not?”

Then her father stops yelling. His chin starts to quiver and that’s even more threatening, so Jo looks away. Their mother crouches down, holding the glass of water, and lifts Céline’s face but with no tenderness. She’s never been shown any herself, after all. Just for a second, you wonder if she’s about to throw the water in her daughter’s face or help her drink it. Céline props herself up on the floor with one hand and clings to her mother with the other. The water spills and runs down her mother’s bare knee and she gets annoyed, pulls away, leaves the glass on the floor and stands back up with difficulty – a very old woman all of a sudden, though she always carries on as if she’s thirty. Céline lets go of her wrist and remains lying on her elbow. Her lip has swollen up and her nose looks crooked. Her father has never hit her so hard before. She takes the glass to drink from it but the water runs down the side, over her chin and onto her T-shirt that has a pink pattern with sequins around it, and there’s blood bubbling out of her right nostril. There’s a stabbing pain in her stomach, like a thousand darts.

Her father stands with his arms crossed, having regained his strength even in his body language, and challenges Céline with his glare. Her eyes are full of water, her cheeks hollow from gritting her teeth.

“She’s not going to tell,” her mother hisses. “The bitch isn’t going to tell us anything.”

‘Deep State’ by Chris Hauty, published by Simon & Schuster #RandomThingsTours

I’m delighted to share an extract from ‘Deep State’ as part of the #RandomThingsTour for this debut thriller by Chris Hauty. With thanks to Simon & Schuster, and Anne for the invite. I’m looking forward to reading ‘Deep State’ and chatting about it soon.

A covert state hidden within a government;
a secret organisation of high-level operatives;
exerts control through manipulation and a culture of pain and fear.

Who can you trust?

About the book

Hayley Chill isn’t your typical West Wing intern. Ex-military and as patriotic as she is principled, she is largely vilified by her peers and lauded by her superiors – it’s a quick way of making enemies. It is Hayley who finds the body of the White House chief of staff, Peter Hall, on his kitchen floor having died from an apparent heart attack. It is also Hayley who notices a single clue which suggests his death was deliberate, targeted. That he was assassinated.
Unsure who to trust, Hayley works alone to uncover a wideranging conspiracy that controls the furthest reaches of the government. And Hall is just the beginning – the president is the next target.
Hayley must now do the impossible: stop an assassination, when she has no idea who the enemy is, all while staying hidden, with Peter’s final words to her ringing in her ears: Trust no one. Because the Deep State will kill to silence her. And they are closing in.

It is entrenched.
It is hidden.
It is deadly.
Who can you trust?

EXTRACT from the PROLOGUE of the novel

She can remember every fight. Whether childhood brawls back home in Green Shoals, West Virginia, or organised bouts as an amateur fighter since enlisting in the army, physical combat is the fierce memoir of a hardscrabble life. The oldest of six children—her single mother laid low by multiple cancers—Hayley defended herself and her five siblings with savage determination.

Losing her first four fights, she absorbed hard lessons with each defeat. Eight victories followed those early routs, a dozen fights in total before graduating first in her class from high school. Hayley has fought as many times as an army boxer and remains undefeated.

Tonight, she defends her regimental title.

After thirty minutes of steady jogging, her muscles have become elastic beneath a sweat- drenched T- shirt and shorts. Her thoughts are as measured and orderly as her heart rate. Barely winded, Hayley stops and checks the time on a Citizen Eco- Drive Nighthawk Black Dial watch she took off an army pilot who challenged her to a barroom arm- wrestling match. At her feet is the loose stone and gravel of the construction site for a new PX. Hayley bends down and picks up one of the jagged rocks, clenching her fist tightly around it. The stone’s sharp edges send jolts of pain through her body, acute and clarifying. She maintains the intensity of this clench for ten seconds, then twenty more. Finally, Hayley takes a deep breath and drops the stone to the ground. Studying the palm of her hand with clinical detachment, she sees blood seeping from multiple quarter- inch lacerations. There is nothing to fear. Blood has been drawn. Now she can fight.

The Author – Chris Hauty

Chris Hauty is a screenwriter who has worked at all the major movie studios, in nearly every genre of film. He currently lives in Venice, California, in the company of a classic Triumph motorcycle and a feral cat. Deep State is his first novel.

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