#BlogTour for #ChildrenoftheValley #CastleFreeman @Duckbooks @RandomTTours

I’m really pleased to be sharing an extract from Children of the Valley a ‘fast-paced, sharply observed novel of rural suspense’, by award-wining writer Castle Freeman.

The Blurb

Sheriff Lucian Wing goes to the aid of a pair of young runaways, Duncan and Pamela, who have fled to his backwoods county jurisdiction in Vermont. The girl’s powerful stepfather New York has set a smoothly menacing lawyer and well-armed thugs on their trail.


At the same time Wing must deal with his wayward wife’s chronic infidelity; the snobbery of Pamela’s cosmopolitan mother; the dubious assistance of a demented World War Two enthusiast – and the climactic, chaotic onset of a prodigious specimen of the local wildlife.


Amidst it all, can Wing bring Duncan and Pamela to safety?

The Extract

1


The De-Escalation of Rhumba


Nine – no, ten – vehicles were parked in front of Krugers’, on the grass, in the road, around back in the lane: two deputies, four Staties, including a command car, two ambulances, the Cardiff Fire Department’s second-best pumper, and a line truck from the telephone company. The first to arrive had been here for half an hour. Nothing had happened, nothing had changed. So now they were waiting. They were waiting for something to move. They were waiting for me.
I left my truck in the road and walked to them, keeping the cruisers between the house and me. A small house, needed a coat of paint. Needed a coat of paint and a rich owner; wasn’t going to get either one. We called the place Krugers’. It had been Krugers’ at one time. I didn’t know whose it was now; it was rented out. Storey-and-a-half, so hard to see what’s going on upstairs. Not good. Tiny yards in front and behind, then woods all around. So no near neighbours. Good.
Dwight Farrabaugh, the state police captain in charge of this action, and the Cardiff fire chief were standing behind the pumper in the road. Normally, an officer of the grade of captain wouldn’t turn out for what looked like another no-frills domestic dispute, but in this case firearms were reported to be involved, and so were minor children.
Guns and kids get everybody wound up – everybody, including the press. Therefore, Dwight had favoured us with his presence this morning.
Wingate was there, too. Evidently he had busted out of the old-folks’ home and hitched a ride to the action with the chief. I joined them.
‘Well, if it ain’t The Chill,’ said Farrabaugh. ‘Where the hell have you been?’
‘Goofing off,’ I said. ‘Like you. Hello, Chief. Where’s the new rig?’ Cardiff Fire had recently purchased a new pumper. Usually, the volunteers were eager to take it to calls to show it off to the townspeople, who had dug deep to pay for it; but today it had been left at the station.
‘Don’t want no holes in my brand new truck,’ said the fire chief. ‘Specially not on account of a piece of shit like Rhumba.’
‘Good idea,’ I said. ‘Thought you’d retired,’ I said to Wingate. Wingate shrugged. ‘Like you see,’ he said.
I looked around. I could see the three Staties just inside the woods. They were watching the house with binoculars. The deputies would be doing the same on the other side. ‘So?’ I asked. ‘What have we got? Rhumba again, I guess?’
‘The very same,’ said Dwight.
‘Rhumba and who else?’ I asked.
‘The missus. Three of her kids, maybe more. Three we know of: two little, one medium.’
‘They’re upstairs?’
Dwight nodded.
‘We’ve got eyes?’
‘Sure. Missus has a shiner on her as big as a golf ball. She’s scroonched into a corner. Kids are under the bed.’
‘Smart kids,’ I said. ‘And Rhumba?’
‘Downstairs. He’s shoved a big old couch against the front door. He’s behind it or near it. He moves around.’
‘Back door?’ I asked.
‘Kitchen. We can be through it and in there in ten seconds. ’Course, that’s going in with weight.’
‘Right,’ I said. ‘Let’s just take it slow for now. Okay?’
‘Here you go again,’ said Dwight.
‘Just for now,’ I said.
‘Now means not long, right?’
‘Of course,’ I said. ‘Equipment?’
‘Shotgun,’ said Dwight.
‘He says,’ said Wingate.
‘You’ve seen it?’ I asked.
‘Negative,’ said Dwight. ‘He had one last time. If you recall.’
‘I recall,’ I said. ‘We’ve got sound?’
‘Over there,’ said Dwight, and he pointed to the telephone company’s truck.
‘Well, then,’ I said.


I sat in the cab of the line truck waiting for Rhumba’s connection to patch through and drinking lukewarm coffee from a paper cup. Somehow Wingate had found a coffee pot. Forty years in law enforcement, you may not always get your man, but you always get your coffee. Wingate sat in the cab beside me, listening for the call.
‘Hello?’ Rhumba’s voice came in.
‘Earl?’ I said. ‘Earl, this is Lucian Wing. How are you doing in there?’
‘Fuck you,’ said Rhumba. He didn’t like you to use his real name.
‘Okay, Rhumba,’ I said. ‘Who have you got with you?’
‘All of them,’ said Rhumba. ‘The slut, the brats, the whole nine yards.’
‘Three kids, then?’ I looked at Wingate. He drank his coffee.
‘You’re asking me?’ said Rhumba. ‘You got your assholes falling out of the trees, here, spying around. You tell me who I’ve got.’
‘We see three kids.’
‘Ha-ha, then,’ said Rhumba. ‘There’s four. Four and the whore. Ha-ha.’
‘Good one,’ I said. ‘What are you going to do?’
‘What do you think?’ Rhumba seemed to clear his throat.
‘Rhumba?’ I pushed him.
Rhumba made a little sound, might have been a cough, might have been a sob. ‘I’m going to kill them all,’ he said.
‘Okay,’ I said. ‘Okay, Rhumba. Ten-four. You’re coming through loud and clear. But nobody’s in a hurry, here, right? Let’s slow it down. Let’s take a breath.’
‘You take a breath,’ said Rhumba. ‘I’ve told you: this time, I’m doing it.’
‘I know you don’t want the kids hurt,’ I said.
‘You’ve got no fucking idea what I do or don’t want,’ said Rhumba. ‘You say you do, but you don’t. You don’t know.’
‘You’re right,’ I said. ‘I don’t know.’
‘I’ve had enough with this thing,’ Rhumba went on. ‘I have fucking had enough.’
‘I know you have, Rhumba,’ I said. ‘We all know you have. What you’ve put up with? Anybody would have snapped.’
‘I’m snapping now,’ said Rhumba. ‘I am fucking snapping.’
‘I know you are, Rhumba. We all know you are… Uhh … Hang on a second.’
I turned to Wingate. I covered the phone with my hand. ‘He ain’t drunk,’ I said. ‘Don’t sound it, anyhow.’
‘No,’ said Wingate.
‘I wish I knew if he’s really got something in there, like the other time,’ I said.
‘I wish you knew, too, sheriff,’ said Wingate. ‘Young Dwight will be getting restless. Pretty soon, time to guess and go.’
‘Guess and go,’ I said.
‘My guess?’ said Wingate. ‘He’s got nothing.’
‘How do you know?’
‘I don’t know. I knew, it wouldn’t be a guess.’
‘Well,’ I said, ‘I’ve got to go someplace with him.’
‘Try a new deck,’ said Wingate.
‘I could do that,’ I said. ‘But would it work?’
‘One way to find out.’
‘Earl?’ I said into the phone. ‘You there, Earl?’
‘Fuck you,’ said Rhumba.
‘We’ve been talking, out here, trying to recall. That place?’
‘Place? What place?’
‘Your place, there. Where you’re at. You rent, right?’
‘Say what?’
‘Your place. Your house. Where you live. You rent it, right? From – is it still Krugers?’
‘What are you talking about?’ Rhumba asked. ‘Did you hear me? I said – I said I’m going to kill them all. I’ve had enough, and I’m going to do it.’
‘I got that, Earl,’ I said. ‘But I’m asking you about your house. Are you renters? Who’s your landlord? Is it still Krugers?’
‘No,’ said Rhumba. ‘The landlord’s Brown.’
‘Brown?’ I asked him. ‘Is that the same Brown had the camp up on Diamond? His brother was killed in Vietnam? Wendell Brown?’
‘Who? What?’
‘Your landlord, Earl,’ I said. ‘Help me out, here, can’t you? Wasn’t he the one whose brother was killed? They had that camp. Brad McKinnon got a ten-pointer up there years ago?’
‘That’s right,’ said Rhumba. ‘My dad was there. Said it was the god damnedest buck he ever saw. But his name’s not Wendell. It’s Wayne.’
‘Who is?’ I asked him.
‘The guy that had the camp, where McKinnon—’
‘What camp?’
‘The camp we’ve been talking about,’ Rhumba said. ‘The camp on Diamond.’
‘Oh,’ I said. ‘That camp.’
‘What other camp is there?’
‘Quite a few.’
‘Fuck you, Lucian,’ said Rhumba.
‘I was just asking,’ I said. ‘Just trying to get us clear. You know me: I like things clear.’
‘Lucian?’ Rhumba asked.
‘Yes, Earl.’
‘This is a pretty fucked-up situation, here, you know it?’
‘I know.’
‘Sometimes,’ Rhumba said. ‘Things get pretty fucked up.’
‘They do,’ I said. ‘Listen: you ready to step out here? See what we can do? Talk a little, here? You don’t feel right, you can always go back inside. No funny stuff.’
‘Just fucked up,’ said Rhumba. ‘Hang on a minute, Lucian.’ The phone clicked off. We could hear bumping and scraping from inside the house as Rhumba moved his barricade couch out of the way of the front door. Wingate dumped the remains of his coffee out the window of the telephone company’s truck. ‘Done deal,’ he said. ‘I saw it, too, you know. That buck. That was a hell of an animal. Where are you headed now?’
‘Back to the office, I guess,’ I said.
‘Drop me at the place?’ Wingate asked me.


‘The Chill Rides Again,’ said Dwight Farrabaugh. ‘Another satisfied customer.’
Rhumba sat in the back of one of the Staties’ cruisers being interviewed. Two deputies had gone over the house: no shotgun. No other firearms. Good. A couple from the state’s Department of Children and Families were talking to Mrs. Rhumba and the kids. Four kids, as Rhumba had said. All of them apparently okay. Good, again.
Dwight was wrapping up. He slapped me on the back. ‘Thanks, Lucian,’ he said. ‘I don’t know how you do it.’
‘Natural gift for improvisation,’ I said.
‘Natural gift for bullshit, more like,’ said Dwight. He turned to his command car, ready to be on his way.
Well, he’s more right than wrong, Dwight, ain’t he? But the bullshit ain’t the main thing. The bullshit is a means to an end. The end is boredom, and the end is impatience. The end is fatigue. People backed right up to the wall, like Rhumba, expend a lot of energy. They tire quickly. They want above all for something to happen, anything. They’ve climbed up to the top of the flagpole, and now they don’t know what’s next. They don’t know where to go. All they know is, they want action.
They want decision. They want an event. My job is to see they don’t get one. Instead, they get the bullshit. They get irrelevance. They get talk. The talk wanders around from no-place to no-place and back again. Pretty soon, your subject is so bored, so dazed by the storm of bullshit, that, to stop it, he climbs down from the flagpole. He goes quietly. It’s a method. It ain’t exciting, but it often works, and, when it works, everybody walks away.
De-escalation is what scholars of law enforcement call the method. Dwight Farrabaugh and others call it chilling. Wingate don’t call it anything, but it was Wingate who taught the method to me. He’s still teaching it, as you can see, and, although I’m glad to have his advice, I’ll admit sometimes I wish he’d leave off. Wingate was sheriff of our county forty years. He hired me for a deputy, and I took over for him when he retired ten–twelve years ago. Pretty soon, I learned Wingate had his own ideas on retirement. Retirement was a state of mind, not a fact, and it was a state of mind Wingate was never in. Wingate has retired more times than Frank Sinatra. The more he retires, the more he comes back. And who’s going to tell him he can’t? If Frank Sinatra shows up in Las Vegas and says he’d like to sing a couple of the old favourites, is Las Vegas going to tell him to go away? Frank built Las Vegas. Frank owned Las Vegas. He’ll sing if he damned wants to. Same with Wingate in our valley. Now, inability to retire may be the only way Wingate’s like Frank Sinatra, I guess. I can’t think of any others. But, then, I don’t know Frank. Maybe there’s more.
I left Wingate at the entrance to Steep Mountain House. He got down out of the truck and stood for a minute with his hand on the door.
‘How’s Clementine?’ Wingate asked me.
‘Tip-top,’ I said. ‘Never better.’
‘Uh-huh,’ said Wingate. ‘Well, keep your spoon clean, young fellow. Good job on Rhumba. We’ll see you.’ He turned and walked toward the building. He went slowly, and I saw he was using his cane today. Wingate’s not a kid.

The Author

Castle Freeman is the author of seven novels, including the critically acclaimed Go With Me, which has been made into a film starring Anthony Hopkins, as well as two short-story collections. He has lived in rural Vermont since 1975.

#TheDoorsofRiverdell by #MarianneRosen #BookLaunch

I was delighted to have been asked to join Marianne’s launch team for THE DOORS OF RIVERDELL, book one in the RIVERDELL SAGA. Marianne’s book and lots of bookish gifts arrived in the post; I met the other fabulous book launch team and began a journey of book chats, bookish activities and new bookish friendships.

I’m delighted to share my final review of THE DOORS OF RIVERDELL and also a couple of the lovely photographs I’ve designed along the journey, do keep an eye out for the lovely bookish candle from Wordsmith Candles.

And, of course, please keep scrolling for some bookish chat about THE DOORS OF RIVERDELL…

Even the most beautiful home can’t guarantee happiness…

The book blurb

Isabelle Threlfall has always called Riverdell House, in the historic rural town of Ludlow, her home. But home has its complications. There’s her Aunt Elsa angling for commitment, cousin Hester to avoid and the failure of her long-term relationship to face. Working away seems the best solution but when Elsa’s eldest son dies and her two estranged grandchildren, Moth and Nat, arrive at Riverdell, Isabelle is called home to help.

Kit de Lavelle is hard on her heels. He’s waited fifteen years for Isabelle to ditch her childhood sweetheart and adore him instead but he’s about to discover that closing the doors to his own past is harder than expected.

As Moth and Isabelle form a close bond trading family secrets and avoiding their own, Elsa finds courage in her memories to face the truth she has hidden from them all. But as the future is decided will Moth and Isabelle still be able to call Riverdell their home?

Step behind the gleaming doors of Riverdell and into the troubled waters of the family.

Wordsmith Candle’s fabulous Pride & Prejudice inspired ROSE GARDEN scented bookish candle – it’s an absolute delight.

https://wordsmithcandles.com/

My thoughts: The Doors of Riverdell by Marianne Rosen

The Doors of Riverdell is told via four narrative perspectives, one rooted in the past and three more individual voices of Kit, Isabelle and Moth, who are our guides to life at Riverdell and beyond in this first book of a four part saga. This is one of those books where concentration is required, as, like most first meetings, the reader needs to adjust to timeframes, characters, and connections as we ease into Rosen’s world. I love the concept of storytelling through the setting of a real character house; Riverdell is one of those buildings that is meticulously designed for the reader and the idea of home is an important aspect of the novel and for its characters.

What is clear from the onset is that the cast of characters are very human: flawed, contradictory, unsure, overconfident, sluggish, uncertain, and questionable. The focus of this first book is on three characters in particular, the adrift Isabelle, the brash Kit, and the conflicted Moth. I would also keep in mind that this book is a narrative that runs across four books, and therefore so do the character arcs; there’s a lot of development during this first book that may not be fulfilling for the reader by the closing lines of this part of the saga.

It is also worth noting there are sexual scenes interspersed throughout the novel, and at first, I admit I found these rather jarring and stylistically slightly disjointing. From the blurb and style of the book, I was not expecting the tone and nature of some of the sexual encounters, both described and implied. However, on reflection I began to see Rosen’s intentions behind them; she is trying to be true to her characters’ natures and their behaviours with one another: their sexualities are an inbuilt and intrinsically human part of that.

Nature and environment are strong factors in the narrative and I really enjoyed the sense of place and setting throughout. The organic qualities of the nature world served as an indelible link to those living at Riverdell and connected their pasts, present and futures in beautifully detailed descriptions. This ingrained sense of nature in the book is superb and the author’s love of Ludlow is rooted solidly throughout.

With themes of community, self, family, sexuality, identity, the past’s hold on our futures, home, and connections – The Doors of Riverdell is an exciting start to a new literary saga. If you enjoy family dramas, I can certainly recommend you walk through both the literal and metaphorical doors of Riverdell in this first book of Rosen’s four-part series.

The Author

Marianne Rosen

Marianne Rosen was apprenticed to a master upholsterer for six years before setting up her own interior consultation business, specialising in grand houses and fabrics. Along the way, she gained a degree in Literature, became an English language teacher, a semi-professional dancer and taught cabaret. By the time she was 36, she had lived in 36 houses, carting her large collection of books around with her. That same year, she met her partner, a fourth-generation farmer who lives in the house he was born in. They live on an organic farm in a Grade 2 listed farmhouse on the Shropshire-Herefordshire border. Marianne is part of the Hay Writers’ Group and has performed her work at Hay Festival. She writes modern family sagas that explore the longing for home and the need to belong. When not writing she likes to take off in her old VW T4 to research what she might write next. Her debut novel, The Doors of Riverdell, is out on 25th November 2020.

Click on the HOME link to enter Marianne Rosen’s website…

#Turncoat #bookextract @noexitpress @RandomTTours

I’m really pleased to be providing an extract from Turncoat by Anthony J. Quinn, the author of the critically acclaimed Detective Celcius Daly series published by Head of Zeus. His debut novel Disappeared was Daily Mail Crime Novel of the Year and one of the Sunday Times’ Best Books of the Year. Anthony J Quinn has been nominated for the Theakston Crime Novel of the Year Award and was shortlisted for the US Strand Literary Award.

Please keep scrolling for a short extract from TURNCOAT…

Blurb

The sole survivor of a murderous ambush, a Belfast police detective is forced into a desperate search for a mysterious informer that takes him to a holy island on Lough Derg, a place shrouded in strange mists and hazy rain, where nothing is as it first appears to be.

A keeper of secrets and a purveyor of lies, the detective finds himself surrounded by enemies disguised as pilgrims, and is drawn deeper into the mysteries of the purgatorial island, where he is forced to confront a series of disturbing secrets and ghosts in his own life.

Haunting and unsettling, Turncoat probes the legacy of the Troubles, the loss of collective memories and the moral consequences for the individual. It is a story of guilt, survival and the terrible price of self-knowledge, told through the voice of a detective with a double life.
Descending into paranoia, he uncovers a sinister panorama of cover-ups and conspiracies. The closer he edges to the truth, the deeper he is drawn into the currents of power, violence and guilt engulfing his country…

THE EXTRACT

Irish Border, 1994

When the car carrying him and his police colleagues turned into the lane shortly after ten o’clock, the driver killed the headlights and let the vehicle roll along the track. Moments later, the bulk of the derelict farmhouse and its outbuildings swung into view, a collection of grey fragments tucked away amid the gloom of blackthorn and elder thickets. There was just enough moonlight for him to make out the smooth shapes of two white horses, their heads bowed together, standing eerily calm amid the thorns, as though they belonged to a dream or a different dimension.


He told the other detectives to remain in the car and stepped outside. He stared at the horses, which were hardly trembling at all in his presence, and then at the windows of the house, the broken panes covering sheets of blackness, the front door hanging slightly ajar, everything about the place receding into shadow or floating against the dishevelled pattern of silhouettes. He felt a flicker of fear in his stomach. He glanced back at the car and saw the face of Special Branch Detective Ian Robinson watching him closely, his eyes gleaming with anticipation. The insolent pleasure in the detective’s gaze made his skin prickle, but it also had the effect of galvanising him.

For the past month, he had grown used to Robinson being his tail, asking probing questions about his investigations, following him wherever he went with his set stare, lingering he stayed. He dreaded to think what his mistakes and failures might look like through the eyes of this cold and attentive shadow, a detective who had advanced his career by patiently watching and waiting for Catholic officers like him to step over invisible lines of loyalty and political allegiance.

Praise for Anthony J. Quinn

The Troubles of Northern Ireland are not over. They may no longer reach the headlines, but they continue to damage lives and memories. This is the message so disturbingly, convincingly and elegantly conveyed in Anthony Quinn’s first novel, Disappeared … Beautifully haunting’ – Times


‘Hypnotically expressive… irresistible crime thriller’ – Independent


‘This is a novel to be read slowly and to be savoured sip by sip, as its spider’s web slowly but surely snares you in its grip’ – Geoffrey Wansell, Daily Mail on Disappeared


‘A tough yet lyrical novel’ – Sunday Times on Disappeared
‘Quinn’s knowledge of post-Troubles Northern Ireland effortlessly converts itself into an effective thriller’ – Publishers Weekly

#blogtour #ThirtyOneBones by @GoJaBrown @PolygonBooks @RandomTTours

It’s lovely to be able to share an extract from ‘Thirty One Bones’ today as part of the Random Things Blog Tour for Morgan Cry’s new novel. With thanks, as always, to Anne for the invite. Please keep scrolling…

The Blurb…

When Daniella Coulstoun’s estranged mother Effie dies in Spain under suspicious circumstances, she feels it’s her duty to fly out for the funeral.

On arrival, Daniella is confronted by a dangerous group of expat misfits who claim that Effie stole huge sums of cash from them in a multi-million property scam. They want the money back and Daniella is on the hook for it.

When a suspicious Spanish detective begins to probe Effie’s death and a London gangster hears about the missing money, Daniella faces threats on every front. With no idea where the cash is and facing a seemingly impossible deadline, she quickly finds herself out of her depth and fighting for survival in a strange and terrifying world.

Extract – Thirty-One Bones

At right angles to the bar sits a pool table that can be wheeled away to provide room to play darts on an ageing dartboard. In older days it also allowed a band or a DJ to set up. Not any more. The rest of the pub’s furniture is a job lot of chairs and tables that Effie picked up when the Carnes Frías restaurant in the old town had gone tits up. It was the first replacement furni- ture the bar had seen in twenty years. The regulars had been stunned into silence. Not so much by the surprise of the change. More by the lurid pink colour that both the tables and chairs were painted in. The colour scheme choice of the owner of Carnes Frías going some way to shortening the restaurant’s lifespan. Effie reckoned the colour added some brightness to her place. The regulars thought it looked like shit, but still came in for drink.

Beneath her feet the wooden floor, a decade out from its last polish, is seven parts wood and three parts alcohol. The air conditioning is the same ratio on the working to not working axis.

To her right she looks on a row of booths, the last one occu- pied by the young investor. She returns to the booth, dropping the beer glass on the table before heaving her bulk into the chair opposite Paul. She eyes him up. If he chooses to reject her offer to invest he will pay for the two beers and the packet of cheese and onion crisps she’s already given him. But she doesn’t expect him to have to pay.

‘How was the apartment?’ Effie asks.
‘Stunning,’ Paul replies.
‘The new ones will be even better.’
Paul sweeps at the long hair cascading over his face. Effie thinks

the shoulder-length mane, scruffy goatee and flea-bitten Afghan coat a crock of crap. It marks Paul out as a prick. But a prick with twenty grand in his account. Twenty grand earmarked for Effie’s bank.

‘When do you break ground?’ Paul says.
Effie smiles.
The dick is trying to use building-developer terminology. Good luck with that. I’m right in the mood for this.

‘We need full planning first,’ she says, winding up the well- practised pitch. ‘But that’s not proving to be straightforward.’

‘Oh?’

‘Nothing to worry about,’ she replies. ‘It’s just, since the Gürtel scandal, in Spain the local authorities are a lot warier over approving developments.’

‘I read something about that,’ Paul says. ‘A massive issue here. Bribery, wasn’t it?’

‘And the rest,’ says Effie. ‘And it’ll rumble on for years. It’s changed the whole political landscape in Spain. It’s why we have to show the Ayuntamiento that half of our investors are not connected to us.’

As if.

‘They want to ensure we don’t have any controlling interest. Especially when we are talking a couple of million per property. It’s a pity because we’d love to put all the cash in ourselves. It’s such a sweet deal – but rules are rules.’

Paul rubs his nose, ‘I have to say I couldn’t find anything about any fifty per cent rule.’

That’s because it doesn’t exist, dickwad. Let’s get this done soon. I’m up for another pill.

‘It’s new,’ Effie says. ‘George Laidlaw can explain it. He’s the legal beagle on this. But it’s good news from your end. You only have to front up twenty k as a deposit. The rest would normally be payable when we complete – but, by then, we’ll have sold out, be a lot richer and you won’t have had to fork out the balance. Twenty k for a million plus – how can that not be the deal of the century? This is better than a lottery win for you.’

Like hell it is.

Paul scrubs at his forehead. ‘Why so little cash up front? Seems too good to be true.’

Effie smiles, a crooked beast at best. ‘The new rule requires us to deposit a hundredth of the estimated final sale price with the Ayuntamiento on application. We’re not allowed to take any more than twenty thousand per investor until planning is approved, at which time, before any more money is needed, we will sell it on to a bigger developer.’

Take it easy, Effie, take it easy. Now for the tricky part.

The Author

Morgan Cry

Gordon has seven crime and thriller books published to date, along with a number of short stories. His latest novel, Highest Lives, published by Strident Publishing, is the fourth in the Craig McIntyre series.

Under a new name, Morgan Cry, Polygon will be publishing Gordon’s new crime thriller, set in Spain. Called ‘Thirty-One Bones’ it will be available in July 2020.

Gordon also helped found Bloody Scotland, Scotland’s International Crime Writing Festival (see http://www.bloodyscotland.com), is a DJ on local radio (www.pulseonair.co.uk) and runs a strategic planning consultancy. He lives in Scotland and is married with two children.

In a former life Gordon delivered pizzas in Toronto, sold non-alcoholic beer in the Middle East, launched a creativity training business, floated a high tech company on the London Stock Exchange, compered the main stage at a two-day music festival and was once booed by 49,000 people while on the pitch at a major football Cup Final.

Blog Tour Dates:

#extract #newbook #blogtour #BloodRedCity by @Rod_WR and published by @OrendaBooks #readers with thanks to @annecater

I’m really pleased to be featuring an extract from ‘Blood Red City’ today, I’d have loved to read it, but my review list was a little too long sadly, and I didn’t have enough time before the tour – it’s definitely on my list of books to buy soon! Can’t wait! Keep reading for the blurb, a gripping extract (I really want to keep reading!) and the author bio…

The Blurb

A witness but no victim. A crime but no crime scene…

When crusading journalist Lydia Wright is sent a video of an apparent murder on a London train, she thinks she’s found the story to revive her career. But she can’t find a victim, much less the killers, and the only witness has disappeared. Wary she’s fallen for fake news, she begins to doubt her instincts – until a sinister call suggests that she’s not the only one interested in the crime.

Michael Stringer deals in information – and doesn’t care which side of the law he finds himself on. But the murder on the train has left him exposed, and now he’ll stop at nothing to discover what Lydia knows.

When their paths collide, Lydia finds the story leads through a nightmare world, where money, power and politics intersect … and information is the only thing more dangerous than a bullet.

An extract from BLOOD RED CITY

The day’s penultimate job was an easy one, comparatively. He’d ordered things that way. The self-help manuals he used to read would advise tackling the hardest tasks on your list first; fine in theory, not so easy when there were lives at stake.

So that came next. For now, Michael Stringer had the home of London Assembly member Nigel Carlton in his sights. A nice semi on a nice road in Finchley, the streetlights casting the bay windows in amber relief. He’d done business in worse places.

His skin itched, waiting. Carlton had arrived home ten minutes prior, the house unlit before that. Stringer’s information was that Carlton’s wife was in Brussels for business – a regular occurrence, in his estimation the cover for an affair. Not Stringer’s concern in this matter, but professional rigour wasn’t something he could just turn on and off.

Ten minutes was just long enough. Carlton had showed up in a cab, so the chance of anyone else arriving separately was slim – but not zero. A mistake he’d made once before: on that occasion, Stringer had tailgated a target into his flat after watching him arrive alone, only to have the man’s secretary let herself in minutes later with her own set of keys, just as he was getting to it. Transpired the woman and the target took separate cabs from their office to keep their trysts under wraps.

But ten minutes was enough time to discount that possibility. Any longer ran the danger of a takeaway order showing up, or even the target leaving home again – a late-night urge for a bottle of Pinot or a bag of coke, or who fucking knew what.

Stringer rang the doorbell. The hallway light went on, and then the door opened without a sound. Carlton looked him over, the caution in his expression fading when he took in the wiry man in the charcoal-grey suit on his doorstep. Stringer didn’t immediately speak.

‘Yes?’ Carlton said.

Stringer raised the blue plastic document wallet in his hand. ‘We need to talk about these.’

Carlton squinted. ‘Sorry, have we met? Who—?’

‘The girl you’ve been emailing is fourteen years old. Did you know?’

‘What? What girl?’

‘Jennifer Tully – Jennycat18@hotmail.com. Her Facebook picture is her with glitter all over her face; I’m told it’s something the kids are into these days. If you swore to me she was eighteen I’d probably believe you, but I wouldn’t bet my career on it.’

Carlton dug into his pocket, produced his phone. ‘I’m calling the police.’

Stringer waited, staring at him doing nothing. ‘Well? You don’t need my permission.’

‘I don’t know … Look, you’ve got your wires crossed somewhere so why don’t you bugger off before…’ He swiped the phone to unlock it.

‘“Assembly Member”. That your title?’

Carlton looked up.

‘Awkward as honorifics go, so I’ll use Nigel. Nigel, have a listen to some of this.’ Stringer dipped his head, mimicking reading even though he had it memorised. ‘“I’ve been thinking about you all night, I couldn’t help myself, couldn’t sleep … I can smell you on my shirt and I just want to eat you up … I haven’t felt this way about anyone since I was a teenager … I don’t know what’s come over me.”’ Stringer handed him the email printout, pointing to the sender details at the top. ‘That’s you, yes?’

Carlton skimmed the page, his mouth coming ajar. ‘I’ve never … This is not me. I’ve never seen it in my life, I’ve never heard of this girl…’

‘Let’s go inside.’

‘Who the hell are you?’

Stringer jutted his chin. ‘Inside.’

Carlton backed up, staring at the printout as if he could wish it into thin air.

Stringer made his way down the hall and into a large kitchen, the rest of the house in darkness. The room was centred on a walnut-topped island unit and was straight out of a design catalogue: black bi-fold doors to the garden, brushed steel fridge, gleaming pans hanging above the counter. A cooker that looked like it’d never been lit. A faint smell of cleaning products.

Stringer took two glasses out of a cabinet above the sink and filled them with water. He set one down for Carlton and watched him inch down the hall, flipping the page to read the full email trail as he came.

‘I’ve been hacked.’ Carlton looked up, his face as pale as hypothermic flesh. ‘Where did you get these?’

Stringer pushed a glass towards him. ‘Word of advice: no one buys “I’ve been hacked” anymore. You’re supposed to use WhatsApp for this shit, Nigel. Snapchat.’

Carlton set the sheet of paper on the counter, the spotlights in the ceiling so bright it gave off a glare. ‘I’ve never seen any of these emails. Those are not my words, these are fakes.’

Stringer sipped his water. ‘You didn’t give me those, so where else would I have got them from?’

‘How the hell should I…?’ The penny dropped. ‘The girl?’

He frowned in confirmation.

Carlton rubbed his face.

‘Who are you?’

‘That’s irrelevant.’

‘No it fucking isn’t. Why are you doing this to me?’

‘I’m just a fixer.’

‘Then who are you working for?’

‘You’re asking the wrong questions.’

As he brought the glass to his mouth again, Stringer’s shirt cuff gapped, flashing the melted skin on his arm. Carlton snapped his gaze to the counter, his discomfort a sure sign he’d noticed. Ten years ago Stringer would have made something of it; now he put the glass down and let his hand fall to his side. Not embarrassment; just taking away the distraction. ‘The question you need to ask is what am I going to do with these?’

‘I’m not having this.’ Carlton snatched up his phone again.

Stringer took out his own mobile and tapped the screen twice, Carlton’s phone vibrating a second later when the message came through. He stared at the image, his eyes flaring wide.

Stringer pointed to the picture, upside down from his viewpoint but more than familiar. It appeared to show a man and a girl at the start or end of an embrace. ‘As you know, that’s Jennifer Tully.’

‘No … no, I don’t know her…’ Carlton screwed his eyes shut, a memory coming back. ‘She dropped her purse, I picked it up for her and she gave me a hug. A thank-you thing, I was as surprised as anyone. I was on my way into Pret, for god’s sake.’

To Stringer, the snap looked too professional – the image a higher resolution than the average phone camera could manage, a red flag to anyone paying attention. But Nigel Carlton was a newborn baby, wiping his own shit out of his eyes in the harsh new world he found himself in.

‘There’s a dozen emails here, Nigel, and the photos. My guess is the Standard will put you on page five, but you might make the cover. And then the nationals will grab it, and that will be that. Fourteen years old … Christ.’

Carlton deleted the picture, visibly shaking. ‘This is a bloody setup.’

Stringer took his time putting his phone away, then stretched the silence to breaking point, taking a sip of water. ‘On Tuesday of next week, you’ll meet a gentleman named Jonathan Samuels at an office in the city. You’ll get a message telling you exactly when and where. Mr Samuels will have some suggestions for you to take back to your colleagues on the planning committee.’

‘What do you want?’

‘That’s Mr Samuels’ business. Miss the meeting and the story goes to the papers that afternoon. Speak to the police or anyone else about this and copies of everything go to your wife.’

Carlton planted his fists on the island. ‘No one would believe this of me. Least of all my wife.’

Stringer put his hands in his pockets, calling time on proceedings. ‘You sure about that?’ He moved closer to Carlton. ‘Absolutely sure?’ He stepped around him and made his way out of the house.

The Author

Rod Reynolds

Rod Reynolds is the author of four novels, including the Charlie Yates series. His 2015 debut, The Dark Inside, was longlisted for the CWA New Blood Dagger, and was followed by Black Night Falling (2016) and Cold Desert Sky (2018); The Guardian have called the books ‘Pitch-perfect American noir’. A lifelong Londoner, in 2020 Orenda Books will publish his first novel set in his hometown, Blood Red City. Rod previously worked in advertising as a media buyer, and holds an MA in novel writing from City University London. Rod lives with his wife and family and spends most of his time trying to keep up with his two young daughters

Twitter @Rod_WR

BLOG TOUR

‘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.

EXTRACT

Bitch

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.

THE DEEP STATE – noun
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.

Random Things Blog Tour List