Posted in Weekly Posts

This Week in Books (January 17)

This Week In Books
Hosted by Lipsy Lost & Found my Wednesday post gives you a taste of what I am reading this week. A similar meme is run by Taking on a World of Words

I am currently reading Hell Bay by Kate Rhodes set on the tiny Scilly island of Bryher Hell Bay will be published on 25 January 2018.

Blurb

DI Ben Kitto needs a second chance. After ten years working for the murder squad in London, a traumatic event has left him grief-stricken. He’s tried to resign from his job, but his boss has persuaded him to take three months to reconsider.

Ben plans to work in his uncle Ray’s boatyard, on the tiny Scilly island of Bryher where he was born, hoping to mend his shattered nerves. His plans go awry when the body of sixteen year old Laura Trescothick is found on the beach at Hell Bay. Her attacker must still be on the island because no ferries have sailed during a two-day storm.

Everyone on the island is under suspicion. Dark secrets are about to resurface. And the murderer could strike again at any time. NetGalley

The last book I finished was The Story of Our Lives by Helen Warner which covers four women over a time-span of twenty years through the highs and lows. This book will be published on 8 February 2018.


Blurb

Four friends. Twenty years. One powerful secret.

There are certain dates on which you’ll always remember where you were…The day Princess Diana died. 9/11. The London 2012 opening ceremony.

The same is true for Sophie, Emily, Amy and Melissa who have been best friends since they met twenty years ago.
As history has moved on around them, they have seen each other through everything. From Sophie’s secret fear that she doesn’t actually want to be a mother despite having two kids, to Amy’s perfect-on-the-outside-abusive-on-the inside marriage to Melissa’s spiralling alcoholism and Emily’s single motherhood.

But could a lie that spans just as long tear them apart?
A moving, unputdownable novel about four incredible friendships, and the stories we all share. Amazon

Next, because I am going away for a long weekend in the Peak District and I like my reading to be relevant, I’m going to be reading A Patient Fury by Sarah Ward.

Blurb

When Detective Constable Connie Childs is dragged from her bed to the fire-wrecked property on Cross Farm Lane she knows as she steps from the car that this house contains death.

Three bodies discovered – a family obliterated – their deaths all seem to point to one conclusion: One mother, one murderer.
But D.C. Childs, determined as ever to discover the truth behind the tragedy, realises it is the fourth body – the one they cannot find – that holds the key to the mystery at Cross Farm Lane.

What Connie Childs fails to spot is that her determination to unmask the real murderer might cost her more than her health – this time she could lose the thing she cares about most: her career. Amazon

What does your reading week look like? Have you read any of my choices? Are you planning to?

Please leave your comments in the box below.

Posted in Weekly Posts

First Chapter ~ First Paragraph (January 16)

Welcome to another Tuesday celebrating bookish events, from Tuesday/First Chapter/Intros, hosted by Vicky from I’d Rather Be At The Beach who posts the opening paragraph (sometime two) of a book she decided to read based on the opening. Feel free to grab the banner and play along.

My extract today is from The Dark Angel by Elly Griffiths a book that will be published on 5 February 2018 and the tenth in the Dr Ruth Galloway series of which I am a big fan.

Blurb

Dr Ruth Galloway is flattered when she receives a letter from Italian archaeologist Dr Angelo Morelli, asking for her help. He’s discovered a group of bones in a tiny hilltop village near Rome but doesn’t know what to make of them. It’s years since Ruth has had a holiday, and even a working holiday to Italy is very welcome!

So Ruth travels to Castello degli Angeli, accompanied by her daughter Kate and friend Shona. In the town she finds a baffling Roman mystery and a dark secret involving the war years and the Resistance. To her amazement she also soon finds Harry Nelson, with Cathbad in tow. But there is no time to overcome their mutual shock – the ancient bones spark a modern murder, and Ruth must discover what secrets there are in Castello degli Angeli that someone would kill to protect. Amazon

~ ~ ~ ~ ~

First Chapter ~ First Paragraph ~ Intro

This book has a prologue which I will give a taster of before moving to Chapter One.

PROLOGUE

‘This grave has lain undisturbed for over two thousand years.’ Professor Angelo Morelli speaks directly to the camera. The countryside has been the scene of invasion and battle from the Neolithic times until the Second World War, when the German troops fought Italian partisans in the Liri Valley. In all that time, this body has lain under the earth. Now, we are going to exhume it.’

CHAPTER 1

The confetti is still blowing in the street. Ruth watches as Clough and Cassandra get into the white Rolls-Royce – Cassandra laughing as she shakes the pink and yellow hearts from her hair – and drive away.
They’re an unlikely pair, no-nonsense policeman DS Dave Clough and beautiful actress and daughter of local aristocrats Cassandra Blackstock – but they met in the course of work and fell in love. And to prove it, they are getting married. Bully for them, thinks Ruth, although that sounds bitter even to her own ears.

~ ~ ~ ~ ~

Well talk about wildly different pictures being painted from prologue to chapter one here – although it’s good to have a bit about Clough before the adventure switches from Norfolk to Rome.

What do you think? Would you keep reading?

Posted in Book Review, Books I have read

Carnegie’s Maid – Marie Benedict

Historical Fiction
4*s

Andrew Carnegie is best known for being one of the richest men in America having made his fortune by leading the expansion of the steel industry, and towards the end of his life he was a leading philanthropist. Marie Benedict’s book has been written as a fictional account of how this man was moved to better the lives of others when his early years had been spent focussed on lining his own pockets. To do so she looked at her own ancestors and imagined a young, bright Irish girl becoming a Lady’s Maid to Margaret Carnegie, Andrew’s mother.

We first meet Clara Kelly in December 1868 as her journey across the Atlantic is coming to a close and she’s got to find a way to get to her relatives in Pittsburgh. Clara despite being the second child of her parents has been sent to America to provide a ‘Plan B’ for the family since their leased farm is being carved up following the potato famine and now there are real concerns that the Landlord has it in for Clara’s father.

The premise to the book where a farmer’s daughter ends up being a Lady’s Maid is a great vehicle for studying the man at the centre of the book, Andrew Carnegie. It don’t think it’s a spoiler to say that there is a relationship of sorts between Clara and Andrew, after all both were immigrants, Andrew moving the US from Scotland when he was barely in his teens. With the Carnegie family coming recently to wealth the need to never descend into poverty again is one of their key drivers for continued success. I’m pleased to say that the author doesn’t skimp on the less than moral and perhaps legal actions of this great business leader either before his later transformation into someone who champions the education of all.

It’s also nice that this book is populated by strong and intelligent women. Margaret Carnegie, whilst maintaining a tight grip on her household is also very much involved in her son’s business and Clara is also keen to learn more about business as the book progresses.

This is a heavily fictionalised account and shouldn’t be read as anything other than that but that doesn’t stop it being a fascinating insight into the lives of immigrants to America during and after the American Civil War. The descriptions of life both in Ireland and Pittsburgh make for illuminating reading especially the lives of Clara’s distant relations Patrick and Maeve who bring up an ever growing brood in a small and dirty ramshackle home. Patrick working at the Iron foundry whilst Maeve takes in needlework to be completed by poor light in the evenings. By contrast Clara’s efforts to become indispensable in the Carnegie household may mean long hours brushing hair, cleaning and darning clothes but she lives in luxurious surroundings although I pitied her the lack of friends apart from the former slave Mr Ford within the almost prison-like existence.

A fascinating historical tale which is indeed one explanation for Andrew Carnegie’s transformation into one of the best known philanthropists with the book ending with the opening of the free library in Boston built by Andrew Carnegie.

I’d like to thank the publishers Landmark for providing me with a copy of Carnegie’s Maid ahead of publication date of the 16 January 2017.

First Published UK: 16 January 2018
Publisher: Landmark
No of Pages: 288
Genre: Historical Fiction
Amazon UK
Amazon US

Posted in Weekly Posts

Weekly Wrap Up (January 14)

Well I’m finally on the mend and returned to work on Wednesday so all is far better in my world than it has been. On the book front I am strongly considering joining The Classic Club in part due to my New Year’s resolution to read or re-read at least six classic books in 2018. The other part is my fellow blogger Fiction Fan has been putting the pressure on and I’ve been raiding her own list of classics for this challenge, in my search for books for my own list.

So far my list stands at around 25 books with a surprisingly large bias towards female writers. I have to find at least another 30 books to find and I suspect some of these may well be crime fiction classics sourced from The Story of Classic Crime in 100 Books compiled by Martin Edwards. Any suggestions will be gratefully received, my definition of a classic being fairly loose with any book that is more than approximately 50 years old qualifying.

This Week on the Blog

A busy week with four reviews posted over the course of the week starting with my one for Faking Friends by Jane Fallon which was one of five of my reads published on 11 January 2018.

My extract post this week was from The Wicked Cometh by Laura Carlin which will be published on 1 February 2018.

On Wednesday I was part of the Blog Tour for Peter May’s novel I’ll Keep You Safe which included an intense extract from the book which was followed on publication day of my review of the novel. Peter May’s descriptions of the Outer Hebrides was once again the backdrop to this crime fiction novel.

Friday was another Blog Tour, this time I posted a review for Turning for Home by Barney Norris a thoughtful and insightful novel centred around an eighty year old widower and his grand-daughter.

Finally my week finished with my review of some historical crime fiction inspired by the trail of Madeline Smith in Glasgow for the murder of her lover, Emile L’Anglier; Blackmail, Sex and Lies is written by Kathryn McMaster

This Time Last Year…

I was reading After She Fell by Mary-Jane Riley the second book in the Alex Devlin series which features the protagonist as a reporter investigating the apparent suicide of a friend’s daughter at an exclusive boarding school in North Norfolk. Mary-Jane Riley has painted a wonderful selection of characters, some nastier than others, against the brilliant backdrop of the setting, all with a lightness of touch so that the picture is painted while the action is taking place.

You can read my full review here or click on the book cover

Blurb

There are so many ways to fall…

Catriona needs help. Her seventeen-year-old daughter Elena was found dead at the bottom of a cliff near her boarding school. The death has been ruled a suicide, but Catriona isn’t convinced.

When her old friend, journalist Alex Devlin, arrives in Hallow’s Edge to investigate, she quickly finds that life at private boarding school The Drift isn’t as idyllic as the bucolic setting might suggest.

Amidst a culture of drug-taking, bullying and tension between school and village, no one is quite who they seem to be, and there are several people who might have wanted Elena to fall… Amazon

If you haven’t read this one yet, now is the time to do so as not only does it have a fab new cover but the third in the series, Dark Water is due to be published on 16 March 2018.

Stacking the Shelves

Well I still haven’t bought any new books but I do have some acquisitions nevertheless.

From Lovereading UK I have a copy of The Story of Our Lies by Helen Warner which will be published on 8 February 2018.

Blurb

Four friends. Twenty years. One powerful secret.

There are certain dates on which you’ll always remember where you were… The day Princess Diana died. 9/11. The London 2012 opening ceremony.

The same is true for Sophie, Emily, Amy and Melissa who have been best friends since they met twenty years ago.

As history has moved on around them, they have seen each other through everything. From Sophie’s secret fear that she doesn’t actually want to be a mother despite having two kids, to Amy’s perfect-on-the-outside-abusive-on-the inside marriage to Melissa’s spiralling alcoholism and Emily’s single motherhood.

But could a lie that spans just as long tear them apart? Amazon

From NetGalley I have a copy of Our Kind of Cruelty by Araminta Hall which I was exceptionally pleased about having been a fan of this author for a while and chose her last book Dot as one of my top ten published books of 2013. Our Kind of Cruelty will be published on 3 May 2018.

Blurb

This is a love story. This is a tragedy.

This is a book about a break up so bad that when you put the pieces of the love story back together, what you get is murder.
Mike understands that most of us travel through the world as one half of a whole, desperately searching for that missing person to make us complete.

But he and Verity are different. They have found each other and nothing and no one will tear them apart.

It doesn’t matter that Verity is marrying another man.

It’s all just part of a plan: you see, Verity and Mike play a game together, a secret game they call ‘the crave’, the aim being to demonstrate what they both know: that Verity needs Mike, and only Mike.

Verity’s upcoming marriage is the biggest game she and Mike have ever played. And it’s for the highest stakes.
Except this time in order for Mike and Verity to be together someone has to die … NetGalley

I was also lucky enough to be provided with a copy of The Girl in the Woods by Camilla Läckberg, the tenth in the tenth in the Fjällbacka Series which will be published on 22 February 2018.

Blurb

A missing child
When a four-year-old girl disappears in the woods just outside Fjällbacka, the community is horror-struck. Thirty years ago, a young girl went missing from the exact same spot, and was later discovered, murdered.
A murder
Back then, two teenage girls were found guilty of the killing. Could it really be a coincidence that one of the girls – now a world-famous actress – has just returned to Fjällbacka? Detective Patrik Hedström starts investigating, with his wife, bestselling crime writer Erica Falck, by his side.
A community torn apart
But as Patrik and Erica dig deeper, the truth becomes ever murkier, because it seems that everyone in the tight-knit community is hiding something. And soon, the residents must confront the fact that they could be harbouring a murderer in their midst… NetGalley

And lastly I ‘met’ Vicky Newham through social media and distinctly remember the day she announced that she had a publisher for her novel Turn A Blind Eye. Vicky has kindly supplied me with a copy of her book which will be published on 5 April 2018.

Blurb

A dead girl.
A wall of silence.
DI Maya Rahman is running out of time.

A headmistress is found strangled in her East London school, her death the result of a brutal and ritualistic act of violence. Found at the scene is a single piece of card, written upon which is an ancient Buddhist precept:
I shall abstain from taking the ungiven.

At first, DI Maya Rahman can’t help but hope this is a tragic but isolated murder. Then, the second body is found.
Faced with a community steeped in secrets and prejudice, Maya must untangle the cryptic messages left at the crime scenes to solve the deadly riddle behind the murders – before the killer takes another victim. Amazon

2018 appears to be continuing with some appetising books – what do you think? Any of these take your fancy?

tbr-watch

Since my last post I have read 3 books and appear to have gained 6 so my TBR has taken a swift about turn to 188

Physical Books – 110
Kindle Books – 55
NetGalley Books –23

 

I have banked another third of book token this week and therefore purchased no new books in 2018.

Posted in Book Review, Books I have read, Mount TBR 2018

Blackmail, Sex and Lies – Kathryn McMaster

Historical Crime
4*s

There are few stories as old as that of forbidden love and perhaps that is in part why the question of whether Madeline Hamilton Smith really did murder her lover Pierre Emile L’Anglier in Victorian Glasgow or not, has stayed in public consciousness for over one hundred and sixty years.

In Blackmail, Sex and Lies Kathryn McMaster has created a fictionalised tale using the actual letters between the lovers Madeline and Emile, as he was known, as the backbone of the book.

Madeline was part of the upper-middle classes, the daughter of an architect, albeit a man whose origins were far humbler whilst Emile worked as a packing clerk for Huggins a cotton merchants which was not an acceptable match in the year 1855 which is when the two first came into contact with each other. From Kathryn McMaster’s description Emile didn’t display his less than acceptable status, being well-dressed and a bit of a flatterer with his French accent and tales of daring dos in battles in France. The latter is subject to scepticism since Emile L’Anglier actually moved to Glasgow from Jersey in the Channel Islands where he was born on 30 April 1823.

Madeline was a mere 19 years old when she first met and was charmed by the older Emile and the pair initially had clandestine meetings until the wagging tongues of the gossips in Glasgow meant that word reached her mother. Her father banned the young Madeline from meeting or talking to Emile ever again and had she heeded his warnings the tale of course would have been much different.

As it was at the age of twenty-one, Madeline found herself on trial for his murder, the method, good old arsenic, the means a cup of cocoa and the opportunity a meeting to avail herself of very compromising letters which she hoped he would return to her to save her reputation, particularly as she was now engaged to the far more suitable William Harper Minnoch.

The fictionalisation of the story was incredibly convincing, even to this reader who has read a fair few accounts of the alleged  Victorian poisoner. The letters are inserted throughout the text in italics, so although the author has pin-pointed a time where young Madeline realised that Emile actually wanted to marry her so desperately to elevate his social position, the letters with pet-names and seeming promises of devotion are read in the context of a young woman who begins to realise the error she has made.

The book also contains some pictures to illustrate the text so that we see the house where Madeline and Emile exchanged the dynamite love letters through the convenient placement of her bedroom window, the lodging house where Emile met his agonising death and the likeness Madeline had taken to send to her lover.

A crucial element to the fictionalisation of historical murders is to tell a good story and the author certainly managed that. This is the first book I’ve read where the length of time Madeline and Emile carried on their relationship was really bought home to me – one of them was certainly playing the long game. To my immense pleasure what happened post-trial isn’t overlooked either, with enough details given even at this point for further insight into Madeline’s character to be made. The author has created her characters, added a plausible plot based on historical fact and woven that together creating the events, some of which are mentioned in the letters and others that must be entirely of her imagination and yet, so believable.

Did Madeline Smith murder her lover? I don’t think we will ever know and although the author’s explanation is incredibly convincing, even she can’t absolutely rehabilitate this young woman who behaved shockingly given the mores of the time.

For those who buy the kindle version of Blackmail, Sex and Lies, there is an opportunity to receive the full transcripts of the letters sent in the main by Madeline, Emile’s return post not having survived. Those that had envelopes with postmarks (although there is some doubt about whether the letters were returned to the correct envelopes have the added details of when they were posted and delivered which is enlightening as to the efficiency of the Victorian postal service! This collection is a lovely postscript to the book.

This is the second book of the year in my Mount TBR Challenge 2018, and since I bought my copy of Blackmail, Sex and Lies in December 2017 is also worth another third of a book token!

First Published UK: 30 August 2017
Publisher: Drama Llama Press
No of Pages: 198
Genre: Historical Crime Fiction
Amazon UK
Amazon US

Books I’ve read that reference Madeline Smith

A is for Arsenic: The Poisons of Agatha Christie by Kathryn Harkup
A Gallery of Poisoners by Adrian Vincent
The Poison Principle by Gail Bell
The Secret Poisoner by Linda Stratmann
Victorian Murderesses by Mary S. Hartman

Posted in Blog Tour, Book Review, Books I have read

Turning for Home – Barney Norris #BlogTour #BookReview

Contemporary Fiction
4*s

A Grandfather on his eightieth birthday and his grand-daughter a mere quarter of a century old are the figureheads for the talented Barney Norris’s latest book, Turning For Home but don’t be mislead this is far deeper than the conventional birthday gathering where memories are both revived and made.

Robert Shawcross is eighty and despite the loss of his wife the year before he is holding his annual birthday party, the one Hattie his wife instigated when he was forty, originally conceived as an opportunity for the scattered family to gather. The party itself has diminished over the last few years with the decline in the older family members but Hattie’s sister Laura has taken up the baton and is there preparing the food for the gathering.

Robert is moved to reflect on his life, a civil servant he spent much of his time in Belfast and was there at the time of the Enniskellen bombing on Remembrance Sunday in 1987. A bomb which killed many civilians, missing the British Troops it was planned to kill. The reflection of this time is prompted by the arrest of the Sinn Fein Leader in 2014, the news hitting the press just before Robert’s big party. The Boston Tapes were recordings of interviews carried out with Loyalist and Republican paramilitaries between 2001 and 2006 on the understanding that they would not be published until the interviewee was dead, what it seems no-one had appreciated was that these men could implicate those still living, leading to the arrest of Gerry Adams following a police probe.

So we have real life events based on the ‘Troubles’ with both the Enniskellen bombing and the Boston Tapes but Barney Norris chooses smaller more intimate stories against this gigantic backdrop. We have Robert’s story, the part he thinks he played in the negotiations towards peace along with recognition that he was one small cog in a whole bigger wheel, told alongside his Grand-daughter, Kate’s tale whose far shorter life hasn’t been without its own struggles. Her story is less clear to begin with but with incremental revelations we see a young woman who had much to live for until tragedy struck and her life derailed leading to a spell in hospital. Kate’s story is of loss and of her search for something that perhaps will never materialise. This is a story of families who never really know the truth about each other and individuals who struggle with the gaps between the truth and hope.

And I think perhaps it’s very human as well. Isn’t the life of any person made up of the telling of two tales, after all? People live in the space between the realities of their lives and the hopes they have for them.

This is a deeply poignant book, as books about characters nearing the end of their life are bound to be in some respects but it also has a message of hope. That just because the space between reality and dreams is wider than we’d like shouldn’t stop us from trying. Kate’s story is painful to read at times but worth persevering with, seeming just as relevant to this reader as the wider canvas that is its backdrop.

Barney Norris gives us both stories, interspersed with extracts from the Boston tapes, with lyrical prose and real depth. The struggles the two character’s face being unique to them but the language used will strike a chord as it charts the rise and fall of human emotions that are common to all of our lives.

A fantastic tale of betrayal, of love and hope and all the great emotions we ride throughout our lifetimes bought down in scale reflected through two people’s eyes, hearts and minds.

I’d like to thank the publishers Transworld who allowed me to read a copy of Turning for Home before publication on 11 January 2018, a book I was keen to read having thoroughly enjoyed Barney Norris’s debut novel Five Rivers Met on a Wooded Plain as well as Anne Cater for inviting me to be part of this blog tour. This unbiased review is my thanks to them and of course the author, Barney Norris.

First Published UK: 11 January 2018
Publisher: Transworld Books
No of Pages:272
Genre: Contemporary Fiction
Amazon UK
Amazon US

Don’t forget to catch the other stops on the Turning For Home Blog Tour which runs until 17 January 2018!

Posted in Book Review, Books I have read

I’ll Keep You Safe – Peter May

Crime Fiction
4*s

Since The Lewis Trilogy goes down as a favourite read of mine of all time, I was delighted to be offered a copy of this, the latest standalone novel, by Peter May also set in the Outer Hebrides. You will just have to imagine my excitement when I opened the front cover to find that I’ll Keep You Safe has a wonderful map of the places on the islands mentioned throughout the novel. Even better for those with a lack of Gaelic, there is a list of pronunciations so I didn’t have to do what I normally do which is to make up a word that looks close all the while knowing that wouldn’t pass muster anywhere except in my head.

The action doesn’t start in the Hebrides though, the setting for the explosive opening is in Paris soon after a confrontation between and her husband Ruairidh (Roo-are-ee) of ten years. Niamh has read an email sent from a well-wisher, informing her that Ruairidh is having an affair with his Russian business associate Irina. Ruairidh and Niamh are in Paris on business, the one they built together selling Ranish tweed, spun locally and sold to high end fashion designers world-wide.

After the opening Niamh is left alone, traumatised by the unexpected turn of events and she starts reflecting on her life living in Ranish, her relationship with her parents and Ruairidh’s parents trying to understand events that have never been properly confronted before.

Peter May has chosen to narrate this tale from two female viewpoints. In the main we hear from Niamh, either reflecting on the past or in the present trying to come to terms with recent events. The other narrator is Detective Braque from the French Police, a divorced woman who is trying to balance her job with the demands of twins, and it has to be said on the most part failing.

I love Peter May’s writing and the picture he paints of life on the Scottish Isles is so vivid that as in his previous books, I felt I knew the place so much so that I could easily be convinced I’ve visited despite the fact I haven’t. The descriptions of summers full of midges, the rain never far away, and the joys of playing house in amongst a pile of peat all add to the picture. Equally well portrayed is what life is like on the island, both in the past when Niamh was growing up and in more recently where she and Ruairidh built their own house at the edge of the island. The claustrophobia of everyone knowing each other’s business, the churches that rule a whole way of life which means discos for the youngsters end earlier to ensure there is no carousing on the Sabbath and the funeral rituals are all presented to illustrate the traditional views held by the islanders.

Despite being swept away by Niamh’s tale I was slightly less convinced by the ending which involved a leap of faith that I didn’t quite manage but there is no doubt at all that I’ll Keep You Safe ends on a bang in keeping with the explosive opening. With a book full of luscious descriptions as well an introduction into traditional weaving this is a book that will conjure up a mass of images illustrating a way of life which is unique to these Scottish islands. Even better these qualities are combined with characters that walk out of the pages and into your life.

I was very grateful to be sent a copy of I’ll Keep You Safe by the publisher Quercus. This unbiased review is my thank you to them.

You can read an extract from this book in yesterday’s post which formed part of the Blog Tour celebrating publication of this novel today, 11 January 2018.

First Published UK: 11 January 2018
Publisher: Riverrun
No of Pages: 436
Genre: Crime Fiction
Amazon UK
Amazon US

Posted in Blog Tour

I’ll Keep You Safe by Peter May #BlogTour #BookExtract

When I heard that Peter May was publishing another book set in the Outer Hebrides my excitement knew no bounds so I was absolutely thrilled to be contacted by Midas PR to see if I would like to be part of the blog tour to celebrate publication.

Peter May has kindly provided extracts from I’ll Keep You Safe which starts in Paris, so don’t forget to catch yesterday’s extract at Anne bonny book reviews before moving on to this, the second extract of the blog tour.
Extract 2

By the time she got to the lobby, Ruairidh and Irina had left the hotel. Through glass doors that gave on to the square, Niamh saw them getting into Irina’s car, a white A-Class Mercedes, its hazard lights flashing.

Niamh sprinted through the lobby, pausing breathlessly to let two sets of sliding doors open, before running out on to the pavement, assailed by a thousand city smells and sounds carried on cooling night breezes. The Mercedes was already accelerating away, past the lines of police vehicles, towards the traffic lights at the far end of the Place.

A classical-looking building on the block beyond the Crowne Plaza was clad in scaffolding, and simmered darkly behind mesh screening. Workmen’s trucks and a couple of skips lined up along the pavement in front of it, abandoned for the night.

Niamh ran out into the middle of the street, past a classic revolving Morris column, with its domed top, advertising a rerun of Le Fusible at the Théâtre des Bouffes Parisiens. Several armed police officers turned to look at her, suddenly alert. But she didn’t even see them. The brake lights of the Mercedes glowed red as it stopped at the lights beyond the workmen’s trucks, and the left indicator began to flash. Niamh glanced across the square, beyond the thirty-foot statue of Marianne picked out by symbolic red, white and blue spots, and thought that if she ran a diagonal across the slabs, she could reach the far end of the square in time to cut the car off before it was gone for good. If only the lights would stay red long enough.

She ran past the graffiti-covered red containers that lined the nearside of the pavement, sprinting beyond Marianne and the steps that led down to the Métro République. Off to her left she was only vaguely aware of the diners who sat out at green metal tables at the Café Fluctuat Nec Mergitur. Destroyed by fire early in 2015, it had been reopened, and renamed with the motto of Paris following the terrorist attacks later that same year. Tossed by the waves but never sunk. It was about to be tossed once more.

Niamh saw the lights change to green and the Mercedes start to turn left across the flow of traffic. And then she was blinded. A searing, burning light that obliterated all else, just a fraction of a second before the shockwave from the blast knocked her off her feet. As she hit the ground, sight returned. She saw glass flying from the broken windows of the Fluctuat Nec Mergitur, tables and chairs spinning away across the square. As she rolled over, the Mercedes was still in the air. Later she would remember it as being ten feet or more off the ground. But in fact it was probably no more than eighteen or twenty inches. Flaming debris showered down across the Place de la République as the car slammed back on to the road, a ball of flame.

While her sight had returned, her hearing had not. The tinnitus was deafening. Then somewhere beyond it she heard a voice screaming. It was some moments before she realized it was her own. She pulled herself to her knees but did not have the strength to stand up, supporting herself on her arms and transfixed by the blazing vehicle on the road. Somewhere in her peripheral vision, beyond awareness, she saw dark figures running in the night. Long, flickering shadows cast by the light of the burning car.

Screams still tore themselves from her throat. Repeated, hysterical bursts of them. Before she understood that it was his name she was shrieking at the night. She felt hands grasp her arms on either side, men in uniform and dark body armour lifting her to her feet. One of them was shouting at her. His lips were moving, but she couldn’t hear him. And then a woman moved into her field of vision. A woman with long dark hair cascading over shoulders draped in silk, a shawl wrapped around her above a pencil skirt and high heels. She flashed a wallet from her bag at the men who held Niamh. With the blaze behind her, Niamh couldn’t see the woman’s face. And yet somehow her voice cut through everything else. A commanding voice edged with concern.

Niamh felt tears burning tracks down her cheeks and stopped screaming to draw breath. Although she could now hear the words, she couldn’t understand them. She shook her head hopelessly. Then suddenly there was clarity. The woman was speaking English.
‘You are English?’

She almost certainly only wanted to know that Niamh understood her. But Niamh had never been able to think of herself that way. ‘Scottish,’ she said, her voice was hoarse already. Then she thought what an absurd distinction it was in a moment like this.
‘You were running towards the car.’
‘Yes.’
‘Why?’
‘Ruairidh . . .’ Just saying his name caused her throat to close and fresh tears to scald her face. She took a moment to find her breath again. ‘My husband.’
‘Your husband was in the car?’
Niamh nodded vigorously. ‘And Irina.’
‘Irina?’
‘Vetrov. The fashion designer.’ She found light now in the woman’s eyes. ‘They’re dead, aren’t they?’
The woman nodded.
Niamh broke down again. Sobs contracting in her chest, almost completely blocking the flow of air to her lungs. The woman put a reassuring hand on her shoulder. ‘Why were you running towards the car?’ It was a refrain that would repeat itself often in the hours to come.
‘They were . . .’ In her shock and confusion she searched hopelessly for the right word. ‘Lovers.’ She sucked in air between sobs. ‘All this time and I never knew it.’ She searched the light in the eyes that gazed at her, looking for . . . what? Sympathy? Reason? ‘Now I’ll never be able to ask him why.’

I think you’ll have to agree that it’s all a little bit tense… You can read my review of I’ll Keep You Safe tomorrow, the date of publication.

Amazon UK
Amazon US

Peter May pendant le salon Polars du Sud à Toulouse en 2013

About Peter May

Website: www.petermay.co.uk
Twitter: @authorpetermay

Peter May is the multi award-winning author of:

– the Lewis Trilogy set in the Outer Hebrides of Scotland;
– the China Thrillers, featuring Beijing detective Li Yan and American forensic pathologist Margaret Campbell;
– the Enzo Files, featuring Scottish forensic scientist Enzo MacLeod, which is set in France. The sixth and final Enzo book is Cast Iron (January 2017, Riverrun).

He has also written several standalone books:
– I’ll Keep You Safe (January 2018, Riverrun)
– Entry Island (January 2014, Quercus UK)
– Runaway (January 2015, Quercus UK)
– Coffin Road (January 2016, Riverrun)

May had a successful career as a television writer, creator, and producer.

One of Scotland’s most prolific television dramatists, he garnered more than 1000 credits in 15 years as scriptwriter and script editor on prime-time British television drama. He is the creator of three major television drama series and presided over two of the highest-rated serials in his homeland before quitting television to concentrate on his first love, writing novels.
Born and raised in Scotland he lives in France.

His breakthrough as a best-selling author came with The Lewis Trilogy. After being turned down by all the major UK publishers, the first of the The Lewis Trilogy – The Blackhouse – was published in France as L’Ile des Chasseurs d’Oiseaux where it was hailed as “a masterpiece” by the French national newspaper L’Humanité. His novels have a large following in France. The trilogy has won several French literature awards, including one of the world’s largest adjudicated readers awards, the Prix Cezam.

The Blackhouse was published in English by the award-winning Quercus (a relatively young publishing house which did not exist when the book was first presented to British publishers). It went on to become an international best seller, and was shortlisted for both Barry Award and Macavity Award when it was published in the USA.
The Blackhouse won the US Barry Award for Best Mystery Novel at Bouchercon in Albany NY, in 2013.

Posted in Weekly Posts

First Chapter ~ First Paragraph (January 9)

First Chapter
Welcome to another Tuesday celebrating bookish events, from Tuesday/First Chapter/Intros, hosted by Bibliophile by the Sea Every Tuesday, Diane at Bibliophile by the Sea posts the opening paragraph (sometime two) of a book she decided to read based on the opening. Feel free to grab the banner and play along.

Today I’ve chosen the opening from a book I will be reading soon; The Wicked Cometh by Laura Carlin which will be published on 1 February 2018.

Blurb

We have no need to protect ourselves from the bad sort
because we ARE the bad sort . . .’

Down the murky alleyways of London, acts of unspeakable wickedness are taking place and the city’s vulnerable poor are disappearing from the streets. Out of these shadows comes Hester White, a bright young woman who is desperate to escape the slums by any means possible.

When Hester is thrust into the world of the aristocratic Brock family, she leaps at the chance to improve her station in life under the tutelage of the fiercely intelligent and mysterious Rebekah Brock.

But whispers from her past slowly begin to poison her new life and both she and Rebekah are lured into the most sinister of investigations, dragging them into the blackest heart of a city where something more depraved than either of them could ever imagine is lurking. . . Amazon

~ ~ ~ ~ ~

First Chapter ~ First Paragraph ~ Intro

The Morning Herald

Tuesday 13 September 1831

SUPPOSED DISAPPEARANCE IN THE BELVEDERE ROAD

This newspaper has taken note that the past month has been remarkable for the prevalence of cases where men, women and children are declared missing. Scarcely a week passes without the occurrence of an incident of this type

Such fears may indeed be well-founded and made but too evident by the following account, the particulars of which we are about to lay before our readers.

We study the tale of an unfortunate, known familiarly by the name Jonnie Hogget.

On Tuesday afternoon of the 6th inst. between five and six o’clock, Jonnie Hogget, fourteen years of age, was making his way from his place of industry at Mr Sturtevant’s, the soap boilers.

Master Hogget had been seen for some time loitering in the region of the Belvedere Road and it was in this quarter that the lad was last witnessed and then seen no more.

~ ~ ~ ~ ~

I’m one of those people who have got lost for hours reading historical newspapers so I love this opening, the language and phrasing absolutely setting the murky scene that is about to unfold.

What do you think? Would you keep reading?

Posted in Book Review, Books I have read

Faking Friends – Jane Fallon

Contemporary Fiction
4*s

This book was just what I needed in the post-Christmas haze, a story of revenge played out in exquisite detail between Amy and her best friend Mel.

Jane Fallon has the knack of making what could be a flat tale of a friendship gone wrong into one where I genuinely cared about some of the characters, a book that made me wish that some of the lovely people that surround Amy were in my life too, although I have to say I’d give Mel a miss.

Amy and Mel grew up in a small village near Maidenhead in Buckinghamshire, best friends since the age of eleven when Mel offered the hand of friendship which Amy grasped willingly. Mel, even at that age knew she was going to be famous and the fabulous caricature which is Sylvia, ensures that she is turned out for any auditions with ringlets in her hair and blue eye-shadow pasted to her eyelids. Amy stayed in the background and decides to go to university to study history but the girl’s friendship is too strong for the separation to lead to a cooling of their relationship.

When we first meet her Amy returns from working in America for a surprise visit. She heads for her flat that she shares with her fiancé Jack to prepare for Mel’s fortieth birthday party. Surprised (understatement intended) to find another woman’s belongings in her home, complete with toiletries in the bathroom, she determines to find out who they belong to.

The scenes are set with just enough drama to be entertaining without over-egging the pudding which could tip them into farce. Amy has decided not to confront Jack with what she knows until she has made a plan, and for anyone who has for whatever reason, had to be evasive with the people they are closest to, will recognise the awkwardness this quickly causes.

Most of the story is told from Amy’s perspective interspersed with the girl’s back-story of the long friendship which adds depth to the narrative in the present time as Amy decides to get down and dirty to get her own back. Later on we get some input from Mel herself, something that threw me at first as I didn’t see it coming, but was well worth it as we see the set up some action which plays out like a slow-motion car crash.

As is usual in this domestic noir type story there is a romance, friends that go above and beyond the call of duty. The problems of living on the outskirts of North London, the cost of rent, the lack of fashionable shops and the trek to get anywhere useful are all dotted through the narrative thus appealing to all those commuters that will probably see this book advertised on the tube. With guest appearances by a cat, a seventies rug and a various assortment of furniture, this book is sure to appeal all of us who want to believe that life doesn’t end when a relationship does.

I love a bit of fun and frippery, Jane Fallon has the ability to make me chuckle and wince in the space of a page but even the revenge planned and executed isn’t nasty with a capital N. In my opinion those who wronged Amy got everything they deserved!

I’d like to say a big thank you to one of my favourite publishers, Penguin UK who allowed me to read a copy of Faking Friends ahead of publication on 11 January 2018.

First Published UK: 11 January 2018
Publisher: Penguin UK
No of Pages: 447
Genre: Contemporary Fiction
Amazon UK
Amazon US