Born Bad – Heather Burnside


Blurb:
Brother and sister Peter and Adele Robinson never stood a chance. Dragged up by an alcoholic, violent father, and a weak, beaten mother, their childhood in Manchester only prepared them for a life of crime and struggle. But Adele is determined to break the mould. She studies hard at school and, inspired by her beloved grandmother Joyce, she finally makes a successful life for herself on her own.
Peter is not so lucky. Getting more and more immersed in the murky world of crime and gangs, his close bonds with Adele gradually loosen until they look set to break altogether.
But old habits die hard, and one devastating night, Adele is forced to confront her violent past. Dragged back into her worst nightmares, there’s only one person she can turn to when her life is on the line – her brother Peter. After all, blood is thicker than water…
Extract:
Adele felt bad. She shouldn’t have carried on so much at Peter, then her father wouldn’t have known. It was bound to annoy him, especially on a Sunday. He was always in a mood on a Sunday. In fact, he was always in a mood any day, but Sundays were particularly bad. It was only recently, as she was growing up, that Adele realised why; it was because of the skinful he had had on a Saturday night. All he wanted to do on Sundays was sleep it off. Then he would sit and pore through the papers whilst their mother, Shirley, made a pretence of cleaning the house, and cooked the traditional Sunday dinner in an effort to please him.
This was usually the first attempt at cleaning that Shirley had made all week. She spent most of her days gossiping with the neighbours, sleeping or watching TV. Her evenings were spent in a similar fashion, except for the few nights a week in which she tore herself away from the street to go and play bingo.
Adele got up off the bed and drifted towards the window. She avoided the sight of Peter but looked out instead at the other houses, watching people go about their business. Allowing her mind to drift, she contemplated, for the umpteenth time, her miserable existence.
Lately she was realising that although this way of life was commonplace within these four walls, there was a different world out there. Talking to her friends had made her understand that her circumstances weren’t the norm, and other parents were different from her own. Other children went out with their families to the cinema or country parks. They had holidays at the seaside and expensive presents for their birthdays.
The only advantage she had over other children was her freedom. Her father was hardly ever home, so that gave her and Peter a chance to roam the streets and do whatever they pleased as long as news of their mischief didn’t get back to him. Their mother scarcely showed any interest in where they were going or what time they would be back.
Adele often consoled herself by imagining that one day things would be different. When she was old enough she would get a good job and a rich husband, and she would escape her domineering father and slovenly mother. She would have a beautiful home and children who would never want for anything. It was this dream that kept her going.
Just then Adele was jolted back to reality by the sound of raised voices downstairs.
‘Don’t go, Tommy, I was gonna do you a nice dinner later,’ pleaded her mother.
‘Bugger off, I’m going for a pint. There’s nowt to stay in this bloody pigsty for. I’m sick of you, you lazy cow, and those two scruffy little gets!’
This was followed by a loud slamming of the front door and Shirley muttering something to herself. Adele couldn’t quite hear her mother’s words, but she gathered that she wasn’t happy about him going out.
Adele had had enough of home for one day, so she decided that she would go outside for a while too. She was heading downstairs when she heard the sound of the door knocker. Worried it was her father coming back, she scuttled back to the top of the stairs. It was only after her mother had answered the door that Adele realised it was her grandma, Joyce.
She entered loudly and, appearing as bumptious as ever, declared, ‘I’ve just passed His Lordship in the street. He’s got a right face on him, as usual. It took him all his time to say hello. What the bleedin’ hell’s up with him this time?’ The soft features of her plump face had tightened to form an expression of scorn.
Shirley said nothing, but shook her head from side to side as she led her mother into the living room, leaving the door ajar. Adele would normally have raced down the stairs to greet her grandma, who she thought the world of. Although loud and opinionated, Joyce had a kind heart and was full of good intentions. But the look of resignation on her mother’s face, and the tired way she dragged her feet, stopped Adele from following them. She had guessed that they were about to have one of their chats, and overcome by curiosity, she crept down the stairs so she could listen in. She could just about see them both through the gap of the open door.
‘Jesus, Shirley love, what the bloody hell’s happened to this place? It looks like a bomb’s hit it and smells bloody awful! It’s worse than last time. I thought you were going to try and get on top of things!’
‘Oh don’t start, Mam. Don’t you think I’m sick of it? It’s not me that makes it a tip you know, and what’s the use of tidying it anyway when they only mess it up again?’
‘I’m worried about you, love. Every time I come you’ve let yourself go more. You’re just not happy, are you? Has he been at you again?’
‘Not really. It’s Peter he’s pissed off with, because he made a mess on the garden path, squashing some caterpillars or summat. I wish he’d leave him alone; he’s not a bad lad really.’
‘I don’t know, I worry about our Peter, always up to mischief and getting into fights. I’ve told you, he takes after his side of the family.’
Their conversation then became much quieter, and Adele had to strain to hear them. Without getting too close, and risking being caught out, she managed to catch snippets of her grandma’s words.
‘Bad lot… told you before… bad blood… mad… great-uncle… always fighting… ended up in an asylum.’
A few moments of silence followed until Shirley said, ‘I don’t know what I’m gonna do, Mam. I’ve no idea what our Peter will turn out like. I’m just glad our Adele’s all right.’
Follow Aria
Website: www.ariafiction.com
Twitter: @aria_fiction
Facebook: @ariafiction
Instagram: @ariafictio
About the author
Heather Burnside spent her teenage years on one of the toughest estates in Manchester and she draws heavily on this background as the setting for many of her novels. After taking a career break to raise two children Heather enrolled on a creative writing course. Heather now works full-time on her novels from her home in Manchester, which she shares with her two grown-up children.
Follow Heather:
Twitter: @heatherbwriter
Facebook: @HeatherBurnsideAuthor

The Secrets (Detective Mike Croft #2) by Jane Adams

The Secrets (Detective Mike Croft #2) by Jane Adams
DISCOVER A CRIME THRILLER THAT WILL KEEP YOU HOLDING YOUR BREATH UNTIL THE VERY LAST PAGE 
 
Please note this book was first published as “Cast The First Stone.”
 
WHAT DOES HE KNOW?
Threatening phone calls, smashed windows, physical intimidation. Eric Pearson and his family have only just moved into a new home in a sleepy cul-de-sac, but they already have dangerous enemies. How could a respectable family become the focus of such hatred?
 
Detective Inspector Mike Croft knows the Pearson family well. Eric Pearson claims to own a journal which gives evidence of a horrifying ring of abusers. If true, it would be a high stakes case for DI Croft, and expose awful secrets that the town has buried deep.
 
But no one wants to believe the dark conspiracies of this friendless and bitter man.
 
Then a body is found on the edge of Bright’s Wood, wrapped in a black bag.
 
DI Croft must confront evil which threatens to rip apart everyone in the community.

EVERYONE HAS SECRETS. BUT SOME ARE SO DARK THAT PEOPLE WILL KILL TO KEEP THEM.
 
Praise for JANE ADAMS, author of the sensational best seller THE GREENWAY.
 
“Few debut novels achieve this level of suspense. The Greenway lingered in my mind for days. It takes the psychological suspense novel into new realms of mystery.” Val McDermid, Manchester Evening News
 
“A haunting debut.” Minette Walters
 
“Compellingly told and rich with psychological insight.” Independent
 
“Nail-biting stuff.” Ms London
 
“An assured first novel, with a strong cast and a plot which twists and turns without a glitch.” Yorkshire Evening Post
 
“Adams has a distinctive voice, which I predict will be heard by the majority of mystery fans.”
 
 
DETECTIVE MIKE CROFT SERIES
Book 1: The Greenway
Book 2: The Secrets


Author content feature: 
My second novel, in the DI Mike Croft series, is about to be re-released by Joffe Books so we’ve been going through the process of preparing TheSecrets for publication. It’s been strange, revisiting this book and finding just how relevant and current it still feels.
At the core of The Secrets (first published as Cast the First Stone) is the theme of abuse – of trust, position, of individuals who can’t fight back. The second theme is about the wider circle of victims and survivors and the question, if someone you love is accused of a terrible thing, who do you believe? The accuser? Or your husband, wife, child…And what are the consequences, once you’ve made that decision.
Crimes happen in ordinary places. In close – and closed – communities, in ordinary streets and are, more often than not, committed by what seem like ordinary people. Everyone has secrets, usually only little, harmless things that we’re embarrassed about or mistakes made when we’re too young to know better, but what happens if your whole world is built on secrets and if you know that if once those secrets were to be revealed, they could never be forgiven. Or if you are also the guardian of other people’s secrets and they are even more terrible than your own.
I hope readers enjoy this second outing for DI Mike CroftThe Secrets is published by Joffe Books onApril 12th.


Jane Adams Author Bio
Why do I write?
Like most writers, it’s a kind of compulsion. The stories are there and I have to try and grab hold of them and pin them onto the page. Most of the time, I enjoy the process; sometimes, I’d rather be doing just about anything else, up to and including the ironing – and I hate ironing.
I started writing when my youngest child went to school. I was incredibly lucky and my first novel, The Greenway, was picked up by Macmillan in 1994 and published in 1995.
I currently write two series; Naomi Blake and Rina Martin. Rina was a character I’d had in mind for years before committing her to paper. An elderly, ex thespian who had played the part of a popular TV detective, she had retired to the seaside and bought a boarding house for other ex performers. Rina’s feisty, no nonsense character is, I suppose, based on the rather powerful and opinionated ladies I grew up surrounded by – mother, teachers in the all girls school I attended, aunts and pseudo aunts, all of whom had opinions about everything and made sure these were unstintingly shared.
Naomi Blake, on the other hand, was the brainchild of my late agent, Bob Tanner at International Scripts. ‘You should write a blind detective,’ he said ‘ and she needs a big, black guidedog, called Napoleon’.
I thought it was a daft idea, and told him so. I just couldn’t see how to do it. But, like a lot of seemingly daft ideas, this one wormed its was into my brain and I realised he was right. It could work and so, the Naomi Blake series came into being.
I have always written in other genres too, short stories in the SF, Fantasy and Gothic Horror genre, and am working on longer projects when time allows. I also teach Creative Writing and have had the great priviligde of being a Royal Literary Fund Fellow at three different universities.

Arbitrage

Arbitrage
Ryan Logan thinks he has it all… A young attorney specialising in finance and tax law, Logan has earned an impressive reputation and commands a hefty fee for his services. But when he advises his corporate employers against a merger with a shady financial institution, he soon finds himself caught up in a web of betrayal and deceit. Framed for the murder of his wealthy boss, Logan is forced to accept a plea deal, to keep his own dark secrets from coming to light…
Arbitrage is a fast-paced, stand-alone financial thriller. If you like edge-of-your-seat suspense, sweet revenge, and twists and turns you won’t see coming, you’ll love this eye-opening look into the world of financial crime.
Can a burned out lawyer outwit an army of con artists and killers?
Purchase Link – https://mybook.to/Arbitrage
Although this is was a bit of my “normal” comfort zone, I thoroughly enjoyed it.  I actually quite liked Ryan and thought that his character was well and realistically developed…
I would highly recommend this to other readers including those who normally wouldn’t think of books in this genre. 
Author Bio –
Colette Kebell is an eclectic author, though a relatively new one and thus far has self-published her books. Her books are light-hearted, fun and quirky and even considered by some to be inspirational.  She publishes mostly for the English speaking market and the Italian one.  Colette Kebell does not stick to just one genre when writing though, as you shall discover from her latest book to be launched on 5th April 2019
As a career, Colette spent her later years as a legal secretary. After a first attempt at writing many years ago (a book that still remains in her drawer) she resumed this passion a few years back, after being made redundant.  After few book signing events and a book talk, which almost caused her to collapse with nerves, Colette now spends her time between her home in the UK and her home in France.
Colette has two adorable dogs and, when not writing and marketing her books, she likes cooking for herself and her husband, gardening or designing various items for their home.  Amongst her other hobbies, she has also experimented with furniture upholstery, and she might, from time to time, have a paintbrush in her hand.
She can be found on twitter @ColetteKebell though doesn’t tweet a vast amount.

Hound – Ken Ogilvie

Hound (Rebecca Bradley #2) by Ken Ogilvie


Do you love mysteries with intricate plots and new locations? Meet Detective Rebecca Bradley as she faces an escaped serial killer whose next target IS THE POLICEWOMAN HERSELF.

Rebecca Bradley put serial killer Jackie Caldwell in prison. She had the assistance of Hound, a giant young man who’s in love with Rebecca.

But then Jackie murders a prison guard and escapes. She heads north to her home town of Conroy, where she hides out in the forest to evade a massive police search.
She’s burning with hatred for Rebecca, and wants revenge for the financial ruin of her family twenty years ago in a goldmining scam by Rebecca’s villainous grandfather.
Jackie  also hates Rebecca’s wealthy father, who betrayed and then helped the police apprehend Jackie’s sleazebag lover, Kingsley McBride.
Hound pursues Jackie in a bone-chilling chase through the eastern Georgian Bay forest . He faces a race against time to save the woman he loves.
Discover a new crime writer who will have you gripped till the pulsating end.

THE DETECTIVE
Rebecca Bradley was psychologically damaged by the unsolved murder of her mother when she was eight years of age. Driven by her mission to catch the murderer and make him pay for his crime, Rebecca is obsessed with justice and retribution, and is haunted by dreams of revenge.
 
REBECCA BRADLEY SERIES
Book 1: HER DARK PATH
Book 2: HOUND

Thoroughly enjoyed this one, slightly different from some of the books I have read recently. Would recommend this, and don’t think it has to be in series, but I think you would benefit from reading both.
KEN OGILVIE is a new mystery writing author, with Her Dark Path as his first book. Prior to taking up writing, Ken worked in a variety of roles in the environmental policy domain, including positions with three governments in Canada (Federal, Manitoba and Ontario) and as the Executive Director of Pollution Probe, one of Canada’s premier environmental groups. He remains active as a consultant on energy and climate change, and sits on the Boards of two national nonprofit organizations – the Pembina Institute for Appropriate Development, and Quality Urban Energy Systems of Tomorrow. He is well-known across Canada for his environmental work, and has received two honourary doctorates from the University of Waterloo, Ontario, and Thompson Rivers University, British Columbia.
Links

Martha’s Revenge Joanna Larum

Martha’s Revenge – Synopsis
            Martha’s Revenge begins where Martha is pretending to have lost her memory after Dolly attacked her. She is finding playing the ‘angelic younger sister’ a strain but this is compensated by the adrenaline rush that she gets when she murders her next victim, Mrs Browne. This is so addictive she looks out for another victim and settles on Mr Gray, the inoffensive but rather weak printer who made such a mess of her advertising leaflets.
            Martha and Daniel’s mother, Edith, falls ill as she pays for all the years she spent working in the damp laundry in the cold and wet. She dies and her husband Bob is devastated, as is Daniel. Martha doesn’t feel anything at the loss of her mother other than irritation at her failure to protect her children from the cruelty of their grandparents.
            Georgie hero worships Daniel who rescued him from the work house and has been almost a father figure to him since he came to live in York Street with them. Dolly, a fat and unattractive older woman, was also taken in by Daniel and she adores him for being so kind to her. Her head is stuffed with Irish folk tales which she learnt from her Irish grandmother, as well as the conviction that she can see the kindness or cruelty in other people’s auras. Daniel is the innocent in this, as he believes that Martha has reformed and is the delightful sister he always hoped she was.
            Both Georgie and Dolly want to protect Daniel as they know he would be devastated by proof of Martha’s wickedness and they both know that he won’t help them to trap her. When the printer dies, strangled during the night by an ‘unknown’ killer, they realise that they could be next on her list and start to plan how they are going to trap her.
            Daniel finds Frank Jackson, a twelve-year-old boy who has an alcoholic mother and younger siblings and has lost his father to the War, who is taken on as a shop boy to help Martha. Frank initially thinks that Martha is a wonderful person but, the more he sees of her behaviour in the shop, the more he realises how wicked and cruel she actually is. He mentions his concerns over Martha’s behaviour to Dolly and she recruits him as a spy in the shop. Martha moves on to another victim, murdering old Mrs Jessop in her own kitchen. Frank is now frightened of Martha and glad that he took his concerns to Dolly.
            Lucy Renwick, who Martha blackmailed over her affair with the married David Dundas, has sunk very low in the world. Jobless and living in one room which she can’t afford, she spends her days looking for work, walking up to Normanby every day and then home again, still jobless. Mr Wilfred Chambers owns the manor house which faces Normanby Road and he watches Lucy every day. He has been invalided out of the Army and he wants to open a market garden on the land which surrounds his house, so that he can provide work and wages for those soldiers who have lost limbs to the War, or to the families of those soldiers who gave their lives in service to their country. He goes to the Baptist Chapel one Sunday morning and sees Lucy and offers her the job of housekeeper and overseer of the garden. He has admired the way that she has never given in or up, despite losing everything and wearing out her shoes walking the streets looking for work. She accepts the job and moves into the manor house where she loses her high-handed attitude and is genuinely loved by the garden workers and their families and the staff of the manor house.
            Martha writes a letter to Lucy, admitting to being the person who tried to have her framed for burglary in the pawnbroker’s shop. Lucy comes to the shop to see Martha and they make friends – genuine on Lucy’s part but false on Martha’s part. Frank is told to go home but he is frightened of Martha’s mood and reports to Georgie and Dolly. They decide to keep watch on Martha, even if that means taking turns at staying awake all night in order to see what she does.
            Martha has been invited to a garden party at the manor house where she decides to make a play for Mr Chambers, but he has eyes only for Lucy.
            Meanwhile, Daniel has fallen in love with Bob Prosser’s daughter and is devastated to learn that Bob is also his father. Their relationship is forbidden which plunges Daniel into a deep depression which worries Georgie and Dolly even more. Daniel is oblivious of all that is happening around him as he is so concerned about his love for Grace.
            While at the garden party, Martha took the opportunity of taking an impression of the back door key in order to have it copied. Frank, Dolly and Georgie are convinced by Martha’s behaviour that she has planned on killing Lucy as retribution for the times that Lucy was rude to her in Reed’s shop. That night, when Martha sets off to storm the manor house, Georgie and Dolly follow her, unaware that Frank is following all three of them. Martha is also unaware that Mr Chambers has proposed to Lucy, although Lucy has to decline his offer as she is still married to her husband, the one who threw her out when he learnt of her adultery.
            Martha reaches Lucy’s bedroom but doesn’t find Lucy as she is in her parlour next door to her bedroom, reliving Mr Chamber’s proposal. A storm arrives and lightning hits the barns which house the tender plants as well as one of them being a dormitory for the workers. Chaos ensues as they all try to extinguish the fires which result from the lightning strike but the water in the pump runs dry and Lucy goes to try and find an old well at the bottom of the manor’s garden. Martha accosts her there, away from anyone else and attempts to strangle her.SPOILER ALERT – Frank pushes Martha down the well and saves Lucy’s life.
            Once the fire has been extinguished, Frank explains everything that happened and produces Martha’s suitcase which she had hidden in the garden. She intended killing Lucy and then escaping to London. She has a letter in the suitcase, stamped and addressed to Daniel which Georgie opens. It contains her confession of Lucy’s (and other) murders and explains she is going to move to a city. She has taken all the money she amassed with her blackmailing.
            Lucy, Mr Chambers, Georgie and Dolly decide to use the money to rebuild the barns and extend the garden. They tip the detritus from the fires down the well and then seal it, so Martha’s body is never discovered and they all keep the secret of who killed Martha. The rest of the world, including Daniel, believes that Martha has moved to a big city, so no-one misses her.
My Opinion
This is historical fiction set in Middlesbrough at the time of WW1.  It is a gripping story that takes the reader back to the difficulties of life in that period.  An enjoyable read.
Author Bio
I only went to school to learn to read. At age 6, I decided I COULD read and promptly left, by the school gate, the same gate which my mother marched me back through 10 minutes later. So I had to spend the next 12 years at school, learning lots of different things, none of which lived up to the excitement of reading. Wanting to be a writer was a natural progression, because there is nothing as exciting as inventing the story yourself. But it’s taken over 50 years before I dared to present my stories for other people to read. So, here they are! I’ll just creep behind the sofa.
LINKS
Twitter: @jolarum

A Dangerous Act Of Kindness

Title: A Dangerous Act of Kindness
Author Name: LP Fergusson
Genre: Historical Fiction
Release Date: 28th March 2019
Today’s Featured Extract:
The explosion was deafening. It juddered up through the Messerschmitt, into Lukas Schiller’s body. He felt his stomach twist, a fizz of terror squeezing the tip of his tongue. Had he been hit?
He strained around in his seat, staring into the twilight. The sky was empty. No puffs of ack-ack, no Spitfires. He looked at the temperature gauge: 120°C and climbing. What the hell just happened? Could he make it back across the English Channel, back to the German base at Coquelles? Yes, maybe. But not up here. He must drop down, hide in the cloud base, let the engine cool.
‘Now, mein Schätzchen,’ he said, ‘See how carefully I treat you. I won’t let you burn your insides out.’
He reached forward to turn off the ignition. His hand was trembling, he knew he must steady himself. The engine cut and he was gliding now, his breath booming in his helmet as he watched the needles drop. There was even time to glimpse enemy fields between the breaks in the clouds. They were white with snow like the alps of Swabia. He felt calmer, listening to the gale outside, calm enough to wonder if he would ever walk in the mountains again, see the ice crystals forming rainbows in front of his eyes.
He pulled off his oxygen mask to give himself more freedom and a smell smacked into his nostrils, hot metal and fuel. Waves of panic swelled inside him, pushing up into his throat. He was low now, eight hundred feet, grey clouds boiling all around him. Time to fire up the engine again. Metal screamed against metal, his ears pulsed under the agonising volume then…
Silence.
The engine had seized.
He needed to move fast. He tore off his flying helmet, his elbows crashing against the cockpit. He grabbed at the lever and jettisoned the canopy. The sudden explosion of wind and noise was terrifying. He gasped, gulped at the freezing air. The canopy was wrenched from his hand. He heard it grating along the fuselage behind.
He released his seat belt, pushed up into the slipstream. Pushed again. And again. He was jammed. His parachute pack was wedged, the gale raging around him, forcing his body down. Beneath him he felt his plane begin her final dive, a roll to the right, a drop of her nose. He was going down with her, down into the void.
With a great pump of adrenaline, Lukas leant into the roll and pushed with all his might.
And he was out, rolling along the side of the plane, the powerstorm tossing him like a rag doll. He tried to brace his head with his arms, certain he was going to smash into the tail section but then he was falling. He was clear. Tumbling through the sky, he reached up, grasped the handle and pulled.
Nothing happened.
He was dropping like a stone, the wind thundering in his ears. Fields widened, expanding beneath him as he plummeted. Cold earth, hard as iron, rushing towards him.
He grappled behind his neck, his hands desperately trying to feel the opening to the pack to help the ’chute out. Billows of silk and line bubbled up by his side, wrapping itself around his arm. Lukas twisted and tossed his body about to give it free passage.
Silk streamed past him. He looked up, saw the parachute fill, felt the full force of the deceleration in his shoulder and pain – a panting, searing pain. The cord shook the arm free, dropping it limp and useless by his side.
He twisted, trying to lessen the pressure of the harness against his shoulder but the ground was coming up fast. The parachute rotated him.
His plane swam into focus, way over there, in the distance. She was diving silently down towards a field. A herd of cows bolted away from under her, their tails held high, their hooves kicking up lumps of mud and snow. His plane sank out of sight, over a ridge and he heard a muffled thud as she hit the earth.
The parachute spiralled him round again and the wind carried him further away from her, swinging him towards some trees. As he pendulumed down towards a spinney he heard her ammunition begin to fire, a fanfare calling the enemy to muster and search but as he crashed down through the branches he heard a crackling explosion. His Messerschmitt had destroyed herself.

Book Blurb:
What would you risk for a complete stranger?
When widow Millie Sanger finds injured enemy pilot Lukas Schiller on her farm, the distant war is suddenly at her doorstep. Compassionate Millie knows he’ll be killed if discovered, and makes the dangerous decision to offer him shelter from the storm.
On opposite sides of the inescapable conflict, the two strangers forge an unexpected and passionate bond. But as the snow thaws, the relentless fury of World War Two forces them apart, leaving only the haunting memories of what they shared, and an understanding that their secret must never see light.
As Millie’s dangerous act of kindness sets them on paths they never could have expected, those closest to them become their greatest threats, and the consequences of compassion prove deadly…
A Dangerous Act of Kindness is a beautiful, harrowing love story, perfect for fans of Rachel Hore and Santa Montefiore

Meet the Author:
LP Fergusson grew up on the borders of Wales in a Tudor house on the banks of  the River Wye. As a child she longed to go back in history. Now she does, through her writing. She has an MA in Creative Writing from Oxford Brookes University and won the Blackwell’s Prize for MA Creative Writing. Her stories have made a number of shortlists for competitions run by the Orwell Society, Oxfordshire Libraries and Flash500. Her psychological thriller reached the final three of a Quercus/Psychologies Thriller competition and her wartime novel A Dangerous Act of Kindness was Highly Commended in the Caledonia Novel Award 2018. She edits the historical blog With Love from Graz which was featured on BBC Radio Wales, Radio 2 and BBC4’s A Very British Romance with Lucy Worsley. She now lives in an Oxfordshire village beneath the chalk downs where her debut novel is set.
Twitter: @LPFergusson

Poster Boy – N J Crosskey


‘Keep this book far from anyone who might be tempted to turn its fiction into reality’ Christina Dalcher
Broadcast live, Rosa Lincoln takes to the stage at her brother’s memorial service with a bomb concealed beneath her clothes. Being in Jimmy’s shadow was never easy, even when he was alive, but in death he has become a national hero.
When she crosses paths with the enigmatic Teresa, she discovers that those she has been taught to view as enemies may not be the real villains after all.
The lies need to be stopped, and Rosa intends on doing just that.
What Reviewers and Readers Say:
‘A thought-provoking debut – fast-paced, gutsy and disturbing’ Fiona Mitchell, author of The Maid’s Room
‘Poster Boy is a chilling, thrilling and intensely disturbing read – a conspiracy to divide and control a nation at whatever the cost leaves the reader feeling this is terrifyingly real! An outstanding rollercoaster of a read… Completely gripping. Intensely disturbing. Terrifyingly real!‘ Liz Lawler, author of Don’t Wake Up
Poster Boy hits hard at page one, and keeps on hitting until the end. Read this too-close-to-home book, but keep it far from anyone who might be tempted to turn its fiction into reality’ Christina Dalcher, Author of VOX
‘In Poster Boy, Crosskey creates a disturbingly plausible dystopian Britain. It’s a timely, page-turner of a novel – fierce and perceptive’ Joanne Burn, author of Petals and Stones
Poster Boy Extract
Part 1
Rosa
When I was a child, I used to count my footsteps. Whenever the journey seemed overwhelming, or the surroundings intimidating, I would keep the drumbeat of numbers pounding in my head.
The walk home from school was broken down into small numerical accomplishments. One, two, three. I watched my shiny black shoes patter on the cracked paving stones, ignoring the uniformed hordes around me. Four, five, six. I listened to the predictable, ordered pattern in my head, not the chaos of laughter and gossip. Ten steps and I passed the boys spitting and swearing on the corner, shouting the numbers in my mind, drowning them out. Twenty and I reached the post box.
It’s funny how these childhood mantras come to mind right before you die.
Now I need to make these adult feet move. Just a few more steps. I need to take this one last journey through the heaving crowd. I inhale deeply and try to focus. Human life simmers beneath the August sun; its aromas teased out. The scent of fresh sweat in the air is almost sweet.
I fix my gaze on the wooden stage ahead. About fifty steps, surely? No more than from the battered wheelie bin at the end of my road to number thirty-seven’s broken gate. Maybe less? My stride was shorter then. If I count loudly in my mind, I can block out the crowd. If I watch my brown boots on the gravel path, I can ignore their faces.
I don’t want to see their faces.
The policeman on my right touches my shoulder. “Miss Lincoln? Are you okay to do this?”
I nod. But I realise I’m trembling.
“You’ll be fine,” he says. “You’ll do him proud.”
I chance a glimpse of his face. His greying brows are furrowed with concern. He’s about forty, maybe more. Strong jaw, bright eyes. He looks like one of those self-assured types. I wonder if he holds anyone’s hand. If there’s a little girl who will have to count her footsteps when her guardian is gone. My eyes dart away, back to the ground. I shouldn’t have looked. Shouldn’t have put a face, a life, to the man beside me. Because now I worry what they’ll think of him. I feel sorry for his family, for what they’ll have to deal with. He’ll be vilified. Shredded. He had his hand upon me, saw my own hands shaking. Christ, he can probably hear my heart racing; it’s loud enough. But he didn’t realise.
Incompetent, they’ll say. Maybe he volunteers at the local shelter on his days off. Maybe he’s saved hundreds of lives in his career. It won’t matter. All he’ll be remembered for is today’s fuck-up. Perhaps, he’ll even come out of this with a posthumous reputation worse than mine. I’m unstable, after all. Understandable, they’ll say, after all I’ve been through. With the twenty-twenty clarity of hindsight, they’ll all be aghast at the catalogue of oversights that led to this. To me being escorted to my final destination by the very authorities that ought to have stopped me.
All these people, gathered to pay their respects, were frisked before they entered Hyde Park. Waiting in line like cattle for the pleasure of the indignity, then herded into their positions. The officers stride among them with suspicious eyes, evaluating, profiling. But me, I’m being taken care of, protected from the rabble.
They should have considered this a possibility, troubled as I must be.
He probably thinks I’m scared I’ll be attacked again. There’s no reason to suspect anything untoward. Who wouldn’t be a little flustered, just at the prospect of standing up in front of all these people, let alone everything else? It’d be more suspicious if I were calm and confident. Having strange, male hands on my body is the very last thing that ought to happen to a young woman who has endured what I have. If it were necessary, surely it would be done by the female officer who escorted me here. He’s not incompetent, just mistaken.
He’ll be crucified just the same. But it comforts me to think he might not be alive to know about it.
It takes forty-five to reach the wooden steps. I leave tomorrow’s pariah at the bottom and climb. One, two, three, four. I reach the top step. My seat, beside the Archbishop, is the next target. One boot on the shiny platform; two. I don’t look right at the crowd, or left towards the other speakers already seated. I keep my eyes on the gaping expanse of blue chair waiting for me to fill it.
One. In my periphery, I can see the white robes of my soon-to-be chair-neighbour. Two. The microphone stand comes into view. Three. A small beetle spins in frantic circles on its back under the empty chair. Four. I reach it, turn with my eyes still on my boots, and sit.
The Archbishop says something to me. I don’t quite catch it. Something to do with being sorry for my loss, or my ordeal. It’s safe to assume, anyway. So I lift my cheeks. That’s as close to smiling as I can manage, relying on my cheek muscles to lift the edges of my lips a little. I mutter a thank-you. But now I’ve got a problem. There are no more steps. Without the drum beat of numbers in my head I hear the crowd. They’re clapping. For me.
“We love you, Rosa!” a woman cries. “Be strong.”
They clap louder. They chatter among themselves. I look up at the front row. Expectant faces full of doe-eyed sympathy. Frowning faces, trying to plaster concern over curiosity. Here I am, Ladies and Gentlemen, in the flesh. Their eyes move over my body. They’re thinking about what they’ve read in the newspapers. What Gridless did to me. They’re wondering if I’m wearing long sleeves on a hot day because I’ve still got rope burns round my wrists. I wonder what they’d think if they knew it was really because of the track marks. And the bomb, of course.
Against my better judgement, I lift my gaze further, scanning the whole crowd. My brother’s face stares back at me from a dozen different angles. His picture held aloft on home-made placards. Enlarged, embossed, underscored by handwritten messages.
R.I.P. brave soldier.
Thank You, Jimmy.
London’s Angel.
The same photo on every one. That photo. The one they chose from the hundreds available. The one that captures the essence of who they wanted him to be but nothing of the truth. Or rather, nothing that was truth. Now I know even truth can be changed. Manipulated. It happens all the time. Our perceptions are changed for us so rapidly, it’s a wonder we’re not constantly dizzy and disorientated. Perhaps we are.
Some of the crowd begin to clap and cheer, others fall silent. A glance to my left tells me why. It’s not appropriate to boo and jeer at a memorial service, whatever your political leanings. Cole approaches the stage, in his customary black suit and wacky tie (the black suit says, ‘I mean business’, the irreverent tie says ‘I’m a man of the people’). Today, it’s less garish, out of feigned respect I assume. A muted sky blue with an embroidered cartoon dog on it: Dusty, Jimmy’s media-approved favourite.
The applause continues, Cole’s supporters unmasking themselves with clapped hands. I have a fleeting fantasy that all English Reclamation Party voters are asked to move to the front. I wish I could request it, but I know I can’t. Shame.
I find myself counting his footsteps as he approaches the microphone. I have an awful feeling he’ll try to catch my eye, shoot me a condescending look of pity. Or worse, mouth a pithy condolence. So I keep my eyes on his shoes and let the numbers sweep my mind away. He stops at twelve and my distraction is gone. I don’t want to hear a single word that comes out of his mouth, much less any that concern my twin.
So I think about footsteps. All the millions of footsteps we’ve taken that we can’t undo. The paths we’ve walked that we can’t retrace. I think about Cole’s steps. I think about mine. But mostly, I think about Jimmy’s.

Hellcorp – Jonathan Whitelaw



Blurb

Life is hard for The Devil and he desperately wants to take a holiday. Growing weary from playing the cosmic bad guy, he resolves to set up a company that will do his job for him so the sins of the world will tick over while he takes a vacation. God tells him he can have his vacation just as soon as he solves an ancient crime.

But nothing is ever easy and before long he is up to his pitchfork in solving murders, desperate to crack the case so he can finally take the holiday he so badly needs…

This is a perfectly-pitched darkly comic crime novel that is ideal for fans of Christopher Fowler and Ben Aaranovitch. 

Buy Link

https://amzn.to/2TcQU7w

Extract: 
 
The Devil’s office was a hellhole. As would be expected for the personification of evil, chaos and anarchy reigned supreme. Rather than the walls of flame, boiling hot lava and damnation torture, this hellhole was cluttered with paperwork and files.
Watching over the punishment and judicial system of the afterlife wasn’t an easy task. Documentation had to be examined, double then triple checked to make sure the whole system remained ticking over. Since the dawn of time, The Devil’s office was the go to point for any bureaucracy relating to Hell and the underworld. 
Understandably, The Devil needed help when it came to maintaining the status quo. Indeed, the Whatever You Want album was kept on standby at all times. He didn’t like the office staff getting too complacent.
That was why he employed the best organisers throughout history to keep the wheels of the machine turning. Although at times he questioned the term ‘best’ might have been a better description of his most loyal lieutenants. 
Much like the cartoons and comics that humans loved to pour over, The Devil was surrounded by incompetent henchmen. He often wondered where humanity had come up with the idea. In his more arrogant moments, he put it down to a dropped whisper 
in the ear of some artist. More often than not, he calculated it was an error in the overall system. A rogue line of code that He had left in somewhere. 
Regardless of its occurrence, The Devil had to deal with the outcomes every hour of every day. If he wasn’t chewing out an office newbie, preferably a secretary or clerk in the mortal world, he was downing gallons of liquid painkillers to deal with his headache. Life as The Devil wasn’t all it was cracked up to be. 
That was why he was going legitimate. No more sneaking around, skulking in the shadows, plotting until doomsday. There was too long of an eternity to wait for that to roll around. Instead, he was taking the bull by the horns, the papal bull, and getting upwardly mobile. He could do that, he could become pro-active.
He sat in his office, in the bottom tier of Hell, and took a moment. The flickering light above his desk was a pain but then again, everything was. That was the point. 
“Alice,” he said leaning forward and pressing the intercom.
“Yes,” came a crackly voice.
“Could you come in here, I’ve got a memo I’d like you to take down.”
“Right now?” was the response.
“Yes, please, if that’s not too much trouble?”
The intercom clicked and there was a pause. The door slid open and in walked Alice, all eighteen stone of her. When it came to women, The Devil was a connoisseur. Although he couldn’t take credit for their creation, he had spent thousands of years worshipping at their feet. And Alice, his personal secretary, was just one of many who fulfilled their jobs impeccably.
“Yes?” she said, a pen being tapped against a notepad.
“No good morning?” asked The Devil.
“Good morning,” she said sarcastically.
“Is it even morning?” The Devil looked at the clock on the wall. “Oh yes, so it is, pardon me Alice.”
She rolled her eyes impatiently. As far as secretaries went, Alice was top drawer. The problem was, she knew it. That meant she was in control. And if there had been a woman throughout history who shouldn’t know her place in the universe, it was her.
The Devil had no real excuse though. He couldn’t very well get rid of her. He was a glutton for punishment. Large rear ends too.
“That’s quite alright,” she smiled sycophantically, mouth small between two puffy, red cheeks. “What can I do for you?” “What indeed,” said The Devil quietly. 
He stared blankly ahead, wrestling with his thoughts. In the past few days, he had been wracked with doubt. Never before had he felt less confident about himself and his abilities. The opening of Hellcorp was proving to be a challenge beyond even his abilities. 
With every incident or problem, another crack opened in his Satanic armour. Although he rarely wore it anymore, he still didn’t want it broken. 
“Have we had any word from the architects about the building?” he asked.
“Yes,” said Alice, her smile gone. “They said that there wasn’t enough room for the six hundred and sixty-six rooms you asked for.”
“How many can they do?”
“Forty-two.”
The Devil’s jaw clamped shut. A pulsing headache raced across his forehead but he kept his cool. Losing his temper wasn’t going to get him or his machinations anywhere.
“Okay,” he breathed. “Fine, so be it. What about the upholsterers, the interior designers, are they on track?”
“All in order, they’re decorating the place as we speak.”
“Matt black?”
“As you ordered.”
“Lovely. I want it to look like the Trump Tower in New York, inside and out. You know the Trump Tower, don’t you Alice?”
“No, I can’t say I do,” said the secretary. “A little before my time I’m afraid.”
“Ah, a pity, you’ll have to go see it when we move. Quite the sight. Plumbing?”
Alice let out a long breath. Everything about her screamed inconvenience. It was like serving the lord of the underworld was nothing more than a distraction from her day. 
He didn’t doubt that she could run the whole place by herself. She knew where all the files were kept, the records, the keys to the front door. He wanted it that way, he almost liked not being in total control. It was the sadist in him.  
She took a quick look through her notepad. Drawing a finger down the lines of scribbled notes and dates, she found the one she was searching for. 
“Yes, plumbing is coming along, although the contractors seem to be fussy about payment,” she said.
“Payment?” The Devil blurted. “Who do they think they’re dealing with, some cowboy outfit?”
“On the contrary, I think we might have put the scares up them a little.”
“Hmm,” The Devil mused. “Maybe offering the contract in a mass, communal psycho-telepathic dream was a little too much.” “You think?” said Alice.
“I could have just phoned them I suppose.”
“Yes, you could have. I did suggest it, in case you’d forgotten. They’re in the Yellow Pages. And have quite a nifty little website too.”
“Yes, yes, I know,” he flapped. “Are there any fresh problems with the construction? It’s beginning to get right on my tits all of this.”
The secretary looked through her notes again. She shook her head, her huge body taking up the majority of the office’s front section. The Devil liked Alice for numerous reasons, but her figure was the most appealing. 
He liked big girls, with big bottoms. The bigger the bottom the better. He had thought about getting that tattooed across his own bottom but had gone off the idea. Especially when he saw how much pain his invention inflicted. 
“Just one,” she said.
“Go on,” he said, with trepidation.
“The council,” said Alice.
“What about them?” asked The Devil.
“It seems they have a problem with the emissions coming from the site. One councillor has teamed up with a local conservation group and had some tests completed. Apparently, according to their figures, we’re causing, and I quote here, ‘more than the acceptable or regulated amount of carbon dioxide allowed for a construction site of this size’.”
The office fell silent. If The Devil had a pet peeve, it was dogooders. He had been plagued his entire career by them. From the Good Samaritan to the dreaded Boy Scouts, they all drove him to distraction. Even Pilate had put up a mild fight, despite the outcome going The Devil’s way. 
It was their endless optimism that bugged him the most. Everything had a good side, every cloud a silver lining. Despite most creatures in all of existence happy to plough on through life’s labours silently, this collection of societal misfits took it upon themselves to plague everybody’s day with their tireless efforts. 
And there was no talking to them either, that really got him angry. No matter how hard he tried, there was simply no getting through to them. He often wondered if they were rogue programs too. Even He couldn’t have come up with somebody that obnoxious. 
Environmentalists were at the very top of The Devil’s hate list. He wanted to shove a car exhaust down every single one of their throats. Only a hectic schedule stopped him from carrying out his fantasy.
“Give me strength,” he said at length. 
“Quite,” Alice smirked. “What do you want me to tell them then?”
“Tell them I’ll be happy to meet with them and give them a tour of the building. And of course,” he gave a little courtesy. “I’ll be happy to answer any questions, concerns and tiniest of tiny problems that they have in Hellcorp’s headquarters, with a smile on my face and a tune on my lips.”
Alice underlined the last part of her sentence. She clicked her pen efficiently and filed it away in her top pocket, the bottom poking out beside her erect nipple.
“Is that it?” she asked with another sigh.
“Oh Alice,” The Devil gargled. “If you only knew my dear, what else I would have you do for me. If you only knew.”
“Believe you and me, I do know,” she moved a little closer to him. “And don’t think you’ll be getting it any time soon!”
She ran a finger along the edge of his lapel. The Devil very rarely got shivers but Alice sent an army of ripples through his human form. He knew he had chosen wisely with her, another little victory for his judgement.
“I think you had better get back to work Alice,” he said through gritted teeth. “We can’t be slacking off in the office, can we?”
She bit her bottom lip and took her hand away. Turning back towards the door, she waddled, her large behind shaking in time with her every step. The Devil couldn’t keep his eyes off of her. He was entranced, enchanted, completely consumed by lust. 
“You know where to find me,” she said, glancing over her shoulder, dark hair rippling down her back. She slipped out the door and closed it with a click, leaving The Devil on his own.
“Mercy,” he said, slamming his hand down on the desk. 
He stared up at the ceiling and the flickering light. Shaking his head, he grinned.
“Mercy, mercy, mercy. See what you do to me!” he said loudly. 
“And they call me the Devil. You ought to be ashamed of yourself.”
He took a deep breath and wiped his brow. The morning’s activities were running away from him already, he had to regain his focus. A distracted mind was a useless one, at least when it came to his own. Distraction had been one of his earliest creations. And like everything else, its simplicity was key to its success.
The answering machine on his desk was blinking. Slowly taking his seat, The Devil reached out for the small device. His technology was cutting edge, but then, so was everything in his office. He had been happy with his researchers in that department. 
For every broken internet connection, every disturbed teen looking up adult videos online, he got a warm glow. Hacked accounts and explicit text messages were among his favourites, especially when they arrived in unknowing inboxes. Broken touch screens, leaked secrets, even something as simple as a battery running out of power, it all made him feverishly happy.
Now he was about to share all of his tricks of the trade with the Humans. Hellcorp would open a few eyes, he was certain of that. Humans might have invented technology but The Devil made it an art form. 
 
“Let’s see,” he said. “I wonder how many messages there are,” he was talking a loud, deliberately. 
He glanced at the red display and rolled his eyes. Three sixes blinked back at him.
“Honestly mate, you really should try something more original.” He pressed the play button and sat back. 
  HELLCORP
 
The roar of jet engines sounded out over the assembled crowd who stood cheering and screaming. Huge banners fluttered in the wind as hundreds stood on the soft yellow grass of Arthur’s Seat. The huge hill that overlooked Edinburgh had been turned into a congregating place, the atmosphere of a music festival hovering over the assembled mass. 
The day was warm and balmy. As the jets streaked through the clear blue sky, children laughed and clapped, their parents hoisting them up as high as they could to see the aeroplanes. 
Younger members of the seething pit of humanity were much braver. Drinks in hands, fashionable wellington boots on their feet, they smiled and waved and danced to the music. Huge towers of speakers had been erected near the huge, glistening building that was about to be opened.
The mood was positive, the vibe strong. Those who had answered the mass invitation were glad to be there. Never before had a thousand people ascended the summit of the hill and they were all glad to be a part of history. And they were there to be entertained at the expense of their mysterious host. 
Standing like a great, medieval castle of shimmering glass and concrete, Hellcorp’s international headquarters was looking majestic. Built from the most expensive, hi-tech materials known
to mankind, The Devil had spared no expense in its creation. He couldn’t afford to, there was his reputation to think of in the first instance and the overheads to worry about later.
The festival atmosphere seemed infectious. All up and down the hillside, a relaxed, friendly mood was creeping through those who had ventured out. Drawn in by the promise of mystery, intrigue and free t-shirts, none of them ever really stood a chance. 
It had all been a deliberate move by The Devil. He knew what Scots were like. The smell of fatty food and a nice day, they’d jump through a ring of fire if they thought they were getting something for free. Add to that the opening being in Edinburgh and the launch of Hellcorp was almost too good to be true.
Unfortunately, he was unable to attend. There was nothing he would have enjoyed better than to be walking amongst the festival goers. Being in Scotland too, there were bound to be plenty of round figured women for him to enjoy.
But some traditions just couldn’t be undone, even by him. Setting foot on mortal ground, unblessed and unholy was one of them. His jaunt to the Vatican had been a strangely liberating experience. Breathing the humans’ air had reminded him just how putrid the atmosphere was in Hell.
While the party raged on into the afternoon, The Devil watched on his fleet of monitors and television screens. A special observation lounge had been created in his headquarters for just the purpose. Tuned to every media outlet around the world, he had unequalled access to everything that was going on at Arthur’s Seat. Including, most importantly, the opening ceremony.
“Alice,” he shouted, pacing back and forth around the room.
“What is it?” his helpful and attractive secretary popped her head around the door.
“Is everything still on course?”
 
“Of course it is,” she said sharply. “What do you take me for? An idiot? The speakers are about to go on stage now. The doors will be officially opened for registration at exactly three thirty-three.”
“Lovely.”
“Is that it?”
“Yes, thank you Alice,” he waved her away.
She vanished behind the door and he turned back to the wall of screens. The building was looking fantastic, even he had to admit so. Then again, he hardly expected anything less from the types of architects he had employed. Some of the greatest constructional minds had been put to good use in its design. If he was going to legitimise Hell, he was going to do it right.
“Any minute now,” he mumbled to himself.
The Devil wasn’t used to feeling nervous. It was a concept he had never bought into. As he stood waiting for the ceremony to begin, he reckoned that this was the closest he had ever come to the blatantly human emotion. 
A fanfare sounded from somewhere and his eyes were drawn to one corner of the wall of screens. A small army of trumpeters, dressed up like knaves from a medieval court, head to toe in black and red, emerged from the huge central doors of the Hellcorp building. As they marched in perfectly timing, the crowd’s anticipation grew and a huge cheer went up.
“Oh shit,” said The Devil, conjuring a cigarette from a piece of fingernail he had bitten off with his teeth. “Here we go then.”
The procession formed two symmetrical lines, all the while blasting out a specially written piece of music for the occasion. Handel and Bach had been up all night writing it, The Devil wanted it to be perfect.
A huge stage had been erected at the front of the shimmering building; great banners and drapes hanging from buttresses and pillars. In its centre was a dais, with the company’s stylised letter H on its front. The knaves marched in procession and split in the centre, filing along the front edges of the stage until they were facing out at the baying crowd.
“Now the dry ice,” said The Devil.
As if some stage producer could hear him, which they could, a rolling mist began to cover the stage. Multicoloured lights beamed from the rafters of the huge structure, dancing off the well-polished glass at every angle. The trumpets continued their melody, boosted by walls of amps hidden in the side sections of the stage and manned by a team of loyal roadies. Sweaty middleaged men who had worked with the best had been drafted in for the occasion. Led Zeppelin, Queen, Kiss, these old rockers had form.
With the dry ice now flowing through the feet of the knaves and onto the front row of the crowd, the atmosphere and tension was building. The Devil could feel it, he could almost taste the nervous excitement that the humans were feeling. It fuelled him, made him excited, his skin trembling.
“This is good,” he mused to himself. “This could be very, very good.”
The trumpeters came to an end and the gathered crowd let out a huge roar of approval. The Devil spied a beach ball being bounced around their smiling faces and waving hands. He took it as a seal of approval.
But before he could enjoy the moment, his attention was drawn back to the central dais. Now was the moment of truth, the money shot, the part where everything could take off or crumble to dust in front of him. It was time for the world to be introduced to Hellcorp.
The Devil straightened himself and took a deep breath. He fixed his tie and rolled up his sleeves, flexing his fingers and rolling his head. Every screen narrowed in and focussed on the dais as a tall, slender man with silver hair and frameless spectacles took up a position. He adjusted the mic, flicked through a stack of papers and looked out onto the crowd.
“Good afternoon ladies and gentlemen,” he said, or technically The Devil made him say. 
Speaking in his private observation chamber in Hell, The Devil’s words were projected through the man at the dais. A simple enough trick for the Lord of Evil, it was a handy way of getting around the old rules and regulations.
“My name is Creighton Tull, the CEO of Hellcorp.”
Another huge applause went up from the crowd. The Devil smiled to himself. Give the Scots sunlight, booze and a bit of music and they were anybody’s. 
“Thank you all for coming out today, and I must say, it’s a wonderful day to be here in Edinburgh,” another cheer. “I cannot describe to you just how wonderful it is to see such a response from the open letter we issued. Having you all here in your thousands and the millions watching around the world at home, means a great deal to myself and the rest of the staff at Hellcorp. And I want to take this opportunity to thank you personally from both myself and the board of the corporation.”
Tull clasped his hands together and shook them at the crowd. The Devil was proud of his work with him. He had been little more than a corporate stooge, sent to Hell for drunkenly murdering a prostitute. Yet here he was, less than twenty-four human hours later, standing on the cusp of the biggest and best corporation in Earth’s history. The Devil made a special note to thank the boys in Hell Labs for their work. They had particularly outdone themselves this time with whatever they had pumped into Tull’s body. 
Regardless of the methods, it was working. Tull had mastered the crowd with his easy smile, natural charm and easy on the eye middle-aged good looks. Tanned skin, white teeth and a muscular physique, he was the housewives favourite and schoolgirl’s guilty little secret. 
“I suppose you’re all wondering what it is we do here. Well, I’m here to tell you. And for starters, I’m going to say it, I’m here to be honest with you,” he turned a page of blank paper over on his podium. “We at Hellcorp are here to facilitate your dreams. We’re a place where you, the public, can come and learn from some of the most accomplished minds and figures in their fields that the world has to offer. From business to athletics, science to philosophy, art and crafts, there’s nothing Hellcorp doesn’t facilitate to.”
Tull adjusted his spectacles as the crowd watched on in noisy concentration. The huge screens at the side of the stage projected his face to those unlucky enough to be at the back of the throng, his voice blasting out through the speakers.
“Our door is always open, our tutors always ready to listen to those who wish to learn. When you pass through the doors of Hellcorp, you’re entering a world that was previously thought impossible. This is a new dawn for humanity, one that we can all embark on together. Hand in hand, mind with mind, the future is ours to make what we will. And with Hellcorp, the only limitations are the ones that you set yourself.”
The Devil took a moment to think. His speech writing was immaculate; he had been doing it for a very long time. Honed to perfection, he could talk one person into doing what he wanted and a million into following him. What was more, after millennia, he still enjoyed the showmanship of giving a good speech. Albeit, across the ethereal plain and through the mouth of a puppet.  
“My friends, Hellcorp is the new kid on the block and we know that we have to convince you to use our services. After all, there are many, many fine organisations and outlets for you out there. But, as I mark the official opening of this, our spectacular global headquarters here in Edinburgh, I want to personally assure each and every one of you that this company will not stop until every single customer has achieved what they wanted from our programmes. That’s my guarantee to you and the guarantee of Hellcorp.”
The crowd cheered again but it was starting to wane. The Devil knew that time was short. Keeping humanity’s attention for longer than five minutes was a challenge even he didn’t dare try and break. He needed to wrap things up, keep up the mood, play to their spirit of selfish endeavour and hedonism.
“I can see that you’re all in the middle of a fantastic party and I’m not so out of touch to know that you want an old duffer like me lingering around all the time,” there were a few laughs. “So I’ll close by saying thank you once again. Without your support and presence, Hellcorp wouldn’t be in existence. It is with you and you alone that we can service you and help deliver everything you want in this life. Thank you for your time and please, welcome to the stage, a group a young men I know are going to go far. Ladies and gentlemen, Hyway!”
Tull stepped to one side as a motley crew of long haired rockers came shambling onto the stage. They picked up their guitars and one of them dashed to the front of the stage, grabbing the mic from the dais before a roadie pulled it away.
“Hello Edinburgh how you doin?” he screamed at the top of his voice. “You guys look great. We’ve got some songs for you, you ready!”
The crowd’s roar was deafening. The only sound that was louder was the three chord riffs that now pummelled out of the speakers. 
 
The young heavy metal band, plucked out of obscurity by The Devil, kicked off what would be a twelve hour sweat-fest to mark the opening of the company. And the crowd were lapping up every second.
Down in Hell, The Devil was pleased. He examined every screen in turn, watching the faces of the humans in attendance. He could hear the telephones ringing already outside the room as the legion of spies and statisticians all gathered up information from around the world. Viewing figures were important but more urgently, the subscriptions to Hellcorp’s classes. 
Phone operators sat on tender hooks at ten thousand receiving stations across the globe. All armed and ready to sign up the faithful and enrol them on courses that would cost both money and souls.  The website had been designed to cope with high amounts of traffic, the highest ever recorded, should it need to. It was a well-oiled, well-practised machine. The Devil was providing a service and he wanted it to be top flight from start to finish. 
“Alice,” he shouted. 
His faithful if slightly unappreciative secretary appeared in the doorway, taking up the doorway, looking a little dishevelled. She had a phone in her hand, another one ringing in a holster on her substantial waist.
“What is it?” she said, a little out of breath. “I’m up to my neck in it here!”
“Better boil some coffee darling,” he said. “We’re in for a long one.” 
Jonathan Whitelaw
About the Author
Jonathan Whitelaw is an author, journalist and broadcaster. After working on the frontline of Scottish politics, he moved into journalism. Subjects he has covered have varied from breaking news, the arts, culture and sport to fashion, music and even radioactive waste – with everything in between. He’s also a regular reviewer and talking head on shows for the BBC and STV. ‘HellCorp’ is his second novel following his debut, ‘Morbid Relations’.
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Miranda – Stewart Giles


Having read all the Stewart Giles books, I can safely say this is completely different.  A standalone thriller which keeps you guessing all the way through. I read this in next to no time, flows well, plot keeps you going! I cannot recommend this enough! Fantastic Read! 

See blurb below and get to Amazon to buy…

Miranda: A stand-alone psychological thriller by Stewart Giles
‘My name is Miranda. I’ll be twenty-eight-years old soon, and I’m a serial murderer.’
‘I might just kill again!’

From #1 bestseller Stewart Giles comes a completely stand-alone psychological thriller that you don’t want to miss.
Miranda is a unique read, the best book yet by Stewart Giles.  Sentenced to life in a secure hospital for the murder of 12 people Miranda tells her story.
In the meantime, the reader is transported back to the time of the murders as we follow DI Keene and her team along the many twists, turns and dead ends as they try to find the murderer of several unrelated victims.
This is an edge-of-your-seat, adrenaline pumping read that will have you turning the pages all the way to the totally unexpected ending.
Buckle up this is a bumpy ride
The location
Dunford is a fictional town in South West England. 
Crowfield is a high security hospital wing attached side of Bowton prison in Otherly, North Yorkshire (also fictional).
What readers are saying about Miranda:
‘Love this book, so different from normal crime books and had me hooked from the very first page.’  – Black Books Blog
‘Wow, Stewart Giles has really pulled it out of the bag this time. This is an awesome read from an author who has really stepped outside the box’ –Books ‘n’ All
‘I was fortunate enough to be able to read this book a week or so. It is AMAZING. Very different, absolutely riveting. A must read for fans of crime fiction with a difference’ – Sandra Brown
ALSO BY STEWART GILES
DS JASON SMITH SERIES
Book 0.5    –       Phobia
Book 1       –       Smith
Book 2       –       Boomerang
Book 3       –       Ladybird
Book 4       –       Occam’s Razor
Book 5       –       Harlequin
Book 6       –       Selene
Book 7       –       Horsemen
Book 8       –       Unworthy
 
DC HARRIET TAYLOR SERIES
Book 1       –       The Beekeeper
Book 2       –       The Perfect Murder
Book 3       –       The Backpacker
DS JASON SMITH & DC HARRIET TAYLOR SERIES
Book 1       –       The Enigma
StStewart Giles – Author Bio
After reading English at 3 Universities and graduating from none of them, I set off travelling around the world with my wife, Ann, finally settling in South Africa, where we still live. After Ann dropped a rather large speaker on my head I came up with the idea for a detective series. DS Jason Smith was born. Smith, the first in the series was finished a few months later. 3 years and 8 DS Smith books later, Joffe Books wondered if I would be interested in working with them. As a self-published author, I agreed. However, we decided on a new series – the DC Harriet Taylor Cornwall series. The Beekeeper hit the shelves and hit the number one spot in Australia. The second in the series, The Perfect Murder did just as well. The third in the series, The Backpacker I have self-published and there are plenty more to come. Unworthy, the ninth Smith instalment was followed by a totally new start to a series – a collaboration between the Smith and Harriet thrillers. Entitled The Enigma, it brings together the broody, enigmatic Jason Smith and the more level-headed Harriet Taylor. Miranda is something totally different. A stand-alone psychological thriller, it is a real departure from anything else I’ve written before. A new Smith/Harriet book is in the pipeline as is the 10thSmith instalment.

The Plastic Seed – Maisie Porter

The PlastIc Seed

Two schemes uncoil—and, very quickly, begin to unravel—on the same day in the Australian town of West Glassport…

Jean Hima isn’t happy with the way her life has been going. First, her husband leaves her. Then, she loses her job as a midwife at the local hospital, over the easily-fixed misplacement of a baby or two…

Now, Jean is sure a snooty real estate agent is blocking her efforts to find a rental in a nice part of town.

Given possession of a batch of incriminating photographs, who wouldn’t begin thinking about a little life-restorative blackmail?

Written in three acts and covering a quarter of a century, The Plastic Seed is an environmental thriller that explores the hypocrisy of some aspects of the philosophy of wellness. This novella is part satire of the human potential movement, and sincere testimony to the ability of humans to face facts when given no choice.

Purchase Links
mybook.to/theplasticseed

Author Bio –  Maisie Porter works as a professional photographer in Australia, with wide experience covering weddings, though she has neither abducted nor been abducted by any competitors. No Reception is Maisie’s first novel.

Social Media Links –
https://twitter.com/eyeointment

Runaway – Claire Macleary

It was the cover than first caught my attention, and the plotine and prose didn’t fail! I thoroughly enjoyed reading this and although it is part of a succession of books they can all be read individually. 
Blurb
The third book in the awards-listed Harcus & Laird series
When Aberdeen housewife Debbie Milne abruptly vanishes without trace, leaving behind her two young children, husband Scott is too distraught to sit out the police’s 72-hour window and await developments. He turns to local detective agency Harcus & Laird.
Put off by previous “domestic” cases, Maggie Laird isn’t keen, but is cajoled by partner Wilma Harcus into a covert operation. Together they comb through meagre scraps of information, eventually trawling the city’s women’s refuges and homeless squats, in spite of the deadly danger.
Then a woman’s body is discovered in a Dundee builder’s skip. With the clock ticking and the police struggling to make identification, the race is on. Claire MacLeary fashions a surprising, gritty, fast-paced tale with the warmth and wisdom of ‘women of a certain age’.
Buy Link

My Sister Is Missing – Julia Barrett

MY SISTER IS MISSING, Julia Barrett
I’m not the wife you think I am
Jess’s sister Stephanie loves being a new mum, and is besotted with her baby daughter Natalie. She’s tired and a bit anxious, but that’s natural, isn’t it?
However, one night Stephanie disappears, taking Natalie with her. Jess tries to convince herself that there’s a perfectly reasonable explanation but as time goes on and CCTV images appear of a young woman with a baby, jumping in front of a high-speed train, Jess fears the worst. But was it Stephanie? And if not, where has she gone? And what does husband Adam have to hide?
In turmoil Jess goes in search of answers, but she isn’t prepared for what she uncovers… or for what happens next.
My Sister is Missing is an intense, twisted, psychological thriller that will make you question what is real, and whether you really can trust those you love.
In my opinion this want the most going thriller I have read, but a very good weekend read! Despite not being gripped by the plotline I did find myself wanting to know what happened and where she was. 
I doubt the writing style easy to follow and it held my interest enough. I would definitely recommend and look to reading now from this debt author.

No Looking Back

Thoroughly enjoyed this one, I was taken in from the beginning and it didn’t let you at any point. It actually felt like a chase! I was torn between not wanting to get to the end and wanting to find out what happened! Definitely worth a read!
Book Description:
He’ll find you… unless you find him first.
Kat Denton is a woman running away from her past. For the past sixteen years, her life has been a living hell as Jimmy, the man she fell in love with as a teenager, becomes ever more cruel and abusive. Following the fire that killed her parents, leaving her an orphan when she was just a teenager, Kat is utterly alone and can’t see a way out.
Until the day she finds out that she’s pregnant. Vowing to protect her child from Jimmy’s violence, Kat decides to fight for survival – for her and her unborn baby. 
Fleeing the traveller camp that has been her lifelong home isn’t easy. But along with her sister in law, Kat escapes with just the clothes on her back and the one photograph she has of her parents. 
Kat, along with her baby girl Lucia, starts to build a better life. But when she looks into what really happened in her parents’ death Kat uncovers dark secrets – including a revelation that will lead Kat back to the place she had been so desperate to run away from. Is she strong enough to uncover the truthand save everything that she loves most, or will Jimmy Denton have his revenge?
Previously published as Chasing the Traveller
A fast-paced, totally unputdownable crime thriller that fans of Mel Sherratt, Mandasue Heller and Kimberley Chambers will absolutely love.  
Author Bio:
Alex Kane is a psychological thriller writer who lives in Glasgow. She is a huge fan of the genre, with her favourite authors in the genre being Lisa Hall, BA Paris and Sarah Stovell. If she is not writing, she can be found drinking tea or gin, taking cat selfies and obsessing over Tom Hardy.
Links:  
Instagram @alexkanewriter  

The Greenway – Jane Adams

The Greenway by Jane Adams
 
DISCOVER ONE OF THE MOST BREATHTAKING PSYCHOLOGICAL THRILLERS YOU WILL READ THIS YEAR
 
AUGUST 1975: Cassie Maltham’s life changes forever one scorching day. She and her twelve-year-old cousin Suzie take a shortcut through the Greenway, an ancient pathway steeped in Norfolk legend. Somewhere along this path Suzie simply vanishes . . .
 
TWENTY YEARS LATER: Cassie is still tormented by nightmares, parts of her memory completely erased. With her husband Fergus and friends Anna and Simon, she returns to Norfolk, determined to confront her fears and solve a mystery that won’t let her rest.

Then another young girl goes missing at the entrance to the Greenway, and Cassie is pushed once more into the darkest recesses of her mind.
 
John Tynan, the retired detective who’d been in charge of Suzie’s case, is still haunted by her disappearance. He offers his help to Detective Inspector Mike Croft who is leading the increasingly frantic search for the missing child.
 
Has evil returned? And what really happened all those years ago and who can be believed?
 
Perfect for fans of Nualla Ellwood, Kl Slater, Gillian Flynn, and Lucy Clarke.
 
ONE OF THE MOST HAUNTING PSYCHOLOGICAL THRILLERS YOU WILL READ THIS YEAR, FULL OF ASTONISHING TWISTS.

TIME’S TIDE – Adrian Harvey

The new novel from the bestselling author of Being Someone and The Cursing Stone. 
A father and son struggle to overcome the distance between them. Each is drawn irresistibly to an unforgiving landscape, one that has been the scene of tragedy and loss.
The son’s return to the northern shore he abandoned as a young man promises the chance to heal the rift. But is it too late?
Arni left his remote corner of Iceland as soon as he could, seeking opportunities beyond winter and fishing. Married to an English woman, he builds a life as a successful scientist but can never quite escape the pull of the West Fjords and bleak landscape of his birth, nor shake the guilt he feels towards his distant father.
When Eirikur goes missing, he sets off to find him on a windswept spit of land lost in an angry ocean.
Time’s Tide is a compelling and beautifully written story of loss, belonging and the silence between fathers and sons. 
Buy Link 
Twitter Handles 
@UrbaneBooks
@Ade_Harvey
#LoveBooksGroupTours

Guest post – Inspiration 
About a cow
Inspiration comes from many places. You’re never sure where, or when, or even whether, it’s going to appear, so the trick is to be ready, vigilant. But you can go looking for inspiration: personally, I’m fascinated by places and the stories that emerge from them, so simply being in new places, ready to listen, is sometimes enough.
About seven years ago, I was in the far north west of Iceland. I love Iceland and have been there several times, most often to walk in its sparse, stark landscape. I’d found my way to Isafjordur in the West Fjords because someone on another trip had mentioned a place called Hornstrandir. The walking was supposed to be spectacular, the landscape too. So I’d made it this far, intent upon a recognisance trip ahead of a possible longer trip.
I took a little boat early one morning out of Isafjordur, headed towards Hesteyri, the ghost of the largest settlement on Hornstrandir. Ghost because the whole population had voted to abandon the peninsula in the early 1950s. There is no permanent human habitation and visits are only allowed during the short two months of summer.
Since the abandonment, the landscape has been left to return to its natural condition: with the sheep gone, the orchids have recovered; with the shepherds gone the Arctic Foxes have become bold and playful. It is a truly special place (although the snow still sits on the beaches in July – the merest thought of a February there makes it easy to understand why the people left.)
All of this I knew from the guide book and the internet. But on the boat heading across the great bay, I got talking to the young Icelander who was our guide for the excursion. Her family had lived in Hesteyri, and her grandfather had left with the others in the fifties. He’d had a cow and, once across the bay, that cow wouldn’t milk, so he had taken the beast back across a couple of summers later and, sure enough the cow gave milk.
A couple of years later, that story of a homesick cow became the starting point for my latest novel, Time’s Tide. Between that short seaborne conversation and sitting down to start writing in north London, the story had become one of the relationships between a father and son, the guilt of leaving and the powerful pull of place. But its roots run back to a sunny day on the edge of the Arctic and the story of a cow.

Author Bio-
Since escaping the East Midlands to find his fortune in the big city, Adrian Harvey has combined a career in and around government with trying to see as much of the world as he can. He lives in North London, which he believes to be the finest corner of the world’s greatest city. His debut novel, Being Someone, was selected for WHS Fresh Talent, and he followed it with the acclaimed Cursing Stone in 2017.

The Family Secret – Terry Lynn Thomas


The Family Secret
Will she find the truth?
England, 1940
After a sudden unexplained disappearance, Thomas Charles comes back into Cat Carlisle’s life with the suggestion she leave London – and the threat of bombs – to move to back her childhood village in Cumberland.
Back in her hometown Cat discovers her childhood friend, Beth Hargreaves, is suspected of murder. As Cat tries to prove Beth’s innocence, she discovers a scheme of deception that affects the whole village. Can she uncover the family truths behind the murder and expose the enemy hiding in plain sight?
Get ready for another gripping read from USA Today bestselling author of THE SILENT WOMAN!
My Opinion
Fantastic read, thoroughly enjoyed this, would highly recommend this.

AUTHOR BIO –
Terry Lynn Thomas grew up in the San Francisco Bay Area, which explains her love of foggy beaches and Gothic mysteries. When her husband promised to buy Terry a horse and the time to write if she moved to Mississippi with him, she jumped at the chance. Although she had written several novels and screenplays prior to 2006, after she relocated to the South she set out to write in earnest and has never looked back.
Terry Lynn writes the Sarah Bennett Mysteries, set on the California coast during the 1940s, which feature a misunderstood medium in love with a spy. The Drowned Woman is a recipient of the IndieBRAG Medallion. She also writes the Cat Carlisle Mysteries, set in Britain during World War II. The first book in this series, The Silent Woman, came out in April 2018 and has since become a USA TODAY bestseller. When she’s not writing, you can find Terry Lynn riding her horse, walking in the woods with her dogs, or visiting old cemeteries in search of story ideas.

Social Media Links – https://twitter.com/TLThomasBooks

Clarissa’s Warning – Isobel Blackthorn

Blurb-
Clarissa’s Warning is a haunted-house gothic mystery set on Fuerteventura, Canary Islands.
A lottery jackpot changes Claire Bennett’s life.
She buys an ancient stone ruin on the island of her dreams. Her mystic aunt Clarissa warns her of danger, but Claire pays no heed.
Soon after moving to the idyllic island, Claire is confronted by a mystery. As the sinister story of her home slowly uncovers, Claire enters a world of inexplicable events and ordeals. Someone or something doesn’t want her there.
But is it really a curse, or is there something else behind the events?

Purchase Link – viewbook.at/ClarissaWarning

My Opinion –
Enjoyable read, slightly different for myself, but I did enjoy it. The plot kept me interested throughout, Andi found the prose easy to follow.

Author Bio – 
Isobel Blackthorn is a prolific novelist of brilliant, original fiction across a range of genres, including dark psychological thrillers, gripping mystery novels, captivating travel fiction, and hilarious dark satire. Isobel holds a PhD in Western Esotericism and carries a lifelong passion for the Canary Islands, Spain. A Londoner originally, Isobel currently lives near Melbourne, Australia, with her little white cat.
@IBlackthorn

The Cornish Lady – Nicola Pryce


The Cornish Lady 

Cornwall:1796
Educated, beautiful and the daughter of a prosperous merchant, Angelica Lilly has been invited to spend the summer in high society. Her father’s wealth is opening doors, and attracting marriage proposals, but Angelica still feels like an imposter among the aristocrats of Cornwall.
When her brother returns home, ill and under the influence of a dangerous man, Angelica’s loyalties are tested to the limit. Her one hope lies with coachman Henry Trevelyan, a softly spoken, educated man with kind eyes. But when Henry seemingly betrays Angelica, she has no one to turn to. Who is Henry, and what does he want? And can Angelica save her brother from a terrible plot that threatens to ruin her entire family?

My Opinion-
This was the first of the series that I have read, so I think it reads well as a standalone.  The plot was enjoyable, and I found it easy to read.

Purchase Links:
UK – https://www.amazon.co.uk/Cornish-Lady-Saga-ebook/dp/B07FY2G7RT 
US – https://www.amazon.com/Cornish-Lady-Saga-ebook/dp/B07FY2G7RT


Author Bio –
Nicola Pryce came to writing after a career in nursing. She has an Open University degree in Humanities and is a qualified adult literacy support volunteer. She is lives in the Blackdown Hills in Somerset and when she isn’t writing she’s probably gardening or scrubbing the decks. She and her husband love sailing and for the last twenty years they have sailed in and out of the romantic harbours of the south coast of Cornwall in search of adventure: it is there where she sets her books.

The Cornish Lady is her fourth book: The others are Pengelly’s Daughter, The Captain’s Girl, and The Cornish Dressmaker.

Nicola is a member of the Romantic Novelists’ Association and The Historical Writers Association.

Social Media Links –
http://nicolapryce.co.uk
https://twitter.com/NPryce_Author
https://uk.pinterest.com/nicolapryceauth/
https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/15249833.Nicola_Pryce
https://www.facebook.com/nicolaprycebooks/ 


Giveaway to Win a signed copy of The Cornish Lady, a box of Cornish Fudge and some bookmarks (Open Internationally)
*Terms and Conditions –Worldwide entries welcome.  Please enter using the Rafflecopter box below.  The winner will be selected at random via Rafflecopter from all valid entries and will be notified by Twitter and/or email. If no response is received within 7 days then Rachel’s Random Resources reserves the right to select an alternative winner. Open to all entrants aged 18 or over.  Any personal data given as part of the competition entry is used for this purpose only and will not be shared with third parties, with the exception of the winners’ information. This will passed to the giveaway organiser and used only for fulfilment of the prize, after which time Rachel’s Random Resources will delete the data.  I am not responsible for despatch or delivery of the prize.

http://www.rafflecopter.com/rafl/display/33c69494201/?

The Husbands by T.J. Brearton

The Husbands by T.J. Brearton

A BREATHTAKING CRIME THRILLER FULL OF SHOCKING TWISTS AND TURNS

He kills their wives. He destroys their families.
Then he comes after the husbands.
“Do you want to know who killed your wife?” he asks.

Kelly Roth, FBI profiler, returns home to Syracuse to stop a sadistic serial killer.

Three murders in three separate jurisdictions in central New York State have the same pattern: women killed by fatal headshots from a hunting rifle. Kelly Roth is sent from Virginia to help the local police.

Each victim was found murdered in a remote area or in a quiet park. The media call him “The Park Killer.” But Kelly doesn’t think the killer lurks in the bushes. She thinks he hunts his victims somewhere else.

But is he really contacting the bereaved husbands or is this a cover for their own guilt?

Kelly will risk her own life in a heart-stopping race against time to stop more murders and find out the truth.

HOW FAR WOULD YOU GO TO DISCOVER WHO KILLED YOUR WIFE? 

If you like Jeffery Deaver, Linwood Barclay, Lisa Unger, Kendra Elliot, or JD Robb you will enjoy this compelling new mystery novel.

The book is set in New York State, an area the author brings to life with compelling detail based on his local knowledge.

ALSO BY BEST-SELLING AUTHOR T.J. BREARTON
HABIT
SURVIVORS
DAYBREAK
BLACK SOUL

DEAD GONE
TRUTH OR DEAD

GONE
DARK WEB
DARK KILLS


T. J. Brearton Author Bio
Hi. Thanks for being here.
You know I write books, what else is relevant? Well, I started out wanting to write and direct films. After attending the New York Film Academy I worked in showbiz for a little while and wrote my own screenplays. Ridley Scott says writing novels and directing films are the “same thing.”* Okay, that’s out of context, but, yeah, part of my brain probably thinks it’s making movies when I write books.
I’ve had a lot of jobs. Construction, bartending, waiting tables — even weird things like cleaning tombstones and working for a non-profit. I’m fortunate to now write full time. (We’ll see how long it lasts…) And I’m lucky to have had my books hit the top 100 lists for Amazon Kindle in the US, UK, Australia, and Canada.  (Come on, other countries — step it up!)
Thanks again, and please keep reading because without you I’m just a guy sitting alone in his basement office listening to voices.
LINKS
Twitter: @BreartonTJ

The Killing State – Judith O’Reilly

Blurb
WHAT IF THE PERSON YOU’RE ORDERED TO KILL IS THE WOMAN YOU WANT TO PROTECT?
Michael North, assassin and spy-for-hire, is very good at killing bad guys. But what happens when his shadowy bosses at the dark heart of the post-Brexit British government, order him to kill an innocent woman and North can’t bring himself to do it?
The woman is a rising political star, Honor Jones, MP.  She has started asking dangerous questions about the powerful men running her country. The trouble is, Honour doesn’t know when to stop. And, now that he’s met her, neither does North…


Excerpt
He heard the messenger slide the black envelope under the door during the night, but he ignored it. An exercise in discipline.

Sun fought against charcoal clouds through the window of the Marylebone flat as a scowling Michael North emerged from the bedroom. His head pounded. He ran through in his mind the fight a week earlier: several sledgehammer punches to his temple and jaw before he closed the guy down. Not clever bearing in mind his situation.

And it was too bright in here. He pressed a button and the Venetian blind slid halfway down the glass. For a split second, he glimpsed a figure on the street gazing up at the building, but the falling wooden slats moved too quickly and, when he checked again, the figure had gone.

He popped the blister packet he pulled from his back pocket, chewing the two purple tablets en route to the kitchen, the taste bitter on his tongue. He didn’t know what was in them – the Harley Street medic prescribed them. “In the circumstances, Michael…” that is to say “bearing in mind you’ll be dead soon, you can have these experimental drugs”. He didn’t ask the medics questions but sometimes they told him anyway. Things like “Watch for an escalation in the insomnia and migraines or any obsessive behaviours – that may well mean the bullet has shifted”. And when the bullet in his brain shifted, he didn’t need anyone telling him – he was a dead man.

He was shot on patrol outside Lashkar Gah in southern Afghanistan five years ago.
The sniper made his own ammunition and the doctors told him he was “freakishly lucky” in the bullet’s trajectory and position – just short of the posterior parietal artery in the right temporo-parietal junction. North didn’t feel lucky. Neurosurgeons removed fragments of bone but couldn’t extract the bullet without further catastrophic damage. They were sorry. Instead they induced a three-month-long coma and let the inflammation of the brain subside. Would he like them to operate again? He’d said no but he often thought he should have said yes. Because what the doctors didn’t know was that he suspected the bullet was driving him mad.

On the upside, there was as yet no sign of the loss of cognitive and motor decline they warned him of. And he doubted he would live long enough for the epilepsy and dementia to kill him.

On the downside, the bullet affected his brain processing – new neural pathways establishing themselves, heightening his intuition when it came to other people, a sixth sense so to speak. At least that’s how he rationalised it when he left the hospital and did the research. Neuroplasticity it was called. The brain’s ability to heal and to compensate. He trawled through academic papers, medical journals and books he barely understood till it didn’t frighten him. Till he could make himself believe it was possible, probable even. Till he could comfort himself that he was as normal as the next person. Though the next person didn’t have a bullet in the brain.
Author
Judith O’Reilly is the author of Wife in the North, a top-three Sunday Times bestseller and BBC Radio 4 Book of the Week. Judith is a former political producer with BBC 2’s Newsnight and ITN’s Channel 4 News, and, when she isn’t writing novels, she writes for The Sunday Times.  Judith lives in Durham.


Buy Link

https://amzn.to/2US2ilA

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