My #Review of, Thirteen by @SSCav @orionbooks @orion_crime #Th1rt3en #CrimeFiction 5* GENIUS by @annebonnybook

*I received an arc via the publisher in return for an honest review*

Thirteen by Steve Cavanagh


‘To your knowledge, is there anything that would preclude you from serving on this jury?

Murder wasn’t the hard part. It was just the start of the game.

Joshua Kane has been preparing for this moment his whole life. He’s done it before.
But this is the big one.

This is the murder trial of the century.
And Kane has killed to get the best seat in the house.

But there’s someone on his tail.
Someone who suspects that the killer isn’t the man on trial.

Kane knows time is running out –
he just needs to get to the conviction without being discovered.

My review:

The synopsis of this novel instantaneously grabs the readers interest! It grips you straight from the prologue, and refuses to let go.
This novel does not disappoint, not one single page!

The synopsis details, a celebrity murder trial of the century mixed with the mystery of the killer being on the jury! But the novel is in fact, much more detailed, a plot full of twists and turns that slowly unravels throughout. I was so engrossed in the plot, I didn’t want to miss one single word of the story.

The prologue is outstanding! Easily one of the best I have EVER read! The writing style of the prologue was so breathing taking, it reminded me, of the ending of the cult move, The Usual Suspects. But instead of who is Keyser Soze? It is who is Joshua Kane?
Joshua Kane, where do you begin with such an incredible character as Joshua Kane? He is ruthless, psychopathic and methodical in his killing. The murders are planned right down to each meticulous action before, during and after the murder!
Joshua Kane in an enigma, a dark and disturbing killer, yet bizarrely you admire his commitment to his ‘work’.

The novel opens with Eddie Flynn, at Manhattan criminal court with a routine hearing. Ex-hooker Jean Marie, is his client and she is looking at hard time for her second drug offence within the same year. Eddie breezes through the case with ease and for those new to the series, this is a great indication of what makes Eddie Flynn such a great lawyer and character.

After the case Eddie is accosted by slick lawyer Rudy Carp. He wishes to requisition Eddie for a case due to start in just three days. A high-profile case, with an even more high-profile client, movie star Robert (Bobby) Soloman. Eddie is reluctant at first for various reasons, which are detailed with some amazing thoughts and quotes from Eddie.

“It’s not about the money. I don’t roll for the guilty” Eddie

But Rudy continues to profess Bobby’s innocence and asks Eddie to at least consider the case evidence.

“If Robert didn’t kill those people, who did?”

A combination of Eddie’s inquisitive mind and a random twist of fate. Have Eddie agreeing to view the notes, although offering no obligation to assist and second chair the case. Whilst Eddie arranges to view the hard drive of evidence at Rudy’s office. He comes face to face with suspected killer Bobby Soloman.

“Someone murders your family, lover or friend and you are the one standing trial while the murderer goes free. There’s nothing else like it on earth. And it’s the same look, all over the world. An innocent man falsely accused, looks the same in Nigeria, Ireland, Iceland, you name it. If you’ve seen that look before, you never forget it. It’s rare to see that look”

“Bobby Soloman wore that look. And I knew I had to help him”

Bobby’s past is explored, and we learn that he came from very humble beginnings. He stands accused of murdering his wife Ariella and chief of security Carl Tozer. Both victims found naked and dead on the marital bed! Bobby pleads his innocence and it is believable. As the reader, you urge Eddie to take the case!
But Eddie suspects that Bobby is holding back, a secret possibly? He refuses to help, until he has completed reading all the evidence available.

“Bobby Soloman was a scared kid with the prospect of a life in jail hanging over his head” Eddie

“But you can’t act your way out of a double murder” Rudy

Eddie eventually opens the case notes and evidence. It is not for the faint hearted, this is a brutal murder, unleashed by a fierce and savage individual. Ariella was stabbed multiple times and Carl was viciously beaten with a baseball bat. What grabs Eddie’s intrigue is the dollar note stuffed inside Carl’s mouth, after death. What does the note mean? Is this a clue to the killer’s reasoning, motivations? Eddie just can’t get this case out of his mind, despite how hard he tries to.

“A violent death tells its own story. It’s written on the victims. In their wounds. On the skin. Sometimes in their eyes. I’d never seen anything like this” Eddie

With one of the murder weapons still missing and so many unanswered questions. Eddie calls in some help, in the form of ex-FBI investigator Harper, to assist. The details of the scene are analysed, and it makes for intense and eye-opening reading. What motivates such a vicious slaying?

As the novel unfolds, there are chapters from Eddies perspective and alternate chapters from Joshua Kane’s scheming. One thing is for certain Kane’s plans have been months in the making. The psychology of a killer like Kane is intense. The writing makes the killer come alive on the page, a rare talent and exceptionally creepy in this case.

The novel also, has the individual juror memo’s throughout, so we begin to learn about each member on a personal scale. Eddie’s broken marriage is explored, and we learn of his motivations to find an easier job role, one with less risks to him and his family. Eddie is so much deeper than the usual lawyer protagonist. But it is when Harper finds a history of similar cases, closed cases, that the story explodes!!!!!!

This novel is sheer brilliance in its writing style and structure. The characterisation is massively on point and you root for all the characters. Alarmingly even Kane at points!
A superb legal thriller, with an unforgettable, edgy and haunting serial killer!
In my humble opinion, John Grisham and Michael Connelly, should be aware, Steve Cavanagh has arrived!
5* genius

Steve Cavanagh
Authors Links:

***The novel is released today! Happy publication day to the author!***

For signed copies check out No Alibis Bookstore They also have FREE P&P to the UK
The novel is also available on order from Waterstones & Easons. 

#BlogTour #GuestPost The Abandoned by @sharontwriter #NewRelease @Bloodhoundbook #HistoricalFiction #CrimeFiction

The Abandoned by Sharon Thompson
Peggy Bowden has not had an easy life. As a teenager her mother was committed to an asylum and then a local priest forced her into an abusive marriage. But when her husband dies in an accident Peggy sees an opportunity to start again and trains as a midwife.

In 1950s Dublin it is not easy for a woman to make a living and Peggy sees a chance to start a business and soon a lucrative maternity home is up and running. But when Peggy realizes that the lack of birth control is an issue for women, she uses their plight as a way to make more money. Very soon Peggy is on the wrong side of the law.

What makes a woman decide to walk down a dark path? Can Peggy ever get back on the straight and narrow? Or will she have to pay for her crimes?

Set against the backdrop of Ireland in the 1950’s The Abandoned tells the story of one woman’s fight for survival and her journey into the underbelly of a dangerous criminal world.

Guest Post:

I didn’t know where I was headed when I started to write. So, it’s hard to believe that I’ve written a novel which people will read. It’s a strange turn of events and a scary but wonderful experience.

It all started when I thought maybe I could put ‘a book’ together for a charity close to my heart. Danny McCarthy from Mentor Books pointed out that books are a risky business, but I was adamant that in my future there would be books. After stalking and meeting Benji Bennett from Adam’s Cloud Publishing, he inspired me to start a blog. I had no clue what a blog was at the time but I wrote for hours and found I needed to write.

Then years ago, while on holiday I got up and just had to write about a female killer. She took over my fingers and my hours in the shade. It was as simple as that. My aim was to create a long work of fiction with this character and I let myself write. It seemed so natural and I was content.

While lost in Twitter, I came across Carmel Harrington – a successful HarperCollins author – who mentioned her online writing group and, after a long time, I picked up the courage to join. Carmel Harrington and the Imagine, Write, Inspire group became my secret writing family and I wrote blog posts, short stories and flash fiction. My writing group fuelled my cravings. We set challenges for each other and they made favourable comments about my ramblings. These lovely women also asked for more and more of my rampant 1950s female, serial-killer – Devina.

I wrote quite a few novel length manuscripts. Some may never see the light of day, but once I started I found it hard to stop. I learned as much as I could from other writers as I went along and tried hard to practice all I was taught or read about.

While staring in awe at other published writers at Louise Phillip’s book launch, Carmel Harrington dragged me over to tell Vanessa Fox O’Loughlin about my writing. It took me weeks to send Vanessa the first chapters of my manuscript, but she liked it and has mentored me as I have continued to write. Events like this are life-changing and yet I didn’t realise it. I had no idea how much each step would mean. It has taken a good while to built up the confidence to call myself ‘a writer’. But I daringly gave myself @sharontwriter as my Twitter handle!

Over the years, my short stories got into various publications. Some fabulous literary magazines have kindly published my work. I am proud of these stories. has links to them.

While tapping away, I studied various courses and thought about starting a writing tweet-chat. The tweet-chat king, Dr Liam Farrell joined me in making one. Turns out he’s a writer too and we established #WritersWise. Writing experts guest-host for an hour using our hashtag and give us some of their expertise in tweets. I learned from the experiences of my writing heroes and loved communicating with them and bringing their advice to other aspiring writers. We trend regularly and have a good following. Check us out on #WritersWise on select Thursdays 9-10pm on twitter and at .

While reading as much as possible, creating websites for #WritersWise and doing re-writes, I still didn’t dare call myself a writer. But when I threw in my teaching principal’s job people asked, ‘So what are you up to now?’ and I felt like a total fraud as I whispered, ‘I write.’

I submitted to events like Date with an Agent and dared to dream I’d find a literary agent. Finally, after many trials and tribulations, I found my home with Tracy Brennan at Trace Literary Agency. I could shout about my progress on social media now. This was the turning point for me. It all started to feel real.

Waiting around is a big part of being a writer and people were starting to ask where they could read my ‘stuff’. Still tentative about sharing my writing, I somehow convinced the Donegal Woman website that they needed a flash-fiction/opinion slot. Now every Sunday, I can be found having fun on our successful Woman’s Words segment at

While some fictional characters come and go, others stay a while and Peggy set up camp on my keyboard. Peggy is a backstreet abortionist and brothel owner in 1950s Dublin and she demanded to be a character. I wondered how women in 1950s might have tried to keep their independence when society just wanted them to marry and give up their jobs. I agreed with Peggy that we should explore her story together.

I’m so thrilled that Peggy’s story has been published by Bloodhound Books a leading UK publisher for thrillers and crime fiction. I hope readers take to Peggy’s story. It is called The Abandoned’ and is out on 25th January 2018.

Sharon Thompson
Authors Links:

Author Profile:

Sharon Thompson lives in Donegal, Ireland. She is a member of Imagine, Write, Inspire. This is a writing group, under the mentorship of HarperCollins author Carmel Harrington. Sharon’s short stories have been published in various literary magazines and websites. #WritersWise is her collaboration with writer, Dr Liam Farrell. This is a trending, fortnightly, promotional tweet-chat with corresponding Facebook page and website ( Its mission is to encourage and support writers to reach as wide an audience as possible. Although she mostly writes crime fiction, Sharon does have a fun-side and she writes the quirky Woman’s Words column for the Donegal Woman wesbite. Sharon Thompson. Writing Fun is her writing page on Facebook and she tweets @sharontwriter.

***Check out the other fabulous blogs on the #BlogTour***


My #Review of, Need To Know by @karecleve Karen Cleveland 4* @TransworldBooks #NewRelease #CIA #SpyFiction by @annebonnybook

*I received an arc via the publisher in return for an honest review*

Need To Know by Karen Cleveland
Vivian Miller is a CIA analyst assigned to uncover Russian sleeper cells in the USA. After accessing the computer of a potential Russian spy, she stumbles on a secret dossier of deep-cover agents living in her own country.

Five photos of seemingly normal people living in plain sight.

She’s about to make the breakthrough of her career until she opens the third photograph and sees a face staring back at her that she never expected to see . . .

In an instant, everything that matters to Vivian is threatened – her job, her husband, even her four children.

Vivian has vowed to defend her country against all enemies, foreign and domestic. But now she’s facing impossible choices. Torn between loyalty and betrayal, allegiance and treason, love and suspicion, who can she trust?

My review:

I love a good spy novel! Especially one that involves mystery, intrigue and suspense.
This novel has it ALL!
There is a brief synopsis, on the proof edition and for this I am glad. I wanted to go in with little knowledge and explore the various characters as individuals.
So, from the synopsis, we are aware that Vivian Miller is a CIA counter intelligence analyst. Her role involves uncovering Russian sleeper cells on American soil. She finally gains access to an encrypted dossier of deep undercover agents. Only to be met with the face of her husband!!!!
Viv has been married to her husband for 10 years and they have four young children together.
Is her entire life, a lie?

*A synopsis like that, has a reader DYING to jump inside! I for one, was desperate to uncover the truth.

The novel opens with a stand-off between Viv and her husband Matthew. She has her hands on a flash drive and utters the words “You know I don’t have a choice”.

Two days earlier:
The novel details the family life of the Miller’s. Their four children Ella, Luke, Caleb and Chase.
Viv is at a peak moment of her career, two years of hard work, is about to come to fruition. Viv is about to uncover the secrets of the Russian sleeper cells. Her work colleague Omar, chases intelligence on the individual sleeps and it is Viv’s job to follow the links from sleepers, to handlers, to ring leader and finally to Moscow Russian intelligence.

A previous objective was trialled where sleepers were offered the chance to ‘come in from the cold’. They were offered amnesty by the US government in exchange for information they held. This objective brought them Dmitri (known as Dmitri the dangle), until his mysterious disappearance.
The objective failed, and this gave way, for Viv’s task of uncovering the files of Yury Yakov. The only Russian spy named by Dmitri the dangle.
The CIA team consists of Peter, senior analyst and Viv’s mentor for eight years. Also, Marta, Trey, Helen, Rafael and Bert. The Russians have targeted individual members of the team previously.
But nothing quite as deep layered and suspenseful as the plot of this novel…….

When Viv uncovers her own husbands photo on the flash drive. It leaves her with two options, turn him in or cover up his involvement.
But how do you turn in the man you love? The father of your children? Alternatively, how do you betray your own country?
Going against everything you have ever believed in?
Are there only two options open to Viv?
Can she strategize a way to get her family out of this?
And most importantly, is Matt a Russian spy? Is she really sleeping with the enemy?

This novel is packed with suspense. From the couple’s relationship to the greater implications of Russian interference with the American government intelligence gathering.
I was absolutely hooked!
I found Viv, to be very believable in her role as a hard-working mother, not afraid of the sacrifices necessary, to be at the top of her game in the CIA. I also loved the themes of secrecy and betrayal.

I noticed how much it had an impact on my internal thoughts. When I found myself glancing over the top of the proof, at my husband. Questioning myself, could I turn him in? what if he was a security risk to my country?
I have been with my husband 17 years and we have three children together. I have no idea, what I would do/think, if one day I learned our entire life was a lie!!

But I was eager to read Vivian’s story, without missing a single word on the page! I read this novel straight through, in one sitting.
The plot grips you and doesn’t let go! 4*

Karen Cleveland
Authors Links:

#BlogTour #Extract #TheFeed by @nickhdclark @headlinepg @WmMorrowBooks #NewRelease @annecater

The Feed by Nick Clark Windo
THE FEED by Nick Clark Windo is a startling and timely debut which presents a world as unique and vividly imagined as STATION ELEVEN and THE GIRL WITH ALL THE GIFTS.

Tom and Kate’s daughter turns six tomorrow, and they have to tell her about sleep.
If you sleep unwatched, you could be Taken. If you are Taken, then watching won’t save you.
Nothing saves you.

Your knowledge. Your memories. Your dreams.
If all you are is on the Feed, what will you become when the Feed goes down?

For Tom and Kate, in the six years since the world collapsed, every day has been a fight for survival. And when their daughter, Bea, goes missing, they will question whether they can even trust each other anymore.

The threat is closer than they realise…



What Would You Sacrifice?

Is this what you realise when you turn off the Feed? The restaurant’s other diners hustle around me, yet I am absolutely alone. I should be nestling in amid the raucous chatter of this busy place, but instead I’m embalmed in real silence, and it’s as that weird ringing thing happens
in my ears that it hits me: Tom is right. I really must remember this. Even though this unconnected stillness feels deeply unnatural, it is good to be slow – if I can just ignore the itch in my brain. I was spraying non-stop between classes earlier and I’m still buzzed from it now, even though I took Rafa for a big walk in the park after school. Marooning myself on a bench with my Feed off and my do-not-disturb on, I threw his ball and watched the children play. That was it. That was all I did. No chats, no news streams. I had homework to mark (Class 9K filleting The Tempest with trowels in a filtered-thinking test I’d set them) and I should have messaged JasonStark27 to release him from detention, but I didn’t. I didn’t even check my pool. I simply sat and winced at the repetitive torture of the rusty swings and

forced my thoughts to slow. And gradually the buzz subsided. My heart calmed and I felt the baby inside me relax: her agitations eased as my mind unknotted. Action: reaction – nice and clear. Tom would have been proud; I slip my Feed on now, here in the restaurant, just our PrivateStream, and nudge him to tell him he’s right. The connection makes my heart race, and without thinking I dip into the chatter of the restaurant’s hectic PublicStream, I plunge with ease into the— ‘No!’ Tom’s thick eyebrows go up and his eyes widen, whether in surprise or irritation I can’t tell, as his Feed stays off and his emotis are therefore unknown to me. I turn my Feed off again, like one of my troublesome pupils, and we sit in silence some more. He smiles at me but I don’t return it. I can’t, for a while, while I concentrate. I can do this, I can go slow. Why does Tom have to make
it look so damn easy, though? My eyes rove, hungry for information. The cutlery of the thirty-three other diners scrapes, the occasional, unintended real laugh rasps around the room. Someone coughs. No words, though, no talking in the real, and I hear birdsong over the superroad’s growl. I realise I haven’t heard a bird consciously for so long, and it’s a really lovely thing. But the problem with being off is – it’s – so – slow! ‘How long will this take?’ ‘Could take forever,’ Tom agrees, nodding his broad forehead patiently before swivelling towards the kitchens. ‘How long have we been waiting?’ ‘I’ll check.’ ‘Kate,’ Tom warns gently. ‘We are being slow tonight.’ And there it is: the psychotherapist’s tone. It implies far more authority than the length of Tom’s experience deserves; in fact, I think I first noticed it right when he

started practising last year, but I can’t check my mundles to see without going on. If it riles me, though, why wouldn’t it rile his clients? And that wouldn’t be good; he has to make this work. It’s taken him a while to find himself, and he loves the work. He’s really good at it. It’s his. So I disengage my eyes again and look around the real, past the diners and outside. It’s not yet dark, though the super-road brings an early murk to these older parts of the city. We moved in round the corner two years ago, just before we got married. A beautiful old house (new-builds lack soul – I like a home to have a past) and way more expensive than we could dream of affording, but Tom’s parents helped us out. I’m still mixed about that. So’s Tom. But we’re on the hilltop up here. The super-road arches close above us and the city is an urban growth, laid out below. So many people down there before me, the millions of lights sparking like so many vibrant lives, and I could be chatting with any of them, my thoughts prismed out from the lit-up tower over towards the river, the main Hub of the Feed. Tom’s father’s place. Watching over us all: the eye of a needle through which everyone threads. Just seeing it, I’m tempted to dive into my pool; I’m itching to check the new poll I set. Two hundred million followers I have now! (If I accepted endorsements, and I wanted to, I’d be able to give up teaching – but no.) I’m tempted to do a GPS trawl to see how near I am to any of my followers, but I smother it back and try to ignore
the itching in my brain. I gulped in some pool the other day that it’s not actually the implant itself that itches. The Feed doesn’t create any physical sensation at all. It’s just an urge that, to make sense of it, we attribute to something physical, and so our brain tells us that it’s itching. I resprayed that fact. One hundred and thirty-seven million

people ‘liked’ it, though I doubt they actually did. I close my eyes and my memories of the Feed’s phantom images score the darkness like neon and starlight, an internal global cityscape where everyone lives close by. So beautiful. So inevitable. So comfortable. I can’t believe I’ve become hooked. Tom’s right about that, too, damn it and love him at once. Eyes back open and, off as I am, the billboards across the street display nothing but giant square quickcodes on their pristine expanses. The world is quiet. The social hubbub of the restaurant’s PublicStream is silenced. I have no idea what the menu is and we can’t get the waiter’s attention. It’s like we don’t exist. We’re here, cocooned in slow-moving silence as everyone around us communicates, eats and laughs, and it’s like— The waiter’s boots echo off the wooden floor as he leaves the kitchen, tattoos strangling his arms. He dumps plates before two young women whose lips twitch, swollen into semi-smiles, while their eyes roll and judder. He grinds pepper on the blonde girl’s food but not on her friend’s; the communication was silent but clear. Though the waiter stares up into a cobwebbed corner, I know that’s not what he’s seeing. This is a strange repose, to be asleep with eyes wide open! as Class 9K would effortlessly reference, fresh from their filtered-thinking test (they wouldn’t). Rather, he’s accessing an infinite multitude, streaming with his friends, internalising a soundtrack, messaging his girlfriend . . . or not, I guess, as the trio’s mouths twitch into synchronised smiles, because it looks like he’s flirting with them, and I’m left itching to go on even more than I had been before, a dry urge, the interface of the Feed teasing my brain like
a catch in the back of my throat. Tom strides over and grabs the waiter, who jerks at the

contact and gapes when he realises Tom is talking to
him – actually speaking words. He disengages his eyes as Tom forces him to really look at the world and see the
real. Tom drags him back to our table and the young waiter rocks nervously. He has a tiny quickcode tattooed above his eyebrow, shaped like an eagle, instantly scannable and ready to enhance my world, and I wonder: what would I see if I turned on my Feed? What skin does he have set? He’s pale, so maybe those girls just saw him with a tan. His teeth aren’t even, but maybe to them he has a perfect smile. Or maybe he’s set himself to look like someone famous. Turning off the Feed is like drawing back a veil.
It might not be as pretty, but it’s real, and Tom is right, I know he is, of course I do, it’s not just because he hates his father: it is a healthy thing to do. ‘No, no, no.’ Tom clicks his fingers and the startled waiter’s gaze jerks back to him. ‘We aren’t on,’ he articulates exaggeratedly, and mimes a mouth with his hands. ‘It’s just talk-ing.’ ‘You’re . . . off?’ the waiter asks, his voice croaky through disuse. His eyes glaze for a moment. Who did he just message? His manager, for help? Those girls? Probably not; they don’t turn to look. Has he sprayed a grab of us? Doubtful – Tom’s security settings are so high he’s virtually impossible to grab; his father has seen to that. ‘Do – you – have – a – menu?’ Tom asks, glancing at me. He’s having fun with this. ‘Not real.’ The waiter points at his temple like we’re the idiots. ‘Just Feed.’ Tom smiles up at him in a way I know means trouble, and it’s been a long day, so . . . ‘Pasta?’ I interrupt, and
the waiter nods. Real words feel strange in my mouth, but I speak quickly. ‘Bolognese for me, then, and carbonara

for him. And a side salad, please. Just green.’ Once the waiter flees, Tom’s expression makes me laugh despite my mood. This in turn makes him smile, which
is nice, his grin still soft, still young around his cheeks, beneath his drooping hair. It’s a touch longer than it was when we got married. I lean back and clasp my hands
over my baby-filling tummy. Mummy and Daddy happy
again, little girl, just like we used to be. Enjoying being off together. We can still do it, you know. We’re good together, it’s just the other things that get in the way. The distractions. This life. Tom leans towards me and marks each word on the tabletop: ‘Kate, it’s so fucked up!’ He means it, very genuinely, but as it’s our routine to come to public places and bemoan the state of the world, his angst is rounded and warm. I take his finger before he breaks it, though. ‘It is. We’re the only ones who’re sane.’ ‘Seriously, look at these people. No one’s living in the real world any more!’ Something turns fierce despite his speaking in a whisper. And of course, as we’re off, I have no idea what he’s thinking as his face folds into a scowl and something dies in his eyes. He pulls his hand away and there he goes, his thoughts most likely rolling down that rut to do with
his father, his family, the Feed, but I have no way of knowing for sure. Him isolating his thoughts like this is almost rude. What is he thinking about? His alternative life, maybe, the one he chose never to live, where he stayed involved with the Feed rather than running away. We discussed that one loads while he was training to be a psychotherapist. Chasing that career – the talking cure – when his father had set up the Feed. Well, you don’t have

to be Freud, do you? I remember Tom’s glee before he told him, and I remember his father’s reported silent rage. We talk, Tom and I. We talk a lot. It’s one of our strengths. When we find the time. Like tonight, when we’re going slow. But I wish he’d give himself some peace. He chews his lower lip and stares out of the window, his eyes darting around for all the world as if he was on and spraying away, but I check and he isn’t; his Feed is still off. As is mine. The blonde and the brunette work through their food silently, mechanically, lost in conversation with each other, or others, or many people at once. From the outside, who knows? Their eyes are moving even quicker than Tom’s but what they’re seeing is not the tables and old prints on the walls but the pulsing, strobing colours of their Feeds. My brain-itch, I’m suddenly aware, is now unbearable. It’s making my fingers flex and clench. My mouth is super-dry. I could be checking my poll. I could be surfing newspools for developments about Energen. Everyone was surprised by the company’s announcement, but no one seems to be asking why it’s made the Arctic drilling stop, why it’s made this decision now, Anthony Levin, its CEO, smiling sincerely at the world. I don’t trust him. Something is building. The world is disturbed and people are doing strange things: businesses are unpredictable, politicians perverse. It’s all very odd, and my brain (my actual brain, working really hard here without my Feed) is starting to hurt now. I could, if I was on, be relaxing it, catching up on some ents. Mum and Martha wanted to message tonight because Martha has mundles of her new house to share; I could leave my own world and experience her memory bundles of a place so many miles away in a time now past as if I

was actually there. I could be checking my pool: ‘What Would You Sacrifice?’ has been getting tens of millions of resprays a day. Everyone loves a poll. But I need to keep it fresh. People’s attention needs constant feeding, and if I want to influence them to think about the world, I need to be smart. I need to be heard above the chatter. That’s what Tom doesn’t get: I’m using the Feed as a tool for good. I’m not addicted! One of the first polls on ‘What Would You Sacrifice?’ had been ‘. . . for the Arctic?’. Fitting, given Energen’s news today, but barely anyone had taken part back then and I learned from that that it’s not stupidity or care lessness, it’s just distraction. It’s the enticing noise that surrounds us. So now I slip the political ones between things like ‘. . . to look good?’ and ‘. . . to get the man of your dreams?’. I got over sixty million sprays with that particular poll and then hit them with ‘. . . to be kinder to the planet?’. Eighty million sprays for that one. Smashed it. Newspools scraped my stats. (Politicians ‘won’, naturally – who wouldn’t sacrifice them?) What matters is making people focus for a moment on what we’re doing to our world. If we can get a toehold, just crack open people’s brains a bit, then greater changes might follow. I don’t know yet what the next poll will be, but from where I’m sitting I’m thinking something like ‘What Would You Sacrifice . . . for the good of your brain?’ because – and there is no way I could tell Tom this, though I’d like to scream it in his face – I don’t think I’d sacrifice the Feed! I don’t think I could! I can’t! I want to go on, right now, I’m screaming for it inside! But . . . I breathe . . . come on now, Kate, come on . . . I breathe and soften my voice, because this was supposed to be a nice evening and I’m just being distracted. Like everyone else. I need to focus here.

‘Why don’t we do some anagrams, hey, Tom? Get the old brains working . . .’ He grimaces and shifts in his chair. ‘So what have you done today, Kate?’ And then – I can’t help it; it’s because I was thinking about it and I’ve been spraying about it all day, so all those links are fresh, and I’m so desperate to check my pool,
it’s like a slip of the tongue, a habit that lives by itself – I go on, and—
—where the hell have you been? Martha messages, & Mum’s rightbehind her, her emotis making it veryclear that she’s about to unleash at me, but I blockher & interrupt. We’re being off tonight, I chat, Tom reckons it’s good for the brain to be slow, to keep it workingproperly. Don’t be ridiculous, Mum chat­snaps, have a look at yoursister’s mundle, & before I can blockher again she sends me one that bursts like a newlyformedbraincell in mymind, the senses & emotis of Martha’s bundledmemory expanding into existence like a polyp in mybrain, so I’m her not me for a while: —I’m on the lawn looking up at the new house, white frontage (the new [cloudbreath] shade from [PerfectPaint], an ident links me), peakedwindows, cloudysky above. I step onto the path (that lawn looks weedy, use new [Weedaway], an ident links me) & myheartrate increases as I reach out towards the door; myheart is thumping 42% faster & a 2.3% endorphin rush flows in. It’s soexciting! The BioLock – mine – recognises me, because it’s mylock in myhouse! & the door opens automatically & I hear the kids 6.72m behind me running up the path, but I’m in the hallway now, the coolshadows & the freshsmell of polish & it’s—

—I freeze the mundle & explain I’ll message them later because I’ve been on for 4millisecs already & Tom’ll notice if I’m on much longer & I still haven’t surfed any pools for Energen news or looked at the [WhatWouldYouSacrifice?] pool & I can see my boards are flashing with 57,603 messages, so the poll must be doingwell. A message from someone called ChloeKarlson437 comes in as I watch – Keep up the good work, Kate! – but there’s no time to reply because— Oh come on, Kate, Martha messages me & I flash her an adrenalspike & at the same time quickly search for [Energen] & news streams out of all the pools, but there’s nothing new so I spray at my friendgroup to see if they know anything new & send a quickapology to Martha & a wobblyface to Mum & tell them I’ll message later & I go off & it’s only been 11millisecs—
—but Tom noticed. ‘You’re addicted, Kate,’ he hisses. ‘Come on,’ I scoff, and gesture at everyone around us, though I know he’s right. ‘You’re just like the rest of them!’ ‘You’re such a snob! No, I know,’ I say, clicking my fingers, thinking as fast as I can without the Feed. ‘You have a transgendered intrasexual abandonment-induced Oedipus complex.’ We played this game just before he completed his psychotherapy training: how overly complicated can you make simple psychological syndromes sound? This one actually makes him laugh. ‘It’s a daddy complex,’ I explain, pleased with myself, proud of my brain, riding his good humour, ‘but more deeply complex.’ But his laughter stops. He glances at me. Shakes his head. No emotis needed. ‘You Feed too much, Kate. Come on. You’re . . . you

didn’t do this before. I’m sorry I annoy you, but it’s because I care. You’ll be freaking out the baby . . .’ We fall into silence again, but the silence isn’t like it was. There’s more to it now. We both agree the Feed is out of control. It’s what we bonded over when we first met at
his brother’s wedding. We’re both worried about the state of the world, too, and Tom agrees it’s got so much worse
in the five years since then. My parents don’t believe
that Tom is a good person, because of his family – he’s a Hatfield – but he is; I know he is with all my heart. He’s not like his brother or his father. But it feels like he has their absolutist streak, like he’s making me choose here. Between him and the Feed. Like I can’t have both. I turn away from him and pat my bump again, one of the many kids that I regularly tell my two hundred million followers we’re consigning to death because of the way we live. She’s a Hatfield, too. ‘Do you want to go on again then, Kate? We can be slow tomorrow night instead.’ But before I can reply, it happens like a wave. Clatters of cutlery and chairs thrown back. Gasps and a gabble of confused words actually vocalised out in the real, and then silence again, like everyone has taken a breath, but what has happened is everyone’s eyes have started to flicker even more rapidly. Someone sobs; the blonde girl’s hands are clasped over her mouth. The waiter runs for the door. ‘Tom?’ ‘Get back on!’ he says, and he’s on a snap second before I am and—
—I’m deluged with mysister. Martha is hystericallyshouting so I blockher & gland testosterone to counter the adrenalspike I feel, her panic contagious, & Mum is

desperatelymessaging, Where are you, where are you? I’ve been messaging you for seconds, Kate, what’s the matter with you? I blockher too & notice myboards have thousands of newmesssages & I’ve never felt anything like it: theFeed warps with a coalescingweight that nearly makes me fall off my chair in the real. I try to slow myendocrinesystem down because Mum’s now chat­screeching at me that Martha’s shouting at her & whydidIblockmysister? Then a silence falls on theFeed as billions of FeedIDs pause, like a wave drawing out, before breakingnews gushes like a tsunami. Memes flood & rumours ripple like a swelling contagion. Newspools burst into form in a swollentide. Clusters grow around them as people swarm to look, & Mum’s panicbursting me, What’s happening? My adrenal medulla pumps mysystem with epinephrine as I rush to look at one of the pools, but something slams down in front of it. But nothing’s dammed: theFeed is free & people swarmflow to other pools, which are dammed & dammed again, blocked by . . . the company? The government? Within 3nanosecs 127734pools are created & dammed & I tell Mum I don’t know what’s happening & I panic­nudge Tom but he flashmessages me he’s trying to message hisbrother Ben & then something filters out from the seething Feedchatter & there is a vid, a vid is going viral, it’s spreading faster than anything before & they’re trying to stop it & [dariancharles] the news is that PresidentTaylor1 has been killed. Everything goes quiet. All FeedIDs are stilled. PresidentTaylor1 has been killed. It fractals across theFeed, then mutates to say assassinated. Already there’s chaos in the US, contagious panic, the economy has flatlined & weapons have been mobilised towards the east. My cortisol levels are up 18.2%, my heartrate beating 2.93times too fast, & there are now 100000s of thisvid & as fast as 1pool is

dammed, 2000others appear, & I’m looking up what’s the difference between murder & assassination & Mum is still shouting but she’s drowned out by the roar & it’s something to do with the word hash which is an archaic term for C21H30O2 & I access one of the newspools & what’s there, the thing that everyone’s absorbing, that’s at the centre of all of these newspools coming repeatedly & unstoppably into existence is a vid tagged [RichardDrake62Senior SecurityAnalystWH.USA.StaffFID#22886284912] & timestamped 7.23secs ago. I go into his memory bundle. I have no idea where this room is because the GPS­loc is blocked, but it looks like every special­ops room from any ent I’ve ever gulped. A lacquered table reflects cold­buzzing neons. Thinscreens & decks adorn the soundproofed walls. Then PresidentTaylor1 walks in with a creamjumper (the new range from [Muitton], an ident links me) slung across his shoulders, a big mug of dark & fragrant coffee (the [arabeanica] blend from [Nesspro], an ident links me) in one hand, & this is the WhiteHouseUSA, this was the WhiteHouseUSA 7.34secs ago, & this mundle getting out is an insane security breach, no wonder pools are being dammed &— —Good morning all, PresidentTaylor1 says in thereal with that warm­gruff tone, & sits. I understand, he says, given Energen’s surprising news, that the race is now on for the ArcticSouth. We will not let it fall into the wrong hands. Folks, we have war in a cold climate. But before the President’s smile can fully form, RichardDrake62’s view is obscured as a silhouetted figure – PatrickVaughn59, it’s tagged – stands & raises a gun. The President’s head becomes a cloud of red. The room upturns as Richard Drake62 dives for cover & RichardDrake62’s mundle crashes to black & there’re the sounds of upheaval &

someone screams something that sounds like ‘DarianCharles!’ & right away [dariancharles] is spurting off into thousands of pools saying [whoisdariancharles?] & then the vid repeats – repeats – repeats. Whoever’s sprayed it zooms in each time on the President’s face as his head bursts apart & the mundle slows to split­frame grabs – the President’s head splits open in slow­mo & this vid is streaming into 47196255FeedIDs from this pool alone & in a stomachdropping cascade all pools are suddenly dammed. Everything stops— It’s like going over the edge of the world. There is nothing; just the samemessage appearing everywhere on theFeed, wherever I look. It’s from the government, telling me to go home quietly, to go home now. All other content is dammed, & in thereal, in the restaurant, we all stand like a herd & flood into the street. Everywhere people stumble, stunned in the hilltop dusk by the absence of anything on theFeed. All communications are culled. The tower, the Hub of theFeed, is still lit in the distance, but it’s broadcasting nothing now but the government. On as I am, the quickcodes now make the billboards alive with the samemessage endlessly reproducing itself in spooling neonbrights, expanding off the boards, filling the air, choking the eveningsky with gaudycolours telling us to gohome, there is a curfew, gohome, there is a curfew, gohome, there is a curfew, gohome.

Nick Windo Clark

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#BlogTour #Extract & #Giveaway UK & IRL only. Fear by Dirk Kurbjuweit #NewRelease @orionbooks @orion_crime

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Fear by Dirk Kurbjuweit

You’d die for your family. But would you kill for them?

Family is everything. So what if yours was being terrorised by a neighbour – a man who doesn’t listen to reason, whose actions become more erratic and sinister with each passing day? And those you thought would help – the police, your lawyer – can’t help you.
You become afraid to leave your family at home alone. But there’s nothing more you can do to protect them.
Is there?

My 5* review see here


I shouldn’t write that—it seems a bit much, when your father’s in prison. If anyone had to get out, it was my father, but he couldn’t. We, on the other hand, would be leaving as soon as possible, and as four o’clock approached, we transferred what was left of the cake from the baking sheet to two paper plates—one for my father and one for Kottke and his colleagues—and then we hugged him and left, not forgetting to say thank you to Kottke. My father remained behind, of course. He’d been sentenced to eight years. The six months he spent in remand count towards that, and he’s served another six months here in Tegel, which leaves seven years. If he behaves well—and we firmly expect him to do so—he might be released in three or four years’ time. Kottke has told us repeatedly that there is no better-behaved inmate than my father, and that fuels our hopes. It would give him another few good years of life as a free man. That’s what I tell my mother. ‘If only he doesn’t die in there,’ my mother often says, and immediately repeats herself: ‘If only he doesn’t die in there.’ He’s healthy, I tell her, when she says that. He’ll make it.

‘Dad?’ I asked again, after chatting a while with Kottke. That’s how I tend to spend my time here: Kottke and I talk. He does most of the talking—Kottke’s nothing if not talkative—but that’s a good thing. It’s a help. I find the silence of the prison intolerable, because eerie sounds emanate from t that can be heard in the visitors’ room—metallic noises I can’t identify, not ringing out sharply, but flat and dull. At first I thought I could hear rhythms, as if somebody was tapping or filing, but over time I realised that I had become the victim of my own expectations—namely, that a prison must always be filled with the sounds of thwarted communication or attempted flight. There were no rhythms, nor was there any quiet sighing such as I once thought I heard—only unfamiliar, unaccountable noises coming from deep inside the building. I was glad when Kottke drowned out these sounds with his grating Berlin accent. He has a long career as a jailer behind him—more than forty years serving the law—and has a great many stories to tell. I never really wanted to know so much about the world of crime and criminals, but that world is not without interest, especially now that it intersects with our own.

Kottke was soon looking at the clock. He has an unerring instinct, always knowing when our hour together is up. ‘Time we made a move,’ he said, as usual, and I was grateful to him: this turn of phrase makes it sound as if the two of them have to leave a pleasant coffee party and drive home. Home for my father is a cell, but this uncomfortable fact is obscured by Kottke’s well-chosen words. A jailer’s sensitivity—there is such a thing. We’ve been lucky.

Until then, Kottke had been leaning against the wall next to the window. Hardly had he spoken when he took two steps across the room towards my father and put out a hand to touch his upper arm. He always does that—there are a whole host of rituals here, of repetitions and routines. In this place the gesture seems almost official, a warning that it’s not worth trying to escape, because Kottke, friendly though he may be, must do his duty. But I think he acts out of solicitude—he wants to support my father, even though there’s no need. Dad is quite capable of getting up by himself.

When Dad stood up, so did I. We gave each other a brief hug (we can now), and then he left, Kottke at his side. My father is taller than his guard: a slim six foot two to Kottke’s corpulent five foot six. He is still as trim as ever, but he has lost his hair, and with age his legs have become bowed, giving him a rolling gait like a seaman. Not that he ever was a seaman—my father was a mechanic and then a car salesman.

When they had left, another jailer appeared, one whose name I don’t know. He too was fat (a lot of the men here are), and he looked dutiful rather than friendly. We didn’t exchange a single word as he accompanied me to the door. At last, the street—cars, birds, wind in the trees, life. Twenty paces off, my Audi winked cheerily when I pressed the button on my car key.

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