Anne Bonny #BlogTour #Review Evidence Of Death by Peter Ritchie 5* @PeterRi13759572 #CrimeFiction #NewRelease @bwpublishing

Evidence of Death BLOG TOUR copy

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Evidence Of Death by Peter Ritchie
Synopsis:

Billy Nelson is back home in battle-scarred Belfast. But the Troubles have cut this ex-Army Loyalist hard man deep – and now that his city’s allegiances have shifted, nothing is quite the same.

An outbreak of gang violence forces Billy to move on. This time to Edinburgh, where he muscles in on the capital’s drug trade and the family who run it.
As the balance of power tips, underworld rivalries between Edinburgh, Glasgow and Belfast spill out onto the streets.

With a spate of horrific incidents and a trail of victims, the pressure is mounting for Grace Macallan, new superintendent of the Crime & Counter Terrorism Directorate. Troubled by her own demons and with everyone baying for the blood of Billy Nelson and his old paramilitary contacts, can Grace hold her nerve?

My review:

I had previously read and enjoyed the fist in the Grace Macallan series, Cause Of Death. I was really looking forward to seeing where the author took the series next.
I was not disappointed, at all!

The novel opens with Patrick ‘Bobo’ MaCartney attempting to rob a security van. Bobo is an aggressive gangster in his late teens, described by his own mother as a ‘born accident’. His father is an alcoholic and Bobo has been left to his own devices for far too long! A wannabe crime detective, gone rogue, he isn’t bright enough to spot a secret informant amongst his crew.

DI Jimmy McGovern and Superintendent Grace Macallan of the Lothian borders police force, take Bobo down. However, he isn’t the only wannabe gangster in their midst……..

‘For every professional villain we have to sweep up, there’s twenty numpties in-between’

The novel re-caps on characters from the previous novel, including Grace’s ex-lover Jack Fraser. Although the novel is part of a series, the author brings new readers up to speed. Grace works brilliantly as a protagonist. She is strong willed, intelligent and a career copper. I think she is developing perfectly and each novel we will see her go from strength to strength.

Meanwhile, in Belfast Billy Nelson has returned from his tours of duty overseas. With Billy being discharged from the Para’s, Belfast has an angry and reckless man on its streets. But what Billy doesn’t know; is that whilst he was away on tour Ireland has gone through some significant political changes. With the old violent leaders of Belfast’s past now choosing organised crime or political careers. Billy is in for a shock!

Billy is quickly reunited with old friends and local youths Andy Clark, Dougie Fisher and Rob McLean. They spend their time drinking and causing mayhem on Belfast’s street corners. But it is when they venture towards the gay quarter, that their hatred and bottled-up anger is unleashed. After pulling off a series of violent and unprovoked homophobic and racist attacks. Billy and his gang must answer to notorious criminal Jackie Martin and he is not a happy man……..

Jackie Martin is an ex-UVF leader turned pimp and drug kingpin. He is furious with the boy’s violent behaviour, knowing it brings the police closer to his door. He orders the boys to leave Ireland or face what comes. Billy is unshaken by Jackie’s threats and almost seems to gloat, with Jackie impressed with his fearless approach he offers him a way out.

The gang will head to Edinburgh; where they’ll form and front up a Scottish branch of Jackie’s criminal empire. Billy leaves Northern Ireland still full of rage towards homosexuals and Muslims. But also, silently swearing vengeance against Jackie Martin. This novel is packed with gang warfare, criminal mentality and violence.
The streets of Edinburgh won’t know what hit it.

The boys set up their operation in Wester Hailes, an area of Scotland with high levels of immigration and low job prospects. But it is in Scotland, that we become better acquainted with the other members of the gang. The boys spend their days familiarising themselves with the local drug dealers and criminal fraternity.
Just waiting for the right moment to strike out and take over!

‘These men are skilled in terror tactics, police methods and, most importantly, they will use levels of violence that our criminals here are not prepared for. They’ve been moulded by conflict’ – Grace

The criminals and gang members are all expertly described. They each have unique names and personalities, which contributes to their level in the criminal hierarchy. Weakness is exploited and used against them. Junkies are seen as worthless souls. Overall life is cheap, where criminal endeavours flourish.

The novel is written in almost two parts. On one hand we have the story of Billy and his bunch of violent thugs. On the other hand, we have the story of the police officers, faced with taking them down. The novel builds and builds, as the criminals try to out-do each other using various violent tactics. Whilst the police must gather intelligence and surveillance, to move too quickly would create a disproportionate response and the media would relish an opportunity to apply further pressure.

The back cover of the novel states that the author is a former senior police officer. It really shows in the clever and detailed writing. I can’t wait to see where he takes the series next in, Shores OF Death.
I can’t wait to be back with Grace Macallan later in the year. 5*

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Peter Ritchie
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Evidence of Death BLOG TOUR copy

Anne Bonny #BookReview Ike And Kay by James MacManus @jamesmac1x #HistoricalFiction #NewRelease #WW2Fiction @Duckbooks #Review

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Ike And Kay by James MacManus
Synopsis:

Highly acclaimed author and managing director of The Times Literary Supplement, James MacManus, creates a compelling historical novel that brings to life an unbelievable but true love story set during the Second World War.

In 1942, Cork-born Kay Summersby’s life is changed forever when she is tasked with driving General Eisenhower on his fact-finding visit to wartime London. Despite Eisenhower’s marriage to Mamie, the pair takes an immediate liking to one another and he gifts Kay a rare wartime luxury: a box of chocolates.

So begins a tumultuous relationship that against all military regulation sees Kay travelling with Eisenhower on missions to far flung places before the final assault on Nazi Germany. She becomes known as “Ike’s shadow” and in letters Mamie bemoans his new obsession with ‘Ireland’. That does not stop him from using his influence to grant Kay US citizenship and rank in the US army, drawing her closer when he returns to America. When the US authorities discover Eisenhower’s plans to divorce from his wife they threaten the fragile but passionate affair and Kay is forced to take desperate measures to hold onto the man she loves…

My review:

Ike And Kay is a fictionalised account of the love affair between General Eisenhower and his driver Kay Summersby. The novel is historically accurate and heavily based upon the authors in-depth research. I think the novel is fascinating on many levels. Eisenhower was a key figure in the allied victory over the Nazi’s. His personal life and that of his love life, is rarely discussed in modern fiction or historical articles, with the focus being solely on his military career. Who was Dwight Eisenhower? What drew him to Kay? What did a love affair within the ww2 era mean, once the war was over?

Rest assured the author has covered the timeline perfectly! Opening in May 1942, we are with Kay as she awaits her new General on the platform of Euston station. The scene is set with the smoke/fog of a wartime train station and right away, I knew this was going to be a fantastic read.

Kay Summersby is originally from Ireland. She is part of the (MTC) Motor Transport Corps and becomes Eisenhower’s driver just five months after Pearl Harbour, after he arrives in Britain. Kay has had a colourful love life in the years before she meets Eisenhower. Divorced at just 33yrs old, she has more or less given up on the idea of a ‘happy ever after’. Prior to working for the MTC, she was an ambulance driver around the docklands of London. Kay is a strong woman both physically and emotionally. She is lonely in London, with only one close friend Charlotte. But through the class divide of Britain they are not as close as two friends should be.

Then into her life walks Major General Eisenhower. . .

Eisenhower has the weight of the world literally, upon his shoulders. He must devise military strategy under the fear of the Nazi’s. In Britain with the task of pulling together the allied forces by order of the US president. Eisenhower has no time for love affairs. . . Or so you’d think. . .

‘If Moscow fell before the winter snows it would be Britain next’

The novel expands on Kay’s background, her divorce and previous love affairs. The novel also goes into detail about Eisenhower’s marriage to Mamie who remains in the USA. You really get the feel of the ww2 era and that this was an entirely unique era. Given the war and the constant threat of death that was upon all citizens. You can easily see how it fuelled many a love affair.

Eisenhower is promoted to Commander of European theatre of operations. He forms a military family which has its own internal hierarchy, which Kay is firmly part of. Aside from his military manoeuvres and love life the novel does also show his feelings and opinions towards the British and life in Britain.

‘Trouble with you Brits is everything is about class. Even the working class seem happy to be just that – lower than everyone else. They lack ambition. It’s pathetic’ – Eisenhower

Eisenhower takes up a weekend retreat called Telegram cottage, where he entertains many military leaders including Churchill. Suddenly Kay find herself mixing with the powerful and elite of British intelligence society. Her proximity to Eisenhower fails to go unnoticed. Even as far away as America. . .

‘Jealousy feeds on rumour and the rumours had certainly taken wings across the Atlantic’

With Mamie Eisenhower becoming aware of Kay and her closeness to her husband. Mamie begins to fear for her own future after the war, that and the future of her two young sons.
She expected to lose her husband to the army, but not to another woman.

Kay and Eisenhower travel to various locations on military pursuits, even as far as North Africa. They become closer and closer with each passing day. Kay even purchases a puppy for Eisenhower’s birthday, it isn’t long until influential figures in the military and intelligence are aware of the love affair taking place right under their noses.
They fall under the spell of peace and contentment at the cottage. With Kay finding comfort in the words of denial ‘This man would never love or need anyone more than the wife who waited for him jealously in Washington’ I felt this maybe a lie, Kay would come to regret.

In Washington, Mamie begins drinking far too much, struggling with the rumour mill of the fellow military wives and she fears her husband’s mistress is getting too close. Mamie is a woman on the edge. When she is approached to be part of an article titled ‘life with Ike’. This is a husband Mamie has hardly seen in two years. But keeping up appearances is important in the war.

Kay and Ike’s love affair continues, with regular breeches of regulations and Ike even buying her a fancy gun. Kay meets President Roosevelt and is elevated to positions she could never imagine. She is even offered the chance to be part of an American unit, the Woman’s Army Coprs. Kay Summersby has arrived!!

As the war progresses, even Rommel becomes aware of who Kay is and her close relationship with Eisenhower. After a series of loss of lives in war, Ike is advised to drop Kay and this is when the politics seep over into Ike’s personal life. What was once tolerated, is now becoming an embarrassment to the military.

As the war comes to a close, and the liberation of Paris is underway. Ike and Kay are both planning for a life after the war, but will it include one another? Kay witnesses the brutality of victory, seeing the death of defeat on the streets.
Her feelings towards the affair begin to change.

‘So many young men, lying their like broken dolls – and what for? Nothing’

Faced with the harsh reality of war, Kay begins to feel foolish in her pursuit of Ike. Whilst, Ike is faced with the tough choice of Kay or country?
This novel is a fascinating glance into the lives of historical figures. It offers so much in the form of debate and would be ideal for book groups that have a focus on historical fiction. As stated above the accuracy and research is second to none.
Ike And Kay is a powerful story of love in war.

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James MacManus
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Author Bio:

James MacManus has worked in the newspaper business for 50 years and is currently the managing director of The Times Literary Supplement. James was a WW2 baby, educated at Westminster School, and graduated from St Andrews University in 1966 when he began his career at the Daily Express in Manchester. James joined The Guardian in 1972, first as a reporter in London and then as a foreign correspondent in France, Africa and the Middle East. In 1985, James joined the Diplomatic staff of the Daily Telegraph in London before a move to The Times in November 1992, first as Assistant Editor (Home) and then Managing Editor in September 1996.

James was appointed Managing Director of The Times Supplements in April 1997. Following heart surgery in 2009, James relinquished many of his duties to concentrate on speech writing and managing The Times Literary Supplement.

In 2006, James’ first screenplay about the life of George Hogg, The Children of the Silk Road, was made into a film starring Jonathan Rhys Meyer titled The Children of Huang Shi. James went on to write a book of the film, Ocean Devil (2008), followed by his debut novel, On the Broken Shore (Harper Collins, 2010) and historical fiction novels Black Venus (Duckworth, 2014), Sleep in Peace Tonight (Duckworth, 2015) and Midnight in Berlin (Duckworth, 2016). You can read more here about his new historical fiction novel Ike and Kay available from 8 March 2018 (Duckworth), a vivid reimagining of General Eisenhower and Kay Summersby’s infamous love affair in London after the second World War.