Anne Bonny #BookReview The Boy Who Saw by @simontoyne 5* #CrimeFiction #Thriller #KindleDeal @HarperFiction @fictionpubteam ‘This novel is phenomenal, I opened the pages and fell into the story 100%’

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The Boy Who Saw by Simon Toyne
My own copy from tbr pile
Synopsis:

A MURDER
An elderly tailor is found tortured and murdered in the ancient town of Cordes. Written in blood beside the body are the words: FINISHING WHAT WAS BEGUN.

A SECRET
But the dead man has left a cryptic message for his granddaughter and her son, Leo – one that puts them in immediate danger.

A RACE
They are forced to go on the run, accompanied by the enigmatic Solomon Creed. What began as small-town murder becomes a race to uncover a devastating secret dating from World War II. The few men who know the truth are being killed by a powerful organization, and only one man stands in its way.

Only Solomon Creed can stop the murders.
Only he can save the boy.

My Review:

This is one of those novels that is so much bigger than its synopsis! I am new to Simon Toyne and the Solomon Creed series, but I am well and truly awoken now!
The novel is an impressive read and I look forward to further novels in the series.
I’ll definitely be keeping my eyes peeled for future releases.

The novel opens with Josef Engel being brutally tortured and murdered. The murder is quite graphic, and savage and you begin to wonder what has enraged someone so much that they want to eradicate Josef’s existence completely. The killer taunts Josef that he should have been killed in the past and it is well-known Josef is a holocaust survivor. The killer finishes by cutting a star of David into Josef’s chest and you are left under no illusion about the depravity of this killer.

‘Josef had not been this afraid since the war, when pain and death had been commonplace in the labour camps’

We are then briefly introduced to Solomon Creed at Madjid Lellouche’s property. It is an unusual meeting and difficult to describe. But it gives you a firm indication of Solomon’s character and how he will continue to come across on the page.

Commandant Benoit Amand of the police nationale is at the scene of vandalism. A swastika has been written on a Jewish memorial. He is disgusted by the crime, as he glances at the nearby banners celebrating 70yrs since the end of ww2.
He is deep in thought about who in the town would have done such a thing, when he is alerted that Josef Engel has been found murdered in his nearby shop.

Solomon is following vague clues, such as a label on his suit with an address in Corde-Su-Ciel. Solomon’s reasoning for memory loss is explained further on in the novel and makes for intense reading. But I loved the way the character was self-assured as he followed vague cryptic clues. Especially as that is exactly how you could summarise the man himself. I have never read a protagonist quite like Solomon before.

The novel is scattered with the real-life accounts of the holocaust written by Herman Lansky. They make for shocking reading and the harsh cruelty of the holocaust is brought alive on the page. But is Josef’s murder linked to the past? If so how?

‘The souls of the damned had been reclaimed’

Marie-Claude is Josef’s granddaughter and she has recently began to research her grandfather’s history. Beginning with the Die Schnider Lager – The Tailors Camp. She knows her grandfather was one of four individuals that somehow survived their death sentence and she is determined to track the other survivors down. This is a course of action that will have huge ramification for Marie-Claude and her young son Leo.
A course of action Josef warned her against.

‘We known that knowledge is sometimes a curse. And you can never unlearn something once it is known’ – Josef Engel

Amand receives an Interpol alert warning that Solomon Creed is highly intelligent and extremely dangerous. An alert that unravels Solomon’s past history and care under Dr Magellan. We also become aware Solomon’s headed straight towards Marie-Claude and that her and Leo are in great danger. A letter she holds and the suit Solomon wears are somehow linked to the recent murder. Marie-Claude knows she must do as her grandfather instructed and deliver the letter.

‘Do not trust this task to anyone. You must deliver it yourself’ – Josef Engel

The chapters from the perspective of Herman Lansky offer a glimpse into history and a stark reminder of the dangers of hate and fascism.
‘Only now, looking back, do I realise that Samler was not a man at all. He was something else, something that looked human but had no soul. A devil in a beautifully cut uniform’
The man he describes is Artur Samler, one of the Nazi high command. Samler ran the first camp to use a crematorium and was involved in the fuel machines program.
Yet I was growing more and more intrigued to learn how the past fitted into murder of Josef Engel. I found myself racing through the pages, not able to read quick enough!

‘If Die Schnieder Lager was hell, then Samler was the devil. And death was his command’ – Herman Lansky

Herman Lansky published his memoirs in 1949, living in Britain at the end of the war. He was found dead in a case of ‘misadventure’ after he was gassed during a fire. Everything ties back to a horrific memory of the holocaust, and the scars the men carry both physically and mentally.

The police continue their investigations, but they are slow on the uptake as they endeavour to uncover Solomon’s background first.
We become aware of a fascist modern-day group that are somehow tied to the case and seeking revenge on Marie-Claude. Leaving Leo is grave danger.
Can Solomon protect him?

The fascist group in question is the PNFL – similar to the BNP in their demand and ‘cause’ if you can even call it that. This part of the novel is incredibly timely with the rise in Nazi ‘sympathy’. However, it becomes very clear that the greatest danger is a lack of education, ignorance and manipulation. That is how these groups operate and sustain their membership.
‘You needed a police state, and a strong hand. A dictatorship. Democracy didn’t work because most people were stupid’ – Jean Baptise
Yet again the most ignorant and intolerant are usually the loudest!

This novel is phenomenal, I opened the pages and fell into the story 100%. The backstory of the holocaust and ww2 is not only insightful but historically accurate.
The writing is powerful and reflective to modern day politics. 5*

ST
Simon Toyne
Website
Twitter

***The Ebook in currently on Kindle deal for just £1.99 in the UK***

Anne Bonny #BlogTour Q&A with @anne_obrien #Author of, Queen Of The North #HistoricalFiction #Medieval England 1399 @HQstories #AuthorTalks ‘This is one woman’s quest to turn history on its head’

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Queen Of The North by Anne O’Brien
Review to follow
Synopsis:

To those around her she was a loyal subject.

In her heart she was a traitor.

1399: England’s crown is under threat. King Richard II holds onto his power by an ever-weakening thread, with exiled Henry of Lancaster back to reclaim his place on the throne.

For Elizabeth Mortimer, there is only one rightful King – her eight-year-old nephew, Edmund. Only he can guarantee her fortunes, and protect her family’s rule over the precious Northern lands bordering Scotland.

But many, including Elizabeth’s husband, do not want another child-King. Elizabeth must hide her true ambitions in Court, and go against her husband’s wishes to help build a rebel army.

To question her loyalty to the King places Elizabeth in the shadow of the axe.
To concede would curdle her Plantagenet blood.

This is one woman’s quest to turn history on its head.

#BlogTour Q&A:

Q) For the readers, can you talk us through your background and the synopsis of your new novel? Biography

A) Although I now live in the Welsh Marches, in Herefordshire, I am a Yorkshire girl by birth in West Yorkshire. After gaining a BA Honours degree in History at Manchester University and a Master’s in Education at Hull, I lived in East Yorkshire for many years where I taught history. Writing was not something I ever thought of doing.
That was in a past life.
Moving to Herefordshire, I gave up teaching and began writing historical novels. It has brought me much enjoyment and a new career. Now I live with my husband in an eighteenth-century timber-framed cottage with a large garden, where I write about the forgotten women of medieval history. It is a marvellous area for giving me inspiration, full of castles and churches and battlefields.

Q) Can you talk us through the journey from idea to writing to publication?

A) – Firstly I have to select a medieval woman as the central character. She must be well connected and involved in the politics of the day. There must be an element of notoriety, scandal, or interest about her life to make her a worthwhile candidate to tell the story.
– A timeline is essential to put the woman and her family into historical perspective with other characters and historical events.
– After many weeks of historical research to put all the relevant facts into place, I start writing. Accuracy is essential.
– A year later, after four separate drafts, additions of events and characters who often take me by surprise, much editing and reviewing and it is complete to be sent off to my agent and my editor
– With my editor’s keen eye, there follows some polishing, usually with regard to length. I tend to write too much.
– And hopefully, sixteen months after I began, the novel is finished.
It is not always as seamless as this of course. Real life tends to break in to my writing schedule with such mundane occupations as dusting and shopping and cooking a meal or two, but I try to write something every morning. It also takes perseverance, patience, and compassion with my characters and what they wish to say. All of it though is highly enjoyable.

Q) What are your favourite authors and recommended reads?

A) If I wish to read historical fiction, it has to be Dorothy Dunnett’s Lymond Chronicles, six novels that carry her hero through sixteenth century France, Scotland with visits to Russia and the Levant, all magnificently constructed to combine fact and fiction.
If I feel a need for some atmospheric crime, then what better than Anne Cleves’ Shetland series, now a superb TV adaptation in the bleak but beautiful islands off northern Scotland.
An excellent blend of folklore, myth, crime, and rural creepiness makes compulsive reading with the novels of Phil Rickman’s series with Merrily Watkins the priest in the depths of Hereford, starting with Wine of Angels.
If I want a novel of family or the relationships and interaction between people, then there can be no better than Anne Tyler. I first discovered her years ago with Breathing Lessons, and continue to read her novels.

Q) What were your childhood/teenage favourite reads?

A) They tended to be historical. My interests have not changed.
A loved the novels of Mary Renault, particularly those which brought the Greek myths to life. I think the first I read were The King Must Die and Bull from the Sea. The novels of Alexander the Great also make great reading in my teenage years, starting with Fire From Heaven. I have re-read them more recently and find they have stood the test of time.
The Passionate Brood was the first historical novel by Margaret Campbell Barnes that I recall reading. It tells the tale of the children of King Henry II and Robin Hood. It showed me what could be done with history to make it a page turning experience for the reader.
Mary Stewart’s novels of King Arthur and Merlin, beginning with The Crystal Cave , captivated me, and still do. I still have a soft spot for King Arthur novels.

Q) What has been your favourite moment of being a published author?

A) It has to be, every time, holding the completed novel in my hands. All is done and it can no longer be changed and edited. It is complete in its cover. It is proof that I have produced something tangible over the past year that has come together in readable form. It is proof that not only have I enjoyed writing it, but my editor and my agent have also enjoyed reading it. It is also a time of some trepidation of course. Now the novel is out of my hands and available to the vast the reading public. I always hope that they enjoy it too.

Q) Who has been your source of support/encouragement, throughout the writing process?

A) For me writing is a very private matter. No one reads my novel, not even sections of it, until it is finished when it is sent off to my agent and editor. Even so the support of those around me is invaluable. My husband who I often dragged into my discussions of historical motivation and logic. His interest in 19th Century history but he is fast becoming well educated in the politics of medieval England. My agent who I know will give me all her support if I get into difficulties or simply need some encouragement. My editor who has the final sweeping view of the novel and gives me advice. I trust her expertise implicitly.
I am blessed to have such support in what can be a very lonely world between me, my PC, and people who have been dead for at least six hundred years.

AOB
Anne O’Brien
Website
Twitter

***Don’t miss the other bloggers on the blog tour***
QueenNorth_BlogTour[2]
***Review to follow soon***