Anne Bonny #BlogTour #GuestPost ~ The Truth Is Out There #LyingAndDying by @GrahamBrack #CrimeFiction #NewRelease #JosefSlonsky @SapereBooks

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Lying And Dying by Graham Brack
Synopsis:

What do you do when the poison comes from within…?

The body of a young woman is found strangled by the side of the road.

There are no obvious clues to what happened, apart from the discovery of a large amount of cash concealed on her person.

The brilliant, but lazy, Lieutenant Josef Slonský is put in charge of the case.

With a wry sense of humour, a strong stubborn streak and a penchant for pastries, Slonský is not overly popular with the rest of the police force. But he is paired with the freshly-graduated, overly-eager Navrátil, whom he immediately takes under his wing.

When fingers start to point inwards to someone familiar with police operations, Slonský and Navrátil are put in a difficult position.

If what they suspect is true, how deep does the corruption run? Are they willing to risk their careers in their pursuit of the truth?

Anyone could be lying – and others may be in danger of dying…

Guest Post:

The truth is out there

Pilate saith unto him, What is truth? (John 18:38).

I suppose that any writer of fiction who is not expressly in the world of fantasy has faced Pilate’s question. What is truth? And, whatever it is, does it matter to me?

As a crime novelist, my stories have to be set in a recognisable world; not necessarily one that we currently inhabit, or there would be no historical crime fiction, but one that we either experience or that makes sense to us from our knowledge of the history. But does it need to be true, in the sense of possessing factual accuracy?

Now, before I started crime writing, I would undoubtedly have argued that it must. If Great Britain and Northern Ireland had an Olympic pedantry team I would be a strong contender.

To make the characters fill out, I have to research their biographies so far as I can, but there are undoubtedly gaps, and the author may need to fill them. The most I can do – but also the least I can do – is to ensure that my inventions do not contradict known history.

By the time I wrote the first Mercurius story (my historical crime series, coming soon from Sapere Books!) I already had three Slonský books under my belt, and I confess that I had not thought in any systematic way what the truth amounted to in those tales set in 21st century Prague. They are works of fiction, after all; why do they need to be “true”?

Yet, I think, if they could be easily shown to be factually incorrect it would detract from the stories. I can, and have, taken a few liberties. The Czech police retirement process is, I believe, substantially accurate but if anyone can find a way round it, it would be Slonský, a man who dreads retirement as a vampire fears garlic. The rank system is byzantine; Slonský is described as “Lieutenant”, but there are actually three grades of lieutenant, podporučík, poručík and nadporučík.
I will not weary you with the other fourteen ranks.

While the police headquarters in Prague are where I place them, the internal layout may be very different. I do my research like anyone else, perhaps more diligently than some, but I do not think my readers will hold it against me if a door opens outwards when I have said it opens inwards.

This must always be so. To take one example, the opening scene of Lying and Dying (which is set in 2006) takes place on a small piece of land near a Metro station. When I viewed and photographed it, in 2006, it was as I describe it. There is now a small building on the site. That, of course, has nothing to do with “the truth” in 2006, but as late as 2015 you could have viewed it and recognised it from my description, and now you cannot.

However, where I must keep to the truth is in the biographies of my characters. I keep a database of them, noting the facts of their life (Slonský was born on 11th November 1947, for example) of which some will never appear in the stories. I know his parents’ names, to give one example, but I have never needed to use them. I also note their foibles and characteristics.

Slonský’s sidekick, Navrátil, enjoys long-distance running but is too unco-ordinated to give his girlfriend much of a tennis match. Major Klinger, head of the fraud squad, employs a complicated system of coloured highlighter pens to mark up his notes, so that – for those, like Navrátil, who have troubled to learn it – the text has a meta-text superimposed upon it.

I have no doubt that somewhere in the books there will be solecisms. I comfort myself with the thought that many better authors than me have had those too. I hope they don’t spoil your enjoyment of my stories.

One final thought. Slonský is not autobiographical. I do not know any single person on whom Slonský is based. That is just as well, because having the fictional Slonský causing havoc in my neatly ordered brain can be tough enough.

He is, simply, a good man. In nearly forty years of policing he has done some things which may have been legal, but they were not just, and he is determined to redress that before he bows out. He knows how dirty his hands are, and he assumes that almost everyone of his vintage is the same. That is why he has difficulty in according some people the respect that they think their position merits. He does not know that Burns said “Rank is but the guinea’s stamp”, but he would wholeheartedly approve the sentiment. In Slonský’s eyes, the bigger they are, the harder they fall, and he is determined to train Navrátil the same way. I hope he succeeds.

But don’t take my word for it. Read Lying and Dying and decide for yourself.

GB for Sapere
Graham Brack
Website
Twitter

Author Bio:

Graham Brack hails from Sunderland and met his wife Gillian in Aberdeen where they were both studying pharmacy. After their degrees Gillian returned to Cornwall and Graham followed. This is now called stalking but in 1978 it was termed “romantic”. They have two children, Andrew and Hannah, and two grandchildren, Miranda and Sophie.

Graham’s foray into crime writing began in 2010 when he entered the Crime Writers’ Association’s Debut Dagger competition and was highly commended for The Outrageous Behaviour of Left-Handed Dwarves (reissued as Lying and Dying), in which the world was introduced to Lt Josef Slonský of the Czech police. The Book of Slaughter and Forgetting (reissued as Slaughter and Forgetting) followed and Sapere Books have published book three, Death On Duty.

In 2014 and 2016 Graham was shortlisted for the Debut Dagger again. The earlier novel, The Allegory of Art and Science, is set in 17th century Delft and features the philosophy lecturer and reluctant detective Master Mercurius.
Sapere Books will publish it as Death in Delft in 2018.

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Anne Bonny #BookReview Ragdoll by @Daniel_P_Cole #CrimeFiction #Series @TrapezeBooks ‘A twisted killer, a detective on the edge’

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Ragdoll by Daniel Cole
My own copy
Synopsis:

ONE BODY. SIX VICTIMS. NO SUSPECTS.

A body is discovered with the dismembered parts of six victims stitched together, nicknamed by the press as the ‘Ragdoll’. Assigned to the shocking case are Detective William ‘Wolf’ Fawkes, recently reinstated to the London Met, and his former partner Detective Emily Baxter. The ‘Ragdoll Killer’ taunts the police by releasing a list of names to the media, and the dates on which he intends to murder them.

With six people to save, can Fawkes & Baxter catch a killer when the world is watching their every move?

My Review:

I actually own a signed copy of Ragdoll and it had sat on my TBR pile for far too long. This was a novel that had been recommended to me by Sarah Hardy over at By The Letter book Reviews. SO, I knew it would be a dark, edgy thriller.

The novel opens in May 2010, where Samantha Boyd is serving as a jury member on a lengthy trial. The trial of ‘The Cremation Killer’. Naguib Khalid stands accused of murdering 27 victims, mostly teenage sex workers. The victims were set alight (hence the media label name). Detective William Fawkes aka Wolf was the investigating Detective. When he hears the not guilty verdict he bursts into an uncontrollable rage and attacks Khalid.

YES, that is just the prologue!!!!!!!! So, I knew this was going be one hell of a dark and action-packed read!

Four years later, June 2014 Wolf receives a 4am call from Simmons from a crime scene at a flat in Kentish Town. Six body parts – no blood – amputated with a hacksaw – removed post mortem. From SIX DIFFFERENT VICTIMS!
Where are the murder victims remaining bodies? Does London have a serial killer running loose? Or are the limbs from corpses in mortuary’s?

This is a violent and graphic scene, which is described within the pages. If you’re squeamish, this is probably not the book for you.
That being said I was a HUGE fan of the move Seven and this novel constantly reminded me of it.
No wimps here!

Upon seeing the scene, Wolf instantly asks blames Khalid and asks someone to put in a call to Belmarsh prison to check his current status, as of that exact moment.
The body parts are pointing directly into Wolf’s apartment – This is personal!

‘The rest of the world continued on as normal: people killing people, rapists and thieves running free’

We then discover why Khalid is at Belmarsh prison despite receiving a not guilty verdict. It would appear that justice isn’t always infallible.

There are twists and turns galore and with each new limb being identified. We uncover more and more about the twisted killer’s motive.
A twisted killer, a detective on the edge. 4.5*

*I already own the next in the series Hangman on my kindle and look forward to getting back into the series*

DC
Daniel Cole
Twitter

Anne Bonny #BlogTour #Extract & #Giveaway (UK & IRL only) An Honourable Schoolboy by John Le Carre @PenguinClassics @lecarre_news

John le Carre - Blog Tour Card
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The Honourable Schoolboy by John Le Carre – #2 in the Karla trilogy
Review to follow – Currently reading
Synopsis:

It is a beleaguered and betrayed Secret Service that has been put in the care of George Smiley. A mole has been uncovered at the organisation’s highest levels – and its agents across the world put in grave danger. But untangling the traitor’s web gives Smiley a chance to attack his Russian counterpart, Karla. And part-time spy Jerry Westerby is the weapon at Smiley’s disposal.

The Honourable Schoolboy is remarkable and thrilling, one of three books (together with Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy and Smiley’s People) to feature the legendary clash between Smiley and Karla, two brilliant spymasters on opposite sides of the Cold War.

Extract:

Perhaps a more realistic point of departure is a certain typhoon Saturday in mid-1974, three o’clock in the afternoon, when Hong Kong lay battened down waiting for the next onslaught. In the bar of the Foreign Correspondents’ Club, a score of journalists, mainly from former British colonies – Australian, Canadian, American – fooled and drank in a mood of violent idleness, a chorus without a hero. Thirteen floors below them, the old trams and double deckers were caked in the mudbrown sweat of building dust and smuts from the chimneystacks in Kowloon. The tiny ponds outside the highrise hotels prickled with slow, subversive rain. And in the men’s room, which provided the Club’s best view of the harbour, young Luke the Californian was ducking his face into the handbasin, washing the blood from his mouth. Luke was a wayward, gangling tennis player, an old man of twenty-seven who until the American pullout had been the star turn in his magazine’s Saigon stable of war reporters. When you knew he played tennis it was hard to think of him doing anything else, even drinking. You imagined him at the net, un-coiling and smashing everything to kingdom come; or serving aces between double faults. His mind, as he sucked and spat, was fragmented by drink and mild concussion– Luke would probably have used the war-word ‘fragged’ – into several lucid parts. One part was occupied with a Wanchai bar girl called Ella for whose sake he had punched the pig policeman on the jaw and suffered the inevitable consequences: with the minimum necessary force, the said Superintendent Rockhurst, known otherwise as the Rocker, who was this minute relaxing in a corner of the bar after his exertions, had knocked him cold and kicked him smartly in the ribs. Another part of his mind was on something his Chinese landlord had said to him this morning when he called to complain of the noise of Luke’s gramophone, and had stayed to drink a beer.

John Le Carre – Information:

On 27 September Penguin Modern Classics will have published the entire works of John Le Carré, making him the living author with the greatest body of work to be awarded classic status.

John Le Carré is one of the greatest and most popular writers of our time. His writing has come to define the age, from his extraordinary Cold War novels The Spy Who Came in from the Cold and Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy, to his powerful depiction of the War on Terror in A Most Wanted Man and his most recent novel, A Legacy of Spies. New to the list will be The Little Drummer Girl – a thrilling story of love and loyalty set against the backdrop of the Middle East conflict. This compelling novel will be the subject of a major six-part BBC adaptation this October starring Alexander Skarsgård and Florence Pugh, from the producers of the award-winning BBC drama The Night Manager.

JLC
John Le Carre
Website

Giveaway:

To be in with a chance of winning a paperback copy of An Honourable Schoolboy, Simply A) comment on this blog post
B) RT the pinned Tweet @annebonnybook
C) comment on the Facebook post at Anne Bonny Book Reviews
The giveaway will run until Monday morning and is open to UK & IRL only
Good Luck

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Anne Bonny #BlogTour #BookReview Blackpool Lass by Maggie Mason 5* @Authormary #Saga #Blackpool @LittleBrownUK @littlebookcafe Orphaned and alone, she’ll make her own way in the world. . .

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Blackpool Lass by Maggie Mason
Review Copy
Synopsis:

Orphaned and destitute, will Grace find her own way in the world?

When Grace’s Ma passes away and her Da’s ship sinks with all hands, Grace is utterly alone in the world. She’s sent to an orphanage in Blackpool, but the master has an eye for a pretty young lass. Grace won’t be his victim, so she runs, destitute, into the night.

In Blackpool, she finds a home with the kindly Sheila and Peggy – and meets a lovely airman. But it’s 1938, and war is on the horizon. Will Grace ever find the happiness and home she deserves?

My Review:

The novel opens in Blackpool 1932, we follow protagonist Grace as she tries to navigate a life of hardship and poverty. I will admit that this is possibly the darkest saga, I have EVER read! It really shines the light on the vulnerability of young women in the 1930s/1940s era. The blatant and systemic sexual abuse of young women and the choices they are forced to make.

Family life for Grace changes substantially throughout the years. Whilst various characters are never kind to Grace, she is shown some hope via her friendship with Sheila and Peggy.

Part one of the novel reveals the year 1932-1933. Grace is 13yrs old and already learning to avoid the unwanted advances of her father. Her mother is bedridden and unable to protect her daughter. When Grace’s pa’s ship is sunk off the coast of island; her mother simply loses the will to live. Which places Grace in the unfortunate circumstance of being an orphan.

Grace is taken in by her granny. However, although this offers Grace some structure and stability with schooling. Her granny is forgetful and has ‘episodes’ of forgetfulness. We as readers gather that Grace’s granny is within the stages of the onset of dementia. This being 1933, the level of understanding and support simply isn’t there for Grace or her granny and ultimately this leads Grace taking up residency at Halford House a children’s refugee founded by the Christian fellows of Manchester.

Only at Halford’s house, life is far from Christian. Grace strikes up an instant friendship with fellow orphan Jeanie. When Jeanie informs Grace of EXACTLY how the children’s home is run, she is understandable terrified. This children’s home is the stuff of most people’s WORST nightmares!
‘She couldn’t take in what these girls seemed to accept as normal’

With no hope of a future at the home and no voice to speak out against the conditions. Grace is left with only one option, that of escape. But escape will not come easy to Grace and in her attempt to flee, Jeanie refuses to leave. Which leave Grace carrying not only a dark secret but a feeling of extreme guilt for many years to come. . .

Grace eventually ends up with Sheila and her mother Peggy in Blackpool. The family know just how to hide Grace in case the authorities are searching for her.
‘Grace you’re in a circus family now. Such things as turning a girl into a boy are natural to us’ – Sheila

Part two of the novel covers the year 1938-1939, Grace is blossoming into a beautiful young woman that enjoys regular nights out at the Blackpool tower ballroom. But happiness never lasts long for Grace. I began to wonder how much hardship can one woman survive? It was far from over yet!

The saga is much darker than I assumed. That being said I feel it is possibly very accurate to the way in which children and women have suffered throughout history.
Maggie Mason/Mary wood can certainly spin a yarn and this novel as dark as it is, is my favourite of hers so far! 5*

MM
Maggie Mason – Mary wood
Twitter
Website
My Review of, The Street Orphans by Mary Wood
My review of, Brighter Days Ahead by Mary Wood

Author Bio:

Maggie Mason is a pseudonym of author Mary Wood.

Mary writes historical sagas for Pan Macmillan covering the late nineteenth century to mid-twentieth including both wars. She has 9 books in print and another – THE FORGOTTEN DAUGHTER is released in December.

Under her pen name of Maggie Mason, Mary writes regional sagas set in Blackpool, again covering the time period as above. She has her first THE BLACKPOOL LASS published this week – 20th September.

Mary lives in Blackpool and enjoys researching the history of her home town, coming up with some surprising facts and excited to uncover material for future books.

Born the 13th child of 15 children, Mary experienced life at the raw end. Though she says of her childhood that though poor they were happy and were rich in love.

Mary writes full time now having ended her 9 – 5 working life in the Probation service. This experience gave the grittiness she brings to her writing as Mary says she feels compelled to tell it how it is.

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Anne Bonny #BlogTour Q&A with #Author @MarianneHAuthor #ALittleBirdToldMe #LiteraryFiction #CrimeFiction #Mystery #LittleBird @AgoraBooksLDN We’re all about secrets in this family. . .

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A Little Bird Told Me by Marianne Holmes
Review To Follow
Synopsis:

Besides, if you were one half evil, wouldn’t you want to know about the other half?

In the scorching summer of 1976, Robyn spends her days swimming at the Lido and tagging after her brother. It’s the perfect holiday – except for the crying women her mum keeps bringing home.

As the heatwave boils on, tensions in the town begin to simmer. Everyone is gossiping about her mum, a strange man is following her around, and worst of all, no one will tell Robyn the truth. But this town isn’t good at keeping secrets…

Twelve years later Robyn returns home, to a house that has stood empty for years and a town that hasn’t moved on, forced to confront the mystery that haunted her that summer.

And atone for the part she played in it.

Q&A:

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

A) My father was in the RAF so my family moved around a lot. I live in London now and really enjoy the fact that my neighbours might be from anywhere in the world; it’s liberating and exciting. I studied both Classics and Linguistics at university and have a lifelong love of things ancient, the way language evolves and how meaning is preserved in translation.
A Little Bird Told Me is really about the struggle of the narrator, Robyn, to make sense of the family secrets that resulted in tragedy when she was a child. The novel switches between 1976 and 1988 to tell both parts of the story.

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

A) The emotionally damaged Robyn and her brother Kit initially stepped off that train into a town that felt full of menace and secrets in a slightly spooky short story that I read out at my writing group. The story prompted questions that I didn’t know the answer to myself, so I set about working out exactly what Robyn was up to, how she had got her mysterious scar and why Kit was against their return. I wrote pretty much as the fancy took me and for the sheer joy of it.
I ended up with a huge tangle of plot and characters and had to edit heavily. When I was longlisted for the Bath Novel Award in 2016, I started submitting to agents. With every piece of feedback I received, I edited again.
Just when I was about to put it in the bottom drawer, Agora Books got in touch. Curiously, there’s a little mystery around how Agora Books came to know about Robyn and Kit – it seems it literally was a case of a little bird told me.

Q) What are your favourite authors and recommended reads?

A) This is such a difficult one and changes every day. I love The Secret History by Donna Tartt, All The Pretty Horses by Cormac McCarthy, A Song for Issy Bradley by Carys Bray, Cloud Atlas by David Mitchell and anything by Iain Banks, Umberto Eco, Kate Atkinson, Margaret Atwood… I could go on for pages!

Q) What were your childhood/teenage favourite reads?

A) My mother found The Flambards trilogy, mentioned in A Little Bird Told Me, at the library for me and I thought it was fantastic along with the Nancy Drew stories and a great deal of pony and fantasy stories.
I lived in the library as a teenager and read pretty much whatever they had indiscriminately, from Mills & Boon to Iris Murdoch. I particularly enjoyed the mysteries of Mary Stewart, Daphne Du Maurier, Norah Lofts and all things Roman or Greek.

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

A) It’s a dead heat between watching my daughter take a copy into school because she wanted to show her friends and hearing from readers who’ve enjoyed the book. Making people happy is wonderful!

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

A) My husband and family, particularly my children who’ve had to get used to mummy ‘just finishing one more thing’ and who’ve remained accepting and good humoured throughout!
I also have a small group of writing friends with whom I share drafts and the ups and downs of writing life. It’s their encouragement that kept me going whenever it felt too hard.

Anne Bonny: Thank you for taking part in the Q&A on my blog, I wish you every success with your writing career.
MH: Thank you so much for having me, it’s been a real pleasure to answer your questions.

Marianne Holmes - Author Photo (B&W)
Marianne Holmes
Twitter
Website

Author Bio:

Marianne Holmes was born in Cyprus to RAF parents and bounced between the UK, Germany, Kuwait and Belgium until firmly basing herself in London – well, apart from those years in the Peak District.

A love of language led to degrees in Classics and Linguistics from the University of London but her desire to pay the mortgage steered her to a career in Marketing. After distracting herself in all sorts of ways over the years – sailing, flying, volunteering and running away to India – she is now definitely, absolutely concentrating on her writing. Well, that and making sure her children get fed, clothed and entertained. Obviously.

A Little Bird Told Me is Marianne’s first novel.

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