Anne Bonny #BlogTour #GuestPost The Golden Orphans by @GaryRaymond_ #Psychological #Thriller #Cyprus @ParthianBooks @damppebbles

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The Golden Orphans by Gary Raymond
Synopsis:

Within the dark heart of an abandoned city, on an island once torn by betrayal and war, lies a terrible secret…

Francis Benthem is a successful artist; he’s created a new life on an island in the sun. He works all night, painting the dreams of his mysterious Russian benefactor, Illy Prostakov. He writes letters to old friends and students back in cold, far away London. But now Francis Benthem is found dead. The funeral is planned and his old friend from art school arrives to finish what Benthem had started. The painting of dreams on a faraway island. But you can also paint nightmares and Illy has secrets of his own that are not ready for the light. Of promises made and broken, betrayal and murder…

The Golden Orphans offers a new twist on the literary thriller.

Guest Post:

Gary Raymond explains how the ghost of Graham Greene helped him write his new literary thriller based on the island of Cyprus.

In June of 2006, just a few weeks after being made redundant from a job I hated, I found myself in Cyprus working in a beach bar for my cousin just outside of Ayia Napa. Back then Ayia Napa was notorious, so the “outside of Ayia Napa” bit is important – I was in essence placed at the outskirts of something, which is of course the correct positioning for a writer. In my twenties, the decade of my life I was in back then, I had a habit of cropping up in places I really had no right to be in. A casual biographer, which would surely be the only one I’d ever earn, might mistake me for some kind of adventurer, but I was always more motivated by the idea – a very simple idea – that going places meant opportunities to gather stories. Whether they ever ended up being written down or not, I was on the move to soak up characters and scenarios and dramas and comedies. But I also knew that where I might be modestly “cropping up”, there was a certain Graham Greene element to it.
In Cyprus I read, for the first time, Greene’s The Power and the Glory, his great rumination on faith and martyrdom all wrapped up in the dust and heat of a chase narrative. Before this book I had been led to believe, despite all of the evidence to the contrary, that literature was a serious business. To read is to gorge on the riches of the human experience, but to write – well this is no laughing matter – it is toil and torment and a thankless task at that. To borrow Angela Carter’s analysis on this subject – “the British put up a strong resistance to the idea that pleasurability might be a valid criterion in the response to literature, just as we remain dubious about the value of the decorative in the visual art”. I may be Welsh, but in so far as my reading habits and my understanding of literature, I was brought up British, with a British education demanding an understanding of a British context and British temperament. I discovered I had been just as under the influence of the Leavisite idea of eating up your broccoli as the rest of Christendom. You see one thing I was never told as a writer – and I am a glutton when it comes ideas about the craft – is that you can, if you really must, have fun.
It was quite the sea change for me. There was a week in Cyprus where an ex-pat couple asked if I’d look after their house while they visited home for a funeral – and I spent that time sitting on a veranda readings books set in hot climates, picking oranges from the tree just arms length from my chair – I read The Power and the Glory a few times over that week. A book that spoke to me about things I wanted to see discussed, and it also kept me turning the page, the action careered forward, every chapter perfectly poised to slip me into the next. It was a revelation.
I’d like to say I saw an affiliation with Greene, but that would be stretching it – his life was perhaps one of the most intriguing in modern literary history and I was basically a penniless hanger on, and not an MI6 agent masquerading as a journalist. The things that Greene was whispering to me back then, however, were not so easily deciphered, and it took another ten years and another two books for me to come back to him and see what I’d been left. I was not, you see, Oxford educated, and was never likely to be courted by MI6, and I was not as focussed or as talented a writer, and well it was a different time – we’d had punk, devolution (in Wales), and I’d frankly spent too much time reading the Americans – Greene would not have approved. But I had one thing important to an affiliation with Greene, in that I was “cropping up”.
Most of the characters in The Golden Orphans are based on real people I met in those six months I was out there. The only question for me, it turned out, was whether I wrote the story of what happened to me while I was out there – or whether I took what I saw and wrote something more fun, more compelling, and more “made up”. As I said, it took another 10 years to get to that, but get to it I did.
I’m not going to try and describe the murkiness of Cyprus to you – that’s what The Golden Orphans tries to do – but suffice it to say it is perhaps strikingly Greenian in its murkiness, in its ability to attract rogues and misfits. Cyprus is quite well-known for how attractive it has been over the years to Russian ne’er-do-wells, but it is also worth noting here the Lebanese pimp, the Egyptian cigarette smuggler, the Greek wideboys and shifty Israelis I met who didn’t make it into the book. There is something of the melting pot about the island, and exactly the sort of place you would have expected to see Greene.
In the end, I think it was Greene who showed me how to write about Cyprus. As a writer you never stop learning from others, but that was a bit of a bombshell.

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Gary Raymond
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Anne Bonny Q&A with @davidtallerman #Author of, The Bad Neighbour #CrimeFiction #Leeds @flametreepress

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The Bad Neighbour by David Tallerman
Synopsis:

When part-time teacher Ollie Clay panic-buys a rundown house in the outskirts of Leeds, he soon recognises his mistake. His new neighbour, Chas Walker, is an antisocial thug, and Ollie’s suspicions raise links to a local hate group. With Ollie’s life unravelling rapidly, he feels his choices dwindling: his situation is intolerable and only standing up to Chas can change it. But Ollie has his own history of violence, and increasingly, his own secrets to hide; and Chas may be more than the mindless yob he appears to be. As their conflict spills over into the wider world, Ollie will come to learn that there are worse problems in life than one bad neighbour.

Q&A:

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

A) I don’t know that there was a single idea, more a lot of nebulous somethings floating around a certain period in my life, when I moved back to the north of England and, like Ollie, bought a very cheap house in a relatively poor area, after months of looking at mostly grim and grotty properties. There was a lot in that experience that felt like it could be explored, and that I’d never really seen addressed anywhere else. But I guess the catalyst was the point when I found out, to my shock, that there was no dividing wall in my roof space and so nothing to separate me and my neighbour. That was really the point where all of the ideas began to swirl together and become the core of what felt like it could be a novel.

Q) What are your favourite authors and recommended reads?

A) Well, my favourite authors would take too long to list, but the ones that led me to shift toward writing crime after a decade as primarily a fantasy and science-fiction author were the excellent Charlie Huston, whose Hank Thompson trilogy was a definite influence, and Geoffrey Household, whose classic Rogue Male is surely the best thriller I’ve ever read. But, since I read a lot of nonfiction as research for The Bad Neighbour, I should put in a nod to that as well: Mathew Collins’s Hate was probably the best of those, a vital insight into what draws people to extreme right-wing politics and then what keeps them in that crowd when any idiot could see it’s not a great place to be.

Q) What were your childhood/teenage favourite reads?

A) How far back are we going? At one time and another, I was a huge fan of Enid Blyton, Willard Price, series like The Hardy Boys and The Three Investigators, and C. S. Lewis’s Narnia books. All of which probably makes me sound a bit older than I am; I pretty much lived on second hand books! By the time I hit double figures I’d graduated to more adult fantasy and science-fiction – I remember Frank Herbert’s The Green Brain as making a huge impression, and Asimov was an early favourite – and also to classic authors like Joseph Conrad and Henry James. Somewhere in the midst of that muddle I think you can find the roots of the kind of stories I’ve grown up to tell!

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

A) I used to be quite shy, and one of the biggest shocks of being published was that suddenly I was expected to sit on stages and talk in front of crowds of people. My first panel was probably the biggest I’ve done and was a hell of a wakeup call! But I realised quickly that I loved doing that stuff, and went from being terrified to appear on panels to cheerfully moderating them at any chance I got. I think the ultimate point in that process was when my frequent editor Lee Harris talked me into an event where me and a bunch of other writers had to concoct stories based on random prompts in precisely sixty seconds. It was exactly as difficult and terrifying as it sounds, or maybe a thousand times more difficult and terrifying than that, I’d never put myself through something like that again, and it was a total blast.

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

A) I’ve had different readers on different books, and a great many people have been supportive in various ways over the course of my career, but the one person who’s always been willing to read my work, and critique it, and fight me like a sonofabitch if he feels something doesn’t work, is my friend Tom Rice. I think he’s beta read every book I’ve written, as well as a fair few short stories, and I honestly don’t know how I’d do this stuff without him anymore.

DT
David Tallerman
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Anne Bonny #BookReview Never Saw It Coming by @linwood_barclay 4* #Mystery #Thriller @orion_crime ‘What happens when the scammer, gets scammed?’

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Never Saw It Coming by Linwood Barclay
My own copy
Synopsis:

Keisha Ceylon is a psychic. So she says. The truth is, she watches the news for stories of missing family members, gives it a few days, then tells these families she’s had a vision. She may be able to help. And by the way, she charges for this service, and likes to see the money up front.

Keisha’s latest mark is a man whose wife disappeared a week ago. She’s seen him on TV, pleading for his wife to come home, or for whoever took her to let her go. So she pays him a visit.

The trouble is, her vision just happens to be close enough to the truth that it leaves the man rattled. And it may very well leave Keisha dead . . .

NEVER SAW IT COMING is based on the novella CLOUDED VISION, which was published as part of the Quick Reads programme in 2011.

My Review:

I have read several Linwood Barclay novels now and haven’t been let down once! I am a huge fan of his style of writing and my favourite so far is definitely A Noise Downstairs.

Never Saw It Coming, centres around con artist ‘psychic’ Keisha Ceylon. She lives with her dead beat boyfriend Kirk and young son Matthew (10yrs). I think it is quite clear Keisha is motivated by financial means to ‘trick’ the bereaved into hearing what they want to hear. At first I felt uncomfortable reading her scenes thinking ‘how does she sleep at night?’ but then it became evident her tricks were soon to catch up with her. . . .

Keisha has recently pulled off a big con involving a local youth named Justin. When she sees the TV appeal from father and daughter Wendall and Melissa Garfield, pleading for the safe return of Ellie Garfield who is missing. It sparks an idea in Keisha and she begins her usual approach with the family in question. But Keisha isn’t quite prepared for Wendall and his offhand approach towards her. Wendall scares Keisha and for the first time, she begins to feel she may have picked the wrong family to con. . .

What happens when the scammer, gets scammed?

The novel is an intense psychological thriller, packed with shady characters and I really enjoyed the pace and the style. 4*
Next up on my Linwood Barclay TBR pile is Parting Shot.

LB
Linwood Barclay
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Anne Bonny #BookReview The Secrets You Hide by @KateWritesBooks 4* #LegalThriller #CrimeFiction #Psychological @BonnierZaffre

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The Secrets You Hide by Kate Helm
Review Copy
Synopsis:

Georgia Sage has a gift: she can see evil in people. As a courtroom artist she uses her skills to help condemn those who commit terrible crimes. After all, her own brutal past means she knows innocence is even rarer than justice.

But when she is drawn back into the trial that defined her career, a case of twisted family betrayal, she realises her own reckless pursuit of justice may have helped the guilty go free.

As Georgia gets closer to the truth behind the Slater family, something happens that threatens not only her career – but even her own sanity. At first, she fears her guilt around the events of her terrible childhood is finally coming back to haunt her.

The truth turns out to be even more terrifying . . .

My Review:

The Secrets You Hide is an impressive debut novel, it is packed full of twists and turns; and you never know who you can trust. Which includes our protagonist Georgia Sage.

The novel opens in 1997, with a young girl Suzanne locked in her room, as her father commits an atrocious and traumatic crime.
‘Dad has been acting strange for months’
What’s on the other side of the door?

We then are introduced to Georgia in 2017, She is a freelance court room artist and has sat in on some horrific crimes in her career. As we meet her, she is on the morning of a awkward one night stand. We discover via her internal thoughts she is not as content with her career choice as she’d have others believe.
‘What kind of person paints pictures of the worst humanity has to offer?’

Georgia does take great pride in her work and believes that her courtroom sketches could ultimately impact the jury/public opinion. I wasn’t as sure about this, but I was intrigued by the way in which Georgia sold it to the reader…
‘I build up the layers, to reveal people as they really are, the secrets they hide even from themselves’

We become aware Georgia lives in a large property and has no financial concerns. I think this explains why she is content with a career choice that cannot earn her much money. We also become aware she is a lonely woman, with a troubled past. It is at this point she becomes an unreliable narrator, of her own story.

‘The fear of life was stronger than the relief of death’

The case Georgia is currently in court sessions for is a he/she said rape trial. But Georgia is convinced of the man’s guilt. But that isn’t the case that the novel revolves around. It is a case from Georgia’s past.
A case she has always been uncertain if justice truly was served…..

A complex twisty psychological thriller, with a shocking ending! 4*

KH
Kate Helm
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Anne Bonny #BookReview A Spark Of Light by @jodipicoult 4.5* #NewRelease #LiteraryFiction @HodderBooks

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A Spark Of Light by Jodi Picoult
Review Copy
Synopsis:

The Center for women’s reproductive health offers a last chance at hope – but nobody ends up there by choice.

Its very existence is controversial, and to the demonstrators who barricade the building every day, the service it offers is no different from legalised murder.

Now life and death decisions are being made horrifyingly real: a lone protester with a gun has taken the staff, patients and visitors hostage.

Starting at the tensest moment in the negotiations for their release, A Spark of Light unravels backwards, revealing hour by urgent hour what brought each of these people – the gunman, the negotiator, the doctors, nurses and women who have come to them for treatment – to this point.

And certainties unwind as truths and secrets are peeled away, revealing the complexity of balancing the right to life with the right to choose.

My Review:

Jodi Picoult follows up her previous literary novel Small Great Things, with another novel that centres around a contemporary moral issue. With Small Great Things the focus was on race and racism. With A Spark Of Light, the focus is on abortion rights and female reproductive rights.

The author has been very clever is the way the narrative is written. She never takes a stance on either side of the debate, she simply allows the characters from both sides of the debate to tell their stories. So whether you are pro-life or pro-choice, this would make for a thought-provoking read.

The novel works in a backwards storyline, starting with the huge event (a gun man entering an abortion clinic) and telling the stories of the individuals and how they came to be their that day. Not just the female patients but the staff members and the people accompanying the patients.
It isn’t long until we discover that one of the young women inside is a 15yr old girl named Wren. And Wren isn’t just anyone’s daughter, she is the daughter of the hostage negotiator brought into deal with the armed man.

‘She shouldn’t have come here she should have stayed a little girl’ – Wren 15yrs

The gunman is named George Goddard and slowly we begin to learn his backstory and why he has entered the clinic with an eye for revenge. . .
‘An eye, a life for a life’

The novel informs us of the backstory of the 5 hostages held inside and the owner and doctor who run the clinic. I was absolutely captivated by their stories and they felt so incredibly real. It wasn’t until I got to the authors note that I realised the depth of research the author has undertaken on the topic.
It really is worthy of your time to read this part of the novel.

The novel does detail the communication between the gunman and the negotiator and we learn both men’s history’s as they attempt to share their personal stake in this situation. But only one man can put down the gun and give up, a man that it seems is beyond reaching. . .
‘Some men wear responsibility and some men are worn by it’

The novel also covers a completely separate abortion case. One of a young woman arrested for taking abortion medicines, because in the state of Alabama although abortion may be legal, there are strict legal guidelines to be followed and adhered too. If this legislation is not followed to the letter, the woman may find herself facing a lengthy sentence as does 17yr old Beth.

‘We are all capable of things we never imagined’

Although the novel is a fictional story HEAVILY based upon facts, research and statistics. You as the reader do become dis-attached from the reality. That is when Jodi Picoult cleverly reminds us of the real-life case of Roe v wade. As a UK reader, I know that Roe v Wade is an incredibly important piece of legislation; but I was unaware of who Norma McCorvey was and the history that surrounds the 1970’s case. The details are again delivered from an unbiased viewpoint.

Jodi Picoult is not trying to conform readers but asking them to see things from the other side of the debate. It is very intelligently done; and the author deserves to win some awards for her brave take on such a personal issue for many women.
The novel tackles the theme of abortion from various angles: the emotional trauma, religious reasoning by telling the stories of the individuals involved within.
The novel does also cover the shame/stigma associated with choice of abortion and I felt this was a very important theme to include.
‘Good women want to be mothers, bad women don’t’

Personally, I am pro-choice. I wouldn’t personally wish to undertake an abortion and I never have. I don’t believe it is something any woman WANTS to undertake. I just don’t think it is something I could undertake, there is no religious/moral reasoning for this. It is just a personal feeling.
I do however, 100% believe in the legal right for ALL women to have access to safe and accessible abortions. Because every woman in the world does not live my personal circumstances and we must accept that we cannot decide for others. . .
‘It wasn’t sex that made you a woman. It was having to make decisions, sometimes terrible ones’

This novel deals with some tough themes. No matter which side of the fence you sit, your personal views will be challenged by the individual stories.
But I think the author puts it best. . .

‘Laws are black and white. The lives of women are a thousand shades of grey’ – Jodi Picoult

4.5*

JP
Jodi Picoult
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