Anne Bonny #BlogTour Character Profile ~Natalya Ivanova ~ Black Wolf by @garry_abson #NewRelease #CrimeFiction #Russia #NatalyaIvanova #BlackWolf @TheMirrorBooks

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Black Wolf by G.D Abson

Synopsis ~

A young woman is found dead on the outskirts of St Petersburg on a freezing January morning. There are no signs of injury, and heavy snowfall has buried all trace of an attacker.

Captain Natalya Ivanova’s investigation quickly links the victim to the Decembrists, an anti-Putin dissident group whose acts of civil disobedience have caught the eye of the authorities. And Natalya soon realises she is not the only one interested in the case, as government security services wade in and shut down her investigation almost before it has begun.

Before long, state media are spreading smear stories about the dead woman, and Natalya suspects the authorities have something to hide. When a second rebel activist goes missing, she is forced to go undercover to expose the truth. But the stakes are higher than ever before. Not only could her pursuit of the murderer destroy her career, but her family ties to one of the victims threaten to tear her personal life apart.

A captivating, pacy thriller that plunges right into the beating heart of Putin’s Russia.

Character Profile Natalya Ivanova ~

The hero of my series, Senior Investigator Natalya Ivanova, lives in Vladimir Putin’s birthplace of Saint Petersburg (actually there is some doubt that Putin was even born a Russian citizen, but that’s another story). After spending her teenage years in Germany, Natalya has become an idealist, a European liberal who refuses to adapt to morally grey Russia; something that isn’t a problem for her pragmatic husband Mikhail, a more senior officer in the Criminal Investigations Directorate.

In MOTHERLAND, the first in the series, a disillusioned Natalya is responding to domestic violence calls, knowing the offenders will only be prosecuted in the most serious cases. When a Swedish student goes missing, she’s offered a chance to run a major investigation. The theme of MOTHERLAND, though, is of corruption. Webster’s dictionary describes it as powerful people engaging in illegal or dishonest behaviour, but there’s an older sense too, of corruption as an agent of decay. And while Natalya wants to be an idealist fighting the corrupt elite of the Russian establishment, the decay leaves no one untouched, not even an investigator and her family.

When a young woman’s half-frozen body is found by a road in BLACK WOLF, and the woman turns out to be a member of the Decembrists – a secretive group of anti-government activists – Natalya’s idealism goes into hyperdrive. She sees a killer at work despatching people she has more in common with than her own colleagues. After being removed form the case, she refuses to stop. As for the black wolf of the title, that’s Natalya. In this exchange with her superior, Lieutenant Colonel Dostoynov, he forces her to confront the darker origins of her idealism.

Dostoynov chuckled. ‘Let me ask you a question. Have you ever heard of a black wolf, Ivanova?’
‘No, Colonel.’
‘It’s a mutation caused by wolves mating with dogs in the distant past. Black wolves are outcasts, destined to be neither one thing nor the other. The wolves in their pack attack them for being different and they are shot for their trouble when seeking human company. That’s you, Ivanova. The Decembrists don’t trust you, and neither do we.’
‘Yes, Colonel.’
‘The interesting point though, Ivanova, is that despite outward appearances there is little difference between a black wolf and a grey – merely a few genes for the colour of the pelt. As for you, there is no record of you attending anti-government demonstrations or joining political groups. You rail against corruption, while married to an officer under investigation, and you live in an apartment beyond both of your means. Do you know what I think?’
‘Yes, Sir.’
‘There you are again with your little quips. I’ll tell you though, because it’s clear to anyone who looks at your file. Your rebellion started when your parents divorced. You were a resentful teenager who listened to punk long after it was fashionable. You hated your mother for bringing you back to Piter, and your father and sister for letting her do it. You think you’re fighting the Russian state, but you’re fighting your own family.’

Garry Abson
G.D. Abson
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Anne Bonny #BlogTour Character Profiles ~ On A Turning Tide by Ellie Dean @arrowpublishing #Saga #WW2Fiction #ww2

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On A Turning Tide by Ellie Dean
Synopsis:

Cliffehaven, October 1944

As the Allied troops draw closer to victory, life at Beach View Boarding House is still full of uncertainty.

Rosie’s plans for her wedding to Ron Reilly are plagued with misunderstandings. And when Ron takes on a secret assignment just days before they are due to say their vows, it seems their plans for a future together may be doomed.

Meanwhile, Peggy Reilly embraces her new managerial role at the uniform factory. It’s a welcome distraction while her husband Jim is still away fighting in the Far East. But when an old school adversary joins the factory’s ranks, Peggy must win her own battles on the home front.

As a new year dawns, hopes grow brighter for the return of loved ones – but a big sea change is still to come before Victory in Europe can be declared.

Victory is in sight, but the war is not yet won.

Character Profiles ~

Meet the Cliffehaven family with Ellie Dean

Ellie Dean is the Sunday Times bestselling Cliffehaven saga series which has an impressive total of sixteen novels in the series. Set on the picturesque English south coast, the Cliffehaven series follows the Reilly family and the comings and goings of their guests at the Beach View boarding house and how together they navigate the choppy waters of wartime in these heart-warming Second World War novels. Here, Ellie breaks down the most prolific characters of the series and everything you’d want to know about them before getting stuck into a Cliffehaven novel:

RONAN REILLY ~
Ron is a sturdy man in his mid-sixties who often leads a very secretive life away from Beach View. It turns out that the contacts, experience and skills Ron gathered in the previous war are useful in these current hostilities. Widowed several decades ago, he’s fallen in love with the luscious Rosie Braithwaite who owns The Anchor pub. Although she has never been averse to his attentions, for a long time she refused to let things get too intimate. Finally, though, it seems that the stars have aligned for Rosie and Ron, and they are engaged to be married soon.

Ron is a wily countryman; a poacher and retired fisherman with great roguish charm, who tramps over the fields with his dog, Harvey, and two ferrets – and frequently comes home with illicit game hidden in the deep pockets of his poacher’s coat. He doesn’t care much about his appearance, much to his daughter-in-law Peggy’s dismay, but beneath that ramshackle old hat and moth-eaten clothing beats the heart of a strong, loving man who will fiercely protect those he loves.

ROSIE BRAITHWAITE ~
Rosie is in her early fifties and in love with Ron, though for many years she had to remain married to her first husband, who was in a mental asylum.

She took over The Anchor twenty years ago and has turned it into a little gold-mine. Rosie has platinum hair, big blue eyes and an hour-glass figure – she also has a good sense of humour and can hold her own with the customers. She runs the pub with a firm hand, and keeps Ron at bay, although she’s not averse to a bit of slap and tickle. And yet her glamorous appearance and winning smile hides the heartache of not having been blessed with a longed-for baby, and now it’s too late.

Peggy is her best friend, and the family living in Beach View Boarding House has taken the place of the family she’d never had. Her greatest wish is to start a new life with Ron – even though he’s exasperating at times. And now, with the passing of her husband, Ron and Rosie are finally engaged. So long as they can make it to the wedding day, their future together looks brighter than ever.

PEGGY REILLY ~ 
Peggy is the middle sister of three, in her early forties, and married to Jim, Ron’s son. She is small and slender, with dark, curly hair and lively brown eyes, and finds it very hard to sit still. As if running a busy household and caring for her young daughter wasn’t enough, she also did voluntary work for the WVS before getting a job in the local uniform factory, yet still finds time to offer tea, sympathy and a shoulder to cry on when they’re needed.

She and Jim took over the running of Beach View Boarding House when Peggy’s parents retired – her older sister, Doris, thought it was beneath her, and her younger sister, Doreen, had already established a career in London.

Peggy has three daughters, two sons, and two grand-daughters. When war was declared and the boarding house business became no longer viable, she decided to take in evacuees. Peggy can be feisty and certainly doesn’t suffer fools, and yet she is also trying very hard to come to terms with the fact that her family has been torn apart by the war. She is a romantic at heart and can’t help trying to match-make, but she’s also a terrible worrier, always fretting over someone – and as the young evacuees make their home with her, she comes to regard them as her chicks and will do everything she can to protect and nurture them.

DORIS WILLIAMS ~ 
Doris is Peggy’s older sister, for many years she has been divorced from her long-suffering husband, Ted, who died very recently. She used to live in the posh part of town, Havelock Road, and look down on Peggy and the boarding house.

But her days of snooty social climbing and snobbishness are behind her. Having lived with Peggy at Beach View Boarding House after bombs destroyed her former neighbourhood, Doris has softened in her ways and although she’s still proud of her connections to high society, she’s also on much better terms with her sister and the rest of the family.

But despite all this, Doris is still rather lonely, especially with her only son now married and moved away. Could her recent change of heart also lead to a new romance?

On A Turning Tide by Ellie Dean is out on Thursday 24th January (published in paperback by Arrow, £6.99)

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Anne Bonny #BlogTour Character Profile #VioletRayfield ~ A Thimbleful Of Hope by @eviegrace2017 #NewRelease #Saga @arrowpublishing

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A Thimbleful Of Hope by Evie Grace
Synopsis:

A tale of triumph over adversity from the author of the Maids of Kent trilogy. Perfect for fans of Dilly Court and Rosie Goodwin.

Dover, 1864: Violet Rayfield leads a happy life with her family in a beautiful terrace on Camden Crescent.

But Violet’s seemingly perfect world is shattered when her father makes a decision that costs her family everything. Now Violet must sacrifice all she holds dear, including the man she loves.

As Violet strives to pick up the threads of her existence, a series of shocking revelations leaves her feeling even more alone.

But where one door closes, another opens, and the embroidery skills Violet perfected while a young woman of leisure win her vital work.

If she can find the strength to stitch the remnants of her family back together, there might just be a little hope after all…

A character profile of Violet Rayfield:

I’m delighted to introduce A Thimbleful of Hope and Miss Violet Rayfield whose story is set among the gas-lit streets of the historic Cinque port of Dover. Born in 1846, Violet cuts a striking figure with her deep blue eyes, and white-blonde hair which she wears scraped back into plaited loops at the nape of her neck. The only feature she would change if she could, is her nose which she feels is a little too large for her face.
Violet lives with her family and their servants in one of the best addresses in Dover, a large terraced house in Camden Crescent with views of the sea. Her father is a businessman, a successful shipping agent who’s made enough money to invest in a cargo ship and shares in the London Chatham and Dover Railway Company, meaning that his wife can lead a life of leisure, showing off their home and its contents to their friends and acquaintances.
Mr Rayfield employs a governess to educate Violet and her sisters, Ottilie and Eleanor, in the pursuits which are considered suitable for refined young ladies, and useful preparation for the advantageous marriages they’re expected to make. Although they’re taught how to play the piano, paint in watercolour and make polite conversation, Violet’s favourite hobby is embroidery. She has a natural talent for design as well as needlework, while she finds her younger sister’s desire to write sensationalist novels rather amusing.
One of her favourite things is her wooden sewing box with its velvet lining. It contains needles, chalk, scissors and her silver thimble, the tools with which she creates the butterflies in the latest ombre threads for the gown that she wears to her first dance, the ball to celebrate Dover’s annual regatta.
Violet is somewhat sceptical of her mother’s attempts to teach her and her sisters how to run a household. When Mrs Rayfield invites a decorator to give an estimate for redecorating parts of the house, Violet is unable to contain her laughter when he shows them proof that green wallpaper is no risk to their health. She also decides that she’ll never ask her servants to make mock turtle soup when shown how to make it herself – the sight of calf’s brain turns her stomach.
However, Violet is trapped by her upbringing and the expectations of society, and she knows that she’ll marry and take on an establishment of her own, just as her mother did. She’s kind, resourceful and resilient, and even when everything is against her, she finds the strength to carry on.
I hope you enjoy reading Violet’s story as much as I loved writing it. I felt quite bereft when I had to leave her and write, ‘The End’.
Evie x

evie grace
Evie Grace
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Anne Bonny #BlogTour #GuestPost by @joel_hames #NoOneWillHear – Who Is Sam Williams? Character profile #NewRelease #CrimeFiction

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No One Will Hear by Joel Hames
Synopsis:

Four murders
Four messages
One chance to catch a killer.

Renowned human rights lawyer Elizabeth Maurier lies dead, her body mutilated, her killer unknown. For DI Olivia Martins and her team, it’s a mystery. For the victim’s daughter Lizzy, a poet and academic with a shaky grasp on reality, it’s a tragedy. But for Sam Williams, the man Elizabeth fired a decade ago and hasn’t spoken to since, it’s a whole new world of pain.

Elizabeth’s death has stirred a sleeping past back to life. Former clients are darkening Sam’s door, old enemies returning, ancient cases reopening. It doesn’t help that DI Martins is on his case, the press are dogging his every step, and his girlfriend’s behaviour is increasingly erratic.

But Elizabeth’s murder is just the start. As Sam reluctantly digs his way back into the past, more truths will crumble into lies.

More certainties will shade to doubt.

And more innocent people will die.

Guest Post:

WHO IS SAM WILLIAMS?

Hello and thank you for hosting me today. I’d like to take a moment to introduce Sam Williams, the narrator of No One Will Hear and its central character.

Sam is a lawyer. Years ago he worked as a human rights lawyer at a top law firm fighting big, newsworthy cases with a senior partner, Elizabeth Maurier, who made a habit of rocking the establishment. Sam was a rising star. But things went sour. He won a case, saw a potential killer go free, and found it difficult to live with the consequences. He quit before he got himself fired. He set up his own firm and scrabbled around for clients. The clients he wanted were political prisoners, whistleblowers and victims of state brutality. The clients he got were street dealers, gangsters and liars.
A good lawyer, and a good man. With a bad rep.

Sam’s latest series of misadventures begins with Dead North, published back in March, in which Sam was summoned to Manchester by an old friend to try to get some sense out of a murder suspect. He got the guy talking, but it didn’t end well – where Sam’s involved, it rarely does. In No One Will Hear, things take a turn for the worse. Elizabeth Maurier, his old boss, has been murdered, and Sam is drawn reluctantly into his past, re-examining cases he thought dead and buried, meeting clients he hoped he’d never see again.

Although No One Will Hear is just the second book in this new trilogy, there’s plenty of back story for Sam fans to delve into. The Art of Staying Dead introduces Sam a few months before the events of Dead North, with his career at his lowest point, and throws him head first into a prison riot and a political conspiracy. Then there are the novellas, Victims and Caged, both dealing with his time at Mauriers, the friends, the enemies, the mistakes and the close shaves.

As a lawyer, Sam has his good points: his strength is getting under the skin of a case, questioning the apparently obvious, finding the one line that will open a reluctant informant’s mouth or frighten a suspect enough to start telling the truth. As a man, he makes plenty of mistakes: his focus rarely wavers from the job in hand, so it’s all too easy for him to miss the obvious happening right under his nose. And when he gets it wrong, people often wind up dead. Usually people he doesn’t know. Sometimes, people close to him.

No One Will Hear puts Sam to the test as never before. What looks like a thankless and unimportant task is a matter of life and death. What looks like a relationship in a rut hides something deadly. The powerful are merely floundering in their own weakness. People who come as friends can be enemies. And those who come as enemies can be friends. It’s up to Sam to figure all of this out before more innocent people die.

I hope I’ve given you enough to whet your appetite, and thanks again.

JH
Joel Hames
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#CharacterProfile Serjeant Catchpoll Marked To Die by Sarah Hawkswood @bradecote @AllisonandBusby #HistoricalFiction #Mystery

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Marked To Die by Sarah Hawkswood 
A Bradecote and Catchpoll mystery
Synopsis:
October 1143. His task dispatched, a mysterious archer melts back into the forest leaving a pile of corpses in his wake. The lord Sheriff of Worcester cannot ignore such a brazen attack on the salt road from Wich, nor the death of a nobleman in the wrong place at the wrong time. And so Hugh Bradecote and Serjeant Catchpoll are dispatched to hunt an elusive killer and his gang, and put a stop to the mounting attacks.

But it is not easy to get the culprits in their sights with a reeve keen to keep his position at all costs, a lord with his own ends to serve and a distrusting and vengeful widow to whom Bradecote is increasingly attracted.

Character profile:

SERJEANT CATCHPOLL
I never wanted my detectives to be flawless, or Holmesian in their ability to solve the crimes placed before them. What is important is that they are human, and also men of their time. In fact Catchpoll is very much a ‘proto-copper’ in the mould of Terry Pratchett’s Sam Vimes. I always think ‘Vimesy’ and Catchpoll would understand each other perfectly, and have an equal disregard for the Police and Criminal Evidence Act. They both fight dirty, have a deep sense of justice, and side with justice over the Law, which are not always totally in agreement. Both also know the power of creating their own myth, though neither would phrase it in that way.

Catchpoll, in terms of looks, has always been one man to me, taken from an image in a newspaper way back when the idea of the series formed in my head, and I saw a black and white portrait in a newspaper of the actor about to play a leading role at the RSC. I knew instantly ‘he’ was Catchpoll, from the gash of a mouth as a grim line in the grizzled stubble to the hard eyes with the deep crow’s feet at their corners, and the straggling, untrimmed hair. When I write him I see him as that every moment, and since Matt Addis has brought his voice to life in the audiobooks of the first two novels, I can hear the Worcestershire accent in every word. When it comes to the actual character of the man, he is in part someone I have known all my life. I am the product of three generations of Royal Marines senior NCOs, and, as some reviewers have noted, Catchpoll is your classic senior NCO. I drew heavily on my father’s pragmatism, practicality, and humanity. Catchpoll fulfils what he knows the people of Worcester expect the Sheriff’s Sergeant to be, unflappable, sometimes omniscient, tough and intolerant of fools. His view is that the criminals have to know that however mean and clever bastards they think themselves, Serjeant Catchpoll is for certain a meaner and cleverer one. He actively encourages this belief as a deterrence to crime in ‘his’ Worcester.

Thus Catchpoll seems as hard as nails, and prefers to be seen that way, but some things get through to his inner softness, which he then rushes to conceal. He is inclined to be tetchy, is always cynical, frequently insubordinate, and he has an inordinate and apparently illogical dislike of the Welsh, though that is explained in the sixth book in the series. He also talks to corpses, not in a ghoulish way, but because he is in essence ‘interviewing’ them as he would someone who could speak, and by asking the questions that their physical condition can answer, he finds it easier to see and store the information gleaned.

His relationship with Hugh Bradecote, the new Undersheriff, is one that develops gradually, from antipathy to grudging acceptance and then respect and trust. It had to be an arc, and a natural one at that, not some ‘buddy cop’ scenario. It has to be remembered also that outside of the important crimes, or crimes involving important people, he works alone, though he has now got Walkelin as his ‘serjeanting apprentice’, and imparting his knowledge to his protégé is something he quietly enjoys, though he would not tell Walkelin that. It also saves his creaky knees, of which he often complains.

Solving murder would not be an easy task in the twelfth century, and in reality the ‘cases’ where killers were caught were those where a community hue and cry brought in the perpetrator, not the Sheriff’s men hunting for clues. Having ‘detectives’ is an invention, but then the mediaeval murder mystery as a genre has to have them in some form. It would be a world where every piece of information and evidence has to be stored in memory, rather than annotated in a notebook, and the detective’s almost sole asset would be his ability to observe with all the senses and ‘read’ his fellow man. Both attributes are as useful to the modern detective too, of course, but now there are written statements, evidence bags, SOCOs etc. Sometimes Bradecote and Catchpoll make errors in their mental filing, forget something, give it too much value or not enough. I think it important that they can do that, and if the reader works out who did it before they do I do not think it matters. What is important is enjoying taking their journey to the solving of the crime. I certainly enjoy working with them.

SH1
Sarah Hawkswood
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