#BlogTour #Review #BreakingBones by @robwhite247 – Robert White @EndeavourPress #CrimeFiction #Preston

*Delighted to be kicking off the blog tour for this fantastic gritty northern novel!
I received an arc via the publisher in return for an honest review.*

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Breaking Bones by Robert White
Synopsis:

The streets of Preston are alive with music and banter.

But nothing can drown out the sound of breaking bones.

Inseparable since childhood and feared by their community, Tony, Eddie and Frankie are beyond the reach of justice.

The brutal gang, The Three Dogs, are a law unto themselves.

Detective Jim Hacker has watched The Dogs grow from thuggish youths to psychotic criminals. He seems to be the only one who wants to see their empire fall.

Meanwhile Jamie Strange, a young Royal Marine, finds himself embroiled in the lives of The Three Dogs when his girlfriend, Laurie Holland, cuts off their engagement… to be with the most dangerous of The Dogs: Frankie Verdi.

Jamie vows to save Laurie, before Frankie damns them both.

Every dog will have its day.

This gritty, addictive crime story, fizzes with the energy of the eighties.

My review:

Breaking Bones is set in my home town county of Lancashire. The novel centres around a criminal gang The Three Dogs. From their early years adolescence to their adulthood criminal empire. The copper attempting to take them down Detective Jim Hacker is met with a wall of silence.
The Three Dogs run the Moor Nook estate in Preston, they rule with drugs, money, violence and fear! Everyone is terrified of being on their bad side!

The Three Dogs, themselves as a gang, form an interesting mixture of violent gangsters. Preston’s answer to the Krays but set in the 1980s.
Leader of The Three Dogs, is Frankie Verdi. A violent psychopath, with no respect for anybody outside of his gang. Verdi is a terrifying individual, one you would hope never to meet.
Tony Thompson is the biggest in size of the three, but with learning difficulties, he is merely the muscle of the organisation. I would say Tony is the only one, that comes close to holding any empathy/sympathy for others.
Finally, we have Eddie Williams, Eddie is a complex character. He is a man living with a secret and a deep obsessional love for womaniser Verdi. He is ruthless with his ambition and devoted to the gang!
All three ‘dogs’ have a extremely strong bond of brotherhood. One that has already withstood many tests. By adulthood the bond is simply unbreakable. Making them an untouchable, savage and brutal gang!

Detective Jim Hacker is close personal friends with Harry Strange. They met when Hacker worked the investigation into Harry’s wife’s death. Harry’s young son Jamie is in the Royal Marines. Throughout the novel he faces war in the Falklands and the troubles of Northern Ireland. Usually with best friend and fellow squaddie Richard ‘Birdman’ Valance, by his side.
I felt the portrayal of Jamie and ‘Birdman’ as military best friends, very accurate indeed. My husband is a veteran of 15 year’s military service, it really is a brotherhood that never dies!
Jamie is dumped by fiancé Laurie Holland, as he returns to camp after his mother’s funeral. Laurie has set her sights on Frankie Verdi, a decision she will no doubt come to regret.
Laurie’s character has had a turbulent and abusive childhood, leading her to believe that access to power, respect and fear will bring safety! Laurie is sadly misguided in this belief.

“I’ll have you Laurie, make no mistake nothing and no one will stop me”
Frankie Verdi.

As the plot unravels we see all the characters mature and develop. Jamie experiences the brutality of war, which changes every man it touches. The Three Dogs rise in their criminal enterprises and Laurie learns some harsh truths, as the life of a gangster’s moll.
This novel is incredibly detailed, and I most definitely recommend! It has violence, gangs, drug empires and portrays the life of a violent gang kingpin. It vividly depicts how the love of money is the root of all evil!

It has a phenomenal ending, which literally reads right to the very last page!
4.5*

RW
Robert White 
Authors links:
Website: http://www.robertwhiteauthor.co.uk
Facebook: https://en-gb.facebook.com/robertwhiteauthor/
Twitter: @robwhite247

Endeavour Press
Website: http://www.endeavourpress.com
Twitter: @EndeavourPress
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/EndeavourPress/
Instagram: @endeavour_press

#BlogTour Illusion by @StephanieElmas @EndeavourPress #Extract Chapter four

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Illusion by Stephanie Elmas
Synopsis:

London, 1873.

Returning home from his travels with a stowaway named Kayan, Walter Balanchine is noted for the charms, potions and locket hanging from his neck.

Finding his friend Tom Winter’s mother unwell, he gives her a potion he learned to brew in the Far East. Lucid and free from pain, the old woman remembers something about Walter’s mother.

Walter is intrigued, for he has never known his family or even his own name – he christened himself upon leaving the workhouse.

Living in a cemetery with his pet panther Sinbad to keep the body snatchers away, word soon spreads of his healing and magical abilities and he becomes a sought after party performer.

During one of Walter’s parties, Tom is approached by Tamara Huntington, who reveals she is being forced to marry a man she does not love.

Will he and Walter come to her rescue?

Try as they might, sometimes all the best intentions in the world can’t put a stop to a bad thing, and she is soon married off to the cruel Cecil Hearst.

Drama and tragedy ensue, and Walter keeps his distance from Tamara.

That is until her stricken brother-in-law Daniel requires his magical healing, and he is forced back into her life.

With secrets beginning to emerge, Walter finds his mother may be a lot closer to home than he realised…

Filled with mystery, magic and larger than life characters, Illusion will keep you guessing until the very last page.

#Extract – Chpater Four:

Walter’s re-entry into [Tom’s] quiet life had given him an unexpected jolt. His friend’s grand plans, delicious and tempting as they were, sent rivulets of terror right through him. To risk all that he had carefully built for himself, for Ma, their small oasis of domesticity… It was terrifying, yes. But god knows it was exciting, too. Life with Walter was never anything but. And could his old friend, just possibly, be the one to make Ma better? It was almost too painful to hope.
He wiped a bead of sweat from his forehead and moved his chair an inch away from the raging hearth nearby. As if in response, Rosalind halted to pull a wrap a little further up her throat. She then flexed her fingers and resumed her battle with ‘Around the Pear Tree’.
And yet, he owed Walter. He owed him everything that he had now. Because if that gawky, strange named beanpole of a boy hadn’t taken him under his wing all those years ago, then Tom Winter would be dead by now. He’d be one of those small, starved, sackful of bones they throw into pits for people who have nothing to show for in this world. He’d be deep under the frosty earth, not sizzling by the fire in Rosalind Gallop’s parlour.
‘D’ya want to see something funny?’
Those had been Walter’s first words to him. Tom had found himself unable to respond. He was too cold and too hungry: a lost and shivering little boy of eight.
But the skull-like face didn’t seem to need his question answered. ‘I’m gonna count back from five and then you’re gonna smile, like you still know how to do it.’
They were sitting in the refectory: a hundred miserable, snot faced, filthy children, and Mrs Chester was serving out the slop that passed for their food. She heaved a gigantic pan up onto the table, clutching its iron handle.
‘Pigeon broth!’ she bellowed. ‘It’s burnt, mind.’
Walter winked and began to count down quietly. ‘Five, four, three, two …,’
The lid came up from the giant pot. Mrs Chester danced back, shrieking as the room fell into disarray. Because instead of emitting the odour of burnt, liquid bird, the pot unleashed three very much alive pigeons. They spiralled up from their prison, wings flapping a series of sharp slaps in Mrs Chester’s face, feathers cascading in the air. Everyone in the room bounced up from their seats, eyes wet with laughter. Pigeons swooped and chairs got knocked over as children took cover. Mrs Chester waved an old rag around her head, cursing loudly at them all.
At last the three birds settled, perching on one of the great beams that traversed the rectory ceiling. Calm descended and Mrs Chester was about to speak again when an impressive shower of bird shit suddenly splattered down onto one of the tables.
New gasps and squawks of hilarity rippled through the room. But Mrs Chester remained silent, dangerously so, and the laughter petered out.
‘Walter!’ she cried at last, her cheeks now streaked with lurid veins. She marched towards their table, grabbing Walter by the ear.
‘I got you smiling though, didn’t I Tom Winter?’ he said as she dragged him away, his gangly legs skimming in all directions across the floor. Tom trembled at the thought of what punishment awaited this strange boy. His own skin began to tingle sympathetically as he imagined the swipe of some vile instrument striking that papery skin, bruising those knobbly bones of his. But Walter had been right. Because when those pigeons came flapping out of that pot, he had smiled. More than that. He’d laughed, for the first time since his world had fallen apart.

Stephanie Elmas 2
Stephanie Elmas
Authors links:
Website: www.stephanieelmas.com/
Twitter: @StephanieElmas

 

Q&A with @McGuinnessRoss #Author of Five Parks @EndeavourPress #Psychological #Thriller #DebutNovel

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Five Parks by Ross McGuinness
Synopsis:

Five Parks.
Five blind dates.
Five potential kidnappers.
No escape.

After breaking off her engagement with Michael, Suzanne is still looking for The One. Bored with her freelancing job, she decides to take matters of both work and love into her own hands and Five Parks is born.

She starts a blog, offering five prospective suitors a chance of one of five dates in five London parks. Suzanne’s blog goes viral, amassing a huge following and even getting a column in a daily newspaper.

But after the fifth date – which she has no memory of – Suzanne wakes up shackled to a bed in a windowless room. The only items with her are a table, a chair and a laptop.

And an instruction from her captor: Keep Writing.

Q&A:

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

A) Five Parks is a psychological thriller about a freelance journalist who sets up a dating blog to go on five blind dates with five different men in five London parks. After the fifth date, of which she has no memory, she wakes up alone in a dark room, handcuffed. The only light comes from a laptop her captor has left her, along with a simple instruction… ‘Keep writing’. She must do so, as well as go through her previous blog posts, if she is to uncover which of her dates kidnapped her, and more importantly, find a way out.

Like Suzanne, the protagonist of my novel, I am a freelance journalist, and have been for the past three years, writing for Yahoo, Metro.co.uk, The Guardian and the BBC. Before that, I spent three years as news features editor at the Metro newspaper in London.

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

A) Every debut author has a long, drawn-out tale of climbing the mountain to publication, and I guess I’m no different. In 2013, an agent, Andrew Gordon at David Higham Associates, approached me and asked if I had any plans to write a book. We met and I pitched him several (mostly rubbish) ideas, but there was one he liked. So off I went for the next year and cracked out a first draft of what I hoped would be my debut novel. Only trouble was, just as I finished it, another book with a very similar jumping-off point was published. I decided to put what I had written to one side and concentrate instead on another idea, one that would eventually become Five Parks. I spent another year or so writing Five Parks and then after that Andrew found it a home at Endeavour Press.

Q) What are your favourite authors and recommended reads?

A) If a brilliant novel was published a year ago, you can guarantee I’ll get to it in another 12 months – I’m terrible! I’ve only just read Behind Her Eyes, Sarah Pinborough’s thriller that totally deserved its famous #WTFthatending hashtag. It actually should have had a #WTFthatbeginning hashtag, because once you read the WTF ending you can’t help thinking what happened at the start was even more out there. Brilliant book.

I absolutely love Tana French’s Dublin Murder Squad series. I went to university in Dublin and also worked there, and she captures the city’s seedy side so wonderfully. She’s one of those rare crime writers who doesn’t have to rely on plot developments to hold your attention – the writing on its own is just so fantastic.

Q) What were your childhood/teenage favourite reads?

A) I went straight from Roald Dahl into Stephen King, a literary journey I would highly recommend. Dahl’s Revolting Rhymes are still as horrifying as anything King has concocted. Most would-be authors say On Writing is King’s best book – and it kind of is – but it’s a fight between Salem’s Lot and The Dark Half in my 13-year-old brain. The best book I’ve ever read is still Frankenstein though – every single sentence is packed with ideas.

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

A) I did my own Five Parks book tour, leaving free copies on benches in each of the five London parks from the novel. In one of the parks, I overheard a reader who had picked up her copy say, ‘This has made my day!’ – which pretty much made mine.

I also found out recently that Five Parks has made it into its first book club, which is tremendous. Even if they spend just two minutes discussing the novel before moving on to talking about how crap work is or what they’re watching on Netflix (like every book club ever), Five Parks will still have made it into a book club!

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

A) Just like Suzanne, I was very secretive with Five Parks. The only person who knew I was writing a novel at all, apart from my agent, was my wife. I couldn’t have done it without her.

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Ross McGuinness
Authors links:
Twitter: https://twitter.com/McGuinnessRoss
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/ross.mcg.58

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#BlogTour #GuestPost #Location #Yemen Trading Down by @stephennorman49 @EndeavourPress @midaspr #NewRelease

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Trading Down by Stephen Norman
Synopsis:

Chris Peters loves his work in a multi-national bank: the excitement of the trading floor, the impossible deadlines and the constant challenge of the superfast computers in his care. And he loves his beautiful wife, Olivia. But over time, the dream turns sour. His systems crash, the traders turn on him, and Olivia becomes angry and disillusioned. So much bad luck.

Or is it? A natural detective, Chris finds evidence of something sinister in the mysterious meltdown of a US datacentre. A new kind of terrorist. But can he get anyone to believe him? His obsessive search leads him to a jihadist website, filled with violent images; a man beaten to a pulp in a Dubai carpark; and a woman in a gold sari dancing in the flames of her own destruction. Slowly, a tragic story from decades ago in Yemen emerges.

Too late, Chris understands the nature of the treachery, so close to him. His adversary knows every move and is ready to strike. Even his boss agrees: if this program is run, it will destroy this bank as surely as a neutron bomb. And Chris Peters has 48 hours to figure it out…

#GuestPost:

Sana’a
Yemen is one of the most romantic and mysterious countries in the world, and Sana’a is the jewel at the centre. The city is set in the highlands of western Yemen, surrounded by mountains and about 200 miles north of the port of Aden. To the north and east of Sana’a is the “empty quarter” of Saudi Arabia, which is mostly desert. If you head west, you get to the Red Sea.
In days gone by, Yemen was an important producer of rare spices, especially frankincense and myrrh which are harvested from slow-growing trees. It exported them along the Red Sea to ancient Egypt, to India across the Indian Ocean, and by camel north, to Jerusalem and the Mediterranean. The ships that sailed to India came back to the port of Aden, laden with precious articles from the Far East. There they would unload their cargoes onto camel trains which headed up to Sana’a, through the Empty Quarter to Jerusalem and beyond. It took 40 days to get to Jerusalem across the desert.
If you visit Sana’a, you should try to stay in the Old City. We stayed in a wonderful guest house called Felix Arabia (Happy Arabia) which is several Yemen family homes put together. You can stay there and get some sense of what life in a Yemen house is like. Small boys will volunteer to take your suitcases up to your room, up the high, steep steps. It is best to let them!
Every morning you will be woken by the wonderful calling of the muezzins across the City singing the dawn prayer:
God is great,
There is no god except God
And Mohammed is his messenger
Hurry to prayer,
Hurry to success
Prayer is better than sleep
God is great…

You may or may not agree that “prayer is better than sleep” but it is an unforgettable experience.
The buildings of Sana’a
The Old City is a World Heritage site, and for good reason. The city is at least 2,500 years old. According to popular legend, it was founded by Shem, the son of Noah. It has 100 mosques, surrounded by the extraordinary Yemeni family buildings that look like miniature brown skyscrapers.
The early Christians were active here, and a large cathedral was built, but not much is known about it because – being close to Mecca and Medina – it became an important centre for Islam and the Great Mosque of Sana’a was built c. 700AD using the materials from the cathedral and a palace. You can see it still standing today with its huge minarets. You will be shown stones in the wall with crosses which are said to come from the cathedral. It’s amazing to think that this ancient building was itself built from the stones of a previous Christian building which was itself many centuries old when it was pulled down and re-used.
An even larger modern mosque was built in 2008, the Saleh Mosque, which is a beautiful building, especially at night.

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© Oleg Znamenskiy

The Saleh Mosque in the early morning

The most distinctive feature of the Yemen landscape, both in Sana’a and across the interior of the country are the tower houses. There are 6,500 of them in the Old City. These tall, thin buildings, built from mud bricks and beautifully decorated with white stones and glass, are typically the home of a single extended family, and they are laid out inside in a standard way. The top floor is the mafraj. This is an airy room with coloured windows on all sides. This room is reserved for the men of the family. Here they come in the heat of the day and chew qat. In the evening, the city glows with coloured lights like so many Chinese lanterns. These are the illuminated windows of the mafraj.

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© Oleg Znamenskiy

The Old City at night
Below the mafraj is the family room, and below that the dining room and below that the quarters for women and children. There are staircases which run up the side of these buildings. The steps are big and very steep, and must keep the family fit.

The markets
Visiting the souks of Old Sana’a is a must. There are 10 such markets including cloth, cattle, brassware, silver and Salt. The Salt market is a wonderful place; you can buy not only salt but spices of all kinds, piled in great heaps and smelling exotic. The Persian family in Trading Down have a stall at the Salt Market.

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© Oleg Znamenskiy

The people of Yemen
They are a proud people, strongly tribal and very tough.
Yemeni men dress in Arab dress, with a long, flowing thawb, or a simple tunic with trousers. It can be very cold, and most men will wear a woollen jacket and a headscarf. Many of them look quite threatening like these three with their large, curved dagger slung from a large leather belt.

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© Oleg Znamenskiy

As you walk the streets in the afternoon, you will see men and boys sitting on the side of the road, chewing leaves. This is qat. Qat is the ruin of Yemen. It is a bush which is grown all over the country and a lot of precious water is consumed in growing it. Everyday, thousands of qat trees are torn down and brought into the city and sold by roadside vendors. You can go and choose the tastiest shoots yourself. To consume it, you chew on the leaf, making it into a ball which you keep inside your cheek. A mildly intoxicating substance is released into your saliva by chewing, and gives you a mild lift. Qat is addictive and when we were there, about 90% of men and 40% of women are addicted to it.

Women of Yemen
Most of the women you will see in Sana’a will be wearing black, and some form of veil. The married women will tend to conceal their eyes behind the veil. There is a special form of burkah worn in Yemen, but it is not typically worn in Sana’a. Most women will wear the less restrictive niqab. As you walk behind them, look closely! You will often get a glimpse of sandals and blue jeans underneath.
My daughter, who stayed in Sana’a to learn Arabic, used to go to the hospital once a week to teach English. It was hard for the nurses and female doctors to learn English because the English teachers were mostly men and they were not allowed to mix with them.

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1© Oleg Znamenskiy

Romantic and mysterious though it is, Sana’a is not a place to visit today. It is at the heart of a brutal civil war. It has been bombed and the water and electricity supplies cut off. Cholera is raging through Yemen, and a large scale famine is threatened. I hope that one day it is once again a place for people to discover and enjoy.

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Stephen Norman
Author bio:
Stephen Norman spent 20 years at the forefront of investment banking IT, facing industry turbulence, from the rise and fall of the dotcoms, the destruction of 911 and the banking collapse of 2008. He has worked in financial centres across the world – from London and New York, to Hong Kong and Tokyo – and has fulfilled a range of high powered roles including Chief Technology Officer at Merrill Lynch and an unusually long 7 year stint as CIO of RBS Global Markets. In 2012, he left the world of finance to focus on his writing. His chilling debut novel, Trading Down is set between London and Yemen and is published by Endeavour Press.
Twitter: @stephennorman49

 

Guest Post: The inspiration behind Stolen Lives by Matthew Pritchard

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From 2nd May to 5th May – Kindle readers can enjoy Stolen Lives for free!

Here is the inspiration and history behind the novel itself:

Illegal Adoptions and Stolen Lives – Spain’s Secret Shame

Spain’s civil war casts a long shadow – it is still an occasional cause of argument in bars and at family gatherings – but as the years pass, its effect on Spanish society diminishes.

Except in one case. 

Television and newspaper reports continue to appear detailing the judicial exhumation of stillborn babies. What the police find in the coffins beggars belief: sometimes there is nothing; other times, there are bags of sand, or bones belonging to much older children; in one case, the remains of a dog were found inside a coffin.

And every time these coffins are opened, Spanish society is forced to confront a secret that is almost too terrible to contemplate: the theft of tens of thousands of children from their rightful parents and given away in illegal adoptions.

The practice began immediately after the war. The state and church ran hospitals, and doctors and nuns targeted families stigmatised as being “Reds” or the poorly educated. Their modus operandi was very simple: upon birth, the child would immediately be whisked to a separate room. A doctor or nurse would then go straight back to the mother, inform her that her child had died, and that the state would pay for the burial. 

In some clinics and hospitals, they even went as far as to have a dead baby’s body frozen, which could then be presented to parents as “proof” of the child’s death. Nuns even took photos of mother’s holding their supposedly dead babies, to allay the suspicions of other family members, and then the mothers were hoofed out onto the street. One mother describes being discharged within an hour of giving birth, ‘numb from grief and with my thighs still wet with blood’.

The real babies were then given away to families close to the regime, or sold to those who could afford to pay for them. And meanwhile, empty coffins were being buried all over Spain. 

Doctors, priests, nuns, and orphanages were all complicit in this and could act with total impunity: with the Franco dictatorship having a firm hold on Spanish society, no one ever dared questions – but because of this overconfidence, the paperwork relating to the illegal adoptions was extremely sloppy and left paper trails all over the place. One clinic had listed 37 stillbirths due to “earache” in a two year period, all signed by the same doctor. 

Once democracy returned to Spain, people began to ask questions, but it was not until the onset of widespread internet access that the scale of the problem became apparent. People who had assumed their case was an isolated one, suddenly realised there were dozens of others; and those dozens became hundreds; and then thousands; and then tens of thousands. 

It is now estimated that the problem could even run into hundreds of thousands of cases between 1939 and 1987 – the practice was so ingrained in Spanish society that it continued for 12 years after Franco’s death in 1975.

And so, the heartache continues as mothers seek children, siblings seek brothers and sisters, and men and women seek parents. And every time those coffins are dragged from the ground, a little part of Spain’s soul is dragged with them.

Matthew Pritchard’s new crime thriller, Stolen Lives, is based on the scandal of the illegal adoptions and is published by Endeavour Press.

Stolen Lives

Stolen Lives by Matthew Pritchard

The synopsis:

Almería, Spain. A missing girl is found in a landfill, dead…

The right-wing press has an obvious spin: a drug user with prior convictions and a history of running off pays for the hazards of her lifestyle.

Journalist Danny Sanchez doesn’t buy it. Teresa del Hoyo had been clean for over a year.

More importantly, she’d been looking into murky events dating back to the Spanish Civil War, and of her two partners in crime, one is missing and the other is dead.

A simple article about the murder of a young woman for the tabloids leads Danny to the morbid, heart-breaking stories of the niños robados por el franquismo, children reported dead to their Republican parents to be given to “approved” families during Franco’s reign.

Danny knows he’s struck something big as he tries to connect Teresa’s political activism and the Church’s interest in the case with her research into the history of Almería.

With every step bringing him closer to the truth, it becomes clearer that these 50-year-old secrets still hang over the town… and that someone would kill to keep them.

Authors Links:
Web: https://matthewpritchard.co.uk/
Twitter: @whynpritchard