Anne Bonny #BlogTour #Extract The Murder Pit by @mickfinlay2 #NewRelease #HistoricalFiction @HQstories @HQDigitalUK #MurderPit Where Evil Lies Buried. . .

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The Murder Pit by Mick Finlay
Synopsis:

London Society takes their problems to Sherlock Holmes.
Everyone else goes to Arrowood.

1896: Sherlock Holmes has once again hit the headlines, solving mysteries for the cream of London society. But among the workhouses and pudding shops of the city, private detective William Arrowood is presented with far grittier, more violent, and considerably less well-paid cases.

Arrowood is in no doubt who is the better detective, and when Mr and Mrs Barclay engage him to trace their estranged daughter Birdie, he’s sure it won’t be long before he and his assistant Barnett have tracked her down.

But this seemingly simple missing person case soon turns into a murder investigation. Far from the comfort of Baker Street, Arrowood’s London is a city of unrelenting cruelty, where evil is waiting to be uncovered . . .

Extract:

Chapter One

South London, 1896

Horror sometimes arrives with a smile upon her face, and so it was with the case of Birdie Barclay. It was early New Year, the mud frozen in the streets, smuts drifting like black snow in the fog. Shuddering horses trudged past, driven on to places they didn’t want to go by sullen, red-faced men. Crossing sweepers stood by waiting for punters to drop them a coin, while old folk clutched walls and railings lest they should slip on the slick cobbles, sighing, muttering, hacking up big gobs of germs and firing them into the piles of horse dung as collected at every corner.

We hadn’t had a case for five weeks, so the letter from Mr Barclay inviting us to call that afternoon was welcome. He lived on Saville Place, a row of two-bedroom cottages under the train lines between the Lambeth Palace and Bethlem. When we reached the house we could hear a lady inside
singing over a piano. I was about to knock when the guvnor touched my arm.

‘Wait, Barnett,’ he whispered.

We stood on the doorstep listening, the fog bunched thick around us. It was a song you’d often hear in the pubs near closing time, but never had I heard it sang so very fine and sad, so full of loneliness: ‘In the gloaming, oh my darling, when the lights are dim and low, and the quiet shadows
falling, softly come and softly go.’ As it built to the refrain, the guvnor shut his eyes and swayed with the chords, his face like a hog at stool. Then, when the last line came, he started singing himself, flat and out of time, drowning out the lady’s mournful voice: ‘When the winds are sobbing faintly, with a
gentle unknown woe, will you think of me and love me, as you did once long ago?’

I think it was the only line he knew, the line that spoke most direct to his own battered heart, and he ended in a choke and a tremble. I reached out to squeeze his fat arm. Finally, he opened his eyes and nodded for me to knock.

A broad, pink-faced fellow opened the door. The first thing you noticed was his Malmsey nose, round at the end and coated in fine fur like a gooseberry; beneath it the thick moustache was black though the hair around his bald scalp was white. He greeted us in a nervy voice and led us through to the front room, where a tall woman stood next to a pianoforte. She was Spanish or Portuguese or somesuch, dressed in black from head to toe.

‘These are the detective agents, my dear,’ he said, wringing his hands in excitement. ‘Mr Arrowood, Mr Barnett, this is my wife, Mrs Barclay.’

On hearing our names a warm smile broke over her face, and I could see from the way the guvnor bowed and put his hand flat on his chest that he felt humbled by the lady: by her singing, her deep brown eyes, the kindness in her expression. She bade us sit on the couch.

The small parlour was packed out with furniture too big for it. The pianoforte was jammed between a writing desk and a glass-fronted cabinet. The couch touched the armchair. A gilded Neptune clock took up most of the mantel, its tick ringing out maddeningly loud.

‘Now,’ said the guvnor, ‘how about you tell us your difficulty and we’ll see what we can do to help?’

‘It’s our daughter, Birdie, sir,’ said Mr Barclay. ‘She was married six months ago into a farming family, but since the wedding we’ve heard nothing from her. Nothing at all. No visits, no letters, not even this Christmas last. I’ve twice tried to call for her but they wouldn’t even let me in the house! Said she’s out visiting. Well, sir, it simply cannot be true.’

‘Surely young ladies visit?’ asked the guvnor.

‘She’s not the type to visit, sir. If you knew her you’d understand that. We’ve been driven wild with worry, Mr Arrowood. It’s as if she’s disappeared.’

Mick Finlay
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Anne Bonny #BlogTour #Extract #ForTheMissing by @Linabdtr Lina Bengtsdotter #Scandi #CrimeFiction #NewRelease @orionbooks @orion_crime

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For The Missing by Lina Bengtsdotter
Synopsis:

She must find Annabelle. Before it’s too late.

THE MISSING
Nora’s daughter Annabelle has disappeared, last seen on her way home from a party.

THE LOST
Gullspång’s inexperienced police are wilting under the national media spotlight – and its residents desperate for answers.

THE CLOCK IS TICKING . . .
Stockholm DI Charlie Lager must return home to find Annabelle, and then get out of town as soon as she can. Before everyone discovers the truth about her . . .

Extract:

Charlie woke up at seven. She never slept well after a night of drinking, particularly not in a strange bed. She looked over at the man next to her. Martin, was that his name? And what had she told him her name was? Maria? Magdalena? She always lied about her name when she picked up men in bars – her name
and her profession. Mostly so they wouldn’t try to look her up, but also because nothing was a bigger turn-off than jokes about handcuffs and women in uniform. Being easily bored was one of her many problems.

Anyway, this Martin bloke had come up to her to ask why she was sitting alone at the bar, then without waiting for a reply he had bought her a drink, and then another; and when the place closed they had moved on to his house. Martin was not the type go home with someone on the first date; he had told
her so while fumbling with his front door lock. And Charlie had replied that she was. Martin had laughed and said he really liked women with a sense of humour and Charlie hadn’t had the heart to tell him she wasn’t kidding.

She got up quietly. Her head was pounding. I need to get home, she thought. I need to find my clothes and then get home.
Her dress was on the floor in the kitchen, she didn’t bother looking for her knickers. She had almost made it out when she accidentally stepped on a toy that started playing a loud tune, Mary Had a Little Lamb. ‘Fuck,’ she whispered. ‘Goddamnit.’

She could hear Martin moving in the bedroom. She quickly found her way to the front door, grabbed her shoes, opened the door and ran down the stairs.
She was unprepared for the light that hit her as she stepped out onto the street; it took her a moment to sort through her sensory impressions and pin down exactly where she was. Östermalm, Skeppargatan. A taxi would get her home in five minutes. She looked around, but there were no taxis in sight, so she started walking.

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Anne Bonny #BlogTour #Extract The Illumination Of Ursula Flight by @writercrow @AllenAndUnwinUK #NewRelease #Literature

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The Illumination Of Ursula Flight by Anna – Marie Crowhurst
Synopsis:

‘ON THE 15TH DAY OF DECEMBER IN THE YEAR OF OUR LORD 1664, A GREAT LIGHT BLOOMED IN THE DARK SKY…’

Born on the night of a bad-luck comet, Ursula Flight has a difficult destiny written in the stars. Growing up with her family in the country, she is educated by a forward-thinking father who enables her to discover a love of reading, writing and astrology. Ursula dreams of becoming a famous playwright, but is devastated to learn she must instead fulfil her family’s expectations and marry. Trapped and lost, Ursula plots her escape – but her freedom will come at a price.

As Ursula’s dangerous desires play out, both on and off the stage, she’s flung into a giddy world of actors, aristocrats and artistic endeavours which will change her life irrevocably.

A gutsy coming-of-age story about a spirited young woman struggling to lead a creative life, this uplifting tale vividly evokes the glittering world of Restoration-era theatre. For anyone who has ever tried to succeed against the odds, The Illumination of Ursula Flight is an inspiring journey of love and loss, heartbreak and all-consuming passion. This is a debut pulsating with life for readers of Jessie Burton, Sarah Waters and Sarah Perry.

Extract:

Birth

On the fifteenth day of December in the year of our Lord 1664, a great light bloomed in the dark sky and crept slowly and silently across the blackness: a comet. The prating in the coffeehouses was of the evil the fiery star portended. Such astrological phenomena, it was known, brought war, famine, disease, fire and flood; the fall of kingdoms, the death of princes, mighty tempests, great frosts, cattle-plague and French pox. Every evening afterwards, though snow lay on the ground and the air bit with frost, men across the land threw open their windows and went out of their doors in cloaks and mufflers to gaze at the heavens, necks stretched up, hands shielding eyes, crooking long fingers to trace the burning thing that flamed across the night, while dogs moaned in their kennels and wise women chanted incantations against bright malignant spirits.

My mother, then in her fourth lying-in for childbed, had heard the tattle, by letter, from her sister, and begged her lady to open up the chamber curtains, the windows being tight fastened against ill winds. A fire blazed in the grate and bitter herbs got from the apothecary smoked in pots. My mother, taut and swollen, sweated in her night-shift.

It was hard to see at first, my mother said: that night the sky was so pricked with stars, the air so thick and dark. But as she gazed, wet-faced, propped full-bellied on her pillows, there broke out from under a cloud a great white star with a flickering tail. At the sight of it she cried out in wonder, and, I think, in fear, and doing so broke her water: her agonies began.

Thus began, too, my journey into the world: she, crying and clawing, as I strained, sightless and bloodied, to meet the wonder which that very moment was bursting through the empyrean. With a wrench, I was born, into the deepest part of the night, blinking, kicking, then so strangely silent they thought me dead, just as the comet ended its glowing travails and disappeared from earthly sight.

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Anna – Marie Crowhurst
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Anne Bonny #BookReview & #Extract The Secret by @jenwellswriter 5* Genius #Saga #NewRelease @Aria_Fiction #DualTimeline #HistoricalFiction #TheSecret

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The Secret by Jennifer Wells
Review Copy
Synopsis:

A tightly woven story full of secrets and lies with a breathtaking finale.

London 1920 – Troubled young dancer, Lily, is invited to remote Elmridge House, home of the wealthy theatre benefactor Dr Cuthbertson to escape her troubled past. An isolated guest room and a surprise pregnancy leave her longing to return to the stage and her London life. She soon discovers that Elmridge House is not all that it seems – the house holds secrets which make it difficult for her to leave.

Missensham 1942 – Young nurse Ivy Watts is called out to a patient at Elmridge House, home of the aloof Mrs Cuthbertson and reclusive Dr Cuthbertson. Ivy is entranced by the opulence of the house and its glamorous past, but when she tells her mother about Mrs Cuthbertson, her mother becomes fearful and forbids her from returning to the house. What secrets does Elmridge House hold? And why does Lily’s mother live in fear of the mysterious Mrs Cuthbertson?

My Review:

I have previously read and reviewed The Murderess by Jennifer Wells, which I found to be perfect for a Sunday afternoons reading. With The Secret, I personally think the author has really stepped up her game, in carving out her name within the saga genre.
I was absolutely gripped throughout and found both historical era’s to be fascinating. From the 1920s ballet scene, to the district nursing in a humble village in the 1940s.
The author has managed to create drama that lures you to both timeframes.

The novel opens in 1943, with Ivy living in fear but from what or whom we are not sure. Then the novel jumps back to September 1942 and begins to tell the tale of what lead to Ivy’s fear. We learn of her first acquaintance with Mrs Cuthbertson!
Ivy is a local nurse, but she works specifically within the area of adoption and often in the upper most secrecy, given the era. I got the impression Ivy’s heart was always in the right place. She just simply never had enough life experience to know any different. Ivy has grown up in poverty and taking care of her ailing mother, who has suffered childhood polio. They scrape by with the help of their good friend Sadie. The midwife that also brought Ivy into the world.

Mrs Cuthbertson comes across at first as a cantankerous old battle axe. Especially, when she first meets Ivy demanding un-prescribed medication for her son. Why does she want the medication? And what is it that made her so set in her horrid ways?

‘There was something not right with her mind’ 

Ivy makes friends with fellow nurse Bridget, whom is brash and gossipy. Also quiet local assistant Violet. The three form the team at the Missensham Cottage Hospital. But it is when Ivy begins snooping into Mrs Cuthbertson’s need for medication, that she uncovers a world of secrets that will shake her to the core…

Past secrets come to life and we uncover a wealth of knowledge about Ivy and everyone she knows. It is a clash of culture, class structure and life choices made, that brings all the characters together in their shared past deeds.

I love that women’s issues lay at the heart of the story. The dual timeline of 1920s/1940s works exceptionally well, given that these era’s generated so much change for women of the future. There is a shocking showdown at the end and one I NEVER saw coming at all! With extra side note ‘THAT LAST PAGE!!!!5* Genius 

Jennifer Wells
Jennifer Wells
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Extract:

I thought nothing more of Mrs Cuthbertson for almost a week. It turned out that she was Bridget’s problem and I was glad of it. Even when I walked in on Bridget fumbling through the medicine cabinet, her hands full and her face guilty, I said nothing and turned on my heel. Over the week, however, I did notice some changes in Bridget; she had a new coat from Partridge’s, had lightened her hair from its original chestnut to a shade that was almost blonde, and when I borrowed one of her textbooks, I found six new pound notes which sprang into tight curls when I opened the pages.
But Bridget’s luck did not last and she was called back to her family home in Fulham on Friday morning as an unexploded bomb had been found at the back of her parents’ garden, leaving them shocked and in need of their daughter. It was customary for a nurse to have twenty-four hours off for a family emergency and I wondered how I would cope without Bridget, but between us, Violet and I managed to tend to all the patients, changing dressings and administering medicines as if we had been doing it for years.
It was not until I came off shift on Sunday morning that I felt I could really relax. I left the hospital and went straight to the nurses’ house, putting the kettle on before slumping down in the armchair by the stove without even changing out of my uniform. An hour had passed since Bridget had called the main hospital from a telephone box outside Parsons Green tube station with the news that she was on her way back to Missensham and, although she missed the doctor’s rounds, I was relieved to know that she was returning.
When the phone in the hallway rang, I answered, expecting Violet’s voice on the hospital line with a request for help on the ward or a notification about more patients transferring in from London. But when I took the call, I knew instantly that it was not Violet.
‘Nurse, are you there?’ Despite the crackle on the line, the woman’s voice was unmistakable and as I heard the words, I could imagine them on the lips of the night visitor, the woman who had sat opposite me at the kitchen table and demanded medicine that had not been prescribed.
I glanced at the clock, the hand clicking on to the hour as I did so. It was ten o’clock. This was the call that Bridget usually took from the woman known in the book as Mrs Cuthbertson and as she spoke her name, I remembered how I had heard it on Bridget’s lips exactly one week ago when she had stood in the hallway and answered the telephone just as I was now. As I had suspected, the woman who had visited me in the kitchen and the woman Bridget listed in the book were the same.
‘With whom am I speaking?’ she said, but the words had a tone to them which made me unsure whether she wanted an answer or just to know that someone was listening and ready to take orders.
‘This is Nurse Watts at the Missensham Cottage Hospital Nurses’ House,’ I said, but my greeting seemed to be a detail that did not matter to her.
‘I need someone up at Elmridge House today,’ she said. ‘As soon as you can, for I must attend a church service and my son cannot be left alone for long.’
Her voice was sharp and somehow I felt as if I was being scolded for breaking an engagement I did not know I had agreed to. I took a deep breath. ‘I am afraid that there are no nurses working at this time,’ I said. ‘If you have a medical emergency, I can telephone a doctor or ambulance for you, but if you require a routine visit from a nurse, you may telephone Dr Crawford at the surgery on the green and he can get you added to the rounds of the district nurse…’ but my last words were lost under her own as if they did not matter.
‘I cannot wait for the district nurse,’ she said. ‘This is a private appointment and I will pay you directly. I understood that a nurse would be free from duties at this time. I assume you are not on duty as you have answered this number.’
‘Well, I…’ I glanced at the clock again, but it told me only that it was a few minutes past the hour and not what time Bridget would arrive back. ‘All right,’ I said, reluctant to let down Bridget’s patient. ‘A nurse can come out to you this morning, but it will not be Nurse Bradshaw, for she has been called away unexpectedly. It will be me, Nurse Watts, and I—’
‘I shall need to leave Elmridge House on the half hour,’ she said, ‘so be prompt. It is on the Oxworth Road. I need you at half past ten, it will only take you half an hour, so you have sufficient notice, and don’t come smelling like a brothel this time.’
‘Please,’ I said. ‘I am not the nurse who—’
‘Oh, and be sure to bring the medicine.’
‘Which medicine?’ I said. ‘For I cannot bring anything that has not been prescribed by—’
But the line was already dead.
I put the receiver down and stared at my reflection in the mirror above the telephone table. I took off my cap and smoothed my hair back into a bun, then I removed my apron and belt, leaving just my blue dress. We were forbidden from wearing our uniform off duty, but the plain blue dress was the only thing I could imagine a private nurse wearing and I remembered how I had seen Bridget leave the nurses’ house without her cap and apron the previous Sunday. I sat on the floor next to my nursing bag. I checked the contents – everything was clean and replenished, but it was just the usual array of metal instruments, tubing and jars, and I did not know what else to take. Then I remembered the little bottle of Luminal and the caller’s insistence that I bring ‘the medicine’. Maybe now she had a prescription to show me – I would take some just to be sure.
I ran across the lawn and through the trees to the back of the hospital, passing a startled Violet as I barged through the back door. In the sluice room I found the key to the medicine cabinet under the kidney bowl and rummaged for the little glass bottle with the blue label among the packets and jars. I found the Luminal near the back. There were a few bottles and I fancied that one would not be missed and thought that I could always sign it out later if Mrs Cuthbertson did have a prescription to show me after all. Then I ran back to the nurses’ house to collect my bag and burst in through the kitchen door.
‘Nurse?’
A girl perched on the chair by the fire. She was barely bigger than a child and wore a floral print pinafore and a cardigan which seemed two sizes too big for her. By her feet was an old-fashioned wicker basket lined with straw and as many real eggs as I would usually see in a whole month.
Her face was not one that I had seen before and something about her made me think of an evacuee, although since the bombs had started to fall on the outskirts of London, Missensham was no longer considered a safe area and most evacuees had returned, which made me wonder if she had anywhere left to call home.
‘Can I help you?’ I asked impatiently. ‘For I must go out to a patient.’
‘I heard that you can do things for ladies in trouble,’ she said in a voice with more depth than I expected and I realised her a woman, but only just.
‘Oh!’ I said. ‘Yes, of course,’ but could manage nothing more. To see such a girl sat where I had seen so many others was a shock to me. I was more used to dealing with middle aged women who could not afford another mouth to feed, farmers’ wives fearing they had no strength left to carry another and women who were having flings with soldiers. That someone like her would come to me asking for help was something that I could not quite understand. Somehow she was in the same situation as these women, yet she was so unlike them.
‘Is this not the right place?’ she said. ‘For I heard that—’
‘Yes, yes,’ I said quickly. ‘Yes, this is the place, but surely it can’t be for yourself…’
She nodded. ‘There was this gentleman,’ she said, ‘and now I am late.’

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Anne Bonny #BookReview & #Extract Halfway by @bevjoneswriting 4* #Psychological #SerialKiller #Thriller #WinterReads

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Halfway by B.E. Jones
Review Copy
Synopsis:

If everyone is lying, who can you trust?

The Halfway Inn is closed to customers, side-lined by a bypass and hidden deep in inhospitable countryside. One winter’s night, two women end up knocking on the door, seeking refuge as a blizzard takes hold.

But why is the landlord less than pleased to see them? And what is his elderly father trying so hard to tell them?

At the local police station PC Lissa Lloyd is holding the fort while the rest of her team share in the rare excitement of a brutal murder at an isolated farmhouse. A dangerous fugitive is on the run – but how can Lissa make a name for herself if she’s stuck at her desk? When a call comes in saying the local district nurse is missing, she jumps at the chance to investigate her disappearance.

The strangers at Halfway wait out the storm, but soon realise they might have been safer on the road. It seems not all the travellers will make it home for Christmas . . .

My Review:

The prologue opens on 22nd December 2017, we are aware of an armed and frightened female. Then the novel cuts away to the present moment, of a hitchhiker stranded in a snowy isolated Welsh scene…

‘There will be noise and fury. There will be damage. There will be casualties’

The novel spans around various characters and their current circumstances. Which includes the local law enforcement. We become aware there is a crime scene at a farmhouse and the majority of the police have dispatched there. Leaving PC Lisa Lloyd (6 months out of probation) and soon to be retired Jim Price.

There are little snippets of information cleverly woven into the plot. Such as, we know the hitchhiker is making their way home and to a farmhouse. We also get the scene of an old man caring for his son Brian and bed bound wife Rose. The three main perspectives are from the old man, local cops and the hitchhiker, who has now been picked up by a district nurse.

As the plot develops, I never felt I could trust any of the individual characters. But when all the characters collide at a closed pub The Star, nicknamed Halfway… ALL will be revealed!!!! This title is a psychological thriller, perfect for the winter months! 4*

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B.E. Jones
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halfway

Extract:

Excerpt 1 – Prologue

When she sees the hatchet in his hand she knows it’s going to happen, right here, right now. It’s been coming for hours, longer probably, since before the storm howling and keening around the eaves began its slow creep across the countryside, before the car was abandoned at the side of the snowbound road.
This moment was waiting even before she raised her hand and knocked on the door of this godforsaken place, squatting below its slipping slates and bowing brickwork, beneath the low iron sky, under the weight of winter.
So here they are.
She’s glad now that she’d had the foresight to arm herself, downstairs, when the unpleasant ticking started in her chest, when she’d finally realized the answers to the questions plaguing her since her arrival: Who are these people? And why are they lying?
She’d been sure that something was very wrong for hours. She just hadn’t been able to gather the quiet nudges in the back of her brain into a single, clearly defined thought until now, now it’s punching itself to the fore, bullying her into the realization she’d have been safer out in the storm.
But it’s too late to leave, now that there are only three of them left alive, assembled under the twinkly Christmas star: a hitchhiker, a nurse, a landlord, , everyone, everything, bending itself into this moment, before the weight of what has been and what is to come. How could she have imagined for even one moment that she was the only one with anything to hide?
She knows it’s her own fault for allowing herself to be caught off guard, first back on the road and then over and over again until she stepped into this room. It happened so easily because this is the sort of place that’s supposed to be safe and steady, a quiet, nothing-ever-happens-kind of village where people look out for each other, still leave their doors unlocked and never, ever try to kill you.
Trouble is, you should never read only the surface signs and signals of anywhere or anyone, she knows that. There’s a lesson here, never assume you’re the biggest, baddest thing in the woods unless you’re prepared to prove it.
So this is it.
That bloody balding donkey understands, his red and white trimmed Santa leaning at a jaunty angle as he gives her that look again, as if he’s thinking what she’s thinking, knows what she knows – not all of them will leave this room alive. He may be happy to wait passively for the outcome but she isn’t, so she readies herself, plants her feet firmly apart on the floorboards, aware of every inch of her body, every twitch of muscle fibre and sinew, careful not to show that her hands are waiting and ready to move.
The ticking in her chest tells her it’s too late to stop the countdown, there’s no way back, the explosion is overdue. There will be noise and fury. There will be damage. There will be casualties.
So here they go!

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