Anne Bonny #BlogTour #Extract Darling Blue by @AuthorTracyRees @QuercusBooks #NewRelease #Historical #1920s

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Darling Blue by Tracy Rees
Review to follow
Synopsis:

A sweeping tale of love in the 1920s and a powerful story of reinvention, Darling Blue is a simply gorgeous read…

Blue lives a charmed life. From her family’s townhouse in Richmond, she lives a life of luxury and couldn’t want for anything – well, on the surface at least.

Then on the night of her twenty-first birthday her father makes a startling toast: he will give his daughter’s hand to whichever man can capture her heart best in the form of a love letter. But Blue has other ideas and, unwilling to play at her father’s bewildering games, she sets out on her own path to find her own destiny…

Extract:

Chapter One

All through that shimmering riverside summer of 1925 there seemed to be only one question on everybody’s lips: who was Blue Camberwell going to marry? ‘Jolly well everybody wants to know!’ squealed Juno Forrester in the Richmond Gazette. Blue dropped the newspaper onto a side table and rested her brow against the window. The lawn was abuzz with preparations for her twenty-first birthday party. Waiters were lining up diamond-bright champagne glasses on long tables spread with white tablecloths smooth as icing. Servants hired for the evening perched on ladders, stringing fairy lights through the trees and looping ribbons from trellis to trellis. In the summerhouse, Midge was carefully positioning a gramophone in readiness for the half hours when the jazz quartet would take a breather. Blue’s father was nowhere to be seen. Unable to resist what she knew to be a depressing impulse, Blue picked up the article again.
Could that question be answered tonight, at her comingof- age party? Nothing confirmed, remember! But it is a special occasion, and at least three gentlemen of my acquaintance are head over heels with the young lady.

Three? In love? It was news to Blue.

Whether or not an engagement is announced, this promises to be the party of the year. The guest list includes some of our most distinguished neighbours and yours truly has been privileged with an invitation which I’m clutching in my little paws right now (coloured nail polish – naturally). Dear readers, I promise you a full and faithful account tomorrow. But for now, must dash – time to get my glad rags on!

With a low growl, she dropped the Gazette into the wastepaper basket – a gesture only, since Midge would certainly fish it out later and paste the article into her scrapbook. Blue was used to having her life described in extravagant terms: beautiful Blue and her charmed life; beautiful Blue who lived in a castle with her handsome father, her virtuous stepmother and the elf in the garden . . . She was blessed, that she knew, but life was never just one thing nor the other, not for anyone. As for ‘jolly well everybody’ – they would have to face disappointment. They wouldn’t learn who Blue was going to marry for one simple reason – she didn’t know herself. Blue was far more preoccupied by how she could achieve her dream of becoming a writer than she was by thoughts of romance. But that didn’t make good gossip.

TR
Tracy Rees
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Anne Bonny #BlogTour #Extract Goodbye For Now by @MikeHollows #NewRelease #HistoricalFiction #WW1Fiction @HQDigitalUK

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Goodbye For Now by M J Hollows
Synopsis:

Two brothers, only one survives.
As Europe is torn apart by war, two brothers fight very different battles, and both could lose everything…

While George has always been the brother to rush towards the action, fast becoming a boy-soldier when war breaks out, Joe thinks differently. Refusing to fight, Joe stays behind as a conscientious objector battling against the propaganda.

On the Western front, George soon discovers that war is not the great adventure he was led to believe. Surrounded by mud, blood and horror his mindset begins to shift as he questions everything he was once sure of.

At home in Liverpool, Joe has his own war to win. Judged and imprisoned for his cowardice, he is determined to stand by his convictions, no matter the cost.

By the end of The Great War only one brother will survive, but which?

Extract:

Chapter 1

‘It’s war!’

George Abbott would never forget where he was that day, when those very words were spoken. He was sat at the family kitchen table, a roughly cut dark wooden frame, with an off-white cloth draped across it to hide its wear and tear. He leaned over a bowl of oats, playing them around with his tarnished spoon. Beside it was an enamel plate with some bread and milk.

His sisters, Catherine and Elisabeth, sat either side of him. Catherine was looking over at George to see if he would eat his bread, or if she could take it. Her hair was a deep black mess of curls, the same as their mother’s, framing a pale, chubby face, whereas little Elisabeth’s hair was a distinct copper colour, more like their father’s. At the other end of the table, across the other side was George’s brother Joe, gaunt and long like their father, although with a growth of unkempt curly black hair. He wore the deep brown suit that he always wore to work, even at the breakfast table. He was careful not to get any food on it.

The back door had burst open and their father limped in clutching the Daily Post to his chest and calling to the family. If George were to look him in the eye, it would be like looking in a mirror, except his father was older and thinner. Their faces were exactly alike and the resemblance was uncanny. It was only his father’s eyes that looked different, like they had seen a thousand things, and crow’s feet pulled at the edge of his face.

‘It’s war!’ he said. ‘We’ve declared war.’ He carried on as if unheard. ‘Britain has declared war on Germany.’

Everyone stared, not knowing quite what to say. War had been brewing for some time, so they weren’t surprised.

‘Pass your father the kedgeree,’ their mother said to Catherine and she did as bid, passing the dish of flaked fish and rice that everyone but their father despised. He must have picked up his taste for it in India.

‘I thought we were allies with Germany?’ Their mother was ever the practical woman. She carried on eating while the rest of the family grew excited and agitated. George pushed his plate of bread towards Catherine to distract her, but she just stared at it, then at him.

Their father finally found his seat, hanging his cheap coat behind him as he wrestled his body onto the chair.

‘No, no, love. Belgium. They’re the ones. They invaded there, so ol’ squiffy told ’em where to go.’

‘Belgium invaded Germany?’

‘No. The other way round!’

She didn’t appear to be listening and smiled conspiratorially in her husband’s direction, before collecting up more plates.

Joe stared across the room at the news their father had brought with him, wringing his hands in front of his face. Joe was older than George, but in this moment he looked even older, worry lining his face. His hair threatened to grow too long on his head and his feeble attempts to grow a beard in patches on his chin was a constant source of ridicule. The object of Joe’s gaze was a faded photograph of their dad dressed in his uniform, beaming with pride at the South Africa medal pinned to his breast. He still often wore his medal, stroking the silver disc absent-mindedly. Father turned to Joe, putting the paper down.

‘D’you know what this means, son?’ Joe didn’t respond and their father looked around the room, at the rest of them, testing everyone’s reaction. ‘The papers say they’re going to issue a call. They’re gonna need more men.’

George carried on playing with his oats, knowing that this was between Joe and their dad. Joe looked into the middle distance, the edges of his mouth moving as if about to form words but thinking better of it.

After a tense pause, Joe spoke. ‘I won’t do it,’ he muttered under his breath, so quietly that George almost didn’t hear.

Their father banged a fist on the table, and cutlery jingled as it was disturbed.

MJH
M J Hollows
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Anne Bonny #BlogTour #Extract Tattoo Thief by @AlisonBelsham #CrimeFiction #Suspense @TrapezeBooks

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Tattoo Thief by Alison Belsham
Synopsis:

A policeman on his first murder case
A tattoo artist with a deadly secret
And a twisted serial killer sharpening his blades to kill again…

When Brighton tattoo artist Marni Mullins discovers a flayed body, newly-promoted DI Francis Sullivan needs her help. There’s a serial killer at large, slicing tattoos from his victims’ bodies while they’re still alive. Marni knows the tattooing world like the back of her hand, but has her own reasons to distrust the police. So when she identifies the killer’s next target, will she tell Sullivan or go after the Tattoo Thief alone?

Extract:

I peel away the blood-soaked T-shirt from the unconscious man’s back to reveal a spectacular tattoo. The photocopy I take from my pocket is crumpled but it’s good enough for me to check against the image on his skin. Thankfully, there’s just enough light from the street lamp to see that the two designs look the same. A round Polynesian tattoo in heavy black ink adorns the man’s left shoulder, an intricate tribal face scowling from its centre. Spreading out from the edges is a pair of stylised wings, one extending down the man’s shoulder blade, the other extending across the left side of his chest. All of it is speckled with blood.

The images match. I have the right man.

There’s still a pulse in his neck, but it’s faint enough to reassure me that he won’t cause any problems. It’s essential to do the job while his body’s still warm. If the corpse cools, the skin stiffens and the flesh becomes rigid. That makes the job harder and I can’t afford mistakes. Of course, flaying the skin off a living body means so much more blood. But I don’t mind blood.

My backpack is lying nearby, discarded as I pulled him into the bushes. It was easy enough – the small park was deserted at this hour. It only took one blow to the back of his head and he crumpled at the knees. No noise. No commotion. No witnesses. I knew this was the route he’d take when he left the nightclub because I’d watched him take it before. People are so stupid. He suspected nothing, even as I walked towards him with a wrench in my fist. Seconds later, his blood was spreading across the ground from a wound at the temple. The first step executed most satisfactorily.

Once he was down, I hooked my hands underneath his armpits and dragged him as quickly as I could across the stone paving. I wanted the cover of the shrubs so we wouldn’t be seen. He’s heavy but I’m strong, and I was able to pull him through a gap between two laurel bushes.

The exertion has left me breathless. I hold out my hands, palms down. I see the ghost of a tremor. Clench fists, then open again. Both hands flutter like moths, just as my heart flutters against my ribs. I curse under my breath. A steady right hand is essential to carry out my assignment. The solution’s in a side pocket of my backpack. A packet of tablets, a small bottle of water. Propranolol – the snooker player’s beta-blocker of choice. I swallow two and close my eyes, waiting for them to take effect. At the next check, the tremor is gone. Now I’m ready to begin.

Taking a deep breath, I reach into the bag and feel for my knife roll. Satisfaction floods through me as my fingers touch the soft leather, the steel outlined beneath. I sharpened the blades with great care last night. Intuition, you might say, that today would be the day.

I drop the roll onto the man’s back and untie the cords. The leather unfurls with a soft clink of metal, the blades cold beneath my fingertips. I select the short-handled knife that I’ll use for the first cuts, marking the outline of the skin to be removed. After that, for the flaying itself, I’ll use a longer, backward-curving knife. I buy them from Japan and they cost a small fortune. But it’s worth it.

They’re fashioned using the same techniques employed for Samurai swords. Tempered steel enables me to cut with speed and precision, as if I’m carving shapes out of butter.

I put the rest of the knives on the ground next to his body and check his pulse again. Fainter than before but he’s still alive. Blood seeps from his head, more slowly now. Time for a quick, deep test cut into his left thigh. There’s no flinch or intake of breath. Just a steady oozing of dark, slippery blood. Good. I can’t afford for him to move while I’m cutting.

The moment has arrived. With one hand holding the skin taut, I make the first incision. I draw the blade swiftly down from the top of his shoulder across the jutting angles of his scapula, following the outline of the design. A red ribbon appears in the wake of my blade, warm as it runs down onto my fingers. I hold my breath as the knife carves its path, savouring the shiver that rolls up my spine and the hot rush of blood to my groin.

The man will be dead by the time I finish.

He isn’t the first. And he won’t be the last.

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

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

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

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

Extract:

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

John Le Carre – Information:

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

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

JLC
John Le Carre
Website

Giveaway:

To be in with a chance of winning a paperback copy of An Honourable Schoolboy, Simply A) comment on this blog post
B) RT the pinned Tweet @annebonnybook
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The giveaway will run until Monday morning and is open to UK & IRL only
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Anne Bonny #BlogTour #Extract #JoNesboMacbeth #ScandiNoir #CrimeFiction #NewRelease @HarvillSecker @DeadGoodBooks

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Macbeth by Jo Nesbo
Review to follow
Synopsis:

He’s the best cop they’ve got.

When a drug bust turns into a bloodbath it’s up to Inspector Macbeth and his team to clean up the mess.

He’s also an ex-drug addict with a troubled past.

He’s rewarded for his success. Power. Money. Respect. They’re all within reach.

But a man like him won’t get to the top.

Plagued by hallucinations and paranoia, Macbeth starts to unravel. He’s convinced he won’t get what is rightfully his.

Unless he kills for it.

Extract: From Chapter One

The shiny raindrop fell from the sky, through the darkness, towards the shivering lights of the port below. Cold gusting north-westerlies drove the raindrop over the dried- up riverbed that divided the town lengthwise and the disused railway line that divided it diagonally. The four quadrants of the town were numbered clockwise; beyond that they had no name. No name the inhabitants remembered anyway. And if you met those same inhabitants a long way from home and asked them where they came from they were likely to maintain they couldn’t remember the name of the town either.

The raindrop went from shiny to grey as it penetrated the soot and poison that lay like a constant lid of mist over the town despite the fact that in recent years the factories had closed one after the other. Despite the fact that the unemployed could no longer afford to light their stoves. In spite of the capricious but stormy wind and the incessant rain that some claimed hadn’t started to fall until the Second World War had been ended by two atom bombs a quarter of a century ago. In other words, around the time Kenneth was installed as police commissioner. From his office on the top floor of police HQ 4 Chief Commissioner Kenneth had then misruled the town with an iron fist for twenty-five years, irrespective of who the mayor was and what he was or wasn’t doing, or what the powers-that- be were saying or not saying over in Capitol, as the country’s second-largest and once most important industrial centre sank into a quagmire of corruption, bankruptcies, crime and chaos. Six months ago Chief Commissioner Kenneth had fallen from a chair in his summer house. Three weeks later, he was dead. The funeral had been paid for by the town – a council decision made long ago that Kenneth himself had incidentally engineered. After a funeral worthy of a dictator the council and mayor had brought in Duncan, a broad-browed bishop’s son and the head of Organised Crime in Capitol, as the new chief commissioner. And hope had been kindled amongst the city’s inhabitants. It had been a surprising appointment because Duncan didn’t come from the old school of politically pragmatic officers, but from the new generation of well educated police administrators who supported reforms, transparency, modernisation and the fight against corruption – which the majority of the town’s elected get-rich-quick politicians did not.

And the inhabitants’ hope that they now had an upright, honest and visionary chief commissioner who could drag the town up from the quagmire had been nourished by Duncan’s replacement of the old guard at the top with his own hand-picked officers. Young, untarnished idealists who really wanted the town to become a better place to live.

The wind carried the raindrop over District 4 West and the town’s highest point, the radio tower on top of the studio where the lone, morally indignant voice 5 of Walt Kite expressed the hope, leaving no ‘r’ unrolled, that they finally had a saviour. While Kenneth had been alive Kite had been the sole person with the courage to openly criticise the chief commissioner and accuse him of some of the crimes he had committed. This evening Kite reported that the town council would do what it could to rescind the powers that Kenneth had forced through making the police commissioner the real authority in town. Paradoxically this would mean that his successor, Duncan the good democrat, would struggle to drive through the reforms he, rightly, wanted. Kite also added that in the imminent mayoral elections it was ‘Tourtell, the sitting and therefore fattest mayor in the country, versus no one. Absolutely no one. For who can compete against the turtle, Tourtell, with his shell of folky joviality and unsullied morality, which all criticism bounces off?’

In District 4 East the raindrop passed over the Obelisk, a twenty-storey glass hotel and casino that stood up like an illuminated index finger from the brownish-black four-storey wretchedness that constituted the rest of the town. It was a contradiction to many that the less industry and more unemployment there was, the more popular it had become amongst the inhabitants to gamble away money they didn’t have at the town’s two casinos.

‘The town that stopped giving and started taking,’ Kite trilled over the radio waves. ‘First of all we abandoned industry, then the railway so that no one could get away. Then we started selling drugs to our citizens, supplying them from where they used to buy train tickets, so that we could rob them at our convenience. I would never have believed I would say I missed the profit-sucking masters of industry, but at least they worked in 6 respectable trades. Unlike the three other businesses where people can still get rich: casinos, drugs and politics.’

In District 3 the rain-laden wind swept across police HQ, Inverness Casino and streets where the rain had driven most people indoors, although some still hurried around searching or escaping. Across the central station, where trains no longer arrived and departed but which was populated by ghosts and itinerants. The ghosts of those – and their successors – who had once built this town with self-belief, a work ethic, God and their technology. The itinerants at the twenty-four hour dope market for brew; a ticket to heaven and certain hell. In District 2 the wind whistled in the chimneys of the town’s two biggest, though recently closed, factories: Graven and Estex. They had both manufactured a metal alloy, but what it consisted of not even those who had operated the furnaces could say for sure, only that the Koreans had started making the same alloy cheaper. Perhaps it was the town’s climate that made the decay visible or perhaps it was imagination; perhaps it was just the certainty of bankruptcy and ruin that made the silent, dead factories stand there like what Kite called ‘capitalism’s plundered cathedrals in a town of drop-outs and disbelief’.

The rain drifted to the south-east, across streets of smashed street lamps where jackals on the lookout huddled against walls, sheltering from the sky’s endless precipitation while their prey hurried towards light and greater safety. In a recent interview Kite had asked Chief Commissioner Duncan why the risk of being robbed was six times higher here than in Capitol, and Duncan had answered that he was glad to finally get an easy question: it was because the unemployment rate was six 7 times higher and the number of drug users ten times greater.

At the docks stood graffiti-covered containers and run-down freighters with captains who had met the port’s corrupt representatives in deserted spots and given them brown envelopes to ensure quicker entry permits and mooring slots, sums the shipping companies would log in their miscellaneous-expenses accounts swearing they would never undertake work that would lead them to this town again.

One of these ships was the MS Leningrad, a Soviet vessel losing so much rust from its hull in the rain it looked as if it was bleeding into the harbour. The raindrop fell into a cone of light from a lamp on the roof of one two-storey timber building with a storeroom, an office and a closed boxing club, continued down between the wall and a rusting hulk and landed on a bull’s horn. It followed the horn down to the motorbike helmet it was joined to, ran off the helmet down the back of a leather jacket embroidered with norse riders in Gothic letters. And to the seat of a red Indian Chief motorbike and finally into the hub of its slowly revolving rear wheel where, as it was hurled out again, it ceased to be a drop and became part of the polluted water of the town, of everything.

Behind the red motorbike followed eleven others. They passed under one of the lamps on the wall of an unilluminated two-storey port building.

The light from the lamp fell through the window of a shipping office on the first floor, onto a hand resting on a poster: ms glamis seeks galley hand. The fingers were long and slim like a concert pianist’s and the nails 8 well manicured. Even though the face was in shadow, preventing you from seeing the intense blue eyes, the resolute chin, the thin, miserly lips and nose shaped like an aggressive beak, the scar shone like a white shooting star, running diagonally from the jaw to the forehead.

‘They’re here,’ Inspector Duff said, hoping his men in the Narcotics Unit couldn’t hear the involuntary vibrato in his voice.

JN
Jo Nesbo
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