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

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The Golden Orphans by Gary Raymond
Synopsis:

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

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

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

Guest Post:

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

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

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Gary Raymond
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Anne Bonny #BlogTour #GuestPost ~ The Truth Is Out There #LyingAndDying by @GrahamBrack #CrimeFiction #NewRelease #JosefSlonsky @SapereBooks

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Lying And Dying by Graham Brack
Synopsis:

What do you do when the poison comes from within…?

The body of a young woman is found strangled by the side of the road.

There are no obvious clues to what happened, apart from the discovery of a large amount of cash concealed on her person.

The brilliant, but lazy, Lieutenant Josef Slonský is put in charge of the case.

With a wry sense of humour, a strong stubborn streak and a penchant for pastries, Slonský is not overly popular with the rest of the police force. But he is paired with the freshly-graduated, overly-eager Navrátil, whom he immediately takes under his wing.

When fingers start to point inwards to someone familiar with police operations, Slonský and Navrátil are put in a difficult position.

If what they suspect is true, how deep does the corruption run? Are they willing to risk their careers in their pursuit of the truth?

Anyone could be lying – and others may be in danger of dying…

Guest Post:

The truth is out there

Pilate saith unto him, What is truth? (John 18:38).

I suppose that any writer of fiction who is not expressly in the world of fantasy has faced Pilate’s question. What is truth? And, whatever it is, does it matter to me?

As a crime novelist, my stories have to be set in a recognisable world; not necessarily one that we currently inhabit, or there would be no historical crime fiction, but one that we either experience or that makes sense to us from our knowledge of the history. But does it need to be true, in the sense of possessing factual accuracy?

Now, before I started crime writing, I would undoubtedly have argued that it must. If Great Britain and Northern Ireland had an Olympic pedantry team I would be a strong contender.

To make the characters fill out, I have to research their biographies so far as I can, but there are undoubtedly gaps, and the author may need to fill them. The most I can do – but also the least I can do – is to ensure that my inventions do not contradict known history.

By the time I wrote the first Mercurius story (my historical crime series, coming soon from Sapere Books!) I already had three Slonský books under my belt, and I confess that I had not thought in any systematic way what the truth amounted to in those tales set in 21st century Prague. They are works of fiction, after all; why do they need to be “true”?

Yet, I think, if they could be easily shown to be factually incorrect it would detract from the stories. I can, and have, taken a few liberties. The Czech police retirement process is, I believe, substantially accurate but if anyone can find a way round it, it would be Slonský, a man who dreads retirement as a vampire fears garlic. The rank system is byzantine; Slonský is described as “Lieutenant”, but there are actually three grades of lieutenant, podporučík, poručík and nadporučík.
I will not weary you with the other fourteen ranks.

While the police headquarters in Prague are where I place them, the internal layout may be very different. I do my research like anyone else, perhaps more diligently than some, but I do not think my readers will hold it against me if a door opens outwards when I have said it opens inwards.

This must always be so. To take one example, the opening scene of Lying and Dying (which is set in 2006) takes place on a small piece of land near a Metro station. When I viewed and photographed it, in 2006, it was as I describe it. There is now a small building on the site. That, of course, has nothing to do with “the truth” in 2006, but as late as 2015 you could have viewed it and recognised it from my description, and now you cannot.

However, where I must keep to the truth is in the biographies of my characters. I keep a database of them, noting the facts of their life (Slonský was born on 11th November 1947, for example) of which some will never appear in the stories. I know his parents’ names, to give one example, but I have never needed to use them. I also note their foibles and characteristics.

Slonský’s sidekick, Navrátil, enjoys long-distance running but is too unco-ordinated to give his girlfriend much of a tennis match. Major Klinger, head of the fraud squad, employs a complicated system of coloured highlighter pens to mark up his notes, so that – for those, like Navrátil, who have troubled to learn it – the text has a meta-text superimposed upon it.

I have no doubt that somewhere in the books there will be solecisms. I comfort myself with the thought that many better authors than me have had those too. I hope they don’t spoil your enjoyment of my stories.

One final thought. Slonský is not autobiographical. I do not know any single person on whom Slonský is based. That is just as well, because having the fictional Slonský causing havoc in my neatly ordered brain can be tough enough.

He is, simply, a good man. In nearly forty years of policing he has done some things which may have been legal, but they were not just, and he is determined to redress that before he bows out. He knows how dirty his hands are, and he assumes that almost everyone of his vintage is the same. That is why he has difficulty in according some people the respect that they think their position merits. He does not know that Burns said “Rank is but the guinea’s stamp”, but he would wholeheartedly approve the sentiment. In Slonský’s eyes, the bigger they are, the harder they fall, and he is determined to train Navrátil the same way. I hope he succeeds.

But don’t take my word for it. Read Lying and Dying and decide for yourself.

GB for Sapere
Graham Brack
Website
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Author Bio:

Graham Brack hails from Sunderland and met his wife Gillian in Aberdeen where they were both studying pharmacy. After their degrees Gillian returned to Cornwall and Graham followed. This is now called stalking but in 1978 it was termed “romantic”. They have two children, Andrew and Hannah, and two grandchildren, Miranda and Sophie.

Graham’s foray into crime writing began in 2010 when he entered the Crime Writers’ Association’s Debut Dagger competition and was highly commended for The Outrageous Behaviour of Left-Handed Dwarves (reissued as Lying and Dying), in which the world was introduced to Lt Josef Slonský of the Czech police. The Book of Slaughter and Forgetting (reissued as Slaughter and Forgetting) followed and Sapere Books have published book three, Death On Duty.

In 2014 and 2016 Graham was shortlisted for the Debut Dagger again. The earlier novel, The Allegory of Art and Science, is set in 17th century Delft and features the philosophy lecturer and reluctant detective Master Mercurius.
Sapere Books will publish it as Death in Delft in 2018.

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Anne Bonny #BlogBlitz #GuestPost Heart Swarm by @allanwatson12 @BOTBSPublicity #NewRelease #Mystery #Thriller

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Heart Swarm by Allan Watson
Synopsis:

Heart Swarm – Prepare to be Scared…
It feels like history is repeating itself when out-of-favour detective Will Harlan gets summoned to a crime scene in the village of Brackenbrae after a young girl is found hanging in the woods.

Five years ago Harlan headed up the investigation of an identical murder in the same woods; a mishandled investigation that effectively destroyed his credibility as a detective. The new case immediately takes a bizarre twist when the body is identified as the same girl found hanging in the woods five years ago.

The following day a local man commits suicide and the police find more dead girls hidden in his basement. The case seems open and closed.

Until the killing spree begins.

Harlan finds himself drawn into a dark world where murder is a form of self-expression and human life treated as one more commodity to be used and discarded.

The only clue that links everything is a large oil painting of ‘Sagittarius A’ – a massive black hole at the centre of the galaxy orbited by thirteen stars daubed in blood with the words –

Heart Swarm

Guest Post:

The Loneliness of a Long Distance Writer

Writing is almost as much about ritual as it is about imagination, sweat and sheer willpower. You’ll find most writers have their own personal charms to get them in the zone. For some this can simply be a glass of wine, or a coffee with a chunky Kit-Kat, while others can’t get down to work without whale song piping from their speakers sometimes preceded by ten minutes of meditation, breathing exercises and yoga. Anything goes. It’s all about tricking the brain into opening up and spilling out those precious pearls of perfect prose. Um… alliteration can also be a useful tool.

To get the creative juices flowing, my own ritual revolves around a fusion of music and light. The light provided by four strategically placed Philips Hue globes, tweaked via the supplied app to give a soft focus fairy-grotto ambience. Candles or draped strings of coloured LEDs left over from Xmas work wonders, too. The music is basically whatever iTunes Playlist takes my fancy at the time. Add a glass of gin and a smoke to the mix and I fall into automatic writing mode.

You think this sounds over the top? In that case I’m so glad I never mentioned the glass shelf positioned above my screen where a collection crystals and polished agates are aligned with geometric precision against a phalanx of collectable Zippo lighters, providing me with a focal point to gaze into infinity when considering the merits of the humble colon over the more elaborate semi-colon.

So what happens when the writer gets uprooted from their cosy life-support pods and forced to work in unfamiliar surroundings? For the past six years I’ve been mostly working away from home, living out of a suitcase in a succession of bland and soulless hotel rooms. In theory there’s nothing stopping me getting on with whatever book I’m writing, but getting the magic to seamlessly flow from my fingertips to the screen when away from home isn’t so easy.

Sure, I can stick on my headphones and drip-feed my favourite songs into my bloodstream. I can bring along a string of Xmas lights and drape them over my laptop. I can even keep myself supplied in gin – but there’s always something going on the background to distract and derail my normally dependable train of thought.

Sometimes it’s an inconsiderate clown in the room upstairs Morris-dancing with wooden clogs. Other times it’s the badly hung curtains (six degrees off kilter, I checked with a spirit level app), or weird-shaped stains on the carpet (one definitely resembled a silhouette of Barbara Cartland). After this comes the unpredictable sound of flushing behind the bathroom wall or the hotel air con deciding to impersonate a B52 bomber. And that’s without going into how distracting it can be when the people through the wall decide to have mattress-busting noisy sex without first asking if I mind or not.

Now, instead of slavishly devoting myself to ensuring those pesky sub plots converge properly or trying to subtly drop in a red herring without it stinking up the place like a two-week-old kipper or simply determining a minor character’s fate (pause to check current body count), I find myself looking at Facebook and Twitter. Distractions within distractions, and minor character is getting impatient awaiting his fate as I procrastinate over a picture of a friend’s grilled prawn curry. I quickly decide to kill off minor character to cover up my own ragged attention span. Minor character isn’t happy and says he’ll be talking to his Union Rep. I now realise I’ve been hitting the gin too hard.

I decide to go to bed and sleep. Tomorrow is always another day. I might even buy another Philips Hue globe. And a Zippo. It’s the alignment that’s important.

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Allan Watson
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Author Bio:
Allan Watson is a writer whose work leans towards the dark end of the fiction spectrum. He is the author of seven novels – Dreaming in the Snakepark, Carapace, The Garden of Remembrance, 1-2-3-4, Monochrome, Heart Swarm and Wasp Latitudes.

In between the books, Allan wrote extensively for BBC Radio Scotland, churning out hundreds of comedy sketches, in addition to being a regular contributor for the world famous ‘Herald Diary’.

He occasionally masquerades as a composer/musician, collaborating with crime writer Phil Rickman in a band called Lol Robinson with Hazey Jane II whose albums have sold on four different continents (Antarctica was a hard one to crack)

Allan lives and works in Glasgow, Scotland, but has never worn the kilt or eaten a deep fried Mars Bar. He also once spent three days as a stand-in guitarist for the Bay City Rollers, but he rarely talks much about that…

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H E A R T S W A R M B L O G B L I T Z (1)

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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Anne Bonny #BlogTour #GuestPost Character profile: Edith – Dancing On The Grave by @authorzoesharp #NewRelease #CrimeFiction

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Dancing On The Grave by Zoe Sharp
Synopsis:

In one of the most beautiful corners of England,
Something very ugly is about to take place…

A sniper with a mission…
a young cop with nothing to lose…
a CSI with everything to prove…
a teenage girl with a terrifying obsession…

There’s a killer on the loose in the Lake District, and the calm of an English summer is shattered.
For newly qualified crime-scene investigator, Grace McColl, it’s both the start of a nightmare and the chance to prove herself after a mistake that cost a life.
For Detective Constable Nick Weston, recently transferred from London, it’s an opportunity to recover his nerve after a disastrous undercover operation that left him for dead.
And for a lonely, loveless teenage girl, Edith, it’s the start of a twisted fantasy—one she never dreamed might come true.

Guest Post by Zoe Sharp:

Edith in Dancing On The Grave: a standalone crime thriller
Zoë Sharp

I like conflicted characters. They make life interesting. When I started writing my latest standalone crime thriller, Dancing On The Grave, I originally envisaged that the story would centre around the two official characters, CSI Grace McColl (who I first wrote about in a short story called ‘Tell Me’) and DC Nick Weston. As is so often the case, however, the story changed direction in the telling.

Instead of being a straightforward police procedural, as soon as I introduced the ex-military sniper and PTSD sufferer, Patrick Bardwell, and the disturbed teenage girl, Edith Airey, who becomes his spotter, they owned the story. The sniper himself was a complicated mix of predator and victim, but Edith fascinated me.

Edith is seventeen, bored, misunderstood, lonely and loveless. She’s undoubtedly a very screwed-up kid, but not because of the conventional reasons. She’s never been physically abused, but she has been mentally neglected, her problems ignored by her family until they become part of a larger tragedy.

She partly grew out of conversations I had with a friend who took on school-leavers as apprentices in her business. She lamented the fact that the teenagers she employed were largely not prepared to start at the bottom and work their way up the ladder. They simply wanted to be famous. The explosion of semi-reality TV programmes, where it seems there are no depths people won’t sink to in pursuit of fleeting celebrity, cemented my ideas surrounding Edith’s character.

Where others might see the beauty of the Lake District surrounding Edith’s home as a privilege, she sees it as a prison. She feels trapped by the lack of opportunity, ground down by her parents’ lack of ambition—for themselves or for their daughter—and so desperate to escape her existence she’ll take any escape route offered to her.

She’s a fantasist who borders on being unable to discern truth from fiction. In some ways remarkably brave, quick-witted and inventive. And in others, terrifyingly naïve. I couldn’t bring myself to hate her for what she does, but I did end up feeling sorry for her, even so.

At one point in the story, Grace quotes Henry Thoreau in regard to Edith: “The mass of men lead lives of quiet desperation.” To which Nick adds, “And go to the grave with the song still in them.” Although Thoreau is not thought to be responsible for the second half of the quote, nevertheless, it sums up Edith for me.

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Zoe Sharp
Twitter
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Author Bio:
Zoë Sharp spent part of her life in the English Lake District, where Dancing On The Grave is set. A photojournalist for 25 years, she now divides her time between writing novels, crewing yachts, renovating houses, and international pet-sitting. She is currently working on the next in her award-winning Charlie Fox series of crime thrillers.

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