Anne Bonny #BookReview The Murderess by @jenwellswriter 4* #WW2 #HistoricalFiction just £1 on Ebook #WeekendReads @Aria_Fiction A family legacy laid bare. . .

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The Murderess by Jennifer Wells
From my own TBR pile
Synopsis:

1931: Fifteen-year-old Kate witnesses her mother Millicent push a stranger from a station platform into the path of an oncoming train. There was no warning, seemingly no reason, and absolutely no remorse.

1940: Exactly nine years later, Kate returns to the station and notices a tramp laying flowers on the exact spot that the murder was committed; the identity of the victim, still remains unknown.

With a country torn apart by war and her family estate and name in tatters, Kate has nothing to lose as she attempts to uncover family secrets that date back to the Great War and solve a mystery that blights her family name.

My Review:

The novel is set between two timelines 1931 and 1940. It surrounds the childhood and adult life of Kate Bewsey and the mystery that has blighted her life. Kate has grown up in having known wealth and luxury. Living her life at ‘The Grange’ her parents estate in Missensham town. The Grange was once a hot spot of social activity. Parties, cocktails and jazz. Now it just reminds them, of all they have lost since that fateful day; her mother pushed a young woman to her death!

‘My life would not be the same after that day’ – Kate

Kate had an unusual relationship with her mother, her entire childhood. With her mother viewing her more of a possession and smothering her with her love.

‘Always remember you are mine’ – Millicent Bewsey

The novel opens in May 1940, with Kate arriving at Missensham rail station. Awaiting the arrival of her aunt Audrey and cousin Jemima, she notices a homeless man. The man is dressed in the attire of a veteran of the great war and it is this, that catches Kate’s eye at first. He is laying flowers, red peonies and it is then, that Kate recalls the date.

In 1931 a young teenage Kate witnessed her mother greet a woman at the rail station. They discussed the timetable and then for no known reason, Millicent pushed the woman from the platform onto the tracks and into the path of an incoming train. The story created a huge scandal with stories of the ‘well-bred’ woman with murder on her mind. Kate’s mother remains at Holloway prison and has never spoken of the incident.

‘As far as I am concerned, I no longer have a mother’ – Kate

Kate still lives at The Grange, but she is no longer the young lady of the estate. Kate and her father live in the basement, the old servant’s quarters. It is only through the charitable acts of her aunt Audrey, they have kept The Grange in the family.
There life is one of poverty, isolation and waiting.

Despite it having been nine years, since the murder and Kate now being a young woman of 25yrs. It is remembered annually in the newspaper, much to Audrey’s disgust. But this year there is some added news, as Millicent is due a parole hearing and possible release on the tenth anniversary of the crime.

Kate’s father requests that she visit the prison, in the hope at getting a statement from her mother. Which may help with her release.
But Kate refuses to assist in any way shape of form.

‘That woman should have hung’ – Kate

The emotional pull of the entire situation, leads Kate to investigate. Why did her mother push the woman onto the tracks? Who was the victim? And who is the homeless man? What do the flowers mean?

Kate returns to the station to enquire about the homeless man. She learns via the station master that he appears every year, on the anniversary of the murder. At a second glance Kate notices the card on the flowers.

‘For my darling Rosaline’

This becomes the first piece in the mystery and Kate becomes hellbent on solving the secrets that surround her mother’s life. But can Kate uncover the reasons for the murder? And can she live with the truth?

‘Who really ever knew your mother’ – Audrey

This novel is a slow-burning, cosy mystery that is perfect reading for a Sunday afternoon. It has emotionally charged scenes, that are very well written. My heart really warmed to Kate and I longed for her to solve the questions and set her mind to rest. There is a huge twist in the novel halfway through and this has been expertly done by the author. It adds so much more depth to the narratives. It builds and builds to a dramatic and shocking ending.
A family legacy laid bare 4*

JW
Jennifer Wells
LBA Books Website
Twitter

#BlogTour #GuestReview by @zinca The Future Can’t Wait by @AngelenaBoden @urbanepub #NewRelease @urbanebooks

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The Future Can’t Wait by Angelena Boden
Synopsis:

The Future Can’t Wait is a contemporary novel set in multicultural Birmingham against a background of growing radicalisation of young people sympathetic to Islamic State.   Kendra Blackmore’s half Iranian daughter Ariana (Rani) undergoes an identity crisis which results in her cutting off all contact with her family. Sick with worry and desperate to understand why her home loving daughter would do this, Kendra becomes increasingly desperate for answers – and to bring her estranged daughter home….

#GuestReview:

Review by Kerensa Jennings, bestselling author of SEAS OF SNOW

 

The terrifying unravelling of a mother’s life. The fragility of the human psyche. Brilliantly drawn.

My overwhelming feeling after finishing this book was that I could see it being used in the classroom and in other educational applications to help vulnerable young people. It’s a fascinating read that forces you to evaluate complex issues of identity and cultural heritage from different perspectives and in a variety of lights.

It’s a challenging book because of the highly charged content, infused as it is with an undercurrent of disaffection and anger. Highly relevant to the world we live in, I am impressed both by the author’s courage and the publisher’s commitment to seeing a difficult topic published.

The heart and emotion of the story sing through the pages.

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The unravelling of the protagonist’s mental state as she is caught in the grip of grief, bewilderment and paranoia, is expertly crafted. The dialogue feels authentic and the characters particularly of Kendra – our valiant, yet emotionally fragile lead, her husband David and son Adam are written with integrity. It’s a contemporary novel set in contemporary times. Social media and the digital connectedness of the world are described in technicolour.

The beating pulse of the story is a mother’s relationship with her daughter. It is a painful and upsetting read in many ways, so clunk-click, get ready for the ride. You’ll need to strap yourself in for this one. Anyone wanting a cosy fireside Autumn read…. my advice would be, this is not for you. But anyone intrigued by issues of identity, and the issues and behaviours it might provoke both in the parents and offspring of mixed race children, will find this revealing, difficult and thought provoking.

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I had no preconceptions about this book. I was invited to read it by the publisher, with a view to potentially reviewing it. I have since learned a lot more about the wonderful author behind The Future Can’t Wait – Angelena Boden – her academic rigour, her own personal journey, and her experiences having married an Iranian man earlier in her life. The acknowledgements page at the back of this book is the first time an acknowledgements page has brought tears to my eyes.

There are elements of the story I personally struggled with – particularly an aspect of Kendra’s behaviour involving psychics which I shall let you discover for yourself. It didn’t ring true to me that someone of Kendra’s groundedness would resort to seek comfort in the weasel words of confidence tricksters. But I know from my own journalism background that it is worryingly common for smart, well-rounded people to descend into a spiral of decline. So behaviours can become both unpredictable and unexpected.

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On a personal level, I wish Angelena Boden the very best of luck as her work is gradually discovered across the bookosphere. I know from personal experience writing – and seeing published – my own psychological thriller, SEAS OF SNOW, how overwhelming and frightening it is. My book covers extremely difficult topics, too – from child abuse and domestic abuse to psychopathy. I was incredibly excited about seeing my work out there, but also petrified about the response. I think Angelena Boden has been immensely brave bringing such an important topic to life through such an extraordinary story. It can’t have been easy, I don’t think, but I and many other readers will be very glad that she did.

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Angelena Boden
Author Bio:

Angelena Boden (M.Soc.Sc PGDE) has spent thirty five years as an international training consultant, specialising in interpersonal skills and conflict resolution. She trained in Transactional Analysis, the psychology of communication and behaviour, her preferred tool for counselling and coaching.

Since retiring from training, she runs a coaching practice in Malvern for people who are going through transition periods in their life; divorce, empty nesting, redundancy or coping with difficult situations at work, home and within the wider family.

Angelena has two half Iranian daughters and has extensive experience of helping mixed nationality couples navigate problems in their marriages.

She is the author of The Cruelty of Lambs, a novel about psychological domestic abuse. Her new book, The Future Can’t Wait tackles the breakdown of a mother and daughter relationship within a cross cultural context. It is published by Urbane Publications and is out in November 2017.

Author Links:
Web: http://www.angelenaboden.com/
Twitter: https://twitter.com/AngelenaBoden @AngelenaBoden
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/bodenangelena/

#GuestReviewer:
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Kerensa Jennings author of, Seas Of Snow
Website: http://www.seasofsnow.com/
Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/15253227.Kerensa_Jennings
Twitter: @zinca

*Huge Thanks to Guest reviewer Kerensa Jennings for her review of, The Future can’t Wait.
Which was released 2nd November and is available via kindle or just 99p*

#BlogTour #Review Q&A The Future Can’t Wait by @AngelenaBoden @urbanepub #NewRelease 99p #BookGroupQuestions

*I received an arc via the publisher in return for an honest review. I read/review and write Q&As, before I agree to organise a blog tour*

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The Future Can’t Wait by Angelena Boden
Synopsis:

The Future Can’t Wait is a contemporary novel set in multicultural Birmingham against a background of growing radicalisation of young people sympathetic to Islamic State.   Kendra Blackmore’s half Iranian daughter Ariana (Rani) undergoes an identity crisis which results in her cutting off all contact with her family. Sick with worry and desperate to understand why her home loving daughter would do this, Kendra becomes increasingly desperate for answers – and to bring her estranged daughter home….

My review:

The novel opens in contemporary, multicultural Birmingham. With its mix of cultures and heritage, the location provides the perfect backdrop. Kendra Blackmore a lecturer at the Darwin Academy; is delivering a guest speech, in a lecture regarding psychology. She is widely respected in her field. The crowd are in awe of her ability to relate sympathies to the Islamic State with neuroscience and an individual’s susceptibility to make certain choices.

Kendra returns home to her husband David. He is quite an oddball in his nature but a loving stepfather to her two children. Eldest son Adam is a respected Dr himself, currently living in Boston, USA. Daughter Ariana (Rani), is quite complex young madam! She is currently in the final months of her Astrophysics degree and facing huge exam pressure/stress. She is cleverly a very bright and talented young woman, at the beginning of her adult life. However, she is often moody, immature and prone to outburst towards her mother. I found the mother and daughter relationship, very intriguing!
The way Kendra smothers her daughter, whilst allowing her to be so verbally abusive towards her.
But we have all known such relationships exist.

The background of Kendra’s first marriage is fully explored. With Kendra wondering if this is why, Rani is so distant. Does rani blame her mother for the divorce and having an absent father? Rani continues to push her mother away and Kendra’s desperate attempts to bring her closer only lead to further rows. With Rani becoming suffocated, until the day she leaves. Rani sends her mother a note, cutting off all contact.
It is quite spitefully done and has the reader, questioning Rani’s motives for such a malicious act.

The note and abandonment dominate Kendra’s life. She becomes obsessed and her life slowly unravels. It was at this point I questioned the dynamics, they have the appearance of the perfect middle class family but under the surface, there’s a lot going on! No-one truly knows what goes on in another person’s family. Their inner secrets and shared pain. From the viewpoint of family relationships, this novel offers up, much food for thought!

“The past can be dangerous territory”

Kendra’s obsessions about her daughter build and build. Upon finding some leaflets, in her daughter’s bedroom. She becomes convinced her daughter has been at risk of radicalisation. Messages in Arabic and friendship with a Persian student, add fuel to Kendra’s fire!
She becomes a woman on a mission to find her daughter at all costs………..

As Rani is an adult, she cannot consult the police or authorities until she learns more and gathers more proof. This leads her to an almost breakdown and the devastation of her family.

There are themes of fascism, vulnerability, miseducation, isolation, risk, unity, innocence and maturity within this novel. They are tactfully and sensitively explored. I felt the young adults ‘coming of age’ in this novel are really struggling. With the dark side of the disenfranchised youth of today, fully demonstrated. Kendra struggles to assess how she missed or failed to notice her own daughter’s unhappiness.
But how well do we ever know, those whom we profess to love the most, our children!

What sort of mother does that make me then?”

This novel follows the story of an intelligent woman, whom appears to have it all. We watch her lose something so precious to her, her daughters love and understanding. The aftermath proving so traumatic, it sets off a chain of events. Kendra won’t always make the choices, you think she will or have the thoughts you think she should and that is what makes this novel perfect for book groups. There are a wealth of issues/themes up for debate. The characters are relatable and believable. I would urge book groups to focus on the responses of those in the family and what they themselves would do.

“Ego is the only requirement to destroy any relationship”

Q&A:

Q) The novel opens in contemporary multicultural Birmingham. What made you decide on this location and era, to tell this story?

A) I lived in different areas of Birmingham for almost thirty years and raised my dual heritage children there – I prefer that term to mixed race. I have seen the changes over the years and am saddened to witness today’s tensions in a city which has prided itself on fostering harmonious relationships between the many communities. I wanted to show that things are not always what the media like to make them out to be and that Birmingham is a decent city in which to live and raise a family. I chose a well-to-do suburb of the city as the setting for the book for reasons that hopefully will become clear to the readers.

Q) The mother and daughter relationship is extremely authentic. As I regard in my review, we have all known such relationships take place. What was the inspiration behind this?

A) Many mother-daughter relationships become fraught as the daughter moves into adulthood. This often coincides with major changes for the mother – physical and emotional. The empty nest can be viewed with anticipation and excitement by some but with fear and trepidation by others. I know of many mothers who have really struggled with this. Me included.

Q) The novel deals with the theme of parental abandonment and Kendra’s response to such abandonment. Was this emotionally draining to write? Did it you see the situation through the eyes of the characters themselves?

A) Very draining as I was actually writing from a degree of personal experience. I plan to write about this in more detail in a blog. It took seven drafts to get the balance of the story right for the readers. I could really feel Kendra’s shock and pain and was writing for her. I was in tears many times and had to put the book aside. David’s character was a pleasure to create as my husband is just like him J As far as Rani is concerned I could relate to being her age, many moons ago but more importantly I wrote the book when I was experiencing the tidal waves of my own daughter’s estrangement in 2012 -15.

Q) The novel also depicts family secrets and what goes on behind closed doors. This would be tricky to research, yet is the basis for many novels in this genre. I think your novel is exceptionally unique. From your point of view, as a writer, why are secrets/lies themes so intriguing to the reader?

A) I really didn’t do any research because there were so many secrets in my own immediate family surrounding both my daughters at the time but particularly the younger one that I often felt I was writing more of a memoir. Many families have the proverbial skeleton in the wardrobe and I think we, as readers, are gripped by the intrigue. However not all secrets are revealed in real life or fiction!

Q) The novel depicts Rani’s coming of age and also the disenfranchised youth of today in general, very well. What was the inspiration behind this theme?

A) Young people in the 18-25 age group have never had things so difficult in many respects despite the technology and material stuff many of them have. Parents generally want to see their children do better than they have done – jobs, homes, quality of life but for many this isn’t happening. Frustration and anger has been building up for a while, especially in cities where there has been a target for this – often a minority group gets blamed. In addition we have a generational clash, greater than ever, as my generation had free university education, career progression and the chance to own our own houses from an early age. As a specialist in behaviour I have been tracking these sociological changes for a number of years. More young people present with depression and anxiety at a time they are starting out in life. The pressure to succeed and compete is greater than ever.

Q) One thing that fascinated me, was that Kendra never responded to a situation as I would have predicted. She often made irrational and confusing choices. Was this intentional, to show how we react when emotions are involved?

A) We are really looking at a grief reaction and as you know it is different for everyone. Some cope by blocking it out and getting on with their lives. Others feel the pain more deeply and become paralysed by it. All of us need support when tragedy strikes.

We are all capable of descending into a sort of madness or obsession when we lose something very precious. To answer the last part of your question – yes it was intentional. I hope to encourage more empathy and understanding from those who might say – “I would not have reacted in that way.” There is no right or wrong way to grieve.

It’s a good topic for discussion!

Q) Finally, what are you working on next? Will we see more of Kendra and Rani’s story?

A) Edna’s Death Café is finished and is resting on my desk for the second edit. The main character is an 80 year old woman who goes to university in her seventies and studies Philosophy and Death. She runs a café in a village in my own county of Derbyshire and sets up meetings to talk about death and dying. It’s a light take on a serious, still taboo, subject. The Death Café movement is growing around the UK.

I do have Rani’s story in mind if readers are keen to find out what has happened to her. It wasn’t planned as a sequel but I would feel very privileged to write it if readers requested it.  

AB: Thank you so much Abby for this opportunity to talk about The Future Can’t Wait and for the blog tour.

Book club discussion Questions:

1) How well did you engage with the book?
2) What were your feelings about the main characters? Kendra, David, Rani, Adam, Marco. How authentic were they?

3) The key theme is the mother-daughter relationship. Why is this so fraught? If you don’t have a daughter, think about the relationship with your mother/mother-figure.

4) Did Kendra act/react to her daughter’s disappearance in the way you expected? Why/Why not? How would you have handled it?

5) Where did Kendra’s main sources of support come from? How did they help?

6) What are your impressions of David? Is he just a grumpy old man in his shed or is there something else about him?

7) Another theme is the struggle of young people into adult hood. Why is this such a problem these days? Think back to when you were young. Compare the challenges.

8) What are your thoughts on turning to psychics and mediums for help during difficult times? Have you ever done this?

9) We often jump to conclusions when faced with a shock as our emotions are heightened. What did you conclude about Rani’s disappearance?

10) Were you disappointed that the author didn’t reveal Rani’s story in this book? Would you be interested in a sequel?

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Angelena Boden

Author Bio:
Angelena Boden (M.Soc.Sc PGDE) has spent thirty five years as an international training consultant, specialising in interpersonal skills and conflict resolution. She trained in Transactional Analysis, the psychology of communication and behaviour, her preferred tool for counselling and coaching.

Since retiring from training, she runs a coaching practice in Malvern for people who are going through transition periods in their life; divorce, empty nesting, redundancy or coping with difficult situations at work, home and within the wider family.

Angelena has two half Iranian daughters and has extensive experience of helping mixed nationality couples navigate problems in their marriages.

She is the author of The Cruelty of Lambs, a novel about psychological domestic abuse. Her new book, The Future Can’t Wait tackles the breakdown of a mother and daughter relationship within a cross cultural context. It is published by Urbane Publications and is out in November 2017.

Author Links:
Web: http://www.angelenaboden.com/
Twitter: https://twitter.com/AngelenaBoden @AngelenaBoden
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/bodenangelena/

*The Future Can’t Wait, is available for just 99p on Kindle Ebook and is free to members of Kindle Unlimited*

 

Q&A with @AydinGuner66 #Author of The Devil In I #Thriller #GoodVsEvil #Indie

The Devil In I
The Devil In I by Aydin Guner
Synopsis:

Damon West is a twenty-eight-year old living in New York City. His life appears to be perfect. He has a loving girlfriend, good friends, lots of money and a job on Wall Street, everything a young man could ask for.

However, Damon has a secret. Damon is the Devil. For centuries, Damon has roamed the Earth enjoying everything the human world has to offer. Sex, entertainment, travel and new discoveries. Damon’s life appears to be perfect but takes an unexpected turn when he meets a co-worker, Latasha.

Damon is suddenly submerged in a spiraling obsession with Latasha he can’t control. She plays him for the fool. For all his charms, Damon is unable to deal with those emotions. Is it love? Whilst Damon’s world starts to spiral out of control, we start to question who Latasha really is. Is she who she appears to be? Was this all part of a higher plan? Has she been conspiring with the suspicious new boss, Jason Godfrey?

In The Devil In I, Damon faces the ultimate battle to hold on to everything he has: his job, his reputation, his girlfriend, and his life. This is a fast paced, sexy, violent modern day thriller. It is the ultimate story of Good vs Evil. Based in New York City, The Devil In I is not for the faint of heart.

Q&A:

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

A) Hi Anne, I live in the North West of England and come from a big family with 3 sisters! Growing up, being the only boy, I was isolated a lot and developed an over active imagination. I always used to read and watch movies and loved story telling, even at a young age. Over the years, I’ve done freelance articles and reviews for websites, but started writing my novel The Devil In I. It took 4 years to write because it was incredibly challenging to get into the mind-set of the lead character.

The story is about a young Wall Street worker called Damon West who is secretly the Devil. He walks on Earth as a charming, witty, intelligent man and no one suspects he is the Devil, in fact, he appears as something completely the opposite. Which was key to the thesis of the story, the Devil is the ultimate deceptor.

Damon’s life starts to fall apart when he meets a co-worker, he is infatuated with her but is unsure why. As the story unfolds, the wheels start coming off the track for Damon and the story develops into a whirlwind murder, sex and deception filled web, with multiple twists and surprises.

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

A) I think writing the first novel is challenging, because it’s all new, but it’s also the easiest. There is no expectation. I’m currently working on the second novel and some of the things I’m exploring early on is, “What do I want this book to achieve?” and “What is the overarching message to this story”?

It’s important to be passionate about those two questions. Writing a book is a long road and if you’re not 100% into the story you’re telling, it will show.

I’ve been spending a lot of time researching the topics in the book, so I can write about them and discuss and explore those themes. Research is very important.

Patience is key to writing, once you have your story, there’s several ways you can get it published. You can self publish on sites like Amazon, or you can reach out to publishers yourself with a press pack or you can scout out a literary agent to represent you. There’s several avenues, several ways to skin a cat, so to speak.

Q) What are your favourite authors and recommended reads?

A) Brett Easton Ellis is one of my favourite authors and also Stephen King.

Q) What were your childhood/teenage favourite reads?

A) As a kid, I loved Roald Dahl. Got all of his books. I also loved the Goosebumps series! They were so entertaining. Very cool reads.

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

A) It’s a very strange journey, because when you first release the book there’s fear, the fear that no one will like your book. Which is probably something every writer feels. Then when the reviews come in, it’s a really humbling feeling to read the reviews and how people have connected with it.

I’d say my favourite part of being an author is discussing the characters with people who have read it. It’s like we’re bringing them to life. I love hearing other peoples perspective on the characters and analysing why they did and said certain things. I also love it when people I know ask if a character is based on a real person. The whole point of the lead character is to blur the lines between reality and fiction and if that can happen to someone whilst they’re reading this, then that’s a great thing.

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

A) Good question, I didn’t have a mentor as such, but a good friend of mine, Amy, was is also writing her first novel and we used to talk about ideas and techniques and see how we were getting on. Having that writing buddy was really helpful. Someone you can discuss things with.

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Aydin Guner
Authors Links:
www.aydinguner.com
www.twitter.com/aydinguner66
www.twitter.com/narcsupport101
www.facebook.com/aydinguner66
www.youtube.com/AydinRD

*Thank you for taking part in the Q&A on my blog, I wish you every success with your writing career*

**The Devil And I, is also available Free to kindle unlimited members**

#ReleasedTomorrow Child Taken by Darren Young. 5* #Review and Q&A @darrenyoungbook

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Child Taken by Darren Young

The synopsis:

I write this, as I have just finished Child Taken and I have to say as a debut novel, it is amazing! It’s very in-depth and detailed and has kept me hooked all day, as I sat in the garden reading. I firmly believe that Darren Young is a promising new talent to the crime fiction genre and can’t wait to get my hands on his next novel. Hugely recommend to fellow readers!

The novel opens 20 years previously, almost like a confessional, we hear from the mother of the kidnapped girl and the ‘father’ who was complicit in her abduction. I found the various perspectives and characters fascinating. I was totally immersed in this story as it unravelled. We learn that one sunny day, as children played on the beach. One went missing and never returned! The missing child was Jessica Preston, who at just under 3 years old, has never been seen since! What happened that day at the beach?

In the present day, we meet Danni Edwards, a young woman coming to terms with the repercussions of the loss of her mother. Danni’s mum died in a car accident during a storm. But Danni begins to suspect that there is something much more sinister about it. Was a suicide attempt? Or somebody seeking vengeance upon the family? Danni is a very likeable and relatable character. The grief she feels for the loss of her mother, I found very accurate and incredibly moving. I lost my mother when I was 21yrs old, so I felt every word of her pain and suffering, through the pages.

We also meet, Laura Grainger, an ambitious journalist at The Gazette. Laura is not like Danni at all, she has the perfect middle class parents and cosy life. However, shunned by her work colleagues and with low self-esteem, due to her father acquiring the job for her. She is determined to find that one case, that will catapult her career to success. Through a twist of events, her attention becomes focused on the cold case of Jessica Preston’s abduction and she endeavours to interview Jessica’s mother Sandra…………

Sandra currently resides at High Cliffs House, a private mental health unit. She spends her days staring out of the window, lost within her grief. The anguish of Sandra’s life and the aftermath of the abduction and its impact on Jessica’s family is fully explained and it makes for heart-breaking reading. She firmly believes an abduction took place and that Jessica is still alive and hopes to someday reconnect with her. Although no-one believes Sandra, we the reader come to know, Sandra lost everything that sunny afternoon, her daughter was taken………

The case heats up when Laura finds an eye witness from the past. When it turns out to be ‘mad Mo’ a local mumbling drunk, she feels defeated by this complex mystery. That is until she crosses paths with Danni. Laura and Danni form a friendship over a shared interest in the abduction of Jessica Preston. Both women have differing motives, will they ever solve what happened that day on the beach? Who took Jessica Preston? Where is she now?

This is a very impressive debut novel, with emotive themes surrounding the aftermath of a child abduction case. I would recommend to all fans of the crime fiction genre and I can easily see Darren Young becoming a star in the genre in the future! 5* 

Q&A:

Q) for the readers, can you give a summary of yourself and your debut novel Child Taken?

A) I’m Darren Young, aged 45 from Nottingham now, although I was born in the West Midlands.

My background is in financial services and I’ve been a customer service consultant for the last twelve years. I started writing shortly after my fortieth birthday and had the idea for Child Taken towards the end of 2014. This is my first book (currently working on a second one!) and is about what happens twenty years after a girl is taken from a beach. It tracks the lives of everyone involved, looking at the events and repercussions from a number of perspectives as they get closer to the truth about what really happened.

Q) The novel centres around the aftermath of a child abduction. What was the research for this and did any real life cases generate the inspiration behind the novel?

A) I did a lot of research in the early days into missing children and what I found was mostly numbers and many of them were quite disturbing (in the UK and worldwide). Child abduction by a stranger is very rare but still happens about 50 times per year but very few are successfully carried out. The story Child Taken was actually inspired by a news report about a young man in Cyprus (I think) that was taken for DNA tests because it was suspected that he might be Ben Needham (who disappeared from Kos in 1991). He wasn’t but hearing this got me thinking about what happened to all the people involved twenty odd years later and how had it effected them.

A case from 1971 in Australia involving a little girl (Cheryl Grimer) who was taken from a beach was a key part of my research and learning about what such a crime does to the people and local community. Cheryl’s story, like Ben’s, have been back in the news in the past 12 months but at the time I started writing, they had been dormant for years which formed the background to how Sandra Preston felt in the book.

Q) Within the novel the pain and anguish of the mother is fully explored. Something I feel may not always be seen in real life cases and the families can become forgotten, as the nation becomes obsessed with the case. Was it always your intention to make Sandra a huge part of the novel?

A) Interestingly, not as big a part as she ended up having. In the original draft, she was part of the story but only when she met with the journalist but an editor who I asked for feedback said she was such a powerful character, I should give her far more pages and that’s what happened. I can’t imagine the book without Sandra’s contribution now and I agree, the family and often the mother can be overlooked in these cases. My own opinion is that as society rushes to blame someone so quickly, they forget that everyone involved is a person with their own feelings and story to tell. I read an article on Madeline McCann this week where the people of the town said they felt very sorry for the child but no one really mentioned her mother (or wider family) at all.
Q) The abduction takes place at the beach, one sunny afternoon. I live right by the coast and spend many sunny afternoons down at the bay with my sons. I always think there is something eerie about an abduction (a parent’s worst nightmare) taking place, in a place of so much childhood happiness. For example, the beach, fun fair, football game, local park etc. What made you decide to set the abduction at the beach?

A) Good question. I’d not thought about it until you asked and the honest answer is that it was always a beach in my head and I had no reason to change it. On hearing the radio news report about the DNA test, I had the whole story for Child Taken in my head a few hours later and the abduction never changed – not even one line – from how I envisaged it. I suppose, subconsciously, that I wanted the abductor to almost stumble upon Jessica rather than go out of the way to look for her and a beach is a place where this can happen. I’ve also seen, and experienced, several incidents where children have gone missing (only for a few seconds or minutes) on a beach so I had a frame of reference.

Q) What are your favourite novels in the crime fiction genre? And recommended reads from 2017?

A) It feels like a million years since I read anything properly because I find it quite distracting when I’m writing. I’m a big fan of anything by Mark Billingham, Simon Kernick, Peter James and David Baldacci because they are the books I read all the time before Child Taken took over my life. I also really liked a book, Eeny Meeny by MJ Arlidge which was a big inspiration for the way I structured Child Taken and of course, I’ve read Gone Girl and Girl on the Train more recently because they were such big hits as I was writing Child Taken. But I owe a huge debt to a little known book called Manslaughter United by Chris Hulme which was presented in such a way that, to this day, I still borrow from it.

Q) This is a question I am dying to know the answer too. What’s your next plans in your writing career?

A) Before I started Child Taken, I had an idea that I had begun working on but the idea for Child Taken got in the way so I put it on the back burner and I’ve gone back to it now. I felt that if I was going to get noticed, Child Taken was my best bet. I don’t want to give too much away but the next book is similar in style to this one but follows a man whose wife needs an urgent heart transplant and he literally does anything to get it for her despite the dubious motives of those he places his trust in. This year is the 50th anniversary of the first such transplant so it feels like nice timing and it’s a fascinating subject now I’ve researched it properly. Plus you don’t get that many heart transplant stories! I don’t have a name yet that I’m 100% happy with – but if Child Taken is a big success, I might let readers pick one on a Twitter poll.

 *Huge thanks for agreeing to be part of a Q&A on my blog. I wish you every success with the release of Child Taken and your future writing career.

Thank you for your fantastic review and Q&A too. I’ve really enjoyed thinking about the answers and sharing some of the thoughts I had during the writing of Child Taken. I’m really glad you enjoyed it so much and the feedback and interest you’ve shown in it makes it all worthwhile.

Authors Links:
Web: http://darrenyoungauthor.com/
Twitter: @darrenyoungbook

Child taken is released tomorrow (18th May) in both Ebook and paperback. It is available for pre-order. It is also available free to Kindle Unlimited members. 🙂