Anne Bonny Q&A with #Author of The Savage Shore @david_hewson #NicCosta #Series #CrimeFiction #ItalianMafia #Italy @blackthornbks #TheSavageShore @midaspr

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The Savage Shore by David Hewson
Review To Follow

Synopsis ~

The ‘Ndrangheta is a ruthless mafia organisation, one of the richest and most powerful organised crime groups in the world. Completely impenetrable to outsiders, merciless when crossed, they run the savage Calabrian coast of Italy, their influence everywhere. So why has the head of this feared mob, Lo Spettro, offered to turn state witness?

Detective Nic Costa is sent deep into the mountains to infiltrate this mafia family, with Lo Spettro’s help. With a new identity, Nic becomes one of their own. But one slip up would mean the end not just for the investigation, but for Nic, and his whole team.

Q&A ~

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

A) I’ve been an author for more than twenty five years now, with thirty books or so (you stop counting after a while) to my name. The Savage Shore is a new instalment in a story that started nearly twenty years ago with A Season for the Dead which introduced a young detective called Nic Costa, working with a state police team in the historic centre of Rome. Over the years Nic’s spent most of his time on stories based in Rome, with occasional diversions to Venice and beyond.

When I decided to bring the old crew back, though, I decided to throw a spanner in the works. Usually they’re kings of a castle they know and control very well: Rome. But here they’re strangers in a strange land, sent to Calabria in the south of Italy where they’re meant to organise the defection of a gang lord into police custody so he can turn state witness.

The problem is no one knows who the gang lord is, how they can find him, how they can extricate him and his family safely out of a gang that would surely murder them all if they knew what was going on. To make contact Nic has to go undercover and pretend he’s part of the crime clan, and the rest of the team have to wait under false identities on the coast.

Pretty soon it appears nothing, in the fabled land of Calabria, is really what it seems.

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

A) I tend to be very logical about these things and decide some key issued to begin with. The first here was location: I knew it wasn’t going to be in Rome, and I was very interested in Calabria as a backdrop. It’s got an amazing culture and history of its own – not just Italian but ancient Greece as well. And it’s the home of a crime gang which is huge and very powerful, the ’Ndrangheta.

After the location came the style of the narrative. As I said I wanted Nic and co to be strangers in a strange land. So I hit upon the idea of making them become almost criminals themselves, having to hide their true identities, which isn’t easy given they’re decent people who don’t like to keep things secret.

Another element of the book is that each section of the story is preceded by a brief extract from a fictional tourist guide to the area. This gives the readers some context to the story, but also, as the narrative proceeds, we begin to realise that this device is also part of the main story too.

Then I needed an opening which came when I was driving round Reggio, the capital of Calabria. I invented a bar for crooks, an illegal immigrant forced to work behind it, and a monkey with a taste for drink. Then in walk some people with guns…

Q) What are your favourite authors and recommended reads?

A) That’s always a tough one to answer. I’m reluctant to name living rime authors because you always leave out someone you should have mentioned and the likelihood is they’re going to notice. So… current authors of non-fiction, Mary Beard for her great work on Rome, the history books of Tom Holland. Dead authors: Robert Graves, Mario Puzo, Mary Renault.

I, Claudius is one of my favourite books, something I reread from time to time for the beautiful simplicity of its writing and structure, and the timeless nature of the story it tells: a decent man becomes the monster he loathes.

Q) What were your childhood/teenage favourite reads?

A) Anything I could lay my hands on in my local library: Ray Bradbury, lots and lots of science fiction by people whose names escape me now, Conan Doyle, Saki, HP Lovecraft…

Q) What are you currently reading?

A) The Garden of the Finzi-Continis by Giorgio Bassani, a story about the Jewish community in Ferrara just before the start of the Second World War. A very unusual book that’s both an emotional story of failed loved but also darkened by the coming of fascism to people who’ve no idea the world is changing.

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

A) My favourite moment is always the one when you know a book is finished – edited, revised, done.

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

A) You always rely on the advice and support of agent and your editors. Without them we’d never be able to achieve a thing. Writers are lone wolves but we need to connect with the flock too. I’ve been lucky in that I’ve worked with some of the best over the years.

DH
David Hewson
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Anne Bonny #BookReview Butterfly Fish by @IrenosenOkojie #Literary #Historical @QPBookfest #LitFest @midaspr ‘A beautifully told story from an author with a very bright future ahead of her’ #ButterflyFish

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Butterfly Fish by Irenosen Okojie
Review Copy
Synopsis:

BETTY TRASK AWARD WINNER 2016

A fragile outsider living in London, Joy struggles to pull the threads of her life back together after her mother’s sudden death. Emptiness consumes her and, needing to fill the gaps of her loss, she finds she is drawn to a unique artefact inherited from her mother – a warrior’s head cast in brass that belonged to a king in eighteenth century Benin, Nigeria.

Joy is haunted by a beautiful young woman who appears in her photographs, familiar yet beguilingly distinct, the woman trails her wherever she goes. Joy begins to dream of a different time, a different place. She feels an inexplicable pull towards this mysterious female, and a past revealing itself through clues is scattered in her path. As family secrets come to light, she unearths the ties between her mother, grandfather, the wife of the king, a fearsome warrior, and the brass head’s pivotal connection to them all.

Haunting and compelling, Butterfly Fish is a richly told story of love and hope; of family secrets, power, political upheaval, loss and coming undone.

My Review:

Butterfly Fish is a blend of various ear’s and spans between London and Benin. I think the synopsis is immediately eye-catching and extremely unique. The author has done a fantastic job of weaving modern day London, 1950s London and 19th century Benin.

The novel opens with Joy in modern-day London. She is overcoming the death of her mother and it has been a painful process. She is helped by neighbourhood eccentric Mrs Harris. Who plays the role of lonely old lady, perfectly!

“I just feel . . . abandoned” – Joy

The novel also jumps to 19th Century Benin and the community of Esan. It follows the story of Adesua whom becomes the king’s 8th wife. Adesua is beautiful and yet a tomboy. I knew instantly there would be more to her character than meets the eye.

‘The fall of a great kingdom did not always start with war’

Joy is summoned to her mother’s solicitor’s Mervyn. So that he may go through the will with Joy and explain the items. Mervyn is an old family friend, and this eases the process for Joy. What she discovers does not.
Joy’s mother has left her, her house £80K, her grandfather’s diary and a brass head artefact. But what does it all mean?

‘Maybe dead people left behind puzzles for their loved ones all the time’ – Joy

Adesua must navigate her new life and with rumours and speculation surrounding the king, it does not come easy. The narrative of 19th century Benin is brought alive on the page and I could never do it justice here. But the full story of the king, his wives and their lives is revealed. The writing is beautiful and very descriptive, I found it hard to believe this is a debut novel.

There is a third narrative and that is the story of Queenie who comes to London in the 1950s from Lagos. She is pre-warned of the miserable weather and frosty reception. She finds work and meets new people and her story begins to develop.
The beauty of this novel is how the three women’s lives collide. What unites Queenie, Joy and Adesua lies in the diaries of Peter Lowon. Joy’s search for her own history and place in the world leads her to its pages.

A beautifully told story from an author with a very bright future ahead of her. 4*

IO
Irenosen Okojie
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Irenosen Okojie will be appearing at the Queen’s Park Book Festival
Sunday 1st July at 3:30pm- 4;30pmLink to event
Event’s WebsiteTwitter
Event details:
One of the country’s brightest new talents Irenosen Okojie talks about her writing with Shyama Perera and reads from her latest work. Irenosen’s debut novel Butterfly Fish won a Betty Trask award and was shortlisted for an Edinburgh International First Book Award. Her short story collection Speak Gigantular was shortlisted for the Edgehill Short Story Prize, the Jhalak Prize, the Saboteur Awards and nominated for a Shirley Jackson Award.

LItfest

 

Anne Bonny #BookReview The Retreat by @mredwards Mark Edwards #CrimeFiction meets #Horror #NewRelease @midaspr A missing child. A desperate mother. And a house full of secrets #TheRetreat

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The Retreat by Mark Edwards
Review Copy
Synopsis:

A missing child. A desperate mother. And a house full of secrets.

Two years ago, Julia lost her family in a tragic accident. Her husband drowned trying to save their daughter, Lily, in the river near their rural home. But the little girl’s body was never found—and Julia believes Lily is somehow still alive.

Alone and broke, Julia opens her house as a writers’ retreat. One of the first guests is Lucas, a horror novelist, who becomes obsessed with finding out what happened to Lily. But within days of his arrival, the peace of the retreat is shattered by a series of eerie events.

When Lucas’s investigation leads him and Julia into the woods, they discover a dark secret—a secret that someone will do anything to protect…

What really happened that day by the river? Why was Lily never found? And who, or what, is haunting the retreat?

My Review:

The Retreat is without a doubt a psychological thriller. It has elements of folklore and mythology scattered throughout. But ultimately it is the ‘whodunit’ or ‘whatdunit’ that keeps you on the edge of your seat. The synopsis is perfect and gives just enough information to gather a reader’s interest. A missing girl, a mother in grief, a tormented author and local legends. A recipe for success.

The prologue opens from the perspective of Lily on the fateful day she disappeared. It is eerie, and you know from the onset that the author has many more eerie scenes waiting to be unleashed upon the reader. . .

‘Mum’s cries faded into the distance as those strong arms carried her away’

Lucas Radcliffe arrives in his hometown of Beddmawr, Wales. He is headed to Nyth Bran, a writer’s retreat. He is looking forward to the quiet pace of life, seclusion and scenery. He is also hoping to find some inspiration for his next novel. His debut novel Sweetmeat was a breakout success and he has developed a case of writer’s block.
It would appear LJ Radcliffe has come to just the right place. . . .

Upon arriving at the retreat, he is quickly introduced to Julia. The other guests are at the local pub and so Lucas doesn’t meet them until much later. He states he would like at least a month stay, possibly more. He marvels at what a beautiful setting the retreat is and tells Julia of his background. Julia appears disinterested, yet Lucas is quite taken with her nonchalant approach to him.

Later on, the other guests arrive. They are quite the bunch of characters. There is Max lake, literary author and booky snob. Suzi Hastings, an aspiring debut novelist. Karen Holden, a mature lady, who is self-published. Over drinks they inform Lucas of the retreats do’s and don’ts. Whilst also telling him the wi-fi is next to useless and mobile signal non-existent.

Lucas is still itching to know more about Julia herself and through various acquaintances during his stay, he begins to understand her traumatic past. How her husband died trying to save their only child. How her daughter is still missing and how Julia is convinced she is still alive. What he learns via gossip, he keeps to himself. Not sharing with Julia what he has come to know.

We also learn that Lucas himself has known his own share of heartbreak, pain and grief. His backstory is detailed, and I found it actually made him much more believable and likable. From that moment on, I knew his interest in Julia was genuine and trustful,
or is it?

‘You’re not welcome here’

There are several incidents in the night hours, that lead the group to believe that the retreat maybe haunted. They all admit they are rational and logical people. Yet, quickly the succumb to believing in ghost stories and ancient myths.
Lucas remains level headed throughout.

Julia’s daughter’s disappearance disturbs Lucas so much, he asks a PI to investigate the case. To see if there are potentially any leads on Lily’s whereabouts. But with 2yrs having passed, it has little chance of coming to fruition.
But Lucas simply can’t get the case out of his head!

As the plot unravels more and more details are revealed. All of the town’s secrets shall be unearthed and many have secrets they would rather take to the grave. It did occur to be throughout that, everything and everyone Lucas comes into contact with mysterious circumstances occur. Had I been too quick to trust Lucas?
What do we the reader, really know about Lucas?

There are lots of twists and no one you can really trust. I became quite obsessed with Lucas myself, he just attracts trouble and problems wherever he goes. But for all intents and purposes, he makes an amazing protagonist for this very reason.

Folklore, urban legends and myths are huge right now in the psychological and thriller genre and this is definitely not one to be missed. 4*

ME
Mark Edwards
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The Retreat is released on 10th May in Ebook & paperback and it is available for pre-order!

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#BlogTour #Extract I’ll Keep You Safe by @authorpetermay @midaspr @riverrunbooks @QuercusBooks #KeepYouSafe #CrimeFiction

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I’ll Keep You Safe by Peter May

Synopsis:

** AUTHOR OF CAST IRON, COFFIN ROAD AND THE BLACKHOUSE **
** OVER 4 MILLION COPIES SOLD **
** AN EXPLOSIVE NEW THRILLER SET IN THE OUTER HEBRIDES **

WHATEVER HAPPENS
Niamh and Ruairidh Macfarlane co-own the Hebridean company Ranish Tweed. On a business trip to Paris to promote their luxury brand, Niamh learns of Ruairidh’s affair, and then looks on as he and his lover are killed by a car bomb. She returns home to Lewis, bereft.

I’LL ALWAYS BE THERE FOR YOU
Niamh begins to look back on her life with Ruairidh, desperate to identify anyone who may have held a grudge against him. The French police, meanwhile, have ruled out terrorism, and ruled in murder – and sent Detective Sylvie Braque to shadow their prime suspect: Niamh.

I’LL KEEP YOU SAFE, NO MATTER WHAT
As one woman works back through her memories, and the other moves forward with her investigation, the two draw ever closer to a deadly enemy with their own, murderous, designs.

Extract:

Niamh stole a glance at her man, but he was somewhere else. Somewhere, it seemed, that she was no longer welcome. He appeared older, suddenly, than his forty-two years. Short dark curls greying around the temples, shadows beneath blue eyes that had spent much of their time avoiding hers these last weeks. And she ached with a sense of loss. What had happened to them? A lifetime of love, ten years of marriage, evaporating before her eyes like rain on hot tarmac. It didn’t seem possible. Any of it. And it made her all the more determined to guard the secret she had been keeping from him. As he held the door of their club room open for her she saw the slim package in its brown paper wrapping lying on the dressing table where she had left it. She hurried across the room and slipped it into her bag before he could see it and ask what it was. ‘I’m going to take a shower,’ he said, and he threw his jacket on the bed and went straight into the bathroom. She heard the water running, and it only emphasized the silence in the room and her sense of loneliness. So she turned on the TV, just to create the illusion of life. Of normality. And walked to the window to gaze down into the courtyard below. Guests sat around tables beneath large, square parasols, eating and drinking, their chatter animated, laughter reaching her on the gentle night air, as if in rebuke for her unhappiness. She didn’t turn when Ruairidh came out, wrapped in a towelling robe, and she heard him rummaging in his case for a clean top and underwear. Then he was in the bathroom again, and she heard the spray of his deodorant and the slap of palms on cheeks applying aftershave. This time, when he emerged, she smelled him. When finally she turned, he was pulling on a black polo shirt and running his fingers back through still damp hair. ‘Making yourself beautiful for your girlfriend?’ She couldn’t help herself. He stopped, with his hands still raised. The frown again. ‘What are you talking about?’
‘Irina.’
‘What?’ His incredulity was almost convincing.
‘Oh, come on, Ruairidh. Irina Vetrov. You’ve been having an affair with her ever since you came to Paris last spring to seal that deal to provide Ranish for her next collection.’
He almost laughed. But there was something not wholly convincing about it. ‘Irina Vetrov? You think I’m having an affair with her?’
Niamh knew that people often repeated an accusation to play for time, to compose a response. But she didn’t want to hear it. Instead, she walked briskly across the room to the wardrobe, throwing open the door and crouching to unlock the safe. She really hadn’t meant to confront him, but somehow there was no avoiding it any longer. She took out her iPad and flicked open the cover. A four-digit code brought up the welcome screen, and a couple of swipes opened her mailer. She stabbed a finger at the screen and held it out towards him. He took a step towards her, consternation now in his eyes, and took the iPad, glancing down at the screen. She knew what he was reading. Words engraved in her memory. Read, and reread, and read again. Your husband is having an affair with Irina Vetrov. Ask him about it. She watched closely for his reaction. He looked up. His frown had become a scowl.
‘Jesus Christ, what the hell’s this?’
‘Self-explanatory, I think.’ Her certainty already wavering. He lowered his eyes to the screen again, and read, ‘a.well.wisher.xx@gmail.com?’ Then raised them to meet hers.
‘Who the fuck is that?’
‘You tell me.’ Which immediately struck her as a stupid thing to say, since he clearly didn’t know. He threw her iPad dismissively on to the bed.
‘It’s crap, Niamh. Just not true. I can’t believe you think it is.’
‘Well, what am I supposed to think? You’ve been so secretive recently. Meetings and rendezvous without me. The little wife left to keep shop.’
‘Oh, for God’s sake!’
‘Do you deny it?’ She could hear herself getting shrill.
‘That I’m having an affair with Irina?’
‘Yes!’
‘I think I just did.’
‘So why would someone write and tell me you were?’
‘I think you’d have to ask them that, but I haven’t got the first idea.’
He seemed genuinely hurt. A glance at his watch and he said, ‘I have to go.’
‘Where?’ She turned, catching his arm as he walked past her. He pulled it free.
‘I told you.’
‘YSL?’
‘Yes.’
‘I don’t believe you.’
He stared at her long and hard. ‘They say that when trust is gone, love is dead. Don’t wait up.’
He slammed the door behind him and she stood, a cauldron of mixed emotions bubbling inside her. Now she felt guilty. As if it were her fault. As if the lack of trust she had just so clearly demonstrated was without cause. But it was justified, wasn’t it? The way things had changed between them recently. His strange, guilty behaviour.

PM
Peter May
Authors Links:
Website: www.petermay.co.uk
Twitter: @authorpetermay

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#FollowTheTour #KeepYouSafe #BlogTour

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

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Trading Down by Stephen Norman
Synopsis:

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

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

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

#GuestPost:

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

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

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© Oleg Znamenskiy

The Saleh Mosque in the early morning

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

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© Oleg Znamenskiy

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

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

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© Oleg Znamenskiy

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

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© Oleg Znamenskiy

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

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

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1© Oleg Znamenskiy

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

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