My #BlogTour #Review #RestlessCoffins by @EllingtonWright M.P. Wright 5* GENIUS @bwpublishing #NewRelease #CrimeFiction #JTEllington

*I received an arc copy via the publisher in return for an honest review*

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Restless Coffins by M.P. Wright 
Synopsis:

A HAUNTED MAN. A BURIED PAST. A JOURNEY INTO DARKNESS.
‘Brother, a dead body can’t run from a coffin, but their spirit sure as hell can try.’
1967, Bristol. Life is tough for JT Ellington, ex-cop and reluctant private eye.
He’s still trading in favours, helping those scared of the police or trying to stay one step ahead of the law.

But when news arrives of a tragedy that’s unfolded thousands of miles away, JT’s life gets even tougher. He needs to journey home to Barbados to pay his final respects – but first he must travel to New York, where his cousin Vic is boss of a criminal empire.

On Harlem’s mean streets, JT is fast entangled with Evangeline – a smooth as velvet Black Panther – along with Pigfoot, a Bajan too flash with his knife. As the underworld draws him in, JT discovers the extent of Vic’s criminal activities –
a web of violence that stretches to Barbados and back, and connects him to the deaths of JT’s beloved wife and daughter.

Embroiled in a world of drugs, corruption, voodoo and the legacy of slavery, can JT escape the demons of his past as he returns to the island of his birth?

My review:

A haunted man.
A buried past.
A journey into darkness.

“What you want, ain’t always what you deserve”
Old Bajan saying

The novel is the third JT Ellington novel in the series. I am a HUGE fan of the protagonist! A Bajan enquiry agent who fled his previous life in Barbados, for a new life in Bristol. The previous two novels help you understand the background and character depth. It almost feels as though the series has been progressing to JT’s return to sunny Barbados and the revenge he so desperately seeks. But no one could have foreseen the brutal and harsh storyline that is, Restless Coffins…….

‘The traitors path leads to the fire’

The novel opens in 1934, a young JT with his younger sister Bernice. As they set off for a day of fishing at Ginger Bay, St Philip Parish, Barbados. They share the usual childhood and sibling rivalry; mocking each other as a sign of affection. The description is brilliant and really sets the bar for authors skill at describing a scene to perfection. Even the part where a young JT and Bernice stumble across the body of a dead police man……..

This is the first novel in the series, to offer an insight into JT’s childhood experiences. Memories, passages and details are drip fed throughout the entire novel. It offers up a great insight into how JT became the man he is. JT is often portrayed as a brooding character, a deep thinker.
In this novel we learn exactly why, he thinks first and acts later.
The heavy price JT has paid for his past actions, weighs heavy on his shoulders. Following him, haunting him and refusing to let go…

‘Sealed coffins could be opened to reveal the wonders of the undead’

In the present-day JT is now living on a narrow boat at Bristol harbour. When he is informed by his postman Harry Parkin; that he has delivered a telegram to Vic’s gym, JT’s workplace. He has no idea who or why anyone would send him a telegram. Just a gut feeling, that it must be bad news.

“Boy, yuh ‘member nuthin’ travels faster than bad news”

The telegram is from his cousin Vic, informing him of his sister Bernice’s death. JT is devastated with the news, after already surviving so much pain. He must now return to Barbados to settle Bernice’s affairs. He momentarily reminisces about his loving mother Cora and cruel father Clifford. We learn about Cora’s previous employment, working for the Monroe family. A family whose history is entwined with the Ellington families,
for all the wrong reasons.
JT then receives a call from a mysterious young woman named Evangeline Laveau. She claims to be working on Vic’s behalf and gives JT the details of his travel arrangements. Before he travels onto Barbados, he must meet with Vic in New York.

JT arrives at JFK airport to be met by Evangeline, Clefus Hopkins and Pigfoot. They arrange to drive him to Harlem and in-particular the MAME – Metropolitan African Methodist Episcopal church. Where JT is handed a strange tiny coffin by a witch doctor named Obeah. The whole situation is eerie and I was desperate to understand how this voodoo element would play into the main theme of the plot.

Evangeline’s back story is fully explored. I really like her as a character. She is feisty, strong and yet raw and vulnerable in moments. She does her best to assist JT in his pursuit of Vic and transportation to Barbados. But whatever they do, any clues they come across, all paths lead back to Conrad Monroe. If you are new to the series, when you uncover why JT hates Conrad Monroe so deeply, it will shock you to your core…

‘A ghost from my past whom I feared and hated in equal measure’

Eventually JT and Evangeline make their way to New Orleans. Where Evangeline warns JT of the cultural differences between NY and the deep south. She warns him of the Jim Crow laws and the barefaced racism that is allowed to thrive unchallenged. I felt concerned for JT, although he had experienced considerable racism in the UK, now he was entering KKK territory!

‘I knew what it was like to live inside my own black skin and realised that my colour dictated how most white folk treated me’ JT

The dialogue in the novel is superb and adds to the already diverse and cultured themes. There is a scene in chapter 25, that rips your heart clean out! The author does not hold back, in terms of showing the violence and vicious behaviour that goes hand in hand with devout racism. It is at this point that I longed for JT to be reunited with Vic.
One man can only suffer, so much pain!

‘Victor Ellington is an enigma’

When JT and Vic are finally reunited. There are many unanswered questions and JT must face up to some extremely harsh truths. Vic informs him of his full intentions for vengeance upon their return to Barbados. “Tings, they gonna git bloody when we git home, yuh know that, don’t yuh”. It is at this point that JT fully understands his cousin’s plans.

‘When you know a man like Vic, the shadow of death was never too far away from your soul’

The novel builds and builds; with layer upon layer of detail from the past to the present. Eventually building to the ultimate showdown. But what peace of mind, will revenge bring to JT? Does he have the darkness within him to pursue it?

JT is an emotionally deep protagonist and Restless Coffins, deals with those whom have pained him the most. The Bajan history is handled with intelligence and care to ensure a thought-provoking read. The characters are iconic, and all have essential backstory’s. The historical accuracy, dialogue and characters are all great examples of expert writing.
An exceptional novel 5* Genius!

“People dying all the time, JT… This time the right folk gonna be headin’ fo’ the grave” – Vic

m-p-wright
M.P. Wright
Authors Links:
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#Review and Q&A Blood Truth by @coylem @oceanviewpub #AmericanNoir 4* #NewRelease

*I received an arc via the publisher is return for an honest review*

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Blood Truth by Matt Coyle
Synopsis:

A hard-boiled PI novel for fans of Raymond Chandler, Ross MacDonald and Dashiell Hammett.

Rick Cahill has long feared the truth about his own blood—the blood of his father coursing through his veins.

When a long-hidden safe unlocks clues about why his father was kicked off the police force twenty-seven years ago and then spiraled into an early drunken death, Rick determines to find the truth even if it proves the one thing he’s always feared.

But as he grapples with his father’s past, the woman he still loves pleads with him to find out if her husband is having an affair—or is involved in something much more sinister. Could the truth send her back into Rick’s arms? Would he have a last shot at happiness? He may never get the chance to find out, as killers who will do anything to protect their secrets lurk in the shadows.

My review:

I am completely new to the writing of Matt Coyle, but I am a huge fan of American noir. I love the crime fiction novels that revolve around specific divisions of the justice system or like this one, feature an intriguing PI.
Rick Cahill is the (PI) private investigator, he is the son of a rumoured disgraced police officer. Nobody has ever uncovered the truth, and this has burdened Cahill all his life. He deals with feelings of shame and self-hatred.
He longs to discover the truth but fears what that truth maybe………..

“We can’t quit just because things get hard” – Cahill motto

This novel covers two separate cases. The novels narrative jumps between the two, keeping you firmly on your toes.
You do not want to miss clues and the backstory, so play close attention to the writing.

The first case revolves around Cahill’s father. He is alerted that a safe exists in the family’s old home. The home was sold off many years previously. But the new owner tracks down the original owner of the safe, Cahill’s father.
Which in turn, leads to Cahill opening the safe……
What he finds, generates so many questions and confirms the inner belief, that his father was a dirty cop. But Cahill, being Cahill, wont rest until he can prove his theories.
No matter how painful they are.

The second case involves Cahill’s ex-lover Kim. She seeks to hire Cahill to spy on her husband and find out if he is being unfaithful. This also creates internal pain for Cahill, as Kim was the one that got away!
She is now married and pregnant. However, days after a positive pregnancy test, she finds her husbands second phone. A series of texts sent to a woman named Sophia Domingo. But who is Sophia Domingo? Is her husband really having an affair, so early in their marriage?
Kim needs answers, so she hires Cahill, as she knows he is the best in town, at what he does.
Rick Cahill’s characterisation is brilliantly written. The back story of his father’s career end and plight into alcoholism, makes for eye-opening reading. He has always believed that, sometimes you have to do what’s right, even if the law says it’s wrong, but never for personal gain. I felt that his internal struggle was that in some way, he would become his father. He feels great shame of the man his father became after the loss of his career.
The writing of this and how it has impacted Cahill’s life from childhood, to adolescence to adulthood, is intense.

Sophia Domingo and the mysterious affair. A case that also throws up more and more twists. I actually really liked Sophia as a character. She is a feisty woman, determined to get what she wants in life. She doesn’t care for who she hurts in the process. Sophia is quite the anomaly, because despite her behaviour being distasteful. I found myself smirking at the way she manipulates people with ease.
I also think it is a great testament to an author, who can write such a different bunch of characters exceptionally well.

The items found in the safe, lead Cahill to a cold case from 27 years ago. A cold case with ties to the mob, police corruption and caused much suffering for all it effected. Cahill asks his PI partner Moira for her, something she may come to regret! Moira is another fantastically written character and I enjoyed every page she was on!
Cahill refuses to back away from the case. But he is unaware it will strike right at the heart of the La Jolla police department; uncovering corruption others would prefer to stay buried with Cahill’s father.
Was Charles Henry Cahill a dirty cop? Where will the clues in the safe, lead Cahill? Who is watching Cahill? And do they seek to silence him forever?

This novel is perfect for fans of American hard-boiled PI novels.
It is a cracking read and Rick Cahill and Matt Coyle, have a new fan!

Q&A:

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

A) I’m the author of the Rick Cahill crime series. The series has won the Anthony, Ben Franklin Silver, and San Diego book Awards and been nominated for The Macavity, Shamus, and Lefty Awards. I’ve worked in the restaurant, golf, and sports collectibles businesses. Although I knew I wanted to write crime fiction as a kid when my father gave me THE SIMPLE ART OF MURDER by Raymond Chandler, I came to writing later in life.

BLOOD TRUTH is the fourth Rick Cahill book. Rick has long feared the truth about his own blood, the blood of his father coursing through his veins. When a long-hidden safe unlocks clues about why his father was kicked off the police force and then spiralled into an early drunken death, Rick searches for the truth even if it proves the one thing he’s always feared.

As Rick grapples with his father’s past, the woman he still loves pleads with him to discover if her husband is having an affair or is involved in something much darker.

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

A) The mystery about his father had been hovering over Rick since the first book, YESTERDAY’S ECHO. The shame, guilt, and disappointment of his father’s demise has been a determining factor in who Rick has become, good and bad. I knew the mystery had to be solved at some point and felt this book was the perfect place to do it. That was made all the more poignant when my own father passed shortly before I started writing the book. With my father’s passing, the flashback scenes of Rick with his father caused me to think about my own relationship with my dad. This made for a difficult, but, ultimately, very rewarding write.

The father/son journey figured to be enough for one book, but I wanted Rick to have other obstacles to overcome as he tried to unravel his father’s mystery. It made sense to have Kim, Rick’s ex-girlfriend involved as she was one of the few people in Rick’s life who he’d ever loved.

I don’t outline. My process is very organic. In other words, I’m disorganised. That used to worry me, but doesn’t anymore as I’ve come to trust the process. My subconscious works overtime when I write and I’ve learned to trust it. This method proved helpful in BLOOD TRUTH, as the thematic connection between the parallel plots became apparent to me with a simple statement by Kim that initially was just a chapter ender but came to have much greater influence on the story.

Q) What are your favourite authors and recommended reads?

A) My favorites go way back to Hemingway, Fitzgerald, Sir Author Conan Doyle, Chandler and Ross Macdonald. Contemporary favorites are Robert Crais, T. Jefferson Parker, Michael Connelly, and Megan Abbott.
A few recommends are: THE SUN ALSO RISES, by Hemingway, SILENT JOE, by T. Jefferson Parker, and SUSPECT by Robert Crais.

Q) What were your childhood/teenage favourite reads?

A) My brother gave me THE COMPLETE ORIGINAL ILLUSTRATED SHERLOCK HOLMES for Christmas one year and I read every tiny-fonted story in the tome. I also read all the Agatha Christie books I could get my hands on.

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

A) The night I won the Anthony Award for Best First Novel still stands out as my favorite memory. Winning the award was obviously a thrill, but I got to celebrate it with people who had been instrumental in me being in that position. My agent, Kimberley Cameron, who said yes to me after years of so many others saying no and who continues to be a wonderful advocate for my work, was sitting next to me when the award was announced. My publishers at Oceanview, who gave an unknown author with no writing creds and no platform a chance, were in the audience, as was a member of my writers group who had helped shape YESTERDAY’S ECHO into something publishable. Having those folks, as well as other friends, there to celebrate was truly special.

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

A) My family has been very supportive along the way. My mother, who never lived to see me published or even get an agent, always believed in me. My father supported me throughout, but his early encouragement was instrumental in me carrying on through some of the tough times. My brother and sisters have turned into guerrilla marketers of my books.
I learned early on in the writing process that you can’t write in a cocoon and become successful. You need people to critique your work along the way and I’ve been lucky to be in some great writers groups.
My agent, part cheerleader, part velvet hammer, is always in my corner encouraging me. I wouldn’t be where I am without her.

MC
Matt Coyle
Authors Links:
http://mattcoylebooks.com/
https://www.facebook.com/matt.coyle.77
Twitter: @coylem

Author bio:
I grew up in the tract home section of La Jolla, California, battling my Irish/Portuguese brother and sisters for respect and the best spot on the couch in front of the TV. I was a sports addict as a kid, but realized early on that I’d never be good enough to turn pro. Or even amateur.

That didn’t matter because I knew I wanted to be a writer at the age of twelve when my father gave me The Simple Art of Murder by Raymond Chandler.

Somehow, I smuggled a degree in English out of the University of California, Santa Barbara and decided to write the great American novel. That lasted two months until I realized I needed to eat and I got a job at a restaurant back in La Jolla. After managing the restaurant for years, I sold golf clubs for a decade and then went to work in the sports collectible business.

Thirty years after beginning the great American novel I finished it as a thriller, instead. Yesterday’s Echo is the first in the series of Rick Cahill crime novels. I’m currently working on book two in San Diego, where I live with my Yellow Lab, Angus.

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

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Blood Truth by Matt Coyle
Available now in the UK and USA