Anne Bonny #BlogTour #Extract Brotherhood by @DavidBeckler1 @SapereBooks #NewRelease #MasonAndSterling #Thriller #Series #Manchester

Brotherhood by David Beckler


An ex-Marine is forced to confront his troubled past…

Manchester, England, 1998

When Byron Mason’s estranged nephew, Philip, rings him out of the blue in desperate need of help, he knows he must put his personal feelings aside to protect his family.

A teenage boy has been murdered, and Philip is one of the suspects.

Worse than that, the dead boy was the nephew of Ritchie McLaughlin – a local thug who Byron has clashed with in the past – and Philip has now gone missing.

Desperate to clear Philip’s name, Byron enlists the help of his old friend Adam Sterling to track down the real killers.

Is Philip in danger? Can Byron and Adam find him before the police do?

Or has Byron’s violent past with McLaughlin come back to haunt him…?


The loud click from the speaker above the hatch into the kitchen announced another fire-call and Firefighter Adam Sterling groaned with frustration. He wanted to be busy, but this was the fourteenth shout of the night and he still hadn’t finished the evening meal he’d started six hours earlier. He wolfed down another mouthful of chilli, now a congealed mess following several trips to the hotplate and rushed to the engine house as the piercing notes of the siren faded away. The others waited on the first pump.
“Come on, slowcoach,” Station Officer Reid said.
“Sorry, Boss. I had to have food, I’m bloody starving.”
“Gannet,” Mal observed, to laughter.
The pump lurched out of the engine house and Adam stepped into his boots before pulling up his leggings. The vehicle raced round the first corner and Adam braced himself, glancing across at Mal, his partner for the night. With over twenty years’ service, Mal was ‘senior man’ and the team leader. Adam noticed he’d already dressed and was struggling into the straps of his breathing apparatus set.
“You’d better hurry, Adam. It’s just around the corner.”
A rush of adrenaline energised Adam and, thrusting his arms into the sleeves of his tunic, he fastened the zip. The two pumps made their way through deserted streets, and blue lights reflected from windows as they glided past. The brakes hissed and the pump came to a stop. Eager to see what awaited, Adam slid across the bench seat and followed Mal out onto the pavement, the heavy cylinder on his back making him clumsy. Just behind them, thick black smoke poured out of an opening above the front door of a terraced house. A mixture of excitement and apprehension made Adam’s pulse race.
“Okay, lads. Go under air. Mike, check round the back. Pete, get the sledgehammer,” Station Officer Reid said, his voice calm.
Adam started up his set and the comforting flow of cool air passed over his cheeks. He pulled the head-straps tight and took a deep breath before putting on his helmet and following Mal along the line of hose which had sprouted across the pavement. Mal reached the end and picked up the branch plugged into it, releasing a blast of water into the gutter. Adam seized the tail of hose and concentrated on trailing Mal. The voices and sounds of the pumps merged into the background. The splintered remains of the door lay beside the front steps and Mal crouched in the doorway.
Behind Adam, Reed hovered, trying to see past his men. “Check for missing floorboards, Adam, and look out for needles. These houses are popular with junkies. Find the electrics and knock them off.”
Adam listened to these instructions, his mind on what awaited them, and he ran through what he’d learned in the last three years and countless hours of training. Mal blasted the ceiling ahead of them and a shower of debris fell. When this stopped, he led Adam into the house. Thick, viscous smoke engulfed them when they stepped through the front door, absorbing the beams of their lamps. Adam kept low, but within seconds heat infiltrated his flash-hood, forcing him lower. Dragging the hose he followed Mal into the smoke. Mal blasted the fire and the hose jerked in Adam’s hands, like a serpent coughing. The water hit the flames, generating clouds of steam which enveloped the two men. Intense heat penetrated Adam’s clothing and sweat poured off him. He panted, using up precious air.
Adam went even lower, trying to burrow into the floor, searching for the cooler atmosphere. He ignored the lumps of debris jabbing him through his leggings and crawled into the house. The sounds of another team came from behind, and their shuffling steps on wooden treads told him they were going upstairs. He found it hot enough downstairs. It would be worse for them, fighting their way through the layers of heat.
Mal grabbed his shoulder. “The main fire’s in the back room. Do you want to take it?” he said, his voice muffled by the facemask.
He thrust the branch into Adam’s hands and moved aside to let him pass. Adam tucked the hose under his arm and Mal dropped in behind him, keeping a hand on his shoulder. Flame showed under the smoke and leaning forward, Adam fired off a blast of water. More steam enveloped him and he could see nothing. Then it cleared and the flames returned, smaller and less bright.
He advanced and sprayed them again. Mal disappeared, giving Adam a moment’s anxiety until sounds of his colleague searching the adjacent room reassured him. He crouched in the doorway and blasted the ceiling of the room beyond until bits of it stopped falling.
Mal returned. “Let’s go in.”
Adam moved into the room attacking the flames each side of the doorway. They died as he hit them and the heat reduced. Centimetres at a time, they advanced, knocking down the fire.
“Hole in the floor on our left, Adam.”
Prompted by the call, he checked each step but soon reached the far wall. A scan of the room confirmed he’d extinguished the fire.
“Give me a hand here?” Mal’s voice came from his left and leaving the hose, Adam shuffled across to join him. “Window’s got a security grille.” Mal gripped Adam’s sleeve and directed his hand to a smooth piece of metal. “This end feels loose at the top. You’re taller, can you knock it out?”
He hit it with the heel of his hands until the end popped out, creating an opening at the edge of the board. Adam pushed the panel, widening the gap. Smoke and steam rushed out of the top of the opening and cool clean air replaced it. After more pushing, another anchor point gave way and working together, they removed the metal plate, leaving a wide hole. The air cleared and Adam’s torch illuminated the back room. Broken kitchen cabinets lined two walls and, in the gap for a cooker, stood a wheelie bin.
“We’ll use the bin to put the crap in,” Mal said, then the radio on his set crackled.
“Station Officer, come in.” The sub officer’s urgent tone made Adam pause.
“Go ahead, Mike.”
“Geoff, we have persons reported.”
The news sent a jolt through Adam. Although he knew they should treat every building as if it might contain casualties, he hadn’t seriously thought they’d find someone in here.
“Say again, Mike?”

D Beckler image
David Beckler

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Brotherhood Blog Tour (1)

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

Lying And Dying by Graham Brack

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

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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#BlogTour #GuestPost Mina Scarletti #GhostHunter An Unquiet Ghost by @LindaStratmann @SapereBooks #NewRelease #HistoricalFiction #AnUnquietGhost

An Unquiet Ghost
An Unquiet Ghost by Linda Stratmann

Brighton, 1871.

Mina Scarletti is becoming well known for unmasking fraudulent psychics. So it is no surprise to her when a young couple write to her seeking her advice.

George Fernwood and Mary Clifton, betrothed distant cousins, have a family secret that is preventing them from getting married. Twenty years ago, their alcoholic grandfather died in his bed and since then rumours have been circulating that someone in the family murdered him.

Desperate to find out the truth, they have decided to seek out a medium to communicate with their grandfather, and they want Mina to help them find one who is genuine.

Though she is not a believer in ghosts, Mina is intrigued by the family mystery and decides to help them in any way she can.

Could one of the new mediums advertising in Brighton really be genuine? Will they help George and Mary find the answers they are looking for?

Or will this Unquiet Ghost ruin the chance of happiness for future generations …?

Guest Post:

Mina Scarletti, Ghost Hunter by Linda Stratmann

The Mina Scarletti books are set in 1870s Brighton, a time when spirit mediums were all the rage, and hardly any investigation had been carried out into their activities. It was a glorious opportunity for charlatans with some conjuring skills to make a living and sometimes a small fortune, out of the curiosity and grief of others.
Mina Scarletti is determined to be no-one’s fool and never an object of pity. She is 4ft 8” tall, her body twisted by scoliosis. Told that she must never marry and have children, she decides to make as much of her life as she can, and when she is not writing ghost stories she takes a mischievous pleasure in exposing fraudsters who try to fleece vulnerable people.
Her enquiries will take her to seances where apparitions glow in the dark, tables rise in the air and fresh flowers appear from nowhere. The magician’s art will demonstrate how a disembodied hand can write messages from the spirits, and chalk predictions on sealed slates. Mina will reveal a scandal in the Royal Pavilion with the assistance of a chess automaton, and in her most recent adventure she will solve a 20 year old murder.
There are upsets in her own family, too; the indiscretions of her wilful sister Enid, and the attempts of Richard her charming scallywag of a brother to make his fortune without actually having to work. She does have valuable friends; the wise Dr Hamid, proprietor of an oriental steam bath, and Nellie, a former conjuror’s assistant who has plenty of tricks up her sleeve; but she also makes a dangerous enemy.
I am currently writing the fourth book in the series in which Mina is asked to investigate a haunted mansion.

Linda Stratmann picture
Linda Stratmann
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