*REVIEW* ~ Deadly Lies (DI Mariner #1), by Chris Collett

#crimedrama #policeprocedural

Blurb

Journalist Eddie Barham is found dead in his home. A syringe is in his arm and a note by his side reads, ‘No More.’

Open and shut case of suicide? Not for DI Mariner. Hours before, he saw Barham picking up a woman in a bar. And then Mariner discovers Barham’s younger brother, Jamie, hiding in a cupboard under the stairs.

Jamie is the only witness to his brother’s death, but his severe autism makes communication almost impossible. Mariner is determined to connect with Jamie and get to the truth. Is the journalist’s death related to his investigation of a local crime kingpin?

What other dark secrets does Jamie hold the key to and can Mariner keep his relationship professional with Barham’s attractive sister, Anna?

In a nail-biting conclusion, Mariner races against time to prevent more lives being lost.

Perfect for fans of Peter James, Ian Rankin and Peter Robinson.

My Review

A Cracking Crime Drama – 5 stars

Deadly Lies by Chris Collett is a cracking character driven crime drama which had me guessing until the thrilling denouement. The book introduces the reader to DI Tom Mariner, the central character in the ensuing series, and can be read as a standalone. It is the first book I have read that is billed as a Police Procedural, and I was unsure as to what to expect. What I did find was that I was very quickly sucked into the suspenseful plot and the relationships between the chief protagonists.

Although the death of the journalist Eddie Barham in his home at first appears to be an open and shut case of suicide, DI Mariner is determined to leave no stone unturned. He focuses his investigation on not only the woman who he saw the deceased pick up at a Birmingham bar but also on attempting to communicate with Jamie Barham, Eddie’s severely autistic younger brother, who was found locked in a cupboard at the scene.

The latter part of his investigation brings him into contact with Anna, Jamie’s sister, and the very personal connection they forge adds further tension to the novel. Both have baggage from their past and I found their ‘will they won’t they’ relationship particularly well portrayed by the author.  DI Mariner’s relationships with his colleagues are depicted in a realistic way and I found him to be a fascinating albeit flawed character. The novel is full of suspense as the investigation leads Tom Mariner into the underbelly of the city of Birmingham and to adopt some unexpected and often unpalatable leads involving drugs, prostitution and criminal gangs. I enjoyed the numerous twists and turns as he strives to solve the case.

One of the big pluses in the book for me was the complexity and humanity of the main characters, who due to their various foibles came across as very believable. It also examines the challenges faced by those with autism and their families.

All in all an enthralling start to the series. The author has created a fascinating character in that of Tom Mariner. I am curious as to how his crime solving journey and his personal one progresses and will be reading other books in the series.

Reviewed by Tina Williams

Please note that a copy of this book was given to me by the author for the purpose of a fair and honest review.

Purchase Links

Amazon UK  Amazon US

Connect with the Author

http://www.chriscollettcrime.co.uk/

https://www.facebook.com/chriscollettcrime/

Twitter

Goodreads

Tamworth Literary Festival Brings to Life the Written Word

 

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Tamworth LitFest 2017 Celebrates the Written Word

Tamworth’s inaugural Literary Festival (3-11 March 2017), has LOTS to interest fans of all genres and  includes theatre, live stand-up and more!

Opening Night

bookshopme2-carol-wyerCarol E Wyer, who writes both humorous and thriller fiction, will be opening the festival at 7.00pm on Friday 3rd March at Tamworth Central Methodist Church with her signature stand-up routine alongside Birmingham’s Ministry of Improv (tickets £5 per head). Carol’s recent release, Little Girl Lost, a serial killer novel, reached number 2 in Amazon’s digital download charts.

An Evening with Author Mike Gayle

Meet Romantic Fiction author Mike Gayle on Monday 6th March. Mike, the author of twelve novels including Mr mg_colourCommitment, Turning Thirty and Wish You Were Here, will be at Tamworth Town Hall at 7.00pm (£4 per head). Mike  became a full time novelist in 1997 following the publication of his Sunday Times top ten bestseller My Legendary Girlfriend in 1997, which was hailed by The Independent as ‘Full of belly laughs and painfully acute observations,’ and by The Times as ‘A funny, frank account of a hopeless romantic.’

20 Years of Not Being Published…

poultonsmith2_400x400On Tuesday 7th March local Author Anthony Poulton-Smith presents… 20 Years of Not Being Published. The author of 74 published works, Anthony offers tips and advice based on his mistakes and experiences. The event takes place in Tamworth Central Library at 1.00pm (£3 per ticket).

A Case of Mistaken Identity…

Shoebox Theatre’s performance of the medieval ballad/mummers play King Edward IV and a Tannertanner-of-tamworth-image-project-gutenberg of Tamworth, has its own suspected crime scene. Witness how the hapless Tanner mistakes the king for a common thief and has to face the consequences for his error! The performance takes place at 7.00pm on the evening of Wednesday 8th March at the Central Methodist Church in Tamworth. Tickets priced £4 per person.

Author Crime Panel

crime-panel-thursday-march-9th-lf-2017A Crime Panel, chaired by Gary Hyde a former policeman takes place on Thursday 9th March. The panel comprises:

Crime fiction writer Hugh Fraser (Captain Hastings from Poirot);

Chris Collett, whose latest publication A Good Death continues the compulsive series of books based in Birmingham, featuring DI Tom Mariner;

Stephen Booth, who writes the iconic Cooper and Fry series set in the Peak District, and

True crime author Gordon Lowe, whose most recent publication examines the notorious Black Panther.

The panel will examine the similarities and differences of writing crime fiction and true crime. The event, which takes place in The Globe Inn, Tamworth at 7.00 pm, costs £5 per head.

The Origins and Meanings of Local Pub Names

On Friday 10th March local Author Anthony Poulton-Smith looks at the Origins and Meanings of Local Pub Names. The event takes place in Tamworth Castle (£3 per ticket, payable at the door).

Thriller Panel

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A free to attend Thriller Panel takes place at 2.00 pm Saturday 11th March in St Editha’s Church Hall, featuring AA Abbott and Rob rob-sinclairSinclair. AA Abbott writes addictive crime thrillers about murder and mayhem, often set in Birmingham and the City of London. Her latest novel The Vodka Trail is available in e-book and dyslexia-friendly paperback. Rob Sinclair is the author of the critically acclaimed and bestselling Enemy series of espionage thrillers featuring embattled agent Carl Logan. His latest release is the pulsating psychological thriller Dark Fragments.

Free to Attend Book Blasts and More!

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J A Heron, author of the Erotic Thriller, 30 Days, and Ian Cawley, author of Gnosis, a Techno/Political Thriller, are just some of the 20+ authors at the festival’s two free Book Blasts in St Editha’s Church Hall on Saturday 4th and Saturday 11th March.

Other authors and genres include: Lucy Felthouse (Erotic Romance), Simon Goodwin (Horror), Pat Spence (Young Adult Paranormal and Romance), Sara Read (Women’s History), Vivian Khan (Cookery and poetry), Heide Goody (humour and paranormal), Sharon Rose (Inspirational and Self-Help) and representatives from New Street Authors (true crime, paranormal, horror, Steam Punk and more).

New Street Authors will also be holding a writing and self and indie publishing session, How Indie Authors Took Over the World, covering how you can turn your ideas into books (March 4th) and a DIY guide to Punk Publishing (11 March). Both sessions are free to attend.

Pop into the Book Blasts anytime between 10am-4.pm to meet authors, publishers and poets for advice and chat. Many books will be on offer and there will be FREE refreshments. To help us plan for the day you can register on our Eventbrite pages:

https://www.eventbrite.com/e/tamworth-litfest-book-blast-author-signings-more-tickets-31221992821?aff=es2

https://www.eventbrite.com/e/tamworth-litfest-book-blast-author-signings-thriller-panel-more-tickets-31409986114?aff=es2

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To Book Tickets

To book tickets telephone 07562 653565/07913 686295 or email tamlitfest@gmail.com

https://www.facebook.com/TamworthLiteraryFestival/

Image of King Edward IV and the Tanner of Tamworth courtesy of Project Gutenberg

 

Review Round-Up Jan ’15

Hi readers, we are well into January now but we do hope that you enjoyed the holiday season and that you have a Happy New Year. I am amazed that over the last month Tina and myself have managed to review fifteen books and hope that you enjoy reading all about them.

Romance is certainly a strong theme for the following books but we still cover the historical, contemporary, chick-lit, erotica, paranormal and sci-fi (and festive) genres, as well as having a paranormal thriller/horror and a crime drama in the mix too!

As always, you can click on the book title for the full review and more!

Caroline & Tina ❤

temptinghismistress800Tempting his Mistress by Samantha Holt, historical romance (reviewed by Tina)

Blurb: What could possibly induce at woman to follow in the footsteps of her mother and further sully her reputation by becoming a mistress?

Lilly Claremont is well used to being at the centre of gossip. Being the illegitimate child of a rich businessman never failed to titillate the gossips and while she cared little about the wagging tongues she never intended to reinforce their opinions of her by ruining herself completely.

But it seems Lord Hawksley is determined to make the fascinating Lilly his mistress…

Evan has no doubt her bold tongue and beautiful body could keep him entertained for some time. Captivated by her, he must find a way to burn through his desire for her. He cannot marry a woman of such social standing so why not make her his mistress?

After the murder of her father, Lilly is searching for answers and they lead her directly to Lord Hawksley. But will they also lead her to his bed…?

All I Want for ChristmasAll I Want for Christmas by Amy Silver, contemporary holiday romance, chick-lit (reviewed by Caroline)

Blurb: It’s Bea’s first Christmas with her baby son, and this year she’s determined to do everything right. But there is still so much to do: the Christmas menu needs refining; her café, The Honey Pot, needs decorating; and she’s invited the whole neighbourhood to a party on Christmas Day. She really doesn’t have time to get involved in two new people’s lives, let alone fall in love…

When Olivia gets knocked over in the street, however, Bea can’t help bringing her into The Honey Pot and getting to know her. Olivia’s life is even more hectic than her own, and with her fiancé’s entire family over from Ireland for Christmas, she shouldn’t be lingering in the cosy warmth of Bea’s café. Chloe, on the other hand, has nowhere else to go. Her affair with a married man has alienated her friends, and left her lonelier than ever.

But Christmas is a magical time, and in the fragrant atmosphere of The Honey Pot, anything can happen: new friends can be made, hearts can heal, and romance can finally blossom…

A True Alpha ChristmasA True Alpha Christmas (novella of the True Alpha series) by Alisa Woods, new adult, paranormal romance (reviewed by Caroline)

STAND-ALONE NOVELLA – best enjoyed after reading the True Alpha Box Set (Vol 1-6)

Blurb: Shifters live in the shadows of Seattle, just under the skin of the alpha male, dot-com entrepreneurs who are building a new Silicon Valley in the Emerald City. Mia is your everyday college girl, trying to earn her business degree—and a shifter who’s long hidden her identity from everyone, including her mother, who believes shifter is synonymous with criminal. Six months ago, sexy and powerful alpha-male Lucas rescued her in an alley and claimed her for his mate. Now Mia’s heart belongs to Lucas, and everyone in the world of shifters understands the magic of their mating has bonded them for life. But in the human world, there’s no wedding ring on her finger to show for it. With Christmas looming, Mia’s mother wants to finally meet Mia’s mysterious and high-powered live-in lover. With her human and shifter lives about to irrevocably collide, Mia fears there will be nothing but broken hearts in the end.

A True Alpha Christmas is 80 pages or 20,000 words. This novella can be read as a standalone, but readers will enjoy it more if they read the True Alpha serial (Vol 1-6) first.

23249978Long Gone Girl (short story) by Amy Rose Bennett, erotic romance (reviewed by Tina)

Blurb: After returning home from the Korean War a widow, former MASH surgical nurse, Ginny Williams, heads to the Jersey Shore for a weekend of much needed R&R. But her plans to do nothing more than relax on the beach go seriously awry when the boy who broke her heart on Prom night nine years ago—the now hotter-than-hot ‘fly-boy’ Jett Kelly—shows up on her patch of sand. To make matters worse, Captain Kelly seems to be on a mission to win her trust, and maybe even her heart again. But the last thing Ginny wants is a man—especially one like Jett—in her life. She’s a career nurse now, and that’s that. If only Jett wasn’t so damned charming and attractive

US air force pilot, Captain Jefferson ‘Jett’ Kelly Junior is blown away to have stumbled across the beautiful yet shy and bookish girl he used to have a huge crush on in high school—especially now that Ginny is all grown up and sexy as hell. Problem is, she’s also not backward in coming forward when letting him know she hasn’t forgiven him for the Prom-kiss-gone-wrong incident. Even though Jett knows he’ll have his work cut out for him to get a second chance with her, he’s definitely going to give it his best shot…

Despite Ginny’s determination to keep her head—she’s certainly not the naïve girl she used to be—when Jett starts to unashamedly woo her, she soon realizes that maybe her heart didn’t get the memo…

FallingDragons-200x300Falling Dragons (Moon Shadow series #3) by Angela Castle, erotic paranormal romance (reviewed by Tina)

Blurb: Drugged and running for her life, Dragon Princess, Ophelia, jumps off a rooftop to escape her captors.

Immortal Demon Hunter Simon, is shocked when he catches a falling, redheaded woman. His surprise is short-lived when he faces not only a vicious demon, but those hunting his newly acquired redhead.

In desperate need of protection, and knowing he is her mate, Opie spell-tethers the sexy Demon Hunter to her, not realizing he’s a seventeen-hundred-year-old dragon slayer.

The sexual chemistry explodes between them as they fight each other, in and out of the bedroom. Together, they must battle an evil enemy set on unleashing a soul-sucking demon army into the world, threatening to destroy everything they hold close to their hearts.

Bethany's Heart (Unearthly World #3)Bethany’s Heart (Unearthly World #3) by C. L. Scholey, sci-fi erotic romance (reviewed by Caroline)

Blurb: Amidst the snow and icy wasteland, Earth has become a watery grave to many. Zargonnii warriors Finn and Blu search for any remaining human females. Luck abounds and six females are found struggling to survive. The moment his blazing red eyes settle onto Bethany Finn feels in his heart she is the one he wants to end his loneliness. When Bethany encounters two massive aliens, eyes alight, long white hair wildly flying, she knows the pair are either death or salvation. Their encounter leads Bethany on the wildest adventure of her life. After the Zargonnii ship is annihilated by the enemy a shuttle leads Finn and Bethany straight into the path of peril more times than the couple care to count.

Help, I've Been Abducted by an Alien!Help, I’ve Been Abducted by an Alien! (short story) by Juliet Cardin, sci-fi erotic romance (reviewed by Caroline)

Blurb: Jen joins an alien-abductee group in order to secretly write an article on the subject. Her plans take an unexpected turn when she encounters a UFO in her neighborhood park and gets abducted for real.

Lysander, her sexy captor, informs Jen he’s not taking her home. Earth, he confides, is soon to be impacted by an asteroid and then invaded by a hostile lizard race. Jen is determined to find a way to escape Lysander–who is hell-bent on having her for himself–and return to Earth, before it is too late to prevent its annihilation. 

drug_final_ResizedDrug (The Kassidy Bell trilogy #1) by Lynda O’Rourke, paranormal thriller, horror (reviewed by Caroline)

Blurb: Out of work and out of luck, 19 year-old Kassidy Bell finds herself in desperate need of money.

Coming across a mysterious advert in her local newspaper offering a reward, Kassidy believes she’s found the answer to her prayers.

But Kassidy soon realises that if something is too good to be true then it usually isn’t what it first appears to be. Finding herself in a desperate situation, Kassidy realises that she must run if she is to escape the new horrors she has discovered however great the reward might be.

21948425Mr X by Clarissa Wilde, dark, erotic romance (reviewed by Tina)

18+/Adult Read

Author Note: This is not your average romance story. Some people will kill for love.

Blurb: He’s come to kill me. I’m a user and abuser of my own body. In my darkest hour I sold my soul to the devil and now I must pay the price. With his gun to my head I have no choice but to listen and obey, but I refuse to go down easily. Nothing is stronger than the will to survive. My instincts kicked into full gear the second he stepped into my motel room.Except when I look at him I see my own heart staring back at me. A history tainted by blood.I don’t know his name, but I know he wants me. To save myself I’ll sacrifice my sanity. My body. My soul. Something tells me the x-shaped scar that marks his eye is the only escape I have. He is Mr. X: the man who comes to claim my life. Can I save myself before he demands my heart?

WARNING: This book contains very disturbing situations, dubious consent, breath deprivation, strong language, drugs and alcohol, and graphic violence.

SHEIKH Boxed WebTaken by the Sheikh (Boxed Set) by Christina Phillips, Mel Teshco & Cathleen Ross, contemporary erotic romance (reviewed by Tina)

Book 1: Hostage to the Sheikh ~ Mel Teshco

Sheikh Shahzad Salah al Din doesn’t have time for hearts and flowers, not when his parents’ bodies are barely even cold in their graves and his country, Omana, is on the brink of revolt. He has to secure peace by honoring a long ago arrangement to make English rose, Lexi Galvin, his wife. The trouble is strong-willed Lexi isn’t aware of her royal Arab lineage let alone her destiny. There is only one way Shahzad can guarantee she will be his queen … and he isn’t above using force to get it.

Book 2: The Sheikh’s Mistaken Bride ~ Christina Phillips

In order to secure a powerful alliance for his country, Khalid has no choice but to marry a neighboring princess. It’s not what he wants, but duty must come before pleasure. Yet when he meets the beautiful Sanura he changes his mind… only to discover the virgin in his bed is not his destined bride.

Book 3: Sold to the Sheikh ~ Cathleen Ross

He’d paid a fortune for his bride and he was determined to collect, whether she liked it or not. Rafi Salah al Din doesn’t trust easily. In charge of security for his country Omana, he devotes his life to duty. With his parents murdered it is his duty to stabilize his country by finding his parents’ assassin, marry and produce a son to ensure the Salah al Din line lives on. So why does the wife he bought disagree?

HGF_CoverHeart Grow Fonder by Cristy Rey, adult contemporary romance (reviewed by Tina)

Wrong place. Wrong time. Right people.

Jessie Bravo knows what’s wrong with her life; she just doesn’t know what to do about it. Eleven years ago, she saved Tyler Cantrell from getting his ass kicked by gay-bashing high school jocks. Since, they’ve been the closest of friends. Years later, Jessie circled the drain of chronic depression, spiralling out of control, and it was Tyler’s turn to save her. Who knew her best friend would become a Hollywood A-lister? Though Jessie credits Tyler for keeping her together, living in the shadow of her best friend’s celebrity isn’t all it’s cut out to be. It’s up to Jessie to figure out what she has to do to be happy: get better or get lost.

Stardom is on the horizon for British television actor Boyd Kerrington. He’s starring opposite Tyler Cantrell in an American feature film sure to blow his career out the water. For all the years he’s focused on his career, however, he’s settled in his personal life. That is, until he meets Tyler’s best friend, Jessie. Jessie is refreshingly cool, passionate, and compelling…but she’s also complicated. Worse yet, she’s not interested in remaining in the celebrity stratosphere, even for her lifelong friend.

22855324-2Triple D Dude Ranch by Beverly Ovalle, erotic western contemporary romance (reviewed by Tina)

Blurb: Blaire is a freelance photographer on assignment. She is heading home to Texas, armed with her camera to do a photo feature for the Tribune. Taking photos of the dude ranch, she gets an eyeful of an uninhibited cowboy through her lens. The summer heat of Texas has nothing on the heat he generates in her.

Dan was expecting a photographer but not the sexy urban cowgirl that arrived. He knew it was hot out, he just hadn’t expected the hot and sexy woman to make him burn the minute he caught sight of her. One look and he had to quench this fire inside.

One touch between Dan and Blaire sparks a wildfire that burns hotter than the Texas summer and is just as hard to put out.

Playing the Field (Duty & Desire, Book 4)Playing the Field (Duty & Desire #4) by C.J. Pinard, contemporary military romance, chick-lit (reviewed by Caroline)

Blurb: An overachiever in uniform…

Jace Lawless is an overachiever, a go-getter, and determined to accomplish everything he sets his mind to. After serving his country in the U.S. Marine Corps, and receiving his college degree, he’s picked up by a popular minor league baseball team, all while continuing his service in the USMC reserves.

When Jace meets a beautiful, breathtaking single mother named Miranda Cates, it takes him by surprise. Her shady past and beautiful little girl are the conundrum that both confuses and fascinates Jace. He can’t tear his thoughts away from Miranda, and eventually he believes he can win her over with his dimpled smirk and witty charms.

Once Miranda becomes his, the part of him she hated the most – the part he had kept secret from her for so long – rears its ugly head. Will Miranda lean on her friend Cara for support while staying by his side once he tells her that duty is calling… or will she decide she can’t handle it and take her daughter and leave?

Playing the Field is the fourth and final installment of the Duty & Desire series. Contains adult situations and minor scenes of war. 

Chris Collett 7 Dead of NightDead of Night (A Tom Mariner Mystery #7) by Chris Collett, police procedural, crime drama, thriller (reviewed by Caroline)

Blurb: When a young woman disappears on her way home from work, Detective Inspector Tom Mariner tackles his most challenging investigation yet!

18-year-old Grace Clifton vanishes on her way home from work in the centre of Birmingham late at night, the case is remarkable in that not a single witness comes forward. The more he has to deal with Grace s wealthy and overbearing father, Council Leader Bob Clifton, the more Tom Mariner is inclined to believe that Grace left of her own accord.

Then the package arrives. It contains Grace s clothes, neatly pressed and laundered. A second woman disappears. And a disturbing pattern begins to emerge.

Still adapting to a new investigation team and struggling to pull its members together, Detective Inspector Mariner is about to tackle one of his strangest, most challenging cases to date.

OnceuponarakeOnce Upon a Rake by Samantha Holt, historical romance (reviewed by Tina)

In Victorian England, Little Ellie Browning swiftly discovered happily ever afters did not exist and rakes were simply rakes. When the man she had adored for years kissed her and left her heartbroken and she was forced to marry an elderly earl to save her reputation, she resolved to put any dreams of fairy tales aside.

Seven years later, the now widowed Eleanor, Countess of Hawthorne, has returned to England after years of travelling and is now part-owner of a cotton mill left to her by her late husband.

But the owner of the mill, and the very same handsome rake who hurt her years earlier, has no desire to let a woman interfere with his business, let alone little Ellie Browning—no matter how fascinating he finds her since her transformation from coltish scarecrow to almost graceful countess.

Lucian is still recovering from the after-effects of one of his mills succumbing to fire, and now he’s fighting to save the other in a tough economic climate. He doesn’t need this new distraction, especially when, after a series of accidents, it becomes clear someone wishes the mill to close and he has to find the culprit—fast.

With things heating up between Ellie and Lucian, it’s apparent that not only is the mill in peril—they are both at risk of getting burned…

**REVIEW** Dead of Night (A Tom Mariner Mystery #7) by Chris Collett

After meeting local author, Chris Collett, from Birmingham (UK) and posting a full promo on her police procedural/crime drama set in Birmingham (UK), Dead of Night (A Tom Mariner Mystery #7), I have been waiting for an opportunity to review her work. The exclusive festive post, Cinderella Boy, of a Tom Mariner short story over Christmas gave us an insight into her writing style, which piqued my interest even more as it written so well. This is a true pleasure for fans of crime, police investigations, crime dramas and thrillers. We hope you get gripped and can enjoy the mysteries of Tom Mariner!

Chris Collett 7 Dead of Night

Blurb: When a young woman disappears on her way home from work, Detective Inspector Tom Mariner tackles his most challenging investigation yet!
18-year-old Grace Clifton vanishes on her way home from work in the centre of Birmingham late at night, the case is remarkable in that not a single witness comes forward. The more he has to deal with Grace s wealthy and overbearing father, Council Leader Bob Clifton, the more Tom Mariner is inclined to believe that Grace left of her own accord.
Then the package arrives. It contains Grace s clothes, neatly pressed and laundered. A second woman disappears. And a disturbing pattern begins to emerge.
Still adapting to a new investigation team and struggling to pull its members together, Detective Inspector Mariner is about to tackle one of his strangest, most challenging cases to date.

REVIEW

Certainly a story I will not be forgetting in a hurry, Dead of Night (A Tom Mariner Mystery #7) has it all. From a brilliant, twisting plotline to likable and believable characters, as well as a powerful, emotive and intense atmosphere that will grip you and hold you until the very end.

I love that I threw myself into the series with book 7 and yet was able to warm to the characters immediately, at the same time as becoming aware of their personal situations and how they are connected to Detective Inspector Mariner. The story focuses on Mariner’s perspective as we follow his character through the investigation of a missing woman, leading us to more questions than answers when further women disappear.

Chris Collett remains true to the description of a police procedural as the reader is taken on a journey of the whole investigation, keeping track of what each officer is looking into and the results they achieve. There are times when they get results and times when they hit a brick wall – making the investigation gritty, realistic and believable.

The mystery of the plot is written well, and despite various leads to follow and different characters, it is a read that can be followed easily, yet still surprises. All information is run by him which helps keep everything together, and the reader is aware of his thoughts on the case from very early on and throughout. But one has to admire him for keeping his early instincts to himself. Instead, he asks his immediate officers what they believe could be the case.

As the author has created many likable characters, and allows the reader to become close to them, it also makes for an emotional read at times as you become absorbed in their circumstances and live through the events with them. One of the best examples of this is little Dominique. Dominique is a little girl, living in a tower block with only her mum. Usually going out to work of an evening, while Dominique is tucked up in bed, her mum is usually back home before Dominique gets up. But one morning Dominique awakens to find her mum gone. The hours turn into days and poor little Dominique must be terrified, but still manages to go to school and tries to carry on. This storyline is absolutely heart-breaking and the manner in which it is written – with great care and sensitivity – is so, so powerful.

With the first woman, Grace Clifton, going missing and little to go on initially, when a package of her laundered clothes arrives at the station it is quite eerie but so intensely gripping as it opens up more questions. The twists and turns that the investigation bring up are fantastic and some of it is so subtly written. I could quite easily imagine this to be a televised drama.

I enjoy the team that Mariner works with, as they adjust to working together, and I also like the way in which Mariner’s old team members are incorporated into the story. This makes a great read for new fans of the series, as well as holding fans of the previous books. This also keeps it real with having different characters and seeing how they move on or indeed turn up. And knowing the characters from Tom Mariner’s previous team certainly made me want to retrace their stories and read the previous books of the series – one of them being on maternity leave and another working with an armed squad investigating gun crime!

As events are centred in and around Birmingham (UK) it is very easy for those familiar with the area to follow the sites of the book. From Birmingham Centre’s Symphony Hall, Broad Street and New Street train station, along the Bristol Road and places outside of the centre, making the story more real.

Dead of Night is a story I would strongly recommend for fans of crime dramas and police procedurals. With a strong knowledge of the area, a great deal of research and a disturbing mystery, this story comes alive. And DI Tom Mariner is certainly a detective I want to read more about. I will certainly be going back to read the previous books of the series.

Dead of Night (A Tom Mariner Mystery #7) by Chris Collett is available at Amazon UK and Amazon US.

Reviewed by Caroline Barker

Chris Collett 7 Dead of Night

AUTHOR POST ON ‘DEAD OF NIGHT’ (Chris Collett, Sept ’14, Severn House)

The inspiration for ‘Dead of Night’ came from a number of characters who ‘present themselves’, in the first instance, by air! The Queen Elizabeth, in south Birmingham, is one of the country’s leading military hospitals. For several years now this has meant the regular presence of Chinook helicopters, flying low over the city, bringing in wounded personnel from Afghanistan. Perhaps because of what the Chinooks represent, they seem somehow to be a much more imposing and sinister presence than the more familiar Police surveillance and Air Ambulances, and I quickly found myself very attuned to the distinctive engine sound, louder and deeper than the other aircraft and rather ominous. Each time a Chinook flew over, I couldn’t help imagining the people and drama surrounding its arrival; and from that curiosity emerged Private Craig Lomax and critical care nurse Dee Henderson. At around the same time another recurring scenario had taken up residence in my head; of a small girl waiting outside school at the end of the day for a mum who never appears. That child became Dominique. Finally, the confident and rebellious teenager, striding along Broad Street flicking a defiant cigarette, was Grace Clifton. As the characters emerged, the central narrative that would link them together also began to take shape. In Dead of Night I knew my perpetrator right from the start, but as always, had little idea about where the story would take me before the final revelation.

Chris Collett 7 Dead of Night

EXCERPT FROM ‘DEAD OF NIGHT’

Milton Tower was one of three angular blocks that sprouted out of the dingy grey spread of social housing that was the Fen Bridge estate. Bordered by a fringe of scrubby green grass and a collection of undernourished saplings, it was rendered no more attractive at this time of night by the harsh glare of sodium lighting. Mariner had decided long ago that the council planner who’d come up with name had a sense of the ironic. Paradise had been irretrievably lost in this neighbourhood, somewhere down the back of life’s sofa. Parking his car in the only bay that didn’t seem to excessively sparkle with broken glass, he double checked that it was locked before entering the bare, concrete lobby. In the last couple of years efforts had been made to make the flats more appealing. A jacket of insulation and double glazing had been added around the outside, and the lobby in an overly bright salmon pink, smelled primarily of fresh paint. A couple to one side seemed to be surreptitiously waiting for the lift, but then Mariner noticed the considerable age difference between them and the man’s good quality wool overcoat that seemed to indicate that these were not locals. He went over, already anticipating the negotiations for how the situation should be handled. ‘Hello,’ he said. ‘You’re the teachers from St Martin’s?’

The man, as tall and lean as Mariner and with a fulsome head of grey hair, swept back from his forehead, stood straighter, bridling a little. ‘I’m the head teacher, Gordon Rhys,’ he corrected Mariner, keeping his hands firmly in his pockets. ‘And this is my Year Two teacher Sam McBride.’

‘DI Tom Mariner.’ Mariner held up his warrant card for them to see. He couldn’t help noticing the proprietorial ‘my’ and raised an eyebrow at McBride as they shook hands. Blonde and petite with a shapely figure under her parka, Mariner could imagine that the young teacher had to work hard to be taken seriously.

‘I feel terrible,’ she said. ‘I knew there was something not quite right with Dominique, but I just never guessed that this was what it could be.’

‘We don’t know what it is yet.’ Rhys was impatient. ‘The mother could be anywhere. Might be on the Costa del Sol for all we know.’ He was distracted, keeping an anxious eye on his surroundings, and Mariner realised he was nervous about being here.

‘With respect Gordon, I don’t think that’s very likely,’ Sam said. ‘Mrs Batista isn’t like that.’

‘How would we know, Sam? We know hardly anything about her.’

‘I know enough to understand that she’s a committed parent,’ Sam said, firmly.

‘Have you any idea where she works?’ Mariner asked, partly to diffuse what he sensed was a growing tension.

Sam frowned. ‘I don’t think I’ve ever really known, although for some reason I’ve had an impression that it’s somewhere in the city centre. On the odd occasions I’ve tried to talk to Dominique about her mum’s work, she’s completely clammed up. The contact number we have on file is a personal mobile number, but that’s nothing unusual.’

‘Have you tried calling it?’

‘Yes, about half a dozen times,’ said McBride. ‘It just goes straight to voice mail.’

‘It’s probably because the job is cash-in-hand and she’s claiming benefits as well,’ said Rhys. ‘It happens you know,’ he added, as if it were proof.

‘Actually, I don’t think that has anything to do with it.’ McBride said, flushing deeply. ‘When we’ve had school trips Mrs Batista has always paid her contribution, and she’s never asked for-’

Rhys effectively cut her off by ostentatiously checking his watch. ‘Now that you’re here Inspector, do you actually still need me? We’ve contacted social services, and Sam here is the one who knows Dominique. This has take me away from a meeting that’s been in the diary for some months-,‘

‘That’s fine,’ Mariner cut in, annoyed by the skewed priorities. ‘I’m sure we can take it from here.’ He sought confirmation from Sam McBride.

‘All right with me,’ she said.

‘Good, well, I’ll leave you to it. Best of luck,’ said Rhys, with obvious relief, and hurried towards the main door. As an afterthought he turned back from the doorway. ‘You’ll keep me informed Sam?’

‘Of course.’

‘He’s a charmer,’ said Mariner, when Rhys had gone.

‘Sorry about that,’ said Sam. ‘Gordon’s all right really, but he does seem to have a particular down on single parents, and it makes me a bit defensive. My mum raised me as a single parent and it hasn’t done me any harm.’

‘Nor me,’ said Mariner.

‘Oh.’ She looked at him anew.

‘Just because I look old enough to have grown up in black and white, it wasn’t all Kelloggs cornflake families back then.’ She waited for further elaboration. ‘You haven’t a clue what I’m talking about, have you?’

‘Not really,’ she smiled. It was a sweet smile and Mariner could imagine any child warming to her instantly.

Right,’ he said. ‘Let’s crack on, shall we? I don’t think social services are going to show up any time soon, so if we do find that Dominique’s at home alone we’ll need to take her to Granville Lane police station to wait for them there. How does that sound?’

‘Good,’ said Sam. ‘I only hope she doesn’t freak out when she sees me at this time of night.’

‘I can’t imagine she will,’ said Mariner. ‘Okay, let’s get this done. What’s the flat number?’

Neither of them was inclined to trust the lifts, so Sam led the way up the concrete stairwell, to a flat on the fourth floor, their footsteps echoing as they climbed.

‘I’ll be better if you make the first approach,’ Mariner said to Sam as they climbed the stairs, ‘are you okay to do that?’

Sam indicated that she was. They emerged half way along a narrow landing that had two, equally spaced doors on either side. The lighting was dim, and up here the smell of urine had not been entirely successfully glossed over. Flat forty-one was at the end. The small rectangular reinforced glass window in the top half of the door reminded Mariner of the observation panel in the custody cell doors. It had no light behind it. He knocked hard on the wood and they waited, but there was no response. Squatting down, Sam lifted the letterbox flap and peered in, before calling: ‘Dominique, are you in there? It’s Miss McBride. I’ve just come to see if you’re all right.’

‘Can you see anything?’ Mariner asked.

MacBride straightened up again. ‘No, it’s pitch dark. Maybe I’ve got this completely wrong and she isn’t there. Oh God, what if I’ve got you out here for nothing.’

‘It’s fine,’ said Mariner. ‘Better that than she really is in trouble and we do nothing. Why don’t you try again?’

McBride crouched by the letterbox, pushed up the flap and called again. This time, as she did so, her fingers brushed the rough string. ‘Oh, there’s something here.’ Bit by bit she pulled through the string with its key tied to the end.

‘Christ,’ said Mariner. ‘I hope no one else knows about this.’

‘Do we use it?’ said McBride.

‘It saves me having to demonstrate my manliness by breaking down the door,’ Mariner said. ‘You go first and I’ll follow, just in case she’s in there.’

Opening the door they entered the darkened flat, which felt no warmer on the inside than it had been on the outside landing. McBride flicked the light switch but nothing happened.

‘The meter’s run out,’ said Mariner. He took a torch from his inside coat pocket and switched it on, directing it down at the floor to light the way.

‘Dominique?’ Sam called, softly. They progressed carefully along a short hallway, and McBride pushed open the first door they came to on the left. The torch beam bounced around an empty bedroom. A second door, on the right, was a small bathroom, but as she pushed open the door at the head of the passageway, Mariner saw instantly from McBride’s body language that they had found the little girl.

‘Hi Dominique,’ Sam said brightly. ‘It’s Miss McBride. We were a bit worried about you, so I just came to see if you were all right. I’ve brought my friend Tom.’ As Mariner came into the room, his eyes adjusting to the darkness and keeping the torch beam directed away from Dominique, he was in time to see McBride slowly advancing on the little girl who seemed to be frozen to the spot sitting at the end of a sofa. But as McBride cautiously sat down beside her, Dominique flung herself into her teacher’s arms and McBride hugged her close. ‘It’s all right sweetie, you’re safe now,’ she soothed, a crack in her voice. After a moment she said, ‘We came to see mummy too. Is she here?’

And Mariner could just make out the little girl’s whispered reply. ‘I don’t know where she’s gone.’

AUTHOR BIO

Chris CollettChris Collett grew up in a Norfolk seaside town, before moving to the other side of the country, Liverpool, to train as a teacher for children with learning difficulties. The journey from east to west often involved a stop-off in Birmingham, a place she quickly decided she would never want to live. After graduating the first job she was offered was naturally, in Birmingham. Within a few months she met her husband-to-be, moved to the Bournville Village Trust, within inhaling distance of the Cadbury’s chocolate factory, and she has remained in the city ever since.

Alongside raising two children, Chris has worked for a number of years in schools and local authority services, supporting variously children, young people and adults with learning disabilities and mental health issues. Now a lecturer at a midlands university, Chris teaches undergraduate students on a range of subjects around disability and inclusion, and equality and human rights. The DI Tom Mariner series evolved from a single idea: what would happen if the sole witness to a serious crime had an autism spectrum disorder and was unable to communicate what he had seen? The idea became ‘Worm in the Bud’.

Alongside publishing seven crime novels featuring DI Tom Mariner and several short stories, Chris has taught short courses on crime fiction and is an manuscript assessor for the Crime Writers association.

When not teaching or writing, Chris enjoys walking, racket sports, photography, reading, cinema, theatre and comedy. When asked about her thoughts on her adopted city now, Chris has said: ‘Someone, somewhere, must have had a plan. What better location could there be for a crime detective?’

Website: www.chriscollettcrime

Twitter: https://twitter.com/CrimeCrow

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/pages/Chris-Collett/585943991417531

LinkedIn: http://www.linkedin.com/profile/view?id=128351834&trk=nav_responsive_tab_profile

Previous posts on author, Chris Collett, have been a promo post for Dead of Night with an introduction to the whole Tom Mariner series and an exclusive short story (released Dec 2015 on A Reader’s Review Blog)!

*Promo Post* Crime thriller/police procedural ‘Dead of Night (DI Tom Mariner series #7)’ by local Birmingham author, Chris Collett

Exclusive short story: Cinderella Boy (A Tom Mariner festive short story) by Chris Collett

Exclusive short story: Cinderella Boy (A Tom Mariner festive short story) by Chris Collett

Tina and myself are absolutely over the moon to be able to share with you, Chris Collett’s short festive story, following DI Tom Mariner. Chris Collett is a local author from the Midlands, UK, and you may remember our post of her crime thriller/police procedural series of Detective Inspector, Tom Mariner, and that her series is also based in the area.

Chris Collett 7 Dead of NightHere is a link to our post, which includes an author post and bio, an excerpt of her latest novel, Dead of Night (DI Tom Mariner series #7), as well as the blurbs and covers for each book of the series:-

Chris Collett promo post of the DI Tom Mariner series

We hope that you enjoy this heartfelt festive short, Cinderella Boy, just as much as we did. And, we would like to thank Chris Collett for this fantastic opportunity!

Enjoy!

Caroline & Tina 🙂

CINDERELLA BOY by Chris Collett

It’s done in seconds and the sleight of hand makes DI Tom Mariner cough with surprise. The boy looks up and as his gaze meets Mariner’s, the brown eyes, unnaturally large for his face, widen for a second, before he swivels and bolts for the door.

Mariner had been watching the kid over the supermarket shelves for several minutes. On his way into work he’d felt a sudden craving for chewing gum, so had gone into a local convenience store, which at this time of the morning was busy with a steady influx of customers. It was cold for November, with grey skies shedding the odd flurry of snow. The boy caught Mariner’s attention in the first instance because of his size. No more than about six or seven he seemed young to be out on his own. He was also woefully underdressed for the time of year; jogging bottoms, the knees shiny with wear, oversized black trainers and a thin short-sleeved football shirt.

But perhaps the boy has dressed for a purpose. Standing in front of the dry goods shelves, he picks up a can of baked beans. Clutching it to his chest he holds out his other hand and frowns at the assorted coins there. Satisfied, he pockets the money before casually moving towards the end of the aisle and a display stand of cheap, blister-packed toys. He stares at one of the dangling packs for a good couple of minutes, occasionally reaching out to lift it with a fingertip and watch it swing back. He gets out the coins and checks them again. Then with a furtive glance to either side, he unhooks the pack, and tucking the can of beans under his arm, lifts his shirt to stuff the toy into the waistband of his trousers, dropping the shirt to conceal it. That’s when his eyes meet Mariner’s and, as the beans clatter to the floor, he turns and scarpers. Mariner keeps pace with him along the parallel aisle, but loses valuable seconds as he’s blocked by an elderly woman pushing a wheeled trolley. Rounding the end shelves he sees the door of the shop swing open and a blur of red as the boy pushes out past an incoming customer.

Grab him-!’ Mariner yells, but too late. The boy is already out and disappearing across the street. There follows a horrible squeal of brakes and the blare of a car horn. Bursting onto the pavement Mariner sees a people carrier, stationary, the female driver white-faced, knuckles gripping the steering wheel. Fearfully, his eyes drop to the road, but somehow the boy has escaped and is making off along the opposite pavement. ‘Stupid kid,’ Mariner breathes, half with relief. 

Skirting around the car he gives chase, the icy air searing into his throat, but the boy is fast and has opened up a gap. Ten metres away, Mariner sees him stumble and hop a couple of steps. There’s a flash of bare foot before the lad darts into a tunnel cutting between the terraced houses. Turning into the passage and palming the wall for traction, Mariner feels the ripping of cloth as his jacket sleeve snags on an exposed nail. Ignoring it he keeps moving, but when he emerges at the other end, breathless, into the alley that runs along the back of the houses, the boy is gone and all that’s left is the discarded blister-pack containing a ninja turtle mask and black, plastic rectangle moulded to look like a cell-phone. Mariner strains his ears for footsteps or the slamming of a door, but when all that echoes back at him is silence, he bends down to retrieve the toy and retraces his steps to the street. At the entrance to the passageway he comes across the black oversized trainer lying on the ground and picks that up too. A cheap brand, it’s scuffed and worn to holes in places. A teenage mutant turtle logo grins up at him from the side panel. The laces, brown and frayed, are much too short for the lace holes and obviously recycled from elsewhere. It’s why the shoe had slipped off.

Mariner goes back to the shop to return the toy. ‘Sorry, he was too quick for me,’ he tells the young Asian man serving behind the counter.

The man shrugs. ‘Don’t worry about it. Probably not the first time, or the last. Little bugger.’

Not really knowing why, Mariner takes the shoe with him when he climbs the stairs to his office at Granville Lane. He lays it ceremonially on top of the filing cabinet, and is still dwelling on the incident when his sergeant, Vicky Jesson arrives. They’re a man down while DS Charlie Glover is off on some kind of pre-Christmas religious pilgrimage, and there’s a lot to get through.

‘What happened to you?’ Jesson asks, immediately noticing Mariner’s torn jacket sleeve. ‘Bit early in the day for fisticuffs, isn’t it?’

He tells her what happened.

‘Cheeky little sod,’ she says. 

‘I don’t know,’ says Mariner.

Jesson waits expectantly.

‘Well, what kid that age is out at eight o’clock in the morning buying baked beans?’ Mariner continues. ‘He should have been at home having his breakfast or on his way to school with his mum.’

‘You’re feeling sorry for him? I thought you said he was pilfering stuff.’

‘Only because he didn’t have the money. You should have seen the state of him. When he lifted up his shirt I could have counted his ribs; played a tune on them. It’s been snowing for Christ sake, and he’s wearing a football shirt; no socks. When he ran away his shoes were so big for him, one fell off.’ He indicates the trainer.

Jesson frowns. ‘Some kids are just skinny,’ she says. ‘And don’t feel the cold.’

‘He was more than skinny,’ says Mariner. He looks up at Jesson, the ice-chip eyes bluer than ever. ‘There was bruising.’

‘Where?’

‘On his torso; where no one would see it.’

Jesson is staring at him, trying to figure it out. ‘Why has this got to you?’

‘It’s happened before.’

‘When?’

‘Years ago, back when I was in uniform. I’d forgotten all about it till now. One weekend I was patrolling the high street. There were a handful of market stalls strung out. I saw the same thing – a scruffy kid pinched a pasty. I didn’t do anything about it that time. He looked like he needed it, so I just let him go. A couple of weeks later I saw him again, his face splashed all over the papers. Samuel Wright.’

Jesson frowns. ‘I know that name.’

‘He was beaten to death by his step father. Everyone told me I was mistaken. It couldn’t have been him; my mind playing tricks. But I know what I saw. This kid today; when our eyes met he was terrified.’

He’d been caught red handed,’ Vicky reminds him.

But he didn’t know I’m a copper. It was fear of an adult male. And he was going home empty handed.’

​’So what do you propose to do?’ asks Jesson, reasonably. ‘Knock on every house in the area to see who the trainer fits?’ She’s right; it is hopeless. Vicky Jesson, forty-something mum of three, has always had a slight crush on her boss. He’s not bad looking and she likes that, but mostly it’s because of the way he responds to situations like this.

On his way to work the following morning Mariner can’t resist going back to the supermarket, even though he knows it will be futile. Over the next few days he develops a serious chewing gum habit, but he doesn’t see the boy. At the weekend he takes one of his customary early morning walks; it just happens to be in that area.

‘You want to watch yourself,’ Jesson warns him on Monday when he tells her. ‘Hanging around the streets looking for small boys could get you arrested.’

Mariner phones the PPU. ‘Anyone on your radar?’ he asks. But the description he gives them doesn’t match anyone they know, which just makes him feel worse.

Christmas approaches. The toy shop where he goes to buy a Christmas present for DC Millie Khatoon’s baby is loud and chaotic, and at the checkout he stands in a queue behind parents and their demanding kids, who, judging from the stacks of boxes and packages, will have all their wishes, and more, fulfilled. He thinks of the boy, and knows that he won’t. Helping Suzy to put up her Christmas tree the boy seems to watch over him from the corner of the room, reminding him that not every child gets the cosy Christmas of the TV ads. Sometimes Mariner’s job is too much information. He carries the numbers in his head; fifty-five children a year die at the hands of their carers through abuse or neglect. Samuel Wright begins to creep back into his dreams.

Two weeks before Christmas Charlie Glover returns from leave. Coming into Mariner’s office his first morning back, his eyes are level with the top of the filing cabinet where the trainer still sits. ‘Where did you get that?’ Glover asks.

‘Don’t worry,’ Mariner reassures him. ‘I’m not planning to wear it; not my size.’

‘It’s not that,’ says Charlie. ‘I’ve seen it before; the laces-’

‘Where?’ He wants to grab Charlie by the lapels.

‘Our church runs a food bank. Back in the summer Helen and I helped out a few weekends when they were short of volunteers. We’d set up a couple of jumble sale stalls too, clothes and stuff. There was a pair of trainers exactly like them, in a similar condition. Some little lad kept pestering his dad for them. We were only asking a couple of quid, but the bloke wasn’t interested. He started to lose it, though he calmed down when he saw me watching. Helen intervened, said they could have the shoes. The kid had bruises, but the dad said he’d fallen off his bike.’

The lump of stone grows in Mariner’s stomach. ‘Did you believe him?’

‘Honestly? He didn’t look the sort of kid to even own a bike.’ Charlie shrugs. ‘But what could we do? There was nothing physical, just his dad’s tone of voice and the boy’s demeanour. You know.’

Mariner does. Charlie’s an experienced copper too. You developed a feel for these things. ‘Did you get a name, an address for the family?’

‘It’s not the way it works,’ says Charlie. ‘They have the vouchers, they take the food. It’s humiliating enough for most of them that they have to do it in the first place.’

But the next morning Charlie comes back to Mariner’s office. ‘I talked to Helen last night about that kid. She remembered him. She reckons he was wearing one of those school polo shirts. It was grubby and didn’t fit him properly, but she’s pretty sure it was for St Martin’s.’

Mariner sees a glimmer of light. He has a contact at St Martin’s; a teacher he came across during a case earlier in the year. He phones and asks to speak to Sam McBride.

Don’t know if you’d remember me-?’ he begins.

Of course I do,’ said Sam. And by lunchtime, having run the gauntlet of two hundred kids careering around the playground, Mariner is standing in the school foyer clutching the trainer. Sam takes it along the staff room, returning a few minutes later. ‘Sorry.’ Her disappointment is tangible. ‘No one recognises it. The kids are meant to wear plain black school shoes. Occasionally they don’t, but no one remembers seeing this before. I could take it and-.’

But while she’s talking, Mariner is distracted by the hordes of young children running around the compound outside. A face he’s seen before flashes across his line of vision, almost unrecognisable; grinning in delight as he runs with a gang of other boys. ‘That’s him!’ Mariner practically shouts. But he’s vanished into the crowd again and doubts kick in. Seething with frustration, Mariner stands beside Sam, straining his eyes to pick out that familiar face and hoping he wasn’t mistaken. But no: ‘There he is, there he is; brown hair; shirt hanging out!’ He tracks the child with his finger.

Milo,’ Sam says, eventually. She seems surprised. ‘Milo’s fine.’

He’s not at risk?’ That anxiety won’t let him go.

Not in the way that you think,’ says Sam. ‘He’s a much-loved little boy.’

But the bruises.’

Sam shakes her head. ‘Milo’s always got bruises; invariably acquired on this playground. He’s on intimate terms with our accident book,’ she says. ‘Mostly because he thinks he really is a ninja turtle. Sorry, I should have made that connection.’ She sees that he’s unconvinced. ‘Children in Need day he came in dressed as Leonardo; his hero. There’s a picture here, I’m sure.’ Sam walks Mariner over to a display board of colour photos and they scan them. After a moment he spots Milo standing in the middle of a group of kids. The others, without exception, are wearing perfect, commercially produced, replica outfits; Snow White, Spiderman, Robin Hood. Milo’s costume is improvised; a scarf tied round his forehead for a bandana, what looks like a woman’s shawl held with some sort of brooch for his cloak. ‘Shortly after that was taken, he hurled himself off the climbing frame and treated his TA to yet another unscheduled trip to A&E,’ says Sam.

‘So what’s his story?’ Mariner asks.

‘Milo’s mum’s got rheumatoid arthritis,’ says Sam. ‘It’s just the two of them and on the days when it’s bad she’s very disabled, so Milo is essentially her carer.’

Jesus; at his age?’ But even as he speaks, he knows he’s being naïve.

He’s got people looking out for him,’ Sam says. ‘You know how it is with these things though.., My guess is that when your friend at the church saw him, Milo was giving his harassed social worker a hard time. He has a tough life and sometimes it shows.’

‘It explains why he was out buying beans at eight in the morning. How will they get on at Christmas?’

‘Like I said, they have some help,’ Sam tells him. ‘Mary, our family support worker is brilliant. She’ll make sure that Milo gets presents, though given the budget cuts it won’t be much this year. Anyway,’ says Sam. ‘You can see that our Milo is very much alive and kicking.’

‘Yes.’ It was a relief. ‘Will you give him that?’ Mariner gestures towards the trainer.

‘Of course.’

After leaving the school Mariner takes the afternoon off. Bracing himself he braves the toyshop once again. A couple of days later he stops off at the school and seeks out Mary.

Christmas is far from peace on earth for Tom Mariner. In the early hours of 25th December he is called to a fatal stabbing outside a city pub; business as usual. Ten days later and into the New Year he is still in the throes of the investigation when an envelope lands on his desk. He opens it. Inside is a child’s drawing, a stick figure leaping through the air, with eyes peering out from a bandana, bright red cloak billowing out behind him. The caption underneath in bold, crooked letters reads: Milo Beckett my best presnt ever. It’s the first child’s picture Mariner has ever received. He tacks it to the wall above his filing cabinet, where the trainer had sat. He reads the accompanying note: To Tom, from one crime fighter to another. Thank you. Sam x

For more info on Chris Collett, here are her author links:-

Website: www.chriscollettcrime

Twitter: https://twitter.com/CrimeCrow

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/pages/Chris-Collett/585943991417531

LinkedIn: http://www.linkedin.com/profile/view?id=128351834&trk=nav_responsive_tab_profile

And, please take a peek at our promo post, with lots of info on her DI Tom Mariner series:- PROMO POST

Chris Collett 1 Worm in the BudChris Collett 2 Blood of the InnocentsChris Collett 3 Written in BloodChris Collett 4 Blood of MoneyChris Collett 5 Stalked by ShadowsChris Collett 6 Blood and StoneChris Collett 7 Dead of Night

Chris Collett 7 Dead of Night

*Promo Post* Crime thriller/police procedural ‘Dead of Night (DI Tom Mariner series #7)’ by local Birmingham author, Chris Collett

Chris Collett 1 Worm in the BudChris Collett 2 Blood of the InnocentsChris Collett 3 Written in BloodChris Collett 4 Blood of MoneyChris Collett 5 Stalked by ShadowsChris Collett 6 Blood and StoneChris Collett 7 Dead of Night

Chris Collett 7 Dead of NightAfter having the absolute pleasure of meeting Chris Collett at a ‘Meet the Author‘ event at our local library in Tamworth (Staffordshire, UK) in October this year we have been excited about hosting her work for our readers to look at. Chris talked in depth about her journey as a writer and how she came to write a police procedural series based in the city of Birmingham. Just to listen to her, and for the audience to be invited to ask questions in-between her story was brilliant and led to some fantastic conversations. It was like meeting a friend. Tina and myself had a great night, and with my interest in crime novels I simply had to get hold of a copy of Chris’ latest release in the Tom Mariner series, Dead of Night. I am looking forward to reviewing this one in the New Year!

Please scroll down to see an Author Post from Chris on ‘Dead of Night’, an excerpt, Chris’ bio, author and buy links, as well as the blurbs for all first six books of the DI Tom Mariner series!

Caroline ❤

Blurb (Dead of Night #7): When a young woman disappears on her way home from work, Detective Inspector Tom Mariner tackles his most challenging investigation yet!
18-year-old Grace Clifton vanishes on her way home from work in the centre of Birmingham late at night, the case is remarkable in that not a single witness comes forward. The more he has to deal with Grace s wealthy and overbearing father, Council Leader Bob Clifton, the more Tom Mariner is inclined to believe that Grace left of her own accord.
Then the package arrives. It contains Grace s clothes, neatly pressed and laundered. A second woman disappears. And a disturbing pattern begins to emerge.
Still adapting to a new investigation team and struggling to pull its members together, Detective Inspector Mariner is about to tackle one of his strangest, most challenging cases to date.

AUTHOR POST ON ‘DEAD OF NIGHT’ (Chris Collett, Sept ’14, Severn House)

The inspiration for ‘Dead of Night’ came from a number of characters who ‘present themselves’, in the first instance, by air! The Queen Elizabeth, in south Birmingham, is one of the country’s leading military hospitals. For several years now this has meant the regular presence of Chinook helicopters, flying low over the city, bringing in wounded personnel from Afghanistan. Perhaps because of what the Chinooks represent, they seem somehow to be a much more imposing and sinister presence than the more familiar Police surveillance and Air Ambulances, and I quickly found myself very attuned to the distinctive engine sound, louder and deeper than the other aircraft and rather ominous. Each time a Chinook flew over, I couldn’t help imagining the people and drama surrounding its arrival; and from that curiosity emerged Private Craig Lomax and critical care nurse Dee Henderson. At around the same time another recurring scenario had taken up residence in my head; of a small girl waiting outside school at the end of the day for a mum who never appears. That child became Dominique. Finally, the confident and rebellious teenager, striding along Broad Street flicking a defiant cigarette, was Grace Clifton. As the characters emerged, the central narrative that would link them together also began to take shape. In Dead of Night I knew my perpetrator right from the start, but as always, had little idea about where the story would take me before the final revelation.

EXCERPT FROM ‘DEAD OF NIGHT’

Milton Tower was one of three angular blocks that sprouted out of the dingy grey spread of social housing that was the Fen Bridge estate. Bordered by a fringe of scrubby green grass and a collection of undernourished saplings, it was rendered no more attractive at this time of night by the harsh glare of sodium lighting. Mariner had decided long ago that the council planner who’d come up with name had a sense of the ironic. Paradise had been irretrievably lost in this neighbourhood, somewhere down the back of life’s sofa. Parking his car in the only bay that didn’t seem to excessively sparkle with broken glass, he double checked that it was locked before entering the bare, concrete lobby. In the last couple of years efforts had been made to make the flats more appealing. A jacket of insulation and double glazing had been added around the outside, and the lobby in an overly bright salmon pink, smelled primarily of fresh paint. A couple to one side seemed to be surreptitiously waiting for the lift, but then Mariner noticed the considerable age difference between them and the man’s good quality wool overcoat that seemed to indicate that these were not locals. He went over, already anticipating the negotiations for how the situation should be handled. ‘Hello,’ he said. ‘You’re the teachers from St Martin’s?’

The man, as tall and lean as Mariner and with a fulsome head of grey hair, swept back from his forehead, stood straighter, bridling a little. ‘I’m the head teacher, Gordon Rhys,’ he corrected Mariner, keeping his hands firmly in his pockets. ‘And this is my Year Two teacher Sam McBride.’

DI Tom Mariner.’ Mariner held up his warrant card for them to see. He couldn’t help noticing the proprietorial ‘my’ and raised an eyebrow at McBride as they shook hands. Blonde and petite with a shapely figure under her parka, Mariner could imagine that the young teacher had to work hard to be taken seriously.

I feel terrible,’ she said. ‘I knew there was something not quite right with Dominique, but I just never guessed that this was what it could be.’

We don’t know what it is yet.’ Rhys was impatient. ‘The mother could be anywhere. Might be on the Costa del Sol for all we know.’ He was distracted, keeping an anxious eye on his surroundings, and Mariner realised he was nervous about being here.

‘With respect Gordon, I don’t think that’s very likely,’ Sam said. ‘Mrs Batista isn’t like that.’

How would we know, Sam? We know hardly anything about her.’

I know enough to understand that she’s a committed parent,’ Sam said, firmly.

Have you any idea where she works?’ Mariner asked, partly to diffuse what he sensed was a growing tension.

Sam frowned. ‘I don’t think I’ve ever really known, although for some reason I’ve had an impression that it’s somewhere in the city centre. On the odd occasions I’ve tried to talk to Dominique about her mum’s work, she’s completely clammed up. The contact number we have on file is a personal mobile number, but that’s nothing unusual.’

‘Have you tried calling it?’

Yes, about half a dozen times,’ said McBride. ‘It just goes straight to voice mail.’

It’s probably because the job is cash-in-hand and she’s claiming benefits as well,’ said Rhys. ‘It happens you know,’ he added, as if it were proof.

‘Actually, I don’t think that has anything to do with it.’ McBride said, flushing deeply. ‘When we’ve had school trips Mrs Batista has always paid her contribution, and she’s never asked for-’

Rhys effectively cut her off by ostentatiously checking his watch. ‘Now that you’re here Inspector, do you actually still need me? We’ve contacted social services, and Sam here is the one who knows Dominique. This has take me away from a meeting that’s been in the diary for some months-,‘

‘That’s fine,’ Mariner cut in, annoyed by the skewed priorities. ‘I’m sure we can take it from here.’ He sought confirmation from Sam McBride.

‘All right with me,’ she said.

Good, well, I’ll leave you to it. Best of luck,’ said Rhys, with obvious relief, and hurried towards the main door. As an afterthought he turned back from the doorway. ‘You’ll keep me informed Sam?’

‘Of course.’

He’s a charmer,’ said Mariner, when Rhys had gone.

Sorry about that,’ said Sam. ‘Gordon’s all right really, but he does seem to have a particular down on single parents, and it makes me a bit defensive. My mum raised me as a single parent and it hasn’t done me any harm.’

Nor me,’ said Mariner.

Oh.’ She looked at him anew.

Just because I look old enough to have grown up in black and white, it wasn’t all Kelloggs cornflake families back then.’ She waited for further elaboration. ‘You haven’t a clue what I’m talking about, have you?’

Not really,’ she smiled. It was a sweet smile and Mariner could imagine any child warming to her instantly.

Right,’ he said. ‘Let’s crack on, shall we? I don’t think social services are going to show up any time soon, so if we do find that Dominique’s at home alone we’ll need to take her to Granville Lane police station to wait for them there. How does that sound?’

Good,’ said Sam. ‘I only hope she doesn’t freak out when she sees me at this time of night.’

‘I can’t imagine she will,’ said Mariner. ‘Okay, let’s get this done. What’s the flat number?’

Neither of them was inclined to trust the lifts, so Sam led the way up the concrete stairwell, to a flat on the fourth floor, their footsteps echoing as they climbed.

I’ll be better if you make the first approach,’ Mariner said to Sam as they climbed the stairs, ‘are you okay to do that?’

Sam indicated that she was. They emerged half way along a narrow landing that had two, equally spaced doors on either side. The lighting was dim, and up here the smell of urine had not been entirely successfully glossed over. Flat forty-one was at the end. The small rectangular reinforced glass window in the top half of the door reminded Mariner of the observation panel in the custody cell doors. It had no light behind it. He knocked hard on the wood and they waited, but there was no response. Squatting down, Sam lifted the letterbox flap and peered in, before calling: ‘Dominique, are you in there? It’s Miss McBride. I’ve just come to see if you’re all right.’

‘Can you see anything?’ Mariner asked.

MacBride straightened up again. ‘No, it’s pitch dark. Maybe I’ve got this completely wrong and she isn’t there. Oh God, what if I’ve got you out here for nothing.’

It’s fine,’ said Mariner. ‘Better that than she really is in trouble and we do nothing. Why don’t you try again?’

McBride crouched by the letterbox, pushed up the flap and called again. This time, as she did so, her fingers brushed the rough string. ‘Oh, there’s something here.’ Bit by bit she pulled through the string with its key tied to the end.

Christ,’ said Mariner. ‘I hope no one else knows about this.’

Do we use it?’ said McBride.

It saves me having to demonstrate my manliness by breaking down the door,’ Mariner said. ‘You go first and I’ll follow, just in case she’s in there.’

Opening the door they entered the darkened flat, which felt no warmer on the inside than it had been on the outside landing. McBride flicked the light switch but nothing happened.

The meter’s run out,’ said Mariner. He took a torch from his inside coat pocket and switched it on, directing it down at the floor to light the way.

Dominique?’ Sam called, softly. They progressed carefully along a short hallway, and McBride pushed open the first door they came to on the left. The torch beam bounced around an empty bedroom. A second door, on the right, was a small bathroom, but as she pushed open the door at the head of the passageway, Mariner saw instantly from McBride’s body language that they had found the little girl.

Hi Dominique,’ Sam said brightly. ‘It’s Miss McBride. We were a bit worried about you, so I just came to see if you were all right. I’ve brought my friend Tom.’ As Mariner came into the room, his eyes adjusting to the darkness and keeping the torch beam directed away from Dominique, he was in time to see McBride slowly advancing on the little girl who seemed to be frozen to the spot sitting at the end of a sofa. But as McBride cautiously sat down beside her, Dominique flung herself into her teacher’s arms and McBride hugged her close. ‘It’s all right sweetie, you’re safe now,’ she soothed, a crack in her voice. After a moment she said, ‘We came to see mummy too. Is she here?’

And Mariner could just make out the little girl’s whispered reply. ‘I don’t know where she’s gone.’

AUTHOR BIO

Chris CollettChris Collett grew up in a Norfolk seaside town, before moving to the other side of the country, Liverpool, to train as a teacher for children with learning difficulties. The journey from east to west often involved a stop-off in Birmingham, a place she quickly decided she would never want to live. After graduating the first job she was offered was naturally, in Birmingham. Within a few months she met her husband-to-be, moved to the Bournville Village Trust, within inhaling distance of the Cadbury’s chocolate factory, and she has remained in the city ever since.

Alongside raising two children, Chris has worked for a number of years in schools and local authority services, supporting variously children, young people and adults with learning disabilities and mental health issues. Now a lecturer at a midlands university, Chris teaches undergraduate students on a range of subjects around disability and inclusion, and equality and human rights. The DI Tom Mariner series evolved from a single idea: what would happen if the sole witness to a serious crime had an autism spectrum disorder and was unable to communicate what he had seen? The idea became ‘Worm in the Bud’.

Alongside publishing seven crime novels featuring DI Tom Mariner and several short stories, Chris has taught short courses on crime fiction and is an manuscript assessor for the Crime Writers association.

When not teaching or writing, Chris enjoys walking, racket sports, photography, reading, cinema, theatre and comedy. When asked about her thoughts on her adopted city now, Chris has said: ‘Someone, somewhere, must have had a plan. What better location could there be for a crime detective?’

Website: www.chriscollettcrime

Twitter: https://twitter.com/CrimeCrow

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/pages/Chris-Collett/585943991417531

LinkedIn: http://www.linkedin.com/profile/view?id=128351834&trk=nav_responsive_tab_profile

BUY LINKS (DEAD OF NIGHT)

AMAZON UK

AMAZON US

As ‘Dead of Night’ is the seventh book of the DI Tom Mariner series we thought it only best to give you the blurbs of the previous six novels of the series. Here they are in chronological order:-

Chris Collett 1 Worm in the BudWorm in the Bud (DI Tom Mariner #1): A puncture wound in the arm of a local journalist found dead in his home gives testimony to his death by lethal injection, and the cryptic note by his side—“no more”—suggests suicide. To DI Tom Mariner, however, there is something a little too staged about events, especially given that just that evening Mariner had witnessed the journalist—Edward Barham—pick up a prostitute in a bar. As the police investigate the house further, they discover another witness to the events: Barham’s younger brother, Jamie, is found in a cupboard under the stairs. It seems likely that Jamie witnessed his brother’s death, but his severe autism has left him without the means to communicate. Mariner is determined to build enough of a relationship with Jamie to get to the truth. He supposes that Barham’s death is related to his recent investigations into a local crime lord, but there may also be a hidden factor that only Jamie can reveal.

Chris Collett 2 Blood of the InnocentsBlood of the Innocents (DI Tom Mariner #2): When two teenagers go missing on the same day, it appears to be nothing more than a coincidence. Leaving aside their age and disappearance, the two have little in common: Yasmin Akram is the talented, grammar-school-educated daughter of devout Muslim professionals, while Ricky Skeet disappeared after storming out of his tenement following a dispute with his mother’s latest boyfriend. Mariner knows Ricky’s mother from his days in uniform, so he is less than happy when his superiors take him off the Skeet case and reassign him to the more politically sensitive investigation. The press—and his bosses—are convinced that Yasmin’s disappearance is a racially motivated abduction, especially since the Akrams had previously been the target of the far right and a prominent white supremacist group. But Mariner soon discovers that Yasmin is far from the innocent victim her parents paint her to be.

Chris Collett 3 Written in BloodWritten in Blood (DI Tom Mariner #3): For the first time in his life, DI Tom Mariner’s home life is beginning to look settled. There’s talk of a move to the country and even kids, and while Anna is doing the talking, for once Mariner isn’t trying to evade commitment. The couple’s quiet holiday season is shattered, though, when an explosion rocks the day of a community carol concert. Tom and Anna are caught up in the aftermath of the event, and it remains unclear if the tragedy is accidental or an act of terrorism. Meanwhile, an unexpected reunion with an old friend thrusts Mariner into the unofficial investigation of a violent double murder to which he is inextricably linked. Mariner finds himself amidst a world of corruption where the boundaries between friend and foe are blurred.

Chris Collett 4 Blood of MoneyBlood Money (DI Tom Mariner #4): Just when he is prepared to take a well-earned leave of absence, DI Tom Mariner is called back to the case when six-week-old Jessica Klinnemann is abducted from a local day nursery. What at first appears to be a random kidnapping gradually reveals itself to be a meticulously planned operation. The motive remains unclear until Mariner discovers that the baby’s father works for a scientific research company that has long been the target of animal rights activists. A crude note seems to confirm that animal rights protesters were behind the scare, but just when Mariner thinks he’s solved the crime, one of the nursery workers is killed in a hit and run, and the case is blown wide open.  

Chris Collett 5 Stalked by ShadowsStalked by Shadows (DI Tom Mariner #5): Lucy Jarrett is terrified. She’s convinced that somebody is watching her, following her home from work, and lurking in shadows. But when she looks, there’s nobody there. The phone calls are real enough, even if the caller never speaks, although they never seem to happen when her husband is at home. She’s struggling to make anybody believe her, but with the recent murder of another young woman, DI Tom Mariner must take Lucy’s fears seriously. However, that’s not all that DI Mariner has to contend with. His team is stretched to the limits when the widow of a former police officer is found brutally murdered in an attack that could hark back to her husband’s past misdemeanors. Someone, it seems, is out for revenge.

Chris Collett 6 Blood and StoneBlood and Stone (DI Tom Mariner #6): Grieving the death of his ex-lover Anna Barham, Detective Inspector Tom Mariner has taken two weeks’ leave to recuperate, seeking peace and solitude in a remote corner of Wales. The last thing he imagined was being caught up in a murder investigation – with himself as the prime suspect.  But when his walking holiday is interrupted by the discovery of a dead body in the woods, Tom finds the local police taking an inordinate interest in him and the reasons for his presence in the area.
As the body count rises, it becomes clear that there are a number of disturbing secrets being kept behind the closed doors of the ancient stone farmhouses that populate the region – and as those secrets gradually unravel, it turns out that Mariner isn’t the only one to have come to the picturesque Caranwy valley to escape a troubled past. 

Caroline’s Current Reads – Nov ’14

Hello readers, it has been a while since I have made a list of my current reads, and although you are probably aware of our recent reviews, I thought it would be a great idea to share what my reads are going to be between now and the New Year.

There is a nice collection of contemporary romances, chick-lits, sci-fi, paranormal, crime, as well as a travel/non-fiction. If you are a fan of historical romances and/or erotica there will also be reviews from Tina and a current reads post from her soon.

Amongst my reads there is the newly released, A Way From Heart to Heart (a contemporary romance), from the amazing Helena Fairfax, All I Want for Christmas by Amy Silver (to add some festive cheer) and books from Torrid Books (an imprint of Start Publishing) and Wattle Publishing!

We hope you enjoy them!

Caroline 🙂

Cursed & Obsession (Cursed Trilogy, #1 &2) by Georgina Hannan, Young Adult horror/paranormal

CursedCursed blurb: A young adult story about a group of four friends who embark on a holiday together to the georgeous countryside of Dartmoor, Devon. Each of them hoping for an adventure, something they will always remember. However, it isn’t long before they get what they want.

The group are plagued by noises after hearing the myths and legends of the area. Is it just overactive imaginations or is there a visitor in the spare room who is trying to get their attention?

Join the group on a spectacular journey as they discover what Dartmoor has to offer.

Available at Amazon UK and Amazon US.

ObsessionObsession blurb: There’s a fine line between Obsession and Madness.

After a strange and exciting holiday, Daisy is looking forward to the new start University life will bring.

A life changing assignment makes her question the fine line between Obsession and Madness.

Can she tell the difference?

Can you? 

Available at Amazon UK and Amazon US.

A Way from Heart to HeartA Way From Heart to Heart by Helena Fairfax, contemporary romance

Blurb: After the death of her husband in Afghanistan, Kate Hemingway’s world collapses around her. Kate’s free time is spent with a charity for teenage girls, helping them mend their broken lives – which is ironic, since her own life is fractured beyond repair.

Reserved, ex-public school journalist Paul Farrell is everything Kate and her teenage charges aren’t. But when Paul agrees to help Kate with her charity, he makes a stunning revelation that changes everything.

But can Kate take a risk with her son’s happiness as well as her own?

Available at Amazon UK and Amazon US.

The Girl In Between (The Girl In Between Series Book 1)The Girl In Between (The Girl In Between #1) by Laekan Zea Kemp, fantasy

Blurb: Bryn Reyes is a real life sleeping beauty. Afflicted with Klein-Levin Syndrome, she suffers episodes of prolonged sleep that steal weeks, and sometimes even months, from her life. But unlike most KLS patients, she doesn’t spend each episode in a catatonic state or wake up with no recollection of the time she’s missed. Instead, Bryn spends half her life in an alternate reality made up of her memories. For Bryn, the past is a place, until one day a boy she’s never met before washes up on the illusory beach of her dreams with no memory of who he is.

But the appearance of this strange boy isn’t the only thing that’s changed. Bryn’s symptoms are worsening, her body weakening as she’s plagued by hallucinations even while awake. Her only hope of finding a cure is to undergo experimental treatment created by a German specialist. But when Dr. Banz reveals that he knows more about her strange symptoms than he originally let on, Bryn learns that the boy in her head might actually be the key to understanding what’s happening to her, and worse, that if she doesn’t find out his identity before it’s too late, they both may not survive. 

Available at Amazon UK and Amazon US.

All I Want for ChristmasAll I Want for Christmas by Amy Silver, chick-lit/contemporary holiday romance

It’s Bea’s first Christmas with her baby son, and this year she’s determined to do everything right. But there is still so much to do: the Christmas menu needs refining; her café, The Honey Pot, needs decorating; and she’s invited the whole neighbourhood to a party on Christmas Day. She really doesn’t have time to get involved in two new people’s lives, let alone fall in love…

When Olivia gets knocked over in the street, however, Bea can’t help bringing her into The Honey Pot and getting to know her. Olivia’s life is even more hectic than her own, and with her fiancé’s entire family over from Ireland for Christmas, she shouldn’t be lingering in the cosy warmth of Bea’s café. Chloe, on the other hand, has nowhere else to go. Her affair with a married man has alienated her friends, and left her lonelier than ever.

But Christmas is a magical time, and in the fragrant atmosphere of The Honey Pot, anything can happen: new friends can be made, hearts can heal, and romance can finally blossom…

Available at Amazon UK and Amazon US.

79840-front2bcoverTequila & Tea Bags by Laura Barnard, chick-lit/contemporary romantic comedy

Blurb: Sent to live with her cousin Elsie in the Yorkshire countryside, Rose has only one thing on her mind; joining her friends as a club rep in Mexico.

When she hears about a council incentive offering the promise of free flights to the person who clocks the most volunteering hours at the local care home, she’s got her plan set.

But she doesn’t plan on bonding with the old ladies, going after the village bad boy and trying to persuade Elsie not to become a Nun.

Soon she’s questioning who her real friends are and whether her old life is one she wants to return to.

Can the village win her over and will she win the chance to leave it behind? Will she even want to?

Available at Amazon UK and Amazon US.

Bethany's Heart (Unearthly World Book 3)Bethany’s Heart (Unearthly World #3) by C.L. Scholey, sci-fi romance

Blurb: Amidst the snow and icy wasteland, Earth has become a watery grave to many. Zargonnii warriors Finn and Blu search for any remaining human females. Luck abounds and six females are found struggling to survive. The moment his blazing red eyes settle onto Bethany Finn feels in his heart she is the one he wants to end his loneliness. When Bethany encounters two massive aliens, eyes alight, long white hair wildly flying, she knows the pair are either death or salvation. Their encounter leads Bethany on the wildest adventure of her life. After the Zargonnii ship is annihilated by the enemy a shuttle leads Finn and Bethany straight into the path of peril more times than the couple care to count.

Available at Amazon UK and Amazon US.

Dead of NightDead of Night (The Tom Mariner series, #7) by Chris Collett, crime drama/procedural investigation

Blurb: When a young woman disappears on her way home from work, Detective Inspector Tom Mariner tackles his most challenging investigation yet”
18-year-old Grace Clifton vanishes on her way home from work in the centre of Birmingham late at night, the case is remarkable in that not a single witness comes forward. The more he has to deal with Grace s wealthy and overbearing father, Council Leader Bob Clifton, the more Tom Mariner is inclined to believe that Grace left of her own accord.
Then the package arrives. It contains Grace s clothes, neatly pressed and laundered. A second woman disappears. And a disturbing pattern begins to emerge.
Still adapting to a new investigation team and struggling to pull its members together, Detective Inspector Mariner is about to tackle one of his strangest, most challenging cases to date.

Available at Amazon UK and Amazon US.

Love BitesLove Bites: A Collection of Short Stories by Valeria Kogan, romance

Blurb: Love Bites is the provocative debut collection of short stories by Valeria Kogan. From heartbreak to redemption, Love Bites provides a spellbinding interpretation of love and friendship, glamour and guilt, secrets and deceit. Each story provides a captivating insight into the world of love; its profound impact and effect; and how women relate to their partners. This cleverly constructed collection of short stories will leave you tantalized and yearning for more. Love Bites is a must-read for every modern woman, reader of romance and romantic enthusiast.

Available at Amazon UK and Amazon US.

Travel BitesTravel Bites by The Hungry Traveller, non-fiction

Travel Bites is a collection of short stories that criss-cross the globe. It is the first work by The Hungry Traveller who has combined his two great life passions: travelling and eating!

The Hungry Traveller has been travelling for the last fifteen years and, along the way, has experienced many different sights, tastes, smells and cultures. Central to his travel experiences has been the role of food. Through his unique and very personal style of storytelling, you too can share in the highs and the lows of his stories from around the world. At the end of each story is a recipe for a dish inspired by his adventure.

Travel Bites will capture your imagination and curiosity; and will leave you yearning to plan your next holiday, adventure or escape!

The Hungry Traveller is a travelling enthusiast who loves to eat! When travelling, he enjoys meeting new people and engaging with locals to learn about their culture, history and the food that they eat. He is ‘currently between trips’, saving money, but always has his passport on hand, ready for his next adventure! He always likes to hear about other peoples’ travel experiences and your thoughts on his book!

Available at Amazon UK and Amazon US.