*REVIEW* ~ Dark Fragments, by Rob Sinclair

#psychological #crime #thriller

dark-fragments

Book Blurb

Dark Fragments: an edge of your seat thriller from the best-selling author of The Enemy Series

Murder. Money. Revenge.

Outwardly, Ben Stephens appears to be a normal, hard-working family man. In reality, his life has been in turmoil since the murder of his wife, Alice, seven years ago. The killer was never caught.

Now re-married – to the woman he was having an affair with while still married to Alice – Ben’s life is once again spiralling out of control, and he’s become heavily indebted to an unscrupulous criminal who is baying for Ben’s blood.

When Ben’s estranged twin sister, a police detective, unexpectedly returns to his life, asking too many questions for comfort, it becomes clear that without action, Ben’s life will soon reach a crisis point from which there will be no return.

In order to avoid falling further into the mire, Ben must examine the past if he is to survive the present – but just how much pressure can one man take before he breaks?

Dark Fragments is a fast-paced thriller with a blend of mystery, suspense and action that will appeal to readers of psychological thrillers, as well as a broad section of crime, thriller and action fans. If you like authors like Mark Edwards, Robert Bryndza and C.L. Taylor you will love this unforgettable thriller.

#psychological #thriller #crime #action

My Review ~ 5 stars

Addictive and Action Packed!

This is a fast-paced psychological crime thriller that sucked me in and left me gob-smacked with its unexpected dénouement. It’s the second book that I’ve read by the author, the first being Hunt for the Enemy (click on the title for my review). Once more it contains a flawlessly constructed and suspenseful plot that kept me guessing throughout.

Ben appears to be just your average hardworking guy with a wife and young family. Yet we soon find out that his first wife Alice was brutally murdered seven years previously, an episode that preys on Ben’s mind, particularly as the murderer has not been found. Ben’s marriage to Gemma, the woman with whom he was having an affair with when Alice was murdered, is far from rosy and his job is in the doldrums. Crucially the reappearance of Callum O’Grady, a crime lord to whom he turned to after Alice’s murder, puts Ben on the defensive and in fear of his safety and that of his family. At the same time Dani, his estranged twin sister, a detective inspector, walks back into his life.

It soon becomes clear that her reappearance is not a coincidence and Ben struggles to cope with current and past events, all of which shape his actions. He is under unimaginable pressure and despite his best intentions his life very quickly spirals out of control until he reaches his breaking point which has implications for all around him.

Once I started to read the novel I was hooked, not only due to the unfolding plot but also to the way it is written. The story is told in short punchy chapters, narrated in the first person point of view, by the protagonist Ben Stephens. Some chapters are written as the main events unfold and others retrospectively, as Ben is encouraged to reflect on what has happened, with a person whose identity we can only guess at.  This has the effect of creating a suspenseful read, not only allowing us into Ben’s thought processes, but often foreshadowing events and putting a different perspective on what we have just witnessed.

There are some violent and disturbing scenes in the book but they are integral to the plot. I found myself at first rooting for and then cringing at Ben’s actions in response to events as the tale unfolded.

I will not reveal any more. It is enough to say that I hugely enjoyed this read. The characterisations, particularly that of the volatile Ben, are superb and the plot clever and suspenseful. It left me wondering to what extent we are all victims of fate or whether we ultimately have control over events.

Recommended for fans of crime thrillers, particularly those who like a psychological read.

Reviewed by Tina Williams

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

Purchase Links

Amazon US  Amazon UK

Connect with the Author

http://www.robsinclairauthor.com/

https://www.facebook.com/Rob-Sinclair-746087495413628/

https://twitter.com/RSinclairAuthor

 

 

 

 

**Blog Tour w/Guest Post, Review & Giveaway** Blue Wicked by Alan Jones

It was a year ago when I reviewed Alan Jones‘ first novel, The Cabinetmaker. I was absolutely intrigued by the author’s writing style and the in-depth research that I felt had been undertaken. He certainly knows how to write a great crime thriller/drama! And so, it is with great pleasure that we have the chance to be a part of the blog tour and review for his second novel, Blue Wicked.

Included is an exclusive GUEST POST written by Alan Jones, a four-chapter sampler, and he is kindly offering a GIVEAWAY, where one lucky winner will win a paperback of Blue Wicked, and another will win an e-copy! For further details, please scroll below!

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Blurb:

‘Blue Wicked’ is a gritty thriller set in the south side of Glasgow. Eddie Henderson finds himself as the unlikely investigator with information that there’s a serial killer targeting the substance dependent underclass who inhabit the notorious Glasgow housing estates. The police force ignore his warnings but one young detective believes him and she helps him search for the truth, despite putting her own career at risk. Their desperate search for the truth on their own proves Eddie right and sparks off a massive manhunt, with Eddie and Catherine, the young detective, at the forefront of the investigation. The book contains a fair bit of strong language and Glasgow dialect, and has some very violent passages.

Amazon UK buy link

Amazon US buy link

GUEST POST – ALAN JONES

Writing and me: motivation, inspirations and ideas.

What makes me want to write?

Probably like most book junkies, I read incessantly from an early age. As a child, I was brought up in a very religious household, where television was deemed inappropriate. Oddly, reading was encouraged and even more strangely, not censored, and with plenty spare time not glued to a TV screen, I became a voracious devourer of books of all types. My dad had a reasonable collection of books and we lived close to a good library; when I outgrew children’s books faster than my peers, a perceptive Librarian let me use my junior library ticket to borrow books from the adult section without particularly screening what I was reading. (I was a fount of knowledge for my fellow pupils on sexual matters when we all discovered it existed, though most of them overtook me in turning theory into practice, with my being what you would call a ‘late developer’.)

All that reading improved my writing as well. I always enjoyed and thrived on creative writing at school, the only part of the English curriculum that suited me. When I started secondary school, the dissection of literary classics, poems and plays spoiled some of them for me, although I enjoyed most of the ones I re-visited as an adult, appreciating them for being the good read they were, and not as an academic exercise.

The joy of reading a good book, and the pleasure I got from writing, ignited in me the idea that I should give writing stories a go, but life got in the way, with a career, a wife, four children and a house that I populated with restored and hand-built furniture, all conspiring to leave me little time for writing. And we had a TV! I have to confess that I did a lot of catching up, and even my reading dipped a little while I was watching a backlog of TV series like MASH and Porridge, and all the films that I’d missed over the years.

About fifteen years ago, I had a run of reading what I thought were mediocre books, some from authors that I’d previously liked, that left me disappointed and restless and, in my own mind, I thought that I could do better than that. Only, I never did. Then, one day, I told myself that I should put my money where my mouth was, and actually write something.

I got as far as jotting down a few ideas for books, but none of them grabbed me until I came up with a rough plot for The Cabinetmaker. I wrote in fits and starts for the next ten or twelve years, often doubting that I could finish it, but it reached a critical mass about half way through, and it all fell into place, taking less than six months to complete.

Write what you know is the old adage, so that’s what I did. The first book was about making furniture, playing football and living in Glasgow; subjects that I knew a lot about.

My second book, Blue Wicked had its roots in my job working with animals. Having the confidence that I could write, I self-published it within a year of sitting down to start it. The third book is taking a little longer, but it is almost at the first draft stage and should be going to my lovely freelance editor, Julie Lewthwaite, by Christmas. Part of the reason that it has taken longer is that I have spent more time this last year trying to promote my first two books and, although enjoyable, this has been more involved than I’d anticipated.

I get ideas for stories from a number of areas. The biggest so far have been the things like my job, my pastimes, my passions other than reading and writing, but I also love talking to people, or listening to banter in pubs and at social gatherings of all kinds. I make quick notes whenever I hear something interesting or witty, and some of these jottings eventually make their way into my books, heavily disguised to protect the guilty.

The bottom line is that I love writing and, when I’m in the mood and the words just flow from my imagination on to the screen, and I like what I read, there aren’t many things that can surpass that!

Contact Alan:

email alanjonesbooks@gmail.com

Twitter @alanjonesbooks

Facebook https://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=100006737580444

REVIEW ***** (5* rating)

Blue Wicked is completely engrossing; the grittiness, dialogue and sheer suspense kept me gripped throughout. The reader follows vet, Eddie Henderson, who specialises in animal abuse and poisoning, when he comes across cases where cats have been subjected to antifreeze and been abused under it’s influence. However, when Eddie hears of a murder with similar circumstances he begins to suspect that maybe the animal abuser has turned to harming humans. Is he right? If so, will the police take him seriously?

The story begins with Eddie looking into the death of a cat, and I must warn all animal/cat lovers that there are some graphic and brutal scenes from early on. However, the reason I was so intrigued was because of how well-written the scenes are, the sense of how realistic it felt to read, and the enthusiasm that Eddie has to get to the bottom of just how these poor animals have come to die. Eddie is very thorough in his work, pushing as many boundaries as he has to in order to reach the truth.

When human bodies begin to be found, and victim identities are revealed, it becomes clear that many of them were the victims of drug abuse and/or alcoholism, with many of them being homeless or unemployed; people that not too many would notice have been missing. Their lives were desperate, yet when faced with death they were extremely fearful, which leads to extremely suspenseful and brutal scenes. I couldn’t help but think of Blue Wicked as Val McDermid (Wire in the Blood series) with a twist of Irvin Welsh (Trainspotting). I can very easily picture Blue Wicked as a tv detective drama, due to the dark, intense atmosphere, mixed with the relationships that Eddie has with the police.

Although the police are not very open to Eddie’s theories, this does not prevent Eddie from wanting to look further into each case. And when young officer, Catherine, shares his belief, she takes it on herself to investigate in her own time with Eddie. In Eddie’s otherwise lonely life at home, Catherine brings with her warmth and friendliness, a belief in what he is doing, and a unity whereby they work together, complimenting each other’s work along the way.

The way in which their relationship builds is fascinating in itself. With Eddie concentrating just on the work alone, he finds it a little more awkward to be sociable, coming across as cold even at times. However, just as friendships develop, the more time they spend together the more they expand on varying topics. Catherine begins to see more in him than just the investigative vet; she begins to understand his set ways and mannerisms. Meanwhile, he appreciates her help and eagerness to find more solid leads, at a time when many others are almost ignoring any connections, thus making it a risk for Catherine to go out on a limb to help him in terms of her career.

I am so glad I have had the pleasure to read both Blue Wicked, and The Cabinetmaker; both of which are stand alone novels. Fans of gritty crime thrillers will appreciate the writing that Alan Jones provides in both story-telling and character building. I am looking forward to reading more from this author in the future.

Reviewed by Caroline Barker

You can check out our review of The Cabinetmaker here.

And, here you can enjoy the first four chapters of Blue Wicked, courtesy of Alan Jones.

BLUE WICKED sample

GIVEAWAY

To be in with a chance to win a paperback or an e-copy of Blue Wicked all you need to do is type your name in the comments box below. (You can also enter on our Facebook page.)

Two winners will be picked at random on Tuesday, 2nd February 2016 at 5pm GMT.

The first to be picked will receive a paperback, and the second an e-copy, direct from the author.

The winners will be contacted as soon as they are picked out.

We would like to thank everyone in advance for entering, and wish you all the very best of luck! 🙂

Caroline & Tina

 

BW_Blog_Tour

*Halloween Promo w/Excerpt* Memphis Hoodoo Murders by Kathryn Rogers

Memphis Hoodoo Murders is an occult horror mystery novel that sounds like a dark, gripping read, especially at this time of year. I can’t wait to review this shortly!

Hoodoo BOOK COVERTitle: Memphis Hoodoo Murders

Author: Kathryn Rogers

Genre: Occult horror mystery

Date released: August 15th, 2015

Released by: Sartoris Literary Group

Length: 360 pages

Synopsis: Addie Jackson has witnessed people trying to kill her family her entire life, and now her grandparents’ attackers are hunting her. The Memphis police are never able to catch these crooks since the cops have been bewitched to stay away. Her grandparents, Pop and Grandma, habitually lie to Addie, but she is attentive enough to overhear the secrets they keep from her. In her predictive dreams, Addie regularly sees future events, which disturb her, but to her dismay, she has never been able to stop them from coming true. She often dreams of a dark character, who she is later shocked to discover is the Man, a devil from hoodoo legend. 

Addie is disturbed to discover she is being stalked by a witch doctor named Hoodoo Helen. To make matters worse, the more secrets Addie uncovers, the more danger she finds. Addie presses Grandma for answers about the power behind the ring and pocket watch she often toys with, but Grandma remains tight-lipped. Knowing their deaths are imminent, Grandma makes a deal with the hoodoo devil to take care of Addie, and Addie is later horrified to discover that her beloved family has been murdered. John, a family friend, steps in to help Addie, and she soon realizes he knows more about her family’s tainted past than she ever has. Addie begins receiving cryptic letters from her deceased grandmother, which reveal a shocking family history revolving around slavery, time travel, and magic. 

If Addie can survive jail, her cousin’s abduction, threats from a menacing gang, corrupt law enforcement, and hoodooed attacks, maybe she can finally dream of a future where she will be safe and free. 

AMAZON BUY LINK

Praise for Memphis Hoodoo Murders:-

Dripping with grisly spells, wry humor and a distinctly southern brand of magical realism, you’ll be quickly mesmerized by this magnetic paranormal thriller. A home run for author Kathryn Rogers.”Reviewed by Best Thrillers

Addie Jackson is not your average college student. For starters, she lives with her slightly odd grandparents in a not-so-nice part of Memphis, Tennessee. Most of her life revolves around taking care of her grandparents and trying to keep a low profile in her neighborhood instead of going on dates, talking about new music, and having fun. When her grandparents’ behavior becomes even more bizarre, there are break-ins at the church the family attends, and she begins to have dreams that come true, Addie becomes even more aware of the strange life she is living. She begins to believe that her grandparents have been hiding something from her for her entire life, something big, something that could put everyone’s lives in danger. Something that could mean that Hoodoo magic is real. Kathryn Rogers’ novel, Memphis Hoodoo Murders, immediately catches the reader with an exciting title and a surprising first chapter.Reviewed by Red City Review

 Author bio:

Kathryn RogersKathryn Rogers is a Memphis native with an affinity for local BBQ and blues rock-n-roll. As a licensed therapist, she holds her Masters in Counseling and Psychology, and as a licensed educator, she holds her Bachelors in Education. Her experience providing counseling services to the community prepared her to expound upon the psychological issues her characters wrestle with in her stories. She currently lives in Jackson, Mississippi with her husband, playful preschooler, and rambunctious Labrador Retrievers.

Readers can connect with Kathryn on Twitter, Facebook, and Goodreads.

EXCERPT

Chapter 1

If I told you that people had been trying to kill my family and me my entire life, you would probably just think I was being paranoid, but it’s not paranoia if it’s real.

Sometimes healthy people run for exercise, and oftentimes energetic individuals run for fun. In my neck of the woods, you run just to stay alive. Today I only hoped that the gang members didn’t murder me so I could make it home in one piece. My legs were pumping so hard I thought they might fall off.

Grandma and Pop would tell you I’m petite and pretty when really I’m short and perfectly ordinary. I don’t look anything like them except that we are all small in stature, though I’m so little I look like a shrimp by comparison. I have straight, brown hair with no bangs, smooth skin, and sharp, green eyes. I’ve never dressed fancy as I’ve never had much to begin with. Besides, in my neck of the woods, when you get something shiny, folks try to take it or talk about you for having it, so the more you blend in, the better off you’re bound to be.

Hey, short stuff! You with the ponytail! I told you to get over here!”

It was my favorite neighborhood thug heckling me.

Just don’t trip. Whatever you do, don’t trip, Addie.

The limb from the fallen tree did not hear my inner monologue, because my foot caught on the log and slung me onto the sidewalk.

I told you there was no point in running from us,” he said coldly. “We always get what we want.”

I winced in pain and grabbed my right knee, which was running red. I felt like a bleeding fish in the middle of a shark tank.

Show no fear. Don’t cry.

I forced myself to stand and face my antagonists. Their clothes and tattoos were clearly reflective of the Memphis gang, the Skullbangerz—not that I would be privy to any admission from them about this.

Ouch! Looks like you got a boo-boo,” said a slim, jumpy guy, eyeing me from the stems up. “Want me to kiss on you to make it all better?”

No, thanks—you’re really not my type,” I said, thankful I had enough spirit to sound snarky.

Oohh, she’s a feisty one. I like that in a lady,” he toyed dangerously with me.

Enough with your mouth. You’re wasting my time.” The tall, muscular gang leader cut him off as he stepped towards me. “Yeah, you got to be her,” he remarked as he studied my face.

Got to be whom?” I asked sullenly.

June Jackson’s granddaughter,” Jaydon Swisher announced.

I was surprised that he knew who I was. Everyone around here knew him. Just thinking about his cruel reputation made me shudder.

How do you know her?” I asked to try to pump information out of him.

So, you is Mrs. Jackson’s girl?” he quizzed me clearly not wanting to give anything away.

What’s it to you?”

You ain’t in the position to be asking questions of me. You give me what I want, and I might let you go in one piece…might. You act uncooperative, and I’ll butcher you up while you’re still alive. Then I’ll mail individual pieces of you wrapped up as Christmas presents to your Grandma. Do you understand what I’m telling you right now?”

He was close enough for me to feel his hot breath on my neck.

I knew most people made idle threats. However, I could tell from the way the other gang members kept their distance from him, Jaydon was telling the Gospel truth.

The waterfall of blood continued to rain down my leg. Every fiber in my being told me to get as far away from them as possible. Unfortunately though, as history had indicated, I was too clumsy to outrun them. So, I stalled for time and willed myself to exhibit grace under fire.

The leader of the pack misinterpreted my silence for newfound cooperation and continued to press me, “So, where is it?”

Where’s what?”

**AUDIO BOOK REVIEW** ~ Perfectly Innocent, by Tamra Lassiter (also includes excerpt, and giveaway)

PerfectlyInnocentAudioTour

Perfectly Innocent
by Tamra Lassiter
Publication Date: October 14, 2015
Genres: Contemporary, Romance, Suspense

Audio Tour: Perfectly Innocent by Tamra Lassiter

Ebook / Print: Amazon B&N iBooks Kobo Google Play

Audio: Spoken Word, Audible

Innocent or guilty—there’s nothing perfect about it.

Phoebe Davidson is a good girl who’s been through some bad times. Her life changed forever when she learned that her husband was living a secret life. Now, six years later, she’s just going through the motions of her life, afraid to let anyone in.

When a horrific crime occurs in her home, she meets Logan Matthews, a police detective working the case. When Phoebe herself is charged with the murder, can she trust Logan? Can she, and should she let him into her life?

Add to Goodreads

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Excerpt

I step closer—only about a foot away now. He doesn’t move. I take another step until I’m inches from him, so close that I can smell his musky scent. I wish that I was dressed in something a little more alluring than my pajamas.

“Stay,” I say. The word is barely a whisper.

His lips take mine. Take is the word that comes to mind because he claims them so completely. My mouth surrenders to him, and I’m on fire. There’s nothing tentative about his tongue as it explores my mouth. His hands move to my shoulders and then my back as he pulls me tightly to him.

A moan echoes from deep inside me. I rake my hands through his dark hair. He pulls me even closer. The feel of his tight body brings sensations to places that have been dormant for way too long. One kiss, especially a first kiss, has never had this effect on me—from zero to sixty in five seconds flat.

He pulls back enough to break our kiss, but one hand still rests on my lower back, holding me close. His other hand caresses my cheek. His eyes hold an unmistakable fire that I’m sure are reflected in my own.

“I should apologize for that, but it wouldn’t be sincere.” The corners of my lips turn up to a smile that he returns. The hard lines of his face soften, the corners of his eyes wrinkle, and his eyes brighten. For a moment, all is right with the world. Until a hard punch of reality hits him, and his smile recedes. “Still, I shouldn’t have kissed you. I can’t believe that I came here.”

He begins to pull away, but I refuse to let go. “I’m glad that you’re here. Does that count for anything?”

My Review FIVE STARS *****

Fast Paced and Sexy!

Bravo to author Tamra Lassiter! Perfectly Innocent is a fast-paced romantic suspense with a heroine I immediately rooted for and a hero to swoon over! As someone who often listens to radio plays I thought that I would try my hand at reviewing an audio book and I loved it! It was great escapism  – the narrative being told through the contrasting POVs of the heroine Phoebe and the hero Logan. The voices of the characters were an excellent match to how I imagined the characters to look, act and feel. I feel that this would also make a great read too.

The story sucked me in from the first high impact scene, which does not skimp on the drama or the gore! When good girl Phoebe returns home to find a man dying from a fatal knife wound in her kitchen she is understandably both shocked and traumatized. These emotions slowly turn to mounting horror and incredulity as over the coming days it is clear that she is the Police’s main suspect and the finger of suspicion points ever closer…..

Detective Logan (serious hottie alert) has recently re-located from Miami to the sleepy town where Phoebe lives, intent of doing a good job and avoiding the corruption that was rife in the city. He is immediately drawn to the young woman who is at the murder scene, and not in a professional way. Is she as innocent as she appears to be or is it her game to entrap him to avoid paying the price for her crime? In helping her prove her innocence will he have to put his job on the line and/or risk losing his heart? Can Phoebe trust Detective Logan or is his concern a mere ruse to pin the crime on her?

As Logan finds out about Phoebe’s past and evidence against her mounts, he is torn over whether to trust his gut instincts or the apparent evidence. I will not reveal any more but suffice to say that there is some clever plotting and I was hooked on the mounting danger and suspense and invested in the relationship of the hero and heroine right up to the end!

I enjoyed the pacing of the tale and how the scenes switched from Phoebe’s and Logan’s POV. The sexual tension between the couple is sky high and there are some seriously hot scenes! One audio book you will not want the children around whilst you are listening to it!

I recommend Perfectly Innocent to fans of romantic suspense and I will definitely read/listen to more of this author’s work in the future.

Reviewed by Tina Williams

This audio-book was given to me for the purpose of a fair and honest review.

 

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About Tamra Lassiter

I live outside Washington, D.C. with my wonderfully supportive husband and two daughters, one of which is approaching her teenage years. Help us all! If that isn’t enough, we have a Great Dane and an English Bulldog to keep us on our toes. It’s crazy around here and I love every minute of it!

Writing is my third career. I didn’t set out to be a writer, it was just meant to be. My Mechanical Engineering degree from Virginia Tech prepared me well for my first career as an Engineer/Program Manager. My second career was in Human Resources. Long story, but I figured it out. I believe the best start for a writing career is to be a reader first and I’ve been an avid reader my whole life. I’ve loved to read ever since I picked up my first Nancy Drew mystery in the fourth grade. Now I love reading just about everything, but I don’t read sad books and I don’t watch sad movies either for that matter, no matter how many awards they’ve won. Life’s too short and who needs all that strife to bring us down?

Many of my words have been penned late into the evening, which explains why I’ve never viewed whatever television show you recommend to me. I would, however, love to hear your recommendations for a great read!

 

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**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

**REVIEW** Cold Call by Colin Llewelyn Chapman

COLD CALL BOOK COVER - with blood SAFE COPYTitle: Cold Call

Author: Colin Llewelyn Chapman

Release Date: October 2014

Publisher: Percy Publishing

Genre: Dark crime/thriller

Length: 300 pages

Synopsis: Wealthy entrepreneur Robin Bradford had it all – the house, the cars, the fine dining – and he lost it all. All except Lizzie, his perfect, loving girlfriend. Down on his luck and with no immediate prospects in business, Robin’s energies found another outlet, Just a little something spicy to bide his time until his financial world recovered, leading him down a very seedy path, onto a very rocky road. Time however was all he had, and all he was going to get.

Due to violence, drug references and sexual content, readers are recommended to be of 18yrs+.

REVIEW

Cold Call reeled me in from the very beginning, opening up with the discovery of a body within the first few pages, the emergency services being called, and then introducing the reader to the main character, Robin Bradford. In the very first chapter the pace is set for the rest of the book and the writing style is direct, easy to follow but with a dark, gritty and full storyline.

After losing his wealthy lifestyle due to recession and having to downsize his home, lose his cars, etc, Robin now works as a cold call salesman from his own kitchen, meeting clients when necessary. His loving girlfriend, Lizzie, has stayed with him throughout the hard times and keeps a part time job for herself. But with more time on his hands, and his physical relationship with Lizzie not always being quite as he’d like, Robin begins to spice things up a bit for himself, which leads to terrifying consequences for some.

The first victim, Katja, is discovered by her neighbour, Adam, who finds her mutilated body after noticing her front door ajar. He goes in to warn her of the dangers of leaving her door open when he realises a warning is too late. This scene is gritty and gory. The description and dialogue feels very real, making the reader easily imagine that they are there with Adam and experiencing it all firsthand.

The reader is given glimpses into what could have happened but not enough to know the full details. This allows the flexibility for twists and the reader to guess the motive, the culprit and how exactly the murder was carried out. This does become more apparent as the story moves on with the police investigation and forensics.

The story switches easily from the police officers involved, the forensic team and the crime scenes to Robin’s life, making it easy for the reader to keep up with all involved and you really sense that the author has left nothing out. I can understand Cold Call being likened to Martina Cole and Luther (BBC TV series), as it does read like a crime drama for tv.

I particularly loved reading how the investigation grew, from the very first murder scene, right the way through to the very end. The development is gradual, with DNA tests results being waited on, new crime scenes to record and compare notes with and even flaws within the characters that can slow down the investigation. This again makes it very realistic.

As the story continues so does the tension and suspense. Robin’s hunger for more spice, more control and more dominance drives the story even more, making for a more seedier read that becomes increasingly more dangerous. It also becomes clear that there is more to Robin’s actions than meets the eye. The recession and loss of his high class lifestyle has a deep impact on his dignity and pride. His extra ‘marital’ activities are psychologically allowing him to feel powerful and in control once again. But just how far will he go?

Cold Call is written well and clearly, easy to read and follow, at the same time as having a well-planned and detailed storyline with likeable and realistic characters. The pace is perfect, with dialogue and storyline flowing nicely at a rate that allows the reader to take in the information but never allowing the reader to switch off. And, as the story comes to an end, there are unexpected events which will surprise the reader. I would certainly like to read more from Colin Llewelyn Chapman as Cold Call is a fantastic debut.

A copy of Cold Call was provided by Percy Publishing in return for an honest and fair review.

Reviewed by Caroline Barker

To read an excerpt of Cold Call please click here: EXCERPT

AUTHOR BIO

ColinColin, 45, has worked in Construction throughout his career. He has three children aged from 12 to 18, and two step-children. Son of a former gamekeeper, he is still a country boy at heart! He described his childhood as “brilliant”, benefiting as he did from fantastic loving parents, and the joy of growing up in the beautiful Essex countryside.

AUTHOR LINKS:

Twitter: @ColinLChapman

Facebook: Colin Llewelyn Chapman-Author

Cold Call book actualPURCHASE LINKS:

Amazon UK

Amazon US

 

**DOUBLE COVER REVEAL** ~ Tempting His Mistress and Once Upon a Rake, by Samantha Holt

Today I’m delighted to share not one but two cover reveals for Samantha Holt’s upcoming Victorian Romances, Tempting His Mistress and Once Upon A Rake! Scroll down to read the book blurb. Tina 🙂

Tempting His Mistress

Coming November 10th

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Book Synopsis

What could possibly induce a 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…?

Once Upon a Rake

Coming November 24th

Onceuponarake

Book Synopsis

In Victorian England, little Ellie Browning swiftly discovered happy endings did not exist, and rakes were simply rakes. When the man she had adored for years kissed her and left her heartbroken, she resolved to put any dreams of fairy tales aside.

Seven years later, the widowed Eleanor, Countess of Hawthorne, has returned to England after years of travelling with a few ideas in mind. Firstly, she will continue to be the refined, elegant woman she has learned to be—or at least she shall try her best—and secondly, she will make a difference to the lives of those less fortunate than her. A fine opportunity presents itself when she discovers she is now a part owner of a cotton mill.

But the owner of the mill and the very same rake who had hurt her, has no desire to let a woman interfere with his business, let alone little Ellie Browning. After one of Lucian’s mills succumbed to fire, he’s fighting to save the other and continue his father’s legacy of fine business decisions and accruing wealth.

However, after a series of accidents, it becomes clear someone wishes the mill to close. But who, and why? Forced together to investigate the incidents, they must get past their shared history if they want to save the business.

If only the growing attraction between them did not prove such a distraction. With things heating up between them, it becomes clear that they are both at risk of getting burned…

VictorianPromoman

 

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