#blogtour Box of Bones by Peter Morfoot – Exclusive Extract

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Christian Malraux peered at what was left of the headstone and grinned. ‘Aw, that’s sad, isn’t it? Mummy died when he was only a kid.’ He straightened. ‘Can turn you into a complete arsehole, that.’

The crime-scene photographer lowered his camera. ‘Shift,’ he said. ‘And mind where you put your feet.’

The immediate area was still littered with flower debris.

‘Yeah, wouldn’t want to spoil them.’ Malraux trod with exaggerated care between the chewed-up blooms. ‘I don’t know, Marcel, I call in as a courtesy and this is all the thanks I get? I’m over in Cannes now, you know. Full lieutenant.’

‘We miss you terribly.’

The camera’s motor drive whirred away.

‘Our paths will still cross, my friend.’ Malraux winced, screwing up his eyes. ‘Ah, shit.’ He reached under his overalls and took out two small plastic vials. Tilting his head back, he emptied one of them into his pink, lashless left eye. ‘And he had his guitar nicked didn’t he? Talk about a bad week.’

The camera went silent once more. ‘You’re still in the way.’

Blinking like a faulty light bulb, Malraux repeated the procedure with the other eye. ‘Captain Fantastic having his arse nearly shot off… I tell you, if I was still around, it wouldn’t have happened. I’ve saved his life once already.’ His head still tilted back, Malraux shuddered, freezing cold, suddenly. Trying to force his eyes open, ghastly images started crowding into his head. He pictured the entombed body beneath him rising through the stone slab and coming for him. The skeletal hands of a woman reaching out and closing around his throat. Blinking blindly, Malraux staggered backwards, dropping the vials.

More camera whirrs. ‘Sting, do they?’ Marcel said. ‘The drops?’

Gulping in air, Malraux put his hands to his neck and felt all around it. His eyes clearing, he kept them on the grave as he retreated another couple of paces. ‘Just cold,’ he said at length. ‘The stuff does that.’

‘I never realised you were such a sensitive soul.’

Malraux’s vision settled. He began to calm down. Not that he would ever admit to anyone that he’d just suffered a panic attack. ‘Because that’s definitely what it was,’ he said aloud, still staring warily at the grave.

‘What was definitely what?’

Slowly, Malraux gathered himself. He looked at his watch. ‘Got to go. Hate hanging around these places anyway. Give me the fucking creeps.’

The whirring stopped. ‘Oy! Don’t leave your shit behind.’

‘You chuck them,’ Malraux said, not looking back.

It is carnival time in Nice, and for three weeks the boulevards are alive with dancers, jugglers and musicians. Amid the colour and pageantry, a man suffers a fatal fall the first in a series of suspicious deaths.
Captain Paul Darac of the Brigade Criminelle is sure the answer lies in the mystery surrounding a daring bank heist, supposedly resolved years ago. But the reopening of the case awakens powerful enemies, and soon the safety of his friends, his colleagues and his family is at stake.

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#Blogtour Tell No Lies by Lisa Hartley #ExclusiveExtract

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The sleeping bag was thin and threadbare, offering little warmth and less comfort. Ryan drew his knees towards his chest, wondering how long he’d been asleep. He raised his head, slid his arm out from beneath it. Tried to remember when he’d last slept in a proper bed with pillows and a duvet. Reaching down to his jeans pocket, he pulled out his phone, the smell of his unwashed body drifting up from inside the sleeping bag and making his nose wrinkle. Ten thirty. He’d had about three hours’ sleep. Not bad.

He sat up, rubbing his hands over his face, and leant back against the wall. He’d fallen asleep in a corner, out of the way at least. Who knew how many people had tramped through the room while he lay there, completely out of it. He had few belongings, but he always made sure they were pushed down inside the sleeping bag when he slept, with his body on top of them, not left out where anyone could see them. They wouldn’t be there when he woke otherwise.

There was a battered sofa on the other side of the room. A young man and woman, probably still in their teens, lay on it, their limbs entwined. Ryan recognised the dazed, unfocused eyes; saw the pipe, made from a whisky miniature bottle, in the girl’s hand. He felt the familiar tug of need and pushed himself to his feet.

In the kitchen, standing over the cooker and preparing the next batch, was Mulligan. The room was stuffy, hot, and Ryan licked his lips, sweat beginning to dampen his palms. Mulligan turned, threw him a smile. Ryan stuffed his hands in his pockets. What was he grinning about? The rumour was he’d killed his own cousin over a drug debt, and Ryan could believe it.

‘Morning, sunshine,’ said Mulligan. ‘Full English, or Continental?’

Ryan coughed, his chest rattling, pain thudding through it. ‘Not hungry.’

Mulligan smirked. ‘You want to lay off the smoking.’

‘Funny.’

‘Would if you could, I know.’

‘How would you pay your rent if I did?’ Was he slurring his words? Ryan couldn’t tell.

His stomach churned as he gazed at the frying pans on the cooker top. Crack. He hated it.

He loved it.

‘Looks like we’re boiling.’ Mulligan pointed to the nearest pan. ‘Looking good, boyo.’

‘Haven’t you got some that’s ready?’ Ryan heard the desperation in his own voice, and flinched.

Mulligan tilted his head. ‘Ah, pal. Is it bad? Need a helping hand this morning, is that it? You know, for a change?’

‘Come on, man…’

Laughing, Mulligan turned back to his pans. ‘I’ve only got a few rocks left, reserved for a special customer. Can’t let you have them, I’m afraid.’

‘Who? Whatever they’re giving you, I’ll pay double.’ The words fell out of Ryan’s mouth before he knew what he was going to say. Did he even have the money? He was pathetic, he knew it, and he didn’t care. Mulligan held him and many others in the palm of his hand. They all danced to his tune, would get on their knees and beg if he asked them to. And while they were down there… Anything.

And Mulligan knew it. Played on it, as often as possible, for as long as he could.

‘Mulligan? I’ll give you double.’

‘What?’ Mulligan’s lip curled. ‘Twice fuck-all is still fuck-all. No can do. It’s business. You’ll have to wait until this lot’s ready.’ He nodded at his pans. ‘I’m starting to cool it now, it’ll only be a wee while.’

Ryan clenched his fists, knowing as he did so he was making a mistake. Sure enough, Mulligan turned, saw the movement. Cleared his throat. In a second, two heavyset men stood either side of Ryan. They didn’t speak, didn’t even look at him, but there was no mistaking their message. Shut the fuck up.

Now they’re coming after Caelan’s team…

A tortured body is found in a basement. Drug dealing and people smuggling is on the rise. Then police start going missing.

There seems to be no connection between the crimes, but Detective Caelan Small senses something isn’t right.

Plunged into a new investigation, lives are on the line. And in the web of gangs, brothels and nerve-shattering undercover work, Caelan must get to the truth – or be killed trying.

And then there’s Nicky…

Utterly gripping, written with searing tension and remarkable dexterity, Tell No Lies is a blistering crime novel for fans of Angela Marsons, Rebecca Bradley and Faith Martin.

Lisa Hartley lives with her partner, son, two dogs and several cats. She graduated with a BA (Hons) in English Studies, then had a variety of jobs but kept writing in her spare time. She is currently working on the next DS Catherine Bishop novel, as well as a new series with Canelo.

 

Bryant & May – Hall of Mirrors by Christopher Fowler

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The year is 1969 and ten guests are about to enjoy a country house weekend at Tavistock Hall. But one amongst them is harbouring thoughts of murder. . .

The guests also include the young detectives Arthur Bryant and John May – undercover, in disguise and tasked with protecting Monty Hatton-Jones, a whistle-blower turning Queen’s evidence in a massive bribery trial. Luckily, they’ve got a decent chap on the inside who can help them – the one-armed Brigadier, Nigel ‘Fruity’ Metcalf.

The scene is set for what could be the perfect country house murder mystery, except that this particular get-together is nothing like a Golden Age classic. For the good times are, it seems, coming to an end. The house’s owner – a penniless, dope-smoking aristocrat – is intent on selling the estate (complete with its own hippy encampment) to a secretive millionaire but the weekend has only just started when the millionaire goes missing and murder is on the cards. But army manoeuvres have closed the only access road and without a forensic examiner, Bryant and May can’t solve the case. It’s when a falling gargoyle fells another guest that the two incognito detectives decide to place their future reputations on the line. And in the process discover that in Swinging Britain nothing is quite what it seems…
So gentle reader, you are cordially invited to a weekend in the country. Expect murder, madness and mayhem in the mansion!

Man, oh man, oh man, I loved this. I even had to go against all my instincts and stretch out the reading, because I just didn’t want to get to the end and have to wait another year for the next one.  Just *love* Bryant & May.

The release of a new Bryant and May novel is always a big event at LifeOfCri.me Manor.  Each eagerly awaited edition is devoured, normally, and when the opportunity arises to get a chance of an early copy it’s one that I won’t miss.  As such I found myself getting to grips with John May and Arthur Bryant in full on throwback mode, with Hall of Mirrors being set in 1969, and trying desperately to slow down my reading and swallow up each and every delicious word.

It’s definitely my favourite of the series so far, mainly because it’s one of my favourite styles of tale.  Hall of Mirrors is what Fowler calls a ‘precinct’ novel (as was White Corridor).  Everything happens in a limited space and time.  In this case an old manor house, a flooded and a closed off village, alongside a small cast of vivid characters, and of course the requisite murder.

I adored meeting younger versions of Bryant and May, and seeing the beginnings of some of their well known idiosyncrasies.  It was also fun to meet some of the earlier generations of staff at the PCU, names you will be familiar with from earlier novels but have only met fleetingly.

All of this makes Hall of Mirrors as amazing a read to satisfy the most ardent of followers, whilst making the entire series completely accessible to anyone new to Bryant and May, because it can be read and enjoyed as a completely standalone novel.  If you are new to these pair, I’m sure you will be hooked, and more than pleased to know there are another 14 books you can catch up with!

Highly recommended by me.

Captor – Anita Waller

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Liz Chambers is a devoted mother who works for a successful law firm. She has two children, a husband and a blossoming career. But behind closed doors, Liz is harbouring a secret that could destroy her life.

Then the unthinkable happens, and in a frenzied attack, her young son is snatched from the home of the childminder charged with looking after him.

As Liz’s life unfolds, it becomes clear that someone is out for revenge.

Desperate to get her baby boy back, Liz must work out who is responsible for his kidnap, and why.

But as the body count begins to mount, Liz’s concern grows for the safety of her child.

Who has taken her baby?

And why is Captor so determined on revenge?

Loved, loved, loved it….

Wow. what an amazing book.  To say I couldn’t put it down doesn’t seem enough.  I felt like it was glued not just to my fingers, but to my eyes and my mind.  I didn’t have a choice. It’s *that* good.

We begin, with the disappearance of Liz’s son, and we follow through as she struggles to find him.  At the same time as uncovering the ‘secret; she has been keeping and it’s far reaching consequences.

It’s a great tale of how even the simplest of our actions, all taken with the best of intentions create ripples, like a stone thrown in pond, that can unsettle the foundations of everything we believe in.

Cape Bay Cozy Mysteries – Harper Lin

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Cappuccinos, Cupcakes and  a Corpse

Francesca Amaro moves back to her hometown of Cape Bay, Massachusetts, and takes over the family business, Antonia’s Italian Cafe. She spends her days making delicious artisan cappuccinos – until she stumbles upon her neighbor’s dead body. When the police discover Mr. Cardosi was poisoned, Francesca becomes a suspect. The victim’s son, Matty, happens to be Francesca’s old high school friend. Together they uncover the secrets of the locals in order to find the killer in their idyllic beach town.

Tea, Tiramisu and Tough Guys

When Francesca’s old high school crush, Todd, is accused of murder, she is convinced he is innocent. The police don’t believe Todd’s story, and neither does Matty. During the busy summer tourist season at Cape Bay, Francesca sets out to prove Todd’s innocence. Matty, however, investigates to prove Todd is guilty. Why does Matty detest Todd so much? But what if he’s right – what if Todd is a murderer?

Margaritas, Marzipan and Murder

Summer tourist season is winding down, but the Cape Bay police find a dead body in the alley beside Mary Ellen’s Souvenirs and Gifts. Police rule it a suicide, but Francesca Amaro knows it’s murder. Who would buy a bag of souvenirs, including a box of delicious marzipan, only to commit suicide moments later?

Even though the police tell her to stay out of the case, Fran is too curious not to investigate, even though she’s running a busy and popular cafe.

Lattes, Ladyfingers and Lies

Fran is anticipating her trip to Italy with Matty…until a precious diamond ring is stolen from the town’s jewelry store and an employee is murdered. Fran suspects the store owner of insurance fraud, but what if she’s wrong? Would her life be at stake again if she butts in on another police investigation?

Americanos, Apple Pies and Art Thieves

It’s almost Thanksgiving, and Fran is baking her family’s famous apple pies for the cafe. While pie fever spreads through Cape Bay, a world-famous artist holds a special art show in the town’s modest museum in honor of his late mother, who grew up there.

Louis Cliffton’s paintings are encrusted with valuable gems and gold. At the opening night, the centerpiece of the show is stolen. When Fran investigates the case, she receives threats, and someone follows her home and vandalizes her cafe.

What kind of thief would do this? A crazy outsider – or someone from her very own town?

Cremas, Christmas Cookies and Crooks

It’s almost Christmastime in Cape Bay, and another murder has everyone in town talking. A despised new drama teacher at the local high school is killed in the school’s parking lot. The police arrest a beloved teacher, Mrs. Crowsdale, but everyone else thinks she is too nice to murder anyone. Mike, however, says they have solid evidence that proves she did it.

Sammy is particularly devastated. Mrs. Crowsdale was her favorite teacher and still her hero. Sammy begs Fran to find the real culprit. Fran isn’t so sure. Mike would be angry with her for butting in on another case. And what if more danger befalls her? After all, there are some pretty dangerous people in town….

If you love cozy crime, with good plots, cheery characters, and the occasional recipe, then this is a series for you….

Every now and the I enjoy shaking up my crime routine with some cozy crime.  Sometimes you just need to be able to giggle to yourself while still trying to figure out a mystery.

I discovered this series thanks to a random freebie purchase on Amazon, I was looking for a break from the usual and took a chance on Cappuccinos, Cupcakes and a Corpse.  I’m glad I did, devouring all six books in a little under four days.  They were such easy reads, that flowed well, kept me pleasantly entertained, and I didn’t want to put them down until I was done, as I was enjoying the growth of the stories and the writing.

There are some delightful characters in here.  I love Fran and Mattie, who bounce off  each other well. I love one of Fran’s closest friends a part time police patrol officer / detective who is trying to balance his duty, his appreciation of assistance, his dislike of civilian ‘interference’ in his cases, and their eventual consequences.

If you want a break from the ‘harder crime novels’ I recommend these.

If you want cozy crime that ‘doesn’t include cats’, I recommend these.

If you want a great mystery, without the ‘gory details’, I recommend these.

Enjoy.