#blogtour – Trap By Lilja Sigurdardottir

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Happily settled in Florida, Sonja believes she’s finally escaped the trap set by unscrupulous drug lords. But when her son Tomas is taken, she’s back to square one … and Iceland.

Her lover, Agla, is awaiting sentencing for financial misconduct after the banking crash, and Sonja refuses to see her. And that’s not all … Agla owes money to some extremely powerful men, and they’ll stop at nothing to get it back.

With her former nemesis, customs officer Bragi on her side, Sonja puts her own plan into motion, to bring down the drug barons and her scheming ex-husband, and get Tomas back safely. But things aren’t as straightforward as they seem, and Sonja finds herself caught in the centre of a trap that will put all of their lives at risk…

I’m a big lover of Icelandic fiction, and yet this is my first read by Lilja Sigurdardóttir.  It’s a sequel to her previous book Snare which I’ll certainly be looking to read now.  I didn’t feel like I needed to have read it previously whilst I was reading Trap, but I’m thinking it might have been a good idea to have read that one first.

Caught in the “trap” of a drug smuggling ring Sonja is a mother desperately trying to get back her son, and save their future.  You get thrown into the story right from page one and feel pulled along all the way, as the tale wraps you up in its complexity leaving you eager to discover how it will unravel in the end.

With strong themes of drug smuggling, and abusive, controlling partners, all set against the backdrop of the financial crash and its fallout, (along with the remains of the Eyjafjallajökull eruption and the volcano’s fallout) it’s an intense read but well worth it.

 

 

Icelandic crime-writer Lilja Sigurdardóttir was born in the town of Akranes in 1972 and raised in Mexico, Sweden, Spain and Iceland. An award-winning playwright, Lilja has written four crime novels, with Snare, the first in a new series, hitting bestseller lists worldwide. The film rights have been bought by Palomar Pictures in California. She lives in Reykjavík with her partner.

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#blogtour – The Cornish Retribution by Amanda James #GuestPost

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After a tragic car accident, Samantha is left widowed and bereft.  Her husband Adam was everything to her. But at least the home they shared together in Cornwall provides her with some security. Or does it?

Upon returning from a school reunion in Sheffield, where Sam met her old friend, Penny, and an old flame from her school days, Dan, she discovers that Adam had invested money unwisely and she is now penniless.

When Penny and Dan, who are now married, arrive in Cornwall to visit Sam, Dan comes up with a way in which Sam can keep the house. He suggests she turns it into a writing retreat. And he is willing to invest.

Despite his wife’s reservations, Dan gets his way but at what price?

Why is Dan so keen to help? Has Sam put herself in harm’s way?

Some relationships are built to last. Others are deadly.

INTERVIEW WITH SAMANTHA LANE

I’m sitting in The Merrymoor Inn opposite the beach at Mawgan Porth, about four miles from Newquay.  The smell of pasties, fish and chips and a sausage or two mingles with a whiff of Cornish Cyder and my stomach is rumbling. Through the window I spy Samantha, or Sam, as most call her. She’s the protagonist in my book, The Cornish Retribution. Sam’s hurrying up the steps from the carpark, her dark curls lifting on the breeze as she walks. As she enters the bakery, her lively blue eyes light up and her smile reflects mine as she hurries over to my table. She looks self-assured comfortable in her own skin. She’s come a long way, and that makes me happy.

 

‘Hi Sam, how are you?’ I say giving her a quick hug.

‘I’m good, thanks. Really good.’ She smiles again and sits opposite.

‘You look it. Now, can I get you a pasty or a pint?’

Sam looks towards the bar at the delicious food on offer, and then back to me with a mischievous twinkle. ‘Hmm, can we be naughty and have both?’

I laugh, and we order a pasty each and a delicious pint of crisp cyder. Back at the table she regards me thoughtfully over the rim of glass. ‘What brings you to Mawgan Porth today then, Mandy?’

Sam always uses Mandy rather than Amanda. ‘To see you of course. It’s been a while. Also, would you mind answering a few questions, so the readers of The Cornish Retribution can get to know you a little more?’

‘I’d be delighted. Anything to help.’

‘Great. Okay, first question, how old are you?’

‘You know the answer, you gave me life after all.’

‘I did indeed,’ I say from the corner of my mouth as it’s full of pasty. ‘But then I know all the answers. The readers don’t though.’

‘I’m forty-five.’

‘And what do you do for a living?

‘I run a writers’ retreat in the grounds of my home up on the cliff over there.’ She points through the window across the beach. ‘I write full time too.’

‘How’s that going?’

‘It’s so busy! The retreat is booked solid and I have a novel out at the end of the year.’  Sam blows on her pasty and takes a big bite. ‘I like busy though.’

‘You sound happy, are you?’

She swallows and gives me a huge smile. ‘I have never been happier.’

‘Couldn’t say the same a year or so ago though, eh?

A dark cloud slips behind her eyes. ‘No.’

I feel guilty for dragging up the past, but if readers are to know Sam, we must visit it. ‘If you’re okay to, would you mind if we went back to how you were after your husband, Adam died?’

A deep sigh. ‘I guess not. I was distraught over his death and later on, almost destitute due to some daft deals Adam did unbeknown to me.’ Sam takes a sip of cyder and doodles a face in the condensation on her glass.  ‘But thankfully all that stuff’s all behind me now…all I can see ahead is sunshine.’

She’s not really given me much, so I take a sip of my own drink and plunge straight in. ‘The fact that your old flame Dan invested in your retreat helped a lot didn’t it?’

‘Yes. I can safely say that if it hadn’t been for him I would have lost the house, lost everything.’ Sam shrugs and chews her pasty thoughtfully.’

‘You didn’t want to accept his help though did you, because he behaved badly towards you when you were teenagers?’

Sam twists her mouth to the side. ‘Behaving badly is putting it mildly. He betrayed me with my best friend, as you know.’

I nod and give her an encouraging smile. ‘What do you mean by betrayed?’

‘Well, just for your readers, I’ll elaborate.’ The pain in her eyes makes me wonder if it’s a good idea raking over the past, but she hurries on.  ‘Basically, I refused to sleep with him when I was sixteen and he was seventeen. My oldest friend Penny obliged instead and they ended up getting married.’ Sam’s face brightened. ‘He regretted the hell out of it through later. Couldn’t forget me and was determined to win me back. He had a controlling nature and wouldn’t let things go. I soon put a stop to his games though.’ She alters her smile as if she’s realised she might have said too much, dabs at her mouth with a napkin and stares at her plate.’

‘But he did love you really, didn’t he? Even though he was controlling and ruthless.’ I put my hand on her arm.

She looks at me and nods. ‘God yes. It’s just that I couldn’t cope with what he’d done…what he would have done again.

‘No. But don’t say more as we don’t want to give too much away do we?’

‘Make your mind up. You’re asking the searching questions.’

She’s looking fierce, so I change the subject. ‘Although you were born and brought up in Sheffield, this is where your mother’s from and your grandmother, isn’t it…you see yourself as Cornish don’t you?

Sam gives me a withering look and yawns. ‘You know I do, you wrote the story. This interview is a bit daft really. Can we talk about you for a change? I never really got to know much about your life.’

‘Er, perhaps another time. Humour me.’

‘Okay. Yes. I see myself as Cornish, hence the title of the book.’

‘Do you think the retribution was justified?’

‘I do under the circumstances.’

‘Do you wish it all could have been different?’

‘No. I think the story panned out really well to be honest.’ Sam swirls her glass, drains it and sets it carefully down. Then she looks out of the window at the turbulent ocean.

I decide that enough is enough and ask, ‘How are the family? I bet your grandson is a real handful now.’

Sam beams. ‘He is, and my granddaughter’s arrival is imminent. I can’t wait!’

‘I bet. I drain my own glass and ask, ‘Do you see much of Harry?’

‘Wouldn’t you like to know?’ Sam gives me a slow smile but no more information. start with.

I return her smile. ‘I would, yes.’

‘Right. Shall I fill you in with what I’ve been up to recently?’

‘Best not, because that might give too much away too,’ I say and shrug my coat on. ‘Let’s go up to yours for a drink. The readers won’t hear us there. I’d love to hear all your news.’

Sam grins. ‘Now you’re talking.’

We stand and I follow her out of the pub into the bright sunshine.

Amanda has written since she was a child, but never imagined that her words would be published, given that she left school with no real qualifications of note apart from an A* in how to be a nuisance in class. Nevertheless, she returned to education when her daughter was five and eventually became a history teacher. Then in 2010, after many twists and turns, the dream of becoming a writer came true when her first short story was published. Amanda has written many short stories and has six novels currently published.
Amanda grew up in Sheffield but now has realised her lifelong dream of living in Cornwall and her writing is inspired every day by the dramatic coastline near her home. She has sketched out many stories in her head while walking the cliff paths. Four of her mystery/suspense novels are set there, Somewhere Beyond the Sea, Summer in Tintagel, Behind the Lie and Rip Current. The Cornish Retribution is also set in Cornwall and will be published by Bloodhound Books in October 2018.
Amanda, known to many as Mandy, spends far more time than is good for her on social media and has turned procrastination to a fine art. She can also usually be found playing on the beach with her family, or walking the cliff paths planning her next book.

#blogtour – One Perfect Witness by Pat Young – #ExclusiveExtract

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On a remote Scottish hillside, three paths meet. On each path, a boy, one carrying a gun.
When their paths cross, a shot is fired and a boy dies.
That leaves two – one killer and one perfect witness.
This killer will stop at nothing to make sure the witness says nothing. Difficult for most people, even for someone who’s been guarding a secret of his own for five years.
What if the witness decides he’s been silent too long? Sometimes even the unspeakable must be spoken, if we can find the words.

 

Someone’s standing on the path, watching me.
I curl into a ball. In case he’s got a dog. Saw a hedgehog do that once, when it was frightened. It worked. The dog lost interest and walked away.
I stop breathing. Keep my eyes shut tight. Try not to twitch the tiniest muscle. Pray he hasn’t seen me.
Dead bracken whispers near my ear. My nose is so near the ground I can smell the earth. Think I might sneeze. I let out my breath a tiny little bit at a time but it still sounds loud as thunder.
Another few minutes pass, or maybe it’s just moments.
‘Hey, kid. You okay?’
When I don’t answer he says, ‘What you doing out here on your own at this time of the morning? You should be tucked up in bed.’
My legs are trembling, my hands too. I curl up tighter. Squeeze my knees to my chest so hard I can hardly breathe.
‘Come on. Up you get.’
I don’t move.
‘Hey, listen. You need to get up. You can’t lie there.’   
I slowly raise my head. I see a face with wide, hairy nostrils and eyes that bulge as he leans towards me. His breath reminds me of the old dog Pops had when I was small.
The man touches my elbow and I flinch away from his hand. The bad memory’s so strong my stomach feels like I’m falling down a flume.  
‘Easy, buddy, easy.’ He takes a step away from me. Holds his hands up like he’s under arrest.
I have to stand up and show him I’m not afraid. I crawl out and get to my feet, trying to hide the gun behind me.
‘Playing cowboys?’
He waits, as if he expects me to say something.
‘All by yourself?
My legs are shaking. Wish I had long trousers on to hide them.
‘You lost or something?’
I shake my head.
‘Come on over here. Don’t be scared. I won’t hurt you.’
That’s what Robbie said.
Inside my head, something snaps. I feel full of courage. I look the stranger right in the eye and bring the gun from behind my back.
‘Going to give me a look at your gun? Cool.’ He holds out his hand. ‘Hand it over, then.’
I don’t hand it over. I snap it shut, like I’ve seen Dad do. I smell metal and oil as the mechanism locks into place.
‘Shit! That doesn’t sound like a toy. Is it some kind of replica?’ He holds out his arms this time. ‘Can I see it, please?’ He smiles as if he expects me to just do as he says.
Without taking my eyes off him, I slowly raise the gun. Till it’s pointing at his chest. The smile slides from his face like slime off a stick. He moves away from me. A branch catches the back of his leg and he stumbles. I raise the rifle a little more. Settle it against my shoulder. Copying Dad. It feels so heavy I think my legs might buckle, but I don’t feel a bit afraid. I feel powerful.
I rest my cheek on the gun. Make a show of placing my finger on the trigger.
He starts to scramble through the gorse, backwards. His eyes never leaving my face. The thorns snag his shirt but he doesn’t seem to notice. Suddenly he stops and stands with his hands in the air.
‘Take it easy, kid. Watch what you’re doing with that thing.’ His voice sounds kind of wavery. ‘Put it down now, please. The joke’s over. You’ve had your fun.’
I want him to keep going. Run. Get away from me.
He doesn’t move. Well, just his arm. He stretches it out towards me, in slow motion. ‘Come on,’ he says, very quietly, coaxing. ‘Just do what I tell you and you won’t get hurt.’
Like the last time.  
I stare at him. Right down the barrel. Slowly, very slowly, I shake my head. Then I pull the trigger.

 

Pat Young grew up in the south west of Scotland where she still lives, sometimes. She often goes to the other extreme, the south west of France, in search of sunlight.

Pat never expected to be a writer. Then she found a discarded book with a wad of cash tucked in the flyleaf. ‘What if something awful happened to the person who lost this book?’ she thought, and she was off.

Pat knew nothing of writing, but she knew a thing or two about books, having studied English, French and German at Glasgow University. A passion for languages led to a career she loved and then a successful part-time business that allowed her some free-time, at last.

Pat had plans, none of which included sitting at her desk from daybreak till dusk. But some days she has to. Because there’s a story to be told. And when it’s done, she can go out to play. On zip-wires and abseil ropes, or just the tennis court.

Pat writes psychological thrillers. Her debut novel Till the Dust Settles, has been awarded the Scottish Association of Writers’ Constable Stag trophy. Following publication in July

Pat was delighted to be chosen as an ‘emerging talent’ for Crime in the Spotlight and read from Till the Dust Settles to an audience at Bloody Scotland – another dream come true.

Published by Bloodhound Books, I Know Where You Live is the much-anticipated sequel to Pat’s gripping and unmissable debut thriller, Till the Dust Settles. It too is a psychological thriller with a skillfully told story that makes for an enjoyable stand alone read. It will hook you from the start.

One Perfect Witness, Pat’s third novel to be published, tells a completely new story. If, like Pat, you’re fascinated by what happens when someone disappears, you’ll enjoy this book of secrets, lies and deception.

#blogtour In The Silence by M R Mackenzie

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Anna hasn’t set foot in Glasgow for ten years. And for very good reasons…

When Anna, a criminology lecturer, does return to Glasgow from Rome, during the coldest winter in memory, tragedy strikes. While out with her best friend from school, Anna has a chance encounter with a former flame, Andrew, and later that night discovers Andrew stabbed and dying on a blanket of snow. Soon Anna finds herself at the centre of the investigation as the star witness for the police, and embarks on investigating the case herself. But Anna doesn’t realise the danger she is in and soon finds herself in trouble. When another body shows up, who has links to the first victim, it appears that the motive may lie buried in the past.

As Anna gets closer to the truth, the killer starts closing in. But can she solve the gruesome mystery before the killer strikes again?

Atmospheric and intriguing, In The Silence is a read that slowly pulls you into its grip, taking its time to wrap itself around your curiosity and make you want to dig deeper into the story.

Soaking you up in an easy feeling of the real nature of Glasgow, and especially considering Mackenzies’ use of native Scottish speech, you’ll feel fully enveloped in the whole story, as it unfolds before you.

I found the characters of Anna and Zoe both addictive and yet annoying, swinging between like and dislike of each, often, always a sign to me of a well written persona.

A mesmerising debut, it’s well worth reading and I’m certainly going to be looking out for more from this author.

#CoverReveal – A Friend Is A Gift You Give Yourself – William Boyle

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After Brooklyn mob widow Rena Ruggiero hits her eighty-year-old neighbor Enzio in the head with an ashtray when he makes an unwanted move on her, she retreats to the Bronx home of her estranged daughter, Adrienne, and her granddaughter, Lucia, only to be turned away at the door. Their neighbor, Lacey “Wolfie” Wolfstein, a one-time Golden Age porn star and retired Florida Suncoast grifter, takes Rena in and befriends her. When Lucia discovers that Adrienne is planning to hit the road with her exboyfriend, she figures Rena is her only way out of a life on the run with a mother she can’t stand. The stage is set for an explosion that will propel Rena, Wolfie, and Lucia down a strange path, each woman running from their demons, no matter what the cost.

#BlogTour – Overkill by Vanda Symon – Exclusive Extract

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When the body of a young mother is found washed up on the banks of the Mataura River, a small rural community is rocked by her tragic suicide. But all is not what it seems.

Sam Shephard, sole-charge police constable in Mataura, soon discovers the death was no suicide and has to face the realisation that there is a killer in town. To complicate the situation, the murdered woman was the wife of her former lover. When Sam finds herself on the list of suspects and suspended from duty, she must cast aside her personal feelings and take matters into her own hands.
To find the murderer … and clear her name.
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The cellphone ring snapped me out of my trance. Well, it didn’t ring, strictly speaking. It performed an electronic abomination that would have made Bach scream with indignation.

‘Ah, God damn it.’

I slowed up, pulled the phone from my running-shorts pocket and gulped in a few quick breaths.
‘Shephard.’

‘Gore Watch House.’

It would have to be work. They could find you anywhere.

‘Hi. What’s up?’

‘We have had a missing person report come in. Wyndham Road. Are you able to attend?’

Wyndham Road? I knew several people down there. I glanced down at my watch and calculated it would take another ten minutes to run home.

‘Yes, I can be there. It could be half an hour, though. You caught me out on a run. What number?’

‘One fifty-three. The Knowes household.’

‘Knowes?’ Lockie? Missing? My heart rate jumped up again.

‘Yes, the reported person missing is Mrs Gabriella Knowes. Mr Knowes called it in.’

‘Thanks. I’ll be there soon.’ I hung up, tucked the phone back in, then set off at a jog in the direction of  home. My quiet little winddown after work was out the window.

Gaby Knowes? At least it wasn’t Lockie. Curious, though: he wasn’t the kind of man to panic if the wife was late home and there was no dinner on the table. And it was only 5.15pm. He must have only just got in from work and called the police straight away.

As the sole-charge policewoman at the Mataura station, it was my lot to be on call more often than not. But call-outs after hours were a rarity now. When I lived at the police house behind the station, I
was fair game for the slightest gripe at any hour of the day, or night. The situation had improved only when I moved to a flat and put some distance between me and the job. Nowadays call-outs were
usually for a fracas at the pub or a minor car accident – something quick to sort out.

I looked up at the horizon, judged that there were, at best, two or three hours of light left and took off at a trot, preferring the regularity of running on the road rather than on the scraggy roadside gravel
and overgrown grass, and having to dodge the matchstick roadside markers. There was only the odd car to worry about, and they generally gave me a big swerve. Occasionally, I’d get some idiot who’d
almost force me into the drainage ditch, but they were the exception around here. For the most part, farming folk were very polite. I knew most of the occupants of the houses on the outskirts of town. Molly Polglaise had lost her husband of forty-five years only a few weeks back; her granddaughter had moved in for a month or so as consolation company. The smell of her freshly trimmed macrocarpa hedge reminded me of Christmas. The Mayberry household had a new baby. John, who was out watering the garden, gave me an absentminded wave as I passed. Considering it had rained the day before, I wasn’t quite sure why he was bothering.

Mataura was quintessential small-town New Zealand, although if I was being honest, it was a slightly shabbier and more run-down version of it. Like most towns, it struggled to provide employment
and ways to entice the young folk to stay. How could it compete with the excitement of the city? It had a smattering of pubs, stores – mostly empty – and churches: the main ingredients for life in the sticks, although the pubs saw a lot more patronage than the churches.  I knew the area intimately, and its residents. That included Lockie Knowes, though I hadn’t had more than a passing conversation with
him for an age. The fact I’d avoided him probably had something to do with that. Since he’d married the city girl and settled down to do the family thing, I’d pretty much sidestepped any contact – an achievement in itself, given the size of the town and my job. Now it looked like a good dose of professional detachment would be required. I would have to ignore the tightness in my stomach.

I slowed up the pace only when I reached the gateway to my house and its slightly skewiff letter box. Running was my vice – freedom of the road, isolation, being able to tune out everything but the rhythmic rush of blood pumping and powerful breathing. A legal high. 

Bugger the telephone.

#BlogTour Death Rope – Leigh Russell

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Can Geraldine catch the killer or has the killer caught her? 

Mark Abbott is dead. His sister refuses to believe it was suicide, but only Detective Sergeant Geraldine Steel will listen.

When other members of Mark’s family disappear, Geraldine’s suspicions are confirmed.

Taking a risk, Geraldine finds herself confronted by an adversary deadlier than any she has faced before… Her boss Ian is close, but will he arrive in time to save her, or is this the end for Geraldine Steel?

While my colleagues were cheering on Tiger “Woods” in The Open, I found myself addicted, as always, to reading the latest Geraldine “Steel”. Putting a new spin on an long serving character, Russell has moved Steel from London to York, demoted her and made her former sergeant her new boss, an interesting change in their dynamic.  With all these changes I was wondering how this book would pan out, but as usual all thoughts of whether it would be another winner were soon banished once the book was begun.

Once again Leigh Russell has proven why her books consistently enter the charts on Amazon, and every other book seller out there,with a great plot that keeps you guessing right until the very end, some subtle subplots, brilliant characters both old and new and as ever a completely gripping read.

I would just say one thing, if you’ve not read a Geraldine Steel book before, don’t start here. Go right back to the beginning and work your way through. Geraldine and Ian have been through a lot together and knowing their history shows off this change in their friendship/working relationship all the more.