#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.

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#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.

#Blogtour I Never Lie – Jody Sabral Guest Post

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Writers and Reviews

It’s an exciting time, publishing my first debut psychological thriller. Having found the agent, then the publisher, it’s now the books turn to find its readers and that is both thrilling yet terrifying at the same time. The early reviews are starting to flood in. Upwards of sixty people secured a copy via NetGalley – a website where avid readers of books are encouraged to read and review pre-publishing date.

Like any new author, I obsessively and secretively checked the review page daily as it started to make waves to see if I’d pulled it off or not. The sheer joy of reading a brilliantly positive review is something one cannot put into words, says the writer who should be able to put absolutely anything into words! It’s a real moment that makes you feel it was all worth it. It took two years to write this book and it was devoured in two sittings. There’s oddly something satisfying in that.

Then came the first negative review. I won’t lie. It stung. It’s not easy to take that kind of criticism when you’ve labored over it for hundreds of hours, putting your all into it. Having tried your best to make an entire world out of just words. I found myself Googling ‘how to cope with bad reviews.’ And to my delight I found a best-selling author saying she felt exactly the same way, but that in all honesty there is always someone who doesn’t like it and instead of just passing on writing a review they have to have their say. The more people who read it, the more negative reviews there will inevitably be, but on the upside and to my relief the good reviews outnumber the bad.

As the reviews started to stack up I came to realise that in actual fact the negative reviews were just as helpful as the positives. I started to see a pattern in the criticism, which has ultimately informed me on aspects of my writing and story telling which I can improve on. I’m a work in progress as are all writers. I think we like the constant challenge of personal development. Of constructing and deconstructing our thoughts. So I decided to see the positives in those negatives and turn that into an opportunity for growth as a writer. So this is a personal thank you to all who have commented on the book. I deeply appreciate it.

Alex South, my protagonist isn’t for everyone. She is a tricky customer. And as most readers have commented her character is the driving force in the book unlike most thrillers. One review I read the day before publication really summed up what I tried to do with Alex. “I’m not sure if it was intentional, but I thought this carefully crafted novel sent out a powerful message about the dangers of alcoholism. A mix of excitement and nerve-wracking! There was humour, four dead bodies and loads of suspects. It’s a food-for-thought novel.”

A food-for-thought novel. Yes, I wanted I NEVER LIE to kick-start a positive conversation around alcoholism in this country having lost a friend to the bottle, but obviously I wanted it to entertain too. It is a tricky combination to get right. I have always felt that art and literature have the power to transform society unlike the other business I’m in, the news business, which in my opinion is often more to do with keeping power accountable. I still remember scenes I read in novels fifteen years ago that touched me and shaped my grown up self.

You will be in utter despair with Alex, frustrated by the voice in her head, and often sad for her, but ultimately she is just flawed, living in a constant state of denial. We track how that can create all kinds of problems. It’s her character that drives the plot, which is characteristic of my writing. Whatever you make of her, please do leave a review good or bad for it is in these moments of commentary I find a new sense of development as a writer, which hopefully shall help shape my future writing!

Is she the next victim? Or is she the culprit…?

Alex South is a high-functioning alcoholic who is teetering on the brink of oblivion. Her career as a television journalist is hanging by a thread since a drunken on-air rant. When a series of murders occur within a couple of miles of her East London home she is given another chance to prove her skill and report the unfolding events. She thinks she can control the drinking, but soon she finds gaping holes in her memory, and wakes to find she’s done things she can’t recall. As the story she’s covering starts to creep into her own life, is Alex a danger only to herself – or to others?

Jody Sabral is based between the South Coast and London, where she works as a Foreign Desk editor and video producer at the BBC. She is a graduate of the MA in Crime Fiction at City University, London. Jody worked as a journalist in Turkey for ten years, covering the region for various international broadcasters. She self-published her first book Changing Borders in 2012 and won the CWA Debut Dagger in 2014 for her second novel The Movement. In addition to working for the BBC, Jody also writes for the Huffington Post, Al–Monitor and Brics Post.

#blogblitz Deception Wears Many Faces – Maggie James

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When Lyddie takes her sister to Devon to recover after a recent suicide attempt, it starts a train of events that will put their lives in grave danger.

Ellie has been the victim of a professional con artist, one who stole her savings, then disappeared from her life. Driven by her own history of failed relationships, Lyddie vows revenge on the man who broke her sister’s heart.

Soon she assumes a false identity and begins her hunt for a man she knows to be cold, calculating and ruthless. But who is fooling whom? And can Lyddie find the justice she seeks and heal her damaged sister?

 

A super quick read, with some sneaky surprises…

Late to the party again I grabbed this to read a couple of days ago, and was almost immediately left cursing myself that I hadn’t picked it up sooner.

It’s a remarkable easy read that soon sweeps you up in it’s momentum, as Lyddie puts to good use internet dating sites, and female forums in order to try and help her sister find the con man who broke her sisters heart and left her once more struggling with thoughts of suicide.

However we soon find out that many of the assumptions we’ve been led to make are well and truly false, as the twists come quickly, keeping you frantically flipping through the book desperate to know what will happen next.

Lyddie, is well written, in the way she deals with what is happening, trying to tackle things head on, and making the occasional mistake or assumption that makes things worse, it’s all a very real possibility in today’s world.

In my opinion it’s certainly one to get.

 

 

 

Before turning her hand to writing, Maggie worked mainly as an accountant, with a diversion into practising as a nutritional therapist. Diet and health remain high on her list of interests, along with travel. Accountancy does not, but then it never did. The urge to pack a bag and go off travelling is always lurking in the background! When not writing, going to the gym, practising yoga or travelling, Maggie can be found seeking new four-legged friends to pet; animals are a lifelong love!