#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.

#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.

#blogtour Stench by AB Morgan

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Rory Norton didn’t always make his living as a motorbike instructor and he went to great lengths to leave his past life behind, to start again.

He thought he had succeeded, until the body of a missing woman is discovered under the floor of his cottage. Only then do the guilt and shame of his wife’s mysterious, untimely death and the accusations about his connection to the missing woman combine to break him.

The question is not how the missing woman died but why, and who is responsible?

Sometimes the truth stinks.

Starting literally with a bad smell, alone with suspected rats, a dead body, and Rory’s odd behaviour, Stench has a great opening which launches you straight into a story that ‘reeks’ of mystery.

The story unravels through Rory and Anna, as we discover the truth behind their lives, and deaths. It’s a gripping tale that you will want to rip through, but I suggest taking your time, as the character of Anna needs some careful thought and understanding, due to the problems she faces with her mental health.  It is in this character that once more Morgan’s previous life within the NHS really comes to the fore, creating a truly troubled soul.

I recommend this one as a great book club read, as I’m certain that Anna’s behaviour and that of those around her will make for an interesting discussion.

 

 

Married to an overgrown child with a beard and too many motorbikes, Alison Morgan lives in a corner of a field in North Bedfordshire and is making the most of a mid-life crisis. The Morgans are determined not to grow old gracefully or to be seen wearing beige and can be found exploring life through a love of live music, anything with an engine, the sea, mountains, rugby, proper pubs and fascinating people.

Alison worked for the NHS for nearly thirty years, twenty of those within mental health services, at the front line. She eventually became the manager of a countywide community service for people experiencing their first episode of psychosis. Much to her frustration, her heart decided to develop an electrical fault, which forced her to sit down for more than five minutes and her career juddered to a halt. Not one for thumb twiddling, she took up position in front of a computer with a plan to write a set of clinical guidelines for assessment of psychosis but instead a story, which had been lurking in her mind for several years, came tumbling out.

Her first two novels, A Justifiable Madness and Divine Poison, were inspired by her career as a psychiatric nurse and her fascination with the extremes of human behaviour. Then she stepped sideways and wrote a gritty psychological thriller, The Camera Lies. All published by Bloodhound Books, Alison’s novels have received excellent reviews and inspired many an interesting debate. Above all, they are entertaining reads and, despite dark subjects, will raise a smile.

#blogtour Don’t You Dare by A J Waines

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What if your daughter becomes your enemy?

When barmaid, Rachel, discovers her soon-to-be-married daughter, Beth,​ pinned down by a stranger in the pub cellar, Rachel lashes out in panic and the intruder ends up dead. In desperation, Rachel convinces Beth they should cover up the crime and go ahead with the planned wedding in one month’s time.

Rachel, however, has her own reasons for not involving the police.

Hiding their dreadful secret is harder than they both imagined and as the big day approaches and the lies multiply, Beth becomes a liability. Rachel looks on in dismay at the hen party​ ​when, after too many drinks, Beth declares she’s about to make a special announcement. But before Beth can say a word, she disappears…

When two people share a chilling secret, can both hold their nerve?

 

Adeptly written and addictive, Don’t You Dare is a clever look on the relationship between a mother and her daughter in the wake of a mistaken, and deadly act that binds them together in its secrecy, whilst tearing them apart in its weight.

Rachel and Beth are the kind of characters that you will like and support, whilst at the same time disliking them too.  It makes for a great read as you go through the love/hate with them both and any book that emotionally connects you to it in that way is a sure fire winner for me.

Intense and twisty, you won’t see what’s coming and I guarantee you will be more than eager to find out, the deeper you get in, the faster you want to get out because you won’t be able to help yourself.

#Blogtour Fault Lines by Doug Johnstone

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In a reimagined contemporary Edinburgh, in which a tectonic fault has opened up to produce a new volcano in the Firth of Forth, and where tremors are an everyday occurrence, volcanologist Surtsey makes a shocking discovery.

On a clandestine trip to The Inch – the new volcanic island – to meet Tom, her lover and her boss, she finds his lifeless body, and makes the fatal decision to keep their affair, and her discovery of his corpse secret.

Desperate to know how he died, but also terrified she’ll be exposed, Surtsey s life quickly spirals into a nightmare when someone makes contact – someone who claims to know what she’s done…

I’ve read quite a lot of Doug’s previous novels, which I have enjoyed, but this one had me a tad nervous, with it’s ‘re-imagining’ of Edinburgh, but I need not have worried.  I found it far easier than I believed it would be to envisage the setting, but Johnstone’s writing made it simple for me.

Faultlines is a slow burn novel, written tightly.  There is no single piece of ‘filler’ in there at all, every word moves the narrative along brilliantly,  which is a bigger challenge than you might think.  This style meant that it only took me a handful of hours to read with only time for sipping a drink to move my eyes away from my Kindle screen.

Definitely not one to read on your bus / train journey as you’ll likely miss your stop.

 

 

 

 

#Blogtour The Adulterer’s Wife by Leigh Russell

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Julie is devastated to learn that her husband, Paul, is having an affair. It seems her life can’t get any worse – until she comes home to find his dead body in their bed.

When the police establish he was murdered, Julie is the obvious suspect.

To protect her son from the terrible situation, Julie sends the teenage boy to his grandparents in Edinburgh while she fights to prove her innocence.

With all the evidence pointing to her, the only way she can escape conviction is by discovering the true identity of her husband’s killer.

But who really did murder Paul?

The truth is never straightforward…

The Adulterer’s Wife, is Leigh Russell’s first foray into psychological thrillers amid an extremely successful career of writing police procedurals.  This is just one of the reasons why I was excited to read this book, I’ve read many authors over long periods of time and I find it thrilling when any choose to move away from their ‘norm’ and embrace a new challenge.

This book is such a thing and it was fabulous, I slipped into the story easily, comfortable in the knowledge of Leigh’s style and pace, but eager to discover this whole new ‘side’ to one of my favourite authors, and I wasn’t disappointed.

Julie’s flawed character might make you question yourself, would you make the decisions she made? Would you have behaved differently? You may think her actions questionable, but how would you react in a similar situation?  When a book makes me not only wonder the motivations of the character, but to also ask myself these sorts of questions as I’m reading, I consider that to be a winner.

It’s a definite one sitting read, and perfect for one of those lazy days by the pool, or sunbathing in the garden.  You won’t put it down until you are done.

My only lingering thought is that no matter how focused I was on the matters of the day, would I not truly realise my husband was dead?

 

 

 

#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.

#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.