Aria Fiction, Book Blog, Excerpt

Dead Girls Can’t Lie @tiny_dancer85 @Aria_Fiction #Extract

Jones_Carys

Carys Jones loves nothing more than to write and create stories which ignite the reader’s imagination. Based in Shropshire, England, Carys lives with her husband, two guinea pigs and her adored canine companion Rollo.

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Book Jacket

Best friends tell each other the truth – don’t they?

When North Stone’s best friend Kelly Orton is found hanging lifeless in a tree, North knows for certain it wasn’t suicide. Kelly had everything to live for – a loving boyfriend, a happy life, and most importantly of all, Kelly would never leave North all by herself.

The girls have been friends since childhood, devoted to each other, soul sisters, or at least that’s what North has always believed. But did Kelly feel the same way, or was she keeping secrets from her ‘best friend’ – deadly secrets…

When the police refuse to take North’s suspicions seriously, she sets out to investigate for herself. But her search soon takes her to a glamorous world with a seedy underbelly, and before long North is out of her depth and getting ever closer to danger. Determined to find the truth, she soon wishes that dead girls could lie, because the truth is too painful to believe…

Extract

Kelly didn’t kill herself.

The message arrived shortly after midnight when North was caught somewhere between sleep and surrender. Blurry-eyed she stared at her phone, at the cryptic message from an unknown sender.

‘I know,’ she whispered to the device as she lay on her sofa, bathed in the glow from her television which was on its second run through of Dark Crystal. ‘I know she’d never leave me.’

By dawn North was completely awake and the message was gone, wiped from her phone as though it were the fragment of a dream. But North didn’t care. It had given her the impetus she needed to get out of her flat and prove the point which had been gnawing at her since her best friend’s demise. She wasn’t alone in her conviction. That was all that mattered.

‘North Stone. That your name?’

‘Yes,’ North tightened her fingers which were clenched around her hands. It was cold in the interview room. Colder than she’d expected.

‘North. That’s an… interesting name.’

With a sigh she braced herself for the inevitable volley of questions which would now be flung back and forth across the table.

Why North?

Why did your parents call you that?

Where are your parents?

The conclusion to such questions was always the same; North was strange. Everyone in their small South Downs town knew it. Everyone except Kelly. And she was the reason that North was even here. They were supposed to be talking about her.

‘My parents were mega into stargazing. I know, I know, I work in the local observatory the irony of which isn’t lost on me. Yes they were lost at sea during a romantic adventure on board a yacht. No I don’t expect them to ever return. It’s been eighteen years, I’m pretty sure they’re gone.’

The police officer’s silver eyebrows dropped into a flat, sympathetic line. He was obviously old enough to know the notorious story of what happened to the Stones. He was asking about her name to be polite. Kind even. And North did not have time for either placation. She was here on urgent business.

‘Look,’ North unclasped her hands and lay them flat on the table as though she were showing her cards in a high stakes poker game. ‘You’re wrong about Kelly Orton. She would never kill herself.’

‘Miss Stone—’

The officer hung a little too heavily on the Miss for North’s liking.

‘And on a jogging trail? Absolutely not! No way! For starters, Kelly never went jogging. Like, ever. We’re both allergic to anything that makes you sweat. Seriously, Officer…’ she lifted her ashen eyes to meet his.

‘Childs,’ he stiffly informed her.

‘Officer Childs. You’re wrong about Kelly. You guys shouldn’t be ruling this as a suicide you should be launching a murder investigation.’

With a sigh, Officer Childs stood up, letting his chair grate noisily against the tiled floors. He walked over to the door to the interview room and opened it with one fluid motion, extending his body out into the hallway. ‘Angie, can you get in here?’

A moment later he was joined by another officer, a woman with bright red hair which stopped suddenly at her shoulders. Her mouth lifted into a pitying smile the second she saw North hunched on the other side of the table.

The air in the little room managed to hold the years’ old stench of stale cigarettes and coffee. A single strip light across the ceiling bathed everyone who sat in there in an unflattering light. Kelly would have hated it. She’d have tossed her golden hair over her shoulders and refused to sit in such a room. North twisted uncomfortably on her plastic chair.

‘I’ll handle this,’ Angie whispered to Officer Childs who eagerly left as she slid into his vacated seat. ‘So, Miss Stone.’ Her tone was clipped and formal. She reminded North of some of her more competent teachers during her time at Millwater Secondary. But thinking about school made her think of the Kelly from the past and she couldn’t do that. Not yet. Not when there were so many questions about the present left unanswered.

‘As I was telling your colleague,’ North adjusted herself to match the female officer in stature. Though she was much shorter than Angie, she could still push her shoulders back and lift her chin. She wanted to look confident. Especially when everyone was treating her like she was broken. ‘Kelly Orton did not kill herself. It’s impossible. Someone put her there. Someone killed her. This is a murder case.’

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Book Blog, Excerpt, Sandstone Press

A Message From The Other Side @moira_forsyth @sandstonepress #Extract

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Book Jacket 

When Catherine moves several hundred miles away from her sister, Helen says, ‘Phone calls aren’t enough’, but they make it easier to edit the truth. Helen can dismiss Gilbert and his enchanted Factory as ‘weird’ when she’s never met him, and Catherine think Helen foolish for loving the unreliable and dangerous Joe. Neither sees the perils concealed in what they have not told each other, or guesses at the sinister connection between their separate lives. A Message from the Other Side is a novel about love and marriage, but even more about hatred and the damage people do to each other in the most ordinary of families.

Moira Forsyth 

Moira Forsyth grew up in Aberdeen, lived in England for nearly twenty years, and is now in the Highlands. She is the author of four previous novels and many short stories and poems published in anthologies and magazines. Waiting for Lindsay and David’s Sisters, originally published by Sceptre, are now available as e-books from Sandstone Press, which also published Tell Me Where You Are in 2010 and The Treacle Well, in 2015.

 

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A MESSAGE FROM THE OTHER SIDE – MOIRA FORSYTH

Catherine has just moved to the Highlands, and at a party given by her friend Hugh, she meets Kenneth Sinclair. He’s too sure of himself, she thinks, but despite herself is attracted, while finding him very different from his brother Gil, whom she’s already met. She agrees to give him a lift home as he’s been drinking, and she has not.

When she found him again, Kenneth was with two women and George Macallum. George was flushed and ribald, one of the women in the circle of his arm, leaning on him. The other woman was focused on Kenneth.

‘Do you want to stay a bit longer?’ Catherine said it so coolly, he raised his eyebrows. Then, abruptly, he seemed to make up his mind.

‘Let’s go,’ he said, turning, his hand under her elbow. ‘Night all.’

Her car was nose to tail with two others. Damn, she thought, and must have muttered it aloud, for Kenneth said, ‘I’ll guide you out.’

She did not want to rely on this, given how much he must have had to drink, but he was competent, and saw her safely onto the drive. He got in.

‘Thanks for this,’ he said.

‘What about your own car?’

‘Somebody from the works will pick me up in the morning and take me through later to get it.’

‘The works?’

‘The business. Where I work.’

‘Someone told me you’re an engineer. Who do you work for?’

‘Myself,’ he said.

‘Oh.’ Glancing sideways, she saw him afresh, a man with employees, responsibility, even power.

‘We usually subcontract, he added. ‘For the bigger boys.’

Not having any idea what this meant, or who the ‘bigger boys’ might be, Catherine drove out onto the main road, not answering.

‘Anyway,’ he said, sounding bored, ‘work. No need to talk about that.’

The road was empty so late at night, the sky pale violet, a full moon translucent and high.

‘How late the light stays here, when the summer begins,’ Catherine said.

‘You’re from the south of England?’

‘Hertfordshire – but London for years now. What about you – you’re a Highlander?’

‘Yes. But I graduated at Aberdeen, and worked down south for ten years. Then came back – gave in, you could say, and joined the family firm.’

Before he could ask her another question, she said, ‘You and Gilbert – you’re not at all alike.’

He laughed. ‘That’s the understatement of the year!’

When they reached his village, she slowed. ‘You’d better give me directions.’

Up a steep hill they drove past Victorian houses with long driveways, half hidden by trees as old as they were. He must have money, she thought, living here. After this there were fields on both sides, then on the crest, several modern houses, looking raw and barely finished, but large, on substantial plots of land.

‘It’s the one furthest along on the left,’ Kenneth said. Only the moon lit the sky now and she could not see the house, only that there was a veranda in front and huge windows. The house was split level, garage and basement below the level of the approach, built into the side of the hill.

‘You must have a wonderful view,’ Catherine said. Below, the fields had vanished in darkness but she had a sense of open space facing the house, with perhaps fields or hills rising on the far side of the distant road.

The engine was running softly. Kenneth leaned over and turned the key. Silence. Something shot through her like electricity, his hand on her knee briefly, his voice that she was to come to know too well. ‘Come in and see it,’ he said. ‘It’s a bit basic yet – I only took possession a week ago.’ He unbuckled his seat belt and opened his door. ‘You’re right about the view. You’ll have to come back and see it in daylight.’

She felt reckless as she got out of the car. The air was soft and cool on her face. Kenneth went up two steps onto the veranda and opened the double front doors.

Inside, he switched on lights. The hall was large and square, floored in oak. The smells of new paint and new wood permeated; everything was fresh and unused. She followed him into one room after another, each leading to the next, open half-empty spaces waiting for furniture, curtains, rugs, to make them seem like someone’s home. Even now, beneath bare electric bulbs, she sensed how much natural light would wash through the house.

‘It’s beautiful,’ she said.

‘It’s my present to myself.’ They were in the kitchen, a long room running the depth of the house on one side, probably overlooking the backs of the old houses, muffled with mature trees. She guessed the living rooms at the front would have the best view.

Water drummed in the kettle. ‘Sorry,’ he said, ‘there’s nowhere to sit – my table and chairs arrive next week. We’ll take this through to the front room.’

‘Could I have tea?’ Catherine asked, forestalling him with the cafetière. ‘I won’t sleep if I have coffee this late.’

‘I won’t sleep anyway.’ He grinned at her. ‘I can’t get used to being here. But I’ll have tea too.’

When they were seated at either end of the long leather sofa in the room at the front, Catherine asked:

‘What did you mean, the house is a present to yourself?’

‘It’s a place of my own again.’ He shrugged. ‘My marriage broke up two years ago. I was living in a cottage that belonged to my folks, my grandfather’s place. Then Gil turned up after being in London for about five years, so I went back to the family home, just west of here, to let him have the cottage. It wasn’t a great arrangement, but better than letting Gil live with my parents. ‘

‘You couldn’t have shared the cottage with him?’ She knew the answer to that already. ‘I couldn’t live with my sister,’ she went on. ‘I mean, I love her, but—’

‘We don’t automatically love people who happen to be in the same family.’

‘Well, usually…’ She hesitated. ‘It’s the shared history, isn’t it, belonging together?’

‘Not in our case.’

She thought he was probably the one difficult to live with. ‘I’d better go.’

He watched her for a moment. Embarrassed, she got up.

He rose too and held out his hand for the mug. ‘Let me take that.’

‘Thank you. And thank you for showing me your beautiful house.’

‘You haven’t been upstairs yet.’

‘No.’

‘Another time?’

Was he teasing her?

At the door, the outside light came on, illuminating the veranda, some scrubby bushes, and her car in the broad turning area, still unsurfaced. It lit up their faces too, as she turned to say goodbye. He was not smiling, but there was an amusement in his expression she did not trust.

He went on standing there as she drove away. In her rear mirror, her last glimpse outlined him in the doorway, a dark figure.

To have a house like that, she thought, I begin to see what Helen means. Though for Helen they must have draughty bedrooms and original fireplaces and cornices you can’t dust.

She kept her mind on the house, all the way back to her own, dissatisfied now and restless. She had hardly drunk the tea, but would not sleep anyway.

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Book Blog, Excerpt, No Exit

The Unquiet Dead @AusmaZehanat ‏@noexitpress #Excerpt

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Hello Lovelies,

Today on the blog I have a wee spot on The Unquiet Dead tour. Published by No Exit Press and written by Ausma Zehanat Khan. For my turn, I have a sneak peek for you to indulge in. Enjoy,

Kelly xoxo

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Book Jacket 

One man is dead.

But thousands were his victims.

Can a single murder avenge that of many?

Scarborough Bluffs, Toronto: the body of Christopher Drayton is found at the foot of the cliffs. Muslim Detective Esa Khattak, head of the Community Policing Unit, and his partner Rachel Getty are called in to investigate. As the secrets of Drayton s role in the 1995 Srebrenica genocide of Bosnian Muslims surface, the harrowing significance of his death makes it difficult to remain objective. In a community haunted by the atrocities of war, anyone could be a suspect. And when a victim is a man with so many deaths to his name, could it be that justice has at long last been served?

In this important debut novel, Ausma Zehanat Khan has written a compelling and provocative mystery exploring the complexities of identity, loss, and redemption.

Sneak Peek 

Under a big pear tree there was a heap of between ten and
twelve bodies. It was difficult to count them because they
were covered over with earth, but heads and hands were
sticking out of the little mound.
There’s never any joy
.
Khattak’s phone rang, a temporary reprieve from questions
he could no longer ignore. He didn’t believe the truth would set
him free. The truth in this case was a trap. One he had willingly
entered, on the word of an old friend. Because friendship was
more than a source of comfort, or a place of belonging. It was a
responsibility. One that Nate had failed. He wouldn’t fail Tom
in turn.
That’s not the only reason, Esa, you know that. You’re not detached,
pretend as you must. This is about identity. Yours. And his.
The phone call corroborated his fears. He’d told Rachel not to
use up resources, not to widen the circle, but he’d sent a picture
of the gun to Gaffney. And now Gaff had told him what some
still resistant part of himself didn’t want to know.
‘Bring those with you. You said you were hungry,’ he said to
Rachel.
‘Sir –’
It wasn’t an evasion. He had never meant to keep her in the
dark this long.
‘I’ll answer your questions while we eat.’
And Rachel, ever loyal when she should have been screaming
at him, bagged the evidence without a word and followed him
to the car.
Evidence? What evidence? A man fell to his death.
If he kept repeating it to himself, it might prove true.
He chose a restaurant near the marina, familiar to him
through colleagues at 43 Division. And through Nate. He and
Nate had eaten here all the time. The food was good, the views
abundant.
His salad arrived swiftly along with Rachel’s grilled chicken
sandwich.
She tossed the bag of letters beside his plate.
‘Talk,’ she said.
Glad of the excuse not to meet her eyes, he turned his attention
to the bag. A disjointed phrase slipped toward his salad.
Not one of our leaders remain. No one returned from Omarska.
Rachel was already putting pieces together.
‘Who called you from Justice, sir? Who asked you to find out
if Christopher Drayton really fell from the Bluffs?’
His salad tasted dry in his mouth. This was Rachel. This
was going to be a nightmare for every branch of government
involved, but Rachel he trusted. She had more than proven her
loyalty in Waverley, but it wasn’t loyalty alone that had shown
him her real worth. Rachel had a dogged commitment to the
truth that outstripped her pride and ambition alike.
‘Tom Paley,’ he said at last. ‘He’s a friend.’ There was no point
delaying the truth further. ‘He’s also the Chief War Crimes
Historian at Justice.’

Rachel’s mouth fell open, disclosing an impressive amount of
chewed-up chicken.
She was bound to know Paley’s name. Every now and again,
his Nazi-hunting endeavors surfaced in the press.
She swallowed with difficulty, setting down her sandwich so
she could count off her fingers. ‘The map Drayton marked. It
was of Yugoslavia. The code to the safe – it was Drina, like the
river on the eastern border.’
‘Like the Drina Corps,’ Khattak amended. ‘Like the gun. It’s a
Tokarev variant, the M70 model. Standard issue for the Yugoslav
National Army – or the JNA, as it was known.’
‘What are you saying, sir? That Drayton owned a Yugoslav
army weapon? Where would he have gotten it?’
‘Not Drayton.’ Khattak looked at her steadily. ‘Dražen Krstić.’
She stared back unblinking.
‘Lieutenant Colonel Dražen Krstić was the Chief of Security
of the Drina Corps of the VRS in 1995. He was General
Radislav Krstić’s direct subordinate. He was a superior officer
to the security organs of the Drina Corps brigades. He also
had a unique relationship with the Military Police and the 10th
Sabotage Detachment of the Main Staff.’
‘Hold up,’ Rachel said. ‘I’m lost. Main staff of what?’
‘The VRS.’ He folded his hands to cover the letters. ‘The
Bosnian Serb Army.’
There was a deadly little pause. It had never bothered Rachel
that Khattak was a decade older than she, but she could see
now that it had its disadvantages. He spoke of a war he had
witnessed, whereas she had been a child during the dissolution
of Yugoslavia.
Memories of news coverage began to filter through. The
secession of a republic known as Bosnia Herzegovina. A UN
force on the ground. Shrill politicians. Hand-wringing. Yes,
there had been plenty of hand-wringing.
‘Did you say 1995?’ she whispered. He nodded, his expression
not quite impassive.
‘And the Drina Corps’s area of responsibility?’
‘It was Srebrenica.’
Srebrenica.
Now the dread had meaning.
So too the letters.
‘And Drayton?’
‘Tom thinks Drayton may have been Dražen Krstić.’
The notorious war criminal at large. One of the chief
perpetrators of the executions at Srebrenica, where eight
thousand Muslim boys and men had been murdered near the
endpoint of a war that had seen Yugoslavia dissolve into flames.
Eight thousand dead in less than a week.
Their hands tied, their bodies smashed, bulldozed into mass
graves in an attempt to obscure the war’s greatest slaughter. An
act commonly described as Europe’s greatest atrocity since the
Second World War.
Overlooking the rape, terror, and destruction that had
characterized the three long years before the culmination of so

much death.
Khattak could never hear the word Serb without thinking of
its dark twin, Srebrenica.
And he could not think of Srebrenica without remembering
his younger self, a self whose ideals and vocation were nearly
lost to him now. The younger self who had participated in a
student network against genocide, brave or foolish enough to
accompany a humanitarian aid shipment to the once exquisite
city of Sarajevo.
On Tuesday there will be no bread in Sarajevo.
He heard the cellist’s melody again: mournful, insistent,
accusing. It had sounded as a requiem in the streets of Sarajevo.
You failed us.
And then you watched us die.

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Book Blog, Excerpt, HQ Stories

Give Me The Child @mcgrathmj @HQstories #Excerpt

Hello Lovelies,
Thank you for stopping by, today I have my stop on the blog tour for Give Me the Child which was published on the 27, July 2017 by HQ Stories. On my stop, I have sneak peek for you. I do hope you enjoy. Kelly xoxo

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Book Jacket

An unexpected visitor.

Dr Cat Lupo aches for another child, despite the psychosis which marked her first pregnancy. So when Ruby Winter, a small girl in need of help, arrives in the middle of the night, it seems like fate.

A devastating secret.

But as the events behind Ruby’s arrival emerge – her mother’s death, her connection to Cat – Cat questions whether her decision to help Ruby has put her own daughter at risk.

Do we get the children we deserve?

Cat’s research tells her there’s no such thing as evil. Her history tells her she’s paranoid. But her instincts tell her different. And as the police fight to control a sudden spate of riots raging across the capital, Cat faces a race against time of her own…

Compulsive, dark and devastating, Give Me the Child is a uniquely skilful thriller with an unforgettable twist.

Sneak Peek

CHAPTER ONE

My first thought when the doorbell woke me was that someone had died. Most likely Michael Walsh. I turned onto my side, pulled at the outer corners of my eyes to rid them of the residue of sleep and blinked myself awake. It was impossible to tell if it was late or early, though the bedroom was as hot and muggy as it had been when Tom and I had gone to bed. Tom was no longer beside me. Now I was alone. We’d started drinking not long after Freya had gone upstairs. The remains of a bottle of Pinot Grigio for me, a glass or two of red for Tom. (He always said white wine was for women.) Just before nine I called The Mandarin Hut. When the crispy duck arrived I laid out two trays in the living room, opened another bottle and called Tom in from the study. I hadn’t pulled the curtains and through the pink light of the London night sky a cat’s claw of moon appeared. The two of us ate, mostly in silence, in front of the TV. A ballroom dance show came on. Maybe it was just the booze but something about the tight-muscled men and the frou-frou’d women made me feel a little sad. The cosmic dance. The grand romantic gesture. At some point even the tight-muscled men and the frou-frou’d women would find themselves slumped together on a sofa with the remains of a takeaway and wine enough to sink their sorrows, wondering how they’d got there, wouldn’t they?

Not that Tom and I really had anything to complain about except, maybe, a little malaise, a kind of falling away. After all, weren’t we still able to laugh about stuff most of the time or, if we couldn’t laugh, at least have sex and change the mood?

‘Let’s go upstairs and I’ll show you my cha-cha,’ I said, rising and holding out a hand.

Tom chuckled and pretended I was joking, then, wiping his

palms along his thighs as if he were ridding them of something unpleasant, he said, ‘It’s just if I don’t crack this bloody coding thing…’

I looked out at the moon for a moment. OK, so I knew how much making a success of Labyrinth meant to Tom, and I’d got used to him shutting himself away in the two or three hours either side of midnight. But this one time, with the men and women still twirling in our minds? Just this one time?

Stupidly, I said, ‘Won’t it wait till tomorrow?’ and in an instant

I saw Tom stiffen. He paused for a beat and, slapping his hands on his thighs in a gesture of busyness, he slugged down the last of his wine, rose from the sofa and went to the door. And so we left it there with the question still hanging.

I spent the rest of the evening flipping through the case notes of patients I was due to see that week. When I turned in for the night, the light was still burning in Tom’s study. I murmured ‘goodnight’ and went upstairs to check on Freya. Our daughter was suspended somewhere between dreaming and deep sleep. All children look miraculous when they’re asleep, even the frighten- ing, otherworldly ones I encounter every day. Their bodies soften, their small fists unfurl and dreams play behind their eyelids. But Freya looked miraculous all the time to me. Because she was. A miracle made at the boundary where human desire meets science. I stood and watched her for a while, then, retrieving her beloved

Pippi Longstocking book from the floor and straightening her duvet, I crept from the room and went to bed.

Sometime later I felt Tom’s chest pressing against me and his breath on the nape of my neck. He was already aroused and for a minute I wondered what else he’d been doing on screen besides coding, then shrugged off the thought. A drowsy, half-hearted bout of lovemaking followed before we drifted into our respective oblivions. Next thing I knew the doorbell was ringing and I was alone.

Under the bathroom door a beam of light blazed. I threw off the sheet and swung from the bed.

‘Tom?’

No response. My mind was scrambled with sleep and an anxious pulse was rising to the surface. I called out again.

There was a crumpling sound followed by some noisy vomiting but it was identifiably my husband. The knot in my throat loosened. I went over to the bathroom door, knocked and let myself in. Tom was hunched over the toilet and there was a violent smell in the room.

‘Someone’s at the door.’ Tom’s head swung round.

I said, ‘You think it might be about Michael?’

Tom’s father, Michael Walsh, was a coronary waiting to happen, a lifelong bon vivant in the post-sixty-five-year-old death zone, who’d taken the recent demise of his appalling wife pretty badly.

Tom stood up, wiped his hand across his mouth and moved over to the sink. ‘Nah, probably just some pisshead.’ He turned on the tap and sucked at the water in his hand and, in an oddly casual tone, he added, ‘Ignore it.’

As I retreated into the bedroom, the bell rang again. Whoever it was, they weren’t about to go away. I went over to the window and eased open the curtain. The street was still and empty of people, and the first blank glimmer was in the sky. Directly below the house a patrol car was double parked, hazard lights still on but otherwise dark. For a second my mind filled with the terrible possibility that something had happened to Sally. Then I checked myself. More likely someone had reported a burglary or a prowler in the neighbourhood. Worst case it was Michael.

‘It’s the police,’ I said.

Tom appeared and, lifting the sash, craned out of the window. ‘I’ll go, you stay here.’

I watched him throw on his robe over his boxers and noticed his hands were trembling. Was that from having been sick or was he, too, thinking about Michael now? I listened to his footsteps disappearing down the stairs and took my summer cover-up from its hook. A moment later, the front door swung open and there came the low murmur of three voices, Tom’s and those of two women. I froze on the threshold of the landing and held my breath, waiting for Tom to call me down, and when, after a few minutes, he still hadn’t, I felt myself relax a little. My parents were dead. If this was about Sally, Tom would have fetched me by now. It was bound to be Michael. Poor Michael.

I went out onto the landing and tiptoed over to Freya’s room. Tom often said I was overprotective, and maybe I was, but I’d seen enough mayhem and weirdness at work to give me pause. I pushed open the door and peered in. A breeze stirred from the open window. The hamster Freya had brought back from school for the holidays was making the rounds on his wheel but in the aura cast by the Frozen-themed nightlight I could see my tender little girl’s face closed in sleep. Freya had been too young to remember my parents and Michael had always been sweet to her in a way that his wife, who called her ‘my little brown granddaughter’, never was, but it was better this happened now, in the summer holidays, so she’d have time to recover before the pressures of school started up again. We’d tell her in the morning once we’d had time to formulate the right words.

At the top of the landing I paused, leaning over the bannister. A woman in police uniform stood in the glare of the security light. Thirties, with fierce glasses and a military bearing. Beside her was another woman in jeans and a shapeless sweater, her features hidden from me. The policewoman’s face was brisk but unsmiling; the other woman was dishevelled, as though she had been called from her bed. Between them I glimpsed the auburn top of what I presumed was a child’s head – a girl, judging from the amount of hair. I held back, unsure what to do, hoping they’d realise they were at the wrong door and go away. I could see the police officer’s mouth moving without being able to hear what was being said. The conversation went on and after a few moments Tom stood to one side and the two women and the child stepped out of the shadows of the porch and into the light of the hallway.

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The Shogun’s Queen By @LesleyDowner @TransworldBooks #Excerpt

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Today I have my spot on The Shogun’s Queen #blogtour. Lesley Downer has given me the perfect excerpt for you all to read.  Enjoy, Kelly xoxo

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Book Jacket 

The year is 1853, and a young Japanese girl’s world is about to be turned upside down.

When black ships carrying barbarians arrive on the shores of Japan, the Satsuma clan’s way of life is threatened. But it’s not just the samurai who must come together to fight: the beautiful, headstrong Okatsu is also given a new destiny by her feudal lord – to save the realm.

Armed only with a new name, Princess Atsu, as she is now known, journeys to the women’s palace of Edo Castle, a place so secret it cannot be marked on any map. Behind the palace’s immaculate façade, amid rumours of murder and whispers of ghosts, Atsu must uncover the secret of the man whose fate, it seems, is irrevocably linked to hers – the shogun himself – if she is to rescue her people

The Shogun’s Queen ~ Sneak Peek ~ Excerpt 

PART I  THE BARBARIANS ARRIVE

Chapter 1  Okatsu

Twenty third day of the sixth month, Year of the Ox, Kaei 6, a yin water year (July 28th 1853):  Ibusuki, in the Satsuma domain

Ibusuki was a beautiful place, a land of gold and sunshine where the sky and ocean were perpetually blue.  It was a spa town, famous for its health-giving waters, where people came to be buried in the steaming black mineral sands along the beach.  Whenever the wind changed the pungent rotten-egg smell of sulphur wafted through the streets.  Cranes swooped, birds twittered, monkeys roamed the flower-clad hills, palm trees swayed and the purple cone of Mount Kaimon, more perfect than Mount Fuji, rose misty on the horizon.  

The governor of Ibusuki, Tadataké Shimazu, was a minor lord, not important or rich enough to be entitled to a castle, but he had a large and splendid mansion set in expansive grounds which dominated the samurai section of town.  Here one hot summer’s morning his daughter Okatsu knelt gazing out at the gardens, drumming her fingers on the tatami.  

Two and half years had passed since that memorable night when Okatsu visited Crane Castle.  She was seventeen now, tall and long-limbed.  She was not a classic beauty.  Her skin was white, white as porcelain, but her face was oval rather than melon-seed-shaped and she didn’t have the long jaw and bland expression of the beauties in the woodblock prints.  Her nose was a little too pronounced, her mouth full, almost sensual, more suited to a geisha than a lord’s daughter, and her sparkling black eyes were unusually large and expressive.  

The strangest thing of all was that she was still unwed.  Most of her childhood friends had married at fourteen or fifteen and moved in with their husbands’ families.  She met them in the street from time to time, babies proudly tied to their backs.  Her oldest brother too had taken a young bride who’d recently moved into the house.  But Okatsu still had unblackened teeth and unshaved eyebrows and wore girlish kimonos with long fluttering sleeves.  If her parents waited much longer to arrange a marriage for her, she thought, she would turn into that most pitiable of creatures, an old maid.  She snapped her fan open and started to whisk.  The scent of sandalwood mingled with the smell of leaves and flowers and moist earth and the faint perfume of her blue and white cotton yukata.  

A bell rang out, sounding the fourth hour.  The rain doors that formed the outer walls and the gilded screens that divided the rooms had all been taken out, turning the mansion into one vast airy pavilion.  She shuffled impatiently and glanced across the open rooms to where the servants swept and dusted on the far side of the house and the cooks prepared a meal in the kitchens.  No one was paying any attention to her.  If she was careful she’d be able to slip out.

Haru was kneeling beside her, sewing placidly.  She had been Okatsu’s maid since childhood and was her accomplice in everything.  She gave an imperceptible nod.  She knew exactly what was on her mind.  

Okatsu rose to her feet and strolled languidly towards the front of the house, making believe she was going nowhere in particular.  She’d nearly reached the shadowy vestibule when a dainty figure came pattering across the tatami.  

‘Okatsu-san!’  

Okatsu gave a guilty start.  It was Wife Number Three, one of her father’s concubines, a perfectly-coiffed geisha with a brisk down-to-earth manner.   ‘Going out, are you?’ asked Wife Number Three.  ‘It’s very hot out there, you know.’ Okatsu’s heart beat uncomfortably hard.  She knew exactly what Wife Number Three meant – that a clan lord’s daughter did not go out in public.  ‘I’m just going for a stroll,’ she replied.  ‘There’s a festival today.’ Wife Number Three looked her up and down through narrowed eyes.  ‘I was young myself once,’ she said with a smile.

As Okatsu stepped outside the wave of heat nearly knocked her off her feet.  Haru was at her heels, holding a parasol over her head.  A young girl of good family certainly couldn’t be out on her own.  

The street was packed with people – bent old women, swaggering young men with their hips thrust out and their sashes slung fashionably low, peddlers, flower sellers, geisha, burly workmen and a woman with a monkey clinging to her back.  Shouts filled the air and succulent aromas rose from roadside stalls where men with chequered headbands grilled up octopus and squid.  

Okatsu pushed her way through.  She glanced behind her one last time to make sure no one had followed her, then turned down a narrow lane just wide enough for one person to walk along.  Haru had slipped away discreetly, gone to wait at her aunt’s house.  

When she was out of sight of the crowds Okatsu picked up her skirts and ran.  Soon she had left them far behind.  She smelt sulphur and heard the crash of breakers, then scrambled up a ridge of black sand dotted with pines and palm trees and ran down the other side onto the beach.

The sea stretched blue in front of her, turning a deep shade of sapphire as it rippled towards the opposite shore of the bay.  Trees tangled in foliage tumbled almost to the water’s edge.  Seagulls shrieked and soared and a cormorant swooped with a flash of black feathers.

Okatsu kicked off her sandals, feeling the sand hot between her toes, and ran to the hidden cove she knew so well.  She was late.  He would be wondering where she was.

But the cove was empty.  There was no one there.  ‘Kaneshige-sama,’ she called.  Her voice echoed around the rocks.  ‘Hurry.  I don’t have much time.  I’ll have to go back soon.’ he gazed around at the little beach, the waves lapping on the shore.  They’d spent so much time here over the years. Kaneshige.  The salty smell, the roar of the surf, reminded her of how he used to tease her and chase her across the sand when they were little, and bring her seashells he’d found or strands of seaweed.  Even when they’d reached the age where boys and girls were no longer allowed to spend time together, they had found ways to meet.  They’d tell each other what they were doing and what they were studying.  Her hopes and dreams, her picture of the world, had grown larger than if she had just sat at home sewing, as girls were meant to do.

All these years that her parents had never arranged a marriage for her, she’d always clung to the secret hope that they might marry her to Kaneshige.  After all, their families were friends – though they both knew that that was not the way things worked.  In the end, they were just pawns.  Sooner or later they would be married off in political unions.
Kaneshige was still a good friend of her brother.  But no one could ever know about their secret meetings.  If anyone had found out they would have been in terrible trouble.  Her father might even have been ordered to kill her.  Time passed, the shadows moved.  She paced up and down in the shade, filled with foreboding.  It was unbearable not knowing where he was.  Supposing he never came?  Supposing his parents had found out about their meetings and forbidden him to leave? 

Then she heard the pad of footsteps and a slender figure appeared on the ridge.  For a moment he was silhouetted against the deep blue of the sky, the sun lighting his face, his robe tucked casually into his belt, his legs bare, his two swords glinting.  She jumped up, laughing joyfully.  

 

P1000534
Lesley Downer 

 

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The Housekeeper @SuellenDainty @midaspr #Excerpt

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Hello Lovelies,
Today on the blog I have an excerpt from The Housekeeper by Suellen Dainty. Do let me know what you think? Enjoy,

Kelly xoxo

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Book Jacket 

“I am the housekeeper, the hired help with a messy past who cleans up other people’s messy lives, the one who protects their messy little secrets.”

When Anne Morgan’s successful boyfriend—who also happens to be her boss—leaves her for another woman, Anne finds herself in desperate need of a new job and a quiet place to recover. Meanwhile, her celebrity idol, Emma Helmsley (England’s answer to Martha Stewart), is in need of a housekeeper, an opportunity which seems too good to be true.

Through her books, website, and blog, Emma Helmsley advises her devoted followers on how to live a balanced life in a hectic world. Her husband, Rob, is a high profile academic, and her children, Jake and Lily, are well-adjusted teenagers. On the surface, they are the perfect family. But Anne soon finds herself intimately ensconced in the Helmsley’s dirty laundry, both literally and figuratively. Underneath the dust, grime, and whimsical clutter, everyone has a secret to hide and Anne’s own disturbing past threatens to unhinge everything.

For fans of Notes on a Scandal and The Woman UpstairsThe Housekeeper is a nuanced and psychological drama about the dark recesses of the human mind and the dangerous consequences of long-buried secrets.

Excerpt ~ The House Keeper by Suellen Dainty 

Cleanliness, punctuality, order and method, are essentials in the character of a good housekeeper . . . Like “Caesar’s wife” she should be “above suspicion” and her honesty and sobriety unquestionable; for there are many temptations to which she is exposed.

Mrs. Beeton’s Book of Household Management, 1861

My bus arrived in Richmond far too early for the interview, and I walked up and down the high street peering into department store windows until it was time to catch the next one towards the river. Apart from two American tourists wearing hiking boots, the bus was empty. It made its way through a deserted winding road with woods on one side and cows and horses in their winter blankets grazing in a field on the other. It was hard to imagine that less than a mile away there was a busy town with cinemas and shops and supermarkets.

“Different air they breathe here, love,” said the bus driver as I got off. The American tourists bounded past me, eager to ex- plore Richmond Park. “You’ve got nearly twenty-five hundred acres of park on one side and the Thames River on the other. Film stars, rock stars—they love it,” he went on. “No change from ten, fifteen million quid for any of these houses.”

“I’m going for a job interview,” I replied. “Wish me luck.”

He gave a thumbs-up sign and drove away. It had rained earlier and there was a smell of damp earth and wet grass. A flock of feral green parakeets flew overhead, a neon streak in a pale wintry sky. The air was filled with their dinning, a strident, joyous noise drowning out the more reserved birdsong from native robins and wrens.

I’d checked the route the night before, but I made a mis- take and got off the bus one stop too early. Then the walk took longer than I’d expected, and the houses were so huge and far apart from each other that I had to jog the last bit, my skirt riding up my legs, my tights making that brushing fibrous noise, and my toes cramping, unaccustomed to high heels. I almost missed it because I was looking for a street number and all the houses had names instead. It was only when I looked closer that I saw the numbers painted in brown below the letter boxes. I walked along until I found the one I was looking for, barely visible on a high brick wall. Above it was a bronze plate engraved with a name. Wycombe Lodge. I stood for a minute to regain my composure and wipe the mud off my shoes.

Along the wall was a pair of wrought-iron gates, each bar as thick as my arm. The bottom half of each gate was covered with a solid sheet of black metal so I couldn’t see anything of the house from the street. I walked along to a wooden door with an intercom next to it. I swallowed hard and pressed the buzzer. The night before, I’d wondered whether to announce myself with my usual “Hi” or go for a more mature “Hello.” I thought the second option would be safer, but I didn’t get the chance to say anything at all. There was no voice at the other end, just a buzz as the door opened and then a click as someone hung up the intercom.

I pushed through to a glorious square house built of wine-colored brick. It was either Georgian or Queen Anne. I could never tell the difference. A climbing rose, still bearing some of last autumn’s hips, reached all the way to the roof, softening what might have been an otherwise austere exterior. Sunlight bounced off the bank of tall windows on the first floor, almost blinding me. When my vision cleared, I saw I was stand- ing in a gravelled forecourt edged by giant topiary balls. An empty stone pond with a fountain stood in the middle, in front of a portico with white stucco columns. The door was open. I glimpsed a flagstone floor and a flash of red from a rug.

I walked towards the door, my shoes with their flimsy leather soles crunching and slipping over the gravel. It was uneven, al- most bare in some places. In others, weeds had sprung up and fell over themselves at odd angles. The bottom of the pond was littered with browned leaves. Two pots containing scrawny bay trees stood on either side of the portico. Tucked out of sight behind them were plastic crates of empty wine bottles and dirty dinner plates. A clump of old telephone books, their pages all curled up, lay heaped in a corner.

“Come in, come in,” called an unseen woman’s voice. I walked into the empty hall, my heels echoing on the check- ered flagstones before being muffled by a worn patterned rug. A curved staircase led up to the higher floors. Along the hall were three open doors, and at the end a pair of closed doors. I had no idea where to go and paused next to a narrow table with a rectangular gilt mirror leaning over it. Piles of letters were propped against a vase of fading white roses, the water green and scummy. Blotched petals fell onto a pair of muddy trainers.

“We’re in here,” said the voice, and I followed its sound into the first door opposite the staircase. Emma stood against the fireplace. Embers smouldered in the grate. She was taller than I’d expected, and she looked younger than she had in the pho- tos, with a small heart-shaped face, the skin tight and gleaming across the bones. Her head was cocked to one side like a cu- rious bird’s. There was a crosshatch of fine lines around her eyes. At first, I thought they were green, but then the sun broke through into the room and showed them to be an unusual clear blue with a dark ring around the iris. She wore Converse trainers and what looked like a thermal vest over a long, trail- ing skirt, the hem torn in places where she must have tripped over it.

From THE HOUSEKEEPER by Suellen Dainty. Copyright © 2017 by Suellen Dainty. Reprinted by permission of Washington Square Press, an Imprint of Simon & Schuster, Inc.

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Book Blog, Bookouture, Excerpt

The Forgotten Family @PamHowes1 @Bookouture #Excerpt #Bookblog

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Hello Lovelies,
I have so happy to be on the blog tour for The Forgotten Family by Pam Howes. On my stop I have a wee excerpt for you, to whet your appetite.
Enjoy,

Kelly xoxo

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Book Jacket

The war is over – but are their troubles just beginning?

It’s 1951 and rationing is finally coming to an end. But while Liverpool is recovering from the ferocity of war, a family is about to be torn apart…

Dora Rodgers is adjusting to a new life in Liverpool with her young daughters Carol and Jackie. After the fear of the war years and a difficult break up with her husband Joe, Dora is finally building a future with her children.

But then an unexpected knock at the door rips her family in two.

To Dora’s horror, Carol is taken away by a welfare officer to live with Joe. She is determined to fight for her child, but when a tragic accident leaves her mother in the hospital, and shocking news from Joe breaks her heart again, she struggles to cope.

With her family in pieces and her marriage over for good, will Dora ever manage to get her daughter Carol home where she belongs?

Sneak Peek ~ The Forgotten Family By Pam Howes

Chapter One

Kirkby, Liverpool, June 1952

Dora Rodgers looped her long blonde hair behind her ears, banged on the kitchen window and wagged a warning finger. Her daughters were squabbling over the doll’s pram again, with five-year-old Carol hanging onto the handle for dear life, while two-year-old Jackie screamed at the top of her voice. She turned back to the washing. It was over a year since her husband Joe’s departure from the marital home, following a breakdown in their relationship, which had seen dressmaker Dora sink to the depths of despair. She had since found within herself a grim determination to prove that she didn’t need him and could care for their daughters on her own. Sometimes though, like today, when she had housework and the washing to see to, as well as a skirt and blouse to finish making for one of her customers, it all felt too much to cope with. It was all right for Joe, living the life of a single man, apart from when he took the kids out for the day. He only had himself to think about.

She folded the dry towels she’d brought in from the line and laid them on the table, then picked up the basket of washing she’d just put through the mangle. One day, when she was better off, she’d treat herself to a new washing machine with an electric mangle on top, like the one her pal Agnes had. Agnes said it made washdays a doddle. Joe had told her he’d get her one, but she’d refused and said she’d buy one herself when she could afford it. Mam said she was cutting her nose off to spite her face and to let Joe pay for it. But Dora was stubborn, and she was already living in the house Joe had got through his job at the Royal Ordnance Factory; she didn’t want to take anything else from him.

She went out into the garden and dropped the basket onto the small lawn. Jackie hurled herself at her legs, crying. Carol, looking smug, was pushing the doll’s pram up the path towards the shed.

‘Carol, share. Let Jackie have a turn, there’s a good girl,’ Dora said, giving her youngest a comforting hug. But Carol chose to ignore her. Dora put Jackie down and went to stand in front of Carol, who scowled and rammed the pram hard into her legs, laddering a stocking. ‘Ouch,’ Dora cried, jumping backwards. ‘Right, you naughty little madam; go to your room, this minute.’

Carol let out a howl and stomped indoors, her plaits bouncing on her shoulders. Jackie gave a delighted squeal and ran to grab the pram. Dora watched as she pushed it up the path, her earlier tears forgotten. She turned back to pegging out her washing. Mam would be arriving soon. Maybe she’d take Carol to the shops with her. She was hard work that one always had been, although now and again, when the fancy took her, she could be a proper little angel.

Jackie soon lost interest in the pram, just as Dora expected she would, and picked up some clothes pegs to hand to her mother. ‘You’re a little monkey, you are,’ Dora said. ‘You didn’t really want that pram at all.’ Jackie giggled and ran off with a handful of pegs. ‘Bring them back here or you can go and sit in the bedroom as well.’

‘Are they playing you up, gel?’ a voice called from a couple of gardens further along.

Dora looked up and saw her neighbour Dolly hanging over the fence. ‘Just a bit,’ she called back. ‘Though no more than usual.’

‘Not too long now before Carol starts school. Then you’ll have more time to relax with just your Jackie to see to. I miss our Alice, but I love the peace and quiet now she’s at school all day. I’ll pop down for a cuppa when I’ve finished hanging this lot out.’

‘Okay.’ Dora nodded and rolled her eyes as she turned her back on Dolly. That’d be half the morning gone before she got rid of her, no doubt. Although her neighbour was kind and helped her out with the children, she could talk the hind legs off a donkey once she got going. Dora pegged the final tea towel on the line and went back inside to put the kettle on. As she spooned tea into the pot she heard the front door opening.

‘Only me, chuck,’ a voice called from the hallway.

‘I’m in the kitchen, Mam,’ Dora called back. ‘Just about to make a brew. Dolly’s popping round in a minute.’

‘Oh, okay, well I’ll nip to the shops while the pair of you have a gossip. Where’s our Carol?’ she asked, peering out of the back door and seeing only Jackie playing in the garden.

Dora jerked a thumb towards the second bedroom door. ‘Been a right naughty girl, look.’ She lifted her leg with the laddered stocking and a red mark where the metal pram had hit her.

Mam frowned. ‘That’ll bruise; you need arnica on it. I’ll get some from the chemist, and I’ll take Carol to the shops with me. We’ll have a bit of dinner in the café and then I’ll take her to the library. It’s story time this afternoon, she’ll enjoy that. Give you a break while Jackie has her nap.’

‘Thanks, Mam, I was really hoping you’d suggest something like that,’ Dora said. As the kettle whistled on the gas hob, Dolly knocked and walked in the front door.

‘Have a seat, Dolly, while I see to Carol,’ Dora said. She went into the bedroom where Carol was sprawled on the bed, her lips pouting and her cheeks red and tear-stained.

‘Sowwy, Mammy,’ she sobbed, holding her arms out.

Dora gave her a hug and lifted her off the bed. Her heart skipped a beat as she looked at her daughter’s woebegone expression. Carol was so like Joe with her soft brown hair and big hazel eyes, while blonde-haired, blue-eyed Jackie was Dora’s double. ‘Right, monkey; let’s have no more being naughty and I’ll let you go shopping with Granny. Okay?’

Carol nodded and wiped her snotty nose on her cardigan sleeve.

Dora sighed and led her contrite daughter into the bathroom, where she washed her face and brushed her hair. ‘Now no messing about, and make sure you hold Granny’s hand, or else.’ She lowered her voice as they left the bathroom. ‘Daddy’s coming for tea tonight, and he’ll want to know that you’ve been a good girl for me. All right?’

Carol nodded again and ran into the sitting room where her granny was talking to Dolly.

‘Come on then, Carol,’ Granny said, giving her granddaughter a hug. ‘Have you made a list, Dora?’

‘It’s on the table, with some money. I only want sausages, spuds and custard powder.’

‘Okay, chuck, we’ll see you in a bit.’

Dora closed the front door behind them and went to pour the tea. She handed Dolly a well-sugared mug, thanking God that sugar rationing was over. She offered her a ginger snap and sat down next to her on the sofa.

Dolly took two biscuits and put her mug down on the coffee table. ‘So, Joe’s coming for tea, is he?’ She tucked a straying red curl back under her turban.

Dora looked at her in surprise. ‘How do you know that?’

‘I heard you telling Carol.’

‘Oh.’ Dora took a sip from her mug. God, the woman had ears like a bat. She’d spoken to Carol in a low voice, or thought she had. ‘Yes, he’s coming to see the girls. He didn’t see them on Sunday because the band was playing out of town at an afternoon garden party.’

Dolly pursed her lips. ‘Was she with him?’

‘I’ve no idea. I didn’t ask. I’m not interested even if she was. He can do what he likes now we’re separated.’ She being Ivy Bennett, who managed the canteen at the Royal Ordnance Factory where Joe worked, and with whom he’d had a brief relationship when Dora had suffered depression after Jackie’s birth.

‘She’s got a lot to answer for, that one.’

‘Yes, so you keep telling me, Dolly. But that’s Joe’s business now, not mine.

If you would like to order please use the handy link below ~

Thank you to Pam Howes and the cracking Bookouture Team for having me on the blog tour.

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Before you go please check out our interview with Anna Mansell and find out more about her novel How To Mend A Broken Heart ~ Click here.

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Aria Fiction, Book Blog, Crime Authors, Excerpt, Sneak Peek

Hunter By Monty Marsden @Aria_Fiction #SneakPeek #Crime #Thriller

Edinburgh Book Event (4)

Hello Lovelies,

Today on the blog I have Monty Marsden with an excerpt of his book Hunted.  Published by Aria Fiction on the 1st of July, 2017.

Let me know what you think in the comments below or tweet me on Twitter.

Kelly xoxo

Monty Marsden 

Marsden, Monty.jpg

Monty Marsden, a Tuscan by birth, grew up in Milan, where he studied medicine and still works. He lives in the province of Bergamo, with his wife and four children.

Hunted ~ Sneak Peek 

Sensi pulled out a drawer to find a bundle of photographs. He handed them across the desk to Claps.

“A white weapon. According to the pathologist who did the autopsy, they used a sharp kitchen knife,” Sensi said, while Claps began to look through the photos. “Like I said, there are twenty-two wounds, but only one of them was fatal. The others vary from light to deep cuts, but they weren’t lethal. Nothing that couldn’t have been fixed with a few stitches.”

“Were they all inflicted before death?”

“Yeah, apparently they were all inflicted while the victim was still alive. Once dead, she was left untouched. The murderer had a bit of fun first, and then he killed her quickly.”

“The fatal wound?”

“A violent, precise stab in the stomach, it must be somebody who knows how to use knives. The blade cut through the intestine and reached the aorta.” Sensi explained.

Sensi described this series of events in a neutral tone, without any emotions. Claps, on the other hand, was suddenly overwhelmed with a sense of uneasiness as he thought about the blade cutting through the girl’s stomach. He felt disorientated, like never before. For that reason, he decided to change his focus to the girl’s face – she had pretty facial features, her eyes were big and light coloured. However, like those of any other dead person, they were totally devoid of expression. Claps thought that she must have been beautiful when she was alive. Then a sense of dizziness overtook him. For a few seconds, everything became blurred.

He would have to get used to this feeling, and soon.

He shook himself mentally so that he was able to ask another question.

“Did they suggest when exactly the victim was tortured with the stabbing?”

“She died at about 3 a.m. – the anatomopathologist thinks that her wounds weren’t made more than four hours before the time of death.”

“Okay, so the victim disappeared between seven and eight in the morning, but the murderer didn’t do anything to her until 11 p.m.”

“That’s right.”

“What about the sexual assault?”

“There’s no trace of penetration in her vagina – the victim was sodomised.”

Another wave of dizziness.

“Did the murderer leave anything behind?”

“They did, actually.” Sensi’s eyes shone with a light of satisfaction.

“A lot of sperm and pubic hairs. We have his DNA.”

After a moment of silence, Sensi spoke again.

“There’s something else that you should know… and that’s the reason why I was strongly urged to get you involved in this.”

Hunted - jacket

Book Jacket 

A gripping thriller full of twists you won’t see coming… The next thrilling serial killer read from the author of MISSING. Perfect for the fans of Angela Marsons and Jeffrey Deaver.

Seven years ago, psychiatrist Dr Claps assisted police in capturing Giacomo Riondino, a man accused of abducting, torturing and murdering two women. On arrest, tests had revealed that Riondino suffered from a rare and disturbing psychiatric condition and was sectioned.

Six years later, Riondino is on the run after escaping from a rehabilitation centre, leaving a trail of bloody murders his wake.

It is now a case for expert profiler Dr Claps and Commissioner Sensi to work together to track Riondino down before he kills again. Time is running out and the killer may be much closer than it seems…

You can order your copy here ~

 

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Book Blog, Canelo Books, Excerpt

Marked For Death By Matt Hilton @MHiltonauthor @ElliePilcher95 @canelo #SneakPeek

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Hello Lovelies,

Today on the blog I have a sneak peek of the newly published crime thriller Marked For Death by Matt Hilton. Published by Canelo on 17/7/17. I hope you enjoy, let me know your thoughts in the comments.

Kelly xoxo

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Joe Hunter has been Marked for Death in his most explosive outing to date

It should be a routine job. Joe Hunter and his associates are hired to provide security for an elite event in Miami. Wear a tux, stay professional, job done.

But things go wrong.

Hunter is drawn into what appears to be a domestic altercation. When he crosses the mysterious Mikhail however, he soon finds something altogether more sinister…

Before long this chance encounter has serious repercussions for Hunter and his friends. Good people are being killed. On the run, in the line of fire, the clock is ticking.

From the bars of Miami beach to car chases and superyacht grenade battles, bestseller Matt Hilton dials up the intensity in this rip-roaring, set-piece filled thriller perfect for fans of Lee Child, David Baldacci and Stephen Leather.

Sneak Peek ~ Excerpt 

Splinters of glass cascaded across the sidewalk, a bed of needles on which the squint-eyed thug went to sleep. Seconds ago he’d been jumping around, as hyper as a speed addict, spitting froth from the corners of his mouth in his agitation, until I’d delivered the sleeping pill by way of a straight right to his jaw.

I hadn’t planned on sending him through the window, but the subsequent explosion of glass, the slap of his body on the pavement, bought me a few seconds while his pals blinked in astonishment at his downfall. By the time their attention turned back to me, I was on the offensive. I upended a table, scattering food and condiments, and kicked it into the thighs of the two men nearest me. While they wasted time trying to clear the obstruction, I vaulted it and kicked the first of them over onto his back. While he was down I stamped on his groin. He jack-knifed at the waist, woofing in agony, and met my knee with his face. He sprawled out flat again.

The third guy should have hit me while I was still side-on to him, but he made the mistake of going for a two-hands grab, intending to yank me off his downed pal. He caught the collar of my jacket, began hauling, but that worked in my favour: I pivoted half-circle and rammed the tip of my left elbow into his liver. He lost all control of his grip, and likely his bowels, as his response was to squat and shudder out a deep groan. Reversing my pivot, I again employed an elbow, and this time his fat head made a perfect target. He crashed against the upturned table, his weight thrusting it back a few feet before he flattened out.

The violence had been shocking and sudden, and to the observers out on the sidewalks I might have looked as much like the instigator as I did the perpetrator of the brutal exchange, but I’d only gone there to enjoy a quiet lunch. I should have known better; I tend to attract trouble. If there’s an idiot in the room they always gravitate towards me, and sadly I’m not the type to suffer fools.

And the trio of punks lying around me in varying degrees of messed-up had been drunken fools.

They’d come off the beach overheated, but instead of lining their stomachs with food and maybe taking a soft drink they’d elected for pitchers of beer. Too much hot sun plus too much cold beer: not a good combination. The alcohol made them boisterous, rude and belligerent. Squint-eye didn’t understand that four-letter words were best kept between his own ignorant company, and he had no right to complain when asked by the manager to keep it down around the lunchtime diners. His way of dealing with the request was to get louder and begin throwing his weight around, challenging anyone who thought himself man, enough to shut him up. I told him to shut it.

Squint-eye – encouraged by his equally stupid friends – set his chin, then strolled over to my table with his fists clenched.

‘You goin’ to make me shut it, old man?’ he demanded, one eye watering, the other pinched almost shut. Dried spittle formed scummy patches at the corners of his mouth. More spit was ejected when he wiggled his fingers and beckoned me to try it. ‘C’mon, asshole, you want to have a go?’

‘Let’s take this out in the parking lot,’ I said as I stood.

‘Why not do things right here?’ To punctuate his point, he snatched up a ketchup bottle from my table and swung for my head. Before the bottle was halfway through its arc, my fist impacted his chin and things kicked off.

It’s one thing standing against bullies, but my problem was I didn’t have much balance when dealing with them: once tripped, my switch was prone to overkill. Surrounded by the recumbent trio, I took abashed glances around, observing the shocked expressions of my fellow diners. I felt bad that I’d helped ruin their day out.

A family of three sat at the nearest table, shocked into immobility, loaded forks still raised. I could see the partly masticated remains of a cheeseburger in the wide mouth of a sturdy, ginger-haired kid. His eyes were huge and glossy with excitement.

‘Sorry your boy had to witness that,’ I said to the kid’s parents.

The father, the progenitor of his son’s red hair and freckles, glimpsed at the kid, then shook his head, as if an apology was unnecessary. ‘Can’t get him off those online shoot-’em-up games, I’m betting he’s seen much worse.’

The mother, a frumpy blonde, and obviously the parent that’d determined the kid’s stocky figure, moistened her lips as she stared up at me. ‘They asked for what they got, mister,’ she announced.

Other diners were in agreement, some of them even offering a short round of applause. One old guy sitting close enough to spit on the thug I’d elbowed cackled softly in laughter. He used an immaculately white sneaker to prod the downed man. He spoke directly to him. ‘If you’re intent on throwing your weight around, you should expect a hard landing now and again.’

His words of wisdom rang as a personal warning to me. I looked for the manager, held up my hands in apology. ‘I’m sorry about the trouble; I only planned on getting them outside and on their way. Things rapidly got out of hand, though.’

‘This wasn’t on you, Joe,’ the manager said, his expression one of sombre reflection. I’d been visiting his beachside diner for years, and was on first name terms with Grant. ‘That punk would’ve smashed your head with that bottle if you hadn’t stopped him.’

‘I was more annoyed that he called me an old man.’ I smiled to show I was joking.

‘Yeah,’ said Grant, who was my senior by a couple of years, ‘he asked for it. I only wish I’d opened the window first.’

‘That wasn’t planned either,’ I assured him. ‘I’ll pay for the damages, Grant.’

He pointed down at Squint-eye, who was still dozing on the sidewalk. ‘He can pay for the damages.’ He checked out the overturned table, the spilled food and crockery. ‘The rest is salvageable.’

‘Maybe we should put them in the recovery position or something.’

‘Let’s drag ’em into the parking lot, let them sleep it off,’ Grant suggested. ‘It’s garbage collection day, maybe someone will do me a favour and throw them in the trash.’

He was jesting. Plus he had a duty of care, as did I. Between us we got the trio of young punks propped in the shade at the side of the diner, and slapped them into wakefulness. I didn’t hold a grudge. As long as they behaved – and shelled out ample reimbursement to Grant for the broken window – I’d allow our disagreement to end.

To be fair, when they did come to, they wore similar expressions of sombre reflection to Grant’s countenance earlier. They knew they’d been in the wrong, having had some sobriety knocked back into their foolish heads. Squint-eye paid up, and even offered me an apology and his hand. I didn’t believe for a second it was a trap to pull me into a headbutt, but call me cautious. I clapped him on the shoulder instead, directing him back to the beach.

As he had during previous visits to his diner, Grant again offered me a job, which I again declined. It had become a discussion point with us to a point where we sounded like a stuck record.

‘I’ve already got a job.’

‘You seem to have plenty downtime,’ Grant countered. ‘I sure could use you on the door over the summer break…’

‘I’d make a poor doorman,’ I said. ‘I can’t differentiate doors from windows.’

He shook his head at the lame joke.

‘Besides,’ I went on, ‘I enjoy eating here; it wouldn’t be the same if I worked here. I wouldn’t be able to relax.’

‘You never relax,’ he reminded me. ‘You should take up yoga or something, Joe, do some breathing exercises, or you’re going to burn yourself out. You’re not as young as you used to be.’

I blinked at him in mock surprise. ‘I just knocked a guy through a window for suggesting I was old.’

‘I didn’t say you were old, just…well, not young either.’

‘And you think me working a door, bouncing groups of drunken reprobates, is going to be good for my health? Thanks for the out, Grant.’

He extended his hand. ‘The offer’s always open.’

I had no reservations about taking his hand, and I winked my appreciation.

‘Can I get you a fresh plate?’ Grant offered. My lunch was currently being mopped off the floor by one of his serving staff.

‘Lost my appetite,’ I admitted. I squinted at my wristwatch for effect. ‘Besides, it’s time I was getting on…before age really does catch up to me.’

‘Got a lot on?’ His tone was doubtful.

‘I’m a busy man,’ I said.

I was lying. I was between jobs and was growing antsy. On another day I might have made do with slapping some sense into Squint-eye and his pals, not beating on them as vigorously as I did. Boredom had a detrimental effect on me, and a worse one on the fools that snapped me out of laconic mode.

The truth was, I was mildly embarrassed. Despite the show of appreciation from the diners, I was sorry that I’d acted so violently, especially in view of children, and was uncomfortable about returning inside. I couldn’t eat while being eyed openly – or surreptitiously – by the other diners. I especially didn’t want to field their questions or misguided accolades, let alone reproof once the adrenaline spike faded and they began thinking more clearly about the kind of person in their midst. I said goodbye to Grant and strolled through Mexico Beach towards my beach house, seriously ready for a change of scenery.

To order your copy please use the easy link below ~

Marked for Death Blog Tour Final

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Book Blog, Excerpt, Legend Press, Sneak Peek

Rain Falls On Everyone ~ @clarnic @Legend_Press #SneakPeek

Today on the blog I have an excerpt of Rain Falls On Everyone by Clar Ni Chonghaile. Published on the 15th of July, 2017 by Legend Press.  I do hope you enjoy. Thanks for stopping by.

Kelly xox

9781785079016

Rain Falls On Everyone ~ Sneak Peek

CHAPTER ONE

Theo ran. Feet pounding, arms pumping, chest heaving, heart

racing. In this frenzy of motion, the only still thing was his

mind. He had to get away. That was the only goal: to put as

much distance as he could between him and the pebble-dashed

house where a man he knew little, but enough to hate, lay in

a pool of sticky, gold-flecked blood. He had to get away from

Deirdre’s terrified eyes, from her outstretched hands with

the grazed knuckles. He sped through the estate and out onto

the main road, his open anorak flapping behind him like the

clipped wings of a giant crow.

He didn’t stop until he was heading west on a country road.

He had covered miles, at first frantically and then steadily with

his long, loping stride. He stopped, bent, placed his hands on

his knees, and still his brain did not engage. He saw the road,

noted its silvery greyness, looked up to the half-moon and

then over the stone walls, across the fields. He registered the

absence of cars. No surprise there at 2 am on a minor road

leading out of Dublin. To his right, a two-storey house – a

relic from the austere Ireland of the 1950s – loomed like a

sentinel, marking the boundary between the sin-filled city and

the countryside, where legend had it, maidens once danced at

crossroads while boys played hurling without helmets.

He needed transport. It was his first clear thought since the

gun went off. He would never make it on foot. Deirdre might

not set the Gardaí on him right away but it’d surely happen.

He’d done her a favour, no doubt about that, but sometimes

people didn’t want favours. In those first, freeze-framed

moments after the sharp crack that marked the beginning and

the end, no one had moved, no one had said anything. Deirdre

was the first to react.

“Go, go now!” she hissed, grabbing a notebook and writing

furiously. “Go to my father. He will look after you until you

can get out.”

She pushed the paper into his hands. Did her fingers

flinch as they touched his? She had written her father’s

address, just a few lines of scribbled instructions, a list of

villages to pass through, a left and then a right down a lane.

A roadmap to oblivion. Before he left, he tried to read the

moral relativities in her eyes but he found only fear. It hurt

him then and the memory stung now but there would be time

for a reckoning later.

He checked his phone. The battery was nearly dead but

who would he call anyway? He clambered over the nearest

wall, dislodging the top stone in his wake. It clunked dully

onto his toes. He cursed, but in Kinyarwanda. The words had

the force of a Taser, freezing him to the spot. He hadn’t used

his own language in years. The last time was when he was

around sixteen and went to a meeting for African immigrants

in a church near his home in Clontarf. Teenage identity crisis,

he supposed. He never returned. Instead of feeling at one

with the other young men, who sat awkwardly on squeaking

plastic chairs in the echo-filled basement down below the

world, he felt more like an outsider than ever. The social

workers – a pudgy woman in a tracksuit and garish pink

lipstick and a man in the kind of jumper most of the young

black kids wouldn’t be seen dead in – were kind and well-
meaning and utterly clueless about what made the lads around

them tick. It wasn’t their fault. They were offering practical

solutions – language classes, dole forms, counselling services

– when what the young men wanted was someone to wave

a magic wand over their heads to make them the same as

everyone else. All teenagers need to comply with the pitiless

rules that govern their world and they were no different. But

because they were black, and had funny accents, and strange,

sometimes tragic, tales of foreign lands, they would never fit

in. The boys knew it but they didn’t get this far by respecting

the limits of the possible. The social workers, who might well

have had teenagers at home with their own hang-ups about

belonging, didn’t recognise that same desperation in the boys

around them, though it was in every snazzily trainered foot,

every awkwardly mumbled Dublin colloquialism, every too-
sharp haircut.

 

Book Jacket 

Theo, a young Rwandan boy fleeing his country’s genocide, arrives in Dublin, penniless, alone and afraid. Still haunted by a traumatic memory in which his father committed a murderous act of violence, he struggles to find his place in the foreign city.

Plagued by his past, Theo is gradually drawn deeper into the world of Dublin’s feared criminal gangs. But a chance encounter in a restaurant with Deirdre offers him a lifeline.

Theo and Deirdre’s tender friendship is however soon threatened by tragedy. Can they confront their addictions to carve a future out of the catastrophe that engulfs both their lives?

Order your copy today ~

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Huge thanks to Clar Ni Chonghaile and Legend Press for the opportunity to be on the blog tour.

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