The Age of Olympus – Gavin Scott. Blog tour Extract.

Today I am very pleased to offer an extract from The Age of Olympus written by Gavin Scott and published by Titan Books on 28th April. Details follow the extract.

The Age of Olympus – Extract.

“So the Iron Curtain could fall over Greece too?” said Sophie.

“It could indeed,” said Lancaster, and fixed his pop-eyed gaze on Forrester. “And that’s where your old friend General Alexandros comes into it. We’re a bit worried about him.”

“He’s not a communist,” said Forrester. “I know that for a fact.”

After the Germans invaded Greece in 1941, Forrester and Aristotle Alexandros had spent weeks together, planning guerrilla operations while hiding out in a cave near Mount Olympus, and they had talked about every subject under the sun, including the Soviet Union. “He’s the most rational man I’ve ever met. One of the best read, too. He saw through Marx as a teenager.”

“But after you parted he spent the rest of the war fighting the Nazis alongside the communists,” said Lancaster, “and that makes him a suspect now as far as the Greek Army is concerned. They’re all royalists, you know.”

“But he’s the best strategist in Greece,” said Forrester. “Best tactician too. Don’t tell me the regular army’s put him on ice.”

“That’s exactly what they’ve done,” said Lancaster. “And he’s getting bored and impatient. The communists want to put him in charge of ELAS.”

“ELAS?”

“Their strike force. The so-called Greek People’s Liberation Army.”

“But surely he wouldn’t—”

“The present regime’s pretty rotten. Too many people who cosied up to the Germans. He might think he could use ELAS to take over, clean house and start again with a fresh slate.”

Forrester was silent for a moment. It was all too plausible. And if Aristotle Alexandros joined the communist army, they would win. Stalin’s campaign to control Europe would be one step closer to fulfilment.

“What do you want me to do?” he asked.

“Just talk to Alexandros, find out what you can about his thinking. Then let us know.”

“I’m very fond of him,” said Forrester. “I’m not going to sell him down the river.”

“Wouldn’t dream of asking you to, old boy,” said the attaché. “Just sound him out about whether he’s going to join ELAS, that’s all.”

“If we come across each other.”

“Oh, you’ll come across each other,” said Lancaster. “This is Greece. Besides, there’s a party tonight at the Regent- Archbishop’s, and I’ve wangled you both an invitation.”

“I had hoped to have a quiet dinner with Sophie,” said Forrester.

“I know,” said Lancaster, with patently insincere sympathy, “but I also know we can rely on you to be a good scout, old man. They speak very highly of you at the War Office, and the same can’t be said for most academics, I can tell you.”

About the Book: 

Duncan Forrester has travelled to Greece, intent on recovering the ancient Cretan stone he discovered during the war, while part of an SOE mission to kidnap a German commander. But during a visit to Athens he witnesses the poisoning of a Greek poet, who it appears may have not been the intended target. The man Forrester believes to have been marked for death is a general, who has been approached to lead ELAS, the military arm of the Greek communists. With Greece on the brink of civil war, and more attempts made on the general’s life – not to mention an enemy from his own past on his heels – Forrester knows that the country’s future depends on the fate of one man…The man Forrester believes to have been marked for death is a general, who has been approached to lead ELAS, the military arm of the Greek communists. With Greece on the brink of civil war, and more attempts made on the general’s life – not to mention an enemy from his own past on his heels – Forrester knows that the country’s future depends on the fate of one man…

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Tag You’re Dead – Douglas Skelton. Blog Tour Review.

Publication Date: Available Now from Contraband

Source: Review Copy

Sam the butcher is missing, and maverick investigator Dominic Queste is on the case. But it’s not because he misses Sam’s prize-winning steak pies… A dangerous man has arrived in Glasgow. He’s no small-town crook, and he’s leaving a trail of disturbing clues across the city, starting with the missing cousin of Queste’s new lover. Amidst a twisted game of cat and mouse, suspicious coppers and a seemingly random burglary at the judge’s house, Queste has to keep his wits about him. Or he might just find himself on the butcher’s block.

So Dominic Queste is back and nobody is more pleased to see him than me. And anyone else that read The Dead Don’t Boogie probably.

Queste is a PI extraordinaire (sort of) and here we see him in a fast paced, ironically humerous, page turning case as he hunts down Sam the butcher, missing in action – also there’s a bad bad guy in town looking for trouble. I do love a good bit of trouble in my crime fiction.

What I really enjoy with Mr Skelton’s writing is the way he just sucks you into his settings and makes you believe you know the characters – I’m especially fond of Ginty and that relationship dynamic is brilliant. There are political shenanigans galore, plenty of gritty action and some clever little plot developments, would have been a one sitting read if not for that pesky having to go to work thing.

I did however make short order of it – I won’t give much away except to say that I can’t imagine anyone not liking this, if not for one reason then for another. Top notch writing, top notch storytelling, some brilliantly observed life realities and really believable, well drawn characters. What’s not to love?

Recommended.

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Latest Reads: The Body in the Ice – A J Mackenzie

Publication Date: Available Now from Bonnier

Source: Review Copy.

Christmas Day, Kent, 1796

On the frozen fields of Romney Marsh stands New Hall; silent, lifeless, deserted. In its grounds lies an unexpected Christmas offering: a corpse, frozen into the ice of a horse pond.

It falls to the Reverend Hardcastle, justice of the peace in St Mary in the Marsh, to investigate. But with the victim’s identity unknown, no murder weapon and no known motive, it seems like an impossible task. Working along with his trusted friend, Amelia Chaytor, and new arrival Captain Edward Austen, Hardcastle soon discovers there is more to the mystery than there first appeared.

With the arrival of an American family torn apart by war and desperate to reclaim their ancestral home, a French spy returning to the scene of his crimes, ancient loyalties and new vengeance combine to make Hardcastle and Mrs Chaytor’s attempts to discover the secret of New Hall all the more dangerous.

Really enjoyed this – you know I love my modern detective stories but sometimes its nice to read a mystery set in a time when there were no mobile phones or DNA matches or anything really except legwork, good old fashioned common sense and the use of the little grey cells (Yes this is a little bit Christie)

This is my first novel in this series although I have the other one sat in the never ending pile somewhere so will definitely have to dig this out – I was particularly struck by the setting and the atmosphere in The Body in the Ice and I loved how A J Mackenzie (another spot on writing team) wove plenty of humour into the narrative. It made for a fun and compelling read, the mystery elements are spot on and the writing style is easy and immersive. Great for a Sunday afternoon (which was when I read this one pretty much in a single sitting)

The historical elements were great – letters and actual conversations and the team of Hardcastle and Chaytor worked really well, I’ll look forward to going back in time (again) and read their first adventure. This is old school storytelling at its best and whilst I’m not generally a huge fan of Historical fiction there are exceptions to the rule and this is one of them.

Villages and community (loved Amelia) family dynamic and the social strata of the day bring  this novel to life – that with the occasionally Holmes like detection elements and a gorgeously drawn cast of eclectic characters make The Body in the Ice a wonderful read.

Recommended.

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Latest Reads: Friends and Liars Kaela Coble

Publication Date: 1st June from Corvus

Source: Netgalley

It has been ten years since Ruby left her hometown behind. Since then she’s built a life away from her recovering alcoholic mother and her first love, Murphy. But when Danny, one of her estranged friends from childhood, commits suicide, guilt draws Ruby back into the tumultuous world she escaped all those years ago.

She’s dreading the funeral – and with good reason. Danny has left a series of envelopes addressed to his former friends. Inside each envelope is a secret about every person in the group. Ruby’s secret is so explosive, she will fight tooth-and-nail to keep it hidden from those she once loved so deeply, even if that means risking everything…

Friends and Liars is a  totally immersive and addictive read about a group of friends and the things that both bring them together and divide them. In the aftermath of the suicide of one of their own, all of them must face up to the truths about themselves and each other.

As we meet them both in the past and in the present, their story is authentically compelling. As a tight knit group of children, “the crew”, none the less they all have wavering loyalties and secrets that they keep – Friends and Liars is a brilliantly insightful look at the group dynamics of friendships formed, those that endure. Danny, in death, forces a kind of reckoning, it is utterly gripping and often very emotional.

The characters, all of them, are layered well, Kaela Coble unravels their lives in an intelligently woven plot that allows you to feel everything right along with them. Much of the focus is on Ruby and her one time best friend Murphy, the rest of the group rippling around them with Danny, the damaged and troubled soul right at the heart of things. The author plays on the readers sympathies, keeping you engaged, in some ways this is like a mini thriller as each secret comes to light slowly over the course of the story. Ultimately there is a kind of redemptive feel to things, sometimes the truth really does set you free…

Really I loved it, I read it in two sittings, the small town vibe, the ebb and flow of family and community, this group of friends who are genuinely tied together by those invisible threads no matter where they are in the world, it all made for quite wonderful and often unpredictable reading.

I’ll miss them all. I feel like I’ve lived it with them.

Recommended.

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Night Market – Daniel Pembrey. Blog Tour Review.

Publication Date: 27th April from No Exit

Source: Review Copy

When Henk van der Pol is asked by the Justice Minister to infiltrate a team investigating an online child exploitation network, he can hardly say no – he’s at the mercy of prominent government figures in The Hague. But he soon realises the case is far more complex than he was led to believe… Picking up from where The Harbour Master ended, this new investigation sees Detective Van der Pol once again put his life on the line as he wades the murky waters between right and wrong in his search for justice.

Sometimes, to catch the bad guys, you have to think like one. . .

An excellent read here from Daniel Pembry, a classically  built sense of place, some intriguing characters and a pacy, compelling mystery to dig your teeth into.

Set to catch a mole in a complex and ongoing case involving some emotive subjects, Henk finds he has trouble on his hands. Echoes of the past haunt him and Daniel Pembry takes us on a twisted journey to the truth, where its impossible to trust anyone and the resolution is unpredictable – Night Market is a page turner, cleverly obtuse and well plotted to keep the reader guessing all the way.

One of the best things is the scene setting – Amsterdam comes to brilliantly observed life, you can see and feel where the characters reside – it adds a hugely atmospheric sense to an already atmospheric plot. The story could have been ripped from the headlines and the author builds the background perfectly, an intelligent nuanced building of relationships and history.

I enjoyed The Harbour Master very much but Night Market I read in one sitting – it is gripping, horrific and totally absorbing from the moment you start until the moment you finish. Excellent. More please.

Recommended.

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Latest Reads: The Mayfly by James Hazel.

Publication Date: 15th June from Bonnier Zaffre

Source: Netgalley

It’s happening again.

A mutilated body discovered in the woods.
A murderous plan conceived in the past.
A reckoning seventy years in the making . . .

Charlie Priest, ex-detective inspector turned London lawyer, is hired by influential entrepreneur Kenneth Ellinder to investigate the murder of his son. But Priest is no ordinary lawyer. Brilliant, yet flawed, this case will push him, and those closest to him, to the edge.

Priest traces the evidence back to the desperate last days of the Second World War. Buried in the ashes of the Holocaust is a secret so deadly its poison threatens to destroy the very heart of the establishment.
With more victims going missing, Priest realises that not everyone should be trusted. As he races to uncover the truth, can he prevent history from repeating itself?

Wow I loved The Mayfly. More than I expected to (always a good thing) and that is probably down to the completely compelling characters (Charlie Priest my newest book crush) and the rest (Georgie my newest girl crush) plus the brilliantly horrific plot which does get right under your skin. **slight shudder**

I won’t give anything away but the story fairly rocks along, whilst at the same time fleshing out (so to speak)  the characters, digging them into your consciousness so when bad things happen to them you are all discombobulated – and bad things do happen. Boy do they.

I like to find new crime fiction that has a different spin to put on things – what James Hazel does here is give you all the elements of a decent crime thriller with added oomph. Charlie Priest really is no ordinary lawyer – I’ll let you find out why for yourselves – but it adds a brilliantly intriguing twist on things that allows for some really meaningful moments in a plot full of layered depth. Also, his family is kind of weird – in the best reading way, I loved them. Even the one that I should probably be wary of.

I loved the past/present elements that all fused together ultimately, I really had no idea where this was going to end up, another reason for enjoying it thoroughly – I like the unpredictable not a lot get me that way these days. Even if I’d worked out every nuance though I would still have loved it – the characters are so fascinating, their relationships in our infancy of knowing them here are cleverly addictive – can’t wait for more now. Really. If the next book in the series is as good then its heading straight onto the must buy list.

Occasionally horrifically shiver inducing, never less than irresistible, The Mayfly is really top notch. Intelligently constructed, characters to die for and a truly sterling opening to what I hope will be a long running series. Charlie Priest. Remember the name.

I love this part.

Highly Recommended.

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Rewind Review: Two O Clock Boy – Mark Hill. Blog Tour.

Publication Date: Available Now from Sphere.

Source: Review copy

TWO CHILDHOOD FRIENDS…ONE BECAME A DETECTIVE…ONE BECAME A KILLER...

One night changed their lives Thirty years ago, the Longacre Children’s Home stood on a London street where once-grand Victorian homes lay derelict. There its children lived in terror of Gordon Tallis, the home’s manager. Cries in the fire and smoke Then Connor Laird arrived: a frighteningly intense boy who quickly became Tallis’ favourite criminal helper. Soon after, destruction befell the Longacre, and the facts of that night have lain buried …until today. A truth both must hide Now, a mysterious figure, the Two O’Clock Boy, is killing all who grew up there, one by one. DI Ray Drake will do whatever it take to stop the murders – but he will go even further to cover up the truth. Discover the gripping, twist-filled start to a fantastic new London-set crime thriller series starring morally corrupt DI Ray Drake.

There was a certain amount of angst involved in my reading of  Two O’Clock Boy – due to the fact that Mark is indeed a good friend of mine (well I say that anyway he may beg to differ and  hide under a table when he sees me coming) and also a lovely chap so the thought that I might not like it kept me up at night. I can’t lie about the books. Doesnt matter how much I love you…

Then I started reading  Two O’Clock Boy and instead THAT kept me up at night. Because I couldnt put the blinking thing down and it was entirely brilliant. I can say in all honesty that it was banging good – insanely addictive – as dark as you like (and I like it dark) with a main protagonist you might literally die for if you reside within the pages. Add in a twisted, compelling storyline with some relevant and thought provoking themes and you have a magnificent read that will stay with you for ages. And ages. Then keep you up at night some more…

ANYWAY on the due diligence front, if you love tv shows like Luther and you like the good guys to be not quite as good as all that then you’ll love Ray Drake even though he’ll possibly terrify you too. But hey I always liked the bad boys. And to be fair he’s going after a killer who is pretty terrifying too. If you like a thriller that has great depth of character, enough twists in the tail to satisfy a rattlesnake, a fantastic supporting cast and the ability to make you keep turning the pages as if they were a drug habit you just can’t quite quit then this book is for you.

Basically this book is probably for you. More if you are a crime fan. Even MORE if you just like bloody good writing which tells a bloody good story and then leaves you just wanting more. More more more. With a hugely rebel yell…

Go on. You know you want to. Just don’t blame ME for the lack of sleep and the need for much caffeine to get you through the next working day.

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Good News Bad News WHS McIntyre Blog Tour Review.

Publication Date: Available Now from Sandstone Press

Source: Review Copy

Life’s full of good news and bad news for defence lawyer Robbie Munro. The good news is he’s in work, representing Antionia Brechin on a drugs charge. The bad news is that she’s the granddaughter of notorious Sheriff Brechin.

Meanwhile, another of Robbie’s clients, Ellen Fletcher, has won the lottery and asked Robbie to find her husband Freddy, who disappeared having swindled the evil Jake Turpie. Unfortunately, Jake’s not willing to bury the hatchet – not unless it’s in Freddy’s head.

Robbie juggles cases and private life with his usual dexterity, but the more he tries to fix things the more trouble everyone’s in.

This is my second foray into the Best Defence series and I loved every minute of it again. I’m a huge fan of Robbie, he’s just so beautifully normal in so many ways but funny and determined even if that determination sometimes lands him in hot water.

He is juggling several things in “Good News Bad News” not least his accidental engagement from the last novel which means he can no longer do exactly as he pleases. In his professional world he is defending the granddaughter of his bete noir Sheriff Brechin, dealing with a demanding lottery winner and trying to keep the peace between many factions none of whom are all rainbows and light.

This series is so involving – WHS McIntyre writes with an ironic, witty prose that just makes you smile again and again – he throws his protagonists into all sorts of weirdly hilarious situations whilst maintaining an authentic and gritty backdrop – so beautifully readable and insanely addictive.

This series is all about the characters – their interactions, changing relationships and all the rest make it entirely fascinatingly brilliant, the scene setting is spot on and the plotting is cleverly obtuse, the author throwing in the little twists and turns almost casually, you never know quite where everything might end up.

Overall I’m a huge fan of this series. Bring on the next one I say! I want to see what Robbie ends up accidentally doing next!

Highly Recommended.

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Latest Reads: The Boy on the Bridge – M R Carey.

Publication Date: 2nd May from Orbit

Source: Review Copy.

Once upon a time, in a land blighted by terror, there was a very clever boy.

The people thought the boy could save them, so they opened their gates and sent him out into the world.

To where the monsters lived.

So I’ve been waiting for this one in that way that I do, really patiently and without bugging anyone at ALL about it. Just sat here patiently waiting. No seriously!

ANYWAY The Boy on the Bridge is tagged as The Girl with all the Gifts book 2 but it is not that, it is a brilliant companion novel set in the same world, you can read this perfectly easily as a standalone book, although there are some lovely little gifts (yes I did that) for you if you have read Girl first. You should do that anyway simply because it is brilliant. I’m reading it again right now in fact…

Is “The Boy on the Bridge” as brilliant? Yes. You’ll get no argument from me, although it is brilliant in very different ways and for a whole host of new reasons. This is where I will struggle – because much like TGWATG I don’t want to give anything away. What the rather talented Mr Carey has done here is expand the entire sense of the world he built, given it form and function, with the help of some inspired characters and a kind of post apocalyptic road trip of highly charged emotional doom. Or redemption. You decide.

I was so involved all the way through this book – I felt all the feelings and clutched my hair quite a lot, growled at the actions of a few, clung onto the edge of the actions of at least one and from the moment I started it I lost my grip on this reality and lived in that one. Mr Carey has a way of writing with such totally immersive prose that you do live every moment, sinking into it and travelling along with it. By the end I was wrung out and blimey what an end I got too, first the last few cliff hanging chapters that brought everything from before to an emotive and heart wrenching finish then if that wasn’t enough there’s a beautifully placed little aftershock.

These really are the books I read for, the ones that for whatever reason, totally subjectively, grip you to the point that you know you’ll never forget them and will return to them to recapture that emotional tug they gave you the first time. The ones that will give that over and over no matter how many times you read them.

The Girl with all the Gifts and The Boy on the Bridge are such books for me – whether they would be for you or not I cannot tell but what I can  do is  recommend that you at least give it a try. Really. What’s the worst that could happen?

Just a fantastic fascinating beautifully formed reading experience. All the love for this one. Both the  boy and the girl hit me right in the reading soul.

Highly Recommended. HIGHLY.

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Melanie is a very special girl. Dr. Caldwell calls her “our little genius.”

Every morning, Melanie waits in her cell to be collected for class. When they come for her, Sergeant Parks keeps his gun pointing at her while two of his people strap her into the wheelchair. She thinks they don’t like her. She jokes that she won’t bite, but they don’t laugh.

Melanie loves school. She loves learning about spelling and sums and the world outside the classroom and the children’s cells. She tells her favorite teacher all the things she’ll do when she grows up. Melanie doesn’t know why this makes Miss Justineau look sad.

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Latest Reads: Penance Kanae Minato

Publication Date: Available Now from Mulholland

Source: Netgalley

When they were children, Sae, Maki, Akiko and Yuko were tricked into separating from their friend Emily by a mysterious stranger. Then the unthinkable occurs: Emily is found murdered hours later.
Sae, Maki, Akiko and Yuko weren’t able to accurately describe the stranger’s appearance to the police after the Emili’s body was discovered. Asako, Emily’s mother, curses the surviving girls, vowing that they will pay for her daughter’s murder.

I read Confessions from this author and loved it, a one sitting read and Penance was another one sitting read. It was strange and dark, occasionally heart breaking and beautifully done. Translated from the Japanese by Philip Gabriel I was immediately hooked in to this tale of a group of children caught up in the horrific murder of one of their friends, a sinister threat from the girls mother and how that affected them growing up..

Penance is less a murder mystery and more a character drama – the murder, and the mothers emotionally charged “threat” setting off a chain of life events for the 4 girls and indeed for the mother herself. Each girl tells her tale, about that day and about their lives after, all of them in one way or another end up paying that “Penance” that was demanded of them at a young and impressionable age. Kenae Minato really delves into personality here, taking us on a twisted, atmospheric journey through the lives of these characters, whose realities differ so much but all are tied into a seemingly unbreakable bond to that one event.

The cultural aspects are equally involving, as I read I got a real sense of both the differences and the similarities between life in Japan and life here – there are different expectations, different society rules and hierarchy, but people are people everywhere. Grief, love, trauma, those things have no borders and I was struck by how beautifully the author managed to portray the feelings, the passion, the core heart of everyone we meet within the pages.

Utterly riveting, everything in Penance hovers underneath the surface, the decisions made, the actions taken, all informed by the past  at differing levels. The plotting is taut and extraordinarily clever, its not until you come to the end of Penance and look back at it that you understand fully the complete tragedy. Because Penance is a tragedy, almost Shakespearean in nature, I devoured every word of it with a shivery intensity.

Absolutely Highly Recommended.

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