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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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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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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Fatal Music – Peter Morfoot. Blog Tour Extract.

Today I am very happy to offer you an extract of Fatal Music by Peter Morfoot  as part of the blog tour – the novel is available now from Titan books  and details follow.

6

The doorbell rang. And rang again. Léo had a key and no john knew the address. Stubbing out her cigarette, she went to the door and peered through the spy hole. It was a policeman. Uniformed, the safer kind. And in a hurry by the look of it. She took a moment to compose herself and then opened the door sharply to the limit of its chain.

‘Yes?’

‘Mademoiselle Daviot?’

‘Who wants to know?’

‘Mademoiselle Cristelle Marie Daviot?’

Granot arrived at the morgue just in time to oversee the ID process. He and Darac had decided to tell Cristelle only that her grandmother had drowned in her hot tub. On seeing the look in the young woman’s eyes, it was the correct decision.

‘You don’t have to do this, mademoiselle.’ Sod Dr Carl Sodding Barrau. ‘We could get dental records.’

‘It’s alright.’

‘You sure?’

She set her jaw. ‘Yes.’

‘This way, please.’

He led her into a small room containing only a TV monitor. The screen was blank.

‘May I smoke?’

‘Sorry.’ Granot reached up and removed the battery from the smoke alarm. ‘It’s not permitted.’

Cristelle lit up, offered him one – he declined – and sucked in a lungful of familiarity.

‘Are you ready?’

A nod.

Granot turned on the TV. He had to admit that in such a short time, Barrau had done a remarkable job on the right-hand half of the drowned woman’s face. And with the mutilated and missing parts of her skull hidden by cloths arranged to mimic bedclothes, the effect was as natural as could be imagined.

‘Mademoiselle, do you recognise your grandmother, Jeanne Honorine Mesnel?’

Shaking, Cristelle blew smoke, whispered that she did and then lost her cordon-bleu evening all over the floor.

‘Léo.’ She groped around in her handbag. ‘I need Léo. I have to call.’

‘What’s his number? I’ll ring him.’ Granot steadied her as she found a tissue. ‘There’s a bathroom across the hall if you want to use it.’

‘No, no.’ She closed her bag. ‘I’ll ring later, it’s alright. Across the hall?’

‘Hang on to my arm, I’ll take you.’

‘You’re very kind, Lieutenant.’

Cristelle’s stomach had settled by the time the police driver returned her to her apartment. She went to bed wondering how long she would have to wait. How long before she could enjoy stretching out in the sun? How long before gazing at the sea through a curtain of fumes would be a thing of the past? Not long, presumably. A smile giving way to a smirk, she lit a cigarette. ‘Thank you, Grand-mère,’ she said aloud. ‘Thank you, at last.’

About the Book:

Captain Paul Darac of the Brigade Criminelle is called to a potential crime scene – an elderly woman found dead in her hot tub. At first it is thought that she died of natural causes, but a surprising link with Darac’s own life leads him to dig deeper. In doing so he uncovers disturbing proof that there may have been a motive to kill the woman, and there is no shortage of suspects…

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Faithless – Kjell Ola Dahl – Blog Tour Review.

Publication Date:Available Now from Orenda

Source: Review Copy

Oslo detectives Gunnarstranda and Frølich are back and this time, it’s personal… When the body of a woman turns up in a dumpster, scalded and wrapped in plastic, Inspector Frank Frølich is shocked to discover that he knows her and their recent meetings may hold the clue to her murder. As he ponders the tragic events surrounding her death, Frølich’s colleague Gunnarstranda investigates a disturbingly similar cold case involving the murder of a young girl in northern Norway and Frølich is forced to look into his own past to find the answers – and the killer – before he strikes again.

Faithless is the first of this series I have read, which was not a problem, the characters round out nicely you don’t feel you have missed anything.

Faithless is more of a slow burner of Nordic Noir, the author bringing many layers to a beautifully atmospheric mystery – Giving one of his main protagonists, Frank, a bit of a headache and drawing the reader into his life and past in a highly intriguing fashion. Brilliantly translated by Don Bartlett, there is a wonderful flow to Faithless that sits well in the Nordic Noir genre, something I read a fair bit because it offers a genuinely different feel to things – Faithless is an excellent example and I’d even say would be a good book to give you a killer start if you’ve not read within these books before.

I was especially impressed and fascinated with the group dynamic Kjell Ola Dahl brings to this novel – with a cold case and a hot case raging on, the various strands and various characters are perfectly placed, it was easy to pick up on some of the history and understand the relationships. The mystery itself has enough twists and turns to keep your brain busy, it was a really really engaging read.

Oh, also, Killer ending. KILLER. Something I’ve been seeing a few times this year in my reading and am loving the sudden crop of authors writing clever and unpredictable finale’s – here is another one. Kudos.

Overall a tense, intelligent and character driven crime mystery that I have no trouble at all recommending. I’m looking forward to reading more in this series as they are translated.

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Dead Woman Walking – Sharon Bolton. Blog Tour Review.

Publication Date: 20th April from Transworld.

Source: Review Copy

Just before dawn in the hills near the Scottish border, a man murders a young woman. At the same time, a hot-air balloon crashes out of the sky. There’s just one survivor.

She’s seen the killer’s face – but he’s also seen hers. And he won’t rest until he’s eliminated the only witness to his crime.

Alone, scared, trusting no one, she’s running to where she feels safe – but it could be the most dangerous place of all.

Another bang on target crime novel from Sharon Bolton  – cleverly twisted plot with some great characters, emotional themes and once more is a genuine page turner. Also Nuns. Loved the Nuns.

This authors plot weaving, game changing, impressively engaging prose is second to none in the crime field really, doesn’t really matter what you expect to get, you’ll end up sent all round the houses and back again. I loved this – clever and totally riveting. Two sisters, a balloon crash, a bad  guy and a gun – edge of the seat stuff but still considered, intelligent plotting and multi-layered characters with an atmospheric sense second to none, that is what you will get here.

The sibling relationship, one both divided and yet solidly together, is one of the stand out layers in “Dead Woman Walking” – Ms Bolton really lays on the emotional trauma, building the tension with short snappy chapters and a slowly drawn out history, but one thing I love more than anything is that she doesn’t need plot devices or cliche’s to keep you guessing or keep you engaged  – the story just pings along with its own sense of self and you are utterly utterly gripped from first page to last.

I won’t give anything away obviously but Dead Woman Walking is truly brilliant, like a movie in book form, pulling you along with the ebb and flow of it, I have to give a nod also to the scene setting which is truly immersive. Loved it.

HIGHLY RECOMMENDED. I went all capital letters and everything…

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The Magicians Lie – Greer Macallister – Blog Tour Review.

Publication Date: Available Now from Legend Press

Source: review copy

The Amazing Arden is the most famous female illusionist of her day, renowned for her notorious trick of sawing a man in half on stage. But one night she swaps her trademark saw for an axe.

When Arden’s husband is found dead later that night, the answer seems clear, most of all to young policeman Virgil Holt.

Captured and taken into custody, all seems set for Arden’s swift confession. But she has a different story to tell. Even handcuffed and alone, Arden is far from powerless, and what she reveals is as unbelievable as it is spellbinding.

I have mixed feelings about The Magician’s Lie (even though I enjoyed it thoroughly) I thought the writing was GREAT, got all caught up in the story then it fell somewhat, away from the description of it. Not necessarily a bad thing but this one does not do what it says on the tin, at least in my opinion. The title suggested some sort of something that never really materialised. The Magician’s life story as told to the policeman that arrested her was highly compelling but somewhat unexpected based on the blurb which seems to imply either a kind of “now you see me” type magic twisty story or at least a strange or unusual outcome.

That was not the case – this was more drama than thriller, more character study than mystery and as THAT it works extremely well. Arden is an intriguing character whose life is fascinating – Virgil is the one chosen to hear her tale and as it unfolds you will find it positively gripping. There is an atmospheric tone to the writing which sets the scene beautifully, there is a wait and see kind of feeling to it, the occasional insight into the world of magic is intriguing and overall this was a wonderful read.

Enjoyable, clever characters and an emotive story make The Magician’s Lie a great story but I would recommend going into it with no expectations and just going with the flow.

 

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Desert Island Discs with David Ross – The Man Who Loved Islands Blog Tour.

David F. Ross: Desert Island Discs

Rather than pick my favourite 10 songs (because that, as any real music obsessive knows, would change every day) I decided to go with ten that I wouldn’t ever get tired of; that I continually return to. So here goes, in playlist order:

01: The Jackson 5, ‘I Want You Back’

For most of his adult life, my dad worked in the vast network of tunnels that ran under the Glasgow Central railway station. My mum worked in a secretarial office at the back of the hotel overlooking the concourse. They met at a Railwayman’s Dance in the Hotel’s function room on Hogmanay 1960. He was 25; she was 20. They got engaged a year later. Before she died in 1972, I visited her at work on a few occasions and I still recall the labyrinthine nature of the corridors and routes in the building that led to her office and that expansive view of all those Lowry-like people moving purposefully around the station. One of my last memories I have of her is of watching her dancing at her desk as ‘I Want You Back’ played on a tiny transistor radio. For those associative reasons – and the fact that it’s simply a phenomenal record – my first choice is ‘I Want You Back’ by The Jackson 5.

02: The Jam ‘That’s Entertainment’

Paul Weller captured much of that humdrum, everyday boredom of teenage life in Thatcher’s Britain in The Jam songs of the late 70s and early 80s. The pinnacle of this is ‘That’s Entertainment’: a song he claims was written in ten minutes after coming home pissed from the pub. It’s a brilliant evocation of those times, and I can identify absolutely with every line. I only hope I can write something which means half as much to other people as this song means to me. I’ll retire happy if I do.

03: Michael Head & The Strands ‘Something Like You’

The second book in the Trilogy – The Rise & Fall of the Miraculous Vespas – is about a Scottish indie band and is set in the early 80s. The Pale Fountains – Michael Head’s first group – would’ve been their contemporaries. When I asked my friend Bobby Bluebell if he might write a new song for my fictional band, to feature in the book itself, the only brief I could give him was for it to feel like ‘Thank You’; a song by Michael that captured my imagination over thirty years ago and has never quite let go since. This is from one of my favourite LPs, ‘The Magical World of the Strands’.

04: Arctic Monkeys, ‘Suck It And See’

Music has changed so much since the days of the Ramones, The Clash, The Pistols etc and not necessarily for the better. It’s virtually inconceivable that a young, enterprising band from a less than privileged background would succeed on their own terms at a national level yet back in the 80s, they were everywhere. One exception to this is the Arctic Monkeys. They are one of my favourite bands in music today. Alex Turner’s lyrics are just brilliant.

My fourth song choice is ‘Suck It And See’ almost solely for the line ‘You’re rarer than a can of Dandelion & Burdock, but those other girls are just Postmix lemonade.’

05: Bettye Swann, ‘Don’t Look Back’

My fifth song choice is a brilliant recording of ‘Don’t Look Back’ by the great Bettye Swann. This effortless version is the rehearsal demo with Betty and just a guitar accompanying her. It’s absolutely spine-tingling. One of the greatest female singers of all-time.

06: Jonathan Richman & The Modern Lovers, ‘She Cracked’

Jonathan Richman is a pioneer. If you listen to The Modern Lovers LP, the band sound fresher than The Strokes, yet it was recorded before they were born. He is to New Wave what Iggy Pop is to punk.

07: The Smiths, ‘Please Please Please, Let Me Get What I Want’

Maybe more than any other, this beautifully brief song sums up the songwriting genius of Morrissey and Marr. There’s a famous story of it being played to Rough Trade company executives and them repeatedly asking ‘Where’s the rest of it?’ But there’s really nothing you could add – or take away – from this song to make it any more perfect. It’s like the Mona Lisa. Beguiling, intriguing and absolutely timeless.

08: Super Furry Animals, ‘Ice Hockey Hair’

My seventh song is ‘Ice Hockey Hair’ by the Super Furry Animals (but it must be the long version). The Super Furry Animals are one of my favourite bands of all time. Gruff Rhys is criminally underrated as a songwriter, and if I was to describe him to anyone I’d said he was Lennon AND McCartney. I was trying to think of what might connect these ten songs, even if it was subliminal, and I think their connection lies in a sort of yearning optimism. I suppose I’m just an optimistic dreamer, which – for an architect/writer – isn’t a bad place to find myself.

09: The Velvet Underground, ‘Heroin’

If you’ve never taken drugs and wanted to know what it might be like, this is as close as you’d get without injecting, ingesting or imbibing. An experimental masterpiece.

10: David Bowie, ‘Life On Mars’

On the 9th January 2016, I was approached to write a live review of the new Blackstar LP. It was a strange vibe that I got from that first listen. I couldn’t quite put my finger on it, and then two days later he was dead. The messages were right there in the lyrics and I – and many others – hadn’t appreciated exactly what he was saying. He’s the most imaginative and influential artist in music history and there most certainly won’t be anyone like him again. I absolutely love what he said about ‘Life On Mars’:

“The song was so easy. Being young was easy. A really beautiful day in the park, sitting on the steps of the bandstand. ‘Sailors bap-bap-bap-bap-baaa-bap.’ An anomic heroine. Middle-class ecstasy. I took a walk to Beckenham High Street to catch a bus to Lewisham to buy some shoes and shirts but couldn’t get the riff out of my head. Jumped off two stops into the ride and more or less loped back to the house up on Southend Road.

I started working it out on the piano and had the whole lyric and melody finished by late afternoon. Nice.’

One of the greatest – if not THE greatest – songs in the English language, knocked off in an afternoon between trips to the shops. Genius.

Link to the songs: https://open.spotify.com/user/dross-gb/playlist/6z6bVkjyJ5Ve2xCwnfOZuz

About the book:

In the early 80s, Bobby Cassidy and Joey Miller were inseparable; childhood friends and fledgling business associates. Now, both are depressed and lonely, and they haven’t spoken to each other in more than 10 years. A bizarre opportunity to honor the memory of someone close to both of them presents itself, if only they can forgive and forget. With the help of the deluded Max Mojo and the faithful Hamish May, can they pull off the impossible, and reunite the legendary Ayrshire band, The Miraculous Vespas, for a one-off Music Festival—The Big Bang—on a remote, uninhabited Scottish island?

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