Published by Headline

Available in ebook, hardback and paperback (17 May 2018)
560 pages

My thanks to Anne Cater of Random Things Tours and Headline for the blog tour invitation to celebrate the paperback release of Freefall. I’m delighted to share a guest post from Adam.


|   About the Book   |



This explosive, pulse-racing thriller is perfect for fans of JACK REACHER and ORPHAN X, with a story as unexpected as a sniper’s bullet. Adam Hamdy’s first PENDULUM novel was called ‘one of the best thrillers of the year’ by JAMES PATTERSON.

Hiding off-grid after exposing the shadowy Pendulum conspiracy, Wallace is horrified to discover he is still marked for death.

DI Patrick Bailey is still reeling from the murder investigation that nearly cost him his life.
FBI Agent Christine Ash is hunting a serial killer with a link to an unfinished case

The death of a London journalist triggers an investigation that brings them back together, hurling them into the path of an unknown enemy.

Hunted across the world, they are plunged into a nightmare deadlier than they could have ever imagined.



by Adam Hamdy

The alarm is set for 7.50, but I’m usually awake before then. My wife makes the children breakfast while I go to my home office and start the day by replying to emails and responding to Twitter. Once the children have gone to school, I’ll have my breakfast, which is usually a glass of water and a couple of spoons of pistachio or cashew nut butter. I injured my Achilles tendon a couple of years ago and, unable to exercise, put on a lot of weight. Six months after the injury, I went to Zip World with a group of friends and was aghast at just how much I’d gained.

There’s nothing like a public weigh-in to spur one to action, and since then I’ve been much more conscious about nutrition and exercise.

I usually start writing at 9.30 and stay off social media while I’m working. I used to be a plotter and planned Freefall in great detail, but my latest book is very different and I’m working from a short synopsis, flying by the seat of my pants. I’m enjoying the process and am very happy with what I’m producing, but will have to read the finished book before deciding whether this will be a permanent switch from plotter to pantser.

My office is a small room in the house. I have a giant desk that’s covered with scraps of paper, index cards and notes, making it look as though a mini tornado has passed through, but I know where everything is. A couple of framed Hapshash and the Coloured Coat prints hang on one wall and there is a framed collection of Pink Floyd album covers and promotional artwork on another. If I’m ever struggling for inspiration, I can generally find something in the Hapshash psychedelic artwork or Pink Floyd’s high concept imagery.

Lunch will usually be a cracker with Roquefort. I love strong flavours and Roquefort has the added benefit of being an anti-inflammatory. There I go being a nutrition bore again…

After lunch, I’ll catch up on emails and make calls. Early afternoon is when I’ll go for a run. Now my Achilles has healed, I aim to cover anywhere from 4 to 13 miles. I’m not fast, but will slog it out and my target is a minimum of 25 miles per week. It’s not just about the health benefits of exercise, something that every sedentary writer needs to be conscious of, getting out for a run or walk also improves cognitive function. In addition to the neurological and physical health benefits of exercise, the brain also likes periods of downtime and will often be crunching through problems when the conscious mind seems to be daydreaming. My runs are my downtime and I’ll often come up with my best ideas when I’m hauling myself along country lanes, admiring the woods and fields of Shropshire.

When I get home, I write for another couple of hours, setting down any ideas I’ve had during the run. When the children get home from school, I spend some time with them, chatting about their day. Twice a week, we’ll go climbing at the local bouldering centre. I’ve been climbing for over twenty years on and off, but it’s only since the children started that it’s become a serious hobby. Anyone who follows me on Twitter will know that we’re often to be found clinging to cliff or mountainside whenever the weather turns fine. It’s an activity that requires one to be in the moment and is very useful for helping work off any stress. It’s also something the whole family can enjoy, regardless of age or ability. Our youngest has been climbing since the age of 3, and topped his first HVS rated 80-foot cliff aged 6.

The evenings are spent making calls to America or researching things I know I’ll need for the following day. The research I do while I’m writing a book tends to be less involved, smaller scale stuff that will help fill in details and provide authenticity. I do most of my in-depth research before I start work on a book or screenplay, often spending months learning about a particular topic. A couple of years ago, I was writing something and needed to know how guns are made. I also thought it would be useful for a thriller author to know what they feel like to shoot, so I spent some time with a leading gunsmith and a local shooting instructor. I now shoot clays competitively at regional competitions whenever I can, so one never knows how research will spill into real life.

I will always read to the children at bedtime. At the moment, I’m reading David Eddings’ Belgariad series with my daughter and The Lord of the Rings with my eldest son, so we’re on a bit of a fantasy vibe in our house.

Dinner is normally at nine and is usually something light like a piece of fish coated with a homemade crumb. My wife and I might talk or watch a film or TV before bed, usually between midnight and 1.00am.

Once a week, I’ll go to London, have lunch with a friend or do something else that takes me out of the house and keeps me connected to the world beyond my head. I’d like to say that weekends are sacrosanct, but I’ll often work Saturday and Sunday, fitting writing around family activities. I take deadlines very seriously and writing during the weekend is one of the only ways to ensure I produce work of a quality that I’m happy with and meet the commitments I’ve made to publishers and producers. It helps that I love what I do, but it’s that passion that can sometimes make it difficult to find a work-life balance.


|   Author Bio   |

Identified as an Amazon Rising Star, British author and screenwriter Adam Hamdy works with studios and production companies on both sides of the Atlantic.

He is the author of the Pendulum trilogy, an epic series of conspiracy thriller novels. James Patterson described Pendulum as ‘one of the best thrillers of the year’, and the novel was a finalist for the Glass Bell Award for contemporary fiction. Pendulum was chosen as book of the month by Goldsboro Books and was selected for BBC Radio 2 Book Club.

Prior to embarking on his writing career, Adam was a strategy consultant and advised global businesses in the medical systems, robotics, technology and financial services sectors.


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A big welcome to Sandra Danby.  Sandra’s latest book ‘Connectedness‘ was published on 10 May and is book number 2 in the Identity Detective series. Sandra has provided a guest post on how she created the character of Justine.


Thank you Tracey Emin

The protagonist in Connectedness, Justine Tree, is a successful but controversial artist. The initial inspiration was Tracey Emin but Justine quickly took on her own quirks. So how did I make Justine into a real person? And how did I get into the head of an artist when I didn’t even take O’Level Art?

Once I decided Justine would be an artist I began to absorb art; visiting exhibitions, reading memoirs and watching television documentaries. This was not hard work as I love art but am an enthusiastic amateur. I even have a box of watercolours, sadly under-used. I decided to visit as many art exhibitions as I could, particularly those of which I knew nothing. This, I hoped, would expand my understanding. It was also fun. Most influential was Tracey Emin and her in-your-face way of baring her emotions in her work. Love her or hate her, everyone has heard about ‘My Bed’ and ‘Everyone I Have Ever Slept With 1963-1995’.

But I never stopped loving you by Tracey Emin. Photo

How would it be, I wondered, if Justine seemed to be like Emin – Justine is criticized in Connectedness as ‘emotionally incontinent’ – but was hiding a secret behind the publicity and controversy. When Justine was an art student she had a baby daughter, later adopted. Connectedness is the story of her struggle twenty-seven years later to find Jenni, but to do this Justine must admit what she did and recognise the lies she has told.

The book most helpful in fine tuning Justine’s daily life as an artist was My Life in a Column, a collection of the newspaper articles written by Emin for The Independent between 2005-2009. As I grew more confident in my subject I felt able to allow Justine to become herself, to develop her own personality. Key to this was the creative force unleashed by her migraines; these headaches are a physical manifestation of her shame at abandoning Jenni and the quantity of lies told afterwards. Here’s a short excerpt:

Today’s pain was black. Black on black. White flashing lights, Titanium White? Justine stood with a microwave-heated wheat pad on her shoulders, a thick fleece hat pulled down over her ears and a ski neck-warmer snuggled up to her chin, wearing sunglasses despite the grey sky outside. She felt feverish and over-medicated, but over the worst.

Scooping a handful of glaziers’ putty from the pot, she spread it thickly across the canvas to represent her skull.

Putty is bone-coloured.

Grey, cream, brain-coloured. Using a tablespoon, she scooped black oil paint from the pot on to the canvas, tipping it this way and that, and then lying it flat. She surveyed the result; the damp putty was slicked over by an oily black sludge. She balled her fist so the bones of her knuckles shone white through her parchment-pale skin, and then hit the canvas in time with the pounding in her head. The chemical smell of the paint made her head spin but it cleared a path through her sinuses and gave her brain a kick-start. After a break to retch in the sink, she added more putty, more black, more drips of Titanium White like splinters of light creeping round the edges of her sunglasses. She pressed the linseed oil putty now, massaging it as if to force the pain away, kneading it like bread dough. Her fingertips left a trail of grease across her temples.

Today’s pain was black with grey.

Afterwards, she felt a kind of relief. As if a headache cleansed, bringing a new emptiness with which to face the day.

So Emin helped me to create Justine’s emotional character, but what about the art she makes? Artist Kurt Jackson was the starting point for my idea of Justine making collages outdoors. He works outdoors on the cliffs of Cornwall, using paint and collaging with sand and found materials. Watch him talk about this process in his short film ‘An Mor Kernewek/Shave Green (2009)’.

Kurt Jackson. Photo

As a teenager, Justine experiences a torment of betrayal, jealousy and anger and begins to paint outdoors. Here’s a short excerpt which in my head is set on a clifftop footpath on Bempton Cliffs, where I grew up:


Knowing she might throw up, Justine ran until she had no breath left, sinking to the ground with a puff of summer dust. She cried for a long time, for lost love and lost friendship and then, recognising betrayal, she got angry. She opened her satchel and took out a sheet of drawing paper, orange furry pencil case and tube of paper glue. She weighed down the paper with lumps of chalk culled from beside the path and then, careless of the dust and grass seed flowing freely in the soft breeze, she created her first collage. A tangle of gull feathers, grass, dock leaves and smears of mud made of the dusty earth mixed with tears. She carried the half-finished jumble to her father’s shed where she carefully dismantled it, sorted and re-assembled it, fixing it together permanently with some plaster-like stuff from his workbench. She rescued a Frosties cereal packet from the dustbin and then, imagining it was the boy’s A-grade physics essay of which he’d been so proud, she tore it into strips. She sat holding a felt tip pen feeling empty of words until they spilled forth from a subconscious thesaurus: Traitor. Betrayal. Envy. Hurt. Jealousy. Theft. Unfair. Friend. Pain. Lies.


|   About the Book   |



Justine’s art sells around the world, but does anyone truly know her? When her mother dies, she returns to her childhood home in Yorkshire where she decides to confront her past. She asks journalist Rose Haldane to find the baby she gave away when she was an art student, but only when Rose starts to ask difficult questions does Justine truly understand what she must face.

Is Justine strong enough to admit the secrets and lies of her past? To speak aloud the deeds she has hidden for 27 years, the real inspiration for her work that sells for millions of pounds. Could the truth trash her artistic reputation? Does Justine care more about her daughter, or her art? And what will she do if her daughter hates her?

This tale of art, adoption, romance and loss moves between now and the Eighties, from London’s art world to the bleak isolated cliffs of East Yorkshire and the hot orange blossom streets of Málaga, Spain.

A family mystery for fans of Maggie O’Farrell, Lucinda Riley, Tracy Rees and Rachel Hore.


About the ‘Identity Detective’ series
Rose Haldane reunites the people lost through adoption. The stories you don’t see on television shows. The difficult cases. The people who cannot be found, who are thought lost forever. Each book in the ‘Identity Detective’ series considers the viewpoint of one person trapped in this horrible dilemma. In the first book of the series, Ignoring Gravity, it is Rose’s experience we follow as an adult discovering she was adopted as a baby. Connectedness is the story of a birth mother and her longing to see her baby again. Sweet Joy, the third novel, will tell the story of a baby abandoned during The Blitz.


|   Author Bio   |


Photo: ion paciu

Sandra Danby is a proud Yorkshire woman, tennis nut and tea drinker. She believes a walk on the beach will cure most ills. Unlike Rose Haldane, the identity detective in her two novels, Ignoring Gravity and Connectedness, Sandra is not adopted.






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Published by Quercus

Available in ebook, hardback (2 November 2017) | Paperback (1 November 2018)

368 pages

Source: Copy provided by the Book People for review

I would like to thank the Book People for providing a copy of The Vanishing Box for review.  They sell a wide range of fiction novels, non-fiction, children’s books and stationery at up to 75% off RRP.  As well being online, they regularly come to our office building with a selection of books  – I don’t usually leave the tables without buying something!


|   About the Book   |


Winter, 1953. A young flower seller is found dead in her room at a Brighton boarding-house, posed with chilling perfection into a recreation of the death of Lady Jane Grey. This is a killer unlike any DI Edgar Stephens has encountered before.

Across the city at the Hippodrome theatre, Max Mephisto is top of the bill in a double act with his daughter Ruby. Tarnishing the experience, though, is one of the other acts: a seedy ‘living tableaux’ show where barely-dressed women strike poses from famous historical scenes. Is the resemblance to the murder scene pure coincidence, or is life imitating art?

When another death occurs – this time within the troupe itself – Max once again finds himself involved in one of Edgar’s cases, and a threat that will come closer to home than anything before. What should be just a job is about to become personal.


|   My Thoughts   |


As many will be aware, Elly Griffiths has two book series in publication, The Ruth Galloway stories and this series, Stephens and Mephisto. I have been collecting most of both series’ over time but this is the first of the Stephens and Mephisto I have read – and I’m jumping in at book 4! Why do I do this to myself!

Although I will definitely go back and read the previous books in the series, because I enjoyed this one so much, I didn’t actually feel at a huge disadvantage by not reading the others. I may have missed out on character development but enough backstory is given throughout to make this an enjoyable reading experience

Set in the early 1950’s, this story could have been the love child of Dixon of Dock Green and Heartbeat. No computers, no mobile phones, no CSI teams or DNA profiling, bobbies on bicycles – it brings it home how very different policing was then compared to the high speed modern policing methods that we take for granted today. I very much doubt you would get a modern day detective taking a box brownie camera to photograph a crime scene as Edgar Stephens did here!

The story is set in Brighton and the author does a convincing job of describing the setting and location, including the main venue, the Brighton Hippodrome; the faded glamour of the public part of the theatre compared to the dark and dingy backstage areas. Set in winter, the snow and icy conditions do their best to hinder the investigation.

Max and Edgar first met during the war and have continued their friendship – the magician and the detective – such an unusual pairing. Although this is a murder mystery, there is gentle quality to the writing and the story is reminiscent of a Golden Age mystery. Griffiths spares no details when describing a crime scene but nothing is unduly graphic or gratuitous.

It is December 1953 and magicians Max Mephisto and his daughter Ruby French are the stars of a two week variety show at the Brighton Hippodrome. ‘The Vanishing Box’ of the title, being part of their act. As well as a comedian and ventriloquist, the performers include a group of young girls who perform a living tableau show comprising of near naked women posing as statues of historical figures, with only strategically placed feathers to hide their modesty. There are of course people who are outraged by such vulgarity but would such a show really incite someone to commit murder?

The first murder occurs at a lodging house where some of the show girls stay. The murderer has staged the body to represent a painting and DI Edgar Stephens and his colleagues Sergeants Emma Holmes and Bob Willis are at a loss to understand why an innocent young woman who works in a flower shop has been killed. When further murders occur, similarly staged, the race is on to find out who and why.

Max Mephisto is in his mid 40s and is an intriguing character, it felt as though he had come to a crossroads, both in his personal and professional life. No doubt his character has been built up from the previous books and this is one reason why I want to catch up. He appears to have acquired a grown up daughter from a previous relationship and although they work well together on stage, the personal relationship between him and Ruby feels a little awkward at times, as if they are still getting used to each other. To make the connection with Mephisto and the detective even more complicated, Ruby is engaged to DI Edgar Stephens – surely a conflict of interests at times there!

I actually didn’t have a clue who the murderer was, the red herrings and subtle misdirection certainly fooled me. Griffiths does a really good job of keeping the interest and suspense going throughout whilst evoking the period atmosphere of the 1950s. As a crime story with a bygone feel to it, one to recommend.  I certainly enjoyed it.

|   Author Bio   |


Elly Griffiths was born in London. The inpsiration for her books about forensic archaeologist Ruth Galloway came from her husband who gave up a city job to train as an archaeologist. Elly lives near Brighton but often spends holidays on the wild Norfolk coast. She has two children and a cat.


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Published by Bloodhound Books ( 7 May 2018)

Available in ebook and paperback

   244 pages

Source: ARC/review copy


|   About the Book   |


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

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

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

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

But who really did murder Paul?

The truth is never straightforward…


|  Review  |


Life as she knows it ends for Julie when Paul, her husband of 20 years, forgets his phone and she sees some compromising texts. The only thing that stops her from confronting him straight away is the fact that their son Dan is sitting his final school exams and is stressed enough already. However once they are over she intends to deal with it. Unfortunately for her she never gets the chance because a short time after Paul is found dead and it transpires not from natural causes. Of course the police make Julie their number one suspect and she ends up in a whole heap of trouble. Her nightmare begins!

With a cast of duplicitous and unreliable characters, this story is pure suspense. I didn’t find it easy to engage with Julie and at times found it difficult to get on her side.  The story is told from her perspective and there were times when I wanted to shake some sense into her as some of her actions seemed so ridiculous and each bad decision led to another bad outcome.  Then, there were other occasions when I felt immense sympathy for her, especially when having to deal with Dan’s grandparents who were not the easiest of in-laws.

The suspense increases throughout the book as we follow Julie’s attempts to find out who killed her husband, leading to a dramatic conclusion. Many of the characters are either unlikeable and/or untrustworthy and when those closest to her distance themselves from her it was clear that she was on her own and it was up to her to prove her innocence.

Having read and enjoyed a few of Leigh’s longstanding police procedural series, I was looking forward to a change of direction with this standalone thriller. I have to be honest. I wasn’t entirely convinced about some aspects of the story; I’m not a fan of first person narratives generally and I think that’s probably why the book didn’t entirely work for me. This is just my personal opinion and other people will have their own preferences. Having said that, I did enjoy it, it was an extremely readable and addictive story and unusually for me, I raced through it in just a few hours.

I understand that this is the author’s first psychological thriller, in which case it gets off to a flying start. I look forward to seeing what she comes up with next time.


My thanks to Sarah Hardy and Bloodhound Books for the tour invite and the ARC to review.


At the time of publishing this post, The Adulterer’s Wife can be downloaded from Amazon UK for 99p



|   Author Bio   |


Leigh Russell, author of the internationally bestselling Geraldine Steel crime series, has sold well over a million books worldwide.
Her novels have been translated into Chinese, French, German, Italian, and Turkish. Reaching #1 on Kindle, her books have been selected as Best Fiction Book of the Year by the Miami Examiner, voted Best Crime Fiction Book of the Year in Crime Time, a Top Read on Eurocrime and shortlisted for the John Creasey New Blood CWA Dagger Award, long listed for the CWA Dagger in the Library Award, and a finalist for the People’s Book Prize.

Leigh studied at the University of Kent, gaining a Masters degree in English. She serves on the board of the Crime Writers Association, chairs the Debut Dagger Judges, and is a Royal Literary Fellow



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Published by Avon

Available in ebook and paperback : 19 April 2018

416 pages

Welcome to my turn on the publisher blog tour for Guilt. My thanks to Sabah of Avon for the invitation.  I reviewed Amanda’s first book Obsession here on the blog but sadly haven’t had time to read this in time for the tour. Instead I have an extract to share.


|   About the Book   |


Your sister. Her secret. The betrayal.

There is no bond greater than blood . . .

When the body of a woman is found stabbed to death, the blame falls to her twin sister. But who killed who? And which one is now the woman behind bars?

Zara and Miranda have always supported each other. But then Zara meets Seb, and everything changes. Handsome, charismatic and dangerous, Seb threatens to tear the sisters’ lives apart – but is he really the one to blame? Or are deeper resentments simmering beneath the surface that the sisters must face up to?

As the sisters’ relationship is stretched to the brink, a traumatic incident in Seb’s past begins to rear its head and soon all three are locked in a psychological battle that will leave someone dead. The question is, who?

Claustrophobic and compelling, Amanda Robson is back in a knock-out thriller perfect for fans of B.A. Paris and Paula Hawkins.




The following Saturday, despite my reticence, I find myself walking along with you towards Sebastian’s parents’ house. When we arrive, I lift the large stone hidden beneath the choisya bush by the front gate to retrieve the spare keys. As we walk to the front door I feel them jangling in my pocket, making me feel guilty.

We pad up the driveway, past the immaculately ironed front lawn. Past the rest of the carefully designed shrub border. I ring the bell. Footsteps in the hallway. Someone is opening the door. I can’t bear this. I wish I was invisible. I am so tense. I close my eyes and open them again. Sebastian is standing in front of us. He looks unkempt. He hasn’t shaved. His hair needs washing. He has dark circles beneath his eyes from lack of sleep.

‘Oh my God, Zara, Miranda, what are you both doing here?’ he asks.

‘We could ask you the same thing,’ I reply.

‘I’ll leave you two to talk,’ you say.

I hear your footsteps crunch across the stones of the driveway as you step away. Miranda, I am so glad you are going. I want to sort this out in my own way. Sebastian and I stand looking at each other. I am not sure which of us is more surprised. He isn’t smiling, but he doesn’t look angry. My stomach is churning. My heart is racing.

‘Come in. Let’s talk about this,’ he says softly.

Perhaps his parents are here. Perhaps I will meet them now. But as soon as I step inside I feel only silence, and I know they are not here.

‘Why didn’t you go to the Lake District? Where are your family?’

‘Come into the sitting room, and I’ll explain.


At the time of this post, Guilt can be downloaded from Amazon UK for 99p



|   Author Bio   |

After graduating, Amanda Robson worked in medical research at The London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine, and at the Poisons Unit at Guy’s Hospital where she became a co-author of a book on cyanide poisoning – a subject which has set her in good stead for writing her dark and twisting novel about love affairs gone wrong. Amanda attended the Faber novel writing course and writes full-time. Obsession is her debut novel.


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