Published by Pan Macmillan

ebook and paperback : 30 November 2017

432 pages



It’s a pleasure to be taking part in the launch celebrations for Brighter Days Ahead by Mary Wood and my thanks to Kate Green at Pan for including me on the tour.  For my turn today, Mary has kindly answered a few questions.

 

 

It’s a pleasure to welcome you to the blog Mary, would you please introduce yourself and tell us a little about your background?

I’m excited to be here as part of my first book tour, thank you for having me.

I’m a grandmother and great grandmother, who realised my dream at the age of 68. A dream, that started when I was in my childhood – I always wanted to do what others had done before me. I had aunts who were nuns, and so for a short time, I had a desire to do the same and became very holier than thou!

But then, I latched on to the stories of my great grandmother, who had been a published author, and that become my burning passion to achieve.

When I read a book, I wanted to have written it.

Back then opportunities for someone of a poor background were limited, and for a girl, well, your chances halved, not only of achieving your dream, but of even being taken seriously.

I was born into a family of fifteen, and to a mother who came from an upper-middle class background, and had been highly educated.

A bit of a rebel as a young girl, she’d gone against her father’s orders and attended the local cinema. Back in the twenties, this was something of a rarity. And not the usual activity that a young lady was encouraged to do.

She waited until the film had begun before slipping inside. There she found total darkness. She stumbled to a seat and promptly sat on the knee of a man who was to become her husband.

From a large family of East End market gardeners, Dad was from a much different background than Mum. But love is a strong pull, and against her father’s wishes and at the cost of being banished from her family home, they married.

Mum instilled in us children, all that she had been taught, that we could become whatever we wanted to, and that there was no such word as ‘can’t’. It was this that kept the flame alive in me, and kept me putting pen to paper. Very much helped by the reading list available to me.

Mum had brought with her, many of her books from her past life, and used the library and postal book clubs to feed her need to always have a book on the go. I didn’t know another child amongst the families around, who were all in the same boat as us as regards lack of material wealth, who had recourse to so much varied reading material, from the classics to Agatha Christie. I devoured every book as soon as my mum finished reading it. And so, the seed was set.

 

Without giving away too much information, can you please tell us a little about your latest novel, Brighter Days Ahead? Where did the inspiration for the story come from?

Inspiration came from the sudden emergence into the public eye of Bletchley Park and the activities that had gone on there during the war. It seemed the perfect setting for a gritty, emotional novel. That is until I spoke to a lady who worked there during the war and works there still, but now in the role of voluntary helper.

She told me that their work was mundane, tiring and the hours were long, leaving little time to have fun. The fun they had was when they had days off and went up to London.

With this information I began to imagine what visiting London was like with the Blitz in progress, and my story took shape. For now, there was to be two main settings, Bletchley and The Blitz

Based on friendship, Brighter Days Ahead, is a powerful story of courage. It brings together young people from different backgrounds and entwines their stories.

And so, we have a mix of characters playing out an emotional, and thrilling drama – Molly, forced into prostitution. Flo a girl from a poor background, but with a brilliant mind, who finds herself working in Bletchley with girls far above her station. Two gay men, who live in fear of discovery, and the consequence when that happens, and a young woman who has fallen for a fellow student, whom war turns into the enemy and brings about a tragedy that is hard for them all to rise from.

During it all, London is being bombed, lives are torn apart and devastated.

Flo rises to this challenge, and becomes the rock that all depend upon, especially Molly as she fights against forces that would see her murdered if she crosses them.

But, as the title suggests, there are Brighter Days Ahead, and for those who survive, happiness awaits.

 

You have also written a gangland thriller under the name of Molly Kent. Do you find it easy to switch between genres?

Yes, as for me, it doesn’t feel like a switch as there is an element of the thriller genre to all of my books. My sagas are often described as ‘thrilling dramas’.

The main difference is that in a Gangland Thriller, I can push the boundaries and be even more grittier than I usually am.

Writing, The Sweet Taste of Revenge, was something that I needed to do. I wanted to venture further into the underworld. The book has been a self-publishing success, but I’m not sure that I will ever write another, as I have found that my heart is in sagas.

In sagas, you have a world of different lives and situations to call upon. You can take your readers into the past to see life as their grandparents lived it, but gangland is just that – sleaze, violence, drugs and murder. I feel as though I have done that,been there and got the T. Shirt. A writer’s whim.

 

How did you plan/research your books? Do you plot in detail or just see where the story takes you?

Both. I plot in detail, and then the story takes me. That’s the excitement of it all – you never know what is going to happen, like reading a book, rather than writing one, or watching a film. Though often, and I am going to sound weird now, I feel as though what I write really happened, and that the characters are telling me their story.

But having a plan, an outline of the story, is very important, as it keeps you knowing where you are going, and what is your basic premise. And, if you find you have written yourself into a corner, then referring to your original synopsis helps you to get back on track.

At best, it is a security blanket, as you know, by writing it, that you do have a full story. A beginning, middle and end, and that gives you confidence to write those first, all important words, and to carry through with your novel.

 

What is the best writing advice that you have received?

Again, this will sound odd, but it was something my brother-in-law said to me after I had received, yet another rejection and was stamping my feet. He said:

‘Look, Mary, you are a writer, nothing can put doubt on that. You’re a born story-teller, but, you need to learn your craft. Look on it like this: A DIY man can make a table that is fit for purpose. But a time-served carpenter, could make a much better table, that isn’t only fit for purpose, but is finished well, is built to last and is good to look upon. But, then again, a Craftsman, can make a table that is a thing of beauty, and will be admired for its bevelled edges and carved legs and deep polish. Everyone will want to own one of his tables and he will receive many commissions. You should aim to be that Craftsman.’

And, so I did. From a practical point of view, I couldn’t to go to college, so I bought, ‘How To’ books and studied them. I read books with a different eye, not for enjoyment, but to learn how it was done. I studied creative writing on line, until I felt ready. Then I returned to my work and knew why I was always being rejected. An exciting time, as I now could bring my stories to life. So, my message is simple. Don’t think that you can do it. Learn how to.

 

You started by self-publishing your novels before going on to be published by Pan Macmillan. What advice would you give to anyone trying to get their novel published? Is there anything that you wished you had done differently?

I wished that I had learned my craft many years before I did.

And to others, I would say, that if you have. If you are the best writer that you can be, then decide which route you want to take.

Writers are lucky today, they can showcase their work, build a readership and earn money from their writing without even crossing a publisher’s path. But that isn’t what all writers want to do, or where they want to be.

I had a burning desire to see my work on the shelves. I couldn’t achieve that. And so, I took a friend’s advice and self-published on kindle. This led to an amazing success as all my books reached number one in genre. And this in turn led me to being spotted by Pan Macmillan and I have never looked back.

This is a good route to take, as I have heard it said that kindle is the new slush pile. When looking for new talent, scouts will often trawl the charts and the performance of books in the genre they are interested in. Me and many of my friends have been spotted this way.

However, the tried and tested method still exists. So, if you want to be traditionally published, don’t be afraid to go the traditional way. Research agents, find one that handles your kind of material, then research what submission those agents require, and give it your very best shot. I also have many author friends that were discovered this way, so it does happen.

In the end, it is down to knowing your craft so that your work shines out. If it does, it will succeed in the home you want for it. But be prepared to fight for your work, and give it the best chance that you can. Polish, and present it in its perfection.

 

Is there any part of the writing process which you enjoy (or find the most difficult) – i.e. researching, writing, editing?

I think all authors will say that writing is the best part, with research coming second, and editing a very poor last.

Though I do enjoy editing the first draft. That is a time when many aspects of the story come to shine, others are dead in the water and have to be cut, and you can breathe life into what are good scenes, and make them great.

It is when your work comes back from the edits given it by your editors that the murder rises in your heart. Your wonderful work has been almost trashed, and nearly all of the black letters have turned red! A daunting task lies ahead of you. However, one well worth doing, as the end result, is that a butterfly emerges from a chrysalis.

An author is nothing without her editor. And we have to accept that the two disciplines are very different crafts. A good novel needs both.

 

Do you have any favourite books or authors which may have inspired you? What type of book do you enjoy reading for pleasure, and what are you reading now?

I am a very poor reader… a terrible admission for an author, when all the advice is that we should read widely, but I don’t have the time. I write three books a year. And, I find that I don’t get the enjoyment from reading that I used to do.

I find myself critiquing the work instead of losing myself in it. I do have to address this as I know that I am missing out on so much. There are so many wonderful authors out there, whose work I know I would enjoy, if only I could get past this, looking for different ways that I would have written the story!!

I may start to give audio a go as I used to love to listen to a drama on Radio four, or a book being read.

I was an avid reader, pre-writing days and was inspired by the wonderful Catherine Cookson. And I have taken inspiration, in my learning days, from Penny Vincenzi. I love how she constructs a novel, giving each character a chapter and often follow that style myself.

I yearn to read the classics again, and these influence my choice in your last question. Maybe doing so, will help me to get back to what was once my main leisure activity in life – reading.

 

When you’re not writing, what do you do to relax?

I love to be with my family. Sundays, when it is possible to get together, we do. This isn’t too often, so it is a joy when it happens, or we travel to the Midlands to be with our family who live there and have a get together at one of their houses. These are the times that little ones play happily together, and grown-ups sit in the garden, or in the house and chat, reminisce, and laugh with each other.

And, I love social media, in particular, my book page on Facebook – Books by Mary Wood. As it is such a lovely place to be, and my followers are so nice to relax with. They are also my friends, and provide a lovely community of the old style, when everyone looked out for each other. They encourage me along too.

I enjoy word games – scrabble and word find, and card games – all on computer these days, which is a shame as when young, these were our main activity in our leisure time with family and friends.

I love my time in Spain, where I spend six months every winter. I immerse myself in the way of life, become laid-back and my writing flows. I eat my meals in the sunshine at pavement café’s or on my sun terrace. And my sun terrace becomes my office as I sit of a lounger and type away, warmed by the gentle winter-sun rays.

 

Finally,

If you could take 3 books to a desert island, which ones would it be and why?

A dessert island would be amazing for a short time as I could revisit the love I had for reading. But, I would forget to look after myself, and cannot see me being able to hunt for food, so would need to take a Man/Woman Friday with me.

Now, which books? I would take three classics that I particularly loved in my younger days. as it is sixty years since I read them, and cannot find the time to read them again.

Louise May Alcott’s, Little Women, Little Men and Jo’s Boys. I would so love to read them all again.

Oh, but what about Charles Dickens, and the Bronte’s . . . Oh dear, I’m in a quandary now!

I have enjoyed my time with you, and have loved answering your questions. Thank you again for having me. Much love to you and to your followers, Mary Wood.

 

Many thanks Mary for taking the time to answer my questions.   Brighter Days Ahead is now available to buy from all good bookshops.

 

|   About the Book   |

 

War pulled them apart, but can it bring them back together?

Molly lives with her repugnant father, who has betrayed her many times. From a young age, living on the
streets of London’s East End, she has seen the harsh realities of life . . . When she’s kidnapped by a gang and forced into their underworld, her future seems bleak.

Flo spent her early years in an orphanage, and is about to turn her hand to teacher training. When a kindly teacher at her school approaches her about a job at Bletchley Park, it could be everything she never knew she wanted.

Will the girls’ friendship be enough to weather the hard times ahead?

 

|   About the author   |

 

Born in Maidstone, Kent, in 1945, the thirteenth child of fifteen children, Mary’s family settled in Leicestershire after the war ended.

Mary married young and now, after 54 years of happy marriage, four children, 12 grandchildren and many great-grandchildren, Mary and her husband live in Blackpool during the summer and Spain during the winter – a place that Mary calls, ‘her writing retreat’.

After many jobs from cleaning to catering, all chosen to fit in with bringing up her family, and boost the family money-pot, Mary ended her 9 – 5 working days as a Probation Service Officer, a job that showed her another side to life, and which influences her writing, bringing a realism and grittiness to her novels

Mary first put pen to paper, in 1989, but it wasn’t until 2010 that she finally found some success by self-publishing on kindle.

Being spotted by an editor at Pan Macmillan in 2013, finally saw Mary reach her publishing dream.

When not writing, Mary enjoys family time, reading, eating out, and gardening. One of her favourite pastimes is interacting with her readers on her Facebook page. www.facebook.com/HistoricalNovels.  Mary welcomes all contact with her readers and feedback on her work.

 

Author Links:  Website   |   Twitter   |   Facebook   |   Amazon UK   |   Goodreads

 

Published by Crooked Cat Books

ebook & paperback : 14 November 2017

249 pages



The House at Ladywell is described on Amazon as a ‘mystery romance’ and I’m delighted to welcome to the blog, author Nicola Slade with a guest post.

 

Digging deep and finding treasure!

I’m a bit of a squirrel, a hoarder, and our house groans under the weight of blue-and-white china, bits of Victorian glass – and books – of course there are books, wall-to-wall and floor-to-ceiling. Luckily I also hoard almost everything I’ve ever written because the first version of The House at Ladywell was actually written in 1996!

Aga Sagas were the thing at the time and I thought I’d have a go at one, though I remember thinking it was more of a ceramic hob saga, not so much set in a Georgian rectory as in a very old, run-down house in a small market town. My then agent sent it off – and back it came, again and again. The comments were of the ‘good but no cigar’ variety and eventually the agent and I parted company and the book was consigned to the dungeons until, nearly three years ago, a friend remarked that she’d always liked the book about a house, and why didn’t I take another look at it?

I was writing another book at the time, but I did take a look, and I liked the story, so I set about cutting it down from 115,000 words (!) to 80k. I got rid of huge chunks of it and delved into the history of the house, finding – to my astonishment – that I needed to go as far back as Roman Britain. I was hooked; I’ve always been a history nerd, so I wrote seven ‘episodes’ from the house’s history.

How to mingle a present-day romantic affair with centuries of family life was the next challenge. I tried a linear style: begin at the beginning, ie around 4th Century AD and carry on until now. It didn’t work out because it wasn’t engaging, so I wrote the contemporary romantic story which has the protagonist, quite out of the blue, inheriting the house from an unknown relative.

It’s a familiar scenario but I filtered the historic ‘echoes’ into the narrative so that the reader always knows more than Freya, the heroine – a device I’ve always liked myself. So satisfying to know the truth behind the puzzle and to be one step ahead of the characters in the book. My lovely Beta readers thought it worked just fine so that’s where I went and although Freya does find out some of the house’s story, the reader always knows that little bit more.

The House at Ladywell is set in a small Hampshire market town half-way between Winchester and Southampton. My town is called Ramalley but it bears a very close resemblance to the real town of Romsey, though I’ve given it a priory rather than an abbey and a river where the A27 really runs!

Having written six cosy murder mysteries in succession, I did wonder how readers would take to a romantic/historical novel but luckily they seem to like it. And there are a couple of murders anyway, albeit in the historical interludes. I don’t think I could write a novel without killing someone!

 

 

 

 

 

 

|   About the Book    |

A hare carved in stone and the scent of flowers in a house full of echoes – can Freya’s inheritance help her to leave the past behind?

Had I gone completely crazy that first day? To open the door, take one astonished look round, and decide on the spot that I would live there?
To fall in love with a house?’

When Freya Gibson inherits an old, run-down property she has no idea she is the last in a long line of redoubtable women, including the Tudor nun who built the house. Unknown to Freya these women, over centuries, fought with whatever weapons came to hand – deception, endurance, even murder – to preserve their home and family.

Freya falls in love with the house but her inheritance includes an enigmatic letter telling her to ‘restore the balance’ of the Lady’s Well. Besides this, the house seems to be haunted by the scent of flowers.

In the past the Lady’s Well was a place of healing and Freya soon feels safe and at home, but she has demons of her own to conquer before she can accept the happiness that beckons.

 

|   About the Author   |

 

All my novels are set in or near Winchester. My first novel was a romantic comedy, ‘Scuba Dancing’, published by Transita Ltd in 2005. After that I branched out into the first of a series of Victorian mysteries: ‘Murder Most Welcome’,published by Robert Hale Ltd, featuring Charlotte Richmond, a young widow in the 1850s. The second of the series is ‘Death is the Cure’, and Charlotte’s third adventure is ‘The Dead Queen’s Garden’.

My contemporary cosy mystery series features Harriet Quigley, a former headmistress, and her sidekick and cousin, Rev Sam Hathaway. They first appeared in ‘Murder Fortissimo’, published by Hale, and secondly in ‘A Crowded Coffin’. Harriet’s third outing is ‘The Art of Murder’ published September 2016 by Endeavour Press. Ebook and paperback.   My eighth novel, ‘The House at Ladywell’, a contemporary romantic novel with historical interludes, was published by Crooked Cat Books in November 2017, in ebook and paperback.

My novels have received praise for their humour and the eccentricity of some of the characters, as well as depth and sensitivity in the writing.
I live in Hampshire with my husband and with family nearby and visiting often. I’m also an artist and have had paintings exhibited in various places, including the Southampton Art Gallery and at Mottisfont Abbey.

 

Author Links:  Website   |   Twitter   |   Facebook   |   Amazon UK    |  Goodreads

 

Publisher: Orenda Books

15 November 2017

276 pages

Source: Advanced Reading Copy


The CWA Anthology of Short Stories has been edited by author Martin Edwards and is available in ebook, hardback and paperback.  I’m delighted to be sharing my review for this tour spot and please do check down at the end of the post as I have a giveaway for a signed paperback copy courtesy of contributing author William McCormick.

 

|   About the Book   |

 

Crime spreads across the globe in this new collection of short stories from the Crime Writer’s Association, as a conspiracy of prominent crime authors take you on a world mystery tour. Highlights of the trip include a treacherous cruise to French Polynesia, a horrifying trek in South Africa, a murderous train-ride across Ukraine and a vengeful killing in Mumbai. But back home in the UK, life isn’t so easy either. Dead bodies turn up on the backstreets of Glasgow, crime writers turn words into deeds at literary events, and Lady Luck seems to guide the fate of a Twickenham hood. Showcasing the range, breadth and vitality of the contemporary crime-fiction genre, these twenty-eight chilling and unputdownable stories will take you on a trip you’ll never forget.

 

Contributions from:
Ann Cleeves, C.L. Taylor, Susi Holliday, Martin Edwards, Anna Mazzola, Carol Anne Davis, Cath Staincliffe, Chris Simms, Christine Poulson, Ed James, Gordon Brown, J.M. Hewitt, Judith Cutler, Julia Crouch, Kate Ellis, Kate Rhodes, Martine Bailey, Michael Stanley, Maxim Jakubowski, Paul Charles, Paul Gitsham, Peter Lovesey, Ragnar Jónasson, Sarah Rayne, Shawn Reilly Simmons, Vaseem Khan, William Ryan and William Burton McCormick

 

|  My Thoughts  |

 

Although I sometimes read a short story as a filler between books, I don’t often read a complete book of them.  Not because I don’t like them but I would usually rather get my nose into a full length book. BUT this collection was irresistible and I couldn’t say no.   An array of stories written by some of my favourite authors – what’s not to like!

All the stories have a travel theme.  From a deserted Thai island, to Iceland, to Prague – a cruise to the islands around New Zealand.  You really will feel as though you are armchair travelling.

Some of the stories are longer than others, one in particular is less than 2 pages however more fear and suspense has been conveyed in those few paragraphs than you might find in a full length novel.

I had my favourites and as I suspected, there were one or two that although so well executed didn’t quite do it for me but for a short story crime collection this was a brilliant showcase for both well known authors and those who work is not so well known.

I don’t know if anyone else remembers the TV programme from yesteryear, ‘Tales of the Unexpected’. That haunting theme tune was often in my head when reading these.  That ‘twist in the tale’ concept was very much prevalent here with many stories having a theme of revenge and retribution.

This is an excellent collection of stories that you can either read one after the other, or, as I did – dipping in and out and reading a mixture of authors both known and new to me.

One final thought – if Susi Holliday ever invites you on a hiking trip – just say no!

 

My thanks to Karen Sullivan and Anne Cater for the review copy and for including me on the tour.

 

 

|   About the editor|

Martin Edwards has published eighteen novels, including the Lake District Mysteries. The Golden Age of Murder won the Edgar, Agatha, H.R.F. Keating, and Macavity awards. He has edited thirty-five crime anthologies and has won the CWA Short Story Dagger, the CWA Margery Allingham Prize and the Poirot award. He is president of the Detection Club and current chair of the CWA.

 

***   GIVEAWAY   ***

Thanks to author William McCormick for offering a signed paperback copy of the CWA Anthology to one winner.  The giveaway is open internationally and the publisher will be responsible for sending the book.

The giveaway will end at midnight on 3 December 2017 (UK time) and I will notify the winner by email and/or Twitter asking for their postal address in order that I can pass on to the publisher.  If no response is received within 72 hours then I reserve the right to select an alternative winner.

Please enter using the Rafflecopter box below – please do ensure you complete the options correctly otherwise your entry won’t be registered.

Good luck!

 

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Published by Caffeine Nights Publishing

9 November 2017

256 pages


My thanks to Caroline at Bits About Books for including me on the blog tour for You’re Next, a DS Scarlett Macey crime thriller.  For my turn today, I have a guest post from Michael with a character feature of Scarlett, together with an extract of the first chapter.

 

A Day in the Life of Scarlett Macey

 

All about the main character of You’re Next by Michael Fowler!

 

Scarlett’s week is so hectic and messed up because of the nature of her work – her schedule means regular meal times are a luxury, it’s generally fast-food on the hoof – that when she has a day off she totally goes for the unwind.

On day one she’ll have a lie in, then do a mad shop, splashing out on decent grub to ease her guilt, and she’ll also add to her credit card with some clothes shopping, even though her wardrobes are full to bursting. In the afternoon she’ll go for an hour’s run along the banks of the Thames, or maybe take out ‘Bonnie,’ her classic Triumph Bonneville motorbike, going for a blast down to Brighton and back.

Either of those sessions gives her the adrenaline rush she thrives upon. Then, it’s a long soak in the bath, and if a girl’s night is on the schedule, it’s hitting the bars in Richmond, with her friends, who are generally her colleagues as well and so work is never far from her thoughts or conversation.

Recently though, she’s got back into a relationship with a previous boyfriend, Alex, and so she is able to switch off from her work, finding her thoughts very much on him, spending her hours wining and dining and having early nights.

 

Extract

You’re Next: Chapter One

 

In the Witness Room of Croydon Law Courts, Detective Sergeant Scarlett Macey was watching the clock above the door to Court One and taking slow, deep breaths, trying her best to calm her nerves; this wasn’t unusual – she always felt like this at court, though today her anxiety level was up a few more points than usual. Today it was the opening session of one of her biggest cases to date – the trial of serial rapist James Green. It had been four months since she had ended ‘The Lycra Rapist’s’ reign of terror.

Earlier that morning, while going through her statement over breakfast, flashbacks of the case had visited Scarlett. In particular, snapshots of the self-righteous grin Green had tormented her with throughout his interview. She wondered if he was still so full of himself, having spent the first four months of this year behind bars?

Seeing James Green remanded to prison by the Magistrates had been one of her most gratifying moments as a detective. His incarceration had brought relief to the female population of Richmond in general and students in particular: last summer four young women had been sexually assaulted, and three others raped, by a knife wielding, Lycra-clad, maniac. Scarlett ended his campaign when she caught him in a sting operation – an undercover officer, posing as a student, had lured him into an attack.

Being caught in the act should have made things easy but the interview that followed had been frustrating – he’d denied everything, despite being identified, even having the audacity to state that he didn’t attack the undercover officer, but ‘merely pushed her away’, because he believed she was a prostitute propositioning him for sex. Scarlett had taken an instant dislike to his conceited arrogance, and took great pleasure in facing him in the custody suite and charging him with three rapes and an attempted rape, the day after his arrest. She’d felt even greater satisfaction in childishly waving him off in the prisoner transport bus to High Down Prison, where he had since been detained.
Since then, because of other pressing matters within the department, his arrest had drifted into distant memory, but had resurrected itself over the past couple of days as Scarlett focused on preparing herself for the trial. In particular, it had invaded her thoughts last night, unsettling her sleep as she rehearsed a list of answers for the tough line of expected questions from the defence. In spite of feeling tired, she had arisen in buoyant mood.

Now though Scarlett wasn’t feeling so upbeat. For the past ten minutes she’d been sitting at a table in the witness room, switching her gaze between the clock and the blank screen of her BlackBerry, trying her best to hide her concern. It was 10 a.m. and her main witness had not yet arrived.

She had rung Claudette Jackson yesterday afternoon to check she was okay – one of the many reassuring calls Scarlett had made during these past four months – and although Claudette’s voice had sounded fragile she’d confirmed she was still prepared to give evidence against the man who had viciously raped her. Scarlett had ended the call by asking her to be at court for 09.30, so that they could go through her evidence one final time before the trial started. Claudette not being here was worrying; she was their last opportunity to prosecute serial rapist Green: since his remand, the Crown Prosecution Service had veen forced to drop two of the rape charges because both of his victims had been deemed medically unfit to give evidence, one of the girls had been hospitalized after a nervous breakdown and then diagnosed with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, while the other had been so disturbed since the attack that she had locked herself away in her bedroom and refused to speak to Scarlett: a month ago she had also been diagnosed with PTSD.

Over the past quarter of an hour Scarlett had called Claudette’s mobile every couple of minutes but it had rung out and then diverted to voicemail. She had left messages for Claudette to ring her back, but the pleas had gone unanswered. The last time she had rung – two minutes earlier – Scarlett had tried to hide the tension in her voice.

‘She’s probably got stuck in traffic.’

DC Tarn Scarr’s voice broke Scarlett’s concentration. Dragging her gaze away from her BlackBerry, she eyed her working partner seated opposite. He was leaning back on his chair fiddling with his dark blue tie, tightening the knot into his white button-down collar. She gave a worried half smile, ‘I hope so. I hope it’s nothing else. She was nervous on the phone yesterday. I hope she’s not had second thoughts.’
‘You worry too much Scarlett. Claudette’ll be here. She said so, didn’t she?’ He finished with his tie, flicked away invisible flecks from it.
Scarlett smiled to herself. Tarn had fussed over his appearance throughout the four years she’d known him. He was the best dressed guy in the office and checked himself every time he passed a mirror. All the Homicide Squad pulled his leg about it. Scarlett glanced down at the blank screen of her phone again, willing it to ring. ‘I told her to be here for 9.30, that the court started at ten. It’s gone ten o’clock now.’
‘Only just. Give her another couple of minutes and then try her again.’ Tarn pulled the front of his jacket together and scrutinised the alignment.

Scarlett was about to respond when the door to the courtroom opened and in walked the CPS barrister leading their case. Scarlett had first met Katherine Nicholson six weeks earlier at a pre-trial review of the evidence. Katherine was in her late forties, but her unblemished features made her look younger. She was in court attire, wig partly overing a shoulder length bob of shiny light brown hair. The first time Scarlett had set eyes upon her across the conference table she’d admired how elegant Katherine looked. If things hadn’t turned out the way they had for her, maybe Scarlett could have been a barrister, enjoying the lifestyle trappings that came with it, instead of being a put-upon Detective Sergeant in an overstretched Homicide Squad.

A welcoming smile on her face, the barrister made a beeline for her. Scarlett stood.

‘James Green is downstairs in the cells. Are we all good to go?’ Katherine asked cheerily, rubbing her hands.

‘We are,’ Scarlett replied, pointing to herself and Tarn, ‘but our main witness is not here yet.’

Katherine’s smile disappeared and her face creased into a frown. ’Delayed?’ Scarlett shrugged. ‘Don’t’ know. I’ve tried ringing her mobile and she’s not answering. I rang her yesterday afternoon and confirmed everything with her. I don’t know where she is.’
The barrister pushed back the sleeve of her gown and glanced at her watch, ‘Well they’re just selecting the jury now. The trial’s scheduled for starting at eleven – in fifty minutes’ time. Does she live far away?’

‘Twickenham.’

Well, look, can I suggest you get yourselves over to her place and see what’s happening with her? I’ll go and have a word with the judge and request a short adjournment. I’m sure he’ll approve, he knows of the difficulties we’ve had with the other witnesses in this case.’ She looked at her watch again. ‘I’ll ask for a twelve o’clock start. Meet me back here at quarter to twelve.’ With a reassuring smile, she turned on her heels and made her way back to the courtroom door.

Scarlett scooped up her bag and phone, nodded at Tarn for them to go, and speed-dialled Claudette Jackson’s number again as she made for the exit.

 

|   About the Book   |

 

It is the opening day of Detective Sergeant Scarlett Macey’s biggest case of her life – ‘The Lycra Rapist’ is standing trial for a series of brutal rapes.
But things don’t go according to plan – the trial collapses – and James Green is freed.
Scarlett is determined his freedom will not last long and immediately begins planning his downfall.
Meanwhile James Green has his own plans for revenge, and driven by feelings of hatred begins to pick out those who brought about his downfall – priming them for the kill.
Scarlett has faced many villains in the past, but never one quite as terrifying as James Green…

 

 

|   About the Author   |

 

Following retirement, after thirty-two years as a police officer, working mainly as a detective, Michael returned to the deadly business of murder, as a writer. His past work brought him very close to some nasty characters, including psychopaths, and gruesome cases, and he draws on that experience to craft his novels: There is nothing gentle about Michael’s stories.

His landmark novel Heart of the Demon, published in 2012, introduced Detective Sergeant Hunter Kerr. Michael has since written five novels and a novella featuring Kerr. He also released the first DS Scarlett Macey book in 2016. Michael is also the author of a stand-alone crime novella and a true crime thriller.

Michael has another side to his life – a passion for art, and has found considerable success as an artist, receiving numerous artistic accolades. Currently, his oil paintings can be found in the galleries of Spencer Coleman Fine Arts.

He is a member of the Crime Writers Association and International Thriller Writers.

 

Author Links:   Website   |   Twitter   |  Amazon UK  

 

Published by Fridhem Publishing (27 November 2017)

ebook and paperback

268 pages


I’m delighted to be joining the blog tour for His Guilty Secret, published yesterday.  For my turn I have an excerpt and a Giveaway for a paperback copy of the book.  Details of how to enter are at the end of this post.

 

Extract

“I’ve lost my brother and best friend,” she sobbed, feeling the loneliest she’d ever been.

Patricia hissed, “It’s your loss, Coco. Why’s it always about you? What about me? I’ve just found out my husband left a fortune to a nameless beneficiary, and his solicitor is not allowed to share the details! This isn’t over by a long shot. You owe it to me and our friendship to be honest about what you know.”

Ignoring the outburst, Rudy parked his car at the front of Patricia’s house. Grateful for everything he did for her, she kissed his cheek, saying, “I’d not have coped as well without you. Coco’s lucky to have you in her life, I hope she appreciates it.” Taking her hand in his, Rudy bent to kiss her forehead. “It’s the least I could have done. I’m here for you whenever you need me.”

He proceeded to help her unlock the front door and waited until she entered, watching the cats greet her inside the hall before returning to the car and driving off.

As she bent down to stroke Tabitha and Trixie, her tears dropping onto their fur, Patricia thought he was the kindest man she knew, and much nicer than the man whose funeral she’d attended earlier that day. A man who’d left a large sum of money to a complete stranger.

Clemency had left a note saying she had to look after some client and would call before she returned to stay the night. Patricia was alone for now. After she’d fed and played with the cats, she could no longer ignore what was staring her in the face.

Jacques died in a strange hotel room, naked on the floor next to the bed, instead of coming home to me as soon as his flight landed. Was someone else there with him when he took his last breath? Who’s the woman that visited his grave? Coco’s been lying to me! She must have known what her brother kept from me…And about the person who also inherited his money.

She couldn’t stop thinking about the day’s events, vowing to find out what her husband was hiding from her. Perhaps it was so awful it caused his illness. Giving in to the pain and sadness she felt inside of her, Patricia sobbed until she fell into a deep sleep.

 

|   About the Book   |

 

Secrets & Lies Are Dangerous.

When Jacques’s body is discovered in a hotel room his wife, Patricia, suspects he has been hiding something from her.

Why was he found naked and who is the woman that visited his grave on the day of the funeral? Significantly, who is the unnamed beneficiary Jacques left a large sum of money to in his will and what is the reason her best friend, also Jacques’s sister, Coco, refuses to tell her what he confided to her?

Struggling to find out the truth, Patricia visits Malmö where her twin sister Jasmine lives and is married to her ex boyfriend. But the sisters relationship is toxic and when a family member dies shortly after, an old secret is revealed that shines a light on an event that took place on their tenth birthday.

As one revelation after another is revealed, Patricia is yet to discover her husband’s biggest secret and what ultimately cost him his life.

His Guilty Secret is an unafraid examination of the tangled bonds between siblings, the lengths we go to in protecting our wrongdoings, and the enduring psychological effects this has on the innocent…and the not so innocent.

 

 

|   About the Author  |

 

I was born in Malmo, Sweden’s third largest city and beautiful cultural hub where I enjoyed an idyllic childhood, surrounded by beaches, parks and commons. My parental home was filled with music and literature and I started to write short stories which I entered into competitions when I was eight years old. It was such great fun and I was fortunate to win some of them! Well, writing is just as much fun now as it was then, and it is my passion. I spent a brief period of time in the music industry, performing on Swedish TV and radio. But I really wanted to become a teacher and subsequently embarked on a career as therapist, focusing on children with learning difficulties. I’ve had the privilege to encounter many wonderful extraordinary young people who never cease to amaze me and enrich my life. I moved to London in the mid-90s and the city has been my home for more than 20 years. Malmo is my native city and I regularly spend part of the year there surrounded by the beautiful landscape and tranquility which inspires my writing. My debut novel Because of You was published in August 2016. The novel is, to an extent, inspired by my own visits in London during the 80s. The eclectic club scene was something that I was too young to appreciate fully at the time but it is emblematic of an exciting era that is now gone forever. Looking back, it was such fun and inspired me to relocate to London many years later. I was so delighted with the positive reviews that I immediately decided to write my second novel We Never Said Goodbye published on 6th April 2017 in paperback and ebook editions. His Guilty Secret – published on 27th November 2017 is my third novel. I hope you will enjoy reading it as much as I did writing it. Currently, I’m writing my next novel which takes up most of my spare time.

 

Author Links:   Website   |   Twitter   |   Facebook  |   Amazon UK    |  Goodreads

 

*** GIVEAWAY ***

The publisher c/o of The Book Publicist are offering one paperback copy to a UK entrant. To enter the giveaway, just leave a comment below and I will pick a winner using a random number generator when the giveaway ends at midnight (UK time) on Saturday 2 December.  I will ask the winner for their postal address so that I can pass this on to The Book Publicist to send the book out.  If no response is received within 72 hours then I reserve the right to select an alternative winner. Please do make sure that I have some way of contacting the winner – ie by leaving a twitter name.

 

My thanks to Natalie of The Book Publicist for the invitation to take part in the tour.