Lay With Pigs – End Up Bacon

‘Mum’s the Word’ by Lorraine Turnbull

When Ann-Marie Ross murders her abusive husband and feeds him to the pigs, she thinks she’s got away with murder and secured the future of her Scottish cider farm. But she soon finds herself having to keep more than one deadly secret to protect those closest to her.
As four women embrace their new-found independence, Ann-Marie is tormented by the threat of discovery.
A darkly comic tale of murder, friendship and Love.

Lorraine Turnbull’s ‘Mum’s the Word’ will probably get listed under the cozy crime or black comedy genre. And this is fair enough. It is darkly comedic, Turnbull has a love of the contrast and ironies of living and it does have the sweet, “oh well, never mind,” aspect which can make cozy crime so easy to read.

What is also has – especially if you’re a reader in rural Scotland who also has to care for an ill, elderly parent – is a sense of dismay at the way that society has trapped the women in this novel.

“Used” is the word which keeps coming to mind: for their inheritances, for their cooking, for their patience, for their bodies. It is a darkly comic novel, but it is just dark in its view of human nature and how society has trapped people in dependency and misery.

This is not to make ‘Mum’s the Word’ sound depressing or po-faced. It is a romp of rare humour and entertainment, with a Glaswegian’s eye for the humour of the macabre detail. After all, there’s more fun at a Glasgow funeral than an Edinburgh wedding. Just ask Ann-Marie Ross…

Purchase Links

UK – https://www.amazon.co.uk/Mums-Word-Lorraine-Turnbull-ebook/dp/B093C6YXJH

US – https://www.amazon.com/Mums-Word-Lorraine-Turnbull-ebook/dp/B093C6YXJH

Author Bio – Lorraine Turnbull was born in Glasgow where she lived until 2005 when she and her family moved to Cornwall to run a smallholding. She relocated to France in 2017 where she continues to make cider, writes books and learns French.

Social Media Links – https://www.facebook.com/LorraineTurnbullAuthor

 Twitter – @LorraineAuthor

Catering to the Romantics

‘Dream Café’ by RJ Gould

“Why on earth am I here?” David wonders as he observes the juvenile antics of ex-classmates at the twenty-five year school reunion. Then he sees Bridget.

David draws up a list of all that he hopes to achieve to kick-start a new life now that his wife has moved in with his best friend – his ex-best friend. A relationship with Bridget is top of the list, opening an arts café is a close second.

Formidable women – an unfaithful wife, a reckless teenage daughter, a boss from hell, a disapproving policewoman – seem like insurmountable obstacles.

But it’s still OK to dream, isn’t it?

I don’t think I’m giving too much away to confess that I have a birthday coming up in the next couple of weeks. A “big” one. One with a zero at the end.

As it happens, it is a “big” birthday which puts me in close proximity to David, the lead character of ‘Dream Café’. Having decided against attending my own school reunion (to paraphrase a friend’s response, he’d rather defecate in his hands and clap) I really felt for the character as half remembered school contemporaries lunge at him as the novel opens.

As the book progresses, we learn that poor David has quite the complicated back story, with all sorts of unpleasant behaviour having been dealt to this rather nice, if vague, protagonist.

Personally, I think a nice romantic comedy which nips along with ease of reading and light touch charm and ‘Dream Café’ has this in abundance. David is a hero we can root for and, even including the necessary ups and downs which must befall all characters in this genre, it is comforting to know that all will – up to a point – turn out right with the world.

Incidentally, I too have a secret dream to abandon my career and relaunch ala David – but perhaps I’ll have to wait until nearer his age to do so 😉

Purchase Links –

Author Bio –

Richard writes under the pseudonym R J Gould and is a (rare male) member of the Romantic Novelists’ Association (RNA). His first novel was shortlisted for the Joan Hessayon Award following his participation on the RNA New Writers’ Scheme. Having been published by Headline Access and Lume Books, he now self-publishes.

He writes contemporary literary fiction about relationships, loosely though not prescriptively within the Romance genre, using both humour and pathos to describe the tragi-comic journeys of his protagonists in search of love. ‘Dream Café’ is his sixth novel, following ‘The Engagement Party’, ‘Jack and Jill Went Downhill’, ‘Mid-life follies’, ‘The Bench by Cromer Beach’ and ‘Nothing Man’. [It is a rewrite of ‘A Street Café Named Desire’].

Ahead of writing full time, Richard led a national educational charity. He has been published in a wide range of educational journals, national newspapers and magazines and is the co-author of a major work on educating able young people. He lives in Cambridge, England.

Social Media Links –

Website:                           http://www.rjgould.info

Twitter:               https://twitter.com/RJGould_author

Email:                                news@rjgould.info

Facebook:                         https://www.facebook.com/RJGouldauthor

Instagram:                        https://www.instagram.com/rjgould_author

Exckusive Extract: ‘Rat Island’

This is the opening passage of Rat Island. It captures how I experienced the maelstrom of 1995 42nd Street in Manhattan and gives a pen-picture of the novel’s protagonist, Callum Burke, and his past.

For a review of John Steele’s ‘Rat Island‘ click HERE

Callum Burke was late for the Chinese taxidermist’s murder. He shoved a Camel between cracked lips and sparked his Zippo then leaned against the wall next to the subway entrance on 42nd. He lit the cigarette like a fuse. His watch read eight-twenty.

A handsome drunk black guy in khaki pants and a busted-up jacket caught his eye and sauntered over, flexing and weaving through pedestrians like the booze in his system had liquefied his bones.

‘Excuse me, man, you got thirty cents?’ Alcohol fumes seeped through Callum’s tobacco cloud.

‘No, I don’t have any change.’

‘Thirty cents, man. I just need thirty cents for my bus to Chester.’

‘Sorry. No change.’

‘Alright. God loves you anyway, man.’

The drunk lurched off as a Latino girl in a PVC miniskirt with a sweet face and glazed eyes strolled up.

‘Hey, baby. You all by yourself?’

‘Just like the song.’

‘You want some company? I got a half hour to spare.’

‘Not tonight.’

A wired, scrawny white youth made a move after the girl tottered away.

‘Hey, man, you got the time?’ His voice was drowned by the stream of traffic heading to and from 8th Avenue. Callum cocked his head toward the youth as a siren howled from somewhere behind Port Authority.

The youth leaned closer. ‘You got the time?’

Callum checked his watch. ‘Uh, it’s – ’

‘I got blow, speed, crack, H. What you need?’

‘No, I’m good.’

‘It’s aaaaall good, man’

Callum pinched the bridge of his nose. A cop was standing on the corner fifteen feet away working hard not to notice the wicked business going down on his patch. The buildings of midtown rocketed skyward, swallowed by low rags of cloud oppressing the early evening bustle of the streets. A tide of gossip, questions, information and bawdy profanity assaulted him. Before, in the other metropolis of Hong Kong, it had been just as raucous but most of it was Cantonese backwash, white noise he filtered out. Now it was rushing him, penetrating his skull and cannoning around in his head.

‘Thirty cents, man? Port Authority’s just across the street.’

The black man reappeared on his right, face bathed in yellow from a neon sign declaring, In the day of trouble the Lord delivers him.

‘I told you already,’ said Callum.

‘Hey baby, you busy?’

‘I’m fine.’

‘You wanna’ get high?’

‘You wanna’ fuck?’

‘What time is it, brother?’

‘Thirty cents?’

Callum dropped the spent smoke on the sidewalk and ground it out with his boot. He sparked up another and imagined himself through their eyes: the hustlers, the hookers and pushers. He looked younger than his twenty-nine years, despite the dark two-day growth on his face. A thatch of unruly black hair cut short and a nose skewed by a couple of prime shots in the ring. A wide mouth and a funny accent, maybe Irish but not like that comedy Top-O’-The-Mornin’ brogue people put on for St. Paddy’s. Heavy black brows over affective hazel eyes that were tender or playful or flinty at the whim of his moods.

Those eyes were his greatest tell.

The cop had crossed 42nd Street and disappeared downstream among the mass of citizens heading toward Penn Station on 8th Avenue. Callum took in the parking lot opposite, Port Authority Bus Terminal diagonal, the huge Camel mural across 8th to his right, and wondered how long he could live with this noise and fury.

Amid the chaos, a beautiful woman dragged a small child by the arm toward the subway entrance where Callum stood. Her hair was darker than shadow, her skin amber under the lights of the city, like she was sculpted from gemstone. She was East Asian but looked nothing like Irene Chu. Yet her face as she swept the child into her arms pulled Callum back to Hong Kong and his estranged wife. The child burrowed her head deep by her mother’s neck and Callum felt the memory leave a cold crater in his chest as he thought of his daughter, how Tara would do the same. Tara’s hands could barely meet as they encircled his neck back then.

The mother and child passed him by on 42nd and disappeared down the steps to the subway and he felt a part of him descend with them.

Callum pulled hard on the cigarette. That was his problem – he always went hard. Drank too hard. Gambled too hard. Maybe he loved too hard, now that his family was gone. He’d blown it with them and almost blown it with his job.

And now he was in New York.

He’d been here once before, a short trip with Irene but that had been the Empire State Building, Central Park and museums. This, tonight, was low cloud crawling through midtown, the buildings monoliths scattered with pinpricks of light. Rain was close. He dropped his smoke.

He scratched his head. No one likes to watch a man murdered but Callum couldn’t duck this one, so might as well get it over with. It wasn’t like he hadn’t seen plenty of bodies. But this time, he’d watch the Chinese taxidermist’s life snuffed out while he sat with a coffee and a cigarette. As he turned to enter the subway, he checked the change in his pocket and snorted.

Thirty cents.

PRAISE FOR RAT ISLAND AND JOHN STEELE:

‘A nonstop thrill ride… a lyrical, super read filled with plenty of intrigue, action and suspense and sent against an exotic and seldom explored corner of crime fiction’ Gerald Posner

‘RAT ISLAND speeds and thrashes with the dangerous energy of the Manhattan streets which are so vividly recalled’ Gary Donnelly

‘John Steele writes with grit, pace and authenticity’ Claire McGowan

Purchase Links

Author Bio –

John Steele was born and raised in Belfast, Northern Ireland. In 1995, at the age of twenty-two he travelled to the United States and has since lived and worked on three continents, including a thirteen-year spell in Japan. Among past jobs he has been a drummer in a rock band, an illustrator, a truck driver and a teacher of English. He now lives in England with his wife and daughter. He began writing short stories, selling them to North American magazines and fiction digests. He has published three previous novels: ‘RAVENHILL’, ‘SEVEN SKINS’ and ‘DRY RIVER’, the first of which was longlisted for a CWA Debut Dagger award. John’s books have been described as “Remarkable” by the Sunday Times, “Dark and thrilling” by Claire McGowan, and “Spectacular” by Tony Parsons. The Irish Independent called John ‘a writer of huge promise’ and Gary Donnelly appointed him ‘the undisputed champion of the modern metropolitan thriller’.

Social Media Links –

Twitter: @JohnSte_author

Work of Steele Proves to be King Rat

To read an exclusive extract selected by John Steele for this blog, click HERE

Rat Island by John Steele

‘A REAL CONTENDER FOR CRIME BOOK OF THE YEAR’ David Peace

‘FANS OF DON WINSLOW WILL LOVE THIS’ Claire McGowan

New York, 1995. Cop Callum Burke arrives in New York from Hong Kong, drafted in as part of an international investigation into organised crime.

With the handover of Hong Kong to China only a couple of years away, gangsters are moving their operations out of the territory and into New York ahead of the looming deadline.

Burke’s experiences with East Asian crime and the Triads’ links to the Irish Mob make him the perfect man to send in undercover.

But as he infiltrates these vast and lethal criminal networks, bodies start to pile up in his wake and his conscience threatens to send him over the edge.

And when Burke’s NYPD handlers push him to continue the investigation at all costs, he may have to cross the line from cop to criminal just to stay alive…

Readers of Don Winslow, Michael Connelly, Steve Cavanagh, Richard Price and John Sandford will love this dark and morally complex novel which presents a searing portrait of mid-1990s New York as you’ve never seen it before.

Reviewers of novels, especially novels in this milieu, should be exceedingly careful about bandying around what I call the “Winslow Card”. Don Winslow is a giant of the sprawling novel, reflecting society back on itself and using the contemporary Escher nightmare of the facile “War on Drugs” to reflect our complicity in its pointlessly prolonged form.

That’s a big card to drop on anyone’s desk as they make their name. But, what we absolutely do have in John Steele’s novel Rat Island is a writer who has produced a tautly atmospheric portrait of New York at that tipping point in its history as it moved from pimps and hoes, No-Go Zone to the sanitised tourist trap it was to become.

And Steele certainly comes equipped with the writing chops to sustain our interest and intrigue across its nearly 400 page span. He writes with a cinematic eye. As his narration scans a street, a character chancing to pass, has hair “darker than shadow”.

Likewise, he has that sardonic touch that Ian Rankin rings to the best of his work. “The DEA had wanted to greet the Hong Kong policemen…but they were swamped with guys on temporary assignment from Miami playing Crockett and Tubbs with the Colombians.”

All of this is played out against a complicated investigation which brings to mind the best of ‘The Wire’ while Callum Burke juggles enough demons to put McNulty to shame.

Overall, this is powerfully rendered period piece in the pre-9/11 age where the good guys wear black as much as the bad and no one’s motives can be left unquestioned.

PRAISE FOR RAT ISLAND AND JOHN STEELE:

‘A nonstop thrill ride… a lyrical, super read filled with plenty of intrigue, action and suspense and sent against an exotic and seldom explored corner of crime fiction’ Gerald Posner

‘RAT ISLAND speeds and thrashes with the dangerous energy of the Manhattan streets which are so vividly recalled’ Gary Donnelly

‘John Steele writes with grit, pace and authenticity’ Claire McGowan

Purchase Links

Author Bio –

John Steele was born and raised in Belfast, Northern Ireland. In 1995, at the age of twenty-two he travelled to the United States and has since lived and worked on three continents, including a thirteen-year spell in Japan. Among past jobs he has been a drummer in a rock band, an illustrator, a truck driver and a teacher of English. He now lives in England with his wife and daughter. He began writing short stories, selling them to North American magazines and fiction digests. He has published three previous novels: ‘RAVENHILL’, ‘SEVEN SKINS’ and ‘DRY RIVER’, the first of which was longlisted for a CWA Debut Dagger award. John’s books have been described as “Remarkable” by the Sunday Times, “Dark and thrilling” by Claire McGowan, and “Spectacular” by Tony Parsons. The Irish Independent called John ‘a writer of huge promise’ and Gary Donnelly appointed him ‘the undisputed champion of the modern metropolitan thriller’.

Social Media Links –

Twitter: @JohnSte_author

Murder in the Market Town

Death Comes to Bishops Well’ by Anna Legat

When Sam Dee moves to the beautiful Wiltshire village of Bishops Well, he expects a quiet life of country walks and pub lunches. OK, so his new neighbour, Maggie Kaye, is a little peculiar, but she’s very nice – and his old pal Richard Ruta lives just down the road.

But when Richard throws one of his famous parties, things take a sinister turn. Sam, Maggie and the rest of the guests are dumbfounded when Richard falls down dead. A horrible tragedy – or a cunningly planned murder?

With a village full of suspects – and plenty of dark secrets – just who exactly would want to bump off their host? Is there a connection to another mysterious death, nearly twenty years before?

Armed with her local knowledge, Maggie – with Sam’s reluctant but indispensable help – is soon on the case. But when the body count starts to rise, will sleepy Bishops Well ever be the same again?

I recently wrote glowingly of Simon Whaley’s novel ‘Blooming Murder’, describing it as “essentially, what would happen if Gardener’s World had an illicit love child by Midsomer Murders via the work of Tom Sharpe.

Anna Legat’s ‘Death Comes to Bishops Well’ has something of the same spirit but strikes me as more what would happen if ‘Midsomer Murders’ was crossed with ‘Escape to the Country’.

Here we have the obnoxious Richard bumped off – despite his boasts of eternal youth and his swimming pool – while new resident Sam is swept along in the investigation by his neighbour Maggie.

Legat has clearly worked at her writing craft and is an especially wonderful observer of human posture. Richard is described as “an old man, whether he cared to admit it or not: his frame was hollowed and his skin leathery and wrinkled, the hue and texture of tea-soaked parchment.”

Likewise, Sam is an, “ex-full back, he had a boxing-glove textured body, heavily padded with raw muscle.” The vivid nature of these descriptions offers a telling insight into the characterisation of Legat’s players.

‘Death Comes to Bishop Well’ is a straightforward cozy crime mystery set against the picturesque backdrop of the English countryside. Legat handles dialogue with a pleasingly assured hand, although the shift from a third person to first person narrator early in the book threw me at first.

However, as the opening instalment of what Legat is calling the ‘Shire Mysteries’ I hope that the unconventional pair of Maggie and Sam will be back thwarting murderers and struggling with ethical dilemmas in the near future.

Purchase Links

UK – https://www.amazon.co.uk/Death-Comes-Bishops-Well-Mysteries-ebook/dp/B093XV385N

US – https://www.amazon.com/Death-Comes-Bishops-Well-Mysteries-ebook/dp/B093XV385N

Author Bio – Anna Legat is a Wiltshire-based author, best known for her DI Gillian Marsh murder mystery series. Murder isn’t the only thing on her mind. She dabbles in a wide variety of genres, ranging from dark humorous comedy, through magic realism to dystopian. A globe-trotter and Jack-of-all-trades, Anna has been an attorney, legal adviser, a silver-service waitress, a school teacher and a librarian. She has lived in far-flung places all over the world where she delighted in people-watching and collecting precious life experiences for her stories. Anna writes, reads, lives and breathes books and can no longer tell the difference between fact and fiction.

Social Media Links –

Anna’s News, Rumours and Scandalous Revelations at https://landing.mailerlite.com/webforms/landing/j6b7k1
To find out more:
https://annalegat.com/
Follow Anna on Twitter:
www.twitter.com/LegatWriter
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