A Casa of Amore in Cascais and Beyond

‘New Beginnings at the Little House in the Sun’ by Chris Penhill 

Follow your yellow brick road … 
Alice Dorothy Matthews is on the road to paradise! She’s sold her house in London, got rid of her nasty ex and arranged her move to Portugal where friendship and romance awaits. All that’s left to do is find a place to call home. 
But Alice’s dreams are called into question when complications with friends, work and new relationships make her Portuguese paradise feel far too much like reality. 
Will Alice’s dream of a new home in the sun come true? 

The cover of Chris Penhill’s novel ‘New Beginnings at the Little House in the Sun

Ten years ago, I arranged to go to a place in Portugal which I had never heard of, called Cascais. It began a love affair with the country which has endured to this day. 

Cascais is the place where the Lisbonistas go to escape the heat of the city in the summer, it has the plasticy, tourist trade associated with holiday places.

It also has the friendly locals, the bountiful fish market, a sumptuously (and expensively renovated) castle overlooking the sea.

Chris Penhill does a fine job of throwing obstacles in her heroine’s way from embracing her new existence and this is a novel surprisingly light on the travelogue aspect of the location. Penhill is a writer of solid craft and she lets the characters drive the action, rather than relying on the gorgeous location.

It is rom-com with crowd pleasing potential and a location to make a pandemic-era reader weep with jealousy for the freedom of the characters.

If you like beautiful locations, authentic protagonists in a romping read by a skilful author, this novel is for you.

Purchase Links 

smarturl.it/1s3mic 

https://www.kobo.com/gb/en/ebook/new-beginnings-at-the-little-house-in-the-sun

https://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/new-beginnings-at-the-little-house-in-the-sun-chris-penhall/1137338107?ean=2940162783909

Author Bio – 

 

Author Chris Pencil

Chris Penhall won the 2019 Choc-Lit Search for a Star competition, sponsored by Your Cat Magazine, for her debut novel, The House That Alice Built. The sequel, New Beginnings at the Little House in the Sun was published on August 25th 2020. 

 
Chris is an author and freelance radio producer for BBC Local Radio. 
 
Born in Neath in South Wales, she has also lived in London and in Portugal, which is where The House That Alice Built is set. It was whilst living in Cascais near Lisbon that she began to dabble in writing fiction, but it was many years later that she was confident enough to start writing her first novel, and many years after that she finally finished it! 
A lover of books, music and cats, she is also an enthusiastic salsa dancer, a keen cook, and loves to travel. She is never happier than when she is gazing at the sea. 
 
 
Social Media Links – 

www.chrispenhall.co.uk  

Twitter: https://twitter.com/ChrisPenhall

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

An excellent first outing for the Marlborough Marlowe

‘Into the Void’ by Christina O’Reilly

How easy is it for a man to simply disappear?

When rural banker Richard Harper is reported missing, DSS John (Archie) Baldrick and DC Ben Travers are drawn into the tangled details of the man’s life. Would Harper really have chosen to leave his seriously ill wife, and abandon his pregnant girlfriend? Or is there a real threat behind the abusive emails he’d been receiving from desperate clients in the wake of the Global Financial Crisis?

On the home front, Archie’s marriage is rocky and his two teenage daughters are giving him all sorts of trouble. The frail but beautiful Helena Harper and her magnificent house offer an oasis of calm as Archie struggles to discover who is responsible for her husband’s disappearance. Has he really been abducted, tortured or killed? Or is Richard Harper himself behind everything that has happened?

Archie and Travers ultimately face a race against time as the case descends into a bewildering morass of obsession, violence and murder.

Longlisted for the 2019 Michael Gifkins Memorial Prize for an Unpublished Novel

Finalist in the 2020 Ngaio Marsh Awards for Best First Novel

The cover of ‘Into the Void’ Christina O’Reilly’s debut novel

Ok, first things first – I’ve never been to New Zealand. Many people close to me who I value the judgement of, tell me that it is wonderful and I like wine and rugby so I can’t really see any reason for it not to be lovely.

And, if this novel is anything to go by, I’ll be a fool not to visit as soon as this trifling matter of a global pandemic is out of the way.

This is a novel which just begs to be enjoyed. Archie Baldrick, our Marlborough Marlowe, is every reader’s dream of a sexy lead detective. Paunchy, beset by anxiety for his teen daughters (not without cause) and in a marriage which looks fragile as the two former teen lovers drift away, our middle aged ginger detective with the sciatic nerve is quite the pin up.

And this is where this story lives: in the details and the quiet sadness which character endure, not complainingly just with the knowledge that their world’s just got a little but sadder.

The actual story of the disappeared banker who may or may not be responsible for the swirling violence and murder which the climax of the novel addresses is handled with a rare skill and aplomb by this debutant author.

First novels can often be brilliant because they are the culmination of a whole life’s ambition burning to get out. But ‘Into the Void’ does not come off like that at all. It is a fast paced, well-plotted and exceedingly well-written voyage into choppy waters for likeable, recognisable and flawed characters.

Highly recommended and I can’t wait to read O’Reilly’s next one. 

Purchase Links 

US – https://www.amazon.com/Into-Void-Christina-OReilly-ebook/dp/B08529J3DY

UK – https://www.amazon.co.uk/Into-Void-Christina-OReilly-ebook/dp/B08529J3DY

Or readers can email Christina via her website www.christinaoreilly.com or her Facebook page Christina O’Reilly – Author for a paperback copy.

Author Bio – 

Author Christina O’Reilly

Christina O’Reilly is an author and proofreader living in the Waikato region of New Zealand. Several of her short stories have been published in anthologies, most recently in Fresh Ink: A Collection of Voices from Aotearoa New Zealand 2019. Into the Voidis her first crime novel and was longlisted for the Michael Gifkins Memorial Prize in 2019. It is also a finalist in the 2020 Ngaio Marsh Awards for Best First Novel.

Social Media Links – https://www.facebook.com/Christina-OReilly-Author-102419694721372/?modal=admin_todo_tour

Chasing Shadows in Paris

The Purple Shadow‘ by Christopher Bowden

In the years before the war, Sylvie Charlot was a leading light in Paris fashion with many friends among musicians, artists and writers.  Now she is largely forgotten.  Spending time in Paris during a break in his acting career, Colin Mallory sees a striking portrait of Sylvie.  Some think it is a late work by Édouard Vuillard but there is no signature or documentary evidence to support this view.

The picture has some unusual qualities, not least the presence of a shadow of something that cannot be seen.  Perhaps the picture was once larger.  Colin feels an odd sense of connection with Sylvie, who seems to be looking at him, appealing to him, wanting to tell him something.  Despite a warning not to pursue his interest in her portrait, he is determined to find out more about the painting, who painted it, and why it was hidden for many years.   

Colin’s search takes him back to the film and theatre worlds of Paris and London in the 1930s – and to a house in present-day Sussex.  As he uncovers the secrets of Sylvie’s past, her portrait seems to take on a life of its own.    

The cover of Christopher Bowden’s novel, ‘The Purple Shadow’

‘The Purple Shadow’ by Christopher Bowden is a novel of flowing prose, elegiac phrasing and subtlty of characterisation.

At the opening of the novel, out of work actor Colin Mallory is a malingering flanuer, perusing the streets of Paris at his pleasure. 

Oddly, one of the toughest aspects of reading this novel is that it is so evocative of Paris that is almost painful in a world of lockdowns and social distancing. Bowden writes with a quiet panache and obvious affection for the City of Love that one is left with a feeling of nostalgia and great longing to return to the capital.

“His view was dormers and balconies, shutters and skylights, chimneys and blank walls. Even these were becoming indistinct as the blue light of evening gave way to night.”

Christopher Bowden is clearly a talented artist in his own right and he weaves the strands of plot between forgotten British movie stars of the interwar years with the latter day painting recovery with the skill of a Royal Academician. 

Author Christopher Bowden

Colour imagery positively throbs through the tale. From the second page’s “bright white walls,’ to the “chevrons of indigo, orange and grey” on the last, colours are used to mirror emotions and evoke the surroundings. It is skilfully and unobtrusively carried out.

My issue with the novel is, unfortunately, one which perturbed me for the entire end third of the book. The purple stain of the title is, as the blurb makes clear so this is not a spoiler, one on a painting. The stain seems to be changing, adapting and – possibly – literally moving and yet all of the characters just seem to shrug and say, “Creepy, isn’t it?”

Sorry, no – not creepy. Stupid. You’re confusing a sentient painting with some tawdry sub-Halloween-level balls. 

All of the characters’ entirely blasé approach to the supernatural might enable the plot to wallop on, but it made me want to chuck this finely plotted, beautifully written little novel across the room in irritation.

Still, a quick read by a master craftsman which can be savoured for the quality of the writing alone.

Purchase Links 

UK – https://www.amazon.co.uk/Purple-Shadow-Christopher-Bowden-ebook/dp/B01JLMD7N4/

US – https://www.amazon.com/Purple-Shadow-Christopher-Bowden-ebook/dp/B01JLMD7N4/

France – https://www.amazon.fr/Purple-Shadow-Christopher-Bowden-ebook/dp/B01JLMD7N4/

Author Bio – Christopher Bowden lives in south London. He is the author of six colour-themed novels, which have been praised variously by Andrew Marr, Julian Fellowes, Sir Derek Jacobi, and Shena Mackay.  

Social Media Links –  https://www.facebook.com/christopher.bowden.90

Website – http://www.christopherbowden.com/

We’re going on a… Spider Hunt?

Spider Hunting‘ by K.J McGillick

It’s never what it seems.

A murder of a high-profile law partner on a Manhattan street should have made the front page of the news. And yet it didn’t. Drew Bradley’s murder was treated as just another senseless crime and relegated to page four of the evening edition.

But what if the press had been privy to the fact that the murder was actually an assassination?

As the partners at Lannister and Stewart scramble to fill the vacuum left by Drew Bradley’s sudden death, Asia Blythe, a rising star in the firm is offered his coveted position. But this golden opportunity that brings with it power, prestige, and unlimited financial rewards demands adherence to a code. A code of allegiance to the firm with no exceptions.

Catapulted into the world of genetically modified designer babies and state-sponsored espionage, is Asia prepared to deal with the intrigues of a world that will threaten her life and shatter her illusions?

The cover of ‘Spider Hunting’ by KJ McGillick

‘Spider Hunting’ by K.J McGillick is a fast paced conspiracy driven thriller set amongst the backdrop of corporate law in New York.

Former nurse, lawyer and person of many parts McGillick writes with a speed which whips the reader along, ensnaring her lead character Asia in the twisty worlds of international tax havens and the ethics of emergent medical techniques.

The novel seems to take its inspiration from a John Grisham-Dan Brown infusion and McGillick is an engaging guide. Her plotting, especially, is excellent. The reader is ushered through the twists and turns of a convoluted story like they’re on a flume at a water park.

The novel is populated with a range of characters, many of whom have the ring of verisimilitude to them. I have a particular affection for the haughty and sinister Ian Lannister, the senior man at the law firm related by marriage to the murdered man and, perhaps, up to his neck in medical malpractice.

Author K.J McGillick. Former nurse, lawyer and a lady of many parts

It’s not a perfect novel, although what is? Asia is a good guide for the reader but is sometimes so innocent she makes Nancy Drew look like a Raymond Chandler character. At one point she says,

‘I felt my hand involuntarily hit my chest in surprise and leaned forward. “Ricin, that’s a biological weapon! What you are insinuating, or from this piece of information at least, my interpretation is we can conclude that this was no random act of violence.”’

One can’t help but wonder if she just forgot to clutch her twinset and pearls to her throat in horror.

Also, I would not like her to work on my case as a lawyer. She seems to know nothing of either tax law or the criminal bar. Considering she is considered impressive enough by the firm to be on fast track as an equity partner but she is shocked, shocked I tell you, to discover that not all law is conducted to strict ethical guidelines.

Additionally, I’m not sure I know what, “he asked in what sounded like a slight British accent,” means.

However, come for the occasionally hilarious dialogue and stay for the tight plotting, heroine with a personality and settled home life and entertaining cast of characters.

I would certainly go Spider hunting, again.

Purchase Links

US – https://www.amazon.com/SPIDER-HUNTING-Conspiracy-Betrayal-Book-ebook/dp/B08GJY14W2

UK – https://www.amazon.co.uk/SPIDER-HUNTING-Conspiracy-Betrayal-Book-ebook/dp/B08GJY14W2

Author Bio –

K. J. McGillick was born in New York and once she started to walk she never stopped running. But that’s what New Yorker’s do. Right? A Registered Nurse, a lawyer now author.

As she evolved so did her career choices. After completing her graduate degree in nursing, she spent many years in the university setting sharing the dreams of the enthusiastic nursing students she taught.

After twenty rewarding years in the medical field she attended law school and has spent the last twenty-four years as an attorney helping people navigate the turbulent waters of the legal system. Not an easy feat.

And now? Now she is sharing the characters she loves with readers hoping they are intrigued by her twisting and turning plots and entertained by her writing

Social Media Links –

https://www.facebook.com/KJMcGillickauthor/

Kathleen McGillick

@KJMcGillickAuth

http://www.kjmcgillick.com

Hunting A Portrait By An Artist By A Young Man and Woman

‘Lady in Red’ Tessa Buckley

Pursuing the truth can be a dangerous game…

School’s out for the summer, and Eye Spy Investigations have a new case – looking for Lady in Red, a lost masterpiece by Victorian painter, Gabriel Pascoe.

The clock is ticking for Alex and Donna, because the artist’s house, Acacia Villa, where their friend Jake lives, is due to be demolished, and vital clues may be destroyed. And Alex has an additional problem: he is terrified of snakes, and Jake has a pet snake called Queenie…

As the twins pursue their enquiries, they come up against the man who wants to demolish Acacia Villa. But Mr Mortimer is the godfather of their baby half-sister, Sophie, and criticising him could open up family rifts, which have only just healed.

Then Queenie goes missing, setting in motion a disastrous train of events that will turn the search for Lady in Red into the twins’ most dangerous case yet.

The cover for Tessa Buckley’s third novel in the Eye Spy series, ‘The Lady in Red’

The third in the series of Eye Spy novels for “middle grade” readers aged between 8-12 sees intrepid investigation twins, Alex and Donna, on the trail of a lost Pre-Raphaelite painting.

I really enjoyed ‘Lady in Red’. What I’m going to say next might not sound like praise but it is: this novel is old fashioned, in the best sense of the word, and has all the hallmarks of the vintage Secret Seven or Famous Five, but updated for the modern age. 

This is a world where adults are caring, but suitably hands off to let children go play and fall down coalholes. Where the children might be reckless, but they try to be respectful and really just want to help.

Investigations grind to a halt for family barbecues and time together with friends. Yes, there are the trappings of modern life – mobile phones, their eccentric, inventor father is on a second marriage and they have a half sister – but none of these things so often used for melodrama in heavier novels slows the plot down – find the old man’s painting and save his house from a dark suit wearing, boo hiss villain. Love it!

Buckley is clearly a talented writer. Her prose nips along like skipping children in a field of wheat and, as an author, she is clearly on the side of her adventurous protagonists. 

Author Tessa Buckley

She has really captured that blunt, nonsense, brutality of younger children. To whit, as Alex says:

“Although I felt sorry for Billie, I don’t like whiney kids, and she was beginning to get on my nerves.”

Or later, at his half-sister’s christening:

When I pointed to what look like a pile of frogs’ eggs on little biscuits, Lucy laughed. “That’s caviar. You can try it, but you won’t like it.” She was right. I didn’t.”

I jut love that. You can hear Buckley relishing the little victories of these often overlooked voices and she’s clearly a skilled practitioner of the genre.

This is not a criticism at all, but an observation. There won’t be many 8 year olds who will find this an easy read and so it does present an excellent extension task for capable younger readers and a rip roaring, rollicking read for the lower secondary pupils.

However, this is wholesome family fun and a rip roaring adventure tale which parents could enjoy with their children.

Purchase Links 

‘Lady in Red’    Amazon.co.uk  paperback

‘Lady in Red’    Amazon.co.uk  ebook

‘Lady in Red’    Amazon.com ebook

‘Lady in Red’    Ibooks

‘Lady in Red’    Matador bookstore

https://www.troubador.co.uk/bookshop/young-adult/lady-in-red/

Author Bio – 

Tessa Buckley was an inveterate scribbler as a child, and spent much of her time writing and illustrating stories. After studying Interior Design, she spent fifteen years working for architects and designers. 

She took up writing again after her young daughter complained that she couldn’t find enough adventure stories to read. This led, in 2016, to the publication of Eye Spy, the first in a series for 9-12 year olds about two teen detectives. 

There are now two more books in the series: Haunted, which was a finalist in the Wishing Shelf Book Awards 201, and Lady in Red.

She lives by the sea in Essex and recently completed an Open University arts degree.

Social Media Links –  

Website:        https://tessabuckleyauthor.com

Facebook:     https://www.facebook.com/Tessa-Buckley-Author-

Trailer Reveal!

Trailer Link: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rfVtbrJZY2o&feature=youtu.be

Everything is Beautiful‘ by Eleanor Ray

Sometimes it’s impossible to part with the things we love the most…

Published on February 4th, this novel is billed as “Perfect for fans of Eleanor Oliphant and The Keeper of Lost Things, this exquisitely told, uplifting novel shows us that however hopeless things might feel, beauty can be found in the most unexpected of places.”

Personally, I can’t wait.

When Amy Ashton’s world came crashing down eleven years ago, she started a collection. Just a little collection, just a few keepsakes of happier times: some honeysuckle to remind herself of the boy she loved, a chipped china bird, an old terracotta pot . . . Things that others might throw away, but to Amy, represent a life that could have been.  

Now her house is overflowing with the objects she loves – soon there’ll be no room for Amy at all. But when a family move in next door, a chance discovery unearths a mystery long buried, and Amy’s carefully curated life begins to unravel. If she can find the courage to face her past, might the future she thought she’d lost still be hers for the taking? 

Pre-order Links:

UK – https://www.amazon.co.uk/Everything-Beautiful-Eleanor-Ray/dp/0349427437

US – https://www.amazon.com/Everything-Beautiful-Eleanor-Ray-ebook/dp/B087ZDNZM8/

Publication Date: 4th February 2021

Author Bio –  Eleanor Ray has an MA in English Literature from Edinburgh University and works in marketing. She lives in London with her husband and two young children.


Eleanor was inspired to write Everything is Beautiful by the objects her toddler collects and treasures – twigs, empty water bottles and wilting daisies. She is currently working on her next novel.

Social Media Links – 

Twitter: @EleanorRayBooks
Facebook: @
EleanorRayBooks
Instagram: @
EleanorRayBooks

Dispatches from the dark heart of Capitalism

Parasite? The Secret Diary of a Landlord

Get ready to learn what really happens behind closed doors. 

Landlords have become one of the most hated groups in society. Parasites, they’re often called. And there’s a lot of them. The Treasury estimates there are almost 2.6 million landlords in the UK with around 5.45 million rental properties.

But the real life of a professional landlord is very different to what most people think. From burglaries and break-ins to drug raids, police warrants, crazy tenant antics, bailiffs, squatters, lawsuits, wrecked properties, interfering council officers, game-playing freeholders to moments of heartfelt joy and happiness, the life of a landlord is never dull. Especially when the government keeps moving the goalposts.

This explosive front line exposé blows the lid off what it’s really like to be a landlord and the shocking reality of renting out a property. Hovering close to a nervous breakdown and likely suffering PTSD, The Secret Landlord exposes truths rarely shared. Stories that will grip you, move you and smack you in the face. 

This is the truth, the other side of the door. 

This is as difficult a book to review as I’m sure it was to write. And, in all honesty, I think a reader’s degree of satisfaction with their purchase is going to be directly linked to their politics and their experiences (isn’t everything?)

There’s a lot to like

The good things – the Secret Landlord is clearly a well-intentioned landlord. She writes fluidly and is as engaging a guide through the trials and tribulations of this lifestyle that you could wish for. Material which could be very dry is handled with aplomb. 

So, it is clearly well written and its diary format allows these dispatches from capitalisms front line to romp along.

The cover of ‘Parasite? The Secret Diary of a Landlord’

The Hustle

I think it is fair to say that this is a landlord who’s heart in the right place and is well intentioned. She wants to make a living – fair enough – and her ethos is clearly well meaning.

She says, ““My tenants tend to stay with me for years – I like that. I like the fact we can have a long relationship and get to know each other. Truth is, I don’t really like change. I really like it when people come to stay and they don’t leave. I like them growing and changing and hearing about their lives.”

That’s positively heart warming. As is how responsible this attitude is:

“I don’t understand, I truly don’t, the landlords who don’t do repairs. I have no understanding, morally or commercially, why you wouldn’t fix a problem.”

Here’s the thing though: the system is awful. 

The System

And, frankly, her justifications for her role within it are very poor. Take a scenario from early on in the book when she needs to sell two properties to ensure she has enough capital on hand to survive.

“My phone rings and I see it’s the long-term tenant at the flat where I’ve just sent his eviction notice. I brace myself. 
‘I’ve just got this notice, what’s going on? What have I done?’ ‘I’m so sorry, you haven’t done anything, but the problem is the government has made lots of tax changes and so I have no choice but to sell.’ 
‘But, this is my home!’ 
‘I know and I’m really sorry, I don’t want it to be like this, but I hope you can understand I have to sell because I need to raise some money.’
 ‘So how long have I got?’ 
‘The date’s there on the notice, you have over two months. I’m really sorry about this.’

Right, so a tenant who has done nothing wrong is to be made homeless because you over extended yourself? 

By the way, in Scotland the tenant would get 6 months notice which would help a little bit, but what makes this galling is the weakness of the arguments in need to make herself feel better.

At various points she asks, “Is it my fault?” and, later when the tenant about to bounced out in the street is not pleased we get this reported exchange:

“He’s still majorly unimpressed as the rental market has risen loads and he’s unhappy about how much more he’s going to have to shell out to rent somewhere else. I bite my tongue. I’d like to point out he could’ve been saving some money from his reduced rent with me.”

Yeah, except that’s not how it works is it? We aren’t given this particular tenant’s occupation but there is every chance that his wages won’t have kept pace with rent levels so he almost certainly won’t have been pocketing the difference, oh-so-financially-prudent Secret Landlord. 

“Is it my fault?” she asks? 

“No,” unsurprisingly answers friend who is also a landlord. 

“Yes,” say everyone else. You are literally part of the problem.

This particular paradox is writ large when she outlines how the system has changed since the financial crash. She has repeatedly said that she is a responsible landlord.

“The hoops you have to jump through and the paperwork you have to complete is something else nowadays. But, back in the day, and obviously that was before the financial crash, getting a mortgage, a re-mortgage or any sort of money was easy. Hell, you could even do same-day re-mortgages back then!… I should have borrowed more!”

No! No, you shouldn’t. People investing in sub-prime mortgages is the literal – literal – reason the world’s financial system had a cardiac arrest which nearly sent us back to the Dark Ages. This is not an exactly reflective guide.

“The thing that gets me about all of this is the way the government has created these housing problems and blamed landlords for everything. The government sold off the council housing and hasn’t built enough since. Private individuals then bought properties to rent out to fill the housing need. Then everybody and his dead grandmother went crazy about landlords owning property and renting them out and making a profit.”

Now, in her defence, it is also clear that the tax system is a mess, tenants are – well, arseholes – and this is not an easy profession. Actually it sounds like a dreadful profession and this is a lady doing the best she can. Maybe calling landlords parasites is harsh.

But, if you lay with pigs, you end up bacon and I’m afraid that this well-written, slick journey through the dark lowlands of the realities of capitalism’s foothills does not make me feel sorry for the choices this category of people have made.

Purchase Links
UK – https://www.amazon.co.uk/Parasite-Secret-Diary-Landlord-ebook/dp/B08DTPYVFZ/

US – https://www.amazon.com/Parasite-Secret-Diary-Landlord-ebook/dp/B08DTPYVFZ/

Author Bio – 
The Secret Landlord has been renting, refurbishing and selling properties across the UK for almost two decades. An award-winning landlord, as judged by the National Landlords Association, The Secret Landlord has provided accommodation for hundreds of tenants from all walks of life. 

Social Media Links – 

www.thesecretlandlord.com

@landlord_secret

PTSD in the land of the Villains

Detective Constable Bailey Morgan is back doing what she does best – working undercover.

This time she has to infiltrate the inner circle of a notorious underworld family. Posing as a fellow villain, she is on a one-woman mission to bring the family to their knees.

But things are never that simple. Bailey finds that she is forced to confront shadowy wraiths from her past and will come face-to-face with a set of devastating revelations that will shatter her world and threaten her very existence.

With only herself to trust, Bailey is on her own and the stakes are higher than ever.

Heart-stopping and gripping. Perfect for the fans of hit TV shows such as Line of Duty and Gangs of London.

The cover of Caro Savage’s second novel, ‘Villain’

Caro Savage is a new writer to me. I had missed her debut, Jailbird published in October 2019, but I liked the sound of her latest effort, Villain.

The fact that she has the best name for a crime writer since Karen Slaughter, only interested me further!

The atmospheric author portrait of the mysterious Caro Savage

I am happy to report that she lives up to her name: this novel is top notch. Savage manages to sprinkle the consequences of her protagonist’s previous undercover exploits through the novel with a light touch as well create a plucky, highly skilled detective who you want to go on the ride with.

It is not often that we see the far reaching results of exposure to violence and the effect that has on those that undergo it. Here, Bailey is on beta-blockers after a diagnosis of PTSD courtesy of the horrors she has previous undergone. 

Dainty Dialogue

A bugbear of mine in crime fiction is that convincing, flowing dialogue can often be the casualty of action but Savage manages the trick of making her characters distinct, recognisable and also realistic.

The other thing that Savage manages to do is ramp up the tension. Bailey’s interactions whilst undercover make your palms sweat as the threat of violence and trauma hangs over every encounter and keeps you hooked from first to last.

Black Humour

I have to be honest, the seam of black humour which runs through the novel – a severed arm torn asunder by a car bomb landing with a splat in front of a homeless man in the opening pages is a particular treat – keeps this novel from the potential of all thrillers to topple towards melodrama and is like a palate cleanser from the tension and thrills.

Caro Savage has announced her arrival as a writer to take note of with this thrilling follow up to her debut and I can’t wait to come across Bailey again.

Purchase Link

https://amzn.to/2V9uUKH

Author Bio

Caro Savage knows all about bestselling thrillers having worked as a Waterstones bookseller for 12 years in a previous life. Now taking up the challenge personally and turning to hard-hitting crime thriller writing, Jailbird was published by Boldwood in October 2019.

Social Media Links

Twitter Profile: https://twitter.com/CaroSavageStory

https://www.instagram.com/carosavage/

Newsletter sign up: http://bit.ly/CaroSavageNewsletter

The blog tour banner celebrating the publication of Caro Savage’s new novel, ‘Villain’

‘The Lie She Told’ – Exclusive Extract for PAJNewman

Courtesy of Catherine Yaffe, PAJNewman is delighted to be able to bring you an exclusive extract of The Lie She Told – You can read a review of the novel here

All Kate wanted was a peaceful life.

All Ryan wanted to do was destroy it.

Kate and her son Joe have created a new life for themselves in the Highlands of Scotland and she couldn’t be happier. That is until she picks a stranger up from the side of the road that turns out to be a figure from her past. Will all her secrets be revealed?

“Ryan?” She asked, risking a glance sideways

“Haha, I wondered when it would dawn on you”

“What the hell..how..” Kate was speechless. She’d last seen Ryan on the final day of the court hearing, hanging around outside on the court steps. As memories slowly clicked into place she went through a series of emotions. Her hands started to shake, heart pounding she moved from recognition to anger in a split second.

She swerved violently and pulled haphazardly onto the side of the road.

“What the actual? What are you doing here?” she removed her seatbelt and despite the lashing rain opened the car door and got out.

“Get out of my car now!” she yelled above the cacophony noise that swirled around the hills of the Highlands.

Ryan leaned over into the driver seat and shouted something, but Kate could only see red as rage, shock and fear took over.  

“I want you out of my car now!” she screamed again, shaking with anger.

Reluctantly Ryan did as she demanded and stepped into the monsoon,

“Kate, come on, don’t be like that”, he headed around the front of the car towards her.

She backed away,

“Oh no you don’t, stay away from me Ryan”

Ryan carried on forward, relentless, “Kate, what’s wrong with you?”

“Stop it Ryan, I don’t have to listen to anyone, anymore. I am not the same naive victim that you knew back then, and I will not listen to your bullshit”

Purchase Links 

UK –https://www.amazon.co.uk/Lie-She-Told-peaceful-destroy-ebook/dp/B08BPJCV77

US – https://www.amazon.com/Lie-She-Told-peaceful-destroy-ebook/dp/B08BPJCV77

Author Bio – 

Catherine Yaffe is a former freelance journalist, magazine editor and digital marketing agency owner. Catherine has previously written non-fiction books on Digital Marketing before following her passion for writing crime novels full time.

The Lie She Told is the first in a series of books that challenge the status quo of relationships and makes the reader question how well you know those around you.

Catherine lives in West Yorkshire with her husband Mark and their 2 cats Jenson & Button (she’s also a F1 fan!)

Social Media Links – 

@catherineyaffe (Twitter)

https://www.facebook.com/CatherineYaffeAuthor

Instagram cat_yaffe_author

www.catherineyaffe.co.uk

‘The Lie She Told’. And He Told. And She Told. And We Told…

‘The Lie She Told’ by Catherine Yaffe: Encouraging debut from a clearly talented writer takes us to the misty, murky motivations in the world of Scotland’s West Coast.

You can read an exclusive extract of the novel here:

All Kate wanted was a peaceful life.

All Ryan wanted to do was destroy it.

Living in the remote Scottish Highlands under Witness Protection, life is finally happy for Kate Ward and her young son Joe, until someone from Kate’s past appears. Ryan Albright is the only person that knows all of Kate’s secrets, and what she had to do to escape her previous abusive relationship. Ryan is determined to complete the mission set for him by Kate’s ex-husband. Systematically and violently, he pulls Kate’s new world apart with devasting consequences for everyone around him, including Kate who must face up to the lie she told.

There’s been quite the West Coast Scottish crime theme developing on this blog over the last few weeks. Recently we had Alex Coombs and his Argyll-based Private Investigator Hanlon taking on drug lords and layabouts and this week we have a murky crime drama set a touch further north in Gairloch.

Catherine Yaffe’s debut The Lie She Told is a very different type of novel to Coombs’ offering, however. Instead of a teak hard heroine able to take blows to the face and bounce back to care for her dog, here we have Kate, a mother of a young son, relocated as part of the witness protection scheme to the village of Gairloch.

As a resident of the Highlands, I can tell you: this sort of thing does happen. What this novel, perhaps, does not really capture, is that most of the Highland communities know about it before the people even arrive, but that might have spoilt the broiling tension somewhat.

Instead, we have Kate meeting up – coincidentally – with Ryan: a local no-gooder who Kate knew well in her days in Leeds and who was, in fact, best friends with her abusive ex-husband.

Tensions rise for the reader as the dastardly, manipulative Ryan ensnares the too-trusting Kate in a web of deceit.

 However, few people in this novel are quite what they seem and motivations are as grey and murky as an autumn day in Gairloch. 

This is a psychological thriller which manages the powerful balance of nipping along at pace but also lingering in the reader’s minds. There’s little wham bam here – action often occurs off screen (as it were) – and wounds physical and emotional, fester and turn sour.

It is a very competent debut by Catherine Yaffe. It is true that some of the dialogue can be occasionally laboured but this is a small niggle in such a psychologically complicated novel which doesn’t shy away from the pain that violence and it’s consequences causes.

I look forward to watching Yaffe’s career with interest with interest.

Purchase Links 

UK –https://www.amazon.co.uk/Lie-She-Told-peaceful-destroy-ebook/dp/B08BPJCV77

US – https://www.amazon.com/Lie-She-Told-peaceful-destroy-ebook/dp/B08BPJCV77

Author Bio – 

Catherine Yaffe is a former freelance journalist, magazine editor and digital marketing agency owner. Catherine has previously written non-fiction books on Digital Marketing before following her passion for writing crime novels full time.

‘The Lie She Told’ is the first in a series of books that challenge the status quo of relationships and makes the reader question how well you know those around you.

Catherine lives in West Yorkshire with her husband Mark and their 2 cats Jenson & Button (she’s also a F1 fan!)

Social Media Links – 

@catherineyaffe (Twitter)

https://www.facebook.com/CatherineYaffeAuthor

Instagram cat_yaffe_author

www.catherineyaffe.co.uk