To Lose One Husband May Be Accident…

‘The Mystery of the Lost Husbands’ by Gina Cheyne

Is murdering husbands an addiction or merely a bad habit?

This is the question facing Private Investigator Cat Harrington when rich builder, Tom Drayton, dies shortly after his wedding night. Suspicion falls on his widow, Anastasia Rodriguez, the survivor of three previous ‘lost’ husbands.

Two years later, Anastasia is engaged again, to Cat’s friend Angelo, an Italian snail collector.

Angelo’s sister, Gia, employs Cat and the SeeMs Detective Agency to discover if her brother’s financé is a killer.

The search for Anastasia’s lost husbands takes Cat and her team from Scotland to the South of Spain and on to Argentina.

They have just a few weeks before the wedding to discover if Anastasia is a murderer and save their friend from becoming victim number five.

For fans of ‘Arsenic and Old Lace’ and ‘The Number 1 Ladies Detective Agency’

I once worked as a cleaner in a stone mason’s yard. It was odd work. Big men – and they were all men – lifted heavy rock and the sanded and sculpted it into fireplaces and kitchen counters any other form of home good which can be made of expensive rock.

In the mean time, I – at the time at student – would be a dog’s body, lugging rocks, emptying bins and trying to sweep up. All I really remember was all of us looking like apprentice Casper the friendly ghost impersonators as the limestone dust got everywhere. Smoking a roll up was nightmare.

The reason this book reminds me of that unusual summer? Firstly, because this novel has the same sort of madcap energy off-kilter joie de vivre which I associate with that time, but secondly – and more pertinently if I’m honest – the firm had been won in a divorce by the wife of the original owner and her new partner.

When the novel begins with a painter and decorator letting Cat know about Anastasia’s supposed murder of their boss, I did just wonder if maybe there was more to the stone mason divorce win than met the eye.

For the rest of you without such idiosyncratic associations, this novel does indeed combine elements of ‘Arsenic and Old Lace’ and ‘The Number 1 Ladies Detective Agency’ but also does a charmingly campy drive by on Footballer’s Wives or Dynasty. There’s glamour, exotic locations and some truly boo hiss characters it’s fun to spend time with.

Plus, you know, a dog finding detective agency – perhaps there should be a cross over with KT Lee’s ‘A Nose for Mischief’.

Purchase Links

UK – https://www.amazon.co.uk/Mystery-Husbands-SeeMS-Detective-Agency/dp/1915138019/

US – https://www.amazon.com/Mystery-Husbands-SeeMS-Detective-Agency/dp/1915138019/

Author Bio –

Gina has worked as a physiotherapist, a pilot, freelance writer and a dog breeder.

As a child, Gina’s parents hated travelling and never went further than Jersey. As a result she became travel-addicted and spent the year after university bumming around SE Asia, China and Australia, where she worked in a racing stables in Pinjarra, South of Perth. After getting stuck in black sand in the Ute one time too many (and getting a tractor and trailer caught in a tree) she was relegated to horse-riding work only. After her horse bolted down the sand, straining a fetlock and falling in the sea, she was further relegated to swimming the horses only in the pool. It was with some relief the racehorse stables posted her off on the train into eastern Australia to work in a vineyard… after all what could go wrong there?

In the north of Thailand, she took a boat into the Golden Triangle and got shot at by bandits. Her group escaped into the undergrowth and hid in a hill tribe whisky still where they shared the ‘bathroom’ with a group of pigs. Getting a lift on a motorbike they hurried back to Chiang Rai, where life seemed calmer.

After nearly being downed in a fiesta in Ko Pha Ngan, and cursed by a witch in Malaysia, she decided to go to Singapore and then to China where she only had to battle with the language and regulations.

Since marrying the first time, she has lived and worked in many countries including Spain and the USA.

For a few years Gina was a Wingwalking pilot, flying, amongst others, her 64-year-old mother standing on the wing to raise money for a cancer charity. She was also a helicopter instructor and examiner and took part in the World Helicopter Championships in Russia and the USA.

She became a writer because her first love was always telling a good yarn!

Under the name Georgina Hunter-Jones she has written illustrated children’s books such as The Twerple who had Too Many Brains, and Nola the Rhinoceros loves Mathematics.

She now lives in Sussex with her husband and dogs, one of who inspired the Biscuit and Pugwash Detective Series about naughty dogs who solve crimes.

The Mystery of the Lost Husbands is the first in the SeeMS Detective Agency series and Gina’s first crime novel for adults.

Social Media Links – 

Website: www.ginacheyne.com

Canines and Crime

‘A Nose for Mischief’ by KT Lee

When materials engineer Zoey Butler lands her dream job at Future State Energy, she believes her research in renewable energy will make headlines. Unfortunately for her, she’s right. Zoey is working on her latest experiment when FBI Special Agent Alexis Thompson and her K-9 partner, Waffle, raid Future State and arrest the head of the development for fraud. Zoey helps the FBI find answers in the aftermath, but she soon finds herself jobless and unemployable. Desperate and out of options, she reaches out to Alexis, the one person who knows Zoey was duped like everyone else.

Liam Graham is an FBI special agent and instructor at Riverbend K-9 Academy. When Alexis brings in a new recruit with an unusual background, Liam pairs her up with Tasha, a dog in need of a handler to stay in their competitive program. Zoey is thrilled to put her past behind her and give the mischievous rescue dog her own second chance. However, shortly after she arrives, the FBI realizes the Future State case is far from closed. And Zoey may be the key to solving it.

Zoey offers to go back to Future State to help the FBI end things once and for all. Only this time, she’ll have Liam and Tasha for backup. But, the problems at Future State are more explosive than any of them suspect.

This is one of those novels which just come along and you think, “That’ll do for me!” FBI and dogs? I need no more invitation than that.

What was very interesting is the link (unintentional? Intentional?) between this novel and VW Emissions scandal from 2016. So, this novel becomes a cross between Turner and Hooch meets the VW Emissions swindle filtered through Elon Musk. Which, if we’re being honest, kinda sounds plausible.

Personally, I enjoyed ‘A Nose for Trouble’ very much. In Zoey, KT Lee has created a very interesting central character: an innocent abroad unfairly tarnished with the events at an unscrupulous company out of her control. Slightly high on the control freak scale (“You mean I’m an excellent planner,” she tells her sister at one point), Zoey is also charming and very well equipped to analyse data for her new employers utilising her science background.

KT Lee is clearly in love with her core characters and wants to invite you in to spend time with her motley crew of FBI agents and charming hounds. It is a little like that 90s classic Northern Exposure in its gentle charm.

My own fearsome crime fighting canine poised for action

If I have a criticism at all, it is that perhaps Lee uses Zoey’s “disgrace” as a motivation to drive the plot along past the point at which anyone would really care and it takes Zoey too long to realise the power of her own abilities. On the other hand, haven’t we all worked with people who persist in not recognising how amazing they really are while over confident charlatans push past them on wings buoyed by hot air and unwarranted confidence? So maybe – unfortunately – not unrealistic.

Ann Richardson does a fine job as narrator and, most importantly, Lee gets the dogs right. I am delighted to know there are more books in the Riverbend series.  I can’t wait to revisit our crime fighting canines and their kindly trainers.

Purchase Links

Audible: https://www.audible.com/pd/A-Nose-for-Mischief-Audiobook/B09RTKC6RK

Kobo: https://www.kobo.com/us/en/audiobook/a-nose-for-mischief-1

Apple Books: https://books.apple.com/us/audiobook/a-nose-for-mischief/id1605764153

Google Play: https://play.google.com/store/audiobooks/details/K_T_Lee_A_Nose_for_Mischief?id=AQAAAEB8uQT5aM

Author Bio –

K.T. Lee is a writer, mom, and engineer who grew up on a steady diet of books from a wide variety of genres. She’s the author of multiple books, including those in the Riverbend K-9 Series and The Calculated Series.

Social Media Links –

https://www.instagram.com/ktleeauthor/

https://www.facebook.com/ktleewrites

Narrator Bio

Ann Richardson has been happily sequestered away narrating in her home studio since 2008. She narrates for large audiobook publishers such as Blackstone, Penguin Random House, MacMillan, Oasis, Tantor, and many others, in addition to smaller, independent publishers and directly with authors. Her performances have garnered several Earphones awards and glowing reviews in AudioFile Magazine. She is based in the San Francisco Bay Area, but spent her youth in the Midwest, where she grew up surrounded by animals and cornfields. “I’m so lucky to have discovered what I was truly called to do with my talents and energy. I fall in love with nearly every book I narrate, and am also incredibly grateful to work with such talented authors and publishers in this cohesive, supportive industry.”

Social Media Links –

@hersmoothvoice

https://www.instagram.com/ann_richardson_narrator/

https://www.facebook.com/Annrichardsonnarrator/

https://www.linkedin.com/in/annrichardsonnarrator/

Giveaway to Win 10 x Audio Copies of A Nose For Mischief via Author’s Direct. (Open INT)

*Terms and Conditions –Worldwide entries welcome.  Please enter using the Rafflecopter box linked above.  The winner will be selected at random via Rafflecopter from all valid entries and will be notified by Twitter and/or email. If no response is received within 7 days then Rachel’s Random Resources reserves the right to select an alternative winner. Open to all entrants aged 18 or over.  Any personal data given as part of the competition entry is used for this purpose only and will not be shared with third parties, with the exception of the winners’ information. This will passed to the giveaway organiser and used only for fulfilment of the prize, after which time Rachel’s Random Resources will delete the data.  I am not responsible for despatch or delivery of the prize.

Foraging for Murder, Finding Only Comedy Gold

‘Foraging for Murder’ by Simon Whaley

MORTIFORDE’S FOOD FESTIVAL IS A RECIPE FOR MURDER.

Three butchers. Two deaths. One four-hundred-year-old grudge.

It’s Aldermaston’s first food festival as the Eighth Marquess of Mortiforde and it’s not going well. One butcher is missing. Another has been threatened. And the Vegetarian Society has been sent a meaty ultimatum. 

Meanwhile, Lady Mortiforde desperately needs her husband to find some wild boar meat for her savoury pie entry into the festival’s Bake Off competition.

When the Council’s Chief Archivist disappears, along with the Food History Marquee’s star attraction, a seventeenth-century recipe book, Aldermaston has all the ingredients of a murder mystery that’s been marinating for over four hundred years.

Can he find the missing butchers before it’s too late? Will Lady Mortiforde avoid a soggy bottom in the Bake Off competition? And why do all the butchers take their pet pigs for a walk in the woods at night?

The first of Simon Whaley’s Marquess of Mortiforde Mysteries novels, ‘Blooming Murder’ was one of those novels which crept up on you unawares. I was completely bowled over by it and, in my review, describe it as, “essentially, what would happen if Gardener’s World had an illicit love child by Midsomer Murders via the work of Tom Sharpe. And it’s all the better for it.”

Whilst ‘Foraging for Murder’ can’t really harness the same take-you-unawares quality of the original, the sequel – set two years into Aldermaston’s reign as the Marquess – retains the same down to earth humour and, well, bonkers cast of loveable characters. 

This time, the butchers are being set against the vegetarians as the Borderlandshire Burger Competition looms. We are in safe hands with Whaley a man unafraid of capturing the class-based absurdities of British life.

Purchase Links 

UK – https://www.amazon.co.uk/Foraging-Murder-Marquess-Mortiforde-Mysteries-ebook/dp/B09LZ8SC6F/

US – https://www.amazon.com/Foraging-Murder-Marquess-Mortiforde-Mysteries-ebook/dp/B09LZ8SC6F/

Author Bio

Simon Whaley is an author, writer and photographer who lives in the hilly bit of Shropshire. Foraging for Murder is the second in his Marquess of Mortiforde Mysteries, set in the idyllic Welsh Borders – a place many people struggle to locate on a map (including by some of those who live here). He’s written several non-fiction books, many if which contain his humorous take on the world, including the bestselling ‘One Hundred Ways For A Dog To Train Its Human’ and two editions in the hugely popular Bluffer’s Guide series (‘The Bluffer’s Guide to Dogs’ and ‘The Bluffer’s Guide to Hiking’). His short stories have appeared in ‘Take A Break’, ‘Woman’s Weekly Fiction Special’, ‘The Weekly News’ and ‘The People’s Friend’. Meanwhile his magazine articles have delighted readers in a variety of publications including ‘BBC Countryfile’, ‘The People’s Friend’, ‘Coast’, ‘The Simple Things’ and ‘Country Walking’.

Simon lives in Shropshire (which just happens to be a Welsh Border county) and, when he gets stuck with his writing, he tramps the Shropshire hills looking for inspiration and something to photograph. Some of his photographs appear on the national and regional BBC weather broadcasts under his BBC WeatherWatcher nickname of Snapper Simon. (For those of you who don’t know, they get a lot of weather in Shropshire.)

Social Media Links – 

Twitter: https://twitter.com/simonwhaley

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

No Disasters Here With the Dynamic Duo

‘Cupid Calamity’ by Evie Alexander and Kelly Kay

From the minds of Evie Alexander and Kelly Kay, comes a disastrously perfect blind date and a wild night out. Insta-love meets insta-disaster in these laugh-out-loud Valentine’s day novellas.

‘Animal Attraction’ – By Evie Alexander
Overworked, underpaid, and perpetually single, Laurie is stuck in a rut. A birthday on Valentine’s day is bad enough, but when her insensitive colleagues drag her to a secret Safari dining experience, her day hits rock bottom – she’s terrified of animals.

Workaholic Ben has just swapped the States for Somerset. He’s on track to fulfil a childhood dream, and the only date he wants on Valentine’s day is a business one. But when his fantasy woman approaches with an offer he can’t refuse, his priorities start to change.

Laurie and Ben have an instant connection and their chemistry is wild. Unfortunately so are the animals. When the menagerie goes into meltdown they’re thrown into a Darwinian Hunger Games, fighting for their lives as well as love. Can Businessman Ben unleash his inner Tarzan and save Laurie? Or has this survival of the fittest reached the point of no return?

‘Stupid Cupid’ – by Kelly Kay
Resourceful Sabrina always puts others’ needs first. She never thought she’d be abandoning a blind date to run off with a stranger. But now she’s got the chance to face her demons and choose happiness – even if it’s just for one night.

Charmer Patrick can make any situation work in his favor. But snark and humor won’t be enough to win Sabrina’s heart. He’s got to dig deep, open up, and take on fate as well as New York City.

Armed with a fire extinguisher, a cobbler’s hammer, and an EpiPen, can Patrick and Sabrina survive the worst-best date of their lives and find true love? Or will they lose each other as well as the plot?


Amazon.co.uk: shorturl.at/gnuvE

Back in the mists of time, well 2004 anyway, there was a one season wonder which aired on Channel 4 in the UK and BBC America in – you know – America, called ‘Ny-Lon’.

Starring Rashida Jones and Stephen Moyer it centred on an Englishman and an American woman as they tried to make a transatlantic relationship work at a time when that was actually becoming possible for “normal” people. Although the show was not especially successful commercially, hence the one season run, I liked it. It was a little like a po-faced version of ‘Catastrophe’.

 ‘Ny-Lon’ was actually what this book reminded me of, which is hilarious because the one thing you can guarantee is that neither Evie Alexander or Kelly Kay come across as po-faced!

Both these tales are as saucy as the other piece of work by Alexander I previously reviewed (https://pajnewman.com/2021/10/18/50-shades-of-monarch-of-the-glen/) and they have a gentle humour and a true niceness which makes them zip along very pleasingly.

Framed by a chance meeting in an airport between existing characters from the authors’ previous work, ‘Cupid Calamity’ is sort of like a Marvel/Avengers meet up for sexy romance novelists.

Thoroughly recommended if this is your milieu.

Author Bio

Evie Alexander is the author of sexy romantic comedies with a very British sense of humour. She takes a method approach to her work, believing her capacity to repeatedly fail at life and love is what has given her such a rich supply of material for her writing.

Her interests include reading, eating, saving the world, and fantasising about people who only exist between the pages of her books. She lives in the West country with her family.

Website: https://eviealexanderauthor.com/

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

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

Twitter: https://twitter.com/Evie_author

Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/21611777.Evie_Alexander

BookBub: https://www.bookbub.com/profile/evie-alexander

Pinterest: https://www.pinterest.co.uk/eviealexanderauthor/

Kelly Kay

Kelly Kay is a writer, married to a writer, mother of a creative dynamo of a nine-year-old boy and currently a little sleepy. She is a klutz and goofball and loves lipstick as much as her Chuck Taylors. (Biography selected from https://www.kellykayromance.com/)

https://www.facebook.com/groups/kellykaybookblends

https://www.instagram.com/kelly_kay_books/

https://www.kellykayromance.com/

What’s Harder Than Nails?

‘Diamond Geezer’ by Gillian Godden

Diamond by name…

Handsome, wealthy and successful, lawyer Nick Diamond is a man who commands and expects respect from everyone he meets. People think he is a man to be trusted. They are wrong.

Deadly by nature.

Because away from his glittering life in upper-class Chelsea, Nick is keeping a dark and dangerous secret. One that takes him to the slum estates of Glasgow and a very different world.

Nick will do anything to keep his secret under wraps, because if it’s ever revealed it would be his downfall.

Don’t miss this brilliant new gangland story from Gillian Godden – guaranteed to keep you on the edge of your seat! Perfect for fans of Kimberley Chambers, Heather Atkinson and Caz Finlay.

Purchase Linkhttps://amzn.to/3crRhSM

At various times on this blog, I have praised the work that Boldwood Books are doing. Authors like Alison Knight, Heather Atkinson and Caro Savage are really doing a good job of ploughing the furrow laid by authors like Martina Cole before them.

A new, at least to me, addition to the Boldwood stable is Gillan Godden, a writer with the sort of colourful biography which makes me want to reader her life story and a sense of character and plotting which makes me keen to revisit her back catalogue.

Here we have a scenario which begins in the meaner tower blocks of the East End of Glasgow and there is no let up from the diamond hard (geddit?) action as low level drug dealers meet sticky ends and we are given insights into the striations of the various criminal activities we are exposed to.

A fascinating tale which oscillates between locations and social classes with the crispness of a well timed punch, this is an excellent guns and gangsters rollercoaster.

Author Bio –

Gillian Godden is a brilliantly reviewed writer of gangland fiction as well as a full-time NHS Key Worker in Hull. She lived in London for over thirty years, where she sets her thrillers, and during this time worked in various stripper pubs and venues which have inspired her stories. She has signed a six-book contract with Boldwood for a new series. In addition, Boldwood will be reissuing her five backlist titles.

Social Media Links –   

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

Twitter  https://twitter.com/GGodden

Newsletter Sign Up: https://bit.ly/GillianGoddenNewsletter

Spirits on the Rise?

‘The Cocktail Bar’ by Isabella May

Rock star, River Jackson, is back in his hometown of Glastonbury to open a cocktail bar… and the locals aren’t impressed.

Seductive Georgina is proving too hot to handle; band mate, Angelic Alice, is messing with his heart and his head; his mum is a hippie-dippy liability; his school friends have resorted to violence – oh, and his band manager, Lennie, AND the media are on his trail.

But River is armed with a magical Mexican elixir which will change the lives of three lucky people. Once the Mexican wave of joy takes a hold of the town, he’s glad he didn’t lose his proverbial bottle.

Pity he hasn’t taken better care of the real one…

Purchase Link – https://mybook.to/TheCocktailBar

Full disclosure: I’m not sure that I am at my best when drinking cocktails. I’m not sure if it is the pure variety of different alcohols mixed together or the number I am inclined to try and drink, but I believe I become more argumentative and difficult when cocktails are the libations of the day (More argumentative? C’est impossible… Ed)

Obviously, this is a sense shared by the inhabitants of Glastonbury, who are represented as far from at their best in Isabella May’s ‘The Cocktail Bar’. It is not an area of the country I know especially well and, if the locals’ response to a cocktail bar includes random acts of violence and scheming fit for peak audience Dallas or Dynasty, then perhaps I will give the region a swerve.

What is not in doubt is May’s talent as a writer. Despite detours into the mysticism of Mexico which leave me cold, she has an enormous joie de vive about her writing. She has crackling dialogue which the characters sling back and forth and a nice line in personality driven action. She also has one of the most effusive and entertaining forwards I’ve read in a while.

Author Bio –

Isabella May lives in (mostly) sunny Andalusia, Spain with her husband, daughter and son, creatively inspired by the mountains and the sea. She grew up on Glastonbury’s ley lines and loves to feature her quirky English hometown in her stories.

After a degree in Modern Languages and European Studies at UWE, Bristol (and a year working abroad in Bordeaux and Stuttgart), Isabella bagged an extremely jammy and fascinating job in children’s publishing… selling foreign rights for novelty, board, pop-up and non-fiction books all over the world; in every language from Icelandic to Korean, Bahasa Indonesian to Papiamento!

All of which has fuelled her curiosity and love of international food and travel – both feature extensively in her cross-genre novels, fused with a dollop of romcom, and a sprinkle of magical realism.

Isabella is also a Level 4 Pranic Healer and a stillbirth mum.

Social Media Links –

www.isabellamayauthor.com

Twitter – @IsabellaMayBks

Facebook – https://www.facebook.com/IsabellaMayAuthor/

Instagram – @isabella_may_author

Giveaway to Win Kindle Copies of all of Isabella May’s Eight currently published books in the Foodie Romance series (Open INT)

http://www.rafflecopter.com/rafl/display/33c69494470/

Prize includes, The Cocktail Bar, Oh! What a Pavlova, Costa del Churros, The Ice Cream Parlour, The Cake Fairies, The Chocolate Box, Bubblegum and Blazers, Twinkle, Twinkle, Little Star

*Terms and Conditions –Worldwide entries welcome.  Please enter using the Rafflecopter box below.  The winner will be selected at random via Rafflecopter from all valid entries and will be notified by Twitter and/or email. If no response is received within 7 days then Rachel’s Random Resources reserves the right to select an alternative winner. Open to all entrants aged 18 or over.  Any personal data given as part of the competition entry is used for this purpose only and will not be shared with third parties, with the exception of the winners’ information. This will passed to the giveaway organiser and used only for fulfilment of the prize, after which time Rachel’s Random Resources will delete the data.  I am not responsible for despatch or delivery of the prize.

COVER REVEAL: ‘Murder at the Summer Fete’

I reviewed the first instalment of the Dedley End Mystery series, ‘Murder at the House on the Hill’ in September of last year. My headline, (“If Downton did Homicide”) seemed to summarize the plot pretty well and I can’t wait to catch up with the gang as they go after another murder in the countryside.

The cover of Dedley End Mystery, Book 2, ‘Murder at the Summer Fete’

Synopsis:

A fete worse than death…

After finding the killer of Lucy Roth six months ago, life has settled back to normal for bookshop owner, Nancy Hunter, and her grandmother, Jane. The annual Dedley End village fete is just around the corner, and Nancy is delighted when bestselling author, Thomas Green, agrees to launch his first new novel in ten years there.

But then a series of sinister events lead Nancy to realise someone is trying to sabotage their fete, so she, along with Jane and their journalist friend Jonathan, must turn detective to discover who isn’t at all thrilled about the return of Thomas Green.

When a body is discovered at the summer fete, the death scene mirroring that in Thomas’ latest bestseller, they realise that there’s another killer in Dedley End, but can they outsmart someone who appears to have pulled off the perfect crime?

The clues are right under Nancy and Jane’s noses, if only they can find them. Because the answers to life’s questions can always be found in a book…!

A twisty, unputdownable cozy mystery that fans of Richard Osman, S.J. Bennett and ‘The Marlow Murder Club’ will love.

Author Bio

Victoria Walters writes up-lifting and inspiring stories. She’s the author of the bestselling GLENDALE HALL series, which continues with its third book HOPEFUL HEARTS at GLENDALE HALL in September, as well as two other standalone novels – SUMMER at the KINDNESS CAFE, and THE SECOND LOVE of my LIFE. She has been chosen for WHSmith Fresh Talent and shortlisted for two RNA awards. Victoria was also picked as an Amazon Rising Star, and her books have won wide reader acclaim.

Victoria is a full-time author. She lives in Surrey with her cat Harry, and loves books, clothes, music, going out for tea and cake, and posting photos on Instagram.

Find out more about Victoria by following on Instagram at @vickyjwalters,

Twitter: @Vicky_Walters 

She blogs at https://www.victoria-writes.com/.

You can pre-order ‘Murder at the Summer Fete’ ahead of it’s March 17th release here:

The Ties That Bind? It’s a Family Thing

‘Blood Ties’ by Heather Atkinson

The Queen of Glasgow, Toni McVay, is no ordinary crime boss.

For one thing, she likes to discipline disappointing employees by scooping out their eyeballs and keeping them as souvenirs. Jamie Gray and his gang the Blood Brothers are happy to do her dirty work in return for lessons in the ways of the local underworld, but are in no doubt that they need to keep Toni sweet to keep themselves safe.

Rival families The Gordons and The Thompsons are ready for a turf war, keen to take over the lucrative Gallowburn estate, and weaken Toni’s grip on the city. But can the old enemies really trust each other enough to join forces? And will their assumption that the Blood Brothers are the weak link in the McVay empire, prove to be their greatest mistake?

Meanwhile Jamie’s past refuses to stay hidden, and as his biggest secret looks set to be revealed with explosive consequences, Jamie faces the battle of his life. To keep his family safe, to keep his friends safe, to keep himself safe, and to keep the woman he loves alive.  

If you love Martina Cole, Kimberley Chambers, and Jessie Keane, you’ll love Heather Atkinson. Discover the bestselling gangland author Heather Atkinson and you’ll never look back… 

Purchase Link – https://amzn.to/3iFP7CA

It is almost exactly a year since I first reviewed a novel by Heather Atkinson. Attracted by the Glasgow setting, I was full of praise for Atkinson’s ‘Blood Brothers’ and saw her as a “safe pair of hands”.

In June, I reviewed the sequel to ‘Blood Brothers’, ‘Bad Blood’ and I went on an almost hallucinatory literary mash up, taking the bone jarring violence of the novel – especially in the visceral opening battle scene on the streets of her fictional scheme, Gallowgate – and mashed it up with a plethora of ‘Macbeth’ quotes.

Which was different, if nothing else.

Here, though, Atkinson’s latest novel begins to move into different territory. There is a calmer tone, especially in the opening stages of the novel and the sense in which the author is focusing less on the crash, bang, wallop-there-goes-a-chain-to-the-face of the earlier instalments and more on the expanding cast of characters who inhabit the scheme.

It is like the world is expanding and we are peeking behind the curtains of these characters lives. There’s also a humour and a lightness of tone which was not so much in evidence in the earlier outings for these characters.

Fans of the genre and this author should not be concerned, however, there are still plenty of battles and Machiavellian scheming gangsters to go around – and that’s before we get as far as the women who, as in the Godfather, are more dangerous than shotguns.

Atkinson remains an extremely safe pair of hands ‘Blood Ties’ heralds yet another enjoyable and accomplished outing for the folk of the Gallowgate.

There is one moan I have with the novel – although I doubt it is serious or will damage anyone’s enjoyment of the work- No one in Glasgow has called a tattie scone a potato cake in the history of the world.

Either way, I’m sure we’ll live – which is more than can be said when you go against the Blood Brothers.

Author Bio –

Heather Atkinson is the author of over fifty books – predominantly in the crime fiction genre. Although Lancashire born and bred she now lives with her family, including twin teenage daughters, on the beautiful west coast of Scotland.

Social Media Links –  

Website https://www.heatheratkinsonbooks.com/ 

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

Twitter https://twitter.com/HeatherAtkinso1

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

Newsletter Sign Up Link http://bit.ly/HeatherAtkinsonNewsletter

Bookbub profile https://www.bookbub.com/authors/heather-atkinson

Boldwood’s IG account – https://www.instagram.com/bookandtonic/

Alex Rider Returns

Today, December 3, sees the return of Alex Rider for the second series based upon the Anthony Horowitz novels. Below is a repost of the original blog post I wrote after having watched Series One. I can’t tell you how excited I am for this second series, as well as the opportunity to hear Samm Henshaw’s belting theme tune in action again either. Enjoy!

REPOST: Full disclosure: I came to this series a fan of the books. I think Anthony Horowitz’s (@anthonyhorowitz) Baby Bond character, now spanning at least 12 novels, is one of the prime reasons why young adult fiction continued to thrive post its initial Potter boom.

I saw the 2006 Stormbreaker adaptation which was, perhaps,  a little “too full of blue sky thinking” really. But I was well disposed towards this and my hopes went up when I realised that they are skating over the top of most of Stormbreaker, the novel, and really beginning with Point Blanc, my enthusiasm increased not least because I think this is probably the best novel in the whole of the Alex Rider series.

So, was I disappointed? Nope. I think, considering the crowded market, the pressure of adapting novels as popular as this, Eleventh Hour TV and Amazon Prime have done an exceptional job.

Casting Otto Farrant (Thomas Grey in The White Queen) as the eponymous lead no doubt attracted some negativity because he’s 20 rather than the 14 that Alex Rider is in the novels but he’s is really good as a slightly ageless late teen and it allows the character to look very convincing in the fighting and action scenes which are put together brilliantly.

One of the points about the novels which made them such a best seller is that although this is Junior James Bond, the actual world of espionage is seen almost through a jaded Le Carre-esque haze of internecine squabbles, blackmail and skulduggery. Rider is a reluctant spy forced to do the bidding of a morality-free state by adults exploiting his skills. There is no shying away from that in this adaptation.

In fact, far from shying away, the production design reflects. Gone are the primary colours of the earlier movie. Here, MI6 is rendered in greys and ash tones. The very strong supporting cast playing Alan Blunt (Game of Thrones Stephen Dillane and Line of Duty’s always excellent Vicky McClure are rooted in this world and seems to exist in a gunmetal sepia which is atmospheric and adds tension and verisimilitude to the whole series.

Added to this mix, Ronke Adekoluejo (Dr Who) as house keeper Jack Starbright and Alex’s best friend Tom Harris, another Games of Thrones alum Brenock O’Connor, a character vastly expanded from the novels, are both very well drawn and manage that difficult task of being real, rounded characters as well as vehicles for exposition and moving the story on.

The set design for Point Blanc is breathtakingly good – you can smell all of that Amazon money just pouring off the screen – and the action set pieces (the make shift snowboard, if you know, you know) are done brilliantly. Being the stunt co-ordinator on this project must have been

The sound design is also a huge bonus. Both the tension building scenes and the action are underpinned by some subtle yet effective scores and, always a bonus, there is a belter of an opening theme tune by London artist Samm Henshaw. I wouldn’t be against EON coming and sniffing around Henshaw for the next grown up Bond theme, although there’s every chance Farrant will be in an old folk’s home by the time they get around to making whatever comes after No Time to Die.

Is it perfect? No, but what is? Guy Burt has done a superb job with adapting Horowitz’s world but occasionally the dialogue is a bit clunky. There is an actual “They crossed the line,”
“No, they can’t even see the line anymore,” exchange which is just… Ouch.

Also, I’m fairly sure the street where Alex lives bears an uncanny resemblance to the one from BBC comedy Outnumbered which did keep making me expect Hugh Denis to wander out on the street and tell everyone to keep it down, which did pull me out of the story a little.

Finally, there is also something of a question about exactly who this is marketed towards – but teens are by their nature neither fully adult nor fully children and that does sit well with the tone of this production which is too violent for little kids but perhaps too slow moving for distracted second screeners?

However, any show with the charm and confidence to have a character wear a t-shirt saying, The Book Was Better, has got to be worth watching, right? Roll on Season Two!

Win a signed copy of ‘A Leap of Faith at the Vineyard in Alsace’ as well as Festive Goodies

Giveaway to Win a signed copy of A Leap of Faith at the Vineyard in Alsace plus some festive goodies (Open to UK Only)

Prize contains the following:

  • a signed paperback copy of A Leap of Faith at the Vineyard in Alsace
  • a sachet of Galaxy instant hot chocolate
  • a tin of RHS stem ginger cookies
  • a RHS Christmas bauble with a snowdrop decoration on it.

*Terms and Conditions –UK entries welcome.  Please enter using the Rafflecopter box below or follow the link above.  The winner will be selected at random via Rafflecopter from all valid entries and will be notified by Twitter and/or email.

If no response is received within 7 days then Rachel’s Random Resources reserves the right to select an alternative winner. Open to all entrants aged 18 or over.  Any personal data given as part of the competition entry is used for this purpose only and will not be shared with third parties, with the exception of the winners’ information.

This will passed to the giveaway organiser and used only for fulfilment of the prize, after which time Rachel’s Random Resources will delete the data.  I am not responsible for despatch or delivery of the prize.

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To read a review of ‘A Leap of Faith in the Vineyard in Alsace’ just follow THIS LINK