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/

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.

http://www.rafflecopter.com/rafl/display/33c69494458/

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

Days of Wine and Rosé in Alsace

For your chance to win a signed copy as well as a box of festive goodies, follow this LINK

‘A Leap of Faith at the Vineyard in Alsace’ by Julie Stock

It’s winter at The Vineyard in Alsace, and wedding bells are in the air

How do you know when you’re ready for love?

Ellie Robinson has spent her life running from commitment following the breakdown of her parents’ marriage when she was young. She doesn’t believe in happy ever afters and the last thing she wants is to settle down in one place when she could be travelling the world.

Having moved from place to place throughout his childhood, Henri Weiss now calls the vineyard in Alsace home, and he loves the stability the vineyard and the people on it give him. While he enjoys travelling, it’s always good to come home again.

Following an extended travelling trip together, Ellie and Henri find their differences more marked than before, despite their love for each other being even stronger. Then a series of shocks in Ellie’s personal life throws things into turmoil, leaving Ellie unsure as to how to get everything she wants. And Henri facing the loss of the future he has dreamed of.

Can Ellie and Henri reconcile their very different desires and take a leap of faith on their love for each other? Will they get the happy ever after they’ve both been longing for?

Escape to The Vineyard in Alsace once again for this uplifting, romantic read and enjoy Christmas at Domaine des Montagnes.

Alsace has always held a fascination for me, not entirely logically. I only came across it in history class at school where its sole function seemed to be to be traded between the French and Germans like some territorial top trumps card but, you know, with real people and actual land. So, when Julie Stock’s latest novel came into my review pile, it would have been rude not to have a peek.

If I had known that this novel was the third in a trilogy, then I might have had second thoughts, but I’m very pleased I went ahead with reading and reviewing it any way.

What we have here is the perennial odd couple romance. Ellie and Henri are both decent, honourable people – but nevertheless – they are two people of very different characters. Ellie has the wanderlust in her DNA, Henri wants to stay rooted to his soil and his vineyard.

Personally, I want to do both but what do I know?

Add in the “events, dear boy, events” which have a tendency to beset us all – how’s that wanderlust working out for most of us over the last 24 months? – and you have a novel which zips along as light on the palate as a decent rosé and designed to warm your heart as the weather outside dips in temperature.

Stock shifts the narrative between her two protagonists, allowing the reader an insight into their thoughts and feelings which gives a clarity to their perspectives and acts as weight to their seemingly irreconcilable differences. This can be a high wire act for an author – if the voices are not distinct enough, it grates, if the events too trivial, the characters come off as whiny. Stock navigates these potentially choppy waters with aplomb.

As the days draw shorter in the northern hemisphere (pretty drastically if, like me, you live further north than Oslo) and as variant 3,000-and-something of the dreaded C-lurgy appears on our festive horizons, being encouraged by a charming little novel such as this to remember that the sun on your back, a loved one by your side and a glass of the good stuff in your hand is a path to happiness you can’t go wrong from.

Purchase Links

A Leap of Faith – mybook.to/ALeapofFaith

The 3 book series page – mybook.to/ddmseries

Author Bio –

Julie Stock writes contemporary feel-good romance from around the world: novels, novellas and short stories. She published her debut novel, From Here to Nashville, in 2015, after starting to write as an escape from the demands of her day job as a teacher. A Leap of Faith at the Vineyard in Alsace is her eleventh book, and the third in the Domaine des Montagnes series set on a vineyard.

Julie is now a full-time author, and loves every minute of her writing life. When not writing, she can be found reading, her favourite past-time, running, a new hobby, or cooking up a storm in the kitchen, glass of wine in hand.

Julie is a member of the Romantic Novelists’ Association and The Society of Authors. She is married and lives with her family in Cambridgeshire in the UK.

Social Media Links –

Website

Twitter

WIN ONE OF 5 PAPERBACK COPIES OF ‘THE MURKY WORLD OF TIMOTHY WALL (UK ONLY)

Giveaway to Win 5 x Paperback copies of The Murky World of Timothy Wall (Open to UK Only)

*Terms and Conditions –UK 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.

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Old Friends and Home Cooked Meals

‘Bruno’s Challenges and Other Dordogne Tales’ by Martin Walker

A bumper collection of delightful stories featuring Bruno, Chief of Police and France’s favourite cop, all set in the beautiful Dordogne valley and the ravishing Perigord region of the south west. Here is a landscape of meandering rivers with medieval castles overlooking their banks, of lush hillsides and spreading vineyards, of delicious local wines and world renowned cuisine.

With titles like ‘The Chocolate War’; ‘The Birthday Lunch’; ‘Oystercatcher’; ‘A Market Tale’ and ‘Fifty Million Bubbles’, you may be sure that champagne and gastronomy will feature as well as cosy crime in ‘Dangerous Vacation’. Bruno strides through these tales, staying calm. settling local disputes and keeping safe his beloved town of St Denis.

Only on one occasion does he panic: in ‘Bruno’s Challenge’, his friend Ivan, proprietor and chef of the town’s popular eatery, suddenly collapses on the eve of a large anniversary dinner, and he asks Bruno to take over the restaurant. After a few protests followed by some deep breaths, the inimitable Bruno meets his challenge and saves the day. (Synopsis courtesy of Quercus Books)
https://www.quercusbooks.co.uk/titles/martin-walker/brunos-challenge-other-dordogne-tales/9781529418125

To be honest, I’m pretty firmly on the record as a fan of Martin Walker and his Bruno novels, so this is not exactly going to be impartial criticism.

https://pajnewman.com/2021/05/27/a-warm-heart-for-a-cold-case/

In essence, I love them. Whenever Walker launches his noble rugby-playing, cuisine-loving, unlucky-in-love village policeman on the literary world, I’m buying it and I am ready to be transported to the Perigord, sign me up and destination added to the bucket list thank you very much.

Interestingly, what I do not like is short stories. Not sure why; it’s a prejudice like an aversion to sci-fi or the ballet. I can understand that these things might have appeal, but I kind of feel like it’s not for me.

Except, these are for me. I’d actually purchased the festive story, Le Père Noël, previously as a Kindle single and it bears re-reading and is a lovely showcase for Bruno’s generosity of spirit which is at the heart of this series of stories.

The other delight of this collection of stories are two-fold. Firstly, the gang’s (nearly) all here: Pamela, the Mad Englishwoman – who is neither mad nor English which is charming as ever – Isabelle, the itch Bruno can never scratch, Florence, the schoolteacher who Bruno saved and installed at the local école and who is the woman the fans think he should end up with. Jack Crimson, retired intelligence agent assisting Bruno as he encounters various dangers, and his daughter Miranda who now works with Pamela and the horses. Finally, local doctor Fabiola and her partner Gilles, late of Paris Match and Sarajevo where he initially met our war hero Bruno, are all present and correct and often eating.

Secondly, there is the regional cuisine of the Perigord. Walker, Bruno and his fictional friends are all dedicated to these regional delicacies: as are Walker’s daughters Kate and Fanny who appear to be instrumental in the cookbook which exists (only in German at the moment, although I’ve heard tell of an English language translation on the horizon). It is this passion which sees stories of cooking flood through this collection like flavours layered in a well-made Cassoulet.

And so I have been converted to the short story as a form, at least when it brings my old fictional friends a-calling and leaves me sated for their company but hungry for dinner.

Purchase Links:

Amazon: https://www.amazon.co.uk/gp/search/ref=sr_adv_b/?field-isbn=9781529418125&tag=hachetteuk-21

Apple: http://geo.itunes.apple.com/gb/book/isbn9781529418125?app=music&at=10lwkR

Bookshop.org: https://uk.bookshop.org/books/bruno-s-challenge-other-dordogne-tales/9781529418101

Google: https://play.google.com/store/search?q=9781529418125&c=books

Kobo: http://kobobooks.com/search/search.html?q=9781529418125

EBook.com: http://www.ebooks.com/aff.asp?AID=42562&term=9781529418125&CreditorID:6500

Waterstones: https://www.waterstones.com/book/brunos-challenge-and-other-dordogne-tales/martin-walker/9781529418101

Martin Walker

After a long career of working in international journalism and for think tanks, Martin Walker now gardens, cooks, explores vineyards, writes, travels, and has never been more busy. He divides his time between Washington, D.C., and the Dordogne. You can find more about Walker at his website, http://www.brunochiefofpolice.com/about-the-author.html

Murder and Mayhem Ideal for the Time of Year

‘Murder at the Abbey’ by Frances Evesham

The Brand NEW instalment in the bestselling Exham-on-Sea series.

An unsolved murder echoes down the corridors of Cleeve Abbey for years.

The Exham-on-Sea’s History Society’s annual summer picnic comes to an abrupt end when human bones are discovered in Washford River, beside historic Cleeve Abbey.

Thrilled to find evidence of a possible centuries-old murder mystery, the members of the society organise a ghost-hunting night in the ruins of Cleeve Abbey, despite amateur sleuth Libby Forest’s reservations.

Libby is a woman of many talents, a baker, chocolatier, even a reluctant sleuth, but she’s no fan of the supernatural and her doubts are justified when a friend is attacked under cover of darkness at the ghost-hunt.

Distressed and angry, Libby sets out with her new husband Max and their two dogs Bear and Shipley to uncover the connection between the murder of a sixteenth century monk and a present-day attack in picturesque Somerset.

With friends and neighbours as suspects, Libby and Max close in on the culprit only to find that others are still in danger.

There’s no time to lose as the sins of the past threaten lives in the community.

Murder at the Abbey is the eighth in a series of Exham-on-Sea Murder Mysteries from the small English seaside town full of quirky characters, sea air, and gossip.

Purchase Link – https://amzn.to/3BJyYn1

Sometimes in one’s reading life, you just want something which acts like hot chocolate on a cold autumn afternoon. I’m new to the world of Frances Evesham’s Exham-on-Sea Murder Mystery series, but I’m willing to say, her stories fit the bill.

Considering there are now seven previous instalments I need to catch up with, it is not a surprise that the characters feel comfortable in each other’s company but what Evesham does capture so well is the niggling, internecine rivalries and petty irritations which can so blight village life.

It seems to be the season for duel aspect narratives. Coincidentally, this week I was reviewing another novel where the events ran along two timelines – https://pajnewman.com/2021/11/09/jesus-only-had-12-and-one-of-those-was-a-double/ – and rewatching the Wench is Dead episode of perennial where the ailing detective sets out to solve a Victorian murder.

One of the things I enjoyed most about this was Libby’s determination to discount the supernatural. Firstly, I have a deep rooted prejudice against those type of ghost stories on the grounds it’s a narrative cop out and secondly, setting her up as the hard bitten rationalist allows us to enjoy her intellectually outpacing her mentally sluggish neighbours.

‘Murder at the Abbey’ is a fast moving novel with charming settings and eccentric characters in the best traditions of the cozy crime genre. Be sure to sup it down with some hot chocolate on a chill evening.

Author Bio – Frances Evesham is the author of the hugely successful Exham-on-Sea mysteries set in her home county of Somerset. Boldwood has republished the complete series. Frances has also started a new cosy crime series set in rural Herefordshire, the first of which was published in June 2020.


Social Media Links – 
 

Facebook https://www.facebook.com/frances.evesham.writer/

Twitter https://twitter.com/francesevesham  

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

Newsletter Sign Up Link https://bit.ly/FrancesEveshamSignUp  

Bookbub profile https://www.bookbub.com/authors/frances-evesham  

https://www.instagram.com/bookandtonic/

Cover Reveal: ‘A Desert Scorched Rose’

‘A Desert Scorched Rose’ by CL Tustin

Conaria 1964…
Leaving London far behind academic Victoria Barrington embarks on the trip of a lifetime, relishing her chance to explore the previously closed desert kingdom of Conaria. But things are not the way she expected and a chance purchase triggers a chain of events that will change everything.

Tadejah, the spoilt son of the king, anything he has ever wanted has been his for the taking. Ruthless, arrogant and passionately patriotic, when he spots a stolen piece of Conarian history on Victoria’s wrist his rage engenders an outrageous plan for its return.

Stranded in the desert, far from civilisation, her guide vanishes leaving Victoria to battle her heart and face the machinations of a man who has never been denied… welcome to Conaria…

Pre-Order Links


amazon.co.uk/A-Desert-Scorched-Rose-C-L-Tustin-ebook/dp/B09K6Q6QMQ/

 amazon.com/A-Desert-Scorched-Rose-C-L-Tustin-ebook/dp/B09K6Q6QMQ/

Publication Date -11th November

About the author…

C L Tustin was born and raised in the East Midlands but spent her teenage years in Sydney, Australia. Returning to the UK in 1989 via Singapore and the Middle East the travel bug has never left her and she has explored countries and cities across the world.

C L Tustin began writing at the age of 11 when she didn’t see why James Bond had to be a man and created her own female version. Her first published novel “Escaping from the Shadows” was a romance with an undertone of threat set in the social media free world of 1990; she is currently working on both a prequel and a sequel to this book.

C L Tustin has worked for two major banks, a tool company, the MOD and the NHS. She volunteers for Butterfly Conservation and passionately supports rescue dogs. C L Tustin enjoys sci-fi, writing poetry, visiting cathedrals and has a diverse collection of books.

https://www.facebook.com/C-L-Tustin-Author-109346397535473/

50 Shades of Monarch of the Glen

‘Highland Games’ by Evie Alexander

A fiery heroine, a Scottish god, a cabin, a castle, and enough heat to warm the coldest Scottish winter…

Highland Games is an unputdownable, enemies-to-lovers, romantic comedy, with sparkle and sizzle and a guaranteed happy ending. This sexy, witty, debut from Evie Alexander will have you laughing, swooning, and staying up way past your bedtime…

Perfect for fans of Sally ThorneTalia Hibbert, Sophie Kinsella, and Helen Hoang. If you’re looking for a riotous romantic comedy with plenty of heat, then Highland Games is for you!

♥♥♥ Welcome to Kinloch, and the hottest winter Scotland’s ever seen. ♥♥♥

Zoe’s always played it safe, just as her parents wanted. But when her great-uncle dies and leaves her a ramshackle cabin in the Scottish Highlands, she decides it’s time to change her life.

Upping sticks seems like a good idea in her cosy flat in London, but the reality is very different. There’s no electricity or running water, the roof leaks and there’s no front door. If that wasn’t bad enough, she’s moved up in the depths of winter and her scorching hot neighbour wants her out.

Rory’s got a fifty thousand tonne problem. If he can’t make Kinloch castle profitable, he’s out of a job. He needs a clear head, but there’s someone living in the cabin he saw as his own and she’s turned his world upside down.

Rory needs Zoe out of Scotland, and out of his life. The trouble is, she has no intention of leaving.

Let the games begin…

Some books come with a bit of a health warning for me as a reader. I am a book blogger based in the Highlands – coincidentally located about an hour of Inverness as is the setting for this novel.

So, when Evie Alexander’s novel came across my door I was curious to see how she was going to handle the Englishwoman incoming to the Highlands – because, spoiler alert, incomers are not always universally welcomed up here.

Again, I should know, I am one. And there are plenty of my fellow compatriots who would do well to learn to shut their yaps.

So, aside from spending a vast amount of time trying to geolocate Alexander’s model for the village of Kinloch (unsuccessfully, you know I think this might be fiction?) I can tell you that Highland Games is a delight. Oh and that Zoe is exactly the sort of heroine who would be welcomed in the north.

Yes, she has the unrealistic expectations of how much it will cost to do up her dilapidated semi-bothy hovel that many do, but she also wants to fit in and respects the people and the location.

Alexander captures beautifully the warmth of Highland hospitality and the near food coma a visit to a local family can induce. She also captures something of the sadness of many of the country estates which are falling to wrack and ruin.

Obviously, what she is also does is weave a cinematic will-they/they-definitely-will-but-it’s-just-a-matter-of-time-until-they-get-over-themselves romance between free spirited Zoe and preposterously hunky, good with his hands – in every sense – Rory.

Honestly, the description was like looking in a mirror. We all look like that up here.

‘Highland Games’ does have the same issue which novels of this form and genre have: in order to keep the protagonists away from jumping on each other, both have to be incapable of just saying how they feel and this can grow increasingly implausible. Alexander navigates this with the very effective solution of including a hefty dollop of slapstick comedy which is a delight.

Overall, ‘Highland Games’ is a debut of astonishing assuredness and I really believe that Evie Alexander will return with more novels which I hope will have the same lightness of touch, smoothly flowing dialogue and, with any luck, bucolic Highland setting.

Pre-order Link – https://amzn.to/3la37GY

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/

Giveaway to Win a signed copy of Highland Games, Shortbread and more… (Open to UK Only)

Prize is a signed copy of Highland Games, Exclusive postcard and bookmark, Personalised heart & Shortbread

*Terms and Conditions –UK 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 be 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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Nothing Stale About These Remains

‘The Dark Remains’ by Ian Rankin and William McIlvanney

If the truth’s in the shadows, get out of the light …

Lawyer Bobby Carter did a lot of work for the wrong type of people. Now he’s dead and it was no accident. Besides a distraught family and a heap of powerful friends, Carter’s left behind his share of enemies. So, who dealt the fatal blow?

DC Jack Laidlaw’s reputation precedes him. He’s not a team player, but he’s got a sixth sense for what’s happening on the streets. His boss chalks the violence up to the usual rivalries, but is it that simple? As two Glasgow gangs go to war, Laidlaw needs to find out who got Carter before the whole city explodes.

William McIlvanney’s Laidlaw books changed the face of crime fiction. When he died in 2015, he left half a handwritten manuscript of Laidlaw’s first case. Now, Ian Rankin is back to finish what McIlvanney started. In The Dark Remains, these two iconic authors bring to life the criminal world of 1970s Glasgow, and Laidlaw’s relentless quest for truth. (Synopsis courtesy of Canongate)

Ok, I’m going to start with a caveat: never have I been more crabbit about a book review than this one.

As a Scotland-based book blogger, I have never chased harder, nor gone through so many channels or pulled as many puny strings as I have at my feeble disposal (short of messaging Rankin himself directly on social media. That just seemed icky) than I did when trying to get hold of an advanced copy of this book.

After all, I’m a middle aged white guy with a blog and I’m definitely in the top six million people in Scotland who blog about books. Don’t they know who I am?

No, they don’t. And I didn’t get a copy. And I was gutted. ‘Bugger them,’ I thought. I’m sure not having a review from me will decimate sales.

But it’s Ian Rankin. And William McIlvanney. And the audiobook is read by Brian Cox.

Ok, three of Scotland’s finest united? I crumpled like a gangster under a Jack Laidlaw interrogation.

Rankin is, in my irrelevant opinion, the best crime writer working today and joins a tiny list of authors who get bought no matter what. I have written about my admiration of Rankin’s Rebus series elsewhere, but here it bears repeating: he’s a writer who’s work I believe is going to be read in hundreds of years and outlive the ridiculous “literary” fiction which does nothing to accurately reflect its era and is dull to boot.

So, the best of the best, polishing off the original and the best in William McIlvanney.

The first piece of close reading (comprehension for those not in Scotland or of a certain vintage) I taught was an extract from ‘Laidlaw’. To this day, that novel remains a revelation in the use of simile and metaphor and the prose crackles with impactful imagery.

In these types of literary Frankensteins, it’s always tempting to spend a chunk of the novel trying to spot the joins.

The references to contemporary politics, the issues with Nixon and the creeping Americanisation of Scotland feels Rankinesqe.

Metaphors like “a hole deep enough to hold a coffin,” feels like vintage McIlvanney. I suspect this is the sort of case where I’m wrong on both counts.

But, mainly, who cares? This is the godfather being helped to posthumous glory by the pupil who became the master.

If I have a criticism, it’s actually with the production of the audiobook. The lack of spacing between chapter and even paragraph breaks means that it sounds like Cox has forgotten the words and is being rushed to catch up.

But this is a trifle and his performance is still excellent.

So, I’m pleased that I got over my mardy response to my rejections. Because this is the best in the business at the top of their game.

Highly, highly recommended.

Purchase Links

Bookshop.org

Waterstones

Authors

Ian Rankin

Born in the Kingdom of Fife in 1960, Ian Rankin graduated from the University of Edinburgh in 1982, and then spent three years writing novels when he was supposed to be working towards a PhD in Scottish Literature.

After university and before his success with his Rebus novels, Ian had a number of jobs including working as a grape-picker, a swineherd, a journalist for a hi-fi magazine, and a taxman. Following his marriage in 1986, he lived briefly in London where he worked at the National Folktale Centre, followed by a short time living in France, before returning to Edinburgh.

Ian Rankin has been elected a Hawthornden Fellow, and is also a past winner of the Chandler-Fulbright Award. He is the recipient of four Crime Writers’ Association Dagger Awards including the prestigious Diamond Dagger in 2005. In 2004, Ian won America’s celebrated Edgar Award for Resurrection Men. He has also been shortlisted for the Edgar and Anthony Awards in the USA, and won Denmark’s Palle Rosenkrantz prize, the French Grand Prix du Roman Noir and Germany’s Deutscher Krimipreis.

Ian Rankin is also the recipient of honorary degrees from the universities of Hull, Abertay, St Andrews and Edinburgh as well as The Open University. In 2019, he donated his archive of over 50 boxes of manuscripts, letters and paperwork to the National Library of Scotland.

Ian has received an OBE for services to literature, opting to receive the prize in his home city of Edinburgh, where he lives with his wife and two sons. (Biography courtesy of Hachette)

William McIlvanney

Photo by Ian Atkinson, courtesy of http://www.canongate.co.uk

William McIlvanney’s first novel, Remedy is None, won the Geoffrey Faber Memorial Prize and with Docherty he won the Whitbread Award for Fiction. Laidlaw and The Papers of Tony Veitch both gained Silver Daggers from the Crime Writers’ Association. Strange Loyalties, the third in the Detective Laidlaw trilogy, won the Glasgow Herald’s People’s Prize. He died in December 2015. (Biography courtesy of Canongate)