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.

http://www.rafflecopter.com/rafl/display/33c69494459/?

No Coal Here Just Backstories to Be Mined

‘The Murky World of Timothy Wall’ by Ian McFadyen

TO WIN A COPY OF ‘THE MURKY WORLD OF TIMOTHY WALL’ FOLLOW THIS LINK

When the body of Timothy Wall, a Private Detective, is fo und in his office, the querulous Inspector Carmichael discovers some surprising revelations and curious contradictions about the dead man. Loved by many and seemingly despised by others in equal measure, Timothy Wall’s whole world seems to be strewn with paradoxes.   

This fast-moving whodunnit, based in the North West of England, sees McFadyen’s detective team tackle one of their most taxing cases yet.

Who killed Timothy Wall? Will one of his numerous lovers or ex-partners provide the answer to the conundrum? And what about Tim’s involvement with the brothers Baybutt, the local bookmakers. Do they know more than they are telling?

As Carmichael and his team seek answers to these questions it becomes crystal clear that all was not quite how it seemed in the life of Timothy Wall. This, the nineth book in the Carmichael series, is full of twists, turns and red herrings that will keep the reader guessing right up to the bitter end. 

What is it about detective fiction that we like so much? I have no definitive answer, although like all great detectives I have my theories.

Something I do know is that I like the conclusion of the mystery, the detective proven correct, the world put to rights – at least for today.

I’m not sure what it was that attracted me to this latest in the Detective Carmichael series by Ian McFadyen. I’d not come across the stories before, I have no connection to Lancashire where they are set (in fact, to the best of my recollection, I’ve never been to Lancashire).

But, I do like a Private Investigator story and I do like a nice police procedural and here was a nice intersection of both: I was in.

Do I regret my choice? Not at all. The characters and setting are obviously well set after so many books and, as in Martin Walker’s Bruno Chief of Police novels which I have written about elsewhere, by now, they are living, breathing people in their own right. McFadyen approaches something like this with Carmichael’s family and his passion for his special pinotage wine.

And, for all Carmichael’s back story and intricate relationships with his colleagues, McFadyen is going to keep the story zipping along at pace and is not afraid to make sure the reader is never allowed to become bored.

Sometimes, the dialogue does tip a little towards the stilted for my taste, but in a novel of well fleshed out characters, with convincing motivations, backstories and plenty of mysteries to be unravelled, this is a small complaint which shouldn’t deter anyone from exploring the world of McFadyen’s Carmichael universe.

Purchase Links

Book Guild – https://www.bookguild.co.uk/bookshop/book/302/The%20Murky%20Wall%20of%20Timothy%20Wall/

Bookshop.org – https://uk.bookshop.org/books/the-murky-world-of-timothy-wall/9781913913441

Waterstones – https://www.waterstones.com/book/the-murky-world-of-timothy-wall/ian-mcfadyen/9781913913441

Foyles – https://www.foyles.co.uk/witem/fiction-poetry/the-murky-world-of-timothy-wall,ian-mcfadyen-9781913913441

WHSmith – https://www.whsmith.co.uk/products/the-murky-world-of-timothy-wall/ian-mcfadyen/paperback/9781913913441.html

Amazon – https://www.amazon.co.uk/Murky-World-Timothy-Wall/dp/1913913449/ref=sr_1_1?dchild=1&keywords=The+Murky+World+of+Timothy+Wall&qid=1632920646&sr=8-1

Book Depository – https://www.bookdepository.com/The-Murky-World-of-Timothy-Wall-Ian-McFadyen/9781913913441

Author Bio –

AUTHOR — Author Ian McFadyen visits Ulverston Library to talk to local people about his books. Thursday 30th October 2014. HARRY ATKINSON REF:

Ian McFadyen grew up in Lancashire, the setting for the Carmichael series of detective novels. Having studied marketing at Huddersfield University he had a 30-year career in sales and marketing with leading global companies in the electronics industry before switching full-time to writing. He has published eight books in the Carmichael series so far, several of which are available in large print, two have been translated and published in Italian and two in Czech. He lives in Bishop’s Stortford, Herts.

Social Media Links –

FB : Facebook.com/ianmcfadyenauthor

Twitter : @ianMcFadyen1

“Jesus Only Had 12 and One of Those Was a Double…”

‘Judas 62’ by Charles Cumming

A spy in one of the most dangerous places on Earth…

1993: Student Lachlan Kite is sent to post-Soviet Russia in the guise of a language teacher. In reality, he is there as a spy. Top secret intelligence agency BOX 88 has ordered Kite to extract a chemical weapons scientist before his groundbreaking research falls into the wrong hands. But Kite’s mission soon goes wrong and he is left stranded in a hostile city with a former KGB officer on his trail.

An old enemy looking for revenge…

2020: Now the director of BOX 88 operations in the UK, Kite discovers he has been placed on the ‘JUDAS’ list – a record of enemies of Russia who have been targeted for assassination. Kite’s fight for survival takes him to Dubai, where he must confront the Russian secret state head on… (Synopsis courtesy of Harper Collins)

For some time, Charles Cumming has been one of the best working spy writer’s today. Alongside Simon Conway and Mick Herron, he has been producing first-rate work in novels such as Typhoon, Trinity Six and his Thomas Kell trilogy (‘A Foreign Country’, ‘A Colder War’ and ‘A Divided Spy’)

It has always struck me as unfair for these writers to be consistently referenced alongside John Le Carre – a writer whom I hold in the highest regard. Whilst Cumming has been one of our best for 20 years, Le Carre was obviously a genre defining author whose very language of espionage has entered their trade. Now THAT is a legacy.

Last year’s ‘Box 88’ was a delight. It was spy ficiton as Proust, Cumming luxuriating in the school days of his lead character and (apparently) mining his own biography to weave a tapestry of a period as evocatively rendered as a tea soaked madeleine. Ironically, it was also the novel which arguably brought Cumming closest to Le Carre territory.

‘Box 88’, intercutting as it did Lachlan Kite’s present day problems as a team of skilled operatives invade and abduct his wife, with his recruitment into the shadowy organisation Box, has echoes of Le Carre’s ‘A Perfect Spy’. (‘A Perfect Spy’ is, lest anyone forget, the work labelled by no less an authority than Phillip Roth as, “the best English novel since the war” so this is far from a criticism.  

As much as I enjoyed ‘Box 88’, the structure was – if anything – the biggest issue with it. It was fairly obviously the beginning of a series and this meant that neither the story set in the 1980s nor that of the contemporary events really had an opportunity to ratchet up the tension. Kite obviously survived in the flashback, he was almost certain to survive in the present too.

‘Judas 62’ is obviously going to suffer from the same thing. But, here, Cumming avoids the trap by slightly altering the structure. We are reintroduced to Kite as Covid lockdowns are making espionage even more tricky and Box are working as a skeleton crew. Instead of then intercutting the narrative every other chapter, here Cumming chooses to tell one story then the other. Although we know Kite is not going to peg out any time soon, there is a greater tension and some fantastically palm-sweat inducing descriptions of his operation and the harrowing fall out which follows.

Few people can write such convincing action and conjure a world so effectively as Cumming. His ability to render the mundane – WhatsApp conversations, a cricket match –  and contrast with the high stakes of the missions of his characters.

There are few writers as adept at creating characters you care about and tension on a minute by minute basis as Cummings and, in Lachlan Kite, he has a flawed hero of self awareness and a lorry load of festering regrets.

‘Judas 62’ is a triumph of a novel and I look forward to the third instalment as soon as I can get my hands on it. This is vintage Cummings and I just hope he has ready access to the French patisserie and the old pot of tea if he’s going to use any more of remembrance of things past.

Purchase Links

Amazon: http://ads.harpercollins.co.uk/hcuk?isbn=9780008363468&retailer=amazon

Blackwells: https://blackwells.co.uk/bookshop/product/9780008363468

Bookshop: https://uk.bookshop.org/a/1153/9780008363468

Foyles: http://ads.harpercollins.co.uk/hcuk?isbn=9780008363468&retailer=foyles

Waterstones: https://www.awin1.com/cread.php?awinmid=3787&awinaffid=802343&ued=https%3A%2F%2Fwww.waterstones.com%2Fbook%2F9780008363468

Charles Cumming

Charles Cumming was born in Scotland in 1971. He was educated at Eton and graduated from the University of Edinburgh in 1994 with First Class Honours in English Literature. The Observer has described him as “the best of the new generation of British spy writers who are taking over where John le Carré and Len Deighton left off”. In the summer of 1995, Charles was approached for recruitment by the Secret Intelligence Service (SIS). A year later he moved to Montreal where he began working on a novel based on his experiences with MI6. A Spy By Nature was published in the UK in 2001. (Biography courtesy of Harper Collins)

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)

Inheritances and Italian Amore

‘A Little Piece of Paradise’ by TA Williams

The inheritance of a lifetime… with a catch

When Sophie’s uncle leaves her a castle in the Italian Riviera in his will, she can’t believe her luck. The catch? She and her estranged sister, Rachel, must live there together for three months in order to inherit it.  

Having worked in Rome for four years, Sophie’s excited to revisit to Italy, even if it reignites memories of a cheating ex who soon learns of her return and wants to rekindle their spark. Sophie realises that distance does indeed make the heart grow fonder – but for her friend back home, Chris, who she discovers is more to her than just a friend.

With the clock ticking, can Sophie and Rachel stick it out and heal old wounds, or are the sisters destined to go their own way at the end of the three months? And does Chris feel the same way about Sophie as she does for him?

A beautiful story of romance and sisterhood, perfect for fans of Alex Brown and Lucy Coleman.

Regular readers of this blog (Oh, so you’re the one) will know that I like a nice escapist romance novel from time to time. I understand that as a man, demographically, this puts me outside the realm of the usual purchasers of such literature.

However, there is clearly at least one other fan of the genre in author TA Williams. Here, Williams has taken a fairly well trodden path – the inheritance with the millstone bequest attached – and added in the tantalising reward of an Italian villa worth over a million Euros.

The catch? Being shackled to an estranged sister for three months (shackled metaphorically, rather than literally. This becomes a very different novel if not.)

As with my favourite novels from this genre, the food is the described in great detail, the wine as enchanting as the scenery and love affairs flare up and create havoc as the principle characters navigate this taxing situation.

Between the food, the wine, the amore and the villa, this is a novel to charm the reader and its 300-odd pages zip by. Sometimes the dialogue can read as a little stilted, especially in the early chapters where the need for exposition can make some of the characters sound a little wooden, but this is a minor quibble in a novel of enormous charm and lightness of touch. Also, any novel with a character as fully rounded and obviously loved as Jeeves the Labrador is a delight and can do no wrong!

Purchase Links

UK – https://www.amazon.co.uk/dp/B09F5QJQDZ

US – https://www.amazon.com/dp/B09F5QJQDZ

Author Bio – I’m a man. And a pretty old man as well. I did languages at university a long time ago and then lived and worked in France and Switzerland before going to Italy for seven years as a teacher of English. My Italian wife and I then came back to the UK with our little daughter (now long-since grown up) where I ran a big English language school for many years. We now live in a sleepy little village in Devonshire. I’ve been writing almost all my life but it was only seven years ago that I finally managed to find a publisher who liked my work enough to offer me my first contract.

The fact that I am now writing escapist romance is something I still find hard to explain. My early books were thrillers and historical novels. Maybe it’s because there are so many horrible things happening in the world today that I feel I need to do my best to provide something to cheer my readers up. My books provide escapism to some gorgeous locations, even if travel to them is currently difficult.

Social Media Links –

Website: www.tawilliamsbooks.com

Twitter: https://www.twitter.com/tawilliamsbooks

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