Cameron and Lisa Murdoch are successful New Zealand crime writers, happily married and topping bestseller lists worldwide.
They have been on the promotional circuit for years, joking that no one knows how to get away with crime like they do. After all, they write about it for a living.
So when their challenging seven-year-old son Zach disappears, the police and the public naturally wonder if they have finally decided to prove what they have been saying all this time… Are they trying to show how they can commit the perfect crime?
Multi-award winning bestseller Paul Cleave returns with an electrifying and chilling thriller about family, public outrage and what a person might be capable of under pressure, that will keep you guessing until the final page…
I want to thank Anne Cater for inviting me on this tour and Orenda Books for providing me with a copy of The Quiet People in exchange for an honest review.
This is my first Paul Cleave novel and I can safely say this won’t be my last. I’m still trying to pick my jaw up from the floor after reading The Quiet People!
The story is told from two perspectives. The first is Cameron, a best-selling crime author, who, along with his wife, finds their son Zach missing. Zach is a bit of a problem child, but you see how much Cameron loves him and all the range of emotions that he goes through after he goes missing and he becomes more and more unpredictable.
The second perspective is DI Rebecca Kent, a solid and experienced copper tasked with finding out the truth, no matter the consequences.
Goodness, you’re really thrown through a loop during this novel, both emotionally and with all the shocks and surprises the author chucks at you along the way. Honestly, there’s never a dull moment.
The story is also packed with tension. You’re not sure who to trust or whether it’s going to end badly for the characters or not.
I can’t say too much more in case I give away any spoilers, but I can safely say that The Quiet People is up there as one of my top reads of this year.
The Quiet People is a twisty read that will keep you on your toes throughout, not knowing what will happen next.
About The Author:
Paul is an award-winning author who divides his time between his home city of Christchurch, New Zealand, where most of his novels are set, and Europe.
He has won the New Zealand Ngaio Marsh Award three times, the Saint-Maur book festival’s crime novel of the year award in France, and has been shortlisted for the Edgar and the Barry in the US and the Ned Kelly in Australia.
His books have been translated into over twenty languages. He’s thrown his frisbee in over forty countries, plays tennis badly, golf even worse, and has two cats – which is often two too many.
Follow Paul on Twitter @PaulCleave, and his website: paulcleave.com
Hello lovelies and welcome to my stop on the blog tour for Shadow Stained by Rachel Hobbs, organised by Write Reads Tours.
Title: Shadow Stained (Stones of Power book 1)
Date Published: 14th April 2020
Genre: Dark Fantasy
For her, it’s her late grandma’s legacy. For him, the mother of all black arts spoils, granting one demon the power of a God. Immortality.
When occult-magnet Ruby falls victim to Demon Lord Drayvex’s viperous allure, she loses a sentient dark relic to his light fingers and appetite for power. Like calls to like. But when Drayvex himself loses the relic to a traitor to the throne, Ruby coerces him – the tyrant king with a soft spot for humanity – into helping her save her pokey old world village from becoming a ground zero of mass demonic carnage.
Both invested in reclaiming the relic, the one thing Ruby and Drayvex agree on is that it’s in the wrong hands. Co-existing in a precarious arrangement between predator and prey, to save the planet they both love for different reasons, they must become a formidable double-team in the face of an apocalyptic takeover. Now, the fate of both human and demon alike rests with a killer that walks between worlds, and a woman with a curse in her bloodline.
Rachel Hobbs lives in soggy South West Wales, where she hibernates with her bearded dragon and her husband. By day she is a dental nurse at a small local practice. By night, she writes.
Her debut novel SHADOW-STAINED is the first in a dark fantasy series for adults, inspired by her dark and peculiar experiences with narcolepsy and parasomnia. She’s since subjugated her demons, and writes under the tenuous guise that they work for her.
Fuelled by an unhealthy amount of coffee, she writes about hard-boiled monsters with soft centres and things that go bump in the night.
Title: The Silent Witness (Detective Amanda Steele 3) by Carolyn Arnold
Date Published: 24th September 2021
Genre: Police Procedural
It’s 4 a.m. when her mom shakes her awake. “Get up baby, we’re going to play hide and seek.” The little girl presses back into the dark space, holding her breath as she hears the shots ring out. She knows she’s next…
When the bodies of a local family are discovered on a quiet street in the small town of Dumfries, Virginia, Detective Amanda Steele takes charge of the case. Brett and Angela Parker were shot three times each, leaving no hope of survival, and their tidy suburban home has been ransacked. But there is no sign of their beloved six-year-old, Zoe.
Zoe is the same age as Amanda’s daughter was when she died, and Amanda can’t bear the thought of another little girl in danger. She’s organizing a search for the child, when she notices something strange about the ottoman at the foot of the Parkers’ bed. She opens it to find Zoe, mute and traumatized, but alive.
With Zoe completely uncommunicative, Amanda must find another way to untangle what destroyed this seemingly perfect family. It’s clear that the killer is searching for something the Parkers had, and until she has this monster behind bars, Amanda fears that he may return for Zoe. When she learns that Brett Parker cut short the family’s recent lakeside vacation, she wonders why. What happened at that lake house, and did it ultimately get them killed?
Amanda heads out to Lake Chesdin on the feeling it might be key to the case, and when she finds a cell phone in the murky waters next to the Parker cabin, she knows she’s made a breakthrough. But then terrible news reaches her from Dumfries; Zoe has been taken from her school playground.
Someone wants to silence the Parker family for good, can Amanda catch them before the little girl she’s desperate to protect pays the price?
A completely gripping and addictive crime thriller that will keep fans of Rachel Caine, Lisa Regan and Robert Dugoni entertained into the early hours.
I want to thank Bookouture for providing me with a copy of The Silent Witness in exchange for an honest review.
This is the third in the Detective Amanda Steele series which can be read as a standalone, but I’d recommend reading at least the previous book in the series as there are some secondary storylines that run over into this one.
Amanda is called to the scene of a double homicide. A husband and wife have been murdered and their six-year-old daughter Zoe is missing. Searching the house, she finds the little girl traumatised and unable to speak, having witnessed her parents’ deaths. The case is a baffling one, neither of Zoe’s parents seem to have an enemy in the world. It soon becomes apparent that Zoe’s life is in danger and it’s up to Amanda and her partner Trent to solve the case.
The silent witness was packed full of tension, twists and turns, plus a few shocking revelations for the characters. Honestly, the more books I read in this series, the more enjoyable it gets!
This is a really tough case for Amanda, having to take care of Zoe while also trying to deal with unresolved issues of when her own daughter died. I’ll be honest in the previous book I didn’t warm to Amanda that much but after finishing this one, I feel I got to know her better and saw a different side to her.
I got a little impatient as the story neared its end. I felt it was a little dragged out, but of course that’s just my opinion.
The Silent Witness is a well-written police procedural that was both entertaining and packed an emotional punch too.
About The Author:
Carolyn Arnold was born in a small Canadian town and enjoys spending time outdoors, but she also loves the lights of a big city. Grounded by her roots and lifted by her dreams, her overactive imagination insists that she tell her stories. Her intention is to touch the hearts of millions with her books, to entertain, inspire, and empower. As an international bestselling and award-winning author, she has several continuing fiction series, including her popular Detective Madison Knight series. She offers readers nearly three dozen published books in genres ranging from crime thrillers and hard-boiled mysteries to cozy mysteries and action adventures. She currently lives north of London, Ontario, with her husband and two beagles.
To Be Enlightened is a cosmic love story that follows Professor of Philosophy Abe Levy as he grapples with what it means to love both his wife, Sarah, and the ocean of silence within. It is also an intellectual exploration of the most intimate of subjects: our consciousness.
Abe Levy’s long tenure as a philosophy professor has motivated thousands of students to ponder age-old questions in light of New Age ideas. Though Abe is passionate about his teaching, he is obsessed with a powerful childhood dream of heaven. To return to that heaven, he must reach enlightenment in his lifetime. Day after day, Abe settles into deep meditation, reaching the very cusp of his goal but unable to cross the threshold. Desperately, he commits to doing whatever it takes, even if it means abandoning his wife for a more ascetic life-a decision that sets off a cascade of consequences for Abe, Sarah, and those he loves the most.
Vedic wisdom holds that during the forty-eight minutes prior to sunrise, which is called the Brahma Muhurta, a wave of purity and balance sweeps through the world, gently waking it up, along with the birds and other animals. I sip my coffee, enjoying the silence and morning calm. About fifteen minutes before sunrise, the birds start singing praises, enlivening and infusing the atmosphere with optimism for the approaching day. The transition rarely fails to uplift me.
A high-pitched fluttering followed by a distinctive buzzing draws my attention. I look up to see a large, shiny purple hummingbird hovering about a foot above the center of the table, looking at me as if wanting to speak. It flits its beak up, down, and sideways, and—zip! It’s gone. I don’t remember ever seeing a hummingbird so close. I sit for a moment. I know that hummingbird! I’ve seen her many times before in my dream. But she was always a bee.
I do asanas and pranayama and then walk toward our bedroom for my morning meditation. The hummingbird gets me thinking about omens. If there really are omens, does it mean that God communicates with us only at specific, special times? Or is it that at certain times we become still enough to precipitate an omen? Maybe there are always omens and we aren’t aware enough to appreciate them? I bet it’s even more complex than that. I adjust my pillows for meditation. In a half lotus, my eyes close.
Mantra, mantra, maaaantra, mmmannntraaaa, maaa…mantra emerges from shimmering pool, drop of water in reverse. Mantra, mantra, mmmmaa…the place on surface of pool where mantra will emerge begins to move, vibrate…I am observing and hearing the mantra’s emergence from my consciousness. It is separate from the real Me, the observer…The school’s administrative board has asked me to head the search committee for a new chief of campus security. I don’t know anything about security. I’m not going…I observe that thought, and this thought, arise in the same way the Mantra emerges.So interesting…Mantra, mantra, mantraaaaa, maaaantra…surface of pool, no ripples, no thoughts, no feelings coming from body or mind, endless…one side, silent awareness; other side, activity. Mantra, maantraa, mmmmm…mantra barely tickles my expansive surface…Bliss surges through body, mind. Bliss is caused by awareness of subtle disturbance at junction between…Mantra, mantra, mantraaaaa, mmmmmmaaaaaaa…flowing outward, all directions; I am a boundless, luminous mirror between my self and my Self… Mmmaaaa…mmmm…maaaaa…I am the surface of the ocean, impossibly still, deafeningly silent…needing to let go…ready to let go…fearing loss…Mmmmmmmm…decision made, must go forward, will go forward…surrendering all I thought I was for what I am…individuality dissolves: raindrop, ocean…
I am—the vast, unbounded ocean of consciousness. I am—unmoving wholeness. I was never that body or that mind. I have been observing Abe Levy since the moment he was born, and much, much longer than that. I am—at peace. I am—now awake. I was sleeping before. I can see the sun and the planets clearly. They are so dear to have nurtured Mother Earth, allowing her to birth humanity. I notice distantly that my body is glowing. Time is immaterial and has lost its grip on me…
* * *
Back in my body, I look over at my bedside alarm clock. More than an hour has gone by. I lie down to rest and a deep sleep envelops my body and mind, though I am awake, aware, and witnessing.
I get up and put on my robe. Something is very, very different. It’s as if I am still meditating even though my body and I are active in the world. I am in two places at the same time—the unbounded ocean of consciousness and the bounded world of activity and senses. I have never, ever, felt so good and so focused. I walk to the kitchen, but I don’t seem to be moving.
It happened. The thought comes that I should be jumping with joy, but I’m past that. A more pressing, evolving issue appears to be whether my body can contain my joy. I close my eyes and watch as thin, sparkling beams of Bliss increasingly poke their way through the shell that is my old body, shining out from my new one in a myriad of luminous, waving threads of various lengths and hues. The brightest and most numerous ones are congregated around my solar plexus and the top of my head. The weirdest part of all is that I’m not surprised or concerned by this in the least.
I make oatmeal with whole milk, dried cherries, roasted almond slivers, cinnamon, cardamom, and a hint of nutmeg. I notice something is gone. I am not, in general, an anxious or fearful man, but I now realize I had significant anxiety and fear all my life. I know this because, for the first time, I am completely without those constant companions. Along with my anxieties and fears, my worries about leaving Sarah to go to Fairfield have evaporated. I don’t have to go anywhere now. I am where I have always wanted to be. I’m Here. The weight of responsibility that I had shouldered in guiding Sarah around her triggers has lifted. I think that I can now lovingly support her without feeling bogged down or burdened.
I shower, shave, dress for class, and it all seems to happen automatically, as if I’m uninvolved in the process. I was somewhat intellectually prepared for this, but even after over fifty years of meditation, I’m not prepared experientially. This will take some getting used to.
Walking to my office, the world is delicious. The singing birds are part of me, thrilling me thoroughly from the inside with our perfect twittering. My heart sings with them. My body hums with a hymn as my feet beat the rhythm into the sidewalk.
Alan J. Steinberg, MD is board-certified in Internal Medicine and practices with the Cedars-Sinai Medical Group in Beverly Hills, California. He also serves as one of the attending physicians for the NBA’s Los Angeles Clippers. He grew up in Las Vegas, Nevada, where he learned Transcendental Meditation (TM) in 1975. Earning his undergraduate philosophy degree at Pomona and Pitzer Colleges in Claremont, California, he went on to attend the University of Nevada School of Medicine, receiving an MD degree in 1984. His first book was a non-fiction consumer’s guide, The Insider’s Guide to HMOs (Plume/Penguin), which garnered favorable reviews in the Los Angeles Times and other publications as well as appearances on The Today Show, 20/20 and C-Span. The book helped sway the direction that healthcare was heading in the late 1990s. His debut novel, To Be Enlightened(Adelaide Books, 2021), is a work of visionary fiction, inspired by some of his own experiences as a lifelong practitioner of TM. Dr. Steinberg lives with his wife of over thirty-five years in Los Angeles, California. They are the proud parents of three young adults.
Title: Murder in the Village (Belinda Penshurst 1) by Lisa Cutts
Date Published: 21st August 2021
Genre: Cozy mystery
Meet Belinda Penshurst. Castle owner, dog lover… crime solver?
Belinda Penshurst loves her home village Little Challham, with its shady lanes, two pubs and weekly market, and she’s determined to keep it peaceful. She may live in Challham Castle but she knows almost everything that goes on under her nose. So when irritable pub landlord Tipper is found dead in his cellar, she’s perfectly placed to investigate.
Retired detective Harry Powell moved to Little Challham for a quiet life. He didn’t expect to be dragged into a murder investigation. But the police don’t seem half as enthusiastic as Belinda about the case, and there are strange things happening in the village. Particularly the number of dogs that have disappeared lately…
Is there a dognapper snaffling schnauzers and luring away Labradors? Is Belinda barking mad to be worried that her brother Marcus was arguing with Tipper on the day he died? Belinda and Harry track down the suspects: the rival landlord, the outraged barmaid, the mysterious man in the black car following dogwalkers around. But are the dogged detectives running out of time to sniff out the killer, before he starts hounding them?
A charming cozy mystery full of laughs and eccentric characters. Fans of M.C. Beaton, H.Y. Hanna and Emily Organ will love the first novel in the Belinda Penshurst series!
I want to thank Bookouture for providing me with a copy of Murder in the Village in exchange for an honest review.
I’m a bit of a sucker for a cozy mystery, so I jumped at the chance to read Murder in the village.
I know Lisa Cutts has written other books before this one but this is actually the first I’ve read of hers, but it certainly won’t be the last!
Two cases run side by side in this novel. First off, the dog owners of Little Challam are being targeted by mysterious dognappers. The second mystery involves the murder of pub landlord Tipper, a man with no shortage of enemies, but who would want to kill him? Belinda joins forces with retired detective Harry Powell to solve both cases.
Murder in the village has all the ingredients of a good cozy mystery, an idyllic sounding setting, a cast of interesting characters and a couple of determined amateur sleuths intent on getting to the bottom of the case.
Belinda and Harry made a fun pair together. Belinda is fairly bossy and stubborn, not afraid to say what she thinks, while Harry is a little more reserved and thoughtful. I enjoyed the back and forth between Belinda and Harry. I feel there’s some good potential between the pair and look forward to seeing what they get up to next.
At times, I found Belinda a tad annoying, but she grew on me as the story went along.
Both mysteries kept me guessing with plenty of suspects and red herrings along the way.
Murder in the village is a solid cozy mystery and a must for fans of this genre!
About The Author:
Lisa Cutts is a full-time detective constable investigating murders for a living. When off duty she writes a fictitious version of her day job. She lives and works within the county of Kent with her husband and Labrador.
She is the author of the DC Nina Foster books, Never Forget and Remember, Remember. Never Forgot was longlisted for the Waverton Good Read Award 2013 and the winner of the Killer Nashville Silver Falchion Award 2014 for Best Thriller. She has also written four books in the East Rise Incident Room series, Mercy Killing, Buried Secrets, Lost Lives and Don’t Trust Him. All four centre around DI Harry Powell and his Major Crime Team battling to solve the latest murders within the county. Currently she is writing the Little Challham mysteries, cosy mysteries set in a fictional village in Kent.
She writes a monthly column, Behind the Tape, for Writing Magazine answering police procedural questions from other writers. In early 2016, she was honoured to become the Patron of Rochester Literature Festival and help establish Murderous Medway, an annual crime fiction festival packed full of amazing author panels. As well as being on BBC Radio 4’s Open Book, Lisa has twice appeared on This Morning to chat about TV crime dramas Broadchurch and Line of Duty.
From the discovery of a human foot in a park, to the missing daughter of Jenny’s violent ex-husband… the stakes have never been higher for the Skelf family
Keeping on top of the family funeral directors’ and private investigation businesses is no easy task for the Skelf women, and when matriarch Dorothy discovers a human foot while walking the dog, a perplexing case presents itself.
Daughter Jenny and grand-daughter Hannah have their hands full too: the mysterious circumstances of a dying woman have led them into an unexpected family drama, Hannah’s new astrophysicist colleague claims he’s receiving messages from outer space, and the Skelfs’ teenaged lodger has a devastating experience.
Nothing is clear as the women are immersed ever deeper in their most challenging cases yet. But when the daughter of Jenny’s violent and fugitive ex-husband goes missing without trace and a wild animal is spotted roaming Edinburgh’s parks, real danger presents itself, and all three Skelfs are in peril.
Taut, dark, warmly funny and unafraid to ask big questions – of us all – The Great Silence is the much-anticipated third instalment in the addictive, unforgettable Skelfs series.
‘Compelling, compassionate … just brilliant. This series gets better with every book. I cannot get enough of the Skelfs’
Mark Billingham on The Big Chill
I want to thank Anne Cater at Random Things Tours for inviting me on this book tour and Orenda books for providing me with a copy of The Great Silence.in exchange for an honest review.
Ah, it’s lovely to be back with the Skelfs again, it’s a bit like visiting old friends. Dysfunctional old friends, mind you, but highly entertaining at the same time.
This is the third book in the series and I would highly recommend reading the previous books to get a better understanding of the characters and they just happen to be fantastic too!
You know when you read a book and think, where does the author come up with these amazing ideas from? That’s exactly how I felt while reading The Great Silence.
As usual, there are several investigations going at once during the novel. Dorothy discovers a dismembered foot while out walking her dog Einstein. Jenny is busy looking for her ex-husband, who escaped police custody. Hannah is investigating a case where her colleague thinks he’s getting messages from outer space. This is all while running their funeral directing business and dealing with their usual family dramas along the way.
Like the previous books, the storylines are expertly woven together, grabbing you from the outset and making you want to read to the very last page.
Of course, like the other books in the series, there’s some dark themes, i.e. abuse and suicide, but they’re handled with sensitivity by the author.
I heard this might be the last we see of the Skelfs, which I hope is not the case! If it is, then I will say it was a satisfying ending for the trilogy, but I’m crossing my fingers for more stories featuring Dorothy, Jenny and Hannah.
The Great Silence is a captivating and original read that I honestly couldn’t get enough of.
About The Author:
Doug Johnstone is the author of twelve previous novels, most recently The Big Chill (2020). Several of his books have been bestsellers and three, A Dark Matter (2020), Breakers (2019) and The Jump (2015), were shortlisted for the McIlvanney Prize for Scottish Crime Novel of the Year.
He’s taught creative writing and been writer in residence at various institutions over the last decade – including at a funeral parlour ahead of writing A Dark Matter – and has been an arts journalist for over twenty years.
Doug is a songwriter and musician with five albums and three solo EPs released, and he plays drums for the Fun Lovin’ Crime Writers, a band of crime writers. He’s also player-manager of the Scotland Writers Football Club. He lives in Edinburgh.
Follow Doug on Twitter @doug_johnstone and visit his website: dougjohnstone.com
I want to thank Zoé at Zooloos Book Tours for inviting me on his tour and for providing me with a copy of her debut novel Ouija in exchange for an honest review.
This is the second in the QMP young adult horror series, but you don’t have to worry, each story is self-contained and can be read in any order you feel like.
I absolutely love stories that have spirits or evil entities in them, so Ouija, I knew as soon as I read the description, it was going to be right up my street.
Ouija is Zoé-Lee O’Farrell’s debut novel and what a debut it is!
The story follows six friends who decide to go to an abandoned school, the scene of a tragedy a year earlier, to hold a seance with a Ouija board. It’s clear from the outset that there is something wrong in the school, but this doesn’t stop them. During the seance something goes wrong and they summon something they really shouldn’t have. Something that’s determined to see them dead.
Ouija was such an enjoyable ride of a story, packed with plenty of creepy goings on, tension and plenty of teen angst along the way.
Like the previous novel in the series, there’s that air of nostalgia for me, because it really reminded me of the Point Horror books I grew up reading back in the nineties.
I felt there were a few things that weren’t quite explained fully, but that didn’t spoil my enjoyment of the novel overall.
Ouija is a short and spooky read that had me gripped from start to finish.
About The Author:
Zoé O’Farrell grew up in Watford but left the town life to live by the sea down at the White Cliffs of Dover.
She spends her days working with numbers before escaping in the evening to the world of words and movies. Her go-to relaxation is watching a scary movie or reading a terrifying book!
She is a book blogger and tour organiser just to keep her extra busy. When she is not reading or writing, you can usually find her watching Watford FC or at a gig. Failing that she can be found rolling her eyes at her husband as he acts the same age as her spitfire of a Mini-Me whilst separating her two cats.
From its creepy town mascot to the story of its cursed waterfall, Burden Falls is a small town dripping with superstition. Ava Thorn knows this well – since the horrific accident she witnessed a year ago, she’s been plagued by nightmares.
But when her school nemesis is brutally murdered and Ava is the primary suspect, she starts to wonder if the legends surrounding the town are more fact than fiction.
Whatever secrets Burden Falls is hiding, there’s a killer on the loose, and they have a vendetta against the Thorns…
I want to thank the lovely people at The Write Reads Tours for inviting me on this tour and the publisher for providing me with a copy of the book in exchange for an honest review.
This is my first Kat Ellis novel, but the blurb intrigued me, so I thought I’d give it a go and I wasn’t disappointed.
Wicked Little Deeds is a brilliant mix of young adult mystery and horror, with a bit of romance in there, too.
The story follows Ava, who’s being forced to move from her childhood home after the death of her parents and the collapse of their business. If that wasn’t bad enough, she becomes the prime suspect in the murder of her high school nemesis, which is soon connected to the legend of Dead Eyed Sadie, a ghost associated with her family. Unable to leave it alone, she sets out to find the actual killer.
Ava and Dominic are intriguing and flawed characters. I have to say I usually get a little annoyed with teen characters for being a little self-involved, but I really enjoyed both of them and the way their chemistry really shines through the story.
Another thing I loved about the story was the urban legend of Dead Eyed Sadie that was woven throughout the mystery. It was creepy and captivating at the same time. There were some fantastic spooky scenes featuring Dead Eyed Sadie throughout that gave me goosebumps!
The mystery was also well done. It really kept me guessing even though I did eventually manage to figure it out.
I know this story is billed as a young adult story but honestly anyone of any age who loves both mysteries and urban legends would enjoy this story (says the woman who is probably too old to be reading young adult novels).
Wicked Little Deeds is an atmospheric and creepy read that I honestly couldn’t put down. I’m looking forward to reading more from Kat Ellis!
Kat Ellis is a young adult author whose novels include Wicked Little Deeds/Burden Falls (August 2021), Harrow Lake (July 2020), Purge (September 2016), Breaker (May 2016), and Blackfin Sky (May 2014). She is a fan of all things horror and sci-fi, and a keen explorer of ruins, castles and cemeteries – all of which are plentiful in North Wales, where Kat lives with her husband.
Congratulations to author Julia Brewer Daily on the release of her debut novel, No Names to Be Given!
Read on for more info and a chance to win a $100 Amazon e-gift card!!!!
Title: No Names To Given by Julia Brewer Daily
Publication Date: August 3rd, 2021
Genre: Historical Fiction/ Women’s Fiction
Today’s young women will not understand how our families made us feel shame so intensely; we surrendered our first-born children to strangers. Faith Reynolds, No Names to Be Given
The widely anticipated debut novel by Julia Brewer Daily is a glimpse into the lives of women forced by society to gift their newborns to strangers. Although this novel is a fictional account, it mirrors many of the adoption stories of its era.
When three young unwed women meet at a maternity home hospital in New Orleans in 1965, they are expected to relinquish their babies and return home as if nothing transpired. Twenty-five years later, they are brought back together by blackmail and their secrets threatened with exposure—all the way to the White House.
Told from the three women’s perspectives in alternating chapters, we are mesmerized by the societal pressures on women in the 1960s who found themselves pregnant without marriage.
How that inconceivable act changed them forever is the story of No Names To Be Given, a novel with southern voices, love exploited, heartbreak and blackmail.
Men loved Sandy’s body. She didn’t have the option of leading with her wit or intellect. Her looks arrived first. It was both a blessing and a curse.
Now, Sandy placed her hand on her formerly taut stomach. It felt bloated and mushy. How long would it be before she was back in her sparkly dance costumes and performing for audiences? The provocative bustiers and garter belts would not fit her now. She slid up in her hospital bed and peered through a crack in the curtain. They were all in the same recovery room, separated by thin blue fabric. She heard the other two moaning as they awakened. A nurse worked among the three of them and whispered, as if the others were out of earshot, “What a coincidence ya’ll went into labor on the same day. We were inducing you next week.”
An acidic smell of disinfectant and the rusty odor of blood invaded Sandy’s nostrils. She swallowed and found her throat parched and lips chapped. Her head throbbed with a dull drumbeat, and she tasted a metallic tang. What have I done? Why did I think this was the better choice?
Sandy’s thoughts jumbled, like a bad movie looping in her head. She squeezed her eyes shut as she remembered how her heart once pounded whenever she heard Glen’s voice. The curtains separating the roommates’ beds reminded Sandy of those in her home in Illinois, and her mind projected Glen’s image into the hospital room.
“You see what happens to trashy girls?”
She imagined him sitting at the end of the bed, sneering at her. Sandy’s teeth chattered, and her body quaked in small jerks. Her chest rose and fell so rapidly; she became faint. Sandy imagined dying in the hospital. Women died from childbirth all the time. Would her mother ever find out? Probably not. Sandy covered her tracks pretty well. Glen would think she got what she deserved.
Sandy leaned forward and yanked back the cloth separating them. Becca twisted from side to side. Sandy hated seeing her roommate in such distress. Becca might have been a princess-like creature in her former life, but Sandy admired her rebellious streak. How many other white girls had the guts to fall in love with a Negro? Becca broke the silence. “I cannot believe our babies are in the nursery down the hall, and they won’t let us see them,” she whispered. “Maybe we can sneak down there.”
“Don’t. It may make things worse.” Sandy wanted to avoid all maternal feelings and didn’t want to see a child who might look like her or Carlos.
“I can barely walk to the bathroom.” Faith’s voice trembled. Her pixie haircut, unwashed and dishwater blond, was in spikes and her eyes seemed too large for their sockets.
“Hey, Nurse Carter. If you let me go to the nursery, I won’t bother you anymore.”
“You know that’s not allowed.” The nurse frowned at Becca.
“I promise to stand behind the window. I just want to see my baby. One time. I promise.” The nurse’s response was to leave the room.
Becca whispered to Sandy. “I just want to see the skin color. I want to see if the adoptive parents will know it’s a mixed-race baby.”
Most of all, Sandy knew she longed to hold her child. Becca still declared love for her baby’s father. Sandy was still in love with her child’s father, too, but he would be no help to her from behind prison bars.
“I’ll go on a hunger strike. Do you want me to barricade myself in the nursery?” Becca made her announcements in a loud voice.
“Hush. You’re disturbing the entire home.” Nurse Carter poked her head back in the doorway and spoke harshly.
Perspiration beaded in the hollows of Becca’s cheeks, and Sandy watched as she swiped it away with her palm. Her beauty dulled only slightly with her auburn hair in a messy knot on the top of her head and her freckles dominant on her ivory skin. Becca’s startling blue eyes were now the color of a very stormy sea—gunmetal and glinting.
“Everything’s gonna be alright,” Sandy cooed. She feared Becca would
spring from the bed and run toward the nursery. Sandy watched Faith with her hands clasped as if in prayer.
“Faith, are you okay?” She always spoke to Faith as if she were a child. They were all about the same age, eighteen, but Faith’s innocence made her seem so much younger.
“I’m miserable,” Faith said.
“Me, too. I feel like a medieval torture device stretched my limbs,” `Sandy said.
Faith chanted prayers for her baby. “Please, Lord. Please let my baby have the very best parents. I know you’ll take care of him—or her.” She hummed the lyrics of “Jesus Loves the Little Children.” “Red and yellow, black and white, they are precious in his sight.”
“How are we expected to walk away and pretend nothing happened? They knocked us out before we had our babies and won’t let us see them? We don’t even know if we had a boy or a girl.” Becca blurted out.
Sandy did not turn to Becca. Instead, she watched Faith twist her hands. Faith’s frame disappeared from view under the sheet. Sandy was afraid her tiny limbs, awkward and knobby, would vanish altogether without the bed to contain her. Every time Sandy looked at Faith, she remembered Faith’s description of her assault.
Now, a living reminder of it existed. Faith had said she didn’t want this baby carrying the blame for its conception. Suddenly, Faith began gulping breaths like drinking water with a cupped hand from a bucket. Sandy tried not to look at her reflection in the mirror. Her hair, not dyed since entering the home, showed roots black and wide like the stripe of paint against a hot asphalt roadway, only in reverse—her platinum locks clung to the dark center. Towering above Faith, she saw how sallow her skin was and how lackluster. She needed her eyebrows plucked and her nails painted—no time to worry about all that. Sandy required all her strength for her own recovery and assisting her friends.
She tucked Faith and Becca’s blankets around them, raised their hospital bed rails, and crawled back into her bed.
Julia Brewer Daily is a Texan with a southern accent. She holds a B.S. in English and a M.S. degree in Education from the University of Southern Mississippi.
She has been a Communications adjunct professor at Belhaven University, Jackson, Mississippi, and Public Relations Director of the Mississippi Department of Education and Millsaps College, a liberal arts college in Jackson, Mississippi.
She was the founding director of the Greater Belhaven Market, a producers’ only market in a historic neighborhood in Jackson, and even shadowed Martha Stewart.
As the executive director of the Craftsmen’s Guild of Mississippi (three hundred artisans from nineteen states) which operates the Mississippi Craft Center, she wrote their stories to introduce them to the public.
Daily is an adopted child from a maternity home hospital in New Orleans. She searched and found her birth mother and through a DNA test, her birth father’s family, as well. A lifelong southerner, she now resides on a ranch in Fredericksburg, Texas, with her husband Emmerson and Labrador Retrievers, Memphis Belle and Texas Star.
IF HE WANTS YOU . . . THERE’S NO ESCAPE. A brutal murder . . . Responding to a tip-off, newly promoted Detective Chief Inspector Paolo Sterling arrives at an apartment block to find the dismembered body of a young woman. And with no indication of a break-in, all signs suggest the killer was known to her.
An abduction in plain sight . . . Then the victim’s friend is snatched with no witnesses and the unanswered questions mount up.
At the same time, Sterling’s team are leading the surveillance of a local club, thought to be involved in a drug operation. But when one of his colleagues ends up in hospital close to death, Paolo begins to lose his grip.
A detective on the edge . . . With the odds stacked against him, and time running out, can DCI Sterling uncover the truth before it’s too late? Or will this case finally tip him over the edge?
I want to thank Rachel at Rachel’s Random Resources for inviting me on this blog tour and the publisher for providing me with a copy of Love Me Tender in exchange for an honest review.
I’m back with the fifth installment of the DCI Paolo Sterling. I absolutely love this series so I’m always eager to get my hands on a new book.
Love Me Tender has everything I want in a police procedural, a twisty complicated investigation, an insight into a deranged killer’s mind and tenacious detectives out to solve the case.
Two cases run side by side in this novel. The first is the investigation into a club called ‘The Pipe’ that they believe is trafficking illegal drugs that lead to a young woman’s death. The other is the death of a young woman in her flat, along with the disappearance of her friend. It’s also interspersed with brief insights into the killer’s mind and their warped world.
Paolo really goes through it during this story. Struggling after the death of his friend and colleague, he has a promotion thrust upon him that he doesn’t want. He’s also facing opposition from a member of his own team, not even mentioning the fact his love life is its usual tangled mess.
As always with this type of book there’s a few gruesome scenes that are not for the faint of heart.
Love Me Tender is a dark, gritty and highly addictive read that reminded me just how much I love this series.
About The Author:
Born and raised in South East London, Lorraine lived and worked in South Africa, on the Island of Gozo and in France before settling on the Costa del Sol in Spain. She lives with her partner in a traditional Spanish village inland from the coast and enjoys sampling the regional dishes and ever-changing tapas in the local bars. Her knowledge of Spanish is expanding. To stop her waistline from doing the same, she runs five times a week.
Author of the D.I. Sterling series of novels, Lorraine has been engaged in many writing-related activities. A columnist for Writing Magazine, she has recently stepped down from writing two columns for Writers’ Forum and also her role as head judge of the magazine’s monthly fiction competitions in order to concentrate on her own writing. She is currently writing two standalone psychological thrillers for Headline Accent.
She also runs her own private critique and author mentoring service.