When a man of heavenly worth sins in Hell, darkness shall reign upon the earth
A message from the other side – an omen of the impending apocalypse. A message intended for one man, the only man who can prevent Armageddon, saving the soul of every man, woman and child on Earth. That man is Joe Costello.
But, not only is Joe trapped in the underworld, he is also the same man who has the power to unleash the shadows of hell upon the world.
Inspired by Dante Alighieri’s The Divine Comedy, Joe must battle his way through the nine circles of Hell – his escape being the key to salvation. Not only will he face all manner of Hell’s demons, he’ll also face his own.
However, Joe is not alone on his journey, as he is guided through each level of Hell by medium and psychic, Layla Thorne. Shadows of Hell is the epic follow-up to Shadows of the Woods.
‘Shadows of Hell thunders along at a breakneck pace, not giving the reader chance to draw breath.’ – Lee Mountford, author of The Demonic
I want to thank Emma at Damppebbles blog tours for my invite and Panther Publishing for providing me with a copy of Shadows of Hell in exchange for an honest review.
Having read Shadows of the woods last year and enjoyed it, I was interested to see how the story would carry on in Shadows of Hell. I would recommend that you read Shadows of the woods first as the storyline intertwines with Shadows of Hell.
Much like the first book, Shadows of Hell is a short, action packed horror with plenty of monsters, magic and mayhem along the way.
This story felt a little different to the first, grounded more in classic legends, with references to The Divine Comedy by Dante. I haven’t read the poem, but I’ve heard little bits about it over the years and enjoyed the author’s spin on the nine circles of Hell.
There was a new cast of characters, along with some guest stars from the previous book. There’s a psychic called Layla who also has a side gig being a fake medium and Chris and Alexis, a pair of paranormal investigators.I feel like there was a lot more to these characters and I hope to see more of them in future novels.
The writing is very visceral and I will warn those who are not that big a fan of gore or ghastly scenes that this might not be the novel for you.
Although I wasn’t entirely sold on the slightly religious undertone of the story, the ending leaves it open for another book which I will definitely be interested to read.
Shadows of Hell is a vivid and well-written horror which will take you on one Hell of a journey!
About the Author:
Duncan has spent most of his life in a small market town in West Yorkshire — the same town in which most of his stories are set under the guise of Ravenfield. Duncan has been writing works of fiction since the age of seven. In those early days, his stories often involved himself and his friends being transported to fantasy worlds. However, as a teenager, Duncan fell in love with horror movies and his writing took a whole new direction.
Duncan still lives in West Yorkshire with his partner and their two young children. He also has slight obsession with Spider-Man and the actor Bruce Campbell, as well as having an addiction to vinyl records, coffee and Lego.
Two families. 100 years apart. A sinister haunting…
It was supposed to be the dream house for Adam, Catherine, and their daughter, Bella. But dream houses can hold secrets. Settling into their new home, the family realise they are not the only inhabitants of Abberton House.
A dark past continues to haunt the idyllic Yorkshire home, and those who remain want Adam and Catherine to know the truth. Frightened, Adam and Catherine begin to piece together what really happened at this once perfect abode.
A missing family, an elderly man searching for the truth, and secrets waiting to be revealed, moving into Abberton House could be the worst decision the family made.
I want to thank Emma at Damppebbles blog tours for inviting me on this tour and Panther Publishing for providing me with a copy of Abberton House in exchange for an honest review.
I love a good ghost story, so I was eager to read Abberton House and see what spin the author gave to the classic haunted house trope.
Abberton House follows a dual timeline. First in 1916 we follow the story of Elizabeth, a young mother of three children whose doctor husband Henry has been called up to the war. The second timeline is set one hundred years later when Adam, Catherine, and their daughter, Bella, move into their new house to find something sinister lurking.
I really enjoyed the bit of mystery peppered throughout the story that really kept me hooked. I kept wondering what happened to Elizabeth and her family. Did she run off like everyone said or did something more disturbing happen?
I would definitely recommend this story to people who enjoy a bit of a spooky horror story without too much blood or violence. It’s also quite a short book, but it still had a gentle pace and didn’t seem too rushed.
I wished the author would have amped up the creep factor a little more, as at times the ghosts felt like rather annoying houseguests rather than anything otherworldly. And there were a few aspects of the story that could have been explored further, certain minor characters that I would have liked to have seen more of.
Abberton House is a quick, spooky read with a hint of mystery that kept me entertained and intrigued throughout.
About the author:
Debbie is a multi-genre indie author and blogger who was born in Bradford and lives there with her husband, two-year-old daughter and anti-social cat Cleo. When she isn’t busy being a Mum, working for her local council or studying towards her Open University degree, she is busy focusing on her writing career.
Debbie doesn’t write to just one genre as she likes to write about anything. She is currently working on a romantic-comedy series but who knows what she will be working on in the future. As well as writing novels, short stories and blogs for her website, she is also reviewing other works by indie authors. She is passionate about helping other indie authors as she knows it is a hard world to master and getting reviews is a challenge on its own.
Debbie has been a regular attending author at the UK Indie Lit Fest in Bradford for the last few years and will be returning in 2020, as well as attending events in Shipley and Liverpool for the first time.
Debbie began studying with the Open University in 2015, aiming towards a BA Honours in Humanities, focusing on History and Creative Writing which are her two greatest passions. It is a part-time course, due to end in 2021 which Debbie is hoping means she will have more time to write.
Kimberley King has spent the last five years trying to outrun the reason she left the police force. Her life is a mess and she’s desperate for change. So when she is randomly selected for the new series of the hit show LoveWrecked, she can’t pass up the chance to win the £100,000 prize. All Kimberley needs to do is couple up with one of her fellow contestants, win the infamous LoveWrecked challenges, and she will have enough cash for a fresh start.
But the island isn’t the paradise she was promised and within hours, one of the contestants is dead. Then the announcement comes: one of the islanders is a murderer and Kimberley must find out who, live on television. For every hour it takes her, one more person will die.
The game is rigged, everyone is hiding secrets, and time is running out…
An addictive and unputdownable crime thriller, perfect for fans of Lucy Foley and T.M. Logan.
I want to thank Emma at Damppebbles blog tours for inviting me on this tour and the publisher for providing me with a copy of The Islanders in exchange for an honest review.
Kim is desperate for money, barely keeping hold of her bar job, reliving guilt from her past and drinking too much. The answer, to her money problems at least, comes when she’s invited on the reality TV show LoveWrecked, but that’s when the nightmare really begins.
The Islanders is a fantastic debut novel that combines reality TV with a classic locked in scenario, think Love Island meets And Then There Were None by Agatha Christie.
Each of the Islanders are not all that likeable, yet they feel authentic. Everyone of them is hiding a secret and you’re really not sure who you can trust, really amping up the tension as more bodies turn up.
What I enjoyed most about the story was I didn’t know who was going to die next or who the killer might be, I literally suspected every character at one time or another.
The story is told mostly from the point of view of Kim, with a few snippets from a website called Spyland.co.uk, social media and a mysterious blog called JustDeserts. It’s obvious from the start that Kim’s a troubled person, wallowing in the past and punishing herself. I think she was the perfect main character as I ended up really rooting for her to solve the mystery and get herself to safety.
Yes, the storyline wasn’t all that believable, but to me it gave me that feeling of escapism I’ve been craving lately.
The Islanders is a fast-paced read, packed with shocks and surprises, that kept me entertained from beginning to end. I will definitely be on the lookout for more from this author in the future!
About The Author:
S. V. Leonard grew up in the little coastal town of Formby, a suburb of Liverpool. She studied Classics at Oxford University and has been lucky enough to live in Australia, Poland, and Malaysia. She is now based in London. When not writing, she can be found breaking out of escape rooms; doing historical walking tours of London; or drinking wine.
Hello lovelies! Today I have an excerpt from Captain Clive’s Dreamworld by Jon Bassoff as part of the blog tour organised by Emma at Damppebbles blog tours.First a little about the book:
Title: Captain Clive’s Dreamworld by Jon Bassoff
Publisher: Eraserhead Press
Date Published: 1st October 2020
After becoming the suspect in the death of a young woman, Deputy Sam Hardy is reassigned to the town of Angels and Hope, which, within its borders, holds the once magnificent amusement park, Captain Clive’s Dreamworld. When he arrives, however, Hardy notices some strange happenings. The park is essentially empty of customers. None of the townsfolk ever seem to sleep. And girls seem to be going missing with no plausible explanation. As Hardy begins investigating, his own past is drawn into question by the town, and he finds himself becoming more and more isolated. The truth—about the town and himself—will lead him to understand that there’s no such thing as a clean escape.
He drove for five, six hours across a relentlessly barren landscape dotted by tumbleweed, the sun shining cruelly, the highway cracked and discolored. Vehicles appeared every so often and then less often and then barely at all. The radio played hazy country music that became more and more frightening; eventually, he turned it off. Silence except for his own disjointed thoughts. He reached into the console for some beef jerky, the first food he’d eaten that day, tearing open the bag and chewing slowly, all the while staring out the dust-coated windshield. Gripping the steering wheel tightly, he felt like he was the only person in the world. Then, for a quick moment, he squeezed his eyes shut. None of this was real, he decided. Dreamworld. He was just drifting, drifting, drifting…
North on Highway 23 the directions said, sixty miles until Angels and Hope, but Highway 23 was in bad shape. The letters on the old sign were barely visible beneath the rust, and the asphalt was covered with dirt and shrubs and tumbleweed. He thought about turning around, driving until the world ended, but he needed the job, needed the money, so he pressed down on the gas pedal and crossed over a gully, the bottom of his car scraping against brush. As he drove down the nearly abandoned highway, he couldn’t help but think that things would end poorly.
His car was bouncing all over the place, and the sun never seemed to lower in the sky. Fifty, sixty, seventy miles per hour. Along the side of the beaten two-lane, there were occasional remnants of the past: a boarded-up motel, an abandoned gas station, a broken-down car. Soon the asphalt of the highway became harder and harder to see, becoming, instead, a dying garden. A murder of crows followed his car, and he heard the disquieting yelps of a coyote. His hands were trembling, sweat dribbling into his eyes. The air conditioner wasn’t worth shit, and that was the way of the world. The farther Hardy drove, the more he saw her face, and the only way he could rid himself of it was by gritting his teeth until his jaw and temples ached.
Desperate, face slathered with perspiration, Hardy turned the radio back on, hoping for something familiar. Now static, static, static. But at the end of the AM dial, the faint voice of a preacher: “Offer, brothers and sisters. Offer up what is most valuable and precious. Because only then will he offer to you what is most valuable and precious. A reading from Genesis 22: ‘Isaac said, “Behold, the fire and the wood, but where is the lamb for the burnt offering?” Abraham said, “God will provide for Himself the lamb for the burnt offering, my son.” And the two of them went on together. When they reached the place God had told him about, Abraham built an altar there and arranged the wood on it. He bound his son Isaac and laid him on the altar, on top of the wood. Then he reached out his hand and took the knife to slay his son.’ Thus, with Abraham’s knife pressed to Isaac’s throat, the reading ends. Now we know, brothers and sisters, that God’s angels eventually rescued Isaac from this terrible fate. But I am here to tell you that the rescue is less important than Abraham’s unswerving trust. He was willing to kill his own son because of that trust. And you must be willing to do the same. You must be willing to sacrifice that which means the most to you. For in this selfless act, you will be rewarded. But if you are selfish, if you hide your loved ones in the attic or help them escape in tunnels beneath the desert floor, your squirming bodies will be placed in the Lake of Fire, pockets filled with stones…”
Hardy slammed off the radio, and despite the straightness of the highway the world seemed to be spinning, flashes of his past mixed with flickers of his present, his future vanished forever. Images of crows in the steeple and fire on the highway and rats in his skull. And his own voice, mumbling into his hand: the sins aren’t mine, they’ve never been mine.
And that’s when Angels and Hope appeared.
Just beyond an old-fashioned water tower emblazoned with the words “Dreamers Dream” stood a tall, shiny white fence, and beyond this fence the desert ended and the Promised Land began. A place where neighbors greet neighbors in the quiet of summer twilight. Where children chase fireflies. Where porch swings provide easy refuge from the cares of the day. Why, then, was Hardy saddled with the premonition that this was where he’d burn?
About The Author:
Jon Bassoff was born in 1974 in New York City and currently lives with his family in a ghost town somewhere in Colorado. His mountain gothic novel, Corrosion, has been translated in French and German and was nominated for the Grand Prix de Litterature Policiere, France’s biggest crime fiction award. Two of his novels, The Drive-Thru Crematorium and The Disassembled Man, have been adapted for the big screen with Emile Hirsch (Into the Wild; Once Upon a Time in America) attached to star in The Disassembled Man. For his day job, Bassoff teaches high school English where he is known by students and faculty alike as the deranged writer guy. He is a connoisseur of tequila, hot sauces, psychobilly music, and flea-bag motels.
When a blood-stained effigy of body parts is found in a central London park, D.I Daniel Graves must set about trying to discover what it could mean and find the person responsible. Symbols at the crime scene suggest the occult. Who would leave a murder victim in such a way, and why?
As Graves and partner DI Charlie Palmer begin to investigate the ritual and the act of human sacrifice, they enlist the help of Charlotte Gooding, a talented professor specialising in the subject. They hope to narrow down on a motive. Could the killer believe in the supernatural? Witchcraft even?
Then the next crime scene is found. More blood, more symbols, and out in the open. It seems the killer wants the world to pay attention, but why? How are they choosing their victims?
The pressure is on for Graves to put an end to the murders before more remains show up in brutal tableaus. One thing is for sure, this killer is out for blood and is not afraid to make it a very public display.
There’s just one problem. Grave’s past is still not behind him. Someone is eager to make sure he doesn’t forget, cannot move on. And they’re not playing games anymore. There may be an occult killer out there, but now there’s another out for blood, Daniel Grave’s blood.
I want to thank Emma at Damppebbles blog tours for inviting me on this tour and Panther Publishing for providing me with a copy of The Devil’s Mark in exchange for an honest review.
I really enjoyed the first in this series, The Demons Beneath, so I thought I’d give this one a go. It is the third in the series and it can be read as a standalone, but I would recommend reading the other books in the series as some storyline runs over into this one.
The Devil’s Mark is a fast-paced ride of a book. The elements of horror and police procedural combined to make a really enthralling story.
DI Daniel Graves and DI Charlie Palmer made a good double act. Their banter and friendship is so fun to read, giving a bit of light relief in quite a dark tale. I also enjoyed the fact there were some love interests for both characters after what the author puts them through, they deserve some happiness!
I felt this book was a little heavier on the violence/graphic scenes than I remember from The Demons Beneath, but I didn’t mind that too much.
The Devil’s Mark is a thrilling and action packed read that really kept me hooked until the very end. A brilliant addition to the series!
About The Author:
WD Jackson-Smart, 35, is a London-based horror and crime fiction author who has been writing crime and horror fiction since 2011. His novel Red Light was self published on Amazon and charted in the top twenty best selling Suspense / Thriller Kindle books on release.
His first crime thriller Slasher, about a serial killer targeting slasher movie actresses in Hollywood, is out now, and he has launched a brand new crime series set in London and starring D.I. Graves. The Demons Beneath is the first in the series, and the sequel From Inside The House was published on July 1st 2019.
As well as his passion for horror and crime thrillers in all forms, WD Jackson-Smart also loves art and design, having studied Fine Art and Art History in Leeds and Toronto and working as a graphic designer for the majority of his career.
Title: The Last Witch: A Seacross Mystery by Sabina Gabrielli Carrara
Date Published: 23rd October 2020
Back in 1974, the dormant Irish village of Seacross is shocked by the gruesome circumstances of young Margaret Morehouse’s death. Forty-five years later history seems to repeat itself and the quiet life of the coastal Irish village is suddenly shaken by a series of ritualistic murders. Someone had broken the pact of secrecy to obtain justice, but if the truth comes out nobody will be spared, from the future Taoiseach to the local men of power.
I want to thank Emma at Damppebbles blog tours for inviting me on this tour and providing me with a copy of The Last Witch in exchange for an honest review.
A series of ritualistic murders, a small town and a cold case that is suddenly heating up. Can police officer Billy McCabe solve the mystery before he’s taken off the case?
The Last Witch is a combination of police procedural and psychological thriller set in the small Irish town of Seacross.
I enjoyed the setting of rural Ireland, I always love a small town setting where everybody seems to know everybody and there are always some tensions bubbling under the surface.
Police officer Billy McCabe was a little old-fashioned in his views, but a solid character nonetheless. His personality softened some by his wife Martha and adopted dog Rufus.
The book got off to a slow start, and I wondered where the story was going, but then the bodies started turning up and the mystery really started.
The Last Witch was a quick read with plenty of twists and turns along the way.
About The Author:
Italian Ireland-based author of murder mysteries with a psychological twist, after a degree in History and Philosophy and some experience in Human resources, Sabina decided to go back to her old passion: writing.
She is a published author in Denmark and currently living in the little village of Balrothery in North Co. Dublin with her husband, their two daughters and three dogs.
A killer running rings around the police. A detective spiralling out of control.
DI Kate Young is on leave. She’s the force’s best detective, but her bosses know she’s under pressure, on medication and overcoming trauma. So after her bad judgement call leads to a narrowly averted public disaster, they’re sure all she needs is a rest.
But when Staffordshire Police summon her back to work on a murder case, it’s a harder, more suspicious Kate Young who returns. With a new ruthlessness, she sets about tracking down a clinical, calculating serial killer who is torturing victims and leaving clues to taunt the police. Spurred on by her reporter husband, Young begins to suspect that the murderer might be closer than she ever imagined.
As she works to uncover the truth, Young unravels a network of secrets and lies, with even those closest to her having something to hide. But with her own competence—and her grip on reality—called into question, can she unmask the killer before they strike again?
I want to thank Emma at Damppebbles blog tours for inviting me on this tour and Thomas & Mercer for providing me with a copy of the book in exchange for an honest review.
An Eye For An Eye is the first in the DI Kate Young series and having read a couple of Carol’s other books, I was intrigued to see how Kate measured up to the other detectives.
Kate is a damaged woman. Taking pills to hide from her pain but the trauma still manages to manifest itself with flashbacks that plague her day-to-day life. I really rooted for her through the story, hoping that she’d pull through and catch the bad guy.
As someone who reads a lot of crime fiction, it’s difficult to surprise me, but the killing method in this book certainly did! I’m not going to give it away, don’t worry, but it is one of the most clever and vindictive that I’ve come across in a while.
There were a few aspects of the story that weren’t a huge shocker for me, but I still enjoyed watching things unfold in front of me.
I think this novel sets up the series nicely, and I think it will only get stronger as the series goes along.
An Eye For An Eye is a dark and intense police procedural with plenty of intriguing new characters to get to know.
About The Author:
USA Today bestselling author and winner of The People’s Book Prize Award, Carol Wyer writes feel-good comedies and gripping crime fiction.
A move from humour to the ‘dark side’ in 2017, saw the introduction of popular DI Robyn Carter in LITTLE GIRL LOST and demonstrated that stand-up comedian Carol had found her true niche.
To date, her crime novels have sold over 750,000 copies and been translated for various overseas markets.
Carol has been interviewed on numerous radio shows discussing ”Irritable Male Syndrome’ and ‘Ageing Disgracefully’ and on BBC Breakfast television. She has had articles published in national magazines ‘Woman’s Weekly’, featured in ‘Take A Break’, ‘Choice’, ‘Yours’ and ‘Woman’s Own’ magazines and the Huffington Post.
She currently lives on a windy hill in rural Staffordshire with her husband Mr Grumpy… who is very, very grumpy.
When she is not plotting devious murders, she can be found performing her comedy routine, Smile While You Still Have Teeth.
Hello lovelies! Today on my blog, I have an exclusive excerpt from Ray Britain’s latest novel Forgotten Lives as part of the blog tour organised by Emma at Damppebbles Blog tours but first a little about the book:
Title: Forgotten Lives by Ray Britain
Date Published: 10th January 2021
Genre: Police Procedural
A man is murdered with quiet efficiency on his doorstep. A strange emblem left behind suggests a gang killing but when more bodies are found with the same emblem, and one of them a cop, DCI Doug Stirling’s investigation takes a sinister turn.
But what linked the victims in life, and now in death?
When more deaths are uncovered, miles away and years apart, but all with the same emblem left behind, pressure mounts on Stirling. Is it the work of the same person? If so, why are they killing again, and why here? One thing is clear. The killer is highly skilled, ruthless, and always one step ahead of the investigation. Is someone feeding information to them?
Working in a crippling heatwave with too few investigators, too many questions and not enough answers, when wild media speculation of a vigilante at work sparks copycat attacks, demonstrations for justice and with politicians fearing riots, Stirling needs a result – fast!
Meanwhile, Stirling’s private life is falling apart, not helped when Lena Novak of the National Crime Agency is assigned to his team. But is she all that she seems? Things could not get worse. Stirling takes a call from a retired cop. Things just got worse!
As Stirling closes in on the killer he finds the killer’s trademark inside his home – he is being targeted.
The rider’s eyes flinched warily as the door was opened by a woman. Behind her, a floodtide of music tumbled and cursed its way down the stairs to join battle with noise blaring from a half-open door at the far end of the hallway. The air around them pulsed under the throb of a penetrating bass beat.
Unable to hear the rider speak, the woman shook her head and walked to the foot of the stairs where she drew in a deep breath and hurled her words upwards, ‘’Wayne! Turn that bloody music down!’
The music continued.
She looked at the delivery rider, rolled her eyes and shouted harshly down the hallway. ‘Mickey! It’s a pizza delivery. You ordered pizzas?’
There was no answer, and no one appeared.
With a hissed obscenity she turned and left the helmeted rider standing at the door, two pizza cartons resting in the crook of an arm, as she walked barefoot along the hallway where she pushed open the door. A fresh blast of excited screams from a television show swept along the hallway and pushed past the rider, out into the street.
The rider glanced back down the driveway, concerned that the noise might draw the attention of neighbours or a passer-by.
An aggressive exchange of words was followed by the appearance of a broad-shouldered man in an open-neck shirt drawn tight over his muscled bulk. Around his neck hung a heavy gold chain, half-hidden amongst a mat of dark curly hair. He glared belligerently at the leather-clad figure in the porch, tossed an abusive remark at the woman and swaggered towards the door with the bow-shouldered gait of a body builder.
Mickey McBride stood in front of the delivery rider and stared hard into the flat, impenetrable eyes that gazed at him from behind the half-raised visor of the crash helmet.
‘Who are you?’ demanded McBride, aggressively. ‘I ain’t order no pizzas!’
Balancing the boxes on one arm, the rider held up a delivery note as explanation.
‘I only delivers them mate. Two pizzas for a Mickey McBride at this address, all paid for. That you?’
Behind McBride, the woman leant against the door frame, watching the television while glancing occasionally towards the front door until a roar of laughter drew her into the room and out of sight. Seemingly oblivious to the noise around him, McBride’s nostrils flared at the smell of hot cheese and spiced meats. He swallowed instinctively as his eyes slid greedily to the boxes.
‘Paid for, you say?’ he demanded, and looked back at the eyes above the neckerchief.
The rider nodded, tucked the delivery slip into a pocket of the leather jacket and held the boxes out for McBride to take.
McBride gave a sly grin. ‘Well, seems a shame to let ‘em go to waste,’ and put out his hands to receive the boxes. As he did so his eyes narrowed suspiciously, and he peered over the motor-cyclist’s shoulder.
‘Ain’t you a bit old to be delivering pizzas? Where’s your bike?’
The rider let the boxes tilt forwards. Instinctively, McBride grabbed for his falling prize with both hands.
He barely saw the rider’s right hand strike upwards. Barely registered the blow to his ribs as thin, cold steel parted flesh and muscle to pierce his heart, where it was deftly twisted, then withdrawn with a soft, sucking noise.
McBride did feel an explosion of pain fill his chest. The immediate, overwhelming loss of control. Still clutching the boxes, he gulped fish-like for air that would not come and fell to his knees. The rider bent forward and spoke into the dying man’s ear.
Bewildered, McBride looked up into the blue eyes studying him with a cold detachment. A faint glimmer of recognition flickered briefly in McBride’s eyes but was extinguished as his ruined heart emptied, and he pitched forward across the threshold of his home.
The helmeted figure stepped aside and stared down the hall, the knife ready. The woman was still out of sight. Another swell of noise washed down the hallway and over the prone body, smothering the soft snap of a blade being returned to its concealed sheath.
The rider pulled down the visor, turned, and walked away. Nearby, a motorcycle was started quietly and slowly ridden away.
A woman’s scream tore the air.
If that has piqued your interest, you can buy your copy here:
Ray Britain’s second novel ‘Forgotten Lives’ follows closely on from ‘The Last Thread’ (2017) with a new investigation for DCI Doug Stirling, the toughest of his career.
As a police Senior Investigating Officer (SIO) Ray led specialist investigations. He was also a Hostage & Crisis Intervention Negotiator – a voluntary role – responding to hostage situations, many firearms incidents and numerous suicide interventions, not all of which ended happily. His roles took him to the USA, India, Europe, Australia and elsewhere, receiving Commendations in recognition for his work.
Ray’s real-world experience puts the reader at the heart of a complex, fast moving investigation with all of its uncertainties, stresses and frustrations, and of the dark, bitter sadness’s of people’s lives.
Ray also worked with the Serious Fraud Office and the Home Office, London, and with the City of London Police’s Economic Crime Directorate.
When not writing, Ray might be found mountain hiking, following rugby, skiing, reading, sailing, or generally keeping fit..
Title: Christmas Cookie Cozies: A Holiday Cozy Mystery Anthology
Date Published: 10th November 2020
Genre: Cozy Mystery
2020 is going to be the coziest holiday season yet with cozy mysteries from Ava Mallory, Summer Prescott, Jenna St. James, Laina Turner, Gretchen Allen, Laina Turner, Joanna Campbell Slan, S. C. Merritt, Minnie Crockwell, Mona Marple, Rachael Stapleton and Loraine Hudson – along with their favorite holiday cookie recipe!
Gretchen Allen – Lost Claus Charlotte Moss is one tough cookie, but her new job as Mrs. Claus isn’t what she expected. When Santa goes missing and a body is found, the most wonderful time of the year looks bleak. Joanna Campbell Slan – How the Cookie Crumbles Cara Mia Delgatto never met her maternal grandmother. But Nonie Josephina reaches out from the grave with a message for Cara: I left behind a treasure! Can Cara Mia find it before Santa comes to town? S.C. Merritt – Caramelized Casualty With the annual holiday unveiling of a giant gingerbread village quickly approaching, Kate Kennedy’s stress level is sky high. When one of the event’s diva celebrity chefs turns up dead, Kate decides she has no choice but to team up with the town’s newest detective if she’s going to pull off the big event. Can she expose the killer in time to save the event? Minnie Crockwell – Death By Cookie Widow Sallie Chilcoat decides to get into the holiday spirit by baking up a batch of cookies for her lakeside condominium neighbors only to have one of them turn up dead – with the remains of her cookies! Did Sallie kill her neighbor with her vegan cookies? Ava Mallory – Christmas Cookie Catastrophe When Consuelo “Cookie” Alvarez inherits a bakery from her aunt Birdie, she doesn’t expect to take her late aunt’s place in the Christmas Cookie Bake-Off. Now she has two weeks to perfect the super-secret recipe, but there are major obstacles in her way: she can’t bake, the recipe is missing, and her competitors are a who’s who of shady characters. Summer Prescott – Hang Out The Stalkings Someone is stealing Nancy’s cookies…will they steal her holiday spirit too? Jenna St. James – Christmas Cookie Caper When Ivy O’Brien learns her mother has been injured at the annual Couples Christmas Cookie Contest, she runs to the rescue. Looks like she needs to fill in for her mother and hunky policeman Anthony Romano has to help bake the cookie and question the suspects. Between dough-making disasters, nips of peppermint Schnapps, and rolling pin thefts, the pair slowly whittle down their suspect list. Mona Marple – The Santa Run Is Murderous Fun Emily Monk’s run out of excuses not to take part in the annual Santa run, but the festivities are threatened when the long-running Santa Run champ is found dead the day before the race. With a killer to be caught, and a Christmas dinner to be bought, Emily needs to think fast if she’s going to solve this case before Santa comes. Rachael Stapleton – Christmas, Corpses & the Gingerdead Flip-Flop When house flippers Jack Young and Juniper Palmer purchase a colorful Queen Anne home, Juniper assumes the exterior gingerbread trim will be the most outlandish thing to see. That is until a prominent wine merchant dressed as Santa is murdered, and Jack’s mother is caught on the naughty list. Loraine Hudson – Holly, Jolly Misdeeds First, it’s a thieving Santa. Next, it’s a prowler that threatens Jenny’s peace. It all seems to revolve around a box of cookies. Why? And what’s next? Laina Turner – Cookies and Crime What is supposed to be a joy-filled awards ceremony for the Romero Boy Scouts turns out to be anything but when Jean Sartor, Scout co-leader, drops dead on stage. Trixie lands herself on the suspect list since she baked Christmas cookies for the ceremony. She knows she didn’t poison Jean, but who did?
I want to thank Emma Welton at Damppebbles blog tours for inviting me on this tour and providing me with a copy of the book in exchange for an honest review.
I love a cozy mystery, but I don’t really read many Christmas themed stories, so I was intrigued to see how it would work out. I have heard of a couple of the authors in this collection, like Summer Prescott and Laina Turner, and I’m glad I got to read a few new to me authors and I’ll be adding their books to my TBR!
Christmas Cookie Cozies is a fun packed collection of holiday stories, each one combining the holiday spirit, a mystery and a cookie in some way, each author bringing their own twist on the theme which was really enjoyable.
Of course I had a few standouts:
Hang Out The Stalkings
Not your typical murder mystery, but a mystery all the same when dog groomer Amber investigates after a dog she was grooming goes missing. This one had the most heartwarming ending, it melted my heart a little.
Christmas Cookie caper
Ivy is roped into an investigation after her mum is injured during a cookie making contest. This was a compact mystery that really kept me guessing.
Kate Kennedy is preparing for a gingerbread charity event when one of the chefs turns up dead. Another one that kept me guessing and the mode of death for the victim was an unusual one too!
There’s also a nice little extra for any bakers out there as each story is followed by a cookie recipe.
Christmas Cookie Cozies is a sweet fun read, perfect for those who like the holiday season but also enjoy a bit of mystery.
Hi lovelies! Today I have a guest post from Mark Brumby as part of the blog tour for Always Adam, organised by Emma at Damppebbles blog tours but first a bit about the book:
Title: Always Adam by Mark Brumby
Publisher: Boomslang Books
Publication Date: 30th November 2020
London-based financial journalist Spencer Beck is obsessed with billionaire biotech prodigy, Adam Reid, orphaned in his mid-teens when his parents died in a tragic murder-suicide in New York City. A shadowy informant with MI5 connections promises Beck unfettered access to the mysterious Reid and introduces him to Daniel Flanagan, a retired Big Apple detective who investigated the deaths of Adam’s mother and father. Spencer’s initial scepticism, fed by the suspicions of the former police officer, turns to excitement when Reid reveals the truth about himself and his altruistic ambitions to protect society from a deadly virus with a powerful vaccine he’s developed. But when Beck’s entire world starts to implode, he discovers Reid harbours a vendetta that, left unchecked, threatens not only his survival but that of an entire species.
Although it maybe shouldn’t have done, the Covid-19 pandemic took much of the Western World by surprise and, until very recently, we’ve been very much on the back foot.
Armchair experts have polarised to the extremes. Healthcare professionals have taken one view but libertarians have quite another and experts, such as Messrs Whitty & Vallance have been pilloried for crying wolf.
However, as there really is a wolf out there, isn’t that perhaps a little unjust?
The professionals have been criticised for getting their ‘forecasts’ wrong but, to be fair to them, they have always said their numbers were only an indication of what could, and most likely would, happen if people did not change their behaviour.
But behaviour did change.
And it changed before the experts made their views known with people behaving much as they have done for centuries in similar situations. They stayed in, they mixed less and they self-imposed lockdowns long before the word itself was coined since much of our behaviour is hard wired and, unfortunately, that is not a secret.
We can be manipulated. Our fears, hopes and dreams are predictable and, in Always Adam, a book first written some seven years ago when the idea of a global pandemic was nothing but a distant fantasy, we consider how such knowledge, in the hands of a billionaire such as Adam Reid can be dangerous.
We suggest that history, and even pre-history, is written by the winners and that just who are and were the ‘good guys’ is similarly determined.
Our anti-hero, the twenty-something Adam Reid, is a genius with a vaccine and a vendetta. He is ruthless and plays his cards well. Read Always Adam to find out how his plans unfold and who, if anyone, can stop him.
About the Author:
A Cambridge economics graduate, Mark Brumby is a vastly experience financial analyst and owner of Langton Capital, an FCA-regulated advisory company specialising in the hospitality and leisure sectors. He is a partner in the Imbiba Partnership, which invests in pub, bar and restaurant start-ups.
Mark wrote Always Adam (originally published as Payback) in 2013. Boomslang is republishing the book in November 2020 as it deserves to reach a wider audience in the current pandemic climate.
“Covid-19 has brought home not just the fragility of human life but the power of vaccines. Very shortly, we hope, a vaccine could physically alter the cell structure of three or four billion people and protect the same number again via herd immunity. But what if a vaccine were misused?”
“In some ways the world has changed but in many ways it remains the same. The ‘facts’ re our existence have not and will not change. But the events of the last few months have brought home the truth that we are only animals and that we are almost as much at risk from novel diseases with high R ratios and significant mortality rates as we have ever been.”
“I tried to take a step back and look at how we got here & what we’re doing. That sounds deep but some 99% of species that have ever existed are extinct, so what makes us so special?”
“Indeed, we’ve very nearly joined the list of ‘used-to-be’ species list on several occasions. Anthropologists believe that the human population at times in our history fell to a total of less than 10,000 individuals worldwide. You could fit them all in a small football ground and it’s more than a 99.99% reduction on the number of people around today.”
“As an author, Covid-19 has moved the goalposts a little. It has made the unbelievable a little more believable. A pandemic, until December of last year was, literally, a fiction.”
Mark Brumby is married with five children and commutes between London and his home in York.