Under The Bridge by Jack Byrne #PublicationDay #BookReview

Title: Under The Bridge by Jack Byrne

Date Published: 18th February 2021

Publisher: Northodox Press

Genre: Mystery/Historical

Description:

2004 – The discovery of a skeleton in the Liverpool docklands unearths long buried secrets. Reporter, Anne McCarthy, is keen to prove herself and dives into the case with abandon where she finds Michael, an old Irish caretaker who knows far more than he’s letting on and may have a connection to the body.

Meanwhile, Vinny Doyle, is starting a postgrad degree, researching Liverpool’s immigrant history and a burgeoning Scouse identity. But Vinny has been neglecting his own family history and stranger Michael might know about his father’s disappearance in the 70s.

1955 – Escaping violence in Ireland and fresh off the boat, Michael falls in with Wicklow boys Jack Power and Paddy Doyle, who smuggle contraband through the docks putting them at odds with unions while they rally the dock workers against the rackets and the strikebreakers. A story of corruption, secret police, and sectarianism slowly unravels. But will the truth out?

As the conflict heightens, Michael questions the life sprawling out ahead of him. In the present, Anne races to solve the mystery, but is she prepared for what she’ll find? 

Review:

I want to thank Northodox Press for providing me with a copy of Under the bridge in exchange for an honest review.

I was so intrigued by the blurb for this, and I honestly don’t read that many novels set in my hometown, so I thought I’d give it a go.

Under the bridge is a mix of historical drama and mystery which really teaches you something about the history of Liverpool!

The story centres around Garston, a suburb in the south of Liverpool, and a place I don’t believe I’ve visited, but it has a long and interesting history. Now I’ve lived in and around Liverpool my entire life and I used to think I knew a thing or two about the place, but after reading this novel I realise I’m woefully uninformed! Seriously, I think I learnt more about my own area reading this book than I ever did in a history class. 

There are some powerful themes throughout the novel, including immigration, racism and religion (in particular the Catholic/Protestant divide which has been prevalent for a long time). The author really doesn’t shy away from those tough subjects.

There were some interesting characters, but I liked Anne the best. She’s a smart, ambitious, if a little naïve, journalist trying to make it in the newspaper business that even back in 2004 was shrinking. 

There were several different points of view in the book, along with the back and forth in the timeline that I found it a little hard to keep everything straight in my mind. Also, I felt it was a little heavier on the drama rather than the mystery, but of course that’s just my opinion.

Under the bridge is a gritty debut that really doesn’t pull any punches!

About The Author:

Jack Byrne was born and raised in Speke, Liverpool to an Irish immigrant father and grandparents. Under the Bridge is his debut novel and follows reporter Anne and student Vinny around Merseyside, as they become involved in a story of unions, crime, and police corruption after human remains are discovered at a construction site.

#BookReview The Big Chill by Doug Johnstone @OrendaBooks

Title: The Big Chill by Doug Johnstone

Publisher: Orenda Books

Date Published: 20th August 2020

Genre: Mystery/Thriller

Description:

Running private investigator and funeral home businesses means trouble is never far away, and the Skelf women take on their most perplexing, chilling cases yet in book two of the darkly funny, devastatingly tense and addictive new Skelfs series!

‘Compelling, compassionate … just brilliant. This series gets better with every book. I cannot get enough of the Skelfs’ Mark Billingham

‘Confirms the Skelfs as a classic crime clan. I can’t wait for the next one’ Erin Kelly

‘I LOVE the Skelfs … The only problem with The Big Chill is that you’ll devour it so fast you’ll feel as bereft as one of the Skelfs’ clients … Doug Johnstone has murdered sleep’ Val McDermid

Haunted by their past, the Skelf women are hoping for a quieter life. But running both a funeral directors’ and a private investigation business means trouble is never far away, and when a car crashes into the open grave at a funeral that matriarch Dorothy is conducting, she can’t help looking into the dead driver’s shadowy life. 

While Dorothy uncovers a dark truth at the heart of Edinburgh society, her daughter Jenny and granddaughter Hannah have their own struggles. Jenny’s ex-husband Craig is making plans that could shatter the Skelf women’s lives, and the increasingly obsessive Hannah has formed a friendship with an elderly professor that is fast turning deadly.

 But something even more sinister emerges when a drumming student of Dorothy’s disappears and suspicion falls on her parents. The Skelf women find themselves sucked into an unbearable darkness – but could the real threat be to themselves?

Following three women as they deal with the dead, help the living and find out who they are in the process, The Big Chill follows A Dark Matter, book one in the Skelfs series, which reboots the classic PI novel while asking the big existential questions, all with a big dose of pitch-black humour.

Review:

I want to thank THE Book club Reviewer group and Orenda books for my copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.

I read the first book in this series, A Dark Matter, at the beginning of the year and is still one of my top reads in 2020 so far, so I was very excited for The Big Chill! I can safely say it lived up to my expectations.

I will say before I get too far into this review, that you should definitely read the first book before reading this one as events from the first have a knock on effect in this one.

This story starts off six months after the first book. The Skelf women are still struggling with what happened at the end of the last book but they’re trying to push through it and carry on as normal, or as normal as their lives are as funeral directing private investigators. 

Dorothy is pulled into an investigation after a car chase ends in tragedy in the midst of a funeral she’s conducting. Jenny is still trying to put the pieces of her life together. Hannah seems to be suffering the most, shutting out her girlfriend Indy and becoming obsessed with the suicide of one of her professors.

What I love about this series is the way there’s several different storylines/cases that are woven together expertly, so they’re easy to follow without confusion and not one overshadows the other too much. Honestly, like the first there’s never a dull moment in this book.

The story is also strengthened by the relationships between the three generations of the Skelf family, Dorothy, Jenny and Hannah. They’re complex and just so compelling, I genuinely love these characters!

The Big Chill is a fantastic piece of fiction that kept me glued to those pages. I can’t wait for more! 

About The Author:

Doug Johnstone is a writer, musician and journalist based in Edinburgh. His tenth novel, Breakers, was published by Orenda Books in May 2019, and was shortlisted for the McIlvanney Prize for Scottish Crime Novel of the Year. His previous books include The Jump, shortlisted for the McIlvanney Prize, Gone Again, an Amazon bestseller, and Hit & Run, which was an Amazon #1 as well as being selected as a prestigious Fiction Uncovered winner. His work has received praise from the likes of Irvine Welsh, Ian Rankin, Val McDermid, William McIlvanney, Megan Abbott and Christopher Brookmyre.

Doug has been Writer in Residence with William Purves Funeral Directors. He is also a Royal Literary Fund Consultant Fellow, and was RLF Fellow at Queen Margaret University in Edinburgh 2014-2016. Doug was also Writer in Residence at the University of Strathclyde 2010-2012 and before that worked as a lecturer in creative writing there. He’s had short stories appear in various publications and anthologies, and since 1999 he has worked as a freelance arts journalist, primarily covering music and literature. He is also a manuscript assessor for The Literary Consultancy and Emergents in the Scottish Highlands. He has taught creative writing at festivals and conferences and regularly at Moniack Mhor, and he has mentored aspiring writers for New Writing North and Scottish Book Trust.

Doug is one of the co-founders of the Scotland Writers Football Club, for whom he also puts in a shift in midfield as player-manager. He is also a singer, musician and songwriter in several bands, including Northern Alliance, who have released four albums to critical acclaim, as well as recording an album as a fictional band called The Ossians. Doug has also released three solo EPs. He plays drums for the Fun Lovin’ Crime Writers, a crime writing supergroup featuring Val McDermid, Mark Billingham, Chris Brookmyre, Stuart Neville and Luca Veste.

Doug has a degree in physics, a PhD in nuclear physics and a diploma in journalism, and worked for four years designing radars. He grew up in Arbroath and lives in Portobello, Edinburgh with his wife and two children.

Hinton Hollow Death Trip by Will Carver #BookReview

Title: Hinton Hollow Death Trip by Will Carver

Date Published: 12th June 2020

Publisher: Orenda Books

Genre: Literary Thriller

Description:

Five days in the history of a small rural town, visited and infected by darkness, are recounted by Evil itself. A stunning high-concept thriller from the bestselling author of Good Samaritans and Nothing Important Happened Today.

It’s a small story. A small town with small lives that you would never have heard about if none of this had happened.

Hinton Hollow. Population 5,120.

Little Henry Wallace was eight years old and one hundred miles from home before anyone talked to him. His mother placed him on a train with a label around his neck, asking for him to be kept safe for a week, kept away from Hinton Hollow.

Because something was coming.

Narrated by Evil itself, Hinton Hollow Death Trip recounts five days in the history of this small rural town, when darkness paid a visit and infected its residents. A visit that made them act in unnatural ways. Prodding at their insecurities. Nudging at their secrets and desires. Coaxing out the malevolence suppressed within them. Showing their true selves.

Making them cheat.

Making them steal.

Making them kill.

Detective Sergeant Pace had returned to his childhood home. To escape the things he had done in the city. To go back to something simple. But he was not alone.

Evil had a plan.

Review:

I want to thank the The Book Club Reviewer group and Orenda books for my copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.

So I read Nothing Important Happened Today back in March and I was absolutely blown away by Will Carver’s writing so I was very excited when I got my copy of Hinton Hollow Death Trip.

What I didn’t realise while reading the previous book and this one, it’s actually part of a series but it’s easily read as a standalone. 

Hinton Hollow Death Trip is, well, a head trip a half! I mean I can’t think of another novel that’s narrated by evil itself.

The story follows Detective Sergeant Pace as he heads back to his hometown of Hinton Hollow, a small village of just over five thousand people. The story is set over just five days and my goodness what a terrifying ride it was! 

Beware before you going into this book, much like the previous book it’s dark and could prove upsetting as there’s some sensitive subjects like suicide, child deaths and animal creulty covered.

I have to be honest I didn’t find the style of this book a little choppy at times. Plus there were a couple of more minor storylines that I found a little distracting from the main story but of course that’s just my opinion.

Hinton Hollow Death Trip is an original yet shocking read, perfect if you like your thrillers on the darker side. 

About The Author:

Will Carver is the international bestselling author of the January David series. He spent his early years in Germany, but returned to the UK at age 11, when his sporting career took off. He turned down a professional rugby contract to study theatre and television at King Alfred’s, Winchester, where he set up a successful theatre company. He currently runs his own fitness and nutrition company, while working on his next thriller. He lives in Reading with his two children.

Follow Will on Twitter @will_carver

#BlogTour Q&A Sixty Minutes by Tony Salter @rararesources @TonyOxford #AuthorInterview

Hello lovelies! Today I have a fabulous Q&A with author Tony Salter, plus a giveaway to win a copy of Sixty Minutes (see bottom of the post) but first a little about the book:

Sixty Minutes - Kindle Cover

Title: Sixty Minutes by Tony Salter

Date Published: 29th October 2019

Genre: Thriller

Description:

Five different people. Five separate lives. Sixty minutes to bind them for ever.

Hassan, Jim, Shuna, Dan and Nadia come from very different worlds. If life were straightforward, their paths would never cross. But our lives are rarely that simple and, as the clock ticks away the minutes of a single hour on a July morning, fate draws all five together in a headlong rush towards disaster.

Who are the heroes and who are the villains?

Tony Salter’s latest novel leaves us guessing right up to the last page.

You can buy your copy here:

UK – https://www.amazon.co.uk/Sixty-Minutes-nail-biting-race-against-ebook/dp/B07WNRLHGR/

US – https://www.amazon.com/Sixty-Minutes-nail-biting-race-against-ebook/dp/B07WNRLHGR/

Q&A with Tony Salter

Can you tell me a little bit about your book? 

Sixty Minutes is my fourth novel and is somewhat different from my others although it is still very much a thriller. Without giving too much away, I am quite limited, but the novel explores the actions of five very-different characters over a one-hour period. The reasons for each character to be present  (and any connections between them) appear as the story progresses. 

We learn to know and understand all of the characters, although they are not all totally likeable. We see different sides to them, some of which are hopefully unexpected.

The core plot which drives the tension over the sixty minute period is reasonably obvious early on, but the way it plays out remains uncertain until the end. I wasn’t sure how it would finish myself until I reached the final chapters.

It is not trying to be a deep philosophical book, but it does touch onto some some sensitive themes and will hopefully make readers think a little once they’ve finished.

Where did the inspiration for your book come from? 

I imagined the final scene (I can’t remember exactly why) and wrote it as a short story. I then realised that there was much too much room for cliché and stereotype in the short story format and decided to try to address the issues in detail and head on. I am aware that I am setting myself up for accusations of cultural appropriation, but don’t believe it is right to restrict an author’s imagination in that way. I don’t mind if a reader feels my characters aren’t real or even if they think the plot is dull and boring (actually I do mind – a lot), but do believe that an author should have the right to create characters who have very different backgrounds and experiences to the author’s own.

If you could describe your book in one sentence what would it be? 

A tight tense literary thriller which will keep you gripped until the final page.

What is a typical writing day like for you? 

I would normally write at a standing desk for four to five hours after breakfast. I set myself a target of 1500 words, but am happy to stop at 1200 or so, if I’m not feeling focused or if I have  other plans. I might sometimes do an hour or two in the afternoon but not as a rule. I do my basic research and check emails as I go. (thereby breaking the author’s golden rule of not being connected to the internet while writing)

If you could recommend just one book to read what would it be and why? 

Just now, Wake by Anna Hope

Who are your favourite authors? 

Kate Atkinson, Kazuo Ishiguro, David Mitchell, Salman Rushdie … an impossible question!

Is writing your only job? If not, what is your other job? 

I consider writing to be my full-time job now, but am also Chairman of a travel technology company which gives me the luxury of being able to write when I want to.

Tell me something interesting about yourself (that’s not in your author bio!) 

When I was almost eighteen, I hitched down to the South of France from the UK with a friend. We slept on the beach in Cassis and woke up to find that everything we had  was gone. Passports, money, clothes – the lot. It made for an interesting holiday!


What are you currently working on? 

I am working on a new thriller which features one of the characters from Sixty Minutes, Nadia. This will be released in 2020

I am also working in the background on a historical  novel based on my grandmother’s diary which describes her journey from Brighton to Harbin in Manchuria in 1915 (via Newcastle, Norway Sweden, Petrograd and the Transsiberian Express). The book will also cover the six years she spent in Harbin, where she married my grandfather and gave birth to (and lost) her first son. This will probably take a couple of years to complete.

Sixty Minutes Full Tour Banner

About The Author:

Tony’s latest thriller, Sixty Minutes, was released on 29th August 2019. Tony is the author of bestselling psychological thriller, Best Eaten Cold. He writes pacy contemporary thrillers which explore different themes, but all share Tony’s thought-provoking plots and richly-painted characters. Sixty Minutes is his fourth novel. His second novel, The Old Orchard – a gripping family thriller – was published on the 7th of November 2017 and the sequel to Best Eaten Cold, – Cold Intent – was published in November 2018. Highlights of his early career include (in no particular order) three years as an oilfield engineer in the Egyptian desert, twelve years managing record companies for EMI Music in Greece, India and across Eastern Europe, running a caravan site in the South of France and being chauffeur to the French Consul in Sydney. Having survived the Dotcom boom, he went on to be a founder of the world’s largest website for expatriates, a major music publisher and a successful hotel technology business. In amongst this, Tony found the time to backpack around the world twice (once in his twenties and once in his fifties), learn six languages (including Norwegian and Greek) and to find a beautiful Norwegian wife. He now lives in Oxfordshire and writes full-time. He has recently turned sixty and is married with three children and five grandchildren. You can find out more about Tony at www.tonysalter.com 

Social Media Links 

https://twitter.com/TonyOxford 

https://www.facebook.com/tonysalterauthor/

https://www.instagram.com/tonysalter2017/

Giveaway to Win 5 x PB copies of Sixty Minutes (Open INT)

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

http://www.rafflecopter.com/rafl/display/33c69494327/?

#BlogTour #GuestPost Through Hollow Lands by Thomas Paul Burgess #LoveBooksGroupTours

Title: Through Hollow Lands by Thomas Paul Burgess

Publisher: Urbane Books

Date Published: 5th July 2018

Genre: Literary Thriller, Satire

Description:

The stunning new novel from acclaimed author Thomas Paul Burgess.

Set in the US on 11th September 2001, Through Hollow Lands tells the story of George Bailey, a charming but feckless opportunist who finds himself trapped in the seeming purgatory of Las Vegas.

He is followed there by Lou Plutus – his boss and a paedophile pornographer – from whom he has stolen a Kompromat video of great importance to the Russian mafia.

George un-expectantly encounters Jaffé Losoko there, a naïve, young Ethiopian woman whom he had got pregnant some six years before and arranged for an abortion. She now works in the Vegas sex trade.

To escape, George must face his Russian pursuers – the terrifying Triptych – head on and make amends to Jaffé. Beset by angels and demons, truth-tellers and liars, he must pay for the sins of his past in order to find salvation beyond Vegas.

The book explores the trauma visited upon the American psyche in the immediate aftermath of the 9/11 attacks.

Through Hollow Lands is the author’s compelling second novel, following the critically acclaimed White Church, Black Mountain.

hollow-lands

Guest Post – Conflict Fiction & Responding Creatively to the Past.

A Terrible Beauty is Born!

We can all think of memorable novels that have had their conceptual and narrative core located within ‘the troubles’ in Northern Ireland.

Still more material has been mined through adaptations of autobiographies or memoirs from ‘combatants’ of the conflict. Plots have generally been driven by tense dénouement involving betrayal and counter -betrayal by security forces and terrorists.

Wars don’t end when the fighting stops of course. And there have been a number of more recent crime novels that have sought to place dissidents at the centre of their work. But again, these plot lines tend toward the shoot out or ticking time bomb.

I have always liked Alex Schmid’s analogy of why context is important: focusing on terrorist groups and cops alone is like focusing on one player in a tennis match, you are going to miss so much more of the dynamics if you only focus on one part of it.

It is perhaps the internal, intra-personal struggles that continue within everyday citizens affected by the conflict – and within those who wrestle with their involvement in questionable acts with dubious justifications – that hold the richest material for crime fiction (and literary fiction) in this context. Indeed the very pacificity of looking on voyeuristically from a safe North Down idyll may also stir some crisis of conscience for an author or character.

Ordinary people whose lives have been rendered extraordinary by the exceptional circumstances that they have lived through. In short, all of us who generationally have had the misfortune to have the conflict define us in some way, however peripheral.

It can be something as oppressive as standing behind police tape in central London in the 1980’s – petrified to open your mouth and reveal your accent – as they clear the area of a suspect device. Or something as seemingly irrelevant as telling the American bloke sat next to you – around the pool whilst on holiday – that you are from Belfast and then mentally preparing for the ‘war baby’ questions and explanations.

That default of popular fiction, the ‘internal monologue’ has never been better served in this regard.

There is a school of thought of course that would seek to bury our heads in the sand. To cite the necessity to’ move on’ not ‘dwell in the past’ put things ‘behind us’. But like it or not, to some degree the conflict has demarcated who we are today.

So representing fictional characters in contemporary, post-conflict, Northern Ireland, takes on a particular challenge for an author. One that is simultaneously (one hopes) compelling but which also carries a ‘duty of care’ to be faithful to the implicit or explicit loss of innocence that we all experienced during those dark days.

And of course any emerging post-conflict canon or genre that explores the legacy of conflict and how it impacts on those who seek to build a future in its aftermath, should also perhaps usefully explore characters drawn from the younger, post conflict generation.  

Here is a peer group feasibly uncomfortable with the traditional religio-political stereo-types foisted upon them and refreshingly honest in their opinions based on their own lived experiences.

What has growing up with the spectres of the past meant for them.

In my own novel, ‘White Church, Black Mountainwww.thomaspaulburgess.co.ukthe chief protagonist, Eban Barnard, carries with him throughout his life, a secret that has coloured and defined his relationships with others and with his own self-image.

As he and other characters in the novel struggle with the legacy of the past, we learn something of the challenges that they face.

When they arrived to take him to theatre sometime after that, he was ready.

One of the porters wheeling his trolley spoke of the breaking news story on morning radio.

Of how the Attorney General was talking complete amnesty for all past crimes.

A move that would render all those involved in terrorist and sectarian crime exempt from prosecution.

The porter told the nurse, it was all about “…making peace with the past.”

But where would he find his peace.

He had carried around his guilt and his frustration for a lifetime…and for what?

No one cares about the victims…the families…the dead…and those left behind them,’ he thought. ‘Their heartbreak, their long, slow, lonely creep toward the end without their loved ones…’

They were made to feel like the ghosts at the peace.

Expected to keep quiet for the sake of the next generation.

For the sake of a future they couldn’t share in.

An awkward, tragic postscript that belonged to the newsreels.

To be consigned there and forgotten save for empty platitudes and memorial Sundays in draughty churches.”

Flags, Emblems… The Past.

Like Macbeth’s three witches prophesising “Double, double toil and trouble; Fire burn, and caldron bubble”, these three seemingly insurmountable challenges continue to disproportionately influence civil society in the Province.

Perhaps contemporary, post-conflict Northern Irish literature can play a cathartic role in steering us out of the cul-de-sacs of the past, where lazy, stereo-typical characterisations can recede in the rear-view mirror of experiences that inform but do not define us.

Dr Thomas Paul Burgess

About The Author:

Thomas Paul Burgess was born in Belfast, Northern Ireland. He is a published academic, Thomas Paul Burgess Author Imagenovelist and songwriter / musician with his band Ruefrex – with whom he achieved commercial and critical success through the release of seven singles and three albums. His first novel, White Church, Black Mountain is a political thriller, dealing with the emerging post-conflict society of Northern Ireland and exploring the legacy of the troubles and how its residue impacts on those who seek to build a personal and communal future in their aftermath. Through Hollow Lands is his second novel. He lives in Cork, Ireland, where he is a Senior Academic and Director of Youth & Community Studies at The School of Applied Social Studies, University College Cork.

Social Media links:

Website: http://www.thomaspaulburgess.co.uk/
Twitter: https://twitter.com/PolBrugha