Posted in Blog Tour, Book Review, Family Drama, Friendship, Guest post, Murder Mystery, Mystery, Noir

Death of a Mermaid Lesley Thomson 4* #Review @LesleyJmThomson @HoZ_Books @Aria_Fiction #BlogTour #BookReview #DeathofaMermaid #MurderMystery #Coastal #Mystery #noircrime #Friendships #ComingofAge

Freddy left her childhood home in Newhaven twenty-two years ago and swore never to return. But now her parents are dead, and she’s back in her hometown to help her brothers manage the family fishmonger. Nothing here has changed: the stink of fish coming up from the marshes; the shopping trolleys half-buried by muddy tides; the neighbours sniffing for a new piece of gossip.

It’s not what Freddy would have chosen, but at least while she’s here she’ll get to see her childhood best friends, Toni and Pauline. At school, the three of them were inseparable. The teachers called them the Mermaids for their obsession with the sea, and with each other.

Then Pauline goes missing, and Freddy must decide. Go back to her new life, or stay and find her friend?

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I received a copy of this book from Head of Zeus via NetGalley in return for an honest review.

My Thoughts…

This atmospheric story is a fusion of murder mystery, coming of age friendships and noir crime. Set in coastal Newhaven the setting adds to the story’s sense of mystery. Freddy and her two friends were inseparable as youngsters, experimenting with life and love.

Told from three points of view there are many suspects in the murder mystery. The plot is cleverly constructed and until the end conceals as much as it reveals. The story explores relatable contemporary issues such as abuse and bullying.

The suspense builds slowly in the detailed plot and nothing is certain until the end.

An absorbing believable story.

Guest Post – Death of a Mermaid –  Lesley Thomson – Researching fact for fiction

Death of a Mermaid, is a murder mystery set in Newhaven, a port town in East Sussex. This took me into the world of trawlers, fish, Catholicism and a small animal hotel. When I had the idea, I knew little if nothing about any of these subjects.

I do a lot of research for my novels. Some of this is on the internet and I read books and articles. I talk with people who do the jobs I plan for my characters. For the sake of Jack Harmon, train driver in The Detective’s Daughter series, I rode in the cab of a London Underground train. Stella Darnell’s detective dad showed his little girl the horses at Hammersmith Police Stables. When I went, I mistook a row of loudhailers on a wall for hairdryers. All grist to the mill. In Kew Garden’s Herbarium are plant specimens – thrillingly called ‘dead materials’ – discovered by Charles Darwin. Had I stayed longer in the vast Victorian chamber with spiral staircases the naphthalene that nineteenth century botanists used to preserve specimens and in which they were still steeped, would have killed me. Great stuff.

For all this only a tenth of what I learn reaches the story.

On a hot spring day I visited a pets’ hotel called Creature Comforts. Many guests were out of their hutches basking in wire runs on the hotel’s lawn. There was Mr Bun the white rabbit, a lion-headed rabbit appropriately named Simba and regular residents the guinea pigs, Minty and Angelica. George, an ancient parrot preened himself on his perch. Intermittently he embarked on spelling out his name, always stopping ‘r’ before discriminately squawking, ‘I love you.

Jane the proprietor explained the hotel’s daily doings. On her guests’ behalf, she pens the owners postcards filled with news of how their creatures pass the time. The pets too are on their holidays. Jane hosts a variety of small animals and birds including hamsters – Dougal rolled past in a Perspex ball – cockatiels and budgies. Degus, Jane warned (Tinkerbell and Nibbles being examples) are tricky. At mealtimes, sniffing pastures new, they can shoot from their cages and whizzing out at top speed are nearly impossible to retrieve. As I scribbled in my notebook, I concocted the scene. An escaped degu – in Death of a Mermaid I call him Roddy – is the stuff of drama. As Jane explained the ins and outs of the hotel, I knew I had struck gold.

I was invited to Waitrose at dawn one morning. In my novel 40-year-old Freddie Power manages the fish counter in the supermarket’s Liverpool branch. In overalls and hairnet, I watched Steve the manager shovel ice onto a display shelf. With an artist’s flair, species by species, he arranged the sea’s produce, bass, salmon, prawns, scallops, cod. All garnished with lemons, parsley and samphire. Yesterday’s unsold fish goes at the front. Good detail. Freddy will do that.

In Death of a Mermaid Freddy, Toni and Mags had met at convent school in Newhaven during the eighties. The actual convent was evacuated to Hampshire in the second-world war after it was bombed by the Germans. In reality, it never returned to the town. In my novel, it’s still there. The girls call themselves the Mermaids after Disney’s The Little Mermaid. In service to my novel, I watched the film several times. Sebastian the Crab singing Under the Sea to Ariel remains an exasperating earworm!

My research is not only to gather facts. The inspiration and energy I get from  conversations, reading, ‘field trips’ to locations like Newhaven and it’s beaches fuel my writing as I draft and redraft the novel.

As I said, not all I discover goes into the novel. To reach the page, a fact must contribute to the plot. I’m afraid that George the parrot ended up on the cutting room floor.

Lesley Thomson

Lesley Thomson grew up in west London. Her first novel, A Kind of Vanishing, won the People’s Book Prize in 2010. Her second novel, The Detective’s Daughter, was a number 1 bestseller and sold over 500,000 copies.

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Posted in Blog Tour, Book Review, Crime, Mystery, Political Thriller, Suspense

Fatal Longevity by A.D. Pascal 4* #Review @lovebooksgroup #lovebookstours #Mystery #CrimeFiction #TechnoThriller #BlogTour #BookReview

Five people at the height of their success die suddenly in different parts of the world. A villa in Portofino and a terrace in Capri, both in Italy. A flight to Singapore. A beach in Santorini, Greece. A luxury resort on the Turks and Caicos Islands in the Caribbean. All five are filed as “death by natural causes”. No doubts, no links. But an intelligence analyst and his television journalist girlfriend suspect there is a connection. And follow a trail of unusual coincidences. Meanwhile, a brilliant businessman chases a dream: prolonging human life to over 150 years. And in perfect health. An ambitious goal. That entices the billionaires club: the privileged few who own over half of the world’s wealth. The human mind possesses hidden talents. You just need to know how to make the most of them. But longevity can prove fatal.

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I received a copy of this book from the author in return for an honest review.

My Thoughts…

An intriguing plot and a complex cast of characters make this an addictive techno-thriller. Five seemingly unrelated deaths attract the attention of a secret organisation. Is there a connection? Is there a ghost killer?

An enticing mix of action, conspiracy and intuitive investigation keep you absorbed in this fast-paced story. It’s a compelling read.

 

A.D. Pascal is an Italian writer. He lives in Milan. After graduating, he started his career as an economic journalist. Then worked as a marketing manager for multinationals.

He wrote several books on management as a ghostwriter.

 In his own words: “Writing has always been my passion and the base of my activities. My purpose was to present facts and figures in a stimulating way.

Later, I realized that I would also be able to create exciting works of fiction.

‘Fatal Longevity’ is the first of a series of books I am working on. They will all combine real events with just a pinch of imagination”.

Posted in Book Spotlight, Fantasy, Thriller

Carrion Graeme Cumming #BookSpotlight #promo @GraemeCumming63 @LoveBooksGroup #LoveBooksTours #Carrion

CHOOSE YOUR WORDS CAREFULLY. WORDS HAVE POWER.

A sheet of black filled his vision as hundreds of birds dived at the cottage, pointed beaks thrust forward. From this angle, he couldn’t see many of them striking it, but the few he did see held nothing back as they hammered into the shutter. The scale of the attack was beyond anything he’d seen or heard of. And bloodied casualties littered the ground: skulls shattered, wings broken, innards spilling from them. The fact that so many of them continued with the onslaught in spite of this filled him with even more dread.

Salin has always wanted an adventure and, when the opportunity presents itself, he grabs it with both hands, taking his friends along for the ride – whether they want to or not.

With strange lands come strange creatures that stand between them and their goal. And that goal is the same for someone else, a man who believes the prize is worth every sacrifice – especially when the sacrifices are made by others.

The future is about to change. But who for?

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Posted in Blog Blitz, Book Review, Historical Fiction, Humour, Literary Fiction, Literary Humour, Saga, Short stories

Sometimes In Bath Charles Nevin ​4*#Review @charlesnevin @rararesources #LiteraryFiction #Humour #HisFic #Bath #shortstories #guestpost #SometimesInBath #BlogTour #BookReview

Sometimes in Bath is a captivating story-tour through the city’s history conducted by Charles Nevin, the award-winning journalist, national newspaper columnist, author and humorist.

Beau Nash, Old King Bladud, young Horatio Nelson, Jane Austen’s Mr Bennet, the Emperor Haile Selassie and many more spring to life in episodes shimmering with the curious magic of Britain’s oldest resort and premier purveyor of good health, happiness and romance for the last 2000 years.

Each story has an afterword distinguishing the fiction from fact, adding enthralling historical detail – and giving visitors useful links to Bath’s many sights and fascinations Sometimes in Bath is warm, witty, wistful and will be loved by all who come to and from this most enchanting and enchanted of cities.

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Guest Post – Charles Nevin – Sometimes In Bath

How do you like your historical fiction? Romantic, an exciting escape into the consolations of the beguiling past? Realistic and instructive as well as entertaining? Or all of that?

I’m all for the all-in approach. And I have a great weakness for a touch of humour being thrown into the mix. Which is why one of my very favourite pieces of historical fiction is the marvellous ‘No Bed For Bacon,’ by Caryl Brahms and S J Simon, a wonderfully entertaining re-telling of Shakespeare and his life which clearly inspired the Oscar-winning Shakespeare In Love of Gwyneth Paltrow and Judi Dench fame.

So when I moved to Somerset and fell under that old Bath magic of healing waters, mythic origins, Roman bathing, Georgian larks and the finest cast list ever encountered of charmers, chancers, characters and charlatans, I didn’t need much encouragement to set them down in a series of stories set throughout this richest of histories. Step forward, to name but a few, Bladud, mythical founder and wannabe aviator; a Roman governor with gout; Alfred the Great; Sir John Harington, Elizabethan inventor of the water closet; Beau Nash, Georgian master of its revels; Dr Johnson; Horatio Nelson; Charles Dickens; the Emperor Haile Selassie of Ethiopia, in Bath in exile; and, oh, yes, Jane Austen’s Mr Bennet from Pride and Prejudice.

Thus, Sometimes In Bath; which was tremendous fun, and is, I hope tremendous fun, a happy canter through the city’s history, with some balancing poignancy and wistfulness mixed in.

But possibly not that realistic, which presented me with a problem. A career as a journalist entails many things: and one of them (believe it or not) is a compulsion to establish fact and differentiate it from the speculative and the unfounded. I’m one of those sad people who cannot watch any drama ‘based on’ historical events and characters without afterwards rushing to Wiki to find out how based and how true.

So how to combine this with my flights of Bath fantasy? Just expect readers to do their own research? That seemed a little unmannerly, a touch unfriendly, somehow ungenerous, mean.

The solution I hit upon was to follow each story with an afterword explaining what was fact and what was my invention. And, further, to set the story in its historical context.

This has the added benefit of building up a history of the great city chapter by chapter, with an interesting further dash of fascinating fact and anecdote. So you will learn of the theories of Bath’s great architect, John Wood, on magic and druids, and the significance of the layout of his crescent, circus and square, of the mysterious symbols decorating his buildings; of the origin of the Bath Bun and the end of the noted Bath dandy highwayman, Sixteen String Jack Rann; of how the great Roman bath was rediscovered in Victorian times; of John Betjeman and his fight to save fine Bath buildings, and the truth behind his famous poem, “In A Bath Teashop”; of how Haile Selassie regained his Ethiopian throne in a remarkable campaign of the Second World War; and of the city’s great goddess, Sul, begged in writing on little lead tablets by many a citizen in the time of Rome to curse thieves and vagabonds.

You will learn, too, where to see those tablets and find other places and features mentioned in the book: a veritable cornucopia of Bath, compiled with love and fascination and imagination, and written, as I say in the dedication, for all those come to and from the city. And why not you?

I received a copy of this book from the author in return for an honest review.

My Thoughts…

Bath holds a fascination for so many people, even those who have only passed through it. There is a wealth of history, coupled with colourful historical and literary characters embodied in this city. This book, captures many of them, in a humorous, knowledgeable way.

The characters, real or imaginary, are brought to life with astute observation and wit. The engagingly visual descriptions make imagining the characters and settings effortless. Each story completes with a narrative on the fact and fiction and where further historical knowledge is available.

This book is a delightfully different literary adventure to the ancient city of Bath.

Charles Nevin

Charles Nevin has written for, among others, the Guardian, the Independent on Sunday, the Daily Telegraph, The Times and Sunday Times, and the New York Times. Sometimes in Bath is his second book of fiction following Lost in the Wash with Other Things, a collection of short stories. He has also published three books of non-fiction – Lancashire, Where Women Die of Love, a paean to the neglected romance of his native county; The Book of Jacks, a history and lexicon of the name, and So Long Our Home, a history of Knowsley Road, the famous old ground of St Helens Rugby Football Club. Charles lives in an old watermill near Bath, which is ideally placed for his forays into the enchanting city.

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