#BlogTour Psychosis by Roger Bray

Today it is my pleasure to host the Blogtour for Psychosis by Roger Bray. It is a story of injustice and a heinous crime. Unfortunately to save one person the actual victim slips into obscurity, thereby leaving the actual fate of the victim unresolved.

About the Author

I have always loved writing; putting words onto a page and bringing characters to life. I can almost feel myself becoming immersed into their lives, living with their fears and triumphs. Thus, my writing process becomes an endless series of questions. What would she or he do, how would they react, is this in keeping with their character? Strange as it sounds, I don’t like leaving characters in cliffhanging situations without giving them an ending, whichever way it develops.

My life to date is what compels me to seek a just outcome, the good will overcome and the bad will be punished. More though, I tend to see my characters as everyday people in extraordinary circumstances, but in which we may all find our selves if the planets align wrongly or for whatever reason you might consider.

Of course, most novels are autobiographical in some way. You must draw on your own experiences of life and from events you have experienced to get the inspiration. My life has been an endless adventure. Serving in the Navy, fighting in wars, serving as a Police officer and the experiences each one of those have brought have all drawn me to this point, but it was a downside to my police service that was the catalyst for my writing.

Medically retired after being seriously injured while protecting a woman in a domestic violence situation I then experienced the other side of life. Depression and rejection. Giving truth to the oft said saying that when one door closes another opens I pulled myself up and enrolled in college gaining bachelor and master degrees, for my own development rather than any professional need. The process of learning, of getting words down onto the page again relit my passion for writing in a way that I hadn’t felt since high school.

So here we are, two books published and another on track.

Where it will take me I have no idea but I am going to enjoy getting there and if my writing can bring some small pleasure into people’s lives along the way, then I consider that I will have succeeded in life.

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Buy Psychosis

About the book

When Hazel disappears, the police are convinced that her husband, Alex, has killed her.

Three years after his conviction for murder, Alex and his sister, Alice, are devastated when their last appeal is rejected by the courts. With nowhere left to turn, Alice must start to put her life back together.

Living in limbo herself, Alice has a chance encounter with Steve, an ex-solider turned PI who offers to look at the case files. Steve is convinced that the prosecution’s case is shaky at best, but can he find out the truth before it’s too late for Alex?

Review

Psychosis is an example of forensics, police and the justice system fitting the evidence into the presented scenario, as opposed to the evidence leading them to the correct scenario, victim and perpetrator.

Alice is obsessed with getting her brother out of prison. She is convinced that he has been convicted of a crime he didn’t commit. She isn’t really concerned with what really happened to poor Hazel, and I think that is an important theme of the book. Often the media, the authorities and the general public are so invested in finding the culprit, that the victim becomes almost irrelevant. Instead of focusing on discovering the real where, what and why. everyone concentrates on the who they think did the deed. Lifelong sentences are handed out based on circumstantial and unsubstantiated evidence. A worrying theme in the justice system.

Alex often lacks any kind of emotional response to his predicament, and especially to the fact his wife has disappeared into thin air. No trace and no body seems to imply something more sinister than just an unhappy woman leaving for a new life and beginnings. I understand that a few years have gone by, but I would expect Alex to be a little more invested in discovering what has happened to her. Instead the driving force is his sister Alice, and later Steve, who just appears to like a mystery. A disappeared from the face of the earth kind of mystery.

The title may imply actions or crimes committed whilst someone has lost contact with their external reality, and is suffering from a severe mental disorder, but this is in fact the meticulous planning of a criminal who isn’t at their first gig. Is this a crime of opportunity, something more nefarious or merely a misunderstanding?

Bray does an excellent job of keeping the the identity of the perpetrator hidden behind red herrings and false trails of clues. It is a well-plotted crime with plenty of suspects along the way.  It is a story of injustice and a heinous crime. Unfortunately to save one person the actual victim slips into obscurity, thereby leaving the actual fate of the victim unresolved.

Bray keeps the reader invested in the outcome, despite the fact the characters often appear to forget the real victim is Hazel in this scenario. Luckily the outsider Steve can look beyond the hurt feelings and the fact Alex has already resigned himself to being a widow. I wonder if you will be able to guess the who and the why.

Buy Psychosis at Amazon Uk or go to Goodreads for any other retailer.

Come back on the 15th of April for the Cover Reveal and 24th of April for the #BlogTour for The Picture by Roger Bray!

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#BlogTour The Outer Circle by Ian Ridley

Today it is my turn on the BlogTour for The Outer Circle by Ian Ridley. It’s a passion piece with a variety of main characters connecting briefly, and yet each of them have their own story to tell within the confines of the bigger story.

About the Author

Ian is an award-winning football writer and the author of 10 books. A former chairman of Weymouth and St Albans City, he has been writing about football for over 30 years, having worked for various newspapers including the Daily Telegraph, The Independent on Sunday and The Observer.

Follow @IandRidley1 @Unbound_Digital Lookout for #TheOuterCircle on Twitter

Buy The Outer Circle

About the book

It’s the morning after the closing ceremony of the Olympic Games in London. The city is relaxed as rarely before, delighted with itself at how spectacularly it has hosted the uplifting event. The capital, however, will be rudely and brutally awoken from its self-congratulation by a shocking atrocity committed upon innocent Muslims at the London Central Mosque in Regent’s Park. How could it happen? Why did it happen? Is this a terrorist attack? Is it political? Or is it personal? THE OUTER CIRCLE is concerned with the culture of modern Britain. It follows five characters caught up in this tragic event and the aftermath of anxiety and reprisal as the answers dramatically emerge.

Review

Ridley likes to rattle cages, albeit in a subtle way with comments or opinions thrown in here and there. His intention is clearly to make the reader think about both sides of the argument, regardless of which controversial topic that is mentioned in the book.

He takes nice little pot-shots at the new era of media, and the way it is making the old media, such as newspapers, obsolete. At the way the police and journalists used to collaborate to inform the public, whereas now it is more about the media and police public relations outmanoeuvering each other to the finish line. News has become about sensationalism instead of the truth.

The Outer Circle is like a passion piece with a variety of main characters connecting briefly, and yet each of them have their own story to tell within the confines of the bigger story.

What really spoke to me, and not in a good way, was the reaction Tom had to the rape. Unfortunately this is how many men react. They make it all about their ego, their disgust and the way their lives have been changed by the rapes of their girlfriends or wives. It’s just so narcissistic and caveman-esque, with no regard for the victim at all.

The Outer Circle is a snapshot of the world we live in. The 21st century is still about religious wars, intolerance and lack of understanding. Nothing has really changed over the centuries except the setting for the battles. It is also about compassion, kindness and human interactions.

Ridley puts the focus on the humane element of the inhumane atrocities, which may sound bizarre, but it is more or less about squeezing that one good moment out of many bad ones. The glass isn’t half empty or half full, it can be refilled over and over again. In essence that is the message the author wants to convey or at least the message I received.

It’s about second chances, bad choices and the crossroads we come to in life. It is also about the reactions before, during and after terror attacks. Survivor’s guilt combined with relief, and yet also with disbelief at the horror of the situation.

Ridley confronts his readers with uncomfortable truths, and then invites them in to dissect the controversial scenarios and their reactions to them. It’s a contemporary read with an element of crime with a heavy emphasis on the unpredictability of human nature.

Buy The Outer Circle at Amazon Uk or go to Goodreads or for any other retailer.

Exhibit Alexandra by Natasha Bell

exhibitThis is a stroke of genius in so many ways, and it throws up some interesting questions about ethics and morality. Also about what society expects from women.

Should art be cruel? Are artists allowed free license to create any piece of work they consider to be art? Even if it causes another person pain?

What shines through without any question is the egomaniacal mindset of the performance artist. Where no betrayal, emotion or action is safe from the narcissistic personality of such an artist.

To be quite frank I’m not sure whether the artist or the audiences who lap these so-called performances up are worse. It is all so en vogue, pretentious and the emperor’s new clothes.

Events or performance art such as a bunch of naked people playing tag in a concentration camp gas chamber. Rhythm 0 by Marina Abramović, a performance during which she placed a rose, a feather, a knife, a gun, and more in front of her. Visitors were invited to poke, prod or do anything they liked to her with the objects. Towards the end of the day the interactions became more violent, she and her clothes were cut and someone even put the gun to her head. Or Mao Sugiyama who underwent elective surgery to remove his genitals, then had them cooked and served at a so-called upscale dinner party. Five paying guests were then allowed to taste them.

These are just a few examples, and regardless of what the artist says their intention is, the convoluted inspiration and the supposed results at the end of the art exhibit, some people think it is a step too far. I count myself as one of those people, especially when you have to hurt others to make your point. Not all performance art is art, the majority of it is just inflated egos seeking attention and wanting to be noticed by the masses.

Alexandra does what is expected of her. She is the doting mother and wife, and does everything to make everyone else happy. She does what most women do, she takes a step back when it comes to her own desires, so her husband can succeed in his career. Society expects it and Marc expects it too.

Her need for the extreme outlet isn’t entirely hidden, she makes really crass decisions and has no problem crossing boundaries, because she doesn’t think there are any. If she did those things with my daughters, even as a friend I wouldn’t have any qualms about calling the police or social services. Apparently the rules don’t apply to Alex, which is probably one of reasons she ends up gone. She puts herself into dangerous situations, and yet never expects any consequences.

I enjoyed the conundrum this story represents, and the discussions it will generate.

Bell isn’t afraid to confront her readers with the ugly truth. Personally I think the premise and the title are extremely clever, in fact the connection between the two didn’t even dawn on me till I had read quite a bit of the story. It’s an accusation and a dissection of society at the same time. What lengths will we go to entertain and to be entertained? Where is the cut-off point? When does exhibition equate to entertainment, and when is it a crime?

This is an innovative read, a cruel read, but it is also an eye-opener.

Buy Exhibit Alexandra at Amazon Uk or go to Goodreads for any other retailer.

Follow @byTashB @MichaelJBooks

#BlogTour The Devil’s Dice by Roz Watkins


It’s my turn on the BlogTour for The Devils Dice by Roz Watkins. The author combines her deathly scenarios with a controversial topic to create debate and a compelling read.

About the Author

Roz Watkins is the author of the DI Meg Dalton crime series, which is set in the Peak District where she lives with her partner and a menagerie of demanding animals. Her first book, THE DEVIL’S DICE, will be published by HQ (HarperCollins) in March 2018. It was shortlisted for the CWA Debut Dagger Award, and has been optioned by ITV Studios.

Roz originally studied engineering and natural sciences at Cambridge, before studying patent law. She was a partner in a firm of patent attorneys in Derby, but this has absolutely nothing to do with there being a dead one in her first book. In her spare time, Roz clicker-trains her dog and horse, and likes to walk in the Peak District, scouting out murder locations.

Follow @RozWatkins @HQStories @HarperCollinsUK

Visit rozwatkins.co.uk

Buy The Devil’s Dice

About the book

Detective Inspector Meg Dalton has recently returned to her Peak District roots, when a man’s body is found near The Devil’s Dice – a vast network of caves and well-known local suicide spot. The man’s initials and a figure of the Grim Reaper are carved into the cave wall behind his corpse, but bizarrely, the carvings have existed for over one hundred years.

The locals talk about a mysterious family curse that started in the times of the witch trials, and Meg finds it increasingly hard to know who to trust. Even her own mother may be implicated.

For Meg, the case is a chance to prove herself in a police force dominated by men, one of whom knows a lot more about her past than she’d like, and is convinced she’s not fit for the role. In a race against time, Meg finds her own life at risk as she fights to stop the murderer from killing again.

Guest Post by Roz Watkins

My inspiration behind DI Meg Dalton

People talk about strong female characters, but I just wanted my main character, Meg, to be like my female friends – principled and tough when challenged, but likely to choose a nice cuppa and a digestive biscuit over a fight with a deranged killer if given the choice. Of course, Meg isn’t always given the choice.

I knew that as a woman in a male-dominated profession, Meg would need to be pretty tough, but on the inside she’s suffering from imposter syndrome, like a lot of women. Although she sometimes lacks confidence, I tried to inject her with a wry sense of humour that will hopefully appeal to both sexes. The friends I’ve made in the Derbyshire police force often deal with grim and horrific scenes, and when you have to shake maggots out of your turn-ups on a regular basis, I guess you either see the funny side or fall apart.

Meg is a bit of a crusader at heart, and is often forced by the plot to champion causes that are close to me. My partner once described her as a younger, more kick-ass version of me with DM boots and a badge. I’m not sure if that was meant to be a compliment or an insult! She’s actually not naturally very kick-ass – and she’s a bit fat and has a limp – but she has a habit of getting into situations where she has no choice. (Her writer is a sadist.)

I was encouraged not to give Meg dependents, because readers get horribly stressed wondering who is looking after the dog or the children when the hero’s off slaying villains. But Meg loves animals so I gave her a relatively independent, overweight cat called Hamlet, who can now never die. Other authors have warned me never to kill a cat, and I don’t think I could bear to do it anyway, although I have no trouble killing off people. (Most of my victims to far seem to be middle-aged men. I’m not sure what that says about me, but I get a bit fed up of all the beautiful, dead young women that crop up in some crime fiction.)

One of my big annoyances with some TV police dramas is the necessity for their female characters to chase villains around in the latest pair of 3 inch Jimmy Choos, so I knew I didn’t want to make Meg into some super-glamorous detective. Hopefully she is a more realistic interpretation of a female police officer. I did want her to be bright, and was delighted when one reviewer described her as a “Geek Warrior Queen”. I couldn’t have wished for a better description.

Review

I was amused by the juxtaposition of a crime committed in a cave in the middle of the Peak District in a solitary environment, and the weapon of choice being death by cake. Oh the sweet irony. If you’re going to die then cake is the way to go.

Watkins tackles a controversial issue in The Devil’s Dice, and when I say controversial it’s because it is generating a lot of discussion, even though it should probably go without saying. In the UK there is a campaign called Dignity in Dying, and they and their supporters, have been advocating for a change in the law.

People and/or patients who are terminally ill or suffering from an incurable degenerative disease should be allowed to choose to end their pain and suffering with the help of medical institutions and doctors. Euthanasia, assisted suicide or physician assisted suicide. Instead they are forced to go overseas to countries where it has been made legal, and die alone in strange surroundings without the comfort of home or family members.

On top of the costs of a foreign assisted suicide any person travelling with the patient has to adhere to certain rules and regulations, so they are not charged with assisted manslaughter when they return to their home country. It is tragic, especially when you take into consideration how many countries have already worked assisted dying into their legal system.

DI Meg Dalton  is forced to consider this very question in her own family. Her mother is caring for her grandmother, and both of them struggle with the care and the fact her grandmother would rather die than be kept in a state of constant misery and pain.

Watkins explores both sides of this contentious issue, which includes the religious argument of it being against God’s will. Suicide is a sin. It weakens society’s view on the sanctity of life, aids the slippery slope towards involuntary euthanasia and getting rid of undesirables or the fact  it might not be in the patient’s best interests. Valid points of view, but none of them take the lucid arguments of people into consideration, who are quite capable of making decisions for themselves.

Watkins presents a main character who is vulnerable, actually pretty darn accident prone and always in the middle of some kind of violent altercation. She is driven by anxiety and fears, and has to deal with sexism and harassment at work on a daily basis. Overall more of an anti-heroine, which makes her more meaty.

It will be interesting to see where the author takes Meg, given a little more direction. Eventually those anxieties and her past will have to be dealt with. The lone wolf with flaws combined with unusual scenarios and deaths, what’s not to like?

Buy The Devil’s Dice at Amazon Uk or go to Goodreads for any other retailer.

#BlogTour The Dark Lake by Sarah Bailey

It’s my turn on the Blogtour for this well-written thriller, The Dark Lake by Sarah Bailey. The main character is bound to ruffle some feathers with her destructive mentality and obsessive need to hide her secrets, and yet the gal still manages to solve crimes like a boss.

About the Author

Sarah’s first novel, The Dark Lake, was published in Australia by Allen & Unwin in May 2017 and in the USA and Canada in October.

Sarah lives in Melbourne, Australia and has two young sons. She has fifteen years experience in the advertising industry and is currently a director at creative projects company Mr Smith.

Sarah’s second book, Into The Night, featuring Detective Gemma Woodstock, will be published in 2018.

Follow @sarahbailey1982 @AtlanticBooks

Visit sarahbaileyauthor.com

Buy The Dark Lake

About the book

A hot summer. A shocking murder. A town of secrets, waiting to explode…A beautiful young teacher has been murdered, her body found in the lake, strewn with red roses. Local policewoman Detective Sergeant Gemma Woodstock pushes to be assigned to the case, concealing the fact that she knew the murdered woman in high school years before.But that’s not all Gemma’s trying to hide. As the investigation digs deeper into the victim’s past, other secrets threaten to come to light, secrets that were supposed to remain buried. The lake holds the key to solving the murder, but it also has the power to drag Gemma down into its dark depths…

Review

Gemma is simultaneously the protagonist and in an odd way also the antagonist, and she is definitely her own worst enemy. Her traumatic past has left a trail of destruction and bad choices, which doesn’t seem to be easing up any time soon. She seems to actively look for ways to destroy any semblance of a happy life she has, and the reason for that is unresolved emotional trauma.

I think the charm, well maybe the snake oil medicine charm, are the two sides of Gemma. On one hand she is the relentless police officer with a good nose for solving crimes, on the other hand she is still the broken down teenager feeling guilty about the mistakes she has made.

When the body of a young woman is found in a nearby lake Gemma finds it difficult to separate her professional and private life. Instead of presenting her own connections to the case she makes a point of being furtive and evasive. This puts herself and her family in danger.

After a few chapters my initial thought was ‘who is Sarah Bailey and why haven’t I ever read any of her books’ only to discover that The Dark Lake is her first novel. I am certain this is just the start of a very successful writing career. Bailey is a natural storyteller, the words flow well and the characters are strong enough to make a mark without eclipsing the well executed plot.

It isn’t your atypical crime or main character, which makes it a breath of fresh air in the sea of crime books. The main character is bound to ruffle some feathers with her destructive mentality and obsessive need to hide her secrets, and yet the gal still manages to solve crimes like a boss. Where is Bailey going to take her messed up crime solving female detective, who has a penchant for mistakes and attracts trouble on a daily basis? I’m looking forward to finding that out.

Buy The Dark Lake at Amazon Uk or go to Goodreads for any other retailer.

Published by Atlantic Books 1st March 2018.

Preorder Into The Night (sequel to The Dark Lake – pub date 1.Nov. 2018)

Force of Nature by Jane Harper

force of natureThis is how you do modern crime without the vicious twist. Harper plots like an Agatha, lures you in with the vivid imagery of the location and keeps you dangling on a string for the solution. It’s well-plotted, has a steady pace and the solution isn’t predictable.

Although Aaron Falk is the lead detective and main character Harper doesn’t let him overpower the plot, which is a good thing. Sometimes the personal problems and attitude of a main character can completely consume an intelligent and captivating plot.

Five women go on a hike into the Australian bush, but only four come back out. What seems like an innocent exercise in team-building becomes a battle to survive the elements, and not to knock the living daylights out of each other.

Team-building is neither here nor there when you can’t stand the people you are supposed to work together with as a team. So when difficulties arise you are more likely to turn on each other instead of helping each other to achieve a common goal.

Alice isn’t really very popular with her colleagues. She looks out for herself in life and her career. She is the grown-up version of a mean girl. There are plenty of reasons to dislike Alice in general, there are plenty of reasons for the other four women to dislike Alice, so when they come back and she doesn’t the suspicion falls on all of them equally.

Harper is adept at giving the reader the sense of being right there in the bush with those women. Every tree looks the same, every path looks like the one before, and it is easy to feel as if you’re being swallowed alive by nature. This is an excellent example of how dangerous the Australian bush is, despite civilisation only being a spit away in this case.

The author writes a captivating read, and it certainly keeps the reader riveted until the end.

Buy Force of Nature at Amazon Uk or go to Goodreads for any other retailer.

Follow @janeharperautho @LittleBrownUK

Genuine Fraud by E.Lockhart

genuine fraudThere are definitely comparisons to be drawn to The Talented Mr Ripley, just with main characters of the opposite gender.

I think at one point I lost the plot and wasn’t sure who was pretending to be whom. It was a wee bit confusing at times, which is probably what made this a less enjoyable read. Too disjointed, and not enough clarification.

We begin at the end and return to the beginning to understand how Jules and Imogen get to know each other, and how the two of them end up the way they do. The longing for a connection and a friendship leaves one of them dead and the other hiding.

It’s a story of lies, delusions and about the social status of each girl. How the desire to belong and be friends becomes an obsession, which culminates in an uncontrollable internal anger.

Personally I think the story was flighty and underdeveloped. It lacked clarity, and the characters were weak versions of what they should have been. It could have been so much more, despite the similarities to the aforementioned book.

Buy Genuine Fraud at Amazon UK or go to Goodreads for any other retailer.

Follow @elockhart  @BonnierZaffre